The Associated Press / AP

The Associated Press / AP

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/Facebook.

Tropical Storm Zeta forms near western Cuba

Tropical Storm Zeta, the 27th of the cyclonic season, formed this Sunday near the coasts of western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula, which constitutes a new record for this period in the Atlantic. At 8 a.m., the center of the storm was about 470 kilometers south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, according to an alert from the United States National Hurricane Center. https://twitter.com/cnp_insmet_cuba/status/1320307038317150210?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1320307038317150210%7Ctwgr%5Eshare_3%2Ccontainerclick_1&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba%2Ftormenta-tropical-zeta-se-forma-cerca-del-occidente-cubano%2F The system had maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and was barely moving, according to meteorologists. The system is expected to reorganize and move north-northwest on Sunday, avoiding a direct impact on Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday before entering the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. A tropical storm watch was issued for Pinar del Río, Cuba, and a tropical storm warning for Cozumel and between Tulum and Río Lagartos, Mexico. Zeta is expected to become a hurricane throughout the day. Zeta became the 27th registered storm in the Atlantic hurricane season, breaking the November 29, 2005 record, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. There have been so many storms this year that the hurricane center has turned to the Greek alphabet to identify them after exhausting the...

Chadwick Boseman poses in the press room with the Outstanding Actor in a Movie Award for “Black Panther” at the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, Archive.

Chadwick Boseman, star of “Black Panther,” dies

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before becoming famous as the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died on Friday of cancer, his representative said. He was 43 years old. Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante told The Associated Press. Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all and brought you many of the films you have come to love,” his family said in the statement. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and several more, all were all filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.” https://youtu.be/xjDjIWPwcPU Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis. Born in South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and had small television roles before his first starring role in 2013. His surprising portrayal of the stoic star Robinson opposite Harrison Ford in 2013’s film 42 drew attention in Hollywood. Boseman passed away on the...

Headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, in Foster City, California. The company developed the Remdesivir treatment to treat the coronavirus. Photo: Ben Margot, AP

United States: Remdesivir treatment to cost 2,340 dollars

Help us keep OnCuba alive here The drug that shortens recovery time in COVID-19 patients will cost 2,340 dollars per treatment for people with health insurance in the United States and other developed countries, the manufacturer reported this Monday. Gilead Sciences announced that Remdesivir will cost 3,120 dollars for patients with private insurance. What patients pay will depend on their insurance, income, and other factors. https://twitter.com/GileadSciences/status/1277559777569067008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1277559777569067008%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fmundo%2Feeuu-tratamiento-con-remdesivir-costara-2-340-dolares%2F “We are in uncharted territory with the price of a new medicine in a pandemic,” Gilead chief executive Dan O’Day told The Associated Press. “We had to really deviate from normal circumstances” and put a price on the drug to ensure wide access rather than just based on value for patients, he said. However, the price was quickly criticized. A group of consumers considered it “outrageous” due to the amount that taxpayers invested in the development of the drug. The treatments the company donated to the United States and other countries will run out in about a week, and prices will be applied after that, O’Day said. In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead allows generic manufacturers to supply the drug; two countries already do it at a cost of about 600 dollars per...

Protesters blocking the path of a Los Angeles fire truck during riots on Melrose Avenue on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Photo: Chris Pizzello/AP

Who’s to blame for the riots?

Help us keep OnCuba alive here Scott Nichols, a balloon artist, was going home on his scooter from where protests were taking place in Minneapolis last weekend when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired by one of several riot police officers. “I pulled over and put my hands up because I didn’t want to be killed,” said Nichols, 40. “Everyone who knows me knows that I was not on the streets to cause problems.” Balloon artist Scott Nichols known as “The Amazing Scott” poses for The Associated Press in his studio in Minneapolis. Photo: Julio Cortez/AP Nichols, who before the pandemic made a living from entertaining children at birthday parties under the stage name “The Amazing Scott,” spent two days in jail before being released. He had been charged with criminal charges of participating in riots and violating the curfew. President Donald Trump has cataloged those who clash with the police forces after George Floyd’s death as organized radical left-wing brutes who devote themselves to domestic terrorism, a statement reiterated by U.S. Attorney General William Bar. Some Democrats, such as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, initially attempted to blame far-right...

