Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Diplomatic Relations
By PETER BAKERDEC. 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.
In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast.
“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”
The contractor, Alan P. Gross, traveled on an American government plane to the United States late Wednesday morning, and the United States sent back three Cuban spies who had been in an American prison since 2001. American officials said the Cuban spies were swapped for a United States intelligence agent who had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years, and said Mr. Gross was not technically part of the swap, but was released separately on “humanitarian grounds.”
In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the president called for an “honest and serious debate about lifting” it.
“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”
Addressing critics of his new approach, he said he shares their commitment to freedom. “The question is how do we uphold that commitment,” he said. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”
Mr. Castro spoke simultaneously on Cuban television, taking to the airwaves with no introduction and announcing that he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Obama. “We have been able to advance the solutions of some themes of interest to both nations,” he said. “This decision of President Obama deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people.”
“This does not mean the principal issue has been resolved,” he added. “The blockade which causes much human and economic damage to our country should cease.”
“The Americas Group Cuba Business Enterprise (TAGCBE) signs an MOU to sell control to Fuego Enterprises, Inc., a publicly traded company”
CORAL GABLES, Florida, January 23, 2013
The Americas Group Cuba Business Enterprise (TAGCBE), a company focused on providing strategic advice to individuals and companies interested in doing business with Cuba and /or investing in Cuba as regulations permit, has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sell control of TAGCBE to Cuba Business Development Group Inc. (CBDG) in exchange for shares in its parent Company, Fuego Enterprises, Inc. Symbol: FUGI.
TAGCBE is a division of The Americas Group which has extensive relationships with foreign companies currently doing business in Cuba through its 40 years presence in Latin America and in additional developing markets. Cuba is one of the great remaining "last frontiers" in the Western Hemisphere which presents enormous opportunities for U.S. business interests due in part to its size, diverse and beautiful environment and, most significantly, its geographic proximity to the mainland United States.
TAGCBE believes it is timely and important for U.S. Companies to seriously begin monitoring the prospects and environment for doing business in Cuba and to begin tracking the Cuban market and policies, so they are prepared to make a move when the regulations permit. Towards that end we have assembled a group of synergistic investor partners with expertise and skills in a broad variety of sectors.
Howard Glicken, Chairman of the Board of TAGCBE and The Americas Group said, “CBDG and Fuego will provide an exceptionally well connected presence in Cuba through their current business in Havana and 20 years of experience in doing business in Cuba, which will provide TAGCBE the in country management experience we have been seeking to execute our mission. We are very pleased to be working with such a high quality group.”
CBDG, a fully owned subsidiary of Fuego Enterprises, Inc. (FUGI), provides strategic and business solutions for opportunities in Cuba and the Caribbean basin markets. The company currently owns and/or manages or is an associate in a number of separate business segments with direct relationships in Cuba. The company currently provides strategic consulting services to businesses with an interest in the Cuban market in the delivery of international products, services and technologies into in a number of segments such as telecommunications, gift parcels and cargo transportation to and from Cuba. The company through its media group is committed to support all group-related products and services.
Fuego Enterprises, Inc. is a diversified holdings company with operations in media and entertainment. Fuego specializes in the production, promotion and distribution of Cuban media entertainment services with cultural relevance within the United States and the world. Fuego, also publishes OnCuba (www.oncubamagazine.com), the first Cuba focused monthly bi-lingual magazine publication with national distribution in the US. OnCuba is published in both print and electronic formats and is distributed in over 59 Barnes & Nobel stores throughout the United States. It is also distributed in Cuba and is the official and exclusive “in-flight” magazine for almost all flights from the US to Cuba.
CBDG, though it subsidiaries Mobile Activation Services (http://www.mascell.com) and Universal Network Operations Cargo (UNOcargo) owns licenses granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to conduct certain international trade, free of certain restrictions under U.S. laws prohibiting financial dealings with Cuba. Consistent with the U.S. guidelines of the Trade Sanctions Reforms and Export Enhancement Act, CBDG intends to operate a number of Cuban business initiatives pursuant to these license agreements. In exchange for consulting fees, CBDG also intends to assist other U.S. businesses export their products and services to Cuba
Hugo Cancio, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Fuego Enterprises and CBDG will become Chairman and CEO of The Americas Group Cuba Business Enterprise (TAGCBE). Cancio said, “This acquisition fully fits with our strategy to drive growth in key areas and markets where we are able to fully leverage our unique expertise, capitalize on years of experience and solid relationships, and deliver shareholder value with stronger and more stable growth. We are very excited about our association with the prestigious Americas Group.”
U.S. Cuba Travel Summit: The Company co-sponsored the U.S. Cuba Travel Summit in Cancun, Mexico on March 24 – 26, 2010 organized by Kirby Jones and Alamar Associates with the National Travel Association and the United States Tour Operators Association. This “historic gathering” was attended by the highest level Cuban Delegation to meet with U.S business interests in almost 50 years.
The Cuban Delegation included: Manuel Marrero, Minister of Tourism Republic of Cuba (Son-in-Law of Raul Castro), Ambassador Jorge Bolanos, Chief of the Cuba Interest Section in U.S., José Miguel Díaz Escrich, President of Marlins Nautica Marinas (Government Corporation in charge of all marinas and marina development), Abelardo Fernández, President, Palmares Grupo Empresarial Extrahotelero (Government Corporation in charge of all golf course and recreational development), Ing. Luis E. Sotolongo, President, San Cristobal Agencia de Viajes (Government Corporation and major tour operator in Cuba), Luis Miguel Díaz, President, Cubancan Grupo (Government Corporation which owns over 50 hotels in Cuba), Josefina Vidal, Director of North America Ministry of Foreign Investment Republic of Cuba and several others. This group collectively represented the majority of entities controlling travel and tourism in Cuba.
The American attendees numbering close to 100 included important tour operators, cruise line executives, hotel representatives, tourism developers and investors, golf course developers and airline officials. The high quality interaction between the Cuban and American attendees provided a leading edge in learning about the business opportunities in Cuba and the experiences of firms already doing business in Cuba. The anticipation of the opening of Cuba to unlimited travel by U.S. citizens and the enormous impact and opportunities that it will create was discussed, including practical suggestions on how to prepare to do business in Cuba. Senator Byron Dorgan, sponsor in the Senate of the bill to allow U.S. travel to Cuba joined the conference via teleconference and indicated he had the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation. The feedback and resultant opportunities created for TAGCBE from the conference have been substantial.
Cuban Americans: The Obama Administration announced unlimited travel and spending for Cuban Americans with family in Cuba with the result that in about a year and a half travel to Cuba by that group increased from 100 thousand to 400 thousand.
Entrepreneurial Enterprises: The Cuban Government opens regulations to allow for 500,000 private entrepreneurial businesses.
Authorization of Private Sales: The Cuban Government announced it will allow the private sale and purchase of all types of materials including equipment and automobiles.
Private Property Ownership: The Cuban Government approved the purchase and sale of property (buildings, homes, land) subject to certain limitations.
Person to Person Travel: The Obama Administration approved significantly more liberalized “person to person” broadly defined travel by all Americans to Cuba who qualify and/or participate with licensed or approved categories: religious organizations, schools, universities, ngo’s, charitable organizations, non-profit enterprises, cultural entities and organizations and others.
Pope Visit: Pope Benedict XVI makes a historical visit to Cuba and proposes positive changes and more liberal opening of the country.
College Democrats of America
Howard M Glicken Chairman of the Board
(Washington D.C. July 9, 2012) The College Democrats of America (CDA) are thrilled to announce reconstituting the CDA Board of Directors. The Board will consist of elected officials and party leaders who will actively advocate and support the work of College Democrats across the country. We are especially excited that former Democratic National Committee Vice Chair of Finance and longtime party activist and leader, Howard M Glicken, has agreed to serve as Chairman of the Board.
Mr. Glicken served as Chairman of the CDA Board for ten years during the 1990s, where he was instrumental in helping the College Democrats develop chapters across the country and build its presence and participation within the Democratic Party nationally.
“We are overjoyed that Howard will be leading our efforts to build a new CDA Board of Directors,” CDA President Alejandra Salinas said. “The Board of Directors will help the CDA team advocate for the youth in our country at the highest levels of the Democratic Party and put resources directly in the hands of our state and chapter leaders.”
Howard Glicken said, “I am thrilled to rejoin the College Democrats family. For ten years, I vehemently expressed to Democratic Party leaders throughout the country that, the future of this country and our party are the youth. We need to provide them with an opportunity to become involved and participate in the system. They will be our future leaders. I am looking forward to helping Alejandra and CDA continue to spread that message. That message is more important than ever today given the climate in Washington. I will do everything I can to make sure we are heard and can participate in helping make our country a better place for all.”
Mr. Glicken also served as a member of the National Finance Board of Directors and a Managing Trustee of the Democratic Party. He was a member of the Chairman’s Council of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a Trustee of the Florida Democratic Party, State Finance Chair for Al Gore for President 1988, State Finance Chair for Sen. Bob Kerrey for President in 1992, State Co-Finance Chair for President Clinton and a Trustee of the Vice President’s Residence Foundation.
“Howard brings incredible experiences and relationships to the Board of Directors,” CDA Vice President Jeremy Feigenbaum noted, “and most importantly, he brings an understanding of what it takes to run a youth organization, and he is dedicated to supporting our work. We will enter 2012 more prepared than ever before.”
College Democrats of America (CDA)
The College Democrats of America is a National Democratic Organization consisting of over 1100 Colleges and Universities with more than 100,000 student members. The mission is to actively participate, support and influence the Democratic Party on a local, state and national level. Many of the CDA members over the years have gone on to successful government and public service careers.