There are no Strawberries in Cuba

There are no strawberries in Cuba.

When I was a child there was only one time of the year that we had strawberries. Sometime in late April or early May, the rectangular wooden crate with the handle came out of the milk barn. Six wooden boxes fit neatly in the crate and soon would be brimming with the red glistening bounty of the vine.

Now because of transportation, food preservation, and large commercial farming strawberries seemed to be on the shelves most of the year. But they don’t taste like the berry ripe in the morning, right off the vine, the sweet melting of the perfect fruit, with a hint of dust.

I always think of Cuba when the 4th of July rolls around. I spent two weeks there on two separate occasions in the late nineties.

Cuba is independent. They are not a colony of some other nation. They are sovereign. Cuba’s revolution supposed intention was to bring down the rich who lived in luxury and ease so that the poor would be lifted from their position at the bottom of society. I don’t know how poor the poor were before the revolution but I know that pretty much everyone is in the same boat now. And it is not a cruise ship with an endless buffet.

The United States of America is celebrating Independence Day. Two hundred thirty-five years have passed since we declared our independence from England. Two hundred and thirty-give years later we celebrate the great experiment of democracy that those early leaders penned on the great founding documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. But I wonder, have we slipped away from the foundations that gave everyone in this country the opportunity to live out their dreams?

In free elections, do our leaders go to represent the will of the people and in the best interests of the country? Or are they just taking positions of power while we the Americans wonder, “Is there no one left to serve who believes in those ideals that built a nation that many in the world long to live for its freedoms and opportunities?”

On one occasion in Cuba, I took some young people for an ice cream cone. Choosing from the three flavors, one young woman chose strawberry. “It’s not real strawberry you know,” she said to me, “but it is still my favorite.”

I questioned, “There are no strawberries in Cuba?”

“Oh, no! But it is my dream that someday I will taste a fresh strawberry.”

Independence doesn’t mean freedom, nor does it imply democracy. It is something to think about this weekend.

May God bless America and may we be a blessing to every nation in the world.


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