Illustration: Diana Carmenate.

New femicide denounced in Cuba

Independent platforms lamented the death of a 34-year-old woman in the city of Las Tunas at the hands of her husband, who later committed suicide. She is the 25th femicide so far this year on the island, according to activists.

Cuban rafters

Number of Cuban rafters trying to reach Florida grows

The number of Cuban rafters who try to reach the coasts of Florida in fragile boats continues to increase and in this fiscal year, the figure is higher than the entire previous period, according to official figures released this Monday to the Spanish agency EFE. According to the Seventh District of the United States Coast Guard, since October 1, 2020, when the current fiscal year began, and to date 67 Cuban rafters have been intercepted in the vicinity of the Straits of Florida. In the entire fiscal period 2020, which began on October 1, 2019, and ended on September 30 of last year, a total of 49 Cubans were intercepted, as confirmed by Brandon Murray, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman. The number reflects an increasing trend, although it is lower than the attempts made by people who left the Dominican Republic (headed for Puerto Rico), 103 so far this fiscal year, or by the Cubans themselves before the "wet foot/dry foot” policy was eliminated in 2017. Faced with the so-called “rafter crisis,” in 1994, the now extinct "wet foot/dry foot” policy was established, by virtue of which all Cubans who arrived in the United States could legally stay in...

sonic attacks

Official document reveals chaos and disorder in Trump’s response to “sonic attacks” in Cuba

According to a recently declassified report, mismanagement and lack of coordination dominated the response of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to the alleged “sonic attacks” that affected the health of 26 employees of the U.S. embassy in Havana. The document, made public at the request of the NGO National Security Archive, reveals that the United States’ response to these incidents was “dominated by a lack of leadership, ineffective communication and systematic disorganization” and questions the work of then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “An official was never appointed to have general responsibility,” underlines the report, prepared by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB), whose mission is to independently review any security incident at the United States embassies around the world. The document collects the conclusions of four months of investigation of the ARB, and each page is headed by the word “secret.” Trump lacked evidence to accuse the Cuban government On the other hand, the report shows that Trump ordered the removal of 60% of the embassy on the island without having proof of the alleged responsibility of the Cuban government in the mysterious attacks, which occurred between November 2016 and August 2017. In 2017, Trump himself...

feminicides in Cuba

Feminicide, crime less and less silent in Cuba

Vertrudiz, a “good-hearted country woman,” was murdered by her couple a week ago in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos. Earlier, Yankiel, with a history of sexist violence, had taken the life of Yamilka and her two daughters, ages 2 and 5, in a rural town in Las Tunas. Gisel, Marta, Mailin and almost thirty Cuban woman had a similar fate in 2020: to die violently at the hands of their couples or ex-couples, according to the count of civil society activists who collect this data and publish it on social networks compared to the state press, where the chronicle of events practically does not exist. With these types of cases banned from official journalism, the problem of gender violence has remained out of the picture in Cuba for decades. Until now. In late 2018 the government authorized the mobile internet service and, with it, thousands of Cubans landed on social networks, becoming real-time chroniclers of events in Cuba, while connectivity facilitated activism to articulate a much faster and more effective way to demand measures to help stop this scourge. National emergency Now, these groups warn that the confinements due to the coronavirus pandemic have triggered feminicide or murders for...

A seller of plumbing supplies waits for customers, in Havana, Cuba. Photo: EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa.

Cuba publishes list of prohibited activities for private sector

Strategic sectors for the Cuban State such as health, telecommunications, energy, defense and the press will remain banned for the private sector, according to the list of prohibited activities published after the elimination of the restrictive list of activities to which self-employed workers could engage in until now was announced.  The Cuban Ministry of Labor published this Wednesday the list of 124 jobs that will continue to be prohibited for the so-called “self-employed,” for whom, however, the possibility of dedicating themselves to more than 2,000 occupations is now open compared to the only 124 previously authorized. Areas that are especially important for the State for economic or political-ideological reasons remain beyond the reach of the self-employed, who at this time represent 13% of the employed population in Cuba. According to the list, highly qualified professionals such as doctors, dentists, architects, lawyers, engineers or researchers in science and development will continue to be unable to work independently outside the state sector. In the education sector, which in Cuba is universal and free and represents one of the Revolution’s banners, self-employment will only be allowed in categories such as childcare, home “review” or teaching of music and other arts, languages ​​and...

naval base in Guantánamo Bay

U.S. congressmen request Guantánamo prison camp remain open

Nine former military Republican congressmen asked United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to reconsider his plans to close the Guantanamo detention facility, according to what one of them, former “green beret” Michael Waltz, representative for Florida, said this Monday. In a letter to Austin, which Waltz posted on his Twitter account, the nine congressmen, “as veterans of the Global War on Terrorism,” point out that they have “serious reservations” about the possibility that the Guantánamo detention center, located at the naval base of the same name in Cuba, be closed. Austin, the first African American to head the Pentagon, said in his written confirmation testimony that he believed it was time to close that detention facility, which today has about 40 inmates, including the masterminds of the September 11, 2001 attacks. “They are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States,” the congressmen emphasized in their message to Austin. The nine signatories of the letter ask him to reconsider his plan and remind him that Barack Obama, who had promised to close the prison for terrorists, when he became President did not do so because his plans collided with “facts of reality.” “Many of us put...

