Back in June 2015, at a book talk at a New York City public library, an audience member had asked me about Sirley Avila, the first time I'd ever heard her name. She had been attacked on May 24. I'd tried to find out more, but reliable information from Cuba is not easy to obtain. Now, less than one year later, here she was, sitting with me.
While the right continues to believe that isolation will force out the Castros, the left is worried that capitalism will transform the system by other means. Cuba is like a vast undervalued neighborhood outside of Miami that's ripe for gentrification, and capitalism abhors such a vacuum. Some in the Cuban government fear that the proffered carrot has been poisoned; others are hoping to get a nibble for themselves. Cuba stands at a historic crossroads. Down one path lies strict adherence to the revolutionary legacy of the Castros. Down another path lies a revival of Cuba as a playground of rich moguls and shadowy criminal types, as it was just before the revolution. Are there any other paths that Cuba can take?