News Center

October 2017
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Chris Allen's phone started buzzing as word broke that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a U.S. government worker at Havana's Hotel Capri. Allen's friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before.
As a former prosecutor, before I charged someone with a crime I wanted to see the evidence, and before I took a case to trial I wanted a motive. While criminal law and diplomacy are obviously different, taking action based on evidence should be a standard formula.
The local Cuban newspaper put it this way: “A month after Irma's lashing, the northern coastal region of Sancti Spiritus wakes up each day looking as though the hurricane had just hit.”
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, CUBA--An attorney for a man accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks invoked the ongoing U.S.-Cuba dispute over sonic interference with American diplomats’ brains to urge a judge to take the captive’s sleep-deprivation complaints seriously.
HAVANA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Cuba paid the second installment on a renegotiated $2.6 billion in debt to 14 wealthy creditor nations this week, diplomats from a number of the countries said, as some creditors prepare to swap debt for an equity stake in local development projects.
HAVANA, Cuba - Delegations from St. Petersburg and Tampa were in Havana Wednesday to discuss the U.S. embargo and President Donald Trump's new U.S.-Cuba policy.
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump said Monday that he does "believe Cuba is responsible" for the mysterious attacks that sickened at least 22 US diplomats and family members in Havana.
HAVANA--A bizarre string of attacks on diplomats in Havana has sent Cuban-American relations to their lowest point in decades, with the Trump administration virtually closing its embassy here and expelling Cuban officials from Washington. But few people on this communist-run island believe a word of the U.S. allegations.
WASHINGTON--It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: Some hear multiple, distinct tones colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.
WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff John Kelly says the United States believes that Cuban President Raul Castro’s government could stop attacks on U.S. diplomats.
The U.S. premiere of Ludi Teatro has been canceled after the Cuban theatre group faced difficulties in visa approvals.
Cuba is bracing for the impact of a one-two punch from the Trump administration: stricter travel rules and an official warning about visiting the island.
When Raúl Castro steps down as Cuba’s president in February 2018, he will hand off to his successor the unfinished task of reforming the economy. It is Cuba’s most urgent need and, at the same time, an increasingly controversial one.
Before Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s north coast last month, Carla León’s private business – renting her family’s three-bedroom house in Havana through Airbnb – had already begun losing customers thanks to another force of nature: Donald Trump.
The drawdown in personnel from the American embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington in the wake of mysterious attacks on U.S. officials is a setback to the efforts begun by President Obama to reverse a five-decade policy of isolation that failed to advance U.S. interests. But whether the perpetrators of the alleged attacks, be they rogue elements of Cuban security forces or perhaps a third country like Russia or North Korea, are successful in damaging ties between the United States and Cuba will depend on how the U.S. government and American businesses, travelers and civil society respond.
In his most important speech so far this year, the possible successor to Raúl Castro described accusations made by the U.S. government of sonic attacks targeting nearly two dozen of its diplomats stationed in Cuba as “tall tales.”
When a cargo ship arrived in Cuba from Caracas this week, with supplies to help the island rebuild after Hurricane Irma, it carried a typically warm message from Nicolás Maduro, Venezuelan president. “This modest help demonstrates our nations’ civic and military union,” it read. Communist Cuba is one of socialist Venezuela’s few remaining allies. In return for subsidised oil and aid, Havana provides Caracas with doctors and intelligence operatives, a relationship that has long irked the US. “Venezuela can always count on Cubans being in the front line of militant solidarity,” Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president, said recently.
“The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) declared on September 29, when he demanded that the Trump administration break diplomatic relations, expel Cuban diplomats from Washington, and put Cuba back on the list of state sponsors of internationalism terrorism.
In an escalation of hostilities toward Cuba that is rapidly dismantling the Obama era détente, the Trump administration on Tuesday expelled 15 Cuban diplomats. The administration has also sharply drawn down the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The administration argues that the Cuban government has failed to provide safety to U.S. diplomats, 22 of whom fell victim in a mysterious rash of illnesses, even as the precise causes and perpetrators have yet to be identified. The U.S. government does not accuse the Cuban government for the unexplained illnesses.
An ominous U.S. State Department warning against visiting Cuba and a U.S.-mandated cutback in the consular officers who issue visas at the Cuban Embassy in Washington could put the chill on some U.S. travel to the island but not as much as might be expected.
Massive discounts are available to travelers eyeing up a Cuban holiday this winter amid a souring relationship with the US and damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
Nearly a year since attacks targeting American diplomats began in Havana, Cuba, U.S. investigators are no closer to determining either the source or the methods, according to officials close to the investigation underway by several agencies including the FBI and CIA.
HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Lawmakers are demanding more answers about who and what caused serious health problems for American diplomats in Cuba.
WASHINGTON--The Trump administration will kick nearly two-thirds of Cuba’s embassy personnel out of the United States after months of mysterious attacks targeting American diplomats drove the White House to pull its own staff from Havana, according to multiple sources familiar with the plan.
US intelligence operatives in Cuba were among the first and most severely affected victims of a string of baffling sonic attacks which has prompted Washington to pull out more than half of its diplomatic staff from Havana, the Associated Press has learned.
Just when it seemed that Cuba was on track to become something of a routine destination for Americans, tensions and tactics reminiscent of the Cold War have once again complicated travel to the Communist island.
HAVANA--Stretches of the famed Malecón boulevard are still closed for repairs and seaside businesses show the scars of 30-foot waves that crashed through the seawall during Hurricane Irma.
September 2017
Two sources tell CBS News the U.S. is preparing to announce a major withdrawal of staff and family from the U.S. embassy in Cuba in response to attacks targeting diplomats. Only essential personnel will be left.

Clueless on Cuba’s economy

September 28, 2017

GABRIEL and Leo have little in common. Gabriel makes 576 Cuban pesos ($23) a month as a maintenance man in a hospital. Leo runs a private company with revenues of $20,000 a month and 11 full-time employees. But both have cause for complaint. For Gabriel it is the meagre subsistence that his salary affords. In a dimly lit minimá (mini-mall) in Havana he shows what a ration book entitles one person to buy per month: it includes a small bag of coffee, a half-bottle of cooking oil and five pounds of rice. The provisions cost next to nothing (rice is one cent per pound) but are not enough. Cubans have to buy extra in the “free market”, where rice costs 20 times as much.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba’s top diplomat warned the United States on Tuesday against taking hasty decisions over alleged incidents that have harmed U.S. embassy staff in Havana and urged its authorities to cooperate on the investigation into the mysterious affair.
For President Trump’s historic speech on Cuba policy on the sunny afternoon of June 16, his aides chose a special venue: Miami’s Manuel Artime Theater, a small (839 seats) performing arts center located in East Little Havana and named for the heroic Cuban physician who led the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion against Fidel Castro in 1961. The White House selected the intimate, politically charged setting to emphasize the White House’s tough stand against Fidel’s brother, Raul, who has ruled the island nation since 2008 with the same brutality his late brother exhibited across the preceding five decades.
Washington D.C. - As the Executive Branch prepares to issue regulations implementing the President’s National Security Memorandum on Cuba, the Cuba Study Group published a White Paper that assesses the projected impact of the Trump administration’s policy and makes recommendations about how to productively tailor its impact.
Havana, Cuba (CNN)Some of the 21 US diplomats believed to have been impacted by mysterious acoustic attacks in Cuba were targeted multiple times, CNN has learned from a senior US official.
If Hurricane Irma hitting Cuba and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico had one thing in common it was that - despite ample warning - they seemed to take many by surprise.
After Hurricane Irma’s devastating 72-hour pass through northern Cuba, the Cuban government took a novel approach to storm relief: It posted a Cuban bank account number on social media where humanitarian donations can be sent.
As Hurricane Irma approached, a balcony dislodged from the fourth floor of a Central Havana building and fell on a bus, killing two young women, and two brothers died in the same neighborhood when a wall from an adjoining building collapsed on to the roof of their dwelling.
As bad as things have been for those who suffered loss and discomfort from Hurricane Irma in the continental United States—where millions of Floridians evacuated their homes and fled north in slow-moving processions of possession-packed cars—the difference in scale between their experience and that of residents of the affected Caribbean islands cannot be overstated. That gap has only been accentuated by the advent of Hurricane Maria, which has wreaked havoc upon the island nation of Dominica. The United States citizens most directly in its path—as in Irma’s—are the people of Puerto Rico. Otherwise, only the destruction in the Florida Keys, which are, essentially, Caribbean outcroppings, is comparable. The damage to settlements on some of the Leeward Islands, such as Barbuda and the French-Dutch island of St. Martin, is so thorough that rebuilding seems neither realistic nor wise, given the likelihood that even greater hurricanes will come in the future.
The United States and Cuba held their sixth Bilateral Commission meeting — the first since President Donald Trump has been in office — and it wasn’t exactly cordial.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is postponing municipal elections by a month to Nov. 26 because of the devastation wrought on the Caribbean island by Hurricane Irma, its Council of State said in an electoral notice published in the ruling Granma Party newspaper on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON--President Donald Trump threatened “further action” against Venezuela on Tuesday and promised not to lift sanctions against Cuba until the government in Havana makes fundamental reforms.
NINGBO, China, Sep 19, 2017 (PR Newswire Europe via COMTEX) -- - The joint project promotes further the Sino-Cuban cooperation in the renewable energy sector.
Staffers at the U.S. embassy in Cuba who have been victims of suspected health attacks include both top officers and lower-level employees whose duties range from diplomacy and security to medical services and maintenance, according to a list of the personnel obtained by NBC News.

Our Men and Women in Havana

September 18, 2017

Appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, October 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the Trump administration was reviewing whether to close the U.S. embassy in Havana because of the mysterious injuries suffered by U.S. diplomats from late 2016 to early 2017. Just two days earlier, five Republican senators, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) among them, urged Tillerson to close the embassy and expel all Cuban diplomats from the United States in retaliation for the purported attacks.
The U.S. State Department warned would-be travelers to Cuba Monday to “carefully consider the risks” in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and to avoid hard-hit northcentral Cuba “until further notice.”
The Trump administration will press its concerns about unexplained incidents harming American diplomats in Cuba during a meeting this week in Washington, as the United States considers shuttering its recently re-opened Embassy in Havana.
Surrounded by the remains of her home in Isabela de Sagua, a town on the north coast of central Cuba, a little girl tells a state television reporter what she lost during Hurricane Irma, which lashed across most of the island.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the United States is considering closing the U.S. Embassy in Havana in response to mysterious hearing problems that have left at least 21 employees with serious health issues.
Aware that the Cuban government sometimes rebuffs hurricane relief from large U.S.-based charities, Cuban Americans and exile organizations are scrambling to come up with ways to help friends and family after Hurricane Irma tore through the island’s north coast.

