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Havana November 8, 1992 - Satellite TV Restricted To Tourist Hotels

By Bob Van Leer

  Tobacco(HAVANA, CUBA - Sunday, November 8, 1992) - Today was a day of mostly leisure. Our bus took us from the hotel Paradiso to the Gaviota docks where we boarded a 30 foot cabin cruiser for a cruise through barrier islands.

  Our party needed two boats to hold us all. The boat threaded its way between islands before reaching the open sea. 

  Out at sea was a strange complex, a sort of bunkhouse-living quarters for employee recreation for Gaviota employees and two houses.

  The three were connected by walkways. The strange part was that there is no land. The sea bottom is only about 6-7 feet deep and the three buildings are on pilings.

  The other two buildings are for rent for tourists who want to really get away from it all. The buildings have been there about four years.

"Then They Leave"

  Asked what happens to the people if storm waves wash over the building, one of the guides, with a straight face, said, "Then they leave".

  We stopped for a couple of hours on the sandy beach of a tiny island. Myself and some others took a swim in the sea. The water was about the temperature of a motel pool.

  On the way back to the hotel we drove past new beach resorts under construction. This is the only place we have seen much new construction.

  There is a new hotel going up next to the Riviera in Havana. This is a joint venture with Spain.

Betting The Farm

  Castro seems to be betting what farm he has left on tourism. To get the job done, he has even agreed to work with capitalists in joint ventures and guarantee the capitalists can repatriate their profits.

  With the collapse of the Communist block and the continued U.S. embargo, he has few options.

  There is a small oil field near Varadero, but not nearly enough to replace oil the Russians were shipping to Cuba.

  The two hotels we have stayed in furnish U.S. satellite TV including CNN for news. But our guide said this kind of TV reception is found only in hotels.

  And he said satellite receivers were not available for public sale. Still, the hotel staffs are exposed to the TV. I came back to our room unexpectedly and found three maids drawn up before the TV set in our room watching.

  We have been with our guides for three days now and they are loosening up. There is an undercurrent of concern about the shortages of so many things.

  The air conditioning in our bus failed. With the temperature in the 90s our hosts wanted to have an air conditioned bus for us and so we changed buses.

  One more example of the problems caused by lack of maintenance. Now our group has two buses tied up and this country can't afford it.

  Tomorrow we are scheduled to meet with government officials.


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