Things That Matter

Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

Seven months after President Obama announced that the United States would begin normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Cuban flag is flying in the United States for the first time in 54 years. Large crowds gathered outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. as the flag was raised for the first time since 1961. Here’s what went down on this historic day:

Some people posed with the flag before it was raised.

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Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

That’s the same flag that was lowered in on January 3, 1961, when the US cut off diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Others celebrated with a cigar.

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Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

And while people inside in the Cuban Embassy enjoyed some snacks…

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Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

All eyes (and cameras) were on the Cuban Embassy building.

Cuban flag raised at embassy
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

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There were plenty of supporters on hand…

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Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Along with protestors.

In Miami, protestors lined the streets to make their voices heard.

Cuba embassy protest
Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

 Some engaged in debate…

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Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

And others sent messages to President Obama.

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Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty

Back in D.C., the flag was raised to cheers from the crowd.

And there's the flag ??

A video posted by Christian Toppenberg (@cebtopp) on

Others chanted, “Cuba sí, Castro no.”

READ: Ibeyi: Afro-Cuban Electro via Paris

After 54 years, the flag was flying in the U.S. once again.

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Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Three Cuban soldiers stood at attention while the flag made its way up the pole.

A new plaque went up…

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Secretary of State John Kerry made it official with a handshake…

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Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty

And the selfies started making their way to Instagram.

*Officially* a new neighbor on 16th St, #CubanEmbassy raised its flag and opened today. #Cuba #embassy #DC

A photo posted by Jason Dixson (@jasondixsonphoto) on

Some People Don’t Believe The Cuban Government Is Being Honest About The Number Of People Living To 100

Culture

Some People Don’t Believe The Cuban Government Is Being Honest About The Number Of People Living To 100

Alexander Kunze / Unsplash

Longevity is both the question and the answer to experts seeking to understand communities that live longer than average. In the U.S., wealth is often more correlated to health, with greater access to both healthcare and self-care. Cuba, however, is not a wealthy country. With the average monthly income being publicly listed as $30 per month, experts are puzzled as to why there are 2,070 Cubans living over 100 years old on the island.

Like many other communities of centenarians, experts suspect a strong family system is a key to a long life. Other experts suspect Cuba is lying.

The data on thousands of people living to 100 is released by Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health.

@AFP / Twitter

The data itself is based on the first quarter of 2017, which showed that more than 1,200 of the centenarians were women. According to the communist nation, 19.8 percent of its people are 60 years and older.

“Centennials now represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, with very special socioeconomic and health implications,” Dr. Alberto Fernández Seco, director of the Ministry’s Department of the Older Adult, Social Assistance and Mental Health told Juventud Rebelde.

Dr. Fernández Seco credits Cuba’s free healthcare for the success of its citizens.

“Health care is free in Cuba, a country with has an average life expectancy of 79.5 years. Photo: AFP” Digital Image. AFP. 2 July 2019.

What’s more is that Dr. Fernández Seco says the population isn’t demented, disabled or heavily dependent. The majority of those 100 years and older live with their family.

Rigoberta Santovenia, 102, credits her family for her ripe age.

“Rigoberta Santovenia, 102, at her home in Havana. Photo: AFP” Digital Image. AFP. 2 July 2019.

She lives with her 68-year-old daughter, Regla, who takes care of her. “I’m very family oriented — I love my children, my grandchildren, my six great-grandchildren. I’ve never been alone,” she said.

Regla is convinced her mom will make it to the “120 Club.”

“Rigoberta Santovenia, 102, reads a newspaper at her house in Havana. Photo: AFP” Digital Image. AFP. 2 July 2019.

In 2003, Fidel Castro’s personal doctor, Eugenio Selman-Housein, created the “120 Club,” which is promoted to this day. Dr. Raul Rodriguez, President of the “120 Club” maintains that “biologically, it has been proven that humans can live for 120 to 125 years.”

Regla thinks her mother was born to live to 120 years old. “Her great-grandmother was a slave. Slave blood seems to be stronger — that’s why she’s kept going so long,” Regla said. Rigoberta continues to read the newspaper every day without reading glasses.

