US Announces New Measures to Broaden Trade with Cuba and Circumvent the Embargo

By Café Fuerte

The US Commerce Department
The US Commerce Department

HAVANA TIMES — This Friday, the Obama administration launched a series of measures to broaden trade, travel and investments by US companies in Cuba as part of a new policy initiative by Washington aimed at skirting embargo restrictions.

The norms appear in a 27-page document drawn up by the US Department of Trade’s Bureau of Industry and Security. They represent a major leap forward in terms of commercial operations, banking transactions, airline flights, cruise and ferry operations and access to US products by Cuban citizens.

The announcement was made this morning, advancing the steps Obama promised in January to relax embargo restrictions by exercising his executive powers.

A Challenge for Cuba

“These are the most important changes to the regulations on trade an investment with respect to Cuba that have been made in decades,” said John S. Kavulich, chair of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council (USTEC) based in New York.

Needless to say, many of the opportunities opened to US companies and businesspeople will have to wait for approval from the Cuban government.

Kavulich believes these measures will have a powerful impact on the legacy of the Obama administration and will create a kind of pressure that the Cuban government will find difficult to handle.

“As of now, Cuba will have to reciprocate Washington’s initiative or risk a loss of interest by the US business community,” he added.

Skirting the Embargo

The measures implemented by the Department of Trade will allow for:

– US companies to enter joint ventures with Cuban State companies.

– US companies to provide loans and extend payment terms for the sale of authorized products.

-The hiring of Cubans residing on the island by US companies.

-The opening of product distribution points in places such as the Mariel Development Zone.

-The establishment of mail delivery points in Cuba by companies such as FedEx and UPS.

– The sale of building materials and supplies, as well as sanitary items.

– The sale of aviation technology and pieces, as well as passenger control equipment used at airports.

– Supplying food products to private restaurants.

The implementation of this package of measures comes at a unique moment in the history of relations between the two countries, following the hoisting of the Cuban and US flags in Washington and Havana.

This Wednesday, Obama received Cuba’s new ambassador, Jose Ramos Cabañas, in the White House. Ramos presented his credentials on the eve of President Raul Castro’s visit to Washington. Castro is to speak at the UN General Assembly on September 28.

Raul Castro and Barack Obama are expected to meet during the Cuban leader’s visit to the United States. Castro will be present at the United Nations during Pope Francis’ speech on September 25.
The following is a statement issued by the US Treasury and Commerce Departments.

U.S. Treasury Department

Office of Public Affairs



Amendments Further Implement President Obama’s 2014 Announcement

Related to the Easing of Cuba Sanctions

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Commerce are announcing additional revisions to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), building off the changes put into place by Treasury and Commerce on January 16, 2015 and further delivering on the new direction toward U.S. relations with Cuba that President Obama laid out last December. The changes, consistent with the President’s December announcement, will take effect on Monday, September 21, 2015, when the regulations are published in the Federal Register. A fact sheet detailing the revisions, which will be administered by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), is below.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said, “Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to promote constructive change for the Cuban people. These regulatory changes build on the revisions implemented earlier this year and will further ease sanctions related to travel, telecommunications and internet-based services, business operations in Cuba, and remittances. A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike. By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said, “The regulations published today are designed to support the emerging Cuban private sector and bring us one step closer to achieving President Obama’s historic policy goals. These actions build upon previous Commerce regulatory changes, and will ease travel restrictions, enhance the safety of Americans visiting the country, and promote more business opportunities between U.S. and Cuban companies. In addition to expanding our commercial engagement with the Cuban people, these additional adjustments have the potential to stimulate long overdue economic reform across the country.”

These measures will further facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes; expand the telecommunications and internet-based services general licenses, including by authorizing certain persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction (which includes individuals and entities) to establish a business presence in Cuba, such as through subsidiaries or joint ventures; allow certain persons to establish a physical presence, such as an office or other facility, in Cuba to facilitate authorized transactions; allow certain persons to open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba to use for authorized purposes; authorize additional financial transactions, including those related to remittances; authorize all persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to provide goods and services to Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba; and allow a number of other activities, including those related to legal services, imports of gifts, and educational activities. These amendments also implement certain technical and conforming changes.

