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Tourism

14ymedio, Havana, 20 May 2017 — Cuba seeks to take advantage of the recent rise of tourism, one of the locomotives of the island’s economy, to boost other areas and local services, in which the tourism sector invested more than 310 million Cuban convertible pesos in 2016. This figure represents approximately 64% of the operating … Continue reading "Cuba Seeks To Use Tourism Boom To Boost Other Economic Areas" Continue reading
… expansion into the Cuban market, which will allow Cuban hoteliers to sell … the Cuban ministry of tourism, over four million tourists visited Cuba in … . If restrictions are lifted, the Cuban government will have a better … working around the clock with Cuban hoteliers to offer this iconic … Continue reading
… expansion to the Cuban market that will allow Cuban hoteliers to sell … the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, over four million tourists visited Cuba in … . If restrictions are lifted, the Cuban government will have a higher … working around the clock with Cuban hoteliers to offer this iconic … Continue reading
… booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, hoping to capitalize on a … have already ventured into the Cuban market since the United States … dampened US interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives … still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama … Continue reading
Expedia said on Tuesday it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, hoping to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island. Expedia joins a dozen US airlines and cruise operators that have already ventured into t... Continue reading
HAVANA May 23 U.S. online … U.S. interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives … still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama … . Americans previously had to reserve Cuban hotels principally through travel agencies … Continue reading
Turismo, el pastel solo para unos pocos El sector debería ser inclusivo con los inversionistas cubanos Lunes, mayo 22, 2017 | Miriam Leiva LA HABANA, Cuba.- El turismo podría convertirse en la industria propulsora del despertar productivo y económico en Cuba. El pequeño archipiélago del mar Caribe, a 90 millas de Estados Unidos, posee una […] Continue reading
El sector debería ser inclusivo con los inversionistas cubanos Continue reading
Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García

Iván García, 11 May 2017 — Scarcely a block away from the majestic Grand
Hotel Manzana Kempinski, whose inauguration is expected next June 2nd,
next to the Payret cinema, a state-owned cafeteria sells an acidic and
insipid hamburger with bread for the equivalent of 50 centavos. Workers
in the neighbourhood and beggars who survive on asking foreigners for
change, form a small queue to buy the inedible hamburger.

The hotel, built by Kempinski, a company started in Berlin in 1897,
stands in the place of the old Manzana de Gómez, the first shopping mall
on the island, at Neptuno, San Rafael, Zulueta and Monserrate streets,
in the heart of Havana. Opened in 1910, throughout its history, the
Manzana de Gómez housed everything from offices, lawyers' chambers and
commercial consultants to businesses, cafes and restaurants and other
enterprises.

Very near to Manzana Kempinski, the first five star hotel there, will be
the Cuban parliament, still a work in progress, which will have as its
headquarters the old National Capitol, a smaller scale replica of the
Congress in Washington.

The splendid hotel, owned by Gaviota, a Cuban military corporation, and
managed by the Kepinski organisation, can boast of having the old Centro
Asturiano, now the home of the Fine Arts Museum's private collections,
the Havana Gran Teatro and the Inglaterra, Telégrafo, Plaza and Parque
Central hotels as neighbours.

Apart from the recently-built Parque Central Hotel, the other three
hotels are situated in 19th century or Republican era buildings, and are
among the most beautiful in the city. In the centre of these
architectural jewels we find Havana Park, presided over by the statue of
the national hero, José Martí.

In those four hotels, you will find shops selling exclusively in
convertible pesos (CUC), a strong currency created by Fidel Castro for
the purpose of buying high quality capitalist goods.

Incidentally, they pay their employees in the Cuban Pesos (CUP), or
national currency. In the tourism, telecoms and civil aviation sectors,
their employees only earn 10-35 CUC as commission.

The chavito, as the Cubans term the CUC, is a revolving door which
controls the territory between the socialist botch-ups, shortages and
third rate services and the good or excellent products invoiced by the
"class enemies", as the Marxist theory has it, which supports the olive
green bunch which has been governing the island since 1959.

21st century Cuba is an absurd puzzle. Those in charge talk about
defending the poor, go on about social justice and prosperous
sustainable socialism, but the working class and retired people are
worse off.

The regime is incapable of starting up stocked markets, putting up good
quality apartment blocks, reasonably priced hotels where a workman could
stay or even maintaining houses, streets and sidewalks in and around the
neighborhoods of the capital. But it invests a good part of the gross
domestic product in attracting foreign currency.

José, a private taxi driver, thinks that it's good to have millions of
tourists pouring millions of dollars into the state's cash register.
"But, the cash should then be reinvested in improving the country. From
the '80's on, the government has bet on tourism. And how much money has
come over all those years? And in which productive sectors has it been
invested?" asks the driver of a clapped-out Soviet-era Moskovitch.

Government officials should tell us. But they don't. In Cuba, supposedly
public money is managed in the utmost secrecy. Nobody knows where the
foreign currency earned by the state actually ends up and the officials
look uncomfortable when you ask them to explain about offshore
Panamanian or Swiss bank accounts.

In this social experiment, which brings together the worst of socialism
imported from the USSR with the most repugnant aspects of African style
capitalist monopoly, in the ruined streets of Havana, they allow Rapid
and Furious to be filmed, they tidy up the Paseo del Prado for a Chanel
parade or open a Qatar style hotel like the Manzana Kampinski, in an
area surrounded by filth, where there is no water and families have only
one meal a day to eat.

In a car dealer in Primelles on the corner of Via Blanca, in El Cerro,
they sell cars at insulting prices. The hoods of the cars are covered in
dust and a used car costs between $15-40,000. A Peugeot 508, at $300k,
is dearer than a Lamborghini.

For the authorities, the excessive prices are a "revolutionary tax", and
with this money they have said they will defray the cost of buying city
buses. It's a joke: they have hardly sold more than about forty
second-hand cars in three years and public transport goes from bad to worse.

For Danay, a secondary school teacher, it isn't the government opening
hotels and luxury shops that annoys her, "What pisses me off is that
everything is unreal. How can they sell stuff that no-one could afford
even if they worked for 500 years? Is it some kind of macabre joke, and
an insult to all Cuban workers?" Danay asks herself, while she hangs
around the shopping centre in the Hotel Kempinski.

In the wide reinforced concrete passageways, what you normally see there
is amazing. With his girl friend embracing him, Ronald, a university
student, smiles sarcastically as he looks in a jewelry shop window at
some emeralds going for more than 24k convertible pesos. "In another
shop, a Canon camera costs 7,500 CUC. It's mad." And he adds:

"In other countries they sell expensive items, but they also have items
for more affordable prices. Who the hell could buy that in Cuba, my
friend? Apart from those people (in the government), the Cuban major
league baseball players who get paid millions of dollars, and the people
who have emigrated and earn lots of money in the United States. I don't
think tourists are going to buy things they can get more cheaply in
their own countries. If at any time I had any doubts about the essential
truth about this government, I can see it here: we are living in a
divided society. Capitalism for the people up there, and socialism and
poverty for us lot down here".

Security guards dressed in grey uniforms, with earphones in their ears
and surly-looking faces, have a go at anyone taking photos or connecting
to the internet via wifi. People complain "If they don't let you take
photos or connect to the internet, then they are not letting Cubans come
in", says an irritated woman.

