Thursday, June 22, 2017

Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba?

Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba?
Elliott Abrams, Newsweek • June 22,
This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

Congratulations to President Trump for a serious (though not total)
reversal of the terrible Obama policy toward Cuba.

Why? Because the Obama policy was values-free, granting all sorts of
advantages to the Castro regime in exchange for nothing.

That was no bargained-for exchange, winning more freedom for the Cuban
people. Instead it was a prime example of Obama's ideological politics,
abandoning decades of American policy that he thought right-wing or
old-fashioned and wrong and in the process strengthening the vicious
Castro regime and paying little attention to the people of the island.

In the years since Obama acted, human rights in Cuba have gotten worse.
If Obama's approach was an experiment, it has failed. Human Rights
Watch's World Report 2016 said this of Cuba:

The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public
criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish
its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders,
independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in
recent years.

The Miami Herald's lead analyst on Latin America, Andres Oppenheimer,
wrote this in July 2016:

One year after Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington on July 20, 2015,
Cuba's human rights situation is much worse. It's time for Latin America
and the U.S. to stop clapping, and demand that Cuba's dictatorship start
allowing fundamental freedoms
On the first anniversary since Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington,
D.C., one thing is clear: The reestablishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic
ties — which I have cautiously supported in this column — has not helped
improve by one iota Cuba's human rights situation. On the contrary,
human rights abuses have worsened.

That's a fair epitaph for the Obama policy: it made human rights in Cuba
worse. And that is why it was politically sensible and morally right to
end it.

Trump is maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing flights and
cruise ships to Cuba, but trying to end the phony individual beach
gambols that masquerade as something more serious. And he is ending the
bonanza for the Cuban military, which owns most of Cuba's tourist industry.

The overall effect of Trump's moves is logically to push Americans
toward group visits that have a serious purpose beyond tourism, and
toward individual Cuban economic efforts like Air BnB accommodations,
rooms in private homes, and small private restaurants—all of which help
the Cuban people.

And if the regime is caught between the people's desire for economic
progress and the end of Obama's foolish policy, perhaps this will push
Castro to allowing even more private economic activity.

Hats off to Senator Marco Rubio, a key architect of the new policy whose
pressure on the Trump administration has now put human rights in Cuba
right back at the heart of U.S. policy. And to the President, who made
the right decision just a few months into his administration.

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as
deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor
in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised
U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

Source: Elliott Abrams: Has Trump Made the Right Move in Cuba? -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/elliott-abrams-trump-made-move-145325141.html

Director of U.S. office that oversees Radio, TV Martí resigns

Director of U.S. office that oversees Radio, TV Martí resigns
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

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.

"Every pressure cooker needs an escape valve. With my resignation, I am
only trying to put an end to the speculations and false accusations by
some sectors that are interested in taking over this job," OCB Director
Maria "Malule" Gonzalez told el Nuevo Herald.

"The campaign is not the only reason for my resignation," she added.
"It's [also] a matter of making way for whoever the [Trump]
administration wants to put in this job."

Gonzalez, who will remain at the head of the OCB until a new director is
appointed, added that her resignation had been voluntary.

Her statement referred to a campaign of criticisms against her in social
media and on the Hialeah Gardens-based television channel América TeVé.
Facebook users published her personal contacts, and she said she
received multiple calls with complaints.

A video broadcast by América TeVé after President Donald Trump's
election showed Cuban opposition activist Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known
as Antunez, urging Radio and TV Martí to "rethink the reasons why they
were created and again give some space to those of us who call Raúl
Castro a dictator."

On the same program, Marcell Felipe, who founded Inspire America, an
organization that promotes the work of dissidents like Antunez, accused
the broadcasters of having "become practically a propaganda tool for the
Castro regime." Felipe, a lawyer who also represents América TeVé, said
he was not speaking for the TV channel.

During the Obama administration, the Martí stations — first under the
direction of Carlos Garcia and since 2015 under Gonzalez — began making
a series of changes designed to bring their coverage in line with the
journalism standards of the Voice of America, another U.S. government
broadcaster, and expand their audience on the island through the
internet and the distribution of DVDs.

"In the last year we completed analysis and studies by third parties
that show the impact of the Martí stations on the island, and that our
decision to use the internet as an additional distribution channel was
right," Gonzalez said. "On Sept. 26 and 27 we will hold the second Cuban
Internet Freedom conference that was so successful last year."

But the shift of funds from the TV broadcasts — seldom seen on the
island because the Cuban government blocks them — to the digital content
and the decision to move away from propaganda and toward a more balanced
journalism have been criticized by some Cuban exiles as well as
opposition activists on the island.

"Those of us who called Fidel a tyrant rather than president, who were
totally opposed to the Obama policy [of engagement with Cuba], we had no
space there," Antunez told el Nuevo Herald.

A quick search of the Martínoticias website turned up 347 reports that
mentioned Antunez. But the coverage has been "too favorable" to the
Obama policies on Cuba, he replied, and there has been supposedly
"little follow-up" to news developments on the island.

"That broadcaster went from being a weapon at the service of freedom to
a weapon for agreeableness," he added. "I don't criticize the
institution. Radio and TV Martí are very important. I criticize the last
two managements, which served the Cuban American National Foundation and
Barack Hussein Obama by falsifying and sabotaging its editorial line."

The Cuban American National Foundation did not respond to a request for
comments.

The dispute over the Martí stations reflects the profound frustration
sparked by President Barack Obama's decision to warm relations with Cuba
among some dissidents on the island as well as exiles abroad and renews
an old argument about the goals and efficacy of the broadcasters.

Felipe said he believes the stations should work clearly for "regime
change" in Cuba, and complained that there has been a lack of "political
will" at the OCB to implement new technologies that would make TV
Martí's signal available in Cuba.

The lawyer added that Cuban exiles will be "very happy" when the name of
the next OCB director becomes known. It will not be him, he added.

Regulations issued by the Obama administration require the OCB director
to be appointed by the Broadcasting Board of Government, the agency that
supervises all U.S. government broadcasts, rather than the White House.
The BBG did not respond to a request for comments.

Gonzalez said she will be leaving behind "a more agile and efficient
organization that now has new distribution channels, one of the biggest
challenges of this institution. The three platforms are working as one …
with one voice."

The thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations under Obama raised many questions about
the future of Radio and TV Martí, whose operations have long been
questioned by members of Congress and other agencies.

One bill that would have totally eliminated the Martí broadcasters was
submitted to Congress in 2015. And the Obama administration floated one
proposal to turn the OCB into a federal contractor, like the other
broadcasters under BBG supervision. That generated fears among its
employees that they would lose their federal benefits. The proposal has
not yet been adopted.

The Trump administration's budget proposal for 2018 includes cuts of $4
million to $5 million in OCB financing.

"I continued meanwhile to work strongly in OCB," Gonzalez said. "Last
week, I announced the appointment of Wilfredo Cancio as news director …
and we are just weeks away from completing the revitalization plan that
we started at the beginning of the year."

Source: Director of U.S. office that oversees Radio, TV Martí resigns |
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article157364084.html

Trump, Obama and subjugated Cubans

Editorial: Trump, Obama and subjugated Cubans
DDC | Madrid | 22 de Junio de 2017 - 14:21 CEST.

Cuba's official television aired Donald Trump's recent appearance at the
Manuel Artime Theater in Miami. That makes two speeches by US presidents
that Cubans on the Island have been able to watch recently.

In March of 2016, at his appearance in Havana, Barack Obama proposed a
policy based on the creation of opportunities, with an emphasis on the
empowerment of entrepreneurs. Brimming with optimism, Obama expressed
his belief that economic liberalization would spawn the democratization
of Cuban society – despite the examples of China and Vietnam. His words
sparked widespread popular support. At the same time, human rights
violations increased, and the military elite, now converted into a
business group, exploited the new scenario.

Barack Obama underestimated the degree to which independent
entrepreneurs are subjugated by the regime, and the military elite
stifles any kind of economic competition. With unintended effects, his
policy of empowerment ended up actually abetting the oppressors.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has just announced that he will be
relentless against this elite. His coercive turn in this regard is the
right move, but he has failed to generate broad support for it in the
US. And his speech at the Manuel Artime theater, rife with electoral
rhetoric, generated a counterproductive image for a people tired of the
confrontational gestures.

Those who advise the US president ought to take better advantage of the
Castro regime's calculated decision to televise his speeches. Trump
should not only send a clear message to Cuban exiles in Miami, but also
to the several million Cubans on the Island who can see him.

Source: Editorial: Trump, Obama and subjugated Cubans | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498134062_32050.html

The true face of GAESA in Havana's Historic Quarter

The true face of GAESA in Havana's Historic Quarter
ROLANDO MARTÍNEZ | La Habana | 22 de Junio de 2017 - 11:27 CEST.

