Tag Archives: Cuba

Spirit Airlines Latest To Pull Out Of Cuba

Travel Pulse

Spirit Airlines became the fifth airline to either cut back or end service to Cuba when it announced it will discontinue flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International to Havana on May 31.
Spirit has had the service for just four months, ultimately learning – like other airlines – that demand for Cuba has fallen off coupled with initial high expectations by the airlines that Americans would embrace one of the last great travel frontiers.
The Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with Cuba two years ago and softened the travel restrictions to the island nation, leading to eight airlines chosen by the Department of Transportation to begin flying to Cuba last summer.
But after an initial surge, demand has waned.
Subsequently, American Airlines reduced service in November, Jet Blue announced it will switch to smaller aircraft next month and reduce the number of daily seats to Cuba, Silver Airways cut service altogether in March, and Frontier is eliminating its one route from Miami to Havana in June.
Spirit will offer once-daily service to Cuba from May 3 to May 24, and then twice-daily flights between May 25 and May 31. Passengers who booked flights after May 31 will receive a full refund.
“The costs of serving Havana continue to outweigh the demand for service,” Spirit said in a statement. “Due to overcapacity and the additional costs associated with flying to Cuba, we don’t find it sustainable to continue this service while maintaining our commitment to pass along ultra-low fares to our customers.”

Cuba’s premium gas shortage leaves diplomats stuck

Newsweek

When they are not tending to international affairs, diplomats based in Havana can be found these days stewing in interminable lines at gas stations and concocting ways to increase the octane in fuel as Cuba’s premium gasoline shortage takes its toll.

Cuba sent around an internal memo last week advising that it would restrict sales of high-octane, so-called “special fuel,” in April. That is not an issue for most Cuban drivers, whose vintage American cars and Soviet-era Ladas use regular fuel.

But it is for the embassies that use modern cars whose engines could be damaged by the fuel at most Havana gas stations. So the diplomats are taking a leaf out of the book of Cubans, used to such shortages, and becoming resourceful.

Given the U.S. trade embargo, Cubans have for decades had to invent new ways to keep their cars on the road, replacing original engines with Russian ones and using homemade parts.

“I bought octane booster, and the embassy has bought lubricants, meant to help the motor deal with rubbish gasoline,” said one north European diplomat, who got a relative to bring the booster in his luggage given it is unavailable in Cuba.

“At the moment we are using the car that runs on diesel, so we can ‘survive’,” said an Eastern European diplomat.

Cuba has not announced the measure officially yet. According to the memo, “the special fuel remaining in stock at gas stations from April will only be sold in cash and to tourists until the inventory is depleted.”

“It’s very serious. I have already suspended a trip to Santiago de Cuba for fear of lack of gas,” said one Latin American diplomat, adding that it seemed like the problem would last. “Diplomats are very worried.”

Some embassies in Havana have people scouting out which stations still have some higher-octane fuel and are sending around regular updates to staff. One gas station worker said they were getting small deliveries of fuel each day still.

The embassies are also advising people to carpool or use the diplomatic shuttle.

Meanwhile the European Union has requested from the ministry of foreign affairs that one or more service centers be set aside for diplomats with special gas, according to a European diplomat.

Cuba has become increasingly reliant on its socialist ally Venezuela for refined oil products but the latter has faced its own fuel shortage in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the Communist-ruled island cannot easily replace subsidized Venezuelan supplies as it is strapped for cash.

Although the memo referred to April, it is not clear how long the shortage will last. Cubans joke that once something disappears in Cuba, it is never to return, referring to products that have disappeared from their ration book like cigarettes, beef and condensed milk.

The Peugeot dealership in Havana has sent its clients lists of technical tips on how to protect their motors while using lower-grade gasoline, including more frequent maintenance and ensuring vehicles at running at optimum temperature before driving.

The shortage is also impacting others using modern cars such as taxi drivers, tourists and workers at joint ventures.

 

Cuban dissident leader to Trump: ‘Treat Cuba like a dictatorship’

Frustrated by what they see as “indolence” from the previous administration, some Cuban government opponents are urging President Donald Trump to backtrack current Cuba policy and speak out about increased government repression on the island.

Antonio G. Rodiles and his partner Ailer González — both members of the Forum for Rights and Freedoms — are calling on the new administration to reset U.S.-Cuba relations and “recognize that they are dealing with a dictatorship.”

“The main thing would be for those of us who are legitimate actors on the Cuban scene — inside and outside the island — to be part of the policy design and part of that political process toward the island” unlike what former President Barack Obama did, Rodiles said during a recent meeting with el Nuevo Herald.

The couple also denounced an increase in repression since Obama announced his policy of engagement and the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba in December 2014. The situation, they said, has become worse since the death of former leader Cuban Fidel Castro in November with a “millimetric monitoring” of opponents’ actions and harassment of their families.

“It is important for the new administration to start taking action on the issue and make some statement, because silence is being very well used by the regime to try to crush the opposition,” Rodiles said.

The Cuban government opponent criticized the “indolence” of the Obama administration toward the human rights situation on the island.

“We have direct experience, including talking to President Obama, and the direct experience was that there was a lot of indolence in what happened with Cuba … There was a moment when we understood that the administration was not an ally [in the struggle for] for democratic changes in Cuba, that they had a vision that Cuba was going to change in the long term and that we would have to accept neo-Castroism,” he said.

Although he was careful not to mention what measures taken by the previous administration should be eliminated — such as sending remittances or authorizing U.S. airline travel to the island, which are popular in Cuba and within a large portion of the Cuban American community — Rodiles said he supports returning to the previous longtime policy of applying economic pressure against the Raúl Castro government, a practice Obama has referred to as a “failed policy.”

“If the regime is taking advantage of some of these measures, I’d cut that economic income,” Rodiles said. “Everything that is giving benefits to the regime and not to the people must be reversed.”

The frustration expressed by the activist couple has become increasingly evident. A video published by the Forum for Rights and Liberties and in which González exclaims, “Obama, you are finally leaving!” unleashed a whirlwind of controversy within social media networks.

According to Rodiles, Obama asked dissidents and activists during a meeting in Havana on March 22, 2016, to have patience with his policy of rapprochement.

“I told him that you can’t be patient when they are kicking citizens and women with impunity,” Rodiles said. The couple was among several activists arrested during a widely reported act of repudiation against dissidents on the same Sunday that Obama arrived in Havana for an historic visit.

Rodiles and González dismissed criticism by those who question their support for President Trump and claim their agenda is dictated by groups within the Cuban exile community. They said their interest is in readdressing Cuba issues not taking a position on U.S. domestic issues.

“Those same people who say that we are being radical and confrontational, are extremely unsupportive. They do not report any violation of human rights. These are hypocritical positions,” González said.

As for other strategies being carried out by other opposition groups on the island in an effort to incite change, the couple acknowledged that there are many different ideologies and approaches, which they said was a healthy element in the struggle for democracy.

“The most important thing,” Rodiles said, “is that the regime has to understand that 60 years is more than enough, and that it’s over.”

Mary Anastasia O’Grady: Cuba Kills Another Dissident

The Wall Street Journal, by By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

After Obama’s detente: More tourists on the island and more repression.

Score another kill for the Cuban military dictatorship: Last month it eliminated Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández, an inmate of one of its most notoriously brutal prisons.

The remarkable thing was not the death of a critic. That’s routine in a police state that holds all the guns, bayonets, money and food. What’s noteworthy is that the world hardly blinked, which is to say that two years after President Obama’s detente with Raúl Castro, the regime still dispatches adversaries with impunity. It also routinely blocks visitors to the island, even of the leftist stripe—more on this in a moment—in order to keep the population isolated. “Normalization” to the contrary, Cuba is the same totalitarian hellhole that it has been for the past 58 years.

Forty-five-year-old Más Hernández was a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, a group working for a peaceful transition to democracy. He was healthy when he was arrested in June and sentenced to four years in prison for “disrespect for authority”—a k a failure to bow to the masters of the slave plantation. His real crime was advocating for a free Cuba while black. There are few more lethal combinations.

The black Cuban is supposed to show gratitude to the revolution to sustain the myth that he has been elevated by communism. The grim reality is the opposite, but heaven help those who dare to say so.

In November, Más Hernández was transferred to Combinado del Este prison, a dungeon not fit for animals. There he developed a kidney infection. His wife told the independent media in Cuba that he lost almost 35 pounds. According to his overlords he died on Feb. 24 of a “heart attack.” Funny, that epidemic of heart disease among those who cross Castro.

His death ought to prick the conscience of the free world. But while the island is crawling with foreign news bureaus, the story has not appeared in the English-language press. President Obama may have opened Cuba to more tourists, but the regime takes pains to keep its 11 million captive souls and their misery invisible.

