U.S. airlines flee Castro's island hellhole

President Obama made a big deal about the resumption of U.S. carrier travel to Cuba.  JetBlue in particular got Obama's accolades.  After all, when the president of the United States sets the example for Cuba tourist travel, showing how it's all tropical music, classic cars, Cuban cigars, mojitos, and dancing like Beyoncé out on the Malecón, who could resist?

Today, JetBlue has cut back its flights "to better match demand."  And in the last few days, it has been joined by two other airliners, Silver and Frontier, fleeing for their lives like Marielitos.  They all said demand isn't what they expected.

This is a fancy way of saying what's really going on: Cuba is a tourist hellhole.  The service stinks, the amenities are gross, the place is thick with thieves and woman-gropers, the cost is high, and the alternatives are out there.  In fact, the Caribbean is loaded with pleasant, accommodating destinations well worth a tourist's dollar for a vacation.  Taking a vacation at a communist military-run resort really falls more into the Gulag category.

How is this for tourist hell?  Observers noticed Cuban customs officials rummaging through tourist luggage and taking what they wanted.  When the tourists complained, they were thrown in jail.  Some tourist operation they've got there.  In fact, the place is a security risk because no professional or U.S. or U.S.-standard officials are involved.  Mangy street dogs are what pass for security dogs in Havana.  You can expect cockroaches in your breakfast cereal and tourist bulletin boards such as this one say bring your own toilet paper.

Cuba's officials aren't even interested in making their foreign investors happy.  American businesses have but one purpose, according to reports: to serve through their presence in Havana as bait to attract other sucker businesses, the better to rob them all.

Like in this case:

[A] Canadian businessman who had invested on the island for almost two decades, until he was thrown in jail on corruption charges. The Canadian, Sarkis Yacoubian, spent more than two years in jail before being found guilty and expelled. His case is not unique.

"We know one thing for sure," Zack said. "He didn't get his business back. Raúl Castro's son-in-law did."

Doing business in Cuba is so dodgy and money-losing that just doing it now involves reputational risk, according to Control Risks consultancy.

No wonder airlines don't want to be there – the U-turn they are making is rather visible.  And they are not alone.  According to the FT:

... about 60 per cent of the businesses established here by foreigners since the fall of communism in eastern Europe have closed, according to government statistics. Some of them – analysts and diplomats say – were forced out by the Cuban government.

What a dump. Best thing out there is to just say no to the hellhole so touted by President Obama.

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