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Tourism

TOURISM DERAILED—Havana, Cuba, welcomes a cruise ship to … educational “exchange” opportunities with the Cuban people. For most travelers, especially … or more ports, generally including Havana. The ship may also stop … afternoon, allowing guests to enjoy Havana night life, including an excursion … Continue reading
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 21 June 2017 — After much media frenzy, Trump’s “new policy” toward Cuba has not gone beyond the rhetoric expected by most political analysts. His act was more a symbolic gesture towards his faithful than any practical novelty. In short, those who expected an announcement of truly transcendental changes in the … Continue reading "Thanks for Nothing, Trump" Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) -- Melia Hotels International, … 27 years of operations in Cuba, including Camagüey province, has signed … terms of tourism demand in Cuba. The motivation for Melia to … Continue reading
… President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy. Trump announced in Miami … directive that Americans traveling to Cuba for educational person-to-person education trips … shifted U.S. relationship with Cuba could in turn increase tourism … to stand out,” Mercader said. “Cuba doesn’t have the infrastructure … Continue reading
TOURISM DERAILED—Havana, Cuba, welcomes a cruise ship to … educational “exchange” opportunities with the Cuban people. For most travelers, especially … or more ports, generally including Havana. The ship may also add … afternoon, allowing guests to enjoy Havana night life, including an excursion … Continue reading
Amid the bustle of the current tourism boom, it's easy to forget that it was a different scene a generation ago during Cuba’s “Special Period,” following the collapse of the … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba?
Elliott Abrams, Newsweek • June 22,
This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba? -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/elliott-abrams-trump-made-move-145325141.html Continue reading
… Obama’s Cuba opening — restoring full diplomatic relations with Havana and ending the wet foot/dry foot policy. Commentary: Cuba … in the best interests of Cuba and Cubans,” said Roca. “But the … no small issue. Cuban-Americans could be to Cuba what Florida residents are … Continue reading
Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching
Andrew Bender , CONTRIBUTOR
I delve into the business of business travel, and often the fun too.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Just as travel and tourism to Cuba from the United States was heating
up, President Donald Trump made an announcement last Friday that will
cool it down, probably way down. He said he was "canceling the last
administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba."

While it's not exactly a cancellation, what it is is, at this stage,
unclear.

"There are a zillion contradictions," says Julia Sweig, senior research
fellow and Cuba expert at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
at the University of Texas. "There is no policy or legal coherence to
what they have announced."

For example, American tour operators, cruise ships and airlines will
still technically be able to operate into Cuba, and U.S. citizens can
still purchase and bring home Cuban products like rum and cigars; both
of these were off limits before the Obama administration relaxed rules
in 2014. But the new policies put in two important restrictions:
- Make it illegal for Americans to patronize facilities related to the
Cuban military, and
- Make individual travel to Cuba far more difficult for Americans.

Currently this is through a program known as people-to-people.
The military issue first. "The state-run tourism organization, GAVIOTA,
is owned by the Cuban military, and it owns the majority of tourism
infrastructure on the island," says Marguerite Fitzgerald, a partner at
the Miami office of Boston Consulting Group in Miami and the author of
BCG's report on Cuban tourism. "Americans will not be allowed to stay in
Cuban hotels, take Cuban buses or rent cars."

Meanwhile, the cutback in individual tourism will mean that Cuba's
growing network of home stays will take a hit. Airbnb says that 560,000
guests have paid some $40 million to private hosts around Cuba since the
company entered the market in April 2015. This in a country where,
Airbnb says, the average monthly wage is $30. This year, Cuba has been
Airbnb's ninth-largest market for Americans heading abroad.

The announcement from the White House directs the Departments of
Commerce and the Treasury to come up with regulations within 30 days.
But, Sweig says, "I expect that when the regulators try to write the new
regulations, they will become mired down."

"I guess the Trump people will publish a map of Cuba with all of the
places Americans won't be able to go to buy a bottle of water, to sleep,
etc.," she adds.

