Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Cuba, EU Normalization Agreement Imminent

February 25, 2016

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The two parties sit down for a seventh round of talks next week.

European Union officials are set to resume talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba next week. The EU consulate in Havana reported Tuesday that an agreement is likely to be reached soon.

Representatives for both countries will meet in Havana March 3-4 for a seventh round of talks. These talks will be led by the EU’s Christian Leffer and Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno. The parties have failed to reach a consensus on human rights and trafficking issues in previous talks.

Cuba is calling on the European Union to scrap its two decade-long “common position” mandate, under which Cuba would be required to adopt democratic and economic reforms as a predicate to the restoration of full diplomatic and economic ties. The EU has eased its position on democratic reforms by Castro’s regime, following Havana’s historic July 2015 détente with Washington.

The EU formally expedited processes toward normalizing relations with the island country in mid-2014, after Washington began talks with Cuba. The July agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of the revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, fully restored US-Cuban diplomatic relations.

Cuba is the only Latin American country without full diplomatic and economic relations with the EU. In 2003, the EU suspended relations following Havana’s efforts to crack down on foreign journalists and activists investigating humanitarian conditions in the island country.

The restoration of ties with leading Western governments is seen by many as a positive step for the dictatorship, a government mired in poverty after decades of trade restrictions and embargoes left the island country resource-strapped.  Some worry, however, that the restoration of relations with leading Western economies may come at a steep cost for the Cuban people, with foreign multinationals likely to profit on cheap labor, pristine natural resources, and tourism.

Cuban relations with the West serve vital security imperatives. The island is a mere 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the US, and, during the Cold War, Soviet-Cuban relations presented a strategic threat. Cuba functioned at the time as a regional hub for possible missile launches against the US. Culminating in the notorious Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis, these early-1960s incidents chilled American-Cuban relations for over two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet state.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/world/20160225/1035306393/cuba-eu-normalization-imminent.html#ixzz41BiVTbTj

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Liberalizing the Cuban Economy…For Whom?

February 25, 2016

By Manuel E. Yepe
http://manuelyepe.wordpress.com/

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

The coming visit to Cuba, on March 21 and 22, of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has the expressed goal of contributing to the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.

But the road to such normalization cannot be undertaken mirroring the model of a situation that existed at some period in the past, because the links between the two sides have never been truly “normal”.

And, in what way could the US oligarchy obtain benefits from the negotiations that are taking place for that purpose in Washington and Havana?

Demands linked to a number of issues have already fallen into complete disrepute. These issues are: human rights (regarding which Cuba shows many accomplishments and the US serious deficiencies); democracy (a term the US foreign policy systematically confuses with capitalism); ties with US enemies (these change constantly because of US foreign policy’s inclination to war); religious intolerance (Cuba is highly regarded for its complete openness to all religions both internally and globally); political fanaticism (Cuban diplomacy enjoys great prestige and has earned outstanding successes in its contributions to conflict resolution in various parts of the world).

Now it appears –at least considering what is reflected by US-controlled or greatly influenced corporate media– that most efforts are focused on demands for the liberalization of the island’s economy to increase its vulnerability to the appetites of Wall Street.

The current slogan, repeated in different ways by these means is “the Cuban government must liberalize its economy in response to every step taken by the United States to partially soften its blockade of the island.”

Derived from this slogan is the warning that “the thaw between Cuba and the United States moves very slowly because of the decision of Havana not to lose control of its economy.”

On other occasions they have used officials or experts linked to the US government to express the claim that the continuation of the easing of sanctions, and some timid steps of the White House to allow exports of some of its products to Cuba –on credit– “will depend on the actions carried out by the Cuban government to liberalize its economy.”

There have also been more categorical demands that “if Cuba does not take steps towards greater openness, both of the economic and political systems, it will be impossible that issues such as the embargo or the Helms-Burton Act are repealed by Congress.”

