HAVANA, 10.ene. (EFE) The Colombian airline Avianca today sent a plane to Havana to bring to Bogota the 150 passengers of an Airbus A-320 from Miami that yesterday had to Read more
HAVANA, march 28 th Miami-based International Port Corp. said it’s the first U.S. company to open a staffed office in Cuba.
Several companies have received licenses from the U.S. government to start operations in Cuba since President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba yet they haven’t opened facilities yet.
IPC Owner and President Larry Nussbaum said his shipping firm has leased warehouse space in Havana from the Cuban government and staffed it with six employees. The Cuban workers were hired by a Cuban government employment agency, which IPC pays.
“The opportunities are great. Cuba is open for business,” Nussbaum said. “Now we need the American legislation to make it legal for companies like mine to expand what we can legally do in Cuba.”
IPC first received a license to conduct shipments between Miami and Havana in July 2012 on humanitarian groups. It’s since expanded that to include commercial shipments and cargo for diplomatic purposes, both by air and sea.
Having daily representatives in Cuba will help his company ensure shipments reach customers and go through customs properly, Nussbaum said.
“It’s a matter of properly respecting U.S. and Cuban law and building a relationship with them,” Nussbaum said.
Despite the restoration of diplomatic relations and the lifting of some travel restrictions, there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in shipments to Cuba because Cuba isn’t buying much from the U.S. The problem is the U.S. embargo restricts offering credit to Cuban purchasers of U.S. goods, so it’s not a competitive market.
“The growth of my business is dependent on the U.S. making more activities legal,” Nussbaum said.
IPC was also the first company to obtain permission from U.S. authorities to offer passenger ferry service from Florida to Cuba. Other U.S. companies have since followed. However, Cuba has not approved passenger ferry service.
As Cuba and the U.S. continue to warm up to each other, new Miami hotspot El Tucan is set to add some serious sizzle to the courtship.
HAVANA, Dec. 31th On December 30, 1939, at a villa on the outskirts of Havana, doors opened at what would become one of the world’s most famous cabarets. It was called the Tropicana—and for the next 20 years, it became the epicenter of hedonism, a veritable bacchanalian eden for the jet set.
Ernest Hemingway drank there. So did J.F.K. Marlon Brando supposedly tried to buy the drum set right off the stage—before taking off with two of the establishment’s best showgirls instead. The performers became celebrities and the show was so popular that, in 1956, the Tropicana debuted its first promotional flight from Miami to Havana, entertaining revelers on a Cubana de Aviación plane with in-air performances.
Then, toward the end of the 1950s, Fidel Castro took control of the country and everything changed; the club’s owners quickly fled (or were imprisoned) and the showgirls’ travel was greatly restricted. Americans, needless to say, were no longer welcome.
Today, however, marks a new era for the Tropicana. The club’s famous entertainers are set to perform at new Miami hotspot El Tucan for a New Year’s Eve bash that’s set to make history: When the feathered and bedazzled dancers hit the stage tonight, it’ll be the first time in 32 years they’ve done so in the United States.
“The arrival of the Tropicana dancers to the States is a sign,” said Havana-based filmmaker and producer of the show, Rolando Almirante. “It is like a greeting from Cuba, which is why we called the show Ola Havana. We wanted to use this moment to bring the roots of the two shores together again.”The performance is the culmination of a long, arduous—and surprising—journey that began over a year ago, when nightlife impresarios Mathieu Massa and Michael Ridard signed a 20-year lease on a space in upcoming Miami neighborhood Brickell with plans to open a Cuban cabaret.
“We had no idea what was about to happen between the two countries,” said Massa, a French transplant who, along with partner Ridard, owns Miami eateries Baoli and Marion. “A few weeks after we signed, [President] Obama shook the hand of Raul Castro for the first time in I don’t know how many years.”
Massa and Ridard had already teamed up with Cuban-American Emilia Menocal (director of the Charlize Theron–produced doc East of Havana) to create a dinner and show experience at El Tucan that would pay homage to the glamorous Cuban cabarets of the 1940s and ’50s. The trio, along with their team of creatives, began visiting Cuba in late 2014 and early 2015 to conduct some very fun research: “We rented a house in Havana and began going out every single night to every single live performance to get inspiration for the atmosphere and performance,” said Massa.
The biggest lesson he learned? “The personality of the characters and the performers is key to getting the audience emotionally involved,” he said—which is why El Tucan’s bartenders and waiters also had to audition for the gig.
