You must read it all -- poor Cubans!-- but here's a taste.
hortly before I left Havana, I met a Cuban-American man and his wife visiting from Miami. “Is this your first time here?” he asked. I nodded. “What do you think?” I paused before answering. I wasn’t worried that I would offend him. He lives in Miami, so his opinions of Cuba are probably little different from mine. But we were in a crowded place. Plenty of Cubans could hear us, including the police. They wouldn’t arrest me if I insulted the government, but I didn’t want to make a scene, either. “Well,” I finally said. “It’s . . . interesting.” He belted out a great belly laugh, and I smiled. His wife scowled.
“I hate this place!” she near-shouted. Fidel himself could have heard, and she wouldn’t have cared. She wasn’t going to be quiet about it. Tourists who visit Cuba and spend all their time inside the bubble for the “haves” could leave the country oblivious to the savage inequalities and squalor beyond the hotel zone, but this woman visits her husband’s family in the real Cuba and knows what it’s really like.
“His family is from here,” she said, “but mine’s not, and I will never come back here. Not while it’s like this. I feel like I’m in Iraq or Afghanistan.” I visited Iraq seven times during the war and didn’t have the heart to tell her that Baghdad, while ugly and dangerous, is vastly freer and more prosperous these days than Havana.
What most caught my eye was this passage, for what it reveals about how institutional corruption corrupts everyone trapped in the system:
Even things as simple as cooking oil and soap are black-market goods. Individuals who, by some illegal means or another, manage to acquire such desirables will stand on street corners and whisper “cooking oil” or “sugar” to passersby, and then sell the product on the sly out of their living room. If they’re caught, both sellers and buyers will be arrested, of course, but the authorities can’t put the entire country in jail. “Everyone cheats,” says Eire. “One must in order to survive. The verb Ωto steal≈ has almost vanished from usage. Breaking the rules is necessary. Resolví mi problema, which means ‘I solved my problem,’ is the Cuban way of referring to stealing or cheating or selling on the black market.”
Think about that. The verb "to steal" has vanished from use.