Day 1, Year 0: Cuba and the USA

A bunch of people have asked about what I, CCG, personally think about recent groundbreaking announcements vis-à-vis Cuba, the US, and their respective release of prisoners. Some of you folks who follow my blog, but also a rash of people who read my dispatch for the Daily News (New York’s hometown paper!), came around querying. So to complacer them, you, and me, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on this, Day 1 of Year 0.

For me, the tangible effects this is going to have on Cuban families (and I mean that in the most expansive, criollo way possible) is the most important issue. Any improvement in trade, telecommunications, travel, postal and embassy (!) services, immigration policies, and transparency, translates into some sort of improvement for Cuban families. Ahora: the question is at what cost those improvements? Therein lies the rub, which is why it deserves is own short discussion.

I’m hearing a lot of static in the international media/blogosphere about the ‘Americanization’ of Cuba. First off, I suggest anyone using this term study up on Simón Bolívar, with a little José Martí thrown in for good measure. Second, the idea that US companies like McDonald’s and Starbuck’s are going to roll in and over the island disregards two very important components of the Cuban political reality: 1) the state remains steadfast in its commitment to complete sovereignty and 2) they’ve been thinking about this day for over 50 years. It also ignores two important factors in Cuban daily reality: 1) there are more pressing material problems than satisfying a Big Mac/Frappuccino craving and 2) policy makers are aware of the health dangers (ie chronic disease) burgers and milkshakes pose and so should work to keep them out – protecting public health is especially important in Cuba where the government maintains a universal, free system and regards health and well being as a human right.

Taking these realities into account doesn’t mean that no US chains will stake their claims here, but I think the Cubans will be strategic about whom they let in. Marriott, Hilton and other hotels, Cargill, ADM, and their big ag interest friends, Home Depot, telecommunications providers – these are all likely candidates for early entry into the Cuban market. McDonalds and Starbucks, not so much. Maybe it’s too rosy a picture, but I don’t think the folks running the show are just going to open the floodgates and let US interests run roughshod over the place.

The ‘run run’ (as we say here) amongst some, is that the policy changes won’t stick or even be enacted. One camp reasons the Cubans will finesse a flip flop, while the other argues the US Congress and/or next President (should it not be a Democrat or Rand Paul), will roll back whatever Obama and company have in store for the next year. These bits of ‘logic’ defy logic. First of all, the Cubans would be completely loco to announce such policy changes and then not pursue them – this is just a recipe for disaster given the current context on the island. And as far as Washington goes, US business interests want in on Cuba, like yesterday. The bottom line (pun intended): The desire for increased commerce and trade will trump any tantrums thrown by hard-line Cubans and Republicans regarding Cuba. As Obama has said repeatedly (paraphrasing Einstein), pursuing the same actions over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. And the embargo is a self-defeating policy – another opinion voiced by President Obama in these past few days.

Leaving politics aside, this is an incredibly emotional moment – especially for those of us who have been adversely affected and working so tirelessly to have this Draconian policy reversed. Obviously, change isn’t going to happen with the flip of a switch. There are a lot of messy threads to untangle, many policies and steps to analyze and tweak. For example, the 50% or so of Televisión Cubana that is pirated from US channels – HBO, Showtime, Discovery, ESPN – is going to go by the wayside, sooner rather than later. But after ‘no es fácil’ (it isn’t easy), our favorite saying here is ‘algo es algo’ (something is better than nothing). And the announcements of this past week are a very big something.

Just now, my 51-year old neighbor stopped by. “I never thought I would live to see the day. I knew The Five would return home in my lifetime, but I never thought I’d be alive to witness the normalization of relations. It is a great, great moment in our history.” She came over to congratulate me on the new era of US-Cuban relations (this is happening all over Havana these days: whether stranger, friend or neighbor, everyone is greeting each other with claps on the back, hugs and shouts of ¡felicidades!) and to let me know she’s already renovating a room in her house to rent to Americans, once they can travel here freely.

Personally, I can’t wait. Vamos bien.

