Advice sought

Hi all,

I am a newly qualified TEFL/TESOL instructor and I wondered if there are any opportunities to teach English as a foreign language in Cuba.  I would love to be able to live and work there.

Thank you in advance for reading my post.

Kind regards,
Isabel

Isabella, you can give up any thought of working in Cuba. Firstly you are a foreigner and not eligible. Secondly if you have a Master's degree and twenty five years full-time teaching experience your annual earnings would be the equivalent of about $380 per year - yes, per YEAR!
You don't say how much time you have spent in Cuba, but if it has been for example a visit to a tourist resort (Varadero, Cayo Coco, Holquin etc.) then you have not seen real Cuba which can be described in one word - crumbling. There is desperate poverty, no freedom of speech, no independent media - TV, radio and the press are all state controlled and criticism of the regime is an offence.
My qualifications for saying this are that I am married to a Cuban schoolteacher and our home is in Cuba. I can respond just now because I am currently in Canada - I go home in less than a month, but when in Cuba I cannot access the Internet.
Edinburgh may be a touch chilly at times - I remember playing at Murrayfield - but whether independent or not, it is in a free country not a communist dictatorship.
Cuba is a very beautiful country with very nice people and I hope you will visit it as often as you can afford. But my advice is to try a country such as Belize to gain the experience you seek. Good Luck!

Thank you for your helpful advice.  Perhaps I had the romanticised view of Cuba.  I will, as you suggest, try Belize.

I wish you well on your return to Cuba.

Kind regards to you and your wife.
Isabel

MacDuff, If you don't mind me asking ..... which part of Cuba are you in?  We are moving to Ciego at the end of this month & it would be wonderful to speak some English with a fellow Canadian :)

Hi CubanLover & fellow Canadian,
I am not willing to answer your question on this site, but would by direct e-mail!
My reason is to protect my wife, who as a Cuban is listed in the regime computerized program - I for undisclosed reasons have seen four pages which included our date of marriage. In Canada retention of much of the information would be illegal.
Congratulations upon moving to Cuba, it is a wonderful country and we are very happy in our home. I do the shopping and some of the cooking and my wife works very hard in a very responsible position.
I shall be hot on your heels in my time of return home.
MacDuff

Hi again Cuban Lover,

I just checked Ciego (the town) on Google map. You are a long way from our home town, but it too is on the Carretera Central but west of Habana.
MacDuff

Short answer NO

MacDuff,
You can email me at [email protected]
It's cheesy but it works.

I have yet to get a Cuban cell account but can give you that info once it's set up.  Container comes today ........ I knew I was the only caunck in Cuba but sometimes it feels like it!  Glad to know I'm not alone in this wild adventure.

Hello guys... I'm a little confused cubanlover.. are you in Canada or Cuba?  MacDuff you just moved to Cuba?  How long can you stay?   How complicated is it to get the visa to stay 6 months.. Is that the longest one can stay? 

I am booking a last minute trip to Havana .. just for a week. I have been 7 times but mostly touristy areas.. I want to learn more about the culture.. and I want to learn to speak spanish.. I will check out what you have advised cuban lover.  It somunds like an interesting way to learn.. being hte 3rd student.

good luck and many blessings on your lives in Cuba.

livin

When in Cuba with a bunch of scholars for an AGM we held there - out in the coutryside, not in Habana, I met my wife to be and three years later we married. It's now been four years since that happy event and I spend more than half the year at home in Cuba (I hope you accept that where ones wife and dog are is home!).
If you wish to learn Spanish, my best advice is to get on to Amazon and purchase Michel Thomas  Speak Spanish   The first two CD's are named:  get started kit           and the next eight are entitled:      for beginners
Those ten come in one folder - its a good one - and if I recall correctly cost under $50 delivered. When you have absorbed those there are some follow ups, but those will enable you to get around. I like you am aware of the very much overpriced Rossetta Stone, but I found Michel Thomas very good and I didn't have a word of Spanish - I do the shopping when in Cuba and my wife and I converse in Spanish.
I used to require a personal visa costing $128 each time, but almost two years ago Raul Delgado Concepcion the deputy consul in Toronto called to say I could in future just use a tourist visa - the one you get on the plane. But, if you stay longer (limit six months) you have to renew the visa at the local licensing office in Cuba (charge 25CUC). I go twice per year, having a condo in Canada where my wife comes for her summer vacation - she is a schoolteacher.

