Russian oil exports to Cuba were up 81% in the first few months of 2017, and a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft will likely mean an even stronger economic relationship between the two countries in the future. The last time that Cuba and Russia enjoyed such a strong relationship was during the Cold War, when nuclear tensions between the United States and Russia had the world on edge. William M. LeoGrande, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. and expert in Latin American affairs, spoke about these renewed ties and what might lie ahead for Cuba.
The first time the term “Cuban exile” came into the modern lexicon was after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro. Many exiles thought that the new government would not last and left behind their valuables, which ended up being confiscated by the Cuban government.
Since then, a steady stream of Cuban exiles has left the island nation; today, there are over 800,000 living abroad, with the majority of those who went to the United States living in Florida. Now, the Cuban government is extending an open hand to Cuban exiles, allowing some to return for the first time in their lives.
Cleveland, Ohio became the latest city to sign a port agreement with Cuba this week, making it the first agreement since the US State Department’s decision to remove American diplomats from Cuba and request the removal of Cuban diplomats from Washington.
The so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by the Darrell McNail, president of the Board of Administration of the port of Cleveland and Captain José Joaquín Prado, general director of Cuba’s Maritime Administration in Havana last Friday.
Cuba has enjoyed a significant trade relationship with China since the 1990s, though their relationship is a historical one as well. When Cuba declared its independence from the United States in 1902, China’s Qing dynasty quickly recognized Cuba as a sovereign state after its secession in the wake of the Spanish-American war.
Although Cuba and China were not aligned during the Cold War due to Cuba’s alliance with Russia, relations improved after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the point where in 2014, bilateral trade between the two nations equaled about $1.6 billion. Chinese goods in the transportation and energy have contributed to the revitalization of those industries in Cuba. Now, after Irma, China has doubled down in its support of the island nation.
Horace Clemmons and Cuban-born business partner Saul Berenthal, owners of tractor manufacturing company CleBer LLC, have been eyeing a deal in Cuba since U.S. relations with Cuba finally eased back in 2014. Eased relations, paired with the Cuban government returning unused state-owned land to the people in hopes of stimulating growth in the agricultural industry back in 2008, have revealed to the two entrepreneurs an opportunity they are still pushing for after 3 years.
Manufacturing has been a shrinking industry in the United States since the end of World War II, when the country’s galvanized work force undertook one of the greatest military industrial efforts in history. Although manufacturing still accounts for a solid twelve percent of the United States’ GDP, today’s manufacturing industry is a far cry from the World War II days, due much in part to cheaper labor sources in countries like China and Mexico. But the industry is far from dead, and one company is looking to go where none have gone before – Cuba.
The 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.
President 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.
“Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail,” said Castro.
This was the first time he has commented on Trump’s June announcement of a rollback of some of the changes established by former President Barack Obama.
Travel companies that organize trips to Cuba for American travelers have reportedly been receiving a lot of questions about President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy and how the elimination of “people to people” tours to the island and the ban on dealings with military-controlled businesses will affect their travels.
“They say they have been interested in traveling to Cuba and they want to book right now,” Tom Popper, president of InsightCuba, told the Miami Herald. His company organizes tours and plans itineraries for groups traveling to Cuba.
U.S. business owners with dealings in Cuba were relieved after President Donald Trump outlined his new Cuba policy last week because it might not have a big impact on their ventures. Some have reportedly paused all business with the island until they see how Trump’s changes will be implemented and what new regulations they will require.
Lawyers who help corporations navigate the regulations and laws imposed by the embargo have been going through every detail of the memorandum Trump signed on June 16 as well as a White House fact sheet and the answers to some frequently-asked questions issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to get a feel of the new policy. That is all the lawyers have to go on until the new rules are written. Trump mandated that the writing process begin by next month.