Sunday, April 27, 2008


After Fidel, will Cuba become the new Hawaii?

by Larry Geller

You read it here first.

Suppose a newly emergent Cuba earns the lifting of travel restrictions by the next US president. Suppose oil (and aviation fuel) prices continue to climb. Suppose Oahu continues to pave itself over and build until it resembles Los Angeles more than Paradise. Suppose food prices here go through the roof.

Guess what: Cuba is ready for an influx of tourists.

Guess what: Hawaii isn't ready for what it will lose.

Stay Cuba

That's just the high end from one particular reservation site on the Internet. That's right, you can reserve your luxury vacation spot in Cuba already. Beautiful, clean beaches and a reputation for fine service already await Europeans in the know.

At the low end there's competition also. So much so that Hawaii residents may be tempted to skip that trip to the Big Island in favor of exploring a reasonably priced exotic stay in Cuba.

Short travel distances, low cost, a growing reputation for service, world-class cuisine (not to mention after-dinner cigars) will surely attract the discerning Mainland vacationer. Curiosity could mean that even Japanese visitors might be tempted, which could quickly start a fad in that most faddish of countries.

Americans might want to visit Cuba for medical care. No joke.

Ian Lind cited this NPR snippet in his article yesterday:

From National Public Radio, April 24:

”If you’re dreaming of a spring vacation on the sandy beaches of Hawaii, think again. Rising fuel costs are making that sort of vacation a lot more expensive. And travel agents are seeing a slowdown in vacation bookings. Madeleine Brand speaks with Bruce Fisher, owner of the Hawaii Aloha Travel Company in Honolulu.”

That's only the beginning. Soon there will be similar articles in Japan and Europe.

We must either plan or be caught by surprise. Will we? We better. Or our kids may be looking for tourism jobs in Havana.

Update: Commenter Walter Lipmann mentioned the CubaNews list. Since not everyone may see comments, the list he mentioned (he's the moderator) can be found here.  A free Yahoo Groups membership (which many people already have) is necessary to join or to view the database. Walter's personal blog is here.


Learn a lot more about Cuba - all aspects - through the CubaNews list, a compehensive collection of news, views and information, from, about or related to Cuba. It's been in operation for eight years and has over 83 thousand easy-to-access items in its database. Totally free.

My father and his parents lived in Cuba.

Thanks for mentioning the list. Since comments can be hard to find I'll put an update into the main article.

So Cuba is close, clean, different, new, same climate, better hotels, cheaper, did I mention gambling? What about Hawaii after Inouye?

To think about this shift, reading people like Stuart Hall and others who used Gramsci to critique the vulgar Marxists is worth it. Not just for Cuba but also for China and everywhere else where globalization has moved right through the paper-thin false inflections of classical Marxist thought.

Thanks for this. My husband and were fortunate enough to travel to Cuba just before we had kids (1992.) We want to go back and take the kids! I'll definitely be looking to see those travel restrictions lifted!


line of flight, I wonder if you'd be willing to say a bit more. I know only a little about Gramsci (around the issue of mass consumption) and nothing about Stuart Hall.

Ok, I'm a poor sociologist. When I was studying at UH it was all about dead guys whose ideas were important then, but not much I could relate to.

After years of wishful thinking, I was able to go to Cuba in 1992 with a goup led by Medea Benjamin and Kevin Danaher.

As a young leftist I suppose I had glamorized and romanticized Cuba to some degree, of course. Perhaps the most valuable lesson for me was that I was able to see it first hand, and see it for what it is: a complex society like any other, with assets and liabilities, deep problems and creative solutions, and most of all, marvelous people.

No matter what you think about socialism and whether or not you think Cuba is actually a working example of socialism, there is something amazing about visiting a country which has completely rejected the US and its neoliberal capitalist agenda. It is fascinating to witness a population which takes as a great source of pride an open defiance of US hegemony. Sometimes we don't realize how smug we are in the US.

More than anything, I wish Cuba could be left alone by the US to do its best. We've been trying to undermine them for so long!

In the US, we live in a fishbowl, as a Peruvian acquaintance once told me. Everyone else can see in, but we can't see out.

Our coercive and mean-spirited campaign to bring sufffering to the Cuban people so that they will submit US control must end.

Que viva la revolucion.


Cuba is not at all the country we are routinely told about by purposely myopic media. It has become, since the Russian pullout in 1990, a model for the world in "sustainable" agriculture & "green" living, not to mention having no homeless or starving children and commercial-less TV. The hotels (joint ventures with Italy, Spain & others) are magnificent.One could combine a luxurious vacation with, say, plastic surgery at the hands of some of the world's finest surgeons....and recuperate to extraordinary music.

Check these out Larry, you can do another blog on these:

On the Net:

Generacion Y:

My Island at Midday:

Potro Salvaje:

Adios, Brad


Have been looking through this blog:

This is an awesome blog. It has clicks to translate the Spanish into English for those like me who never became fluent from Spanish classes. The young lady who writes it is getting 1000's of comments to some of her posts. She was written about in the past few days in Wired and by the AP. Here is a little about her blog:

"Generatión Y is a Blog inspired by people like me, with names that start or contain a "Y". Born in the Cuba of the 70s and the 80s, marked by the "schools to the countryside", the Russian cartoons, the illegal exits and the frustration. So, an invitation goes especially to Yanisleidi, Yoandri, Yusimí, Yuniesky and others that drag their Ys, to read me and write back."

By Yoani Sánchez (Born 1975),
Licenciada en Filología. Reside en La Habana y combina su pasión por la informática con su trabajo en la Revista Digital Consenso.

Aloha, Brad

I wrote the original article to suggest that Hawaii's dependence on tourism is perhaps as delicately balanced as its dependence on oil (or, I suppose, on imported foodstuffs).

But Mimi and other commenters have correctly pointed out that most of us don't know much about Cuba, and that there is a lot to like.

Today I was thinking that wouldn't it be great if Hawaii gave up its poisonous relationship with Indonesia and set up a cooperative relationship with Cuba. Or Honolulu with Havana perhaps.

Well, I can dream. Perhaps that will be possible in the future.

In the meantime, commenters have left some great links, I plan to check them out and learn more.

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Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

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