Buoyed by Obama, Cuban Military Seeks to Double Hotel Empire

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Last year, Hotels Magazine ranked Cuba's Grupo Turismo Gaviota as the largest Latin America-based hotel conglomerate.

Think about it: Cuba's Gaviota -- on its own -- is larger than any Mexican, Brazilian, Chilean, Argentinian, et al., hotel company.

Gaviota is owned by the Cuban military ("MINFAR"), through a holding company called GAESA (headed by Raul Castro's son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas).

Yes, the same Cuban military in charge of repression; subverting democracy in Venezuela; arms trafficking to North Korea and other rogue actors; and whose senior officials have been indicted by U.S. federal courts for the murder of Americans.

All together, GAESA's hotel empire is larger than that of the Walt Disney Company.

And now, encouraged by Obama's Cuba policy -- it seeks to double its size.

As Obama's smoke and rhetoric clears, the facts clearly show who the overwhelming beneficiary of the new policy is -- Castro's military monopolies.

And for agribusiness lobbyists, who have long-argued how more U.S. traveler income (to Castro's monopolies) would equal more U.S. agricultural sales (to Castro's monopolies), here's a sobering reality:

Since December 17th, U.S. travelers to Cuba have increased by 37%, while agricultural sales to Cuba have plummeted by 50%.

Finally, to add insult to injury, many of Gaviota's premier developments are on properties confiscated from Americans.

But sadly, American interests have been relegated in Obama's policy -- along with the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people -- in favor of appeasing Castro's dictatorship.

From The Latin America Herald Tribune:

Cuban State Tourism Agency Aims to Double Hotel Capacity by 2020

Cuba’s state-run Gaviota tourism agency plans by the year 2020 to nearly double its number of hotel rooms island-wide to 50,000, state television reported.

Gaviota expects to open three new hotels in Havana over the next three years as it bids to make the Cuban capital a premier urban tourism destination in the Caribbean.

One of the first steps in the expansion project will be the opening next year of a 246-room, five-star hotel in Old Havana’s historic Manzana de Gomez building.

Set for 2017 is the reopening of the legendary Hotel Packard, with 300 rooms, while 2018 will see the launch of the Prado y Malecon facility, a new seaside inn with 208 guest rooms.

Gaviota’s three existing hotels in the capital, Quinta Avenida, Memories Miramar Havana, and H10 Panorama, are all located in the exclusive Miramar neighborhood.

The project will also include new hotels in the resort of Varadero beach, some 150 kilometers (95 miles) east of Havana, and in the northern keys off the provinces of Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila and Camag├╝ey.