A Cuban Loses his Fear (Video)

By Brandon Ferdig

Juan Manuel Menendez. Foto de su página de Facebook

HAVANA TIMES – For two weeks in January I visited Cuba, a country long off-limits to Americans like me. My goal was to simply observe life in this country; to see if the stereotypes about old cars, positive people, and government control were true and then to see what lessons about humanity could be learned from Cuba.

Usually when I travel, I record interviews with residents who share about their lives. I didn’t anticipate doing this in Cuba. I worried about the risks.

But then on January 4, 2018, Juan Manuel Menendez sat down with me in a Havana park and talked about issues that have long been off-limits to Cubans: poverty, censorship, refugees, and general mismanagement of his country.

I was impressed with Juan’s openness. But then he gave his reason: he said hopes his children can someday watch this video to see their father wasn’t scared anymore. 

brandon@theperiphery.com

 

6 thoughts on “A Cuban Loses his Fear (Video)

  • Good work. You picked a brave soul to be interviewed but he made the video. Common thoughts I hear frequently living part time in Cuba.

    There is a good possibility you could be hassled by Cuban Immigration if you return. I have that problem in spades and my journalistic work in Cuba is very positive about the Cuban people and culture.

    But a question about the t-shirt he is wearing. I can only see “Universidad” at the top but not Universidad of what? I ask because I am considering a business with a Cuban partner to produce and sell University of Havana t-shirts. I perceive there is tourist demand that is not being met.

    Reply
  • Although I enjoyed the interview, the times allowed to answer some of the questions were abbreviated; it seemed like Juan Manuel Melendez was just about to expand his answers when Brandon Ferdig was off-and-running with the next question. Wait. Listen. Of course we all know the litany of Cuba’s problems and hope that the government moves in a more expeditious manner towards their solutions. On the other hand, in a rush towards the so-called “free market” (which, of course, is not free at all, much like the Holy Roman Empire was said to be neither holy nor Roman), do we really want Cuba to wind up like some Mafia states, like Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, etc. or worse yet, failed states, like Libya, Somalia, Iraq and, given the chance, Syria? Most of us here want the social goods, like education and medical care, to be combined with the ability to accumulate capital and invest it in production. All-in-all, Cuba is in better shape for its people than many nearby states, as exemplified by the march of hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions, of its citizens to the dubious “safety” of the U.S., where they seek a better economic future. Some are successful. Others are but a paycheque away from disaster.
    P.S. to Bob Michaels If you stop some of the shots of Juan Manuel Melendez you may be able to figure out the University from the epigrams on the top half of the insignia.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the production tips, Michael. I’ll try to pay more attention to the pace of the conversation in subsequent videos. Question for you: Why are the alternatives either “socialist” or “mafia”? This isn’t a challenge to your concern. I’m legitimately curious. Do you think Cuba would move toward a corrupted Latin-American style government if deregulated? Why? Why could it not mimic South Korea, Norway, or the U.S.?

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      • Socialism covers a lot of territory, from authoritarian to social democracy. I hope Cuba will move towards the latter, with elections with real choices. However, imperialism is sophisticated in its abilities to corrupt elections through large infusions of $$$ to support its candidates: purchasing media time, buying votes and, if worse comes to worse, staging outright coups, as were the cases recently in Honduras (but going back to Guatemala in ’53, Iran in ’54, and many others both beforee and since). Even in our own recent elections because the way our system is stacked we only had a choice between the ridiculous and the absurd. Actually, given the track record on “demockracy” and some of its alternatives (illustrated by Socrates’s REPUBLIC), I’m not sure democracy is best. or even second-best!

        Reply

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