"Each person should feel happy at work. They should feel happy with their task as creators. They should instill all those around them with their revolutionary and creative enthusiasm." — Che Guevara.
In Havana this month, I saw a man cutting the grass with a kitchen knife. He was an old man, kneeling on his knees in a yard in the leafy neighborhood of Vedado. Though working as a grass cutter, he had no lawnmower. He didn't even have scissors. He would steady a handful of grass stalks between his fingers, then hack them off with the dull blade. His level of revolutionary and creative enthusiasm was difficult to read.
"Enjoy Cuba, but don't try to understand it," the visitor is constantly told. Told by tour guides, and vendors, and people on the street. It is a national mantra for tourists in Cuba and in the Land of Oz. "Welcome to the jungle. This is Cuba," said a man in a narrow alley in Central Havana with a bushy afro and aviator shades and a mustard colored jumpsuit with "CUBA" stitched across the front. He gestured at the sky with his cigar. "Enjoy my country, but don't try to understand it."
It would seem rather counterrevolutionary to not even try.
Two and a half months ago, President Obama announced that the U.S. would be normalizing relations with Cuba again after more than 50 years of open hostility and embargoes. Among its many other consequences, the news perked up the ears of American travelers. Cuba, a forbidden land so tantalizingly close to Florida's shore, could soon become just another Caribbean nation. It could, in the foreseeable future, become easy for Americans to travel to Cuba, rather than being a shadowy expedition involving multi-nation airplane stops or diplomatic lies at the customs desk. For anyone who wants to see Cuba as it has been since Fidel Castro took over, the time to go is now. A newly energized horde of Americans rushed to sign up for the government-sanctioned "cultural exchange" tours that have long been one of the only legal ways to see the country. I joined them.
If 2015 marks the last year before Cuba's status as forbidden kingdom crumbles before the gods of commerce, then we, the Americans who caused this whole fiasco in the first place, would damn well be there to witness it.
Havana is a city of more than two million people. Havana's Jose Marti International Airport resembles something that a mildly prosperous town in central Florida might have carved out of the Everglades to accommodate the local aviation club. The flight from Tampa is less than an hour. The passengers were evenly divided between 1) American college kids, 2) curious American tourists, and 3) Cubans lucky enough to hold passports that enabled them to go to Florida malls, purchase huge quantities of goods, and then pay the exorbitant fees required to bring those items back into Cuba, where they could sell for even more exorbitant prices. You have not seen the true face of entrepreneurship until you have stood in an airport line next to a Cuban man pulling out a wad of $20 bills to pay the taxes on eight flat screen televisions and a pile of shrink-wrapped cookware sufficient to equip several restaurants.
Until the ongoing diplomatic thaw reaches its full and glorious realization, there are essentially two ways for American tourists to visit Cuba: you can either sneak in via Mexico or Canada, or you can sign up for a tour from one of the handful of companies that have gone to all the trouble of clearing themselves with the Cuban and American governments. These tours are now selling out months in advance. Securing a spot on one was essential for capturing the authentic American tourist experience (at least until I grew sick of it and wandered off on my own). At the Havana airport, two buses from our tour company were parked side by side, waiting to be filled with two incoming tour groups. I sat on one bus and watched the bus next to me fill up with a stream of laughing, energetic, beautiful 20-somethings equal to a typical Real World cast in attractiveness. That bus pulled away, and I never saw those people again. My bus filled up with a laughing, energetic group of elderly retirees, each at least 30 years older than me. "This is a bus for old people—except you!" one of them said brightly. This was my fate.
What kind of American visits Cuba today? Liberals. Cuba, with its stubborn commitment to the most romantic version of socialism, has always held a special place in the hearts of lefties who grew up in the 60s and watched it all unfold. Seeing Cuba is, in its own way, a bucket list item for the 60s generation right up there with being able to say "I went to the March on Washington." The members of my tour group were uniformly well-traveled, well-educated, and appropriately lefty. Not a Republican in the bunch. Even the couple from Florida were both Democrats. It was, to a disturbing degree, like being in a group comprised of my mom and all her friends. As a curmudgeonly native Floridian who's long admired socialism from afar, I fit right in.
There were retired teachers, and retired college professors, and people who had retired from politics. But the spiritual leader of the group was Wilbur, a former economist and rare book dealer so thoroughly well-traveled and urbane that he had become a sort of hyper-intellectual Forrest Gump figure—The Man Who Had Been Everywhere. You went to Japan? Yes, he spent time there. You went to Tanzania? Yes, he'd lived there for years. Mongolia? Yes, he just got back, and can certainly recommend some places to see. Traveling the African deserts? Wilbur can tell you what it's like to eat grubs. The apotheosis of Wilbur's cosmopolitanism came in this exchange he had with a museum guide, after spotting a photo of Tennessee Williams in the museum:
WILBUR: Did Tennessee Williams come to Cuba?
GUIDE: No, only to Key West. He was a painter there.
WILBUR: Yes, I have one of his paintings.
"They were in the new quarter of Vedado: little cream-and-white houses owned by rich men. You could tell how rich a man was by the fewness of the floors. Only a millionaire could afford a bungalow on a site that might have held a skyscraper." — Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana.
Graham Greene's novel was published in 1958. If you'd like to see what Vedado looked like then, go to Vedado now. Nothing has been changed since. Just months after the book came out, Fidel and Che and the rebels swept triumphantly into Havana and overthrew the dictator Batista and began the permanent revolution. That marked the beginning of socialism in Cuba, and the end of real estate maintenance.
Vedado, which extends south from the sea just to the west of the city's center, is a neighborhood of mansions. Beautiful stone mansions, with columns out front and second-floor balconies. When the revolution came, the rich people fled, and the mansions were taken over by regular people. They've since been subdivided to accommodate more people. Now each mansion is home to many people. Each mansion is also crumbling to bits. With few exceptions, any building in Vedado sporting a semi-fresh coat of paint is a hotel, an embassy, or a government building. All of the homes owned by normal Cubans sport the kind of drastically chipped and faded patina so coveted by patrons of Restoration Hardware. Once, these homes were various shades of pastels; now, they are the color of dirty cement with the faintest dusting of pastel chalk. Throughout Havana, this look is come by honestly. Take a nice building, soak it in tropical rainstorms for 50 years with no upkeep, and there you have it. Everywhere there are houses with piles of dirt and stones out front, and it is impossible to tell whether it is construction material ready to go on the house, or just detritus that has fallen off of the house. (About half and half, I think.) Nowhere is The Onion's story "We Must Repaint Our Nation's Crumbling Infrastructure" more appropriate than in Cuba. A single coat of paint on all of Vedado's mansions could probably double Cuba's gross national real estate value.
Spectacular decrepitude blankets Havana like ocean mist. It's odd, seeing neighborhoods of mansions that are simultaneously beautiful and falling apart. Much of Havana is like that—picturesque for photographers; not so great to live in. It is not an abandoned city, like parts of Detroit, where past glories have given way to an urban ghost town. It is fully alive, fully vibrant, and at the same time fully dilapidated. Much of Vedado looks like an area that has been repopulated after the end of a zombie apocalypse. Walk around at night and peer through the doors that are always thrown open and here is what you will see: a shabby chair, and a shabby couch, and someone inside watching a shabby TV. I say this not to cast a negative light on Havana residents—that job is done by Cuba's harsh light bulbs, which manage to make all interior spaces appear pale and gloomy at once—but to attempt to communicate an accurate picture of life there to someone accustomed to America's polished lifestyle. The physical condition of the interior and exterior of apartments in Havana, and of their furnishings, is predominantly shitty. Any grander implications of this fact are an issue to be considered separately.
Throughout Vedado and the rest of Havana, front lawns, front steps, and front porches are dotted with stone busts of the harsh mustachioed visage of Jose Marti, Cuba's national hero. (There is an actual monument to Jose Marti as well, but it seems rather beside the point given the profusion of life-sized replicas of his head on every block.) If you squint hard enough, you can see Vedado as a perfect Opposite World version of Orange County, where the busts are of Ronald Reagan, the mansions are all occupied by single families, and all the Latinos are locked outside the gates.