Or, as bait, offering that if Cuba moves its chips in this regard it will be rewarded, because “then Obama could work wonders before a Congress and a Senate that from January on will have a Republican majority”.

All this leads to the threat that if Cuba wants to get rid of the blockade, it must make the changes demanded by the United States, the think tanks of capitalist thinking and the mass media advocating an economic opening directed to Cuba’s accepting a system of capitalist economy that Cubans rejected in 2011 when –at 163,000 very democratic assemblies– they added, removed or modified a basic text to endorse the roadmap of economic changes within socialism that are being implemented in the most recent period.

For years, the dominant message in the mainstream media indicated that the US blockade was a mere excuse of the Cuban government to hide its economic failure since this had little impact on the economy of the island. Today few dare sustain such a thing, because in just one year of timid measures by Obama, the Cuban economy grew by 4% and became an exception in the region whose GDP –according to the Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) [Economic Commission for Latin America]– has contracted by 0.4%.

The wisest thing would be for Washington to altogether accept the total failure of its economic war against Cuba and its attempt to reverse the victory of the popular Cuban socialist revolution, in the same way it had to admit defeat in its uneven confrontation against Vietnam four decades ago.

Only that, in this case, they have the possibility of ending its aggression in a civilized way, leaving the door open for a future of mutual respect and eventual reconciliation without the humiliation of having to gather on the roof, as they did in Saigon with low brows of defeat, to board the getaway helicopters.

Cuba Eliminates Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer

September 23, 2015

set

By Alfredo Boada Mola

Experts in Cuba have undertaken the initialization of a new plant
based on Japanese technology to deal with the destruction of
substances that cause Ozone Layer depletion.

The fragile gaseous strata filters sunlight and impedes harmful solar
ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface of the Earth, thus
preserving human, plant and animal life.

Ozone Technical Office (OTOZ from the Spanish acronym) specialist,
Natacha Figueredo MSc, explained to the Havana Reporter that this
modern installation cosntructed in the Siguaney cement factory in the
province of Sancti Spiritus, commenced operations last April and is
presently in a functional stabilization phase.

During the first stage Ozone depletion substances (SAO from the
Spanish acronym) collected during the substitution of more than
2,500,000 refrigerators and almost 300,000 air conditioners in the
residential sector are to be destroyed.

The works form part of the “Energy Revolution” which fully eliminated
the use in Cuba of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in domestic
refrigeration.

Hydro-fluorocarbons (HCFC) will later be destroyed in the plant which
will, over the coming months, be collected from refrigeration and
climatization units around the country.

Through this initiative, Cuba has attained the destruction this year
of some 258.4 kilos of SAO, a result which places the island within an
elite group of nations in the region with the capability to undertake
this complex process. Capacity will increase once the plant
stabilizes.

The installation is part of a demonstrative collection, recovery,
storage, transport and regeneration of substances detrimental to the
ozone layer initiative, that is the result of a strategy developed by
the OTC and the Montreal Multilateral Protocol Fund, via the United
Nations Development Program (PNUD).

The project seeks to ensure an environmentally safe outcome to SAO
destruction by averting emission into the earth’s atmosphere, thus
contributing to Cuba meeting Montreal Protocol Commitments to
gradually eradicate  and reduce SAO use.

Cuba is the first country to totally eliminate CFC consumption in
domestic refrigeration, a significant contribution to the
confrontation of climate change related issues that affect the planet,
because the gasses that impact on the Ozone Layer have a potent
greenhouse effect. According to OTOZ data, the actions undertaken on
the island have reduced CO2 atmospheric emissions by 4 million tons
per year.

OTOZ director and doctor in Sciences, Nelson Espinosa explained that
one of the most notable Cuban achievements of the past twenty years is
the total elimination of a group of substances that deplete the Ozone
layer, including the use of CFC’s in the manufacture of pharmaceutical
and industrial aerosols and methyl bromide in the fumigation of crops,
storage units and other industrial installations.

translated by Sean Clancy

CUBA-USA: ACTUALLY, HE DOES NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES

September 22, 2015

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By:  Dr. Néstor García Iturbe

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann

Historical coincidences are always interesting and especially in connection with September 11 there are quite a few. 

