Play this song while you read this article. It might make it seem much more poignant. Maybe too poignant, verging on cheesy. Time will tell. It’s a good song, anyway.
On the 21st of March, 2016, Barack Obama became the first US president to step foot in Cuba since 1928. He met with Raul Castro in a press conference which covered such topics as equal pay for women, universal healthcare, human rights, and political prisoners. Decades after the USA’s unofficial invasion was beaten back in the Bay of Pigs by impassioned Cuban guerillas, Fidel Castro’s younger brother yesterday smiled for the cameras and joined Obama in a historic handshake, reconciling the friendship between the two countries.
I’ve spoken to Cuban people. They want this. They want the American way of life, the shiny new cars, the high wages, the holidays and luxurious lifestyle. Maybe it’s not my place to say, I haven’t lived in Cuba, but what I saw there convinced me that Cubans don’t need American culture, or anyone else’s culture but their own. I read an article today saying that Google has vowed to bring high speed internet to the country. Why?
Go to Havana, or Santa Clara, or Vinales, even Cienfuckingfeugos, and walk through the cobbled streets as the sun sets. The Cubans come outside. Old men play checkers in the street. Girls whistle at boys, boys show off for girls, and they all drink rum together on the malecon. Writers and artists and jineteros and prostitutes mingle in the hectic salsa clubs and parks and smoke filled bars. People serve hot food out of their bedroom windows. Noisy families pile into the back of rumbling taxis that threaten to shudder apart at any second. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone talks. Everyone dances.
The small, fiercely passionate island nation holds a special place in my heart. Whatever the thawing of relations with the US brings to Cuba, I just hope it takes nothing away.