Cuba – 2003 – A concert in the park

Tonight we went out to a concert hall and listened to an orchestra. The stringed instruments were familiar, but not the same as those that we are accustomed to today. They were quite old and seemed larger and perhaps more awkward than those that we use today. The music was fine, however.

There are groups of men in the streets playing music where ever we go. They have weathered faces that show the strength and the difficulties that surviving as a musician has given them. Even in America it is difficult to make a full time living as a musician, imagine what it is like in Havana where extra money is so scarce.

Many people survive here buy using or being  part of the black market. Suppose you drive a truck carrying cement. When you arrive at your destination you might, for some reason, be three or four bags short. It might be troubling for your boss, but cement bags do break when being loaded or in transit. No bosses here to worry about that. The state owns everything. So a few bags go missing and are sold to a neighbor or two on the black market. Who’s the wiser at the end of the day. This permeates the entire economic system.

Why is southern Italy so different from the north. One word, corruption. The mafia takes a percentage of every dollar spent on public works projects in southern Italy. If it costs fifty thousand dollars to build something in the north, it takes much more than that to build it in the south.

Just think of the corruption when the government is involved in every business deal and transaction. Money is skimmed off at every level by inspectors, auditors, and every other guy with his hand out and protected by a corrupt government.

Equality, I don’t think so. Kim Jun Il had his Mercedes and perhaps more than one. Mao had the finest horses and most beautiful women. Where is the equality in communism. At the bottom, not at the top.

Waiting for Snow in Havana is a great book if you want to read about Fidel coming to power and what happened afterwards.