Havana’s Prado Promenade

    In these days of intense heat – when thermometers register temperatures above 30º C – residents of Havana go out in search of places where they can evade the scorching sun. The city’s majestic Prado promenade invites strollers to rest and give in to the day’s weariness. (30 photos)

featuredimage Cuba Launches Controversial Customs Law

Cuban Customs begins to enforce today the new highly controversial regulations that further limit what travelers can bring into the country, amid the rejection of the population. The measure is geared to protecting the government/military monopoly on domestic commerce.

featuredimage Cuban leaders drinking at the worker’s trough

Touring workplaces and repeating the same old working class and populist discourse that “it is crucial to listen workers in order to know their concerns and suggestions for overcoming many of the problems that affect them in their workplaces,” Cuba’s Communist Party leaders expect to obtain different results.

featuredimage From Cuba to Miami in Business Class

Felix took five days making a journey that, on a plane, takes no more than 40 minutes. He left Havana one Sunday afternoon and arrived in Miami Thursday night. He was exhausted, unbathed, unshaven, famished and weighed several pounds less, but when he hugged his relatives at the end of the trip he was very happy. After all, he had been lucky.

featuredimage The Human Voice of the Classical Guitar

Christina Sandsengen is a 27-year-old Norwegian guitarist, with an impressive resume in classical guitar, an instrument she was introduced to at the age of 15. Her Barbie-looking photo on the cover of her CD had made me see her as a sophisticated, almost cold, woman quite different from the sensitive, thoughtful person I had the chance to interview.

rightcolimage I Choose to Stick with Cuba

As it turns out, it seems everyone who leaves Cuba is having a rough time. Many of my old friends kept in touch and sent me the occasional email shortly after leaving, but, a few months later, next to no one writes me. When they do write, their messages are brief and do not offer much information about how they’re doing.

rightcolimage Cuba’s “Wanderers”

Today, my memories take me back to a certain figure that was a common sight in Cuba’s countryside before the revolution. I am referring to “wanderers.” These were people who, tired of looking for a job and going hungry – having lost their homes because they were unable to pay the rent – had no other choice but to become beggars.

rightcolimage Cuba: The Limits of Truth

I wonder what kind of debate we would have if everyone exposed what they are protecting from the word go, where everyone was aware of their unavowed commitments, and whether that could be a point of departure for change, beyond cyberspace, in the tangible Cuba.

rightcolimage Cuba: One Ration Booklet, Different Bread Rolls

Until some time ago, I thought everyone got the same daily bread roll in Havana. Then I discovered that I was wrong: the quality of the bread one gets depends on where one lives. This is not officially established, of course, but it happens this way in practice.

rightcolimage Cuba: A Way of Dying

She has high blood pressure and has a blood pressure monitor on a small table next to the door to her house, in case she has to leave for the hospital in a rush. She checks her blood pressure obsessively several times a day.

rightcolimage Experienced Cuban Teacher Publishes Piano Playing Manual

We hadn’t seen one another in several years. I ran into him on Obispo street in Old Havana as I was coming out of work. We started talking after the initial surprise wore off. We talked for two hours. Among other things, he told me he’d been giving piano lessons to young people in Boyeros for ten years.

rightcolimage Cuban Music: Neither Rap Nor Reggaeton

A sign calling amateur artists to participate in a “Cuban music” competition (inclusive of “traditional songs, son, ballads, boleros and guarachas”) explicitly excludes rap and reggaeton as eligible genres. The organizers of the contest are evidently clear on what qualifies as “Cuban” music and what does not.

rightcolimage Unexpected Happiness in Venezuela

I haven’t felt the inclination to write about my experiences among Venezuelans for some time now. When one’s happy, you see, one tends to forget everything else. And I couldn’t be happier, because, in addition to the joy I always feel, I now I have the joy of feeling right at home, feeling as though I were in Cuba, that is.