Friday, February 10, 2017

Cuban planner fears for Havana's future

The Cuba at the Crossroads event was held at Rollins College.
Old Havana streets are covered with Massachusetts stones that were used as ballast in ships that once journeyed to Cuba to pick up sugar.
"That means when you are walking around on the streets of Havana, you are walking on American soil," Cuban architect and urban planner Miguel Coyula joked today during a presentation at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Coyula was the keynote speaker at the college's Cuba at the Crossroads symposium. He covered a lot of ground - from the 1500s to present day and explained how Havana developed its unique character.
Cuba's indigenous people didn't influence Cuban culture or society in a big way, Coyula said, because they were "rapidly exterminated" - some 250,000 people were killed over a 30-year period. But European influence can be seen all over Havana. Coyula said that many of Cuba's creoles - the children of Spanish settlers - traveled to Europe to study. They brought back European customs and ideas when they returned.
"Old Havana is a little piece of Europe in the middle of the Americas," said Coyula, a professor at the University of Havana.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Former CIA officer: Spy agency faces retooling

Scott Eder at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida
After the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump was working with advisers on a plan to dramatically shrink the country's top spy agency, a Trump spokesman issued a quick denial.
But retired CIA officer Scott Eder said Thursday he believes that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will be reduced in size.
"That staff will be shrunk," said Eder, speaking to students and faculty at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
President Trump has talked about his desire to "reorganize, retool and sharpen the intelligence community," said Eder during an appearance at the college. "The major target of that is the Office of Director of National Intelligence."
The Trump administration will not disband the agency, but he will likely shrink it, said Eder, who was a CIA officer for 28 years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

GAO: U.S. engagement with Cuba limited

Havana
"Embargo restrictions, resource constraints, and Cuban government priorities" have hindered U.S. government agencies' ability to help U.S. companies do business in Cuba, a new Government Accountability Office study says. Highlights of the study are below.

What GAO Found

The Cuban private sector has grown rapidly since 2008 but remains small compared with other economies and faces various constraints. The Cuban private sector includes (1) self-employed entrepreneurs, (2) agricultural cooperatives and other private farmers, and (3) nonagricultural cooperatives. Cuban government data indicate that the percentage of the Cuban workforce in the private sector has grown from 17 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2015. However, the Cuban private sector is smaller than in 16 comparable countries GAO analyzed. It is also still highly constrained by the Cuban government and faces challenges, including a lack of access to needed supplies and equipment.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wet-foot/dry-foot scrapped

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2017

Statement by the President on Cuban Immigration Policy

Today, the United States is taking important steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba and to bring greater consistency to our immigration policy. The Department of Homeland Security is ending the so-called "wet-foot/dry foot" policy, which was put in place more than twenty years ago and was designed for a different era. Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.