As Massa and his team got to work on the new space, Cuban-American relationships continued to warm up. “I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to create a bridge, to give the opportunity to the younger Cuban-American generation to learn about their cultural heritage by bringing the jewel of the country—the Tropicana—here,” he said. Again, his timing was impeccable: After tracking down the man in charge at the Tropicana, Massa was informed that the cabaret was already planning a world tour. It was decided then, that the tour would kick off in Miami at the El Tucan.
“It’s very symbolic that we’re starting in Miami,” said Almirante, who, along with Massa, noted that there was plenty of red tape to cross. “We’ve been working on this a long time. But we feel that all that work will pay off.”
The one-hour performance will feature 15 dancers, two live singers—and 12 outfit changes (fun fact: the costumes arrived in nine crates from Cuba, weighing a staggering 850 pounds). And, if performer Alisbet Rebe Reyes, aka La Santiaguera, has any say in it, it will indeed be truly unforgettable.
“It is my first time in Miami and an absolute honor,” she said. “I am excited to share a piece of my culture and to give native Cubans in Miami a taste of home. I am emotional and ready to give the best performance Miami has ever seen. Get ready for some flavor!”
HAVANA, Dec. 18th With the U.S. and Cuban officials reaching an agreement to allow regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, American Airlines said it is ready to fly routes in 2016.
The Fort Worth-based carrier has operated charter service to Cuba since 1991 and plans to apply for the new commercial routes to originate out of its Miami hub, although it could seek service from its other hub airports.
“We are really pleased about the opportunity to engage in scheduled service sometime in 2016 between the United States and Cuba,” said Howard Kass, the airline’s vice president of regulatory affairs. “We look forward to filing our application with the [U.S. Department of Transportation] and we look forward to starting the service soon thereafter.”
Last week, American Airlines launched charter flights between Los Angeles and Havana. It already operates charters between Miami and Tampa to five Cuban cities: Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguin and Santa Clara.
HAVANA,July 24 Historic change between the U.S. and Cuba trickled down to the streets of Havana Thursday as a bartending competition in Havana featured a South Florida visitor.
Bartenders from around the globe showcased their skills at the King of the Daiquiri contest, which took place at El Bar Floridita. For the first time, the event included barkeeps from the U.S.
Among the participants was Miami resident John Christian Lermayer, and he said he felt very welcome at the competition. “All I can do is go back to America and tell other American bartenders how warm and receptive that the Cuban bartenders are to us,” he said.
Lermayer said he almost felt like a pioneer representing the continental U.S. in Havana. “The doors are going to open for more and more Americans. I can tell you that the first group of Americans that are going to come here are bartenders,” he said.
The competition, however, proving to be too much for Lermayer, as a Cuban barkeep was crowned King of the Daiquiri.
HAVANA, July 12 The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has granted Attica Group approval to operate its American subsidiary, Superfast Ferries LLC, a marine route between the US and Cuba.
Attica is still in the process of applying for approval from the Cuban government for its operation, which would operate in connection with travel and transportation of people, baggage and cargo.
“We are pleased to receive the US government approval and are excited to be able to offer service on the historically important US-Cuba marine route,” said Spiros Paschalis, CEO of Attica Group. “The US license confirms the reliability, trust and superior quality for which Attica Group’s fleet has been internationally renowned for. “
The service, which would provide daily non-stop travel between the Port of Miami in Florida and the port of Havana in Cuba, would enable Attica Group to use its industry experience to excel in the fast-growing US-Cuban market, the company said.
“Opening up the US-Cuba route is an important step in rebuilding relations between the two countries,” Paschalis said. “We hope to be able to provide travelers an opportunity to experience the immense beauty and rich cultural heritage of Cuba. We are proud to be chosen as trusted operators to carry passengers and cargo back and forth to an exciting new destination.”
Two of the group’s ferries have already been tapped as ideal for this service, each with carrying capacities of approximately 1,700 passengers, 700 berths and 2,000 lane meters garage, with room for about 570 cars.
The vessels also come equipped with restaurants, duty free shops, swimming pools, bars, playrooms and other facilities for families.
Attica’s is the latest proposed ferry service to receive US approval.
The company focuses on passenger shipping in the Adriatic between Greece and Italy.
US travel to Cuba remains prohibited except under 12 approved categories, from people-to-people trips to humanitarian work.
Attica’s ships are not new to the region; Resorts World Bimini’s Bimini Superfast is actually a former Attica Group ferry.
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