Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba

The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Viñales, 27 June 2018 — At the entrance to Calle
Obispo a guide explains to her customers the restoration works in the
historical center of Havana. A few yards away, the line to exchange
currency is full of foreigners and in the corner bar one hears English,
French and German. Tourism is shaping the face of several areas of Cuba
and becoming a problem for their residents.

"In this neighborhood you can't even walk," complains Idania Contreras,
a resident of Obrapía Street in Old Havana and a law graduate. "At first
people were happy because the area improved economically, but little by
little the tourists have been taking over all the spaces and this is
less and less like a neighborhood where people live."

As a consequence of the increase in tourism, prices have also
risen. "Now buying fruits in the markets is a headache because they are
hoarded by the people who rent to tourists," adds Contreras. "A
pineapple never costs less than 20 Cuban pesos because the private
restaurants in the area can pay that amount, because they sell the
tourists a piña colada for three times that price," she explains. In her
view, those mainly affected are the citizens themselves who can't afford
these prices.

Contreras, who worked for a few months in a real estate management
office, says housing prices are also up in the area. "The price per
square meter has exploded around the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de
San Francisco and the streets where it is most profitable streets." She
also says that these areas are beginning to look like the center of
Barcelona or Venice, where fewer and fewer families are living.

However, she acknowledges that "the problem has not yet reached the
point of other cities in the world that receive many more tourists," but
she is concerned because there are no "public policies to alleviate the
problems we are already experiencing."

Contreras's biggest fear is that there is only talk of the positive side
of tourism, while some streets in the area are already showing symptoms
of congestion and tourism activity aggravates the problems of waste
treatment and water supply.

Several regions of the island face the challenge of absorbing an
increasing number of travelers despite the precariousness of their
infrastructure. Among the areas most affected by the avalanche of
visitors are the Viñales valley, the city of Trinidad, the Varadero
resort area and the Cuban capital.

"It is very difficult for a Cuban to rent a room because homeowners
prefer to rent only tourists," warns Gustavo, a handicraft seller near
the Casa de la Trova in the city of Trinidad, which was declared a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 and is now an obligatory stop on many of
the package tours.

"This whole area is focused on foreigners," he says. The salesman, born
on the outskirts of Trinidad, believes that there are many people who
benefit from tourism, but on the way he has lost the city he knew as a
child. "Now it has been commodified and everything has a price, even
people," he laments.

In all the tourist hubs, along with an increase in private businesses
there is also an increase in prostitution. "At night the discos are full
of yumas, foreigners, with young girls and it is a really pitiful show
for our children," notes Gustavo.

"[Tourism] is more positive than negative because 30 years ago this city
had old and beautiful houses, but nothing more," says the seller despite
his reservations about this economic sector.

Carlos and his two children live on the road to Viñales. Coming from a
family of farmers, they now sell fruit at a stand by the side of the
road. "Most of our customers are foreigners coming and going from the
Valley," says the farmer. He hasn't gone into town for two years
because, he says, "you can't take a step with so many tourists."

The winding road that leads to Viñales also suffers with the increase of
vehicles. "It's a rare week that there is not an accident in this
section," recounts Carlos while pointing to one of the curves near his
house. The number of travelers interested in the area seems to have
grown, but the seller points out that the streets and roads remain the
same and that no expansion has been undertaken.

Carlos's closest neighbors have a thriving business that offers
horseback rides to travelers. They gain much more from
these "ecotours" than they could sowing beans or tobacco, another change
that is due to the avalanche of visitors. "Before this was predominantly
a farming area with strong traditions, but now everything is being
lost," he says.

A few yard away, a tobacco drying shed stands with its gabled roof and
its walls made of logs. In the interior, a peasant shows a dozen
tourists how the leaves re dried. "This shed has been set up for groups
who want to see how the process is done, it's pure showcase," says
Carlos. "In this town everything is already like this."

Source: The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-dark-side-of-tourism-in-cuba/

Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba

Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 June 2017 — Independent communicators
in Cuba are victims of an escalating repression, according to a
complaint filed Monday by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH),
based in Madrid. The alarm sounded by the organization coincides with an
increase in complaints from journalists on the island as a result of the
government persecutions and obstacles they suffer when exercising their
profession.

