Saturday, June 17, 2017

Así comienza el día...

At 9:42 a.m. yesterday almost 4 hours before President Donald Trump took the stage in Miami's Little Havana a good friend of mine got this cancellation for her BnB across the waters in Old Havana. 

Tell me again how the new Trump-Rubio-Díaz-Balart measures will help Cuba's cuentapropistas?

Join me on a completely legal group P2P trip to the new #Cuba!

Dear friends,

If you want to know my take on the new Trump Cuba regulations you can check out my Facebook or Twitter timeline (@elyuma).

However, after reviewing those new regulations I realize that he and Marco Rubio just threw some new business my way!

I was already scheduled to be the on-board educator for a 10-day people-to-people educational and cultural cruise to Cuba in late December. The Trump policy ratifies the basic legality of those trips, so contact me if you want to join.


Additionally, I'm scheduled to lead a group people-to-people tour to Cuba in early January. We currently have 6 travelers but given the fact that by then individual people-to-people travel will be outlawed, I realize we may get a surge of interest in joining our fully legal group visit.

So contact me if you're interested in joining me and our other happy travelers. 


Rest assured that every effort will be made to spend our hard earned currency in private sector establishments (including private BnBs and paladar restaurants) which has been my policy for > 20 years now. 

¡Que vivan los cuentapropistas!

Friday, June 16, 2017

CubaOne Statement on President Trump’s Cuba Policy

CubaOne Foundation: President Trump's Cuba Policy is Largely Consistent with Our Recommendations


MIAMI—Earlier this week, the CubaOne Foundation, the Miami-based nonprofit that sponsors heritage visits to Cuba for young Cuban Americans, sent President Trump and his National Security Council a letter urging him to pursue a pro-family Cuba policy. Our letter made six key recommendations:

  1. Promote America's Commitment to Human Rights

  2. Affirm the Rights of Cuban-Americans to Visit and Help Family in Cuba

  3. Encourage U.S. Travelers to Support Cuba's Private Sector

  4. Engage the Cuban Government to Lower its Passport and Visa Fees

  5. Maintain the U.S. Embassy in Havana

  6. Support Cuba's Entrepreneurs, Youth, and Access to Technology

We look forward to seeing the final details of the President's policy, but our initial assessment is that it is largely consistent with our recommendations to the White House.

We thank the President for recognizing the rights of Cuban Americans to freely visit and send remittances to their families. This is a strong victory for the Cuban American community, the Cuban people, and our organization.

We were also encouraged to learn that Americans can continue traveling to Cuba individually so long as they stay in Cuban family homes and directly support the private sector. While it remains to be seen how the regulations are written, this general approach would be welcomed news for the island's young entrepreneurs and small businesses if it does not prevent Americans from visiting the island. As we said in our letter to the President, kitchen table diplomacy works and there are no better ambassadors for our values than the American people.

We also applaud the President's decision to maintain our diplomatic mission in Havana. The U.S. will continue to be better positioned to advocate its values and engage Cuba on important issues, such as human rights and lowering passport fees that penalize low-income families.  We're also encouraged by the White House's indication that U.S. technology and telecommunication companies may continue supporting the Cuban people's access to information and the internet.

CubaOne remains committed to working closely with the Administration and members from both parties on U.S.-Cuba policy. For us, Cuba is an issue where there is no such thing as political parties—it's about our families, our community, and the Cuban people.


Giancarlo Sopo | Chairman
M: 1.917.244.4107

CubaOne Foundation |

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cuban women entrepreneurs urge Ivanka Trump to lobby on their behalf

Ms. Ivanka Trump,

First Daughter and Assistant to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

June 13, 2017

Dear Ms. Trump:

Your passion to help female entrepreneurship around the world has been very inspiring for Cuban entrepreneurs. As women entrepreneurs in Cuba, it is a great honor to send you this message. We are reaching out to introduce you to our reality and to strengthen the relationship between our countries. We also write to you with great concern U.S. policy toward Cuba might be headed backward, in turn threatening our economic livelihoods and the overall well-being of Cubans on and off the island.

For many years, entrepreneurship, small businesses, and the private sector were almost nonexistent in Cuba. However, over the last several years they have begun to flourish. Still incipient, we can see accelerated development and growth of small businesses in the country. Millions of Cubans have benefited from this private sector growth, including higher wages, better quality products and services, innovation, and the ability to dream about the future.

Undoubtedly, the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States has been key to the success of the private sector. Many businesses have been directly influenced by increased U.S. visits, improved telecommunications, and the introduction of new U.S. products and services. Other businesses have also been stimulated indirectly by the resuscitation of the domestic economy in general. A setback in the relationship would bring with it the fall of many of our businesses and with this, the suffering of all those families that depend on them.

Much of the growth has been led by Cuban women. There are hundreds of thousands of Cuban women working in the private sector. Today we are owners of boutique hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, and shops. We are designers, photographers, and computer programmers, and much more. On behalf of Cuba’s female entrepreneurs, we ask for your support.

We hope you, as a successful businesswoman, understand the valuable contribution that the exchange of trade, people, and ideas represents for our businesses. An alliance between women would not only contribute to the stability of the private sector, but would also open a new chapter in relations between our countries.

We would like you to accept our sincere and warm invitation. Come to Cuba and get to know our companies, which we have built with our own efforts and that make us prouder by the day. Please support travel, trade, and exchanges between our two countries.

Thank you for your interest and dedication to women. Thank you for building bridges worldwide. We really appreciate your help in shaping a better future for our daughters.


Monday, June 12, 2017

An Open Letter to the President of the United States From Young Cuban Americans

An Open Letter to the President of the United States From Young Cuban Americans
June 12, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President: Since our founding, the CubaOne Foundation has worked to inspire a new generation of Americans to reconnect with their heritage, family, and peers in Cuba. Over 2,000 millennials from across the country and all walks of life have applied to our program, which many have described as “life-changing.” We have seen young Cuban Americans hug their grandparents for the first time, explore their heritage, develop friendships with Cuba’s youth, and return to share these deeply moving experiences with their loved ones and communities here in the United States.

Today we are among the largest Cuban American organizations in the country. While much of our efforts would not be possible without the policy changes that began on December 17, 2014, our work transcends Washington’s politics, administrations, and political parties. We are willing to work with any administration. As the children and grandchildren of political prisoners, Pedro Pan refugees, Bay of Pigs veterans, and people who fled Cuba on the Mariel boatlift, we understand the pain of exile and the importance of human rights.

As a presidential candidate, you said that you would pursue “a better deal” with Cuba. To the majority of Americans and our Cuban American community, a “better deal” means advancing U.S. interests and improving the quality of life of the Cuban people, not returning to Cold War policies. In advance of your upcoming visit to Miami, we respectfully ask that you consider our recommendations which represent the views of the majority of Americans, Cuban Americans, and Cubans on the island:

1. A PRO-FAMILY POLICY PLACES AMERICA FIRST AND PRIORITIZES HUMAN RIGHTS. The North Star of your Cuba policy should be advancing U.S. interests and the wellbeing of the Cuban people. To this end, we encourage you to pursue a pro-family policy of principled engagement. We also strongly support our U.S. diplomats working with their Cuban counterparts to address a variety of issues, including upholding America’s longstanding commitment to human rights around the world.

2. AFFIRM THE RIGHT OF CUBAN AMERICANS TO VISIT AND HELP OUR FAMILIES. Until 2009, Cuban Americans were only allowed to visit the island once every three years. Returning to similar travel regulations would be counterproductive, cruel, and do nothing to improve human rights. No one should ever have to choose between visiting an ailing relative at their bedside or attending their funeral. We strongly urge you to reject these misguided recommendations that disproportionately penalize Cuban American families.

3. ENCOURAGE U.S. TRAVELERS TO SUPPORT CUBA’S PRIVATE SECTOR. Thousands of Americans are visiting Cuba and fueling the fastest growth in its private sector since 1959. Rather than burdening Americans with government regulations that make it harder to visit the island, your Administration should encourage U.S. travelers to stay in Cuban family homes, support privately-owned small businesses, and go beyond the beaten tourist path. We would gladly work with you on developing such an initiative, as this is how we plan our visits to Cuba. Americans are the best ambassadors of our nation’s values, and we should want more of our people engaging and supporting broader cross-sections of Cuban society. Kitchen table diplomacy works, and we should encourage it.

