Cuba Remains "Trivial" To Royal Caribbean CEO Despite Company Increasing Projections For Cuba Passengers & Revenues By Almost 200%

Richard Fain
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

26 June 2017
CNBC Interview
(http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000630763)

Question: When it comes to Cuba policy it seemed;that the new policy would almost help your company because its going to be much tougher for the individual just to get on a plane and go, but still relatively easy when it comes to getting on a cruise and going to Cuba.

Fain: Cuba has been good for us and and changes he made had really no negative effect.  I don't think I'd look for a positive effect, I'd rather understand exactly what they're doing and that would help us.  But as interesting as Cuba is in the long term, it's really a trivial part of our business today.

Question: Really, because you fought for hard for it, all of the cruise companies fought so hard for it.  Why, if it's so trivial?

Fain: We I think we do see Cuba as a wonderful destination for Americans.  We think a lot of people will want to go there and we think over time it will grow.  But it is still very small and likely remain small for a while.

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/2/3/royal-caribbean-cruises-increases-2017-cuba-projections-175-for-passengers-150-for-revenues?rq=royal%20caribbean

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/5/27/cuba-nearing-half-billion-dollar-marketplace-valuation-for-cruise-lines?rq=royal%20caribbean

Cuba Is "Trivial" Part Of Business Says Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman & CEO; Not Quite Accurate
January 26, 2017

http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/1/26/cuba-is-trivial-part-of-business-says-royal-caribbean-cruises-chairman-ceo-not-quite-accurate?rq=richard%20fain

Mr. Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (2016 revenues exceeded US$8 billion), referred to the company's planned April 2017 to May 2017 sailings to the Republic of Cuba as a "trivial part of our business" during an appearance on CNBC's "Power Lunch" program on 26 January 2017.

Mr. Fain is correct about the economic impact of the Republic of Cuba to the company based upon announced activity for 2017.  He is not accurately reflecting the commensurate effort by the company to obtain authorization from the government of the Republic of Cuba.

Reportedly, members of the Chicago, Illinois-based Pritzker family have substantive shareholdings in Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.; at one reporting they were the third-largest shareholder in the company.  The Honorable Penny Pritzker (net worth reported as US$2.4 billion) served as United States Secretary of Commerce during the Obama Administration from 26 June 2013 to 20 January 2017 and visited the Republic of Cuba twice during her tenure.

For the Republic of Cuba sailings, the company is using its 2,270-passenger Empress of the Seas (692ft), which was placed in service on 25 June 1990.  

The "Godmother" of the Empress of the Seas is the Republic of Cuba-born, Florida-based singer Ms. Gloria Estefan.

With four (4) announced itineraries (one departing from Miami, Florida and three from Tampa, Florida), if the Empress of the Seas was fully-occupied for each sailing, the total number of passengers would be 6,408 with gross revenues of approximately US$8.3 million.  In 2016, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. vessels carried six million passengers.  The four Republic of Cuba sailings would represent .11% of the total passengers carried by the company and .10% of gross revenues to the company.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL OPENS SAILINGS TO CUBA
Adventure Seekers Can Now Visit Havana On Empress of the Seas from Miami or Tampa

MIAMI, Dec. 9, 2016 – Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). These Empress of the Seas sailings are now open for sale.

Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

“Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas and visiting Cuba can enjoy curated people-to-people experiences created to immerse vacationers in the natural beauty of Cuba, its architecture, cuisine, music and art.  All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.

While in Cuba, guests will explore Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage site – some of the city’s most notable squares, historic neighborhoods, a local artisan market, Havana’s rum museum as well as Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba. These authentic encounters will give guests an unforgettable taste of what has made Cuba the gem of the Caribbean.

The authentic experiences aren’t limited to land. The vibrant culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life during the entire journey. The revitalized Empress will bring the shipboard Cuban flair together with signature amenities, such as a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; updated pool and whirlpools; a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options with the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café and fine dining at Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse Chops.

The summer program on Empress of the Seas provides travelers with more opportunities to sample the unique Royal Caribbean experience from Tampa. Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will offer Caribbean itineraries from the homeport during the winter season. Guests interested in being one of the first to experience Cuba with Royal Caribbean can contact their travel professional, call Royal Caribbean at 1-866-562-7625 or visit RoyalCaribbean.com/Cuba.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 46-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea.  The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. Onboard, guests are catered to with the cruise line’s world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service by every staff and crew member. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 13 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.

The cruise line sails 25 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. Media can stay up-to-date by following @RoyalCaribPR on Twitter, and visiting RoyalCaribbeanPressCenter.com. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should call their travel agent; visit RoyalCaribbean.com; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

Biography Of Mr. Fain:

"Richard D. Fain serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL). More than five million guests sail each year aboard the company's cruise lines. RCL owns and operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises and is part of joint ventures that operate Pullmantur and TUI Cruises. The company's 49 ships sail to nearly 500 ports on all seven continents.

Fain became the cruise line company's chairman and CEO in 1988, and has guided its growth to its current place on the S&P 500, as well as its listing by the Ethisphere Institute as a 2016 World's Most Ethical Company.Fain is chair of the University of Miami Board of Trustees, and serves on the board of the Posse Foundation and the executive committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

He has been recognized with the Federal Maritime Commission's Earth Day Award, the Travel Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award, the South Florida Business Journal Ultimate CEO Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and membership in the South Florida Business Hall of Fame. The French government honored Fain as a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, while the Finnish government named him a Commander, First Class, of the Order of the Lion.

Fain holds a B.S. degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Fain and his wife, Colleen, have four children and six extraordinary grandchildren."

Vice President Pence Comments On New Policy Towards Cuba

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
22 June 2017

 
REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AT THE WILSON CENTER
 
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.
 
excerpts....

Our partnerships and alliances throughout the region are critical to our national interests.  The President has said -- in his words -- it’s best for America to have freedom in the Western Hemisphere.  And last Friday, on that count, as Jane just mentioned, the President took decisive action to end the last administration’s failed policy toward Cuba and support the courageous Cuban people in their six-decade struggle for liberty.
 
Under this administration, the United States now will restrict financial transactions with repressive military, security and intelligence services of the Castro regime and instead redirect lawful commerce to entrepreneurs, to private enterprises in Cuba, and to all those brave Cuban citizens who yearn for freedom and for a brighter future.
 
No longer will America enrich the Cuban regime at the expense of the Cuban people.  Because America stands for opportunity, not oppression; for liberty, not tyranny.  The Cuban regime must make real progress on human rights and individual freedom.  And as the President has said, our policy will not change until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections occur.  That’s what American leadership looks like.  (Applause.) 
 
But, as we all know, Cuba is not the only nation in the region where democracy and freedom are in steep decline and at risk of being completely eradicated.  It’s increasingly true of the troubled nation of Venezuela.  Venezuela’s collapse into authoritarianism and anarchy has been heartbreaking to see.  The people of that once-rich nation now suffer rampant crime and grinding poverty on a daily basis.
 
Just as we stand with the people of Cuba, under President Trump, the United States stands with the people of Venezuela.  The United States of America condemns the Maduro regime’s abuse of power and the abuse of its people, and we call upon the Maduro regime to restore a robust democracy and the rule of law, and do it now.  (Applause.) 
 
And we also -- I was with the President in Miami at the close of our conference when he announced that we were abandoning the last administration’s policy on Cuba and implementing -- new approach demanding that if -- Cuba live up to the empty promises it made to the last administration about advancing reforms.  And we’ll hold them to that.
 
 
 

Cuba Reports 145% Increase In Visitors From US During First Six Months Of 2017

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba (MINREX) reported 284,565 individuals using a United States passport visited the Republic of Cuba during the period 1 January 2017 through 31 May 2017.  

The 284,565 did not include individauls of Cuban descent (meaning having a passport issued by the government of the Republic of Cuba and using that passport to enter/exit the Republic of Cuba) who may also have a United States passport and reside in the United States.

MINREX reported that the 285,565 represented an increase of approximately 145% compared with the same period in 2016.  MINREX reported the value for individuals of Cuban descent increased by approximately 45% compared to the same period in 2016, but did not provide the number of visitors.

During the period 1 January 2016 to 31 May 2016, air services from the United States to the Republic of Cuba remained operational using charter flights.  Regularly-scheduled commercial airline service commenced on 31 August 2016, so date-to-date comparisons need be carefully evaluated.   

In 2016, the total number of visitors to the Republic of Cuba who hold United States passports and/or Cuban passports was 614,433, representing an increase of 34% compared to 2015.

In 2016, the total visitors to the Republic of Cuba who did not hold Republic of Cuba passports was 284,937 compared to 161,233 in 2015.

In 2016, the total visitors to the Republic of Cuba who held Republic of Cuba passports was 329,496 compared with approximately 350,000 in 2015.

According to The Miami Herald, total passengers (United States passport holders and Republic of Cuba passport holders) traveling from Miami International Airport (MIA) to the Republic of Cuba was 588,433 compared to 444,667 in 2015.

According to the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, total passengers arriving and departing for the Republic of Cuba through MIA was 1,029,045 (arrivals- 518,247 & departures- 510,798) in 2016 compared to 808,791 (arrivals- 412,778 & departures- 396,013) in 2015, representing a year-to-year 25% increase in arrivals and 29% increase in departures.

In 2016, United States air carriers requested a combined 3,404,496 seats on an annual basis from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.  In 2016, the Republic of Cuba reported approximately 4,000,000 visitors.  The Republic of Cuba has approximately 66,547 hotel rooms, primarily in the one-star to three-star category based on United States ratings.

In 2016, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded route authorities to eight (8) air carriers for US-HAV routes and seven (7) air carriers for non-US-HAV routes.

For the US-HAV routes, the USDOT awarded 1,242,748 seats on an annual basis.

For the non-US-HAV routes, the USDOT awarded 1,060,148 seats on an annual basis.

The USDOT awarded a total of 2,302,896 seats.

The total number of visitors to the Republic of Cuba in 2016 was 4,035,577 compared to 3,524,779 in 2015.  The Republic of Cuba expects 4,199,977 visitors in 2017.
 

US Department Of State.... Cuba Not Mentioned During Ten Bilateral Meetings With OAS Members

Remarks

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
Cancun, Mexico

June 20, 2017

excerpts.....

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference of the Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. He will start with a brief declaration and then he will answer some questions. I will assign the persons that will be allowed to ask the questions. Please use your mikes.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you. The first question will be for Tracy Wilkinson, the LA Times.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you very much. You spoke today passionately, I would say, about the need for this organization to be relevant, but you all were not able to agree – you all were not able to agree on a resolution for Venezuela. How do you explain that failure? And do you think that the recent reversal by the United States vis-a-vis Cuba has weakened your hand in a forum like this?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SULLIVAN: With respect to the U.S. change in – that the President announced in its – in our policy with respect to Cuba, I’m not sure that that had any effect on votes. It hasn’t been mentioned to me. I’ve had almost 10 – nine or 10 bilateral meetings today to discuss this resolution, and that was not raised by any country. I – so the thoughts I would leave you with are this is an ongoing process. We’ve got 20 votes. We’re hopeful to get more. But the process is continuing under the able leadership of our hosts, the Mexican Government. Thank you.

Daily Chronology Of Statements About Cuba From Trump Administration

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
20 June 2017

  
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
 
MR. SPICER:  Good afternoon.
Sean, regarding the President’s Cuba policy, the Cuban foreign minister just yesterday said that it is “a grotesque spectacle.”  Does the President have any reaction to that?
 
MR. SPICER:  The policy the President laid out for Cuba first and foremost is something that will help the Cuban people.  It will stop making -- encouraging payments to the military and help them economically lift themselves up.  That is the greatest form of human rights that we can push for right now, to make sure that those efforts that we do and that the American citizens who travel or do business in Cuba follow the law.
 
Our goal is to make sure that the policies for this government first and foremost help the Cuban people.  And I think that’s what the President has done, and we will continue to advocate for.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
19 June 2017

  
PRESS GAGGLE BY PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
 
MR. SPICER:  Good afternoon.

Q    Thanks a lot, Sean.  We got a reaction today from Cuba's foreign minister as it relates to U.S.-Cuba policy, which was announced by the President last week.  And one of the things he said is, under no circumstances will Cuba release any of those fugitives that President Trump asked Cuba to release.  What kind of pressure can be brought to bear on the Cuban government to get that particular element of what the President wanted actually taking place?
 
