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tv   This Is Life With Lisa Ling  CNN  November 27, 2016 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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which is we belong together. look at that sun. that's what you are to me. i love you, sweetie. on the island of cuba. >> this is the cuba i grew up with. >> man kind teeters on the brink of therm nuclear war. >> the missile crisis, duck and cover. cover yourselves with wet newspaper. we're all going to die. >> the flames of crisis burn far stronger. fanned by the bitter tirades of fidel castro. >> and this guy. always in the fatigues
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underlining with every appearance that we were two nations in a neverending state of war. >> today the united states of america is changing its relationship with the people of cuba. we will begin to normalize relations between the two countries. ♪
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♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪ ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good in this beautiful world ♪ ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪ sha la la la la ♪ sha la la la la la ♪ sha la la la la ♪ sha la la la la la la >> cuba has been sitting here 55 years now, half an hour away, basically giving the biggest superpower in the world the stiff middle finger. 50-plus years of animosity, embargo, rationing, and fidel castro is still hanging on. but recently, there are powerful indications that everything is about to change. we are in a little fishing town. this place is where two brothers go out and fish every morning
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and bring fresh seafood. >> humble fishing village, traditional fishing family? >> yes. >> what about the sushi? what's going on in this country, man? >> things are changing, anthony, what can i say? >> my name is hugo. i was born in cuba. i was in one of cuba's most prominent schools when i made a joke about president fidel castro. i was a teenager. the kid that slept on the bunk bed on top of me recorded our conversation and i was expelled from school. my mom said the only choice is for us to leave cuba. i've lived in miami 35 years. it's my home base. i come back and forth it cuba. i've been coming to cuba for over 20 years. cuba is a communist country in economic transition.
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>> fidel castro allowed cubans to establish more businesses, there are people that are making money, there are people that have created a tremendous amount of wealth. >> people with family connections to the states, people tied to the exploding tourist industry, small businessowners, taxi drivers, people operating in ever-changing gray areas of what is permissible. how's it work right now? if you're cuban, you can sell your property to -- >> another cuban from cuba. that's what's happening right now. a lot of cuban-americans, a lot of cubans living abroad are now coming back and through relatives are buying property. >> obviously somebody has touched this building with some kind of investment. it's renovated. it seems to be like a hotel. somebody bought the building and turned it into a little hotel. >> however you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren't any places in the world that look like this. it's utterly enchanting. >> it's very seductive. >> there is no doubt in my mind that somewhere in the opposite of the four seasons hotel chain
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they're looking at the seafront thinking one of these days, you know? cruise ships. what happens then? >> well, look -- >> is this an inevitable march of progress? am i being a snob? >> no, no, you're being very realistic. that's the concern of most cubans. i wouldn't mind seeing one or two starbucks along havana. i'm hoping we're not going back to 1958 with the majority of cuban companies are owned by american corporations. >> right. i have to believe that cuba will research some of the value that represents, you know, the hearts and souls of the cuban people. >> last time i was in havana, a meal would have been rice and beans. now sushi. a certain sign of impending apocalypse. that's good. yeah. >> ten years ago this restaurant would have never been allowed not only because private
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businesses were not allowed, but the external influence that you're seeing, remember, this is a country where chewing gum or listening to the beatles were prohibited. i don't think we need to have twitter every day. one thing i love about coming to cuba is the fact i can put my iphone away. who cares. look what we have around us. i hope cubans continues to have access to free information. they still want to preserve these family times. ♪ >> tourists have been coming to cuba for some time. predominantly europeans, many of them men of a certain age looking for, how should we say, company. now it looks like americans looking to live out fantasies of "godfather 2" will soon be able to do so. and it's all still here for them.
