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?
Drain the Swamp!!!