Author Topic: Cuba  (Read 26389 times)

Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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Communist = kings/queens
« Reply #52 on: May 04, 2017, 04:53:09 AM »
They could also offer the job to Obama.  He is free (or rather we are free of him! - thank God)

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/274558d9f2924a16958be4e47384953a/cuban-presidents-daughter-his-successor-may-be-surprise

ccp

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G M

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Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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ccp

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good question
« Reply #58 on: September 19, 2017, 05:17:32 AM »
"I wonder what the proper response is for - an act of war."

Obama would have sent them aid to show how nice we are and to express our deep empathy for what the horrible US did to them.

Clinton would have sent lawyers for more diplomacy and talks that would have done nothing .

No idea what Trump would do.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Cuba
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2017, 11:10:46 AM »
Save As PDF
Highlights

    Cuban President Raul Castro will hand power to a successor, likely Miguel Diaz-Canel, by February 2018. The new president will likely maintain Cuba's current policies toward Venezuela and the United States.
    Cuba's government will attempt to wean itself off Venezuelan energy shipments while trying to diversify its import sources. In the meantime, Cuba will keep importing oil and fuel from Venezuela at current levels for as long as it can.
    To accomplish this goal, the Cuban government will continue to try to keep pro-Cuban Venezuelan officials, such as President Nicolas Maduro, in key positions of power.

In Cuba, austerity is threatening to make an unwanted comeback. The island's government is planning for an immediate future of budget cutbacks with little chance of financial relief. At the root of Cuba's slide into austerity is the Venezuelan economic crisis. Cuba receives around 55,000 barrels per day of mostly crude oil from Venezuela — down from more than 100,000 barrels per day only five years ago — as well as an unknown amount of financial assistance. The decline in Venezuelan energy shipments has forced the Cuban government to seek to diversify its import sources and to cut back on imports of higher-grade gasoline and diesel.

In this sense, Cuba's new austerity is a far cry from the "special period" of the early 1990s, when its primary source of foreign assistance and trade, the Soviet Union, disintegrated and the Cuban government's income declined precipitously. In 1993 alone, Cuba's gross domestic product fell nearly 15 percent. Venezuela's economic crisis will not affect Cuba as dramatically or as rapidly as the Soviet Union's collapse did, but declining oil and fuel shipments from Venezuela will raise the financial burden on Cuba's central government.

Facing a New Necessity

Since 2000, when the two countries signed an energy cooperation agreement, Cuba has enjoyed access to low-cost (and often free) Venezuelan oil, gasoline, diesel and fuel oil, providing medical care and training in return. In addition, Cuban intelligence and internal security services have worked with their Venezuelan counterparts to monitor and thwart any threats from Venezuela's political opposition or armed forces. As a result of the agreement, Havana has not had to budget meaningfully for energy expenses for nearly two decades. This dependence was mutually beneficial as long as both governments were capable of keeping up their ends of the deal. But the steady degradation of Petroleos de Venezuela's oil production and refining capacity since the mid-2000s has loomed over Havana's relationship with Caracas, and once the collapse of global oil prices in 2014 plunged Venezuela into economic crisis, finding a new energy patron became a necessity for the Cuban government.

Cuba has several advantages when it comes to dealing with the domestic effects of Venezuela's economic decline. As an authoritarian state with virtually no private sector, it can quickly dial down energy consumption by refusing to import or distribute some fuel shipments. Subsequent shortages might breed discontent, but not necessarily to a point that would threaten the government. Private vehicle ownership in Cuba isn't as high as it is in other Caribbean or Latin American countries, and the government's reputation in managing dissent would keep most would-be protesters in check. Cuba likely will try to keep the decline in Venezuela's fuel shipments gradual, while Venezuela, for its part, will likely reduce shipments to other Caribbean states before cutting off Cuba's subsidized energy.

A sudden change of government in Caracas or a shift in priorities from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela could alter these likelihoods. The first scenario would require a coup, and the second would occur only if party factions hostile to Cuban interests were able to decisively influence Caracas' stance toward Havana, if, for example, a political figure such as Diosdado Cabello, a former military officer not closely linked to Cuba's government, pressed for a quicker reduction in Venezuelan assistance to Cuba. To mitigate these risks, Cuba will continue to support the efforts of Venezuelan intelligence services to detect threats from within, to protect pro-Cuba political figures, such as President Nicolas Maduro, and to defend their influence over the National Constituent Assembly and other government institutions.
A Steady Extraction

For Havana, the trick will be managing Cuba's energy consumption amid Venezuela's economic decline and growing political instability. A gradual decline in Venezuelan oil supplies would allow the Cuban government to slowly wean itself off that source and steadily substitute imports from other state and private companies. That effort could become easier if a plan by Mexico's government to substitute Venezuelan energy shipments with its own comes to fruition. On the other hand, the financial burden of a sudden loss of Venezuelan oil and fuel lifeline would be extremely high. At current prices, losing Venezuela's energy shipments would cost an extra $1 billion to cover. That amounts to about 50 percent of the Cuban central government's entire budgeted income.