"What has the change from Habaguanex to GAESA been like?"

"Disastrous."

"Why?"

"Because the military management is inept. They demand too much and want
to intimidate us. Imagine: if you refuse to work with them, or ask for
leave, they threaten to seize your passport for a year."

So says Roberto, 41, a founded clerk at Habaguanex S.A. He says that
they worked very hard in the Historic Center. "We built something that
we can touch with our hands. We don't need repressors, but better salaries."

Almost a year after a commercial conglomerate of the Havana Historian's
Office was absorbed by the military consortium GAESA, many workers at
the 20 hotels, 56 bars and cafes, 39 restaurants and more than 200 shops
- among them boutiques, perfumeries, florists, pharmacies, opticians,
jewelers, liquor stores and food establishments - feel uncomfortable
with their new bosses, and some are even considering leaving the entity.

"They are so bungling," says Osmani, a 38-year-old worker, "that the new
management of the Santa Isabel hostel in the Plaza de Armas closed the
service entrance, so maintenance and other employees now have to pass
through the lobby on their way to their jobs."

"Eusebio [Leal] made arrangements with families so that they could
manage some hostels and businesses, an experiment that yielded excellent
results," says Mikhail, a 43-year-old custodian. "But at the Hostal
Valencia, for example, Gaviota already fired them."

"Now there are more shortages than before," says Yoslaine, 32, a cashier
at a grocery store. "There is also apathy, a lack of staff, and fewer
searches. There are long lines to pay, and the bosses couldn't care less
if the customers complain."

Even at the Puerto Carenas building, an entity that was not transferred
to GAESA, but is headed up by a brigade general, those in charge of the
restoration complain about a lack of materials and their bosses'
ignorance: "Instead of importing the required materials, we are ordered
to use common sand and cement, or any old pigment to restore frescos
that are more than 300 years old," says worker Carlos, age 48.

The vast majority of those consulted believe that "the lesser evil"
would be for civilians to run the commercial conglomerate again, and for
the General Controller of the Republic to do its work, tackling
corruption. "The disaster of the paramilitary economy was demonstrated
in the change from Habaguanex to GAESA," said one of them.

Cement, brick and corruption: the background of the military "occupation"

At the beginning of the 'rescue' of the Historic Quarter —Carlos
recalled— three construction companies were created: Puerto Carenas,
Restauradora del Malecón and Restauradora de Monumentos. The latter was
overseen by the architect Perla Rosales Aguirreurreta, Eusebio Leal's
second-in-command today.

Years later the three companies were merged under the name Puerto
Carenas, headed by Rogelio Milián Lária, a former member of the Unión de
Empresas Constructoras Caribe (UNECA), which in mid-2012 was embroiled
in a major corruption scandal. Among other shady dealings, Milián
charged commissions for the purchase of construction materials from a
Spanish supplier (his son-in-law).

Milián was replaced by Brigadier General Conrado Echeverría, former head
of the General Staff of the Matanzas military region, who later headed
up a housing program for FAR (Armed Forces) officers attached to GAESA's
Unión de Construcciones Militares (UCM).

The militarization of Puerto Carenas did not prevent corruption.
Instead, it prompted the exodus of a number of skilled workers to
non-agricultural cooperatives, where they reportedly receive "better
incentives."

Jorge, a 58-year-old freelance civil engineer, says that in the Historic
Center tenders are awarded to "construction cooperatives." The
professionals who run them operate as figureheads for some bigwigs who
benefit from the profits from these contracts. "Perla Rosales —daughter
of General Ulises Rosales del Toro— is part of that 'gallery'," he says.

Once upon a time in Habaguanex

The festival of corruption at the Office of the Historian reached its
peak "when Meici Weiss rose from the administrator of the Hotel Ambos
Mundos to the general manager of Habaguanex S.A.," says a 62-year-old
former worker at the conglomerate, who requested anonymity and said she
had been a "victim of said administration."

Weiss set up a bureaucratic model that functioned as a criminal
organization and "crushed" employees who refused to get involved in the
"shenanigans." The manager surrounded himself with subordinates that
many called "the untouchables." The bosses enjoyed impunity as they sold
their influence for personal gain, and obtained Schengen visas.

According to previous investigations, in mid-2012 Yoagniel Pérez Ramos,
then manager of the Cervecería Factoría, located in the Plaza Vieja of
the Historic Centre, was arrested right out on the street on suspicion
of "illicit enrichment", among other crimes, unleashing a wave of
arrests that rolled through other divisions of Habaguanex.

Weiss and his entourage were dismissed and subjected to investigations
by the General Controller of the Republic and the Criminal
Investigations Division (DIC). "But shit was found at levels so high
that the process had to be swept under the rug," according to an auditor
who asked not to be identified.

An old case was immediately dusted off against Yoagniel Pérez, for
embezzlement, after the carrying out of an audit - four years earlier -
at the facilities of Habaguanex S.A. (the former military headquarters
of San Ambrosio), where he was second in command.

According to Ruling number 47 of 2014, issued by the People's Provincial
Court of Havana, in case 214/2013, Yoagniel was prosecuted for the crime
of bribery, for paying to obtain a dismissal of the case based on a
"lack of evidence" in case 635/2008.

The lawyers bribed with payments of between 2.000 and 200 CUC, other
favors, and gifts at Factoría, were Osvaldo Fernández Guerra, deputy
director of the Dirección de Bufetes Colectivos (Directorate of
Collective Law Firms) in the capital; Lucía Pérez Fernández, provincial
coordinator of the Centro de Desarrollo de Bufetes Colectivos (Center
for the Development of Collective Law Firms); Mildreda Planas Durruthy,
chief prosecutor of Old Havana; and Marisol García Castillo, prosecutor
of the Old Havana municipal prosecutor's office.

Along with Yoagniel, those involved were sentenced to between 5 and 15
years in prison, property seizures, suspension of their professional
activity, and the retention of their passports until their sanctions
expire. Today Yoagniel is the only one who remains behind bars.

"If Yoagniel, a simple culinary manager, was able to bribe a group of
justice system officials, then what could have been achieved by others
with better positions? People like Meici Weiss, also the mother of Meici
Bolaños Weiss, Deputy Minister of Finance and Prices?" asks Ricardo, 54,
a former clerk at Habaguanex.

The official press refrained from informing the public about the
fissures in the justice system and the corruption at Habaguanex. Ten
months later, Eusebio Leal Spengler, incredibly untouched by the
scandal, ceded control of the commercial conglomerate to the Council of
Ministers, via Decree/Law 325/2014.

Two years after the handover, the real estate company Fenix ​​S.A. -
under the command of the military - took charge of the administration of
the San José Cultural Center, where, according to complaints by the
self-employed artisans there, there were irregularities in the sale of
stands, with prices ranging from 8,000 to 120.000 CUC.

Lázaro, age 42, a former worker at the store at Neptuno and Águila,
cites another example of the corruption at the commercial conglomerate,
where Communist Party higher-ups looked the other way and let the
mischief continue, at the same time taking on roles as "sales agents,"
demanding from management the purchase of a bust of José Martí for 240
CUC, to erect a corner honoring the historic figure in each unit (more
than 315), for a total investment of 76.000 CUC. The purchase was to be
made at the store of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of
Cuba, located at Belascoaín and Desagüe, in the center of Havana.

"There are no surprises," Lázaro says. "When GAESA applies coercive
measures against those who serve drinks at bars, make up the rooms at
hostels, charge customers at markets, and shovel concrete at building
sites, it is because that is the nature of the system: taking advantage
of the weakest and then turning a blind eye to the worst offenders, who
are daddy's boys, crooks dressed up fancy, and card-carrying members of
the Party."

Source: The true face of GAESA in Havana's Historic Quarter | Diario de
Cuba - http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498122564_32035.html

Trump Gets It Right

Editorial: Trump Gets It Right
DDC | Madrid | 22 de Junio de 2017 - 11:23 CEST.

In his speech in Miami, US President Donald Trump rightly divided Cuban
society into two groups: the military and the people. And his criticism
of the regime did not center on its ideology, on the single party, or
even on Raúl Castro. Rather, he pointed directly at the military junta,
and therein lies the greatest difference with Obama's policy.

As he acknowledged, the aim of his new policy is to benefit the people
of Cuba by depriving the military of opportunities, an approach that
recognizes the corruption in Cuba's army and Cuban intelligence and
security services, capable of dominating all the economic exchange
between Cuba and the US in its effort to establish a monopoly.

Referring to the need for Venezuela to democratize, the US president
conveyed another message to the Island's military by referring not only
to its economic corruption, but also its responsibility for the
political repression in the South American country.

Donald Trump declared his respect for Cuba's sovereignty, made clear
that his Administration has cards in its hands, that the US embassy
remains open, and that it is willing to sit down at the negotiating table.

