An amazing calm and patience is what I have seen.
Many of you have reached out this week and I wanted to share my impressions of being in Cuba when history makes a big move.
In December of 2014, when Obama announced the start of normalizing relations again with Cuba, I stood in a diplomatic supermarket in the Miramar neighborhood of Havana. I was watching the TV and trying to figure out if I was seeing, what I was seeing. A few people looked up at the news feed from Venezuela, but many were focused on buying rice or chorizo for the holidays.
In the week after the announcement of opening relations, Cubans often asked me to talk about the changes. Instead of what I saw on the news from Miami, people were not in the streets celebrating but curious, interested and patiently watching.
“Let’s see what happens.”
I heard this again and again.
This last Friday, Fidel Castro Ruz passed away. Almost immediately, a calm descended on Havana and was present as we traveled out to Trinidad. The flags all at fly half-mast. In a stark contrast to everyday Cuba, there is no music. No alcohol is sold. For a culture that loves a fiesta, there is an immense quiet. People’s conversations even seem quiet.
It seems that big events often bring out a very Cuban survival skill, calm and patience.
There is a saying in Cuba about not creating internal struggles. “No coja lucha.” Do not take struggle. It feels wise to me to understand that life has struggles and there is no need to draw the struggles inside.
That is what I see.