The Guardian • Issue #2088

Life in Cuba Today

SA comrades show solidarity

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2088

Ivan Barreto receiving South Australian gifts and donations from Dave Lock, Secretary of the Port Adelaide Branch of the CPA, at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples.

After their initial visit to Cuba in 2017, Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) South Australian members Dave and Dominique Lock, paid a further visit to this vibrant island nation in November 2023. In their talk at the 2024 Annual General Meeting, they explained how in Havana they met up with Ivan Barrato, a specialist director from ICAP (Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples) to whom they presented donations of pharmaceuticals, school materials and money from South Australian supporters (Ivan, a specialist in foreign relations, visited Adelaide in August 2023 with a medical scientist, Mariannez Diaz).

At the same time they took the opportunity to visit the Fidel Castro Ruz Centre nearby. Quotations by Jose Marti and Fidel Castro, the two great Cuban leaders, are featured either side of the entrance. The displays in the centre place great emphasis on the people’s struggle and are aimed at appealing to and inspiring, the younger generation with feature displays exemplifying Cuba’s humanitarian work around the world. The item ‘reasons for the Cuban Revolution’ received particular attention.

Included in their itinerary was a visit to Satiago de Cuba, birthplace of the modern Cuban Revolution, where extensive renovations are taking place at the Moncado Revolution Museum. They also visited the Che Guevara Mausoleum at Santa Clara, featuring many items of memorabilia from the life of a “true revolutionary.”

Dominique and Dave described the challenges Cuban faced in every day survival as a result of COVID, as no tourist ships have been arriving, along with inflation and prices soaring. For example a bag of cement now costs 20 euros ($32 AUD). As little foreign currency is coming into Cuba, families who have relative overseas find themselves at an advantage. Despite these pressures, a wide variety of food is available at markets and people are moving ahead with their lives. Items such as toiletries and pharmaceuticals are still very much in demand, but despite such difficulties there is very little begging and no homelessness anywhere.  At the same time, many Cubans seem unaware that Americans can face identical privations.

Although among younger people there may be an undertone of discontent, children are certainly well-looked after and school attendance remains excellent. As would be expected, widespread hostility exists towards the United States, which entices Cubans to ‘emigrate’ with offers of immediate citizenship, available to no other nationality.

Nations supporting Cuba include Venezuela with petroleum supplies, and China with technology and potential development through the Belt and Road Initiative. Columbia is providing materials and manpower in building projects.

Such a first-hand view of everyday life in Cuba today was greatly appreciated by all ACFS members, who were inspired to redouble their support for the Cuban people in a busy year ahead which will now include a visit from the Cuban Ambassador, Tanieris Dieguez La O.

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