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 Since former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) repealed in early 2017 the “dry foot/wet foot” policy that granted legal status to Cubans who were able to land in the United States, the number of rafters has dropped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...

Dozens of people wear face masks on Monday while riding an urban transportation bus in Havana. Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa/EFE.

Cuba enters “new normal,” except for Havana, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila

Cuba will enter the post-COVID-19 “new normal” next Monday, except for Havana and the two central provinces of Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus, the government announced this Thursday, without yet giving a specific date for the reopening of borders, closed since April. The capital, the main gateway to the country and the only destination where U.S. airlines are allowed to fly, will go to phase 3 of recovery which includes almost total opening of services and productive activities, but at the moment it does not foresee the restart of international flights. In a two-hour television appearance, Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero explained that under the “new normal” PCR tests will be carried out on all travelers arriving on the island, who will wait for the result in hotels or in their homes under health surveillance rather than in state isolation centers as before. The prime minister, however, did not specify whether as of Monday the airports in the rest of the country will come into operation, most of them certified under the new health protocols to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. Cuba’s airspace and ports have been closed since last April, with the exception of tourism...

Russian locomotive of a batch that arrived in Cuba in 2017. Photo: Prensa Latina/Archive.

Russia to deliver seven new locomotives to Cuba this year

Russia will deliver seven locomotives to Cuba at the end of this year, as part of an action plan to restore and modernize the railway infrastructure on the island by 2021, the Russian Ministry of Transportation announced this Thursday in a statement. In a meeting between Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas with Russian Deputy Minister of Transportation Dmitri Zverev, the progress between the Russian Railways and the Union of Cuban Railways was “emphasized when working on a project to restore and modernize the island’s railway infrastructure.” The two sides also stressed the “importance of the early start of relevant work” in this area. “For this, Russian Railways and the Union of Cuban Railways will develop an action plan for 2021 aimed at starting the project,” said the Russian Ministry of Transportation. The representative of the Russian company Sinara-Transport Machines, also present at the meeting, addressed the renovation of the locomotive fleet, the modernization of the depot and the training of specialists from the Union of Cuban Railways. Plans to implement more projects in the field of maritime transportation were also discussed, in agreement with the Russian Government, and the development in the near future of a roadmap for...

Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez. Photo:

Cuba rejects report on human rights violations in Venezuela

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez rejected this Wednesday the report of the UN International Mission that denounces serious violations of human rights in Venezuela, considering that it is a “politically motivated document.” The report on the “alleged Independent International Mission” of the UN in Venezuela “lacks technical rigor, objectivity and impartiality,” according to the foreign minister, who expressed his disagreement through a message on Twitter. “We reject this politically motivated document, part of the discrediting campaign led by the U.S. against that brotherly people and government,” he concluded. Cuba’s reaction came a few days after the publication of the report of the International Mission to analyze possible human rights violations in Venezuela, which details crimes against humanity committed by the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela and Cuba have maintained a close political and economic alliance for two decades, a closeness that in the last two years has motivated the United States to tighten sanctions against the Caribbean island, whose government it accuses of propping up Chavismo in power. The document, presented yesterday before the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council, denounces extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, torture and other crimes committed by the Venezuelan regime. To...

Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas met with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Council of the Russian Federation. Photo: @AnaTeresitaGF/Twitter.

Cuba justifies delays in meeting obligations with Russia

Cuba is having difficulties meeting its obligations with Russia due to the U.S. economic embargo and the coronavirus pandemic, Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas admitted yesterday during a meeting with the speaker of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matviyenko. “These are two factors that are affecting our economy and having an impact on our bilateral economic relations, because as a result we have had some delays in this year 2020 to meet our obligations,” said Cabrisas, as reported to EFE by the Russian Senate press department. Due to this situation “and in accordance with existing regulations and mechanisms,” said the senior Cuban official, “all our exchange, our trade, is practically paralyzed.” Cabrisas, who arrived in Russia to participate in the meeting between co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission with his Russian counterpart, Yuri Borisov, warned that “the worst thing is that it is difficult to predict when we will be able to overcome the impact of the pandemic not only in Cuba, but also in general.” However, he affirmed that Havana is confident it will meet its commitments in the future and affirmed that “we are convinced that we will succeed.” Despite these difficulties, both parties noted the good level...

Rodríguez Parrilla, on the screens, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, United States. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations is being held virtually. Photo: Manuel Elias/UN Photo/EFE/EPA.

