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Posted July 08, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Vacation

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Satellite image of Varadero Cuba

This question evolved from another thread here and I would like to get travelers’ opinions on the current state of the international tourist destination Varadero Cuba.

I understand Americans may not want to offer many answers so we understand if your “friend” has had experiences in Cuba.

How long have you been going to Varadero?

Have you stayed in different resorts?

Are Cuban citizens allowed to enjoy the hotels, bars, water sports etc more now than in the past?

If so, has this been gradual?

Have you noticed more Cubans enjoying Varadero? If so, since when?

Here are some comments from another thread:

manfredz wrote:

Islazul Villa La Mar
3ª. Avenida e/ 28 y 30, Cuba
Rooms: 264

From what I understand the Islazul chain allows Cubans.

Further from what I understand, the Cubans guests were not ones who chose to go there for a family vacation but are given a vacation there if they exceed their quotas etc. We eat the same food in the same buffet room, drink at the same AI bars and enjoy the same floor shows at night.  But there is very little social interaction - more with hotel staff. In the town part of the beach you’ll see primarily Cuban families on th beach.  Further up the peninsula, hotel security an police spot checks make sure these Cubans don’t accidentally wander up there where the 4 and 5 star hotels are.  There is a usually unmanned police checkpoint at the entrance to Varadero tho. Although I hear that the powers that be try to minimize contact between Cubans and tourists they’ve pretty well lost the battle.  Go to any clubs in Varadero - my favorite was Calle 62 - and you’ll see so much intermingling only a blind cop could miss it.  And these are hundreds of Cuban youth with designer jeans, cellphones and paying in CUC.
Not representative of what I saw in Matanzas or Santa Clara though.


anders wrote:

perhaps I can shred some light on “the matter of Varadero” and ordinary cubans around tourist facilities. I have also visited the Varadero peninsula and several other tourist locations.

Islazul is a Cuban company, one of the major hotel corporations. There are several. All hotels owned in joint ventures or otherwise primarily directed towards international tourists have reserved quotas for Cuban nationals. This have always been the case and is intented to counteract segregated tourist quarters.

Varadero is a free port area. That means imported commodities can be brought there tax free so the uninhabited police stop manfred saw is actually a customs control. the small harbors they have at the top of the peninsula were full of yachts when I visited….

On Sat July 07, 2007, manfredz wrote:

at our hotel and many others that i saw the security guard are all clip on tie and blazer types.  (did see some heavier ones though).  A couple of ones at teh villa la mar spoke very good English and a friendlier group I couldn’t ask for - far from what i expected in a totalitarian state.
In Santa Clara however in the bus depot at the entrance to the inter provincial lounge, the female security guard, although unarmed could have come out of a state trooper ad - complete with long baton.  As a tourist I just got a quick look at my bus ticket - Cubans however had both ticket and ID cards closely examined both upon entry to the lounge and again at the door to the bus bay.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 08, 2007 by Lee

    i have a “friend” who’s girlfriend is now in the US. but they visited Varadero many times. very beautiful. Cubans are NOT allowed, or at least as of last summer, to go past a certain line on the beach. there are guards that will stop Cubans walking up the beach. My friend tested this with his girlfriend and they were stopped, and told to go back to the locals beach. It’s such a shame that Cubans cannot enjoy some of the more beautiful sights that their country offers. they also tested this in Cayo Coco, and got arrested.  they were discussing they irony of how different it will be when they return next year. she will still be Cuban, but because of her US status the police will not be able to harass her and she will be able to go places where her family will be forbidden to enter. this has to end soon.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 08, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I wonder how authorities know that someone is “Cuban” just by looking at them? They must have to harass lots of foreign tourists in order to catch a few Cubans?

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  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 08, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    unless i’m mistaken, its not so much of a case of being cuban but of not being a guest of that hotel whose beach they were trying to enter.  And the way they tell is that most hotels use colored armbands on their guests.  THe public part of the beach goes to about calle 60.  Above that, its one hotels beach after another, right to the end of the peninsula.  Same thing happens if you try to enter another hotel - if you’re not wearing the right colored band, forget it.  And this iss enforced by hotel security.
    What police enforce from what i’ve heard is Cuban gals accompanying male tourists - supposedly to try to limit prostitution (when heading downtown alone at night to go clubbing, i’d hear about 4-5 x in the 45 min walk “pssst, you want a cheeka”).  Canadian white guys who take along a blak Canadian partner have reported having police start to question their black gal - once police discover she’s not cuban, they apologize and back off.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on July 08, 2007 by Lee

    i understand your confusion on how they can possible decifer who is cuban or who is a tourist, my friend was baffled by this all the time. i told him maybe it’s the way cubans walk or dress. but, the authorities (police) can absolutely tell the difference. As far as the arm bands, that makes sense for the hotels but what about the beach itself? my friend was allowed to continue but his girlfriend and her sister were not (and they are also white).

  5. Follow up post #5 added on July 09, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    am sure they can tell at a glance - once used to do security in a club.  u can tell it from a person before they open their mouths when some underage with phoney id is gonna try to get past you.  assume non-cubans dont have that natural fear in their eyes from the police, and they can sense it.
    getting back to the armbands, notice in our hotel, the tourists got blue armbands, the cubans had yellow.  but AI buffet, snacks and included bars were common for both.  with cubans who were employees, when wanting to get a drink afterwards, you’d have to go elsewhere because they were not allowed to use the facilities after work, but could get drinks from bar (non-alcoholic) while on duty.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on July 12, 2007 by anders

    the 4 and 5 star hotels are mostly spanish or italian. they always “close their beach” where ever they are. It´s a part of their concepts of exclusiveness. strolling along the beaches in Italy is impossible in the hotel areas.

    In scandinavia such seclusion is illegal, against our inherited rights of free roaming. To the cuban authorities it is also a sacrifice they had to pay in order to get these hotel chains established. the problem occurs when private or commercial rights are considered more important then citizens rights.

    When it comes to the interpretation of events by Lee and his friends I have to say smut often is in the eye of the beholder. If your looking for reasons to repudiate things you will always find them. When one starts “explaning” things with how people walk, smell, dance or dress one is so far into hells kitchen that one looses tuch with reality.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on July 19, 2007 by molly

    re:recognizing Cubans:  could it be that the police already know the Cubans that hang out in Varadero in person?

  8. Follow up post #8 added on January 29, 2008 by Lynn

    I was told tey know youare not Cuban by the way you carry yourself and sweat in their heat.

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