Apart from the talks on resuming postal service, a State Department official talked with Cuban officials about other matters including migration, and with opposition figures – an orientation visit that would have been routine before the Bush Administration. Coverage from AFP here, Washington Post here, El Nuevo Herald here.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
…unless they are being imposed on you. Here’s Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iranian opposition leader, via AFP:
“We are against any sanctions against our nation. [They] will impose agonies on a nation who suffers enough from miserable statesmen.”
H/t: Andrew Sullivan.
- On Thursday October 1, the Cuban government will close workers’ cafeterias in four ministries and pay workers 15 pesos daily to buy their lunch. Granma explains that it costs $350 million per year to provide free lunches at 24,700 workplace cafeterias and the measure is being taken to achieve “economic rationality,” but it doesn’t estimate how much money will be saved. It notes that some ministries have large food inventories, and food from these stocks often ends up in the black market. The article explains that this initial action is “experimental,” and will later be extended throughout the country. The article, titled “Giving, more than taking away,” takes pains to assure readers that the action will be taken gradually and that ministries and enterprises cannot close cafeterias on their own; this can only be done when the Ministry of Economy says so. In the case of these four closings, it notes that various nearby state enterprises will be able to provide lunch and is silent on whether private entrepreneurs will play any role. AFP says this is likely to be “the biggest rollback of an entitlement since
’s 1959 revolution.” Cuba
- Comandante de la Revolucion and government minister Ramiro Valdes says Cubans need “to participate in the solution of their own problems and not wait for the daddy-state [papá Estado] to come solve them…Here everyone needs to work, everyone needs to contribute, everyone also needs to bring solutions, ideas.” Ok, but will the state allow people solve their own problems? Valdes made the remarks on a tour of
. El Nuevo Herald story here. Santiago
- Vietnam donates 3,000 tons of rice to
- Reuters: A Chinese company is entering a joint venture in
to build the “Hemingway Hotel” at the marina in western Cuba . Havana
- Granma airs some dirty laundry: Some state enterprises are not paying farmers for the produce they have delivered, even though they have the budget to do so. At the end of August, 2 million pesos were owed to farmers. “It is an immorality to make the producer think that the state does not have the will to pay him,” the article says. It goes on to list the municipalities where the problem exists, and suggests pretty clearly that heads will roll. Raul Castro’s first move in agriculture was to settle the state’s debts to farmers. AP story here.
Monday, September 28, 2009
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies publishes “Cuba Outlook: Raúl and Beyond,” a report (pdf) that reviews Cuba’s economic and political situation, its foreign policy, and other matters, and concludes that Cuba is in a “holding pattern” and “prospects for change are highly unlikely.” It calls for consideration of closer government-to-government ties and relaxation of travel restrictions on Americans.
’s foreign minister, at the UN, states Cuba’s position on relations with the Cuba . United States
- Columnist Albor Ruiz takes note of some calls from Latin America for the
to end the embargo at last week’s UN General Assembly opening. A General Assembly resolution on the U.S. embargo will be debated next month; the U.S. has been on the losing end of that debate 17 times. U.S.
- The Washington Post goes to the Cuban countryside to see how Raul’s agriculture policies are faring.
Eight days after, the recriminations continue over the Juanes concert. But one benefit is this photo published by Granma, showing the late Dizzy Gillespie, Fidel Castro, and Arturo Sandoval during one of Dizzy’s visits to
Saturday, September 26, 2009
[Update: The United States won the final, 10-5.]
Friday, September 25, 2009
This paper of mine contains a description of some of the services being provided by Cubans in
Less clear is where
[Photo of a Cuban-staffed clinic in
- Author Achy Obejas says the real change spurred by last Sunday’s concert was in
. Carlos Saladrigas agrees: “The old policies of hurting the regime with collateral damage to the people need to give way to policies that help the people even when they may provide a collateral benefit to the regime.” Miami
- AP sums up the story of the concert that almost didn’t take place. Juanes complained that his driver turned out to be the same guy that served him breakfast, and was watching him as if he were a security agent (!). And he and others complained that the section closest to the stage was being reserved for a government-supplied crowd. Rui Ferreira has video of a scene in a hallway of the Hotel Nacional. Penultimos Dias notes Granma’s response: it was a big misunderstanding, the guy is a sommelier.
- Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon is invited to a
Congressional event and is denied a U.S. visa. U.S.
beat United States 5-3 in World Cup baseball competition yesterday in Cuba , and now heads to the Sunday final. Italy has to beat Cuba (in Canada , local time tonight) to get into the final for a rematch with the Americans. Florence
- The Herald reports on the torture suffered by the Cuban migrants in
who were rescued by Mexican police. The mistreatment was apparently perpetrated by smugglers from both Mexico and Mexico . Earlier story here. Miami
- If U.S.-Cuba postal service is resumed, it will mean the resumption of service that began as early as 1767, a Spanish researcher reports.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I just plowed through the Commerce Department’s announcement of new regulations governing the gift packages that Americans can send to
Commerce is involved because it regulates exports, and gift parcels are considered exports. The announcement is a counterpart to this month’s Treasury regulations that end restrictions on Cuban American family visits and remittances. Both actions follow from the President’s April 13 announcement.
The regulations make significant openings by expanding the range of items that can be sent, by increasing the allowed value of package contents, by increasing the frequency with which packages can be sent, by expanding the universe of recipients in
Here’s what the regulations do.
The regulations move away from the Bush approach of listing items that can be sent in gift parcels (food, medicine, medical supplies, radios, batteries, cell phones) and prohibiting anything not on the list.
The Obama regulations keep that list and add a few items to it: “clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, veterinary medicines and supplies, fishing equipment and supplies, soap-making equipment.” But they then add a catch-all category: “non-sensitive items normally sent as gifts between individuals.”
With that phrase, the Administration pretty much gets out of the business of regulating every single decision someone might make when sending a gift to someone in
Under the new regulations, any American can send a gift parcel to an individual in
It remains the case that only one gift parcel may be sent per month. But instead of one per month to a Cuban household, the new rules allow one parcel per month to an individual in
The regulations then create a separate category of items that may be sent as gifts to people and organizations in
“Mobile phones, including cellular and satellite telephones; subscriber information module (SIM) cards; personal digital assistants; laptop and desktop computers and peripherals such as monitors, graphics accelerator cards, data storage devices and media such as disk drives, flash drives, writable compact disks and floppy disks, keyboards, mice, and printers including commodities possessing IEEE 802.15.1 ‘Bluetooth’ wireless personal area networking (WPAN) capability; Internet connectivity devices including those possessing IEEE 802.11 ‘Wi-Fi’ and IEEE 802.16 ‘WiMax’ wireless capabilities; satellite-based television and radio receivers; digital music and video players and recorders; personal two-way radios; digital cameras and memory cards therefor; and batteries, chargers, carrying cases and similar accessories for the equipment authorized by this rule. This rule also authorizes the export and reexport of basic software for laptop and desktop computers such as: Computer operating systems and software (except ‘encryption source code’) that enable activities such as word processing, producing spread sheets, producing graphics presentations, sending and receiving e-mail, Web browsing or developing relational databases.”
As in the general gift category, these items cannot be sent to high-ranking government or party officials or to organizations controlled by the Cuban government. Unlike the general gift category, there are “no limits on value or frequency of shipments.”
In all the cases described above, senders of gift parcels do not need to get prior permission from the
Finally, the 44-pound limit on baggage carried by travelers to
There are additional details in the regulations themselves, for example a restriction on devices and software that are on Commerce’s “control list,” such as items containing sophisticated encryption technology. Separately, there’s a section that opens the door to licensing the export of equipment for satellite radio and television, in the unlikely event that
All in all, these regulations are another good, humane move by the Administration. Unlike President Obama’s new policies regarding travel and remittances, this one doesn’t create special privileges for Cuban Americans only. It recognizes that Americans in general might have something positive to contribute. Let’s hope that thinking continues to take hold.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
- Who says blogging isn’t work? Cuban Colada translates Russian newspaper coverage of the visit of General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces here, here, and here. Makarov announced that “Cuban officers will again study at our military colleges and training centers, and Russian defense industry specialists will help
modernize its combat arsenal.” Also: “The time has come to aid the friendly nation in its development, especially on the socioeconomic level.” Havana
- The New York Times: Declassified documents show that Fidel Castro urged the Soviets to consider nuking us, until they explained the concept of blowback to him, and which “changed Castro’s positions considerably.”
- ESPN: Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman establishes his residency in
, the little landlocked country in the Andorra Pyrenees, and will likely soon be a big league free agent.
