Tag Archives: American tourists

House lawmakers who wanted to assess aviation security were blocked from visiting Cuba


The Hill

Several House lawmakers claim they were blocked by the Cuban government from traveling to the country, where they planned to assess aviation security and passenger screening at airports.

The delegation, led by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), planned to visit the island this weekend to evaluate the potential national security risks associated with resuming commercial air service to Cuba.

The Obama administration earlier this year announced an agreement to re-establish scheduled air service between the U.S. and Cuba as part of an effort to normalize relations with the former Cold War enemy. Six commercial U.S. airlines will begin flying to Cuba this fall, the Department of Transportation announced this month.

Travel to Cuba is permitted under limited circumstances, including for official U.S. government business.

But members of the Homeland Security Committee said their visas were not approved for their planned trip.
Adding fuel to the fire is an announcement on Friday that National Basketball Association hall-of-famer Shaquille O’Neal will serve as a U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy to Cuba from June 25 to 28.

“At a time when the Obama Administration is rolling out the red carpet for Havana, the Cuban government refuses to be open and transparent with the peoples’ Representatives,” McCaul said in a statement on Friday. “Sadly, it appears to be easier for Cubans to come to the United States than for Members of the House Homeland Security Committee to get to Cuba.”

Other lawmakers who were planning to visit Cuba include Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

“The Administration is eager to have as many people as possible visit Cuba – except for those who are attempting to examine Cuban security infrastructure,” said Katko, chairman of the transportation security subcommittee. “We still don’t know if Cuba has the adequate body scanners and explosive detection systems in place, whether it has the technology to screen for fraudulent passports or ID, whether or how aviation workers are screened, and if Federal Air Marshals will be allowed to fly missions to Cuba on commercial flights.”

The Homeland Security Committee held a hearing last month with Department of Homeland Security officials on those concerns, but GOP committee leaders said they still had unanswered questions.

Another hearing on Cuba air travel was scheduled for earlier this week, but it was postponed, and lawmakers received a closed-door briefing from officials.

Warning to tourists: Don’t get sick in Cuba

Barb Johnston, 54, from Oak Lake, Man., died on Dec. 29, 2015
Barb Johnston, 54, from Oak Lake, Man., died on Dec. 29, 2015

En Español Martí Noticias

Manitoba woman dies of mystery illness after trip to Cuba

CBC News

Family of Barb Johnston, 54, warns Canadian travelers to have emergency plan.
The family of a Manitoba woman who got sick in Cuba and died a day after getting back to Canada is warning travelers to be prepared for every emergency.

Barb Johnston, 54, of Oak Lake, Man., died on Dec. 29 at the Brandon Regional Health Centre, following a month-long illness that started in Cuba, where she and her husband, John, had travelled for one of their regular sun vacations.

Barb developed flu-like symptoms on Nov. 26 while staying on Cayo Santa Maria, said her husband, John. She took a turn for the worse and they headed to a medical clinic on Nov. 27, he said.

“The resorts are absolutely gorgeous where the tourists are, the facilities are beautiful, the beaches are amazing,” John said. “But once we got to the medical centre, it was a horrendous shock.

“It was very dirty, everything had rust on it, there was no doors on anything, everyone seemed to be in their street clothes.”

Staff at the clinic had her transferred later that morning to a hospital more than two hours away on mainland Cuba. She was admitted to the intensive care unit, put on a ventilator and treated for septic shock.

The hospital didn’t have food, water or public toilets that worked, the family said. Sinks were also few and far between. At one point, hospital staff asked the family to go and bring back orange juice and push it though Barb’s feeding tube, the said.

