Cuban foreign minister describes ongoing talks between Havana and Madrid
Madrid 18 ABR 2017 - 12:11 CEST
Spain's King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have accepted an
official invitation to make an official visit to Cuba, which the Foreign
Ministry says will take place "as soon as possible," probably at the end
of this year, ahead of the retirement of the Caribbean island's leader,
Raúl Castro, in February 2018.
Felipe's father and predecessor, Juan Carlos, led a Spanish delegation
that attended the funeral of Fidel Castro in November 2016. During Juan
Carlos's 39 years in power, between 1975 and 2014, he only visited
Havana once: in 1999, when Cuba hosted the IX Ibero-American Summit.
José María Aznar, who was prime minister with Spain's conservative
Popular Party between 1996 and 2004, has said publicly that he refused
to sanction further visits by Juan Carlos to Cuba given the politician's
ideological differences with the regime in Havana.
King Felipe and Rajoy intend to visit Cuba "as soon as possible,"
according to official sources. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez
gave King Felipe the invitation at a meeting in the Zarzuela official
royal residence in Madrid on Monday during a private visit to the
Spanish capital. He later met with Rajoy.
The invitation comes after a May 2016 visit by the then-Spanish foreign
minister, José Manuel García-Margallo.
King Felipe and Queen Leticia are making a state visit to the United
Kingdom between June 6 and June 8, which means the visit to Cuba could
take place after summer, toward the end of the year.
During their conversation, Rodríguez and King Felipe discussed the
worsening situation in Venezuela where protesters have taken to the
streets after the opposition-controlled national congress was briefly
stripped off its powers. Speaking at a press conference afterward,
Rodríguez said Cuba would continue supporting the government of
President Nicolás Maduro to find the best "solutions and decisions." He
also referred to the 2002 coup that briefly toppled Maduro's
predecessor, Hugo Chávez.
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said after meeting with
Rodríguez that the invitation "symbolizes the will of Cuba to increase
links with Spain." He added that following the end of the year-long
political stalemate in Spain in October produced by two inconclusive
elections, Prime Minister Rajoy intended to "strengthen and intensify"
political, social, economic, trade, cultural, family and other ties
between the two countries.
In December, Spain raised the issue of renewing the EU's agreement with
Cuba, leaving behind the approach of the Aznar government and its focus
on human-rights issues. Rodríguez described talks between Madrid and
Havana as "multi-faceted", "promising," "cordial," "productive,"
"useful," and "beneficial."
Spain is Cuba's third-major trading partner and the
eighth-most-important source of tourists. Rodríguez praised Spain and
the EU's position regarding the ongoing US embargo.
Dastis pointed out that Spanish governments over the years have not
supported the trade embargo and hoped that the Trump administration
would continue the thaw begun by Barack Obama. On the subject of
political prisoners and human rights in Cuba, Dastis, who has offered to
travel to Cuba ahead of the visit, said both governments would address
all issues "with respect andtrust, and pragmatically."
English version by Nick Lyne.
Source: Spanish head of state visit to Cuba: Spain's King Felipe and PM
Rajoy to visit Cuba "as soon as possible" | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/04/18/inenglish/1492502808_481245.html Continue reading
DDC | Madrid | 31 de Marzo de 2017 - 04:08 CEST.
Both off and on the Island, in recent weeks several successful actions
have been taken against State-perpetrated violence.
Composed of lawyers, professors, human rights activists and political
and student leaders of several Latin American countries, a new
organization was announced: the International Commission for the
Investigation of Crimes against Humanity by the Castro Regime. Dedicated
in its first stage to documenting and investigating violations, it will
organize public hearings in various capitals and advocate for the
creation of an international tribunal to investigate these crimes.
In Havana, a delegation of the Ladies in White submitted to the Attorney
General of the Republic a detailed analysis of the repression suffered
by the women's movement from 2016 to 2017. The report was also presented
to the delegation of the European Union (EU) and the Apostolic
Nunciature, and in the next few days will be sent to the Military
Prosecutor's Office, the State Council and various embassies.
