Fernando Ravsberg

Fernando Ravsberg

Photo by Dario Leyva

Cuban anti-cholera vaccine

Dr. Rafael Fando, of Cuba’s National Center for Scientific Research, (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas, CNIC) is the leading researcher for the anti-cholera vaccine. He began working on the vaccine since he was a student and continued after graduating. The CNIC has existed for half a century and the average age of its scientists is 40. They carry out biomedical research on natural products, environmental studies, and biological products for preventing infectious diseases. Why work on a vaccine against cholera, a disease whose incidence is practically non-existent in Cuba? It was an idea of Fidel’s, in 1991, when the epidemic began in Peru. Cuba was going through its most difficult years of the Special Period (economic crisis) at that time. The idea emerged because no pharmaceutical company would work on the issue; it’s not a vaccine that can generate major revenue. A number of us at different research center began the work, some with an inactivated variant, while we used a live vaccine to be administered in a single dose. Anti-cholera vaccines are meant for poor destinations, underdeveloped countries, which is why the ideal is for a single dose to be enough. Work on this vaccine has been going on...

Cuban Civil Society and the Debate

If the quarrel between civil society representatives sent from Havana and civil society representatives shipped over from Miami took us back in time some, the civility of the encounter between presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama pointed towards the present and the future. It would seem the two leaders are the ones who best represent their countries’ civil societies, those that wish to put an end to a confrontation that has been going on for more than fifty years, a toxic residue of the Cold War. The joy on the streets of Cuba on December 17 could not be concealed, and surveys conducted with US citizens and Cuban Americans reveal widespread support for the normalization of relations and civilized debate between the two countries. So, who do these two groups that showed up in Panama on behalf of “Cuban civil society” – and ended up making a spectacle of themselves through provocations, insults and brawls, a spectacle that went around the world and tarnished Cuba’s image – actually represent? The leaders of official civil society organizations (selected on the basis of criteria I am unaware of) went on Cuba’s behalf. If anything is clear, it is the fact they do...

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Cuba and the Prophets of Fear

Relations between Cuba and the United States are entering a new and more complex stage. It began with current peace negotiations, which still haven’t managed to secure a complete ceasefire. Havana continues to publicly condemn the “Empire” and Washington is still imposing sanctions on those who have business dealings with the island. Despite all this, the two countries are moving towards more civilized forms of confrontation. We are seeing the creation of a different stage, where most differences can be settled in the field of ideas and politics, in the minds and hearts of Cubans. Some are afraid, because they have become accustomed to trench warfare and lack the skills needed for debate. Extremists at both ends are indeed concerned, feeling they could be deprived of their leading roles. Their resistance to current changes is a pure survival instinct: after so many years of staging nothing but monologues, they are incapable of communicating with someone who refutes what they say. They may have learned how to give out orders, but they are incapable of persuading Cubans at either end of the Strait of Florida. Some have become experts in harassing artists who visit Miami, threatening the more moderate émigrés, controlling...

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Our daily bread

“The idea started here at home. My husband proposed that we make our own bread and we bought a machine, but then after watching Internet videos and looking at PDFs of books by master bakers, we realized that artisan bread making was much better.” Ianeya Borrego is a lawyer, but she found that she has a passion for baking. She enjoys “kneading, watching the dough rise, touching the flour, shaping it.” Ever since the Raúl Castro government authorized self-employment, individual initiative has skyrocketed, producing thousands of new snack shops, restaurants, construction crews, private taxis and hostels. However, this same opening has also led to a certain saturation of the market and the search for new niches, such as air conditioning cooperatives, home delivery of foods, homemade Italian-style pastries, and Borrego’s nascent artisan bakery. Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz The bread varieties she makes can’t be found in state bakeries. “We make white bread, with white crumb and a semi-hard crust, the typical, everyday French bread, made with flour, water and salt, and that’s it. Under the same principle, we make whole wheat bread, mixing the flours; black bread, which consists of using white flour and...