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♪ but there's new stuff, too. this is certainly new. the hottest spot in havana. a nightclub, performance base, art gallery, highlighting artists, musicians and deejays from around the world. questlove is scheduled to deejay here tomorrow night. >> when all the arts can -- >> what is going on here? i ask two of the young entrepreneurs behind the place. nothing like this ever existed before. did the government bureau of
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arts help you? >> we had, at the beginning, we had subsidies from the ministry of culture. even the building, we asked for the building because it was abandoned for 13 years. >> the place is very popular. >> right now, yes. >> who comes here? >> these people that love art but at the same time, it's very diverse. >> it attracts a once unthinkable mix of foreigners and locals that enjoys the actual support of the government without whom, of course, it couldn't exist. >> our chef here, part of the art world, you know, here. >> ceviche of dogfish with pickled vegetables. loin of pork pan seared, and a rift on a traditional orange sauce with garlic and coriander. good. very good. what do you think's going to happen when the door opens and you have hundreds of thousands of americans flooding here
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looking desperately to spend money on anything cuban? >> i don't know, man. we are a small country. we have to adapt to new things. but i think it's a good challenge. >> i guess i'm asking how do you keep it real when you'll all probably be millionaires in a few years? >> us? >> yeah. >> you think so? >> yeah. >> it's not our goal in life, but that -- >> doesn't matter. >> yeah, doesn't matter. >> we're going to have more factories. >> more factories. ♪ whoa, talkin' 'bout my love ♪
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havana still looks like you want it to look. or maybe just how i want it to look. ♪ what was once one of the wealthiest cities in latin america left to the elements, left to collapse, were frozen gloriously in time. in fits and starts, cuba is changing, but it's not sugar or rum or tobacco or casino gambling that is the new god. it's tourists. ♪ all right.
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so here, chinatown. >> such as it is. >> but are there any chinese left in havana? >> no. there's a few new chinese. >> right. >> at one point the chinese community in cuba was huge, but they pretty much cleared out after the revolution as did most of the russian, jewish who were here so the state erected a few quintessentially chinatown gates. muster the 14 chinese people left and summon their relatives. >> for more than 35 years, john lee anderson has been reporting from conflict zones such as syria, lebanon, libya, iraq, and afghanistan. >> i lied about my age and traveled around africa. when i was 13, i told people i was 26. >> in the early 1990s while researching a biography, he and his family moved to cuba and ended up staying for three years. you lived here during the special period which was not so
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special. that was the bad times. the russians had pulled out. soviets all done. >> the economy went like this. >> completely tanked. >> 90%. it just tanked. >> cuba lost 80% of its import goods which led to widespread hunger, malnutrition, and a nose dive for the already difficult quality of life on the island. >> there was one place where we could buy food which was a soviet-style place with food that was flown in. quite bad food. under fidel's rule, that's the way it was. >> it's like a cargo cult version of chinese food here. dumplings. the szechuan chicken dish that's about as szechuan as, well, i am. what's going to happen? what's next? >> the uptick in tourism after the september 17th announcement, raul and obama, said we decided to make friends again. the surge in tourism and american interests in cuba is
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like this. you now have an island where every room is for rent because you can make $30 or $40 a day. that's more than a state employee makes in three months. >> there will be wealthy hipsters, women in tiny black dresses drinking ironic rifts on the mojito. lobby of the spanking new "w" hotel with [ bass ] in the background and it's in five years. >> yeah, i would say so. >> will every cuban have an unalienable right to education and health care? >> that's what they're worried about. the last time i was here in 2013, i counted 8 to 10 homeless garbage-eating people in the street. i thought, wow, i've never seen that in cuba. that's something that the old cuba, the socialist cuba that could look after all of its citizens would never have allowed. it's allowing it now. this period we're here in, it's the lull before it all hits. the train is coming. it's either going to roar by and they're going to be able to jump on and go with it, or it's going to derail and it will be a mess. all of it's possible.
