Increasing poverty rates. Limited access to resources. Inadequate public services. These are the effects of the Cuba Embargo, in which I have experienced on my trip to Cuba. What I have seen is incomprehensible, compared to my lifestyle in Canada, andI realized how privileged I am to have what many would dream of.
I remember looking through brochures that showed a beautiful country with beautiful beaches and exotic resorts. But, I also remember going there seeing people trying to find scraps of food, begging for money and barely getting through life. The population’s living standards are very low; most people live in small run down houses with broken windows, old furniture and little access to freshwater and reliable electricity.
Before I went to Cuba, I knew nothing about the Cuba Embargo, let alone the country itself. It came to my attention when I arrived at the Varadero Airport. Glancing at the arrivals screen, I expected to see many flights from American cities from Miami or New York. But I saw none. Most of the airplanes that arrived were from Canada, Europe and South America. Although it striked some curiosity out of me, it did not really matter until it was brought to my attention by my tour guide; that the United States started an embargo on Cuba 50 years ago.
I heard many stories told by Cubans telling about how they try to survive one day at a time. Many make it through by the bare minimum. Some having to sacrifice one thing for another. For example, having to starve for one day in order to purchase fresh water. Cuba’s economy is largely a planned economy overseen by the Cuban government. Most of the population works for the state while some jobs such as shop owners and taxi cab drivers are not controlled.
When I think about the economy of Cuba, I immediately refer back to the conversation I had with a local named Ernesto. Ernesto is a bank analyst who earns $13 Cuban Pesos a month, just 2 Peso’s higher than the minimum wage. 13 Cuban Peso’s converts to only 53 Canadian cents. Think about it, what can you buy with 53 cents? Probably printing a 2 page essay at the school library. You cannot buy anything with that type of money in Canada, but somehow Ernesto makes it work. Ernesto relies on coupons provided by the government to buy basic needs such as rice and beans. Since housing is a problem, Ernesto lives with his wife in her parent’s garage. They cannot afford to purchase luxuries such as shampoo or cooking oil since they are all in American dollars, let alone raising a family.
This is what the Cuba Embargo is doing to the country. Although many Cubans want to lift the embargo, if they raise their concerns, they will automatically be executed. One of the problems of the Cuba Embargo is that the United States expects Cuba to end it’s communist regime and adopt democratic ideologies. Although the United States wants an end to the Communist Regime, it has somewhat worked for the country. Without Castro’s leadership, Cuba would...