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Balancing Commerce to Ensure Freedom

The rapprochement between Washington and Havana is starting to have repercussions around the world, even though the US economic embargo is still effective and only the first steps towards the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries have been taken. United States citizens are still officially barred from visiting Cuba as tourists but the truth is that the number of US visitors to the island has increased since December 17 last year. According to AP, travel bookings made with a New York agency increased by 187{bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de} and 250{bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de} in February and March of this year, respectively. The major cruise operators in the world have set your eyes on Cuba given the lack of rooms that could be on the island when the USA Tourism / Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz The potential for growth in the tourism industry could well be measured on the basis of new airline itineraries. Direct New York-Havana flights have begun to be offered, Spain’s commercial airline company Iberia announced it would be re-establishing Cuba flights, a Swiss company is starting to offer non-stop flights to the island and the German company Lufthansa will begin offering low-cost trips to the Cuban capital....

The order of the Ministry of Health for relatives back is given verbally without showing a written resolution.

“No One is Above the Law”

For decades, differences in the standard of living of Cubans were determined, not by people’s incomes, but by the privileges enjoyed by certain sectors – owing to their involvement in the revolutionary struggle or the positions they held. Under Cuba’s “meritocracy,” wage differences were minimal but privileged individuals had cars with gasoline quotas, a good apartment or house, access to recreational centers, authorization to travel abroad and permission to shop at the occasional, restricted-access store. That policy, aimed at rewarding the sacrifice and contributions of certain citizens, gradually became distorted and these privileges began to be distributed among the leadership’s “spoiled children,” other members of their family and even lovers. Today, President Raul Castro is replacing the formula of “merit equals privilege” with the socialist one “to everyone according to their work,” accepting greater wage differences and proposing a system where these determine people’s standard of living. Like always, the theory is simpler than its practical application. Economists suggested raising wages only in those sectors that were increasing productivity in order to avoid inflation by distributing nonexistent wealth. This way, wages in public health, the sector bringing in the most income, were raised. The wage increase was significant, but salaries...

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

The Sea Between Cuba and the USA: Bridge or Barrier?

The establishment of maritime routes between the United States and Cuba seems feasible today: it has been approved by the two governments and it is the express interest of several shipping companies. If such plans came to fruition, travel and shipping prices could drop substantially. Before December 17 last year, putting the ferry that connected the two countries before the triumph of the 1959 revolution back into circulation seemed like a pipe-dream. With the pivotal turn that relations between the two countries have experienced, it now seems like a logical step, given the volume of traffic expected in the Straits of Florida. One of these ships alone can carry the same number of people as half a dozen charter flights, offering lower fare prices and the possibility of transporting more luggage – something extremely important for Cubans on both shores. Cuban citizens are not authorized to board commercial or tourist ships. / Photo: Raquel Perez I even imagine that passengers would also be able to travel with their cars, as is the case with some ferries in Europe. It would be incredible to see cars with US license plates driving down Cuba’s Via Blanca highway, while...

Spain´s Zapatero supports removal of Cuba of US list of countries that sponsor terrorism

The Spanish president, José Luis Zapatero, asked the US government to exclude Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism internationally. "I believe that Cuba should be out of that list," he said before saying that members of the Basque organization ETA found in the island came as part of an agreement with Madrid. "That was done in a framework of cooperation and collaboration with the government of Spain," said the Spanish politician. In a press conference in Havana, Zapatero said that during his term, the Cuban government was one of those who supported the efforts of Madrid for talks with ETA and achieving disarmament of independence group. "We had, as governments, other discrepancies but in the scope of the objective of my country to see the end of ETA's violence we had the collaboration of the Cuban authorities and I want to emphasize that. It can be an important data for that negotiation process (Cuba-US), "said the former president, adding:" I hope that the US administration, which has taken so positive steps, considers this. " The trip of the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) to Cuba aims to promote the elimination of the death penalty. He...

Las relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos han vivido hitos significativos en los últimos tres años.

Cuba to demand again its removal from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism

The spokesman of the Cuban delegation negotiating with the United States, Gustavo Machin, said the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries would be difficult to achieve while Cuba remains in the US list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Gustavo Machin, Assistant Director for the U.S. at the Cuban Foreign Ministry Havana expects at the meeting on February 27th a response from Washington on this point and on opening the bank account of its future embassy because today no bank accepts it because the controls that exist on the countries of "the list". President Barack Obama has special interest in the opening of embassies to be made before the Summit of the Americas to get there with something in his hands, since he cannot lift the embargo, as all Latin American governments have asked him. At the next meeting, the Cuban delegation, headed by Josefina Vidal, " will insist" that the US diplomatic personnel respects the principles of international law, national laws and not to get involved in internal affairs, said Machin. In short, they will ask to stop supporting and funding dissident groups, which have a close relationship with the US diplomatic delegation, whose...

