Rui Ferreira

Rui Ferreira

Mi padre era actor y mi abuelo general. Una mezcla lo suficientemente explosiva como para generar un tipo que solo hace preguntas, no le gusta las respuestas a medias, y refleja todo eso en la mejor profesión del mundo. Por lo demás, me gusta viajar y fotografiar. A veces eso da plata, otras veces solo entretiene. Pero siempre vale la pena. Por lo que queda, dejémonos de pretensiones.

Photo: Kaloian.

Cubans in Miami don’t protest, but tickets are sold out

When on January 10 the Trump administration decided to reduce direct charter flights from the United States to nine Cuban airports, leaving just Havana as a gateway, thousands of Cubans protested throughout the United States. But in silence. Not raising a ruckus. The protests were not like at other times when the community has been affected by something that deeply concerns them. In Miami, nobody took to the streets to protest this enormous harm to family communication; the media also did not echo the dissatisfaction. The same happened in October when the administration imposed the same measure for U.S. airlines’ commercial flights. The Cubans protested, essentially, in the offices of the companies that rent the airplanes, which, of course, can do nothing. “People have come to protest here and are anxious about what will happen. They are booking in bulk for flights before March 10 (when the closure begins) because no one knows what the future holds in store,” explains Marisol Rodríguez, director of the Marazul company, which flies about 18 times a day to the island. But no one has taken to the streets or concentrated in front of the offices of Cuban-American politicians who support this type of...

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images.

U.S. suspends charter flights to Cuba, except to Havana

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that all charter flights from the United States to the interior of Cuba will be suspended “until further notice.” The Havana route is barely covered, as happened last year with commercial flights by U.S. airlines. The new measure affects nine airports on the island. It is not clear whether the bilateral civil aviation agreement, signed in 2016, will remain in force or will be canceled. The new restriction will begin on March 10. A cap on charter flights will also be established, to be defined in the coming weeks. As indicated in a press release by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo citing the existence of a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, the objective is to “strengthen the impact of the administration's policy of economically pressuring the Cuban regime” in areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms due to Cuban support to the Venezuelan government. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba-usa/u-s-to-suspend-flights-to-cuba-except-havana/ Cuba’s reaction was almost immediate. “I strongly reject new ban by #US government on charter flights to #Cuba except# Havana and restriction on their number. It is a serious violation of human rights, Americans’ freedom to travel and hinders family reunification. #CubaVSBloqueo,” Cuban Foreign Minister...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

2019, the “annus horribilis” for Cuba-U.S. relations

The year 2019 is considered by many analysts as the worst between Cuba and the United States in the last three years. The State Department has even admitted that it has no great interest in improving relations as long as the island does not introduce reforms and puts a stop to its alliance with the Caracas government. When relations between the two countries were reestablished on December 17, 2014, and on March 20, 2016, President Barack Obama landed at Havana’s airport, many supporters of bilateral relations felt that there was no rolling back that thaw, which was a fait accompli. What nobody anticipated was that a New York real estate entrepreneur named Donald John Trump was going to get in the way of the fate of the two countries. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s statements about Cuba were conflicting. He swayed a great deal, like a pendulum. He started by saying that he wanted a better deal with Cuba than the one negotiated by Obama. Then he said he didn't want any deal, he flirted with the total diplomatic cut and ended up saying that maybe “we can talk with the Cubans because I’m the best negotiator in the...

Eusebio Leal shows the king and queen of Spain the untouched throne at the Palace of the Captains General. Photo: EFE

Eusebio, how did you do it?

It was 1979. Eusebio Leal was leaning on the southeast wall of the Palace of the Captains General in Old Havana, looking up at the sky. It was a sunny day, there were no signs of rain but Eusebio always looks up as if looking for some kind of inspiration. Never, in all these years, have I spoken to him about this curious detail. Norma and I were walking through the square when we spotted him. Eusebio was, as his friend García Márquez said, a being who levitated without realizing it because he was not interested. At that time, he was interested in two things: teaching and recovering. And when we met him that’s what we got, a lesson. “Are you students?” Of course. “That’s great….” The phrase stayed in the air and as I was a fan of the “Andar La Habana” (A Walk through Havana) program, I couldn't think of anything other than asking where those stones he was leaning on came from. We had to ask him something, didn’t we? What followed was a university lecture. He explained that many came from quarries on the island, others from Spain, some marbles from Europe but, most importantly, that...

Image: Medicoinc / Archive.

Two Cubans who swindled public health system condemned in Miami

The Pichardos are daring people. Two decades ago they crossed the Straits of Florida on a raft. And in Miami they swindled 38 million dollars from Medicare for six years. But they were caught. This Monday it was reported that a federal judge in Miami sentenced Rodolfo Pichardo, 71, to a 15-year prison sentence, and his wife, Marta Pichardo, 66, to 8 years in prison. Between 2010 and 2016 both created six home healthcare agencies, three health personnel firms and two pharmacies, with which they devised a scheme to charge the federal government for subsidized medical services that were never provided. Although the couple pleaded guilty, the judge had no mercy and the man received the maximum possible penalty for his crime. The scheme is simple. They recruit people who receive subsidized medical services, pay them to sign the sworn statements that they have received treatment and send the bill to the government. In this case, the scam was a bit more sophisticated, because it was extended to medicines and for that they created the two pharmacies. The Pichardos have not been the only ones to defraud the government in this way. In fact, federal authorities have been constantly saying...

Cuban immigrants on the border between Mexico and the United States. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

United States has deported 1,179 Cubans in 2019

During this year that is coming to an end the amount of deportations of Cubans, who until a couple of years ago enjoyed a privileged entry to the United States, has been the largest. According to the latest figures from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), some 1,179 Cubans were deported to their home country, under a bilateral agreement signed in the last days of the Barack Obama administration. This figure represents more than double of that of last year when deportations reached 463 and in 2017 they were barely 160. That is, in the last two years, deportations registered an increase of 600%. For the director of ICE, Mattew T. Albence, the rocketing of deportations is due to the bilateral agreement of 2017, which also eliminated the wet foot-dry foot policy. At a press conference, the official said that now they can deport Cubans, that’s why this increase can be seen. And he added that Cuba did not accept them before but now they are collaborating with then by providing travel documents. “It is obvious that the Trump administration is considering Cubans as immigrants without special conditions and is applying his deportation policy to the letter,” lawyer...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Could diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States be broken?

Last Monday the director of Cuban diplomacy toward the United States, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, affirmed that if the United States decides to break diplomatic relations with the island, Havana is prepared for that possibility. “We’re not going to lose sleep,” he said. “I don't think relations will be broken. Frankly, I don't know if they will be. I do know that there is a group of powerful people who have that intention,” said the director for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry. “But what Cuba cannot do is be surprised by that reality, if it happens.” Now the question, several analysts bring up, is whether something like this will happen in the midst of the deterioration of the links in response to the revival in April of the Helms-Burton Act and the barrage of restrictions that followed, such as suspension, “until further notice,” of commercial flights to the Cuban provinces and the elimination of cruises. For now, the Donald Trump administration has reacted with utmost discretion. Neither the White House nor the State Department has wanted to comment openly on what was raised by the Cuban official. Only on Tuesday, an official related to U.S. policy towards...

Image of the first demonstration in Miami against the cancellation of the family reunification program, held in 2018. Photo: Twitter / Archive.

Tension heightens in Cuban Miami due to cancellation of family reunification program

The feeling of rejection over the Trump administration’s suspension of the family reunification program for Cubans has been increasing within the Cuban-American community, frustrated by broken promises. The reunification program, known as “parole,” implied that Cubans who had applied to reunite with their relatives in the United States had priority at the time of receiving the permit, without waiting for the virtual line that takes years and includes other nationalities. In addition to the painful prospect of spending years without seeing their relatives, many of the affected complain that immigration officials charged them in advance for the service, but later they suspended the program and they haven’t even been reimbursed. “The problem here is the silence. The government suspended the program but didn’t give back the money, which was quite a lot. People are upset with this, but the worst thing is the silence. There is no explanation from immigration or the secretary of state and, in return, all they offer is rejection. Even for us,” explains to OnCuba Jorge Benavides, a Cuban-American immigration lawyer. The official position of the immigration services is that the program is “under review,” but it’s been like that since it was suspended in 2017,...

List announcing flights to Cuba at Miami International Airport. Photo: EFE / Archive.

