|Trump reasserts hardline US policy on Cuba, restricts business, travel – Cuba
US President Donald Trump unveiled a major reversal on US-Cuba policy Friday, putting a fresh chill on recently thawing economic ties with revised policies, including a ban on US firms conducting business with the Cuban military and the reinstatement of the individual travel ban.
Dispelling the softening of ties, Trump reasserted a hardline adversarial stance against Raúl Castro’s government, demanding the release of political prisoners, legalization of political parties, adoption of rights of assembly and expression, as well as international observed democratic elections before lifting the embargo first enacted in March 1958.
The president noted the US embassy in Cuba would remain open and ready to work with Cuba if it is willing to comply.
Perhaps the most significant plank in the revised position is that of the ban on business with Cuban military, including the military-owned business conglomerate GAESA, which is estimated to control around 60% of the Cuban economy through monopolies.
“The new policy channels economic activities away from the Cuban military monopoly, Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA), including most travel-related transactions, while allowing American individuals and entities to develop economic ties to the private, small business sector in Cuba,” noted a statement from the US government.
“The basic policy driver was his concern that the previous policy was enriching the Cuban military and the intelligence services that contribute so much to oppression on the island. And that’s the opposite of what he wanted to achieve, which is to have the benefits of any economic commerce with the United States go to the Cuban people,” said a senior White House administration official in a press briefing.
The tone of Trump’s announcement, made before a cheering audience in Miami rife with Cuban exiles and refugees, may be of greater political import than the substance of the revised policies, which left intact aspects of the travel and business provisions expanded under President Barack Obama.
The nationally televised event – reminiscent of a raucous campaign rally – reflected an obvious appeal to anti-Castro, pro-embargo Republicans in south Florida, which will be key to any hope for the embattled president’s reelection.
Under the new restrictions, travel can still occur for a number of purposes, including for business and visiting family members, via formally organized group trips. Visitors returning to the US may, however, face enhanced screening to ensure they did not go to Cuba to support tourism.
The administration official also said the revised policy would not alter the so-called “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy regarding Cuban refugees arriving to US shores, but Trump did say in his speech the US would “keep in place the safeguards that protect Cubans risking their lives for unlawful travel to the United States … we are going to be safeguarding those people.”
The policy memorandum directs the Treasury and Commerce Departments to begin the process of issuing new regulations within 30 days.
Jamaica developing interactive gaming regulations – Jamaica
The Jamaican government is developing regulations to govern interactive and online gambling.
“Due to the expanded use of technology and the need to facilitate the growth of the industry, we, as a government, have decided to fast-track legislation for interactive/online gambling,” finance minister Audley Shaw was quoted as saying at the Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit earlier this month.
“Already, we have seen a growth in the mobile betting market, with a few local punters and Caymanas Track Limited offering text betting.”
Shaw added that the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is in the process of drafting regulations for a licensing regime as well as provide regulatory supervision for operators of interactive gaming.
“Even as we keep pace with developments, we are also mindful of the vulnerability of the industry to be used by criminals for money laundering. This concern is what gave rise to the de-risking initiatives of large banks that has spurred smaller firms to improve their own supervisory protocols,” Shaw was quoted as saying by Jamaica Information Service.
At the June 14 event in Montego Bay, the minister also announced the merger of three state-run entities – BGLC, Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), and Casino Gaming Commission – into the new Jamaica Gaming Commission by year end.
“(It) will allow us to better position Jamaica to take advantage of the emerging product offerings that now characterise the global landscape, such as Internet and mobile gaming and their offshoots, which include virtual and fantasy betting. It will also provide the authorities with the flexibility to guide and promote the continued growth of the sector,” he noted.
C&W to invest US$220mn in Panama – Panama
Cable & Wireless Panama (CWP) will invest US$220mn in the country over two years to improve service quality, local media reported.
During a visit to Panama, Mike Fries (pictured), CEO of CWP’s parent company Liberty Global, said the investments will be used for improving mobile infrastructure, replacing copper wire with fiber optic, and strengthening services for the business and government segments.
Fries said the company plans to constantly invest in Panama over the next 10 years, the reports said.
Liberty Global completed the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications last year for US$7.4bn, expanding its footprint in the Caribbean and adding an undersea cable stretching into South America.
Brazil leads LatAm spectrum allocation – Regional
Brazil is the only Latin American country to have awarded over 30% of radio spectrum suggested by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) by the year 2020, industry association 5G Americas said.
However, no country in the region allocated at least the 35% of the 1,960 MHz of radio spectrum that the ITU recommends by that date.
According to the Analysis of ITU Spectrum Recommendations in Latin America report, Brazil has to date allocated the equivalent of 31.1% of the 1,960 MHz that ITU suggests be allotted to 3G and 4G technologies.
Brazil is followed by Chile (24% of the goal), Mexico (23.7%), Argentina (23.6%), Costa Rica (23.5%), and Nicaragua (21.4%).
Using as a parameter the ITU recommendation of 1,300 MHz for 2015, by March 2017 only seven markets exceeded 30% of the goal and eight were above 20%. Meanwhile, three countries were below 20%.
By March, LatAm markets had allocated an average of 350.74 MHz.
The association said that the region’s countries must work together on a spectrum plan to benefit from infrastructure economies of scale, as well as the possibility of LTE broadband roaming.
By March 2017, the 850 MHz band was the only common spectrum offered in all Latin American markets. In 13 of them, the 1.7/2.1 GHz band was awarded and eight markets allowed the use of the 2.5 GHz (2500 MHz to 2690 MHz) band for mobile services. Ten countries sold the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband.
(Source: 5G Americas)
Uber given reprieve in Colombia, Costa Rica – Colombia, Costa Rica
Ride-sharing app Uber will be able to continue operating in Colombia, at least for now, as a court dismissed a legal claim filed by the transport ministry.
The ministry sought to block the app in order to protect the use of public goods, mainly radio spectrum, users’ rights, and free competition.
A court in Cundinamarca department dismissed the ministry’s claim, stating that a similar allegation had been previously presented against Uber by the country’s cab drivers. According to the court, both claims must be integrated so that a single legal process can take place.
ICT ministry Mintic has clashed with the transport ministry as the former has said that banning an app goes against its mission of promoting technology in the country.
The ride-sharing app also dodged a bullet in Costa Rica, where public services regulator Aresep said the law does not grant the entity the authority to block an app. Nonetheless, Aresep underscored that Uber is providing “an illegal service.”
Congressman Otto Guevara said banning an app would violate the right to entrepreneurship, as well as freedom of expression and association. Fellow legislator Patricia Mora echoed Guevara’s opinion, but added that regulations need to be put in place to even the playing field and end unfair competition.
The country’s taxi drivers are far from pleased with the Aresep’s decision and are discussing possible protests.