Photo: Raquel Pérez

The forbidden culture

Some years ago, the International Press Center Director “reprimanded” me because, in a news report, I had revealed that the baseball documentary Fuera de liga (“Out of Our League”) had been censored on orders from the Ideological Department of the Communist Party. The documentary was banned for five years for committing the sin of interviewing a number of “deserters” then playing in the Major Leagues. The director, Ian Padron, announced this week that he is leaving Cuba because he’s “tired” of having to deal with these absurdities. The news saddens me but it doesn’t surprise me. For years, I’ve watched the country lose many young talents because of the intransigence of certain power sectors, where ideological extremism combines with ignorance. Through social networks, I have also just found out that writer Wendy Guerra was excluded from Cuba Book Fair activities, despite the fact her literary works have made her an internationally renowned figure of Cuban culture. “Some Latin American writers are surprised they don’t invite me to take part in literary debate panels in my own country, when I’ve sat next to them in other parts of the world,” Wendy tells us over coffee. Her books enjoy so much success...

Las relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos han vivido hitos significativos en los últimos tres años.

Cuba-USA Try to Skirt Dead Ends

Che Guevara was the first to approach the United States to propose an improvement in bilateral relations, in Uruguay, 1961, according to the latest book by Esteban Morales and Elier Remirez “Cuba – US Relations: From Confrontation to Normalization Attempts”. Washington misinterpreted the proposal, thought that it was seeing differences within the revolutionary government and, instead of replying, wasted its time trying to find the crack in the leadership where it could drive a wedge between the rebels. The affair didn’t end well. The Argentinean Foreign Minister was sacked for aiding in the gathering, while Kennedy advisor Richard Goodwin, who met with Che Guevara, became a suspect and was subjected to a Senate investigation. Today, negotiations between the two countries have been set in motion by the US president himself. Everyone knew the economic blockade had failed, but Obama was the first to publicly acknowledge that the strategy would not succeed in overthrowing the Cuban government. In addition, US negotiator Roberta Jacobson recognized that the embargo “isolated us from our democratic partners in the hemisphere and the world.” Europe votes against it at the UN and Latin America demands that Cuba participates at all regional gatherings. Havana was invited to...

Most of the money spent on a Cuban newborn during their first year of life is used to buy disposable diapers. Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

SOS Diapers

“I submitted an application to go work in Ecuador,” a Cuban university professor tells me, explaining that “I don’t have any other choice. My mother’s health deteriorated and I need money to buy her adult diapers. You can’t imagine how big of a mess she makes.” “I’d never thought about leaving Cuba. I occasionally give lectures at universities in other countries and I managed to make ends meet that way, but I have no other choice now. My mother goes through 3 diapers a day, so I need almost a hundred dollars a month just for that.” I met a 33-year-old Cuban woman who is trying to set up her own business, to be able to afford having a child. “I won’t get pregnant until I have an income that will at least give me enough money to buy disposable diapers,” she tells me. “I am not going to spend months using cloth diapers that you have to boil, wash and sun dry and then iron. For that reason, the most appreciated gift a Cuban who recently gave birth can receive is disposable diapers. I prefer not to have children if I don’t have an income that allows me to...

Cuba demands return of relatives of Cuban doctors in Brazil

The Ministry of Public Health of Cuba would have issued an ultimatum to doctors working in Brazil, so that their accompanying family members return to the island before next Sunday or else the doctors will be expelled from the mission. On December 17th Dr. Marina de la Torre, one of those responsible for the preparation of physicians who travel abroad, assured us that are trying to send to couples together and when one of them does not work in the health system no one opposes their traveling on their own. In a text of Cuban doctors circulating on the Internet, is claimed that is Cuba who puts obstacles while Brazil issued a law that makes easier for "physicians participating in the program to have by their side the family on the time they are working in Brazil”. Doctors describe as absurd to have allowed "having sex with a Brazilian inclusive wedding him or her, (but) living here with my lawful wife of 20 years for over a month is a fault to discipline according to the Minister of Health of Cuba". They explain "Bringing our family is not illegal nor by Cuban law nor by the Brazilian, is only illegal...

