Taras Grescoe's "Looking for Hope in Havana" (Review, 26 October) struggles to find much that is depressing for the tourist in Cuba. The privations of occasional power cuts and having to wait an hour for a 10 cent ice-cream seem trivial compared to many Third World capitals.

Cuba is a potentially prosperous country driven into poverty by 35 years of illegal economic embargo. This is enforced by the US in protest at Cuba's opposition to its regional neo-liberal economic policies which have successfully driven most of Cuba's neighbours into destitution. A visit to Bangkok or The Gambia confirms that sex tourism and dollar hustlers are common features of the exploitation of desperate people by global tourism.

Perhaps the dollarisation of Cuba's economy has been a mistake, but for real hopelessness look to nearby Haiti, where most people would happily swap places with any Cuban. It is to the Cubans' credit that, in the face of overwhelming obstacles, they have succeeded in maintaining some dignity and a basic standard of living far higher than the rest of the US's increasingly squalid "back yard".

Nick Ronan

Glasgow

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