President Trump Mentions Cuba Twice During Speech At United Nations

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 19, 2017

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

TO THE 72ND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

United Nations

New York, New York
 
EXCERPTS.....

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

index.jpg

Lavazza From Italy & Nespresso From Switzerland Vie For Cuba's Coffee Production/Exports

Turin, Italy-based Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. (2016 revenues exceeded US$1.6 billion) has joined Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA (2016 revenues approximately US$94 billion) in seeking to increase the production, quality, and export opportunities for coffee beans sourced in the Republic of Cuba.

From the company: 

“The Lavazza Foundation (http://www.lavazza.us/us/about-lavazza/sustainability-report/ ) is starting in Cuba a three-year project stems from a close collaboration with the local Cuban authorities. The project, in collaboration with Oxfam, enhance the training capacity of “School Centres” and the output of the Centres for grafting coffee plants in Cuba contributing to the sustainability, increased yield and quality of coffee plants in the country’s two eastern provinces, Granma and Santiago de Cuba, while improving the conditions of coffee producers in the area of interest.  Specific goals are: 

1. Increasing the production of quality coffee plants by creating ten production centres that contribute to the recovery of areas with limited production, while also supporting greater participation by women and young people in the agricultural sector.

2. Increasing producers’ and technicians’ knowledge of the coffee supply chain through the 34 "School Centres."

3. Strengthening the coffee supply chain while improving the living conditions of the rural population in the selected communities, and in particular those of the women involved.”

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/6/20/nespresso-to-indirectly-import-coffee-from-cuba-to-usa?rq=Nespresso

Nestle Nespresso To Indirectly Import Coffee From Cuba To USA
June 20, 2016

20 June 2016: New York, New York- Nestle Nespresso, the worldwide pioneer and reference in premium single-serve coffee, announced today it will bring back Cuban coffee to the United States for the first time in more than 50 years.

Recent regulatory changes in the United States have allowed Nespresso to move forward with its plans, which include making the new Cuban Nespresso Grand Cru, Cafecito de Cuba, available in the United States in the fall of 2016, initially as a limited edition. Over the long term, Nespresso and its partner TechnoServe, a nonprofit development organization, will explore how to work with smallholder coffee farmers in Cuba with the goal ultimately being to support farmers in their production of sustainable coffee and contribute to expanded economic opportunities for them in the long-term.

For more than two centuries, Cuba has produced some of the greatest Arabica coffee in the world. With fertile soil and ideal climate conditions, the country offers an excellent coffee growing environment. Nespresso is purchasing Arabica coffee this year that has been produced by Cuban farmers, and aims to continue purchasing it in the coming years.

“At Nespresso, we always aim to delight consumers through exclusive, unique coffee experiences,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, President Nespresso USA. “Nespresso is thrilled to be the first to bring this rare coffee to the U.S., allowing consumers to rediscover this distinct coffee profile. Over the long-term, we have a view to supporting the development of environmentally sustainable coffee farming practices for smallholder farmers which benefit the farmers themselves and their communities. Ultimately, we want consumers in the U.S. to experience this incredible coffee and to enjoy it now and for years to come.”

The U.S. Department of State in late April updated its list of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs that can be imported into the United States to include coffee. This change paved the way for Nespresso to offer Cuban coffee to the U.S. market.

Nespresso’s approach to sustainability is embedded in its business practices and focuses on initiatives that preserve the environment for future generations and create shared value for all stakeholders and society. Nespresso has extensive experience working closely with coffee farmers to improve productivity and create attractive income opportunities for them. Through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which was developed with the Rainforest Alliance, Nespresso works with farmers, providing support, training, financing and technical assistance to improve sustainability and productivity while maintaining quality.

Next Stop For Cuban Coffee May Be Blue Bottle Coffee... Another Connection For Nestle
September 15, 2017

With it's majority-control purchase (reportedly US$425 million for 68%) of Oakland, California-based Blue Bottle Coffee, Nestle may have an additional distribution channel for its imports of coffee beans from the Republic of Cuba...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/business/dealbook/nestle-blue-bottle-coffee.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fbusiness&action=click&contentCollection=business&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

http://www.cubatrade.org/search?q=Nespresso

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/5/12/n6fras0d0v3uri8jlx8w0s1t2vx6vh?rq=Nespresso

Nestle Nespresso

In 2016, the Obama Administration added coffee to the list of eligible imports from the Republic of Cuba.  

To be eligible for importation into the United States, a listed Cuban Assets Control Regulations (31 CFR Part 515) Section 515.582 product (in this case coffee) must be “produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by documentary evidence.”

From the United States Department of State: “Persons subject to US jurisdiction engaging in import transactions involving goods produced by an independent Cuban entrepreneur pursuant to 515.582 must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur's independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government, or in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entity is a private entity that is not owned or controlled by the Cuban government.”

In 2016, New York, New York-based Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA (2016 revenues approximately US$94 billion), purchased a container of approximately eighteen (18) tons of green coffee beans through London, United Kingdom-based Cubana Coffee & Roastery (www.cubana.co.uk), the established bar-restaurant and coffee roasting group, and London, United Kingdom-based The Cuba Mountain Coffee Company Ltd (www.almacuba.com).  

The green coffee beans were sourced from the 2015-2016 harvest in the Republic of Cuba; the value was approximately US$5,000.00 per metric ton, or approximately US$90,000.00.  

The beans were roasted at Nestle Nespresso facilities in Avenches and nearby Orbe, Switzerland.  With approximately 20% lost during the roasting process, the result was approximately 180,000 capsules per ton- 3,240,000 limited edition Cafecito de Cuba capsules (approximately 5 to 6 grams each or .17 to .21 ounces).  The price for a limited-edition capsule was approximately US$1.10, so potential total revenue could be approximately US$3,564,000.00.

Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., obtained additional green coffee beans from the 2016-2017 harvest in the Republic of Cuba and continues to produce capsules for distribution throughout the world, including in the United States.

Coffee beans from the Republic of Cuba could also become an ingredient for infused ice creams: Oakland, California-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc., and Oakland, California-based Edy’s Grand Ice Cream are wholly-owned by Nestle SA; and Oakland, California-based Haagen-Dazs is distributed by Nestle SA.

Nestle SA is positioning itself to be an importer to the United States of confections, coffee, ice cream, beverages, and other consumables sourced in the Republic of Cuba.  

Nestle SA has a multi-decade interest in the Republic of Cuba.  The company has a representative office in the city of Havana.  Since the 1990's, Nestle S.A. has been involved with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to develop the confection industry (a twenty-year joint venture producing ice cream); has investments in bottled water production (Ciego Montero) and beverage production; and imports products for sale at retail stores.  In 2014, Nestle Nespresso released “Limited Edition Cubanía; Inspired by the passion and intensity of Cuban coffee ritual” that did not contain coffee from the Republic of Cuba.  In 2016, "Cuban Nespresso Grand Cru Cafecito de Cuba" capsule (which would include coffee from the Republic of Cuba) was to be available outside of the United States, but with the 22 April 2016 changes in United States regulations, the opportunity was created to add the United States to global distribution channels.

In 2017, Nestle SA reported the company would invest approximately US$55 million to create a joint venture (of which it will own 51%) potentially employing 300 Republic of Cuba nationals to source ingredients for and to produce coffee, biscuits and cooking products.  Completion date is by 2019.  Other Nestle SA production facilities are being considered for expansion.

Lavazza-NYC_magento_landing-hero.jpg

Next Stop For Cuban Coffee May Be Blue Bottle Coffee... Another Connection For Nestle

With it's majority-control purchase (reportedly US$425 million for 68%) of Oakland, California-based Blue Bottle Coffee, Nestle may have an additional distribution channel for its imports of coffee beans from the Republic of Cuba...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/business/dealbook/nestle-blue-bottle-coffee.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fbusiness&action=click&contentCollection=business&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

http://www.cubatrade.org/search?q=Nespresso

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/5/12/n6fras0d0v3uri8jlx8w0s1t2vx6vh?rq=Nespresso

Nestle Nespresso

In 2016, the Obama Administration added coffee to the list of eligible imports from the Republic of Cuba.  

To be eligible for importation into the United States, a listed Cuban Assets Control Regulations (31 CFR Part 515) Section 515.582 product (in this case coffee) must be “produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by documentary evidence.”

From the United States Department of State: “Persons subject to US jurisdiction engaging in import transactions involving goods produced by an independent Cuban entrepreneur pursuant to 515.582 must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur's independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government, or in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entity is a private entity that is not owned or controlled by the Cuban government.”

In 2016, New York, New York-based Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA (2016 revenues approximately US$94 billion), purchased a container of approximately eighteen (18) tons of green coffee beans through London, United Kingdom-based Cubana Coffee & Roastery (www.cubana.co.uk), the established bar-restaurant and coffee roasting group, and London, United Kingdom-based The Cuba Mountain Coffee Company Ltd (www.almacuba.com).  

The green coffee beans were sourced from the 2015-2016 harvest in the Republic of Cuba; the value was approximately US$5,000.00 per metric ton, or approximately US$90,000.00.  

The beans were roasted at Nestle Nespresso facilities in Avenches and nearby Orbe, Switzerland.  With approximately 20% lost during the roasting process, the result was approximately 180,000 capsules per ton- 3,240,000 limited edition Cafecito de Cuba capsules (approximately 5 to 6 grams each or .17 to .21 ounces).  The price for a limited-edition capsule was approximately US$1.10, so potential total revenue could be approximately US$3,564,000.00.

Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., obtained additional green coffee beans from the 2016-2017 harvest in the Republic of Cuba and continues to produce capsules for distribution throughout the world, including in the United States.

Coffee beans from the Republic of Cuba could also become an ingredient for infused ice creams: Oakland, California-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc., and Oakland, California-based Edy’s Grand Ice Cream are wholly-owned by Nestle SA; and Oakland, California-based Haagen-Dazs is distributed by Nestle SA.

Nestle SA is positioning itself to be an importer to the United States of confections, coffee, ice cream, beverages, and other consumables sourced in the Republic of Cuba.  