MR. SPICER:  The number-one piece of what the President did was to lay the groundwork for empowering the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political liberty.  That was at the heart of what this did.  It was a promise that he made during the campaign trail.  And I think instead of empowering the Cuban military and its ability to control the money that goes through, which was not getting to the people, the President's actions that he took on Friday are going to help empower the people and make sure that not only does he maintain a promise that the American people follow the law, but the bigger result is that we empower the Cuban people.  And I think that's the real big takeaway that I have.
 
     Q    Do you anticipate the President announcing any further sanctions on the Cuban government to get various things related to Cuban rights solved or these fugitives brought back to America?
 
     MR. SPICER:  I think -- let's let the first -- we're one business day into these actions that the President took.  I think they're being widely hailed as a step in the right direction to accomplishing -- empowering the Cuban people.  Let's give it a little time.  But as the President says on a variety of subjects, let's not project what we're going to do and make sure that we see how things -- and reserve the right to go forward.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
13 June 2017

  
PRESS GAGGLE
BY PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SARAH SANDERS
 
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Washington, D.C.

Sarah, do you have any more details on the announcement that's expected on Friday about changes to Cuba policy?  What parts of the Obamacare administration's policy is the President planning to roll back?  And what is he planning to announce in Miami?
 
     MS. SANDERS:  There aren't any final decisions on that front yet.  But as soon as we have information on that, I would be happy to share it with you.
 
     Q    Just to follow up on that, you mean there's no final decisions?  Or you just don't have them to provide for us?
 
     MS. SANDERS:  My understanding is there's not a final decision and that it's all still being reviewed at this time.
 
     Q    But he is going down there despite the fact that no final decision --
 
     MS. SANDERS:  Again, we haven't made an announcement about that specifically, but we'll keep you posted when we do.

The Wall Street Journal
Washington, DC
13 June 2017

Excerpts:

“The general approach is to allow as much of this continued commercial and engagement activity to go on as possible because we do see the sunny side...we see the benefits of that to the Cuban people,” said Mr. Tillerson, who appeared before the committee as a witness. “But on the other hand, we think we have achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior in the regime in Cuba, its treatment of people, and it has little incentive today to change that.”

He added: “In fact, our concern is they may be one of the biggest beneficiaries of all of this, which just again promotes the continuance of that regime.”

“As we’re developing these business relationships and as we’re enjoying the benefits of the economic and development side, are we inadvertently or directly providing financial support to the regime? Our view is we are,” Mr. Tillerson told lawmakers.

Thomson Reuters
Washington, DC
13 June 2017

Excerpts:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said Cuba "must begin to address human rights challenges" if it wants Washington to preserve a move toward more normal relations started under former President Barack Obama.

Under questioning from Democratic Senator Tom Udall, Tillerson agreed that moves toward more normal relations with the United States have helped some Cubans lift themselves out of poverty and provided opportunities for U.S. companies.

However, Tillerson said there is a "dark side" to relations with Cuba, noting that the government in Havana continues to jail political opponents and harass dissidents.

"If we're going to sustain the sunny side of this relationship, Cuba must, absolutely must, address these human rights challenges," Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the broad State Department budget.

He said the Trump administration's view is that the new U.S. policy is providing financial support to the Cuban government, which would violate U.S. law.

"We are supportive of the ... economic development, as long as it is done in full compliance with our existing statutes, and not provide financial support to the Cuban regime," Tillerson said. "That's the focus of our current policy review."

El Nuevo Herald
Miami, Florida
12 June 2017

Statements by Ms. Helen Aguirre Ferre, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs at The White House....

“The president has not seen the final proposal and has not approved it. He is a very independent president in his way of thinking and it would not be the first time he throws something back to be reviewed,” White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said.  

Aguirre Ferré said a proposal to prohibit business with GAESA, “is one of the many possibilities discussed. It is being considered as one of the many options.  “But almost everything is being looked at.”

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
12 June 2017

 
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER
 
Q    My other question was, there are widespread stories and speculation that when the President goes to Miami this Friday he will undo the executive orders from the Obama administration that eased relations with Cuba.  Can you confirm whether he will undo all of them or some of them?
 
MR. SPICER:  (Laughter.)  That's a good try.  I will say that when we have an announcement on the President's schedule, we'll let you know.  But just stay tuned.  We have a very busy week -- an ambitious agenda this week.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
30 May 2017

 
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER

And my second question, I did want to mention that before he left to go abroad, the President praised Philippine President Duterte for his action against drug dealers and dealing with them. Various human rights groups have condemned President Duterte, saying that a lot of the executions of drug dealers have been done without trial.  Does the President stand by his words of praise for the Philippine President?
 
MR. SPICER:  I think the President recognizes the need to combat drugs, but he also believes in human rights.  It's something that he’s worked with several countries -- it's one of the reasons that he’s reviewing the Cuba policy, et cetera.  He wants -- human rights is something that’s very strong to him.  It's something that he’s discussed in private with several countries.

Statements From The White House About Cuba.... Chronology
http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2017/3/12/6rhpts5hb63h4xirou3am6ycrexpbk

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
19 March 2017

Readout of the President’s Day        
 
....  He spoke to President Michelle Bachelet of Chile to discuss our bilateral relationship, including our close cooperation on trade and security issues.  President Trump expressed concern over the situation in Venezuela, and the leaders agreed on the importance of advancing democratic principles throughout the Western Hemisphere. 

EFE
Washington, DC
8 March 2017

Excerpts from interview with Ms. Helen Aguirre Ferre, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs at The White House....

"The president has been very clear that they are going to evaluate all the agreements that the prior administration (of Barack Obama) made with Cuba," said Aguirre Ferre, who is of Nicaraguan heritage.

...in Trump's judgment, "Cuba did not offer any concessions, with all that it was given in what has been the normalization and reestablishment of agreements and diplomatic behavior."

Cuba is hosting "fugitives from US justice, it has to turn over those people and also talk about the importance of free elections and free political prisoners," Aguirre Ferre said.

Trump's adviser avoided commenting on whether there has been any contact as yet between the Trump administration and Cuba, saying that that it a question for the State Department.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
16 February 2017

Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference

THE PRESIDENT:  ... We had dinner with Senator [Marco] Rubio [R-Florida] and his wife, who is, by the way, lovely.  And we had a really good discussion about Cuba because we have very similar views on Cuba.  And Cuba was very good to me in the Florida election as you know, the Cuban people, Americans.  

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
3 February 2017

Press Briefing

Mr. Spicer:  With that, I’m going to go my first Skype question seat.   Jackie Nespral from NBC 6 in South Florida.  Jackie.

Question:  Good afternoon.  On behalf of the viewers of South Florida, thanks so much for this opportunity.  You know, a lot of focus on foreign affairs this week, a new sanctions announced today against Iran, and of course Miami, as you know, is home to the largest Cuban-American community in the country.  And during the campaign, President Trump talked about his discontent with the warming of U.S.-Cuba relations implemented by President Obama.  And in the last days of his administration, he ended the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, leaving thousands of Cubans in limbo.

So my question is twofold.  A, has there been any contact between your administration and the Cuban government?  And B, are there any plans to change the current policy right now?

Mr. Spicer:  Thanks, Jackie.  We are in the midst of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba.  The President is committed to an agenda of ensuring human rights for all citizens throughout the world.  And as we review those policies in Cuba, that will be forefront in their policy discussions, but there is nothing that we have on that front at this point.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
24 January 2017

Press Briefing

Question:  Does the President have any plans to change US policy towards Cuba there are a lot of changes that took place during the last Administration and the Executive Orders as it relates to US-Cuba relations?

Mr. Spicer:  I have to follow-up with you we've got nothing that we're ready to announce at this point.

Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate
Washington, DC
21 January 2017

Written answers by Mr. Rex Tillerson, nominee to be United States Secretary of State, as published by the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Question: Despite the Obama Administration’s controversial and misguided decision to normalize relations with Cuba and its hope that this could lead to improved governance and human rights, Cuban officials continue to arrest dissidents and violate the rights of citizens, and tourism revenues benefit only government officials and a small minority of the population. How do you plan to approach the United States’ relationship with Cuba? How will you support human rights defenders and democracy activists in Cuba? What bilateral and/or multilateral pressure will you exert to lessen authoritarian rule in Cuba?

Tillerson: If confirmed, I will engage with Cuba but continue to press for reform of its oppressive regime. I will support human rights defenders and democracy activists in Cuba, empower civil society, defend freedom of expression, and promote improved Internet access and I will ask our allies to do the same.

Will you continue to support programs that promote democratic voices and initiatives in Cuba like Radio and TV Marti?

Yes, if I am confirmed.

What steps will you take to pressure the Castro regime to return American political fugitives like New Jersey cop-killer Joanne Chesimard?

If confirmed, I will engage bilaterally and multilaterally to bring these fugitives to justice.

Will you work with the Treasury Department to ensure that no revenue from American businesses goes directly toward supporting the Cuban military and the regime?

Yes, if I am confirmed.

NOTE: On 9 June 2016, The Honorable Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, issued "Achieving U.S. Security Through Leadership & Liberty"  The second paragraph of the document included this sentence: "A first step should be to ban financial transactions with the Cuban military."  http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/6/11/speaker-of-the-house-paul-ryan-wants-to-rescind-starwood-hotel-management-agreement?rq=Paul%20Ryan

What steps will you take to encourage the government of Cuba to release political prisoners, artists, journalists, and other Cubans being detained for politically-motivated reasons?

If confirmed, I will press Cuba to meet its pledge to become more democratic and consider placing conditions on trade or travel policies to motivate the release of political prisoners.

What steps will you take to promote judicial reform in Cuba?

I will work bilaterally and multilaterally to identify training and technical assistance opportunities to assist with judicial reform, if I am confirmed.

On October 12, 2016, PEOTUS Donald Trump stated, “The people of Cuba have struggled too long. Will reverse Obama’s Executive Orders and concessions towards Cuba until freedoms are restored.” Do you stand by PEOTUS Trump’s commitment to reverse the Obama Administration’s Cuba regulations until freedoms are restored on the island?

Yes. There will be a comprehensive review of current policies and executive orders regarding Cuba to determine how best to pressure Cuba to respect human rights and promote democratic changes.

On October 14, 2016, VPEOTUS Mike Pence reiterated this commitment by stating, “When Donald Trump and I take to the White House, we will reverse Barack Obama’s executive orders on Cuba.” Do you stand by VPEOTUS Pence’s commitment to reverse the Obama Administration’s Cuba regulations?

Yes, if I am confirmed.

United States Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Confirmation Hearing Opening Statement
11 January 2017

Excerpts…..

Good morning.

I am honored to have the backing of Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz from my home state of Texas. I also want to thank Senator Nunn for his commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, and Secretary Gates for his service to eight presidents and his own leadership as President of the Boy Scouts of America.

Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and Members of the Committee, it is an honor to appear before you today as President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State and to seek the approval of this Committee and the full Senate for my confirmation.

But our leadership demands action specifically focused on improving the conditions of people the world over, utilizing both aid and economic sanctions as instruments of foreign policy when appropriate.

And we must adhere to standards of accountability. Our recent engagement with the government of Cuba was not accompanied by any significant concessions on human rights. We have not held them accountable for their conduct. Their leaders received much, while their people received little. That serves neither the interest of Cubans or Americans.

Abraham Lincoln declared that America is “the last best hope of Earth.” Our moral light must not go out if we are to remain an agent of freedom.

Trump's Cuba Moves 'An Epic Disaster' for Entrepreneurs Renewed ties were supposed to lead to economic progress. And now it's all at a standstill.

Trump's Cuba Moves 'An Epic Disaster' for Entrepreneurs
Renewed ties were supposed to lead to economic progress. And now it's all at a standstill.

By David Whitford
Editor-at-large
Inc. Magazine

Last week, hopeful belief collided with hard fact. President Trump, as he promised he would during the campaign, began dismantling former President Obama's historic overture to Cuba.

Before an adoring crowd in Miami's Little Havana, the U.S. President attacked his predecessor's "terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime," promising that, "We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo," and otherwise set about dismantling his predecessor's legacy. A particular target of Trump's new policy: U.S. dealings with companies tied to Cuba's military, which covers broad swathes of the tourist industry from nightclubs to hotels and resorts.

