I went some weeks ago with my mate to Cuba. We were too enthusiastic and wanted to see the reality of a country that has an unique history and the romantic idea of a left political system.
We are not all-inclusive or beach people. So we decided to travel on our own and stay in 'casas particulares'. After 2 days in La Havana we were in shock: the romantic 50's cars that populate the streets produce a terrible atmospheric pollution, almost unbearable; the once beautiful buildings were falling in pieces, a general sensation of abandonment that was absolutely scary; a complete lack of alternatives (shops, cafés, restaurants) outside the touristic areas; and many etceteras.
But the worse was the harassment of people offering touristic services, the sensation of being continuously scammed (1,2,5 CUC) and be trapped in organised networks (eg, the casa with the taxis and the tours), without the possibility of getting reliable information and comparing alternatives... without any chance of getting Internet or phone...
I'm not naive, we knew it was Cuba and observing the reality by ourselves was part of the trip's objectives. I just recall in the state of abandonment and deterioration that makes the country vulnerable... Let's say, could Cuba recover from an earthquake like the one of Haití? Beyond natural hazards, a forthcoming social/economic change can be expected, what will happened then? The insertion in global economy will happen sooner or later and Cuba is absolutely not prepared to participate in the 'cruel-real-world' markets.
Certainly we didn't see the extreme poverty that characterises Latin American countries. But the inequality is there, in peoples mind and behaviours, Despite of half of century of communism, the hospitality workers seem to believe that tourists expect a masters-and-servants relationship, the double-currency, the acid criticism to the 'capitalists-outsiders', all that is there, as if the colonialism hasn't disappear, at least in the discourse.
Also the macho-culture, the fact that Cubans look and say things to women (even accompanied tourists) denotes that the revolution didn't bring a more gender equality. Compared to China, for instance, where I have never felt uncomfortable.
Anyway, as a Latin American myself, I have many things to reconsider about the left-alternative, democracy, freedom and ideology.
What I can say to the others: if you come from a cold country or you are looking for all-inclusives, fun, etc., go to Cuba and close your eyes to the outside reality. Of closing your eyes makes you unhappy, consider as well other beautiful Latin American countries that might been even cheaper.
But if you are an independent traveler and wanna test the romantic idea of Cuba by yourself, try to organise everything beforehand, because it's impossible to do it there and book-guides are not enough.
And if you are a Latin American and have no much money, consider it twice, 'cause the CUC system made everything more expensive than our own countries.