A man walks past Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter's Square during Pope Francis’ weekly appearance that the Vatican is broadcasting online due to restrictions against the new coronavirus. Photo: AP / Andrew Medichini.

Pope Francis officiates Palm Sunday mass with no audience

Pope Francis celebrated the Palm Sunday mass without an audience, after the traditional ceremony in St. Peter’s Square was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Normally tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims with palm and olive branches would have filled the open-air mass led by the Pontiff. Instead, Francis conducted the ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica, which seemed even larger because it was almost empty. In addition to his assistants, a few prelates, nuns, and lay guests were present, sitting on the first benches and separated to reduce the risk of contagion. Reflectively, Francis blessed the palms extended by his assistants and then took one. Palm Sunday is the solemn start of Christian Holy Week that culminates in Easter, which this year is April 12. The Vatican has announced that Francis will officiate all traditional ceremonies without an audience, complying with quarantine measures in Italy and the Vatican to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. One of the usual elements is the Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday. This year, instead of the traditional procession in the Colosseum in Rome, the Pope will lead the procession in St. Peter’s Square. The...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Cuba: US embargo blocks coronavirus aid shipment from Asia

Cuban officials say a shipment of coronavirus aid from Asia’s richest man, Jack Ma, has been blocked by the six-decade U.S. embargo on the island. Carlos M. Pereira, Cuba’s ambassador to China, said on his blog this week that Ma’s foundation tried to send Cuba 100,000 facemasks and 10 COVID-19 diagnostic kits last month, along with other aid including ventilators and gloves. Cuba was one of 24 countries in the region meant to receive the donations announced on March. 21 by the Jack Ma Foundation, which is sending similar aid to countries around the world, including the United States. Cuban officials say the cargo carrier of Colombia-based Avianca Airlines declined to carry the aid to Cuba because its major shareholder is a U.S.-based company subject to the trade embargo on Cuba. The embargo has exceptions for food and medical aid but companies are often afraid to carry out related financing or transportation due to the risk of fines or prosecution under the embargo. Human-rights groups have been calling for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba and Iran during the coronavirus epidemic in order to permit the flow of more aid. The Trump administration has argued that only the...

A man holds the United States flag while following a United States Football League game in Tacoma, Washington. Photo: Joshua Bessex/The News Tribune via AP.

Scientists in the United States are wondering how long the fight against coronavirus will last

In a matter of days, millions of Americans have had to change their habits due to the measures implemented by the government to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Normally bustling streets are deserted and families are barricading themselves in their homes. Many of those who venture out try to keep a safe distance from anyone they meet, even if they are lining up to buy now-prized products like disinfectant gel. Parents juggle their schedules to take care of their children given the closing of the schools, perhaps for the rest of the year. And the restaurants are empty and increasingly choose to operate only for home delivery. How long will this last? Scientists say there is no simple answer to this question. “In many ways, this situation is unprecedented. We are trying to take some steps to curb the spread and momentum of this pandemic,” said Stephen Morse, a disease researcher at Columbia University in New York. Yes, there have been previous disease outbreaks from which scientists can draw some conclusions but, in those cases, it was possible to let them run their course. “So those models are not applied accurately,” added Morse. President Donald Trump said this...

A woman inspects if there are new products for sale at the 4 Caminos market. Photo: AP/Ismael Francisco.

