‘Tourists Who Come to Cuba Sick, We Will Heal Them’

Juan Carlos García Granda, Cuba’s Minister of Tourism (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 3 November 2021 — Cuban Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García Granda has praised the courage of Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of the Spanish hotel company Meliá, and Miguel Fluxá, president of the Iberostar group, for facing US sanctions by continuing their business in Cuba.n Carlos García Granda,

The official spoke with Diario de Mallorca during a visit to London on the occasion of the World Travel Market tourism fair, where he went to promote the Island as a safe country and even as a destination to cure covid-19.

“Miguel Fluxá and the Escarrers show courage. They and their employees are sanctioned by a cruel and unjust blockade against my country, the great obstacle that prevents the development of the Island,” García Granda told the journalist who asked him about the investment of Mallorcan businessmen in Cuba.

“Gabriel Escarrer was vetoed from entering the United States by former President Trump for, supposedly, benefiting from land expropriated in the Revolution, is that correct? I should not get involved in that, but during the lawsuits the evidence has been shown in favorable judgments on the legality of the processes. It is part of the strategy to discourage foreign investment in Cuba,” continues the minister.

Justice to date has not ruled on the legality of any process such as those mentioned by García Granda, who also improperly mixes the lawsuits in the United States under the Helms-Burton Act and the sanctions of the Trump Administration on “foreigners who have confiscated property of US nationals or trafficked in such property” with the complaints filed in the courts of Spain, where Washington’s rule cannot be applied.

A complaint filed by the Sánchez-Hill family, heirs of the land on which the Paradisus Rio de Oro and Sol Río and Luna Mares hotels are located, has been making its way in the Palma court for three years with the demanding that Meliá compensate the family for enrich itself with their properties, confiscated without compensation. The case, which has had many twists and turns, is awaiting new allegations from the Cuban State, which is required as an interested party, but there has been no judgment in favor or against on the merits of the matter, which is the responsibility of the Spanish Justice.

In the interview, the reporter asks the minister if, as the slogan of Cuba’s booth at the fair says, there is on the island “tranquility”, to which García Granda replies that “it breathes,” after a complex situation with the pandemic that has weighed down the tourism sector.

The official assures that 100% of the “target population” has been vaccinated with at least one dose and that by the end of the year all of them should have completed the series of doses. Although the Cuban Government has never clarified what it refers to as the target or able-to-be vaccinated population, it can be deduced that it has discounted the percentage of people who reject immunization. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Public Health, more than 65% of the population (7,326,707 Cubans) have received the complete series from the Soberana or Abdala vaccines.

García Granda excuses himself when the journalist urges him to talk about the approval of the emergency use of the World Health Organization (WHO) and explains that the authorities are still waiting for recognition, but that the decrease in covid infections, hospitalizations and deaths endorse the operation of the Cuban antidotes.

“Our tourism is safe and responsible. We have the guarantee that people will not get sick, and those who arrive sick, we will cure them. We only ask for the vaccination certificate or a negative PCR 72 hours in advance. And we have a great fortress, in each hotel there is a doctor, a nurse and an epidemiologist. We are going to take advantage of offering in the tourist package the opportunity to get vaccinated,” he says, despite the fact that vaccination in most countries is free, especially among the main sources of tourists.

The minister also wanted to avoid commenting on the repression in Cuba and cut the journalist’s last question: “The social tension that erupted in the street against the Cuban government …? [He comes forward to answer],” says the article in Diario de Mallorca. “That was something that happens in the world on a daily basis, however when it happens in Cuba, no matter how small, it is manipulated,” interrupts García Granda. “There is one Cuba on social networks and another Cuba in reality. We advocate that each citizen has their own opinion. Visit it.”


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