One Year of Immigration and Travel Reform and… What Changed?

Terminal 3 at José Martí International Airport

This time she couldn’t enter the terminal to watch him leave. A sign warns that the interior of José Martí International Airport can only be accessed by travelers, not their companions. So she said goodbye at the door. He is the second son who has left since Immigration and Travel Reform was implemented a year ago. For her, like so many Cubans, it’s been a year of goodbyes.

In the first ten months of 2013 some 184,787 people traveled outside the Island. Many of them for the first time. Although the official statements try to deny that people flee the country, more than half of all travelers hadn’t returned as of the end of November. Nor do we need the numbers. It’s enough for each of us to just look around to quantify the absences.

From the personal and family point of view each trip can transform a life. Whether escaping for good from a country where you don’t want to live, learning what exists on the other side, rediscovering relatives or simply some time away from the daily routine. The question is whether the sum of all these individual metamorphoses serves to change a nation. The answer — as with so many things in the world — can be a “yes” and a “no.”

In the case of Cuba, the departures have served, in part, as an escape valve for the dissent. The most rebellious sector of society packed its bags to leave for a short or a long time. The government took advantage of this and also of the material benefits of the journeys, which result in more remittances sent, more imported consumer goods, and more airport taxes collected. The smokestack-free travel industry.

For civil society activists who took international tours, the opportunity was extraordinary. Bringing their voices to places where, before, only officialdom was heard, has already been a good step forward. They have been able to get closer to the topics debated in the world today and this has helped them to modernize their approaches, to better define their civic role and to involve themselves in issues that transcend national frontiers.

During all this time, however, they have refused to let the former prisoners of the Black Spring travel outside the country. Also the number of exiles blocked from entering Cuba has maintained an upward trend. Lamentably, after the huge headlines announcing Decree-Law 302, those dramas did not find sufficient coverage in the international press or organizations.

A good part of the population still can’t afford a passport. For all these Cubans, the Immigration and Travel Reform takes place only in the lives of others, on television screens, or in the pages of newspapers. Coincidentally, this is the same sector that still has not been able to contract for a mobile phone, stay in a hotel, or even peek into the markets for houses and cars.

So 2013 was a mix of suitcases, goodbyes, returns, names added to phone directories, sighs, long lines outside the consulates, reunions, listings of homes for sale to pay for airplane tickets… A year for leaving and a year for staying.

79 thoughts on “One Year of Immigration and Travel Reform and… What Changed?

  1. YES Nick! GRANMA = MIAMI HERALD DEAR, SHOOT THE MESSENGER!! I GET IT!! THANKS FOR REMINDING ALL OF US! NOW, DID AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL GIVE THE MIAMI HERALD SUCH A BAD GRADE AS THEY DID GRANMA AND THE REST OF THE “CUBAN PRESS” DEAR?? CAN YOU PROVIDE A LINK DEAR? AS LUCY RICARDO WOULD SAY “MUCHA GRASA”!!

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CUBA- Amnesty International Publications 2010
    STATE MONOPOLY OF THE MEDIA
    The media is a key arena in which the right to freedom of expression is exercised. It plays a
    critical role in any society, for example raising awareness of human rights and exposing
    human rights violations. The media has the potential to help shape public opinion and to
    monitor and assess the performance of those holding public office at all levels; it is an
    important tool for scrutinizing government practices in all societies no matter their political
    ideology. The absence of an independent media is a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of
    freedom of expression and the adequate review of corrupt and abusive official practices.
    Restrictions on the Cuban media are stringent and pervasive and clearly stop those in the
    country from enjoying their right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to
    seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of
    frontiers.8 The state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, the press, internet
    service providers, and other electronic means of communication.9 According to official
    figures, there are currently 723 publications (406 print and 317 digital), 88 radio stations,
    four national TV channels (two devoted to educational programming), 16 regional TV stations
    and an international TV channel. All are financed and controlled by the government.10 Three
    newspapers provide national coverage: Granma, which is the organ of the Cuban Communist
    Party, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores.
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/005/2010/en/62b9caf8-8407-4a08-90bb-b5e8339634fe/amr250052010en.pdf

  2. Nick,

    It’s been far too long since I’ve responded to your nonsense.

    First, your allusion to “revenge” in your post on January 21, 2014 at 7:36 am is, as usual, wrong.

    Revenge and justice are two completely different things. Look it up. I don’t have time to explain it to you.

    Second, Neutral Observer has obviously gotten way under your thin skin. Instead of calling him “Filth” and hurling baseless and offensive accusations, why don’t you respond to what he says? What are you afraid of?

    Here’s what I think, Nick. You are incapable of doing that. Intellectually, you don’t come close to Neutral Observer, and you know it.

    You undermine your already tenuous credibility here with your patronizing posts. They are not funny, Nick.

  3. And HUMBY!
    Great copy from The Miami Herald…
    More one sided then Granma ??
    ….As one sided as Granma ??

  4. Ha-haa…
    Yes HUMBY!
    Next time the venerable CIA call on me to persuade me to come over to the other side,
    I shall remind them to put your pay-check in the post !!

  5. SEE Nick! THAT’S HOW DOUBLE AGENT SPIES WORK! IT LOOKS LIKE WE BAT FOR BOTH SIDES! BUT WHICH SIDE IS OUR ALIANCES?? HMMM! AND Nick IF YOU TALK TO THE CIA LET THEM KNOW THAT I HAVE YET RECEIVED ANY OF THEIR CHECKS DEAR!

    SOME DAY REAL SOON, THE CUBAN PEOPLE WILL ASK FOR ESPLANATIONS FROM THESE CASTRO BOOTLICKING LEFTIST LATIN AMERICAN LEADERS FOR SUPPORTING THE CASTROFASCISTS AND THEIR THUGS INSTEAD FOR OVER 54 YEARS INSTEAD OF THEM!

    MIAMI HERALD: Latin leaders to applaud Cuba’s dictatorship – by Andres Oppenheimer

    What’s most shameful about Latin American presidents’ scheduled visit to Cuba for a regional summit Tuesday is not that they will visit one of the world’s last family dictatorships, but that they most likely won’t even set foot at a parallel summit that the island’s peaceful opposition plans to hold at the same time.

    Barring last-minute surprises, the 32 Latin American and Caribbean heads of state and government representatives scheduled to attend the Tuesday-Thursday summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana will skip the international diplomatic practice of meeting with opposition leaders or independent civil society groups during their trip to Cuba.

    Asked whether Peña Nieto will meet with Cuban dissidents during his visit, Meade said, “President Peña Nieto will participate in Cuba in an agenda related to the CELAC summit. He has accepted an official visit, and that’s the framework in which it will develop.” Translation: He won’t.

    Organization of American States Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, who is also scheduled to attend the summit as an observer, did not respond at the time of this writing to a call about whether he will meet with opposition leaders.

    Guillermo Fariñas, one of the Cuban opposition leaders planning to attend the counter-summit in Havana, told me in a telephone interview from Cuba earlier this week that Cuba’s secret police has already paid a visit to several dissidents, including blogger Yoanni Sanchez, warning them not to hold the opposition summit.

    “Whether or not Cuba’s repressive regime allows a parallel summit of the peaceful opposition, it will pay a political price for it,” Fariñas told me.

    “If they allow it, the international media will hear from voices other than the official ones, and we will tell them that there’s no democracy in Cuba,” Fariñas said. “And if they don’t allow it, it will show that despite its propaganda efforts claiming that there are changes going on in Cuba, the reality is that there’s a wave of repression.”

    The likelihood that the visiting leaders won’t meet with the opposition makes them “accomplices with the only dictatorship in Latin America,” Fariñas said. “History shows that when countries make goodwill gestures toward this kind of dictatorships, the latter use them to strengthen themselves diplomatically, politically, economically and militarily.”

    “My message for the visiting leaders would be that they shouldn’t make themselves accomplices of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship,” Fariñas concluded. “They should instead side with the Cuban people, so that the government gets the message that it has to change.”

    My opinion: I agree. It’s already a joke that Latin America’s democratically elected presidents have picked the region’s only military dictator — which is what Gen. Raúl Castro is, by any dictionary’s definition — as head of CELAC, even if the group that has among its top goals “promoting democracy’’ in the region.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/22/3886721/andres-oppenheimer-latin-leaders.html

  6. THE CASTROFASCISTS ARE TREMBLING IN THEIR FATIGUES! THEY ARE AFRAID OF A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN! BUT ONE WITH BIG BALLS! AND YES, Simb Sez ! NOW THAT NEWS CAN COME IN AND OUT OF CUBA A BIT EASIER WE ARE FINDING OUT HOW BAD THINGS ARE! BUT IF YOU FIND SOMETHING GOOD PLEASE FEEL TO SHARE!

