Cuba and US restore relations

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Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Artemis » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:40 pm

This is pretty big news today.
I guess I'd better get over there before the place is overrun by Americans. Adios cheap vacations... :lol:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/cuba-u-s-t ... -1.2876088


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30516740
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Larry B. » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:20 pm

This is very odd... I'll read about it tomorrow and then talk to a couple of Cuban friends about it.
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Pandemonium » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:23 pm

There's pros and cons to this. The biggest argument for opening relations with Cuba is that the past 50 years haven't really affected the kind of change the US wants and it's time for a different approach which I agree with. The downside is the belief that formal relations will "legitimize" and possibly benefit the oppressive Castro regime but those guys are at the tail ends of their lives. A decade or two, things will change.
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Romeo » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:50 am

I for one can not wait till these babies are legal again




And I don't have to sneak them back from the Caribbean
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Hype » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:50 pm

Romeo wrote:I for one can not wait till these babies are legal again




And I don't have to sneak them back from the Caribbean


You could just take a day-trip to Montreal if you really wanted to smoke a real Romeo Y Julieta or Cohiba. :wink:

As I understand it though, the only thing that remains the same about Cuban cigars from their heyday before the revolution is the location. The tobacco production and people all left. In fact, I'm pretty sure the American version of Romeo Y Julieta from the Dominican is actually the original Cuban company... using seeds they took from Cuba. And I've had quite a few excellent non-Cuban cigars, as well as a good number of Cubans both in Cuba and here in Canada... so I'm not sure they're as good as Americans mythologize them to be.

I don't look forward to American tourists in Cuba though. :lol:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Larry B. » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:09 pm

After talking to my Cuban friends and thinking about it, I think this could be a great long-term strategy for the US' interests in getting rid of everything left-wing over there.

Should money start pouring in, the government could implode due to corruption, for one thing. Workers and students are very well organized and they could start demanding improvements "now that the economic crisis is over," which could destabilize things. The US could give some sort of incentive for Americans to settle there, which in the long term could have a real influence. Is Cuba going to enforce restrictive migration laws?

It certainly is interesting and personally, I wish Cuba the best. However, they've got a lot to lose.
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby mockbee » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:46 pm

Americans still won't be able to "travel" there. That requires an act of Congress and I don't think that will happen anytime soon...... :balls:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Hype » Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:58 am

Larry B. wrote:After talking to my Cuban friends and thinking about it, I think this could be a great long-term strategy for the US' interests in getting rid of everything left-wing over there.

Should money start pouring in, the government could implode due to corruption, for one thing. Workers and students are very well organized and they could start demanding improvements "now that the economic crisis is over," which could destabilize things. The US could give some sort of incentive for Americans to settle there, which in the long term could have a real influence. Is Cuba going to enforce restrictive migration laws?

It certainly is interesting and personally, I wish Cuba the best. However, they've got a lot to lose.


I think the Cuban government has everything to lose, but the Cuban people, for the most part, would probably see aggregate benefits of American money over the long term. It has to be admitted that even though every other country in the Western hemisphere wants to try to fend off as much American influence as they can, the US is the largest country by population and economy, and there's often great benefits from economic, military, etc., partnerships with a larger neighbour. I am a lefty so I'd agree that strong regulation would be needed to counter the negative aspects of American influence. Having been to Costa Rica, I think that may be partially what's going on there: the massive influx of tourism dollars recently has been largely unregulated, which allowed fairly quick capitalist upgrades to some areas of the economy, but there's a ton of tax evasion and failure to follow through on sensible regulations and basic infrastructure needs like roads. It's unclear how Cuba will handle the end of the Castro era, and I think it scares the hell out of Cubans. We had a Cuban academic visit our department to talk about that stuff and he was very clearly brainwashed and seemed to genuinely break down in tears at the thought of Fidel being "gone". :confused:

I suspect Cuba will have to maintain the restrictions on its citizens that it already has in place, because that's the only thing keeping people on the island (well, that and the standard "Communism is coming. You have to work hard!" myth).
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Romeo » Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:27 am

Adurentibus Spina wrote:
Romeo wrote:I for one can not wait till these babies are legal again




And I don't have to sneak them back from the Caribbean


You could just take a day-trip to Montreal if you really wanted to smoke a real Romeo Y Julieta or Cohiba. :wink:

As I understand it though, the only thing that remains the same about Cuban cigars from their heyday before the revolution is the location. The tobacco production and people all left. In fact, I'm pretty sure the American version of Romeo Y Julieta from the Dominican is actually the original Cuban company... using seeds they took from Cuba. And I've had quite a few excellent non-Cuban cigars, as well as a good number of Cubans both in Cuba and here in Canada... so I'm not sure they're as good as Americans mythologize them to be.

I don't look forward to American tourists in Cuba though. :lol:


Well according to my cigar aficionados :wink: YES they took the tobacco seeds to the Dominican Republic, which produce a great cigar. But it's the seeds plus the rich Cuban soil that yields the fine tobacco

And YES I did mule back Romeo Y Julieta's back from St Marrten for my cigar smoking friends :cool: The boarder only nabbed me for the Fed Tax on too many cartons of duty free cigarettes.
I'm a bad ass.
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Hype » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:00 am

That claim about the Cuban soil (oh, they also claim the particular climate of the island too...) was repeated to us ad nauseam by tour-guides, and there may be some truth to it, however, soil doesn't remain the same over time... it changes when weather and crops and pollution and development change. So it's hard to know whether the particular character of Cuban soil nowadays is as good as everyone says it is, or how much of a difference that really makes in the taste of a good cigar.

My own view (I wouldn't call myself an afficianado, but I've probably smoked more Cubans than most Americans) is that the biggest factors in a good cigar are freshness/staleness (especially if imported), preference for loose or tight draw (Cohibas are too loose for my liking, Romeo Y Julietas are just about perfect, maybe a little too tight), and whatever filler/binder they're using.

I've had a Canadian machine-rolled cigar with tobacco of unknown origin (I just can't remember) that imho tasted far better than some of the Cohibas I've had. :neutral:

I'm also just deeply cynical about anything heavily marketed, and ironically, the Cuban government has turned the embargo in a master-class in prestige-marketing. :nod:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Larry B. » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:31 am

Yeah, I've never understood the appeal for Cuban cigars. I have a friend who tries too had to act like he's a fucking emperor every time he has one. I'm like "you do know that some cheap marihuana tastes far better than that, right?"
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Artemis » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:56 am

Adurentibus Spina wrote:
I'm also just deeply cynical about anything heavily marketed, and ironically, the Cuban government has turned the embargo in a master-class in prestige-marketing. :nod:


So, it's not true then that Fidel's cigars were rolled on the thighs of virgins? :lol:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Hype » Tue Dec 23, 2014 11:14 am

Artemis wrote:
Adurentibus Spina wrote:
I'm also just deeply cynical about anything heavily marketed, and ironically, the Cuban government has turned the embargo in a master-class in prestige-marketing. :nod:


So, it's not true then that Fidel's cigars were rolled on the thighs of virgins? :lol:


I saw those virgins in the factory in Santa Clara. I don't want them. :lolol:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Hype » Tue Dec 23, 2014 11:18 am

Larry B. wrote:Yeah, I've never understood the appeal for Cuban cigars. I have a friend who tries too had to act like he's a fucking emperor every time he has one. I'm like "you do know that some cheap marihuana tastes far better than that, right?"


It's hard to beat the best cigars for smell/flavour, especially if you've got good cognac or chocolate or wine around. But a mediocre cigar is like McDonald's is to fine dining... painful and sickening. I'm not saying there aren't very good Cuban cigars -- there are. But I also had surprisingly good ones in Costa Rica -- which, by the way, has terrible coffee: another case where I think marketing hype is greater than the quality can match... I roll my eyes every time I go to one of these hipster coffee joints and see them selling Costa Rican blends for $7 a cup... I've seen how those beans are grown... like... out of the thighs of Cuban virgins or something... I don't want them. :jasper:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby kv » Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:28 am

I'll stick to my short stories tyvm
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby nausearockpig » Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:45 pm

Saw this article today: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/cuba-offline-internet-weekly-packet-external-hard-drives?utm_source=howtogeek&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Cuba's 'offline internet': no access, no power, no problem
Cubans have found a unique albeit semi-legal way around their country’s practically nonexistent internet access – external hard drives passed from person to person

As she makes her way past the art deco houses of Havana’s Miramar neighbourhood, there is little to suggest that Teresita Rodríguez is different from any other Cuban, running an errand or buying her groceries. But she is in fact a semi-legal data mule in the country’s “offline internet”.

Every morning, Rodriguez ferries external hard drives back and forth across Havana, using her feet to carry out the role that cables and wi-fi perform in other countries with less-restricted access to the world wide web.

Her job is both high-tech and extraordinarily simple. At one end, she sits and waits for a couple hours in the front room of the home of an information peddler, while he copies the latest terabyte-sized package of global films, TV dramas, comedies, magazines, applications and anti-virus software to her hard drive via a USB cable. She then takes those digital files to the home of her employer so he can download it and sell it on to his customers, many of whom will in turn charge their friends and neighbours for a copy.

These copies are known as the “Paquete Semanal” (Weekly Packet), a fast-spreading service that is enabling huge numbers of Cubans without internet access to obtain information just days – and sometimes hours – after it has gone online elsewhere in the world.

It is part of an alternative IT revolution in Cuba, where data-sharing has evolved in a very different way from elsewhere in the world as a result of government censorship, the US embargo and the creativity of an extremely well-educated and information-hungry population.

That environment looks set to change. When Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced a resumption of diplomatic relations last week, their governments also promised an upgrade of the island’s communications infrastructure by US firms, who are being allowed to operate in Cuba for the first time in more than half a century.

It will have a major impact. Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world, with less than 5% of the island’s 11 million people connected according to the White House. Only a privileged few have access to private internet connections.

Most of those that do have access have to rely on dial-up connections, prompting Google chief Eric Schmidt to say during a trip to Havana earlier this year that the island was “trapped in the 1990s”. Faster lines are available at international hotels and “internet rooms”, but at a minimum charge of $5 an hour – a weekly wage for many people – it is beyond the financial means of the vast majority of the population.

The high cost and low speed are the result of a poor infrastructure and the government’s less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward the spread of information. The island’s only fibre-optic cable was connected by Venezuela several years ago, but it has limited capacity and the benefits haven’t spread widely due to poor telecom networks on the island.

Yet it would be wrong to assume that the island’s population have been living in an information black hole.

Thanks to the Weekly Packet, Cubans will this week be watching the final Hobbit movie as well as the most recent episodes of Homeland, Blacklist and Two and a Half Men; BBC documentaries; Japanese manga; Brazilian telenovelas and Korean melodramas. In addition, they can read the last editions of 500 magazines, including National Geographic, PC Weekly and the Economist, and play updated versions of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

The terabyte-per-week service is cheaper than most internet providers. Prices range from $17 for the latest Friday upload (which is mostly paid by those who want to resell to their own customers) to $2.50 for copies made between Tuesday and Thursday, when the content is already a few days old and thus has little resale value.

“We get between 10 and 20 customers a day,” said Jorge Fernandez, who recently switched businesses from unlocking mobile phones to providing Weekly Packets. “The most popular shows are Vampire Diaries, Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and The 100.”

Like everyone in this article, he asked for his name to be changed because of the ambiguous legal status of his business: Fernandez has a permit only to burn CDs and is reluctant to say who is the original source of the latest terabytes of content. “It’s someone with high-speed internet. I don’t really know. I don’t ask,” he said.

Customers appear satisfied. “You can get almost anything now, except porn or politics. You won’t find the Miami Herald in the Weekly Packet,” said one client, Fabiano Sánchez. “But if you want to be informed about the world, then you can be. There are no mysteries anymore.”

But there are limits. The Weekly Packet makes for a very passive experience. It is, of course, close to useless for blogging, social networking and other interactive – and politically dynamic – forms of communication. Driven by memory size rather than processor speed, it brings with it an emphasis on storage rather than activity. This is also evident in the very different Cuban use of Wikipedia, which many people download in bulk packages of two to five gigabytes and keep on their mobile phones so they can use it without being online.

“I last used the internet two weeks ago. The last time I went on Facebook was two years ago,” said Luis Daniel Canetti as he discussed the problems of the Cuban web with friends at the FAC culture centre and nightclub. “I have access to a line, but I don’t use it because it is too slow and expensive.”

Prices are so high – and power cuts so common – that the most useful mobile phone application is the flashlight, quipped his friend José Alfredo Carreon. “In terms of schools and hospitals, what we have in Cuba is great, but we need to go a step further. We need to contact other people in the world. We need access.”

They and many others hope that US telecom companies can now help to upgrade the Cuban system and make the internet faster and cheaper. Whether it also becomes more accessible will depend on the government’s willingness to allow citizens a more interactive experience, for example by unblocking Skype.

Most people are hopeful this will be the case, although they expect change to come slowly.

For Fernandez, the provider of the lucrative Weekly Packets, it cannot come slowly enough. “I guess my business will be badly affected by the new announcement between Cuba and the US,” he said, when asked about the prospects of people downloading their own films - and perhaps even having to pay royalties. “I want change too. I just hope it will take several years.”
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Artemis » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:22 am

Don't pack your flip flops and beach towel just yet...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... ?tid=sm_fb

Precisely what the new U.S.-Cuba travel rules mean for Americans hoping to visit Cuba

President Obama's administration said this morning that the new set of U.S.-Cuba travel regulations, first announced last month as part of a return to normal diplomatic relations with the island nation, will take effect on Friday. As part of those changes, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba than is has been for more than 50 years. But it won't be as simple as booking a flight. Here's a quick rundown of who exactly will be able to visit Cuba, and under what circumstances:

For starters, these changes will not allow official tourist travel to Cuba. Senior administration officials clarified in a conference call this morning that the new regulations "are not meant to facilitate tourist travel to Cuba, as tourist travel remains prohibited by statute." In other words, headlines that have run rampant in recent weeks telling Americans that they can now travel to Cuba are overstated, or, at the very least, misleading.

But the changes set to take effect tomorrow will make it easier for those hoping to visit Cuba to do so. Americans who wish to travel to Cuba will have to meet one of 12 different criteria for authorized travel, as they have in the past. Those categories include family visits, official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions.

"It's a violation of U.S. law to disregard travel categories," a senior administration official said. "Penalties can be imposed for violations of any of the terms. This is something that we will continue to highlight as part of the process."

But—and this is a huge but—prospective travelers will no longer have to obtain a specialized license from the government, which seems to pave the way for a future in which leisure travel is more common, if not completely legal. As part of the updated regulations, those hoping to travel to Havana will only need a general license, which they can declare as individuals. In practice, this will effectively mean that people can claim they are traveling under one of the dozen approved categories, and then book a flight. Airlines and travel agents will no longer need specialized licenses to provide service to Cuba.

"A general license is not a physical piece of paper, like the specialized license is—it's basically a presumption that you fit one of those categories," said Julia Sweig, a longtime expert and author on Cuba. "It's like the government is giving citizens the benefit of the doubt from now on."
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Romeo » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:09 am

Hey I can easily turn a $100 worth of cigar/rum trip into something religious! :lolol:
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Artemis » Fri May 29, 2015 1:43 pm

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Cuba?

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas ... t-explorer


I got 8/15 53%
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Re: Cuba and US restore relations

Postby Artemis » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:23 pm

Exciting times in Cuba this week- first American president to visit there in 88 years and a free concert by the Rolling Stones on Friday! :cool:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/president-obam ... d=37791583
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