We have lived and traveled to different countries and cities but we never experienced a country like Cuba. During our trip we got to talk to many Cubans such as tour guides and case particular owners, and the country made us question the positive and negative sides of their system and our own.
Cuba provides all Cubans education and health care, which are fundamental rights for people. Our young, very smart tour guide in Havanna, a recent university graduate from Santiago de Cuba told us that anyone could go to a university, as long as one had good grades. Even if you are poor, you get sick and you are surly treated here. When we think of the richest country in the world, the USA, the Obama government is still having difficulties in getting his healthcare plan passed. Which country is better to live in?
Of course, when people with education don’t have an opportunity for a better life, then odd things might happen. One of our tourist guides told us that he used to be an English teacher, but he could not make the ends meet with his month salary of CUC 25, which is equivalent of US$ 25. So he decided to become a tour guide where salary and particularly tips and commission make him earn much more.
Now people are hoping that the recent talks from the Cuban and US presidents about getting closer again and particularly the prospect of the US embargo being lifted creates a lot of hope in Cuba. Casa owners and tourist guides, those in the tourism sector whom we got contact with, all welcome this change as positive, but they want to have a slow change so that Cuba will be able to adapt to the changes without losing its identity to capitalism. Faima, one Casa owner put it: “if one who used to have only CUC 10 in his pocket gets CUC 1,000 all of a sudden, he might do something stupid he better not do. So it is better we go slowly.”
We wish all the Cubans a happy transition, should it happen, hoping that this lively and resourceful people will find a good path on the way….