Cuba awaits new vision of its future

PHOTO: A young woman and a child walk down a street in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2019.PlayJonathan Alpeyrie/Polaris Images
WATCH Cuban businesses suffering from American ban on tourism

For nearly 60 years Cuba was led by Fidel and Raul Castro, who succeeded in revolution, outlasted the collapse of the USSR and endured diplomatic isolation while bringing Cuba into the 21st century.

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For decades, the small island nation has steadfastly remained the only communist state in the Western Hemisphere. But with the death of Fidel Castro in 2016 and the resignation of Raul Castro in 2018, the revolutionary fervor has been reduced to an ideological standstill.

PHOTO: A woman buys fruit in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2019. The revolutionary system set up after the war in 1959 is no longer able to cope with the new embargo sanctions and the changing world. Jonathan Alpeyrie/Polaris Images
A woman buys fruit in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2019. The revolutionary system set up after the war in 1959 is no longer able to cope with the new embargo sanctions and the changing world.

With the gradual opening of the island country though the internet and tourism, Cuban youth are embarking on a deep intellectual and moral transformation.

PHOTO: Young people use their smartphones on July, 13, 2019 in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government began giving 3G mobile internet access to its citizens in 2018. Jonathan Alpeyrie/Polaris images
Young people use their smartphones on July, 13, 2019 in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government began giving 3G mobile internet access to its citizens in 2018.

Cuba’s new generation is losing interest in the typical revolutionary speeches and sentiments that the current government, led by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, is trying to keep alive.

PHOTO: A young woman uses her smartphone on July 13, 2019, in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government began giving 3G mobile internet access to its citizens in 2018. Jonathan Alpeyrie
A young woman uses her smartphone on July 13, 2019, in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government began giving 3G mobile internet access to its citizens in 2018.

Youngsters today are more interested in their social media and cellphone usage then the monotonous and redundant party speeches on the highly controlled national television.

PHOTO: Cubas already fractured economic and social system has been hit by harsh new US sanctions recently targetting its main source of money: the Tourist industry. Jonathan Alpeyrie
Cuba's already fractured economic and social system has been hit by harsh new US sanctions recently targetting its main source of money: the Tourist industry.

These rather innocuous changes have had a significant impact in the future of the small communist nation. Raul Castro would never ascend to the stature of Fidel, and though Cubans mourned the death of the iconic leader, they have also felt that it is time to move toward the future.

PHOTO: Residents stand on a street in Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, July 5, 2019. Cubas already fractured economic and social system has been hit by harsh new US sanctions recently targeting its main source of money: the tourist industry. Jonathan Alpeyrie
Residents stand on a street in Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, July 5, 2019. Cuba's already fractured economic and social system has been hit by harsh new US sanctions recently targeting its main source of money: the tourist industry.

This rather complex progression has led some Cuban leaders to ask the question: How do we move forward into a more progressive future while keeping our unique history? This question, though vital for the survival of the Cuban identity, has yet to find the proper leader who will be able to address both issues.

PHOTO: Empty shelves of a government owned grocery store are seen on July 13, 2019 in Havana, Cuba. Meat and fish are hard to find for some locals because of embargoes, production problems and big tourist hotels taking first priority on products. Jonathan Alpeyrie
Empty shelves of a government owned grocery store are seen on July 13, 2019 in Havana, Cuba. Meat and fish are hard to find for some locals because of embargoes, production problems and big tourist hotels taking first priority on products.

But Cuba is also going through a structural and political decline, which, with no help from long-standing embargoes, has seen its buildings, roads and pensions decline steadily with no end in sight.

PHOTO: Cubas economy is in tantrum. The revolutionary system set up after the was in 1959 is no longer able to cope with the new embargo sanctions and the changing world. Jonathan Alpeyrie/Polaris Images
Cuba's economy is in tantrum. The revolutionary system set up after the was in 1959 is no longer able to cope with the new embargo sanctions and the changing world.

In June, the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, including banning cruise ships. "These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services," said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a statement, calling Cuba "destabilizing ... in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes."

PHOTO: A man waits for a bus in Cienfuegos, Cuba on July 3, 2019. With the new sanctions taking effect this month, the Communist nation of Cuba has been hit hard in its tourist industry. Jonathan Alpeyrie
A man waits for a bus in Cienfuegos, Cuba on July 3, 2019. With the new sanctions taking effect this month, the Communist nation of Cuba has been hit hard in its tourist industry.

Tourism is the second-largest industry in Cuba and the effect has already been felt, with revenue slumping over 20% so far this year, according to the Cuban National Statistics Office.

PHOTO: A woman and child sit in Trinidad, Sancti, Spiritus, Cuba on July 5, 2019. With a drop in tourism from about 20% to 30%, the small island nation is left with an uncertain future. Jonathan Alpeyrie
A woman and child sit in Trinidad, Sancti, Spiritus, Cuba on July 5, 2019. With a drop in tourism from about 20% to 30%, the small island nation is left with an uncertain future.

At some point, Cuba's leaders will have to make a choice if it is to find its place in the global landscape and give its people a better life.

PHOTO: The Trump adminitration has increased the pressure on the small island nation due to its relationship with Venezuela, fracturing an already heavily damaged economic system. Jonathan Alpeyrie
The Trump adminitration has increased the pressure on the small island nation due to its relationship with Venezuela, fracturing an already heavily damaged economic system.