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Josefina Vidal in the Cuban Foreign Ministry months ago. Photo: @CubaMINREX.

Cuba: “Canada’s decision made public today is incomprehensible”

Cuban ambassador to Canada Josefina Vidal protested this Wednesday the decision of the Canadian government to reduce its diplomatic staff in Havana after the announcement that another Canadian is affected by some mysterious brain disorders. In a statement, Vidal said that although Cuba understands Ottawa's need to protect its diplomatic staff, "it considers that Canada's decision, made public today, is incomprehensible." The Canadian authorities announced today that after the discovery of a new case of brain damages among its diplomatic staff in Havana, it will cut the number of employees from 16 to 8. Vidal said that the decrease in Canadian diplomatic personnel "will not help find answers to the symptoms of Canadian diplomats and will have an impact on relations." "This behavior favors those who in the United States use this matter to attack and degrade Cuba," the Cuban diplomat added. The Cuban ambassador also pointed out that Cuba is collaborating fully with the Canadian government and "has provided all the available evidence" while at the same time placing at its disposal the "best Cuban experts in the most diverse fields." But Vidal also noted that "despite the decision of the Canadian government, Cuba remains committed to maintaining the...

From left to right, the delegates of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) Aureliano Carbone, Pablo Beltrán, Bernardo Téllez and Isabel Torres at a press conference on Thursday, August 2, 2018, at Havana’s International Press Center. Photo: Yander Zamora / EFE.

ELN leaders will not ask for asylum in Cuba and will return to camps in Colombia

The chief peace negotiator of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Cuba, Israel Ramírez, alias “Pablo Beltrán”, said this Saturday that after the reactivation of the arrest warrants the 10 members of the team will not ask for political asylum on the island but will return to their camps in Colombia. Asylum, said Ramírez in an interview with Caracol Radio, "is forbidden in the ELN," so "if we suffer political persecution for revolutionary ideas we’ll go to the mountains. That’s the best way." The guerrilla leader clarified that "if one wants Colombia to change, one cannot leave the country," which is why the insurgents will try to "create the conditions to return to the camps," which is what the Central Command of the ELN orders." Ramírez' statements came after Colombian President Iván Duque announced on January 18 the reactivation of arrest warrants for negotiators in Cuba as a result of the terrorist attack that left the day before a toll of 21 dead and 68 wounded in the Santander General Police Cadet School, in Bogotá. The peace talks with the ELN were initiated by the previous Colombian government in February 2017 in Quito, but in May 2018 they moved to...

Photo: lavozdelsandinismo.com

Cuban Christians view U.S. announcement about Helms-Burton Act as a “threat”

In a statement on Wednesday, the Council of Churches of Cuba (CIC) described as a "worrying threat" the announcement that the U.S. aims to activate a title of the controversial Helms-Burton Act that would allow Americans to claim property confiscated after the Revolution. The group, which comprises several branches of Cuban Christianity outside the Catholic Church, rejected Washington’s decision to shorten from six months to 45 days the usual term for reviewing Title III - currently suspended - of the legislation passed in 1996. This change of direction of the United States "is a worrying threat of aggression against the independence, sovereignty and dignity of our Cuban people; as well as against all the countries of the world," said the text, signed by the president of the CIC, the Reverend Antonio Santana, and published in several official Cuban media. Cuban Christians called attention to the "extraterritorial nature" of the Helms-Burton Act that attacks "any country that maintains commercial relations with Cuba." "One of the excuses is the false accusation of lack of democracy in Cuba," reads the statement, which defends the Cuban government as "fair, legal and legitimate." https://oncubanews.com/cuba-ee-uu/eeuu-evalua-permitir-demandas-por-expropiaciones-realizadas-en-cuba/ Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened the U.S. embargo...

Cuban doctors from Brazil’s “More Doctors” collaboration project. Photo: UOL / Archive.

Brazil studying regularization of Cuban doctors who want to continue in the country

The Brazilian government is studying the regularization of Cuban doctors who want to continue in the South American country, after the official departure of the island's collaborators from the "More Doctors" program, in response to some controversial statements by President Jair Bolsonaro. The Brazilian Ministry of Health said that, "concerned about the humanitarian issue," "it is seeking a way to allow the reintegration of these professionals after the revalidation of their titles," according to Agencia Brasil news agency. Read the Tweet here In this way, the government of Bolsonaro hopes to complete the nearly 1,500 vacancies still open in "More Doctors," which since 2013 made it possible to hire foreign doctors to cover health care in the poorest and most remote areas of Brazil. However, Havana decided last November to abandon the project in protest against the "threatening and derogatory" comments by the ultra-right-wing Bolsonaro, as alleged at the time by the island's government. Bolsonaro, who took over the Presidency of Brazil on January 1 after winning the October elections, called Cuban doctors "slaves" of a "dictatorship." In addition, he demanded a group of conditions for them to remain in the country, among them the revalidation of their title and...

Colombian President Iván Duque making a statement at the Santander General Police School, in Bogotá, after a bomb exploded on the campus on Thursday, January 17, 2019. Photo: John Wilson Vizcaino / AP.

Duke insists that Cuba hand over ELN negotiators

Colombian President Iván Duque last week asked Cuba to hand over the ten members of the ELN who are part of the peace delegation on the island after ordering the lifting of the suspension of arrest warrants against them after the terrorist attack in Bogotá that left 21 cadets dead and 68 injured. https://oncubanews.com/mundo/america-latina/colombia-ordena-arresto-de-lideres-de-eln-que-permanecen-en-cuba/ "I want to make it clear and make a respectful call to that government. What was presented this week doesn’t change anything, it does not mean stopping any dialogue because we were not present at that table waiting for the hostages to be freed and the terrorist attacks to stop," said Duque in response to a Cuban Foreign Ministry declaration. Because of the aforementioned, he said, "we ask that government to hand over these criminals to justice." Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez pledged to respect the peace dialogue protocols between the government of Colombia and the ELN, based in Havana, in response to Bogotá’s request. "Cuba will act in strict compliance with the Peace Dialogue Protocols signed between the government and the ELN, including the Protocol in Case of Breaking-off the Negotiation. It is being consulted with the parties and other guarantors," Rodríguez wrote in his...

A man surfs the Internet in his home on Amargura and Mercaderes streets, one of the places chosen for the home Internet pilot test, in the neighborhood of Old Havana, in December 2016. Photo: Joaquín Hernández / Xinhua.

Internet at home mode advances timidly: reaches 70,400 users

More than 70,400 Cubans are connected to the Internet today from their homes, a service that has grown timidly since its inception in 2017 compared to the popularity of the recent activation of the mobile data with 3G technology, which already exceeds 1.8 million customers in little more than a month. Cuba, one of the most disconnected nations in the world, offers the Nauta Hogar private service in 115 of the country’s 168 municipalities, according to recent data from the state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA, published last Saturday by the official daily Juventud Rebelde. 95 percent of Nauta Hogar customers use the 1-megabit connection, the cheapest of the four available packages, ranging from 15 to 70 CUC (Cuban convertible peso equivalent to the dollar), high prices when compared to state wages, whose average does not exceed 30 dollars per month. https://oncubanews.com/opinion/columnas/on-decimas/ey-viene-nauta-hogar/ Until two years ago the connection from homes was only available to a few of the island’s professionals, among them doctors, journalists and teachers, who receive the subsidized service by the State. The marketing of Nauta Hogar is part of a government strategy that seeks to close the technological gap with the rest of the world and develop the opening...

Carlos Acosta. Photo: exeuntmagazine.com

Cuban Carlos Acosta will direct the Royal Ballet of Birmingham

Cuban dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta this Tuesday was appointed as the new director of the Royal Ballet of Birmingham, according to the company, one of the most prestigious in the United Kingdom. Acosta, 45, will take over in January 2020, after being selected in a competition opened by a group of international experts, the Royal Ballet of Birmingham said in a statement. The appointment of the Cuban takes place after the current director, British David Bintley, announced his retirement for next July, at the end of the season. See Birmingham Royal Ballet´s Tweet Acosta commented that it is a "tremendous honor and privilege" to have been selected for the position and recognized his "great admiration" for Bintley, who has managed to establish the company as one of the "world leaders of classical ballet." "My ambition is to build on its classical tradition, expand the repertoire and reach new and more varied audiences," added the Havana dancer. For his part, the president of the British ballet, David Normington, highlighted the good moment the company is going through and described Acosta as the "best male dancer of this generation." "I know he will bring us his artistic legend, his energy and...