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♪ [ speaking foreign language ]. >> my mom is asking me if you would like to taste the rice? >> oh, it's fantastic. like a lot of cubans, yosimi rodriguez lives in the same working-class neighborhood where she was born. >> i live with my mom, my sister, my niece. of course i would like to have my own bedroom, but there are people who don't even have a house. >> you were a translator, that's correct? you are now a journalist? >> i've been writing for "havana times" and another independent website. >> she struggles to eke out a living in an industry where the
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state firmly controls all media. what subjects in particular are of interest to you? >> racial issues. >> racial disparity. this is something that the revolution promised to address. >> their main mistake was to say that they had eradicated racism, that just like it could be eradicated just like that. on the street, for instance, policemen, the first people they stop, black people. if you're black, you are a potential criminal. ♪ >> her mom, rosa, prepares a cabbage stew with carrots, tomatoes, and green beans for her as yosimi is a rare vegetarian on an island where pork is king. fantastic, look at that. and for us, pork marinated in garlic, onion, and sour orange. please tell your mom it's superb, really excellent.
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[ speaking foreign language ] >> thank you. you have a very highly educated public here, one of the most literate nations on earth. >> that's funny, we're highly educated, but we're behind concerning internet and all that stuff. most the folk have access to only the official media, the official newspaper. if internet comes, and i think the government is trying to delay it, if that comes, many things will change. people will have access to different points of view, and i don't think our government wants that. >> if everything goes well, what will havana be like, what will this neighborhood be like in five years? >> you know, having an oppressive society, it is the same for everyone. you know, you see these people who have been able to use opportunities to open businesses, to open successful
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restaurants. those opportunities are there, but i cannot use them because i don't have money. i don't think it is possible to have a perfect society, but i think it is possible to try. how you like the food? >> oh, it's delicious. really good. thank you. if you're searching other travel sites to find a better price... ...stop clicking around... the lowest prices on our hotels are always at hilton.com. so pay less and get more only at hilton.com. that's 7,671 moon rises, we created blue moon. 48 eclipses and a refreshing taste that's always stayed the same. creatively inspired. artfully brewed. blue moon.
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all cuba seems waiting for something. for whatever it is that happens next. today, that's the roar of detroit's finest. circa 1959 and before, of course. american dream machines tricked out, babied, pampered, jerry-rigged or simply held together with duct tape or baling wire. ♪
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>> nice. what's under the hood? >> translator: v8 american engines. we buy spares. we bring spares from america. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: all we think about through the week is our machines, our v8 engines. you know, car racing in cuba, they love it here as much as they love baseball. >> whoa. that's serious. they are diehard gear heads. drag racers who for more than 20 years have been defying the law and escaping the grind of daily life by pressing pedal to the metal and hurtling down the highway faster, faster, fast as they can go. >> they just find the best part of the day when there's not so much traffic.
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hundreds and hundreds of people on both sides of the road. >> before it was absolutely illegal. >> it's always been illegal. it's only the last couple of weeks that we're going to get sponsorship from the minister of the sports. >> everything is changing. it's entirely possible that soon you'll be able to order any part, any car, any car in the world. you can have it tomorrow. what would it be? >> corvette. >> corvette. which year? [ engines revving ] ♪
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>> this lunar picnic is only to be seen at night. the grills are painted with this fluorescent painting. it's very surreal. it's a weird sensation. it, like, make you hungry somehow. >> along with his creative partner, marco castillo, rodriguez is half of an artistic entity whose work is shown and collected all over the world. >> every single grill is a different theme. we have different technology to fabricate, to develop. >> they have managed to stay in the government's good graces by widely using irony to make their points. in the brutal and capricious
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contemporary art world outside of cuba, they are stars. they make a lot of money, but they always return home to havana. looks like we'll be eating well. ♪ >> tonight it's a party in dabo's backyard. ♪ >> he has made his much loved pig's head soup with pumpkin, peppers, corn, and plantain. i saw somebody's house, it was just an ordinary home, but they created their own fast food franchise. they made it look as if it was part of a chain. it was like mr. burger or something like this. >> this place can be a paradise for fast food. >> i hope they don't come here soon. >> this is my biggest fear is there will be a big glass box of a "w" hotel and start seeing starbucks and victoria's secret, you know, all of the people who make every place look the same. it would be awful.
