Panama begins crackdown on migrants fleeing apartheid Cuba

Elena Toledo in PanAm Post:

Panama Cracks Down on Cuban Migrants

Government Calls For Long-term Solution with Central American Neighbors

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The Government of Panama announced on Sunday, April 24, that it will take measures to discourage the irregular migration of Cubans who continue to arrive in the country on their way to the United States.

“We will have to take migratory measures to discourage the flow,” wrote Isabel De Saint Malo, the Panamanian vice president and Foreign Affairs minister, on Twitter. “We continue our conversations with other countries to seek a comprehensive solution,” she added.

The minister did not elaborate on what kind of actions the government would undertake to counter the migration crisis aggravated by the flow of Cubans.

Panama so far has been permissive with the Cuban migrants, providing humanitarian support and letting them stay in government-funded shelters.

The tightening of measures against illegal immigration came after a week of tension at the border post of Paso Canoas, after angry Cuban and Congolese migrants demanded their right to continue their journey to the United States.

“The issue of migrants should be treated as a humanitarian crisis, protecting Panama. It is a complex issue which is governed by international conventions,” De Saint Malo said.

Costa Rica Helps Defenseless Cuban Migrants

Meanwhile, Costa Rican immigration authorities reported that they are prioritizing the transfer and care of pregnant women and families with children stranded on the border with Panama who entered the country illegally.

The Costa Rican government will take 18 pregnant women and 25 children and their families to a Child Care Center in the city of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

The rest of the immigrants, more than 600 people of 14 nationalities, will be taken to the immigration control center located in the town of Río Claro.

After arriving in these care centers, immigrants will follow a process that includes a medical examination, interview and identification, according to the “international and national standards for the protection of Human Rights,” Costa Rican immigration and public safety authorities said.

Continue reading HERE.

Video of the Day – It takes 40 of Cuba’s State Security agents to take down one dissident woman

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The following video not only showcases the courage of Cuba’s Ladies in White, but it also perfectly showcases the cowardice of the U.S.-backed apartheid Castro dictatorship. The violent attack recorded below took place in Cuba just this past Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Via Liu Santiesteban’s Todo el Mundo Habla:

40 State Security agents against one Cuban woman

Cuban-born U.S. citizens still face hurdles on Carnival Cruise trips to apartheid Cuba

Despite the apartheid Castro regime’s decision to surrender to public pressure and eliminate one of their discriminatory policies, they have plenty more of these policies of discrimination that are ready to step up and pick up the slack.

Hank Tester in the Examiner:

Cubans still face hurdles for Cuba Cruise

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May 1st Carnival Corporation’s Fathom will depart The Port of Miami for the first scheduled cruise to Cuba in decades. This after a local uproar when Carnival revealed that they would not accept Cuban born passengers due to a Cuban government restriction. After a lawsuit was filed, street demonstrations, political commendations and a hard scramble behind the scenes by Carnival representatives the Cuban Government dropped the policy. After threatening to not sail until the issue was resolved all now is good to go. That said there are still issues for Cuban born travelers who want to book a Miami-Cuba tour.

It is important to remember that although Cuban-born people are now allowed on the boat they are still face different challenges compared to their non-Cuban counterparts even though they are United States Citizens:

  • Americans visiting Cuba must present a valid passport and a special tourist card that costs $75.
  • Cuban-born Americans who immigrated after January 1971 must purchase a Cuban passport — even though they have renounced their Cuban citizenship and are now U.S. citizens. These passports are valid for six years and cost $375. To keep these passports active, holders must pay $230 every two years.
  • Cuban-born Americans who left Cuba before January 1971 may use their U.S. passport, but must apply for an HE-11 visa, which costs $250, lasts only 90 days and can take months to obtain.

In addition it is wise for all who are going to take the Fathom Travel Cruise ship to Cuba to plan well ahead as securing the proper paper work can be inconvenient and time consuming. The best bet is to secure the services of a knowledgeable travel agent who specializes in Cuba travel who can expedite the paper work.

Cuba, Obama, and the law of unintended consequences

Carlos Alberto Montaner in El Nuevo Herald (translation by Capitol Hill Cubans):

Cuba, Obama and the Law of Unintended Consequences

carlos alberto montanerThere are no exceptions. The president of the United States is also subject to the “Law of unintended consequences.” This became patent, for example, in Libya. NATO carried out 7,000 bombing raids and caused the destruction of the army of Qaddafi, who ended up executed by his enemies. In total chaos, the country was finally taken over by some fanatical gangs that murdered the U.S. ambassador.
Objectively speaking, that criminal madman, Qaddafi, was less bad than those who came later. Something similar happened with Saddam Hussein Mubarak, the Shah of Persia, and Batista, episodes in which, directly or indirectly the United States has great responsibility for its behavior, by abstaining to act or for acting belatedly.

It just happened to Barack Obama in Cuba. The president arrived in Havana jovial, hopeful and loaded with good intentions, accompanied by successful (former) Cuban exiles, also desirous to help their native land, convinced one and all of the simplistic theory of the “bombardment of hams.”

Grosso modo, those who support that strategy suspect that — out of the capitalist penetration, the empowering of the civilian society and the creation of a layer of private owners and self-employed entrepreneurs — the gradual end of the communist model will eventually emerge.

They therefore renounce any economic reprisals or military threats, confident that the island’s gradual economic transformation will produce the results that weren’t obtained after more than half a century of economic embargo and hostility.

Wishful thinking. They assume that wishes are reality. Raúl and Fidel are two serious communists, resolutely Stalinist, ready to maintain by blood and fire the State’s economic preponderance, the exclusivity of the Communist Party in charge of the nation, and the firm belief that Washington is the enemy against whom Cubans must fight to the death.

That is why they support Nicolás Maduro with cloak and dagger, why they send weapons to North Korea, embrace Iran and the Middle East terrorists, and give their total solidarity to the narco-guerrillas of the  FARC. To the Cuban government, it is obvious who are its friends and who are its enemies. It doesn’t hesitate or err or is halted by petty bourgeois prejudices about violating human rights.

As Mauricio Claver-Carone pointed out in CapitolHillCubans, the first thing they did was to add the alleged crime of “accumulation of riches” to the prohibitions imposed on Cuban self-employed entrepreneurs, an anathema that joins the existing impossibility to “accumulate properties.” They know perfectly well the strategy of the “bombardment of hams” and will not be surprised by the “grossly materialistic” tactics of their adversaries.

For the Castros and for the military men who command in their dynasty, the weak private economic fabric, watched very closely by the counterintelligence, composed of minor service activities (small hostels, household restaurants, sweaty bicitaxis and a ridiculous etcetera.), has the function of paying taxes, absorbing the manual labor that doesn’t fit in the large public companies, alleviating the deficiencies of an astoundingly clumsy system, and giving the regime the stability furnished by a layer of micro-entrepreneurs anxious not to do anything that might endanger their meager privileges.

Continue reading translated version HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Price reductions?

By Rebeca Monzo in Translating Cuba:

Price Reductions?

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I have a friend who, as soon as she heard about the announced price cuts, ran out the day before to the hard currency stores to buy things, thinking she might store some of the items about to go on sale before the stores run out of them. A big mistake, a repeat of the sixties, that never worked.

On the other hand, someone being interviewed on State television (the only TV that exists in our country), told the cameras that he felt as if he had gotten a wage increase. Does this man, perhaps, receive his wages in hard currency, Cuban convertible pesos (CUC)?

Here wages, like pensions, are paid out in Cuban pesos (CUP) and are barely enough to survive. This poor man seems to have the idea that the majority of the products lowered their prices by some 50 or 40 centavos in CUCs, along with some few products sold in CUPs, which are insignificant because they sell them to the population at inflated prices and, in addition, it takes 24 Cuban pesos (CUP) to equal one Cuban convertible peso (CUC).

In my view this has been nothing more than a distraction to try to overshadow the disenchantment people are feeling after the 7th Party Congress, where the few naive who still had hope lost it when the “phantom of the opera” (Fidel Castro) reappeared, and said “Here, I am the boss.” This insignificant reduction in prices could also be a little trap, to cheer up the “sheep” who are going to march in the big parade on May Day.

Gentlemen, everything remains the same or worse, and the clearest evidence of this is the continuous and uninterrupted exodus of Cubans to other countries, hoping to use them as a bridge to get to the destination that is everyone’s ultimate dream: The United States.

To change Cuba, speak up for democracy again and again

The Editorial Board of The Washington Post:

To change Cuba, speak up for democracy again and again

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PRESIDENT OBAMA’S visit to Cuba last month laid down a marker. The president hailed the island’s entrepreneurs, met with dissidents, and encouraged openness and democracy in the presence of President Raúl Castro, who rules without any. The regime’s answer has now been delivered at the just-concluded Seventh Congress of the Cuban Communist Party: a loud “no way.”

The four-day conference, held in Havana, ratified the old guard’s hold on leadership. Mr. Castro, 84, was reelected as first secretary of the party, and the delegates cheered a farewell speech from a frail Fidel Castro, 89. Party members seemed eager to snuff out any lingering glow from Mr. Obama’s visit. Raúl Castro referred to the United States as “the enemy” and warned “we have to be more alert than ever.” The Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, called the president’s visit “an attack on the foundation of our history, our culture and our symbols.” He added, “Obama came here to dazzle the non-state sector, as if he wasn’t the representative of big corporations but the defender of hot dog vendors, of small businesses in the United States, which he isn’t.”

Obviously, Mr. Obama discomfited the regime. Despite some market reforms and economic tinkering in recent years, the authoritarian system the Castros have built still dominates state and society. The brothers’ intention is to make it impossible for Cuba to undergo the kind of transformation that is an ostensible goal of Mr. Obama’s policy.

According to the Associated Press, on April 8 one of Cuba’s most well-known advocates of economic reform, Omar Everleny Perez, was fired from his University of Havana think-tank position for allegedly sharing information with Americans without authorization. Mr. Perez was a consultant to the Castro government when it launched some market-oriented reforms. He confirmed his dismissal, saying it was not because of his contacts with foreigners but because he wrote critically about the slow pace of economic reform. “Sometimes they don’t like what you write or think,” he said.

Continue reading HERE.

The perils of business in Cuba

The dangers of doing business with Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship are really nothing out of the ordinary. They are pretty much the same dangers one would encounter when doing business with a corrupt and murderous crime syndicate.

The Editorial Board of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The perils of business in Cuba

cuba richmont times dispatch

Earlier this year a delegation of Virginia business leaders traveled to Cuba to explore the potential for commerce there, now that the Obama administration has eased relations between the two countries. At one point, Cuban officials tried to reassure them by vowing that foreign investment could not be “expropriated” except “for reasons of public or social interest.”

Some reassurance.

But having your money, plants or equipment stolen at gunpoint is not the only peril facing American companies in the Castro Brothers’ island paradise. Just ask Carnival Cruise Lines.

The company recently, and wisely, made a hasty retreat from its announced policy of not allowing Cuban-Americans to take cruises to Cuba. We are not making this up. The company blamed the Cuban government, which restricts how and whether Cuban-Americans can visit. Carnival was just following orders, you see.

What’s more, Cuba does not recognize the American nationality of Cuban-Americans who were either born in Cuba or born to Cuban emigrés. In fact, the U.S. government warns such individuals that they “will be treated solely as Cuban citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service.” In some instances, Cuba has even refused to allow such “dual-nationals” to return to the U.S.

Cuba’s reprehensible treatment of its own political dissidents is well-known. So is its treatment of gays and lesbians, who at one time were routinely sent to labor camps for the crime of being gay. That is no longer the case today, and the Cuban regime has tried to reinvent itself as a paradise of gay liberation. That false front is one its critics view, correctly, as little more than pinkwashing.

It’s jarring to watch the American business community boycott North Carolina over that state’s new law regarding LGBT individuals — while racing to see who can open up shop in Cuba, where discrimination is even worse.

No, America’s five-decade embargo did little to change things in the Cuban prison state, and a new approach might produce better results. But those who have flocked to Cuba looking for new business opportunities (a cohort that includes Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe) might want to pause and consider whether the potential gain is worth the risk — not only to their own interests, but to the interests of freedom and justice for all.

Hundreds of Cuban dissidents violently arrested over the weekend by Cuba’s U.S.-backed dictatorship

Another violent and repressive weekend in Obama’s Cuba as the U.S.-backed apartheid regime of the Castro brothers arrested nearly 200 activists on Saturday and dozens more on Sunday. The routine weekend brutality stems from the Castro dictatorship’s attempt to quash the Todos Marchamos (We all march) dissident campaign that carries out a peaceful protest march every Sunday calling for freedom and amnesty for political prisoners. This past Sunday was the 51st such march and every single one of them has been met by violence and arrests by the apartheid Castro regime.

Here are some excerpts from the report of this weekend’s violence via Diario de Cuba (my translation):

Dozens of Ladies in White and activists suffer repression by the regime in an attempt to stop #TodosMarchamos

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State Security presence cut off access to the street where the Ladies in White headquarters are located (A. MOYA)

Almost thirty Ladies in Whites and activists were arrested this Sunday by the regime at the headquarters of the women’s group in Lawton, located in the Miramar neighborhood. The arrests came as an attempt to stop #TodosMarchamos, a campaign that every week marches through the streets calling for amnesty for political prisoners.

