From a 3.12 Guardian piece about changing Cuba, by Ed Vulliamy: “For years, visitors to Cuba have been the curious, the adventurous and politically sympathetic; photographers enthralled by the peeling colonial slums, vintage cars and sensuous beauty of the people and their country.
“But for many it might as well be the Bahamas or Costa Blanca — as holidaymakers’ fear of terrorist activity in North Africa encourages them to try the mojitos and cigars of Cuba instead. Central Havana now heaves with cargo-shorts, logo T-shirts and a photo opportunity on every corner.
“Its famously crumbling architecture is slowly but surely undergoing a wash-n-brush-up; a lovely old marketplace adjacent to the Parque Central is closed and wrapped in scaffolding, to make way for yet another luxury hotel providing berths for a new mass tourism, which is still, for the most part, billeted in licensed ‘casas particulares’ — private houses accountable to the state, allowed to take in guests.
“’Every time I return, something else I know has changed,’ says María Jimena Duzán, a Colombian writer who has been visiting Havana for decades. ‘The Americans are here, and that changes everything. One of my favourite places, the lovely old Plaza Vieja, just isn’t the same place, totally transformed.’ Starbucks and Subway on the Parque Central? ‘Oh don’t, please,’ she winces, ‘but indeed, this is just the start of what we’re looking at for Cuba.’