- The Herald reports on Cuba’s patent registrations in the
, and vice versa. United States
- Juventud Rebelde on the Coppelia ice cream pavilion in Vedado, and its problems.
Monday, September 21, 2009
- In today’s Herald, Lydia Martin and Jordan Levin round up the concert itself and the reaction in
- Some photos from the BBC.
- Yoani Sanchez comments on the concert at the Huffington Post: “It was a rare experience to be there, without shouting slogans and without having to applaud mechanically when the tone of the speech marked that it was the time to cheer…at least this Sunday afternoon we live something different.”
- Prompted by Univision’s Jorge Ramos to discuss a
role in the event – “Did it get your blessing?” – President Obama played it cool: “I don’t think it’s a matter of us providing blessings…Let me be clear. The U.S. government isn’t a concert promoter…I certainly don’t think it hurts U.S.-Cuban relations, these kinds of cultural exchanges. I wouldn't overstate the degree that it helps…What I’d really like to see is U.S. starting to show that it wants to move away from some of the anti-democratic practices of the past.” Cuba
, the wonderful Calle Ocho bakery and restaurant, Vigilia Mambisa brought a steamroller to smash CD’s and photos of Juanes, AFP reports. Police intervened in a “brief confrontation” between Cuban Americans who supported the concert and those opposed. Versailles
- Also in Miami, Telemundo billed it the “Concert of Discord,” which would be the biggest stretch in this whole saga, were it not for the advent of Gorki Aguila of the band Porno para Ricardo on the Miami media scene. “I have my weak moments,” he told the Herald, “Sometimes I feel like Christ on the cross – ‘why did you abandon me’…But if I don’t do what I’m doing I’d lose much of the sense in my life.”
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Looked to me like a nice afternoon of music that many thousands of Cubans enjoyed.
As I thought about all the huffing and puffing in
Friday, September 18, 2009
That seems to be the feeling after the talks on re-establishing postal service that took place in
From the State Department spokesman:
Question: Can you provide us an update on the direct mail talks in
Answer: We were pleased with our initial discussions yesterday on the establishment of direct mail service between the
And a statement from the Cuban delegation:
El 17 de septiembre de 2009, se iniciaron las conversaciones entre representantes de
Durante las conversaciones, Cuba trasladó a la parte norteamericana su evaluación de la situación actual del servicio postal universal entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos y presentó propuestas de solución a las dificultades existentes en esta área. La delegación cubana también abordó los temas que deben tenerse en cuenta para el restablecimiento
La jefa de la delegación cubana declaró:… “Estamos satisfechos con el desarrollo de esta primera reunión, que permitió examinar los temas que dificultan la normalización
En las conversaciones, la delegación cubana enfatizó, en particular, la importancia de eliminar las restricciones discriminatorias derivadas de la política de bloqueo de los Estados Unidos hacia Cuba, que permitan el restablecimiento del servicio de correo postal directo entre los dos países, sobre la base de los principios y normas establecidos por la Unión Postal Universal de la cual ambos Estados son miembros.
Ambas delegaciones coincidieron en la necesidad de dar continuidad a las conversaciones en los próximos meses.
La delegación cubana estuvo integrada además por Silvia Munárriz Mon, viceministra de la Informática y las Comunicaciones; y Eliecer Blanco Prieto, presidente de la Empresa de Correos de Cuba; entre otros funcionarios.
So far, so good, I guess.
But I wonder what the Cubans mean by “the importance of eliminating discriminatory restrictions derived from the embargo policy of the United States toward Cuba…based on the principles and norms established by the Universal Postal Union, of which both States are members.” Does that mean that
Thursday, September 17, 2009
- Governor Richardson clarifies his position on travel to
: “Let anybody go to Cuba .” He spoke at the Cuba about his effort to mediate a change in U.S.-Cuba relations. He engaged in some Universityof New Mexico diplomacy in the 1990’s while serving in the House of Representatives; two accounts of that history are here and here. Cuba
- Reuters: Talks on the resumption of regular U.S.-Cuba postal service begin in
- From a Herald article today: “Another exile group, Mambisa Watch [Vigilia Mambisa], announced that on Sunday evening it will use a steamroller in Little Havana to destroy CDs of artists who take part in the Juanes concert.”
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Well, he’s going.
The concert is on Sunday and the lineup, according to a statement released by Juanes and the Cuban music institute and published in Granma, is impressive:
Amaury Pérez (Cuba), Danny Rivera (Puerto Rico), Cucú Diamante y Yerbabuena (Cuba-Venezuela), Juan Fernando Velasco (Ecuador), Jovanotti (Italia), Juanes (Colombia), Luis Eduardo Aute (España), Miguel Bosé (España), Olga Tañón (Puerto Rico), Orishas (Cuba), Silvio Rodríguez (Cuba), Van Van (Cuba), Carlos Varela (Cuba), Víctor Manuel (España) y X Alfonso (Cuba)
The statement also says that the concert will be broadcast on Cuban television and the signal will be available “without restriction” to broadcasters and websites in any country. In the
The statement also says, “There will not be presenters on stage,” just the musicians.
If you’re keeping score of the politics of this event, that means
Just to make sure, a program will air on Cuban television tomorrow night showing “all the people who opposed the Cuban people having a good time on September 20.” That’s according to Amaury Perez, in an interview last week. Consider the program Vigilia Mambisa’s gift to the central committee’s propaganda team. Sadder still.
When I first wrote about this concert, I recognized some of the criticisms. But then and now, I side with those who decided not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, and who simply support a great musical event. For example, check out this young and wise Cuban American’s view on the “right to be inspired.” For all their years, those who warned the loudest about a Castro victory have handed him one on a silver platter.
Last week, Yoani Sanchez went out and recorded Cubans’ opinions of the concert on video, and put it on her blog with a brief comment that she’s happy to be in tune with her people.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
…or at least monopolists…in the La Vanguardia story discussed below, there’s a sidebar comparing retail prices in
20 German sausages: 12 Euros in
Paper napkins: 0.9 Euros in
Diapers, “10 units:” 9.95 Euros in
Whole milk, one liter: 0.58 Euros in
Carbonell olive oil, one liter: 2.95 Euros in
Red wine, “reserva:” 14.65 Euros in
Baguette: 0.8 Euros in
’s La Vanguardia reports on the closure of workplace cafeterias, discussed earlier here. The reporter, Fernando Garcia, is careful not to predict the end-point of this policy, but says it has already begun and will continue rolling out over the next several months. He ties the elimination of subsidized workplace meals to Raul Castro’s policy preference of making salaries, not an assortment of benefits, the main source of income. An unknown: how much private vendors will be allowed to meet the increased lunchtime demand. An interesting nugget: the 15 pesos that workers will get to buy lunch is half the state’s cost for the cafeteria’s lunches themselves. Spain
- Five barefoot Cuban migrants at a convenience store in Lee County, Florida, a go-fast boat circling offshore with 40 fuel containers on board, and the feds investigating. Naples News story here.
- New York Times: from the Industriales to the Angels, Kendry Morales is excelling.
- Juventud Rebelde reports on the interment of Juan Almeida in
, and El Nuevo reports on his son, who was not allowed to attend. Santiago
- AP: At the
, Governor Richardson talks about reciprocal moves he wants to see from the Universityof New Mexico and United States . Cuba
- Cuban Colada grabs a Russian media report on the visit of the chief of the Russian armed forces general staff to
; he’s there until Friday. Cuba
- AFP Spanish: Through October 15, Cubans are debating ways to increase production and efficiency, and to fight corruption, in their workplaces. The story is based on “material de estudio” distributed by the party in workplaces.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Mexican police rescued 14 Cuban migrants from a house in
Reportedly, their relatives had not paid the full sum required to the smuggler, which led to their mistreatment, which in turn led to neighbors’ complaints to the police. Cuban Colada has an account here.
AP has a long and interesting profile of Cuban American National Foundation president Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, including this:
- New York Times: Armando Ruiz of
has applied for a license to operate Miami-Havana ferry service. Miami
- The recently passed revolutionary leader Juan Almeida has been in the news recently because of a memoir published in
by his son, who remains in Spain and is seeking to leave for medical treatment. Penultimos Dias has published excerpts of the book; here’s one with a link to a second at the bottom. In English at Huffington Post, Yoani Sanchez comments on the book. Cuba
- AP on the new private taxis.
- Two Sorolla paintings that the Fanjul family claims to be from their family collection in Cuba show up at the Prado in Madrid, and the family reacts with this statement.
- Senator Mel Martinez left the Senate last week, and the Herald’s Lesley Clark looked at his last day, and his Senate career.
Friday, September 11, 2009
AP reported yesterday that the Cuban government has adopted a policy that will allow Cubans to access the Internet through computer facilities at post offices. For years, these facilities have given Cubans access to e-mail, but web access has been limited to the intranet portal Islagrande. The policy has not yet gone into effect. The resolution that changes the policy was published in
Other telecom/IT developments:
- Reuters looks at the possible impact of the Obama telecom opening, and runs a separate “factbox” containing lots of data on telecom/IT in
. My guess, stated here (pdf), is that the most likely deals will be roaming agreements with U.S. cellular carriers, because Cuba already has such deals with other countries’ carriers, and it would be a moneymaker. Cuba
- EFE reports that
is trying to block Skype and other voice-over-Internet applications. Cuba
From the June 29 Gaceta Oficial, the resolution on Internet service:
INFORMATICA Y LAS COMUNICACIONES
RESOLUCION No. 99/2009
El Decreto-Ley No. 204 de fecha 11 de enero de 2000, cambio la denominación del Ministerio de Comunicaciones por la de Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, que desarrollará las tareas y funciones que hasta el presente realizaba el Ministerio de Comunicaciones, así como las de Informática y la Electrónica que ejecutaba el Ministerio de la Industria Sidero-Mecánica y la Electrónica.
POR CUANTO: El Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba, mediante Acuerdo de fecha 30 de agosto de 2006, designó al que resuelve Ministro de la Informática y las Comunicaciones.
POR CUANTO: El Acuerdo No. 2817 de fecha 25 de noviembre de 1994, del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros, faculta a los jefes de los organismos de la Administración Central del Estado; dictar en el límite de sus facultades y competencia, reglamentos, resoluciones y otras disposiciones de obligatorio cumplimiento para el sistema del organismo; y, en su caso, para los demás organismos, los órganos locales del Poder Popular, las entidades estatales, el sector cooperativo, mixto, privado y la población.
POR CUANTO: El Acuerdo No. 3736, de fecha 18 de julio de 2000, adoptado por el Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros, establece que el Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, es el organismo encargado de ordenar, regular y controlar los servicios informáticos y de telecomunicaciones, nacionales e internacionales y otros servicios afines en los límites del territorio nacional, así como de conjunto con las organizaciones correspondientes, el Acceso a las Redes de Infocomunicaciones con Alcance Global.
Además, está encargado de evaluar, proponer y otorgar la expedición y revocación de concesiones, autorizaciones, permisos y licencias a operadores y proveedores de servicios informáticos y de telecomunicaciones, privados o públicos, velando por su cumplimiento en el marco de su autoridad.
POR CUANTO: La Resolución Ministerial No. 179 de fecha 7 de octubre de 2008, ordena en el país todo lo referente a los Proveedores de Servicios de Acceso a Internet al Público.
POR CUANTO: La Empresa Correos de Cuba, cumpliendo con lo dispuesto en la Resolución Ministerial No. 179/2008 antes mencionada, ha solicitado autorización para la prestación de Servicios de Acceso a Internet al Público.
POR TANTO: En el ejercicio de las facultades que me están conferidas,
R e s u e l v o :
PRIMERO: Autorizar a la Empresa Correos de Cuba,
SEGUNDO: La Empresa Correos de Cuba, brindará los servicios autorizados, conforme se estipula en la Resolución Ministerial No. 179/2008, que establece las normas para la organización, funcionamiento y obligaciones
TERCERO: La Agencia de Control y Supervisión del Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, queda encargada de controlar el cumplimiento de lo que por la presente se dispone.
NOTIFIQUESE al Presidente de la Empresa Correos de Cuba.
COMUNIQUESE a los viceministros, a la Agencia de Control y Supervisión, a las direcciones de Regulaciones y Normas, Economía, Oficina de Seguridad para las Redes Informáticas, a la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., así como a cuantas personas naturales y jurídicas deban conocerla.
ARCHIVESE el original en la Dirección Jurídica del Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones.
