Wednesday, July 17, 2019

We're all heading to Cuba

Today I'm joining Chris at Pear Shaped Crafting, our host this month at Art Journal Journey with her theme We're all/going.

Today we are headed to Cuba.  This is Cuba as we know it today.   However, many of us know little about Cuba because of its history.  We could go back as far as 1492 when the Arawak Indians inhabited Cuba when Columbus landed on the island.  The Arawak soon died from diseases brought by the sailors and settlers of Cuba.

In the early 1800s, Cuba's sugarcane industry boomed, requiring massive numbers of black slaves to harvest the canes.  After numerous uprisings, slavery was abolished in 1886.  An 1899 treaty made Cuba an independent republic under U.S. protection.  The U.S. occupation, which ended in 1902, accomplished two things.  It suppressed yellow fever and brought large American investments.

In 1933, a group of army officers, including Fulgencio Batista, overthrew President Gerardo Machado.  Batista became president in 1940, actively occupying and running a corrupt police state.

In 1956, Fidel Castro launched a revolution from his mountain camp.  Many anti-Batista landowners supported the rebels.  The U.S. ended military aid to Cuba in 1958, and on New Year's Day 1959, Batista fled into exile.  Castro then took over the government.

The U.S. initially welcomed what looked like a democratic Cuba, but within a few months, Castro jailed anyone he deemed a political opponent.  Castro got rid of Cuba's military pact with the U.S., confiscated U.S. assets, and established Soviet style collective farms.  The U.S. broke relations with Cuba on Jan. 3, 1961, the day Castro formalized his alliance with the Soviet Union.  It was at that time, thousands of Cubans fled the country.

Fast forward to February, 2008, when Fidel Castro ended 49 years of power by announcing his retirement. The 81-year-old, who ruled Cuba since leading the revolution in 1959, said he would not accept another term as president. Raul Castro succeeded his brother, becoming the 21st president of Cuba.

In March, 2009, the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the long-standing restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting Havana and sending money into the country.   In April, 2011, Cuba made the most significant change to its leadership in over 50 years, by appointing Jose Ramon Machado to fill the second-highest position in the Communist Party.  It was the first time since the 1959 revolution that someone other than the Castro brothers was named to the position.  The appointment was made at the party's first congress in 14 years and coincided with several changes being made to allow for more private enterprise in Cuba.  In October 2011, buying and selling cars became legal. Also, Raul Castro started allowing Cubans to go into business for themselves in a variety of approved jobs.

On October 16, 2012, the government announced that in early 2013 Cubans would no longer be required to have an exit visa when leaving the country.   President Raul Castro promised this new policy in 2011 to answer the rising demands for change by Cubans.

The new policy stated that as of January 13, 2013, Cubans could leave the country on vacations or forever.  They would only need a valid passport and a visa from the country of their destination.  It also stated that Cubans could stay abroad longer, up to two years before they lose their citizenship and benefits. However, the new policy also stated that Cubans could be stopped from leaving the country for "defense and national security" reasons. This part of the new law suggested that while Castro and the Cuban government were answering the demands for change, they were also maintaining tight control of political dissidents.

In December, 2014  President Obama announced that the U.S. would resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba, which included opening an embassy in Havana. There hadn't been any diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

With diplomatic relations restored, the ban for Americans traveling to Cuba was lifted.  Before December, 2014, Americans could only travel to Cuba with permission from the U.S. State Department.  After December, 2014, tourists from the U.S. still had to go as part of a religious, educational, or cultural group, but the lifted travel ban made it easier in other ways for Americans to visit Cuba. Internet access, an embassy, and the use of credit cards were soon available for the first time to assist Americans while in Cuba. Also, the U.S. government began allowing Americans to bring small quantities of items back from Cuba, including cigars.  Cuban cigar makers estimated that their sales would increase from $3 million to $6 million in 2015, due to the new rule.

In May, 2019, Cuba imposed rationing of staples such as eggs, rice, beans, soap, chicken, and other basic necessities.  Some believe it is because of the U.S. trade embargo, while others blame it on Venezuela's inability to provide much needed and expected aid.

We must visit Cuba, while we still have the opportunity to do so.  Our windows of opportunity, in my opinion, show signs of closing.

Let's pack our bags and head to Cuba while there is still time to visit.

