USA Announces New Restrictions on Travel and Trade with Cuba

The US government announced today greater restrictions for Americans interested in doing business with Cuba and traveling to the Caribbean island, in compliance with the presidential memorandum that reverses important aspects of the rapprochement between the two countries.

The State, Commerce and Treasury departments announced the adoption of 'coordinated actions' to implement the document signed by President Donald Trump on June 16 in Miami, Florida, which included vetoing Americans to make transactions with more than 180 entities of the Caribbean nation.

It also requires that all nonacademic 'people-to-people' educational trips be conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

  • Published in Cuba

Moon-Trump: Mistrust

It’s possible that when these lines come out, US President Donald Trump has already arrived in South Korea, as part of his Asian tour, which started in Japan and should end in China.

Perhaps one could figure out South Korea is on the paper the least disturbing country for the US head of state, but I do not think so, because President Moon Jae-in has been rebellious before his American counterpart, who has had to resort to his own military pressures and Seoul’s Main Staff to prevent the South Korean leader from carrying out his long-standing desire of talks with the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Spanish acronym RPDC), confident, as he has said, it is the only way the peninsula is not destroyed by a nuclear annihilation.

Moon has been clear and sincere with Trump, but the latter downplays the consequent reasons of a head of state who was actually elected by a vast popular majority in the early elections summoned after the removal of the previous president, because of proven corruption cases and abuse of power.

Trump not only almost ignored Moon, when he visited Washington and said he was in favor of a dialogue with Pyongyang, but also made derogatory comments about his South Korean counterpart on a phone conversation with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, for his stance before the DPRK.

"Trump underestimated the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, calling him “beggar”, for insisting in his calls for dialogue with North Korea”, revealed Hankyoreh newspaper, which is edited in Tokyo.

Quoting Japanese television network Fuji TV, the newspaper explained the US president called his South Korean counterpart like that during a phone call with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, hours later that North Korea launched a missile that passed through Japanese airspace.

Moon “is acting like a beggar”, said Trump to Abe to state his dissatisfaction with Seoul, for its position before the nuclear weapons tests of Pyongyang, said the Japanese daily, besides highlighting that the US head of state asked his partner “not to tell anyone about the need for military pressure on North Korea.”

But such pressure, as one can assume when it is about Democratic Korea, made that country remark it would defend its nuclear development “in the face of the hostilities of U.S. and its puppets.”

Trump has said he’s “100% with Shinzo”, and highlighted that Tokyo should help Washington in case “it is attacked by Pyongyang”, and indirectly confirmed that Washington is pressing Seoul, geared at taking war actions against its northern neighbor; as many countries believe that keeping the pressures against North Korea would lead to a military catastrophe.

Shortly before the American head of state started his Asian tour, Moon has asserted that a war in the Korean Peninsula is something that will never happen again, and claimed that United States would not undertake any military action against the North without the consent of the South. In addition, he thinks that Trump’s statements sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang and did not indicate an imminent attack.

Of course, the South Korean authorities do not trust these statements, because of the controversial personality of Trump, and reiterated that their tests are based on their right for self-defense before the frequent joint military exercises of Washington and Seoul in the peninsula.

NOT ONLY WAR PRESSURE, BUT COMMERCIAL AS WELL

Tensions with Pyongyang promise to lead the first meeting between Trump and Moon in Seoul, where thousands of people rallied against the presence of the US magnate and demanded a peace policy toward the North. The protesters also rejected the insistence of the US president to renegotiate the trade deal with South Korea, partly due to his concerns about alleged imbalances in the steel and car exchange.

"We’re renegotiating a trade deal with South Korea right now, and hope it would be equitable. It will be a fair deal for both parties. It has been a tough deal for the United States”, Trump said.

The US president, who slammed during his electoral campaign the trade deal inked by his predecessor Barack Obama, first referred to its renegotiation and claimed he would seek a “new deal”.

Trump’s statement surprised members of the South Korean government and business leaders in Seoul, who did not expect the possibility of renegotiation to be on the table in the meeting, the Wall Street Journal said today.