Hurricane Irma Special Appeal

September 17, 2017

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With hurricane warnings in effect for four central Cuban provinces with northern coastlines, Cubans completed last-minute preparations and evacuations Thursday in advance of Hurricane Irma.
With a hurricane watch in effect from Matanzas in central Cuba east to the province of Guantánamo, the island kicked up its preparations for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday.
Cuba on Monday began a five-month political transition expected to end with Raul Castro's departure from the presidency, capping his family's near-total dominance of the country's political system for nearly 60 years.
As the business of regularly scheduled flights between the United Stated and Cuba undergoes growing pains, JetBlue Airways has set up shop on the island
August 2017
Want to access Skype in Cuba? Without a VPN, you're out of luck. The service is blocked in the country, along with dozens of other websites, according to new report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which works under the Tor Project. The study, published this week, shows just how censored Cuba's internet still is.
On Aug. 1, the Cuban government announced an abrupt halt to issuing licenses for 27 occupations in the island’s nascent private sector. After promising to advance economic reform “without haste, but without pause,” Raúl Castro’s government has now called for a break.
The latest assessments of the attacks injuring Americans and Canadians in Havana, Cuba, by U.S. intelligence analysts point to inaudible sound as the culprit -- ultra- and infrasonic waves -- according to a source familiar with the incidents that began in November 2016. However, the source says analysts are still working to rule out other technology.
Maribel (not her real name) was the deputy principal in a state-run primary school in Cuba. She had worked there since graduating, and had been promoted fast.
For the past few months, there has been a great deal of controversy over the university’s stance on relations with Cuban institutions, particularly government-run universities.
OTTAWA/HAVANA (Reuters) - Canada is not automatically assuming that Cuba was behind an alleged "acoustic attack" against U.S. and Canadian personnel in Havana and has no plans to expel Cuban diplomats, an official said on Friday.
Cardenas, Cuba (CNN)Elián González greets me with a smile and firm handshake.
At least 16 US government employees suffered symptoms after a possible acoustic attack targeting the US embassy in Cuba, the state department says.
A small sailboat carrying a group of Cuban migrants was intercepted in the ocean Wednesday, about a mile off shore from the Dania Beach pier, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba suffered mild traumatic brain injury and likely damage to their central nervous system in an incident that has been linked to a sonic attack.
Elián, a documentary about the painful custody battle over whether a Cuban boy should be returned to his father on the island after his mother drowned at sea or remain with his Miami relatives, makes its TV debut on CNN Thursday.
A small sailboat carrying a group of Cuban migrants was intercepted in the ocean Wednesday, about a mile off shore from the Dania Beach pier, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Seventeen refugees who were found clinging to a lighthouse off the Florida Keys after fleeing Cuba in a self-made raft, and then were sent to Guantánamo Bay for a year, have been resettled in Brisbane.
In a videotaped private meeting with Communist Party members, Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel — often portrayed as a moderate politician with a quiet disposition — took on an all too familiar hardline tone that offered a rare glimpse into his ideology.
In a videotaped private meeting with Communist Party members, Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel — often portrayed as a moderate politician with a quiet disposition — took on an all too familiar hardline tone that offered a rare glimpse into his ideology.
Havana (CNN)A higher number of US and Canadian diplomats and their families are believed to have been attacked by a mystery sonic weapon in Havana than was initially reported, CNN has learned from two senior US government officials.
Following a private meeting Friday with 17 representatives of the Cuban exile community, the University of Miami announced that it will not establish agreements with Cuban universities or other institutions run by the Cuban government.
Marriott International is still pursuing plans to renovate and manage the historic Hotel Inglaterra on the fringe of Old Havana and is actively looking for other hotel projects throughout Cuba.
Cruise giant Carnival has added five more sailings to Cuba for 2018, citing strong demand for voyages to the island nation.
The unannounced visit to Cuba earlier this week by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, apparently to pay homage to the late Fidel Castro, has rekindled criticisms about the the Cuban government’s strong influence on Venezuela's crisis.
PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba — Calle Marti is a modest half-mile boulevard split by a simple winding flagstone path that's bracketed by green grass, pine trees and curving blue cement benches.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro traveled to Cuba on Tuesday to pay homage to deceased leader Fidel Castro, in a surprise visit days after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of possible military action against Venezuela.
As the Trump administration rewrites the rules on Cuba’s economic sanctions, President Raul Castro and other senior officials addressed Cuba’s National Assembly on the economic challenges their country faces. Castro reviewed progress on the “lineamientos,” or guidelines on Cuban economic reforms he launched after he was elected president in 2010. The guidelines are a document of the Cuban Communist Party proposed by himself and other top party leaders to rescue the Cuban economy from the Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy imposed by former president Fidel Castro that replicated the economic system of the former Soviet Union.
Havana, Cuba (CNN) When little Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba in 2000 following a poisonous custody battle and a federal raid on his Miami relatives' home, it was to resume a life far from the glare of the media spotlight. At least that's what Cuban officials and his father said at the time.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban trade with socialist ally Venezuela has fallen 70 percent since 2014 due to the South American oil producer's inability to meet delivery contracts and purchase goods as it struggles with low oil prices and a resulting economic meltdown.
Cuba celebrated what would have been the 91st birthday of late leader Fidel Castro with a museum dedicated to denouncing “aggressions” lobbed by the United States during the more than six decades of rule by the Castro brothers.
WASHINGTON--As the Trump administration prepares to write new regulations regarding travel to Cuba, Havana and Washington are involved in a diplomatic tug of war that seems straight out of the 1960s.
HAVANA -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that U.S. diplomats in Havana have been the victims of "health attacks" that left them with hearing loss - the most definitive U.S. statement yet on a series of mysterious incidents that have longtime observers puzzled.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.
For Cubans, the recent vote for a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela was “an exemplary victory” for President Nicolás Maduro, and the balloting took place “normally and with a great turnout.”
HAVANA — The graffiti of alien-like beings and balaclava-clad men appearing on Havana's dilapidated walls strikes a contrast with the upbeat political slogans and effigies of Cuban revolutionaries.
WASHINGTON — The State Department has expelled two diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington following a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that left U.S. officials there with physical symptoms that one official said includes potentially permanent hearing loss.
It was almost two months ago that President Trump announced he was closing down some of the opening to Cuba begun in 2014 by President Obama.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The Cuban government said on Monday the freeze on new licenses for some private-sector occupations would not last years, in an attempt to reassure citizens worried about an apparent pause in the liberalization of the economy.
HAVANA — Cuban authorities have ordered the closure of one of the island’s fastest-growing cooperatives, days after announcing that they would stop issuing new permits for some private enterprise.
Miami’s Cuban music scene has a new, younger face that cares little — if any — about politics.
HAVANA, Cuba - Authorities from the Port of Houston signed a deal with Cuban officials Wednesday in Havana.
First, Cuban authorities hauled out tables and chairs from several private restaurants on the island. Then, they put a hold on issuing permits for a range of new ventures citizens had hoped to launch — from home rentals to agricultural endeavors.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Communist-run Cuba said on Tuesday it was suspending issuing new licenses for certain private-sector activities from bed-and-breakfasts to restaurants until it had implemented new measures to curb wrongdoing such as tax evasion.
A new Kentucky chapter of an organization working to lift the United States embargo on Cuba will be unveiled Tuesday, featuring prominent state leaders and seeking to boost the export of Kentucky products like poultry, soybeans and bourbon into the country that has slowly opened to the American market over the past three years.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba praised on Monday the election in Venezuela of a new legislative superbody and denounced what it called an international plot to suppress the will of the Venezuelan people in the wake of U.S. sanctions on its key ally.
July 2017
For a lot of first-generation Cuban-Americans, Cuba is almost a myth. Grandparents talk about it at family gatherings, always insisting the music, the beaches and even the sugar was better there.
A Coral Gables business consultant watched one day in June as Cuban authorities carried out chairs, tables, plates, sound systems and bottles of imported liquor from a popular private restaurant near the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
They are teachers, engineers or farmers, all seeking freedom in the United States. But after an unexpected policy change and an end to special treatment that allowed the majority of Cuban migrants to remain legally in the country, more than 1,300 are now being held at detention centers across the country waiting for their fate to be decided by immigration judges.
HAVANA (Reuters) - A senior Cuban official rejected rumors the Communist-run island might intervene as a mediator in Venezuela's crisis and called on Wednesday for "absolute respect for the sovereignty" of its socialist ally.
The fraught strategic relationship of the United States with Cuba — which was then a Spanish colony — began on Feb. 15, 1898, when the USS Maine, an aging, undersized battleship, mysteriously blew up in Havana Harbor. The Hearst newspaper chain, in what we would think of today as “fake news” or “alternative facts,” created an inflammatory storyabout Spanish saboteurs having destroyed the warship. As was the case after the Pearl Harbor attack almost half a century later, the nation was suddenly galvanized into war. “Remember the Maine” became the battle cry; a young Theodore Roosevelt lead a daring charge up San Juan Hill, which later won him the Medal of Honor, and launched his political career.
As the Trump administration continues to work on rules to implement its new Cuba policy, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued clarifications Tuesday on the U.S. interim policy.
HAVANA — Hanging in the office of a mechanics garage in central Havana, where Julio Álvarez has made a living off of renovating classic American cars and chauffeuring tourists around the island, a round yellow sign reads: “We use genuine Chevrolet parts.”
MIAMI--President Donald Trump's effort to reverse a historic opening between the U.S. and Cuba is raising tensions in South Florida's exile enclave, where wealthy patrons and institutions have sought to unify Cubans on both sides through unprecedented art exhibits.
Cuba’s historic cities, vibrant culture and sandy beaches were the star performers of the economy in the first half of the year, pulling in 23.2 percent more visitors than the first six months of 2016.
The public face of Cuba's diplomatic opening with the United States is leaving her post to become ambassador to Canada, officials said Sunday.
WASHINGTON--Jeff Flake sees an opening in Cuba.
MINAS DE MATAHAMBRE, Cuba (Reuters) - A new lead and zinc mine in northwestern Cuba is on track to start production in October as part of the Caribbean island's attempt to breathe fresh life in its mining sector, the joint venture Emincar overseeing the project said this week.
Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, has traveled to Cuba several times to explore the possibility of doing business on the island.
For decades, George Borjas, 66, has toiled in what was generally the quiet field of immigration labor econonics. His wonkish work was filled with dense mathematics that made him a leader in his field and led to a professorship at Harvard, while being completely unknown to the general public.
Ana and Víctor arrived worn out and weary on an early morning bus and made their way straight for the bridge across the Rio Grande into Texas. The Cuban couple headed toward the US immigration offices, where they planned to apply for political asylum.
As the clock ticked past midnight two years ago, the United States and Cuba officially reestablished diplomatic relations and later in the day that July 20, diplomatic missions in Washington and Havana once again became embassies.
WASHINGTON--Jeff Flake sees an opening in Cuba.
Visiting Cuba is always an emotional journey for poet Richard Blanco.
HAVANA — All around Havana, local Cuban entrepreneurs refer to the day President Trump unveiled his new policy toward the country simply as “June 16.”
After spending 33 years designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government, Cuba no longer has any activity that even merits its own report in the State Department’s annual review of terrorist threats around the world.
HAVANA — In the heart of Old Havana along the city’s historic Cathedral Square, a restored colonial mansion housing a popular tourist restaurant is packed with travelers sipping mojitos and nibbling on plantain chips.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's two-year-old financial crisis worsened during the first half of this year, and the country is having difficulty obtaining trade credits due to late payments to suppliers, according to Cuban Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas.
NAPLES, Fla. — When Paul Vangelakos heard President Trump would be announcing a plan to tighten restrictions on travel to Cuba, he thought, “Oh, shoot. I need to get on this right now.”
HAVANA, CUBA--Ileana Sánchez searched meticulously through her worn purse for cash to buy a small blackboard for her 7-year-old granddaughter, who dreams of being a teacher when she grows up.
Just like every president before him for more than two decades, President Donald Trump intends to suspend a section of the Helms-Burton Act that allows former owners of commercial property expropriated by Cuba to sue foreign companies and the Cuban government for using or “trafficking’ in those confiscated holdings.
Cuban President Raul Castro denounced President Donald Trump's tougher line on relations with Havana on Friday, calling it a setback but promising to continue working to normalize ties between the former Cold War rivals.
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HOUSTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - Venezuela's crude and fuel deliveries to Cuba have slid almost 13 percent in the first half this year, according to documents from state-run oil company PDVSA viewed by Reuters, threatening to worsen gasoline and power shortages in the communist-run island.
On June 16, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami, declaring that he was “canceling” President Barack Obama’s opening to Havana. Here are eight things you need to know about what Trump did—and didn’t –do.
As U.S. officials prepare to implement President Trump’s Cuba policy, the rancor over the revised course is masking an emerging bipartisan consensus over American policy toward the island. Despite declaring he was “cancelling” President Obama’s deal with Cuba, Trump’s approach maintains the vast majority of steps the Obama Administration took.
MIAMI — Leaders of the Jewish community in Cuba have sent an open letter today to their “brothers and sisters” in the U.S. expressing concern that reversing policy towards the island could have an impact on religious institutions, which have benefited from increased ties between the countries.
In a reversal of the Obama administration’s historic effort to normalize US-Cuba relations, on June 16 President Trump announced his new, antagonistic policy—which includes restrictions on the abilities of US citizens to freely visit the island in the future. As Trump’s Treasury Department drafts the new regulations on how and where travelers can go in Cuba, The Nation asked four leading veterans of the travel-to-Cuba movement to comment on the new restrictions and their impact on the rights of US travelers and Cuban society at large.
The Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies is at the center of a controversy between its outgoing director, Jaime Suchlicki, and the University of Miami, which has been its home for almost 20 years.
The U.S. Embassy in Cuba has a new interim chief at its seaside building in Havana: career diplomat Scott Hamilton.
HAVANA - Cubans will soon be heading to the polls to begin the process of determining a new leader.
Long before the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce finish writing the new regulations that President Trump ordered to restrict trade and travel to Cuba, the president will face another decision on relations with Havana that could be far more consequential for U.S. businesses. By July 16, he will have to decide whether to continue suspending certain provisions of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (also known as Helms-Burton, after its sponsors).
Norwegian Cruise Line will expand its lineup of Cuba cruises in 2018 with new sailings out of Port Canaveral, Fla.
“Can Trump Compete With Obama on Cuba?,” by Jorge I. Domínguez (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, June 27), is an excellent analysis of President Trump’s Cuba policy from one of the foremost experts on United States-Cuba relations.
Cuba plans to produce 54,500 tonnes of nickel and cobalt sulfides this year, state-run television said at the weekend.

