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Johannes Werner

CUBA STANDARD — Four Cuban invitees to the annual Latin American Studies Association conference did not receive visas from the U.S. Department of State, blocking them from attending the major academic conference in Chicago, May 21-24. They include Rafael Hernández , editor of Temas, a Cuban social science magazine, and Omar Everleny Pérez, the candid economist from the [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — A 30-member business delegation from Mexico led by Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villareal started a three-day visit to Cuba today with a tour of the new Special Economic Development Zone at Mariel. The Mexican businesspeople will also participate in a round of negotiations with Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and Cuban executives, [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — The government published long-awaited regulations, granting temporary residence to foreigners who own or rent residential property in Cuba. Providing immigration status to potential home buyers in dozens of planned golf and marina luxury communities, Interior Ministry Resolution No. 4/2014, published in an extraordinary edition of the Gaceta Oficial on May 20, establishes a one-year, [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Cuban state company Quality Couriers International (QCI) and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Highway Project Management Unit signed an agreement for the Cubans to supervise construction of another segment of a major north-south highway in Vietnam. QCI agreed to supervise construction of an 87-kilometer (55 mile) stretch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway, a [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — State company Habagüanex is partnering with Gaviota S.A. to turn an early-20th century landmark building in Old Havana into a 246-room luxury hotel. The new hotel, going up in a gutted Manzana de Gómez, is located on the western margin of Old Havana, just east of the Paseo de Martí, across the Parque Central [...] Continue reading
By Domingo Amuchastegui Cuba’s reforms and changes, aiming at a complete redesign of its rigid, state-controlled socialist experience, has come to a point of no return. There’s no turning back, and the Achilles Heel of this present stage is the effort to put an end to the two-tier currency system, with all its distortions in finance, [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Joining a Russian-led effort, Cuba hosted a two-day meeting of the International Investment Bank (IIB). Surging amid the conflict in Ukraine, the IIB is an apparent attempt by Russia to revive some of the influence the Soviet Union enjoyed in Eastern Europe and elsewhere during Cold War times. IIB intends to be a “modern [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Continuing French efforts to revive trade and investment ties with Cuba, the two governments amended on May 6 in Havana a short-term credit line agreement backed by French export guarantee agency Coface. The new credit line extends a previous one through November 2015. Guaranteeing Cuban purchases of up to euro 90 million ($125 million) [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Aided by the promise of rising nickel prices, the besieged management of Sherritt International Corp. emerged victorious from a proxy battle started by activist investor Clarke Inc. The Canadian nickel mining and energy conglomerate — Cuba’s largest private investor — announced Tuesday that shareholders elected all nine of its nominees to the board [...] Continue reading
By Richard Feinberg Among investors focused on Cuban markets, private bars and clubs are the new big thing. Within the last 18 months, enterprising Cuban investors have spiced up an already vibrating Havana night life by opening a variety of chic watering holes. By all accounts, many investors are achieving their primary goal: rapid returns on [...] Continue reading
By Vito Echevarría and Johannes Werner In a bow to the destination Cuba, the Brazilian Association of Travel Agents (ABAV) held its five-day annual meeting at the brand new Meliá Marina Hotel in Varadero May 2-7. ABAV represents 3,500 travel agents in Brazil. A delegation of 70 Brazilian travel agents and writers landed in Havana on Cubana [...] Continue reading
By José Manuel Pallí, Esq. If you were to compare the Cuban foreign investment law (CFIL), and I mean the one still in force (that is the old one, Ley 77/95, which will be superseded by the new one this summer), with its many equivalents in other parts of the developing world, you may well conclude that [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Decolar.com Inc., a company that operates from Buenos Aires, agreed to pay a $2.8 million fine to the U.S. government for selling travel services to Cuba without authorization from Washington, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced. According to OFAC, Decolar provided flight and hotel reservations to 17,836 [...] Continue reading
By José Manuel Pallí, Esq. Perhaps the most important question raised by Cuba’s new approach to foreign investment in real estate is the one related to the nature of the rights a foreign investor who develops real estate in Cuba — and those who purchase the residential units from the developer — can acquire over the [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs visited is beginning a two-day visit to Cuba today, Cuba’s foreign ministry reported. Luis Campos Ferreira will meet with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, as well as the ministers of industry and energy. Portugal is seeking to “create space for a deepening [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Havana April 20 to prepare with Cuban officials for a visit by President Xi Jinping, as part of a planned Latin America tour by the Chinese president. Cuba was Wang’s first stop of a Latin America tour that takes him to Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. The last visit [...] Continue reading
By Isaac Eger Pasha Jackson prides himself on punctuality, so when he arrived 20 minutes late to the interview, he asked for forgiveness. “I got held up by some heavy Cuban stuff,” Jackson, 31, said. The former NFL player, who still looks like a world-class athlete, is in his fifth and penultimate year of studies at the [...] Continue reading
By Domingo Amuchastegui At a March 6 press conference, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez announced Cuba’s acceptance of a European Union (EU) proposal to start negotiations aimed at establishing a political dialogue and mutual cooperation. This came almost a month after the EU’s High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton, made the proposal [...] Continue reading
By Doreen Hemlock As Cuba opens its market to private business and foreign investment, proponents of socially responsible enterprise are boosting their links with the island, offering assistance to build a new kind of hybrid economy that considers workers, the community and the environment in its developments. As part of those links, a group from the [...] Continue reading
By Domingo Amuchastegui What is the role and potential of foreign investment for the Cuban economy? Let us look at the views of some of the most influential Cuban academics. These economists come from different backgrounds. Several are associated with the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy (CEEC) at the University of Havana, one is [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — In an effort to support small business in Cuba, the New York-based  Americas Society/Council of the Americas in a “Memo to the President” is urging the White House to allow more openings for U.S. activities. The group suggests the Obama administration should use its executive authority to increase the scope for U.S. non-government [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) will grant close to $50 million in loans for water rehabilitation projects in Cuba over the next two years, official daily Granma reported. The announcement came after a meeting in Havana by OFID General Director Suleiman J. Al-Herbish with First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel. Al-Herbish also met [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Following up on a new regulation that allows Cuban athletes to perform as professionals abroad, the Cuban Baseball Federation lets left outfielder Frederich Cepeda, 34, play for the Yomiuri Giants for one season, under an agreement between the Cuban Baseball Federation and its Japanese counterpart that may be expanded to include Cuban [...] Continue reading
By José Manuel Pallí, esq. Now we can comment on Cuba’s new foreign investment law — Ley 118/ 2014 — since its “official version” is now published at the Gaceta Oficial de Cuba, together with a Reglamento or regulatory law and other companion governmental resolutions that should further help in interpreting its significance and clarify its [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Promising to fill new hotel rooms on the island, six Mexican tour operators joined forces with Aeroméxico to offer direct flights from Mexico City to beach resort Cayo Santa María during Mexico’s summer vacations this year, the tourism ministry announced. Aeroméxico will fly once a week, from July 19 through Aug. 9, non-stop [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recommended the lecture of the latest novel by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, official newswire Prensa Latina reported. Padura, in Brazil for a book fair to present his latest novel, The Man Who Loved Dogs, was invited to lunch with the president. After her meeting, Rousseff wrote in her Twitter [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — The administrators of the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) are working closely with foreign investors on 15 project applications, the ZEDM chief executive said during a fair in Havana, according to official media. Ana Teresa Igarza didn’t specify the investors, but she said they hailed from Spain, Russia, Italy, China and Brazil, and [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — State sugar holding company Azcuba is planning to install up to 19 biomass power plants, Prensa Latina reported. The biomass plants — some attached to sugar mills, some would be remodels of existing power plants — would generate up to 765 megawatts in electric power mostly with bagasse, a byproduct of sugar production, [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — The Association of Spanish Entrepreneurs in Cuba (AEEC) elected a new president, relieving Victor Moro Suárez who headed the 20-year old organization since 2002, Spanish news agency efe reported. The AEEC is the only association of its kind in Cuba. The new president, Xulio Fontecha, won in a 88-47 vote and will be in office [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — French Foreign Minster Laurent Fabius will arrive in Cuba this Saturday, becoming the highest-ranking French visitor to the island in three decades. Fabius’ visit comes as Cuba and the European Union have agreed to begin talks about fully normalizing their relations, and as Cuba is seeking to attract foreign investment. Fabius will witness the [...] Continue reading
