Cuba has seen many changes in the last few years.  With the slow and steady influx of tourism from the US and a regime change, Cuba is gaining momentum as it turns toward more laissez-faire policies.  On a day-to-day level, these changes in policies have manifested themselves as a healthy crop of privately owned establishments–bars, hotels, and nightclubs are booming as Cuba’s private sector grows.

However, last week saw a brief halt in operations when the government instituted a temporary freeze on new licenses for a few of the more prominent private sector enterprises–room rentals, cafés, and restaurants, to name a few.

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Many think of old Havana of being just that–old, trapped in an era during which the United States (and much of the Western world) cut off contact. For a long time, this notion wasn’t far from the truth, but since the turn of the 20th century, Havana has been changingMany contributing factors, including a loosening of restrictions on small-scale private enterprise by the new regime, has led to a slow and assured blossoming of newness in the city. Continue reading

Cuba-Restaurant-300x200Cuban authorities are reportedly raiding several private restaurants on the island in what appears to be a government crackdown on entrepreneurs transgressing the Castro regime’s definition of free enterprise.

El Litoral, a high-end paladar known for its food and clientele, was the first to get raided by authorities. Officials from the Technical Department of Investigations reportedly carted off tables, chairs, plates, sound systems, and bottles of imported liquor.

Neighboring businesses told news sources that the owner of El Litoral got in trouble because of money laundering allegations. The liquor the restaurant served didn’t come from official government sources and some of its employees were allegedly being paid off the books. Servers also reportedly told clients that they accept dollars if they don’t have CUCs (Cuban convertible pesos). U.S. dollars are not legal tender on the island.

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Nuevo_Laredo_Cubans-300x216Reports show that there are more than 1,300 Cuban migrants who are currently being held in detention centers across the U.S. awaiting trial. All of them traveled to the U.S. seeking freedom, but the immigration policy that allowed them to remain in the country was ended by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Cuban migrants seeking residency were welcomed in the U.S. as political refugees under the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy. Obama eliminated the policy on January 12, just days before his presidency ended.

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Cuban-Travel-New-Rules-300x200Tourism has reportedly been a bright spot for the Cuban economy during the first half of 2017, pulling in 23 percent more tourists than the same period last year. But other areas of the island nation’s economy have foundered and failed to meet projected targets, Cuban officials have revealed.

The Cuban economy experienced a 1.1 percent growth during the first half of the year thanks to the tourism, agriculture, and construction sectors. Other economic sectors have reportedly performed poorly as the island bounced back from a recession and faced difficulties securing trade credits.

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article-2640400-1E3C00BB00000578-573_634x408-300x193Cuba’s Disco Ayala is housed in a space that has been around for many thousands of years. You would have found a different kind of club there ten thousand years ago. That’s right: older than the Pyramid of Giza and the city of Babylon, the Disco Ayala is located in a natural cave formation one hundred feet below the surface of the earth in Trinidad, Cuba.

At party time, the cave’s dreary interior is lit up with the neon lights of a New York City nightclub and disco balls and projector screens hang next to stalactites. Don’t think that just because you’re surrounded by rocks that the Disco is stuck in the stone-age. Everything from top 40 hits to classic funk and hip hop are echo off the stony walls every night as throngs of energetic youth dance the night away.

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CubanTravelNewRules-300x200The U.S. Treasury Department issued new clarifications on Tuesday on measures that will take effect for business, remittances, and travel with Cuba following President Donald Trump’s June announcement regarding U.S. policy towards the island.

The document, released by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), includes answers to 14 frequently asked questions from business owners, travelers, and the general public about the changes Trump proclaimed in Miami on June 16.

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China-Cuba-Cigar-Deal-300x200China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC) and Cuban cigar producer Habanos S.A. signed an agreement in Havana over the weekend with the aim of increasing Cuba’s cigar exports to China.

Co-heads of Habanos S.A., Luis Sanchez-Harguindey and Inocente Nunez, and CNTC general manager Ling Chengxing signed the agreement on Sunday. Under the agreement, Habanos S.A. will assist China with the production of tobacco products while expanding the sale of its premium products in the Asian market.

Continue reading’Reilly 304 may sound to American readers like a local Gaelic league or an auto-parts store, but in Havana, it means the cutting edge of Cuban mixology. You’ll never forget its address, which doubles as the establishment’s name. Located on a street named for a long-lost Irish general from the Spanish empire, O’Reilly brings the world of hip liquor to the streets of Old Havana.

As with many of the most exciting watering holes in the city, the story of O’Reilly 304 begins with the removal of restrictions on private ownership. It was founded by two brothers in 2013. As soon as it was possible for them to open their ode to avant-garde cocktails, they leapt at the chance. One brother with experience in government run operations, José Carlo, runs the bar. The other, Julio Cesar, travels the country in search of the most delicious produce to feature in their recipes.

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Trump-Signing-Policy-300x214President Donald Trump plans to continue the biannual suspension of the Title III provision of the Helms-Burton Act, sources say. The Act permits the owners of property confiscated in Cuba to sue the Cuban government and foreign governments for using those expropriated holdings.

Since the Helms-Burton Act, formally known as Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, was passed by Congress in 1996, every president has suspended the lawsuit provision in six-month intervals. The ability to waiver the provision was added by President Bill Clinton as a compromise for U.S. allies like Mexico, Canada, and EU countries that feared Title III would open their investments in Cuba to a potential tidal wave of lawsuits in U.S. federal courts by people with prior claims.

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