jeudi 26 février 2015

EL CAVIAR CUBANO THE CUBAN CAVIAR THE HUMBLE BLACK BEANS


I was happy to see the following article written by two nutritionists from the USA.. they were talking about the humble black beans of Cuba.. a bean that appears regularly at the homes of each and every cuban, regardless of their social standing or profession.
It  has a mythical connotation to Cuban Identity.
Unless for some odd medical reason, if I hear a Cuban say he or she does not like Black Beans, I have to wonder what is running through their minds? are they rejecting their cultural identity?



the above is a typical table at a home in Cuba when you are invited for lunch or dinner. Avocados in season, plenty of rice and plenty of BLACK BEANS, meat of the day, usually it would be chicken, more and more meat are beginning to appear, platanos. There would be enough to eat. I would offer you a glass of wine but in general it is difficult to find, but not the Rum! it would be followed by dessert of some sort and then the strong Cuban coffee..
But lately other variations are beginning to appear, recently I had Burrito made of Black Beans paste which was delicious, people are experimenting with Couscous, Quiche and a variety of other cuisines, and Cubans are very good at making various types of desserts!

Burrito with Black Beans Paste at El Burrito Habanero at 23 y H, Vedado, La Habana



Here is the article about Black Beans:

Nutritional breakdown of black beans
Black beans are prized for their high protein and fiber content.
One-half cup of boiled black beans contains approximately 312 calories.

This measure will also contain 8 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 20 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of dietary fiber.
That same half cup serving provides 10% of daily iron needs, 14% of thiamin, 32% of folate, 15% of magnesium, 12% of phosphorus, 9% of potassium, 6% of zinc, 9% of copper and 19% of manganese needs.

Black beans also offer a variety of phytonutrients like saponins, anthocyanins, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which possess antioxidant properties.

Possible health benefits of consuming black beans
Maintaining healthy bones

The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.4

Calcium and phosphorus are important in bone structure, while iron and zinc play crucial roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints. 99% of the body's calcium supply and 80% of its phosphorus stores are contained in bone, which makes it extremely important to get sufficient amounts of these nutrients from the diet.

Lowering blood pressure

Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure. Black beans are naturally low in sodium and contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally. Be sure to drain and rinse canned black beans to reduce sodium content.5

Managing diabetes

Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One cup of cooked black beans contributes 15 grams of fiber.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men.

Warding off heart disease

The black bean's fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrient content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. The fiber in black beans helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulate in the body, it can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

The quercetin and saponins found in black beans also aid in cardioprotection. Quercetin is a natural anti inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.3 Research also indicates that saponins help lower blood lipid and blood cholesterol levels, which prevents damage to the heart and blood vessels.

Preventing cancer

Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables but can be found in black beans. It plays a role in liver enzyme function, and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumor growth rates2

Dietary fiber is commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a "bulking agent" in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety and reduce appetite, making you feel fuller for longer and thereby lowering your overall calorie intake.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like black beans decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.
Saponins prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading throughout the body
Fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables like black beans are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer
Black beans are high in folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.1
Healthy digestion

Because of their fiber content, black beans help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Weight loss and satiety
Dietary fiber is commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a "bulking agent" in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety and reduce appetite, making you feel fuller for longer and thereby lowering your overall calorie intake.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like black beans decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.
References

Cancer: fighting it with what you eat, Nematian, Elika, Nutrition 411, reviewed October 2013, accessed 8 July 2014. Anticancer vitamins and minerals, Machowsky, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS, Jason, Nutrition 411, reviewed February 2014, accessed 8 July 2014. Quercetin, University of Maryland, last reviewed June 2011, accessed 2 January 2014. Bone health: looking beyond calcium, Nutrition 411, last reviewed March 2009, accessed 10 July 2013. Lower blood pressure naturally, Robb, Matthew, Today’s Dietitian, accessed 15 July 2014.
(the above article written by: Megan Ware, RDN, LD, registered dietitian and nutritionist and Helen Yuan, nutrition intern, Medical News Today)

