Castro Lifts Hotel Ban for Cubans

Keeping tourist digs off-limits blasted as 'economic apartheid'
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2008 3:03 PM CDT
A Cuban flag waves in front of the National Hotel in Havana, Monday, March 31, 2008.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
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(Newser) – Raul Castro has lifted a ban on Cubans staying at hotels designated for foreign tourists, Reuters reports. The prohibition, which had been criticized as "economic apartheid," had frustrated many Cubans since the country was opened up to tourism in 1990. "Cubans can now stay at our hotels," one hotel manager said. "Our doors are open to local tourism."

Castro, who took over from elder brother in Fidel in February, has promised to get rid of "excessive restrictions" on society. It will still be extremely difficult for most Cubans—whose average monthly wage is $17—to stay at the hotels, which accept only hard currency. "It took a long time, but it's done now. I'm going to start saving right away," says one worker. (Read more Raul Castro stories.)