In Washington the Citizens for Racial Integration Committee provided the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a report covering the 187
cases of human rights violations of Afro-Cuban citizens. This report
will serve as the basis for efforts by various activists in their
dealings with Cuban authorities.
Also in the US, at the University of California Irvine (UCI) School of
Law, a group of independent journalists and activists from the Island
offered the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression first-hand
information on violations of this right. The group met with teachers and
students, and advised the Special Rapporteur to insist on his request
for an authorization to visit Cuba.
Meanwhile, at its last meeting the UN Committee against Enforced
Disappearances raised objections to the official Cuban report, called
for the Island's authorities to ratify the Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, and to recognize the International Criminal Court. It
also pointed out the fact that the Government does not currently
recognize the legitimacy of any human rights organizations in Cuba.
All this activity comes in addition to the sustained work, on and off
the Island, by organizations such as the Cuban Commission for Human
Rights and National Reconciliation, Archivo Cuba, the Foundation for
Human Rights in Cuba, the Cuban Human Rights Observatory, and Cubalex.
It is not just a question of documenting and publicizing each of the
violations and crimes, but holding the regime's representatives and
institutions accountable for their repressive and criminal record. The
joint work by international and Cuban organizations, although not
officially recognized, serves to pressure the repressors and serve
notice that their crimes are being methodically recorded and will not go
In recent months State-sponsored violence against opposition activists
and independent journalists has increased, but also growing and
strengthening are means and instruments to peacefully resist such
violence, and to keep the truth about our most recent history alive.
Source: Editorial: Holding the Repressors Accountable | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1490926100_30042.html Continue reading
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
In his last month in office, former President Barack Obama preempted
what could have been one of President Donald Trump's first actions on
Cuba: he suspended a section of the Helms-Burton Act that allows former
owners of commercial property expropriated by Cuba to sue foreign
companies "trafficking" in those confiscated holdings.
President Bill Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act, which among other
things sets strict conditions that must be met by Cuba before the U.S.
embargo against the island is lifted, in 1996 soon after Cuba shot down
two Brothers to the Rescue planes, resulting in the deaths of four South
But no one has ever filed suit because every U.S. president since has
routinely suspended the lawsuit provision every six months. The fear has
been that letting the lawsuits go forward would alienate important
trading partners such as Canada and EU countries whose citizens have
invested in Cuba. Opponents contend that Section III of Helms-Burton
violates international treaties by attempting to punish foreign
companies for business they conduct outside U.S. borders.
On Jan. 4, former Secretary of State John Kerry notified Congress that
Obama had suspended the lawsuit provision for another six months,
effective Feb. 1. The Trump administration won't be able to take action
on the provision until this summer but it could make other changes in
U.S. policy toward Cuba.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing Friday that a
"full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba" is under way. "The
president is committed to an agenda of ensuring human rights for all
citizens throughout the world. And as we review those policies in Cuba,
that will be forefront in their policy discussions," Spicer said.
Under Obama, there was a rapprochement with Cuba that included both
countries reopening respective embassies, the signing of 22 agreements
on topics of mutual interest, the resumption of regularly scheduled
commercial airline and cruise service to Cuba, and a limited commercial
and travel opening to the island.
Trump has said variously that he would get a better deal than Obama and
that he might consider shutting down the opening unless Cuba makes
Section III of Helms-Burton was designed to have a chilling effect on
foreign investment in Cuba. If the president doesn't exercise a waiver,
it would allow the preparation of lawsuits in U.S. federal courts
against those using, for example, tourism properties, mining operations
or seaports where there are prior claims.
