Culture

What Cubanos Really Think Of All The Tourists Taking Over Their Beloved Cuba

Writer-photographer Walter Thompson-Hernández, the creator behind Blaxicans of Los Angeles, is currently in Cuba, where he is meeting, and photographing, Cubans across the island. Along the way, he’s asked Cubans, young and old alike, about their views, hopes and concerns for their country’s future.


Even as Cuba sits on the precipice of what might be yet another large scale economic and political restructuring, for many of the island’s youth–and an increasing number of foreign tourists–the revolutionary propaganda that lines the island’s streets exist only as a reminder of an era in Cuba’s history that has been canonized by popular culture. For others, however, the revolution is more than aesthetic or hallowed rhetoric. These people, well into their golden years, can still vividly recall the day their lives were directly impacted by the outset of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Some were young children, while others were well into their early 20s when the first shots were fired on the Southern shores of Playa Girón.

All of these perspectives form the Cuban experience. Here, then, are the stories of the Cuban people — young and old — in their own words:

Pedro and Giovanny, 11

Pedro and GiovannyCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“People always get us confused for each other and our teacher says we’re the best mathematicians in our school.”

Bertha and Ignacia, 75 and 73

Bertha and Ignacia
Credit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“We’ve been friends for over 40 years. We’ve seen it all.”

Yasmani, 24

YasmaniCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I’m a writer, poet, radio dj, and cultural promoter. I am inspired by my reality and my society. I try to change the negative things that I encounter. When I started my first poetry project called “El Sendero De La Poesía,” I was told that I was crazy, but as time has passed, people saw that I wasn’t crazy. That project has united a lot of people that I love. It’s always important to change reality for the better.”

Juan, 86

JuanCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I am grateful that I have friends and family that take care of me. I go to church almost every day where they help with my laundry, give me food, and allow me to socialize with my group of friends.”

Mercedes, 32

MercedesCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I think tourists help our economy, but I don’t like to socialize with them because a lot of them come to Cuba for the wrong reasons. I think we’re going to have to find ways to become more self-sufficient in the future.”

Mari Julia, 84

Mari JuliaCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“Life can be difficult here, but we find ways to overcome a lot of the challenges that we face.”

Hector, 14

HectorCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I’m from central Havana and baseball is my favorite sport; I hope to achieve the things I want to achieve through it. I don’t know what the future looks like, but I just hope that I can keep playing baseball.”

Camita, 86

CamitaCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“Cooking allows me remember my mother and what she taught me. I don’t know what the future looks like, but I do know that I hope I can cook for as long as I live.”

Reynaldo and Ivan, 7 and 10

Reynaldo and IvanCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I’m his older brother.”

Maria Luisa, 75

Maria LuisaCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

Maria Luisa is unable to speak. She is battling Alzheimer’s.

Surisaday, 25

SurisadayCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I am from El Cobre, a small neighborhood here in Santiago de Cuba. I’m a singer and go against the grain, trying to move past a lot of the limitations that we experience here. I’m always trying to inspire young people like myself.”

Omar, 75

OmarCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I work as a watchman and look after this home every night. When I was younger I traveled to Guatemala to work for the government, but now my days are spent watching this home. I was happy that President Obama visited the island – now I want to see Cuba reach levels it’s never reached before.”

Maite, 20

MaiteCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I studied music and piano in school for many years. I also earned a lot of national awards and graduated. I realized that I wanted more than classic piano, so I began to sing when I was 11 years old. Today, I’m a singer, producer, manage several groups, and helped to bring the Manana festival to Santiago.”

Hilario, 81

HilarioCredit: Walter Thompson-Hernández

“I live in Los Angeles and I am back to visit my family. I moved to the United States in 1967 and worked in different jobs. I retired years ago and spend a lot of time with other Cubans who also left the island in L.A.”


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

Cuban Doctors Arrive In Italy To Combat The Coronavirus– Demonstrate History Of Global Humanitarian Commitment

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Cuban Doctors Arrive In Italy To Combat The Coronavirus– Demonstrate History Of Global Humanitarian Commitment

USA Today/ Twitter

Communist-run Cuba received a round of applause yesterday after it was shown that the country had dispatched a fleet of doctors and healthcare providers to Italy.

Since the 1959 revolution, the Caribbean country has sent Cuban medical personnel overseas to disaster sites around the world, particularly in poor countries.

Cuban medical internationalism is the Cuban program that has sent doctors to the most underserved corners of the world. Its broad sweep of mission program has seen the country attend to 37 countries in Latin American countries,33 African countries and 24 Asian countries. In the face of the 2010s Cholera outbreak in Haiti and West Africa, the Cuban doctors played a key part in the relief.

