Monday, October 31, 2016

Dance Cuba US Tour

LIZT ALFONSO DANCE CUBA: NOVENA GIRA POR ESTADOS UNIDOS
LIZT ALFONSO DANCE CUBA: NINTH USA TOUR
Octubre-noviembre 2016
Espectáculo/ Show: Cuba vibra!
Ciudades/ Cities: 7! 
Chicago (Illinois), Detroit (Michigan), Atlanta (Georgia), San Luis Obispo (California), Lewisburg (Pennsylvania), Sheboygan (Wisconsin), Statesville (North Carolina) 
Funciones/ Performances: 
Oct. 30 – Lewisburg, Pensilvania / Weis Center for the performing arts at Bucknell University
Nov. 03 – Sheboygan, Wisconsin / John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Nov. 05 y Nov. 06 – Chicago, Illinois / Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University
Nov. 09 – Detroit, Michigan / Detroit Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
Nov. 10 – Atlanta, Georgia / The Rialto Center for the Arts
<P! class=MsoNormalNov. 12 – Statesville, North Carolina / Performing Arts Live of Iredell 
Nov. 15 – San Luis Obispo, California / Cal Poly Arts</SP! an


LIZT ALFONSO DANCE CUBA
Compostela 659. La Habana. Cuba
Tel. +53 7 866 36 80 / +53 7 866 36 88 / +53 7 866 36 89
Fax. +53 7 866 0740
www.liztalfonso.com
www.facebook.com/pages/BALLET-LIZT-ALFONSO-DANCE-CUBA/180370336757?ref=hl
www.youtube.com/c/liztalfonso

Trip Advisor Will Book for Cuba

TripAdvisor to Start Booking Travel to Cuba

By JUSTIN SABLICH 
   OCT. 27, 2016 


Travelers will soon be able to book accommodations to Cuba through TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel websites. It’s the latest development in an American travel industry that is slowly expanding tourism to the Communist nation.

The license, granted by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (O.F.A.C.), will allow TripAdvisor to book travel to Cuba for both United States and non-United States citizens, including for hotels, flights, cultural tours and short-term rentals, the company said.

TripAdvisor expects to begin travel-related sales to Cuba within the next few months, the company said.

“TripAdvisor looks forward to helping travelers all over the world discover Cuba’s vibrant history, people and culture as we begin the important work to make these trips possible,” said Stephen Kaufer, the president and chief executive of TripAdvisor.

It’s another step toward normalizing tourism to Cuba, but the reason for visiting must still fall into one of the 12 categories authorized by the O.F.A.C., which include family visits, academic programs, professional research and journalistic or religious activities.

While travelers can currently search for flights and hotels using TripAdvisor and other booking sites, they are redirected to third-party sites like Booking.com that are registered outside of the United States. The license will allow TripAdvisor to sell to travelers directly on its website.

Booking.com, the Amsterdam-based hotel-reservation site, said in March that it had reached agreements with several Cuban hotels to join its booking system.

The license granted to TripAdvisor is similar to the ones granted earlier in the year to other companies like Starwood for hotels and JetBlue and several other airlines for flights, and Airbnb for vacation rentals in 2015, TripAdvisor said.

The expanded travel options to Cuba began materializing after President Obama announced in 2014 that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with the country.

“We applaud President Obama’s policies to ease these restrictions and build relations with our island neighbor just 90 miles south of Florida,” Mr. Kaufer said in a statement.

Still, until the travel ban is completely lifted, travel will remain restricted to the government-sanctioned categories.

There is legislation in Congress that would allow for unrestricted travel to Cuba, but the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which was reintroduced in the Senate in January 2015, has yet to become law.
“We urge Congress to make these relationships permanent by passing legislation that gives U.S. citizens the unrestricted freedom to travel to Cuba,” said Seth Kalvert, a senior vice president of TripAdvisor.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/travel/tripadvisor-cuba-booking.html?_r=0

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

US Abstains in UN Vote Against Embargo

For First Time, U.S. Abstains On U.N. Resolution Criticizing Cuba Embargo


October 26, 20163:49 PM ET 


The U.N. General Assembly votes every year on a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. embargo on Cuba. The U.S. has always opposed the symbolic measure.
But today, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N Samantha Power told the General Assembly that for the first time, the U.S. would abstain.