Today, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner signed a Presidential Determination” exercising his authority to keep Cuba, until September 14, 2016, under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

In doing so, he makes a mockery of his Secretary of State, John Kerry, who recently said here in Havana that the United States and Cuba were not enemies or rivals, but neighbors. He also provided a sample of poor political acumen by signing this determination on September 11th, when he could have signed it on the10th, or the 12th, to avoid coinciding with other events which occurred on September 11th, in which the United States has been involved.

On one September 11, another US President, from the same oval office where the Nobel Peace Prize Winner works, made the Presidential Determination to launch a coup d’etat against the constitutional government of Chile. This resulted in the death of thousands of Chileans, including President Salvador Allende, and humiliation and torture suffered by thousands of others. The United States never described all those atrocities as human rights violations by the perpetrators of the coup; because, of course, it participated in their commission.

On another September 11, the events that resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center, known as the Twin Towers, occurred.

The then-president was at that moment visiting an elementary school and when he heard the news, made the Presidential Determination to spend more time talking to the children and going over their notebooks, as if he had been prepared for what was taking place. We all know the story that has been spun around these events, including the plane which struck the Pentagon, the remains of which were never seen, and the one that was going to attack the White House which disappeared without further explanation.

Also on a September 11, in New York City, terrorists who were residents in the US shot dead the Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia. The terrorist who was accused and convicted of the crime is already free; perhaps as a result of another Presidential Determination. 

Mr. Obama, history judges men by the determinations they make at any given moment. If they act rightly and courageously, according to justice, or if they act wrongly and capriciously, as if justice and the world were meaningless to them.

In the context we are describing, it is impossible not to remember Comandante Juan Almeida Bosque, who died on a September 11 and who –in the middle of a fierce struggle against the forces of the Batista dictatorship, indeed supported by US determination uttered his famous: “Nobody here surrenders… cojones!“.

Mr. Obama, our national poet Nicolas Guillen, in one of his famous and well-known poems, repeated something very consistent with the Cuban Revolution, when he wrote that I now have what I should have always had.”

In your case, by making this Presidential Determination to keep Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act until September 14, 2016, you have shown that you do not have what it takes.

 

TEXT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION: 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 11, 2015

 September 11, 2015

 Presidential Determination

No. 2015-11  

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

 

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

Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. App. 5(b) note), and a previous determination on September 5, 2014 (79 FR 54183, September 10, 2014), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to terminate on September 14, 2015.

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

Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for 1 year, until September 14, 2016, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515.

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

BARACK OBAMA

Left Wing Highlights Spanish Government”s Stance on Blockade of Cuba

September 4, 2015

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Madrid, Sep 3 (Prensa Latina) The parliamentary spokesman for Izquierda Unida (IU) and general secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, Jose Luis Centella, on Thursday described the Spanish Government”s support for an end to the United States blockade of Cuba as positive.

In a statement issued here, Centella referred to a letter from the director of the Presidency’s Cabinet, Jorge Moragas, about the conclusions of the Brussels Summit between the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Centella, who visited Cuba as a member of a parliamentary delegation headed by Congress Speaker Jesus Posada, noted aspects of the letter sent on behalf of Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, in response to a request from him on May 21.

In his request, the communist leader had asked the Spanish Government to demand the lifting of the European common position on Cuba at the EU-CELAC Summit, because it was discriminatory.

The response received by the IU spokesman states that the Spanish Government favors dialogue with Cuba and negotiations for an agreement between Havana and the EU.

At the same time, Centella noted that the Government’s stance must be approved by Congress, so he will promote several initiatives on behalf of his parliamentary group after returning from his trip.

That step, he added, will be aimed at seeking consensus for further improving relations in tune with the historic, cultural, economic and family ties between Cuba and Spain.

He pointed out that the Brussels Declaration expresses satisfaction with the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, and supports an end to the blockade.

Centella also noted that the Spanish government takes into account the text that reaffirms the rejection of the coercive measures and extraterritorial regulations established by the Helms-Burton Act, which has caused humanitarian damage to the Cuban people and has affected commercial ties between Cuba, the EU and other countries.

According to Centella, it is important that the EU reaffirmed the need to have the blockade lifted, and admitted, as US President Barack Obama did, the suffering caused to the Cuban people by an instrument of aggression that violates international law.

The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?

August 4, 2015

from Counterpunch

Just two weeks after the historic re-opening of embassies and re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and not a moment passes without a Cuba “advocate” talking about “trade” and “travel”. These two words represent two different human phenomena that have gone hand-in-hand since the dawn of antiquity. Due to the enmity exacerbated by a Cold War policy these inalienable rights to travel and trade, guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, have been effectively violated and strictly prohibited for American citizens regarding the island since 1962.

President Obama’s policy of engagement has opened the floodgates for what seems to be the inevitable process of normalization. A tsunami of tourists, commerce coalitions, export specialists, celebrities, and congressional junkets has inundated Havana and other Cuban cities with its newcomers finding it to be so much more complex and vibrant than one has been led to believe by manipulative politicians and a servile media all these years stateside. Now, everyone is interested in going to see for themselves and trying to establish a foothold in a nascent mixed economy.

But what exactly does the media, newly minted cubanologos, and our elected officials mean when they utilize such verbiage?  The American public is being bombarded by a message of promoting “trade” with Cuba. Granted, this is a decidedly positive change from where we were less than a year ago but the manner in which these terms get bandied about clearly demonstrate how much farther we need to go.

This Monday the New York Times Editorial Board published an editorial entitled “Growing Momentum to Repeal Cuban Embargo” in which it stated: “It is time for Congress to help make engagement the cornerstone of American policy toward Cuba.”

It continues by mentioning a new bipartisan bill in Congress introduced by representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN 6th) and Kathy Castor (D-FL14) that would “lift the embargo.” It also calls legislation introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, a bill ” that would allow regular commerce with Cuba.”

Unfortunately, neither bill pretends to “lift the embargo” nor, “allow regular commerce” with Cuba. In fact, they aren’t even two bills. They’re one in the same, to the letter.

Senator Klobuchar’s S. 491 The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2015 is exactly what it calls itself. In many news outlets it has been misrepresented as an end to the embargo since it was introduced in February.

It is….sort of…., for some.

This bill seeks to strike certain sections of the different pieces of legislation enacted throughout the past 54 years that have codified the United States policy of economic strangulation against the Republic of Cuba. The elimination of said sections are meant to allow for more exports to the island under the loosening of several restrictions along with striking the sections encouraging the president to penalize other countries for doing business or investing in the island. It also will allow Americans to travel more freely to Cuba.

But is this promoting trade?

It does not allow for Cuban exports to be imported to the United States. Neither does it strike the extraterritorial requirements for a transitional government. It doesn’t take away the barriers for Cuba to become a member of the OAS and the International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. so the island can count on the financing it will need for mega-projects like the Mariel Economic Zone. Boondoggles like Radio and TV Marti and the State Department’s “democracy promotion” programs will, by law, still have to be created, funded, and executed putting American diplomats at odds with their Cuban counterparts. It doesn’t touch the Cuban Adjustment Act or even address the recent immigration crisis brought upon by Cubans sensing an end to the infamous “wet foot/dry foot” policy and willing to risk their lives to take advantage of it. There are so many things that are important that this legislation doesn’t address. It’s a good start but hardly a triumph for the forces of normalization. The bill hardly promotes trade according to the original sense of the word.

