22 de agosto de 2019
ÚLTIMAS NOTICIAS:
Hispanic World

Cuban entrepreneurs feel the pain from drop in US tourists

Lorena Canto

Lorena Canto

Havana, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- At San Cristobal, one of the most popular of the restaurants to spring up in Havana as the Communist government created space for private enterprise on the island, the bustle of just a few weeks ago has been replaced by worried silence since Washington barred visits to Cuba by US-based cruise ships.

The eatery was among numerous small businesses in the capital that took part Friday in events to protest the latest sanctions imposed by the United States.

San Cristobal became famous in 2016 for hosting Barack Obama during the then-US president's historic visit to Cuba.

But with business down 80 percent as a result of the Donald Trump administration's latest punitive measures against Cuba, owner Carlos Cristobal is struggling to reconcile the "dream" of three years ago with the "nightmare" of the present.

"The United States will no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft," the US State Department said June 4.

Besides barring cruises to Cuba, Trump clamped down on the people-to-people educational travel program that had allowed thousands of Americans to visit the island after the thaw in relations initiated by Obama in 2014.

The rationale for the new restrictions is to reduce the flow of hard currency to the Cuban government, accused by Washington of interfering in Venezuela through Havana's support for leftist President Nicolas Maduro, who the US is trying to overthrow.

"I urge everybody to come here, you can, Obama already demonstrated that," Cristobal told EFE inside his restaurant, which has become a kind of shrine to the momentous events of 2016.

The cup from which Obama sipped coffee sits on what can be described as an altar, while photos of the former president adorn the walls of San Cristobal, along with images of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

Snapshots of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and singer Beyonce also recall happier times for the 9-year-old establishment.

Despite the drop in revenue, Cristobal has yet to lay off any of his 32 employees, though other Havana entrepreneurs know they are approaching a point where reducing payrolls will be necessary for survival.

Asked what he would like to tell Trump, the restaurateur said: "Think about it, people have a right to live. Truly, we are the people, with families. It's not that it hurts the private sector, it's going to hurt everyone."

He points to Havana's Almacenes San Jose, a massive dockside warehouse converted into a crafts market. Typically packed with tourists, Cristobal says it now "looks like a deserted square, as if there had been a nuclear bomb there."

Trade is also down for the drivers of the vintage US convertible cars who formerly found plenty of customers willing to pay $50 for an hour-long tour of historic Havana.

For tourists who find the cars too pricey, there is the option of horse-drawn carriages, whose operators mounted a protest Friday against the new wave of US sanctions.

"We are left now with practically nothing. They have strangled us with these unjust measures," carriage driver Jesus David Rodriguez says. "The tourists stopped coming and it was as if the electricity went out."

The demonstration took place near the empty cruise-ship terminal, where before the ban it was common on any given day to see one or more of the US lines' giant vessels docked.

Last year, Carnival and Norwegian ships carried 340,000 Americans to Cuba, double the number of the previous year, leaving the US second only to Canada as a source of international visitors. EFE

lcl/dr

Histórico de noticias
Mexican human rights commission condemns attacks on journalist

Mexico City, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) on Thursday condemned the attacks by "individuals and authorities" on...

Brazil's president doubles down on criticism of NGOs operating in Amazon

Brasilia, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that while he did not have evidence that non-governmental organizations were behind the...

Buenos Aires street museum once again shines with original intensity

By Carmen Herranz

Cuba relying on bacteria to end dengue epidemic

Havana, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The dengue epidemic in several Latin American countries is also affecting - albeit to a lesser degree - Cuba, where experts are...

Trump seeks to halt family migration by extending child detentions

By Laura Barros

Children's chorus revitalizing indigenous language in Panamanian capital

By Maria M. Mur

Brazil's president points finger at NGOs in Amazon fires

Brasilia, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro insinuated on Wednesday that non-governmental organizations may be behind the fires in the Amazon, the...

US Space Command to formally begin operations next week

Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- The United States on Aug. 29 will launch its previously announced Space Command, which will initially have just 87 people...

Trump: US in contact with Venezuela's Maduro gov't at highest level

Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his administration is in contact with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro government "at a...

2 former Major League ballplayers accused of drug trafficking in D.R.

Santo Domingo, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Authorities have dismantled a large drug trafficking ring in the Dominican Republic whose members included former Major...

Son of immigrants travels US delivering crosses for shooting victims

By Jorge Mederos

Stabilizing peso is priority, Argentina's new finance minister says

Buenos Aires, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- New Finance Minister Hernan Lacunza said Tuesday that his main goal would be shoring up the Argentine peso, which has...

Police sharpshooter kills man who hijacked bus in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- A police sharpshooter killed the man who hijacked a bus and had taken the driver and several passengers hostage on...

Twitter: China has mounted campaign to delegitimize Hong Kong protests

San Francisco, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Twitter on Monday said that it had uncovered a coordinated effort by 936 accounts originating in China to delegitimize the...

El Salvador woman pardoned after manslaughter conviction for abortion

Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- A court in El Salvador pardoned Evelyn Hernandez, 21, this Monday of the crime of aggravated manslaughter...

Bardem: If 30 pct. of oceans not protected in 2030, damage to be irreversible

By Alvaro Celorio

Colombia, victim of lucrative exotic animal smuggling

By Claudia Polanco Yermanos

US gives China's Huawei another 90-day reprieve on sanctions

Washington, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies on Monday criticized the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration as being...

Trump defends China policy, says US economy is world's best

Washington, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his strategy versus China, on whose goods Washington has imposed heavy tariffs as...

Colombian ex-ministers: Peace is being fired upon from many angles

By Juliana Alejandra Franco and Ovidio Castro

Paola Espinosa, miracle worker in platform diving going for medal in Tokyo

By Gustavo Borges

Quito video art makes viewers reflect on migration, environment and memories

Quito, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- An unprecedented exhibition in the Ecuadorian capital is making viewers reflect on such concepts as migration, the environment and...

Delivery workers unite to protect themselves from Mexico City dangers

By Zoilo Carrillo

Famous Madrid chef returns to her Dominican roots

By Manuel Perez Bella