It’s impossible to accurately describe the state of politics and government in Cuba after having visited a mere week. But we were surprised at many things we found. We had expected citizens to be shy about criticizing their government, but most complained about politics just as readily (and often!) as Americans do. While Cuba is a communist country, information is not restricted…most everyone has access to the internet who wants it. And while some protestors are still jailed for anti-revolutionary activities, government crackdowns are getting rarer and rarer.
Cuba has much to be proud of. A national literacy campaign in the 1960’s led to Cuba being the first Latin American country with a 100% literacy rate. Their medical establishment is renowned world-wide, having developed a vaccine for lung cancer and anti-diabetic medicines that will hopefully reach the U.S. soon. Life expectancy is 4 years longer than the U.S. And there are no widespread narcotic problems, reportedly due to strict border controls and stiff penalties.
However, the country’s infrastructure is still crumbling. After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Cuba had no global benefactor to help supply it with goods and financing. These difficult years were dubbed “The Special Period.” The socialist approach to governing means that while there are far less homeless and hungry than in the U.S., there are still far more civilians living in relative poverty. Both the socioeconomic highs and lows are not as pronounced as they are in America.
While much is changing every day in Cuba, we don’t want to diminish the struggle of dissenters. Many people and families have suffered greatly over the last 60+ years. It is our hope, though, that the compromises and progress made by both sides continues peacefully and prosperously. We will all grow better together than opposed.
Do you want to go to Cuba, click here for the next trip!