Confusion continues regarding non-stop flight schedules from U.S. cities to Cuba. Most current flights arrive at Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. There are still a few flights to other cities—mostly in the east—and the schedules seem to change from week to week.
I still have not seen anything printed that confirms the rumor of Southwest Airlines beginning flights from Las Vegas to Havana in December, but I’d sure bet on it. It’s a little ironic—it is a common belief among historians that if the Cuban Revolution never happened, Las Vegas today would be about half its present size. When Fidel kicked The Mob out of Havana in 1959, most of the mobster money in Cuba ended up in Vegas, and stayed in Vegas.
Please click on the link below to read a current informative article from Insight Cuba regarding current and projected flights to Havana.
First—an update on my last article about President Trump and Cuba: My friends and contacts in Havana have reported a serious increase in the number of visitors from the U.S. Government—not just tourists and private investors, but U.S. Government officials. This would seem to add support to my beliefs mentioned in my previous article. But once again–with issues involving Cuba and the U.S. Government—few people know what will happen and especially when it will happen.
Currency trading is one of the most common questions I receive from potential Cuba travelers. It is also a relatively complicated subject which seems to change frequently. Rather than re-explain my opinion and experience with currencies, I am providing a link below to an article about this subject. It is followed by comments by an equally informed author with a contrarian viewpoint. I suggest you read the back-and-forth comments, which were recently published in HavanaTimes.org. (My personal beliefs align more with commenter Bob Michaels, who provided the contrarian viewpoint.)
While reading this article, I also suggest you scroll through this online newspaper. Read the Opinion section, and articles that are not necessarily favorable to the Cuban government. Unless you have been closely following a variety of bloggers and commentators who write about contemporary Cuba, you may be surprised to discover that dissent in Cuba is not automatically crushed.
I seriously believe that President Trump will soon make a move towards normalizing relations with the government of Cuba. While watching Trump’s historic meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, I first mentioned this theory to friends as a joke. I soon realized that there are several reasons to now believe that a deal is in the works.
Regardless of how one feels about President Trump, it is clear that one of his major goals has been to eliminate the legacy of President Obama. I personally liked some of Obama’s executive actions, and disapproved of others. If you look at this list of goals objectively, you can see that Trump has reversed (or tried to reverse) all of them. It would be the ultimate insult to Obama if President Trump reaches an understanding with Cuba. Trump could claim, “Obama screwed up normalization, but I negotiated it successfully!” And even though 5 years ago, President Raul Castro said he would step down early in 2018, most of Trump’s base of supporters don’t know that, or don’t care, so Trump can claim that he “got rid of the commie Cuban Castro Brothers.”
Trump is unpredictable, and he likes to appear erratic to keep his adversaries confused. Normalization would be consistent with this behavior. Trump has been interested in Cuban real estate for decades. In 1998 he sent representatives to explore business opportunities on the island. They even prepared sketches of what a Trump Tower Havana would look like, even though this research could have been considered illegal at the time by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Because of today’s family-separation crisis along the Texas border, Trump may decide he finally wants to or needs to promote a cause that is actually supported by most Americans—an end to the embargo against Cuba. This goal is also advocated by a majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami. Many of them previously invested with relatives in Cuban real estate and businesses following Obama’s 2014 opening. This was followed by a sharp decrease in property values after Trump’s speech last year, which discouraged—but did not prohibit—Americans from traveling to Cuba. These actions artificially produced bargain prices for properties and businesses that will eventually be worth many times today’s values. It’s probably a coincidence, but this sounds like a plan straight out of Trump’s bestseller: The Art of the Deal.
While Trump has purposely alienated our best allies such as Canada and the UK, for whatever reasons he has been cozying up to powerful dictators who are considered by most Americans to be our competitors and even potential enemies. Think about a scale of 1-10, where “10” is the most evil tyrant imaginable. China’s Xi could be rated “6,” Russia’s Putin could be an “8,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman could be a “9,” and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un would definitely be a “10.” The former chief diplomat to Cuba during the Carter and Reagan administrations, Wayne Smith, rated Fidel Castro as a “3” on the scale of dictatorial tyrants. Fidel’s brother Raul, who assumed power in 2006, was less repressive, so let’s assign him a “2.”