This wasn't supposed to happen. At the end of 2014, Obama signed an executive order moving to officially open ties with the island nation; consequently all signs were pointing to a long-awaited thaw. Among other things, the U.S. would establish a diplomatic outpost in the country, Cuban businesses could export to the U.S. and U.S. companies could enter the Cuban market. Companies like Google and Airbnb would soon establish business ties with Cuba.

In its February 2017 issue, Inc. published an article, Crashing Into Cuba, which offered a look at the entrepreneurs breaking into this long-forbidden market. In it, I wrote: "Everybody wants to believe that we're at the beginning of the end of an era; that no one--not unforgetting Cuban émigrés in Miami, not Fidel's ghost, not a brash and unpredictable President Trump--can halt the momentum now. That the embargo must be, will be, swept aside, and the rivers of commerce will flow."

Ah, but as you know, that's not exactly how things turned out. John Kavulich, longtime head of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York, believes both countries could have planned for this day better by at least entertaining the possibility that Donald Trump--not Hillary Clinton--might win the election. "But the brilliant negotiators in the Obama administration and in Cuba never had that conversation," Kavulich says. "So November 8 comes along and it all blows up. Companies that had licenses [to operate in Cuba] are now scared to use them. Regulations that could have been changed weren't. It's an epic disaster for large, medium, small, and micro entrepreneurs in both countries."

Here are three things to keep in mind about Trump's Cuba moves: 

1. President Trump has no plans to close the recently reopened U.S. embassy in Havana,nor curtail in any way diplomatic relations. Meaning the door to a direct dialog between the countries, closed from 1961 to 2014, remains open. Trump was clear: he wants to keep negotiating, and has promised "a much better deal." Though how much the Cubans will be willing to engage with the U.S. remains to be seen. 

2. Travel is still possible. U.S. airlines can still land at Cuban airports. U.S. cruise ships can still call at Cuban ports. And U.S. citizens, as long as they fall within one of 12 authorized categories, can still enter Cuba with a U.S. passport. One notable exception: so-called individual people-to-people travel, a loosely enforced allowance under which adventurous American tourists were lately free to visit Cuba on their own. Among the biggest beneficiaries were the ordinary Cubans who opened small restaurants (paladares) catering to tourists and converted their homes to B&Bs (casas particulares). Fewer tourists means less business for Cuba's massive Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA), which is said to control 60 percent of the nation's economy. But for some in Cuba's budding entrepreneurial class, otherwise subsisting on meager state salaries, the impact could be catastrophic. It could mean the difference between people getting three square meals a day and going hungry, says Cuban émigré turned American entrepreneur, Saul Berenthal, who stays in touch with friends on the island. 

3. Nothing President Trump announced last week is effective immediately. All is contingent on the issuance of new regulations due in 90 days from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Until then, presumably, it's business as usual, albeit within the strict limits that were there all along. U.S. companies in those few industries exempt from the longstanding embargo--such as agricultural commodities and medical supplies--can still pursue deals with Cuban companies. And if they can get in under the deadline, well, "The forthcoming regulations will be prospective," according to Treasury, "and thus will not affect existing contracts and licenses." Best hurry, though: The current OFAC backlog on issuing such licenses is 180 days. 

Bottom line: Even before Trump announced his new policy, most American entrepreneurs with dreams of winning the race in Cuba had gotten way ahead of themselves. As Kavulich says, "The starting gun hadn't even been fired yet, and they were already at the hundred yard line."

And now? "Anyone that gives you any perspective with a lot of adjectives that are positive in nature, hang up on them," he advises. "They have the courage of their ignorance. That's not a reality that those of us involved in this for 25 years want, but one we have to appreciate in its context."

The Speech; The Response; The Hysteria; The Analysis; The Impact; The Unknowns

For Cuba: Be A Victim Or Be Opportunistic

For Companies: Pressure Or Acquiesce

For Advocates & Lobbyists: A New Strategy

For Travelers: Be Flexible

For History: Blame Obama Administration & Government Of Cuba

With public and private sector hysteria beginning to subside, an analysis of the impact of the statements by The Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, officials of the Trump Administration and Members of Congress and the texts (where available) of the announced policies and regulations to be implemented by the Trump Administration can commence.

Did President Donald Trump "effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba,"?  No, he did not.

Did the government of the Republic of Cuba receive more from the Obama Administration than it provided to the Obama Administration? From a commercial/financial perspective, absolutely. Did the government of the Republic of Cuba agree to changes that would resemble hooking itself to Thanatron and Mercitron devices? No, it did not; at least not intentionally.  

The Honorable Benjamin Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication during the Obama Administration and one of the negotiators during the year-long non-public bilateral discussions with the government of the Republic of Cuba, shared his views as to the negative impact of changes to Obama Administration policies and regulations.

He conveniently (and self-servingly) vanquishes the irony and tragedy relating to the reason(s) for President Trump residing in a commercial, economic and political space to make, meaningful or not, changes to Obama Administration policies and regulations.

It’s because of what the Obama Administration could have done and did not do... and what the government of the Republic of Cuba could have done and did not do.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune Magazine 100-largest listed United States-based company offered that the events of Friday [16 June 2017] reminded him of a scene in the motion picture, The Godfather, during which Don Corleone, speaking at a meeting managed by Don Barzini, says "... I'm going to blame some of the people in this room" when discussing the safety of his son, Michael Corleone, while referencing the death of another son, Sonny Corleone.

According to the executive, "Obama didn't do enough, the Cubans didn't do enough, and Trump is doing too much... I blame all of them for where we are today." The executive noted that the Washington, DC-based United States Chamber of Commerce, of which the company is a longtime member, last placed a reference to the Republic of Cuba on its Internet site on 16 October 2016, before issuing a statement (and publishing it on the Internet site) on 16 June 2017. “Where were they for eight months?”

For United States-based companies, there exists an opportunity, not an ideal opportunity, pretty much an “gun-to-the-head” opportunity, but an opportunity nevertheless.

The Trump Administration has fired a starting pistol for a ninety-day (90) race by United States-based companies to sign with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities (presumably including military-affiliated) as many agreements as possible and have those agreements implemented before new regulations are promulgated.

According to the Trump Administration, agreements signed and implemented before the new regulations are promulgated are expected to be permitted to continue. The stated goal is to not interrupt existing commercial activities.    

According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, “any Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes 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 commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.” LINK TO OFAC DOCUMENT

However, what if an agreement requires a license from the OFAC and/or a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce? Will those license applications be given expedited review? The OFAC recently reported a six-month (180-day) backlog to process license applications.

There are license applications pending with the OFAC by United States-based (but in some cases not United States-controlled) hotel management companies for contracts to manage properties within the Republic of Cuba that are controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).

There are some FAR-controlled hotels in the Republic of Cuba, specifically within the city of Havana, whose occupancy rates since 2014 have consisted of more than 60%+ individuals subject to United States jurisdiction.

Another unknown is within the OFAC guidelines issued on 16 June 2017 reference is made to “lawful commercial activities” being permitted to continue. Will all commercial activities authorized (licensed) during the Obama Administration continued to be viewed as lawful?

The final unknown is the response from the government of the Republic of Cuba.  Will it work with United States-based companies during the next ninety days to advance, negotiate, agree and implement an expanded presence for United States-based companies?  Or, with the government of the Republic of Cuba continue to use the interest of United States-based companies as bait to entice companies in other countries to engage the Republic of Cuba marketplace?

Decisions for Cuba: Rebrand

Re-brand and/or transfer ownership.  The most efficient and most transparent means for the government of the Republic of Cuba to adhere to the new and newly-branded United States policies and regulations is to transfer ownership of Cimex (which includes Havanatur and Fincimex- financial services including credit/debit card processing) and Gaviota (travel, ground transportation) to an existing or a new Republic of Cuba government-operated entity.  

Where the decision not to transfer assets will become most acute is for those operations that were managed by Republic of Cuba government-operated Habaguanex and earlier in 2017 were absorbed by GAESA (Enterprise Administration Group), which is controlled by FAR.  

Habaguanex assets include most hotels, restaurants, retail stores, kiosks, service operations, and notable attractions within the area identified as "Old Havana," which is an essential, and often required component destination for individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba within the twelve authorized categories of travel.  

The government of the Republic of Cuba is in a precarious place- for many governments, companies and financial institutions in Europe, Asia and in The Americas, decisions to export, import, provide services and create Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) during the last thirty-one months were based, solely or in part, upon a belief in a stable, preferably increasing, revenue stream from visitors subject to United States jurisdiction, and a limited, but optically-significant presence by United States-based companies.

The response by the government of the Republic of Cuba to the Trump Administration initiatives will not have the elasticity of previous years due to the increasingly negative pressures upon the economy of the Republic of Cuba by prices for imports and exports, lack of available financing sources, and decreasing beneficial relationships such as with Venezuela.

The most desired, but not necessarily the most likely, is for the government of the Republic of Cuba to create opportunities as soon as possible for United States-based companies to establish offices (including law firms), establish retail outlets, establish distribution centers, establish assembly operations, and establish manufacturing operations with entities affiliated with and/or controlled by the FAR and non-FAR entities. Overwhelm the Trump Administration with requests from United States-based companies.

The commercial, economic and political equations remain unaltered: With approximately two million inhabitants (citizens and residents) of Cuban descent residing in the United States, and residing (voting) in the electorally-sensitive states of Florida and New Jersey, they [likely] will be the determiners of the direction, dynamic, and impact of the bilateral relationship for the United States with the Republic of Cuba for the duration of the Trump Administration.

There is certainly a fairness issue in having what represents approximately eighteen (18%) of the population of the Republic of Cuba, currently 11.3 million, determine the bilateral relationship for a nation of 325 million… less than 1% controlling more than 99%.

If the Republic of Cuba continues commercial, economic and political policies which retard opportunities for its citizenry, as the United States defines those opportunities, and thus enacts limitations to prosperity and success, the Republic of Cuba will be hostage to the interests of the United States.

It’s dishonest to absolve, hold harmless, the government of the Republic of Cuba for contributing the landscape upon which the Trump Administration initiatives will seek to land and then impact the 800-mile long archipelago. There are consequences for action and for inaction.

During the twenty-five (25) months of the Obama Administration initiatives, the government of the Republic of Cuba permitted one property to be managed by a United States-based hotel company, permitted United States-based cellular operators to authorize roaming for their customers, permitted United States-based cruise lines to add cities to their itineraries, permitted a resumption of regularly-scheduled commercial airline service, and permitted its citizens to rent rooms and their residences to visitors.

The common-denominator for each of those permissions? Revenue to the Republic of Cuba with little challenge (real or imagined) to control and meaningful changes to existing operational structures. This is not to discard the importance and impact of increasing access to the Internet, and resulting exponential interest in social media and other forms of internal and external communication.

What was absent from a commercial perspective? Anything formidable. Anything shocking. Anything challenging.

No United States companies were permitted to establish representative offices (other than airlines sub-contracting ticket offices), no retail operations, no food service operations, no distribution centers, no assembly operations, no manufacturing operations. What most United States companies wanted to do, they were not permitted to do- other than spend time and spend money on numerous visits to the city of Havana to engage in dialogue.

Is how the United States views the Republic of Cuba fair? Probably not. Is it an affront to a country’s sovereignty?   Probably so. Is it a reality of disproportionate displacement of bilateral muscularity? Yes, it is and it is extremely difficult to change.

The government of the Republic of Cuba can accept and be abnormally impacted by the commercial, economic and political reach, including, the geographical proximity of the United States… and develop a strategy to benefit from it.

Or, the government of the Republic of Cuba can adhere to commercial, economic and political policies that maintain a less than stellar quality of opportunity for its citizens- restraining the trajectory of a demonstrable and permanent level of personal accomplishment- that which is not dependent upon or subordinated to the state.

The question that underlies everything: What is the pride of the Republic of Cuba worth? At what point in the historical timeline does the nation move forward from being hostage to history?

The Trump Administration Changes

The foundation of the Trump Administration initiatives requires the Republic of Cuba to do what three (3) statutes require: The Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992, the Libertad Act of 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000. That’s nothing astonishing. Nothing surprising there.

The decision to restrict (not necessarily prohibit because there is expected to be relief for existing relationships) transactions with entities affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) is meaningful, impactful, and disruptive.

However, this decision does not result in a binary choice- military-controlled or non-Republic of Cuba government-operated (meaning “private” as some Members of Congress and others have pronounced) as there are other Republic of Cuba government-operated companies which own and/or manage hotels, restaurants, ground transportation, and retail stores.

