Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Senator in a cage

Honorable Sen. Lion
During Yoani Sánchez's U.S. visit, scholar Ted Henken reminded her that Sen. Marco Rubio has criticized American tourists who "visit Cuba as if it were a zoo."
Sánchez later told Rubio:
...she actually liked his metaphor but that he should imagine himself inside the cage with the other animals. Wouldn't he prefer that someone on the outside come and help unlock the cage, instead of abandoning him inside?


Moses said...

Ten years ago, I went on a photo safari during a vacation in South Africa. We were driven through a private game preserve in what is best described as a roofless open-air bus. Most of us had long lens cameras and big straw hats. For most of us, it was the first time we were face to face with giraffes, lions and gazelles who were not enclosed behind high walls or fences. One day a few years ago when I was living in Cuba I was meeting Cuban friends in the cafe in font of the Hotel Colina in Havana. One of the large blue double-decker tour buses in Havana which picks up at the Hotel Colina stopped in front to accept tourists. On the top deck there was an elderly couple in large straw hats who, for whatever reason, seemed to be focusing their lens on me as I sat with my friends. In that moment, I felt like that giraffe must have felt years before when I targeted him in my lens for a photo. As objectionable as Sen. Rubio's analogy is, I believe it accurately depicts the mentality of most tourists who visit the island. Castros' Cuba is a less a museum and more like a zoo than most of us would like to admit.

Tracey Eaton said...

The zoo analogy is especially powerful when applied to authoritarian nations - and I don't disagree with Rubio on his point. Where many people diverge is on how to unlock the cage, and I think Yoani Sánchez underscored that point.
As for tourists visiting Cuba, well, some people treat local residents as zoo creatures everywhere they go, not just Cuba. And that's unfortunate.