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Southwest drops two routes to Cuba; Havana flights to stay
Ben Mutzabaugh , USA TODAY Published 8:46 a.m. ET June 29, 2017

Southwest Airlines will ax two of its three routes to Cuba, becoming the
latest U.S. carrier to trim flights to the nation amid disappointing
demand.

Southwest said flights to Varadero and Santa Clara will be discontinued
so that the airline can "concentrate its future service to Cuba in
Havana." Southwest will keep its existing service to Havana from both
Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

Varadero and Santa Clara flights will end Sept. 4, with Southwest
pointing to lingering travel restrictions that affect Americans
traveling to Cuba.

"Our decision to discontinue the other Cuba flights comes after an
in-depth analysis of our performance over several months which confirmed
that there is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets,
particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to
Cuba for American citizens," Steve Goldberg, Southwest's senior vice
president of ground operations, said in a statement.

With that, Southwest joins a growing list of U.S. airlines that have cut
back Cuba service since regular passenger flights to the country resumed
in November for the first time more than 50 years.

American and JetBlue each have reduced their capacity to Cuba. Neither
dropped any routes, but American is now flying fewer flights while
JetBlue has mixed in smaller planes to its schedules.

Two smaller airlines have pulled out of Cuba altogether. Frontier
dropped its Miami-Havana route in June, ending its only route to Cuba.
And small carrier Silver Airways, which once had plans for nine Cuba
routes, stopped flying to the country this spring.

When Cuba opened up to U.S. airlines last year, routes and capacity to
the island were capped and carriers had to apply for the rights to serve
the Cuba's international airports. Nearly all of the big U.S. airlines
rushed in with requests to fly to the island – especially on routes to
Havana.

Against that enthusiasm, however, some industry executives openly
wondered whether demand would live up to the hype.

Without regular airline service to the island in five decades, there was
little data available to carriers in trying to assess potential demand
for flights to new destinations. And unlike other foreign markets, Cuba
remains a unique and highly regulated place for U.S. airlines to do
business.

Indeed, some of the new routes haven't panned out as expected.

As for Southwest, it has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for
the rights to add more flights to Havana on its existing route from Fort
Lauderdale. But it will face competition from rivals who also are
seeking to pick up Havana rights dropped by other airlines.

Southwest says it will offer refunds to customers with reservations for
flights to Varadero and Santa Clara beyond Sept. 4.

Source: Southwest drops two routes to Cuba; Havana flights to stay -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2017/06/29/southwest-drops-two-routes-cuba-havana-flights-stay/438218001/ Continue reading
Southwest Becomes Latest Airline to Reduce Flights to Cuba
By Mary Schlangenstein
June 28, 2017, 5:53 PM GMT+2

U.S. restrictions on travel continue to weigh on demand
American trimmed service while Frontier, Spirit pulled out

Southwest Airlines Co. will join other U.S. carriers in reducing flights
to Cuba, saying laws that restrict Americans from traveling there for
tourism are constraining demand.

Southwest becomes the latest airline to accept that the industry, with
little way to judge demand beforehand, was too optimistic when U.S.
regulators allowed passenger routes to the island nation last year for
the first time in decades. President Donald Trump added to the woes
earlier this month by announcing restrictions that may stall U.S.
business on the island. The new limits don't affect airline operations
to Cuba but may affect demand.

American Airlines Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. previously
trimmed their service to Cuba, while Spirit Airlines Inc., Frontier
Airlines Holdings Inc. and Silver Airways Corp. pulled out completely.

Southwest will drop service to Varadero and Santa Clara on Sept. 4, and
continue flying to Havana twice daily from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and
Tampa airports in Florida, the carrier said in a statement Wednesday.

"Our decision to discontinue the other Cuba flights comes after an
in-depth analysis of our performance over several months which confirmed
that there is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets,
particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to
Cuba for American citizens," Steve Goldberg, senior vice president of
ground operations, said in the statement.

Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly previously had said he
would give the Cuba markets a year before deciding on continuing
service. The Dallas-based carrier began flights to Varadero in November
and to Santa Clara in December.

The airline is contacting customers holding travel reservations for
those cities on Sept. 5 and beyond to offer refunds.

Southwest is seeking U.S. approval for a third daily Havana-Fort
Lauderdale flight from among those given up by airlines that have left
the island. American, Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings
Inc. and JetBlue also are trying to secure those routes.

Source: Southwest Becomes Latest Airline to Reduce Flights to Cuba -
Bloomberg -
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-28/southwest-becomes-latest-airline-to-reduce-flights-to-cuba Continue reading
Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's
work with Cuban institute
By News Editorial Board
Published Mon, Jun 26, 2017

President Trump's plan to revise his predecessor's overtures to Cuba
carries a significant risk for Buffalo. A promising partnership between
Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a Cuban research institution could be
endangered if Trump isn't careful.

The lifesaving prospect is for U.S. acceptance of a lung cancer vaccine
developed by Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology. The partnership
with Roswell Park grew out of a 2015 visit to Cuba by prominent New
Yorkers, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Dr. Candace S. Johnson, CEO
of Roswell Park. Clinical trials here could open the door to U.S.
approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.

First and foremost, that could save many, many lives. On its own that
fact should overcome any associated objections Trump has to former
President Barack Obama's move to end decades of estrangement from Cuba.
As local matters, successful trials will bolster Roswell Park's standing
in its field, a benefit that accrues not only to the hospital, but to
Buffalo, as well.

In announcing his plan to close the door on Obama's opening to Cuba,
Trump might not have understood the potential damage it could do to this
region and to the life prospects of millions of Americans. That's not an
excuse; he's the president and needs to act with the relevant
information in hand.

But, if he doesn't know now, Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, will surely
inform him. Collins is one of Trump's most devoted supporters in
Congress and, more important to Western New York, has pledged to support
the region's interests when Trump puts them at risk.

Trump promised during last year's presidential campaign to roll back the
opening to Cuba, mainly, one suspects, as a political maneuver to curry
favor with Florida's remaining anti-Castro voters.

One of Trump's professed concerns is Cuba's government, which, in fact,
remains oppressive despite some improvements. Yet the United States
maintains working relationships with other repressive nations, including
one of Trump's favorites, Russia.

The fact is that more than 50 years of isolating Cuba has not worked to
change its ways. It's a failed policy, pursued by both Republican and
Democratic administrations, and it was past time to end it.

Nevertheless, elections do have consequences and Trump has the authority
to make changes in this policy, however unwarranted or unwise. And, in
fact, Trump is only partially changing Obama's policy.

Diplomatic relations between the countries will remain open, for
example. No additional restrictions on the types of goods that Americans
can take out of Cuba are planned.

But the administration says it will strictly enforce the rules that
allow travel between Cuba and the United States, and will prohibit
commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence
services.

Against that backdrop, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, has written a
letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary
Wilbur Ross to make them aware of the potential threat to the
partnership between Roswell Park and the Center for Molecular Immunology
in Cuba. Collins needs to inject himself into this matter, as well.

It's time to move forward in our relations with Cuba. That's the better
way of encouraging the country out of its repressive ways. But we
absolutely cannot go backward on developments in cancer treatment and
the possibility of giving years back to Americans suffering from lung
cancer.

Source: Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell
Park's work with Cuban institute - The Buffalo News -
http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/26/editorial-cancer-patients-stand-lose-trump-blocks-roswell-parks-work-cuban-institute/ Continue reading
Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy?
The New York Times
By PETER BAKER

WASHINGTON — When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack
Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other
things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his
sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his
diplomatic opening to Cuba.

That was then. Five months after leaving office, Mr. Obama watches
mostly in silence as his successor takes a political sledgehammer to his
legacy. Brick by brick, President Trump is trying to tear down what Mr.
Obama built. The trade deal? Canceled. The climate pact? Forget it.
Cuba? Partially reversed. Health care? Unresolved, but to be repealed if
he can navigate congressional crosscurrents.

Every new president changes course, particularly those succeeding
someone from the other party. But rarely has a new president appeared so
determined not just to steer the country in a different direction but to
actively dismantle what was established before his arrival. Whether out
of personal animus, political calculation, philosophical disagreement or
a conviction that the last president damaged the country, Mr. Trump has
made clear that if it has Mr. Obama's name on it, he would just as soon
erase it from the national hard drive.

"I've reflected back and simply cannot find another instance in recent
American history where a new administration was so wholly committed to
reversing the accomplishments of its predecessor," Russell Riley, a
presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center,
said. While other presidents focus on what they will build, "this one is
different, far more comfortable still in swinging the wrecking ball than
in developing models for what is to follow."

Shirley Anne Warshaw, director of the Fielding Center for Presidential
Leadership Study at Gettysburg College, said Mr. Trump is not unusual in
making a clean break from his predecessor. "Trump isn't doing anything
that Obama didn't do," she said. "He is simply reversing policies that
were largely put in place by a president of a different party."

The difference, she said, is that other presidents have proactive ideas
about what to erect in place of their predecessor's programs. "I have
not seen any constructive bills in this vein that Trump has put forth,"
she said. "As far as I can tell, he has no independent legislative
agenda other than tearing down. Perhaps tax reform."

With a flourish, Mr. Trump has staged signing ceremonies meant to show
him tearing down. Not only did he pull out of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade deal and the Paris climate accord, he approved the
Keystone XL pipeline Mr. Obama had rejected and began reversing his
fuel-efficiency standards and power plant emissions limits. Not only is
he trying to repeal Obamacare, he has pledged to revoke regulations on
Wall Street adopted after the financial crash of 2008.

Still, he has not gone as far as threatened. He has for now kept Mr.
Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, however reluctantly, and while he
made a show of overturning Mr. Obama on Cuba, the fine print left much
of the policy intact. He did not rescind Mr. Obama's order sparing
younger illegal immigrants from deportation. Senate Republicans released
a new version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in recent
days, but it may yet end in impasse, leaving the program in place.

Advisers insist Mr. Trump is not driven by a desire to unravel the Obama
presidency. But like the Manhattan real estate developer he is, they
said, he believes he must in some cases demolish the old to make way for
the new.

"He hasn't dismantled everything, and I don't know that that's exactly
what he's looking to do," said Hope Hicks, the White House director of
strategic communications. "That may be a side effect of what he's
building for his own legacy. I don't think anybody's coming into the
office every day saying, 'How can we undo Obama's legacy, and how can he
go back?' "

Yet Mr. Trump has depicted the Obama legacy as a disastrous one that
needs unraveling. "To be honest, I inherited a mess," he said at a news
conference soon after taking office. "It's a mess. At home and abroad,
a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what's going on
with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other
places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas no matter where
you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea. We'll take care of
it, folks."

Critics say Mr. Obama brought this on himself. His biggest legislative
achievements were passed almost exclusively with Democratic votes,
meaning there was no bipartisan consensus that would outlast his
presidency. And when Republicans captured Congress, he turned to a
strategy he called the pen and the phone, signing executive orders that
could be easily erased by the next president.

"I've heard it joked about that the Obama library is being revised to
focus less on his legislative achievements as each week of the Trump
administration goes by," said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American
Conservative Union. "It's like living by the sword and dying by the
sword. When your presidency is based on a pen and a phone, all of that
can be undone, and I think we're seeing that happening rather
systematically."

Mr. Obama would argue he had little choice because of Republican
obstructionism. Either way, he has largely remained quiet through the
current demolition project, reasoning that speaking out would only give
Mr. Trump the public enemy he seems to crave. He made an exception on
Thursday, taking to Facebook to assail the new Senate health care bill
as "a massive transfer of wealth from middle class and poor families to
the richest people in America." But Mr. Obama's team takes solace in the
belief that Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy, better at bluster than
actually following through.

"Obama's legacy would be under much greater threat by a more competent
president than Donald Trump," said Josh Earnest, who served as Mr.
Obama's White House press secretary. "His inexperience and lack of
discipline are an impediment to his success in implementing policies
that would reverse what Obama instituted."

Other Obama veterans said much of what Mr. Trump has done was either
less dramatic than it appeared or reversible. He did not actually break
relations with Cuba, for instance. It will take years to actually
withdraw from the Paris accord, and the next president could rejoin. The
real impact, they argued, was to America's international reputation.

"There's a lot of posturing and, in fact, not a huge amount of change,
and to the extent there has been change, it's been of the self-defeating
variety," said Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.
"What's been happening is not that the administration is undoing
President Obama's legacy, it's undoing American leadership on the
international stage."

Mr. Trump, of course, is hardly the first president to scorn his
predecessor's tenure. George W. Bush was so intent on doing the opposite
of whatever Bill Clinton had done that his approach was called "ABC" —
Anything but Clinton. Mr. Obama spent years blaming his predecessor for
economic and national security setbacks — blame that supporters
considered justified and that Mr. Bush's team considered old-fashioned
buck passing.

For decades, presidents moving into the Oval Office have made a point on
their first day or two of signing orders overturning policies of the
last tenant, what Mr. Riley called "partisan kabuki" to signal that "a
new president is in town."

The most tangible example is an order signed by Ronald Reagan barring
taxpayer financing for international family planning organizations that
provide abortion counseling. Mr. Clinton rescinded it when he came into
office. Mr. Bush restored it, Mr. Obama overturned it again and Mr.
Trump restored it again.

Even so, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama invested much effort in
deconstructing programs left behind. Mr. Bush kept Mr. Clinton's health
care program for lower-income children, his revamped welfare system and
his AmeriCorps service organization. Mr. Obama undid much of Mr. Bush's
No Child Left Behind education program, but kept his Medicare
prescription medicine program, his AIDS-fighting program and most of his
counterterrorism apparatus.

That was in keeping with a longer tradition. Dwight D. Eisenhower did
not unravel Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, nor did Richard M. Nixon
dismantle Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Mr. Reagan promised to
eliminate the departments of Education and Energy, created by Jimmy
Carter, but ultimately did not.

Mr. Obama understood that his legacy might be jeopardized by Mr. Trump.
During last year's campaign, he warned supporters that "all the progress
we've made over these last eight years goes out the window" if Mr. Trump
won. Only after the election did he assert the opposite. "Maybe 15
percent of that gets rolled back, 20 percent," he told The New Yorker's
David Remnick. "But there's still a lot of stuff that sticks."

Indeed, when it comes time to tally the record for the history books,
Mr. Trump can hardly reverse some of Mr. Obama's most important
achievements, like pulling the economy back from the abyss of a deep
recession, rescuing the auto industry and authorizing the commando raid
that killed Osama bin Laden. Nor can Mr. Trump take away what will
surely be the first line in Mr. Obama's obituary, his barrier-shattering
election as the first African-American president.

Conversely, Mr. Obama owns his failures regardless of Mr. Trump's
actions. History's judgment of his handling of the civil war in Syria or
the messy aftermath of the intervention in Libya or the economic
inequality he left behind will not depend on his successor. If anything,
America's decision to replace Mr. Obama with someone as radically
different as Mr. Trump may be taken as evidence of Mr. Obama's inability
to build sustained public support for his agenda or to mitigate the
polarization of the country.

But legacies are funny things. Presidents are sometimes defined because
their successors are so different. Mr. Obama today is more popular than
he was during most of his presidency, likely a result of the contrast
with Mr. Trump, who is the most unpopular president this early in his
tenure in the history of polling. By this argument, even if Mr. Trump
does disassemble the Obama legacy, it may redound to his predecessor's
historical benefit.

Richard Norton Smith, who has directed the libraries of four Republican
presidents, said presidents are often credited with paving the way
toward goals that may elude them during their tenure. Harry S. Truman is
called the father of Medicare even though it was not achieved until
Johnson's presidency. Mr. Bush is remembered for pushing for immigration
reform even though Congress rebuffed him.

"It's hard to imagine future historians condemning Barack Obama for
breaking with his country's past ostracism of Cuba or joining the
civilized world in combating climate change or pursuing a more humane
and accessible approach to health care," Mr. Smith said. "Indeed, we
build memorials to presidents who prod us toward fulfilling the
egalitarian vision of Jefferson's declaration."

But that may not be all that comforting to Mr. Obama. Presidents prefer
memorials to their lasting accomplishments, not their most fleeting.

Source: Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy? -
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/analysis-can-trump-destroy-obama%e2%80%99s-legacy/ar-BBD7mYr?li=BBnb7Kz Continue reading
GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL
Trip delayed 24 hours after Airbus A330 jet returned to Manchester with
oil pressure problem
SIMON CALDER TRAVEL CORRESPONDENT
@SimonCalder

Hundreds of Thomas Cook Airlines passengers have had their Cuban holiday
extended by more than 24 hours after an inflight mechanical incident
involving an Airbus A330. They will be paid £530 for the inconvenience
caused.

Flight MT2652 took off from Manchester with 332 passengers on board on
Monday afternoon, the destination Holguin in eastern Cuba. But as it was
flying over the Atlantic about 200 miles west of the Irish coast, the
pilots decided to return to the Thomas Cook base in Manchester because
of an oil pressure issue with the left-hand engine.

No emergency was declared, and the plane made a normal landing.

Unusually, the plane was missing a wingtip on the left-hand wing, which
caused some mistaken concern that part of the wing had fallen off. One
newspaper headline read: "Jet returns to UK for emergency landing with a
broken wing."

In fact, engineers had previously removed the wingtip - which is not an
essential component, but an aid to fuel efficiency - for repair.

Passengers were given overnight accommodation in the Manchester area,
and have continued their journey today on a different aircraft.

The 295 holidaymakers in Cuba who were expecting to fly back on Monday
were able to stay at their hotels, and will return just over 24 hours late.

Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the passengers at both ends of the
route will qualify for €600 (£530) in statutory EU compensation for the
delay. They should apply to contact customer relations to have their
claims processed. If they all claim, the compensation will total £335,000.

When the costs of hotel accommodation and the aborted flight are added,
the holiday firm's total bill for the episode will be around
half-a-million pounds.

Airbus A330 jets have encountered a series of problems in recent weeks,
with an AirAsia X plane returning to Perth after an engine issue which
left it "shaking like a washing machine", and a China Eastern aircraft
returning to Sydney after a large hole appeared in the engine housing.

The original Thomas Cook Airbus A330 has been repaired and inspected,
and is now back in service.

Source: Glitch on Thomas Cook flight to Cuba leaves airline with £500k
bill | The Independent -
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/thomas-cook-airlines-cuba-flight-airbus-a330-oil-pressure-wing-tip-manchester-airport-holguin-a7810226.html Continue reading
Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy
BY MIKE GONZALEZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 06/27/17 11:00 AM EDT 54

Was President Obama's opening to the Castro government motivated by a
real belief that it would help Cubans, or was it a vanity project from
the start? We will never know for sure, but we do know it violated his
Inaugural promise that he would shake the hands of tyrants only if they
first unclenched their fists.

Raul Castro has never relaxed his grip on the island he and his brother
have ruled for nearly 60 years. In fact, after Obama announced the
re-establishment of relations with in December 2014, he tightened it.
Since then, Cuban dissidents have paid a heavy price in repression,
arrests and beatings.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation,
politically motivated arbitrary arrests rose rapidly after the opening,
culminating in 9,940 last year—a six-year high. In December alone, 14
dissidents were beaten by government officials, according to the
Havana-based Commission, whose numbers are reported by Amnesty
International.

President Obama argued that, by "normalizing" relations with Cuba, the
regime would be inspired to grant fundamental freedoms to its people.
Yet Obama asked for, and of course received, nothing in return from the
Cuban authorities.

President Trump put some of that right yesterday when he announced that
he would reverse some of the Obama changes and reinstate some
prohibitions on trade with military-controlled entities and persons on
the communist-ruled island.

Trump's changes don't go far enough. Still, his critics should resist
the urge to lash out at him.

Once upon a time, American liberals knew that legitimizing dictators
never ended well for those who dared speak their minds. That insight led
them to denounce Washington's support for dictators and call out the
moral hollowness in FDR's fatuous line that Anastasio Somoza Sr. may
have been an S.O.B., "but he's our S.O.B."

