Opening Statement



Friday, 15 May 2020

An Intro 2 Santiago De Cuba 2020!



Everyone loves except Cuba. Except the United States. 

What's not to love? Cuba's a very safe and friendly Caribbean hotspot. Featuring gorgeous, unspoiled beaches. Reasonably priced hotels. Resorts. And restaurants. It's a hothouse of trova musica, rap, hip hop, and reggaetron. 

But in 1959, Cuba's "Triumph of the Revolution" or so called "revolution with a salsa beat" also kicked the US mafia, United Fruit and other corporate multinationals off of the island for good. [LINK

A literacy campaign followed. Along with universal medicare and education. Housing for all. A guarantee income. And a socialist constitution. 

Throughout Latin and South America, Cuba became the vanguard of the fight against the Neo Liberal Agenda through til today. Loved and respected for defending it 's independence, at all costs.

Which stateside makes Cuba a rogue state. The party is definitely over. Has been for the better part of 60 years. Under a crippling and illegal US economic embargo, Cuba was often economically isolated, facing chronic shortages of almost everything, for many years.

With the constant threat of military attack, they've also been living in a constant State of Emergency too. Much, much worse than the medical one we ourselves face today.


Remember President Obama's spring 2016 visit to Cuba? An end to all this madness finally seemed in sight, as the two countries began to normalize relations. 

As I reported in my 2015 "Cuba What Do They Think Blog?" , life for the Cuban people, everyday folks people much like yourself and I, began to improve a lot. [LINK]

Cuba even elected a new president. Embraced "sustainable socialism"; with a more open, mixed economy. And welcomed American cruise ships, airline flights and more and more American tourists. Along with the much needed dollars and jobs that brings.

It was a recipe for success, raising the Cuban standard of living. Ending the chronic shortages of food, medicine and everyday necessities from years past. While keeping in tact the revolutions important social gains. The turn around was especially evident during my spring 2018 visit to the Toronto Friendship School. [LINK]

Think of it like this -let's say Cuba was North Korea or China? 

The US would be jumping with joy! Doing cartwheels!

But now, as the Covid-19 pandemic steals everyone's attention, something truly evil is brewing. 

President Donald Trump is taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to quietly tighten the US economic screws on Cuba. Bigly!

Even medical and humanitarian aid often aren't getting through, including food, medicine and PPE's [1]

Sadly, this year when Janet and I visited Santiago de Cuba, Trumps bullying tactics had already begun, plunging Cuba back into an economic crisis, like I haven't seen since the early 1990's

If you visit this site a lot, you'll know I first visited Santiago de Cuba in 1992. That was during the "Special Period", after the collapse of it's trading partners in the Soviet Union and the Socialist Bloc. As the Cold War ended, Cuba was left isolated and economically bust. 


That's when I began the CSP: Cuban Schools Project, an educational development aid project, to teach English and basic business skills in Cuba. [LINK]

Teaching can be a subversive activity. Canada, like most countries, around the world, didn't join in the US embargo of Cuba. Instead, we've pursued a more measured policy of constructive engagement, to help fix the underlying problems in Cuba. Give them a fair chance.

The CSP helped with solidarity grants from the Ontario Teacher Unions, to build and develop the Toronto Friendship School in the barrios of Santiago de Cuba. We also helped develop the Ingles Para Ti English Instruction workbook, to best reflect the Cuba's special cultural, social, economic and political reality. [LINK]

In 2013, I retired from active teaching. But I still keep in touch with my Cuban teacher colleagues and their families in Santiago de Cuba. 

Like me, most of them are retired now too. Most visits, I invite them out to the resort for a bit. Or spend time in town. Hanging out, making the rounds, sharing memories. Creating new ones. 

But this visit, something had definitely changed. The cruise ships and flights from the US had stopped. So too, the money and jobs. The chronic shortages of anything and everything were back, much like during the Special Period. 

I'd planned to write my Santiago de Cuba 2020 travel blog after Janet and I flew home on March 10th. But a day later, the WHO declared the worldwide pandemic. As our own "State of Emergency" grew, my Santiago de Cuba 2020 travel blog got delayed; again and again and again.

Since then, we've kept touch with our Cuban friends through Facebook and the social media. The crisis has only gotten a lot worse.

All flights to the island are now cancelled indefinitely to stop the Covid-19 spread. Cuba's had to shut down tourism; it's main source of income, as the island leans full tilt into battling the virus. 

Santiago de Cuba 2020 covers our trip to the Brisas Sierra Mar Resort, and our stay at the Melia Santiago de Cuba Hotel. 

I'll include a first hand account on the effects of the US economic embargo before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Surely tightening the economic embargo now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, is unjust! Pure evil! Quite unnecessary too! Please consider the horrible impact it'll have upon everyday Cubans, people just like you and me, as they too fight the deadly virus.

Are they about to become an unfortunate footnote to the Covid-19 crisis, should Trump succeeds?

Hopefully Santiago de Cuba 2020 can help put a more human face on the terrible tragedy happening in Cuba today. And help get the word out!

And so, on with our story .....



[1] News Links + Details @ Teacher Free Speech Spring 2020 News and Views [LINK]

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