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47 Comments

Filed under Americans in cuba, Communications, Cuban economy, Cuban idiosyncracies, Cuban phrases, Cuban Revolution, dream destinations, Expat life, health system, Living Abroad, Raul Castro, Travel to Cuba

47 responses to “Day 1, Year 0: Cuba and the USA

  1. Dan MacArthur

    Thanks for the report from Ground Zero Conner- I was sort of expecting this news since 2 of my friends in havana (the only 2 that have access to dial-up) have already e-mailed to tell the news and to chat, this is a big deal for Cubans! Dan

  2. Thank you for that. I really wanted to know what you thought. We have been waiting to visit Cuba til AFTER this day (I know… contrary to what most people think). I am so happy for you, for Cuba and for the rest of us. I look forward to visiting a more empowered, more viable Cuba. And I hope this brings added comfort and prosperity to you and the people you love there. And of course, there are some in this household that are just looking forward to the cigars 🙂

  3. Jacobo

    The Cubans can thank Putin for the change. His drive to reestablish Russia as a strong presence in Cuba was the catalyst. Additionally, Cuba long ago realized that Venezuela is going down in a big way and did not want to be left out in the cold again like when the Russians abandoned them. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

    • I agree with the need to diversify allies/trading partners viv-a-vis Venezuela but dont think Russia is a big a factor as you might suggest. That’s a bit too much of a cold war analysis, plus the real player is China. Thanks for writing in.

      • Jacobo

        It appears to me that the “Cold War” is back in spades. From the Ukraine to the war on Russia’s economy, it is all there. The Chinese, who by the way are Russia’s new best friend, are a very important economic force in Latin America and Africa. However, unlike the Russians in Cuba, they do not “colonize”. Cuba, to this day, has an emotional tie to Russia that is still strong.

        The US would like to see Cuba neutralized and Venezuela back under its wing. There certainly will be change in Venezuela with cheap oil. What that change will be is a very interesting question.

        Cuba has always been strategically critical to the US as it sits at the mouth of its most important shipping lanes, between Texas oil ports and shipping bulk grain out of New Orleans.

      • Quite right re geopolitical importance of Cuba. Since 1502 or so, it has been considered the “key” to the Caribbean and beyond due to its strategic location. And I thought when Katrina hit, we’d see a thaw since the Gulf States shipping industry could have really used a boost right then and it is adversely affected by embargo.

        Im not sure about the emotional tie to Russia you describe. All the Cubans I know use Russia/ns as a butt of jokes, mas na’. And I think (or hope!) Cuba has learned that it cant put all its eggs in another country’s basket, so to speak. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Right on – pero siempre una pregunta de plata … where do the foreigh exchange dollars come from to actually purchase all these goodies given the difficulties with finding high value exports that will not reduce living standards.

  5. John corbett

    You’re spot on , So many people commenting that do not know the history .The ignorance is astounding .

  6. Candy Hernandez

    My greatest fear is that the divide between the rich and poor will become even more evident. Anyone who has spent any time in Cuba knows the concept of “socialism” – equality for all, is simply non existent. Those in the tourist industry, or with family abroad are among the richest in Cuba. With the remittance amount raised from $500 to $2000 every three months, my fear is that prices will skyrocket. It is already evident in my small corner of Cuba. The Cubanas married to non-nationals, and those with family abroad can afford to pay 15 CUP for five white onions (criminal!) in the Mercado. The merchants have all raised prices, leaving those without monthly remittances unable to afford the basic necessities.

    The biggest change needed, in my estimation, is for foreign companies to be allowed to pay their employees directly, instead of giving the Cuban government the money, which in turn, pays the workers 5% of what the foreign companies give to the Cuban government. Who is getting rich here?

    Flooding the market with food items not now available in Cuba? The same packages of Cocoa Crisp cereal that have sat on store shelves for a year are still there, covered with dust. Who can afford $3 CUC for a box of cereal? And even if you could, you can’t afford, or access, milk. $2.85 for a small jar of mayonnaise? We make our own from oil and eggs.

    There has not been sanitary paper (toilet paper) in my town for three months now. Methinks Americans will find it “grating” to use squares of Granma day after day.

    That being said, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we are overjoyed that the first baby step has been taken. We have to start somewhere.

    *my comments are based on life in small town Oriente, not in LaHabana. the centre of Cuba’s universe

  7. Doug Haxall

    Excelente! I can’t wait to come visit!!!

  8. Caney

    In Spain (both Cubans and Spaniards) the surprising news were welcomed with joy. The step given cannot be unwalked,

  9. Hmmm ¿Oh so you see nothing wrong with Cargill and their Big Ag buddies and their GMO poisons taking over Cuban ag but not McDonalds?