Nestle SA has a multi-decade interest in the Republic of Cuba.  The company has a representative office in the city of Havana.  Since the 1990's, Nestle S.A. has been involved with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to develop the confection industry (a twenty-year joint venture producing ice cream); has investments in bottled water production (Ciego Montero) and beverage production; and imports products for sale at retail stores.  In 2014, Nestle Nespresso released “Limited Edition Cubanía; Inspired by the passion and intensity of Cuban coffee ritual” that did not contain coffee from the Republic of Cuba.  In 2016, "Cuban Nespresso Grand Cru Cafecito de Cuba" capsule (which would include coffee from the Republic of Cuba) was to be available outside of the United States, but with the 22 April 2016 changes in United States regulations, the opportunity was created to add the United States to global distribution channels.

In 2017, Nestle SA reported the company would invest approximately US$55 million to create a joint venture (of which it will own 51%) potentially employing 300 Republic of Cuba nationals to source ingredients for and to produce coffee, biscuits and cooking products.  Completion date is by 2019.  Other Nestle SA production facilities are being considered for expansion.

16db-newsletter-master768.jpg
nespresso.jpg
1200x-1.jpg

Will BIS, OFAC & State Department Delay New Cuba Regulations Due To Impact Of Hurricane Irma?

While not commenting for-the-record, the Trump Administration may delay the implementation of new and revised regulations relating to travel and commerce with the Republic of Cuba due to the impact of Hurricane Irma on both the state of Florida and the Republic of Cuba.  

A consideration is not to negatively impact the travel, remittance and delivery of items by individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who are of Cuban descent and reside in the United States, specifically the locations of the largest number of individuals of Cuban descent who reside in southern Florida and northern New Jersey.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce, and the United States Department of State were expected to begin issuing new and revised regulations intended to diminish the number of individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba, reduce the value of travel-related transactions benefiting Republic of Cuba government-operated entities, and discourage commercial engagement with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities, specifically those affiliated with the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba.

There are four timelines given in the 16 June 2017 Presidential Memorandum:

30 days for OFAC, State, Commerce and Transportation to "initiate a process to adjust current regulations regarding transactions with Cuba." (Emphasis added).

30 days for OFAC to "initiate a process to adjust current regulations regarding Cuba to ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba." (Emphasis added).

180 days for the Inspector General of the Treasury Department to report to the President on results of an "inspection" of Treasury Department's initiation of a system of "regular audits" of travel to Cuba to ensure compliance with relevant statutes and regulations.

90 days for the Attorney General to issue a report on "issues related to fugitives from US justice living in Cuba."

index.png

President Trump: Continuation of the Exercise of Certain Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 8, 2017

MEMORANDUM FOR
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

SUBJECT: Continuation of the Exercise of Certain Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act

Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. 4305 note), and a previous determination on September 13, 2016 (81 FR 64047, September 16, 2016), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to expire on September 14, 2017.

I hereby determine that the continuation of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba for 1 year is in the national interest of the United States.

Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for 1 year, until September 14, 2018, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515.

The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Text of Trading With The Enemy Act Of 1917

 

index.jpg

Cuba Business Summit Cancelled; Accepting Commercial, Economic & Political Realities

Cortlandt, New York-based Momentum Event Group (www.momentumevents.com), which organized well-attended and well-organized conferences in New York City in 2015 and in 2016 that focused upon commerce with the Republic of Cuba, has cancelled its 3rd Cuba Opportunity Summit scheduled for 23 October 2017.

The previous conferences were attended by senior-level company (United States and other country) representatives, senior-level United States government representatives, and senior-level Republic of Cuba representatives.

The unstated, but logical primary reasons are the continuing health issues of employees of the United States Department of State who were assigned to the United States Embassy in Havana, Republic of Cuba, and the focus by the Trump Administration to discourage both travel to and commerce with the Republic of Cuba.

The only type of individual who would today seek to be a panelist at a Republic of Cuba-focused commercial event would likely not be one for whom paying participants would want to hear, as they would be seeking to market opportunities contrary to the following realities:

The issues relating to:

1) the health of United States nationals with diplomatic status at the United States Embassy in Havana, issues which commenced in 2016 and the undetermined response by the Obama Administration;

2) the non-publicized (either by the Trump Administration or Castro Administration) expulsion in May 2017 of two diplomats accredited to the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington DC;  the Trump Administration uncharacteristically did not take credit in May 2017 for action not taken by the Obama Administration;

3) the continued support by the government of the Republic of Cuba for and benefits received from the government of Venezuela;

4) the continued commercial, economic and political outreach by the government of the Republic of Cuba to the People's Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Russian Federation;

5) and the pending issuance by the Trump Administration of new and revised regulations and policies for individuals and companies relating to travel to and transactions with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities;

will further negatively impact an already corrosive commercial, economic and political bilateral environment.  Any expectation of changes to statutes by the United States Congress is currently illusionary. 

The interest by United States companies will continue to deteriorate unless the government of the Republic of Cuba accepts significant components of the Obama Administration initiatives and does so quickly.

index.png

Jet Blue Receives What American And Delta Could Not (Yet) Obtain; Awaiting United.... A City Ticket Office

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have ticket offices in outlying and upscale Miramar District of the city of Havana, but not in the downtown area; United Airlines has yet to open a ticket office.

http://otp.investis.com/clients/us/jetblue_airways/usn/usnews-story.aspx?cid=981&newsid=47924

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170901005135/en/

JetBlue Celebrates Opening of Havana Ticket Offices as Airline Marks Anniversary of Historic First Commercial Flight to Cuba

Two New Offices to Offer Expanded, In-Person Ticketing Options With Personal Interaction At Point of Sale

September 01, 2017 NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), the first U.S. airline to bring affordable and convenient commercial air travel to Cuba after more than 50 years, today announced the long-anticipated opening of its City Ticket Office and Airport Ticket Office in Havana. Both locations offer a new option for Cubans to book travel on JetBlue, with the added benefit of in-person interactions which will provide the personal, helpful and simple customer experience the airline is known for.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, various Cuban officials, airport leadership and JetBlue crewmembers will take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the City Ticket Office today to celebrate the opening and will welcome customers at the new location. The opening of the ticket offices come the same week JetBlue celebrates the one-year anniversary of its historic first commercial flight to Cuba on August 31, 2016. In this first year of commercial service, JetBlue has carried more than 390,000 customers between the U.S. and Cuba and operated nearly 2,000 flights between the two nations.

“The openings of these offices allow us to offer a truly personalized experience for our Cuban customers with face-to-face interactions when arranging JetBlue travel,” said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. “As we begin our second year of commercial service in Havana – one of the Caribbean’s most important markets – we are now positioned to introduce our low fares and award-winning service to even more travelers in Cuba’s capital.”

The City Ticket Office is centrally and conveniently located in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. The new JetBlue space is in the same building as several travel agencies. The area is well-known and easy to reach for JetBlue customers. The accompanying Airport Ticket Office is located across from JetBlue’s check-in counters at Terminal 3 in Havana’s José Martí International Airport (HAV). Both locations welcome customers wishing to book travel with JetBlue and offer the lowest available fare. Customers may also make changes to existing reservations, select seats and select ancillary services.

In many Caribbean and Latin American markets, City and Airport Ticket Offices are the most convenient and preferred way for customers to make their reservations. The locations also allow for an even more personal interaction at the point of sale. JetBlue operates similar offices in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. JetBlue operates daily flights between Havana and three of the airline’s focus cities:

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Flights between the U.S. and Havana feature the most legroom in coach (a) and complimentary and unlimited name-brand snacks and soft drinks. Select flights also feature free Fly-Fi, the fastest broadband internet in the sky (b); free, live DIRECTV® programming and 100 channels of SiriusXM® radio in every seatback.

JetBlue is proud to offer customer-friendly baggage allowances for travelers flying to or from Cuba, with the ability to check up to a total of three bags or boxes, each up to 99 lbs. and up to 80 linear inches (length + width +height) (c). Please see JetBlue’s Checked Baggage page for more information.

In addition to Havana, JetBlue serves three other Cuban cities with daily service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood:

Santa Clara – Abel Santamaría Airport (SNU)

Camagüey – Ignacio Agramonte Airport (CMW)

Holguín – Frank País Airport (HOG)

JetBlue’s commercial service launch followed nearly five years of successful charter service operating multiple routes between Cuban markets and U.S. cities. In that time, JetBlue built strong relationships with airport authorities and worked closely together to make the successful launch of commercial service possible.

All U.S. customers traveling to Cuba must be authorized to do so under the U.S. government’s Cuban Assets Control Regulations and they must certify that they qualify for one of the twelve approved travel categories outlined by the U.S. Department of Treasury. All travelers to Cuba must make their own determinations with respect to the appropriate travel category, as well as the type of visa required by Cuba for their purpose of travel.

images.png
HAV_FACT_SHEETs_Page_1.jpg

There Are At Least Two Sides To (Almost) Every Story..... The US$5,000.00 Television

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/cuba-vacation-gone-wrong-tv-1.4270994

Calgary man warns Cuba travellers about fine print after paying 10X cost of damaged TV
Sunwing says resort's exorbitant cost was due to 'the challenges and expenses' of obtaining items in Cuba

By Sarah Lawrynuik
CBC News (Calgary)
1 September 2017

 
The so-called rule of 10 wasn't something Dan Lukis had ever heard of before his vacation to Cuba, but the fine-print policy that cost him more that $5,000 won't soon be forgotten, nor will the pall it cast on his trip booked through Sunwing.

One evening, a few days into his all-inclusive stay at the Grand Memories Varadero resort in April, the Calgary man lost his balance while reaching into the mini-fridge in his room, he recalls.  In an attempt to steady himself, he grabbed the television, sending it tumbling onto the floor.

Lukis said he admitted fault for the damage immediately, but when he asked hotel staff how he could rectify the situation, they came back demanding he pay 10 times the value of the TV — the rule of 10.  There was no further damage to the room, documented in photos taken by Lukis.  "We were being treated like criminals for something that was an accident," Lukis told CBC News.

When he argued with staff about the cost, he said, staff told him police and other authorities would get involved and prevent him and his girlfriend from leaving Cuba if he didn't pay.  "It was kind of frightening. It was lucky I was able to scrounge up enough and go into quite a bit of debt on the credit card just to be able to get us out of the country," he said

Sunwing's response

Lukis reached out to Sunwing, but the company deferred to what it called the rule-of-10 policy, which Sunwing said was enforced by the resort, not Sunwing.

"Due to the challenges and expense associated with procuring furniture and electronics in Cuba, most resorts make available at check-in their policy relating to damages and this information is reinforced in the introductory briefing held by our Sunwing destination representatives," a statement from Sunwing says.

