Daily Briefing – March 16, 2018

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

Digicel drops Cuba roaming service for U.S. customers: Jamaica-based Digicel, a major wireless carrier in the Caribbean and other regions, has decided to drop Cuba roaming service for U.S. customers starting April 9, The Miami Herald reported Thursday. Digicel is among numerous companies that had hoped for gains in the Cuban market after the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in 2015, and the Obama administration eased restrictions on travel to the island by U.S. citizens. Tourist traffic from the U.S. to Cuba has fallen significantly, however, since the Trump administration last year tightened travel restrictions and urged Americans to reconsider plans to visit Cuba. The main U.S. carriers still offer U.S. customers roaming service on the island. (The Miami Herald)

SUNY Geneseo aims to launch study abroad program in Cuba: SUNY Geneseo hopes to offer a study abroad program in Cuba as soon as next year, according to Sam Cardamone, the associate director of the college’s study abroad office. The school and the entire the State University of New York system have been working on establishing new partnerships with Cuban universities for four years. Cardamone was part of a 21-person, nine-campus delegation that visited Cuba in February to Congreso Universidad, an international educational conference, where the members of the delegation met with representatives from the Universidad de Holguin, which is in the city of Holguin in eastern Cuba, to explore a partnership. (Livingston County News)

Cubans line up at banks to prepare for currency unification: Customers are lining up at Cuban banks to exchange or save convertible pesos ahead of an expected unification of the island’s two currencies. An employee at one Metropolitan Bank branch said “people are crazy changing and saving money” to prepare for the unification of the peso and the convertible peso, which has a value pegged to the dollar. Many customers said they wanted to make deposits now because they had been told the government will respect all accounts under any plan to unify the currencies. “I have no choice but to believe that having the money in the bank will be the best because I can not go around buying dollars to keep under the mattress,” one customer said. (14ymedio)

Castro meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta: Cuban President Raúl Castro met in Havana on Thursday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss expanding cooperation health, trade, and other matters. Castro also thanked Kenyatta for his country’s contribution to Cuba’s recovery from Hurricane Irma last year. Kenyatta thanked Cubans for “their constant solidarity with the African nations.” Kenyatta is scheduled to return home Saturday after an inauguration celebration at his country’s new embassy in Havana. (Xinhua, EFE in 14ymedio)

Cuba and U.S. trade barbs over trade policies: Cuba’s ambassador at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Pedro Luis Pedroso, called for an end of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba and the return of the land used for the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo in a speech during the 37th regular session of the Huan Rights Council. Pedroso said the U.S. unfairly uses the “human rights issue to exert political pressure” on Cuba and other countries, sometimes “promoting regime changes.” “It seems they intend us to forget the human rights violations they commit in their territory and in other peoples of the world,” he said. President Trump justified tightening U.S. policy toward Cuba by saying that “America believes that free, independent, and democratic nations are the best vehicle for human happiness, for health, for education, for safety, for everything.” (Prensa Latina, WhiteHouse.gov)

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