Addressing the UN as part of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in New York this Monday, September 24, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez began by noting Cuba’s pride on having supported the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and recalled the iconic embrace between the Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and the anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, who visited Cuba in 1991, shortly after his release from prison.
Let us remember the political prisoner, the defender of human rights and the rights of his people, and the politician who changed history, Díaz-Canel stated in reference to Mandela. On remembering Mandela, we recognize the struggle of the South African people, led by the African National Congress, against the contemptible apartheid regime, he added.
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Cuba’s government on August 24 released a 59-page report on adverse effects of the U.S. economic blockade. Its authors maintain, “The blockade … against Cuba constitutes the principal obstacle to the development of all potentials of the Cuban economy.” Taking inflation into account, they say the blockade has drained $933.68 billion from Cuba’s economy since it took effect. Losses during the most recent year amounted to $4.3 billion.
Once again the report appears ahead of a vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a Cuban resolution titled, “Necessity for putting an end to the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.” The vote this year takes place on October 31. Cuba’s first purpose in issuing the report is to inform national delegations at the Assembly about the blockade. In effect, the Cuban government is also sending a message to world opinion.
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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.
The structure of the State in Cuba could change considerably during 2019.
Related: Constitutional Reform in Cuba
The Draft Constitution, which is being submitted to popular consultation since August 13, proposes novelties in the higher management bodies, without doubts, the most transcendental in the last 42 years.
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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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