They should not be surprised today that the Washington establishment's
rush to embrace the Castro regime in pursuit increased trade would only
further entrench the family's hold on power. The Obama changes, which
facilitated American trade and transfer of convertible currency to the
military and the Castro family, only made easier the prospect of their
continued rule.

In other words, if you denounced the Somozas, Augusto Pinochet and
Ferdinand Marcos, and you want to be considered consistent, you should
support the changes Trump announced in Miami.

Those changes are, in fact, narrowly tailored to restrict the
aggrandizement of the regime's military. And they didn't come easy.

Two factions waged a tremendous struggle to win President Trump's heart
and mind on the issue. On one side were a phalanx of congressional
offices that sought to curb the Cuban military's access to convertible
currency. Opposing them were career officials burrowed inside the
Treasury and the State Departments, who wanted President Obama's
legacy—the "historic opening" to the Castros—to be left untouched.

Nor was Cuba an idle bystander in the debate. According to Marc Caputo
at Politico, the regime launched a last-minute bid to stave off the
changes, enlisting Colombia's help in lobbying Trump. The government of
President Juan Manuel Santos reportedly threatened to pull out of a
U.S.-led summit on security in Latin America.

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), told the White House to tell Colombia that
if it withdrew from the summit, it could kiss the $450 million "Peace
Colombia" aid package goodbye. And that was that.

In the end, the Trump Cuba change closely mirrored the 2015 Cuban
Military Transparency Act introduced by Rubio in the Senate and by Devin
Nunes, (R– Calif.), in the House. The bill prohibits U.S. persons and
companies "from engaging in financial transactions with or transfers of
funds to" the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, the
Ministry of the Interior, any of their subdivisions and companies and
other entities owned by them.

In other words, it aims directly at Cuba's largest company, the Grupo
Gaesa holding company (Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, Sociedad
Anonima). Founded by Raul Castro in the 1990s, Gaesa is run by the
military, more specifically, by Gen. Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Lopez-Callejas—who also happens to be Castro's son-in-law. It represents
an estimated 80 percent of the island nation's economy.

Its affiliate, Gaviota, SA., owns the tourism industry. If you eat ropa
vieja at a restaurant, sip a mojito in bar, play golf in a resort, or
sleep in a hotel—you are paying Gaviota. Same with renting a taxi or
renting a car. Thanks to Trump's changes, that cash flow will now be
interrupted.

Or Raul Castro can unclench his fist and allow real Cubans to own and
run these places, and we really have President Obama's dream, expressed
on a January 14, 2011 speech, of increasing "people-to-people contact;
support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to,
from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence
form the Cuban authorities."

Shouldn't liberals support this?

Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus) is a senior fellow in the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy
Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views
of The Hill.

Source: Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy |
TheHill -
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/339637-why-liberals-should-support-trump-not-obama-on-cuba Continue reading
Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at 5:17 PM

When we went to Cuba this winter, we flew from Miami on American
Airlines to join a group tour, see some performances, meet some Cubans,
stay at two very nice hotels and eat at a variety of restaurants.

Even though President Trump says he is imposing limitations on travel,
if we decided to do it again, we could.

We might need to substitute one restaurant or hotel for another, but the
kind of trip we took, the kind that accounted for the vast majority of
American tourists we ran into, will continue with only minor changes.

So what was this all about?

It was the president's sad attempt to do what he does best - increase
hostility.

You could join another march in protest. Better yet, you could schedule
a trip soon, meet some Cuban people and explain in person that we would
much rather get to know our neighbors than fight with them.

When President Obama re-established diplomatic relations — better known
as "normalization," as opposed to Trump's attempt at "abnormalization" —
he made it possible for the cautiously adventurous traveler, people like
us and a lot of others we know, to dip a toe into the Cuban experience.

A group tour of Cuba provides the same kind of comfort as a group tour
of France or China or anywhere else.

The operator makes sure you get where you are going, reserves the rooms,
arranges some of the meals and gives you a bit of free time to explore.

For all of the bluster about cracking down, those tours will not be
affected, and any need to swap one forbidden location for a new approved
one will be the responsibility of the tour organizer. We tourists will
not be affected.

Those who find such tours with their schedules and bus trips stifling
will still be able to do it on their own in Cuba, but it will take more
work.

As the initial explanations put it, they will be asked more questions
and have to "self-certify" that they did not stray.

I don't know about you, but I'm always ready to self-certify that I have
followed the rules.

If you go, no matter how, you will find that traveling in Cuba has
limitations because of some things that did not change under the Obama
approach and will not change now.

Our banks are not allowed to operate there, making your credit card
worthless. Our phones do not work there, and the Internet will remind
you of dial-up days.

A more open relationship between our two countries has not quickly
improved communications or human rights in Cuba.

That does not surprise me, because it's only been a few months, and
changes take years.

But it also does not surprise me, because anyone who travels widely will
learn that commerce and communication do not automatically bring more
freedom.

In the past few years, I've been able to freely use my phone, my laptop
and my ATM card in some countries around the world that are either near
or below Cuba on those lists ranking nations by how much freedom their
residents enjoy.

The difference when it comes to Cuba is the embargo, a failed 50-year
attempt to impose democracy.

Today, all it does is impose restrictions on American travelers.

thrkenhall@gmail.com

Source: Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba -
http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170626/ken-hall-us-travelers-can-still-bring-good-will-to-cuba Continue reading
Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback
By Gay Nagle Myers / June 27, 2017

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) joined the chorus of
industry critics denouncing Trump's Cuba policy, saying that the
re-imposed restrictions could stall or reverse the progress made in
recent years.
The Trump administration has banned individual people-to-people travel
to Cuba, only allowing such visits with licensed groups.
"If restrictions are indeed reimposed, CHTA expects adverse effects for
U.S. businesses -- not only for import-export companies but also for the
U.S.-based travel businesses that have made considerable investments in
Cuba since normalization began -- and lost opportunities for those U.S.
companies considering doing business there," CHTA said in a statement.
CHTA pointed to the growth of the hospitality industry in Cuba, which
has outpaced the rest of the region. "Major global hotel chains from
outside the U.S. have been investing in Cuba and today manage tens of
thousands of rooms. As latecomers, U.S. firms already are at a
competitive disadvantage in Cuba."
CHTA continues to support the ending of the embargo and urged that new
regulations continue to encourage small and medium enterprise
opportunities, both Cuban and U.S.-sourced.

Source: Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback: Travel
Weekly -
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"We Exist Between Illusions And Fears"

14ymedio, Mario Penton, David (Panama), 23 June 2017 — The green seems
to fill everything in Chiriquí, in the western Panamanian province where
the government hosts 126 undocumented Cubans in a camp in the region of
Gualaca. The stillness of the morning in the middle of the huge pines
that grow in the foothills of the mountains is only interrupted by the
bites of insects, a true torture at dawn and dusk.

"This place is beautiful, but everything gets tiring, being in limbo is
exhausting," says Yosvani López, a 30-year-old Cuban who arrived in
Gualaca in April after spending three months in the hostel set up by
Caritas for Cuban migrants in Panama City.

"Sometimes we sit down and talk about what we would do if we could get
out of here and get to another country. Some relatives tell us that they
are preparing a camp in Canada to welcome us, others tell us that they
have everything prepared to deport us. Illusions and fears," he laments.

The camp that houses the Cubans was built by the Swiss brigades which,
in the 1970's, built the La Fortuna dam. It is 104 acres, occupied
mostly by forests and a stream. One hour from the nearest city, the
humidity is such that mushrooms and plants establish themselves even in
the fibrocement roof tiles.

Along with the wooden buildings, deteriorated by the passage of time,
there are still satellite antennas, electric heaters and, according to
the migrants, from time to time they find foreign currencies buried in
the vacant land.

López was born in Caibarién, a city on the north coast of Cuba. Although
he had the opportunity to emigrate using a speed boat to cross the
Florida Straits, he preferred the jungle route to avoid the seven years
moratorium on being able to return to Cuba that the government imposes
on those who leave Cuba illegally.

"I wanted to go back before 7 years was up. I have my mother and my
sisters in Cuba," he explains.

He worked as a chef specializing in seafood at the Meliá hotel in the
cays north of Villa Clara, earning the equivalent of $25 US a
month. With the money from the sale of his mother's house he traveled
via Guyana and in Panama he was taken by surprise by the end of the wet
foot/dry foot policy that allowed Cubans who reached American soil to stay.

"Here we pass the hours between chats with our relatives in Cuba and the
United States, and searching the news for clues that will tell us what
is going to happen to us," he says.

The migrants in Gualaca not only do not have permission to work, but
they can only leave the camp one day a week to go to Western Union, with
prior notice and accompanied by presidential police officers, who are
guarding the site.

Some, however, have improvised coffee sales and even a barbershop. The
locals also set up a small shop to supply the undocumented immigrants
with the personal care products and treats, which they pay for with
remittances sent by relatives from the United States.

The authorities gave themselves 90 days to decide what they would do
with the 126 Cubans who accepted the proposal to go to Gualaca. Two
months later, the patience of the migrants is beginning to wear thin. At
least six escapes have been reported since they were moved there. The
last one, on Monday, was led by four Cubans, two of whom have already
returned to the camp while two crossed the border into Costa Rica.

Since dawn, Alejandro Larrinaga, 13, and his parents have been waiting
for some news about their fate. Surrounded by adults, Alejandro has only
one other child to play in the hostel, Christian Estrada, 11. Neither
has attended school for a year and a half, when they left Havana.

Alejandro spent more than 50 days in the jungle and, as a result of
severe dehydration, he suffered epilepsy and convulsed several
times. "It was difficult to go through it. It's not easy to explain: it
is one thing to tell it and another to live it," he says with an
intonation that makes him seem much more adult.

"We had to see dead people, lots of skulls. I was afraid of losing my
mom and dad," he recalls. But, although tears appear in the eyes of his
mother while he recalls those moments, now he says he feels safe in
Gualaca and spends his days playing chess.

"I want to be a chess master, which is more than a champion. Someday I
will achieve it," he says.

His mother, Addis Torres, does not want to return to the Island where
she has nothing left because she sold their few belongings to be able to
reunite with Alejandro's grandfather, who lives in the United
States. Although they have a process of family reunification pending at
the US Embassy in Havana, the family does not want to hear about
returning to Cuba.

They eat three times a day and even have a health program financed by
the Panamanian government, but for Torres "that's not life."

"Detained, without a future, afraid to return to Cuba. We need someone
to feel sorry for us and, in the worst case, to let us stay here," she says.

Liuber Pérez Expósito is a guajiro from Velasco, a town in Holguín where
he grew garlic and corn. After the legalization of self-employment by
the Cuban government, Pérez began to engage in trade and intended to
improve things by going to the US.

In Gualaca he feels "desperate" to return to his homeland, but he has
faith that, at least, he will get the help promised by the Panamanian
Deputy Minister of Security, and leave a door open to engage in trade.

"I am here against what my family's thinking. There (in Cuba) I have my
wife, my nine-year-old son and my parents, they want me to come back and
pressure me but I am waiting for the opportunity to at least recover
some of the 5,000 dollars I spent," he says.

His mother-in-law, an ophthalmologist who worked in Venezuela, lent him
part of the money for the trip. Indebted, without money and without
hope, he only thinks of the moment he can return.

"During the day we have nothing to do. Sometimes we play a little
dominoes, we walk or we go to the stream, but we have 24 hours to think
about how difficult this situation is and the failure we are
experiencing," he says.

Liuber communicates with his family through Imo, a popular videochat
application for smartphones. "They recently installed Wi-Fi in Velasco
and they call me whenever they can," he adds.

"Hopefully, this nightmare we are living will end soon. Whatever
happens, just let it end," he says bitterly.

——

This article is a part of the series "A New Era in Cuban Migration"
produced by this newspaper, 14ymedio, el Nuevo Herald and Radio
Ambulante under the auspices of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Source: "We Exist Between Illusions And Fears" – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/we-exist-between-illusions-and-fears/ Continue reading
From Joystick to Canon / Regina Coyula

From Regina Coyula's blog, 9 June 2017 (Ed. note: These interview
fragments are being translated out of order by TranslatingCuba.com
volunteers. When they are all done we will assemble them in order into
one post.)

The country was falling to pieces, there were people drowning in the sea
and on land, there was something called the Diaspora, but we bourgeois
teenagers of Havana's Vedado neighborhood knew nothing. Our lives
revolved around a company and Japanese console. In my SuperNintendo
years, Miguel was already a legend. Coyula was a gamer before gaming.
His name passed like a password between initials. You don't know how to
kill a boss on one of the levels of the game? Ask Coyula. You don't know
how to activate this or that power? Go see Coyula.

We were playing Street Fighter II Turbo and Coyula already had Super
Street Fighter II. We went to see him so he could show us the four new
fighters and the recent versions of others. I remember that he revealed
on the screen the improved attacks of Vega, the Spanish ninja that was
my favorite fighther. Afterwards he started to clarify for us some
technical doubts about The Lion King. And I remember that, while he was
leading Simba over some cliffs, I looked at his hyperconcentrated face
and had a revelation, "This guy is alienated, bordering on autism, he's
going to melt, he probably does nothing else in his life," I said to
myself. "I have to give up video games, because if I don't, I'll end up
like Coyula."

Unfortunately, I quit videogames. Then time passed and I saw [Coyula's]
movie Memories of Overdevelopment. I saw it, by the way, before I saw
Memories of Underdevelopment, which now seems to me like a regular
prequel and a little drawn out. Sergio, the protagonist of Memories of
Overdevelopment, ends up in a desert landscape that looks like another
planet. He's carrying a Barbie doll and his brother's ashes, which are
the ashes of the Mariel boatlift and, after that, of the Revolution. To
summarize. In 2010, Miguel Coyula scattered the ashes of Cuba in the
desert in Utah; he dispersed these ashes in a psychotronic dust, between
mutant and Martian. Seven years later, there are many people who still
haven't noticed.

I like that there is a guy like him in Cuban cinema.

Source: From Joystick to Canon / Regina Coyula – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/from-joystick-to-canon-regina-coyula/ Continue reading
Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches / Iván García

Iván García, 19 June 2017 — For both countries it amounts to a remake of
the Cold War, this time in version 2.0. It will take time to determine
the scope of the contest or if the new diplomatic battle will involve
only bluffs, idle threats and blank bullets.

With an unpredictable buffoon like Donald Trump and a conspiratorial
autocrat like Raul Castro, anything could happen.

The dispute between Cuba and the United States is like an old love
story, one peppered with resentments, disagreements and open admiration
for the latter's opportunities and consumerist lifestyle.

Beginning in January 1959, the dispute between Havana and Washington
took on an ideological tone when a bearded Fidel Castro opted for
communism right under Uncle Sam's nose. The country allied itself with
the former Soviet Union and had the political audacity to confiscate the
properties of U.S. companies and to aim nuclear weapons at Miami and New
York.

Successive American administrations, from Eisenhower to George Bush Jr.,
responded with an embargo, international isolation and subversion in an
attempt to overthrow the Castro dictatorship.

Times changed but objectives remained the same. Castro's Cuba, ruled by
a totalitarian regime which does not respect human rights and represses
those who think differently, is not the kind of partner with which the
White House likes to do business.

But the art of politics allows for double standards. For various
reasons, Persian Gulf monarchies and Asian countries such as China and
Vietnam — countries which have leap-frogged over democracy like Olympic
athletes and are also heavy-handed in their use of power — are allies of
the United States or have been granted most favored nation status by the
U.S. Congress.

To the United States, Cuba — a capricious and arrogant dictatorship
inflicting harm on universally held values — is different. Washington is
correct in theory but not in its solution.

Fifty-five years of diplomatic, economic and financial warfare combined
with a more or less subtle form of subversion, support for dissidents,
the free flow of information, private businesses and an internet free of
censorship have not produced results.

The communist regime is still in place. What to do? Remain politically
blind and declare war on an impoverished neighbor or to try to coexist
peacefully?

Washington's biggest problem is that there is no effective mechanism for
overturning dictatorial or hostile governments by remote control. The
White House repeatedly shoots itself in the foot.

The embargo is more effective as a publicity tool for the Castro regime
than it is for the United States. This is because the military junta,
which controls 90% of the island's economy, can still trade with the
rest of the world.

The very global nature of modern economies limits the effectiveness of a
total embargo. In the case of Cuba, the embargo has more holes in it
than a block of Swiss cheese. Hard currency stores on the island sell
"Made in the USA" household appliances, American cigarettes and the
ubiquitous Coca Cola.

There are those who have advocated taking a hard line when it comes to
the Cuban regime. In practice, their theories have not proved effective,
though they would argue that Obama's approach has not worked either.

They have a point. The nature of a dictatorship is such that it is not
going to collapse when faced with a Trojan Horse. But as its leaders
start to panic, doubts begin to set in among party officials as support
grows among a large segment of the population. And what is most
important for American interests is to win further approval from the
international community for its geopolitical management.

Obama's speech in Havana, in which he spoke of democratic values while
directly addressing a group of wrinkled Caribbean strongmen, was more
effective than a neutron bomb.

There are many Cubans who recognize that the root of their problems —
from a disastrous economy to socialized poverty, daily shortages and a
future without hope — lies in the Palace of the Revolution.

Hitting the dictatorship in its pocketbook has not worked. In Cuba, as
Trump knows all too well, every business and corporation which deals in
hard currency belongs to the government.

And all the money that comes into the country in the form of remittances
ends up, in one form or another, in the state treasury. Sanctions only
affect the people. I am convinced that, if Cuba's autocrats lack for
anything, it is more digits in their secret bank accounts.

Like other politicians and some members of Congress, Donald Trump is
only looking at the Cuban landscape superficially.

The United States can spend millions to support Cuban dissidents (though
96% of the money goes to anti-Castro organizations based in Florida),
launch international campaigns and impose million-dollar fines on
various foreign banks to punish them for doing business with the
Caribbean dictatorship, but they overlook one thing: the regime's
opponents — local figures who would presumably be leaders of any
prolonged, peaceful battle for democracy on the island — are failing.

The reasons vary. They range from intense repression to the opposition's
proverbial inability to turn out even five-hundred people for a rally in
a public square.

I understand the frustration of my compatriots in the diaspora. I too
have suffered. I have
not seen my mother, my sister or my niece in the fourteen years since
the Black Spring in 2003 forced them to leave for Switzerland.

Various strategies have been tried yet the island's autocrats still have
not given up. They are not going to change of their own free will. They
will retreat to the trenches, their natural habitat, where they can
maneuver more easily. And they will have the perfect pretext for
portraying themselves as victims.

As is already well known, the real blockade is the one the government
imposes on its citizens through laws and regulations that hinder them
from accumulating capital, accessing foreign sources of credit and
importing goods legally.

The regime has created anachronistic obstacles to the free importation
of goods from abroad by imposing absurd tariffs and restrictions.

But Cubans want a real democracy, not a caricature. We have to
understand that we must find the solutions to our problems ourselves.

Cuba is a matter for Cubans, wherever they happen to reside. All that's
lacking is for we ourselves to believe it.

Source: Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches / Iván García
– Translating Cuba -
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Cuba policy change: Poultry exports could be impacted
By Mary Sell Montgomery Bureau Jun 25, 2017

MONTGOMERY – Agriculture officials and industry leaders in Alabama for
years have lobbied for expanded exports to socialist Cuba, a country
where they see a promising market for the state's poultry products.

Now they're waiting to see what President Donald Trump's recent, more
restrictive policy change with Cuba will mean for the millions of tons
of poultry that leave Mobile for the island nation every month.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan last week said exports to
Cuba could be impacted by that country's response to the president's
directive.

"Particularly, with Raul Castro stepping down in early '18," McMillan
said. "We're going to be anxious to see what the Cuban government's
policy is going to be.