Panama's deputy minister of public security on Friday made a final offer to Cuban migrants staying at a temporary shelter in that nation: $1,650, a plane ticket to Havana and a multiple-entry visa that would give them legal entry to visit the Central American nation.
It has been nearly 17 years since Congress passed a law involving Cuba. The last time was in 2000 when the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act allowed food products to be sold to Cuba on a cash only basis as an exception to the comprehensive embargo.
Two weeks after President Donald Trump announced a rollback of U.S.-Cuba policies from the heart of Miami’s Little Havana, U.S. corporations are wary and at a standstill, wondering how the announcement will translate into regulations over the course of the next month.
HAVANA--For a dollar, Cuban podiatrist Serafin Barca will spend a half hour cutting the corns off a senior citizen’s foot, or nearly an hour removing a stubborn wart.
HAVANA — A joint U.S.-Cuban expedition to explore the island’s coral reefs uncovered a surprisingly healthy ecosystem and large schools of mackerel with significant commercial value, scientists involved in the mission said Tuesday.
Nidialys Acosta handles the booking for a loose association of vintage car owners who have banded together to offer transportation for visiting dignitaries and other groups. Clients have included a New York business delegation led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of the founders of Airbnb.
Carlos Tabares, known as the Derek Jeter of Cuban baseball, is hanging it up this year at 42 after 20 years competing in Serie Nacional, the interprovince league that represents the best of baseball in a proud but grimly challenged country that still reveres the game.
Cuban authorities have made a move to reignite citizens' sex lives by reintroducing a series of state-run pay-per-hour motels which they hope will "diversify the options for love", the country's official trade union weekly Trabajadores announced on Monday.
June 2017
As President Trump announced the administration’s new policies on Cuba, I worried that Afro-Cubans would be the main losers. They have been losing for some time. The timid economic reforms implemented by the Cuban government in the past two decades have resulted in a growing gap between those with access to capital and those without it.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA--The radio music broadcasts are amplified by the dozens of speakers positioned in businesses and homes. Salsa, reggaeton and merengue echoes through the narrow streets and mid-20th Century buildings.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Carnival Paradise makes its inaugural 4-day trip to Cuba out of Port Tampa Bay Thursday morning.
President Donald Trump’s decision to prohibit U.S. transactions with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military has thrown a spotlight on the role of the armed forces in Cuba’s economy. That role is extensive, reaching across a number of different sectors, and it has grown in recent years along with Cuba’s tourism industry, where military-controlled firms are concentrated. These enterprises are managed by the holding company Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A., GAESA, which reports to the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR).
(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co said it would reduce the number of flights to Cuba, joining other U.S. airlines, as President Donald Trump's Cuba policy continues to restrict Americans traveling to the country.
President Donald Trump's new policy on Cuba travel has winners and losers: Group tour operators hope to sell more trips, but bed-and-breakfast owners in Cuba say they're losing business.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” Thus said President Trump on June 16 in Miami to wildly enthusiastic applause from the remaining veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Yet, in practice, Obama administration policies toward Cuba remain in effect. President Trump has set up political, bureaucratic and diplomatic bargaining for months to come.
HAVANA - For U.S.-based airlines, the coming months will be a wait-and-see game after President Donald Trump announced a new policy toward Cuba that some argue might hinder American travel to the island nation.
William LeoGrande, an American University professor who specializes in U.S.-Cuba relations, says it appears there might be a “poison pill” in President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy that potentially could cut off remittances to more than 1 million Cubans.
Some U.S. executives that do business with Cuba breathed a sigh of relief after President Donald Trump outlined his new Cuba policy in Miami because it won’t have much impact on their companies. But others have pressed the pause button until they see how the new regulations implementing the changes are written.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced his outrage at Cuba’s poor human rights record. On his recent Mideast trip the president did not even mention the issue in totalitarian Saudi Arabia. But of Cuba, he declared: “We will not be silent in the face of Communist oppression any longer.” A cynic might observe that more Cuban-Americans than Saudi-Americans voted for him last November.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Minnesota's government and businesses will continue to engage with Cuba in the areas they can, like agricultural trade, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's partial rollback of the detente, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith said on Thursday.
The director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. federal body that oversees Radio and TV Martí as well as the Martí Noticias website, resigned last week amid complaints by some dissidents and exiles about OCB’s editorial line.
Opposition to President Donald Trump’s new policy on Cuba is growing and gathering support among different communities.
Dr. Alberto Hernandez, a former president of the Cuban American National Foundation, died June 16 in Miami. His family said one of the top leaders of the Cuban exile community had three passions: family, medicine and a free Cuba.
Last week, in Miami, to the cheers of American hard-liners, President Trump announced a reversal of the Obama administration’s “terrible and misguided deal” with Cuba. With the swipe of a pen, decades old trade and travel restrictions were reinstated, dashing hopes for normalized relations in the near future.
There is a poison pill hidden in President Donald Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on Cuba that could deprive over a million Cuban families of access to remittances from their relatives abroad—a declaration of economic war on the very people that Trump claims his policy will empower.
Engagement or embargo? That is the question not just in Cuba but also in places like Iran, Russia, and China. Should we trade, or should we withhold our trade in hopes of changing the behavior of other nations? Which will have more impact?
On June 16, speaking from the heart of the Cuban exile community in Little Havana, President Donald Trump declared that he would be “cancelling” plans to ease relations with Cuba, a historic policy initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2014 to end decades of Cold War-era hostilities between the two countries. It did not matter that Trump himself once explored (possibly illegal) commercial opportunities on the island, or that early in his presidential campaign he said normalization was “fine.” In an effort to appeal to the dwindling number of hardline supporters of the U.S. embargo in Miami who had thrown their support behind him in last year’s election, Trump forged ahead, denouncing Obama’s policies on Cuba as “terrible and misguided.” In doing so, he defied the wishes of roughly 63 percent of Cuban Americans who oppose the embargo, to say nothing of Cubans on the island.
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."
In light of President Trump’s announcement that he would double down on the Cuban embargo that failed to force Havana to capitulate for nearly six decades, the question is not whether Cuban society will change. It has and it will. It is whether the Cuban people can count on America as a partner or an adversary as it does.
PEARSALL, Texas — Rafael Herrera trekked across five countries in Central and South America, dodged unscrupulous border guards and smugglers and spent thousands of dollars to flee communist oppression in his native Cuba and start a new life in the USA.
U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on Cuba was a "grotesque spectacle," but the island's government will continue working towards better relations with the majority of Americans who back detente, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday.
Noting the hostile rhetoric of President Donald Trump in his Miami speech and saying the United States was in no position to be giving lessons on human rights, Cuba still extended an olive branch and said it wanted to continue a dialogue with its neighbor to the north.
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.
Ben Rhodes, a former White House aide who helped craft President Obama's Cuba policy, on Sunday slammed President Trump's decision to reverse Obama-era efforts to warm relations with Havana, saying that Trump and some GOP lawmakers "don't believe in freedom."
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.
President Trump’s announcement today indicates how far the Cuba policy debate has moved, despite intense pressure from scarce congressional hardliners. Many of the gains of normalization remain intact. At best, this is a partial victory for those who hoped to reverse increased bilateral ties. However, the Cuba Study Group reiterates its view that the completely free flow of people, ideas, information, and goods helps, rather than hinders, the cause of meaningful reform on the island. We therefore urge President Trump to reject the half-measures he proposed today and pursue a policy of full normalization with the island.
In an overhaul of one of his predecessor’s signature legacies, President Donald Trump will redraw U.S. policy toward Cuba on Friday, tightening travel restrictions for Americans that had been loosened under President Barack Obama and banning U.S. business transactions with Cuba’s vast military conglomerate.
Several prominent free market advocates sent a letter to President Trump Wednesday discouraging the anticipated announcement to add travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.
Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart sat in the Oval Office last month, surrounded by two Cabinet secretaries, the national security adviser and an array of top White House staff, and asked President Donald Trump to put his power behind their plans for Cuba.
MIAMI — When President Trump travels to this Cuban-American enclave on Friday to announce curbs on recent U.S. ties with Cuba, he'll be flanked by supporters of his moves and confronted by protesters opposed to his rollback of one of President Barack Obama's signature achievements.
This week, President Trump is expected to announce his new policy toward Cuba. If his decision is to roll back the policy of engagement begun by President Obama – as press reports indicate is likely – it would not only harm U.S. businesses and the Cuban people, it would leave a gaping vacuum just 90 miles offshore, for our adversaries to fill.
Throughout the presidential campaign and since taking office, President Donald Trump and his staff have characterized the Obama administration’s policy toward Cuba as a “bad deal” for Americans. There were several reports during the campaign, however, that the Trump Organization had been exploring business in Cuba, with some indicating that such explorations were in direct violation of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
President Donald Trump is expected to visit Miami Friday, where he will announce what is already highly anticipated to be a tightening of the rules on trade and travel enacted under former President Barack Obama.
President Trump is right in that the Obama administration's opening to Cuba has failed to produce any human rights or democratic changes on the island, but I'm afraid that Trump's plan to partially reverse the current U.S. policy will make things worse.
In the most serious political fight possible — the presidential one — Sen. Marco Rubio referred to then candidate Donald Trump as “a con man.” Nothing more true has ever come from the senator’s lips.
(Washington, DC) – Reversing the Obama administration’s changes in United States policy toward Cuba will not improve respect for human rights on the island, Human Rights Watch said today.
Cuban-American members of Congress have been pushing the Trump administration to restrict deals between U.S. companies and Cuban firms controlled by the island's military, as part of the new Trump policy toward Cuba expected to be announced this week in Miami.
Havana, Cuba (CNN)For Cuban officials on the front lines of the fight against drug trafficking, the Trump administration's threat to roll back improved relations between the United States and the communist-run island comes at a dangerous moment.
As President Donald Trump weighs rolling back some of the Cuba normalization policies begun during the Obama administration, a new poll finds a majority of Republicans would oppose such a move.
Your trip to Havana might have to wait!
Two groups of pro-Cuba engagement House and Senate Republicans each sent letters to President Donald Trump and members of his administration, respectively, asking for Cuba to remain open in the wake of reports the administration is leaning toward reversing its policy on the island nation.
Rumor has it that those who have long supported the policy of isolation over engagement are pushing the Trump Administration to impose new restrictions on American citizens who travel to Cuba. For the sake of the Cuban people, whose everyday struggle under a communist government is difficult enough without the U.S. government pulling the rug out from under their livelihoods, I sincerely hope that these rumors aren’t true.
If President Donald Trump chooses to reverse course with Cuba and move back to the isolationist policies imposed on the island nation under former President Dwight Eisenhower, he could effectively be giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a gift on a silver platter.
We, civic and business leaders representing the views of the majority of the Cuban-American community,[1] write to communicate our strong desire that your administration continue normalizing relations with Cuba. We strongly believe it would be a mistake if the U.S. reversed the steady progress made toward normalization. Returning to a policy of isolation would only contravene the wishes of most Cubans and Cuban-Americans and threaten U.S. national security, commercial opportunities, and jobs.
It may be hard to fathom outside of Miami, but the faraway island of Cuba and Cuban-American politics could have played a role in Thursday’s historic hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
For more than two years, Americans have been freer to travel and do business in Cuba than at any time in the previous five decades. Now, however, the Trump administration is considering restoring the restrictions on travel and trade that president Barack Obama relaxed in 2014. Insiders say the decision might be presented as a defense of human rights in Cuba, but will in reality be an attempt by Trump buy some support for his other Washington battles.
Less than a year after passenger flights restarted between the United States and Cuba, the future of Cuban travel is once again up in the air.
Towering cranes dot the Havana skyline as communist-run Cuba races to build luxury hotels, amid indignation among some residents and concern that U.S. President Donald Trump might reverse a detente that fueled the tourist boom.
President Trump has a knack for bad optics. The day after he fired FBI Director James Comey in hopes of taking the pressure off the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election, Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office. Now, as Comey prepares to testify before Congress about Trump’s request that the FBI halt the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, the president is preparing to announce a Cuba policy that would clear the way for Moscow to re-establish itself as Cuba’s principal foreign patron.
To unveil President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Cuba policy, his young administration had eyed a day brimming with symbolism: May 20, Cuban Independence Day.
To the long list of Barack Obama’s major initiatives that President Trump is obsessed with reversing, we may soon be able to add Cuba. In 2014, Mr. Obama opened a dialogue with Cuba after more than a half-century of unyielding hostility, leading to an easing of sanctions. Mr. Trump promised in his campaign to return to a more hard-line approach. If he does, as seems likely, he will further isolate America, hurt American business interests and, quite possibly, impede the push for greater democracy on the Caribbean island.
The new American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora is striking in its architectural resemblance to the grand colonial houses of Havana, yet has a modern Miami flair. From the imposing stairwell to the natural light that bathes the halls and bounces off sparkling white marble floors, The Cuban is a jewel.
Cruise lines and airlines stand to lose $3.5 billion and more than 10,000 jobs over the course of President Donald Trump’s four-year term if the administration fully rolls back all of the United States’ Cuba regulations, according to a report by nonprofit Engage Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - With less than a year until Raul Castro steps down as president, Cuba's parliament approved documents on Thursday confirming the Communist Party as the country's guiding force and banning the concentration of private property and wealth.
Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo supports imposing a two-percent tax on sales of agricultural products to Cuba, to be used to compensate property owners confiscated by the island government.
HAVANA (AP) — A handful of entrepreneurs have quietly formed communist Cuba's first private small business association, testing the government's willingness to allow Cubans to organize outside the strict bounds of state control.
May 2017
President Trump is weighing whether to take a harder line with Cuba, potentially risking the thaw in relations started by the last administration.
Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart leveraged his vote on the recent Obamacare repeal legislation in an effort to gain concessions from President Trump on Cuban policy, according to The Daily Caller’s sources.
U.S. President Donald Trump may find it hard to walk back his predecessor’s historic rapprochement with Cuba, now that various businesses are invested in revived relations with Havana.
Washington D.C. - The Cuba Study Group partnered with celebrated Cuban economist Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, formerly a Professor of Economics and Researcher at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, to produce a White Paper analyzing the current status and future prospects of the Cuban economy. The document also discusses practical steps the Cuban government can take within the short term to improve its economy.
The congressional battle between lawmakers from farming states and Cuban American colleagues on funding food exports to Cuba could be coming to an end thanks to an “elegant” solution that is part of proposed legislation: a 2 percent user fee on agricultural products sold to the island that would be used to compensate those who have certified claims of properties confiscated by the Cuban government.
President Donald Trump is mulling a reversal of Cuba policies enacted by former president Barack Obama that soften the U.S.’ stance towards the country, including the rescinding of the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ immigration policy.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reintroduced legislation on Thursday to repeal all restrictions on travel to Cuba, this time attracting far more co-sponsors in a sign of growing support for U.S.-Cuban detente even as its future looks uncertain.
The Cuba Study Group wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeffry Flake (R-AZ), and 53 additional bipartisan co-sponsors.
Less than three years after former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Cuban president Raul Castro announced a mutual agreement to thaw relations between the former adversarial countries, companies are asking President Donald Trump not to reverse the progress made.
HAVANA--Men sit on the steps and play a hand of cards, women chat outside barred windows, stray dogs missing tufts of fur trot by.
USAID programs in Cuba, which have been highly controversial in recent years, aren't funded under the Trump administration's proposed State Department budget for Fiscal Year 2018.
As the internet becomes more widespread in Cuba, online start-ups are emerging. But the problems many of the companies hope to address are also a reminder of how far the island has to go.
Expedia said on Tuesday it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, hoping to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.
Cuban diplomats have been traveling across the United States so frequently since President Donald Trump took office that the slogan of the Cuban Embassy in Washington could be “See America First.”
After much anticipation that an announcement on Cuba policy changes would be made no later than Saturday, President Donald Trump — in the midst of various political crises — has not decided what to do, officials said.
Cuba said on Thursday 1,847 residents had so far contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus, warning that certain provinces on the Caribbean island still had high rates of infestation despite a series of measures to stave off the epidemic.
On May 10, a tanker with a full load of Russian crude oil made its way across the Atlantic Ocean and docked in Cuba — the largest petroleum shipment from Russia to Cuba since the Cold War. The previous October, Russia’s defense minister announced Moscow was considering reopening military bases in Cuba — its first official return to the island since 2002. The Chinese are getting in on the action as well: China is both Cuba’s largest trading partner and the largest holder of Cuban government debt. The Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei is in direct competition with Google to provide internet access throughout Cuba — a high-stakes commercial battle that could determine whether Cubans have access to an open internet or one controlled by the government.
As Cuba becomes more accessible, entrepreneurs there are finding new ways to reach users and build businesses. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, we got the perspective of a trio of Cuban entrepreneurs to learn about the challenges they face in building businesses as the country gradually opens up to the outside world.
Like its music, like its art, Cuba is a complex, colorful mash-up of dichotomous ideas, cultures and emotions.
For decades, dramatic images of Cubans trying to reach the United States on decrepit boats made of all kinds of materials shocked many within the South Florida community. On the island, families waited desperately for news on whether loved ones had made it to shore.
A delegation of American LGBTQ advocates met Saturday in Havana with “leaders of Cuban civil society” who are demanding that the government there recognize marriage for same-sex couples and create legal protections for transgender Cubans.
With demand to see Cuba still hot, Royal Caribbean International is extending its commitment to sail to the island through 2019.
Cubazon. Kewelta. Knales. These aren’t house hold names in the US but they’re at the vanguard of entrepreneurship in Cuba and they’ll be joining us on stage at Disrupt New York.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis in Rome May 24, as part of the president's first trip abroad. No specific agenda has been announced, but the last time a U.S. president stopped by the Vatican to see the pope, much of their discussion centered on Cuba.
American visitors to Cuba could increase by seven times by 2025, according to a new report – putting the Caribbean island’s infrastructure under enormous strain and sparking fears for the future of the country as US investors move in.
In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism.
For decades belonging to a religion and being anything but heterosexual was stigmatized in Communist-ruled, macho Cuba, making the Mass held by three transgender pastors in the western Cuban city of Matanzas all the more groundbreaking.
The first Cuban chef with a Michelin star, and the chef — and owner — of the private paladar where former President Barack Obama dined during his trip to Cuba, have something more in common than love of cooking: Both represent snippets of success that Afro-Cubans can find in the emerging private sector on the island.
Should all happen as expected, February 24th 2018 will be a momentous day in the lives of many Cubans. On that day, 10 years after officially taking over from his brother Fidel, President Raúl Castro has promised to step down from power, marking the first time that many on the island will have ever known a head of state without his famous last name. Fidel himself had been president between 1976 and 2008, and prior to that had been the main power behind the throne since the 1959 Cuban revolution. Nearly 60 years of Castro-led government, then, will finally come to an end.
You might think other Caribbean tourism destinations would be ready to flip their sandals as Cuba's tourism numbers continue to climb.
Russia has begun shipping large quantities of oil to Cuba for the first time this century, sources said, as supplies to the island from crisis-wracked Venezuela have dwindled.
Washington D.C. - The Cuba Study Group partnered with a team of four MBA students (Laura Araujo, Emily Lagnado, Tyler Michael Sanchez, and Juan Valdés) from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to produce a White Paper analyzing the Cuban coffee sector’s export potential to the United States. The students conducted extensive library, expert interview, and in-country research focusing on independent farmers and agricultural cooperatives, rather than the state-controlled coffee sector.
A protester briefly disrupted the start of Cuba's largest annual political event on Monday, sprinting in front of May Day marchers and brandishing a U.S. flag before he was dragged away.

