Cuba, 2014

Featured image for a blog post about my visit to Cuba in 2014

Travel To The Eastern Tip Of Cuba

After returning home from my first visit to Cuba in 2003 I often thought about going back for another visit. I had such a great time there and left with a real appreciation for the country’s people and society.

It was much less easy to hold the country’s political system in esteem. Fidel Castro brought in some very positive reforms; free health care, free schooling (including university), and a push for universal literacy. He also banned the racial segregation that his predecessor, General Batista, had instigated in order to assuage the sensibilities of American tourists from Jim Crow states in the South. But all that was half a century ago. All Fidel’s done since is deny Cubans their right to free and open governance and ensure that the economy remained mired in poverty with state planning of all industries. Politics aside, everyone I met in Cuba was personable and honest.

I had also been impressed with the fact that there were so many accomplished artists and musicians in Cuba. Their artistry enriched my memories of Cuba. It was a joy to tour through Cuban art galleries and studios and see work of genuine talent. Public performances of lively Cuban music are common and it’s always fun to stop and listen for a while.

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Cuba, 2003

Cuba stands apart from the rest of the world because of the American trade embargo. On America’s doorstep but shut off from formal contact with it, Cuba has been sheltered from the juggernaut of American corporatism. Of course that means that the country has also been spared from the jobs and investment money that goes along with that.

Given Cuba’s existence as one of the last Marxist states it’s easy to think of it in political terms before you visit. Once you get there however you forget all that and just enjoy yourself. I found the Cuban people to be very friendly and easy to like. All my interactions with them were pleasant and cordial.

It’s common in many poor countries for a certain subset of the populace to look upon tourists as easy marks to be conned or cajoled out of money. Cuba is almost entirely free of that. In my experience there no one expected to get hand outs from foreign visitors.

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