Daily Briefing – August 31, 2017

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

More details on the attacks on diplomats in Havana: Inaudible sound in the form of infra-and ultrasonic waves is thought to be responsible for the mysterious attacks that left several U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana with hearing loss and other symptoms, according to a source close to the latest assessments by intelligence analysts. Investigators are trying to determine if the sounds came from a sonic device planted in the diplomat’s homes. The source also revealed that Frank Silva Hernandez and Joel Lago Oliva were the two Cuban embassy officials who were told the leave the U.S. in May. Cuba has denied any involvement in the attacks. (CBS News)

USDOT announces that three air routes to Havana… are still up for grabs: The Department of Transportation issued new guidelines for U.S. airlines applying for three available daily routes to Havana. Six airlines applied for the routes after Frontier and Spirit announced they were ending their service to Cuba earlier this year. Airlines will make their case for reconsideration and go through the application process from Sept. 1 to Sept. 26. (U.S. Department of Transportation)

Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig: The Red Hot Chili Peppers are making plans to have a “great concert” in Cuba, according to Cuban state media. The concert may be held in March 2018. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer was in Havana a week ago to make preparations and meet with local musicians, state media reported. (EFE)

Teacher deficit: The number of teachers in Cuba has dropped from about 270,000 in 2008 to 248,438 for the 2016-2017 school year, according to Cuba’s National Office of Information and Statistics. The country needs about 16,000 more teachers to cover the deficit, according to Minister of Education Ena Elsa Velázquez. More than 10,000 additional teachers may be needed to fulfill the duties of teachers who take time off for maternity or personal problems. (14ymedio)

What’s blocked in Cuba: The Cuban Free Press Project and Freedom House are among the 41 websites blocked in Cuba, according to a new report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference. The report tested nearly 1,500 different websites in eight different internet access points in three cities between May 29 and June 10 of this year. Sites with a focus on news media, political criticism and human rights issues are most likely to be blocked, the report said.  (Motherboard)

Private sector takes hits from Trump and Castro: Recent actions by the Trump administration and Castro government will negatively impact Cuba’s nascent private sector, argues Cuba Study Group Executive Director Andrew Otazo. He says the Cuban government’s decision to stop issuing new licenses for several private sector occupations was done without consulting business owners beforehand. That move will not only slow the growth of the private sector, but pushes cuentapropistas away from helping to find solutions to real problems among the business community. At the same time, President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy is likely to funnel U.S. visitors away from the private sector and towards state-run institutions. (Sun Sentinel)

The hypocrisy behind condemning Maduro, but not Castro: It is hypocritical for countries in Latin American to rightfully condemn Venezuela’s dictatorship, but look the other way with Cuba, argues Miami Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer. The Cuban government’s moves to strip influence away from independent candidates in October’s municipal elections deserves more attention from Latin American leaders, writes Oppenheimer.  (Miami Herald)

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