"Last June 20 Henry Constantín and Sol Garcia, journalists for La Hora
de Cuba and contributors to 14ymedio, were not able to participate in an
event in Miami because each of them has been indicted for the alleged
crime of "'usurpation of legal capacity' [that is practicing a
profession without a license to do so] and so under Cuban law they are
not permitted to travel outside the country," OCDH reported.

According to the non-governmental organization, the Cuban government had
maintained a kind of "moratorium" with regards to repression against
independent journalists, but the strategy seems to have changed in
recent weeks with actions such as those carried out against Henry
Constantin, Sol Garcia Basulto and Manuel Alejandro Leon Velázquez.

Both Constantín and García Basulto have been expressly forbidden to
practice journalism on the island and the judicial process opened
against them has been criticized from various international forums,
including the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

The OCDH also denounced the arrest of journalist Manuel Alejandro León
Velázquez, a contributor to Radio Martí and Diario de Cuba . Leon
returned from a trip to Spain and has been accused of "usurpation of
legal capacity, association to commit a crime and dissemination of false
news," according to the organization.

The accusations against the three communicators are based on Article 149
of the Cuban Penal Code, which punishes those who carry out "acts of a
profession for the exercise of which one is not properly qualified." If
they are tried for this offense they could face a sentence of up to one
year of deprivation of liberty.

In Cuba, all the media belong to the State, according to the
Constitution of 1976. However, the absence of a Media Law has allowed
the independent press to flourish with sites such as El Estornudo, El
Toque, Cubanet, CiberCuba, Diario de Cuba, Periodismo de Barrio, On
Cuba, among others.

Human rights lawyer and activist Laritza Diversent, who recently became
a refugee in the United States, explained to 14ymedio via telephone that
there are over 300 items within the Penal Code to crack down on dissent
and journalism on the island.

"State Security is looking for different strategies to prosecute all
types of dissidents or critics in Cuba," explained Diversent, president
of the legal group Cubalex, who went into exile after a police and State
Security operation against her.

"Both illegal economic activity and the usurpation of legal capacity are
nothing more than resources to punish any type of activism within the
Island. Legal insecurity is very high because both the criminal law and
the criminal procedure law have been designed as tools of repression,"
said Diversent.

Independent journalist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero, who was arrested last
October in Guantanamo and suffered the confiscation of his tools of the
trade while covering the recovery in Baracoa after the passage of
Hurricane Matthew, confirmed the difficulties of practicing the
profession on the island.

"We do not have a law that supports us and protects the exercise of
journalism, we are at the mercy of the arbitrariness of the
authorities," he said. On that occasion, a team of correspondents from
Periodismo de Barrio suffered the same fate as Gonzalez Vivero.

Other independent publications, such as Convivencia magazine, have been
harassed during the last year with the arrest of members of its
editorial team and threats by the authorities against its contributors.
Foreign correspondent Fernando Ravsberg has been threatened with
expulsion from the country and even with "having his teeth broken" for
the critical entries he publishes in his personal blog Cartas desde Cuba.

Last year the IAPA emphasized, however, the timid rebellion of some
official journalists against the information policy directed from the
Communist Party. Among the examples cited by the IAPA was a letter
signed by young journalists published by the Villa Clara newspaper
Vanguardia, in which they claimed their right to collaborate with other
media.

The IAPA also recalled the case of a Radio Holguin journalist Jose
Ramirez Pantoja, expelled from the profession for five years for making
public the remarks delivered at a conference where Karina Marrón, deputy
editor of the official daily Granma, compared the country's situation to
that of the 1990s when massive protests occurred in Havana, which came
to be known as the Maleconazo.

Source: Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/persecution-grows-against-independent-journalism-in-cuba/

Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's work with Cuban institute

Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's
work with Cuban institute
By News Editorial Board
Published Mon, Jun 26, 2017

President Trump's plan to revise his predecessor's overtures to Cuba
carries a significant risk for Buffalo. A promising partnership between
Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a Cuban research institution could be
endangered if Trump isn't careful.

