Cuba built a wall, and America paid for it

A quite apropos and interesting take on Obama’s last-minute Cuba immigration policy change.

Via Tersites (my translation):

Barack Obama: The Donald Trump for Cubans

trump obama michelangelo

One week before ending his term, with a stroke of a pen – as he has been known to do – President Obama finished building a wall to keep out Cubans just like the wall Trump promised to keep out Mexicans, which caused much outrage. Many people were incensed when Trump began to threaten to build the wall and denounced him as racist, a troglodyte, and for being inhumane. It is curious to see, however, that now some of those people “understand” Obama’s decision to turn the Florida Straits into the deepest wall in the world.

Let us forget for a moment the history of the Cuban Adjustment Act. Let’s forget “details” such as the fact that Cuba has been existing in an autocracy for the past 60 years where the leader always has the same last name. Let us forget that this autocracy had nuclear weapons in its territory and that its leader begged the Soviet Union to use them in a “preemptive” attack against the United States, which would have sparked World War III.

Let’s approach this matter with a healthy does of amnesia. Let us consider that Cuba is a country like any other country – for example, Mexico. Let’s consider then the reasons given for the decision to send back to the island any refugee who is caught in the United States without a visa.

  1. Obama says – as well as the Cuban government and those who support either – that up until yesterday, Cubans enjoyed an undeserved privilege: the ability to stay in the United States simply because they made it here. “Let them be like everyone else,” they say. It is the same logic that Donald Trump uses to justify building his wall. Trump might ask: “Why would Mexicans, just because they have a border with us, have the privilege of coming to the United States whenever they want and after a few years receive legal status?” Would this not be, for example, an injustice to Indonesians? Then let them all be Indonesians: that way we will all be the same. This is the only way we achieve justice.

Continue reading (in Spanish) HERE.

Trump not likely to reinstate ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy for Cuban refugees

President Obama knew exactly what he was doing when just eight days before the end of his term, he made a drastic change to U.S. migration policy regarding Cuban refugees. Not only was Obama’s sudden policy change surprising, it was also quite impressive. In one fell swoop he gave one last gift to the apartheid Cuban dictatorship, tied one more knot on Trump’s Cuba-policy hands, and poked his finger in the eye of Cuban American voters.

Via The Miami Herald:

Don’t expect Trump to reinstate special immigration status for Cubans

trump mh

For all the bluster Miami’s Cuban-American Republicans in Congress delivered after President Barack Obama’s stunning decision Thursday to dispose of a decades-old U.S. policy favoring Cuban immigrants, the likelihood of President-elect Donald Trump reversing the decision seems almost nonexistent.

And Cuban-American lawmakers seem to know it: By Friday, some of them were reluctantly conceding that they don’t even intend to ask Trump to reinstate “wet foot/dry foot,” the policy that allowed any Cuban who arrived on U.S. soil to legally remain in the country.

“It was going to happen, sooner or later: some reform, some change,” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen acknowledged to the Miami Herald.

She criticized Obama for making a sudden, “arbitrary” move with no lawmaker input. But she also predicted the policy would not have lasted another year.

“Congress would have done away with it — we would have reformed it. Something needed to be done,” she said. “Shame on us for not fixing it. But to do this within one week of his presidency ending?”

Trump, who last year said Cubans’ special treatment wasn’t “fair,” remained uncharacteristically silent Friday about Obama’s move, saying nothing on his preferred platform — Twitter — or through his transition team, which ignored repeated emailed requests for comment.

Why Obama left such a momentous change until eight days before Trump’s inauguration was unclear. The White House said the reason was simple: It had taken this long to negotiate an agreement with the Cuban government in which they would begin to accept deportees from the U.S.

“Frankly, we did not want to speculate publicly about the likelihood of this change for fear of inviting even greater migration flows,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Thursday.

But the last-minute policy reversal, like the business deals with major U.S. corporations that the White House ushered through last month, seemed propelled by Trump’s looming White House arrival, and the possibility that he might try to undo Obama’s biggest legacy in the Western Hemisphere.

Continue reading HERE.

Cuba’s apartheid regime chief beneficiary of Obama’s ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy shift

barack-obama-raul-castro

Since December of 2014, when President Obama announced the U.S. would surrender to the repressive and corrupt Castro dictatorship, every single policy change regarding Cuba has been a unilateral concession that benefits the apartheid regime. While the Castros have been reaping the benefits, U.S. interests have been damaged, not to mention the interests of Cubans who dare to dream of freedom. Obama’s latest policy change with the rescinding of the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy is no different. The Castros reap the rewards while everyone else pays the price.