"If something undesirable happens there, that would be on the Cuba
side," he said. "We hope that doesn't happen."

Earlier this month, Trump said the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S.
travelers to the island, and ban any payments to the military-linked
conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry, the
Associated Press reported.

Trump also declared "the harboring of criminals and fugitives will end.
You have no choice. It will end."

He said the U.S. would consider lifting those and other restrictions
only after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal
changes, including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of
assembly, and holding free elections.

Cuba's foreign minister later rejected the policy change, saying, "We
will never negotiate under pressure or under threat." He also said Cuba
refuses to return U.S. fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba.

About 7 million tons of poultry are shipped from the Port of Mobile each
month to Cuba. But Cuba has other options for importing agriculture
products, McMillan said, including Mexico, South America and Canada.

"They have choices. Some of those choices may be more expensive, that
may be our advantage," said McMillan, who has taken multiple trips to
Cuba and advocated for expanded agriculture exports.

There are human rights violations in China, but no one is cutting off
trade there, McMillan said.

"The bottom line, I think, is that the best way to format change down
there is to continue trade with them," he said.

Armando de Quesada of Hartselle disagrees. He was 10 when he fled Cuba
in 1962. On this issue, he agrees with Trump.

"Any dollars that go to Cuba automatically go to the Castro regime,"
Quesada said. "It's not like here. Over there, the government owns
everything. There's no benefit to the Cuban people."

Growth of private industry is limited, and Quesada doesn't think opening
relations between the two countries will effect change.

"I don't think enriching them helps the cause of freedom," he said. "It
doesn't help the people."

Ag shipments to Cuba weren't part of former President Barack Obama's
policy with the socialist country. In 2000, Congress began allowing a
limited amount of agriculture exports to Cuba.

"We've been trading with them for some time," said Johnny Adams,
executive director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association. While
Obama made it easier, it's still cumbersome, he said.

"We're not allowed to give them credit. They have to pay us up front
through a third party," Adams said. "Normalizing trade would make it a
lot easier."

Like McMillan, Adams has been to Cuba multiple times.

"We have the highest quality, most reasonably priced poultry in the
world and we're 90 miles away," Adams said.

"Hopefully, everyone can sit down and work things out between the two
countries," Adams said. "We've enjoyed our relationship with the Cuban
people, and would like to see it get better."

Source: Cuba policy change: Poultry exports could be impacted | State
Capital | timesdaily.com -
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Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions
OPINION By Jonathan C. Brown - Special to the American-Statesman
LYNNE SLADKY
Posted: 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017

President Donald Trump's reversal of his predecessor's Cuban policies
proves once again that all politics are local. The White House says that
the regime of Raúl Castro should reform its own political structure,
become more democratic and release political prisoners. However, the
U.S. does not impose these broad internal reforms on other nations such
as Russia and Saudi Arabia. Why treat Cuba differently?
Only one American serviceman has died confronting Havana. He was an Air
Force pilot shot down in Cuban airspace during the 1962 missile crisis.
On the other hand, Washington has renewed political and trade relations
with the autocratic regimes in China and Vietnam despite their armed
forces having killed thousands of American soldiers in the Korean and
Vietnamese wars.

Washington continues to punish Cuba because of U.S. domestic politics.
Nearly a million refugees fled from Cuba since 1959, and most settled in
South Florida. Those who came for political reasons formed a powerful
lobby that has been instrumental in the making of every Republican
president from Richard Nixon to, yes, Trump. Republican Party debts
remain more important in the U.S. relationship with Cuba than the
island's actual behavior on the international scene.

Here is where domestic politics enters the equation. Punishing Cuba
satisfies only one dwindling constituency in this nation — Cuban
refugees mainly from the first two decades of the revolution. U.S. Rep.
Mario Díaz-Balart — who stood prominently at Trump's side as he signed
the renewed restrictions — serves as a case in point.

In the 1950s, the congressman's father, Rafael Díaz-Balart, served as
Fulgencio Batista's deputy minister of the interior, the ministry
responsible for internal security and running the prisons. Rafael
Díaz-Balart and other officers of Batista's dictatorship fled from Cuba
during the first weeks of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959.

What is more, the elder Díaz-Balart's sons have family ties to the
Castros. Mario and his brother Lincoln, the ex-U.S. congressman from
South Florida, are cousins of Fidel Castro's first-born son, Fidelito,
who remains loyal to the revolution. They owe this family link to their
aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart, who married Fidel before he began his rebellion
against the Batista regime. The couple divorced in 1954 while Fidel was
spending time in brother-in-law Rafael's prisons.

This first wave of pro-Batista refugees established several anti-Castro
movements in the Miami and New York areas as early as 1959. Soon
thereafter, they were joined in exile by a massive wave of politicos who
had opposed Batista along with Fidel but found themselves pushed aside
as Castro's guerrilla revolutionaries seized control of most
governmental institutions. Among the refugees were Catholic activists
and middle-class youths from the universities whose departure from Cuba
by the thousands was financed by the CIA and other U.S. agencies. For
more than a half century they have been taking their revenge on those
countrymen who remained with Fidel.

By 1981, the most politicized of these two groups — the Batistianos and
the exiled moderate revolutionists — joined together in the Cuban
American National Foundation (CANF).

Modeled on pro-Israeli Jewish groups, the CANF dedicated itself to
lobbying the U.S. government to tighten restrictions on American travel
and trade with Cuba. The foundation raised money for political
candidates mainly but not exclusively from the Republican Party who
promised no quarter for Castro's communist dictatorship. Their effective
anti-communist campaign lasted well beyond the fall of Fidel's chief
benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Yet, Fidel did not fall. Fidel was able to rule for 47 years, retire
peacefully and leave power to his brother.

Trump's directive will achieve two out of three of its intentions. 1) It
will reduce U.S. investments and tourism in Cuba. 2) It will satisfy the
resentments of the first generation Cuban-Americans for the loss of
their homeland to the revolutionaries; in gratitude, they will support
the president's re-election in 2020.

But the new Cuba policy will not promote democracy on the island but
reinforce autocracy at the expense of the average Cuban's well-being.
This has been the legacy of the U.S. economic blockade of the past 60 years.

Brown is a professor of history at the University of Texas.

Source: Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions -
http://www.mystatesman.com/news/opinion/commentary-the-real-reason-trump-wanted-cuba-restrictions/hAIPJBqNcqdk9fw7G7o28K/ Continue reading
Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 19 June 2017 — "Impotence." This is the word that a
performer in the Guiñol Theater (located in the basement of the FOCSA
building in Havana's Vedado district) uses when asked her opinion of the
new Trump Doctrine regarding Cuba.

On a day of African heat, a group of eight waits to navigate the
Internet in a hall administered by the state-run telecommunications
monopoly ETECSA. The performer exchanges opinions with the others
regarding the event of the week: the repeal by Donald Trump's
administration of Obama's policy of détente.

On the street, for those Cubans who earn only token salaries, breakfast
on coffee alone and complain constantly about the inefficiency of public
services and the government's inability to improve the quality of life,
political machination is just an annoyance.

Human Rights, democracy and political liberties all sound good, but they
are not understood in their full context. At least, this is what can be
deduced from the opinions expressed by the people waiting in line. Some
make clear that they are speaking from their personal perspective, that
they watched Trump on Telesur but have yet to read the measures for
themselves.

For lack of time, and the propaganda fatigue brought on by the barrage
from the official press–which has caused many compatriots to decide to
not keep up with news reports but instead take shelter in social-media
gossip–the group waiting to go online is shooting to kill in all directions.

"Everybody talks about 'the people,' about the 'dissidents,' about the
Cuban American congressmen over there, about the government over here,
but nobody has hit on the formula for us to derive benefits from a
particular policy. Obama tried, but the gerontocracy that rules us did
not allow private business owners to get ahead. I feel like a hostage,
to Castro and to Trump. A puppet," the performer confesses.

One lady, a loquacious and chain-smoking housewife, asks, in a tone of
disgust, "What have the people gained from Obama's policy? Nothing." And
she explains to herself, "Those people (the government) don't want to
change. They will not give up," she says ironically, "the honey of
power. Trump is a crazy man, a clown. The guy is a pill. His speech was
pure theater. It's all cheap politicking. And in the middle of it all,
we Cubans are–and will remain–screwed. Nobody can change this [regime],
and nobody can take it down, either."

A self-employed worker affirms that he does not see a solution to
Cubans' problems because "we haven't had the balls to confront the
arbitrariness of the government. To hold on and and get screwed, that's
our fate. With all his yammering, the only thing Trump will achieve is
that the 'revolutionary reaffirmation' marches will start up again,
condemning 'yankee interference.' You can already see that coming."

At a park in Old Havana there are no optimists to be found, either. On
the contrary. "Damn, brother, I thought that The One was going to put
back the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot law. The only way this shit's going to be
resolved is letting people leave Cuba. You think that over here the
folks are going to sign up with the Ladies in White to get beaten up?
No, man, people will mind their own business, getting by under the table
and trying to scrape together a few pesos. There is no way that Cubans
will take to the streets. Unless it's to get in line at foreign
consulates, or if Gente de Zona put on a free concert," declares a young
man in the Parque del Curita, waiting for the P-12 line to Santiago de
las Vegas.

Almost 60 years since the protracted and sterile political arm-wrestling
between the various US administrations and the Castro brothers, a broad
segment of the citizenry sees itself caught in a no-man's land–in a
futile battle for which nobody, not the Cuban rulers nor the US, has
asked their permission. They think also that political naiveté has
always reigned supreme in the White House, given the oft-repeated
intentions to export democratic values to a fraternity of autocrats with
the mentality of gangsters and neighborhood troublemakers.

"It is a narrative replete with personal ambitions, pseudo-patriotic
elation and cheap nationalism, which has served only to consolidate a
history of sovereign and intransigent rulers who never allowed North
American interference. It's fine for a tale, but this politics of
confrontation on both sides has left only one winner: the regime of
Fidel and Raúl Castro. The rest of us have been the losers. Those who
were not in agreement with the Revolution or who wanted to emigrate were
called 'gusanos' [worms]. Families were split up and kept from having
contact with relatives in the US. The result of all this is what we see
today: a great number of Cubans who cannot tolerate those who think
differently from them, many who want to emigrate, women who don't want
to have children in their homeland and, in general, a great indifference
on the part of citizens towards the problems of their country," explains
a Havana sociologist.

The official reaction has been restrained. For now. A functionary with
the Communist Party assures me that "the government is not going to wage
a frontal campaign to discredit Trump. Yes, of course, the various
institutions of the State will mobilize to demonstrate that the
government has it all under control. But Trump's speech was more noise
than substance. Except for the matter of US citizens' travel to Cuba,
which undoubtedly will affect the national economy, the rest [of the
Obama-era policies] remains in place, because the military-run
businesses are only two hotels.

The owner of a paladar [private restaurant] in Havana believes that "if
the yumas [Cuban slang for Americans] stop coming there will be effects
on the private sector, because almost all of them stay in private homes,
travel around the city in convertible almendrones [classic cars], and
eat lunch and dinner in private paladares."

The news was not good for Cubans who had plans to emigrate to the US.
"Many dreamers thought that Trump was a cool guy and would reinstate the
Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy. I was not expecting as much, but I thought at
least that the Cuban-American congressmen would influence Trump's
allowing the exceptional granting of visas to Cubans stuck in Central
America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and reactivating the asylum for Cuban
medical workers who have deserted their missions," said a engineer who
dreams of resettling in Miami.

The perception right now among Cubans on the street is that they are
back to a familiar scenario. One of trenches. Replete with
anti-imperialist rhetoric and zero tolerance for liberal thought of any
stripe. The scenario most favorable for the hierarchs who dress in olive
green.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubans-feel-like-hostages-to-both-castro-and-trump-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
A Bad Bet / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 13 June 2017 — Of the real and supposed problems that
the Cuban Revolution proposed to solve, as the basis of its historical
necessity, after more than half a century of exercising absolute power,
many have not been solved, the majority have been aggravated, and others
have emerged that did not exist before.

The housing shortage, the thousands of families living in precarious and
overcrowded conditions, and more thousands housed in inadequate
locations, constitute a clear demonstration of the Revolution's failure.
Insufficient and inefficient public transit, for years incapable of
meeting the minimum needs of the population, and the appalling and
unstable public services of all types, show another face of the failure.
If we add to this the loss of important agricultural outputs, the
obsolescence of the industrial infrastructure (lacking upgrades and
needed investments), plus a generalized lack of productivity, the
situation becomes chaotic.

Nor have the political and the social spheres achieved what was
promised, what with the continued absence of freedoms and basic rights
for citizens, as well as low wages and pensions, covert racial and
gender discrimination, street and domestic violence, incivility,
antisocial behaviors, corruption, and disregard for flora and fauna.

The blame for this string of calamities has always been cast upon the
embargo–but even back when it went unmentioned while the country was
benefitting from enormous Soviet subsidies* these problems went
unresolved. At that time, the abundant resources were squandered on
foreign wars, backed insurgencies, absurd and grandiose failed plans,
and other frivolities.

The socialist state and its leaders, albeit abusing the revolutionary
rhetoric, have reliably demonstrated in Cuba that the system does not
work and is unfeasible–just as happened in the other socialist countries
which erroneously bet on it.

To propose a "prosperous, efficient and sustainable socialism" is to
propose a negation, and it constitutes no more than another utopia to
deceive the citizenry and detain the march of time a little
longer–knowing that, at the end, it will fail as it has up to now.
Socialism, perhaps attractive in theory, is in practice a failure. A bet
on it, in any of its forms, is to ensure a loss.

Translator's Notes:

*Before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the start of Cuba's
"Special Period."

Source: A Bad Bet / Fernando Damaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/a-bad-bet-fernando-damaso/ Continue reading
The Cuban Republic: Buried by Official Decree / Iván García

Iván García, 24 May 2017 — May 20 of this year with mark the 115th
anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Cuba. In the Throne Room of
the Palace of the Captains General, a building which now serves as the
City Museum, Tomás Estrada Palma — born in Bayamo in 1835, died in
Santiago de Cuba in 1908 — would go down in history as the first
popularly elected president of the republic.

With heat bouncing on the asphalt so intensely that even stray dogs seek
shelter under covered walkways, I go out to inquire about the May 20
anniversary.

Four pre-university students in their blue uniforms have skipped class
to go to Córdoba Park, a free wifi zone in the 10 de Octubre district.
They want to check out their Facebook wall, chat with relatives in Miami
and read the latest soccer blog from the Spanish newspaper Marca.

Though the heat is stifling, the young men do not even notice it. They
are eating ice cream cones, joking, gesturing and shouting at each
other. Striking up a conversation with them is easy. They are
seventeen-years-old and all four of them say that they hope to go to
college when they finish high school. When I ask them if they know on
what date the Republic of Cuba was founded, they hesitate and look at
each other, trying to come up with a correct answer.

"January 1, right?" two of them respond simultaneously.

"You guys are so dumb," says another, mocking his cohorts. "Independence
day is 10 October, when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes freed his slaves."

Another justifies his ignorance with the excuse that he does not like
history. "That subject is a drag. You mechanically learn to answer exam
questions like that, but the next day no one remembers the dates or what
they commemorate."

A man selling popcorn, who has been eavesdropping on the conversation,
sums it up by saying, "There are a lot of opinions on this topic.
Whether it was January 1 or October 10. But I think it was 1492, when
Christopher Columbus discovered the island."

It seems only academicians, professors, students of history and
well-informed citizens can explain the significance of May 20, 1902 in
the context of national history. Most Cubans are unaware of it. Keep in
mind that around 70% of the current population was born after 1959.

For people over the age of sixty-five like Giraldo — from his wheelchair
he asks people walking along the side streets of the nursing home where
he lives for cigarettes and money — the date brings back fond memories.

"It was the most important day of the year," he says. "The tradition was
to debut a new pair of shoes and a change of clothes. Cuban flags were
hung from balconies. I would go with my parents and brothers to Puerto
Avenue. In Central Park there were public concerts by the municipal
band. The atmosphere was festive. But this government erased it all from
popular memory. Now the dates that are celebrated are those that suit them."

While Cubans living in Miami enthusiastically celebrate May 20, in Cuba
it is a day like any other. That is how the military regime wants it.

Dictatorships have a habit of manipulating events. Just as the official
narrative would have us believe that José Martí was an admirer of
Marxist theories, so too does a military confrontation take on aspects
of science fiction. This is what happened in 1983 in Granada. According
to the Castros' version of events, during the invasion of the country by
U.S. forces, a group of Cuban workers sacrificed themselves while
clutching the Grenadian flag.

For Cuba's ruling military junta, the past is something to be erased.
Economic, urban infrastructure and productivity gains achieved in the
more than half century that the republic existed do not matter.

In an article published in Cubanet, independent journalist Gladys
Linares recalls that in 1902, as a result of the war for independence,
"agriculture, livestock and manufacturing were in a disastrous state. In
a gesture of great sensitivity, Estrada Palma's first action was to pay
members of the Liberation Army and to pay off the war bonds issued by
the Republic in Arms. To do this, he secured a loan from an American
lender, Speyer Bank, for $35 million at 5% interest, which had already
been repaid by 1943."

For its part, EcuRed, the Cuban government's version of wikipedia,
states that "Estrada Palma was noted for being extremely thrifty during
his presidency (1902-1906). In 1905 the Cuban treasury held the
astonishing sum of 24,817,148 pesos and 96 centavos, of which the loan
accounted for only 3.5 million pesos. The accumulation of so much money
compelled Estrada Palma to invest in public works. The government
allotted 300,000 pesos to be used in every province for the construction
of roads and highways as well as more than 400,000 for their upkeep and
repair.

The state-run press labels this period with the derogatory term
"pseudo-republic" or "hamstrung republic."

"They have done everything imaginable to obviate or destroy it. From
producing television programs such as "San Nicolás del Peladero," which
ridiculed the venal politicians of the time, to minimizing the advances
in material well-being achieved by various sectors of society. But when
you review economic statistics from the period 1902 to 1958, you realize
that, despite imperfections, there was more growth," says a retired
historian.

He adds, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. The Republic
of Cuba was founded on May 20, 1902. In the future, setting ideology
aside, May 20 should be included in the schedule of national holidays
and should be celebrated once again. Everything began on that day."

That remains to be seen. For the moment, new (and not so new)
generations are unaware of the significance of May 20.

This ignorance, a willful act of forgetting, is part of the late Fidel
Castro's strategy of building a nation from the ground up, burying its
customs and values, rewriting history to suit his aims. And he succeeded.

Source: The Cuban Republic: Buried by Official Decree / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-republic-buried-by-official-decree-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Independent journalist detained in eastern Cuba
June 23, 2017 5:12 PM ET

New York, June 23, 2017--Cuban authorities should immediately release
independent journalist Manuel Alejandro León Velázquez and return his
equipment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. State
security forces and Interior Ministry officials detained León Velázquez
around 4 p.m. yesterday in the eastern province of Guantánamo, according
to his news website Diario de Cuba and the Cuban Institute for Freedom
of Expression and the Press.

The journalist's neighbor, Isael Poveda, told Diario de Cuba that he saw
authorities arrive at León Velázquez's home with an order to confiscate
"counter-revolutionary" equipment. According to Poveda, who is an
opposition activist, police arrested León Velázquez and took a computer,
a Sony camera, a copy of the Cuban constitution, and work documents from
the journalist's home. CPJ was unable to determine what documents were
confiscated.

"Independent journalists in Cuba should be able to work without the
constant threat of arbitrary detention," said CPJ Senior Program
Coordinator for the Americas Carlos Lauría. "Cuban authorities should
release Manuel Alejandro León Velázquez and return his equipment
immediately."

León Velázquez covers general news in Guantánamo and other eastern Cuban
states for the independent news website Diario de Cuba. Normando
Hernández, director of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and
the Press, told CPJ today the organization is aware of the case, and has
spoken with León Velázquez's editor, who confirmed the arrest.

León Velázquez has been detained on several occasions, including in
October 2016 while reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, and
in February 2017, when police detained him for two hours at a checkpoint
on the border between Guantánamo and Santiago de Cuba province, Diario
de Cuba reported.

A September 2016 CPJ special report on press freedom in Cuba found that
independent journalists there continue to face the threat of arbitrary
detention, and that vague and outdated laws and limitations on internet
access continue to slow progress on press freedom.

Source: Independent journalist detained in eastern Cuba - Committee to
Protect Journalists -
https://cpj.org/2017/06/independent-journalist-detained-in-eastern-cuba.php Continue reading
Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba?
Elliott Abrams, Newsweek • June 22,
This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

Congratulations to President Trump for a serious (though not total)
reversal of the terrible Obama policy toward Cuba.

Why? Because the Obama policy was values-free, granting all sorts of
advantages to the Castro regime in exchange for nothing.

That was no bargained-for exchange, winning more freedom for the Cuban
people. Instead it was a prime example of Obama's ideological politics,
abandoning decades of American policy that he thought right-wing or
old-fashioned and wrong and in the process strengthening the vicious
Castro regime and paying little attention to the people of the island.

In the years since Obama acted, human rights in Cuba have gotten worse.
If Obama's approach was an experiment, it has failed. Human Rights
Watch's World Report 2016 said this of Cuba:

The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public
criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish
its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders,
independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in
recent years.

The Miami Herald's lead analyst on Latin America, Andres Oppenheimer,
wrote this in July 2016:

One year after Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington on July 20, 2015,
Cuba's human rights situation is much worse. It's time for Latin America
and the U.S. to stop clapping, and demand that Cuba's dictatorship start
allowing fundamental freedoms
On the first anniversary since Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington,
D.C., one thing is clear: The reestablishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic
ties — which I have cautiously supported in this column — has not helped
improve by one iota Cuba's human rights situation. On the contrary,
human rights abuses have worsened.

That's a fair epitaph for the Obama policy: it made human rights in Cuba
worse. And that is why it was politically sensible and morally right to
end it.

Trump is maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing flights and
cruise ships to Cuba, but trying to end the phony individual beach
gambols that masquerade as something more serious. And he is ending the
bonanza for the Cuban military, which owns most of Cuba's tourist industry.

The overall effect of Trump's moves is logically to push Americans
toward group visits that have a serious purpose beyond tourism, and
toward individual Cuban economic efforts like Air BnB accommodations,
rooms in private homes, and small private restaurants—all of which help
the Cuban people.

And if the regime is caught between the people's desire for economic
progress and the end of Obama's foolish policy, perhaps this will push
Castro to allowing even more private economic activity.

Hats off to Senator Marco Rubio, a key architect of the new policy whose
pressure on the Trump administration has now put human rights in Cuba
right back at the heart of U.S. policy. And to the President, who made
the right decision just a few months into his administration.

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as
deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor
in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised
U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

Source: Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba? -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/elliott-abrams-trump-made-move-145325141.html Continue reading
Editorial: Trump, Obama and subjugated Cubans
DDC | Madrid | 22 de Junio de 2017 - 14:21 CEST.

Cuba's official television aired Donald Trump's recent appearance at the
Manuel Artime Theater in Miami. That makes two speeches by US presidents
that Cubans on the Island have been able to watch recently.

In March of 2016, at his appearance in Havana, Barack Obama proposed a
policy based on the creation of opportunities, with an emphasis on the
empowerment of entrepreneurs. Brimming with optimism, Obama expressed
his belief that economic liberalization would spawn the democratization
of Cuban society – despite the examples of China and Vietnam. His words
sparked widespread popular support. At the same time, human rights
violations increased, and the military elite, now converted into a
business group, exploited the new scenario.

Barack Obama underestimated the degree to which independent
entrepreneurs are subjugated by the regime, and the military elite
stifles any kind of economic competition. With unintended effects, his
policy of empowerment ended up actually abetting the oppressors.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has just announced that he will be
relentless against this elite. His coercive turn in this regard is the
right move, but he has failed to generate broad support for it in the
US. And his speech at the Manuel Artime theater, rife with electoral
rhetoric, generated a counterproductive image for a people tired of the
confrontational gestures.

Those who advise the US president ought to take better advantage of the
Castro regime's calculated decision to televise his speeches. Trump
should not only send a clear message to Cuban exiles in Miami, but also
to the several million Cubans on the Island who can see him.

Source: Editorial: Trump, Obama and subjugated Cubans | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498134062_32050.html Continue reading
Editorial: Trump Gets It Right
DDC | Madrid | 22 de Junio de 2017 - 11:23 CEST.

In his speech in Miami, US President Donald Trump rightly divided Cuban
society into two groups: the military and the people. And his criticism
of the regime did not center on its ideology, on the single party, or
even on Raúl Castro. Rather, he pointed directly at the military junta,
and therein lies the greatest difference with Obama's policy.

As he acknowledged, the aim of his new policy is to benefit the people
of Cuba by depriving the military of opportunities, an approach that
recognizes the corruption in Cuba's army and Cuban intelligence and
security services, capable of dominating all the economic exchange
between Cuba and the US in its effort to establish a monopoly.

Referring to the need for Venezuela to democratize, the US president
conveyed another message to the Island's military by referring not only
to its economic corruption, but also its responsibility for the
political repression in the South American country.

Donald Trump declared his respect for Cuba's sovereignty, made clear
that his Administration has cards in its hands, that the US embassy
remains open, and that it is willing to sit down at the negotiating table.

Source: Editorial: Trump Gets It Right | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498123431_32038.html Continue reading
Will New Cuba Travel Policy Hurt U.S. Airlines?
Zacks Equity Research

On Jun 16, President Trump announced some changes to current U.S. policy
on Cuba, which were put into action by his predecessor Barack Obama. The
new policy is in line with Trump's promise during the campaigning phase.
In fact, Trump had reportedly tweeted in November last year that he
might terminate the deal, inked by Obama, in the event of Cuba not doing
enough for its people.

Even though, he did not scrap the entire deal, the President announced
certain changes in inline with his "America First" principle. Moving
ahead, the new administration aims to restrict the flow of US money
flowing into the oppressive Cuban military regime. Also, the new policy
is dedicated to betterment of the Cuban people by pressurizing the
island's government to broaden the private sector and reduce the
military's interference in every profitable unit of the country.

In fact, to keep the Cuban military at bay, the President's policy aims
to do away with travel directed toward benefitting the military,
intelligence or security services of the island nation. Under the new
restrictions, travel to Cuba on an individual basis would not be
allowed. Even though individual travel has been banned, group travel is
allowed.

A Brief Flashback

In 2014, President Obama had called for the restoration of diplomatic
ties with Cuba after more than 50 years. As part of that process, travel
restrictions were eased. Subsequently, many U.S. airlines started
operating commercial scheduled flights to Cuba.

In Jun 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized six
U.S.-based carriers to operate scheduled flights to nine second-tier
Cuban cities. The first scheduled commercial flight to Cuba from the
U.S. was operated by JetBlue Airways JBLU.

JetBlue Airways carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete
list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Notably, the approval to fly to Havana came two months later in August.
The Havana routes were highly in demand among the US carriers as they
collectively applied for the approval to operate nearly 60 flights to
Havana on a daily basis. The erstwhile agreement with Obama allowed for
only 20 daily roundtrip flights between the nations.

Would Individual Travel Ban Hurt Airlines?

Currently, the likes of American Airlines Group AAL, United Continental
Holdings UAL, Delta Air Lines DAL, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines
LUV and Alaska Air Group ALK operate scheduled commercial flights to
Cuba. But following the revised order on Cuba, the carriers have adopted
a wait and watch policy regarding their operations to the nation.

Airline heavyweights like Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have
reportedly said that while their existing operations to the nation would
continue, they would abide by any changes that might take place
following the announcement of the new policy.

We note that the travel demand to Cuba had fallen short of expectations.
Consequently, the likes of American Airlines trimmed their services to
the nation. Lower-than-expected demand also caused the likes of Spirit
Airlines SAVE and Frontier Airlines to terminate flights to the nation.
Despite this factor, the new policy to ban individual travel is likely
to hurt the top line of the US carriers operating in the country to some
extent.

In fact, a recent Reuters report had suggested that cruise operators and
airlines in the US could lose approximately $712 million in revenues on
an annual basis, if Obama's policy was entirely reversed. While the
entire policy has not been consigned to flames by the new US government,
the prohibition on individual travel to the country might still shrink
the revenues of carriers (through lower travel demand) operating in
Cuba, a popular tourist destination.

However, only time will tell the extent to which revenues are actually
hurt. Consequently, we expect investor focus to remain on the issue,
going forward

Source: Will New Cuba Travel Policy Hurt U.S. Airlines? -
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/topstocks/will-new-cuba-travel-policy-hurt-us-airlines/ar-BBCU9p2 Continue reading
Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't take effect soon
Bart Jansen , USA TODAY Published 4:29 p.m. ET June 16, 2017 | Updated
5:49 p.m. ET June 16, 2017

Travel to Cuba won't be changing soon.

While President Trump announced Friday that he is "immediately"
canceling Obama's deal with Cuba, the reversal relies on regulations
that could take months — or years — to finalize.

Trump said he will strictly enforce the prohibition against Cuban travel
for tourism using rules that provide only 12 reasons, such as family
visits, educational activities and athletic competitions, for
entering the country.

"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law," Trump said.
"We will enforce the ban on tourism."

Ultimately, Trump proposed to block travel that benefits the Cuban
military, intelligence or security services. In order to accomplish
that, individual travel would be prohibited — people visiting the
country would need to go in groups.

The detailed regulatory proposals weren't released Friday. Trump's
national security memo on Cuba asked the departments of Treasury and
State to develop regulations within 30 days. The rules would then be
published for public comment and possible revisions.

The Treasury Department, which licenses Cuba travel, said in a statement
that individual travel will no longer be allowed for purposes such as
education under pursuit of an academic degree. "The traveler's schedule
of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess," the
department said.

Instead, the department will authorize group travel under the auspices
of an organization that maintains a full-time schedule of activities
that enhance contact with Cuban people, support civil society and
promote independence from Cuban authorities.

Airlines competed to provide flights after the Obama administration
initiated a resumption in diplomatic relations between the countries for
the first time in more than 50 years. Airlines had provided charter
flights for decades, but the restoration of ties allowed the resumption
of scheduled service considered key for business and personal ties.

JetBlue Airways pioneered flights in August to Santa Clara and other
airlines followed suit, with the first flights to Havana in November.

"JetBlue is committed to continuing air service between the U.S. and
Cuba. We plan to operate in full compliance of the new president's new
policy," JetBlue said in a statement Friday.

But with sluggish sales, some airlines have reduced the number of routes
and three carriers – Spirit, Frontier and Silver – have abandoned the
routes for now.

The remaining airlines are studying Trump's proposal while continuing to
fly.

"We are currently reviewing these policy changes and will continue to
follow this closely," said Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United Airlines.

Delta Air Lines said it would continue to fly non-stop to Havana from
New York's John F. Kennedy, Atlanta and Miami.

"Delta Air Lines will adhere to any changes in the regulations announced
by the Trump administration regarding travel to Cuba," the carrier said.

Leigh Barnes, regional director for Intrepid Travel, a tour company
which has brought 714 American passengers to Cuba in 47 trips since
2015, said tour operators would face stricter government audits about
travelers belonging to the 12 allowed categories. But Barnes expected
airlines to continue scheduled flights to Cuba, rather than revert to
charter flights, as travelers adapt their plans to join person-to-person
tour groups.

"While demand for commercial flights remains to be seen, historically,
the airlines have done well to manage their yields by shifting to
smaller planes or slightly lower frequency of departures," Barnes said.
"There are still a lot of meaningful tourism offerings for American
travelers. We expect airlines to keep servicing these routes and we are
excited to continue welcoming American travelers to Cuba."

Source: President Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't be immediate -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/cuba-travel-airlines/102926572/ Continue reading
Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 8 June 2017 — The die is cast. At the special session of
the National Assembly of People's Power held on May 31 and June 1 at the
Palace of Conventions, delegates have, as expected, approved the
economic plan for 2016 to 2021 and a national plan for economic and
social development for 2030.

Were it not so serious, it would seem like a sketch from the late night
American comedy show "Saturday Night Live," especially since the
parliamentary debates were more farcical than rational.

Numerous "discussions" were televised. Not even Pánfilo — an elderly
character created by the famous Cuban comedian Luis Silva and a man
obsessed with his ration book — generates as many contradictions and
absurdities.

Committees made up of so-called peoples' representatives held debates,
attempted to change one word in a paragraph, tweaked a concept and
championed trivialities in order to justify two days of meetings in an
air-conditioned facility where attendees were provided with breakfast,
lunch and dinner along with breaks for coffee and mineral water.

Mercenaries of a different kind. No parliamentarian asked the recently
reappointed economics and planning minister, Marino Murillo, to specify
just how much capital one would be allowed to accumulate in Cuba. In
other words, how rich could one be?

A few official reports offer some clues. The regime is already preparing
a series of measures aimed at limiting or restricting the prosperity of
citizens and small business owners.

Lucio, an economist, believes that, "in addition to legal restrictions,
they will issue repressive rulings and adopt tax provisions to curtail
wealth. Those who accumulate certain sums of money that the government
considers excessive will be subject to a severe fiscal knife. In the
worst cases, they will face forfeiture or criminal sanctions. I see no
other way to curtail the accumulation of capital."

There is a dreadful incongruity to the new legislative stew. While the
island's ruling military junta grants approval and legal status to
private businesses, it also uses a range of prohibitions to limit their
growth and to prevent them from prospering or making money.

The island's chieftains are paralyzed by fear that the state will lose
its control over society.

They are worried that, as successful mid-size businesses grow, they will
move large sums of money that could exceed a million dollars and create
supply chains that will benefit society.

Or that the owner of a restaurant will open two or three branches,
expanding within the same city or into other provinces, and acquire a
million dollars or more in funding through bank loans or other sources.

Of course, if a private businessman plays his cards right, he will do
well, even earning annual profits in the six figures. That is the basis
of national economic growth. As long as they respect the law and pay
their taxes, bring on successful private business ventures!

But the government has a specific strategy. The only companies that may
accumulate millions of dollars and enter into joint-ventures with
foreign firms are state-owned enterprises. In other words, GAESA-style
military-run conglomerates or others of the same ilk. It is the state
playing with capitalism.

I did not hear any voices in the boring, monotone Cuban parliament
asking for explanations or details about how Gaviota and Rafin's
multi-million dollar earnings would ultimately be used.*

By 2020 Gaviota will operate 50,000 hotel rooms as well as marinas, golf
courses and stores. Within the next ten years the military-run
conglomerate will become the largest hotel group in the Americas yet the
whereabouts of its revenues are unknown.

Rafin, which according to sources is an acronym for Raúl and Fidel
Investments, is an opaque corporation in a country with a planned
economy that has never stated publicly what its sources of capital are.

This mysterious company bought Telecom Italia's stake in a joint venture
with the Cuban government that was intended to modernize the state-owned
telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. Rafin is now the sole owner of ETECSA.

What is it doing with its multi-million dollar profits? Are
parliamentary deputies not concerned that ETECSA has not created a
social fund to benefit primary, secondary and pre-university schools,
whose makeshift computer labs lack internet access?

Furthermore, they did not complain about the high prices ETECSA charges
for its mobile phone, wifi and internet services, a subject much
discussed in online discussions sponsored by official media outlets and
about which readers have expressed their frustration. Or about the
alarming prices for goods sold at hard currency retail stores. Or, even
more scandalous, the prices of cars on display in large, well-lit showrooms.

Nor did any parliamentarians demand that state-run companies lower the
prices of household appliances, televisions and smartphones at places
like the Samsung store on 3rd Avenue and 70th Street in Miramar in
western Havana, where a Galaxy S7 edge costs the equivalent of $1,300
and a seventy-inch 4K television goes for around $5,000.

The fact that the state is planning the lives of its citizens through
2030 seems like science fiction when no one knows how we will make it
even to year's end. The average Cuban pays no attention to parliamentary
debates or to party politics.

People often look the other way. Apathy, dissimulation and indifference
to national affairs pave the way for regime's excesses.

Workers attend labor union meetings where, without giving them any
thought, they approve economic proposals they do not want and do not
understand. And in their neighborhoods and districts, they vote
mechanically for candidates to the National Assembly who solve nothing.
Cuba has become a nation of domesticated zombies.

Everyone complains quietly at home to his or her family members,
neighbors and friends. But in workplaces and schools, they feign loyalty
to the government, especially when it comes time to have a document
approved or to vote in sterile elections. We have gotten what we deserve.

Deng Xiaoping, a diehard communist and father of China's economic
reforms, understood that making money was neither shameful nor a crime.
"It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white. What matters is if
catches mice," he said in 1960. In Cuba's dictatorship, the cat wears
olive green battle fatigues.

*Translator's note: Gaviota operates a chain of tourist hotels
throughout the island and offers other tourism related services.
According to Bloomberg, Rafin SA "operates as a diversified financial
services company." In 2011 it bought Telecom Italia's 27% stake in the
Cuban state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA for $706 million.

Source: Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/being-rich-is-banned-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy
By TERESA FRONTADO & NANCY KLINGENER & ADRIANNE GONZALEZ & HOLLY PRETSKY
& ISABELLA CUETO • JUN 16, 2017

President Donald Trump Friday announced new restrictions on travel and
business with Cuba, reversing some of the relaxed new relations
instituted two years ago by President Barack Obama.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's
completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior
administration's terrible deal with the Castro regime," he said "They
made a deal with a government that spreads violence and instability in
the region."

"Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the
United States of America," he said. "Our new policy begins with strictly
enforcing U.S. law."

He also called for the release of political prisoners and the scheduling
of free elections.

"We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo," he said.

"We now hold the cards. The previous administration's easing of
restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They
only enrich the Cuban regime," he said. "The profits from investment and
tourism flowed directly to the military."

The new moves primarily affect anyone doing business with the Cuban
military, which controls some of the major tourism infrastructure in the
country, as well as individual travelers who were able to visit the
country more freely under "people-to-people" exchanges.

Trump announced the changes in front of a supportive crowd at the Manuel
Artime Theater in the heart of Little Havana. The theater is named in
honor of a leader of Brigade 2506, who participated in the Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in April 1961.

"We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this
long reign of suffering to an end," Trump said. "And I do believe that
end is in the very near future."

He challenged Cuba to "come to the table" for a new agreement that was
in the best interest "of their people and our people and also
Cuban-Americans."

"Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic
freedoms," he said. "Return the fugitives of American justice."

"When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be
ready willing and able to come to the table to negotiate that much
better deal for Cubans and Americans," he said. "Our embassy remains
open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better
path."

Praise from Florida politicians

Sen. Marco Rubio praised his onetime rival for the Republican
Presidential nomination.

"You will no longer have to endure the spectacle of an American
president doing the wave with a ruthless dictator in a baseball game,"
Rubio said, referring to Obama's historic visit to Cuba last year.

"This sends a strong message," Rubio said. "We will work with the people
of Cuba but we will not empower their oppressors."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also praised Trump's changed position.

"Today we have a president that understands America must stand for
freedom," Scott said. He said Obama's deal with Cuba was "a capitulation."

Trump's new directive leaves many of the Obama-era policies unchanged.
The new embassies in Cuba and Washington, D.C. will remain open and the
wet-foot dry-foot policy will not be reinstated. Cuban-Americans will
continue to be able to travel to the island and send remittances to
their families still in Cuba.

The crowd at the theater in Little Havana were appreciative of Trump.
Fermin Vazquez was born in Cuba and has been a U.S. citizen for 40
years. He arrived at 6:45 a.m. to be first in line. "I would follow
Trump everywhere," he said.

