for my first article, I did not choose to extol the charms of the beautiful island of Cuba, but rather to tell you about a raw reality that the Cuban people are currently living – and again – living. This is the embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba, which continues to affect the Cuban people in all aspects of life.
I am not Cuban, but I know this country very well living there half and developing our casa particular business.
The story of the U.S. blockade on Cuba begins in 1961. Until the end of Obama's inauguration, there had been little change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. President Obama had tried, against an unfavorable Congress, an opening and a thaw in diplomatic relations. The embargo was never lifted, but Obama had succeeded in opening up North American tourism to Cuba. Previously, North Americans had to apply for a permit to travel to Cuba and to go there for a specific reason, such as a university exchange, as part of research, as part of a "humanitarian" mission, but at least not to do Tourism. With the Obama administration, American tourists were finally able to return to visiting Cuba in 2015.
This opening was short-lived. Indeed, Trump's inauguration in 2017 did not bode well. And without delay, in June 2017, the agreements made under the Obama era were broken and the new administration again imposed stricter restrictions on the travel of American citizens to Cuba.
For us, managers of casa particular in Cuba, the effects have been felt this year. Already, a drop in tourist traffic, then, by other restrictions. For example, on July 13 of this year, all casa particular owners and hotel managers who posted their ad on the Booking.com website received an email from the booking platform telling them that since the parent company , Booking Holding, has subsidiaries in the United States, the company must comply with North American trade sanctions against Cuba. The chosen measure was to cancel all customer comments on Booking.com, about housing in Cuba. Personally this measure made me smile, but having recently put my ad on Booking.com, I was not really penalized. On the other hand, casa particular owners who have worked hard for years to gather the best feedback and thus attract other future customers didn't really have to find the joke tasteful.
The latest measurement made me smile less. In order to receive payments from my clients in Booking.com, they issue a virtual credit card and then it is up to me to get the money from the card to my account. Basically, it was already problematic, but I had finally managed to find a solution with a site called Stripe. The transfers worked, albeit expensive, but that's the price to pay for having an ad on Booking.com! It worked for a few months until, two weeks ago, a virtual card was refused by Stripe. After wasting some time knowing what was wrong and having a second virtual card refused, I learned that Stripe no longer accepts payments from a business in Cuba. I must say that there, it's much less funny!
Personally, I do not have a vital need for income, because I am fortunate to be born in Switzerland and to have a job there. On the other hand, I am disgusted for my Cuban colleagues who do not have the same chance and are in dire need of income.
What is the purpose of an embargo? To make people starve? If that's what it's for, it's well played! Because the Cubans have been living with a U.S. embargo since 1962 and have not given up, they have not complied with the demands of successive North American governments. In fact, it has been going on for so long, I think everyone has forgotten what the United States' demands are on Cuba so that the embargo is lifted! It no longer makes sense, this measure is not looking to the future, but to a past that it is time to leave behind.