Most experts in the field of international studies will tell you that there isn’t one Cuba, there are three. The ruling class make up one, albeit very small, Cuba. Foreign diplomats and tourists inhabit another, and the last is occupied by the largest group, those Cubans who live on the edge, surviving day-to-day. Forced to take what the government will give them, which is almost nothing. Forced to work where the government tells them, no matter how dangerous or mind-numbing. Forced to live in squalor, crammed together with 2 or three generations of family members in houses barely able to support one.
Many would argue that this is the true Cuba because the vast majority of Cubans are in this group. They have a joke that they say to ease some of their pain with humor. “The only thing a Cuban has to worry about when they get up each morning is lunch and dinner.” This is very dark humor indeed, and for most it is something that brings a pained chuckle.
The Cubans who live in this Cuba gets paid with the national currency, do not work for a foreign company, and have no family in the United States or another country that send them money. They live day-to-day, making the best out of what they have, which is the least. While tourists and diplomats enjoy the many amenities that beautiful Cuba has to offer they are struggling to survive and feed their families.
Many of them work illegally at night, finding whatever work they can to make a meager extra income and scrape by. It’s risky, because the Cubans from this Cuba may not participate in any type of exchange of services for money. They do what they need to do, however risky, because to not do these things would mean that their family would suffer even more.
This is the real Cuba, and the Cuba that needs to be shown to the world. As the US keeps up their 40+ year embargo the Cubans from this Cuba wonder when the day will come that they can prosper and join the ‘other’ Cubas. That day, however, still seems very distant.