mardi 24 février 2015

DISTORTION OF HEALTH INFORMATION ON INTERNET

HEALTH INFORMATION ON INTERNET DISTORTED BY COMMERCIAL GROUPS


Low Vitamin D Levels Tied To Increased Risk For Type 2 Diabetes.
HealthDay (2/24, Predit) reports that a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a publication of the Endocrine Society, suggests that “people with low levels of vitamin D appear to have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, even if they aren’t overweight or obese.” The 150-patient study could not “tease out, however...whether or not vitamin D played a role in causing diabetes or other disorders that affect the metabolism of glucose.”
        The Endocrinology Advisor (2/24, Foster) reports, “In a scientific statement on the non-skeletal effects of vitamin D, the Endocrine Society notes that research suggests that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese as well as have type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome when compared to” people whose levels of the vitamin are normal. The Daily Mail (UK) (2/24, Davies) also covers the story.
HEALTHDAY is a commercial provider of Health related news, culled from the Internet and watered down and altered to suit the pressures of the commercial world, to buyers who can then distribute it or quote it.
It is presented as if Vitamin D deficiency leads to Diabetes, regardless of your weight.
Obesity is far more common than normal weight in most countries. This study was done in Spain. They dumped together Pre Diabetes which is not a disease but a laboratory paper construction of few abnormal results which are almost always due to Insulin Resistance, which may lead to Type 2 Diabetes. The numbers were very modest, about 15 people in each arm of the study.
I was not impressed with this study. Instead of rushing out to buy Vitamin D tablets , which I am not sure would increase your Vitamin D levels, eat fish and you see your vitamin D levels rise, go out in the sun and exercise a little, your vitamin D levels would rise.
My feeling is that Insulin Resistance and Low Vitamin D levels may both be caused by the similar objects and we have to find what it is, and try to correct it. So we can take care of all these laboratory values and make people feel healthy again.
If doctors tell their patients they are not healthy based on laboratory tests they will not feel that good.
There is growing evidence that changes in microbiome in the gut and their production of inflammatory substances may lead to Obesity and Insulin Resistance. I am inclined to think that there is a connection between this and Hypovitaminosis D. there is emerging evidence that the vitamin D pathway may be important in gut homeostasis and in the signaling between the microbiota and the host.  There is emerging evidence that the vitamin D pathway may be important in gut homeostasis and in the signaling between the microbiota and the host.
Taking Vitamin D tablets are not going to help you prevent Type 2 Diabetes!
( photo above shows a Bedou woman from Sinai. Studies from Israel show that they are deficient in Vitamin D regardless of the fact they live in the desert)

The Vitamin D question has also looked with the cultural context in mind. Most Asians have low Vitamin D levels, Chinese and Japanese more so. Moslem women who cover themselves them head to toe; regardless of whether they are in the Arabian Desert or KL metropolis have lower Vitamin D levels. The vitamin D levels are higher in non-veiled women than veiled women in Middle East and Europe. 
I remember reading an article when I was a Medical Student in London about Punjabi women migrating to Scotland and subsequently suffering from Osteomalacia... lack of sunshine as well as the enriched flour they were using to make their chapatis was leeching the calcium away?

In my opinion, like Cholesterol, vitamin D levels are an indication that something has gone wrong metabolically and just correcting the numbers are not going to bring back the health they have supposed to have lost due to the deficiency of Vitamin D or excess of cholesterol.
Remember, all that bunk about Low Fat is now laid to rest. A few years ago you couldn’t enter a supermarket without seeing thousands of Low Fat items. My advice to my patients living in Indian reservations is: avoid these terms when you see them on a food package
High
Low
Modified
Hydrogenated
Enriched
Natural
In fact most of these words are used to hide some toxic substances or other which may in fact increase
Your cholesterol
Your Insulin Resistance
Your chance of becoming overweight
Your chance of becoming unhealthy….



