Dmitri Prieto’s Diary

The New Cuban Habit of “Offering Apologies”

September 8, 2014 | No Comments »

To “offer apologies” is becoming a common practice in Cuba. Apologies, however, aren’t offered – they are asked for. To ask for someone’s forgiveness is a gesture of humility that stems from our awareness that we have done something wrong.

Chemo at Cuba’s Oncology Hospital is Free

September 2, 2014 | 3 comments

It was Friday afternoon and the bus stop was full of people. Suddenly, a Transgaviota bus pulled up to the curb and its doors opened. Maneuvering among the throng of people scrambling to board the bus, I managed to climb the steps of the vehicle but…

Cuban Music: Neither Rap Nor Reggaeton

August 25, 2014 | No Comments »

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.

A New Generation of (Generous?) Sound Devices

August 18, 2014 | No Comments »

There was a time in which “pocket” transistor radios were a novelty. People walked around holding their small radios to their ears, listening to their music of choice or a baseball game. For those who had lived in the era of vacuum-tube radios as large as a piece of household furniture, it was surprising to see how a device the size of a soapbox could perform the same functions.

Darkness and Silence for Helen Keller, Also in Cuba

August 4, 2014 | 3 comments

In response to the remarks of her adversaries, who pathetically tried to portray her as a defenseless, deaf and blind woman ruthlessly taken advantage of by the “reds”, Helen Keller would ironically ask them if they had ever had the opportunity to experience what “exploitation” was all about.

Cuban Ravings against the Cold War and the Execution of the Rosenbergs

July 28, 2014 | 4 comments

What happened to the Rosenbergs pisses me off. I’ve known their story since the time I was in high school (they made us read a number of documents about their trial, carefully selected for the 10th grade history textbook).

Conservative Mentalities and Cuba’s Exchange Rates

July 15, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Many years ago, the US dollar – then on a par and freely exchangeable with the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) – was valued at 20 Cuban pesos (CUP). With time, the value of the CUC went up (or that of the CUP went down).

Linguistic Misunderstandings in Cuba

July 7, 2014 | 1 Comment »

I had met with some friends at the park in front of Havana’s main bus terminal. It was hot, and I headed down to the station to buy a bottle of pop. I asked the clerk for one the way I normally do where I live: “Could I have a “shell” of Tu-Cola, please?”

I Support Federalization (For Cuba As Well)

June 26, 2014 | 6 comments

That whole business of “partisans of federalization” is a politically correct phrase used by Russia’s official media to refer to activists (some of whom have formed armed contingents) currently fighting the Kiev government in eastern Ukraine.

The Day My Cuban City Was Occupied by the Military

June 23, 2014 | No Comments »

My mom had asked me to buy some tomatoes for lunch, but a big combat helicopter had just landed on the field of the baseball stadium behind our apartment building. It was a camouflaged Soviet chopper with insignias that aren’t used by the Cuban military.