50 protesters Tuesday demanded that Carnival Cruise Line take a stand against, what they call, Cuba’s discriminatory policies that ban Cuban Americans born on the island from entering Cuban ports. Carnival Cruise Line owns Fathom Travel which is offering “people to people cruises” to Cuba beginning May 1st.
Miami Cubans now know that anyone born in Cuba (regardless of whether they are now a U.S. citizen), are prohibited from entering the island through a maritime port. Americans who were born on the Island cannot book a trip on the Fathom Travel ship. The Cuban Naval Command Center specifically states, “No Cuban is authorized to navigate in Cuba. The only exception are those married to citizens of another country, who must request a permit beforehand.”
Carnival Cruise Line CEO Arnold Donald says the company is requesting that Cuba change policy. Protesters cited the case of Norwegian Cruise line stopped traveling to Tunisia after port officials there banned Israelis from embarking.
Last month, the Cuban government gave Carnival the okay to begin sailing to the island, using their new Fathom Travel line but set down some boundaries – Cubans who are no longer citizens of the country will not be allowed to travel to the island via cruise ship. The cruise line is following the request of the Cuban government to not accept reservations from Cuban-born individuals.
The company defended their actions stating that they had to follow the laws of the countries they serve while also saying they would put pressure on Cuban leaders to reconsider.
Under the slogan “Carnival Stop Nationality Apartheid,” the Democracy Movement not only staged the Tuesday demonstration but is also organizing flotilla and seeking a Coast Guard permit to protest the ban by sea on May 1st when the Carnival vessel Adonia sets sail for Cuba. The organization has also planning protests in and around the Port of Miami when Fathom departs to Cuba.
In a related development a class action lawsuit has been filed against Carnival Corporation. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Amparo Sanchez and Francisco Marty, takes issue with Carnival and Fathom Travel for complying with the Cuban government’s law that spawned Tuesday’s protests in front of Carnival’s headquarters in Doral, Florida. Attorney Robert Rodriguez who represents the two plaintiffs said, “We believe what Carnival Cruise Lines is doing here is almost being compliant with the Cuban Government in terms of practicing discriminatory law, you can’t do this in the United States.”