vendredi 20 février 2015

FRIENDSHIPS IN MIAMI

Who else do you need in Miami, asked my sister, you have me and my husband and also your good friends M and G and all of us like to eat good food. So do your work and eat well and talk well.
There are words in Yiddish which cannot be translated adequately. these words are all lived in experiences. My good friends M and G and I have what we call schmooze sessions. we spend hours with each other talking about a thousand things, and also about things which are close to our heart and which we share an interest in.
The last two schmooze sessions with M and G lasted six and four hours each, always accompanied by good food and good wine. It has become a ritual for me, each time I come to Miami, get together for a schmooze with my friends  M and G.
In 2015, I hope our geographies change a little, I want to show them La Habana before it is overrun by curious Americans, share the beauty of Angkor Wat and acting as their guide! wonderful it would be if L/M can join us too!  I hope to see my sister and her family in Venice and London in July of this year... to return the favour of their hospitality in foreign lands!
Look forward to our next schmooze!
Soyka and Villagio Restaurants
Chinese New Year Celebrations
Boat ride on Biscayne Bay

MULTIPLE NATIONALITIES, DISTINCT IDENTITIES BUT SIMILAR ASPIRATIONS: MULTIINDIVIDUALISM?

MULTIPLE NATIONALITIES, DISTINCT IDENTITIES  BUT SIMILAR ASPIRATIONS

I was at a Shopping Mall near my sister’s house on this sunny but breezy day.

At the Apple Store, a young man (born in USA of Nicaraguan parents), interested in Ecology sold me the iPhone 6. We talked not about the Apple products but about income inequalities in Latin America, Cuba’s role in providing medical care to the poor in Latin America and Nicaraguan Politics. I told him: Emigration is a very personal choice but I feel sad that so many educated professionals especially Doctors leave Nicaragua, Ecuador and other developing countries.
Walking into the L’Occitane store just to savour the perfumes and creams, the young lady inn attendance turned out to be chirpy and very pleasant. She was born in Brooklyn of Dominican parents. We had a nice chat about her dreams and aspirations. She had an innocence about her which was very attractive. She is a credit to the company she works for (she loves her job) and the other hobby cum job in the PR field. Good Luck!
On the way to the café, I saw the T mobile store and went inside to say Thank you for the excellent service provided by T mobile to this traveller. I was talking to an agent, a young man, born in Texas of Colombian parents. We talked about the recent upsurge in tourism to Colombia and reminisced about the beauty of his parental country.
All three of them are Americans, well integrated into the society. All born in the USA spoke English like americans (naturally) but when I broke into Spanish, they replied, without shame, in perfect Spanish with sonorous accents. They were not ashamed of their origins, they knew about the countries of their parents, had spent time there and all the three of them, wanted to return and do something for their countries.
This is in sharp contrast with some of the immigrants to Europe, where such integration is hardly seen and there is a shame about who they are or where they are from.
Perhaps, in the words of Marc Auge, this is the advent of Multiindividualism.
We had something in common but at the same time, we were individualistic. One was interested in Ecology, the other two in bettering the conditions of their parental countries. These young men and woman indeed deserve our respect and not our scorn as “immigrants”. It is such people who made this country, the USA, one of the more livable countries in this planet, where your aspirations are limited only by yourself: not by your school, not by an elite system of education at tertiary level or blockades erected against your colour or parental nationality.
I settled down for a cup of coffee (I missed the cortadito of Cuban cafes and any day give me a Cortadito from a Cuban café, Starbucks  never can compete for my taste!). Without even thinking, I ordered my coffee in Spanish.
The American born young lady had no problem understanding me. Her parents had come here from El Salvador!

