As part of my Food and Society Fellowship, I traveled to Cuba, a country 90 miles from Florida. It's the same distance I'd drive from my farm in Ohio to sell produce in Columbus, but instead of a tomato transfer, this route felt like time travel.
In flight, I wrote down questions I wanted clarified: does a resurgence of organic agriculture (organoponico) depend on an embargo or a fixed ballot? Do the rations provided from birth-to-death result in a healthy populace? Are Cubans food secure? Does Cuba have a certain 'fidel-ity' to the farmer? Are the mojitos really that good?
Almost everyone I encountered worked for the socialist State, so trying to get answers to my queries felt like walking up the down escalator.
"Yes, everyone has a home here. There is no homelessness."
"No, no one goes hungry."
“Yes, everyone has free education and healthcare.”
“Yes, all the children are well fed in school.”
For someone who believes in social justice, the answers were pleasing; even poetic. Maybe the myriad Jose Marti images I was seeing throughout Havana were taking a toll on my subconscious.
Then I heard what I later learned was a common joke, told with spirit and knowing chuckles:
¿Cuáles son los tres éxitos de la revolución cubana?
Salud, educación y deportes.
¿Cuáles son los tres fracasos de la revolución cubana?