Daily Briefing – October 11, 2017

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

Family reunification program here to stay: The U.S. Embassy in Havana said it will work with the Department of Homeland Security to continue the Cuban Families Reunification Permit (CFRP) program and the refugee processing center. It’s not yet clear how CFRP will continue after the U.S withdrew all non-essential staff from its Havana embassy and announced it will stop issuing visas in Cuba indefinitely.  (El Nuevo Herald)

Expecting another blow from the Trump administration: U.S. travel to Cuba is expected to decrease once the Trump administration publishes its new rules on traveling to Cuba and doing business with entities tied to the Cuban military. The rules will be published in the wake of Hurricane Irma and an updated State Department travel warning for Cuba. Some fear the U.S. moves will harm the Cuban economy, which relies on tourism to generate much-needed foreign currency. (The Hill)

State Department on the defensive: The State Department defended its response to the unexplained incidents that harmed at least 22 diplomats in Havana after an alleged victim said the situation was handled “poorly.” “As soon as the State Department realized that there was a pattern, it reacted extremely well,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a Tuesday press conference. Investigators say the incidents started last November, but the State Department only publicly acknowledged them in August.  (EFE and 14ymedio)

Expanding ties when the stakes are high: U.S. civil society should intensify engagement efforts with Cuba while both countries respond to the mysterious “attacks” that harmed U.S. diplomats in Havana, argues Mark Feierstein, a former Obama administration aide on western hemisphere affairs. Nobody knows how long it will take for the American and Cuban embassies to be fully staffed once again, so the future of engagement rests in the hands of non-government advocates. (The Hill Opinion)

Cleveland makes moves in Cuba: The chairman of the Cleveland Port Authority said he signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba’s maritime authority to lay the groundwork for future trade. The agreement, which was signed Friday in Havana, is not a guarantee Cuba will do business with the Port of Cleveland. Cuba has signed similar agreements with ports in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Virginia. (ideastream)

Oil company moves closer to exploratory phase: Australian oil company Melbana said it is ready to move on to an exploratory phase in an inland area to the east of Varadero known as Block 9. The company said it completed a work program that included geological surveys for the area. Melbana is aiming to start drilling up to two wells in Block 9 by mid-2018. Melbana has faced challenges raising capital for the drilling campaign, which could cost up to $30 million. Previous attempts to drill in Block 9 have been unsuccessful. (UPI)

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