From Yoani Sanchez blog --- Generation Y:
Albert (qui ose gagne)
Abril 29th, 2010 at 05:26 isn’t ironic?
batista’s & his regime inspired the rebolution acording to fidelious babosi (I hate to agree but I must).
Batista allowed corruption, exploitation, abuse of laws, prostitution & gambling & made more than evident the gap betweent the have’s & have’s not” … to be short.
Now … 50 odd years later we have corruption, exploitation, abuse of laws & the same gap between the “have’s & have’s not”
Borrowing from a comment from someone that have seen many a cuban well dressed, driving a late model car & lining up to enter a nightclub (if I take it as face value) proves the existence of the ever elusive “elite” as it existed in batista’s time.
Perhaps they are the children of the nomenklatura or part of the corruption regardless … they exist.
They exist in this 50 odd year rebolution inspired by the quest for equality & fairness.
Yes, cubans are better educated & have a good health system & subsidized food & other great benefits yet …
They are still poor, underpaid (exploited) abused & repressed, just like in batista’s time.
I don’t remember reading about starving cubans but I remember reading & hearing about cubans picking thru the trash … a directive was passed “legislating” the activity of the buzos.
I am sure the buzos “love” to pick in the trash for a source of income or substinence.
I do remember reading & hearing about the transportation system serving a large number of the regular population, where as always the uncany cuban “resolve” overcomes the shortcommings of the service … while the late model cars pass by …
I do remember the black market & the reason for its existence, I also remember most cubans holding a 2nd. even 3th. job to make ends meet.
That is the black market that makes available (for a profit) luxury items … like clothing, food stuffs, shoes etc. so: where does the money come from to support such extravagances which according to the fidelious babosi the people does not need?
As I said before … from the cuban’s back, from working, bartering, diving into refuse bins, prostituting, selling drugs, stealing … why … because they have to survive, specially after the 12th day of the month.
Batista was bad for the cuban people, the situatio was horrid thru the country … after 50 odd years … it remains the same, names have hanged, faces have changed, slogans have changed … the greed & corruption remains the same …
While filling their mouth w/Marti’s words about his love for Cuba, comparing themselves to him, to Maceo & all the greats … fidelious babosi and his lackeys betray, lie & steal … like a prostitute, they sold themselves to greed, confort & power.
As it were … they lay in their beds, w/their soul’s legs wide open offering it for sale, cheap & degraded.
1. Cigars - 65% of all cuban cigars sold in cuba are phonys - still better than White Owls, but not the real thing. Buy them as novelties but not for true Cubano smoking experience
2. Getting your exit pass - When leaving you have to pay 25 CUC for an exit pass. They will attempt to give you change in cdn or US dollars - do not accept.
3. Paladares vs Restaurants - Fidel is charging all private restaurants outrageous fees - so govt restaurants are now about 1/3 the cost of previously cheap private places.
4. Exchange rate - somehow the Cubans have figured out how to value their worthless currency about 1.35 Canadian... And we buy it. Figure that one out.
5. Peso Restaurants - you may eat at a place that is not designed for you - but for Cubans. Prices are in local pesos, not CUCs - make sure you pay them in their worthless scrip, not with something of value.
6. Amount of Rum in drinks - Some bartenders - for whatever reason - will poor short shots for mixed drinks. No idea why unless this allows them to free up a bottle that they can sell later. Watch and insist on a full shot.
7. Almost every quoted price is at least 1/3 too high.
I'll supplement these as I think of more. Good start, though, I thinl
While in Habana, got a chance to say hello to famed HR crusader Yoani Sanchez of Generacion Y. For facts and truth about the status of Cubans visit Yoani's blog.
Went down to Cuba with my sweetie Kate to catch rays, catch up with friends, and get an up to the minute update on how things are going as well as see how Cubanos were celebrating 50 years of papa Fidel. Last year went to Santiago de Cuba, so it's been two years since my last visit to the place.
The more things change, the more they stay the same and the more they don't.
First off - for the first time in my eight years of travelling to Cuba the food was great - providing you have about $25 pp per meal to spend. Not so good for the local folks. Langosta was available almost everywhere - likely to make the 50th anniversary more celebratory for those who can afford to buy it.
The license fees for paladars (as high as $1500 / mo) have changed the entire dynamic of eating - paladars are getting squeezed out of business and need to charge much higher prices than before - more than gov't restaurants.
They can't make do with $7 pollo, so are selling fixed price meals at around $20, which is costing them customers to their public sector competitors. Quick - call the CFIB.
Police harassment of residents was not being exercised as strongly as two years ago and several buildings along the Malecon are renovated or in the process of being so. The 50th anniversary celebration on Jan 1 wasn't noticeable; a big salsa party was held on the Malecon near the Hotel Nacional, and it was loud and a lot of people attended, but mostly Cubans just went about their business - survival.
Kate and I tracked down a little girl and her mom that I'd met through a friend two years ago - they had shared Christmas Dinner with us. I had taken some delightful pictures and wanted to present them. I did and they were delighted!
Listened to lots of okay music, nothing really great except for a string orchestra concert at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. Nacional Ballet was, of course, outstanding - Alicia Alonso was present which made it more special. Went to a friend's birthday party was a buncha interesting characters there. One guy made a point of letting me know he just got out of prison for murder. In Cuba the penalty for murder is 8 years, the penalty for killing a cow is 10 years. I understand that government is still clamping down on unlicensed attempts by Cubans to feed themselves - some have been arrested for catching fish and growing vegetables.
Met Yoani Sanchez who is the famed blogger I link to a lot who is the best source for real news in Cuba. She remains under watch by the government, and plays a dangerous game to get her blog reports posted.
Arrived home at 0400 on Tuesday to find neither kids nor dog present, just a note that the kids were staying with person who was looking after dog. Smelled fishy. Was awoken at 0900 by said dog watching person who advised that instead of looking after our much loved little hairy family member, they let it get killed by a car. We are feeling great pain.
Somehow we plumb forgot that January 1st, 2009 was different this year - it will be marking the 50th anniversary of the replacement of a capitalist despot in Cuba with one of the Marxist ilk.
With the weather as frigid it is (thanks to global warming, I guess)we needed to get somewhere warm. And when thoughts turn to warmer climes, Cuba always is on the top of the list (at least for me - Kate is still developing her taste). We were shocked at the hotel rates - upwards of $400 / night for hotels that would go for a quarter that in non peak times.
I wondered, it's too late for film and early for jazz, what's going on?
Then I sent an email to one of the agents I use (Juri the magician at Nash Travel) and was informed of my ADD.
But thankfully, it looks like we got the last rooms in the city, so we'll be seeking out the best parties and most complete mojitos.