What is Life like in Cuba?

The 'almendrones' are American cars of the 50s and 60s that still drive around Cuba, since for decades the country has had no means to produce or import other vehicles. (Getty)

Despite the opening of the last few years, the communist regime continues to limit the way of life of the population.

Cuba has been a communist country since the triumph of the revolution in 1959, almost 60 years ago. This means that the state is who controls the means of production (factories and companies), the media and all the properties.

The government is also responsible for making sure that everyone gets a job, access to education and healthcare, as well as providing enough food and basic necessities.

However, being a self-sufficient country is not easy. One of the problems is that, since the beginning of the communist regime, Cuba has suffered the effects of a blockade.

When he seized power, Fidel Castro decided to nationalize the economy and expropriate business and property to all foreign companies. In response, the United States banned its companies from doing business with Cuban ones and persuaded other countries to do the same.

Despite criticism from the Cuban authorities, the blockade has lasted for decades, has weakened the economy and affected its people, who have suffered most the lack of food and materials.

Fields in Cuba are very fertile for some crops, like for example tobacco or sugarcane, but do not work for others. When the harvest is not good, food is scarce and a great part of it is kept to feed tourists in hotels and resorts.

On the other hand, the Cuban government has had to face drawbacks to produce and manufacture objects, appliances or vehicles.

The country does not have any raw materials to manufacture, neither does it have metal mines or large forests nor the money to import materials from other countries. That’s why we can still see many classic cars of the 40s and 50s, prior to the Revolution and the blockade, driving around.

Cubans who work in factories and state businesses receive very low wages that are complemented with food and basics rationing. But there is not always enough for everyone.

People who want to set up their own business and make their own money, need permission from the authorities, which requires a lot of paperwork, time and paperwork (and often giving tips to officials to speed up the process). When they eventually have it, they are to pay a large amount of taxes.

For many years, thousands of Cubans immigrated to the United States in search of a better life: they are called “balseros”. But the authorities of both countries have reinforced surveillance to prevent more Cuban immigrants from coming in through the beaches of Florida.

Every day, groups of ‘balseros’ try crossing the 200km that separate Cuba from the US. (Google Maps)

A large part of the Cuban population supports the government and lives this situation with resignation. They get by as best as they can and avoid criticizing the communist regime so as to say out of trouble.

Many Cubans, especially the youngest ones, have always lived in a country ruled by the Castros and have very different opinions about the future: some believe that a new president could change things, while others believe that everything will remain the same.

However, with the internet and social networks coming in, Cubans have more and more contact with the outside world. They know that there is another way of living, another way of governing that might improve their quality of life.

The Communist Party of Cuba, which has governed the country for 60 years, knows that it will have to adapt to this new reality if it wants to maintain the people’s support.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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