The Old Lady Europe

These days, when so many Europeans pack their luggage and set out for the Caribbean, perhaps with destination Cuba, to escape cold, grey winter days, I can’t help wondering where would the inhabitants of the Pearl of the Caribbean travel for holiday. Yet, the island’s beaches of fine sand merging with the bright blue horizon that attract millions of tourists every year don’t provide a complete picture of the country.

In this issue, we have decided to show you how Cubans themselves see the other side of the Atlantic. We have turned the mirror on the islanders and asked some independent Cuban journalists to give us their view of Europe.What do the inhabitants of the beautiful island think of Europe, which for many of them represents the world of happiness, beauty and revolutionary ideals? In other words, how does the “Mulatto woman” see the “old lady”? It seems that each of the contributing authors has some personal aspirations that might appear surreal from the point of view of everyday Cuban reality. Cuba is a myth, a great legend about free, high-quality social services. Yet, year by year it loses thousands of its inhabitants who flee into exile, their feet “voting” against the country’s political representatives who have prevented them from expressing their disapproval in regular elections.

However, the government’s promises, which took form of licenses to establish a business, buy or sell a home, or legally acquire a car, seem to herald a gradual change in the rules of the political-economic game it has been playing. Yet, only in time will we see the impact of these measures on the lives of the Cuban citizens.

The addressed journalists were asked to reflect on any feature of Europe that would come to their mind. Since the topic was thus broad, it has given origin to a great variety of articles covering various topics ranging from family stories to tribute to Václav Havel, the Czech ex-president who has passed away recently. In general, the authors have idealized Europe. Nevertheless, it might be useful for us, the Europeans, to read about the hope that many Cubans pin on the continent whose history and culture has so profoundly influenced and inspired them.

Present-day Europe is attractive for its courage and openness to dialogue and also for its capacity to live at present and to reflect – these are all values which, for whatever reason, are absent in Cuba. Seen from abroad, Europe has much to offer. Although it has been currently absorbed in its own problems, it shouldn’t lose its self-confidence and bow its head in shame, by which it would disappoint its ardent admirers.

We hope that these articles will arouse your interest. Perhaps, after reading the last page, you will be so inspired as to buy a ticket to Cuba to escape the cold weather and discover the natural beauty of the island and have a chat with the Cubans about the bitter-sweet taste of sugar, coffee and life in Cuba.

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