Cuba Retrospective ... Grand Cayman

Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Sat 6 Jun 2009 02:47
Hello Friends                    "19:18.1N 81:21.5W"
Our final brief observations on Cuba, now that we've moved on South.
The Regime
As with most 'communist' / 'socialist' or centrally planned economies, it's not really a country of equality, more of a secure area where the inmates are moderately well looked after.
Think dictatorship by the military aristocracy, with spin.
The Embargo
(by the United States)
Whilst ridiculous, it does in fact bolster the regime by providing an excuse for any failings. In fact there is free trade with the rest of the world, notably France and SE Asia, so blaming Cuba's troubles on the American embargo is not valid, though doubtless restoration of Cuba - US trade would result in benefits for both countries.
The People
Several of the more educated people we spoke to were well aware of the fact that "we're all prisoners" and could not leave Cuba or have any opportunity to advance themselves. Cubans are in the great majority, very pleasant and friendly people, perhaps because they are shielded from the wickedness of the free world? More likely as they have little knowledge of the rest of the world, they love to talk and find out about the world beyond the fence. Their lack of even Caribbean geography is quite startling.
The Irony
The tourist business is based carefully on free market principles of supply and demand, since Cuba needs foreign currency and 'political' dogma doesn't earn that. So tourist prices are carefully aimed to be what we might just pay, surely after comparison with prices elsewhere.
The Fear
Just like Eastern Germany or other (in)famous 'communist' countries the people have much concern for being spied-on and reported-on for activities (like running any business) which is not permitted. We heard of one guy who had been running an informal fish supply business in addition to his allocated job: he was spotted by the Authorities for using too much electricity to power the necessary freezers. He was demoted to a decorating job and we understand now has a freelance sideline painting... So you can't keep a good man down, maybe.
The Future
The Castros are not young anymore and change will come. Whether the change is uncontrolled and benefits a few (like the former USSR / Russia) or is more skilfully managed (like China) will be the big question.
So tell us what You think...
Anyway for reading thus far, your reward is to see the fish that we were snorkelling with near Cayo Largo del Sur
- a Queen Triggerfish - my photo from an almost dead camera, greatly enhanced by the computer - but you really should see it live
and lastly, a Queen Angelfish which Michael saw on the reef, though had difficulty taking a photo
and the reef was just full of large and fantastic fish.

We're now in Grand Cayman, in a rather ludicrously expensive marina which is scarcely half built. BUT Grand Cayman does have shops with actual goods in them to buy and decent restaurants with a choice of menu - in fact just what we needed! We are also enjoying a decent internet connection - not something the Cuban people are permitted ...
We'll try to get a few good photos of the Caymans but we'll be off south to Providencia soon, so get on google and try to find out where Providencia is !!!
best wishes
George , Michael and Garrison