Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean Sea and it lies at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. The Island of Cuba is known for its very diverse culture and beautiful beaches. Although Cuba has a very tropical climate, which makes it very hot most of the time, it would benefit anyone to wander down the Cuban streets and visit its many tourist attractions. Cuba has slowly found out who it is. It has evolved as a country to be self-sufficient and has developed its government.
Around the 1950s Cuba’s leader was a very unpopular dictator by the name of Fulgencio Batista. He was so unpopular that, “A resistance movement led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara gained increasing support and power”(Kamrowski). About 9 years later, Fidel Castro came into power and did a lot to help Cuba out of the past adversity.
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During the time of Castro’s regime, he killed or imprisoned many political opponents, which caused tensions to develop with the United States. Since Cuba was on the side of the Soviet Union, they depended on them for protection and also help. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Cuba faced many hardships but these hardships helped Cuba become more independent. From then on, Cuba has continued its advancement as a country.
In the last five years, Cuba has attained many human rights achievements. One of these achievements happened,“On December 17, 2014, [when] Presidents of Cuba and the United States, Raul Castro and Barack Obama respectively, announced that they would work together to reestablish diplomatic relations”(Gómez).
Later In 2017, Donald Trump decided to change the policy that Barack Obama made with Cuba.
“...Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said...‘The Trump Administration recognizes the threat Cuba’s government poses in the region, and the Commerce Department is acting to limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime. Holding other countries accountable remains a focus for this Administration and we will remain vigilant’”(“Commerce and Treasury Departments Implement Changes to Cuba Sanctions Rules”).
In short, Donald Trump has made a series of amendments, which were announced on April 17, 2019. These amendments will, “Continue to work to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services”(“Commerce and Treasury Departments Implement Changes to Cuba Sanctions Rules”).
Cuba is considered a socialist state, which means that it is, “...[Transitioning] between capitalism and communism and [is] distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done”(“Socialism”). The government of Cuba has 3 branches:the National Assembly of People’s Power, the Council of State, and the People’s Supreme Court.
The first branch, the National Assembly of People’s Power, conforms to the supreme government (it’s similar to our legislative branch). The second branch, the Council of State, includes the President, Vice President, and the Secretary (this branch is similar to our executive branch). The last branch of Cuba’s government, the People’s Supreme Court, “...[Organizes]...the State Council, criminal, civil, administrative, labor, crimes against the state, and military courts”(“The World Factbook: Cuba”) (the People’s Supreme Court is comparable to our judicial branch).
As of 2018, the President of Cuba will be the head of the National Assembly and the Council of State. Another change made to the government of Cuba in 2018 was, “The president...will be limited to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms”(Whitefield).
United Nations Affairs
Cuba has been involved in multiple United Nations affairs in the last few years. They have been trying to work out the many crises that have been transpiring and have been bringing it up at United Nations assembles. One thing brought up by the United Nations on April 21, 2017, was the need for new laws and stronger litigations against human trafficking in Cuba.
UN Special Rapporteur Maria Grazia Giammarinaro reported that, “‘Although cases of trafficking in the country may appear to be limited, the number of criminal prosecutions and victims assisted is still too modest, and shows that a proactive approach to detection of the problem is needed’”(“Cuba Needs New Laws and Stronger Action Targeting Human Trafficking – UN Rights Expert”).
Another topic that involved Cuba and the United Nations was the situation of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Cuba. Around April 7, 2003, there was a, “...Wave of arrests in which at least 24 journalists and as many as 78 human rights activists [had] been jailed”(“UN Fears Press Freedom Violations Following Arrests, Trial of Cuban Journalists”).
The United Nations felt they needed to address the problem with Cuba, urging that, “‘...Cuban authorities...[respect the] fundamental rights of journalists and other individuals arrested for speaking their mind’”(“UN Fears Press Freedom Violations Following Arrests, Trial of Cuban Journalists”). One other composition brought up by the United Nations was the embargo that the United States placed on Cuba that was still being enforced to that day.
The United Nations, “Called upon States ‘that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible’”(“UN General Assembly Renews Long-Standing Call for End to US Embargo against Cuba”). The reason for this call to action was what Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla had to say about the embargo. Bruno Rodriguez Parilla presented that “‘Incalculable human damage [had] been caused by the blockade, which is qualified as an act of genocide’”(“UN General Assembly Renews Long-Standing Call for End to US Embargo against Cuba”).
Cuba has a wide variety of geographical features, like beaches, mountains, forests, rivers, plains, and natural harbors. “It has more than six thousand kilometers of coasts, with more than 600 beaches”(“Geography of Cuba”). There are also three main massifs, which include “...Cordillera de Guaniguanico in the west, the Macizo de Guamuhaya in the center and the Sierra Maestra in the east”(“Geography of Cuba”).
The rivers that reside in Cuba are short and generally have little flow, the main ones are Cauto, Zaza and Sagua la Grande. Additionally, Cuba has an abundance of natural harbors including Havana, Cárdenas, Matanzas, Nuevitas, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, and Guantanamo, which is one of the most famous.
