Monday, January 24, 2011

Odds and ends

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida wants to block “Cuba’s plan to drill for oil in its sovereign waters off the Florida Keys,” and he introduced a bill to allow the Secretary of the Interior to deny U.S. oil leases to international companies that do business with Cuba. His press release is here.

  • Freedom House’s Matt Brady has a thesis about the arrest and detention of USAID contractor Alan Gross: It’s a sign that when it comes to U.S.-Cuba relations, Havana prefers to keep things just the way they are.

  • Cuba suspended mail service to the United States, Reuters reports, because tighter U.S. security measures were causing some U.S.-bound mail to be returned. U.S. officials told EFE that no special procedures were applied to Cuba, there was no order to return mail to Cuba, and any return of mail to Cuba may have had to do with a decision by third-country air carriers. Prensa Latina summarizes the Cuban postal service announcement here.

  • Penultimos Dias posts a 30-page paper (pdf) in English by German scholar Bert Hoffman on communications technologies and the development of civil society in Cuba.

  • Herald: President Obama’s decision to allow greater academic travel and programs with Cuba is irrelevant to Florida’s public universities, which remain barred by state law from engaging in those activities.


leftside said...

Any idea how much mail was getting returned? I don't think it was a minor amount. And to blame 3rd party contractors is pretty hypocritical if the US Government does not allow companies to make money from doing business with Cuba.

I wonder if Matt Brady really believes that the US would have improved relations with Cuba significantly more if not for one of their "democracy builders" getting caught and held for a year (i agree he needs a trail - but really everyone knows he is guilty of at least 2 crimes - being a foreign agent and entering as a tourist .

As for Buchanan's nonsense, Imagine if China were to try to bar US companies from drilling oil off the Philippines. GOP legislators refuse to tighten regulation of the US oil industry (that led to the BP spill) and instead worry about a Spanish company with a much better safety record than BP...

Anonymous said...

Freedom House thesis, just doesn't make sense. If the US is using Gross as excuse not to continue to engage with cuba, then the US is at fault for justifying, yet again, another rationale for Not engaging. The Cuban FIve have been in jail for years, yet Cuba hasn't used that as a reason not to try and engage the USA. It is the same old story, the Americans continue to move the goal posts. If the US wanted to continue to engage, the Gross incident would give them more incentive to, not less. To think Cuba doesn't want to normalize relations with the USA has never had merit. They want it, under controls, the Americans don't want it unless under domination. If Gross was released tomorrow the USA would find another excuse = look at Obama's
wait and see attitude in response to the economic reforms and release of political prisioners. The Freedom House is just the latest in the long line of American talking points against Cuba. And if Cuba was so afraid of US interference, then why doesnt Obama lift the travel restrictions, embargo etc, and let Havana's worst fears come true? Because it is not true.