12/20/13 - ABC News - In Cuba, Clock Ticking Just a Bit Faster for Some
In Cuba, time is in the eye of the beholder.
For many islanders, the days still pass slowly under an enervating sun.
After a half century of Communism, they see time frozen in the facades of
crumbling colonial mansions, the chrome of 1950s automobiles and the face
of a stopped airport clock. They feel little sense of urgency.
Others say the pace of life has quickened considerably in the three years
since President Raul Castro admonished Cubans to embrace economic reforms
"without haste, but without pause." Suddenly, automobile traffic is picking
up in Havana. There are appointments to be kept, private businesses to tend
and deals to be made in a rush to get ahead.
"I feel like this year has gone by faster than ever. We're living in
accelerated times," said Antonio Hernandez, a 57-year-old maintenance
worker. "You wake up one morning ... and next thing you know we're already
The feeling of hastening time harkens back to another era. The years
following the 1959 revolution marked a period of upheaval as Fidel Castro
and his band of armed rebels ousted strongman Fulgencio Batista and put a
quick end to his brand of freewheeling capitalism.
In short order, Castro nationalized private businesses. The new Communist
government mobilized teachers across the nation to teach the poor and soon
declared illiteracy had been eradicated. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion
was followed by the U.S. economic embargo and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cubans were guaranteed cradle-to-grave housing, food, health care and
government jobs, regardless of performance. There were times of boom and
bust, national dreams of outsized sugar harvests, military adventures in
Africa and an embrace of all things Soviet, until the Eastern bloc
imploded. Then for decades, life seemed to slow to a crawl. Complacency set
in. Productivity waned. Time became static. The results were sometimes
Cubans spent years on waiting lists for cars and homes, or stood in lines
for hours to purchase food and household goods - sometimes without even
knowing what was on offer or if there would be any left when they got to
the front. Rain was reason enough to delay going to work in this tropical
Some found the pace liberating. There was no need to drive fast, because
they weren't really expected to arrive on time. There was no pressure to
answer email, because few had access to Internet. And nobody would suggest
a Sunday afternoon playing dominos with friends was a waste of time,
because it was a habit 40 years in the making.
Time stood still in politics, too. In other countries, a change in
government often delineates an era. The Reagan administration; England
under Thatcher; Obama's America. In Cuba, for nearly 50 years it was Fidel
Castro and the Communist Party with no prospects for change.
Likewise in foreign relations. While the U.S. government normalized
relations with China, Vietnam and Russia, Havana and Washington remained in
a lockstep of hostility.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
CUBA-L FAIR USE NOTICE
This server contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of Cuba's political, economic, human rights, international, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and historical issues, among others. We distribute the materials on the basis of a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. The material is distributed without profit. The material should be used for information, research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ uscode/17/107.shtml.