To see the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 515, please see here. To see the Commerce regulations, which can be found at 15 CFR parts 740, 746, and 772, please see here. Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:

Travel –

Facilitating authorized travel and commerce, increasing contact between Americans and Cubans, and supporting civil society in Cuba:

  • Transportation by vessel of authorized travelers – between the United States and Cuba only and without stops in third countries – will be authorized by general license. Certain related lodging services aboard vessels used for such travel will also be authorized.
  • License Exception Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) will authorize temporary sojourns to Cuba of certain categories of vessels. Eligible categories of vessels are cargo vessels for hire for use in the transportation of items; passenger vessels for hire for use in the transportation of passengers and/or items; and recreational vessels that are used in connection with travel authorized by the Treasury.
  • License Exception AVS will authorize aircraft on temporary sojourn to remain in Cuba for up to 7 consecutive days and authorizes vessels on temporary sojourn to remain in Cuba for up to 14 consecutive days.
  • Close relatives will be allowed to visit or accompany authorized travelers for certain additional activities. In the January changes, OFAC permitted close relatives to join visits related to official government business and certain educational activities, and to visit additional family members residing in Cuba. Close relatives now also will be allowed to visit or accompany authorized travelers for additional educational activities, journalistic activity, professional research, and religious activities, as well as activities related to humanitarian projects and activities of private foundations or certain research or educational institutes. For purposes of this provision, a close relative is defined as someone related to a person by blood, marriage, or adoption – and who is no more than three generations removed from that person or a common ancestor with that person.
  • All authorized travelers will be allowed to open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba in order to access funds for authorized transactions while in Cuba.

Telecommunications & Internet-Based Services –

Enhancing the free flow of information to, from, and within Cuba, and better providing efficient and adequate telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba:

  • Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be allowed to establish a business presence in Cuba, including through joint ventures with Cuban entities, to provide certain telecommunications and internet-based services, as well as to enter into licensing agreements related to, and to market, such services.
  • Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be allowed to import Cuban-origin mobile applications into the United States and to hire Cuban nationals to develop them.
  • An existing authorization for the provision of services related to certain consumer communications devices exported to Cuba will be expanded to authorize services related to additional types of items authorized by Commerce, and to add training related to the installation, repair, or replacement of those items.
  • License Exception Consumer Communications Devices (CCD) will no longer be limited to sales or donations. This change to License Exception CCD is intended to support other types of transactions, such as leases and loans of eligible items for use by eligible end-users.

Commercial and Financial Transactions –

Refocusing sanctions so they do not prevent day-to-day transactions by Cuban individuals who are outside of Cuba:

  • All persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be allowed to provide goods and services to individual Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba, provided there is no commercial exportation of goods or services to or from Cuba.
  • Banking institutions will be able to open and maintain accounts for Cuban individuals for use while the Cuban national is located outside of Cuba, and to close such accounts.

Physical Presence and Operations in Cuba –

Facilitating certain authorized activities involving Cuba:

  • Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in the following categories of authorized activities will be allowed to establish and maintain a physical presence, such as an office, retail outlet, or warehouse, in Cuba: news bureaus; exporters of certain goods authorized for export or reexport to Cuba by Commerce and OFAC, such as agricultural products and materials for construction or renovation of privately-owned buildings; entities providing mail or parcel transmission services or certain cargo transportation services; providers of telecommunications or internet-based services; entities organizing or conducting educational activities; religious organizations; and providers of carrier and certain travel services. These individuals and entities will also be authorized to employ Cuban nationals, open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba, and employ persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction in Cuba.

Support for the Cuban People –

Improving living conditions, strengthening civil society, and supporting independent economic activity by the Cuban people:

  • License Exception Support for the Cuban People (SCP) will authorize certain exports and reexports of items to Cuba for use in establishing, maintaining, and operating a physical presence in Cuba. Eligible end-users of the items include certain persons providing telecommunications or internet-based services; establishing telecommunications facilities; providing travel or carrier services; organizing or conducting educational activities; or transporting authorized items between the United States and Cuba.
  • License Exception SCP will no longer be limited to sales or donations. This change to License Exception SCP is intended to support other types of transactions, such as leases and loans of eligible items for use by eligible end-users.
  • Certain temporary reexports from a foreign country to Cuba will be authorized by License Exception SCP when the items are for use in scientific, archeological, cultural, ecological, educational, historic preservation, sporting activities, or in the traveler’s professional research and meetings. Previously, this provision was limited to temporary exports by persons departing the United States.
  • Certain commodities and software for use in software development may be exported or reexported to eligible end-users in Cuba pursuant to License Exception SCP.
  • License Exception SCP will authorize temporary exports and reexports to Cuba of additional categories of items, including certain tools of trade to install, service, or repair items; and certain commodities and software for exhibition or demonstration.

Remittances –

Empowering Cubans with opportunities for self-employment, and in turn strengthening independent civil society:

  • The limits on donative remittances to Cuban nationals other than prohibited Cuban Government or Cuban Communist Party officials, currently set at $2,000 per quarter, will be removed entirely. The limits on authorized remittances that individuals may carry to Cuba, previously $10,000 for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and $3,000 for Cuban nationals, will also be removed entirely.
  • The unblocking and return of remittances that were previously blocked because they exceeded the then-applicable caps on periodic remittances, and of certain previously blocked funds transfers, will be allowed.
  • Depository institutions will be allowed to maintain accounts for certain Cuban nationals present in the United States in a non-immigrant status, and will no longer be required to block such accounts if not closed before the Cuban national’s departure. Access to such accounts will be limited to while the Cuban national is lawfully present in the United States, although the account may remain open while the Cuban national is not in the United States. The $250 monthly limit on payments from previously blocked accounts held in the name of such Cuban nationals will be removed to more adequately allow access to funds for living expenses.
  • Remittances from Cuba and from Cuban nationals in third countries to the United States will be authorized by general license, and financial institutions will be allowed to provide related services.
  • An expanded general license also will authorize additional remittances to Cuban nationals in connection with the administration of estates. This provision complements another general license authorizing all transactions incident to the administration and distribution of the assets of estates in which a Cuban national has an interest.

Legal Services –

Updating the legal services provisions:

  • OFAC’s existing general license authorizing the provision of certain legal services to Cuba and Cuban nationals will be expanded to allow the receipt of payment for such services. Certain limitations will apply, related to payments from prohibited Cuban Government or Cuban Communist Party officials. Additionally, a new general license will authorize persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to receive, and make payment for, certain legal services from Cuba or Cuban nationals.

Civil Aviation Safety –

Supporting international aviation and passenger safety:

  • A case-by-case review policy will apply to license applications for exports and reexports to Cuba of items to help ensure the safety of civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial passenger aircraft. Items that are to be reviewed pursuant to this policy include aircraft parts and components; software and technology related to safety of flight; air traffic control, aviation communications, and aviation weather related equipment; airport safety equipment; and devices used for security screening of passengers and baggage.

Gift Imports –

Allowing certain gifts:

  • Imports of merchandise from Cuba or Cuban-origin merchandise from a third country intended as gifts, excluding alcohol and tobacco products, will be allowed to be sent to the United States provided that the merchandise is not carried by a traveler, the value of the merchandise is not more than $100, and the item is a type and in quantities normally given as a gift.

Educational Activities –

Increasing contact between American and Cubans and enhancing the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people:

  • Under an expanded general license, additional educational activities involving Cuba and Cuban nationals, including the provision of standardized testing services and internet-based courses, will be authorized.
  • Academic exchanges and joint non-commercial academic research with universities or academic institutions in Cuba will also be authorized.
  • Travel-related transactions in connection with these activities will also be authorized.

Ordinarily Incident Transactions –

Clarifying the scope of authorized transactions:

  • OFAC is clarifying that the Cuba sanctions provisions that are already in place allow most transactions that are ordinarily incident and necessary to give effect to a licensed transaction. For example, certain payments made using online payment platforms are permitted for authorized transactions.

Air Ambulances and Emergency Medical Services –

Facilitating access to emergency medical services:

  • The provision of air ambulance and other related emergency medical services to travelers in Cuba will be authorized by general license, and a general license will clarify that the provision of nonscheduled emergency medical services to Cuban nationals in the United States is authorized.

Humanitarian Projects –

Facilitating aid to the Cuban people in times of need and preserving Cuban history:

  • The general license authorizing transactions related to specified humanitarian projects will be expanded to include disaster relief and historical preservation.

Supporting Diplomatic Relations –

Supporting the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba in accordance with the President’s announcement:

  • OFAC is expanding the general license authorizing transactions with official missions of Cuba to the United States to include international funds transfers.



52 thoughts on “US Announces New Measures to Broaden Trade with Cuba and Circumvent the Embargo

  • what about the Saudis don’t they have venture going on with the Israelis , when would we learn in the u.s. to stay out of everybody else’s business

  • Don’t forget nidal that the Government of Cuba has a joint marketing venture with a company in Tel-Aviv. I recognize that publicly they support Hamas. Meantime, Hamas operates in Syria for the Asad regime and MILLIONS of Syrians seek refuge in the capitalist western countries. Cuba has accepted how many?

  • let’s say for the sake of argument god forbid that the Cuban government have a pro Zionist stand , would you say that you would still have the same point of view off them , is it the Castros
    or your twisted capitalist way of life you’re trying to enforce and everybody else ?
    was it not the case in you old country at one time where it was illegal to be homeless and poop.
    when I compare Cuba to a whole list of countries , I find that Cuba is halfway much better than a whole lot of countries , when I say half way I mean no disrespect what I’m trying to say Cuba in not fully industrialized nation, I tell you there’s a lot of Americans in this country who envy Cuban education and health care successes wishing we have something in this country that’s would produce similar success stories.

  • Well the reason for that Richard is that the article under discussion is about trade!
    Tourism is a different subject, but you are correct indicating that it is a major income source. Another is hiring out doctors and teachers to other countries. The regime makes the charges and then pays a small portion to those doing the work.
    Cuba was the only country to charge for medical services to combat Ebola in Africa.
    I currently have two cousins through marriage teaching in Venezuela and one nephew teaching in Equador. They do it, because although the Cuban regime takes a high proportion of the earnings, they are still left with a very substantial income for a Cuban. In Cuba, the payment for teachers is almost $1 per day, being $360 per annum. They get paid monthly in cash which the school secretary distributes.
    If they have a Master’s degree they receive an extra $3.60 per month and a Doctorate brings in $6 per month.

  • The embargo does not include medicines. That is why a Cuban doctor explained to me in a hospital in Cuba, that he was unable to obtain medicines which he wished to prescribe to his patients, because of the obduracy of the sole importers – the regime!
    Talking about that hospital and its medical staff illustrates the conundrum of Cuba’s medical services for it’s people. The staff are excellent both doctors and nursing staff. But, the hospitals – I have been at three – are in a deplorable state. Broken windows, missing door handles, broken toilet cisterns and a total lack of bedding, the patients have to supply it.
    Violent crime rates in this world are interesting and particularly horrifying in Latin American countries:
    Murders per 100,000 per year:
    Honduras 82.1
    El Salvador 66.0
    Cote d’Ivoire 56.9
    Jamaica 52.1
    Venezuela 49.0
    Belize 41.7
    Guatemala 41.4
    Virgin Islands 39.2
    Zambia 38.0
    Robberies are also interesting:
    Belgium 1,762
    Spain 1,188
    Argentina 1,003
    Mexico 507
    Dominican R. 573
    Costa Rica 529
    Chile 456
    Trinidad &Tobago 452
    Nicaragua 443
    Equador 386
    Uruguay 277
    Panama 235
    The Belgian police are famed in Europe for their incompetence, in all my personal travels it is the only country in which I have been robbed and that was on arrival on the Eurostar in Brussels station. Not much wonder that the most famous statue is of a small boy obviously pissed off.
    But clearly, the Caribbean and South America are rife with violent crime and robbery.
    But nidal, the fact that I can give you these statistics is indicative of concern about crime. Cuba has a simple answer – what’s to steal?

  • All this talk about imports and exports. Cuba, like the majority of Caribbean Islands, will derive the majority of their income from Tourism. It is also the case in Florida.

