Only 90 miles away and yet worlds apart, Cuba is a fascinating mix of people, politics and yes…libraries! For almost sixty years, the U.S. and Cuba have been separated on the political and economic spectrum, but current events have begun to ease relations and open doors. I recently returned from a week in Cuba with the American Library Association’s first official trip, which included thirty librarians from all over the U.S. (two of us from NY/Westchester). It was an amazing trip, educational and fun, professional and enlightening. I hope to convey some sense of Cuba through a number of blog posts that will focus on different aspects of our journey. And of course, there will be pictures!
When we think politically of Cuba, we recall the 1959 revolution of Fidel Castro (now age 89) and Che Guevara; the April 1961 Bay of Pigs/Playa de Girón invasion; the Missile Crisis of October 1962 with Kennedy and Khrushchev; and the (coming to an end?) U.S. Embargo. Culturally, we remember the movie stars and the Mafia in the Havana of the 1940s and 50s, and Cuban-born singer Celia Cruz (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003), the son cubano, the rumba, and Afro-Cuban jazz, and famous Cuban cigars. And oh yes, the food and mojitos: the Cubano sandwich, arroz con pollo, daiquiris, and Cuban rum! While these are symbolic of Cuba, they are only one aspect of Cuba today, and are part of the mix that makes Cuba amazing, frustrating, fun…and complicated.