Cuba will allow Cuban-born to arrive on Carnival cruise ship

The fact that the Castro regime changed its position about Cuban-Americans traveling on cruise ships and other vessels, proves that they will only make changes when they are forced to.
The problem with Obama’s Cuba policy is that he gave away the store without asking anything in return and the Castros took advantage of him.
Whether he did it because he is too naive, a terrible negotiator, or because he sympathize with them, is another question altogether.

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From The Miami Herald

Carnival had said they expected the change but was ready to delay May 1 cruise if it didn’t happen

Cuba is easing a long-standing ban on Cuban-born people returning to the island by sea, clearing the way for Carnival Corporation to launch a Miami-to-Havana route that was the subject of a national controversy when the company declined to sell tickets to Cuban-born Americans.

Cuba made the announcement via Granma, the official voice of the Cuban government.

Carnival Corp. said it has been working closely with the Cuban government to reach an agreement that would allow the Doral-based company to take travelers to Cuba in the same way air charters currently do, according to a release issued Friday morning. Cuban-born Americans have been the primary travelers to Cuba by air.

The change marks the first time in decades that Cuban-born individuals will be able to travel to the island by sea. On March 21, Carnival Corp.’s new Fathom brand became the first U.S. company to gain approval to sail to the island in more than 50 years.

“We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. “More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased.”

According to the new regulations, Cuban citizens, regardless of immigration status, can enter and exit the country as passengers and crew on merchant ships and cruise ships. The new policy goes into effect Tuesday.

The Granma also reported that at a later date, Cuban citizens will be allowed to enter and exit the island, regardless of immigration status, as passengers or crew on recreational boats, such as yachts.

But when Carnival first earned approval, the cruise company declined to sell tickets to Cuban-born Americans, in accordance with Cuban law. After controversy sparked by a Miami Herald column by Fabiola Santiago argued Carnival Corp. was discriminating against Cuban-born Americans, the cruise company changed course.

Government officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez lashed out against Carnival Corp., one of the county’s largest private employers, for the policy.

Two lawsuits were filed in federal court in Miami last week, a class-action suit and a civil suit, by Cuban-born Americans who attempted to book and were denied tickets on Fathom. The lawsuits alleged that the cruise line was violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by following a policy that discriminates against a class of Americans on a place of public accommodation for transient guests — a cruise ship.

Fathom then resumed selling tickets to Cuban-born Americans, easing a threat by Miami-Dade to block the company from having access to its terminals at the county-owned PortMiami. Fathom parent Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company, said it would delay its inaugural visit to Cuba on May 1 until the Cuban government changed its policy.

But Carnival Corp. executives also said they expected the Cuban government to change the regulation before the cruise was set to launch.

Fathom’s 704-passenger Adonia will leave PortMiami for Havana on weeklong voyages beginning May 1, with stops in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

CNN’s Havana bureau reported the news early Friday morning; Carnival Corp. issued a release confirming shortly thereafter. Carnival resumed selling tickets to Cuban-born Americans last week amid a storm of controversy and a threat by Miami-Dade to block the Doral-based company from having access to its terminals at the county-owned PortMiami

On Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement praising Carnival chairman Micky Arison, who had come under fire three days earlier at the County Commission meeting. Commissioner Javier Souto, Cuban-born and a veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion, took aim at Arison’s role as the owner of the Miami Heat, which receives county subsidies and plays in a county-owned arena. “I was appalled and surprised,” Souto said. “We’ve been so good to the Heat.”

Gimenez had accused Carnival of violating the county’s human-rights ordinance through its original booking policy for the Cuba cruises, but has also been in touch with Arison throughout the dispute to ease tensions.

“Mr. Arison and Carnival have been great corporate citizens in Miami-Dade County for more than 40 years,” Gimenez said in the statement. “This policy change was the right thing to do, and I congratulate both Mr. Arison and Carnival on their efforts…”

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