HAVANA, Dec. 1th General Electric Co. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit are among firms U.S. officials believe will secure agreements to operate in Cuba as the Obama administration presses Havana to complete pending deals Continue reading
HAVANA,Nov. 30th Fidel Castro’s ashes began a four-day journey across Cuba on Wednesday from Havana to their final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago.
A small, Cuban-flag covered cedar coffin containing the remains of Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 30th When President-elect Donald Trump takes office, he can immediately begin to unravel nearly all of the steps the Obama administration has taken to normalize ties with Cuba, just as he threatened to do in a Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 28th Cuban students waving flags broke into a mass chant of “I am Fidel” to salute Fidel Castro as nine days of mourning began for the Cold War icon, who dominated the island’s political life for generations. Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 28th (AP) — The Latest on the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (all times local):
The first regularly scheduled commercial flight in more than 50 years from the United States to Havana has landed. Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 28th Preparations have begun across Cuba for citizens to pay homage to Fidel Castro, the former leader held in high-esteem by much of the island nations Continue reading
HAVANA,Nov. 26th (AP) — Known for chaotic avenues filled with car-dodging pedestrians, balconies that discharge waterfalls onto sidewalks and reggaeton played at deafening volume, Havana wants to clean up its streets.
Havana authorities have passed new city codes meant to make streets around nearly three dozen commercial Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 26th (AP) Fidel Castro Ruz was born on 13 August 1926, in eastern Cuba’s sugar country, where his Spanish immigrant father worked first recruiting labour for American sugar companies and later built up a prosperous plantation of his own.
Mr Castro attended Jesuit schools, then the University of Havana, where he received law and social science degrees. His life as a rebel began in 1953 with a reckless attack on the Moncada military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. Most of his comrades were killed and Fidel and his brother Raul went to prison.
Fidel turned his trial defense into a manifesto that he smuggled out of jail, famously declaring, “History will absolve me.”
Freed under a pardon, Mr Castro fled to Mexico and organized a rebel band that returned in 1956, sailing across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba on a yacht named Granma. After losing most of his group in a bungled landing, he rallied support in Cuba’s eastern Sierra Maestra mountains.
Three years later, tens of thousands spilled into the streets of Havana to celebrate Batista’s downfall and catch a glimpse of Castro as his rebel caravan arrived in the capital on 8 January 1959.
The US was among the first to formally recognise his government, cautiously trusting Mr Castro’s early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy, not install socialism.
Within months, Mr Castro was imposing radical economic reforms. Members of the old government went before summary courts, and at least 582 were shot by firing squads over two years. Independent newspapers were closed and in the early years, homosexuals were herded into camps for “re-education.”
In 1964, Mr Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro’s daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana.
Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied. And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos.
Mr Castro’s speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the UN General Assembly in 1960 set the world body’s record for length that still stood more than five decades later.
As Mr Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting US purchases of sugar, the island’s economic mainstay. Mr Castro, in turn, confiscated $1 billion in US assets.
The American government imposed a trade embargo, banning virtually all American exports to the island except for food and medicine, and it severed diplomatic ties on 3 January 1961.
On 16 April of that year, Castro declared his revolution to be socialist, and the next day, about 1,400 Cuban exiles stormed the beach at the Bay of Pigs on Cuba’s south coast. But the CIA-backed invasion failed.
The debacle forced the US to give up on the idea of invading Cuba, but that didn’t stop Washington and Mr Castro’s exiled enemies from trying to do him in. By Cuban count, he was the target of more than 630 assassination plots by militant Cuban exiles or the US government.
The biggest crisis of the Cold War between Washington and Moscow exploded on 22 October 1962, when President John F Kennedy announced there were Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and imposed a naval blockade of the island. Humankind held its breath, and after a tense week of diplomacy, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev removed them. Never had the world felt so close to nuclear war.
Castro cobbled revolutionary groups together into the new Cuban Communist Party, with him as first secretary. Labour unions lost the right to strike. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions were harassed. Neighborhood “revolutionary defence committees” kept an eye on everyone.
Mr Castro exported revolution to Latin American countries in the 1960s, and dispatched Cuban troops to Africa to fight Western-backed regimes in the 1970s. Over the decades, he sent Cuban doctors abroad to tend to the poor, and gave sanctuary to fugitive Black Panther leaders from the US.
But the collapse of the Soviet bloc ended billions in preferential trade and subsidies for Cuba, sending its economy into a tailspin. Mr Castro briefly experimented with an opening to foreign capitalists and limited private enterprise.
As the end of the Cold War eased global tensions, many Latin American and European countries re-established relations with Cuba. In January 1998, Pope John Paul II visited a nation that had been officially atheist until the early 1990s.
Aided by a tourism boom, the economy slowly recovered and Mr Castro steadily reasserted government control, stifling much of the limited free enterprise tolerated during harder times.
As flamboyant as he was in public, Mr Castro tried to lead a discreet private life. He and his first wife, Mirta Diaz Balart, had one son before divorcing in 1956. Then, for more than four decades, Mr Castro had a relationship with Dalia Soto del Valle. They had five sons together and were said to have married quietly in 1980.
By the time Mr Castro resigned 49 years after his triumphant arrival in Havana, he was the world’s longest ruling head of government, aside from monarchs.
In retirement, Mr Castro voiced unwavering support as Raul slowly but deliberately enacted sweeping changes to the Marxist system he had built.
