Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Year One Cuba Libre

Year One Cuba Libre

The monorail that runs through the business district is well underway and is on target to begin serving passengers next year. However, these quiet running cars that roll on rubber tires will not pass along the Malecon. The Havana city government voted the measure down, fearing that it would mar the historic view. Having been elected six months earlier, this was one of the first controversial issues that the city government had to address. The national government headed by President Marta Beatriz Roque and Vice President Guillermo Fariñas, had been given a mandate after winning by a landslide along with their supporters in the legislature. The communists also ran candidates for office but were routed on election day. The peaceful elections six months earlier lay in stark contrast to the end of the communist dictatorship of Raul Castro which collapsed one year ago. When the food riots began in the hot summer and became uncontrollable Raul had tried to escape but the mob recognized his car and set upon him with 48 years of pent up rage. They pulled him from the car, beat him to death then dragged his lifeless corpse through the cheering streets of Havana. The body was thrown on a bond fire and completely incinerated. The debate is on-going as to what to do with Fidel’s body which was discovered frozen in the morgue after the riots where Raul had been hiding him. Many of the former regime members have been apprehended and are now awaiting trial. Two of the top guys, Alarcon and Lage are still at large and are suspected to have fled to Venezuela. The world is still in shock since the records of the executions and torture were been released and the location of the mass graves unearthed. People are united in their search for these escaped murderers and all those who defended the regime through the years are now strangely quite.

Havana has become a bustling city by day and a celebrating party by night. Life is a comfortable mix of this work and play. Some are employed by the big multinational corporation while many others have started their own businesses. The streets are filled with vendors hawking everything imaginable. Electricity and water now flow 24 hours a day. Private power stations are being constructed across the island. A multitude of new banks are opening everyday to take the exploding deposits of wealth being generated by the free Cuban people. Also, automobile dealerships representing all manufactures of the world have opened to permit Cubans to buy their first car. Toyota is finalizing plans to build the first factory to turn out vehicles for the burgeoning Cuban market. But also the exiles coming to the island to visit friends and relatives are constantly requested to bring carburetors for ’56 Chevy’s, brake shoes for 1950 Pontiacs and other parts to bring these museum relics back to life. Many Cubans have converted their cars for use as jitneys and now ply their routes back and forth through the city providing reliable, affordable transportation for workers and tourists alike. More old cars are arriving everyday, many on the new hydrofoil that began operating two months ago running between Key West and Cuba.

The historic district is being restored and is looking presentable. Buildings that were salvageable were gutted only leaving the façade. Many sites were razed but are required by the city government code to be rebuilt following strict historical guidelines. The roads have been torn up in an alternating manner to allow traffic to continue to flow. At this time the sewers and water pipes are being replaced, as well as telephone, fiber optic cable, electric transmission line, etc. being laid. They are being buried before the final road surface is finished.

Private Cuban businesses are forming everyday to serve to needs of the expanding economy. Sanitation companies haul the trash away for a reasonable fee from both commercial and residential areas. Food vendors are everywhere and the cost of eating continues to decline while the quality and diversity of food improves. Some former Cuban farmers and ranchers have returned to their abandoned, squalid property to begin again. Others too old now have chosen to sell their property to young farmers and ranchers but keep a small amount of their land to build a retirement home. Likewise, many former business owners have returned to open up shop while others have decided to sell their old dilapidated business locations to others and simply retire to enjoy their last days in a free Cuba with old friends and family. But the net result is food production has soared and some is even being exported now.

Havana currently has five television stations, thirty-eight radio stations and the number keeps growing. Several independent newspapers have opened including the New Havana Times which was formed using the assets of the old Granma facilities. Don Royce Roy is the number one DJ in Havana effortlessly flowing between speaking Spanish and English as he spins the hits from the 50’s to the 21st Century. This broadcast phenomenon is happening all across the island. Cubans homestead frequencies for a small regulatory fee and begin operating radio and TV stations. Foreign broadcasters also set up shop but must pay a higher fee to the government for a license. Internet service is now widely available via cable and satellite. PCs flood into Cuba and soon every home has at least one. Unfortunately the video games have also arrived on the island causing many Cuban parents to become concerned and causing them to set limits on their children’s gaming time.

