A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana

“The first US cruise liner to visit Cuba in about four decades arrived in Havana on Monday, May 2nd without a single tourist on board.”

This was published by the Cuban newspaper Granma. The article explained that the 700 tourist capacity of flagship Adonia of the Phantom line belonging to Carnival Company was filled with travelers in the US “People-to-People” for Cuba exchange program , 50 journalists, and senior management of the operating company of the ship, headquartered in Doral, Florida.

The Cuban newspaper said that Carnival is one of the major cruise ship operators in the world and, although the laws of the US blockade against Cuba remain in force, the company decided, for this voyage, to take advantage of the recent executive measures by President Barack Obama’s administration that opened new doors for maritime transportation between the two countries.

In prior coordination with their Cuban counterparts, they designed a week-long itinerary with cultural activities not described as tourism, and within the twelve categories authorized by Washington. This was the content of the voyage of the ship that touched Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

The restoration of diplomatic relations, which culminated in the official reopening of the US Embassy in Havana, has been one of the catalysts for the accelerated increase in visitor arrivals in the Caribbean country.

It is known that, before that historic moment, several thousand US citizens had travelled to the island despite the fact that the blockade’s measures did not allow them to do so as real tourists. Washington does not authorize them to visit beaches and other recreational centers so that they do not “bring their money to Castro.”

Many risked travelling to Cuba despite the prohibition, and the Cuban border authorities acted in complicity with such a “crime” by not stamping their passports. Thus, there would be no evidence of their entrance and departure from the island.

The rapprochement between the two nations has increased world interest in Cuba which, in turn, has developed various strategies to strengthen its tourism industry and expand its hotel capacity. It also works on several fronts to improve the quality of services to visitors.

The avalanche of US citizens who have been coming to Cuba since mid-December 2014 reaches figures that far exceed the number of US visitors to the island at any stage before the triumph of the Revolution and the breakdown of diplomatic relations decreed by Washington and the ban on travel of their citizens to Cuba.

In one way or another, the US corporate media wrote, “Tourists flock to Cuba before the Americans come.” “This phenomenon is nothing but a sign that the aim is to see Cuba now, before –as many predict– the US mega-corporations are set in the island.”

The US government’s ban on travel to Cuba by US citizens, has been in place for more than half a century, as part of the blockade. This unjustifiable hostility against Cuba has been in place since the triumph of its popular revolution against the Batista dictatorship. Now you can see it is being turned against the enemies of the Cuban government like a boomerang.

But what worries many US Americans who admire the great popular conquests achieved by Cuba since1959 to the present is that these may be affected by the temptations of capitalism, in the new conditions of non-hostile relations between the island and the world’s only superpower.

Obviously, they think that some main features of capitalist relations, such as the fracturing of society, selfishness, consumerism and corruption, could make a dent in the order of priorities that has led the country from 1959 to the present.

It is understandable that the US public –that has been for more than half a century subject to the slanderous media campaign against the political, social and economic situation of the Cuban revolution– has a distorted image of the reality on the island. This is the case, even among those who see Cuba’s unique achievements sympathetically.

Cuba has been isolated from the US capitalist system but has continued to co-exist with capitalism in the rest of the world. This has not eroded Cubans’ will to build a socialist future infinitely more democratic than that offered by capitalism, a system which Cubans already know and from which they have suffered.

This article was translated from the Spanish by Walter Lippmann for the invaluable CubaNews.

More articles by:

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring