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"New Chapter" in US-Cuba ties

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  • #76
    The Cuban revolution is old, very old. The Cuban missile crisis is old, too. All I know is that by excluding themselves from Cuba, the US has been excluding itself from one of the two cultural powerhouses of the Hispanic world (along with Brazil)- and to who's benefit? Quite some years ago now, over 100,000 people came to see Sylvio Rodriguez live in Buenos Aires, for example. Then of course, there are the missed business opportunities.

    This policy shift is long overdue, and the small minority of begrudgers are exactly that. Marginal, at best.
    Last edited by sabang; 04-02-2015, 10:29 PM.


    • #77
      Fidel Castro appears in public for first time in over a year

      Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public "full of vitality" for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a delegation of Venezuelans, official media reported on Saturday.

      Official media showed images of a seated Castro shaking hands with the visiting Venezuelans through the window of his vehicle, wearing a baseball cap and a windbreaker.

      Castro met at a school with 33 Venezuelans, who were on a solidarity mission to Cuba, for about 90 minutes.

      Castro impressed the Venezuelans with a firm, long handshake and a lucid mind, the Juventud Rebelde newspaper reported in a writer’s first-person account.

      Castro relayed "multiple details about life in Venezuela, especially now that this great nation has become the bull's eye for imperial greed," the report said, in apparent reference to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela that declared the South American nation a national security threat.

      Castro's last previous public sighting came on Jan. 8, 2014, at the opening of a Havana cultural center sponsored by one of his favorite Cuban artists, Alexis Leyva, alias Kcho.

      Fidel Castro stepped down due to illness provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008, handing off to his younger brother Raul, 83.
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • #78
        How about contributing more then just your puba circle jerk?


        • #79
          Poll shows vast majority of Cubans welcome closer ties with U.S.

          Neighbors in the poor neighborhood of Portuondo in Santiago sit by a mural that translates “Long Live the Revolution.” A poll conducted in March shows that a majority of Cubans are unhappy with the political system. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          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.

          [View full results from the Cuba poll]

          With its restricted press and limited Internet and phone access, getting an accurate sense of public opinion in Cuba can be difficult. Public surveys are very rare, as opinion research is strictly controlled by the Cuban government. Some, conducted surreptitiously, have been sponsored by anti-Castro organizations and have been viewed as biased. On the island, Cubans have an aversion to discussing politics: three-quarters of those surveyed in the Univision poll say they felt they need to be careful about expressing themselves. While some believe the Cuban government does privately conduct focus groups and surveys, there are not regular public polls.

          [Read: How do you survey Cubans under the Castro regime?]

          So the Univision poll provides a rare glimpse of Cuban opinion at a historic time given the changing relations with the United States. The survey was conducted without government authorization by local Cuban residents who were trained in survey interviewing. Thirty-nine percent of households where interviews were attempted completed the survey.

          After a half-century of hostilities, the Obama and Castro governments late last year announced their intention to normalize diplomatic relationsbetween the two countries. The sentiments expressed in the poll show that Cubans want to hasten that new future, particularly on the economic front. A near unanimous majority — 97 percent — say that a better relationship with the United States will benefit Cuba. Nearly the same percentage of Cubans say that the economic embargo should end.

          Americans also endorse the normalization of relations with Cuba. A December Washington Post-ABC News poll found nearly two-thirds in support of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. And there was higher support for ending the trade embargo and lifting travel restrictions.

          Since Raúl Castro took over as president from his brother in 2006, the Cuban economy has incrementally added dashes of free-market capitalism to the periphery of its government-run system. Cubans can buy and sell houses and operate some small businesses. More than half say an immediate family member owns a business, and 7 in 10 would like to start one. Many Cubans, particularly the younger generations, want more of these opportunities. Asked in their own words what Cuba needs most right now, the most common response at 48 percent is an improved economy.

          “My sense is Cubans are still very positive about the agreement,” said Geoff Thale, program director at the Washington Office on Latin America. The Cuban government, he said, faces the challenge that people’s expectations for change won’t be met quickly. “If you’re a Cuban living in central Havana, you won’t see improvements in your daily life for some time to come.”

