Saturday, June 1, 2013

The rise of a new revolution

Claudia Ramos

Reporting from Havana

It is approximately 5 in the afternoon in Cuba, and it seems as though it is only past midday. It has been a long day of walking and touring old Havana, but I am fascinated! Walking through the crumpling buildings of the ancient city, I encounter all types of scenarios. From an old woman sitting on the edge of the sidewalk asking for some coins to a father picking up his daughter from school. People selling “churros” (sugar coated fried bread) and “empanadas” (a typical treat in Cuba) and a child carrying around a wheelbarrow with some rocks.

A group of young teenagers playing street soccer in a small park catch my attention. I pull out my camera and begin filming, what appears to be an intense match. Lost in the altercation of what seems to
be an unfair play by one of the teams, I do not pay attention to a young couple sitting on a bench next to me. I turn off my camera and as I prepare to put it away, the young couple kindly asks me what my nationality is. I smile at them and ask them to guess. Betrayed by the color of my skin and the accent of my Spanish, everyone in Cuba knows I am Mexican.
The young couple smiles and asks me what I am doing in Cuba. I tell them I am doing some backpack journalism. “You’re a journalist?” the young man tells me, “I like that!” They begin to ask me if I like their country, I tell them it’s inevitable to be captivated by Havana. They smile and glare profoundly at the cracked floor, the young man tells me, “yes my country is beautiful, but I wish people weren’t such cowards. Cuba needs to change.” Astonished by his response I ask him why he feels this way. Most people in Cuba do not openly talk about the politics of their country. He tells me, he dreams of a better tomorrow for his children. He wants to be able to travel freely to any country he wishes, earn the money he should for practicing his occupation as a history professor and not have limits to his dreams and aspirations.

With Raul Castro in office since 2008, many things are changing in Cuba. A new word that in prior years was unknown to the Cuban people; capitalization, is slowly entering the island. People are now able to own their own restaurants and other small local business. Annually around 50,000 Cubans are able to travel legally out of the country; though the process in order to achieve this can be difficult.

However, according to this young couple there are many hurdles that Cuba still needs to overcome. Though they are slowly seeing the changes in their beloved country. They share with me the following phrase that in their words best describes the way they are feeling. “ We are not crazy, we know what we want. But for now we will continue to live life as if it were a dream.”

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