Archive for the ‘US Cuba issues’ Category
Guest: Marcos Nelson Suarez, who left Cuba at that time and remembers the timeline of events ………we remember the Mariel incident that sent 100,000 Cubans to the US this week in 1980……..North Korea is still in the news…….a few thoughts about the special election in Georgia on Tuesday……..there is a runoff coming in June……….we wish President Bush a speedy recovery………plus more stories….
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As some in the left cheer the commutation of Oscar Lopez-Rivera’s sentence, their romantic choice of a political prisoner in the U.S., a real political prisoner was arrested in Cuba.
We are talking about Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, the well known dissident who got in trouble with the Castro regime years ago when he refused to perform abortions.
This is a report from Cuba:
Dr Oscar Elias Biscet has been arrested by the Regime once again. Dr Biscet was last seen by his wife around noon today as he was headed for an internet venue.
According to neighbors, the Regime’s security agents mounted an operation near the intersection of 7ma and Santa Catalina in Havana, where they took him in the same police car used in his unlawful arrest last week, Patrol Car 228.
Shortly after leaving his home at noon his wife called his cell phone but calls were unattended.
After some inquiries neighbors confirmed the arrest and sting operation to his wife Elsa Morejon, who called me to inform us of the arrest. He was released later this evening.
Dr Biscet is the recipient of the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
He has served approximately 12 years in prison, as a prisoner of conscience for his opposition to the Cuban regime. He is devout Christian and a committed friend of Israel.
We pray for Dr. Biscet’s safety. Arresting dissidents and keeping the families in the dark is the way that the Castro regime intimidates Cubans in the island.
We call on President Obama to issue a statement before leaving office that this arrest is wrong and not in the spirit of “change”. Or maybe better, Mr. Trump should halt all negotiations with Cuba until Dr. Biscet is released.
According to the Obama administration, there is a lot of trading going on with Cuba. After further review, there is not a lot of trading at all. In fact, the difference may be somewhere between the $6 billion that the Obama administration is projecting and about $380 million in real commerce going on.
This is from The Miami Herald:
The Obama Administration has said that trade with Cuba could reach up to $6 billion under its new policies, but U.S. companies in fact exported barely $380 million worth of goods to the island since the beginning of the thaw in bilateral relations two years ago.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said early last year that her department had issued 490 licenses to companies trying to do business with Cuba valued at $4.3 billion. More recently, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that since late 2014 “more than $6 billion in trade has been initiated between Cuba and the United States since then, which obviously has an important economic benefit here in the United States.”
Experts said the administration is exaggerating, and that those numbers must be put in better context.
Well, put me down as one who never bought this nonsense that Cuba and the U.S. were doing $6 billion in trade.
First, let’s understand that these are the people who told us you could keep your health care policy if we wanted to. How did that one work out? Not hard to be skeptical after that or the nonsense about ISIS being the J.V. team!
Second, as the article confirms, Cuba’s economy is not growing. Cuba’s GDP grew by 0.9% in 2016. Cuba’s GDP is $81 billion. How can the U.S. and Cuba be doing $6 billion in trade?
Third, Cuba does not have the liquidity to pay for all of these U.S. goods or services. This is because no one is lending Cuba any money, and the US embargo cuts off access to credit lines in the U.S.
Fourth, the article points out that U.S. exports to Cuba, food items such as chicken, soya, and corn, actually fell since the Obama administration eased sanctions on Cuba.
So be cautious with all those expectations about how opening up Cuba would lead to all of those opportunities on the island.
In other words, there are no opportunities, unless you want to build a hotel to fly in U.S. tourists. Of course, such investments require you to have the Cuban government as your partner – the family business, that is!
How can you expect a country with very little purchasing power to buy anything?
We say it again: the Obama policy toward Cuba has not really benefited U.S. companies or the Cuban people. It has been pretty good for the Castros and the thugs who protect them.
In time, a free Cuba could return to the economic relationship it had with the U.S. before 1961. It won’t happen anytime soon as long as the aforementioned family is running the island for its own gain.
The story of the U.S. embargo against Cuba goes back several administrations. It was created to punish the Cuban government for stealing U.S. properties on the island without compensating U.S. citizens who owned them. The embargo was later strengthened in 1996, when Cuban Migs shot down a plane carrying representatives of “Brothers to the Rescue,” a Miami-based organization identifying Cubans in rafts in the Florida Straits.