Via Patch:

Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot Shift Favors Raul Castro’s Cuba, Expert Says

Cuba gains new stature on international stage with President Obama’s decision to change 20 years of history.

MIAMI — One of the top experts on U.S.-Cuba relations has concluded that President Obama’s reversal of the longstanding wet-foot, dry-foot policy represents a bigger win for Raul Castro’s Cuba than for the United States.

In an interview with Patch on Friday, Jorge Duany, who heads Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute, also said that the two years of secret negotiations leading up to Thursday’s announcement by the White House directly contradicts denials to the contrary by the U.S. State Department.

“It appears that the Cubans got more than the U.S. did, which is I think in general the pattern since the negotiations began,” observed Duany, who has been studying relations between the two countries for more than 30 years.

The policy, which has been in effect for more than 20 years, allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay in the country and pursue residency a year and a day later. Migrants who are interdicted at sea are returned back to Cuba.

“It’s very surprising. It is a big change and it will have quite a lot of impact on the next administration in terms of its policies toward Cuba,” Duany told Patch.

For Cuba, the deal brings greater respect on the world stage.

“What I think they have been pursuing very relentlessly was the elimination of these special conditions and obstacles to full diplomatic and trade relations with the U.S. on an equal basis,” reflected Duany, whose organization has hosted dozens of Cuban scholars, writers, and artists that give lectures, work collaboratively with faculty and conduct research while also offering an undergraduate certificate program in Cuban and Cuban-American studies.

“I think that’s an important aspect of the Cuban perspective, which is that they want to be treated just like any other country in the world and not like a third-world country that’s very close to the U.S,” he said.

Cuba also wins by eliminating the optics associated with the wet-foot, dry-foot policy. “In general, it doesn’t look good for a country to have something like 20 percent of its population trying to escape if you look at the numbers,” Duany said. “There are about two million people of Cuban origin living in the U.S. compared to 11 million back on the island.”

Continue reading HERE.

Castro dictatorship unleashes a wave of violent repression in Cuba to send a message to Donald Trump

Cuba’s murderously repressive Castro regime wants to send a message to President-Elect Donald Trump that regardless of what he does with U.S.-Cuba policy, they have no intention of changing. It is tactic that paid off in spades when they were dealing with a servile Obama, but it remains to be seen how well it will work with a Donald Trump.

Karina Martin in PanAm Post:

Castro Regime Unleashes Wave of Repression to Send Message to Trump

Raul Castro has aggressively targeted the political opposition in recent weeks (Ivan Hdez Carrillo).
Raul Castro has aggressively targeted the political opposition in recent weeks (Ivan Hdez Carrillo).

On Wednesday, January 11, the Cuban Democratic Directory, the organization that works to promote democracy in Cuba, denounced an “increase in the repression of the Castro regime in Cuba.”

“Following Fidel’s death, Raul Castro’s regime needs to increase levels of repression in order to maintain power,” said José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu).

“The increase in repression is due to several causes, including a message that the government wants to send in the last days of the Obama administration, in order to make clear to Trump that they do not care about his change of policy that he has announced towards Cuba,” Ferrer continued.

Several media outlets have reported a series of arrests that have been taking place throughout the country.

Martí Noticias has reported a “wave of arrests” against activists of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), who have been accused of “public disorder” and for allegedly spray-painting graffiti in downtown areas of the city of Santiago de Cuba, the main headquarters of the opposition organization.

“They know people are tired of the same thing. When in April we mobilized more than 1,000 people, the political police told us that we would never do anything like this again,” added Ferrer, after what happened in recent days on the island.

On Tuesday, January 10, the regime replaced the late interior minister Carlos Fernández Godín, with Vice Admiral Julio Cesar Gandarilla.

“With Godín the repression was considerable, although it must be said that in Cuba a minister can not do anything without Raul Castro authorizing it. The policy of “chaos” that Godín championed will continue with Gandarilla. We will have more repression as the social discontent increases,” said the leader of the Unpacu.

The publisher of the magazine Convivencia, Karina Gálvez, had her home broken into and sealed.

