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viernes, 20 de febrero de 2015

IDT Corp to provide long distance telephony between U.S. and Cuba

Feb 19 (Reuters) - 
U.S.-based telecom company IDT Corp has reached an agreement with Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA), Cuba's national telecom provider, to provide international long distance telephony between the United States and Cubadirectly.
The company said that the agreement was filed today with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is subject to FCC review for a period of ten days.
FCC was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.
If the agreement takes effect, IDT will be the only U.S. carrier to have a direct interconnection into Cuba.
"This is an important first step in the liberalization of telecommunications between the U.S. and Cuba," said Bill Pereira, Chief Executive Officer of IDT Telecom in a statement.
IDT joins a list of U.S. companies looking to take advantage of thawing diplomatic relations between the United States and the communist-ruled island country.
Netflix Inc launched its movie and TV streaming service in Cuba last week.
MasterCard Inc has said it will allow its cards issued in the United States to be used inCuba, effective March 1.
American Express Co has also said it would launch operations in Cuba.

The announcement follows revisions to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations announced by the U.S. government earlier this month. (Reporting By Sudarshan Varadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)




Cuba Ferry International will be using a new technology to transport passengers and cargo that enables vessels to travel swiftly to destinations.
  • Wave-piercing vessels offer superior passenger comfort.
  • Ample passenger, baggage and freight space.
  • Safe, efficient and economical to operate.
  • More competitive travel pricing and discounted baggage services, which will include convenient drop off centers to provide quick and easy service to our passengers.
The ferry could offer:
  • Travel for over 300 passengers.
  • Plenty of available cargo space on board, extra luggage will be handled with minimum additional cost to travelers.
  • All the preferred passenger amenities including: food, beverage, entertainment, and possibly gaming.

Americans' Opinion of Cuba Highest in Nearly 20 Years

by Art Swift:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As President Barack Obama and his administration work to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and loosen travel restrictions between the two countries for the first time in 53 years, Americans now view Cuba more favorably than they have in nearly 20 years. Forty-six percent say they have a favorable opinion of Cuba, up eight percentage points from last year, and a far cry from the 10% favorability rating in 1996.
Americans' opinion of Cuba
The percentage of Americans viewing Cuba favorably has been mostly in the 20% to 30% range since 1996. This survey is the first time Gallup has asked Americans for their opinion of Cuba since Obama announced in December that he is working to re-establish diplomatic ties with the communist country. That announcement is presumablythe chief reason for the surge in positive feelings toward Cuba, with the president's action probably making it more acceptable to like Cuba.
Policy agreements or disagreements between the U.S. and a country often can affect Americans' favorability ratings of that country. Russia is one example. A long-time Cold War foe, Americans' favorability ratings of Russia soared after the Soviet Uniondissolved, but they have soured since the conflict with neighboring Ukraine. France is another. Americans viewed the long-time ally in a highly favorable light for many years until France failed to support the U.S.-led Iraq war in 2003. A decade after the debacle over "freedom fries," though, Americans' favorability toward France has returned to levels seen in the 1990s and before the Iraq war.
Americans' Interest in Re-Establishing Diplomatic Relations With Cuba Strong
While Americans have not always viewed Cuba favorably, they have consistently wanted to re-establish diplomatic ties with the island, severed in 1961 after the U.S. objected to the revolutionary regime led by Fidel Castro.
Re-Establishing Relations With Cuba
The majority of Americans have favored re-establishing diplomatic ties for more than 40 years, with one notable exception. After the U.S. Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, tightening the embargo on Cuba, support for reinstating diplomatic relations dropped to 40%. It rebounded, though, by 1999 when it peaked around 70%, and has remained above the majority level ever since.
Americans Want to End Trade Embargo With Cuba
The trade embargo, which was concurrent with the U.S. breaking off ties with Cuba, is another aspect of the relationship that Americans would like to see changed. In Gallup's most recent survey, 59% of Americans said they favor the U.S. government ending its more than 50-year trade embargo with Cuba.
U.S. Trade Embargo With Cuba
This is the highest Gallup has measured since it began asking this specific question in 1999. This support aligns with the other positive views Americans have toward Cuba. Experts say it could be a long time before the U.S. lifts its trade embargo against Cuba, but currently there are bills in Congress with bipartisan support to make the end of the embargo a reality.
Ending Travel Restrictions to Cuba Favored by 59% of Americans
While analysts have said ending the trade embargo may be a long process, there appears to be more momentum in Congress to lift the travel ban to the country. An equal percentage of Americans (59%) support ending of travel ban as do ending the trade embargo.
Americans Traveling to Cuba
Bottom Line
Americans are very positive toward Cuba right now and give the island nation the highest favorable rating in 20 years, although still slightly more view Cuba unfavorably than favorably. Americans support re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, ending the trade embargo and ending travel restrictions to the island. Americans' favorable ratings of a country are often motivated by developments regarding that country, and as there appears to be momentum in Congress to change at least some policy initiatives to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, U.S. adults' positive feelings toward the country could continue for some time.
Survey Methods
Favorable ratings of Cuba are based on telephone interviews conducted in a Feb. 8-11, 2015, Gallup poll with a random sample of 837 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Opinions on U.S. policy toward Cuba are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 14-15, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,016 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the half-samples of 513 national adults in Form 1 and 503 national adults in Form 2, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.
All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

miércoles, 4 de febrero de 2015

Us Cuba Agricultural Trade

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, congressional lawmakers, launch of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, which sought to expand food...see more here

miércoles, 21 de enero de 2015

Sen. Corker calls Cuba embargo ineffective

WASHINGTON — The U.S. embargo of Cuba hasn't worked, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Wednesday in his first comments about the strict 53-year-old policy that President Obama is loosening.
"This is a policy ... that has not yielded the result we had hoped it would yield, obviously. I think that's pretty apparent," Corker said in conference call with reporters.
The statement from the new Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signals general agreement with Obama that the economic and diplomatic sanctions isolating Cuba's communist government have not led to the desired democratic reforms.
But Corker did not stake out a position on whether the embargo, initiated by presidential actions starting in the early 1960s and enacted by Congress in 1996, should be relaxed or lifted.
"We're going to have some robust hearings," Corker said. "There are heartfelt feelings on both sides."
Corker's predecessor as Foreign Relations chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba "have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government."
Several top Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, have criticized Obama's actions affecting travel to and trade with Cuba, but Corker has not joined them.
Corker, in his second term in the Senate, said most members of Congress need more time to learn about the embargo.
"In all fairness, Cuba has been off the front burner for a long, long time," he said. "You're going to see that change in the next several weeks."
Corker said he wants to explore the impact of giving U.S. telecommunication companies access to Cuba, and learn more about the 53 political prisoners Cuba pledged to release as part of the deal the two countries reached last month.
"What is the real behavioral change the Cuban government is going to put forth as part of this change in relations?" he asked.
Only Congress can repeal the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that includes the embargo, but the White House can open up new, limited opportunities for travel, business and commerce.
Also in December, Obama announced plans to restore more normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, including opening an embassy in Havana. Opponents in Congress say they'll block money for an embassy and will stall action on anyone the president nominates as ambassador to Cuba. Corker has not joined in those calls, either.
"Whether Congress supports an ambassador being placed in Cuba will really be part of the hearings we have in the next five or six weeks," he said. "There are still so many details all of us need to know before we pass judgment on whether this is a good policy or not and whether we should have an ambassador there now."
Corker was named chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday and will be confirmed by Senate Republicans and the full Senate in the next few days. The committee is a key panel with a strong say in national security, counter-terrorism, human rights, the use of military force, global trade, and foreign aid.
Corker's first hearing as chairman, to be held Tuesday, is titled "The National Interest: Articulating the Case for American Leadership in the World." The witness will be former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"U.S. leadership is paramount," Corker said. "Obviously we don't need to be the world's policeman, but certainly we are an entity that challenges wrongs and continuously is the beacon on the hill, that city on the hill that people look to for leadership in every way. It doesn't mean getting the military involved in every conflict, but it does mean using our diplomatic and economic abilities to help shape the world."Sen. Corker calls Cuba embargo ineffective

Senator Durbin in favor of restoring relations with Cuba.

A day after returning from a congressional trip to Havana, Senator Dick Durbin says re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba could help Cubans push for a freer government and economy. 
Speaking on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, Durbin spoke of meeting a young dissident who compared the White House announcement about restoring relations with Cuba to removing a blanket covering up a caged bird. And he spoke of how Cuban officials told them that the country’s powdered milk supply comes the Pacific island nation of New Zealand, because of the US trade embargo against Cuba. 
“What we are trying to do is to not only open up the Cuba economy to powered milk, but to the power of ideas, the exchange of values, the belief that if the Cuba people see a better model for their future, that they will gravitate toward that model.” 
Talks aimed at restoring formal diplomatic ties between Cuba and the Europe are set to begin Wednesday in Havana. The visit there US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will mark the first visit to Havana by a diplomat of her rank since the 1970s.