Meanwhile, tour and travel operators are in limbo. "It remains to be
seen which travel companies, cruise lines and tour providers will be
able to successfully navigate the new regulations and which will cease
their operations in Cuba," says Jennine Cohen, managing director for the
Americas at San Francisco-based Geographic Expeditions, which has
operated tours to Cuba for 17 years.

"GeoEx works primarily with small and charming B&Bs, which have no
connection to the Cuban military and should not be affected," she says.

More long term, Cohen says, "As we have successfully operated trips on
and off since 2000, we have adhered to [the U.S. government's] changing
policies and enforcement over time and will continue to do so."

Source: Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2017/06/20/trumps-cuba-travel-policy-leaves-heads-scratching/#2f5717966fef Continue reading
Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't take effect soon
Bart Jansen , USA TODAY Published 4:29 p.m. ET June 16, 2017 | Updated
5:49 p.m. ET June 16, 2017

Travel to Cuba won't be changing soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: President Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't be immediate -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/cuba-travel-airlines/102926572/ Continue reading
… , tourism and benefits to the Cuban military.  Under new regulations to … that has ties to the Cuban military. While none of the … $200 million sliver of the Cuban food import market. We should … exports to Cuba. Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would … Continue reading
… , tourism and benefits to the Cuban military.  Under new regulations to … that has ties to the Cuban military. While none of the … $200 million sliver of the Cuban food import market. We should … exports to Cuba. Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would … Continue reading
… of embassies in Washington and Havana. The executive order Trump signed … going to Cuba and bans US business transactions with the Cuban military …  tourism but directly into the Cuban economy. For example in the … to force Cuba to address human rights issues. In response, Havana said … Continue reading
Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/being-rich-is-banned-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2017 – Over the weekend the
official media have repeated ad nauseam the declaration of the
government in response to Donald Trump's speech about his policy toward
Cuba. The declaration's rhetoric recalls the years before the diplomatic
thaw, when political propaganda revolved around confrontation with our
neighbor to the north.

Beyond these words, many on the island are breathing a sigh of relief
because the main steps taken by Barack Obama will not be reversed. The
remittances on which so many families depend will not be cut, nor will
the American Embassy in Havana be closed.

On the streets of Cuba, life continues its slow march, far from what was
said at the Artime Theater in Miami and published by the Plaza of the
Revolution.

Julia Borroto put a bottle of water in the freezer on Saturday to be
ready for the line he expects to find waiting for him Monday outside the
United States Embassy. This 73-year-old from Camagüey, who arrived in
the capital just after Trump's speech, remembers that Trump had said "he
was going to put an end to the visas and travel, but I see that it isn't
so."

The retiree also had another concern: the reactivation of the wet
foot/dry foot policy eliminated by Obama last January. "I have two
children who were plotting to go to sea. I just sent them a message to
forget about it."

The hopes of many frustrated rafters were counting on the magnate to
restore the migratory privileges that Cubans enjoyed for more than two
decades, but Trump defrauded them. Hundreds of migrants from the island
who have been trapped in Central America on their way to the US were
also waiting for that gesture that did not arrive.

Among the self-employed, concern is palpable. Homeowners who rent to
tourists and private restaurant owners regret that the new policy will
lead to a decline in American tourists on the island. The so-called
yumas are highly desired in the private sector, especially for their
generous tips.

Mary, who runs a lodging business in Old Havana, is worried. "Since the
Americans began to come, I hardly have a day with empty rooms." She had
made plans on the basis of greater flexibilities and hoped "to open up
more to tourism."

On national television there is a flood of "indignant responses from the
people" including no shortage of allusions to sovereignty, dignity and
"the unwavering will to continue on the path despite difficulties." The
Castro regime is seizing the opportunity to reactivate the dormant
propaganda machinery that had been missing its main protagonist: the enemy.

However, away from the official microphones people are indifferent or
discontented with what happened. A pedicab driver swears not to know
what they are talking about when he is asked about Friday's
announcements, and a retiree limits himself to commenting, "Those people
who applaud Trump in Miami no longer remember when they were here
standing in line for bread."

