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Trump trashes detente with Cuba

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says if he is elected, he will reverse all of what he called the "concessions" President Barack Obama made in an effort to normalize relations with Cuba, unless Havana meets certain demands.

Ali Shaker/VOA via Wikimedia Commons
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners," Trump said Friday in Miami, home to a large Cuban population.

The real estate billionaire said "We're going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression. We're on the right side. Great people. They are great people. The president's one-sided deal for Cuba and with Cuba, benefits only the Castro regime."

In the past, Trump has said he supports normalized relations, but would have preferred a better deal.

— Sep. 17, 2016

Claims embargo has cost Cuba $125.9 billion
Cuba wants 55-year US embargo lifted NOW

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

The Cuban government has called on the United States to do more to ease economic pressure on the nation in light of improved relations between Washington and Havana, saying U.S. economic sanctions cost Cuba $4.6 billion in the last financial year.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made the remark at a news conference Friday marking the launch of an annual campaign for a United Nations resolution that condemns the U.S. sanctions on the financially strapped island.

Rodriguez called the U.S. sanctions "the main cause of the economy's problems and obstacle to development."

He said over the 55 years the embargo had been in place, it had cost Cuba a total of $125.9 billion. The figure includes actual costs, such as fines on Cuba's business partners, and hypothetical figures, such as sales Cuban businesses could have been making in U.S. markets.

Since Cuba and the United States re-established diplomatic ties in a surprise move in December 2014, the two nations have opened embassies, restored commercial flights, eased travel restrictions, and negotiated trade, environmental, and communications agreements.

But the U.S. has yet to fully lift its trade embargo on Cuba, an issue that has been the subject of a nonbinding U.N. resolution in the General Assembly that has passed every year since 1992. Cuba has been the driving force behind the resolution, but it has overwhelming support from other nations.

Cuba and the United States have been at odds since Fidel Castro took control of the country — ousting a U.S.-backed government — and established a communist government in 1959. The trade embargo was established in 1960.

The United States traditionally votes against the U.N. resolution and claims Cuba owes it $10 billion for American property and companies seized by the Castro regime.

This year's vote in the U.N. is set for October 26.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he opposes the trade embargo, but says only Congress has the authority to completely lift the sanctions.

— Sep. 10, 2016

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wikimedia Commons
Commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba are on again after the maiden landing Wednesday of a JetBlue flight in Santa Clara, Cuba.

JetBlue garners honors

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

A lot of U.S. commercial airlines now have Cuba in their flight plans, but JetBlue draws the distinction as the first to land since 1961. 

JetBlue Flight 386 touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba, Wednesday around 10:40 a.m. (EST).

The first regular U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in more than 50 years originated from Fort Lauderdale with 150 passengers on board.

Among the passengers were U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes, journalists and travelers of Cuban descent. Passengers and crew were met by Santa Clara airport employees holding both Cuban and American flags.

U.S. citizens are still prohibited from visiting as tourists, although there have long been exceptions to the ban, ranging from visiting family to business, cultural, religious and educational travel.

JetBlue was not only the first to land, but was also a winner in the more prestigious flights to Havana sweepstakes. Wednesday, the U.S. Transportation Department granted eight U.S. airlines permission to begin scheduled commercial flights to Havana, which could start as early as this fall. Those airlines are:

JetBlue, American Airlines, Southwest, United, Delta, Alaska Air, Spirit and Frontier Airlines.

— Sep. 1, 2016

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