Cuba, Castro Cuba, Raul Castro discussed on Jim Bohannon


As we thought we would take a visit to a place that doesn't get a lot of visitors or at least it hadn't until the past few years, but increasingly of late more and more of the rest of the world was getting to take a look at just exactly what is down there. They believe this is Cuba. And this is the viewpoint that has put forward by an international journalist and author. David REO stow who has the Saint Martin's press publication, subtitled an American journalist under Castro's shadow, David. Thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you for having me. What made you decide that you would put together such a story about the the Cuba of twenty eighteen. You know, I think any any journalists that gets assigned Havana has has in the back of their mind. They're going to write this great book on Cuba one day. And so when I moved down there. I just kept a notebook kept several notebooks full of these random observations. But the idea that someday I would I would put it together it took about nine years, but but eventually I got to it, and and sort of cobbled together all these notes, and and sort of mishmash to bit of investigative reporting with my own personal memoir and. It sort of hope of creating a bit of a layman's approach to unraveling this enigma country. Was Ernest Hemingway looking over your shoulder. You know, there's a certain romanticism about that. Right. And I can't I can't deny that he and the Graham greens, and the others who kind of went down to Cuba with these rose tinted lenses about what the what the island is what the island could be informed. Some of the writing, you know, I think that's a big part of what is to Americans, and it is to the world this sense of this romance wrapped up in this fishermen in the seat type of mentality and cube is that in many ways, there's a lot more to it sort of an under belly that I hope to to expose a bit. All right. Let's look at the other side of the stereotype the the nineteen fifty line time capsule. The the sixty year time warp when everybody drives around from an ancient era. And and this sort of thing is that still true in twenty eighteen post Castro and post embargo. Whether it is in terms of. Cars sixty thousand they'd call. Classic cars are still rumbling across the island sort of the largest collection of these old behemoths anywhere in the world. Of course, that's the outside of the cars, and the inside you have you have Russian engines and Chinese spark plugs in cobbling baling wire and really just sort of a hodgepodge of things that there are anything, but the classic Ford and Chevy in kind of a microcosm in some ways or a metaphor for the the island itself in the near of of this sort of old mentality, you know, sort of the godfather to ask romance. And and you know, pre Fidel Castro Batista days of this sin city is that the sort of Las Vegas bordello in the Caribbean. And but on the inside we've seen obviously a lot has changed since then. But you know, these cars, you know, they still they still rumble. Cross the island. I mean, people I will say this the Cubans are among the most industrious people that I've ever encountered general stereotype, and would they be able to do to make these cars run? This is sort of how they've managed to survival years. They just sort of find a way to make it work. I was gonna say this country. There's a phrase that you will hear on occasion. Your car is totaled can't get parts. Well, obviously, obviously, the the whole population of automobile drivers in Cuba. Haven't had their vehicles totaled. So I'm having to assume that you quote can't get parts that they must be involved in makeshift parts. Yeah. You know, when I if you write a taxi down in Cuba, whenever you walk out of the car. I think Americans particularly New Yorkers have a tendency of just sorta slamming the door shut. And that is just the last thing any Cuban cabdriver wants 'cause they have to protect the vehicle's, and they have gotten parts, you know, you might smuggling parts from south Florida from Spain. In those little blue plastic wraps, and that that kind of meant to ward off sticky fingers of Cuban customs agents, but by and large these are these are ripped up and redone automobiles that that sort of cobbled together parts of many different many different vehicles. You might find olfactory carburetor within excuse me old farm Carberry of a tractor within. Nineteen fifty seven Plymouth, and the thing would work for maybe a couple of weeks, and then breakdown, and they'll just find something else to to to fill the gap. And it's kind of kind of the stereotype, I mean, if you own a car in Cuba, sort of a rite of passage is to be seen pushing the car along on the side of the street has it broken down. Just kind of what happens down there. What about the availability of and the price of gasoline and motor oil transmission fluid. This sort of thing. Actually, it's a it's a very good question. It's not all that dissimilar from what you might find out elsewhere in southern United States the gasoline in the divorce, particularly that that Cuba gets has for many years in subsidized by the Venezuelan. They sort of have this to and fro relationship in which Venezuela