Source: Editorial: Trump Gets It Right | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498123431_32038.html

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching

Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching
Andrew Bender , CONTRIBUTOR
I delve into the business of business travel, and often the fun too.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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."

While it's not exactly a cancellation, what it is is, at this stage,
unclear.

"There are a zillion contradictions," says Julia Sweig, senior research
fellow and Cuba expert at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
at the University of Texas. "There is no policy or legal coherence to
what they have announced."

For example, American tour operators, cruise ships and airlines will
still technically be able to operate into Cuba, and U.S. citizens can
still purchase and bring home Cuban products like rum and cigars; both
of these were off limits before the Obama administration relaxed rules
in 2014. But the new policies put in two important restrictions:
- Make it illegal for Americans to patronize facilities related to the
Cuban military, and
- Make individual travel to Cuba far more difficult for Americans.

Currently this is through a program known as people-to-people.
The military issue first. "The state-run tourism organization, GAVIOTA,
is owned by the Cuban military, and it owns the majority of tourism
infrastructure on the island," says Marguerite Fitzgerald, a partner at
the Miami office of Boston Consulting Group in Miami and the author of
BCG's report on Cuban tourism. "Americans will not be allowed to stay in
Cuban hotels, take Cuban buses or rent cars."

Meanwhile, the cutback in individual tourism will mean that Cuba's
growing network of home stays will take a hit. Airbnb says that 560,000
guests have paid some $40 million to private hosts around Cuba since the
company entered the market in April 2015. This in a country where,
Airbnb says, the average monthly wage is $30. This year, Cuba has been
Airbnb's ninth-largest market for Americans heading abroad.

The announcement from the White House directs the Departments of
Commerce and the Treasury to come up with regulations within 30 days.
But, Sweig says, "I expect that when the regulators try to write the new
regulations, they will become mired down."

"I guess the Trump people will publish a map of Cuba with all of the
places Americans won't be able to go to buy a bottle of water, to sleep,
etc.," she adds.

Meanwhile, tour and travel operators are in limbo. "It remains to be
seen which travel companies, cruise lines and tour providers will be
able to successfully navigate the new regulations and which will cease
their operations in Cuba," says Jennine Cohen, managing director for the
Americas at San Francisco-based Geographic Expeditions, which has
operated tours to Cuba for 17 years.

"GeoEx works primarily with small and charming B&Bs, which have no
connection to the Cuban military and should not be affected," she says.

More long term, Cohen says, "As we have successfully operated trips on
and off since 2000, we have adhered to [the U.S. government's] changing
policies and enforcement over time and will continue to do so."

Source: Trump's Cuba Travel Policy Leaves Heads Scratching -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2017/06/20/trumps-cuba-travel-policy-leaves-heads-scratching/#2f5717966fef

Will New Cuba Travel Policy Hurt U.S. Airlines?

Will New Cuba Travel Policy Hurt U.S. Airlines?
Zacks Equity Research

On Jun 16, President Trump announced some changes to current U.S. policy
on Cuba, which were put into action by his predecessor Barack Obama. The
new policy is in line with Trump's promise during the campaigning phase.
In fact, Trump had reportedly tweeted in November last year that he
might terminate the deal, inked by Obama, in the event of Cuba not doing
enough for its people.

Even though, he did not scrap the entire deal, the President announced
certain changes in inline with his "America First" principle. Moving
ahead, the new administration aims to restrict the flow of US money
flowing into the oppressive Cuban military regime. Also, the new policy
is dedicated to betterment of the Cuban people by pressurizing the
island's government to broaden the private sector and reduce the
military's interference in every profitable unit of the country.

In fact, to keep the Cuban military at bay, the President's policy aims
to do away with travel directed toward benefitting the military,
intelligence or security services of the island nation. Under the new
restrictions, travel to Cuba on an individual basis would not be
allowed. Even though individual travel has been banned, group travel is
allowed.

A Brief Flashback

In 2014, President Obama had called for the restoration of diplomatic
ties with Cuba after more than 50 years. As part of that process, travel
restrictions were eased. Subsequently, many U.S. airlines started
operating commercial scheduled flights to Cuba.

In Jun 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized six
U.S.-based carriers to operate scheduled flights to nine second-tier
Cuban cities. The first scheduled commercial flight to Cuba from the
U.S. was operated by JetBlue Airways JBLU.

JetBlue Airways carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete
list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Notably, the approval to fly to Havana came two months later in August.
The Havana routes were highly in demand among the US carriers as they
collectively applied for the approval to operate nearly 60 flights to
Havana on a daily basis. The erstwhile agreement with Obama allowed for
only 20 daily roundtrip flights between the nations.

Would Individual Travel Ban Hurt Airlines?

Currently, the likes of American Airlines Group AAL, United Continental
Holdings UAL, Delta Air Lines DAL, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines
LUV and Alaska Air Group ALK operate scheduled commercial flights to
Cuba. But following the revised order on Cuba, the carriers have adopted
a wait and watch policy regarding their operations to the nation.

Airline heavyweights like Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have
reportedly said that while their existing operations to the nation would
continue, they would abide by any changes that might take place
following the announcement of the new policy.

We note that the travel demand to Cuba had fallen short of expectations.
Consequently, the likes of American Airlines trimmed their services to
the nation. Lower-than-expected demand also caused the likes of Spirit
Airlines SAVE and Frontier Airlines to terminate flights to the nation.
Despite this factor, the new policy to ban individual travel is likely
to hurt the top line of the US carriers operating in the country to some
extent.

In fact, a recent Reuters report had suggested that cruise operators and
airlines in the US could lose approximately $712 million in revenues on
an annual basis, if Obama's policy was entirely reversed. While the
entire policy has not been consigned to flames by the new US government,
the prohibition on individual travel to the country might still shrink
the revenues of carriers (through lower travel demand) operating in
Cuba, a popular tourist destination.

However, only time will tell the extent to which revenues are actually
hurt. Consequently, we expect investor focus to remain on the issue,
going forward

Source: Will New Cuba Travel Policy Hurt U.S. Airlines? -
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/topstocks/will-new-cuba-travel-policy-hurt-us-airlines/ar-BBCU9p2

Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't take effect soon

Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't take effect soon
Bart Jansen , USA TODAY Published 4:29 p.m. ET June 16, 2017 | Updated
5:49 p.m. ET June 16, 2017

Travel to Cuba won't be changing soon.

While President Trump announced Friday that he is "immediately"
canceling Obama's deal with Cuba, the reversal relies on regulations
that could take months — or years — to finalize.

Trump said he will strictly enforce the prohibition against Cuban travel
for tourism using rules that provide only 12 reasons, such as family
visits, educational activities and athletic competitions, for
entering the country.

"Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law," Trump said.
"We will enforce the ban on tourism."

Ultimately, Trump proposed to block travel that benefits the Cuban
military, intelligence or security services. In order to accomplish
that, individual travel would be prohibited — people visiting the
country would need to go in groups.

The detailed regulatory proposals weren't released Friday. Trump's
national security memo on Cuba asked the departments of Treasury and
State to develop regulations within 30 days. The rules would then be
published for public comment and possible revisions.

The Treasury Department, which licenses Cuba travel, said in a statement
that individual travel will no longer be allowed for purposes such as
education under pursuit of an academic degree. "The traveler's schedule
of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess," the
department said.

Instead, the department will authorize group travel under the auspices
of an organization that maintains a full-time schedule of activities
that enhance contact with Cuban people, support civil society and
promote independence from Cuban authorities.

Airlines competed to provide flights after the Obama administration
initiated a resumption in diplomatic relations between the countries for
the first time in more than 50 years. Airlines had provided charter
flights for decades, but the restoration of ties allowed the resumption
of scheduled service considered key for business and personal ties.

JetBlue Airways pioneered flights in August to Santa Clara and other
airlines followed suit, with the first flights to Havana in November.

"JetBlue is committed to continuing air service between the U.S. and
Cuba. We plan to operate in full compliance of the new president's new
policy," JetBlue said in a statement Friday.

But with sluggish sales, some airlines have reduced the number of routes
and three carriers – Spirit, Frontier and Silver – have abandoned the
routes for now.

The remaining airlines are studying Trump's proposal while continuing to
fly.

"We are currently reviewing these policy changes and will continue to
follow this closely," said Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United Airlines.

Delta Air Lines said it would continue to fly non-stop to Havana from
New York's John F. Kennedy, Atlanta and Miami.

"Delta Air Lines will adhere to any changes in the regulations announced
by the Trump administration regarding travel to Cuba," the carrier said.

