Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Here we go again

I have commented previously on otherwise hard-nosed Western journalists who visit Cuba for the first time and return home to write glowing accounts of life on Fidel Castro’s island paradise.

So, here is another one.

This one is called Michael Lipton and he writes for the Charleston Daily Mail.

Mr Lipton has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Cuba and has written a lengthy and most positive account of his action-packed trip to Havana and parts of Pinar del Rio province.

As expected, there are plenty of references to Cubans being happy, proud of the Revolution, well-educated, and enjoying excellent health care, affordable housing, etc, etc, etc. The sort of stuff you read in the Cuban media every second day.

And even the all-too obvious inconsistencies of the regime don’t seem to bother our intrepid traveller too much.

Mr Lipton writes approvingly of the "efficient" system introduced by the regime whereby Cuban workers are paid in almost-worthless ordinary pesos while the more valuable convertible pesos (the ones you can exchange for real currency) are reserved just for foreigners.

“It's a brilliant system that makes a stay in Cuba incredibly easy and much less of an ‘adventure’ than expected,” he opines.

As for all that nonsense talk of oppression and censorship and political dissents being jailed, well, Mr Lipton found that indeed, police officers stood “on nearly every corner”. “Yet, unlike the imposing, machine gun-wielding police I've encountered in Russia and Argentina, they appeared completely benign, at least for foreigners,” he adds.

See? That’s what happens when you drink a mojito too many.


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