Saturday, 26 March 2016

Cuba: Is it going well?

Cuba has been in the news this morning: lots about the recent visit by President Obama and then, last night, a performance by the Rolling Stones. Everyone was very excited, though possibly more by the latter than the former.

I'm pleased for the Cubans that their isolation appears to be coming to an end. Having visited last month, I have seen for myself the effects of both the embargo and their self-imposed exile from most of the rest of the world. But it is a beautiful country, with willing people who are proud, justifiably so, of what they have achieved in spite of such a lengthy quarantine. I hope their transition to the 21st century goes smoothly, but I worry that they risk losing much of value in the process. This poem, written while I was still in Cuba in February, tries to express a little of my concern, recognise what the revolution achieved, yet acknowledge the existing problems their poverty in a modern world has caused.
Portrait of Che Guevara on the side of the Interior Ministry building in Havana

Hasta la victoria, siempre (A Love Song to Cuba)

¿Vas bien, Cuba?
Homes for all, beggars included
(even the street artist, tourist photo opportunity,
is a government employee)
Children birthed, jabbed, educated at state expense
(yet want an easy life, Coke and Nikes, 
Land now loaned, no lien, just dues
(you sell the obligatory 90% back, 
keep the other 20% for your own)
Cigars still drawn from hand-picked leaves
(the double-bent men octagenarians, 
no up-and-coming successors)
Vitamin R permeates 
(a joke? Rum is cheaper 
than clean water)

Is this the victory Che wanted?

And if it's still socialismo o muerte
be warned:
The Americans are coming.

© Nikki Fine

February 2016

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