Miguel Diaz-Canel, a career politician and member of Cuba's Politburo, is in line to succeed the aging Raul Castro as president by February 2018. There is no reason to expect Diaz-Canel to significantly change Cuba's policy toward either Venezuela or the United States. The lifting of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba is off the table for the foreseeable future, given that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump moved to tighten sanctions on the Cuban government and pulled its diplomats from Havana after a series of suspected sonic attacks against them by an unknown actor. This deterioration in political ties means that Cuba's finances are unlikely to receive a sudden windfall from a further influx of U.S. tourists in coming years. The Cubans will keep supporting the Venezuelan administration because its energy consumption and domestic finances depend on the survival of Maduro's government.

For Cuba, the near future presents major financial obstacles that it will attempt to overcome by trying to steadily extract itself from its relationship with Venezuela. But cementing a new trade relationship with the United States is likely off the table for now. The upcoming leadership transition in Havana is unlikely to change that situation. Instead, Cuba will try to steadily supplant Venezuelan oil and fuel with shipments from other sources while hoping its energy patron doesn't suddenly cut off its energy supply.

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Cuba, Congrats to President Miguel Díaz-Canel
« Reply #61 on: April 19, 2018, 10:48:56 AM »
Miguel Díaz-Canel won an astonishing 605 to 0 election of the National communist manifesto Assembly yesterday.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-43823287

He is a staunch ally of Raúl Castro and is not expected to make any radical changes.

His most vocal opponents are either dead or in prison.

ccp

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Re: Cuba
« Reply #62 on: April 19, 2018, 03:08:10 PM »
another foreign policy success of Obama's

ccp

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Obama : just vote for crass to make Cuba better
« Reply #63 on: November 03, 2018, 12:26:30 PM »
Miami Cubans would not buy this sales pitch:
https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/11/03/cuba-first-barack-obama-says-florida-democrats-help-make-cuba-great-again/

no mention Cuba is Communist.  (like obama)

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: A New Chapter in Cuba-US Relations
« Reply #64 on: January 27, 2019, 07:34:30 PM »


Summary

During a speech outlining U.S. policy in Latin America in November, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton branded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny.” Bolton criticized the prevalence of poverty, violence and oppression in these countries, stressed that the U.S. would increase pressure on their autocratic governments, and vowed that Washington would stand with those fighting for freedom. It was no coincidence that he delivered the address in Miami, the home of many expats from these nations.

For Cuba, the United States’ new hard-line approach has meant intensifying economic pressure, and, in many ways, the timing couldn’t be worse. The Cuban economy has been struggling for the past few years with sluggish growth and disappointing investment levels. Its closest allies are also struggling with their own domestic challenges and disputes with the U.S. and are in no position to come to Cuba’s aid. This Deep Dive will look at the history of U.S.-Cuba relations and the new efforts of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to squeeze the Cuban government.

Cuba’s Strategic Value

Cuba is an island that stretches 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) long and lies about 100 miles south of the U.S. state of Florida and 125 miles east of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Because of its location, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, it plays a major role in U.S. maritime interests. Cuba, or whoever controls it, could block access to the Gulf of Mexico and leave exports departing vital ports like New Orleans with no way to access international markets. The prospect was dire enough that in 1823 U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams told U.S. diplomats Washington intended to annex Cuba within half a century for fear that another foreign power would claim it.

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Cuba’s location cemented its status as a subject of competition among regional and global powers. As a Spanish colony, it served as a major port for ships arriving from Spain whose cargo needed replenishing and whose crews needed rest before moving on with their journey. It also served as a military hub in Spain’s quest to fend off other powers, such as Britain and France, that wanted to establish colonies in the Americas. When anger against Spain started growing in Cuba, the U.S. and Mexico began to court pro-independence groups on the island. Mexico was already much weaker than the U.S. by this time, and Washington managed to align with independence movements to more or less control the island in the early years of its statehood. After Cuba’s revolution, however, Cuban leader Fidel Castro allied the country with the Soviet Union to dry to deter U.S. aggression and influence.

With the end of the Cold War, Cuba’s place in great power competition diminished. Russia was a shadow of the former Soviet Union, and the U.S. solidified its dominance in the Americas, turning its attention and resources to other parts of the world. But nearly three decades later, countries outside the Western Hemisphere, particularly those the U.S. sees as rivals, are once again looking to project power and influence in the Americas. Though they don’t represent much of a challenge to U.S. ascendancy in the region, they are nonetheless a source of frustration that Washington can’t afford to ignore. The scenario may well lead to a revival of the Monroe Doctrine, the 19th-century U.S. policy of opposing foreign (at the time, European) interference in the Americas.

U.S.-Cuba Relations Over Time

Economics have always played a key role in U.S.-Cuba relations. Trade ties between the two, in fact, were a decisive factor in ending Spanish rule over the island. As a colony, Cuba officially traded with only Spain (though it carried out illicit trade with other countries), but as Spanish control over the island declined, it opened up trade with the United States. Their economic ties boomed in the 19th century, so much so that some Cubans pushed for U.S. annexation of the island.

Once Fidel Castro’s Communist Party took power in Havana, relations between the U.S. and Cuba deteriorated. Washington imposed a range of sanctions against the Cuban government starting in 1960, when President Dwight Eisenhower cut Cuba’s sugar quota to the U.S. in response to the nationalization of U.S.-owned refineries on the island. Eisenhower then banned all exports to Cuba except for food and medicine. President John F. Kennedy expanded the embargo, banning all imports from and business transactions with Cuba unless explicitly approved by the executive branch. Trade with the United States fell from 68 percent of total Cuban trade in 1958 to zero percent in 1962, while trade with the Soviet Union jumped from less than 1 percent to 49 percent over the same period. President Lyndon Johnson then led a broader effort to isolate Cuba from Western Europe and Latin America.

In the 1970s, the U.S. began to ease these efforts after realizing they weren’t having the desired effect, since the Soviet Union continued to prop up the Cuban economy. President Gerald Ford started backdoor talks with Cuba to try to normalize relations, exempting foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from the embargo and helping to relax restrictions imposed on Cuba by the Organization of American States. U.S. President Jimmy Carter also tried to normalize relations – even though Cuba sent troops to Angola to back a leftist movement there – and eased measures such as a ban on U.S. travel to the island. But in the 1980s, as several leftist revolutions in Central America turned the tide of U.S. foreign policy, these efforts stalled. President Ronald Reagan reinstated the travel ban, restricted the flow of hard currency and remittances, and banned the import of products containing nickel (one of Cuba’s top exports) from Cuba or the Soviet Union.

Following the Soviet Union’s collapse, Cuba’s economy became more vulnerable to U.S. economic pressure. From 1989 to 1993, Cuba’s gross domestic product fell by 35 percent, its real income decreased by 75 percent and its capacity to import fell by 74 percent. The U.S. decided the time was right to intensify the pressure in an attempt to bring down the government. President George H.W. Bush once again barred overseas subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba and restricted access to U.S. ports for ships that had docked in Cuba. During his administration, Congress passed the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act, which promoted “a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba through the application of sanctions.” The administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush redoubled measures to limit business ties, remittances and tourism to Cuba before Barack Obama’s administration reversed many of them. Obama opened up travel between the two countries, allowed for business and remittance flows, called for an end to the embargo, and removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Trump Changes Course

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has, in turn, reversed the Obama-era moves to warm relations with Cuba. Trump outlined his position on the country in October 2017, stating that the purpose of his Cuba policy was to further the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests and to empower the Cuban people. He introduced two major changes targeting Cuba’s tourism sector, one of the country’s most lucrative industries. First, he restricted travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Second, and more important, he restricted U.S. companies from doing business with certain firms linked to the Cuban military – which is heavily involved in tourism. (The initiative built on legislation – introduced in 2015 but never ratified – that would have prohibited dealings with companies tied to Cuba’s military and government.) The U.S. State Department released a list of firms banned from doing business with the U.S. in November 2017 and updated it last year. All of them are tied to tourism.

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Just last week, the U.S. also signaled that it may implement the 1996 Helms-Burton Act. The controversial legislation enables U.S. citizens to sue companies profiting from property the Cuban government seized from them after the 1959 revolution and also allows those who were Cuban citizens when their property was confiscated to sue. When the bill – whose implementation could affect all businesses operating in Cuba, including cruise companies that dock there – first passed, major U.S. trade partners that still do business with Cuba, such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico, condemned it. Every administration since its passage has suspended the key clause, Title III, to avoid angering allies. Then on Jan. 16, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the Trump administration would suspend the clause for only 45 days, instead of the usual six months. Pompeo added that the government would use the waiver period to carry out a review of all articles of the law “in light of the national interests of the United States and efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.”

Cuba’s Transition

These moves come at a time when Cuba is undergoing a political and economic transition. Its president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, became the first person outside the Castro family to lead Cuba in nearly six decades, after taking over for Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, in April 2018. The Diaz-Canel administration has proposed a series of constitutional reforms, including measures to introduce a prime minister to oversee the government’s day-to-day management, along with provincial governors, who would replace the presidents of provincial assemblies. Under the proposed changes, which will be put to a referendum Feb. 24, the president could serve a maximum of two five-year terms and would have to be under 60 years old on taking office. (Raul Castro was 76 when he stepped in for his brother in February 2008.)

