October 28, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the largest, yet unknown island in the Caribbean. His firsthand encounter with the gentle, balmy breezes, aromatic flowers, and melodic songs of the many birds in the treetops forced these words from his mouth, "Here, I would like to live forever!" Thus, one has a glimpse into the lushness of this tropical island. Today, that lushness is overshadowed by Communism. Overshadowed, but not eradicated, as the video highlights a country full of vibrant, proud people with a history and culture very much their own in a land full of natural wonders.
Cuba was settled by the Spanish who had hoped to get rich on its gold. The Spanish built fortresses along the six thousand kilometers of Cuba's coastline, hoping to deter plundering pirates. Once it was determined that gold was not abundant on the island, Spanish monarchs lost interest in Cuba. In October, 1868, the Cuban people revolted in an attempt to win independence from Spain. The attempt lost its fervor, but renewed in intensity in 1895. February, 1898, an American naval ship, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor under suspicious circumstances and the United States declared war on Spain. The Spanish American War lasted less than a year, but as part of the Peace Treaty, Spain had to withdraw from Cuba. In 1902, Cuba became a Republic. Absentee government was replaced by corrupt government. In 1933, Batista, a dictator, took control of the country. He was overthrown in 1958, by Castro, a charismatic young man whose dream was to help the plight of the poor people. He once told the people of Cuba, "There is no longer an enemy." However, it wasn't long before his radical reforms led the government into Communism.
One-fifth of Cuba's population live in Havana, the capital. Most of the activity takes place around the El Prado (city square), where people gather to play guitars, sing, dance, and enjoy each other's company. Americans would call it "chilling." Music is a major part of the Cuban's life. Cuban music has been influenced by the Spanish, and also by the Africans. Much of the rhythm is African in nature. The use of the maracas comes from Africa. Dancing is a nightly activity. The Tropicana nightclub is a hot spot for tourists and it once was frequented by American gangsters after World War I and during Prohibition.
Catholicism is the major religion of Cuba. However, due to the African influence, mysticism and voodoo have been...