It's part of a new approach by the Obama administration, she told the member states: "Rather than try to close off Cuba from the rest of the world, we want the world of opportunities and ideas open to the people of Cuba. After 50-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we have chosen to take the path of engagement."

The vote was 191-0. Israel joined the U.S. in abstaining.

The White House explicitly opposes the half-century-old embargo and has taken a series of actions aimed at easing it, while calling on Congress to repeal it completely. The U.S. and Cuba began normalizing relations in 2014, and President Obama made a landmark visit to the island nation earlier this year.

"No reason to vote to defend a failed policy we oppose," Ben Rhodes, a top White House adviser, tweeted. "The embargo denies opportunities to Cubans and isolates the U.S. For the sake of our interests and the Cuban people it should be lifted."

So why abstain, rather than vote in favor of the U.N. resolution? As Power put it: "I have to be clear, we don't support the shift for the reason stated in this resolution."The resolution calls for U.N. member states to stop applying laws that, among other things, are in violation of the U.N. charter and those that limit international trade and navigation. As Power said in her remarks, "All actions of the United States with regard to Cuba have been and are fully in conformity with the U.N. Charter and international law. ... We categorically reject the statements in the resolution that suggest otherwise."

This was the 25th time that the U.N. General Assembly has voted on a resolution calling for an end to the embargo, which has been in place since 1962, as Reuters reported. The wire service says the resolution is "non-binding, but can carry political weight."

In her comments, Power noted that "abstaining on this resolution does not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government. We do not." She pointed to instances in which government critics have been arbitrarily detained and restrictions on the flow of information to the island.


She characterized today's abstention as a "small step" and closed her remarks by saying she hoped for more such steps — including "finally ending the U.S. embargo once and for all."

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/26/499469386/for-first-time-u-s-abstains-on-u-n-resolution-condemning-cuba-embargo

Friday, October 21, 2016

T-Mobile Roaming Now Available

October 21, 2016 



After striking a Cuba roaming deal back in May, T-Mobile today enabled its customers to roam in Cuba.

Starting today, T-Mobile customers can talk, text, and use data while in Cuba using their phone number and device. Pricing is set at $2.00 per minute for calling, $0.50 per sent SMS and MMS (free to receive), and $2.00 per megabyte. T-Mo also notes that Wi-Fi Calling is free. 

If you’re in the US, you’ve been able to place calls to Cuba since May if you’ve got the Stateside International Talk add-on. With this feature, calls cost $0.60 per minute.


It’s good to see T-Mobile rolling out Cuba roaming after announcing plans to do so back in May. It may not be cheap — though it is a bit cheaper than AT&T’s Cuba roaming prices — but it is convenient for T-Mobile customers that decide to travel to Cuba

http://www.tmonews.com/2016/10/t-mobile-now-offers-roaming-cuba/

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Personal Guide to Havana Culture

CULTOUR WITH ENRIQUE NUÑEZ


A private program of guided visits to cultural places in Havana.
Enrique Núñez. Art Historian, Singer-songwriter, Artistic Director,  is a “Lecturer on Wheels..”, who spent 45 years in Cuban show business, and will guide you to a very special, unforgettable experience, inside the culture of his city. Choose from private handicrafts, art workshops and galleries, folklore and Afro-Cuban religion, inside Havana University, “Fusterland” community project, Farm Markets, music recording studios, The Jewish Holocaust Museum, music conservatories, boxing gym in El Barrio, where Cuban champions are born, The Cuban Universe of Ernest Hemingway, F.A.C. (Cuban Art Factory), Private World-Class Concerts and  Gourmet Tour in Cuban Traditional Food are some of the options you have with

CULTOUR WITH ENRIQUE NUÑEZ.
 (Up to 8 hours/60 kilometers a day program, into Havana perimeter)

1 person………………………………..150.00cuc
2 persons……………………………….200.00cuc
3 persons……………………………….240.00cuc
4 persons……………………………….300.00cuc

Board an old Soviet LADA, “The Car of the Cuban Survival”, and enjoy this personalized tour in Havana, lead by a protagonist of the Cuban Culture. Assistance is also available to find rooms in good quality hotels and bed & breakfasts.