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>> yeah, but we have 50 year lack of money. >> right. >> this is a big problem. the people will freak out with money when they have the money here. >> of course. >> i mean, if there's a $200 million hotel project that's sustainable, that preserves the facade of the city, that will get approved first before anything super american per se, you know? >> whoa, what's cooking over there? can't forget the whole roasted pig. a few years back a pretty unthinkable luxury for just about everybody. oh, wow. soup. >> wow. >> everything is biological. they have no money -- >> for, yes -- >> no pesticides or hormones. >> oh, wow. and tamales steamed in the broth from the pig's head soup. life is good.
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>> yeah, it is. ♪ ♪ >> i think that our culture is so strong that it's going to take a lot of tourists, a lot of boats -- how do you say -- >> cruise ships. >> cruise ships.
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♪ this is a typical street of this neighborhood. houses of wood, houses of concrete. the street is not in good condition. here was the bus station. it's not a bus station anymore. now it's a building. it's a monument. of the past. >> montea is a suburb of havana,
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home to one of cuba's most celebrated writers. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> author of the internationally successful mario detective series, padura has been able to portray the daily struggles, the absurdities of life in cuba. it's a delicate dance, and few have been able to replicate it. your hero in the books, does he live in this neighborhood? or another neighborhood. >> more or less. more or less. >> happy place to grow up, this neighborhood? >> yeah. i was totally free. >> i notice a lot of people just hanging out. who lives here? >> all kinds of people. doctors, for example. engineers. workers. and people who makes nothing, like that guy. >> right. >> he don't make nothing.
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>> how does he live? >> trying to find something to do or something to sell. making a small business. >> cafeteria a la bbq is one example of a booming do-it-yourself service industry. ♪ it's a place where you get a lot of bang for your money. nothing fancy. just delicious. fried pork, plantains. and the kind of deeply silky, satisfying beans that dreams are made of. good beans. you've never had a blacklisted or banned in cuba? >> no. >> have you been able to say everything that you wanted to say? >> i try to be the most honest writer that i can be, and i think that i say all that i can say. the problem is --
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>> in cuba. >> money. it's a beautiful city but the people have many problems to live, with the space, with the structure of the buildings. >> for dessert -- awesome -- flan cooked in a cut down beer can. thank you. you're a successful author. you've been around the world, you've traveled? during difficult periods of cuban history, i'm sure you had many opportunities to live in miami or barcelona or los angeles. and yet you stayed in the same house, the same neighborhood. why? >> because i like it. i need to live in cuba, near to the cuban people, near to the cuban language. for me, it's very important. >> yes, the future is here. but the past, too, is everywhere.
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♪ the buildings, the cars, the gears of the whole system are still largely stuck in time. ♪ [ speaking foreign language ]. >> 93-year-old juana is very much a part of that past. [ speaking foreign language ]. long before the revolution, she was a shining star at the east tropicana.
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singing for capone, luciano. you know the names. >> juana! juana! [ speaking foreign language ]. ♪ ♪ ♪
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cuba is not havana. it's a bigger country that you might imagine, and the road to santiago to cuba, the country's second largest city, takes you 12 hours on their less than modern highway system. along the way you see agrarian cuba, the country in which most cubans lived pre-revolution.
