How much a dollar costs

It’s been interesting coming to a country to observe and be observed. We’ve discussed at length the role of the tourist and the ethical dilemmas that may arise as a tourist; what are role here is. I’ve mulled over it in my own mind and I think that tourism is sadly a large sector of the economy for most Caribbean countries. Especially, in Cuba where natural resources are scarce and other industries are lacking, the area that brings in the most money is tourism. On the one hand, tourists like ourselves help the economy, but I wonder at what cost. This isn’t a problem that is exclusive to Cuba, the Dominican Republic also relies heavily on tourism to fuel their economy; I’ve seen the damage that can do. A lot of resources are allocated to rich tourists and whenever I sit down to a meal I recognize that the food I’m consuming has been set aside for my consumption. This makes me feel uneasy, but on the other hand, my being here is contributing to people’s income. In Cuba, the average person earns around 25 CUC (where 1CUC= 1USD). For my Cuban Cinema class I wrote a paper discussing the irony of the Cuban state and its role in commodifying it’s citizens for tourism. One film we watched that dealt with this theme was called La bella del Alhambra (1989). The film was focused on a mulata Cuban woman who slept with the theatre director to become a star. The film is itself an allegory for the Cuban state and its acceptance of foreign capital. On the one hand, you have a top-down approach by the government trying to control its populace and on the other, you have the population living their reality and reversing the states’ control in a way to gain some autonomy of their own. In practice this game between the state and its people shows up in different ways, especially with jineteros, which are people who serve as informal guides for tourists. Jineteros have become sort of synonymous with prostitutes, but they aren’t always sex workers.