The Nation, one of America’s premier left-wing magazines, is advertising a trip to Cuba where, among other attractions, visitors will have a chance to meet spies who helped kill Americans.
An email sent out Friday invites loyal friends of The Nation to purchase one of the limited spots on a guided tour of Havana and its environs lasting from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3.
Ordinarily, vacation travel to Cuba from the United States is illegal, but this trip qualifies as an exception because it is considered a people-to-people educational venture rather than a pure pleasure trip. Nevertheless, the letter practically gushes about the luxuries travelers will get to experience in Fidel and Raul Castro’s island paradise:
Our week long itinerary will include museum tours with eminent art and cultural historians; seminars and lectures featuring renowned Cuban economists, government officials, community activists, physicians, and urban planners … exclusive concerts with popular jazz artists, troubadours, and folk musicians; performances by students of Cuba’s internationally acclaimed ballet institutes; visits to artist’s colonies and studios; guided tours of Old Havana, the Latin American Medical School, and the University of Havana; and visits to many other inspiring locales and events.
The group will stay for six nights at the famed, four-star NH Capri Hotel La Habana, located just minutes from Old Havana and just a block from the the Malecón, a broad esplanade and seawall which stretches five miles along the Cuban coast. We’ll also travel to the scenic Viñales Valley on the western end of the island where we will spend one night with a Cuban host family at their “casa particulare” (private home), which will offer an opportunity to closely interact with residents of the town. While in Viñales, we will have lunch on an organic farm, explore the region’s limestone formations, and learn about the tobacco fields in this province that produce the world’s finest cigars.
Among the highlights of the trip touted by The Nation? A meeting with the Cuban Five, whom they helpfully explain are “intelligence agents considered national heroes after spending many years imprisoned in U.S. jails.”
Well, that’s one way of putting it. Others may remember the Cuban Five for their efforts to infiltrate Cuban exile groups in Miami. One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for helping Cuban intelligence shoot down two planes affiliated with the exile group Brothers to the Rescue. Four U.S. citizens aboard the planes were killed, though The Nation was careful to avoid mentioning that inconvenient truth in its email.
Despite their espionage activities, two of the Cuban Five were deported after a few years’ detention, while the last three were released in 2014 as part of a prisoner swap engineered by Barack Obama, with the U.S. receiving intelligence officer Rolando Sarraff Trujillo and contractor Alan Gross in return.
While they’re happy to meet with the Cuban Five, government officials, and the “renowned” economists who help manage the country’s woeful economy, The Nation makes no mention of meeting any dissident or religious groups in the country.
The cost of trip is $5,950 for a single-occupancy room, just slightly less than what the typical Cuban earns in an entire year.
And what will the likely end be of all this traveling? If last year is any indication, a gushy piece about how pleasant and sadly misunderstood Cuba is. Anna Theofilopoulou, an independent political analyst and writer, went on the first iteration of this trip last year and came back ready to debunk various “worn-out fallacies” about the country. It was hardly true, she said, that Cuba needed competitive multi-party elections in order to be democratic. Rather, she happily wrote about how one of her Cuban interlocutors “refuted” this myth by telling her “that Cuba has democracy and freedom but they are defined differently.” Apparently, Cuba’s different definition of freedom allows for imprisoning peaceful political dissidents.
She also touted that Cubans are encouraged to participate in politics and that “they are listened to,” without addressing sticky matters like Cuba’s atrocious press freedom.
This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.