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White House Pressuring Cuba to Make Deals With GE, Google

White House Pressuring Cuba to Make Deals With GE, Google

This will not help the Cuban people.

With President-elect Donald Trump a month away from taking the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration has put pressure on Cuba’s regime to make deals with GE and Google for the companies to operate on the island:

White House officials are unsure how Mr. Trump, the president-elect, will approach Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy. He has said he would reverse the effort to build relations, and this week wrote on Twitter that “if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate the deal.”

While there is no formal deal between the U.S. and Cuba that can be undone, there has been a broad effort to expand economic, trade and cultural ties between the two countries since Mr. Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced in December 2014 that they would re-establish diplomatic relations.

Asked about the possible agreement, a GE spokesman said: “We continue to talk to Cuba and we’re in the middle of negotiations.”

Since Obama has announced his intention to warm relations with the brutal regime, who lost its murderous dictator Fidel Castro last week, he has given numerous companies licenses “to do business in Cuba, but awaiting approval by Havana,” including Google and GE:

Google and General Electric made limited forays into Cuba this year. Google in March opened a technology center in the Havana studio of one of Cuba’s most famous artists. Cubans at the site can access the internet at speeds 70 times faster than those available to the Cuban public. Google has been trying to offer other services to try to improve internet access on the island.

GE in March signaled its intent to provide power, aviation and medical equipment to the Cuban government by signing a series of memorandums of understanding with the Cuban government.

Another American firm, Caterpillar, signed a distribution deal in February with Puerto Rican-based Rimco to begin selling its products in Cuba, once trade restrictions are eased.

The Wall Street Journal reports that three cruise lines based in America will add Cuba as a destination in their routes:

A Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman, Vanessa Picariello, said the firm is “in continued talks with appropriate authorities in Cuba on behalf of all three of its brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.”

She added: “We remain optimistic that we will receive approval for one or more of our brands and be able to offer our guests Caribbean cruises including Cuba in the near future.”

Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean., said, “We’ve expressed our belief that the market holds promise for the cruise industry, and remain interested in exploring its potential.”

Charles B. Robertson, Pearl Seas Cruises’ director of marketing, said: “We are very excited and optimistic about the prospect of going to Cuba and we have a number of trips planned in 2017 that we hope to be able to run.”

Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News that the new president plans to void the deal Obama and Cuba struck in 2014. Priebus said that Raul Castro must “meet our demands” if the regime wants to keep the sweet deal. For example, the dictator must show he will open “its economic markets and putting an end to religious oppression and other human rights violations.”

Obama’s administration has asked Trump to reconsider his position on Cuba since he may have a hard time undoing the changes that have already begun:

White House press secretary Josh Earnest cautioned that the incoming president could find it difficult to unwind the growing diplomatic, travel and business ties between the two nations.
“It’s just not as simple as one tweet might make it seem,” Earnest said, a dig at Trump’s preferred method of communication.

“There are significant diplomatic, economic [and] cultural costs that will have to be accounted for if this policy is rolled back.”

Earnest noted that Monday marked the resumption of direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Havana for the first time in half a century.

He also cited a spike in U.S. investments and travel opportunities allowed by new rules, which he said 50,000 Americans have taken advantage of in the last 18 months.

Earnest said “to cancel all of that would deal a significant economic blow” to Cubans who benefit from international travelers.

Yeah, um, that might work in the administration’s fantasy world, but the fact is the regime will not change its ways no matter how much the U.S. bends to please these oppressors. Oh yes, the companies will give Cubans jobs, but how much will those Cubans bring home? 8%:

In an official announcement in state newspaper Granma, government officials announced a system in which employees who work for corporations with foreign capital will be paid two Cuban Pesos for every Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) the corporation actually pays them. The Convertible Peso (CUP) is almost exclusively for the use of tourists and is of significantly greater value; one CUC is the equivalent of an American dollar and the equivalent of 26.5 CUPs. The other 24 CUPs Cuban workers will not receive amount to 92% of their salaries.

Granma explains:

The payment will now be agreed to with businesses possessing foreign capital taking into consideration the salaries issued to workers in jobs of similar complexity in entities in the same area or sector of our geographic area, the salary scale that is applied in the country (as a reference point) and some additional payments for the corresponding law.

In other words, even if a foreign company has the means to pay more than a Cuban company, the worker will receive the same salary as if he were working for a Cuban company, and the government will pocket the rest.


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They’re so good for the middle class.

It seems to me that JFK had no problem cutting all ties abruptly despite the existing cigar trade. He probably could have done it with a tweet.

“The other 24 CUPs Cuban workers will not receive amount to 92% of their salaries.”

If U.S. companies still want to do business with Havana, then I imagine Trump will have a big smile on his face when he says, “NO.”

Trump needs to bring some real pressure on Raul Castro, not the play pressure Obama has been play bringing.

“It’s just not as simple as one tweet might make it seem,” Earnest said, a dig at Trump’s preferred method of communication.

All it takes is a phone and a pen … in the right hands.

“The other 24 CUPs Cuban workers will not receive amount to 92% of their salaries.”

Back in Washington DC, Bernie Sanders, upon hearing the news, slapped his forehead and exclaimed “Why didn’t I think of that as a way to pay for all my pie-in-the-sky socialist economic plans? I surely would have won the Democratic nomination then! Curses!”

This episode demonstrates Obama’s naïveté. With widespread fear that Trump may void the deal in 50 or more days, what sane business is going to make any serious commitment to Cuba?

I don’t get it. His last two months in office, and scrambling for a legacy he’s desperately trying to export a few jobs?