Curiously, the NYT posted an image of a map showing Cuba and Florida with arrows going to and from the island across the Straits to its northern neighbor. Trade is a two-way street and it only happens when conditions in both places allow it. What these highly touted measures are establishing is a one-way street that neither “lifts the embargo” nor allows “regular commerce” with Cuba.

How will US grain exporters fare when they try to make their case for increasing exports when the same representatives from Brazil will say that they have a similar product but come from a country that accepts Cuban rum, tobacco, and other imports? Since 2008, the evidence shows a steep decline in U.S. agriculture exports to Cuba as Midwestern farmers have lost market share to Brazilian farmers and corporations. Just because we have an embassy there now doesn’t mean that Cuba is going to go out of its way to do business with us when there’s no chance of reciprocity. The recent goodwill between both countries will only go so far.

Cuba has a finite capacity to produce pharmaceuticals that, potentially, could be vital to millions of sick Americans. Vaccines against lung cancer, diabetes, and other potentially fatal diseases have been developed by the island’s biomedical initiatives and are universally lauded for their innovation and dissemination. In order to increase that capacity the island’s biomedical industry would need financing and mechanisms put in place so the final product could be offered in the U.S. If these laws truly “lift the embargo” and allow for ” regular commerce” then millions of sick Americans could regain some hope that they might have access to Cuban services and products. These hopes will not be answered by Senator Klobuchar’s original bill. These illnesses will not be alleviated by swapping out exports for “trade” in Representative Emmer’s H.R. 3238 Cuba Trade Act of 2015.

The very fact that these bills are getting traction and attention is encouraging but the language being used to promote a transforming Cuba policy needs to be more accurate. These bills are chipping away at the embargo and should be considered, debated, and, hopefully, passed. But let’s not pull a rotator cuff patting our selves on the back for lifting the embargo.

Normalization is a process that will eventually lead to a much-needed reconciliation between both nations. U.S. exports and business interests along with tourists, celebrities, legislators, and humanitarian groups traveling to the island have a role to play but they cannot be the only ones to dictate the pace of renewed bilateral relations. The road to reconciliation will be a two-way causeway of ideas, resources, and opportunities. Our legislative efforts and the media exposure given to such measures should reflect that.

Benjamin Willis is an activist living in New York who has worked with the Cuban American community in bringing about engagement during the Obama era. His book reviews are available in the International Journal of Cuban Studies. He is Co-Director of the United States Cuba NOW PAC.

Europe Was Too Slow in Bridging Cuba Ties

July 21, 2015

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Cuba does not need Europe and does not see it as a priority, which the EU’s ‘Common Position’ on Cuba does not help, Spanish political expert Jose Manuel Martin Medem told Sputnik.

The European Union was too slow to bridge ties with Cuba because of its “Common Position” agreement on the country, Spanish government RTVE television journalist Jose Manuel Martin Medem told Sputnik.

According to Medem, Spanish businessmen are very worried because there are now new economic players in Cuba. Meanwhile, the European Union remains behind the US in repairing its relations with Cuba.

“The EU was too late again because it created a ‘Common Position’ on Cuba, following the US, and now, as Washington and Havana are again opening embassies, Brussels is still discussing whether this ‘Common Position’ should be abandoned,” Medem said.

According to Medem, Spain performed very poorly since the premiership of Jose Maria Asnara, who insisted on the “Common Position” in Brussels, thereby closing the doors for talks with Cuba. The situation only slightly improved under prime minister Jose Luis Sapatero.

Medem sees integration with other Latin American countries as the best option for the island’s development. According to him, Cuba does not see the EU as a priority.

“Today Cuba has a broader spectrum of diplomatic relations than ever before, and Europe presents neither political, nor economic, nor geostrategic interest,” Medem added.

Medem brought up the example of Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, who visited Cuba in November 2014, but was “humiliated” by not being received by Cuban President Raul Castro.

Lifting the embargo on Cuba: Why we need to act now

June 26, 2015

cuba si

By Scott D. Gilbert

The latest survey results are stunning. According to a poll by USF Sarasota-Manatee, slightly over 91 percent of respondents want the Cuban embargo lifted. The longer the government takes to comply with this decisive mandate, the more Americans, as well as Cubans, will suffer the consequences.

Virtually every U.S.-Cuban policy expert and political analyst knows that sooner or later the embargo will be consigned to history. But the operative words are “sooner or later.” If it’s later, U.S. businesses, both corporations and smaller companies, will continue to miss out on rich investment opportunities that promise significant returns for themselves, their shareholders, their employees, and their communities.

To be sure, it’s not just corporate behemoths that stand to gain from a level playing field. As of this writing, family farmers and ranchers have also joined with those demanding an end to the embargo, especially smaller rural stakeholders that depend on exports to survive. For them, Cuba is an untapped market, made all the more promising as Cuban spending power, projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.6 percent through 2020, continues to increase.

Despite U.S. trade missions to the island and somewhat looser constraints on trade, the myopia that keeps the embargo in place is costing everybody money. Everybody, that is, except foreign business interests that, absent American competition, will invest all the more fruitfully, as long as the embargo tilts the competitive odds in their favor. It’s no accident that France’s President François Hollande led a large trade mission to Cuba, while representatives from Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia have likewise paid visits.

“It’s impossible to deny that diplomatic detente between Washington and Havana has accelerated the process of normalization between Cuba and Europe,” said Salim Lamrani, a Cuba expert at France’s University of La Reunion.

While some in the U.S. nurse old political wounds, these foreign competitors are already planning investments in real estate, infrastructure projects, agriculture, Internet technology, telecom, pharmaceutical, automotive, financial services, and more. Each area represents fertile ground for American interests as well, once the embargo is lifted. And every day that goes by until then reflects increasingly lost opportunities stateside.

Ironically, while the long-overdue thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations has encouraged and even accelerated foreign investment in Cuba, the vast majority of U.S. businesses, still shackled by the embargo, cannot compete in that marketplace.  This is not about leveling the playing field for American companies; it is about just letting them onto the field.

The embargo is a vestige of an archaic foreign policy. Arguably, it was a failed policy from the get-go, accomplishing nothing except to deepen the suffering of average Cubans who themselves had little or no participation in the political activities that rankled the U.S. for six decades.

At this point we should be beyond arguing the historical merits of the embargo.  Indeed, the majority of Cuban Americans – the children and grandchildren of the émigrés who came to the U.S. in the 1960s – support lifting the embargo.

Some memories never fade; some wounds never close. But supporters of the embargo need to consider how little they have to gain, and how much the eleven million people on the island stand to lose, if the embargo drags on.

The U.S. has enough to do to fight today’s battles without needlessly prolonging yesterday’s.

Gilbert, Esq., heads Reneo, a Washington-based legal-strategic consulting firm.  He waged a successful pro bono legal campaign to free Alan Gross, who was imprisoned for five years in Cuba.

TheHill.com.blog

UNUSUAL CUBA ADS ON US TV

June 22, 2015

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By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs4401.html,

A different kind of publicity regarding Cuba has begun to reach
U.S. TV viewers, who, for more than half a century, have received
only slanderous criticism about political life on the island.

It is not that the mainstream media have changed their hostile
orientation, but the mere fact that some of them have allowed
–albeit paid– a different kind of publicity than
the one demanded by the US power elite since the triumph of the
popular revolution in 1959, is an encouraging sign for US
citizens and, of course, also for Cubans.

A new bipartisan coalition (Republican and Democrat) called
“Engage Cuba”, constructed of entities interested in developing
ties with Cuba, has emerged in line with the official
announcements of the governments of Washington and Havana in
December 2014. It has launched a campaign in major US media,
criticizing the archaic bans denying US citizens their
constitutional right to travel to and do business with Cuba.

The 30 second ad, produced by the advertising firm Shorr Magnus
Johnson, began airing on Tuesday, June 16, on cable television
services Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.

The text points out that Americans are free to travel anywhere
in the world –with the exception of Cuba– and that
an estimated 5.9 billion dollars in annual US exports from the
United States are currently blocked by the outdated prohibition
–more in keeping with the Cold War– which prevents
trade with Cuba.

In the words of James Williams, president of the Engage Cuba
coalition,“Public polls show that Americans are saying,
‘We are tired of the Cold War-era policy that won’t
let us trade or travel to Cuba. We want our government to let us
play a role in this significant period of transition.’
That’s why we’re launching Engage Cuba.”

Engage Cuba had a role in negotiating the landmark deal that has
enabled the Cuban Interests Section and the future embassy of
Cuba in Washington to receive indispensable banking services for
the current process of normalization.

The coalition supports draft legislation known as Freedom to
Travel to Cuba Act (S. 299), submitted by Senators Jeff Flake and
John Boozman (Arizona Republicans) and Patrick Leahy (a Vermont
Democrat), which already has forty co-sponsors in the Senate.

Engage Cuba’s membership includes organizations and enterprises
in all sectors and major business groups like the National
Foreign Trade Council, the National Association of Manufacturers,
the Consumer Electronics Association, the Council of the
Americas, and the American Society of Travel Agents.

Also members of Engage Cuba are civil society organizations like
Third Way, CubaNow, Cuba Study Group and the Center for Democracy
in the Americas.

In addition, Engage Cuba is working directly with leading
companies sharing the goal of removing the travel and trade ban
on Cuba, such as Procter & Gamble, Cargill, Caterpillar, Choice
Hotels, and the Havana Group, among others.

“There is a growing number of bipartisan agreements, more than in
the previous 54 years of the policy of isolation, which has hurt
our own businesses and farmers,” said Steven Law, who was head of
the office of former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell/ A
aside from being the chair of the American Crossroads, McConnell
now serves as Senior Advisor to Engage Cuba. “The future of a
commitment with Cuba has come, and it’s time for Congress to help
manage the transition of that policy.”

“One of these days, our legislative branch of government
is going to have to start functioning,” says Luke Albee, a
senior adviser to Engage Cuba who served as chief of staff to
U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Patrick Leahy. “There is no
better way to help make this happen than to change our archaic
Cuba policy. It is in our national interest. And it is fair for
the United States and for the Cuban people.”

It is unquestionable that US citizens are among the most misled
and misinformed in the world. Their right to know the truth has
been systematically blocked and manipulated.

European Union made a fool of itself for following Washington’s line with regard to Cuba, said former EU lawmaker.

June 16, 2015

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(vicepresident Diaz-Canel – Federica Mogherini )

MADRID (Sputnik) – The political dialogue between Cuba and the European Union was officially restarted in April 2015, with Havana and Brussels starting talks on a bilateral agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation in April 2014.

“The European Union has a fundamental problem, it absolutely depends on the economic, security, defense and foreign policy of the United States… However, now we’re involved in a foreign policy that doesn’t have European values, as can be seen with Cuba. The European Union made a fool out of itself,” said Willy Meyer, a former member of the European Parliament from Spain’s United Left party.

Havana and Brussels are participating in the fourth round of negotiations to improve political dialogue and cooperation on Monday and Tuesday.

“The EU shouldn’t have to wait for more rounds of negotiations to terminate the so-called ‘common position’ and treat Cuba like any other state in the world,” Meyer said.

In June 2008, the European Union lifted the sanctions it had imposed on Havana five years earlier when over 70 opposition figures were arrested in Cuba.

The Cuba-EU political dialogue takes place amid a thaw in the island’s relations with the United States.

US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced their plans to normalize bilateral relations last December. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed in 1961.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150615/1023395182.html#ixzz3dDv5QefI


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