The Castro family is a crime syndicate and many American businesses want a piece of the action. Sheraton Four Points now runs a hotel owned by the military regime. The luggage company Tumi spent the winter promoting Cuba travel on its website. (Note to self: Buy that new suitcase from someone who isn’t blind to tyranny.) The upshot is that more U.S. dollars flow to Cuba’s military coffers than ever before.

Mr. Obama argued that more contact with outsiders would empower Cubans. The regime agrees. It has been open to foreign tourism and investment since the end of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s, and millions of Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians have flooded the country. But its secret police keep a tight leash on visitors.

British real-estate developer Stephen Purvis, Canadian businessmen Cy Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian and U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross all did time in Cuban jails for being too independent of the mob boss.

Last month Castro took the audacious step of refusing visas to three prominent Latin American politicians who could hardly be regarded as enemies of Cuba.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro was invited to Cuba by Rosa María Payá. She is the daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a suspicious car accident in the summer of 2012. Mr. Almagro was slated to receive an award named for Ms. Payá’s father from the Latin America Youth Network for Democracy. But Mr. Almagro, who is a Uruguayan leftist, was denied entry to the island.

The regime also blocked Mariana Aylwin, the daughter of Patricio Aylwin, the first elected Chilean president post-Pinochet. Ms. Aylwin is a Christian Democrat and a former education minister and was to accept a posthumous award for her late father. She remains an important voice in the Chilean Christian Democrat Party, which is a member, with the Communist Party among others, of the governing coalition.

Ms. Payá also invited former Mexican President Felipe Calderón to the event. Mr. Calderón is a member of Mexico’s center-right PAN, but as head of state he was friendly toward Cuba. One memorable moment was when he welcomed Raúl at the Rio Group summit on the Mayan Riviera in 2010 at a time when Orlando Zapata, another black Cuban dissident, lay dying in a military prison. Mr. Calderón was also denied a visa.

Cuba is not reforming. As always, dissidents are sent to prison death traps, and now Castro insults highly placed onetime friends by refusing them access to the island. Tourists are welcome, but only to drink state propaganda and leave behind hard currency. Any suggestion that Cubans have a right to self-determination remains a crime against the state.

Pastor and Wife Arrested for Homeschooling Children in ‘Normalized’ Cuba

Breitbart News

A pastor and his wife have been arrested in Cuba for homeschooling their children, according to Mike Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association, a U.S.-based organization that has offered legal assistance to homeschooling families since 1983.
Donnelly wrote about Cuban pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife Adya, who were arrested on Feb. 21, on the HSDA website on Monday.

“The Obama administration argued that normal relations with Cuba would lead to improved conditions for Cubans,” Donnely wrote. “But things have not gotten better for homeschoolers.”

“We wanted the freedom to give our children the education that we, the parents, have chosen,” Ramón said. “As Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, every parent has the right to give his children the education that he chooses.”

“The Municipal Office of Education in Guantánamo wrote to Ramón explaining, among other things, that ‘in our system, homeschooling is not considered an educational institution, as this term is basically used in countries with capitalist foundations,’” according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

“The letter also stated that the Cuban penal code provides sanctions for a person who ‘leads a minor to abandon his home, be absent from school, refuse educational work that is inherent to the national system of education, or fail to fulfill his duties related to the respect and love for the homeland.’”

Donnelly said this stance violates international human rights law — something characteristic of totalitarian regimes like the one in Cuba.

“A government that denies parents the right to choose how their children are educated, including home education, violates fundamental norms of international human rights law,” Donnelly told Breitbart News.

In the article, Donnelly said Cuba should “meet certain minimum norms” to be part of the global community.

“If Cuba plans to join the community of nations, especially having a relationship with the United States, it should be expected to meet certain minimum norms in the way it treats its citizens,” Donnelly wrote in the article. “The right of people to establish private schools and to homeschool is a minimum expectation.

“A society that forces its children to learn only in public school is totalitarian and Cuba’s long history of totalitarian behavior in many areas including education must change now,” wrote Donnelly, who also sent a letter to the Senior Minister of Education in Cuba on behalf of the family.

He did not receive a response.

Donnelly pointed out in his article that the U.S.’s Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 states that U.S. policy should oppose the human rights violations of the Castro regime, to maintain sanctions “so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights” and to “be prepared to reduce the sanctions in carefully calibrated ways in response to positive developments in Cuba.”

Donnelly also cited President Barack Obama’s 2016 memorandum that said normalizing relations with Cuba would help human rights.

“Our vision for U.S.-Cuba normalization reflects my Administration’s support for broad-based economic growth, stability, increased people-to-people ties, and respect for human rights and democratic values in the region,” then-President Obama wrote in the memorandum. “Our policy is designed to support Cubans’ ability to exercise their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, with the expectation that greater commerce will give a broader segment of the Cuban people the information and resources they need to achieve a prosperous and sustainable future.”

“Ramón wants to be able to stay in Cuba to pastor his congregation. But it is no wonder that Ramón and his family, after being treated like this simply because they homeschool, have expressed a desire to seek refuge in a country that would respect their rights to educate their children,” wrote Donnelly, who called on the Cuban government to respect parents’ rights and the U.S. government to hold it accountable.

“A government that is unwilling to trust its citizens to homeschool is not worthy of trust from its citizens,” Donnelly wrote. “We call on Cuba to respect Pastor Rigale’s right and to end its prosecution of his family.

“We hope that members of Congress and the Trump administration will take an interest in this case and take action to defend the Rigals and others like them,” Donnelly wrote.

Chile demands explanation from Cuba after ex-minister denied entry

Reuters

Chile said Tuesday it was recalling its ambassador to Cuba for consultation and speaking to the Cuban government to establish why a prominent former minister was blocked from entering Cuba on Monday night.

Mariana Aylwin, a former education minister and daughter of ex-president Patricio Aylwin, was travelling to the island to receive a prize on behalf of her father. The event, planned for Wednesday, was organised by the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy, which has been critical of the Cuban government.

The organisation has also invited Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States, which suspended Cuba in 1962 for being Communist.

While the Washington-based OAS agreed in 2009 to lift the Cold War ruling, Cuba declined to rejoin the group, which it deems an imperialist instrument of its former Cold War foe the United States.

Aylwin was prevented from checking in to her flight in Chile’s capital, Santiago, apparently at the request of the Cuban authorities, she told journalists on Tuesday.

“Exercising the right (to travel between nations) should not be interfered with, especially given that Chile has recognised the feats of various figures in Cuban history and politics,” Chile’s Foreign Relations Ministry said in a statement.

Mariana Aylwin served in Congress in the 1990s for Chile’s centrist Christian Democratic Party, and later as minister in the 2000s under centre-left president Ricardo Lagos, who is running for president in Chile’s 2017 elections.

She is seen as an ideological leader of the most conservative segment of Chile’s centre-left ruling coalition.

Her father was Chile’s first democratically elected president after the 1973 to 1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and is credited with successfully overseeing the nation’s fragile political transition.

Top diplomat to accept award from democracy group in Cuba

Associated Press

A prominent diplomat is planning a politically sensitive trip to Cuba to accept an award from a pro-democracy group on the island.

Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, will travel to Cuba next week to accept the Oswaldo Paya Prize from the Latin America Youth Network for Democracy, a spokesman for the regional organization said Wednesday.

Spokesman Gonzalo Ezpariz confirmed Almagro’s plans but declined to disclose details of a trip that could touch a nerve in Cuba, which has opened its economy to a degree but remains a one-party state and has had a rocky relationship with the OAS. He did not know if Cuban authorities had issued a visa for the secretary general.

The Cuban Embassy in Washington had no immediate comment.

The prize is named for a leader of a movement that sought a referendum on free speech and other political freedoms. Paya died in a 2012 car crash that his family blames on the government. His daughter, Rosa Maria Paya, leads the group recognizing Almagro with an award intended to raise awareness about what it sees as abuses by the region’s governments.

Almagro, a former foreign minister of Uruguay, received the daughter in his office in October, when they signed an agreement in which the OAS offered support to young activists in Latin America and the Caribbean and to expand efforts to promote human rights and civic participation in electoral processes around the region.

Cuba was suspended from the Washington-based Organization of American States in 1962. The suspension was annulled in 2009 but Cuba has not moved to rejoin the organization, which was created to promote regional cooperation but has been viewed by Havana as dominated by the United States.

Given that history, it would be unprecedented for an OAS secretary general to travel to the island to accept an award named for a Cuban dissident, said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there are doubts about whether the Cuban government will admit a high official to talk about internal democracy and human rights, subjects that are still very sensitive,” Arnson said.

But Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, said Havana would likely provoke sharp reactions in Washington and elsewhere if it blocked Almagro’s visit when the government of President Raul Castro is opening up more to the world with economic reforms and amid the restoration of formal relations with the United States.

“To receive a human rights prize in no way threatens the Cuban government,” he said. “They won’t be happy and they will criticize it but they should let him in.”

A £25,000 wedding from Hell in Cuba: Hotel roof collapsed on top of bride, groom and guests

Click here to se many more photos The Sun

WEDDING FROM HELL Couple left distraught after dream £25,000 Cuba wedding turns to disaster when hotel roof COLLAPSED leaving bride permanently scarred and groom with broken ribs
Sarah and John Wenham were both injured the day before the wedding of their dreams

A BRIDE and groom had their dream wedding destroyed after the roof of their hotel lobby collapsed – trapping their family and guests under debris.

Sarah and John Wenham had saved for years for ‘the wedding of their dreams’ in Cuba, costing more than £25,000 for themselves and 24 guests.

But they were left fearing for their lives when the lobby roof at Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel, in Cuba, suddenly buckled and collapsed – trapping them underneath and injuring many members of the wedding party, including the bride.

Sarah, 35, said: “We were just about to meet with hotel staff to discuss our wedding plans in the lobby, when John pointed out the ceiling as it started to move.

“A loud ‘bang’ followed as the roof then suddenly collapsed and fell upon us, trapping us underneath.”

Tour company Thomas Cook have now apologised for the incident in August last year, saying they had done “everything we could” to support the family.

Sarah relived the horror, saying that roof debris knocked the group “clean to the ground”.

She said: “It was so heavy that I couldn’t move under it, and I was terrified because I couldn’t get to my daughters who I could hear screaming from somewhere beneath the debris.

“I saw the blood start to gush from my head and I genuinely thought in that moment that I was going to die.”

John, from Gravesend, Kent, says he looked up after they had been in the lobby for around ten minutes to find the ceiling moving.

He shouted at Sarah and their nine-year-old daughter Mia to run, pushing them out of the way.

But as the ceiling fell, he leaped in front of baby Penny, 20-months, to shield her from the debris, taking the brunt of the weight.

John added: “It was horrifying – sheer fright.

“When we eventually found Sarah, it took two people to lift the debris off her and I had to crawl underneath and drag her out.

“After the incident, we were all traumatised.

“We didn’t know what to do for the best.

“In one split-second everything we’d planned and saved for so long was gone.

“We felt terrible that so many people had spent so much money and had travelled so far to be with us for our special day and then this happened.

“So when we were told that the wedding could still go ahead at another venue at the last minute, we felt we had no option but to go ahead with it.

“Unfortunately, we’ll now always remember the wedding as being a distraction from the horrifying events of the day before.

“We couldn’t enjoy it and we just wanted to go home.

“That’s not how we should remember our wedding day.”

John was left with two fractured ribs, an injured spleen and severe bruising.

Sarah suffered head and eye injuries and required ten stitches to a deep laceration on her face, which is now likely to leave a permanent scar.

Several other members of the wedding party suffered serious injuries, including head and spinal injuries, a leg fracture and a deep head laceration, with one guest requiring 19 stitches across the top of her scalp.

John said: “The only way we could get over it was to have the wedding, to try and mask what had happened.

“Sarah won’t look at the pictures because she’s got stitches on her face – it shouldn’t be like that.

“I couldn’t walk properly, I couldn’t lift her over threshold and I couldn’t even pick the kids up for five to six weeks.”

When the couple did have their ceremony at a different hotel, Playa Pesquero, it was in the foyer, and not the beach wedding they had planned.

But this was far from the end of the couple’s problems.

Even before the roof collapse, on just the second day of their disastrous holiday, Sarah and John’s hotel room was flooded with sewage, damaging clothes, their children’s toys and un-opened wedding gifts.

The couple say despite their bags and clothing being ruined, their belongings were never replaced.

In other rooms there were exposed wires which John, an electrician, described as looking ‘deadly’.

John and many of the other guests, including Mia and Penny, also suffered from diarrhoea and sickness throughout the holiday – later confirmed to be salmonella.

The couple have now instructed personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to take legal action against tour operator, Thomas Cook.

Jennifer Lund, a partner in the specialist international personal injury team at Irwin Mitchell, representing the group, said: “Sarah, John and their closest family and friends should have been overjoyed on what was supposed to have been an incredible holiday, centred around a magical wedding day.

“Instead, the whole trip ended up being a terrifying ordeal that will forever be etched in their memories for all of the wrong reasons.