At Versailles, the restaurant on Calle Ocho that has become a
traditional gathering point when Cuba is in the national news, some
exiles passionately debated the U.S. policy toward the island:

Oswaldo Inguanzo, 80, a veteran from Brigade 2506, was part of the group
that met with candidate Trump last year to discuss Cuba and America's
approach to the island.

"The Brigade had never supported a presidential candidate before," he
said. "But we sent two letters, one to the then-President Obama, who
didn't even acknowledge us, and the other to Trump, who immediately
accepted."

"He didn't disappoint me," Inguanzo said after Trump's speech. "I felt
he was sincere, so I came here today to see that he fulfills his promise."

Outside near the theater, people began gathering hours before Trump
arrived. Some waited out the rain under awnings and overhangs. Others
allowed themselves to be soaked.

'The Cuban people are the ones that are going to be harmed'

Marla Recio said she has a business in Cuba called Havana Reverie. It
organizes weddings, birthday parties and corporate events for visiting
Americans in Cuba.

"If he decreases travel and cuts that out completely, that means the end
of my business. I'll have to do something else in another different
industry. Right now, most of Cuban entrepreneurs are relying a lot on
American visitors," she said. "The Cuban people are the ones that are
going to be harmed, the ones that are going to suffer. And all of the
families that depend on those businesses."

Ernesto Medina is with the People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade.

"I think what President Trump is doing, rolling back the policy that
President Obama implemented, it's going to hurt business in Cuba," he
said. "A lot of jobs have been created in the private sector to serve
the people traveling to Cuba. That increases the prosperity of the Cuban
people, which is what we all should want to the Cubans."

Medina said he also objects to what he called the "hypocrisy" of
Republicans who tout the benefits of small government.

"Now they're going to be scrutinizing every single American citizen that
travels to Cuba, to see which category they fall under to go there," he
said. "This is an infringement of personal freedoms. We should be able
to travel anywhere we want."

'More of a politician that what we expected'

Some of those gathered outside the theater supported Trump. But Laura
Vianello, a Cuban exile who has lived in Miami since 1960, said she
wished he was doing more.

"I noticed that Trump has become more of a politician than what we
expected from him — to be himself," she said. "We really liked the man
because he has a mind of his own, but we expected more."

Across the street, an anti-Trump protester disagreed.

Bernardo Guitierrez, 70, was also born in Cuba. He said Obama's policies
had helped Cubans.

"I visit Cuba because I still have family there, and I know they're
doing much better," he said. "Little by little, but better."

Cuban exiles also gathered at some of the restaurants on Calle Ocho that
have become synonymous with Little Havana. Jorge Naranja was at
Versailles. He said he voted for Trump in November — but he doesn't
think the policy changes announced on Friday will lead to meaningful
change in Cuba.

He came from Cuba in 1994 and he hasn't been back since, because he
thinks any kind of travel there will just "inject money into the
system," he said.

He said he'd like to see the U.S. either close the door completely to
Cuba, or open up 100 percent if it gets a good offer from the Cuban
government — but he doesn't expect that to happen.

Source: Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy | WLRN -
http://wlrn.org/post/trump-rolls-back-completely-one-sided-cuba-policy?nopop=1 Continue reading
Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy
At a Monday news conference, the nation's foreign minister called the
latest deal "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold War."
ARIA BENDIX JUN 19, 2017 NEWS

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Austria on Monday, Cuba's
foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said his nation was not interested in
negotiating with the Trump administration over a newly-proposed policy
to limit tourism and trade to the island. Cuba "will never negotiate
under pressure or under threat," Rodriquez said, while also refusing to
return U.S. fugitives to whom Cuba has granted asylum. "Cuba conceded
political asylum or refuge to U.S. fighters for civil rights," Rodriguez
said. "These persons will not be returned to the United States."

At a Friday speech in Miami's Little Havana district, President Trump
announced he was "canceling the last administration's completely
one-sided deal with Cuba" in an effort to undermine the nation's current
regime, led by President Raúl Castro. "With God's help," Trump said, "a
free Cuba is what we will soon achieve." While many of the specifics
have yet to be worked out, the new policy intends to reinstate travel
restrictions that were loosened under the Obama administration. The
policy also aims to prevent U.S. companies from doing business with
Cuba's Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA)— a conglomerate
tied to many sectors of Cuba's economy, including tourism.

On Friday, Trump said the deal could be subject to negotiation—with the
exception of a few key demands. "To the Cuban government, I say, put an
end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop
jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic
freedoms, [and] return the fugitives from American justice," Trump said.
"When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be
ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much
better deal for Cubans, for Americans."

Trump also used his speech to call for the return of "the cop–killer
Joanne Chesimard," otherwise known as Assata Shakur. Chesimard, a black
nationalist, was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984 after receiving a life
sentence for the death of a New Jersey state trooper. On Monday,
Rodriquez directly responded to Trump's order, arguing that the U.S. had
no "legal or moral basis" to demand Chesimard's return or that of any
other U.S. fugitive.

While Cuba has previously expressed a willingness to negotiate bilateral
issues with the Trump administration, their tone changed dramatically
with the unveiling of the new policy on Friday. The Castro government
has since released a statement saying that the U.S. is "not in the
condition to lecture us" on human rights abuses, citing the GOP health
care plan and police brutality as examples of the U.S.'s own violations.
Rodriquez reinforced this message on Monday, stating that "Cuba will
make no concessions on its sovereignty and its independence, will not
negotiate over its principles, and will never accept [imposed] conditions."

While Rodriquez admitted that Trump's new policy "will wreak economic
damage" on Cuban companies and private sector workers, he argued that it
would only serve to further unite his government. Rodriquez also noted
that U.S. companies and citizens would suffer from limited economic and
cultural exchange with Cuba. Indeed, this very thinking motivated the
Obama administration to open the lines of trade and communication with
Cuba in 2014, following a 50-year-old embargo that did little to improve
conditions in the nation. As a result, the administration paved the way
for major companies like Airbnb and Starwood to access the Cuban market,
while spurring entrepreneurship among Cuban citizens.

Trump's new policy threatens to stymie this growth while placing
high-level U.S.-Cuba negotiations on the chopping block. With Rodriquez
now calling Trump's policy "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold
War," it seems the lines of dialogue between top U.S. and Cuban
officials have already begun to close—and, with them, the chance to
witness the long-term results of improved diplomatic relations.

Source: Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy - The Atlantic -
https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/06/cuba-wont-negotiate-trumps-new-policy/530847/ Continue reading
You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How
Patrick Allan

President Trump recently announced that the U.S. will be re-instituting
travel restrictions to Cuba, partially canceling Obama's previous policy
changes. So, can you still visit Cuba? It depends.

First, let's clear up an important misconception real quick. Even with
the openings that Obama's Cuba policy previously created, traveling to
Cuba from the U.S. for the sole purpose of tourism was and still is illegal.

Even before Trump's announcement, U.S. citizens were only authorized to
travel to Cuba for one of twelve reasons: family visits, official
government business, journalistic activity, professional research or
meetings, educational activity, religious activity, public performances
or athletic competitions, humanitarian projects that support the Cuban
people, and a few other very specific purposes.

Trump's Tightening of Cuba Travel Policies Closes a Loophole

Many travelers got around the no tourism rule with what's called
"individual people-to-people" travel, which involves signing up with an
organized tour through a school, artist commune, or volunteer project.
It's a legal loophole that took advantage of a law that wasn't as
clearly defined as it could have been.

But Trump's forthcoming changes will be closing that loophole for the
time being. Americans will no longer be able to visit Cuba without a
specific license from the U.S. government—issued for one of the reasons
mentioned above—or without traveling with an organized "people-to-people
group." Basically, that means you and your partner can't just book a
flight to Cuba, travel there on your own, grab a hotel room, hang out
with a tour guide for a day, then do whatever you want for a week.

Once the new Cuba sanctions go into place, you'll only be able to visit
the country if you book trips through educational travel organizations
that offer group tours, like Cuba Educational Travel, Center for Cuban
Studies, and Smithsonian Journeys. Or you can book a cruise through
cruise lines like Carnival, Ponant, and Pearl Seas. But again, any time
you spend on shore will be with a guided group, and both group tours and
cruises will cost you a pretty penny (like, thousands of dollars).
You'll also still need a visa (also known as a tourist card) to enter
Cuba, but that's usually included with your group tour package.

You Can Still Visit Cuba for Specific Reasons and Buy Cuban Cigars (For Now)

The good news: if you've already booked a trip to Cuba (even using the
individual people-to-people loophole), the U.S. Treasury Department has
assured travelers that they may go ahead and follow through. And if you
qualify for one of the other non-individual-people-to-people reasons
previously outlined by the U.S. Treasury Department, you may still
travel there if you have a valid passport, you're able to secure a visa,
and you acquire Cuba-specific travel insurance.

The better news: for those that legally qualify for travel to Cuba, you
may still bring back up to $400 worth of souvenirs—at least for now.
That does include Cuban rum and up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars as
well. There is still no official date for when these new sanctions go
into place, so time is of the essence for travelers desperate to set
foot on Cuba's long-forbidden soil.

Source: You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How -
http://lifehacker.com/you-can-still-visit-cuba-heres-how-1796223945 Continue reading
The good, bad, and ugly of Trump's new Cuba policy
By Ilya Somin June 18 at 3:18 PM

Late last week, President Trump announced a change in US policy towards
the communist dictatorship in Cuba. Although Trump claimed he was
"canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with
Cuba," his new approach actually leaves most of Obama's policies in
place. It does not end normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba,
nor would it bar most US trade and investment there.

Trump's new policy has some good elements, some bad ones, and one truly
awful perpetuation of the worst of Obama's policy. On the plus side, the
new policy bars US trade and investment in enterprises owned by the
Cuban military and secret police. Even if you believe that trade and
investment are beneficial and likely to stimulate liberalization in
Cuba, that is surely not true of commerce that directly enriches the
very entities that perpetuate repression in one of the world's last
largely unreformed communist despotisms.

Also potentially beneficial is the plan to convene a State Department
task force on increasing internet access for Cubans. This could make it
easier for dissidents to organize, and other Cubans to utilize
information sources not controlled by the state. Obviously, whether this
initiative actually achieves anything remains to be seen.

Much more dubious is Trump's policy of tightening restrictions on travel
to Cuba by Americans. I can understand the point that such travel often
enriches the regime. On the other hand, travel restrictions are a
significant infringement on freedom, and it is far from clear that they
actually do much to undermine the government's grip on power. Americans
are not restricted from traveling to other nations with oppressive
governments, including some that are as bad or almost as bad as Cuba's.
At the very least, we should not restrict Americans' freedom to travel
unless there is strong evidence that doing so really will have a
substantial beneficial effect on human rights in Cuba.

Contrary to the expectations of its defenders, Barack Obama's
normalization policy has not resulted in any improvement in Cuban human
rights. Its onset actually coincided with an upsurge in repression, and
the liberal Human Rights Watch group reports that, in some ways, the
government has actually increased its harassment and persecution of
dissidents in recent years. Whether Trump's policy brings better results
remains to be seen. They could hardly be much worse.

One one key point, however, Trump has perpetuated the very worst of
Obama's approach. He has decided to maintain Obama's cruel policy
reversal on Cuban refugees, which effectively bars the vast majority of
them from staying in the United States, ending decades of bipartisan
policy welcoming at least those who manage to make it to US soil.

Some defend Obama's shift by arguing that the previous approach unduly
favored to Cuban refugees over those fleeing other repressive regimes.
But any such inequality should be cured by treating other refugees
better, not consigning Cubans to oppression. It is better that at least
some refugees be saved than that all be condemned to further abuse in
the name of equality.

In a speech in Miami announcing his new Cuba policy, Trump denounced
Cuba's repressive policies, including its "abuse of dissidents" and
"jailing [of] innocent people." But his crocodile tears about the plight
of Cuban victims of communist oppression ring hollow, so long as he bars
virtually all of them from finding refuge in the US, and instead
perpetuates Obama's new policy of consigning them to the tender mercy of
their oppressors.

Sadly, Trump is not the only hypocrite here. To their credit, liberal
Democrats have rightly condemned Trump's travel ban executive order, and
attempt to bar Syrian refugees. But most Democrats have either ignored
or actively supported the cruel new policy on Cuban refugees – perhaps
because that policy was initiated by a Democratic president (though now
also continued by Trump).

Here, as elsewhere, we should try to set aside partisan bias. The
barring of refugees fleeing brutal oppressors is unjust regardless of
whether it was done by a Democratic president or a Republican one, and
regardless of whether the rulers oppressing them are communists,
right-wing despots, or radical Islamists. In most cases, the US is not
responsible for the misdeeds of oppressive governments abroad. But we
are morally responsible for using government coercion to prevent them
from finding safety, and returning them to the control of the very
forces they are fleeing.

Source: The good, bad, and ugly of Trump's new Cuba policy - The
Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/18/the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-trumps-new-cuba-policy/?utm_term=.e732a7d1f7ee Continue reading
Cuba's small businesses say they will suffer under Trump's policy changes
Alan Gomez , USA TODAY 3:33 p.m. ET June 18, 2017

HAVANA — When Julia de la Rosa heard President Trump's speech
restricting Americans' ability to visit Cuba, she immediately started
calculating how many workers she'll have to fire.

De la Rosa, 49, has spent the past 20 years renovating an abandoned
family home and turning it into a private bed and breakfast in Havana.
She and her husband used to rent out five rooms, but expanded to 10
after then-President Barack Obama re-established diplomatic relations
with Cuba in December 2014, unleashing a flood of American travelers to
the long-isolated, communist island.

De la Rosa said the expected drop in visitors from the United
States, who account for two-thirds of her business, will force her to
let go of some of the 20 people she employs as maids, cooks, carpenters,
gardeners and drivers.

"For the first time, we thought our future had no limits," de la Rosa
said of the period after Obama announced the opening with Cuba. "We
thought our history was being rewritten. Now I feel like everything is
crumbling around me. I never thought this would really happen. I'm in
shock."

In Trump's speech Friday in Miami before a supportive group of
Cuban-Americans, the president said he would restrict American travel to
Cuba because U.S. dollars were going straight into the hands of Cuba
President Raúl Castro and his communist regime. Trump said too many
Americans were staying in government-run hotels, eating at
government-run restaurants and not helping Cuba's growing class of
private entrepreneurs.

Nearly 300,000 Americans flocked to Cuba in the first five months of
2017, almost the same number as all of last year, according to the Cuban
government.

"They only enrich the Cuban regime," Trump said.

But Cuba's growing class of private entrepreneurs, now more than 530,000
people working independently outside of the state-run economy, say the
opposite is true. Nereyda Rodriguez sells paintings by local artists out
of a renovated house in Old Havana and says her business has boomed
thanks to all the Yankees.

"These last two years have been great," she said. "It's been a beautiful
thing. We talk with the Americans, they learn about our lives, we learn
about theirs. Now? I don't know what's going to happen."

Trump's restrictions are counter-productive because they will limit the
very kind of travelers who help Cuban entrepreneurs, said Augusto
Maxwell, who chairs the Cuba practice at the Akerman law firm in Miami
that represents airlines, cruise lines, Airbnb and other U.S. companies
operating in Cuba.

He described American travelers as independent people who don't want to
stay in large government hotels, so he doesn't understand why Trump
believes they're propping up the Cuban regime.

"It's these folks who tend to stay in private homes, who hire a private
car for the day, who eat at private restaurants," he said. "And those
are the travelers who are now generally disallowed from traveling to Cuba."

Some entrepreneurs in Cuba were so worried that the U.S. would shift
course that they tried to limit their reliance on American travelers.
Gilberto Smith Alvarez, who runs two pizza shops in Havana, said
he welcomed the rush of American visitors but tried to maintain a more
Cuban clientele. He said about 80% of those who eat at his restaurants
are Cuban — a plan he described as insurance against the kind of
reversal Trump just announced.

"I'm focused on Cubans precisely because this was a possibility," he
said. "Tourism from the U.S. is too unstable for me, too politically
unstable."

The rest of Cuba's entrepreneurs are left to figure out how to recover
from the expected drop in American visitors. De la Rosa said she spent
the weekend fielding calls from workers and friends she had encouraged
to get private licenses and open their own businesses.

"They're been calling and asking, 'And now what?'" she said. "I don't
know what to tell them."

Source: Cuba's small businesses say they will suffer under Trump's
changes -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/06/18/cuba-small-businesses/102991296/ Continue reading
Better ties between the U.S. and Cuba? Miami's Cubans are divided
Les Neuhaus

When President Trump scaled back President Obama's pact that broadened
relations with Cuba, he said he was "completely canceling" a "terrible
and misguided deal."

There was a time in Florida when the Cuban American community would have
reacted to such an announcement with almost uniform approval.

But a paradigm shift has occurred over the last 20 years. Younger
generations of Cuban Americans have been looking for opportunities to
capitalize on trade and business with Cuba. According to a 2016 poll by
Florida International University's Cuban Research Institute, a majority
of Cuban Americans oppose the U.S. embargo on the island and want better
relations.

Not surprisingly, Trump's announcement, made in Miami's Little Havana,
left some cheering but many in the business community disappointed.

Vicente Amor, vice president of ASC International USA, a Florida-based
commercial travel agency specializing in executive-service trips to
Cuba, said that aside from the drop in business expected from the Trump
doctrine on Cuba, the president's action signaled another issue.

"The problem is not only the impact of the changes," he said. When the
Obama administration forged the pact to improve U.S.-Cuban relations,
the work was done without input from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
and what Amor called "the Miami extremists." This time, he said, they
were "at the center of the deal," along with the Treasury Department's
Office of Foreign Assets Control. For Amor, that's a bad development.


Contrary to Trump's sweeping statements, he did not completely gut the
Obama administration agreement. However, it will affect a large
community of entrepreneurs — both in the U.S. and in Cuba — that had
been at the forefront of establishing economic ties between the two
nations, according to the Washington, D.C.-based group, Engage Cuba, a
coalition of pro-Cuban business companies that includes P&G, Viacom,
Honeywell and Choice Hotels.

"We are encouraged that the Trump administration wants to help Cuba's
private sector, but unfortunately, the people who will be most
negatively impacted by this directive are Cuban entrepreneurs,"
Madeleine Russak, spokeswoman for Engage Cuba, said Saturday.

"The confusion that will surround this policy will undoubtedly stifle
U.S. demand to travel to the island," she said. "Additionally, by
requiring Americans to travel in tour groups, the administration is not
only making it more expensive for everyday Americans to travel to the
island, but it pushes them away from staying in private homes, which are
unable to accommodate large tour groups, and into state run hotels."

Albert Fox, a Cuban American from Tampa, which has a generations-old
Cuban community descended from the war for independence at the turn of
the last century, said that although commercial flights might continue
under the new policy, Trump's decision will hurt American and foreign
businesses.

"Overnight he's eliminating hundreds and hundreds of people that were
going there on a daily basis," said Fox, who serves as president of the
Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. "Do you
think Southwest could cancel flights eventually for a lack of passengers?"

On Saturday, Southwest Airlines responded to that very question.

"Southwest is now reviewing the president's statements made in South
Florida and is assessing [the] impact any proposed changes could have on
our current scheduled service to Cuba," airline spokesman Dan Landson
said by email Saturday.

Amor, the travel industry executive, said the trade embargo is patronizing.

"I don't like President Trump's policy," he said. "It treats Cuba like a
colony and fails to recognize Cuba as a sovereign nation."

Trump had pledged during the presidential campaign to roll back Obama's
Cuban initiative, and Rubio had lobbied Trump intensely to keep that
promise. Among other things, the new rules prohibit Americans from
spending money on businesses controlled by the military.

"Economic practices that benefit the Cuban military at the expense of
the Cuban people will soon be coming to an end #BetterDealforCuba,"
Rubio tweeted.

