|Traditionally, the Cuban family was a close-knit
unit. The Communist regime, however, requires young people to take part
in social activities outside the household. This requirement has eroded
some of the authority that parents traditionally had over their children.
With the help of child-care centres, as well as maternity benefits, many women have entered the work force. In 1974, the Family Code was passed, which set out the responsibilities of married couples. The Code gave men and women equal rights and responsibilities for housework, child rearing and education. Nevertheless, some gender stereotypes persist in the home, at work and in the political arena. Some men find it hard to accept that women want to work, and feel that their wives are abandoning their homes.
|The divorce rate in Cuba is high. This may be
due to pressures put on relationships by overcrowding resulting from housing
shortages. After marriage, many newlyweds have to move into the home of
the bride's family. The decreasing influence of the Catholic Church and
the changing role of women may also contribute to stress within families.
Little new housing has been built in Cuba since the 1960s. It is not unusual for three generations to live in one apartment. In the countryside, some people still live in traditional Cuban bohíos. These are palm wood huts with roofs made of palm leaves. They are built with the same materials that the early inhabitants of Cuba used to build their houses.
|Transportation is a problem for many Cubans. Few
new vehicles have been brought into the country since the 1960s and gas
is rationed. Old buses called guaguas and new buses called camellos
(camels) are usually crammed with passengers. Some people build cars with
parts from other vehicles. Cubans show great ingenuity in maintaining old
vehicles. Bicycles are also common, including taxi-bikes, which are bicycles
with a trailer in the back for passengers. Steam locomotives more than
100 years old still carry sugar cane from one town to the next. In the
cities there are some horse-drawn carriages and people in the country may
ride oxen, donkeys or mules.
Cuba has a sizable Chinese community. During the second half of the 19th century, as many as 150,000 Chinese labourers came to Cuba to work on the plantations. Later, some of them set up businesses on the island. Many married Cubans from other ethnic backgrounds. Havana still has an area called Barrio China (Chinatown).