NBC's Matt Lauer Touts Tourism to Island Dictatorship
To hear the media tell it, Cuba is a great country to live in and visit. With propagandist Michael Moore’s “Sicko” soon to debut and glorify the Cuban health care system, NBC “Today host Matt Lauer broadcast from Havana, Cuba on June 5.
Lauer praised the “booming” economy and talked about the country’s stability.
“There’s stability here. Business is booming and tourists are flocking here, some two million a year.”
Lauer didn’t emphasize that those tourism dollars pay to keep Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in power, or that the Cuba seen by tourists is not the Cuba lived in by ordinary Cubans.
As Salon reported in 2002, tourist beaches have been cut off from everyday Cuban life. This policy of “tourism apartheid” had been around for a decade before that, Damien Cave wrote.
“A good soul in America who wants to be a tourist goes to a foreign-owned resort, pays the hotel bill – that money goes to the government. The government, in turn, pays the workers a pittance in worthless pesos and keeps the hard currency to prop up the dictator and his cronies. Illegal tourism perpetuates the misery of the Cuban people,” said President Bush in a 2003 speech.
That’s why it’s illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for pleasure trips.
It was also absurd of Lauer to call 2 million visitors a year a booming tourism industry. Baltimore, Maryland had more than 12 million tourist visits in 2005, and many other Americans cities garner even more. Even compared to another island nation, Cuba’s tourist trade pales in comparison. In 2006, the Bahamas had 4.7 million visitors.