    LATIN AMERICA HERALD TRIBUNE: Cuban Dissident Says Her Home Is “Under Siege”

    HAVANA – The only woman who was part of the “Group of 75” political prisoners told Efe on Wednesday that she asked a Cuban court to send her back to jail, because she prefers it to the “siege” she says she has been suffering under for months in her home in Havana.

    Marta Beatriz Roque, who was paroled in 2004, said on Monday that she presented a letter to the court asking for the revocation of her parole in the face of the “harassment” she is suffering from neighbors and the police.

    “The situation is simply that I cannot enter or leave my house freely, people who want to come to visit cannot do so. It’s just as if I were in prison with only the difference that instead of a cell I’m in an apartment,” the 68-year-old Roque said.

    The “siege” began in November and there are days on which it is difficult for her to go out to buy food and so she decided to send the letter to the authorities, she said.

    Nevertheless, Roque said Wednesday that, upon coming out of the court on Monday, she was arrested and taken to a police station where a State Security official told her that none of her petitions would be responded to positively.

    She added that the same official told her that the authorities would not intervene in any act of harassment on the part of her neighbors and he stressed that dissidents would not be allowed to meet in her home.

    Thirteen of the 75 dissidents sentenced to prison sentences of 15 or more years in 2003 were released before serving their full sentences and continue to live in Cuba on parole.
    http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=1510530&CategoryId=14510

  7. Hi Simba,
    Nick Sez: I agree with you that there is too much negativity on here.
    I will admit that I sometimes contribute to this negativity myself.
    However, in response to Hank reminding us that it was Martin Luther King Day, I put forward a very positive comment that the USA and Cuba should follow his example of diplomacy and pragmatism and should not look for ‘victory’ and ‘revenge’.
    I included a link to a piece which referred to a historic relaxation of restrictions on freedom of worship on the island that was inspired by Dr.MLK.
    It was not altogether well received.
    I do agree with you that sometimes it is negativity which prevails.

    Wish you a good day too.

  8. Hi HUMBY!
    Re your last post yesterday:
    The plan for re-unification of currency is old news, however it is most interesting to see you establishing yourself as a true RAULISTA…
    which you surely must be if you post an article containing the following quote:

    ‘The complete unification of the currencies is many months, maybe years, away from being fully achieved, but it could well be the policy that defines Raul Castro’s legacy as the reformer of Cuba. If it was once feared that Raul would struggle to fill his brother’s shoes as president, it seems that by promoting prudent and timely economic reforms – which Fidel was so reluctant to do – the younger brother will have carved an even bigger name for himself in modern Cuban history.’

  9. Simb Sez: It’s sort of sad when you realize nearly every comment on this blog is a negative. Is there nothing in this island paradise that can be said that is good? Have a nice day.

  10. Extraordinarily encouraging, Humberto!

    When the cops and the interior agents also participate, we’ll know the tide has changed.

  11. THE PEOPLE, UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! EVEN BY THE CASTROFASCIST CLAN! THE LEFTISTS WONT LIKE THIS! CHECK OUT THE VIDEO LINK AT THE BOTTOM! THE CASTRO CLAN CANNOT DEAL WITH THE 21st CENTURY AGE OF INFORMATION, VIDEOS AND TEX MESSAGING! I JUST FREAKING LOVE IT! THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR STAYING POWER SO LONG YOU OLD BAGS! JE JE JE!

    MIAMI HERALD: Street protest in Cuba draws at least 500, sparks clash with police – by Juan Tamayo
    At least 500 Cubans staged a rare street protest and clash with police in the eastern city of Holguin after municipal authorities confiscated household goods being sold in an open-air market by the island’s nascent private business owners, according to witnesses.

    “This has been something immense. In my 31 years, I never saw anything like this,” said Holguin business owner Wilian Zaldivar Perez, who added that patrons in a restaurant near the protest also threw rocks at the police during the confrontation Tuesday.

    Communist-ruled Cuba has not seen street protests of any significant size since 1994, when thousands of people rioted in downtown Havana amid a false rumor that the ferry that takes people across Havana Bay would take anyone to South Florida.

