Armed Forces Day

Viva Cuba Libre! - La Parte Dos

Val Prieto is live blogging from the Cuba Nostaglia Convention.  He's put together a Babalu Booth and has blogging stations to show visitors the blogosphere.  Val and I started blogging at about the same time.  He's been informing people about Cuban issues.  Be sure to stop by his site to see what's happening throughout the weekend.

For those of you who would like more of a military post, read on (something I posted for Val's Blog Cuba event)...

I hear about the promise of Cuba a lot and hope that the $2 billion dollar Cuban tourism industry will get an infusion once Castro and company are gone. Predictions are about an extra one million American tourists per year. Right now, there aren't enough hotels, let alone good hotels, to handle that kind of increase.

Speaking of hotels, did you know that the Cuban Armed Forces are in charge of a large part of the tourism industry in Cuba? Fidel's brother is the Tourism Minister and recently cleaned house of civilian staff and replaced them with his tenietes de tropa de linea.

From the July 29th Economist (subscription only):

Tourists: by the left, march
Military command and control for the hotel industry
<...> Earlier this year, in a video circulated among Communist Party members, Raúl Castro, the president's brother and defence minister, likened the industry to “a tree born twisted that must be uprooted and planted anew.” Pruning has been brutal: out have gone the tourism minister, three deputy ministers, and dozens of other top managers and officials. The new tree, it turns out, is a military one: the ministry is now full of staff from Gaviota, a hotel company set up by the armed forces in the early 1990s. <...> The military takeover of tourism is part of a broader campaign against corruption. In his speech, Raúl Castro claimed that “lack of respect” for the government and the Communist Party permeates the industry. Even though most tourism jobs are held by party members, money that should flow into state coffers was winding up in individuals' pockets, he said. <...> Another interpretation of the tourism shake-up is that the reforms were having the predictable effect of loosening party control over life in Cuba. That is something Fidel Castro was only prepared to contemplate out of desperation in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Now, he is using George Bush's hostility to his regime as a pretext to extinguish anything that smacks of capitalist penetration of his revolution. Whether the military takeover will end up turning a holiday in Cuba into a more regimented affair remains to be seen.

Kind of boggles the imagination , doesn't it?

    "Daddy, what did you do in the military?"

    "I was a concierge."

Strange. Just strange.

Anyway, I look forward to the day when I can take my family to visit Cuba and toast Cubans ("Libertad!") with an authentic mojito in the La Bodeguita del Medio bar in Old Havana.