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and former President Raúl Castro, on May 1, 2018. Photo: Desmond Boylan / AP.

Cuba: Transportation and finance ministers replaced

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel this Tuesday dismissed Minister of Finance and Prices Lina Pedraza and of Transportation Adel Yzquierdo, the first replacements since the composition of his cabinet in July 2018. The Council of State, on the proposal of its president - Díaz-Canel - agreed to "free of their posts" ministers Pedraza and Yzquierdo, recognizing "the work performed by both their agencies" and that "they will be assigned other responsibilities," according to an official press release reported on by state television. Adel Yzquierdo, 73, assumed in 2015 the transportation portfolio, one of the sectors with the greatest problems in the country, from the dissatisfaction of many taxi drivers with the new rules to regulate their service to the tragic plane crash of May last year in Havana. This accident, considered one of the worst in civil aviation in Cuba and whose causes are still being investigated, left a toll of 112 dead. In this archive photo of May 18, 2018, President Díaz-Canel, third from the right, at the site where a Boeing 737 went down in Havana with more than 100 passengers on board. Photo: Enrique de la Osa / AP. The current first deputy minister...

Little Duck Key.

Twenty Cuban rafters arrested in Florida Keys

A group of more than 20 Cuban immigrants who arrived in a rustic boat were arrested on land after reaching the shores of the Florida Keys, in the extreme south of the country, local media reported. The group of "rafters" was discovered by agents of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday morning at Veteran's Memorial Park, at mile 42 of US1, on Little Duck Key. The migrants, all found in good health, arrived to the Florida coasts on the morning of that Thursday, after leaving Monday from the Cuban town of Santa Cruz del Norte, according to the local media FLKeysNews.com. Border Patrol agent Adam Hoffner said the Cubans were placed at the disposal of the immigration authorities for deportation to the island. In January 2017, then U.S. President Barack Obama (2009-2017) canceled the "dry foot / wet foot" policy decreed in 1995, by which Cubans who touched land were favored with the Cuban Adjustment Act and could stay in the country and even obtain permanent residence, while the others were deported to the island. Shortly before the elimination of this benefit, the arrival of an unusual amount of migrants from the Caribbean country was registered in the Straits...

The diesel railcar that arrived in Cuba from Russia on January 3, 2019. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia / Granma.

More Russian locomotives and a diesel railcar for Cuba

A batch of seven locomotives and the first diesel railcar experimental prototype (ultralight train) arrived this Thursday at the port of Havana from Russia, as part of a contract with the Eurasian country to modernize Cuba’s railroad  sector. Their arrival has been added to the 43 locomotives out of a total of 75 manufactured by the Russian company Sinara scheduled to arrive gradually to the island until 2021 with the aim of incorporating them to railroad freight transportation. Each of the engines has an approximate cost of one million euros. In the case of diesel railcars, they were designed by Russia with the technique developed by the Railways Union of Cuba (UFC), according to a report in the daily Granma. UFC Deputy General Manager Rolando Navarro explained that the diesel railcar included in this lot will be tested during a period of 45 days, during which it will be subjected to different technical and transport tests and conditioning to the Cuban railways. At the end of 2018, as part of the UFC program to boost the railroad sector, a lot arrived with 35 equipment for the transport of cement. https://oncubanews.com/cuba/mas-generacion-electrica-y-mejores-trenes-en-cuba-en-2019/ In December 2016, Cuba and Russia agreed on a roadmap...

Cuba repeated in 2018 the lowest infant mortality rate in its history, with 4.0 per thousand live births. Photo: Oscar Alfonso Sosa / ACN.

