CUBA CENTRAL NEWS BRIEF: 10/12/2018

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

Kimberly Breier confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

The U.S. Senate confirmed Kimberly Breier yesterday to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the most important diplomatic position in U.S relations with Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Ms. Breier’s confirmation was pending before Senate for months following her hearing with the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on June 13. The delay was likely directed at a large bloc of political appointees rather than her specific nomination.

During her hearing before SFRC, Mrs. Breier discussed Cuba policy, including the State Department’s list of restricted entities in Cuba – entities with whom U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in financial transactions. Ms. Breier stated that the list is a “living document” and said she is “happy to continue to review that list as new information comes to light.”

U.S. urges Cuba to free jailed dissident on hunger strike

On October 4, Heather Nauert, the Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State issued a statement calling for the release of Tomás Nuñez Magdariada, member of the Cuban dissident group Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). Mr. Nuñez Magdariada, reportedly convicted in August on charges of attempting to assault a Cuban government official, has been on hunger strike for over 50 days. The State Department says he was arrested “on false charges and convicted him in a sham trial.” In the statement, the State Department also notes “his health is in a critical state, and that the [Cuban] authorities have denied his family the opportunity to see him.”

IN CUBA

Michael brings heavy rain, winds to Cuba

Hurricane Michael produced heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on its way toward its path of destruction in the Florida Panhandle and southeastern U.S. this week. ABC 10 News reported on Tuesday that Cuban authorities evacuated 300 people from the region. Cuban authorities also evacuated approximately 17,000 tourists from beach hotels in western Cuba. Cuba’s President Díaz-Canel, on his recently open Twitter account, reported his visit to affected areas. Granma reports that the President visited the coast south of Havana in Batabanó to evaluate damages. Several members of the Council of Ministers accompanied him. According to Cigar Aficionado, there is no report of significant damage to tobacco plantations in Pinar del Río.

Havana’s Universidad de las Artes de Cuba received Getty Foundation Award

Keeping it Modern, the Getty Foundation grantmaking initiative focused on the conservation of twentieth-century architecture, was awarded to ISA, the University of the Arts of Cuba, along with ten other projects around the world. ISA, founded in 1976, became at that time Cuba’s first university-level arts education. The $195,000 grant will support research and planning for the preservation of the educational complex, as well as the conservation efforts themselves, the LA Times reports. Frequent flooding has gradually worn away the brick and mortar, so an international team, which includes one of the original architects, will create computer models for flood risk assessment and mitigation, and study energy and environmental sustainability in order to develop a conservation management plan that includes adaptive reuse. The project will also provide training opportunities for Cuban conservation professionals, building local expertise.

CUBA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS

EU and Cuba hold Human Rights Dialogue

The European Union and Cuba held their fourth Human Rights Dialogue on Tuesday in Havana. It was the first such dialogue held under the formal umbrella of the EU-Cuba Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation. In the dialogue participated officials from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and officials from the European External Action Service, including Ambassador Alberto Navarro, head of the EU’s diplomatic mission in Cuba. Representatives of European missions in Havana also participated as observers. During the dialogue, several topics of human rights were discussed, such as legal guarantees in criminal proceedings, racism and xenophobia, right to health access, freedom of association and expression, and protection of cultural rights. The latter suggests the two parties discussed recent regulations affecting artists in Cuba. As we reported in July, a process of artist accreditation could lead to the sanctioning of private venues that feature live performances by performers without authorization from the Ministry of Culture.

RECOMMENDED READING

After a hurricane, mysterious attacks, and U.S. warnings, travelers return to Cuba, Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald

Interviewed by the Miami Herald, Collin Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel and member of CDA’s Board of Directors, said that Cuba tour operators had seen an increase in bookings over the summer. According to Mr. Laverty, the State Department’s prior travel advisory for Cuba affected not just regular visitors but academic trips as well. “Now that the travel alert has been downgraded, many of these schools are going back and reinstating their programs for March 2019,” said Mr. Laverty.

Cuba: cashing in on thawed relations, Callum Tyndall, Ship Technology

The world’s largest cruise port operator, UK-based Global Ports Holding (GPH), finalized a 15-year deal to modernize and operate Havana’s cruise ship port. The port plans to increase its cruise terminals from two to six by 2024 to accommodate the growing cruise industry.

EVENTS

The Cuban Economy: What’s Next for the Private Sector? October 16, Inter-American Dialogue

The Inter-American Dialogue will host a panel to discuss the private sector and entrepreneurship in Cuba. The panel will feature Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and former Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Havana; Dr. Ted Henken, Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York; and Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, Researcher and Consultant on the social economy and enterprise sector in Cuba. Peter Hakim, President Emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue will moderate the panel.

Manuel Mendive’s exhibition Nature, Spirit, and Body, Now-November 4, Bronx Museum of the Arts

First premiering at the Kennedy Center’s Artes de Cuba Festival, Cuban artist Manuel Mendive’s artwork is now on display at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. His work is inspired by African oral traditions and their influence on Cuba.

FIHAV 2018, October 29-November 2, Expocuba

The 37th edition of the International Fair of Havana is the most important gathering for those interested in doing business with Cuba. Representatives from public and private companies from virtually all of Latin America and the Caribbean participate in this annual event.

U.S.-Cuba Agriculture Business Conference, November 8-10, Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba will host a business conference in Havana in November at which business representatives, farmers, and officials are expected to be present.

MEDICC A Healthy Cuba Healthy World Conference: Celebrating History, Community & Culture, December 5-10, Meliã Santiago Hotel in Santiago de Cuba

MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba), a non-profit that strives to foster collaboration between the medical community in the U.S. and Cuba will host its 2018 conference in Cuba in December.

Blondie in Havana, March 10-14, 2019, Teatro Mella.

Blondie, one of America’s most renowned rock band, is performing in Havana.

Note: For a corrected version of Dr. Arturo López-Levy’s remarks on President Díaz-Canel’s visit to New York featured last week on Cuba Central, please click here.
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