Cub the truth

Guest lostgringo

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Guest lostgringo

Funny I used to romatasize about Cuba. I used to think that what happens in resorts was country wide...people dancing in the streets..hap[y faces and so on. This year I flew to Havana and stayed at a Casa Particular with a Cuban family. My eyes were opened.

First, the Cubans living in Havana and any major city away from the resors are different than those who live near the resorts. Too many disadvantages to mention here. They absolutely HATE Castro. Yet, the Cubans (for the most part) on the resort like him. It is easy to see why without going into detail.

I watched walking (almost shuggling) along the street in the morning going to work. No smiles on their faces and their heads down. I exployed Old Havana and observed the rotting building that are literally falling apart. Secret Police on most corners try to blend in but everyone knows who they are. The underground economy in Cuba is strong. I went to bars where the locals hung out. I watched many black with their eye teeth done in gold. I was told they were pimps. There is a strong criminal element in Cuba also.

Many people think that things will immediately change when Castro dies. For the first few years I see utter chaos.

The Cubans that excited may be able to help thire brothers in Cuba in the long run. They may just be the link to make everything work. I don't think for one minute that the Cubans in the US and Canada for example will ever turn their backs on the Cuban people. Their Cuban blood runs too strong.

People think that just because a Cuban makes it to the US he is austrasized (sp) by his family and friends. This is not true. I think that many people admire them for trying to get out of Castro's grip. Do any of you know the punishment for trying to escape from Cuba? Try 10 years imprisonment and when you are let out of prison you will not be employed by the state. They will not give you a place to sttay and will not give you a job. You are left to walk the street and fend for yourself.

I have been to Cuba many times on cigar buying trips and in the last year I have finally come to realize the real Cuba.

I am sorry if I bursted any of your bubbles here.

On the upside Castro is loosining his grip a bit. For example, he is allowing certain people to rent out apartments and rooms in their houses. He is allowing certain people to use part of their house as a restaurant. This is of course, highly regulated.

I could see somewhat of a rebellian when Castro dies. I am sure the CIA is already doing some preparation for this.....:-D Lastly, last time I was in Havana I was sad to see the city in the state it is in. I cannot believe that a Dictator like Castro has gotten away with it for so many years.

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You have burst no-one's bubble as what you have detailed has been detailed here on FOH time and time again.

I have never been to a Cuban resort so I cannot comment. I have travelled throught Cuba and if you think things are bad in is like Manhattan compared to the rest of the place. Go to the little country towns where there is absolutely no work excluding agriculture where one cannot purchase fuel, fertiliser or pesticides. As for housing in these area's...they only wish they had a falling down Havana apartment.

Crime in Havana is increasing, particularly after the crack downs since 2003 in which the Government has tried to seperate local Cubans from contact with tourists. It is a serious crime now to sell cigars on the streets to tourists. Few do it and you can work from the Malecon to the Caitolio building without being approached....unheard of before.

Add to this a revaluation in curreny of + 8% and an 11% surcharge in credit card purchases and you have one of the most expensive places in the America's to travel. Tourist numbers are down ( officially they are not) and given that a large % of Havana survives off tourism in one form or is a problem and a stimulus for crime. I have personally not experienced a problem. I would still feel more comfortable walking 5 km at 4 am in Havana than any other major city in the world including my own.

Let us not forget the effect of the US embargo. If it was just US companies not permitted to invest in Cuba it would be no big deal. However, the embargo forbids any American istitution investing in any company which trades or invests in Cuba. Just think about that. The leading European companies in agriculture, medicine, foodstuffs etc will not deal with Cuba (at least directly) as they cannot afford to upset their US shareholding interests. The Cuban market is so small...why cause a problem.

Then there is the Cuban Gov't. Much despised in Havana...not much better loved outside of it. As much as it is despised, there is no love for an enforced external change. This scares local's more than anything else. With no assets, no cash they would be dishwashers and porters for the restof their lives as outsiders cherry picked the best Cuba has to offer.

I think everyone here on this board knows this. It has been brought up time and time again. There may be differences in opinion with the best end solution but no-one here believes Cuba is a some sort of eutopia. It makes the best cigars on the planet . I think it makes the best rum. It has some of the warmest and friendliest people in the world who are living under terrible conditions. They are also amongst the most educated and patient. I love the people. I have great friends there for whom I am deeply concerned. I am no flag bearer for the government and never have been.

I just believe the next step is the most crucial one Cuba has ever faced.

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Guest lostgringo

I agree with what you are saying. It makes allot of sense. I guess what I was getting at is I used to have my head buried in the sand. I did not know the real Cuba and quite frankly, did not want to because I liked the fantasy I was having.

It terms of selling cigars on the street. I have been to Cuba for years. In Havana you should get approached by at least 5-10 guys all wanting to sell you cigars. In the market especially and outside of the cigar factories. It is great place for them to sell you cigars because many people think that they really have a brother, uncle sister ect.,.,.,., working there.