Continue reading Warning to tourists: Don’t get sick in Cuba

Another vacation from HELL in Castroland

All American tourists planning a vacation in Castro’s Cuba, should read this:

From an article in today’s Daily Mail:

A British couple say they were sprayed with SEWAGE during holiday from hell at Cuban resort – and were told ‘it is good for the flowers’ when they begged staff to turn the sprinklers off

  • Nadia and Dave Lonsdale paid £3,300 for all-inclusive stay in Cuba hotel
  • They claim holiday was ruined by ‘smelly’ water from a sprinkler system
  • Pictures show building work, rubble at the poolside and litter on beaches
  • Travel agent Thomas Cook says hotel staff did ‘everything possible’ to address the couple’s concerns

A British couple say they were sprayed with sewage during a holiday from hell at a Cuban resort – and were told ‘it is good for the flowers’ when they begged staff to turn the sprinklers off.
Nadia Lonsdale and her husband Dave, from Brighton, East Sussex, had paid £3,300 for the two week, all inclusive stay at the Paradisus Rio De Oro in Guardalavaca, Cuba.
But after emerging from their ground floor room they say they were hit with an ‘horrendous stench’ from liquid being spread around the lawns.

Staff said the spray was ‘good for the flowers’ and refused to switch it off – despite guests having to brave a ‘mist’ of fine water drops as they headed out for breakfast.
The holiday booked through travel agent, Thomas Cook, was supposed to be the perfect getaway to celebrate Mrs Lonsdale’s 31st birthday and the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.
But the hotel’s official photos of the grounds seemed at odds with Mrs Lonsdale’s holiday snaps which showed brown patches of grass, building work, broken pathways, rubble at the poolside and litter on the beaches.



Mrs Lonsdale said: ‘The place may be described as a Paradise but it was more like a hell hole. We would open the patio doors of our apartment and be virtually knocked off our feet by the smell. The spray was like a mist that would hit you as you passed.
‘We asked them to turn it off and put it on at night instead but they refused and said it was better for the flowers.
‘The stench was horrendous and it was everywhere, all the way through the main building. They have sprinklers all over and one was right outside our room.
‘You woke up, opened the balcony and there was a raw smell straight away. Their attitude was to tell us they were having a drought. Everything looked really dry and I appreciate that but you can spray it at night. It should be on the ground too, not like a sprinkle system.
‘There was no pool and rubbish everywhere. There were all these working cables around, it was absolutely filthy, just crazy.’

Dave Lonsdale, a 57-year-old school teacher, was bitten nearly 300 times by sand-flies after going to the beach.

‘We discovered later there was a serious problem with sand flies but we didn’t know that. If we knew we would not have gone on the beach and stayed by the pool with the building work going on. I will definitely never go to Cuba again. It was just horrendous.’

Read the whole thing here: Daily Mail

Will American tourists be next?: Canadians who went to a Cuban vacation destination got seriously ill last week.


From GlobalNews

Canadians with confirmed bookings to a Cuban resort where it’s believed norovirus made travelers sick say their tour operator hasn’t allowed them to switch to another resort or wanted to charge them.
“No, I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to be exposed to that … everyone’s health is at risk; that’s not fair,” said Kayla Halloran, a third-year Ryerson nursing student with a ticket to visit the resort with a friend later this month.
After seeing a Global News story on problems at the Memories Paraiso Azul Resort in Cayo Santa Maria Cuba, she contacted tour operator Sunwing Vacations to ask to be switched to another resort.
“They said I could change my resort to somewhere else but I have to pay a change fee plus a cancellation fee,” Halloran said.
“Why should I have to pay that?”
Global News received a cascade of complaints from Canadian travelers who returned from the resort.
They said they had experienced diarrhea and vomiting during most or all of their vacations.
Some reported seeing feces wash up on the hotel beach, finding feces beside the swimming pool, and experiencing dirty washrooms with toilets that didn’t work.
Other travellers told Global News they visited the same property in April and that it was without fresh water for two days.
During that time, Canadians visiting said they had no access to clean linens or water to flush toilets; they said staff at the hotel had no means to wash dishes or sanitize food service areas.
But despite the problems, they said the tour operator continued to send travelers to the resort.