The north edge of Havana is defined by the sea. Along that sea runs a five-mile-long sea wall, roadway, and sidewalk known as the Malecon. I went jogging along the Malecon a couple times, and except for the oil slick-like sea foam that sent me skidding like an ice skater, and the softball-sized pits in the pavement that swallowed my entire foot up to the ankle, and the gale-force headwind that left me gassed after half a mile, it was the loveliest setting imaginable. To stand on the Malecon is to gaze wistfully out at the Florida Straits and think to yourself, "Just 90 miles across that ocean, there is so much good food." For a nation so concerned with keeping its residents from fleeing, Cuba sure did fuck up by having a civic landmark that inspires such an adventurous seafaring mindstate. At night, couples of all ages and sexual persuasions drape themselves along the sea wall at 20-foot intervals, with heads in laps and limbs intertwined, to soak in the enchanting setting and contemplate getting laid in a very short while. A single rogue wave striking the Malecon after dark could wipe out 50% of Cuba's net romance in an instant.
Because the Malecon is an attractive oceanfront drive, it is lined exclusively with Havana's most expensive luxury real estate. Ha, I am joking. The Malecon does indeed boast a little bit of luxury real estate, along with a lot of real estate that would be luxury but is, in fact, full of poor Cubans who have lived there for a long time with few resources, along with quite a few buildings that are crumbling to hell just like everything else. Havana's entire city planning structure is a rebuke of normal capitalist logic. The nicest hotel in Cuba, the Nacional, sits along the Malecon; two blocks to the west, there is a rotting 30-story apartment tower in which every window is pitch black at 8 p.m. Along the Avenida de los Presidentes are some grand apartment towers that would not look out of place on Central Park West, except that their bricks are falling off, their shutters are broken, and up where the penthouse would be, laundry is hanging out of the windows.
To the east of Vedado and the Nacional lies Centro Havana, the city's tightly packed urban center, with three and four story buildings pressed up against each other, narrow streets, and narrower sidewalks. The Cuban government has seen fit to start restoring some buildings that face the Malecon; San Lazaro, the street that runs parallel to the Malecon one block back into Central Havana, bears the same relation to the Malecon that the backstage area of a Broadway play has to the stage of a Broadway play. Even with the government's best restoration efforts, there are still empty lots along the Malecon containing little but housing rubble, and sometimes there are kids in these lots playing baseball, with the surging ocean as their backdrop. It's all very scenic, assuming that rubble wasn't your house.
There are few tourists in Central Havana (except for the occasional backpacker who selected the really cheap hostel), but there are plenty of tiny corner stores selling trays of three dozen eggs, soda, and not much else. It is here that Havana's staggering levels of decay reach their peak. Balconies appear ready to crumble off the facades. Laundry is hung from all windows. Cuba's national flag should be a clothesline. Old women carry umbrellas against the heat, which beats down on your head from above and then radiates up off the pavement to beat on your face from below. The ubiquitous little street dogs sometimes rise to bark furiously at an unmoving alley cat for 30 seconds, then collapse back down in a heap. Strife is hardly worthwhile in this climate. Pedestrians amble. Pedicab drivers cycle furiously and sweat. Birds chirp. Moped horns echo crazily off the streets. People who are fixing up houses toss the fixtures, drywall, and other debris directly out the second floor window and onto the corner below. Some buildings that have lost their roofs have been ingeniously repurposed into garages, or tiny vendor stall areas, which don't necessarily require a roof. On Virtudes, an old man with a pinched face hobbles down the street in a blue t-shirt that reads "NEW YORK HIPSTARS."
Your Michelin guidebook will tell you that Central Havana is "seedy." This is an impolite way of saying "dirty, and full of brown people who don't work at your hotel." In fact, I walked around there for days sporting a visible sunburn and speaking Spanish that consisted mostly of charades and was never seriously fucked with. Cuba has strict gun control, and little violent crime. There are more handguns in an average American's glove compartment than there are in all of Central Havana. The city as a whole exhibits one of the lowest levels of ambient menace of anywhere I've ever been, including Brooklyn.
After 25 blocks or so of Central Havana's crowded, disintegrating energy, you emerge on the Prado, another wide boulevard, and all the tourists suddenly reappear. It's disconcerting, except for the fact that the Prado's handsome buildings also have laundry hanging from their second floor windows.
Past the Prado, to the east, is Habana Vieja, "Old Havana," the city's tourist center, full of historic squares and souvenir stores and tourist-priced restaurants. One thing that distinguishes Havana is that unlike most cities' tourist quarters, it is not just for tourists—all of the side streets and spare spaces are full of apartments where regular Cubans live, which lends it a nice, lived-in sort of feeling that you won't find in, for example, Times Square. This does not change the universal law that the tourist center is the most repellent neighborhood to spend time in, what with all of the tourists.
