Re: Home is sweet - compared to Cuba, The Record, June 3.
I am writing regarding Jennifer Moreau's article on Cuba. I would caution anyone, particularly a "journalist," who parachutes into a country like Cuba for a few short days and then is of the mind that they can offer accurate political commentary.
I have been to Cuba every two months for the past two years. I know a great number of families there and I have a girlfriend there. As a result my experience is perhaps more extensive than Jennifer's.
Having said that, stating silly things like people using the Granma for toilet paper leaves me fuming.
I am sure in some quarters of the population here in the GVA some unfortunate soul may have done the same with your paper but does this equate to social commentary or accurately reflect the availability of toilet paper? Really! Toilet paper is in abundance in Cuba but the quality is generally poor.
If the Granma is used it is more likely due to a person not being able to afford to purchase some at the time. In fact, the Granma itself is not easy to find in many parts of Cuba particularly west of Havana.
It is one thing to comment on the dollars earned per day but one must also layer in how that relates to the respective cost of living in Cuba. You left out the part about the two currency system in Cuba.
Some things are tremendously affordable for Cuban citizens and others are tremendously expensive. It depends upon many factors. You are correct on the literacy remark. Did you also know that the average Cuban life span equates with the U.S. at around 78 years and this is partly due to a fully accessible (though often under resourced) health care system. This is also due to other factors like a lack of obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
As much as we may criticize the government, by default Cuba offers us a glimpse into the past. What did people look like physically when more of the work was done manually? I am always impressed by how fit and strong even the elderly men are.
What did the coral reef systems of the Carribean look like before chemical fertilizer run-off? Cuba has a fantastically preserved reef system and the diving is amazing. What did people do together before everyone had a tech device tethered to their hand? What was it like when families routinely sat around the table together to eat their meals? What is it like in a country where half the people get around on bicycles, where public transit is heavily used and where hitchiking is not only lawful but commercial vehicles must pick them up when they are empty and can carry people - say - in the back of their dump truck? What is it like in a non-throw away society?
I'm sorry, Jennifer. Your commentary was light. Sadly you missed most of the important and fascinating nuances of this island country that historically has had the influence of a continent.
Kirby Briggs, by e-mail