So far, the Obama administration’s unilateral concessions to the Castro dictatorship allowing Americans to vacation in Cuba under the guise of “people-to-people” contacts is working exactly as the Cuban regime planned:
[…] “In principle, the president’s January announcement means virtually any American with a serious interest in Cuba can visit,” he said.
Among other things, the new regulations permit Americans to go to Cuba through travel agencies such as Insight Cuba that obtain a U.S. license to conduct “purposeful travel,” which means it must be educational and interactive with Cubans.
“No beaches,” said Popper.
The tourists were spread out across Cuba this week, but upon arrival last Thursday, one participant extolled the virtues of the travel opening.
“It’s marvellous that more people can come here because of the fact that it’s people-to-people rather than government-to-government. I think people have a way of coming to terms with an awful lot of trouble that governments can’t do,” said the man who, in a possible bow to political sensitivities, identified himself as James Bond.
Popper said the Cuban government has helped set up events for the group, including sessions with officials who took “very strong questions” from the group.
Critics have charged they will get a sanitized view of Cuba, but Popper disagreed. “There’s no sugarcoating,” he said.
The cash-strapped Cuban government welcomes more Americans because tourism is a major money earner for the island, but also because it gets a chance to change perceptions.
“I think they believe that since their politicians are not able to work out anything diplomatic, each person who goes back to the United States has a new and different perspective,” Popper said.
It appears to work, because he said most visitors leave saying “Cuban life isn’t as bad as I thought.”