Day 8 in Cuba
The next morning we had a visit to an office of the National Assembly of People’s Power and met with a member, who spoke very good English. From her we received a strong dose of the party line. She passed out booklets on the Cuban 5, and their pictures covered one wall. Behind her was a large photo of Fidel.
She gave an explanation of the structure and function of the Assembly and tried to make it sound like a functioning democracy. When she said that Raul Castro always received 100% of the votes to be head of the Council of State, the ruling body of the Assembly, it was tempting to point out that in a true democracy that would never occur over a period of time.
When asked if the statement: “The Communist Party does not govern Cuba but does rule it.” was true, she readily agreed. She then went on to say with great enthusiasm that the Communist Party was the vanguard of society and composed of the intellectual, ideological and political elite in society. Not surprisingly, we think she was a member!
We then went on a walk where we saw a Farmers’ Market with wonderful vegetables for sale. These had been purchased from farmers who drive to the outskirts of Havana at dusk and sell to these vendors. Capitalism was alive and well here. We also saw an urban garden filled with growing vegetables. Now anyone can lease unused land from the State and grow vegetables. They pay for the use of the land with a percentage of their crop.
We then had a delicious lunch and were dropped off at the San Jose Artisans’ Market on the Harbor in Vieja. There were probably a hundred stalls of different types of crafts being sold, and it was quite an example of Capitalism.
We had the rest of the afternoon free. Then it was off to our farewell dinner as we were going to be leaving in the morning. We gave a heartfelt thanks to Arturo and Francisco, our driver, and gave them Red Sox memorabilia (a Yankees hat too), Maple Syrup Candy from Maine and a generous tip for a wonderful 8 days.
On the way back all the students got dropped off at a Jazz Club and made the most out of their last night in Havana.