Cuba repeats in 2018 lowest infant mortality rate in its history

Cuba closed 2018 with an infant mortality rate of 4.0 per thousand live births, the lowest in its history for the second consecutive year, according to the Cuban Ministry of Health (MINSAP). In the year recently concluded, 3.963 per thousand live births died, representing a decrease of 0.081 compared to 2017, when the rate was 4.044, according to data from the medical records and statistics reported by the daily Granma. Regarding births, there were 116,320 in 2018, 1,349 more than in 2017, while there were 461 deaths in children under one year, four fewer than the previous year. The Cuban provinces with the lowest reported rates were the Isla de la Juventud special municipality, with 2.1, and the provinces Camagüey (2.6), Cienfuegos (2.7), Granma (2.8) and Sancti Spíritus (2.9). However, the report indicates that the aim was not met in the provinces of Guantánamo (7.3), Mayabeque (6.3), Havana (4.9), Ciego de Ávila (4.4) and Matanzas (4.1). MINSAP’s head of the mother-child department, Roberto Alvarez, explained that "the achievements and improvements" of this health indicator were due to the actions to improve the program of the family doctor and nurse and the development achieved by the community medical genetics. He added...

Joe Torre, director of sports operations for the MLB, and Higinio Vélez, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, during a MLB clinic in Havana in December 2015. Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

Cuban Baseball Federation explains agreement with Major League Baseball to Cuban baseball players

The Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) began holding meetings on December 28 with the players participating in the 58th National Series of the island's national pastime to explain the content of the agreement it signed with the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) for the hiring of players from the Caribbean country. https://youtu.be/b1EK6Ti-aXY The meetings, scheduled until December 29 in the cities of Havana, Santa Clara (center) and eastern Santiago de Cuba, also dealt with the characteristics of the contracts that Cuban players can have starting 2019 with 30 MLB teams, according to the FCB. https://oncubanews.com/deportes/beisbol/cuba-y-mlb-alcanzan-historico-acuerdo/ The head of the Federation, Higinio Vélez, headed the meetings "to clarify the doubts that the island’s main baseball players may have," said the statement released last Thursday by the state media. The main purpose of the agreement between the FCB and MLB, signed last December 19 in Havana after three years of negotiation, is to provide a "safe" way for Cuban baseball players to play hired by MLB teams and return to the island, without losing residence in their country of origin. https://oncubanews.com/deportes/beisbol/duque-hernandez-esto-debio-haber-ocurrido-hace-anos/ In the last five years, Cuban players’ defection to a third country to opt for residency, a requirement to later be able...

Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero, named resident choreographer of the Cuban Acosta Danza Company. Photo: @AcostaDanza / Twitter.

Acosta Danza Company appoints Spaniard Goyo Montero as resident choreographer

The Cuban Acosta Danza Company, founded and directed by prestigious dancer Carlos Acosta in Havana, named Spaniard Goyo Montero as its resident choreographer. Montero has maintained a working relationship with Acosta Danza since its creation in 2015 and his choreography "Alrededor no hay nada" was the first piece presented by the Cuban company in its Premiere Season, recalls a note sent to the EFE news agency by the group’s press department. Another piece by the Spanish dancer and choreographer titled "Imponderable," inspired in the lyrical work of Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, was premiered in 2017 by the company that considers that with the appointment of Montero, his creative work and Acosta Danza remain "closely linked." https://oncubanews.com/cultura/danza/temporada-de-acosta-danza-en-imagenes/ Goyo Montero, 43, was formed by Professor Carmen Roche and completed his studies at the Royal Conservatory for Professional Dance in Madrid and the School of the National Ballet of Cuba. In 2011 he received the National Prize for Dance from the Ministry of Culture of Spain for his outstanding career as a dancer and choreographer. In Germany, he has been principal dancer at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and soloist at the Oper Leipzig, and since the 2008-2009 season he has been ballet director...

Cuban doctors waiting to meet with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, after landing in Havana on Friday, November 23, 2018. Photo: Desmond Boylan / AP.

Díaz-Canel: 836 of the 8,471 doctors in Brazil have not returned to Cuba

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel last Friday criticized the "reactionary" position of Brazil's president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, and revealed that 836 of the more than 8,000 Cuban doctors who were withdrawn from the "More Doctors" collaboration program in that country have not returned to the island. Díaz-Canel said that when his government decided last November 14 to not continue participating in the "More Doctors" program, "8,471 collaborators were in Brazil, 7,635 of them completed their mission, representing more than 90 percent of the total," and he said that "until now 836 doctors have not returned." In his speech at the central ceremony for the end of the participation of the Cuban brigade in Brazil’s "More Doctors" program, Díaz-Canel said that among the doctors who served in Brazil, some formed families with Brazilian citizens and "honorably fulfilled their mission and their commitment" to the Caribbean country’s public health. The Cuban president stressed that the work of the island's doctors in places of extreme poverty, in favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia and in the 34 special indigenous districts, especially in the Amazon, was widely recognized by the federal, state and municipal governments, as well as the Brazilian population. He...

Moscow’s Red Square. Photo: pxhere.com

Cubans can now travel to Russia for 90 days without a visa

Cuban citizens will be able to travel to Russia for a period of three months without having to apply for a visa, upon the entry into force of the new exemption agreement that extends the stay permit from 30 to 90 days. The agreement, signed on May 22 in Moscow and applied reciprocally, was published this Friday on the official legal information page of the Russian Federation, thus already taking effect. The document stipulates that the visa exemption period is extended from 30 to 90 days for each 180-day period from the time of the first entry to Cuba or Russia, respectively. Citizens who wish to stay or reside in the territory of the other country for more than 90 days or engage in work or business activities must apply for the corresponding visa.

Domínguez, 35, is considered one of the best in the world.

Cuba disapproves chess player Leinier Domínguez’ entry in U.S. Federation

The Cuban Chess Federation (FCA) this Friday expressed its disagreement with the decision of Cuban Chess Grand Master Leinier Dominguez to join its counterpart in the United States, after he recently acquired U.S. citizenship. Dominguez, 35, leads the Latin American ranking with 2,739 Elo rating, and is considered the best Cuban chess player after world champion José Raúl Capablanca (1888-1942). https://oncubanews.com/deportes/leinier-dominguez-es-oficialmente-de-estados-unidos/ "We do not accept that Leinier (Domínguez) change Federation or play for any other country. It is not a matter of compensation, it is a matter of principle," affirmed the Cuban Chess Federation in a statement released in Havana. It also underlined that the change of Federation was concretized "by the player and under the prerogatives of the International Chess Federation (FIDE)." The island’s sports organization recalled that Domínguez had been inactive for two years for FIDE purposes, and stopped forming part of the Cuban national team after not participating in 2018 in the Capablanca in Memoriam International Tournament, which is held every year in Cuba. "This player did not represent Cuba in international events during this period due to personal situations that he repeatedly ratified to the National Chess Commission," it added. https://oncubanews.com/deportes/ajedrez-cubano-sin-leinier-dominguez/ Domínguez has been in the...

Voting during a session to debate the draft of a new Constitution at the Havana Convention Center, on Friday, December 21, 2018. Photo: Ramón Espinosa / AP.

Reference to communism returns to Cuban Constitution’s draft

The reference to communism that had been eliminated in the first draft of the new Cuban Constitution, whose final text was voted recently by the island’s National Assembly, was again included in the draft, after more than 1,800 Cubans requested it. Deputy for Holguín Yusuam Palacios revealed during the meetings prior to the plenary session last Friday that the word communism was included in the preamble of the Magna Carta under the statement "only in socialism and in communism do human beings reach their full dignity," the state-run daily Granma published recently. In the current Constitution (1976) the term appears in article 5, which establishes that "the Communist Party of Cuba, a follower of Martí and Marxism-Leninism, the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the highest leading force of society and of the State that organizes and guides the common efforts towards the high goals of the construction of socialism and the advance towards the communist society." However, in the first proposed draft that final reference was excluded. According to MP Palacios, the inclusion of the term "presents a revolutionary and coherent reading with what we have defended and must continue defending." With the reappearance of this reference to...

Photo: Ernestro Mastrascusa / EFE.

Americans’ arrival to Cuba increases in 2018

So far this year Cuba has received 605,416 American visitors, most of them on board cruise ships, a figure that has grown compared to 2017 despite the increase in restrictions on U.S. travel and the strengthening of the embargo, the island’s Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) executives said today. In addition to the U.S. travelers there are 585,600 Cubans living abroad, including Cuban-Americans, for an increase of 17 percent compared to the same period last year. Among Americans, Cuban-Americans and tourists of other nationalities who fly from the United States, a total of more than 1.6 million visitors have been registered so far, MINTUR Commercial Director Michel Bernal announced during a press conference. Michel Bernal (left), commercial director of the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) of Cuba, and José Daniel (right), director of development and investment of the Ministry of Tourism, during the press conference. Photo: Ernestro Mastrascusa / EFE. "This is still the second market after Canada, despite the blockade and the strong decline in flights" as a result of the restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump's government, which bans its citizens from traveling freely to Cuba, Bernal said. This market has had "the highest flow" after Canada, which although the...

The heritage city of Trinidad, in the center of Cuba. Photo: Archive

Italian T.O.MA. Group to build new hotel in Cuba

The Italian T.O.MA. Group signed in Havana a contract worth 80 million dollars with which it was awarded the construction of a hotel of the Spanish chain Iberostar in the heritage city of Trinidad, one of the main tourist centers in Cuba, the island’s media reported this Tuesday. The International Economic Association "AEI Trinidad," created in August 2017 between the Italian T.O.MA. Group and the Cuban state construction company DINVAI, will be responsible for the construction of the new hotel that will be added to the more than 20 facilities Iberostar manages in Cuba. See related Tweet The specialized companies Tonon, Tonoimpianti, Oberosler and Maeg, based in northeastern Italy, which belong to the T.O.MA. Group, will be involved in the construction of the Iberostar Trinidad, specified a news item published on the Cubadebate website. The Iberostar hotel company has been present since 1993 in Cuba, where it currently operates 28 hotels with more than 8,000 rooms under its administration, one of them in Trinidad and others in Havana, Varadero beach resort, and the island’s eastern provinces like Camagüey, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba. The last hotels inaugurated by the Spanish company in Cuba are the Grand Packard, a high-standard facility...

Photo: Claudio Pelaez Sordo

Article on egalitarian marriage in draft of Cuban Constitution modified

The committee preparing the draft of the new Cuban Constitution modified the article that opens the door to egalitarian marriage, after detecting the opposition to this issue during the popular debates on the reform of the Magna Carta that have taken place in the last three months. "The Committee proposes deferring the concept of marriage, that is, to leave it out of draft Constitution as a way of respecting all opinions. Marriage is a social and legal institution. The law will define the rest of the elements," the Cuban Parliament reported on its Twitter account. The initial proposal was to modify the concept of marriage that appears in the current Constitution (1976), where it is defined as the union between a man and a woman, a meaning that was proposed to be replaced by "the union between two people with legal capacity for it," without specifying gender. This change was announced during the meetings of the committees prior to the plenary session that the National Assembly will hold next Friday and in which it is expected that the constitutional draft will be put to the vote, with the incorporated proposals made by the citizens during the process of the text’s...

The presidents of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel (c-r) and of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro (c-l), during ALBA’s 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government held on December 14, 2018 in Havana. Photo: @CubaMINREX / Twitter.

ALBA advocates more “integration” amid the right’s advance

The countries grouped in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) commemorated last Friday in Havana the fourteen years of formation of a bloc that faces one of its most complicated moments, in the face of the return to the right that the region is experiencing and the United States’ open hostility. In its final declaration, the 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the ALBA advocated a greater commitment to "political consensus", "conscientious cooperation" and "integration." The members of the bloc also bet on building a new international order characterized for being "democratic, inclusive, fair and equitable." Read Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tweet The intergovernmental meeting brought together the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro; Bolivia, Evo Morales; and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, among others, who together with their Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, agreed to call for unity in the face of the conservative advance and Washington’s interference. In this new regional political cycle, the ALBA has lost what became one of its main supporters, Ecuador - President Lenin Moreno withdrew his country in August in response to the Venezuelan migration crisis - while Saint Lucia did not send anyone to the Havana meeting, in what...

Cubans use their phone to surf the Internet in Havana, on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 in a test conducted by ETECSA. Photo: Desmond Boylan / AP.

3G mobile Internet service begins in Cuba on December 6

Since last Thursday Cubans have been able to access the Internet for the first time through the 3G mobile service put in place by the state telecommunications monopoly in Cuba, ETECSA, which will offer four data packages. ETECSA executives announced last Tuesday on a Cuban television program that the users of that company must have a terminal or cell phone device that supports 3G technology in order to contract this new long-expected service by Cubans. As explained by the vice president of ETECSA, Tania Velázquez, the telephone company would send a personalized notice to its customers with the offer of the four packages available to access the service. The official explained the rate of the new mobile data service that for the 600 MB download package will have a monthly cost of 7 convertible pesos (CUC, equivalent to 7 dollars). In the case of access to the free Internet connection with 1 GB the price will be 10 CUC (10 dollars), if it is 2.5 GB it will go up to 20 CUC (20 dollars) and whoever chooses to buy the larger package of 4 GB will have to pay 30 CUC (30 dollars). https://www.facebook.com/cubadebate/videos/352248478842136/?t=0 Velázquez indicated that each of...