The statement said Sunwing was aware of Lukis's situation and "did attempt to advocate on behalf of the customer."

Lukis said he doesn't accept that response from Sunwing because he offered to go to the store and purchase another television, the same kind, but that effort was rebuffed.  After returning home, he came across a Daily Mail article detailing a British couple's similar situation.

"Had I been clearly aware of that being a potential implication, perhaps I would have reconsidered. But I feel it was really hidden and shady. Just something that people really aren't aware of," Lukis said.

The resort's rule-of-10 policy is stated on the Sunwing website, but there is no mention of it on the resort's web page or those of other organizations through which you can purchase all-inclusive stays at the Grand Memories Varadero.  No one from the resort responded to requests for comment from CBC News.


The statement from Sunwing received by email on 1 September 2017 to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council:

“Thank you for your email. I believe that that your question relates to the recent news coverage concerning Mr. Lukis following his stay Sanctuary at Grand Memories Varadero. Unfortunately, there are some inaccuracies in this story that we are currently trying to get corrected. To aid you with your story, please find the statement that we issued to CBC News Calgary that provides more context. In short, the rule of ten is not a policy applied by Sunwing.
 
“Due to the challenges and expense associated with procuring furniture and electronics in Cuba, most resorts make available at check-in their policy relating to damages and this information is reinforced in the introductory briefing held by our Sunwing destination representatives.

On April 15th, we were informed by the hotel management of Sanctuary at Grand Memories Varadero of an incident where a customer destroyed a flat screen television in his room while intoxicated.  The customer provided a statement to this effect, agreed to settle the charges of $3570 CUC, and requested a receipt for his insurance company.

While Sunwing representatives did attempt to advocate on behalf of the customer, the property, owned by Gaviota, deferred to their published policy which reads “when damages caused by a break or loss of property, whether classified as fixed or useful assets, are the result of an intentional act of the clients or are linked to vandalism, the responsible person will be charged ten (10) times the value of the purchase price of the asset broken or lost”

The hotel management reserved their right to apply the full penalty charge as per their stated policy as they considered the incident to be the result of willful damage given the client’s state of intoxication at the time of the incident.””

From Sunwing Internet Site:

Policies (http://www.sunwing.ca/Cuba-Travel/Varadero/Memories-Varadero-Beach-Resort.asp): "Rule of 10" will be in place, established by local authorities: In the case of damaged items, customers will be charged the value of the item multiplied by 10.

NOTE: The Sanctuary at Grand Memories Varadero is owned by Republic of Cuba government-operated Gaviota, which is under the auspice of the Armed Forces Business Enterprise Group (GAESA), which is controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).

Lukis says he accidentally grabbed the TV when he was leaning to get something out of the mini fridge. He accepted responsibility for the damage and was charged more than $5,000 CAD.(Submitted by Dan Lukis)

Lukis says he accidentally grabbed the TV when he was leaning to get something out of the mini fridge. He accepted responsibility for the damage and was charged more than $5,000 CAD.(Submitted by Dan Lukis)

Dan Lukis said his vacation in Varadero, Cuba, was great with the exception of the one event that cast a pall over the entire trip. (Submitted by Dan Lukis)

Dan Lukis said his vacation in Varadero, Cuba, was great with the exception of the one event that cast a pall over the entire trip. (Submitted by Dan Lukis)

Dan Lukis went on the all-inclusive vacation in April 2017 with his girlfriend. (Submitted by Dan Lukis)

Dan Lukis went on the all-inclusive vacation in April 2017 with his girlfriend. (Submitted by Dan Lukis)

USDOT Issues Guidelines For New Cuba Routes Rather Than Issue Routes... Punting

Summary

By this order the Department institutes the 2017 U.S.-Cuba Frequency Allocation Proceeding to allocate available frequencies for scheduled services between the United States and Havana, Cuba.1

Background

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Cuba, signed February 16, 2016, U.S. carriers may operate up to twenty (20) daily combination or all-cargo scheduled round-trip frequencies between the United States and Havana, Cuba.2 By Order 2016-8-38, issued August 31, 2016, the Department allocated the 20 available U.S.-Havana daily frequencies as shown in the chart below (see link)

Decision

Having confirmed the availability of three daily U.S.-Havana frequencies, and recognizing that the applicants seek more frequencies to serve Havana than are now available, the Department must engage in carrier selection. To do so, the Department is instituting the 2017 U.S.-Cuba Frequency Allocation Proceeding.

In finalizing our initial Havana frequency allocations, we said, “Should any of the selected carriers not begin or maintain their proposed services, the Department believes that the public interest would be best served by allowing it to award those unused rights on the basis of a fresh record and in light of the circumstances presented at that time.”16 That is precisely the situation before us, and we see no persuasive basis to follow a different procedural course. While the Department is not indifferent to concerns about the efficient use of resources, we do not regard the 2016 case record as adequate for reaching a decision. For example, a record informed by developments in the market following our initial allocations, including the applicants’ own experience, would be highly beneficial to our decision-making.

Proceeding

As discussed above, the Department has decided to institute this proceeding to allocate the three available daily round-trip frequencies that may be used for scheduled combination or all-cargo services between the United States and Havana, Cuba. The proceeding will also consider whether, as to any Houston-Havana frequencies currently held by, or awarded in this proceeding to United, the public interest calls for approving the request of United and Mesa for operational flexibility to use United’s aircraft or Mesa’s aircraft, as conditions warrant.17

The Department’s principal objective in this proceeding will be to maximize public benefits. In this regard, the Department will consider which applicants will be most likely to offer and maintain the best service for the traveling and shipping public. The Department will also consider the effects of the applicants’ service proposals on the overall competitive environment, including effects on market structure and competition in the U.S.-Cuba market, and any other market(s) shown to be relevant. In addition, where relevant, the Department will consider other factors historically used for carrier selection.18

The Department expects to allocate the frequencies for an indefinite term, subject to a start-up condition and the Department’s standard 90-day dormancy condition. For any frequency not used for a period of 90 days, the allocation with respect to that frequency would expire automatically and revert to the Department for reallocation.

The Department believes that written, non-oral procedures under Part 302 of the Department’s regulations (14 CFR 302) are appropriate and that, by using these procedures, the Department can establish a complete evidentiary record and make timely awards with the least possible delay and without unnecessary costs to the applicants. In the interest of expediting the award of these valuable route rights, the Department may proceed directly to a final order where the record in this proceeding justifies such action. The Department finds no material issues of fact that would warrant an oral evidentiary hearing. The Department intends to resolve issues and award the subject authority on the basis of pleadings filed in this proceeding. If, however, upon review of the record, the Department determines that additional information is required and/or modified procedures are necessary for the adjudication of this case, the Department reserves the right to request additional information and/or to modify the procedures used in this matter.

Evidentiary Requirements

The Department intends to conduct this proceeding in a manner that will facilitate the Department’s reaching a prompt final decision.

Except for procedural dates, applications should conform to Part 302, Subpart C of the Department’s regulations (14 CFR Part 302). All pleadings should be filed with the Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C.

LINK TO COMPLETE USDOT ORDER

CORRECTED: OFAC Removes Cuba-Focused Domain Names From SDN/BP List

On 22 August 2017, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury published a thirty-one (31) page list that included approximately 4,500 Republic of Cuba-focused Internet domain names. 

While the list was thirty-one (31) pages, it included duplicates and the domain names were reported as registered by one company, which is no longer in operation, according to the OFAC.  Thus, the actual number of domain names, removing duplicates, is approximately seventy (70):

WWW.ABOUTCUBA.COM
WWW.BAYAMO.COM
WWW.BONJOURCUBA.COM
WWW.CIAOCUBA.COM
WWW.CIGARSSUPERSTORE.COM
WWW.CUBAADVICE.COM
WWW.CUBA-BARACOA.COM
WWW.CUBA-BAYAMO.COM
WWW.CUBA-CAMAGUEY.COM
WWW.CUBACAYOCOCO
WWW.CUBACAYOGUILLERMO
WWW.CUBACAYOLARGO
WWW.CUBACAYOLEVISA
WWW.CUBACAYOSABINAL
WWW.CUBACAYOSAETIA
WWW.CUBACAYOSANTAMARIA
WWW.CUBACHE
WWW.CUBA-CHE.COM
WWW.CUBACIEGODEAVILA
WWW.CUBACIENFUEGOS.
WWW.CUBAECOTOURISM
WWW.CUBAELGUEA
WWW.CUBAFIRST.COM
WWW.CUBAFUN.COM
WWW.CUBAGIRON
WWW.CUBA-GIRON.COM
WWW.CUBAGRANM
WWW.CUBA-GRANMA.COM
WWW.CUBAGUAMA
WWW.CUBA-GUAMA.COM
WWW.CUBA-GUARDALAVACA.COM
WWW.CUBAHAVANACITY
WWW.CUBA-HAVANACITY.COM
WWW.CUBAHEMINGWAY
WWW.CUBA-HEMINGWAY.COM
WWW.CUBAHOLGUIN
WWW.CUBAISLADELAJUVENTUD
WWW.CUBA-ISLADELAJUVENTUD.COM
WWW.CUBAJARDINESDELEREY
WWW.CUBALAHABANA
WWW.CUBALASTUNAS
WWW.CUBAMATANZAS
WWW.CUBANBASEBALLTRAVEL.COM
WWW.CUBANCULTURE.COM
WWW.CUBAOFFICE
WWW.CUBA-OLDHAVANA.COM
WWW.CUBAONE.COM
WWW.CUBA-PINARDELRIO.COM
WWW.CUBA-SANCTISPIRITUS.COM
WWW.CUBASANTALUCIA
WWW.CUBASANTIAGODECUBA
WWW.CUBA-SHOPPING.COM
WWW.CUBA-SOROA.COM
WWW.CUBASPORTS.COM
WWW.CUBA-TOPESDECOLLANTES.COM
WWW.CUBATRAVELDIRECTORY.COM
WWW.CUBA-TRINIDAD.COM
WWW.CUBA-VARADEROBEACH.COM
WWW.CUBA-VILLACLARA.COM
WWW.CUBAVIP.COM
WWW.CUBAWEATHER
WWW.GOCUBA.COM
WWW.GOCUBA.CU
WWW.GOCUBAPLUS.COM.
WWW.HAVANACITY.COM
WWW.IPIXCUBA.COM.
WWW.NO.GOCUBAPLUS.COM.
WWW.REALESTATECUBA.COM
WWW.TOURANDMARKETING.COM
WWW.VAMOSACUBA.COM

The approximately seventy (70) domain names have been removed from the OFAC list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons List, meaning that the entities may now be engaged by individuals subject to United States jurisdiction.

