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Posted January 17, 2006 by I-taoist in Castro's Cuba

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Here are some recent observations on what is happening inside Cuba:

Everyone is feeling much tighter control of their lives as the government clamps down.

There is growing pessimism and negativism about prospects in the future.

Less tourism is evident.

Increased talk about illegally leaving the country by any means.

Many blackouts and power failures.

There are more products in the government stores and they are busy as a result.  A new cadre of young idealists is now working in the stores and at the gas pumps, in response to the past corruption and pilfering. 

Almost all the disco’s have been shut down and fewer female “escorts” are being seen, prostitution has gone more underground. 

There are more uniformed police on the streets.  There are more undercover police working, and Cubans are being hassled more by the police as they go about their day’s activities. 

Black market activity has also gone more underground or actually diminished due to the crackdown. 

There is less friendliness toward tourists.

John R. Bomar

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 17, 2006 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    John,

    Interesting. Most of the stuff listed above the Cubans have learned to live with but the last one about less friendliness towards tourists?

    That’ too bad.



    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 17, 2006 by viajero71 with 8 total posts

    i’ll be leaving for Havana in 3 weeks, to see my father and friends. will give you guys my impressions as well.


  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 17, 2006 by Mako with 172 total posts

    I was there 3 weeks ago and agree with most of what John says. However, when I was there Havana was packed with Canadians and Europeans and I witnessed no less friendliness toward tourists.


  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 18, 2006 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Since I live in Cuba on a permanent basis, I must take issue with some of Mr. Bromar’ “observations”. First of all, where and how exactly did Mr. Bomar get these impressions? Does he run an opinion poll company in Cuba? Even though I live in Cuba (and not in the aloof Miramar, but in grassroots Centro Habana)I would never even attempt to make such ambitious generalizations of the situation “inside Cuba”, unless of course I was president of a public opinion survey firm. More specifically:
    1. How do you ascertain greater pessimism and negativity? What I can see is that there are certain Cubans that are negative, others that are more optimistic. This has always been the case, although it IS TRUE that pessimism gained with the onset of the Special Period compared to the Cuba of before.
    2. A decrease in tourism? Both the Cuban government and economic analysts generally agree that the Cuban tourist sector continues to grow? Does Mr. Bomar have some sort of more accurate method to determine the level of tourist arriving in Cuba? Regarding “friendliness to tourists”, it is a mystery how Mr. Bomar can actually measure the level of “friendliness”. Cubans seem to be as ambivalent and spontaneous as ever with tourists. Of course the hustler crowd (jineteros) is a bit more cautious with their overtures to tourists due to the crackdown on crime and hustling. But this has nothing to do with general friendliness. I just had family and friends visiting me from abroad, and they were thrilled with the friendliness of Cubans. Go figure…
    3. Increased talk of leaving Cuba? Since I came to live in Cuba almost fourteen years ago, there has always been talk of leaving Cuba (legally or illegally) amongst many Cubans. How does Mr. Bomar ascertain that this widespread attitude has actually increased? Is he doing mass phoning to Cuban homes?
    4. Compared to the energy plant crisis a year ago, blackouts have actually decreased in Cuba. If Mr. Bomar was making this claim last year, his claim would have some merit. He seems to be at least six months behind in his analysis on this one.
    (...to be continued)


  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 18, 2006 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    (...continuation)
    5. Regarding products in the stores, instead of more, there are actually less, due to the centralization of hard-currency purchases by State enterprises, which has slowed down the procurement and supply mechanisms in Cuba. But even on this issue, the decrease in products is not very noticeable, and is more in terms of diversity of products sold in dollars, not in quantity.
    6. The majority of the night-clubs and discos remain open in Havana. I am not sure what Caribbean island Mr. Bomar is referring to when he says “almost all discos are closed”. Some have closed and other new ones have opened. We are a far cry from 1998, when in fact the Cuban government DID close almost all the clubs for about three months due to drug concerns. This is not the case today.
    7. The presence of female “escorts” (jineteras) fluctuates on a weekly basis, in accordance with the localized police round-ups of hustlers and sex-trade workers. Again, I don’t know where Mr. Bomar gets his stats on this one.
    8. Since I began living in Havana, there have always been many uniformed police on the streets (which is NOT the case for the provincial towns and cities, or the sections of Havana where there are no tourists). The number of police may have gone up just a bit (due to the government’ concerted campaign against crime and drugs), but I would arrive at that conclusion through inductive logic, not some claim of “observing” the increase. Regarding plain clothed police, there might also be an increase, but if we are talking about undercover cops, how does Mr. Bomar actually know that there are more of them? On this one, the increase in number of police on the streets is good news, because it ensures that crime levels in Cuba do not reach the levels of the rest of Latin America.
    9. Well, finally I have to agree with Mr. Bomar on at least one issue. Due to the government’ campaign against corruption (especially through the use of motivated and idealistic “trabajadores sociales”) black market activity has incontrovertibly decreased.
    For what its worth, these are my “reflections” on the “observations” of Mr. Bomar regarding “inside Cuba”.
    Gregory, Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on January 19, 2006 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Greg, you make some very valid points. However I think Bomar never represented his “observations” to be based on “public opinion polls"or any other empirical data; just casual observations. When I was there recently there were FAR fewer blackouts; but is that a product of mild weather? or will next summer be like last August when the blackouts were extensive and pervasive? Whether there is more negativity and more talk about leaving ??? Who knows for sure? All I do know is that more rafters were interdicted in the Straits this year than anytime since the “Special Period” The cause of this exodus can be debated; from the increasing harshness of the Bush sanctions to merely cyclical phenomena. While there “appeared” in my view to be increasing assertiveness on the part of police, you are correct, it was nothing like 1998 and perhaps is in response to recent increase in street crime? When I was there in December,I have never seen Havana so crowded with tourists. However,one fact that is irrefutable to me, is that the Cuban people remain the most friendly,and hospitable people I have ever metin my many travels across this planet


  7. Follow up post #7 added on January 19, 2006 by GregoryHavana with 196 total posts

    Mako…Your comments are well received. It may be that Mr. Bomar was not trying to present objective analysis, but simply very subjective and limited observations…which is more or less the only thing anyone can do regarding Cuba. My perspective, living here in Cuba, gives me very different subjective observations than Mr. Bomar. But that is the richness of Cuba, it provokes so much polemics and passions on all sides. We all see Cuba through distinct optics.


  8. Follow up post #8 added on January 24, 2006 by ROLO

    Sorry tell me something,is IT a blog open to opinions or
    it is an opinionated blog,which some bias trends?


  9. Follow up post #9 added on January 24, 2006 by ROLO

    You know what: In Europe I have not blogs very interested in
    cuban affairs,in Duitsland that blog is just non-born,in
    the States,some are very to the extreme position,very biassed,
    pro or con,could you recommend me one which be just in the
    middle and go to the extreme position only in very pivotal
    issues?


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