The first place we should visit is 


Of course, no trip to Cuba would be complete without visiting Havana,

the capital of the country.

It is also the largest city on the island.

Santiago de Cuba is best known for its beaches, tourism, and hand rolled cigars.

Vinales and the Vinales valley, a protected area/region, are not to be missed.

For this page, I began with a used file folder that I spritzed with handmade shimmering mists.  When the mists were dry, I cut images from various travel brochures.  I then outlined each picture and wrote the name of the city as part of the frame.

Thanks for sticking with me through this brief and abbreviated history lesson on Cuba.  Thanks, too, for your kindness and support you show for my art.  I hope you will also join me at Art Journal Journey with your own We're all/going journal art.  

24 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

Lovely page. Cuba is indeed an interesting place, with lots to see. Have a fun day, Valerie

Mia said...

Simply beautiful, Elizabeth!

My name is Erika. said...

I think Cuba would be great to go to while it is still not quite so modernized-if that is the right word. Maybe not the right word but it would be an interesting place to visit. I love your page today with those old cars. I wonder how much longer they will be around on the island? Happy Wednesday.The background is great too. I love the color combo of your splatters. his page reminds me a lot of a photo/travel journal and I really like the edges nd writing on the sides of each photo. Happy Wednesday Hugs-Erika

RO said...

I agree. If at all possible, it would be wonderful to see Cuba before it's too late. Your artwork depicts the colors beautifully. I really enjoy how you share history with your art. Hugs, RO

CJ Kennedy said...

I think your page captures the vibrant colors and rhythm of the country.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Nice informative history of Cuba. The architecture is colorful and lovely. I like the vintage cars. I didn't realize they imposed rationing in May. That's around the same time as the attempted coup in Venezuela, so maybe Cuba is no longer receiving aid due to the turmoil in Venezuela.

Sami said...

A beautiful page Elizabeth with colour and history too.
Don't know if I'll ever have the opportunity to visit Cuba, so will have to delight myself with the pictures.

Cindy McMath said...

Lovely page - the colours are so brilliant. Even though I’ve never been to Cuba I recognized it right away - that gorgeous red car!

Divers and Sundry said...

It's a fascinating history. Your colorful piece shows why its a popular spot for adventurous tourists :)

froebelsternchen said...

Stunning Elizabeth, this background fits perfectly. What an amazing page for AJJ!
I love this Cuba page. MASTERFUL!
Susi xxx

kathyinozarks said...

Great page-and thanks for the history too-

da tabbies o trout towne said...

that's a nice piece Elizabeth; sad that they've taken to rationing :(


Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating info on Cuba. It looks beautiful, doesn't it? Loved your piece.

Meggymay said...

Thankyou for the introduction post about Cuba, it looks beautiful. A country that is not so well known about here unless its on TV in the news programs. I certainly didn't know about the rationing. How do they expect folk to cope with families. Its like the war years again when food was in short supply.
Yvonne xx

aussie aNNie said...

Fabulous, Cuba, wow that's so far away from here, almost non existent...interesting..

Cloudia said...

Sae Travels!

Linda said...

Have a good trip! The sugar industry was brutal.

Jeanie said...

You do such excellent research for your posts. This is fascinating. And I love your page as well.

sheila 77 said...

Great history lesson and beautifully written and so readable, really well done, Elizabeth. You would have made a wonderful school teacher. I wouldn't fall asleep during your lessons.
Somehow the cars say Cuba to me, but I expect all Cuban cars are not like that.
I very much like your layout with the splashes and also the way you have presented each photo. School books were never like that.

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

Beautiful colorful page, Elizabeth. Just perfect or the very colorful island.
I love the splattered background. Our son visited Cuba 10 years ago and was enchanted.

Eileen xx

pearshapedcrafting said...

I absolutely adore this page Elizabeth - the colours you chose are just perfect! Once again I enjoyed the information that make your posts outstanding I always learn so much! Thank you for your entry at AJJ and for supporting my theme! Hush, Chrisx

pearshapedcrafting said...

Whoops! 'Hugs, Chrisxx' that is!!!

Lowcarb team member said...

So colourful and interesting.

All the best Jan

Aimeslee Winans said...

Colorful art and very informative, Elizabeth, I enjoyed it! xoxo