The choice for travelers is not between staying in a private residence or not visiting the Republic of Cuba. There are hotels in the Republic of Cuba which are owned by Republic of Cuba government-operated companies not officially controlled and/or affiliated with the FAR.

Consequences

Now the consequences of the wasted time on legislative efforts in from 2009 through 2014, and then again from December 2014 through January 2017 are singularly apparent, instructive, and impactful.

The focus all along should have been laser-like focus upon advocating and lobbying, as those distinctions are required, the Obama Administration to make changes to policies and regulations.

Unfortunately, the United States business community was unable to persuade The Honorable Benjamin Rhodes to 1) support direct correspondent banking 2) to support an increase in the variety of products that could be commercially imported beyond coffee and charcoal 3) to focus upon a settlement of the certified claims or 4) convince the government of the Republic of Cuba to authorize more of the Obama Administration initiatives which, if permitted, would have hobbled the activism of the Trump Administration.

The Trump Administration is reversing the most commercially-impactful optic and bilateral revenue stream of the most disruptive component of the Obama Administration’s initiatives- which also is the most statutorily-abused component of the Obama Administration initiatives… self-directed “people-to-people” travel within the Educational category of those authorized within the TSREEA, the statute which codified twelve (12) categories of travel to the Republic of Cuba and specifically prohibited travel for the purpose of tourism.

However, while self-directed “people-to-people” travel within the Educational category will be rescinded in favor of group travel, the OFAC has not yet defined “group” in terms of numbers. Will a group be defined as five, ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty? A smaller group could be efficiently distributed within one larger Airbnb-affiliated residence or several smaller Airbnb-affiliated residences.

There was a sufferance from delusion of importance by some Members of Congress and those advocates and lobbyists who proclaimed that the Obama Administration initiatives were “irreversible.” They were naïve, they were devoid of appreciating the political process; they were self-serving and confident in their magnificence, which resulted in a courage of their ignorance.

Protecting The Traveler

Perhaps, the only means for the United States government to assist travelers with identifying locations to avoid is the creation and distribution of an App or a Geiger Counter (“FAR-Finder”); without such real-time access to data, visitors could potentially claim entrapment if penalized for engaging in financial transactions with a prohibited entity and not having the means to proactively identify a prohibited entity.  

Who would the OFAC hold responsible for incurring penalties for unauthorized transactions?  The United States-based cruise line, tour operator and travel agent?  The individual traveler?

If a traveler (or group of travelers) visit a location, and reasonably in-good-faith believe the cruise line, tour operator and travel agent would only include a location that was authorized, who will be held accountable? 

Decisions for the United States: Will all travel/transportation-related (tours, ground transportation, restaurants, other services) transactions with Republic of Cuba government-operated Havanatur and Republic of Cuba government-operated Gaviota, each indirectly controlled through subsidiaries by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) be permitted to continue when there are other Republic of Cuba government-operated entities providing the same or similar services, but which are not controlled by FAR? Is that the unstated objective despite statements to the contrary?

A Last Question

Is the pride of the government of the Republic of Cuba worth meaningfully impacting US$1.2 billion (gross revenues from visits by individuals subject to United States jurisdiction) in 2016 and a projected US$1.5 billion in 2017; along with opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Republic of Cuba nationals? It may be so.

COMPLETE ANALYSIS IN PDF FORMAT

Previous Posts….

The App

The United States Department of State is to issue a list of entities within the Republic of Cuba that are deemed to be affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR), specifically those under the auspice of the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA) and Corporacion Cimex SA (Cimex).

With the FAR having an ever-expanding landscape throughout the economy of the Republic of Cuba and, specifically, both vertical and horizontal integration within the hospitality industry, there will be a challenge for individuals subject to United States jurisdiction to identify hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and service providers that would be prohibited from transactions.

Thus, the United States Department of State, and likely the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury using the Specially Designated National (SDN) List, may consider creating an App which could be downloaded to a computer and wireless device and in real time, like GPS, provide a notification to the user if the establishment they are about to enter is on the prohibited list.

Such an App would then be updated in real time to add establishments and to remove establishments- as some may be transferred to other Republic of Cuba government-operated entities and may, perhaps, become registered independent businesses not subject to the list.

The "FAR-FINDER"

Could the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury soon require all individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba within the twelve (12) authorized categories to carry an enhanced Geiger Counter?

The government of the Republic of Cuba reported that more than 600,000 individuals subject to United States jurisdiction visited the country in 2016, with overall visitors increasing by 145% during the first six (6) months of 2017 compared with the first six months of 2016.

The cost of a Geiger Counter generally ranges from US$300.00 to more than US$1,000.00, depending upon its level of accuracy.

The OFAC could offer software which would be implanted within a Geiger Counter (newly-marketed as the "FAR Finder") enabling the device to accurately detect when it is nearing an entity affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).

Imagine thousands of travelers disembarking from a cruise ship attempting to determine if their device, rather than the device of someone nearby, is informing them of looming FAR-related doom?

Would each traveler be required to have a device? Or, would a group be permitted to share a device? What if a group-member becomes disoriented by conflicting noises from the device and stumbles into a prohibited location?

Would the device be programmed, via cellular roaming and Internet access, to immediately transmit the transgression to the OFAC which would then use automated software to issue a summons to the email address of the guilty party?

Perhaps, the government of the Republic of Cuba will make the process easier by placing signage at each FAR-related location.... "We'd love for you to join us, but you can't... you're embargoed." Oh, but of course they will.

What's a potential result? As in the 1920's with Prohibition, those activities which are deemed unlawful will earn more than if they were lawful.

Could This Be Required For All Travelers To Cuba? The "FAR-FINDER"

Could the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury soon require all individuals subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba within the twelve (12) authorized categories to carry an enhanced Geiger Counter?

The government of the Republic of Cuba reported that more than 600,000 individuals subject to United States jurisdiction visited the country in 2016, with overall visitors increasing by 145% during the first six (6) months of 2017 compared with the first six months of 2016. 

The cost of a Geiger Counter generally ranges from US$300.00 to more than US$1,000.00, depending upon its level of accuracy.

The OFAC could offer software which would be implanted within a Geiger Counter (newly-marketed as the "FAR Finder") enabling the device to accurately detect when it is nearing an entity affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).

Imagine thousands of travelers disembarking from a cruise ship attempting to determine if their device, rather than the device of someone nearby, is informing them of looming FAR-related doom?

Would each traveler be required to have a device?  Or, would a group be permitted to share a device?  What if a group-member becomes disoriented by conflicting noises from the device and stumbles into a prohibited location?

Would the device be programmed, via cellular roaming and Internet access, to immediately transmit the transgression to the OFAC which would then use automated software to issue a summons to the email address of the guilty party?

Perhaps, the government of the Republic of Cuba will make the process easier by placing signage at each FAR-related location.... "We'd love for you to join us, but you can't... you're embargoed."  Oh, but of course they will.

What's a potential result?  As in the 1920's with Prohibition, those activities which are deemed unlawful will earn more than if they were lawful.....

Official Response From The Government Of The Republic Of Cuba (Spanish & English)

Declaración del Gobierno Revolucionario
Enviado por editor en Vie, 16/06/2017 - 20:44

Cualquier estrategia dirigida a cambiar el sistema político, económico y social en Cuba, ya sea la que pretenda lograrlo a través de presiones e imposiciones, o empleando métodos más sutiles, estará condenada al fracaso

El 16 de junio de 2017, el presidente de los Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, en un discurso cargado de una retórica hostil, que rememoró los tiempos de la confrontación abierta con nuestro país, pronunciado en un teatro de Miami, anunció la política de su gobierno hacia Cuba que revierte avances alcanzados en los dos últimos años, después que el 17 de diciembre de 2014 los presidentes Raúl Castro Ruz y Barack Obama dieran a conocer la decisión de restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas e iniciar un proceso hacia la normalización de los vínculos bilaterales.

En lo que constituye un retroceso en las relaciones entre los dos países, Trump pronunció un discurso y firmó en el propio acto una directiva de política denominada “Memorando Presidencial de Seguridad Nacional sobre el Fortalecimiento de la Política de los Estados Unidos hacia Cuba” disponiendo la eliminación de los intercambios educacionales “pueblo a pueblo” a título individual y una mayor fiscalización de los viajeros estadounidenses a Cuba, así como la prohibición de las transacciones económicas, comerciales y financieras de compañías norteamericanas con empresas cubanas vinculadas con las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias y los servicios de inteligencia y seguridad, todo ello con el pretendido objetivo de privarnos de ingresos. El mandatario estadounidense justificó esta política con supuestas preocupaciones sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Cuba y la necesidad de aplicar rigurosamente las leyes del bloqueo, condicionando su levantamiento, así como cualquier mejoría en las relaciones bilaterales, a que nuestro país realice cambios inherentes a su ordenamiento constitucional.

Trump derogó asimismo la Directiva Presidencial de Política “Normalización de las relaciones entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba”, emitida por el presidente Obama el 14 de octubre de 2016, la cual aunque no ocultaba el carácter injerencista de la política estadounidense, ni el objetivo de hacer avanzar sus intereses en la consecución de cambios en el orden económico, político y social de nuestro país, había reconocido la independencia, la soberanía y la autodeterminación de Cuba y al gobierno cubano como un interlocutor legítimo e igual, así como los beneficios que reportaría a ambos países y pueblos una relación de convivencia civilizada dentro de las grandes diferencias que existen entre los dos gobiernos. También admitía que el bloqueo era una política obsoleta y que debía ser eliminado.

Nuevamente el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos recurre a métodos coercitivos del pasado, al adoptar medidas de recrudecimiento del bloqueo, en vigor desde febrero de 1962, que no solo provoca daños y privaciones al pueblo cubano y constituye un innegable obstáculo al desarrollo de nuestra economía, sino que afecta también la soberanía y los intereses de otros países, concitando el rechazo internacional.

Las medidas anunciadas imponen trabas adicionales a las muy restringidas oportunidades que el sector empresarial estadounidense tenía para comerciar e invertir en Cuba.

A su vez, restringen aún más el derecho de los ciudadanos estadounidenses de visitar nuestro país, ya limitado por la obligación de usar licencias discriminatorias, en momentos en que el Congreso de los Estados Unidos, como reflejo del sentir de amplios sectores de esa sociedad, reclama no solo que se ponga fin a la prohibición de viajar, sino también que se eliminen las restricciones al comercio con Cuba.

Los anuncios del presidente Trump contradicen el apoyo mayoritario de la opinión pública estadounidense, incluyendo el de la emigración cubana en ese país, al levantamiento total del bloqueo y a las relaciones normales entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos.

En su lugar, el Presidente estadounidense, otra vez mal asesorado, toma decisiones que favorecen los intereses políticos de una minoría extremista de origen cubano del estado de Florida, que por motivaciones mezquinas no desiste de su pretensión de castigar a Cuba y a su pueblo, por ejercer el derecho legítimo y soberano de ser libre y haber tomado las riendas de su propio destino.

Posteriormente haremos un análisis más profundo del alcance y las implicaciones de este anuncio.

El Gobierno de Cuba denuncia las nuevas medidas de endurecimiento del bloqueo, que están destinadas a fracasar como se ha demostrado repetidamente en el pasado, y que no lograrán su propósito de debilitar a la Revolución ni doblegar al pueblo cubano, cuya resistencia a las agresiones de cualquier tipo y origen ha sido probada a lo largo de casi seis décadas.

El Gobierno de Cuba rechaza la manipulación con fines políticos y el doble rasero en el tratamiento del tema de los derechos humanos. El pueblo cubano disfruta de derechos y libertades fundamentales, y exhibe logros de los que se siente orgulloso y que son una quimera para muchos países del mundo, incluyendo a los propios Estados Unidos, como el derecho a la salud, la educación, la seguridad social, el salario igual por trabajo igual, los derechos de los niños, y el derecho a la alimentación, la paz y al desarrollo. Con sus modestos recursos, Cuba ha contribuido también a la mejoría de los derechos humanos en muchos lugares del mundo, a pesar de las limitaciones que le impone su condición de país bloqueado.

