Cuba, the most interesting country

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July 28, 2018 – Lincoln Journal Star

I love to travel, and, as a Realtor, I am curious about property ownership and sales in the countries I visit.

As my son’s graduation gift, Jack and I chose Cuba as our destination. After jumping through hoops, we got permission to go. Under current U.S. policies, trade and travel are either impossible or difficult.

After two weeks in Cuba, here are some observations.

Cuba is very poor, if you use our capitalist standards. The average Cuban works for the state and makes $20 a month. A doctor or engineer might make $40.00 per month. However, health care and education are free. Housing and food are mostly subsidized.

Cuba is the safest place I have ever been, including Lincoln. There are virtually no guns, drugs or gangs. Anger is rare. Cuba has a higher literacy rate and general education than even the U.S. There are more doctors per capita than here. Families are strong, and people seem happy.

Yet, Cuba is changing. One recent change is the ability to start a personal business. These are mostly limited to driving a taxi (if lucky enough to have a car), run a small restaurant or turn your house into a casa particular (room for rent). We never paid more than $15 a night for a room. That same physician who makes $40 a month might drive a taxi on her time off and make $40 or more a day.

This is the first country I’ve visited where I didn’t see a single house-for-sale sign or real estate office. In fact, after a few attempts of explaining what I do for a living, I gave up, and just told people I repair bicycles (my former career and now volunteer passion).

The Cuban government is passing laws that might slowly change all this. The political, social and economic upheavals and policies of countries including the United States and Russia have all had an impact on Cuba. As these relationships slowly change hopefully for the better, so will Cuba, and so will the potential to buy and sell real estate in Cuba.

It will be a slow change, but maybe someday my son will be a real estate agent in this beautiful land full of happy people.

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