Cuba's Secret Side
Under The Radar
Sunday, Feb 15, 4 p.m. on Vermont PBS Plus
Knowing that the Cuban government severely restricts all foreign journalists, Karin Muller took a huge risk - she set out to film a documentary on a simple tourist visa. Free of government minders, she hitchhiked around Cuba for three months - sleeping in private homes, working with farmers and fishermen, and participating in festivals and religious ceremonies. She was arrested over a dozen times, but in the end she discovered a side of Cuba that few foreigners get to see. Like Hector - Havana's pizza guy - who lives on the third floor and uses a basket and pulley system to deliver pizza. Or the wonderful way Cubans have of turning a tedious wait in line into a social event, and the unexpected joy of Havana's waterfront. Cubans joke that the Revolution produced three successes and three failures. The successes were health care, education, and social equality. The failures were breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the rural sugar town of La Vega, Muller discovered the secret to Cuba's good health. Dr. Angelina walks house to house, visiting every one of La Vega's two thousand inhabitants - even if they're healthy - at least twice a year. Angelina knows everything about her patients, from how many pillows they sleep with to whether they're getting along with their spouses. She is happy with her life and work, despite going home each night to a tiny, dilapidated apartment without running water and having to work two days to earn enough to buy her family a can of spam. Education is another Cuban success - 97% literacy and free universities - but it's not all good news. Books and newspapers are censored, so a nation that has learned to love the written word has no choice but to read the party line. The monthly food distribution provides all Cuban citizens with staples like sugar, rice, and beans. The government also pays retired Cubans a pension, though it's rarely enough to make ends meet. The elderly often augment their meager incomes selling newspapers or collecting cans
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