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The Tsunami Facing Cuba
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It’s taken over half a century for the US to finally figure out how to neutralize pesky Communist Cuba. Invasions, air raids, crushing sanctions, attempts to murder the Castro leadership by exploding cigars and poisons, diplomatic isolation, poisoning crops – all failed.

Now, the lame duck Obama administration has finally figured out how to put an end to Cuba’s Communist system: human wave attacks by hordes of American tourists in loud golf wear yelling “USA,USA!” and waving Visa cards.

The flood gates open in March. Once this happens, the charming, lovely island of gracious people that I’ve known since my youth will go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Atlantis. They’ll probably even rename eastern Cuba as Sandals III and Hedonism IV, while beautiful old Havana becomes Disney Pirate’s World.

My heart weeps at this prospect. What made Castro’s Cuba uniquely charming was its glorious dilapidation, quaint prudery, and freedom from consumer vulgarity.

Cuba was pretty much crime free. Visitors were treated with respect and rarely pestered. Even the state controlled prices were rock bottom, making Cuba, with its lovely beaches, gorgeous weather and zesty rums the ideal resort for lower and middle income tourists. Well-behaved, polite Canadians make up the majority of visitors. Sayonara to their C$500 (US $410) week all-inclusive vacations.

Once US airlines open regular flights to Havana and Varadero Beach, the Old Cuba will be soon wiped away.

For Americans, long banned from Cuba, this island is the ultimate forbidden fruit. Few Americans are even aware that Havana is a century older than my native New York City.

But beautiful, sexy and charming as Cuba certainly is, it’s biggest problem is dire lack of tourist infrastructure. A few so/so European hotels have been built, but not enough to even handle current demand. The old hotels, like the Nacional where I’ve stayed since I was ten years old, is aging rapidly. Older hotels in downtown Havana are way over the hill. Varadero Beach is lovely but it hotels remind one of Bulgarian Black Sea resorts.

There are shortages of fresh food across the island. Tourists subsist on frozen chicken that US farm lobbies managed to get around the US blockade. How much rubber chicken can one eat? When in Cuba, I savor glorious black beans and rice three times a day. If you’re looking for fine cuisine, go to St Barts.

A big plus for Cuba its world class healthcare and biomedical research. Elderly tourists need have no medical concerns in Cuba –as they should on many small West Indian islands. For example, the Turks and Caicos are lovely but they don’t have a single decent hospital.


Cuba is going to face big trouble when the tourist tsunsmi hits. Havana will have to limit the tourist inflow. Otherwise, hotels and eateries will be swamped and assailed by bribes. Taxis, fuel, and even imported food will be in dire shortage. So will landing slots at Havana and other regional airports.

Cubans are not ready for loud, aggressive tourists shoving money in their faces. Nor are these easy-going islanders mentally prepared for tens of thousands of pushy New Yorkers (I’m also one) or overly emotional Miami Cubans who think they are returning royalty. Waves of carpet baggers will pour in trying to buy everything that isn’t nailed down with their gringo dollars. Every Cuban exile sees himself as the next El Presidente.

All this seems inevitable. I was in Moscow during the fall of Communism and it was not a pretty sight. Many Russians feel deep shame to this day. And so will patriotic Cubans who struggled – and sacrificed – to keep their island independent of Uncle Sam for half a century. Looking at the rest of today’s modernized Latin America, many Cubans will wonder if their long battle was really worth it. At least none will miss the Communist secret police and neighborhood informers.

One suspects a majority of Cubans eagerly await the Yankee invasion. They have suffered long enough for the sake of pride and independence.

I vividly recall Batista’s corrupt, raunchy Cuba of 1953. It’s likely that once the Communists are swept away, the island could revert to those bad old days. Cuba will face a US Congress that still demonizes the Castro brothers and idolizes Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Cuba 
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  1. My family has been in Miami since 1919. My heart does not weep for Havana. Every refugee pining for old Havana can take a nostalgic visit and go HOME. For Americans who grew up in Miami when a Cuban was a rarity, we can never go home, it was stolen from us by Uncle Sam and millions of refugees decades ago.
    You think Cuba faces a tsunami? So does what is left of south Florida as millions of Cubans come here to annex what was given away. I can think of a hundred worse immigrant groups to come here than Cubans, but I do not shed any tears for what they have lost or will lose. I know how wonderful Miami was before they came and know the sacrifices of the people that made Miami worth coming to.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  2. Cuba is a communist museum. At a great cost in suffering the Cuban people have willingly made their country a large living museum of a disastrous failed idea whose failure was clear by the end of the 1920s. Now it is ready to play a pedagogical role for anyone who wants to learn from its delapidation. We need Google Street View done on the entire island so that everyone can see how far it went down before the tourist influx pays for its partial rehabilitation.

