United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Mr. Tomayo misses the most important point -- the high cost of telephone calls to Cuba are due in part to Cuba being on the State Sponsor of Terror List. Being on this list triggers another law called the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act which deprives countries on this list of sovereign immunity from lawsuits in the United States.
This has sprung a cottage industry of lawsuits against Cuba in the hope of collecting these payments from the U.S. to Cuba. Cuba has had more than $100 millions in telecom payments seized in lawsuits against it.
The response from the Cuban government was to raise the cost from about 45 cents a minute to about one dollar per minute -- to recover those lost monies and insulate themselves from future seizures. While Cuba remains on this list and subject to the lawsuit and judgment crowd -- it is unlikely any meaningful telecom business will get done with Cuba.
The fact that it costs so much to call to and from Cuba is just another brick in the embargo wall that must be torn down. I tried to impress this upon him when I spoke with him. The fact that calls to Cuba have decreased is not really significant in the long run. I am not sure why he selected what was only a speculation on my part.
The fact that Cuba is among the most expensive countries to call from the U.S., due in part to our policies, is what needs to be examined and changed. Mr. President , if you want to make the telecommunications opening meaningful for U.S. companies, please reassess the broader question - Does Cuba belong on the State Sponsor of Terror List? You do not need Congress' approval to act. Conditions need to be changed to make it possible for the current outreach taking place - more family and human contact, more communications, and more trade, to be the true pathway to better relations and improving human rights. - TM