Daily Briefing – February 7, 2018

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

Tillerson says returning diplomats to Cuba puts them ‘in harm’s way’: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he would “push back” against any attempt to force him to return U.S. diplomats to Cuba because that would be “intentionally putting them back in harm’s way” after allegations of mysterious “sonic attacks” against American officials and other foreigners. His statement, which The Associated Press reported Tuesday, came despite a new FBI report that “casts doubt on the initial theory that Americans [in Cuba] have been hit by sonic attacks,” according to the AP. The State Department says the most recently “medically confirmed” case involving a U.S. citizen was on Aug. 21. Tillerson said he was convinced someone targeted U.S. diplomats with “deliberate attacks,” and that they could continue. The Cuban government denies any involvement. (The Associated Press)

Cuba Internet Task Force to hold first public meeting: The State Department-created Cuba Internet Task Force is holding its inaugural public meeting on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The order to establish the CITF was issued in June to consider ways to foster expanded internet access and bolster independent media on the island. The task force will accept public comments at the meeting, and in writing during a public participation period through Feb. 8. Some Cuban independent-media figures in Havana told Reuters they did not want to be involved in the Trump administration initiative. “We are not just talking about something that heightens tension in the country’s political situation but a move that could also damage the credibility of the independent media,” said Elaine Díaz, founder of the online outlet Periodismo de Barrio. (State Department, Reuters)

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s ‘Untitled (Havana 2000)’ shows at MoMA: Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera’s “Untitled (Havana 2000)” installation is showing at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art through March 11. The work was created for the VII Havana Biennial in 2000, but Havana authorities shut it down within hours. The installation explores the contradictions of life in Cuba, with surfaces covered with sugar cane bagasse, video of Fidel Castro, and shadowed naked bodies. “This exposition comes at a moment when big nationalist speeches are back,” Bruguera told The Miami Herald. “I think it’s important to remember that what happens somewhere else can also happen in societies that seem to be immune from dictatorship.” (The Miami Herald)

Cuban and Nigerian officials discuss increasing trade: Cuba’s ambassador to Nigeria, Carlos Saso, said his country was seeking ways to boost trade with Nigeria. Saso met this week with Adetokunbo Kayode, president of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In a statement after the meeting, the Cuban embassy said Saso would explore the possibilities of expanding economic cooperation with the African nation in health care, agriculture, and sports. Kayode welcomed the initiative, saying, “This is in line with the strategic plan of the chamber to forge strong ties with the international business community to develop joint ventures and enhance foreign direct investment.” (Independent, The Nation)


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