In this, Manuel Cuesta delivers a treatise on the ugly truth of class and tourism to Cuba. His words leave no doubt as to just how callous are those who come from comfortable places, where they take for granted comforts denied those captive natives they observe as zoo animals while partaking of “revolutionary tourism,” which is, as he states, “always a first-world practice”.
Revolutionary tourism is a first world practice. It’s like it is the tourism-tourism. The second and third world revolutionaries don’t have the time or money to travel all over the globe to idealize the misery produced by the violence which triumphs in the name of the people.
I ought to make it clear right away that first, second and third world aren’t geographical notions, as I see it. All countries have their own particular combinations of them, and always in relative terms. In Cuba too there is an element of first world. So that those people who are involved in the tourism of the revolution come from all over the place, all of them sharing three things: a blindness in regard to social reality, an anthropological disapproval of the poor people who inevitably generate the revolutions, and a bulging wallet.
In the crumbling cities of Cuba, where we know sewage and accompanying diseases puddle in the streets, he asks:
I wonder, therefore, how from the status of the first world can you defend a filthy revolution. You can be on the side of nationalism, populism or indigenousism, regardless of their aseptic quality. Of unhygienic revolutions, no.
And this, the graphic reality he describes exposes the disgraceful lack of humanity of those enjoying or promoting tourism to Cuba, especially those people who clearly know the reality, but choose to white wash the details for the sake of a paycheck, or political pathology.
Anyone visiting any part of Cuba should be frightened, except in small towns or small cities like Cienfuegos, by their foul odors. It’s as if Cuba were uninterruptedly evacuating the gases of a slow digestion, hearty and heavy in virtue of the food it eats. Except that in this case the public waste system is broken and doesn’t have the capacity to resist an environment of putrefaction.
A country without bathrooms for pedestrians, without water or soap to wash your hands after going to cafes or restaurants, no napkins nor toilet paper in public places, without even slightly effective garbage collection, with doorways that accumulate three decades of dirt, with half-collapsed buildings serving as “motels” for young couples without private spaces for sexual pleasure, with steambath-buses in the morning, with hospitals and polyclinics ready to transmit infection, all in a hot climate that synthesizes natural outgrowths between the heat and humidity, such a country can not treasure its own future.
And worst of Cuba is not the stench of daily work, but a type of medieval dirt shows in four features: the accumulation of filth, the indifference as if everyone is immunized against the city’s garbage, the proximity of the centers for processing the population’s waste, and the lack of modern infrastructure for the recycling of waste. As in the Middle Ages, the septic tanks are very close to the bedrooms and it’s easy to confuse drinkable water with sewer water.
Why doesn’t revolutionary tourism realize that the Cuban Revolution might have leaked out the sewer? Getting to Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba and having to drink bottled water, sold at prices inaccessible to those who supposedly made the revolution, should be the supreme test that without hygiene it is impossible to see the outlines of the streets of the future. Also broken and filthy.