And the wind has no air…
where the walls speak of times of despair.
I look but not for very long…
Broken glass and shattered dreams abound,
and in the distance a song,
that vanishes beneath the street.
Five hundred years of history…
Five hundred tons of gold,
Five times the price of ivory
and of jewelry of old,
You were once worth…
But the sweetness of the breeze
has long deserted this fair street
where once so many lived, I’m told…
Now the houses are all broken,
their ceilings on the ground,
and although there’s people here,
there’s nobody around…
Just ghosts dancing to the sounds
of trumpets, flutes and drums,
longing, longing, always longing
to be far, so far from home.
I wanted to paint a picture of the Havana that I saw when I visited Cuba back in 2015 with these few words. The old quarter of Havana, La Habana Vieja, is beautiful beyond compare but due to lack of maintenance, the old buildings are falling down. People live in cut up houses that had once been magnificent mansions. They pray that during the night the ceiling doesn’t come down upon them. It is a pity and left me saddened to see the way people live in Havana. Of course, these streets are far from the tourist sectors that the government has propped up to give a false impression of what Cuba really is. Now I find out that at nights there is no electricity in most of these old neighbourhoods of La Habana.
Reference the photograph above which I took in 2015. The gentleman selling newspapers is quite well known on Calle Obispo, the main tourist street in La Habana Vieja. He buys the papers for one centimo and sells them for two. He makes nothing. One hundred centimos is equal to one peso. It takes twenty three pesos to make one CUC (Cuban Unit Convertible, this is the only currency that can be traded in communist Cuba) and one CUC plus thirteen centimos CUC to make one US Dollar, (yes when you exchange US Dollars, they charge you a surcharge of 13%). Just to give you an idea of what someone earns in Cuba, retirees make 250,00 Cuban Pesos a month, which is less than $11 US Dollars…
This is the fault of the Cuban government. There is no blockade imposed by the United States. The US has in place a commercial embargo on the island but the Cuban government is free to negotiate with the rest of the world. The people are not suffering because of the embargo, they are suffering and poor because of their government. Recently the Chinese government gave the Cuban dictator, Raul Castro, a grant of close to two billion dollars and the Russians constantly reinforce his economy. And I say his economy because he is the only beneficiary. The people are poor because the communist government wants them that way. It is sad but it is the truth. I visited because I wanted to see some friends but I will not return. Returning only provides hard currency to the government. What you spend in Cuba does not help the ordinary folk.
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