Cuba Ends Tourism Apartheid

<p>Six weeks after taking office, Raul Castro has lifted the ban on Cubans staying in local hotels.</p>
April 4, 2008, 6am PDT | Mike Lydon
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"Cuba's so-called 'tourism apartheid' -- which has long prohibited locals from staying at hotels -- ends midnight Monday, according to news agencies in Havana.

The move ends a ban that many Cubans had fixated on as a prime example of the inequities and hardships they faced under Fidel Castro's regime. The lifting comes five weeks after Fidel Castro's brother, Raúl, took over the nation's presidency, and just days after he ended the ban on Cubans owning personal mobile phones, computers and household appliances.

But the measure is largely symbolic: a night's stay at a luxury hotel in Cuba can cost more than $200 -- which is just about what the average Cuban earns in a year.

Cubans were prohibited from staying at hotels even if someone else paid the tab.

Reuters news agency reported Monday that now Cubans can also rent cars and go to beaches once restricted to tourists."

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Published on Monday, March 31, 2008 in The Miami Herald
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