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Tuesday, September 26 2017 @ 05:11 AM AST

Cuba tourism may get boost from new US hype but is now a good time to go?

Despite all the hype coming out of international media, nothing in Cuba has fundamentally changed. Cubans are still suffering. Raul and other party leaders are still free while the average Cuban is still deprived.


Some Cuban mothers would still be tempted to send their sons off on a raft to Miami, or put their teenage daughters "to work" the streets. By all accounts from journalists who have visited, the Cuban people are still suffering, so before you jump on a plane and fly to Cuba to enjoy yourself, please ask yourself these questions.

Is other people's suffering a tourist attraction? Are you fascinated by it? You want "to see" as if it's some sort of spectacle?

Does your tourist dollar stretch further because everything is cheap, as everything has to be cheap because the Cuban system keeps everyone broke, most people are making less than US$20 a month.

Is this why everyone comes back saying what a good time they had? Because "services" and everything is sooooo affordable? Have you asked yourself why? Those products and services have value. If you're not paying it's full value, then who is? Is it OK to "have a good time" on the backs of poor people (even those who refuse to acknowledge that they live in abject poverty)?

So what? You're planning to take toilet paper and soap as charity to give to the Cubans you meet there? Isn't that funny because with one hand you're benefiting from the government's exploitation of the Cuban people, and with the other hand, you're pretending to care about these people?

It's all the US fault? After more than a half century, they're still blaming the US for the fruits of communism? Have they not had time to make their system work? Are they not just making excuses?

Will you be careful not to make any Cuban friends? Because unlike you, they can't jump on a plane and freely leave the country.

How can you say that visiting as a tourist is not supporting the regime? Do you think the state shares out the profits from the stores among the workers? Do you think the stores pay the workers fair wages?

Even if you keep your spending in the informal economy, or buy everything on the black market, are you not contributing to the imbalance and inequality? What about the teacher or the doctor or the economist who does not have a black market item to peddle? Too bad for them? Not your problem, you are doing your part?

How is it different from South Africa's apartheid when the government designates the fully-stocked stores for tourists and limited-supply stores for locals? How is the Cuban government better than the Klu Klux Klan when they designate these beaches are for tourists and these others are for locals?

Do you think Cuba's party leaders eat the same food as the people? Is that OK because "all men are equal but some men are more equal than others" or what? How does that gel with you?

While you're enjoying (or being) the lady above, do you think giving charity to the lady below is not helping the Cuban regime by subsidizing it (albeit badly)? All I ask is that you think about that.

I think the US should lift the embargo entirely. Leave it up to individuals to choose to impose their own embargo on an oppressive regime that has impoverished, and imprisoned over 11 million people. Solely by fortune of the location of your birth, you are not one of them.


- Photos by Nick Kenrick, Flickr

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