In general, “Plains occupy 60 percent of the country's area...25 percent of the territory is forests, mainly mangroves; 23 percent of the area has some degree of protection of its nature, highlighting its 14 national parks”(“Geography of Cuba”). The tropical climate of Cuba and its geography influences what type of weather occurs and what can be grown there. Two types of seasons that occur in Cuba and they are the rainy season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April). This type of weather allows Cuba to grow sugarcane, and diverse crops and livestock.
Cuba has a very unique and diverse culture that is, “...Influenced heavily by Latin American, European, African, and indigenous American cultures”(Sen Nag). Most of the population in Cuba is either African or Spanish, but other ethnicities live there as well. After the Cuban Revolution, which started in 1953 and ended in 1959, women in Cuban society were started to be treated as men’s equals.
There were, “...Several laws like the 1974 maternity law and the 1975 ‘Family Code’ [, which] were passed by the Cuban government to allow women to achieve equality with men in all respects”(Sen Nag). Since the country of Cuba values socialism, the people dissuade others from selfishness and individualism.
Later on in Cuba’s history, around 1992, “...An amendment was made to the country’s constitution that allowed complete religious freedom in the country. Currently, about 60% of the Cuban population is affiliated to Catholicism”(Sen Nag). Along with the practice of Catholicism, many Cubans also practice Santería, which is a mixture of African traditions and Christianity.
Santería was brought by African slaves to Cuba by Europeans who wanted the Africans to work on plantations. These African slaves, “...Were often associated with witchcraft and magic and discriminated by the other religious groups in Cuba”(Sen Nag). Today, most of the black population of Cuba still practice Santería, so, “...Racist attitudes still exist around the religion”(Sen Nag).
Some holidays/festivals that are celebrated in Cuba are Christian festivals since it is the most dominant religion in Cuba, the Cuban Revolution holiday on January 1 and July 26, the Communist holiday of May Day, and another important holiday is Cuba’s revolt against Spain, which is celebrated on October 10.
At the height of Cuban culture is music and dance. Cuban music was heavily influenced by the large Spanish and African populations. “Some traditional music styles include mambo, cha-cha-cha, charanga, danzon, rumba, and a few others”(Sen Nag). Along with the Cuban’s love for music, there is a love for dance as well. Some popular forms of dance in Cuba are salsa and ballet.
The people of Cuba usually wear cool and relaxed clothing most of the time, but when there is also traditional clothing that is worn for formal, and sometimes informal, occasions. The most famous traditional clothing is called Guayabera, which is made out of linen or cotton and is usually white with no embroidery. Men will generally wear this type of top with Panama hats and linen pants. There are also Guayabera dresses that are popular among women in Cuba. women might also wear a Rumba dress, which is very frilly, along with an African head wrap.
Like most of Cuba’s traditions, the cuisine was influenced by many different cultures, like Spanish, African, Caribbean, and all little Chinese. Most of the dishes included rice and beans-when rice is cooked with black beans it is called arroz congri-and for the non-vegetarian dishes, chicken, beef, and pork are used. As of today, “...Due to the poor economic conditions prevalent in Cuba, large sections of the country’s population cannot afford lavish meals and often depend on food rations”(Sen Nag).
Hospitality & Tourism
Traveling to Cuba and experiencing Cuban hospitality and tourism is no longer a pleasure because of the embargo that is placed on Cuba. Before the strict embargo, people were able to visit and learn all about Cuba for themselves. There are a number of many tourist destinations, but the most popular are Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Varadero.
Havana is the capital of Cuba and it’s known to be a must-see tourist destination in Cuba. A visit to Havana should definitely include events, “...Such as the famous Havana Carnival, the International Ballet Festival...and the International Festival of New Latin America Cinema”(“HAVANA, CUBA”).
Along with lively festivals, there is also an abundance of hotels and restaurants to visit as well. The next popular tourism site, Viñales, has a variety of activities: horseback riding in Viñales valley, visiting plantations, going to the beach, and visiting the Indios Cave. Another famous tourist destination is Cienfuegos and it’s known for its astonishing Botanical Garden and historic centers. A trip to Cuba wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Trinidad. You can behold fantastical sites such as the Plaza Mayor, Palacio Cantero (Museo Historico Municipal), Topes de Collantes Natural Park, and much more.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was left to fend for themselves. They had a lot of economic problems and to solve this, they opened up their homes to tourists. Cuban people would, “...Offer visitors an authentic taste of Cuba, including a fresh breakfast made in an immaculate 1950’s-era home kitchen and a chance to feel like part of the family”(Harlan). After the strict embargo placed on Cuba, these arrangements will change and relations won’t be the same as they used to be.
Cuba has a very diverse culture and diverse population. It has magnificent beaches, forests, rivers, and harbors that make up the entire island. All of these wonderful descriptions are just the cover of Cuba. Right now Cuba is struggling economically because of the stern embargo that was placed on them by the United States.
The embargo was a way for the United States to say they don’t agree with Cuba’s socialist government. Before the embargo, tourists were able to come to Cuba and visit the many beautiful sites, but now tourists won’t be able to vacation to the largest island in the Caribbean Sea. The main source of revenue for Cuba is tourism, so the economic situation will continue to become worse. With all that is happening today, we don’t know what the future will bring for Cuba.
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