Hot off the bench changes declared on Friday marked the biggest moment in U.S.-Cuba relations in over half a century. Tourism will continue to be off-limits for some time, but President Obama and his staff have generated new opportunities on the island for financial, travel, and telecommunications companies, along with American citizens. Unlike the past 50 years, Americans who have business in the country can now be housed on Cuba without requesting special permissions from the American government.
Currently, just about a handful of flights leave the Miami International Airport for Cuban cities every day. Most of the passengers are native Cubans going back home. They usually return with goods in bulk that are difficult to obtain in their home country. However, there are limitations placed on travel between the two nations. Americans cannot travel to Cuba for tourism, however, for sporting events, or religious or humanitarian reasons, they will be able to fly to there to participate.
Another important revision is now that U.S. airports are allowed to proffer flights to the country, but they must hammer out agreements with Cuban authorities for the rights to land in their airports. Armando Garcia of Marazul Charters in Miami says the main question is the number of American visitors the island, a nation that holds only a maximum of 35,000 lodging vacancies, can provide space for them all comfortably.
Garcia says that with the limited space the nation has available, coupled the limited number of trips it will no doubt force, the nation may not be able to easily replace the revenue lost from their Venezuelan oil deal. Venezuela’s oil largesse was the backbone of the nation’s financial agenda. Since the 2003 “Cooperation Agreement,” Venezuela has been sending 115,000 barrels of oil/day to the island. In turn, they then would usually re-export some of the crude oil to other countries, and the island raked in $765 million in 2014. That revenue is a vital source for an island that lacks many other goods that could be sold for hard currency.
Under the new regulations, United States’ banks can initiate relationships with Cuban financial institutions and permit Americans to shop using credit cards. These new innovations could help the country’s economy in the long-term, as they house tourists from America and commence trade with American businesses may be the next change to come.
Peter Quinter, a member of Gray Robinson’s International trading organization, mentioned that Cuba is a point of interest on the current list naming nations that sponsor terrorist cells. Obama requested an investigation to determine whether to erase Cuba off of it, but the investigation will take months. While the State Department conducts the investigation, Congress will continue to enforce a cease on trade between the U.S. and Cuba, and most likely will not lift it before the investigation ends.
John Parke Wright, a native entrepreneur in Florida, says that it is too late to prevent the wheels from spinning.Wright wholeheartedly believes there is no one in a position to stop things from progressing further. If Wright is proven true, assuming the investigation ends positively, then Cuba will grow from being able to house trades and business from American citizens and companies, and it is starting right now with the flight deal.
By Matthew Austin Bowers
Photo by Junior Henry – Flickr License