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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 06:22 PM
Original message
Cuban Americans (1st class US citizens/residents) filling planes to homeland
Cuban Americans filling planes to homeland

* Cuban American visits jump after restrictions lifted

* About 300,000 passengers expected in 2010

* Tighter U.S. security regulations not affecting business

By Esteban Israel

HAVANA, March 24 (Reuters) - When a recent flight from Miami touched down at Havana's Jose Marti Airport, a passenger shouted "Viva Cuba!" in a show of the enthusiasm Cuban Americans have for returning to their homeland.

Since President Barack Obama lifted restrictions last year on their visits to Cuba aiming to increase people-to-people contact, they are coming in such numbers that Cuba has had to remodel the airport terminal for U.S. flights.

The immediate beneficiaries are the eight U.S.-based charter services who operate the only flights allowed from the United States and who say business is booming.

The only foreseeable fly in the ointment, they say, is the U.S. government's inclusion of Cuba in countries where U.S.-bound passengers must undergo extra screening, which Cuba has protested.

The charter companies say direct flights by Cuban Americans to their homeland skyrocketed 70 percent in 2009 and are expected to jump another 36 percent this year.

Cuban officials recently said about 250,000 Cuban exiles visited the island from the United States in 2009 up from an estimated 170,000 the year before, when many found a way around the old restrictions by traveling through third countries.

Obama, who has said he wants better relations with Cuba, lifted restrictions imposed under President George W. Bush that limited Cuban Americans to one visit home every three years.

The result, said Armando Garcia, president of Miami-based Marazul Charters, "has been a tremendous growth and 2010 looks incredible."

"I would say we will reach 300,000 passengers just from the U.S. (this year)," he told Reuters.


Garcia and other operators said they were scheduling more flights to meet demand. In March, a total of about 250 flights were scheduled from Miami, New York and Los Angeles, up from 170 a month last year, the operators said.

The United States has imposed a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962, which still prevents most Americans from visiting the island 90 miles (145 km) from Florida.

But there are an estimated 1.5 million Cuban exiles in the United States, a big enough market that charter operators are interested in flying from more cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Key West and Jacksonville in Florida and Las Vegas.

The Obama administration sent a chill through the Cuba charter industry in January when it included Cuba among 14 countries where extra security, including a pat down, is required for U.S.-bound passengers due to terrorism concerns.

Despite its protests, Cuba has been on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorism-sponsoring countries since 1982.

The Cuban government reacted angrily, calling in the chief U.S. diplomat in Havana to deliver a note of protest and saying it would "categorically reject this new hostile action."

Charter operators say so far the measures have not been enacted and they are hoping Cuba's airport security is sufficient to keep the U.S. government from shutting down the flights.

"Even before the rule came out Cuba had a very high level of security for people leaving the country," said Tom L. Cooper, owner of Gulfstream International Airlines.

"It appears to me to be fully compliant and we are not foreseeing any problem whatsoever either going to Cuba or coming from Cuba."

One U.S. transportation official in Washington told Reuters all indications suggest Cuba does comply with security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, but declined to comment on the new security measures.

John Kavulich, senior adviser at the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York, thinks it unlikely Washington will make an exception for Cuba unless it faces mounting pressure from Cuban exiles annoyed with the requested pat downs.

With Cuban Americans emerging as Cuba's second-largest source of visitors after Canadians, Kavulich said he expects Cuba will somehow accommodate the new regulations to keep the flights, and the money they bring in, coming.

Cuban Americans are an important source of dollars for the communist regime as it deals with the global economic downturn.

"They will comply in a meaningful way because the revenue stream is pretty significant and important," he said.

Weird. Going back to visit Castro's gulag. :rofl:

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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 07:11 PM
Response to Original message
1. Aren't these people going in the wrong direction?!

I can't wait to visit Castro's gulag myself. :party:
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. They are going to visit family. Why is that a surprise?
Last I checked, Cuban Americans weren't getting on makeshift rafts and trying to paddle to Cuba.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. Ha ha ha ha haaaaaa. Mika, cross-post this with LBN, please!
This is so cool. Only thing far better would be allowing ordinary US Americans to travel to Cuba.

Lifting the embargo would have been the best first thing to do, of course.

Marazul should be congratulated for hanging in there all these years, during the decades it has been bombed, and its employees terrorized. Hope their rewards will be enormous.

Thank you, Mika.

I'm sure this news should be shared with LBN, too! I doubt they'll remove it since it intimately involves this country.
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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 07:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Go ahead. Please do.
I don't have the time to edit 4 paragraphs out of the article. Anyway, the mods will lock it or bounce it over here, since anything Cuba isn't LBN any more (except maybe when a Castro dies).

I'm still at work, doing labwork. :(


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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. O.K. I'll do it. They need to hear this one!
Edited on Wed Mar-24-10 07:41 PM by Judi Lynn
Doing it right away. Thanks.

On edit:
Here's the LBN thread, just posted. You might want to check it later:
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 09:08 PM
Response to Original message
5. Interesting Statistics
You bet they love to see rich Cuban relatives visit Cuba.

"Over more than four decades, some 1.5 million people have emigrated from Cuba and settled in neighboring countries, mostly the United
States. By 2000, the Cuban-American population had reached 1,241,685 living in 474,258 households with a median income of $30,084. This
translates into a total household income of $14.2 billion"

Taken from

On the other hand, according to the BBC, "The average wage in Cuba for everyone - from doctors to farm labourers - is about $20 (10) a month."

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. Typical of your rightwing views...BIG blind spots!
They have universal free medical care in Florida? Universal free education through college and post-graduate studies? Full employment? Honest elections? Everybody in Florida have a home, food, a decent life? Anybody in Florida impoverished by banksters, credit card usurers, skyrocketed medical costs, pension looting, getting fired? Any Floridians dead from being sent to war by Exxon Mobil and Chevron? Crippled for life?

Your myopic rightwing view that the U.S. is "the golden land" and Cuba is a gulag is ridiculous. And it is typical of the views you spout here at DU every day. You back Chevron against the 30,000 indigenous people who have sued Chevron for its horrendous oil spill in Ecuador, and make racist comments about "Indians."* You support the corpo-fascist viewpoint on every issue. And like those you get your information from, your opinions are full of black holes where information should be and rife with prejudice of every kind. To you, the Castro government is all bad, with no redeeming features--the truly stupid view that the CIA and the controlled press have been promulgating all these years. To you, the horrible actions of the U.S. government and the Miami mafia to harm Cuba and Cubans--including the bombing of a Cubana airliner killing 73 people, bombings of Cuban hotels, assassination plots against Castro, the cruel U.S. embargo, the attempted U.S. invasion and other dire plots, do not exist. You never question what these actions have done to Cuba.

All of Latin America now recognizes the Cuban government--as does the rest of the world--all except the U.S. which continues to demonize Cuba. Many Latin American countries welcome help from Cuba's superior medical system and from its education/literacy programs. (Cuba has 100% literacy, and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world!) To you, in your blindness, everything is money, money, money. You ignore quality of life. You ignore the fact that Cubans are entirely free of crippling medical costs and educational debt and corporate looting. You ignore the benefits of a nearly crime-free communal society. You ignore the fact that Cuba is still beautiful, with its natural treasures still in tact, while Miami is a polluted blight on the landscape--a horror of over-development.

There are REASONS why the Cuban government has survived this long and is able to benefit its people and others--why it is recognized throughout the world as legitimate, why its medical and educational and other professionals are welcome almost everywhere, why Latin American students flock to Cuba for training, why governments fly poor people to Cuba for eye operations, and why Cubans--though relatively poor, as to wages or cash--are for the most part content with their government and have not rebelled. (And they are certainly capable of rebellion, as the original Cuban revolution clearly demonstrated.) You ignore all this in favor of black-and-white idiocy and propaganda. You cannot SEE any of these things because you have an AGENDA--dissing Cuba no matter what it does. You have that same agenda about Venezuela and other leftist governments. All bad, nothing good about them--no sense of reality, no understanding of poverty or what it means for a government to serve the poor majority rather than Exxon Mobil and Chevron. And you have yet to take back your racist comment about "Indians."*


*Comment 36, here: Indian presenting a complaint?
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Hard to tell if Cubans are happy with their government
They lack a free press and have no way to vote them out of office. My guess is that, given the chance, they would boot the communists out of power in a jiffy.
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flamingdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
6. A friend just returned from Cuba with some info
about the new health insurance - mandated! - for visitors. Apparently the Miami Cubans were doing their health maintenance at the cost of the state. So now they, and everyone else visiting, will have to pay a $5.00 health insurance fee for each day in Cuba. The Cubans from Miami still have contacts there and can use the Cuban system whereas foreigners have to use more expensive facilities, and this fee will probably not lower that cost very much.

Also, a foreigner died in a hospital there and this new policy happened after that, not sure exactly what the issues were there.

And he said that the planes were packed. Not a spare seat and six times more flights than before.

I expect Obama to lighten up after the mid terms (yes O, we should).
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. They have medicine shortages, equipment isn't that good
I know Cuban doctors who work in Venezuela, and they report Cuba suffers from medicine shortages and lack of equipment. The Cuban government is very glad to see their rich refugees return because they bring cash, clothes, electrical appliances, and medicine. Plus they can milk them for cash using fees.

My Cuban friends feel it would be excellent if the US were to allow Americans to travel, and I agree with them. The more people visit Cuba, the more information the Cubans will have about the world - they live in a society where information is tightly controlled. The free flow of information will lead to the collapse of the communist regime. So in a sense the dictatorship will be like a drug user, they need the cash, so they'll allow the flow of tourists and visitors, but this flow will also bring the information which will trigger a change. Hopefully the change won't be violent, but we have to recall what happened in Romania, when the people there had enough of communism. I'd rather see it change led by the national assembly itself, but first that national assembly will have to grow the spine to stand up and oppose the executive power. And that's a tall order indeed - the national assembly is chosen for its subservience to Castro.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 10:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Well, now we know what the CIA/corpo-fascist plan is! nt
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Now you know
"And the truth shall set you free". There's nothing more corrosive for a totalitarian regime than the free flow of information.
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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. "the national assembly is chosen for its subservience to Castro."
Edited on Thu Mar-25-10 02:28 PM by Mika
Just repeat the same canard over and over.

You know nothing about Cuba, or have an agenda fulfilled with lies.

I urge other DUers to check this thread ....

Electoral Process Continues Smoothly Nationwide (Election season kickoff in Cuba)

This post for those who haven't the time to wade thru the RW BSers in above thread.

I've lived in Cuba during an entire election season and I can assure DUers that the RW myths of Cuba are nothing more than anti Cuba agenda driven fabricated BS.

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
8. Cuba a "terrorist" country? The U.S. is harboring the admitted bomber of a Cubana airliner!
Which is the "terrorist" country--the one who refuses to extradite the CIA-funded terrorist who bombed a commercial airliner killing its 73 passengers and who is also accused of the bombings of Cuban hotels and many other terrorist atrocities, the one that is right now funding military and paramilitary death squads in Colombia and Honduras, the one whose only "friends" in Latin America are fascist narcothugs and far rightwingers, the one with a history of training murderers and torturers at the "School of the Americas" who have slain tens of thousands of innocent people in Latin America, the one that slaughtered a hundred thousand innocent people in Iraq in the first weeks of bombing alone, to steal their oil, the one with torture dungeons around the world, the one with a thousand military bases around the world, the one whose corporations, war profiteers and IMF/World Bank loan sharks bleed and exploit and impoverish "third world" countries wherever they can get their talons on the government in Latin America and throughout the world...or the one that has done no harm to anybody? Cuba!

U.S. hypocrisy is mind-boggling. And the corpo-fascist 'news' monopolies' failure to examine this hypocrisy, and continued promulgation of the U.S. government's mind-boggling lies about Cuba is disgusting.

And, frankly, I think Cuba would be justified in instituting the most stringent anti-terrorist screening of U.S. visitors to Cuba. There are, without doubt, CIA/Miama mafia operatives among the visitors, intent on destabilization and worse. A USAID operative was recently caught in Cuba distributing U.S. taxpayer funded communications technology and other aid to rightwing groups, just as the USAID does in other Latin American countries--including multi-millions to the rightwing coup supporters in Honduras, to fascist rioters in Venezuela, to white separatist murderers in Bolivia, and God knows what else. As the most hated target of U.S. corpo-fascists, Cuba had better beware of this influx of U.S. visitors. I can't imagine that they aren't screening and surveilling U.S. visitors. The Cuban government has kept Cuba safe from U.S. invasion, destabilization, political assassinations and imposition of a U.S. puppet government all this time. They surely know what the dangers are. I just want to point out how absurd it is that the mass murdering, torturing, militaristic U.S. government has the nerve to mouth this hypocritical rot about Cuba's passenger screening, when all the danger goes the other way.


Wiki's article on Luis Posada Carriles is eye-opening...
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protocol rv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. OK, so the US is a terrorist country
I've always believed the US carries out state-sponsored terrorist acts. They also commit war crimes. They also support the state of Israel, which is a gross violator of human rights, and has a government run by thugs and war criminals.

It is feasible to put US presidents on trial, and convict them as war criminals. So what? I keep telling you, don't use the USA as an excuse for problems elsewhere.
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