US, Mexico, Cuba ready to sign ‘Doughnut Hole’ deal in Gulf waters

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.

The accord will cover the Eastern Gap of the Gulf of Mexico, an area believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. The three countries’ overlapping claims in the Eastern Gap had created what is known as a “Doughnut Hole”.

Trilateral discussions begun in mid-2016 on the maritime territorial issue were concluded by the end of the year.

One of the three officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the deal could be signed on Wednesday.

Cuba and the United States last week sealed an agreement to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as the two sides seek to conclude deals that will make it harder for Trump to reverse a thaw in relations begun two years ago.

Trump has threatened to put an end to the fragile detente unless Havana makes more concessions.

International law gives countries the right to any resources found in the sea within 200 miles of their territory. But when the areas overlap, as they do in the case of the Eastern Gap, countries first must reach an agreement to develop them.

Mexico already has a cross-border agreement with the United States on developing potential oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico, but not with Cuba.

Adriana Barrera, Reuters

January 18, 2017

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Marc Frank in Havana; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Port Of Palm Beach opening relations with Cuba to revive trade

PORT OF PALM BEACH (CBS12) — The Port of Palm Beach is aiming to make a major splash and revive its roots of trade with Cuba. Historic photos from the 1950’s show the trade pinnacled in 1958 when Cuba received more cargo from the Port of Palm Beach than another port in the world.

Now with improving relations, Port Director Manny Almira is now laying the framework to revive the trade and commerce with Cuba that once existed. It’s welcomed news at crossroads where the sound of traffic collides with the strong smell Cuban coffee. “I’m for that. I think it’s a good thing for Cubans also for the American people,” Benny Johnson said.

CBS12 has learned the Port of Palm Beach is about to open relations with Cuba’s National Port Administration with the goal of facilitating international trade and generating new business. New business means new jobs and the possibility or reviving the past. “Every time a new container comes through the port, one container that has not been counted on, that definitely has an impact. If we did it once, we can do it again and that’s the goal,” Almira said.

It’s now up to the shipping lines if properly credentialed to take the next step of trading with Cuba.

Officials from Cuba are expected at the Port January 27th.

Michael Buczyner,

January 18, 2017

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US Groups Ask Trump to Continue Normalization With Cuba

Washington, 17 Jan (Prensa Latina) Several US organizations sent today a memorandum to President-elect Donald Trump to urge him to continue normalizing relations with Cuba.

In the text titled US Politics to Cuba: the case of the commitment, the signatory institutions point out the advantages of continuing the rapprochement with the island and the possible negative consequences of reversing that course, spelled out the organization Engage Cuba.

According to that group, which promotes better ties between the two countries, the memorandum was sent to Trump after his nominee as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the policy changes with the Caribbean country will be examined.

In the document, signatories affirm that a close assessment will confirm constructive engagement – including the reduction of trade and travel barriers – as the best strategy to boost US employment and exports.

According to organizations such as the Cuba Study Group, US-Cuba Business Council, Latin America Working Group, National Foreign Trade Council and Engage Cuba, progress towards normalization is the greatest opportunity to reduce irregular migration and improve border management, among other benefits.


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Hershey return can sweeten US-Cuba relations under Trump

CENTRAL HERSHEY, Cuba [Camilo Cienfuegoes] – The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) and its multi-billion non-profit Hershey Trust eventual return to Cuba can truly reset US-Cuban relations and let President Donald Trump end decades of hostilities following President John F. Kennedy Cuban embargo in 1962.

Hershey founder Milton S. Hershey created an almost mirror image of what he started in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1916 by creating a new town just 30 miles east of Havana named Central Hershey. Central Hershey had the largest sugar producing factory in the world, a Hershey Hotel and a Hershey School for disadvantaged Cuban children.

The unique progressive capitalism of Milton Hershey, who as an orphan and childless himself, ordered that all profits from Hershey Company fund the Milton Hershey School for orphans and disadvantaged children.

During his historic investment mission to the United States, Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz told Capitol Intelligence that Cuba would welcome the return of Hershey to Cuba and especially help in improving Cuba’s sizeable cocoa production in the Baracoa region located near the US military base of Guantamo on the eastern tip of Cuba near Haiti.

Not only did Milton Hershey reproduce his US company town in Central Hershey but made massive infrastructure investment such as a railway to allow the sugar factory production to reach Havana harbor. Hershey activities continued until the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro nationalized all foreign assets in the country and Hershey’s sugar factory ultimately fell into disuse and lies empty today.

The timing of Hershey’s return to Cuba could not be better timed as Cuban President Raul Castro has taken steps to open Cuba to foreign investment and Hershey’s highly unusual predicament of having billions of dollars of surplus cash.

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New US Fines Ratify Validity of Anti-Cuban Blockade

Havana, Jan 17.- The recent fines imposed by the United States against a non-profit organization and a bank show the existence of the blockade that Washington has been maintaining against Cuba since 1962, despite the global rejection.

The Treasury Department fined $10,000 USD to the nonprofit Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation (ARCPF) and $955,750 USD to the Canadian bank Toronto Dominion for violating the blockade’s laws.

For the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these fines a week after the end of President Barack Obama’s mandate demonstrate the persistence of the blockade and its extraterritorial reach, with its consequent economic and commercial damage.

According to the Office for the Control of Foreign Assets, between August 2010 and September 2011, the ARCPF coordinated trips to Cuba of U.S. citizens, who did not classify in the 12 categories approved to do so.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Dominion conducted transactions between 2003 and 2011 through the United States financial system for the benefit of a Canadian company, which financed commercial activities in Cuba.