CONTACT
Phone:   (537) 8364849 / Cell-phone (535) 391 37 68 / e.mail:  iroko011@gmail.com

********************

“If you want an authentic Cuban experience, then Enrique is your guy. For two days he was our personal tour guide and made sure our experience was filled with live music, historically significant, cultural attractions and food. What made the trip even more special is that Enrique knows everyone. We couldn't walk an inch without one of his friends greeting us with a bright smile welcoming us to Cuba. The people are what makes Cuba great. We had two days full of activities and he even took us to the parties at night. I highly recommend him…
  Nicholas Owen. NOTV. Washington DC.

"I've travelled quite extensively, and always appreciate experiencing both the uniquely local and tourist-centric offerings of a country. Enrique and his CULTOUR were able to capture these elements seamlessly, combining cultural and historical education, everyday Cuban life, and underground live Cuban music.. .2 thumbs up for CULTOUR WITH ENRIQUE NUÑEZ !!"
  Kyle Hutton. NYC. 

"Enrique's Cultour was the best way for us to see Havana.  He was very accommodating, gave great insight into the city, and was very passionate and knowledgeable about the history and culture. He was also extremely helpful getting us dinner reservations and made sure we were well taken care of.  We're glad he was part of our Havana experience!"
  Tracie & Danielle. New York.

“Enrique is very  knowledgeable, a terrific guide. Flexible with the itinerary and plans. His deep understanding of Cuban history, and his seamless program allows for a day packed with history and cultural experiences including   jazz, art and culinary treasures. Without Enrique, we would not have been able to experience the richness of the Cuban culture and it’s many dimensions. A wonderful day in Havana…We can’t thank him enough!”                                                                                                Theresa Emory. MD. NYC.

My wife and I recently made our first visit to Havana, and by far our wisest decision was to sign up for a 2-day CULTOUR with Enrique Nunez.  Touring the city with Enrique for 2 days, we were able to do more, see more and experience Havana like we couldn’t have done on our own in 2 weeks!  Music, art, food and drink, culture, literature, history and lively discussion throughout with our engaging and knowledgeable host made for a very special experience.  I highly recommend Enrique’s CULTOUR.   He even arranged for our accommodations and just took great care of us throughout.  Just a wonderful  guy who we would now consider a dear friend.
  Tom & Mary Pat Colicchio – New York, NY

CULTOUR with Enrique Nuñez” was an amazing way to get a customized experience of Havana! Enrique is a seasoned professional who knows all the ins and outs of Havana and can create the perfect experience based on what your interests are. He took us to the main attractions of Havana as well as some hidden gems. Spending the day in his Soviet Lada was such a great way to explore a city rich in culture and heritage.”
  Cassandra Metu. Lieutenant Commander, United States Public Health Service. NYC 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Murphy vs Rubio, Big Test for Embargo

Patrick Murphy breaks barrier on U.S.-Cuban relations in Rubio challenge

Thursday, October 13, 2016 6:00am

TALLAHASSEE — For the first time in Florida's modern political history, Patrick Murphy is proposing something that no major party nominee for the U.S. Senate has dared to say. End the embargo with Cuba and replace it with more targeted sanctions.

For the last 54 years, the one automatic for any Republican or Democrat seeking to win a U.S. Senate seat in Florida was to assure voters they would back the embargo with Cuba until it forced the communist dictatorship out of power.
From when the embargo started in 1960 through 2012, every single party nominee for the U.S. Senate — both Democratic and Republican — opposed weakening the embargo.
And for good reason. Almost 1 million Cuban-Americans live in Miami-Dade — the state's most populous county — and as a bloc they can end any candidate's political ambitions.
Florida's senior senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, has not called for ending the embargo. But he has been firm in calling for changes of U.S. policy toward Cuba to "get into the 21st century" and has supported President Barack Obama's steps to normalize relations.
Enter Murphy, a Miami native, who backs Obama's efforts to engage more with Cuba.
Suddenly, Florida voters are in a position to have both U.S. Senators who support a more open diplomatic approach to Cuba.
"It's monumental," said Hector Perla, senior research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Perla said if Florida — 90 miles from Cuba — suddenly has both senators supportive of warmer relations with Cuba, it changes the entire debate in Washington.
Murphy's position is even more startling given he faces U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in November. Rubio's world view is shaped by his Cuban roots. He's positioned himself as the Obama administration's toughest critic on Cuba. He has been unwavering in his support of the embargo and has opposed scaling back restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. In fact while running for president, Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants who has lived most of his life in Miami, told The Guardian he "absolutely" would have reversed Obama's policies toward Cuba.
"The President's decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable," Rubio said in 2014. Rubio pledged to use his position as a subcommittee chairman to block the administration's "dangerous" policies toward Cuba.
Since then Rubio has castigated the administration every time it has taken action on Cuba, whether it was lifting some commercial and travel sanctions, removing Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, or when Obama visited Havana.
Rubio said he wants change in the U.S. policy, but only if the Cuban government also offers change. Obama's efforts have all been one sided with no concessions from Cuba, he says.
Democrats like Murphy, particularly in Florida, have followed Obama's lead in calling for a change in the decades old adherence to the embargo. Already there is a growing contingent of Republicans around the nation that also has been pushing to end the embargo.
Polls shows why.
Nearly 70 percent of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County support the U.S. decision to open diplomatic relations with Cuba and a strong majority — 63 percent — oppose the embargo, according to a Florida International University poll released last month.
The poll reveals a major shift in Cuban-American attitudes toward U.S.-Cuba relations. Support for the embargo has steadily declined among Cuban-Americans in the Miami area — from an average of 84 percent in the 1990s to just 37 percent this year.
"The majority support at least some elements of the new course now being charted,'' said FIU professor Guillermo J. Grenier.
While older Cubans mostly support the embargo, younger Cubans in Miami have been increasingly open to resuming relations. Their reasoning is that as U.S. influence floods the island nation, the dictatorship will crumble faster.
Still those poll numbers have never been tested in an election for the Senate which has the power to change the law. When Nelson last ran for re-election in 2012, it was before Obama's moved to normalize relations. Nelson has been cautious in his statements about Cuba, but signaled the need for a change of approach.
It's a different era now, said former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, a Tampa Democrat. In 2003, Davis, then a 3rd term congressman, visited Cuba on a fact finding mission, becoming the first U.S. Congressman from Florida to visit the island openly. Three years later, that visit resonated in Miami, haunting his gubernatorial run.
"People didn't really know me there, but what they knew was that I had gone to Cuba," Davis said. "It was a shut door. I still won Hispanic votes in Miami but it definitely hurt me with Cubans."
Davis, a Murphy supporter, said this year's Florida senate race could be historic.
"If you had two U.S. Senators from Florida ready to move past the embargo, that is a powerful change in the debate in Washington," Davis said.
Patrick Murphy breaks barrier on U.S.-Cuban relations in Rubio challenge 10/13/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 7:16pm]


http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/patrick-murphy-breaks-barrier-on-us-cuban-relations-in-rubio-challenge/2297797

Monday, October 3, 2016

Clinton Campaign Ad Criticizes Trump for Violating Embargo

With Cuban exile leaders mum, Clinton launches Miami radio attack ad over Trump's embargo-breaking

By MARC CAPUTO 10/03/16 06:00 AM EDT


MIAMI — In a sign of the “uncomfortable” spot Donald Trump has put them in, the Miami Republican leaders who support a hard line on Cuba don’t want to talk about a news story detailing how one of the GOP presidential nominee’s companies helped violate the U.S. embargo of the communist island.

So Hillary Clinton is making sure voters hear all about it in South Florida — home to a sizable population of pro-embargo Republican Cuban-Americans — in a 30-second radio ad called “Two Trumps.”

“One Donald comes to Miami to sip cafecito Cubano and talk about the human rights abuses of Castro’s communist regime. The other Donald thinks because of his money and his business that he’s above the law,” the ad says in English and Spanish.

“An investigative report by Newsweek revealed that one of Donald Trump’s businesses violated the Cuba embargo in 1998. It said that the business paid a consultant $68,000 to travel to Cuba and explore business opportunities for Trump’s company.”

Trump and his campaign haven’t denied specifics of the story, which first ran Thursday. But the candidate later said that “I never did business in Cuba … I never did anything in Cuba. I never did a deal in Cuba.”

While it might be true that Trump hasn’t “done a deal” in Cuba, Trump’s business paid Seven Arrows Investment & Development Corp. $68,551 for “Expenses incurred prior to an including a trip to Cuba on Behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc.,” according to an invoice from the firm.

Under U.S. law, it would have been illegal for Seven Arrows to spend money on the island, so as not to enrich the Castro regime. The consulting firm could have applied for a license to travel to Cuba with the U.S. government. But the company instead traveled without a license and, according to a document unearthed by Newsweek, indicated to the Trump organization that it would cover its tracks by claiming the Cuba visit was hosted by a Catholic charity that would have picked up all its expenses.

Until recently, news like this would have riled the Cuban-American community. Spending money in Cuba is like putting cash in Castro’s pocket, they say. Trump said it too — about nine months after his company paid the consultant’s bill as he was examining a bid for president in 2000.
But support for the embargo is dying a slow death, according to polls. Cuban-American Republican voters are the last holdouts in favor of the policy.

And for Republican leaders, criticizing Trump runs the risk of depressing support for the nominee in Miami-Dade County, where 72 percent of the 366,000 Republicans are Hispanic and nearly all are Cuban-American. Without these voters’ strong backing, Republican candidates struggle to win Florida in close races. And if Trump loses Florida, he’ll lose his shot at the White House.
A sustained ad campaign to point out this Cuba controversy could help keep Trump from consolidating more Cuban-American support, which has been weak already, said Dario Moreno, a Republican pollster and political science professor from Florida International University who has co-taught a class with Sen. Marco Rubio.

He said Trump has put Rubio and others exile leaders “in an uncomfortable position,"
“The reaction [from the exile community] has been muted,” Moreno said. “First off: fever for the embargo is falling considerably. And second, a lot of these voters have nowhere else to go.”
Clinton, after all, has called for repealing the embargo. Trump recently clarified his position in Miami to say he supports the embargo still.

Rubio said he’ll “reserve judgment” about the report, but said these “serious accusations” should be answered by Trump, who hasn’t done that. Meanwhile, Rubio accused Clinton of hypocrisy on the issue.

“She’s now so interested in enforcing the Cuban embargo, and in fact, she wants to lift it,” Rubio said Friday to reporters. “She wants to see more trade in Cuba. Hillary Clinton supports more travel to Cuba, more trade to Cuba, she wants to get rid of the embargo in Cuba. So, I think it’s kind of hypocritical to be out there screaming about this when she supports lifting the embargo.”

To Rubio’s point, Clinton’s ad avoids any mention of the fact that she wants the embargo lifted, and the ad draws a line between spending money in Cuba and backing the Castros. The ad seeks to make Trump a hypocrite.

“While our parents and grandparents were fighting the Castro regime — both on and off the island — Donald Trump was looking to line his pockets, and even worse, those of the Castro brothers,” the ad says. “This is a serious insult to our community.”

One of the anti-embargo Republican Cuban-Americans backing Clinton against Trump, Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez, said Rubio “doesn’t have any backbone” because he won’t criticize Trump the way he would, say, bash a Democrat for violating the embargo.