Bienvenidos a Miami!

jeudi 12 février 2015

MARC AUGE AND MULTIINDIVIDUALISM AND DIVERSITY: CUBA AND UNITED STATES



Well known French Ethnologist was asked about Identity and this was one of his answers:
Actualmente predominan en la vida social las tendencias provenientes de la defensa del multiculturalismo, posturas que despiertan ciertas sensibilidades sin duda necesarias, pero que también dan lugar a nuevos conflictos. ¿Cómo ve la convivencia entre lo “políticamente correcto” y esas otras costumbres largamente arraigadas?

Creo que hay que llevar a cabo algo más que el multiculturalismo para crear otro tipo de diversidad, lo más importante es el multi-individualismo. Tengo siempre una dificultad cuando me preguntan por mis orígenes, ya que mis abuelos eran de Bretaña, Cataluña y Burdeos; de la misma forma, en Francia 1 de cada 4 personas tiene al menos un abuelo que es de fuera del país. Es decir, personalmente conozco algo de Bretaña, pero no puedo decir que mi cultura adquiera su significación de ahí, mi cultura tampoco es parisina, aunque he vivido siempre en París, también he vivido en África, por lo que también tengo elementos de cultura africana. Lo que quiero decir es que cada individuo tiene experiencias culturales de vida diferentes y no tiene por que ser encerrado en una cultura, incluso una cultura que corresponde a su país natal, aunque está claro que puede reivindicarla si quiere. Pero al nivel de una organización, mi preferencia es que tenemos que tratar con individuos, no con culturas, porque las culturas también pueden ser un instrumento de opresión. Podríamos tener todo un debate sobre las nociones de tolerancia, de relativismo, que son nociones ambiguas, pero ¿qué es la tolerancia? Que yo piense que tú tienes derecho a equivocarte y que esto es recíproco. En realidad, no pienso como tú, pero creo que tengo razón, claro que también puedo equivocarme. Sin embargo, no puedo decir que se puede pensar cualquier cosa y no tengo respeto hacia ciertos aspectos de algunas “culturas”, ya que, por ejemplo, para mí una mujer es exactamente igual que un hombre, a nivel teórico no tengo ningún respeto intelectual por las posiciones que dicen que hombres y mujeres tienen su puesto. Está claro que no voy a hacer la guerra, pero podemos pensar que tenemos que hacer un esfuerzo. En este sentido me siento más cercano al siglo XVIII que al siglo actual. Mañana la moda intelectual puede cambiar y lo importante me parece el individuo. La cultura se puede reivindicar por parte de los individuos, diría mejor “las culturas”, en esa mezcla que hay siempre, pero no hay que partir de la cultura, sino que hay que tomar al individuo como punto de referencia».
Trends in defense of multiculturalism currently dominate social life pose certain sensitivities certainly necessary, but they also give rise to new conflicts. How does the coexistence of "political correctness" and those other long-established customs?

I think we should carry out more than multiculturalism to create another kind of diversity, the most important is the multi-individualism. I always have a difficulty when asked about my origins, because my grandparents were from Brittany, Catalunya  and Bordeaux; in the same way, in France 1 in 4 people having at least one grandparent who was born outside France. That is, I personally know some of Brittany but I can not say that my culture acquires its significance there, my culture is not Paris, but have always lived in Paris, I also lived in Africa, so also I have elements of African culture . What I mean is that each individual has different cultural experiences of life and not have to be locked in a culture, even a culture that corresponds to his native country, although it clearly can claim it if you want. But the level of an organization, my preference is that we have to deal with individuals, not with cultures because cultures can also be an instrument of oppression. We could have a whole debate on the notions of tolerance, relativism, which are ambiguous notions, but what is tolerance? I think you have a right to be wrong and that this is reciprocated. Actually, I do not think like you, but I think I'm right, I can also be clearly wrong. However, I can not say that you can think of anything and have no respect for certain aspects of some "cultures", since, for example, for me a woman is just like a man, theoretically have no intellectual respect for positions that say that men and women have their place. Clearly not going to make war, but we think we have to make an effort. In this sense I feel closer to the eighteenth century than to the present century. Tomorrow intellectual fashion can change and how important we think the individual is. The culture can be claimed by individuals, better to say cultures in the mélange we already have but it must be based on culture, but you have to take the individual as a reference point. "

I have just left Cuba and arrived in Miami. It is an interesting trip, in that in the short distance and the minutes it takes to cover by air travel (39 minutes), one sees clearly and understands what Marc Auge was talking about.
In Cuba, there are three distinct racial groups and a false one (Tainos who do not exist culturally): White, Black and Mulatto.

