Minnesota lieutenant governor visits Cuba

(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa). Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith, center, walks with President of the People’s Power of Mayabeque, Tamara Valido Benítez, in San jose de las Lajas, Cuba, Tuesday, June 20, 2017. This is the first delegation to visit Cuba fro…

HAVANA (AP) – The lieutenant governor of Minnesota has become the first U.S. state official to make an official visit to Cuba since President Donald Trump announced the new U.S. policy toward the island.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and a group of state officials and representative of state agriculture groups on Tuesday made the first public stop on the five-day trip at government headquarters in Mayabeque, an agricultural province outside Havana.

Smith said the trip was designed to build relations in hopes of future Minnesota agricultural sales to Cuba. Such sales are still allowed under Trump’s policy, which bars many transactions with businesses linked to the Cuban military.

News12Brooklyn, June 20, 2017

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Exchanges | Leave a comment

Trump’s Cuba Moves ‘an Epic Disaster’ for Entrepreneurs

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami on June 16, 2017. CREDIT: Getty Images

Renewed ties were supposed to lead to economic progress. And now it’s all at a standstill.

Last week, hopeful belief collided with hard fact. President Trump, as he promised he would during the campaign, began dismantling former President Obama’s historic overture to Cuba.

Before an adoring crowd in Miami’s Little Havana, the U.S. president attacked his predecessor’s “terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” promising that “We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo,” and otherwise set about dismantling his predecessor’s legacy. A particular target of Trump’s new policy: U.S. dealings with companies tied to Cuba’s military, which covers broad swathes of the tourist industry from nightclubs to hotels and resorts.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. At the end of 2014, Obama signed an executive order moving to officially open ties with the island nation; consequently all signs were pointing to a long-awaited thaw. Among other things, the U.S. would establish a diplomatic outpost in the country, Cuban businesses could export to the U.S., and U.S. companies could enter the Cuban market. Companies like Google and Airbnb would soon establish business ties with Cuba.

Continue reading

Posted in Normalization of Relations | Leave a comment

Secrets of the Seasoned Traveler: Cuba

CREDIT: Getty Images

Cuba is awesome and well worth visiting despite the recent rollback in ease of travel to the island.

Cuba is a truly beautiful place that more Americans should experience, especially before the island changes dramatically due to increased openness and development.

Don’t let the recent rollback dissuade you; licensed groups can still travel to the island on commercial flights and Cuba is an amazing place that is well worth the hurdles.

For first time visitors, I would recommend a few places to see:

1) Havana
The capital of Cuba is also by far its largest and most open city. Visitors will be captured by its beautiful charm, particularly the old and colonial sections as well as the miles-long Malencon on the oceanfront. It also remains relatively inexpensive – though that is changing; a nice rent apartment in the city center is now about $50/night and a meal at one of the city’s best restaurants runs $10-20 per person. Personally, two food spots that I would recommend are Nazdarovie, a Russian “Soviet” restaurant on the Malencon with amazing ocean views, and Café Archangel, which has the best breakfast in the city. From a cultural standpoint, there are many attractions but the city’s main art museum is second to none, and has a world-class collection.

2) Santa Clara
Santa Clara is a sleepy provincial capital and a personal favorite. The city is centered on a town square, which doubles as the main wifi center but its appeal lies in its relaxed charm. It is most famous for its Revolutionary Monument and, after you visit it, I would recommend stopping by the Revolution Museo and Café for one of the better espressos on the island (or try one of their excellent ice cream concoctions). For queer folks, Santa Clara also has El Mejunje, which is one of the largest “welcoming all” venues on the island, and a far nicer place than the Havana gay bars.

3) Varadero
Cuba is a Caribbean island, so any article without mentioning beaches would be an injustice. Visitors to Cuba should experience more than the beach – for those just looking for sun, there are many better options – but this area has some nice resorts and is a great place to kick back and relax for a few days of your trip.

Paul Grossinger, Inc.com

June 20, 2017

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Posted in Cultural | Leave a comment

Cuba Won’t Negotiate Trump’s New Policy

Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez addresses a news conference in Vienna, Austria on June 19, 2017. Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

At a Monday news conference, the nation’s foreign minister called the latest deal “a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold War.”

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Austria, on Monday, Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said his nation was not interested in negotiating with the Trump administration over a newly-proposed policy to limit tourism and trade to the island. Cuba “will never negotiate under pressure or under threat,” Rodriquez said, while also refusing to return U.S. fugitives to whom Cuba has granted asylum. “Cuba conceded political asylum or refuge to U.S. fighters for civil rights,” Rodriguez said. “These persons will not be returned to the United States.”

At a Friday speech in Miami’s Little Havana district, President Trump announced he was “canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba” in an effort to undermine the nation’s current regime, led by President Raúl Castro. “With God’s help,” Trump said, “a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve.” While many of the specifics have yet to be worked out, the new policy intends to reinstate travel restrictions that were loosened under the Obama administration. The policy also aims to prevent U.S. companies from doing business with Cuba’s Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA)— a conglomerate tied to many sectors of Cuba’s economy, including tourism.

On Friday, Trump said the deal could be subject to negotiation—with the exception of a few key demands. “To the Cuban government, I say, put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms, [and] return the fugitives from American justice,” Trump said. “When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much better deal for Cubans, for Americans.”

Continue reading

Posted in The Blockade? | Leave a comment

Cuba and Nicaragua Confirm Support for Venezuela at UN

United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Geneva, Switzerland, June 6, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Venezuelan representative in Geneva thanks 57 countries for their backing.

Representatives from Cuba and Nicaragua have expressed their support for the Venezuelan people and the government of Nicolás Maduro at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

As members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, both countries insisted that they will respect the sovereignty of Venezuela, and denounced constant attacks by the Secretary General of the Organization of States, OAS, Luis Almagro and the United States.

The Venezuelan ambassador to the Council Jorge Valero reiterated his government’s call for peace and the protection of human rights.

Valero said the support that Venezuela had provided to other countries for their development has today paid off, and added that the differences in Venezuela should be resolved at the ballot box.

He thanked the 57 countries present who supported the declaration presented by Cuba and Nicaragua on behalf of the ALBA bloc.

“This overwhelming support shows that the government of President Nicolas Maduro is backed by a majority of governments and peoples in the world”, he said.

AVN

by teleSUR / zh-CL

teleSUR, June 21, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cuba-USA Expedition Ends Coral Reef Research

Cuba Environmental Diplomacy

Havana, June 21 (Prensa Latina) Cuban and US scientists have ended a joint exploration along the island”s coral reefs, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) reported today.

Researchers from both nations, in two working stages, collected samples and obtained data to analyze the preservation of deeper barrier reefs, the Cuban ministry reported.

The first stage (May 17-29) covered all over the north and south coasts of western and central regions of Cuba, from Havana to Cienfuegos province.

The second stage (May 31-June 11) continued along the south coast until returning to the capital.

In the research works, scientists had the opportunity to use a remotely operated vehicle owned by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, which was capable of diving down up to 300 meters depth and recording high-quality video images and pictures.

The bilateral research was aimed at describing the distribution of Cuba´s mesophotic coral reefs, comparing its conditions and physical, genetic and ecological connectivity with those from the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeastern United States.

The 28-day expedition was part of the Plan of Activities passed by both nations for implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on Protected Marine Areas.

Such a document was signed by the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and the National Parks Services and CITMA in November 2015.

Posted in Exchanges | Leave a comment

Summit Criticizes Trump for Anti-immigrant Policies and Against Cuba

Image result for cuba touristsTiquipaya, Bolivia, June 21 (Prensa Latina) The World People´s Summit, which ends on Wednesday in this city, has strongly criticized US President Donald Trump´s anti-immigrant policies and his decision to reverse agreements reached with Cuba.

‘I do believe this is the first summit against President Trump in Latin America, since he has declared himself to be contrary to migrants and to the Paris Climate Agreement,’ UNASUR former President Ernesto Samper.

Samper strongly criticized Trump’s decision to build a wall along the border with Mexico and to review the current situation of 10 million migrants which could lead to the expulsion of seven million people.

The former Colombian President also rebuffed US President Donald Trump’s statement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

‘There are many factors that are going to have a very serious impact on USA-Latin America relations,’ he said.

The Summit is attended by over 4,000 delegates and is under the motto ‘For a world with no walls, towards a universal citizenship’.

Former Ecuadorean President, Rafael Correa, considered that Donald Trump is very dangerous for the world peace and the mankind security.

Correa also recalled that US President has considered building a wall along the border with Mexico, withdrawing USA from the Paris Climate Agreement and backing out of relations with Cuba .

‘Trump backs on what has been advanced to lift the criminal blockade against Cuba,’ Correa said.

The US president announced on June 16, in Miami, the restraints of US citizens´s individual travel to Cuba in the category of people-to-people exchanges and a greater surveillance over other travelers.

Facing the new threats by the US Government, we support Cuba, the world´s supportive nation, the mother of Latin American revolutions, an inspiring country for its liberation processes, the Bolivian President Evo Morales stated.

Posted in The Blockade? | Leave a comment

Minnesota lieutenant governor visits Cuba

HAVANA (AP) – The lieutenant governor of Minnesota has become the first U.S. state official to make an official visit to Cuba since President Donald Trump announced the new U.S. policy toward the island.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and a group of state officials and representative of state agriculture groups on Tuesday made the first public stop on the five-day trip at government headquarters in Mayabeque, an agricultural province outside Havana.

Smith said the trip was designed to build relations in hopes of future Minnesota agricultural sales to Cuba. Such sales are still allowed under Trump’s policy, which bars many transactions with businesses linked to the Cuban military.

News12 Brooklyn, June 20, 2017

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Commissioner Mike Strain says state’s trade with Cuba will continue

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – With the Trump administration working to roll back relations with Cuba, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture says the state’s trade with the island nation will go on.

AG Commissioner Mike Strain says the changes should not impact current trade of farm products, including rice and poultry. Over the past ten years, Louisiana has traded more than $1 billion worth of goods with Cuba.

“There are going to be a number of restrictions in place in dealing with Cuba, specifically there will be restrictions if it involves the Cuban military or government, but there will be exceptions and one of those is going to be in agriculture,” said Strain.

If relations are one day normalized, Strain believes Louisiana could one day trade more than $500 million annually with Cuba.

Kevin Frey, 90WAFB

June 20, 2017

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strengthened US sanctions on Cuba disappoint scientists

Cuba has been subjected to an economic embargo by the United States since 1962. Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty

US President Donald Trump plans to roll back policies that aided collaboration between US and Cuban scientists.

On 16 June, US President Donald Trump announced that he would strengthen travel and trade restrictions against Cuba, reversing his predecessor’s attempts to normalize relations with the country. The move is a blow to scientists who hoped that former president Barack Obama’s push to relax US restrictions on Cuba would make it easier for researchers there to travel and to collaborate with colleagues in the United States.

“People feel very disappointed,” says Pedro Valdés-Sosa, vice-director of Cuba’s neuroscience research centre, CNEURO, in Havana. “They feel like we’ve all moved on beyond the cold war stage, and it isn’t good for the Cuban people. This is just politics.”

Since 1962, US companies have been banned from selling products to Cuba. Because this embargo encompasses reagents and scientific machinery that contain even a few components made in the United States, it has been difficult for Cuban scientists to acquire modern research equipment and materials.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment