During Rocío and my visit to Cuba we saw multiple old and modern artefacts from other communist or former communist countries. Considering Cuba’s post-revolution political alignment and the United States embargo this should not have been a surprise.
A tip for those visiting Cuba: at your guest house check under the china for its origin. With limited access to goods, Cubans often keep items for decades, including their stoneware. We noticed this at our first meal in Cuba with crockery made in Czechoslovakia, a European country last existing in 1992.
Crockery made in Czechoslovakia at our first Havana guest house
At Santiago de Cuba we used a porcelain coffee set produced in Bulgaria, most likely from its pre-1990 communist period.
Bulgarian china at breakfast in Santiago de Cuba
This coffee cup’s base states “Porzellan; Made in Bulgaria”. Interestingly, “porzellan” is German for porcelain
In Baracoa, Nuevitas and a second Havana guest house we had identically-styled teapots manufactured in North Korea. Tea is uncommon in Cuba and the North Korean pots were either used for coffee or milk.
A teapot from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) holding milk at our Baracoa guest house
“Made in DPRK” on the base of the Baracoa teapot
The Nuevitas teapot’s base stated “Made in Korea”
Some places, institutions and buildings in Cuba are named after communist countries or heroes.
Vo Thi Thang Primary School in Miramar, Havana, named after a Vietnamese communist hero
Vladimir Ilich Lenin Primary School in Pinar del Río named after the Russian communist revolutionary; the bust inside is not Lenin but Cuban hero José Martí
“Viet Nam” bookshop in Santiago de Cuba
In addition to Cuba’s famous American cars from the 1950s, the island has many later vehicles of communist or post-communist country origin, predominantly Soviet/Russian or Chinese.
An East German IFA truck in Ciego de Ávila Province
A Soviet/ Russian Lada Niva 4×4 car in Santiago de Cuba
A Soviet/Russian Izh motorcycle and side-car in Old Havana; note both the black cat resting on the bike seat and the bollards made from historic cannons
A Chinese Viazul bus we took from Holguín to Camagüey
A Soviet AZLK Moskvitch car in Viñales
Another Soviet AZLK car we took for our trip from Viñales to Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás
Chinese-built Geely police cars in Havana travelling towards Plaza de la Revolución where Fidel Castro’s ashes were temporarily held
A Chinese Geely sedan leading a Chinese Sinotruk truck carrying official media in the caravan transporting Fidel Castro’s ashes across Cuba
For 30 years from 1960, the Soviet Union subsidised Cuba, creating an economic dependence that, upon dissolution, led to the Cuban economic depression known as the Special Period. Evidence of that history and modern Cuba’s good relations with Russia is also visible away from names and vehicles.
An inoperable Soviet Union-made air-conditioner in our Pinar del Río accommodation
Spanish writing on the air-conditioner confirming its origin: “Compuerta fabricado en la URSS” (Gate manufactured in the USSR)
A Russian asbestos bag being reused in Santiago de Cuba