Personal experience: Cuba as a non-free Island of Freedom - ForumDaily
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Personal experience: Cuba as an unfree Island of Freedom

Havana. Photo: Depositphotos

Havana. Photo: Depositphotos

In 90, when my father was sent to work in Cuba, Fidel had already been in power for 31 years. The first thing that struck me in Havana was the number of teenage beggars. There were flocks and individuals, there were many, many of them, but few tourists. And if something fell to one flock, it was still necessary to be able to keep the prey - the rest were not going to stand in line, the alms could be taken away in the gateway.

Havana looked like the set for an art-house film: the remains of Spanish castles were being destroyed, the skyscrapers built by the Americans were frighteningly neglected, and rare bright lizard animals drove along the roads - mostly produced by the Soviet automobile industry. Or the terrible skeletons of PAZIKS - without windows, without doors, bristling with chocolate limbs. Everything is flooded with sun. And seasoned with “Cuba, my love!” tattooed on the heart.

The town of Moa, where my father worked at the plant, greeted us with a short instruction from Uncle Lyosha: “If you want something done for you today, and not manyana (tomorrow) or porlomagna (the day after tomorrow), prepare a reichalo (gift). Uncle Lyosha said “belched” and laughed loudly.

To receive bed linen is a bribe, to draw up paperwork is a bribe, to ask for 3 keys to the door of your own house is a bribe. Well, a bribe... A can of stew, a pack of cookies or some sweets. “Don’t corrupt the natives,” Uncle Lyosha admonished, “we still have to build communism here, don’t give us too much!”

We arrived on Freedom Island in troubled times, when you don’t smoke out Soviet specialists who didn’t dig into the homeland, and therefore we didn’t have enough space in the elite, closed small town built by the Czechoslovakians. And we are completely immersed in local life.

The Cuban received from the government a standard apartment in a 5-story building - with the same plywood furniture, refrigerator, stove and Soviet-made TV. He came into this life as a hungry man, with a bundle of personal belongings he moved from government-owned apartment to apartment and left without leaving an inheritance.

Owning a plot of land is prohibited; only certain categories of employees can have personal transport; fishing, collecting shells, coconuts and any fruits is prohibited; this is the property of the state. On a tropical island, where everything grew with triple strength, and the ocean could feed everyone, the Cuban sat on dry rations.

With an abundance of sea reptiles, the main festive dish was fried chicken with a side dish of rice and beans. Because the chicken was given out once a month.

Using the tarhete (social card) for a family of 2 adults and a child for a month, the Cuban could receive:
Floor cloth - 1 piece;
Meat - 2 kg;
Chicken - 1 piece;
Rice - 2 kg;
Beans - 2 kg;
Eggs - 12 pieces;
Bread, potatoes, bananas - in minimal quantities, so as not to swell from hunger.

Havana. Photo: Depositphotos

Havana. Photo: Depositphotos

The Cuban couldn’t just go to the grocery store and buy something—only rations. He could go into a hardware store and look at the product, like in a museum, and calculate how many hundreds of years he had to work to buy a telephone or a television.

In addition to jokes, at the department stores there were salesmen-guides who drove and just showed.

Once in Santiago, my mother and I liked a thermos in the window of a huge department store. Such a thick thermos, monstrous, painted with poisonous peonies. The 2 signor was already closing the shop, my mother was frantically rummaging in her bag, but she could only find six tiny caramels. For these candies we opened a store, sold a thermos and regretted that they could not help with anything else.

Once a week, water was supplied to Cuban homes. Only “Soviets” were allowed to install storage tanks on the roofs, so we always had water. And the Cubans were spinning as best they could. At the plant where my father worked, everyone had the same salary - 125 pesos. Whether you are a cleaner or a foreman does not matter. Go to the cashier - we are all equal. The attitude towards work was appropriate. But everyone received a free lunch - half a bottle of milk and a bun.

In a trash heap near the house, we once picked up a shabby, but angry, like the devil, kitten. He was given into his hands only because his side was scalded and there was no strength left to fight. We sent him out, although we didn’t receive a single drop of favor in return. About a month later, the kitten ran off to the trash heap again, where he was stoned to death - local teenagers did not like competition in grain-producing places.

Kubashi could only buy food illegally or exchange them for handicrafts from us. Therefore, shuttles were constantly scurrying around in the entrances. Here you needed an eye and an eye - they stole masterfully. Although sometimes it seemed to me that my mother left things in the hallway on purpose.

Our single neighbor uncle Oleg liked to talk about the licentiousness of Cuban. Women often came to him at night, usually he paid for chicken. There was one lady who liked him especially. Her husband at the nix, we often saw at the entrance.

The most interesting thing is that the “Sovietists” looked at this life, received larger rations, chased away the thieving Kubashi, sold them food, received sex for food, could solve any problem for food - and still considered Fidel a hero. They accepted the conditions under which they became cultivators in the zone easily and freely, singing songs about the commandant with a guitar.

Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro. Photo: Depositphotos

Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro. Photo: Depositphotos

I was 12 for years, I often turned on the TV to drown out the unresponsive poop of a neighbor parrot. Fidel spoke on television. He liked to do it in the open air, it was possible to gather a lot of people in the square. Under the scorching sun, people stood and listened as a figure in military uniform shouting slogans. The worse the international situation became, the longer he spoke. Hour, two, three, four, five, six. One day he spoke 12 hours. Our Cuban friends said that people fainted, and no one dared to help them.

We became friends with two students from the Medical Institute. Ayda and Dilbis. A tall mulatto and a plump red-haired girl. Future doctors are the country's elite. They eagerly listened to stories about the world, in response they told us that for poorly educated compatriots the only way to live with dignity was in the army. Food, clothes, barracks - the complete package. Therefore, both girls and boys marched with hope for a bright future.

When relations between the Union and Cuba deteriorated sharply, the “Soviets” were given the task of getting out of there within 24 hours. Fidel gave the go-ahead for the lynching; it made sense to hurry. Already at the threshold of the bus we saw Aida crying. She said Dilbis was arrested. 25 years have passed, and I am still shaking with helplessness.

Romanticizing tyrants is a rotten habit. So often we make heroes out of scum and scum out of heroes. Fidel ruled from 1959 to 2011. Then Raul came, he was from the same nest of vultures, but the first thing he did was let go of the reins. In 2011, Cubans learned that there was an Internet. Let it be only internal for now. In 2011, they learned that they could buy a mobile phone and call their loved ones. This was a huge revelation for the nation. This is THIS, you know?

In the song of the wonderful Cuban group “Bueno Fe” there are the lines: “We can see the Moon through a telescope, but we have no right to know what is happening nearby. We are an island, in every sense of its solitude.”

If this seems like freedom to someone, let them try it on themselves.

See also:

USA and Cuba: new travel rules take effect

Died Fidel Castro

Cuban emigrants took to the streets to celebrate Castro's death. Video

Esquire: Fidel Castro's rules of life

Cuba loudspeakers
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