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American Ex-Diplomats Ask Trump to End Obama’s Appeasement of Cuba

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Jan 5, 2017, 2:54 pm
Donald Trump faces tough decisions regarding rolling back aspects of Obama's Cuba policy (
Donald Trump faces tough decisions regarding rolling back aspects of Obama’s Cuba policy (Vice).

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A group of five US ex-diplomats, with extensive experience in Latin American affairs, sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to revoke the executive orders issued by President Barack Obama through which he softened the sanctions on Cuba. They also asked Trump not to allow further collaboration with the island’s security forces.

These diplomats urge the Republican to enact this nullification in his first 100 days of government: “The ill-conceived and illegal executive orders that lifted restrictions on doing business with the Castro regime” should be revoked “as soon as possible.”

The signatories to this letter are Everett Ellis Briggs, who served as ambassador to Panama and Honduras, as well as special assistant to George Bush on the National Security Council. It also includes Elliot Abrams and Otto Reich, both ex-subsecretaries of State for Latin America. Rounding out the group are ex-Ambassador to the United Nations José S. Sorzano and the former head of the United States diplomatic mission in Havana and Mayor of Coral Gables, James C. Cason.

“We want him to take a new look at politics toward Cuba,” Cason said of Trump: “We have given too much. We should take a step back, reconsider – not completely break off the relationship, but certainly not give anything else,” he said.

For his part, the president-elect has promised to end these thawing measures if the Cuban government “does not offer concessions.” In this regard, Obama sympathizers fear that Trump will live up to his promise, especially because of the political debt he has Florida’s large Cuban community which largely supported him in his presidential bid.

“One of the most important things we must do is to cancel this cooperation with the security agencies,” said Reich, who believes that the US should not cut everything, but seriously evaluate what Obama did: “We should consider measures which help the people of Cuba directly, but not those which send money to the Communist Party of Cuba, nor to the Gaesa military conglomerate, nor the Cuban Armed Forces.”

In their statement, the ex-diplomats also criticized the United States’ actions in the Organization of American States (OAS), as ambassador Samantha Power abstained from voting on a resolution that Cuba periodically presents to condemn the American embargo. “It’s scandalous,” Sorzano said, adding that “the administration has abandoned its constitutional responsibilities to uphold the law.”

This letter was coordinated by the Center for a Free Cuba in order to “remind the president-elect of the promises that he made to Cuban-Americans; we hope he will not follow the same course as Obama, who promised that the focus would be freedom of Cuba and then changed his mind,” said Frank Calzón, director of the center, which maintains a hard-line policy towards the island.

Source: El Nuevo Herald

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.

Argentine Peso Falls to Record Low against the Dollar

By: Raquel García - @venturaG79 - Jan 5, 2017, 2:29 pm
Recent political developments have led to much global concern over the effects of floating exchange rates (

Español The Argentine peso fell to a record low with the American dollar on Wednesday, January 4, evidencing skyrocketing demand for the greenback, and insufficient supply. Financial news site Ámbito reported that the dollar skyrocketed 18 cents to ARS $16.38 in exchange houses and banks of the capital city Buenos Aires, surpassing the previous high last December 12, when it reached a level of ARS $16.28. Read More: Macri Maintains Kirchner Era Price Controls in Argentina Read More: Argentina President Macri Could be Investigated for Fraud in Bond Sales In the banks and foreign trade sector, the currency surged 15 cents, exceeding ARS $16, and closing at ARS $ 16.115. This figure also represents a historical low. Traders told Ámbito that the demand for the dollar always held above ARS $16, because supply was insufficient for existing purchase orders. Sebastián Centurión, of ABC Mercado de Cambio, told Ámbito that firm demand was noticed after Lebac rates (debt securities) dropped. The situation was further exacerbated by Argentine purchases of the dollar for tourism, which is customary at this time of year. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); The analyst added that at the same time offer has fallen "because the official banks abandoned the stance they adopted during the so-called "rain of currency" which aimed to combat money laundering while also containing the rising dollar. The new historical high for the dollar came a day after the Central Bank (BCRA) implemented a new 7 day benchmark for setting monetary policy, instead of the 35-day Lebac rate. From Tuesday, January 3, on, the shortest stretch was 42 days. The so-called blue dollar (semi-legal currency exchange) fell 15 cents and hit the ARS $17 floor, closing at ARS $16.96, as reported by Ámbito. The gap between the blue dollar and the official dollar fell to 3.5%, the smallest in two weeks. Meanwhile, Central Bank reserves increased by US $ 88million from the previous business day to US $ 39.6 billion. Source: Ambito

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