Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wish you were here?

A British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, today publishes an article on Cuba that should be required reading for anyone thinking of visiting the island.

Under the headline, "Cubans feel betrayed by tourist playground", the article looks at how ordinary Cubans feel about the tourist invasion orchestrated by the Castro regime over the past decade or so to prop up the economy following the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

The reporter points out that most Cubans struggle to survive on an average wage of less than £10 a month to buy food to supplement the meagre rations they get from the State.

On the other hand, visiting foreigners can spend almost double that on a taxi ride to the airport or on a meal in one of Old Havana's state-run restaurants.

Now, I grant you that this income and spending gap between rich Western tourists and locals is not a purely Cuban phenomenon. It is evident in most Third World countries.

But there is a key difference in Cuba, as made clear by one of those quoted by the paper, the dissident economist, Oscar Espinosa.

"It sticks in the throat," said Mr Espinosa, who was jailed in 2003 for criticising the Castro regime's economic strategy and who is now free on conditional releasesaid.

"Such obvious inequality in a country where for decades the people have laboured in the mistaken belief that they are creating a classless society. The truth is we have created a paradise for tourists and those that live off them, but for the rest of us, daily life gets worse.”

Read the article here.

H/T Babalu Team.


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