Months earlier, in Washington, Moon had only talked about bilateral ties: “We will promote economic growth and job creation to ensure our peoples enjoy greater mutual benefits through the collective efforts we have committed to make.”

Standing by his side, Trump had just slammed the trade deal, popularly known as Korus FTA, by denouncing that since its entry into effect to 2016, the US trade deficit with South Korea had increased by over $11 billion”, nearing $28 billion.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had previously stated that the main cause of the trade imbalance is “the car trade”, that is mainly carried out “based on South Korean standards”, and added there is another problem with the trade of “steel” products” from South Korea to the United States, because part of them come from China and are sold below their market price”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Cuba: Yankees’s Hostility and Blockade are Still Ongoing

November 1st the UN General Assembly will put to vote once again the resolution "Necessity of putting an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

Counting this one there’ll be 26th occasions in which the resolution is passed; last year added the support of 191 States out of the 193 that integrate the United Nations. Only the United States and its partner Israel voted against it. But the blockade is still unscathed, in an open challenge not only to the consent and international right, but to the opinion of the North American people and the Cuban residents in that country.

After the hope raised by Obama’s modest but important steps toward an improvement on the relationships with Cuba, a few months of Trump have been enough to gear into reverse and undermined what had been advanced. On June 16th, in a hostile speech, filled with coarse lies and stupidities that reminded the most aggressive times of the imperial politics toward Cuba, the U.S. president announced the change in a Miami theater packed of Cuban origin counter-revolutionaries. His administration set new obstacles to the almost nonexistent possibilities that North American entrepreneurs had to trade and invest in Cuba and additional restrictions to its citizens to travel to Cuba. Let’s not speak about the hilarious sonic ray with which their diplomats were attacked in Havana, which dozens of North American scientists of several fields have classified as nonexistent.

In March 2016 the North American Department of Treasure announced that it would authorize the use of the dollar by Cuba in its international business and to banks of that country to grant credits to Cuban importers of authorized North American products. A flat joke. Even at present neither thing has been able to come true.

The blockade worsening is intact in the financial and extraterritorial way, what causes deep damages to Cuba’s economy and brutally blocks the people’s right to development. That also implies another flagrant violation of the international right, by applying North American laws to third-parties, expressed in fines to foreign companies having business with Cuba, the denial of banks and international financial institutions to carry out operations with Cuba for fear of being fined, as well as the persecution of Cuban international financial transactions.

A few examples on how operates the extraterritorial application of the blockade: on June 20th, 2016 the Dutch mail company TNT returned to the Cuban consulate in Madrid two postal shippings bound to the embassies of Cuba in China and Indonesia. On August 1st, 2016 the same company canceled the postal service to the Cuban consulate in Rotterdam, Holland. The firm alleged that the refund was due to the U.S. blockade against Cuba. The suspension of these services creates serious inconveniences in the delivery of documents to overseas Cuban residents.

The fines issued by the banks are several. On January 13th, 2017 Washington fined the Canadian Toronto-Dominion Bank with 516105 dollars. The office corresponding of the Department of Treasure alleged that 29 transactions related with Cuba of that institution went through the North American bank system between years 2007 and 2011.

In April 2017, a German supplier refused to give Medicuba S.A. a device used in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. The supplier argued that the blockade prevented him from selling it. There are many more cases.

The blockade causes a lot of damage for every passing minute in every last aspect of the life of Cubans. In education, culture, sport, food science and, of course, in the economic development. Regardless the perfection with which Cuban economy is steered. Likewise there would be unbridgeable setbacks caused by the blockade of the most powerful and aggressive military power which largest market is the nearest to the Cuban.

Because of the blockade, Cuban patients lack irreplaceable drugs, only produced by North American laboratories. Cuban boys and girls don't have for that same reason access to drugs or oncology and cardiologic devices produced in the United States, the champion of human rights.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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America should strengthen, not abandon, relationship with Cuba

The drawdown in personnel from the American embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington in the wake of mysterious attacks on U.S. officials is a setback to the efforts begun by President Obama to reverse a five-decade policy of isolation that failed to advance U.S. interests. But whether the perpetrators of the alleged attacks, be they rogue elements of Cuban security forces or perhaps a third country like Russia or North Korea, are successful in damaging ties between the United States and Cuba will depend on how the U.S. government and American businesses, travelers and civil society respond.

The Trump administration has said its withdrawal of personnel is not intended to impede engagement, but rather to safeguard the health and security of American diplomats. Although courageous State Department diplomats pleaded to maintain the U.S. mission at full strength, the drawdown is a step any administration would have taken in the face of a danger to American personnel that it could not identify or mitigate. The expulsion of Cuban diplomats, however, was a more contentious step, given that the United States does not necessarily believe the Cuban government authorized the alleged attacks.

How long it will be before the American and Cuban embassies are fully staffed again is impossible to predict. Both governments remain at a loss to explain the source and method of the alleged attacks, which have apparently caused hearing loss and brain injury. The FBI has not detected any devices inside or outside American diplomatic residences in Havana or been able to replicate in lab tests the effect of the suspected attacks.

Inevitably, diplomatic engagement will be hampered during this period. Cuban travel to the United States will also diminish as the understaffed U.S. embassy reduces consular services for Cubans seeking a U.S. visa. Still, other forms of engagement do not have to end. On the contrary, now is the time for advocates of greater ties to stop those in either country seeking to drag the relationship backward.

Most importantly, supporters of engagement should make sure the alleged attacks do not dampen U.S. travel to Cuba. Since the diplomatic opening nearly three years ago, travel to the island has soared. The low crime rate in Cuba makes it among the safest places in the world to visit, but the State Department is now discouraging all travel to the island. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged that no U.S. private citizens have been affected by the alleged attacks, but since some apparently occurred at hotels where American citizens would stay, the State Department was required to issue a travel warning.

The cultural and natural splendor of Cuba should continue to motivate Americans to travel to the island. Even those skeptical of governmental engagement should feel comfortable visiting the island for cultural exchanges, as the hospitality industry is the sector with the largest entrepreneurial engagement and private employment. Private sector establishments, which employ about one-third of Cuban workers, depend on spending by foreign visitors to thrive. As Cuba recovers from Hurricane Irma, continued engagement has a humanitarian imperative as well.

Americans also have an incentive to visit Cuba before the Treasury Department issues new regulations governing travel there, as mandated by President Trump in June. The regulations are a few weeks overdue, and it is unclear when they will be issued. Treasury officials who oversee sanctions prefer to prioritize countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, rather than proctor whether Americans step foot on a Caribbean beach.

Similarly, U.S. companies should not overreact and abandon the island. U.S. corporate leaders regularly complain about the challenges of navigating the bureaucratic and political thicket in Cuba. The travel warning and reduction in embassy commercial officers could cause some companies to delay or reconsider their Cuba plans. Savvy outfits, however, will look beyond the current diplomatic imbroglio and consider the first-mover advantage and long-term value of investing in Cuba. For its part, the Cuban government, which continues to signal its appetite for engagement with foreign companies, should expedite to the extent possible the approval of business petitions. The conclusion of a few high-profile deals could move other companies from the sidelines and beget more deals.

Finally, U.S. civil society, which has been instrumental to the process of normalization, should intensify engagement with their Cuban counterparts. Universities, sports leagues, cultural institutions, human rights groups, and research centers like the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, which is developing a lung cancer vaccine in collaboration with a Havana medical center, daily demonstrate how American engagement with Cuba enriches the lives of people in both countries.

The perpetrators of the alleged attacks on U.S. officials apparently wanted the U.S. and Cuban people to drift apart again. Whatever the origin of the illnesses afflicting U.S. diplomats, Cuban opponents of President Raul Castro’s opening to the United States will be pleased if Americans disengage from Cuba, and critics of normalization in the United States are cheering the renewed tensions. For the benefit of the Cuban people and Americans with a stake in the relationship with Cuba, it is important that the latest developments do not derail the historic reconciliation between the two countries.

  • Published in Cuba

Washington: Trump’s mental health

Americans increasingly wonder whether their president is mentally fit to hold the office.

Why? La Jornada newspaper’s renowned analyst David Brooks answered it last Friday.

He headed his article plainly: “Mental health experts warn the world about Trump’s dangerousness”.

Then, he quoted, well-known psychiatrists and psychologists, who consider a mistake to treat him as “if he were a normal person”.

He also refers to a new book that is about to be published in the United States, The dangerous case of Donald Trump.

Its text, written by 27 mental health experts, says that his makes him a clear and present danger.

Because of that, they point out, it is impossible to apply on him rules of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which ban mental health specialists from publicly revealing their diagnoses of public figures they have't assessed. 

The book was prefaced by Dr. Banda X Lee, of Yale University, and Judith Herman, of Harvard.

They point out: "Collectively, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency”.

They offer psychological variants to describe the health state of the president, some focused on his “malignant narcissism”. Experts recall such a concept was developed by psychologist Erick Fromm to characterize Hitler and his followers.

Retired Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Lance Dodes notices that Trump’s sociopathic characteristics pose a danger to democracy in the United States.

Some quote a famous study on its 37 presidents until 1974, which concluded that half of them had mental problems.

And Trump? Combined in a “highly dangerous” toxic mixture.

May God, if he can, protect us.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi TranslationStaff

 

U.S.A.: A Paradise for Violent Crime

According to the Associated Press (AP) violent crimes in the United States grew over the two years in a row.

What period of time did that North American news agency write? The time comprising between 2015 and 2016.

The fact was broadly commented this Monday for its journalist Sadie Gurman.

Revising FBI statistics, she remarked that it grew mainly in the most important cities.

Gurman noticed that Donald Trump used the numbers as evidence that the country is amid a dangerous wave of crimes.

Therefore? The need of making arrests and other sanctions "against drug crimes."

AP remembers that last year there was a blast of shootings and robberies, up to 4,1% more than in 2015.

While homicides of varied nature reached 8,6% in that same time.

The source aforementioned turned to last year statistics to highlight that violence jumped to 3.9%, and murders to more than 10.

"This is a concerning tendency that threatens to thwart the advances that made safer our neighborhoods and communities", said the secretary of Justice, Jeff Sessions.

He also sentenced: the years of crime reduction have been replaced by increases.

The website Público.es recently informed in Madrid that two years ago nearly 1134 people were killed in the U.S., mostly black people.

An investigation of the British newspaper 'The Guardian' revealed that the youths of that community have nine times more probabilities of getting killed at the hands of the Police than at the hands of anyone else.

Scary no doubt, the United States has become, by its own right, a paradise for violent crimes.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Trump: Is his Spokeswoman "Mute?"

Once again with questions marks appears the way things are handled by the people running the White House.

 

Now the main attacks swirl against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his Press Secretary.

For what reason? Because after a succession of very important events she remained in silence.  

Even a journalist based in Miami, Otto Rodríguez, dedicated an article to the matter, "The Shocking Silence of the White House."

First he summarized the episodes of that stage: Protests in Charlottesville, the death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a white supremacist.

All amid the turmoil of a country more and more divided, and new tests of missiles in North Korea, among others.

Then he remembered that in such a scenario there was not even a single press conference.

Three weeks later, Rodríguez wrote, the spokeswoman Huckabee he spoke again to the credited press.

“It´s good to be back, [but] you don't seem thrilled. I thought there would surely be balloons here… or some other thing [to celebrate]. I imagine it will be next time."

After listening something like that, Rodríguez wondered where the common sense of the spokesmen of this Administration had gone.

“Is it perhaps a joke, or cynicism? Or just indifference in the need of the American public opinion of knowing what their leaders think about crucial events? "

Is perhaps the continuation of the wild war unleashed by Donald Trump's presidency against the American press?

On the next paragraph the journalist manifests his approaches on what triggers such process.

It’s very difficult to excuse a president that doesn't clearly stands against the white supremacists and Neo-Nazi of Charlottesville.

Who even estimated that in both sides there were "good people" during the clashes in that city of Virginia.

However, The Washington Post revealed a letter where the Trump’s top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, abandoned his position due to the violence caused by Nazi groups in that town.

Enough reasons to understand – up to a certain degree - the unusual silence of spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Venezuela prepares in the face of Trump’s threats

After the failure in their attempt to hinder firstly, the election of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) and then its setting up, the internal counter-revolution hopes that the economic war imposed on the nation gives place to the direct military aggression of the United States, since the Donald Trump administration announced the possibility of a naval blockade. President Nicolás Maduro described it as madness and noticed that the armed forces are ready to reject any attack, reinforced the border with Colombia geared at preventing a treacherous invasion and mobilized hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans willing and active to defeat the imperialist attempt.

”It’s not a laughing matter. It’s sovereignty and independence that are at risk”, said Eleazar Díaz Rangel, director of “Últimas Noticias” newspaper, as Maduro claimed that “everything they are carrying out against Venezuela will fail with the effort of our people and Venezuela will come out strengthened, increasingly freer, more independent in the economic, financial, political, diplomatic and military field”.

One could not expect anything else from the United States and a president like Donald Trump, knowing, as the American people have just realized, that he is surrounded by what he is pleased with: racist and supremacist haters who hate not only Venezuela but the entire Latin America, riddled, according to them, with "an inferior race".

"To believe that these sanctions will only hit Venezuela is like believing ... that the announcement of the construction of the electrified wall between the US-Mexico border is an aggression only to countries that have migrants in the United States. No, it is not against those countries or against Mexico, it’s against the whole Latin America and the Caribbean”, stressed Maduro.

As many people know, last Friday the president of the United States issued an executive order that bans US citizens and entities from any transactions, such as the purchase of debt bonds, with the Venezuelan state and Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), which is considered the worst American aggression against Venezuela in the last 200 years.

Caracas is already responding to the aggression through the activation by the NCA of a plan to defend the economy and finances, and called on US companies that buy Venezuelan oil to an urgent meeting to fine-tune operating mechanisms after the economic war imposed by the White House.

DEMONIZATION AND DISABILITY
 
Within the same strategy, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, said that Venezuela is influenced by Hezbollah and Iran, two of the geopolitical actors that Washington places within the "Axis of Evil," and that’s why “it can become a risk for the United States”, which has set up a real uproar so that the halberdiers who control the press join their media mechanism. This "intelligence" maneuver seeks to strengthen the story that Venezuela is a country that promotes "Islamic terrorism".

There is a great truth in this nebula of lies: the Venezuelan right is incapable of creating something, turning the board upside down and gaining popular support, thereby it makes itself dependent on the will of a president who sanctions, blocks banks and finances, and tries to isolate the country diplomatically.

That right took advantage of government mistakes to achieve a legislative victory, for the first time in seventeen years, but that control of the National Assembly became a complete stop to measures that benefit the nation, so it had to be suspended, not eliminated. Then, most Venezuelans voted for the creation of the NCA that will strengthen the Constitution and help good governance.

All this stirred the worst of the worst, removed masks from hypocrites, and united that group of genuflectors with the Cuban exiles in Miami, which dictates rules to their Venezuelan acolytes.

While poorly participating in a dialogue with the government, the ill-named Democratic Unity Board (MUD) tried to hold President Nicolás Maduro accountable for the threat of military intervention by Donald Trump, when its main leaders were protagonists of appeals to US rulers and officials to invade the country in the face of successive failures of all its violent and terrorist strategies.

Thus, reviewing the press sold to the national oligarchy, there is evidence that in 2017 important enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution, such as Julio Borges, Luis Florido and Lilian Tintori, have been photographed along with US officials, and Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the pro-American Organization of American States (OAS), while often travelling to Washington and Miami to achieve the financial blockade of the country by big international banks.

Borges has appeared smiling next to H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor, who attended the meeting where Trump announced the military option and threatened to invade Venezuela; as Florido and Tintori have met with lawmakers Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez, from the anti-Cuban mafia, enemies of the enemies of the Venezuelan constitutional government and promoters of the funding to the protagonists of the terrorist wave.

In other words, they are all part of the concoction that is being cooked to attack Venezuela, in a counter-revolutionary action, where the “cooks” could get burned.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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