In Surprise Move, OFAC Removes Almost 5,000 Cuba-Focused Domain Names From SDN/BP List

Today, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury removed approximately 4,900 Republic of Cuba-focused Internet domain names from its 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.

Most of the domain names are not operational.  One company had owned the domain names.  The company is no longer in operation. 

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

LINK To Related OFAC Media Release Of 8 December 2004

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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

Could Blueberries Join Coffee and Charcoal As Authorized Imports To The US?

Cuba cultivates its first blueberries

Thanks to an international collaboration, the western province of Pinar del Rio has the first areas dedicated in Cuba to the cultivation of the blueberry, a species that has been greatly successful in the world's fruit markets.

More than 720 seedlings from Chile are part of the experiment of the agroindustrial company Enrique Troncoso, in Pinar del Río, whose soils are characterized by being acid and sandy, as demanded by this variety of crop.

The field covers 0.2 hectares and meets the technical standards in other countries, with remarkable results in the production of this type of berries.

Joel Calzadilla, the director of the organization, said that the validation phase will allow them to determine if they can produce them on a large scale in the province, where other species, including citrus, are also encouraged.

Blueberry consumption is growing worldwide and its main producers are the United States, Canada and Chile. Blueberries grow in the wild in the forests of North America and other cold regions, but they are also cultivated.

Source: prensa-latina.cu

Trump Administration Issues First Suspension Of Title III Of Libertad Act; Will There Be A Second Suspension?

The Trump Administration has issued a six-month suspension of Title III of the Libertad Act of 1996.  This decision was expected.

Not anticipated was to have The Honorable Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, announce the decision.  Since 1996, the bi-annual notification has generally been made by the President or Secretary of State.  

Within the structure of the United States Department of State, there is the Secretary of State, there are two (2) Deputy Secretaries of State, and six (6) Under Secretaries of State.

The Trump Administration may have lowered the profile of the decision as a political signal that the issue should not have, does not have, or does not (yet) have, significance.  Or, this may be a political signal to the government of the Republic of Cuba that there is an opportunity awaiting a response.

The next decision to suspend Title III of the Libertad Act of 1996 will be in January 2018.
    
Link To Bog Post: Memo From NSC To POTUS: This Week For Title III Suspension; Capitulate, Incapacitate or Negotiate?

U.S. Determination of Six-Month Suspension Under Title III of LIBERTAD

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 14, 2017

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon reported on July 14, 2017, to the appropriate congressional committees, consistent with Section 306(c)(2) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114; 22 U.S.C. 6021-6091) and pursuant to the authority delegated to the Secretary by the President on January 31, 2013, and as authorized under Delegation of Authority 284-1, dated February 13, 2009, that he had made the statutorily required determination in order to suspend for six months beyond August 1, 2017, the right to bring an action under Title III of the Act.
 

Are Cruises To Cuba Popular? 434,000 Passengers May Pay US$585 Million To Find Out

As Of 11 July 2017, The Three Largest United States Cruise Lines Could For 2017/2018/2019:

Deliver 434,000 Passengers To Cuba

272 Sailings To Cuba

US$585 Million In Gross Revenues To The Companies

US$60 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 434,000 passengers will visit the Republic of Cuba from 2017 through 2019.

The gross revenues to the cruise lines from the 272 Republic of Cuba sailings would be projected to exceed US$585 million from 2017 through 2019.

The 434,000 passengers would be projected to spend approximately US$60 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

Memo From NSC To POTUS: This Week For Title III Suspension; Capitulate, Incapacitate or Negotiate?

Will NSC Side With State, Treasury, Justice, Or DOJ On Title III
Will HR McMaster Enable Or Render Impotent The Negotiator-In-Chief
HR McMaster Can Preserve Of Obliterate President Trump’s Ability To Negotiate
They Voted For Him And Now Want to Incapacitate Him
He Was Elected To Disrupt The Status Quo; Enabling Title III Would Preserve It
A New Polemic On Executive Branch Authority

TO:      The Honorable
             Lt. General H.R. McMaster
             Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
             The White House
             Washington, DC

DATE: 11 July 2017

RE:      Decision Soon For Suspension Of Title III Of The Cuban Liberty And Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996

This week, the Trump Administration will determine whether to continue a suspension of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (“Libertad” or “Helms-Burton”). Codified in Title 22, Sections 6021-6091 of the U.S. Code. P.L. 104-114. 

What is Title III?A provision that permits lawsuits to be filed in United States Federal Courts by individuals and companies who have claims against the government of the Republic of Cuba, and specifically against those deemed to be “trafficking” or making use of the asset upon which there is a claim. However, the filings would not be limited to the 5,913 certified claimants- filings could be made by almost anyone including individuals who are Cuban but unborn when their parents or grandparents’ assets were expropriated by the government of the Republic of Cuba. Stated simply, what was focused upon 5,913 could quickly become hundreds of thousands or millions.

From the text of the statute: "(2) Additional suspensions.--The President may suspend the effective date under subsection (a) for additional periods of not more than 6 months each, each of which shall begin on the day after the last day of the period during which a suspension is in effect under this subsection, if the President determines and reports in writing to the appropriate congressional committees at least 15 days before the date on which the additional suspension is to begin that the suspension is necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba."

On 5 January 2017, The Honorable John F. Kerry, then-United States Secretary of State, signed the most recent suspension. The next suspension would be implemented in August 2017. Since the inception of the statute in 1996, each occupant of the Oval Office has signed a suspension. The President may rescind a suspension at any time.

There are four (4) principal reasons to advise The Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, to suspend Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996:

First, the Trump Administration Initiatives announced on 16 June 2017 are not operational, thus their impact, positive or negative, may not yet be assessed. The regulations and lists to be issued by 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 are not complete and are not to be activated until 15 September 2017.

Second, the continuing suspension of Title III can provide both focus and pressure upon the United States and the Republic of Cuba to reach a settlement to compensate the 5,913 claims certified by the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC) under the auspice of the United States Department of Justice. The certified claims are valued without interest at US$1,902,202,284.95 and with interest at approximately US$8 billion. Of the 5,913 claims certified by the USFCSC, thirty (30) companies account for approximately 57% of the value without interest. An important point of history: the foundation of “the embargo” rests upon the seizure without compensation by the government of the Republic of Cuba of an oil refinery owned by a United States company.  

As you know, the Obama Administration deemed a resolution of the certified claims as a “top priority,” but had only two (2) discussions (not negotiations) with representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba in 2,923 days (766 days if calculated from 17 December 2014); this was woefully inadequate. President Trump can correct this failure of leadership.

Third, the continuing suspension of Title III will preserve for President Trump his ability to negotiate a settlement on behalf of the 5,913 certified claimants- United States citizens and United States companies. Any effort to constrain the President from directly or indirectly guiding his negotiating team erodes the unique powers of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign policy. And, negotiating a settlement based upon US$1.9 billion or US$8 billion is far less complicated than attempting to bridge restitution for what could approach US$100 billion or more by those who do not have certified claims if Title III is enabled.

Fourth, if Title III is not suspended there would not only be a disruption to the ability of President Trump to negotiate a settlement on behalf of the certified claimants during his first term, but the disruption would extend through his second term and through the terms of his successors. The reason would be potentially hundreds of thousands of claims that would become eligible to be heard by United States Federal Courts. Most impactful, is Title III prohibits the dismissal of claims proceedings in United States Federal Courts once they are filed. As most of the proceedings would be filed in the State of Florida, the impact upon the judicial process would be substantial, crippling; and would result in more non-related significant cases being delayed from adjudication.

Those who support the use of Title III have a singular goal- prevent, potentially in perpetuity, a resolution on behalf of the certified claimants. They would prohibit President Trump from engaging his DNA- to negotiate a deal. And, this prohibition would not solely be for the remaining 1,289 days of President Trump’s first term, nor the 1,460 days of this second term… it would likely be in perpetuity as the current and future government of the Republic of Cuba would never have the financial capacity to absorb the judgments issued by United States Federal Courts- even if they were inclined to do so.

