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havana-live-calesa-realHAVANA, Nov. 8th (DDC) The recent announcement by the Council of the Provincial Administration of Havana (CAP), which contains a number of provisions governing the operation of Cuba’s paladares (private restaurants), speaks of order and the discipline that should prevail at Read more

foreign201510291103000396267916732HAVANA, Nov. 1th  Chinese-made electric buses are expected to run on the streets of the Cuban capital soon as Chinese bus maker Yutong unveiled such a model at the 34th International Fair of Havana Monday. Read more

27cuba-master768HAVANA, Oct. 29th Travelers will soon be able to book accommodations to Cuba through TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel websites. It’s the latest development in an American travel industry that is slowly expanding tourism to Cuba. Read more

havana-live-real-estateHAVANA,Oct. 20th If the old real estate adage holds true — it’s all about location, location, location — then about 100 miles off the tip of Florida, it’s boom time. The real estate market in Havana, Cuba, is roaring.

Cuba is seeing its colonial-style mansions and Art Deco apartments selling in Read more

Glexis Novoa, 1989, from the series La etapa práctica (The Practical Stage) Courtesy The Farber Collection

On life and art in Cuba today, and a society on the brink of change

HAVANA, Oct. 18th (cubanartnews) From the outside, the windows reveal spattered walls, fragmented glimpses of Read more

r960-f05ac253e3c19349b3c8d9f3b7746e70HAVANA, Sept. 8th Hotels are overwhelmed and Cuba can’t build new hotels fast enough to cope with the boom in visitors from the US and around the world. Last year 3,524,779 people visited Cuba, a 17 per cent increase on Read more

WWhether Cuba will soon undergo an economic revolution depends more on politics in Washington than in Havana.

HAVANA,Sept. 7th  STRATFOR  Analysis
After all, the only thing standing in the way of unrestricted trade between the world’s largest economy and the island nation just 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of it is an embargo that rests on Read more

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The Internet stations are biodegradable cubes, with fake grass flooring and solar panels.

HAVANA, Sept. 5th (ClarinCuba‘s belated embrace of the Internet has people packing into places like the Plaza de la Revolución and the colonial fort Castillito, two of the island’s just 114 public WiFi hotspots.

Overall, the number of Cubans who regularly access the Web is still relatively small. Read more

14225450_534606676732152_1934007360386761508_nHAVANA, Sept. 3th (Reuters) Some 1.5 million more Cuban state workers will contribute to social security next month, with some paying income tax for the first time since the 1959 revolution as a law passed as part of efforts to modernize the economy gradually goes into effect.

The workers, mainly in industry, will pay a 5 percent social security tax on income over 500 pesos per month and income tax of 3 percent to 5 percent on earnings over 2,500 pesos per month, Cuban state media said on Friday.

Deputy Finance Minister Meisi Bolanos Weis said the tax would be deducted from workers’ pay checks by their employers, the Communist Party daily, Granma, reported.

With an eye to the increasing inequality that was sure to come after President Raul Castro began implementing cautious market-oriented reforms and reducing the role of the state in the economy, the Communist-run island passed its first comprehensive tax code in 2012.

Cuba had abolished taxes after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, when everyone began working for the state at low wages. The government then subsidized everything from health, education, sports and culture to food, utilities, transportation and social security.

The Caribbean nation’s average monthly wage last year was 687 pesos, or about $25 at the official exchange rate. There were 5 million in the labor force, of which 80 percent worked for the state.

The government envisions replacing subsidies for all with targeted welfare, meaning that the largely tax-free life under a paternalistic government is on its way out

But the code is being implemented gradually, as “conditions permit,” the law states, with such novelties as a property tax and inheritance tax still on hold.

Income tax was first applied to owners of small businesses, cultural figures and Cubans working for foreign companies and more recently to hundreds of thousands of farmers and 500,000 self-employed Cubans.

Most state workers, for example in the health and education sectors, do not pay income tax, but over the last three years began contributing to social security.

havana-live-header-zikaHAVANA,Sept. 2th  (AP) By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN Six months after President Raul Castro declared war on the Zika virus in Cuba, a militarized nationwide campaign of intensive mosquito spraying, monitoring and quarantine appears to be working.

