Yes, I know it’s no surprise, and it may be relatively minor, but it illustrates the longstanding Spanish failure to do right by Cuba — which is absolutely an obligation despite being flagrantly ignored. I suppose there is such a thing as genuine blindness, but there is also a thing called hijeputez.
After an 11-day stay in Cuba, Paco Nadal, via his blog “The Traveler” in El País (Spain’s New York Times) encourages readers to vacation in Cuba despite its current crisis. He acknowledges how bad things are for Cubans, but does not identify the root cause, calling Cuba “complex” and “different.” For, uh, balance, he admits Cuba’s political and economic system deserves criticism (but unqualified condemnation is naturally out of the question). However, he assures his audience tourists are barely affected by the dire conditions on the island, which won’t be their problem.
He adds that any minor inconvenience will be compensated by Cuba’s charms, scenery and friendly and lively savages, I mean people. Nadal stresses Cuba needs tourism, its #2 source of revenue, and says those who see ethical conflict in living it up in Cuba while its own people suffer should reason that, failing tourism, Cubans will be even worse off. Thus, by his reasoning, vacationing in Cuba is morally virtuous, or certainly justifiable.
He does not, of course, say anything about tourism revenue going largely to Cuba’s totalitarian regime and being used primarily to keep it in power, to the obvious detriment of ordinary Cubans and the perpetuation of their misery. He does not refer to the massive exodus or the hundreds of political prisoners. As noted here, he does not contrast the manic building of ever more tourist hotels with the horrible housing situation for the natives. He does not mention the ruling regime invests more in the tourist sector than in education, health care, social services, food production, leisure services, construction and science combined. He does not talk about rising crime, medicine shortages, infectious disease outbreaks or the exploitation by the state of tourist sector workers. But, you know, Cuba is complicated.
Regardless of Nadal’s politics, what he’s recommending will clearly help Cuba’s totalitarian dictatorship to stay in power, which is clearly bad for the Cuban people–who are not desperate to get out of Cuba for nothing. Needless to say, it will also help Spanish commercial interests on the island, which largely revolve around tourism. In other words, no matter what Nadal’s motives may be, he is at best a useful idiot, and I mean useful to the evil that has ruined Cuba and rules it with an iron grip. Thus, his position is not only unacceptable but abominable, though he’s certainly in tune with his employer. And do note the photos in his article, all classic promotional images straight out of travel industry ads. I’m not saying he was, but he might as well have been commissioned to write such a piece by Raúl Castro.
Nadal’s piece prompted a protest by some Cubans in Spain, summarized by the phrase “Your paradise, my prison.” They delivered an eloquent letter to the management of El País, whose text is included at the previous link and which I recommend reading. Alas, it is most unlikely to change anything at that bastion of leftist journalism (of sorts). It will simply be dismissed as the rantings of “those people.”
Again, this sort of thing is nothing new and it’s very, very Spanish. No, that does not apply to all Spaniards, but it applies to far too many, so many that it invites disgust, contempt and rejection. Spain is not Canada, the US, Venezuela or Mexico, let alone Russia or China. For reasons I need not elaborate upon, it simply has no excuse — except, I suppose, that it is what it is and, like my mother used to say, que no puede con su condición.
Bottom line: Why would tourists want to go to a third-world shithole ruled by a perverse dictatorship where nothing works for the natives, who either want to leave or live off relatives abroad? Why would they want a Potemkin experience that has nothing to do with real life for Cubans? Why would they finance the system responsible for such a situation, which cares more about their money than the needs of its citizens? How hard is this to figure out?