Raul Castro ends "tourist apartheid" and opens hotels to Cubans
Cuba has opened as of Monday luxury hotels and resorts to all Cubans,
ending a ban long described in the island as "tourist apartheid". This
is the latest is a series of decision to lift bans and regulations on
goods and services which anyhow most Cubans can't afford.
Cubans with foreign cash allowed into top Hotels
Since been confirmed as president Raul Castro has allowed Cubans with
foreign cash to buy computers, DVD players, plasma televisions and in
the coming days cell phones, consumer goods only companies and
foreigners were previously permitted to buy.
However the latest surprise, allowing ordinary citizens into luxury
hotels and resort beaches long reserved for rich foreigners, is a
particularly symbolic victory for Cuba's everyman.
Nevertheless the measure is largely symbolic since tourist hotels in
Cuba can cost anywhere from 60 to more than 200 US dollars a night, well
out of reach for most Cubans who on average earn 20 dollars a month.
The latest announcements follow on February's promises when Raul Castro
succeeded his ailing brother Fidel as president. When he took the helm
Raúl said reforms would be on the way.
"I have referred to an excess of prohibitions and regulations, and in
the next few weeks we'll start lifting the most simple of them," he said.
In a video that made the rounds on the Internet in February, a student
asked the president of Cuba's National Assembly why Cubans could not
travel freely to such resorts. Though such public displays of discontent
are rare, the video echoed sentiments voiced in private for years,
particularly since the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991 when Cuba lost
billions of dollars in subsidies.
Tourism has become Cuba's main hard currency industry with an average
two million tourists, mainly from Europe visiting the island annually.