Let’s get this out of the way – US travelers can still come to Cuba. Nothing has changed, despite what that fool-tool of a President (and his minions) want you to believe.
New regulations for travel to Cuba have yet to be written (they’ll be released on September 15) and won’t be actionable until sometime thereafter. Until then, they’re the same Draconian, out-dated travel restrictions as usual. Draconian because even though President Obama relaxed rules for travel to Cuba (a step in the right direction, without a doubt), it’s still the only country where people from the USA are prohibited from traveling freely. For those keeping count, we’re going on 60 years of attempts by Washington to control Cuba and if that’s not the definition of failure (not to mention stupid and a violation of rights), you need a dictionary, a foreign policy course or both. Never mind that all public opinion polls show that a majority in the USA want full, free, and open travel with Cuba. Another detail: Cuba doesn’t prohibit US people from visiting. On the contrary. They love folks from the US here. The restrictions are all on that end.
But here’s the kicker: though nothing has changed, people are already cancelling trips to Cuba. They write me on this blog, my website, Cuba Libro’s website, and Facebook. Tour group operators, independent guides, semester abroad coordinators: they’ve contacted me virtually or in person to lament the cancellations in the wake of Trump’s laughable, but shameful, speech in Miami. So while it’s still status quo as regards traveling here, and will be for the foreseeable future, Trump did do damage – he wound the clock back to the Cold War, reinstating the culture of fear (and dare I say: terror), that then reigned. And fear is a mighty motivator. It makes pussies of the powerful, cows the courageous and intimidates the intrepid. I know. I survived eight long years of George W Bush here, when friends and family were too scared to come. Or too confused – because this is the other card in the stacked deck wielded by anti-Cuban politicians: it takes even specialist lawyers, those with decades of experience interpreting the twists and turns of the embargo, considerable mental gymnastics, and many expensive, billable hours to tease out precisely what’s legal and not, as well as the gaping grey area between. Clearly, some people profit off the politics around Cuba. During his Miami dog-and-pony show, Trump also successfully pissed off Cubans everywhere – including in the swamp state known as Florida.
On the flip side, some US travelers are heading here now, convinced the hammer is about to come down. Literally as I write this, there’s a New Yorker here talking to a Cuban, saying she came to Cuba “before the law changes.” Forget the fact that this isn’t a law. I hear the same thing day in and day out and am truly amazed that so many people are willing to come here in July and August, the absolute worst times to come to this hotter than Hades destination.
Here in Havana, we listened to his speech live, on Cuba Libro’s beloved Sirius radio (though it was also broadcast on Cuban state TV). The dining room was crowded with Cubans who had never heard him before. Nor had I. One of the brilliant things about living in Cuba is the facility the context provides for existing within a bubble, where asshole politicians, Caitlyn Jenner’s ridiculous pronouncements, and the 24-hour fake news cycle is someone else’s problem. Folks are always surprised when they learn I had never heard him before Miami. But if you didn’t have to listen to his bullshit and blather – if you weren’t addicted to Facebook or Twitter or involuntarily subjected to a screen in a bar or airport, would you waste your precious moments on this dying planet listening to that buffoon? Or listening to pundits or talking heads or social media chatter about him? I was quite shocked listening to him ramble on. I was shocked at how infantile he is, how lacking in elegance, not to mention eloquence he is, and how insultingly transparent he is, manipulating facts and history of course, but also his own supporters. They’re as stupid (or opportunistic) as him. It’s hard not to feel just a smidge of schadenfreude for all the racist, misogynist, isolationist white trash who voted him into office and who are getting a wakeup call to just how destructive he is to their interests. Unfortunately, many innocents are also caught in the net of hate, inequity, and cruelty cast wide by the Trump administration.
Cubans are being caught in this net. But Cubans are cockroaches (old news for regular readers). They’ll survive us all. They withstood the Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs. With stomachs empty and vision failing due to lack of nutritious food, they withstood the demise of the USSR. They withstood and reigned triumphant during the Elián crisis. Hurricanes, drought, Zika and dengue, the embargo, two Bushes – they’ve survived it all. And they’ll survive Trump, too. In the meantime, they’re going to hate on him big time (and are losing money because of him, which fuels the cycle of hate and belies his claim that his policies are designed to ‘help the Cuban people.’) As soon as he began rimming the Miami radicals with his smarmy tone, regular Cubans in the street, bars, cafes, and along the Malecón, were making fun of him.
They were laughing at how behind the times and the curve he is, invoking events that happened over half a century ago. ‘Is this guy for real?!’ one Cuban asked aloud during the speech. ‘Dude! Come join us in the 21st century,’ said another. They were laughing at how low class he is. They were laughing at what an inept orator he is. And they were laughing at the shitty musician chosen to play the national anthem. They stopped laughing when they realized the “out of tune” violinist wasn’t going to follow up the US national anthem with the Cuban one. ‘He’s clueless!’ declared a young local. I agreed: no matter where a Cuban resides, they are first and foremost, cubano and loyal to one hymn: theirs. And no one was laughing when they learned from Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez (and my runner-up choice for next Cuban president; my first is Josefina Vidal) that the violinist at Trump’s speech was the son of a killer: his father assassinated Frank País, a young Baptist caught by Batista’s troops in the early days of the revolution and shot dead.
