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"New Chapter" in US-Cuba ties

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  • Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
    I should be able to post the 2nd set of pictures today.

    Until then….

    got to find those pictures again
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Florida Republicans aim to jump-start Cuban reunification program from Guantánamo Bay

      South Florida Republicans announced Monday they’re introducing a bill in Congress that would jump-start a federal program that helps reunite Cuban families by resuming consular services on the island from Guantánamo Bay amid a growing backlog of applications.

      U.S. Reps. María Elvira Salazar, Carlos Gimenez, Mario Díaz-Balart and Stephanie Murphy, a Central Florida Democrat, are co-sponsoring the Cuban Family Reunification Modernization Act of 2021, which would restart processing claims under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, known as CFRP. The humanitarian program allows eligible citizens and permanent residents in the U.S. to apply for their relatives on the island to join them in the U.S. while they wait for their immigration visas to be issued.

      It first went into effect in 2007, but has been halted indefinitely since the U.S. government began scaling back personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Havana in 2017, when several diplomats got sick with a mysterious illness that some believe was a targeted attack. Ultimately, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services office in Havana was shuttered in 2018, leaving no U.S. staff in Cuba to process CFRP applications.

      The program is still in effect, however, and over 100,000 applications have piled up and remain in limbo. While the Biden administration has said it is reviewing all policies toward the island, it has also said Cuba policy is not a priority.

      “The Cuban people are suffering under the chokehold of socialism, families remain separated by the brutal Castro regime, and the situation is more dire than it has even been after the sonic attacks in Havana essentially shut down U.S. consular services on the island,” Salazar said in a statement to el Nuevo Herald.

      The announcement comes on the last day of Cuba’s Communist Party Eighth Congress, during which Raúl Castro officially stepped down as the leader of the party and President Miguel Díaz-Canel was named the new chief. The four-day conference, which is happening behind closed doors, is taking place amid one of Cuba’s worst economic crises, rising inequality and broad public discontent.

      If it becomes law, the new bill would allow for pending and new claims to be processed in the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo Bay, where officials would conduct in-person interviews and provide other pre-screening services. It doesn’t allow for Cubans to apply for asylum at the base and it gives the naval station’s commander the power to close down services if “a high number of Cuban nationals” try to show up without an appointment, according to a memo from Díaz-Balart’s office.

      “In contrast to the chaos at the border, codifying this program will ensure an orderly, secure, and safe way for Cubans to have their applications processed on the island,” Díaz-Balart said in a statement, alluding to the increase in the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from their countries of origin.

      Laura Hernandez, a spokeswoman for Diaz-Balart’s office, said the lawmakers plan to file the legislation on Tuesday.

      In a statement, Murphy added that she was proud to help lead the legislation.

      “My parents and I were fortunate to escape a brutal communist regime and we were welcomed by this country together as a family,” said Murphy, adding that if the bill becomes law, it would “swiftly and lawfully” reunite Cuban families.

      Gretel Moreno, a Hialeah resident who has been waiting for years for her brother and other family members to reach the United States, said the proposal was “excellent news.”

      “It was time for them to listen to the suffering of our people,” she said. “We have been suffering separation for years and there are truly dramatic cases, of children separated from their parents and on the verge of being forcibly recruited into the Cuban army.”

      Aniuska Garcia, who also lives in Hialeah, said she hopes this bill will become law, noting that currently, Cubans must travel to Guyana for visa interviews — a long and expensive trip.

      “Many of us do not have enough resources to pay for a trip to Guyana for our relatives to do their interviews. Hopefully all this is not on paper and promises,“ she added.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Castro's heir, President Miguel Díaz-Canel faces pressure to accelerate Cuba reforms

        The new leader of Cuba's ruling Communist Party may be the first born after its 1959 revolution but he is also a loyalist who is not expected to make significant changes to its one-party system and has moved only tentatively on market-style economic reforms.


        Still, he has often appeared more modern than his khaki-clad elderly predecessors. As a young party chief in two provinces, Diaz-Canel bucked party orthodoxy by backing an LGBT-friendly cultural center, listening to rock music and sporting long hair.

        At a national level, as education secretary and then vice president, Diaz-Canel advocated for broader internet access and carried a tablet device to meetings. He now tweets regularly.

        And as president, the silver-haired, burly leader often appeared at events holding hands with his wife, who has forged a position of first lady that did not exist before in Cuba and quietly championed the fledgling private sector.

