A country I really wanted to visit was Cuba, and I liked it very much, especially its nature, a very beautiful country, but I came here very desolate and sad, how the Cubans live, with a salary that goes from 5 € for a pensioner to 30 € for a lawyer or a doctor, in Cuba there are two currencies, the Cuban pesos, which are what they receive from what the fidelist regime calls salary, and the convertible pesos (Cuc) that tourists use, the dollar is penalised with 20% and the €uro is exchanged in the street 1 * 1 Cuc, the cars that exist are taxis, either from the time of colonialism, ramshackle Americans, or Ladas, almost all are taxis because a new car is unthinkable to buy with a salary of 10 € or 20 that a wage earner earns, all the cars are 98% taxis and 2% private cars, but the state of the vehicle is degrading, the tyres worn out, the taxi full of smoke from the exhaust pipe, the windows broken and dirty, the doors fall off, the seats with very large holes, only a minority are in good condition etc… The bus transport is very precarious or old and ramshackle, some of them are imported or rather donated from France and even though they are very old they have not yet changed the exit or entrance signs are in French and like the buses that came from Italy the signs are in Italian, the transport in Havana could still be said to be bad but it does exist, but outside the capital there is no public transport, so the poor Cubans, who could be farm workers or nurses or doctors or even soldiers, because I have seen it with my own eyes, they hitchhike, both to go to work and to go home, and as private transport is minimal, because with 20 dollars a month you can’t buy anything, the transport is state transport, the poor hitchhikers have to wait hours and hours for a truck to pass, a state taxi that they are obliged to stop or any other public transport, so they spend more hours on the roads than working, the houses where they live in the cities is degrading, the electrical installations are like in the 40’s in Spain, I have seen many dogs, but all of them are sick and mangy, the people are desperate, they can only live on the tips they receive from tourists, and begging, in the countryside things are a little better, The land belongs to the state but the cultivation is shared 50% with the state and they have to sell to cooperatives that also belong to the state. The cattle cannot be slaughtered for food as they belong to the state, and if someone thinks of slaughtering a cow, they go directly to prison for many years, In Cuba there are 11 million people where 1 million are policemen, the Cubans are completely controlled and nobody thinks of talking about politics with a foreigner like me for example, if there is the presence of another Cuban, in an excursion that I made in Cuba the taxi driver guide explained me his life condition, which is this, he had a father who died 4 months ago, the mother was paralytic, the wife had no work because she had disorders, the wife had no job because she had disorders, she had no job because she had a disability, the wife had no work because she had hormonal disorders, and she has a 6 year old girl, she would like to have more children, but it is impossible given the precarious economy, well, this young Cuban had to work every day of the week, because if he does not work he does not get a salary, with 20 dollars a month he has to support the mother, the wife, the daughter and himself, this is impossible, This is the reality of the Cuban people, and without the possibility of being able to go and work abroad, the first day I was in Havana and I didn’t know the Cuban reality, I was very annoyed by the begging and the perspicacity of the Cubans to have access to some tips, going through the streets of Havana is impossible without the intervention of their needy people, examples: a normally old man comes and asks you if you want a newspaper, this newspaper is not a normal newspaper it is a communist party newspaper, they give it to him, he gives it to you for free but when you take it he tells you that he has not eaten and if you can give him some help, another they ask you where you are, if you answer you are already lost they do not let you go and at the end you have to give a Cuban peso or something like that, requests if one wants a taxi or a Coco (taxi on motorbike) taxi on bicycle (tricycle)or taxi on tartana, This is constant, and can be overwhelming because you are harassed hundreds of times every two or three minutes, another example is a woman with a baby in her arms, asking for food for her child or a disabled person asking for food, in the John Lennon park I took a photo next to the statue of John Lennon, then a man came and put John Lennon’s glasses on him so that we could take a photo of him, so that he could have his dollar for a tip, all these things can be overwhelming, but understandable when you know that you have to give a Cuban peso or something like that, The problem is that not many people know the reality of this problem and this can be frustrating for them, the prices in Cuba are not very high so you have to think about giving a Euro or a dollar tip to all the people, they are very grateful for it because it is the only source of income, the problem is when the person is a cook, office worker or someone like that who is not in direct contact with tourism, the current reality in Cuba is the legalisation of slavery, of misery, of frustration, of desperation, Cubans are very kind people, very open, but their survival is threatened with extinction, it is very difficult, an internal revolt because there is a lot of control, and a lot of fear, even some Cubans have told me that the only solution is to shoot themselves in the head, having said that…. I think it’s all said….a quick and very superficial analysis is the following after the 1959 Revolution where Fidel gave back to the Cuban people what was theirs, the regime repressed the Cuban people with a demagogic and communist dictatorship and distributed poverty and misery that today after so many years the dictatorship does not find any solution, before there was an agriculture and industry today totally non-existent, One of the many causes that I believe has done Cuba a lot of harm, was the Soviet Union, a country that was the supplier, and that supplied Cuba with all agricultural and industrial products, the Cubans did not even have to cultivate the land or set up industries. The Soviet Union did this for two reasons, one was because they wanted a communist country almost at the centre of the U.S.A. and this hurt the Americans and the other because they wanted to build a war arsenal in Cuba, the atomic one did not work out well, and after a few years when the Soviet Union was dissolved, all Soviet aid ceased, and this meant that now in Cuba there is neither agriculture nor industry and everything is state owned, this is a very quick analysis but I think it is totally true, what can be done for these people? …. Well, I don’t know… there must be some strategy, but I don’t know, what I do know is that it is deplorable to see and not be able to do anything, my problem is that I love these people, these people, and I would like freedom so that they are no longer slaves of an evil, cruel and despot regime and that they see their citizens go hungry, misery and calamity and without any future.
For a free Cuba
Enric Giné I Orengo