A good friend of mine just returned from a quick trip to Cuba where she was assessing the potential environmental impact there of the Gulf oil spill.
She has been to Cuba many times before, often working with progressive causes and always in solidarity with the Cuban people (and sometimes in solidarity with the revolution).
This background makes her note to me that follows all the more important and telling.
She has allowed me to post it here at El Yuma anonymously.
Your comments are welcome.
June 10, 2010
I've been back for a couple of days now and wanted to give you an update on the trip. Now that I'm back and objectives were accomplished, I am able to post photos on FB and the like.
The trip was wonderful for all the reasons you are aware of and painful given how things have changed since I last visited in 2002/2003. I am hoping to get your more informed opinion on my quick observations.
The younger generation seemed very disconnected to the revolution as they see that education will not yield the economic benefits they want. People have held on because they respect Fidel, but apparently there is little respect for Raul. No one could tell me what he is doing, who is in charge, and what the plan is for the future.
Everything seemed to be the same, if not better, upon first glance, with timed traffic lights, expanded Havana Vieja, some new hotels, etc., but more investigation showed that there has been a shift. Crime rates are up and the streets now have cameras everywhere.
People of all ages are complaining, but the numbers of youth who have dropped out in a "fuck the revolution" sentiment has risen. I've never seen so many rockeros and goths drunk off their asses not just along the malecon but also in large groups in other parts of the city.
On this trip I went to a reggeaton (state owned) club on the outskirts of town and watched young people buy cocaine from the bathroom attendant--maybe that was happening before but I never witnessed it. I went to another place in Miramar and thought I was in a high end club in Argentina---the sinewy, model like women in Paris/New York fashion and make up. Where did that money come from?
The introduction of the CUC currency has driven costs up so much that meat and toothpaste are inaccessible even to people who could shop in dollar stores before. Everyday another woman approached me to buy her soap or cooking oil. In the past, when this has happened, the requests were not for such staple items.
Even as we watch the results of oil spill in the Gulf, Cuba is on the verge of beginning their own off shore drilling. The freshly painted signs reading Venceremos y Hasta La Victoria have never seemed more absurd.
I'm going to hope it was all in my imagination.
Ah but the people--still able to laugh at it all, still maintaining a strong sense of community, still living in the moment despite having little control over their fate.
I was able to see Mxxxx and Sxxxx. It was Mxxxx's 60th birthday so I took them both to the fancy restaurant at the Nacional. Despite having lived just around the corner all these years, they had never eaten there before. They were like two little kids inside. We spoke of you constantly.
So we wait and see. As I head to ground zero for all things anti Castro (Miami), it will be interesting, if not horrifying to watch Cuba's history unfold.
Are my concerns warranted?