A Dutch broadcasting network ("VPRO") recently ran a series on travel experiences -- called "World Upside Down" -- whereby listeners submitted photos and anecdotes of interesting trips.
They received the following submission from Liesbeth Eugelink about her trip to Cuba.
Most of the millions of foreign tourists who visit Cuba don't get to witness any of this, as they stay in the military's secluded beach resorts -- mainly located in keys where access is tightly restricted.
But equally as troubling is how overwhelmingly, even those who visit the beaches that Cubans can frequent (e.g. Playa del Este), remain indifferent to the Castro regime's blatant repression.
That's why Castro's regime continues to welcome them with open arms (and pockets).
Ms. Eugelink's submission to VPRO:
Cigars, rum, cocktails, salsa music, vintage cars, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Ernest Hemingway and Buena Vista Social Club - that's the image that exists about a Cuban holiday in the Netherlands. It hides the real life in this dictatorship. So we discovered when we sat in our beach chairs in Playa del Este.
Every ten meters is a wooden watchtower housing policemen in blue-gray dress with binoculars to spy on the people on the beach. Just before our seats a young soldier regularly shuffles by with a belt strapped around his skinny waist to hold up his pants. He is slumped, staring into the distance, tapping mindlessly with his gray truncheon on his thigh. Young men in swimwear walk back and forth, from acquaintances to policemen and back; slowly we are surrounded by an invisible network of messages.
As the day progresses, the pressure rises. The sea water from the Gulf of Mexico offers barely any refreshment. When at the end of the afternoon we leave the beach, there is a crowd. A young woman is crying while watching her husband in bathing trunks, being arrested. Unceremoniously, one of the policemen pushes him backwards into the bus and slams the door with a bang. Bystanders watch silent, as if the scene by now has become familiar.
(Translation courtesy of Cubarights.com)
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