Paris Hilton is in Cuba and she’s snapping photos and posting them all over Instagram.
“Posing in front of the original ‘Habana Hilton Hotel’ that my great grandfather Conrad opened here in 1958,” Hilton wrote.
If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, these snapshots of the hotel heiress turned reality TV-celebrity-entrepreneur drives the point home. After all, it was, in fact, Hilton’s late great-grandfather that inaugurated the hotel at the height of the Fulgencio Batista regime. The walls of the seafront property were home to America’s deadliest gangsters including one known as Meyer Lansky. Shortly after Fidel Castro seized power and began expropriations, he nationalized the iconic property renaming it Habana Libre, the Spanish word for free. The hotel became a metaphor for the Communist Revolution: the Yankee proxy headquarters turned into Che Guevara’s office.
It isn’t the fist time celebrities have visited Havana. However, it is the first time that visiting the island 90 miles of Florida’s shores signals a new era between both nations. Artists aren’t flocking to defend the political system a la Sean Penn, nor are Republicans scrutinizing Hilton’s every move like they did to Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Hilton was participating in the annual Cigar Festival with British supermodel Naomi Campbell, which took place Feb. 23–27, reported OnCuba Magazine. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Americans can legally obtain a travel license to Cuba if they are going to partake in religious, educational, or cultural activities.
Perhaps unbeknownst to Hilton, on the last day of the cigar festival, senior officials from the U.S. were also flocking to the Caribbean nation for a second round of talks.
In December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro surprised citizens on both shores by simultaneously announcing a historic deal to normalize relations that had been stuck in a Cold War haze for more than 50 years. The agreement followed 18 months of secret negotiations and included the exchange of prisoners held on espionage charges by both countries.
In the United States, some aging exiles and lawmakers criticized the move, saying Obama had bypassed them. Overall however, the move was heralded as a positive for both sides.
On Saturday, representatives of the bilateral talks kept a tone of measured optimism. Cuban delegates said they pushed the United States on removing them from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson told CNN, that the meeting was “open, honest and sometimes challenging—yet always respectful.”
While there isn’t word yet from Havana or Washington on how soon embassies might open after the 54-year détente, nothing is more symbolic than Paris’ selfie with former Cuban President’s son Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart.
After all, Castro Jr. is fact related both to el Comandante himself and the Diaz-Balarts in Congress who have hawkishly supported Cuba sanctions for decades.
Now isn’t that a picture?