Today’s Editorial January 26: Cuba competition?

It depends on who you believe whether Fidel Castro if knocking at death’s door or if he’s up trotting about.

The United States government would have you believe the former.

Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez wants to convince us of the latter.

But no matter what Fidel’s state of health, he will die – someday.

And when he does it is more than likely the United States will end its embargo of the Communist country.

The embargo began in 1962 under then-US President John F. Kennedy.

It prohibits American businesses from trading or conducting business with Cuban interests as well as prohibits most travel by Americans to Cuba.

The embargo also bans the consumption of Cuban products by Americans anywhere in the world. (OK US expats, put down that glass of Havana Club rum and snuff that Cohiba cigar. You never know who’s watching!)

Both the US House of Representatives and the Senate have tried to put an end to the embargo.

But every time US President George W. Bush vetoes the legislation.

This is Bush’s last term as leader of the United States.

Castro will die.

And eventually the embargo will be lifted.

It’s something the Cayman Islands can’t ignore.

Once Cuba is opened to Americans it is a sure bet that those who like to cruise the Caribbean will champ at the bit to cruise to the country just a short 90 miles south of Florida and take in the colourful sites and sounds of the island.

They’ll marvel at the Vedado district where they’ll enjoy Friday night shows at the clubs and Bolero bars.

They’ll soak up the romance that is always on hand in Havana.

They won’t encounter the beggars that are so prevalent on some Caribbean cruise destinations.

Cuba is indeed filled with rich, colourful tradition. There is a ubiquity of arts in all its forms and varieties and people reading, writing, playing music and staging street performances are evident everywhere throughout the island.

There is a plethora of galleries, museums and houses dedicated to the arts.

All this to say that the Cayman Islands needs to keep an eye on its neighbour to the north.

Once the US lifts Cuba trade restriction it is just possible that we could have another competitor in the tourism industry.

And one that has much to offer.

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