The Mexican parallel
In Mexico recently, Vasana Chinvarakorn contemplates the weight of history and urgency of a country plagued by inequality, violence and drug wars, and realises that the Latin American experience is not really that far from Thailand's
WHICH TABLE might they have sat at to plot the revolution? Considering its unassuming old-fashioned ambience, few may realise that Cafe La Habana in central Mexico City has played a pivotal part in shaping the history of Cuba. Legend has it that in the mid-50s, then fugitive Fidel Castro frequented the eatery where he met like-minded peers, the likes of Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara who was also in search of a cause to fight (and die) for. The following year, they would board the Granma and set sail for Castro's homeland where began one of the most bloody, colourful, epic battles that would change the geo-political landscape of Latin America, indeed of the rest of the world.
Contrasts seem to be an indispensable part of everyday life in Mexico, be they between the old and the new, the haves and the have-nots, the flashy and the mundane.
But why did the meeting take place here? Now, over half a century later, looking around the neon-lit, high-ceilinged coffeehouse, I must admit to having failed to detect any signs or inklings of such headiness for social disruption. The old-timers chit-chatting underneath the whirring fans looked too laid-back; those who came in pairs seemed absorbed in their own tete-a-tetes. Sepia-toned photographs of Cuba depicting old rickety sedans against once-majestic buildings of Havana only heightened the feeling of frozen time. They convey the picture of a peaceful cocoon _ away from the hubbub of one of the planet's most crowded megalopolises.
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