Everyone  identifies as Cuban and speak the same language, share very similar food and drinks throughout the island. Cubans are mostly secular but if religious they either follow Catholicism or Santeria: one from Europe and the other from Africa, regardless of their racial identification. There are minor Christian denominations introduced by American Missionaries. Religion does not play an important part in the life of an ordinary Cuban. Interestingly enough, the DNA studies show that an average Cuban, if he is white, has chances of having African DNA and vice versa. It is where one can say that DNA does not prove ones culture. The False Tainos of Baracoa and other “Indians” of Cuba may well have Black, White or Indian DNA but that does not prove anything, from a cultural point of view. Like their Puerto Rican and Dominican counterparts, they are mainly mulatto or Black in their culture.  There is a very high amount of mixing of the races in Cuba, much more so since the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Just crossing the brief Straits of Water, one arrives in Miami, where the population is predominantly White Cuban, but here they have another identity they can mark: Hispanic
It is an interesting nomenclature which has no cultural meaning at all. Here is the definition:
The U.S. Department of Transportation defines Hispanic as, "persons ofMexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race."

I can assure you that Cubans who are in Miami are predominantly White, Mexicans who are in Texas or California are predominantly of Indian origin, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans have a fair share of African Blood. Argentines, Chileans are mostly White, Guatemalans, Peruvians and Bolivians are predominantly Indian.
So the term HISPANIC is an insult to the idea of “cross culturalism” or multiculturalism ( a concept which is in the throes of its disappearance), instead of diversity, they want to unite diverse group into an unifying nomenclature.
While doing research for lectures on Identiy, it was interesting to discover this: A Black Cuban is Cuban first and Black second in Cuba but if he migrates to USA, especially to MIAMI ( the USA officials in La Habana advises of potential black Cuban migrants about this and recommend that they go to some place like Nevada!), he is Black first and Cuban second!

USA is a very large country and it is the most diverse country on earth. I am told of one particular street in Queens, where more than 130 languages are spoken. There are language communities large enough to support their own newspapers!

But there is a huge difference between USA and say Europe or Great Britain. In this regard USA resembles closer to Australia or New Zealand than to Britain.
In the USA, you are welcome to join the  Nationality Club. Legally anyone can become American but there is no pressure to do so.
While in France, the diversity is disguised into French and Non French, and recent lessons learned have showed them that this lack of division is probably an insult to the culture of the multitude of races which  inhabit France.
In the UK on the other hand, one can aquire a British Nationality but can never become English, Welsh, northern Irish or Scottish. So we have Black British but never Black English or Black Scottish.  Jacques Derrida would have had a field day deconstructing these nomenclatures behind which we hide our intolerance, racism and phobias.

Marc Auge is futuristic in his vision. Travelling frequently between Cuba and the USA, I see the importance and significance as well as importance placed on  Individualism in the USA and solidarity with the society in Cuba. (solidaridad) with less emphasis on the individual.
What Marc Auge proposes can be accomplished by a combination of both the above, which never happened to the Cuban immigrants to Miami, where they quickly became individualistic and were forced to adopt and construct an universe of anti-cubanism, just for survival or monetary gain.
The future would be something like this, if you have a Spanish surname;
Surname  Spanish origin
Race  White   Black  Asian   ( Cuban White,  Africans from Equatorial Guinea,  Filipinos ) or  Mostly Native Indian (Mexico, Central or South America)
The diversity would be furthered even more, when children of Bosnian Roma immigrants to Argentina begin to migrate to the USA!



