A New Option for Cuban Families? Three currencies!!

Odeslink believes the introduccion of th new cards (read below) is necessary, but the solution must go forward and let the price of the dollar fluctuate. This way all Cubans will have access to the cards, as anybody could change their other two currencies to dollar. The price of the dollar will increase to the point to reach an stable price. For example a worker who earns 1200 pesos could save money to buy the card and deposite 500 which are converted to dolar at the market. Cubans will have an incentive to work hard and buy some of the thing they dreaming and can afford.

HAVANA TIMES – If life in Cuba was complicated with its dual currency system, just imagine what it’s like now with three. During a time when basic essentials have become a struggle of constant searching and never-ending lines, the government has announced a desperate measure with another payment option in US dollars (called Freely Convertible Currency or MLC).

The intention is pick up the island’s economy, which has been worn down for many reasons we already know about. This form of payment isn’t tangible here, not in the traditional sense anyhow, although it is an old practice in the rest of the world.

That’s to say, we don’t actually see this MLC, but we can spend it on products that are sold in this currency using new cards. “We can pay by card in supermarkets now” and that would be great if this latest payment option didn’t totally exclude the others.

Let me break it down for you: in a supermarket where you can pay with one of these new cards, you can’t pay with either of the other two Cuban currencies. This is where it becomes a great problem: since not all of us have access to US dollars, Euros or other accepted currencies.

These new cards work with currency from anywhere in the world and an official exchange rate in US dollars is apparently applied for each currency worldwide when purchases are made in these new establishments.

Original published by Habana Times


LAST WEEK, several House Democrats quietly killed an attempt to roll back aspects of the Trump administration’s sanctions on Cuba, which have exacerbated the economic fallout of the pandemic and hit the country with severe food and medicine shortages — to protect a front-line Democrat.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., had proposed two Cuba-related amendments to the appropriations bill, aimed at alleviating the Trump administration’s efforts to strangle the country’s economy and returning to Obama-era policy. One of the measures would have prohibited officials from blocking food and medicine exports to Cuba, while the other amendment would have rolled back the Trump administration’s cap on the amount of money people in the U.S. can send their families in Cuba, called remittances.

A coalition of over 100 groups, including progressive organizations like Just Foreign Policy, Demand Progress, and CODEPINK, supported the amendments and called on Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, to allow the measures to come to the floor.

McGovern has been a vocal opponent of America’s policy on Cuba since he was in college. Just last year, McGovern railed against the economic blockade, calling it a failure. “Not only does it hurt the Cuban people, it hurts America too,” McGovern said. “There are lifesaving medicines that have been developed and produced in Cuba that are not available here because of our embargo.” McGovern also highlighted the amendments in a speech on the House floor.

According to McGovern spokesperson Matt Bonaccorsi, though the congressman would have approved the remittances measure, the parliamentarian had some issues with the amendment to stop enforcing restrictions on food and medicine exports. And just a few days later, Rush withdrew the amendments.

But advocates in a coalition of groups supporting the amendments say that some House Democrats in the Florida and New Jersey delegations, including Rep. Donna Shalala, along with aligned nonprofit groups, pressured lawmakers to withdraw the amendments out of concerns that they would affect Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell — one of 42 members the party considers in need of electoral protection. Mucarsel-Powell, who represents a large Cuban-American population, anticipates her race will be “one of the toughest” in the country. One House Democrat confirmed that there was pressure from others in the caucus to avoid a vote on these amendments.

In a statement about the decision, the Illinois Democrat cited pressure from his colleagues, albeit in a roundabout way. “Normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba has, and will continue to be, a top priority so long as I am a Member of Congress,” Rush said. “However, upon further consideration and conversations with my Congressional colleagues, I have determined that these amendments are unlikely to be adopted by the Senate or signed into law by the President.” Rush’s office declined to expand on this statement.

For years, Democratic leadership has insisted that legislation be restrained to consider the reelection of Democrats from swing districts, dubbed the “majority makers.” In Florida, a swing state, the Cuban-American electorate skews conservative, and the party goes out of its way to appeal to this influential voting bloc. “Every candidate has a right and obligation to run a campaign tailored to their district,” Erik Sperling, Just Foreign Policy executive director, said in a statement.

“But it’s a problem that U.S.-Cuba policy for the entire Democratic Caucus is determined by the campaign strategy for races representing less than 0.005% of the U.S. population. With the economic downturn from the pandemic causing food shortages, this systemic flaw could be lethal for Cubans.”

It’s true the amendments were unlikely to be signed into law, but House Democrats pass plenty of legislation to send a strong message. And multiple sources involved in the discussions say that Mucarsel-Powell’s race was top of mind.

In 2018, she defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo by 2 points. A recent poll commissioned by a Republican Super PAC found that Mucarsel-Powell’s Republican opponent, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez, is leading by 5 percentage points.

When the Trump administration announced its cap on remittances, Mucarsel-Powell also gave a definitive statement opposing the policy. “There are hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans who live in South Florida and in my district, who would like to continue supporting their families back in Cuba,” she said at the time. “I strongly believe we should not do so by punishing the Cuban people.”

Indeed, a February 2019 study found that 56 percent of Cuban families rely on remittances from family abroad. Shalala slammed the administration’s Cuba policy as recently as June 4, saying that cutting off remittances during a pandemic would “not only be cruel to the Cubans on the island but their families — many of my constituents — in the U.S.”

Though Cuba has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus cases (as a result of its universal health care system and rigorous response to the disease), restrictions on banks and shipping companies prevent Cuba from receiving desperately needed goods. In the earlier stages of the shutdown, officials cited a cap on the sale of medical equipment that restricted the “percentage of U.S. content allowed in foreign sales to Cuba to less than 10 percent.” The pandemic’s economic consequences, which also shuttered Cuba’s tourism industry, have worsened the cruelty of the 60-year U.S. blockade.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, a human rights attorney and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, helped organize support for the amendments with a coalition of progressive foreign policy groups, including the push to get McGovern to allow the amendments on the floor. She said that advocates figured the amendments “would be a sure thing” — considering the congressman’s “longstanding support” for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

“We presume that he’s going to support this to find out that what is actually weighing in the background of this is concerns by Democratic leadership about how this will play out in some of their members’ races — or really one member’s district in South Florida where she’s in a vulnerable race,” she said. “So it isn’t that there are ideological or philosophical differences with the amendments.”

Bannan said that Democrats have promised that stronger amendments and bills will come after the elections in November. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and a country that is under an illegal blockade that is only getting further squeezed is the most cruel and inhumane part of it,” she said. “And that they’re going to have to be that way for months and months more because of concern with one person’s race is more than unfortunate — it’s cruel.”

Cuba and the US: A love-hate relationship; stop embargo

The embargo hurts Cubans and no the Cuban government and the clock is back.

After resuming diplomatic relations five years ago, Cuba and the US find themselves on poor terms. The US embargo is tighter than ever, as Donald Trump turns back the clock.

It was President Barack Obama who initiated the political thaw between the US and Cuba. The US president spoke of a “new beginning after decades of mistrust,” before loosening travel restrictions and money transfer provisions.

The first direct talks between the heads of both countries came at the 2015 Summit of the Americas. Obama had Cuba taken off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, restored diplomatic relations and even sent Secretary of State John Kerry to Havana to re-open the US Embassy there.

In March 2016, Obama himself arrived in Havana for a three-day visit, where Raul Castro called for the complete removal of US sanctions. That did not happen.

Indeed, developments went in quite the opposite direction: On November 8, 2016, two weeks before Fidel Castro died at age 90, Donald Trump won the presidency and immediately began to turn the clock back on Cuban relations. Cuba is now once again considered a terrorist state;the US makes it difficultfor Cubans living abroad to send remittance payments, or “Remesas,” back home; and it is blocking the delivery of critical medicine despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama’s rapprochement was swiftly ended by Donald Trump

Sixty years ago, the embargo was “only” on sugar — Cuba’s biggest export. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower blocked imports of Cuban sugar and advised US citizens against traveling to the island. The US officially broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 3, 1961.

Amazon is afresh a target of US policy against Cuba

Washington, Jul 9 (Plenglish) The e-commerce giant Amazon must pay over 134,000 dollars to the US government for allegedly violating Washington´s sanctions on Cuba and other nations.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reported Tuesday in a statement that the Seattle-based company agreed to pay 134,523 dollares ‘to solve its possible civil liability for allegedly violations of multiple sanction programs.’

According to the statement, the alleged violations consist of having accepted and processed some requests on its websites for people located or employed by the embassies of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, nations subject to OFAC´s unilateral sanctions.

The statement also set down that from November 15, 2011 to October 18, 2018, people in Crimea, Iran, and Syria ordered or made some business on Amazon´s websites.

Overall, the alleged violations were primarily some transactions involving low-value retail goods and services, for which the total amount of the transactions was about 269,000 dollars.

These violations happened primarily because Amazon’s automated sanction detection processes were unable to fully analyze all clients´ transactions and particulars to OFAC compliance.

It is not the first time that Amazon has been hit the effects of the hostile US policy against Cuba, since this tech company was one of the US companies hit by lawsuits under Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Act.

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US diplomat slams Trump’s ‘feckless’ policies on Cuba US government’s current approach ‘a hollow imitation of a policy that failed the United States for nearly 60 years’

“The administration’s hypocrisy is breathtaking,” wrote US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

In a scathing editorial published Tuesday in the Miami Herald, DeLaurentis, who supervised the Barack Obama administration normalization with Cuba, said the current policy towards the island is “feckless” and based on “domestic politics,” On Cuba News reported.

DeLaurentis, who led the US legation in Cuba between 2014 and 2017, said the Trump administration is wrongly deporting Cubans seeking asylum, limiting the ability of Cuban-Americans to send remittances to the island and restricting trade opportunities and travel.

He criticized that those who direct the “maximum pressure” policy towards Cuba know it will not lead to a regime change, that rather “it strengthens Cuba’s (and Iran’s) hand in Venezuela, with Russia and China occupying the vacuum we left behind,” the report said.

He regretted that “they nevertheless continue down this path, trying to manipulate an important political bloc understandably frustrated and impatient for change on the island they love.”

DeLaurentis was a key actor in the bilateral rapprochement process initiated in December 2014 by former President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, which took a complete and devastating turn under the Trump administration, the report said.

The diplomat called the current government’s approach “a hollow imitation of a policy that failed the United States for nearly 60 years.”

“Meanwhile, hardliners in Cuba smile from ear to ear. They know how to deal with this playbook exceedingly well; it is far more comfortable for them than engagement,” he wrote.

With the reestablishment of bilateral relations and the opening of the US Embassy in Cuba in July 2015, DeLaurentis became Charge d’Affaires, the report said.

Obama formally nominated him as ambassador to Cuba in September 2016, but the Republican opposition, which controlled both Houses of Congress, declined to put that appointment to a vote, and DeLaurentis was never confirmed.

DeLaurentis stressed in the editorial that Obama’s policy increased the flow of information to, from, and within Cuba, and that Cuba’s private sector, which now represents 15% of the GDP, was dynamic and growing, the report said.

“Living conditions for the Cuban people, especially those courageous enough to venture into burgeoning private enterprises, were improving. Mentalities were changing,” he said.