Just posted to our site, a Web only reflection from Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who accompanied the pope on his recent trip to Cuba:

The demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s caused great collateral damage in Cuba. With Soviet subsidies gone, so much fell into disrepair, so many became desperate.

Ubiquitous billboards remind you that society needs socialism, that socialism is the answer to all hopes and concerns. "¡Mas Socialismo!" "¡Socialismo hoy, mañana, y siempre!"

Yet, socialism has left so many on the margins of society in Cuba. Socialism has led to the control of peoples' lives, restricted their freedoms and caused people to seek a better life elsewhere. 

I was expecting to hear discontent from the people, more anger and resentment, but I encountered little of that. It was as if one does not talk about what is not going well. You endure, wait things out. After all, those in charge are elderly and time will leave them behind. "Poco a poco" things will change.

Cubans are industrious people, proud, poised for change. They have lived through hard times, but they remain hopeful, buoyant.

Walking the streets in Santiago and Havana, I met beautiful people going about the business of living, difficult as it is with little opportunity to work and few chances to advance. I saw children pedaling rusted bicycles. Most of the cars were out of the 1950s. Somehow their owners keep them running. I walked by neighborhood stores that had little on their shelves. The cupboards are empty. For the ordinary Cuban life is tough, especially for the elderly and the very young.

Read the rest here.

Tim Reidy

 

Comments

J Cosgrove | 4/28/2012 - 11:08am
Mr. Kopacz has given a wonderful endorsement of the US system.  Cuba can trade with any other country in the world except the US but is a basket case and when the trade doors open up with the US, all will be well because the US is the source for the prosperity of all.  Except if the US doesn't succumb to a lot of the Cuban ideals in the mean time.


Cuban music was great. 
Stanley Kopacz | 4/28/2012 - 5:44am
How much of Cuba's economic problems are intrinsic to their state-socialistic system and how many are due to US-imposed sanctions?  Their economy will improve post-Castro as a reward for toeing our line.  But why should it be any better than Mexico's?  Lot of rusty bicycles there and drug violence, too.
J Cosgrove | 4/27/2012 - 4:25pm
Let's hope there is a transition sometime soon for the Cuban people.  There will be massive amounts of help coming from lots of places.  A cruise ship officer once told me that most of the island resorts in the Caribbean fear a free Cuba because it has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and would be a major stop for all the cruise lines as well as for the building of hotel chains.  It would cause a drop off in these other vacation areas.  There would probably be a hundred flights a day to and from Cuba just for tourist and vacations.


Cuba also has large amounts of sugar cane and sugar cane makes much better ethanol  than corn so there would be investments there.  But let's see just what happens because Castro is near the end of his folly.  It is a shame so many had to pay for his nonsense.