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CRS — Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (July 31, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52- year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly over the past several years.

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Cuba’s New Real Estate Market

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Cuba’s New Real Estate Market
Source: Brookings Institution

In November 2011, the Cuban government legalized residential real estate transactions as part of its ongoing economic reform process. Homes are no longer just assets to be passed on to heirs but can be made liquid, expanding economic freedom for the 84 percent of Cubans who own their own homes.

In “Cuba’s New Real Estate Market,” Phil Peters relies on interviews with market participants and government officials to examine the development of the nascent real estate market, outline its complex processes, and discuss the role of foreign nationals. He argues that the reform helps to address a critical housing shortage, advances private property rights, and repeals the requirement that emigrants forfeit their property to the government upon leaving the island.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s
political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was
characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a
second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52-
year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him
the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has
implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including
an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous
economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic
model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political
system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the
number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased
significantly.

See also: Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances (PDF)

Soft Landing in Cuba? Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes

November 25, 2013 Comments off

Soft Landing in Cuba? Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes
Source: Brookings Institution

A dynamic, independent private sector is rapidly emerging in Cuba, despite the dominance of the state-run socialist system. The private sector is quickly absorbing workers laid off from the state, enlarging its growing middle classes and defining a new Cuba. The old narrative — that Fidel and Raul Castro had to pass from the scene before real change could occur — has been discredited by these current trends.

More and more Cubans are opening bed and breakfasts, cafes and snack bars, small shops and markets, and offering services in areas such as construction and technology. But challenges in accessing capital, along with burdensome taxation, often prevent some of these operations from growing into larger firms.

It remains to be seen whether the powerful Cuba state is prepared to allow these businesses to expand and partner with state entities, creating a hybrid market socialist economy that can accelerate growth into a legitimate boom.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances

November 15, 2013 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba’s communist government since the early 1960s. Under the George W. Bush Administration, restrictions on travel and on private remittances to Cuba were tightened. In March 2003, the Administration eliminated travel for people-to-people educational exchanges unrelated to academic coursework. In June 2004, the Administration further restricted family and educational travel, eliminated the category of fully-hosted travel, and restricted remittances so that they could only be sent to the remitter’s immediate family. Initially there was mixed reaction to the Administration’s June 2004 tightening of Cuba travel and remittance restrictions, but opposition to the policy grew, especially within the Cuban American community regarding the restrictions on family travel and remittances.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress

June 18, 2013 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected a 52-year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly.

U.S. Policy

Over the years, Congress has played an active role in shaping policy toward Cuba, including the enactment of legislation strengthening and at times easing various U.S. economic sanctions. While U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions, a second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S. government-sponsored broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí) and support for human rights and democracy projects. The Obama Administration has continued this similar dual-track approach. While the Administration has lifted all restrictions on family travel and remittances, eased restrictions on other types of purposeful travel, and moved to reengage Cuba on several bilateral issues, it has also maintained most U.S. economic sanctions in place. On human rights, the Administration welcomed the release of many political prisoners in 2010 and 2011, but it has also criticized Cuba’s continued harsh repression of political dissidents through thousands of shortterm detentions and targeted violence. The Administration has continued to call for the release of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, detained in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in March 2011. Gross’s continued detention has been a major impediment toward improved relations.

Legislative Activity

Strong interest on Cuba is expected to continue in the 113th Congress with attention focused on economic and political developments, especially the human rights situation, and U.S. policy toward the island nation. The continued imprisonment of Alan Gross remains a key concern for many Members. Now that Congress has completed action on FY2013 appropriations, it will soon be considering the Administration’s FY2014 request for the State Department and Foreign Operations, which includes funding for Cuba democracy programs and Cuba broadcasting. For many years, U.S. sanctions, particularly restrictions on travel, remittances, and agricultural exports to Cuba, have been topics of congressional debate, and this could be possible again in the 113th Congress.

To date in the 113th Congress, eight initiatives on Cuba have been introduced. Several would lift or ease U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba: H.R. 214 and H.R. 872 (overall embargo); H.R. 871 (travel); and H.R. 873 (travel and agricultural exports). H.R. 215 would allow Cubans to play organized professional baseball in the United States. H.R. 1917, among its provisions, would lift the embargo and extend nondiscriminatory trade treatment to the products of Cuba after Cuba releases Alan Gross from prison. Identical initiatives, H.R. 778/S. 647 would modify a 1998 trademark sanction; in contrast, H.R. 214, H.R. 872, H.R. 873, and H.R. 1917 each have a provision that would repeal the trademark sanction. H.Res. 121 would honor the work of Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez in challenging the oppression of the Castro regime. In addition, in March 2013, Congress completed action on full-year FY2013 appropriations with the approval of H.R. 933 (P.L. 113-6), which continues to provide funding for Cuba democracy and human rights projects and Cuba broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).

