On the 30th of November, I attended a film screening of Return to Cuba. The film consisted of the main character, Barbara Ramos returning to live in Cuba with her new husband after she lived in Italy for 18 years. Throughout the film screening we were able to see a period of three years. The three years we saw were Ramos building her dream home, as well as what she experienced in Cuba.
Although in my opinion, I did not like the film. I am very opinionated when it comes to Cuba and how Cuba is portrayed to others. My Grandmother is from Cuba, and she was able to leave the country the year that Castro took power in 1959. She was lucky, and if that wouldn’t have been possible then I would not be here today. Castro is not a leader to me, he was power-hungry and I truly believe that he only worsened the conditions of Cuba. Cuba is a country frozen in time: the walls are deteriorating because they cannot renovate them, the cars are from the 1950’s, the technology is old, it is simply a country that has been untouched.
My Grandmother tells us stories of how she has not been able to see her family in over 60-years since the rise of Castro, and has also told us stories of the horrible conditions that people are living in Cuba.
Not only my Grandmother, but my Freshman year Spanish Professor is also from Cuba and she tells us the horrible conditions that Cubans face. She tells us that ever since the embargo was lifted and people are able to travel there – tourists are only able to speak to Cuban residents that the government allows the contact with (residents who are loyal to the Castro family). She says that the Cuban government has transformed the tourist areas into a “fake world” so that we think that the conditions that are lived in Cuba are not as bad as we would have thought. I am planning on sending her the film in hopes that she watches it and tells me her opinions of it.
In the film, Ramos says that Cubans are able to travel at free will. But what was not said in the film is that there are certain restrictions that must be met in order for them to be able to leave. There is more to the story than what was portrayed throughout the film. I did not agree with Ramos when she said that “Castro is a genius” and goes on to praise his work.
When I spoke to my Grandmother about what I saw in the film, she first asked me her age and I told her that she looked younger. That was when my Grandmother understood why Ramos thought that way. My Grandmother believes that Ramos grew up in that system, and she grew up not working and having the government hand her everything. It is the system that she knows, and when she was able to see capitalism that is when she was able to criticize the other system.
Although I have never been to Cuba, I have only heard stories of the conditions that are there. I hope to go there one day to be able to see it one-on-one. I did not like this film.