LINK To 22 August 2017 OFAC List (Note: Pages 100 to 131)

LINK To Related OFAC Media Release Of 8 December 2004

index.jpg

US Cruise Lines Continue To Add Capacity To Cuba, Revenue From Cuba, And Revenue To Cuba

As Of 17 August 2017, The Three Largest United States Cruise Lines Could For 2017/2018/2019:

Deliver 451,000 Passengers To Cuba

280 Sailings To Cuba

US$607 Million In Gross Revenues To The Companies

US$63 Million Spent In Cuba By Passengers

US$18 Million In Port Fees To Cuba

And, transporting, housing, and feeding those potential passengers could mean an additional US$125+ Million to United States airlines and US$55+ million to hotels and restaurants located in South Florida.  Gross United States airline revenues for 2017, excluding the cruise-related revenues, are projected to be US$172 million for United States-Republic of Cuba routes.

The three (3) largest United States-based cruise lines have announced more than 280 itineraries amongst their brands for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 sailing seasons which include the Republic of Cuba.  Additional itineraries are expected to be announced.  And, smaller cruise lines are also operating in the Republic of Cuba marketplace.   

Miami, Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings Ltd

Miami, Florida-based Carnival Corporation & plc

Miami, Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd

In 2016, the three cruise lines combined operated a fleet of approximately 144 vessels, managed approximately 14 brands, earned approximately US$28.8 billion in gross revenues, and employed approximately 218,000 men and women.

If each vessel sails at capacity, a total of more than 451,000 passengers will visit the Republic of Cuba from 2017 through 2019.

The gross revenues to the cruise lines from the 280 Republic of Cuba sailings would be projected to exceed US$607 million from 2017 through 2019.

The 451,000 passengers would be projected to spend approximately US$63 million while in the Republic of Cuba [approximately US$140.00 per person in expenditures and organized/non-organized excursions including cost(s) for tour(s), meals (government-operated and privately-operated), ground transportation (privately-operated classic car tours), sundries and souvenirs (including spirits, coffee, tobacco, artwork and crafts)].  Some passengers could spend considerably more (cigars for example) given the United States duty-free personal exemption of US$800 per person.  

Vessel port charges in the Republic of Cuba may exceed US$18 million, ranging up to approximately US$79,000.00 for the largest vessels (684-passenger to 2,744-passenger).

Complete Analysis In PDF Format

U.S. Secretary Of State Comments On Hearing Issues/Loss By Diplomats In Cuba

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 11, 2017
 
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP AFTER MEETING WITH NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS
 
Trump National Golf Club
Bedminster, New Jersey

5:59 P.M. EDT

Q    Speaking of the State Department right now, these recent acoustic attacks we've learned about regarding diplomats -- American diplomats -- in Cuba.  Who is responsible for the acoustic attacks?  Is it Cuba?  Is it Russia?  Who is to blame for that?
 
SECRETARY TILLERSON:  We have not been able to determine who is to blame.  We do hold the Cuban authorities responsible for the safety and security of all of our people, just as every host country has a responsibility for the safety and security of diplomats in their country.  So we hold the Cuban authorities responsible for finding out who is it carrying out these health attacks on not just our diplomats, but, as you've seen now, there are other cases with other diplomats as well.
 
Q    What do you make of this awful situation that they're losing their hearing, these American diplomats?
 
SECRETARY TILLERSON:  It's awful.  You just described it exactly correctly, which is why we're bringing people out.

Five Issues; And The US Department Of State Spends Two Days Discussing Health Of US Diplomats

The issues relating to:

1) the health of United States nationals with diplomatic status at the United States Embassy in Havana, issues which commenced in 2016 and the undetermined response by the Obama Administration;

2) the non-publicized (either by the Trump Administration or Castro Administration) expulsion in May 2017 of two diplomats accredited to the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington DC;  the Trump Administration uncharacteristically did not take credit in May 2017 for action not taken by the Obama Administration;

3) the continued support by the government of the Republic of Cuba for and benefits received from the government of Venezuela;

4) the continued commercial, economic and political outreach by the government of the Republic of Cuba to the People's Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Russian Federation;

5) and the pending issuance by the Trump Administration of new and revised regulations and policies for individuals and companies relating to travel to and transactions with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities;

will further negatively impact an already corrosive commercial, economic and political bilateral environment.  Any expectation of changes to statutes by the United States Congress is currently illusionary.  The interest by United States companies will likely continue to deteriorate unless the government of the Republic of Cuba accepts significant components of the Obama Administration initiatives and does so quickly.

Department Press Briefings: Department Press Briefing - August 10, 2017
08/10/2017 06:18 PM EDT

Heather Nauert
Spokesperson
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 10, 2017

QUESTION: Cuba?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Let’s go to Cuba.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: I have --

MS NAUERT: Okay. Go right ahead. Hi. How are you?

QUESTION: So do you have any update – I know it’s just recent – on the diplomats and the hearing loss issue? But moreover, does the State Department have any plans for reversing the Obama administration’s efforts to diplomatic ties with Cuba? In other words, reversing the --

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- restoring them, reversing that action?

MS NAUERT: So I don’t have any information on that particular part for you. You mentioned particular medical ailments. That is nothing that I can confirm. I’ve certainly seen that report out in the news media. I hope that those reports would not come from any federal officials. We will not confirm the health status of any Americans, whether they’re in Cuba, back here at home, or elsewhere.

What I can tell you is that these were U.S. Government personnel who were in Cuba, in Havana, on official duty on behalf of the U.S. Government. We consider these to be incidents because we still are trying to work – determine the actual cause of their situation. They have had a variety of physical symptoms. That’s as far as I can go in describing that. We just don’t have the definitive answers yet. This is an active investigation and that investigation is ongoing at this time.

QUESTION: What about the overall diplomatic relationship between Cuba and the United States? Are there any plans to change what the Obama administration put into place?

MS NAUERT: There are – this is a situation that we’re still assessing. When I say an active investigation is underway, in part what that means is we don’t know exactly where this came from. Okay? We can’t blame any one individual or a country at this point yet. An investigation is underway. We take that very seriously. This is a U.S. Government investigation that is taking place. We’ve spoken extensively to the Cubans about this.

As you know, we had two of their Cuban diplomats leave back in late May or so. We do – and the reason that we had them leave is because we said this is the agreement that the United – United States, rather, has with Cuba, and that is that they are responsible for the safety and security of our diplomats while our diplomats are serving in that country. Our Americans were not safe; they were not secure, obviously, because something has happened to them. We take that very seriously. The safety and security of Americans at home and abroad is our top issue. We’ll continue to investigate that.

QUESTION: Global Affairs Canada --

MS NAUERT: Okay. Hold on. Hold on.

QUESTION: Global Affairs Canada --

MS NAUERT: Hold on. Are you done, ma’am?

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you so much.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Okay. Global Affairs Canada, as you might know by now, says its diplomats have been experiencing the same unusual symptoms and it’s working with the U.S. and Cuba to investigate. Is the U.S. working with any other country to investigate these incidents?

MS NAUERT: I won’t comment on anything related to another country. I can’t confirm that. I can only talk about the American piece of it.

QUESTION: And let me just ask you about Congress. This news seemed to catch several key lawmakers in Congress off guard, that deal with Cuba. And at least one U.S. senator has requested a classified briefing from the State Department. Why hasn’t the State Department, if it cares so much about what’s going on with its diplomats, alerted Congress?

MS NAUERT: Oh, there have been conversations that have been going on between the interagency, and I assume – and that means Congress as well. So Congress, as certain folks have been – I can’t tell you exactly who. I don’t know off the top of my head – but have been made aware of this. This is not something that certain members of Congress are learning about for the first time.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask you this: Why are we just learning about this? This – these two Cuban diplomats left on May the 23rd. This has been going on at least eight or nine months, and now we’re just learning about this. Why?

MS NAUERT: As a reporter, you’re going to ask me that question?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS NAUERT: I mean, goodness, you could have been down there reporting on this. Look, no, the honest question is and the real answer to this is: People started experiencing ailments in late 2016. Okay? And think about it; when you have an ailment you don’t always know exactly what’s causing it. Okay? You have that ailment; you maybe decide to put it off for a while, get medical treatment, maybe not. Okay? Some of these things take time to investigate, in particular ones that are – people aren’t certain what has caused them.

So this takes time to figure out. That is why I say an investigation is ongoing. We have provided medical care and medical treatment and screening to our Americans who have asked for that. Some people have been brought home as a result. So I kind of take issue with the tone of your question, as though we don’t care about this. I think we’ve been clear in our responsibility and our – let me finish – and our concern about Americans who are serving on behalf of the U.S. Government in other countries.

QUESTION: Do you think those diplomats that have been experiencing these symptoms are satisfied with the response they’ve gotten from the State Department?

MS NAUERT: I don’t know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Heather, can I you ask you two semi-related?

MS NAUERT: Yes.

QUESTION: One, without getting into any specific country – names of other countries that might have had diplomats involved, are you aware of – that diplomats from other countries were – had suffered similar --

QUESTION: Physical --

QUESTION: -- physical symptoms?

MS NAUERT: I have seen reports, and that’s all I can say about that.

QUESTION: Okay, but so you don’t – so you’re unable to say whether or not this was only something that happened to Americans.

MS NAUERT: I just can’t confirm here from a U.S. Government post that other countries may have or have not had the same issue happen to them. I can only speak to what Americans have faced.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria next?

QUESTION: One more on Cuba.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS NAUERT: Okay, are we – Cuba? Hi, hey.

QUESTION: You seem to leave open the possibility that another country is involved in some of this --

MS NAUERT: I didn’t. I didn’t. This guy right here next to you did.

QUESTION: Sorry, apologies. Not that someone else has been attacked, but that they seem to be – the possibility of a third country being involved in the attacks themselves, as in it might not be the Cubans who are behind the idea. So --

MS NAUERT: I know people want answers. I appreciate that. Okay? But this is an ongoing investigation. We don’t have all the answers yet. So I appreciate that you want to try to push me to say something. I’m not going to get ahead of the investigators, I’m not going to get ahead of this investigation, I’m not going to create storylines for you that don’t match up with the facts as we know them right now. Okay? So I’m not going to get into that. It is an area that is under investigation that is a major concern of ours.

