Thursday, August 02, 2007

Back from Cuba

The vast majority of the two million or so tourists who visit Cuba every year return home empty handed, except for a box of cigars, a CD of old boleros and the obligatory Che Guevara t-shirt.

Some tourists, however, return home with a new understanding of what ordinary Cubans have to go through daily to keep afloat - and why.

Take Kate, for instance.

She is a London-based blogger who describes herself as a 29-year-old writer ("sometimes I get paid"), who spent four weeks in Cuba recently.

“Before I visited, I held the usual Western leftie yes-it's-not-perfect-but-the-blame-lies-with-the USA point of view," Kate writes. “After spending a month there, however, my opinions have radically changed.

“I still think that America's handling of Cuba has been completely counter-productive, and its embargo has condemned many to suffer needlessly. But the Cuban leadership can't escape responsibility for the horrendous conditions in which many people live.

“When the Cuban people discover - as, at some point, they unavoidably will - how the world has changed in the decades their country has been sequestered, their anger will be immense.”

Read more of Kate here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Luis,
Thanks for linking to my blog; I was wondering where the Cuban-related posters were coming from!
I'd have appreciated knowing you were writing about me here, however.

11:38 pm  
Blogger Agustin Farinas said...

Kate just discovered there is lukewarm water! You mean after all these years of people saying over and over the same thing she just found this out? Where has she been for the last 20 years? Hiding in the outback?

10:14 am  
Blogger Luis M Garcia said...

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your visit.

Apologies for not alerting you to the fact that I was linking to your blog re your recent visit to Cuba.

As you have discovered, it's a topic that can certainly arouse passion.

Best wishes.

5:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Agustin wrote above could be taken as ungracious, and perhaps it is, but there is also very bitter truth in it. Cuban exiles have been virtually crying in the wilderness for decades, screaming the truth for all to hear, and they have been largely ignored, dismissed, even vilified. They are justifiably angry and resentful, especially because they know things would have been much different if they had been denouncing a right-wing dictatorship, which is a far more fashionable exercise.

I don't know Kate, and I don't wish to offend her, but Cubans have been far worse than offended by the supposedly freedom-loving democratic world, where hypocrisy and the double-standard are the norm. Cubans have been betrayed, and they cannot always manage to be diplomatic and polite.

6:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's ok Luis - I was just surprised my little blog was suddenly attracting so much attention!
I wasn't unaware of the feelings of Cuban exiles before my visit there, however Cuba isn't a big issue in Britain and the majority of people know little about the situation that people on the island face. People who know something about Cuba are usually those who are interested in politics, often from a leftwing perspective, which is why I began my post by rejecting the popular leftwing view in Britain that 'it's all America's fault'.
Hope that gives a bit of background to my post.
Further info - I spent a month travelling independently in Cuba, staying only in people's homes and not in hotels. I started in Santiago then worked my way westwards, ending in Havana. This gave me a particularly interesting perspective on the situation, as Santiago is so completely different (and politically neglected) compared to Havana, which is the place that by far the largest numbers of tourists see.
I was astounded by how different places like Santiago are from the 'tourist-friendly' and less decrepit Havana.

10:30 pm  

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