In February of 2013, the 600 members of the National Assembly of People’s Power and the 1600 provincial government representatives voted for Miguel Diaz Canal to be vice president. As of April 2018, Miguel Diaz Canal will reign supreme over Cuba as Raul Castro steps down.
While the Cuban military runs most of the operations in Cuba including all tourism, it is predicted under Miguel Diaz Canal, the junta will expand in Cuba. Cuba remains on the U.S. State Department Tier 2 Watchlist because of human trafficking.
Cuba remains in an economic crisis and has been patching this crisis with oil agreements with Venezuela, attempting to increase agriculture production and applying some reforms. Meanwhile Cuba has asked Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom for debt forgiveness which in total is estimated in the $11 billion range. Russia wrote off $32 billion in Soviet era debt of Cuba in 2014.
As a continued threat to the United States, Russia re-opened a signals intelligence facility at Lourdes and two Russian oil companies, Gazprom and Zarubezhneft, have continued offshore oil drilling exploration operations. In 2014, President Xi of China visited Cuba to sign 29 trade agreements along with debt and credit cooperation concessions.
In 2013, a weapons shipment on board a North Korea ship that left Cuba bound for the return to North Korea was discovered raising additional concerns for sanctions violations of both countries. The ship’s cargo was discovered in Panama due to suspicions of carrying illicit narcotics.
In 2009, the Obama administration began a significant shift in policy toward Cuba launching a new beginning which led to the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. Yet nothing in Cuba changed with regard to human rights violations but some dissident prisoners were released and there were some Cuba spies released from the United States back to Cuba. U.S. citizen Alan Gross was also released from prison by Cuba and returned to the United States. In at least four rounds of talks with Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States, Barack Obama sent a resolution to Congress to removed Cuba from the designation of a State Sponsor of International Terrorism. There were no objections by Congress and the rescission of this designation was removed.
Further, under Barack Obama many other initiatives were launched including law enforcement cooperation, smuggling prevention, technical exchanges, environmental, banking, maritime issues, counter-narcotics, trade, travel and cyber-crime. Continued health cooperation, direct mail services and oil spill preparedness were all part of the Obama new era policies.
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