And while a — research study pointed out that the country has provided more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined, Cuba’s aid to Italy in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic is notably surprising. After all, this is the first time that Cuba has sent an emergency unit to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries and also the one worst affected by the disease. Cuba’s presence there demonstrates it’s role as a medical commodity.

On Monday, the Cuban doctors were seen arriving in Italy to assist in combatting Covid-19.

According to Reuters, this is the sixth medical group that Cuba has sent in recent days to fight the spread of the disease. Recently it sent contingents to doctors to its socialist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua. It also sent doctors to Jamaica, Suriname, and Grenada.

“We are all afraid but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it to one side,” Dr. Leonardo Fernandez, an intensive care specialist from Cuba, told Reuters on Saturday. “He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes, we are revolutionary doctors.”

Cuba’s healthcare system was built with the help of its former Soviet Union ally but many of its advances have collapsed in the wake of the communist bloc’s fall.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Cubans have bemoaned their lack of access to medicine, hospitals have become dilapidated.

Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

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Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

berniesanders / Instagram

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is once again touting what he sees as the benefits of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The Vermont senator first made comments praising parts of Castro’s Cuba in a 1985 interview. Now, 15 years later, Sen. Sanders is standing behind his idea that not everything is bad in Cuba in a 60 Minutes interview.

Senator Bernie Sanders is facing backlash from critics after his 60 Minutes interview because of his comments on Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

In the 1980s, Sen. Sanders was caught on camera more than once praising parts of the Castro regime in Cuba. He points to the health care and education systems as parts of the government that works for Cuban people. The comments resurfaced in 2019 and caused a backlash against the senator in the Cuban diaspora, whose pains are still fresh from the overthrow of the government.

Now, in a “60 Minutes” interview, the Vermont senator has doubled down on his comments that some of the Cuban government is good.

Anderson Cooper – “What is Democratic Socialism?”

Bernie Sanders – “When Donald Trump was a private businessman in New York, he got $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing. That’s called Socialism. What Democratic Socialism is about is saying, ‘Let’s use the federal government to protect the interest of working families.’”

BS – “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s simply unfair to say that everything is bad. You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?”

AC – “There were a lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba.”

BS – “That’s right and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear. I do not think that Kim Jung Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.”

The comments have sparked some backlash on social media from Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Credit: @marcorubio / Twitter

Senator Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, has been a vocal opponent of Socialism. He has used the crisis in Venezuela to solidify his point about the dangers of the government system he believes Sen. Sanders wants to start in the U.S. Yet, Sen. Sanders’s point is not that the Castro regime is good. In the “60 Minutes” interview, the senator made it clear that he does not support the Castro regime and the brutality it caused for the Cuban people. However, he does believe there are things we can learn from the Caribbean island about offering health care and education to the population.

One point of contention with the senator’s comments is that the Cuban people didn’t fight back because of the new programs.

Credit: @DebbieforFL / Twitter

The Castro regime is known to have oppressed dissidents and political opponents. Speaking out against the authoritarian regime was not safe. People were jailed, killed, and exiled for standing up to Castro’s rise to power. Families fled the island and settled around the world to escape what they saw as a justifiable threat to their lives and sovereignty.

Some people are sharing personal stories of their families’ treatment under the Castro regime.

Credit: @GiancarloSopo / Twitter

The generational trauma created by the Castro regime is still felt today. Some people used Sen. Sanders’s comments as a chance to tell a fuller story of the government some have praised for their social services.

A clip of President Barack Obama speaking on the same social issues in Cuba is also circulating.

President Obama worked tirelessly to reopen relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He was the first sitting president to visit the island when it was announced that diplomatic ties were reopened between the two countries. Part of being able to open those relations was eliminating the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cuban nationals to stay in the U.S. after migrating. This allowed Cubans to be deported back to Cuba, something that hadn’t happened since Cubans first started to flee their homeland. In response, Cubans illegally in the U.S. have been subjected to ICE raids and detention for the first time because of President Donald Trump’s increasing escalation against the immigrant community.

There is a lot of concern from Democratic supporters that the comment could cost the party Florida in the general election if Sen. Sanders is nominated.

Credit: @IvanBrandon / Twitter

The Cuban and Cuban-American population in Florida is a key demographic to win the state in general elections. His comments cherry-picking what is and is not good about the Cuban government is having a resonating effect in Florida. Cuban Democrats and Republicans in the state are untied in rebuking the senator’s comments as glossing over the true victimization and terror millions faced.

READ: Bernie Sanders Praises Fidel Castro And His Revolution In Cuba During Resurfaced Interview From 1985