I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while and initially decided against it when I wrote my Cuba series a few weeks back. Why? I don’t want to get political and I I didn’t want to betray anyone’s trust. Locals opened up to us and told us their stories, though they could potentially be politically persecuted for it. I recently had a discussion with other bloggers about the responsibility of telling unseen or untold stories. Real stories, stories about people who can’t share their thoughts themselves. That discussion changed my mind, so here we go.
Here I’m trying to give some Cubans a voice that they can’t voice themselves. No judgement, no commentary, no real names, just the stories they told us from their point of view.
Pedro, taxi driver in Cayo Coco:
It’s officially legal to oppose the government in Cuba, but you must register as opposition and when you do you end up on a blacklist and won’t be able to find a job anymore. You are socially ostracized and your neighbours avoid you because they are scared of being associated with your political views. It’s social suicide, so you don’t do it. The government simply says look there’s no opposition and no one is able to raise their voice against it. They say, but it’s a good country, you’ve got free education and healthcare, but what’s the actual price we pay for it? There are many other countries were education and healthcare are free, without taking the toll of freedom of expression on their citizens.
Mario, host in Havana:
Officially the exit visa has been banned, but we still can’t travel. The government can still block anyone from exiting the country, for pretextual reasons. And even if that wasn’t the case the Cuban people are just about scraping by on low rationing and capped state salaries. I work in tourism and am better of than most but there’s still no way I could ever afford a plane ticket.
But you know, I travel through my guests. We have guests from all over the world and through watching them and through talking to them I see the world. I see which people are friendly, open and happy and which ones are more reserved and private. It tells me a lot about their culture and heritage. This is how I see the world. I just hope things will change for my daughter.
My grandparents were very well respected farmers in Vinales. They worked hard to make a good living for themselves. Then the revolution came and took everything they had. My grandfather never got over it. It broke him and all he wanted in life was the satisfaction of living longer than Fidel Castro, because he took everything from him. He didn’t make it. He died a year before Castro.
I, myself, was studying Engineering in Havana, but the financial perspectives were too bad. So I quit and came back home to help my family. Working in tourism I make many times the income I would have made in engineering, so I felt I wouldn’t have a choice if I wanted to support my family. I hope one day I can go back to my studies and know they can provide a secure future for me. I hope to be able to get back what my family lost all those years ago.
Before you leave…