A Cuban at the Miami Hilton

July 31, 2014 | Print Print |

Vicente Morin Aguado

The Hilton Miami Downtown

HAVANA TIMES — I arrived in Miami a few hours ago. Like almost all other passengers, I applauded when the plane landed.  I went through the airport without any problems and got into a taxi headed for the Hilton Miami Downtown (where I was to await the beginning of the 24th Annual Meeting of the ASCE, an association devoted to the study of the Cuban economy).

As this was my first trip abroad, I was naturally quite excited. However, I tried to conceal this part of my experience in order to observe my surroundings better, particularly while conversing with others.

One need not know how to speak English in Miami, but it is advisable to use this language from time to time (Miami being located in the United States). I see a great many skin color gradations in the employees around me, which include a number of compatriots (for the most part young). They are still Cuban, but they looked somewhat different to me. I’ve been to hotels all across Cuba, and I can tell you these particular employees are completely different from what I’m used to seeing.

I don’t know whether their bosses are watching them somewhere, but I still haven’t heard any reprimands. I don’t need to ask for anything, there’s always someone at hand anticipating one’s needs, no matter how trifle they are. What’s more, everyone greets you, as though saying: “Here I am, friend, don’t forget: I am here to serve you.”

The Hilton is an English-styled hotel, a tad boring from the standpoint of anyone looking for Cuban flair. It is a splendid place with an overabundance of luxury, but without any kind of exaggeration. The crucial thing is that everything works, not even the water in a fountain ceases to flow at any point during the day. That said, the best thing the hotel has are its employees.

Now I can confidently say that laziness, insensitivity, irresponsibility, contrived problems and other symptoms of an ill society do not have a genetic origin or some connection to tropical climates, as I once almost believed. A woman from the Cuban province of Camaguey, the head of the reception who welcomed me my first morning on US soil, accompanied me to the Internet room and set up a new email account for me, using her own cell phone to confirm the registration.

Now I am ready to report on the work sessions of the ASCE, where numerous professionals, including many who have come directly from Cuba, are to participate. It will be a forum open to all who wish to share their opinions. I will keep all of you posted on a daily basis so that we can all become better informed about the complex situation our country faces today.

There will be plenty of time to express my emotions. For the time being, at this hotel, without a single political slogan around me, I see that many of the things called for in my country have been accomplished here. Incidentally, I did not perceive any kind of distress in the faces of the busy employees. For the first time in a very long while, I feel that there are people whose job truly is to serve me.

Vicente Morin Aguado.   vicentemorin@yahoo.com


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    Vicente’s honest accounting of his first experiences outside of Cuba reflect the damages that the Castros have wrought on Cuban society during their 55-year tyrannical rule. My Cuban wife flew from Havana to Miami and then Miami direct to San Francisco on her first trip outside of Cuba. Her first experiences took place in a WalMart Superstore on the way from the airport because she was craving fresh strawberries. She had never eaten fresh strawberries her entire life. She nearly cried when she saw all the fresh produce and meat and all the products stacked up above her head. She was amazed how well-lit and clean the store was and equally amazed how polite and helpful these WalMart employees were, especially when I told her how they were all low-paid workers. We laughed out loud when she realized that Walmart paid staff to give away food samples. That never happens in Cuba! Cubans have paid too high a price for the Castro revolution.

    • Moty

      No es oro todo lo que reluce, hay que darse cuenta y ver todo lo que hay en realidad en EEUU

      • Informed Consent

        Moty….te tengo una pregunta. Has visitado el EEUU?

      • Mandiola

        Como en toda sociedad o pais.

      • Moses Patterson

        No he dicho nada de oro. Pero el muro de la leche que mi esposa vio en WalMart era más leche que había visto en un sitio que habia visto en toda su vida en Cuba.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Congratulations Vincente upon obtaining the opportunity to visit the capitalist world. The Hilton hotel chain is very much American rather than English, but as you have discovered, employees are there to attend to your wants and needs as a guest and they are trained to provide such service. I look forward to your future reports upon the impressions of being in a free country.
    My experiences as one who spends more than half my time at home in Cuba, is that Cubans lack opportunity and motivation due to the restrictions imposed upon them by the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba. An intelligent student attending a pre-university school in Cuba can reasonably question why they should bother working hard to progress when there is no economic reward. Cuba needs capitalism and the failure of “Sociallismo” is evident. Cuba sadly can be summed up in one word – CRUMBLING. The infrastructure is crumbling, the property is crumbling, the agriculture has crumbled, the economy is crumbling and it is time for the Communist Party of Cuba to crumble into dust!

