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About Ryan

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  • Birthday 10/19/1969

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  1. El Gato Tuerto

    The Gato Tuerto. There is no club in the world I have visited more often. We've had some laughs there over the years. It closed down last year for renovations. Stuart Fox, Glen and a few of us were over-served one morning on the Malecon last November and saw a friend of ours waving from his balcony just behind the Gato Tuerto. We were heading over to our friend's place for a "morning-cap" and saw Sylvio, one of the Gato Tuerto staff, waving us into the place. It was nearly completed then and I think they were having the re-opening night the following week. We opened a bottle of rum with him to re-christen the place. There have been some changes, The bar counter is no longer against the wall leading to the stage. There is now a square bar, starting just inside the door. The wall where the counter used to be is now all seating from the front windows all the way to the stage. The layout makes more sense I suppose (apart from potential bottlenecks by having a bar just inside the door) but it's not the same as it was. Ernesto, great bar-tender, has gone, his cousin is a bar manager at the Hotel Capri. Indira, gone I think. Yuli bottle washer/toilet attendant, married and living in Switzerland. Tamara is still there, some things never change. I've had great nights in the place, just great fun. Yes, like every club frequented by tourists in every low-wage country in the world, there are people there offering services of questionable legality but it is not as obvious as many of the other places. The Irish crew have a rule in Cuba "What happens in Cuba goes on Facebook". The music can be great, I was there one night with a guy from Gibraltar who was nearly in tears because he was hearing the songs his grandmother used to sing to him. I'd still recommend the place but it has lost its shine a bit as the place to go, so many of the staff we knew have left and very few of us stay in or near the Nacional any more, we seem to have moved out towards Miramar and Santa Fe. Having said that, I was there a couple of times back in February. I called in to see the place and of course Regla was there, still getting up on stage giving it socks. IMG_6234.MOV The next day a fiend from Chicago came down for a few days in Cuba and Juana Bacallao was on, so I had to bring her to see that show. Great as always. It's hard to see her, she's not tall, but just look where people are looking down and that's her. IMG_6262.MOV
  2. Cryptocurrencies

    I'm currently sitting on 0.003 of a bitcoin, about $12, a gift I got a while ago for something online. I know it has gained about 25% in the last week. Woohoo! At moment I'd say only invest in any of those currencies if you can afford to lose all of it and not be sad. They have their applications but speculation is way too high at the moment. I am finding Ethereum interesting though not from an investment point of view, though that is also showing silly gains. From a technological point of view. I'm trying to find out more about the "smart contracts " Ethereum offers. Basically a way of ensuring that two people, anonymous to each other, each fulfill their side of a deal, with no middleman. That would have all kinds of applications and what's interesting is that I see some of the bigger names getting involved, Microsoft, some of the bigger banks. Unicef is apparently running trials with it to ensure charitable payments get to their destinations. Blockchain and blockchain applications could end up being the next "internet".
  3. That sucks that you lost so much. I've never heard of those agents at the airport being that strict. I presume you had facturas for all the other boxes in the picture? Usually, showing even one factura is enough to get you through. You can usually get till receipts for the Yolandas, not sure about Alex. I know those receipts are not facturas but it would be something to show that they are not fakes bought on the street, which is what those agents are on the lookout for. Best of luck next time. Remember, ask for till receipts for the custom rolls. There's no guarantee that it will work but it's something.
  4. Italy/Spain