offers, Cuba, subsidize energy in exchange for doctors, medical services, and even security services. Which in some ways has propped up the Madeira administration there. So even as that country and Benadryl teeters on the brink of collapse and almost becoming a failed state. They still have managed to subsidize oil that they send to Cuba, albeit it has reduced years, but it sort of gives you a sense of that symbiotic relationship between the two countries. And then of course, we come to another stereotype the political stereotype. Pictures of Fidel everywhere billboards of Fidel speeches by Fidel, three four five hour speeches on the only TV and radio outlets available. Most of us would at this point say, well that stereotype can't still be truly he's gone and Nali is he gone, but brother, Raoul is gone, you're in the post Castro era, and yet there's still a communist government. So at this point. We realized that our stereotype probably isn't correct. But we're not really sure what is correct. Right. Well, you go down there and you'll still see you won't see advertisements like you see in states and many other countries. What you real see is a lot of billboards declaring the triumph of the revolution. And and murals of Che Guevara Kamera Fidel role, you know, these these sort of bearded revolutionaries and that sort of harken back to the glory of the Commons passed fifty nine revolution. Fidel had this penchant for being sort of this bombastic leader, whereas Raul was this sort of tactician at a little bit more a bit of a pragmatist, and so many historians sort of liking these two is the kind of like the perfect Ying and Yang dictatorship in which one person has sort of had grandiose larger than life personality on the others being role would would manage behind the scenes now while role is technically gone and handed over the presidency to fifty six year old technical. By the name of DS canal. He still is actually technically head of the communist party. You're not going to relinquish that until twenty twenty. And so, you know, while the day to day operations of the country still are being governed by the canal, the bigger questions about the direction of country, the move towards increased power the legislature and other big big questions that are there sort of looming in this post Castro era are still being overseen by rebel Castro. So while we're technically post racial presidency or not quite in a post Castro Cuba yet. That's that's really the big question today will Castro has died when Raul Castro dies. That's the real question. Are we gonna see this jockeying for power like we saw with the Soviet Union where the old oligarchs gave to the rise of Putin? Or are we going to see a move towards more empowered legislature, which there are signs on? So is there ever? The indication that you would see in Cuba after North Korea. The second hereditary communist monarchy was there ever in the end. Because after all you went from one Castro to another are there are there young Castro's around. They're like we used to talk about young Kennedy's in this country. In fact, I opened my book when I inadvertently had drinks with with rebel Castro's. Only son Alejandro Castro Castro Speen, and I had a sort of a long night drinking on inadvertently with with Alejandro it'll bar but only hundreds head of the head. But he's you overseas, basic counter, espionage and surveillance within the interior ministry and the armed forces. And he's growing in power when I met him. He wasn't the the figure that he is now, but he was since that role side when when he negotiated or student when he was in Panama shaking, President Obama's hand he negotiated with Ben Rhodes and in Geneva in Canada for that's related to the dictator, and many people think that he is still a guy that's kind of behind the scenes, it's will rule Cuba, at least in part from sort of. In the shadows. There. I think from Rowell's perspective, it was just too untenable to have the Kim type of dynasty that you you saw in in Korean so with deeds canal officially in the presidency. I would think that Alejandro has quite a bit of power behind pulling behind the scenes, although the levers of power are capricious, and sort of shrouded in secrecy in Cuba. But he's a man that I would keep your eye on interesting, and we will keep an eye on much here that we're talking about inasmuch as this is Cuba. And there it is ninety miles off our southern coast for the last better than half a century. A thorn in the side of this country before that a playground for mafia. Also, a variety of things that that Cuba was and as for what Cuba is and what Cuba will be. We'll pick the brain Sabur when we come back. About our guest, David Ariosto, again, he is an international journalist. He's worked for CNN NPR, Al Jazeera, America. Reuters and National Geographic and is now the executive producer of Jeeves zero media at the Eurasia group. He's written. This is Cuba published by St. Martin's press, subtitled an American journalist under Castro's shadow one eight six six five zero JIMBO back in a moment. What do you want to spot that burglar when he's casing your home? Or after he's in asked John who's blink camera alerted ham. 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