Monday, August 4, 2008

Reality check on Havana

Today I was reading some posts in Yoani Sanchez's website -which she writes from Havana- and after a few minutes I was so depressed, that had to click off --and get out of the website

Click off....Fast....Like leaving Cuba once again, one more time --albeit this time I was running away from a cyber picture of Cuba! From her stories about a Havana that makes me very sad as well as utterly surprised!
God, WHAT has become of our country! How in the world a once prosperous and vibrant country has become this hole of poverty, decay and dashed hopes?

Of course, Cuba was not a perfect paradise, we all know that, but in 1958 -when Fidel Castro and his Revolution decided that they were going to change and save Cuba, making it a perfect place for all, and most people helped in his new endeavor- my country was not a Third World Country but a very advanced and modern nation, with a huge and very successful middle class that made it rise above the rest of Latin America.

And now -50 years later- the everyday things exposed and explained with great detail in that blog- show such a degree of poverty and misery that I can almost smell and feel the decay.

The worst part of all? That I notice how my fellowmen and women have grown accustomed to those circumstances. They have no other choice of course! I would probably do the same if I had stayed in Cuba --and my world had disintegrated year after year.

They live day after day lacking the basic things we all take for granted in our lives. And they invent. They learn how to stretch them -or live without them. They live next to -and maybe they don't even notice- the peeled paint of the crumbling walls, the holes in the streets, the stench of some streets with stagnant dirty water filled 'baches', the city that crumbles and falls and dies little by little. They live among the look of poverty that permeates everything. And they keep going on and on --being careful with the tiny pieces of soap they must use up to the very last tiny spec. Accepting with patience the surreal situations -and sometimes even excusing them and trying to rationalize the daily happenings in Fidel's Rotting Paradise.

At times like this I am very happy I was lucky to leave. So very lucky! At times like this I thank my mother a thousand times for taking that painful -and very brave!- decision. She was such a valiant and strong woman. And her action saved my life and my brother's. Physically and spiritually. It kept afloat our visions & our dreams -before they got drowned under a pile of rubble. Physical and emotional rubble of the worst kind.
How very tragic and how brave are those who have learned to survive it!