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Peter Ladner’s impressions of Cuba: great health, services, crippled economy

May 8th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Our two-term councillor and recent mayoral candidate went to Cuba for the 50th anniversary of La Revolucion — a return trip after a visit in 1970, where Peter Ladner had the dubious pleasure of staying in the same hotel as FLQ refugees, if I’m recalling the story he told me correctly.

Always great to get postcards from abroad, so here is his blog post today and his impressions from his trip last week. Maybe we could get a matching set by having Tim Louis’s take on today’s Cuba — or Gregor Robertson with a few Twitter posts about life and the environmental movement in Dubai.

Categories: City Hall Talk

  • Darcy McGee

    I always knew he was a lefty 🙂 I used to call him Pedro Lander.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    He defintely didn’t exhale.

  • glissando remmy

    Lately, I was bored to death with the chosen topics for discussion, as if I don’t have to deal with them day in, day out.
    Hello to our man in Havana! I am an avid scholar when it comes to Cuba; I know its people, history and geography, social and political currents! And despite what everyone else may be thinking, I love Cuba and the Cubans (the ladies and the Cohibas mostly)

    Too bad they are so close to the United Swindlers of America!

    I leave you with some food for thought.

    “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.”
    Fidel Castro
    “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” , Ernest “Papa” Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
    “I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened. “
    Fidel Castro
    “. . . While the story was emerging I set about curing a little of my ignorance. I made Cuban friends, I took a car and traveled with a driver around the country. He was a superstitious man and my education began on the first day, when he ran over and killed a chicken. It was then he initiated me into the symbols of the lottery — we had killed a chicken, we must buy such and such a number. This was the substitute for hope in hopeless Cuba.” Graham Green, author of “Our Man in Havana”
    “The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people in general see this.” Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
    “Others go to bed with their mistresses; I with my ideas” Jose Marti, Cuban writer
    “I would not vote for the mayor. It’s not just because he didn’t invite me to dinner, but because on my way into town from the airport there were such enormous potholes.”
    Fidel Castro
    “Men are like the stars; some generate their own light while others reflect the brilliance they receive” Jose Marti, Cuban writer
    “I want the people of the United States and Cuba to share more than a love of baseball and wonderful music. I want us to be friends, and to respect each other… Cuba can trade with more than 100 countries, and buy medicines, for example, more cheaply in Mexico than in the United States. But the embargo freezes the existing impasse, induces anger and resentment, restricts the freedoms of U.S. citizens, and makes it difficult for us to exchange ideas and respect… Second, I hope that Cuba and the United States can resolve the 40-year-old property disputes with some creativity. In many cases, we are debating ancient claims about decrepit sugar mills, an antique telephone company, and many other obsolete holdings. Most U.S. companies have already absorbed the losses, but some others WANT TO BE PAID… Jimmy “the Liar” Carter, former US president, 2002
    “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”
    Fidel Castro
    “May the Lord continue to bestow his abundant gifts of peace and enthusiasm upon all the young sons and daughters of the beloved Cuban nation. This is the Pope’s great hope and desire for you. I cordially bless you all.”
    Ioannes Pauluis PP. II Camagüey, 23 January 1998
    “The Cubans live in Havana and that keeps US busy.” Glissando Remmy, Observant Traveller

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Denis

    I have never met anyone who spent time in Cuba who had anything but good words to say about the country. My better half was there a couple of years ago. She and the rest of the group took down school supplies , toured a few schools and were impressed with the kids, the schools and the results. Many in the group are or were teachers. Even with the US shutting off suplies of most everything, Castro has raised the country education levels to great heights. The medical system is very good. Music is everywhere. Best cigars around. You should try one or two Francis. The baseball players are top rate. Women visitors feel safe on the streets. What’s not to like?

    Given a solid supply of needed imports that small country can and will soar. The US really want to go back to plundering the place for a quick buck.
    But the story is really about the failed candiate Ladner, who so badly wants to keep his name in view. What next Ladner? Maybe a contestant in some survival TV program. Give it and us a rest and fade away

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Well then Denis, you must live in some sort of left-wingnut bubble…

    What kind of schools did you think your better half would be shown? Only a dimwit would think that Castro, and his band of murderous thugs would show the real Cuba: One of oppression, censorship, sexism, racism and murder.

    Oh, boo-hoo that the U.S. shut off supplies to such an insane man. You don’ t talk about the aid that goes in there, directed by the U.S. through international efforts, that gets funneled right into Fidel and Raul’s accounts either as resale or in direct Yankee bucks.

    As recently as 2007, Castro had a well-known (gay) dissident shot to death, because he was railing against the wide-spread child poverty, that for that year, had spurred a spike in the influenza rate. As one of their “dailies” reported Castro as saying, “The man was a ‘fag’, where is the loss?”(translated from the Spanish). And the people of Cuba said nothing…

    In Castro’s gulag, 11 million people live under the poverty line. They ration a bag of rice, for a family of four, over a ten day period and you’re writing horse manure about baseball and cigars?

    Tens of thousands have died before Castro’s famous firing squads and women are treated like dirt.

    You need your head examined if you think anyone who has been there and seen the real Cuba believes a word of your doctrinaire propaganda (read: bullshit).

    And let me, as a 25 year cigar smoker, tell you how out to lunch you are on the issue of ‘the best’ cigars in the world: The best cigars over the last seven years, bar none, have come from the Dominican Republic. Cuba has had uneven growing seasons due to soil issues and greater pressure on the industry by the govt you mindlessly laud.

    Cuba is a nightmare and they would be infinitely better off to have the U.S. occupy the island and better the lives of millions than Castro continually murdering dissidents and homosexuals; turn a blind eye to rape and abuse of women and children; foster an environment which breeds poverty and generally facilitate oppression throughout Cuba, except where Peter and your other half went to observe only the permitted observables.

  • Kevin Colas

    When was the last time you went to Cuba. Now visas are available. Try! Even if you’re probably right on the volatility of tobacco harvests in Cuba, and the situation of minorities, the situation of Cuba in partly due to the embargo preventing US companies to trade with Cuba since 1958; and I don’t think that 96% of the population lives under poverty line, an higher rate than Zambia and Haiti, Chad, Liberia and the Gaza Strip…