But in the Cuban community, the pact drew diverse opinions from
Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. On Saturday
he tweeted, "Whatever the intent, new Cuba regs help Cuban Govt and hurt
Cuban entrepreneurs."

A day earlier, he suggested on Twitter that the Senate weigh in on
U.S.-Cuba ties: "There is overwhelming support in the US Senate to allow
all Americans the freedom to travel to Cuba. Let's vote!"

Despite the generation shift, many in Florida's Cuban American community
resist any engagement with the Cuban communist government.

"The Obama administration's policy towards Cuba consisted of a slew of
unconditional and unilateral concessions that placed business interests
over human rights and democracy," said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat,
co-founder and spokesman for the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a
Miami-based "resistance" group to the Castro government. "These
unilateral concessions to the Castro regime actually emboldened them to
increase their repression against the Cuban people. ... Only [the] rule
of law in Cuba would guarantee American investment and protect the Cuban
people."

Source: Better ties between the U.S. and Cuba? Miami's Cubans are
divided - LA Times -
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-miami-cuba-20170618-story.html Continue reading
How Trump's Cuba policy impacts US travelers
BY MELANIE ZANONA - 06/18/17 08:00 AM EDT 72

Americans may need to rethink their travel plans to Cuba in the wake of
President Trump's effort to crack down on the communist regime.

The White House announced a slew of new restrictions on Friday aimed at
tightening travel and commercial ties between the U.S. and Cuba, which
comes after a nearly five-month policy review of former President
Obama's historic opening with the island nation.

Trump didn't fully reverse the rapprochement with Cuba. But the
significant policy shift will curtail Americans' ability to travel
freely to Cuba, even as numerous U.S. airlines, hotels and travel sites
like AirBnb have begun offering services there.

Here's how Trump's new Cuba policy impacts U.S. visitors.

Legal types of travel

One of the biggest changes is what constitutes a legal form of travel to
Cuba.

Under Trump's new restrictions, Americans will only be able to visit
Cuba as part of a tour group if they want to go to the island for
educational purposes.

Obama allowed U.S. visitors to travel to the country under 12 different
license categories, including for educational purposes, religious
reasons, journalistic activities and family visits. There was also a
general license. Tourism was still prohibited, however.
Trump is eliminating the so-called people-to-people trips, a
sub-category of education that enables Americans to design their own
trips and go to Cuba on their own. That method has been one of the more
popular ways that U.S. travelers have been seeing the island since Obama
announced his changes.

White House officials also said it's the category most ripe for abuse,
with Americans using it to skirt the tourism ban.

Visitors will still be able to self-certify under a general license that
they are traveling to Cuba for one of the remaining legitimate
reasons. And Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their
family in Cuba and send them remittances, according to a fact sheet.

But those going for educational purposes will now need to apply with the
Treasury Department and go with a licensed tour group – a process than
can be far more lengthy and expensive, according to anti-embargo advocates.

"By requiring Americans to travel in tour groups, the administration is
not only making it more expensive for everyday Americans to travel to
the island, but pushing them away from staying in private homes – which
are unable to accommodate large tour groups – and into state run
hotels," said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba.

Spending restrictions

Another major crux of Trump's Cuba policy is prohibiting any financial
transactions that benefit the Cuban military's business arm, Grupo de
Administración Empresarial (GAESA), in an effort to restrict the flow of
money to the oppressive elements of Raúl Castro's regime.

That means Americans will be largely restricted in where they can spend
their money, given the Cuban government's control of a large swath of
the travel and tourist economy, including hotels, restaurants and other
entities.

GAESA currently operates the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, one of the
first U.S. hotels to open on the island in decades.

The administration hopes that the ban on financial transactions with
companies linked to the Cuban military will help funnel more money
towards free and private Cuban businesses.

White House officials also noted that Americans can still bring back
Cuban cigars from their trips.

Stronger enforcement

U.S. visitors may face more questioning from authorities when they
return home from Cuba.

Part of Trump's policy focuses on enforcing the existing ban on tourism,
which means travelers can expect to see stepped up enforcement, either
from customs agents at the airport or through audits later on.

"Our policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law," Trump said during
his speech in Miami, unveiling the new policy. "We will enforce the ban
on tourism."

All visitors are required to maintain full schedules while in Cuba and
keep detailed logs for five years – something that has been rarely checked.

The White House is now directing the Treasury Department to conduct
regular audits of travelers and calling on the Inspector General to keep
tabs on the agency's effort.

Those who are caught violating Cuban sanctions could face civil or
criminal penalties, with individual civil fines that could reach up to
$65,000 per violation, according to the Treasury Department.

Commercial flights

Commercial flights, which resumed between the U.S. and Cuba for the
first time in over 50 years last summer, will be allowed to continue
uninterrupted under Trump's Cuba policy.

Seven U.S. airlines now fly nonstop to Cuba, following an intense effort
to win a direct flight route to the island last year.

But facing lower than expected travel demand, a number of carriers have
already begun to scale back their Cuba operations.

If demand continues to decline once people-to-people trips are banned,
and with tour groups more likely to book charter flights, travelers may
see higher ticker prices and less commercial flight options.

"There was already a sense that there were way too many flights. I do
think you're likely to see a fewer number of flights and higher fares,"
said Andrew Keller, a partner at Hogan Lovells focusing on international
trade and investment. "You may well see more of the airlines pulling
out, if it's just not worth it."

Timeline

The Treasury and Commerce departments will now have 30 days to start
drafting new rules that fulfill Trump's directive, but "then the process
takes as long as it takes," said one senior official.

That means that travelers who have already scheduled a trip to Cuba can
still move ahead with their plans, as long as the new regulations have
not taken effect yet.

In writing new rules, the Treasury Department is expected to spell out
exactly what will happen to people who book trips before the new rules,
but travel after their release.

Source: How Trump's Cuba policy impacts US travelers | TheHill -
http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/338211-how-trumps-cuba-policy-impacts-us-travelers Continue reading
Citizen Kastro-Citizen Alcides / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 14 June 2017– Jorge Enrique Lage interviews Miguel Coyula
(excerpts) 4

… at many times during the interview, Alcides interrupted himself and
began to speak to Fidel as if he were right in front of him. It's
something one saw a lot in our parents' generation: bothered by
something Fidel was saying on TV and arguing with him, but supposedly
there was no one listening inside the box. Documentaries offer that
opportunity, that fantasy secret for many.

For me the film is a love-hate story between two men and a woman. The
men are Rafael Alcides and Fidel Castro; the woman is the Revolution.
Alcides lost her, and deeply resents the man who snatched her from him
to dominate her, strangle her, and make her into an unrecognizable
ghost. But in spite of it all, Alcides continues loving her somehow.

When he died I said that one of my actors had died, but Fidel appears
in Memories of Development, Nobody, and Blue Heart. In the three films,
I had to listen to many hours of his speeches and conversations to be
able to edit and construct the dialogs in them. I can tell you it was
pretty exhausting to work with him, who'd succeeded in telling me the
lines I needed. But definitely he was one of the great actors of the
20th Century, including at the beginning of the 21st.

Supposedly, now one can read it as a great hallucination too, but when
Alcides speaks, he addresses him in the present, as if he were alive.
This doesn't come out of nowhere. Anyone who reads Granma and reads the
recycled quotes from Fidel in every issue can, as in the persistence
embedded in all the talking heads you see on Cuban television, arrive at
the conclusion that we're being governed by a dead man.

Translated by: JT

Source: Citizen Kastro-Citizen Alcides / Regina Coyula – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/citizen-kastro-citizen-alcides-regina-coyula/ Continue reading
Cuba cruises could become less flexible under new Trump policy
Gene Sloan , USA TODAY Published 12:20 p.m. ET June 16, 2017

Cruises from the USA to Cuba will be allowed to continue under President
Trump's new Cuba policy, but the trips could become more restrictive,
industry and Cuba watchers say.

Passengers on voyages to Cuba operated by U.S.-based companies such as
Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean may no longer be able to get
off ships in Cuban ports such as Havana to explore on their own, says
John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a
group that supported the Obama administration's rapprochement with the
island nation.

While final rules won't be written for several months, it is likely that
"only group tours will be permitted for passengers on the vessels,"
Kavulich says.

The new policy, which Trump announce today at an event in Miami, will
end individual "people-to-people" travel from the USA to Cuba, which has
been allowed for the past year under relaxed rules implemented by the
Obama administration. Travelers on "people-to-people" trips to Cuba once
again will be required to be part of a licensed group.

The new policy also could have an impact on the tours that are available
to cruisers. The policy will restrict U.S. businesses from dealing with
entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services, which
control a significant amount of the tourism infrastructure in the country.

Kavulich notes that many U.S.-based travel agencies and tour operators
contract for tours with Havanatur, which is a subsidiary of Cimex, which
is controlled by the FAR, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic
of Cuba.

Still, the extent of the impact on cruise companies, if any, from the
restriction on dealing with such entities is unclear. A U.S. Treasury
FAQ on the topic released Friday said U.S. businesses that already have
a relationship with such entities before the new rules take effect will
be permitted to continue with the relationship. A spokesman for industry
giant Carnival Corp., a pioneer in the new wave of cruises from the USA
to Cuba, told USA TODAY the company saw no issues with its tour partner
in the country.

Many in the cruise industry don't expect the new policy to have a major
effect on cruises to Cuba, says longtime industry watcher Mike Driscoll,
editor of Cruise Week.

"The belief is ultimately Trump is pro-business, and he (is doing)
nothing here to undermine the cruise line business," Driscoll says.
"Expectations are (for) cruise business as usual, once the media
spotlight fades away."

Both Kavulich and Driscoll note the new policy's group-tour requirement
should, if anything, help the cruise industry draw more business.

Demand for Cuba cruises has been "impacted by individuals using airlines
for independent travel" to Cuba, which now will be forbidden, Kavulich says.

In a statement, Carnival Corp. said it was "pleased that the policy
changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to
continue to sail to Cuba."

Carnival Corp. became the first cruise company to offer voyages from the
USA to Cuba in decades when its Fathom brand began trips from Miami in
May 2016. While Fathom has stopped sailing to the island nation,
Carnival Corp.'s much bigger Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America
Line brands are scheduled to start Cuba cruises in the coming months.

"Our experience in Cuba this past year has been extremely positive,"
Carnival said in its statement. "We look forward to the new cruises
being planned for Cuba with Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America
Line. We also have requested approval for our other brands to travel to
Cuba."

Carnival Corp. also owns Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and
several other brands.

Also releasing a statement saying it was pleased that cruises to Cuba
could continue was Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
All three of the brands have started Cuba cruises in the last three months.

Norwegian said it would work with the Trump administration to comply
with any changes to regulations that are implemented.

"We were very concerned about any potential changes, given how popular
Cuba itineraries have proven to be with our guests, and we view this as
a win for the cruise industry, our valued guests and travel partners,"
Norwegian said in its statement, which was released after Trump spoke.
"Across our three brands, there are 70,000 guests booked to sail to Cuba
who would have been very disappointed if they were unable to experience
this spectacular destination."

Passengers on cruises to Cuba departing in the next few weeks will not
be affected by the new policy, which won't take effect until formal
rules are written over the next 90 days.

More than half a dozen cruise lines have launched Cuba voyages from the
USA over the past year. They include cruising giants such as Norwegian
and Royal Caribbean as well as smaller operators such as Oceania and
Azamara Club Cruises.

The companies have said the Cuba trips provide an opportunity for
"people-to-people" exchanges between Americans and Cubans as allowed by
U.S. rules governing visits to Cuba.

While the Obama administration loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba
in 2016, U.S. visitors still are limited in the activities they are
allowed to do in the country by the terms of the USA's five-decade-old
embargo. The embargo specifies that activities fall within one of 12
approved categories. The categories include educational pursuits such as
people-to-people exchanges.

Source: Cuba cruises could become less flexible under new Trump policy -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2017/06/16/cuba-cruises-could-become-less-flexible/102915746/ Continue reading
What does Trump's new Cuba policy mean for travel to island?
MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN and DAVID KOENIG,Associated Press • June 17,

HAVANA (AP) — Here's what's changing with President Donald Trump's new
policy on travel to Cuba, announced Friday:

BEFORE DETENTE

Before former President Barack Obama launched detente with Cuba in
December 2014, most Americans without family ties to Cuba traveled to
the island on expensive guided tours dedicated to full-time "meaningful
interaction" with the Cuban people and — in principle at least —
avoiding activities that could be considered tourism, which is illegal
under U.S. law.

"People-to-people" tour companies needed special licenses from the U.S.
Treasury Department and were regularly audited and faced steep fines or
loss of licenses for allowing travelers to engage in tourism.

In Cuba, U.S. tour companies were required to contract guides, tour
buses and hotel rooms from the Cuban government, meaning U.S. travelers
were effectively under the constant supervision of the government. As a
result, they were often presented with activities and talks favoring
Cuba government positions on domestic and international issues.

OBAMA'S REFORMS

Obama eliminated the tour requirement, allowing Americans to travel to
Cuba on individual "people-to-people" trips that were in reality
indistinguishable from travel to any other country in the world.
Travelers were legally required to maintain logs of their full-time
"people-to-people" schedules but the Obama administration made clear it
would not enforce the requirement.

Online lodging booker Airbnb was allowed into Cuba, and commercial
flights between the U.S. and Cuba resumed after more than half a
century. As a result, U.S. travel to Cuba roughly tripled by the time
Obama left office. U.S. travelers are engaging in what amounts to
illegal tourism, but they are also pumping hundreds of millions of
dollars into the restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts that are driving the
growth of Cuba's nascent private sector.

TRUMP'S ROLLBACK, AND WHAT IT MEANS

Trump will re-impose the requirement that "people-to-people" travelers
can only come to Cuba with heavily regulated tour groups. Many Cuban
entrepreneurs fear this will stifle the American travel that has allowed
so many of them to flourish since the start of detente.

The policy will also ban most American financial transactions with the
military-linked conglomerate that dominates much of the Cuban economy,
including dozens of hotels, along with state-run restaurants and tour buses.

This will almost certainly make all American travel to the island a
complicated maze of avoiding payments to military-linked monopolies
ranging from hotels to gas stations to convenience stores.

Sen. Marco Rubio, who claims credit for writing the Trump policy along
with a fellow Cuban-American and Florida Republican, Rep. Mario
Diaz-Balart, tweeted Friday that individual American travelers will
still be able to go to Cuba for the purpose of supporting the Cuban
people, a category that includes helping human rights organizations and
non-governmental groups meant to strengthen democracy and civil society.

WHEN DOES IT TAKE EFFECT?

The new realities of U.S. travel to Cuba will be determined by the
regulations that federal agencies will produce as a result of the new
policy. A presidential memorandum gives the government 90 days before it
even starts to rewrite Cuba travel regulations, meaning it could be many
months before it's clear what the change means for American travelers.

The Treasury Department said individuals who bought an airline ticket or
rented a room or car before Trump's announcement could make additional
travel-related purchases for that travel under the Obama policy, even if
their trip to Cuba takes place after the new, stricter Trump regulations
go into effect.

Of course, the mere news of the change is likely to have a chilling
effect on travel to Cuba.

___

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

David Koenig on Twitter: http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

Source: What does Trump's new Cuba policy mean for travel to island? -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/does-trumps-cuba-policy-mean-travel-island-181604922.html Continue reading
Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations
Darlene Superville, Michael Weissenstein and Josh Lederman, Associated
Press, Associated Press • June 17, 2017

MIAMI (AP) -- Pressing "pause" on a historic detente, President Donald
Trump thrust the U.S. and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility with
a blistering denunciation of the island's communist government. He
clamped down on some commerce and travel but left intact many new
avenues President Barack Obama had opened.

The Cuban government responded by rejecting what it called Trump's
"hostile rhetoric." Still, Cuba said it is willing to continue
"respectful dialogue" with on topics of mutual interest.

Even as Trump predicted a quick end to President Raul Castro's regime,
he challenged Cuba to negotiate better agreements for Americans, Cubans
and those whose identities lie somewhere in between. Diplomatic
relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact. But, in a
shift from Obama's approach, Trump said trade and other penalties would
stay in place until a long list of prerequisites was met.

"America has rejected the Cuban people's oppressors," Trump said Friday
in Miami's Little Havana, the cradle of Cuban-American resistance to
Castro's government. "Officially, today, they are rejected."

Declaring Obama's pact with Castro a "completely one-sided deal," Trump
said he was canceling it. In practice, however, many recent changes to
boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are. Trump cast that as a sign the
U.S. still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much
stronger and better path."

In a statement released Friday evening on government-run websites and
television, Cuban President Raul Castro's administration said Trump's
speech was "loaded with hostile rhetoric that recalls the times of open
confrontation."

The lengthy statement went on to strike a conciliatory tone, saying Cuba
wants to continue negotiations with the U.S. on a variety of subjects.
"The last two years have shown that the two countries can cooperate and
coexist in a civilized way," it said.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open. U.S. airlines and
cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of
Florida. The "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which once let most Cuban
migrants stay if they made it to U.S. soil but was terminated under
Obama, will remain terminated. Remittances from people in America to
Cubans won't be cut off.

But individual "people-to-people" trips by Americans to Cuba, allowed by
Obama for the first time in decades, will again be prohibited. And the
U.S. government will police other trips to ensure travelers are pursuing
a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities."

The changes won't go into effect until new documents laying out details
are issued. Once implemented Trump's policy is expected to curtail U.S.
travel by creating a maze of rules for Americans to obey. The policy
bans most financial transactions with a yet-unreleased list of entities
associated with Cuba's military and state security, including a
conglomerate that dominates much of Cuba's economy, such as many hotels,
state-run restaurants and tour buses.

Surrounded by Florida Republican officials, the president was unabashed
about the political overtones of his election victory and Friday's
announcement:

"You went out and you voted, and here I am, like I promised."

Cheered by Cuba hardliners in both parties, Trump's new policy is
broadly opposed by U.S. businesses eager to invest in Cuba.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, typically supportive of GOP presidents,
predicted the changes would limit prospects for "positive change on the
island," while Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said Trump's policy was
"misguided" and will hurt the U.S. economically.

Trump's declaration in a crowded, sweltering auditorium was a direct
rebuke to Obama, for whom the diplomatic opening with Cuba was a central
accomplishment of his presidency.

Yet it also exposed the shortcomings in Obama's approach.

Unable to persuade Congress to lift the decades-old trade embargo, Obama
had used his power to adjust the rules that implement the embargo to
expand built-in loopholes. Obama and his aides argued that commerce and
travel between the countries, which has blossomed since he relaxed the
rules, would make his policy irreversible.

Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser who negotiated
Obama's opening with the Cubans, said it was disappointing Trump was
halting the momentum that had built but added that it could have been worse.

"This is a limitation on what we did, not a reversal of what we did,"
Rhodes said in an interview.

For Cubans, the shift risks stifling a nascent middle class that has
started to rise as Americans have flocked to the island on airlines,
patronizing thousands of private bed-and-breakfasts.

"When he's cutting back on travel, he's hurting us, the Cuban
entrepreneurs," said Camilo Diaz, a 44-year-old waiter in a restaurant
in Havana. "We're the ones who are hurt."

Granma, the official organ of Cuba's Communist Party, described Trump's
declarations in real-time blog coverage Friday as "a return to
imperialist rhetoric and unilateral demands." Cuba's government may not
formally respond to Trump's speech until a speech Monday by its foreign
minister.

The Castro government is certain to reject Trump's list of demands,
which includes releasing political prisoners, halting what the U.S. says
is abuse of dissidents and allowing greater freedom of expression.
Refusing to negotiate domestic reforms in exchange for U.S. concessions
is perhaps the most fundamental plank of Cuba's policy toward the U.S.

Cuba functioned as a virtual U.S. colony for much of the 20th century,
and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived U.S.
infringements on national sovereignty. Trump, on the other hand,
described his move as an effort to bring about a "free Cuba" after more
than half a century of communism.

