18 February 2010
WE SAW IT everywhere: massive widescreen LCD televisions, trendy clothes, flashy cars.
In Santiago de Cuba, young men walked around with huge shiny belt buckles with corporate logos and $ symbols, shirts always tucked at the front showing them off. Some hung there like they hadn’t finished dressing.
I spotted a teenager with a Nike logo shaved into the side of his head. At the dollar shops selling “luxury” items, Cubans cup their hands at the windows, staring inside at what they may one day be able to buy.
The gap between the haves and have-nots is widening.
As we read in Zoe Bran’s Enduring Cuba (Travel Literature), and what a Cuban told her, as far as wealth goes, the army is at the top, government workers next, then those in the tourist industry, and then the rest.
We can definitely vouch for the tourism industry. Anyone lucky enough to get their hands on tourists is doing alright for themselves. In Vedado (Havana) we stayed in a mansion of a place. It was immaculate. The huge courtyard was adorned with a little pool, large dining table, and ceramic statues of Greek goddesses. At a couple of casas we saw big screen LCD televisions.
It’s one of the things you scratch your head about here, one of the contradictions you hear so much about. How does the government intend on holding on to the idea of socialism when consumerism and capitalist mindsets are creeping in?