PUBLIQUESE en la Gaceta Oficial de la República de
DADA en La Habana, a los días 17
Ramiro Valdés Menéndez
Ministro de la Informática y las Comunicaciones
From a Weekly Standard profile of Marco Rubio, former Florida House Speaker and candidate for U.S. Senate in next year’s Florida Republican primary:
Like Obama, Rubio can thrill an audience. On April 13, he addressed the College Republicans and Students for a Free Cuba at
Rubio called the
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
- Governor Richardson is working on his idea of a dialogue between Cuban Americans and the Cuban government, the Herald reports. The reactions are mixed and interesting. There are lots of ways to figure why the odds are against
, starting with Jaime Suchlicki’s assessment: “What does Raúl care about Cuban Americans?” Richardson
terminates the licenses of ING Barings and Netherlands Caribbean Bank, saying the banks were inactive. Cuba
- This terrific blog written by Uziel Gómez Padrón, a Cuban resident in
, reports that pitcher Yunieski Maya Mendiluza of Pinar del Chile Riohas left . Cuban Colada summarizes in English. And mlb.com reports that the Red Sox have signed shortstop Jose Iglesias of Cuba . Havana
- Penultimos Dias: A Lenin school reunion in
this weekend. “La Lenin” is an elite high school in Miami . Havana
- Juventud Rebelde: A dog rescue story from
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
A document from the
AFP Spanish report here, my earlier comment here.
- Placido Domingo says, “Go, Juanes, go.” So does Dionisio García Ibáñez, president of
’s conference of Catholic bishops. According to Cubaencuentro, he said of the concert: “It will be like a light, an opening, so artists from other parts of the world may come to Cuba and communicate with the Cuban people. Beyond any political content, we know that many will go see Juanes, and will appreciate his concert.” And six more jailed dissidents support the concert, according to this EFE report. Cuba
- Tracey Eaton interviewed American fugitive Charles Hill and writes about it in the current issue of CubaNews.
- Reuters: the transfer of retail operations to military control has cut pilferage and squeezed the black market.
- Speaking of the black market, the Herald reports on “mules” who have carried money and goods to
in excess of Cuba regulatory limits, and whose business may be threatened. U.S.
Friday, September 4, 2009
[Correction: My reading of that Treasury language was wrong. U.S. banks will be permitted to send remittances through third-country banks, and at the same time they will be allowed to communicate directly with the Cuban banks to establish who is sending the remittances and who should receive them. We’ll see how this works in practice, but it should be cheaper than some of the methods of sending remittances that have been available to date. It still escapes me why the U.S. government would not allow direct wire transfers of money between U.S. and Cuban banks in both cases discussed here; the legal sending of remittances to Cuba, and Cuba’s payments for shipments of U.S. agricultural exports.]
In addition to ending limits on remittances, President Obama has made it easier to send them. His new regulations will allow direct transfers of funds between
The language is as follows:
“Depository institutions are permitted to set up testing arrangements and exchange authenticator keys with Cuban financial institutions to forward remittances…but may not open or use direct correspondent accounts of their own with Cuban financial institutions.”
That’s a normal, 21st-century arrangement.
So why can’t it apply to the payments for our agricultural exports to
If American banks can send money to Cuban banks, why not let Cuban banks send money to ours, especially since this would benefit
Good for President Obama, and good for the Cuban American community. Thanks to yesterday’s new Treasury regulations, Cuban Americans can visit their family in
A humane step, long overdue.
And the definition of family, narrowed by President Bush, is now wide open. Treasury’s definition: “For purposes of this part, the term close relative used with respect to any person means any individual related to that person by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or from a common ancestor with that person.”
The regulations also define the telecom business opportunities that President Obama announced last April. American companies will be allowed to negotiate satellite or fiber optic links to
“This gets the
Fair enough, I suppose.
But the new rules also create an odd, and I would argue unsustainable, situation where the
Cuban Americans can now travel virtually without restriction – for weekends, for tourism, for special occasions. Soon we’ll see a surge in Miami-Havana charter flights and images of Cuban Americans bringing their relatives to Cuban hotels, since Cubans are now allowed to stay in those hotels. For some, the ability to send unlimited remittances means that their loved ones won’t have to worry about basic needs. For others, it is an opportunity to invest by sending money to a relative to buy tools, to expand a house, or even to buy a new one with extra space for relatives who will visit now and retire there some time in the future.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will remain under Cold War rules governing those activities, based on policies that designate Cuba an “enemy” country to which the flow of hard currency should be strictly limited.
The contradictory policy is now a perfect reflection of the contradictory politics of Cuban Miami.
Every two years, Cuban Americans vote in Congressional elections to sustain
Un-freakin’-real, as they say.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
For information on the new regulations governing Cuban American family visits and remittances, telecommunications, and travel for sales and marketing of agricultural or medical products:
- Treasury’s fact sheet, a good, plain-English explanation of the new regulations, is here.
- Ernesto at Penultimos Dias translated the fact sheet into Spanish here.
- And the new regulatory language itself, with detailed explanations of how the new rules supersede old ones, is here (pdf).
The Herald reports that the Treasury Department is about to issue regulations to carry out President Obama’s April 13 announcement regarding Cuban American family visits and remittances, and telecommunications.
- Twenty-four dissidents signed a statement supporting the Juanes concert, calling it “a great opportunity to advance reconciliation among all Cubans, and to leave behind the hatreds that for so many years have poisoned our patria.” What a bunch of commies! (Reuters coverage here, excerpts and signatures here).
- Speaking of commies, the communist Chinese are giving
a new $600 million line of credit, including $260 million for grain purchases. Cuba
- Two good reads at The Havana Note on the Amnesty International report: on the new ground it breaks in the human rights community’s discussion of the embargo, and on a decision President Obama has to make in the coming days on the embargo itself.
- AP: A
federal judge awarded a $27.5 judgment to the family of a Cuban political prisoner, to be paid by the Cuban government and Communist party, to compensate for the distress that the incarceration of Omar Rodriguez Saludes has caused. Miami
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
If Cuban bureaucracies operate cafeterias to provide lunch for their employees but there’s a chronic problem of theft of supplies and nobody is thrilled with the food, why bother?
That question has been asked and answered, Reuters reports, as ministries in
This is good news for private food vendors who, the article reports, are preparing for the increased demand. In recent years, the state has used regulatory enforcement and tighter licensing policies to squeeze the licensed entrepreneurs who sell homemade pizza, roast pork sandwiches, and other items from street stands.
The interesting part of this story is to come. If workplace cafeterias close all across
(Update: More reporting in Financial Times.)
Amnesty International says President Obama should “take the lead on lifting embargo against
The report says that
Amnesty reports that while both food and medical imports from the
- Speaking from
’s foreign minister says that the Beijing, Cuba policy of “blockade, aggression, internal subversion, and isolation” has failed and remains “intact” under President Obama. U.S.
- Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation notes the “myopia” of U.S. restrictions on offshore oil drilling while
presses ahead. Cuba
- Cuban Colada links to the audio of Governor Richardson’s press conference at the Hotel Nacional in
and notes that there were just a few little problems in translation. Havana
- Herald: A cancer drug developed in
is in clinical trials in the Cuba , but if it is effective we can’t buy it unless we make an exemption to the embargo. United States
- The New York Times reviews a Travel Channel program about
that aired last night and took a “don’t-offend-the-host approach.” Cuba
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Last month I wrote about a lawsuit where a
The Cuban government didn’t respond in court, and the judge ruled in the plaintiff’s favor.
I was interested in the judge’s reasoning, especially on the issue of evidence regarding Sullivan’s whereabouts and his alleged incarceration in
On that score, the decision isn’t very helpful. The judge simply took the plaintiff’s proposed “findings of fact and conclusions of law,” made a few edits by hand, and made the document his judgment in the case. He removed Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and the “Army of the
The plaintiff’s document is interesting, however. It says that Sullivan and Rorke had “participated in various anti-Castro covert operations in Central America and Cuba” including “Operation Mongoose, the covert-action sabotage and subversion program against Cuba initiated in November, 1961 and the widely-publicized April, 1963 bombing of the former Esso oil refinery in Havana, Cuba, as well as collateral activities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.”
It goes on to cite accounts by unnamed former prisoners in
A few observations:
If someone sues you in Waldo County, Maine, you had better show up and respond in court.
These days, flying over a foreign country to bomb a refinery would be considered terrorism, or it would be considered an act of war if a government were behind it. The irony of using an anti-terrorism statute to benefit Mr. Sullivan’s family doesn’t seem to have entered into this case.
It still seems to me that the
This case is a good object lesson for anyone who thinks that normalizing relations with
Here’s a more immediate problem. If U.S.-Cuba mail service is re-established through the talks that will begin this month, and if the two sides were to agree that flights will carry mail in both directions, how would the U.S. government ensure that Cuban planes are not subject to seizure on U.S. soil to satisfy the $21 million claim that Ms. Sullivan now holds against the Cuban government?
Update: A reader asks if