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14ymedio, Havana, 27 June 2017 – Cuban authorities blocked at least seven activists from traveling to Cancun, Mexico this Monday, to participate in the 4th Forum on Roads to a Democratic Cuba, a meeting of the United Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD) organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), according to blogger Regina Coyula speaking to … Continue reading "Cuban Authorities Block Seven Activists From Traveling to Mexico for Democracy Action Meeting" Continue reading
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court began its term nine months ago with Merrick Garland nominated to the bench, Hillary Clinton favored to be the next president, and the court poised to be controlled by Democratic appointees for the first time in 50 years … Continue reading
Colorado’s great outdoors is an economic powerhouse. Two reports out this week found that the outdoor-recreation and tourism industries, which often lend each other a hand, accounted for $28 billion and $19.7 billion, respectively, in consumer spending … Continue reading
Authorities say a 64-year-old man died during a commercial rafting trip in northern Colorado. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports the Severance man, whose name wasn’t released, was on a trip run by Rocky Mountain Adventures when the raft he was in flipped … Continue reading
… 12 private bed-and-breakfast owners in Havana and Cuba’s southern colonial city … a three-bedroom, 16th-floor apartment in Havana’s trendy Vedado neighborhood. Those … . Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, a Cuban-American who supports travel restrictions, suggested … Continue reading
… criticized President Trump's Cuba policy rollback.  Addressing a Senate … to travel to Cuba. On Trump's Cuba policy, Leahy said … people.  Even a majority of Cuban Americans oppose this return to … The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act has the co-sponsorship of … Continue reading
Since President Donald Trump announced his new Cuba policy, Tom Popper's phone has been ringing off the hook. Callers have questions, lots of questions, about how they can travel to … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 June 2017 — Independent communicators
in Cuba are victims of an escalating repression, according to a
complaint filed Monday by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH),
based in Madrid. The alarm sounded by the organization coincides with an
increase in complaints from journalists on the island as a result of the
government persecutions and obstacles they suffer when exercising their
profession.

"Last June 20 Henry Constantín and Sol Garcia, journalists for La Hora
de Cuba and contributors to 14ymedio, were not able to participate in an
event in Miami because each of them has been indicted for the alleged
crime of "'usurpation of legal capacity' [that is practicing a
profession without a license to do so] and so under Cuban law they are
not permitted to travel outside the country," OCDH reported.

According to the non-governmental organization, the Cuban government had
maintained a kind of "moratorium" with regards to repression against
independent journalists, but the strategy seems to have changed in
recent weeks with actions such as those carried out against Henry
Constantin, Sol Garcia Basulto and Manuel Alejandro Leon Velázquez.

Both Constantín and García Basulto have been expressly forbidden to
practice journalism on the island and the judicial process opened
against them has been criticized from various international forums,
including the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

The OCDH also denounced the arrest of journalist Manuel Alejandro León
Velázquez, a contributor to Radio Martí and Diario de Cuba . Leon
returned from a trip to Spain and has been accused of "usurpation of
legal capacity, association to commit a crime and dissemination of false
news," according to the organization.

The accusations against the three communicators are based on Article 149
of the Cuban Penal Code, which punishes those who carry out "acts of a
profession for the exercise of which one is not properly qualified." If
they are tried for this offense they could face a sentence of up to one
year of deprivation of liberty.

In Cuba, all the media belong to the State, according to the
Constitution of 1976. However, the absence of a Media Law has allowed
the independent press to flourish with sites such as El Estornudo, El
Toque, Cubanet, CiberCuba, Diario de Cuba, Periodismo de Barrio, On
Cuba, among others.

Human rights lawyer and activist Laritza Diversent, who recently became
a refugee in the United States, explained to 14ymedio via telephone that
there are over 300 items within the Penal Code to crack down on dissent
and journalism on the island.

"State Security is looking for different strategies to prosecute all
types of dissidents or critics in Cuba," explained Diversent, president
of the legal group Cubalex, who went into exile after a police and State
Security operation against her.

"Both illegal economic activity and the usurpation of legal capacity are
nothing more than resources to punish any type of activism within the
Island. Legal insecurity is very high because both the criminal law and
the criminal procedure law have been designed as tools of repression,"
said Diversent.

Independent journalist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero, who was arrested last
October in Guantanamo and suffered the confiscation of his tools of the
trade while covering the recovery in Baracoa after the passage of
Hurricane Matthew, confirmed the difficulties of practicing the
profession on the island.