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♪ >> santiago is a poor city. it's blacker. unlike havana, the symbols and faces of the revolution still seem to mean something. these brutalist prefab workers housing complexes are everywhere here, and at first glance, hell at second glance, they look like something you'd house animals in. but for many, previously living even poorer, harsher lives in the countryside, these offered something new. each group of buildings came with a doctor, a school. still, they look about as grim as grim can be. ♪ yet, santiago is anything but grim. sobani beach is where locals go
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on the weekend to kick back with family, drink the best rum in cuba, which means the best rum anywhere, swim, hang with family and friends. gentlemen. this is our local fixer. ruben is in the bar business. sergio rents rooms to the occasional tourist. everybody getting by making the adjustment to private enterprise cuba in their own way. until a few years ago you couldn't rent or sell, right? >> no. >> translator: a long time ago was allowed to rent house but no sell and buy. >> what kind of fish is this? >> dorado. >> it's huge. >> fresh-caught dorado and lobster is on the menu. do you think this is going to change? i mean, look, we've all been following the news. [ speaking foreign language ]. right.
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half an hour away. i mean, they can basically take a boat over for lunch. what do you think americans want? >> they have no idea because they never talked to an american tourist before. >> looking good now, man. good rum, cold beer, good fish, good lobster. you'll be needing a blender for pina coladas. >> if they have no machine, they're going to do it by hand. >> i'll put it this way, my friend. you're going to be making a lot of pina coladas. i think you're going to need the machine. ♪ >> nighttime is party time. where everybody it appears, at
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least from when i was there, hit the streets. mom, dad, sis, even grandma get, well, crazy. used to be some styles that ruled the street. this was where those musical styles were born, after all. now it's reggaeton and, of course, hip hop. ♪ alen garcia is the leader of the santiago based hip top trio tnt. >> we've been making hip hop for 15 years. which is quite difficult here in cuba. we've been in jail three days once just for make hip hop. ♪ definitely it's a change in cuba, but i don't think it's because the relations with the united states are getting better. it's because the people just
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realize we need change. we still want a kind of society where everyone participates, everyone's the future of society. ♪ born and bred, where the good rum comes from. >> exactly. >> so tell me, music business, what are you doing? >> and just enjoying that. >> how much american hip hop do you get here? >> actually quite a lot. someone came from outside. and start to make hip hop here and we get a lot. hip hop came from the states.
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ever lasting element of the revolution so you're making music and protest music. so we went a couple of times to jail just for songs. >> so now you can make money performing? >> yeah. >> and you can make money selling. >> but right now more possibilities are coming. with with the opportunity to promote the music. access to internet, free access i mean. >> that's going to be the biggest thing. >> if you want to spend your holidays and the war.
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and i'm a co-founder at she leads africa. i definitely could not do my job without technology. this windows 10 device, the touchscreen allows you to kind of pinpoint what you're talking about. which makes communication much easier and faster than the old mac that i used to use. you can configure it in so many different ways, it just, i don't know, it feels really cool. i feel like i'm in the future. p is for privileges. o is for ordinarily i wouldn't. l is for layers of luxury. a is for alll the way back. r is for read my mind. and i... can't see a thing. s... see you in the morning. polaris, from united.
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>> how long have you been driving a taxi? >> 20 years. >> mostly cuban or tourists? >> mostly tourists. spanish, people from canada. >> are you from santiago? >> yes. >> i used to live in russia. i started there. >> really? >> yeah. and i really enjoyed it. >> oh yeah, must be cold there. >> different. and throwing snow. >> you went from engineering to taxi driving. >> yes, yes. we got in trouble with the
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economy. >> so it looks like the embargo might end. a lot of money is going to start coming to cuba. do you think it's going to change? >> i think that the american business man will invest in cuba and that will be good for everybody. >> what next for cuba? something is coming. it will come from out there but also from within cuba. it's already happening. but what is it? everybody knows. everybody can feel it and it
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smells like freedom but will there be victory?
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♪ ♪
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♪ >> anthony: man, that's good. man, that is good. yeah, it's good. mm. ah, man, it's really good. it's really good, by the way. this is good, so good. that's amazing. it's fantastic. oh, man, there we go. life is good. ♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪

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