The communist country of Cuba has a population of a little more than 11 million residents.
If one were to read the basic statistics of Cuba, one might be led to believe it is a peaceful place to live filled with freedoms. For example, the unemployment rate is a low 1.7%. Residents have the joy of seeing beautiful tropical views daily and the cars… Most are 1950’s daily drivers that are fun to look at and fun to own.
However, out of a population of over 11 million residents, only 331,000 (calculated in 2014) have the freedom to own their own cell phone.
Up until about 2008, private citizens were prohibited from buying a computer or accessing the internet, never seeing what is beyond the clear Caribbean waters they are surrounded by. No, internet and cellphones are not everything, but they are two shining examples of the lack of freedom that exists. Another issue is that freedom of speech is non existent in Cuba.
Today in 2018 the capital of Cuba actually has government owned hotels that offer internet service at a cost of $1.50 to $4.50 per hour. However, multiple sites and applications are blocked.
That lack of freedom is one major reason why residents of Cuba like Julio are fleeing the country and heading to America. I met Julio on the streets of Kentucky. While he is homeless today and lacks a smart phone to access the internet, he does have that one word that so often we forget about… Freedom. For that, he is a blessed man.
I could barely understand the words that Julio spoke as his English was poor, but his life was now rich with the freedom to express his own fears, his thoughts and struggles.