They write letters…

And sometimes those letters are written by a U.S. Senator.

Via The New York Times:

Going to Cuba

To the Editor:

Regarding “Cuba Opens Up, Group by Group” (Sept. 15): Since United States laws prohibit American tourism in Cuba, I was surprised to see in the Travel section a full-page feature for Americans who want to visit Cuba.

As The Times highlighted, several American tour companies are exploiting President Obama’s “people-to-people” program to take American tourists to Cuba. Unfortunately, while going in-depth to detail the art, cigar-making and Latin dancing Americans might enjoy while visiting Cuba on one of these trips, The Times failed to make any mention of the ongoing human rights abuses being committed by the Cuban regime or how the regime benefits financially from American tourism.

The Times also neglected to recognize that the Cuban regime does not allow the tour companies profiled to facilitate visits between Americans and brave members of Cuba’s pro-democracy movement.

Considering these grim realities, I urge both President Obama and The Times to more carefully review Cuban travel in the future.

Marco Rubio

11 thoughts on “They write letters…”

  1. Many of the travel companies offering these package tours to Cuba are themselves fronts for Marxist organizations. One of these outfits, Global Exchange, was founded by Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin. The tour guides they provide are eager propagandists of the Castro dictatorship. You can read about one such trip in Regina Anavy’s fine book, Out of Cuba (see left side-bar).

    By the way, Global Exchange also offers tours to Nicaragua, Venezuela, Palestine (sic), and Iran.

  2. You would think that the NYT’s would publish Rubio’s letter as a separate Opinion Piece, instead of merely as an average Joe Blow letter to the editor lost among other letters. He’s a United States Senator after all.

    But then again, I am expecting too much [namely decency] of the NYT’s.

  3. Rayarena, his letter was all of 5 sentences. Two of the sentences were introductory fluff (“I was surprised to see”, “As The Times highlighted”).

    Griffin’s comment above your own contained as many sentences as Rubio’s letter, and Griffin made more solid points than did Rubio.

    Seriously, I doubt that any halfway serious newspaper would publish something as short as Rubio’s letter as an “Opinion Piece” no matter who writes it.

  4. Marhare,

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the NYT’s edited his letter. I’ve known people who have written letters-to-the-editor of the NYT’s and their letters have been severely cut down and the wallop removed.

  5. I recently went on a Tauck Tour to the National Parks. They earn their excellent reputation. First class all the way.
    That’s why I was stunned to see a Tauck Tour to Cuba. Same number of days, very few first class accommodations, nothing of real interest included in the tour, only artists and “cultural exchanges” and “dancers” etc. The tour cost about double what my tour cost. Castro needs lots of money to pay all of his thugs.
    Disgusting. I wrote them a letter. They are going anyway.

  6. From the Tauck site about Cuba tour: Who are Tauck’s local guides in Cuba?
    Upon arriving with your Tauck group in Havana, you will be introduced to Tauck’s Cuban local guides, who will accompany your group along with your Tauck Director throughout your trip. Trained and experienced professionals fluent in English as well as in Spanish, Tauck’s handpicked Cuban guides will share their knowledge of and passion for their homeland with you, and pave the way for the direct personal and cultural contacts you will make with their fellow Cubans through your People-to-People explorations – personally introducing you to the real Cuba and enabling you to connect with the country, its people and its culture as only Tauck can.

    Standard Cuba potemkin tour.

  7. I wrote them and told them there probably is going to be a Cuban guide with you all the time. He will be a propagandist for the regime.

    • The Cuban guides might not be the most doctrinaire. On the tour described by Regina Anavy, the Cuba guides were often quite honest, if cautious in their comments. The American guides provided by the tour company were the True Believers and caused the Cubans to roll their eyes when the Marxist fanatics went on about the achievements of the revolution and the wicked Yankee blockade.

      Two years ago, I joined a tour of Havana (I know, I’m Canadian). The two Cuban tour guides took turns talking and pointing out the sights. One was very doctrinaire, the other less so. While making an ambiguous remark, the nice tour guide would stroke his chin and say, “Hmm”… this was a sign that he was referring to Fidel. For example, while showing us a statue of Che, the guide said, “To this day, nobody knows how the CIA ever discovered where Che was in Bolivia. Hmm… (stroke chin). ”

      At one point, when the doctrinaire guide was away from the group, the nice guide described how severe the repression of religion used to be and while touching the religious medallion around his neck, he said it was somewhat better now. Then he slipped the medallion back into his shirt when the bad guide returned, and stroked his chin. But the most vehemently pro-Castro people I met in Havana were not Cuban: they were fellow Canadians on the tour. They angrily rejected any evidence that Cuba was not a socialist paradise.

      In my opinion, these “people-to-people” tours organized by companies staffed by leftist Americans will not show their tourists the real Cuba, nor will the Americans get a chance to meet ordinary Cubans away from tightly supervised functions. The only way to see the real Cuba is to strike out on your own, as I later did, and avoid all tour groups. Everybody I met was struggling to survive, and fearful of the secret police. Their attitudes toward the Cuban system was either hostility and resentment, or cynical resignation. Nobody I met on my own supported the government, although I am sure there are those who do for whatever perks such militancy provides.

  8. Griffin, can you explain the willingness of people to pay twice as much to go to Cuba with Tauck on a less dense tour and a less than first class tour by a mile? What is the motivation of giving away their money like this?

    • Honey, no idea. But in reading over the tour agenda it sounds like a well planned propaganda program: “discussions of US-Cuba relations” , “managing Cuba’s land more effectively through agrarian reform” …it could have been written up by the Cuban Ministry of the Interior.

      I won’t go back until the Castro’s regime is gone, but if one insists on going, I would recommend travelling on your own, not in a tour group. Stay at Casa Particulars and eat at paladars, not at resorts and hotels.

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