General view of the constitutive session of the 9th Legislature of the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power. Photo: Alejandro Ernesto / EFE.

Cuban National Assembly to debate in December final draft of new Constitution

The Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power last Saturday summoned its second and last period of sessions of the year for December 16-21, when it will debate and foreseeably approve the final draft of the new Constitution, a step prior to the February referendum. In the announcement published in the official media, the speaker of the Assembly, Esteban Lazo, indicated that the 10 Standing Parliament Committees will meet from Sunday 16 to Thursday 20 of this month to hold “regular work and study meetings on the Draft Constitution.” On Friday December 21, the Cuban legislative body will hold its last plenary meeting of the year, out of the two traditionally summoned in July and December. Last July the Assembly already approved a first draft of the new Constitution, which incorporates to the still in force 1976 Magna Carta 224 articles divided into 11 titles, 24 chapters and 16 sections. The MPs will now analyze the modified text after three months of popular consultation, in which almost nine million resident and expatriated Cubans participated. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/society-cuba/population/almost-nine-million-cubans-participate-in-debate-on-new-constitution/ The most debated subjects were those related to the presidential term in office, the modification that will open the way to same-sex marriages on the island,...

Novelist Leonardo Padura shows his diploma that confirms him as a member of the Cuban Academy of the Language this November 26, 2018, in Havana. Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa / EFE.

Padura christens his seat in the Cuban Academy while preparing his new novel

Writer Leonardo Padura, considered Cuba’s author with the greatest international projection, this November 26 was named a member of the Cuban Academy of the Language, where he expects to contribute his personal way of understanding literature while he prepares his new novel. “I’m working with a way of understanding the language that has to do with the street, with life, with evolution, the revolution that language represents,” Padura (Havana, 1955) said in an interview with the EFE agency after the official ceremony to enter the Academy, where he will occupy seat U. The writer, father of detective Mario Conde who is the main character of his detective novels and the author of the famous El hombre que amaba a los perros, recognized that what differentiates him from the other members of the Academy is “not being an academician,” which is why he promised to contribute in that institution his “work as a writer.” He will combine it with the preparation of his next novel, of which he gave some previews: it will be called El clan disperso, the title of an unconcluded manuscript by Alejo Carpentier, and it will deal with “the Cuban dispersion, that of my generation,” that is,...

Spanish Government President Pedro Sánchez (l) with Minister of Industry Reyes Maroto and president of the Spanish Federation of Business Organizations, Antonio Garamendi, in a meeting in Havana with Spanish businesspeople who have interests in Cuba. Photo: JuanJo Martin / EFE.

Cuba to give priority to Spain in its railroad and airport projects

Spanish corporations have established themselves as preferential candidates to restore the short route railroad network and to manage four airports in Cuba, according to sources from the Spanish presidency in Havana. “Cuba has made a commitment to send a list of prioritized projects it wants to set aside for Spain,” the source revealed to EFE after Government President Pedro Sánchez highlighted during his visit that promoting Spanish companies’ business in Cuba was the special objective of the first official trip to the island of a leader from Spain in 32 years. Among the projects that would be assigned to Spain, in addition to several initiatives in agribusiness and renewable energy, the source referred to the railroad and revealed that “there is a commitment that the long routes be made by the Russians and the short ones will go to Spain.” The negotiations of this possible agreement have been led by Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto, who traveled to Havana as part of Pedro Sánchez’ delegation and last week participated in a business forum with 300 businesspeople present or interested in Cuba. https://oncubanews.com/cuba/pedro-sanchez-en-cuba-mi-presencia-debe-ser-un-mensaje-de-seguridad-para-el-comercio-y-las-inversiones/ Cuba and Russia already signed in December 2016 a project to develop the railroad...

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