HAVANA, Cuba. – In early July, the USA Today portal described Cuba as a privileged tourism destination. Contrary to what this publication says, however, if I were a foreigner, it would never occur to me to spend my vacation in Cuba, at least not now.
I don’t deny the natural beauty of my country, especially the beaches, nor its artistic and cultural richness, particularly its music, and, why not, its native cuisine. As it happens, however, since 1959, Cuba has endured a dictatorship that is now in its sixty-second year. That dictatorship ruins everything, especially the lives of its people.
Below, I will list five reasons why, if I were a foreigner, I would not visit the island.
Cuba is not the paradise that it is purported to be
Since I would not be happy cooped up in an air-conditioned hotel in Varadero or in the northern keys, I would like to see what the real life of Cubans is all about. In doing so, if I am allowed to, I would be terribly depressed with the state of neglect and filth in which most cities and towns are. That is, unless they show me Potemkin towns built for the enjoyment of tourists. I’m referring to the miserable shanty towns on the outskirts of cities and the propped-up buildings in a state of ruin, on the verge of collapse and putting at risk the lives of its dwellers.
The socialist dream does not exist
Knowing that Cubans live under the oldest communist dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere, I would be very upset if I got the feeling that I was visiting a socialist theme park, a hoax, where hungry and shabby people who gaze at you like zombies are forced to pretend that they are happy and thankful to Fidel Castro, and that they support the so-called “revolution”. I would be incensed to witness how most people speak in whispers, as if walls had ears or just in case there was an informer nearby, when they enumerate their complaints, if they have any, and which they will blame on the U.S. embargo and not on the inefficiency and indifference of their rulers and of the system itself.
Shams and other social ills
I would feel very uncomfortable knowing that I am under the constant watch of people who want to deceive me and swindle me out of my money. It could be the poor devils that offer you anything on the street, whether a room rental or cigars or marihuana, or “jineteras” –young female prostitutes- or “pingueros” –young male prostitutes- people who will do anything to please you and will feign to be in love and ready to marry you. It could also be customs workers or store and hotel employees, always ready to collect tips or bribes. They are all friendly, but like sharks, they are ready to attack you.
The lies of the Revolution
If I were somewhat informed, I could not stand the avalanche of lies about the kindness of the revolution. It would make me vomit if I were to be taken to the holy sites of Castro’s revolution or to be forced to stare at the T-shirts with Che Guevara’s face on them, his Bolivian diary or caps and berets bearing the red guerrilla star.
Health and personal security
Last, but not least, my health and personal security, and that of my loved ones. Cuba boasts of being a safe place, where you can go for a stroll at any time without any problem. That is true, not taking into consideration some thug who might grab your wallet and bags. With the dismal state of the roads, the many potholes in the streets, and poor traffic signs, the real problem is traffic accidents. Worse yet, the poor state of sanitation in innermost Cuba, the swarms of mosquitos and flies as well as cockroach infestation everywhere, means there is a great possibility of becoming ill. One can get sick from dengue fever, which is now endemic. Or from scabies, if you go to bed with someone you pick up. At that moment, if you don’t fall for the PCR test or another health protocol, after isolation, you run the risk of contracting COFID-19, because Cuba has opened-up again to tourism in the height of the pandemic, when hospitals, morgues and cemeteries are collapsing.
I could enumerate additional reasons, but I don’t want to alarm you or depress you. I hope you don’t think I am being terribly subjective, or what’s worse, unpatriotic. From the start, I told you that what is wrong is not Cuba or the Cuban people, but the regime. You can be sure that, were it not for the Castro regime, Cuba is so beautiful it would be a paradise.
The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of its author, and do not represent necessarily the opinion of CubaNet.
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