Menu
Share
Share this story
Close X
 
Switch to Desktop Site

Cuba under Raúl: Creeping toward capitalism?

Since Raúl Castro took the helm in February, he's rolled out a series economic changes, including allowing Cubans to buy cellphones and giving farmers profit-incentives.

Clandestine gym: Guillermo Arrastia built exercise equipment out of old scaffolding. He runs this illegal gym in a Havana garage.

Alfredo sosa – staff

About these ads

A handful of Cubans are taking turns doing bicep curls and pedaling on stationary bikes. At first glance, there's nothing extraordinary about this nameless gym in the basement of a Havana apartment complex.

Yet when night falls, the machines – crafted out of wood planks and scavenged metal tubing – disappear like a government informant into the shadows. They are disassembled and tucked away to make room for the coughing Russian Ladas and '50s-era American cars that fill the building's parking lot.

Officially, this fly-by-day gym does not exist, but Guillermo Arrastia opened it five years ago. He employs a staff of three and collects monthly $5 fees from more than 100 members. It is run completely "por la izquierda" – "on the left" – a term that describes how most Cubans make ends meet. "We have to survive," says Mr. Arrastia, unapologetically.

THREE-PART SERIES:

Next

Page 1 of 8


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Loading...