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Chance to Provide Cuba with Free Labor
Old 07-18-2015, 12:34 PM   #1
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Chance to Provide Cuba with Free Labor

The attached is part of an email that I received from Holland American Lines that provides me with an opportunity to sail on their ship (my cost) so that I can "work directly alongside other travelers and local residents on projects that harness your own skills and passions" and provide free labor to a communist foreign country that takes my dollars and pays it's w*rkers in pesos.

I can't fathom why I would consider an opportunity to toil under the Cuban sun to assist whom? I like to relax and enjoy my cruise, so I'll pass on this opportunity.

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In 2016, fathom will make its maiden voyages to two vibrant Caribbean islands with different cultures, but with common dreams for the well-being of their people: Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic, where fathom's established impact partners already have strong community connections, you'll work directly alongside other travelers and local residents on projects that harness your own skills and passions to help make a positive difference. In Cuba, as you connect and engage directly with the Cuban people through a pioneering program of educational and cultural exchanges, you'll be in the first wave of an ongoing fathom impact travel experience whose ultimate goal is to help facilitate and sustain programs to meet the needs of the local communities.
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Old 07-18-2015, 02:40 PM   #2
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Your free labor would benefit the people of Cuba who suffer under the communist system that restricts the opportunities of people to improve their lives. It is pretty clear that you would not be working for the government of Cuba. I've been to Cuba twice. It is an amazing country with wonderful, independent people. I am really struck by how frustrated they are that they can't improve their lives. The good news is that change is coming.

If you don't want to do volunteer work while on vacation, don't. Holland America obviously believes there are people who want to balance their hedonism with helping other people.
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Old 07-18-2015, 03:10 PM   #3
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Being that my current skill set is that of a semi competent BS artist , not sure they would even want me.
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Old 07-18-2015, 04:20 PM   #4
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I think this is mostly BS to legalize the cruises. There are still limitations on visitation to Cuba, and one of them requires educational and cultural exchange or something like that. I don't think there will be much of it, at all, and it may be limited to having some Cubans on board or in shore excursions to discuss Cuban culture. This is something they are saying to be able to cruise into Cuban ports. They'll do as little as required by law to do this.
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:01 PM   #5
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I think this is mostly BS to legalize the cruises. There are still limitations on visitation to Cuba, and one of them requires educational and cultural exchange or something like that. I don't think there will be much of it, at all, and it may be limited to having some Cubans on board or in shore excursions to discuss Cuban culture. This is something they are saying to be able to cruise into Cuban ports. They'll do as little as required by law to do this.
+1

This was exactly my thought when I got the email too, otherwise most Americans do not qualify to travel there as its still outlawed by the US gov't.

I've been to Cuba previously for vacation (legally), so I know its not manual labor that is needed. Its things like pencils and paper so the kids in schools can practice writing.

I also had the thought that "I'm not paying 2K to go work all day for a week in any country".
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Old 07-19-2015, 06:18 AM   #6
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I doubt they'd be having people do manual labor as that wouldn't seem to fit the "skills and passions" profile of cruise ship passengers. Teaching English would be more likely. This sort of cruise isn't my thing, but if people want to do it, I see no reason to criticize their good intentions.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:44 AM   #7
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The quote in the OP is very clear that the free labor (working on projects alongside others) is NOT in Cuba but in the Dominican Republic. Your free labor will not take place in Cuba.

The "Habitat for Humanity" style cruise is just a marketing gimmick to try to make big ship cruising appeal to a different demographic, no more, no less. Most cruises do not have much of a positive impact on the port countries' economies.
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:18 AM   #8
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Being that my current skill set is that of a semi competent BS artist , not sure they would even want me.
Ditto. However we have friends (retired high school biology teachers) who do these working wildlife tours(name escapes me) - the last wherein he showed me a picture of his wife placing a medical suppository up a baby elephants you know what in Thailand.

heh heh heh - I'll stick with the BS. I shunned barefoot sailor tours when I was younger. Never never volunteer - you get nailed enough times anyway.
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:50 AM   #9
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This has gone on for awhile. Have a relative who went to cuba a few years ago. She was part of a group who were going for multi-cultural purposes. They took various goods, like canvas for artists, and came back with paintings and similar items. I'm sure some of their cash went to the artists, so it was a win-win for all.
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:33 AM   #10
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A group of us older baseball players are taking to trip to Cuba in November to play games with local teams, a 'people to people' exchange allowed by the State Department. Far from a working trip or providing manual labor, though. But the local teams are supposed to be tough.
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:17 AM   #11
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Take the cruise. Get off the ship. Buy a ton of useless, overpriced trinkets and other worthless junk from the vendors on the dock. Leave your wonderful US dollars in Cuba/Dominican/wherever.

