The Buena Vista Social Club experiment

The exuberant vitality of the Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club seems to confirm advice from the government newspaper Granma, that ageing is terrific. After all, 26% of Cubans will be 60 or over in 2025, the highest proportion in Latin America:

"Analysts agree that the aging of country’s population shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, but as an achievement of the political, economic, and social systems that provide longer lives and better quality of life."

I am second to none in my admiration of the nonagenarian muscians. Just listen to Omara Portuondo singing "Candela". So smooth. So mellow. So young.

However, facts are facts, and Cuba has to face the fact that it is shrinking and ageing, a bit like its fearless leader Fidel. In 2006, the country’s population of about 11 million stopped growing and began to decline. The problems are two-fold: young people are emigrating and women are having fewer children. The birth rate of 1.4 children per woman is the lowest in Latin America. According to Nick Miroff, of Global Post,

"The statistics highlight a risky demographic experiment that has been developing here for years. While Cuba’s socialist health care system takes good care of the elderly and has prolonged life expectancy rates, the island’s lousy economy--squeezed by US trade sanctions and its own inefficiencies--is driving young people to emigrate, while limiting family size."

Not everyone wants to play for the Buena Vista Social Club!


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