So, Cuba’s embargo has been lifted and is now a hair’s breath from coming to an end. Overseen by The Pope who bridged the relationships of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro this is without doubt a good thing. So why am I dragging my heels? Is my selfish romantic nostalgia getting in the way of a country maligned with poverty caused by some other form of dictatorship?
Cuba’s maverick approach and active resistance in the shift of global ‘progress’ has been something many have been able to lose themselves in. A welcome distraction from greed and hunger of its larger neighbour.
From an early age it conjured up images of a passionate tropical paradise, vibrant with a spirit and energy that pulsated with shifting Latin rhythms; an undercurrent of mystery attached itself to the gambling dens, Havana rife with casinos and corruption.
Beyond this allure there was the iconic imprint of Che Guevara that adorned the T-shirts and walls of pretty much an entire generation. I was a child of the hippy revolution and his figurehead instilled the desire to fight for liberty and freedom. However as an anti- capitalist stamp it has, alongside the Tie Die T shirts, begun to fade with the past.
If I give myself a romantic shakedown there can be no doubt of the country’s need to change. It can no longer rely on the subsidies of others, they are not sustainable and neither should they be.
Castro’s determination to continue flying the flag of communism in the face of the world is a brave one, as the people of Cuba appear to want to move on. The two fully trained doctors that took my fare as taxi drivers are surely testament to that fact. Its on-going political stake maybe the anchor it needs to steady long-term growth. There was something indisputable about the joy I found in Cubans when I visited, it was firmly rooted and considerate. A stark contrast to the culture of consumerism I had left behind.
My personal hope for Cuba is that it retains its authenticity and ability to counter common thought, they are qualities it has always possessed and surely worth keeping.