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    American Tourists Won’t Bring Democracy to Cuba

    American Tourists Won’t Bring Democracy to Cuba
    [02-02-2015 14:24:56]
    Jaime Suchlicki
    Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la
    Universidad de Miami

    (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Over the past decades hundred of thousands
    of Canadian, European and Latin American tourists have visited the
    island. Cuba is not more democratic today. If anything, Cuba is more
    totalitarian, with the state and its control apparatus having been
    strengthened as a result of the influx of tourist dollars.
    The assumption that tourism or trade will lead to economic and political
    change is not borne out by serious studies. In Eastern Europe, communism
    collapsed a decade after tourism peaked. No study of Eastern Europe or
    the Soviet Union claims that tourism, trade or investments had anything
    to do with the end of communism.

    The repeated statement that the embargo is the cause of Cuba’s economic
    problems is hollow. The reasons for the economic misery of the Cubans
    are a failed political and economic system. Like the communist systems
    of Eastern Europe, Cuba’s system does not function, stifles initiative
    and productivity and destroys human freedom and dignity.

    As occurred in the mid-1990s, an infusion of American tourist dollars
    will provide the regime with a further disincentive to adopt deeper
    economic reforms. Cuba’s limited economic reforms were enacted in the
    early 1990s, when the island’s economic contraction was at its worst.
    These reforms were rescinded by Castro as soon as the economy stabilized.

    The assumption that the Cuban leadership would allow U.S. tourists or
    businesses to subvert the revolution and influence internal developments
    is at best naïve.

    American tourists will have limited contact with Cubans. Most Cuban
    resorts are built in isolated areas, are off limits to the average
    Cuban, and are controlled by Cuba’s efficient security apparatus. Most
    Americans don’t speak Spanish, and are not interested in visiting the
    island to subvert its regime. Law 88 enacted in 1999 prohibits Cubans
    from receiving publications from tourists. Penalties include jail terms.

    Money from American tourists would flow into businesses owned by the
    Castro government thus strengthening state enterprises. The tourist
    industry is controlled by the military and General Raul Castro.

    While providing the Castro government with much needed dollars, the
    economic impact of tourism on the Cuban population would be limited.
    Dollars will trickle down to the Cuban poor in only small quantities,
    while state and foreign enterprises will benefit most.

    Tourist dollars would be spent on products, i.e., rum, tobacco, etc.,
    produced by state enterprises, and tourists would stay in hotels owned
    partially or wholly by the Cuban government. The principal airline
    shuffling tourists around the island, Gaviota, is owned and operated by
    the Cuban military.
    Once American tourists begin to visit Cuba, Castro would restrict travel
    by Cuban-Americans. For the Castro regime, Cuban-Americans represent a
    far more subversive group because of their ability to speak to friends
    and relatives.

    Lifting the travel ban without major concessions from Cuba would send
    the wrong message “to the enemies of the United States”: that a foreign
    leader can seize U.S. properties without compensation; allow the use of
    his territory for the introduction of nuclear missiles aimed at the
    United Sates; espouse terrorism and anti-U.S. causes throughout the
    world; and eventually the United States will “forget and forgive,” and
    reward him with tourism, investments and economic aid.

    Since the Ford/Carter era, U.S. policy toward Latin America has
    emphasized democracy, human rights and constitutional government. Under
    President Reagan the U.S. intervened in Grenada, under President Bush,
    Sr. the U.S. intervened in Panama and under President Clinton the U.S.
    landed marines in Haiti, all to restore democracy to those countries.
    Military intervention is not necessarily a policy toward Cuba. The U.S.
    has prevented military coups in the region and supported the will of the
    people in free elections. While this U.S. policy has not been uniformly
    applied throughout the world, it is U.S. policy in the region. Cuba is
    part of Latin America. A normalization of relations with a military
    dictatorship in Cuba will send the wrong message to the rest of the
    continent.

    Ending the travel ban and the embargo unilaterally does not guarantee
    that the Castro brothers will change their hostile policies against the
    U.S. or provide more freedoms and respect for human rights to the Cuban
    people.

    Supporting regimes and dictators that violate human rights and abuse
    their population is an ill-advised policy that rewards and encourages
    further abuses.
    A large influx of American tourists into Cuba would have a dislocating
    effect on the economies of smaller Caribbean islands and even Florida.

    If the travel ban is lifted without preconditions, Americans and
    Cuban-Americans could take their small boats from Florida and visit the
    island. Thousands of boats would be returning to Florida after visiting
    Cuba with illegal Cuban migrants and goods, complicating security and
    migration issues in South Florida.

    If the travel ban is lifted unilaterally now by the U.S., what will the
    U.S. government have to negotiate with a future regime in Cuba and to
    encourage changes in the island? Lifting the ban could be an important
    bargaining chip with a future regime willing to provide concessions in
    the area of political and economic freedoms.

    The travel ban and the embargo should be lifted as a result of
    negotiations between the U.S. and a Cuban government willing to provide
    meaningful and irreversible political and economic concessions or when
    there is a democratic government in place in the island.

    Source: American Tourists Won’t Bring Democracy to Cuba – Misceláneas de
    Cuba –
    http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/web/Article/Index/54cf7aa83a682e0950f8b3ce#.VNDMyGjF9HE

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