If any country has a chance to fulfill the futuristic notion of Multi Individualistic Diversity with loyalty to the country of residence, it would be USA. Australia and NZ also stand a good chance of coming ahead in this race. (no pun intended)
Cuban Faces


an american may look like any of the below

mercredi 11 février 2015

MARCEL MAUSS, THE CONCEPT OF THE GIFT AND THE CURRENT DAY CUBAN SOCIETY

THE GIFT
MARCEL MAUSS AND HIS LESSONS FOR CURRENT DAY CUBA
Marcel Mauss, considered the Father of Modern Ethnology was the nephew of Emile Durkheim, considered the Father of Modern and French Sociology. His book, The Gift, published in 1925 remains one of standard texts in Social Anthropology and the theories have had a long standing impact.
I had been impressed with the idea of his, the archaic forms of exchange and I see that on everyday life of American Indians, despite their Americanization and incorporation into the modern market economy. But their ancient forms of prestations, still direct their lives, incorporating rituals and social connections.
While living in Paris, I noticed the way they give gifts to each other, in an almost elaborate ritualistic fashion and suddenly occurred to me that, as Marcel Mauss had mentioned nearly a hundred years earlier: it is a diluted form of the archaic form of exchange in which the gift giver obligates the recipient to an equal form of reciprocity. Unlike in the archaic societies no status declaration is involved. It is slightly different in the USA where gifts do carry a status, and puts the gift giver in a superior position in relation to the recipient.

From the concept of obligation and social coherence in the archaic societies without a market economy, the concept of Networking in the modern societies may have risen.
With a gift, in the modern societies, the question asked is; what can you do for me?
In archaic societies, the question asked is: What can I do for you?
Here is an example of Solidarity, Archaic Exchange and reciprocacity shown in a Gift, among the INUIT of Alaska.

Cuba is a society which has gone an experiment in Socialism in the past 50 plus years after the triumph of the Revolution led by Jefe Comandante Fidel Castro. It was a classical revolution in the sense of overthrowing an unjust, illegal, oppressive, tyrannical regime by an uprising of the people. Che Guevara, a Doctor turned Revolutionary, had outlined some of the ideas for a future society in his book: Socialism and Man
It is very often heard, in a derogatory sense, that Cubans make only very little as paid out as salaries. It is an individualistic concept in that Cuba takes care of so much for each and every man in the society, does not leave any one out. Why is that no one in Miami ever mentions the fact that Cuba does not have homeless people or people sleeping under bridges? You don’t see children or adolescents wandering around streets during the day because they are in school! (as Fidel explained to Rigoberto Menchu, when she asked the Comandante why there were no children on the streets) And that there is medical attention to everyone and anyone at any time of the day or night, within reach ? The idea is that Cuba tries to make sure that every one is looked after in society, not just certain members of the society ( as Republicans in the USA proclaim in their actions, taking care of just the rich of the society)
The capitalistic, oppressive, manipulative, fraudulent elements of the society who thought more about themselves than the value of the society or the people in general did migrate to Miami (where they continue to commit these crimes. The Economist recently named Miami as the Capital of Fraud in America! Thanks to these Cuban Immigrants and their descendants)
While the loss of a class of skilled people was a blow to Cuba, they soon recuperated from it, by educating the population and within a few years reached the status of the most educated society in the Americas including USA.
But the economic realities of a socialist state confronted by an enemy in the North, people had to make do with a system of communal good put before individual gain. This to me, this solidarity, is one of the principle strong characteristic of the Cuban society today.
And it fits well with the Concept of The Gift and the archaic form of exchange as outlined by Marcel Mauss.
People familiar with Cuba would know that it is rare that a person goes hungry in Cuba, thanks to the forms of sharing, at the governmental and social levels.
Instead of griping that Cuban professionals are paid only limited amounts of Cash, it might be good to look at what they do with that cash.
Here is an example:
A doctor in training at a hospital gets 1200 Cuban Peso (think of it as 1200 dollars, as the official exchange rate is 1 to 1)
She gives 500 to her mother, so that her retired mother who lives with her grandparents, both of whom are alive, can live in comfort in the village where she was born in the eastern part of the island. She gives another 300 to a caretaker who looks after the sister of her grandfather, as a token of appreciation.
Yes she is left with very little money for herself but what about the satisfaction? Even though she is young, the years of education in the socialist society of Cuba has left her with deep ideals of GIFT. She makes herself member of the greater society of Cubans, not by thinking of migrating to Miami, but thinking of becoming a member of an International Team of Cuban Doctors who go to all parts of the world to offer humanitarian medical missions. She wishes to serve her country by being part of its future, not serve herself by migrating thus becoming part of its past
Some ignorant people in Miami talk about Democracy (of their definition) as a precondition for lifting of the Economic Blockade of Cuba. What if Cuba insisted that they would have relationship with USA only if USA adopted a more human approach to the population as current in Cuba? What if the Cubans demanded that there be no people sleeping under the bridges in Miami? That everyone in America can have access to good health care and education without facing financial ruin?
The words of Prof Jose Altshuler ring in my ears:
If you are interested in the welfare of yourself over the welfare of others, I recommend you go to the USA, where you would be amply rewarded. If you are concerned about others, and willing to give and take, you have come to paradise, it is Cuba.
It was Paris for Hemingway, the moveable feast.
For me, the moveable feast of emotions and affections remains La Habana and Cuba.