Push and Pull on Cuba

May 1, 2017

In recent weeks, as the White House has been consumed by loud debates over health care, taxes and trade, there has been another, quieter debate occurring beneath the surface. Government agencies and lawmakers have been pulling the administration in two directions on whether to continue the Obama administration’s path on relations with Cuba.
TAMPA - Royal Caribbean’s inaugural Tampa to Cuba Cruise set sail at 4:00 p.m. Sunday from Port Tampa Bay.
April 2017
Only weeks after two small U.S. airlines announced plans to cut back service to Cuba, four major carriers have filed applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation to take over the routes to the island nation.
CARAMBOLA, Cuba -- A Cuban military plane crashed into a hillside Saturday in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board, the government said.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the dean of the Florida legislative delegation and the first Cuban American elected to Congress, is retiring at the end of her term next year, saying it’s time to move on after 38 years in elected office.
Almost apologizing because he “doesn't want to make things worse,” Afro-Cuban activist Norberto Mesa Carbonell recalled how Cuban police arrested him for trying to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last month.
As the Trump administration carries out its promised review of U.S. policy toward Cuba, it should think hard about the national and economic security implications of its next move. Three apparent courses of action—rolling back engagement and increasing punitive sanctions, continuing with normalization, or conditioning improved relations on further changes in Cuba—have distinct ramifications for the White House’s stated priorities to improve border security and generate jobs at home.
HAVANA – Refineries have gone dark. Gas rations have been slashed for hundreds of thousands of state workers. Construction materials are nearly impossible to find.
Cubans can access Google sites faster now that Google Global Cache (GGC) service is available on the island, an internet analysis firm announced Wednesday.
April 26 (UPI) -- The necessary components for an accelerated drilling program for oil prospects in Cuba may already be in place, Australian energy company Melbana said.
Pedro Betancourt (Cuba) (AFP) - A sweet smell of treacle used to fill the air in the village of Pedro Betancourt -- but like the workers from the derelict Cuba Libre sugar refinery, it has dispersed.
Shortly after his election, Donald Trump tweeted that he would insist on a Cuba policy that was good for “the Cuban people, the Cuban American people, and the United States as a whole.” While that may seem like a tall order, in fact Cubans, Cuban Americans, and the U.S. public at-large generally agree on what U.S. policy ought to be.
Economic performance in the Caribbean will be uneven this year: Some economies will grow by 5 percent or more, but others will be lucky to eke out even negligible economic growth.
JetBlue Airways seems pretty eager to fly from Boston to Cuba.
Slick new graphics, drum and bass theme music and young presenters: at least in its presentation, Cuba's latest state television channel is a break with the past.
The Cuba Study Group today issued the following statement on news of the passing of Mr. Rolando H. Castañeda of Washington, DC: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Rolando Castañeda. Rolando was a brilliant economist who will be remembered for his generosity and deep commitment to improving the lives of the Cuban people. A friend of the Cuba Study Group, Rolando selflessly volunteered his time and immense intellect in support of the organization’s research and economic analysis. His honesty was evident in both passionate advocacy as well as his respectful disagreement. His brilliance, kindness and generosity will be greatly missed, but his selflessness and contributions to the wellbeing of the Cuban people will not be forgotten. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and friends.” Rolando H. Castañeda was a cuban-born economist and retired executive from the Organization of American States and Inter-American Development Bank. A long-time member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy and co-author of the Arcos Principles of Responsible Investment in Cuba, Rolando was a leader in promoting the rights of Cuban workers and encouraging human and economic rights on the island. Mr. Castañeda passed away on April 17, 2017 after a long battle with cancer. A mass was held in his honor in Washington D.C. today, April 22, 2017. ### .
Cuban farmer Pascual Ferrel says his favorite fighting cock's prowess was "off the charts," so after it died of illness he had the black and red rooster preserved and displays it on his mantelpiece beside a television.
The Trump administration and the Cuban government need to start a dialogue, the Republican governor of Mississippi said on Wednesday during a trip to the Communist-led island to scout trade opportunities for his state.
More than a dozen retired military officers are urging the Trump administration to keep normalizing relations with Cuba to strengthen U.S. national security interests.
Andrew Otazo, Cuba Study Group's Executive Director, gave a talk at the Harvard Law School on April 18, 2017 concerning recent developments in the Cuban economy, Cuban private sector, and U.S.-Cuba relations. The discussion was sponsored by La Alianza, Harvard Law School's Hispanic student association.
One of the main criticisms of President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba is that he did not extract any concessions from Raúl Castro on human rights—a criticism amplified whenever Cuban police break up a dissident meeting or demonstration. But making quid pro quo human-rights demands would have been a non-starter, just as it has been for the past 58 years. That approach would have made it impossible for the United States and Cuba to reach agreements on prisoner exchanges, diplomatic relations, and cooperation on issues of mutual interest.
A senior Cuban official is warning foreign countries against meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is facing down mass protests.
An electric car dealer with a Miami subsidiary is telling Cuba-based diplomats struggling with a gasoline shortage on the Communist-run Caribbean island that they should fret no longer.
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS--More than 30 Cuban activists, writers, academics and entrepreneurs, mostly of African descent, gathered at Harvard University for an unprecedented meeting to celebrate the achievements of the Afro-Cuban movement on the island and set the course for future work.
The number of U.S. airlines flying to Cuba keeps thinning out.
Cubans who rent homes to tourists saw the heavens open when Airbnb, an American company that connects guests with hosts renting their homes, offered them the opportunity to use its digital platform.
Seven-year-old Havana resident Jennifer Alvarez loves school. Her favorite subject is math, but “sometimes it’s complicated,” she says. Alvarez is a sweet little girl, being raised by a single mother. It’s not just math that’s complicated, the second-grader says. Life is too.
Venezuela's leftist, regional allies have pledged to support its embattled government at a summit in Havana, where President Nicolás Maduro accused the opposition of resorting to violence to lay the groundwork for a foreign invasion.
Cuba is experiencing one of its worst droughts in 100 years. Although the government provides drinking water, the shortages caused by the lack of rain are compounded by an aging and dilapidated infrastructure. More than 50 percent of the available water is lost to a leaking drainage system and state water officials must manually change the flow of water in the pipes every day to ensure an equal water divide between houses and neighbourhoods.
HAVANA — An independent expert from the United Nations was in Cuba on Monday for a four-day visit to evaluate the human trafficking situation on the island for the first time in a decade.
When they are not tending to international affairs, diplomats based in Havana can be found these days stewing in interminable lines at gas stations and concocting ways to increase the octane in fuel as Cuba's premium gasoline shortage takes its toll.
The first independent United Nations human rights expert to visit Cuba in a decade will travel to the island next week.
HAVANA — Aerial photographs of soccer fields in Cuba were once enough to sound the alarm.
Mexico will allow U.S.-bound Cuban migrants who got stranded in the border city of Nuevo Laredo following the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy to apply for political asylum and legalize their status in the nation, the mayor of that city said earlier this week.
Norwegian Cruise Line on Tuesday announced that it will expand its Cuba cruising offerings in 2018 with 33 sailings. Most of the trips will have overnight calls in Havana.
Although the Trump administration’s Cuba policy review has not been completed, a U.S.-based broadcast and video facilities company has received a license to operate on the island and to contract with a Cuban state enterprise.
HAVANA — The sweet smell of fermenting fruit fills the streets around the modest Havana home where Orestes Estevez and his family fill glass jugs with grapes, ginger and hibiscus, then slip a condom over each glass neck to start the unusual process of winemaking in a land famed for rum.
TOURISTS whizz along the Malecón, Havana’s grand seaside boulevard, in bright-red open-topped 1950s cars. Their selfie sticks wobble as they try to film themselves. They move fast, for there are no traffic jams. Cars are costly in Cuba ($50,000 for a low-range Chinese import) and most people are poor (a typical state employee makes $25 a month). So hardly anyone can afford wheels, except the tourists who hire them. And there are far fewer tourists than there ought to be.
Bolivian President Evo Morales underwent successful throat surgery in Cuba and must rest his voice for about a week, a government official said Saturday.
Cuba may still be under embargo with little access to the internet, but that technology deficit hasn’t stopped some of the country’s artists from venturing into computer animation.
March 2017
YOU CAN’T VISIT Cuba and not hear reggaetón. The eclectic mix of salsa, hip-hop and electronica blasts from shops, cars and bike taxis. And despite government censorship and limited internet access, the genre exploded in popularity thanks to “el paquete,” a grassroots distribution system that relies on nothing more than hard drives, thumb drives, and old-fashioned hand delivery.
LA PAZ, March 28 (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Tuesday he is returning to Cuba to have a small nodule in his vocal cords removed, in what would be the socialist leader's second trip to the communist-ruled nation for medical attention this month.
HAVANA (AP) — Fidel Castro's government sent the Rev. Juan Francisco Naranjo to two years of work camp in the 1960s for preaching the Gospel in a Cuba where atheism was law and the faithful were viewed as suspect. For years, Naranjo's church was almost abandoned, with just a handful of people daring to attend services.
LA HABANA /MIAMI--Cuba es el país en el que más negativas recibieron quienes aspiraban a viajar a EE UU en los últimos dos años. En medio de una abrupta caída en otorgamiento de visas bajo la administración de Barack Obama, el Departamento de Estado rechazó el 76% de las solicitudes de viajes hechos por ciudadanos cubanos en el año fiscal 2015, según cifras divulgadas por la prensa estadounidense.
NORBERTO MESA, a 66-year-old grandfather, stands in the hot sun 11 hours a day, six days a week, guiding cars in and out of the parking spaces in front of a bustling farm stand. The 4,000 Cuban pesos ($170 at the official exchange rate) he earns each month in tips is more than ten times his monthly old-age pension of 340 pesos. Without it, the retired animal geneticist could not afford fruit and meat, or help his children, who work for low salaries, to feed his four grandchildren.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has again called on the federal government to have Cuba return a woman convicted in the murder of a state trooper.
Havana (AFP) - Cuban President Raul Castro's son, Alejandro, was the communist island's envoy for secret negotiations with the United States that led to the countries' historic rapprochement, a cardinal close to the talks said.
The showdown in Congress over House Republicans’ healthcare bill might have nothing to do with Raúl Castro — if it weren’t for Miami.
The tourists are still jamming Havana’s Cathedral Square and jostling to get into the popular private restaurants. But not too much is going right with the rest of the economy, and in the last year of his presidency, Raúl Castro faces a variety of economic challenges — that he may or may not take on.
WASHINGTON — A rare poll of Cuban public opinion has found that most of the island’s citizens approve of normal relations with the United States and large majorities want more tourists to visit and the expansion of private business ownership.
After a two-month pilot program, Cubans now can access the internet in the comfort of their own homes — but prices are high and speeds painfully slow.
After saying he was generally supportive of Barack Obama’s Cuba policy during the Republican primaries, by the time of the US election Donald Trump had changed his tune and promised he would roll back the Obama-era opening to the island.
A Cuban film based on repression against homosexual writers in the early years of the Revolution, which was recently shown at the Miami Film Festival, has been banned from an awards competition for an upcoming festival in New York.
HAVANA — Cuba has offered Colombia 1,000 medical school scholarships to support a peace accord in which the South American country’s largest rebel army will relinquish its weapons, officials announced on Thursday.
The prosecution’s smuggling case against sports agent Bart Hernandez and baseball trainer Julio Estrada was like an overblown movie trailer foreshadowing dark and dramatic subterfuge in a plot to bring Cuban ballplayers off the island and onto Major League Baseball rosters, defense lawyers argued as the trial closed Tuesday.
HAVANA — The Cuban government is trying to reboot its Soviet-era style news programming with a high-definition current affairs channel staffed by young journalists.
Two U.S. airlines are pulling out of Cuba, ending service to the nation only about six months after regular passenger flights resumed for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Havana was exploding in yanqui frenzy. Seven hundred Americans streamed across its streets one steamy May 2016 morning on an expedition of rediscovery. They were the first to arrive via sea since John F. Kennedy was president.
An elderly Cuban couple is expected to remain in detention while a judge who presided over their asylum hearing Friday makes a final determination on their fate.
Swiss firm Nestle is close to reaching a deal with Cuba on forming a new joint venture to build a $50-million to $60-million factory to produce coffee, biscuits and cooking products, company Vice President Laurent Freixe said on Wednesday in Havana.
Cuba's tobacco farmers are celebrating a bumper crop after two bad years that coincided with a boom in demand set off by a surge of tourists and looser U.S. rules on cigar-buying.
Score another kill for the Cuban military dictatorship: Last month it eliminated Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández, an inmate of one of its most notoriously brutal prisons.
Cuban President Raul Castro harshly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration, trade and other policies on Sunday as Trump reviews a fragile detente with Communist-run Cuba begun by his predecessor Barack Obama.
Although Cuba sits in close proximity to Caribbean drug lanes and the U.S. market, the U.S. State Department’s annual narcotics control report found that it’s not a major consumer, producer or transit point for illegal narcotics, and drug consumption on the island remains low.
In Havana’s iconic Bacardí building, teams of computer programmers are working for U.S. companies with the tacit permission of the Cuban government.
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – In a Boulder office, Cuban entrepreneurs are planning a technology revolution in their country.
Cuban entrepreneur Liber Puente is working on a master’s thesis about communication among “non-traditional friends,” so what better place for some research than Miami.
No matter how much you warn visitors to Cuba that they'll be offline during their stay, they often won't believe it until they actually arrive in Havana.
Hundreds of U.S. forces are rehearsing a migrant crisis this week at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a massive multimillion dollar drill that envisions the United States capturing huge numbers of people in the Caribbean bound for the United States — and how the military, State Department and Homeland Security would collaborate on handling it.
February 2017
A group of exile organizations and volunteers are trying to help hundreds of Cubans who are stranded in Mexico following the end of the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy on Jan. 12.
American travelers checking into Cuban hotels and dining at Havana’s more upscale private restaurants since the U.S. rapprochement with Cuba have experienced more than a bit of sticker shock.
Communist-ruled Cuba on Wednesday said it had foiled a serious plot aiming to destabilize the country by preventing the chief of the Organization of American States traveling to the island to attend an award ceremony organized by dissidents.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and nowhere is that more true than in Cuba, where tech startups are popping up across the island nation despite very low internet connectivity. That intrepidness is on display with the visit of some young high-tech entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley. Jessica Aguirre reports.
Cuban President Raul Castro made it clear to a visiting U.S. congressional delegation that his country was intent on pursuing market reform and detente with the United States, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy told a news conference on Wednesday.
A year from now — on February 24 — something is expected to occur in Cuba that hasn’t happened in more than 40 years: a non-Castro will occupy the presidency.
The Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro said Wednesday that the Cuban government denied him permission to enter the island to receive a human rights prize created to honor late dissident Oswaldo Paya.
America, did you miss the travel industry's memo declaring Cuba the hottest new destination?
When Adrian Lezcano Rodriguez, a physical therapist from Cuba, was chosen to serve on a "mission" in the small town of Maroa in the Amazon rainforest of Venezuela, he knew he would defect. He would make his way to the U.S. embassy in Colombia, and apply for the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP), which up until January 12, allowed certain Cuban medical personnel to apply for U.S. visas.
One of Donald Trump's most enduring, unchallenged fictions is the idea that Cuban-Americans adore him. He repeats the lie all the time. During the election season, Trump flew into Miami, made a pit stop at Versailles, and earned some cheers after promising Cuban immigrants he would crack down on the Castro regime. Ever since that visit, he has claimed he's beloved in Miami's Cuban community.
Humanitarian shipments, frozen chicken parts, chocolate bars, empty beer kegs from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, medicine, even a traveling Bible exhibit.
Havana (AFP) - More than 680 Cubans have been deported back to Cuba since the United States ended its decades-old policy giving them preferred immigrant status in January, state media reported Saturday.
President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his intent to nominate Alexander Acosta, a former Justice Department official and current dean of Florida International University College of Law, for labor secretary, just a day after his first pick, fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, backed out.
For some of the U.S.-bound Cuban migrants who are now at the Siglo XXI detention center in the far southwest Mexican city of Tapachula — and their relatives in the United States — a journey once filled with hope is now overflowing with anguish.
From buses and trucks to a $500 million golf resort, China is deepening its business footprint in Cuba, helping the fellow Communist-run state survive a crisis in oil-benefactor Venezuela and insulate against a possible rollback of U.S. detente.
A joint venture between the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York and the Center for Molecular Immunology in Havana could open its doors to new U.S. investors as early as April.
At this time last year, U.S. airlines were developing ambitious growth plans for Cuba after it became legal to offer scheduled service to the Caribbean island nation for the first time in more than half a century. As the top airlines in South Florida, American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) and JetBlue Airways(NASDAQ:JBLU) had the most ambitious plans for flying to Cuba.
MIAMI (AP) — Cuban-American lawmakers from Florida helped shape U.S. relations with the island for years until they found themselves on the outside during a historic thaw in relations.
HAVANA – While President Donald Trump's Cuba policy remains in flux, Cubans on the island have mixed feelings about whether the "wet foot/dry foot" policy that governed U.S./Cuba relations since 1995 should be reinstated.
MEXICO CITY — Cuba is giving parental leave to the grandparents of newborns, the country's latest attempt to reverse its sagging birthrate and defuse a demographic time bomb.
Cuba’s healthcare system is a source of pride for its communist government. The country has well-trained, capable doctors, the sector has become an important export earner and gives Cuba valuable soft power – yet the real picture is less rosy. A lot of health infrastructure is deteriorating and there is a de facto two-tier system that favors those with money.
Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels said Tuesday that it plans to open a five-star hotel this spring in the Old Havana section of the Cuban capital, giving Havana a luxury offering that has been missing from its hotel mix.
Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels said Tuesday that it plans to open a five-star hotel this spring in the Old Havana section of the Cuban capital, giving Havana a luxury offering that has been missing from its hotel mix.
Soon after the feds broke up a family-run chain of clinics that tried to steal $130 million from Miami-Dade Public Schools and a string of major U.S. companies, a trio of Cuban immigrants fled to Mexico and eventually back home to the island.
Norwegian Cruise Line will offer weekly cruises to Cuba through at least December.
In his last month in office, former President Barack Obama preempted what could have been one of President Donald Trump’s first actions on Cuba: he suspended a section of the Helms-Burton Act that allows former owners of commercial property expropriated by Cuba to sue foreign companies “trafficking” in those confiscated holdings.
Two dozen Cuban health professionals who deserted from medical missions abroad arrived in Miami Monday afternoon on a flight from Colombia.
The governor of Colorado said on Sunday he believes the Cuban government wants to further improve relations with the United States under President Donald Trump, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the Communist-run island nation.
Last week, the newly inaugurated Trump administration warned it was in the middle of a "full review" of U.S. policy toward Cuba—prompting new questions about how committed President Donald Trump will be to the political and cultural thaw began under his predecessor.
President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be the next Agriculture secretary, transition officials have informed POLITICO, making a pick that’s likely to please farm groups while angering those who have called for more diversity in his Cabinet.
WASHINGTON — Pat Wallesen, a partner with WestStar Food Co. in Corpus Christi, Texas, is the guy many North Dakota bean and pulse companies go to when they have products to be exported. Most of the beans Wallesen has shipped to Cuba in the past have come from North Dakota.