        In crisis, continuity

        Despite such nods to a more open, connected Cuba, Diaz-Canel has made "We are Continuity" the mantra of his government, which kicked off its mandate with a tightening of state control over the creative and economic sectors.

        Also he has reiterated the Communist party's dismissal of dissidents as a tiny U.S.-funded minority, calling them "lumpen mercenaries" on Monday and warning that people's "patience has limits."

        His presidency coincided with former U.S. President Donald Trump's move to tighten the decades-old trade embargo on the island.

        It was not until this year that his government forcefully resumed market-style reforms to the centrally planned economy launched by Castro a decade ago, pressured by a liquidity crisis that has spawned widespread shortages.

        Those reforms have included tentative measures to expand the private sector and a painful monetary overhaul reducing imports, increasing exports and reducing subsidies to state enterprises.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks

          Senate Intelligence Committee leaders on Friday pledged to “get to the bottom” of the mysterious “Havana syndrome” attacks following reports of a recent episode near the White House.

          According to a report from CNN, officials are investigating two suspected attacks on U.S. soil, one of which took place near the Ellipse, the grassy oval lawn just south of the White House, harming a National Security Council official.

          The suspected attacks, which first occurred in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, have since surfaced in a number of countries, leaving a number of U.S. diplomats and analysts with neurological symptoms ranging from vertigo to insomnia.

          “For nearly five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on United States Government personnel in Havana, Cuba and around the world. This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this. We have already held fact finding hearings on these debilitating attacks, many of which result in medically confirmed cases of Traumatic Brain Injury, and will do more,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a joint statement.

          Some 40 government officials have been hit by the attacks, which a government-funded report by the National Academy of Sciences determined were most likely caused by microwave radiation. The bulk of known cases have been State Department or CIA employees.

          The lawmakers said they would seek “to better understand the technology behind the weapon responsible for these attacks.”

          “We will focus on ensuring we protect our personnel and provide the medical and financial support the victims deserve. Ultimately we will identify those responsible for these attacks on American personnel and will hold them accountable,” they said.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Cuba punches above its weight to develop its own Covid vaccines

            Suffering from the double pain of US sanctions and a pandemic, Cuba It has experienced the most serious economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pharmacy shelves are barren. People queue for hours to buy chicken. Bread is hard to find.

            Nevertheless, the besieged island could become the world’s smallest country to develop its own coronavirus vaccine. Of the 27 coronavirus vaccines that are undergoing final-stage testing worldwide Two are cuba..

            “To gain our sovereignty, we need our own vaccine,” said Dr. Vicente Velez, director of the Finlay Institute, which developed the most advanced sovereign 2 of the country’s five vaccine candidates. I did. “In nine months, we moved from ideas to vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials.”

            Currently, approximately 44,000 volunteers from Havana are participating in the Phase 3 trial of Sovereign 2. A similar number volunteers in Phase 3 of Abdullah, a vaccine named after the poem of José Martí, the official “national hero” of the island, in the eastern city of Santiago.

            In parallel with the clinical study is an “intervention study” in which 150,000 healthcare workers in Havana are currently vaccinated.

            Cuba’s “Biological Front” was founded in 1981. This was only five years after Genentech, the world’s first biotechnology company, was founded. At the heart of today’s vaccine efforts are the island’s top scientists, many of whom are trained in the former Soviet Union. These internationally mobile polyglots have every opportunity to migrate (and many do). Those who choose to work on the island are almost always followers of old schools.

            At a recent press conference, Dr. Beres explained why he was moving him, citing Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “A true revolutionary,” he said. “I am guided by wonderful love.”

            Dr. Gerald Gillen, who heads the development of two vaccines at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, loves chocolate, which he had to do without his favorite modifications for over a year (there’s nothing in the store). His monthly salary of £ 200 is one-hundredth of what he can earn abroad.

            “We have an offer,” said Dr. Mitchell Valdes Sosa, a Chicago-born neurologist and a member of the country’s Coronavirus Task Force. “But we feel a commitment to the development of the country, so we prefer to stay. We are not working to make some CEOs obscenely rich. I Are working to make people healthier. “

            Such idealism is not protection from the bitter geopolitical reality.