This report will be updated periodically during the 113th Congress. For additional information, see CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress

May 1, 2013 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected a 52-year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly.

CRS — Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress

March 20, 2012 Comments off

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment begun in October 2010. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. The government has reduced the number of political prisoners over the past several years, including the release of over 125 since 2010 after talks with the Catholic Church, but short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly over the past year.

Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S.-sponsored broadcasting and support for human rights activists. In light of Fidel Castro’s departure as head of government, many observers called for a reexamination of policy. Two broad approaches toward Cuba have been at the center of debate. The first is to maintain the dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people. The second is aimed at changing attitudes in the Cuban government and society through increased engagement. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on family travel and remittances, moved to reengage Cuba on several bilateral issues, and eased restrictions on other types of purposeful travel and remittances. The Administration has criticized Cuba’s repression of dissidents, but has welcomed the release of political prisoners. The Administration has continued to call for the release of a U.S. government subcontractor, Alan Gross, detained since late 2009, who was sentenced to 15 years in March 2011.

Strong interest on Cuba is continuing in the 112 th Congress. The Senate approved S.Res. 366 on February 1, 2012, condemning the Cuban government for the death of democracy activist Wilman Villar Mendoza. In the first session, an attempt to roll back the Administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and remittances was unsuccessful. Such a provision had been included in the House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 Financial Services appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, but was not included in the FY2012 “megabus” appropriations measure (H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74). Both H.R. 2434 and the Senate version of the bill, S. 1573, would have continued to clarify the definition of “payment of cash in advance” for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba during FY2012, but the provision was not included in the “megabus” measure. Other initiatives that would increase sanctions include H.R. 2583, with a provision rolling back the easing of travel and remittance restriction, and H.R. 2831, intended to curb frequent travel to Cuba by Cubans who have recently emigrated to the United States. Several initiatives would ease sanctions: H.R. 255 and H.R. 1887 (overall sanctions); H.R. 833 and H.R. 1888 (agricultural exports); and H.R. 380 and H.R. 1886 (travel). Two initiatives, S. 603 and H.R. 1166, would modify a trademark sanction. Five bills, H.R. 372, S. 405, H.R. 2047, H.R. 3393, and S. 1836 would take different approaches toward Cuba’s offshore oil development. Two bills, S. 476 and H.R. 1317, would discontinue Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba. Also see CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances and CRS Report R41522, Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances

October 4, 2011 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba’s communist government since the early 1960s. Under the George W. Bush Administration, restrictions on travel and on private remittances to Cuba were tightened. In March 2003, the Administration eliminated travel for people-to-people educational exchanges unrelated to academic coursework. In June 2004, the Administration further restricted family and educational travel, eliminated the category of fully-hosted travel, and restricted remittances so that they could only be sent to the remitter’s immediate family. Initially there was mixed reaction to the Administration’s June 2004 tightening of Cuba travel and remittance restrictions, but opposition to the policy grew, especially within the Cuban American community regarding the restrictions on family travel and remittances.

Under the Obama Administration, Congress took action in March 2009 by including two provisions in the FY2009 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 111-8) that eased restrictions on family travel and travel related to marketing and sale of agricultural and medical goods to Cuba. Subsequently, in April 2009, President Obama announced that his Administration would go further and allow unlimited family travel and remittances. Regulations implementing these changes were issued in September 2009. The new regulations also included the authorization of general licenses for travel transactions for telecommunications-related sales and for attendance at professional meetings related to commercial telecommunications.

In January 2011, the Obama Administration announced policy changes further easing restrictions on travel and remittances. The measures (1) increase purposeful travel to Cuba related to religious, educational, and people-to-people exchanges; (2) allow any U.S. person to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and make it easier for religious institutions to send remittances for religious activities; and (3) permit all U.S. international airports to apply to provide services to licensed charter flights. These new measures, with the exception of the expansion of eligible airports, are similar to policies that were undertaken by the Clinton Administration in 1999, but subsequently curtailed by the Bush Administration in 2003-2004.

Interest on the issue of Cuba travel and remittances is continuing in the 112th Congress, with some legislative initiatives aimed at rolling back the Obama Administration’s actions to ease restrictions on travel and remittances and others designed to further ease or lift such restrictions. The House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, would roll back President Obama’s easing of restrictions on remittances and family travel, while the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved version of H.R. 2583, the FY2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, would require enforcement of travel regulations as effect on January 19, 2009. Another initiative, H.R. 2771, has the intent of curbing frequent travel to Cuba by Cubans who have recently emigrated to the United States. In contrast, several initiatives would lift travel restrictions. H.R. 1886 would prohibit restrictions on travel to Cuba. H.R. 1888, in addition to removing some restrictions on the export of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba, would also prohibit Cuba travel restrictions. Two initiatives that would lift the overall Cuba embargo, H.R. 255 and H.R. 1887, also would lift restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. H.R. 380 would prohibit funding to enforce restrictions on travel for educational activities in Cuba. (For further information, see CRS Report R41617, Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress.)