Social networks, the place where Cubans try to get around shortages

“Has anyone seen cookies?” was the question on WhatsApp. Minutes later, another person replied that they could be found in a shopping center in western Havana. The same thing happens daily with products as dissimilar and missing as toilet paper, powdered milk, chicken, detergents, tiles or fuel. A year after the Cuban authorities authorized mobile data for cell phones, thousands of islanders incorporated social networks and applications into their daily strategies to deal with shortages, which increased with the intensification of sanctions imposed by Washington. “You have to go around the stores of millions of times to find what you need, at the end you spend the entire day running around the city,” Claudia Santander, a 21-year-old graphic designer who manages a dozen groups on WhatsApp for free, explained to AP. “I invest my time, my internet, but the benefit is great,” she added. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/where-is-there-cuban-solutions-on-whatsapp-in-the-face-of-shortages/ With names like “Where is there?”, “Whatever you want” or “Sales in Havana” these forums bring together thousands of people, especially on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Some are so crowded that they have waiting lists or have doubled in “Basic” ―one of those managed by Santander― and “Mercadillo,” as WhatsApp allows only 256 members per...

Yarelis Gutiérrez Barrios holds a cell phone with the photograph of her and her couple Roylan Hernández Díaz, an asylum seeker in the United States who committed suicide in a cell in Louisiana. Photo: Chris O'Meara / AP.

“My rights have been violated,” one of the last phrases of a Cuban who died in a Louisiana prison.

Roylan Hernández Díaz’s long journey ended in a white-walled cell in a Louisiana prison’s solitary confinement wing. Near him were his last belongings: a tube of toothpaste, some disposable cups and a sheet of paper that explained how he could request his release from the immigration detention center. But he had already been denied his release three times. The Cuban had been placed in isolation six days earlier because he said he would refuse to eat to protest his arrest. The guards put him there even after the medical staff referred him to mental health treatment three times and documented an bowel disorder that caused him unbearable pain. For at least an hour before they discovered he had hanged himself, no one opened the door to check if he was alive. His death could have been prevented. Last October, an Associated Press investigation into Hernández’s death found that there was negligence and apparent violations of government policies by the guards of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service, at a time when the detention of immigrants has reached record levels and new questions have arisen about the treatment that the U.S. government metes out to people seeking refuge. https://oncubanews.com/cuba-ee-uu/hallado-muerto-un-cubano-en-una-carcel-de-inmigracion-en-eeuu/ ICE...

Cuban duo Gente de Zona, Randy Malcom (l) and Alexander Delgado (r) during an event in Miami, Florida. Photo: Antoni Belchi / EFE / Archive.

Is there a revival of cultural intolerance among Miami’s Cubans?

The urban music duo Gente de Zona was excluded from a New Year's Eve concert in Miami. Singer Haila was declared persona non grata and her performance in a private club canceled. The same happened to Jacob Forever and El Micha in the neighboring city of Hialeah. They all have something in common: they are Cuban artists who have expressed their support for the island’s government or have not criticized it. At a time when President Donald Trump is intensifying the embargo against Cuba, some members of the largest U.S.-Cuban community in the United States are again promoting a hardline cultural policy against artists they consider favorable to the Havana government.. Support for a policy of restrictions and sanctions against the island among the nearly 1.2 million Cubans living in South Florida could influence the 2020 presidential election. Partly because of the anti-communist position, Cuban-Americans have historically backed the Republican Party in an undecided state like Florida. Although some surveys in recent years have shown that support for the embargo among members of the Cuban community in South Florida has weakened, some observers point out that Trump's attempts to economically drown Cuba have emboldened activists who want more sanctions for...

Protesters waving the national flag while security forces launch tear gas at a protest in central Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, January 20, 2020. Photo: AP/Hadi Mizban

One wounded in rocket attack against U.S. embassy in Baghdad

At least one employee of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was wounded after a rocket attack registered overnight at the diplomatic headquarters, embassy personnel said Monday. The rocket crashed into a restaurant in the embassy complex, said two employees who spoke under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to report to the press. They didn’t specify the nationality of the wounded person or the severity of the wounds. Violent clashes between security forces and protesters opposed to the government continued overnight, and a protester died in a violent security operation in the south of the country. https://oncubanews.com/mundo/atacan-embajada-de-eeuu-en-irak-trump-culpa-a-iran/ The U.S. embassy is located in the Green Zone of the Iraqi capital and has been a source of regional tensions between the United States and Iran, which have materialized in Iraq in recent weeks. Iraqi supporters of an Iran-backed militia stormed the embassy complex on December 31, destroying the main gate and setting fire to the reception area. At least five Katyusha rockets fell on Sunday in the Green Zone, according to a statement from the U.S. Army. It was the third rocket attack against the embassy this month, and at first it was unknown who was responsible. No wounded...

