What ethical decisions do you make when deciding to visit Cuba?

Interesting article here subtitled “A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see.” The article is more focused on the hardships faced by average Cubans and goes into some detail on historical context.

To me, one of the more interesting bits is that workers in a Spanish-run tourist hotel take home 67 cents a day of their $8/hour salary. The average Cuban has a maximum salary of $20 a month. A doctor is permitted to earn up to $30 a month. But you know someone is getting the 7.33 an hour taken from all the hotel workers’ wages. What are the moral implications that tourists must consider when choosing whether to support the government that takes almost everything from people working in the tourism industry?

The wage issue is related to another issue – only a few elite Cubans get to enjoy resorts and other tourist facilities. While no longer banned outright from the resorts, most Cubans simply can’t afford to visit them. The article cites Hemmingway’s old hangout, the Floridita bar, where a beer costs a week’s wages. If a tourist goes to Floridita now, does the experience lack authenticity? There are no Cubans drinking there.

But there are ways in which visiting the resorts helps ordinary people. Workers are allowed to keep their tips making tour guides, taxi drivers, and maids in hotels some of Cuba’s elite.

And it is possible to skip the fancy resorts, as one of my former students did when he visited Pinar del Rio to deliver a message to a Cuban family for a motel worker in Mexico.

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