CRS — Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress

September 6, 2011 Comments off

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment begun in October 2010. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that could increase the private sector. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, although it has reduced the number of political prisoners over the past several years, including the release of over 125 since 2010 after talks with the Catholic Church.

Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S.-sponsored broadcasting and support for human rights activists. In light of Fidel Castro’s departure as head of government, many observers called for a reexamination of policy. Two broad approaches toward Cuba have been at the center of debate. The first is to maintain the dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people. The second is aimed at changing attitudes in the Cuban government and society through increased engagement. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on family travel and remittances, moved to reengage Cuba on migration and other bilateral issues, and, in January 2011, announced measures to ease restrictions on purposeful travel and non- family remittances. The Administration has criticized the government’s repression of dissidents, but it has welcomed the release of political prisoners as a positive sign. The Administration has continued to call for the release of a U.S. government subcontractor, Alan Gross, detained since late 2009, who was sentenced to 15 years in March 2011.

Strong interest on Cuba is continuing in the 112th Congress. The House Appropriations Committee-approved version of the FY2012 Financial Services Appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, would roll back President Obama’s actions easing restrictions on remittances and family travel and continue to clarify the definition of “payment of cash in advance” for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba during FY2012. (P.L. 112-10, enacted in April 2011, continued the “payment of cash in advance” provision for FY2011.) The House Foreign Affairs Committee ordered reported H.R. 2583, the FY2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, with a provision that would require the President to fully enforce all U.S. regulations on travel to Cuba as in effect on January 19, 2009 (under the Bush Administration). H.R. 2771 would increase to five years the period during which a Cuban national must be present in the United States in order to qualify for permanent resident status, and would make Cuban nationals who travel to Cuba ineligible for such status. Several initiatives would ease sanctions: H.R. 255 and H.R. 1887 (overall sanctions); H.R. 833 and H.R. 1888 (agricultural exports); and H.R. 380 and H.R. 1886 (travel). Two initiatives, S. 603 and H.R. 1166, would modify a trademark sanction, while several bills already noted would eliminate that sanction (H.R. 255, H.R. 1887, and H.R. 1888). Three bills would take different approaches toward Cuba’s offshore oil development: H.R. 372, S. 405, and H.R. 2047. Two initiatives would discontinue Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba: S. 476 and H.R. 1317. One resolution would call for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba.

For additional information, see CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances and CRS Report R41522, Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations.

CRS — Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations

August 2, 2011 Comments off

Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Cuba is moving toward development of its offshore oil resources. While the country has proven oil reserves of just 0.1 billion barrels, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that offshore reserves in the North Cuba Basin could contain an additional 4.6 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable crude oil. The Spanish oil company Repsol, in a consortium with Norway’s Statoil and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is expected to begin offshore exploratory drilling in late 2011, and a number of other companies are considering exploratory drilling. At present, Cuba has six offshore projects with foreign oil companies. If oil is found, some experts estimate that it would take at least three to five years before production would begin. While it is unclear whether offshore oil production could result in Cuba becoming a net oil exporter, it could reduce Cuba’s current dependence on Venezuela for oil supplies.

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some Members of Congress and others have expressed concern about Cuba’s development of its deepwater petroleum reserves so close to the United States. They are concerned about oil spill risks and about the status of disaster preparedness and coordination with the United States in the event of an oil spill. Dealing with these challenges is made more difficult because of the longstanding poor state of relations between Cuba and the United States. If an oil spill did occur in the waters northwest of Cuba, currents in the Florida Straits could carry the oil to U.S. waters and coastal areas in Florida, although a number of factors would determine the potential environmental impact. If significant amounts of oil did reach U.S. waters, marine and coastal resources in southern Florida could be at risk.

With regard to disaster response coordination, the United States and Cuba are not parties to a bilateral agreement on oil spills. While U.S. oil spill mitigation companies can be licensed by the Treasury and Commerce Departments to provide support and equipment in the event of an oil spill, some energy and policy analysts have called for the Administration to ease regulatory restrictions on the transfer of U.S. equipment and personnel to Cuba that would be needed to combat a spill. Some have also called for more formal U.S.-Cuban government cooperation and planning to minimize potential damage from an oil spill. Similar U.S. cooperation with Mexico could be a potential model for U.S.-Cuban cooperation, while two multilateral agreements on oil spills under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization also could provide a mechanism for some U.S.-Cuban engagement on oil pollution preparedness and response.

