WSJ Romanticizing Cuba



The other day I received the Wall Street Journal’s style magazine with my daily paper. I usually just glance through it, because it’s clearly aimed at people who can afford $2,000 handbags. The only reason I didn’t throw it away was a piece about Ernest Hemingway’s love affair with Cuba. I wondered if it would mention what Cuba has become.

Well, color me disappointed. It was mostly about the beloved author whose books I never really got. Old Man and the Sea? As much as I love the ocean, I’m more a fan of looking at it and listening to it than I am sailing on it. But anyway, the piece was mostly about Hemingway’s life. He drank a lot, got divorced and remarried a few times, screwed around, yada yada yada. Most of it was a romantic look at Cuba pre-revolution. Then there was the picture above of Hemingway shaking hands with Fidel Castro after he won a fishing competition Hemingway sponsored in 1960. The only knock on what Cuba has become was this:

Fishing provided the only occasion for Hemingway to meet Fidel Castro. In 1960, Cuba’s new leader entered a fishing contest sponsored by the author. Off a harbor west of Havana, where sailboats from all over the world (including a few illicitly from Florida) now dock at the renamed Marina Hemingway, Castro caught a 54-pound marlin, winning the competition. Afterward, Hemingway himself presented Castro with his trophy. Castro claimed to have kept a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls in his backpack while engaged in guerilla fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains. But the conversation didn’t go far.

“I’ve always regretted the fact that I didn’t… talk to him about everything under the sun,” Castro said later. “We only talked about the fish.” As relations between Cuba and the U.S. became increasingly strained, Hemingway was encouraged by American officials to leave lest he be seen as a Castro supporter. “He was very sympathetic to the revolution in Cuba until things got too difficult,” recounts Patrick. “I don’t think he had much respect for Castro. When he left, he knew he would never be returning. And that depressed him greatly.”

After that comes Hemingway shooting himself in Idaho. I guess they wanted to leave it to the imagination of the readers to wonder “If not for the communist revolution in Cuba would Hemingway have offed himself?”

But then it leads you to believe that the only problem in Cuba is the embargo. Seriously.

And so Hemingway’s Cuban heritage rolls on, sometimes literally, waiting to be rediscovered by compatriots who are so close, but still an embargo away.

Yeah, that’s the problem, an embargo. Pardon me while I vomit.

The piece did note that through an agreement between the US and Cuba a group of historians and preservationists from the US are allowed to restore Hemingway’s Cuban house. Gee, why do you think the Cubans needed help with that? It’s not like they aren’t claiming Hemingway as their own. Could it be that with their rotten communist government nobody has the funds to preserve the property?

Hemmingway’s old Cuban dwelling outside Havana also has not escaped the decay of communism’s lack of incentive and general maintenance

Oh well, never mind that. Pointing out the obvious shortcomings (to put it mildly) of communism is just so passe.

The whole piece was totally disappointing. But what do you expect? The magazine is aimed at the 1%. Communism isn’t for them, it’s for the rest of us.