Miami airport with high passenger to Cuba index despite flight restrictions

U.S. airlines may no longer be traveling to the interior of Cuba, but despite this, the movement of passengers at the Miami airport does not seem to have decreased. Charter flights have now occupied that market niche and have filled that need with the increase in the number of flights. “We are responding to the need of the public who on these holidays, as on previous ones, travels en masse to Cuba. From here to the end of the year all flights have been sold out,” Mireya León, flight dispatcher of one of the charter companies, told OnCuba. And the source explains that they have even sold in advance the seats that are usually set aside for passengers with last-minute emergencies. Since commercial flights to Cuba opened in mid-2016, charter companies suffered a downturn, difficult to quantify because they don’t report detailed figures, and lost customers because U.S. airlines lowered prices in many cases by more than 50%. Although the ticket prices for Christmas tend to increase due to the high season, even with the absence of commercial flights to the interior of the island, the trip for many Cubans living in South Florida was made more bearable. “I started...

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking at the University of Louisville, Ky., on Monday, December 2, 2019. Photo: Timothy D. Easley / AP.

U.S. accuses Cuba of “hijacking” protests in Latin America and applies more sanctions

Hours before leaving for London for the 70th anniversary ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Cuba of trying to “hijack” the public protests of recent weeks in Chile and Bolivia to include them in their ideological orbit. And hours after arriving in the British capital, the Trump administration announced a new package of sanctions against a group of oil tankers transporting crude from Venezuela to the island. “In just the last few years, we’ve seen some truly remarkable things.  Many nations have made a sharp turn towards democracy and capitalism, good government, away from dictatorship and socialism and the corruption that has been endemic in some of those countries. You see this just in the past few weeks. The Bolivians are rebuilding their democracy even as we sit here today.  No one in the region any longer believes that authoritarianism is the way forward, that it’s the right path, whether you stare at the people in Cuba or in Nicaragua or in Venezuela,” said the secretary of state in a speech at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. Pompeo said the United States assumes the “moral and strategic” responsibility of making it appear...

Image of the Portuguese Parliament. Photo: Assembleia da República.

Portuguese Parliament closes friendship with Cuba parliamentary group

The Foreign Relations Commission of the Portuguese parliament has taken Cuba out of the list of parliamentary groups of friendship with Portugal, a gesture described as “unusual” and that will be appealed by the communist MPs. The decision was made behind closed doors, without it being included in the work agenda and without the presence of the communist MPs, one of which chairs the Portugal-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group. According to Sergio Sousa Pinto, chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission and deputy of the ruling Socialist Party, the exclusion is due to the fact that the Cuban parliament “isn’t democratic” nor does it have “a multi-party parliamentary election,” two “mandatory” requirements to maintain friendship relations with its Portuguese colleagues. However, the Parliamentary Group of Friendship with Cuba is one of the oldest formed in the Portuguese parliament: it exists since 1977, when it was created at the beginning of the first legislature on the advent of the country’s democracy after 48 years of dictatorship The Friendship group is chaired by communist MP Antonio Felipe and is made up of, among others, his colleague Joao Oliveira, who reported in a press release that the communist MPs were not summoned to the meeting...

Photo: Marita Pérez.

The juice war in Miami

Fruit shops are one of the most popular establishments in Miami. There you can buy all kinds of imported fruits from the most diverse places on the planet. They serve monumental juices that put anyone's sugar levels at risk but they don't stop being consumed by liters. In recent years they have been accompanied by popular Latino food, desserts of all types and they have created an environment for family recreation. Almost all of them are initiatives of Cuban immigrants who saw in it a commercial goldmine enhanced by quality and variety and are already an indelible part of the city whose inhabitants appreciate them. “We come every week, it's a cheap place where you eat healthy food. It is easier for them to choose the fruits for us, propose juices and it is a place to have a social life and not being locked up at home,” explains Joselino Gutiérrez, a Cuban who almost always goes to one of the establishments of the Palacio de los Jugos. A customer is served in the hot food section of the Palacio de los Jugos. Photo: Rui Ferreira. The fruit shops are scattered throughout the city, there’s one...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. Photo: EFE / EPA / OLIVIER HOSLET

Mike Pompeo defends U.S. diplomats in Havana

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a passionate defense of the highest U.S. diplomat in Havana after the Cuban government accused her of interfering in the country's internal affairs by meeting with opponents. “Our Chargé d’Affaires and her team at the U.S. Embassy in Havana remain steadfast as they carry out the President’s mission to defend human rights and advance the cause of democracy in Cuba,” said the secretary of state in a press release referring to recent criticism of Chargé d’Affaires Mara Tekach. According to Pompeo, the Cuban government “has launched these baseless allegations against her in an attempt to distract the international community from its abysmal treatment of the Cuban people, especially the ongoing arbitrary detention of dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer.” In his opinion, the Cuban ambassador to Washington, José Ramón Cabañas, “enjoys freedom of expression here in the United States and uses it to publicly criticize our government.  We only wish other Cuban citizens, including the over 100 other political prisoners currently incarcerated by the Cuban regime and the hundreds of other dissidents subject to official harassment, could enjoy that same right to freedom of expression and the ability to criticize their own government in Cuba, as...

