Eyewitness accounts from Cuba of November 15th and beyond
Webinar Friday, November 26, 4 p.m. ET
The video of the webinar is available here https://youtu.be/ySMvjlKy30Y
Watch it at your convenience and please share it as widely as you can.
The chat and Q&A are posted at the bottom of this page with bios and resources.
Going to Cuba to independently observe what took place on the 15th put us $2,000 in the hole. Tax deductible contributions are greatly appreciated, click here or mail a check to Fund for Reconciliation and Development, 64 Jean Court, Riverhead, NY 11901
Ed Augustin, resident journalist, NY Times, The Nation, The Guardian
Rafael Hernandez, editor, Temas magazine
Rita McNiff, travel provider, Like a Cuban
William LeoGrande, American University
John McAuliff, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Ed Augustin is a British journalist who has been based in Havana for 9 years. He writes for the Guardian, The New York Times and The Nation magazine. He broadcasts for NBC News.
William LeoGrande Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, American UniversityProfessor of Government and a specialist in Latin American politics and U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, Professor LeoGrande has been a frequent adviser to government and private sector agencies. He has written five books, including Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977 – 1992. Most recently, he is coauthor of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana. Previously, he served on the staffs of the Democratic Policy Committee of the United States Senate, and the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Central America of the United States House of Representatives. Professor LeoGrande has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, and a Pew Faculty Fellow in International Affairs. His articles have appeared in various international and national journals, magazines and newspapers. PhD, Syracuse University
Personal reflections on being in Cuba for November 15th
by John McAuliff, 11/30/31
"PROTEST IN CUBA: WHY IT FAILED"by Stephen Kimber & John Kirk COUNTERPUNCH, November 22, 2021
"Tourists trickle in to Cuba following pandemic slumber"
By Gustavo Palencia November 25, 2021 Reuters
Dear Colleague Letter initiated by Representative Jim McGovern to "Address Humanitarian Crisis, Restore Engagement with Cuba" will remain open until December 3d.
Jill Biden in Cuba (Camaguey and Havana)
15:16:36 From John McAuliff to Everyone:
16:07:56 From Sheyla Paz to Hosts and panelists:
Hello everyone from Nashville. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving day!
16:11:03 From Sheyla Paz to Hosts and panelists:
How is the food situation?
16:11:40 From Thomas Hansen to Hosts and panelists:
How do you deal with currency exchanges?
16:12:54 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
I've heard from AA that this is because Cuban authorities have not given authorization beyond Jan 3rd.
16:13:54 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
How are the hotels? I've been wondering because of being totally excluded from US travelers.
16:14:44 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Of course, due to the pandemic, hotels worldwide have been very impacted by Covid, but perhaps in Cuba the situation is extreme. [The problem is that Trump/Biden licensing restrictions block Americans from use of all hotels. JMcA]
16:14:58 From Marcel Kunzmann to Hosts and panelists:
Question: How did you get the Abdala jabs as a foreigner? Cool! :)
16:15:00 From sarah arizaga to Hosts and panelists:
What is the money situation? Do USD still work "unofficially"?
16:15:06 From Thomas Hansen to Hosts and panelists:
currency exchange from dollars?
16:15:16 From Michael J. Good to Hosts and panelists:
how is covid in the real communities? Michael Good Birding guide [Every community is being vaccinated nationwide. J McA]
16:17:13 From Elena Espinosa to Hosts and panelists:
I left Havana November 1st and I was exchanging my USD for 1:62CUP
16:17:31 From Talek Nantes to Hosts and panelists:
How do the casas expect to be paid?
16:17:48 From Gonzalo Lopez to Hosts and panelists:
Is the Mexican peso a good currency to take to Cuba now?
16:17:54 From sarah arizaga to Hosts and panelists:
Cuba is saying they have approved all the US flights, and were waiting on US approval.
16:18:56 From Talek Nantes to Hosts and panelists:
Is it safe to change US$ on the street to get a better rate?
16:25:59 From John McAuliff to Everyone:
Contributions to support our work for normalization, including a very expensive trip https://tinyurl.com/donateFRD
16:28:28 From Gonzalo Lopez to Hosts and panelists:
Could we get a copy of Rafael's presentation via email? [The substance of it will probably be in his third essay which will be added to the blog post here.]
16:32:56 From Ramon Bueno to Hosts and panelists:
Where is the mentioned blog found?
16:35:02 From Rita McNiff to Sheyla Paz and all panelists:
Regarding the food situation, Sheyla, the paladars, many casas and hotels are well stocked. There are also food delivery options from restaurants, private grocery stores and farms with the apps Mandao, Pamicasa and direct sales
16:36:20 From Merriam Ansara to Hosts and panelists:
thank you, John, and presenters. this very useful presentations and perspectives
16:36:57 From Rita McNiff to Thomas Hansen and all panelists:
Thomas, any currency can be exchanged officially apart from the USD. That said there is a lot of exchange happening unofficially and that also makes exchanging USD an option.
16:37:21 From Sheyla Paz to Hosts and panelists:
That’s fantastic to hear Rita. Thanks for the update and for being here!
16:41:55 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Ed, do you believe that if tourism is coming back to better levels, the conditions of discontent will be quelled?
16:43:20 From Circles Robinson to Hosts and panelists:
Ed don't forget to mention what led to the protest a year ago at the Ministry of Culture.
16:43:26 From Rita McNiff to Andrea Holbrook and all panelists:
Andrea, The hotels that I have gone through in the last couple weeks are looking good, but I have only been in Havana. Some remain closed. The Kempinski, Parque Central actually only ever closed briefly and their conditions are very good right now. The Aston Archipelago, which will be the most luxurious hotel in Havana is set to open on schedule in March
16:45:07 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
16:46:02 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
God help Cuba
16:46:18 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Sorry I am responding to what Ed is saying. But that is quite a cocktail.
16:46:47 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Thanks for inviting Ed. Very important to hear his voice.
16:47:20 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Another good question.....why didn't it happen?
16:47:25 From Thomas Hansen to Hosts and panelists:
16:49:03 From Elena Espinosa to Hosts and panelists:
November 15 is the day schools opened again, tourism opened again. I don't think this was a coincidence. The Cuban government crafted a great pro Cuba campaign to squelch the protestors. [The date of tourism opening was chosen by the protestors. Not sure whether school opening was also chosen first. J McA]
16:52:22 From Barbara Larcom to Hosts and panelists:
You mention Nicaragua as having heavy protests, but don't mention Honduras?
16:59:45 From Michael J. Good to Hosts and panelists:
Caribbean Conservation Trust is planning a field trip for February... should we be good to travel in February? How is Havanatur doing?
17:02:20 From William LeoGrande to Barbara Larcom and all panelists:
17:02:46 From Merriam Ansara to Hosts and panelists:
Dear Colleague letter https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xpCKPZPGOFrYQcJNjAbJWUdy19KlaaFO/edit?usp=drivesdk&ouid=110813575168158942188&rtpof=true&sd=true
17:05:56 From Merriam Ansara to Hosts and panelists:
current deadline is Friday December 3rd though it could be extended again
17:06:21 From Christopher Baker to Hosts and panelists:
Good moment for a segue on the contribution that U.S. tourism can make to helping Cuba recover
17:07:20 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
Are you talking about the S. African variant?
17:13:10 From Barbara Larcom to Hosts and panelists:
What do you think of Medea Benjamin's explanation, that people began to realize (between July and November) that while they may have some issues with the government, they also realized that a huge protest would only be damaging to their long-term prospects, because the government was their best option (compared to the opposition alternatives)?
17:16:31 From Rita McNiff to Michael J. Good and all panelists:
Michael, I, myself am receiving groups from mid-January on and mainly due to the prohibitive flight pricing beforehand. February I feel will be good …bar anything happening with COVID worldwide. Havanatur is anxious and ready to receive clients now.
17:17:06 From Michael J. Good to Everyone:
thank you rita
17:19:45 From Tomas Moran to Everyone:
As a Cuban American who — for 60 years — has watched our inability to send money to our relatives like people here do to most other countries in the world, Biden’s position in going back on his promise is particularly grating. You seem to accept that nothing is possible to change this. Is there in fact any organized group trying to get more co-signers to the “Dear Colleague” letter, and how can I get a hold of that group? [WOLA has a draft script posted J McA]
17:20:07 From Merriam Ansara to Hosts and panelists:
also, would you again. urge people to urge their Rep to sign the Dear Colleague letter? New deadline is Dec 3. I posted to you link to the letter with the 55 signers to date
17:21:58 From Thomas Hansen to Hosts and panelists:
Ed, you are too young to know firsthand the economic situation in the early 90s. I know from personal experience it was much worse than today.
17:24:07 From Ed Augustin to Hosts and panelists:
Thomas - you’re right that I didn’t live through the special period. Too young. But I agree with you that the hardship of the special period was much more pronounced than today.
17:32:22 From Merriam Ansara to Everyone:
Rafael, hurray for that news!!@
17:32:52 From Gretchen Wahl to Hosts and panelists:
Thanks for some good news, Rafael!
17:33:19 From Geoff Thale to Hosts and panelists:
Thanks all, have to go. Very helpful discussion.
17:33:29 From Merriam Ansara to Hosts and panelists:
I can really appreciate that news. I'm arriving Jan 7. look forward to seeing you
17:36:22 From Andrea Holbrook to Hosts and panelists:
John, thank you for organizing this panel. Thank you to your speakers. This was really excellent.
17:36:28 From Michael J. Good to Everyone:
enviromental policies around the Caged Bird Trade are seriously damaging the ecotourism markets... can the government change laws to stop this destructive policy of the Caged Bird Trade to ecotourism.
17:36:33 From sarah arizaga to Hosts and panelists:
Thank you for the answers to the questions. And for all the very enlightening perspectives of the panelists.
17:46:45 From Christopher Baker to Hosts and panelists:
YES, YES, YES, and YES!
17:46:50 From Gonzalo Lopez to Hosts and panelists:
Thank you all. Thank you Rita for the specific answers.
17:48:33 From sarah arizaga to Hosts and panelists:
I would love for people to take a stand against the hotel rules for the sake of disabled travelers. It is very hard to visit when you cannot stay in hotels. I consider it unfair discrimination. [Can you get disability organizations to hammer the White House and State Department about this excellent point? J McA]
17:48:43 From Christopher Baker to Hosts and panelists:
Rita... please explain about the electronic card payments in stores, etc.
17:50:12 From Liliana De Cespedes to Hosts and panelists:
Absolutely agree Bill. The US government needs to stop being influenced by the powerful force that is the Cuban American US population. Diplomacy and realistic negotiations between the country is the way forward. It had a definite impact during the Obama administration.
17:51:14 From Christopher Baker to Hosts and panelists:]
There are four locations now in Havana for PCR/antigen tests
17:53:18 From sarah arizaga to Hosts and panelists:
can only stay at Quinta Avenida in Havana as US citizen
17:55:16 From Christopher Baker to Hosts and panelists:
Much cheaper flights direct from New York on JetBlue than if you fly from Tampa
17:57:43 From Michael J. Good to Everyone:
thank you so much everyone... this was enlightening...are you planning more in the future??
[We will do another webinar in January unless something changes sooner. J McA]
17:58:35 From Elena Espinosa to Hosts and panelists:
thank you for all your support for the Cuban people :-)
17:58:52 From Peter Kornbluh to Hosts and panelists:
thanks John, and Rita and Bill and Ed and Rafael.
17:58:56 From Rita McNiff to sarah arizaga and all panelists:
Christopher, the antigen test is only available at the airport and the Siboney clinic as of right now
17:59:32 From Rita McNiff to sarah arizaga and all panelists:
Sarah unfortunately the Quinta Avenida is no longer legal
17:59:37 From Donna Kross to Hosts and panelists:
Muchas gracias for this important information!
17:59:57 From Thomas Hansen to Hosts and panelists:
18:00:05 From Vannetta Perry to Hosts and panelists:
Fantastic forum! Thank you so very much! I plan to return to Cuba soon and this is so helpful!
18:00:08 From Rita McNiff to sarah arizaga and all panelists:
I agree with you about the disabled access. If you ever need help in that respect please do not hesitate to reach out I have options