U.S.-CUBA NEWS BRIEF: 3/8/2019

Dear friends,

Two things at the top:

First, today is International Women’s Day, and CDA extends a warm embrace to each of the incredible women in the greater CDA family – in Cuba; in Washington, DC; in Miami; and beyond. We celebrate you and the many ways you make our world a better place. ¡Abrazos a todas!

Second, for those of you in or near Washington, DC, SAVE THE DATE(S) for two events you DON’T. WANT. TO. MISS: Cuban funk musician Cimafunk in concert at Tropicalia Lounge Thursday, March 28, and film screenings with Cuban visionaries at Landmark E Street Cinema Wednesday, April 3. Details for both in the events section below.

This week, in Cuba news…


Sec. Pompeo announces tightening of Cuba embargo

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration will allow a partial implementation of Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act. As we reported last week, Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act (also known as the LIBERTAD Act) allows lawsuits against entities “trafficking” in properties confiscated by the Cuban government in the 1960s. However, the provision has never entered into force because each administration since the enactment of Helms-Burton has elected to waive implementation.

On Monday, a State Department statement said that the administration would provide a suspension of Title III for 30 days, except for actions against Cuban entities included in the List of Restricted Entities and Subentitites Associated With Cuba as of November 15, 2018. The statement added that such action “is necessary to the national interests of the U.S. and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.”

According to Reuters, lawsuits against Cuban entities included in the List will be permitted beginning on March 19, and the 30-day extension of the waiver for other entities will be in place until April 17. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) said on Twitter that this action would be the “first in a series of steps” against the Cuban government.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the action, saying that it was “conceived by the minds of those who identify Cuba as a colonial possession.” In a press release quoted by the Washington ExaminerIPS, and OnCuba News, CDA Executive Director Emily Mendrala said that “allowing suits in U.S. courts will severely complicate future diplomatic negotiations on the resolution of property claims. Such bilateral talks, like those successfully concluded with Iran and Nicaragua, though they proceed slowly, have the greatest likelihood of success. A flood of new lawsuits will gum up the works for any future negotiation.”

Little League to include Cuban youth players

AP reports that the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) and Little League International (LLI) signed an agreement on Wednesday that will allow young Cuban baseball players between the ages of 4 and 12 to play in Little League international tournaments, including the Caribbean Region Tournament qualifier tournament in Curacao in July. In a statement released by Little League, it announced that the League “will work with the [FCB] and provide support for tournament-related travel, volunteer education and outreach, field renovation and development, and equipment.”

The agreement comes after the FCB and the Major League Baseball (MLB) signed a deal that will allow Cuban baseball players to play professionally in the U.S. As we reported before, under this agreement, the FCB will release players over 25 years old and with more than six years of experience to play in the MLB and, in turn, will receive a release fee independent from the player’s contract salary.


‘Círculos de Abuelos’ serve Cuba’s rapidly aging population — the oldest in the Americas

Miami Herald reports that, as Cuba has become the oldest country in the Western Hemisphere in demographic terms, adult daycare programs have become increasingly important. The programs include a mix of activities including exercise programs, dances, choir practice, and beauty parlours. In six years, 30 percent of the Cuban population will be over 60 years old, and Cuba’s aging population brings economic and social challenges for its society. With a high life expectancy, even higher than in the U.S., a high level of emigration, and low fertility rates, the size of Cuba’s active labor force is decreasing. The adult daycare programs rely on support from the Cuban Ministry of Health as well as non-governmental actors such as the Catholic Church and Jewish community.

Updated numbers on Cuba’s Constitutional Referendum

Proyecto Inventarioa project aimed to promote open data and transparency in Cuba, has published a breakdown of Constitutional referendum votes by province. While Havana has the largest voter registry, it also had the lowest percentage of turnout (85.9 percent); Pinar del Río enjoyed the highest voter turnout with 93.46 percent. Data provided by Cuba’s National Electoral Commission (CEN) shows that Holguín was the province with the highest percentage of voters (12.95 percent) who chose to vote “no” for the proposal, followed by Guantánamo (12.69 percent). Pinar del Río’s voting population supported the new Constitution at a level of 83.9 percent.

Cuba to start 4G Internet service three months after opening data service

Xinhua reports that Since December 2018, when Cuba’s communications state monopoly ETECSA started offering mobile network internet connection, over 1.8 million users have accessed data on their smartphones for the first time. However, the high usage rate reportedly surprised communications officials. According to one ETECSA official, the service is at 160 percent of its capacity, prompting complaints from users. This week, ETECSA announced that it would start testing 4G service for select users. The coverage area will include Havana, Varadero, and the Special Development Zone of Mariel.


