What Cuba Could Be
“If we knew how to find the lost, we would know how to rediscover the parts of our minds left behind in battle.” - Margarita Engle, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom
The sun falling on downtown Havana showed the true Cuban dream of success had washed away into the Caribbean years ago. An area that was alive with music, families and more in the 1940's and 50's is decaying as if it was struck by a curse in 2000's.
It could be the perfect paradise, surrounded by the Straits of Florida, the Yucatan Channel and the Great Bahama Bank. However, it will remain the “Could be” and the washed up dreams as long as the citizens are not allowed to succeed.
While sitting in the fields of a tobacco farm where the famous Cuban Cigars are made by hand and talking to a sixth generation Tobacco farmer I realized the country will never be a true place of comfort.
The unnamed farmer told me, “JF Kennedy came here in the 1950's and bought about 1,500 of our cigars and then placed the American Embargo in place.” As he continued his story only got worse. “The Cuban government came to us and said we can either give them 90% of our crops or move,” he said. The 90% is used by the vicious Cuban Government today in their very own cigar factory.
I talked to a lot of residents in Cuba and learned that everyone pays 90% in taxes which means that the average income is about $300 per month. They live on 10%, never able to climb out of poverty, repair their homes or businesses from past hurricanes, never able to fully feed their families or reach their dreams. Heck, they aren't even allowed to travel off their island of paradise making it a prison of dreams of what “Could Be.”
Havana was once one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America. Today, it looks like a tidal wave of water has beat it one too many times. Today it looks as if a war destroyed the buildings leaving the sick and the poor in the streets searching for shelter.