I won't get into any details about the factories themselves or the black market in Cuba. Suffice it to say, if it can be duplicated especially cigar bands and stamps it will be done. Often you will see guys running around kind of hiding a book and approaching you cautiously....they open the book and show you a collection of "vintage" cigar really look good and I wonder how many people get sucked in. Crime is still in Cuba but it is hidden for the most part.

I was sitting in front of my favorite hotel not far from the Partiaga Factory have one of my Cuban cigars and cervasa. A beautiful blonde yes blonde) sites down beside me. She wants me to be her "special" date for the night. I chuckle because she was drop dead gorgious and younger than my youngest daughter. But in order to get into the patio area where I was sitting you have to pass a guard and a few hosts. I am certain that if I were to go with her, these guys would get some part of the action, some kickback.

I you want to eat wonderful lobster, shrimp, wine, a (fake) cohiba and some rice for just $12 in someone's house, it can often be arranged by any host at any hotel. Everyone is connected in Cuba. It is the way they survive.

Just recently Castro increased the costs for electricity. I was talking to a friend of mine (in Havana), who mentioned his father cannot afford the rent where he lives. The money Castro gives him is less than the amount Castro takes. His was a gold medelist in basketball as a youngster. Now he depends on his son to survive. And his son helps out be selling cigars. But he sells his cigars descretly and not on the street.

Every Cuban who works in the cigar factories is allowed to take home 2 cigars a day. They can smoke all they want in the factory. Quite oftern the workers will collect 25 of these original cigars but not on the street. This is done through the black market. Nice and quite as to not disturb the system.

And I also agree with the statement that the next step in Cuba's entry or NOT into world trade will be of great importance. I know there are allot of American companies that would love do business with them. It is not mentioned much but Cuba has some of the best beaches in the world. I know that if Cuba were to open up I would be in there like a dirty shirt buying property in Veradero close to the beach.

On last thing I would like to mention is the American influence in Cuba. When I was walking down the streets I saw so much Nike shoes and tee shirts and NYY ball caps. They even sell Nike in the stores...yes they do....and I think someone should tell Mre. Bush. The nike price tag is pretty high. And, if you think it is easy to go to bars and see Cuban Salsa forget it. You will long, far and wide to find one. I imagine they are there but I was not able to find one. I did go to a dance Reggaeton....pretty wild I must say..

One day (maybe),I will share a little story about Arnold and his love for didn't say Cuban so don't flame me guyy lol.

Thanks for the comments I always like talking about Cuba.

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» On last thing I would like to mention is the American influence in Cuba.

» When I was walking down the streets I saw so much Nike shoes and tee

» shirts and NYY ball caps.

I saw a documentary where a lad was wearing a tattered old NY Giants cap and we aren't talking Football. That made me smile.

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The place is a mess....has been for a long time and getting worse by the year. Crime in the main is petty and based on survival. I couldn't give a rat's arse about fake cigars, fake bands, fake antique stamps, fake antique books, a $2 gouge on a taxi fare etc. If I was in their shoes I would bet I would be a master black market operator.

By crime I mean physical crime which is also on the increase. Hard core prostitution is no worse than the bar at the Venetian in Las Vegas. I am sure they tip security as well as do the better prostitutes in every city of the world.

Salsa is another thing altogether :lol: next time you are in town try the Salon Rojo or the Corcodillo

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about to jump on a plane so no time to read right thru but keen to do so when back. saw the line about chaos after castro and completely agree. i think that it will be bedlam. crime will hike hugely and a lot of the people that think it will all be roses will be very disappointed. i think that there is every chance post castro that it will be another bali or cancun or koh samui etc etc with higher crime. and then i can't see much point in visiting. leave it to those that do the bali thing. great shame, though this does not excuse or justify in any way lend credence to what castro has done to cubans. they have a lot more pain ahead and they don't deserve it. if there is a heaven, i expect it to be a fidel-free zone.

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Guest lostgringo

Well said. I feel exactly the same way about their transition to freedom if and when Castro dies, and if his brother desides a different course than Castro. I would love to see a general election. I don't see that happining. And I don't know if the people have it in them to revolt. Here is something I learned from the Cubans I sat and had rum with. They do NOT hate Amerians. They love to hear all about the USA. They don't like the United States Government, but not the people.

On my last trip to Cuba I met two Amercians in Havana. They were having a great time. They had no fear of being attacked or anything of the sort because they were American. Cuba is very safe for all tourists. But you still have to use common sense. What Amercans don't know is Cuban Immigration will NEVER stamp their passport. Why I don't know. I even asked them to do it to mine and they would not. You get a tourist Visa and that is it.

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It's really sad to see such wonderful people suffer. And it makes it even sadder for me because I doubt much will change when Fidel dies, because I'm sure Raul will keep the yoke on their backs just as heavy as his brother did :-(

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