Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Russia’s Ambitious Energy Diplomacy in Latin America

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to build alliances to counter Western influence, signed several energy deals in Latin America this past week.

The first stop on Putin’s six-day tour was Havana on July 11, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro. The two sides reached an agreement that could see Russia exploring for oil in Caribbean waters, which would build up Cuba’s offshore oil industry. Putin also decided to wipe away 90 percent of the $32 billion worth of debt Cuba owes Russia, most of it dating back to the Soviet era.

The agreement was no doubt motivated by Putin’s desire to push back against what he views as U.S. meddling in Ukraine. Exploring for oil only a few dozen miles from the U.S. coast is a finger in Uncle Sam’s eye. “We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal blockade of Cuba,” Putin said on July ... Read More

Vladimir Putin y Raúl Castro destapan base de la Guerra fría, en La Habana

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

POR JUAN O. TAMAYO

Un reporte de que Rusia reabrirá una base en La Habana que espiaba las comunicaciones de Estados Unidos desde Cayo Hueso hasta Washington ha provocado nuevas advertencias contra el expansionismo de Moscú y predicciones de una continuada frialdad en las relaciones EEUU-Cuba.

Hasta su clausura en el 2002, la base de Lourdes fue el mayor centro de inteligencia de Moscú en el extranjero, con más de 1,500 agentes de la KGB y de la inteligencia militar GRU manipulando una serie de antenas y computadoras en la base supersecreta de 28 millas cuadradas.

“Si el reporte es cierto, no hay duda de que Washington pondrá en pausa el mejoramiento de las relaciones con Cuba”, dijo Andy Gómez, especialista retirado sobre Cuba de la Universidad de Miami y ahora asesor político del bufete legal Poblete Tamargo de Washington.

Alvaro Alba, experto en Rusia, dijo que la reapertura de Lourdes subrayaría las ambiciones ... Read More

Russia ‘agrees to reopen Cuba spy base’

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Moscow (AFP) – Russia has provisionally agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on the United States, a Russian daily reported Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin visited the island last week.

Kommersant reported that Russia and Cuba had agreed “in principle” to reopen the Lourdes base, mothballed since 2001, citing several sources within Russian authorities.

“The agreements were finalised while President Vladimir Putin visited Havana last Friday,” the respected daily wrote.

Russia had closed the Lourdes spy base south of Havana on Putin’s orders to save money and due to a rapprochement with the United States after the September 11 attacks.

But Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis ... Read More

China’s Shaky Latin American Liabilities

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest

By Matt Ferchen

China may have been a no-show for the 2014 World Cup, but at next weeks’ 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping. While the summit is likely to result in important announcements such as a Shanghai-based BRICS Bank, the rest of Xi’s Latin America visit, which will include stops in Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina, is bound to attract even more headlines.

Pundits inside and outside of China will either trumpet or decry the trip as a grand tour of China’s Latin American socialist and statist friends and a slap in the face to the United States. However, no matter how much socialist solidarity and “South-South” diplomatic back-slapping is offered up for public consumption, President Xi’s trip will actually be less about deepening already healthy ties with strong regional allies than seeking to mitigate deep anxieties about its commercial and diplomatic relations with dysfunctional friends.

In contrast ... Read More

Chinese President leaves for Latin America

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Xinhuanet

BEIJING, July 13 – Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Sunday morning for statevisits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

Xi will visit the four countries at the invitation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff,Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba.

Xi will attend the sixth BRICS Summit and the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Brazil.

Xi’s entourage includes Wang Huning, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Policy Research Office of theCPC Central Committee; Li Zhanshu, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC CentralCommittee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and director of theGeneral Office of the CPC Central Committee and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

Click here for original article.

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Putin Meets With Fidel Castro During Latin American Visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

HAVANA (AP) –  Russian President Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region with a stop Friday in Cuba, a key Soviet ally during the Cold War that has backed Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The two countries signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island’s north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits, Cuban government website Cubadebate said.

Another agreement covered infrastructure at a big new port project that Cuba hopes will become a regional shipping center and attract much-needed foreign investment.

“We are talking about the possibility of creating in Cuba a grand transportation hub with a possible modernization of the maritime port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport with its ... Read More

Cuba cracks down, arrests 100 women dissidents

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
msn

Cuban authorities arrested an unusually large group of about 100 dissident marchers Sunday, breaking up a march by the Ladies in White opposition activists.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!,” the women offered no resistance as they were put on buses by dozens of police and plainclothes agents of the only communist-ruled country in the Americas.

A group of about 100 government supporters, who arrived along with the authorities at the scene in Havana’s Miramar district, angrily shouted “Viva Fidel, Viva Raul” as the women were whisked away.

The women’s group, formed in 2003 by wives and relatives of political prisoners, marches with the government’s permission every Sunday in the Cuban capital after hearing mass at Santa Rita parish church.

Since theirs is the only group that has government permission for a regular protest, arrests are few and infrequent.

But on Sunday, dozens of police moved in and surrounded the large crowd of marchers two blocks from ... Read More

Strengthening of Russia-Cuba relations to be priority of Putin’s visit to Cuba

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Itar Tass

MOSCOW, July 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Strengthening of trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Cuba will be in the focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has said.

Putin’s agenda for the visit to Cuba

Putin will arrive in Havana on Friday, July 11. He will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Putin’s informal talk with 87-year-old Fidel Castro will open his visit. “Fidel Castro did not take any state or party posts. But he is leader of the Cuban Revolution and observes the development of the situation in the world,” Ushakov said adding that the conversation might be very interesting.

During the talks with Raul Castro, it is planned to touch upon a wide range of issues, including the implementation of agreements reached during previous visits, as well as to determine the priorities for further development of bilateral ... Read More

Cuba prosecutes Canadian after he denounced corruption – company

| July 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA, July 7 (Reuters) – Cuba has prosecuted and is likely to send Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian to prison after he denounced corruption in the Havana government’s awarding of contracts, his company said on Monday.

“Cy Tokmakjian spoke out against corruption as it was clear the company was losing contracts to others for unexplained reasons. It’s possible this outspokenness led to what is now happening,” Lee Hacker, vice president of finance for the company, said in a statement on Monday.

Tokmakjian and two other Canadian citizens from his transportation company, the Tokmakjian Group, which has done business in Cuba for 22 years, stood trial on charges of bribery and other economic crimes in June.

A verdict and sentencing in the closely watched case are expected soon.

Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison term for Tokmakjian and 12 years each for his managers, fellow Canadians Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche. All three ... Read More

Sen. Robert Menendez seeks probe of alleged Cuban plot to smear him

| July 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Carol D. Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia

Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter sent to Justice Department officials, the senator’s attorney asserts that the plot was timed to derail the ­political rise of Menendez (D-N.J.), one of Washington’s most ardent critics of the Castro regime. At the time, Menendez was running for reelection and was preparing to assume the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

According to a former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the CIA had obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and to efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media.

The alleged Cuba connection was laid out in an intelligence ... Read More

Putin to visit Cuba and other LatAm nations

| July 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

President Vladimir Putin will next week begin a major Latin America tour that will take him to Cuba, Argentina and Brazil as he seeks to counter Russia’s growing international isolation over the Ukraine crisis.

Putin will begin his six-day tour with the July 11 visit to Cuba, the Kremlin said on Friday, where he will meet President Raul Castro and the 87-year-old father of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

The visit to the Communist-run island will come as tensions remain high between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis. Havana has sided with its old ally Russia in the conflict.

Putin and his Cuban hosts are expected to discuss cooperation in energy, transport, aviation, space and health, the Kremlin said.

He will then travel to Argentina for trade and energy talks with President Cristina Kirchner, before moving on to a summit of the BRICS group of developing countries in Brazil.

The highlight of the ... Read More

Economy stalled, Cuba resists speedier path to free enterprise

| July 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban President Raul Castro told parliament on Saturday the communist country’s market-oriented reforms must remain gradual, a clear signal he would resist calls to accelerate change in order to address an underperforming economy.

He also praised Cubans for “defeating imperialism” by resisting U.S. aggression ever since the 1959 Cuban revolution.

Since taking over for his ailing older brother Fidel in 2008, Raul Castro, 83, has enacted widespread reforms such as turning state enterprises into private cooperatives, freeing Cubans to work in small private businesses, and reducing the role of the state in everyday life.

The reforms have raised expectations for improvements in the economy while also generating debate within the ruling Communist Party about how much more free enterprise should be allowed.

Castro said the pace of reforms would remain deliberate.

“The gradual nature of a series of activities that we are approving is indispensable,” Castro told 548 members of ... Read More

French bank handled $1.7 billion in illegal business with Cuba

| July 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

The largest bank in France, BNP Paribas, disguised $1.75 billion in illegal transactions with Cuban entities as part of a long string of violations of U.S. sanctions that brought it a record $8.9 billion in forfeitures and fines, according to U.S. prosecutors.

A prosecution document on the case said BNP already has corrected its ways, “including terminating all business and prohibiting new business in any currency with sanctioned entities” in Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

It was not clear how the case would impact Cuba, already restricted by the U.S. embargo and U.S. laws and regulations on money laundering and terrorism financing. BNP shuttered its Havana office last year, after it came under U.S. investigation.

“This is a very important bank, but it doesn’t mean other banks won’t be able to do transactions,” said Luis F. Luis, a former chief economist at the Organization of American States who follows Cuban banking.

The ... Read More

Sharing the Pain: A Cuban and a Venezuelan Compare Notes

| July 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

BY DANIEL LANSBERG-RODRIGUEZ

I first met Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s most famous blogger (and occasional FP contributor), at an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. When I mentioned that I write for a Venezuelan newspaper, she smiled: “I never quite know what to say to Venezuelans. We’re like two hospital patients, suffering the same affliction, who pass in the hospital corridor and feel compelled to compare symptoms.” With this in mind, we agreed to meet a few days later and do just that.

Yoani is just one member of a budding generation of independent Cuban opinion-makers and media — but she has undeniably become that movement’s most visible figure in the eyes of the international community. From her Havana home, which like most Cuban domiciles lacks Internet access (she relies on pen drives a great deal), the 38-year-old has been instrumental in introducing the world to an “unofficial” Cuba. Her efforts have garnered ... Read More

Can the U.S. Force Cuba to Reform? Not a Chance.

| June 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

In an article published last week on Foreign Policy, Christopher Sabatini called for elevating the tone of the debate on U.S.-Cuba relations by dispensing with what he characterized as shouting and name-calling. If that is the case, it is not quite clear how referring to supporters of the U.S. embargo as “rabid,” and as the mirror image of the despots in Havana, contributes to his idea of “reasoned political discussion.”

Be that as it may, Sabatini writes that not every critic of U.S. policy is a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. That is certainly true. There is no shortage of people of good will, frustrated by the ungodly conditions forced upon the Cuban people by the Castro regime, who argue for changes in U.S. policy to ostensibly help the Cuban people improve their lot in the face of oppressive state control.

Specifically, Sabatini argues that targeted economic engagement towards Cuba’s nascent micro-entrepreneurs “might create ... Read More

Over 40 pro-democracy activists detained in Cuba

| June 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
UPI

BY ED ADAMCZYK

Over 40 pro-democracy activists, including four leaders of the movement, were detained by police in Cuba in a crackdown on dissidents.

Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, in Havana, described the action Wednesday as “short-term, arbitrary detentions for political motives.”

Although most detainees were released later in the day, the scope of the police action suggested the Cuban government is turning to tougher and more violent means of repression.

A journalist, Roberto de Jesus Guerra, claimed a Cuban State Security plainclothes agent attacked him as he walked to the Czech embassy in Havana to use its Internet connection. He later said in an interview, “I am going to the doctor now and later to the police to file a complaint, although they never do anything because they are the ones beating us.”

Prominent dissidents Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez, and his wife, Yris Pérez Aguilera, were taken from their home in Placetas. ... Read More

Shipping Company Charged For Cuba-To-North-Korea Weapons Intercepted By Panama

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

SINGAPORE (AP) –  Singapore filed criminal charges Tuesday against a shipping company implicated in a shipment of weapons to North Korea that was seized by Panamanian authorities last year.

Locally registered Chinpo Shipping Company Ltd. was charged with transferring $72,000 to a Panama shipping agent knowing that the funds could be used to contribute to the “nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities” of North Korea. A Chinpo executive, Tan Hui Tin, was also charged for withholding potential electronic evidence.

The charges stem from an incident that unfolded during the second half of 2013. In July, Panama seized a ship, the Chong Chon Gang, in the Panama Canal which was headed from Cuba to North Korea. Panamanian authorities suspected that it was transporting drugs, but when they searched the vessel they found two Cuban fighter jets, missiles and live munitions hidden in a cargo of sugar.

After the seizure, Cuba ... Read More

Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013 still not back to pre-global-crisis levels

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield

A study released Tuesday shows that the money sent home by migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean reached $61.3 billion last year, with three-quarters of those remittances coming from the United States.

The report by the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, found that remittances to the Caribbean and Central America increased, but money flows to Mexico, which received $21.6 billion in remittances, and South America were down.

Overall, remittances — considered an economic lifeline for many families in the region — still haven’t recovered to the levels before the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Remittances reached a high of $64.9 billion in 2008 before plummeting by more than 10 percent the next year.

Remittances began to grow again in 2011 but have remained fairly flat since then. There was virtually no growth between 2012 and 2013

The strengthening of the economies of European nations and the ... Read More

¿Cuba ofrece oportunidades a empresas estadounidenses?

| June 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Inter-American Dialogue

Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin American Advisor

Preguntas y Respuestas Destacadas

Pregunta:

El presidente de la Cámara de Comercio de EE.UU., Thomas Donohue, encabezó una delegación a finales de mayo durante una visita a Cuba para evaluar los cambios económicos bajo el régimen de Raúl Castro. Esta fue la primera visita de la cámara a la isla comunista desde 1999. El viaje fue criticado por legisladores, incluyendo a el presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores, senador Robert Menéndez (demócrata por Nueva Jersey). El senador Menéndez comentó que  el encarcelamiento de líderes empresariales extranjeros, la violación de las normas internacionales de trabajo y la negación de derechos básicos a los ciudadanos “difícilmente parecen una oportunidad atractiva para cualquier hombre de negocios”. ¿Qué logró el viaje de Donahue? ¿Qué oportunidades ofrece Cuba para las empresas de los Estados Unidos? ¿Qué importancia y éxito han tenido las reformas económicas de Castro?

Respuesta de Roger Noriega, director ejecutivo de Vision ... Read More

Does Cuba Offer Opportunities for U.S. Businesses?

| June 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Inter-American Dialogue

Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin American Advisor

Featured Q&A

Does Cuba Offer Opportunities for U.S. Businesses?

Question:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Thomas Donohue led a delegation in late May to Cuba for a three-day visit to assess economic changes happening under President Raúl Castro. It was the chamber’s first visit to the communist island since 1999. The trip drew criticism from lawmakers including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) who said Cuba’s jailing of foreign business leaders, violation of international labor standards and denial of basic rights to citizens “hardly seem an attractive opportunity for any business leader.” What did Donahue’s trip accomplish? What opportunities does Cuba offer for U.S. businesses? How significant and successful have Castro’s economic reforms been?

Response from Roger Noriega, managing director of Vision Americas LLC, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs:

“Tragically, five decades of absolutist rule have demonstrated that there is very little ... Read More

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