If you follow Calle Cuba south through Old Havana you will eventually come to Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Trejo, Havana's most famous boxing gym. It consists of an open-air concrete space with one ring in the middle, topped by a metal roof, and flanked on each end by rusty metal bleachers. (It doesn't look like much, but in Central Havana I passed a boxing gym that consisted only of a sign, and an empty lot strewn with twisted metal that did not appear to bear any relation to boxing equipment. They were selling merely the will to box, which I guess is all you need.) When I went in, the trainers were putting about 30 seven-to-nine-year-olds through a series of drills. "YA!" the stern, mustachioed trainer would yell, and the kids would throw a left-right-left. "YA! YA!" He would often grab a child with bad form and yank his arms in and out like a stuffed animal to show him the error of his ways. Every once in a while, if a kid wasn't guarding himself properly, the trainer would slap him upside the head with an amount of force that I would quantify as "not that hard of a slap if you are a grown man rather than a seven year-old." Two kids ran out crying during the hour I was there. Cuba produces some very good boxers.
On the streets, vendors offer bananas, onions, and cabbage on wooden carts. Though Cuba has tons of farmers and is an island, the wonderful rainbow of fresh produce and delicious street food that you might imagine exists in abundance does not, in fact, exist. A typical example of real street food eaten by actual Cuban workers is pan con jamon, which is just like an American ham and cheese sandwich—hold the cheese, hold the lettuce, hold the tomato, hold the mayo, hold the mustard. It is ham on bread. For an authentic "Taste of Cuba" at home, take a hamburger bun, insert a single slice of Oscar Mayer ham, marinate in tropical heat for five or six hours, and enjoy.
The culinary problem (like most of Cuba's problems) is one of resources. At dinner one night, our tour guide, Geldrys [pronounced HELL-dris]—a woman in her mid-30s with a husband and a child who all live with her parents, thanks to the nation's housing shortage—sat staring at the lone strawberry atop her dessert for several long moments. "I'm trying to convince myself to save this for my mother, because she doesn't usually get such things," she said. "But I think I'm just going to tell her how it was."
Everything except rice and beans amounts to a rare treat. I'm unconvinced that there is any milk on the entire island. The "yoghurt drink" tasted like fruit juice. The butter tasted like Shedd's spread. The ice cream tasted like frozen coconut, and the mayonnaise tasted like Vegemite. When we visited the countryside, we saw many cows, and they were all very, very skinny. "Dairy cows," they explained.
Cuba does not have good food. Cuba does not even have good Cuban food. There is better Cuban food available across the street from my Manhattan office than there is in Havana. We turistas got the best food, and even the best of that food rose only to the level of "a decent home-cooked meal." The socialist revolution, spurred though it was by the cry of "agrarian reform," has not yet succeeded in providing a lot of healthy food for every Cuban. Supermarkets contained almost exclusively packaged food—canned drinks, canned fish, canned olives, crackers, cookies, weird Communist knockoff brands of mustard and ketchup and "Mister Potato" chips—the same food selection available at an American 99-cent store. Wilbur got a look at a local's monthly ration card, and reported that it entitled them to one chicken leg per month. (Cuban guys with big muscles are not so much sending the signal "I have a nice body" as they're sending the signal "I have access to lots of protein.") Geldrys mentioned that potatoes—the most proletarian of foods—were selling for luxury prices, thanks to a bad season. What this means is that our hotel's atrocious breakfast buffet, which included, among other things, alarmingly red "meatballs," "sausage" that was clearly torn-up bologna, "scrambled eggs" that looked like watery grits, birthday cake, and bottles of champagne, would have amounted to a yearly feast for the typical Cuban family.
It is important to keep the current situation in perspective, though. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s, Cuba lost all of its foreign aid and entered a period now referred to as "the crisis." People were starving. Geldrys and her family had to eat cat stew. So knockoff Pringles are not the worst thing that could happen.
