(cross-posted from www.indisputably.org)
On our very first night in Cuba, we went to dinner at the famous Hotel Nacional. The Hotel is gorgeous on a bluff overlooking the water, old, majestic, and impressive. Here is a picture of all of us in the ballroom. Everyone famous who has visited Cuba, comes to the Hotel and there are even pictures all around of the famous visitors (including a larger than life portrait of Hugo Chavez, not something that we are going to see here in the U.S.) But the thing that really struck me was in the garden next to several old cannons.
(And here is a picture from the garden.)
In commemoration of a battle, the plaque referred to the Spanish-Cuban-American War. I knew of no such thing.
We learned about the Spanish-American War. Hmmm. And, as we learned later in the trip, even though Cuba was the site of several battles (Remember the Maine, for example) and was later handed over from Spain to the U.S. as a result of the war, Cubans were not part of the peace negotiations. We heard this more than once–it was the Spanish-Cuban-American War and Cuba was not invited to the peace talks. It was a really good way to start the trip–with an important reminder that we each have our own take on history. We were going to have the opportunity to see the Cuban view of Cuban history rather than the one presented to us at home.