Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the reestablishment of embassies following the historic December announcement that they would move to restore ties after a half-century of animosity.
For Obama, ending the U.S. freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the U.S. embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective.
The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter ahead of the president.
The White House said Obama will deliver a statement on Cuba from the Rose Garden on Wednesday morning. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Vienna for nuclear negotiations with Iran, is also expected to speak about the embassy openings.
Since the late 1970s, the United States and Cuba have operated diplomatic missions called interests sections in each other's capitals. The missions are technically under the protection of Switzerland, and do not enjoy the same status as full embassies.
While the opening of embassies marks a major milestone in the thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, significant issues remain as the countries look to normalize relations. Among them: talks on human rights; demands for compensation for confiscated American properties in Havana and damages to Cuba from the embargo; and possible cooperation on law enforcement, including the touchy topic of U.S. fugitives sheltering in Havana.
Obama also wants Congress to repeal the economic embargo on Cuba, though he faces resistance from Republicans and some Democrats. Those opposed to normalizing relations with Cuba say Obama is prematurely rewarding a regime that engages in serious human rights abuses.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said in a statement that opening a U.S. embassy in Cuba ``will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.''
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the opening of embassies was part of the administration's ``common sense approach to Cuba.'' However, he called for Cuba to recognize that it is out of step with the international community on human rights.
``Arrests and detentions of dissidents must cease and genuine political pluralism is long overdue,'' Cardin said in a statement.
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met in April during a regional summit, marking the first time U.S. and Cuban leaders have met in person since 1958.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Assessing Cuba’s Appetite for ICT Transformation
Exclusive research findings from Nearshore Americas recently presented at TIA’s Network of the Future.
Press Release, June 03, 2015
Nearshore Americas Managing Director Kirk Laughlin unveiled details of a major new Cuba ICT research study during the Telecommunications Industry Association’s ‘Network of the Future’ Conference, June 2-4, in Dallas, Texas.
As one of the least developed telecommunications markets in the world, Cuba is poised to enter into a period of ICT transformation – networking a population that is hungry to utilize the Internet and digital tools as a means to propel long-awaited economic prosperity.
Over the past 20 years, a gap has emerged between the country’s fixed-line telephone network and the level of Internet penetration. For example, the island of 11.2 million inhabitants currently has more than 1.2 million fixed-line telephones, but only 3.4% of Cubans have home Internet access. Despite the fact that Cuba’s state-run telecommunications monopoly began installing a fiber optic backbone across the eastern side of the island before 2003, and a submarine fiber optic cable from Venezuela to Cuba has been active since 2011, a large share of Cuba’s global Internet traffic continues to be transmitted by satellite. Unsurprisingly, the cost of accessing the World Wide Web is high in Cuba, and connection speeds are typically slow.
When Cubans do get online, their experience is fundamentally different than that enjoyed by web users elsewhere. Instead of a global Internet, many Cubans only have access to domestic intranet that allows them to check email, browse a stripped down encyclopedia inspired by Wikipedia, and navigate among a limited number of websites.
In an exclusive survey of more than 300 ICT professionals in Cuba conducted in May by Nearshore Americas, more than 45% of respondents reported accessing the Internet from work at a connection speed of 1Mbit or less; only 5% reported having a legally-authorized ADSL connection at their home. Predictably under these conditions, Internet usage on the island slows to a crawl on nights and weekends.
The Nearshore Americas report specifies why Cuba’s ICT market is poised for rapid modernization. The island possesses a large pool of IT talent, boasting a surprisingly wide range of technology and computing skill sets. Nearshore Americas’ survey results indicate the island has between 35,000-50,000 ICT professionals. Groups of software developers and tech entrepreneurs, many based in Cuba and some living abroad (thanks to looser restrictions on foreign travel enacted in 2013), are already hashing out plans to capitalize on a more open Internet in Cuba. Evidence is mounting that Cuba will become a viable hub for global technology and software export services during the next two to three years.
The effects of the December 2014 announcement to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba—the most significant international development involving Cuba in a generation—are just beginning to be felt. The White House’s plan will ease the sale of computer software and telecommunications equipment to Cuba.
As a result of these trends, pressure is mounting on Cuba’s telecom operator, ETECSA. Until now ETECSA has been a sacred cow of the Ministry of Communications, with a minority stake owned by a Cuban military contractor and banking entity. However, with market reforms underway, mobile subscriptions rising fast, and the end of the U.S. embargo removing a convenient foil, many at the Ministry of Communications recognize that ETECSA needs to expand Internet access and lower costs.