“Marco is not being consistent. He’s being politically expedient. Either the embargo matters or it doesn’t,” Fernandez said. “I think that all these guys know today that the embargo’s days are outnumbered. But they’re still trying to sit on the fence, saying Trump needs to clarify what he said. You know what he said. Look at what he did. That tells you what he meant.”

For Bernadette Pardo, host of the local Spanish-language show Radio Mambí called “Pedaleando con Bernie,” said the embargo no longer seemed to matter to so many in Miami in light of Newsweek’s Trump story.

“A lot of people who call my show, who would have gone ballistic a few years ago at such news, are totally untroubled and simply say he's a businessman,” she said. “A couple have pointed out his hypocrisy at saying one thing to Cubans here and doing the exact opposite according to Newsweek. Not many years ago around that time [in 1998], I covered cases of people who went to jail for violating the embargo.”

The embargo has never been completely strict and draconian. Travelers and business interests have skirted the law and slipped in and out for years, said Mauricio Claver-Carone, a pro-embargo activist and influential blogger.

In one post on the Capitol Hill Cubans blog, Claver-Carone said Clinton should tell the White House to crack down on other violators of the sanctions. After Newsweek published its first story, Claver-Carone posted a blog item that questioned whether Trump should be praised for not investing in Cuba after checking it out.

Trump emissaries have expressed interest in Cuba on at least three occasions.

Caught in all the Republican crossfire is U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Miami Republican who supports the embargo and opposes Trump. He wouldn’t say much, but expressed concern that Trump was partly getting a pass on the embargo issue.

“Exile leaders should hold all candidates to the same standard on Cuba policy, past and present,” Curbelo said, adding that Clinton “has clear support for Obama’s policy of unilateral concessions to the Castro government. But his [Trump’s] policy is unknown … it’s unclear.”

Curbelo’s fellow GOP House member from Miami who’s also not backing Trump, .S. Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, avoided any mention of the controversy. Her active Twitter feed spoke about everything else since the story broke: the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, the University of Miami’s football team, Iran policy, and Colombia’s rejected peace deal Sunday with the rebel group known as FARC.

U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, also a Republican, said he wants to support Trump and that he draws some comfort from the fact that Trump ultimately didn’t invest in Cuba. He said Trump is still a better choice than Clinton when it comes to Cuba policy.

While Díaz-Balart and others take issue with polls showing declining support for the embargo, it’s clear that advocating a hardline on Cuba policy is markedly less of an issue for Trump compared to his predecessors.

In 2012, for instance, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign went into damage control after The Miami Herald reported his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, voted three times against the embargo. Days after Romney made the announcement of his running mate, he stood in Miami with Ros-Lehtinen, Díaz-Balart and his brother, former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart — who helped persuade then President Bill Clinton to codify the embargo in 1996 in federal law — to underscore the ticket’s pro-embargo bonafides. Ryan later came to Miami and pledged to support the embargo.
Now, Trump has given the Clinton campaign a way to try to undermine his outreach to the exile community. A senior Clinton adviser said the ad could target “a universe of … Spanish-speaking Cubans or older Cubans who — whether they vote for Hillary or not, or whether they just leave it blank or write someone in or vote third-party — that's bad for him. Because that's a vote away from him. It's just another issue with one group of voters who are, literally single-issue voters."

For Henry Gomez, an embargo supporter and writer and former editor of Babalú Blog, is among those Cuban-American conservatives who just can’t back Trump because it means “defending the indefensible.” Gomez said he’s voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson, who opposes the embargo as well.

Gomez said the exile community would have been more vocal about the Trump controversy during the GOP presidential primaries, when Rubio was still running for the White House. Trump beat Rubio in every county, except Miami-Dade.

The relative lack of vocal criticism about Trump from the exile community is partly a sign of how “the old guard is dying or feels defeated,” Gomez said. “It's politics now. Not policy.”

http://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2016/10/with-cuban-exile-leaders-mum-clinton-launches-miami-radio-attack-over-trumps-embargo-breaking-106010