Daily Briefing – August 23, 2017

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

Thousands of Cuba websites taken off OFAC blacklist: Nearly 5,000 websites with Cuba-related domain names were deleted from the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s list of Specially Designated Nationals list. Most of the domain names do not work and were owned by a company that is no longer in operation. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said so many websites were deleted from the OFAC list because an entity that owned most of the domains was closed. John S. Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council said the move was a “surprise.” (14ymedio)

Contradicting the reformer characterization: A video that shows Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel lashing out against the private sector, dissidents, independent media and the U.S. demonstrates he is not a reformer, argues Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago. Díaz-Canel is expected to succeed Raúl Castro when he steps down from the presidency in February 2018. The video reveals he is just as fearful of the Castros of any forces that challenge the Cuban government, argues Santiago. (Miami Herald)

Rubio responds to Díaz-Canel video: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) responded to the video of Díaz-Canel by tweeting, “So much for ‘new generation’ of Post-Castro leaders: Video reveals hardline ideology of presumed next leader of #Cuba.” (Marco Rubio Twitter)

Tampa City Council sets itinerary for trip to Cuba: The Tampa City Council will take off for its first official trip to Cuba since the Cuban Revolution on Oct. 14. Only two of the six council members who voted in favor of the trip will participate. The trip will include a tour of Mariel’s port and special economic development zone, discussions on environmental protection and a meeting with biomedical industry leaders. Some members of Tampa’s Cuban and Venezuelan communities oppose the trip. (Tampa Bay Times)

Seeking new trucks: Cuba is yearning for new trucks after spending decades repairing old vehicles with clever workarounds. However, Cuba will remain a challenging market even if the embargo is loosened. The country has a poor credit rating and the government’s control of the economy will force truck vendors to sell to the state instead of businesses. (Trucks.com)

The return of the Ladas: Russian car company AvtoVAZ has signed an agreement with the Cuban government to supply the country with new Lada Vesta cars and parts, Russian state media reported. It’s unclear how many cars Cuba will purchase from AvtoVAZ, or how much the deal is worth. Cuba is known for having many Ladas, but the country has not received any new models in years. (Sputnik)

Making it rain: Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will send Cuba a plane that artificially creates clouds through chemical reactions, Russian state media reported. Cuba is currently experiencing one of its worst droughts in history, and the Russian plane is seen as one potential solution. It will conduct work in Cuba in October and November. The works cost approximately $1.7 million, and it will be financed by Russia’s Central Aerological Observatory. (Sputnik)

More dementia on the horizon: Senile dementia in Cuba is expected to double or even triple by 2040, according to a study by the University of Medical Sciences in Havana and the Department of Studies on Alzheimer. Cuba already has one of the highest rates of dementia in Latin America due to its relatively high life expectancy. (Xinhua)

Hidden treasures in Cuban waters: Scientists from Cuba and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have concluded a month-long circumnavigation along the entire coast of Cuba. The scientists discovered new species of sponges and range extensions or depth records for several species of corals, gorgonians, sponges, algae and fish, according to a news release. (TC Palm)

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