How embargo turned Cuba into an island of hackers and DIY engineers

"In 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower slapped the first trade embargo on Cuba, and in 1961, just before leaving office, he broke off diplomatic relations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the loss of oil imports, shortages got worse. The country lost about 80 percent of its imports, and the economy shrank by 34 percent. So Cubans learned to make do. When something breaks, they patch it up. When something doesn’t work, they fix it. And when something is altogether lost, they invent it. They grill meat on metal chairs. They seal the bottoms of cars, transforming them into boats. From the suffering of 30 years of isolation has sprung a generation of amateur engineers, inventors and welders."
A fan made from a boat propeller, an old washing machine motor and
welded steel rods in El Gabriel, Cuba. Photo by Edel Rodriguez.
A washing machine motor is used to power a key copier.
Photo by Ernesto Oroza.
The rikimbili, prohibited, but widely used in Cuba, is made of a bicycle
with a motor attached. Photo by Ernesto Oroza.

More: PBS NewsHour


  1. "...a washing machine engine welded to a boat propeller has become a makeshift fan."

    I should think a boat propeller would be much more useful, hence more valuable, than a fan.

  2. I guess it would depend on how hot you are.


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