THAT will leave the "greatest connection" and "impact the lives" of many and "meet the needs of the local community"

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Old 07-21-2015, 06:25 AM   #12
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I've been to Cuba previously for vacation (legally), so I know its not manual labor that is needed. Its things like pencils and paper so the kids in schools can practice writing.

I also had the thought that "I'm not paying 2K to go work all day for a week in any country".
Right.

In a way, it's kind of an insult to imply that us rich folks can help them digging ditches in countries that have a surplus of competent manual labor, isn't it?

Makes us feel good though doesn't it!

They don't need physical help, they just need money.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:40 AM   #13
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Nowhere in the company's material is there any suggestion of manual labor being the contribution. Can we just drop this non sequiter? It isn't about manual labor at all.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:49 AM   #14
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Take the cruise. Get off the ship. Buy a ton of useless, overpriced trinkets and other worthless junk from the vendors on the dock. Leave your wonderful US dollars in Cuba/Dominican/wherever.
I found relatively few trinkets to buy in Cuba, although I'm not much of a trinket person. What tourists really buy is rum, cigars, and coffee. The coffee is excellent. Purchases of these support the islands industries and their workers.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:01 AM   #15
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What tourists really buy is rum, cigars, and coffee. The coffee is excellent. Purchases of these support the islands industries and their workers.
Well, that was my point regardless of what is bought.

Having spent too much time in many 'disadvantaged' parts of the world I tend to cringe at pitches that say: "....you'll work directly alongside other travelers and local residents on projects that harness your own skills and passions to help make a positive difference....".

Many times the main beneficiaries are the tourists who take pictures to show to their friends at cocktail parties back home, bragging how they helped those poor people build a school (during a two hour stay...lunch back on the ship!). Meanwhile, the locals are left behind saying "what was that all about?"
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:49 AM   #16
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Cuba as well as all poor countries already has a surplus of cheap labor. Unless you have special skills like those of a doctor or surgeon, just bring your money. They need that more.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:08 PM   #17
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They don't need physical help, they just need money.
They >think< they need money, and I'm sure it would be appreciated. But they need something more fundamental so they can make their own way with the talents and efforts of the Cuban people put to best use.

Poverty is the symptom, not the disease.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:51 PM   #18
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Cuba as well as all poor countries already has a surplus of cheap labor. Unless you have special skills like those of a doctor or surgeon, just bring your money. They need that more.
I agree, except for Cuba maybe not doctors

Cuba has pretty good healthcare compared to other non-US neighbors. They also export it pretty heavily to other developing countries.

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It is widely believed that medical workers are Cuba's most important export commodity
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_...ternationalism

So even if they need it, you might not be welcomed.
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:10 PM   #19
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Interesting! That info I just learned begged another question. If Cuba manages to produce that many doctors, surely it can figure out other things it needs.

But then, the Wiki article has the following.
According to a 2007 paper published in The Lancet medical journal, "growing numbers of Cuban doctors sent overseas to work are defecting to the USA", some via Colombia, where they have sought temporary asylum. In February 2007, at least 38 doctors were requesting asylum in the US embassy in Bogotá after asylum was denied by the Colombian government. Cuban doctors working abroad are reported to be monitored by "minders" and subject to curfew.

According to Luis Zuñiga, director of human rights for the Cuban American National Foundation, Cuban doctors are "slave workers" who labor for meager wages while bolstering Cuba's image as a donor nation and "the Cuban government exports these doctors as merchandise".
That shows that tourists going to places like Cuba, China, and Vietnam enjoy themselves because of cheap prices, but do not really know how the regimes treat their citizens. Count me out.
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:21 PM   #20
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DH was treated by a Cuban doc in Belize, and our friends from Jamaica routinely go to Cuba for health care.
My sis did a trip there as part of a writing program (she's a professor).

My take: Cuba is just like the rest of the Caribbean, just has some exotic layer for Americans because we haven't been allowed to visit. There's good, bad, indifferent stuff, just like every other place in the region. Nothing particularly special about Cuba's economic misery, except that the US has lots of footprints on it.
Nobody else is barred from visiting, spending money, whatnot.
Not that I wouldn't like to go, but there isn't some specific magic to Cuba that exists there and only there.
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