The New Global Brand of Cuba
The head of the American Farm Bureau, representing 5.5 million USA farmers has called for the Obama Administration to allow unfettered travel to Cuba by USA citizens as well as private financing of agriculture sales to Cuba. Under current law, sales to Cuba must be "cash only" but this posture may be changed with the Obama Administration. Increased enforcement of USA laws pertaining to Cuba travel was started in 2004 and continues through 2012 except the Obama Administration has relaxed travel for Cuban Americans. The EU and Cuba have recently had discussions in 2012 to improve relations.
Cuba recently hosted Agriculture and Healthcare related companies in Havana during September. Cuba purchased almost $100 million dollars of USA goods and services. The event was licensed by the USA Departments of the Treasury and Commerce. President Raul Castro on December 18, 2008 offered to exchange political dissidents jailed in Cuba with the Cuban 5 held in Miami on espionage charges. The Obama Administration has not seriously considered Raul's proposal to date.
The U.S. Interests Section in Habana, adjacent to Hotel Nacional on the Malecon, has stepped up its activities to promote democracy and peaceful change in Cuba. 500,000 Cuban workers will be laid off in the near future. Supposedly private enterprises will be expanded and liberalized to absorb the newly unemployed.
The Association of Travel-Related Industry Professionals [ATRIP], formed last June, is heading the lobbying efforts to lift the travel ban under the Obama Administraion. The industry's argument: Easing restrictions could boost the U.S. economy in the long term by as much as $1.6 billion annually and create as many as 23,000 new jobs.
Fidel Castro resigned the majority of his positions within the Cuban government effective February 24, 2008 and is rarely seen. President Raul Castro is his successor of Fidel. . It is likely Cuba will pursue improved relations with the USA under the second term of the Obama presidency. The initial gestures made from the USA to Cuba in 2010 have caused a little "thaw" in USA Cuba relations
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