In the middle of the ground floor of what is now the Hotel Kempinski,
which used to be the Manzana de Gómez mall, in 1965 a bronze effigy of
Julio Antonio Mella, the student leaders and founder of the first
Communist party in 1925, was unveiled. The sculpture has disappeared
from there.

"In the middle of all this luxurious capitalism, there is no place for
Mella's statue", comments a man looking at the window displays with his
granddaughter. Or probably the government felt embarrassed by it.

Iván García

Note: About the Mella bust, in an article entitled Not forgotten or
dead, published 6th May in the Juventud Rebelde magazine, the journalist
Ciro Bianchi Ross wrote: "I have often asked myself what was the point
of the Mella bust which they put in the middle of the Manzana de Gómez
mall and then removed seven years ago, before the old building started
to be transformed into a luxury hotel, and which seems to bother people
now. Mella had nothing in common with that building. The Manzana de
Gómez had no connection with his life or his political journey. Apart
from the fact that from an artistic point of view it didn't look like
anything".

Translated by GH

Source: Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-forbidden-fruit-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Unique Sandbar Coastal Ecosystem in Cuba Calls for Climate Solutions
By Ivet González

BARACOA, Cuba, May 19 2017 (IPS) - A battered bridge connects the centre
of Baracoa, Cuba´s oldest city, with a singular dark-sand sandbar, known
as Tibaracón, that forms on one of the banks of the Macaguaní River
where it flows into the Caribbean Sea in northeastern Cuba.

Just 13 wooden houses with lightweight roofs shield the few families
that still live on one of the six coastal sandbars exclusive to Baracoa,
a mountainous coastal municipality with striking nature reserves, whose
First City, as it is locally known, was founded 505 years ago by Spanish
colonialists.

These long and narrow sandbars between the river mouths and the sea have
a name from the language of the Araucan people, the native people who
once populated Cuba. The sandbars are the result of a combination of
various rare natural conditions: short, steep rivers, narrow coastal
plains, heavy seasonal rainfall and the coral reef crest near the coast.

Local experts are calling for special treatment for these sandbars
exclusive to islands in the Caribbean, in the current coastal
regulation, which is gaining momentum with Tarea Vida (Life Task),
Cuba´s first plan to tackle climate change, approved on April 27 by the
Council of Ministers.

Baracoa, with a population of 81,700, is among the municipalities
prioritised by the new programme due to its elevation. Authorities point
out that the plan, with its 11 specific tasks, has a more far-reaching
scope than previous policies focused on climate change, and includes
gradually increasing investments up to 2100.
"I was born here. I moved away when I got married, and returned seven
years ago after I got divorced," dentist María Teresa Martín, a local
resident who belongs to the Popular Council of La Playa, a peri-urban
settlement that includes the Macaguaní tibaracón or sandbar, told IPS.

The sandbar is the smallest in Baracoa, the rainiest municipality in
Cuba, while the largest – three km in length – is at the mouth of the
Duaba River.

"It's not easy to live here," said Martín. "The tide goes out and all
day long you smell this stench, because the neighbours throw all their
garbage and rubble into the river and the sea, onto the sand," she
lamented, while pointing out at the rubbish that covers the dunes and is
caught in the roots of coconut palm trees and on stranded fishing boats.

The Macaguaní River runs down from the mountains and across the city,
along Baracoa bay, which it flows into. It stinks and is clogged up from
the trash and human waste dumped into it, one of the causes of the
accelerated shrinking of the tibaracón.

"We even used to have a street, and there were many more houses," said
Martín.

"We have lost other communication routes with the city. We have to
evacuate whenever there is a cyclone or tsunami warning," said the local
resident, who is waiting to be resettled to a safer place in the city.

Local fisherman Abel Estévez, who lives across from Martín, would also
like to move inland, but he is worried that he will be offered a house
too far from the city. "I live near the sea and live off it. If they
send us far from here, how am I going to support my daughter? How will
my wife get to her job at the hospital?" he remarked.

Such as is happening with La Playa, the
Coastal regulations establish that municipal authorities must relocate
to safer places 21 communities – including La Playa – along the
municipality's 82.5 km of coastline, of which 13.9 are sandy.

"We have exclusive and very vulnerable natural resources, such as the
tibaracones," explained Ricardo Suárez, municipal representative of the
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. "They are a sandy strip
between the river and the sea, which makes them fragile ecosystems at
risk of being damaged by the river and the sea."

The disappearance of the tibaracones would change the "coastal
dynamics", explained the geographer. "Where today there is sand,
tomorrow there could be a bay, and that brings greater exposure to
penetration by the sea, which puts urban areas at risk and salinises the
soil and inland waters," he told IPS.

He said that these sandbars are affected by poor management and human
activities, such as sand extraction, pollution and indiscriminate
logging, in addition to climate change and the resulting elevation of
the sea level. He also pointed out natural causes such as geological
changes in the area.

In his opinion, the actions to protect the sandbars are band-aid
measures, since they are destined to disappear. He said this can be
slowed down unless natural disasters occur, like Hurricane Matthew,
which hit the city on Oct. 4-5, 2016.

Suárez is the author of a study that shows the gradual shrinking of the
tibaracones located in Baracoa, which serve as "natural barriers
protecting the city". He also showed how the population has been
migrating from the sandbars, due to their vulnerability.

In the shrinking community where Martín and Estévez live, between the
mouth of the Macaguaní River and the sea, there were 122 houses in 1958.
And on the Miel River tibaracón, at the eastern end of the city, there
were 45 houses in 1978, while today there are only a few shops and
businesses.

The unique Miel River delta used to be 70 metres wide in the middle of
the last century, while today the narrowest portion is just 30 metres
wide. In Macaguaní, meanwhile, the shrinking has been more abrupt, from
80 metres back then, to just six metres in one segment, the study found.

The expert recommends differentiated treatment for these ecosystems,
which are not specifically contemplated under Decree Law 212 for the
Management of Coastal Areas, in force since 2000, which is the main
legal foundation for the current land-use regulation which requires the
removal of buildings that are harmful to the coasts.

Suárez said the removal of structures on sandy soil surrounded by water
must be followed with preventive measures to preserve the sand, such as
reforestation with native species.

In the study, he notes that the government's Marine Studies Agency, a
subsidiary of the Geocuba company in the neighbouring province of
Santiago de Cuba, proposes the construction of a seawall and embankment
to protect the Miel River delta. And he emphasised the importance of
carrying out similar research in the case of Macaguaní.

Cuba´s Institute of Physical Planning (IPF) inspected the 5,746 km of
coastline in the Cuban archipelago, and found 5,167 illegalities
committed by individuals, and another 1,482 by legal entities. The
institute reported that up to February 2015, 489 of the infractions
committed by legal entities had been eradicated.

When the authorities approved the Life Task plan, the IPF assured the
official media that the main progress in coastal management has been
achieved so far on the 414 Cuban beaches at 36 major tourist areas.
Tourism is Cuba´s second-biggest source of foreign exchange, after the
export of medical services.

The Greater Caribbean launches a project

The 25 members of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) approved on
Mar. 8 in Havana a regional project to curb erosion on the sandy
coastlines, promote alternatives to control the phenomenon, and drive
sustainable tourism.

The initiative, set forth by Cuba during the first ACS Cooperation
Conference, in which governments of the bloc participated along with
donor agencies and countries, including the Netherlands and South Korea,
was incorporated into the ACS´ 2016-2018 Action Plan, which will extend
until 2020.

The project, currently in the dissemination phase to raise funds,
already has a commitment from the Netherlands to contribute one billion
dollars, while South Korea has initially offered three million dollars.

The initiative will at first focus on 10 island countries, althoug
others plan to join in, since the problem of erosion of sandy coastlines
affects local economies that depend on tourism and fishing.

Source: Unique Sandbar Coastal Ecosystem in Cuba Calls for Climate
Solutions | Inter Press Service -
http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/05/unique-sandbar-coastal-ecosystem-in-cuba-calls-for-climate-solutions/ Continue reading
… ) approved on Mar. 8 in Havana a regional project to curb … neighbouring province of Santiago de Cuba, proposes the construction of a … km of coastline in the Cuban archipelago, and found 5,167 … 414 Cuban beaches at 36 major tourist areas. Tourism is Cuba´s … Continue reading
Iván García, 11 May 2017 — Scarcely a block away from the majestic Grand Hotel Manzana Kempinski, whose inauguration is expected next June 2nd, next to the Payret cinema, a state-owned cafeteria sells an acidic and insipid hamburger with bread for the equivalent of 50 centavos. Workers in the neighbourhood and beggars who survive on asking … Continue reading "Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García" Continue reading
Compañías hoteleras de EEUU podrían estar pensando en desembarcar en Cuba 16 de mayo de 2017 – 17:05 La participación de compañías hoteleras estadounidenses en la conferencia anual de la Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment esta semana en La Habana es considerada por especialistas como una buena señal El régimen cubano y varios asesores […] Continue reading

El Gobierno y varios asesores de turismo estarían preparando el desembarco en la Isla de grandes compañías hoteleras.

La conferencia anual de la Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment se inauguró esta semana en La Habana y la lista de patrocinadores parece el quién es quién de la industria hotelera de Estados Unidos, según apunta la agencia de noticias Reuters.

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HAVANA May 16 The annual Latin … Investment Conferences meeting opened in Havana this week and the list … travel restrictions beginning in 2015. Cuba reported 4 million arrivals last … and lodge their nationals when Cuban tourism opened up after the … Continue reading
HAVANA – More than 200 hotel firms … the SAHIC business forum in Havana to explore the possibilities of … , Archipelago International and Ascend, that Cuba has a portfolio of business … developing the resort farthest from Havana and Varadero. Arturo Garcia, president … Continue reading
Havana, May 15 (RHC)-- The … Monday in Havana, aimed at discussing the boom in the Cuban industry … Tourism Investment Conference, noted that Cuba will probably be placed second … Continue reading

(EFE).- Más de 200 empresas hoteleras de todo el mundo se reunieron este lunes en La Habana, en el foro de negocios Sahic, para abordar las posibilidades de inversión del sector turístico en la región del Caribe, donde Cuba es uno de los destinos con más potencial de crecimiento en los próximos años. Cuba ya alcanzó a principios de este mes el umbral de los 2 millones de visitantes -39 días antes que el año pasado-, lo que implica un crecimiento del 15% y una buena tendencia para el conjunto de 2017, cuando se espera superar el récord de los 4 millones, destacó en la inauguración del evento el viceministro de Turismo, Alexis Trujillo.

Ante los grupos hoteleros presentes el evento, como Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, IHG, Hyatt, JLL, Choice, Archipiélago o Ascend, el viceministro recordó que Cuba cuenta con una cartera de negocios para el capital extranjero, con 110 proyectos de "gestión hotelera, renovación de la planta habitacional e incrementar su número y estándar de calidad".

"Dicha cartera también está dirigida a diversificar el producto turístico, captar mercados de alto estándar y extender la rama extrahotelera hacia desarrollos inmobiliarios asociados a campos de golf, complementos de marina y parques temáticos con altas tecnologías", subrayó Trujillo.

El viceministro recordó que Cuba está preparando las infraestructuras para desarrollar nuevos polos turísticos como la península Ramón de Antilla, en la provincia de Holguín; Cayo Cruz, en Camagüey; o Cayo Paredón Grande en Ciego de Ávila.

A principios de mes Cuba celebró en la provincia oriental de Holguín su Feria de Turismo, donde lanzó como productos turísticos la localidad de Gibara y la playa de Guardalavaca, para diversificar la oferta turística de la Isla más allá de La Habana y Varadero.[[QUOTE:El viceministro de Turismo, Alexis Trujillo, ha destacado que Cuba espera superar el récord de los 4 millones de turistas en 2017]]Arturo García, presidente de Sahic (Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment Conferences), señaló que Cuba tiene potencial para convertirse en el segundo destino de Latinoamérica, sólo después de México, con la llegada de 12 millones de visitantes.

También participó en la sesión inaugural del evento el presidente del Consejo Mundial de Viajes y Turismo (WTTC, en inglés), David Scowsill, quien aportó una panorámica del sector a nivel mundial, que creció el año pasado un 3,3%, con unos ingresos totales de 7,6 billones de dólares, lo que implica un 10% de la economía global.

El turismo genera en el mundo 292 millones de empleos, el 30% de todo el sector servicios, siete veces más que los trabajos del sector del automóvil o cuatro veces más que el sector financiero, señaló Scowsill.

El presidente de WTTC recordó que 2017 ha sido declarado por la ONU como el año internacional del turismo sostenible para el desarrollo, ya que fomenta el"desarrollo económico, el intercambio cultural, el mutuo entendimiento en un entorno pacífico".

"Debemos asegurar que el crecimiento de nuestro sector -previsto de un 4% anual para la próxima década- no se produce a costa de perjudicar los destinos, y la gente, las culturas y el medio ambiente de esos lugares", indicó Scowsill.

El presidente de WTTC también insistió en el compromiso de la industria turística por administrar las cantidades de turistas que visitan lugares vulnerables al cambio climático.

Continue reading
Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different
MAY 15, 2017 BY MONIKA DONIMIRSKA

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cuba is
experiencing a brain drain, though it's not the kind that forecasters
were predicting when the long-closed country began opening its borders.
It's internal brain drain, says Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of
the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business Office of
Global Initiatives and Center for International Business Education and
Research.

The small island nation's doctors and other highly skilled workers
aren't emigrating for more lucrative jobs in Miami and elsewhere. In
fact, they aren't emigrating at all. They're staying in Cuba, but moving
toward the burgeoning hospitality sector.

And it's posing a major new threat to Cuba, Bellinger says. „Cubans are
deciding that they'll have a higher quality of life if they enter the
travel and service industry."

To be sure, some highly skilled Cubans – doctors, lawyers, professors
and others – are leaving the country in search of opportunity. But many
more who are staying in Cuba are opting to leave their jobs because of
low state salaries or are taking on second jobs, becoming taxi drivers,
waiters and bellhops – jobs involving regular interaction with foreign
visitors and their hard currency. The government is experiencing a sort
of „drain" as well, as state workers flee their jobs for the more
lucrative private sector.

„These are people who are leaving the jobs for which they have been
trained," Bellinger says. „Last year, we met an English teacher who left
his rural school position to become a tour guide, both to use the
language he had learned and to gain access to hard currency."

Cuba's universities have long been regarded as the best in Latin
America, but in recent years, gross enrollment has been plummeting,
sparking additional worries.

The country maintains two forms of legal tender: the Cuban peso (CUP)
and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S.
dollar, and is many times more valuable than the CUP. Neither trades on
the global forex market. Most Cubans are paid in the weaker peso (CUP),
limiting their buying power. Visitors to the country use the CUC and
leave tips, and that's helping to fuel Cuba's internal brain drain.

Bellinger has been traveling to Cuba since 2010, studying what's
happening there as she forges experiential learning opportunities for
students and collaborative partnerships with the University of Havana
and its associated research centers. As part of her work with NAFSA, the
Association of International Educators, she has worked with the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, a Treasury Department unit that manages
sanctions, to educate the higher education community in the U.S. on
regulations that govern legal travel to Cuba. She also leads the CIBER
Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Program to Cuba for
faculty from across the U.S.

She has seen an uneven upturn in travel, steep in Havana, but shallow
everywhere else.

„Last year, we were told by a hotel manager that Havana has 100 percent
capacity in hotels all year long," she says. The capital city is so full
of foreign travelers today that it's scarcely recognizable from even a
year ago.

Travel to Cuba's secondary cities, meanwhile, has been generally missing
the boom. That's in large part because U.S. travelers have faced highly
restrictive travel conditions in the past and may not be aware of what
the island has to offer outside of Havana.

To be approved for travel to Cuba, Americans must have an itinerary that
aligns with one of 12 approved purposes, which include religious
activities, journalism, humanitarian projects and people-to-people
outreach. „And tourism is not one of them. This is not a destination
that U.S. citizens can just explore for sun and sand," Bellinger says.
That has kept most U.S. travelers in Havana for now, but gradually that
will change, Bellinger says, as U.S. relations with Cuba continue to evolve.

As Cuba looks to its future, Bellinger says, it must focus on these
eight things.

Support economic reforms: This has already begun, Bellinger notes, but
much work remains. The economic reforms announced in 2010 have
encouraged development and job creation in the non-state sector, which
has eased the financial burden on the state. Over 500,000 Cubans are now
self-employed in their own microenterprises and private cooperatives,
but the regulations that govern these businesses are still constraining.
For example, private restaurants are able to have only 50 seats, and
private companies are not permitted to import any goods or foodstuff to
support their business.

Address the dual currency issue: Rebuild the country around a single
currency, to level the playing field for Cubans and increase consumer
confidence.

Address salary issue: Traditionally esteemed, high-skilled work should
be appropriately compensated, to counter brain drain tendencies in the
country.

Invest in innovative capacity: „Because of Cuba's history," Bellinger
says, „it does not lack the ability to innovate. Just think about the
old jalopies." Closed off from much global trade, Cubans have long found
ways to maintain and retrofit 50-year-old automobiles. „That type of
innovation exists," she says, „but so do impressive global innovations
in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

Ease access to information: Access to the internet has increased in
Cuba, with about 2,000 homes in Havana authorized to receive the
internet directly and with the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing
virtually every day. „It is fantastic," Bellinger says, „that the
government is no longer afraid of giving people access to information."
The country should encourage the democratization of the internet,
allowing greater accessibility at a fair and level price, she adds. In
most countries, internet prices are determined based on the amount of
data used. In Cuba, users are charged based on the types of websites
visited, with domestic websites costing less than foreign ones. Some
foreign websites are still blocked in Cuba.

Educate a generation of business leaders: For a half-century beginning
around 1960, the economy was generally controlled by the Cuban
government. Now, the country faces a crisis in business education: Who
will educate the next generation of business leaders, job creators and
entrepreneurs? The reforms that have allowed for the creation of private
business have not been supported with education, meaning that the
individuals starting and running small businesses do not have access to
the formal training they need to be successful. The Catholic Church has
begun a program that's similar to a masters of business program, and a
Miami-based nonprofit is doing some startup business training on what
Bellinger describes as „a very small scale." But education remains an
area where Cuba prohibits joint ventures with foreign entities, so
prospects for business education remain murky.

Improve transportation and infrastructure: Cuba has infrastructure
problems, „first and foremost," Bellinger says, making travel cumbersome
between Havana and the country's secondary cities. Addressing those
problem would spread economic development across the island.

Choose democracy: Elections are planned for 2018, when Cuban President
Raul Castro plans to step down. „But if there's going to be an election,
is it going to be fair? Who will be the key players? We don't know,"
Bellinger says. „It's as important as ever that Cuba listen to its
citizens."

Central to her suggestions is the notion of investing in human capital.
„At the end of the day," Bellinger says, „if you don't invest in human
capital – if you don't invest in your workforce – nothing is going to
change in Cuba."

Visit Smith Brain Trust for related content
at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust and
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Source: Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different | satPRnews -
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… and Cuba in more than 50 years, carry U.S. and Cuban … International Airport in Santa Clara, Cuba. (Reuters)   BARBADOS TOURISM OFFICIALS should … expansion in some destinations (Cancun, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic). “As … shares have shifted with Cancun, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic becoming … Continue reading
… presence in the centre of Cuba with the addition of eight … International and the Cuban hotel groups Gran Caribe, Cubanacan and Islazul, aims … of the objectives of a Cuban tourism strategy which seeks to … anniversary of its operations in Cuba, and continues to announce that … Continue reading
… presence in the centre of Cuba with the addition of 8 … International and the Cuban hotel groups, Gran Caribe, Cubanacan and Islazul, aims … of the objectives of a Cuban tourism strategy which seeks to … anniversary of its operations in Cuba, and continues to announce that … Continue reading
Cruises Could Be Big Winners in Cuba
The once-taboo island lacks tourist infrastructure. Ship operators hope
to change that.
by Christopher Palmeri
May 11, 2017, 10:00 PM GMT+2

After President Barack Obama eased restrictions on American citizens
traveling to Cuba last year, airlines raced to start service from the
U.S. to 10 cities across the island. But they quickly learned that fewer
passengers than expected wanted to fly to a poor nation with a paucity
of first-class hotel rooms, very high prices for even modest lodgings,
food shortages at restaurants, and the occasional lack of creature
comforts (think toilet paper). Now another part of the travel industry
figures it has the ideal solution for Cuba's dearth of luxury: the
cruise ship.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings,
the world's three largest carriers, have added dozens of voyages to the
island nation between now and 2019, betting that their floating resorts
are perfectly suited to introduce tourists to the underdeveloped isle.
"The airlines overestimated by a long shot how much demand there was,"
says Norwegian Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio. "We bring our own
infrastructure, all the comforts of America. The imbalance the airlines
found is not at work for the cruise industry."

The prospect of sailing to Cuba—right in the middle of the world's
largest cruising region—has had ship operators salivating for decades.
Havana, with its nightclubs, cobblestone streets, cigar factories, and
Hemingway hangouts, could someday be the busiest cruise destination in
the Caribbean, ahead of the Bahamas and Mexico's Cozumel, predicts Del
Rio, who was born in Cuba before his family fled the island in 1961.
"Havana is a brand," he says. "Like all superstar brands, people are
just naturally attracted to it."

A couple of things could spoil the party. One is that the sudden surge
in sailings could flood the market with available cabins, pushing prices
down. At least nine cruise lines will be charting a course to Cuba this
year. That's even as air carriers including American Airlines Group and
JetBlue Airways reduce the sizes of their planes serving the island and
Frontier Airlines Holdings, Spirit Airlines, and Silver Airways have
announced that they'll stop flying there altogether.

There's also uncertainty about U.S. relations with the island. On the
campaign trail, Donald Trump said he'd reverse Obama's easing of
restrictions, and the National Security Council is conducting a review
of Cuba policy. Del Rio and his industry colleagues are pressing ahead
with their voyages to build a base of business, customers, and jobs. A
lucrative start might make it unpalatable for the president to demolish
his predecessor's policy, says Robert Muse, a Washington attorney who's
advised companies on Cuban issues. "I think they're trying to create a
reality that may be sustained by the Trump administration," he says.

Like the vintage automobiles that are part of Cuba's appeal, some of the
island's tourism infrastructure remains stuck in the past. Hotels often
lack things Americans have become accustomed to, such as internet access
and hot water, says Lauren Vikander, marketing manager at InsightCuba, a
tour operator that's run educational trips to the country for 17 years.
Because of the shortage of quality hotels, a room in a three-star
property in Havana could sell for hundreds of dollars a night, she says,
and it's not unusual for even the nicest ones to run out of toilet paper
and bottled water.

The average cost of a hotel room in Cuba has almost doubled since 2014,
to $206 a night, according to the Havana Consulting Group & Tech. The
average rate for a so-called five-star lodging is $362 this year. "Hotel
rates went up because there wasn't enough supply to meet demand," says
Collin Laverty, owner of Cuba Educational Travel. "You're paying Hong
Kong or New York City prices."

Unlike airlines, cruise operators will actually benefit from such
infrastructure challenges, according to Mike Boyd, an aviation
consultant. "The cruise business is the only one that's going to have a
bonanza in Cuba," he says. "They're going to have a field day because of
the way cruises work. You can walk the Malecón, go look at Hemingway's
house, and at the end of the day have a nice place to sleep, clean
water, and good food. You don't have that in Cuba."

Yet it hasn't always been smooth sailing. Not quite knowing when their
companies would get approval to begin service to Cuba, cruise executives
mustered whatever vessels they could. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
pulled a ship from a Spanish affiliate last year, only to have it sail
around the Caribbean for months waiting for the Cuban government's
go-ahead to start regular visits. That ship, the Empress of the Seas,
took its first voyage to Cuba in April, with salsa lessons, staff
wearing guayabera shirts, and an onboard lecturer who offered such
advice as, "If you want to leave a waiter a gratuity, wrap it in a
napkin and hand it to him directly," according to CruiseCritic.com, an
industry website.

Carnival Corp. was the first to offer Cuban voyages last year, with its
relatively small, 700-passenger Adonia, a vessel lacking a casino and
other amenities. The company promoted the Adonia as part of its socially
conscious Fathom brand. That line—which mixed humanitarian service
projects with vacation—didn't catch on with consumers, so its parent
company plans to offer Cuban stops on traditional ships such as the
Carnival Paradise, which starts sailing to the island in June.

Del Rio has his own opinion of why the "voluntourism" approach didn't
work: "There's something called the Peace Corps for that," he says.
Instead, the first voyage for a Norwegian-branded vessel was a party
ship, the 2,000-passenger Sky, which made its maiden trip to Havana in
early May. Rates on that ship started at $549 a person, including drinks
and an overnight docking in Havana for guests to enjoy the city's
nightlife into the wee hours. Norwegian's four-day excursions are among
the shortest of the cruise industry's Cuba itineraries, and it's spicing
up the onboard meals with local dishes such as sweet guava chicken and
fried malanga, a root vegetable.

Still, Cuba and the cruise lines may have a way to go to please U.S.
travelers used to more sophisticated experiences. Baltimore retiree
Janine Dowdle says she and her husband were on the first Cuban voyage of
Norwegian's higher-end Oceania Cruises line in March. A tour of Old
Havana was "really lame," she says. A stop at a market lasted too
long—45 minutes—and a lunch at a paladar, a privately operated
restaurant, that was supposed to be included never happened. (She
got reimbursed.)

Dowdle says she was charged on the island 13 percent to exchange her
U.S. dollars into Cuban currency after she was told local merchants
don't take credit cards. And postcards she sent to the U.S. from Havana
never arrived. "The old cars are cool," she says. "The buildings are
crumbling, it's a shame."

Del Rio says Cuba's travel industry is improving, with the historic
office building where his mother once worked as a secretary set to open
June 9 as a five-star Kempinski hotel. And port facilities could be
upgraded much faster if the U.S. embargo were lifted. "All the major
cruise lines would be fighting to invest in Cuban infrastructure if we
were allowed to do so," Del Rio says.

The bottom line: Tourists have been discouraged by Cuba's lack of
first-class hotels and restaurants. Cruise lines say they'll just ship
in the solution.

Source: Cruises Could Be Big Winners in Cuba - Bloomberg -
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-11/cruises-could-be-big-winners-in-cuba Continue reading
Cuba Is 'Huge Opportunity' for U.S. Travel Companies, BCG Says
| May 10, 2017, at 12:18 a.m.

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba represents a "huge" but challenging opportunity
for U.S. cruise, airline and hotel companies as American visitors to the
Caribbean island could increase as much as sevenfold by 2025, according
to a report by the Boston Consulting Group.

As many as 2 million Americans could visit up from 285,000 last year,
excluding Cuban Americans, the BCG study published on Wednesday estimated.

Given tourism infrastructure is already creaking, that means there are
business opportunities aplenty but U.S companies must learn to navigate
a centrally-planned economy with its quirks.

U.S. travel to Cuba has already surged, albeit from very low levels, in
the last two years since the former Cold War allies announced a detente
and the Obama administration eased travel restrictions to the island.

"The reality is that U.S. travel to Cuba is in its nascent stages, and
all the players are still learning how to make it work," the report
read. "Success, as with most things Cuban, will require unusual - and
often unorthodox - approaches".

BCG did not address the uncertainty cast by the election of U.S.
President Donald Trump who has threatened to row back on the
normalization of relations.

The Cuban government aims to double hotel capacity by 2030 through
partnerships with foreign companies, it pointed out. So far, Starwood is
the only U.S. hotel company operating in Cuba.

Instilling a hospitality mindset in tourism workers who were mostly
state employees, even at U.S.-owned companies, on low wages could be
challenging, it noted.

Poor service sat particularly badly when rooms were "extremely expensive
for the region".

"The risk is that U.S, travelers who visit Cuba and stay at a hotel that
is part of a brand they trust will experience prices much higher than
usual - and more customer service," the report read.

Meanwhile there was also an opportunity for expanding cruise lines to
Cuba, BCG said. Nearly two thirds of 500 U.S. travelers surveyed would
consider one to Cuba. Several U.S cruise operators have started offering
lines to Cuba in the past year.

They have to deal with different challenges such as including a cultural
element to their trips to comply with U.S. government rules on travel to
Cuba, BCG noted.

U.S. companies should work together with the Cuban government to resolve
some of these issues.

