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As Carnival spins on discrimination against Cuban-Americans, Norwegian’s example shines

As Carnival spins on discrimination against Cuban-Americans, Norwegian’s
example shines

The international cruise-ship industry rejects discriminatory practices
Norwegian Cruise Line canceled Tunisian ports of call, stood with
Israeli passengers
Under Cuban-American ban, not even the CEO of Norwegian can sail to Cuba

BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@miamiherald.com

No matter how Carnival Corporation is spinning the Cuba cruise issue to
justify discriminating against Cuban-Americans — Cuba is doing the
banning, not us! — they’re in the position of being the enforcers.

It’s not like Cuba is holding a gun to the head of billionaire Carnival
and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, who should know better than to
acquiesce to prejudice against fellow Americans.

The Cuban government is, however, dangling before them a potentially
profitable venture. If Carnival complies with an old repressive Cuban
law that discriminates against a class of the traveling public —
Cuban-born Americans — they can sail to Cuban ports.

“Of course, it is our policy to obey the regulations and laws of the
countries we sail to around the world,” Arison said in a statement
Monday, explaining why the world’s largest cruise line is going ahead
with a May 1 debut sail and no-Cubans-allowed bookings into the rest of
the year.

But there’s no “of course” when it comes to discriminating based on
country of origin — only choices. When faced with the same issue, one of
Carnival’s competitors took the opposite course.

Two years ago, after the Tunisian government refused to allow a dozen
Israeli passengers to disembark from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship in La
Goulette, the company canceled all of the remaining ports of call in
response and ceased doing business with Tunisia.

Norwegian chose ethical business behavior.

Both Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Miami-based Royal Caribbean
Cruises have applied to cruise to Cuba. Will they too succumb to Cuba’s
ban, or stand up on behalf of Cuban-American passengers?

“As Norwegian hasn’t yet received approval to sail to Cuba, it would be
premature to comment on any hypothetical scenarios,” NCL spokeswoman
Victoria Picariello told me Tuesday.

A trade group that represents 62 cruise lines was so concerned about the
discriminatory practice of banning Cuban-American passengers from the
Cuba cruises that its officials raised the issue with the White House
and issued this statement: “Cruise Lines International Association
supports the right of people to where they choose, free of
discrimination.” The State Department responded that it’s aware and
working with Cuban officials to address the unfairness, as Carnival says
it is also doing.

Carnival — and particularly Arison — can’t claim ignorance of how
Cuban-Americans would feel about a cruise that excludes them.

When the NBA announced a basketball exchange with Cuba last year, guess
who was miffed that they weren’t told about a situation that could
potentially upset their fans? Yep, Miami Heat managers. But nothing like
getting a historic cruising contract to bring on board a cruise line chief.

Faced with tremendous backlash, Arison says Carnival “understands and
empathizes with the concerns.” The company has “requested a
reconsideration of this particular regulation especially as it relates
to cruise travelers.”

Gobbledygook.

He’s not backing down from cruising to Cuba on May 1 under
discriminatory conditions.

But here’s something for Arison and the other cruise lines to ponder:
Under the Cuba rule, even the CEO of Norwegian is banned.

He’s Cuban-born Frank J. Del Rio, a Coral Gables executive whose
take-home pay last year was $31,910,348. He can afford the best cruising
cabin in the world. His U.S.-born relatives can cruise to Cuba. But he
can’t — he’s Cuban-American.

In this country that’s called, plain and simple, discrimination.

If it’s not okay to discriminate against other groups of people, it
shouldn’t be acceptable to bow our heads and enact discriminatory
practices when the aggrieved are Cuban-Americans.

No matter how you spin the deed, it’s shameful.

Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

Source: As Carnival spins on discrimination against Cuban-Americans,
Norwegian’s example shines | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article71439402.html

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