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Monday, May 09, 2005 By: Juan Paxety
Carmen writes that the Orthodox Church's trip to Cuba has the church's ruling board in a quandary. She says to continue to write to the church's email addresses. Previous stories are here, here and here.
Here's another write up of a trip to Cuba by a person who went on a religious trip sponsored by a group linked to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The web site is notoriously leftist, but still the commentator is forced by what he saw to write:
Cuba is a poor country: buildings crumble, roads are in bad shape, there are still blackouts in the cities, meat and eggs are hard to come by, the average salary of between 160 and 220 pesos (approx. $6.50 to $9) a month is not nearly enough to feed people, despite the rations and food subsidies. The country is not abject, however, for there are very few beggars or homeless people either in Havana or in the area of Pinar del Rio that we visited; no one is emaciated and everyone has proper shoes and clothes, not rags. The fact that Cuba is poor may have something to do with the US blockade and with the state-controlled economy; the fact that everyone appears to eat all right and to have clothes and full, free medical care, however, does have to do with the social! and economic priorities of the Cuban government.
In some respects Havana looks like a parody of the grey nightmare world of 1984. The only billboards contain revolutionary slogans -- Hasta la victoria, siempre, El socialismo triunfar·, 26 julio, 46 anos (reminding everyone of the Revolution's longevity), Volvern (referring to the five Cubans imprisoned in the US on espionage charges) -- which are repeated on the sides of buildings. At the Plaza de la Revolucion there is a grey obelisk built by Battista and a statue of Jose Marti, added after the Revolution; it is from here that Castro gives his annual May Day speech and here where the Pope said mass on his recent visit to Cuba. Surrounding the plaza are various ministry buildings, including the Ministry of the Interior with a metal frame of the famous sillhouette of Che occupying most of the facade. Che is ubiquitous, but by contrast, images of Castro are relatively scarce. We visited the square on a Sunday and there was no one else there, and virtually no cars on the road, giving the six-lane road around the obelisk an eerie feel; luckily there was a baseball game nearby.
There's a lot that could be fisked here, but I think it's worth reading the entire piece - despite the leftist rhetoric. Even a person who seems predisposed to find the good in fidel's revolution has difficulty finding it. Why? Because obviously the good is not there.