In the latest pull-out-of-the-middle-and-bin travel supplement in the Radio Times, there is an advert for going on holiday in Cuba:
Warm golden sand touched by shimmering seas, endlessly clear and calm. Sparkling contrasts. A deep sense of harmony. Cuba is life.
Unless you are one of the poor bastards who actually has to live there.
Cuba’s cultura is very prestigious. It happy people live very rooted to its traditions and customs. If you want to know about that go and visit the museums.
“Rooted to its traditions and customs” as in “bugger all has happened for the last fifty years”. Say what you like about communism, at least it avoids disfiguring the landscape with a lot of mucky economic development. Well, muck they can do. It’s the economic development they avoid. Film companies love communism, because huge swathes of ancient places get preserved by it as if in aspic, needing only a scrub-down and then some mending and a lick of paint to bring the distant past back to instant and authentic life.
As the heading says here, about some very boring-looking historical building:
Arranged Historical Place as Museum
A phrase that would do well as a description of Cuba itself. One instinctively knows which questions not to ask.
Meanwhile, back at the Knowing Culture section, the blurb ends thus:
If you take a tour of our cities you will see the development of music, dance or plastic arts, manifestations that have left a trace in the world.
Mostly in Miami.
So, potential tourists living outside Cuba have no problem accessing the internetted tourist version of Cuba. But what is internet access like for the the natives?
With less than 2 per cent of its population online, Cuba is one of the most backward Internet countries. An investigation carried out by Reporters Without Borders in October revealed that the Cuban government uses several levers to ensure that this medium is not used in a “counter-revolutionary” way. Firstly, it has more or less banned private Internet connections. To surf the Internet or check their e-mail, Cubans have to go to public access points such as Internet cafes, universities and “youth computer clubs” where their activity is more easily monitored. Secondly, the computers in all the Internet cafes and leading hotels contain software installed by the Cuban police that triggers an alert message whenever “subversive” key-words are spotted. The regime also ensures that there is no Internet access for dissidents and independent journalists, for whom communicating with people abroad is an ordeal. Finally, the government also relies on self-censorship. You can get 20 years in prison for writing “counter-revolutionary” articles for foreign websites. You can even get five years just for connecting to the Internet illegally. Few Internet users dare to run the risk of defying the regime’s censorship.
Which would explain the “deep sense of harmony”.