After more than five decades of broken relations, President Barack Obama announced almost a year ago that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. While some people were skeptical about the announcement, others were hopeful- especially the Cuban people. However, some Cuban-Americans remained vehemently opposed to his decision.
The realization of the restoration came to us when both presidents shook hands at the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 11, 2015, once and for all burying the hatchet and giving big American companies the green light to approach the Caribbean island for new business ventures. One that was quick to react was Carnival Cruise Corp. Since Cuba is only 90 miles away from the end of Florida (Key West) and a vast community of Cubans have settled in South Florida, it was a no brainer for the Miami-based cruise giant to start sailing off from the so-called “Magic City.”
People rejoiced when Carnival’s CEO, Arnold Donald, announced that the very first week-long cruise to Cuba, with occupancy for 710 passengers starting at $2,990 per person, would be scheduled to leave Miami for Havana on May 1st, 2016, and indeed it did. The Fathom Adonia, docked as scheduled in Havana to a crowd of Cuban people waving and welcoming the ship into the island. According to CNN cigars and Cuban rum drinks awaited passengers as they made their way into Havana.
The cruises are set to sail off from Port of Miami twice a month with stops in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago.
But before they let the memories begin, Carnival was under a lot of fire when they were sued by some Cuban-Americans, who alleged a case of discrimination when trying to book a passage aboard the cruise and were rejected by the sales representative due to the fact that they had been born in the Communist country. Yes! You read that right: the Cuban government banned Cubans arriving by sea from entering their own country. A right that not human should ever lose regardless of their country’s political situation. The ban backtracks to the Cold War when the Castro brothers aimed to keep out arms from expatriates opposed to the communist government.
Outraged Cuban-Americans protested in front of the company’s headquarters located in Doral, demanding equality and a change of their policy. Soon after, Carnival started lobbying to change the ban –or else they would’ve had to postpone the cruises and lose lots of money- but kept denying tickets to Cuban-born Americans while negotiating with the Cuban Government.
Nevertheless, everything was resolved and as we know the Fathom Adonia came back to American waters this past Sunday from its first of many voyages to the island. But how does this benefit us? Cuban will be benefitting from increased trade and tourism, while in the U.S the trade flow between both countries will mainly benefit business, manufactures, agriculture exporters, and white-collar businessmen.
These days, Cuba seems to be the “it” place to visit. From Kim Kardashian-West to the rapper Kayne West himself to the Fast and the Furious star Vin Disel and fashion powerhouse Chanel, those who have traveled and enjoyed the island showed us through their social media that things are good there, making it seem that change is really coming. But experts say that even though Raul Castro is being more accessible, nothing will ever truly change in the country until the Castros surrender their power. Though, one thing is for certain, free trade is detrimental to a communist regime. Therefore, we wish luck to the Cuban people hoping their current situation will soon end- suerte para el pueblo cubano.
By Cynthia Paola Bautista