The lifesaving prospect is for U.S. acceptance of a lung cancer vaccine
developed by Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology. The partnership
with Roswell Park grew out of a 2015 visit to Cuba by prominent New
Yorkers, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Dr. Candace S. Johnson, CEO
of Roswell Park. Clinical trials here could open the door to U.S.
approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.

First and foremost, that could save many, many lives. On its own that
fact should overcome any associated objections Trump has to former
President Barack Obama's move to end decades of estrangement from Cuba.
As local matters, successful trials will bolster Roswell Park's standing
in its field, a benefit that accrues not only to the hospital, but to
Buffalo, as well.

In announcing his plan to close the door on Obama's opening to Cuba,
Trump might not have understood the potential damage it could do to this
region and to the life prospects of millions of Americans. That's not an
excuse; he's the president and needs to act with the relevant
information in hand.

But, if he doesn't know now, Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, will surely
inform him. Collins is one of Trump's most devoted supporters in
Congress and, more important to Western New York, has pledged to support
the region's interests when Trump puts them at risk.

Trump promised during last year's presidential campaign to roll back the
opening to Cuba, mainly, one suspects, as a political maneuver to curry
favor with Florida's remaining anti-Castro voters.

One of Trump's professed concerns is Cuba's government, which, in fact,
remains oppressive despite some improvements. Yet the United States
maintains working relationships with other repressive nations, including
one of Trump's favorites, Russia.

The fact is that more than 50 years of isolating Cuba has not worked to
change its ways. It's a failed policy, pursued by both Republican and
Democratic administrations, and it was past time to end it.

Nevertheless, elections do have consequences and Trump has the authority
to make changes in this policy, however unwarranted or unwise. And, in
fact, Trump is only partially changing Obama's policy.

Diplomatic relations between the countries will remain open, for
example. No additional restrictions on the types of goods that Americans
can take out of Cuba are planned.

But the administration says it will strictly enforce the rules that
allow travel between Cuba and the United States, and will prohibit
commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence
services.

Against that backdrop, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, has written a
letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary
Wilbur Ross to make them aware of the potential threat to the
partnership between Roswell Park and the Center for Molecular Immunology
in Cuba. Collins needs to inject himself into this matter, as well.

It's time to move forward in our relations with Cuba. That's the better
way of encouraging the country out of its repressive ways. But we
absolutely cannot go backward on developments in cancer treatment and
the possibility of giving years back to Americans suffering from lung
cancer.

Source: Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell
Park's work with Cuban institute - The Buffalo News -
http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/26/editorial-cancer-patients-stand-lose-trump-blocks-roswell-parks-work-cuban-institute/

Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy?

Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy?
The New York Times
By PETER BAKER

WASHINGTON — When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack
Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other
things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his
sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his
diplomatic opening to Cuba.

That was then. Five months after leaving office, Mr. Obama watches
mostly in silence as his successor takes a political sledgehammer to his
legacy. Brick by brick, President Trump is trying to tear down what Mr.
Obama built. The trade deal? Canceled. The climate pact? Forget it.
Cuba? Partially reversed. Health care? Unresolved, but to be repealed if
he can navigate congressional crosscurrents.

Every new president changes course, particularly those succeeding
someone from the other party. But rarely has a new president appeared so
determined not just to steer the country in a different direction but to
actively dismantle what was established before his arrival. Whether out
of personal animus, political calculation, philosophical disagreement or
a conviction that the last president damaged the country, Mr. Trump has
made clear that if it has Mr. Obama's name on it, he would just as soon
erase it from the national hard drive.

"I've reflected back and simply cannot find another instance in recent
American history where a new administration was so wholly committed to
reversing the accomplishments of its predecessor," Russell Riley, a
presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center,
said. While other presidents focus on what they will build, "this one is
different, far more comfortable still in swinging the wrecking ball than
in developing models for what is to follow."

Shirley Anne Warshaw, director of the Fielding Center for Presidential
Leadership Study at Gettysburg College, said Mr. Trump is not unusual in
making a clean break from his predecessor. "Trump isn't doing anything
that Obama didn't do," she said. "He is simply reversing policies that
were largely put in place by a president of a different party."

The difference, she said, is that other presidents have proactive ideas
about what to erect in place of their predecessor's programs. "I have
not seen any constructive bills in this vein that Trump has put forth,"
she said. "As far as I can tell, he has no independent legislative
agenda other than tearing down. Perhaps tax reform."

With a flourish, Mr. Trump has staged signing ceremonies meant to show
him tearing down. Not only did he pull out of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade deal and the Paris climate accord, he approved the
Keystone XL pipeline Mr. Obama had rejected and began reversing his
fuel-efficiency standards and power plant emissions limits. Not only is
he trying to repeal Obamacare, he has pledged to revoke regulations on
Wall Street adopted after the financial crash of 2008.

Still, he has not gone as far as threatened. He has for now kept Mr.
Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, however reluctantly, and while he
made a show of overturning Mr. Obama on Cuba, the fine print left much
of the policy intact. He did not rescind Mr. Obama's order sparing
younger illegal immigrants from deportation. Senate Republicans released
a new version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in recent
days, but it may yet end in impasse, leaving the program in place.

Advisers insist Mr. Trump is not driven by a desire to unravel the Obama
presidency. But like the Manhattan real estate developer he is, they
said, he believes he must in some cases demolish the old to make way for
the new.

"He hasn't dismantled everything, and I don't know that that's exactly
what he's looking to do," said Hope Hicks, the White House director of
strategic communications. "That may be a side effect of what he's
building for his own legacy. I don't think anybody's coming into the
office every day saying, 'How can we undo Obama's legacy, and how can he
go back?' "

Yet Mr. Trump has depicted the Obama legacy as a disastrous one that
needs unraveling. "To be honest, I inherited a mess," he said at a news
conference soon after taking office. "It's a mess. At home and abroad,
a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what's going on
with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other
places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas no matter where
you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea. We'll take care of
it, folks."

Critics say Mr. Obama brought this on himself. His biggest legislative
achievements were passed almost exclusively with Democratic votes,
meaning there was no bipartisan consensus that would outlast his
presidency. And when Republicans captured Congress, he turned to a
strategy he called the pen and the phone, signing executive orders that
could be easily erased by the next president.

"I've heard it joked about that the Obama library is being revised to
focus less on his legislative achievements as each week of the Trump
administration goes by," said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American
Conservative Union. "It's like living by the sword and dying by the
sword. When your presidency is based on a pen and a phone, all of that
can be undone, and I think we're seeing that happening rather
systematically."

Mr. Obama would argue he had little choice because of Republican
obstructionism. Either way, he has largely remained quiet through the
current demolition project, reasoning that speaking out would only give
Mr. Trump the public enemy he seems to crave. He made an exception on
Thursday, taking to Facebook to assail the new Senate health care bill
as "a massive transfer of wealth from middle class and poor families to
the richest people in America." But Mr. Obama's team takes solace in the
belief that Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy, better at bluster than
actually following through.

"Obama's legacy would be under much greater threat by a more competent
president than Donald Trump," said Josh Earnest, who served as Mr.
Obama's White House press secretary. "His inexperience and lack of
discipline are an impediment to his success in implementing policies
that would reverse what Obama instituted."

Other Obama veterans said much of what Mr. Trump has done was either
less dramatic than it appeared or reversible. He did not actually break
relations with Cuba, for instance. It will take years to actually
withdraw from the Paris accord, and the next president could rejoin. The
real impact, they argued, was to America's international reputation.

"There's a lot of posturing and, in fact, not a huge amount of change,
and to the extent there has been change, it's been of the self-defeating
variety," said Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.
"What's been happening is not that the administration is undoing
President Obama's legacy, it's undoing American leadership on the
international stage."

Mr. Trump, of course, is hardly the first president to scorn his
predecessor's tenure. George W. Bush was so intent on doing the opposite
of whatever Bill Clinton had done that his approach was called "ABC" —
Anything but Clinton. Mr. Obama spent years blaming his predecessor for
economic and national security setbacks — blame that supporters
considered justified and that Mr. Bush's team considered old-fashioned
buck passing.

For decades, presidents moving into the Oval Office have made a point on
their first day or two of signing orders overturning policies of the
last tenant, what Mr. Riley called "partisan kabuki" to signal that "a
new president is in town."

The most tangible example is an order signed by Ronald Reagan barring
taxpayer financing for international family planning organizations that
provide abortion counseling. Mr. Clinton rescinded it when he came into
office. Mr. Bush restored it, Mr. Obama overturned it again and Mr.
Trump restored it again.

Even so, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama invested much effort in
deconstructing programs left behind. Mr. Bush kept Mr. Clinton's health
care program for lower-income children, his revamped welfare system and
his AmeriCorps service organization. Mr. Obama undid much of Mr. Bush's
No Child Left Behind education program, but kept his Medicare
prescription medicine program, his AIDS-fighting program and most of his
counterterrorism apparatus.

That was in keeping with a longer tradition. Dwight D. Eisenhower did
not unravel Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, nor did Richard M. Nixon
dismantle Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Mr. Reagan promised to
eliminate the departments of Education and Energy, created by Jimmy
Carter, but ultimately did not.

Mr. Obama understood that his legacy might be jeopardized by Mr. Trump.
During last year's campaign, he warned supporters that "all the progress
we've made over these last eight years goes out the window" if Mr. Trump
won. Only after the election did he assert the opposite. "Maybe 15
percent of that gets rolled back, 20 percent," he told The New Yorker's
David Remnick. "But there's still a lot of stuff that sticks."

Indeed, when it comes time to tally the record for the history books,
Mr. Trump can hardly reverse some of Mr. Obama's most important
achievements, like pulling the economy back from the abyss of a deep
recession, rescuing the auto industry and authorizing the commando raid
that killed Osama bin Laden. Nor can Mr. Trump take away what will
surely be the first line in Mr. Obama's obituary, his barrier-shattering
election as the first African-American president.

Conversely, Mr. Obama owns his failures regardless of Mr. Trump's
actions. History's judgment of his handling of the civil war in Syria or
the messy aftermath of the intervention in Libya or the economic
inequality he left behind will not depend on his successor. If anything,
America's decision to replace Mr. Obama with someone as radically
different as Mr. Trump may be taken as evidence of Mr. Obama's inability
to build sustained public support for his agenda or to mitigate the
polarization of the country.

But legacies are funny things. Presidents are sometimes defined because
their successors are so different. Mr. Obama today is more popular than
he was during most of his presidency, likely a result of the contrast
with Mr. Trump, who is the most unpopular president this early in his
tenure in the history of polling. By this argument, even if Mr. Trump
does disassemble the Obama legacy, it may redound to his predecessor's
historical benefit.

Richard Norton Smith, who has directed the libraries of four Republican
presidents, said presidents are often credited with paving the way
toward goals that may elude them during their tenure. Harry S. Truman is
called the father of Medicare even though it was not achieved until
Johnson's presidency. Mr. Bush is remembered for pushing for immigration
reform even though Congress rebuffed him.

"It's hard to imagine future historians condemning Barack Obama for
breaking with his country's past ostracism of Cuba or joining the
civilized world in combating climate change or pursuing a more humane
and accessible approach to health care," Mr. Smith said. "Indeed, we
build memorials to presidents who prod us toward fulfilling the
egalitarian vision of Jefferson's declaration."

But that may not be all that comforting to Mr. Obama. Presidents prefer
memorials to their lasting accomplishments, not their most fleeting.

Source: Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy? -
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/analysis-can-trump-destroy-obama%e2%80%99s-legacy/ar-BBD7mYr?li=BBnb7Kz

US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers

US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers
By Andrea Rodriguez and Michael Weissenstein | AP June 22

HAVANA — The U.S. and Cuba are still cooperating to intercept drug
smugglers even through the Trump administration has halted high-level
meetings on stopping the flow of narcotics through the Caribbean, a top
Cuban anti-drug official said Thursday.

The amount of drugs seized by Cuban authorities has tripled this year
over the same period in 2016, to 1.8 tons of narcotics, said Antonio
Israel Ibarra, the head of Cuba's National Commission on Drugs.

That number is tiny compared to drug seizures in neighboring countries,
but it represents a surge due largely to U.S.-Cuban cooperation on
halting shipments of marijuana through or near Cuban territorial waters,
Ibarra said.

Cuba maintains a pervasive state-security apparatus that has managed to
keep levels of drug smuggling and serious crime to some of the lowest in
Latin American and the Caribbean. U.S. officials say day-to-day
cooperation on halting U.S.-bound human trafficking and narcotics has
improved significantly since the re-establishment of diplomatic
relations in 2015, with the two nations' coast guards talking directly
to each other and cooperating in real time on a regular basis.

High-level meetings on law-enforcement cooperation have halted, however,
since President Donald Trump took office this year. On June 16, Trump
announced a new U.S. policy on Cuba that would prohibit most new
Americans transactions with Cuban military-linked businesses and
restrict U.S. travel to Cuba.

Ibarra said Cuba is still willing to continue high-level cooperation.

"We hope that for the sake of both countries they're not going to give
back the effective cooperation that Cuba can provide them," he said.
"They're certainly the ones that benefit most."

Cuba and the U.S. signed an anti-drug cooperation agreement last July
and have held four meetings to strengthen cooperation since then, Ibarra
said. The meeting meant to happen in the first half of 2017 in
Washington was cancelled by the Trump administration, he said.

___

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

Source: US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers - The
Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/us-cuba-still-cooperating-on-stopping-drug-smugglers/2017/06/22/3605bdae-57ae-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html?utm_term=.b4434e57f587

GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL

GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL
Trip delayed 24 hours after Airbus A330 jet returned to Manchester with
oil pressure problem
SIMON CALDER TRAVEL CORRESPONDENT
@SimonCalder

Hundreds of Thomas Cook Airlines passengers have had their Cuban holiday
extended by more than 24 hours after an inflight mechanical incident
involving an Airbus A330. They will be paid £530 for the inconvenience
caused.

Flight MT2652 took off from Manchester with 332 passengers on board on
Monday afternoon, the destination Holguin in eastern Cuba. But as it was
flying over the Atlantic about 200 miles west of the Irish coast, the
pilots decided to return to the Thomas Cook base in Manchester because
of an oil pressure issue with the left-hand engine.

No emergency was declared, and the plane made a normal landing.

Unusually, the plane was missing a wingtip on the left-hand wing, which
caused some mistaken concern that part of the wing had fallen off. One
newspaper headline read: "Jet returns to UK for emergency landing with a
broken wing."

In fact, engineers had previously removed the wingtip - which is not an
essential component, but an aid to fuel efficiency - for repair.

Passengers were given overnight accommodation in the Manchester area,
and have continued their journey today on a different aircraft.

The 295 holidaymakers in Cuba who were expecting to fly back on Monday
were able to stay at their hotels, and will return just over 24 hours late.

Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the passengers at both ends of the
route will qualify for €600 (£530) in statutory EU compensation for the
delay. They should apply to contact customer relations to have their
claims processed. If they all claim, the compensation will total £335,000.

When the costs of hotel accommodation and the aborted flight are added,
the holiday firm's total bill for the episode will be around
half-a-million pounds.

Airbus A330 jets have encountered a series of problems in recent weeks,
with an AirAsia X plane returning to Perth after an engine issue which
left it "shaking like a washing machine", and a China Eastern aircraft
returning to Sydney after a large hole appeared in the engine housing.

The original Thomas Cook Airbus A330 has been repaired and inspected,
and is now back in service.

Source: Glitch on Thomas Cook flight to Cuba leaves airline with £500k
bill | The Independent -
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/thomas-cook-airlines-cuba-flight-airbus-a330-oil-pressure-wing-tip-manchester-airport-holguin-a7810226.html

Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy

Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy
BY MIKE GONZALEZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 06/27/17 11:00 AM EDT 54

Was President Obama's opening to the Castro government motivated by a
real belief that it would help Cubans, or was it a vanity project from
the start? We will never know for sure, but we do know it violated his
Inaugural promise that he would shake the hands of tyrants only if they
first unclenched their fists.

Raul Castro has never relaxed his grip on the island he and his brother
have ruled for nearly 60 years. In fact, after Obama announced the
re-establishment of relations with in December 2014, he tightened it.
Since then, Cuban dissidents have paid a heavy price in repression,
arrests and beatings.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation,
politically motivated arbitrary arrests rose rapidly after the opening,
culminating in 9,940 last year—a six-year high. In December alone, 14
dissidents were beaten by government officials, according to the
Havana-based Commission, whose numbers are reported by Amnesty
International.

President Obama argued that, by "normalizing" relations with Cuba, the
regime would be inspired to grant fundamental freedoms to its people.
Yet Obama asked for, and of course received, nothing in return from the
Cuban authorities.

President Trump put some of that right yesterday when he announced that
he would reverse some of the Obama changes and reinstate some
prohibitions on trade with military-controlled entities and persons on
the communist-ruled island.

Trump's changes don't go far enough. Still, his critics should resist
the urge to lash out at him.

Once upon a time, American liberals knew that legitimizing dictators
never ended well for those who dared speak their minds. That insight led
them to denounce Washington's support for dictators and call out the
moral hollowness in FDR's fatuous line that Anastasio Somoza Sr. may
have been an S.O.B., "but he's our S.O.B."

They should not be surprised today that the Washington establishment's
rush to embrace the Castro regime in pursuit increased trade would only
further entrench the family's hold on power. The Obama changes, which
facilitated American trade and transfer of convertible currency to the
military and the Castro family, only made easier the prospect of their
continued rule.

In other words, if you denounced the Somozas, Augusto Pinochet and
Ferdinand Marcos, and you want to be considered consistent, you should
support the changes Trump announced in Miami.

Those changes are, in fact, narrowly tailored to restrict the
aggrandizement of the regime's military. And they didn't come easy.

Two factions waged a tremendous struggle to win President Trump's heart
and mind on the issue. On one side were a phalanx of congressional
offices that sought to curb the Cuban military's access to convertible
currency. Opposing them were career officials burrowed inside the
Treasury and the State Departments, who wanted President Obama's
legacy—the "historic opening" to the Castros—to be left untouched.

Nor was Cuba an idle bystander in the debate. According to Marc Caputo
at Politico, the regime launched a last-minute bid to stave off the
changes, enlisting Colombia's help in lobbying Trump. The government of
President Juan Manuel Santos reportedly threatened to pull out of a
U.S.-led summit on security in Latin America.

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), told the White House to tell Colombia that
if it withdrew from the summit, it could kiss the $450 million "Peace
Colombia" aid package goodbye. And that was that.

In the end, the Trump Cuba change closely mirrored the 2015 Cuban
Military Transparency Act introduced by Rubio in the Senate and by Devin
Nunes, (R– Calif.), in the House. The bill prohibits U.S. persons and
companies "from engaging in financial transactions with or transfers of
funds to" the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, the
Ministry of the Interior, any of their subdivisions and companies and
other entities owned by them.

In other words, it aims directly at Cuba's largest company, the Grupo
Gaesa holding company (Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, Sociedad
Anonima). Founded by Raul Castro in the 1990s, Gaesa is run by the
military, more specifically, by Gen. Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Lopez-Callejas—who also happens to be Castro's son-in-law. It represents
an estimated 80 percent of the island nation's economy.

Its affiliate, Gaviota, SA., owns the tourism industry. If you eat ropa
vieja at a restaurant, sip a mojito in bar, play golf in a resort, or
sleep in a hotel—you are paying Gaviota. Same with renting a taxi or
renting a car. Thanks to Trump's changes, that cash flow will now be
interrupted.

Or Raul Castro can unclench his fist and allow real Cubans to own and
run these places, and we really have President Obama's dream, expressed
on a January 14, 2011 speech, of increasing "people-to-people contact;
support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to,
from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence
form the Cuban authorities."

Shouldn't liberals support this?

Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus) is a senior fellow in the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy
Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views
of The Hill.

Source: Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy |
TheHill -
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/339637-why-liberals-should-support-trump-not-obama-on-cuba