Leigh Barnes, regional director for Intrepid Travel, a tour company
which has brought 714 American passengers to Cuba in 47 trips since
2015, said tour operators would face stricter government audits about
travelers belonging to the 12 allowed categories. But Barnes expected
airlines to continue scheduled flights to Cuba, rather than revert to
charter flights, as travelers adapt their plans to join person-to-person
tour groups.

"While demand for commercial flights remains to be seen, historically,
the airlines have done well to manage their yields by shifting to
smaller planes or slightly lower frequency of departures," Barnes said.
"There are still a lot of meaningful tourism offerings for American
travelers. We expect airlines to keep servicing these routes and we are
excited to continue welcoming American travelers to Cuba."

Source: President Trump's travel changes for Cuba won't be immediate -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/cuba-travel-airlines/102926572/

How to get off the eaten track in Santiago de Cuba

How to get off the eaten track in Santiago de Cuba
A trip to Santiago de Cuba should start with dinner at a paladar
(family-run restaurant) and end with drinks on the roof of the Hotel
Casa Granda.
By JENNIFER BAIN Travel Editor
Wed., June 21, 2017

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA-Ramon Guilarte welcomes us to his home and
restaurant with a cocktail full of vitamin R. Will it be a Cuba Libre,
rum and cola, or Estacazo, rum and lemonade? Rum is ridiculously cheap here.

Esta Caso seems more fun, thanks to our host's animated explanation
(some of it lost in translation) about how drinking this is like getting
whacked with a stick. As we dig into platters of mango, papaya and
pineapple, Guilarte opens a bottle of rum and pours a little on the
ground as an offering to the saints for good luck, and then asks us each
how big a "stick" we want in our drinks.

"Don't expect a common restaurant," he warns with a theatrical flourish.
"Everybody that comes to the restaurant is a friend. I think it's
important that you feel like home — and these are not empty words."

La Fondita de Compay Ramon is a paladar, a family-run restaurant that
boosts the economy and gives tourists and locals the chance to connect.
At this farm-themed paladar we sit in cowhide "taburete" chairs found in
typical farms and our host is dressed like a traditional farmer.

In between a stunning red kidney bean soup and unpretentious platters
full of rice, pork, cabbage, shrimp, chicken and plantains, we learn
that Guilarte is a painter and empty nester with two daughters and two
grandchildren.

"Painting, and the life of a painter, is very lonely. Painting is
totally opposite to this business." He opened Compay Ramon in 2012 in
the Ferrerido neighbourhood of Cuba's second largest city. His
neighbours don't mind the nightly commotion, maybe because they often
get to share the leftovers.

"Best food in Cuba," according to "the Intrepid Group" in one of the
many accolades scrawled artfully on the wall and dated Dec. 16, just
weeks after Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro died and weeks before my
first visit to Canada's favourite Caribbean island.

You'll find plenty of online accolades for our enthusiastic host. "Ramon
is a character," allows our Cubatur guide and translator Ricardo
Zaldivar Rodriguez, "but this is not a show."

I duck down the hall into the tiny kitchen to meet Guilarte's smiling
wife Mayra Gayoso Romaguera and her helper, who is washing dishes by
hand. I peek at a modest bedroom.

My first night in Cuba ends with a stewed green papaya dessert and
Guilarte showing how to roast coffee beans and brew coffee the
traditional way and then sharing a cigar.

Santiago de Cuba, with half a million people, is often described as "the
hottest city in Cuba" because of its temperature and charm.

We cram a lot into a whirlwind day — historic sites like the Santa
Ifgenia cemetery, where Castro's ashes are marked by a large rock from
the Sierra Maestra mountains, and where national hero/poet Jose Marti
has an elaborate mausoleum. People bring them red and white roses
respectively.

We hit Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, a former fort/prison called
Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, and a Catholic church with a sacred
Virgin of Charity statue called El Cobre near a copper mine. I buy a
bundle of copper-tinged rocks from a guy in the parking lot.

Cubans make the most of what they are given. There is virtually no waste
here — public garbage cans are nearly always empty.

I'm more curious about the present than the past and so relish the
chance to wander down Calle Enramada, a pedestrian street where I don't
have time to join the lineup for hot churros.

"If you don't mention this street name," says Rodriguez, "it might be
said that you have never been to Santiago de Cuba."

At La Barrita Ron Caney, a bar by a rum factory, I sample seven-year-old
rum, smelling it with closed eyes, tilting the glass to see the body and
holding a sip in my throat while the house band plays traditional Cuban
music.

There is music everywhere, in Plaza de Dolores, in Casa de la Trova Pepe
Sanchez, and at Tropicana, an outpost of Havana's famed cabaret.

"When we hear music, we start dancing," says Rodriguez, who sings and
dances throughout our week together.

At Restaurante Matamoros, the chef pops out of the kitchen to join the
band while we enjoy a soupy meat and vegetable stew called ajiaco. After
dinner we have coffee nearby at Café Constantin, where my Bembito Bomban
is a cheeky reference to Afro-Cuban women and combines coffee, cacao
liqueur and cinnamon.

Cuba is changing, so you will mix and match old and new.

Melia Santiago de Cuba is new, glitzy and a short drive from the
historic centre, with decent Wi-Fi (a very big deal), a pool, and a
breakfast buffet, where I wrapped thin slices of cheese around chunks of
guava paste.

In the heart of downtown, Hotel Casa Granda oozes colonial charm, with a
breezy rooftop restaurant and sweeping city views. For my last meal, I
had a Cuban sandwich (an American invention) and a local spin on
pepperoni pizza (forgive me).

It was no Fondita de Compay Ramon, but it was still equally, magically
Cuban.

Jennifer Bain was hosted by the Cuba Tourist Board, which didn't review
or approve this story.

When you go

Get there: I flew Cubana de Aviacion airlines (www.cubana.cu ) direct to
Santiago de Cuba and flew home with a stop in Camaguey. WestJet, Air
Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing all fly to various spots in Cuba.

Get around: It's easy to take taxis around Santiago de Cuba, but if you
have a driver and guide (like I did with Cubatur), you'll have the bonus
of a translator/fixer.

Stay: I stayed at the modern Melia Santiago de Cuba (melia.com).

Eat: Find La Fondita de Compay Ramon on Facebook.

Know: You can only buy Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) in Cuba and can't
exchange them at the end of your trip. Get them at the airport and
foreign exchange shops. Wi-Fi is limited to public squares and some
hotel lobbies. Buy a 60-minute Wi-Fi card for 2 CUC (about $2.75
Canadian) at the airport or your hotel. North American plugs don't work
so bring an adaptor for the European 220-volt system.

Source: How to get off the eaten track in Santiago de Cuba | Toronto
Star -
https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2017/06/21/how-to-get-off-the-eaten-track-in-santiago-de-cuba.html

Vancouver skateboarder helps spread sport in Cuba

Vancouver skateboarder helps spread sport in Cuba
Norma Ibarra is on her 2nd trip to Cuba to donate boards from Vancouver
CBC News Posted: Jun 20, 2017 7:55 AM PT Last Updated: Jun 20, 2017 7:55
AM PT

For a country with no skate shops, Cuba's skateboarding scene is
incredibly vibrant.

That's what Vancouver skateboarder and photographer Norma Ibarra says.
She is in Havana to photograph the people who are part of that scene and
to donate 10 skateboards.

Contest brings world's top skateboarders to Vancouver
"Skateboarding is still considered something rebellious. The kids get in
trouble if they skate in certain areas, so it's sort of illegal," she
told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"The kids have to wait for people from all over the world to bring stuff
so they can skate. The kids who want to get into it have to wait until
someone decides to give them a skateboard. So it's tricky."

Port Alberni skateboarder raising money for new park
She says Cubans also have no way of replacing lost or damaged gear,
which means even when skateboards are donated, they sometimes don't last
long.

Few skate parks as well

Ibarra's donated skateboards are from Vancouver's skate community and
she plans to donate them mainly to girls in Cuba.

Skateboarding helped her in her own life, and she wants to pass that on
to girls in Cuba.

"The challenges, and the rewards that you get when you know that you're
progressing, it's really good," she said.

Ibarra says she's not the only one working to spread the sport in Cuba.
Some work on building do-it-yourself skateparks which are tricky to
develop in the one-party state.

Victoria skateboarding ban lifted
"There's a couple of street spots, but they have to skate at certain
times when the police aren't around," she said. "You always find a way."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

Source: Vancouver skateboarder helps spread sport in Cuba - British
Columbia - CBC News -
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-skateboarding-cuba-1.4168635

Trump’s Fault?

Trump's Fault?
ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA | Ciudad de México | 21 de Junio de 2017 - 10:47 CEST.

Donald Trump's announcement of an alteration of his country's policies
towards Cuba caused a great stir. Despite its limited scope - in terms
of affecting Obama's legacy and the foreseeable impact of the measures -
adversaries and officials in Havana were quick to applaud or condemn
Trump's move. For some it represents a firm stance in the face of the
enduring communist dictatorship, while for others it constitutes an
imperialist aggression against national sovereignty.

However, it would be worth taking a good look at the Cuban government's
recent decisions and actions in order to more fairly assess Washington's
degree of responsibility for internal dynamics on the Island. Despite
the scant confidence in Cuba's national sovereignty that this perception
denotes, an impression shared by both pro-government figures and members
of the opposition alike, the truth is that the facts speak for themselves.

Let us look at the socio-economic sphere. Is the Treasury Department
responsible for failing to achieve the promised monetary unification and
appreciation of the peso, the cause of the famous economic recession of
2016? Is the Federal Reserve to blame for the credit and tax policies
stifling the potential of Cuban entrepreneurs? Is the US National Park
Service responsible for Cuba's ineffective measures and their failure to
reverse environmental degradation? Are Betsy DeVos and Tom Price to be
held directly responsible for the deficient coverage and low quality of
the island's education and health systems?

Let us look at the political arena. Are Homeland Security agents
responsible for the regime's repressive strategy that has imposed severe
prison stays (and not just brief detentions, as some Cubans claim) on
more than 150 opposition activists, including a large number of poor,
black peasant women? Was it the FBI that recently expelled faculty and
students from Cuban universities (including several socialists) because
they were critical of the government? Is the US Attorney General
providing counsel, in silence and without taking into account citizens'
demands and proposals, for the elite's clandestine revision of the Cuban
Constitution and Electoral Law? Is the CIA, in a display of its
expertise in subversion and coups, supporting Nicolás Maduro's current
assault upon the Bolivarian Constitution and democracy? Is it the
Pentagon and the NSA that are strengthening ties between the FAR and the
North Korean army (including the sale of UN-prohibited weapons) and
between the MININT and Russian intelligence services?

The above are just some of the actions and results of the Cuban
government in recent years in response to Obama's less restrictive
policies. They indicate that Trump's measures are not responsible for
the course chosen by Havana. The regime's tightening of control,
vis-a-vis the opening up is, as a sociologist would say, an independent
variable. The recent crackdown has more to do with the fundamental
makeup of the Cuban regime than a set of sanctions that can be
summarized with a popular saying: much ado about nothing.

This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It
is published here with the author's permission.

Source: Trump's Fault? | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498034856_32010.html

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba

Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 8 June 2017 — The die is cast. At the special session of
the National Assembly of People's Power held on May 31 and June 1 at the
Palace of Conventions, delegates have, as expected, approved the
economic plan for 2016 to 2021 and a national plan for economic and
social development for 2030.

Were it not so serious, it would seem like a sketch from the late night
American comedy show "Saturday Night Live," especially since the
parliamentary debates were more farcical than rational.

Numerous "discussions" were televised. Not even Pánfilo — an elderly
character created by the famous Cuban comedian Luis Silva and a man
obsessed with his ration book — generates as many contradictions and
absurdities.

Committees made up of so-called peoples' representatives held debates,
attempted to change one word in a paragraph, tweaked a concept and
championed trivialities in order to justify two days of meetings in an
air-conditioned facility where attendees were provided with breakfast,
lunch and dinner along with breaks for coffee and mineral water.

Mercenaries of a different kind. No parliamentarian asked the recently
reappointed economics and planning minister, Marino Murillo, to specify
just how much capital one would be allowed to accumulate in Cuba. In
other words, how rich could one be?

A few official reports offer some clues. The regime is already preparing
a series of measures aimed at limiting or restricting the prosperity of
citizens and small business owners.

Lucio, an economist, believes that, "in addition to legal restrictions,
they will issue repressive rulings and adopt tax provisions to curtail
wealth. Those who accumulate certain sums of money that the government
considers excessive will be subject to a severe fiscal knife. In the
worst cases, they will face forfeiture or criminal sanctions. I see no
other way to curtail the accumulation of capital."

There is a dreadful incongruity to the new legislative stew. While the
island's ruling military junta grants approval and legal status to
private businesses, it also uses a range of prohibitions to limit their
growth and to prevent them from prospering or making money.

The island's chieftains are paralyzed by fear that the state will lose
its control over society.

They are worried that, as successful mid-size businesses grow, they will
move large sums of money that could exceed a million dollars and create
supply chains that will benefit society.

Or that the owner of a restaurant will open two or three branches,
expanding within the same city or into other provinces, and acquire a
million dollars or more in funding through bank loans or other sources.

Of course, if a private businessman plays his cards right, he will do
well, even earning annual profits in the six figures. That is the basis
of national economic growth. As long as they respect the law and pay
their taxes, bring on successful private business ventures!

But the government has a specific strategy. The only companies that may
accumulate millions of dollars and enter into joint-ventures with
foreign firms are state-owned enterprises. In other words, GAESA-style
military-run conglomerates or others of the same ilk. It is the state
playing with capitalism.

I did not hear any voices in the boring, monotone Cuban parliament
asking for explanations or details about how Gaviota and Rafin's
multi-million dollar earnings would ultimately be used.*

By 2020 Gaviota will operate 50,000 hotel rooms as well as marinas, golf
courses and stores. Within the next ten years the military-run
conglomerate will become the largest hotel group in the Americas yet the
whereabouts of its revenues are unknown.

Rafin, which according to sources is an acronym for Raúl and Fidel
Investments, is an opaque corporation in a country with a planned
economy that has never stated publicly what its sources of capital are.

This mysterious company bought Telecom Italia's stake in a joint venture
with the Cuban government that was intended to modernize the state-owned
telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. Rafin is now the sole owner of ETECSA.

What is it doing with its multi-million dollar profits? Are
parliamentary deputies not concerned that ETECSA has not created a
social fund to benefit primary, secondary and pre-university schools,
whose makeshift computer labs lack internet access?

Furthermore, they did not complain about the high prices ETECSA charges
for its mobile phone, wifi and internet services, a subject much
discussed in online discussions sponsored by official media outlets and
about which readers have expressed their frustration. Or about the
alarming prices for goods sold at hard currency retail stores. Or, even
more scandalous, the prices of cars on display in large, well-lit showrooms.

Nor did any parliamentarians demand that state-run companies lower the
prices of household appliances, televisions and smartphones at places
like the Samsung store on 3rd Avenue and 70th Street in Miramar in
western Havana, where a Galaxy S7 edge costs the equivalent of $1,300
and a seventy-inch 4K television goes for around $5,000.

The fact that the state is planning the lives of its citizens through
2030 seems like science fiction when no one knows how we will make it
even to year's end. The average Cuban pays no attention to parliamentary
debates or to party politics.

People often look the other way. Apathy, dissimulation and indifference
to national affairs pave the way for regime's excesses.

Workers attend labor union meetings where, without giving them any
thought, they approve economic proposals they do not want and do not
understand. And in their neighborhoods and districts, they vote
mechanically for candidates to the National Assembly who solve nothing.
Cuba has become a nation of domesticated zombies.

Everyone complains quietly at home to his or her family members,
neighbors and friends. But in workplaces and schools, they feign loyalty
to the government, especially when it comes time to have a document
approved or to vote in sterile elections. We have gotten what we deserve.

Deng Xiaoping, a diehard communist and father of China's economic
reforms, understood that making money was neither shameful nor a crime.
"It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white. What matters is if
catches mice," he said in 1960. In Cuba's dictatorship, the cat wears
olive green battle fatigues.

*Translator's note: Gaviota operates a chain of tourist hotels
throughout the island and offers other tourism related services.
According to Bloomberg, Rafin SA "operates as a diversified financial
services company." In 2011 it bought Telecom Italia's 27% stake in the
Cuban state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA for $706 million.

Source: Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/being-rich-is-banned-in-cuba-ivn-garca/

Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump’s Cuba Policy

Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2017 – Over the weekend the
official media have repeated ad nauseam the declaration of the
government in response to Donald Trump's speech about his policy toward
Cuba. The declaration's rhetoric recalls the years before the diplomatic
thaw, when political propaganda revolved around confrontation with our
neighbor to the north.

Beyond these words, many on the island are breathing a sigh of relief
because the main steps taken by Barack Obama will not be reversed. The
remittances on which so many families depend will not be cut, nor will
the American Embassy in Havana be closed.

On the streets of Cuba, life continues its slow march, far from what was
said at the Artime Theater in Miami and published by the Plaza of the
Revolution.

Julia Borroto put a bottle of water in the freezer on Saturday to be
ready for the line he expects to find waiting for him Monday outside the
United States Embassy. This 73-year-old from Camagüey, who arrived in
the capital just after Trump's speech, remembers that Trump had said "he
was going to put an end to the visas and travel, but I see that it isn't
so."

The retiree also had another concern: the reactivation of the wet
foot/dry foot policy eliminated by Obama last January. "I have two
children who were plotting to go to sea. I just sent them a message to
forget about it."

