VIP Rooms in Cuba

Daisy Valera

Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. Photo: Caridad

Not long ago I had to go to meet a friend at the airport, where I was astonished to discover the existence of a VIP lounge.

Until that moment, I had only had seen such facilities in the Hollywood movies on Saturday night TV or at the cinema.

Investigating into the matter, I found out that the expression began to be used between 1940 and 1945 to designate people who were famous, politically important or well-known business figures who required special attention or protection when attending public events.

A person who is considered “very important” in certain places, such as discos or airports, has access to reserved areas where they can enjoy greater privileges.

When discovering the meaning of these English initials, I asked myself:  What sense does the existence of these lounges in Cuba make if supposedly there aren’t people here who are so much more important than others that they merit special privileges?

Should government’s officials in my country receive special treatment?

History recounts how Fidel camped out in the middle of Central Park in New York and later went to a simple hotel in Harlem.

Should a revolutionary and socialist artist adopt the petty bourgeois customs that distinguish them from the rest of the workers?

I don’t even need to mention businesspeople, who are favored in exchange for the accumulation of capital that contradicts the principles of a socialist government.

It could seem exaggerated to get alarmed over this, but I believe that it’s not by chance that this is happening right now in Cuba and didn’t occur 20 years ago when the USSR was collapsing.

A 50-year-old revolution has not been able to put an end to the class differences in Cuba.

VIP rooms are no more than a demonstration of inequality and of the presence in Cuba of two populations easily distinguishable: the masses of workers and the privileged few.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

3 thoughts on “VIP Rooms in Cuba

  • January 28, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Yeah, I was surprised as well. While I was traveling in late December I was trying to charge my laptop somewhere (I know, I just lost the Cuban audience) and one of the airport employees suggested I try the VIP lounge after not being able to find ANY outlets in the international terminal of Jose Marti. So I hesitantly proceed there and just walk in. The lady behind the desk was chatting away with someone else, so I took the oportunity to enter (I was not about to pay, just wanted electricity). There were some odd looking cushioned seats, plenty of smoke, a fridge with complentary drinks, and a flat screen TV playing CNN International in english with Spanish subtitles. I charged my computer and left. My impression was that (aside from the complentary drinks) the rest of the airport should look like the VIP room. Cusioned chairs, electrical outlets, and some entertainment are not that too much to ask for…especially after that 25 CUC exit fee.

  • January 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I am aware of a VIP room at the small airport Eastern , Cuba. I have travelled thru this airport which I shall not name, a dozen times.
    The VIP room is offered discreetly and randomly to tourists for a cost of 20 New Pesos ($20 USD) It has airconditioning and a bar and more comfortable seats than in the departing section. I turned down an invitation, but my daughter and her friends accepted. I see it as a way thet they can make a little extra money and I say good for them! They need it! Why not make use of an air conditioned space and help out the economy. I’m sure a government official has never come thru the airport and if they did, I am sure it would be readily available to them. Think of it like an “upgrade” that is offered by most airlines.
    I do not want any one’s job jepardized with this information, so I wil not name the airport. A Canadian who loves Cuba

  • January 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I am one of those who once used the VIP lounge at Jose Marti airport. I was waiting with my family to return to Canada. We arrived early in the morning for a Cubana flight which had been changed to an evening flight. After some discussion with Cubana my Chilean partner managed to gain access to the VIP lounge. Being socialists, we felt uncomfortable about it for precisely the reasons outlined in this article. I am glad to see a Cuban commenting on this. It is a complex issue – Cuba engaging with a world full of unfair, unjust and unearned inequalities – foreigners expect these crazy things like a VIP lounge. But now many Cubans are starting to expect them as well – like popular artists, “business” people and government officials.

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