Maria Peragine of Brampton says 11 members of her family, including her husband and three children were violently ill at the resort when they visited in late July.
She says the company has not been providing accurate information about the illness and relied on misinformation about the extent of the illness from local representatives.
“If someone at your company told you it’s fine there, then they are bold-faced liars,” Peragine wrote in an email to Sunwing.
The tour operator criticized extensive news coverage by Global News of the problems at the resort and how Sunwing handled the situation, alleging the company’s statements were “misrepresented and taken out of context.”
Sunwing has declined since Tuesday to speak on-camera to Global News, instead releasing short statements late in the day.
In a terse email Thursday, Sunwing marketing vice president Janine Chapman provided a statement to Global News for its television broadcast, prefaced with this unusual proviso:
“We will provide you with the below statement for this evening’s segment on the basis that it is read in its entirety, uninterrupted.”
As a matter of journalistic policy, Global News does not agree to such demands.

Continue reading Will American tourists be next?: Canadians who went to a Cuban vacation destination got seriously ill last week.

Time: Inside the New Cuba (But with the Same Old Dictators)


From Breitbart News

Time has published a new special edition that will be at supermarket checkout counters and bookstores through Sep. 11: Inside the New Cuba: Discovering the Charm of a Once-Forbidden Island: The People, The Culture, The Paradise.
The glossy magazine mentions some of the continuing political oppression inside the communist dictatorship, but focuses on the island’s picturesque attractions, touts its many cultural attractions, and celebrates the thaw in U.S-Cuban relations formally announced by U.S. President Barack Obama in late 2014.
At times, the Time special strives to downplay Cuba’s grim political reality. Cuban exiles, writes Karl Vick, “came to dominate the U.S. view of Cuba for the next half-century, defining Castro’s regime as totalitarian and the Cuban people as victims.” He adds: “There was no shortage of facts supporting that view,” but says that “in retrospect, the Cold War only framed what was at heart a neighborhood grudge match.” He notes that Internet access unavailable, and “[e]very block has its Committee for the Defense of the Revolution to inform on the neighbors.”
The highlights likeliest to attract American interest spill across the pages: a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s “haunts,” a tour of Havana’s night clubs, a guide to cigars, and a section on Cuban baseball. (Defections by Cuban athletes continued this month: one of the non-defectors said: “I hope they’re happy. They have left something beautiful behind, which is socialism and our country’s dignity. Let them do what they can in other countries. We will continue doing what we can for the revolution.”) A section on art features brightly-colored propaganda mosaics.
There is, of course, the chance that Cuba really will change–if the Obama administration decides to apply pressure, which it has largely declined to do, or–more likely–once the Castro brothers go the way of all flesh.
Time‘s writers seem preoccupied with a different kind of change–namely, the prospect of thousands of rich American tourists arriving and demanding creature comforts that will ruin the island’s charm. That might be a price that Cuba’s people might well be willing to pay, if it also brings prosperity, openness and freedom.

You’ll never guess what worries leftists about relations with Cuba


Now that leftists have their way and we have cordial relations with the dictatorial, communist, drug-smuggling government of Cuba, they are still not satisfied. They are pleased that trade and relations will help prop up the (Raúl) Castro dictatorship but worried that economic ties will hurt the environment.
Dr. Angulo, a senior marine scientist at the University of Havana, is… worried about the effects that a flood of American tourists and American dollars might have on this country’s pristine coral reefs, mangrove forests, national parks and organic farms — environmental assets that are a source of pride here.
I agree with Comrade Angulo. Americans should stay away and keep their dollars at home. Right now I’m sure Cuban supermarket shelves are overflowing with organic produce (probably just like Whole Foods!), but what will happen when the Americans come? (And by the way, shouldn’t that be “persongrove” rather than “mangrove” forests?)
In March, a delegation from the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, an agribusiness group that includes Cargill, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Chicken Council and other companies and organizations, flew to Havana to meet with Cuban officials.
Note they met with “Cuban officials,” not “Cuban businessmen” (who don’t really exist). Big business couldn’t be more delighted and is rushing in to support the Communist government and get some cheap slave labor.
And cruise ship companies and hotel chains like Marriott and Hiltonhave indicated their enthusiasm. “I can’t stop thinking about it,” Frank Del Rio, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said in an interview. “Cuba and the cruise industry are just a match made in heaven, waiting to happen.”
“And if you look on our left, ladies and gentlemen, you will see the notorious prison, where political prisoners are still tortured on a daily basis. And on our right you can see the drug-smuggler boats coming into port.”
How fully the country will pursue development is likely to be a leading topic at the Seventh Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, to be held next year, said Dan Whittle, a lawyer and senior director of the Cuba program for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Radical environmentalists and Communists. Wait, which one is which?
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, says “I don’t think they’re so lustful of development that they will just roll over and completely prostitute themselves to whomever comes by with a checkbook,”
Don’t you just love the language of liberals? Developing business is akin to “lust” and “prostitution.” What about Senator Whitehouse’s “lust” to spend other people’s money?
There are some endangered species that environmentalists in the article didn’t mention:
1) The free speech advocate: People are still jailed in Cuba for exercising free speech. Try writing a blog critical of the government, and see what happens to you.
2) The person of faith: People are still persecuted for practicing their religions.
3) The small businessman: There are a few small efforts to let people sell things, but the small business class was exterminated by Castro and is still underground.
4) The undocumented emigrant: People can still wind up in jail for trying to leave Cuba without permission.
So you see the irony here. Leftist environmentalists are worried about the effects that trade will have on “the environment” while the people of Cuba are still suffering massively under a dictatorship. It’s like looking at the leaves while somehow totally ignoring the trees and the forest. And by the way, management of the environment under Communism is very poorly done, at best. Try to find Lake Baikal on a map, and you’ll see why.

American Thinker

Americans shouldn’t travel to Cuba and participate ‘in the oppression,’ Gov. Christie says


Gov. Chris Christie has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s shift to open relations with Cuba, but now he’s taking aim at people who travel there as tourists.
The governor, speaking during his latest “Tell It Like It Is” town hall in the first presidential primary state of New Hampshire on Thursday, accused U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba amid Obama’s plans to normalize relations with the country of “participating in the oppression” imposed by Cuba’s rulers.
The line was delivered during the event and comes after Christie has criticized Obama for months over his decision to remove Cuba from the federal Department of State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and normalize relations with the country.
And while the new rules stop short of allowing tourists to visit Cuba, they open the door on other types of authorized travel — including family visits, professional meetings, and religious activities.
“If you’re allowed to (travel to Cuba) everybody’s got to make their own free choice,” Christie said. “I’m just giving my opinion on it which is I don’t know why you would want to support that regime given the way they treat their own people.”
But Christie says people should think twice about venturing to the country that’s been off-limits for U.S. citizens for decades.
“How you as an American going to look that person in the eye who is serving you dinner or serving you a drink on the beach, when you know they can’t vote, they can’t speak, they can’t own property – and you’re going to support that?” Christie asked. “I couldn’t do it.”
He added: “Others will have to make their own choice.”
Christie referred to the new relations with Cuba as “an unacceptable offense” to the family of a fallen New Jersey state trooper whose escaped killer, Joanne Chesimard, remains at large on the island nation.
Now known as Assata Shakur, Chesimard was convicted on murder charges in the execution-style killing of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster 42 years ago this month. She later broke out of jail and escaped to Cuba, where the Cuban government employed her as an anti-American propagandist. The Cuban government has been resistant to handing over Chesimard, refusing to return her as recently as this spring.
Christie faulted what he termed Obama’s “failure to require justice” as an affront to Foerster’s family.
“The condition for which Cuba is able to join the rest of the civilized world must rest on the country’s commitment to hand over every terrorist currently being harbored, starting with Joanne Chesimard,” Christie has said.
Obama has moved to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba since December, ease the economic embargo and remove the country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He met Cuban leader Raul Castro on April 11 while attending the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, told NJ Advance Media in January that the administration “will continue to press in our engagement with the Cuban government for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes.”