News, Politics

Change Comes 55 Years After the Cuban Revolution

Map of Cuba. Image: the United States Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook
Map of Cuba. Image: the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook


Sirens. Security alarms. Sales pitches: “Taxi? Good restaurant! Best music CD? My art studio?”

These are the new sounds of Havana, Cuba.

This is my sixth time in Cuba–I am here on vacation.

This year, I hear and see change.

It is almost 55 years since Cuba became a socialist country. In Cuba, socialism means that each Cuban has the same rights, the same salary and the same education as everyone else in the country.

Fidel Castro, former President of Cuba, brought socialism to the country in 1959 when he and his rebel forces took over the government. At the time, they accused the government of letting American crime forces run the country while most of Cuba starved.

Now Cubans receive free education, free health care and most jobs have been protected by the government. Cuba has the highest rate of literacy (the ability to read and write) of  the Caribbean countries. But the Cuban government is running out of money to pay for everything.

Most of Cuba’s money comes from tourism but it’s not enough. Many roads, buildings and electrical services are in very bad shape.

Things have to change.

In 2008, Castro’s brother, Raul Castro took over as president of the country. But most people believe that Fidel Castro still makes many of the country’s decisions.Nancy Miller Cuba cab

Two years ago, Cubans found out that half a million workers would be let go from their government jobs. The jobs will be cut over the next five years. People are being told they can start a small business, but not everyone has the skills to do that.

These are big changes and they will lead to many other changes.

The new sounds of Cuba are just the beginning.

I’ll be listening.

By Kathleen Tilly and Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Re-read the first sentence: “Sirens. Security alarms. Sales pitches: ‘Taxi? Good restaurant! Best music CD? My art studio?’”

If these are the “new sounds” of Cuba, what do you think Cuba used to sound like? Why do you think the writer finds the sounds of sirens and sales pitches so unusual for Cuba?

Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
This article is a “column.” That means it’s one person’s opinion or experience of something. Take a look at the TKN news article from last week, “A New Meme: The Harlem Shake.” What are some of the differences between this “news story” and today’s “column”?

Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Grammar Feature: Sentence Lengths
This article contains many short sentences. Why do you think the author chose to write in this style? How do you think this article would be different if the author chose to only write long, descriptive paragraphs?