Cuban foreign minister criticizes “irresponsible behavior” of the United States

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla denounced this Monday the “irresponsible behavior” of the United States government. He said it during a virtual appearance in the special session of the United Nations General Assembly for the commemoration of its 75th anniversary. “It is the greatest danger to international peace and security. It promotes conflicts, unconventional and commercial wars and imposes severe unilateral coercive measures and squanders, in its arms race, essential resources for the sustainable development of our peoples,” said the Cuban minister. He also pointed out that Washington refuses to cooperate in confronting the multiple crises generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and does not recognize important agreements on the environment, disarmament and arms control, while leaving international forums such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. “It would seem that it is at war with the planet, its vital resources and its inhabitants,” he added in his appearance from Havana.  Rodríguez also denounced that the current U.S. administration has increased its hostility against Cuba to “qualitatively superior” levels, as well as intensifying its economic, commercial and financial blockade and attacking the island’s medical cooperation and the governments that request it. “It interferes in...

Health workers walk through the Health District in Miami, Florida, USA. Photo: Cristóbal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EFE/Archive.

Florida confirms more than 2,500 new coronavirus cases and 9 deaths

The state of Florida (U.S.) reached 683,754 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and 13,459 deaths from the COVID-19 disease this Sunday, and maintains the downward trend of daily positive cases, reported the state’s Department of Health. The agency specified that 2,521 new cases and 9 deaths were registered in the last 24 hours. Miami-Dade County, the most affected by the coronavirus in Florida, reached 3,055 deaths and 166,881 cases. This is followed by neighboring Broward County, with 75,682 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 1,320 deaths. The Florida Department of Health reported this Saturday a 4.64% rate of positive cases in one day. Since March 1, when the first case was registered in Florida, more than 5.1 million tests have been performed. The number of pathogen-positive patients currently hospitalized has decreased more than 70% since July, according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration. There are 2,285 current hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, out of a total of 42,453 during the pandemic, it specified. On the other hand, compared to the first week of August, in the first week of September there was a 74% decrease in the average number of reported COVID-19-related deaths, the Florida Department of Health noted....

A man and a health worker, wearing masks, were registered this Thursday while talking on a street in Havana. Photo: EFE/Yander Zamora.

Havana extends restrictive measures against COVID-19 for 15 days

The Cuban authorities extended for another fifteen days the strong restrictive measures decreed to contain the outbreaks of coronavirus in Havana, which were initially going to be in force from September 1 to 15 and will now remain until the 30th of this month. The governor of Havana, Reinaldo García Zapata, said in a television appearance that the decision was made because “it has not been possible to contain the spread of the epidemic in the city,” where there is a worrying spread of infections, with cases in the city’s 15 municipalities. Havana, considered the Cuban epicenter of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic last March, had to cancel its reopening earlier this month due to several outbreaks that spread to other regions of the country, which already has a total of 4,593 confirmed patients and 106 deceased. The measures in force since last September 1 in the capital are the most severe applied since the beginning of the pandemic, and include a night curfew between seven in the evening and five in the morning, the paralyzation of public transportation, the increase in distance work and maximum restrictions on entering and leaving the city, which has been cut...

A family in a swimming pool at a resort in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic). Photo: EFE/Francesco Spotorno/Archive.

Tourism in Cuba is suffering “shock” from COVID-19, says expert

Cuba has had a tremendous “shock” due to the drop in tourism, an activity that the coronavirus is going to deal a very hard blow, according to UN Undersecretary General Luis Felipe López-Calva, in an interview with EFE. COVID-19 caused a 15% drop in air traffic in the Caribbean, a disaster for a region in which tourism in some countries accounts for 50% of their economy and which has generated an unpredictable impact in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. The official, also regional director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Latin America and the Caribbean, pointed out that the crisis caused by the new coronavirus has had a greater impact on the Caribbean region, since it includes the countries in the world with greater dependence on tourism, which makes it necessary to look for alternative solutions. How is COVID-19 affecting the tourism sector in the Caribbean? One of the sectors most affected by this pandemic has been tourism and it has affected many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Costa Rica and Mexico, for example, have a very strong sector in tourism, very affected. For both the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the foreign exchange from tourism...

In recent weeks Havana has been the only Cuban province in phase 0 or “stage of limited transmission” of coronavirus, which is why strong measures were already in force such as the suspension of public transportation, the limitation of access to the province, the closure of most of the services and the mandatory use of the mask outside the home. Photo: Yander Zamora/EFE.

Havana and its harsh confinement due to COVID-19 outbreaks

Havana is subject to the most restrictive measures imposed by the Cuban government for at least 15 days since the beginning of the pandemic, which include a curfew as of 7:00 p.m., the prohibition to leave the city and hefty fines for non-compliance. The authorities affirm that the rebound in coronavirus cases in the capital (they went from reaching zero in mid-July to registering several dozen a day in the second half of August) justify the restrictions that will remain in force in the first half of September. Curfew and fines From seven in the evening to five in the morning the streets must be empty, under surveillance by the police, who will punish anyone who goes out with fines of between 2,000 and 3,000 Cuban pesos (between 80 and 120 dollars), a high amount in a country where the average state salary does not reach 45 dollars. In the case of children, the elderly and people with disabilities, they may not go out at any time; the use of recreational and sports areas will also be restricted, alcoholic beverages can’t be consumed in public places, and no kind of parties will be allowed. Likewise, entry and exit to...

