By ERIC SCHELKOPF - eschelkopf@shawmedia.com

Elburn man sees Cuba’s economy thrive

ELBURN – When Elburn resident Tom Gush visited Cuba last month, he expected to see a country riddled with poverty.

Instead, he saw thriving businesses, clean streets and a well-run bus transportation system.

“I really was expecting to see a country in dire straits,” said Gush, who teaches international business at the College of DuPage. “I was very surprised not to see that.”

Gush and his wife, Connie, were in Cuba from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6 as part of a trip arranged by the college’s international studies department. This was his first trip to Cuba.

“I was quite surprised what I did find,” Gush said. “It’s a very thriving international business community they have. Canada is one of their major trading partners.”

While in the country, Gush said he visited with business owners. He said people now can own businesses as opposed to the government.

Gush also was impressed with the country’s bus transportation system.

“The system is very, very well run,” he said. “You can travel all over the country just on a single bus pass.”

Gush said he and his wife spent New Year’s Eve at a hotel frequented by the late Ernest Hemingway. They also drove by the compound where Fidel Castro lives.

“I was expected to see a walled compound,” he said. “It is a very modest house he lives in.”

Although other countries trade freely with Cuba, the United States’ 50-year trade embargo against Cuba still is in effect. Gush said he wants to see the embargo lifted.

“I think it is time to remove the embargo because it is not working,” he said. “They can get anything they need. There is no threat from Cuba to the United States. I think we have a greater threat from North Korea than Cuba.”

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