"There are individuals who maintain they have Title III-actionable
claims relating to Jose Martí International Airport and the port at
Santiago de Cuba," said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade
and Economic Council. "United States-based air carriers and those from
other countries could find their assets attached if they do not avoid
the Republic of Cuba. Passenger cruise ships and cargo ships might avoid
docking and unloading [in Santiago] for fear of expensive and enduring
Cuba is actively courting foreign investors and says it needs foreign
investment of around $2.5 billion a year to reach a goal of 7 percent
annual economic growth. Since Cuba's new foreign investment law went
into effect in 2014, it has only attracted about $1.3 billion in
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Source: Obama suspended lawsuit provision of Helms-Burton Act | Miami
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article131092324.html Continue reading
Some worry whether Donald Trump will preserve President Obama's historic
re-opening of Cuba.
BY CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT ON 1/14/17 AT 4:10 PM
It seems like every travel organization in the country is out with its
"must visit" list for 2017. What do they say? They're literally all over
the map, but one place gets repeated mentions: Cuba.
The U.S. Tour Operators Association singled out the island nation as the
hottest destination of 2017, while the website for the travel guidebook
Frommer's listed Cuba as one of the best places to go this year. Based
on search data, the airfare website Skyscanner.com named Havana the top
destination of the year. Virtuoso, the travel agency consortium,
includes Havana on its list of "emerging" destinations.
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Readers also told me that the island nation was at the top of their list
"I would love to go to Cuba before it gets ruined by capitalism," wrote
Alicia Nieva-Woodgate, a Denver consultant.
Laurie Fullerton, an author who lives in Marblehead, Mass., feels the
same way. "Unfortunately," she wrote, "the cruise ships are on their way."
Their fears may be well-founded. Anyone who visited Eastern Europe just
after the fall of the Iron Curtain knows how quickly a destination can
go from affordable and interesting to expensive and overcommercialized.
For a year or two, places like Prague or Warsaw were affordable. And
then they were discovered by American tourists, and — poof! — there go
the authenticity and the bargains.
"I hate these sorts of pieces where the media has to arbitrarily
pronounce something is hot," says Doug Lansky, a longtime advocate for
sustainable tourism. "Then people flock there before the place can brace
for crowds or create a strategic plan, it gets overcrowded and
overdeveloped, then people are directed to the next hot spot, leaving
the destination discarded like a nightclub that's no longer trendy."
Lansky cites the example of Jericoacoara, a remote Brazilian fishing
village that, after a guidebook declared it the world's most beautiful
beach, became overrun by tourists.
Other travelers have more immediate concerns.
Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommers.com, notes that Cuba
made her site's list as a last-minute addition. "That was a
'visit-it-while-you-still-can' pick," she said.
Indeed, in the weeks since the election, some travel suppliers have cut
back their Cuba itineraries, anticipating a slump in demand, if not a
complete stop in tourism from the United States. For example, in
December, American Airlines announced that it would cut nearly a quarter
of its flights to Cuba for early 2017, citing weak demand.
The carrier reportedly plans to reduce daily round-trip flights between
the United States and Cuba from 13 to 10, starting in the middle of
February. [Americans can plan 'people-to-people' trips to Cuba, but what
does that mean?]
Mike Weingart, president of Air Land Sea Consultants, a Houston travel
agency, says that while he received "huge requests" for Cuba last year,
the future is uncertain. "Hopefully, the Trump administration will
continue in the good efforts made by the Obama administration," he says.
But until it does, he expects to see more queries than actual bookings.
The American Society of Travel Agents is pushing to keep Cuba open for
tourism, and with good reason. In a poll conducted late last year, 84
percent of its agents reported an uptick in Cuba interest by their
clients in 2016. And 78 percent are predicting even more interest in the
destination this year.
Travel agents don't want to give up the gains made during the past few
There may be an opportunity to open the doors to Cuba permanently.
Earlier this month, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 was
introduced in Congress by Reps. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Jim McGovern
(D-Mass.). The bill would repeal restrictions to Cuba.
The country's presence on many of this year's must-visit lists is no
fluke to someone like Anthony Rubenstein, the co-owner of the
Philadelphia-based Havana VIP Tours. Although he's expecting 2017 to be
his best year yet, he's strongly recommending trip-cancellation
insurance for any trip booked after Jan. 20.
"No one knows what Trump will do," Rubenstein says. "But I'm optimistic.
After all, he was interested in building a hotel and golf course there,
and his longtime associates from Starwood, Sheraton and American
Airlines are not going to accept him interfering with their businesses."
Writer and photographer Christopher Baker, who leads motorcycle tours of
"Trump is the big unknown," he says. "He could throw this into reverse.
Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott's latest book is How To Be The
World's Smartest Traveler (National Geographic). You can get real-time
answers to any consumer question on his new forum, elliott.org/forum, or
by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Want to Visit Cuba? Go While You Still Can -
http://europe.newsweek.com/want-visit-cuba-go-while-still-can-542498?rm=eu Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida
Juan Juan Almeida, 29 December 2017– On December 21 a leftist coalition
led by Spain's Podemos party introduced a legislative proposal that
could benefit thousands of Cubans, as well as people of other
nationalities, who are descendants of Spanish citizens born outside of
If approved, the bill submitted to the Chamber of Deputies would grant
Spanish citizenship to descendants of Spaniards who had emigrated.
Spanish law had already made a person whose mother or father were
native-born Spaniards eligible for citizenship. Law 52/2007, also known
as the "Historical Memory Law" or the "Grandchildren's Law" expanded the
opportunity and, within two years and eleven months, some 446,277 people
had acquired citizenship under the law. 95.2% of them were from Latin
America, with more than half of the applications made through Spanish
consulates in Cuba and Argentina.
If approved, this legislation will greatly expand the number of
descendants eligible for Spanish citizenship. It would allow the mother
country to legally recognize, among others, grandchildren of Spanish
women born in Spain and married to a Spaniard before the adoption of the
1978 Spanish constitution and children of those who obtained citizenship
through Law 52/2007.
"Thousands of legislative proposals are made by various parliamentary
factions and not even 10% of them manage to get the necessary support in
the Spanish parliament. The Podemos proposal does not have this
support," says a source within the ruling party.
However, the proposal by the leftists comes at a significant as well as
opportune moment for thousands of Cubans of Spanish descent who were not
covered by the Historical Memory Law.
The year 2016, which is quickly coming to an end, was an important year
for the Cuban government. In terms of marketing, it was excellent.
President Barack Obama's visit at the end of March aroused people's hope
for a change. With the resumption of relations, they watched high-level
US officials parade through the Havana airport. The Old World's interest
in strengthening political-economic dialogue with the island culminated
in the repeal of the the EU's "Common Position" towards Cuba. And the
visit to Cuba by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was the first by a
head of government from that country.
But in spite of all the publicity and the VIP visitors, the Cuban
people's prospects for development are obsolete and the arrival of much
anticipated changes is nowhere in sight.
This legislation would encourage many Cubans to look for an alternative
emigration route in light of the still ambiguous outlook for relations
between the United States and Cuba.
I personally am unaware how this law in the land of Serrano ham would
work. But I do know that, today, Spain is not prepared to handle an
influx of 100,000 new citizens, who will surely arrive seeking assistance.
Source: Legislative Proposal Would Grant Spanish Citizenship to More
Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/legislative-proposal-would-grant-spanish-citizenship-to-more-cubans-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
By Silvio Canto, Jr.
December 29, 2016
For 10 years, Raúl has benefited a lot from having Fidel around. Fidel
always showed up at the big celebrations or wrote a column.
Forget that. It won't be pretty in 2017, as we see in this report from
Castro must manage these twin economic and diplomatic challenges during
a year of transition. The 85-year-old general has promised to hand over
the office in early 2018 to a successor, widely expected to be Miguel
Diaz-Canel, a 56-year-old official with neither the Castro name nor
revolutionary credentials. The change will occur without Castro's older
brother Fidel, the revolutionary leader whose largely unseen presence
endowed the system he created with historical weight and credibility in
the eyes of many Cubans before he died last month at 90.
"Even if those two events hadn't taken place -- Trump's victory and
Fidel's death -- 2017 was going to be a very difficult year for Cuba,"
said Cuban economist Omar Everleny Perez, a visiting professor at Keio
University in Tokyo.
Cuba publishes few credible economic statistics, but experts expect the
country to end this year with gross domestic product growth of 1 percent
or less. It maintained a rate close to 3 percent from 2011-2015.
By the way, it's nice to see an analyst admit that Cuba produces very
little credible economic data. This is why so many have been skeptical
of health care or literacy gains boasted by Cuba.
Back to the economy.
Indeed, there are tourists, but it does not seem to help the Cuban
economy. This is because Cubans have very little to gain from these
hotels and restaurants where tourists are spending their dollars.
Add to this the mismanagement of Cuba's economy, and you have profits
that end up in the Castro accounts rather than the pockets of the Cuban
We are not saying this is new. Cuba has always been for the benefit of
Castro and the gang that protects him. However, this is the first time
that they are going to do without a USSR subsidy, EU loans, cheap
Venezuela oil, or a U.S. president willing to go around the embargo.
It will be Raúl vs. reality in 2017, and the Cuban elites don't have a
clue of what will hit them. There is no one waiting to bail them out
Source: Blog: 2017: 'Muy malo' for Cuba -
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/12/2017_muy_malo_for_cuba.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 21 December 2016 – Walking around
the block with a suitcase in hand has been added to the rituals to mark
the end of the year, as a plea to be able to travel outside the country.
Many Cubans fear, however, that the situation is becoming complicated
with the pending arrival of Donald Trump to the White House.
The president-elect of the United States has been so contradictory in
his declarations about Cuba that no one knows what will happen between
the two countries when he is installed in the Oval Office. Cubans on the
island seem less concerned about a possible setback in the diplomatic
thaw, than about the loss of their immigration privileges.
The debate over the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, which awards
benefits to migrant Cubans arriving in the United States, could put an
end to the dreams of many in the new year. Foreign consulates in Havana,
especially those of Latin American and European countries, have seen a
surge in visa applications.
"We are overworked," the custodian of the Mexican consulate site in the
Miramar neighborhood told 14ymedio. Outside the building, Roberto, who
prefers not to give his last name, managed to get a temporary visa to
travel to the land of the Aztecs. This Thursday he will fly to Cancun,
the cheapest flight between the two countries. "I'm working against the
clock," he says, while finishing the bureaucratic paperwork before the
Roberto has a long journey ahead of him, plagued with obstacles and
dangers to reach the US border, but he feels confident. "My brother who
lives in Miami is going to help me and pay for the whole trip," he
explains. "It will be much more expensive, but I have to get there
before January 20th," he says.
Trump's inauguration date has become the goal in a marathon race for
thousands of Cubans. People who in recent months have liquidated their
possessions, managed to get a visa and are preparing to leave.
Most consulates close their doors at the end of December for the
Christmas holidays, an element that contributes to the desperation.
Departures by raft have also increased. The US Coast Guard recently
reported that since last October 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year,
around 1,000 Cubans have tried to enter the US illegally by sea. For
fiscal year 2016, which ended on 30 September, the figure reached 7,411,
compared to 4,473 for the same period in 2015.
With this exceptional winter, without cold and with an ocean free of
hurricanes, many Cubans embark on the route to Florida in makeshift
crafts. Raul Castro's government has redoubled its vigilance along the
coast lately, but the rafters choose to leave from remote places, among
the mangroves or the rocks.
"I don't know if Trump will be good for us or not, but I'm not going to
stay here to find out," says Yusmila Arcina, who worked as an accountant
for a state company until she decided to "make the leap." The young
woman considers herself fortunate, in part, for having obtained a work
visa for the Schengen Area (a free movement zone made up of most of the
EU countries and others in the area). From Europe, where she expects it
will be easier, she hopes to get a tourist visa to travel to the US,
using the old continent as a springboard to realize her "American Dream."