"I do believe that end is in the very near future," he said.

Cuba's 1,470-word statement Friday night labeled Trump a hypocrite for
calling on Cuba to improve human rights, saying the U.S. government "is
threatening more limits on health care that would leave 23 million
people without insurance ... and marginalizes immigrants and refugees,
particular those from Islamic countries."

The statement reiterates Cuba's commitment to "the necessary changes
that we're making now as part of the updating of our socio-economic
model," but says "they will continue being decided in a sovereign way by
the Cuban people."

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution,
and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate
the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by
President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties.
Less than a year later, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened, and Obama
paid a historic visit to Havana in 2016.

___

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.

Source: Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-rolls-back-not-changes-us-cuba-relations-073828473--politics.html Continue reading
Travel Industry Scrambles After New Cuba Restrictions
By VICTORIA BURNETT JUNE 16, 2017

As President Trump outlined a stricter policy toward Cuba on Friday,
travel industry representatives scrambled to decode new prohibitions and
reassure clients that the island was not off limits.

Hotel owners, tour operators and online booking agencies — who have been
at the heart of much-expanded contact between the two countries over the
last few years, culminating in early 2016, when President Barack Obama
eased restrictions — took what they saw as confusing signals from the
White House as a sign that the policy would be refined over the coming
weeks.

"It appears to me that they are making this up as they go," said Collin
Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel, which has been organizing
trips to that country for several years.

Mr. Laverty said he fielded "endless" calls during the past two days
from travel operators and travelers trying to figure out how they would
be affected by the new policy. On Friday, he wrote in an email to
clients that the organization was "very confident" the policy "will not
impact the fall trips to Cuba."

Under the new regulations, individual Americans travelers will no longer
be able to visit the island on what are known as people-to-people trips,
a popular mode of travel introduced as part of Mr. Obama's historic
thaw. People-to-people trips will now be permitted only for groups and
must be organized by a licensed tour operator.

Americans will also be barred from transactions with companies run by
the Cuban military — a potentially significant restriction, given that
many of Cuba's branded hotels are managed by a military-owned conglomerate.

The Treasury Department went some way to clarify the new rules on
Friday, writing in a statement that the changes would not apply to
people who had already booked trips or to existing business deals with
the military.

But the new restrictions would put new properties like the Gran Hotel
Manzana, managed by Kempinski Hotels but owned by Gaviota, a Cuban
military-run company, off limits to American travelers. Travel
representatives said they would redirect American travelers to hotels
run by civilian tour organizations, including Gran Caribe and Cubanacan
— both of which own several properties in Havana.

Exactly how far those restrictions go, however, is unclear. Could a tour
organizer rent a bus from a military-run company? What about purchases
from a military-run retail store?

Prohibitions of that scope would make organizing group trips to Cuba
"impossible," said Michael Sykes, president of Cuba Cultural Travel.

Tour operators and Cuba experts predicted that the Cuban government
would find loopholes. John Caulfield, who was chief of the United States
diplomatic mission to Havana from 2011 to 2014, said the government
could move tourism assets into the control of civilian ministries.

"In an economy like Cuba's, they can rename things and change things
around," he said.

Still, even if the new rules were workable, travel representatives said,
tighter regulation would put off Americans from traveling to a country
still struggling with its tourism infrastructure.

"We were finally getting to a point where there was a sense of normalcy;
people felt it was legal to come to Cuba," Mr. Laverty said. "Now this
is pushing us back to a point where Americans don't know if it's legal.
That will dissuade a lot of Americans."

Two sectors that were left apparently unscathed by the new policy were
cruises and flights: Fees paid by cruise lines and airlines will be
exempt from restrictions on doing business with the military.

Marriott International, whose subsidiary Starwood runs the Four Points
by Sheraton hotel in the Havana suburb of Miramar, may also have escaped
the crackdown, which the Treasury Department said did not affect
existing business deals.

The Havana Sheraton announced on its website on Friday that it would
require each guest to complete an affidavit at check-in certifying
authorization to travel in Cuba. Marriott said in a statement on
Thursday that it was "still analyzing" the policy directive, and its
"full effect on our current and planned operations in Cuba."

The consensus is that those who will suffer most are smaller-scale
businesses that rely on individual travel — private bed-and-breakfasts,
cafes, restaurants, tour guides and taxis. And fewer individual
travelers would also affect commercial airlines, who last year began
operating dozens of daily flights to Cuba.

Cuba is Airbnb's fastest-growing market, with 22,000 rooms registered to
its booking site and 70,000 arrivals every month on the island,
according to figures published by the company. About 35 percent of
Airbnb's guests in Cuba are American; 12 percent of American travelers
to Cuba stay in an Airbnb-listed property.

The company said in a statement on Friday that it was "reviewing what
this policy could mean for this type of travel" but was pleased that it
would be able to continue to "support Airbnb hosts in Cuba."

But those hosts are likely to see a decline in demand, travel
representatives said.

"Much of the growth has been from people booking from Airbnb and private
casas," said Eddie Lubbers, president of Cuba Travel Network, using the
Spanish term for homes. "It's not just casas — it's restaurants, it's
private tour guides."

He added, "It's going to have an effect."

Source: Travel Industry Scrambles After New Cuba Restrictions - The New
York Times -
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/travel/cuba-travel-trump-restrictions-industry-reaction.html?_r=0 Continue reading
Cuba Says President Trump's Speech Was 'Loaded With Hostile Rhetoric'
Associated Press
8:39 AM ET

(WASHINGTON) — The Cuban government is rejecting what it calls the
"hostile rhetoric" of President Donald Trump's speech announcing a new
U.S. policy toward the island, but says it is willing to continue
"respectful dialogue" with the U.S. on topics of mutual interest.
In a statement released on government-run websites and television Friday
evening, President Raul Castro's administration says Trump's speech was
"loaded with hostile rhetoric that recalls the times of open confrontation."
The lengthy statement goes on to strike a conciliatory tone, saying Cuba
wants to continue negotiations with the U.S. on a variety of subjects.
Cuba says "the last two years have shown that the two countries can
cooperate and coexist in a civilized way."
Trump announced a series of changes to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is
challenging the Cuban government to negotiate a better deal.
Trump said in a speech in Miami that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on
Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban
people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.
Trump is also calling for the legalization of all political parties, and
free and internationally supervised elections.
The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of
American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services
that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro.He has challenged
Cuba to "come to the table" to strike a deal that serves both country's
interests.

Source: Cuba Rejects Donald Trump's 'Hostile Rhetoric' | Time.com -
http://time.com/4822663/donald-trump-cuba-policy-raul-castro/ Continue reading
Trump's Cuba decision gives pause to U.S. companies doing business there
by Julia Horowitz @juliakhorowitz
June 16, 2017: 7:03 PM ET

President Trump said he's "canceling" Obama's deal with Cuba. But that
agreement was good for a lot of American businesses.
Many U.S. firms have welcomed the opening of a new market roughly 100
miles from the U.S. coast.
Now, Trump wants strict enforcement of the tourism ban and will prohibit
commerce with Cuban businesses that are owned by military and
intelligence services.
That could hit travel and construction companies, which have started to
build a presence in Cuba. And many are speaking out.
On Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce decried the changes.
"U.S. private sector engagement can be a positive force for the kind of
change we all wish to see in Cuba," Myron Brilliant, the chamber's head
of international affairs, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, today's
moves actually limit the possibility for positive change on the island
and risk ceding growth opportunities to other countries that, frankly,
may not share America's interest in a free and democratic Cuba."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Cuba's inaction on human rights is
a big reason for the policy shift.
Caterpillar (CAT), which has long called for the U.S. government to end
the trade embargo, also weighed in.
The maker of heavy equipment has been working to reenter the Cuban
market since the Obama administration announced that it would
reestablish diplomatic relations in 2014.
"Caterpillar believes that engagement with Cuba continues to represent a
strong opportunity -- not just for American businesses, but to serve as
a powerful tool for change," the company said in a statement. "We will
continue to work closely with policymakers on the best way to accomplish
these goals."
Related: Google launches servers in Cuba to speed up YouTube and search
Many companies in the hospitality industry have already doubled down on
development projects, leaving them particularly exposed to the decision.
Airbnb said it plans to speak with the Trump administration and with
Congress in the coming weeks. The startup said it has hosted 560,000
guests in Cuba since April 2015.
"Travel from the U.S. to Cuba is an important way to encourage
people-to-people diplomacy," the company said in a statement. "While we
are reviewing what this policy could mean for this type of travel, we
appreciate that the policy appears to allow us to continue to support
Airbnb hosts in Cuba who have welcomed travelers from around the world."
Marriott (MAR) noted that the company has invested significant resources
to shore up its Cuba operation, with one hotel open and another in the
works. It said the effect of Trump's order may depend on "forthcoming
regulations."
"We continue to believe that increased travel between the United States
and Cuba would serve to strengthen an evolving bilateral relationship,
and Marriott remains ready to build on the progress that has been made
in the last two years," the company said.
American Airlines (AAL) said it's urging customers planning trips to
Cuba to closely watch for updates from the U.S. government.
"As a global airline, American is committed to continuing to operate
service to Cuba," the company said. "We are reviewing the executive
order to understand any potential impacts to our customers or our
current service."
The carrier has 10 flights from the U.S. to Cuba every day, according to
data from the Official Airline Guide.
CNNMoney (New York)
First published June 16, 2017: 7:03 PM ET

Source: Trump's Cuba decision gives pause to U.S. companies doing
business there - Jun. 16, 2017 -
http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/16/news/trump-cuba-business-community-reaction/index.html Continue reading
Farmers Blast Trump's Cuba Retreat as Bad for Trade
June 17, 2017 4:55 AM
Reuters

CHICAGO —
U.S. farm groups criticized President Donald Trump's decision to retreat
from his predecessor's opening toward Cuba, saying it could derail huge
increases in farm exports that totaled $221 million last year.

A trade delegation from Minnesota, one of the largest U.S. agriculture
states, vowed to carry on with its planned visit to Cuba next week.

"We're going to continue to beat the drum and let them (the Trump
administration) know that trade is good for agriculture," said Kevin
Paap, a farmer in the delegation.

Trump signed a presidential directive Friday rolling back parts of
former President Barack Obama's opening to the Communist-ruled country
after a 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes.

Farm groups saw the move as a step backward in what had been an
improving trade relationship between the two countries, which are 90
miles (145 kms) apart, even though agriculture is not directly targeted.

U.S. law exempts food from a decades-old embargo on U.S. trade with
Cuba, but cumbersome rules on how transactions were executed have made
deals difficult and costly.

Since Obama's detente, substantial headway has been made with shipments
of U.S. corn and soybeans to Cuba soaring 420 percent in 2016 from a
year earlier to 268,360 tons, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.

Through the first four months of 2017, total shipments of U.S. grain and
soy were 142,860 ton, up from 49,090 tons during the same period of 2016.

While the quantities are dwarfed by total U.S. exports — nearly 56
million ton of corn alone last year — the added volumes were welcome as
farmers face a fourth year of languishing grain prices and crimped incomes.

"At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we ask our leaders in
Washington not to close doors on market opportunities for American
agriculture," Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers
Association, said in a statement.

The group sees an opportunity for $125 million more a year in trade to Cuba.

Trump's move could cut off near-term sales and stymie economic
development that would drive longer-term demand growth, said Tom
Sleight, president of the U.S. Grains Council, a grain trade development
organization, in a statement.

"Neither of those outcomes is favorable for the U.S. ag sector or the
Cuban people," he added.

Paap said the United States should be doing more to encourage exports.

"It's frustrating because we've made some advances and built those
relationships," he said.

Source: Farmers Blast Trump's Cuba Retreat as Bad for Trade -
https://www.voanews.com/a/farmers-angry-at-trump-cuba-retreat/3904406.html Continue reading
National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of
the United States Toward Cuba

MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OF STAFF
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT
AND BUDGET
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM
THE COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE
AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SMALL BUSINESS
ADMINISTRATION
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL
MANAGEMENT

Section 1. Purpose.

The United States recognizes the need for more freedom and democracy,
improved respect for human rights, and increased free enterprise in
Cuba. The Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that
suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and
fails to respect their essential human dignity.

My Administration's policy will be guided by the national security and
foreign policy interests of the United States, as well as solidarity
with the Cuban people. I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and
free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must channel funds
toward the Cuban people and away from a regime that has failed to meet
the most basic requirements of a free and just society.

In Cuba, dissidents and peaceful protesters are arbitrarily detained and
held in terrible prison conditions. Violence and intimidation against
dissidents occurs with impunity. Families of political prisoners are
not allowed to assemble or peacefully protest the improper confinement
of their loved ones. Worshippers are harassed, and free association by
civil society organizations is blocked. The right to speak freely,
including through access to the internet, is denied, and there is no
free press. The United States condemns these abuses.

The initial actions set forth in this memorandum, including restricting
certain financial transactions and travel, encourage the Cuban
government to address these abuses. My Administration will continue to
evaluate its policies so as to improve human rights, encourage the rule
of law, foster free markets and free enterprise, and promote democracy
in Cuba.

Sec. 2. Policy.

It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:

(a) End economic practices that disproportionately benefit the
Cuban government or its military, intelligence, or security agencies or
personnel at the expense of the Cuban people.

(b) Ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.

(c) Support the economic embargo of Cuba described in section
4(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of
1996 (the embargo), including by opposing measures that call for an end
to the embargo at the United Nations and other international forums and
through regular reporting on whether the conditions of a transition
government exist in Cuba.

(d) Amplify efforts to support the Cuban people through the
expansion of internet services, free press, free enterprise, free
association, and lawful travel.

(e) Not reinstate the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy, which
encouraged untold thousands of Cuban nationals to risk their lives to
travel unlawfully to the United States.

(f) Ensure that engagement between the United States and Cuba
advances the interests of the United States and the Cuban people. These
interests include: advancing Cuban human rights; encouraging the growth
of a Cuban private sector independent of government control; enforcing
final orders of removal against Cuban nationals in the United States;
protecting the national security and public health and safety of the
United States, including through proper engagement on criminal cases and
working to ensure the return of fugitives from American justice living
in Cuba or being harbored by the Cuban government; supporting United
States agriculture and protecting plant and animal health; advancing the
understanding of the United States regarding scientific and
environmental challenges; and facilitating safe civil aviation.

Sec. 3. Implementation.

The heads of departments and agencies shall begin to implement the
policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum as follows:

(a) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary
of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate and in
coordination with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of
Transportation, shall initiate a process to adjust current regulations
regarding transactions with Cuba.

(i) As part of the regulatory changes described in this
subsection, the Secretary of State shall identify the entities or
subentities, as appropriate, that are under the control of, or act for
or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services
or personnel (such as Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (GAESA),
its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors), and publish a list of
those identified entities and subentities with which direct financial
transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel
at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.

(ii) Except as provided in subsection (a)(iii) of this
section, the regulatory changes described in this subsection shall
prohibit direct financial transactions with those entities or
subentities on the list published pursuant to subsection (a)(i) of this
section.

(iii) The regulatory changes shall not prohibit
transactions that the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary of
Commerce, in coordination with the Secretary of State, determines are
consistent with the policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum and:

(A) concern Federal Government operations, including
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and the United States mission in Havana;

(B) support programs to build democracy in Cuba;

(C) concern air and sea operations that support
permissible travel, cargo, or trade;

(D) support the acquisition of visas for permissible
travel;

(E) support the expansion of direct
telecommunications and internet access for the Cuban people;

(F) support the sale of agricultural commodities,
medicines, and medical devices sold to Cuba consistent with the Trade
Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et
seq.) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 2002 (22 U.S.C. 6001 et seq.);

(G) relate to sending, processing, or receiving
authorized remittances;

(H) otherwise further the national security or
foreign policy interests of the United States; or

(I) are required by law.

(b) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary
of the Treasury, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall
initiate a process to adjust current regulations to ensure adherence to
the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.

(i) The amended regulations shall require that
educational travel be for legitimate educational purposes. Except for
educational travel that was permitted by regulation in effect on January
27, 2011, all educational travel shall be under the auspices of an
organization subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and all
such travelers must be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring
organization.

(ii) The regulations shall further require that those
traveling for the permissible purposes of non academic education or to
provide support for the Cuban people:

(A) engage in a full-time schedule of activities that
enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or
promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities; and

(B) meaningfully interact with individuals in Cuba.

(iii) The regulations shall continue to provide that every
person engaging in travel to Cuba shall keep full and accurate records
of all transactions related to authorized travel, regardless of whether
they were effected pursuant to license or otherwise, and such records
shall be available for examination by the Department of the Treasury for
at least 5 years after the date they occur.
(iv) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the
Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Transportation
shall review their agency's enforcement of all categories of permissible
travel within 90 days of the date the regulations described in this
subsection are finalized to ensure such enforcement accords with the
policies outlined in section 2 of this memorandum.

(c) The Secretary of the Treasury shall regularly audit travel
to Cuba to ensure that travelers are complying with relevant statutes
and regulations. The Secretary of the Treasury shall request that the
Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury inspect the
activities taken by the Department of the Treasury to implement this
audit requirement. The Inspector General of the Department of the
Treasury shall provide a report to the President, through the Secretary
of the Treasury, summarizing the results of that inspection within 180
days of the adjustment of current regulations described in subsection
(b) of this section and annually thereafter.

(d) The Secretary of the Treasury shall adjust the Department of
the Treasury's current regulation defining the term "prohibited
officials of the Government of Cuba" so that, for purposes of title 31,
part 515 of the Code of Federal Regulations, it includes Ministers and
Vice-Ministers, members of the Council of State and the Council of
Ministers; members and employees of the National Assembly of People's
Power; members of any provincial assembly; local sector chiefs of the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; Director Generals and
sub–Director Generals and higher of all Cuban ministries and state
agencies; employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT); employees
of the Ministry of Defense (MINFAR); secretaries and first secretaries
of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba (CTC) and its component unions;
chief editors, editors, and deputy editors of Cuban state-run media
organizations and programs, including newspapers, television, and radio;
and members and employees of the Supreme Court (Tribuno Supremo Nacional).

(e) The Secretary of State and the Representative of the United
States to the United Nations shall oppose efforts at the United Nations
or (with respect to the Secretary of State) any other international
forum to lift the embargo until a transition government in Cuba, as
described in section 205 of the LIBERTAD Act, exists.

(f) The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney
General, shall provide a report to the President assessing whether and
to what degree the Cuban government has satisfied the requirements of a
transition government as described in section 205(a) of the LIBERTAD
Act, taking into account the additional factors listed in section 205(b)
of that Act. This report shall include a review of human rights abuses
committed against the Cuban people, such as unlawful detentions,
arbitrary arrests, and inhumane treatment.

(g) The Attorney General shall, within 90 days of the date of
this memorandum, issue a report to the President on issues related to
fugitives from American justice living in Cuba or being harbored by the
Cuban government.

(h) The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United
States Agency for International Development shall review all democracy
development programs of the Federal Government in Cuba to ensure that
they align with the criteria set forth in section 109(a) of the LIBERTAD
Act.

(i) The Secretary of State shall convene a task force, composed
of relevant departments and agencies, including the Office of Cuba
Broadcasting, and appropriate non-governmental organizations and
private-sector entities, to examine the technological challenges and
opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba, including through
Federal Government support of programs and activities that encourage
freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom so
that the Cuban people can enjoy the free and unregulated flow of
information.

(j) The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland
Security shall continue to discourage dangerous, unlawful migration that
puts Cuban and American lives at risk. The Secretary of Defense shall
continue to provide support, as necessary, to the Department of State
and the Department of Homeland Security in carrying out the duties
regarding interdiction of migrants.

(k) The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary
of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the
Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall
annually report to the President regarding the engagement of the United
States with Cuba to ensure that engagement is advancing the interests of
the United States.