"We do not have a law that supports us and protects the exercise of
journalism, we are at the mercy of the arbitrariness of the
authorities," he said. On that occasion, a team of correspondents from
Periodismo de Barrio suffered the same fate as Gonzalez Vivero.

Other independent publications, such as Convivencia magazine, have been
harassed during the last year with the arrest of members of its
editorial team and threats by the authorities against its contributors.
Foreign correspondent Fernando Ravsberg has been threatened with
expulsion from the country and even with "having his teeth broken" for
the critical entries he publishes in his personal blog Cartas desde Cuba.

Last year the IAPA emphasized, however, the timid rebellion of some
official journalists against the information policy directed from the
Communist Party. Among the examples cited by the IAPA was a letter
signed by young journalists published by the Villa Clara newspaper
Vanguardia, in which they claimed their right to collaborate with other
media.

The IAPA also recalled the case of a Radio Holguin journalist Jose
Ramirez Pantoja, expelled from the profession for five years for making
public the remarks delivered at a conference where Karina Marrón, deputy
editor of the official daily Granma, compared the country's situation to
that of the 1990s when massive protests occurred in Havana, which came
to be known as the Maleconazo.

Source: Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/persecution-grows-against-independent-journalism-in-cuba/ Continue reading
Thirteen months after his legacy was rocked by allegations of corruption, embattled ex-Sheriff Terry Maketa is getting his day in court. But are prosecutors ready to hold up their end? The former Republican powerbroker is due for a two-week trial in 4th … Continue reading
Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's
work with Cuban institute
By News Editorial Board
Published Mon, Jun 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell
Park's work with Cuban institute - The Buffalo News -
http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/26/editorial-cancer-patients-stand-lose-trump-blocks-roswell-parks-work-cuban-institute/ Continue reading
US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers
By Andrea Rodriguez and Michael Weissenstein | AP June 22

HAVANA — The U.S. and Cuba are still cooperating to intercept drug
smugglers even through the Trump administration has halted high-level
meetings on stopping the flow of narcotics through the Caribbean, a top
Cuban anti-drug official said Thursday.

The amount of drugs seized by Cuban authorities has tripled this year
over the same period in 2016, to 1.8 tons of narcotics, said Antonio
Israel Ibarra, the head of Cuba's National Commission on Drugs.

That number is tiny compared to drug seizures in neighboring countries,
but it represents a surge due largely to U.S.-Cuban cooperation on
halting shipments of marijuana through or near Cuban territorial waters,
Ibarra said.

Cuba maintains a pervasive state-security apparatus that has managed to
keep levels of drug smuggling and serious crime to some of the lowest in
Latin American and the Caribbean. U.S. officials say day-to-day
cooperation on halting U.S.-bound human trafficking and narcotics has
improved significantly since the re-establishment of diplomatic
relations in 2015, with the two nations' coast guards talking directly
to each other and cooperating in real time on a regular basis.

High-level meetings on law-enforcement cooperation have halted, however,
since President Donald Trump took office this year. On June 16, Trump
announced a new U.S. policy on Cuba that would prohibit most new
Americans transactions with Cuban military-linked businesses and
restrict U.S. travel to Cuba.

Ibarra said Cuba is still willing to continue high-level cooperation.

"We hope that for the sake of both countries they're not going to give
back the effective cooperation that Cuba can provide them," he said.
"They're certainly the ones that benefit most."

Cuba and the U.S. signed an anti-drug cooperation agreement last July
and have held four meetings to strengthen cooperation since then, Ibarra
said. The meeting meant to happen in the first half of 2017 in
Washington was cancelled by the Trump administration, he said.

___

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

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

Source: US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers - The
Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/us-cuba-still-cooperating-on-stopping-drug-smugglers/2017/06/22/3605bdae-57ae-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html?utm_term=.b4434e57f587 Continue reading
GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL
Trip delayed 24 hours after Airbus A330 jet returned to Manchester with
oil pressure problem
SIMON CALDER TRAVEL CORRESPONDENT
@SimonCalder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Glitch on Thomas Cook flight to Cuba leaves airline with £500k
bill | The Independent -
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/thomas-cook-airlines-cuba-flight-airbus-a330-oil-pressure-wing-tip-manchester-airport-holguin-a7810226.html Continue reading
New Trump Rules on Cuba Travel Leaves Winners and Losers
The Trump administration's new policy on travel by Americans to Cuba is
creating winners and losers.
June 27, 2017, at 11:01 a.m.
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ and BETH J. HARPAZ, Associated Press

President Donald Trump's new policy on travel to Cuba has winners and
losers: Group tour operators could sell more trips, but
bed-and-breakfast owners in Cuba say they're losing business.