    The protest Tuesday was the result of “the dissatisfaction that has been accumulating” with the Raúl Castro regime and his halting economic reforms, said Eduardo Cardet, an Holguin physician and member of the opposition Christian Liberation Movement.

    “It’s no longer the opposition protesting. Now, it’s the people,” Cardet said in a recorded statement posted on YouTube. Although many Cubans have argued that protests achieve nothing, he added, the marchers in Holguin “know that it’s worth protesting.”

    Zaldivar said 50 to 60 of the small business owners known in Cuba as “self-employed” and anywhere from 500 to 700 supporters marched Tuesday for more than a half-mile to the offices of the municipal government, demanding the right to work.

    The protest was all the more daring because the offices are next door to the local headquarters of the feared Interior Ministry, in charge of domestic security. Its State Security agents are in charge of repressing all forms of dissent.

    Zaldivar and other witnesses said the protest started after uniformed National Revolutionary Police officers and plainclothes State Security agents raided Holguin’s Central Plaza and confiscated household goods on sale at several kiosks.

    Castro has opened some spaces for the “self-employed” to launch 182 types of small-scale businesses. But authorities have been cracking down on people who are licensed to sell household goods but obtain them at state-run shops and sell them at much higher prices in what the government considers to be illegal profiteering.

    Zaldivar said police and municipal inspectors acting in a harsh manner confiscated the goods at the Central Plaza, revoked the licenses of the merchants and slapped them with fines of about $30 — a large sum in a country where the average monthly wage officially stands at about $20.

    Once the protest reached the municipal offices, some of the protesters scuffled with police and plainclothes agents, he told El Nuevo Herald by phone. Several protesters were arrested and he was detained for three hours at a nearby police station but then released.

    Another dissident, Zuleidy Pérez Velásquez, put the number of protesters as high as 1,000 and reported “enormous beatings” of the marchers by police, according to the Spain-based Web site Diario de Cuba.

    A video of the Holguin protest showed a long but thin line of people marching in the same direction, and then a large crowd jammed outside a building, but the number of participants could not be established.

    One dissident reported that places with public Internet access in Holguin had been put under heavy guard after the confrontation, apparently to keep word of the unrest from seeping out.

    The kiosks had moved to the Central Plaza at the request of government officials who wanted to move them out of their previous location, in front of the local Lenin Hospital, according to the Diario de Cuba report.

    Police and two truckloads of plainclothes agents returned to the Central Plaza Wednesday and confiscated more of the household goods, “but today the police acted more civilized,” Zaldivar said in a telephone interview from Holguin.

    “Today, the situation is pretty tense,” he added, but there were no public protests on Wednesday because city residents believe that police were ready to crack down harshly on any further disturbances.
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/22/3886745/street-protest-in-cuba-draws-at.html

  12. Thanks, Humberto.

    I read the entire article you posted and was left wondering and frankly, perplexed by the whole thing: What kind of ignoramus idiot dictator would impose on his slave plantation a dual currency system? Who could be that objectively, definitively, stupid?

    Even Aristophanes at the end of the fifth century BC knew a system like that wouldn’t work! The fifth century BC is five hundred years before Christ!

    In other words, people living 2500 years ago knew that Castro’s insane scheme’s wouldn’t work! And yet he tried them anyway, and failed. What a total MAROON!

  13. EXCELLENT ANALYSIS! WORTH THE READ ON CUBA’S DUAL CURRENCY PROBLEMS!
    WORLD FINANCE: Cuba to ditch complicated dual-currency system
    The Cuban Government has announced it is taking steps to unify the country’s two currencies. It is a bold and challenging undertaking, but it might just come to be the defining achievement of Raul Castro’s presidency. Cuba has been undergoing a number of quiet but drastic reforms since Raul Castro assumed the presidency of the island nation from his brother, Fidel, in 2008. The latest, and perhaps most significant step towards modernising the country’s economy has been the announcement last month that Cuba would be doing away with it’s complicated dual currency system. The arrangement has been very unpopular, and Castro has long since promised a solution, and now it seems like one might have arrived. Since 1994, the country has functioned with two currencies, one pegged to the dollar and one worth a fraction of it. The Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) are both legal tender on the island, though neither are convertible in the foreign exchange markets. CUC is pegged to the dollar and most goods are valued in that currency, but the majority of people in Cuba are paid in CUP.