The hopes of many frustrated rafters were counting on the magnate to
restore the migratory privileges that Cubans enjoyed for more than two
decades, but Trump defrauded them. Hundreds of migrants from the island
who have been trapped in Central America on their way to the US were
also waiting for that gesture that did not arrive.

Among the self-employed, concern is palpable. Homeowners who rent to
tourists and private restaurant owners regret that the new policy will
lead to a decline in American tourists on the island. The so-called
yumas are highly desired in the private sector, especially for their
generous tips.

Mary, who runs a lodging business in Old Havana, is worried. "Since the
Americans began to come, I hardly have a day with empty rooms." She had
made plans on the basis of greater flexibilities and hoped "to open up
more to tourism."

On national television there is a flood of "indignant responses from the
people" including no shortage of allusions to sovereignty, dignity and
"the unwavering will to continue on the path despite difficulties." The
Castro regime is seizing the opportunity to reactivate the dormant
propaganda machinery that had been missing its main protagonist: the enemy.

However, away from the official microphones people are indifferent or
discontented with what happened. A pedicab driver swears not to know
what they are talking about when he is asked about Friday's
announcements, and a retiree limits himself to commenting, "Those people
who applaud Trump in Miami no longer remember when they were here
standing in line for bread."

Of the thirteen activists who met with Barack Obama during his trip to
Havana, at least five expressed opinions to this newspaper about the
importance of the new policy towards Cuba.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was
at that table in March 2016 and was also mentioned on this occasion by
Donald Trump during his speech. The activist had planned to be in Miami
for the occasion, but at the airport in Holguin was denied exit and was
subsequently arrested.

"It is the speech that had to be given and the person who could have
avoided it is Raul Castro," the former political prisoner asserts
categorically. Ferrer believes that Obama did the right thing whenhe
began a new era in relations between the two countries but "the Castro
regime's response was to bite the hand that was extended to it."

In the opinion of the opposition leader, in the last 20 months
repression has multiplied and "it was obvious that a different medicine
had to be administered" because "a dictatorship like this should not be
rewarded, it should be punished and more so when it was given the
opportunity to improve its behavior and did not do so."

Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, was also prevented from
flying to Miami to attend the event. For her, the words of the American
president were clear and "if the Cuban regime accepts the conditions
that Donald Trump has imposed on it, Cuba will begin to change."

Soler believes that the Cuban government's response is aimed at
confusing the people, who "do not know exactly what is going on." She
says that Trump wants to maintain business with Cuba "but not with the
military, but directly with the people," something that the official
press has not explained.

Opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who manages the platform #Otro18 (Another
2018), is blunt and points out that "returning to failed policies is the
best way to guarantee failure." The measures announced by Trump, in his
opinion, do not help the changes, and they once again give the Cuban
government "the excuse to show its repressive nature."

The dissident believes that the new policy tries to return the debate on
democracy on the island to the scenario of conflict between Cuba and the
United States, "just when it was beginning to refocus the national
scenario on communication between the Cuban State and its citizens,
which is where it needs to be."

The director of the magazine Convivencia, Dagoberto Valdés, believes
that there is a remarkable difference between the discourse itself
"which seems a return to the past with the use of a language of
confrontation, and the so-called concrete measures that have been taken."

For Valdés there is no major reversal of Obama's policy. "The trips of
the Cuban Americans, the embassy, ​​the remittances are maintained… and
the possibility of a negotiating table remains open when the Cuban
Government makes reforms related to human rights."

Journalist Miriam Celaya predicted that the speech would not be "what
the most radical in Miami and the so-called hard line of the Cuban
opposition expected. What is coming is a process and it does not mean
that from tomorrow no more Americans will come to the Island and that
negotiations of all kinds are finished," she says.

In her usual poignant style, she adds that "regardless of all the
fanfare and the bells and whistles, regardless of how abundant the
smiles, and no matter how much people laughed at Trump's jokes, it
doesn't seem that the changes are going to be as promising as those who
are proclaiming that it's all over for the government."

Celaya sheds light on the fact that the official statement of the Cuban
government "manifests its intention to maintain dialogue and relations
within the framework of respect." This is a great difference with other
times when a speech like that "would have provoked a 'march of the
fighting people' and a military mobilization."

Instead, officialdom has opted for declarations and revolutionary
slogans in the national media. But in the streets, that rhetoric is just
silent. "People are tired of all this history," says a fisherman on the
Havana Malecon. "There is no one who can fix it, but no one who can sink
it."

Source: Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/consensus-and-dissent-in-the-face-of-trumps-cuba-policy/

Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy

Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy
By TERESA FRONTADO & NANCY KLINGENER & ADRIANNE GONZALEZ & HOLLY PRETSKY
& ISABELLA CUETO • JUN 16, 2017

President Donald Trump Friday announced new restrictions on travel and
business with Cuba, reversing some of the relaxed new relations
instituted two years ago by President Barack Obama.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's
completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior
administration's terrible deal with the Castro regime," he said "They
made a deal with a government that spreads violence and instability in
the region."

"Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the
United States of America," he said. "Our new policy begins with strictly
enforcing U.S. law."

He also called for the release of political prisoners and the scheduling
of free elections.

"We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo," he said.

"We now hold the cards. The previous administration's easing of
restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They
only enrich the Cuban regime," he said. "The profits from investment and
tourism flowed directly to the military."

The new moves primarily affect anyone doing business with the Cuban
military, which controls some of the major tourism infrastructure in the
country, as well as individual travelers who were able to visit the
country more freely under "people-to-people" exchanges.

Trump announced the changes in front of a supportive crowd at the Manuel
Artime Theater in the heart of Little Havana. The theater is named in
honor of a leader of Brigade 2506, who participated in the Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in April 1961.

"We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this
long reign of suffering to an end," Trump said. "And I do believe that
end is in the very near future."

He challenged Cuba to "come to the table" for a new agreement that was
in the best interest "of their people and our people and also
Cuban-Americans."

"Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic
freedoms," he said. "Return the fugitives of American justice."

"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 and Americans," he said. "Our embassy remains
open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better
path."

Praise from Florida politicians

Sen. Marco Rubio praised his onetime rival for the Republican
Presidential nomination.

"You will no longer have to endure the spectacle of an American
president doing the wave with a ruthless dictator in a baseball game,"
Rubio said, referring to Obama's historic visit to Cuba last year.

"This sends a strong message," Rubio said. "We will work with the people
of Cuba but we will not empower their oppressors."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also praised Trump's changed position.

"Today we have a president that understands America must stand for
freedom," Scott said. He said Obama's deal with Cuba was "a capitulation."

Trump's new directive leaves many of the Obama-era policies unchanged.
The new embassies in Cuba and Washington, D.C. will remain open and the
wet-foot dry-foot policy will not be reinstated. Cuban-Americans will
continue to be able to travel to the island and send remittances to
their families still in Cuba.

The crowd at the theater in Little Havana were appreciative of Trump.
Fermin Vazquez was born in Cuba and has been a U.S. citizen for 40
years. He arrived at 6:45 a.m. to be first in line. "I would follow
Trump everywhere," he said.

At Versailles, the restaurant on Calle Ocho that has become a
traditional gathering point when Cuba is in the national news, some
exiles passionately debated the U.S. policy toward the island:

Oswaldo Inguanzo, 80, a veteran from Brigade 2506, was part of the group
that met with candidate Trump last year to discuss Cuba and America's
approach to the island.

"The Brigade had never supported a presidential candidate before," he
said. "But we sent two letters, one to the then-President Obama, who
didn't even acknowledge us, and the other to Trump, who immediately
accepted."

"He didn't disappoint me," Inguanzo said after Trump's speech. "I felt
he was sincere, so I came here today to see that he fulfills his promise."

Outside near the theater, people began gathering hours before Trump
arrived. Some waited out the rain under awnings and overhangs. Others
allowed themselves to be soaked.

'The Cuban people are the ones that are going to be harmed'

Marla Recio said she has a business in Cuba called Havana Reverie. It
organizes weddings, birthday parties and corporate events for visiting
Americans in Cuba.

"If he decreases travel and cuts that out completely, that means the end
of my business. I'll have to do something else in another different
industry. Right now, most of Cuban entrepreneurs are relying a lot on
American visitors," she said. "The Cuban people are the ones that are
going to be harmed, the ones that are going to suffer. And all of the
families that depend on those businesses."

Ernesto Medina is with the People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade.

"I think what President Trump is doing, rolling back the policy that
President Obama implemented, it's going to hurt business in Cuba," he
said. "A lot of jobs have been created in the private sector to serve
the people traveling to Cuba. That increases the prosperity of the Cuban
people, which is what we all should want to the Cubans."

Medina said he also objects to what he called the "hypocrisy" of
Republicans who tout the benefits of small government.

"Now they're going to be scrutinizing every single American citizen that
travels to Cuba, to see which category they fall under to go there," he
said. "This is an infringement of personal freedoms. We should be able
to travel anywhere we want."

'More of a politician that what we expected'

Some of those gathered outside the theater supported Trump. But Laura
Vianello, a Cuban exile who has lived in Miami since 1960, said she
wished he was doing more.

"I noticed that Trump has become more of a politician than what we
expected from him — to be himself," she said. "We really liked the man
because he has a mind of his own, but we expected more."

Across the street, an anti-Trump protester disagreed.

Bernardo Guitierrez, 70, was also born in Cuba. He said Obama's policies
had helped Cubans.

"I visit Cuba because I still have family there, and I know they're
doing much better," he said. "Little by little, but better."

Cuban exiles also gathered at some of the restaurants on Calle Ocho that
have become synonymous with Little Havana. Jorge Naranja was at
Versailles. He said he voted for Trump in November — but he doesn't
think the policy changes announced on Friday will lead to meaningful
change in Cuba.

He came from Cuba in 1994 and he hasn't been back since, because he
thinks any kind of travel there will just "inject money into the
system," he said.

He said he'd like to see the U.S. either close the door completely to
Cuba, or open up 100 percent if it gets a good offer from the Cuban
government — but he doesn't expect that to happen.

Source: Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy | WLRN -
http://wlrn.org/post/trump-rolls-back-completely-one-sided-cuba-policy?nopop=1

Changes To Cuba Policy Met With Mixed Reactions

Changes To Cuba Policy Met With Mixed Reactions
JULIEGRACE BRUFKE
Capitol Hill Reporter
3:52 PM 06/19/2017

President Donald Trump's changes to the United State's policy on Cuba,
which tightens restrictions on travel and business transactions between
countries, has been met with mixed reactions by congressional Republicans.

Proponents of the adjustments argue it's necessary for the U.S. to take
a stand against the Castro regimes' humanitarian violations. But critics
argue it will have a negative impact on the people of Cuba and the U.S.
economy.

an people are starting to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and
recognize capitalism — which he feels could be hindered once the new
policy is implemented, according to GOP Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas,
who recently traveled to Cuba. He noted the U.S. has relations with
multiple other countries with military-controlled regimes, adding he
believes the policy changes are reflective of a dated viewpoint.

"I think it's in our strategic interest long-term, what we have there
now is a void of leadership, a void of economic direction that's being
killed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran and other nations,"
Crawford told The Daily Caller News Foundation. "They don't have the
interest of the United States or our well-being — in fact, they have an
invested interest in undermining the United States. So why would we
allow them to carve out a stronger niche every day in the absence of
U.S. economic engagement? We just can't sit back and watch from the
beach in Key West."

Crawford said while he wished former President Barack Obama has involved
Congress more while implementing his administration's Cuba policy, it
largely had a positive impact on both countries.

"I think this [Trump's changes] probably kind of built on the opinion of
a small minority — a very vocal small minority, but a small minority
nonetheless," he said. "You know we feel like we've made some great
progress and building up support, making a pretty compelling case about
what our objectives were why, and so this seems a little obtuse."

Supporters of the new policy say the change will have a positive impact
on the Cuban people since it's aimed at preventing funds from going to
the Cuban military.

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida dismissed the argument the
U.S. should continue to strengthen relations with Cuba due to its
business dealings with other repressive countries.

"It's a dramatic change dramatic change from a policy that frankly was
helping to fund the Castro dictatorship's military and intelligence
services to a policy that helps support the Cuban people and stops the
funding to those entities," he told TheDCNF."But here's the interesting
thing, we have sanctions against North Korea, we have sanctions against
Iran — even though they were greatly weakened by the previous
administration — we have sanctions used in specific cases," Diaz-Balart
continued.

Diaz-Balart said it's "ludicrous" to have policies in place that fund a
government that is repressing its people.

"Here's the interesting thing, we have sanctions against North Korea, we
have sanctions against Iran — even though they were greatly weakened by
the previous administration — we have sanctions used in specific cases,"
he continued. "In the case of this hemisphere, where democracy is the
only legitimate form of government according to the OAS [Organization of
American States], in this hemisphere it's in our national security
interest not to fund what the Obama administration called the fourth
most aggressive, most-effective espionage network on the entire planet."

Source: Changes To Cuba Policy Met With Mixed Reactions | The Daily
Caller -
http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/19/changes-to-cuba-policy-met-with-mixed-reactions/

Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy

Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy
At a Monday news conference, the nation's foreign minister called the
latest deal "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold War."
ARIA BENDIX JUN 19, 2017 NEWS

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."

Trump also used his speech to call for the return of "the cop–killer
Joanne Chesimard," otherwise known as Assata Shakur. Chesimard, a black
nationalist, was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984 after receiving a life
sentence for the death of a New Jersey state trooper. On Monday,
Rodriquez directly responded to Trump's order, arguing that the U.S. had
no "legal or moral basis" to demand Chesimard's return or that of any
other U.S. fugitive.

While Cuba has previously expressed a willingness to negotiate bilateral
issues with the Trump administration, their tone changed dramatically
with the unveiling of the new policy on Friday. The Castro government
has since released a statement saying that the U.S. is "not in the
condition to lecture us" on human rights abuses, citing the GOP health
care plan and police brutality as examples of the U.S.'s own violations.
Rodriquez reinforced this message on Monday, stating that "Cuba will
make no concessions on its sovereignty and its independence, will not
negotiate over its principles, and will never accept [imposed] conditions."

While Rodriquez admitted that Trump's new policy "will wreak economic
damage" on Cuban companies and private sector workers, he argued that it
would only serve to further unite his government. Rodriquez also noted
that U.S. companies and citizens would suffer from limited economic and
cultural exchange with Cuba. Indeed, this very thinking motivated the
Obama administration to open the lines of trade and communication with
Cuba in 2014, following a 50-year-old embargo that did little to improve
conditions in the nation. As a result, the administration paved the way
for major companies like Airbnb and Starwood to access the Cuban market,
while spurring entrepreneurship among Cuban citizens.

Trump's new policy threatens to stymie this growth while placing
high-level U.S.-Cuba negotiations on the chopping block. With Rodriquez
now calling Trump's policy "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold
War," it seems the lines of dialogue between top U.S. and Cuban
officials have already begun to close—and, with them, the chance to
witness the long-term results of improved diplomatic relations.

Source: Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy - The Atlantic -
https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/06/cuba-wont-negotiate-trumps-new-policy/530847/

You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How

You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How
Patrick Allan

President Trump recently announced that the U.S. will be re-instituting
travel restrictions to Cuba, partially canceling Obama's previous policy
changes. So, can you still visit Cuba? It depends.

First, let's clear up an important misconception real quick. Even with
the openings that Obama's Cuba policy previously created, traveling to
Cuba from the U.S. for the sole purpose of tourism was and still is illegal.

Even before Trump's announcement, U.S. citizens were only authorized to
travel to Cuba for one of twelve reasons: family visits, official
government business, journalistic activity, professional research or
meetings, educational activity, religious activity, public performances
or athletic competitions, humanitarian projects that support the Cuban
people, and a few other very specific purposes.

Trump's Tightening of Cuba Travel Policies Closes a Loophole

Many travelers got around the no tourism rule with what's called
"individual people-to-people" travel, which involves signing up with an
organized tour through a school, artist commune, or volunteer project.
It's a legal loophole that took advantage of a law that wasn't as
clearly defined as it could have been.

But Trump's forthcoming changes will be closing that loophole for the
time being. Americans will no longer be able to visit Cuba without a
specific license from the U.S. government—issued for one of the reasons
mentioned above—or without traveling with an organized "people-to-people
group." Basically, that means you and your partner can't just book a
flight to Cuba, travel there on your own, grab a hotel room, hang out
with a tour guide for a day, then do whatever you want for a week.

Once the new Cuba sanctions go into place, you'll only be able to visit
the country if you book trips through educational travel organizations
that offer group tours, like Cuba Educational Travel, Center for Cuban
Studies, and Smithsonian Journeys. Or you can book a cruise through
cruise lines like Carnival, Ponant, and Pearl Seas. But again, any time
you spend on shore will be with a guided group, and both group tours and
cruises will cost you a pretty penny (like, thousands of dollars).
You'll also still need a visa (also known as a tourist card) to enter
Cuba, but that's usually included with your group tour package.

You Can Still Visit Cuba for Specific Reasons and Buy Cuban Cigars (For Now)

The good news: if you've already booked a trip to Cuba (even using the
individual people-to-people loophole), the U.S. Treasury Department has
assured travelers that they may go ahead and follow through. And if you
qualify for one of the other non-individual-people-to-people reasons
previously outlined by the U.S. Treasury Department, you may still
travel there if you have a valid passport, you're able to secure a visa,
and you acquire Cuba-specific travel insurance.