            The US embargo on Cuba limits the medical devices that the island can import. Various Cuban research teams working on vaccines share one spectrometer, an essential machine for quality control, that is powerful enough to analyze the chemical structure of vaccines. However, the British manufacturer of spectrometers, Micromass, has not been able to buy spare parts directly since it was acquired by the American company Waters.

            United Nations human rights reporter in the United States Lift island sanctions during a pandemic, For the past 12 months, the embargo Ramp up..

            And since the Trump administration put Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in the United States in January, it’s just a matter of finding a bank that is willing to process payments. Big problem..

            “The United States is trying to starve and submit Cuba,” said Valdes Sosa. “Not only is it difficult to buy things directly from the United States, but all these sanctions implemented by the Trump administration have also depleted many sources of income.”

            Cuba reported 12,225 confirmed cases and 146 deaths last year. This is one of the lowest cases and mortality rates in the hemisphere. However, a blunder occurred in November. When commercial flights were finally resumed after a long seven months, the government did not require visitors to undergo a PCR test for several weeks before boarding the plane. The effect was fatal. Thousands of Cuban Americans came from Covid’s hotspots like Florida to hug, kiss, and dance with their families during Christmas, and the incident surged.

            More cases were reported in January alone than in 2020 as a whole, and the island currently reports an average of 1,000 confirmed cases per day.

            To date, about 100,000 Cubans have received jabs, and the island lags behind the average Latin American vaccine deployment of 12% of those who receive at least one vaccination. And because there are no vaccines that have not yet been fully approved for use by the island’s regulators, critics say they will not participate in Covax, a UN-backed mechanism that distributes Covid-19 doses fairly around the world. Says that his decision was arrogant and left unnecessarily exposed.

            Cuba aims to produce 100 million doses of sovereign 2 this year. This is enough for people with surplus to export.

            If production hurdles are cleared, distribution logistics should be a strength. The island has a well-developed infrastructure for local community clinics World’s highest doctor-patient ratio..

            Cuban scientists are confident that widespread vaccination will be achieved this year, saying that Cuba will be one of the first countries in the hemisphere to achieve this.

            “Once everything is in place, you don’t have to think too much,” said Dr. Gillen, “but when you’re in trouble, you have to think of new ways to innovate.”:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Biden renews Trump determination Cuba 'not cooperating' on antiterrorism efforts

              The Biden administration on Tuesday renewed the Trump administration's determination that Cuba is “not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” reaffirming a controversial decision made in the last 10 days of the Trump administration.

              The notice, dated May 14 and released publicly on Tuesday, maintains the list drafted under the Trump administration, which included Cuba alongside Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

              Cuba’s foreign minister on Tuesday expressed frustration with the Communist country’s continued presence on the list under the Biden administration, calling it “surprising and irritating.”

              Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, in a Tuesday tweet condemned the continued designation of Cuba on “the list of non-cooperative countries in the fight against terrorism.”

              “This slanderous action as well as continued enforcement of Trump's policy and his 243 blockade measures are both surprising and irritating,” he added.

              In a later tweet, Rodriguez wrote, “President Biden's administration, turning its back on the overwhelming majority of US and Cuban people, enforces Trump's measures,” arguing there was a “growing gap between words and reality.”

              The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

              The determination was made under the Arms Export Control Act, one of the laws the U.S. weighs when adding countries to the state sponsors of terrorism list.

              The decision comes after the White House previously said it would review the Trump administration decision.

              “A Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities,’’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing in March.

              “But we are committed to making human rights a core pillar of our U.S. policy, and we’re committed to carefully reviewing policy decisions made in the prior administration, including the decision to designate Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”

              Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list, arguing it would help with “denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home, and countering its malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

              But critics widely panned the move as a trumped-up claim designed to complicate Biden’s path forward with Cuba.

              Biden while on the campaign trail vowed to reverse some of Trump’s hard-line policies toward Cuba, which he argued had “inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”

              But the administration has thus far done little to spell out its policy toward Cuba or signaled a desire to return to the Obama approach, when relations between the two nations began to thaw.

              The designation includes “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports ... and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,” according to the State Department.

              Trump’s addition of Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list followed his 2020 victory in Florida, fueled in part by high levels of support from Cuban Americans in the state.

              According to a March study by management and consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi International, 66 percent of Cuban American voters in the Sunshine State indicated they were opposed to reengagement with Cuba under the Biden administration.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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