View of the Miami-Dade Commission. Photo: Miami-dade.gov

Miami-Dade councilors vote against family reunification for Cubans

Miami-Dade County Commissioners reverted to U.S. foreign policy, a federal exclusive, but this time against the aspirations of many of its neighbors, by rejecting a proposal to urge Washington to restore the family reunification program for Cubans. In a rather unusual vote, Democrats and Republicans agreed to vote against a proposal presented by federal Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Murcasel-Powell, presented through Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. The Democrats have a slight majority in the commission but all their commissioners are not of Cuban origin. When they began to see the rejection of the Republicans, surprisingly even Levine Cava ended up withdrawing the proposal. The commissioner argued that this is an issue that has to do with the importance of the family, with the need to reunify the families that have sought refuge after escaping the Cuban communist regime. But Republican Esteban Bovo, a strong follower of President Donald Trump, argued that a request of that nature represented “a slap” to Washington's policy and should be rejected. The 13 commissioners engaged in a quick discussion that ended up leading to nothing, but it made it clear that they still think they have something to say in terms of foreign policy. Last July the...

The ICE correction center in Cibola County, New Mexico, where the Cubans are isolated. Photo: ICE

More Cubans detained by immigration in U.S. on hunger strike

The hunger strikes by Cubans who are in the process of deportation have intensified in recent days. This time they are about 12 Cubans who are confined in the Cibola County Correction Center, in the city of Milan, New Mexico. The reason for the strike is that their requests for political asylum have been denied and the authorities have included them in a process for their deportation to the island. As a result of this strike, two of them told local media, the prison authorities have put them in punishment cells isolated from the rest of the prison population. “We are not criminals but they keep us prisoners. We are threatened with death if they take us back to our country, they will have to bury us here, they will have to cremate us here,” said Cuban Juan Carlos Peña Pavón, 51, who is being held in the Cibola center after passing nine days in an isolation cell. Peña Pavón is part of a group that has starred in similar protests in another prison, in the city of Chaparral in the same state, and even two of his cellmates have attempted suicide, the newspaper The New Mexican reported. Although the...

Mérida airport. Photo: sipse.com

Prices to Cuba have gone up because of the season, not because of the restrictions

The reduction of flights between the United States and Cuba resulted in airlines from other countries starting to meet those needs mainly focused on the Cuban community in South Florida eager to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with their families. But it is also a kind of return to the origins when flying to Cuba was more difficult, there were barely no charter flights, and many passengers made fun of the restrictions by traveling through third countries, almost always Mexico, Bahamas or Canada. Several employees of travel agencies in Miami have confirmed to OnCuba that they have started seeing an increase in flight reservations to the island in this now recovered modality. “People are now flying through a Mexican airline that has opened a daily flight from Mérida (in the state of Yucatán, near the western coast of Cuba) to Havana that is cheaper. It takes a little time because they have to travel to Mexico, but it really isn't that much. The process can take about three hours between flights and the stopover at the airport,” explains María González, an agency employee. The Mexican airline is Interjet, which until two weeks ago had two weekly flights between Mérida...

Photo: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis / AP.

Trump cuts cultural funds to Cuba that were never used

The Donald Trump administration decided to cut federal funds that are used, among other things, in cultural exchange programs that the government promotes abroad. Cuba is on the list of those “affected.” In an ordinance published in the Federal Register, Trump justifies the decision because the countries included in this sanction have not met the minimum standards for the elimination of the trafficking in persons, and during fiscal year 2020, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Syria will not receive a penny for cultural exchange programs. The document emphasizes that the United States “will not provide non-humanitarian, nontrade-related assistance to, or allow funding for participation in educational and cultural exchange programs by officials or employees of the governments of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Russia, and Syria” for fiscal year 2020.  The announcement coincides with the cut of about 897 million dollars that the administration made to the federal budgets related to arts and humanities, public television and radio, libraries and museums. Some of these cuts have political connotations, because since the 2016 election campaign, the then candidate had been advocating he would cut federal funds in that sector. And since then it has been like this and...