The better news: for those that legally qualify for travel to Cuba, you
may still bring back up to $400 worth of souvenirs—at least for now.
That does include Cuban rum and up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars as
well. There is still no official date for when these new sanctions go
into place, so time is of the essence for travelers desperate to set
foot on Cuba's long-forbidden soil.

Source: You Can Still Visit Cuba—Here's How -
http://lifehacker.com/you-can-still-visit-cuba-heres-how-1796223945

Monday, June 19, 2017

Three “Paladares” Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana

Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 June 2017 – The closure of three
private restaurants in Havana last week has sparked doubts among owners
of food service businesses. The fact that the three paladares – private
restaurants – were rated "excellent" on Trip Advisor, one of the most
important travel sites on the web, has fueled fears that the authorities
are acting against the more prosperous businesses.

The police closed El Litoral, Dolce Vita and Lungo Mare, all located in
the Vedado neighborhood, after a high-profile operation and the seizure
of many goods, 14ymedio was able to confirm.

Alejandro Marcel Mendevil, the visible face of El Litoral, which
operates under the name of his mother, Nardis Francisca Mendivil, had
previously had legal problems when working for a company linked to the
Ministry of Tourism, according to an employee of the place who preferred
to remain anonymous. On that occasion he was "under investigation with
other employees" for an alleged diversion of resources detected in the
entity, which operated with foreign capital.

That investigation ended without charges but according to the same
employee "the suspicion clung to him that he was laundering the
embezzled money through El Litoral."

Nardis Francisca Mendivil, legal owner of El Litoral, refuses to talk to
the press so as not to harm her son, who is imprisoned in 100 and Aldabó
and subject to a warning from State Security, but she does deny the
version published by some media according to which he was the proprietor
of the three closed paladares.

"We have nothing to do with Lungo Mare," said the mother of the
detainee. Other sources stated that her son also managed that paladar at
one time, but had sold it "a few months ago."

In addition, Señora Mendival complains that it is not the first time
that they have tried to impute false crimes to her son; in the past he
was accused of the death of a police officer who, according to Señora
Mendival, shot "himself in a patrol car," a few yards from the restaurant.

The closing of the restaurants took place after an exhaustive search by
the Technical Department of Investigations in cooperation with police
forces.

The news of what happened circulated through emails in the Cubapaladar
newsletter on food service businesses. Its organizers were quick to
remove the premises from their list of recommendations and asserted that
they will never include an establishment that is "under a legal
investigation or involved in any case that violates any Cuban law."

This Thursday, an improvised sign with the word "Closed" was the only
visible sign to customers at door of number 161 Malecón between K and L
where until recently the El Litoral was overflowing with activity. The
area is now deserted.

The operation and the confiscation of numerous belongings from the
premises were the subject of comments from the whole neighborhood. "I
saw many things: air conditioners, drinks of different brands they had
in the cellar, chairs, tables, they even took the cutlery away," says a
neighbor.

According to an employee who spoke to 14ymedio, agents also took
everything that was in the basement where a new space was going to be
inaugurated for "tasting exquisite drinks and Cuban cigars."

The site, with a wide-ranging menu specializing in seafood and fish,
soon became a emblem of the new era for Cuban entrepreneurship after the
flexibilizations for the self-employed sector promoted by Raúl Castro's
Government as of 2010.

"From the moment you walked through the door, you felt that you were not
in Cuba because of the variety of dishes and the efficiency of the
service," says Grégory, a Frenchman who has visited Cuba more than a
dozen times in the past decade, where he has "two daughters and many
friends."

However, those times of bonanza and glamor seem to have ended in the
large house with a view directly to the sea.

The scene at El Litoral is repeated in the restaurant Dolce Vita,
specializing in Mediterranean food and also located on Havana's
Malecón. The restaurant, which was a bustle of waiters and customers, is
now closed, lock stock and barrel.

At the corner of Calle 1a and C, in Vedado, silence has also taken over
the outside terrace and the interior area of ​​Lungo Mare. Underneath
its distinctive red and white striped awning there is no longer the
noise of the silverware or the clinking of the glasses. "This is dead
and it will take a long time for it to rise again," jokes a newspaper
salesman who mourns the situation.

"The whole neighborhood benefited from this restaurant because many
people came and I could sell some of my newspapers at a slightly better
price," he explains.

"This happened because it stood out a lot," says Luis Carlos, a young
man who delivers agricultural products for several restaurants in the
area. "El Litoral became a reference point and many foreigners and
diplomats came," he explains. "Here they sold the best croquettes in
Havana and that's not a joke."

No other private restaurant or coffee shop owner in the area has wanted
to comment on the case.

Source: Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In
Havana – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/three-paladares-closed-were-are-among-the-best-restaurants-in-havana/

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The good, bad, and ugly of Trump’s new Cuba policy

The good, bad, and ugly of Trump's new Cuba policy
By Ilya Somin June 18 at 3:18 PM

Late last week, President Trump announced a change in US policy towards
the communist dictatorship in Cuba. Although Trump claimed he was
"canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with
Cuba," his new approach actually leaves most of Obama's policies in
place. It does not end normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba,
nor would it bar most US trade and investment there.

Trump's new policy has some good elements, some bad ones, and one truly
awful perpetuation of the worst of Obama's policy. On the plus side, the
new policy bars US trade and investment in enterprises owned by the
Cuban military and secret police. Even if you believe that trade and
investment are beneficial and likely to stimulate liberalization in
Cuba, that is surely not true of commerce that directly enriches the
very entities that perpetuate repression in one of the world's last
largely unreformed communist despotisms.

Also potentially beneficial is the plan to convene a State Department
task force on increasing internet access for Cubans. This could make it
easier for dissidents to organize, and other Cubans to utilize
information sources not controlled by the state. Obviously, whether this
initiative actually achieves anything remains to be seen.

Much more dubious is Trump's policy of tightening restrictions on travel
to Cuba by Americans. I can understand the point that such travel often
enriches the regime. On the other hand, travel restrictions are a
significant infringement on freedom, and it is far from clear that they
actually do much to undermine the government's grip on power. Americans
are not restricted from traveling to other nations with oppressive
governments, including some that are as bad or almost as bad as Cuba's.
At the very least, we should not restrict Americans' freedom to travel
unless there is strong evidence that doing so really will have a
substantial beneficial effect on human rights in Cuba.

Contrary to the expectations of its defenders, Barack Obama's
normalization policy has not resulted in any improvement in Cuban human
rights. Its onset actually coincided with an upsurge in repression, and
the liberal Human Rights Watch group reports that, in some ways, the
government has actually increased its harassment and persecution of
dissidents in recent years. Whether Trump's policy brings better results
remains to be seen. They could hardly be much worse.

One one key point, however, Trump has perpetuated the very worst of
Obama's approach. He has decided to maintain Obama's cruel policy
reversal on Cuban refugees, which effectively bars the vast majority of
them from staying in the United States, ending decades of bipartisan
policy welcoming at least those who manage to make it to US soil.

Some defend Obama's shift by arguing that the previous approach unduly
favored to Cuban refugees over those fleeing other repressive regimes.
But any such inequality should be cured by treating other refugees
better, not consigning Cubans to oppression. It is better that at least
some refugees be saved than that all be condemned to further abuse in
the name of equality.

In a speech in Miami announcing his new Cuba policy, Trump denounced
Cuba's repressive policies, including its "abuse of dissidents" and
"jailing [of] innocent people." But his crocodile tears about the plight
of Cuban victims of communist oppression ring hollow, so long as he bars
virtually all of them from finding refuge in the US, and instead
perpetuates Obama's new policy of consigning them to the tender mercy of
their oppressors.

Sadly, Trump is not the only hypocrite here. To their credit, liberal
Democrats have rightly condemned Trump's travel ban executive order, and
attempt to bar Syrian refugees. But most Democrats have either ignored
or actively supported the cruel new policy on Cuban refugees – perhaps
because that policy was initiated by a Democratic president (though now
also continued by Trump).

Here, as elsewhere, we should try to set aside partisan bias. The
barring of refugees fleeing brutal oppressors is unjust regardless of
whether it was done by a Democratic president or a Republican one, and
regardless of whether the rulers oppressing them are communists,
right-wing despots, or radical Islamists. In most cases, the US is not
responsible for the misdeeds of oppressive governments abroad. But we
are morally responsible for using government coercion to prevent them
from finding safety, and returning them to the control of the very
forces they are fleeing.

Source: The good, bad, and ugly of Trump's new Cuba policy - The
Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/18/the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-trumps-new-cuba-policy/?utm_term=.e732a7d1f7ee