4. ENGAGE THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT TO LOWER FEES ON TRAVELERS TO CUBA. We hope that your Administration will encourage its Cuban counterparts to ease the hardships posed by high fees on Cuban passports and entry visas, which disproportionately affect lower-income families and young Cuban Americans. Moreover, Cuba has indicated it might unify its dual currency system. Your Administration should support this initiative. Cuba’s 10% penalty on exchanging U.S. dollars should also be removed.

5. MAINTAIN THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN HAVANA. We have read reports that you and Secretary Tillerson have decided to continue our diplomatic mission in Havana. We commend this decision. As the dozens of young Cuban Americans who have visited their loved ones on the island through our program can attest, the U.S. Embassy is vital to American interests and has graciously hosted Cuban Americans, Cuban youth, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, and students.

6. SUPPORT CUBA’S ENTREPRENEURS, YOUTH, AND ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY. Since 2009, Cuba’s licensed private sector workforce has grown by over 300 percent, largely due to an infusion of remittances and visitors from the United States. We have been inspired by the Cuban entrepreneurs--particularly the youth--who work hard to offer better lives for their families. As a father and highly successful businessman, we are sure that you can appreciate the important role of entrepreneurs in societies and families and want to support them. To that end, we also encourage your Administration to double-down on ongoing efforts to facilitate the ability of U.S. telecommunication and technology companies to offer their services to the Cuban people.

These recommendations are actionable, would constitute a “better deal” for the United States, and reflect the views and values of the majority of the American people, Cuban Americans, and the 11 million Cubans on the island. We will always welcome an opportunity to discuss with you the importance of US-Cuba policy to our generation, our community, and our country.


CubaOne Foundation 
100 SE 3rd Ave #1514, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33394

President & CEO Daniel Jiménez

Board Giancarlo Sopo (Chairman)
Lissette Calveiro
Cherie Cancio
Andrew Jiménez

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Can we afford to lose $6.6 billion in revenue and 12k jobs?!

Thurs., June 1, 2017

CONTACT: Madeleine Russak (626) 390-2158

~ New economic impact analysis is released following reports that President Trump is set to to roll back President Obama's Cuba policies ~

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  Today, Engage Cuba led a coalition of business groups, economists and leading Cuba experts in releasing an economic impact analysis estimating that a reversal of Cuba policies would cost the U.S. economy $6.6 billion and affect 12,295 American jobs over the course of the first term of the Trump Administration. Obama Administration policies to loosen regulations on U.S. companies interested in doing business in Cuba have contributed to significant economic growth and job creation throughout the country.

The economic impact analysis was released on the heels of reports that the Trump Administration is set to roll back Obama-era Cuba policies, despite an ongoing inter-agency review that largely favors expanding travel to and trade with Cuba and concerns from U.S. military experts that reversing progress with Cuba would threaten U.S. national security interests. 

Rural communities across the country most reliant on agricultural, manufacturing, and shipping industries would be disproportionately affected by adding regulations on travel and trade to Cuba. This analysis excludes agricultural and medical exports because provisions allowing for limited exports in these sectors were authorized by Congress in 2001, thus predating Obama-era regulatory changes. However, new regulations on exporting agricultural commodities to Cuba could cost an additional $1.5 billion and affect 2,205 jobs more U.S. jobs.

Given their deep water ports and proximity to Cuba, imposing regulations on Cuba would particularly threaten economic growth and job creation in the Gulf states, including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, all of which supported President Trump in the 2016 election. 

"Our new relationship with Cuba has led to tangible results for American companies, created U.S. jobs, and strengthened Cuba's growing private sector. If President Trump rolled back our Cuba policy, he would add job-killing government regulations on U.S. businesses. This directly conflicts with President Trump's campaign promises of removing onerous regulations and red tape on U.S. businesses," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. "Reimposing restrictions on traveling to Cuba would force Americans to jump through even more bureaucratic hoops to exercise their right to travel freely."

