Fw: POTUS print pool #5 -- after Castro news conference

Original Message
From: Parsons, Christi
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2016 3:32 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO
Cc: Parsons, Christi
Subject: POTUS print pool #5 -- after Castro news conference

POTUS left immediately after the news conference for the meeting with entrepreneurs at the Cerveceria. Crowds lined the street to wave and take pictures.

The entrepreneurs event is taking place in a large brewery, filled with chairs to seat a few hundred people. Panelists are seated on a stage before two enormous flags -- one Cuban, one American.

Background on Entrepreneurship event, from the White House:

President Obama’s Cuba policy is focused on helping the Cuban people improve their lives. Since charting a new Cuba policy, the United States has made regulatory changes to open up commercial ties between our countries at a time when a growing number of Cubans are self-employed.  In Havana, the President will meet with Cuban entrepreneurs, or cuentapropistas, to hear their experiences. The event will include American entrepreneurs who will share their own experiences with their Cuban counterparts and look for opportunities to build long-term relationships.

The Cuban government expanded licenses for private sector employment in 2010, leading to an increase in non-state sector employment from 145,000 in 2009 to approximately 500,000 in 2015.  However, licenses are still restricted to 201 service-oriented jobs like restaurant owner, hairdresser, sign painter, and taxi driver. U.S. regulatory changes since 2011 facilitated the increased flow of resources and information to the island and allowed entrepreneurs to access tools, materials, and training from the United States. Cuba’s removal of exit permit requirements in 2013 also allowed more Cubans to travel abroad and hand-carry raw materials and inputs for their businesses back to Cuba.

Cuba’s five-percent internet penetration rate is among the world’s lowest.  The Cuban government stated its intent to increase access and develop a national broadband strategy that lays out goals and timelines, including making wireless connectivity available to 60 percent of the population and internet connectivity at home available to 50 percent of the population by 2020.  Over the past year, Cuba began to make halting progress towards these goals, having established over 50 public Wi-Fi hotspots across the island.  Even with hourly access rates equal to about 10 percent of the average monthly salary in Cuba, these spots are enormously popular, with about 150,000 Cubans logging onto to the internet daily through these hotspots.  There are now approximately 700 public internet access points, includin,h,Hahn,JB g these hotspots, internet cafes, government youth centers, and hotels.

The United States is working to improve and increase internet connectivity in Cuba through advocacy for policy changes that would allow for increased investment, including foreign direct investment
and joint ventures, in wired and wireless telecommunications infrastructure and for more affordable and widespread internet access

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