Rihanna and Mick Jagger party as gold-rush mood grips Havana

[Big predators with deep pockets and smiling faces are crowding in……. — Frontlines ed.]

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press , October 18, 2015

Tourists sit in the popular O'Reilly 304 Bar in Old  Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13.  Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings.

Tourists sit in the popular O’Reilly 304 Bar in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13. Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings. The Associated Press

HAVANA — By midnight, the basement of one of Havana’s hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba’s biggest pop stars.

Squeezed among the usual crowd of sleek young Cubans and paunchy, prowling European tourists, the owner of one of New York’s hippest restaurants discusses his new Havana boutique hotel project. At the bar, a Swiss venture capitalist describes meeting with Communist Party officials about partnering on a marina complex. An Ohio woman who runs a bespoke guide service for wealthy Americans shows her clients iPhone photos of the private villa where they will have a waterfront paella dinner the next day.

The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.

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