Los Estados Unidos no están en condiciones de darnos lecciones. Tenemos serias preocupaciones por el respeto y las garantías de los derechos humanos en ese país, donde hay numerosos casos de asesinatos, brutalidad y abusos policiales, en particular contra la población afroamericana; se viola el derecho a la vida como resultado de las muertes por armas de fuego; se explota el trabajo infantil y existen graves manifestaciones de discriminación racial; se amenaza con imponer más restricciones a los servicios de salud, que dejarían a 23 millones de personas sin seguro médico; existe la desigualdad salarial entre hombres y mujeres; se margina a emigrantes y refugiados, en particular los procedentes de países islámicos; se pretende levantar muros que denigran a vecinos; y se abandonan los compromisos internacionales para preservar el medio ambiente y enfrentar el cambio climático.

Asimismo, son motivo de preocupación las violaciones de los derechos humanos cometidas por los Estados Unidos en otros países, como las detenciones arbitrarias de decenas de presos en el territorio ilegalmente ocupado por la Base Naval de Guantánamo en Cuba, donde incluso se ha torturado; las ejecuciones extrajudiciales y las muertes de civiles causadas por bombas y el empleo de drones; y las guerras desatadas contra diversos países como Irak, sustentadas en mentiras sobre la posesión de armas de exterminio masivo, con consecuencias nefastas para la paz, la seguridad y la estabilidad de la región del Medio Oriente.

Recordamos que Cuba es Estado Parte de 44 instrumentos internacionales sobre los derechos humanos, mientras que los Estados Unidos lo es solo de 18, por lo que tenemos mucho que mostrar, opinar, y defender.

Al confirmar la decisión de restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas, Cuba y los Estados Unidos ratificaron la intención de desarrollar vínculos respetuosos y de cooperación entre ambos pueblos y gobiernos, basados en los principios y propósitos consagrados en la Carta de las Naciones Unidas. En su Declaración, emitida el 1 de julio de 2015, el Gobierno Revolucionario de Cuba reafirmó que “estas relaciones deberán cimentarse en el respeto absoluto a nuestra independencia y soberanía; el derecho inalienable de todo Estado a elegir el sistema político, económico, social y cultural, sin injerencia de ninguna forma; y la igualdad soberana y la reciprocidad, que constituyen principios irrenunciables del Derecho Internacional”, tal como refrendó la Proclama de América Latina y el Caribe como Zona de Paz, firmada por los Jefes de Estado y Gobierno de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), en su II Cumbre, en La Habana. Cuba no ha renunciado a estos principios ni renunciará jamás.

El Gobierno de Cuba reitera su voluntad de continuar el diálogo respetuoso y la cooperación en temas de interés mutuo, así como la negociación de los asuntos bilaterales pendientes con el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos. En los dos últimos años se ha demostrado que los dos países, como ha expresado reiteradamente el Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, pueden cooperar y convivir civilizadamente, respetando las diferencias y promoviendo todo aquello que beneficie a ambas naciones y pueblos, pero no debe esperarse que para ello Cuba realice concesiones inherentes a su soberanía e independencia, ni acepte condicionamientos de ninguna índole.

Cualquier estrategia dirigida a cambiar el sistema político, económico y social en Cuba, ya sea la que pretenda lograrlo a través de presiones e imposiciones, o empleando métodos más sutiles, estará condenada al fracaso.

Los cambios que sean necesarios en Cuba, como los realizados desde 1959 y los que estamos acometiendo ahora como parte del proceso de actualización de nuestro modelo económico y social, los seguirá decidiendo soberanamente el pueblo cubano.

Como hemos hecho desde el triunfo del 1ro. de enero de 1959, asumiremos cualquier riesgo y continuaremos firmes y seguros en la construcción de una nación soberana, independiente, socialista, democrática, próspera y sostenible.

La Habana, 16 de junio de 2017
Declaration of the Revolutionary Government
Submitted by editor on Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:44

Declaration of the Revolutionary Government
Submitted by editor on Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:44

Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to fail

On June 16, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech full of hostile rhetoric, which recalled the times of the open confrontation with our country, pronounced in a Miami theater, announced the policy of his Government to Cuba that reverses progress achieved in the last two years, after the presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama on December 17, 2014 announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations and begin a process towards the normalization of bilateral ties .

In what constitutes a setback in relations between the two countries, Trump made a speech and signed a policy directive called "Presidential Memorandum of National Security on Strengthening US Policy towards Cuba" Elimination of individual "people-to-people" educational exchanges and greater oversight of US travelers to Cuba, as well as the prohibition of the economic, commercial and financial transactions of US companies with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Intelligence and security services, all with the aim of depriving us of income. The US president justified this policy with alleged concerns about the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously apply the laws of the blockade, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvement in bilateral relations, for our country to make changes inherent in Its constitutional order.

Trump also repealed the Presidential Policy Directive "Normalization of US-Cuba Relations," issued by President Obama on October 14, 2016, which, while not obscuring the intrusive nature of US policy, nor the goal of To advance its interests in the pursuit of changes in the economic, political and social order of our country, had recognized the independence, sovereignty and self-determination of Cuba and the Cuban government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor, as well as the benefits it would bring To both countries and peoples a relationship of civilized coexistence within the great differences that exist between the two governments. He also admitted that the blockade was an obsolete policy and should be eliminated.

Again, the United States Government resorted to coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to intensify the blockade, in force since February 1962, which not only causes damage and deprivation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, But also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, inciting international rejection.

The announced measures impose additional obstacles to the very restricted opportunities that the US business sector had to trade and invest in Cuba.

In turn, they further restrict the right of US citizens to visit our country, already limited by the obligation to use discriminatory licenses, at a time when the United States Congress, as a reflection of the broad sectors of that society, Calls not only for an end to the travel ban, but also for the lifting of restrictions on trade with Cuba.

President Trump's announcements contradict the majority support of American public opinion, including that of Cuban emigration in that country, the total lifting of the blockade and the normal relations between Cuba and the United States.

Instead, the US president, again badly advised, makes decisions that favor the political interests of an extremist minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida, who for petty reasons does not give up his claim to punish Cuba and its people, for To exercise the legitimate and sovereign right to be free and to have taken the reins of his own destiny.

Later we will do a more thorough analysis of the scope and implications of this announcement.

The Cuban Government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its purpose to weaken the Revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of Any type and origin has been proven over almost six decades.

The Government of Cuba rejects manipulation for political purposes and double standards in the treatment of human rights. The Cuban people enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms, and exhibit achievements of which they are proud and are a chimera for many countries in the world, including the United States itself, such as the right to health, education, social security , Equal pay for equal work, children's rights, and the right to food, peace and development. With its modest resources, Cuba has also contributed to the improvement of human rights in many parts of the world, despite the limitations imposed by its status as a blockaded country.

The United States is not in a position to give us lessons. We have serious concerns about the respect and guarantees of human rights in that country, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, particularly against the African American population; The right to life is violated as a result of gun deaths; Child labor is being exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination; Threatening to impose more restrictions on health services, which would leave 23 million people without health insurance; There is wage inequality between men and women; Migrants and refugees are marginalized, particularly those from Islamic countries; Is intended to erect walls that denigrate neighbors; And abandon international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change.

Human rights violations committed by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detention of dozens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba, where they have even been tortured, are also a matter of concern; Extrajudicial executions and the deaths of civilians caused by bombs and the use of drones; And the wars unleashed against various countries like Iraq, based on lies about the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with dire consequences for the peace, security and stability of the Middle East region.

We recall that Cuba is a State Party to 44 international instruments on human rights, while the United States is only 18, so we have much to show, speak up, and defend.

In confirming the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States ratified their intention to develop respectful and cooperative ties between the two peoples and governments, based on the principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. In its Declaration, issued on July 1, 2015, the Cuban Revolutionary Government reaffirmed that "these relations must be based on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; The inalienable right of every State to choose the political, economic, social and cultural system, without interference in any way; And sovereign equality and reciprocity, which are inalienable principles of international law, "as endorsed by the Latin American and Caribbean Proclamation as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States ( CELAC), at its II Summit, in Havana. Cuba has not renounced these principles and will never give up.

The Government of Cuba reiterates its willingness to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the United States Government. In the last two years, it has been demonstrated that the two countries, as the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz, have repeatedly expressed, can cooperate and coexist civilly, respecting differences and promoting everything that benefits To both nations and peoples, but it should not be expected that Cuba will make concessions inherent in its sovereignty and independence, nor will it accept any kind of conditionality.

Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve this through pressures and impositions, or by using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure.

The changes that are necessary in Cuba, such as those made since 1959 and those that we are undertaking now as part of the process of updating our economic and social model, will continue to be decided sovereignly by the Cuban people.

As we have done since the triumph of the 1st. January 1959, we will assume any risk and continue to be firm and secure in building a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.

The App & The 90-Day Race

The App

The United States Department of State is to issue a list of entities within the Republic of Cuba that are deemed to be affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR), specifically those under the auspice of the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA) and Corporacion Cimex SA (Cimex).

With the FAR having an ever-expanding landscape throughout the economy of the Republic of Cuba and, specifically, both vertical and horizontal integration within the hospitality industry, there will be a challenge for individuals subject to United States jurisdiction to identify hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and service providers that would be prohibited from transactions.

Thus, the United States Department of State, and likely the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury through the use of the Specially Designated National (SDN) List, may consider creating an App which could be downloaded to a computer and wireless device and in real time, like GPS, provide a notification to the user if the establishment they are about to enter is on the prohibited list.

Such an App would then be updated in real time to add establishments and to remove establishments- as some may be transferred to other Republic of Cuba government-operated entities and may, perhaps, become registered independent businesses not subject to the list.

The 90-Day Race

The Trump Administration has now fired a starting pistol. The race is for United States-based companies to sign as many agreements as possible and have those agreements implemented, before the new regulations, expected within ninety (90) days, are promulgated.

Those agreements are expected to be permitted to continue; but, what if they require a license from the OFAC or from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the United States Department of Commerce? Will those license applications be given expedited review?

Another unknown is within the OFAC guidelines issued today reference is made to “lawful commercial activities” being permitted to continue. Will those activities authorized during the Obama Administration continued to be viewed as lawful?

The final unknown is the response from the government of the Republic of Cuba.  Will it work with United States-based companies during the next ninety days to advance, negotiate, agree and implement an expanded presence for United States-based companies?  Or, continue to use the interest of United States-based companies as bait to entice companies in other countries to engage the Republic of Cuba marketplace?

The most desired, but not necessarily the most likely, is for the government of the Republic of Cuba to create opportunities as soon as possible for United States-based companies to establish offices (including law firms), establish retail outlets, establish distribution centers, establish assembly operations, and establish manufacturing operations with entities affiliated with and/or controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) and non-FAR entities.

National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseJune 16, 2017

National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba

MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT
                 THE SECRETARY OF STATE
                 THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
                 THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
                 THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
                 THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
                 THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
                 THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
                 THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
                 THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
                 THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
                 THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
                 THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
                 THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
                 THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OF STAFF
                 THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT
                    AND BUDGET
                 THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
                    NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
                 THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
                    HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM
                 THE COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT
                 THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
                    FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
                 THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
                 THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE
                    AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
                 THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES
                    TO THE UNITED NATIONS
                 THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SMALL BUSINESS
                    ADMINISTRATION
                 THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY
                    FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
                 THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL
                    MANAGEMENT

Section 1.  Purpose.
 
The United States recognizes the need for more freedom and democracy, improved respect for human rights, and increased free enterprise in Cuba.  The Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and fails to respect their essential human dignity.
 
My Administration's policy will be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, as well as solidarity with the Cuban people.  I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people.  To that end, we must channel funds toward the Cuban people and away from a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.
 
In Cuba, dissidents and peaceful protesters are arbitrarily detained and held in terrible prison conditions.  Violence and intimidation against dissidents occurs with impunity.  Families of political prisoners are not allowed to assemble or peacefully protest the improper confinement of their loved ones.  Worshippers are harassed, and free association by civil society organizations is blocked.  The right to speak freely, including through access to the internet, is denied, and there is no free press.  The United States condemns these abuses.
 
The initial actions set forth in this memorandum, including restricting certain financial transactions and travel, encourage the Cuban government to address these abuses.  My Administration will continue to evaluate its policies so as to improve human rights, encourage the rule of law, foster free markets and free enterprise, and promote democracy in Cuba.
 