"Yes or no, we have to take advantage now," suggests the young women,
who has no family in the United States. Arcina has paid for the
paperwork and a plane ticket in the high season, which cost her around
2,000 Convertible Cuban pesos (roughly the same in dollars), with the
sale of a mid 20th century Cadillac that belonged to her father. "That
car has been my ticket to freedom," she jokes.
Arcina's boyfriend is stranded in Colombia waiting to take the route
through the Darien Gap. The challenge for both of them is to reach US
territory "before that millionaire gets into office." Both hope "to
watch the inauguration ceremony on local TV in Miami," says Arcina.
Trump has fired the starting gun, and each one, on their own side, has
embarked on their migration journey.
Source: On Your Marks, Get Set…Trump / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/on-your-marks-get-set-trump-14ymedio-marcelo-hernandez/ Continue reading
The Council of the Union European (EU) is lying when it says that the agreement signed with the dictatorship of Raúl Castro in Brussels on 12 December, which put an end to the Common Position adopted in 1996, aims to "strengthen democracy and respect for human rights" in Cuba, as alleged by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica MogheriniContinue reading
ELENA LARRINAGA | Madrid | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 - 12:47 CET.
Yesterday European Union/Cuba Bilateral Agreement was signed, though it
still must be ratified by the European Union and the parliaments of its
member states. Personally, I cannot support signing it, due to both its
symbolism and its contents. A democratic institution supporting a
dictatorship makes no sense. What does this mean, then? It is, above
all, a symbol.
The Common Position did not prevent commercial transactions with Cuba,
nor constrain bilateral agreements between the Island and the countries
of the European Union. Its importance stemmed from its united stance in
favor of Cuban democrats, and its rejection of a single-party political
system that has been trampling the rights of the Cuban people for over
half a century. It meant a legitimation of the Cuban opposition, to the
detriment of the Government's positions. But this situation has,
supposedly, changed. Why?
The High Commissioner of the Union European has announced that Cuba has
changed. Does Ms. Mogherini really believe that Cuba has implemented the
structural changes essential for the country to merit the friendship and
assistance of international bodies? The rhetoric coming out of Havana
The European Union and all its citizens desire to help the Cuban people
recover what they have every right to: their sovereignty and freedom.
The differences are procedural. But let us get the diagnosis right, to
keep from applying the wrong cure.
And let us hope that, once again, we are not guilty of wishful thinking,
lest we suffer a rude awakening by confusing what we would like to see
Source: EU-Cuba Agreement: Wishful Thinking? | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1481716067_27413.html Continue reading
Yesterday European Union/Cuba Bilateral Agreement was signed, though it still must be ratified by the European Union and the parliaments of its member states. Personally, I cannot support signing it, due to both its symbolism and its contents. A democratic institution supporting a dictatorship makes no sense. What does this mean, then? It is, above all, a symbol.Continue reading
The country had been the only Latin American state not to have a
'dialogue and co-operation' deal with the bloc.
BY JOSH LOWE ON 12/13/16 AT 1:08 PM
The European Union has ended a 20-year block on diplomatic relations
with Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro.
European Commission officials have agreed to drop a policy, in place
since 1996, that said Cuba must first improve its human rights standards
before co-operating more closely with the EU.
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The country had been the only Latin American state not to have a
"dialogue and co-operation" deal with the EU.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, European Union foreign
affairs chief Federica Mogherini and representatives from the 28 EU
member states signed the agreement at a Brussels ceremony.
The EU imposed sanctions on Cuba in 2003 and reopened discussions in 2008.
Parrilla said the agreement "demonstrates that with goodwill and respect
it is possible to make progress and resolve differences," France 24
Source: EU Unfreezes Cuba Relations After Fidel Castro's Death -
http://europe.newsweek.com/eu-cuba-deal-relations-freeze-diplomacy-531290 Continue reading