I'm pleased for the Cubans that their isolation appears to be coming to an end. Having visited last month, I have seen for myself the effects of both the embargo and their self-imposed exile from most of the rest of the world. But it is a beautiful country, with willing people who are proud, justifiably so, of what they have achieved in spite of such a lengthy quarantine. I hope their transition to the 21st century goes smoothly, but I worry that they risk losing much of value in the process. This poem, written while I was still in Cuba in February, tries to express a little of my concern, recognise what the revolution achieved, yet acknowledge the existing problems their poverty in a modern world has caused.
|Portrait of Che Guevara on the side of the Interior Ministry building in Havana|
Hasta la victoria, siempre (A Love Song to Cuba)
¿Vas bien, Cuba?
Homes for all, beggars included
(even the street artist, tourist photo opportunity,
is a government employee)
Children birthed, jabbed, educated at state expense
(yet want an easy life, Coke and Nikes,
Land now loaned, no lien, just dues
(you sell the obligatory 90% back,
keep the other 20% for your own)
Cigars still drawn from hand-picked leaves
(the double-bent men octagenarians,
no up-and-coming successors)
Vitamin R permeates
(a joke? Rum is cheaper
than clean water)
Is this the victory Che wanted?
And if it's still socialismo o muerte,
The Americans are coming.
© Nikki Fine