    Restricted access
    The complicated system has been used in Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cuba had enjoyed an extremely beneficial trade agreement with the Eastern bloc, which had enabled it to bypass US embargos. So when the Soviet Union was dismantled, Cuba was left with limited access to hard currency, economically isolated and facing hardship.

    Fidel was forced to legalise the dollar, reversing a decades old law that had made possession of the American currency punishable by prison. It was a momentous decision for Fidel Castro, both ideologically and practically.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.worldfinance.com/banking/cuba-to-ditch-complicated-dual-currency-system

  14. I must politely remind posters once again that this blog is about Cuba.

    Not California or Florida.

    Cuba is a fascist dictatorship that is worth criticizing because it is a fascist dictatorship.

    A fascist hate group took power in Cuba in 1959.

    Millions of Cubans suffer because of this.

    The fascist hate group that took power in 1959 is keeping millions of Cubans prisoner.

    Cubans who want to leave for places like California or Florida, where fascist hate groups don’t hold total power, and hopefully never will.

  15. Sorry Humby!!!
    I underestimated the amount of fascist hate groups in California.
    It is not fifth when it comes to fascism….
    It has the fourth highest amount of fascist/white supremacist groups of all states in the USA.
    (The mighty Florida is in fifth place)
    All the more reason to get out there and do something about it Humby.

    Why don’t you try and help to clear out these pockets of fascism from your state????

  16. And HUMBY!!
    You keep saying this ridiculous stuff about fascism.
    Now obviously the fascist influence in the USA has decreased greatly since the heyday of the KKK,
    and the days of Grandpappy Bush making millions of dollars trading with Hitler’s Fascist Germany, but it would seem that there’s still plenty of modern day fascists lurking around in some of the darker recesses of your land.
    So Humby…
    If you don’t like fascists, go outside your front door and do something about them.
    Go track em down.
    There not too far away…
    It would seem that your particular State has the fifth highest amount of fascist/white hate groups of all states in the Union.
    Watcha waiting for Humby???
    Don’t point your finger at other countries.
    Go chase down the fascists in your own home state of California.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25646954

  17. HUMBY!
    People who support the embargo are in a minority in your country.
    On a global level they are in a tiny minority.
    You seem unable to acknowledge or respond to this.
    The fact is that a democratic decision has been taken by the representatives of the entire human race. You seem happy to bleat on about your apparent respect for ‘democracy’…
    Yet when you find yourself on the wrong end of an overwhelming democratic decision,
    all you want to talk about is some ‘academic paper’.

  18. Nick said: “But if I get really bored, I might just search one out for you at some point!”

    SO YOU BORED YET Nick DEAR! CANT WAIT TILL YOU GET “BORED” AND GET ME THAT PAPER/ARTICLE WITH A LINK OF COURSE! OTHERWISE PEOPLE WONT BELIEVE YOU Nick DEAR! IT WORKS THAT WAY, YOU SUPPORT YOUR POINT IN A DEBATE WITH PROOF THAT CAN BE LOOKED AND ASSESED DEAR! OH DEAR, HEAR I GO AGAIN AND OVERUSE MY “DEAR” QUOATA! OOPS, HERE I GO AGAIN SHOW YOU UP! SORRY DEAR!

    HOW CAN YOU ESPLAIN THESE NUMBERS WITH AN “EMBARGO” Nick DEAR??

    U.S.-CUBA TRADE AND ECONOMIC COUNCIL, INC.
    ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA- February 2012 – Report For Calendar Year 2011
    2011-2001 U.S. EXPORT STATISTICS FOR CUBA

    The following is the data for exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba relating to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, which re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural products (commodities) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSRA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized by the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

    The data represents the U.S. Dollar value of product exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba under the auspice of TSRA. The data does not include transportation charges, bank charges, or other costs associated with exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba. The government of the Republic of Cuba reports data that, according to the government of the Republic of Cuba, includes transportation charges, bank charges, and other costs. However, the government of the Republic of Cuba has not provided verifiable data. The use of trade data reported by the government of the Republic of Cuba is suspect. The government of the Republic of Cuba has been asked to provide verifiable data, but has not.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT!

    http://www.cubatrade.org/CubaExportStats.pdf

  19. SO YOU BORED YET Nick DEAR! CANT WAIT TILL YOU GET “BORED” AND GET ME THAT PAPER/ARTICLE WITH A LINK OF COURSE! OTHERWISE PEOPLE WONT BELIEVE YOU Nick DEAR! IT WORKS THAT WAY, YOU SUPPORT YOUR POINT IN A DEBATE WITH PROOF THAT CAN BE LOOKED AND ASSESED DEAR! OH DEAR, HEAR I GO AGAIN AND OVERUSE MY “DEAR” QUOATA! OOPS, HERE I GO AGAIN SHOW YOU UP! SORRY DEAR!