Lodging owners say they started getting cancellations after Trump's June
16 announcement. Tony Lopez, who rents out an apartment in Havana's
trendy Vedado (vay-dah-doe) neighborhood, says the new policy is hurting
Cuban entrepreneurs.

Under the new rules, only licensed tour operators can take Americans to
Cuba on people-to-people trips. So some Americans who planned to go on
their own are canceling trips.

On the other hand, organized tour groups are now the only game in town
for people-to-people trips. One expert says tour companies should be
"opening Champagne" because the new rules could increase their business.

Source: New Trump Rules on Cuba Travel Leaves Winners and Losers |
Business News | US News -
https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2017-06-27/new-trump-rules-on-cuba-travel-leaves-winners-and-losers Continue reading
Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at 5:17 PM

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

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

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

So what was this all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thrkenhall@gmail.com

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

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

Source: Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback: Travel
Weekly -
http://www.travelweekly.com/Caribbean-Travel/Caribbean-hotel-association-criticizes-Cuba-rollback Continue reading
The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. More The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban … Continue reading
The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. More >> The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its … Continue reading
… trips, but bed-and-breakfast owners in Cuba say they’re losing business … rents out an apartment in Havana’s trendy Vedado (vay-dah-doe) neighborhood … the new policy is hurting Cuban entrepreneurs. Under the new rules … operators can take Americans to Cuba on people-to-people trips. So some … Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 June 2017 — Independent communicators in Cuba are victims of an escalating repression, according to a complaint filed Monday by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid. The alarm sounded by the organization coincides with an increase in complaints from journalists on the island as a result of … Continue reading "Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba" Continue reading
… Roop | lroop@al.com US Cuba travel.jpg What will Trump … for expanded exports to communist Cuba, a country they see as … , more restrictive policy change with Cuba will mean for the millions … Continue reading
El flujo de turistas rusos a Cuba se duplicó en 2017 © Sputnik/ Maria Plotnikova 14:10 26.06.2017 MOSCÚ (Sputnik) — El número de turistas rusos que pasaron sus vacaciones en Cuba en los primeros cinco meses de 2017 se duplicó en comparación con el mismo periodo del año pasado, según la Asociación de Operadores Turísticos […] Continue reading
… to restore travel restrictions with Cuba.  The UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai … will have limited impact on Cuba’s tourism development, yet it … business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism …  Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.  Cuba Cruise Feedback: Group IST, a … Continue reading
… Statement Minister to travel to Cuba and Colombia Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today travel to Cuba to meet with his counterpart … 27, Mr Brownlee will visit Cuba to meet Foreign Affairs Minister … the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Cuba is an important player in … Continue reading
Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions
OPINION By Jonathan C. Brown - Special to the American-Statesman
LYNNE SLADKY
Posted: 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions -
http://www.mystatesman.com/news/opinion/commentary-the-real-reason-trump-wanted-cuba-restrictions/hAIPJBqNcqdk9fw7G7o28K/ Continue reading
… . Admission, info: Free. (818) 703-5300 CUBA Presentation Angel Castellanos will discuss how to travel to Cuba without worry or hassle. When … Continue reading
Cuba From The Inside With Alternative Tour Guides

14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 21 June 2017 — Economic hardships
turn many Cuban engineers to work as bartenders, doctors become taxi
drivers and innumerable professionals become alternative guides for
tourists. Among the latter, there are the experienced or the
just-getting-started, but all of them earn more money than they would
working in the state sector.

"When they change a picture I know instantly," says Natacha, a Havana
city guide who says she has visited "the Museum of Fine Arts more than
300 times" with her clients. She graduated from the Teaching Institute
but she left the classrooms after five years of teaching in junior high.

"I had to think about what to do with my life and I realized that I
spoke Spanish very clearly, I knew the history of Cuba and I was good at
dealing with people." A friend advised her to start offering tours to
foreigners who came to the country.

At first, Natacha stood in a corner of Old Havana and whispered her
services to travelers. Now, after the relaxations regarding
self-employment, she has been able to legalize part of her activities
and form a team. "We have a network that includes rental houses, dance
teachers, masseuses and chauffeurs," she says.

With the increase in tourism, which last year exceeded 4 million
visitors, the guide has "a surplus of work," but now fears that after
the announcements of US President Donald Trump that "the business will
decline."

Natacha accompanies her clients "to places where a state guide will
never take them…The program is flexible according to their tastes: from
exclusive areas to poor neighborhoods, trips in collective taxis, a
train ride and a santería party."

She speaks English and French fluently and recently began studying
Italian and Japanese. "Japanese tourism is still small but they pay very
well and are very respectful people," says Natacha. Most of her clients
end up recommending her services to a friend who wants to travel to
Cuba. "This is a chain of trust that has allowed me to have up to 200
customers a year."

The prices of a walk with the former teacher vary. "They can go from 20
to 100 CUC (roughly $20 to $100 US) depending on the place, the time and
the complexity of the subject." For years she included visits outside of
Havana but now she has left these to her younger colleagues because her
mother is very old and she doesn't want to leave the city.

"This work is hard because it takes a lot of personal involvement,
learning something new every day and answering many questions," she
explains. "I spend hours walking, most of the time under the sun, but I
would not give up my independence by going back to teaching." She says
that being a tourist guide has allowed her to "put a plate of food on
the table every day… a good plate of food."

A growing alternative is digital sites that advertise independent guides
and offer a wide variety of services or entertainment packages. Recently
a team of 30-something Cuban residents in Miami launched Tour Republic,
a website to sell recreational activities on the Island.

The site connects the traveler with urban guides with a marketplace –
similar to Airbnb – but instead of offering lodging it markets tours of
varied intensity and duration, from a ride in a classic car through
Havana, to an escape through the unique natural landscape of the valley
of Viñales.

Máximo, a 30-year-old Italian newcomer to Havana, was hesitant Tuesday
about whether to buy a three-day package worth $58 including visits to
the Ernest Hemingway Museum, the University of Havana, the old colonial
fortresses of the capital, and even an encounter with the sculpture of
John Lennon located in a Vedado park.

With Tour Republic the customer pays the online service and must be at
the site where the itinerary begins at the agreed-upon time. In the case
of the tour that interests Maximo, the guide is at the bottom of the
steps of the Capitol and departs every morning at ten.

The tourist says he prefers an independent guide because "the program is
more flexible and can be adjusted more" to what he wants. In a small
notebook he has noted some interesting places that escape the typical
tourist route: the town of San Antonio, the Superior Art Institute and
the Alamar neighborhood.

"In this arena there are people very prepared and with excellent
training," says Carlos, an alternative guide who leaves the statue of
José Martí in Central Park every morning for a tour he has
baptized Habana Real. "I take them through the streets where tourists do
not normally pass, I have them try a drink of rum in a bar where the
Cubans really go," he says.

The young man, with a degree in geography, has been "wearing out shoe
leather in the city for seven years." At first "I did not know much
about history, architecture or famous people, but little by little I
have become an itinerant encyclopedia of Cuba," he says.

The GuruWalk platform has also risen to the crest of the wave of tourist
interest in Cuba. The Spanish company runs an international website
for free walking tours and has chosen Havana as their preferred site to
begin operations.

Communications director, Pablo Perez-Manglano, told 14ymedio that "the
platform is completely democratic, anyone can join and create a
tour." Site administrators check the offers one by one, but the reviews
are left to users after each visit.

"We are an open and free platform, we do not charge the guide or the
visitor anything, and therefore, we hope that each person understands
and takes responsibility to comply, or not, with the legality in their
respective cities of the world," he clarifies.

The site already has seven free tours in Havana, one in Santiago and
another in Santa Clara. "In addition, we had about 200 registered users
in the last month, which is a lot for such a new platform," says
Pérez-Manglano.

Unlike Tour Republic there is nothing to pay online and the money is
delivered directly to the guide.

The perspectives that the web offers for entrepreneurs like Natacha
sound promising. GuruWalk does not deny "entry to someone for not having
an official guide qualification." Rather, it seeks "people who are
passionate about culture and history, who also enjoy teaching and
transmitting that knowledge."

One of the strategies of the company is to make itself known among "the
owners of private houses" because it is to them that more often the
foreigners ask: "What should we see in the city?"

Pérez-Manglano underlines that the cornerstone of GuruWalk is the
"collaborative economy." Instead of "certificates, rules, rules, or
permits," they are interested in trust, which "is built little by little."

Source: Cuba From The Inside With Alternative Tour Guides – Translating
Cuba -
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Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García
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Ivan Garcia, 19 June 2017 — “Impotence.” This is the word that a performer in the Guiñol Theater (located in the basement of the FOCSA building in Havana’s Vedado district) uses when asked her opinion of the new Trump Doctrine regarding Cuba. On a day of African heat, a group of eight waits to navigate the Internet … Continue reading "Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García" Continue reading
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