Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Cuban Action!

Did you know that I went to Cuba earlier this year? Oh wait, yes, you probably did. Now I am going to talk about Cuban stuff some more. The following is based on material that has previously appeared in Frank's APA, so you may have seen it before. It also overlaps a bit with my list of great things seen in that country, so you must be getting the déjà vu big time.

I kept a bit of a diary while in the Caribbean's island of socialism, but I will not trouble you with a list of towns and museums visited. Instead let me begin by saying that Cuba is well worth a visit. There are lots of interesting things to see and do there. It is in many ways strange and unusual, but for the tourist things pretty much work. It is also pretty cheap – not central American cheap, but well below what denizens of rip-off Ireland are used to paying for things.

If you are thinking of going to Cuba, I would say to go in the near future. There are a number of things on the horizon that could make it a far less interesting place to visit. One of these is the possibility of a rapprochement with the United States that would see the country flooded with frat boys on spring break, a most uncongenial prospect. Sometimes I wonder if my fear of frat boys is a bit overstated, but given the choice I would very much rather go to a country that definitely will not have them.

There is also the possibility that the socialist system in Cuba could collapse. This is a development that many have predicted as imminent ever since the break-up of the USSR, yet socialist Cuba has soldiered on. At the moment, though, the country is in the grip of an increasing economic crisis, the worst since the early 1990s, and there are apparently greater rumblings of dissent than there have been for some time. A transition to democracy and the market economy might be the best way forward for Cubans, but I suspect they would be problematic for tourists. For one thing, the country would lose its unique edge, becoming a far less interesting place to visit. But I suspect also that the country would become a more violent and sketchy place as a capitalist transition ushered in extreme inequalities in wealth. This would, obviously, make it harder for tourists to carelessly amble around what is currently one of the least violent societies in the world.

stick around for more

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An inuit panda production

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