February 25th, 2010
After 85 days on hunger strike, Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on Tuesday in a Havana prison where he had been held since 2003.
Tamayo was in the midst of a 36-year sentence for crimes including “disrespect, public disorder, and resistance,” according to the independent Cuban Human Rights Commission, and launched the hunger strike in protest to poor prison conditions. Read the rest of this entry »
January 18th, 2010
Cooperation between the United States and Cuba in distributing food, supplies, and medical personal may lead to future cooperation between the two countries in the wake of a 7.0 earthquake which has destroyed Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince and claimed over 100,000 lives.
International relief efforts in Haiti have already led to the two countries coming to a quick diplomatic agreement allowing U.S. planes to fly over Cuban airspace to supply aide and evacuate the injured.
“We have coordinated with the Cuban government for authorization to fly medical evacuation flights from the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to Miami, through Cuban airspace, cutting 90 minutes off one-way flight time,” the White House announced on Friday.
Cuba currently has 220 doctors in Haiti working in the disaster relief effort in addition to their medical personnel who have been there since 1998. They have also flown over ten tons of medical supplies to their neighboring island nation as well as food, plasma, and other support.
Likewise, the U.S. has been pouring in medical and evacuation personnel since the first reports came out of Haiti, and the Obama administration expects relief aid to far exceed the USD 100 million promised last week.
December 11th, 2009
The Cuban Government awarded China’s Ambassador to Cuba Zhao Rongxian with the Friendship Medal on Thursday for his contributions to strengthening friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
China is Cuba’s second largest commercial partner, one of its chief importers, and a longstanding source of credit to the island nation, according to information provided by the Cuban Government.
July 14th, 2009
Ambassadors of the world, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra is considering a tour of Cuba. Orchestra president Zarin Mehta met with Cuban officials and toured facilities in Havana last week as the group looks to tour the communist nation later this year.
The orchestra toured North Korea in 2008 to both praise and criticism domestically and any tour of Cuba is likely to draw fire from opponents of Castro and the Cuban government.
“It has to be done soon. We have to go and work very hard with our board (of directors). We have to raise money, we have to arrange transportation,” Mehta told Reuters.
June 25th, 2009
A possible end to the American trade embargo on Cuba has intensified a legal battle between cigar maker Swedish Match of Stockholm and Imperial Tobacco Group of Bristol, England. Both companies want exclusive rights to sell Cuban-made cigars in the United States, the world’s largest market for premium cigars.
According to Bloomberg News, Swedish Match sells cigars in the United States made in Honduras and the Dominican Republic under Cuban brand names which it bought from families that fled Cuba after Fidel Castro seized their cigar companies in the 1960s. Read the rest of this entry »
June 19th, 2009
U.S. port cities are making preparations for increased travel and trade with Cuba, in anticipation of improving relations with the island nation.
There is speculation that a Democratically led US congress and the election of Barack Obama may ease restrictions on the 47-year-old trade embargo on Cuba.
“We have the right geography, given where we’re located, as well as historic ties,” Councilman Arnie Fielkow told USAToday. “We need to start developing the relationships and getting ready for the time when the U.S. brings down the embargo.”
Read the rest of this entry »
June 2nd, 2009
Last Friday, a Miami-Dade Circuit judge awarded more than US$1 billion in damages against the Cuban government for the lawsuit filed by a Cuban-American man blaming them for the suicide of his father.
Gustavo Villoldo, 76, claimed that Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro and others were guilty for his father’s 1959 suicide in Cuba. Villoldo would later join the U.S. military and be involved with the CIA-led capture of revolutionary Che Guevara. Even though the damage award would be almost impossible to collect, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Peter Adrien said he wanted to send a signal to Cuba’s government.
Judge Adrien awarded almost US$1.2 billion; US$393 million for economic damages suffered by the family; US$393 million for pain and suffering; and US$393 million in punitive damages.
Villoldo’s attorney said the law firm search for global Cuban assets to fulfill the judgment. The Cuban government has not offered a defense to the lawsuit. In February 1959, Villoldo’s killed himself by overdosing on sleeping pills after being held by the government and tortured for days and threatened to be executed on supposed grounds that he was a U.S. agent.
April 22nd, 2009
Cuba’s central bank will put restrictions on the banking transactions of foreign companies operating inside the communist country starting on May 7th, according to Reuters.
The Nuevo Tribune newspaper has speculated that this surprise move has come as an attempt to cut down on illegal financial activities, such as money laundering, which have become a problem in the country.
Other sources believe that the move is in response to liquidity problems in the economy following a disappointing 2008.
The news regarding the changing banking policy was sent out via mail by state-owned Banco Metropolitano to foreign establishments and associations.
In the future, withdrawals will be restricted to those required to pay salaries to Cuban employees and special authorization from bank officials will be required for other bank transactions.
April 3rd, 2009
A congressional delegation led by U.S. Senator Barbara Lee (D-CA) will head to Cuba today to discuss the possibility of opening up the island nation to American tourism in the near future.
Over the last few months, America’s new administration under Barack Obama has been working to try and improve relations with Cuba that were worsened by the policies of the Bush Administration.
“America’s harsh approach toward our nearest Caribbean neighbor divides families, closes an important market to struggling U.S. farmers, harasses our allies, and is based on antiquated Cold War-era thinking,” said Lee.
The U.S. economic, financial, commercial, and tourism ban on Cuba was implemented in 1959 after Fidel Castro successfully led a revolution that ousted the Batista-run government and communized U.S. assets in the country.
March 25th, 2009
In the first exhibit of American art since the 1986, Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes will feature artwork of more than 30 artists from New York City’s Chelsea District.
The display, named “Chelsea Visits Havana,” will be shown from March 28th to May 17th and is another hopeful sign of warming relations between the two countries since the inauguration of U.S. President Barrack Obama.
“Art has always been a bridge to culture, and if this is any sign of things to come, it’s a great first step,” said Alberto Magnan, a U.S. curator of Cuban-American descent.