July 11 crackdown prompts controversy among investors

Used to taking risks: Lubbers was the main actor in a stunt-filled annual report video of Cuba Travel Network in 2015. Still shot: CTN

By Vito Echevarría

Since 1995, when Cuba enacted its first foreign investment law, the country attracted global businesses among others thanks to its long-standing reputation for political stability.

This perception may have changed on July 11, 2021, as a wave of protests hit the streets of cities throughout the country. For one, the unprecedented, massive public expression of discontent and the heavy-handed government response prompted an open letter by Dutchman Eddie Lubbers, a longtime investor and cheerleader for Cuba’s booming tourism industry, and that in turn triggered a lively debate among foreign businesspeople.

Lubbers’ open letter to Cuba’s tourism minister calls for an end to what he says are arbitrary arrests and detentions carried out by the Cuban police and special forces against the July 11 protesters, and for an expansion of freedom of expression and unrestricted access to the Internet. Along with Lubbers, the open letter was signed by executives with Cuba-centric tourism companies, including Netherlands-based Cuba Travel Network and Okori Digital, Germany-based AerTicket GmbH, UK-based Misfit, and United States-based Cuba Cultural Travel and Thruads. 

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