Delia Barrios, 102, also says that it’s her family that keeps her going.

“Delia Barroso, 102, blows out the candles on her birthday cake at a party in Havana. Photo: AFP” Digital Image. AFP. 2 July 2019.

“I don’t feel like I’m this old. I have a family … that loves me a lot. That helps me to feel good,” she said. Barrios uses a motorized wheelchair–one that her great-granddaughter Patricia likes to join for the ride.

When Barrios was 60 years old, she was diagnosed with colon cancer and moved to the U.S.

“Delia Barroso (left) receives a present at her 102nd birthday party in Havana. Photo: AFP” Digital Image. AFP. 2 July 2019.

Twenty years later, she moved back to Cuba so she could be cared for by family. She lives with her granddaughter, Yumi, 59. Barrios says she spent her youth dancing, drinking, and smoking.

Plus, like most of our abuelas, she’s still dressed for success.

@newsroll / Twitter

For Cubans, reaching 100 isn’t the goal. They want to join the “120 Club,” and to live as you’ve still got two decades ahead of you, once you’ve reached 100 years old, certainly offers motivation.

Some experts, however, think Cuba is smudging the numbers for propaganda’s sake.

@EmbassyofRussia / Twitter

Robert Young, an expert with the U.S. Gerontology Research Group, does acknowledge the family support system as a significant factor. “We see that in Japan, too,” he says. On the other hand, he thinks the numbers are meant to propel “a myth that’s used for ideologic propaganda purposes.”

The methods of manipulation are shocking.

@AFP / Twitter

An expert on the matter for Cuba, specifically, Vincent Geloso, says that Cuban doctors “have targets to reach or they’re punished.” Geloso references a similar government’s strategy–the Soviet Union used to record infant deaths as miscarriages to keep down mortality rates.

Regardless, Cuba’s life expectancy relative to revenue is truly remarkable.

@ANTICONQUISTA / Twitter

It doesn’t add up to other countries. Experts have a range of theories ranging from the low rate of car ownership and resultant accident deaths to even the 1990’s food rationing that kept diabetes rates down while other countries’ skyrocketed.

Whatever the case may be, many feliz cumple’s a Cuba.

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Artists Open Cuba’s First Ever Sex Store, But It Won’t Last Long

Things That Matter

Artists Open Cuba’s First Ever Sex Store, But It Won’t Last Long

Cuba has come a long way since the communist rule of Fidel Castro. A lot of restrictions have been lifted including travel from the U.S. to the island (despite some Trump-era issues). Yet, there’s still a lot that the government there forbids including some luxuries that we can easily buy anytime we please.

Cuba forbids the sale of any obscene items, which means there are no sex shops until now.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

In New York, there are sex shops in every neighborhood. Even in the Bible belt, you can score sex toys at Adam & Eve, but in Cuba, it’s a whole different story. The island does not give out licenses or permits to vendors who sell anything sexual related. If you want a dildo, you have to sneak it into the country in your suitcase — that’s what the New York Post is reporting.

A group of artists successfully opened a sex pop-up store called “Consolez Vous” because technically it is “art” and not a typical business.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

Yanahara Mauri, Javier Alejandro Bobadilla, and Joan Díaz sought out to open a pop-up sex shop at this year’s Havana Biennial and to their surprise were approved.

“We want to break the taboos,” Mauri told the Post. “In the rest of the world, this is normal now.”

The group creates the sex toys in Cuba and use resources such as “entwined fish line for whips and resin for dildos.”

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

While demand continues to increase, according to the publication, some customers have complained that their sex toys aren’t as smooth as the silicone products that are sold everywhere else.

“At the end of the day, we are not harming anyone,” Ernesto said. “On the contrary, we are giving people benefits.”

The sex shop might be a pop-up but a lot of people are hoping they could become a regular occurrence on the island.

Credit: consolezvous1 / Instagram

What do you think about this pop up shop? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on the Facebook post.

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

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