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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Couch surfing in Havana 

Dear folks,

I’m so very sorry for missing our fourth birthday. I have been in Havana, subsisting without pants (gracias a Air Canada for loosing my bags for four days) and without confirmed accommodation (gracias a onslaught of pasty-middle-class tourists that sold out all of Cuba’s hotels). So I do apologize for not being around, and I hope that the lads saved me some birthday cake, while I was couch surfing in Havana. Mind you, I know that Yamis is a guy who likes his cake, so I won’t be disappointed if it is all gone.

By now you’ve heard the news. Fidel Castro is no longer governing the country. It’s official now. The truth of the matter is that he has not governed it for close to two years, and some of the most important economic and social programs have been deployed since 2002 without his direct supervision.

I was in Havana when the news of Fidel’s retirement came. And when it came? Nothing. Not a single thing out of the ordinary. The sun rose, people went to work, and life carried on. After all, the real good-bye Fidel party took place in December 2006 in the form of a delayed 80th birthday party.

Not to gloat, but this is exactly what I said (August 02, 2006) would happen here on this blog. Did the world pay attention? Nope.

On February 19th, a CNN reporter, at three in the morning, was seen on a deserted street in old Havana. He was bantering something to the extent that, “Yes, I’m standing here in the middle of Havana, and it is still pretty quiet, because everyone is still asleep. We are waiting for the onslaught of chaos to ensue tomorrow morning when people wake up and read the papers.”

For 50 years now the Western Media has forecasted the mass upheaval of Cuban society with the departure of Fidel Castro. The U.S. State Department has thought the same. Even the CIA believed it so, and with multiple assassination attempts against Fidel, they hoped that the entire society would fall open to the warm, and glowing, embrace of U.S. Capitalism.

These people are truly stupid. They are stupid in the sense that they have not learned a single thing about Cuban society or its politics for about half a century. And it came down to some poor CNN reporter standing in the deserted street with his dick in the wind trying to convince the world that the counter revolution was about ready to bleed out of the walls.

To me, this is a fascinating time in the sense of watching how the western media handles the normalcy of the post-Castro era. How will they manage to back-pedal on so many years of false prophecy?

And what of the public imagination? So many people in Canada tell me that they want to go to Cuba “before Castro dies.” Well, there’s still time for that. Even the loveable cab driver that took me to Montréal’s airport told me of such personal desire.
It is a little worrisome to see how unequipped media and popular perception is in understanding Cuba, and even the world we live in. We could dig deeper into this, but it largely comes down to how people see orchestrated and monumental movements as the moments of a society’s change rather than an infinite series of presents that all, in some way, create an unfolding path of change.

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