[permaculture] Cuba

georg parlow g.parlow at gmx.at
Sun Jul 7 14:12:49 EDT 2013

Thank you, Kelda, this is the kind of information that I find most  

Am 06.07.2013 um 20:57 schrieb kelda at riseup.net:

> Hi!
> I think more details will clarify things. I've spent 8 weeks there  
> total,
> and unattached to any official group that would guide my journey,  
> have a
> passable understanding of Cuban spanish (they don't like using  
> consonants
> of all things!) and so pretty much meeting a wide variety of people.  
> It's
> illegal from the US's standpoint for me to go, but the Cuban  
> government
> welcomes tourists with open arms. They won't stamp your passport if  
> you're
> from the US, but they will do a retinal scan on entry and exit to the
> country.
> Freedom of speech: Every neighborhood has a CDR (Committee for  
> Defense of
> the Revolution) which at its best is a robust neighborhood group,  
> but is
> also used as a spy arm of the Cuban government to figure out who's
> breaking any laws. Many cubans, in my opinion, kind of bond together  
> over
> breaking the law, whether it's talking negatively about the  
> government or
> driving an unlicensed taxi. But there are neighbors that do tell the
> government, and the results are not pretty. (as per that quote from
> Amnesty International).
> I'm not sure what kinds of churches there are, but there's plenty.  
> For me,
> the striking lack of speech is when walking into a bookstore. There  
> are
> about the same 20 propaganda books in every bookstore, and about the  
> same
> 20 poetry books. And that's basically it. Very empty by our standards.
> There's the Granma newspaper, and Radio Reloj, and that's about it.
> Ability to congregate with foreigners: Cubans and the cuban government
> LOVE foreigners, because they bring much-desired money into their  
> economy.
> Why I can't freely associate with awesome permaculturists I find is
> because the Cuban government heavily taxes anyone who officially
> associates with foreigners. (Like it's common to find lodging in  
> someone's
> house 'a Casa Particular' but anyone who rents a room to foreigners is
> taxed heavily by the government whether there room is used by  
> foreigners
> or not.) If I meet some permies and want to stay at their place but
> they're not licensed, not only is it not legal, because they're not
> registered to associate with foreigners but their neighbors can tell  
> on
> them and they can be heavily fined, or maybe worse. The government's
> assumption is that if a Cuban is associating with a foreigner than  
> they
> are getting some monetary perks that the government wants a piece  
> of. This
> is a big deal. Like I've had to run and hide at a moment's notice  
> because
> some neighbors were about to catch on. And the last thing you want  
> to do
> when visiting permaculturists is get them fined.
> There's different kind of permits that permaculture folks there can  
> get to
> be able to host visitors. Specifically a Student-hosting license or a
> Job-hosting license (I forget what they're officially called), but  
> there's
> not really an Ecotourist license. Which surprises me, it'd be a  
> great way
> for the government to make money. Organized groups like Food First
> probably get some kind of event license.
> Most average Cubans are 1)genuinely surprised that someone would  
> travel
> abroad to learn about their agriculture and 2) very very surprised  
> to meet
> someone from the US who wants to learn about agriculture. I can't
> understate this.
> How then is IPC11 happening there? The government has sanctioned and I
> believe even pays for some very robust permaculture stuff in the  
> country.
> The Antonio Jiminez Foundation for People & Environment is basically  
> an
> office that runs permaculture projects, newsletter, even book  
> publishing
> (I've seen those books on private bookshelves though, and not in any
> bookstores).
> The IPC is through them, so government-sanctioned. And the prices for
> attendance reflect the prices that are charged for tourists who are  
> paying
> government fees.
> It isn't my intention to talk bad about Cuba. I just had shining  
> eyes on
> my first visit and was shocked that it wasn't "The Power of Community"
> movie. Yes, there are gardens in every neighborhood and well-organized
> markets. But many Cubans I met could care less about vegetables,  
> they tend
> to be very hungry for protein. Yes, there are awesome permaculture  
> sites,
> our people, scattered throughout the country. But the average Cuban  
> may
> care more about hussling a tour out of foreigners for some extra  
> cash than
> taking the time to raise their own food.
> It's just something to think about, what we idealize. I'm sure the IPC
> will be awesome, and I hope to be there. Theres a lot of awesome stuff
> that happens in that country, but it's not heaven.
> Kelda
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