According to Aliuska Gomez’s report to Diario de Cuba, nine women and 4 men were arrested at the Ladies in White headquarters when they stepped outside to make their way to the Santa Rita church where the women’s group attends mass every Sunday.

Gomez herself was being held in the jail facilities located in Tarara, where State Security regularly takes the women arrested every Sunday. The Lady in White was able to communicate that the repression carried out at the organization’s headquarters was “extremely violent,” but was not able to offer any more details due to her situation.

[…]

In addition, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced the arrests of 193 members of the opposition this Saturday. According to the organization, the dissidents were “trying to get to Catholic churches, parks, and peacefully call for the release of political prisoners.”

According to an UNPACU press release, the arrests took place in various provinces of the country.

Read the entire report (in Spanish) HERE.

A warning to U.S. companies seeking business with Cuba’s apartheid regime: Beware of the Castros’ ‘Gusano’ policies

By Jason Poblete in The DC Dispatches:

US Companies: Beware of Cuba’s “Gusanos” Discriminatory Policies

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Officials with the cash-strapped, Stalinist police state Cuba, were forced to change a long-standing of prohibiting Cuban-born foreign nationals from arriving at Cuba by sea. Why now? Because the Cuban regime needs the money. If someone tells you differently, that person either does not know what they are talking about or support closer relations with the regime.

This issue surfaced when a Miami Herald reporter revealed that Carnival Cruises, after securing permission from the Obama administration to cruise to Cuba, announced that Cuban-Americans would be unable to buy tickets for the voyage. A class-action lawsuit and several negative media stories later, the Cuban regime had to reverse course. Faced with growing domestic unrest, hunger, and mounting political problems, changing the law was the only option. Party planners need the revenue flow.

Carnival Cruise lines was slapped with a class-action lawsuit alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for unlawful discrimination against Cuban-born American citizens. Plaintiff’s counsel could have also included the Obama administration as co-defendants for issuing the licenses that allowed Carnival to negotiate cruises to Cuba.

For Cuba, it was not just about money. Cuba had to changes it laws or it would risk losing a lot of political capital with the Obama administration as well as with the special interests groups that have spent millions the past few years to normalize relations and ease sanctions. Let’s face it folks, a drawn out jury trial in South Florida is bad for politics and, of course, business.

I was in Miami on Monday to speak on a Cuba panel that was held as part of a tech conference. We were asked a question about this Carnival matter and what lessons could be drawn from it. In addition to what I’ve said up until this point in this blog post, I also stressed two points that U.S. persons should keep in mind before engaging in Cuba:

  1. Do your due diligence – Cuba not only remains subject to a comprehensive embargo, but there is a lot more to scrub in proposed transactions than in other emerging economies. In addition to the usual FCPA, sanctions, AML, checks, you need to make sure that you’re not trafficking in stolen properties that used to be owned by Americans, among other things such as state-sponsored slave labor; and
  2. There is a lot of politics involved. You can’t ignore the domestic politics. Carnival should’ve known better than to engage in South Florida – the world capital of the Cuban Diaspora – without running the political traps. It has lost a lot of good will with powerful Members of Congress as well as sectors of the South Florida business community. Sure, they will recover, but this issue will always fester.

One related point I stressed in Miami worth repeated here: there is no private sector in Cuba. As a matter of US law, the Obama administration has cobbled together a convoluted process that allows US persons to engage in transactions with Cuban-designated cuentapropistas (i.e., Cuba’s version of a private entity); however, there is nothing really private about them. As Heritage Foundation scholar Mike Gonzalez discusses in his recent Forbes post:

Previously, the private sector [in Cuba] had been barred from the “concentration of property.” As of the new congress, the private sector will also be barred from the “concentration of wealth.”

While the immediate Carnival cruise to Cuba fracas may be over, I doubt this is the last we will hear of it. Cuba continues to engage activities that, in the US, amounts to unlawful discrimination. Persons subject to US law who help facilitate these activities risk litigation and negative publicity. If you’re in the travel industry, you should pay close attention.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Cuba reduces food prices: Comments from the cash register

Luzbely Escobar in Translating Cuba:

Cuba Reduces Food Prices: Comments From the Cash Register

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Many people consider the drop in prices insufficient when compared to their wages.

14ymedio, Luzbely Escobar, Havana, 22 April 2016 — The Carlos III shopping center in Havana Center opened its doors this morning before an expectant public looking for the price reductions on some products that was announced on Primetime News last night at eight. On leaving the market, many customers expressed dissatisfaction with a measure they consider “insufficient.”

Outside the shopping complex, a parking attendant in his 50’s commented on those who crowded around waiting for the opening. “They are doing this to try to shut people up, people are very discontented.” A young pedicab driver added, “I see it more as tremendous chutzpah, the prices they’ve marked are the same as they were when these stores opened and it was an abuse then.”

A few minutes after the market opened, most of the customers went directly to the food departments, which is where the new prices are most visible. There, looking over what was in the freezer, a gentleman who said he was a maintenance worker at a polyclinic in Central Havana explained, “Marking everything down is good, but for me it is still going to be hard to feed my family as God commands.” A gentleman responded, “I’m self-employed, but it seems insufficient to me (…), I’m going to lose a few pounds but still it’s not enough.”

With an empty bag and a scowl, a retired seventy-something named Lazarus responded to a lady who was talking loudly about “the new measures.” “What measures, madam? So I can lose 40 pounds? All this is a joke and a lie. I get 270 Cuban pesos [about $11] a month for my retirement, I worked forty-some years. How can I live? Thanks to family I have abroad, if I didn’t I would die of hunger.”

The lady, who didn’t want to discuss it, murmured, “Well, any reduction is noticeable, especially on chicken and picadillo [ground ‘meat’, often largely or entirely soy], it’s better than it was, clearly.”

As usual in these circumstances, people are reluctant to speak up to someone who presents themselves as a journalist, but there are always exceptions. “The wages today are not what they need to be for many workers, and almost no one lives on their monthly wages. If we count what people ‘divert’ and ‘steal’ [from their workplaces] and what they ‘invent,’ then they can come to this store once a month and spend 20 or 30 CUCs, but this is what an engineer earns as a monthly salary,” explained a young man at the exit of the market, comparing the average Cuban salary with the price reductions.

Reinaldo, owner of a cafe in Old Havana, also dared to comment. “The truth is I do not see much of note in these price reductions. For me who buys in bulk, at best I would get some business, but for someone who buys one kilogram, they’re going to save enough to buy the kids a few suckers,” he said.

A couple of hours after opening, the Carlos III market, the only work of the Revolution which bears the name of a king of Spain, had returned to normal. A few curious people looking on from the sidewalk asked those coming out of the store if it was true about the lower prices. A gentleman with a sense of humor responded this way: “Did you bring a truck to carry your purchases?”

NOTE: The average monthly salary in Cuba, according to data from last December’s session of the National Assembly, is 640 Cuban pesos, the equivalent of about 26 dollars US. 1 CUC = 1 US dollar.

Cuban-born U.S. citizens still unequal on Carnival Cruise trips to apartheid Cuba

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

No longer separate but still unequal: Cubans can now travel to Cuba on a cruise ship

The power of nonviolent resistance and the challenges that remain

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Ramon Saul Sanchez, the Democracy Movement and the Cuban American community have achieved a victory in demanding first that Carnival Cruise Line,  a U.S. corporation not be complicit in systematic discrimination against Cubans. The Castro regime has had a long standing policy of  not allowing Cuban born travelers to enter or exit Cuba by boat and Carnival was cooperating with this policy. This sparked protests, boycotts, and lawsuits that led the company to end this practice on April 18, 2016. Advocates of engagement, such as Tim Padgett, were doubtful that the cruise would take place any time soon. In the midst of all this on April 15, 2016 Ramon Saul Sanchez received notice that the United States wanted him to leave the country and that his 2002 application for residency had been denied. Ramon Saul suspects the hand of the Castro dictatorship in his current immigration plight.

Today the Castro regime announced that Cuban-born people would be allowed to travel on the May 1, 2016 cruise and was loosening the overall policy. This is a good thing and an example of the power of active nonviolence to effect positive change.

It is important to remember that the Obama Treasury Department on July 7, 2015 signed off on the Carnival Cruise Line – Castro regime deal that discriminated against an entire class of Americans based on their national origin.

It is also important to remember that although Cuban-born people are now allowed on the boat they are still being discriminated against when compared to their non-Cuban counterparts. The Sun Sentinel Editorial board on April 20, 2016 outlined these discriminatory practices by the Castro regime with some key facts.

  • Americans visiting Cuba must present a valid passport and a special tourist card that costs $75.
  • Cuban-born Americans who immigrated after January 1971 must purchase a Cuban passport — even though they have renounced their Cuban citizenship and are now U.S. citizens. These passports are valid for six years and cost $375. To keep these passports active, holders must pay $230 every two years.
  • Cuban-born Americans who left Cuba before January 1971 may use their U.S. passport, but must apply for an HE-11 visa, which costs $250, lasts only 90 days and can take months to obtain.

Cuban-born Americans can now get on the boat but they are not treated as equals by the Castro regime because of where they were born.  It matters not if they have a United States passport and the irony is that a regime founded on the claim that it is challenging U.S. imperialism treats those born in Cuba as second class when compared to their American born counterparts.

No longer separate but still unequal.

Continue reading HERE.

Discrimination lawsuit against Carnival Cruise for enforcing Cuba’s apartheid policies continues

Even after surrendering to public pressure and changing one of its discriminatory policies, Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship continues to discriminate in other aspects. Unfortunately, Carnival Cruise also continues to enforce those apartheid policies.

By Jacob Gershman in The Wall Street Journal:

Lawyers for Cuban-Americans Not Ready to Drop Discrimination Suit Against Carnival

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Carnival on Friday announced that the Cuban government is allowing Cuban-born travelers to join the company’s historic cruise to the island next month.

But lawyers for Cuban-Americans who brought a discrimination suit against the company this month say they’re not ready to drop their complaint.

Friday’s development is a big turnaround from just a few days ago when Carnival was barring Cuban-born Americans from taking part in the first cruise to the island in more than 50 years. Carnival’s policy was the result of a longstanding Cuban ban on Cuban-born people returning to the Communist island by sea.

A federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida on April 12 accuses the world’s largest cruise-ship company and its new Fathom subsidiary of unlawful national-origin discrimination in a public place of accommodation, in this case a cruise ship. The suit, filed as a class action, has two named plaintiffs, both Cuban-born Americans.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they still object to the requirement that Cuban-born travelers who came to the U.S. after 1971 obtain a Cuban passport from the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., a step not required of other passengers.

“Everybody should be treated equally. That’s what we want,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Javier A. Lopez, of Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton LLP in Florida, told Law Blog on Friday. He called Carnival’s announcement a “huge step in the right direction.”

But he said they would be willing to drop their complaint if they see a written statement from Carnival assuring that Cuba won’t backtrack on lifting the ban. Cuba’s shift in policy was reported in Granma, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party.

Without a statement from the company guaranteeing entry, Mr. Lopez said he and his clients can’t be sure the country won’t change its mind.

A Carnival spokesman told Law Blog that the company is hopeful that the litigation would be resolved amicably.

Latin America drops below Africa in press freedoms

Arguably the direct result of Castro-Cuban influence in Latin America.

Sabrina Martin in PanAm Post:

Latin America Has Less Press Freedom than Africa

Press Freedom Ranking Cites Growing State Censorship and Violence against Latin American Journalists

libertad-de-prensa

For the first time, South America has fallen below Africa in the yearly ranking of press freedom, according to a report published Wednesday, April 20 by Reporters Without Borders.

The classification was based on an evaluation of press freedom in 180 countries — looking at their pluralism, the amount of media independence and the quality of the legal framework for protecting journalists.

A public report by Reporters Without Borders said Latin America fell 20.5 percent due to assassinations and attacks on journalists, especially in México and Central America.

Officials of the Paris-based organization said institutional violence in Venezuela and in Ecuador, as well as organized crime in Honduras, the impunity in Colombia and the corruption in Brazil constitute significant obstacles for press freedom in the region.

In America it is common for authorities to exercise a level control over the media. Panama? (91st) has fallen eight positions, as access to information continues to be partially under the control of the state. Covering up delicate subject matter often results in the  defamation of those trying to report on them. Countries in this situation can often be found in worse condition — such as Venezuela (#139), where the press faces opposition in the form of constant intimidation and threats from President Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Or Cuba (#171-2), where Raúl Castro’s regime continues to control nearly all accessible information.

The largest decline on the list was El Salvador, which fell 13 positions due to violence of cartels and the deteriorating situation of free, available information.

Costa Rica continues to sit within the top-10 worldwide. According to the report, it is the only country in Central America that does not appear to have a high rate of corruption.

Continue reading HERE.