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Havana has no street lights

March 12, 2012

At night, Havana has no street lights. The more upscale homes have fluorescent lights outside, but no lights in the street. I didn’t think that was possible. The bus seems to manage ok. The stars and moon can be seen.

By day we toured the forts, the Jesus statue built by Battista’s wife in thanks for his escape, the plazas, the churches. This part of Havana feels like Rome; full of tourists and ruins. Although the ruins are two thousand years younger.

In the afternoon Judy and I leave the tour to visit a doctor and public health worker at their home in Vedado. They serve us an amazing home-cooked meal. Their home is the traditional Cuban architecture, with very high ceilings. They share with us about their family, some of whom are in Canada, others here. The doctor works for an ICU. There are many doctors and nurses in the neighborhood, and all kinds of care are free. Vaccinations are mandatory; the public health workers visit every house, and you get vaccinated, no objections for religion or otherwise. Mothers with newborn baby get a full year with salary. A tuberculosis patient stays home and gets treated for a year with salary. Public health stats for communicable disease prevalence are among the lowest rates in the world. I wonder how a city that cannot affort street lights and cannot obtain medicines from US manufacturers pays for this.

Our host takes us to visit a Catholic church down the street. The church runs three masses per day. The priest is conducting mass. I cannot follow the sermon, but his style sounds forceful, like Fidel. Across the street is a charitable facility supporting people with Down’s syndrome and the elderly.

I am wondering, how much “freedom of religion” should there be? Should religion be free to oppose individual vaccinations and birth control for employees?

My card is running out; someone please post this on my Facebook page.

  1. paws4thot permalink
    March 12, 2012 7:53 am

    It’s not quite “no streetlights anywhere”, but when I was there parts of coastal Sarasota (Fl) had no streetlight, and no sidewalks.

  2. March 12, 2012 1:16 pm

    Religion aside, I’d like any and all of my injections to be on a voluntary basis–but I’ve always distrusted authority–especially when it comes to having my skin pierced by anything. As for contraception, I think women have a right to determine their own health policies–and that religion is just an excuse men use to keep women down, whether it’s about contraceptives, jobs, or women’s roles in society and government.

    As a man I understand those impulses, but I consider one’s allowing to let that affect one’s judgement as a mental weakness–and some fear, no doubt, since by a strictly biological comparison, women have greater emotional stability, higher pain threshold and a measurably stronger physical endurance. I’d like to hear an Evangelical’s rationale on that!

    But I don’t think religious freedom encompasses breaking the law of the land–in the past, if christians wanted to embrace their beliefs, they accepted martyrdom as a result–and I guess that tradition is still open to them, if they feel that strongly.

  3. SFreader permalink
    March 13, 2012 5:32 pm

    Wonder if no street lights might be because Cubans chooses to not have a 24/7 lifestyle/economy and for its citizens to get some solid sleep instead. Or, perhaps their weather .. hurricanes, etc. would make this too expensive to provide/maintain on a long term basis.

    With a 100% vaccination rate, I’m curious as to the incidence and range of side-effects. I’ve seen sites devoted to cons of vaccines, so the Cuban experience would provide an excellent comparison. (I’m assuming that Cuba gets its vaccines from the same manufacturers as the rest of the world? GSK, etc.)

    Never heard this one before with respect to Cuba … “mandatory birth control for employees”. I thought only China had a public birth control policy.

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