“Aquí en Cuba tenemos el Ministerio de Complicaciones,” said the smiling man to my group of travelers to Cuba last fall. “Here in Cuba we have the Ministry of Complications.” Nearby, a quartet of guitars, maracas, and bongos was playing lively guajira music, a part of the Cuban government’s determined effort to make every tour visit feel like a party. But a woman from the eastern part of Germany stopped dancing long enough to say she had noticed that “Cuba is just like it was where I grew up.”

I knew of the links between the Cuban security services and the East German Stasi as well as the continued suppression of dissent by Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl. But as I learned more about the complications of life in Cuba for ordinary Cubans, I was increasingly appalled and indignant. It would not surprise me to learn most Cubans in Cuba feel the...


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