• This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement that was brought to my attention by Andrew Johnston of Ottawa: ".. ... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."

    The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba.

Reporters without Borders: WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2015

logo-enUnfortunately Cuba continues to fare badly on the Reporters without Borders WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2015.  It ranks # 169 out of a total of 178 countries, and well at the bottom for the Western Hemisphere. New Picture (2) For detail, see the Reporter’s without Borders 2015 Report: : Full Report:                           https://index.rsf.org/#!/ Commentary on Cuba:      http://en.rsf.org/cuba.html

New Picture (4)

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Brookings Institution: CUBA’S ECONOMIC CHANGE IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Edited by RICHARD E. FEINBERG AND TED PICCONE

Full Document Here: Brookings, 2014:  Cuba’s Economic Change

                         TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Introduction and Overview    Richard Feinberg

Policies for Economic Growth: Cuba’s New Era,  Juan Triana Cordovi and Ricardo Torres Pérez

Economic Transformations and Institutional Changes in Cuba. Antonio F. Romero Gómez

Institutional Changes of Cuba’s Economic-Social Reforms: State and Market Roles, Progress, Hurdles, Comparisons, Monitoring and Effect. Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Economic Growth and Restructuring through Trade and FDI: Costa Rican Experiences of Interest to Cuba, Alberto Trejos

Monetary Reform in Cuba Leading up to 2016: Between Gradualism and the “Big Bang” Pavel Vidal Alejandro and Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva

Exchange Rate Unification: The Cuban Case. Augusto de la Torre and Alain Ize

New Picture (2)

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DEVELOPMENTS IN US-CUBAN RELATIONS: ARE THERE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BARBADOS?

By Bruce Zagaris and Babak Hoghooghi,  March 29, 2015

Original here: US-Cuban Relations.Opportunities for Barbados

New PictureSUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

As normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States continues, Barbados has some potential opportunities.  Some of these opportunities, as mentioned above, arise from the potential for Barbados to serve as an intermediary for investment into Cuba.  In this regard, the DTA and BIT with Cuba offer advantages, especially if Cuba will respect the provisions of these treaties.

Barbados can take advantage of the fact that it is one of a few countries that has a double tax and bilateral investment treaty with Cuba, under which foreign investors can invest on an advantageous basis.  However, unless Barbados can successfully assert competent authority provisions for Canadians and others using the tax treaty when Cuba does not comply with the treaty provisions, the advantage will be one on paper only.  To that end, the Barbados government and its private sector will need to work with civil society advocates to educate the Cuban government about the benefits of adhering to the provisions of its treaty network, especially with a longtime friend such as Barbados.

Given Cuba’s size and its success in education, health care, and culture, Barbados can strengthen its offerings in all these spheres by embarking on exchanges and joint ventures.  Barbados can do this in the context of the Cuba-CARICOM Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement and the Cuba-CARICOM summit, and by proposing initiatives bilaterally.  Because of the control exercised by the Cuban government of its economy, the Barbados government is a critical actor.

Moreover, the Barbados government and private sector, including its academic institutions, professional organizations and non-profits, in collaboration with other CARICOM organizations, will want to develop connections with the parts of the U.S. community which will look to expand their presence in Cuba, as well as with the Cuban government and private sector, so it can help develop meaningful relationships.  Some civil society groups in the U.S. have been active in Cuba.  These tend to be small and medium-size philanthropies.  In addition, U.S. firms investing and/or exporting to Cuba are likely to be exporting construction and telecommunications equipment, as well as agricultural products and financial services.  It should be noted that Barbados is not the only CARICOM country or even the main one that will try to serve as an intermediary conduit for U.S. investors to Cuba.  Already Jamaica is making a push to do this work.

The Barbados government and Barbados non-profits and academic community should propose and pursue projects that address the mutual interests of both countries and others, such as the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Russia, China, and international organizations.  Such projects should include environmental protection programs, artistic and cultural exchanges, programs to combat drug trafficking and human trafficking, humanitarian relief in Haiti, responding to the Ebola plague, new ways to generate energy, supporting cooperatives and other structures to achieve economic development, and fostering education and understanding among peoples.

Already, the slow opening of the Cuban economy has resulted in internal calls, both from state enterprises and private businesses, to expand international exchange, liberalize domestic regulations, and reform the currency regime.  These forces for internal change will multiply as trade, investment and tourism expand, business and civil society organizations become active, and ideas flow more freely. They will also change the dynamics of Cuba and inter-American relations.

