PINAR DEL RIO


support babalú


Your donations help fund
our continued operation

do you babalú?

what they’re saying


bestlatinosmall.jpg

quotes.gif

activism


ozt_bilingual


buclbanner

recommended reading





babalú features





recent comments


  • asombra: One of pre-Castro Cuba’s big problems is that it didn’t appreciate how good it had it, or how much progress it had...

  • asombra: If you want to know what a camaján looks like, look at Lula.

  • asombra: Ah, the Latrine Castro lovers, each more contemptible than the next. It’d be justice indeed if Castro, Inc. fell and...

  • asombra: Sometimes the faux general looks almost convincing. Still, I prefer his Marjorie Stoneman Douglas mode, which is more honest.

  • asombra: Just another bad Negro unworthy of Massah Castro. Move along.

search babalu

babalú archives

frequent topics


elsewhere on the net



realclearworld

The Once Great City of Havana

Another installment from journalist Michael Totten after his trip to Cuba in World Affairs Journal:

The Once Great City of Havana

“Havana is like Pompeii and Castro is its Vesuvius.”Anthony Daniels

Almost every picture I’ve ever seen of Cuba’s capital shows the city in ruins. Una Noche, the 2012 gut punch of a film directed by Lucy Mulloy, captures in nearly every shot the savage decay of what was once the Western Hemisphere’s most beautiful city.

So I was stunned when I saw the restored portion of Old Havana for the first time.

It is magnificent. And it covers a rather large area. A person could wander around there all day, and I did. At first glance you could easily mistake it for Europe and could kid yourself into thinking Cuba is doing just fine.

And yet, photographers largely ignore it. Filmmakers, too. It must drive Cuba’s ministers of tourism nuts. Why do you people only photograph the decay? We spent so much time, effort, and money cleaning up before you got here.

Perhaps the wrecked part of the city—which is to say, most of it—strikes more people as photogenic. But I don’t think that’s it. The reason restored Old Havana is ignored by photographers, I believe, is because it looks and feels fake.

It was fixed up just for tourists. Only communist true believers would go to Cuba on holiday if the entire capital were still a vast ruinscape. And since hardly anyone is a communist anymore, something had to be done.

But it doesn’t look fake because it looks nice. Czechoslovakia was gray and dilapidated during the communist era, but no one thinks Prague isn’t authentic now that it’s lovely again. The difference is that the Czechs didn’t erect a Potemkin façade in a single part of their capital just to bait tourists. They repaired the entire city because, after the fall of the communist government, they finally could.

Nothing like that has occurred in Havana. The rotting surfaces of some of the buildings have been restored, but those changes are strictly cosmetic. Look around. There’s still nothing to buy. You’ll find a few nice restaurants and bars here and there, but they’re owned by the state and only foreigners go there. The locals can’t afford to eat or drink out because the state caps their salaries at twenty dollars a month. Restored Old Havana looks and feels no more real than the Las Vegas version of Venice.

Continue reading HERE.

2 comments to The Once Great City of Havana

  • asombra

    My thanks and appreciation go to anyone like Totten who tells or shows the truth about Cuba, but the truth has never been that hard to get, certainly not to anyone serious about getting it. There is far more willful blindness, rationalization and bad faith than genuine, innocent ignorance (though one must always allow for the reality of stupidity, which, unlike ignorance, is incurable). At this very late stage of the game, there is simply no excuse for not "getting it." None. I'm talking, obviously, about a valid excuse; spurious ones abound.

  • […] Finn-Olaf Jones @ The Wall Street Journal tells the story of a romantic and exotic Cuba that writer Hemingway chose for his creative and personal refuge ... the Cuba of "The Old Man and the Sea" ... that seems all but fiction over 50 years later as generations of post-Castro Cubans struggle daily for more than a bragging-rights fish, but for food and freedom itself. Hemmingway's old Cuban dwelling outside Havana also has not escaped the decay of communism's lack of incentive and general maintenance... […]