Cuba is among the few countries in Read more

An American Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft takes off at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, France, August 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

HAVANA, Sept. 1th (Reuters) The U.S. government on Wednesday granted eight U.S. airlines permission to begin scheduled commercial flights to Havana starting as early as this fall, with American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) being awarded 35 direct flights a week.

JetBlue Airways Corp Read more

JetBlue-lance-mercredi-la-reprise-des-vols-commerciaux-americains-vers-CubaHAVANA,August 26th  American low-fare airline JetBlue is set to become the first United States airline in more than 50 years to fly a non-charter Cuba route Wednesday, when it starts nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Santa Clara .

Several airlines have gained U.S. Department of Transportation approval for non-Havana routes, but travelers eager to see the country before it is inundated with camera-touting American tourists need to act quickly, travel expert Rick Seaney said.

“There is going to be a gold rush,” said Seaney, CEO and co-founder of the travel websiteFareCompare. “More capacity is coming on almost every month over the next 18 months.”

JetBlue announced it will operate three weekly flights before adding daily service Oct.1. Destinations in two additional Cuban cities, Camagüey and Holguín, are slated to be added in November.

“I don’t think it’s going to be commercialized for another couple years, (but) they are putting some infrastructure in and … it would be great to see it in its pristine state,” Seaney said.

Although Havana, the most American-known destination, hasn’t been included in the first wave of routes, Seaney said the island is relatively small and easy to get around. JetBlue said routes to Havana will be announced at a later date.

Frontier, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines have also been approved by the DOT, and Seaney said many of the flights are already available to book.

“When they initially came out with the price points, they were in the $200 to $400 range depending on what part of the country you are flying out of. Cheaper out of Charlotte and Florida, a little more expensive out of places like Chicago and Minneapolis,” he said, noting prices are certain to come down.

Mohammad Javad Zarif,Bruno Rodriguez

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, talks to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, right, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. Iran’s foreign minister begun a Latin American tour in Cuba, declaring Iran and Cuba united by their histories of resisting what he called U.S. atrocities. Zarif also plans to visit Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA, August 24th  Cuba says US sanctions on the Latin American country and Iran have opened a common ground for the two countries to forge special trade ties.
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Havana where he met Cuban leaders, including President Raul Castro in what they described a new chapter in bilateral ties, PressTV reported.

Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Malmierca Diaz described Iran an “important partner” with a capacity to help his country enter Asian markets.

Diaz said despite President Barack Obama’s historic three-day visit to the island in March, the US maintains its sanctions on Cuba and his country has no choice but to implement short-term projects to achieve development.

“Both Cuba and Iran have reached a roadmap after years of sanctions which they should use to explore new economic opportunities and take advantage of each other’s capabilities,” he said.

A large economic delegation is accompanying Zarif on his six-day Latin America tour which also includes trips to Chile, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela aimed at boosting trade after the removal in January of US-led sanctions against Iran.

The first Iran-Cuba economic forum opened in Havana on Monday, with Diaz telling Iranian companies that they could become the engine of economic growth and dynamism in his country.

Iran and Cuba have long been close friends. Last week, Cuban Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas visited Tehran and met top Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani.

rssImages (2)HAVANA, August 23th When pilots Steve Koch and Jeff Yannucciello touch down in Agape Flights’ Embraer E100 at Jose Marti international Airport in Havana, Cuba, at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, a new chapter will officially unfold for the 36-year-old Christian aviation ministry.

Agape Flights typically delivers supplies for visiting mission groups in the Bahamas, Read more

UnbenanntHAVANA, August 23th Telecom giant AT&T Inc. has reached agreements for Cuba roaming and direct interconnection with Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA), giving travelers another option to make calls as they visit the island-nation.

“Cuba is a growing international calling Read more

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Le Chansonnier Havana

HAVANA, August 19th (Havana Times)  In real life, la China is the owner of a restaurant that has an entrance hall, a bar, a room with 11 tables, a reserved area, a unisex bathroom, kitchen, a stockroom and another bathroom for employees. In the parallel universe of building licenses, la China’s restaurant was remodeled as Read more

titan-tropic-competicion-por-etapas-cubaThe second edition of the Titan Tropic Cuba by GAES will take place in Cuba from the 3rd to the 8th of December 2016. Registration is available to U.S. participants at www.titantropic.com until October 31st, 2016.