  3. wow…..

    This character doesn’t give a shit about the people of Cuba, he just wants his personal museum undisturbed by crass Americans.

    What do the Cubans want Eric? What do the desperately poor Cubans want? Oh that’s right, you never bothered to consider what they want, this is all about your favorite tourist spot.

    Live desperately dirt poor for a couple years Eric like the poor Cubans and maybe some crass yankee dollars coming into your community won’t seem so ghastly. You have your head up your ass Margolis. You can’t see how desperately poor the Cubans are when everyone else can. You believe in nonsense, in your make believe world we can filter out whatever it is you don’t like and we can continue to live in the good old days for ever and ever.

  4. KA says:

    The worst thing that happened to Haiti that it didnot have a Cuba type revolution . The next worst thing worst has been the periodic showing up by Clinton after every natural and unnatural calamities on the island with some half naked undernourished potbellied babies in tow. Haiti’s living museum does not draw any tourist only gangs, looters,and neoliberalists.

  5. colm says:

    Cuba will go bAck to the Batista days.

    Like Vietnam where the boat people in Orange County had the last laugh.

  6. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website

    Another excuse for Margolis to tell us he’s from New York City. Current and ex-New Yorkers still think that’s a big deal and makes them important. Why I’ll never know. No roach motels for me.

    And so what if US tourists flock to Cuba, don’t Cubans deserve a chance at making a living? And from what I know Havana is a real dump and renovations are definitely in order.

  7. dearieme says:
    @Delmar Jackson

    At some time in the future you could seed Florida being part of a Kingdom of the Two Cubas.

  8. Jefferson says:

    You know who is going to financially benefit from more American tourists vacationing in Cuba ? The Cuban prostitutes.

    • Replies: @Dutch Boy
  9. Dutch Boy says:

    You must mean “sex workers” (it’s a workers’ paradise, after all).

  10. Joe Webb says:

    “quaint prudery” . When I visited Cuba in the year 2000 (remember Elian?) the whores were everywhere. One, accompanied by her boyfriend/pimp grabbed my crotch.

    I built my own house, as with my own hands, and know residential contruction. I watched a construction site in Havana where 3 workers were patching the ceiling with a cement mixture, following initial construction in concrete.
    One was on a step ladder troweling the cement mixture onto the ceiling. One was at the wheelbarrow mixing the stuff, and one was scooping up the stuff as it fell from the ceiling. About one-half of the mixture stuck while the other half slowly detached itself and plopped to the floor, where it gathered dirt, was shoveled back into the wheelbarrow, only to be further rendered unstick able

    I watched another construction site where about 4 workers idled and occasionally worked. I could have done the work that these guys did and still have taken a couple of breaks.

    The People’s Paradise old joke: we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.

    I was down there to attend a “Marxist social science ” conference. The only reason I went down was to meet old friends, and see Stalinismo-lite. By then I was no longer anywhere near the Left. I observed the dismay of attendees, White guys from places like Minnesota mostly. The chiquita communist Cuban speakers went on and on. One memorable bit: “The Party controls civil society because that is where capitalism takes root.” I am not making this up.

    One N. American notable marxist exclaimed, ” I never thought I would ever call myself a Utopian Socialist, but after this…” The marxist group was disinvited for the following year. I of course chuckled at this crash course in Reality given to PhDs gliding thru their airy fantasies and struck down by Cuba Si!….. Yanquis in Paradise.

    I remember in 1960 or so when we leftish folks complained about Cubans denied access to their own beaches and the prostitution of Cuba under the hated Batista (a mulatto by the way.) Same thing then in 2000, the Cubans kept out of the beaches of the tourist hotels.

    Rose colored glasses Margolis wears permanently. I wrote this whole experience up a few years ago, and Margolis might want to read it, but no…he won’t.

    Any way I could get in on the Malecon sweepstakes when the golfers descend on Havana? Golfers are Very Bad Human Beings, especially when blond of hair and blue of eye, like me.

    Joe Webb

    • Replies: @Haploid
  11. Haploid says:
    @Joe Webb

    The piece you wrote concerning your experiences in Cuba, is it on the Web somewhere? I’d really like to read it.

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