I recently went to Cuba and had a holiday that I won’t quickly forget – largely because it challenged some of my preconceptions. I guess I expected some sort of yoke of tyranny – but Fidel Castro appears to genuinely have stepped down while Raul Castro appears to be slowly trying to modernise the country. People are now able to start up private enterprises and you can see the pride that they have in their endeavours. We discovered a small restaurant – essentially the front room of a house – where the family had recently set up their own business.
They were absolutely shocked when we walked in – I think it was probably the biggest group they had catered for. The father had handed us the card for the restaurant in the street and the son ran the restaurant and did some rather good magic tricks at the end of the meal. The food was good, the atmosphere brilliant and the father and granddaughter walked us back to our hotel afterwards to be sure we got there safely. Of course there was the obligatory band in the doorway, playing ‘Guantanamera’ but somehow that added to the charm.
We take our private enterprise rights for granted – it is chastening to see how important it is to those who previously haven’t had that freedom.