Daily Briefing – August 17, 2017

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A daily look at deals, events and transactions of note for trade and investment in Cuba.

Bartending boost: A public-private partnership between Havana Club International and nonprofit Artecorte is training young Cubans to become bartenders through a six-month program. Four graduates of the school have landed jobs as bartenders on the international routes of Europe’s MSC Cruise Line. (Cuba Trade Magazine)

Putting more state land in the hands of farmers: The Cuban government announced a plan to increase the amount of state-owned land it provides farmers. The plan also doubles the time farmers can use the usufructs from 10 years to 20 years. The new measures will allow farmers to associate with either an agricultural cooperative or a state enterprise. (AP and El Nuevo Herald)

More accusations of Cuba assisting Maduro’s power grab: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s unannounced visit to Fidel Castro’s grave spurred accusations that Cuba is assisting Maduro’s latest power grab. Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles accused Maduro of taking the trip to make arrangements for more oil deliveries to Cuba and to request more military support from the island. A letter signed by 42 Cuban government opponents also declared, “Castroism rehearses and applies all its repressive technology in Venezuela.” (El Nuevo Herald)

Florida governor uses a familiar tactic on Venezuela: The Florida State Board of Administration unanimously approved a proposal from Republican Gov. Rick Scott to ban the state from doing business with organizations that support the Maduro regime. “As Maduro continues to totally disregard the will of the people and empower his dictatorship through his assembly, Florida stands firmly with the Venezuelan people in demanding absolute freedom and democracy now,” Scott said. (Governor Rick Scott)

Dirty old tricks: The case of U.S. and Canadian diplomats suffering hearing loss is evidence that the Cuban government still harasses U.S. personnel posted in Havana, argues José Cardenas, acting assistant administrator for Latin America at USAID in the George W. Bush administration. Cardenas says the Obama administration’s outreach to Cuba did little to disrupt the country’s long history of harassing U.S. personnel. (Foreign Policy)

A home for all things Cuban in Miami: Miami’s Florida International University and Cuban-American community leaders are aiming to create a 50,000-square-foot facility to showcase Cuban academia and culture. Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute is already considered to be the country’s top academic institution on Cuban and Cuban-American issues. Knight Foundation contributed $200,000 to launch the “CasaCuba” project. (FIU)

Carnival confident on Cuba: Carnival added five more sailings to Cuba for 2018. They include three five-day trips that include an overnight stay in Havana. The other trips are a six-day voyage and an eight-day voyage that stop in Havana, in addition to other destinations such as Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. The cruises on the Carnival Paradise will all depart from Tampa. (USA Today)

Aiming to become a UNESCO Global Geopark: Cuba is preparing an application to make the picturesque valley of Viñales the country’s first UNESCO Global Geopark. Viñales, located in the western province of Pinar del Rio, was declared a UNESCO World in 1999. As of November 2015, there are 119 UNESCO Global Geoparks in the world. (Xinhua)

Cuban ballet in Tampa: Ballet Nacional de Cuba, which is considered one of the world’s top ballet companies, will perform at Tampa’s Straz Center on May 23. The ballet company will also hold a master class on May 22. (Tampa Bay Times)

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