What’s Next For Cuba Following the Warm-Up with the US?

What’s Next For Cuba Following the Warm-Up with the US?

A version of the article below appeared on Russia Insider, December 20, 2014: US Opens to Cuba to Drive It Away from Russia. It Won’t Work. Having lived for a period of a total of about 2 months in Cuba this past year, the news that the US will establish an embassy in Havana, caught me by a slight, though not total, surprise. There were earlier signs this may happen, as the New York Times dedicated several editorials in recent months calling for a warming-up of US-Cuban relations and after it was indicated that the US may be reconsidering its failed policy approach (though it was suggested that such a breakthrough may take place next year). The Western mainstream media, however, has already made so many mistakes in covering this topic, that I found it necessary to offer my own feedback and analysis. First, the release of 3 of the Cuban Five (two of whom were already released), Antonio, Gerardo and Javier, after years of their unjust imprisonment in the US prison, should be seen as a victory for Cuba, that managed to secure terms in an honorable way that did not force it to bend down or compromise its integrity despite its small size.  Cuba released Alan Gross, a US contractor who could have worked in service of the CIA, but it did not obligate itself to any kind of ‘regime change’ frequently demanded by the vehement anti-Castro lobby.  For many Cubans, the release of the three is a personal and national victory. Their country was acknowledged as a force to be reckoned with and their brethren were...
Welcome to Havana/Bienvenido a La Habana

Welcome to Havana/Bienvenido a La Habana

Since I just came back from Cuba after living there for over 5 weeks, trying to summarize my words and experiences is not an easy task. The experience of being in Cuba is so intense, since it is so isolated, different from what we are accustomed to and was not a subject to the fluctuation of technological and capitalist time, that when one arrives in Cuba, one senses that he moved into a different zone of being where the Now is much longer and in that plane things have a long tradition behind them. Where as David Harvey describes in his The Condition of Postmodernity, that in New York for instance, capitalism resulted in a compression of time and space, so that due to the rapidness of ever-evolving technology, time passes by ever more quickly, in Cuba the opposite is true. Due to the lack of commercials, the absence of endless banks and hedge funds, skyscrapers and speedy transportation, time passes by slower, or at the very least one has the mental space to appreciate the present. As soon as one arrives in the José Martí International Airport, and actually well before, as one flies over the long island, one senses that he/she is entering into a different time zone, a different way of being. Once one enters, one finds himself in a different zone of reality. Everything is slow, there is no rush. The women working at the airport are wearing traditional uniform, tightly ironed and  appear as if they are uniforms from the 1970s, yet still preserved. People make an extra effort to make sure they appear...
Some Thoughts on Cuba

Some Thoughts on Cuba

Text and pictures by Joshua Tartakovsky  (c) All Rights Reserved 2014. Having just spent a month in Cuba where I stayed with a local family (note: religious purposes), I thought it is about time I will put my thought on paper on my experience of Cuba, impressions and insights. Considering the fact that the island is off-limits to many, whether due to legal restraints or to psychological fears or misconceptions, and due to the deep ideological manner in which Cuba is being portrayed both by the Left and the Right, will attempt to pass out my points in a non-ideological manner.       I lived in Brazil for an extended period in the past and the differences and similarities between Brazil and Cuba is worth pointing out. Brazil is vast and rich in resources while Cuba is tiny. Brazilians tend to be easy going, avoid conflict, in happy spirits and friendly, whereas Cubans are direct, have an attitude, say what is on their mind and are more pushy. However, it is precisely the directness I encountered which made the country appealing in a strange way. I appreciate honesty, and in Cuba you have to be tough and stand your ground since otherwise people who make $20 a month (the average salary) will rip you off. However, once you stand your ground and are firm yet genuine, you will earn the confidence of people, and you can make real friendships that will last. In other words, behind the hard surface you can meet many kind people who will help you in time of need, only that you need to...