Monday, 14 May 2018

CUBA: No More Enclave And Apartheid Tourism, Though Tourism And Travel Have Been Distorted By Trump

Havana Capital City Of Cuba
Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

It lies 145km (90 miles) south of Key West, Florida, between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, east of Mexico and northwest of Jamaica.

Cuba became a U.S. protectorate in 1898 after American and Cuban forces defeated Spanish forces during the Spanish-American War.

In 1902, the Platt Amendment ended the U.S. military occupation of Cuba, but the United States reserved the right to intervene in Cuban affairs in order to defend Cuban independence and to maintain a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty.

Between 1902 and 1959, many U.S. citizens lived in Cuba or frequently traveled to Cuba.

The Cuban economy relied heavily on tourism from the U.S. and Canada. Havana had a large number of shows, events, and hotels catering to tourists.

Fulgencio Batista was the elected President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and U.S.-backed dictator from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the Cuban Revolution.
Coco Taxis in Cuba
The Cuban Revolution or Revolucion cubana was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement and its allies against the right-wing dictatorship government of Fulgencio Batista.

The revolution began in July 1953, and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 1 January 1959.

The Cuban Revolution was a crucial turning point in U.S.-Cuban relations. Although the American government was initially willing to recognize Castro's new government, it soon came to fear that Communist insurgencies would spread through the nations of Latin America, as they had in Southeast Asia.

Castro, meanwhile, resented the Americans for providing aid to Batista's government during the revolution.

After the revolutionary government nationalized all U.S. property in Cuba in August 1960, the American Eisenhower administration froze all Cuban assets on American soil, severed diplomatic ties and tightened its embargo of Cuba.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower secretly began planning efforts to assassinate or overthrow Castro, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion, which eventually occurred during the administration of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

When Castro asked the U.S. for new armaments, President Eisenhower refused keeping the arms embargo in place. In response, Castro began purchasing weapons from the Soviet Union.

In October, 1960, a private U.S. oil refinery in Cuba refused to refine a shipment of Soviet crude oil.

In response, Castro nationalized all oil refineries in Cuba, without compensating the owners. Private U.S. companies had owned all of the refineries at the time.

In the ensuing months, the U.S. incrementally expanded its embargo, and Castro incrementally nationalized more U.S. companies.
Ultimately, President Kennedy added travel restrictions, which remained wholly in place until 2016.

After 1959, Cuban tourism diminished drastically and was mostly for people within the Soviet block.

As a result, Cuba did not renew many facilities until the 1990s, when Cuba lost financial backing from the defunct Soviet Union, when Cuba opened its doors to foreign tourism and the possession of foreign currency.

Now many European, Canadian, and even American visitors come to the island. In the typical tourist regions like Varadero and Holguin many modern 3-star to 5-star hotels are available, while in less popular tourist regions visitors are still able to rent rooms in many Cuban homes called casas particulares.

Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as enclave tourism and tourism apartheid.

Contact between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal between 1992 and 1997.

The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.

Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.

1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of US$2.1 billion.

Cuba recorded 2,688,000 international tourists in 2011, the third-highest figure in the Caribbean behind the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
The medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.

A recent study indicates that Cuba has a potential for mountaineering activity, and that mountaineering could be a key contributor to tourism, along with other activities, e.g. biking, diving, caving.

Promoting these resources could contribute to regional development, prosperity, and well-being.

The Cuban Justice minister downplays allegations of widespread sex tourism.

According to a Government of Canada travel advice website, Cuba is actively working to prevent child sex tourism, and a number of tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors aged 16 and under.

Prison sentences range from 7 to 25 years.

Some tourist facilities were extensively damaged on 8 September 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit the island.

The storm made landfall in the Camaguey Archipelago; the worst damage was in the keys north of the main island, however, and not in the most significant tourist areas.

Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited for U.S. citizens by statues of a U.S. Congress Law.

However, in March, 2016 The Obama administration issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel.

Individuals who meet the regulatory conditions of the general license they seek to travel under do not need to apply for an additional license from OFAC to travel to Cuba.
The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are:

- family visits

- official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;

- Journalistic activity

- Professional research and professional meetings

- Educational activities

- Religious activities

- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people

- Humanitarian projects

- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes

- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials

_ Certain authorized export transactions.

Due to several long-standing factors e.g. U.S. embargo against Cuba, bureaucratic ineffectiveness, and the loss of Soviet subsidies, today much of the country's infrastructure is desperately in need of repair.

Major tourist destinations have no problems with power or water. Electricity outages have been common in Cuba, except in tourist facilities.

Since 2006 was designated the Year of the Energy Revolution in Cuba, Cubans have installed many small generators to avoid blackouts.
Since Venezuela began providing Cuba with cheap oil and Cuba restarted the refinery in Cienfuegos, the energy situation has improved.

Many tourist accommodations offer 220V as well as 110V power sources. This is adequate for your power needs and should be enough to accommodate anything you plug in, at least to a reasonable limit.

Cuba is an archipelago of islands located in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

It lies between latitudes 19° and 24°N, and longitudes 74° and 85°W. The United States lies 150 kilometers (93 miles) across the Straits of Florida to the north and northwest (to the closest tip of Key West, Florida), and the Bahamas 21 km (13 mi) to the north.

Mexico lies 210 kilometers (130 miles) across the Yucatan Channel to the west, to the closest tip of Cabo Catoche in the State of Quintana Roo.

Haiti is 77 km (48 mi) to the east, Jamaica (140 km/87 mi) and the Cayman Islands to the south.

Cuba is the principal island, surrounded by four smaller groups of islands: the Colorados Archipelago on the northwestern coast, the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago on the north-central Atlantic coast.

The Jardines de la Reina on the south-central coast and the Canarreos Archipelago on the southwestern coast.

The main island, named Cuba, is 1,250 km (780 mi) long, constituting most of the nation's land area (104,556 km2 (40,369 sq mi)) and is the largest island in the Caribbean and 17th-largest island in the world by land area.

The main island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains apart from the Sierra Maestra mountains in the southeast, whose highest point is Pico Turquino (1,974 m (6,476 ft)).
The second-largest island is Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the Canarreos archipelago, with an area of 2,200 km2 (849 sq mi). Cuba has an official area (land area) of 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi). Its area is 110,860 km2 (42,803 sq mi) including coastal and territorial waters.

Western Cuba - Pinar del Rio, Havana, Matanzas, Isla de la Juventud.

The capital, the rolling hills of Pinar del Rio and an off-the-beaten-path island with good scuba diving add up to an exciting region

Central Cuba - Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Santi Spíritus, Ciego de Avila,Camaguey.

Eastern Cuba - Las Tunas, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Guantanamo.

Cuba's population is multiethnic, reflecting its complex colonial origins. Intermarriage between diverse groups is widespread, and consequently there is some discrepancy in reports of the country's racial composition.

Whereas the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami determined that 62% of Cubans are black, the 2002 Cuban census found that a similar proportion of the population, 65.05%, was white.

In fact, the Minority Rights Group International determined that an objective assessment of the situation of Afro-Cubans remains problematic due to scant records and a paucity of systematic studies both pre- and post-revolution.

Estimates of the percentage of people of African descent in the Cuban population vary enormously, ranging from 34% to 62%".

A 2014 study found that autosomal genetic ancestry in Cuba is 72% European, 20% African, and 8% Indigenous.

Around 35% of maternal lineages derive from Cuban Indigenous People, compared to 39% from Africa and 26% from Europe, but male lineages were European 82% and African 18%, indicating a historical bias towards mating between foreign men and native women rather than the inverse.

Asians make up about 1% of the population, and are largely of Chinese ancestry, followed by Filipinos, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Many are descendants of farm laborers brought to the island by Spanish and American contractors during the 19th and early 20th century. The currently recorded number of Cubans with Chinese ancestry is 114,240.

Afro-Cubans are descended primarily from the Yoruba people, Bantu people from the Congo basin, Carabali people and Arara from the Dahomey as well as several thousand North African refugees, most notably the Sahrawi Arabs of Western Sahara.
In 2010, the Pew Forum estimated that religious affiliation in Cuba is 65% Christian 60% Roman Catholic or about 6.9 million in 2016, 5% Protestant or about 575,000 in 2016, 23% unaffiliated, 17% folk religion such as santeria, and the remaining 0.4% consisting of other religions.

Cuba is officially a secular state. Religious freedom increased through the 1980s, with the government amending the constitution in 1992 to drop the state's characterization as atheistic.

Roman Catholicism is the largest religion, with its origins in Spanish colonization. Despite less than half of the population identifying as Catholics in 2006, it nonetheless remains the dominant faith.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 1998 and 2011, respectively, and Pope Francis visited Cuba in September 2015.

Prior to each papal visit, the Cuban government pardoned prisoners as a humanitarian gesture.

The government's relaxation of restrictions on house churches in the 1990s led to an explosion of Pentecostalism, with some groups claiming as many as 100,000 members.

However, Evangelical Protestant denominations, organized into the umbrella Cuban Council of Churches, remain much more vibrant and powerful.

The religious landscape of Cuba is also strongly defined by syncretisms of various kinds. Christianity is often practiced in tandem with Santería, a mixture of Catholicism and mostly African faiths, which include a number of cults.

La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre or the Virgin of Cobre is the Catholic patroness of Cuba, and a symbol of Cuban culture. In Santeria, she has been syncretized with the goddess Oshun.

Cuba also hosts small communities of Jews 500 in 2012, Muslims, and members of the Baha'i Faith.

Several well-known Cuban religious figures have operated outside the island, including the humanitarian and author Jorge Armando Perez.

The official language of Cuba is Spanish and the vast majority of Cubans speak it. Spanish as spoken in Cuba is known as Cuban Spanish and is a form of Caribbean Spanish.

Lucumi, a dialect of the West African language Yoruba, is also used as a liturgical language by practitioners of Santeria, and so only as a second language.

Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. Other languages spoken by immigrants include Galician and Corsican.

Cuban culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain and Africa.

After the 1959 revolution, the government started a national literacy campaign, offered free education to all and established rigorous sports, ballet and music programs.

Cuban music is very rich and is the most commonly known expression of Cuban culture. The central form of this music is Son, which has been the basis of many other musical styles like Danzon de nuevo ritmo, mambo, cha-cha-chá and salsa music.
Rumba or de cajon o de solar music originated in the early Afro-Cuban culture, mixed with Hispanic elements of style.

The Tres was invented in Cuba from Hispanic cordophone instruments models, the instrument is actually a fusion of elements from the Spanish guitar and lute.

Other traditional Cuban instruments are of African origin, Taino origin, or both, such as the maracas, guiro, marímbula and various wooden drums including the mayohuacan.

Popular Cuban music of all styles has been enjoyed and praised widely across the world. Cuban classical music, which includes music with strong African and European influences, and features symphonic works as well as music for soloists, has received international acclaim thanks to composers like Ernesto Lecuona.

Havana was the heart of the rap scene in Cuba when it began in the 1990s.

During that time, reggaeton grew in popularity. In 2011, the Cuban state denounced reggaeton as degenerate, directed reduced low-profile airplay of the genre.

But did not ban it entirely and banned the megahit Chupi Chupi by Osmani Garcia, characterizing its description of sex as the sort which a prostitute would carry out.

In December 2012, the Cuban government officially banned sexually explicit reggaeton songs and music videos from radio and television. As well as pop, classical and rock are very popular in Cuba.
Ropa vieja
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor.

Food rationing, which has been the norm in Cuba for the last four decades, restricts the common availability of these dishes.

The traditional Cuban meal is not served in courses; all food items are served at the same time.

The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja or shredded beef, Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits.

Black beans and rice, referred to as moros y cristianos or moros, and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet.

Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are the dominant spices.

Ropa vieja is one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also popular in other areas of the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico and Panama. It consists of shredded or pulled stewed beef with vegetables.

Cities in Cuba

Havana – cosmopolitan capital with a swinging nightlife

Baracoa – a quaint beach-side town, and Cuba's first capital.

Pinar del Rio – centre of the cigar industry

Santa Clara – Home of Ernesto Che Guevara's most successful battle during the Revolution. A mausoleum is erected on the outskirts of town and now holds his remains, recovered from Bolivia in the 1990s.

Santiago de Cuba – coastal city rich in Caribbean influence

Trinidad – World Heritage Site with charming, colonial-era buildings

Varadero – popular beach area, east of Havana, filled mostly with tourists.

Other destinations in Cuba

Cayo Largo – a small island with nudist facilities

Isla de la Juventud – a large island south of Havana

Jardines del Rey – an island chain of beach resorts including Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo

Maria la Gorda – a tiny village with some snorkelling and diving options

Varadero Beach – 20-kilometre-long beach of fine white sand and waters

Vinales – A national park in Pinar del Rio province, with mountains and caves. It has the best-developed tourist facilities of Cuba's national parks.

Parque Nacional La Güira or La Guira National Park – Another national park in Pinar del Rio province, with mountains and caves, but without many tourist facilities.

Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Rosario – A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Sierra del Rosario mountains of Pinar del Rio province. The principal sites are Soroa and Las Terazzas.

Parque Nacional Cienaga de Zapata or Ciénaga de Zapata National Park – A national park in Mantanzas province, similar to Florida's Everglades National Park, with vast swamps and world-famous birdwatching, scuba diving, and beaches; and the site of the 1961 American Bay of Pigs invasion.

Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes or Topes de Collantes National Park – A national park in the Sierra del Emcambray mountains, straddling Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Sancti Spiritus provinces.

Parque Allejandro de Humboldt in Guantanamo province approx 40km from baracoa, offers walking, and conservation movements.

As of November 8th, 2017, the United States set new restrictions on U.S citizens traveling to Cuba

Havana Capital of Cuba

Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum.

The National Capitol Building is an iconic 1920s landmark. Also in Old Havana is the baroque Catedral de San Cristobal and Plaza Vieja, whose buildings reflect the city’s vibrant architectural mix.

Vintage American cars line the city’s streets and rumba groups play in the painted alley Callejon de Hamel. Salsa emanates from clubs and cabaret is performed at the famed Tropicana.

In Centro Habana, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes displays Cuban art, the stately Gran Teatro presents ballet and theater, and the Museo de la Revolucion inhabits the former presidential palace.

Along the water is the Malecón promenade and Playas del Este beaches. Just east of Havana in San Francisco de Paula is Finca Vigia, the former home now a museum, of the writer Ernest Hemingway.

Varadero, a Town in Cuba
Varadero, covering Cuba’s narrow Hicacos Peninsula, is a popular beach resort town. Along its 20km of Atlantic Ocean coastline is a string of all-inclusive hotel and spa complexes, and a golf course.

Near the peninsula’s eastern tip is Reserva Ecologica Varahicacos, a preserve with trails and an ancient burial cave. Parque Josone is a park with a pond and gardens.

At the peninsula's midpoint is Varadero Golf Club, with an 18-hole course and a hotel inhabiting a 1930 villa, Mansion Xanadu.

The tiny nearby islands of Cayo Piedras del Norte and Cayo Romero are popular diving and snorkeling destinations.

Outside Varadero on the mainland is provincial capital, Matanzas, featuring ornate colonial architecture.

The nearby Cuevas de Bellamar are a vast cave complex. The Rio Canimar offers river cruises past mangrove thickets and other tropical vegetation.

San Miguel de los Banos is a mostly-abandoned spa town from the early 20th century.

Trinidad is a town in central Cuba, known for its colonial old town and cobblestone streets. Its neo-baroque main square, Plaza Mayor, is surrounded by grand colonial buildings.

Museo Romantico, in the restored Palacio Brunet mansion, and Museo de Arquitectura Colonial display relics from the town’s sugar-producing era. Iglesia de la Santisima is a 19th-century cathedral with a vaulted ceiling and carved altars.

The neoclassical Municipal History Museum exhibits colonial and revolutionary artifacts. There are panoramic views from the top of its tower, and from the yellow-and-white bell tower of the nearby St. Francis of Assisi Convent.

In the mountains north of town, trails lead through the dense forests of Topes de Collantes National Park to the towering Salto de Caburní waterfall.

East of town, the green valleys of Valle de los Ingenios are dotted with plantation houses and ruins from the sugar industry.

On the south coast, Ancón is known for its beaches. The tiny island of Cayo Blanco draws divers and snorkelers to its coral reefs.

Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the capital of Cuba's southeastern Santiago de Cuba Province, facing a bay off the Caribbean Sea.

Founded by the Spanish in 1515, it's known for colonial architecture and revolutionary history.

The city's distinctive Afro-Cuban cultural influences are on display during July's Carnaval, a festival with drum-beating parades featuring colorful costumes and son dancing, a precursor to salsa.

Guarding the bay, Castillo del Morro is a massive, 17th-century Spanish fortress. The city's colonial quarter contains the Casa de Diego Velazquez, the 16th-century adobe home of Cuba's first colonial governor and founder of Cuba's first Spanish settlements.

The Emilio Bacardi Moreau museum displays Cuban fine art and colonial artifacts, while the Museo de la Lucha Clandestina chronicles the city's pre-revolutionary underground.

Famed poet and Cuban nationalist Jose Marti is buried in a grand mausoleum at Cementerio Santa Efigenia, also the resting place of revolutionary Frank País and renowned musician Compay Segundo.

Tourism Observer

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