Of the thirteen activists who met with Barack Obama during his trip to
Havana, at least five expressed opinions to this newspaper about the
importance of the new policy towards Cuba.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was
at that table in March 2016 and was also mentioned on this occasion by
Donald Trump during his speech. The activist had planned to be in Miami
for the occasion, but at the airport in Holguin was denied exit and was
subsequently arrested.

"It is the speech that had to be given and the person who could have
avoided it is Raul Castro," the former political prisoner asserts
categorically. Ferrer believes that Obama did the right thing whenhe
began a new era in relations between the two countries but "the Castro
regime's response was to bite the hand that was extended to it."

In the opinion of the opposition leader, in the last 20 months
repression has multiplied and "it was obvious that a different medicine
had to be administered" because "a dictatorship like this should not be
rewarded, it should be punished and more so when it was given the
opportunity to improve its behavior and did not do so."

Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, was also prevented from
flying to Miami to attend the event. For her, the words of the American
president were clear and "if the Cuban regime accepts the conditions
that Donald Trump has imposed on it, Cuba will begin to change."

Soler believes that the Cuban government's response is aimed at
confusing the people, who "do not know exactly what is going on." She
says that Trump wants to maintain business with Cuba "but not with the
military, but directly with the people," something that the official
press has not explained.

Opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who manages the platform #Otro18 (Another
2018), is blunt and points out that "returning to failed policies is the
best way to guarantee failure." The measures announced by Trump, in his
opinion, do not help the changes, and they once again give the Cuban
government "the excuse to show its repressive nature."

The dissident believes that the new policy tries to return the debate on
democracy on the island to the scenario of conflict between Cuba and the
United States, "just when it was beginning to refocus the national
scenario on communication between the Cuban State and its citizens,
which is where it needs to be."

The director of the magazine Convivencia, Dagoberto Valdés, believes
that there is a remarkable difference between the discourse itself
"which seems a return to the past with the use of a language of
confrontation, and the so-called concrete measures that have been taken."

For Valdés there is no major reversal of Obama's policy. "The trips of
the Cuban Americans, the embassy, ​​the remittances are maintained… and
the possibility of a negotiating table remains open when the Cuban
Government makes reforms related to human rights."

Journalist Miriam Celaya predicted that the speech would not be "what
the most radical in Miami and the so-called hard line of the Cuban
opposition expected. What is coming is a process and it does not mean
that from tomorrow no more Americans will come to the Island and that
negotiations of all kinds are finished," she says.

In her usual poignant style, she adds that "regardless of all the
fanfare and the bells and whistles, regardless of how abundant the
smiles, and no matter how much people laughed at Trump's jokes, it
doesn't seem that the changes are going to be as promising as those who
are proclaiming that it's all over for the government."

Celaya sheds light on the fact that the official statement of the Cuban
government "manifests its intention to maintain dialogue and relations
within the framework of respect." This is a great difference with other
times when a speech like that "would have provoked a 'march of the
fighting people' and a military mobilization."

Instead, officialdom has opted for declarations and revolutionary
slogans in the national media. But in the streets, that rhetoric is just
silent. "People are tired of all this history," says a fisherman on the
Havana Malecon. "There is no one who can fix it, but no one who can sink
it."

Source: Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/consensus-and-dissent-in-the-face-of-trumps-cuba-policy/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 8 June 2017 — The die is cast. At the special session of the National Assembly of People’s Power held on May 31 and June 1 at the Palace of Conventions, delegates have, as expected, approved the economic plan for 2016 to 2021 and a national plan for economic and social development for … Continue reading "Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy
By TERESA FRONTADO & NANCY KLINGENER & ADRIANNE GONZALEZ & HOLLY PRETSKY
& ISABELLA CUETO • JUN 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praise from Florida politicians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'More of a politician that what we expected'

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

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

Across the street, an anti-Trump protester disagreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump's Tightening of Cuba Travel Policies Closes a Loophole

