Some inherent rights take five decades to be granted in Cuba. The right to stay at a modern hotel in a national tourist attraction by Cuban citizens is just one of them. I personally witness this form of apartheid when I visited Cuba a number of years ago. I could stay at a fancy hotel in the center of Havana, eat a sumptuous meal at one of its restaurants and take in a show. My cousins who were still living, and working and sacrificing in Cuba, could not.
That seems to be changing by decree from above. I suspect that the reason might have everything to do do with financial calculus and zero to do with citizen’s rights or humanitarian considerations.
NPR’s Nick Miroff has the full story from Havana:
Cuba’s President Raul Castro put an end last year to the country’s so-called tourism apartheid that banned ordinary Cubans from staying at tourist hotels.
The change has brought something new this summer to the island’s all-inclusive resorts: Cuban tourists.
With 12 miles of white sand beaches and more than 50 hotels, Varadero is one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean. Foreign companies partner with the Cuban government to run the place, and it’s a bit like Cancun without the American college kids.
Varadero is still off-limits to American tourists under U.S. law, and for years it was pretty much that way for Cubans, too. Cuban workers cleaned the hotel rooms and staffed the restaurants, but the island’s communist authorities wouldn’t let them check in as guests.
That policy ended with reforms initiated by Raul Castro, who succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel.
Now, dozens of tour buses packed with Cuban vacationers are pouring daily into Varadero. For less than $200 per person, Cubans can buy a weeklong, all-inclusive package and finally claim their places in the sand alongside budget-minded Europeans and Canadians.
Cubans are still waiting, after 50 years, for the granting of other simple human rights, like freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to travel abroad…
They’re still waiting for just plain freedom.