We loved the Cuban people. Although most of Cuba looked like very other Caribbean local we have visited, their culture is unique. The country is racially mixed with whites and blacks treating each other equally and with respect. We say no lines drawn ANYWHERE and people lived, worked, played, and participated in daily life peacefully and respectfully. It was refreshing.
Karl Marx has it right in my opinion, at least in theory. The Communist or Socialist movement was meant to create equality among everyone. Unfortunately those in power take advantage of the system they create and there are always those that suffer.
And suffer they have. There is object poverty everywhere. And yet there are smiles on all their faces and the cities and villages we visited were immaculate. Road and highways are a mess, pitted, rutted, and in serious disrepair. Money for infrastructure is directed at tourist areas and the local neighborhoods need a lot of work to improve the housing conditions.
Schools, clinics, hospitals, daycare facilities, etc. are EVERYWHERE and children could be seen daily in crisp, clean uniforms on their way to classes. The colleges and universities were huge, well maintained for the most part, and once again all students in uniforms.
Local shops were far and few between and mostly for tourists. There were few store for locals. In the smaller villages there were no clothing store, applicance store or merchantiles of any type. Grocery stores simply don't exist. Local farm markets were everywhere and the quality of the vegetables and fruit was outstanding. Meat and poultry in local markets were rare and what we did see what truly quite costly by local standards.
As in any other third world nation (and I use that term only to make a small point) there is a need to get what you can from where you can...and toursits with their flashy clothes, cameras, and demonstrable lifestyle are easy targets for vendors. If someone local does something nice for you, GIVE THEM SOME MONEY. They don't need your worn clothing, left over shampoo and toothpaste.
Most importantly, TALK TO PEOPLE. Get out and meet the real Cuba. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you find and learn.
AND, no matter what you think of what is going on at home right now, be thankful that you live in truly the most free and amazing country in the world.