Sec. 2. Policy.

It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:
 
      (a)  End economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, or security agencies or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people.
 
      (b)  Ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.
 
      (c)  Support the economic embargo of Cuba described in section 4(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (the embargo), including by opposing measures that call for an end to the embargo at the United Nations and other international forums and through regular reporting on whether the conditions of a transition government exist in Cuba.
 
      (d)  Amplify efforts to support the Cuban people through the expansion of internet services, free press, free enterprise, free association, and lawful travel. 
 
      (e)  Not reinstate the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy, which encouraged untold thousands of Cuban nationals to risk their lives to travel unlawfully to the United States.
 
      (f)  Ensure that engagement between the United States and Cuba advances the interests of the United States and the Cuban people.  These interests include: advancing Cuban human rights; encouraging the growth of a Cuban private sector independent of government control; enforcing final orders of removal against Cuban nationals in the United States; protecting the national security and public health and safety of the United States, including through proper engagement on criminal cases and working to ensure the return of fugitives from American justice living in Cuba or being harbored by the Cuban government; supporting United States agriculture and protecting plant and animal health; advancing the understanding of the United States regarding scientific and environmental challenges; and facilitating safe civil aviation.
 
Sec. 3. Implementation.
 
The heads of departments and agencies shall begin to implement the policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum as follows:
 
      (a)  Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate and in coordination with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Transportation, shall initiate a process to adjust current regulations regarding transactions with Cuba.
 
           (i)    As part of the regulatory changes described in this subsection, the Secretary of State shall identify the entities or subentities, as appropriate, that are under the control of, or act for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel (such as Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors), and publish a list of those identified entities and subentities with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.
 
           (ii)   Except as provided in subsection (a)(iii) of this section, the regulatory changes described in this subsection shall prohibit direct financial transactions with those entities or subentities on the list published pursuant to subsection (a)(i) of this section.
 
           (iii)  The regulatory changes shall not prohibit transactions that the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary of Commerce, in coordination with the Secretary of State, determines are consistent with the policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum and:
 
                 (A)  concern Federal Government operations, including Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and the United States mission in Havana;
 
                 (B)  support programs to build democracy in Cuba;
 
                  (C)  concern air and sea operations that support permissible travel, cargo, or trade;
 
                 (D)  support the acquisition of visas for permissible travel;
 
                 (E)  support the expansion of direct telecommunications and internet access for the Cuban people;
 
                 (F)  support the sale of agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices sold to Cuba consistent with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 2002 (22 U.S.C. 6001 et seq.);
 
                 (G)  relate to sending, processing, or receiving authorized remittances;
 
                 (H)  otherwise further the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States; or
                (I)  are required by law.
 
      (b)  Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall initiate a process to adjust current regulations to ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.
 
           (i)    The amended regulations shall require that educational travel be for legitimate educational purposes.  Except for educational travel that was permitted by regulation in effect on January 27, 2011, all educational travel shall be under the auspices of an organization subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and all such travelers must be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring organization. 
 
           (ii)   The regulations shall further require that those traveling for the permissible purposes of non academic education or to provide support for the Cuban people:
 
                 (A)  engage in a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities; and
 
                 (B)  meaningfully interact with individuals in Cuba.
 
           (iii)  The regulations shall continue to provide that every person engaging in travel to Cuba shall keep full and accurate records of all transactions related to authorized travel, regardless of whether they were effected pursuant to license or otherwise, and such records shall be available for examination by the Department of the Treasury for at least 5 years after the date they occur.
           (iv)   The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Transportation shall review their agency's enforcement of all categories of permissible travel within 90 days of the date the regulations described in this subsection are finalized to ensure such enforcement accords with the policies outlined in section 2 of this memorandum.
 
      (c)  The Secretary of the Treasury shall regularly audit travel to Cuba to ensure that travelers are complying with relevant statutes and regulations.  The Secretary of the Treasury shall request that the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury inspect the activities taken by the Department of the Treasury to implement this audit requirement.  The Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury shall provide a report to the President, through the Secretary of the Treasury, summarizing the results of that inspection within 180 days of the adjustment of current regulations described in subsection (b) of this section and annually thereafter.
 
      (d)  The Secretary of the Treasury shall adjust the Department of the Treasury's current regulation defining the term "prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba" so that, for purposes of title 31, part 515 of the Code of Federal Regulations, it includes Ministers and Vice-Ministers, members of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers; members and employees of the National Assembly of People's Power; members of any provincial assembly; local sector chiefs of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; Director Generals and sub–Director Generals and higher of all Cuban ministries and state agencies; employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT); employees of the Ministry of Defense (MINFAR); secretaries and first secretaries of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba (CTC) and its component unions; chief editors, editors, and deputy editors of Cuban state-run media organizations and programs, including newspapers, television, and radio; and members and employees of the Supreme Court (Tribuno Supremo Nacional).
 
      (e)  The Secretary of State and the Representative of the United States to the United Nations shall oppose efforts at the United Nations or (with respect to the Secretary of State) any other international forum to lift the embargo until a transition government in Cuba, as described in section 205 of the LIBERTAD Act, exists.
 
      (f)  The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney General, shall provide a report to the President assessing whether and to what degree the Cuban government has satisfied the requirements of a transition government as described in section 205(a) of the LIBERTAD Act, taking into account the additional factors listed in section 205(b) of that Act.  This report shall include a review of human rights abuses committed against the Cuban people, such as unlawful detentions, arbitrary arrests, and inhumane treatment.
 
      (g)  The Attorney General shall, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, issue a report to the President on issues related to fugitives from American justice living in Cuba or being harbored by the Cuban government.
 
      (h)  The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall review all democracy development programs of the Federal Government in Cuba to ensure that they align with the criteria set forth in section 109(a) of the LIBERTAD Act.
 
      (i)  The Secretary of State shall convene a task force, composed of relevant departments and agencies, including the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and appropriate non-governmental organizations and private-sector entities, to examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba, including through Federal Government support of programs and activities that encourage freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom so that the Cuban people can enjoy the free and unregulated flow of information.
 
      (j)  The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall continue to discourage dangerous, unlawful migration that puts Cuban and American lives at risk.  The Secretary of Defense shall continue to provide support, as necessary, to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security in carrying out the duties regarding interdiction of migrants.
 
      (k)  The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall annually report to the President regarding the engagement of the United States with Cuba to ensure that engagement is advancing the interests of the United States.
 
      (l)  All activities conducted pursuant to subsections (a) through (k) of this section shall be carried out in a manner that furthers the interests of the United States, including by appropriately protecting sensitive sources, methods, and operations of the Federal Government.
 

Sec. 4.  Earlier Presidential Actions.
 
      (a)  This memorandum supersedes and replaces both National Security Presidential Directive-52 of June 28, 2007, U.S. Policy toward Cuba, and Presidential Policy Directive-43 of October 14, 2016, United States-Cuba Normalization.
 
      (b)  This memorandum does not affect either Executive Order 12807 of May 24, 1992, Interdiction of Illegal Aliens, or Executive Order 13276 of November 15, 2002, Delegation of Responsibilities Concerning Undocumented Aliens Interdicted or Intercepted in the Caribbean Region.
 
Sec. 5.  General Provisions.
 
      (a)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
 
           (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
 
           (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
 
      (b)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable laws and subject to the availability of appropriations.
 
      (c)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
      (d)  The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

What Vice President Pence Said Today In Miami, Florida

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2017
 
REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
ON THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES TOWARDS CUBA

                     
Manuel Artime Theater
Miami, Florida
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Miami!  (Applause.)
 
What a great day.
 
Governor Scott, Senator Rubio, Congressman Diaz-Balart, Congressman Curbelo, Secretary Acosta, Secretary Perdue, Secretary Ross, distinguished members of the Cuban-American community, honored guests, my fellow Americans, welcome to history!  (Applause.)
 
Welcome to a historic day, a day when America will renew our commitment to the ideal of freedom in this hemisphere, a day when the world will witness America once again standing in solidarity with the people of Cuba thanks to the strong and unwavering leadership of President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)
 
It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to President Donald Trump -- a man of his word, a man of action, and a President who stands without apology as leader of the free world.  (Applause.)
 
Since the hour of our nation’s birth, the United States has stood for the proposition that all are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  (Applause.)
 
As Americans we believe these rights belong to the entire human family.  But for 58 years the people of Cuba have labored under a repressive regime that has stifled their liberty and with it, their future.
 
For generations, the sons and daughters of Cuba have come to our shores in search of the freedom that their friends and family at home are denied.
 
But while you came to the land of the free, you never forgot home.  You raised your voices through the generations to demand that Cuba be free once more -- and once again, you have a President who hears you and is with you.  (Applause.)
 
Today, President Donald Trump will make it clear that America is with you, that America stands with the persecuted, the oppressed, and the exploited in Cuba -- that this nation stands not with tyrants, but today, President Donald Trump will make it clear that the United States of America stands with the courageous men and women of Cuba who seek to reclaim their God-given rights to life and liberty.  (Applause.)
 
Today, under the leadership of President Donald Trump America, will say once again with one voice -- Que Viva Cuba Libre -- Cuba Si, Castro No.  (Applause.)
 
AUDIENCE:  Cuba Si, Castro No, Cuba Si, Castro No, Cuba Si, Castro No! 
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So With gratitude for his leadership, and with admiration for his unwavering dedication to freedom, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you my friend, the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

END 

What President Trump Said Today In Miami, Florida

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                 
June 16, 2017
 
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
ON THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES TOWARDS CUBA
 
Manuel Artime Theater
Miami, Florida
 
1:31 P.M. EDT
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Great honor.  And thank you to my truly great friend, Vice President Mike Pence -- he’s terrific.  (Applause.)  And thank you to Miami.  We love Miami. 
 
Let me start by saying that I’m glad Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and I, along with a very talented team, were able to get Otto Warmbier back with his parents.  (Applause.)  What’s happened to him is a truly terrible thing, but at least the ones who love him so much can now take care of him and be with him.

Also, my dear friend, Steve Scalise, took a bullet for all of us.  And because of him, and the tremendous pain and suffering he’s now enduring -- he’s having a hard time, far worse than anybody thought -- our country will perhaps become closer, more unified.  So important. 

So we all owe Steve a big, big thank you.  And let’s keep the Warmbier family, and the Scalise family, and all of the victims of the congressional shooting, in our hearts and prayers.  And it was quite a day and our police officers were incredible, weren’t they?  They did a great job.  (Applause.)   

And let us all pray for a future of peace, unity and safety for all of our people.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  And for Cuba.

I am so thrilled to be back here with all of my friends in Little Havana.  (Applause.)  I love it.  I love this city. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.

This is an amazing community, the Cuban-American community -- so much love.  I saw that immediately.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, darling.  Oh do I love you, too.  (Applause.)   

What you have built here -- a vibrant culture, a thriving neighborhood, the spirit of adventure -- is a testament to what a free Cuba could be.  And with God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve.  (Applause.)  

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I don’t even mind that it is 110 degrees up here.  (Laughter.)  This room is packed.  You know, it wasn’t designed for this.  I would like to thank the fire department.  (Laughter.) 

We are delighted to be joined by so many friends and leaders of our great community.  I want to express our deep gratitude to a man who has really become a friend of mine -- and I want to tell you, he is one tough competitor -- Senator Marco Rubio.  (Applause.)  Great guy.  (Applause.)  He is tough, man.  He is tough and he’s good, and he loves you.  He loves you.

And I listened to another friend of mine, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart -- (applause) -- and I’ll tell you, I loved what he said, and I appreciate it.  Mario, I appreciated what you said so much.  In fact I was looking for Mario.  I wanted to find him -- they said he was onstage.  I almost dragged him off the stage to thank him, but now I’m thanking you anyway.  Thank you, Mario.  That was great.  Really appreciate it. 

And I also want to thank my good friend, and just a man who was of tremendous support in the state of Florida, for being with us -- Governor Rick Scott.  (Applause.)  Great job.  He’s doing a great job.  I hope he runs for the Senate.  I know I’m not supposed to say that.  I hope he runs for the Senate.  Rick, are you running?  (Applause.)  I don’t know.  Marco, let’s go, come on.  We got to get him to -- I hope he runs for the Senate.

We are deeply honored to be joined by amazing Veterans of the Bay of Pigs.  (Applause.)  These are great people, amazing people.  (Applause.)   

