Daily Briefing – June 8, 2017

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

Future of travel to Cuba is up in the air: Aviation sector leaders who gathered in Cancun, Mexico for an industry conference said they are concerned President Donald Trump may reinstate some restrictions on Cuba. The potential rollback comes less than a year after commercial flights restarted between the U.S. and Cuba. “Restricting the network of aviation and access to Cuba would be bad news for aviation. Generally we welcome the extension of access to any country by plane,” IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac told reporters. (Reuters)

Florida Governor lobbies for hardline Cuba policy: Republican Gov. Rick Scott wrote an op-ed urging the Trump administration to take a hardline stance against the Venezuelan and Cuban governments. Scott said the Obama administration’s Cuba policies “failed to prioritize American interests,” such as settling certified claims of American citizens whose properties were stolen by the Castro regime. He also claimed the “emerging private sector” decreased under Obama’s presidency and advocated denying visas to any government official “involved in the violation of human rights.” (Gov. Rick Scott)

Cuban American National Foundation director sounds off: Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) chairman Jorge Mas Santos says Cuba will be a “perpetual disaster” if the Cuban people remain silent and satisfied with the situation they live in. He said he expects the Trump administration to restrict several aspects of U.S. travel and trade with the island, but it will fall short of a complete overhaul of the Obama administration’s policy. Over the last few decades, the CANF has transitioned from a vehemently pro-embargo organization to one that dedicates itself to supporting democracy advocates on the island. (El País)

A case for not rolling back the Cuba opening: The Trump administration should not turn back the clock on new era in U.S.-Cuba relations initiated by former President Obama, argues a Tampa Bay Times editorial. “The restoration of ties after 50 years of enmity has been good for America’s security and its influence in the region, good for Cuban-Americans and good for the economies of Tampa Bay and Florida,” the editorial says. (Tampa Bay Times)

Another case for not rolling back the Cuba opening: Keeping the Obama administration’s Cuba opening intact is more likely to bring democracy and prosperity to the island than the Trump administration’s potential rollback, argues a Houston Chronicle editorial. “Obama’s strategy of engaging Cuba holds the best hope for gradual change,” the editorial says. (Houston Chronicle)

OAS sets its sights on Cuba: Organization of the American States Secretary General Luis Almargo said he aims to improve the human rights situation in Cuba. He admitted the task will be difficult considering Cuba refuses to participate in the organization, and that the island does not approve of the organization’s handling of the crisis in Venezuela. (El Nuevo Herald and EFE)

Havana historian praises Kempinski hotel at its opening: Renowned Havana historian Eusebio Leal Spengler said the addition of the new 5-star Kempinski hotel is a “significant contribution” to the reconstruction of the historic center of Havana. Leal made the comments during the official opening of the hotel, which had a soft-opening several weeks ago. (Diario De Cuba)

A look inside Cuba’s luxury mall: Some Cubans enjoy gazing at exorbitantly expensive goods at Cuba’s first luxury mall, even though it’s unlikely they will ever be able to afford those goods. Other Cubans appear to be resentful of the luxury mall, which features world-renowned brands such as Lacoste, Mont Blanc and Gucci. (BBC)

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