    HOW CAN YOU ESPLAIN THESE NUMBERS WITH AN “EMBARGO” Nick DEAR??

    U.S.-CUBA TRADE AND ECONOMIC COUNCIL, INC.
    ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA- February 2012 – Report For Calendar Year 2011
    2011-2001 U.S. EXPORT STATISTICS FOR CUBA

    The following is the data for exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba relating to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, which re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural products (commodities) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSRA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized by the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

    The data represents the U.S. Dollar value of product exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba under the auspice of TSRA. The data does not include transportation charges, bank charges, or other costs associated with exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba. The government of the Republic of Cuba reports data that, according to the government of the Republic of Cuba, includes transportation charges, bank charges, and other costs. However, the government of the Republic of Cuba has not provided verifiable data. The use of trade data reported by the government of the Republic of Cuba is suspect. The government of the Republic of Cuba has been asked to provide verifiable data, but has not.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT!

    http://www.cubatrade.org/CubaExportStats.pdf

  20. SEE Nick! THIS IS WHAT I WANT FROM YOU! REAL NUMBERS DEAR! NOT BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! LETS GET DOWN AND DIRTY WITH OUR STATISTICS DEAR! AND LINKS PLEASE! LIKE A GOOD DEBATER SHOULD DO DEAR! DID I RUN OUT OF DEARS TODAY?? MAYBE! JE JE JE!

    REUTERS: Cuba says U.S. climbs to 5th leading trade partner-HAVANA | Thu Aug 14, 2008
    (Reuters) – The United States ranked among communist Cuba’s top five trading partners for the first time in 2007 despite the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, as U.S. agriculture sales increased by $100 million. Trade data for 2007 posted on the Web site of Cuba’s National Statistics Office (www.one.cu) placed the United States fifth at $582 million, compared with $484 million in 2006, including shipping costs.
    The United States, which began selling food to Cuba in 2002 under an amendment to the embargo, placed seventh in 2006 and 2005.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/14/us-cuba-usa-trade-idUSN1447847620080814

  21. LETS NOT BE HYPOCRITICAL AND FORGET OTHER FASCISTS DICTATORSHIPS AND HOW THE USA IMPOSED THERE AN EMBARGO!

    The political relationship between the United States and Burma worsened after the 1988 military coup and violent suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations. Subsequent repression, including the crackdown on peaceful protestors in September 2007, further strained the relationship. Massachusetts attempted to sanction Burma directly in 1996 but those efforts proved unconstitutional. Later, the United States federal government imposed broad sanctions against Burma under several different legislative and policy vehicles. The Burma Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA), passed by Congress and signed by the President in 2003, included a ban on all imports from Burma, a ban on the export of financial services to Burma, a freeze on the assets of certain Burmese financial institutions, and extended visa restrictions on Burmese officials. Congress has renewed the BFDA annually, most recently in July 2010.[4]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma%E2%80%93United_States_relations

  22. SO Nick! YOU MEAN TO SAY THAT I CAN COME UP WITH A ACADEMIC PAPER OR ARTICLE WITH FOOTNOTES TO COUNTERACT YOUR CLAIM ABOUT AN “EMBARGO” BY THE BAD OLD U.S.A. AGAINST CUBA AND YOU CANT?? SO THIS “OLD QUEEN FROM CALIFORNIA” IS BETTER AT GOOGLE THAN YOU?? I AM TOTALLY FLATTERED DEAR! THAT GOT I HAVE GRECIA FORMULA TOO!

    Lift the Cuba Embargo ? WHAT EMBARGO! By Humberto (Bert) Corzo*

    In this article I analyze the arguments of lifting the Cuba embargo, which are more rhetorical than real, answering each one of the specific considerations of those that support the end of it.

    EFFECT OF THE EMBARGO

    The United States Government has always exempted from the embargo medicine and humanitarian supplies to the Cuban people, as long as such aid is distributed by independent non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as the Catholic Church and international organizations such as Pastors for Peace.

    Since 1992, the U.S. has approved 36 of 38 license requests for commercial sales of medicines and medical equipment to Cuba. During the period from 1993 to 1996, the U.S. has licensed over $150 million in humanitarian assistance, more than the total worldwide foreign aid received by Cuba in those years. This total does not include the millions of dollars in medicine and food sent to Cuba in the form of “care packages” from relatives living in the U.S. [1]

    In the year 2000 the Department of Commerce approved the export to Cuba of approximately $550 million in medicines, medical equipment, cash remittances, gift parcels and food (cash remittances and gift parcels account for about 75% of the total amount). The United States government’s embargo has had little effect on the Cuban economy, since it only represents 5 % of Cuba’s commerce with the rest of the world. The embargo only affects the American companies and their subsidiaries. The rest of the countries, 180 since the last count in 2007, are free to conduct business with Cuba and are doing so, as confirmed by imports surpassing $13.78 billions during 2007 [2]. In reality there is not such embargo since in the year 2000 the United States Congress lifted the prohibition of the sale of agricultural products and medicines to Cuba, thereby allowing Castro’s regime to buy everything it needs by paying in cash.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ACADEMIC PAPER WITH FOOTNOTES & EVERYTHING!

    http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y09/abril09/09_O_3.html

  23. So getting back to Yoani’s topic.

    How many years more before Cubans are allowed to freely travel out of the country?

    Outside of North Korea and Cuba, are there any other countries where the dictator keeps most of the subjects prisoner?

    And how many more years before Castro allows ALL Cubans who fled to visit their families in Cuba?

    In my opinion, preventing a boat person from visiting Cuba to visit his dying mother is one of Castro’s more vicious crimes.

    Castro committed that crime a few million times.

  24. I forgot to mention, while we are on the subject.

    Instead of jailing corrupt Cuban police officers who pimp children …

    Castro jailed journalists (including a Spanish journalist) who tried to investigate the child sex trade in Cuba.

    And some people get upset because we dare to criticize Castro?

    He certainly has a loyal fan club.

  25. You’re lying again, Nick.

    About absolutely everything.

    I have condemned all my compatriots who prey on children.

    I have condemned terrorism around the world, including any sort of terrorism that is supported by either Canada or the USA.

    You are the one flinging abuse at anyone who dares to criticize the Castro dictatorship.

    You have stated that the Ladies in White and other peaceful dissidents are CIA mercenaries and worse.

    Was Martin Luther King a mercenary working for the CIA? I would criticize any member of the KKK who came on this blog and suggested he was.

    And I will criticize your lies about Cuba and your support of fascism and terrorism.

    Nick, get this through your thick head –

    I know Cubans who have been tortured by people like you.

    I know Cubans who had their parents and children killed by people like you.

    And I know Cuban children who have been pimped by Castro’s great police officers for people like you.

    Even if Castro himself did not encourage it, his system of corruption did and he could have stamped it out if he wanted to.

    But having corrupt police and soldiers is the only thing that kept him in power. And prostitution brings in a lot of cash and is a large part of the Cuban economy.

    As the dictator of Cuba, Castro must share the blame for many of Cuba’s problems.

    As a dictator, he has much more power and responsibility than any elected President or Prime Minister.

    I will continue to criticize him and continue to criticize your lies about Cuba.

    You may believe your lies, as lunatics do, but they are still lies.

    Thanks for reading my posts.

  26. Hi HUMBY,
    Yep you’re right.
    I’m not going to suddenly produce an academic paper for you.
    As explained in my comment @7.17am:
    Anyone in favour of the continuation of this sulky embargo is in a minority in the USA.
    And in a tiny minority worldwide.
    So no ‘academic paper’ necessary.
    But if I get really bored, I might just search one out for you at some point!

    Linking two strands together:
    One benefit of the embargo being in place is that under its terms Cuba won’t be able to buy cement for the stabilizing of oil rigs from Halliburton.
    This would perhaps indicate that another ‘Deepwater Horizon’ style spill is less likely??
    Didn’t Halliburton even get fined for destroying evidence related to this case??

