Allan Wall is a blogger and contributor to MexiData.info, a website about US-Mexico issues.
Allan recently wrote an article about a trip to Cuba. We spoke with him about the trip and his reactions to Cuba:
“We found the Cuban people to be very friendly, and we never had any negative experiences with anybody during our week there.
In recent years there has been some opening up of Cuban society. Nevertheless, it is still a communist country with everything that implies. The Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul) have been in power there since Eisenhower was president of the United States. Multiparty elections are not held and dissidents are still repressed.”
There is more:
“In Cuba, signs with Communist propaganda are frequently encountered on streets and highways, extolling the virtues of communism and exhorting Cubans to keep up the communism. Images of the Castro brothers and Che Guevara, the Argentine who helped establish the communist government, are common.
The Cuban government has built a cult around Che Guevara, and has constructed a massive monument in Santa Clara where Guevara’s remains are interred.
Many Mexican leftists see Cuba as a model for Mexico, but the Cubans I met were poorer than the Mexicans I know in Mexico. The economic level in Cuba is low and there is an acute shortage of basic consumer goods.
In Mexico, even in poor neighborhoods there are mom and pop stores selling food items. I didn’t see that in Cuba. The homes we visited had a real scarcity of basic goods.
In Havana I saw people who appeared to be homeless. In contrast, we saw the nice houses in which communist officials reside. In the words of George Orwell, some “are more equal than others.”
In Cuba you can see (and ride in) classic American automobiles from the 1950s, which resourceful Cubans have kept running since that decade. It was great seeing all those old cars still in operation. Our last night in Cuba we took a one-hour ride in a ’57 Ford Fairlane convertible (with a Mercedes engine).
After a week in Cuba we flew back to Mexico in a Cubana passenger plane. After disembarking and entering the Mexico City terminal, we felt we were in a free country again.”