HAVANA, Read more

madonna-en-cuba-vistar2HAVANA, Aug. 16 News outlets from around the world and the social media have leaked that Madonna is in Cuba. Right now, the pop diva is staying at the larger-than-life and bustling Saratoga Hotel in Havana, the same lodging where Paris Hilton stayed a couple of years ago.

Tonight, followers, journalists and paparazzi had swarmed Read more

d503b79bddae5a3eeed71620c726e5d6_XLHAVANA, August 14th Nowhere more so than in linking Cuba’s rapprochement with the U.S., which is driven by normalizing diplomatic relations combined with decade’s worth of pent up business and tourist interests, with the need to turn around Puerto Rico’s fortunes in a manner palatable Read more

12541161_10153780643901083_7341025473107288063_nHAVANA, August 12th  Is has been widely reported, Cuba has entered a new period of austerity. On July 8, President Castro told the Cuban National Assembly that Cuban Read more

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Evilio Aguilar poses with his Fiat Polski 126p in a garage in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, August 10, 2016. An estimated 10,000 Polskis are registered in Cuba, according to aficionados. Photo: Ramon Espinosa, AP

HAVANA, August 11th  (AP)  Ramses Fernandez’s most cherished possession is barely larger than a refrigerator, with the legroom of an economy airplane seat and a little more horsepower than a riding lawnmower.

“That’s my second baby,” said Fernandez, smiling proudly at the 39-year-old Read more

Cuba Credit CardHAVANA, August 8th  When South Florida banking consultant Fernando Capablanca recently spoke about the Cuban banking system — the pre-1959 Cuban banking system — he was surprised at the compliments he received.

That the perspective of someone with his long years in Read more

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Chris Raxworthy, curator at the American Museum of Natural History, holds a Cuban knight anole at his office on July 20, 2016. The species will be among the living Cuban reptiles on exhibit at the museum after a groundbreaking agreement to formalize and deepen collaboration on research and education with Cuban scientists. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

HAVANA, August 7th The famed American Museum of Natural History opens an exhibition this fall that its scientists say breaks new ground on multiple fronts.

Live reptiles, models of species — some scary — from a misty primordial past, but all evidence of an end to a deep, and decades Read more

havana-live-zikaHAVANA,August 5th (Reuters)  Cuba reported on Wednesday two new cases of residents contracting the mosquito-borne Zika virus locally, in a setback for the Caribbean country that has taken a series of measures in an attempt to stave off the epidemic.

Since the current outbreak of Zika in Brazil last year, where it has been linked Read more

4027228w-640x640x80HAVANA, August 2th (Reuters) Cuba said on Monday it was not willing to rush talks with the United States over multibillion-dollar claims and counter-claims and would agree only to an accord that addressed the grievances of both sides.

Washington is seeking upward of $10 billion, Read more

cuba-sanctions-cop-wash-examHAVANA, July 31th Critics of President Obama’s diplomatic thaw with Cuba are questioning why a top official with the U.S. government office charged with maintaining the trade embargo and leveling sanctions against Cuba was in Read more

Havana, Jul 30 (PL) Cuban judicial authorities sentenced 11 people to penal sentences going from 15 to 30 years of prison, because of drug trafficking, linked with international purchasers, said Cuban newspaper GRANMA here Friday.

Granma said that according to the National Antidrug Direction Office (DNA in Spanish) actions were made in the Read more

havana-live_jetblueHAVANA,July 29th Low-cost airline JetBlue Airways announced Thursday that it will start its commercial flights to Cuba next month.

As long as the Cuban government approves, JetBlue will become the first U.S. commercial airline to fly to Cuba in more than half a century on Aug. 31.

JetBlue will send a plane from Fort Lauderdale Read more

venezuela-cuba-petroleo-685x342-685x342HAVANA, July 28th   Venezuela’s grim situation is impacting not only millions of households around the country — it is also sending panic waves across the Caribbean all the way to Cuba, a solid ally that for decades now has relied heavily on Chavismo’s generosity.

Cuba, has alienated itself from the rest of the world and has largely relied on Venezuela to stay financially afloat. But Venezuela’s falling oil prices is causing Cuba to distance itself from the South American country.