"How sadly ironic and short-sighted it would be if, soon after singing the praises of the repressive leaders of Russia, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, President Trump were to return to a failed 55-year-old policy of sanctions and ultimatums against tiny Cuba," said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). "Rather than cave to the pressure of a dwindling minority who are stuck in the past, he should go to Cuba and speak directly with the Cuban people on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Americans who favor closer relations.  He would see that the current policy has given the Cuban people real hope for a better future, a future that is naturally linked to the United States and the American people."

"In the past two years since President Obama announced his policy of opening up to Cuba, we've seen economic exchanges, investments and jobs growth in the U.S. and in Cuba's private sector. For a jobs-focused President, to reverse these jobs creating reforms, especially one that affects many of the agricultural states that voted for him, makes little economic sense and no political sense," said Christpher Sabatini, a Latin America specialist and executive director of Global Americans. "Ending economic ties and killing U.S. jobs won't improve human rights in Cuba; continuing engagement and expanding those job opportunities--on both sides of the Florida Straits--will."

Dozens of U.S. businesses in almost every sector have begun exploring opportunities for expansion into Cuba. The four major U.S. telecommunications providers now offer roaming on the island, and Google will now allow fast and easy access to its online services.

U.S. travel to Cuba has skyrocketed. As a result, seven U.S. airlines fly direct to Cuba and three cruise lines have reached deals. American travel giants including AirBnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor now offer services in Cuba.

Since December 17, 2014, the Obama Administration issued six rounds of regulatory changes that eased travel and trade restrictions on Cuba. These policy changes have contributed to significant economic activity throughout the country, particularly in the U.S. travel, tourism and manufacturing industries. Additionally, as a result of diplomatic relations, the agreement between the U.S. and Cuba to end the policy known as "wet foot, dry foot," which granted permanent residency and federal benefits to Cubans who arrived by land to the U.S., will save U.S. taxpayers a significant amount of money and strengthen U.S. national security

Cost Summary:
Summaries of the major areas affected by potential rollback are listed below, totaling $6.6 billion and 12,295 jobs. 
  • Travel: U.S. travel to Cuba was liberalized over the past few years by expanding legal travel in 12 categories, self-authorization, and allowing both airlines and cruise lines to offer passenger service to the island. Rolling back expanded travel could cost airlines and cruise lines $3.5 billion and affect 10,154 jobs in those industries.
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing companies in the energy, chemical, and technology industries are finalizing commercial contracts that will create $929 million worth of exports from the U.S. to Cuba over the next four years. Revoking authorization for manufacturing exports would deal a blow of nearly $1 billion to American businesses and could cost up to 1,359 jobs.
  • Remittances: Estimates on U.S. remittances to Cuba show that Cubans working in the United States send up to $4 billion back to the island every year. Over four years, cutting the remittance flow could cost American money transfer companies $1.2 billion and affect 782 jobs. Additionally, the increase flow of remittances has significantly helped Cuba's growing private sector. 
  • Immigration: In January 2017, the Obama Administration and Cuba reached a deal to end the controversial "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which granted permanent residency to Cuban immigrants who arrived in the U.S. by land. Because the policy granted refugees access to federal social and healthcare entitlements, reinstating it would cost U.S. taxpayers $953 million over four years.
*Estimates do not include agricultural exports, which would bring the total to $8.1 billion USD and 14,500 jobs. 

*All estimates represent an accumulated cost over the four years of President Trump's first term. 

The full report is available here. This economic impact analysis was prepared by Engage Cuba in collaboration with:   

American Society of Travel Agents
Tomas Bilbao, Avila Strategies
Center for Democracy in the Americas
Cuba Educational Travel
Richard Feinberg, Professor, University of California San Diego
Ted Henken, Associate Professor, Baruch College
Vicki Huddleston, Former U.S. Ambassador
William Leogrande, Professor, American University
National Foreign Trade Council
Pearl Seas Cruises
Philip Peters, President, Cuba Research Center
Chris Sabatini, Executive Director, Global Americans
United States-Cuba Business Council
Washington Office on Latin America

About Engage Cuba
Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. As a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to advocacy efforts, Engage Cuba is the only organization whose focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy. Engage Cuba is also committed to supporting the Cuban people and helping organizations and businesses navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations. The organization has the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy. Together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts, Engage Cuba provides timely updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis. To get involved with Engage Cuba's mission or learn more, visit: