Red Corner: Cuba Changing?

I’ve been saying for a number of years that one day Cuba will change in a big way. The first “small” change occurred in the early 1990s when Cuba’s big brother, the Soviet Union, crashed and withdrew the financial support which had kept the island solvent since Castro took over. The quality of life plummeted as a result, and poverty and shortages swept the nation.

The next change, according to Laura Parfitt who recently produced a BBC program about Cuban poetry, is occurring right now. This is because the Cuban economy is getting back on its feet and as a result, money is slowly trickling in. More money means more new cars, trendy clothes, and foreign produced goods. The strange time-wrap which Cuba had existed in for so long is starting to disappear as modernity and luxuries slowly encroach upon it. Tourism is a major cause of this. New hotels, restaurants, cafes, tourist shops, and street buskers are all popping up to siphon the money foreign visitors bring with them to the island.

Despite all this, Cuba, is still a long ways from achieving a decent standard of living for its people. The changes have made life better (or, perhaps easier) for many tourists, but only a few locals are benefiting in the process. This will undoubtedly change over time (perhaps with Castro’s death), but hopefully not at the expense of Cuba itself. The island still remains true to the Cuban spirit, despite government sponsored street performers and more doilies in the tourist hotels.