CHAPTER SIX
Bureaucracy

   The one in the chair by the door was in office clothes, a bureaucrat. The other, chatting on the couch with Milagros´ husband as if it were a social visit, wore a two-tone green military uniform with an Interior Department label over the pocket. I entered barefoot in quickly redonned Levi´s and yesterday´s shirt, because I was just stepping into the shower when Enrique rapped to tell me they'd come for me.
   The bureaucrat put on his official face and said, "Su pasaporte," The uniform, being closer, took it and found the Cuban visa tucked inside. "This is a tourist´s visa." And, after a pause for effect, polite but grim, "It does not permit the practice of journalism in Cuba."
   So the fat woman in the local press room had blown the whistle. Surprised to see such a thing in a small town, I´d foolishly gone in to check it out and compare notes, and I must have seemed alarmingly independent by Cuban standards of journalism.
   I gave them the shortest airtight version I wanted to attempt barefooted. I´d applied and paid in Washington for a journalist's visa, which should have been waiting for me in Havana, but the responsible person there, I´d been told, was away for days, so I expected to pick it up when I swung back by after I left La Isla de Juventud.
   Every word of that was true, except that I only half still expected to receive the visa, because my experiences so far in both the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the press room in Havana had looked a lot like a run-around. But I had the right to expect it, and I was still expediently exercising that right.
   Of course the bureaucrat said I´d have to come with them and tell it to their chief. Rationally, I should have replied, "OK, I'll come by when I have time." We were talking about a piece of paper after all. But when a cop puts your passport (another piece of paper) in his pocket in a foreign country, even Cuba, he has you by the throat. So I said I intended to finish my bath.
   Responding to Enrique's eloquently raised eyebrows and spreading hands, they politely acquiesced. But I was already on my way back to the bathroom and, seeing Milagros in the kitchen looking worried, I told her (and them) there was no problem.
   I took my time in the shower, trying to tame my anger - at them and at myself - trying to think carefully of what I should have in my pockets and what I should and shouldn´t say. They were being much more polite than either U.S. or Mexican migra would be, I told myself. This probably won´t amount to anything, I thought.
   I wondered if they´d been so polite when they rounded up people with Arab names in America, and if those people had thought, this probably won´t amount to anything, and I´ll be back home, back in real life again, in an hour or two. Some of them also had problems with pieces of paper that had been overlooked but were suddenly being used against them.
   In l998, when I was living in Chiapas, Mexico, the migra there decided to blame the Zapatista rebellion on outside agitators and started expelling foreigners known to be writers living there for years on regularly extended six-month tourist visas, picking some up on the streets and taking them to the airport without their possessions. At that moment, after two years legal residency, I had an honest problem over my own pieces of paper and went in to argue about it on the only day when the district chief, the purgemaster himself, I guess, was running the office, and I just managed to keep the piece of paper I needed to drive all my books to safety.
   Things like that DO happen. But I was telling myself that being in Cuba, not America or Mexico, made a difference. What was happening in Nueva Gerona, I thought, was just a hassle I´d rather not have. But it was definitely that, and I didn´t want it.
   I should have known better than to go into any bureaucratic office, I lectured myself, expecially the office of an embedded press, or even the Cuban office in Washington, where I´d blown the whistle on myself for good. I´d done that to get four straight months anywhere in Cuba as a visa´d journalist, instead of a tourist´s 30 days that can be stretched another 30 only through a time wasting ordeal back in Havana. And now it looked like I might be in that rut, anyway.
   Well, my website spotlights me; that´s a necessary part of it´s purpose, and while the journalist´s visa might have gotten me easier access to a few important sources (without worrying about early morning migra visits the next day), I´d never had one before because I don´t ever want to be watched or led around - and asking for it contradicted one of my website´s critical themes (see "Any American Can Go to Cuba as His Own Reporter").
   But on the morning the migra came to get me in Nueva Gerona, exactly as if Cuba were the kind of place I was there to establish it isn´t, my application for the still half-expected visa provided some pieces of paper I was going to show to get past a fantastic checkpoint and back to real life.
   Freshly shaved, washed, in a temporarily sweat-free shirt, as calm as I could make myself, pockets full of the right pieces of paper, ready both logically and illogically (bureaucratically), coming back through the hall I saw Milagros in the kitchen with my breakfast on a plate, and as the two officials tensed their knees to stand, Enrique interposed with an air of sanity, "But he hasn´t had his coffee."
