Thoughts about the Cuban People
14 March 2017 | Diana and Jolie
Excluding all the political rhetoric, Cuba has been forever linked to the US, and the Cuban people have a true affection for their US visitors. Having Diana along, who is fluent in spanish, certainly made the experience richer. We were particularly struck by the love and kindness that Cubans exhibited, not only to us as US visitors, but surprisingly enough to each other. We saw it from the streets, and from the wonderful vision we had from our roof terrace. It was also striking how even the kids were caring and protective of their younger friends and siblings. Kids played in the street, and everyone watched, laughed and participated in their games. Cuban kids dream of a future, like the lovely little girl and her Grandfather we met in the park and her dream to become a ballerina. When Diana gave her a napkin for her pizza lunch she responded "I love napkins",
Regardless of economy, regardless of politics, people continued to tell us that Cuba was a wonderful place to raise kids. Our friend Jaquin, upon leaving Cuba for the US expressed one concern that he never had in Cuba, "Would his children be safe playing outside in the US ?" Marisela and Pedro invited us to sit and talk at their table, their family all eat together every night and family for them was paramount, even through years of struggles after the soviet pull out.
As we have already indicated, it was wonderful making friends with the taxi drivers, and the casa owners. They were a wonderful resource and never failed to provide advice, affection, suggestions and help when needed. Ariel, the owner of our Casa in Centro, was amazing, we felt we left behind an old friend when we left. He visited everyday, and he and Beatriz would sit and talk for long periods about Cuba, their experiences and their families.
There are three things in Cuba that are not tolerated; drugs, guns and pornography. The police crack down immediately if they hear of drug distribution. There is a constant presence of police, nearly everywhere, but they are all young, don't carry guns, mostly walking, and we witnessed how kind and respectful they were, even to an old drunk in Veija. We never felt it dangerous to walk around town, and asked the police a few times for assistance or directions and they would go out of their way to guide you. Beatriz once told us, you "don't be afraid of the police, they will always help you".
Ours was certainly an outsiders view, and there are definitely things about Cuba, and Havana in particular, that we found disturbing, but one thing we left with was an over whelming sense of strength in the Cuban people. They are a proud people, they have survived all the years of embargo, as well as the soviet demise, and they exhibit a sense of solidarity that is hard at times to understand in their smiling faces. They love their country, even though they may dream of coming to the US to improve their economic lot in life. Resourceful, educated and dedicated to family and country, the people of Cuba are the real heroes of the revolution! They are the real sights to see there !