QUESTION: Can you say if, going back in research, that this building has seen anything similar to this in the past?

MS NAUERT: Matt, that’s a good question. I have not --

QUESTION: Whether it’s in Cuba or anywhere else.

MS NAUERT: Yeah, I’m not personally aware of that. I can certainly ask some of our folks who have been around for longer than I have about that and see what I can do for you.

QUESTION: That would be pretty much everyone in the building. (Laughter.) That’s not the --

MS NAUERT: I’ve been here three months now. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: -- not to be an insult. And then the last thing on this: You have seen the response or the statement that the Cuban Government put out last night saying that it does not condone any, would not allow any kind of, I don’t know --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: -- interference with foreign diplomats, and that it takes seriously and respects its Vienna Convention obligations. Do you accept that?

MS NAUERT: I would just say this about what you mentioned: We remain in regular contact with the Cuban Government. They are providing some guidance, some assistance on this investigation as the investigation is underway. We – in that regular contact, we hope to resolve this matter in a satisfactory fashion. And let me just leave it at that. Okay?

QUESTION: Right. But I just want to – I mean, do you take at face value when they – do you accept it that they respect – I mean, you made a big point yesterday of talking about the Vienna Convention and how Cuba has obligations under it to protect foreign diplomats.

MS NAUERT: Yeah. And they talked about that, yeah. But --

QUESTION: Right. And they say that they do.

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: But clearly, you don’t think that --

MS NAUERT: Well, look, I think --

QUESTION: -- they do.

MS NAUERT: -- U.S. Government officials have been affected in some way --

QUESTION: Right.

MS NAUERT: -- by these incidents. Physically affected by these incidents. It is the Cuban Government’s obligation under the Geneva Convention – excuse me, under --

QUESTION: Vienna.

MS NAUERT: Vienna, thank you. Under Vienna Conventions to ensure the safety and protection of our diplomats there.

QUESTION: But, so you’re – I think what you’re saying is that despite the statement from last night, you’re still not convinced?

MS NAUERT: They have an obligation to do that, and that obviously did not happen. Okay.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS NAUERT: Anything else? Are we done with Cuba?

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

MS NAUERT: Okay.

QUESTION: Got a tad more on that.

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: Have staffing levels at the mission returned to the levels they were before the incidents came to light?

MS NAUERT: I can tell you this: that our embassy there in Havana is fully operational, it is fully staffed, they are still involved in business. As a precaution and for concern and the well-being of our embassy staffers there, we’ve allowed a limited number of personnel to curtail their tours of duty, and what that can mean is that some of them can transfer posts, come home if they want, or try to go elsewhere.

QUESTION: Well, wait a second. If the embassy is fully staffed --

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that means that however many number left that you reciprocated by telling the Cubans they had to take two – they had to get two out, if you’re saying it’s now fully staffed, can’t – can the Cubans bring their two guys back or two diplomats back?

MS NAUERT: We brought our people home out of care and concern for their medical well-being.

QUESTION: I understand, but if they had been replaced and you’re now fully staffed and you’re back up at the number of diplomats, they should --

MS NAUERT: Well, I don’t know that we’re – this is where you guys want to get into the number of people at our embassies, and I’m not going to do that, as you know that. I mean, I don’t know if we’re down one or if we’re up one in terms of our embassy personnel. That --

QUESTION: Well, when you say “fully staffed,” that suggests that --

MS NAUERT: “Fully staffed” means we have people doing the jobs.

QUESTION: Heather, I understand that, but if you told the Cubans they had to lose two diplomats from their embassy here because – in a reciprocal manner because you lost the two from – I mean, you lost the --

MS NAUERT: I have never – I have never indicated any number.

QUESTION: -- okay, because you lost the number from there and now you say it’s fully staffed, that would suggest that however many people left from your embassy are now back.

MS NAUERT: Look, I’m not going to get down this rabbit hole of numbers of people – yeah.

QUESTION: And that would mean then that it is no longer necessary for the Cuban embassy to be down two staffers.

MS NAUERT: Matt, I’m not going to draw that conclusion. We are open for business.

QUESTION: Well, this is pretty standard diplomacy.

QUESTION: But is Cuba safe --

MS NAUERT: We are – we are – hold on. We are open for business. There are people there doing the work. If we’re up one, down one, I’m not going to get into those kinds of details. Okay? But just understand that the work is being done there. Okay?

Department Press Briefings: Department Press Briefing - August 9, 2017
08/09/2017 06:07 PM EDT

Heather Nauert
Spokesperson
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 9, 2017

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the incidents that have been going on in Havana affecting U.S. Government workers there?

MS NAUERT: Yes. So we are certainly aware of what has happened there. Give me one second here. And that’s why we got a little bit of a late start getting some recent updates for you on this.

So some U.S. Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duties – so they were there working on behalf of the U.S. embassy there – they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms. I’m not going to be able to give you a ton of information about this today, but I’ll tell you what we do have that we can provide so far.

We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents. We can tell you that on May 23rd, the State Department took further action. We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States. We take this situation very seriously. One of the things we talk about here often is that the safety and security of American citizens at home and abroad is our top priority. We’re taking that situation seriously and it’s under investigation right now.

QUESTION: If the U.S. doesn’t have a definitive answer on the cause or source of the incidents, why did it ask those two Cuban embassy officials to depart the U.S.?

MS NAUERT: Look, our – some of our people have had the option of leaving Cuba as a result for medical reasons.

QUESTION: And how many?

MS NAUERT: I can’t tell you the exact number of that, but I can --

QUESTION: But was it in the tens, dozens?

MS NAUERT: I’m not going to characterize it. I do not believe it was that large, certainly not that large, but we had to bring some Americans home or some Americans chose to go home – come home as a result of that. And as a result of that, we’ve asked two Cubans to leave the United States and they have.

QUESTION: In other words, this is a reciprocity thing, right? You’re --

MS NAUERT: I’m not going to call it as such, but we asked two people to go home.

QUESTION: And how long has this been going on for?

MS NAUERT: So we first heard about these incidents back in late 2016.

QUESTION: And who is leading the investigation?

MS NAUERT: The U.S. Government is investigating this. I’m just – I’m not going to get into it prior to that.

QUESTION: What agency?

MS NAUERT: I’m not going to – going to get into it. You know which law enforcement agencies we have that would be concerned about this. The State Department is involved, but you could check with others as well.

QUESTION: And just real quickly, was it just State Department employees or other employees from other government agencies?

MS NAUERT: So these were – my understanding is that it has only affected State Department employees. This has not affected any private U.S. citizens down there. We take this very seriously. Look --

QUESTION: What is “this?”

MS NAUERT: This incident. This incident.

QUESTION: But what is the incident?

MS NAUERT: And that’s what – and that’s what we’re calling it. We don’t know exactly what --

QUESTION: This has been going on since 2016 and you don’t know what this incident is?

MS NAUERT: What this requires is providing medical examinations to these people. Initially, when they started reporting what I will just call symptoms, it took time to figure out what it was, and this is still ongoing. So we’re monitoring it. We provide medical care and concern to those who believe that they have been affected by it, and we take this extremely seriously.

QUESTION: So do you – just getting back to my question on reciprocity, and I know you don’t want to use the word, but is it – did you – did – were the two Cubans told or asked to leave because of a similar or proportional drawdown in the U.S. staff in Havana because of these symptoms?

MS NAUERT: I’m not going to characterize it that way at all. I can just – I can only tell you the two were asked to leave and they did.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you’re --

MS NAUERT: Because what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to draw an equivalency. You’re trying to say two guys were asked to go home and therefore X number of Americans were brought home, and I’m not – just not going to make that comparison.

QUESTION: But actually I’m – well, I’m not saying there’s a direct proportion, although maybe the Russians might disagree on that. But the reason that the two left is because you had to reduce your staff, or have the people who left Havana been replaced?

MS NAUERT: Some – I’m not sure if our people who have left Havana have been replaced. I know that we’ve given our employees there a chance to come home if they would like to, and they have jobs here.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS NAUERT: Let me just mention one other thing about this. The Cuban Government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva Convention to protect our diplomats, so that is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours, why we take this so seriously, and in addition to the protection and security of Americans. I hope I’ve answered your question.

QUESTION: Can I have – question on Syria?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Any – hold on. Anything else on Cuba?

QUESTION: Can you just give us a sense of are these medical problems ongoing or was this a short-term thing?

MS NAUERT: And you’ve heard me say this here before: When we talk about medical issues about Americans, we don’t get into it. So I can just tell you that it was – it is a cause of great concern for us, it’s caused a variety of physical symptoms in these American citizens who work for the U.S. Government. We take those incidents very seriously and there is an investigation currently underway.

QUESTION: I mean, can you say are they life-threatening? I mean, the physical symptom is – wasn’t death, was it?

MS NAUERT: No, it was not. It was not, not life --

QUESTION: And – but not life-threatening?

MS NAUERT: Not life-threatening, and I’ll leave it at that. Anything else on Cuba?

QUESTION: Can we go back to North Korea?

MS NAUERT: Anything else on Cuba?

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS NAUERT: We’re done with Cuba, correct? Okay. Let’s go to North Korea. Hi.

U.S. Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Increase 118%

ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA©
August 2017

June 2017 Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Increased 118%- 1
June 2017 Healthcare Product Exports US$1,003,391.00- 2
June 2017 Humanitarian Donations US$341,933.00- 2
Obama Administration Initiatives Product Exports Continue To Increase- 3
U.S. Port Export Data- 13

JUNE 2017 FOOD/AG EXPORTS TO CUBA INCREASED 118%- Exports of food products & agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in June 2017 were US$24,630,738.00 compared to US$11,283,520.00 in June 2016 and US$9,596,281.00 in June 2015.  

Complete Report In PDF Format

U.S. Secretary Of Agriculture Discusses Changing Payment Terms For Exports To Cuba

Ag Secretary Purdue visits Illinois; talks trade, immigration, regulation

By Tim Landis Tribune News Service
The State Journal-Register
Springfield, Illinois

8 August 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with farmers and local ag officials in Springfield on Monday during a stop on his five-state, Midwest listening tour.

"Q. What’s the future of trade relations with Cuba?

A. The problem with Cuba is their inability to pay for it. Some people would support the ability to go to the private market for capital. That would be helpful to agriculture.

I support the president in not rewarding a nation that’s oppressed the people like the Cuban people have been oppressed over the years. I do not favor using taxpayer-funded credits for Cuba. I think that would be very selfish on our part in agriculture in the U.S. While we think it’s a good market, actually there are better markets to go after in Southeast Asia, in Europe, South Korea, Japan, and developing markets in other places."

A reason why legislation to permit private sector payment terms for agricultural exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba continues to fail?

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/5/11/want-to-have-a-legislative-victory-then-be-specific-define-payment-terms?rq=want%20a%20

Air China Establishes Office In Havana, Cuba

HAVANA, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's flagship airline, Air China, opened on Thursday a commercial office in Cuba to boost tourism cooperation between the two nations and the Caribbean area.

In a ceremony chaired by China's ambassador to Cuba Chen Xi and Air China's general manager in Cuba Zhang Xin, the office opened to facilitate travel between the Cuban capital and Beijing through the direct flight which has been operating since the end of 2015.

"The Air China brand has been increasingly popular in Cuba and the Caribbean countries. From today on, we will offer better services to all passengers with this office," Zhang said.

He introduced that since the inaugural flight of Air China to Cuba about 24,000 travelers of different nationalities have chosen to take this airline.

"There have been 156 flights between Beijing and Havana and we have maintained regularity, safety and comfort in all its trips," he said.

For his part, Ambassador Chen said the opening of this office, together with the existing regular flights, will promote cooperation in the tourism and air transport sectors.

"This direct flight has played an important role in facilitating personal exchanges between China and Cuba as well as Latin America. In addition, it has greatly contributed to the development of cooperation in different areas," Chen said.

The diplomat stated that Sino-Cuban relations are at their best after more than half a century of ties and without a doubt this direct link will help promote the visit of Chinese tourists to the island.

"Cuba has very attractive natural resources for Chinese tourists, very warm people, as well as a picturesque landscape, blue seas and fine beaches," he said.

Chen said that cooperation in tourism and air transport will have great potential and good prospects due to the interest of Chinese travelers to know Cuba and different Caribbean nations.

With a duration of almost 20 hours of flight and a technical stop in Montreal, Canada, Air China's flight to Cuba is the only direct link between China and the Caribbean region.

Why Did An Obama Administration NSC Official Perpetrate A Falsehood To “The Hill”?

He argues that the statutory speed limit for Republic of Cuba-related policy and regulatory changes was reached by 20 January 2017 and there was no opportunity to exceed it… in reality, the Obama Administration was doing 35 mph in a 55 mph zone for 766 days.  Couldn’t it have at least considered 45 mph or braved 60 mph?

An argument as to strategy versus statute would have a foundation; one that could be argued.  This is not that argument.  This is a progressive re-write of history to disguise culpability for a dissolving attempt at normalized relations between the United States and Republic of Cuba.

United States companies appreciated and continue to appreciate the risks relating to commercial engagement with the Republic of Cuba; and some were prepared to accept those risks; the Obama Administration unilaterally created limitations as to how the United States private sector defined opportunity.  That wasn’t their job.

The policy and regulatory changes that were critical for commercial engagement with the Republic of Cuba, which would have likely compelled the government of the Republic of Cuba to accept that engagement, were denied by the Obama Administration.

The comments by the individual are likened to knowingly spreading as fertilizer falsehoods with an expectation that the more they are spread, the more factual they will become: the Obama Administration did all that it could do; applaud those efforts.

The Trump Administration can do what it will because of what the Obama Administration and Castro Administration did not do… by choice, not by law.  Most of the “disadvantages” to United States companies were inflicted by the Obama Administration.

The comments by the individual are efforts to promote legislative activity to then profit from it as a consultant; presenting as a hero to those who sought more- i.e., Obama Administration staff did all that was possible.

The article on 26 July 2017 in The Hill provided a sound narrative, sadly one of too few, as to what the Obama Administration did and did not do.  There are, however, twofold concerns with the article.  Important to note that the Castro Administration shares culpability for what did not happen.

First, United States companies had 766 days throughout which to engage with the Republic of Cuba; and the expectation by many beginning at the end of 2015 and continuing through the first ten months (or more) of 2016 was for an 8 November 2016 transition from one member of the Democrat Party to another member of the Democrat Party.  The focus is about fluidity rather than point-to-point. 

Most United States companies were not hesitant as they did not expect disruption to Obama Administration policies and regulations from its successor; quite the contrary- they expected at minimum continuity and at maximum expansion. 

That United States companies were hesitant because of the potential that policies and regulations might be reversed is a component of the hesitancy; the primary reason for hesitancy was that the Obama Administration did not do more throughout the 766 days despite advocacy to do so.  More should have been done in a front-loaded manner to provide ample opportunity for United States companies to present to and contract with the government of the Republic of Cuba well-before the third quarter of 2016.  The Obama Administration never planned for an end to their legacy-building efforts; they were wrong to do so.  They waited too long.  They never did what was difficult. 

Second, the two concluding paragraphs of the article provide, without challenge or refute, that the reason for what the Obama Administration did not do was due to the constraint of a statute or statutes, rather than due to a constraint of vision.

Mr. Mark Feierstein, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) during the Obama Administration, has been asked to provide the statute(s) that he posited as the reason(s) for what the Obama Administration did not do with respect to policy and regulatory changes relating to the Republic of Cuba.  He has chosen not to respond.  That’s not surprising.  What he was quoted as saying was demonstrably untrue, was false; what some might consider a lie.

Some of what the Obama Administration did (and partially didn’t) do:

·        authorize only two commercial (agricultural) imports- coffee and charcoal; there is no statutory limitation as to number.  There is no statute that proscribes zero products or one product or two products or three products or more.  There is no statute that requires coffee instead of mango or tobacco; charcoal instead of bricks or alcoholic beverages. 

·        50% of what was required for direct correspondent banking- Republic of Cuba government-operated banks were not permitted to have accounts with United States-based banks, but United States-based banks were permitted to have accounts with Republic of Cuba government-operated banks.  Result was continuation of an inefficient and expensive three-country process to send and receive funds relating to authorized transactions.  One small United States bank located in the state of Florida has an account with a Republic of Cuba government-operated bank; to send and receive funds, transactions use a Panama-based bank, which receives revenues from the transactions.  And the statute(s) that required this?

·        limited removal of international financial transaction restrictions (complete removal would have encouraged large-scale banking and credit card/charge card/debit card activity; three United States banks have authorized their Mastercard-branded products.  No Visa.  No American Express.  No Discover).

·        two meetings about the 5,913 certified claims in 2,923 days (766 days if calculated from 17 December 2014).  The Libertad Act of 1996 encourages the settlement of the certified claims.

·        Cabinet Secretaries disagreeing about whether their delegations could include representatives of United States companies.  Two said no; one said yes.  Was one in violation of United States law? 

None of the above-referenced were prohibited by a statute or statutes.  They were limited by timid decision, not limited by law.  The driving equivalent is choosing to travel at 35 mph when the speed limit is 55 mph.  At least two results: impeding traffic which wants to move at a faster pace and increasing the time until reaching a destination.  For United States companies, they were left with less opportunity to decide and fewer opportunities about which to decide.

Each of the following activities are authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce, and United States Department of State.  Although permitted by regulations and policies implemented during the Obama Administration and thus far uninterrupted during the Trump Administration, the Castro Administration has not permitted United States companies to have:

·        representative offices (other than airlines)

·        retail stores

·        distribution centers

·        assembly facilities

·        manufacturing operations

·        ferry services (even on a trial basis)

·        permit United States companies to directly export to the 200+ categories of licensed businesses; products could have payment/financing terms and include machinery, agricultural equipment, restaurant equipment, beauty salon supplies, and many other products

If Mr. Feierstein had said that because the Castro Administration had not permitted all or most or some of these activities, the Obama Administration believed that further expansive policy and regulatory changes were inappropriate, there would be an argument for that position.  This is not, however, what Mr. Feierstein presented and what The Hill reported.

It’s revisionism.  That’s being polite.

In Cuba, Obama policies only went so far

BY MELANIE ZANONA - 07/26/17

HAVANA — Hanging in the office of a mechanics garage in central Havana, where Julio Álvarez has made a living off of renovating classic American cars and chauffeuring tourists around the island, a round yellow sign reads: “We use genuine Chevrolet parts.”

But those words do little to convey how hard Álvarez works behind the scenes to obtain American goods from the United States — a chronic challenge facing many Cubans despite a series of regulatory changes from President Obama designed to ease restrictions on trade and commerce between the U.S. and Cuba.

While Obama made it legal for Cuban nationals to open bank accounts in the U.S. last March, private Cuban businesses were not authorized to set up their own financial accounts in the country. There are also limited services and restrictions on the allowed transactions for Cubans who do have U.S. accounts.

Speaking through a translator, Álvarez explained that he has to purchase automobile parts in America using U.S. dollars, but as a business owner, he isn’t allowed to have his own bank account in the country. That means he has to borrow someone else’s credit card in the U.S. — a process that he says ends up costing him 20 percent more.

“The only way I can restore all these cars is importing parts from the U.S. … But I don’t have a credit card or bank account to pay the people who sell the parts,” Álvarez said. “So I need to use a credit card from a friend. And normally people charge you to use their card.”

“It’s very expensive to give life to these cars,” he added.

One month after President Trump announced that he was reversing some of Obama’s efforts to thaw relations between Washington and Havana, it’s clear that things still haven’t even fully melted yet.

Cuban entrepreneurs, economists and officials — who support lifting the embargo — acknowledged during a three-day visit to Cuba’s capital by The Hill that some of Obama’s policy changes toward the country didn’t go as far as they could have.

Part of the reason is that the Obama administration had only been implementing changes for two years before Trump took over. But it’s also because Obama, who was eager to push ahead with the historic rapprochement, made changes unilaterally, meaning some of his policies lacked the teeth to be fully realized.

One example is the promise that American cash and credit would flow through the country.  In an effort to make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, Obama made it legal for banks to allow U.S. travelers to use debit and credit cards while visiting. Yet years after the move, only a small Florida-based bank has actually followed through.

Nervous financial institutions have been afraid to operate in Cuba because they are worried that Obama’s policies, which were all done through executive order, could just as easily be undone by Trump.

The failure to allow the transactions has created headaches for American travelers, who should carry around huge wads of cash in Cuba. It’s also an issue for U.S. companies trying to do business there. 