I have wonderful memories from our visit during the campaign.  That was some visit.  That was right before the election.  I guess it worked, right?  Boy, Florida, as a whole, and this community supported us by tremendous margins.  We appreciate it. 

But including one of the big honors, and that was the honor of getting the Bay of Pigs award just before the election, and it’s great to be gathered in a place named for a true hero of the Cuban people.  And you know what that means.  (Applause.)  

I was also looking forward to welcoming today two people who are not present -- José Daniel Ferrer and Berta Soler -- (applause) -- were both prevented from leaving Cuba for this event.  So we acknowledge them.  They’re great friends -- great help.  And although they could not be with us, we are with them 100 percent.  (Applause.)  We are with them.  Right?

Finally, I want to recognize everyone in the audience who has their own painful but important story to tell about the true and brutal nature of the Castro regime.  Brutal.  We thank the dissidents, the exiles, and the children of Operation Peter Pan -- you know what that means -- (applause) -- and all who gather in the cafes, churches, and the streets in this incredible area and city to speak the truth and to stand for justice.  (Applause.)   

And we want to thank you all for being a voice for the voiceless.  There are people –- it’s voiceless, but you are making up the difference, and we all want to thank you.  This group is amazing.  Just an incredible –- you are an incredible group of talented, passionate people.  Thank you.  Incredible group of people.   

Many of you witnessed terrible crimes committed in service of a depraved ideology.  You saw the dreams of generations held by captive, and just, literally, you look at what happened and what communism has done.  You knew faces that disappeared, innocents locked in prisons, and believers persecuted for preaching the word of God.  You watched the Women in White bruised, bloodied, and captured on their way from Mass.  You have heard the chilling cries of loved ones, or the cracks of firing squads piercing through the ocean breeze.  Not a good sound.

Among the courageous Cuban dissidents with us onstage here today are Cary Roque, who was imprisoned by the Castro regime 15 years ago.  (Applause.)  She looks awfully good.  

MS. ROQUE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  Thank you, Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart.  Thank you to all the men and the Cubans who fight no matter what -- for the Cuban liberty.  Mr. President, on behalf of the Cuban people, the people inside my eyes, my homeland, thank you.  Thank you, and we appreciate your love.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Wow.  That's pretty good.  She didn't know she was going to do that either, I will tell you.  Thank you very much.

Antunez, imprisoned for 17 years.  Where is he?  (Applause.)  I love that name.  Antunez -- I love that name --and Angel De Fana, imprisoned for over 20 years.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Very brave people.

The exiles and dissidents here today have witnessed communism destroy a nation, just as communism has destroyed every single nation where it has ever been tried.  (Applause.)  But we will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer.  You have seen the truth, you have spoken the truth, and the truth has now called us -- this group -- called us to action.  Thank you.

Last year, I promised to be a voice against repression in our region -- remember, tremendous oppression -- and a voice for the freedom of the Cuban people.  You heard that pledge.  You exercised the right you have to vote.  You went out and you voted.  And here I am like I promised -- like I promised.  (Applause.)

I promised you -- I keep my promises.  Sometimes in politics, they take a little bit longer, but we get there.  We get there.  Don't we get there?  You better believe it, Mike.  We get there.  (Laughter.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  No, we keep our promise.

And now that I am your President, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.  Because we know it is best for America to have freedom in our hemisphere, whether in Cuba or Venezuela, and to have a future where the people of each country can live out their own dreams.  (Applause.)

For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination.  To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores.

The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela.  While imprisoning innocents, it has harbored cop killers, hijackers, and terrorists.  It has supported human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation all around the globe.  This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. (Applause.)

My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it.  And we will never, ever be blind to it.  We know what's going on and we remember what happened.  (Applause.)

On my recent trip overseas, I said the United States is adopting a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense.  I also said countries should take greater responsibility for creating stability in their own regions.  It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime.  (Applause.)  Well, you have to say, the Iran deal was pretty bad also.  Let's not forget that beauty.

They made a deal with a government that spreads violence and instability in the region and nothing they got -- think of it -- nothing they got -- they fought for everything and we just didn’t fight hard enough.  But now those days are over.  Now we hold the cards.  We now hold the cards.  (Applause.)

The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people -- they only enrich the Cuban regime.  (Applause.)  The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military.  The regime takes the money and owns the industry.  The outcome of the last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful, democratic movement.

Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Trump!  Trump!  Trump!

THE PRESIDENT:  I am announcing today a new policy, just as I promised during the campaign, and I will be signing that contract right at that table in just a moment.  (Applause.)

Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.  We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba.

Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law.  (Applause.)  We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.  Elections.  (Applause.)

We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime.  They will be restricted.  We will enforce the ban on tourism.  We will enforce the embargo.  We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people, so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country’s great, great future -- a country of great potential.  (Applause.)

My action today bypasses the military and the government, to help the Cuban people themselves form businesses and pursue much better lives.  We will keep in place the safeguards to prevent Cubans from risking their lives to unlawful travel to the United States.  They are in such danger the way they have to come to this country, and we are going to be safeguarding those people.  We have to.  We have no choice.  We have to.  (Applause.)

And we will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this long reign of suffering to an end.  And I do believe that end is in the very near future.  (Applause.)

We challenge Cuba to come to the table with a new agreement that is in the best interests of both their people and our people and also of Cuban Americans.

To the Cuban government, I say:  Put an end to the abuse of dissidents.  Release the political prisoners.  Stop jailing innocent people.  Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms.  Return the fugitives from American justice -- including the return of the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard.  (Applause.)

And finally, hand over the Cuban military criminals who shot down and killed four brave members of Brothers to the Rescue who were in unarmed, small, slow civilian planes.  (Applause.) 

Those victims included Mario de la Pena, Jr., and Carlos Costa.  We are honored to be joined by Mario’s parents, Miriam and Mario, and Carlos’s sister, Mirta.  Where are you?  (Applause.)  Those are great, great parents who love their children so much.  What they've done is just an incredible, incredible thing -- what they represent -- they did not die in vain -- what they represent to everybody, and especially to the Cuban people.  So your children did not die in vain, believe me.  (Applause.)

So to the Castro regime, I repeat:  The harboring of criminals and fugitives will end.  You have no choice.  It will end.  (Applause.)

Any changes to the relationship between the United States and Cuba will depend on real progress toward these and the other goals, many of which I’ve described.  When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much better deal for Cubans, for Americans.  Much better deal and a deal that's fair.  A deal that's fair and a deal that makes sense. 

Our embassy remains open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path.  America believes that free, independent, and sovereign nations are the best vehicle for human happiness, for health, for education, for safety, for everything.  We all accept that all nations have the right to chart their own paths -- and I’m certainly a very big believer in that -- so we will respect Cuban sovereignty.  But we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people.  That will not happen.  (Applause.)

Over the years, a special sympathy has grown between this land of the free, and the beautiful people of that island, so close to our shores and so deeply woven into the history of our region.  America has rejected the Cuban people’s oppressors.  They are rejected.  Officially today, they are rejected.  (Applause.)  And to those people, America has become a source of strength, and our flag a symbol of hope.

I know that is exactly what America is to you and what it represents to you.  It represents the same to me.  It represents the same to all of us.  And that is what it was to a little boy, Luis Haza.  You ever hear of Luis?  He became very famous, great talent -- just eight years old when Fidel Castro seized power. At the time, Luis’s father was the police chief in Santiago de Cuba.  You know Santiago?  Yeah?  Oh, they know Santiago.  Just days after Fidel took control, his father was one of 71 Cubans executed by firing squad near San Juan Hill at the hands of the Castro regime.

Luis buried his grief in his great love of music.  He began playing the violin so brilliantly and so beautifully.  Soon the regime saw his incredible gift and wanted to use him for propaganda purposes.  When he was 12, they organized a national television special and demanded he play a solo for Raul Castro  -- who by the way is leaving now.  I wonder why.

They sent an official to fetch Luis from his home.  But Luis refused to go.  And a few days later, Castro’s soldiers barged into his orchestra practice area, guns blazing.  They told him to play for them.  Terrified, Luis began to play.  And the entire room was stunned by what they heard.  Ringing out from the trembling boy’s violin was a tune they all recognized.  This young Cuban boy was playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”  (Applause.)  Luis played the American National Anthem all the way through, and when he finished, the room was dead silent.

When we say that America stands as a symbol to the world -- a symbol of freedom, and a symbol of hope -- that is what Luis meant, and that is what Luis displayed that day.  It was a big day.  It was a great day.  And that is what we will all remain. That was a very important moment, just like this is now, for Cuba.  A very important moment.  (Applause.)  America will always stand for liberty, and America will always pray and cheer for the freedom of the Cuban people.

Now, that little boy, whose story I just told you, the one who played that violin so beautifully so many years ago, is here with us today in our very, very packed and extremely warm auditorium.  (Laughter.)  Of course, he is no longer a little boy, but a world-renowned violinist and conductor -- one of the greats.  And today he will once again play his violin and fill the hearts of all who love and cherish Cuba, the United States, and freedom.  (Applause.)

I would like to now invite Luis to the stage. 

Luis.  (Applause.)

(Luis Haza plays The Star-Spangled Banner on the violin.)

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Luis.  I just said, so where were you more nervous?  Today or then?  He said, honestly, I think today.  That's pretty -- (laughter.)  Thank you, Luis, that was beautiful.

     So I want to thank Miami.  I want to thank Little Havana.  Havana, we love.  Do we love it?  Would you move anywhere else?  You wouldn't move to Palm Beach, would you?  No.  No way.  Little Havana.

     And I want to thank all of our great friends here today.  You've been amazing, loyal, beautiful people.  And thank you.  Don't remind me.  Actually, I was telling Mike, so it was two days -- on my birthday -- until a big day, which turned out to be tomorrow -- the 16th.  That was the day I came down with Melania on the escalator at Trump Tower.  That's tomorrow.  (Applause.)  So it's exactly tomorrow -- two years since we announced.  And it worked out okay.  Worked out okay.  (Applause.)  It's a great honor.  Believe me, it's a great honor.  Right?

     AUDIENCE:  (Sings Happy Birthday.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

     I just want to end by saying may God bless everyone searching for freedom.  May God bless Cuba.  May God bless the United States of America.  And God bless you all.  Thank you.  Now I'm going to sign.  Thank you.

     (The President participates in a signing.)

     So this says, "strengthening the policy of the United States toward Cuba."  And I can add, "strengthening a lot."  (Laughter.)  So this is very important, and you watch what's going to happen.  Going to be a great day for Cuba. 

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 

                        END               2:09 P.M. EDT

Commerce Questions & Answers Regarding the President’s 06/16/17 Cuba Policy Announcement

Commerce Questions & Answers
Regarding the President’s 06/16/17 Cuba Policy Announcement

1.    How will the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) implement the changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President on June 16, 2017? Are the changes effective immediately?

BIS will implement any Commerce-specific changes required by amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will implement any necessary changes by amending its Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR). If amendments to the EAR are necessary, BIS will publish them in the coming months. None of the announced changes take effect until the new regulations are issued.

2.    Will the changes affect existing contracts and licenses?

If amendments to the EAR are required, they will be prospective and thus will not affect existing contracts and licenses.

3.    How will the changes affect travel by U.S. Persons to Cuba?

OFAC will implement any necessary changes affecting such travel via amendments to its CACR.

4.    Will aircraft and vessels carrying passengers to Cuba once again require a BIS license?

Aircraft and vessels departing the United States on temporary sojourn to Cuba will remain eligible for a license exception. Passengers must have appropriate authorization from OFAC.

5.    How will exporters know if their customer is connected to GAESA (Grupo de Administracion Empresarial de las Fuerzas Armadas) or any other prohibited parties?

The Department of State intends to publish a list that identifies prohibited entities.

6.    Will exports of agricultural products, medicine and medical devices be impacted?

Exports of agricultural products, medicine and medical devices are governed by statute and will not be impacted.

7.    Will exports in support of the Cuban people, including to private sector entrepreneurs, be restricted?

BIS does not anticipate that such exports will be restricted.

Complete Document In PDF Format
 

From The OFAC: Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump’s Cuba Announcement

June 16, 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 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. An employee, consultant, or agent of the group must accompany each group to ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities.

4.      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, whether the trip occurs before or after OFAC’s new regulations are issued, would also be authorized, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June 16, 2017.