  • what part did the Embargo play and making sure this medication is not present ?
    Try and imagine a situation in which somebody needs a life-saving medication for himself or for his loved ones , in one place that medication does not exist , and in the other place medication does exist except he does not have the money to buy it .
    what do you think this person should do , should he say to himself “I don’t have the money for it “or should he go and steal so he could pay for it and save the life of a love ones? what is worse Doctors that don’t have what it takes to do something or Dr that have no conscious .
    United States have the best medicine and medical facilities in the world as long as you have the money , if you don’t have the money you’re going to get better treatment in Zimbabwe .
    I don’t here you think about all the problems in Central America from the high crime rate in Honduras to hunger and starvation you find in some of these countries , next door to Cuba in Haiti they eat mud cakes for crying out loud ,

  • The English language which is a combination of various tongues is not in the charge of anyone, that is one of its advantages and why it has ever expanding use in the world at large – the advantage is flexibility! I have at times in these columns, quoted the Oxford English Dictionary in order to correct misconceptions or to explain phraseology I have used like “dead cat’.
    Where you are not unusually incorrect, is in writing about Cuba possessing “all the room they have to play with and what they can do with the immense leeway they have in reserve(d).
    Cubans are not even allowed to move freely within their own country even if due to remittances they can afford to do so. If by writing about “immense leeway” you are referring to under-utilised assets such as agricultural land, you are correct. But, as those under-utilised assets are ever increasing, it is more than unlikely that the communist dictatorship will reverse its failed policies to improve matters.
    As for Cuba changing overnight, that would require the sudden deaths of both the current and past dictators and of the family of Raul Castro Ruz, coupled with the leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba. That is unlikely to occur.
    The invasion of South Korea by North Korea aided by hundreds of thousands of Chinese caused the Korean War and resulted in action by the United Nations a body which you apparently scorn.
    The difficulty of medications in Cuba was explained to me by a Cuban doctor in our local hospital. He could define the medicines required to treat conditions in his patients, but could not prescribe them as the regime does not import them. Not doing so, has nothing to do with the embargo, it is due in his view (who are either of us to argue with him) to incompetence of the purchasing agent: ie: the government of Cuba.
    You nidal forget that I commented previously that I consider English a difficult language to learn as it unlike Spanish, is not logical. You even thanked me!
    As for someone getting off the pot, your world wide political illogical ramblings do not really qualify you to decide who should get off a pot and when. Better for you to watch your own backside!

  • thank you for your kind words.
    question who the heck died and left you in charge of the English language , are you one of them self-appointed righteous those whom give themselves the right to judge everybody else , remember what the Bible says judge not lest be judged .
    I am sure the readers out there understood what I had in mind , anyway for the sake of clarity I will try to explain it to you , I was trying to point out the positives about Cuba and all the room they have to play with and what they can do with the immense leeway they have in reserved .
    In evolution they say survival of the fittest , that being said it does not mean the strong or smart , evolution favors those who have what it take to adapt to a new situation and succeed , all off the issues that you talked about in a negative way about Cuba could change overnight .
    Correction the Korean War was carried out by American for the sake of the sake of so-called national interest , United Nation is nothing more than a puppet of Western culture , you talk about United Nation resolution how many of the resolutions against Israel have been implemented ,
    about your so called capitalist system that you are infatuated wind this headline was in the morning news ,
    ( drug company raises the price by five thousand percent rt tv )
    last month I paid $65 off copay on my diabetes medication this month it went up to $146 , and that’s only one of the medications I’m on .
    can you tell me how many you know of in Cuba have to make a choice between buying food or medication don’t forget the rent now ? yes they make little money keep in mind the flip side of the coin they don’t have to get mugged every time they go to pharmacy for life-saving medications .
    do yourself and all of as a favor get off your pot.
    I wish I had more time on my hand to show you how screwed up the capitalist system .

  • Once seen IC the valley of Vinales remains a mental picture being in my experience a unique vista and I have travelled in well over thirty countries and being an enthusiastic walker. One could add that as I spend most of my time at home in Cuba, that is an advantage as there is little alternative unless I borrow my wife’s bicycle.
    You are accustomed to reading my contributions, but one day they will cease and you will know I have gone home again.
    Thank you for the compliment bjmack, yes, I could organize tours, but prefer to spend my time at home.