Cuban pioneers meet again when they return to school. Photo:

The atypical return to the classrooms in Cuba

Except for Havana―the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic on the island―and a few other towns, Cuba returned to the classrooms this Tuesday amid a second wave of coronavirus infections after more than six months of an unprecedented early closure. With a mandatory mask and received by health workers at the entrance, hundreds of thousands of students returned to schools in central and eastern Cuba this Tuesday. This atypical “back to school” also includes some western territories, where most of the active cases of the virus are concentrated. The recent outbreaks of coronavirus will keep some 355,000 students from Havana at home, but also from six towns in Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Matanzas (west) and Villa Clara (center) with local transmission of the disease. The capital’s universities will not reopen their doors until the health situation improves in the city, under new restrictive measures as of this Tuesday to try to control the coronavirus outbreaks in its fifteen municipalities. The pandemic, with already 4,065 positive cases and 95 dead, has achieved what decades of the U.S. embargo and economic crisis have not been able to do: traditional massive parades, religious celebrations and schools have been closed, an alternative to which...

Cuban doctors in Venezuela. Photo: / Archive.

Cuba sends a new team to Venezuela to fight COVID-19

Help us keep OnCuba alive Cuba sent a new health team of 212 doctors to Venezuela. They will join the island's health professionals who support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in that South American country. "A new team of 212 doctors from #Cuba will support our brothers, the people and government of #Venezuela, in the confrontation with # COVID19," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez wrote on Twitter this Monday. The head of Cuban diplomacy added that the island's health professionals who arrived in Caracas yesterday “will reinforce the work of the ‘Barrio Adentro’ mission. Solidarity and cooperation: bases of this joint effort”. This new group of doctors is part of the international contingent "Henry Reeve" who has traveled abroad to combat the pandemic since March, and who is part of the 1,000 doctors expected to go to work in Venezuela this year to join the mission "Barrio Adentro”, as reported by state media. A specialized technical delegation traveled to Venezuela last March, after the detection of the first positive cases of SARS-CoV-2, to guide the 20,000 Cuban collaborators who provide service in that country; recalls the Cuban News Agency (ACN). ACN also points out that Cuban doctors in...

A woman jogs in Havana, wearing a mask as a protection measure against the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Study Finds Viruses Can Spread Through Dust

Help us keep OnCuba alive Virus particles usually spread on the air through dust, fibers, and other microscopic particles, according to an investigation carried out by the University of California at Davis (United States) and published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday. The findings have important implications for understanding how flu and the new coronavirus are transmitted. The flu virus is thought to be spread indirectly from the droplets that someone breathes out or through objects called fomites, such as doorknobs or used tissues. However, little was known about which forms of infection are the most important until now, and, depending on the type of virus (flu or coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV2), the form of infection may be different. William Ristenpart, Chemical Engineering professor at the University of California, noted that airborne transmission was previously thought to occur due to respiratory droplets emitted by coughing, sneezing, or talking. That is why transmission through the dust "opens up entirely new areas of research and has profound implications for the way laboratory experiments and epidemiological investigations of outbreaks are interpreted". The research also studied whether small non-respiratory particles called "aerosol fomites" could carry the flu virus among guinea pigs. "It is...

The ABCD project is the largest study on adolescent brain development. Photo:

Researcher of Cuban-origin leads a study on brain development in adolescents

Help us keep OnCuba alive "All brains are different", says to EFE Raúl González, one of the main researchers of a project on brain development in adolescence. The research has an object of study of almost 12,000 American children, and it will last at least 10 years. The study, known by the acronym ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development), began in 2015. It has just obtained the necessary funds to continue at least until the minors have reached the age of 20. González was born in Cuba in 1975, and he arrived in the United States at the age of five. Now, he leads a team of 14 researchers from Florida International University (FIU) assigned for the ABCD project. Undated photograph provided by the International University of Florida that shows Professor Raúl González. Photo: International University of Florida / EFE. In an interview with Efe, he highlights the enormous possibilities that have been opened for science with this unique project, which includes the participation of institutions from all over the United States, in addition to FIU. 140 terabytes of data The National Institutes of Health have now awarded 290 million dollars (about 244 million euros) to guarantee...

GM maize. Photo:

Cuba opens door to GM crops amid food crisis

“We’re not saying that (transgenic technology) is the only way, but that it is one more alternative, a complement to conventional agriculture, and its link with the moment the country is going through is very important,” said Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Environment Armando Rodríguez.

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