Weekly Briefing – July 20, 2018

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Accelerated Reforms Mark First Three Months of New President: Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has made extraordinary progress in the 90 days since he has become president, reports the Council of the Americas. Under his leadership, the country has drafted a new constitution that will formalize the ownership of private property and diversify power between a term-limited president, a prime minister and provincial governors. At the same time, a new regulatory framework for private business will both expand the sector and bring it under tighter control for the collection of taxes and limiting the ability of individual entrepreneurs to expand beyond single enterprises. (Americas Society/Council of the Americas)

U.S. Tourism to Cuba Revives After Trump Slump: The number of U.S. travelers to Cuba, excluding Cuba-Americans, rose by 5 percent in June compared with the same month last year, reports Reuters. The rise was largely attributed to new cruise ship arrivals, which now account for 50 percent of U.S. visitors, up from 25 percent last year. Nonetheless, visits to Cuba by Americans (not including Cuban-Americans) fell by 24 percent in the first six months of the year, thanks largely to pushback from the Trump administration. At the same time, visits by Cuban-Americans reached 379,000 for the first half of the year, up 45 percent from last year. This jump reflects the new difficulty for Cubans to visit U.S. relatives thanks to the virtual shutdown of the U.S. embassy in Havana by the Trump administration. (Reuters)

Cuba Disputes Mexican Airline Finding in Deadly Crash: Cuba aviation authorities are disputing an announcement made this week by the Mexican company that leased the plane which crashed and killed 112 people on a flight from Havana in May. Mexican company Global Air said that its analysis revealed pilot error in taking off at too sharp an angle. Both Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aeronautics and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are still reviewing the data and say it is way too early to make such a determination. The official report could take a year or longer. (The Washington Post)

Cuba Moves Forward With Internet Access for Mobile Phones: The Cuban government this week advanced its program to roll out mobile internet access nationwide by the end of the year. Cuba has been one of the least connected countries in the Western Hemisphere, due to both a lack of resources and intolerance for public dissent. Cuba’s new president Miguel Díaz-Canel is pushing for greater access to boost the economy, and to use the new communication platform to promote the ideas of the Revolution. State-run telecom company ETECSA promises connectivity to all five million of its mobile customers over the next six months. (Engadget.com)


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