|GAA operate two good value tours of Cuba visiting the highlights and experiencing the out-of-time delights of this changing world:
Salsa Cubana (15 days)| Cuba Family Discovery (11 days)
A half-century ago, on Jan. 1, 1959, Fidel Castro brought down the curtain on Fulgencio Batista’s right-wing dictatorship in Cuba. America’s cavorting, and its commerce, ceased. Miami became Cuba’s second city as, over the years, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled Communist rule.
Cuba as a country has been seemingly locked in time since its revolution. But through a labyrinth of rations, regulations, two currencies and four markets (peso, hard currency, agro and black), people make their way, though the going is hard. The world economic crisis plunged Cuba into an abyss not seen since the years after the Soviet Union collapsed. Before that, the island of 11 million people suffered decades of economic deterioration.
The ailing Mr. Castro handed over the presidency to his younger brother,Raúl, in 2008. Since officially taking over, the younger Castro has offeredblunt assessments of Cuba’s condition and begun to push for economic reforms.
But by the summer of 2012, two years into an overhaul aimed at slashing public payrolls and bolstering private enterprise, the reforms had slowed so much that many Cuban entrepreneurs and intellectuals were questioning the aging leadership’s ability — or will — to reshape one of the world’s last Communist systems and shift nearly half of the island’s output to private hands.
Since the Cuban government began allowing people to open businesses in late 2010, nearly a quarter of a million of them opted to work for themselves, opening restaurants, snack bars and makeshift shops, driving taxis and fixing cellphones. Cubans were also buying and selling homes and cars among themselves for the first time in 50 years.