Hotel Paradisus Río de Oro, managed by Meliá Hotels International in Holguín, in eastern Cuba. Photo: Meliá/Archive.

Lawsuit against Meliá for exploiting land in Cuba expanded against Cuban state

The head of the Court of First Instance number 24 of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, admitted the extension of the lawsuit of Central Santa Lucía against the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban company Gaviota S.A., in the procedure against Meliá Hotels International for the exploitation of some land on the island. The judge informed of the existence of the procedure to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for them to issue a report, as provided for in the Law of International Legal Cooperation in Civil Matters, in accordance with the information provided by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands in a statement. On the other hand, the Court, ex officio appreciating a possible lack of jurisdiction and international competence to hear the case―now also directed against Cuba―has referred the parties in person and the Public Prosecutor to allege what is convenient. The expansion of the lawsuit occurs after the judge issued an order in which she agreed to the existence of a passive joint litigation and required the plaintiff to expand the claim against the State of Cuba and Gaviota S.A. In this resolution prior to the extension, the magistrate refers to the jurisprudence...


United States: Coast Guard repatriates group of Cuban immigrants detained at sea

The Coast Guard repatriated this Monday 12 Cuban immigrants who were trying to reach the United States illegally by sea. The men were detained and rescued from the precarious boat on which they were traveling near the coast of Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami. This federal agency embarked the Cuban citizens on one of its ships to repatriate them to Bahía Cabañas, in Cuba. The 12 men who were detained last Friday about 13 kilometers (8 miles) off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, had been sighted by other vessels that notified the Miami Coast Guard. The institution noted that 47 Cuban immigrants have tried to enter the country illegally since last October 1, when fiscal year 2021 began, compared to 49 in fiscal year 2017. These numbers represent the total number of interceptions, landings and disturbances at sea in the Straits of Florida, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean, the Coast Guard specified. Since former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) repealed in early 2017 the “dry foot/wet foot” policy that granted legal status to Cubans who were able to land in the United States, the number of rafters has dropped significantly.

Phase 2 of Soberana 02’s clinical trials will involve nearly a thousand volunteers starting
January. EFE/Archive.

Cuba negotiates with other countries to develop phase 3 of Soberana 02 vaccine

Cuba is negotiating to develop in other countries the last phase of trials of one of its four vaccine projects against SARS-CoV-2, since the “low prevalence” of the virus on the island prevents these tests from being carried out effectively. “Negotiations are progressing to develop Phase 3 of the Soberana 02 clinical trial in other countries, due to the low prevalence of COVID-19 in the Cuban population,” indicates a note from the Presidency released this Tuesday in state media. The candidate referred to in the negotiations is Soberana 02, developed by the Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV) and which has just entered phase 2 of clinical trials. This stage will involve nearly a thousand volunteers as of January, who will be administered the preparation in “different formulations,” said the director general of the IFV, Vicente Vérez, quoted in the note. This figure varies with respect to those released in previous days, when Vérez declared to the state newspaper Granma that phase 2 would involve about a hundred people, which would increase to between 300 and 600 in phase II-B. According to the scientist, said candidate “has shown an early immune response (at 14 days), which makes it possible to go...


Cuba and European Union review cooperation programs

Cuba and the European Union (EU) reviewed the main cooperation and mutual aid programs they are carrying out during the third Cooperation Subcommittee, which concluded this Thursday after two days of virtual meetings. The Cuban delegation was headed by First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINVEC) Ana Teresita González. The European bloc’s was led by the director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the General Directorate for Cooperation and Development, Jolita Butckeviciene. At the closing of the meeting, the Cuban representative said that the collaboration between both parties is set to “become increasingly effective on the basis of the bonds that we have managed to forge in a framework of respect, transparency and trust,” according to the MINCEX website. “Cuba’s strengths in terms of education, health, biotechnology and confrontation of natural disasters may constitute the seed for future joint actions that promote triangular and South-South cooperation in regions such as the Caribbean and Africa,” González said. This year, the Subcommittee sessions are more relevant because they close a cycle of joint programming, scheduled until 2020, which allows for defining priorities until 2027. Regarding the next cycle of cooperation for the period 2021-2027, the Cuban deputy minister...

