Capitalists cavorting in Cuba: American tourism funding dictatorship

And interesting and revealing article by James Varney in The Times-Picayune:

Capitalists cavorting in Cuba?

For an unabashed capitalist, there are more agreeable sights than “grandiose portraits” of the Communist executioner Che Guevara. On the other hand, it’s far better to gaze upon Guevara’s portrait with a tropical breeze at your back than upon the real thing with your back up against the wall.

It is that former, less lethal encounter that awaits those signing up for the “trip of a lifetime” with the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce. From June 21-28, the capitalism boosters will be running a visit to the paradise Fidel Castro hath wrought.

It should be stressed no laws are being broken here. The St. Tammany chamber has followed the complicated rules that still make travel to Cuba unnecessarily difficult. As always, the point isn’t that some frayed embargo is being violated, but that Cuba’s Communist overlords are pocketing much of the cash.

Both the promotional language of the trip and the chamber’s website underscore those points.

“This evening an Informational Briefing will be held at the hotel by a Chamber Explorations Representative about the day 2 charter flight to Havana and the start of your people to people experience to Cuba,” reads the alluring trip pitch.

One wonders if the briefing will be followed by prolonged and stormy applause. Cuba may offer romantic nights under Caribbean palms and mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio, but those pleasures may be enjoyed under the, ahem, censorious eyes of a “representative.”

But wait; there’s more. All this can be yours for the low starting price of just $3,999 per person. That’s right, a week in Cuba for only $1,000 more than the cost of the chamber’s trip later this year to the Bavarian Alps or the Danube River cruise.

Is it possible some Communist apparatchik is skimming some greenbacks here?

“I don’t want to comment on that,” said Lacey Toledano, president and chief executive of the St. Tammany West Chamber. “Everything has a price, and you can’t go unless it’s with a group with a license.”

Toledano, who is not slated to make the Cuba trip, is correct; after all, some of the chief benefits that accrue to totalitarian leaders are the rules and the money. But it’s passing strange that even a previous trip to China cost $1,000 less – including airfare – than the quick hop to Havana.

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