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Feliz Navidad

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 in Uncategorized

It is, once again, Christmas Day. I am alone in my house, baking blueberry/lemon muffins and ginger/cranberry scones to take with me to a family brunch gathering in a few hours. Outisde the sun is bright, the sky very blue, and the ice on the bushes by my windows is sparkling.

Two weeks ago, I was in Cuba. Ironically, I lived in Key West in 1959 as refugees were fleeing the Revolution. In retrospect I realize I did not know a lot about what was happening. I was 22, with two children under 13 months, and didn't pay much attention to anything beyond my immediate supervision. So, in Havana, walking through the Museum of the Revolution, I got a sense of those times...of those hopes, as the people, led by Castro, rose up to toppple a corrupt government.

Today, more than 50 years later, one gets a glimpse of dreams unfulfilled. But not all of them. Cuba has, apparently, a good health care system; and a enviable education sysem, with 100% literacy. Very little violent crime, and pratically no drug problems. Yet the people are terribly poor. The beautiful architecture—Havana must once have been one of the most dazzling cities in the world—is crumbling. Many of the luxurious homes that were owned by the wealthy, who fled, are now occupied by large numbers of people, and laundry flaps from the windows. The ruined sidewalks make for treacherous walking and the workers in the cigar factory dread the frequent power outages because they are sent home and get no pay for the day.

I always like to wander through small supermarkets in other parts of the world. They give such a sense of daily life. But one sees none of those in Havana. The population is provided monthly rations from the state ("never quite enough," one person confided with a rueful laugh)

Yet there is music—oh my, there is music!—and art, and dance; and a wonderful sense of community in the neighborhoods. One well-known tile artist has decorated his entire neighborhood so that it is bright with color.

 

My muffins are done and I must head out. Feliz Navidad.

 

 

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Ron Fischman
Ron Fischman
I used to sing for a living, then I tried to teach for a living, and now I am trying to write for a living. I ...
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Ron Fischman Wednesday, 25 December 2013

I have always liked the willingness of Castro's Cubans to bear a significantly lower standard of living to uphold the purity of La Revolucion. This doesn't necessarily mean that I promote socialism - the Kibbutz and its wane in the '70's plays an important role in my first book - but I believe that it is a crucial counterpoint to the Social Darwinist economics that defeated the Soviet Union.

I like to think that Annemarie Johansson would have migrated to Cuba, or maybe Israel, as an act of spiritual resistance. In my experience with Europeans who were children in the Holocaust but not Jewish, the majority individuated by rejecting European Christian society, at least for some period of time, before returning to it later in life. In a piece of fan fiction I wrote, I had her grow up in a DP camp, where her mother was a nurse, but not before she met Ezra the Dream Traveller. I think that Cuba was a dream, rather than an ideal, because the nature of the human beast is to to accrete and consolidate, despite the nature of the human spirit to ennoble and seek meaning.

Now what of Cuba? The big question is that if Ileana Ros-Leitanen (R-FL) and her ilk lost their vice-grip over US Cuba policy, and Cuba were able to interact normally with its natural biggest trading partner, would it capitalize, or would it struggle to maintain the best of Socialism? Would Cuba become one big Kibbutz los Reyes del Sol?

brenda wyckoff
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brenda wyckoff Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Your reflections often send me in an unexpected direction. More like reporting, I find myself looking more objectively at multiple perspectives and then breathing in a totally new attitude. Thank you for taking the time to share the fragrance of your Christmas Day and your musings from your trip. Feliz Navidad~

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