Irina Echarry’s Diary

Cuba’s “Sandwich Generation”: Looking after the Sick and Elderly

August 21, 2014 | 1 Comment »

For six years, I lived with two elderly women (my grandmother and her sister). It was the saddest time in my life that I can recall. The Special Period crisis had hit us hard and we didn’t have the conditions needed to care for them at home.

Henrietta and Me

August 1, 2014 | No Comments »

I would have liked to have contributed something significant to the world, something small but important. Thinking about this, I came upon the first of August, the day in which Henrietta Lacks was born. She had the worst three defects someone could have in 1950s Virginia.

My Mom’s Experiences at Havana’s “Roach Motel” Hospital

May 29, 2014 | 22 comments

My mother was sweating buckets. An intense burning sensation in her chest was making her dizzy. She started to go cold and pale, and her lips took on that frightening purple tonality. Then, she passed out. That’s the beginning of the story.

A Cuba Crime Report

April 18, 2014 | 11 comments

On the last Saturday of March, an official government announcement took the habitual listeners of Havana’s Radio Reloj radio program by surprise. It was a petition by authorities asking the public the help clear up a crime that had taken place in Old Havana two days before.

Once Upon a Time in a Cuban Movie Theater

March 28, 2014 | 2 comments

It was ten to 8 pm, the time the second screening begins at Havana’s La Rampa theater. We were waiting to go in and see the Turkish film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, winner of the Grand Jury Award at Cannes. Ready to take in the 157-minute movie, we were waiting for the ticket booth to open.

Abortion in Cuba: Another Pending Debate

February 21, 2014 | 10 comments

Abortion is a complex issue that stirs up passions as well as ethical, religious, philosophical and biological debates. Generally, the person voicing an opinion – no matter what camp they belong to, in favor or against – denies that the opposite opinion has any validity.

Dora’s Problems in Cuba

January 13, 2014 | 2 comments

Dora is a Cuban woman getting on in years who’s lived abroad for some time now. She loves the Central American country where she lives with her children so much she would have never left it, had a health complication not forced her to return to Cuba.

On Bodies and Dictatorships

January 3, 2014 | 15 comments

I’ve spent months looking for a small-sized bra without padding and still haven’t found it at any store. If I were looking for a pair of comfortable, low-heeled sandals, I would have to set out on a similar odyssey, because platform shoes are now in style.

Havana’s “Problem-Filled” Film Festival

December 13, 2013 | No Comments »

The most common thing one hears young and not-so-young people say is that they prefer watching European films, because “they’re not in the mood to see so many social problems.” That’s a curious thing to say during the 35th Havana Film Festival, an opportunity to see the latest films made in the continent and, in the meantime, have a look at films from other parts of the world.

Gender Stereotyping in Cuba’s Health Missions Abroad

November 15, 2013 | 2 comments

Margarita had always wanted to be a doctor and had been willing to practice anywhere in the world, even in Havana’s Calixto Garcia Hosptial, where she’s been working for several years now. “It’s like a relative one watches deteriorate slowly and progressively,” she told me.