Over 200 mom and pop family businesses spring-up to build small boats and pleasure crafts. Thousands of Cuban construction and renovation firms begin operations transforming the island from drab to dramatically different. Everywhere one hears the sounds of nails being hammered, saws buzzing and construction workers whistling at the senoras walking by. Some things never change. One thing that has changed is the medical industry. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have setup competing HMOs to offer high quality care for a reasonable coverage price. Dengue fever has really been eliminated from Cuba this time – not just in Fidel’s imagination. Also schools have all been privatized and there is a measure to place a Constitutional Amendment banning school and state from ever being involved with one another after what Castro has done to the children of Cuba using the education system.

Tourism has exploded causing the central government to place a $20 tourist tax on all visitors generating millions in revenue for the treasury. Likewise, oil, gas and mining leases, besides providing quality employment to Cubans, have also helped fill the treasury. Sadly, many firms who were connected to the former slave regime of Raul Castro still cannot believe that they have been kicked out of Cuba and banned from returning – for any reason. Later next month the President of the United States is scheduled to make an official visit to discuss bilateral relations with President Roque. They will talk about the declining value of the dollar against the surging value of the Cuban peso and what Cuban can do to help.

But the Havana nights are what Cuba has become all about. New clubs open every week offering music, dancing and other entertainment. Art galleries and museums open and the zoo is being renovated for new animal exhibits. Of course the twin scourges of capitalism, McDonald’s and Starbucks have opened many new franchises in Cuba to the consternation of the former communists but to the delight of the Cuban people. Cuba has finally crossed the threshold of the 21st Century. Because these atrocities must end!

Tomás Estrada-Palma


Anonymous Yoandy: jonycuba@yahoo.es said...

Hi man, I liked your ad., a little too dramatic but if it was real it wil be a good future for Cuba. One question, Are you really the great grandson of Strada-Palma?

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Yoandy: jonycuba@yahoo.es said...

Hi man, I liked your ad., a little too dramatic but if it was real it wil be a good future for Cuba. One question, Are you really the great grandson of Strada-Palma?

11:20 AM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Yes sir I am Andy!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Tomas, sounds great! I hope it turns out as good as your article. We can dream, right?

3:39 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

First you have to dream it Maria. Then plan. Then make it happen.

Cuba Libre

5:15 PM  
Blogger El Gusano said...

tomas: you are a rebel AND a dreamer!

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Tomas I think you meant El Malecon not Maricon in your opening lol theres a big difference. You're funny.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

The old eyes are fading fast I guess. Thanks! I'll correct it.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Great story. Best news I've heard of Cuba in 48 years.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Tati said...

Tomas, de tu imaginacion a los oidos de Dios y todos los Santos havidos y por haver. Thank you for the dream, which I pray one day, will come into fruition.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

It is my pleasure my friend!

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tomas you sound like an ignorant American redneck - hoping for Mcdonalds and Starbucks in a FOREIGN country@!

You are also so naviee -

you and your way of thinking just suck (just as much as the communists suck).. .You sound like Dick chenney. You want to Sell out cuba to the foreign companies and cheezy fat -food places (which provide on average shitty jobs)

You suck; there must be a middle way to do this (change in cuba), if not, I would prefer starving.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Well we agree then. Let hope you do starve. Hey go to Cuba. There's lots of it there except in Raul's palace.

Again, thank you for telling us our plan us effective.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Of course Anonymous in the old days I just run over to Bethesda to your place and just kick your ass. Always remember we know where you live. This modern software is incredible don't you think?

7:57 PM  
Blogger Roberto Jesus Companioni said...

tomas, its very interesting this incredibly vivid vision you share of a reborn cuba. And as you know you have to dream first, open the path with a vision and a plan then focus to make it reality. We'll be there at the forefront rebuilding Cuba and helping it receive truthful and valid information on everything known to man, since our Island lacks all that we take for granted.

12:27 AM  
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7:04 PM  

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