          Men play a round of dominos in Camagey, the island’s third largest city. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          “Inevitably, the economic changes will open up political debate and I think there will be political relaxation and opening,” Thale said. But “no one expects a multi-party electoral system in the next three years.”

          The poll showed Cubans are eager for the benefits of increased foreign tourism and want more access to basic American products rather than luxury goods. More than 6 in 10 expect Cuba’s new relationship with the United States will change the economic system, and more than 9 in 10 want to end the trade embargo. If there were going to be more trade with the United States, among the top things people want are more supermarkets and pharmacies. When asked what they want to accomplish over the next five years, the most common response is traveling abroad, followed by opening a business and starting a savings account.

          The beautiful Capitol building in Havana Cuba is undergoing a major renovation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          American businesses have already started making moves in Cuba. Airbnb, the online home-rental service, has started allowing bookings in Cuba. Netflix started streaming its video offerings in Cuba. A New Jersey-based telecom company struck a deal with the Cuban government to offer long-distance calling on the island.

          Despite optimism for the future, the survey reveals deep national discontent. Fifty-five percent would like to leave the country, including more than two-thirds of Cubans younger than 35. Roughly half of those who would like to leave name the United States as their top destination, where almost 1 in five Cubans say they have relatives. Right after the Dec. 17 announcement of changing relations, U.S. officials noted a spike in Cubans leaving the island, apparently out of concern that U.S. immigration rules granting residency to any Cuban who makes it to the United States might be changed.

          Children line up before classes to sing the national anthem in the morning. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          A performer dances with a group of Japanese women he brought to Cuba to promote Cuban culture. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          Among the sources of dissatisfaction, Cubans report broad problems with the economic and political systems. Nearly eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the economic system, with one-third receiving money sent from family or friends abroad. Fifty-eight percent give negative ratings to Cuba’s Communist Party and 53 percent say they are dissatisfied with their political system, with half of this group saying it didn’t offer enough freedoms. While over 6 in 10 expect renewed U.S. relations to change the economic system, more than half expect the political system to remain the same. Cubans are far more upbeat about their nation’s education and health-care systems, with at least two-thirds saying they are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with each.

          Opinion is divided on President Raúl Castro: 47 percent report a positive opinion of him while 48 percent are negative. The numbers are slightly more negative for Fidel Castro, where 50 percent view him negatively, compared with 44 percent giving him a positive response. For Raúl, the responses are more positive among older Cubans.

          President Obama, meanwhile, seems to enjoy vast popularity in Cuba, according to the poll, with 80 percent giving him positive marks, on par with how Cubans feel about Pope Francis, who was a key advocate of normalization. While Obama gets high marks, views of the United States overall are more mixed. Just over half see the United States as a friend, a rating well below that of neighboring countries in Central and South America. Only 10 percent say the United States is not a friend, however, with twice as many unsure.

          A group of children play outside Manuel Valdes Rodriguez Municipal Primary School in Havana. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

          Later this week, Obama and Raul Castro will see each other at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the first time that Cuban leaders will attend the regional conference.

          The Obama administration has been negotiating to reopen the embassies in Havana and Washington, with three rounds of talks between U.S. and Cuban officials since December. Cuba wants to be removed from Washington’s state sponsor of terrorism list, which makes it harder to deal with foreign banks. U.S. officials have said they want more freedom of movement for their diplomats in Cuba, and permission to increase the number of staff. Some of those issues may be resolved during the summit.

          The poll reflected large and consistent generational differences in Cuba, with young people tending to be more optimistic and positive about the United States across a number of measures than older citizens. The younger people are also more likely to be critical of the economic and political system.
          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • #80
            US, Cuba leaders meet for first time in more than 50 years, vow to turn page on old enmities

            PANAMA CITY (AP) — President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro sat down together Saturday in the first formal meeting of the two country's leaders in a half-century, pledging to reach for the kind of peaceful relationship that has eluded their nations for generations.

            In a small conference room in a Panama City convention center, the two sat side by side in a bid to inject fresh momentum into their months-old effort to restore diplomatic ties. Reflecting on the historic nature of the meeting, Obama said he felt it was time to try something new and to engage with both Cuba's government and its people.

            "What we have both concluded is that we can disagree with a spirit of respect and civility," Obama said. "And over time, it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries."

            Castro, for his part, said he agreed with everything Obama had said — a stunning statement in and of itself for the Cuban leader. But he added the caveat that they had "agreed to disagee" at times. Castro said he had told the Americans that Cuba was willing to discuss issues such as human rights and freedom of the press, maintaining that "everything can be on the table."

            "We are disposed to talk about everything — with patience," Castro said in Spanish. "Some things we will agree with, and others we won't."

            Not since 1958 have a U.S. and Cuban leader convened a substantial meeting; at the time, Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House and Fulgencio Batista in charge in Cuba. But relations quickly entered into a deep freeze amid the Cold War, and the U.S. spent decades trying to either isolate or actively overthrow the Cuban government.

            In a stroke of coincidence, Eisenhower's meeting with Batista in 1958 also took place in Panama, imbuing Saturday's session between Obama and Castro with a sense of having come full circle.

            The historic gathering played out on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, which this year included Cuba for the first time. Although the meeting wasn't publicly announced in advance, White House aides had suggested the two leaders were looking for an opportunity to meet while in Panama and to discuss the ongoing efforts to open embassies in Havana and Washington, among other issues.

            At the start of their hour-long meeting, Obama acknowledged that Cuba, too, would continue raising concerns about U.S. policies — earning a friendly smirk from Castro. Obama described the sit-down later as "candid and fruitful" and said he and Castro were able to speak about their differences in a productive way.

            Even still, raw passions were on vivid display earlier in the day when Castro, in a meandering, nearly hour-long speech to the summit, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the U.S. dating back more than a century.

            Then, in an abrupt about face, he apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him. He said many U.S. presidents were at fault for that troubled history — but that Obama isn't one of them.

            "I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution," Castro said through a translator, noting that Obama wasn't even born when the U.S. began sanctioning the island nation. "I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this."

            Obama agreed.

            "The Cold War has been over for a long time," he said. "And I'm not interested in having battles frankly that started before I was born."

            The flurry of diplomacy kicked off Wednesday when Obama and Castro spoke by phone — only the second known call between U.S. and Cuban presidents in decades. It continued Friday evening when Obama and Castro traded handshakes and small talk at the summit's opening ceremonies, setting social media abuzz with photos and cellphone video.

            Obama and Castro sent shockwaves throughout the hemisphere in December when they announced the plan for rapprochement, and their envoys have spent the ensuing months working through thorny issues such as sanctions, the re-opening of embassies and the island nation's place on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

            Although earlier in the week Obama suggested a decision to remove Cuba from the list was imminent, he declined to take that step Saturday, citing the need to study a recently completed State Department review. Lawmakers briefed on that review have said it resulted in a recommendation that Cuba be delisted.

            Removal from the terror list is a top priority for Castro because it would not only purge a stain on Cuba's pride, but also ease its ability to conduct simple financial transactions.

            "Yes, we have conducted solidarity with other peoples that could be considered terrorism — when we were cornered, when we were strongly harassed," Castro conceded earlier Saturday. "We had no other choice but to give up or to fight back."

            Yet Obama's delay in delisting Cuba comes as the U.S. seeks concessions of its own — namely, the easing of restrictions on American diplomats' freedom of movement in Havana and better human rights protections. Obama met with Cuban dissidents Friday at a civil society forum, and on Saturday, he said the U.S. would continue pressing Cuba on issues like democracy and human rights.

            "We have very different views about how society should be organized," Obama told reporters just before returning to Washington.

            A successful detente would form a cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy legacy. But it's an endeavor he can't undertake alone: Only Congress can fully lift the onerous U.S. sanctions regime on Cuba and there are deep pockets of opposition in the U.S. to taking that step.

            As he sat down with the American president, Castro observed that nothing is truly static. Today's profound disagreements could turn into areas of consensus tomorrow.

            "The pace of life at the present moment in the world," he said, "it's very fast."

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • #81
              Obama Endorses Removing Cuba From Terrorism List

              The White House announced on Tuesday that President Obama intends to remove Cuba from the American government’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, eliminating a major obstacle to the restoration of diplomatic relations after decades of hostilities.

              The decision to remove Cuba from the list represents a crucial step in Mr. Obama’s effort to turn the page on a Cold War-era dispute.

              It came after a much-anticipated meeting between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas meeting in Panama over the weekend, the first such formal session between the leaders of the two countries in more than a half-century.

              For more than 30 years, Cuba has been on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation shared only by Iran, Sudan and Syria.

              President Raúl Castro of Cuba covered his ears under a barrage of reporters’ questions for him and President Obama on Saturday.Obama Meets Raúl Castro, Making HistoryAPRIL 11, 2015

              Cuba’s place on the list has long snarled its access to financial markets and, more recently, emerged as a sticking point in negotiations to reopen embassies that have officially been closed for five decades.

              Mr. Obama ordered a review of Cuba’s status in December, as he and Mr. Castro agreed to move toward normal relations.

              White House officials said Tuesday that Mr. Obama had approved a recommendation by Secretary of State John Kerry to take Cuba off the terrorism list after the review of Cuba’s record and assurances from Havana that it would not support terrorism in the future.

              “We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.

              Mr. Earnest said the president would continue to “support our interests and values through engagement with the Cuban government and people.”

              The State Department determined that Cuba had not engaged in terrorist activity in the past six months — a criterion for designating a country as a state sponsor of terrorism — and therefore no longer belonged on the list.

              Washington’s isolation of Cuba, particularly its embargo of the island, has been a perennial source of hostility in Latin America, uniting governments across the region regardless of their ideologies.

              Even some of Washington’s close allies in the Americas have rallied to Cuba’s side, sometimes making it hard to gain traction on other, unrelated issues, administration officials have said.

              Cuba was attending the summit meeting for the first time since the gathering’s inception in 1994.

              The meeting created the first publicly planned encounter of the American and Cuban presidents since 1958, though Mr. Obama and Mr. Castro shook hands in greeting at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa in December 2013 and President Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro shook hands and chatted briefly at a United Nations meeting in 2000.

              To many, the decision to remove Cuba from the list affirmed the obvious. When Mr. Obama announced that he would seek normal ties with Cuba, he expressed doubt that the nation belonged on the list.

              Last week, Mr. Obama appeared to be sharpening his defense of removing Cuba’s terrorism designation, telling NPR that the criterion for doing so is a “straightforward” evaluation of whether a country is a state sponsor of terrorism, “not do we agree with them on everything, not whether they engage in repressive or authoritarian activities in their own country.”

              Analysts said Cuba’s designation had more to do with politics than any terrorist activity, and even before the decision was announced, critics attacked the move.

              The terrorism designation “is a hot potato that is literally too hot for the banks involved to do the business,” said Antonio C. Martinez II, a New York lawyer whose practice includes the regulations surrounding Cuban assets.

              “The banks involved in or contemplating doing business with Cuba have an enormous compliance burden that does not justify the costs,” he added. “That is why no bank wanted” to have accounts with Cuban diplomats in the United States, complicating efforts to reopen an embassy.

              State Department officials said they had embarked on a thorough review to ensure that their decision could stand up to any questioning in a Republican-controlled Congress where there are fierce objections.

              Cuba will not come off the list until after a 45-day review period, during which a joint resolution to block its removal could be considered in the House and Senate. The idea of removing Cuba’s terrorism designation has been met with considerable resistance from Republicans, including many Cuban-American lawmakers.

              Even before any announcement had been made, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who has vowed to block any step toward normalizing ties, issued a statement saying that Cuba’s expected removal from the list “would be nothing short of a miscarriage of justice born out of political motivations not rooted in reality.”

              This thaw is long overdue and will end years of needless frustration punishing the Cuban people for the flamboyant leadership they've had to...

              It's long, long overdue to end the hypocrisy of "state sponsors of terrorism" tirade. Luis Posada Carriles was the mastermind of a terrorist...

              One of Obama's good qualities has been a certain intellectual honesty, his willingness to say, enough is enough with stupid policies that...

              She said that Mr. Obama’s administration was “so desperate to open up an embassy in Havana at any cost that it is willing to concede to Castro’s demand,” adding that the action would “further embolden the regime and undermine U.S. national security.”

              The issue of the terrorism list has helped delay the opening of embassies that have been closed since 1961 during the Cold War.

              Cuban officials have said they would find it difficult to move forward with diplomatic relations while remaining on the list, which they see as a blemish to their nation’s image and a scarlet letter that has blocked Cuba from doing business with American banks and led some international institutions to shy away from opportunities to work with Cuba.

              The United States had sought to keep the terrorism designation question separate from the question of restoring diplomatic relations, focusing its demands on ensuring that diplomats could travel freely in Cuba and that Cubans would not be bothered by the police as they entered the redesignated embassy.

              Cuba landed on the list in 1982 for its support of leftist insurgents in Latin America. It has remained on the list since then because, according to a State Department report in 2013, the most recent available, it has provided a “safe haven” for Basque separatists and Colombian rebels.

              The Cuban government has also harbored an unspecified number of fugitives wanted in the United States, including Joanne D. Chesimard, who is on the F.B.I.’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and receiving asylum in Cuba after escaping from prison in 1979. The F.B.I. said Ms. Chesimard, who now goes by the name Assata Shakur, espoused revolution and terrorism against the United States.

              Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, last week called the move “another significant misstep in a misguided policy” and cited Ms. Chesimard’s case among his examples of Cuba’s terrorism record.

              Still, as the State Department report noted, several of the Basque separatists had been repatriated to Spain, and Cuba has played host to peace talks between the Colombian government and a major rebel group, known by its Spanish acronym FARC.

              Fidel Castro in a speech in 1992 said Cuba was no longer supporting insurgents abroad.

              “There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups,” the 2013 report said.

              Inclusion on the list has stymied Cuban banking and kept it out of many overseas financial markets. Not even its interests section in Washington, the diplomatic outpost that performs some functions of an embassy, could get a bank account as financial institutions worried about violating sanctions from the Treasury Department over doing business with a state on the terrorism list and running afoul of the trade embargo.


              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • #82
                Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
                When does that first boat leave from Miami? I want to be on it. My first crush (Isabell) was on a girl from Cuba.


                Recently viewed this thread and thought I should update it. We did make it there a few years ago. Lovely place and hope we’ll be able to return.

                Our hotel (US citizens unable to stay there any longer.)

                Few random shots…..

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • #83
                  • This thread was moved from the news section because of my last post so I should explain how the Thai girlfriend was able to visit Cuba. It was easy.

                  She was required to fill out a simple Cuban tourist card, which a Miami travel agent did for us. I think at the time the cost was about 7.00 US dollars???????

                  Tourist Visa (tourist card):

                  The tourist visa or tourist card is only used for trips of foreign citizens who wish to make tourism to Cuba. Valid for a single entry to the national territory on a 30-day trip and you can extend 30 days at the hotel desk where you are staying or before the immigration authorities.
                  Underage must have their tourist card even if they are registered in the parents' passports.

                  Documents needed to obtain directly from the consulate:

                  Valid passport
                  Plane ticket with arrival and return date
                  Must pay the consular fee stipulated for this service
                  Documents needed to obtain it by postal mail

                  Legible photocopy of the valid passport
                  Legible photocopy of the flight ticket with date of entry and return
                  Must pay the consular fee stipulated for this service
                  Envelope with sufficient stamps and return address
                  NOTE: If the request is made by mail or through a third person, the consular fee stipulated for this service will be charged in addition.
                  All payments must be made in cash, by means of payment certified bank or bank transfer. The cash sent by mail will be rejected and returned at the risk of the applicant.:
                  • Little more info (I don’t know how current it is)…..


                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer