New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Marc A. Hermann/New York City MTA, CC BY 2.0)
Caribbean, Cuba, Latin America: Week in Review, North America, United States

New York Governor Visits Cuba to Build Business Ties

April 21, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York state, visited Cuba Monday to lobby for increased commercial ties between his state’s businesses and the island nation, despite the continued existence of a broader economic embargo targeting the latter.

Cuomo and his delegation met on Monday with several top Cuban officials, including Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, its Minister of Trade and Foreign Investment.

Cuomo was the first governor of a U.S. state to visit Cuba since the announcement in December that the two countries would seek to normalize relations. When Cuomo arrived in Havana, one of his staff members handed out pictures of the governor’s father — Mario Cuomo, who held the same office — meeting in the 1980s with Cuba’s then-leader, Fidel Castro. Cuomo was not expected to meet with Cuba’s current leader, Fidel’s brother Raúl, The New York Times reported.

The trade mission, on which Cuomo was joined by other New York government leaders as well as executives from the airline Jetblue and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, was reportedly set up to pursue any business opportunities that may have opened up since U.S. President Barack Obama said he would ease restrictions, according to The Associated Press.

While Obama has announced policy changes facilitating travel, remittances, and exports, most trade and investment remain illegal due to an embargo which remains under the control of the U.S. Congress. Repealing the embargo may be difficult for Obama, whose policy of rapprochement has been criticized by Congressional leaders, including House Majority Leader John Boehner, who condemned Obama’s recent decision to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Just Published in the Latin America News Dispatch

  • Stephen Ferry is an American photographer who has captured dangerous and tragic scenes of the Colombian armed conflict for twelve years. Latin America News Dispatch interviewed Ferry at the New York Institute of Photography about his book “Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict” — a collection of his and his Colombian colleagues’ photos from the conflict.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The Mexican government said it will investigate allegations that the federal police were responsible for 16 deaths of unarmed citizens during attacks in Apatzingan in January, after new evidence — including a video that reveals police using excessive force — has come to light.
  • Presidential candidate Marco Rubio discussed his plans for immigration reform, saying that securing the U.S.-Mexico border and creating a visa tracking system would be his first moves were he to become President, during a talk show appearance Sunday.


  • A small plane taking off from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, crashed while the pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing, killing all seven people on board.
  • The Clinton Foundation will no longer accept funds from the Dominican Republic after allegations that foreign governments gave money to the foundation in exchange for favors have led it to limit the countries it will work with.
  • Four towns in Puerto Rico have begun an education program to promote the island’s indigenous roots, with children learning Taino music and games as well as the Arawak language as part of a curriculum academics hope to expand throughout the U.S. territory.

Central America

  • “Honduras is the deadliest place for environmental activists,” according to a report from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, with 101 activists murdered between 2010 and 2014 mostly for their work defending land rights and fighting against logging, mining and dam construction projects.
  • A new species of frog was discovered in Costa Rica that has a translucent underside similar to that of the glass frog, but with large white eyes that makes it bear a striking resemblance to the famous Muppet Kermit the Frog.


  • FARC rebels in Colombia vowed on Monday to continue their unilateral ceasefire with the government, which also pledged its commitment to the peace process, despite a skirmish last week that left 11 soldiers dead.
  • The Chinese government has loaned $5 billion dollars to Venezuela to be used for “development,” President Nicolás Maduro announced on Sunday, more than three months after traveling to China to strengthen ties amid an economic crisis in Venezuela.

Southern Cone

  • Argentine prosecutor Javier De Luca on Monday rejected the late Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s charge that President Cristina Fernández colluded with the Iranian government to cover-up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA center in Buenos Aires. With regards to the dismissal, De Luca wrote that “there has been no crime,” and his decision marks the endpoint for the accusations initially brought forth by Nisman.
  • The ongoing scandal regarding a multi-billion kickback scheme at Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras has left tens of thousands of workers out of a job as infrastructure projects continue to be discontinued or suspended.
  • The reburial of Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda in his home town of Isla Negra, which was expected to take place this week, has been suspended after family members requested that more tests be conducted to determine the cause of his death in 1973.

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1 Comment

Babette Plana says:

Andrew Cuomo, along with Obama and many other unscrupulous individuals, have been added to the Hall of Shame. Commerce and tourism with totalitarian nations has never produced democratic reforms for the oppressed. Cuba has NEVER been isolated. It has been trading with the rest of the world for the past 54 years. Has any of this investment helped the average Cuba. NO. The money goes to the corrupt Castro regime, and the average Cuban continues to live in squalor, with substandard healthcare and no political freedoms. Foreign business interests prop up the despotic dictatorship to the detriment of its citizens. How moral and ethical is that??

Shame on Obama, Cuomo, and foreign business interests. Shame on ANYONE who vacations and does business in Cuba while political prisoners are being tortured and where civil liberties are nonexistent.

As an addendum: Cuba belongs on the list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Obama’s declarations to the contrary are muted by his administration’s lack of honesty and transparency.

Freedom for Cuba!

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