Daily Briefing – September 6, 2017

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

Cuba braces for Irma: Cuba’s National Civil Defense Staff instituted a so-called informative phase for hurricane preparedness in the provinces Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguín, Las Tunas, Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Matanzas on Tuesday. The organization also warned residents of Havana and Mayabeque provinces to pay close attention to updates from the Cuban Institute of Meteorology (INSMET). Even though Cuba has a reputation for efficiency in hurricane preparedness, some commenters on the website of Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, asked why the country has not taken more serious precautions. (Miami Herald)

Communist Party taking a hard look at Irma: Several forecasts show Hurricane Irma reaching Cuba’s Ciego de Ávila province on Friday night, according to state-controlled media. From there, it may turn to the northwest, affecting the province of Camagüey before heading for Florida. The head of the National Civil Defense General Staff said Irma is more powerful than Hurricane Ivan of 2004, which forced more than 2 million people to evacuate. Irma packed sustained winds of 185 miles per hour as it made landfall over the Caribbean island of Barbuda.  (Granma)

Guantánamo Bay base will not be evacuated: More than 5,000 residents, including family members and non-essential staff, at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay will not be evacuated. “They will shelter in place as the storm passes just north of them,” said Bill Dougherty, spokesperson for the Pentagon’s Navy Region Southeast Region. The base’s prison did not respond to questions of whether it will relocate some or all of its 41 war on terror captives. Last year, about 700 family members and pets were evacuated to the Florida Panhandle for Hurricane Matthew, which hit Cuba’s east coast.  (Miami Herald)

Internet growth: More than 4.5 million people in Cuba used the internet in 2016, according to the latest data published by the National Office of Information and Statistics. The data shows that internet use grew by about 13 percent from 2015 to 2016. Cuba has about 403 internet users per 1,000 inhabitants, which still makes it one of the least connected countries in the world. (EFE and 14ymedio)

Dissident group blasts arbitrary detentions: The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) says it recorded at least 511 arbitrary detentions for political reasons in August. The dissident group called the detentions a “haunting indicator,” even though its number of recorded arbitrary detentions is down compared to July. The Damas de Blanco and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) are the “main targets of political repression,” according to CCDHRN. (EFE and El Nuevo Herald)

Exploring a colonial gem: The city of Trinidad on Cuba’s south-central coast is fast becoming one of its most popular tourist destinations. The city’s colonial architecture and Afro-Cuban roots are among its major draws. (Cuba Trade Magazine)

Comrades return, but this time as tourists: More than 52,000 Russians visited Cuba in the first half of 2017, representing a 40 percent growth from the same period last year, according to official data. Hotel workers say they have adjusted everything from menus to the languages spoken by staff in order to accommodate Russian guests. (14ymedio)

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