  • You nidal are quite obviously ignorant of the reality of Cuba. But one thing you got right, At $20.68 US equivalent, “Cuba has the most competitive wages of anywhere in the Americas.”
    So nidal you are suggesting as a good capitalist, that the poverty of the Cuban worker should be exploited for the benefit of the Castro family regime?
    Regarding Hyundai, the franchise for the whole of Cuba was held by a Canadian. It was obviously attractive to the regime, so they made the customary charge against foreign businessmen of “corruption” jailed him for fourteen years and confiscated his business along with the franchise.
    When you say that both Japan and South Korea (you wrote Korea which is a peninsula not a country, North Korea is under a communist family dictatorship like Cuba) have “barely stepped out of war”, you are in a time warp. The United Nations forces which fought on the Korean peninsula, ceased military action 62 years ago and Japan 70 years ago.
    The noteworthy difference between North and South Korea, is that the first is a communist family dictatorship imposing starvation upon its people in order to develop nuclear bombs in disregard to United Nations resolution and the latter is a successful free capitalist democracy.
    So in North Korea, the people can say: GRACIAS PARA LA FAMILIA KIM.
    As for the Cubans, they have had a bellyful of fear for fifty six years with the CDR ever looming over their every meeting with their fellows. They have plenty to fear – so don’t worry yourself!

  • Hell Carlyle, you and the relatives and family should seriously consider getting into the tourist business! I’d be your first customer! Good work!

  • It seems to me that all of you gentlemen have lost touch with reality , the portability of technology in today’s culture is magical , Hyundai introduced the first vehicle the Pony into United States market in the mid eighties , at that time it became the laughing stock of the market , in this day in age Hyundai is one of the most advanced vehicle in the marketplace , I know I work all of the vehicles from day one , Japan and Korea do not have much of natural resources to speak of , what they have is there peoples strong will to complete and succeed, keep in mind both cultures have barely stepped out of war.
    the same thing can be said about Cuba , one of the strongest assets is a strong willed population , highly educated and healthy competent wonderful human beings , GRACIAS FIDEL
    Cuba today have the most competitive wages of anywhere in the Americas , 90 miles away from United States .
    You also need to keep in mind that the growing pain in developing the technology has been done by somebody else, just about anything and everything today is ready to use out of the box and everybody deliveries .
    let’s say someone wants to establish a service call center , it could be up and running in less than a month and provide service to all of the USA and Canada , with the Latinos large population I see no problem for business to succeed.
    right now in United States certain businesses that have to keep track of their expenses send copies of every little invoice to somewhere in Africa where it get audited and entered into the books , this is another kind of business that could be established overnight and it will take 1 airplane delivery of equipment to set up the whole thing .
    right now certain organization in US use an independent DC generator to power all there computers away from the electrical grid , and that’s how easy it is .
    I will say to the Cubans go for it there is nothing to fear but fear itself

  • Yeah that’s spot on actually. Definitely include Viñales. Cuba isn’t all just Beaches

  • Which Bob, he is! What intrigues me is your belief that there is a “Cuban private industry”. Where? Producing what? Pray disclose!

  • Which goods produced in Cuba are not produced by the Cuban government (for which read GAESA)? Are you aware of other manufacturers than the government?

  • Bob, the US is not the sole manufacturer in the world. Cubans like Americans, do have access to some manufactured goods and like Americans can purchase Chinese products. The difference is that unless being assisted by family members living in the capitalist world, they can’t afford those products and the re-opening of diplomatic relationship with the US isn’t going to change that!

  • Hey Bob, which of the state controlled manufacturers is going to produce what, to export to the United States? They have had fifty six years to produce products to sell to the rest of the world, so what is different about the US market? I realise that the US is a large market of 320 million, but would inform you that within 24 hours of Amsterdam by road rail and ferry there are 380 million and Cuba has failed to address that market.

  • I am not optimistic that Cuba’s private sector will be able to manufacture and export anything to even marginally impact the Cuban economy. The Castros will never permit that. As a result, this “good news” is really of little import.

  • Not at all. While the choices that Obama is making would not be my choices, I still trust that he shares the same goal to bring democracy to Cuba. Besides, I don’t drink cappuccinos.

  • I have always believed that Raul Castro was a real capitalist. Just not a free market capitalist. He believes in monopoly capitalism so long as he is the one controlling the monopoly.

  • Moses, you are correct that Cuban private industry has not yet been able to develop products for export to the US in the nine months since this was surprisingly permitted. Hopefully this will happen in the near future. It appears that both you and I see this as a big part of Cuba’s future economic growth.

  • Still, you must be choking on your cappuccino.

  • It’s the famous environmental policy in action Moses! Who says that the Castro family regime doesn’t give a s**t?

  • The workers used for the construction of Mariel were Cubans. Several came from our city and were recognisable as they were supplied with uniforms with Mariel across the back. The new rail track passes under the Autopista about 35 km west of Havana and the new road is nearby. As I indicated, there is no evident traffic on either and driving towards Havana from the new road, we saw three containers in the 35 km of autopista. All visiting political buddies are taken to Mariel and then pictures of them are on TV.

  • Good scout Carlyle. Great itinerary!!

  • Definitely not a government who takes care of its common citizens!

  • I’ve seen the photos of the Mariel Highway and commercial port and it appears to be well done. Obviously, Brazil, who’s having a major economic problem now, did a good job. It will be some time before its utilized but
    infrastructure wise it’s a good investment. Regarding managerial skills by the present regime I would give them a D at best and the results are obvious.
    Agriculturally Cuba should be self sufficient but again, corruption and bureaucracy have all but shut any move forward. The train system, as I’ve seen videos and photos is beyond sad. Hopefully the system will change but until it does not much will improve in my opinion.

  • Don’t stop at Havana. Get the Viazul coach timetables on the web (go to the Spanish part to see the full timetables), then go to to find casa particulars (B&Bs). You can easily make your own arrangements. Try to do a 2-3 week tour including places like Camaguey, Trinidad, Vinales, Santa Clara even Baracoa and of course Old Havana.
    But just visiting Havana is like just visiting New York and thinking you have visited the US.
    At the moment you will find a country that is in a time-warp, but just visiting Havana could provide you with a false impression of Cuba. What you will find if you pursue the type of trip I have suggested, is that the Cubans are a wonderful people, that the family is the basis of their social structure and that music is the soul of Cuba.
    Although you will see plenty of propaganda posters and hoardings you will find that away from Havana there is little talk of politics.

  • Well bjmack, the regime built a new railway in addition to a new highway to Mariel, the supposed modern commercial port, financed by Brazil (said to cost $5 billion). Problem is that the level of trade is miniscule and so far I haven’t seen a single train.
    The difficulty in Cuba bjmack is that the regime like all communist governments, churns out plans, usually for five years. but they don’t possess the managerial skills necessary to implement them.
    Agriculture is a prime example. Despite fifty five years of planning, the production has gone down, down, down.
    Their success has been to train doctors and school teachers and to then rent them out to other countries. That succeeds because they rent them out at high prices and pay the doctors and teachers at what are comparatively low rates. In short, they practice capitalism with people rather than goods.

  • True story. I took a train headed east from Camaguey. The bathrooms on the train were disgusting. The toilets emptied directly onto the tracks. There was no water to wash your hands. The food car was barren except for a woman illegally selling sandwiches of mystery meat and mayonnaise. Nearly every seat back in the passenger cars were broken and the threadbare floors were black and grimy. There is simply no excuse for that. None.

  • Name one “high economic impact” Cuban product US buyers are chomping at the bit to import from Cuba. Keep in mind that OFAC maintains a list of products that have been approved for importation. I know the subject in question.

  • I have been very curious about Cuba since I was 7 years old (1952) when my parents flew to Havana and left me in Miami. I have never understood nor believed in the embargo. The US had economic relations with other communist states. Why not Cuba? I hope to one day visit Havana.

  • I was waiting for that one Carlye! I’ve seen some videos and you are spot on. Hopefully, that will change sooner than later.

  • Moses, everyone but you is talking about high economic impact commercial importation of Cuban products into the US.

    You are alone in talking about limited economic impact tourist purchases. Your details are correct, just not the subject.

  • Bob, you are almost there. The relevant section you failed to read covers the Importation of Cuban merchandise. The purchase or other acquisition in Cuba and importation as accompanied baggage into the United States of merchandise with a value not to exceed $400 per person are
    authorized, provided that no more than
    $100 of the merchandise consists of
    alcohol or tobacco products and the
    merchandise is imported for personal
    use only. As I mentioned earlier, tourist – level limits will not do much to help the Cuban economy.

  • As of 16 January 2015 (CACR) at 31 C.F.R.§ 515.582 permitted the commercial importation of certain Cuban products. Read the regulations and you will find what is excluded is goods produced by the Cuban government, alcohol, and tobacco.

    You think my comments betray a lack of awareness? I don’t think so.

    Yes, the Castros not permitting competition was exactly the point I made.

  • You should take a look at the trains in Cuba bjmack.
    Then you would know how luxurious Amtrak is.

  • Both are optimistic if they think that Cubans with an average daily amount of 33 cents upon which to exist, are going to present an attractive marketplace. The Chinese have their own problems with the yen falling as their economy falters and sinks.
    But you are correct in indicating that Cuba will have to market itself to the capitalist countries. There is little point in looking at the socialist/communist ones.

  • The US is in a major line up with China in FRONT – Si !!!

  • “US companies to enter joint ventures . . .” “US companies to provide . . . .” “The hiring of Cubans . . . .” “The opening of . . . . .” “The sale of building materials . . . .” “The sale of aviation technology. . .” “The establishment of mail delivery points. . ” Does this sound familiar to any of you? It sure does to me. Talk about history repeating itself. Sad . . . really.

  • I hope, for the sake of the Cuban citizens it isn’t the Amtrak! Talk about antiquated!

  • Well it can’t be any worse IC! The world economies are actually in chaos, witness
    Brazil, Greece and the US’ many times over trillion dollar debt so economically Cuba,
    if it shifts its eco dynamics, could do quite well. The average Cuban is certainly just barely surviving so like you, for the benefit of the Cuban people, I do hope that the changes that have occurred in the past several months trickles down to the overall Cuban population. I’m cautiously optimistic!

  • Bob, your comments betrayed your lack of awareness of Cuban business. There are tourist- level limits to the amounts allowed to be purchased by Americans on holiday in Cuba. Walmart will SELL to TRD and not alongside. The Castros will never permit competition.

  • The one and only thing life guarantees is change. Change is coming to Cuba. What form that change will take is unknown. Whatever it will be I hope it will be for the benefit of the Cuban people.

  • Is that the Hershey train bjmack?

  • You are so right about the problems that typical free enterprise retailers would pose for TRD, Cimex and other GAESA subsidiaries.
    In July 2015, a 6,000 BTU air condition unit purchased retail in Canada $210 including sales tax. (Canadian dollars). Price in Cuba in July, 2015, $410 (US equivalent).
    In August 2014, a 40″ flat screen TV purchased retail in Canada, $390 including tax. Price the same month in Cuba, $1040.
    The Castro family regime – which through Raul’s d son-in-law controls GAESA, milks the people of Cuba of their preciously saved monies at every possible opportunity. Raul Castro would have been a very successful capitalist – indeed he probably is!

  • The train is moving slowly but at least is out of the station. It will be interesting to see how and if it will affect the average Cuban.

  • Actually the US purchase of Cuban goods made in the private sector and not in government owned businesses has been recently permitted. This makes it a bit simpler.

    I see the challenge to the Cuban government is this leading to the mid term possibility of US companies selling consumer products with twice the quality and at half the price to the Cuban people. That has to have the Cuban government really wondering how to respond. Imagine what would happen to TRD when the equivalent of a WalMart opened next door. (example only, I am no WalMart fan)

  • Absolutely, I don’t think that the Americans realize that a Cuban will save for six months to a year to buy a pair of shoes that cost 30cuc. How the hell can they afford to buy anything the Americans have to sell. They are dreaming in Technicolor.

  • Hope obviously springs eternal in the Obama administration.
    Just imagine American companies being allowed to directly hire Cuban employees – no way Jose!
    Joint ventures – only acceptable if the Government of Cuba (read GAESA) has 51%.
    The sale of building materials, supplies and sanitary items. How do they circumvent the sole importers?
    The establishment of FedEx and UPS centres – whose vehicles do they use for delivery and how much do they have to pay for them?
    As for installing passenger control equipment at the military owned airports, do they really think that the Cubans would not believe that they were electronic spies?
    It is all pie in the sky!
    Obviously viewed from New York by Mr. Kavulich, Cuba is a different place from the reality.

  • Read between the lines. These half-measures facilitate the SALE of US products to Cuba. What Cuba needs is for the US to BUY Cuban goods. Cuba may have access to US products but having the money to pay for those products is another issue.

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