To date in the 112th Congress, three legislative initiatives have been introduced taking different approaches toward Cuba’s offshore oil development. H.R. 372 would authorize the Secretary of Interior to deny oil leases and permits to those companies that engage in activities with the government of any foreign country subject to any U.S. government sanction or embargo. S. 405 would require companies conducting oil operations off the coast of Cuba to submit an oil response plan for their Cuba operations if they wanted to lease drilling rights in the United States. The bill would also require the Secretary of the Interior to begin efforts toward the development and implementation of oil spill response plans for nondomestic oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, including recommendations on joint contingency plan with Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. H.R. 2047 would impose visa restrictions on foreign nationals and economic sanctions on companies that help facilitate the development of Cuba’s offshore petroleum resources. For additional information on Cuba, see CRS Report R41617, Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress.

CRS — Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress

March 30, 2011 Comments off

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Secrecy News)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro implemented limited economic policy changes in 2008 and 2009, and in September 2010 began a significant series of reforms to reduce the public sector and increase private enterprise. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, although it has reduced the number of political prisoners over the past several years, including the release of more than 50 since July 2010 after talks with the Cuban Catholic Church.

Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S.-sponsored broadcasting and support for human rights activists. In light of Fidel Castro’s departure as head of government, many observers called for a re-examination of policy. Two broad approaches toward Cuba have been at the center of debate. The first would maintain the dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people. The second is aimed at changing attitudes in the Cuban government and society through increased engagement. The Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on family travel and remittances; eased restrictions on telecommunications links with Cuba; restarted semi-annual migration talks; and recently announced further easing of restrictions on educational and religious travel and non-family remittances. The Administration has criticized the government’s repression of dissidents, but it welcomed Cuba’s July 2010 announcement of a prisoner release as a positive sign. The Administration also has called for the release of a U.S. government subcontractor imprisoned since December 2009.

The 111th Congress took action on several measures that included provisions related to Cuba. In March 2009, Congress approved three provisions in the FY2009 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 111-8) that eased sanctions on family travel, travel for the marketing of agricultural and medical goods, and payment terms for U.S. agricultural exports. In December 2009, Congress included a provision in the FY2010 omnibus appropriations legislation (P.L. 111-117) that eased payment terms for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba during FY2010 by defining the term “payment of cash in advance” more broadly. While Congress did not complete action on any of the FY2011 appropriations measures, it did approve a series of short-term continuing resolutions (P.L. 111-242, as amended), the last of which provided funding for federal agencies through March 4, 2011 under conditions provided in enacted FY2010 appropriations measures. This extended the more restrictive “payment of cash in advance provision” and also continued Cuba broadcasting and democracy funding. Numerous other initiatives were introduced, but not considered, several of which would have eased sanctions on Cuba in various ways.

Congressional interest on Cuba is likely to continue in the 112th Congress, focused on a number of issues, including U.S. sanctions, the human rights situation, Cuba’s imprisonment of a U.S. government subcontractor, the status of Cuba’s economic reforms, and its offshore oil development. For additional information, see CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances and CRS Report R41522, Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations.

Recession and Policy Transmission to Latin American Tourism: Does Expanded Travel to Cuba Offset Crisis Spillovers?

March 26, 2011 Comments off

Recession and Policy Transmission to Latin American Tourism: Does Expanded Travel to Cuba Offset Crisis Spillovers?
Source: International Monetary Fund

This study measures the impact of changing economic conditions in OECD countries on tourist arrivals to countries/destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. A model of utility maximization across labor, consumption of goods and services at home, and consumption of tourism services across monopolistically competitive destinations abroad is presented. The model yields estimable equations arrivals as a function of OECD economic conditions and the elasticity of substitution across tourist destinations. Estimates suggest median tourism arrivals decline by at least three to five percent in response to a one percent increase in OECD unemployment, even after controlling for declines in OECD consumption and output gaps. Arrivals to individual destination are driven by differing exposure to OECD country groups sharing similar business cycle characteristics. Estimates of the elasticity of substitution suggest that tourism demand is highly price sensitive, and that a variety of costs to delivering tourism services drive market share losses in uncompetitive destinations. One recent cost change, the 2009 easing of restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, supported a small (countercyclical) boost to Cuba’s arrivals of U.S. non-family travel, as well as a pre-existing surge in family travel (of Cuban origin). Despite the US becoming Cuba’s second highest arrival source, Cuban policymakers have significant scope for lowering the relatively high costs of family travel from the United States.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

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