Cuban Fear Franchise Failing

The American fear industry got a great start in Havana with the Cuban missile crisis. It’s proved to be so successful that even though the Cuban missile crisis and Soviet style communism no longer exists, the fear industry boys are reluctant to let it go. You can understand why, Cuba used to be the franchise. Now of course, there’s terrorists under every bed and the need for Cuba no longer exists, but people always have a hard time moving on.

What the blockade of Cuba has done is force the Cubans much against their will to create the most independent, sustainable city and country on the planet. Ever hear of the world rushing to Cuba’s aid when a fearsome hurricane strikes? They have no oil. No hydro power to speak of, no foreign shipping. You can sit on the graceful logia of the Nacional hotel and watch the great container ships heading for Miami on the horizon of the Straits of Florida – ship after ship like an enormous marine train. In a week, I saw one half loaded ship come into Havana’s port, a city which is the size of Montreal. The Cubans have had no choice. They’ve had to learn how to run their principal cities by themselves without cheap everything from everywhere.

If you want an image of a very successful post apocalypse city, it’s Havana. There’s enough food to eat. Not fancy but sufficient. The streets are quite safe. There is excellent medical care if you need it, but my lord, there’s nothing in the stores. Zero. Imagine a world where you couldn’t shop until you drop. In fact, you couldn’t shop. And all those fancy high rises with the exception of a couple for tourists like the Nacional have been abandoned because the electrical supply just isn’t reliable enough to run elevators. The buses are something called camals, Volvo truck/trailers converted into long buses. The cars on the street are few and ancient. People make do everywhere. Streetcorner food markets. Make your own music. There’s an amazing lack of ‘stuff’. I had my fancy surfing shorts stolen from the hotel room. (They are hard to get.) Old cigar boxes are used to put your keys and change in the airport security check and so on.

All said and done, Havana gave me hope. It can be done. People can live civilized, safe lives without ripping off the environment or child labour in China, but it’s a whole different life. One that will come to a city near you if we don’t learn to live within our environmental means, because sooner or later the Mother Nature will do to the planet what the American embargo has done to Cuba. In the meantime, expect the Cuban embargo to be lifted. One day soon the greed for all that pent up buying power and pristine, environmental gold of Cuba will overcome the fear industry’s old franchise embargo.

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2 Responses to Cuban Fear Franchise Failing

  1. I love Cuba, and I love Havana, and I can see why that city would be announced as the world’s most sustainable. But to say that Cuba has no oil isn’t right: There is domestic oil production (in fact, Canadian tourists such as myself are shown them as signs of Canadian-Cuban business partnerships), and the country gets a good amount of cheap oil from Venezuela, as well.

    Your point remains, though: The Cuban people are incredibly self-reliant, and offer an example of what a city and a country can do even without what most westerners today see as necessities.

  2. vaalea says:

    Cuba was amazing, and so strange to not have a single item for tourist to buy.. well except hand-crafted local pieces. While I think they have a lot to teach us, being sustainable doesn’t need to mean certain deprivation… Cuba’s pros and cons can probably be traced back to embargo.
    The one thing that bothered me a lot being on a resort in cuba is that the food was mostly really crappy and everything was heavily laden with meat and dairy. Guess how much meat and dairy is in the typical cuban diet? the milk is for the children and they rely mostly on beans/lentils-so said our tour guide. As a vegan this sounds good to me! and if a little more attention went into the taste of the food, there would be less half eaten plates of food by picky resort eaters, and they could cut out the meat and dairy and focus on some more spices and fresher foods from local farmers than canned crap – only one day there could I find fresh pineapple, every other day it was canned! eww.
    A happy medium needs to be found… again we have much to learn from them but we don’t have to live with the same extent of deprivation…. we have a whole world and wonderful choices to enjoy sustainably and abundantly.
    one thing I notice being there during their christmas celebrations was the crappy quality of items the street vendors had on display. The cheapest junk that would break in no time, that is not something to emulate. I think the embargo is unfair, yet I hope it’s eventual lifting is not the downfall of Cuba.

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