Friday, March 2, 2012
In 2007, as a photojournalist, I spent two months roaming all over Cuba. These are a few of my favorite animal images from my trip.
Cuba is a fascinating country. Because I explored off the beaten path I was the first American many people had met. They assumed I was French or Canadian. They love American citizens as much as they hate our government!
It seems everything wrong in Cuba is right in the US and everything wrong in the US is right in Cuba.
In Cuba everyone is allocated food for their bellies, a roof over their head, medical care and as much education as they desire. Even the smallest & most remote village or mountain outpost have good schools and medical facilities. Cubans are voracious readers. They have 100% literacy!
But they do not have economic or political freedom. Nor do they have freedom of speech, assembly or the press. Private business is outlawed!!!!!! But aesthetic creativity: artists, dancers & musicians are fully supported.
Doctors, lawyers and teachers make the same wage as factory workers and street sweepers. The only people making good money are those who make tips serving the tourist trade, the tightly regulated & heavily taxed taxi drivers, innkeepers & small family restaurants.
In the 1990s Russia cut off Cuba economically. Tourism was the fastest way to avoid complete economic ruin. But there was no service industry to cater to tourists.
Castro very reluctantly licensed private bed & breakfast places, private taxi cabs and maximum 16 seat restaurants inside private homes. And he heavily regulates and taxes them.
Still those Cubans made much more money in tips than the State pays it's citizens. Many a doctor, lawyer or teacher wanted to become a taxi driver but could not. Because the state trained the person for their profession the state controls where they work!
Prostitution was outlawed after the Revolution in 1959. But in order to draw the big tourist bucks Castro learned he had to make prostitutes available. They too are highly regulated & taxed.
There is almost no crime within Cuban society. However tourists with money, cameras, phones and such have become the target of thieves.
Cubans are environmentally conscious; they value & respect their natural resources. They preserve and protect large areas of land, plants and animals. I'll post some the vegetation photos next.
People with mental health problems are cared for in first rate facilities. The plentiful, trained, professional staff provide programs that keep them active and integrated into the community.