Health officials check the body temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan City to Beijing Airport on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Photo: AP / Emily Wang.

Chicago reports second case of new virus in U.S.

The United States has registered in Chicago the second case of a person diagnosed with the new virus similar to pneumonia from China, health authorities said this Friday. It is a woman over 60 who returned from China on January 13 without showing symptoms of the disease, but who soon after consulted her doctor because she felt unwell. https://twitter.com/ChiPublicHealth/status/1220764390380785664?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1220764390380785664&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fmundo%2Fee-uu%2Fchicago-reporta-el-segundo-caso-del-nuevo-virus-en-eeuu%2F The patient is evolving favorably and remains in the hospital “primarily to control the infection,” said Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. People had contact with her are being closely monitored. The first case of the virus in the United States was that of a man in the state of Washington who had returned from a trip to China. https://oncubanews.com/mundo/ee-uu/detectan-en-eeuu-primer-enfermo-de-nuevo-virus-chino/ Dr. Nancy Messonnier, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the risk to people in the United States remains low, but there will probably be more cases in the next few days because the virus apparently has a two-week period of incubation. More than 2,000 travelers have been examined throughout the country at airports and 63 showed some disorders in 22 states, although so far it has been determined that 11 were free of the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump during an event on Friday, January 3, 2020. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP.

Trump contradicts what he says and brings turmoil to the Middle East

With a single drone attack, President Donald Trump did more than bring down a sworn enemy of the United States. It is also possible that he has disrupted a central element of his foreign policy and has brought the country closer to war. The Friday strike in which Iran’s highest-ranking general died could have put an end to any possibility that Trump had to get the United States out of the “endless wars” in the Middle East, against which he has expressed himself since he assumed the presidency. The death of General Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad has the world preparing for a possible retaliation, and many fear that it will turn into a large-scale conflict. Ned Price, who served on the National Security Council during the Barack Obama administration, said that it is probably the biggest escalation the United States could have undertaken. Trump has been in conflict with Iran even before assuming the presidency, when he promised to cancel the nuclear deal with Tehran that Obama signed. He insisted that he does not want a war and that Suleimani's death was not intended to provoke the Islamic Republic. On Friday Trump said that the United States had taken steps...

The head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, together with the EU ambassador to Cuba, Alberto Navarro, during the 2nd Cuba-EU Joint Council, held in Havana on September 9, 2019. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

EU diplomats listen to NGOs and businesspeople in Cuba

The day before a meeting with Cuban authorities, European officials arrived on the island to take note of the way in which non-governmental organizations and businesspeople from European Union (EU) countries have been affected by U.S. sanctions. Headed by Katja Afheldt, head of the Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Division of the European External Action Service, the delegation of almost half a dozen diplomats will be present Friday in a political dialogue with their Cuban counterparts. But this Thursday they planned a meeting with the managers of nine non-governmental organizations and another with businesspeople based on the island so they could report on the difficulties they face due to the U.S. sanctions, said the EU ambassador to Cuba, Alberto Navarro. “The European Union strongly condemns the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States. You have to call things by their name, it is a blockade that is trying to suffocate the Cuban economy,” Navarro said in a reception hosted for businesspeople this Wednesday night. Navarro invited businesspeople to express their concerns about the U.S. sanctions, ranging from difficulties in transactions and opening bank accounts to the impossibility of importing material from abroad. https://oncubanews.com/cuba/la-ue-abre-sus-brazos-a-cuba-a-pesar-de-ley-helms-burton/ This year, the administration of...