In Cuba, app stores pay rent

February 2, 2017

CUBANS, like citizens of most countries in the digital age, are familiar with app stores. But theirs have actual doors, windows and counters. Los Doctores del Celular, a mobile-phone repair shop a few blocks from Havana’s Malecón seaside promenade, is one example. Inside, a Super Mario effigy, kitted out with lab coat and stethoscope, keeps vigil while technicians transfer apps to customers’ smartphones via USB cables attached to the shop’s computers. Although the United States’ embargo on Cuba makes it hard to buy apps and other services online, “Cubans are quickly picking up on app culture,” says Jorge-Luis Roque, a technician. A bundle of 60-70 apps costs $5-10. Customers delete the ones they don’t want. The bricks-and-mortar app store is an ingenious Cuban response to digital deprivation. The island has some 300 public Wi-Fi hotspots, up from none two years ago. But connections are slow and, especially by Cuban standards, expensive; they normally cost $1.50 an hour. Adhering to the American embargo, app publishers like Apple and Google block downloads in Cuba. Music lovers can browse the iTunes store, but cannot buy songs or apps; Cubans can get the free apps on Google Play, but not the ones that cost money.
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – Scores of Cubans meet every day at the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge in Nuevo Laredo on the U.S. border after an odyssey through 10 countries, never knowing if they would achieve their dream of entering the United States, but with the conviction that returning to the island is "not an option."
HAVANA (AP) — Cuban men have won more Olympic boxing medals than fighters from any other country. Now a group of up-and-coming female boxers on the island have their eyes on the gold.
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Cuba-focused Melbana Energy said it more the doubled its reserve estimates for onshore oil, though recovery rates there are low so far.
January 2017
Following on the heels of last's week threatened retaliation against Florida ports that sign agreements with Cuba, Gov. Rick Scott has tucked another anti-Cuba provision into his proposed state budget that is even more far-reaching.
Amid court orders and airport demonstrations against a presidential order banning entry into the United States of citizens of seven Muslim nations, another aspect of President Donald Trump’s immigration order has been overshadowed: It suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions program for all nations for 120 days.
U.S. airlines began lobbying Washington on Cuba last year as they fought to win commercial flight routes to the island nation for the first time in 50 years.

Trump's Cuba Opportunity

January 30, 2017

Waiting for change in Cuba

January 30, 2017

When I took up my assignment as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana in 2011, my biggest question was how had Cuba survived as one of the world’s last remaining Marxist Leninist systems? Strong and sometimes brutal internal controls were important, but in my experience, not sufficient.
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA--Since 2003, Cuba has been sending battalions of doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cash and crude.

Cuba in the Age of Trump

January 26, 2017

On August 31st, 2016, the first commercial flight directly from the United States to Cuba touched down on the once-forbidden island's soil. It was a tangible result of nearly three years of efforts from the Obama administration to ease 58 years of tension between the U.S. and Cuba by relaxing trade and travel restrictions, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and taking the island nation off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror.
A Miami-based auto company has received the green light to ship American-made electric cars to Cuba, following an effort by former President Obama to restore diplomatic relations with the island nation.
A high-level Cuban business delegation toured Port Everglades and met with port officials Thursday, although the planned highlight — the signing of a cooperation pact — was canceled after Gov. Rick Scott threatened to cut off state funding to any port that entered into an agreement with Cuba.
Cuban President Raul Castro on Wednesday said Cuba hoped to continue to normalize relations with the United States, but made clear the Trump administration should not expect concessions affecting the country’s sovereignty.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott threatened Wednesday to strip state funds from two South Florida seaports ready to sign business deals with the Cuban government.
The attorney President Donald Trump has chosen to lead his administration’s most sensitive negotiations between the US and Cuba leads a set of nonprofits supporting stronger ties between the countries — a position at odds with Trump campaign statements.
The first Cuban exports since the embargo went into effect over a half century ago arrived at Port Everglades Tuesday as port officials prepared to receive a business delegation from Cuba later in the week.
When Washington put an end to a preferential immigration policy for Cuban migrants nearly two weeks ago, the official reasoning behind the move was to stem the flow of an increasing exodus and prompt democratic changes on the island.
The second half of the Bronx Museum of the Arts’s long-planned exchange of artworks with the National Museum of Fine Arts in Cuba will not take place as expected, after Cuban officials declined to allow works to travel to the United States, the Bronx museum’s executive director, Holly Block, said.
HAVANA - Cuban authorities freed artist Danilo Maldonado on Saturday. The Cuban government had been holding the artist known as "El Sexto" since Nov. 26.
Stranded on islands, jungles and border cities, thousands of Cubans are having trouble getting over the unexpected Obama administration decision that is blocking their access to the American dream — for which many sold their meager belongings in Cuba.
Hundreds of Cuban medical professionals waiting in third countries for permission to emigrate to the United States got a reprieve Thursday with a new announcement by the Obama administration: paperwork submitted prior to the official end of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program will be processed. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated aspects of the new immigration policy toward Cuba and now says it will process pending applications to the parole program known by the acronym CMPP — provided paperwork was submitted before 5 p.m. Jan. 12, the official end to the program.
The sudden decision to cancel the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program (CMPP) and eliminate the “wet foot, dry foot” policy has left thousands of Cubans in transit or with pending applications in a limbo.
A prominent graffiti artist in Cuba who was jailed the day after Fidel Castro died for actions that appeared to celebrate the late Cuban leader’s passing, reportedly will be released on Jan. 28, his girlfriend told FoxNews.com
The United States, Mexico and Cuba aim to sign an agreement determining territorial water limits before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20, three diplomatic officials familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Senior Cuban negotiators say the island will not be cowed by intimidation and bluster from Donald Trump, despite the incoming US president’s threat to rekindle cold war animosities.
HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. organizations that have worked closely with the outgoing Obama administration to improve relations with Cuba on Tuesday released a four-page letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him not to act rashly toward the Communist-run nation.
Washington, D.C. - The Cuba Study Group and 17 other organizations and individuals today released a letter addressed to the incoming Trump administration. The document urges the president-elect to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of progress made in U.S.-Cuba relations, believing that such an analysis would confirm that constructive engagement is the best strategy for supporting the Cuban people and boosting U.S. jobs and exports. The letter highlights many of the gains already derived from engaging with the Cuban government, including employing thousands of U.S. workers, allowing Cuban-Americans to directly support their Cuban relatives on the island, providing critical funding for the country’s nascent private sector, and granting the Cuban population greater access to information via the internet. The document also postulates that disengagement could expose the U.S. to unnecessary risks to its national security, border security, and interest in protecting the human rights of Cuban citizens. Moreover, it would destroy the good will given by the global community, especially in Latin America, for U.S. efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. Lastly, the memo states that engagement would provide additional advantages as the U.S. seeks the resolution of nearly 6,000 certified claim for expropriated property, as well as when President Raúl Castro relinquishes power in 2018. The letter was co-signed by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas; U.S.-Cuba Business Council; The Center for Democracy in the Americas; Ted Piccone (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution); Richard E. Feinberg, Professor (UC San Diego and Senior Fellow [non-resident], The Brookings Institution); William M. Leogrande (Professor of Government, American University); Engage Cuba; Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA); Latin America Working Group; National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC); Christopher Sabatini (Executive Director, Global Americans and Lecturer, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs); The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA); National Tour Association (NTA); United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA); TechFreedom; NAFSA: Association of International Educators; and The American Society of Travel Agents. The letter can be found at the following link: http://www.cubastudygroup.org/index.cfm?p=memo-to-president-trump-and-his-incoming-administration-u-s-policy-toward-cuba-the-case-for-engagement .
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has agreed to drop legal proceedings against longtime pro-Cuba activist Albert A. Fox Jr. in exchange for a fine of $10,000.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Departmentsigned a new agreement on law enforcement cooperation with Cuba on Monday, seeking to further deepen ties with the communist island just four days before the end of the Obama administration.
The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce met with Cuban President Raul Castro and in separate meetings with members of Castro's economic cabinet on Friday, as they prepare for the advent of a more hostile Trump administration next week.
MIAMI — They were some of the most feared people in South Florida, men who became cinematic fodder and, long before Donald J. Trump uttered the term “bad hombres,” ones who really did give some immigrants a bad name.
For all the bluster Miami’s Cuban-American Republicans in Congress delivered after President Barack Obama’s stunning decision Thursday to dispose of a decades-old U.S. policy favoring Cuban immigrants, the likelihood of President-elect Donald Trump reversing the decision seems almost nonexistent.
Two separate delegations with representatives from the United States and Cuba will meet in Washington and Havana to discuss human trafficking and confiscated property claims.
The Obama administration is rescinding a 20-year-old policy, known as "wet foot, dry foot," that gave special immigration privileges to Cubans who reach the United States, the White House announced on Thursday.
The wait in the line to exchange money at the Havana airport can stretch on for hours, reservations are a must at popular private Cuban restaurants and tangerine and hot-pink-colored vintage cars ferrying visitors crowd the streets around the most frequented tourist destinations.
Rex Tillerson would advise the president to veto any legislation codifying President Obama’s thaw with Cuba, at least until the Trump administration can conduct its own review of the policy.
HAVANA, Cuba—Cuba’s private-business owners, having profited from a growing flow of funds and tourists from the U.S. under the Obama administration, are facing uncertainty the influx—and their hard-won gains—will continue.
WASHINGTON--To Marcos Kerbel, knowing that a devout Jew will have the ear of the president-elect of the United States to help shape Cuba policy is an encouraging sign.
Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as they rush to conclude deals before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
Saul Berenthal was to become the first Cuban American investor on the island with a plan to assemble tractors to help small farmers. But his full embrace of his Cuban roots backfired.
Opponents of President Obama’s opening to Cuba have taken full advantage of the fact-free character of recent political debate in the United States to spread a variety of myths aimed at discrediting Obama’s Cuba policy and convincing President Trump to reverse it. Here are eight of them:
WASHINGTON--Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States needed to deepen its ties with Cuba if it truly wanted to help the Cuban people and advance U.S. interests.
Artisanal charcoal will become the first legal Cuban export to the United States in decades under a deal announced Thursday between Cuba's government and the former lawyer for imprisoned U.S. government contractor Alan Gross.
Five former U.S. diplomats with extensive experience in Latin America sent President-elect Donald Trump a letter this week urging him to rescind the executive actions signed by President Barack Obama relaxing sanctions against Cuba and to stop cooperating with Cuban state security.
The Obama Administration has said that trade with Cuba could reach up to $6 billion under its new policies, but U.S. companies in fact exported barely $380 million worth of goods to the island since the beginning of the thaw in bilateral relations two years ago.
The Cuban modern dance troupe Malpaso has lived a kind of dizzying artistic fairy tale since relations between the United States and Cuba opened up two years ago. They’ve worked with top U.S. choreographers and performed at the most prestigious venues in this country, receiving mostly glowing reviews. They’re sponsored by the Joyce Theater Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the famed New York theater — an enviable position for any ensemble.
As Cuba slowly opens up its economy to the rest of the world, more and more Cubans are learning English. The Cuban government has made proficiency in English a requirement for all high school and university students. As Will Grant reports from Havana, that approach differs from the Cold War, when Russian was the preferred foreign language.
The Abakuá is an all-male, Afro-Cuban secret society that originated in Nigeria and gained traction in 19th-century Cuba, where African slaves would covertly participate in the mysterious rites and rituals as means of protection and forging community.
The Coast Guard found 29 migrants at sea this week and repatriated them to Cuba.
Cuban troops and hundreds of thousands of citizens have paraded through Revolution Square in the capital in a traditional show of strength.
The Coast Guard found 29 migrants at sea this week and repatriated them to Cuba.
December 2016
MIAMI - Venezuela's economic collapse continues to weaken Cuba's economy.
Cuba's economy shrank 0.9 percent this year in tandem with the crisis in key trading partner Venezuela, President Raul Castro told the National Assembly on Tuesday in a closed-door speech, predicting a slightly brighter outlook for 2017.
The first time a pope ever set foot in Cuba was in 1998, when John Paul II traveled to the Communist state. The visit was the result of a thaw between the Vatican and Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, who banned religion in 1959 when he seized power. Cuba’s majority-Catholic population welcomed the pontiff with great excitement; several hundred thousand people, including Castro, attended the Mass led by the pope in Havana. Meanwhile, a small number of other Cubans drew their own conclusion from the regime’s growing tolerance of religion: Perhaps soon the state would increasingly accept Islam too.
HAVANA, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Cuba’s National Assembly approved a law on Tuesday that bans commemorative statues of Fidel Castro and naming public places after him, in accordance with the wishes of the revolutionary leader, who died last month.
Alex Romero was delighted when President Barack Obama came to Havana in March bearing the promise of a bright new future.
The Associated Press is returning its Caribbean base of operations to Cuba.
MIAMI - Florida Gov. Rick Scott drafted a letter Tuesday to Cuban leader Raul Castro, urging him to bring freedom and democracy to the neighboring island nation.
Two years ago today, President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba would begin normalizing relations after nearly six decades of hostility.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA--Cuban rum and cigars seem to have become the souvenir of choice for U.S. visitors to the island.
President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in March 2016 drove excitement for businesses considering the market that the island could become. The move made it possible to imagine an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba (which remains firmly in place) and a consequently sharp improvement in Cuba’s economic conditions.
The Cuban government has announced a two-month trial scheme to allow internet access in private homes.
Did Donald Trump win in Florida because of Barack Obama’s decision to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba?
WASHINGTON--One of the most significant effects of the U.S. détente with Cuba had less to do with relations between the two countries than with helping stop the “pink tide” that was pulsing through Latin America.
An American human rights lawyer representing an imprisoned Cuban artist was arrested in Havana on Friday, according to the Human Rights Foundation.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government said it held an outreach session with its counterparts in Cuba to discuss ways to collaborate on clean and renewable energy.
"After the election, all of a sudden the Cuban side has seen that they ought to do their part to make this opening irreversible, and they are trying to sign deals that had been languishing," said Geoff Thale, program director of the Washington Office on Latin America. "We're going to see a number of agreements on the commercial side between now and Jan. 20."
According to authorities in the Czech Republic, the government of Cuba has proposed resolving a Cold War-era debt by paying the Czechs in a treasured Cuban commodity: rum.
As Cubans adjust to life without revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, they are also trying to get their minds around what the election of another world leader — President-elect Donald Trump — might mean for their lives and the future of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement.
President Barack Obama will make his case directly to President-elect Donald Trump not to derail the recent U.S.-Cuba detente, the White House said on Tuesday, insisting that "turning back the clock" would be damaging to American interests and the Cuban people.
CIENFUEGOS, Cuba—Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez proclaimed a decade ago that they presided over a single country, combining Cuba’s educated workforce with Venezuela’s oil wealth to challenge U.S. power across Latin America.
After more than half a century’s absence, Hollywood returned to Cuba in 2013, though in a slightly roundabout way. “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba,” a film about the American writer, was shot on the island as a Cuban-Canadian-U.S. co-production, requiring elaborate permissions from both Washington and Havana.
The trickle of Cuban baseball players filtering into the majors has grown into a torrent, with their numbers increasing to an all-time high of 30 last season.

Cuba, in Clothes

December 13, 2016

Deep in Bauta, a sleepy Cuban town 17 miles southwest of Havana, past rows of billboards painted with portraits of national heroes and narrow streets lined with colorful Spanish colonial houses, sits an abandoned factory on a plot of lush, overgrown farmland.
Google and the Cuban government signed a deal Monday allowing the internet giant to provide faster access to its data by installing servers on the island that will store much of the company's most popular content.
BRUSSELS—The European Union and Cuba signed an agreement Monday normalizing ties, ending years of friction between the two over Cuba’s human-rights record and opening the way for broader economic and trade relations.
An alliance of powerful anti-embargo Cuban-American businessmen frayed earlier this year after its prominent chairman, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, returned from Cuba with a simple request: work more closely with Raúl Castro’s communist government.
Google is planning to expand its services in Cuba through a deal with the island’s government, according to a person familiar with the matter.
HAVANA — For Lisset Felipe, privation is a standard facet of Cuban life, a struggle shared by nearly all, whether they’re enduring blackouts or hunting for toilet paper.
Havana Harbor is getting crowded for 2017.
Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers joined Cuban entrepreneurs on Wednesday to urge President-elect Donald Trump to continue President Barack Obama’s engagement with Havana, despite Trump’s threat to end detente with the island.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. won Cuban government approval to begin sailing to the island, one of the most hotly anticipated new travel destinations for the industry.
As US airlines ramp up the number of daily flights to Cuba and consumer demand to visit the once off-limits island balloons, some tourists and travel industry insiders fear that the next administration in the White House could slam the door on the newly opened Cuban travel market.
MELBOURNE, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A Cuban-focused oil company said it was taking a closer look at the business climate there with the goal of accelerating its drilling program next year.
Cuba and the United States will draw up a roadmap for deepening their detente on Wednesday in a first meeting since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and the death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA--Invited world leaders and tens of thousands of Cubans flocked to the Plaza Antonio Maceo for a final farewell to Fidel Castro on Saturday night, the eve of his internment at Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.
One of Cuba’s most prominent anti-Castro artists is refusing to eat food served by his jailers, alleging that they have laced it with pills that induce drowsiness, those close to him say.
Alarmed by signs that its fragile relationship with the United States might fall apart under President-elect Donald Trump, the Cuban government is quietly reaching out to its contacts in the United States to determine how best to protect the communist regime’s tenuous diplomatic position.
Fidel Castro’s ashes were laid to rest on Sunday, capping nine days of official mourning when hundreds of thousands of Cubans said farewell with a combination of tears, Castro-like defiance and choruses of “I am Fidel!”
Fidel Castro's passing marks the end of an era that divided and separated the Cuban people. His death is deeply personal -- both for Cuban exiles in the United States and for Cubans on the island. Supporting policies that promote continued engagement between the United States and Cuba becomes even more important now.
After over a decade of tense relations between the United States and Cuba, recent changes have allowed for somewhat of a thawing – and an increase in travel between the nations, including the first commercial flights since the late Fidel Castro took over.
November 2016
Feted by cheering Cubans, a funeral cortege carried the ashes of Fidel Castro out of Havana on Wednesday on a three-day journey to his final resting place in the east of the island where he launched the Cuban Revolution six decades ago.
The death of longtime Cuban ruler Fidel Castro has spawned many questions about future leaders and the direction of the communist country.
WASHINGTON— General Electric Co. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit are among firms U.S. officials believe will secure agreements to operate in Cuba as the Obama administration presses Havana to complete pending deals before Donald Trump takes office, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The U.S. won’t send a formal delegation to Fidel Castro’s memorial in Cuba. But two representatives will attend, the White House said Tuesday.

