Atenas de Cuba People-to-People Program
|Dispatch 4 - Guane
|Guane town seems to have a spring and energy to
it. Along the main street are dollar stores, book stores, a library, hotel, museum and
assorted other dry good stores. The only place I spent much time was the museum. The
director there clearly had a lot of pride in their small but well displayed collection and
enjoyed sharing it with visitors. Piece by piece she went through the history of island
from the indigenous population through the revolution. Most striking to me were the
pictures of housing before the revolution and what we were seeing now, riding at will all
over town. Even later in the day when I saw some less well kept houses, even the worse
werent at the level of a barrio or the condition generally seen in other less
Cubas multiracial history is apparent everywhere, but elements of its racist legacy are no where. On the streets, on the job, on the dance floor there seems to be no reference to heritage. "African", "European", "white" and "black" are used to describe people but with no implications. I ask one of the "African-Cubans" who was part of the group, in a couple of different ways, whether is she identifies herself as "African-Cuban", whether whites felt like they had a different cultural as "European-Cubans" or whether white and black Cubans looked at themselves as being culturally different. She, with great politeness and poise seemed to be trying to figure out what the heck I was talking about. From the stratified and polarized society Cuba had thirty-five years ago, a "non-racial" society seems to be one of the great successes of the revolution.
We have left the mountain valleys and are now on the alluvial plains. Agriculture has changed to reflected a lot more cattle and sugar cane. The are the spitting image Hollywoods cowboys, driving cattle and swing their lassos. The coastal towns did some fishing. Agricultural diversity was in the form of one new very young papaya farm.
The afternoon was powered by guarapo, a favorable juice made from sugar cane. Late in the afternoon we passed a copper mine, flying a Canadian flag.
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