A brief Cuba story
Monday, Nov 28, 2016
* Former Gov. George Ryan talked with Kerry Lester about his historic 1999 trip to Cuba…
There’s lots more, so go read the whole thing.
I was also on that trip. Castro held a marathon 3+ hour press conference and he yelled at me for asking about foreigners making big bucks running tourist hotels in his socialist paradise. I also asked about rampant prostitution and street hustling, and suggested his answer (if tourists want it, who am I to stop it?) sounded a lot like Batista. And I told him about a lunch I had with some military veterans who couldn’t afford shoes. He said I should send them some shoes, but I didn’t because I figured I would’ve put a big target on their backs.
* My greatest regret is that, because he pointed his finger in my face while yelling at me and then cut me off when I asked about the hotel owners, I didn’t get to ask Castro about something I’d witnessed countless times in Havana.
Whenever anybody I talked with in Cuba mentioned Castro, they never used the man’s name. Instead, they’d always slyly stroke their chin to mimic somebody stroking their own beard. People whispered to me that they did this because Castro had spies literally everywhere and nobody was sure who was whom. Saying his name out loud risked perking up somebody’s ears nearby and then draw unwanted attention to the person who was speaking.
Castro talked often during that press conference about how the people loved him and how free they all were. So, I wanted to use that chin-stroking thing as my final question, but I never got to ask it.
And now I never will.