My Thoughts on Cuba

There is a very plausible theory that Fidel Castro is dead. It has been a long time since  he’s made any public appearance and though the media proclaims the diplomatic statements made in Fidel Castro’s name are truly his, we are still left to momentarily pause and wonder about the possibility.

Many people dismiss Castro as an anti-American dictator whose pride has left Cuba in a bad economic and social state. The rest of us eat that up because we’ve never visited Cuba to determine whether this view is accurate. I’ve read many positive things about Cuba regarding its education system and health care access even to the point where it surpasses that of the US. Is it true? There is only one way of finding out. Go and visit Cuba.

A couple of months ago Obama made it legal for Cuban-Americans to go back and visit their families in Cuba. I don’t care how much Cuban pride and cultural practices these Cuban Americans have preserved, their Americanized and assimilated part of their being will only become more obvious once they step foot in Cuba. Throughout history, this has been the case for immigrants that finally get the chance to return “home.” I once read part of a book, whose title I don’t recall, that talked about how immigrants romanticize their home country’s way of life. They hold onto those memories and expect to find it when they return. To their surprise, not only has their home country changed, but so have they and this reality has many consequences. The one I want to highlight is the change and influence this will have on the Cuba that has been since Fidel came into power.

The more people that go back to Cuba, the more that “Americanization” will begin to leave its mark on the country. I witness this everyday in Mexico and I do consider myself part of the “problem.” In a weird way, I picture it like this: Cuba is Superman and the US is kryptonite. However, the kryptonite will not kill Superman in this case. Economically speaking, it will make Cuba flourish. What the kryptonite will “kill” is the culture and way of life that has been preserved up until this point. This process is inevitable the more globalization kicks in and the more Americanized people like me who possess a Mexican passport can easily access the country.

I’m not proposing a solution to a dilemma that will inevitably take its course regardless of what both governments say or do. We all know non-Cuban Americans have always had access to Cuba through Mexico. I’ve never been there myself but I hear you can request that your passport not be stamped so you do not have problems when you return home. I do remember visiting the Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacan and I must say that was an experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget. However, I do remember that I was not allowed to step up to the very top of the ‘Pyramid of the Moon’ but only half-way because of maintenance or whatever explanation they decided to give at the time. The point is that so many people frequent the place that it eventually begins to damage it. The view and experience from the very top is something I did not experience and probably never will. The same can be said for the Cuba that I read about in books throughout college. One day I will make it out there and I pray that the moment I get off my plane in Cuba I don’t see McDonalds or WalMart. I swear I will punch the person closest to me…

3 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Cuba

  1. I think our vision of our home country originates from “magical realism.” We read these grand stories of our country where the peasant prevails against the tyrant, watch these rag to riches stories on tele-novelas, and we pray that deep down that perhaps one day we’ll be lucky; One day we’ll leave our country and return to this magical realism that we dreamed about.

  2. In Vietnam, one Australian used the “time capsule” term to describe how immigrants leave their home country and think nothing changed in their homeland (culture, social norms, etc) thus they are stuck in their own “time capsule” not realizing that much has changed

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