Since December 2014, when Washington and Havana announced the beginning of a process to normalize their relations, the U.S. government has fined seven U.S. organizations and four foreign entities for a total value of $2,843,623, 359 USD.

In particular, the Obama administration imposed 52 fines for the violations of sanctions against Cuba and other countries, with a total value of $ 14,404,358,605 USD. (Prensa Latina)

Radio Cadena Agramonte, January 17, 2017

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Cuba, USA to jointly fight terrorism, drug-trafficking, money-launder

Havana, Jan 17 (Prensa Latina) Following a constructive policy, Cuba has managed to strike despite the ongoing economic blockade 18 mutually beneficial cooperation deals with the US Government on fields of common interest such as national security.

The latter is a Memorandum of Understanding, signed on Monday in Havana, on the Implementation and Fulfilment of the Law that will help promote and broaden bilateral ties on important issues of national security for both countries, a Foreign Ministry’s statements reports.

According to the agreement, Havana and Washington will cooperate on fighting terrorism, trafficking of drugs, weapons, people, flora and fauna, money laundering and cyber crimes, points out in the document the director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s USA Division, Josefina Vidal.

The Memorandum was signed by the Cuban Interior Minister, Vice Admiral Julio Cesar Gandarilla, and the US Ambassador to Cuba Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes, who’s on an official visit, attended the signing ceremony, as well as members of the Defence and National Security Commission of the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

Washington was the venue last January 12-13 of the fourth bilateral meeting on human-trafficking, in which Cuba detailed the measures it takes to prevent and fight this social scourge, and explained the assistance it provides the victims with.

It also stressed that those measures are part of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy it follows to fight all forms of human-trafficking, as well as other crimes such as sexual and labour exploitation.


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Cuban doctors could offer best practices on improving community health in Chicago

A national commitment to community health has been the hallmark of Cuba’s health system for the past five decades, and one that has fascinated Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.

He thinks his Cuban colleagues could have the key to improving the health of people in some of Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

“Not only do they actually try to educate their patients about medicine, but they really educate their patients in the context of having the community take care of one another,” said Winn. “There’s a sense of social capital where they think that a part of healthcare is not just the delivery of the medicine, but it’s also the active participation of the community in their own health.”

Community involvement was one of the key insights he gained after UI Health recently hosted officials from the Cuban Ministry of Health.

The two organizations are launching a two-year initiative aimed at sharing best practices in providing community-based care. The goal is to reduce infant mortality rates, as well as improve maternal health and cancer screening.

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Cuban Medical Internationalism: Fidel Castro’s Legacy Lives On

In an effort to highlight the rarely acknowledged gifts of the Cuban Revolution and the late Fidel Castro, “Cuban Medical Internationalism: Fidel Castro’s Legacy Lives,” takes a look at the extraordinary and unparalleled contributions that Cuban medical professionals have made around the world, and in particular during times of crisis and in countries with inadequate medical care. December 2016 a Cuban medical brigade returned from Haiti.

Many people will never hear about how at the end of 2016 on December 19, 38 medical professionals from Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade returned home after more than two tireless months of treating Haitians. They were sent to lend support to Cuba’s permanent medical teams in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Following the death of 90-year-old revolutionary Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016 corporate media has been fixated on depicting Fidel as the mastermind of a two-dimensional “dictatorial regime.” For those with a three-dimensional perspective, however, Fidel Castro’s death provides an opportunity to celebrate victories from the 56 years of the Cuban Revolution for which many people around the world are profoundly grateful and even owe their lives.

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Breakfast in Cuba Is Always a Special Occasion

From creamy coffee to fresh guava, Cuban breakfast was a perfect way to start the day

I landed in Havana, Cuba on a bright, humid morning at 10 a.m. on a flight of Cuban expats and American tourists. Swarms of Cubans waited at the exit from security to find their family members, tour guides with name signs awaited tour group members, and tourists leisurely flagged down taxis. We located a driver to take us to our casa particular in Havana. As we drove, I explained that I was interested in Cuban food.

“What is breakfast like?” I inquired.

“Toast and café con leche,” he replied off-handedly, implying that breakfast was not a major meal. “Maybe eggs, ham, fruit, and cheese for holidays or special occasions.”

In the stories I’d heard from friends and bloggers, they cautioned that Cuba was not a foodie destination. Most accounts made Cuban food out to be bland and repetitive. However, after eight days visiting the alluring island just 90 miles south of Miami, I can report that Cuban food wasn’t comprised of the lackluster meals I’d been warned about—at least not entirely.  Rather, I was pleasantly surprised by the local dishes that, like most Caribbean cuisines, are based on starches, pork products, and fresh fruit.

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‘The Four Top’: Competitive Culinary Tourism | Eating Under Embargo | Rum, From Cuba With Love

The 10th episode of ‘The Four Top’ centers on the subject of Cuba. Our pundits are Patrick Symmes, author of two books on Cuba and contributing editor at Outside Magazine; Robert Reid, National Geographic Travel’s “Digital Nomad”; and returning panelist Jacob Grier, a policy wonk who also writes about cocktails.

These frequent travelers share the urge to Instagram the ideal culinary moment while on the road — particularly on an island nation that has only recently opened its borders to American tourists. But there is a disconnect between a visitor’s Cuban dining experience and the food-deprived reality that Cuban citizens face in their everyday lives. What foods do Cuban residents really have access to, and will their diets improve as political tensions ease?

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