The Lure of Cuba

Reaching New Heights
{Updated: Wednesday, December 30th, 2015}
        The London Daily Mail -- one of the digital world's best and most visited sites -- used the above photo to highlight an insightful article on Dec. 28th-2015 on tourist destinations for Brits in 2016. The caption for this photo read: "Next year Spain will reign as the number one holiday spot for Britons. But other countries are increasing in popularity, with Cuba, Colombia and Iran all tempting bucket-list additions."
          Monday's London Daily Mail article used this photo of the Havana Cathedral to illustrate the renewed lure for Brits to travel to Cuba in the New Year -- 2016!! The caption stated: "Cuba comes in from the cold: It's now easier for Americans to visit Cuba and the country is allowing its population to run private restaurants for the first time ever, which is good news. Cuba is increasingly popular with all travelers at the moment, to the extent that many hotels and tours are already sold out for 2016." Tourism in Cuba boomed following President Obama's Dec. 17-2014 announcement that he hoped to normalize relations with Cuba.
       Throughout 2015 Cuba used money generated by increased tourism to renovate many buildings in Old Havana, including El Capitolito. This famous capital building, modeled after the one in Washington, was closed for months while the renovations were taking place. Visitors to Cuba in the promising New Year of 2016 will notice the improvements made to El Capitolito and other historic structures around Havana.
And speaking of the Lure of Cuba:
      The U. S. Congress has mandated a plethora of laws designed to lure Cubans to emigrate to the United States. The purpose of the infamous Wet Foot/Dry Foot law, which dates back to 1966, is to hurt Cuba and sate the revenge motives of extremists Cuban-Americans. It is one of many discriminatory, undemocratic U. S. laws that favor Cubans at the expense of all non-Cubans. Any Cuban who touches U. S. soil is home-free, with instant benefits courtesy of the U. S. tax-payers. Fearful that President Obama's normalization plans might end Wet Foot/Dry Foot {which Congress will keep in place}, a tsunami of Cubans headed to the Mexican border on their way to touch U. S. soil has resulted in chaos. The above photo shows some of the 8,000 Cubans stranded for weeks at the Nicaraguan-Costa Rican border because Nicaragua has blocked their passage. At the moment, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc., are frantically trying to solve the dilemma and get these Cubans on their way to the U. S. where, beginning when their front foot touches U. S. soil, they instantly become legal residents with instant financial benefits. All others -- including children from crime-infested areas of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador -- would instantly be subject to incarceration and deportation. In other words, President Obama, in this fast-fading year of 2015, has created two gigantic lures: {1} to visit a fast-changing Cuba; and {2} to encourage Cubans to migrate quickly to U. S. soil JUST IN CASE Wet Foot/Dry Foot Cuban-only incentives end. Panama, by the way, is complaining about 1,000 Cubans in its country trying to join the 8,000 stuck in Costa Rica!!
       In this OLD year of 2015 and in the NEW year of 2016, your best source for getting accurate and insightful news from inside Cuba is Marc Frank. He is the great journalist for Reuters. His year-ending article yesterday updated Cuba's economy, which expanded by 4% in 2015 but the projection for 2016 has been halved to 2%. Frank reports that tourism is booming but the island's four main exports -- nickel, sugar, oil, and service professionals in other countries -- "have all fallen significantly." The newly attained and very firm control of the Venezuelan Congress by anti-Cuban, pro-U. S. politicians sharply impacts Cuba, which receives over 100,000 barrels of oil each day from oil-rich, cash-poor, inflation-roiled, and crime-infested Venezuela. According to Frank, Cuba in return has "30,000 doctors and nurses, plus another 10,000 professionals" working in Venezuela. Frank says the Venezuelan oil is vital to Cuba, "some of which it refines and sells." Also, Venezuela in addition to the oil pays Cuba cash for those 40,000 professionals but that "is tied to the oil prices," which are drastically low. Venezuela's Cuba-friendly President, Nicolas Maduro, is barely holding on against powerful U.S.-friendly opposition forces. Frank reports that is why Cuban President Raul Castro yesterday {Dec. 29th} told the year-end-session of the Cuban National Assembly that the island in 2016, despite the boom in tourism, will be faced with "financial limitations associated with the fall in earnings of traditional exports." So, in 2016 just like in 2015, Cuban-watchers can depend on Marc Frank of Reuters for the most accurate news emanating day-by-day from the island.  

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