The Obama administration granted permission to a U.S. hotel management company to manage some hotels in Cuba. This is from Capitol Hill Cubans:
A few days before Obama’s historic March trip to Cuba, U.S. hospitality firm Starwood, which operates Sheraton, Westin and other prominent hotel brands, received authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department to run several hotels on the island in apparent violation of U.S. laws.
All of the hotels are properties that were confiscated by Cuba’s communist regime without compensating private owners and are currently owned by the Cuban military, which means all profits generated by any commercial venture will finance the regime’s repressive apparatus.
Furthermore, the Cuban government will assign hotel workers their jobs and employees will have no labor rights. U.S. law prohibits American companies from operating under these conditions in other countries.
In an announcement celebrating the unusually swift Treasury authorization to do business in Cuba, Starwood Chief Executive Officer Thomas B. Mangas said “with Cuba’s rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire U.S. hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point.”
Somehow, Starwood beat out several other American companies that have been trying to obtain U.S. government approval to do business in Cuba, according to a mainstream newspaper. Among them is Marriott International whose CEO actually accompanied Obama on his trip to Cuba earlier this year.
As a Cuban-American who came here as a kid with my parents, I’d love to see U.S. businesses start ventures in Cuba and bring capitalism back to the island. At the same time, this is not what the Obama administration is doing with these deals.
First, we are doing ventures not with Cubans, but the Cuban military, which is basically a subsidiary of the Castro family. Cubans will not participate in these ventures except as employees paid in worthless pesos after the Castro family keeps the dollars, or hard currency. It’s hard for me to believe that a U.S. CEO would participate in such a racket and abuse of people.
Second, these properties were confiscated from U.S. citizens. Who represents them? Isn’t that what the president of the U.S. is supposed to do?
The Obama administration should call on Congress to end the embargo or it should live by the law. Is that asking too much of this administration?
Another year and another anniversary.
My friend Alberto de la Cruz, Managing Director of Babalu, reminded us of this massacre by posting the photos of the victims.
Over at PanAm Post, John Suarez related the events of that terrible day:
“In the early morning hours of July 13, 1994, 37 men, women, and children were killed by government agents seven miles off the Cuban coast, as they sought to travel to freedom on board the “13 de Marzo” tugboat.
Eleven of these Cubans were children, ranging in age from Helen Martínez Enríquez — just five months old — to Mayulis Méndez Tacaronte, aged 17.”
It was not an accident, as the Cuban official media said. It was a premeditated attack on Cubans choosing to leave the island.
We remind you that the two men responsible for this massacre are living in the island of Cuba. In fact, the younger brother just sat down and watched a baseball game with President Obama a few months ago.
The Obama administration has approved an investment in Cuba, as reported by AP:
The Obama administration has approved the first U.S. factory in Cuba in more than half a century, allowing a two-man company from Alabama to build a plant assembling as many as 1,000 small tractors a year for sale to private farmers in Cuba.
Thursday Feb 18: Cuba, Brazil, Pope in Mexico and other US-Latin America stories………….. https://t.co/mcFdA9wFHt
— Silvio Canto, Jr. (@SCantojr) February 18, 2016
We learned today that the Obama administration has approved the opening of your plant in Cuba.
According to news reports, your company will manufacture tractors and sell them to Cubans and or Latin America farmers.
As a Cuban American, I have some concerns about this project:
1) Will you be hiring your own employees or “rent them” from the Castro regime as we’ve seen with other investments in the island?
Why is this important? The answer is that we do not want the Castro regime to continue the exploitation of the island’s workers. Cuba should not turn into Vietnam!
2) Why didn’t you build your tractors in Alabama? Couldn’t they use the jobs there?
3) Are you familiar with the lack of freedoms in Cuba? Why subsidize the dictatorship? Why not build the factory after Cubans are free of the Castro regime?
It’s a shame that your management team has chosen to do business with an anti-US dictatorship that has shown little regard for the capitalist system that we assume you believe in.
Again, I hope that you cancel your plans and stand with the Cuban people not the Castro regime.