Friday, May 29, 2009


Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Written by Anonymous

Despite the fear it gives me to write these emails (which I’m sure are read by them) I have decided to do it, confident that you won’t divulge my name, if the story seems interesting to you.

A few weeks ago I visited Cuba with my boyfriend who’s a foreigner. Among all the things we set out to do was to go to Cayo Coco or Cayo Largo, because I’d heard about how beautiful the beaches are, and also because finally we Cubans are allowed to visit them. My boyfriend is crazy about boats, ships, and in fact here he has one we go out on occasionally. We saw in an advertisement at the travel agency the opportunity to go out on a catamaran at Cayo Largo and dive, to see the bottom of the sea… finally…

We made our reservations at the Hotel Nacional for a very good price for Cayo Largo, a really good package, including airport transfers, the plane ticket, everything to the cayo and back. The catamaran we would have to pay for separately but we didn’t care. Thank God the person who was making the reservation thought to ask me if I was Cuban (my accent already makes them doubt it at times, especially when I realize they treat me better in those places when they think I’m a foreigner and they don’t look at me like I’m a prostitute). I answered yes, I’m Cuban, but I’ve lived abroad for some time, so what’s the problem. He said, “Ah, but if you’re Cuban you can’t go on the catamaran, you can watch it from the sand.” Do I have to agree that I can experience Cayo Coco without going in the catamaran? I’m accustomed to the bad service there, but I didn’t think they would go so far.

Maybe this story isn’t interesting enough for publication, but I want to share with someone that I felt humiliated, that in my own country (because it’s mine, too) I can’t go in a catamaran.

I’m not telling you all the discrimination I faced there because of my nationality, and what shocked me even more was for being with a foreigner, when you walk with another Cuban you almost don’t notice it, or worse, you restrict yourself from doing things you can’t do and no one asks you anything. My boyfriend had a lot of questions and I could only offer a few answers: Because that’s the way it is, because I can’t go in, well imagine, it’s always been like this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We went to Cuba in late 2009, incl. to Maria La Gorda in the far West of the Country. It's quite beautiful, and my wife did some diving with the hotel's dive shop. Interestingly, no Cuban national was allowed to go diving (except the dive instructors), and there was always some sort of official (border guards?) on the boat who checked that no unauthorized Cubans sneaked onto the boat. The dive crew was also VERY concerned about leaving and coming back exactly on time, they seemed most concerned with not coming back late. There were even some irate comments in the hotel's comment book at the front desk from Cuban visitors complaining that they weren't allowed to go out with the boat.