The lifting of restrictions on US-Cuba travel will bring the island new challenges. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

From a city under seige to a city to visit

When this post is published, Josefina Vidal and Roberta Jacobson, the two women tasked with re-establishing diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States, will be at a meeting, the starting point of a long road leading to the normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries. Those who sit at the negotiations table this week continue to regard each other as “enemies.” Now, they are simply agreeing to a ceasefire and set out to continue the war through political channels. Neither is hiding their intentions, mutual distrust or long-term objectives. “On December 17, Washington laid its new consensus on Cuba on the table. It’s put on silk gloves, but the death sentence on the island is still effective. This forces David to be more astute than ever when dealing with Goliath.” The remark above was made by my colleague Rosa Miriam Elizalde, editor of Cubadebate, but it could well have been uttered by any Cuban government official. These days, what we hear out in the “hallways” of politics again and again is that the confrontation will now be much more complex than before. Is Cuba as ready for co-existence as it was for confrontation? Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz Obama...

Censorship in Cuba: The Thirst for the Forbidden

Not even comedian Luis Silva has been spared from TV censorship. Some 40 years ago, Spanish and Italian censors prohibited the screening of Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, calling it an obscene film. Thanks to this, French cinemas were flooded by Spaniards and Italians who travelled to the country to satisfy their curiosity. This came to mind when, at the “video rental” near my house, I was offered the “forbidden” episodes of Vivir del cuento, the most popular Cuban television show, starring Panfilo, a pensioner portrayed by comedian Luis Silva. They told me the censors had not allowed those episodes to be aired on television and I immediately asked them to make me a copy. “They sell like hot-cakes, everybody wants them,” the owner of the rental place told me while copying the episodes to my hard drive. I copied a number of interesting things, but the first thing I did when I got home was find out what good old Panfilo had done to incur the wrath of the Gods, to the point that they didn’t allow the shows on the air, not even after the broadcaster spent thousands of pesos to produce them. To my great surprise, the...

Will it be the end of USAID´s spells?

"With mixed emotions I informed President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that I will resign in the middle of February 2015," said Rajiv Shah, director of USAID, realizing that the policy of his country is on very different paths than of his agency. It's the least Mr. Shah could do, after President Obama announced a diametrically opposite policy to the one the agency he headed for years has followed. Few will miss him; he defrauded some for his lack of ethics and others for his clumsiness. USAID operations in Cuba were bad apples that contaminated everything. They turned opposition into "mercenaries" paid by the empire, critics in "naive" falling into enemy networks and strengthened those who believe that opening weakens the nation. The issue is so obvious that two US Senators, Patrick Leahy and Jeff Flake, described as "irresponsible and stupid" tactics used by the US Agency for International Development to destabilize the Cuban government. For some time full Internet access has been a topic of debate within Cuba. While many consider it to be a right of all citizens, a few warning about the use "the enemy" can give it to disarm consciences. The clumsy maneuvers USAID deliver...

Photo: Raquel Pérez

My Havana

Some of my friends make fun of the fact Havana was named one of the seven wonder cities of the world. They write about the large heaps of garbage on the streets, the miraculous endurance of ruined buildings, the geysers of sewage and how the pot-holes on the roads resemble war trenches. What they write is accurate, it is nothing but the truth, but, despite all that, I continue to feel that Havana is a magical city. It has the charms of a beautiful, mature woman, whose wrinkles and extra weight does not manage to reduce its sensuality and attractiveness one bit. Its crazy architecture has stood the test of time, hurricanes and illegal constructions. Half a century of no maintenance or new construction work caused hundreds of buildings to collapse, but it also preserved what managed to remain standing. In Havana, no one tears down any buildings – they either collapse on their own or they’re restored to what they were originally. Many a time, the styles of different periods co-exist in a single block without anyone finding such a mosaic surprising. This landscape is peppered with automobiles that tell the history of Cuba in the 20th century. Thousands...

