HAVANA CLIMA

Poverty in Cuba

Tourism versus Public Policies in Cuba: A Matter of Priorities

HAVANA, Cuba. – Would the Cuban Minister of Tourism and the manager of the Meliá hotel chain in the island allow themselves to be photographed next to a former internationalist combatant standing on one leg –he lost his other leg in the Angolan war- in front of the ruins that are his home in Centro Habana? Would they offer the man a comfortable guest room in one of the two new hotels they will soon inaugurate in Cuba?  Will they include medical care to elevate his quality of life?
Likewise, I ask myself: Would Cuba’s Minister of Public Health walk between the tiny beds, now empty after dozens of children were evacuated due to a bedbug infestation at the “General Milanés” Children’s Hospital in Bayamo, in Granma province? Will Meliá’s manager give away new mattresses to those unhappy children? Maybe he can give away revolutionary insecticides? Or a type of socialist club that the families can use to destroy the imperialist bedbugs?
If that doesn’t happen, then it’s of no use to the former combatant who lives among the ruins, nor to the children attacked by bedbugs at “General Milanés” Children’s Hospital that Meliá announces new hotels for Sancti Spíritus and Matanzas, or that the minister of Tourism promises 103,000 hotel guestrooms in the country for 2023. What does it matter? The new pediatric hospital in Bayamo is still unfinished 35 years after construction began.
The problem is that the Spanish hotel manager is only interested in money, and the fat Cuban officials are only interested in their grandchildren not being bitten by bedbugs in any pediatric hospital in eastern Cuba; that their daughters do not breastfeed in the middle of a cockroach infestation in a maternity hospital in central Cuba; or that their father agonizes while glancing at sewage water in the oncology ward at “Miguel Enríquez” Hospital in Havana.
Did the Spanish hotel manager and the ministers of Tourism and Public Health show up last night at Monte and Ángeles streets where a building collapsed, in order to help extract the dead –one man- and wounded from the debris? Did they worry about the number of people injured?  Did they ask the survivors how long they had been surviving under those conditions and how many years they had requested from the Cuban government to do something about the now-collapsed building?
Of course not. The Spanish gent must be in Madrid or Barcelona to celebrate the Christmas festivities with his family. Likewise, the Cuban officials must be choosing a hotel in Cayo Coco, in Guardalavaca or Varadero to celebrate with their families another anniversary on New Year’s Eve the “triumph of the Cuban revolution” and the accomplishments of their dauntless work. And what of those affected? They are fine, in shelters and hospitals.
Indolence and the desire to make money go hand in hand in these cases. The gap between the standard of living of foreign visitors and that of Cuban nationals in the island is increasing at a rapid pace, and not because of the embargo, or the COVID-19 pandemic, or the effects of the Saharan dust, but because of discriminatory State policy that excludes Cubans.
A note published last week in CubaNet states: “The opening of new hotels and the availability of amenities for tourists in the island, even while in the midst of the serious economic and health crisis that Cubans face, has been widely criticized by the press and in social networks, especially because of the contrast between investments destined for tourism and the state of hospitals and other indispensable centers.”
Careful. That a Russian roulette game is being played with the unhealthy conditions, on the one hand, and the comfort of the few, on the other, over a lit barrel of gun powder, is a dangerous thing. The social outbreak that these conditions caused on July 11th is only the preamble of a great social explosion that will take place if the Guilty-State does not change course and correct its aim.
ARTÍCULO DE OPINIÓNLas opiniones expresadas en este artículo son de exclusiva responsabilidad de quien las emite y no necesariamente representan la opinión de CubaNet.
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