Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cuba is Revolting

Cuba is Revolting

Yes Cuba is revolting – now in more ways than imaginable. No - mobs are not yet running wild in the streets looking for anyone connected to the regime to string-up. But the word on the street is spreading like wildfire. Cubans now realize that tourism does not bring them any direct benefit. Instead they see only a foreigner occupying their land doing things that regular Cubans were allowed to do before Castro. They see the fat foreigners waddling around as if they own the place. But now the Cuban people have a target to attack that will effectively starve the regime of foreign currency and at the same time give the people on the street a way to vent their anger. Here are just a few of the ways Cubans are revolting:

1. Defecating in tourists’ food

2. Urinating in tourists’ drinks

3. Spitting in tourists’ food and drink

4. Providing tourists with unsanitary plates, glasses and utensils

5. Using unsanitary medical devices for medical procedures (the Fidel treatment)

6. Allowing vermin access to food meant for tourists

7. Grinding up flies and other insects to put in tourists’ food.

8. Heavily spicing spoiled meat and fish to mask the foul taste

9. Repeatedly using the same unwashed bed linen for new arriving tourists

10. Purposely infecting tourists with sexually transmitted diseases

Islanders have additional ways to sabotage the tourist industry but we’ll keep quiet about these more obscure methods so they will be more effective. As more and more tourists return from Cuba sick and in a few unfortunate cases – dead – other more civilized destinations will look much more attractive. Plus, the Cuban exile population stands ready at any time to offer expert testimony in open Court to any and all victims of these unscrupulous tour operators like Thomas Cook. We can truthfully assert that Thomas Cook was aware of the dangers that they were exposing their customers to and still recklessly and wantonly sent them to Cuba anyway. Thomas Cook will have no place to hide in open Court and will be liable for damages in the millions. Add to these losses, the damages that Thomas Cook will be required to pay for past complicity in the Cuban slave trade and the loss of tourist revenue until that damage is paid and this is just not sound corporate policy. Stockholders of shares of Thomas Cook would do wise to reconsider Manny Fontenla-Novoa’s stewardship of their investment dollars.

Tomás Estrada-Palma

Friday, February 23, 2007

Call Me

Call Me

I see Thomas Cook keeps coming back to read this blog. You should contact me personally. You should have no fear to do this. However, you should fear continuing to do business with Castro. The civil war has begun and we intend on advising the Cuban people to continue to spike tourists' food and drink until no one in their right mind would travel to Cuba no matter how good the travel package. Since you have been put on notice that the Cuban people will revolt against your customers for forcing them to work for 50 cents per day, you will be liable for damages.

Your corporation has done a very bad thing but I am a believer in redemption. Let me show you how you can turn a very bad situation for your corporation into a positive one. Corporate credibility, accountability and good public relations are the life's blood of a service such as yours. You do not realize it yet but we know these are the last days of a dying regime. Do you intend on taking your corporation down along with Fidel, Raul and the other tyrants? My email address is and you should contact me as soon as possible. We can do this very discreetly so it appears that you just want to do the right thing now and are not simply bowing to pressure. Think how it will look if you are the first corporation to pull out of Cuba right now. Think how it will look if you are still there when we kick the tyrants from power. There are many things going on in Cuba right now that you are not privy to so you might want to get all the facts before proceeding any further. But please, for the sake of your customer's health and well being - do not book even one more trip to Cuba. In a civil war people die. Wouldn't it be better to forgo a bit of profit right now in lieu of tremendous profits operating in a legitimate way in the very near future? It is your call - I'm waiting on the other end of the line for you to do the right thing. If you help us we will help you. But if you continue to help the Castro boys enslave the Cuban people your corporation will soon not be worth dirt. Every day that you delay doing the right thing your bill escalates.

Tomás Estrada-Palma

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thomas Cook Served

Thomas Cook Served

Mr. Fontenla-Novoa, you and your company Thomas Cook are now officially notified about the situation in Cuba with respect to tourism apartheid and also that regular Cubans are now finally retaliating against their oppressors by contaminating the food and drink of tourists as well as other acts of vengeance. I can legally document this fact because this blog employs site tracking software that recorded the hits from your corporation in Bradford, England the past several days.

Therefore we are officially putting you on notice because as you are reading this we are recording your visit. We are contacting our people in Cuba and asking them to spread the word. Continue to contaminate food and drink as well as other acts of sabotage against the Castro boys’ tourism industry. Our people were able to infect Castro during his operation so this operation against the tourists will be far easier. Next, as your sickened, bedraggle tourist customers come crawling back home we will contact them to give them our site tracking evidence to clearly show that your corporation knowingly and willfully sent its customers into a civil war zone to be targeted solely for the purpose of profit. This alone will cost your corporations millions.

Finally, your corporation’s behavior has already been an abomination against the Cuban people. You have already racked up millions of dollars in damage against the Cuban people for the unpaid slave labor. Everyday you continue to do business in Cuba the damages will escalate. Cease and desist now then contact us to discuss reparations to Cuba when the Castro boys are driven from power by the people. Once again let me reiterate that when this happens your business will not be welcomed in Cuba until all outstanding debts to the Cuban people have been settled.

Good day to you sir.

ás Estrada-Palma

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

To Manny Fontenla-Novoa

(An open letter to Manny Fontenla-Novoa,

head of Thomas Cook Travel.)

Good morning Mr. Fontenia-Novoa:

I would email this to you directly but unfortunately Thomas Cook does not use email as of this date. Be that as it may, permit me to introduce myself. I am Tomás Estrada-Palma, a Cuban American exile, the great grandson of the first elected president of Cuba and one of the spokesmen for the enslaved population of Cuba who will be brutalized or killed if they speak for themselves.

Mr. Fontenla-Novoa I ask you to cease booking any and all travel to Cuba. It is not a sound destination for your clients as you may now realize. If not look what happened to this poor family:

But I also can promise you this – if you continue to book any future trips to Cuba I will do everything in my power, along with thousand of my freedom loving brethren to see that none of your corporations can ever legally do business in Cuba once we kick the pirates out of power who currently enslave our people. The reason you can make tremendous profits while charging low rates to Cuba is because the average Cuban earns $15 per month. They must do without so you can profit. They seethe with anger at not being allowed to go to their own beaches while YOUR customers soak up the sun and sip drinks. These 11 million slaves will also be our allies in kicking Thomas Cook off the Island the second they become free. When you look at the big picture it is just not worth it to do business in Cuba right now. We will never forget.

I understand that you have contractual obligations with current travelers. However, we will work with you if you help our cause for freedom and cease any and all future bookings to Cuba. If you do this I will do everything I can on your behalf to mitigate the anger of the Cuban population towards Thomas Cook. Again, please do not underestimate the anger Cubans on both sides of the Straits of Florida feel about this tourist apartheid setup. Do you sir think it will last forever? This is just plain bad stewardship of your corporation and in the very near future should you be blocked from earning millions of dollars in Cuba morally, I will go out of my way to point this out to your shareholders.


Tomás Estrada-Palma

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cousin Andrew's Travels

(My cousin Andrew is now one of the patriarchs of the Estrada-Palma clan and a world traveler. But more importantly he is currently living in a formerly repressive communist dictatorship even worse than Cuba in many ways. Perhaps this is Cuba's future?)

Cousin Andrew's Travels

Hola Primo,

I’m settled in now in Cluj-Napoka, capital of Transylvania, on this Fulbright lecturing grant. My company gave me a five-month leave of absence to accept the award, as well as a very nice check so that I’ll be loyal and come back to Saudi Arabia in July. Of course, the whole Middle East may be in flames by then, but we’ll wait and see. So far I like it here.

The English novelist who wrote the Dracula novel got all his information wrong. Vladimir the Impaler was from Bucharest, not Transylvania, for starters. The Romanian word for devil was dracul, and dragu the word for dragon. As a young crown prince, Vladimir studied abroad and came back with a dragon crest, a gift of some prince, and after the bastard started impaling people the names got mixed up. Then Bram Stoker wrote his novel.

Bucharest used to be known as “little Paris,” because of all the French inspired fin de siecle parks and architecture. It reminds me of a small French city in some ways. Ceausescu demolished some fine old buildings in the southern part of the city to make room for his Stalinist government buildings and residences for his apparatchiks, creating a kind of forbidden city for himself and his cronies, but most of the rest of the city was left alone. There are still cobblestone streets in some parts of town, and the city is surprisingly clean, hardly any litter anywhere, perhaps because there are still plenty of people in low-paying jobs left over from socialist times to pick the stuff up.

I’m starting to catch on to the language pretty well already. Coming into the city from the airport I could read a lot of what was on the billboards, and listening to the radio many of the words and even some phrases were recognizable. I speak some Italian, and the Romanian language is like Italian with a jigger of French thrown in, as well as a shot of Slavic. (Da means yes, for example, like in Russian.) When spoken, Romanian sounds like Italian with a Slavic accent, and I’ve begun picking up some phrases, mostly the courtesies which it’s always a good idea to learn first, and if I keep at it I hope to be fairly comfortable in the language in two or three months.

I spent the first day in Bucharest resting up from the flight (which left Jeddah at 3:30 AM) then paid a visit to the Fulbright Commission office in the afternoon, followed by a courtesy call to the cultural affairs office at the US consulate. The folks at the consulate, as it turns out, want me to travel all over the country as a guest lecturer, to symposiums and conferences and “American corners” at various libraries,. Many if not most Fulbrighters can be fairly dry, academic types, so when they’ve got an incorrigible extrovert like me they apparently want to send him around to fly the Fulbright flag, all of which suits me fine, especially as they’ll pay my travel expenses. In my travels, I also expect to speak with a certain quiet pride, shall we say? about Raytheon as well. On my second day in the country I walked around the city and went to a couple of museums, which were full of paintings by Romanian artists who painted in the style of the French impressionists.

I did some shopping to get some electrical adaptors and a Romanian SIM card for my cell phone, and to compare prices of things. Sad to say, Europe is already here in terms of prices. I wondered how Romanians could afford to pay such prices, and the answer, I’ve since learned, is that they can’t until they’ve saved up for a long, long time. The Romanians don’t produce stylish clothes or modern conveniences yet, so that stuff is imported and expensive. Things that they use in their simple, daily lives can be bought cheaply at the open air markets but it takes a westerner some time to get used to buying a kilo of carrots still covered with dirt, for example. The Romanian people have a Mediterranean look about them, with perhaps a bit of Slav and a touch of Turk thrown into the mix. They regard themselves as a Latin island in a Slavic sea, and so far I’ve found them to be extremely friendly and upbeat. They stop to offer to help when they see me looking at my map, and a surprising number speak English, especially among the young folks. They seem to feel like they’ve just rejoined Europe and are full of hope for the future. I think that joining the EU will work out better for them than perestroika has for my poor, sad Russkie friends.

At the little hotel where I stayed I heard businessmen speaking English together in various accents, with tones of anticipation about making money, and it didn’t sound like hushed, gold rush talk, but more like development talk. The French especially seem to be around, speaking English with French accents. At the end of orientation week in Bucharest we were given a reception at the charge’ d’affairs home, which the ambassador also attended later on in the evening after he left another big reception for Bill Gates, who was in town. Apparently Romania is a world capital for cyber crime, and Mr. Gates was here to help the local dweebs go legit with real IT industries!

We capped off the orientation week with an excursion to the castles that once belonged to the monarchy, up in the Eastern Carpathian mountains. The last king was forced to abdicate in 1946 by the communists and went off to live in Switzerland. He’s 85 now and back in town, and he wants his property back. They’ll probably give him money instead, but all that’s pending. The area was full of ski lodges whose sad owners, like their counterparts in the Alps, are wondering if they can recover from a winter without snow. In the mountain towns there are stately mansions co-existing with ramshackle shacks, and that’s also what I saw crossing the country by train to Cluj, which is at the foothills of the western Carpathians, where I am now. Pretty country, though, just waiting to be bought up by fat Germans.

My Fulbright duties don’t begin for another week, so I’ve had plenty of time to settle in and take care of little details, like registering with the police, etc. The woman who is the coordinator at the international office has been wonderful. She met me at the train station at 9:00 PM the night I arrived, along with my new landlady, to bring me to the apartment the Fulbright commission is providing me. Nice little place. I’ve now met with the chair of the Theatre department and seen a performance by the 3rd year drama students, scenes from Chekov and Ibsen. (Luckily I knew the plays and could follow the action.) I’ve just given two seminars on American film to a mixed group of EU kids spending a year in Romania as exchange students, and I’ll meet with them again next week to give a seminar/workshop on screenplay writing. Later I’m scheduled to meet with the English department chair and with the dean for international affairs. One of my projects is to give weekly workshops for high school English teachers on using drama in the classroom as a method of getting the students to speak the language rather than just pass grammar tests. I did some of that in Jeddah at the Air Defense Academy, and the results were very well received. One of the generals came to some skits my class performed and was very generous in his remarks afterwards. Another duty will be as a guest lecturer in existing classes, to lecture on modern American drama and film. I also hope to direct a play this Spring. I’ve also just been invited by the US consulate in Hungary to advise a mixed group of Romanian and Serbian middle schoolers on writing and acting in skits that deal with tolerance, if I can get time to make the trip. Next month I’m invited to do a seminar at the University of Sibiu, which along with Luxemburg is the EU co-capital of culture this year. In May I’ve been invited to present a paper at an American studies conference in Timasoara, which is on the other side of the mountains near the Hungarian border. Busy, but exhilarating.

Well, I’ve gone on long enough. I’m due back in Jeddah July 1, and probably won’t be back in the US until late September, during Ramadan time when I have to take a holiday or lose the days. Enough! Enough! I appreciate news about your family - it's more than I get from my own! Love to all from uncle Andrew, maybe a little especially for my namesake. (my youngest Andres)

Best ,