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WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF TAKING CUBA OFF THE STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM LIST?

The Huffington Post,  April 27, 2015

Arturo Lopez Levy

Original here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arturo-lopez-levy/what-are-the-consequences_1_b_7144090.html

The April 14th decision to remove Cuba off the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list is the most important, concrete step towards normalization of diplomatic relations with Havana taken by the U.S. government since the Carter Administration. It has both tangible and intangible implications of historical importance to Cuba’s relations with the U.S and its triangular relations with other major international actors.

First, if Cuba is not a terrorist threat, it is difficult to say that it is a threat to the U.S. at all given the asymmetry of power between the two states, and Cuba’s renunciation of nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying the Tlatelolco and nuclear non-proliferation treaties in the late 90s.

Second, it clarifies Cuba in America’s official narrative not as a security threat but a country in transition, which is more in line both with Cuba’s own self-image and how Latin American and European countries see it. Such a description undermines any rationality for the embargo and lends itself to a U.S. policy that emphasizes engagement and people to people contacts.

Third, it enables Obama to stop applying the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917 to Cuba, the law on which much of the executive branch’s sanctions regime, including limits on American citizens’ right to travel, is based. If next September the president decides not to renew his authority to impose sanctions to Cuba under this law, citizens could challenge in court the prohibition to travel and succeed.

Fourth, it reduces Cuban state’s liability for individual claims in U.S. courts for acts that occurred under Cuba’s jurisdiction; cases that have already cost the island’s frozen accounts in U.S. banks millions of dollars. Taking Cuba off the list of terrorist nations would help an eventual settlement of claims between Cuba and USA, as part of a normalization process.

Fifth, so long as Cuba was falsely designated on the terror list, it would not have agreed to opening embassies. Now the road to embassies in both capitals is open. Similarly, Cuba off the list lessens the regulatory risks and enforcement threats used by the U.S. government to pressure banks not to deal with Cuba, giving the nation greater latitude in gaining finance and benefitting from two-way trade.

Sixth, it encourages other countries to foster closer ties with Cuba, as it eliminates the drama involved in having commercial relations with a country designated a sponsor of terrorism by Washington. This will be especially meaningful for the European Union, which is also reviewing its policy towards Cuba, which has always resisted the extraterritoriality of U.S. sanctions on its companies.

Seven: taking Cuba off the list means countries can take the State Department list, a U.S. national security tool, more seriously. Cuba’s inclusion on the list was seen on the island as an insulting lie. Removing this unnecessary barb, that has prevented bilateral relations, will build confidence for more flexible Cuban nationalist positions. The gratuitous inclusion on the list has harmed U.S. soft power, in many sectors of Cuban and Latin American civil society. In Cuba, ending such charade became a nationalist cause. One statement that most hurt Yoani Sánchez, opposition blogger, was her insistence on keeping Cuba on the list of terrorist countries because according to her: “The Castros have not put their guns away.”

Another important element is the effect that taking Cuba off the list will have on American and Latin American perceptions of the power held by pro-embargo Cuban Americans. The legal procedure for removing Cuba from the list dubs them the losers from the start. The president simply gives Congress 45 days advance notice of his intention to remove Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Obama requires the advice of Congress, not its consent.  The president knows how to count and he realized the pro-embargo legislators don’t have the votes to pass a bill or a joint resolution immune from a presidential veto.

In conclusion, President Obama prevails. Legislators can comment, write letters to the president and reflect on Obama’s decision. Thus, opponents such as Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Robert Menendez are stuck in the role of the chorus in Greek tragedies: shouting, screaming and crying but not playing a substantial role. Cuba will be off the State Department list of States Sponsors of terrorism. A major roadblock to the rapprochement track between Cuba and the United States has been removed

 

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CUBA’S BLACK MARKET THRIVES

[Apologies: I lost this somewhere in the computer last autumn! AR]

Havana (AFP) Carlos Batista, October 17 2014

Original here: Cuba’s black market thrives

ca536627f7ec7ad1d8f6a66bb6b8a8857cee4e2dFrom foreign DVDs to perfume, rum and coffee, Cuba’s shelves are packed with pirated and counterfeit goods, which are sold as authorities turn a blind eye — using the longstanding US embargo as justification.

The more than 50-year US trade freeze with communist-ruled Havana has bred a healthy appetite for smuggled goods, including TV series, films, music and software — all available at a low cost.