Photo: Raquel Pérez

Congratulations Paquito

During my childhood in the Uruguay neighborhood where I grew up, we called "maricón" (fagot) anyone who did not show the courage to climb a tree, put the foot as it should be in the football game or exchange a few blows with the then-challenger. With time and world through I learned that courage has little to do with sexual preferences. Europe taught me to respect them and Cuba showed me members of the LGBTI community who were more courageous than many heterosexual. In a transvestite festival I discovered the "Mejunje" in Santa Clara, a cultural center that was born in times of widespread homophobia and survived thanks to the courage of its members, who resisted all pressures while the rest of society scorned them. Nearby, Adela, a transsexual who became a delegate of the People´s Power for the vote of her neighbors, is an example of what can be done from public office. Since being elected, she has won every battle against bureaucracy and for the people. I got into these speculations because the paquitoeldecuba.com blog, by colleague Francisco Rodríguez, meets this week its five years of existence. I still remember my surprise when I read that he introduced...

José Fraga: "We want to replace the majority of chemical fertilizers and insecticides within three years and also export" / Photo: Raquel Pérez.

Labiofam, a company that looks to the future

It is one of the most successful companies in Cuba despite being 100 percent state-run. Its structure and working mechanisms are perfectly inserted in the economic changes taking place in the island. Labiofam is not only self-financing and reinvests its profits but contributes 40 percent of them to the state. In addition, it joined the South-South exchange politics that Havana encourages in its trade relations. OnCuba spoke with José Fraga, its president for 17 years, who assures us that "the most damaging thing to the state company is bureaucracy" and asks on the government one thing, "let us continue working as we have done so far.” What products does Labiofam have? We have 380 technologies, over 30 viral and bacterial vaccines for animal health, 21 diagnostics equipment, dietary supplements for human consumption, algae (spirulina), homeopathic medicine, disinfectants, toiletries and cleaning, starches for children with gluten intolerance , biofertilizers and biopesticides, probiotics, food (rice, beans, pork, eggs, lamb, rabbits), essential oils, fragrances for the French market. Is Labiofam an efficient company? For 18 years we haven’t received state funding, in any currency. We finance productions that we sell in local currency, as pharmaceutical drugs even though we buy many inputs in...

José Manuel García-Margallo in Cuba / Photo: Raquel Pérez

Just leave us alone

With the visit to Cuba of Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the Popular Party (PP) finishes a 180 degrees turn in its policy of isolating Havana, driven by former president José María Aznar, who promoted the European Common Position in 2003. At that time, the Cuban government responded to the pressure with a hard-line stance, something that the European strategists should have foreseen. It would have been enough for them to study the history of conflict between Washington and Cuba for over half a century. Later and step by step Brussels began to move back; first it stopped inviting dissidents to diplomatic receptions, ending the "war of canapés" in which European embassies, overnight, were isolated from government and Cuban civil society. Then they lifted the blocking on development cooperation with Cuba, a measure that had little practical effect. Most Cubans had not even realized that this blockade existed when European tourists and businessmen filled the landscape of the island. Now Europe has to hurry because from the last two years ago Washington and Havana negotiate various aspects of bilateral relations, from air safety and disaster response to the coordination of actions for the confrontation of Ebola in Africa. The...

Never public transportation has worked well in Cuba, not even when they had Soviet aid / Photo: Raquel Perez.

The sad story of Cuban transportation

There are few sectors in Cuba that have accumulated so much inefficiency for many years as the public transportation. Things didn’t work well even in the time of plenty, when Soviet aid was counted by billions and oil was paid with sugar. Even the humor reflects this. Before Cuba entered the crisis of the 90s already a banner showed the painting of a Cuban bus packed with scenes of Guernica, Pablo Picasso´s painting representing chaos in a Basque village after the bombing of Nazi aviation. Today, few believe that service will improve; recently a Cuban told me that he would invest everything he had into a "almendrón", an American car of the 50s. Taxi "is business for sure, risk-free, because State transportation will never improve in Cuba, "he said. In 2009 they spent $ 180 million on buses and director of provincial development, Carlos Gonzalez, said that "is a medium term plan for, in 2012, meet 85 percent of demand, that means carry more 3.5 million passengers a day.”It was one of many broken promises. Based on the history of the last half century we have to accept that the Ministry can hardly organize transport well now if it was...