Food may be rare, but art is not. There is art everywhere. Great art, loads of it. We saw a neighborhood just outside town called Jaimanitas where a tile artist named Jose Fuster has covered not only his own house, but 50 of his neighbor's houses in bizarre and wonderful tile works. We saw an alleyway in Central Havana called Callejon de Hamel where Salvador Gonzalez Escalona had painted weird mural upon weird mural and built weird mannequins and shit until this weird little alley had become an improbable tourist attraction. And we saw the fine art museum, which is excellent, and full of works that can't be shown in America for both diplomatic reasons and because Cuba can't afford to pay insurance on the exhibits. When showing us some examples of Cuban artists who'd switched from abstraction to social realism after the revolution, the curator said to us, "Fidel uttered the famous phrase, 'Inside the revolution everything, outside the revolution nothing.'" He stopped and raised his eyebrows. "Read my mind." ("Fidel is a prick when it comes to art," his mind said.)
Cubans are also religious, despite the whole Communism thing. Though Cuba is often perceived as a Catholic country, it's more of a fondue of all sorts of religions rooted back to Africa, which traveled over with the slaves. "If the Catholic churches banned everyone who practiced Santeria, they would be empty," one man told us. There is a museum near the Capitol dedicated to Santeria, with life-sized statues of its many gods and goddesses, each seemingly blessed with their own psycho-sexual disorder or offense against gender relations:
OBALUFON (M): "He gave men speech, and the right to have sex. Invented knitting, sewing, and carpentry."
OCHUMARE: "Lives six months as a man and six as a woman."
OYA (F): "Symbolizes the strength of women constantly accompanying men."
ORICHAOKO (M): "Arbitrator of women's disputes."
ALGAYU: "Its name means: 'He who distributed sperm.'"
All around Havana you see women dressed in all white—bright white dress, white socks, white head covering. They are all being "born again" in Santeria. They must wear this uniform for a solid year. For the first three months, they're not even allowed to look in the mirror. For the rest of the year, they're not allowed to have their pictures taken "because their spirits will be taken away," according to Geldrys. It can be disquieting to witness so many cult-like uniforms in a single city. But not as disquieting as Cuba's female high school uniforms, a tight button-up shirt and a short skirt, which are—I'm just going to come out and say this, Cuban Ministry of Education—too sexy. Far too sexy, for school uniforms. Whether or not that was on purpose, I do not know.
"Let's not forget that the working masses who today are beginning the task of building socialism are not pure. They are made up of human beings who carry along with them a whole series of bad habits inherited from the previous epochs." — Che Guevara.
What accounts for our fascination with Cuba? It is not the tropical Havana nights, or the shows at the Tropicana that truly capture the American imagination. It is Cuba's economy that is the most stunning thing the nation has to offer. It is the way things are set up. Far more novel than all of the well-preserved 1950s cars driving around are the mansions that are full of poor people. Far more novel than the fact that Havana has old buildings is the fact that few of them have been bulldozed to make way for new buildings. Cuba is socialism, real socialism, on display, a short flight from the decadent Miami malls.
The story of the Cuban revolution, read honestly, is the story of the incredibly unlikely success of the sort of plan that lunatics would dream up. A group of less than 100 random men, many of them with no real military training, sailed over from Mexico on the yacht Granma with the idea that they would somehow, perhaps magically, beat the Cuban army and free the nation from its powerful US-backed dictator. You get the idea, when studying it all, that this shit was not entirely well thought out. But after many notable failures, lots of deaths, and a couple of years in jail, they made it work. They united the peasants. Fidel and Che and Camilo Cienfuegos, looking like the members of Band of Horses, actually won a war, and before you knew it they swept into Havana and then had to figure out how to realign an entire nation and make it all work. Fifty six years later, it's still very much a work in progress.
Since 2003, Cuba has imprisoned dozens of journalists. Plenty of independent bloggers exist there, but their freedom is not guaranteed. The most readily available publication is the state-sponsored newspaper Granma, which is not exactly a literary feast—headlines in the edition I picked up included "The will and disposition to undertake the digitalization of society exists on the part of Cuba's government and party," and "PCC Central Committee holds Tenth Plenum." Meanwhile, for the past three months swarms of foreign reporters like me have descended on the island, eager to divine What It All Means. Government repression amounts to a competitive disadvantage for local journalists, who should be telling this story themselves. If Cuba is a bit of a police state, the silver lining is that—unlike America's roided-up Robocops—most of the police there are skinny. Even a writer might have a fighting chance against them.