“Here, everything costs one CUC,” the Cuban convertible peso equivalent to one US dollar, explains 28-year-old vendor Jorge, standing before three bookcases packed with CDs and DVDs.

In southern Havana’s October 10 neighbourhood, where Jorge peddles his wares, pirated DVDs featuring current American blockbuster films, children’s movies and Latin music are all on sale to delighted crowds. For Jorge, the cost of doing business is affordable. For 60 Cuban pesos ($A2.59) a month, he can buy a vendor’s licence to sell his goods.

He is one of half a million Cubans who work in the 200 or so independent jobs authorised under President Raul Castro’s economic reforms. Though buying and selling pirated goods is technically illegal in Cuba, the trade is widely known and mostly tolerated, even by the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution officers who rarely punish vendors.

“I pay for my licence on time and no one interferes with my work,” said Jorge, who declined to give his full name.

Like many other merchants, Jorge’s stock extends far beyond entertainment DVDs. He also sells “packages,” which feature hundreds of megabytes of data obtained weekly from overseas sources.

The bundles include television series, sports programs, films, anti-virus software and up-to-date listings from the banned classified sites “Revolico” and “Porlalivre”. The online classified listings, which are officially banned in Cuba, offer interested buyers anything from air conditioners to black market tyres, and even empty perfume bottles to be secretly refilled in off-the-grid factories.

With the help of complicit employees, some of the black market fragrances and other items even find their way to the shelves of government-owned stores.

Every so often, the heavily-censored state-run media report on police busting illegal rings producing fake perfume, rum, beer, coffee or toiletries — items rarely found in supermarket aisles — but authorities mostly ignore the contraband sales.

Authorities struggle to contain this Cuban “tradition,” which emerged during the dark days of severe shortages in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of Cuba’s staunchest Cold War-era allies.

“The new situation in the 1990s was so sudden, so violent, so unexpected… that people started, with the only means they had, to find ways to fulfill their needs,” said sociologist Mayra Espina in the online newspaper Cuba Contemporanea.

“Certain activities, previously deemed unacceptable or socially negative, started to become legitimate.”

This time of shortages bred a social phenomenon called “la lucha,” or “the struggle,” which has seen Cubans do whatever is necessary to tackle the island nation’s social and economic malaise, Espina said.

Pirated programs have also crept into the state’s sphere, with public media and government-owned cinemas running illegally-obtained shows and films. Some television networks lacking their own means to produce original programming have “resorted for years to carrying shows from American channels without paying for the rights,” Cuban TV director Juan Pin Vilar told AFP.

Indeed, this is one of the fringe benefits of the US embargo — the Cuban TV channels and cinemas could act with virtual impunity, as legal repercussions were unlikely.

“There is a kind of tactical willingness (in the US) not to bother Cuba because culture… is a very effective means of communication,” said Jorge de Armas, a member of a group of Cuban exiles calling for a rapprochement with Washington.

But the flip side, according to Vilar, is that certain stations in Miami — home to most of the Cuban diaspora — air Cuban programs to satisfy their viewers, nostalgic for home. On Miami’s “Calle Ocho,” or 8th Street, in the heart of Little Havana, the Maraka shop sells pirated music, films and television programs brought in from Cuba.

On the other side of the Florida Straits, the international Cuban television network Cubavision offers its signal to satellite suppliers around the world. The idea, said one Cubavision executive, is “to spread our image”.

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MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN CUBA: FINE, AS LONG AS WE WIN

BUT  THE LOSERS ALSO HAVE SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE

The Economist, Apr 25th 2015

Original here: FINE, AS LONG AS WE WIN

1429453584_150419045159spcubaelecciones624x351reutersTHE most interesting thing about Cuba’s municipal elections on April 19th was not who won. It was who lost, and who did not even turn up.

Four months after a historic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, for the first time two openly declared dissidents made it onto the ballot among more than 27,000 candidates competing for 12,589 municipal posts around the country. Predictably, they were defeated. But their participation was an unusually open act of defiance, not just by the two men but also by ordinary citizens who proposed them in a show of hands before the elections.

What is more, the turnout on voting day fell by almost six percentage points compared with the previous poll in 2012, to about 88%. Some claimed rising absenteeism was a crack in monolithic support for the Communist Party.

The opposition candidates, Hildebrando Chaviano, a lawyer and journalist, and Yuniel López, a member of the unauthorised Independent and Democratic Cuba party, were labelled as “counter-revolutionaries” in official publicity. On his party’s website, Mr López claims that voters were pressured not to vote for him. Yet both candidates quickly conceded defeat. “The vote was clean. The people don’t want change. They still want revolution,” Mr Chaviano said.