   I told them I had to have my coffee. And while I took my time over a large breakfast of mango juice, eggs scrambled with ham and onions, potatoes, an assortment of fresh fruit, bread and cheese, and two large cups of coffee, I thought some more and let them stew. They were still being polite, but my attitude was, frankly, to hell with them, an attitude toward petty, pointless, intrusive government that I share with almost everyone in the world, including most Cubans.
   Maybe, since this was Cuba and not America or Mexico, it wouldn´t amount to much, but they were, nevertheless, "taking me in for questioning" because I´d been walking around talking to people, and I didn´t like it.
   For the information of any American or Cuban official with enough intelligence and initiative to punch 20 keys on a computer and read it right here, I feel no obligation to respect any country´s rules or customs that don´t deserve respect. I am an existentialist, no more or less accidentally or significantly in this world than any other passing blip who pretends to own it or run it, and all I claim to own or run is my own life, which is nobody´s business but mine, as long as I scrupulously observe the social contract.
   The domain of government has limits, which are set not by government itself but by the real limits of people´s real need for a state and for government only as the executive agency of the state with no role or power that goes beyond the state´s real purposes. When individuals or groups holding government posts distort or invent their own roles and purposes, government stops being a useful tool and becomes a nuisance, the state itself becomes a nuisance, and if the mandate claimed by Jefferson in The Declaration of Independence isn´t applied, individual existentialists have no choice but to govern themselves - expediently of course, "with an eye out for the cop around the corner," as old Crenshaw put it in "Of Human Bondage."
   I am not an anarchist. If I could be part of a state logically formed for the logical purposes of a state and logically functioning just for those purposes, I´d want to participate, but no such state exists. A number of Cubans I´ve expained this to think Cuba would be such a state if Fidel were completely in charge. Maybe they're right. The possibility is part of the reason I'm interested in Cuba. But if they're right, he is obviously not in charge, and, unfortunately, neither am I.
   So I carry artificially important pieces of paper in Cuba and everywhere else because the factions that insist on them have guns and police forces, but nobody can make me take them more seriously than I need to or want to. And when I´m pushed around over empty border ceremony, it makes me mad. And when I´m put in a back seat and driven through the streets to an unknown destination by people who have stopped being polite and become two stony goons, it makes me very mad indeed.
   But all the time in the shower and at the breakfast table I'd been schooling myself. It would have made sense and been more honest (and easier) and it might have worked to be overtly mad as hell. But I had some cards which that morning´s bureaucrats didn´t know about yet, with which I could win that morning´s game quietly if I could stay calm.
   It´s not always best to stay calm and it´s not what I'm best at. To avoid having my car searched repeatedly at Mexico´s countless checkpoints, I use overwhelming politeness, humor, affected inability to speak Spanish or understand what I´m supposed to do, sarcasm, or overwhelming anger. I´m not sure it matters what you do at obnoxious checkpoints, as long as you do it well (timid or tired surrender being the worst option), so I do what I feel up to at the time.
   The last time I´d been detained in Cuba, in 2001 in a Vedado police station, checkpoint option #5 had worked. Fed up with the jineteros and chicas swarming Havana´s tourist zones that year, including teen-age prostitutes operating in front of blind cops, we'd been advised by one of the blind cops we talked to to take our questions to headquarters, which we did and found ourselves immediately detained by a hard-eyed dick who demanded our passports and visas and told us we were in big trouble for investigating prostitution with tourist visas.
   My companion´s Spanish was better than mine, but the dick was rewarding his worried pleas for understanding with more and darker menace, so when he left the room to let us sweat, I took back our papers, and when he returned and demanded them again, I exploded, talking over him until I shut him up, telling him (among other things) that we´d come there with no fear because of my experience in revolutionary Nicaragua when cops there WERE revolutionary, and it pissed me off to find tough-guy cops in supposedly revolutionary Cuba, and I´d had enough of it.
   A bigger chief came in and listened and then told us and the dick we shouldn´t have been detained and that we could ask any questions we wanted to ask, which we did. What we learned and what I've learned since will be covered in another chapter, but since I brought it up and, on the day I wrote this paragraph (June 21, 2004), Fidel has just denied George Bush's accusation that Cuba has a sex industry exploiting children, I have to stand behind Fidel and clarify that the charge is both wildly distorted and late.
   Hustling in Cuba, always extremely amateur and individual, certainly not sponsored by the state, and, as far as I know, never involving children, apparently peaked in 2001, when jineteros (male hustlers who try to impose their unwanted, unlicensed, sometimes sexual, and often dishonest services on tourists) were an almost unbearable nuisance and I sometimes got tired of brushing off chicas. In 2002, it had somehow been reduced to a level of near zero jineteros and very few chicas, and it was at a very low level in 2004. Sexual hustling of male and female tourists goes on, but not as an "industry." What there is clearly spins spontaneously off Cuba's inappropriate brand of tourism.
   Anyway, after my successful use of anger in the Vedado police station, of course the dick shook hands with me as if we'd been friends for years. It does work.
   I felt like attacking in Nueva Gerona, too, but from respect at least for Fidel and all Cuba´s sincere militants, for their goals, their struggles, and their achievements, and from a reluctance to have my rational disdain for some Cuban errors confused with Washington´s stupid arrogance, and because I was on that kind of roll (thanks largely to the support of my perfect hosts), I was opting for an air of calm confidence.
   And things went my way, though too damned slowly. Of course the chief wasn´t in his office yet, and it was my turn to wait, which I endured with private bad grace. I keep appointments and I sincerely wish I could say I always treat other people with respect until they prove they don´t deserve it. I´d kept these guys waiting because they barged into my life at a rude hour to waste my time on a holiday without regard for my plans, crossing the line between the logical limits of their authority and the domain of my existential freedom.
   It was May Day, and I´d meant to take pictures of the morning parade and related activities and then to meet some friends in the pizzeria´s patio, including a guy from La Fe with a guitar who could sing like Silvio, and a carpenter who promised a pargo feast at his home with Mayabe beer.
   Instead, time passed, the bureaucrat left, more time passed, and the uniform decided to chat. He was from Bayamo, a place I´d only been once for an hour or two. But that was enough, with what I'd read, including a doctoral thesis about a village in the same municipio, and experiences in similar places, to talk about it convincingly, so we were almost friends when the phone in a back office rang.
   By luck, a minute or so later, the chief arrived, the front door was locked, and he had to knock. Remembering he thought I´d waited a lot longer than I had, hearing the uniform´s voice still on the phone, I went unhurriedly to the door, opened it, and blocked it, telling him the only official was on the phone but would be out shortly.
   Then I politely realized he was the chief, introduced myself, and shook hands before letting him pass. Please don´t imagine me bullying anyone with my American size. I´m 5'7", under 160 pounds (68 years old that day) and not physically imposing. I hate the fact that psychological advantage trumps logic in that kind of situation, but it does.
   He quickly escaped into his office and behind his desk, calling in the uniform, who was just then emerging from the back office, anyway. Then he told me, "Venga!" And, of course, I thought, "Fuck you!" But I felt psychologically up, so I went in as if he´d been polite.
   He couldn´t demand my papers. The uniform already had them, and the uniform, who was sitting in one of the guest chairs, politely motioned me to take the other, and then began presenting my case as if he were my lawyer. I must not be judged harshly, he reasoned, since, even though I did not have the required document in my possession, there was reason to believe it existed or was about to exist somewhere else in space and was or was about to be properly signed and stamped, wherever it was.
   The reader is to be forgiven for wondering what the hell the big deal was. It needs to be clarified (so you don´t think you´re missing something) that the offense I was charged with was, in fact, finding things out like what beans cost and how homes are built and when school starts, and passing such stuff on without a license. What? you might exclaim. What kind of place is Cuba? Haven´t they ever heard of the First Amendment?
   Well, as for Cuba, it´s a place where virtually everyone lives a better life than 80% of humanity, thanks to the good intentions, dedication, and organizational efforts of the Communist party, and I never forget that. The Cuban constitution also guarantees free speech, and Cubans generally speak freely. Most of the things Washington and Miami say about Cuba aren´t true. And the paranoid reaction to press freedom I'm describing is duplicated in Washington.
   The exquisite irony of my situation was that I was supposedly guilty of the same fantastic infraction, at the same time, in both Cuba and the U.S.: practicing journalism in Cuba without a license. But while I was openly defying unacceptable U.S. regulations (signed by Bill Clinton, who apparently never heard of the First Amendment either), I was sitting there listening to the uniform defending me within the context of Cuba´s unacceptable regulations, and I didn´t like that.
   But the day was passing, so to get back to real life, I began pulling the rabbits out of my pocket. I produced a receipt for the $50 application fee I´d paid in Washington (a money order stub, really, with the date and amount mechanically and very impressively entered). I then produced a two-page set of instructions, with names and offices busily annotated. That it was all in English bureaucratese, some of which even I couldn't understand, probably helped as I pointed out steps done and pending. Finally I produced an 8 1/2 X 14 color print-out of my front page.
   And at that point, another uniform magically appeared who could read English and wanted to practice. He perfectly and expressively translated all my content summaries into Spanish. I interrupted only once to make sure he got the best word for "abridge," and he obligingly repeated that Congress "no puede hacer ni un ley limitando la libertad de la prensa."
   Both uniforms were fascinated and the bureaucrat was caught. Universal Cuban contempt for U.S. hypocrisy then virtually required my explanation that any governmental checkpoint put in a journalist´s way that presumes a power to approve and license the continued exercise of press freedom obviously violates the U.S. Constitution and universal human rights that should be protected by all countries.
   I think both uniforms actually got the point and I wished the entire Cuban Council of State had been there politely listening.
   Two weeks later, 100 feet from the platform on the Havana malecon, I would hear Fidel eloquently and effectively compare U.S. and Cuban domestic and foreign policies, goals, and achievements. Backed by an uncountable mass of Cubans closing down all of Central Vedado, with signs and banners rightly calling George Bush a fascist, he would leave no doubt which is the rogue state. But one hypocritical aspect of the ongoing, unjustified U.S. slandering of Cuba he wouldn't touch, because he couldn´t. It would have been hypocritical on his part. He would have to leave it out.
   But I don´t. As a professor of journalism and an expert on press freedom, as an honest reporter with a clear conscience, I can accuse the U.S. of deliberately manipulating media coverage of Cuba, and I can accuse America's supposedly free press (including the once leftist alternative press) of letting themselves be used, where Cuba is concerned, as a mere propaganda machine.
   Fidel unfortunately can't talk about that because Cuba also controls its own media and tries and expects to control outside journalists. While ineptly and defensively screening working writers, they flatter big-name hatchet men from major American media as if they were diplomats instead of reporters, expecting them to be diplomatically nice in return, and then complain bitterly when the hatchet men, whose importance they have themselves inflated, act like hatchet men and rewrite their same old propaganda.
   They´d do better to read their own constitutional guarantee of free speech as including free press and open the door, with no bureaucratic hassle and no favoritism, to all reporters and then get out of the way. In fact, they should give 180 day visas routinely and tell bureaucrats to answer anyone's questions openly. The results would be mixed, but it would be a better mix, for one thing because good reports on Cuba would no longer have to include chapters like this one.
   I´m sure the bureaucrats I encountered think I disrespectfully tried to evade and rush THEIR sovereign procedure, which I did, for good reasons. George Bush was specifically promising to physically stop Americans headed for Cuba, the bank account of one person I knew had been frozen because he´d talked about Cuba in what should have been private correspondence, another friend´s payment by wire for a pro-Cuba ad had been hijacked, and though I had just gone on line, I was keeping fairly quiet until I was on my way. I thought I had a connection for a boat ride from Florida, and rather than publically telephoning or E-mailing the obviously bugged Cuban Interests Section, I detoured by there in person to ask someone to take 5 minutes to fill out, sign, and stamp a journalist´s visa for me, which was reasonable, since it IS, after all, just a piece of paper.
   If that had always been their normal, highly publicized procedure, the visa might have served a real purpose: to blow the embargo away long ago. As it is, it´s a piece of paper I only wanted as a convenience, to have four months in Cuba, and to show to bureaucrats I might want to talk to who might not realize it´s just a piece of paper. Too bad the guy I bumped into in Washington, though he pretended otherwise, turned out to be just that kind of bureaucrat.
   Some readers might think I should show more respect for Cuba´s sovereign pieces of paper.
   But they´re wrong. It´s just as unacceptable for Cuba to screen and approve journalists as it is for America. Recognition by the First and Ninth Amendments and parallel articles in other constitutions of existential rights, including free press rights, which no government can control, is the world´s best defense against fascism. And I´ll tell anyone´s supreme court, Cuba´s or America´s, no government has the right to issue journalist´s visas or to "license" journalists.
