This week’s edition is late because I am writing this from Havana, Cuba, where I’ve had limited Internet access.
Yes, Americans can still visit Cuba in organized tours for educational and humanitarian purposes.
It’s been 60 years since the Communist revolution. During that time, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left the island–for the US, Europe, and other places. Many of those left family behind and couldn’t return to visit for decades, or at all.
Today, there is still extreme poverty on the island and many buildings are in severe disrepair. There are shortages of many basic commodities and salaries are extremely low. There are no boats in the harbor–since it’s too easy to sail a boat the 90 miles to the coast of Florida.
But there is also a great amount of restoration underway. Many historical buildings have been renovated, and other are in progress. The people are warm and friendly. The hotel is well-equipped and up-to-date, and tourism is a thriving industry (albeit with very few Americans these days). The music and arts are upbeat and exciting.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) the challenges they face, the Cuban people are extremely resourceful. Building materials are reused and repurposed. Classic American cars are kept in great running condition without access to replacement American parts.
Havana celebrated it’s 500th birthday last year. Things may be far from perfect here, but the Cuban people are both resourceful and resilient. Like the music–a little offbeat but always driving forward.
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