    Perhaps that’s the real reason for continuing this embargo???
    To stop Cuba getting their oil rigs cemented in by Halliburton thereby reducing the chances of damage to Florida’s coral reef???
    Not such a bad embargo after all?

  27. Hey Filth,
    I accept the fact that people have differing views to mine.
    Most seem to be capable of expressing them whilst at least retaining some dignity.
    I’m not going try to turn this forum into a place for abuse and nothing else like you seem happy to do.
    But I will say this one more time:

    My criticism of you is based on:

    a. that your idea of a constructive use of your time is to come on here to simply hurl lying and inept troll-like abuse in my direction.

    and to a greater extent on:

    b. your refusal to condemn (a small minority) of your compatriots who travel to the poorer countries of the world to find places where they think they can get away with their filthy peedo acts.
    If you do not agree with the system of governance in a country where this filth seek out their victims, rather than criticising your filthy compatriots you try to deflect the blame onto some old ex- president who’s been retired for the best part of a decade.

    I know many Canadians who would find you to be a dirty, filthy disgrace.
    That’s all I’ve got to say to you, Filth,
    Apart from to remind you once more that I have young relatives in Cuba and I find you to be one sick individual.

  28. THE CASTROFASCISTS ARE DESPERATE FOR MONEY TO KEEP THEMSELVES IN POWER! FOUR TIMES FOREIGN COUNTRIES HAVE DRILLED FOR OIL OFF CUBA’S COAST AND HAVE COME UP EMPTY HANDED! ITS A WILD GOOSE CHASE AND THE LOCATION IS ANOTHER EXTORTION ATTEMPT TO GET THE “EMBARGO” LIFTED WITH A THREAT OF AN OIL SPILL! AND DEAR Nick! GUESS IM NOT GETTING THAT PAPER OR ARTICLE CITING NUMBERS ON THE BAD OLD U.S. EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA! BUT I KNEW THAT DEAR!

    SUN SENTINEL NEWS: Cuba presses ahead on offshore oil drilling – by William E. Gibson
    BEST QUOTE: “The Cubans, desperate for an economic lifeline, are convinced that crude oil worth billions of dollars is deposited near their shores, despite failed efforts to find it.”

    WASHINGTON — Cuban officials are preparing to resume offshore oil drilling in deep waters as close as 50 miles from the Florida coast, posing a threat to the state’s beaches and marine life, former Gov. Bob Graham said Monday after a trip to Havana.

    The Cubans, he said, are negotiating with energy companies from Angola and Brazil to drill exploratory wells along the maritime border where U.S. and Cuban waters meet, starting next year. Graham warned that if drilling in that area produces a major oil spill, the powerful ocean current known as the Gulf Stream would drag any slick north to the Florida Keys and along the coast to South Florida’s coral reefs and beachfront.

    The Cubans, desperate for an economic lifeline, are convinced that crude oil worth billions of dollars is deposited near their shores, despite failed efforts to find it.

    After spending nearly $700 million over a decade of exploration, energy companies from around the world all but abandoned the search last year. The initial results brought relief to environmentalists alarmed about the prospect of a spill and the complications of dealing with it amid the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

    A floating rig built in China and operated by Repsol, a Spanish firm, found oil in waters north of Havana, but not enough to be worth the expense of extracting it. A Russian company, Zarubezhneft, also searched without success in shallow waters closer to shore.

    But Cuba is determined to keep trying, Graham said, because of seismic testing that indicates sizable deposits north of the island.

    “In fact, they have either made a commitment or are negotiating commitments for drilling in 10 additional blocks of the area north of the Cuban coast, and they hope to have some drilling started as early as 2015,” Graham said. “They are satisfied that these [seismic tests] show enough commercially promising oil deposits that they are proceeding forward aggressively.”

    Their latest target, he said, is near the maritime border, midway between Cuba and Key West. That would push the exploration into deeper water closer to Florida — and increase the risk of a spill.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-bob-graham-cuba-drilling-20140120,0,5002666.story

  29. Getting back to Yoani’s post.

    There is one prediction I can make for 2014, although I hope I’m wrong.

    Unless Castro steps down, Cubans will not be allowed to travel outside their country without his permission.

    Just like the past 5 decades.

    Why do socialist paradises need to keep their happy citizens prisoner?

    Why don’t foreigners line up to move to paradise?

    How come it’s always the opposite?

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