“Our Man in Havana” mantled onto the ledge, high above the Cathedral square in the heart of Habana Vieja. His distinctive red T-shirt was the perfect disguise in a country still celebrating Che Guevara and El Revolución.
In a few days, Barack Obama would become the first serving US President to visit Cuba in ninety years. The Presidential party would enter the Catedral de San Cristobél just below the ancient tower. It was essential that “Our Man” completed his mission before the Americans arrived.
The USA don’t have a good track record in this part of the world and “Our Man in Havana” was determined to complete his mission before history repeats itself.
One of the few good things about Communism is advertising. There isn’t any. If American culture is on the way to Cuba, then this will change. The writing is already on the wall in Havana but mostly it isn’t trying to sell you the latest plastic gizmo or electronic doodad.
The USA’s attempts to subjugate the island by force failed – the CIA backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 ended in a humiliating defeat for the USA and drove Cuba even closer to the Soviet Union.
The whole world held its breath in 1962 as the Cuban missile crisis brought the simmering Cold War to a terrifying boil and the world teetered on the brink of nuclear holocaust. The Cuban trade embargo by the US, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the resultant “Special Period”, brought untold hardship to Cuba – yet ordinary Cubans somehow remain cheerful, unbowed and justifiably proud of their beautiful country.
“Our Man in Havana” relaxed, took a deep breath, slowly exhaled and squeezed off the first shot. The Secret Service can relax, President Obama is safe. There was nothing sinister about “Our Man’s” mission to capture images of Havana before it is irrevocably changed. Let’s hope the American Dream doesn’t become a Cuban nightmare.
I’m looking forward to going back to explore the spectacularly featured limestone crags of Valle de Viñales. This little video gives a tantalising taster: