Thursday, September 06, 2007

From Russia with love

Anthony Boadle, a Reuters correspondent in Havana, has just filed a fascinating article about a little known by-product of the Cold War.

It’s the story of 1,300 or so Russian and Eastern European women aged in their 60s who are currently “stranded” in Fidel Castro’s island paradise.

Most of them married Cubans back in the 1960s and 1970s, when it seemed as if the Soviet Union and its empire would last (and stretch) for ever.

The women moved to Cuba with their husbands to help build Soviet-style communism in the tropics. And for years, they led what could best be described as relatively comfortable lives, at least when compared to their Cuban neighbours.

In fact, as the article reveals, Fidel Castro used to provide the women with heavily-subsidised air tickets so they could fly back home every five years – a privilege most Cubans could only dream about.

No more.

Since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, the women have more or less been forgotten by the regime, forced to make ends meet on their Cuban pensions, which are worth about USD10.00 a month.

You know, just like ordinary Cuban pensioners.

Read the article here.

H/T Penultimos Dias

3 Comments:

Anonymous Walter Lippmann said...

Hey, Luis -

Have you been to Cuba in the last ten or twenty years? Living in Australia there's no travel ban on you, and relations between Australia and Cuba are normal, diplomatically speaking. I've met some of your fellow Australians in Cuba over the years, and they generally like the island.

Why don't you travel to Cuba and see it for yourself, instead of just relying on reports by foreigners like Anthony Boadle? I'd read your reports if you wrote them.

Anyway, I have met a few women from the former Soviet Union and eastern europe living in Cuba. They don't complain more than other Cubans do, but continue to live quietly, some working, some retired. They are Cuban "hasta cierto punto", yet ultimately still people from another time and culture. Of course, this is a common experience for people who leave one country as adults and move to another. They almost never can completely fit in. The only one I know more than casually, fully supports the Cuban Revolution.

She came to Cuba in support of the revolution, married, had children and grandchildren, and continues to support the Cuban Revolution today.

This one friend retains her old passport and travels back from time to time to see her old country, now capitalist. She's very happy when she returns to Cuba because she sees in Cuba the continuing possibility that capitalism isn't all there is for humanity.

Have a nice day,


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California.

5:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I can't imagine why any Cuban exile wouldn't take every opportunity to visit Cuba, entirely on its totalitarian regime's terms, and certainly to its financial benefit.

I can't imagine why any exile would have any scruples about stooping to ask the oppressors and destroyers of his country for permission to enter it and, in effect, put himself under their illegitimate dictatorial jurisdiction while he's there.

I can't imagine why any exile would have qualms about visiting his stolen, downtrodden, ruined and prostituted patrimony like a mindless and amoral foreign tourist. I just don't understand some people.

Anyway, this is one person's opinion:

"To visit the house of the oppressor is to sanction oppression...As long as a nation has not won its rights, any of its children who enjoys himself in the house of those who subjugate its people is an enemy of his people."

Of course, that person was just Jose Marti (who spent most of his life in exile), but what did he know? He's history. Far be it from me to insinuate he could be nearly as relevant, trustworthy, or insightful as a current-day foreign sophist, I mean, sophisticate. Marti is merely an old, dead Cuban who obviously didn't get it. Forget him.

Go with the utterly selfless, totally altruistic, strictly humanitarian and pure-as-snow advice of a foreigner who appears to have the benefit of being "persona muy grata" to the current Cuban regime.

Seriously, Luis, you may be one of those people who are too nice for their own good, but your continued patience with such outrageously presumptuous sophistry is trying MY patience.

2:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Russian women, sad detritus of Cuba's defunct and no doubt lamented status as a Soviet colony, should return to their own country. Castro, Inc. has no further use for them, much less interest, and whatever resources they're consuming should be going to Cubans--who already gave up far too much to their former imperialist owners from Moscow.

3:10 am  

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