Our Weekend in Havana tour is far more than a mere brush with exotic culture – it’s a full-on immersive discovery allowing you to not only pay witness to Cuba’s dynamic rhythm and color, but to dive right in and become part of the canvas.
Like the fiery salsa rhythms that can be heard rippling through its city streets, Havana springs to life with warmth and vivaciousness that never stops taking you by surprise. Removed from the quiet fields of sugar cane and mango trees that thrive further afield, Cuba’s largest city is an urban metropolis – a place of rambling Colonial architecture, endless adventure and unfettered discovery.
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Two legal norms, published this Wednesday in the Official Gazette Extraordinary No. 77, establish significant amendments to the new rules of self-employment that will come into effect on next December 7.
Over the last eight years, self-employment in Cuba has continued to expand, from approximately 157,000 workers in 2010 to 589,000 in 2018, currently representing 13% of the country’s workforce.
Minister of Labor and Social Security Margarita González Fernández, in a statement to Granma, commented that, as projected, this modality of employment has generated jobs, expanded options for the population, and freed the state from the responsibility of managing small scale activities that do not play an essential role in the national economy.
Nonetheless, she said, violations of the law have emerged, including, for example, tax evasion and purchases of supplies of illicit origin.
Thus, with the purpose of supporting the continued development of the sector in an orderly, legal manner, a policy including 20 regulations was approved and published in the Official Gazette last July 10, stipulating December 7 as the date they would enter into effect, and mandating a broad training program for workers and authorities to ensure understanding of the changes.
During this period, based on an analysis conducted – and the opinions of self-employed workers and the population, gathered in a broad process of discussion – the Council of Ministers decided to make some modifications, including elimination of the limit to a single self-employment license per person.
Likewise, beginning tomorrow, licenses will again be authorized for 26 of the 27 activities which had been suspended. Licenses for self-employed computer programmers will remain suspended until specific norms for this area are developed.
Additionally, the maximum capacity of 50 for food service establishments was eliminated, with capacity to be determined by the size of the site to be utilized.
The Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus, was granted the Quality Leader Award, in its sixth edition, by the National Trade Union of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Tourism, said officials from that entity.
The only five-star hotel located in a city in central Cuba, won the prize because of its contributions to the economy as well as the high levels of efficiency in customer service.
It was known that in order to receive this distinction a full evaluation was carried out as well as surveys of foreign and national guests, which are included in specialized websites such as Tripadvisor.
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What are the main changes proposed in the draft Constitution, which is currently being debated in neighborhoods, workplaces and schools, regarding the structure of the Cuban state and government? What motivates this decision?
In a panel held at the headquarters of the Union of Cuban Journalists, Dr. Martha Prieto, vice president of the Cuban Society of Constitutional Law and tenured professor at the University of Havana, acknowledged that the proposed changes in the leadership structure of the island are among the most novel of the draft Constitution.
The new proposal separates the functions of the President of the Republic and those of the Prime Minister, which were previously merged into one, based on collegial decision making.
“Now, although he (the President) is the head of the Executive, he must also be a deputy, approved by the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP). This is a necessary measure, because it prevents Assembly-state leadership separation,” the jurist explained.
The main obstacle to the development of the Cuban economy’s potential is not related to nature but to an immoral way of doing politics: the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.
When a hurricane is identified as a threat to the island, all Cubans begin to worry. Despite measures adopted by our Civil Defense system to protect human life and material resources, it is well known that the powerful winds and rain show no mercy.
Every natural phenomenon that strikes leaves damage that must be repaired as soon as possible. Thus, some plans are put on hold to free resources for the recovery, and the state cannot move forward as fast as it would like.
Damages caused by Hurricane Irma, for example, were estimated at more than 13 billion pesos, mostly to housing, healthcare facilities, schools, agriculture, hotel infrastructure, as well as roads.
People shop at an outdoor food market in Havana in July 2018. (AP Photo / Desmond Boylan)
“Our business is down 70 percent,” Havana restaurateur Niuris Higueras told a group of Nationmagazine travelers who were spending their final evening of a weeklong spring tour in Cuba at her renowned eatery, El Atelier. “We may have to reduce staff,” she sadly noted, after a major boom in US-generated business following Barack Obama’s history-making rapprochement with Raúl Castro.
Culinary entrepreneurs such as Higueras, along with other Cuban businesses catering to US tourists, have been hit hard by the sharp shift in relations under the Trump administration. In the first quarter of 2018.
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Since the beginning of the constitutional reform process, much has been written about the reasons change is needed, and foremost among these is the need to adjust the country’s fundamental law to our current reality, especially the transformations underway as the Policy Guidelines from the Seventh Party Congress are implemented, in accordance with strategic projections outlined in the Conceptualization of our economic model.
Thus it is no surprise that, as the popular consultation began on Monday – to continue through November 15 – many have noted that this reform is consistent with the economic updating underway, and that there are many connections to documents approved during the Seventh Party Congress which point toward a more just, sovereign, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable society.
According to the Cuban Tourism Minister , Cuba just arrived at three million international visitors, an amount that is achieved in the midst of the campaigns organized from US to discourage the flow of American visitors to the island.