http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/cuba-allows-citizens-to-stay-in-tourist-hotels/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Cuba allows citizens to stay in tourist hotels

Posted March 31, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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By Marc Frank | Reuters

Cuba has lifted a ban on its nationals staying at hotels that were reserved exclusively for foreigners, hotel employees said on Monday.

It was the latest step to liberalize the communist-run state under new President Raul Castro, who has ended bans on Cubans buying computers, DVD players and cellular telephones.

“Anyone can stay at hotels as of midnight last night, as long as they have ID and the money to pay for a room,” said the night porter at the Chateau Miramar hotel in western Havana.

Employees at several hotels owned by Spanish chain Sol Melia confirmed this. Cubans can also rent cars and use other tourist facilities previously limited to foreigners, industry sources said.

The ban on staying in hotels at tropical beach resorts was a source of frustration for Cubans since their country opened up to tourism in the 1990s and gave rise to criticism of Cuba for having an “economic apartheid” system.

Raul Castro, 76, took over from his ailing brother Fidel Castro as Cuba’s first new leader in almost half a century on Feb. 24, promising to do away with “excessive restrictions” in Cuban society and its state-run economy.

On Friday, the government announced an end to a ban on Cubans buying and using cellular telephones.

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Member Comments

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On March 31, 2008, publisher wrote:

I have to say I am impressed with Raul Castro’s reforms like lifting this ban, allowing Cubans to have computers and cellphones but I still reserve judgment as to whether these reforms are only propaganda due to the low income of most Cubans or if some economic freedoms are coming that would allow Cubans to escape from the shackles of a centrally controlled economy make more money so they can afford these luxuries.

Next up freedom to travel, freedom to organize, freedom of enterprise and maybe even someday the freedom to vote in a democratic election?

Be sure to read our ongoing list of Raul Castro’s reforms as a *sticky article at the top of our home page.

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On March 31, 2008, J. Perez wrote:

This is a good one, I know from my last trips to Cuba that it was a thorn on the side of most Cubans, it went against a very basic issue of fairness and national pride. I hope Raul continues on this path and I have a feeling that he is being greatly influenced first by his daughter and secondly by the strong possibility of a democratic administration taking over in the U.S.