havana real by yoani sanchez

Havana Real: One Woman Fights To Tell The Truth About Cuba

  • Book:  “Havana Real: One Woman Fights To Tell The Truth About Cuba Today”
  • Author:  Yoani Sánchez
  • Publisher:  Melville House Publishing, 2009

How does one survive when one does not have enough food on a table?  How much does anything else matter when that happens on a daily basis?

Yoani Sanchez, the author of this book, is an intelligent young Cuban woman, who broke the unwritten legal code of not speaking up against the current political and social regime inside her country.  For that reason, she was threatened, persecuted and even assaulted but that did not deter her from continuing her uphill battle.

So what was it that Yoani said, that was so threatening to her current government?  And how did it all began?

It all started with a blog.  Tired of constant hunger, living in fear, and a never-ending shortage of every basic necessity – from a piece of soap to a bus ticket, Yoani decided to start recording her daily life, just as it was, in her virtual diary.  The only thing that was different this time was that she kept this diary online, for any pair of eyes to discover.  And discovered it was.  Her blog soon became so popular that it attracted the attention of international media, brought the author numerous awards, and even resulted in a book deal.

However, in spite of the critical acclaim of this nonfiction work, it remains an authentic source of truth about the life in Cuba from mid-2000s until the present.

“Inspired by one of the many tourist advertisements, an idea has occurred to me to attract visitors to the Island. (…) “Come and live it!” it would say on the cover of the ration book, given out at the beginning of the adventure.

Accommodations would not look like the luxurious rooms in the hotels in Varadero or Cayo Coco.  Out tour operators would suggest dingy rooms in Central Havana, tenements in Buena Vista, and a crowded shelter for hurricane victims.  The tourists who buy this package wouldn’t use convertible currency.  Their budget allowance for a two-week stay would be half the average monthly wage, three hundred Cuban pesos.  Thus, they could not ride in foreign-currency taxis or drive rental cars.  Use of public transport would be a must.

Restaurants would be forbidden for those who opt for this excursion, but they would receive eighty grams of bread each day.” (p.91) 

Havana, Cuba

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