The elections have an air of futility about them. The winning candidates are rewarded with a thankless job. They face a barrage of complaints from residents about crumbling housing and poor public services, without having the power or money to do much about them. But voters know that if they do not show up, it is likely to count against them—in university applications, for instance.

All the same, many did not. Alina Balseiro, head of Cuba’s National Electoral Commission, said the drop in turnout reflected the absence of tens of thousands of Cubans who had gone abroad as a result of Cuba’s relaxation of travel restrictions. But Yoani Sánchez, a dissident Cuban blogger, said that 1.7m potential voters did not appear, or they cast void or defaced ballots. This “demonstrated that support for the government is not as unanimous as it claims.”

Such dissidence comes at a delicate time for Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president. In September huge crowds will gather for the visit of Pope Francis, whose office helped arrange the thaw in relations with the United States. This could further heighten expectations of change.

Yet the Castro government may also feel that elections can be a useful outlet—so long as the ruling party continues to win. Eusebio Mujal-Leon, of Georgetown University in Washington, says it may be learning a warped version of democracy from its socialist ally in Venezuela, convincing itself that it can remain an autocracy while using elections to stay in power. The road ahead for Cuba’s nascent opposition is not an easy one.

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TIME: FIVE FACTS EXPLAINING THE ECONOMIC UPSIDES OF AN OPENED CUBA

Ian Bremmer,  April 20 2015

Original here: The Caribbean country could be the next frontier of global business

Taking Cuba off the list of nations that sponsor terrorism is the latest development that will attract foreign companies to the island. So who wants in? These five stats explain which industries present the most opportunities as Cuba opens for business.

1. Remittances

One of the immediate benefits of renewed relations with Cuba is the increase in permitted remittance flows. The most recent figures put annual cash remittances to Cuba at approximately $5.1 billion, a level greater than the four fastest growing sectors of the Cuban economy combined. Now, permitted remittance levels from the U.S. will be raised fourfold, from $2,000 to $8,000 per year. This will help drive an increase in spending power in Cuba, which is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.6% through this decade. For global companies seeking a foothold anywhere they can, more money in the pockets of Cubans means more fuel for expansion. Take Coca-Cola. With an open Cuba, Coke could be legally be sold in every country in the world save one: North Korea.

2. A lot more visitors

Just 110 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba should be a natural magnet for American travelers. Despite needing to meet special criteria to receive a visa from the State Department—allowable categories include educational and journalistic activities—170,000 Americans visited the country last year. As the restrictions slacken, the sky is literally the limit. JetBlue already charters flights to Cuba from the U.S., but the budget airline wants to start running regular commercial flights. American Airlines Group now flies to Cuba 20 times per week, a 33% increase in flights compared to just a year ago. More flights—and more competition—will make airfare more affordable, driving additional tourist traffic.

Cuba Mar 2014 011April 2014: the Capitolio, under renovation, to be the new home of the National Assembly; the Centro Gallego (old community center for Cubans of Galician origin), being restored to its former glory; a hop-on hop-off Tour bus; 1950s American automotive beauties and a Russian Lada.

Missing from this photo: a Chinese Geely, currently taking over Cuba’s automotive market. 

3. Communication breakthroughs

Only one in ten Cubans regularly use mobile phones and only one in twenty have uncensored access to the Internet. Even state-restricted Internet penetration currently stands at just 23.2%. The telecom infrastructure is so underdeveloped that an hour of regulated Internet connectivity can cost up to 20% of the average Cuban’s monthly salary. There’s serious demand for the major infrastructure investments needed to improve these numbers. Some start-ups are making waves in spite of shoddy internet. Airbnb, a website that lets people rent out lodging, announced that it has started booking rooms in Cuba with over 1,000 hosts. It gets around the lack of Internet by teaming with middlemen who have long worked to link tourists with bed and breakfasts.

4. A cure for Cuba

Cuba has the third highest number of physicians per capita, behind only Monaco and Qatar. They’re even used as an export: Venezuela pays $5.5 billion a year for the almost 40,000 Cuban medical professionals who now make up half of its health-care personnel. Cuban doctors lack access to most American pharmaceutical products and, importantly, to third-generation antibiotics. For its part, Cuba’s surprisingly robust biotech industry makes a number of vaccines not currently available in the U.S. With the normalization of relations, Cuba can look to fully capitalize on its medical strengths.

