Jorge Milanes’s Diary

A Peso for a Tart: On Cuba’s Elderly

October 23, 2015 | 7 comments

The silver-haired woman slowly nears the entrance to the coffee shop. A fine mesh of wrinkles cover her face, her old garments, thrown carelessly on, are creased. She holds a bag and cane in one hand and looks for something with the other, but can’t find it.

“I’m an Abakua”

September 11, 2015 | 1 Comment »

“Dude, I gave him a good stabbing, ‘cause you can’t hit an Abakua member. The person who lays a finger on me is dead!” one of the young men on the bus said out loud.

Returning from the Shadows

September 4, 2015 | No Comments »

“I made arrangements from home and went to Pinar del Rio. I’ll tell you what happened later,” Oliver says to me, his face aglow, as we go up in the elevator. At lunch, he tells me he had a great welcome…

Back to the Roots, in the Shadows

August 26, 2015 | No Comments »

“She’s an exceptionally beautiful woman, but she doesn’t do it for me anymore. I think it best to turn my life around completely,” Oliver, one of the workmates I sometimes converse with, says to me rather worried…

The Businesses of Cuba’s Self-Employed

August 11, 2015 | 4 comments

“Buddy, you’ve seen how much effort I’ve put into running a tasteful and proper business,” says Hector, a neighbor of mine who recently became self-employed, opening a cafeteria at the intersection of I and 27 street in Cojimar.

The Market Logic of Cuban Santeria

June 3, 2015 | 3 comments

This Afro-Cuban religion, conceived to improve the health of the ill, has become one of the most lucrative enterprises one can pursue in Cuba. It has become almost the contrary of what its spiritual essence dictates.

Cuba: The Anthropology of Popular Opinion

May 29, 2015 | 5 comments

No one in Cuba today is surprised to hear the various opinions that have traditionally surrounded the claim that “black people have bigger penises than white people,” so I assume no one will be too shocked by my comments on the subject below.

Sex or Robbery?

May 20, 2015 | No Comments »

Yesterday, I saw him at the emergency ward with bandages on his back. When I asked what had happened to him, he told me two men had assaulted him with a knife and stabbed him twice. “I couldn’t see the people who attacked me,” he told me.

Scuba-Diving in Cuba: A Therapeutic Experience

May 11, 2015 | No Comments »

Scuba-diving “was” a forbidden sport for nearly all Cubans. The impressions associated with it are therefore unknown by a great majority. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to enjoy a number of these activities, along with other workmates.

Everyone’s a Builder in Cuba

April 22, 2015 | 7 comments

Just about anyone will tell you here that they’re an experienced builder. You only need to have some construction materials lying around the house for someone to show up and offer you their services. “If you need a builder, just call me,” a new neighbor tells me.