Human Rights in Cuba

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Cuba and business

No business here
Jan 22nd 2015, 16:31 BY N.B. | WASHINGTON, DC

GULLIVER has been wanting to write about the biggest story in American
travel—the thaw in US-Cuban relations—for weeks now. Even if you don’t
plan on travelling to Cuba, you might have noticed some changes
already—updated route maps that include Havana, for instance.
But this is a business travel , and it’s been hard to figure out how
the policy changes will affect business travellers. Thankfully, Joe
Sharkey, the dean of business travel writers, is on the case.

The news is what you might expect if you know a little bit about Cuba:

[W]ith a few exceptions represented by cultural activities … the
business-travel market to the island remains limited “simply because
there is very little business in Cuba,” said Michael Boyd, the president
of Boyd Group International, an airline consulting firm.Mr. Boyd is not
impressed by the short-term potential for expanded travel to Cuba. “For
one thing, there aren’t enough hotels, and the quality is questionable,”
he said. Rigid Cuban government policies on private businesses deter the
confidence necessary for major -industry from abroad, he
added.
You still can’t, of course, fly direct between America and Cuba on a
commercial airliner. But as Mr Sharkey makes clear, the real issue for
business travellers is whether you’d want to. Cuba’s is still so
state-controlled that there’s just not that much private business to do
there.

The real point of President Barack Obama’s move to open up relations is
(slowly) to change that. This paper has long opposed the , as we
re-emphasised in a leader earlier this month:

Rather than ending the Castros’ rule, it has provided an evergreen
excuse for their failures and so helped maintain them in power. The
embargo kept Cuba out of international bodies such as the Organisation
of American States, where other countries could have prodded the island
towards greater openness. It put the United States at odds with most of
its allies and nearly every other country in its hemisphere. It would be
much better if the embargo were got rid of entirely, but its partial
lifting is a step towards normality for the whole region[…][T]he
biggest prize should be the advance of democracy and open markets in
Latin America. The Castros are not the only ones who will be discomfited
by the loss of the American alibi. leads a loose coalition of
countries that uses defiance of the United States as an excuse for
policies that stunt economic growth and democratic rights. It has long
supported Cuba (and other Caribbean countries) with sales of oil at
heavily subsidised prices. Even for robustly democratic countries like
Brazil, the American bogeyman makes it easier to justify resistance to
trade deals and to cosy up to uglier regimes.
In case you missed it, that’s the clear win here for business
travellers: closer ties between America and Cuba could lead to closer
ties between America and the rest of its Latin American neighbours. You
may not be staying at the Habana Hilton anytime soon. But the easing of
the American embargo might make you more likely to be staying at the
Hotel Caracas or the Grand Hyatt São Paolo sometime in the near future.

Source: Cuba and business travel: No business here | The Economist –

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