Recommendation:

Unlike his predecessors, President Trump should issue a sharply-worded conditional signing statement in conjunction with a further six-month suspension of Title III.

The signing statement should create a twelve-month “window of opportunity” within which National Security Council (NSC) staff would engage directly with representatives of the thirty (30) certified claimants with the largest values of assets expropriated without compensation. Potentially, a third-party United States-based negotiator could be retained to represent the interests of the certified claimants to the government of the Republic of Cuba.

If an agreement with the government of the Republic of Cuba is concluded by the end of the twelve-month period, the Trump Administration would remove remaining financial regulations under the auspice of the OFAC and BIS which impact the government of the Republic of Cuba.

Blog Post Links:

http://kavulich-john.squarespace.com/blog/2017/2/6/update-on-title-three-suspension-of-libertad-act-helms-burton

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/1/12/h2uudthnn6be8hfgxifqsrdo4aqpb0?rq=claims

Complete Analysis In PDF Format

Norwegian Cruise Lines Adds 27 Sailings Including Cuba In 2018; Potential For 52,272 Passengers

Norwegian Cruise Line Enhances Summer 2018 Deployment In Alaska And The Caribbean

Norwegian Sun to become second Norwegian ship to offer all-inclusive cruises to Cuba and the Bahamas from Port Canaveral and guest favorite Norwegian Jewel will cruise Alaska in the summer 2018 season

Miami, Florida, U.S. - Jul 10, 2017
 
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced updates to the their summer 2018 deployment, featuring exciting new opportunities for guests to set sail to their dream destinations, while unpacking just once and enjoying the most free and flexible cruising experience at sea. New for 2018, Norwegian Sun will reposition to Port Canaveral and offer all-inclusive four day cruises to Havana, Cuba and Key West, and three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Jewel will rejoin the youngest fleet sailing to Alaska in summer 2018, with a multitude of exciting itineraries including seven- and nine-day sailings from Seattle, Seward and Vancouver. 

“Alaska continues to be one of the most popular destinations we sail to around the world. We are thrilled to be significantly increasing capacity in the region in summer 2018 with the redeployment of Norwegian Jewel and the inaugural season for Norwegian Bliss, providing more opportunities for our guests to experience a vacation of a lifetime in this incredible pristine destination,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Our all-inclusive model aboard Norwegian Sky has been very well-received and as we evaluated the opportunity to expand upon that concept, we felt that Port Canaveral was the ideal location to offer our guests a value-rich on board experience and exciting action-packed ports-of-call, including an overnight call in Havana, Cuba.”

Following her fall/winter season in South America and a dry dock enhancement, Norwegian Sun will spend her summer 2018 season sailing all-inclusive cruises from Port Canaveral, offering four-day itineraries that call on Key West and Havana, Cuba, along with three-day cruises to the Bahamas. Norwegian Sun accommodates 1,936 guests, providing freedom, flexibility and superior guest service with 16 dining options, 12 bars and lounges, entertainment options for all ages and more. All guests sailing aboard one of Norwegian Sun’s Cuba or Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages included in their cruise fare as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program. Norwegian Sun’s new itineraries include the following: 

•Norwegian Sun will undergo a two-and-a-half week dry dock in Victoria, British Columbia as a part of the Norwegian Edge™, the brand’s revitalization program encompassing the entire guest experience, and re-enter service on April 19, 2018 where she will begin her journey to the east coast with a 17-day Panama Canal cruise departing from Seattle.  

•Norwegian Sun’s four-day cruises to Cuba will depart Port Canaveral each Monday, beginning May 7, 2018, and feature a call on Key West, Florida and an overnight stay in Havana, returning to Port Canaveral each Friday. Norwegian Sun will transport guests to the heart of the action in both Key West and Havana, calling in Key West’s Old Town district and Havana Harbor, located in the heart of  Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Norwegian Sun will offer guests the opportunity to experience the wonderful culture and incredible history of Cuba, along with the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people during OFAC-compliant* shore excursions. 

U.S. Companies Impeded By The Perils Of Cuba's Ideological Brake-Pad

The Perils Of The Ideological Brake Pad
U.S. Companies Are Unnaturally Constrained
Commercial Malpractice
5 Titans Of Failure
Role Of Trustee

Representatives of the Government of the Republic of Cuba continue to regale audiences throughout the United States and in other countries with narratives of overwhelming desire by companies throughout the world to engage with the Republic of Cuba.

Unfortunately, there are too few corresponding narratives provided by the government of the Republic of Cuba to illustrate commensurate engagement and, specifically, desire becoming reality.  Companies have wanted to do more than the government of the Republic of Cuba has wanted them to do. 

The list of companies, including those within the United States, who want to export to, import from, provide services for, and invest within the Republic of Cuba is reported ever-increasing; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) and Ministry of Foreign Trade (MINCEX) offer they are inundated with proposals so much so that telephone calls (and voice mail) and correspondence (letters, emails, text messages) do not receive prompt responses- or a response.  

For most governments, an enviable challenge; for the government of the Republic of Cuba the activity represents a potentially harmful velocity by an ideologically-masked vehicle whose ultimate destination may be unknown, but whose ultimate result is certain: disruption and change; each unalterable.

If there are so many desirous, why has the number of United States companies with agreements to export to, import from, provide services for, and create direct investments within the Republic of Cuba remained unnaturally constrained?  

Since 17 December 2014, approximately fifty (50) United States companies have an operational presence (no direct foreign investment (DFI)) in the Republic of Cuba: The companies are primarily focused within the travel sector (supporting visitors from the United States who have the highest net-profit margin for any visitor to the Republic of Cuba) and further still focused upon bringing revenues to the Republic of Cuba.  Some companies have donated their products and/or services.  This operational presence does not include companies which export healthcare products, food products and agricultural commodities to the Republic of Cuba under provisions of statutes enacted in 1992 and 2000. 

If perhaps 2% of the meetings and receptions and conferences held since 17 December 2014 in Washington DC, throughout the United States and in Havana, not including the hundreds of delegations (official and unofficial) whose participants were representatives of United States companies meeting (usually) with representatives of MINREX and MINCEX had resulted in agreements, the bilateral commercial landscape would resemble today a formidable obstacle to any commercial, economic or political disruption.  Some would argue that the landscape would be impervious to interference.  That’s not what the government of the Republic of Cuba wanted; they preferred the interest to the reality.

The interest of United States companies served as bait for the government of the Republic of Cuba to entice the interest of companies in other countries.  It worked.  Unfortunately for the government of the Republic of Cuba, if one who is fishing runs out of bait (a marketplace that purportedly has revenues to support itself and companies seeking to participate in that marketplace), the fish (in this instance companies, financial institutions and governments) will turn elsewhere for nourishment.  That’s happening… and it shouldn’t.  

The commercial, economic and political elasticity of fifty-seven (57) years, the barrier from reality which protected the government of the Republic of Cuba from changes it abhorred, which maintained a rolling status quo, no longer exists.  There are no more lifeguards to cushion or harbor the Republic of Cuba.  Monies provided by benefactors with near-permanence and nearly devoid of obligation now require fiscal discipline, meaning political discipline… and change.

Tragically for the United States business community, the Obama Administration and the government of the Republic of Cuba engaged in eight (8) years of 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.  

Complicit, and yet-to-be held accountable in the multi-year series of undernourished opportunities are Members of Congress, advocates and lobbyists (both self-professed above-the-radar and below-the-radar), academics and commentators who insularly focused upon seeking legislative remedies rather than regulatory remedies and adhered to discussionary-exclusion.  Now, despite squandering the final twenty-five (25) months of the Obama Administration, they seek financial and political support from United States companies to create resistance to what the Trump Administration may implement.  Astounding audacity.

Remembering some of the most egregious Titans of Failure: 1) two commercial imports authorized- coffee and charcoal 2) 50% of what was required for direct correspondent banking 3) two meetings about certified claims in 2,923 days (766 days if calculated from 17 December 2014) 4) limited removal of financial transaction restrictions (complete removal would have encouraged banking and credit card/charge card/debit card activity) 5) Cabinet Secretaries disagreeing about whether their delegations could include representatives of United States companies.  However, 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.

Although permitted by regulations implemented during the Obama Administration and thus far uninterrupted during the Trump Administration, why has the government to the Republic of Cuba not permitted representative offices (other than airlines), retail stores, distribution centers, assembly facilities, manufacturing operations, ferry services (even on a trial basis) and not permitted 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.

Because of an ideological brake pad which impedes momentum, impedes efficiency, impedes creativity, impedes decision-making and most onerously impedes the cessation of conversation (ending “talk” and “talk about the talk” and embellishment and aggrandizing about “talk”), the pivot from nothing to something remains inconsistent and too often illusory; determining the glide-path from nothing or little to something has become an exhausting exercise.  

It’s almost as though the government of the Republic of Cuba wants United States companies to be uninterested as the result has more political value- victimization.  To whom does it have political value?  Isn’t a goal to create greater disposable income for the citizenry and diminish their dependence upon the government?  

The government of the Republic of Cuba needs to cease focusing upon the “embargo” and focus upon using existing United States statutes, regulations and policies to mitigate its impact upon the nation… that could have been a breathtakingly successful strategy from January 2009 through January 2017.

There are United States companies who believe they can provide value to the 11.3 million citizens of the Republic of Cuba; the government of the Republic of Cuba does not believe the management of those companies.  

The only means to determine if the suspicion by the government of the Republic of Cuba is warranted is to permit a presence, monitor that presence, evaluate that presence, and then determine its value.  That means accepting risk.  That means having confidence.

Thus far, the government of the Republic of Cuba is working the equation in reverse order- devoid of evidence; which potentially means more years of expensive “talk.”

The strategy of the government of the Republic of Cuba should be to take (make) advantage of the interest by United States companies.  

MINREX and MINCEX report that executives of United States companies want (in some instances described as “desperate”) into the Republic of Cuba marketplace- on terms that exist for companies in other countries who enter the Republic of Cuba marketplace.  Let them in.  

That generosity by United States companies to contravene prevailing political atmospherics in the United States is waning….  No company in the United States needs to access the Republic of Cuba marketplace; that’s difficult for an ego in the Republic of Cuba to absorb, but until it is appreciated the bilateral commercial, economic and political relationship will continue to be one of simultaneously tapping the brake and the accelerator.  A successful direction is not rotational.  

The government of the Republic of Cuba serves as trustee for the livelihood of 11.3 million occupants of the 800-mile archipelago.  Sometimes, acting against the interests of the trustee is acting for the interests of those who are served. 

There are sixty-eight (68) days until the OFAC, BIS, and Department of State issue their revisions to existing regulations.  

The distance in time until 15 September 2017 needs to be used wisely by stakeholders in Washington DC and in Havana.

Complete Text In PDF Format

US Embassy In Havana Invites (Again) Officials From Government Of Cuba To 4th Of July Party; What About FAR?

The United States Department of State extended invitations to representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba to attend the annual 4th of July gathering at the Ambassador's Residence in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba.

The United States Department of State has extended this invitation for many years, preceding, during and subsequent to the Obama Administration's re-establishment of diplomatic relations on 20 July 2015.

However, the United States Department of State will not confirm if representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) were invited to the gathering this year.

The Trump Administration has announced plans to restrict commercial engagement with FAR-controlled entities. 

It's Not The Percentage That Matters; It's The Locations......

An academic has written that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) does not control 60% of the economy within the Republic of Cuba. 

The percentage of control is not as important as what entities are controlled- specifically the location of those entities:

Hotels, restaurants, retail stores, ground transportation in Old Havana… where almost all individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba under the educational (which includes “people-to-people”) category want to visit or need to visit to be in compliance with regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and soon-to-be published (by 16 September 2017) list of restricted/prohibited entities by the United States Department of State. 

Important to remain focused on the impact rather than upon the percentage.

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