I was poking around for news from Cuba when I ran across an article in Periodico26.cu titled "Cuba's Secret Elections." Here's a bit of it:
One of the best-kept media secrets about Cuba is that the country holds regularly scheduled elections and that the Communist Party has nothing to do with the candidate selection.
In fact, the Caribbean island is about to hold nationwide nonpartisan municipal elections on Sunday, April 17. Voter registration is automatic for all citizens reaching sixteen years of age, unlike many countries where getting on the voter lists can be a difficult process for some sectors of the population.
Another surprise to those unfamiliar with the Cuban electoral system is that money is not the driving force, a refreshing difference from the dance of dollars and unethical practices that characterize campaigns throughout a continent where winning public office can be highly profitable.
The article continues along talking up the virtues of fidel and communism in general and is obviously propaganda. But go back and read the quoted paragraphs above - they're well written and the English is excellent - unlike most of the stuff on Periodico26. Their articles are usually poorly written or show some fundamental lack of knowledge of English. I point this out not to be critical but to show how unusual the elections article is.
The article has a byline. Circles Robinson. Who is that, I asked myself. And I found out. He wrote a short biography for something called The Beverly Underground.
It turns out Mr. Robinson is a former graduate of Beverly Hills High School, so he's a native English speaker. That explains the quality of his writing. How did he wind up in Havana? Racism, according to him.
One comment from my time at (class of 1971) Beverly stands out to me and probably marked my future more than anything else related to my years there. I don't think it needs much of an explanation. While seeking a job through the school's work-experience program, the coordinator glanced at my afro and asked, "Why do you want to have hair like a nigger fur?" He then declared, "I'm not going to get you a job looking like that!"
Robinson also turned his attention to Cuba.
Since I was 17, there was one topic that always made sparks fly at my Maple Drive dinner table: Cuba. Cuba, that Caribbean island nation whose president, Fidel Castro, was known for refusing to succumb to US pretensions to re-colonize his country and to bring back the gangsters that ran it under Batista. Back then, I did not have a clear understanding of the history and politics involved, but my interest and thought of some day living in Cuba was awakened by my growing dislike for Richard Nixon and the war in Vietnam.
So, dislike of Mr. Nixon and the war in Vietnam makes one sympathetic to a murdering dictator. So, what did Mr. Robinson do about the situation? He, of course, ran away when he got old enough to be drafted. He went to Colombia and waited until he learned his draft lottery number was so high, he didn't need to worry about the draft. While in Colombia, the U.S. had the temerity to oust the communist government in Chile. He lived in Arizona and Spain, then went to Nicaragua to, in his words, participate in the countries young revolution. Then came Cuba:
Three years ago, the opportunity arose to work in Cuba and I snatched it as a chance to live out the dream I formed as a teenager. The aborted revolution in Nicaragua also prompted me to want to see what the Cubans had done after 40 odd years and to understand how the nation had survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and Socialist bloc. My wife, a community development specialist, student-daughter, grandson, and I live in Havana, a city I have come to love more than any other.
The Beverly Underground says Mr. Robinson will contribute more in the future. He loves life in Havana. I wonder if fidel pays him in dollars so that he and his family can shop at the dollar stores? I wonder if he is allowed to go to the tourist hotels and brunch with the millionaire cigar smokers and Canadian tourists? Will his wife receive a subsidized rice cooker?