Interesting: Cuba's Bureau of Tourism sponsored a three-minute promo on today's Morning Joe. Oh, wait, no. That was NBC itself, in the person of Kate Snow, with a smiley, unrelentingly upbeat segment promoting the glories of tourism in Cuba that will now be possible for Americans under President Obama's executive order relaxing former restrictions.
Snow's segment—entitled 'Bienvenidos a Cuba' just like a travelogue—had it all: beaches, dancing in the streets, cigars, rum, beer and all those nifty vintage cars potentially available to collectors. So, you ask, what did Snow have to say about the repressive Communist regime that continues to rule Cuba? Nada, naturally. Don't harsh the Cohiba mellow, compadre!
At the end of the segment, Snow enthused "it's the start of a new era." Indeed. Long live the fraternal affection between the Republic of Cuba and the grandissimo President of the United States! Long live Cuban allies in the American media!
Note: Snow says that many Cubans can't wait until they can buy a Ford or a Chevy. With what? According to this article, pursuant to pay hikes instituted in June, 2014: "at the high end, doctors with two specialties will see their salary go from the equivalent of $26 a month to $67, while an entry-level nurse will make $25, up from $13. Salaries at government jobs in Cuba average about $20 a month."
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Today a new set of rules are in place as the United States begins easing its over 50-year-old embargo to Cuba. Still, all the changes will not happen overnight but NBC News national correspondent Kate Snow is joining us now from Miama Beach, Florida with a preview of what lies ahead for relations with Cuba. Kate.
KATE SNOW: Good morning, Mika. We're here in Miami Beach, of course a prime tourist destination. But if you think about it, 90 miles from the Florida coast you've got the Cuban beaches that most Americans have never been to before. Well starting today with these changes, a whole lot more Americans might want to change their vacation plans. Havana is a fascinating place, a time capsule in a way. And as of this morning it will be a lot easier for Americans to see it with their own eyes.
MAN IN THE STREET: I am going absolutely going to Cuba.
SNOW: This morning Americans no longer need special permission to go to Cuba for reasons like cultural exchanges or education or family visits.
MAN IN AIRPORT: I've got two daughters in Cuba. I have to go.
SNOW: Overnight JetBlue issued a statement saying we are interested in providing service to Cuba from multiple US cities as soon as legally permitted. American and Delta also eager to expand their service. Cruise ships could stop in Cuban ports and a ferry that used to run between Key West and Cuba could come back to life.
And once Americans are there, they can spend as much as they want, use credit cards and bring back up to $400 worth of souvenirs including up to a hundred bucks in rum or Cuban cigars. It's only three Cohibas, but still. In Havana barber Gerardo Aguila says the lives of Cubans will improve. For one thing, their families in the US can send them four times as much money every year, they could end up with better and cheaper wi-fi, more electronics to buy, American food imported.
And those 1950s cars may look cute but they're tough to maintain. A lot of Cubans can't wait until they can buy a Ford or a Chevy. American companies are lining up to do business in Cuba but the biggest question mark is what Cuba will allow.
EXPERT: My sense the Cubans want a trickle, not a flood of US foreign investment and trade and they want to be able to control the pace of the relationship.
SNOW: In Phoenix Roger [unintelligble last name] says collectors can't wait until they can shop in Cuba for a classic car.
ROGER: It's like opening up a time capsule of cars that were buried more than 50 years ago. This might be the greatest barn find of all time.
SNOW: It may take a while before they can put their '57 Fairlanes up on Craigslist but for now the new regulations do allow for entrepreneurs in Cuba to sell some products here in the United States. We'll have to see how quickly all of this changes, Mika. It's all going to take some time but this is the start of a new era.