Cuba-catching a glimpse of socialism written by Leonhard


We were in Cuba during the last few weeks, a very beautiful and interesting country with a fascinating landscape, consisting of woods, meadows and mountains and with very friendly people. They are sometimes really funny, with very interesting hairstyles and clothes and always helpful. But Cuba is different than Germany. Very different. There are worlds between. We were at a Cuban school and the students lined up for the communist roll-call. Some of us were shocked, when we saw the little pupils of our own age marching like soldiers. That wouldn`t happen at a German school and that`s why some KUSis couldn`t believe their eyes.

But there are other differences, too. I`d like to mention the cars. In Germany you`re lucky, if you see one vintage-car a week in contrast to Cuba, where at least every second car is a vintage-car. They may look nice, with big, zestful mudguards, but what comes out of the exhaust smells terrible. Consequently the cities are full of stench and it isn`t pleasant to go for a walk there. Furthermore in this country the houses are old. Some of them are in danger of collapsing or are already in ruins. It`s very sad to see these old buildings, which used to be beautiful ages ago.

But the most original fact is that the farmers sometimes plough with big, strong oxen with gigantic horns. It seems like the farmers still live in the Middle Ages. The Cuban people often go to a place by horsecarriage and not by taxi because cars are often too expensive for them and are used by tourists in most cases. Some of these antiquated methods are due to the political system of Cuba, the socialism and the trade embargo from the USA. Cuba didn`t developed at the same speed as other countries because of that. But the nation isn`t really communist, because the Cuban inhabitants aren`t equal from a material point of view. There are poor people like in other countries. Furthermore Cuba in earlier times is characterized by a planned economy, which doesn`t promote the development as well, because the planned economy couldn`t adapt to the needs of the population. That`s why there are nearly only old products in Cuba. It`s clear that this isn`t the best for the Cuban people. But the change of the system is going slow and needs time to get results. Of course they`d rather live in new houses without holes in the roof and with running water, for example. Besides I think the farmers would rather work their fields using tractors than oxen, because it`s much easier and cheaper to work with the help of tractors. Sometimes it might also be dangerous to work with these huge animals which are often as big as the farmers and as strong as a lion.

Still nowadays these technical innovations do exist in Cuba occasionally, one of the last socialist countries in the world.