Acerca de Fidel
El 26 de noviembre murió Fidel Castro, y me di cuenta de lo poco que conocía de Cuba
Back to English! As someone who claims to have (admittedly passive) Spanish in her combination, I really should know more. Where to start? With what I actually know:
Cuba, an island in the Carribean (el Caribe). Capital: La Havana (origens of the name?)
Fidel Castro: President and dictator. Died on November 26, 2016 at age 90. Opinions concerning Castro are to say the least, divergent. Most mainstream commentators took the opportunity of Fidel’s death to express strong disapproval of the man and of his regime. And yet there were also those celebrating Castro and his policies (education, healthcare, etc). Segolene Royal, the French environment minister, had very positive things to say about Cuba this week and was roundly criticized for comments by many at home.
Pretty much everyone agrees that Staline was a bad guy. Why so much disagreement over Castro? What are the implicit underlying beliefs behind these differences? Suggested reading, anyone? Preferably in Spanish….
Some historical facts and the corresponding terminology: the name of the dictator originally overthrown by Castro and his regime (Fulgencia Batista), the Bay of Pigs (I don’t even know how to say that in Spanish — Google informs me that it’s Bahía de Cochinos), the missiles crisis (la crisis de los misiles)…and that sums up what I know about Cuba. In other words, not a lot.
There is an excellent article on this week’s New Yorker on Fidle Castro’s funeral.
(Do links work on this blog? Hmmmm. Work in progress….)
A couple of answers: the Bay of Pigs is Playa Girón to the Cubans and nobody knows where the name Havana came from (the city’s original name was San Cristóbal de La Habana) although there are many theories.
Having been there just last February I was left wondering how things will evolve now that Fidel is gone and the country is opening gradually to tourism and a (limited) market economy. There are still two parallel currencies, one convertible for the tourist industry and the other the national currency used by most Cubans. The average monthly salary is the equivalent of US$25 while people dealing with tourists, which seems to be an ever increasing share of the population, whether renting out rooms, playing music in bars or using their reconditioned American cars as taxis, may earn that much in tips in a day. This is creating a huge income gap. It’s difficult to know what people actually think of the regime since they are closely watched but I had the feeling that many are truly proud of their country and of the achievements of socialism although like everyone else they would certainly like to be better off financially. And many probably know they are being fed propaganda but accept it because there is no choice. It will be an interesting story to follow. You should go, Catherine …