5.      How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect other 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 in not 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 issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

6.      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, any Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes 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 commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

7.      Does the new policy affect how persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?

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

8.      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.  As a result, the restrictions on certain transactions in the new Cuba policy will not limit the ability to send or receive authorized remittances.

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

The new policy will not result in changes to the other (non-individual people-to-people) authorizations for travel.

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

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

The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect existing contracts and licenses.

11.  How will U.S. companies know if their Cuban counterpart is affiliated with a prohibited entity or sub-entity in Cuba?

The State Department will be publishing a list of entities 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.

12.  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 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.

IN PDF FORMAT

Press Gaggle Aboard Air Force One On Way To Miami, Florida

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2017
 
PRESS GAGGLE
BY MICHAEL ANTON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NSC
AND A SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
 
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Miami, Florida
  
Q    For the new Cuba policy, does that have anything to do with --
 
MR. ANTON: I’ll see if I can get my colleague. 
 
Q    I’m just wondering if you’re worried about Cuba being a staging ground for terrorists and that’s part of the reason for the new policy.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The only thing I’ll say on the Cuba policy here, for what it’s worth, is that the continuation of no wet foot, dry foot policy, of the ending of that policy is a good thing for not only the people who end being put in harm’s way, but for our border security. 
 
And outside of that, I am going to leave H.R. and the President, and Senator Rubio and others to do most of the talking on the Cuba policy today. 
 
Thank you very much.  Thanks, all.
 
 * * * *
 
     MR. ANTON:  Look, I can't talk about stuff beyond the NSC purview that I have.  So for DACA, I’ve got to refer you to the White House Press Office, which everybody is there.
 
(Goes off the record.)
 
(Returns on the record.)
 
     Q    On the Cuba announcement today, you guys are doing it during a meeting of a lot of Latin American leaders who have been against changing the Obama administration policy.  Some might see this as a slap in the face to them during this meeting.  Why the timing?
 
     MR. ANTON:  The timing -- there’s nothing intentional about the timing.  It’s not a slap in the face.  This is something -- we hope we can get support from other Latin American leaders for this policy, and we’ll be -- we think this is a policy that favors the Cuban people over and against an oppressive regime.  And we hope that we can garner other support from leaders in the region.
 
     Q    Mike, explain the significance of the location.  The theater is named after the man who led the Bay of Pigs invasion.  There’s the notion that this is provocative.
 
     MR. ANTON:  The President spoke at this same location in October of 2016 in a campaign event.  He was also the only presidential candidate ever endorsed by this group of either party in any election.  He was grateful for that endorsement.  He’s inspired by the courage shown by the leaders of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and he’s honored to go back and stand with them again to make this announcement.
 
     Q    The changes that are being talked about seem relatively small compared to what you could have done.  How is that going to -- are the folks going to be happy with that?
 
     MR. ANTON:  I don't think I would classify them as small.  I think the changes are very targeted, and the changes are specific, and they have a clear intent, which is to put pressure on the regime and to support the people.  That's why the embassy, for instance, will remain open.  That's why -- travel will remain permitted, but travel will be permitted that's consistent with U.S. law and that falls under one of the 12 categories that we think are intended to help develop civil society, develop a free economy, develop a private sector, small businesses, and so on.
 
     Q    The President said in a statement today that he was under investigation.  How was he made aware of that?  
 
     MR. ANTON:  I going to refer you to the White House Press Office.
 
     Q    Michael, if you're an American wanting to travel to Cuba, what will you need to do before going?
 
     MR. ANTON:  Well, as I said, there are 12 categories of permissible travel under the law.  The regulations will be in the process of being changed after this policy takes effect once the President signs it today.
 
     We don't have a hard date for when all of those regulations will be published.  Some will be published by Treasury, some by the State Department.  You will need to consult with those agencies to figure out whether your specific trip and purpose are permissible under the law.
 
     Q    How do you square the President’s focus on human rights in Cuba with his apparent lack of interest in human rights in other countries. 
 
     MR. ANTON:  I dispute that he has a lack of interest in human rights in other countries.  It’s true that the President approaches the question of human rights in different ways, depending on the relationship the United States has with a particular country.  For instance, the United States has a strong security relationship with Egypt.  The President was proud to welcome President el-Sisi of Egypt to the White House, where he discussed in private his concerns about human rights.  And very shortly thereafter, the Egyptians released an American they had held for -- if I recall correctly -- nearly three years.
 
     So he takes a different tack depending on the nature of the relationship between the two countries, but his concern is consistent no matter what the country.
 
     Q   -- in his speech -- just what we're expected to hear today from him?
 
     MR. ANTON:  I think you're going to hear strong support for the Cuban people, a strong condemnation of the regime and its practices, and an outline of what the policy does and is intended to do.
 
     Q    Is he going to list the benchmarks that Cuba needs to do for better relations with the United States?
 
     MR. ANTON:  I wouldn’t call it a list, but he will certainly refer to the policy change that he would like to see the Cuban regime take.
 
     Q    And what are those?
 
     MR. ANTON:  Great political and economic freedom.  I would say everything that he’s asking for is lumped under those categories.  He will call for them to release political prisoners.  He will call for them to return U.S. fugitives from justice back to the United States so that they can face justice in the United States.  He will call for Cuba to liberalize its economy, to strengthen the private sector, and to take steps toward greater democratic participation for its people.
 
     Q    Do you expect the policy to change which hotels Americans will be able to, under the law, to stay in in Cuba?  In which hotels --
 
     MR. ANTON:  Hotels, but also not just hotels, also other businesses that are linked to the military, the intelligence services and the Cuban security apparatus will not permissible to transact business with.  And that's one of the things that's going to be worked out as the regulations are finalized.
 
     The State Department will eventually be publishing lists that make that clear where people -- what’s permissible and what’s not permissible.
 
     Q    Can you address what the administration is doing to get to the bottom of what happened to Otto Warmbier in North Korea and how it is that he was returned to the U.S. in a coma?
 
     MR. ANTON:  I can't say anything, I think, beyond what we have said about it.  I think we've given some detailed information about the discussions that led to that release.  And I think you also know that the President spoke to the family, I guess, two evenings ago now.  But the family has asked for privacy beyond that, and so we're just not commenting further than that.
 
     Q    But is the U.S. satisfied with the explanation that North Korea gave that it was botulism and then a sleeping pill that led to his current condition?
 
     MR. ANTON:  I don't have anything further about that.  I think we are glad that Otto is home with his family.  We're certainly very concerned about his current status.  And we're trying to respect the family's wishes for privacy beyond that.
 
     Q    Michael, is the President willing to have talks with the Cuban leadership?
 
     MR. ANTON:  Well, look, the United States talks to the Cuban government and we're keeping the embassy open, as I've noted.  So those talks will continue.  In terms of higher-level talks, there's no discussion of that at this time, but our government remains open to speaking at higher levels if we see progress toward the goals that the President has outlined.  But I'm not going to prejudge that or promise anything or set specific conditions for which leader at which level might speak.
 
     Q    Why will these changes help bring about change in Cuba when decades of a full embargo did not change significantly the human rights record?
 
MR. ANTON:  Well, our hope is that these people-to-people contacts that are allowed under specific rules and the ability of Americans to travel there and meet Cubans, directly support Cuban small businesses, directly support Cuban private enterprise, directly support dissidents will strengthen the Cuban private sector, strengthen Cuban civil society, and lead to popular pressure for positive change.
 
Q    Does that mean you agree, essentially, with the Obama administration's posture toward Cuba, even though you're refining the policy?  Because those are similar arguments that they made.
 
MR. ANTON:  No, I think the President was very, very clear that he thinks the Obama administration's deal wasn't much of a deal at all.  It was the United States giving the Cuban regime most, if not all, of what it had wanted for the past half-a-century without getting anything in return for the Cuban people.  And this policy is a necessary change to address the deficiencies that the President outlined in the Obama policy.
 
Q    Can you tell us who is aboard?
 
MR. ANTON:  Senator Rubio is aboard.  Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is aboard.  Secretary Perdue, of Agriculture, is aboard.  Secretary Ross, Commerce.  Secretary Acosta of Labor.  And Representative Curbelo -- I hope I didn't pronounce that wrong.  Those are the -- aside from the senior staff, those are the -- so we have three members of Congress and I guess three Cabinet Secretaries.
 
Q    Is Reince on the plane?
 
MR. ANTON:  Reince is not on the plane.
 
Q    Will the President do anything in Miami besides the speech and signing the directive?
 
MR. ANTON:  He will meet with veterans of the Bay of Pigs and some -- there's a private meet-and-greet that's not open press with some Cuban --
 
Q    From the group that endorsed him last year?
 
MR. ANTON:  And other Cuban-American leaders in Miami.
 
Q    Will anybody from the administration today be able to answer questions on DACA and DAPA and the President's statements regarding the investigation?
 
MR. ANTON:  I would refer you, again, back to the White House Press Office, which is fully manned and ready to take your questions. 
 
Thanks.
 
END

Why Can President Trump Do What He May Do? Because The Obama Administration & Government Of Cuba Let Him

If the Obama Administration and government of Cuba had modeled for an election outcome other than a victory for Hillary Clinton, instead of President Trump visiting Miami, Florida, on 16 June 2017 to deliver a speech about his revised vision for the relationship between the United States and Cuba, he would be visiting to enjoy a round of golf.

The only reason for the Trump Administration to have a pathway to implement bilateral, and potentially multilateral impactful changes to the United States-Cuba commercial, economic and political relationship is due the lack of effort by the Obama Administration and the government of Cuba.  The result has been both tragedy and irony.

If the Obama Administration and government of Cuba had modeled an outcome other than for the election of Hillary Clinton in November 2016, the landscape in Cuba created by United States companies would have been solidified; making disruption demonstrably less rhetorically and optically enticing.

Let’s remember that the Obama Administration did not permit direct correspondent banking, which would have created a straight-line payment process for exports (including services) to and imports (including services) from Cuba.  The payment process remains triangular, through third countries, for no statutory reason.

Let’s remember that the Obama Administration permitted one commodity and one agricultural product to be imported for commercial use from the Republic of Cuba to the United States- coffee and charcoal.  There was no statutory reason for the limitation.

Let’s remember that during the eight years of the Obama Administration, there were only two, yes two meetings to discuss the issue of the 5,913 certified claims against the government of Cuba for the expropriation of the assets of companies and individuals.  Those claims were valued at US$1.9 billion but are now valued at approximately US$8 billion.  The Obama Administration said the issue of the certified claimants was a “high priority.”  Two meetings, not negotiations, but two meetings in two years- and there was not a second meeting scheduled after the first meeting and not a third meeting scheduled after the second meeting.  That’s not how most companies define a high priority.

During 2015 and 2016, Members of Congress and advocacy organizations misused valuable days advocating for legislation that had no expectation of becoming law.  They should have been focusing upon seeking further regulatory changes from the Obama Administration and used their perceived and self-marketed relationships with officials of the government of Cuba to obtain greater acceptance of Obama Administration initiatives.

Where the United States business community is today, 15 June 2017, and were it will be as of 16 June 2017, is a result of widespread misapplication of commercial, economic and political resources.

The Three Most [Politically] Dangerous Locations On Friday Accompanying President Trump To Florida

The three (3) most [politically] dangerous locations on Friday will be accompanying President Donald J. Trump on his visit to Florida...

First, aboard Air Force One as invited advocates (i.e. Members of Congress) jostle to be the last individual to visit with the President in his cabin so as to influence his final choice of words.

Second, on the stairway upon arrival to Miami International Airport (MIA), as those advocates jostle downward to be first into an available seat in The Beast.

Third, near the teleprompter at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Florida, in the moments before President Trump commences his speech, as advocates jostle to change the words that the President will view on the screen.  Whomever is operating the teleprompter might consider seeking protection from the United States Secret Service! 

Special Report: Economic Eye On Cuba Monthly Export Report & Company Lists

ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA©
June 2017

April 2017 Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Decreased 1% - 1
Healthcare Product Exports Were US$91,100.00- 2
Humanitarian Donations Were US$377,289.00- 2
Obama Administration Initiatives Product Exports- 3
U.S. Port Export Data- 14
U.S. Companies With A Presence In Cuba- 15
United States Companies Exporting Products To The Republic Of Cuba- 17

 

COMPLETE REPORT IN PDF FORMAT