Fostering Repression in Cuba, One Daiquiri at a Time

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
In USA Today, Rick Jervis has a column on his adventures at Havana's El Floridita bar.

All he tells readers is that it's "the legendary Havana bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway and known as the 'cradle of the daiquiri.'"

The rest is about fun and games, a competition of famous American bartenders and how hanging out there is somehow -- "fostering U.S.-Cuba relations, one daiquiri at a time."

It's this type of irresponsible fluff that -- sadly -- makes American travelers oblivious to Cuba's realities.

Why not tell readers the whole story behind El Floridita?

How it became the "cradle of the daiquiri" due to a young Catalonian immigrant, Constantino "Constante" Ribalaigua Vert, who went from being a bartender to its majority owner until his death in 1953.

How it was stolen from Constante's family and heirs, including a noted charity set up by Catalonian immigrants, in the early 1960s.

How it's currently "owned" by Palmares, S.A., a shadow company of the Castro's Ministry of Tourism.

How it's headed by Colonel Manuel Marrero Cruz, a confidant of Raul Castro, who previously ran Gaviota, S.A., a shadow company of the Cuban Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR).

How each $6 daiquiri (hard currency or CUCs only, of course) -- nearly half the monthly salary of the average Cuban worker -- goes directly to Castro's police state.

How the tourism industry is one of the Cuban military and intelligence service's main sources of income -- second only to human trafficking, which the Obama Administration has recently tried to whitewash.

How frequenting El Floridita is -- in reality -- "fostering repression, one daiquiri at a time."

Sorry to kill your buzz. But facts matter.