Seven key points

Although talks between the U.S. and Cuba are in themselves a milestone for two countries which have lacked formal ties for more than 50 years, they only mark the beginning of a much longer and complicated process.

It has been five months since Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced on December 17 their intention to open a new chapter in relations between the United States and Cuba.
After an historic meeting between both leaders at the 7th Summit of the Americas, on May 21, the third round of conversations began in Washington, with the goal of advancing toward the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in both countries,.

Although talks between the U.S. and Cuba are already, in themselves, a milestone for two neighboring countries which have lacked formal ties for more than half a century, they only mark the beginning of a much longer and complicated process.


Cuba and the United States will talk health and law enforcement

HAVANA, Cuba, (acn) Cuba and the United States will soon continue bilateral talks at a technical level particularly on health and law enforcement, Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal announced in Washington at the end of the third round of negotiations to reestablish diplomatic relations.

Vidal, who is the director of the United States Division at the Foreign Ministry and headed the island´s delegation to the talks, said that the issue regarding infectious disease control will be on the agenda of a meeting of health experts who will address measures to counter such conditions increasingly affecting many countries of the world.

At Washington´s Foreign Press Center, Vidal also announced a dialog on law enforcement, which refers to the fight on illegal events. Terrorism, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons are present in the region and raise world concern, so experts consider that cooperation among nations to fight these events is crucial.

Havana and Washington have also addressed other topics, such as civil aviation, human rights, migration fraud, protected marine zones, and nautical charters.

Eastern Air Lines and HavanaAir Charters to provide daily air service to Cuba

MIAMI, FL – Eastern Air Lines Group, Inc and HavanaAir Charters, LLC, have signed today an agreement, to support HavanaAir’s charter operations to Cuba. HavanaAir is the largest provider of passenger traffic to the island, currently operating 65 flights a month to Havana from Miami with additional service to Santa Clara and Camaguey. The partnership will eventually include additional approved US gateway cities.

Eastern will operate the Boeing 737-800 (Next Generation) aircraft, configured with 16 First Class seats and 129 Coach seats in the main cabin on all flights to Cuba.

“We are very pleased to partner with Eastern Air Lines. Eastern earned iconic status in the U.S. airline industry for decades and we are both honored and privileged to partner with their highly experienced management. Our partnership with Eastern will provide an entirely new level of service to Cuba with their Next Generation Boeing aircraft and their commitment to excellent customer service.” said Mark Elias, President and COO of HavanaAir Charters.

“We are excited to partner with HavanaAir Charters. Eastern was formerly the largest provider of air seats in the Cuba market, and with this agreement, Eastern will once again provide more seats to Cuba than any other U.S. carrier. Cuba is and always will be a very important market for Eastern as we grow our airline and we look forward to proving service from additional U.S. gateways along with our home airport of Miami International”, said Ed Wegel, President & CEO of Eastern.

Key Facts:

1. Eastern will operate for HavanaAir twice daily service to Havana and weekly service to Camaguey and Santa Clara.

2. Eastern will support HavanaAir’s existing operations to Cuba with some 65 flights monthly.

3. Eastern and HavanaAir will be launching service from other U.S. gateways within 60 days.

From: TN Global Travel Industry News

Statement from Cuban delegation to talks with U.S.

Statement to the press from Cuba’s delegation to the third round of talks on the reestablishment of diplomatic relation with the United States, released in Washington, May 22, 2015:

The third round of talks between Cuban and U.S delegations on the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations, and the opening of embassies, was held in Washington, on May 21 and 22, 2015.

The Cuban delegation was led by the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ General Director for the United States, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, and the U.S. delegation by the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Roberta S. Jacobson.

Cuba’s representatives recognized the just decision made by President Obama to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, on which the country should never have been placed.

These talks took place after the U.S. government, in compliance with its obligations established by international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, awarded a license to a bank to resume the provision of banking services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. Such a license is required by the financial blockade which remains in effect.

Both delegations agreed to continue the dialogue on aspects related to the functioning of diplomatic missions.

During the round of talks, the Cuban delegation reaffirmed its willingness to address substantive issues on the bilateral agenda, including among others, ending the blockade, which would allow for progress toward normalization of the relations between Cuban and the United States on a foundation of respect, sovereign equality and reciprocity, once diplomatic relations are reestablished.

The meeting was conducted in a respectful and professional environment.

The Cuba Blockade Has Died, but the Embargo Lives On

HAVANA TIMES — Negotiations between Cuba and the United States are making it clear that the financial embargo on the island was also a blockade that placed restrictions on Havana’s relations with other countries around the world and international organizations.

The avalanche of offers of business, credits, investments and partnerships, and the number of politicians and entrepreneurs who have visited the island after December 17 last year, demonstrate that many had not approached Cuba before fearing reprisals from Washington.

And one couldn’t blame them: in 1992, the US approved the Torricelli Act, to prevent the subsidiaries of US companies in third countries from selling anything to Cuba. Four years later, they issued the Helms-Burton Act, which entitles the United States to sue those who make any transactions involving properties nationalized in Cuba.

No one in their right mind could today ignore the collateral effects that this blockade must have had on the island’s economy. How many doors did simple fear close? How much extra money was paid to cover risks? How much of a technological lag did this situation cause?

The fear of doing business with Cuba could be gaged on the basis of the interest that British, French, Spanish, Mexican, South Korean, Canadian and Japanese investors have demonstrated over the last few months, and from the change in attitude seen at the Paris and London Clubs.

The world’s reaction has been of such magnitude that some inattentive colleagues assume that the embargo is over. US entrepreneurs, the only ones invited to the party who are denied a slice of the cake, make no such mistake.


Trade with Cuba is part of Manatee’s history

Jorge Ignacio Fernandez, CEO of Havana Ferries, Jose Ramon Cabanas, head of the Cuban interest section in Washington D.C., Jonathan Fleece, Bob Bartz and Michael Gallen at Bradenton’s Renaissance on 9th for a special luncheon held by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton HeraldTTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM 

More than 125 years ago the Manatee Chamber was created, known then as the Board of Trade. The Manatee County business community had a strong tradition of trade with Cuba. In fact, when Manatee County was created in 1855, local ranchers regularly shipped cattle from the docks on the Manatee River. Local farmers shipped produce to the island of Cuba up until the 1960 Cuban Embargo. I suspect this is why our region’s members and business community have a keen interest in understanding the opportunities on the horizon as the current U.S. administration seeks to normalize relations with Cuba.

Last week, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce hosted Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas at Renaissance on 9th. With nearly 150 guests in attendance, most representing local and regional businesses, Mr. Cabañas led an engaging and informative discussion regarding the obstacles that must be cleared in order to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. He identified the major business interests in his country including tourism, agriculture, and the medical and service industries. He said the increased number of American citizens visiting the country under the newly created “research” category has caused the island to reach its lodging capacity.

Due to the heightened interest in new business opportunities and the Manatee Chamber’s goal of providing our members the most up to date education and support they need to successfully improve their businesses, the Manatee Chamber is planning on hosting a panel discussion in the fall with experts in various fields of Cuban interests. Our intent is not to debate the politics but to educate our members of what the future may bring.

The purpose of the interactive discussion is to further educate our membership on regional business opportunities related to the normalization of trade with Cuba, such as international trade, agriculture, tourism, banking, and travel. The logistics of ferry operations will be included now that Port Manatee has been identified as a preferred port by newly licensed ferry operators. It is important to note the ferry operations considered at Port Manatee would include the transport of both cargo (including new cars) and people to the island of Cuba and elsewhere.

As the Manatee Chamber continues its efforts in building a strong business environment, we are examining the benefits of sending a delegation to Cuba for an up-close and personal look at prospective commercial and economic opportunities.


Ten Hours from Key West to Havana

Ten Hours from Key West to Havana

Wolbem, one of five Hobie Cat-16 catamarans that departed from Key West on Saturday, was the first to cross the finish line at the entry of the Havana Sailing Club, a marina with capacity for 400 yachts.

The winning boat, steered by George Bellenger – who had taken part in the first Havana Challenge race in 2000—, John McCandless and Wil Kinsey, covered the Florida-Havana route in 10 hours.

Although it was originally announced that five boats would sail to Cuba, only three made it. One broke down and wasn’t able to set sail, and another one sank 42 miles away from Havana.

One of the crew members of the sunken boat told OnCuba that the big waves and the strong winds destroyed his vessel in the open sea. Then he had to swim to reach one of the other boats taking part in the race.

For the first time in 50 years, the U.S. government has granted permission for Americans to participate in the Havana Challenge.

The Key West Mayor, Craig Cates, who came joining the competitors, said that his goal is to help consolidate ties with Cuba, as is the wish of the community in South Florida.

Craig, a former boat and car race champion, presided over the welcome ceremony in Cuba, together with the president of the Hemingway International Nautical Club, Commodore Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich.

The American competitors will race the Cubans on Tuesday, will take part in a boat parade on Wednesday, and will return to the United States on Thursday.