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How -
http://lifehacker.com/you-can-still-visit-cuba-heres-how-1796223945 Continue reading
… $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 … Cuba and, the company’s Cuba Consulting Unit. For further information on CubaContinue reading
… in reversing his predecessor’s Cuba policies, President Trump reminded the … audience in Miami’s Little Havana, Mr. Trump announced last week … tourism-oriented businesses controlled by the Cuban military, which enrich only the … . The U.S. Embassy in Havana, which Mr. Obama re-opened with … Continue reading
… comes to doing business with Cuba. Last week, the president announced … of changes to the Obama-era Cuba policy which eased tourism and … years. Trump says his revised Cuba policy is aimed at halting … exports to Cuba. Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would … Continue reading
… the WTTC, said that: “The Cuban people are directly benefiting from … business and leisure travel to Havana. Travel brings income to the … ’s statements indicate that the Cuban people, rather than the government … business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism … Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2017 – Over the weekend the official media have repeated ad nauseam the declaration of the government in response to Donald Trump’s speech about his policy toward Cuba. The declaration’s rhetoric recalls the years before the diplomatic thaw, when political propaganda revolved around confrontation with our neighbor to the … Continue reading "Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump’s Cuba Policy" Continue reading
… to restore travel restrictions with Cuba. “This represents a step backwards … business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism … the key economic sectors in Cuba, supporting many livelihoods and drawing … being the case. In 2016 Cuba received over 4 million international … Continue reading
… relations with Cuba on Friday in Miami, the heartland of Cuban exiles … included people Cuba considers terrorists, included dramatic flourishes like a Cuban- American … Cuban tourism industry and clamp down on US business dealings with Cuba … or travel to Cuba, while also hurting the Cuban people. "It … Continue reading
…  the March 2016 deal between Havana and the administration of then … on Cuba. "This decision will have limited impact on Cuba’s … business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism …  the key sectors of the Cuban economy, with over four million … Continue reading
Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 June 2017 – The closure of three
private restaurants in Havana last week has sparked doubts among owners
of food service businesses. The fact that the three paladares – private
restaurants – were rated "excellent" on Trip Advisor, one of the most
important travel sites on the web, has fueled fears that the authorities
are acting against the more prosperous businesses.

The police closed El Litoral, Dolce Vita and Lungo Mare, all located in
the Vedado neighborhood, after a high-profile operation and the seizure
of many goods, 14ymedio was able to confirm.

Alejandro Marcel Mendevil, the visible face of El Litoral, which
operates under the name of his mother, Nardis Francisca Mendivil, had
previously had legal problems when working for a company linked to the
Ministry of Tourism, according to an employee of the place who preferred
to remain anonymous. On that occasion he was "under investigation with
other employees" for an alleged diversion of resources detected in the
entity, which operated with foreign capital.

That investigation ended without charges but according to the same
employee "the suspicion clung to him that he was laundering the
embezzled money through El Litoral."

Nardis Francisca Mendivil, legal owner of El Litoral, refuses to talk to
the press so as not to harm her son, who is imprisoned in 100 and Aldabó
and subject to a warning from State Security, but she does deny the
version published by some media according to which he was the proprietor
of the three closed paladares.

"We have nothing to do with Lungo Mare," said the mother of the
detainee. Other sources stated that her son also managed that paladar at
one time, but had sold it "a few months ago."

In addition, Señora Mendival complains that it is not the first time
that they have tried to impute false crimes to her son; in the past he
was accused of the death of a police officer who, according to Señora
Mendival, shot "himself in a patrol car," a few yards from the restaurant.

The closing of the restaurants took place after an exhaustive search by
the Technical Department of Investigations in cooperation with police
forces.

The news of what happened circulated through emails in the Cubapaladar
newsletter on food service businesses. Its organizers were quick to
remove the premises from their list of recommendations and asserted that
they will never include an establishment that is "under a legal
investigation or involved in any case that violates any Cuban law."

This Thursday, an improvised sign with the word "Closed" was the only
visible sign to customers at door of number 161 Malecón between K and L
where until recently the El Litoral was overflowing with activity. The
area is now deserted.

The operation and the confiscation of numerous belongings from the
premises were the subject of comments from the whole neighborhood. "I
saw many things: air conditioners, drinks of different brands they had
in the cellar, chairs, tables, they even took the cutlery away," says a
neighbor.

According to an employee who spoke to 14ymedio, agents also took
everything that was in the basement where a new space was going to be
inaugurated for "tasting exquisite drinks and Cuban cigars."

The site, with a wide-ranging menu specializing in seafood and fish,
soon became a emblem of the new era for Cuban entrepreneurship after the
flexibilizations for the self-employed sector promoted by Raúl Castro's
Government as of 2010.

"From the moment you walked through the door, you felt that you were not
in Cuba because of the variety of dishes and the efficiency of the
service," says Grégory, a Frenchman who has visited Cuba more than a
dozen times in the past decade, where he has "two daughters and many
friends."

However, those times of bonanza and glamor seem to have ended in the
large house with a view directly to the sea.

The scene at El Litoral is repeated in the restaurant Dolce Vita,
specializing in Mediterranean food and also located on Havana's
Malecón. The restaurant, which was a bustle of waiters and customers, is
now closed, lock stock and barrel.

At the corner of Calle 1a and C, in Vedado, silence has also taken over
the outside terrace and the interior area of ​​Lungo Mare. Underneath
its distinctive red and white striped awning there is no longer the
noise of the silverware or the clinking of the glasses. "This is dead
and it will take a long time for it to rise again," jokes a newspaper
salesman who mourns the situation.

"The whole neighborhood benefited from this restaurant because many
people came and I could sell some of my newspapers at a slightly better
price," he explains.

"This happened because it stood out a lot," says Luis Carlos, a young
man who delivers agricultural products for several restaurants in the
area. "El Litoral became a reference point and many foreigners and
diplomats came," he explains. "Here they sold the best croquettes in
Havana and that's not a joke."

No other private restaurant or coffee shop owner in the area has wanted
to comment on the case.

Source: Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In
Havana – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/three-paladares-closed-were-are-among-the-best-restaurants-in-havana/ Continue reading
… reopened U.S. embassy in Havana. Minister of Tourism Dionisio D … it would begin selling Cuba’s hotel inventory. Cuba has seen a … 4 million people, according to Cuban Ministry of Tourism figures, and … a destination like Cuba. He said the allure of Cuba is that … Continue reading
… his visit last year. “The Cuban people are directly benefiting from … business and leisure travel to Havana. Travel brings income to the … ’s statements indicate that the Cuban people, rather than the government … support the Cuban people.” Carnival Corporation Statement on Updates to Cuba Policy … Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 June 2017 – The closure of three private restaurants in Havana last week has sparked doubts among owners of food service businesses. The fact that the three paladares – private restaurants – were rated “excellent” on Trip Advisor, one of the most important travel sites on the web, has fueled … Continue reading "Three “Paladares” Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana" Continue reading
Cuba's small businesses say they will suffer under Trump's policy changes
Alan Gomez , USA TODAY 3:33 p.m. ET June 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Cuba's small businesses say they will suffer under Trump's
changes -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/06/18/cuba-small-businesses/102991296/ Continue reading
Cuba's government is reacting to President Trump's new restrictions on travel and business in that country. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez looks at the impact of the new restrictions. Published 5 hours ago | Updated 4 hours ago Continue reading
… new restrictions on Cuba travel and trade. But most Cubans are disappointed. The American traveller in Cuba - sweating … efforts to choke the Cuban economy. Instead, Cuba's tourism industry … dust-covered construction foreman in Old Havana, whose crew was busy converting … Continue reading
… with companies affiliated with the Cuban military and U.S. tourism … the U.S. embassy in Havana, which Obama re-established in 2015 … damage to the Cuban dictatorship, they will give Cuba new ammunition to … the Cuban regime’s oppression of its people to what Cuba will … Continue reading
Panama offers stranded Cuban migrants multiple entry visas if they
return to island
BY MARIO J. PENTÓN
mpenton@elnuevoherald.com

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
The Panamanian government has a proposal for a group of Cubans stranded
in that country: return voluntarily to the island, become self-employed
entreprenuers known as cuentapropistas and, in exchange, obtain multiple
entry visas and even start-up capital — still to be determined — for
investment purposes.

The proposal — which would apply only to the 126 migrants who are in a
temporary shelter in Gualaca in western Panama — was revealed by
Panama's Deputy Minister of Public Security Jonathan del Rosario, who
said that his country has done "everything possible" to help the
undocumented migrants.

The official made clear that there is no possibility that the 126 Cubans
in the Gualaca camp or the other dozens of Cuban migrants stranded in
Panama following the end of the U.S. Cuban immigration policy — known as
"wet foot, dry foot" — can stay in Panamanian territory.

The Cuban migrants were en route to the U.S.-Mexico border when former
President Barack Obama on Jan. 14 put an end to the policy, which
allowed most Cubans who made it to American soil to stay.

"We have been very frank. Their entry into the country in an irregular
manner makes it impossible for them to qualify for any type of
immigration status in Panama other than refugee status," del Rosario
said, adding that what the Panamanian government is offering is not a
bad choice.

"We are doing the budget consultations and, of course, we have not done
it behind the backs of the government of Cuba," he said. "We did not
take them to Gualaca to deceive them. The range of options we have is
not very wide and the countries we have consulted are not welcoming
migrants."

Del Rosario said that since the migration crisis in the region began
last year, Panama's government has carried out a "Controlled Flow"
operation to ensure that undocumented migrants entering Panamanian
territory "are properly controlled and enjoy their fundamental rights."

According to data released by the General Directorate of Migration in
that country, more than 39,000 undocumented Cubans have been living in
Panama for the last five years.

Last April, the Panamanian government decided to close a temporary
shelter in the capital run by Caritas, a Catholic Church organization.
Relocation from Panama City to Gualaca in the western province of
Chiriquí was accepted by 126 of the more than 300 migrants who were
staying at the shelter.

The proposal for the migrants to return home and become cuentapropistas,
unveiled at a recent meeting with migrants in Gualaca, remains on the
table and is apparently one of the few solutions left to a government
team that committed to resolve the Cuban migrant issue within 90 days.

Under the proposal, Panama would grant a multiple-entry visa to the
future entrepreneurs so they could purchase products from Panamanian
markets needed for their businesses. It is not a crazy proposition,
considering that so far this year about 11,900 Cubans have entered the
country with stamped visas that allows for multiple entries for tourism
and business purposes.

The offer is limited to the 126 migrants in Gualaca and not those who
refused to go to the shelter, designated by the government as a
temporary refuge, who will be deported if arrested by the immigration
authorities.

"If not Donald Trump, we hope that the Cuban community in Miami will
flex its muscle, that someone will help us because none of us left Cuba
to stay in Panama or be relocated in Australia," said Yelisvaris Pargas,
one of the Cubans in the Gualaca shelter. "Our goal is to reach the
United States."

Pargas, who is not opposed to returning to the island, said there is
hope among some Cuban migrants that the deputy minister's proposal is
implemented.

Others, however, are opposed to the measure.

"All the shops in Cuba belong to the government," blurted one of the
migrants.

"Those visas that are being proposed are of no use to us because
everything is illegal in Cuba," said another of the migrants gathered in
a humid hallway at the shelter.

Yosvani López, a young man from Caibarién in the Villa Clara province in
central Cuba, said the option of a multiple visa would be the best if
there were no other alternative.

"Clearly, we do not want to return," he said. "But if the choice is
between doing it obligatorily or with the option of leaving a door open
to return, I will stay with the second one."

Ivo Torres said Cubans do not migrate because of economic problems, but
rather because they are "seeking freedom" and "want to become someone in
life."

"The Cuban government does not value private initiatives because it
wants the population to be dependent on them," said Torres, who also
questioned whether Raúl Castro would allow them to become self-employed.

Panama's vice minister, meanwhile, said most of the Cuban migrants at
the shelter would not be able to prove fear of persecution if returned
to the island and cited economic woes as the primary reason for having
fled, which means they would not be eligible for refugee status.

"A refugee usually seeks refuge in the first country to which he
arrives. And since they have been through various countries before
getting to Panama, the window for refugee status generally closes," del
Rosario said. "It's not impossible but...that alternative is rarely viable.

"Panama's position on irregular migration has always been to apply
strict control measures," he said. "Before the end of the wet foot, dry
foot policy, if there were no outstanding warrants, migrants were simply
given an order to leave the country and were allowed to continue their
transit across the continent."

Del Rosario also denied that the Cuban migrants are prohibited from
leaving the provisional shelter, essentially serving as a detention
center: "Gualaca is not a hotel or a guesthouse. The idea is not to
deprive them of their rights, but they must have patience."

The migrants can only leave the camp accompanied by an escort once a
week to collect money transfers at a nearby Western Union and to make
purchases.

"We are inviting them to embrace the option of self-employment because
it will guarantee them access to Panama and economic support," del
Rosario said.

Following the change of immigration policy in the United States, Panama
airlifted some Cuban migrants to the United States but that, too, was
brought to a halt. So Panama reached an accord with Cuba, signed in
early March, and more than 90 migrants have since been deported.

As a result of intermediation from the Catholic Church, the Panamanian
government has agreed to try to resolve the Cuban migrant issue beyond
detention. However, they have made it clear that the current situation
will not be maintained forever.

"Just as with Cuba there are other countries in the region that threaten
to overflow in a migratory crisis and we are only four million
inhabitants," del Rosario said. "We can not welcome everyone."

FOLLOW MARIO J. PENTÓN ON TWITTER: @MARIOJOSE_CUBA

THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE "NEW ERA IN CUBAN MIGRATION" SERIES, A
COLLABORATIVE PROJECT BETWEEN THE MIAMI HERALD, 14YMEDIO AND RADIO
AMBULANTE MADE POSSIBLE BY A GRANT FROM THE PULITZER CENTER ON CRISIS
REPORTING.

Source: Panama to Cuban migrants: go home and get multiple entry visas |
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article156541024.html Continue reading
How Trump's Cuba policy impacts US travelers
BY MELANIE ZANONA - 06/18/17 08:00 AM EDT 72

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

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

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

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

Legal types of travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spending restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

Stronger enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercial flights

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

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

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

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

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

Timeline

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

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

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

Source: How Trump's Cuba policy impacts US travelers | TheHill -
http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/338211-how-trumps-cuba-policy-impacts-us-travelers Continue reading
… a boon to the Cuban tourism industry. Some Cuban entrepreneurs told NBC … Continue reading
Cuba, which led to freezing a hardly-achieved détente between Washington and Havana … and Havana became ideological archenemies soon after the 1959 Cuban revolution that … ties eased travel restrictions against Cuba, enabling businesses, including tourism and … Continue reading
… to import Cuban goods. The boon in tourism jump-started Cuba’s sluggish … , while Cubans living in the states still can travel to Cuba, and the U.S. embassy remains open on Cuban soil … play an influential role in Cuban political aspirations but has failed … Continue reading
… companies that maintain relations with Cuban entities." Brittany Venhola-Fletcher of … the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa still leases vehicles from Honda. Backing Cuba … by the Cuban military, a legacy of the fact that Cuba… in Cuban tourism is likely to have dealings with the Cuban military … Continue reading
Havana The American traveler in Cuba — sweating, disoriented and probably a … in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, asserts that the Obama-era … efforts to choke the Cuban economy. Instead, Cuba's tourism industry … dust-covered construction foreman in Old Havana, whose crew was busy converting … Continue reading
… Washington Post. HAVANA - The American traveler in Cuba - sweating, disoriented … efforts to choke the Cuban economy. Instead, Cuba’s tourism industry grew … Cuba travel won’t have to cancel. Limited economic reforms by Cuban … dust-covered construction foreman in Old Havana, whose crew was busy converting … Continue reading
Cuba policy] The Trump plan, announced Friday in Miami’s Little Havana … efforts to choke the Cuban economy. Instead, Cuba’s tourism industry grew … Cuba travel won’t have to cancel. Limited economic reforms by Cuban … dust-covered construction foreman in Old Havana, whose crew was busy converting … Continue reading
Cuba cruises could become less flexible under new Trump policy
Gene Sloan , USA TODAY Published 12:20 p.m. ET June 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Cuba cruises could become less flexible under new Trump policy -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2017/06/16/cuba-cruises-could-become-less-flexible/102915746/ Continue reading