While Cubans on the island are scrounging for any materials they can find, steal, purchase, or barter for in order to fashion some type of boat to carry them away from slavery, there are Cuban
exiles opportunists here in Miami trying to do the same. But the boats these opportunists are trying to acquire are 600-cabin luxury ferries that can transport tourists and their cargo.
As detailed in this New York Times article, Armando Ruiz is trying to get a license from the Obama State Department that will allow him to start a ferry service between Miami and Havana. Listening to Mr. Ruiz tell the story, it seems he is trying to create the Cuban version of the Love Boat.
He [Ruiz] said he got the idea for a ferry about 15 years ago on a trip to Cuba. He was buying cigars in a poor section of Havana from a man who said no one in his building could afford a television.
“I thought, we have so many televisions that get thrown out,” said Mr. Ruiz, in an interview at his luxury apartment building overlooking the Atlantic. “If I had a ship, I could bring so many and donate them.”
Cargo seemed to excite him the most. Mr. Ruiz’s eyes brightened behind his Dolce & Gabbana eyeglasses when he said that someone who could take only 44 pounds of luggage on a plane without paying extra would be able to carry four times as much onto the boat. It would all be part of the ferry ticket price, he said, which would probably run about $100 less than plane fare.
The schedule would include at least three overnight round trips a week.
Think of the possibilities, he said: bicycles and toys for Christmas; food, medicines and construction materials after hurricanes. He said his company, Florida Ferry International, had interested investors, including Cuban-Americans, and management companies ready to staff the ship. He said the business would cost somewhere from $300,000 to $1 million dollars a month to operate, depending on the boat leased and the partners involved.
Unfortunately, this ferry cannot bring the Cuban people the one thing they need the most: Freedom. But hey, at least the slaves get some bikes and TVs and the investors make a few million bucks.
You see? Everyone wins!