Gálvez, 48, is currently in custody for alleged tax evasion.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate and chairman of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, was arrested upon leaving his home and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Human rights activist Maydolis Leiva Portelles also reported that her three children (Anairis Miranda Leiva, Adairis Miranda Leiva, and Fidel Manuel Batista Leiva) had been arbitrarily arrested since November 27, 2016.

Opposition activist Martha Beatriz Roque was arrested when she tried to attend the spreading of the ashes of the recently deceased dissident Felix Antonio Bonne Carcassés.

Other repression has occurred throughout the island. In spite of the American thaw, and Trump’s threats to take a hard line with the regime, they are continuing with their old ways.

Sources: Cubanet, La Estrella

Reports from Cuba: Goodbye to illusion and spontaneity in Cuba

By Ivan Garcia in Translating Cuba:

Goodbye to Illusion and Spontaneity in Cuba

wild flowers havana balcony

The sun’s rays were not yet peeking over the horizon, when Danier, 10, a fifth grade student at an elementary school in southeast Havana, with a small backpack and two plastic bottles of frozen water, went with his parents to the Plaza of the Revolution to participate in the “march of the fighting people” and afterwards to see the military parade for the 60th anniversary of  the founding of the armed forces.

Seated on the curb of the sidewalk on Paseo Street, they breakfasted on egg sandwiches that were already dry and a glass of soda pop. Although the authorities have not offered an estimate of the people who attended, to Danier it seemed like hundreds of thousands. “I imagined a military parade with tanks, rockets, airplanes and helicopters. But there were only soldiers, militia members and people,” he says, disappointed.

His parents, like the rest of those present, were not summoned at gunpoint or forced to attend. The methods of Raul Castro’s Cuba are more subtle. “Before leaving for the end of year holidays, the teacher at my son’s school asked them to write a composition about their experience at the parade. If we hadn’t brought him, there was no way he could have done the assignment,” says Julian, the kid’s father.

Julian was not forced to attend, nor did he go out of loyalty to Fidel Castro. He probably would have preferred to sleep in until nine in the morning. “But I have an important job at Labiofam. And if I didn’t attend without a good reason, you know how it is,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.

Less and less, businesses and schools pressure their employees and students to attend public gatherings. In the years of Soviet Cuba, listening to all of a four-and-a-half hour speech by Fidel Castro, cutting cane, or participating in voluntary work, as well as receiving a diploma or a tin medal, was all worth it to enter your name into the state drawing for when they doled out fans, washing machines, Russian televisions or a microbrigade-built apartment.

Now the handouts are other things. A snack, in the case of the state phone company, ETECSA, which later you can sell for twenty Cuban pesos, or people go simply because an important share of Cubans act like zombies and prefer to fake support for the government, which in the last twenty-seven years has bot been able to benefit the workers.

In Cuba, the people who work for the state without stealing or embezzling are, along with pensioners, those who live the worst. Deadly inflation makes their ridiculous salaries disappear when they buy a string of onions and ten pounds of pork.

But on the island, the Revolutionary symbols still weigh heavily. The official media cling to them to camouflage the disaster. Celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas is considered a ’petty bourgeois’ custom. There is only room for the olive-green narrative.

Read more

A response to Obama’s Cuba immigration policy change: The president’s shameful legacy

Our good friend John Suarez responds to President Obama’s drastic change in Cuban immigration policy.

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Response to President Obama’s Statement on Cuban Immigration Policy

Obama’s shameful legacy in Cuba

They come not seeking the American dream but fleeing the Cuban nightmare

On December 17, 2014 when President Obama announced his new Cuba policy I wrote that Obama’s legacy would be one of normalizing relations with an abnormal regime. Over the course of eight years the marginalization of dissidents would result in the extrajudicial deaths of high profile dissidents such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and escalating violence against Cubans unhappy with the dictatorship. The end result, not surprisingly, is another Cuban exodus. We’d seen this before with President Carter and President Clinton, but the Obama Administration has gone further ironically going along with discrimination against Cuban Americans until it became an embarrassment in the media this past year.

The Office of the Press Secretary at The White House on January 12, 2017 released a “Statement by the President on Cuban Immigration Policy” that does two concrete things further restricts the Cuban Adjustment Act and ends the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.

Once again the Obama administration secretly negotiated with the Castro regime and did not consult with Congress in restricting the Cuban Adjustment Act, which is US law. This is the second time that it has happened. From 1966 until 1995 The Cuban Adjustment meant that if a Cuban touched US territorial waters the Coast Guard would pick them up and take them to shore and they would obtain residency. Bill Clinton in 1995 reinterpreted the law to mean that Cubans had to touch land (dry feet) or be deported if caught in the water (wet feet). Now Obama has re-interpreted the law a step further saying that he will deport all Cubans who arrive in the US without a visa. This is a narrower interpretation of the law by the Executive branch without consulting with Congress.

Cubans, despite the rhetoric, do not have a special privilege but rather special circumstances that led to the Cuban Adjustment Act that unfortunately are not historically unique. The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act was not the first such measure, the Hungarian Escape Act of 1958 granted Hungarians refugee status predates it by eight years. Nor was it the last, the Indochina Migration and Refugee Act of 1975 granted refugees from the conflict in South East Asia special status.

The Castro regime has long standing demands that both be repealed and this is the latest round of concessions to the dictatorship that will harm Cubans and will create chaos in South Florida because Cubans will continue to flee and go underground to avoid being deported to Castro’s Cuba.

Continue reading HERE.

End of ‘wet foot, dry foot’ elicits mixed feelings among Cuban Americans

Cuban Surrealism

The news yesterday of Obama’s decision to suddenly end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cuban refugees and effectively shutting the door to all Cubans fleeing to the U.S. elicited mixed feelings among us Cuban Americans. On the one hand, many of us have grown quite weary of Cubans who arrive here claiming political asylum, receive resident alien status on day 366 in the U.S., and then immediately embark on a two-week vacation to Cuba. On the other hand, Cuba is a horrid and oppressive place to live and for many Cubans, the Cuban Adjustment Act was the only hope they ever had of escaping the repression and violence of the apartheid Castro dictatorship and realizing the dream of living in freedom. Most disturbing, however, is how Obama’s decision yesterday also ended the Cuban doctor asylum program. For these Cubans, who were effectively being rented out to foreign governments as slaves of the Castro regime, Obama’s decision eliminates the only viable hope they had of escaping slavery.

There are some who believe Obama’s policy change was a direct response to Cuban Americans voting overwhelmingly for Donald Trump this past November. For a president as petty and petulant as Obama, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that his decision was by some measure motivated by his desire to seek revenge. We will likely never know that for sure, but it is interesting to note that if he indeed was seeking revenge for Cuban Americans rejecting another four years of his failed policies under a Hillary Clinton presidency, his policy announcement yesterday will have little to no effect on the Cuban Americans who rebuffed that prospect. A large number of Cubans who have arrived in the U.S. during Obama’s presidency (and for many years before that) support his policies both domestic and in regards to Cuba. These were the Cubans who if they ever achieved American citizenship, would most likely vote Democrat. So if revenge against Cuban Americans played any part in Obama’s policy-change decision, his pettiness will end up coming back to bite the Democrats in the butt.

There is one thing we do know for sure, however, and that is that this policy change will directly benefit Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship. Like every other policy change the president has made regarding Cuba, it is the Castro regime who reaps the benefits. And that is, for me at least, the most distressing aspect of Obama’s initiatives on Cuba and the Castro regime. Every single policy change benefits the apartheid dictatorship and not a single one benefits Cubans or the U.S.

Regardless of where one may fall on this particular issue, Obama’s appeasement and servility towards the apartheid Castro dictatorship will ultimately be what ends up defining his legacy on Cuba. He will go down in history as not only the first African American president of the United States, but also as the first American president to embrace and support apartheid in Cuba.

NBC News has more on the Cuban American reaction:

End to Cuba Migration Policy Draws Anger, Agreement, Surprise

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s decision to close the open arms it has long had for Cuban migrants surprised many, drawing divided reaction.

Late Thursday afternoon, the administration announced it was eliminating the wet foot, dry foot policy that has allowed tens of thousands of Cubans who arrive on American soil and become legal residents within a year. Eliminating the policies means those who arrive in the future without legal permission can be deported, just like other migrants. Those captured before reaching the U.S., usually aboard rafts or boats in the waters between the two countries, are returned to Cuba or sent to another country.

“This is a very significant move on the part of the president and one that the Cuban government has demanded for decades because of the incentive it provided for Cubans wanting to leave the island,” said Gustavo Arnavat, a former Obama administration appointee.