5. Foreign investment

Cuba currently attracts around $500 million in foreign direct investment (FDI)—good for just 1% of GDP. Given its tumultuous political history and underdeveloped economy, it is difficult to accurately predict how quickly investors will flock once the embargo has been lifted. But a good comparison might be the Dominican Republic, another Caribbean nation with roughly the same size population as Cuba. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that Cuba could potentially attract as much foreign capital as the Dominican Republic, which currently receives $17 billion in FDI ($2 billion from the U.S). But this won’t happen overnight—in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, Cuba ranks 177th out of 178, ahead only of North Korea.

 

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CUBA SLOWLY BEGINS TO REJOIN THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM

By Mimi Whitefield, Miami herald, April 19, 2015

Original Article here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article18915939.html#emlnl=The_Americas

CAF-Development Bank of Latin America plans a small overture toward Cuba later this month that could be a stepping stone toward the island rejoining the international financial community.

CAF — whose members include 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries, Spain and Portugal and 14 private banks in the region — is planning a conference with the University of Havana to explore economic development in Latin America and Cuba.

While the April 28-29 conference is an “intellectual” rapprochement, Enrique García, the executive president of CAF, said that while in Havana, he also plans to explore the possibility of Cuba becoming a member of the only multilateral bank owned by emerging nations.

CAF’s interest, García said, is improving the quality of life for the Cuban people. The overture responds more to a long-standing desire by Caracas-based CAF to bring Cuba back into the hemispheric fold than to the new U.S.-Cuba policy and President Barack Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, García said. But he added: “The new U.S.-Cuba relationship obviously facilitates the opportunity to do things. We are very pleased to see the way the situation is turning out. It’s very positive for Cuba, for hemispheric relations.”

FacahadaCAF-2012Caracas-based CAF – Development Bank of Latin America

Unlike other regional financial institutions such as the InterAmerican Development Bank, membership in CAF doesn’t require that a member country also belong to the Organization of American States. Although Cuba was one of the founding members of the OAS, it was suspended for nearly five decades after the organization found Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist government incompatible with OAS principles.

The OAS lifted that suspension in 2009 on the condition that Cuba take part in a “process of dialogue” on OAS principles. But that dialogue never took place and so far Cuba has said no thanks.

For decades, Cuban officials criticized the OAS as a tool of the U.S. government and said the organization would “end up in the garbage dump of history.” But that was before the United States and Cuba began the process of renewing diplomatic relations. “My feeling, however, is that Cuba will not return yet to the OAS,” said José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the OAS. “It’s going to wait for some time. I think the issue of the U.S. continues to be very relevant for them. They want to have normal relations with the U.S. first.

“Second, it’s been so many years that probably they would prefer to go to other institutions of the inter-American system,” Insulza said. “The political step will be taken later. After telling your people for 54 years that the OAS is the worst thing in the world, you just don’t come and sit down without explaining.”

Things are percolating on other fronts too as Cuba tries to shore up its troubled finances and rejoin the global economy. In early March, for example, Paris Club Chairman Bruno Bezard met with Cuban finance officials in Havana. Cuba stopped servicing its debt with the Paris Club, a grouping of 20 industrialized nations, in 1987.

The two sides began talking about a year ago after previous Paris Club negotiations in 2000 broke down. “We have moved very quickly. There is plenty of will on the Cuban side and the side of the creditors to begin this work,” Bezard said at a news conference in Havana. During the talks, how much debt and interest are owed to each Paris Club creditor was discussed. France is currently the largest of 15 Cuba creditors.

Bezard, also director general of the French treasury, recently told AFP that in a matter of months, debt negotiations with Cuba might begin over the approximately $15 billion it owes Paris Club members.

In recent years Russia, Japan, China and Mexico have forgiven a portion of Cuba’s debt and given Havana more manageable repayment terms.

García said that CAF has been exploring the possibility of Cuban membership “for quite some time. The question is when and how and also to be pragmatic. Obviously we have to analyze membership very carefully.”

Cuba’s admission to other international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, however, is much more problematic. Not only does the Helms-Burton Act require the United States to oppose Cuban admission to such international institutions but it also requires the United States to reduce its funding to them if Cuba is admitted over U.S. objections.  But the United States isn’t a CAF member.

García said if Cuba were to join the development bank, the goal “at this stage” would be to provide technical assistance to Cuba rather than loans. In CAF’s 45-year history, García pointed out, it has never had a default.

If Cuba were interested, CAF might, for example, provide technical support as Cuba tries to unify its dual currency system, he said.

Now the focus is on the international seminar, “Opportunities and Challenges for Economic Development in Latin America and Cuba,” that will bring about 150 people together later this month. Among those who have been invited are Enrique Iglesias. former president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We’ll discuss how we approach development issues — how we see the world and how they see things,” García said. “It’s important to engage.”

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Ted Henken: EIGHT QUICK TAKEAWAYS ON FUTURE OF US-CUBA RELATIONS FROM THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

2015-04-11t201325z_1868389586_gf10000056251_rtrmadp_3_panama-usa-summit_x1x_jpg_1718483346Ted Henken has some quick and cogent comments on the Cuba US Mdeetings at the OAS Summit of April 2015. They are presented below.

The original is on Prof. Henken’s Blog here: QUICK TAKEAWAYS ON FUTURE OF US-CUBA RELATIONS
Sunday, April 12, 2015

 1. Embarrassing lack of tolerance and “civility” on part of Cuba’s official civil society delegation (major contrast with Raul Castro’s warm and respectful approach to Obama). Failed the test of tolerance but will have to learn as the days of the exclusive, official “Cuban delegation” representing the island at international events are over since the migration reform of 2013. Question: Cuba can open up to the US (and vice versa) but can it open up to ITSELF – listen to the diverse and often dissenting views and organizations of its emergent civil society?

2. Surprising personal regard Raul Castro expressed for Obama as “an honest man” who has “no responsibility for past US policy” – I loved when Raul admitted he had cut that part from his speech, then put it back, then cut it, & finally decided to include it and was “satisfied” with his decision. History is made in the details.

3. Obama’s clear understanding of the key role of civil society and public support for Cuban civil society – expressed both in his terrific speech at the civil society forum and by meeting with Manuel Cuesta Morua & Laritza Diversent. Obama later stressed that these two leading Cuban dissidents support his “empowerment through engagement” policy.

4. Obama-Castro historic handshakes, joint press conference, & private meeting – “agree to disagree,” “work together where we can with respect and civility,” “everything on the table based on mutual respect,” “patience x 2!” – Obama looking forward and not trapped by ideology or interested in re fighting Cold War battles that started before he was born (but appreciates lessons of history); Raul still passionate (and long-winded) about past US wrongs but admits that can disagree today but “we could agree tomorrow.”

5. Obama’s unequivocal clarification that “On Cuba, we are not in the business of regime change; we are in the business of making sure the Cuban people have freedom and the ability to shape their own destiny,” stressing that “Cuba is not a threat to the United States.”

6. Maduro/Venezuela issue did not steal the show as some had feared (or hoped); Maduro did not get support for his condemnation of US sanctions and even had to endure some countries expressed concern for his own jailing of dissidents.

7. Shift in the region away from ideology toward economic pragmatism fueled in part by China slow-down, Russia nose-dive, & Venezuela implosion. US ready to step in with strategic economic engagement and oil diplomacy – especially to Caribbean Basin (H/T to Andrés Oppenheimer).

8. Also, various economically and diplomatically powerful Latin American nations have big domestic corruption scandals (Brazil, Argentina, Chile) or violence and security issues (Mexico, Central America) that make them wary of any confrontation with the US

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Ted Henken

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Washington Post: NEW POLL ON CUBAN CITIZENS’ VIEWS ON NORMALIZATION, THE POLITICAL SYSTEM, THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM, THE LEADERSHIP AND MORE

Washington Post, April 8, 2015

By Joshua Partlow and Peyton M. Craighill

Original article here: NEW POLL ON CUBAN CITIZENS’ VIEWS

FULL RESULTS FROM THE CUBA POLL 

MEXICO CITY — The vast majority of Cubans welcome warmer relations with the United States, holding high expectations that closer ties pledged by the two countries will shake up the island’s troubled economy, according to a new survey of Cuban citizens. But they are doubtful that the diplomatic detente will bring political reforms to their Communist country.

The poll of residents on the island shows a people unhappy with the political system, eager to end the U.S. embargo and disenchanted with their state-run economy. More than half of Cubans say they would like to leave the country for good if they had the chance.

The survey, conducted in March through 1,200 in-person interviews by the Miami-based Bendixen and Amandi International research firm on behalf of the networks Univision Noticias and Fusion, is reported in collaboration with The Washington Post.

New Picture (12) New Picture (13) New Picture (14) New Picture (15) New Picture (16)

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