Blogging from Socialist Cuba
Back when I was growing up in Los Angeles, California in the 1960s, most US media painted Cuba as hell on Earth. I remember the air raid bells ringing and getting under my school desk because a bearded “Satan” had allowed the Russians to station nuclear missiles barely 90 miles from peace-loving Florida.
Of course my third grade teacher didn’t fill the class in on any of the details, but she did let us know there was plenty to be afraid of. In fact, for nearly a half century, generations of US citizens and people around the globe have been fed the story that Cuba is a permanent threat to peace, democracy, religion and everything we hold dear.
I always wondered how an undeveloped island country with barely three percent of the US population could really pose such a threat. Having been offered a job revising Spanish to English journalistic translations I finally got the chance to see for myself in 2001. I moved to Havana with my partner, daughter and one-year-old grandson.
After living in Cuba for several years, I decided in 2005 to start this blog. My main objectives in writing are to break through the black and white portrayals of colorful and diverse Cuba, and at the same time support the island’s right to be a little different from the rest of the continent.
It’s not easy to write objectively about Cuba. Two polarized views often distort any rational discussion.
One comes from the United States government and media, obsessed with its characterization of Cuba as a “Communist menace and police state.” Trashing the island in these terms is a decades-old lucrative business, thanks to the continuing flow of dollars from Washington and Miami to journalists and politicians.
No reality, not even the end of the Cold War in 1991, has modified this distorted view of Cuba.
Equally far from reality however, is the rosy picture Cuba has painted of itself; influenced by a belief that it’s not in the besieged country’s interest to share its problems with a hostile outside world.
Those who question the horror stories and somehow manage to visit the island, usually come away feeling that they’ve been duped by the mainstream media.
On the other hand, visitors expecting to encounter a revolutionary utopia encounter a complex country with many achievements and just as many problems. Some leave disillusioned.
With a new president (Raul Castro) and a new parliament in Cuba, and with the US heading into a November election showdown, it seems to me that this might be a good time to take a broader look at Cuba.
In the coming weeks I will be interspersing my news commentaries with several posts on life in Cuba and some of its main challenges for the future.