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Hiiii Khloe, How’s Your Cuba Trip Going? Can We Chat About Something For A Sec?

Instagram / Khloe Kardashian

Hi Khloe! Have you been enjoying your family trip to Cuba? It’s a beautiful country, right? Minus its problems with infrastructure and its obstacles to quick and useful internet access, of course. I could see how that would be kind of annoying for a family so in tune with social media. But, hey, how about that super glamorous Chanel show in Havana! Nothing like an iconic Chanel jacket to go with your Che-chic beret, as Gisele Bünchen and I always say. What could it cost? Like, 25 bucks or so?

Anyway, apparently “the internet” is mad (when is it not lol) at you for a picture you recently posted on Instagram. This one, specifically:

Havana ??

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on

Credit: Instagram / khloekardashian

I have some questions!

  1. Can I steal your hat? I want it.
  2. Do you think pastels and neutrals are going to be in for much longer? I’ve been feeling this, like, burnt sienna velourgoth semi-punk Tumblr-famous bb grl vibe lately, but am not sure if that’s, like, a faux-pas/not quite right for summer. Thoughts?
  3. What are you doing?

I’m not mad at you, Khloe, for the record. (I know you were concerned about that!) I think you’re funny, I like you, you make me laugh, and I think you’re problematic as hell. People contain multitudes, we both know that.

I also think a lot of people who aren’t Cuban don’t really take the time to learn or care about Cuba, and I suspect this is true for most countries and cultures. That doesn’t make me sad or upset; it’s just sort of the way things are, you know? Like, you probably know a lot more about the Calabasas Jamba Juice than I do, because it’s your culture and more meaningful to you than it is to me.

Anyway! I think Fidel Castro was a really bad leader who has created a culture of suppression when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I do think things are getting marginally better in Cuba, and that makes me really happy. Nonetheless — and this is putting it charitably — Fidel strikes me as a questionable name to pose under.

I think we’re at a point now, Khloe, where it would be cool to see celebrities and other influential people with giant platforms and fanbases to learn more about Cuba, its people, its history and its present. I don’t expect everyone who delves into this to agree with me. But, as Cuba increasingly becomes (yet again) a focus of U.S. fascination, it’s worth knowing that it’s a place with an often painful, fraught history, and not merely a backdrop for American movies and photoshoots. Just something to think about when you open DASH: Camagüey or maybe consider partaking in a little Argentine revolutionary cosplay.

Again, love the hat!

READ: Obama agrees to have ‘cafecito’ with 76-year-old lady while visiting Cuba

What do you think about Khloe’s hat? I mean, her pose. Let us know!

Here’s The Little Known History Of How Cuba Took In And Treated Thousands Of Children After The Chernobyl Disaster

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Here’s The Little Known History Of How Cuba Took In And Treated Thousands Of Children After The Chernobyl Disaster

a.nilssenphoto / nicolebiente / Instagram

Everyone is talking about “Chernobyl,” the HBO miniseries that retells the apocalyptic nuclear accident in Ukraine and its chilling, bleak aftermath. The TV show is meticulous in its reconstruction of the Soviet Era event, pointing at how the government response tried to keep panic under control. Truth is, the accident was one of the worst the world has ever seen and in the years of the Cold War. It was a catastrophic reminder that even though we might have political and ideological differences, we only have one planet. 

The event happened on April 26, 1985, when the now infamous No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near Pripyat in what is now Ukraine, superheated and caused a steam explosion. Radiation was released and the area became uninhabitable. Casualties estimates vary depending on how they are counted: some only count the immediate aftermath of the accident, while others take into consideration the effects that radiation had on life expectancy. As many as 200,000 died, according to Greenpeace. At the time, more than 600,000 civilians and military personnel were drafted to contain the nuclear fallout. 

At the time, as you know (and if you don’t its time to brush up on your contemporary world history), the world was basically divided in three: countries that aligned with the United States, countries that aligned with the Soviet Union and a few non-aligned countries. Among the Soviet Bloc countries, Cuba stood out for its response to the Chernobyl disaster. How? Well, putting to work its team of world-renowned doctors, who treated young Ukrainians affected by the radiation. 