Threatening Cuba Will Backfire

November 29, 2016

As Cubans continued either to mourn or to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro, President-elect Donald Trump issued a vague ultimatum to the Cuban government on Monday. “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
Is a Cuba without one Castro a more open place for artists? Before anyone could get the question out this weekend, Cuba was already answering.
Leaders and dignitaries from around the world were due to arrive in Cuba on Tuesday as part of the Caribbean nation's week-long farewell to Fidel Castro, the revolutionary icon and president who died last week aged 90.
The death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro has investors starting to salivate about the possibility of big U.S. companies soon being able to do a lot more business in Cuba.
Donald Trump says he will end the thaw between the US and Cuba if the country does not offer a "better deal".
In another milestone in improving air service between the United States and Cuba, an American Airlines 737 took off Monday morning on the first regularly scheduled flight between Miami and the Cuban capital in more than half a century.
In the wake of Fidel Castro's death all eyes are on what the future holdsfor the Cuban economy. The hope is another revolution will be sparked: a push by the populace for a more open market economy. President Obama's agreement to normalize relations with the communist island nation has proved to be a catalyst for change. It remains to be seen if the Trump administration will continue to maintain detente with Cuba, or reverse course.
With his legacy in mind, President Obama has used the final months of his administration trying to ensure that his historic reopening of U.S. relations with Cuba could not be easily reversed.
Cuba's most prominent dissident group has called off its traditional protest for the first time in 13 years following the death of the country's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
As the world takes in the news that Fidel Castro has died, many people are asking what will happen next in one of the last remaining Communist countries.
Fidel Castro, Cuba's former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, his brother has said.
Miami, FL - The Cuba Study Group today issued the following statement following news of the death of Fidel Castro:

“With the passing of Fidel Castro, Cuba is presented with an opportunity for all Cubans to work together to achieve a free and inclusive society. We pray that Cubans both on and outside the island find a peaceful path toward the reconciliation and reunification of the Cuban nation.”
More than 99.5% of Cuban children attend an early childhood education programme or institution. Kary Stewart visits Havana to speak to families, doctors and teachers about a Latin American success story
One of Cuba's most prominent human rights activists is in the U.S. to push for a halt or suspension of U.S.-Cuba trade and investment changes that he and other leaders say are enriching and empowering the Castro regime.
Delta Air Lines, which plans to resume regularly scheduled flights to Cuba on Dec. 1, has opened an office in Havana and is already selling tickets.
MIAMI — A powerful coalition of U.S. companies is preparing to appeal to President-elect Donald Trump's business instincts and drop his vow to reverse one of President Obama's signature achievements: renewed relations with Cuba.
In the small Burner Brothers Bakery in downtown Havana, an engineer decorates cookies while a lawyer ices a cake. The co-owner of the bakery, Sandra Camacho Rodríguez, a dentist, greets customers.
HAVANA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a group of Cuban students today that he won’t change Canada’s stance on Cuba, even though his views are at odds with the man set to lead Canada’s biggest trading partner.
MIAMI — To Chad Olin, it seemed like the perfect opportunity: Decades of animosity between the United States and Cuba were peeling away, opening a final frontier in the Caribbean to dollar-wielding Americans.
The policy of rapprochement with Cuba promoted by the Obama administration has sparked a frenzy in U.S. companies rushing to register their brands on the island.
The headline greeting Cubans the morning after Donald Trump won the US election sounded alarming.
President-elect Donald Trump has said “concessions” the Obama administration made to Cuba can easily be reversed and that he will unravel them unless U.S. demands are met, but some of the commercial initiatives may be a bit harder to undo than merely signing an executive order.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Cuba next week to strengthen ties and boost trade, four decades after his father made a historic visit to the Communist-ruled island and struck up a friendship with revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
The Cuban government has announced it will hold five days of nationwide military exercises to prepare for "a range of enemy action".
MELBOURNE, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A company formerly known as MEO Australia said it would start trading under a name that better reflects its focus on emerging Cuban oil and gas developments.
Since the mid-1970s when he was a graduate student in international economics, Richard Feinberg, now a professor at the University of California San Diego, has been fascinated by the challenges of reforming centralized economies.
When the U.S. and Cuba normalized relations two years ago, hope sprang eternal that Americans could now do business on the island. But we got another reminder this week that it may also require eternal patience.
JetBlue Airways on Thursday will launch its second nonstop regular route between Fort Lauderdale and Cuba.
In growing numbers Americans are invading Havana's Malecon — jogging, strolling and dancing to rumba buskers as waves pound the seawall. Cohibas clenched in teeth, they're toting away bottles of Havana Club rum, filling up Airbnb rooms and flying back to the states on JetBlue. U.S. hotel chains are planting stakes, as trade missions staffed by politicians and businesspeople stream in and out.
This year’s Cuba trade fair is the largest ever, with 73 countries and 3,500 exhibitors present.

Shore Up Security at Sea

November 1, 2016

The United States has long waited for – and sometimes actively aspired to – regime change in Cuba. For nearly 60 years, the United States has opposed the Castro regime's misrule at home and support of communist insurgents and dictatorships abroad. Cuba's alliances with the now-defunct U.S.S.R., and more recently with Venezuela, added to the United States' distaste for the regime.
HAVANA--Despite the Obama administration's efforts to build a new business relationship with Cuba, U.S. companies were far from center stage at the 34th Havana International Fair.
HAVANA - For a while Saul Berenthal and Horace Clemmons were the 70-something poster boys of U.S.-Cuba detente.
Walk along the leafy boulevard of el Prado in Old Havana and you'll find it hard to escape the sounds of construction.
October 2016
South Korea and Cuba discussed ways to boost bilateral ties Monday, holding their first economic cooperation dialogue in 57 years.
For sale: www.cuba.com.
Travelers will soon be able to book accommodations to Cuba through TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel websites. It’s the latest development in an American travel industry that is slowly expanding tourism to the Communist nation.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first clinical trial to test a Cuban drug in the United States — a lung-cancer vaccine developed in Havana.

More oil likely in Cuba

October 27, 2016

MELBOURNE, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- MEO Australia, the only Australian company with a footprint in Cuba, said ongoing work is expected to translate to more potential oil reserves in the country.
Cuba's former president Fidel Castro met with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Havana on Wednesday.
Cuba reportó un aumento en el número de usuarios con acceso a internet en el 2015, y la cifra roza los 4 millones.
UNITED NATIONS — Making a bit of history, the United States abstained for the first time Wednesday in an annual General Assembly condemnation of the half-century-old American trade embargo against Cuba.
HAVANA – Cuban and French officials on Wednesday held an initial meeting in this capital to define potential investment projects French companies could carry out on the Communist-ruled island.
While much of the western world now takes access to high-speed internet for granted, Cuba has only recently made the web accessible for the majority of its citizens via public Wi-Fi hotspots. The Cuban game development scene has as such been pretty non-existent until now—something Empty Head Games is aiming to change with its debut project Savior.
When Dr. C. William Keck sat down to write an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, imploring Congress to end the United States’ Cuba embargo so that Cuban and American researchers could better collaborate, he had no idea that the U.S. Treasury Department’s lift of sanctions was just days away.
WASHINGTON--Despite the improved ties between the United States and Cuba, the United Nations is expected to again condemn the American trade embargo against the communist island.
Donald Trump criticized the Obama administration's move to normalize relations withCuba as a "very weak agreement," though he said some sort of a deal is "fine," in an interview with a local CBS station in Miami over the weekend.
You might assume that with the thawing of relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cubans would see positive change at home, and less reason to attempt the perilous water crossing to Florida. You'd assume wrong.
WASHINGTON – The Democratic candidate for vice president, Sen. Tim Kaine, said Saturday in an interview with EFE that relations with Cuba, resumed under the Barack Obama government, may progress faster or slower but "never go back" to what they were.
WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama’s new 12-page directive on trade and travel to Cuba, widely heralded for its elimination of limits on Americans’ purchases of cigars and rum, contains a largely unnoticed provision that has alarmed Cuban-Americans in South Florida.
A restaurant franchisor or a U.S. distributor of tires could negotiate a future contract in Cuba. A U.S. engineering or architecture firm could work on a public transportation project or new Cuban hospital. An American traveler to Cuba can load up on premium cigars and bottles of high-end Santiago or Havana Club rum.
When Cuba opened up to U.S. airlines earlier this year, nearly all rushed in with requests to add new service to the island. Against that enthusiasm, however, some industry executives openly wondered whether demand would live up to the hype.
With just under 100 days remaining in office, President Obama has launched a final offensive to assure that his administration’s effort to normalize relations with Cuba will outlast his presidency and be recorded as one of the most dramatic breakthroughs in the annals of US foreign policy. With great fanfare, on October 14 Obama issued a comprehensive directive as well as new regulations to further normalize relations and nullify key aspects of the 55-year-old economic embargo that, to date, the Republican-controlled Congress has refused to lift. Most importantly, the new presidential directive mandates positive engagement, as opposed to perpetual hostility, as the modus operandi of future US policy toward Cuba.
If the old real estate adage holds true — it's all about location, location, location — then about 100 miles off the tip of Florida, it's boom time. The real estate market in Havana, Cuba, is roaring.
President Barack Obama’s recent directive to make his friendlier policies toward Cuba “irreversible” got applause from many interested parties and travelers — particularly with the end of limits on the amount of Cuban cigars and rum visitors can bring back from the island.
WASHINGTON--It’s not that he’s not interested nor does he feel like he doesn’t have a strong case, but the idea of taking on the Obama administration in court is not something Javier García-Bengochea is eager to do.
The Obama administration's decision last week to again loosen trade restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba means it will soon be easier to enjoy a fine Cuban cigar and savor a swig of that island's flavorsome rum.
WASHINGTON--It’s not that he’s not interested nor does he feel like he doesn’t have a strong case, but the idea of taking on the Obama administration in court is not something Javier García-Bengochea is eager to do.
The top Republican in the U.S. Congress dimmed hopes that lawmakers might end the embargo on Cuba after President Barack Obama leaves office, saying on Tuesday he intends to keep the trade restrictions in place.
HAVANA (AP) — Like so much else in Cuba, shopping for clothes isn’t easy.
Oct 17 Havana's city government has temporarily suspended issuing licenses for new private restaurants in the city and warned existing ones to obey tough regulations, according to several owners of the businesses popular with foreign tourists.
The latest U.S. easing of regulations on commerce with Cuba is good news, not least for fans of rum and cigars. But it’s also a sign that President Barack Obama’s drive to normalize relations is approaching the limits of his authority.
Americans traveling to Cuba will be allowed to bring home more of the communist-ruled island's coveted cigars and rum under new measures announced by the U.S. government on Friday to further ease trade, travel and financial restrictions that have been in place for decades.
Alaska Airlines plans to start flying from Los Angeles International Airport to Cuba in January despite an attempt by rival JetBlue Airways to hijack the route away from the Seattle-based carrier and leave Southern California travelers out in the cold.
American Airlines has been flying to five Cuban cities for just over a month but so far its regularly scheduled flights to the island are often less than half full.
At least six Cuban independent journalists were briefly detained in the municipality of Baracoa, in the easternmost province of Guantánamo, while they were covering the effects of Hurricane Matthew in the area.

The Long Way to America

October 13, 2016

The shortest route from Cuba to the U.S. is 90 miles. But that’s across the Florida Straits, and Liset Barrios gets nervous on a boat. So on May 13, she boards Copa Airlines Flight 295, setting off the long way around—the really long way. The journey covered 8,000 miles, took 51 days and, along the way, illuminated an obscure byway in this historic wave of human migration. The U.N. says some 244 million people live outside their home countries, most as legal guest workers in nearby nations. About 21 million are refugees fleeing war or persecution. Several million more—no one knows the precise number—make their way underground, “irregular migrants” trying to stay out of sight en route from a poor place with scant opportunities to a richer one, with more.
Southwest Airlines announced Thursday it would begin scheduled flights to Cuba on Nov. 13, following competitors to serve the Caribbean island after a 50 year hiatus from the U.S.
BOSTON – U.S. and Cuban officials and scholars are meeting in Boston to discuss joint efforts to preserve artifacts at Ernest Hemingway's former Cuban estate.
Cuban-American entrepreneur Marcelino Alvarez jokes that he never expected he would end up more connected to his family’s homeland living in Portland, Ore. than he was when he grew up in Miami — but that is exactly what happened when he co-foundedIncúbate, the first collaboration incubator between the U.S. and Cuba.
WASHINGTON--The release this week of thousands of once-secret FBI documents provides new detail on the close eye federal law enforcement officials kept on Cuba and the Miami exile community during Fidel Castro’s rise to power through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Victims of Hurricane Matthew in the eastern region of Cuba will be offered assistance from the World Food Program in coordination with the Cuban government, the international organization announced Tuesday.
Port of New Orleans Chief Operating Officer Brandy Christian joined Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in signing a memorandum of understanding with Cuba on Oct. 4 pledging to expand trade and commerce opportunities between Louisiana and the Caribbean nation, according to a prepared statement.
One of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s firms — Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts — paid consultants nearly $70,000 in 1999 to secretly look into doing business in Cuba while the communist country was still under a U.S. embargo, according to Newsweek.
Russia ratified a treaty with Syria on Friday that gives Moscow its first permanent air base in the Middle East, a symbol of the Kremlin's desire to project strength overseas, as Russian officials considered renewing other Soviet-era bases in Cuba and Vietnam.
Nowhere in Cuba are the effects of the continuing US economic embargo more apparent than the countryside, where farming cooperatives rely on outdated tools and processing plants can't obtain spare parts, Will Grant reports.
Matthew’s winds had scarcely subsided in eastern Cuba Wednesday when Msgr. Wilfredo Pino Estévez, bishop of the Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa, set off at 5 a.m. to see what the hurricane had wrought on Cuba’s northern coast.
Havana, Cuba - Sparks fly and drills roar, but the restoration of the Manzana de Gomez, an ornate and imposing building to the east of Central Park in Old Havana, is well behind schedule.
Category 4 winds lashed the communities of Imías, Maisí and Baracoa in the easternmost province of Guantánamo on Tuesday night.
MIAMI — In a sign of the “uncomfortable” spot Donald Trump has put them in, the Miami Republican leaders who support a hard line on Cuba don’t want to talk about a news story detailing how one of the GOP presidential nominee’s companies helped violate the U.S. embargo of the communist island.
In a play to win over Hispanic and independent voters, Miami Democrat Scott Fuhrman is using his first TV ads as a congressional candidate to cast Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as out of touch on one of her signature issues: Cuba policy.
MIAMI — The island of Cuba is the next in line as Hurricane Matthew roars through the Caribbean.
Cuba will allow U.S. air marshals on regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, island authorities announced Friday.
Authorities and residents in Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti are bracing for Hurricane Matthew. In Haiti, more than 55,000 internally displaced persons are living in tents and could be in danger from the massive storm.
September 2016
A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.
Barack Obama has a “0%” chance of getting his nomination for ambassador to Cuba approved by Congress, according to the union representing US diplomats.
Cubans are bracing for a tough end of the year, after what has already been a rough summer. The island's economy is in trouble. Venezuela, Cuba's main patron and supplier of cheap oil, has slashed its generous subsidies, while Cuba's other top cash commodities are facing worldwide price plunges.
A surprising name came up in conversation earlier this year in Miami. Just before President Obama visited Cuba in March, I headed down to Florida to see how Cuban Americans felt about the normalizing relations between the two countries. For some, it was impossible for them to move on from the traumatic experience of fleeing their home country, forced to relocate to the U.S. after a new communist government seized their parents’ businesses and threatened their families. But for others, they are ready to look ahead to a new era.
HAVANA — A top Cuban diplomat on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s threat to undo detente with Cuba unless the single-party government meets the Republican presidential candidate’s demands.
NEW YORK (AP) — An independent press is emerging in Cuba despite a constitutional requirement that media be controlled by the one party communist state, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report issued Wednesday.
VIENNA – Cuba and Russia relaunched their relations on Tuesday with a pacific nuclear energy deal signed in Vienna alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference.
President Obama plans to nominate the U.S.’ first ambassador to Cuba in nearly six decades, a move that could touch off an election-year fight with Republicans over his thaw with the former Cold War foe.