His longevity allowed the younger brother to consolidate control, perhaps lengthening the revolution well past both men’s lives. In February 2013, Raul announced that he would retire as president in 2018 and named newly minted Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his successor.
“I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Castro said at an April 2016 communist party congress where he made his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof that on this planet, if one works with fervour and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need and that need to be fought for without ever giving up.”
HAVANA,Nov. 25th (AP) Known for chaotic avenues filled with car-dodging pedestrians, balconies that discharge waterfalls onto sidewalks and reggaeton played at deafening volume, Havana wants to clean up its streets. Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 23th ,Wheels Up announced that the private aviation company now offers flights to and from Havana,on its signature fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS aircraft.
In conjunction with this offering, Wheels Up has also launched an on-the-ground booking assistance Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 22 Delta Air Lines, which plans to resume regularly scheduled flights to Cuba on Dec. 1, has opened an office in Havana and is already selling tickets.
HAVANA, Nov 21 (PL) With the participation of specialists from 31 countries from all parts of the planet, the 18th Scientific Convention of Engineering and Architecture was opened at the Havana Convention Center Monday. Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov 21 (PL) On a sunny day, but with a very pleasant temperature for running, the Cuban runners Misleidys Vargas and Henry Jaen won today the title in the 30th edition of the marathon of Havana, Marabana.
Vargas won the race (female category) with a time of three hours Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 19th Turkish Airlines will launch new services to Havana and Caracas next month.
The carrier will offer a non-stop service between Istanbul and Havana, with the flight then continuing onto Caracas.
The route will operate three times-weekly from December 20, with flights on Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 17th A record number of runners have registered for this year’s Havana International Marathon, Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 16th As a visitor to Havana, Cuba, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing something. Since the revolution in 1959, Cubans have found ways to get what they want, even if buying a house once meant getting a sham Continue reading
HAVANA, Nov. 16th For decades, the tightly state-controlled Cuban economy meant that all businesses, from department stores to shoe-shiners, were in the hands of the state.
Today, though, Havana is slowly evolving; new economic rules on private ownership are allowing ordinary Continue reading
HAVANA,Nov. 16th – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Cuba on Tuesday evening, where the country’s president told him the island nation will not progress any faster than it already is.
Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of legendary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, warned that others have gone through reforms too quickly without regard to the needs of the people, leaving their citizens jobless.
“Even though I have said we have to move slowly, you can go too fast. I have said slowly, but steady,” Raul Castro said through an interpreter.
The message to the Canadian prime minister in a grand room in the Revolutionary Palace in Havana came as Trudeau tries to open up trade opportunities for Canadian companies who want to cash in on the Cuban government’s decision to loosen restrictions on foreign investment.
And to the north is the shadow of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and his tough talk about rolling back a thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba that has sent a Cold War chill through the island.
Touting Canada, Trudeau said Canadians can be pleased that they have played a positive role in Cuba through the years.
Trudeau tried to strike a more personal note just before media were ushered out of the room where the meeting took place.
“The friendship between your family and mine is long and deep, but it’s nothing compared to the true friendship between all Canadians and all Cubans and I look forward to continuing to build on that,” Trudeau said.
The official meeting came hours after Trudeau landed in Havana, the first visit by a Canadian prime minister in two decades.
On Wednesday, state diplomacy turns to soft diplomacy when Trudeau meets with students at the University of Havana.
“It’s in the people-to-people world … where Canadian-Cuban relationships are the most significant,” said Karen Dubinsky, who teaches in a joint Queen’s University-University of Havana course that brings Cuban students to Canada and sends Canadian students to Cuba.
“Cuba is good at that, at using soft diplomacy, and I think what I’ve learned from our experiences working with Cuba is they only want to do more of that.”
Cuban graduate student Freddy Monasterio, who studies Canadian-Cuban relations, said the excitement of the December 2014 announcement of renewed ties with the United States has started to fade. The prime minister’s visit could make Canada an alternative for Cubans leery about the style of capitalism the United States wants to export, he says.
“Usually when people talk about different ways for Cuba to get out of a crisis and open up a little bit, people immediately associate the U.S. as the logical, and only alternative,” Monasterio says. “We want to show that there are other alternatives and Canada for me is one of them.”
Statistics Canada says about 1.3 million Canadian tourists visited Cuba in 2015.
Cuba’s national statistics office reported last month that of the 2.1 million tourists during the first half of the year, more than 777,000 – just over a third – were from Canada. That put Canada at the top of the visitors’ list, with the United States sitting in third with 187,073 travellers.
The Terry Fox Run in Cuba is the largest held outside of Canada.
HAVANA, Nov 15 (PL) The Real Madrid Foundation started a training campus in this capital Monday, which will extend up to next Friday, with the visit of former Spanish soccer star Emilio Butragueño.
‘We were just like crazy for being in here. We spent a year and a half organizing the project with Continue reading
HAVANA,Nov. 15th Cubans and foreign tourists were dazzled on Monday night as a glowing supermoon rose high over Havana.
Fernanda Gramato, a tourist from Argentina, marveled at the sight.
“Very romantic and well, I don’t Continue reading
Against the odds, a group of Cuban enthusiasts have joined forces to keep their 1950s two-stroke DKWs and Auto Unions on the road
HAVANA,Nov. 11th (David Lillywhite) We know Continue reading