The minute you step out of the airport, the first thing you see
are palm trees, blocking your line of sight. The second thing you see are the extremely vintage cars, like the taxi Lada’s that wait for you to come out of the airport. But it’s not just one old Lada, it’s hundreds of them. It won’t take long to realize that this country is stuck in the past. The last thing you see is the poverty that surrounds the people of Cuba.
So why are all Cubans forced to own cars that barely make two kilometres per litre? The government has been polluting both the Cuban’s air and the Cuban’s mind, and they aren’t the only ones who do so. Countries like Venezuela, Syria and Iran have all followed the same game plan as the Cubans. You may think that old cars have nothing to do with a dictatorial style of government, but you’re wrong. There are two reasons for the existence of these terrible cars. One being that if you give the people
something nice, they will inevitably want even more, and as that want grows, so will the urge for a revolution. As George Orwell put it best in ‘1984’, “The people must only have enough to barely survive because then they have no time to focus on wanting to revolt, but rather have to focus on surviving.” The second reason is that it eliminates the middle class, which is the foundation on which democracy thrives on. If the middle class is oppressed enough, and perhaps even non existent, there is no other population that can overthrow the current government.
As I was sitting on a bench outside the hotel reception, I saw a taxi drive in, dropping off one of the hotel visitors who had taken a trip down to the town of Varadero. As I sat and watched the car puff out its CO2 gas, it is not the emissions of the car that really speaks for Cuba, but the owner of that car. Given that car a couple decades ago, as a car of the state, the owner feels like he has to get the cars worth. Which results in 30 years worth of use. Furthermore, since cars from the 1960s are so prominent, it is very easy for them to find pieces required to fix the car. Stuck in a endless loop the ancient, used, rusted cars represent the oppressed Cuban society.
It is not the type of cars that the Cubans use that is the real issue, but it is the symbol that the cars represent. That of and old run-down society. Just like the cars. Since Cuba and Russia have close ties to each other, with over 56 thousand Russians coming to Cuba every year, you’d think Mr Putin has a say on a little something down here. After all most of the cars found in Cuba are of Russian engineering.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the government’s control over the people goes. As you lay on the beach, two Cuban soldiers patrol the beach and you can already see the corruption that runs through any communist country. It all counts on how many people you can bribe, and how many high powered authorities you know. We’ve seen the collapse of the USSR, which was the largest communist empire that ever existed. And we know that there is no way communism can ever be the way Karl Marx wanted it to be. So why do we let countries like this exist? Cuba was initially influenced by the Russians to turn itself into a communist society, which inevitably leads to dictatorship, so maybe with the co-operation of Russia may it be possible for the global communities to have a say in countries like Cuba. But after what happened in Crimea, that may take a little longer to happen.
Sure it’s easy for me to look out the window and see what I see and say that we should do something to change the way this country is ran, but it seems like steps are already being taken by the government to open up the country of Cuba, it is inevitable that one day it will see the day of democracy and capitalism. As Cubans are now able to own and sell their cars and homes, perhaps the next step may be to upgrade all those Ladas to Hondas. Perhaps the out dated cars themselves represent the out dated style of government and as the government changes so will the cars. For now though, the Lada seems like the only car around.