Given the pent-up nature of Cuba’s ICT market—the rare combination of low connectivity existing alongside significant IT talent—the country is poised to modernize faster than many expect.
To learn more about Cuba’s ICT outlook, visit TIA’s 'Network of the Future’ and attend the Cuba policy breakfast meeting on June 4, 2015. In addition, Nearshore Americas’ analysts are available for briefings on the Cuba report – which will be available for purchase in early July at: http://www.nearshoreamericas.com
Contact: Sean Goforth
+1 (910) 512-7450
Monday, June 15, 2015
THE NEW CUBA CONFERENCE HOSTS ITS FIRST GATHERING ON JUNE 17, 2015 AT THE STANDARD, HIGH LINE NYC, PRESENTED BY SUGAR BARONS AND STANDARD TALKS.
On December 17, 2014, The United States and Cuba forever changed as the world witnessed each president speak to their own country on national television announcing a shared desire for restored relations. The symbolic day marked a milestone for Cuba/US relations after half a century of icy relations. What does this mean for our creative communities who have been mostly forbidden to co-create together for 55 years? The first assembly of "The New Cuba" brain trust will be a conference that takes place on June 17, 2015 in New York City at The Standard, High Line.
The future of Cuba is here, and the gathering will discuss how Americans can help create a thoughtful transition under Obama’s new regulations. Panelists will speak on the merits of what this means within their respective industry as well as how to create more cultural exchanges - all within the legal parameters that surround the new landscape.
The intent is to share stories and empower Cuban civil society to maintain its integrity, while educating American businesses on the philosophical and business challenges of working within Cuba’s structure. The goal is to remain forward thinking and altruistic in this new era of reconciliation.
June 17, 2015
9:30 - 5:30 pm
The Standard High Line
High Line Room
848 Washington St, New York
Agenda is here.
Speaker bios here.
WHO IS INVITED
This conference is designed for early adopters who would like to be one step ahead of the curve as the United States eases the Trade Embargo with Cuba. Attendees will be decision-makers in the creative field that have the desire to fund and foster Cuba’s creative talent. Attendees also wish to gain a better understanding of the nations cultural climate during this momentous shift in relations.
Entrepreneurs | Art Collectors | Brand Directors | Company Owners | Gallerists | Curators | Record Labels | Musicians | Music Producers | Event Producers | Film Studios | Film Producers | Filmmakers | Investors | Journalists | Cuban-Philes | Cubanólogos | Cubanistas | Cuentapropistas | & even Comunistas!
Panel 1: Trends in the Cuban economy in light of the new U.S.-Cuba context
Moderator: Ted Piccone
Speakers: Stefan Selig, Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce; Juan Triana Cordoví, Professor of Economics, University of Havana; and Archibald Ritter, Distinguished Research Professor, Carleton University
Panel 2: Financing Cuba’s growth, development, and trade
Moderator: Barbara Kotschwar
Speakers: Yaima Doimeadios, Professor, University of Havana; Richard Feinberg, Brookings; Saira Pons, Professor, Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, University of Havana; and Germán Ríos, Director, Strategic Affairs, CAF Development Bank
Panel 3: Next steps for Cuba’s emerging private Sector – Cuentapropistas and cooperatives
Moderator: Richard Feinberg
Speakers: Rafael Betancourt, Havánada Consulting; Ted Henken, Professor, Baruch College; and John McIntire, Chairman, Cuba Emprende Foundation
Panel 4: A New stage in foreign direct investment
Moderator: Harold Trinkunas
Speakers: Mark Entwistle, Founding Partner, Acasta Capital; Omar Everleny, Professor, Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, University of Havana; José María Vinals Camallonga, Partner and Director of International Operations, Lupicinio International Law Firm; and Augusto Maxwell, Partner, Akerman, LLP
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Check out @14ymedio today for a brief article and this helpful info-graphic of cuentapropismo (aka, "on-your-ownism") in #Cuba:
*17% also work for state
The article also reports the top five occupations in terms of numbers of licenses issued remain:
(1) food service (gastronomía)
(2) transport of passengers and cargo
(3) bed-and-breakfasts (casas particulares)
(4) telecommunications agents, and
(5) contracted workers
My question: Has the percentage of cuentapropistas with a college degree risen from the very low 7% previously reported? An important issue given Cuba's highly educated (but woefully underemployed) workforce.
Friday, June 12, 2015
¿Qué pasa con la prensa cubana?
