CUBA

I would like to go back to Cuba but will not do that until hubby and I can go legally on our own (without an organized tour) from the US.
You already can! :)

As of March 16, 2016, US travellers can travel to Cuba independently under the people-to-people category previously only available to groups:

http://www.authenticubatours.com/us-legal-cubatravel.htm#general_license_cuba_travel_2

GENERAL LICENSE FOR PEOPLE TO PEOPLE TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR INDIVIDUAL TRAVELERS

According to new changes implemented on March 16, 2016, US citizens can now go to Cuba under a general license for individual people-to-people educational travel. The trip should consist of a full-time schedule of activities intended to promote the exchange with the ordinary citizens of Cuba.

This full-time schedule must also include educational activities that result in meaningful interaction in between U.S and Cuban nationals. Persons traveling to Cuba under this license must retain records related to transactions and demonstrating that a full time schedule of authorized activities was followed.

Previously, the General License for People-to-people Educational Travel required these trips to take place ONLY under the auspices of US organizations, and all travellers to be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring institution to observe that a full-time schedule of educational activities was maintained.

This requirement has been removed as of March 16, 2016 making more affordable and accessible for Americans to visit the Caribbean island.

Example: a USA citizen wants to visit Cuba to engage in discussions with Cuban artist about community projects, exchange with members and staff of art institutions and foundations; to have extended dialogue with city planners and architects to learn about historical restoration projects in Old Havana or with religious leaders about Afro-Cuban religion and influences in Cuba today, or with farmers and food producers about cooperatives structures and agricultural farming in the island; ect. This USA individual is going to have a full-schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interaction with Cubans and keep proper records about the trip. This trip qualifies for the general license.
 
Last week I saw these interesting documentaries on German TV (all in German):
1) Das Mafia-Paradies (about Cuba before the revolution, very interesting!):

2) Eberl entdeckt Kuba - Bevor die Amis kommen (travel documentary):

3) Quer durch Kuba:

Seeing this I noticed that Cuba is more dilapidated than when I was there 25 years ago. I had hoped that things had improved.
 
I saw in the news yesterday that the first cruise ship from the US was on its way. I think I saw a while ago that prices for that cruise (from Miami!) started around $1700. That is crazy...
 
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Last week I saw these interesting documentaries on German TV (all in German):
1) Das Mafia-Paradies (about Cuba before the revolution, very interesting!):

2) Eberl entdeckt Kuba - Bevor die Amis kommen (travel documentary):

3) Quer durch Kuba:

Seeing this I noticed that Cuba is more dilapidated than when I was there 25 years ago. I had hoped that things had improved.
Nope things just keep collapsing further although Eusebio Leal is working to restore La Habana Vieja and places along the malecon are being fixed up a little at a time. they relocate the people living there and then fix the places up as hotels. I hope they don't end up in some crappy suburbs but in descent housing - the people they relocate I mean.
 
Cuba and Puerto Rico are very similar when it comes to the culture but politically and economically they are completely different. Puerto Rico is definitely 57 years ahead of Cuba: It is very developed and beautiful. And Old San Juan is a real gem: cobblestone streets lined with beautiful houses in different pastel colors, very clean and at the same time old and historic. It is such a shame that Havana is more and more falling apart. I have been saying since my first trip to Cuba: If Havana was restaured and then maintained like old San Juan is, it would be a real treasure. I hope that restauration will happen there before it is too late.

The main problem are the politicians and the corruption (quote from the link above): "Dozens of officials in both parties and the police have faced corruption charges in the last 20 years, including those close to governors. The US Department of Justice has tried repeatedly to prosecute, to limited effect."
 
"Ray-Bans, iPhones and Nikes: Some Cubans are getting a taste for luxuries"

Cubans are increasingly asking their Miami relatives for not just basic necessities, but luxury items. Pretty complex issues at play here...This desire to be in line with the rest of the world is understandable on the one hand, but on the other hand, it suggests that some Cubans on the island live under the illusion in Miami/the US money grows on trees and they are somehow entitled to anything they ask of their Miami relatives.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...57d632-29ad-11e6-ae4a-3cdd5fe74204_story.html
 
"Ray-Bans, iPhones and Nikes: Some Cubans are getting a taste for luxuries"

Cubans are increasingly asking their Miami relatives for not just basic necessities, but luxury items. Pretty complex issues at play here...This desire to be in line with the rest of the world is understandable on the one hand, but on the other hand, it suggests that some Cubans on the island live under the illusion in Miami/the US money grows on trees and they are somehow entitled to anything they ask of their Miami relatives.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...57d632-29ad-11e6-ae4a-3cdd5fe74204_story.html
They think that's news? t's been that way for ages.
 
They think that's news? t's been that way for ages.
Asking for stuff isn't news but they make the point that since Cubans now have public wifi access, they increasingly come into contact with the luxury brands thay before were relatively unknown to many. Quotes from Cubans in Miami:
"A few years ago they would never have asked for such things. The real problem is they are ignorant and secluded and they think money grows on trees over here.”
"Rosalia Alvarez, a Miami doctor, said one of her co-workers was told by family members “not to get shoes from Payless or Kmart. They only wanted shoes from Macy’s. They’re getting much more discriminating.”"
 
Asking for stuff isn't news but they make the point that since Cubans now have public wifi access, they increasingly come into contact with the luxury brands thay before were relatively unknown to many. Quotes from Cubans in Miami:
"A few years ago they would never have asked for such things. The real problem is they are ignorant and secluded and they think money grows on trees over here.”
"Rosalia Alvarez, a Miami doctor, said one of her co-workers was told by family members “not to get shoes from Payless or Kmart. They only wanted shoes from Macy’s. They’re getting much more discriminating.”"
Well I guess since I mostly have hung out with musicians who have toured, they were already familiar with the designer brands etc even if they didn't usually have money to buy them themselves. Mostly they'd buy the pirated stiff sold on the streets of Italy. But I've seen people with iPhones and Samsungs there a few years before the wifi started.

But definitely Cubans don't have a sense of what is expensive for people in the US and assume that everyone has money like on the tv shows they see.
 

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