As for airlines, they needed to deal with excess demand for flights to
Havana. They could carry out campaigns to lure Americans to other Cuban
cities, BCG advised, and tap into Cuban demand for flights to the United
States.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh)

Source: Cuba Is 'Huge Opportunity' for U.S. Travel Companies, BCG Says |
U.S. News | US News -
https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-05-10/cuba-is-huge-opportunity-for-us-travel-companies-bcg-says Continue reading
Havana, May 8 (RHC-PL)-- Cuba's forthcoming 11th International … exchange views and to promote Cuba as an attractive destination. The … , in the eastern region of Cuba and other provinces nationwide, are … that specializes in the field. Cuba has a comprehensive National System … Continue reading
… announcement was made by the Cuban Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero … 170 journalists from the main Cuban tourism markets. The minister said … . The closing ceremony of the Cuba 2017 tourism fair was held … Continue reading
If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 28 April 2017 — Soot covers the unpainted facades of
buildings on Tenth of October Boulevard. Old American cars from the
1950s, rebuilt with modern diesel engines and now privately operated as
taxis, transit across asphalt, leaving behind a trail of black smoke and
the unpleasant odor of gasoline.

The noonday sun glimmers in the opaque windows of old clothing stores,
which have been converted into low-quality jewelry and handicraft shops.

Tenth of October is one of Havana's main arteries. Formerly known as
Jesus of the Mountain, the boulevard immortalized by the poet Eliseo
Diego is now a walkway of pedestrians carrying plastic bags past
makeshift booths set up in the covered entryways of people's houses.
Vendors sell old books, photos of Fidel and Kim Il Sung, and knickknacks
that are not longer fashionable.

Seated at a stool outside his butcher shop, Rey Angel reads a headline
in the newspaper Granma. He has not worked in days. "There have been no
deliveries of chicken or ground soy," he says. He kills time reading
boring articles by the nation's press and watching women walk by.

Right now, news from Venezuela is a high priority for the average Cuban.
"It's like seeing yourself in the mirror. You don't like to read stories
about shortages and misfortunes similar to your own, although ours don't
come with street protests or repression and killings by the police,"
says the butcher.

"But we have to follow the news from Venezuela," he adds. "If it all
goes to hell there, things won't look good for us. There will be another
'Special Period." The government is trying not to alarm people but
according to the official press, the country produces only 50% of the
crude it needs. The question then is: Where the hell are we going to get
the money for the other 50% Venezuela gives us."

The longstanding economic, social and political crisis in Venezuela also
impacts Cuba, a republic that has been unable to control its own
destiny. Hungry for power, Fidel Castro hijacked the country, making
political commitments in exchange for a blank check from the Kremlin and
later oil and credit guarantees from Hugo Chavez.

Like a baby, Cuba is still crawling. It won't stand up and walk on its
own two feet. "Whom should we blame for these disastrous policies?" asks
a university professor before answering his own question.

"If we are honest, the answer is Fidel Castro," he says. "Cuba a total
disaster, except supposedly in the realm of sovereignty and
independence. But these days we are more dependent than ever. In order
to survive, we must depend on tourism, on the export of doctors who work
under slave-like conditions and on remittances sent home by Cubans from
overseas."

Although Cuba's government-run press and Telesur — a media company
founded with petrodollars from Hugo Chavez — is trying to cover up the
causes of the situation in Venezuela, to ignore other points of view and
to manipulate the narrative of the Venezuelan opposition, people on the
island can now compare their reporting with other sources of information.

"Whether it's through the internet, an illegal antenna or family members
returning from medical missions in Venezuela, people know that not
everything reported in the national media is true. It's not just the
middle class that supports the opposition, as the state press would have
us believe. If that were the case, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie would
number in the millions. Maduro's days are numbered. When another
political party occupies the presidential palace, when the oil agreement
and the exchange of doctors are over, the Cuban economy will experience
a crisis , a period of recession the likes of which it has not seen for
twenty-eight years. And even worse, all the turmoil in Venezuela
coincides with Raul Castro's stepping down from power" notes an academic.

Among the late Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro's longterm goals was the
eventual unification of their two countries," says a former diplomat.
"ALBA* was just a first step. They hoped to later create a common
currency: the sucre. In the halls of power it was jokingly referred to
as 'Cubazuela'. In their minds Castro and Chavez thought they would rule
forever. They didn't foresee themselves dying or anticipate the current
catastrophe. In spite of all Maduro's authoritarianism, there are still
democratic institutions which could reverse the situation. But in Cuba?
When Venezuela crashes, we'll be up the creek without a paddle. We can
perhaps count on rhetorical support from Bolivia and Ecuador but no one
is going to write us a blank check or extend us credit. We will then
will have to figure out where we are going and how to get there. If some
future politicians manage to figure out a path forward, we'll have to
erect a monument to them."

Hyperinflation, polarization and the socio-political crisis in Venezuela
are all impacting the Cuban economy. In the summer of 2016 Raul Castro
announced fuel cuts for the public sector, causing numerous government
programs which do not generate hard currency to grind to a halt.

As people die and mass protest marches take place in Venezuela,
officials and presidential advisers at the Palace of the Revolution in
Havana are devising contingency plans to deal with the eventual collapse
of the Chavez movement. It could take months, maybe a year or two, but
it will happen.

*Translator's note: Acronym for Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of
Our America, an organization founded by Cuba and Venezuela and currently
made up of eleven socialist and social democratic member states.

Source: If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/if-venezuela-goes-to-hell-will-things-look-bad-for-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 28 April 2017 — Soot covers the unpainted facades of buildings on Tenth of October Boulevard. Old American cars from the 1950s, rebuilt with modern diesel engines and now privately operated as taxis, transit across asphalt, leaving behind a trail of black smoke and the unpleasant odor of gasoline. The noonday sun glimmers in … Continue reading "If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván García" Continue reading
… noted that Cuban revolution and the subsequent US embargo on Cuba helped … expansion in some destinations (Cancun, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic).” They … shares have shifted with Cancun, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic becoming … the US travel restrictions to Cuba would significantly increase tourism flows … Continue reading
Holguin, May 3 (RHC-PL)-- Cuba's 37th International Tourism … source of visitors for Cuba. In 2016, Cuba received 4.2 million … .   Holguin is Cuba's fourth largest tourist destination, after Havana, Varadero … Continue reading
… increased just 2.4 percent. Cuban tourism officials are expecting another … leaders say they view the Cuban tourism juggernaut not so much … . It’s the same with Cuba. “Cuba is huge into Latin America … by Cuban Americans and other U.S. travelers to Cuba totaled 614 … Continue reading
… June 4, after costs in Havana “significantly exceeded our initial assumptions … flight to Cuba by June 1: “The costs of serving Havana continue … the Cuban people,” and journalistic activities. “You can’t go to Cuba … support American travelers provide for Cuban entrepreneurs in the tourism sector … Continue reading
You might think other Caribbean tourism destinations would be ready to flip their sandals as Cuba's tourism numbers continue to climb. International visitors to Cuba last year rose by 13.9 … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Fears Over Opening Up Of US-Cuba Tourism May Be Misplaced – IMF
Published: Monday | May 1, 2017 | 5:15 PM

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that fears by
Caribbean countries that the opening up of United States-Cuba tourism
could seriously impact the sector in the region may be misplaced.

The assertion is made in a Working Paper titled 'Revisiting the
Potential Impact to the Rest of the Caribbean from Opening US-Cuba
Tourism', released on Friday.

The paper notes that the Cuban revolution and the subsequent US embargo
on Cuba helped shape the tourism sector in the Caribbean, facilitating
the birth and growth of alternative destinations.

It says the apprehension of the Caribbean tourism industry towards a
change in US travel policy to Cuba is therefore understandable.

However, it says the worry is likely unwarranted as the history of
tourism in the region has shown that it is possible for all destinations
to grow despite large changes in market shares.

The paper argues that while tourism shares have shifted with Cancun,
Cuba, and the Dominican Republic becoming larger players in the region,
the rest of destinations have still managed to grow their sectors at
respectable rates, even as their market shares have declined.

The authors argue that the change in US policy is expected to benefit
the region as a whole as the models indicate that aggregate tourism
flows will grow.

They also argue that the increasing US tourism demand in Cuba will push
prices up and result in a shift by some Canadian and European tourists,
who would have otherwise visited Cuba, to travel to other Caribbean
destinations.

They say this will partly offset any potential loss of US tourists that
some destinations might suffer in the adjustment phase to the new
equilibrium.

Source: Fears over opening up of US-Cuba tourism may be misplaced – IMF
| News | Jamaica Gleaner -
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170501/fears-over-opening-us-cuba-tourism-may-be-misplaced-imf Continue reading
… they visit." About Cuba Ventures Corp.: Cuba Ventures Corp. is a … $3.5 billion per year Cuban travel and tourism industry. Travelucion … rentals, restaurants, as well as Cuban culture, history, music, celebrities, sports … are on the rise in Cuba. Cuba Ventures consulting division harnesses over … Continue reading
Liberté Management Group is the latest resort chain to achieve success through using mycloud hospitality platform, as Florida tourism booms. NEW YORK, UNITED STATE, May 1, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Professional resort management firm Liberté … Continue reading
… voyage to Cuba from the Port of Tampa to Havana. The ship … , Mexico, Belize City, Belize and Havana, Cuba. The Empress is one of … Cuba. Carnival's Paradise ship will also begin trips to Havana … tourism by American travelers to Cuba. Instead the cruises must be … Continue reading
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, April 30, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- “This is Africa’s time, and Walter Mzembi is Africa’s candidate to head the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).” With these words, South African Minister of Tourism Ms. Thoko Xasa, … Continue reading
… Santiago (AFP / JUAN BARRETO) HAVANA: Cuba plans to reduce spending further … fuel to communist-run Cuba, as well as payments for Cuban professional services … of cash to pay for Cuban services. A boom in tourism … of payments and current account. Cuban President Raul Castro admitted a … Continue reading
48 Days: Photographer captures 8,000-mile journey from Cuba to the US
By ALEX SCOTT
Apr 27, 2017, 10:14 AM ET
Lisette Poole

There are currently more than 20 daily flights from the United States to
Cuba. The 330-mile trip from Miami takes a little over an hour and
helped fill the streets of Cuba with a record number of tourists in 2016.

Although the island nation is evolving to accommodate the growing
tourism, the sense of hope is offset by an increasing economic divide.
For two Havana women, Marta and Liset, their lives did not improve as
they hoped, so they decided to leave.

Photographer Lisette Poole departed with them, documenting the entire
8,000 mile journey as they illegally crossed borders, joined other
groups of migrants and navigated the sometimes treacherous world of
smugglers, border control and jungle paths used by narco-traffickers.

Departing from Havana in May 2016, Liset and Marta were among the last
Cuban immigrants to make it across the U.S. border before the end of the
"Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy that granted automatic asylum to Cuban
immigrants. In the slideshow below, Poole documented intimate moments of
the arduous journey, while experiencing it first-hand.

Poole has a personal interest in the women's journey as a Cuban-American
herself. Her mother left for the United States in 1969, and Poole grew
up in the U.S. with a constant awareness of the immigration issues that
affected her family.

"Living and working in Cuba, I always imagine what kind of life I would
have had if I'd been born here," Poole said. "I imagine what kind of
person I would be, what my goals would be, and I question whether I'd
have the courage to do what Liset and Marta did."

Marta and Liset's journey began in Havana with a plane ticket and the
name of a human smuggler, known as a coyote, scribbled on a piece of
paper. After flying to Guyana, the two navigated through South and
Central America following routes that many immigrants traveled before
them. Poole departed with them, documenting the complete experience as
Marta and Liset joined groups of other immigrants, illegally crossed
borders and were detained by law enforcement.

The women journeyed on planes and buses, but also traveled many miles by
foot. Their route crossed through Brazil and Peru before heading north
through Colombia. The ever-changing immigrant group then traversed
through the Darien Gap, a roadless jungle swamp on the Panama-Colombia
border, and into Central America.

For Poole, the journey was not without incident. In Costa Rica, Marta
and Liset had a falling out over money. Liset had been funding their
trip and was unable to continue paying for herself as well as Marta.
Liset planned to move ahead and send back money for Marta once she could
gather more funds.

"At the prospect of being left behind Marta was enraged. (She) fought
with Liset and told the men running the stash house that I was a
journalist. I'd been keeping quiet there, it was one of the places I
didn't feel safe having the coyotes know who I was," Poole said.

The stash house was a remote shelter where immigrants were housed along
the migration routes. Poole was able to talk her way out of the
situation and continue on with Liset and other migrants. The two parted
ways with Marta, who would end up joining the next group.

Here she walks for several days without food or water. more +
Poole continued on, photographing the resolve and resourcefulness of
migrants attempting the journey. Her reportage gracefully blurs the line
between straight documentation and personal insight through her experience.

"There was one moment in Nicaragua (after the Costa Rica incident) where
we were without food or water or even sleep for a few days," Poole said.
"I was getting delirious and so was Liset. We helped each other during
that time, and we got through it together."

Poole and Liset crossed the U.S. border into Texas, followed by Marta 12
days later. The two women rekindled their friendship and lived near each
other in Miami before moving around to other places in the U.S. Poole
has since returned to Cuba, but is continuing her work with Liset and
Marta and documenting their new lives.

Poole is currently fundraising on Kickstarter to turn the project into a
photo book styled as a classic travel guide. More information can be
found here.

"I hope that by looking at my work and experiencing the journey of Liset
and Marta, readers would relate to them and be able to put themselves in
their shoes as two people who wanted a better life," Poole said. "There
are significant global issues causing migration and it isn't a matter of
personal choice so much as a consequence of greater forces at play."

Source: 48 Days: Photographer captures 8,000-mile journey from Cuba to
the US - ABC News -
http://abcnews.go.com/International/48-days-photographer-captures-8000-mile-journey-cuba/story?id=46918018 Continue reading
… HOSTELCUBA 2017 Trade Show in Havana April 25-27th. The consulting division … , Cuba Ventures Corp. will attend the HOSTELCUBA 2017 Trade Show in Havana, Cuba … Commercial, Gaviota Tourism Group, Technotes, Cubanacan Group, Cubacaribe, Miramar (Melia), CACSA … Continue reading
… might make his way to Havana Harbor, where his boat, Pilar … a 10-minute stroll through Old Havana from Hotel Ambos Mundos to … Jack Cuddy, holed up in Havana during the early 1930s to … most estimates, American tourism to Cuba doubled from 1916 to 1926 … Continue reading
Crabs invade Cuba's Bay of Pigs
April 25, 2017, 10:59:00 AM EDT By Reuters
By Sarah Marsh

BAY OF PIGS, Cuba, April 25 (Reuters) - Cuba's Bay of Pigs
has been invaded again, this time not by U.S.-backed anti-Castro
forces, but by millions of red, yellow and black landcrabs.
Each year, after the first spring rains, the crabs march for
days from the surrounding forests to the bay on Cuba's southern
coast to spawn in the sea, wreaking havoc along the way.
At dawn and dusk they emerge, scuttling sideways toward the
sea, climbing up house walls and carpeting the coastal road that
curves around the bay. The stench of crushed crab fills the air
and their sharp shells puncture car tires.
"Thirty to 40 can enter without you even realizing it," said
Edian Villazon, who runs a food hut opposite the sea, which does
not serve up crab meat. Cubans believe this type is toxic. "We
have to always keep the door shut."
The Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 Cuban exiles landed in a
failed attempt to end Fidel Castro's revolution, lies within a
national park where 80 percent of Cuba's endemic birds, along
with crocodiles and other wildlife, can be observed.
With its deep sinkholes, coral reefs and turquoise waters,
the bay is known as one of Cuba's best spots for diving.
Visitors have spiked in recent years, in tandem with the overall
tourism boom since the U.S.-Cuban detente.
"It's very surprising and impressive to see so many crabs in
one go and to watch them crossing so quickly," said 36-year-old
French tourist Emilie Lannegrand, adding it was "a little
heartbreaking" to see so many crushed on the road.
As cars speed by, some swerving to avoid the 10-legged
crustaceans, the cracks of carapaces zing through the air.
That does not threaten the survival of the two prolific
species, Gecarcinus ruricola and lateralis, which are not
endemic to Cuba, said Jorge Luis Jimenez, a science ministry
official who works in the park.
Similar crab migrations occur in other parts of Cuba at the
same time of the year, as well as in some other special
ecosystems such as Australia'sChristmas Island.
At the Bay of Pigs, the adult crabs return to their forest
burrows after releasing clouds of eggs and are joined a couple
of months later by the baby crabs which hatched at sea, said
Jimenez.
For locals, the crab invasion is good business.
Ito Molina, 45, said tourists would happily pay $10 for tire
repair, a princely sum compared with the average state salary of
around $25 per month.
For patches, he applies condoms, which get put to many uses
in Cuba given how cheap and readily available they are.
"All the cars pass along this road, and they all get
punctures," he said. "So we stand there and repair the tires."

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Richard Chang)

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As Cuba's economy embraces global tourism, modernist works fall under threat
By ANTONIO PACHECO • April 25, 2017

This article appears in The Architect's Newspaper's April 2017 issue,
which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA
Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We're publishing
the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the
latest articles to be uploaded.

Preservation efforts aimed at recognizing and restoring Cuba's storied
architectural relics—long a pet project within professional and academic
circles—might finally become mainstream as the country adopts
market-based policies.

The implications of these economic and political changes for Cuba's
cultural heritage—much of which suffers from decades of deferred
maintenance—are potentially vast and unknown. Architect Belmont Freeman,
who has led many tours to Cuba on behalf of Docomomo and the Society of
Architectural Historians, said, "There are a lot of cranes in Havana
right now, every one of them related to a hotel project."

Recent years have seen a ballooning interest in Cuba by international
hoteliers. European luxury-hotel group Kempinski is set open its first
hotel in Cuba this summer. The hotel will feature 246 rooms in the
renovated Manzana de Gómez building, a UNESCO World Heritage site that
was designed as Cuba's first shopping mall in 1910. Starwood Hotels &
Resorts Worldwide is also entering Cuba by taking over operations of
Havana's neoclassical Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Quinta Avenida, and
the colonial-era Hotel Santa Isabel. The move makes Starwood the first
United States hotelier to enter the Cuban market since 1959. Hotel
Quinta Avenida was renovated in 2016 and opened last summer. The Hotel
Inglaterra, originally built in 1844, is expected to open in late 2017
after its renovation.

Real questions exist, however, not only in terms of the quality of these
renovations, but also with regard to the status of other cultural,
archeological, and architectural artifacts in the country. Cuba is home
to a vast array of architectural history, including relics and sites
important to the indigenous cultures that originally inhabited the
island. However, colonial-era fortifications and more recent building
stock, including successive waves of 18th-, 19th– and 20th-century
development, make up the vast majority of structures across the country.
What will happen to those less prominent and more sensitive relics? Many
of the city's inner neighborhoods are filled with eclectic Beaux
Arts–style structures, while the outer city and its environs are a
hotbed of proto- and early-modernism, with works like the Hotel Nacional
by McKim, Mead & White from 1930 and the Habana Libre Hotel by Welton
Becket with Lin Arroyo and Gabriela Menendez from 1958 standing out both
in terms of architectural style and for their respective roles in local
and international history.

Furthermore, the Revolution's communist utopianism was codified through
the prodigious production of radically progressive works of architecture
by Cuban modernist architects. Those works include the expressionist
National Schools of Art by Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, and Roberto
Gottardi from 1961; the Brutalist Ciudad Universitaria Jose Antonio
Echeverria (CUJAE) building by Humberto Alonso from 1961; and the vast
neighborhoods of Habana del Este that are made up of locally derived
designs modeled after Soviet modular apartments.

It is unclear if and when future building improvements are undertaken
across the city, whether more recent works of architecture will be
prized to the same degree as colonial-era works. Freeman painted a grim
picture, saying, "There has been a steady pace of cosmetic refurbishment
of old buildings in the colonial core of Old Havana, but (generally
speaking) historic preservation efforts have not picked up in any
significant way except for those related to tourism infrastructure."

The effects of the recent formal economic and political changes in
official policy are not necessarily new phenomena, however: Havana has
strong track record of using historic preservation as an economic
driver. The office of the City Historian, led by Eusebio Leal Spengler,
has pioneered local attempts to embed the preservation and restoration
of Old Havana's neighborhoods into economic development plans. Old
Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right, and while many
projects in the colonial core have benefitted from Leal Spengler's
efforts—namely the restoration of Plaza Vieja and a slew of other
properties the office has converted for hotel and tourismuses—many of
the city's early modernist and post-revolutionary architectural marvels
sit in various states of decay and disrepair. The restoration of the
National Art Schools was, until recently, slated for completion and
renovation. Those efforts have petered out, subsumed by a new economic
downturn following geopolitical turmoil in Venezuela, one of Cuba's
chief oil providers.

Cuban architect Universo Garcia Lorenzo, who was coordinating the
renovations for the National Art Schools until the funding dried up,
explained that with the Cuban government strapped for cash, major
restoration projects in the country will have to rely on international
funding. Some help is coming: The Italian government is funding the
continuation of work on Gottardi's School of Dramatic Arts and also,
England's Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation was working to
finance the rehabilitation of the ruined, Garatti-designed School of
Ballet. But, Garcia Lorenzo said, "I can't speculate now on when the
restoration will be completed," adding that despite the fact that
Porro's School of Plastic Arts and School of Modern Dance had been
completely renovated in 2008, the current funding lapses meant there
would be a shortage of funds "dedicated to maintaining those structures
into the future."

International funding cannot come soon enough, as the partially
completed and dilapidated structures are exposed to the tropical
elements. Garcia Lorenzo said, "Essentially, the three unfinished
buildings are frozen in time, slowly decaying and waiting to be restored."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Antonio Pacheco
West Editor, The Architect's Newspaper

Source: As Cuba embraces global tourism, modernist works are threatened
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14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 April 2017 — In the palace of the Captains General in Havana there is a throne awaiting its king. It was prepared when Cuba was still a Spanish colony and a monarch has never sat in its imposing structure. The visit of Spain’s King Felipe VI visit may end such a long wait, … Continue reading "The King, The President and The Dictator" Continue reading