A New Cuba

September 26, 2016

One afternoon last spring, President Obama sat on a stage at La Cervecería, a high-ceilinged beer hall on Havana Harbor, where he had been invited to preside over a gathering billed as “an entrepreneurship and opportunity event.” Just a few hundred feet down the harbor wall was the spot where, in 1960, a French cargo ship full of munitions exploded, in a lethal blast for which Fidel Castro blamed the C.I.A. But no one at La Cervecería was in the mood to dwell on history. Obama’s visit was the culmination of fifteen months of diplomatic engagement, which began when the U.S. and Cuba restored relations, on December 17, 2014, bringing an end to the United States’ longest-lasting hostile standoff with another nation: fifty-six years of bad blood and broken ties. An audience had gathered—a handpicked group of Cuban and American entrepreneurs, government officials, and journalists. Brian Chesky, the co-founder of Airbnb, one of the first American companies to receive a license to do business on the island, rose to speak with barely restrained wonder about the possibilities of Cuban commerce: Airbnb was in more than a hundred countries, and Cuba was its fastest-growing market.
CIENFUEGOS, CUBA--Throughout the day, the artists come and go from a crumbling mansion that sits across from José Martí Park.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese leader to visit Communist-ruled Cuba on Thursday, landing in Havana to hold talks with Cuban President Raul Castro on topics from boosting trade to curbing North Korea's nuclear program.
HAVANA – Donald Trump's threat to undo President Barack Obama's detente with Cuba unless President Raul Castro abides by Trump's list of demands is provoking widespread anxiety among ordinary Cubans, who were paying little attention to the U.S. presidential campaign until now.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has sent a letter to the White House demanding answers about why scheduled airline service to Cuba began without a security agreement in place that would have put federal air marshals aboard select flights.
MIAMI — Francis Suarez comes from a long line of civic and political leaders who have formed the Republican bedrock in south Florida’s Cuban community for a half-century. Yet the 38-year-old Miami city commissioner hasn’t decided whether he will vote for his party’s presidential nominee.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida commended his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, for the hardline stance on Cuba he took this weekend while in Miami.
Porlamar (Venezuela) (AFP) - Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro has warned world leaders at a Non-Aligned Summit that his country was being lashed by a US economic war aimed at toppling him.

Cuba Fights Off Zika

September 18, 2016

The number of confirmed cases of Zika continues to climb in Central America and the Caribbean, except for Cuba. Cuban officials say that only three people there have contracted the virus from local mosquitoes.
Donald Trump once called President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba “fine” and said that, though he would’ve cut a better deal, “50 years is enough” for the U.S. embargo.
CIENFUEGOS, CUBA--Residents of this small city on Cuba’s southern coast awaken every other Thursday to the Fathom Line’s MV Adonia looming in the bay, but the 704-passenger cruise ship’s visit is fleeting.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida excoriated the TSA and the Obama administration on the Senate floor Wednesday, just hours after a government official admitted that there are no air marshals on non-charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba.
WASHINGTON--A handful of experts urged the House Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday to loosen restrictions on farm trade with Cuba, as legislators further contemplate U.S.-Cuba ties.
HAVANA — Guillermo “Coco” Farinas became one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents by starving himself — launching two dozen hunger strikes demanding government concessions on human rights.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek Cuba's help in responding to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs during a rare visit to Havana next week, a spokesman said, and also hopes to expand Japanese business interests on the island.
In the 18 months since President Barack Obama announced a new U.S.-Cuba policy, his views have won bigger support among his most skeptic audience: Miami-Dade County Cuban Americans.
U.S. airlines are now flying to Cuba after a half-century ban on travel there, but you wouldn’t know it from browsing any of the major travel-booking websites.
Japan and Cuba are getting ready to announce plans for a medical specialist training center in the Caribbean nation that will feature Japanese technology and equipment, according to informed sources.
A House panel advanced legislation on Tuesday that would halt commercial flights to Cuba until a thorough security review is conducted at the country’s 10 airports, fueling an ongoing debate about whether the U.S. should have resumed air service with the island nation.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering offering Cuba debt relief worth ¥120 billion during his planned visit to the Caribbean nation this month, according to sources.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering offering Cuba debt relief worth ¥120 billion during his planned visit to the Caribbean nation this month, according to sources.
MELBOURNE, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Selling off parts of its holdings in a potentially lucrative basin off the coast of Australia will help fund opportunities in Cuba, MEO Australia said.
Alan Gross, the U.S. government subcontractor who spent five years in a Havana prison for providing the means for Cuban Jews to connect to the digital world, is in Miami to take part in a conference on how to expand the island's access to the internet.
In a case that appears to represent a shift in policy, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has opened legal proceedings against a longtime pro-Cuba activist based in Tampa.
TURBO, COLOMBIA--Part of Evelio Cortez’s job is to lay broken dreams to rest.
Two leading critics of President Barack Obama's moves toward normal relations with Cuba introduced legislation on Wednesday seeking to temporarily halt commercial flights between the United States and the island because of security concerns.
Algeria is sending crude to Cuba for the first time to help offset lower supplies from Venezuela, hit by production problems due to low oil prices, sources with direct knowledge said.
Just a short hop from Florida, flying to Cuba should be easy. But restarting scheduled airline service after 55 years has been anything but a milk run for U.S. airlines.
The surge in visitors to Cuba, brought on by the December 2014 detente between the island and the U.S., caught the Caribbean nation unawares.
Cuba's Communist government is filtering mobile phone text messages for key words such as "democracy" and "human rights" and then blocking them, dissidents said on Monday.
Commercial flights to Cuba resumed for the first time in 50 years this week, but don’t expect a flood of legislative changes to follow.
Within maritime circles, there is tremendous interest in the promise of Cuban trade and how shipping can navigate the political minefield of the US embargo and the 180-day rule, which bars a vessel that calls in Cuba from visiting the United States for six months.
Cuba is in a period of profound change, which is impacting all aspects of life — including the food system. UC Food Observer learned about some of these changes, when editor Rose Hayden-Smith spoke to Dr. Pedro Sanchez.
Nearly two years after presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced a thaw in relations, Cuba’s communist government is turning to foreign investors to boost renewable energy as it faces cutbacks in cheap oil imports from Venezuela.
SANTA CLARA, Cuba -- Many more U.S. passenger jets will soon start flying to Cuba after Wednesday’s historic first commercial flight to the island in half of a century.
August 2016
SANTA CLARA, Cuba — The flight from Fort Lauderdale to this city in central Cuba on Wednesday morning took only 51 minutes, but it represented a major step in ending decades of isolation between communist Cuba and the United States.
Nine Latin American governments this week called on the United States to end its preferential immigration policy for Cubans, calling it “discriminatory” and a boon to human smuggling networks in the region.
An expected explosion in U.S. tourism to Cuba will likely take years to materialize even after U.S. airlines resume commercial flights to the Caribbean island this week for the first time since 1961, industry officials said.
U.S. companies lobbying Congress to normalize relations with Cuba say the restoration of daily, scheduled flights Aug. 31 could bring a swift end to the travel ban and eventually another look at lifting the trade embargo, according to a top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The start this week of the first regularly scheduled commercial flights from the United States augurs the likely demise of Cuba's “mules” — suppliers of last resort for scarce consumer goods on the island.
Very few without Castro in their name have survived in the leadership of the Cuban Revolution as long as Eusebio Leal. And he didn’t do it by the conventional means of silence and obedience. He brought loyalty but also ideas to the Castros. Now the military-run business empire has asserted itself in Old Havana as elsewhere and Leal appears to have been outmaneuvered.
When Juan Santamarina’s two uncles from Cuba recently visited the U.S. for the first time, the travel experience was exceptionally . . . unexceptional.
Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry’s director general for the United States, said that an upcoming conference in Miami on internet use on the island seeks to promote internal subversion.
The Obama administration “has no intention” of releasing or swapping jailed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes, according to a letter sent by the U.S. Department of State to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Forests in Cuba now make up 30.6 percent of the country’s land area, thanks to a reforestation initiative carried out by the socialist government, according to a report.
Trailed by an enormous delegation of economic advisors, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Havana earlier this week to start a six-day swing through Latin America.
Cuba may seem an unlikely peace broker given its history of leading and inspiring armed revolutions.
Despite all the hype on Cuba, commercial shipping's opportunities to do business with the island are unlikely to significantly improve until at least February 2018.
VIÑALES--The tables are ready, the glasses shine on the tablecloths and the bar displays a wide variety of drinks. However, the restaurant is closed.
Despite achievements in gender equality, emancipation and representation at the highest levels of government, women in Cuba still face problems related to domestic violence and sexism, according to the secretary general of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC).
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine said Monday that the U.S. should seek some sort of human-rights agreement with Cuba, as both nations continue to expand their diplomatic relationship.
HAVANA–Iran's foreign minister has begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, saying the two countries are united by histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities.
AT&T mobile customers visiting Cuba should be able to connect there more easily, thanks to a roaming and interconnection deal with telecom provider Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba, known as ETECSA.
Mr. F. used to get lost under the city streets. Using a flashlight under the cover of darkness, he placed a ladder into the sewers and another city was revealed. He tied the light to a step and tried not to make too much noise. The water was up to his ankles. He could not see beyond 10 feet, but that was enough. He started to throw food around and after a while the animals arrived. That's what he was there for: to hunt clarias living under the Dorticós Avenue in Cienfuegos.
TOKYO —Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Cuba late next month, a Japanese government source said Thursday, in what would be the first visit by a Japanese premier.
Progress in international talks over who owns a piece of the Gulf of Mexico has raised the specter of a Deepwater Horizon tragedy along local shores.
Progress in international talks over who owns a piece of the Gulf of Mexico has raised the specter of a Deepwater Horizon tragedy along local shores.
WASHINGTON--The Cuban government has never liked the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who reach the United States to remain, but it’s stepping up its campaign against it as it struggles to hold onto human resources it considers crucial to the island’s economy.
As soon as the rain stops, mosquitoes flood the guard house of an upscale tourist resort near Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. Without hesitation, one of the guards reaches under his desk to pull out a device that looks like a very large hair dryer. “Mosquito gun,” he says. He walks around, spraying a thick, white cloud of fumigant that engulfs the booth. Slowly, the mosquitoes disappear.
Last Christmas, Michael and Gisel Davila, a Cuban-American couple who live in Queens, N.Y., were talking to her mother, Maria C. Castillo, while visiting her in Miami. It was a casual conversation, full of small talk about the holidays and work and the weather, until Ms. Davila, 30, mentioned that she and her husband were thinking about booking a trip over a long weekend to Cuba.
Cuba on Tuesday published policy guidelines for the next five years that signal no new domestic initiatives although it upgraded foreign investment to "fundamental in certain sectors."
Fidel Castro thanked Cubans for their well-wishes on his 90th birthday and criticized President Barack Obama in a lengthy letter published in state media. He appeared but did not speak at a gala in his honor broadcast on state television Saturday evening.
A year has passed since one of the most symbolic moments in the long and tangled history between the United States and Cuba: the official reopening of the long-shuttered US embassy in Havana.
WASHINGTON--On a steamy summer day one year ago, standing on a dusty Havana back-road, Carlos Gutierrez was somehow able to find the childhood home he’d last seen more than a half century earlier, before he and his family fled Fidel Castro’s communist revolution.
HAVANA — Ramses Fernandez’s most cherished possession is barely larger than a refrigerator, with the legroom of an economy airplane seat and a little more horsepower than a riding lawnmower.
Two days before he was due to meet the president of the US, Antonio Rodiles was arrested by the Cuban police.
A sticking point in resumption of commercial airline service to Cuba has been resolved: U.S. air marshals will travel on certain flights to Cuba.
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA--Colombia has deported more than 1,350 undocumented migrants in recent days — many of them Cubans trying to reach the United States — as the Andean nation becomes the latest to crack down on human smuggling.
When South Florida banking consultant Fernando Capablanca recently spoke about the Cuban banking system — the pre-1959 Cuban banking system — he was surprised at the compliments he received.
The number of Cubans who have entered the U.S. has spiked dramatically since President Obama announced a renewal of ties with the island nation in late 2014, a Pew Research Center analysis of government data has found. The U.S. has since opened an embassy in Havana, a move supported by a large majority of Americans, and public support is growing for ending the trade embargo with Cuba.
Havana on Sunday blamed Washington for a surge of Cubans trying to reach the United States by land and sea, accusing the Obama administration of encouraging illegal and unsafe immigration.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Washington, D.C.-based Engage Cuba Coalition on Wednesday added New Mexico to its roster of states with a local council supporting an end to the 56-year-old trade embargo against Cuba.
HAVANA — More than 2 million tourists have visited Cuba this year, state media said Wednesday, putting the country on track for a record number of visitors bringing badly needed cash to an economy facing a sharp reduction in subsidized oil from its chief ally, Venezuela.
Internationally-known Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas is growing gravely weak from a two-week-old hunger strike to protest human rights abuses while the Catholic Church has emerged as a possible mediator between the opposition leader and the government of Raúl Castro.
The United States has more ties to Cuba than just Miami, including in telecommunications, health care, biotechnology and agriculture. Engage Cuba, a new advocacy organization, wants you to know that.
(CNN) On what appears to be a residential street on the outskirts of Havana, the tan building with a guard gate seems out of place.
Cuba's approval for a French company to import Indian workers to build a Havana hotel has been met with disbelief, anger and complaints about a policy that usually requires foreign companies to hire local workers through state labor agencies