The almendrones have become essential for transport in the capital of Cuba / Photo: Raquel Perez.

Private transportation, expensive and dangerous

In Cuba the private sector carries most of the passengers inside the republic with horse-drawn carriages and in Havana with old American cars of the 40s and 50s, popularly known as "almendrones". They are a mixture of taxi and bus, they are utility vehicles but have a fixed and invariable route and collect people along the road. Normally each customer pays about $ 0.80, a high amount in a country where state wages are around the $ 20 a month. Many of these cars will have adapted modern engines and gears from Toyota, Mercedes Benz or Hunday, all diesel. This is very important because due to the price of gasoline it would be impossible for them to be profitable using gas. Almost all "boteros" (taxi drivers in these almendrones) fill the tanks of their vehicles with diesel in the black market that costs a quarter of the official value. This comes from the very same gas stations where state drivers of trucks and buses sell their surplus to employees thereof. At present there are Cubans who own multiple vehicles and lease them to drivers for work. Typically, the employee must deliver each day $ 35 almendrón to the owner and...

Anthony Blinken

US-Cuba: neither yes nor no, but the opposite

Anthony Blinken, a leading foreign policy adviser to Obama, said in Congress that "unless Cuba is able to demonstrate that it is taking significant steps, I do not know how we could move forward," adding that he refers to steps "not only economic but democratic ones.” The question was posed by the Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, who asked his opinion on the rumors that Obama may ease the embargo with executive measures. The exchange came during the hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate for Blinken´s confirmation as No. 2 at the State Department. However, the deputy national security adviser to Obama also said that President Barack Obama "has ideas on how to help boost Cuba" on a democratic path and that "if he has a chance to advance, it is possible that he takes it ", leaving open the door to policy change. The hearing was marked largely by pressure from the Cuban-Americans; the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat of Cuban origin Bob Menendez, demanded that the United States does not accept that Cuba attend the Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama in April 2015. The Menendez proposal is purely rhetorical...

Photo: Raquel Perez.

Professor Esteban Morales and the Cuba-US relations

Professor Esteban Morales is one of the most respected researchers in the field of US-Cuba relations. He has just published the book ¨From confrontation to attempts at normalization´, a must-read material to understand the bilateral conflict. He agreed to devote some of his time to discuss with us the past, present and future of these relations. Are changes coming in US policy towards Cuba? It would require a deep analysis on past the elections and the composition of Congress. Obama cannot lift the embargo because it is the prerogative of Congress, but there are many things he can do. He can expand academic exchanges, opening the possibility for Americans to visit Cuba, remove our nation from the terrorist list, talk about Guantanamo Bay, increase collaboration in the fight against Ebola. Obama can also negotiate the swap of Alan Gross for our 3 fellow prisoners in the US Some compare the Ebola coordination with the ping-pong diplomacy with China. Well, yes it looks like that because it is an approach that can open other doors. They can do many things that would alleviate the pressure on Cuba and also the pressures the US is receiving, such as Latin America inviting Cuba...

During the terms of Obama, rhetoric became less aggressive on both sides and there were no stress situations / Photo: Raquel Perez.

Is Cuba ready for a dialogue with the US?

For a couple of years, the governments of Cuba and the US have held a series of negotiations in different areas of common interest. It is a dialogue that both sides describe as technical but could well be the prelude for a deeper and political negotiation. Topics discussed so far are related to ecological disasters, migration, search and rescue, aviation security, mail services, seismology and military relations in the Guantanamo base. Interestingly, the US did not want to include in the agenda the fight against drug trafficking. In some of these points they have reached agreements with good results. The dialogue on aviation safety, for example, allowed a satisfactory bilateral coordination during the US plane that in September crossed Cuban airspace and crashed in Jamaica. However, they still haven’t addressed the core issues of the conflict, embargo, nationalized American properties, the financing of the Cuban opposition, human rights, the inclusion of Cuba on a list of terrorist countries, prisoners of both countries and Guantanamo Bay. Cuban top authorities have repeatedly offered sit down and negotiate on any issue that Washington brings to the table but based on 3 principles: the talks should be among equals, recognizing the sovereignty of states...

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