Cuba created a massive health center for the children of Chernobyl after the deadly disaster.

Credit: b065124cef5ae6971e0fd77ff3665214_XL. Digital image. Periodico 26

About 30 kilometers from Havana lay a holiday village that was converted into an enormous facility in which the Castro regime treated children that were affected by radiation poisoning. Most of these kids came from Ukraine, but up until 1992 the program also cared for little ones from Russia and Belarus. Originally Cuba received 139 children, but the number soon increased exponentially.

The number of treated children is impressive and quite shocking.

Credit: robblekkink / Instagram

As many as 25,000 children (yes, 25,000, a whole small town) were treated between 1990 and 2011, according to Cubadebate. This is a gargantuan effort that needed considerable logistical planning.

The illnesses these kids suffered required medical specialists.

Credit: chevy88uk / Instagram

The kids were mainly treated for cancer, deformations, and muscle atrophy. Among all the things that the revolutionary regime in the island could have done better, its medical training is not one of them. Cuban oncologists and physiotherapists are among the best in the world. Other specialties that were needed: dermatology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.

But why did the Cuban government do this?

Credit: 160413_abc_archive_chernobyl_kidscuba_16x9_992. Digital image. ABC News

Besides being aligned with the former Soviet Union, Cuba follows a principle of internationalism, which is a political principle which goes beyond nationalism and advocates a greater political or economic cooperation among nations and people. Cuban doctors have not only provided aid to these Ukranian children but have also spearheaded relief efforts in countries like Venezuela and Brazil. According to Foreign Affairs, “Cuban health care workers have given aid to 158 nations, and Cuba has trained 38,000 doctors from 121 countries without charge”. Those are really impressive numbers.

Despite tremendous efforts, this was not easy or cheap for Cuba.

Credit: f4b6dca0e2911082f0eb6e1df1a0e11d_XL. Digital image. ACFS Melbourne

The collapse of the Soviet Union, for which Chernobyl holds partial blame, was also a hard blow to Cuba’s economy. All of a sudden, Cuba’s main export customer was gone. Despite this, the Tarara center continued its operations. One Cuban doctor told TeleSUR in 2017: “Although Cuba went through economically difficult times, our state continued to offer specialized treatment to minors, fulfilling a commitment of solidarity”. Dr. Julio Medina, who was the general coordinator of the program, told the official newspaper, Granma: “Many people who are unaware of our ideals still wonder what Cuba might be after. It is simple: we do not give what we have in excess; we share all that we have”. 

Unfortunately, these efforts have been mostly ignored by Western media.

Credit: 040860_360W. Digital image. The New York Times

Despite being a feel-good story amidst the avalanche of bad news that we listen, read and watch every day, this story has been swept under the heavy rug of history, perhaps due to geopolitical reasons. At the time, outlets like The New York Times published information on the matter. With the success of HBO’s show, this has been pointed out. A reader of The Guardian, one Dr. Doreen Weppler-Grogan, wrote a letter stating: 

“No other country in the world launched such a massive programme. The Cubans responded – as ‘an ethical and moral,’ not a political question, as it was put at the time, and the programme continued despite changing governments in the Ukraine.”

“Today, the aftermath persists. Just a few weeks ago, Cuba announced that it will resume the programme in a new facility for the sons and daughters of the victims, who are now showing ailments similar to those of their parents.”

Tarara was a community, not only a big hospital.

Credit: art305 / Instagram

The facilities were adapted to provide a healthy environment for the victims. Besides the medical areas, it included schools, a cooking center, a theater, parks, and recreation areas. In 2005 one of the kids, a 16-year-old girl named Alina Petrusha, told the Sunday Telegraph: “It helps. We sit under the infrared lamp and they put a lotion on our heads. Then we go to the beach.”

Everyone knows how expensive medical treatments are, but for the patients being treated in Tarara, treatment was free.

