Cuba’s 12 Most Absurd Prohibitions That Tourists May Never Notice

Located in the northern Caribbean sea, Cuba is a tropical island destination that has plenty to offer.

However, visiting hasn’t always been the easiest for tourists.

While things continue to change, making it a lot easier for tourists to visit, there are prohibitions that make life extremely difficult for Cubans.

Cuba’s 12 Most Absurd Prohibitions That Tourists May Never Notice

The prohibitions in place in Cuba are downright absurd, making everyone’s lives unnecessarily difficult and awkward.

In today’s post, we want to share with you some of the most absurd prohibitions the Cuban people have to suffer.

In this post, you’ll find 12 of the most absurd prohibitions that tourists might never notice.

Before we start our list, it’s worth noting that Cuba’s socialist government applies most of these prohibitions directly to Cuban citizens and not foreign tourists visiting or living on the island.

Let’s get started!

Cuban Citizens Are Banned From Accessing The Internet On Their Phone Or At Home

We’ll start with a ridiculous prohibition that prevents Cuban citizens from using the internet in their homes or via a smartphone.

The main telecommunications company in Cuba is ETECSA.

According to their policies, internet service in the home isn’t allowed for Cuban citizens.

This is unique to the state and foreign businesses.

Internet access services are offered to foreigners and companies with permanent or temporary residences in Cuba.

Cuban Citizens Can’t Give Strangers A Ride In A Private Car

Bizarrely, police can fine and even seize a vehicle if a Cuban citizen is found to be giving a stranger a lift without a taxi license.

While there is no explicit law against doing so, the local authorities assume that an alien in a Cuban citizen’s vehicle is synonymous with illegal activity.

While this doesn’t cause too many problems for people living in Cuba, it is a ridiculous prohibition that seems frankly unnecessary.

No Sailing On Tourist Boats

There aren’t any specific laws that forbid Cubans to sail on a tourist boat, but that hasn’t stopped local authorities from applying the restriction for many years.

No matter where in Cuba an individual may live, a tourist sailing package that includes the use of a yacht or catamaran cannot be sold to a local citizen.

This is because the enjoyment of sailing is run exclusively for the enjoyment of tourists.

Cubans caught taking part in this activity could face punishments in the form of a fine.

We don’t know about you, but that sounds absurd.

No Access To Cable TV

The only company that supplies cable TV in Cuba is Telecable. However, the services this firm offers are exclusive to tourists.

Predominantly installed in hotels, foreign companies, diplomats, and tourists are the only people allowed to access cable TV in Cuba.

International channels include Discovery, ESPN, HBO, and CNN.

When it comes to the Cuban population, nobody is allowed to access this service.

Simply for being Cuban, Cubans are only allowed to watch state-owned TV channels.

Cubans Can’t Live In Havana Without A Permit

Imagine living in Los Angeles and being told you’re legally not allowed to move to Washington D.C.

We know, sounds absolutely insane, doesn’t it?

Well, unfortunately, this is the stark reality in Cuba as no Cuban citizen is allowed to live in Havana unless they have a permit.

The Decree-Law 217-1997 dictates that people from other provinces of Cuba cannot live in the capital without a “transitory” document.

This document must be authorized by the Ministry of the Interior.

This actually violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which gives everyone freedom of movement.

Cubans Can’t Invite A Foreigner To Spend The Night Without A Permit

It doesn’t matter whether the homeowner knows the individual or not, without a permit, a Cuban can’t invite a foreigner to spend the night in their home.

If the homeowner is caught letting a foreigner spend the night without a permit, they could face a serious fine.

Before letting a foreigner spend the night, the homeowner must seek authorization from migratory authorities.

Selling Shrimps And Lobster Is Prohibited

Selling Shrimps And Lobster Is Prohibited

The next ridiculous Cuban prohibition centers around the selling of lobster and shrimp.

Unbelievably, freely selling lobster and shrimp anywhere in Cuba is against the law.

That is of course unless you are a foreigner. The state is the only other group of people allowed to sell lobster or shrimp.

This is another absurd prohibition that affects the people of Cuba and nobody else.

Bringing Artificial Fingernails Into Cuba Violates The Law

Cuba has extremely strict customs laws that affect what people can and can’t bring into the country.

While most of the customs laws in Cuba are pretty reasonable, some are absolutely bonkers.

One of the most bizarre is the import laws regarding artificial fingernails.

By law, Customs Resolution 206 limits the number of artificial fingernails someone can bring into the country to 24 units.

Criticizing Rulers

Even the freedom of speech is somewhat limited in Cuba.

There may not be a specific law against it, but most Cuban socialist companies make it impossible for their workers to criticize the rulers.

To stop their workers from talking negatively about rulers, companies include the following words in their worker’s contracts:

“It is forbidden to criticize or contradict the directors of the company and the country’s leaders”.

Compared to most places in the world, this is a disgusting way to treat an employee and one that should be removed.

No Political Parties Are Allowed

Despite the Cuban Constitution permitting every citizen to run for public election, no political parties are allowed to be made.

The only political party allowed to run is the Partido Comunista de Cuba party.

The Cuban Constitution even declares that this party is the superior managing force of society and the Cuban state.

Anyone that violates the principles set out by the constitution will face punishment.

No Public Demonstrations

As if the people of Cuba didn’t already feel dictated, another absurd prohibition is public demonstrations.

Cuba’s constitution warns that anyone who meets or participates in a demonstration celebrated without respecting certain dispositions is committing a felony.

Thankfully, 39 years after this rule was set, no law has been adopted to regulate the right to demonstrate across Cuba.

Cubans Can’t Organize Sporting Or Artistic Events Without Government Permission

The final prohibition on our list makes it much harder for Cubans to simply enjoy sports and arts.

Without prior permission from government officials within the Cuban government, Cubans aren’t allowed to organize or perform any sporting or artistic activity.

Performing an activity without permission can be considered a provocation.

This can result in the arrest of both the organizers and participants.

Final Thoughts

Believe it or not, our list of absurd prohibitions could have gone on and on.

However, we think that these are the most absurd prohibitions tourists probably wouldn’t notice.

As tourists go about their day-to-day on vacation, little do they know about what’s going on behind the scenes.

More often than not, the ridiculous laws and regulations put in place only affect the local people.

As far as tourists go, they are treated very differently, almost giving them a false sense as to what the country is actually like to live in.

Hopefully, things start to change for the better soon, but at the moment, the Cuban people are ruled by very strict prohibitions.

Jim Stanton
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