Thursday, May 2, 2019

May Day in Havana

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I had the opportunity to participate in the May Day festivities in Havana, Cuba this year and jumped at the chance. Never having traveled to Cuba before I was not sure what to expect but I was also excited at the prospect of getting to meet people and learn something about this island nation that has been a thorn in the side of American imperialism for 60 years.  One observation that stands out is that the idea of socialism is still very popular in Cuba.  This was evident from the enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands who were marching on the main boulevard, Paseo, toward Revolution Square.

This is not to say that some sections of the population, particularly the young, have become increasingly alienated from the ideals of the Cuban Revolution.  It would be strange if it were otherwise as the generation that made the revolution are practically all gone and the majority of Cubans remain drenched in poverty.  Add to that the lures of consumer culture that Cubans are exposed to on the Internet and through the tourist industry, it becomes understandable that there is an ideological as well as an economic crisis in Cuba. Cubans are aware that six decades after the revolution a newly emerging bourgeoisie has grown up in Cuba. There are now dozens of millionaires in Cuba, something that was unthinkable in previous years. Social inequality has grown considerably in the last few years.  Nevertheless there remains a spirit in the Cuban people that is unique. Despite the inroads of capitalism, every Cuban is still guaranteed free health care and free education. And Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  The idea of socialism, if not the reality, still lives in Cuba. 

I will save further comments for a later time.  Here are some images and video of May Day in Havana.

Alex Steiner
Havana, Cuba, May 2, 2019