Carta de La Habana
Por John Dinges* 6/12/2015
CARETAS, REVISTA PERUANA
Balance y perspectiva de la prensa cubana en tiempos de acercamiento entre EE.UU. y la isla.
¿Qué pasa con la prensa cubana?
Es demasiado fácil empezar—y terminar—esta conversación con que la prensa y los medios son órganos de un sistema unipartidista, propagandistas de la dictadura cubana. Es verdad, pero verdad a medias.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
reconciliacioncubana publicó:"!FELICIDADES! Reunido en Oviedo el Jurado del Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras 2015.. acueda conceder el Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras 2015 al escritor cubano Leonardo Padura. Fundamentacion de la decision: Es un autor arraigado en"
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Reunido en Oviedo el Jurado del Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras 2015.. acueda conceder el Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras 2015 al escritor cubano Leonardo Padura.
Fundamentacion de la decision:
Es un autor arraigado en su tradición y decididamente contemporáneo; un indagador de lo culto y lo popular; un intelectual independiente, de firme temperamento ético.
En la vasta obra de Leonardo Padura, que recorre todos los géneros de la prosa, destaca un recurso que caracteriza su voluntad literaria: el interés por escuchar las voces populares y las historias perdidas de los otros.
Desde la ficción, Padura muestra los desafíos y los límites en la búsqueda de la verdad. Una impecable exploración de la historia y sus modos de contarla.
Su obra es una soberbia aventura del diálogo y la libertad.
Oviedo, 10 de junio de 2015
Declaración de Leonardo Padura tras la concesión del Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras 2015
"Todavía muy conmovido, pero enormemente feliz por la noticia de que he recibido el prestigiosísimo Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras del año 2015, quiero expresar a la Fundación Princesa de Asturias mi enorme gratitud por este gran honor que me conceden y que asumo como reconocimiento a tantos años de trabajo, llenos de las incertidumbres, las dudas, los temores de la creación. También al jurado, que generosamente me ha escogido para recibir esta prestigiosa distinción que me llena de satisfacción y orgullo como ser humano, como escritor, como cubano… Mil gracias".
La Habana, 10 de junio de 2015
S.M. el Rey Don Felipe VI ha sido Presidente de Honor de la Fundación desde su constitución en 1980. Tras su proclamación como Rey de España el 19 de junio de 2014, S.A.R. Doña Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, Princesa de Asturias, ostenta la Presidencia de Honor de esta institución, que convoca anualmente los Premios Princesa de Asturias.
Fuente: Fundacion Princesa de Asturias
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Thursday, June 4, 2015
First, I participated in the symposium "Rethinking Cuba: New Opportunities for Development," (Spanish language audio available now - see below - and dual language video coming soon) hosted by Ted Piccone and Richard Feinberg at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and kicked off by an excellent presentation by U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce and International Trade, Stefan Selig. I was honored to hear a macro-analysis of the Cuban economy by my co-author of "Entrepreneurial Cuba," Arch Ritter, as well as share the stage with John McIntire (Chairman of the Cuba Emprende Foundation) and Rafael Betancourt (of Havanada Consulting).
There were also insightful presentations by leading Cuban economists from the University of Havana's Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy (CEEC) including Juan Triana, Yaima Doimeadios, Saira Pons, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, and Ricardo Torres, along with other luminaries such as Jorge Piñon (energy specialist at the University of Texas at Austin), Mark Entwistle (Founding Partner of Acasta Capital and former Canadian Ambassador to Cuba), Cuban-American lawyer Augusto Maxwell (Partner Ackermann, LLP and legal advisor to Airbnb in Cuba) and Barbara Kotschwar (Research Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics).
View more details on Brookings.edu
Then, on Wednesday afternoon I joined Carlos Seiglie, Ernesto Hernández-Catá, and Mario González-Corzo (all of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, ASCE) together with special guests Armando Nova and Lázaro Peña (researchers at Havana's Center for the Study of the International Economy, CEEI) at the Rutgers University School of Law for a more intimate 30-person round table discussion where we each of us presented our work. This was especially innovative and gratifying as it was a chance for Cuban and Cuban-American economists to exchange their analysis of the recent changes in the Cuban economy (together with this Yuma).
Finally, today in my summer class at Baruch College on "Cuban Culture and Society," I had different students read and give summary presentations of each of the essays in the "Implications of Normalization" series recently published by American University and the Social Science Research council. Of course, I presented my own essay co-authored with Gabriel Vignoli as summarized below: