Cuban ballet dancers are arguably the country’s most esteemed export, they often earn more money than doctors, and they perform locally to the type of cheering crowd that in the USA would be reserved for pop stars
In 1856 businessman and aeronautics enthusiast Matías Pérez took flight in a hot air balloon at sunset in Cuba, and was never seen again. This incident originated the Cuban phrase, “Voló como Matías Pérez,” (flew away like Matías Pérez) to refer to someone vanishing into thin air.
In 1960, debris from a failed American launch fell on Cuba, killing one cow. Many Cubans demonstrated, with banners on cows reading “The Yankees are killing us without mercy” and “Eisenhower, you murdered one of my sisters”. Cuba received $2 million compensation, and the cow had a state funeral.
When Fidel Castro was 14 he wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt and asked him for a 10 dollar bill because he admired America.
The collapse of the Soviet Union directly correlated with the resurgence of Cuba’s amazing coral reef. Without Russian supplied synthetic fertilizers and ag practices, Cubans were forced to depend on organic farming. This led to less chemical runoff in the oceans.
A lot of Cubans living in Havana are considered illegal in their own country due to a law that prohibits Cubans from rural parts of the country to move to the capital.
Orestes Lorenzo, a Cuban fighter pilot, defected to the US. He flew to Florida in a MiG-23 and requested his family join him, when his family were banned from leaving Cuba he raised money to buy a plane. He then flew back to Cuba, landed on a highway an bought his family back himself.
Communist Cuba wasn’t really the best place to be a punk rocker. Rebellious teens, known as los frikis (“the freaks”), used their radios to pick up American airwaves and rock out to groups like AC/DC and Metallica. However, getting the Led out came with a pretty steep price.Kids sporting long hair, ripped jeans, and T-shirts emblazoned with rock band logos were regularly assaulted by the police. When scruffy teens showed up for school, they were often surrounded and forcibly shaved. Anyone caught listening to rock music was tossed behind bars or sent to work in the sugarcane fields. The Berlin Wall had just collapsed, the USSR was falling apart, and Fidel Castro was freaking out. Hoping to keep his regime intact, the bearded director went after anyone who stepped out of line, cracking down hard on rock music and angrily shouting, “Socialism or death!” That’s when musicians accepted the challenge.
To escape persecution, Los Frikis chose to give themselves HIV for a chance at life in a Cuban AIDS sanitarium.
In 1961, Fidel Castro closed Cuban schools for a whole year and formed teachers into a “literacy army” with the goal to eradicate illiteracy. By the end of the year, 707,212 previously illiterate people had learned how to read.
The Mexican ambassador to the United States, said in response to the Kennedy administration’s 1961 call to collective action against Cuba: “If we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, 40 million Mexicans will die laughing.”