One of the goals of the changes is to move the country away from a governing style dominated by one leader while still maintaining a single-party system – similar to the systems in place in China and Vietnam today. (The new constitution, if passed, may increase the military’s role in government, too, which explains why the Trump administration has targeted firms with ties to the armed forces.) In addition, many of the changes aim to improve efficiency in the economy. The draft constitution acknowledges recent economic reforms aimed at improving the business environment, streamlining government and reducing debt. It also allows for more transparent foreign investment, gives state-owned companies more autonomy and introduces a tax system. It even recognizes private property and the role of markets, though it maintains the primacy of the state in land ownership, production and economic planning. According to the government, these changes will help Cuba attract sorely needed foreign capital.

Many of these changes build on reforms that Raul Castro introduced in 2011, to little avail. Diaz-Canel hopes his government can succeed where its predecessor did not and is shooting to achieve 1.5 percent economic growth in 2019 by boosting foreign direct investment, increasing exports and reducing imports. (Annual imports are already on the decline, down to $11.3 billion in 2017 from $15.6 billion in 2013.) He also wants to pay down Cuba’s external debt – which hit $15.8 billion in 2015, the last time official figures were released – by implementing austerity measures and using inventory and emergency reserves. And to reduce fuel imports, the government plans to cut fuel consumption, a risky move considering that energy helps drive the economy.

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The U.S. plans to target the tourism sector, one of Cuba’s top sources of foreign currency, could damage the Cuban economy. The Cuban government made an estimated $3 billion through tourism last year, while private businesses related to the sector, such as taxi services and restaurants, pulled in an estimated $1 billion. Canada and the U.S. were the top two tourist markets for Cuba, followed by various Western European countries. It seems the Trump administration’s moves to tighten travel restrictions haven’t deterred U.S. tourists yet: U.S. visitors to the island increased last year by about 20,000 – admittedly a more modest bump than in previous years – to reach 630,000. Still, restrictions on business with certain companies in the tourism industry and the uncertainty surrounding the Helms-Burton Act may make U.S. tourists and businesses think twice about spending their dollars in Cuba.

 

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External Factors

Complicating matters for Havana is the lack of an external benefactor it can rely on for financial support. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia was too weak to be a reliable economic partner, and courting the U.S. wasn’t an option. Cuba thus looked to strengthen ties with an array of countries, rather than to depend on a single power, as it had for much of its history. It maintained good relations and economic ties with Russia, as well as with like-minded nations such as China and Venezuela. It also increasingly opened up to Western Europe. The problem now is that many of Cuba’s allies are dealing with political and economic problems at home that prevent them from being the country’s patron.

Venezuela, for example, is in the midst of a crisis. Its oil exports to Cuba have fallen by at least 40 percent since 2014, and that’s a generous estimate. Meanwhile, a political scandal in Brazil, and the election of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, mean that Cuba can no longer rely on the country for support. Brazil has scrapped plans for new investments in Cuba and has sent the thousands of Cuban doctors it hosted, whose salaries went to the Cuban government, back home. Making matters worse, Cuba recently defaulted on a loan from Brazil’s development bank.

Though Russia has stepped up to help Cuba with oil shipments and small loans, these measures have had a limited effect. Russia is facing economic problems of its own and can’t offer to sell Cuba large amounts of oil at a favorable price. Of course, it wants to support Cuba as much as it can so that it has an ally in the United States’ backyard. Moscow, in fact, sent a delegation of advisers to the island just a couple of months ago. But it has too many bigger concerns, in places like Syria and Ukraine, to spend much of its time or resources propping up the Cuban economy. Similarly, China is too busy managing the fallout from its economic slowdown and the U.S. trade war to come to Cuba’s aid.

As for the European Union, it has taken a renewed interest in Cuba over the past couple of years. Western Europe is Cuba’s leading source of FDI, and many Spanish companies, in particular, are involved in Cuban tourism and infrastructure. Europe, however, may be one of the regions most affected by the Helms-Burton Act, if the Trump administration decides not to suspend it past March. Furthermore, the European Union is already engaged in disputes with the U.S. over trade, the Iran nuclear deal and energy projects involving Russia. It likely wouldn’t want to put a possible deal on these issues at risk by backing the Cuban government against Washington’s wishes. Cuba, then, will have to hope its political and economic reforms will help it weather the storm of the U.S. crackdown on the “troika of tyranny.”

ccp

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John Bolton honors the Cuban Bay of Pigs veterans
« Reply #65 on: April 20, 2019, 08:34:46 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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Cuba moving to more economic freedom
« Reply #69 on: February 09, 2021, 07:57:50 AM »
https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/bryan-preston/2021/02/08/trump-defeats-castro-communists-cuba-set-to-open-up-its-economy-n1424105

as we move to more and more corporate -  government fascist style control

 :-(

what. a weird turn of events

Crafty_Dog

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Cuba in need of a new patron
« Reply #70 on: February 15, 2021, 04:27:43 AM »
Cuba Is on the Clock
The island is in dire need of a new patron.
By: Allison Fedirka

Cuba may be a geostrategically valuable country, but its value far outweighs its actual power. The island’s proximity to the rest of North America’s coastlines, as well as its position in the Gulf of Mexico, which gives it influence over all maritime traffic in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere, has made it both a prize and a power broker for anyone with interest in this region of the world. Yet, its small size and limited resources prevent Cuba from projecting much power on its own.


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Havana’s solution to this historic dilemma has been to offer itself to a patron who in return can offer economic prosperity and security guarantees. The Spanish first established this client-patron relationship in the 15th century, using Cuba as a critical resupply station between the Old World and the New. As the Spanish Empire faded, so too did Cuba’s economic prosperity. Tired of sacrificing for a patron that could no longer meet their needs, the Cubans rose up against the Spanish and allied with the United States. The new relationship was a boon to the Cuban economy, but Washington’s heavy-handed political control led to another revolution, after which the Cuban government, then led by Fidel Castro, quickly aligned with the Soviet Union. After it collapsed, the Cuban economy again fell into disrepair. (Unlike Cuba's break from Spain and the U.S., the split with the Soviets was not initiated by Havana, which was therefore unprepared for it.) Foreign aid, strong security forces and state-sponsored initiatives to promote tourism allowed the Castro government to remain in power until a new patron could be found.

Cuba, a communist country in a post-Cold War world, didn’t have a lot of options. Enter Hugo Chavez. His rise to power in oil-rich Venezuela in 1999 made Caracas a viable patron for Havana. Chavez had the Bolivarian ideology that meshed nicely with Cuba’s. Venezuela gave Cuba subsidized oil, and in return Cuba supported Venezuela with intelligence and security cooperation. Their partnership, however, was short-lived. Chavez died in 2013, leaving Venezuela’s government accounts distorted with high social spending bills and a population dependent on government services. Oil prices tanked in 2014. Since then, Venezuela’s ability to lend support to Cuba has dramatically declined. Caracas can no longer feed its own population, let alone prop up a foreign government. Russia has attempted to fill the void by canceling Cuba’s debt, initiating a railway modernization project and giving Cuba modest grain exports. These efforts were enough to forestall a crisis but not to fundamentally change the direction in which Cuba was heading.

It's now 2021, and Cuba’s behavior over the past few months leads only to one conclusion: that the economy is reaching a breaking point and the government is therefore looking for a patron to ensure its survival. For over a year, there have been anecdotal reports of fuel shortages. Economic problems in the agriculture sector have compromised domestic production and led to shortages. (President Miguel Diaz-Canel has even acknowledged the situation publicly.) Between reduced Venezuelan oil shipments and the high price of alternative oil imports, transportation on the island is also breaking down. The brief influx of U.S. dollars after travel restrictions for Americans were lifted in 2015 ended in 2017, when the Trump administration reinstated past restrictions and introduced more severe sanctions against Cuba. The COVID-19 pandemic killed international travel to the island and thus its lucrative and crucial tourism industry.

The government is looking for answers. It put in a request with the Paris Club for a two-year moratorium on paying its debt; the club granted it a one-year reprieve last month. It has accelerated a raft of economic reforms meant to spark economic activity by reducing distortions and attracting investment. In July, the government made U.S. dollars more accessible so that they can be used to buy a wider range of basic goods. In November, it streamlined the process by which foreign investment was approved and started to experiment with expanding digital services to further reduce processing times. The next month, the Foreign Trade and Investment Ministry announced that the government would no longer be required to have a majority share in joint business projects in the areas of tourism, biotechnology and wholesale trade. This was followed by the end of select subsidy programs and the convertible Cuban peso. More recently, in early February, Cuba announced that it would expand opportunities for private businesses to operate, lifting restrictions on private enterprise in 1,873 of 2,000 sectors. The government also increased fines for those that engage in price speculation.

Mounting social pressure has amplified the government’s sense of urgency. Last November, there was the first of many protests staged by artists who spoke against the government by occupying the palace plaza and going on a hunger strike. The government intervened, made some arrests and offered an empty invitation to engage in dialogue. Since then, supporters and sympathizers have come together to form the San Isidro and 27N movements. Their most high-profile activity so far was the Feb. 9 delivery of a letter intended for President Joe Biden to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, in which they asked him for help ending some of the recent sanctions placed on the island.

