Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Uncle Sam blacklists Cuban hotels, businesses, agencies

Credit: VOA News
Here's what the U.S. State Department announced today:

Below is the U.S. Department of State’s list of entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba. For information regarding the prohibition on direct financial transactions with these entities, please see the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security website.

*** Entities or subentities owned or controlled by another entity or subentity on this list are not treated as restricted unless also specified by name on the list. ***

MINISTRIES

MINFAR — Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias

MININT — Ministerio del Interior

HOLDING COMPANIES

CIMEX — Corporación CIMEX S.A.

Companía Turística Habaguanex S.A.

GAESA — Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A.

New Cuba regulations announced

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) are announcing amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), respectively, to implement changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President in June. The State Department is taking complementary steps to implement these policy changes that cumulatively seek to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, while maintaining opportunities for Americans to engage in authorized travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba. The changes will take effect on Thursday, November 9, 2017, when the regulations are published in the Federal Register (download 35-page Q&A on new regulations).
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Monday, February 27, 2017

YouTube: Ladies in White unsuitable for advertising

Zero dollars
YouTube sent me an email earlier today saying that a video I made about a Ladies in White march in 2010 contained content that was not "advertiser-friendly."
That makes the video ineligible for advertising revenue.
Now it's not as if that seven-year-old video was raking in the dough. It had just 170 views as of this evening and had not earned a single cent.
I don't earn much from YouTube. Most videos I produce cost more to make than they earn. But I think it's ridiculous that women fighting for basic human rights in Cuba, whether you agree with them or not, are considered unfriendly to advertisers.
Holier-than-thou YouTube says content considered unsuitable to advertising includes:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown
My guess is that YouTube classified the Ladies in White video as a controversial event or "political conflict," as described above.

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.