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About Ryan

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  • Birthday 10/19/1969

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  1. What I meant was re-strengthening the embargo possibly having the opposite effect to that desired. I see different opinions regarding the timing of the most recent changes but ostensibly the reason for the embargo is to force change in the Cuban political and economic system. I don't want to get into US politics but some analogies. These are purely hypothetical examples and who is in the White House currently doesn't really matter to them. What if the EU, Canada and the rest of the OECD countries threatened an embargo on US goods and travel unless the US had a new president in the White House in January, reformed the electoral college system and introduced public health care? I think US support for the current administration and system would increase dramatically. Understandably. What if China threatened an embargo on Australian coal, minerals and ore unless Australia introduced a communist, one-party system. Again, support for the current system and government in Australia would jump, at least if they put up a fight. Ireland came out of a civil war in 1922. Then in the 1930s, Britain introduced trade sanctions when Ireland reoccupied 3 ports that were still British-held. Nothing did more to bring the two post-war sides of the country together. What I'm saying is, the most recent changes I think can be fairly seen as re-strengthening the embargo, which was created as an effort to force political and economic change in Cuba. Nobody likes being told how to live by a foreign entity. Especially one that they have traditionally held to be antagonistic. My fear is that the embargo gives the Cuban government and Cuban people a common enemy. Cubans, both for and against the regime, are proud of their achievements as a small island nation, that they have "ploughed their own path" as I know many see it, of course not all of them. With the embargo in place, the government can tell them, in a believable way, that "The Revolution is Patriotism" Remove that excuse that the Cuban government has used for the last 60 years and then see what happens. I think the inadequacies and corruption would become very clear, very quickly to everyone, with nothing for the Cuban government to hide behind.
  2. I agree that all of us would like to see a better situation, political system and economy for Cuba. But I think trying to force change from outside has been shown not to work. Outside pressure or antagonism often galvanizes support for a regime within a population.
  3. I've been speaking to a few Cuban friends, in different circumstances. Self-employed in local industry, self-employed in the tourism sector, state workers, ex-pats etc. They are mostly doing OK, not great. Lines are longer, schools in Havana closed. Most have difficulty obtaining basics, food, soap, toilet paper etc. But they are mostly managing. It's maybe easy to forget that, outside Havana, things are largely back to normal. Tourists are landing in the Cayos again. International tourism in Europe is largely non-existent this year. Cuba has at least managed the virus very well. As of today, 461 cases per million. Compared to some of Cuba's neighbours, Mexico: 5,457, Jamaica: 1,778, Florida: 32,029. Or Ireland (not a neighbour but also an island): 6,756. Cuba has an army of doctors and students out testing and contact tracing, since March. Plenty of wealthy countries have been talking about a proper contact tracing plan for months, with little to no progress. Cubans know this. I remember seeing a story from a journalist who interviewed Fidel Castro in the 1970s, he asked Fidel what he was reading at the time. Fidel was reading "Jaws", but he found it "very capitalist". The journalist wondered what was so capitalist about a story of a giant shark. Castro replied that the mayor insisting that the beaches reopen even though there was a man-eating shark in the area was an example of how the economy is more important than people's lives. While things are bad in Cuba, and I wouldn't want to be there right now (actually I would, but not under the current circumstances), with kids back in schools here and various other factors, the rise in cases here is such that my mother, and many others her age, is scared to leave her house again.
  4. Punch Joe and Rob Fox tending the fire while camping in San Juan y Martinez in 2013.
  5. The trip was originally out through Paris, back through Amsterdam. Though as somebody told me this morning, my flight out has not been cancelled yet so do I actually have a problem?
  6. As far as I can remember, Spain is the only country where I've seen beetle holes in cigars on shelves for sale.
  7. I just got an email this morning that my Havana - Amsterdam flight on November 24th was cancelled "due to Covid". So, it's not looking good for travel to Havana for a while.
  8. A friend in Cuba sent me a video of his 7 year old daughter getting her first surfing lesson last month. She looked she was doing a lot better than my two at the surfing lessons. 29 c water temp probably makes it easier than the 13 c here.
  9. Schools just opening here now so I'm guessing another lock-down in about 10 days. We're the only country in Europe where bars are still closed. Though "restaurants" that sell beer can open as long as food is ordered along with any alcohol. I've seen a copy of a receipt for 47 pints of Guinness and a fish and chips!
  10. Habanos are planning on having track and trace for every box soon. They have to if they want to continue selling in the EU. This paragraph "One unessential activity that remains the focus of Habanos is the scourge of counterfeit cigars. “We have taken some specific measures,” Sánchez-Harguindey says, “such as new seals on the boxes, holograms on our bands and distributors are now putting their own seals on Habanos’ boxes. By 2024, because of a new European Union regulation, we will also have tracers on every box of cigars from the time they leave Cuba, right down to the retailers’ shelves.” From here https://www.cigaraficionado.com/article/the-co-presidents No word yet on whether they'll use QR codes, but it would make sense. Some info on the EU legislation here. https://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/tracking_tracing_system_en At a guess, though the data is out there, I think it's fair to say that at least half the cigars Habanos exports go to EU countries, so it would make sense to have a code for every box exported whether it's to the EU or not. Going back as far as at least 2008, there was a proposal to put RFID chips on every box of cigars. Which would have made a lot of sense and still would. Contents of a mastercase could be scanned and read without having to even open it. But they went with regular bar codes back then. I can remember hearing stories of a well known Spanish cigar aficionado/technologist having a major falling out with Habanos over that decision at the time. QR codes would be handier for all of us though, as we all carry around QR code readers, whether we know it or not. Very few of us have access to a RFID chip reader.
  11. I had been talking to some friends in Havana earlier this week and they had told me that Havana had gone back into lockdown for two weeks. Curfew from 7pm to 5am, schools closed, no public transport etc. Tough for many of them but they're managing, at least the people I was talking to. https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2020/sep/03/coronavirus-curfew-in-havana-cuba-in-pictures
  12. It's funny, I'm 50 now and spent a lot of time in the countryside on cousins and uncles' farms as a kid. I never saw one until about 10 years ago, when it freaked out my wife's friend at a barbeque. My dad (born 1921) remembered lots of them from when he was young. I've seen one more since. While that's anecdotal, reports are that they are making a comeback here through more regulated use of pesticides. While I'm not a big fan of them myself, they are freaky things, it's a good thing that they are still around. I worry about what else we might be losing when we lose the obvious.
  13. With the fluffy antennae and serrated markings on their sides, those beetles look like cockchafers (I swear I didn't make up that name). They're very rare here now, I've only ever seen two in the flesh. They are also called May bugs, and I suppose that's the Pentecost connection. Why they're coming out of cigar boxes, I've no idea.
  14. That woman is Oona Chaplin, Charlie's grandaughter, she played Robb Stark's short-lived wife in "Game of Thrones". She has spent quite a bit of time since childhood in Cuba. At the end of the film she plays a song by Kelvis Ochoa, so she is familiar with Cuban music. She's very good in this. There's a brief scene where she gives an acting lesson to the kids and you can see them soaking it up. The "bombs in the bathtub" is a reference to how moving pictures of the Maine exploding were shown to US audiences, even though there were no cameras to record it happening. Nobody in the film is denying that the Maine blew up of course, though the cause is questioned which is par for the course in Cuba. But the kids in the movie, in a lesson about cinema and propaganda given in part by Oona Chaplin, are made to question how it, and other images from the Spanish-American war, were filmed.
  15. I watched it last night. Well worth it for me but I could see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. It seems to be commenting on a number of things. The meaning of "Utopia", life in Cuba, imperialism, propaganda. Tourists are shown in some of their lowest forms. The stars of the show are the two girls (about 10 years old). I've rarely seen such thoughtful, insightful, knowledgeable and charming kids. Worth it for those scenes alone. And some of the photography is beautiful, but it's Cuba. It's a photogenic place.

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