BBC reporter kicked out of Cuba speaks

Stephen Gibbs of the BBC talks about his experience of getting kicked out of Cuba for reportage the Castro regime didn’t like, with a bit of a focus on the logisitics of moving from Cuba itself:

Moving home, they say, is one of life’s five most stressful experiences. It comes in at number three. Ranked a bit below bereavement, a bit above divorce.

But in Cuba it is different. Packing up a home in Cuba is easy.

The reason is that you do not have to go through that agonising problem of wondering about what to do with all your junk. You can sell it, or give it away. All of it. In a matter of hours.

Cuba is a place where almost all consumer items are prohibitively expensive, or, more likely, not available. And scarcity breeds desire.

Most Cubans, and plenty of foreigners living on the island, spend the majority of their time not thinking about the country’s future, or transitional governments, or the health of Fidel Castro, but on rather more mundane things. Like how to find a square meal, a fridge that works, or an electric fan.

Yep, it’s that wonderful Cuban socialist economy at “work.” You can see how it works to Castro’s advantage, though: if you spend your day worrying about how you’re going to get your next meal, it’s kind of hard to worry about overthrowing the government.

Mr. Gibbs talks about other things in Cuba, too, such as press censorship and why he got kicked out:

I had a first-hand glimpse of all this when I returned to my home in Old Havana, just days after hearing the disappointing news that I was one of three foreign correspondents to be stripped of their press accreditation by the Cuban government. Our reporting was deemed “negative” by a nameless committee.

As I entered my apartment the phone was ringing. It was an ex-pat friend whom I had not heard from for some time. The conversation went along these lines: “I am so sorry to hear you are being thrown out,” he said, “what a disgraceful attempt to intimidate the foreign press.”

Later on, he talks about an amateurish, ridiculously botched attempt at censorship of the film Hotel Rwanda by the Castro government:

I was at home watching it, when, a few minutes after the opening titles, I noticed that some shots had been clumsily repeated. It had been edited.

I happened to have a DVD of the original version. I put it on to compare the two.

It became obvious that the Cuban censors had gone to the trouble of cutting out a 30 second portion of the film. The banned images contained a couple of harmless jokes about Cuban cigars.


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