And now, the Castros are gone, much to the delight of the declining number of radical Cuban exiles in Miami. Cuba now has a younger, more moderate and pragmatic President. Miguel Diaz-Canel appears to be intelligent enough to realize that if he simply praises Trump, and offers him oceanfront property to develop, an end to the embargo might be negotiated.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach is only an hour from Havana by air and less than a day’s cruise by yacht. A meeting somewhere in the Caribbean would logistically be many times easier than Trump’s 16-hour flight to Singapore to deal with Rocket Man. Can you just imagine the publicity and video footage that could be produced if Trump eventually visits Diaz-Canel at Revolutionary Square and announces and end to the embargo? Of course, Congress would have to approve. No worries–the Democrats would approve enthusiastically. Most of the Republicans would do whatever Trump orders them to do.
A good time for President Trump to go to Cuba would be in October, just before the November U.S. elections. (By the way, the Russian Embassy in Miramar would be a terrific, ultra-secure site for Trump to meet up again with his BFF Vladimir Putin.)
Massive Russian Embassy in Miramar, west of Havana
Trump could actually learn to appreciate Cuba as a potential American ally. Most Cubans, who have relatives in nearby south Florida, are very America-focused. They closely follow our movies, music, television programs, and sports teams—they even have Super Bowl parties! Unlike so many dead-beat countries around the globe that only want U.S. dollars handed to their dictator-leaders, Cuba simply wants American investors and cash-paying tourists. Most Cubans would also greatly appreciate it if the United States government would finally abandon the idea of regaining control of their beautiful Caribbean island.
My theory may seem far-fetched at a time when travel to Cuba is officially discouraged by our government. Various current articles about Cuba in newspapers and travel magazines discuss declining American interest and half-filled flights. In the last 12 months, Spirit, Frontier, and Alaska Airlines have cancelled all services to Cuba. The future of airline service appears gloomy and hopeless. But consider this: United, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines are quietly adding flights to their Havana schedules, beginning this fall—30 more flights a week! Why would CEO’s of these companies even consider such a move? Probably because they have received leaked insider information, and probably because they’ve read The Art of the Deal. ¡Viva Cuba Libre!
As I mentioned in my last article, more scheduled flights on U.S. airlines to Cuba are steadily being added. This seems counter-intuitive, given several factors which would seem to discourage this. President Trump’s speech last year seriously discouraged Americans from flying to Cuba, even though no real changes were made in the travel regulations. The mysterious sonic “attacks” were just scary enough to discourage more visitors. In reality, the odds of being affected by them are about the same as being hit by a meteor. The number of American visitors to Cuba is down sharply from the previous year. And yet—JetBlue, Southwest, and United are actually ADDING scheduled flights to Cuba. Why? Because they probably know something that the general public does not yet know.
As I said in my last posting, for decades, anti-Cuba hardliner exiles in Miami and in the U.S. government have insisted that the U.S. embargo would never end until the Castros were out of power. Well–Raul Castro has been replaced by President Diaz-Canel. In addition, it is quite clear to both Anti-Trump and Pro-Trump supporters that one of Trump’s major motivations is to end any actions initiated by President Obama, whether those actions made any sense or not. President Trump now can claim to his base supporters that he “got rid of the Castros” (even though Raul’s departure had been scheduled five years earlier). President Trump can now publicly proclaim that he is the new hero of the Cuban people. Whoo-hoo!
This seems very consistent with his international policies on parade this week. He has shown support and “understanding” for adversaries such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, while driving a wedge between the U.S. and our former best allies. I seriously expect Trump to reverse his Cuba policies again soon, and even call for an end to the Embargo. Why else would these airlines suddenly decide to add flights to Cuba, when logically, they should be cutting back even more? Because these plans were probably leaked!
Think about it–Cubans watch a lot of American television–everything from Major League Baseball & the Super Bowl, to Homeland, The Simpsons, 60 Minutes, the Academy Awards, and…..re-runs of The Apprentice! They can watch whatever they want. Some have access to illegal DirecTV satellite service. Others rent “The Package” every week—one of thousands of portable hard drives that are rented by the hour to download current American television programs. This is also illegal. (Many worthwhile things in Cuba are illegal—and rarely enforced.)
Since a clear majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami now favor an end to the Embargo, it would make sense politically for Trump to suddenly become the hero who “kicked out the Castros” and “opened-up” Cuba. He has dreamed of a Trump Tower Havana for over a decade. Trump can make a victorious appearance in Havana amid screaming throngs of Cubans (who are well-aware of a phony when they see one). What a spectacle! He could make an appearance at Revolutionary Square with new President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is smart enough to realize he should at least ACT like he respects Trump. He can then join the significant number of world leaders who compliment Trump to his face, then make crude jokes about him behind his back!
The only roadblock I see on the horizon is that Trump will have to ask permission from Russian President Putin to pull off this plan. But hey!—it’s just part of the Art of the Deal!
For the latest information on these counter-intuitive ADDED flights, click on:
Since the new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel assumed office about a month ago, the only major headlines about Cuba involved yesterday’s tragic airplane crash in Havana. The number of people killed was reported to be 110. The aircraft was a 40-year-old Boeing 737. Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez told reporters Saturday afternoon that Cubana (Cuba’s National Airline) had been renting the plane for less than a month under an arrangement in which the Mexican company was entirely responsible for maintenance. There have been reports that the same aircraft had previously been cited for overloading luggage at other Caribbean airports. The black box has been recovered. U.S. officials from Boeing will be traveling to Cuba to help with the investigation. Stay tuned.
President Diaz-Canel has been in office for about a month. He assumed office at a time when Cuba and the rest of the world faced much turmoil. The Cuban economy is struggling, but it is in much better shape than its “spiritual ally” Venezuela. It is a country on the brink of economic collapse, in spite of possessing the world’s largest reserve of oil. Cuba visitors from the U.S. have decreased dramatically since President Trump’s speech in Miami last year. Although the guidelines did not change significantly for group travel, the perception of change has caused many travelers to change their plans. Many tours have been cancelled.
However–I have a gut feeling that this may change soon. Even though Alaska Airlines pulled out of the Cuba market last year, JetBlue and Southwest have recently announced that they will be adding flights. Why? What do they know that the general public does not?
In September 2016, when Trump was the Republican presidential candidate, Newsweek Magazine reported that in 1998, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts hired a consulting firm to explore business opportunities on the island.
Reportedly acting with Trump’s knowledge, representatives from Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. traveled to Cuba, which was then led by Fidel Castro. There, they met with government officials and business leaders. The goal, a former official with Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts told Newsweek, was to get a jump on the competition if President Bill Clinton opened up Cuba to U.S. business. Ever since President John F. Kennedy imposed an economic embargo on Cuba in 1962, the Cuban market has been closed to most American companies.
Because their business trip violated the embargo, Seven Arrows advised the Trump organization to disguise its payment to them as a charitable project, according to documents obtained by Newsweek. Two business consultants reportedly introduced the Trump executives to possible partners in Cuba and even prepared sketches of what Trump Tower Havana might look like.
For decades, anti-Cuba hardliners in Miami and in the U.S. government have insisted that the U.S. embargo would never end until the Castros were out of power. Well–Raul Castro has been replaced by Diaz-Canel. In addition, it is quite clear to both Anti-Trump and Pro-Trump supporters that one of Trump’s major motivations is to end any actions initiated by President Obama, whether those actions made any sense or not. President Trump now can claim to his base supporters that he “got rid of the Castros” (even though Raul’s departure had been scheduled five years earlier). Trump is now in a position to continue his blatant policies of making his family and close friends wealthier by quietly letting them know about upcoming Cuba policy reversals, so they can invest or divest accordingly. President Trump can then publicly proclaim that he is now the new hero of the Cuban people.
Again–why are Southwest and JetBlue petitioning to add flights now–in a time of decreased scheduled flights and half-filled airplanes heading to Cuba?