(l) All activities conducted pursuant to subsections (a) through
(k) of this section shall be carried out in a manner that furthers the
interests of the United States, including by appropriately protecting
sensitive sources, methods, and operations of the Federal Government.


Sec. 4. Earlier Presidential Actions.

(a) This memorandum supersedes and replaces both National
Security Presidential Directive-52 of June 28, 2007, U.S. Policy toward
Cuba, and Presidential Policy Directive-43 of October 14, 2016, United
States-Cuba Normalization.

(b) This memorandum does not affect either Executive Order 12807
of May 24, 1992, Interdiction of Illegal Aliens, or Executive Order
13276 of November 15, 2002, Delegation of Responsibilities Concerning
Undocumented Aliens Interdicted or Intercepted in the Caribbean Region.

Sec. 5. General Provisions.

(a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or
otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive
department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or
legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with
applicable laws and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any
right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in
equity by any party against the United States, its departments,
agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other
person.
(d) The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to
publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Source: National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the
Policy of the United States Toward Cuba | whitehouse.gov -
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/16/national-security-presidential-memorandum-strengthening-policy-united Continue reading
Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba, but rules will be stricter
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@miamiherald.com

The good news for Americans who want to travel to Cuba is they still
can, but a draft of President Donald Trump's presidential policy
directive indicates they shouldn't even think of sneaking away for a day
on a Cuban beach.

And they better keep detailed information on their travels. The draft
emphasizes that travelers must keep a full record of every transaction
they make in Cuba and hold on to it for five years.

The major change from the Obama era in Trump's Cuba policy draft: U.S.
travelers making educational people-to-people trips can no longer go to
the island on their own but must travel with groups accompanied by a
company representative.

A number of travel companies, airlines and cruise lines were reluctant
to comment on the draft details, preferring to wait until Friday when
Trump officially releases his new presidential directive on Cuba in
Miami. There are also no regulations accompanying the presidential
policy directive. Those are expected within 90 days.

But some are concerned that the new policy will dampen enthusiasm for
Cuban travel.

"Additional prohibitions and oversight on travel will only confuse
Americans and dissuade them from visiting Cuba, causing significant
economic hardship to Cuban entrepreneurs and average Cuban families, as
well as Americans working in the hospitality sector," said Collin
Laverty, president of Cuban Educational Travel, which arranges group
travel to the island.

Pedro Freyre, a Miami lawyer for cruise lines and other businesses that
have deals with Cuba, noted that it's hard to determine the scope and
precise nature of Trump's new policy until the regulations are drafted.

"The devil is in the details. It will be critically important to engage
U.S. regulators as they go forward with the drafting of the guidelines
to ensure that these are not overly burdensome to U.S. business," he said.

Because they haven't been able to see a final draft and review the
details of the new regulations, most travel companies declined to comment.

In general, the president is trying to navigate a delicate line between
cracking down on money that goes directly to the Cuban military and not
taking measures that would hurt Cuban citizens who have embraced private
enterprise, opening restaurants, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels,
and other businesses that cater to the growing number of travelers to
the island.

Visits by Cuban Americans and other U.S. travelers in 2016 reached
614,433, a 34 percent increase over 2015.

On one hand, the draft says the president wants to increase support of
the Cuban people through expansion of internet service, free media, free
enterprise, free association and lawful travel.

But on the other, it prohibits direct financial dealings with GAESA
(Grupo de Administración Empresarial SA), which controls hotel brands
such as Gaviota. Its portfolio in early 2017 included 64 hotels and
villas with more than 27,000 rooms. It even runs discotheques and
hunting preserves.

The Trump policy also allows family travel to Cuba to continue without
restrictions and places no limits on remittances, according to the draft.

That's good news for the Cuban community, said José "Pepe" Hernández,
president of the Cuban American National Foundation. "It wouldn't make
sense to put sanctions on the people," he said.

But he thinks sanctioning the Cuban military is a step in the right
direction. "One of the great problems we're seeing is that most of the
really valuable assets are now the property of the military or under
management by the military," Hernández said.

Under Obama, there were 12 categories of travel permitted, from
humanitarian and religious trips to people-to-people tours and travel
for athletic competitions. Travelers did not have to seek prior approval
from the U.S. government, although tourist travel wasn't permitted.
Those travel categories will remain under the Trump policy directive,
which also bars sun-and-beach vacations.

It's estimated that businesses run by GAESA control more than 40 percent
of the Cuban economy. GAESA's holdings range from the Mariel Special
Economic Development Zone, gas stations, convenience stores,
telecommunications companies, and a commercial airline to the Cuban
Export-Import Corp. (CIMEX), a Cuban enterprise whose holdings include
rental car agency Havanautos, free zones and container ships.

After the regulations are issued, travelers won't be able to book hotel
rooms at Gaviota hotels, which include the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski,
Havana's newest luxury hotel. Some of Cuba's best hotels are managed
under operating contracts with foreign hotel operators.

A full ban on business with military enterprises would have meant cruise
lines would not have been able to pay port fees, essentially cutting off
budding cruise travel to Cuba from the United States. But the draft
indicates that airport and seaport operations necessary for permissible
travel, cargo and trade are exempt from the prohibition on dealing with
military enterprises.

As recently as this week, Miami-based Victory Cruise Lines was approved
to sail to Cuba, making it the 10th U.S. line to get the green light for
Cuba. The luxury, all-inclusive line plans to sail to Havana, Maria la
Gorda, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba on its 202-passenger ships.

Victory President and Chief Executive Bruce Nierenberg said the cruise
line stands to win from the new regulations because all the shore
excursions it offers will follow U.S. guidelines.

"As an all-inclusive product, including all the tours, the tour guides
and arrangements on shore … we are perfectly positioned to be in full
compliance with any regulations covering how our guests use the Cuban
product," Nierenberg said.

"While there has been a significant anxiety about this announcement from
the administration and its potential impact on travel and tourism to
Cuba, the actual adjustments being called for are constructive ways to
get everyone's attention and bring Cuba and the U.S. closer together in
the long term," he said.

MIAMI HERALD STAFF WRITER CHABELI HERRERA CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY.

FOLLOW MIMI WHITEFIELD ON TWITTER: @HERALDMIMI

Source: Air, cruise travel to Cuba will continue under new Trump policy
| Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article156441624.html Continue reading
Where is Socialism in Cuba? / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 20 May 2107 — A downpour in May hits the corrugated metal
roof hard. Water filters in through several holes into the house of
Mireya, a blind, half-deaf seventy-one-year-old woman. She relies on
pieces of black rubber to cover and protect her most precious
possessions: an obsolete Chinese television with cathode ray tubes and a
foam mattress on her bed.

"Every time it rains, it's the same old story. Water comes in through
every crevice. On a day I least expect it, the roof will collapse and
bury me under it. That's really not what I want," says Mireya.
Frustrated, she no longer remembers how many times she has asked for
Social Security subsidies to pay for construction materials to repair
her ramshackle shed.

"They drag their feet or they turn me down. They say my two sons should
be the ones to do it. They send money but they're not doing well either.
Cuba stopped being a socialist society that gave help to those in need a
long time ago. We old people are the ones who are worse off. The state
does almost nothing to help the poorest people," says the old woman.

A retired schoolteacher, Mireya receives a monthly pension of 225 pesos,
the equivalent of ten dollars. It all goes to pay the light, gas and
water bills and to buy a handful of vegetables at the farmer's market.

To survive, she sells magazines and plastic bags on the street. "If I
walk two blocks, my feet swell. I am being treated for it but sometimes
I don't have the money to buy the medication. And if I do manage to come
up with the money, the pharmacy tells me they're out of it, that there's
a shortage. If it's not one thing, it's another," Mireya says in disgust.

Sergio, a retired metalworker, recalls that "in the early years of the
revolution, if you produced good results at work, you could get a home.
They would give you a week's vacation in a house on the beach. Medical
care was good. And though food was always rationed, you had a balanced
diet. What we have in Cuba today is capitalism in disguise. The old
slogan about socialism or death is only for poor people and fools. Those
with hard currency have access higher quality products. Managers live
just as well as any capitalist business owner."

"In the Nordic countries and Switzerland, workers who earn the minimum
wage and who, by those countries' standards, are living in poverty,
receive government assistance," notes a sociologist who have been
studying social welfare programs for five years. His research is based
on interviews with Cubans living in developed countries. "When a Cuban
retires in the United States, he receives about $740 a month in aid plus
$170 dollars in food stamps, even if he has never worked in the country.
Additionally, he receives free medical and psychiatric care if needed.
And he can still work part-time. If he earns less than two thousand
dollars, he does not have to pay income tax," he observes.

"Cuba ceased being a socialist society long ago. Being a poor
third-world country, the best it can offer is universal health care and
free education, but the quality of those has deteriorated substantially.
Costa Rica and Guyana, nations to which we should compare ourselves,
also offer these free services but they are of better quality," adds the
sociologist.

Adalberto, a Cuban living in Washington, is currently visiting the
island. Due to diabetes and the onset of Alzheimer's he had to retire at
age fifty-six. "I receive various medical benefits and, because I worked
for thirty years, a monthly pension of $2,400. I don't have a life full
of luxury but have I have the essentials and can help my family in
Havana. Let me tell you, real socialism is over there, in the U.S.," he
says.

The quality of life in Cuba has fallen markedly. Salaries are among the
lowest in the world. The costs of food and other basic commodities are
high. Allegedly socialist businesses such as the telecommunications
monopoly ETECSA charge extremely high prices for internet and mobile
phone service. Most Cubans cannot afford to vacation in their own
country due to the high price of hotel rooms. The military controls 80%
of the nation's economy and engages in the worst form state-sponsored
capitalism imaginable, taxing sales of goods by as much as 240%.

Cuban socialism can only be found in speeches by the military
bourgeoisie. The Castro regime has discreetly and without fanfare
abandoned the slogan "a revolution of the humble, by the humble and for
the humble." Instead, it now manages luxury hotels like the Kempinski
Manzana, where a watch can cost four thousand dollars and a week's stay
in Varadero is the equivalent of a year and a half's salary for the
average worker.

What are the humble left with? A ration of seven pounds of rice and five
pounds of sugar, twenty ounces of dried beans, one small bread roll per
day and half a kilogram of chicken per month.

Health care and education are seemingly free (which is possible because
salaries are so low). With any luck, one can hope for a stay at a
campsite during summer vacation season. But little else.

Source: Where is Socialism in Cuba? / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/where-is-socialism-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Cuba's Castro sets elections timetable

Cuba is set to hold municipal elections on October 22, a precursor to
the handover of power from President Raul Castro in 2018. Accession in
one-party systems is never easy, and Cuba is no exception.

President Castro has said he will step down next February at the end of
his second five-year term, but has indicated he will stay on as head of
the Communist Party, the only legal party in Cuba.
The date for provincial and national assembly elections will be
published "at the corresponding time," the ruling Communist Party
newspaper Granma said on Wednesday.
Municipal assembly delegates are nominated by neighbors and do not have
to belong to the Communist Party, although the path to the National
Assembly and ultimately to the presidency is controlled by the party.
Which way next?
The electoral notice coincides with a period of uncertainty for Cuba.
The group that has ruled the country since the 1959 revolution is dying
out and Cuba's main political and trade ally Venezuela is in crisis. For
the past decade, Venezuelan oil subsidies have been crucial to Cuba's
economy.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is expected to announce his Cuba
policy on Friday.
Trump may roll back some of former President Barack Obama's overtures to
the island, which included the restoration of relations and the
reopening of embassies.
Castro's first vice president, the 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, is
widely tipped to assume Castro's mantle, but there is also talk of a
radical break with the older generation and an embrace of the market
reforms that have been a feature of Castro's nine-year rule.
Castro took over the presidency in 2008 from his ailing brother and
revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died last November. As a cautious
pragmatist, many initially felt the younger sibling was a stopgap when
he formally assumed office.

Source: Cuba′s Castro sets elections timetable | News | DW | 15.06.2017
- http://www.dw.com/en/cubas-castro-sets-elections-timetable/a-39259785 Continue reading
Trump's Cuba Policy Changes Could Mean Lost Opportunities For Texas
The Port of Houston stands to benefit from increased energy and
agricultural trade with Cuba, if and when Congress lifts the U.S.
embargo on the island nation.
ANDREW SCHNEIDER | POSTED ON JUNE 13, 2017, 5:22 PM

President Trump is soon expected to announce plans that could tighten
restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. Such a move would end the
thaw in Cuban-American relations, begun under President Obama.
The Houston Airport System would feel the pinch first, if Trump imposes
fresh travel restrictions on Cuba. United Airlines now flies one round
trip between George Bush Intercontinental and Havana each Saturday. The
U.S. trade embargo remains in place as a matter of law. But Houston has
been poised to gain if and when that changes.
"It would take away from what we thought would be another great customer
for the Port of Houston and for Texas, because of our agricultural base
in West Texas and our energy base," says Democratic Congressman Gene Green.
Several of Green's Republican colleagues recently sent a letter to
President Trump, arguing that reversing course on Cuba would hurt U.S.
national security. Jenifer Sarver agrees. Sarver previously worked in
the George W. Bush Administration. She now serves on the Texas State
Council of Engage Cuba.
"Any sort of tightening of sanctions on Cuba is not going to benefit
us," Sarver says. "It's only going to further isolate the island, and
it's going to allow countries like Russia and China and others to
influence what's happening kind of in our region of the world."
Trump is expected to announce the policy changes in Miami on Friday.

Source: Trump's Cuba Policy Changes Could Mean Lost Opportunities For
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South Florida companies hoping to preserve Cuba gains await new Trump rules
Arlene Satchell
Sun Sentinel

When U.S.-based airlines and cruise lines flew or sailed through former
President Barack Obama's historic opening to Cuba, few expected that the
door might be slammed shut or partially closed by his successor in the
White House.

But that's the prospect those and other American companies are likely to
face this week as President Donald J. Trump prepares to announce
policies that could reimpose curbs on travel and business with the
Communist island.

Citing little progress by the Cuban government to improve human rights,
Florida lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario
Diaz-Balart have urged Trump to restore travel restraints under the
long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Havana.

South Florida could be the epicenter for fallout as the majority of
commercial flights and cruises that launched from the U.S. originate
from Florida airports and seaports.

A recent economic impact study by the advocacy group Engage Cuba
concluded that a complete rollback of the current policy on Cuba could
cost the American economy $6.6 billion and affect 12,295 jobs nationwide
during Trump's first term in office, according to a recent economic
impact study by the advocacy group Engage Cuba. Of that amount, airlines
and cruise lines would lose $3.5 billion with 10,154 jobs impacted. The
Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is seeking an end to the embargo.

After restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2014, Obama signed a
series of executive orders that gave U.S. businesses a small beach head
for doing business in Cuba.

Their reversal could have a "significant impact" in South Florida since
the region became a "jumping off place to Cuba," said John Thomas, an
associate professor of hospitality law at Florida International
University. Business from visitors in transit to and from Cuba could
also be at risk if flights and cruises sharply declined or disappeared,
Thomas said.

In a blog post Sunday, John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade
and Economic Council in New York, said the Trump administration is
weighing "ending self-directed travel and returning to group-only travel
for educational and people-to-people programs."

A snapshot of locally based services and other commerce with Cuba includes:

Airlines: JetBlue and Southwest offer regular nonstop service to select
Cuban cities including Havana from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
International Airport. Delta and American fly from Miami International
Airport.

Cruise lines: South Florida-based Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line
Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. offer Caribbean itineraries
with one or more Cuba stops from Port Everglades, PortMiami or Tampa.

Pearl Seas Cruises of Connecticut operated a series of 10-night voyages
to Cuba earlier this year from Port Everglades and has plans for more.

Finance: Since 2015, Stonegate Bank of Pompano Beach has maintained a
relationship with Banco Internacional de Comercio to provide money
transfer services for companies operating in Cuba. It also offers a
Cuba-enabled U.S. credit card to travelers visiting the country.

Freight: Since 2001, Crowley Maritime Corp. has provided container
freight service to Cuba from Port Everglades, transporting mostly
poultry and other food products.

Under Obama's liberalized rules, Americans are allowed to visit the
island without a license and need not travel in organized groups
provided the purpose of their trips falls under one of 12 categories.
They include family visits, research, or educational activities for
"people-to-people" exchanges.

Since the diplomatic rapprochement, many companies used the rules as
leeway to set up businesses in Cuba and establish contacts with
government agencies.

"Our new relationship with Cuba has led to tangible results for American
companies, created U.S. jobs, and strengthened Cuba's growing private
sector," said James Williams, Engage Cuba's president. "If President
Trump rolled back our Cuba policy, he would add job-killing government
regulations on U.S. businesses. Reimposing restrictions on traveling to
Cuba would force Americans to jump through even more bureaucratic hoops
to exercise their right to travel freely."

Most local company representatives and South Florida legal advisers were
hesitant to discuss any damage tighter regulations might bring.

"We really don't know what's going to happen at this point," said David
Seleski, CEO of Stonegate Bank. He said the bank does not maintain
physical storefronts in Cuba and has no concerns about getting its money
out. Still, if U.S.-Cuba financial regulations were to change, fewer
money transfers and less spending on those credit cards might be the result

While Cuba represents a small percentage of the cruise operators'
business, trips have resonated well with consumers and represent a
long-term growth potential, cruise executives have said.

But the companies indicated they have the flexibility to stage a retreat.

"Because our assets are mobile, our ships can be rerouted as needed to
alternate destinations if there is ever an issue that arises with any of
our itineraries," said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival Corp. spokesman

For some American interests, the uncertainty has caused them to place
future Cuba business plans on hold, said Hector Chichoni, partner at the
Duane Morris law firm in Miami.

Chichoni said he is advising clients to tread carefully and ensure they
follow existing rules. But he said some are "going for it," enticed by
the prospects for profits in telecommunications, healthcare and hospitality.

Peter Quinter, a Miami lawyer at GrayRobinson who also counsels clients
on Cuba, agreed caution is merited.

"I remain concerned about the enforcement of contracts under Cuban law,
but executives and entrepreneurs interested in doing business with the
Cuban government already know that doing so is not for the timid," he said.

Source: South Florida companies hoping to preserve Cuba gains await new
Trump rules - Sun Sentinel -
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Finnair seeks to connect China to Cuba via Helsinki
Jun 8, 2017 Aaron Karp

Finnair believes it can compete with Air China in connecting Chinese
passengers to Cuba when it launches Helsinki-Havana flights in December,
CEO Pekka Vauramo said.

Finnair, which is the midst of a period of rapid expansion, plans to
launch 2X-weekly Helsinki-Havana flights with an Airbus A350-900 Dec. 1.
The service will be seasonal, operating until March 23, 2018.

Speaking to ATW on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Cancun, Vauramo said
Finnair is eyeing a larger market than just passengers traveling to
Havana from Helsinki. "We see market connectivity from China to Cuba
through Helsinki," he said. "There is demand in China for service to Cuba."

Finnair currently operates flights from Helsinki to Beijing, Shanghai,
Chongqing, Guangzhou and Xi'an.

Beijing-based Air China operates a weekly Beijing-Montreal-Havana
routing with a Boeing 777-300ER, and has indicated it will eventually
switch to a 787-9 on the route. Vauramo said Chinese passengers may view
connecting to Havana via Helsinki on Finnair's A350s as a more desirable
way to travel between China and Cuba.

Finnair has nine A350s in its fleet currently and is scheduled to
receive two more this year, Vauramo said.

While the Cuba market has proved frustrating for US airlines,
"international traffic on non-US airlines has been very strong into Cuba
for the last few years," IATA regional VP-Americas Peter Cerda said
during a briefing at the AGM.

Aaron Karp aaron.karp@penton.com

Source: Finnair seeks to connect China to Cuba via Helsinki | Airports &
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