Havana subtly broadcast last week that it was in the market for a new patron. It came in the form of a letter from the Cuban Embassy in Bogota warning the Colombian government of a possible upcoming attack by the National Liberation Army, the paramilitary organization better known as the ELN. The ambassador submitted a document saying outright that the Cuban Embassy had received the information but had not verified it. Given Cuba’s long-standing relationship with the group, the announcement was interpreted as Cuba looking for a political opening.

Among the leading candidates are the U.S. and China. The Biden administration has put nearly all foreign relations under review, and many expect it to revitalize President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize ties with Cuba. Through executive powers, a U.S. president can unilaterally control, to a degree, anyway, the extent to which the U.S. opens to the island. But it remains a highly contentious issue in U.S. politics; these kinds of changes require a lot of political capital, and Biden is currently in short supply. Cuba-watchers – those for and against closer ties with the island, and those inside and outside elected office – have already started mobilizing to get their way. For now, though, the U.S. government does not appear positioned to make any significant changes to its Cuba policy.

China, meanwhile, has been slowly gaining economic influence in Latin America over the past decade and recognizes Cuba’s strategic position relative to the United States. China needs some leverage against the U.S. similar to the kind Washington has against Beijing in the South China Sea. Improved ties with Cuba would go some way toward getting that leverage. Beijing has certainly used shared ideological beliefs to politically align with the Cuban government, and on the economic front, China is now Cuba’s second-largest trading partner. Important advances have also been made in Cuba’s telecommunications systems. Huawei helped establish public Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the island and is now helping increase household connectivity. China’s Haier now assembles laptops and tablets in Cuba, and the China Communications Construction Company operates in Cuba’s Mariel Special Development Zone.


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A U.S. Homeland Security report indicated that China’s telecommunications presence on the island already impedes U.S. firms from entering the Cuban market. Chinese financing now supports port modernization projects in Santiago, and investments are planned in pharmaceuticals and tourism. Cuban officials have also highlighted renewable energy, cybersecurity, technology and biotechnology as areas in which they’d like to work more closely with China. These projects help Cuba, of course, but more will be needed to stabilize the economy, let alone change its current trajectory. How much China comes through will depend in part on how secure its foothold is in Cuba – and how well it will be able to keep the U.S. on edge.

Cuba has made overtures, and though the U.S. and China are the leading options for Cuba, both face constraints in terms of how they can respond. Either way, Havana is on the clock.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Cuba
« Reply #73 on: July 12, 2021, 07:56:10 AM »
NR PLUS MEMBER FULL VIEW
Have the Cuban People Reached Their Breaking Point?

On the menu today: The people of Cuba take to the streets in revolt; a New Yorker vandalizes the gallery that will sell Hunter Biden’s paintings; and Richard Branson technically travels to space — with a bit of irritating talk about how he’s doing it all to help protect the environment.

A Key Step on the Road to a Free Cuba?

The protests and clashes that exploded across Cuba yesterday probably do not yet mark the end of that country’s authoritarian, Communist regime. But that regime no longer has quite such an uncontested grip over the country — and an authoritarian regime’s ability to hold onto power is often dependent upon a monopoly of force and the ability to deliver goods and services that people can’t get anywhere else. Cubans always had to deal with rampant corruption, the U.S. embargo, and the fact that the country’s most driven and independent citizens keep risking their lives by jumping into rafts and attempting to cross 90 miles of ocean full of sharks. Now throw in COVID-19 and the long lapse in the tourism industry, and the immiseration of the Cuban people has reached an intolerable point.

The New York Times summarizes today that, “in a country known for repressive crackdowns on dissent, the rallies were widely viewed as astonishing. Activists and analysts called it the first time that so many people had openly protested against the Communist government since the so-called Maleconazo uprising, which exploded in the summer of 1994 into a huge wave of Cubans leaving the country by sea.”

The Associated Press reported from Havana:

Although many people tried to take out their cellphones and broadcast the protest live, Cuban authorities shut down internet service throughout the afternoon.

About 2 1/2 hours into the march, some protesters pulled up cobblestones and threw them at police, at which point officers began arresting people and the marchers dispersed.

AP journalists counted at least 20 people who were taken away in police cars or by individuals in civilian clothes.

“The people came out to express themselves freely, and they are repressing and beating them,” Rev. Jorge Luis Gil, a Roman Catholic priest, said while standing at a street corner in Centro Habana.

About 300 people close to the government then arrived with a large Cuban flag shouting slogans in favor of the late President Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. Some people from the group assaulted an AP videojournalist, disabling his camera, while an AP photojournalist was injured by the police.

Deutsche Welle stated that, “President and head of the Communist Party Miguel Diaz-Canel attended one of the protests in San Antonio de Los Banos, which is located west of Havana. Social media footage showed protesters shouting insults at the president.”

Protests that seem to explode out of nowhere usually have a long fuse. Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal on December 20, 2020, about the dissident-artist San Isidro Movement:

As the San Isidro Movement gains street cred in the barrio, support from other dissident groups, and recognition abroad, the question on the minds of long-suffering Cubans is whether this time things are different. There are good reasons to remain cautiously pessimistic about the odds of political change. But it’s also true that Cuban civil society seems to be undergoing a revival, and that makes the landscape markedly different than it was even 10 years ago.

And Agence France-Presse, among others, spotlighted a particularly popular and controversial protest anthem on February 25 of this year:

In Cuba, where music and revolution are intertwined, a song by rappers boldly denouncing the communist government has found viral appeal online — but angered a regime that keeps close tabs on culture.

Entitled “Patria y Vida” (Fatherland and Life) — a positive spin on the slogan “Patria o Muerte” (Fatherland or Death) coined by Fidel Castro in 1960 — the song has racked up more than two million views since its release on YouTube on February 16.

It boasts nearly 130,000 likes — but also 4,400 dislikes.

The track does not pull any punches.

Singers sporting gold chains, hoodies and backwards baseball caps rattle off a long list of grievances about poverty, repression and misrule before declaring: “It is over” and “We are not afraid.”

It didn’t generate a ton of attention, but Raul Castro stepped down as the head of the Cuban regime in April. Whether or not you buy into the “great man theory” of history, leaders are not interchangeable. Ayman al-Zawahiri cannot inspire followers the way Osama bin Laden could. Our Jay Nordlinger observed at the time of Castro’s retirement that odious, repressive regimes often outlast their most charismatic leaders — but not always.

Back at the end of June, Human Rights Watch detailed that, “Cuban authorities have jailed and prosecuted several artists and journalists who are critical of the government. Police and intelligence officers have routinely appeared at the homes of other artists and journalists, ordering them to stay there, often for days and even weeks. The authorities have also imposed temporary targeted restrictions on people’s ability to access cellphone data.”

After a while, the oppressed citizens of an authoritarian state just don’t have that much more to lose.

ccp

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WSJ: how communists cling to power
« Reply #74 on: July 13, 2021, 07:44:45 AM »
https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-cubas-communists-cling-to-power-11626128117

**
This system didn’t make the island prosperous, but it kept the Castro brothers in control. Backed by the army, the Communist Party, which maintains a nationwide network of snoops and enforcers, protects the regime.
**

Simply substitute the work purge in the military we see now (backed by the army), the DNC ( for Communist Party) ; CIA NSA , USPS and many other agencies for network of snoops an Antifa , the Democrat law machine for enforcers , leaks to the MSM ....

and the perfect analogy is complete.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2021, 07:50:05 AM by ccp »

DougMacG

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Re: WSJ: how communists cling to power
« Reply #75 on: July 13, 2021, 08:17:51 AM »
https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-cubas-communists-cling-to-power-11626128117

**
This system didn’t make the island prosperous, but it kept the Castro brothers in control. Backed by the army, the Communist Party, which maintains a nationwide network of snoops and enforcers, protects the regime.
**

Simply substitute the work purge in the military we see now (backed by the army), the DNC ( for Communist Party) ; CIA NSA , USPS and many other agencies for network of snoops an Antifa , the Democrat law machine for enforcers , leaks to the MSM ....

and the perfect analogy is complete.

ccp, I had the same reaction to that.

"This system didn’t make the island prosperous, but it kept the [regime] in control. Backed by the ['government and social' networks] which maintain a nationwide network of snoops and enforcers, protects the regime."

   - I was going to say, they had the same experience in Cuba.  I thought they were describing the US.

G M

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Re: WSJ: how communists cling to power
« Reply #76 on: July 13, 2021, 10:24:26 AM »
It's in progress here.


https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-cubas-communists-cling-to-power-11626128117

**
This system didn’t make the island prosperous, but it kept the Castro brothers in control. Backed by the army, the Communist Party, which maintains a nationwide network of snoops and enforcers, protects the regime.
**

Simply substitute the work purge in the military we see now (backed by the army), the DNC ( for Communist Party) ; CIA NSA , USPS and many other agencies for network of snoops an Antifa , the Democrat law machine for enforcers , leaks to the MSM ....

and the perfect analogy is complete.

ccp, I had the same reaction to that.

"This system didn’t make the island prosperous, but it kept the [regime] in control. Backed by the ['government and social' networks] which maintain a nationwide network of snoops and enforcers, protects the regime."

   - I was going to say, they had the same experience in Cuba.  I thought they were describing the US.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Cuba
« Reply #77 on: July 16, 2021, 04:42:49 PM »
Cuba eases limits. The Cuban government said it would ease import restrictions to facilitate the flow of medicine, food and hygiene products into the island following widespread protests over basic goods shortages. Travelers will be allowed to bring unlimited amounts of these products tariff-free into the country. Previously, there was a 10-kilogram (22-pound) limit before taxes kicked in. The changes do not apply to travelers entering Cuba from Cayo Coco and Varadero airports.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Biden's sanctions
« Reply #78 on: July 23, 2021, 02:09:23 PM »


ANALYSES

U.S. Sanctions Dim Hopes for Cuba’s Economic Opening

New U.S. sanctions indicate President Joe Biden will take a harsher-than-anticipated approach to Cuba, which will hamper Havana’s efforts to attract new private investment. On July 22, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Cuba’s defense minister and entire special forces unit, dubbed the Black Berets, following the violent crackdown on protests that erupted earlier this month. The sanctions were applied under the Global Magnitsky Act, which enables the U.S. government to target perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption around the world. Biden has since warned the measures were “only the beginning” of his administration’s response to the Cuban government’s heavy-handed handling of the unrest, which resulted in mass arrests, collective trials and a social media blackout.

This is the second time that the United States has sanctioned a Cuban entity under the Global Magnitsky Act since it went into force in 2012. During its final days in office in January, the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump used the act to impose limited sanctions on the same elite Black Beret forces.

The sanctions are unlikely to deter the Cuban government from using similar heavy-handed tactics to quell future protests — portending further U.S. actions. On July 11, thousands of Cubans took to the streets to protest against food shortages, the high prices of goods and the country's weak health care system. Black Beret forces attempted to quell demonstrations with military tactics, leading to violent clashes between police and protesters. Several journalists were attacked and internet access was shut down for several days in the wake of the unrest. One man died on the outskirts of Havana and several hundred people remain missing after demonstrations calmed on July 12 due to lack of organization. Police forces have since detained over 160 people who participated in the protests. The regime has since carried out mass trials in which activist leaders are tried in small groups at the same time without access to legal defense.

On July 10, protests began around noon in the municipality of San Antonio de Los Banos, located 26 kilometers (roughly 16 miles) from Havana. Other rallies then began springing up in Havana before ultimately spreading throughout the country as people took to the streets after seeing social media posts.

The July 10 demonstrations were the largest Cuba has seen since a similar uprising against government policies in 1994.

The majority of the detained activists were charged with inciting unrest, vandalism or assault, which could carry up to 20-year prison sentences.

The shift in Biden’s Cuba policy will likely deter foreign investment, which will raise the risk of additional episodes of unrest by prolonging the economic issues that triggered the July 11-12 protests. The sanctions mark a significant shift in the White House’s approach to Cuba, as Biden had promised to lift some U.S. sanctions on the island during his 2020 presidential campaign. There was also hope that the Biden administration would end aspects of the trade embargo and restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, which would in turn enable Western investors to fund business endeavors on the island. But as the White House leans on more restrictive sanctions against Cuba, the majority of investors will likely view business opportunities in the country as a liability. This will, in turn, risk impeding Havana’s recent efforts to open its economy by limiting foreign investment to businesses and stakeholders without ties to the United States — namely those in Venezuela and Iran, which traditionally have less readily available access to expendable capital.

On June 2, Cuba’s Council of Ministers authorized private sector involvement in additional areas of the economy. The reforms allow Cubans to legally own and operate private businesses in more than 2,000 different sectors, expanding a previous list of only 127 sectors.

Biden has promised some relief for the Cuban people — currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis — in the form of pressuring the Cuban government to release political prisoners and restore internet access. The White House is also reviewing the current remittances policy, which, if reversed, would allow Cubans living in the United States to send money to relatives on the island, who are more likely to be against the government regime.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Cuba: 3 Generals Dead
« Reply #80 on: July 26, 2021, 04:34:25 PM »
   
Brief: 3 Cuban Generals Are Dead
Their deaths come after the mass protests on July 11.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Background: The Cuban government’s staying power rests on its ability to maintain social order, often through repressing dissent and controlling the economy. Its control over all aspects of island life has enabled it to outlive the Cold War and Soviet Union itself. The protests from July 11, however, call its staying power into question.

Locations of Protests in Cuba
(click to enlarge)

What Happened: On July 25, the Cuban Ministry of the Armed Forces announced the death of Gen. Ruben Martinez Puente, who was 79 years old. This marks the third death of high-ranking military brass since July 11. Gen. Agustin Pena Porrez (57) died July 17, and Gen. Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo (80) died July 21. The government did not provide cause of death, and the generals’ bodies were cremated.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to be certain what exactly happened. It's true that they were old. It’s true that COVID-19 could be to blame, as some Cuban media reports claim. But it’s also true that July 11 was a wake-up call for the government, which would be expected to clean house after a mass uprising. Maybe their loyalty was questioned, or maybe the government needed someone to blame for the protests. For Havana to appear strong, it’ll need at least a couple of scapegoats.