Nicolás Maduro designates Hugo Chávez’s brother as ambassador to Cuba

On Thursday, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro announced in a tweet that he was designating Adán Chávez as ambassador to Cuba. Mr. Chávez was a close ally of his brother’s and has been the same for Maduro. Mr. Chávez is also the Vice President for International Affairs of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) and served as ambassador to Havana during the presidency of his brother. He is one of several government officials sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as of August 2017.


Cuba isn’t a democracy, but its people do have opportunitiesJames Baer, Washington Post.

In a letter to the Editor, Mr. Baer refutes the Editorial Board’s opinion in Cubans are losing their patience — and their fear. For Mr. Baer, the island is not a democratic country, but the civil society has mechanisms of popular participation in the political system. For the author, the U.S. would be able to engage “more effectively with Cubans if we understood the dynamics of the country’s evolving political system rather than assuming Cold War analogies that no longer apply.”


NSO DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds Presents – A Celebration of International Women’s DayMarch 8, The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

Celebrating International Women’s Day, comedian Sarah Silverman hosts the latest show in The Kennedy Center’s Declassified series—casual Friday-night concerts that defy the traditional symphony experience with innovative live music. The evening features songwriter Julien Baker, Cuban singer/songwriter Danay Suárez, operatic soprano Leah Hawkins, and conductor Akiko Fujimoto; with NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds on piano.

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

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

Women, Leadership and Health Equity in Cuba, June 2 to 8 (sign up deadline March 15), Cuba

MEDICC is leading a trip to Havana and Artemisa for participants to connect with pioneering women in health, medicine & biotech; the arts; law and parliament; social and environmental sciences; the cooperative movement; NGOs; and the expanding private sector.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Pinar del RioMarch 16/17-24, Pinar del Rio

Fund for Reconciliation and Development will lead a trip to Pinar del Rio to explore Cuba’s strong Celtic tradition.

Cimafunk ConcertMarch 28, Tropicalia Lounge, Washington, DC

Cuban musician Cimafunk has conquered the Cuban musical panorama in the last months and now is on his first international tour. Billboard considers the artist among the 10 Latin Artist to Watch in 2019. His repertoire includes songs that are a mix of funk, soul, blues, and Cuban rhythms such as timba, salsa, changüí, son and trova, among others. Be on the lookout for shows across the U.S. and a concert in Washington, DC, later this month.

Short Films Screening: Cuban VisionariesApril 3, Landmark´s E Street Cinema, Washington, DC

The Platform for Innovation and Dialogue with Cuba is hosting a screening of four short films featuring innovators working to solve agricultural, social justice, healthcare, and urban transportation challenges. Come for a wine reception, followed by film screenings and a conversation with the film subjects Magia Lopez, Nayvis Diaz, Fernando Funes Monzote, and Jorge Llibre.

Redefining U.S. national security: interlinkages with American society and foreign policyApril 5, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

On April 5, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) and the Foreign Policy program at The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on how domestic and foreign policy decisions influence each other in the current political environment. CDA Executive Director Emily Mendrala will participate as panelist.

Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island), until May 19, Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

The exhibition traces Sánchez’s artistic journey from her early days in Cuba to her extended visits to Europe and residence in New York, and finally her move to Puerto Rico, where she now lives and works. The exhibition title, I Am an Island, serves as a personal metaphor for Sanchez’s experience as an islander—connected to and disconnected from both the mainland and mainstream art currents.

Cuban American Youth Orchestra, Juntos en Armonía TourMay 20-27, 2019, Havana

CAYO embarks on its first full orchestra tour. Under the leadership of conductor James Ross, CAYO’s program will display the world premiere of a new composition by Guido López-Gavilán. Building on the success of pilot programs conducted over the past year, CAYO’s inaugural tour harnesses the power of cultural diplomacy to support Cuban musicians and promote harmony and understanding between the U.S. and its long-estranged neighbor.

One of Those Havana Nights, May 23 to 27, Teatro Bellas Artes and Teatro Mella, Havana, Cuba

Tim McGraw will be in Havana for the first time ever! The Grammy Award-winning superstar will perform two unique acoustic shows during the trip at Teatro Bellas Artes and at renowned Teatro Mella. Tim will be joined by some amazing Cuban artists, including Carlos Varela, Tradicionales de los 50, and the GRAMMY® Award-winning Cuban music legends Los Van Van.

Support CDA: Click here to support CDA’s work bringing you the Cuba Central News Brief each week and promoting a U.S. policy toward Cuba based on engagement and recognition of Cuba’s sovereignty. Make your 100% tax-deductible gift now!

Like our work? Keep up with CDA on FacebookTwitterMedium, and Instagram!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: