In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano Pope Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in Havana, Wednesday, March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)AP2012
Greg Burke in Cuba.
This trip to Cuba is only my second time here, so I can hardly pretend to be an expert on the country but I can tell you five things I really like about the country, and five I really don’t like.
Despite the negatives, I would love to come back. Maybe that’s just because I’m sold on any place with good weather and nice beaches. And that’s where I would start. Though I would like to see a baseball game as well. They play great baseball in Cuba.
Papal Visit to Mexico and Cuba
CUBA: THE GOOD
- Weather and beaches: Unless there’s a hurricane, it tends to look pretty much like paradise.
- Friendly people: I speak Spanish, so that helps, but I’m not sure that it really matters. These people tend to smile a lot.
- Food and Drink: Take your pick: Cuba Libre, the Mojito or just plain rum. The fresh fruit is also outstanding, although I am a big fan of fried bananas as well.
- Great music: It seems there is a bit of “Buena Vista Social Club” in most Cubans, which makes for a pretty lively scene.
- Wonderful old cars: Our cab downtown last night was a 1952 Ford. I don’t think much was left from 1952 besides the body, but it was a great ride.
Pope Benedict XVI Uses Cane on Trip to Mexico and Cuba
CUBA: THE BAD
- Poverty: Blame it on Castro, or blame it on the embargo – as the Cuban government does, day after day – but many people in this country are dirt poor.
- Prostitution and sex tourism: No further comment, other than that a lot of women hanging out with older European men are very young girls.
- Politics pervades everything. And everything bad is the fault of the U.S.
- Lots of Soviet-style bureaucracy and control. Nothing is simple, and you get the idea big brother is always watching.
- Lack of freedom: Start with the freedom of expression. So many simple things we all take for granted just aren’t allowed here.
Greg Burke has been the Rome correspondent for Fox News since 2001.