  • bjmack

    Thanks Vincente for a great report. I look forward to more as you travel around
    Miami. Best to you!

  • Dan

    Funny. I guess if you board the Cuban “dissenters” industry graveytrain and are paid by NED, CANF or some other institution in the Superpower to bad mouth your country and stay in 5 star hotels, that’s one side of the coin. I’m sure that the service is impeccable. But I, a middle class, white professional, struggling to maintain a family and save for retirement, will have to take your word for it, companero, because I certainly cannot afford to lodge in such a place. Neither can the 100’s of millions of other common schmucks who wash the dishes, change the sheets,take out the garbage and “yes, sir”, “of course madam”, the wealthy guests of such places all day and night long for minimum wage. It is true that service in Cuba is generally not good, although there is little to complain about at the Nacional, or Plaza or Ambos Mundos, ect. The real contradiction in Cuba’s labor indiscipline is that while everybody complains about it, everybody engages in it. Work is extremely undemanding, and everybody takes it easy all the time. In the US on the other hand, if you work in retail or food service you can be fired in a second for forgetting to say “Thank you for shopping at Target” or whatever. As has been recently documented, you will probably be forced to work off the clock several minutes everyday and your shift manager will try to write down your time. McDonalds will give you advice on accessing food stamps though. So welcome to America, Vincente! Goza !

    • Moses Patterson

      Complain if you must Dan, but it still remains that in the US that a mixed-race child of a divorced single mom raised by elderly grandparents can grow up to become the most powerful man on earth. As bad and as hard as times have gotten, there is still a sliver of opportunity to live better than your parents. In Cuba, no such opportunity exists UNLESS you steal, lie, sell your body or wait on a care package from family abroad.

      • Dan

        In Venezuela, a bus driver can become president. In “Red China” there are plenty of billionaires who started out w/ backgrounds much more humble than Obama.So what ? Nobody I know, left right or center believes in that American Dream stuff anymore.

        • Moses Patterson

          I am not so sure you want to compare a Harvard-educated Obama to Venezuela’s Ma-burro. But, you are helping to make my point. Not on your list which obviously includes China and Venezuela as well is Castros’ Cuba. While access to the ‘American Dream’ has certainly narrowed, it is clearly not dead. The boatloads of Cubans and busloads of Guatemalan and Honduran children make my point. If the “Dream” were dead, they would flee their countries and go to Mexico or anywhere else where language and other hurdles do not exist. They continue to come, legally and illegally, to the US because they believe “in that American Dream stuff”.

          • Dan

            No. They come here because their societies and economies have been destroyed by the US empire. Not because they ever believe that they will become well-off or because they want to vote.

          • Moses Patterson

            You have been misinformed Dan. The “American Dream” is not about getting rich or voting per se. The ‘Dream’ is simply to live better than your parents. The US remains, despite naysayers like you, the most popular final destination for immigrants the world over. We have screwed up a few places, no doubt, but not everywhere and yet they come from everywhere anyway. In spite of our challenges, malcontents like you remain. You are not jumping in a raft to cross the Florida Straits to Havana just yet, are you? That’s proof enough for me that you know, whether you’ll admit it here or not, that you know where your chances to live better are best.

          • Dan

            NBC/Wall St. Journal poll out today. 76% of Americans do not believe they will attain their parents standards of living. The American Dream has rigor mortis.

          • Moses Patterson

            Rigor mortis means it’s already dead. I don’t agree with that. Stricken with a deadly virus and near death, probably. Still, my comment was simply to correct your earlier comment that the “Dream” is about getting rich. That is not the case.

  • pebble

    A casual Google search on the same day 31st 2014, you will find multiple death, crimes, rapes, in Miami, one of those capitalist paradise.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      I for one look forward to more reports from Vicente upon his actual experiences in the US.
      The shocking crime figures in the USA – do not reflect capitalism, what they do reflect is a gun-worshipping culture based upon a Constitution that is 200 years out of date and which US citizens are failing to amend. Don’t confuse the rest of the free democratic world with the lunacy of US politics.

      • bjmack

        Wow! Well said Mr. Mac. As a true Capitalist, we’ve totally
        given that up with the Federal Reserve in charge but that’s another
        blog site. Do agree with your gun theory.

    • Moses Patterson

      Pebble, what you just did is deflect. Crime exists everywhere and the US is certainly not immune from this human failing. Crime in Cuba is worsening while the violent crime rate in the US is actually going down. Nice try.

  • Mandiola

    Welcome Compatriota!