“We are investigating the cause of the roof collapse at the Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel as well as the group’s other complaints.

“We are seeking to recover a settlement to help each of our clients with their recovery and to compensate them following the dreadful ordeal they have suffered.

“Our thoughts are with all of those injured, and we wish them a speedy recovery.

“We would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the roof collapse or its aftermath or who can provide information about illnesses suffered by guests during stays at the Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel, as they may be able to help with our enquiries.”

A Thomas Cook spokesperson said: “Clearly this is totally unacceptable and we are in close contact with the hotel to understand how it happened.

“We are very sorry and disappointed that this occurred on what should have been such a happy occasion.

“We did everything we could to support the Wenham family and all those affected after the accident, and we continue to take this matter very seriously.”

US detains 172 Cuban migrants following end of ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy

The Miami Herald

At least 172 Cuban nationals who tried to enter the United States following the end to an immigration policy known as “wet foot, dry foot” are now in detention facilities, awaiting for the results of their removal proceedings, federal agencies have confirmed.

Exactly where they are being held was not revealed.

“Since January 14, there has been an increase of 172 Cuban nationals in ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention,” an ICE official said.

The official also said that two people had already been “removed” to Cuba but did not clarify whether they are the same two Cuban rafters that a Coast Guard spokeswoman said had been intercepted since the end of wet foot, dry foot.

The fact that only two Cubans have been interdicted by the Coast Guard since the end of the policy demonstrates how effective the change, implemented by former President Barack Obama, has been in stemming the flow of Cuban migrants.

In January 2016, a total of 3,846 Cubans arrived without a visa to the United States. But from Jan. 12-31 of this year, only 426 Cubans were considered “inadmissible” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at several ports of entry, according to a CBP spokeswoman.

Most of these “inadmissable” Cubans arrived in Miami (111) or Laredo (279) on the U.S.-Mexico border.

During the same period, 1,400 Cubans were legally admitted, according to figures obtained by el Nuevo Herald.

For many years, Cubans who arrived in the United States without a visa and asked to stay were not afraid of being detained. All that ended on Jan. 12 when, in the spirit of normalizing relations with Cuba, the Obama administration eliminated the controversial wet foot, dry foot policy, which allowed most Cubans who made to U.S. soil to stay.

Those “inadmissible” Cubans who arrived after the change of policy “are either entered into removal proceedings or given the opportunity to withdraw their application” and voluntarily leave the U.S., the CBP spokesperson said.

An ICE source confirmed that there have not been deportations of Cubans from Miami as of yet.

CBP, ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to say if those 172 Cuban detainees had requested asylum, although a CBP source said that about half of the 426 “inadmissibles” had expressed fear of returning to Cuba and have begun the process of applying for asylum to avoid being removed.

Immigration proceedings for at least one couple detained in Miami and Broward have begun.

The hearing to introduce an asylum petition on behalf of Aquilino Caraballo and Georgina Hernández, 67 and 64, took place on Monday at the Krome detention center where Caraballo is being detained. His wife, Hernández is at Broward detention center, known by the acronym BTC.

They are the parents of a Hialeah resident Geidy Caraballo whom the couple had visited six times but were taken into custody upon arrival at Miami International Airport after apparently telling an immigration officer that they “wanted to stay.”

According to his lawyer, Wilfredo Allen, the couple will face trial on March 10, which in his opinion is quite “fast” for these types of cases. They will continue to be detained while the process evolves, a procedure authorities might follow from now on, he added.

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump established “the detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from the country.”

What happens in these hearings will be critical for the future of many Cubans who are still stranded in Mexico or other countries and are pondering their limited options, including the request for political asylum in the U.S.

In the meantime, the possibility that Trump restores the wet foot, dry foot policy seems ever more remote, despite the circulation of false news reports making the rounds on social networks. On Thursday in Miami, Rep. Carlos Curbelo R-FL said that the end of the special treatment for Cubans was inevitable.

“We knew that the policy had many shortcomings,” he said. “We didn’t think that the Obama White House would act so unexpectedly, at the last minute, but I think that everyone recognized that the policy was causing a difficult situation here in the United States and in Cuba.”

 

Trump administration reviewing Cuba policy: White House spokesman

Reuters

The Trump administration is in the midst “of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba,” with a focus on its human rights policies, as part of a commitment to such rights for citizens throughout the world, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer made the comment during a press conference in response to a question about whether the administration of President Donald Trump planned any policy changes toward Cuba.