Photo: Kaloian

Cuba legalizes electronic surveillance without a court order

Cuba incorporated into its legislation the authorization to conduct undercover investigations and employ electronic surveillance, which comes to join a trend in the continent. But unlike the countries of the region, these can be done without a judge order. The decree-law signed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel also allows the legal figures of “undercover agent” and “effective collaborator,” who will be exempt from criminal responsibility, and also includes “surveillance delivery.” As published by the Gaceta Oficial, the law seeks to regulate “special investigative techniques” and “strengthen the domestic criminal system...with the aim of increasing effectiveness in crime prevention and confrontation,” especially money laundering and terrorism. Under the legislation, undercover investigations are operations carried out by agents trained by the Ministry of Interior, the effective collaborator is a defendant who offers information to prevent a crime from being committed and obtains clemency for it and the surveillance delivery consists of allowing suspicious merchandise to be moved but with follow-up. Meanwhile, electronic surveillance ranges from listening, voice recording, tracking, taking pictures and filming, as well as the interception of communications of any kind and access to computerized systems. To make effective the use of these techniques, the police must request authorization from the...

José Daniel Ferrer and the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Cuba, Mara Tekach. Photo: Twitter.

Cuban government accuses U.S. chargé d’affaires of illegal actions in Cuba

The Cuban government this Wednesday accused the main U.S. diplomat in the country of working closely with José Daniel Ferrer, a dissident detained last month and who heads one of the country's largest opposition groups. The accusations against Chargé d’Affaires Mara Tekach were a change in Cuba’s normal language with respect to its relations with the United States, which had remained measured despite the escalation of the campaign of President Donald Trump’s government to restrict income for and sale of oil to Cuba. Instead of promoting peaceful bilateral relations, “that country’s diplomatic mission in Cuba and particularly its chargé d’affaires have focused in recent months on the failed purpose of recruiting mercenaries, promoting division and confusion among our people, identifying the areas of the economy against which to direct coercive measures, and trying to slander and discredit the work of the Cuban government and the Revolution,” added a statement from the Cuban government, published in Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party. Check Post Here The U.S. embassy in Cuba closed after the country's socialist revolution and was reopened in 2015 during the normalization of relations with the island by then U.S. President Barack Obama. It has been operating...

Omara Portuondo at the ceremony of presentation of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette in Havana. Photo: Pedro Pablo Cruz' Facebook profile. Archive.

Music Excellence Award for Omara Portuondo

Omara Portuondo, Lupita D’Alessio, Joan Baez and Hugo Fattoruso are some of the winners of the Music Excellence Award of the Latin Recording Academy. The academy announced Thursday these entertainers along with Pimpinela, Eva Ayllón and José Cid, as well as the executive Mario Kaminsky, who will receive the Board of Directors Award. The celebrities will be recognized at a private ceremony in Las Vegas on November 13 as part of the festivities of the 20th Latin Grammy Awards. "Each of these legends continues to leave their mark on the world of Latin music with their talent, charisma and passion for creating sounds that have had an impact and continue to have an impact on our Latin American community," Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president of the Latin Recording Academy, said in a statement. "We look forward to highlighting their achievements during a surely memorable week of the 20th anniversary of the Latin Grammy." Peruvian singer Eva Ayllón. Photo: Peru Info. Portuondo is one of the most outstanding interpreters of Cuban music today. She was born in Havana in 1930 and began her career as a dancer before joining the Anacaona women's band. Founder of the D’Aida Quartet...

Photo of various brain scans of U.S. officials who were in Cuba, compared to those of a control group, in a photo provided by the American Medical Association in July 2019. (American Medical Association via AP)

Mystery about U.S. diplomats’ complaints in Cuba grows

State-of-the-art brain scans performed on U.S. diplomats who became ill after working in Cuba show baffling differences in the victims, who claim they developed symptoms similar to those of a concussion, a finding that increases the mystery of what could have happened to them, says a recent study. The brains of the diplomats have less white matter than those of a group of healthy people used as a reference, experts say. They also detected other structural differences. Although experts anticipated alterations in the cerebellum (in the inferior part of the brain) due to the symptoms reported by diplomats―problems of balance, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and migraines―they found common patterns in the tissues that link a region of the brain to another. Ragini Verma, an expert in brain tomography at the University of Pennsylvania and the lead author of the study, said the conditions she saw are different from any other she has seen in atrophied or injured brains. "It's very strange, it's a true medical mystery," said the specialist. Dr. Randel Swanson, co-author of the article, said that "there is no doubt that something happened" but that the CAT scans failed to clarify it. An expert not related to the study,...

Cuban immigrants in Tapachula, Mexico. Photo: Juan Manuel Blanco / EFE.

New rules to seek asylum in U.S.

A major change to the U.S. immigration policy came into effect this Tuesday to deny asylum to those who apply for it at the southern border after having passed through a third country. The measure could mainly affect Guatemalans and Hondurans who need to cross Mexico to reach the United States by land. Guatemalans and Hondurans together represent the majority of Border Patrol arrests, and tend to travel in families. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center challenged the decision in a San Francisco federal court. Here are some answers to questions about the policy, how Europe has faced similar challenges and how Mexico and some Central American nations have reacted. How does the new policy work? Asylum applicants go through a preliminary assessment called "credible fear" interview, an obstacle that the vast majority overcomes. Under the new policy, those people will not pass the test unless they have applied for asylum in at least one of the transit countries and have been denied. These people will immediately undergo deportation proceedings and will be returned by plane to their countries. The United States will cover the expenses. The rule has its exceptions and there is...

Central American migrants line up outside the Mexican Refugee Aid Commission in Tapachula to obtain the necessary documents that allow them to stay in Mexico, on Thursday, June 20, 2019. Photo: Oliver de Ros / AP.

What happens to migrants when they reach the border?

The harrowing image of the baby who drowned with her father in the Rio Grande illustrates the risks that migrants are willing to take to reach the United States in the face of the increasingly strict policies of President Donald Trump's government to prevent their entry. For many of the migrants trying to get to the country, it is a matter of waiting, waiting and waiting a little longer to get the authorization to enter, unless they try to force things and cross the border, a dangerous and sometimes lethal decision which on occasions involves entering the scorching desert or fording the Rio Grande and its deceptive currents. Here is a look at how migrants try to reach the United States and what they find: There are two ways Hundreds of thousands of people have come to the border in recent months, many of them families fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. Once they reach the border, they can take different paths to try to enter the United States. One way is to present themselves at the official border crossings, known as ports of entry, and applying for asylum. This represents the beginning of a legal process that often...

Members of Los Van Van band, with the leader of the group Samuel Formell, at the front, pose at the Lincoln Center in New York on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Photo: Bebeto Matthews / AP.

Van Van continues celebrating its 50 years in the U.S., now in New York

The Cuban Los Van Van band is celebrating its 50th anniversary and it is doing it with a world tour that includes the United States, a country where the Cuba subject has escalated. Strong sanctions by the government of Donald Trump or the rejection of the performance of musicians from the island in Florida is not stopping this 17-member orchestra that, after playing in Miami in May and in California this month, will now do so in New York and Washington. After all, what Los Van Van want is to entertain. "Since we're not politicians, we try to be as far away from that as possible, trying to make our music," said this Wednesday Samuel Formell, leader of the group, on the eve of its performance at the Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Bandshell. "In the end, there’s no doubt that when you go to a Los Van Van concert you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about anything, what you do is dance, enjoy and forget a little about the day-to-day problems that every human being can have," he added in an interview with The Associated Press. This month, political leaders in Miami passed a resolution calling on the U.S....

Bobbie Bryant, 41, from Orlando, holds a fan that he bought in Cuba upon his arrival to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Can Americans visit Cuba?

The cruise ships that traveled to Cuba until a few days ago offered a simple option to make legal trips through the 144 kilometers (90 miles) of sea that separate the two nations, but apparently that has ended for now with the entry into force this Wednesday of the federal ban. The main cruise lines have reconfigured their itineraries and their stopovers in Cuba were changed to other destinations in the Caribbean, to the disappointment of thousands of passengers. Following are some answers to common questions about the complications of traveling from the United States to Cuba: Why did the United States adopt this measure? The Trump government says it wants to cut off the flow of dollars to the Cuban government to force it to suspend its support for President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Cuba affirms that Trump wants to reduce Americans’ exposure to the country because when they return they invariably oppose the U.S. embargo against the island that has been in force for 60 years. Are there other ways to travel to Cuba? Major airlines, such as American Airlines, JetBlue and Delta, continue to cover a complete itinerary of relatively affordable flights to Havana and other Cuban...

In this photograph from April 29, 2019, Cuban migrants are escorted by Mexican immigration authorities in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Torres)

Number of Cubans seeking to enter U.S. through Mexico increases

A growing number of Cubans are trying to reach the United States through the border with Mexico, joining the hundreds of people who have been waiting for months on the Mexican side to apply for asylum. The increase recorded in recent months has been driven in part by a greater flexibility to travel through Central America and the deterioration of living conditions in Cuba. Approximately 4,500 people, the vast majority coming from Cuba, are waiting in Ciudad Juárez, on the border with El Paso, Texas, to be interviewed for their asylum application, at times causing tensions with local residents. "The bottleneck is closing," said Enrique Valenzuela, a government official in the northern state of Chihuahua, who is in charge of the waiting list in Ciudad Juárez. "A lot of people keep coming." For decades, during and after the Cold War, Cubans have tried to reach the United States by air, sea and land, many of them venturing on the dangerous 145-kilometer (90-mile) journey to Florida aboard fragile boats and rafts However, the United States put an end in January 2017 to its "dry foot, wet foot" policy that practically admitted automatically any Cuban who stepped on U.S. territory. For many...

Mexican day laborers picking tobacco in North Carolina. Photo: nacion321.com

U.S. will give 30,000 more visas for temporary workers

The government of President Donald Trump plans to allow 30,000 temporary foreign workers to do seasonal work until the end of September, a measure that reflects how the economic boom has complicated Trump's attempts to restrict immigration. The details of the plan were in a draft obtained by The Associated Press. It would benefit the companies that shuck oysters, fishmongers, loggers and seasonal hotels, including the Mar-a-Lago Club owned by Trump, all of which hire immigrants for seasonal jobs that, according to activists, Americans wouldn’t do. The visas, known as H-2B, will be granted only to foreigners who have already had them in the last three fiscal years. Many of them return year after year with the same employers. Those workers have already been approved, are trusted and are unlikely to stay once their visas expire, officials said. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will begin receiving employer applications on behalf of employers once the regulation is published in the Federal Register, probably on Wednesday. The solid economy has made it difficult to find workforce, and the number of temporary visas is a maximum 66,000 per fiscal year, an amount that some companies and legislators consider very outdated, especially when...

Photo: Desmond Boylan/AP

Fernández de Cossío: “No Cuban troops in Venezuela”

Cuba has no troops in Venezuela and engages in no security operations there but maintains the right to carry out military and intelligence cooperation, a top Cuban diplomat said Wednesday in his government’s most detailed response yet to U.S. accusations that its forces are propping up President Nicolás Maduro. Carlos Fernández de Cossío, Cuba’s director-general of U.S. affairs, told The Associated Press in Washington that the U.S. is falsely accusing his country of having more than 20,000 troops and intelligence agents in Venezuela. De Cossío said there are roughly 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela but virtually all are medical workers. “There are no troops,” he said in English. “Cuba does not participate in military operations nor in security operations in Venezuela.” https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1123333508078997505?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1123333508078997505&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba%2Ffernandez-de-cossio-no-hay-soldados-cubanos-en-venezuela%2F De Cossío said that despite the lack of Cuban boots on the ground, he could not deny the existence of intelligence cooperation because “I don’t have that information.” But broader intelligence or military cooperation would be “totally legitimate,” he added. “The United States has over 800,000 Americans stationed around the world with over 600-700 military bases anywhere in the world. Any two countries in our region have military or intelligence cooperation and we have it with many countries. So...

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