U.S. hotels that have opened up in Cuba have to use third-party banks to secure the necessary financing.

And Airbnb, which considers Cuba its fastest-growing market, uses intermediaries to pay Cuban hosts. Sometimes that involves delivering money directly to a host’s doorstep, a process that can take 15 days and may be impractical.
“They pay us in cash. Airbnb sends money to all the Cubans,” said Julia de la Rosa, co-owner of La Rosa de Ortega B&B, which is listed on Airbnb. “It is a very complex mechanism.”

In his package of regulatory changes announced last year, Obama also allowed so-called U-turn transactions, which would permit U.S. banks to process international transactions between Cuba and other non-U.S. parties. That has been a top priority for Cuba, since most dollar-denominated transactions are cleared through the U.S. financial system.

But even though the banks are allowed to process such transactions, they aren’t required to do so, and thus have been reluctant to handle them amid the cloud of uncertainty.

The banks are likely wary of facing hefty fines. The U.S. has penalized international banks in the past for violating U.S. sanctions because of processing Cuban financial transactions.

“Former President Obama issued a measure to make it possible, the use of the U.S. dollar, the U.S. currency, in international transactions related to Cuba. … It couldn’t be implemented,” said María de la Luz B’Hamel, director of North American commercial policy for Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment.

“Because at the same time, the Treasury Department did not stop announcing and applying sanctions and measures against companies and banks because of transactions that they had in the past. … By nature, [banks] are conservative, but if they are threatened in that way, it’s even worse.”

Even before Trump was sworn into office, Cubans had been pressing the White House to offer more flexibility when it comes to bank accounts and to provide greater assurances to U.S. financial organizations that have been too scared to engage with Cuba.

“We had been discussing this when Obama’s administration came,” Álvarez said. “We have talked to two banks, but nothing has been done.”

Challenges in shipping

Another knotty issue is allowing goods and packages to be shipped to Cuba from the U.S.  The U.S. Postal Service resumed direct mail service to Cuba last March, but packages and gifts are subject to weight restrictions, and their retail value can’t exceed $800. That’s why it is common to see people in the airport lugging toys, home goods and other U.S. products onto Cuba-bound flights.

The Obama administration did, however, authorize sending direct cargo. FedEx got approval to start scheduled flights to Cuba beginning this April. But the cargo company had to get an extension until October 2017, citing “operational challenges.”

“The extension … is needed in order to address operational challenges in the Cuban market,” FedEx said in a statement to reporters at the time. “FedEx is continuing to work to establish ground support services necessary for express delivery services for our customers.”  Cubans are thus still facing hurdles in trying to obtain goods from the U.S.

Álvarez, whose fleet of classic cars includes a black 1959 Chevy Impala and pink 1955 Chevy Bel Air, says he can’t always fly to America to personally pick up automobile parts that he has purchased. In that case, Álvarez has to first have the parts shipped to Panama and then shipped to Cuba, which he says can slow down his business.  “It can take at least six months to get parts in Cuba,” Álvarez said.

While Cubans had pressed for more changes, those who were involved in the policymaking said they believe the Obama administration went as far as it legally could without violating the embargo — something only Congress could lift.

“In the Obama administration, we went as far as the law would allow in making it easier to travel to and engage in commerce with Cuba,” said Mark Feierstein, Obama’s senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. 

“Now it’s up to Congress, which has the authority to lift the embargo and end a policy that hurts the Cuban people and disadvantages American companies and workers.” 

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/343754-in-cuba-obama-policies-only-went-so-far

 Complete Analysis In PDF Format

OFAC Issues New Guidance For Cuba Regulations- Adds "Subentities"

UPDATED JULY 25, 2017

Department of the Treasury

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump’s Cuba Announcement

1.      How will OFAC implement the changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President on June 16, 2017?  Are the changes effective immediately?

OFAC will implement the Treasury-specific changes via amendments to its Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The Department of Commerce will implement any necessary changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations. OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming months. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

2.      What is individual people-to-people travel, and how does the President’s announcement impact this travel authorization?

Individual people-to-people travel is educational travel that: (i) does not involve academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

3.      Will group people-to-people travel still be authorized?

Yes. Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must: (i) maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba; and (ii) be accompanied by an employee, consultant, or agent of the sponsoring organization, who will ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities. In addition, the predominant portion of the activities engaged in by individual travelers must not be with prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party (as defined in the regulations). Once OFAC issues the new regulations, new individual people-to-people travel will not be authorized.

4.      Will organizations subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsor exchanges to promote people-to-people contact be required to apply to OFAC for a specific license?

No. To the extent that proposed travel falls within the scope of an existing general license, including group people-to-people educational travel, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may proceed with sponsoring such travel without applying to OFAC for a specific license. It is OFAC’s policy not to grant applications for a specific license authorizing transactions where a general license is applicable.

Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions, including travel-related transactions, may be initiated with these identified entities and subentities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or subentities will still be authorized.  See FAQ 8.

5.      How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel arrangements (such as purchasing flights, hotels, or rental cars)?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip would also be authorized, including if the trip occurs after OFAC issues new regulations, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June 16, 2017. Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions may be initiated with these identified entities and subentities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or subentities will still be authorized.  See FAQ 8.

6.      How does the new policy impact other authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction?

The new policy will also impact certain categories of educational travel as well as travel under support for the Cuban people, as set forth in the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the President on June 16, 2017.  In addition, following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department will not be permitted, unless otherwise authorized by OFAC.  Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

7.      Will persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be required to apply to OFAC for a specific license to engage in Cuba-related travel and transactions consistent with the other authorized categories of travel?

To the extent that proposed travel falls within the scope of an existing general license, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may proceed with such travel without applying to OFAC for a specific license. It is OFAC’s policy not to grant applications for a specific license authorizing transactions where a general license is applicable. Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions may be initiated with these identified entities and subentities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or subentities will still be authorized.  See FAQ 8.

8.      How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect authorized travelers to Cuba whose travel arrangements may include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Consistent with the Administration’s interest to avoid negatively impacting Americans for arranging lawful travel to Cuba, any travel-related arrangements that include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those travel arrangements were initiated prior to the State Department listing of the entity or subentity. Once the State Department adds an entity or subentity to the list, new direct financial transactions with the entity or subentity will not be permitted, unless authorized by OFAC.

9.      How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction that are already engaged in the Cuban market and that may undertake direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

 The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.  Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting American businesses for engaging in lawful commercial opportunities, Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes direct transactions with entities and subentities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted after the issuance of new regulations by OFAC, provided that those commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations. For example, businesses will be permitted to continue with transactions outlined in contingent or other types of contractual arrangements agreed to prior to the issuance of the new regulations, consistent with other CACR authorizations.

10.  Does the new policy affect the means by which persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?

No. The new policy will not change the means by which persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to Cuba pursuant to the 12 categories of authorized travel may purchase their airline tickets.

11.  Can I continue to send authorized remittances to Cuba?

Yes. The announced policy changes will not change the authorizations for sending remittances to Cuba. Additionally, the announced changes include an exception that will allow for transactions incidental to the sending, processing, and receipt of authorized remittances to the extent they would otherwise be restricted by the new policy limiting transactions with certain identified Cuban military, intelligence, or security services. However, consistent with the President’s policy announcement, changes will be made to the definition of prohibited members of Government of Cuba that may exclude certain persons from receipt of such remittances.

12.  How will the new policy impact existing OFAC specific licenses?

The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect authorized transactions under existing specific licenses, unless explicitly noted.

13.  How will U.S. companies know if a Cuban counterpart is affiliated with a prohibited entity or subentity in Cuba?

The State Department will be publishing a list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

14.  Is authorized travel by cruise ship or passenger vessel to Cuba impacted by the new Cuba policy?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will still be able to engage in authorized travel to Cuba by cruise ship or passenger vessel.

Following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities and subentities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted.  Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

For more information on the National Security Presidential Memorandum visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/16/fact-sheet-cuba-policy.

Guidance In PDF Format

Those With Preferential Access To Obama Administration Seek From Trump Administration What They Couldn’t Get  

Those With Preferential Access To Obama Administration Seek From Trump Administration What They Couldn’t Get.  Really?  Yes.  

Time To Shift From Relational To Transactional?

Game Of Chicken Using Repelling Magnets

Brilliant To Focus Upon FAR

On 18 July 2017, an event in Washington DC made use of eight (8) Republic of Cuba nationals who are licensed to engage in some of the 200+ categories of government-authorized self-employment in the Republic of Cuba. 

The primary focus of the event was to sway the Trump Administration to limit the reach of its regulatory and policy revisions expected to be implemented in September 2017.  In so doing, however, they unmasked the reason for another agenda.

The Honorable Jeff Flake (R- Arizona) and The Honorable Patrick Leahy (D- Vermont), members of the United States Senate, and an advocacy/lobbying organization chose to shield the reason for a component of the necessity for such an event:  their failures with the Obama Administration.

These Members of Congress along with others from both chambers- Democrat, Republican, Independent and advocates and lobbyists, (above the radar and below the radar) had eight (8) years of the Obama Administration (including twenty-five (25) months from 17 December 2014 when the official rapprochement was announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro) during which they enjoyed preferential access to officials of the Obama Administration- within The White House, the United States Department of State, United States Department of Commerce, United States Department of Justice, and United States Department of the Treasury and preferential access to officials of the Castro Administration- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Interior, Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Chamber of Commerce.  The numbers of exchanges (public and undisclosed) in Washington DC and in Havana was counted in the hundreds.

Now, along with lessening the impact of to-be-revised regulations and policies, they seek from the Trump Administration new regulations and policies- what they failed to obtain from the Obama Administration when there was a stated desire from The White House for full-throttled engagement and these individuals had their emails responded to within minutes. 

They want continued political (financial) support to perpetuate this malpractice; to support their livelihood and relevance.  The support should be decapitated

There mustn’t be a repeat of the same mistakes by the same individuals.  United States companies should not listen to advice from those who failed to obtain more (including the most basic commercial requirements) when they should have been able to do so and now want to be supported and paid to prevent changes to what they failed to secure while promoting their unique access to and influence of officials in Washington DC and Havana.

If change is desired, why are these individuals determined to maintain the most illusory pathway?  These are the brilliant political strategists who squandered twenty-five months seeking legislative remedies- which were never going to happen, rather than seeking regulatory remedies- which should have been easy to obtain given the self-promoted unique access to the Obama Administration which was claimed by these individuals.

