U.S. Travel industry drooling over Castrogonia
Get ready. The floodgates are about to open on travel to the Castro Kingdom.
Yeah. The betrayal of the Cuban people has already been carefully set in place at the State Department.
Much like the rumblings that precede an earthquake, the tremors felt at a travel industry show this week point to a seismic shift in U.S. policy towards Castrogonia. The travel fair was sponsored by The New York Times.
The bête noire orchestrating this seismic shift is Raymond McGrath, coordinator for Cuban Affairs at the U.S. State Department. Search on the internet for information on McGrath and you will be hard pressed to find anything substantial. Judging solely from the comments he made at this travel fair, it seems that he is a graduate of the same "Cuba expert" school that trained Phil Peters and Julia Sweig.
Another sinister presence hovering over this issue is the "non-profit" Fund for Reconciliation and Development headed by John McAuliff, a long-time proponent of "respecting" and doing business with repressive communist states. The FFRD was established in 1965 in response to the war in Southeast Asia. Its aim was full "reconciliation" with the communists who were seeking to control the area, including Pol Pot in Cambodia. According to its own mission statement, this organization was established by Quakers and their American Friends Service Committee. It branched out to include Cuba in 1998.
Good luck finding information on the funding sources for these lobbyists.
The FFRD's aim is identical to those of the repressive regimes it lobbies for. In the case of Cuba/ U.S. relations, the FFRD aims to "foster respect for both countries institutions and right to self-determination."
Yes, "self-determination"... you know, the right to oppress mercilessly, as in the killing fields of Cambodia and the gulags of Castrogonia. And "respect" too... you know, respect for oppression, torture, and genocide.
As McAuliff said in a previous interview: "U.S. officials should respect the authority of Cuba’s socialist government rather than trying to undermine it."
Unfortunately, it seems that this kind of "respect" is now the determining factor in U.S. policy towards the Castro dictatorship.
Tour bookers hopeful U.S. may ease rules on travel to Cuba
While more than half a million Americans are already traveling to Cuba legally every year, the door could open wider. There are indications of a thawing of relations, even as the decades-old embargo remains in place, according to travel professionals who gathered Saturday at The New York Times Travel Show.
Currently, visits by Cuban family members are allowed as well as tour groups that follow cultural agendas that don't allow much independent travel.
"I think there will be general licenses before the spring is over," said John McAuliff, the executive director of the U.S. not-for-profit Fund for Reconciliation and Development. "It means you can stay in bed and breakfasts, eat in private restaurants, take the public buses, rent a car and pick up Cuban hitchhikers. It becomes a totally different process of engagement."
Raymond McGrath, the U.S. State Department's coordinator for Cuban affairs, participated in the Cuba panel at the travel show and acknowledged that changes have been underway. But he advised travelers and tour operators to research their trips, make sure they're not stage-managed the entire time, and then return to the U.S. to add to "educated debate" on the topic.
"Cuba caused a lot of trouble," McGrath said. "Fidel Castro caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people all over the world for a long, long time. And the reason that to a certain extent ended was because he ran out of money, not because he had a change of heart.
"But things have changed and change will continue to happen," he added. "It is U.S. policy to encourage purposeful travel ... as well as family travel to Cuba.
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