Thursday, September 4, 2008

Place your bets

While walking to an interview, I found these folks gambling for change a few blocks from the Capitolio building. I took the top picture. A guy who was hanging around in the general area took the bottom picture after I handed him my camera. (Ah, yes, I am a trusting soul).


Manuel A.Tellechea said...

It's the Cuban people who should be wary of you. In fact, their expressions say that they are.

alongthemalecon said...

Thanks for visiting, Manuel.
Naturally, people are wary about being seen gambling in Cuba.
Gambling was banned in Cuba after Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries took power in 1959. The mob bosses left, but many of the Cubans who worked with them stayed behind.
Now, though, time is taking its toll.
Meyer Lansky's driver, Armando Jaime Casielles, died of lung cancer in February 2007. Few knew about it until the Associated Press reported the news in May 2007.
I interviewed Meyer Lansky's chef, Gilberto Smith, a few years ago. He was president of Cuba's culinary association. I was a delightful guy. Funny, too. He complained about his wife's cooking.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

You should be wary yourself of "Meyer Lansky's chef" or Hemingway's favorite prostitute, or any of the other "interesting personalities" that you may be introduced to in Castro's Disneyworld for the gullible and historically-challenged.

Here's a little something that you don't know (because, of course, they wouldn't tell you this in Cuba): Before the Revolution, the Cuban Gastronomical Workers' Retirement Fund owned the Havana Hilton and leased it to the Hilton corporation. Castro, of course, confiscated the Hilton (from Cuban workers) and now leases it himself to a Spanish hotelier. (He also leases the workers).

Of course, you do know that Castro outlawed all independent unions and abolished the right to organize unions in Cuba? I mean, whoever heard of slaves striking for better wages and living conditions at their master's plantation?

alongthemalecon said...

Interesting. I appreciate the feedback and information. When I was in Cuba, many foreign companies had to hire their employees from a pool of laborers that had been screened by the government. The foreign companies paid the Cuban government, say, $400 per month, and the government passed along only a small part of that - perhaps 5 percent - to the worker. Boy, if I were a worker in Cuba, I don't think I'd like that arrangement. The foreign companies I was familiar with also paid the workers a separate much higher wage and gave the money directly to the workers. Tracey

leftside said...

As I am sure you know Tracey, hotel and other hospitality workers in Cuba already make a better living than most other Cubans. I doubt they are complaining about their arrangement. That the Cuban Government has negotiated an additional fee that goes to fund public services is something to celebrate, not decry.

alongthemalecon said...

I agree, I doubt they're complaining, either.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Yeah, who needs unions when you can get tips from foreigners.

I wonder how much foreigners "tip" Fidel?