As we reported earlier, the Ladies in White were violently arrested yesterday in Havana by Cuban State Security in yet another Sunday of brutal repression. Meanwhile, as these courageous women all dressed in white bravely stood up to a totalitarian dictatorship, there was another group of people in Havana dressed in white as well: American tourists.
While the Ladies in White were being beaten and brutalized, a group of American tourists were just waking up from an extravagant champagne dinner in Havana called the “Dinner in White” (via AFP):
“Dressing in all white — the ambience, the Champagne, the sparkles — I love it,” exclaimed Kay Barnes, who traveled from Florida to participate along with hundreds of other Americans in Cuba’s first Dinner in White, a giant, chic, French-inspired picnic.
Ignoring the diplomatic tensions between Havana and Washington, the event took place Saturday evening in the seaside gardens of the Hotel Nacional, a Havana landmark that once hosted the likes of Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
As per protocol, the venue was kept secret up to the last minute.
Extravagant dress, masks and feathered hats were on display for the dinner, animated by an orchestra and more than 500 revelers, 80 percent of them Americans and most of the rest Cubans.
“Look around,” said Barnes. “It’s beautiful, it’s a sea of colors, a sea of nationalities, and it comes together here in Cuba. What a wonderful symbol of unity, and ‘diner en blanc,'” the French for dinner in white, “makes that happen.”
Even for the color white, the contrast here is quite stark. Cubans dressed in white are routinely beaten and jailed for protesting the Castro dictatorship while American tourists get to dress up in white to enjoy champagne and gourmet meals.
The photos from this affair clearly illustrate what American tourism to Castro’s Cuba’s truly looks like.