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Cuba: The Matrix Inside-Out

March 6, 2012

On Saturday, I head out to Cuba for background research for Frontera 2. Cuba is like the Matrix turned inside-out; the bad guys are the ones trying to squeeze access to the “virtual” world, and keep people stuck in a rather limited material world. To see what Cubans have to say about this, I recommend Voces Cubanas, particularly the blog of Regina Coyula. Some of the blogs  have English versions; if not,  just paste into Google Translate and you get the gist. Cuba has a lively art scene; check out Havana Cultura for videos of various artists. One that our group will be visiting is José Fuster. Current US law forbids “importing art” but allows us to obtain “visual research materials.” This kind of approach appears typical of current US-Cuban relations.

From Saturday through the next week, I’ll be exploring Havana and Pinar Del Rio, known for its rainforest among other things. If I have access to the Internet, I will try to post on the blog, so stay in touch.

If you were going to Cuba (or have been), what would you want to look for?

  1. March 7, 2012 12:30 am

    Cycads. And Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers. And especially the urban gardens of Havana.

  2. paws4thot permalink
    March 7, 2012 5:57 am

    1950s American cars, local art, food and music, “places of interest/history”.

    other than the cars, much like anywhere else I’ve ever been really.

  3. Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
    March 7, 2012 8:33 am

    I hope you have a wonderful trip. I am looking forward to heating about your experience.

  4. SFreader permalink
    March 8, 2012 11:21 am

    Most hotel employees have a ‘connection’ in the Cuban cigar industry and will gladly sell you some less-than-perfect cigars at a ‘bargain’ price. Cuba also has a couple of lovely locally made floral perfumes that you can’t get anywhere else.

    Hope you enjoy fish! And take some time to enjoy their beaches – wonderful!

  5. March 8, 2012 4:11 pm

    Well, I’ll certainly ask about the cycads and woodpeckers. I believe an “urban garden” is one of the things on our tour.
    About the cigars, I’m not sure. We’ve been warned that the off-market cigars are mostly of questionable origin. The perfumes I hadn’t heard about.
    What really interests me is how they’ve been able to keep up medical research. Reportedly a Havana research group has found a possible new AIDS vaccine.

  6. SFreader permalink
    March 9, 2012 3:33 pm

    Apparently over 30 years ago, Cuba decided that natural resources was not a good prospect for good long term economic prosperity, so they decided to fund bio-medical research.

    I’ve heard that some MDs from Europe and Canada visit there on a semi-regular basis often bringing medical supplies, then help out at various clinics. Might be also true of medical / academic researchers/post-docs.

    • March 9, 2012 5:15 pm

      Yes, Americans do the same.
      Actually Cuba was known for quality medicine and health care long before the revolution. Early in the 20th century, they were considered to have the best health care in South America. However, access was very unequal; the peasants got nothing. Today, there is still inequality, since those with money (plus foreigners) get the best, whereas shortages affect everyone else. But their public health record remains impressive.
      It’s hard to know, though, how accurate the stats are.

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