One of the most striking parts of our trip has been the apparent ongoing passion and support by the Cuban people for the Revolution. Beginning with their “national hero”, Jose Marti, a writer and tireless revolutionary who led the Cuban fight from Spanish control in 1895, the city is full of tributes to Marti and other revolutionary leaders, most notably the heroes of the most recent Revolution of 1959 – Fidel, Che Guevera, and Camillo Cienfuegos.
Statues, pictures, and tributes to the heroes are everywhere, and while it’s clear that state department of propaganda is active with posters, billboards, and frequent postings of Fidel’s speeches, it has also been striking to hear the Cuban people talk of the Revolution as an ongoing cause for justice and equality, and to feel their unabashed love for Fidel.
While they lament the general lack of resources (usually followed by a reference to the “US blockade”), the people we’ve met seem genuinely appreciative of the changes brought by Fidel & the Revolution (improvements to health care & education being his two primary goals), and unquestionably supportive of the principles of socialism as a way of building a better life for all Cubans.
They are clearly eager for ways to get more resources into the country – and an end to the US blockade – they also seem firmly committed to building their economy in a way that both honors their socialist values and preserves their heritage.