So far this year Venezuelan oil shipments to the island have declined by 19.5 percent, forcing an energy rationing that is reminding people of the early 90s, when the Soviet Union dissolved and Cuba lost its top provider almost overnight.

Now with Venezuela’s wealth slowly fading away, the geopolitical chessboard may change in a way that some say will inevitably drive Havana closer to the U.S.

“Venezuela’s inability to help Cuba creates a void that will very likely be filled by the U.S.,” said foreign policy expert Giovanna De Michelle to Fox News Latino.

“Cuba’s opening to foreign investment has been slow, but now they don’t have another option if you consider Venezuela’s grim situation,” said Felix Arellano, also an internationalist.

Venezuela and Cuba started strengthening ties soon after Hugo Chavez, a socialist and open admirer of Fidel Castro, came to power in 1999. The alliance, fueled by a close personal friendship, helped the Castro brothers keep the island afloat amid the Soviet Union domino collapse.

Currently – and for more than a decade now – Venezuela supplies more than 50 percent of the island’s intake of oil at very preferential terms. In exchange, starting 2003 Cuba started providing human resources to Venezuela, mostly teachers and medical doctors to support Chavez’s various social programs, like Barrio Adentro and Misión Robinson, which focused on reducing analphabetism.

According to the most recent information available, in 2013 Venezuela provided Cuba with 99,000 barrels of crude oil a day. To date, Cuba has sent approximately 200,000 workers to Venezuela.

This oil-for-workers deal greatly benefitted both Castro’s and Chavez’s agendas: while Cuba kept running on cheap oil, Venezuela found a way to secure and preserve the social programs that are the backbone of Chavismo.

After Chavez died in 2013, his handpicked successor Nicolas Maduro kept the close relationship with Fidel and Raul Castro — according to an FNL count, Maduro has visited Cuba 15 times since becoming president three years ago.

“The new economic scenario doesn’t mean that political relations between Cuba and Venezuela will turn sour,” according to foreign analyst Edgar Otalvora. “Ideologically, they will remain close,” he said, pointing at Raul Castro’s cautious speech before the National Assembly on July 8th.

However, Castro did turn heads when he acknowledged the repercussions that Venezuela’s deepening crisis is having on Cuba.

He said Cuba’s economy grew just 1 percent in the first part of the year, half of what the government had planned for, due in part to “a certain contraction in the fuel supplies agreed upon with Venezuela, despite the firm will of President Maduro and his government to fulfill them.”

“Logically that has caused additional tensions in the functioning of the Cuban economy,” Castro told the National Assembly.

Analysts say the severity of the financial and political crisis in Venezuela may force Cuba to change course sooner rather than later.

“Havana needs to also start drawing investments from Europe, Brazil, Canada and China,” Arellano told FNL. “The down part for the Castro brothers is that this might require political changes in the near future.”

As for the U.S., it is very likely Washington will keep pushing to increase its influence in Cuba regardless of November’s election outcome.

“American investors are betting big on Cuba, which will probably result in the ease of the U.S. embargo [over the island] in the near future,” De Michelle said.

“This will improve the wellbeing of the Cuban people and will make Venezuela’s aid less necessary,” the expert added.

Another scenario is that Venezuela’s opposition keeps gaining ground and, if and when in power, brings to a halt the financial aid it has publicly condemned more than once — many say Cuba is benefitting way more than Venezuela with the current arrangement.

“The loss of the Cuban doctors wouldn’t be such a big problem for Venezuela, given the fact that some of them just work as spies and they can be replaced with our own doctors,” Arellano said.

On top of this, it is no that secret many of these social workers have used their appointment to Venezuela as an opportunity to flee the island’s regime.

According to Colombian authorities, in 2015 as many as 720 Cuban medical doctors entered to their territory from Venezuela. Hundreds of them then requested U.S. visas.
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/07/27/venezuela-cuts-oils-shipments-to-cuba-forcing-castros-to-consider-veer-to-us/

Participants wear costumes during the Cuban Otaku festival at a cinema in Havana, Cuba, July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Participants wear costumes during the Cuban Otaku festival at a cinema in Havana, Cuba, July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

HAVANA,July 25th (Reuters) Cuba may be one of the world’s least connected countries but that is not stopping the Japanese subculture of animated movies, manga comics and video games from spreading feverishly among its youth.

More than a thousand “Otakus,” or fans of such Read more