Photo: AP.

Cubans’ revolt increases in U.S. immigration prisons

The revolt of Cubans confined in immigration prisons in the United States is dragging on. At least three detainees have tried to commit suicide to protest a long confinement awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge to hear their requests for political asylum. In addition, 19 other Cubans have threatened to do the same, immigration lawyers said. The protests also expanded to physical demonstrations such as sit-downs in prison facilities, all this in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prison in Chaparral, in Otero County, New Mexico, lawyers and immigration activists in the area reported. The suicide attempts occurred last week but were only reported this Friday. According to the Albuquerque Journal, at least two of the Cubans tried to commit suicide by cutting their wrists with plastic ID cards. In an unusual gesture, ICE confirmed the incidents in a statement and revealed that everyone involved received immediate medical care. “The fact that I have made this dramatic decision to cut my wrists must be worrisome. I am not like this. I just need to get out of this prison and see myself in a situation where I can be treated with more humanity,” said Iosnaiqui Acosta, 32, in a...

When Cubans arrived in New York to stay, for better or worse

Sugar, Cigars and Revolution, the Making of Cuban New York (New York University Press, 2018) is the latest work of Professor Lisandro Pérez, founder of the Cuban Research Institute of Florida International University and currently a professor of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of the City University of New York. This year he received an Honorary Mention in the Casa de las Américas Award in the category of Studies on Latinos in the United States. The author does not deny that his work is an elitist book because instead of emphasizing the popular, it concentrates on demonstrating that it was the aristocracy that settled, opened paths and consolidated the Cubans in New York. Félix Varela was the first, José Martí is perhaps the best known Cuban in what was beginning to be the city of high-rise buildings. Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez also passed through there. But those who really left a mark were the families of the sugar aristocracy. The Aldamas, the Moras, the Alfonsos, the Acostas, the Jovás, whose imprint, despite the ruin of some, lasted far beyond sugar imports and industrial development. It is an easy to read book, even if it has...

Photo: Bettmann / Getty Images.

The Watergate Cubans

These days there is much talk about Watergate, the great scandal of the 1970s that set standards in journalism and politics, and ended the public life of Richard Nixon. All because of the serious credibility crisis that his successor, Donald Trump, is going through, which is a good opportunity to talk about the Watergate Cubans. Because they existed. Cubans are involved in everything. Two decades ago I met Eugenio Martínez, better known in Miami as "Musculito" for that habit he had (which he can no longer do now) of devoting himself to weightlifting in the gyms in the free time from his work for the CIA. Sitting at the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Martínez eloquently said: "Nobody here has asked why there were Cubans in Watergate." Well? "Because we wanted to find a connection of the Democrats with Fidel Castro," he replied. Well, I told myself, there also always has to be a Fidel involved in everything. But the truth is that it was Richard Nixon who was concerned with that connection, because his re-election against the Democrat George McGovern was being disputed and he organized the entire conspiracy of the assault on the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate...

The then Cuban President Raúl Castro arriving at the 70th session of the UN National Assembly in New York on January 28, 2016. Photo: Jason DeCrow/AP/Archive.

Washington sanctions Raúl Castro for Venezuelan political situation

The U.S. government has applied sanctions to former Cuban President Raúl Castro, which include denying visas to him and his relatives. "The Department (of State) publicly designates (as sanctioned) Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz...for his involvement in gross violations of human rights," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a statement from NY. https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/1177259320901132289?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1177259320901132289&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba-ee-uu%2Fwashington-sanciona-a-raul-castro-por-la-situacion-politica-venezolana%2F A short while before this, the State Department delivered a press availability, which OnCuba partially attended, where it was reported that the sanctions include the denial of visas to travel to the United States, except for United Nations meetings in New York, and his close relatives are included. Pompeo's statement mentions by name the children of the former Cuban President, Alejandro, Deborah, Mariela and Nilsa Castro Espin and states that it is due to a compulsory paragraph (c) in law 7031, which was applied in this case, but, curiously, the measure does not affect either the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, or Castro’s former son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López Callejas, director of GAESA, a conglomerate under military administration. The U.S. secretary of state said that as the first secretary of the Cuban communist party, Raúl Castro oversees a system that arbitrarily arrests thousands of Cubans and currently...