    Looks like a great trip. I had seen you were in Italy/Malta just before Amicigar, shame you couldn't make it over but I understand completely. We're off to Spain on Saturday and I have a few "detours" planned. My wife puts up with a lot on our trips away!
  5. I was going to start my own thread on this but I see Gino has one going. Thanks Gino for a fantastic time in Amalfi! A lovely event run by great people in a beautiful location. Couldn't have been better! Some pictures. Pompeii. Pompeii. "There's yer problem" in the background. Pompeii DrGuano saw something he liked in Pompeii... Flor de Cano Casanova at the hotel roof bar. Lemon groves just outside Maiori. Mojitos. Trying to sort out Cosima's fingers for a picture. Special cigar/rum tasting in an old convent garden. The gifts were extraordinarily generous. A Montecristo Couble Corona from the 2009 Antique Replica humidor with Havana Club Maximo rum. A lovely combination. Myself and Rob. Naka, dressed for occasion, as always. Myself and Mrs Ryan at the Saturday night dinner Me and Mrs Ryan again. I'm not sure if that guy had a ticket.. On Sunday we took a water taxi to Positano. Sunday dinner. Arguing over the origin of the word "Mareva". Final gelato after dinner on Sunday. Me and The Boss at dinner on Friday night.
  6. I should have worded it more carefully. The purpose of the receipt book is that they come with carbon copies, in duplicate or triplicate. Only once have I ever got a receipt from a casa owner. For whatever reason they don't like giving them out. They are legal, they are registered, they take a copy of my passport for their book etc. But they don't give out receipts. It's possible they just don't have them and don't like signing bits of paper. What I would say is, and what I was saying is, fill out a receipt for the amount spent in the casa particular. The amount actually spent. OK there would be fraud in having someone else sign it, so don't have someone else sign it, see if the casa owner will sign it, they might, especially if it's in Spanish, so they can read what it's for, then you're all set. But there is no fraud either way in the amount spent with local Cubans rather than the Cuban government. As Prez says, it's a recommendation.
  7. "Abierto 24 horas!" If only funds transfer was that easy!
  8. Nothing so far to necessarily prevent a trip to Cuba, while staying within the law. Bring a baseball glove and give it to a kid, take a few pictures. People to people. Go to a nightclub run by Cuban entrepreneurs, again they are the best clubs. These places generally give receipts. People to people. Put all your receipts and some pictures in a folder and stash it somewhere. One thing I saw somewhere was that travelers to Cuba on a people-to-people license must go as part of an organised tour. That could be awkward, but doable. I know a few small US outfits already doing official people-to-people tours. Cost might be a factor. I guess we'll find out the full details tomorrow. What I know of leaked political statements though, as this one kind of is, is that they are generally to "soften the blow". The actual statement is rarely worse.
  9. The cash never leaves Cuba. A Cuban person living in Miami wants to send $1,000 to relatives in Havana. We'll call this person "Sender". I (Cuban business owner) have 500k CUCs and want to hide it, because I am anti-revolutionary etc. I (Cuban business owner) also have a friend in Florida who has opened a US bank account for me to use. I let Sender know that he can deposit $1,000 in my US bank account, I give Sender my details and funds are deposited. On hearing that the funds have cleared, I give Sender's Cuban family 950 cucs. Sender's Cuban family is happy, they have got their 950 cucs. Sender is happy as he managed to get 950 cucs to his family for his $1,000, rather than 900 cucs if he had done it the legal way (with the government taking 10% or 100cucs) I am happy because I have 950 cucs less to hide under the floorboards (or wherever) and I have $1,000 in my US bank account. As I said, this is just an example I made up, and I don't condone this sort of thing. However with Cuba being the way it is i.e. 1. Cash rich businesses, but rich in cucs 2. Cuban Americans living in the US with access to plenty of US dollars but want to get cucs cheaply and securely to their Cuban relatives. I can see where there might be anti-revolutionary temptation.
  10. I hope you don't think I'm recommending it! People go to prison all the time for this stuff, unless you happen to be a bank manager. You don't even have to be in Cuba to go to prison for this stuff. What I gave was just an example. I've no idea if anyone in Cuba is doing anything like this. As I said, I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Banking authorities, internationally, in the last few years are finally coming close to harmonising their anti-money-laundering regulations. Up until a few years ago, you could move a lump of money to a foreign bank and it was just about no questions asked. That has changed significantly.
  11. I have a friend, I was in kindergarden with him, who went through a difficult patch in his 20s. He went a bit off the rails, he's fine now. He spent the last 4 days of his trip to Cuba in the late '90s on an enforced "detox" program in a hospital, connected to I.V.s. The person who sold him the illicit drugs on his first night in Cuba, came back having decided that my friend had not paid enough. My friend protested. Hotel security and police were called. My friend's room safe was opened and his money was split three ways, my friend not being one of the three. Then he was taken to detox until his flight out. Don't do drugs. Don't do drugs in Cuba. Don't do drugs in Cuba and tell the person selling them to you where you're staying. That wasn't even the funniest story he had from his Cuban trip.
  12. Here's an example. A Cuban relative, living in the US, wants to send money to his family in Cuba. Rather than put the money in an envelope, post it and have the Cuban government take 10%; the Cuban relative, living in the US, deposits the money in my (Cuban restaurant owner) US bank account. I act as the middle man. I receive word, a phone call, from whoever is running my account for me in the US and I pay out to the Cuban family expecting the money from their relative, minus 5%. Which is only half what the Cuban government would have taken. This way, I get rid of my extra Cuban cash by having the equivalent deposited into my US bank account, then handing the cash out to the people expecting it. No need to take any cash out of Cuba at all, that's the point. It's a means of transfer of funds from within Cuba to a bank outside Cuba without any hard cash changing jurisdiction. In effect I act like a "Western-Union", just without the red-tape (i.e. "being legal"). It is tax evasion. And if I (the Cuban business-person) can convince the US banking authorities that those US deposits are legitimate and any tax due has been paid, then it is also money laundering. If I can't convince the US banking authorities that those US deposits are legitimate and any tax due has been paid, then it is merely attempted money-laundering. The term "money-laundering" has evolved from meaning simply cleaning up dirty money, to include "hiding money on which there is tax or other duties due".
  13. I've been offered cocaine and ecstasy in Cuba in a few different places, with increasing frequency over the last few years, El Litoral was not one of the places. I agree with others who have said that it makes no sense for paladar owners to get involved in drug trafficking but that's possibly a poor translation of the original article, it was possibly simply drug sales on the premises and that could even be prescription pills. I've been offered Viagra on numerous occasions in Cuba, often on the street. Having said that, paladar owners, by the nature of the work, have to have a lot of contacts. Money laundering however, a cash business like a restaurant is perfect and with 50% tax on private businesses in Cuba, the temptation must be enormous. Say I ran restaurant in Havana with a profit of $1 million per year. I declare 500k to the government. That's leaves 500k cucs I need to hide. The Cuban government charges 10% "tax" on remittances sent to Cuban individuals from abroad. Well I have a friend set up a US bank account so I have the Cuban relative deposit the money in my US bank account in USD and pay out cucs to the local Cuban in Havana, and only charge 5%. Money cleaned and in the US, or wherever, plus I make another 5% on it. Anti-laundering authorities in the US might ask questions and who knows if there is contact between US regulatory authorities and the Cuban government. Doubtful, but who knows.
  14. I had heard stories of money laundering though paladares in the past. Looks like somebody has now been at least accused of it in Havana. "Ties to drug trafficing" is a serious accusation on top of the money-laundering. I didn't know Lungo Mare but El Litoral was in my top 10, at least for lunch. Shame to see them go, I can't imagine what the owner is going through. There is a lot of the "wild-west" about doing business in Cuba with high risk/reward, along with who you know. It's possible some owners are taking a risk too far. http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=125698
  15. I'm hearing rumours that one of the changes to be announced is restricting US residents, including Cuban-Americans, to one Cuba-visit per year. Only rumours, but I can't see him rolling back all the changes over the last two years. Many US businesses have a lot of money at stake.

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