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Ella and I recently went back to Cuba. It was an all inclusive holiday with flight, four star hotel with all of the food and drink thrown in for around $2000. for the week for both of us.

The Cubans that we met were very sweet accommodating people who work very hard to please the tourists. They greet you with Hola wishing you a good morning/evening.
The staff were hesitant to answering my questions. Marie (not her real name) spoke eloquently of her beloved Fidel Castro. He had introduced free health care and education up to and including a college/ university education for the masses. Most of what we take for granted in London she told me was not possible.

The government has implemented a two currencies policy for the country. There is the Convertible Peso for the travelers to spend at the small boutiques. It takes $1.25 Canadian to buy one Convertible Peso. The residents use the Cuban Peso which takes 25 of their money for one convertible. The average worker makes 300-400 Cuban Peso for six ten hour days of labour per week. Do the math and that comes out to $20.00 Canadian per month

There is no private ownership of land, not possible, and families are forced to live sometimes seven to a two bedroom very small apartment. You can not obtain a lease, not possible, and have to rely on the family for shelter.
Hard to believe that Florida is only 19 miles across the waters. It is not possible to have cable/ satellite dishes to watch American television.

Computer access is limited to the schools and it is not possible to obtain for private use within your own home.

Traveling from abroad for the islanders is not possible; it has to be approved by government officials. Residents from off shore are not allowed to become permanent residents. One way off the island is to hopefully marry a visitor and then you are allowed to leave with your new spouse.

The hotel staff arrive by buses with their lunches to feed themselves. Not possible to partake of the touristís food. The children of the workers are not allowed to spend a day at the resortís beautiful1 white beaches to accompany their parents on a day off.

Working at the resorts with the chance to receive tips from the tourists in the Convertible Passo currency makes life so much easier. The remuneration is better then what a teacher/medical doctor can earn from the government.

When I was going through Cuban customs on the way home I was taken aside by two customs agents who asked me to accompany them to the back offices. I guess that one of the resort staff had informed the authorities? The custom agents interrogated me about the notes of my interviews that I had recorded and took the time to make copies . Scary.

There is price for the beautiful warm Caribbean paradise that the local people have to pay. The harsh two words,í not possibleí is a fact of life for the Cuban people. What price freedom?

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com