Hitch hiking in Cuba (amplified)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at enet.cu
Wed Jul 30 09:34:36 MDT 2003

I've added a few words to complete my
thought on this from what went out before.

Every day here in Cuba you can see women
(mostly) of all ages hitching in complete and
total safety. They stand on the side of the
roads with their thumbs out, or when traffic
is stopped, they walk directly up to drivers
and tell them where they are going and get
rides. Hitching is a normal and everyday
experience here.

No one reports harassment and if it were to
happened, word would get out either on the
regular media or the pervasive Radio Bemba
(as the Cuban equivalent of the grapevine is
known). I'm sure the guys will flirt with these
women a little bit as the "piropo", the cute
flirtatious remark is a national sport here on
the island. Here in Cuba I've seen soldiers
and staffers from the Ministry of the Interior
hitching rides. There is no danger to women
in Cuba from these activities, from what I've
seen and been told by many others.

Not long ago, with transportation being a
terrible problem here, the official policy of
encouraging ride-sharing was increased.
Now we find government employees here
in blue uniforms and with clipboards with
lists of the destinations of people who wait
on line. They stop government-owned cars
and ask the drivers to give people a lift.

Can you imagine this happening in any
capitalist country on the planet? It would
be inconceivable in a country like the US,
which has set itself up as the judge of
how Cuba should organize its social and
political life.

This simple life experience doesn't jibe with
the description of the island as a hell for
women or the rest of the Cuban people as
the anti-Cuban US media, echoed on the
left sometimes, tries to convince people.

Of course, Cuba has a macho culture.
Men definitely dominate the leadership
of the party and the Revolution, and yet
violence against women is all but unknown
on the island.


----- Original Message -----
From: <nfredman at scu.edu.au>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 11:00 PM
Subject: Re: Hitching

>Cuba was cited as a good place to
hitchhike as it was officially encouraged

When I was in Cuba in 1993, one thing that reinforced the
non-bureaucratic caste nature of the regime for me was
seeing a soldier, who from the amount of spaghetti on his
shoulders looked like an officer, patiently waiting with
everyone one else at a hitching point. Not likely to happen
in a capitalist or Stalinist regime.

I now live in an area (north coast NSW, Aust.) with high
unemployment, relatively high proportion of uni students,
nice things to see outside the main population centres but
almost zero public transport, and a history of "alternative"
culture, so understandably hitching is quite common. The
student union has organised a hitching point outside the
university gate, and I'd often give several rides a week
from there or going between the town and the beach. This is
often seen by those with jobs and cars who are happy to give
lifts as a redistributive measure (maybe in terms of karma
rather than social obligation, but anyway).

However the area was shocked several years ago when an older
indigenous women was brutally raped and murdered while,
presumably, hitching. Maybe growing awareness of violence
against women (and/or apprehension about social violence in
general) is one reason for the decline in hitching (e.g.
since then my partner won't pick up men by themselves).

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