For Cubans, a day on the seaside isn’t any simple activity

A person carries a fish at Mayabeque seaside in Mayabeque province, Cuba, on July 4, 2019. AFP / Yamil Lage

 Havana: Cuba’s structure ensures its individuals entry to its seashores, however many locals are unable to benefit from the island’s pristine white sands and crystal clear blue waters.

Whereas overseas vacationers flock to such paradisiacal Havana websites as Varadero, which was this yr named the second most-beautiful seaside on the earth by American journey web site TripAdvisor, Cubans are usually discovered elsewhere.

“Not many vacationers come right here,” stated 43-year-old Rey Gonzalez, who was having fun with a day at Guanabo, a seaside east of the capital.

Guanabo’s sand is not as white and the water not fairly as clear as Varadero’s, however that mattered little to Gonzalez, who was there together with his household.

“For me, all of the seashores are the identical: sand, the ocean … you do not see the distinction whenever you’re swimming,” stated Gonzalez.

Sitting on a stretch of seaside the place quite a few stray beer cans had been seen, 34-year-old Lazaro Palomino added: “We just like the seaside, whether or not it is clear or soiled.”

Even so, Palomino acknowledges that Varadero is on a special stage.

“All Cubans would like to go. I went as soon as and I got here again in shock” at its magnificence, Palomino stated with a chuckle.

Seashore politics

Like the whole lot else in communist Cuba, seashores are a political situation.

“In Cuba, there are solely Cuban seashores, that are a part of the nation’s heritage,” insists Jose Luis Perello, a tourism professional.

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He quotes article 23 of the structure, which asserts that the nation’s 271 seashores are “socialist property belonging to everybody.”

It has been that method because the communist revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959.

Earlier than that, the coast was coated by personal seashores reserved for members — who had been principally whites.

Even the previous dictator Fulgencio Batista, who reigned twice, first from 1940 to 1944 then from 1955 to 1959, was unable to get a membership card as a result of he was combined race.

However whereas the revolution established common seaside entry, the shoreline stays a spot considered with suspicion.

“It was linked to the unlawful exodus” of individuals attempting to flee the island’s communist rulers “and was the entry level to the nation of little teams with sure pursuits,” Perello stated, alluding to the failed United States-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

Regardless of the official celebration line, dissidents just like the late author Reinaldo Arenas complained that they could not go to sure seashores that had been reserved for members of commerce unions.

Likewise, for a few years, Cubans had been banned from accommodations, and at the moment they’re nonetheless not allowed to board boats.

A lot-needed money

Another excuse Cubans are stored off their island’s seashores is tourism.

Final yr’s 4.75 million guests introduced in $3.3 billion — cash the Cuban authorities sorely wants because it struggles beneath crippling United States sanctions.

Not less than one lodge in Varadero advertises an unique seaside, and locals say over-zealous safety guards kick them off lodge seashores.

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The regulation prohibits such practices, however Perello acknowledged that, “undoubtedly, the accommodations signify a enterprise that is attempting to place strain on” the federal government.

For locals, simply attending to the seaside can typically be a problem.

Most do not personal a automobile, and may’t afford the bus fare to take them to the shore.

Laura Yanis, 21, has been to Varadero solely as soon as in her life.

“It’s totally stunning, the water may be very blue, the sand is wonderful,” she stated. “However it’s actually very far for me and I haven’t got any transport.”

Sitting on the tiny Bacuranao seaside, round 30 kilometers from Havana, she insists that “all Cubans actually do have entry to all seashores, they don’t seem to be personal or reserved for sure individuals.”

“That is vital as a result of it is us, the individuals, who’re taking the nation ahead,” she added.

Caridad Vidangel, 48, managed to get to Bacuranao however solely after taking a bus after which a horse-drawn carriage.

“If we may, we might go some other place,” she stated of the seaside, the closest one to her house. “I’ve by no means been to Varadero. I might wish to … however it’s not possible.”