“For better or worse, one effect, among many, is that Cubans will be subject – with respect to entering the U.S. – to the same limitations as other immigrants from Latin America or, for that matter, any other part of the world,” Arnavat said.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., issued a statement in a news release with the title “Have You No Shame, President Obama?”

Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban American, said the decision was another way to “frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and provide yet another shameful concession to Congress.”

He and other Cuban Americans in Congress have been critical of Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba.

Continue reading HERE.

Sen. Marco Rubio denounces Obama for policies sparking migration from Cuba and then slamming door shut

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio makes a very valid point here. The sudden spike in Cubans migrating from the island over the past two years was a direct result of President Obama’s new Cuba policy of embracing the apartheid Castro regime. Nevertheless, after fomenting a migration crises from Cuba, Obama suddenly decides to slam shut the door.

Via NBC6 in Miami:

Sen. Marco Rubio Slams Reversal of ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Policy

Florida Senator Marco Rubio sharply criticized the Obama Administration’s decision to end the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy. The move, announced Thursday, eliminates the preferential treatment of Cuban migrants.

Rubio slammed President Obama’s Cuba policy saying it has contributed to the rise in Cuban migration since 2014.

The Republican admitted that changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act were needed, but argued that “we must work to ensure that Cubans who arrive here to escape political persecution are not summarily returned to the regime.” The senator has been a staunch opponent of Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Havana.

He also echoed the sentiments of Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who opposed the elimination of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. The program allowed Cuban doctors to seek asylum in the U.S. “For decades, the Castro regime has forced thousands of doctors to go abroad as a tool of its foreign policy,” said Sen. Rubio.

The Florida Republican said he has discussed the issue with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and is looking forward to the new administration’s commitment to repeal the Obama Cuba policy.

Cuban American lawmakers react to Obama’s ‘wet foot, dry foot’ concession to Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship

ros-lehtinen mario db menendez

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):

“Castro uses refugees as pawns to get more concessions from Washington so there is no reason to do away with the Cuban medical doctor program, which is a foolhardy concession to a regime that sends its doctors to foreign nations in a modern-day indentured servitude. The repeal of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was done because that’s what the Cuban dictatorship wanted and the White House caved to what Castro wants, instead of standing up for U.S. democratic values and seeking the return of fugitives from U.S. justice like Joanne Chesimard or seeking compensation for U.S. citizens for their confiscated properties. In another bad deal by the Obama administration, it has traded wet foot/dry foot for the elimination of an important program which was undermining the Castro regime by providing an outlet for Cuban doctors to seek freedom from forced labor which only benefits an oppressive regime.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL):

“With just eight days left in his administration, President Obama has found one more way to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and provide yet another shameful concession to the Castro regime.  Under President Obama’s misguided view, after having removed the Castro regime from the state sponsor of terror list and granting diplomatic recognition, the next logical step is denying oppressed Cubans the presumption of political asylum.

“Since 1966, the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act has provided a lifeline to generations of Cubans fleeing oppression.  Many made the treacherous journey to begin their lives anew in freedom, and others perished trying to escape.  In addition, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program provided a way for doctors forced to work under inhumane conditions for paltry salaries in foreign lands to escape their servitude.

“President Obama’s policy toward the Castro regime has not improved human rights or increased liberty on the island.  To the contrary, documented political arrests reached close to 10,000 in 2016 as renowned activists such as Berta Soler, Danilo Maldonado Machado “El Sexto,” and labor activists including Ivan Carrillo Hernandez suffered brutal arrests just in the past few weeks.  El Sexto remains in prison today and his American lawyer, Kim Motley, was harassed and interrogated while in Cuba simply for representing him.  Cubans are leaving the island in record numbers, and many of the 53 who were released as part of the Obama-Castro deal were subsequently rearrested.

“President Obama’s numerous concessions and extension of diplomatic recognition to the murderous Castro regime does not constitute an achievement.  To the contrary, his policy has been a succession of betrayals of America’s longstanding commitment to human rights and freedom, and a betrayal of the Cuban people who have suffered under oppression for far too long.  This last act of diminishing lifelines to Cubans languishing in totalitarianism is one final despicable betrayal of a people who deserve better from an American president.”

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ):

“As a beacon of light for those fleeing persecution and oppression, the United States has a rich history of creating programs specifically designed to provide a safe haven and refuge for those who truly need it. Throughout their murderous reign, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled from the Castros’ regime seeking safe haven in the United States. Those who further risked their lives by sea and reached our shores have been afforded the opportunity to expedite their claims to U.S. citizenship.