Cuba is your most idle lefty daydreams come to life. "They should kick rich people out of those big houses and let a bunch of poor people live there." They did that. "Everyone doing the same job should have the same salary no matter what." They did that. "Health care should be free." "Private schools should be abolished." "Everyone should get only what they need each month." They did it, they did it, they did it. They actually did it! It is not hard to see why Cuba served as such a powerful source of inspiration for the 60s generation. It is not hard to see why Che Guevara's face is still on the walls of so many dorm rooms. What is harder to see is: in a nation where a hotel valet can make far more than a doctor, and where engineers give up their professions in order to become cab drivers because it is more lucrative, and where all the buildings are falling down and you can't afford to buy a potato, has the revolution been vindicated?
That question is not as simple as it sounds. A lot of the worst problems are America's fault. The blockade that we've had in place for the past half century has effectively frozen Cuba out of membership in the civilized world. We spoke to Dr. Marta Nunez, a professor at the University of Havana and former visiting professor at Harvard who's been studying Cuba for almost 50 years. "We haven't had access to credit from any international organization since 1962," she pointed out. Which is more or less true, thanks to U.S. policy. And for a poor small country like Cuba, it's tough to fix up the buildings or repave the Malecon or expand the airport or build sufficient housing so that you don't have to live at home with your parents after you're married when you can't get any credit to do so. And thanks to its ridiculous inclusion on the U.S. list of terrorist nations, Cuba has no access to the international banking system. Even Cuban diplomats have to tote bags of cash with them when they travel to America. The Soviet Union's aid kept Cuba going, and when that dried up, well... cat stew.
Then again, some of this is Cuba's fault. Fidel Castro has stubbornly pursued an absolutist brand of socialism even in situations when it was clearly stupid to do so. Besides "Yankee imperialism," why else is Havana crumbling? Because the Cuban government is the only entity that's fixing up the buildings. Why else does Cuba have a housing shortage? Because the Cuban government is the only entity that can build housing. And if the Cuban government is broke, and it won't allow outside investment to come in and pick up the slack, well... you're living with your parents, forever. I hope you love them very much.
Cuba is slowly, very slowly, reforming its economy. For a couple of years, it's been legal to buy and sell apartments. Some kinds of small businesses can be operated privately now. (Consider the fact that before these reforms, only the Cuban government could run a snack bar.) The most reliable ways to make money in Cuba now are either to work in tourism, or to receive money from family abroad. Neither of these are exactly consistent with a self-sufficient socialist paradise. "What's the solution? More private activities," Prof. Nunez said. That is to say, the only way for Cuba to save its socialist economy is to make it more capitalist.
Che Guevara himself, who had the foresight to be attractive and die young, is the most obvious symbol of the inherent socialist-vs.-capitalist tensions in modern Cuba, considering the fact that items with his face on them must make up at least 25% of the nation's gross national product. Yet he was a true believer, who grimly marched off to die for his ideals, and Cuba remains infused with a spirit of true belief about socialism's possibilities for human improvement that can warm even the most cynical American heart. In Havana's Museum of the Revolution, there is a gigantic, four foot high grey metal barrel with oversized coin slots cut in its top, painted with the slogan "Reforma Agraria Coopere!" After the revolution, when national spirits were high but funds were low, the government had "placed this huge jug at the Central Park so that the people could deposit their voluntary contributions for the development of the Agrarian Reform," which gave free land to peasants. It was, in essence, a big national tip jar. The guilelessness of a country turning to this strategy during hard times is rather touching.
The recent thaw in US-Cuba relations is universally supported. For Cuba, things can only get better. They might able to finally find some shit to buy, after 50 years. From a capitalist's perspective, Cuba—a strange land with no advertising anywhere, where the world's biggest brands simply don't exist—is a virgin market who is ready to be fucked. Here, Amazon.com could have a revolutionary potential equal to the one that sailed over on the Granma.
That is not to say that the average Cuban harbors any illusions about adopting the American Dream. When you say you are from America, people say "Oh, take me with you!" or "Oh, my dream!" But they don't say it like an American would say "I'd like to visit France one day." They say it more like an American would say, "I'd love to win the lottery one day!" Professor Nunez agreed that every last human in Cuba wants the embargo lifted. But for the foreseeable future, Cubans will continue to rely on forbearance rather than riches. "Cubans can survive anywhere," she said. "They're surviving in Greenland. They're surviving in New Zealand."
"They're surviving in Havana."