The Cuban Experience

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Daily Life

The quality of Cubans' daily life differs less amongst the population and thoughout the country than it does in other countries.  Cuba is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world; Cuba's culture is set up so that everybody shares what is available.

There is no Cuban ruling class with big houses that does not work.  Cuba is a country of working people, and most are on the government's payroll.  The life is not easy, but much better than most third world countries.

The average Cuban makes around 200 pesos ($10 US) per month.  This money can be spent in stores where pesos are accepted, or dollar stores.  US dollars are highly used in Cuba, and needed for many goods in cities.  Approximately 40% of the population has access to dollars in some way.

Cubans receive food rations and free medical care from the government.  The food is not sufficient alone though, and much less than before the Soviet Union's collapse.

The Cuban daily life is not unlike that in other countries.  People usually take buses or ride bikes to work in the morning, have lunch, return to work, then go home at night.

People in Cuba are extremely curious about the outside world, since they are well educated and don't have much opportunity to travel.  They will commonly approach tourists and ask what country you are from, taking their best guess before you can reply.

Eating out often is not an option for most people.  Those who have relatives in the US that send them dollars are better off, but no one is homeless or starving.

Young people receive a minimum of a ninth grade education.  From there, they have the option of finishing high school.  They can then attend the university if they choose too.  All of this is provided by the government for free.  School lasts slightly longer than normal and uniforms are worn by the students.  In lightly populated rural areas, students stay at boarding schools for six days per week.

There are many forms of entertainment available.  Many Cubans are out walking during the evening, whether along the Malecón in Havana or to local restaurants and theaters.

Cuban streets are generally safe to walk through.  There is practically no violent crime in Cuba, and not since the beginning of increased tourism has petty crime arrived, and even then, it is generally targetted at tourists and not Cubans.  Certainly, violent crime rates are nowhere near those found in cities in the U.S. and around the world.  The Cuban people are friendly and finding a way to get through the hard times.

Since the beginning of the Special Period, life has gotten harder in Cuba.  The end of Soviet aid has hurt the economy and limited the government's resources.  However, all citizens still enjoy the basic necessities of life whether or not they have work or dollars.

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