What do Baseball, Rum, and the Buena Vista Social Club have in common? Apart from being among many of our favorite hobbies and past times, they are all an integral part of the fascinating fabric of Cuba. For our inaugural episode of The Global Ops Podcast, we chose to focus on one of our lesser-known and understood neighbors, but one that offers incredible culture, tastes and experiences; Cuba. From a Protection Practitioner’s perspective, Cuba has some interesting nuances and possible challenges that you MUST know before going. Whether you are traveling yourself, or you are supporting a client or event in this often-misunderstood country, my guest Jose’ Calero and I have got you covered.
Jose’ is an experienced Executive Protection professional, born in Cuba, and immigrated to the States at age 10. He’s had the chance to return numerous times on Protection Details and has a wealth of experience and local knowledge about all the ‘to do’s, and NOT to do’.
Cuba is clearly a country where having a local help guide you in your trip planning is going to be a critical component to your overall experience. For example, did you know that you shouldn’t plan to drive in Cuba? The concept of a ‘fender bender’ can take on a whole new meaning in a place like Cuba, where you are expected to fully compensate (in cash) any damages or injuries on the spot! Yipe.
Logistical challenges like that are exactly what Executive and Close Protection professionals are paid to deal with. And the rewards of a good site advance, solid planning, and use of local connections can net you or your clients an amazing experience. Jose tells us about an awesome backstage experience he shared with a client and the Grammy -award winning band, The Buena Vista Social Club. Cigar plantation tours, rum distilleries, baseball games, beaches and fishing. These all await you in Cuba, and you can enjoy them hassle free…but only if you are prepared.
Another unique facet of Cuba that we cover relates to the fact that cash is king in Cuba. You’ve got it. No credit cards for us Americans. When you have to bring all the cash you intend to spend with you on a trip, that changes the details immensely! No ATM’s, no quick wire of backup cash. Learn Jose’s tips and tricks for the best spots to exchange your dollars or Euro’s, as well as some other great suggestions to ensure you are prepared for your visit.
We cover travel Visa’s, interactions with the U.S.Embassy, and general travel advisories to consider if you are thinking about a trip to Cuba. Communications is another significant barrier that you will need to plan for. And for those of you accustomed to bringing a sat phone with you on trips like this, forget about it You don’t want to be in hot water with the local officials, and some of our industry’s most common tools of the trade will land you there before you know it! Do you normally use a GPS? Not in Cuba you don’t! Another potential breach of local protocol.
But, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Jose and I cover the various options that will help you stay in communication, and ensure you know where you’re headed while traveling in Cuba.
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