lundi 9 février 2015

WHY I LOVE CUBA SO VERY MUCH

Just twenty four hours ago, I left the crowded, unruly Terminal 2 of the Jose Marti International Airport in La Habana to arrive in the crowded, unruly but more diverse but still Spanish speaking terminal at Miami airport.. the flight lasted just 39 minutes.
I was wearing the same shirt as you see me in this photo with my good friend AA who is a specialist Psychologist. (taken at Restaurant near Cine Riviera at La Rampa and H in Vedado)

Leaving Havana is never easy for me. it is just another world and the technically superior, less humanistic world I would enter in just a few minutes (but thank you for wifi) fills me with an anxiety, transmitted by the people around me, including the Cuban immigrants who seem to be carrying some trauma in their faces.
So I am usually silent when I check in, was given a good seat and then paid the 25 dollars tax and on to the Immigration. Usually a pleasant chat and I request that my passport be stamped so that I have a souvenir of my travels.
When I put my carry on luggage and passed through the security, the alarm went off and the security officer with his electronic wand came towards me.
Is this shirt from Arabia? or India? he asked. Big difference, I joked with him.
and then he surprised me with a statement which I would never expect from a  TSA agent in USA: Of course you are familiar with Krishnamurty?
I was taken back. Cuba is the most educated country in this hemisphere (including the USA) but a philosophical discussion is not what you expect when you go through the security at an airport, especially at a terminal where the flights are leaving for a country with which until recently you had no relationship, and had always had a tense atmosphere.
Believe or not, for the next 15 minutes he and I talked about the philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurty, the Indian Philosopher who is very popular with intellectuals in the west. I told him I would send him some articles I had written which have Krishnamurty's philosophies about the necessity for lack of attachment. Then I said Good Bye to him, leaving him to check other passengers.
This confirmed something I have always believed in. If you are in Cuba to pursue intellectual subjects or enjoy the human warmth special to the Cubans or enjoy the humanitarian nature of Cuban Socialism or the unselfishness brought on by years of thoughtful leadership, you will never be disappointed. But if you are here with any hidden agenda, or part of a scheme to make money or enjoy the benefits of individuality that is contrary to this society, you are better off in a country like the USA, you would not enjoy Cuba.
My life in Cuba is full of human warmth, great long conversations on Philosophy, Psychology and Anthropology, along with sharing of simple pleasures of lives of ordinary Cubans.
I miss it. I always miss Cuba when I am away from there.