Cuban Hotel Workers Fear Discrimination in New Hiring Process
Florida Company and Turkish Management Accused of Racism and Homophobia
María Fernanda, a hotel worker for years at hotels in the northern keys of Villa Clara, fears discrimination in the wake of a new hiring process initiated by Gaviota SA – her sole employer – for her current workplace, the Turkish-managed Hotel Selectum Family Resort Cayo Santa María. The Cuban-American and Puerto Rican “bargaining” with the Turkish management, as reported by a Human Resources officer, has resulted in preferences for “no blacks, no fags, no dykes, no less than 1.65 tall, and all bilingual” candidates for new positions, casting doubt over the future of María’s gay son, Antonio de Jesús, who just finished a course in gastronomy.
The Rise of Hetero-Normative Turkish Associations
The Turkish chain ATG Hotels, owned by the tour operator Anex Tour, has established two Selectum Family Resorts in Cuba in recent months. It has been accused of racism, homophobia, and hetero-normative policies. Selectum’s general director for Cayo Santa María, Félix Mercedes Alcalá, has stated that the firm has most of its hotels in Antalya and Istanbul, and that they “all guarantee that the family and their emotional unity come first.” They have also entered into an agreement to partner with Russian airline Azur Air for the transportation of tourists.
The Mysterious Building of an Amphitheater and the Arrival of the Americans
There have been reports of brigades building an amphitheater in Selectum Family Resort Cayo Santa María, which was not in the original plan. The arrival of Cuban-American and Puerto Rican visitors, who prefer to deal in Yankee dollars, and the entry of material supplies from the United States via Mariel, have also been reported. The Cuban Government and its Ministry of Tourism have not commented on these reports, but there are rumors that the Americans will introduce prices that could triple current rates for the hotel’s 621 rooms.
The Workers and the LGBT Community Fear for Their Future
Hotel workers like María Fernanda fear that the discrimination at Selectum Family Resort Cayo Santa María will become widespread throughout the tourist industry in Cuba, and worry about the future of their children. Antonio de Jesús, María’s gay son, is one of the many members of Cuba’s LGBT community whose employment prospects have been threatened by Turkey’s hetero-normative policies and the involvement of Cuban-American and Puerto Rican partners. Despite these concerns, Juan Emerio Sánchez Freire, a gay, local historian and Party militant, reassures young students at the Caibarién School of Gastronomy that “no evil lasts a hundred years or a body that resists it.”