Travels to Cuba and beyond

 
This week we were treated to an interesting travelogue by Chris Edwards who undertook a journey from Florida to Cuba and then on to Columbia.
 
After a confusing start Chris and his wife finally departed on their holiday and arrived in Florida and began their adventure exploring the wetlands. They saw examples of American wildlife including alligators and bird life such as bald eagles. Moving on they visited Disneyland in Daytona and also saw what is billed as the world’s most famous beach (they were not convinced) before visiting a gun shop which was more like a huge supermarket.
 
It is not possible to go direct to Cuba from the US and so they boarded a small cruise ship and sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas and then on to Cuba.
 
Cuba has a chequered history. It was invaded by the Spanish in 1492 and after 400 years of Spanish dominance Cuba was eventually put under American control following the Spanish American war in 1898. Cuba gained Independence in 1902 but 40 years later in 1952 Dictator Fulgencio Batista gained control with American backing. In 1958 he was overthrown after a Revolution and this heralded the first appearance of Fidel Castro as Prime Minister.
 
At this point the US imposed an embargo on arms to Cuba followed in 1960 by all goods except food and medicine. In 1962 the embargo was extended and included food and medicine. These embargos were placed to make life so miserable for the Cubans that they would overthrow the Castro lead Government. Obama eased travel restrictions to Cuba but Trump put them back. There are a lot of exiled Cuban expats in Florida and their vote is critical and they want the embargos to continue.
In 1976 Fidel Castro who had formed the Communist Party in Cuba with the help of Che Geuvara became President until ill health forced him to resign in 2008.
 
Chris showed us slides of places of interest in Cuban cities that they visited. The capital Havana is a vibrant city with friendly and very musical people. The Embargo has caused many buildings to be in a state of disrepair. There are many interesting buildings, churches and revolution squares in all the places they went. The transport everywhere is old as evidenced by many old cars and even horse drawn transport.
 
Cuba needs tourism as its only exports are cigars and sugar. Its economy is weak and relations with Washington are deteriorating. The new President is Miguel Diaz-Canel and the Secretary of the Communist Party is Rual Castro. Being a Communist State Cuba has full employment.
After visiting Cuba they went on to Columbia and then Panama before returning to Australia via the United States.
 
A most interesting and informative evening and after many questions Peter Griffiths gave the Vote of Thanks and presented Chris with a bottle of wine.