Oh, Yeah! Cuba. (Part 1)

 

About three years ago I traveled to Cuba with my family. For a couple of reasons, I decided against writing a post about it. Perhaps one day I’ll do my best to convince you that Communism is not where it’s at.

I did, however, plan to put together some of my better photographs from the trip and let y’all have a look, but my computer crashed shortly after I returned and it has taken time to track the pictures down from my family. It takes a bit of time to transport pictures electronically — even if you’re not technologically-challenged like myself — and I thought you might prefer it if the collections are shorter, so I’ll break it up and see if y’all are interested.

For this first post, I’ll show Havana. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the ones we got on a different camera that show “Old Town,” which is where tourists spend most of their time (especially the ones who say how great the place is.) On our trip, we were fortunate to have a guide whose goal was to show the “real” Cuba. As a result, we didn’t spend more than a few hours there, and the only pictures I have of it here are on the periphery.

So, anyway, here’s the “real” Havana:

Building like this – with caved in roofs or collapsed balconies – are all over the city.

 

Another balcony that has collapsed, with rebars left sticking out. Considering the faded paint, it may have been years ago that the collapse occurred, without any reconstruction in the works.

 

One of the few “Old Town” photos I have.

 

The building that is second from the far right has a sign that reads “Viva Fidel!” These signs are all over the country.

 

 

Not exactly a “Cuban” building.


If memory serves, the ominous building to the left is the Russian Embassy.

The Hotel Nacional

Carnivals like this apparently take place every weekend, well into the early morning. This was taken from the Hotel Nacional

 

 

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  1. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    That courtyard in the Old Town picture… cobblestone?

    • #1
  2. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    That courtyard in the Old Town picture… cobblestone?

    I believe so. That part of the city looks like Spain. Beautifully preserved. 

    • #2
  3. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    It’s really cool that you got to see it. Well, cool and depressing. When I was little, my parents went to Cuba on a vacation (yep I’m old). But that was before the Revolution got its hands on the place:

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    • #3
  4. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    It’s really cool that you got to see it. Well, cool and depressing. When I was little, my parents went to Cuba on a vacation (yep I’m old). But that was before the Revolution got its hands on the place:

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    If it weren’t for that first picture, they could claim that they have color now. 😉

    That must’ve been some time! My grandparents were in Miami in the 40s before they moved north. They never made it over to Cuba, but my Great Grandparents did. 

    • #4
  5. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Is it my imagination or are some of those taller buildings leaning?

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It’s a third-world country. Reminds me of sections of Nepal from a few years ago. Sad.

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    It’s really cool that you got to see it. Well, cool and depressing. When I was little, my parents went to Cuba on a vacation (yep I’m old). But that was before the Revolution got its hands on the place:

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    These are pictures of when your folks were there?

    • #7
  8. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    These pictures are amazing! I wouldn’t step out on those crumbling balconies! A friend of ours went when it opened up – he took some great pictures too. Do you speak Spanish?  It’s like time just stopped.  The little kids were psyched to get their picture taken he said.  Wish car makers would go back to those great colors – everything today is black, white or gray.

    Samuel – what do you think about that story of the American and Canadian diplomats and the “sound” attack where they have suffered permanent damage? It’s clearly the old Soviet tactics – and they are still in charge and let these people live in squalor – 90 miles off the FL coast……No wonder those that made it to FL have no use for the old government and were against Obama’s decision to lift pressure – it doesn’t seem to have helped them or boosted their living standards.  Thank you for sharing this eye-opening post.

    • #8
  9. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Looks like Latin America to me.

     

    • #9
  10. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    I went through the pictures again, looking for CDR signs, possibly indicating the presence of block captains whose job is to snitch on counterrevolutionary behavior. I don’t see anything like that. But I bet those folks were out there, watching!

    • #10
  11. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    It’s really cool that you got to see it. Well, cool and depressing. When I was little, my parents went to Cuba on a vacation (yep I’m old). But that was before the Revolution got its hands on the place:

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    These are pictures of when your folks were there?

    The top one is from about the same time as they were there – the mid-1950s. The second one looks like the 40s to me.

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Is it my imagination or are some of those taller buildings leaning?

    I thought the same thing. I sure wouldn’t want to go into one of them.

    • #12
  13. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Is it my imagination or are some of those taller buildings leaning?

    That’s probably on me.

    Collapsed second floors or balconies were pretty common around the city, but the skyscrapers that look like they’re leaning were probably just pictures I took at a slight angle – a lot of them were taken from a moving car.

    • #13
  14. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Looking forward to the next part. I have heard that things have gotten more difficult in Cuba recently.

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly
    @Misthiocracy

    Samuel Block: So, anyway, here’s the “real” Havana:

    It’s heartbreaking to see the poverty caused by America’s embargo of that great nation.

    ;-) 

    • #15
  16. MichaelHenry Member
    MichaelHenry
    @MichaelHenry

    I spent four days and nights in Cuba in March. With the help of an English-speaking guide, I saw much of Habana and some of the countryside within a 75 km radius of the city. The island itself is  gorgeous. The architecture in Habana, though crumbling, is breathtaking. The  Soviet-style apartment buildings, power plants, and official government buildings are ugly and out of place, a blight on the city and countryside.

    I am aware of the suppression and imprisonment of political “dissidents” and the repression of the population by the regime. But, as a tourist, I saw very little police or military presence, and never discussed the gross suppression of Cubans by the pre-and post-Castro regime with my guide or locals. I did see a number of Chinese oil rigs on the coast near Habana.

    The only statement I can make with confidence about Cuba is that it is a third-world country.

    It’s a shame that political conflict has deprived the locals of prosperity and a meaningful future, and limited the ability of Cubans and norteamericanos to interact, trade, and be neighbors in the true sense of the word.  

    • #16
  17. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Outstanding pics, Block.

    Now, find “Old Town” and post ’em.

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly
    @Misthiocracy

    John H. (View Comment):

    Looks like Latin America to me.

    Sure, other Latin American cities have their large areas of relative poverty and squalor.  The difference is that those other cities are trending towards improvement, not falling apart like Havana:

    Sao Paulo, Brazil:

    Santiago, Chile:

    San Jose, Costa Rica:

    Mexico City, Mexico:

    Medellin, Colombia:

    Buenos Aires, Argentina:

    To see Cuban levels of decline, you need to go to Venezuela, Haiti, or Detroit and/or Baltimore.

    • #18
  19. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    MichaelHenry (View Comment):

    I spent four days and nights in Cuba in March. With the help of an English-speaking guide, I saw much of Habana and some of the countryside within a 75 km radius of the city. The island itself is gorgeous. The architecture in Habana, though crumbling, is breathtaking. The Soviet-style apartment buildings, power plants, and official government buildings are ugly and out of place, a blight on the city and countryside.

    I am aware of the suppression and imprisonment of political “dissidents” and the repression of the population by the regime. But, as a tourist, I saw very little police or military presence, and never discussed the gross suppression of Cubans by the pre-and post-Castro regime with my guide or locals. I did see a number of Chinese oil rigs on the coast near Habana.

    The only statement I can make with confidence about Cuba is that it is a third-world country.

    It’s a shame that political conflict has deprived the locals of prosperity and a meaningful future, and limited the ability of Cubans and norteamericanos to interact, trade, and be neighbors in the true sense of the word.

    We were lucky to have a guide who was able to pursue a law degree in England, and therefore was very confident that he could get away with speaking his mind. 

    He loves the country and it’s people. An enterprising man, he’s got his share of beef with the regime: one issue he shared with me is that the cows on his property belong to the state. If he were to shoot it, he’d be liable to get 18 years in prison. 

    I loved the people I met too (but I believe most of them were beneficiaries of their parent’s or grandparent’s party affiliation). The most endearing part of Cuba was its nationalism. It really is a shame.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):
    or Detroit

    Hey now!

    • #20
  21. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Looking forward to the next part. I have heard that things have gotten more difficult in Cuba recently.

    Thanks! When I was there, people seemed cautiously hopeful about potential regime changes for the better. Apparently Raúl was much more lenient, but I’m not sure if he’s serving as much more than the figurehead now. I think some of the excitement was that one of Guevera’s grandkids might take over, which makes me wonder how realistic their hopes were.

    I haven’t followed it too closely  since though. Unfortunately, they got hit by a hurricane about a week after we got back to Florida. :(

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly
    @Misthiocracy

    MichaelHenry (View Comment):
    It’s a shame that political conflict has deprived the locals of prosperity and a meaningful future, and limited the ability of Cubans and norteamericanos to interact, trade, and be neighbors in the true sense of the word.

    No other countries had embargoes against Cuba.  They could have been trading freely with the whole world, and yet for some reason the streets of Havana aren’t crawling with Toyotas or Volvos.  

    • #22
  23. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    John H. (View Comment):

    I went through the pictures again, looking for CDR signs, possibly indicating the presence of block captains whose job is to snitch on counterrevolutionary behavior. I don’t see anything like that. But I bet those folks were out there, watching!

    There was a lot of Communist graffiti in Havana. Most of it was pretty generic:

    “Socíal o muerte!” and “Viva Fidel” we’re common. And I don’t get the sense that this was spontaneous rebellion, but rather state-sponsored “activism.” 

    • #23
  24. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    John H. (View Comment):

    Looks like Latin America to me.

     

    You haven’t been to South America I’d guess.

    • #24
  25. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I Walton (View Comment):

    John H. (View Comment):

    Looks like Latin America to me.

    You haven’t been to South America I’d guess.

    You obviously have not been reading John’s conversations. Dig back through his history. They are fascinating.

    • #25
  26. Bill Nelson Inactive
    Bill Nelson
    @BillNelson

    There is a good bokk titled “Trading With the Enemy”. It was written by a rather progressive author who makes some statements that he fails to realize the problem. One of those is that is Castro just did “this”, things would improve. But that statement is predicated on an autocracy, where the leader makes the decisions, not on the people making decisions.

    Which is, of course, Cuba’s problem.

     

    • #26
  27. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Hmmm. So now there are no pictures.

    Is that just me?

    • #27
  28. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Hmmm. So now there are no pictures.

    Is that just me?

    One picture.

    • #28
  29. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Hmmm. So now there are no pictures.

    Is that just me?

    One picture.

    Cuban meddling! 

    • #29
  30. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Hmmm. So now there are no pictures.

    Is that just me?

    It is not.

    • #30
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