Evelop has agreed with the analizA laboratories that their clients have a preferential rate and assistance to perform the PCR test for detection of COVID-19. Photo:

With medical insurance for COVID-19, Evelop reactivates flights to Havana

Evelop, the airline of Ávoris, the Barceló Group’s travel division, has reactivated its operations to the Caribbean. Havana will be the first destination, followed by Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), with flights starting on November 15 and December 5, respectively. The company has included for all passengers on these flights, which will be operated with Airbus A350 aircraft and include Punta Cana, a free COVID-19 medical insurance assistance at destination for departures until January 3, 2020, it reported this Thursday in a statement. This insurance is included, along with other measures to offer passengers the security they need on their trip, in the “Evelop takes care of you” program that the company has developed, motivated by the health situation. The coverage of this insurance, from which all clients can benefit, regardless of the rate paid, includes, among others, up to 35,000 euros for medical expenses, repatriation or transfer of the insured and two companions. It also includes a relative’s transportation in case of hospitalization, unlimited travel expenses, extension of stay in hotel, advance of monetary funds, shipment of medicines, legal advice, search, location and sending of luggage and cancellation costs. In addition, Evelop has agreed with the analizA laboratories...

China Pavilion at the Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2018). Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez/Archive.

Online business forum to replace Havana International Trade Fair this year

A two-day virtual business forum will replace this year the Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV), the main commercial mart and to attract foreign investment in Cuba, suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Cuba 2020 Business Forum will take place from December 8 to 9 and seeks to facilitate contacts between national entrepreneurs and those of foreign firms, as well as to present the island’s investment possibilities, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca explained this Tuesday to the press. The initiative will replace this year what would have been the 38th edition of FIHAV, which in 2019 brought together more than 4,000 participants from some 55 countries, with Spain as the most represented country through the presence of some 110 companies. According to the minister, the forum will work through prior registration on a web page that will be updated in real time and will allow for making work appointments in private “chat” rooms. Malmierca stressed that the Cuban presence will not be limited to state companies but that the different forms of private management that operate in the country may also participate in order to promote “productive chains” in the island’s economy. This virtual event...

The Democratic candidate for the U.S. vice presidency, Kamala Harris, assured this Tuesday in an interview with EFE that if she and Biden get to the White House they will repeal the restrictions that Trump has imposed on the island, although the end of the blockade will not happen “soon.” Photo: ALEX WONG/EFE/EPA.

Biden’s campaign criticizes blocking of remittances to Cubans

The campaign of the Democratic candidate for the White House, Joe Biden, criticized this Wednesday the ban on sending remittances to Cuba decreed by President Donald Trump, which will lead to the closing of Western Union on the island. “In the midst of a global pandemic in which families are suffering deeply on the island and around the world, President Trump is denying Cuban-Americans the right to help their families,” Florida campaign strategic advisor Christian Ulvert said in a statement. The Democrat recalled that Western Union “is the largest remittance service” in Cuba and that its closing “will be painful for Cuban families, especially the oldest and most vulnerable, both on the island and in the United States.” “Trump’s war on family remittances is a cruel distraction from his administration’s failure to promote democracy in Cuba,” said Ulvert, adding that the “presumed support of the president for the Cuban people is nothing more than empty rhetoric.” Cuba confirmed this Tuesday the upcoming closing of the 407 Western Union payment points  in the country due to the sanctions announced last weekend by the Trump administration, which prohibit the sending of remittances from the United States to the island through official...

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaking at a rally in Phoenix on October
8, 2020. Behind her, Joe Biden listening to her. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP.

Elections: Democratic binomial would repeal Trump’s Cuba policies

The Democratic candidate for the U.S. vice presidency, Kamala Harris, affirmed in an interview with EFE that if she and her running mate, Joe Biden, reach the White House, they will repeal the restrictions that Donald Trump has imposed on the island, although the end of the embargo will not happen “soon.” Harris said they would backtrack on Trump’s failed policies, and as Joe Biden did previously as vice president, he will also demand the release of political prisoners and make human rights a centerpiece in diplomatic relations. Biden, who was the vice president of Barack Obama (2009-2017), has expressed his desire to improve relations with Cuba and return to the policies of the stage known as “thaw,” which began in 2014 and ended with the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House in January 2017. During that stage of détente, Obama took several measures to relax the restrictions of the economic embargo that has been imposed on the island since 1962 and even asked his country’s Congress to lift it, since that body is the only one with the capacity to do so. Asked about it, Harris avoided speaking directly, although she was pessimistic about the possibility...

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