By Vito Echevarria CUBA STANDARD — As the government lets Cubans set up their own micro businesses, launches an export processing zone at Mariel, and passes a new foreign investment law, at least three U.S. trade groups and think tanks, including the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), are planning trips to Havana this spring. While U.S. [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — U.S. food and agricultural sales to Cuba continued their downward trend in 2013, with a 23.7% drop, according to U.S. trade data. U.S. agricultural and food sales totaled $348.75 million last year, down from $457.3 million in 2012, according to statistics prepared by the New York-based  U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. U.S. sales to [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Putting tourism on track to set a record this winter season, the number of travelers to Cuba grew 7.2% in the January-February period, according to data released by the National Statistics Office (ONE). Arrivals in February, the latest data available, grew 5.3%. The strong start of the year also makes it possible that 2014 [...] Continue reading
By José Manuel Pallí, Esq. For the past few days, everyone, in and out of Cuba, has been commenting on a law — Cuba’s ‘new’ foreign investment law — no one seems to have fully read yet. An American friend from Massachusetts, finding me all worked-up with that very same topic, wistfully [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD – The aspect of the new foreign investment law with the probably biggest long-term impact on the Cuban economy is the role it assigns to the more than 1 million Cubans living abroad. Although it doesn’t mention Cuban émigrés specifically, the draft law that circulated in the days before the vote March 29 seems to [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Executives of 31 Brazilian companies were in Cuba last week to explore options of opening shop at the Mariel Special Development Zone. The delegation, put together by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) and supported by the Federação das Indústrias de São Paulo (Fiesp), follows up on the urging of the Brazilian [...] Continue reading
By José Manuel Pallí, Esq. All things Cuban seem to live in a very particular time warp. Sometimes, more often than not, time seems static; but every now and then time seems to move feverishly fast. A presentation before the press corps in Havana of the proposed foreign investment law that is to replace or supersede Law [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — The Grupo Odebrecht subsidiary that committed to operating a sugarmill in Cienfuegos province for 15 years has ambitious plans, official Website Cubadebate reported. As part of a production administration agreement with state holding Azcuba, Companhia de Obras e Infraestructura (COI) wants to boost sugar production from currently 40,000 tons a year to 150,000 [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Granting a raise to one of the most productive groups of Cuban employees, the Council of Ministers boosted the low salaries of more than 440,000 Cuban healthcare workers by more than 100 percent, to guarantee “stability and quality of healthcare services” in Cuba and help them “comply with their international commitments.” Cuban healthcare [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — After a three-year decline, world nickel prices are on the rise again, providing respite for cash-strapped Cuba. Nickel, used in stainless steel production, is Cuba’s No. 1 export commodity. Higher nickel prices are adding to a rebound in tourism this winter season for higher hard-currency revenues. Even so, anaemic GDP growth expected for this [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — In what would be the highest-level visit of a French official in decades, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced he is planning to visit Cuba ’soon.’ “I confirmed to my friend and colleague that I will soon be in Cuba, which is news,” Fabius said today during a joint press conference in Paris with [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Two committees of the National Assembly have begun preparatory work on a new foreign investment law that is expected to be passed by an upcoming extraordinary session this month, while experts throughout the island are providing input to the proposed law. The judicial and economic committees have begun a “broad and detailed process” [...] Continue reading
By Domingo Amuchastegui China and Venezuela are Cuba’s most important trading partners, representing 12.5% and 40% of Cuba’s foreign trade, respectively. In recent times, a growing number of observers have been suggesting that these two countries might, for a host of different reasons, cut down their economic ties with Cuba. There is also speculation about an [...] Continue reading
By Vito Echevarría NEW YORK – Recent concerns about the Cuban consulate’s inability to process payments for visa applications didn’t prevent participants at a March 1 seminar in New York on U.S. travel to Cuba from forecasting stepped-up U.S. licensed visits to the island. “I think there will be general licenses before the spring is over,” said John [...] Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Without setting a deadline for currency reform, the Ministry of Finance and Prices published three resolutions March 6 that layout how state companies will determine the value of their assets under a unified currency, and how wholesale and retail prices will be set. The government announced last fall it will merge the convertible [...] Continue reading