Democracy and rights
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Gloomy economic report
President Castro states that the country’s GDP shrank in 2016. This is the first time that Cuba has experienced negative growth since the severe economic crisis in the early 1990s. In 2015, growth was over 4 percent. The problems in 2016, according to Castro, are partly due to stripped oil supplies from Venezuela.
- Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Cuba, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Agreements with Google should provide better internet
Abbreviated as CUBA by Abbreviationfinder, Cuba signs an agreement with Google to give Cuban Internet users better connection to the Internet. Cubans in general do not have access to the Internet from home but are referred to Internet cafes. The exception is certain professional groups such as doctors and journalists. The current Internet connections are slow and expensive to surf. Connecting one hour costs around 5 percent of an average monthly salary.
Threats from Trump
The incoming US President Donald Trump said in a statement that he will end the ongoing US-Cuba thawing weather if Cuba’s government is unable to achieve “an agreement that better benefits the Cubans, the United States and inter-country relations”. According to Trump’s team, Obama has been too lenient toward Havana by easing the sanctions without Cuba making adequate improvements in democracy, human rights and market economy reforms. On the same day, US airlines start flying directly from the US to Havana (previous flights from the US have not gone to the capital, compare August 2016).
Fidel Castro dies at the age of 90 and nine days of country care are announced.
The United States is changing at the UN
For the first time in 25 years, the United States is casting its vote when the UN General Assembly votes on a resolution calling for the lifting of the US trade embargo on Cuba. Such a resolution is adopted by the General Assembly each year and the United States has so far voted against it. Now it is approved with 191 out of 193 possible votes. The United States and Israel abstain.
US loosens up trade rules
The US Department of Commerce announces more relief in the rules restricting US-Cuba trade. The new rules facilitate joint medical research and the importation and export of goods by ship and aircraft.
Visit from Beijing
The same day that the Japanese head of government goes home, his Chinese colleague, Li Keqiang, lands. He issues promises of deeper cooperation in a number of areas, including biotechnology and renewable energy, as well as in culture, education and tourism.
Visit from Tokyo
Japan’s Head of Government Shinzo Abe visits Cuba on his way home from New York. It is the first time ever that a Japanese Prime Minister visits the country. Abe says it’s time to open a new chapter in relationships and start a dialogue to stimulate trade, investment and collaboration. He also asks the Cuba government for help in halting North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, which is a major security policy issue for Japan. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world to have friendly relations with North Korea.
First regular flight from the USA
For the first time in 55 years, a regular American commercial airplane lands in Cuba. JetBlue operates a flight from Fort Lauderdale in Florida to Santa Clara in central Cuba with 150 passengers. Still, the United States does not allow US citizens to visit Cuba as “tourists,” for example for study purposes or through cultural exchange programs.
Fidel turns 90
Former President Fidel Castro is turning 90 and celebrating it with one of his now rare public appearances. He visits a children’s theater company in Havana with his brother President Raúl Castro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Turnstile for financial problems
President Castro and Minister of Economy Marino Murillo announce a tightening package that includes energy rationing, budget savings, reduced imports and freezing planned investments. The background is falling prices for important export products such as nickel and sugar as well as sharply reduced oil imports from Venezuela.
The opposition is investing in the 2017 election
Spokesmen for formally banned opposition organizations say they intend to try to run for a number of candidates in the 2017 parliamentary and local elections.
Price restrictions on basic food
The government is introducing price controls for some twenty basic staple foods. The prices of agricultural products have risen sharply three years in a row, partly due to increased demand from tourists.
Cruise ships are allowed
The government decides that cruise ships should re-enter Cuban ports. The decision means that foreign nationals of Cuban origin may travel to the island by ship, which has been banned since the days of the Cold War. The trips were then banned by the fear of attempting a new invasion by sea after the unsuccessful invasion of Piglet in 1961.
Raúl Castro plans his departure
The Communist Party launches a four-day party congress. It is the first party congress in five years. During the congress, President Castro announces that he will resign in 2018. Most of the party leadership, where most are over 70 years old, may retain their posts, but Congress will decide from 2021 to impose a 70-year age limit for persons in the party leadership. The party’s highest body, the Politburo, is expanded from 14 members to 17. In the new Politburo, four members are women, against previously only one.
Just days after Barack Obama’s visit, the British rock band Rolling Stones is holding a concert in Havana. Once upon a time, the group’s music was banned in Cuba. Now the Rolling Stones a free show for tens of thousands of spectators outdoors at a sports facility.
President Obama lands in Havana, thus becoming the first US president on Cuban soil since 1928. A few hours before Obama arrives, a number of women are demonstrating that their relatives are imprisoned. The police seize a dozen of them. At a joint press conference after a couple of hours of talks, Raúl Castro states that there are disagreements between the parties on the US trade embargo and human rights – Castro denies at the press conference that there are some political prisoners in Cuba – but both leaders speak of a new era, “a new day “, in the reciprocal relations. Obama promises that the trade embargo will one day be lifted. In his speech to the Cuban people, Obama says, among other things, that he thinks citizens should have the right to say what they want and criticize their government without being afraid. After the speech, Obama meets domestic dissidents before the visit ends with a baseball game between Cuba’s national team and a Florida team. A few days after the visit, ex-President Fidel Castro writes a critical article in the Granma government. Castro believes, among other things, that Obama should not comment on Cuban politics. He also claims that Cuba does not need “any gifts from the Empire”.
The United States is loosening sanctions
Prior to President Obama’s visit to Cuba, the United States is further easing the restrictions that restricted Americans’ contact with the country. Regular tourism remains prohibited, but it is now possible for Americans to travel to Cuba individually for “educational purposes”. In the past, Americans who wanted to visit Cuba have had to go on organized group trips. It is also easier for US companies to operate in Cuba and direct mailing between the countries is established. Previously, all mail was sent via third countries.
Agreement with the EU
the 12th of March
Cuba and the EU conclude an agreement to normalize their mutual relations, which was broken in 2003 when the EU imposed sanctions on Cuba following mass arrests of oppositionists. Since then, relations have gradually improved and sanctions have been lifted (see also Foreign Policy).
US President Barack Obama announces via Twitter that he plans to visit Cuba in March. In that case, it will be the first time since 1928 that a sitting US president will visit the country.
Regular air traffic
The US and Cuba decide to resume regular air services between the countries. Probably the first flights will take off this fall.