Cuba Alone

Castro's socialist dream has turned into a nightmare. Isolated, hungry, and broke, the country hopes that a touch of capitalism will save it.

We met Ana on the Avenue Galiano, a shopping street in downtown Havana, where she was gazing longingly into a store selling plastic shoes for 20 pesos (15 cents). They are rationed, and it is not her year to buy new ones. Ana was eager to talk, but not in public, where the government's ever present watchers could see. Come to my home, she said, and you will see how terrible life is here.

Home is a rundown walk-up in Old Havana, where filth clings to peeling plaster and the reek of garbage sticks in the throat. Makeshift walls, festooned with...

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