For Cubans, Trump epitomizes bad taste and is devoid of grace. He’s like a bucket of ice water dropped on them after their first-hand experience with Obama. He (and Michelle) charmed the underpants off the place, their visit making history. Trump isn’t making history; he’s making an ass of himself and tarnishing whatever gleam and sparkle remained of the United States. Mulling it over, I think it’s Trump’s shameless douchebag-ery that ruffles Cubans most.
Going with the flow is something Cubans do with aplomb. They also live for the moment – they don’t get hot and bothered about what might happen further down the road. They’re very Zen in this way. They especially don’t get their panties in a twist with political declarations made up north; they’re way over buying into that kind of drama. Once they found out the 5-year multiple entry visas to the USA already granted wouldn’t be revoked, they went back to laughing at Trump, creating hilarious caricatures and tagging walls with graffiti – one, a larger-than-life portrait with the word ‘estúpido’ stenciled beside it, was quickly painted over by authorities. They should have left it if you ask me. And it’s too bad the artists (from a collective known as La Banda) didn’t go with their original design which read ‘singa’o’. Conclusion on this side of the Straits: Trump es un tremendo singa’o! And he’s making a laughing stock of the United States. Quo vadis?!
21 responses to “Trump: The Laughingstock of Cuba”
Hey Connor, That’s the best thing I’ve read in 6 months! Thanks for making my day. Hope all is well at Cuba Libro. Take care. Kelly & Rocket
gracias amigos!! some folks on the Havana Good Time facebook page feel I’ve overstepped!!! hope you’re having a great summer and we’ll see you soon
Spot on, as usual.
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We’re still coming! No cancellations here! And while I was concerned about the heat in late July, (my traveling companions picked the dates) now I’m grateful, as the one rule that will change is that US citizens cannot travel without a tour or cruise of some kind, and we’re on the People to People visa. Looking forward to meeting you, congratulations on the great Bloomberg interview/video and continue to speak the truth with humor!
Gracias. and thanks for reading!
Great Read as always! Just Back from Havana and..again wasn’t able to make it out to your Cafe. When Im back in November!
Thanks. We’ll see you then! The treehouse will be built by then (but take a number; already regulars are clamoring for their piece of heaven up above the garden!)
Ms Conner: I enjoy your writing style very much!
I am happy to know that you have a café and book store there. It’s a must-visit place on my list.
For people from US who want to travel individually to Cuba, I think they can go through other countries. I met a mother and her daughter who entered Cuba though another country. They stayed for 3 weeks and travelled freely anywhere they wanted.
Cuidadito: this is illegal according to US law (going through a third country). People have been doing it for decades, but it is actionable according to us travel ban to cuba.
Hi Connor, I believe we met in January when I came with a group of students from Hawai’i to Cuba Libro. I was the guy who really needed a cup of coffee. Thanks so much for your blog and this post. We’re doing our best spread the word about travel to Cuba, a country and its people that I, my wife, and our students fell in love with. Aloha!
Hola/Aloha Mark! Cuba and Hawaii (I place I know well: I’ve written a handful of Lonely Planet guidebooks to the place) have a lot in common. we had so much fun with your group. And what troopers! Directly from the airport to Cuba Libro and with smiles on your faces – albeit tired ones! hope to see you back some day. Cheers
Freedom of speech, when you can call your president a singa’o without fear of government retaliation. Tú le cuentas esto a tus amigos cubanos? No creo.
Um, has Trump not banned journalists from press conferences (and threatened to not even hold press conferences) because he didn’t like what they had to say? And wasnt there a flap with a bloody head and SNL skit or something? Mis amigos cubanos estan bien claros en sus derechos. Are you?!
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I find the things you have to say about Trump to be incredibly biased, but then, why wouldn’t they be? The Cuban Revolution ended like every other Revolution — except the American– the exchange of one dictator for another. You live in a place of utter poverty, unable, I read, to even buy aspirin. Why would you favor someone who isn’t jumping to send hordes of tourists up your behind. You should have had a second revolution.
On your bias accusation: I let Trump’s record speak for itself. On your assessment of the Cuban Revolution and the state of Cuba: now your bias is showing. And you’ve never even been here.
Here’s some context: https://eand.co/why-were-underestimating-american-collapse-be04d9e55235
Oh but they are Tom!! Every week, someone from Canada, the USA or Europe contacts me or comes into Cuba Libro with questions about moving to Cuba or they already have and need some orientation. Plus, if you research the Cuban diaspora and those that have RETURNED to Cuba after living abroad (in some cases for decades), you’ll be astounded at how large this trend actually is – especially those who have lived in the USA. It makes sense when you see crime/taxes going up, earnings going down, race/gender/origin hate soaring, and divisions of all sorts in the United States quickening – people want a happier, safer, quieter (well in some senses!), more harmonious life. Cuba offers that to many.