Sunday, August 1, 2010

Most Cubans worry about economic survival, not politics

These kids were attending a free concert near the Malecon in Havana.

If you're headed to Cuba and want to find disenchanted youth, shortages of medicine and people stealing from the workplace, that's what you'll find.
But if you want to find happy, smiling children on the street, you'll find that, too, along with talented musicians and artists, educated teen-agers, gifted athletes and more.
What you find in Cuba depends, at least in part, on what you're looking for.
During my last trip to the island, I wanted to understand more about civil society in Cuba, so I interviewed many of the country's top dissidents.
I also talked to Cuban government supporters, analysts and others.
A few quick impressions:
  • Dissident groups agree on the need for change, but differ over how to make it happen.
  • Government security agents have dissident groups under constant surveillance. No surprise here. The agents tail Yoani Sanchez and her husband Reinaldo Escobar when they go into the streets. Agents take photos of the blogger's meetings with visitors.
  • Agents also carefully monitor Ladies in White marches, videotaping and photographing both the demonstrators and anyone else who joins in to observe or march.
  • Most ordinary Cubans worry about economic survival, not politics or freedom of expression or human rights. The clamor for an expansion of basic freedoms that you read about on blogs and in cyberspace has not translated to any kind of big, visible civic movement on the streets.
  • Many Cubans routinely complain about the government, but aren't optimistic that they have any power to bring about change.
  • People are more open and outspoken than they were five years ago, but in many circles there is still great pressure to tow the political line.
  • The cost of living is extraordinarily high, considering the low wages. Many Cubans have trouble getting around Havana and other cities. I spoke to some Cubans who had not ever traveled outside the towns of their birth because of transportation and economic difficulties. I find that remarkable and sad.
  • Some Cubans are perfectly happy, despite the country's ragged economy. But their stories rarely make the news in the increasingly polarized debate over Cuba.

7 comments:

bonzai said...

They need to find out where those kids live and cut their cable. Dicey gang signs from Miami.

易建佑青 said...

Make hay while the sun shines...................................................

brianmack said...

Perhaps I'm alone here but these kids
look genuinely happy, well fed and
clothed. I know this isn't a propaganda photo but how is it that
a country this poor can turn out kids who look like they're enjoying life to the max? I pray that Cubans living in the USA and those who remained can reconcile. They are
great people, resilient and loving.
The kids in this picture reflect that.

賴成陳韻邦v貞 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

承王蓁 said...

你所貫徹的形象,你喜愛它有多少百分比,你就幸福多少百分比................................................

Allen Batabano said...

That's why they have guys like you!

I can't wait for my first trip to Havana. They'll see a gringo dancing salsa, rumba, mambo, cha-cha... I could probably take off my hat and make a small living off of the appeal :)

文王廷 said...

多謝美味的心靈雞湯......................................................