Cuba and the Movies: Hard Done By?

Glimpse of the Capitolio, Havana, Cuba (Creative Commons)

Glimpse of the Capitolio, Havana, Cuba (Creative Commons)

Are you thinking of going holiday and planning any Cuba holidays in 2014? If you are, you may feel slightly hesitant as to what you can expect upon arrival. Indeed, it has been a long time since the Iron Curtain lifted and the missiles returned to their former Soviet bases. Still, how does what you may have seen in the movies equate to the modern lives that Cubans lead in the 21st century? Let’s have a quick look at some factors that you should keep in mind when visiting.

The Culture as Opposed to the Politics

Many movies still portray Cuba with images of khaki-clad dictators and angry fists waving in the air. However, you must never forget that this country comprises more than 11 million inhabitants. Cubans are a proud people with a history equally rooted in progress and poverty. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how worldly cities such as Havana have become. While they are still some ways off from fully embracing Western ideals, Cubans have come a long way in the past few decades. In this respect, Cuba has entitled to feel that it’s been hard done by as far as the Hollywood treatment goes.

¿Hablas Cubano?

Another interesting phenomenon that has begun to pick up speed is that the younger generation of Cubans is keen to learn English as a second language. They’re well aware of the global community that belong to and, likewise, many will be much more open to the presence of tourists than in the past. Still, it’s common courtesy to learn a bit of fundamental Cuban Spanish before you arrive. Actually, you’ll be surprised at the compliments you receive even from attempting the most basic phrases such as “Thank you”, “How are you?” and “My pleasure”. They’ll consider this effort as a sign of respect for their culture (which, to be fair, it is).


Slowly Changing

Still, never forget that Cuba has long been under a communist system. This is one aspect that the movies have captured somewhat accurately. The youth may be adapting to different times, but the older generation will likely be less open. So, it’s wise to portray yourself appropriately when you’re on holiday in Cuba. Avoid wearing shirts that overtly promote American culture and behave in a reserved and respectful manner.

Cuba is an island paradise and were it not for a political fracture in the region, it’s likely that this country would have already emerged as one of the true gems of the tropics.