Credit: Chernobyl / HBO

As reported by The Guardian in 2009, treatment at Tarara was free. Most children were orphans or came from very poor families who could not afford care. Then, the deputy director of the program, Dr. Maria Teresa Oliva, told The Guardian: ” Ukraine now has a capitalist economy and for most of the families these kinds of treatments are very costly. Here, thanks to the revolution, we can provide everything for free”. In 2009, Natalia Kisilova, mother of Mikhail Kisilov, a 15-year-old boy who was born with one outer ear and auditory canal missing, told Noticias Financieras: ‘In my country, the treatment that my son receives would cost 80,000 euros (105,362 dollars)”. This would have been unaffordable, to say the least.

The program survived due to Ukraine-Cuba collaboration.

Credit: lh91_uk / Instagram

It is estimated that Cuba spent $300 million USD a year in the program. By 2009  Ukraine covered transportation, while room, board, schooling, and medical services were covered by the Cuban government. In 2011 Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovich visited the center alongside then Cuban President Raul Castro. A year earlier the Ukranian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishenko said: “We will never forget what Cuba has done for us.”

You can watch this documentary to get the full story.

Credit: Chernobil en nosotros / Television Cubana

There is a 50-minute documentary that tells the story of the medical program at Tarara. Doctors talk about the effects of radiation in an approachable, if chilling, way. You can watch the documentary with English subtitles here

You can also watch this footage from AP about the program in Cuba for Chernobyl children.

Have you seen HBO’s “Chernobyl”?

READ: Here’s How Cuba’s Tumultuous History Forced A Cuban Diaspora That Changed The World

The Trump Administration Just Made It Harder For US Citizens To Travel To Cuba

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The Trump Administration Just Made It Harder For US Citizens To Travel To Cuba

vozfmradio / Instagram

Following up on an announcement back in April, the Trump administration has moved to further restrict travel to Cuba.

The US government announced major new restrictions on US citizens who want to travel to the island and is limiting the most popular method of visiting.

The announcement effectively bans the most common way Americans were traveling to the island.

Credit: @cnnbrk

These new restrictions block the most common way Americans are able to visit the island — through organized tour groups that license US citizens to travel automatically — and banning US cruise ships from stopping in the country.

American tourism is not explicitly permitted in Cuba. However, Americans can travel to Cuba if it is covered under specific categories, which included organized group travel, known as group people-to-people travel, until Tuesday.

The move is blamed on Cuba’s role in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the restrictions are a result of Cuba continuing “to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes.”

Commercial flights from the US will continue as normal.

After the Obama administration loosed travel restrictions to Cuba in 2014, many US-based airlines began service to the island. These flights will still be allowed to operate.

Officials in Cuba were quick to condemn the news.

Credit: @BrunoRguezP / Twitter

Cuban government statistics say US citizens have quickly grown to become the second largest foreign group visiting the island after Canadians. They also pointed out that the blockade and new travel restrictions are against international law.

Cuba is one of only two countries that US citizens can’t travel to freely.

Credit: @carlosgutierrez / Twitter

Many were surprised by the news because the Trump administration has positioned itself as a fan of deregulation and more ‘freedom’ for US citizens. However, this policy is limiting the rights and freedom of Americans who want to travel to Cuba.

Many worried travelers took to Twitter to check with cruise lines if their plans were still OK.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Unfortunately, most companies, including major cruise lines, were still short on details. Though according to the Treasury, travelers who already booked at least one part of their travel to Cuba will still be allowed to take their trip.

Others took to Twitter to share their stories of recent trips to Cuba and how this new policy only hurts the lives of local Cuban people.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

According to several sources, the US travel restrictions have the greatest impact on local Cubans and very little effect on the policies of the Cuban government.

I mean the blockade has been in place for more than 50 years. Has it achieved it stated goal yet?

While many were upset that other Americans may not have the chance to witness the country’s beauty.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

And that the Cuban people are being punished for the policies of their government.

But some were celebrating the move in a pretty sarcastic way.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Since in many countries, Americans don’t always have the best reputation as travelers. People often accuse us of being loud and kinda entitled when we travel.

But overall most people reacted with disappointment.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The travel ban and economic blockade have been in place in one form or another for more than 50 years and they’ve had little effect.

US citizens are allowed to travel to other communist countries, so why is the US singling out Cuba?

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