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Monday, 26 December 2016 11:08

El Viejo y el Mal

The title of this article is word play on the title of Hemingway’s prize winning novel, "El Viejo y El Mar." In this case the translation of the title is “The Old Man and Evil,” referring to the legacy of the late Fidel Castro.

As a result of Castro’s dictatorship Cuba is truly an impoverished country locked in a time warp, where the average monthly salary hovers around $25 dollars and where there is no real freedom of expression, opportunities, dissent or human rights. Many of those who clamor for change are imprisoned. Because of this situation fifteen percent of the islands citizens are in exile in an effort to make a better life for themselves. The revolution was really about Fidel and his socialistic vision and not the Cuban people. He created a system of educated people who had little hope of getting ahead in life. I must admit that the man was a political genius to be able to stay in power for almost 50 years.

The government that Fidel left to his brother does have its supporters among some of those who have lived under the system all of their lives and who do not know nothing else.

However, as I have alluded to in many of my articles, there is no reason to lose hope. Raúl has made some cosmetic changes but democracy and real change has yet to occur. Given the events of the last few years, I feel positive about the country moving in the right direction. But the million dollar question is, How long will the process take?

It is hoped that with the improved relations with the U.S., more widespread and accessible Internet and an influx of new ideas, once again Cuba will regain its spendor as “The Pearl of the Caribbean.” I am betting that it will.

Published in Living in Cuba

While many leaders around the world begin their preparations to visit Cuba, to pay their respected to Fidel Castro, one person will not be there: Juanita Castro, Fidel’s sister who has been in exile in Miami for 51 years.

In 1964, Juanita accused her brother of turning Cuba into “an enormous prison surrounded by water’.

Despite expressing sorrow over the death of her brother, she said on Saturday she wouldn’t be returning to Cuba in her lifetime. She also put rumors to rest that she would be heading to Cuba for the memorial and said she will remain in the United States, the Miami Herald reported.She said she remained committed to the Cuban exile community and opposed to the dictatorship her late brother imposed on the island when he seized power in 1959.

Exiled in Miami since 1964, Juanita, 83, said in a statement that she was upset by the news early Saturday. At the same time, she hoped that his death at age 90 is a turning point in which all Cubans find common ground.

‘In light of the bad rumors that said I was going to go to Cuba for the funeral, I want to clarify that I have never returned to the island, nor do I have plans to do so.

‘I have fought alongside exiles, arm and arm, during their most active and intense stages of struggle in past decades, and I respect the feelings of all,’ Juanita said in a statement.

‘I do not rejoice over the death of any human being, much less when that person is someone with my blood and surnames.

“I’ve been in exile in Miami for 51 years, like all the Cubans who left to find a space to fight for the freedom of their country,” Juanita Castro said. “I have never changed my position even though I had to pay a high price for the pain and isolation.”

“For decades, I confronted the system in Cuba and also those in exile who unfairly did not forgive that my surnames were Castro Ruz and who attacked me ruthlessly,” she said.

She asked for understanding for her pain and expressed hope that her brother’s death brings about an understanding among all Cubans.


Published in News about Cuba
Thursday, 15 September 2016 15:25

The Old Man and the Sea

This prize-winning work should be required reading for anyone who wants to spend a lot of time in Cuba, especially those who want to live or retire there someday. Cuban school children have to read it as part of their education.

In the 1930s, Hemingway lived in Key West, Florida, and later in Cuba, and his years of experience fishing the Gulf Stream and the Caribbean provided an essential background for the vivid descriptions of the fisherman’s craft in The Old Man and the Sea. In 1936, he wrote a piece for Esquire about a Cuban fisherman. This story was an obvious inspiration for the tale of Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea

I just finished reading this incredible book in Spanish for the second time. I originally read it years ago but decided to reread it because my son was reading it in English. As I immersed myself in the story again I realized even more how it paints a graphic picture of Cuba through its language and story.

The book is written with both simplicity and narrates the story of Santiago an old fisherman whose luck has run and and who faces perhaps the greatest challenge of his life: a struggle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba. The story opens with Santiago having gone 84 days without catching a fish, and now being seen as “salao”, the worst form of unluckiness in Spanish. On the eighty-fifth day of his unlucky streak, Santiago takes his small boat into the Gulf Stream, sets his lines and, by noon, has his bait taken by a big fish that he is sure is a marlin. Unable to haul in the great marlin, Santiago is instead pulled by the marlin for two days and nights with Santiago holding onto the line. Although injured by the intense struggle and in pain, Santiago expresses a compassionate appreciation for his adversary, often referring to him as a brother.

On his way in to shore, sharks are attracted to the marlin's blood. Santiago kills a shark with his harpoon, but he loses the weapon. He makes a new harpoon by strapping his knife to the end of an oar to help ward off the next line of sharks; some are killed and many others are driven away. But the sharks keep coming, and by nightfall the sharks have almost devoured the marlin's entire carcass, leaving a skeleton consisting mostly of its backbone, its tail and its head. Santiago knows that he is really unlucky now, and defeated, tells the sharks of how they have killed his dreams. Upon reaching the shore before dawn on the next day, Santiago struggles to his shack, carrying the heavy mast on his shoulder, leaving the fish head and the bones on the shore. Once home, he slumps onto his bed and falls into a deep sleep dreaming of his youth.

Published in News about Cuba

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