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As Trade Restrictions Crumble, Airbnb Offers Rooms In Cuba 41

As reported by the Associated Press, and carried by the Washington Post, one major move toward normalized relations between Cuba and the United States has been made not by diplomats, but by entrepreneurs. Airbnb has opened its crowd-sourced roomfinding service to Cubans and Americans, such that American tourists visiting Havana can book space in private homes — as of today. From the article: “We believe that Cuba could become one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in Latin America,” said Kay Kuehne, regional director for Airbnb, the website and mobile app that allows users to book rooms in more than 1 million private homes around the world. “We are actually plugging into an existing culture of micro-enterprise in Cuba. The hosts in Cuba have been doing for decades what we just started doing seven years ago. ... Because of continuing restrictions under the U.S. embargo, the company’s Cuba listing will only be available to U.S. travelers visiting under one of 12 U.S.-government approved categories of legal travel, ranging from professional research to religious activities.”
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As Trade Restrictions Crumble, Airbnb Offers Rooms In Cuba

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  • I'm OK to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02, 2015 @10:42AM (#49391829)

    "ranging from professional research to religious activities.”

    As an Atheist I go there for the following religious activities.
    Not praying
    Not going to mass

  • Casa Particulars (Score:5, Informative)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Thursday April 02, 2015 @10:42AM (#49391835)

    Cuba is easy to travel around. Reserve a room in a casa particular in Havana before you arrive, or just turn up. After that, the owners will just call ahead where ever you want to go and help you out. Or take your chances and just turn up and see what you find.

    I loved Cuba, but accessing Internet wasn't much fun (my mobile phone company charged through the nose, and the equiv of USD$10/hr at one of the rare internet cafes that barely worked wasn't worth it. Go to Cuba and enjoy the music, interacting with people and being generally unplugged.

    • Funny you should mention Internet access with AirBNB, and how much you enjoyed being unplugged.

      I rent a cabin on my property through AirBNB. It's out in the country 30 miles from the nearest city. It has no Internet, and it's in a valley so there is no TV reception, though I supply a DVD player and about a hundred DVDs. About half my guests (generally the younger generations) complain about the lack of internet and TV on the first day. When they leave a couple days later they always tell me how refreshi

  • Good thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday April 02, 2015 @10:43AM (#49391849)

    A good method to get some money into the population instead of greasing the Administration and rich hotel moguls.

    • One of the problems Cuba still faces, and will continue to do, is not everybody gets anywhere near that money.

      Some of the people who work on resorts probably bring in more in tips in a few days than most Cubans will make in a month.

      The people who own cabs and the like probably do pretty well.

      But you can quickly get to the people who even by Cuban standards are barely scraping by, and are essentially just begging from the tourists.

      Normalizing trade with the US stands to have the potential to leave even more

      • Soooo.. Unless the money is evenly distributed, it's not 'good' for Cuba? Making a few categories of people relatively more wealthy than their countrymen is worse than that money not coming into the country in the first place?

        I'm no fan of globalism, or of erecting 5 star resorts in places like Cuba or Jamaica -- but something is still better than nothing, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      instead they can pay a percentage to silicon valley

      you guys are more parasitic than the government you loathe so much

      • by Anonymous Coward

        We have a winner.

        The casa particular system already in place sees a lot more money staying in the country than airbnb acting as middleman would. Decades of propaganda have made the US utterly ignorant to Cuban culture, it seems.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday April 02, 2015 @10:53AM (#49391903) Journal

    The US government can legally restrict goods coming in from Cuba, but the American people are not theirs to command. There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit us from visiting Cuba and spending money there.

    -jcr

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday April 02, 2015 @11:10AM (#49392011)

      There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit us from visiting Cuba and spending money there.

      -jcr

      Technically there is no travel ban. You are just prohibited from spending money or receiving gifts in Cuba without a government license.

      From United States embargo against Cuba [wikipedia.org]

      The current regulation does not prohibit travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba per se, but it makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to have transactions (spend money or receive gifts) in Cuba under most circumstances without a US government Office of Foreign Assets Control issued license.[21] Since even paying unavoidable airfare ticket taxes into a Cuban airport would violate this transaction law, it is effectively impossible for ordinary tourists to visit Cuba without breaking the monetary transaction rule.

