“What’s up with the two currencies?” This is the question I heard without fail every time I met an older US American on the tourist circuit in Cuba. Those who have never traveled to the island nor studied it in depth may not know that the country operates a system of doble moneda, or two currencies. One of these, the CUC, is valued at 24 or 25 times more than the other, the Cuban peso. Continue reading Cuba: Two Currencies, Infinite Problems
As people often mention, in Cuba there are not billboard ads for companies or products, but rather signs boasting revolutionary socialist propaganda. These signs are especially prominent on main roads and the provinces outside of Habana.
Continue reading Revolutionary Propaganda in Cuba: A tour through photos
“Cuando se acabó el racismo en Cuba [whem racism ended in Cuba]…”
This is the way a former Cuban basketball player began a sentence when I asked him about race and sports in modern Cuba. Yes, officially racism in Cuba ended in 1959, with the ‘eradication’ all legal forms of discrimination, thus racism no longer exists in this socialist utopia. Ha. Everybody on this island knows that that idea is nothing but an inane fantasy. Racism is a reality that black people in Cuba, including myself, face every time we are stopped by the police, interrogated by hotel staff, or stared at when walking with foreigners.
Continue reading Racismo? There is no racism in the Americas
Down the dusty highway toward aeropuerto José Marti, the afueras of Ciudad de la Habana raced past us so quickly that I scarcely saw any people, just the hot morning sun reflecting off a sea of tin roofs. After being delayed by someone who forgot that a passport is needed in order to fly, we arrived at the small orange and blue domestic terminal of the airport. Waiting in the terminal for our forgetful companion, I was slightly nervous about getting checked in to the flight on time, and slightly more concerned about putting my faith in a Cuban airplane.
Continue reading Pa’l Oriente pt.1: Trouble from the start
The aspect of habanero culture that has shocked me the most is the sense of community in the city. Before coming here I thought the years of intense defense of socialism and an intrusive state would have fostered a sense of paranoia throughout the island. But the exact opposite has proven to be true. The city contains upwards of 3 million people, but when I walk around with Cubans they seem to know at least three people on every street block, and they greet almost every acquaintance like a brother or sister.
Continue reading What does comunidad mean?
The Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colon is the 4th largest cemetery in the world, and certainly one of the most impressive.
Some pictures from our visit this morning.
La Habana is a strange and incredible place.
I’m pretty sure that the United States doesn’t have any 420-plus year old castles. And it certainly doesn’t have any that used to guard the bay of one it’s most important ports, or were used as 20th Century prisons. I’m even more sure that if the United States did have such a caste fortress, the government would not allow a massive university party to take place on its grounds. But Cuba, and the city of Habana, are home to such a place, and played host to such a party.
Continue reading fiesta like it’s 1589