The narrative becomes more absurd when the letter they created and sent under the signatures of the eight Republic of Cuba nationals to the United States Department of State, United States Department of the Treasury and United States Department of Commerce includes the following passages:

·       “Third, we recommend greater flexibility for Cubans wishing to open bank accounts in the United States. Many Cuban entrepreneurs purchase goods and services in the United States to help run their businesses. Cubans are legally permitted to open bank accounts in the U.S., but there are restrictions on the allowable transactions, and limited and uncertain account services, impairing businesses in both countries.”

·       “Expand the allowable transactions for Cubans holding bank accounts in the U.S. to include business-related transactions including the acquisition of goods for business use. 

·       Do not close, and allow access to U.S. bank accounts held by Cubans when the Cuban individual is not present in the U.S.  

·       Make public statements clarifying the intent of the Administration to allow Cubans to open bank accounts in the U.S. (limiting risk for banks).” 

There is value in what the letter requests.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is to not permit the history to be obscured by the present.  

For twenty-five months, the Obama Administration and the government of the Republic of Cuba engaged in commercial malpractice.  That neither party modeled for an 8 November 2016 election outcome other than a victory for the nominee of the Democrat Party was both a preventable and catastrophic failure.  Where was the forward-thinking (evaluating the impact of the unexpected) political intelligence in Washington DC and in Havana?  What were Members of Congress, advocates, lobbyists, and diplomats talking about? 

What the Trump Administration seeks to do is a direct result of what the Obama Administration did not do in terms of expanded regulations and issuance of licenses; and what the Castro Administration did not do in terms of enlarging the portfolio of opportunities for United States companies.   

What the Obama Administration did (and partially didn’t) with the purported support from some Members of Congress, advocates and lobbyists; if the supporters were unable to obtain these easily digestible (and critically important) regulatory/policy changes, what value (access) do they have with the Trump Administration?

·       authorize only two commercial agricultural imports- coffee and charcoal; there was no statutory limitation as to number.

·       50% of what was required for direct correspondent banking- Republic of Cuba government-operated banks were not permitted to have accounts with United States-based banks, but United States-based banks were permitted to have accounts with Republic of Cuba government-operated banks.  Result was continuation of an inefficient and expensive three-country process to send and receive funds relating to authorized transactions.  One small United States bank located in the state of Florida has an account with a Republic of Cuba government-operated bank; to send and receive funds, transactions use a Panama-based bank, which receives revenues from the transactions.

·       limited removal of international financial transaction restrictions (complete removal would have encouraged large-scale banking and credit card/charge card/debit card activity; three United States banks have authorized their Mastercard-branded products.  No Visa.  No American Express.  No Discover).

·       two meetings about the 5,913 certified claims in 2,923 days (766 days if calculated from 17 December 2014).

·       Cabinet Secretaries disagreeing about whether their delegations could include representatives of United States companies. 

·       more than two hundred (200) representatives of the United States government visited the Republic of Cuba during the final twenty-six months of the Obama Administration- including the President, First Lady, Second Lady and six (6) members of the Cabinet; and more than one hundred (100) representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba visited the United States during the same period.

Although permitted by regulations and policies implemented during the Obama Administration and thus far uninterrupted during the Trump Administration, the government to the Republic of Cuba has not permitted United States companies to have:

·       representative offices (other than airlines)

·       retail stores

·       distribution centers

·       assembly facilities

·       manufacturing operations

·       ferry services (even on a trial basis)

·       permit United States companies to directly export to the 200+ categories of licensed businesses? 

Each of these activities are authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce, and United States Department of State.

Why aren’t Members of Congress and advocates and lobbyists holding public events in Havana with representatives of the National Assembly of People’s Power to seek support from the government of the Republic of Cuba and its citizens to make changes to regulations and policies which would make easier and make permanent direct engagement with United States companies?  Because, they will argue, pressure, transparency and enlightenment are not effective tools in Havana; whatever they have been and continue to use in Havana and in Washington DC haven’t been effective and sustainable tools.

Members of Congress, United States government officials, advocates and lobbyists who spent twenty-five months attending self-congratulatory cocktail parties, meetings (public, undisclosed and secret), conferences (including exclusive use of facilities at The White House), hearings, and media events are responsible for the fragility of the presence in the Republic of Cuba by United States companies. 

By focusing upon interacting with those with whom they agreed, they neglected to listen to voices with historical commercial perspective, with a not unexpected result.

There remain too many licenses and authorizations issued by the OFAC, BIS, and United States Department of State that have yet to be implemented- and the validity of some licenses may expire before what could have been will have been.

The most callous example of political duplicity by some Members of Congress, advocates and lobbyists relate to introducing legislation to change the cash-in-advance payment requirement of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000 which re-authorized the direct export of food products and agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.  Since the first exports in December 2001, more than US$5.4 billion in food products and agricultural commodities have been exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba on a cash-in-advance basis.

Two questions have never been answered: 1) Why have no United States companies or financial institutions publicly stated that they would, if permitted by United States law, provide payment terms to a Republic of Cuba government-operated entity?  2) Why has the government of the Republic of Cuba refused to state what payment terms it would seek- 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, 365 days, 720 days?

Until these questions are answered, those in the United States supporting a change to TSREEA and the government of the Republic of Cuba are engaging in a game of Chicken using repelling magnets- they will neither align nor collide.

There are opportunities to advocate for restraint by the Trump Administration.  To do so, however, requires tri-partisan and transparent negotiations with those who seek an expansive use of regulations and policies. 

A thirty-three-plus (33+) month history by some advocates and lobbyists insulting, belittling, and admonishing as irrelevant those Members of Congress (and officials of the Trump Administration, including the President) with whom they disagree is unlikely to create an atmosphere within which anything would be accomplished.  Many of these advocates and lobbyists have become toxic.

The Trump Administration is brilliant in focusing its attention toward entities controlled directly or indirectly by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of the Republic of Cuba because no chairman, chief executive officer, or president of a substantive (especially publicly-held) United States company will publicly profess a desire/preference to work with a military-controlled, but civilian operated entity (company).  No executive wants to participate in a non-military-focused press conference surrounded by individuals wearing uniforms (or who are known to have uniforms in their closets).

So, what to do?  First, United States companies should jettison the activities of outside advocates and lobbyists; Second, employees (not outside representatives) should directly, and quietly, meet with Members of Congress- specifically the six (6) of Cuban descent, three (3) in the United States Senate and three (3) in the United States House of Representatives; and Third, meet with representatives of the Trump Administration, with a focus upon the National Security Council (NSC) and National Economic Council (NEC).  United States companies can directly influence the deciders. 

Important to remember (and not exaggerate) that the current universe of United States-based companies with engagement outside of TSREEA-related transactions and Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992-related transactions (healthcare product exports) with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities (companies) is approximately fifty (50), not including travel agents and tour operators.  Also, those United States companies with licenses who have not implemented them will need to be public with their intentions as some of the issued licenses are for significant and supportable activities unrelated to the transportation, housing and guiding of visitors to the Republic of Cuba.

The focus of the meetings should be to present and then defend each Republic of Cuba government-operated entity (including any FAR-affiliated entity (company)) which the United States company deems essential to maintain its current and profitable operation(s), whether that engagement consists of exporting to, importing from, providing services to, or receiving services from a FAR-affiliated entity (company).

The successful argument will place value on disruption rather than accommodation and maintenance of the status quo; an acknowledgment that engagement with an entrenched adversary (FAR) will require patience. 

United States corporate interests having a role during the Republic of Cuba’s continuing transitions and successions, yes, plural, is a limited means of providing a visible reminder to at least some of the 11.3 million citizens of the Republic of Cuba that commercial, economic and political change is inevitable.

The government of the Republic of Cuba has less commercial and economic elasticity to forestall permitting, whether officially or through unofficial seepage, individual activities which some in the leadership (and next-highest levels) want to delay. 

The focus should be upon encouraging the Trump Administration to permit disruption rather than inflicting penalties- both upon United States companies and Republic of Cuba nationals.

The commercial landscape portrait that may be required to be attractive to the Trump Administration may be simultaneously repugnant to the Castro Administration.  This may be the current bilateral cost of commerce.

Complete Analysis In PDF Format

Another 1,840 Potential Cruise Passengers To Cuba....

As Of 16 July 2017, The Three Largest United States Cruise Lines Could For 2017/2018/2019:

Deliver 436,000 Passengers To Cuba

273 Sailings To Cuba

US$587 Million In Gross Revenues To The Companies

US$61 Million Spent In Cuba By Passengers

US$17 Million In Port Fees To Cuba

And, transporting, housing, and feeding those potential passengers could mean an additional US$125+ Million to United States airlines and US$55+ million to hotels and restaurants located in South Florida.  Gross United States airline revenues for 2017, excluding the cruise-related revenues, are projected to be US$172 million for United States-Republic of Cuba routes.

The three (3) largest United States-based cruise lines have announced more than 272 itineraries amongst their brands for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 sailing seasons which include the Republic of Cuba.  Additional itineraries are expected to be announced.  And, smaller cruise lines are also operating in the Republic of Cuba marketplace.   

Miami, Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings Ltd

Miami, Florida-based Carnival Corporation & plc

Miami, Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd

In 2016, the three cruise lines combined operated a fleet of approximately 144 vessels, managed approximately 14 brands, earned approximately US$28.8 billion in gross revenues, and employed approximately 218,000 men and women.

If each vessel sails at capacity, a total of more than 436,000 passengers will visit the Republic of Cuba from 2017 through 2019.

The gross revenues to the cruise lines from the 273 Republic of Cuba sailings would be projected to exceed US$587 million from 2017 through 2019.

The 436,000 passengers would be projected to spend approximately US$61 million while in the Republic of Cuba [approximately US$140.00 per person in expenditures and organized/non-organized excursions including cost(s) for tour(s), meals (government-operated and privately-operated), ground transportation (privately-operated classic car tours), sundries and souvenirs (including spirits, coffee, tobacco, artwork and crafts)].  Some passengers could spend considerably more (cigars for example) given the United States duty-free personal exemption of US$800 per person.  

Vessel port charges in the Republic of Cuba may exceed US$17 million, ranging up to approximately US$79,000.00 for the largest vessels (684-passenger to 2,052-passenger).

Complete Analysis In PDF Format