Local professor recalls visit to Cuba

In the time that the United States has seen 10 presidents, the country of Cuba has had just one.

Fidel Castro took the reigns of Cuba in 1959. Only now has he resigned.

Castro earned the respect of Cuban citizens, and a reputation as being a thorn in the side of the United States.

“No matter what you feel about Castro and his policies, the idea that a small country like that within almost a stone's throw of the U.S. could stand up to the greatest superpower in the world and say, 'no, we're going to do it our own way,' you know, that is a source of national pride too,” said Paul Meyer Reimer, an Associate Professor at Goshen College.

Meyer Reimer lived in Cuba for 4 months back in 2003. He supervised a group of 15 students, as all learned some harsh lessons about socialism.

“The woman who was washing our clothes, she was washing our clothes cause she could make more money doing that for foreigners. She was trained as a nuclear engineer,” said Meyer Reimer.

“Everyone acknowledges that they are very frustrated with the rationing of food and the formal wages that the Government mandates are not enough to get by on.”

Meyer Reimer still isn’t sure that the level of dissatisfaction is enough to spark radical economic reforms in Cuba, given the level of respect for Castro.

“I don’t think it’s going to change very much,” Meyer Reimer said. “I don’t think until Fidel Castro passes away that there’s much of a chance for real radical change in Cuba.”

The Goshen College program that sent students to Cuba ran for three years, but ended in 2004 when the Cuban government cancelled student visas without warning or explanation.

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