The photo of the bizarre renovation build reminded me of many of the renovated homes we seen on our city tour a few years ago. One couple from our group that took the private city tour was shown around to a few of these places and they had these type of roofs. They were taken up to the roof and they were set up as outdoor living space, patio type furniture, patio lights, there was music playing and drinks served by the owner, a B&B type situation with nightly entertainment. So perhaps this place is such a situation?
I did find that while in Cuba I found myself often wondering more than anywhere else I have been and I was so glad that we went off the resort discovering even the little bit that we did.
That does make sense, Mich. I had wondered if the odd wall indicated some kind of recreational area.
And I totally understand what you mean about wondering so much about so many things! The whole time I was there, I kept trying to figure things out in terms of how they had evolved to what I was seeing.
When we were on the bus ride from the resort to the town we seen many of the new rural home builds. You would be driving along watching workers in the fields and then the bus would slow a bit and you would see some new small homes, really well cared for with tiny flower gardens bordered by rocks or bricks and either some fruit trees or a vegetable garden. I noticed there would always be a produce stand at the beginning or end of these tiny towns and I imagined they sold the extra once they bartered amongst themselves because they all seemed quite alike. It seemed like they parceled away blocks of land at the edges of fields along the roadside. The houses were all the same, front portion was one floor and the back of the house was two floors. The homes alongside the highway did not have the roof decks.
There would also be a military post, with soldiers, at each tiny town.
Of course, Bixa, you are right about photo ops vs living in crappy conditions.
To follow up what Kerouac said about all this being the fault of the boycott, I would agree to a large degree but would add that it's also the fault of the political system. If you are told everything to do and believe by the government, then you end up not taking responsibility for anything outside your own lodgings. I have seen that in other countries that had communist governments: in Poland, Ukraine and the USSR. Inside people's houses, it was clean and they did what they could with what was available, but outside nobody cared because they had no personal interest in anything. In Poland, where there were private shops and restaurants, service was polite; in state-owned places, the staff was bored and unpleasant and didn't care if people had to stand in line only to learn that what they had hoped to buy wasn't available.
In any case, thanks for this interesting tour of Havana. You both did a great job, with the advantage of liking to take lots of photos and Bixa's knowledge of Spanish.
Inside people's houses, it was clean and they did what they could with what was available, but outside nobody cared because they had no personal interest in anything.
This must be some unpleasantly infantile aspect of human nature. I once lived in a compound here in Oaxaca (never again!). Every morning many of the young women would go into a frenzy of sweeping and mopping their rooms. But they'd sweep everything into the common area and just leave it there. Once I heard one of those neighbor's visitors ask why she didn't plant a few nice flowers like the other neighbor (me) did. The answer: "Why? It's not my house." " style="max-width:100%;"]
Thanks so much for that look at the contrast between state-owned places vs privately owned ones. It precisely describes what we encountered in Havana.
To follow up what Kerouac said about all this being the fault of the boycott, I would agree to a large degree but would add that it's also the fault of the political system.
Absolutely! Before visiting Havana I also subscribed to the facile explanation that all Cuba's woes were due to the embargo. If the Supreme Butthole had not become president of the US, we'd probably be on track to a resolution to the impasse between the two countries.
... there has been no physical, naval blockade of the country by the United States after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. ... The United States does not block Cuba's trade with third parties ... Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth largest exporter to Cuba (6.6% of Cuba's imports are from the US). Cuba must, however, pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed.
The above is quoted from the Wikipedia entry on the embargo, which is most illuminating on history and details. Going back to the Eisenhower era sheds light on the a major impasse and why reopening diplomatic relations between the two countries is crucial to there ever being some kind of solution:
In October 1960, a key incident occurred that led to the Cuban government nationalizing all three American-owned oil refineries in the nation. Cuba nationalized the refineries following Eisenhower's decision to cancel 700,000 tons of sugar imports from Cuba to the U.S. and refused to export oil to the island, leaving it reliant on Soviet crude oil that the American companies refused to refine, which led to Cuba's nationalization response. The refinery owners were never compensated for the nationalization of their property. Today the refineries are owned & operated by the state-run company, Unión Cuba-Petróleo. This prompted the Eisenhower administration to launch the first trade embargo—a prohibition against selling all products to Cuba except food and medicine. The Cuban regime responded with nationalization of all American businesses and most American privately owned properties on the island. No compensation was given for the seizures, and a number of diplomats were expelled from Cuba. The second wave of nationalizations prompted the Eisenhower administration, in one of its last actions, to sever all diplomatic relations with Cuba, in January 1961. Note: the wikipedia article contains many citations on its statements -- I've removed those number links here for easier reading.
None of the above is meant to imply that I whole-heartedly support the embargo, simply to show a fuller picture.
There is a belief that casting himself as David against Goliath was a main factor in keeping Fidel in power for so many years, and I think there is more than a grain of truth in that. I also believe that the revolution had noble goals. But goals such as housing for everyone have probably failed through lack of foresight and a means to fairly implement them.
Last Edit: Jan 16, 2018 17:40:23 GMT by bixaorellana: forgot link
Well, if we start going into how many countries have nationalised companies with no compensation as an excuse for a boycott, then the United States should have put a boycott on at least 20 other countries. Then of course there is the country where the United States struck back on September 11th, 1973. That was a less than glorious achievement of the CIA.
As stated, the quotes I used were not meant as an apologia for the embargo. Rather they are to show that to some degree Cuba had and has ways to help itself without the US and further, that it is incumbent upon the US to find ways to reopen full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the benefit of both countries.
One thing I've been wondering about is Eusebio Leal, who seems to have been City Historian since before he was born. I've looked him up and, except for the Wikipedia entry (damn, does that man have some awards!), almost everything is in Spanish.
Not any more! This rather star-struck piece from The Smithsonian just popped up in one of my feeds. It's long & will probably be made even longer by the necessary reading between the lines ~