Zika has been in the news for the last several months. A new outbreak of 5 cases in Miami Beach this week has caused many new concerns. The CDC in Atlanta has recommended that pregnant women not travel to Miami Beach (which has a yearly tourist economy estimated at $24 BILLION). Even so, the odds of contracting the virus while visiting Florida are very low.
Everything in life involves risk, including the act of traveling to cities and countries where Zika has been found. It helps to keep things in perspective. Although Zika is currently in the news, you have to consider the risks of travel, and the odds of being adversely affected by other things such as crime, gastro-intestinal illnesses, etc.
So—should you consider canceling your trip to Cuba because of Zika fears? Let’s look at the numbers: As of a week ago, Cuba (with a population of about 11 million) has confirmed exactly 3 people who were infected by local mosquitoes. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico (with a third of the population) recorded over 8700 confirmed similar cases during the same period. (Oh–by the way–last month the U.S. Senate failed to pass a Zika funding bill before leaving for a 7-week vacation. Republicans and Democrats are both at fault, but for different reasons.)
These numbers speak for themselves. What’s the difference? Cuba had rapid-resonse teams on stand-by to tackle such problems, and military units were mobilized. Puerto Rico will have to wait for the U.S. Senate to reconvene after a seven-week vacation to eventually vote to fund the War against Zika. Now that Zika cases in the Miami area are rapidly increasing, perhaps something will be done.
My biggest immediate concern is for the people of Louisiana. Thousands of square miles have flooded. As the water slowly recedes, millions of new ponds and puddles will be created, in the suburbs and in remote areas. These will provide perfect breeding areas for Zika-carrying mosquitoes. There is a strong possibility for further wide-spread disaster, in addition to the massive flooding. Thank you, Senators—we hope you enjoyed your vacations.
For more information about how Cuba fought the Zika virus, click on the Scientific American article link below:
For those of you not closely following events in Cuba and the discussions between our governments, please read an article published in today’s Miami Herald (link below)–“U.S. Air Marshals will be aboard Cuba Flights.” The headline may sound a bit confusing or even scary, but relax. Before you read this article, please consider that for decades, American Airlines has been flying its aircraft to Cuba WITHOUT air marshals. Last year, there were 1,200 charter flights that used AA planes. Aircraft had crews who worked for American Airlines and were citizens of the United State. The aircraft were serviced and maintained by American Airlines. Passengers had to go through standard TSA security leaving Miami International Airport. After arriving in Cuba (usually in Havana), they had to go through routine screening by Cuban Customs. In conclusion, air marshals were never used on U.S.-Cuba flights, and, logically, they aren’t needed now.
And yet, over the past few months, both governments have apparently spent an incredible amount of time, money, and resources negotiating the details of providing air marshals who clearly aren’t needed anyway–this has been verified by decades of uneventful flights without air marshals. (As with so many other arguments against Normalization, the anti-Cuba proponents, who have never been to Cuba, frequently use events from the 1960’s and 70’s to try to explain events in the Cuba of 2016.)
This is only a single glimpse into the absurd and irrational world of relationships and interactions between our two governments. Multiply this situation by a thousand, and you will begin to understand how crazy and complicated things are between our countries. So why are air marshals suddenly so necessary? Not for security reasons. Let’s get real. Follow the money. Perhaps this is an example of Bureaucracy Survival & Expansion; perhaps union officials are paying off heads of various agencies. Maybe those involved are just not informed or smart enough to realize there have been tens of thousands of similar flights over the past few decades on American Airlines and other aircraft without air marshals. Perhaps Cuban officials wanted to stretch out the negotiations, so that they could participate in more meetings in the U.S. while staying in nice hotels and going shopping. There are many possibilities why air marshals are now being added, but security is clearly not one of them. Of course the cost will be added to our ticket prices.
With this in mind, enjoy reading today’s short article by clicking the link below: