This was an unusual holiday as Elizabeth
explained. It was not sitting around by a swimming pool or visiting
theme parks it was experiencing the way in which Cuban society
has dealt with its economic isolation from the western world.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. It is 750 miles long
and up to 130 miles from north to south with a population of about
12million. To the north is the Atlantic Ocean and to the south,
the Caribbean Sea.
Its recent political and economic history have shaped Cuban social
outlook. The Communist revolution of 1959 under the leadership
of Fidel Castro led to the United States cutting off all trade
links. Cuba had then to trade with the former Communist states
of eastern Europe especially the U.S.S.R. However trade was again
hampered with the demise of Communism within Europe. Elizabeth
told us that the Cuban government has concentrated its efforts
away from the acquisition of wealth and has concentrated on improving
social standards. Cuba has an exceptionally high standard of literacy,
100% in most of the younger age groups. It has also achieved comparatively
good levels of basic health care. Infant mortality is low and
life expectancy is high compared with other islands in the region.
The populace of Cuba is still poor, Elizabeth pointed out. Her
pictures of street traders, showed us how some Cubans made their
living selling or bartering goods. We saw photographs of old cars
upon which the locals had used their ingenuity to keep running.
We were told how luxury items espeicially electrical goods were
not in evidence and that to buy a television would cost more than
a flat rented from the government.
More photographs showed us how politically aware Cubans are. One
of these showed Che Guevara's last letter to his revolutionary
comrades immortalised on a concrete pillar.
Elizabeth told us that she did venture away from the main urban
area, with her tourist party she ventured up into the highlands.
This was a mainly forested area which was hot and humid where
tropical plants, such as mimosa, hibiscus and poincettia could
be seen. Again luxuries were missing but the sense of community
After undertaking a little research of my own it is hard to determine
the truth.about Cuba. Political extremes slant even the most basic
of facts about its development since 1960.
So thanks to Elizabeth in giving an unbiased
view of Cuba and it's society.