Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 2

| 2/9/2015 9:07:00 AM

Read Part 1 in this series here.

While in Cuba, we visited various cultural and energy related sites, and were introduced to the many fine vices offered for pleasure. These included Havana Club dark aged rum, and fine tobacco rolled into cigars and properly lit with a wooden stick, not a match. A burning match will introduce an unacceptable sulfur taste to the smoker.


Poverty is rampant, opportunities limited, and the results of dire circumstance are partly manifested in acts of desperation like scams and prostitution. There is much potential for social and economic growth in a developed Cuba, free of the U.S. trade embargo. Despite hardships, Cubans retain a strong community spirit and a powerful desire to achieve. To put a mildly positive spin on the result of the embargo, one could say that ‘poverty preserves’. Cuba was once the playground of the U.S. and one development plan from the late 1950s would have lined the coast with hotels and casinos. The existing seafront promenade in Havana along el Malecon is a regular gathering place for many people. On the other hand, poverty destroys. Havana loses several buildings every day due to neglect. Eighty percent of Havana was built during the first half of the 20th century, and much of it went up in a hurry. As these older buildings crumble, they are replaced by the government with cinder block row housing. All housing in Cuba is government housing. Historic Old Havana’s buildings date some 500 years back to Spanish occupation and are being actively restored, or at least spared from ruin. With improving relations between Cuba and the U.S., there is an opportunity for thoughtful, planned growth. Mario remains determined that Cuba will not lose its identity; that the culture will thrive, and change will be slow, considered, and deliberate as outside investment opportunities increase.

What Cubans Want

Among all the people we spoke with, nobody really understood what the embargo is all about. Lasting over 50 years, the U.S. led embargo is the longest act of aggression in modern history. A substantial part of the problem seems to be disgruntled and disenfranchised Cubans in Florida, and perhaps they are justified in holding a grudge against the Castro regime. Trying to explain to Cubans about the Electoral College and the powerful place Florida holds in the policy making of the entire country is met with confusion. How could this be so in America? Everywhere we went, people implored us, “isn’t there something you can do?” Cuban people consistently cite only five desires:

1. Let Cuba live.

2/28/2015 8:07:00 AM

All I was planning to do was read, but then there we have it: a comment that is too ignorant to ignore. Yes, I mean Olga's. If "communism" was the problem, Cuba would have stopped being "communist" decades ago. Just look at the two "communist" super powers of when Castro came into power. Hint: China and Russia. "Short sighted to blame the embargo"? When the embargo has been in place longer than the majority of Americans have been alive? Yes, most Americans are younger than 55 years. Try living like Cubans have had to live for that long.The only thing the "embargo" accomplished is making the true Cubans (which means not the ones in Florida) grow in resolve to not allow a much, much bigger and wealthier nation (although that is up for question now) bully them into giving up. People are know to be stubborn and the more you try to force them to do something, the less it works. Cubans have managed to feed themselves through a system that includes growing food in places where Americans wouldn't even consider growing food. Just look at all the rules and regulation (as in zoning) that don't allow people to grow food in their own yard or have 3 chickens, when that was how people used to make ends meet in the USA when Castro was financed by the CIA to overthrow Batista. I was still a kid then and I knew that Castro was a communist, same as just about everyone else in the Caribbean, yet the CIA in their effort to control the Cuban nation somehow missed it? The embargo is not the only thing to blame, you also have to blame the interference into the destiny of another nation. The one thing I agree with is "It's cruel to wish for the Cubans a lifestyle you would not want for yourself or your children." So why has it taken this long for the USA to realize that (assuming they don't change their minds and decide to keep it)?

2/20/2015 5:23:54 AM

Its good to increase the investment but is this development of cuba was successful..? ----------

2/9/2015 5:15:55 PM

Sorry, it's not the embargo that's the problem, it's Communism. It's the system the Cubans live under that is responsible for most of their troubles. I have been there by the way and would not like to live in an economy like Cuba. I am sure you wouldn't either. It's cruel to wish for the Cubans a lifestyle you would not want for yourself or your children. It's shortsighted to blame the embargo. You should blame the Castros

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