CSW’s Latin America Advocacy Officer reflects on the island where things are supposed to changing politically, but in many ways stay the same.
Visitor numbers are soaring, with over 2 million tourists arriving in Cuba each year. And why wouldn’t they be? Historic Havana, churches, cigar factories, vintage cars, live music, art galleries and museums, UNESCO heritage sites, beautiful beaches and the warm climate all make for the perfect holiday destination.
Cuba, a land where you can experience the past, in the present. When people think of Cuba, isn’t this what comes to mind?
But much of the world remains unaware that travelling off the beaten path leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth. In a country with some of the most hospitable and generous people you will ever meet, you will also find that many live on less than $2 a day – and for a number of reasons, the exact figure of those living in poverty is hard to ascertain.
Outside the capital most people cannot afford the comfortable luxury of a Chevrolet and many get around by horse and carriage or ‘cogiendo botella’; in other words, they hitch a ride with whoever is passing by. And whilst a horse and carriage may make for a true Cuban experience and a good photo opportunity, it is also symbolic of a time warp that isn’t so positive for its citizens.