Are you a somebody, a nobody or are you anybody at all or does it really matter and if it does where or how can you express it ? This seems to be the question that is being played out in the
remarkable spontaneous Arab – uprisings presently taking place. People simply want their freedom,dignity and a say, a voice, a” vote” in shaping their destiny and if achieved could turn north africa and the middle east into a “Garden Of Eden “and highly develop it’s culture. They want a “vote”.
We have that in Canada and with a looming possible Federal, Provincial,and municipal election,do we really appreciate this, our very own precious “vote”?
Recently we were invited by Princeton’s New Beginnings members and privileged to take part in their day program in a lively learning discussion on the meaning and importance of the “vote” . Make no mistake , they appreciate their vote and very much like exercising it. We were impressed as to how well informed they were. The whole event in such a cheerful warm atmosphere was delightful.
These happenings bring to mind a recent all inclusive trip to Cuba, a one party communist state. The day we arrived the Egyptian protests started and we did wonder if that was going to happen in Cuba,but it didn’t. We were primarily in a large tourist complex although there was no problem touring the country if you wished. Cuban relations with the U.S. are nil There are no American tourists. Our limited impression of Cuban living standards were given by the employees or those we met. The people are very friendly and warm . There has to be a two generation gap between the young and ruling Castro regime and you can sense the urge for change by the young and it will come. Their salaries are about a dollar a day. Unemployment is high ,people are poor, although millions are being poured into tourism. Basic compulsory education is to grade six. To be a waitress or other venues of work requires an additional two years of schooling regardless of age. You cannot leave the country without being penalized. Housing is to be desired. You do not rent. Medical care is very good and many come from outside Cuba for treatment. We had about 27 T.V. channels in our room. English ,french,italian, russian, 3 chinese ,CTV and others. However the Cuban citizen only has four channels, two sports and two political. There is no internet for the Cuban people. There is a close relationship between Cuba and China as can be seen by their new plush buses , scooters and equipment and yes their quality questionable.
The beaches are beautiful and can be endless and surprising. We ran into a couple of young men who asked if we were coming back if we could bring some clothes for them , later was the first time we ever saw topless women bathers — no big deal — a boobs a boob. Uncovered is discovered as part of the human body with it’s own unique function and also an inspiration to the romantic and those in the world of art.
As pleasant as it is for the tourist in Cuba, it makes you feel uncomfortable that the people are considered a nobody and held down by a small group although they like you so much you cant leave the airport before paying a $25.00 each exit fee.
The Cubans have no voice, no “vote” as to their destiny ,something precious we have and could remind ourselves by visiting Princeton’s Veterans Square.