In November 2016, American Airlines inaugurated its regular commercial flight at José Martí International Airport. Photo: EFE

Two airlines with regular flights to Havana sued in Miami

A Spanish-American of Cuban origin this Wednesday sued in a Miami court two airlines that regularly fly to Havana, the U.S. American Airlines and the Brazilian-Chilean LATAM. The plaintiff, José Ramón López Regueiro, is the son of the late José López Villaboy, a spokesman for the Fulgencio Batista regime who owned the Havana airport and several airlines that were nationalized in the early 1960s. The lawsuit comes in light of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act that was suspended since it was enacted in 1996, until in April President Donald Trump lifted the ban and authorized lawsuits against foreign entities "trafficking" with properties that were nationalized.  As OnCuba advanced last week, it was expected that all the airlines flying to the Cuban capital would be sued but the fact that so far there have only been two has come as a surprise. "This really surprised me. I thought they were going to start with Spanish airlines, such as Iberia or Air Europa, since the plaintiff is Spanish. But in general it is something that was already expected," the president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, John Kavulich, told OnCuba. José Ramón López Regueiro speaking during...

Yunier García Duarte. Photo taken from Facebook.

Cuban stowaway granted political asylum in the United States

An immigration judge this Tuesday granted political asylum to the Cuban stowaway who arrived in Miami last month hidden in the cargo compartment of a flight from Havana. However, for the time being, Yunier García Duarte, 26, will be detained pending an appeal process by the U.S. federal prosecutor, judicial sources confirmed to OnCuba. Moments after the news came out, the young stowaway’s defense lawyer, Willy Allen, told local media that he will try to get García Duarte out of immigration custody while the appeal process continues. For now, he explained, the possibility of his conditional release, with which he would be reunited with his relatives who reside in South Florida, will have to be studied with the immigration officials who are seeing his case. https://oncubanews.com/cuba-ee-uu/un-cubano-llega-a-miami-en-la-barriga-de-un-avion/ The asylum was requested a little over 10 days ago before an immigration judge, indicating that he feared for his future if he was returned to the island, since García Duarte worked in a sensitive area of ​​the Havana airport with direct access to the aircrafts’ cargo holds. At first, the case was difficult for the young stowaway, who left a daughter on the island, because the federal government accused him of violating air...

Photo: Getty Image.

All airlines flying to Cuba could be sued in U.S.

Not only U.S. airlines are threatened by the Helms-Burton Act for making use of airport facilities that were nationalized in Cuba at the beginning of the 1960s. Other airlines that use Havana’s José Martí airport are also threatened. Although there are still no lawsuits against the airlines, OnCuba learned that a law firm in Miami is preparing to accuse five U.S. airlines and 46 from other countries for what the Helms-Burton describes as "trafficking with confiscated properties." So far, the details circulating in judicial circles in South Florida are few, but they point to the claim for compensation for the use of airport facilities and not for their return, which would otherwise be unfeasible. However, the ramifications of such a lawsuit could cover foreign airlines’ interests in the United States since they mostly have daily flights, even several times, to various airports in the United States. We are speaking of companies such as the Spanish Air Europa, Iberia and its parent British Airways; Air China, Air France and Lufthansa, Russia's Aeroflot, Air Canada, Alitalia, Colombia's Avianca, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and United; Swiss Air, Panama’s Copa Airlines and many others. But there are also studies to include in...

National Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: conectacuba.com

Helms-Burton Act also covers works of art and other properties

There is a perception that the Helms-Burton Act, whose full application was activated months ago by the Donald Trump government, concerns only real estate or businesses nationalized in Cuba at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. Nothing further from reality. The law barely makes two exceptions: property currently occupied as family residences or in the hands of a diplomatic mission cannot be claimed. But nothing more, because the law, except for these two cases, does not specify anything else or makes a precise definition of the concept of ownership. It barely says that a property subject to compensation claim had to be worth 50,000 dollars or more at the time of nationalization. This opens the possibility to many interpretations because "property" is all that belonged to someone and on the Caribbean island in the early 1960s the State nationalized a series of properties that are not necessarily real estate. Also objects such as works of art, for example. Some of which are part of several art museums’ collections. After the application of Title III of the law was unfrozen by the Trump administration, doubts about what would happen to the works of art, paintings, sculptures, objects or engravings by important...

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