    • I didn’t say I see nothing wrong with it – on the contrary. The point I was trying to make is that the Cubans will pick and choose strategically which companies get access. And food here is a big issue.

  10. maudiaz

    Thanks for your always priceless insight.

    Cubans deserve a better life. A life with access to jobs, if anything.

    Pirating signals or music will not go anywhere. Those things are alive an well in most every county that has (or not) dealings w the USA already. May be different, yes. Disappear, no.

    I just hope that guns, drugs and such don’t take over the beauty of this country we all love.

  11. lachinita13

    “1) the state remains steadfast in its commitment to complete sovereignty and 2) they’ve been thinking about this day for over 50 years.” two very good points that those who fear a US commercial takeover in Cuba should try very hard to understand! These changes are a huge deal to Cubans and to US citizens, Felicidades!!

  12. LuisC

    I was extremely happy when I heard the news the other day. I’m very happy those good-for-nothing Cuban-American politicians were caught off guard. They are livid with rage. But there is still the problem of the embargo. Contrary to what some people think, it has not been lifted yet. I’m sure the opposing forces will be regrouping for that battle. They will try to intimidate Obama to make demands on Cuba that would derail this agreement. Some have even said they will oppose whoever is named as an ambassador. When the USA and Vietnam reestablished trade relations, there were no other demands than accountability for those prisoners missing in action. Nothing about Vietnam is expected to do this and that and treat people this or that way. I think Cubans, both at home and abroad, should focus on trying to create a more democratic, tolerant and prosperous society in Cuba. That is not something that is achieved by decree or dictate by a foreign country. Besides, in the same way the US and Cuba negotiated in secret during eighteen months, they could also discuss some of these issues through quiet diplomacy and save face, while avoiding unnecessary confrontations. No matter how one looks at it, Cuba is in transition. It’s in the interest of Cubans and everyone else, that it has a happy outcome. At least nothing dramatically unsettling. Cuba will find a way, if it becomes clear that it is respected as a sovereign nation.

  13. LuisC

    I just wanted to add that I agree with this Candy Hernandez wrote:

    “The biggest change needed, in my estimation, is for foreign companies to be allowed to pay their employees directly, instead of giving the Cuban government the money, which in turn, pays the workers 5% of what the foreign companies give to the Cuban government”

    Even though I’ve heard of some changes that are supposed to go into effect regarding how Cubans employed by foreign companies are paid, it’s not clear yet how much or what percentage they will be paid. I think they should be paid the money those companies hire them for and let the Cuban government decide on taxation and other issues. Since I don’t live in Cuba nor do I visit there, I don’t know what the run run is on this situation. So far, it’s too early to tell. I know there’s talk of opposition in Congress on the part of some Republicans to this new relationship, but that is mostly for political reasons. Whatever Obama comes up with will be opposed. However, lifting the embargo on Cuba also has the support of many, many Americans in both parties. Many Republicans are not opposed to this and neither is the American Chamber of Commerce, on the contrary. I see the main and most loud opposition coming from the likes of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Diaz-Balart, plus democrat Bob Menendez. I fervently hope they do not succeed.

  14. Mauricio

    Breaking news. This makes me so happy!

  15. I’m so glad the day has finally come. Peace on earth. Good will to men.

  16. You have a central place in putting visitors on the learning curve !!!
    Around you will be those who choose be other than facilitative. May your insights and caring ways make this transition for the Cuban people possible without disappointment in the lenght of time this may take. My best to you and yours, Earl

  17. Fabian

    I have to voice some disagreement. Those who believe this is the “beginning of a new era” are assuming/convinced the embargo explains why there is no paper towel in Oriente Province or why nobody has 3 CUC to buy a box of cereal. It simply does not. The economical development of the island will only start if Cubans find a way to raise their productivity levels.

    • Yes, good point Fabian. Cuba’s troubles are multi-factoral. But at this point, as I say in the post, algo es algo. And it is the beginning of a new era in terms of geo-politics, regardless of what happens in Cuba domestically.

  18. In the sea of felicitaciones, I do not mind being the sole voice of reason. Conner, are you intentionally ignoring or are you simply unaware of the continued abuse of human rights that takes place in Cuba every day?. Just last week, shortly after Obama made his announcement, the Castros ordered the sinking of a boat carrying 23 helpless Cubans trying to escape Castro tyranny. The Cuban artist, Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto,” was arrested on Christmas Day prior to one of his scheduled “visual art performances.”The performance entailed releasing two pigs onto the streets with the names “Fidel” and “Raul” painted on them. The charge for his arrest, “disobedience”. He was transferred to Castro’s infamous secret police headquarters, known as Villa Marista. He has not been heard from since. I love Cuba. I have a Cuban wife and Cuban-American children. No one wants the Cuban people to have a better life more than me. I send a care package of basic toiletries and food to my wife’s family every month. I send money as well. It turns my stomach when foreigners who live near shiny new suburban malls comment how it would be such a shame for a Walmart to come to Cuba. My mother-in-law in Guantanamo likes to live with all the same conveniences that these armchair Bolsheviks have grown accustomed to. Why should Cubans be forced to make their own mayonnaise? If these commenters were so enamored with the quality of life in Cuba why have they not moved there as you have. At least in your case you walk it like you talk it. However, even for you there is the escape valve. Even if the lack of toilet paper or cooking oil will never push you over the edge, everyone has a price. It may be a health issue or a severe economic downturn, but whatever it is you retain the trump card of an American passport. That will always separate you from the herd of Cubans who are trapped in Cuba come what may. Next Tuesday, December 30, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera has organized a performance in Revolution Plaza whereby Cubans will be given an opportunity to publicly demand their rights. Everyone will have a right to speak at a microphone for one minute to demand their rights — no insults, violence or profanity. A simultaneous performance is scheduled at Miami’s Freedom Tower. Same date, time and format. The Castro regime warned Bruguera that she will suffer “legal and personal consequences” if she proceeds with this performance. As you celebrate Obama’s decision to open diplomatic relations with the Castros, I humbly ask that you think about who and what Obama will be talking to. A government that prohibits free speech in the form of an open mike or a couple of painted pigs. Do you really want to celebrate that?

    • Your passion is evident. Cuban, almost, in its very black & white/extremist tenor. “No one wants the Cuban people to have a better life more than me” – I would think there are 11 million + Cubans – my neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family among them – who are more passionate and dedicated to having a better life. But I think your passion has obscured the main point: Cubans need and DESERVE a better life. I was first here for an extended stay in 1993, during the Special Period. I was here before the ALBA accords and Venezuela aid and trade. My family and I are personally affected by the US embargo every day (like everyone here). Cubans have struggled for so long, and while I think homemade mayonnaise is superior and wish all my adopted abuelas should be able to put their feet up, smoke a criollo and read Granma rather than have to invent something in the kitchen, does it have to be WalMart or other US firms of capitalist domination and neo-liberal tendencies? Isnt there an alternative? That is the question Id like to focus on – not if Cubans deserve a better life. Obvio.

      The trump is not the passport. Ojala. The thing is to have the MONEY to travel. Ask any passport-holding cuban.

      Can you provide a link for the claim that “the Castros ordered the sinking of a boat carrying 23 helpless Cubans trying to escape Castro tyranny.” And wouldn’t you say that the US wet-foot dry foot policy is partly responsible for illegal immigrations and taking dangerously to the high seas?

      For the record: El Sexto, who Ive met, whose “art” (yes, entre comillas) is laughable (and VERY clever of him, Tania B, etc to call these acts “art”, cloaking themselves in aesthetic protection), is a tool in my opinion. And wouldn’t those pigs have better served the Cuban people on a plate? Perhaps your mother-in-law’s? Again: do you have concrete info you can direct me to describing his arrest? As you know, married to a Cubana, rumors/gossip/run run/la bola are rife in these parts.

      Happy 2015!

      • Thanks for your reply. The problem with concrete in Cuba is that it sometimes is missing key ingredients. Concrete info in Cuba suffers the same fate. From government sources, the bias is obvious and always cast the regime in a favorable light. From pro-democracy sources, the bias is just as obvious and tends towards the sensational. And you are right about the chisme. Its the one thing in Cuba there is never a shortage of. Feliz 2015!

      • Hola. See people? This is how mature dialogue is crafted. thanks for engaging/commenting.

      • Earl L. Kerr

        KEEP ON, KEEPING ON !!!! NO HAY ROSAS SIN ESPINAS !!!! CADA CAVESA ES UN MUNDO.!!!! YOU ARE THE FACILITATOR FOR EXTENDED DIALOGUE TO ALL CUBANS !!!! WUSHING YOU LOVE AND WELLNESS. EARL

  19. I live in the U.S. and I hope that soon I will be able to go to Cuba legally. I went there in 2001, illegally (though I think that the U.S. government can no longer do anything to me because there’s a 5 year statute of limitations – haha!). I found my best interactions with ordinary Cubans were when I rented a car, did some traveling around the island, and picked up hitchhikers. It was a great experience. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and I very much look forward to seeing how Cuba has changed since I was last there.

    As a non-Cuban, I think it’s not up to me to decide what type of government Cuba has or who should govern it. The U.S. is not that special, nor is our democracy the most perfect in the world. I simply wish Cuba well in 2015!

  20. Trajano

    Great point about “the tangible effects this is going to have on Cuban families”.

    I grew up in Brasil and had access to much more unbiased information about Cuba than the average American.

    One thing that has always struck me about Cuba is a true effort to do right by the population (education, health care, etc.). Even though I don’t believe in a communist regime I greatly admire many of those socialist aspects that are taken very seriously.

    Canadian best kept secret is that we are socialist – most Americans don’t realize that…

    I believe Cuba has been one of the biggest “what if” questions in the World. The embargo has taken such an insanely heavy toll, but how would things have turned out without those punitive measures… Would we have had just another failed communist state?

    So many ideological discussions were had, but all in theory only. Now we will get to watch the real deal. Now we get to watch history unfold. Very exciting!

    I really hope that Cuba turns out similar to Canada, or better – We all know that South and Central America need a story with a happy ending. I believe that if there is one country that may be able to succeed in showing a practical socialist regime in that part of the continent it’s Cuba.

    Happy New Year!

    PS: Cuban doctor are saving Brazilians lives. Thanks! (Ironic that Brazil manages to have doctor shortages)

  21. Lynette

    Several years ago the US government started to allow tour companies to bring tourists to Cuba on a “people to people” exchange. I know several people who have gone on these tours. I am also going to Cuba on one of these programs at the end of February. I booked it about six months ago. This particular tour will take us on a charter flight from Miami to Havana. We will also spend a few days in Cienfuegos.

    The lectures we have sound interesting. For example one is by an architect involved in a government funded project for the restoration of Old Havana. We will also have the opportunity to meet local artists, musicians etc. My main interest in travel is history so I am looking forward to this visit.

    • Kudos for taking the leap and coming to see/experience this crazy place for yourself. I dont know which agency you’re coming with, but perhaps Cuba Libro is on the itinerary? If not, you’re missing one of Havana’s best kept (ok, emerging) secrets! Have a wonderful trip

      • Lynette

        Yes, I think that we go to your bookstore. I hope you are there but I appreciate that you are very busy.

        I been reading up on Cuba as I don’t know much about it as I was living in South Africa in the sixties. My concern for Cuba is not Mac Donalds but that the any goes attitude of the fifties that includes child pornography could be introduced.

        Its amazing how the world situation has changed in the past sixty years. I knew South Africans who were fighting Cubans in Angola. After the transition in 1994, Cuba sent doctors to South Africa. Despite many contradictions, Cuba appears to have an excellent health care system. According to statistics I’ve found, South Africa is the leader in Aids in the world, whereas by comparison, Aids is negligible in Cuba. I have relatives who are doctors in South Africa and they are amazed by the Cuban achievement in health care.

        I hope that we meet.

        Lynette

      • Hi Lynette. I receive all groups at CL, so if you’re coming, I’ll be there!

        Im not sure if you know, but Ive covered the Cuban health system for a scientific/peer reviewed journal, MEDICC Review, for over 10 years. Im the only foreign correspondent to have been embedded with their disaster team (Pakistan, Haiti) – the same team now fighting Ebola in West Africa. I can tell you most anything you might like to know about Cuba’s health system/indicators/approach. Cheers!

  22. Hi all,

    I have been to the wonderful country of Cuba and wanted toshare my experience with you.
    Half of my holidays were planned by this company http://vamoscuba.co.uk/holidays/solo-salsa-holiday/ and the other half I planned on my own.

    Honestly I thought that I could save some money by traveling on my own with my guide book.
    However it ended up to cost at least the same as with the agency and with lots of nerves pushed and frauds encountered. Now I am thinking that next time I’ll go there to see the eastern part I should leave it in their hands all along. What is your experience?

  23. Jeff

    Andra your post is spam. Not sure what your agenda is but I say ditch the guidebook. You will never know the ‘real’ Cuba via a guide book.

