MIAMI, United States. – Several Cuban exiles demonstrated recently in front of the headquarters of the Spanish daily paper El País, which had promoted tourism to Cuba with the article titled “Con la inflación disparada y tras la pandemia, es un buen momento para viajar a Cuba?” (“With Rising Inflation and After the Pandemic, Is It a Good Time to Travel to Cuba?”) by the blogger Paco Nadal.
“We will conduct a silent protest holding a sign that reads: ‘Your paradise, our prison’, tweeted the group which is made up of Cuban activists, journalists, art curators, visual artists and writers.
Likewise, the group addressed an open letter to El País administration, arguing that the article written by Paco Nadal promotes tourism to the island, thus benefitting the Business Administration Group, S.A. (GAESA, by its Spanish acronym), a military conglomerate that controls 70% of Cuba’s state economy and finances State Security operations against peaceful demonstrators in Cuba.
The letter questions El País about whether it would publish a similar article promoting tourism to Nicaragua or Venezuela, and indicates that the paper supports “normalizing the Castro dictatorship” by publishing said content.
In the letter, the activists also mention the unjust treatment of Cubans: “The article thus promotes the main staple of the military enterprise GAESA which controls 70% of Cuba’s economy, from tourism to the purchase of anti-riot gear, while it finances the operations of State Security against peaceful demonstrators in our country.”
The group of Cubans also accuses the newspaper of maintaining an editorial line that ignores or sugar-coats the nature of the Cuban dictatorship. “Throughout the years, we Cubans have read with increasing shock how El País has kept an editorial line about Cuba that ignores the problem or sugar-coats the nature of the dictatorship itself, making of the Cuban people’s struggle for freedom and democracy a less relevant news item than traveling to Cuba.”
The letter also highlights some of the biases that, according to the activists, have permeated the editorial line of El País about Cuba, such as normalizing and beautifying the economic, social and political crisis the island faces, and the tendency to avoid mentioning anything about the people’s protests and the military repression financed by GAESA.
Finally, the activists urge El País to commit to the democratization of Cuba, and to give visibility to human rights violations in the island. The letter closes by calling on the newspaper not to promote “an extractive tourism culture or normalizing the dictatorship,” but instead to support “the legitimate aspirations of freedom and democracy” of the Cuban people.
Among the signatories of the letter are Carolina Barrero, Ileana Álvarez, Julio Llópiz-Casal, Juliana Rabelo, Leonardo Fernández Otaño, Iliana Hernández, Luz Escobar and Eugenia Gutierrez, all of them Cuban exiles.
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