Seriously, those who love communism, who think the government should do for you what you cannot do for yourself, here's the result.
The first one I saw featured a hangman’s noose and said “BLOQUEO -- El genocidio mas largo de la historia.” BLOCKADE – The longest genocide in history.
The government is referring to the embargo, or sanctions, put in place against Cuba in 1962 after Castro nationalized US property. But the sanctions are not a blockade—which is an act of war—and they certainly don’t constitute genocide.
Another billboard showed the logo of the UJC, the Union of Communist Youth, which is composed of the faces of three communist leaders—Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Julio Antonio Mella—men who are dubbed “The protagonists of our time.” The UJC’s motto is “study, work, rifle.”
I groaned to myself at these absurd slogans and images, but was delighted when I later heard Cubans dismiss it all as “state propaganda.”
Aside from the billboards on the way in, Havana doesn't look like a communist city. It has not been transformed into a sullen drabscape of gray concrete towers like so many capitals in the former Soviet bloc. Small one-story homes in a state of mild disrepair appeared through jungle-like foliage. Hundreds of people stood on the side of the road waiting for busses or to be picked up by one of the cars that passed periodically. Once I reached the city proper, all I saw, aside from a few faded high-rises, was European architecture in every direction. Most of Havana was built before the communist era when Cuba was still a rich country.Yeah, nothing new happens in a communist regime. Watch the movie "Brazil" to see an admittedly exaggerated comment on that.
It’s not a bad hotel. It’s certainly better than the ghastly Soviet tower I stayed at in Borjomi, Georgia, during the Russian invasion in 2008. The Habana Libre, like the classic cars out on the streets, just hasn’t been updated since the 50s. It’s a modern-day throwback to the era of Mad Men.
The lights work, the air conditioning didn't crap out, and the hot water heater never ran cold, but I woke every morning in pain. The mattress, like the rest of the furniture, also dated back to the 1950s and was at least half as firm as the floor.
And I felt like I was being spied on the minute I stepped into my room.
I knew I wouldn’t find any surveillance equipment, but I couldn’t help looking. I didn’t look hard, though. I didn’t want anyone to see me looking for bugs, wires, or cameras if they were watching. A colleague told me they place cameras as well as microphones in the rooms, and that the cameras point at the bed. I don’t know how he’d know that bit about cameras or if it’s even true. Perhaps it’s just a paranoid rumor. Maybe the regime started the rumor itself to make people paranoid. Who knows?
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it’s true because I had little choice but to behave as though it is true. And it affected my job. Not only did I have to leave my laptop at home, I couldn’t sit on the bed and take notes with pen and paper. I had to look and behave exactly like a tourist even in the “privacy” of my hotel room, and tourists don’t generally sit down and write for long stretches.It's goes on like this. Typically the journalist makes a lot of it about how it affects him and how difficult it is for him to be a journalist. But still eye opening, even for those of us who already understand the dangers of too much government and how bad communism is. What is striking to me is that the people know what's what. They don't believe the propaganda, they know who the bad guys are but they are just too scared to revolt. And that kind of fear is created through god knows how much spilt blood. No one should have to live like this, not one man, woman, or child on this planet. Yes Liberals, no matter what color they happen to be.