U.S. orders 60% of staff out of embassy in Cuba – AP

admin   •   October 2, 2017   •   3181

The United States ordered new measures that will halt regular visa operations and cut the U.S. Diplomatic presence in Cuba by half due to unexplained incidents that have harmed the health of some U.S. diplomats there.

The attacks, which are of an unknown nature, have injured 21 U.S. Embassy employees in Cuba, causing symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping, the state department said.

The embassy will stop processing visas and will issue a new travel warning on Friday that will warn U.S. citizens not to visit and offer only emergency services to U.S. citizens.

Cubans were disappointed over the new measures.

“But why? With so many families that want to come together — but why? That’s unnecessary, it’s inhuman,” said Laura Hernandez, a Cuban student.

 “With the new Trump administration, everything has been lost. Everything has gone backward. We are turning back to the same thing we had before. Everything we advanced with Obama has now turned back,” said Andres Murci, a student.

It is unclear how this would affect the U.S.- Cuban migration accord hammered out in the 1990s under which the United States grants 20,000 visas per year in return for Cuba preventing illegal immigration. — Reuters




Empty taxis, buses and hotel lobbies: Cuba sees tourism dropping due to Trump travel restrictions

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019

Tourists boarding tourist bus, antique cars that function as tourist taxis parked and waiting for clients, empty lobby in hotel | Courtesy : Reuters

Tourism to Cuba will likely drop 8.5% this year in the wake of tighter U.S. restrictions on travel to the Caribbean island, the government said on Thursday (July 11), and the decline in arrivals will further hurt Cuba’s already ailing centrally planned economy.

A boom in tourism over the last few years has helped offset weaker exports and a steep decline in aid from key ally Venezuela that has forced the government to take austerity measures like cutting imports.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to squeeze that hard currency revenue stream too as part of its attempt to force the government to reform and stop supporting Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

Last month it banned cruise ships and private planes and yachts from traveling to the island and ended a heavily used educational category of travel allowed as an exemption to the overall ban on U.S. tourism.

Cubans at the heart of the tourism industry call the changes “noticeable.”

Luis Manuel Perez, who drives antique cars that serve as taxis, said that several drivers had recently resigned because of poor business.

And Fernando Lopez, a horse-drawn carriage driver, said the decline in tourism since the cruise ship restriction has affected all tourism-related industries.

Tourism minister Manuel Marrero estimated 4.3 million people would visit Cuba this year, down from the goal of more than 5 million, and 4.7 million last year.

Looser restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba under former President Barack Obama, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and commercial flights and cruises had caused a spike in U.S. visits to the country.

U.S. travelers excluding Cuban-Americans became the second- biggest group of tourists on the island in recent years after Canadians, with cruise travelers accounting for half of them.

But Trump has rolled back much of Obama’s detente and taken additional measures to punish the economy and government.

Marrero said the country would continue to develop the tourism sector regardless of the U.S. measures. It is planning new dolphinariums and the country’s first amusement park, for example.

Cranes tower around Havana at the construction sites of what are to be the city’s first generation of luxury hotels, in a bid to attract a new type of client.

Cuba, which receives just two-thirds of the visitors that neighboring Dominican Republic does although it is twice as large, has traditionally focused on resort tourism or travelers on a medium budget. (REUTERS)

(Production: Nelson Gonzalez/Mario Fuentes/Heriberto Rodriguez/Anett Rios

Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2019

Workers packing avocados in boxes | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

President Donald Trump said on Thursday (May 30) that the United States will impose a 5% tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped.

“The tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed,” Trump said on Twitter.

In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and to 25% on Oct. 1.

“Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States,” Trump said in the statement.

“Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries,” he said. (REUTERS)

Filipino seafarer rescued from sea north of Cuba a day after falling overboard

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2018

Cruise ship lifeboat motoring towards a man treading water at sea (Image grabbed from Reuters video)


A Filipino who fell from a cruise ship north of the Cuban coastline was rescued on Sunday, 21 miles from land by another cruise ship after treading water for almost 24 hours.

A video posted on Facebook by social media user Laura Morgan shows a lifeboat motoring towards a man in the water. The lifeboat was from cruise ship ‘Carnival Glory’, who reported they had rescued a 33-year-old ‘Norwegian Getaway’ crew member.

The US Coast Guard said the man was reported missing by Norwegian cruise line on Saturday, 28 miles northwest of Pinar Del Rio, triggering rescue operations.

The coast guard added that the man was in a stable condition and that the incident is under investigation. — REUTERS


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