“These policies reflect our commitment to the values of liberty and democracy. We should never deny a Cuban refugee fleeing a brutal regime entry into the United States. We must remind ourselves every day of the continued oppression and human suffering that is happening – not only halfway around the world, but just 90 miles off our shores. The ongoing repressive behavior of the Cuban regime still haunts our hemisphere today.

“The fact is the recent ill-conceived changes in American policy towards Cuba have rewarded the regime with an economic lifeline while leaving every day Cubans less hopeful about their futures under a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.  And while more needs to be done to prevent the small universe arriving from Cuba who may seek to exploit the privileges and freedoms that come with the Wet-Foot Dry-Foot policy, those few actors should not destroy our efforts to protect the many who are forced to flee persecution.

“To be sure, today’s announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people.

“Congress was not consulted prior to this abrupt policy announcement with just nine days left in this administration. The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”

BREAKING NEWS: Obama ends ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy for refugees fleeing apartheid Cuba

balseros-cubanos-2

In yet another presidential directive on Cuba just days before he leaves office, the AP is reporting that President Obama has scrapped the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cuban refugees fleeing the apartheid Castro dictatorship. The policy, originally put in place by President Clinton, granted automatic asylum to refugees who made it onto land in the U.S. while those intercepted at sea are returned to communist Cuba.

As soon as more details become available, we will keep you all updated.

Miami’s Local 10 has the AP report:

Obama administration scraps ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy for Cubans

Move likely marks last major change to US-Cuba policy before Obama leaves office

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is ending the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the United States without visas.

That’s according to a senior administration official, who said the policy change was effective immediately.

The official said the U.S. and Cuba have spent several months negotiating the change, including an agreement from Cuba to allow those turned away from the U.S. to return.

The move comes about a week before President Barack Obama leaves office and is likely the last major change he will make to his overhaul of the U.S. relationship with Cuba.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to detail the policy ahead of an official announcement.

See more HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Why doesn’t foreign investment work in Cuba?

By Dimas Castellanos in Diario de Cuba:

Why doesn’t foreign investment work in Cuba?

Minister of Economics and Planning Ricardo Cabrisas.
Minister of Economics and Planning Ricardo Cabrisas.

In 2007, after 48 years of revolutionary power, productive inefficiency had reduced state-controlled lands into areas overrun with marabou, while food prices were rising on the international market. In view of this, General Raúl Castro proposed to “change everything that must be changed.” Five years later, in May 2013, the vice-president of the State Council, Marino Murillo Jorge, acknowledged that “the measures which for decades have been implemented to manage the land have not led to the necessary increase in production.”

This inefficiency is reflected in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which declined steadily for years, down to around 1% during the first half of 2016, falling another 0.9% at year’s end. That is, Cuba enters 2017 in recession, or with negative growth. The result places on the table the need for foreign investment, from which no nation can escape, and much less an underdeveloped country in a state of crisis.

In 1982 Decree Law No. 50 was issued for foreign investment, at a time when Soviet subsidies made it possible to maintain a hostile attitude towards investors from other parts of the world. The blow dealt by the disappearance of the Soviet Union was necessary for the Government to enact Law 77 in 1995, but this legislation was burdened with restrictions, devoid of guarantees, and entailed the mistreatment of investors. For these reasons, of the 400 ventures that were operating in 2002, half left the country. Despite the negative results, it was not until the manifestation of investors’ disinterest in the Special Development Area of Mariel that it was repealed.

Law 118, enacted in March 2014, though more flexible than its predecessor, has also proved insufficient. According to Cuban authorities, the country needs sustained GDP growth of 5 to 7%. To achieve rates of accumulation and investment of no less than 25% are required, which requires an annual investment flow of 2 to 2.5 billion dollars. The only possibility of achieving this goal under current conditions involves implementing, among other things, the following measures:

1- Allowing Cubans, both those who live on the Island and those who reside abroad, to participate as investors.

2- To recognize the social function of ownershiplk and private property. And eradicate the concept of not allowing its concentration in legal persons or individuals, whose sole purpose is to prevent Cubans from acting as the subjects of economic processes.

3- Allow Cubans to engage in any and all productive private activities or services, and furnish them with legal personality.

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