   In Nueva Gerona, I didn´t say all that, but I felt as if I had, and I felt guilty of philosophical treason against myself and all realists when, to salve the official dignity of the bureaucrat, who seemed only overwhelmed and outnumbered, I assured him I´d look again for the stray personage as soon as I got back to Havana. But it left him nothing more to say.
   Except that he then exhausted my patience by reminding me I was still on a tourist visa until I actually possessed the right piece of paper. I may not have BEEN compelled, but I felt compelled to tell him that, even as a tourist, touring a country most interesting for its political, social, and economic differences, I would be interested in those differences, I would take notes, and I would do what I damned well wanted with my notes. Actually, I couldn´t say "damned well" in Spanish.
   He looked stern, but he wasn´t philosophically prepared. I had made the mistake of mentioning our stay in Batabano, however, so he retreated to a firmer stance on another straw, advising me there are no houses licensed to rent rooms in Batabano. "While you are in Cuba, you must observe our rules. You must always look beside the door for the symbol shaped like a little house. If it isn´t there, then you can´t stay in that house."
   "No es cierto, senor. You say there are no licensed casas there, but a state taxista showed us a casa that looked OK to us. I´m not a cop, and I´m not going to sleep on the street."
   The uniforms, on a realistic roll, saw the sense in that, too, leaving the bureaucrat only one more trench. When I asked for a ride home, he reasserted his authority by nixing my request. I let him have that, but by the time I´d walked back to Milagros´ house to get my camera and then to the pizzeria, everything was over and my friends had given up on me and disappeared.
   I didn´t know where the carpenter lived and my mood was black, anyway, as I stalked 39th Street, angrily lecturing an imaginary audience of Americans and Cubans who weren´t there when I was psychologically up for them.
   When I got off the good ship Mexico again, after only 5 hours at sea, and recrossed the territory of the hardnosed dockmaster I´d told off (see Chapter 5), like the steely-eyed dick, he greeted me like an old friend. But when I got back to Havana, still feeling psychologically up, the stray bureaucrat still wasn´t there.
   They kept turning me over to a woman who kept claiming she knew nothing, though she somehow knew my application supposedly hadn´t ever come from Washington. I eventually antagonized her by telling her about Arthur Miller´s inept equation of Centro Habana with Cuba in The Nation, which every American tourist I met in Cuba had read and would agree with if they also only saw the capital. Never having heard of Arthur Miller, she blamed me for that because I was the one who told her about it, and also because I told her they should level Centro. Bureaucrats generally (and maybe Cuban bureaucrats especially) have a lot more talent for becoming indignant when anyone dares to tell them anything than they have for listening.
   The guy in Washington responded to my E-mail asking him to tell Havana where he'd sent my application with huffy defensiveness, so I gave up on him (though I´m thinking of asking him for my $50 back) and sent him a friendly letter about my plans to proceed as an unlicensed, unvisa´d journalist.
   By the time I finally met the Havana responsible, after a rent-a-car drive to Playa Maria la Gorda at the west tip, zig-zagging back along both coasts, talking to hitchhikers and residents of as many out-of-the-way communities as I could zig-zag through, and after then dividing Havana, between the part I knew well and the first periferico, into pie-wedge sections and walking and talking my way through them all, one section a day, my 30 day visa was almost expired, I was worn out by Havana, which was getting uglier and hotter as summer arrived. I yearned to fly to Holguin and get on to Gibara and back to Baracoa.
   So when the key bureaucrat finally materialized, he was the one psychologically up and energetically running with the number one bureaucratic scam everywhere of such relentless inability to make exceptions to the supposed rules that the bothersome public has to finally give up and go away. When he claimed my application had still never arrived and that perhaps I should have waited in Washington the "required" 30 days (an expedient distortion of an innocuous cautionary instruction, i.e. "allow 30 days") and that a visa, once issued, can´t be replaced by or extended as another kind of visa (a rule he made up on the spot), I barely rose above option #6 (tired surrender) to tell him what I told the guy in Nueva Gerona, that I, too, had no choice but to go on touring Cuba, talking to Cubans, and taking notes, and I would do what I wanted with my notes. But I didn't feel overwhelming, and I don't think I pierced his bureaucratic armor.
   But I did go on being my own reporter and, reinvigorated by eastern Cuba, I did a lot though not all of what I wanted to for another month. I needed at least a third month, though my money supply (which an American in Cuba has to carry) wouldn´t have lasted that long.
   One morning migra visit being all I needed to write a chapter about, I didn´t feel free to question officials as much as I should have, but my usual technique ( best shown so far in "Cubans Choose Socialism," also shown on this website) of walking and talking, accepting invitations into homes and work places, and making friends, worked well, as always.
   Even though I somehow put a dent in my rent-a-car, which cost me $95 because, not having noticed it, I hadn´t followed the rule requiring me to immediately get a certain piece of paper from a cop (thus nullifying the insurance I'd paid for), I took plenty of good notes about people and places a long way from Havana which you may never know anything about unless you keep reading this book.
   Finishing this chapter in Venezuela, where I was constantly warned to stay indoors at night and not to trust anyone and where every city is ringed or shadowed by the third-class "ranchos" of an uneducated and desperate majority watched closely by all kinds of cops and military with huge guns, when I read in the papers that Hugo Chavez is "suspected" of wanting to go Cuba´s way, I wondered why Chavez didn´t reply, "Of course I do. Why not?" Cuba is, after all, a place where people do not fear each other day or night, and where the far less numerous cops are slender, civilized, and carry only tiny pistols, because there is no uneducated and desperate class there.
   This chapter doesn´t reflect my normal experience on the island. It´s here because the only valid charge regularly leveled against Cuba is that press freedom is limited there, and some of that limitation is certainly calculated. But my own complaint, which is NOT a regular one, is that there is too much bureaucracy. Cubans often tell me there are too many rules and too many pieces of paper. And I think the main reason the press is controlled is that bureaucrats, by nature, always try to hide what they are doing, everywhere. Why is there so much "classified" material in Washington, if not to prevent people like me and eventually the public from finding out what they are doing?
   Press limitations at least are diminishing in Cuba, but too slowly. In Palatino´s, my Cienfuegos hangout, a loyal intellectual who never looks over his shoulder when he talks showed me a Catholic magazine which hasn´t been censored since the Pope´s visit because Fidel said to leave it alone. This magazine now passes on asinine lies from Miami, and his gripe was that state media can´t fight back without publicly admitting the magazine exists. The even more loyal communist intellectual on the other side of the table declared that, in Granma, there´s never anything wrong in Cuba.
   That's not always true, by the way, but it's generally true. Granma, an 8-page tabloid the size and quality of a school paper, is one of at least three same-size national newspapers (Granma, Rebelde, and Trabajadores) and a flock of city newspapers, alike enough to consider redundant. They are honest but selective, brief, and editorial in their international coverage. There are a few good articles every day about Cuban agriculture, technology, etc., but most of the scant content is oppressively positive, and some people I´ve talked to don´t always believe it. Humorists deal with some real problems of daily life, but, of course, humorously.
   I'd like to see all that paper and busywork put into one real newspaper. Not necessarily private. Private (meaning corporate) media are equally contemptible, just in different ways. But Cuba, as the most important country in Latin America, should not be the only one without a real newspaper.
   I can´t really criticize Cuban TV, since TV, generally, is bad everywhere, and two of Cuba´s four channels are completely educational, which is good. "Round Table," their best TV news offering, is a lot more open than you might think, though it isn´t, realistically speaking, completely open.
   Cuban media should be an independent branch of government, as the courts supposedly are in America, overviewing the people´s affairs, acting both as objective chronicler and as a detached, philosophically sophisticated, and essential monitor of all civil processes, objectively reporting (for instance) how well the government observes and guards the line between people´s obligations as participants in the state and their rights as individuals.
   And, of course, they should have letters to the editor and public forums, in an original socialist way with teaching responses from loyal geniuses (of whom there are plenty). A country that is doing as much right as Cuba is should not cover up criticism. They should disarm their enemies by exposing their dishonesty and shallowness.
   Cuban media could provide an original, totally objective, non-bureaucratic, socialist journalistic model as impressive as the Cuban health care model. It´s too bad they haven´t thought of that. Fidel Castro, certainly the most important and impressive political figure of the 20th century, has an awesome intellectual grasp, but I can list several crucial concepts and even issues that have apparently slipped past him. This is one of them.
   In Chapter 7, I´ll cover a part of Cuban life that has slipped past the not-at-all awesome grasp of American media, the ongoing revolutionary movement to put all Cubans into good housing, what´s been done and what´s being done, what old and new housing is like, and what the housing situation is all over the island.

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