    I never use a guide book, I prefer to explore a country, discover the very heartbeat of a country and you will not find it in the Lonely Planet which truly has not been updated in years. Check out issue 2 or 3 it’s the same reviews of the hotels in issue 5 6 and 7.

    You have to ask who exactly is sponsoring or paying for all those hotel stays and all that hospitality. Not the journo that’s for sure. They are enjoying a very nice freebie.

    You will never a know a country, the true essence of a country from a commercial guide book.

  24. Arturo

    Conner, I am glad that your first hand view of what is really going on with the changes is out there for people to see. I am sorry that I have not posted in some time, my Santiago love affair did not survive but love never really dies in Cuba. When the gates open up and there are easy flights to Habana from Miami, I am finding you and that bookstore of yours with coffee! Chaoooo Comay

  25. Rachel

    I have very mixed views on what happening politically. In principle it seems great and daily life is tough in Cuba, but as a regular traveller I have to say life for everyday cubans has got even harder since these announcements.
    I’m in a privileged position as a flight attendant and travel to Cuba near every month. Over the years I have made friends. One group of friends work in a private restaurant. This is a very competitive business in Cuba ( chasing the tourist dollar). These cubans work legitimately promoting the restaurant and attracting tourists in with meal deals/ conversation/ free mojito etc…
    Recently the police have arrested around 8 of them on seperate occasions. Taken them to police station, fined them 30 cuc ( equiv to average months work). Why? Well they have decided the streets must be cleaned up for the arrival of the ‘Americans’. The whole of old Havana is under camera surveillance… At any point if a Cuban approaches a tourist with details of restaurant, a police officer is sent by the cameraman to arrest them. Not until I witnessed it with my own eyes could I believe it.
    The police can not distinguish between a hustler and a legitimate employee.
    Rather than find real criminals they are putting hard working cubans out of work. The streets of Havana were very different this last week. No “how are you my friend?, where are you from?, first time in Cuba?” The most popular questions from hustlers for obvious reasons. Is this a bad thing? No, it did need some action to get rid of unemployed hustlers. Unfortunately Cuba has one of the most unintelligent police forces in the world. They mostly come from the countryside, regime brainwashed, poor spanish language skills let alone any foreign languages. A lot of jealousy when they see cubans who have access and language skills to communicate with tourists. In most foreign countries you an approach a police man for directions- never do this in Cuba. They don’t have a clue!
    They arrest hard working cubans for selling some brooms on the street, but would quite contently take a backhander and ignore real criminality.
    I have a love/ hate relationship with the country and right now I hate that government more than ever. Dictatorship of any persuasion is wrong- it’s not communism… Or socialism that’s the problem specifically. It’s the regime. The people feel powerless, those cubans that benefit from it are more than happy, the rest live in fear of secret police and wAnt to get out. If that means marrying an old Yuma… They will do it!

    • Josh Strike

      You make a really bright point in your analysis, which is that it isn’t the political persuasion of a government that’s dangerous as much as its impulse toward paranoia and authoritarianism. I’ve been reading this blog voraciously because I’ve been thinking about spending time in Cuba. I spent a year living in Vietnam recently which is really a mind boggling mix between Soviet-style top-down control over the minutiae of everyone’s life (eg speakers blasting cheesy western music out of the block party chief’s compound at 6:30am every morning to wake up the peons) and rapacious capitalism (eg the party chief’s teenage sons sleep in until noon and spend the weekend playing videogames on a huge flat screen tv just over the wall from the scummy alleyway, next to the garage where their father parks both Mercedes).

      I unfortunately can’t go to Cuba because my job depends on fast internet access. Even in Vietnam that wasn’t a problem other than the free times they suspended or service for going to the New York Times or Google or for running through a VPN for too long.

      I hope on one hand that Cuba can adopt the simultaneous leap forward in personal comfort and opportunity that Vietnam has experienced in the last decade. But technology has also shifted rapidly from something governments barely had a handle on (when Vietnam began having internet access) to something they’re very much capable of being in front of. And CCTV cameras and arrests foresage something like a new Batista epoch, really, prostituting to the Americans all over again.

      I have no answers but I hope the Cuban government can find a way to safely navigate these waters where other countries have failed. I have less hope than Conner seems to, though. Because corruption is universal and once isolation is broken, the world inevitably brings a flood of it.on@jonathanlockwood.com

  26. Pingback: Day 1, Year 0: Cuba and the USA | Cuba on Time

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