Run that by me again

From the LA Times’ travel blog comes this insightful and informative post about traveling to Cuba as a tourist. You know, the “silver bullet” that will end all of Cuba’s human rights woes and usher in democracy once the archaic and ineffective US embargo is lifted and American tourists flood the island with their magic dollars and their subversive talk of freedom and democracy.
The post quotes Christopher P. Baker, author of several tourist guidebooks to Cuba. Mr. Baker shows us how much improvement over the past few years has been seen on the island after the arrival of millions of tourists from other free and democratic countries and their subsequent spending of billions of Euros, Pound Notes, and–one would assume if you believe everything you hear–their spreading of subversive democratic ideals among the oppressed Cuban population through interaction if not sheer osmosis.

And though the many locals may still be cruising in 50-year-old vehicles, rental cars (from Hyundais and Toyotas to VWs, BMWs and Audis) are available nationwide, Baker said. (But he warned that maintenance is “a problem, and contracts that include rip-off clauses are an irritant.”)
Baker also noted that Cuba has “an efficient, high-quality tourist bus service called Viazul and has just signed a deal to overhaul its rail networks with 100 locomotives from China and rolling stock from Iran. But when it comes to domestic air travel, Baker cautions, planes are “unreliable and uncomfortable.”
The food? “A few excellent restaurants with consistently good meals are to be found in Havana, and a fistful of other top-quality hotels are sprinkled around the isle,” said Baker. “But for the most part, food remains one of the serious weak links, as are pilfering of guests’ belongings by hotel staff, lousy Cuban management of hotels and tourist entities, and low-quality service at every level.”
[emphasis mine]

Wait a second, rewind the tape please. Do you mean to say, Mr. Baker, that after millions of tourists from all over the free world have visited Cuba the only things that have improved are the tourists’ choices of rental cars, the exclusive tourist bus service, and the tourists’ choices of top-quality hotels with good restaurants? After all the billions of dollars that have entered Cuba’s economy and the millions of tourists that have brought their ideas of democracy and freedom to Cuba, shouldn’t there be at least a minuscule improvement in the quality of life for the common Cuban slave laborer?
I keep hearing how lifting the embargo and flooding Cuba with American tourists will be the panacea to all of Cuba’s ills. It will be good for the Cuban people, they say. History and facts, however, is telling me that it will be good for the tourists, and the regime’s thugs that run this criminal tourist/slave enterprise.
So explain to me again how the ending of the US embargo is going to help the Cuban people.

3 thoughts on “Run that by me again”

  1. What bothers me the most is how tourism has now–according to the regime, the mainstream media, Castro apologists and assholes repeating the party line–become the panacea for all of Cuba’s problems, but back in the 1950’s it was seen as the root of all of Cuba’s problems! Didn’t Castro argue that American tourists had turned Cuba into the bordello of the Americas? Didn’t the mainstream media and Hollywood echo this charge? The old publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, years ago, even wrote a disgusting piece about going to Cuba with a group of fellow Americans and being ashamed of how his colleagues treated Cubans including inappropriate sexual behavior with underage girls. And in the famous post-Castro Cuban movie, LUCIA, there is a scene in which the pernicious debauchery of American tourists is clearly depicted.
    What has suddenly happened? Why is tourism now scene as the panacea for all of Cuba’s problems? Has the class of tourists who used to go to Cuba in the 1950’s changed? Where they more amoral back then, but somehow, today, are more high minded?
    Could it be because the regime needs hard currency? [rhetorical question]
    I’ve been to other countries not considered model democracies as a tourist and I’ve observed poverty. When traveling, I don’t have the opportunity nor desire to start trying to spread democracy or to act as an example to the peoples of the countries I have visited. Where do these assholes come up with this concept of American tourists spreading democracy???
    If this absurdity weren’t so harmful, I’d laugh! But it is harmful because people believe it!

  2. Ray, you made a very good point. It is amazing how the US’s involvement in prerevolutionary Cuba was the source of all that was wrong with Cuba, yet the US’s lack of involvement with post-revolutionary Cuba is the source of all that is wrong with Cuba.
    Regardless of which period we look at, the problem is not castro, but the US.

  3. So what’s the author of a tourist book going to say? Don’t go there? Who would publish such a tourist guide? The fact the guy even hints there are significant problems only underscores how seriously bad the situation must be in reality.

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