    • The US government can legally restrict goods coming in from Cuba, but the American people are not theirs to command. There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit us from visiting Cuba and spending money there.

      -jcr

      On issues that the constitution is silent, the feds can do what they want.

      Also, trade treaties are reserved to the feds under the constitution.

      The real choice for years has been to visit canada, open a bank account, and get a canadian credit card. Canada has been flying tourists to cuba for years, and canadian credit cards work there, even when their american equivalent doesn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02, 2015 @11:34AM (#49392123)

        On issues that the constitution is silent, the feds can do what they want.

        No, that's actually the exact opposite of how it's supposed to work. Powers not specifically enumerated by the constitution are reserved to the people and states. The misconception you have is exactly why there was such debate when the Bill of Rights was originally proposed...

        • No, that's actually the exact opposite of how it's supposed to work.

          Didn't FTFY, just highlighted the key phrase. The government is supposed to follow the Constitution, they simply don't.

      • There are also companies who specialize in getting Americans into Cuba which can be used, though with modern air-travel information sharing and the necessity to fly over US airspace you might get noticed (they have to give the passenger manifest to the Americans).

        A bunch of years ago my cousin was on a resort with what was obviously an American pretending to be Canadian -- he kept saying he was from the "State of Alberta", thereby marking himself as decidedly NOT a Canadian.

        Honestly though, Cuba has grown t

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        On issues that the constitution is silent, the feds can do what they want.

        Not legally. Go read the tenth amendment.

        -jcr

    • by mi ( 197448 )

      American people are not theirs to command

      And yet, you aren't free to, for example, join a foreign military to fight Americans. Doing so — despite all the liberties Founding Fathers acknowledged you have — would still make you a traitor in their eyes.

      Banning you from spending any money in Cuba — an enemy of the US [theblaze.com] — seems to be of the same sort of limitation as that.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        Not even close. The constitution defines treason as making war against the United States. Going and spending your money in Cuba isn't an act of war.

        -jcr

        • by mi ( 197448 )

          Not even close.

          Of course it is close.

          The constitution defines treason as making war against the United States.

          You seem to imply, one can only become a traitor by shooting at American personnel, but that's not true. The term "making war" is subject to interpretation (not unlike the term "reasonable").

          How about passing secrets to the enemies — or spreading their propaganda [fbi.gov]? Yes.

          And, for another example, does giving somebody money — which they'll use to buy arms or train soldiers to fight the Un

          • by jcr ( 53032 )

            But it can be "close"

            Wishing doesn't make it so, boot-licker.

            it is not "usurpation" for the government to seek to limit it.

            Whenever government assumes a power not delegated to it by the constitution, it is usurpation.

            -jcr

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      It also seems weirdly inconsistent. It's legal for Americans to travel to all kinds of countries with authoritarian governments: Uzbekistan, Belarus, Egypt, even North Korea ffs. But traveling to Cuba is illegal for some reason.

      • It also seems weirdly inconsistent. It's legal for Americans to travel to all kinds of countries with authoritarian governments: Uzbekistan, Belarus, Egypt, even North Korea ffs. But traveling to Cuba is illegal for some reason.

        How many large swing states have a big population of single-issue Uzbek-American voters?

      • But traveling to Cuba is illegal for some reason.

        There are three perfectly good reasons.

        1) Because a bunch of old corrupt Batista cronies down in Miami want their slave plantations back.
        2) Because JFK wanted to show how much he hated commies
        3) Because the CIA is still butthurt over Castro showing them up for decades.

    • but the American people are not theirs to command

      no constitutional authority for the federal government to prohibit us from visiting Cuba

      All these islands are yours except Cuba. Attempt no landings there.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday April 02, 2015 @11:11AM (#49392013) Homepage

    All you have to do is walk into any police station and say, "I am an american and Castro is the devil"

    Instant free room!

  • Not new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02, 2015 @11:38AM (#49392165)

    This has been possible for a while- the rooms were just listed under "Key Largo, Florida" on Airbnbs website. Then, when you read the details, it became clear that this was actually a room in Cuba.

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday April 02, 2015 @11:46AM (#49392215) Homepage Journal

    If history is any guide, the lodgings for such tourists will be available with young willing women [havanajournal.com] and conveniently pre-bugged [grandhotelbohemia.cz] for you. According to FBI, Cuban intelligence actively recruits Americans [fbi.gov] with methods including blackmail...

    If you dance with the devil, then you haven't got a clue...

    Cue-in the knuckle-dragging simpletons sincerely equating Castro (Peace be Upon Him) with Bush (spit) or Lavrenty Beria with Joe McCarthy, to tell us, how the US is "worse" than a regime headed by the same Dear Leader for 50 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    you make it sound like its a bad thing...

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday April 02, 2015 @12:12PM (#49392385) Homepage
    As trade restrictions crumble its worth reiterating why cuba has been a sticking point in american foreign policy for so long. During our proxy war with Russia, most of the south and central american countries that endorsed socialism and communism were quite easy to crush. First we'd enlist the CIA to foster a coup by backing violent militias with arms and capital in return for targeting specific parts of government infrastructure like police departments and hospitals. Then once our ringer was in, we would establish NGO's (non government organizations) to divide and conquer society into rich, poor, and inbetween. the wealth of the nation, generally petrochemical, fruit, or limited manufacturing, would then be syphoned overseas to the United States under the guise of free market principal and democracy.

    Cuba saw this coming from a mile away; give castro credit for that at least. He formed an alliance with Russias communist politburo and a symbiotic relationship was borne from mutual interest. Russia ensured the us wouldnt dare invade their member state, and in turn Cuba provided a close-range base for advanced russian ballistics. Taking a step back, Russia was pressured into the relationship when we planted missiles in Turkey, and before that a whole slew of brinksmanship "dick moves" that nearly blew us apart. At this point the US was furious at the deal, and knew ballistic non-nuclear missiles existed on the island but wanted proof. Rudolf Anderson was enlisted to fly a U2 over the island and, much to his surprise and Washingtons chagrin, Cuban commanders launched an S-75 Dvina missile that obliterated the plane in seconds. Defcon's were advanced, a US naval blockade of cuba began, and unbeknown to american politicians a 4 story tall akula class nuclear submarine slipped right past the fleet and into cuban waters. When people talk about how close we came to turning boca raton and washington into deserts, they are not kidding.

    anyhow washington and russia eventually stepped back from the void, but the egg on washingtons face was well remembered for 40 years. American policitians didnt want to sacrifice votes from cuban ex-pats in florida and america as well as slews of boomers that were dyed in the wool anticommunists, so the embargo persisted. Fast forward to 2015 when America has lost both the afghanistan war (Taliban members hold seat in kharzai's government) and the Iraq war (no weapons were ever found and ISIS was formed.) We've shut the government down twice, we cant come to terms with even simple things like gay people or healthcare, and we're pretty much flat broke. We've been relegated to third-party observer in so much of the foreign world, the embargo was bound to collapse at some point.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      a US naval blockade of cuba began, and unbeknown to american politicians a 4 story tall akula class nuclear submarine slipped right past the fleet and into cuban waters.

      Was it doing 88mph when it slipped the blockade? It would have to, to have traveled back in time 20+ years.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You forgot the part where Castro siezed $1.8 billion (in 1962 USD) of assets owned by US citizens (At one point in time after the Spanish American War, people wanted to make Cuba a state, but the sugar beet growers blocked that from happening ... so there was a lot of US involvement in Cuba before Castro was even born) Cuba also did a lot of the Soviet Union's dirty work in the various revolutions in Latin America and parts of Africa. In return, they were subsidized by the Soviets. However even with the
    • You missed the gangster angle and the strong entanglement between organized crime (eg. "Lucky" Luciano") plus a few legitimate US businesses in Cuba with US politics of the time. Some big political donors suffered when Castro took over and that meant a grudge that lasted far longer than the cold war.
      Say what you like about Castro, it's probably all true, but before his takeover Cuba was a corrupt cesspool that was making a lot of money for US organized crime, and that money was buying a lot of influence.

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