Havana is a great place for me to do things like this writing blogs and working on the huge backlogue of video editing I’ve created for myself. Having a Cuban girlfriend brings me close to Cuban people and I’m very interested in their lives which are very different and difficult. The news that the U.S is discouraging tourism and is scaling down its embassy staff in Havana by 60% will have a huge impact on the ordinary Cuban who in most cases lives way below any poverty line we know of in the rest of the world.
Despite this poverty imposed from above and outside Cubans remain proud, creative, resourceful and hopeful that things will improve. President Raul Castro stands down in February 2018. Next month there will be municipal elections to select candidates who will decide on the new President. Cubans are hopeful for positive change bringing modernisation, more efficiency and opportunity.
I have avoided walking the streets with a camera on the last few visits to Cuba. I see many street photographers walking around with their Leicas and various other symbols of photo artistrty all trying to create cliches of cliches and I guess I’m guilty of it as well. It is hard to avoid cliches here.
My first visit to Cuba was shortly after Obama’s. There was a big improvement in the relationship which also trickled down to the average Cuban. Without giving it much thought Donald Trump has pledged to be a wrecking ball for any of the good things that came out of the Obama administration.
The average salary for a Cuban is around U.S $30/month. One hotel worker I spoke to told me how he went twice to the U.S embassy to apply for a visa to visit family at a cost of U.S $160/application only to be refused in less than 5 minutes each time. That’s more than 10 months salary gone in 10 minutes.
Now there is a fear campaign because of the Sonic attacks on U.S diplomatic staff both in the embassy in Havana and in a hotel run by the Cuban military. I don’t believe the Cubans are capable or responsible for this kind of attack nor would it be in their interests to deliberately damage their relationship with the U.S.
Havana has some beautiful old buildings and many are being restored. Others are crumbling around their inhabitants. There is money being made but the average person is poor. Supermarket shelves have very little to offer the customer and the basic diet is lacking in variety. Government controlled internet is of very low quality at an exorbitant price.