Another Cuba is possible


Cuba is on the verge of economic collapse. On the edge of a new "special period," like the one he suffered during the 1990s due to the fall of the Soviet empire. The Venezuelan crisis has left him almost without fuel supply. Food and medicines are lacking, all kinds of basic products; the majority of Cubans live pending what they "get", from what reaches the subsidized public market: chicken, vinegar, detergent, pork & mldr;

In Cuba, hardly anything is produced, and therefore import needs grow. Sugar is even imported: "A disgrace for Cubans, but a blessing for cooks," the pastry chef told me. The tourism industry begins to be in crisis. Nobody expects 4.75 million tourists to visit the country this year, as happened in 2018. Trump It has banned cruises, which contributed 17% of visitors, and the fall of European tourism is notable.

The US threats to large hotel companies – 75% of the 4 and 5 star rooms are managed by Melia and Iberostar, with 300 million annual investment in Cuba – begin to have consequences.

Love and hate

The outer block serves as an excuse for the inner block. Despite this there is a strange relationship of love and hate between many Cubans and the United States. It has always existed, even before independence. There are many Cubans who curse Donald Trump, but there are so many or more who wish they could emigrate to the United States, where many have relatives. Few people still have some hope in the future of their country.

Just stroll through the squares, streets and alleys of Old Havana, with many of its centuries-old buildings restored under the direction of the Official Historian of Havana, Eusebio Leal Spengler, to verify the seriousness of the crisis of the only currency generating sector. The same applies to Santiago and Holguin, Vinales and Pinar del Rio, Camaguey and Cienfuegos, Trinidad or Cojimar, Ciego de Avila or Santa Clara & mldr;

The chose from
Trump closed
abrupt the
process to
favor of
dialogue that
had started

The tourist crisis affects all Cubans and can be more damaging to the 'self-employed', But the difference between them and the rest of the population is growing, with a huge salary or income gap: no matter how modest your business, any 'self-employed' earns a lot more than the better paid employees, and in many cases receives help from your expatriate relatives. Only they easily access the black market, "solve" what they need and their presence is noted in 'palates' and in good hotels, where until a few years ago Cubans could not even enter, except if they were part of the' Castro's nomenklatura.

A change that does not come

In all Cuban cities, one is surprised to find cars with 60 or more years old – Chevrolet, Oldmobile, Dodge, Pontiac … – next to not so old Soviet Ladas, Czech Skodas and other more modern cars, but all with 30 or more years of existence –Peugeot, Seat …–, all of them restored and maintained piece by piece. Tourist coaches, bicycles and motorcycles, cars, horses, bicytaxis, cocotaxis, buses, shared taxis, Chinese trucks converted into buses & mldr;

While the "sun and beach" tourism is set in the paradisiacal Caribbean beaches of the keys or in Varadero, there are many Cubans who want a change that does not come. Few opposing voices are trying to make themselves heard. Voices such as those of the Ladies in White, blogger Yoani Sanchez, political dissident Rosa Maria Paya, or artistic activist Tania Bruguera & mldr;

The authorization of the use of mobile phones in 2008, the announced early implementation of 3G, the extension of the Internet and also of Wi-Fi, despite restrictions and censorship, expand these critical voices. Castroism opposes them with its cult of an official history and an uncritical culture, while maintaining, maintaining and protecting its propagandists, such as the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez, while marginalizing or trying to silence, among others, the singer-songwriter too Pablo Milanes, to the actor Jorge Perugorria or the best living Cuban narrator, Leonardo Padura, from whom it is not easy to buy a book in your country.

A broken country

As with so many other things in Cuba, one would say that the whole country "is broken" or "under repair." There are some small positive changes but they are still insufficient. Trump's election abruptly closed the change in favor of the dialogue and negotiation he had begun to travel through Barack Obama. Only from the return to those positions will another Cuba be possible based on the national reconciliation of interior and exterior. It is a commitment to a transition agreed and pragmatic, orderly and peaceful, based on dialogue and transaction. No winners or losers. Hard yes. But not impossible.

Meanwhile, many Cubans go out with their umbrella or parasol, which works for both. For what it could happen.

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