1sabe11a wrote:

Perhaps I had the romanticised view of Cuba.  I will, as you suggest, try Belize.

Actually, you can find a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle most places in the Caribbean. Where we live (Cayman Islands) is not for everybody, but we've lived here for 36 years now, and have visited several of the other Islands. We could happily live in most of them - and Bahamas and Turks & Caicos too, which aren't quite in the Caribbean. You might find TEFL work in one of the Dutch islands, Isabella. Good luck.

Hi Gordon,
My suggestion of Belize was taking into account the cost of living including rental or purchasing prices of accommodation. If Isabella is like most newly qualified folks, she will I imagine be financially stretched. Cuba is low cost, but the politics are complex and there is no work there for foreigners. So many of the Caribbean Islands are now havens for the rich and both prices of accommodation and other necessities are high. I believe that Equador is reasonable but there is the language challenge compared with Belize. Back about fifty odd years ago it was suggested to me that I should go and manage a turtle farm in the Caymans, when I believe the population was pretty low. At that time it was pretty isolated. I see that you have lived there a long time.

Thank you for your advice.

MacDuff wrote:

Back about fifty odd years ago it was suggested to me that I should go and manage a turtle farm in the Caymans, when I believe the population was pretty low. At that time it was pretty isolated. I see that you have lived there a long time.

MacDuff - Oh how I wish you'd come and managed the damn turtle farm, way back then! Government took it over, and it's been a haven for political cronies ever since, pretty much. It currently loses about $500K a month, and has done for years. Its corruption and general wastefulness have helped to put our government in a terrible fiscal position, to the point where the British FCO has had to send some of its accountants over. Oh well, this has nothing to do with Cuba, so my apologies to all the Cuba folk. We might carry this conversation over to the Cayman forum, if you like - although there's not much to say about our turtle farm besides what I've just said!

Too late now! But Gordon I do find in your comments a link with Cuba. You say that the turtle farm loses money has been taken over by the government and is a haven for political cronies. Just imagine what Cuba is like having had everything taken over by the government for which read 'Castro family regime. A country where the military has a commercial arm GAESA with a subsidiary named Gaviota SA. Gaviota controls 26,000 of the hotel rooms and is intent on constructing a further 14,000 in the period 2015-17. It owns over 40% of the shops and most of the gas stations. Another interesting company is ETECSA - the monopoly telephone system which includes e-mail. Both Gaviota and ETECSA are run by General Rodriguez son-in-law of President Raul Castro Ruz. 27% of ETECSA was purchased from Italian investors for $709 million by RAFIN SA (Raul and Fidel). It is calculated that the described combination controls over 80% of Cuba's economy. And you are concerned about a turtle farm?

MacDuff wrote:

And you are concerned about a turtle farm?

Yes, it certainly is a trivial concern, in the context of the totalitarian Cuban bureaucracy. Still, as I'm fond of saying: Cayman is a very small place (total population 50,000), and if we can't solve our problems, there's no hope for the world.

Gordon,  I don't think the turtle farm eg was trivial to the Caymens..  Nothing we have to share is trivial..  Mac,Duff maybe cut the edges..I hear your frustration over Cuba.. and you rpassion and people are only passionate about what they deeply care about...  You have a wealth of knowledge we could all learn from.. I am new here and have tried to read as many topics as possible, and I was thinking it may serve Cuba better to encourage rather discourage.. to perhaps turn folks away by pointing out all the problems .. these problems could be challenges..  Of course it is great you apprise folk of the obstacles they coiuld be facing, but don't scare them away.. Just one new idea, from the right person can change the world.. maybe I am a little naive, but I awould rather be hopefully optimistic in what the next generation may do..than so negative.. I think all of us who have been there know the harshness of the daily Cuban existance..

I am no expert and I do appreciate your sharing with us this knowledge...

livin.

Wonderful response Gordon! To use a Churchillian phrase:
"Go to it."

You are correct in detecting my passion about Cuba. It is because having the opportunity I have to study the country and its people in depth, I have become frustrated by seeing valuable lives and talents being whittled away and dictatorially controlled by a repressive regime. Just look around at the people we know in our own countries of origin, at the freedom to pursue careers of their choice, the freedom to openly discuss their opinions and views, their ability to contribute to society, the freedom that I am expressing as I write this. Cubans are just as intelligent as us, they too would like to pursue their dreams, they too as parents wish to provide their children with a comfortable home and a brighter future.
This is denied to them by the purported "Socialismo" of the Castro family regime. Cubans in weary consequence respond as they trip over the holes in the streets or wait for 45 minutes at the Empresa to buy a 200 gm loaf of bread for 5 pesos, or as they prop up the crumbling ceiling with a piece of timber, just say:  "Es Cuba".

MacDuff wrote:

This is denied to them by the purported "Socialismo"; of the Castro family regime. Cubans in weary consequence respond as they trip over the holes in the streets or wait for 45 minutes at the Empresa to buy a 200 gm loaf of bread for 5 pesos, or as they prop up the crumbling ceiling with a piece of timber, just say:  "Es Cuba".

To be fair, the DR is equally run-down and frustrating, I gather. There's an entertaining and fascinating blog by an English woman living there, married to a Dominicano, that you might enjoy reading. It's "What about your saucepans?" which comes up on Google when you search for those words. My own experience of Cuba is limited to "a weekend in Cuba" (which you can also find on Google by typing that title - 7th item from the top), which was spent almost entirely in the tarted-up old city centre. Of course I am fully aware that it's not in the least representative of Cuba as a whole, and I would never claim it is! But it was fun.

Gordon,

I've read the blog by Lindsay, the english woman who immigrated to the DR..and wrote that book W. A.Y. Saucepans... She has so many funny stories of getting use to life in the DR.  It does sound like the DR living conditions are comparable to Cuba.. as is Haiti ..  One big difference is there are big drug problems in the DR that is not present in Cuba..  That is my big prayer, that Cuba is spared.. that no matter what else changes over time drugs will not find their way in..

Also I get it about the internet or lack thereof in Cuba  being a problem, but on the ohter hand, didn't we get on fine as a world before the internet.. the internet does good, but it is also a venue for much corruption.  If the internet ever crashed in a major way, who would fare better?   I can't help that I like it when I am there and see kids playing in the streets and not hooked up to technology..it's not even just technology, but we can't let our kids play in the street anymore... it's not all roses here.. 

livin

Hummmm without opening to an endless political discussion I still believe that the revolution was necessary and I think that Cuba would have lost its identity if not worse if the americans would have continued its colianism. Unfortunately the socialist revolution was tought and conducted by intellectuals centered on themselves putting slowly the people aside to attain their own means. Putting aside el Che didnt help. But I am confident that after the Castro regime Cuba wont have the choice but open up to the world, its basically a question of survival. Even now some changes appeared with the coming of Raoul, small but significent. Even the 2 pesos will merge shortly... I heard.

Majito. I fear there will be hell to pay when the Communist system does collapse. The Batista gangsters in Florida will swarm in and claim all their families' property back. That's what happened in Eastern Europe when Communism collapsed there. It will be a lawyers' dream! So most people buying property now will have difficulty proving legitimate title, when the regime changes.

Majito, you opened the box!
Firstly I agree with you that a revolution was necessary in Cuba. My understanding of history is that the purpose of most revolutions was to remove dictatorship (or the rights of kings) in order to provide liberty for the people. So let's just look at that in Cuba.
In 1952, Fidel Castro Ruz (hereafter Fidel) was a candidate for the Orthodox Party.
In 1953 (the much heralded July 26) he led an abortive attack on the Moncado Barracks in Santiago. Subsequently many of the participants were executed, but both Fidel and Raul Castro Ruz (hereafter Raul) his younger little brother, were tried and imprisoned for fifteen years. Fidel as a qualified lawyer gave in his own defence a speech which he himself later re-wrote under the title "History will absolve me."
When imprisoned the supposedly wicked Batista granted an amnesty after two years and both brothers were released. They went to Mexico where Raul already a communist, inroduced Fidel to Dr, Ernesto Guevara (hereafter referred to by his nickname of Che).
Eventually they got a boat 'Granma'and set off for Cuba.
Having arrived in Cuba, there was a battle in a sugar field and only 13 of the original 87 people survived, strangely including Fidel, Raul and Che. They went up into the mountains.
Let us now progress to 1958/59.
On January 1, 1959, Batista left Havana by air for the Dominican Republic taking a reprted $40 million in convertible currency with him and leaving his colleagues to their fate. (They got shot without trial at El Morro (356) in Havana under the supervision of Che and at Santiago (78 in one day) under the supervision of Raul. Raul when questione later said: "They had nothing to complain about they had the services of a priest" Batista probably regretted that he gave a trial for the Castros- they were not similarly law abiding and merciful.
On January 2, Fidel descended to Santiago to give an address from the balcony of the City Hall. During it he said:
"Power does not interest me and I will not take it."
On 16 February Fidel displaced he newly appointed Miro Cardona as Prime Minister.
Fidel then said:
"Revolution first, elections later."
On April 25, 1959 Fidel said:
"I don't agree with communism. We are a democracy. We are against all kinds of dictators. That is why we oppose communism."
On September 28, 1960 Fidel announced the formation of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR). He said:
"It is a collective system of revolutionary vigilance established so that everybody knows who lives on every block, what they do on every block, what relations they have had with the tyranny, in what activities are they involved and with whom they meet." (The current head of the Cuban Intelligence Service which controls the CDR is Alejandro Castro Espin, son of Raul and who within the last year has met in Moscow with his Russian opposite number). They have a file for every Cuban and by odd chance I saw that of my wife. Four pages including a photograph and even the date of our marriage.
At the end of 1960 all newspapers were closed down.
On May 1, 1961 Fidel declared Cuba a socialist state and officially abolished multi-party elections.
Since the revolution little brother Raul has been Head of the Military. During the fifty five years that he has held the post, the Cuban military has become deeply involved in business and now through GAESA, controls about 80% of Cuba's economy. This includes over 40% of all shops (trading in hard currency only), most garages, 26,000 hotel bedrooms (with 14,000 more planned for 2015-2017), This economic empire is headed by General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, son-in-law of Raul, being married to Deborah Castro Espin.
The Castro family regime holds the power in Cuba. Raul has appointed Diaz-Canel to be his successor as President and Diaz-Canel will have Murillo the economist and Rodriguez the Minister for Overseas as hencemen. But they will be merely the public face of the Castro family regime.
Does the family have wealth? Well RAFIN SA (Raul % Fidel) paid $709 million for the 27% Italian shareholding in ETECSA the Cuban telephonic monopoly. Eight years ago Forbes Magazine - which although an American publication is accepted as an authority estimated Fidel's worth at $550 million. But if socialists dismiss Forbes estimate they must necessarliy dismiss all the other estimates.
It is my long considered view that if Fidel had established a free democratic country with probably an initial period of not more than 5-6 years of control prior to  holding free elections, he would have been elected as President for many years. He would have held a place in world history comparable or even exceeding that of Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. But power (el poder) held sway and that desire to control! To control from birth to death the lives of all others in his country. Consequently he and his little brother have constructed a repressive regime which after fifty five years still subjects its subjects to food rationing, no access to free media and walls that have ears (CDR).
How I wish that everyday Cubans were able for example to contribute to this site, but more particularly to use their talents and abilities, to be able to look for a better future for their children and for a free democratic Cuba in which they coiuld prosper.
You opened the box and I thank you for doing so!

Thanking you for this very interesting contribution to the site MacDuff. I put aside the historic reminder since I knew it generally, but for the contempory aspect of the ''thing''. I took only a peek at the cuban reality when I decided to go to La Habana instead of the boring pens of the cayos. I remember a single flash happening when I was in a hotel on internet. I tried to get on the Revolico site (which is the pendant of Craigslist). I couldn't!!! So I realized that only a few could have access to it, the richs and the powerfuls, not the people. But after all, isn't it the same reality elsewhere? Moscow is one of the more costly capitals in the world, the richs have a very good life in China. Why could Cuba be different? I am feeling that you have a very sad view upon the cuban people and then why return there? You cant call it home if you are not comfortable intellectually.... Maybe after living there a few months I will desire a fast revolution but changes take time and time and time.
In a more optimistic view take a look at Generación Y a blog written by Yoani Sánchez (http://generacionyen.wordpress.com/) who, from La Habana, has more than a criticism writing about the cuban regime. I dont know how she can do it without repression nor if its a form of disinformation, but she is read and praised all over the world.
Maybe we could help the cubans living around us, with the knowledge that we acquired, not much maybe but real...

Majito wrote:

Thanking you for this very interesting contribution to the site MacDuff. I put aside the historic reminder since I knew it generally, but for the contempory aspect of the ''thing''. I took only a peek at the cuban reality when I decided to go to La Habana instead of the boring pens of the cayos. I remember a single flash happening when I was in a hotel on internet. I tried to get on the Revolico site (which is the pendant of Craigslist). I couldn't!!! So I realized that only a few could have access to it, the richs and the powerfuls, not the people. But after all, isn't it the same reality elsewhere? Moscow is one of the more costly capitals in the world, the richs have a very good life in China. Why could Cuba be different? I am feeling that you have a very sad view upon the cuban people and then why return there? You cant call it home if you are not comfortable intellectually.... Maybe after living there a few months I will desire a fast revolution but changes take time and time and time.
In a more optimistic view take a look at Generación Y a blog written by Yoani Sánchez (http://generacionyen.wordpress.com/) who, from La Habana, has more than a criticism writing about the cuban regime. I dont know how she can do it without repression nor if its a form of disinformation, but she is read and praised all over the world.
Maybe we could help the cubans living around us, with the knowledge that we acquired, not much maybe but real...

Yoani does get picked up and beaten sometimes for her actions...

Thanks, then I respect her more deeply, she has the courage of her people

In case anybody is wondering why a Cayman resident is so interested in Cuba... In the early years following Castro's takeover, many English-speaking residents of The Isle of Pines left their homes and settled in Cayman - which is where they had close family relatives.

Also, today Cayman is one of the first places Cuban boat-people head for. By a notorious contract between Britain and Cuba, our local authorities aren't allowed to give passing refugees (many of the craft that that pass by us can scarcely be called "boats") food, fuel, medicines or mechanical help. Indeed, any refugees that set foot on Cayman are imprisoned and flown back to Cuba. An English journalist and I kicked up such a public fuss about the inhumanity of the British policy that quiet words have since been passed to the local Police to allow help to be given to refugees as long as they stay on board their craft. It's not much, but it's better than nothing - and (regrettably) it's as much as we could have achieved.

My view of the people of Cuba is that they are resiliant and resourceful displaying tremendous fortiude. Cuba is now my home where my wife lives and teaches. Let me give an illustration of why I care so much. I have a God-daughter of three years of age. As a member of a Cuban family with 68 relatives, I was in the local hospital at 2.30 a.m. when our niece gave birth to the child. The niece has five years of University education and until becoming a mother (she now also has a one year old girl) was a teacher. The father works in security and their family income now is his earnings which are a liitle above Cuban average, their home has two rooms and they consider themselves fortunate as they don't have to live with either's parents or grandparents, for in general there are three or four generations in a two bedroom home in Cuba. We have a comfortable home and the niece does her clothes washing and drying there. For transportation they have a bicycle with a small wooden seat on the crossbar where my God-daughter sits and the mother balances herself on the pannier holding the one year old whilst the father provides the energy. I am extremely fond of the mother who is highly intelligent - through good fortune I have mixed in life with some people recognized for their talents and in consequence am  speaking with some qualification.
I could now never walk away from Cuba. I love the country and its people who plan and live for tomorrow with no long term planning. But if the talents and abilities of the Cuban people could be released my God-child could have a much better brighter future.
When I wrote the blog you were kind enough to acknowledge, I was trying to set the record straight with all the contradictions of Fidel. I could have in "defense" have added that the US cutting off the sugar supply almost compelled Fidel to embrace the USSR, but I think that by that time he had already fully developed the thirst for power and recognition.
Intellectually I am stimulated by conversations and discussions with some talented people. Firstly my wife who holds a significant role in education in the community, but also people like a young fellow of about 35 who speaks English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish. A man of my own generation who makes his guitar sing. To sit in a courtyard at night under the star lit sky listening to him play and our local vet, another friend sing, is heavenly.
We have sufficient income to be comfortable but are careful not to display the differences too openly. Hope that answers your point.

I'm afraid that the latest figures I have for the Castro regimes creditors are for 2005. But at that time their hard currency debt was $15.438 billion and heir Non- converible debt was $22.069 billion (est). (from the Soviet era) However the hard currency debt included $366 million to the United Kingdom!
I too can only deplore the UK government attitude towards those Cubans with sufficient courage to endeavor to reach freedom on the high seas. But for interest when UK pensioners go and live in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to be near their children and grandchildren, they no longer get increments on their state pensions, but if they move to the US they do. The UK Government (of all parties) is parsimonious in the extreme. In Canada there are examples of decorated British Military veterans in their nineties, that would be in penury were it not for Canadian and family support. So my guess is that the skulkers of Westminster lacking intestinal fortitude have their beady eyes on that $366 million.

So I read between the lines that you are a happy man! I hope to meet you some day while I am there to share our experience.... you can always contact me amigo

Yes, Majito very happy and very fortunate. Yes, I would I think enjoy meeting as we both appear to possess curiosity!
Being originally a Scot, I have a natural affiliation through the "Auld Alliance" with the French and for example regard de Champlain as the father of Canada anf have visited his birthplace at Brouage in the Charente Maritime and also Honfleur from where he sailed to Canada.

So, my friend (if I can pretend) I see that we have some ''affinités'' beside the last referéndum in Quebec in 1995 and the one from last week. I will forward the meeting, somewhere, somehow. Keep in touch I will be there this winter, but dont know when. If Enza can come in October I figure to be in Cuba around end of January, I dont figure draining my bones to the cold one more time. If she cant, well, I would be glad to celebrate New year together. Mi casa es su casa! Viajes bien pero ligeramente....

Majita, you may have noticed that I am very careful to minimise "tracers". This is to protect my wife - remember the CDR/Intelligence Service files. If you can think of a way to establish an off-site connection, I would like contact. I shall be in Cuba very shortly, back in Canada for just over two weeks and then back to Cuba. So I will be there in January. We usually go to Trinidad for the second week in January which is La Semana de Cultura and a wonderful week of music - from ballet, opera through to Afro-Cubano provided every night. That necessitates passing through Havana both ways.
I realise that at the moment your plans are up in the air.
I note with a degree of amusement that yesterday Alex Salmond was suggesting that the 'No'es' in Scotland had been duped by Westminster. Doesn't indicate much respect for the intelligence of over 2 million of his fellow citizens! Whereas the national vote was 55 No to 45 yes, in his own constituency it was 60 no to 40 yes. So I guess that his constituents in East Aberdeenshire are even more susceptible to political chicanery - it interests me because my origins lie in East Aberdeenshire and a great friend of mine stood against Salmond.

MacDuff that week in Trinidad sounds very interesting, if it worths the trip. Trinidad is a long way. So I imagine that you live west of La Habana.... No I dont know yet when I will be in Cuba, we are waiting for that visa, I feel like a wolf in a cage. I agree that at a certain point, conversations should be private: [email protected] redirects to a gmail address and even in Cuba I can access it.

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