In March, I drove with my family from the Cuban capital, Havana, to the colonial town of Trinidad, through the city of Cienfuegos. We were more or less the only car on a very rutted road. Cienfuegos is a city of roughly 150,000 people, but it seemed dead. Its buildings were in a state of decay—just like most of the neighborhoods of Havana—and goods were being moved by donkey cart. My wife and I explained to our children that this is what can happen to a people, and to an economy, under communist rule. We spent days trying to teach them about Cuba's dual-currency system—a dollar-based system for tourists, and a make-believe one for ordinary, sometimes-hungry Cubans—but they had difficulty understanding it, because it made so little sense.
On the way to Trinidad, we made a quick stop at Playa Giron, the beach on the Bay of Pigs where a CIA-sponsored invasion ended in disaster. The place was a shambles; some of the faded signs at the decrepit hotel were in Russian. Near the beach was a tiny store that, like most Cuban stores, sold virtually nothing, except for Che Guevara T-shirts, and, unaccountably, Pringles and Coke. One of my daughters made for the Pringles. "Look," she said, "we won."