Cuban president to receive King of Spain today

Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, President of the Republic of Cuba, will receive today and hold official talks with the King of Spain, Felipe VI, at the Palace of the Revolution.

Before that, His Majesty will pay tribute to the most universal of Cubans, Jose Marti, in the monument bearing the hero's name in the Revolution Square by laying a wreath.

Felipe VI and his wife Letizia will also be present at the opening of the photo exhibition "Spain - Cuba, with you in the distance", which honors the historical relations between the two nations.

According to the official program of the visit, scheduled until November 14, the King and Queen will tour the oldest part of Havana, which in a few days will celebrate the 500th anniversary of its founding.

They will also visit Santiago de Cuba city, where they will tour the Castle of San Pedro de la Roca and pay tribute to the Spanish soldiers fallen in the Hispanic-Cuban-American war.

Historic relations between Cuba and Spain are developing favorably, in a context of mutual respect, political dialogue and cooperation to foster key issues on the bilateral agenda.

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Spanish king and queen arrive in Cuba for first royal visit

The couple disembarked in Havana at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba’s capital and the eastern city of Santiago.

The king and queen will tour historic sites during the week as Havana celebrates the 500th anniversary of its founding, but they will leave before the actual anniversary on Saturday.

The trip has sparked criticism from right-wing politicians in Spain and inspired critical opinion pieces in conservative-leaning newspapers over a trip seen as a step forward for normal relations between Spain and its former colony.

The royal couple plan to meet with cultural figures and entrepreneurs.

Spanish hotel chains and other tourism-related businesses serve hundreds of thousands of travellers to Cuba each year.

Juan Carlos did travel to Havana in 1999 for the Ibero-American Summit. He also returned to the island after he had abdicated in 2014 to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro.

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Tribute in Spain to Cuban culture and foundation of Havana

Cuba's embassy in Spain was the scene Thursday of an emotional gala in honor of Culture Day on the island and 500 years of the foundation of Havana.

The Cuban National Culture Day evokes every October 20 the composition of the national anthem, the work of the patriot Pedro Figueredo, just 10 days after the beginning of the independence struggle of 1868.

'Our anthem is a direct expression of our Cubanness, and in its letter it contains many of our essences,' said Cuban ambassador in Spain, Gustavo Machín, before a large audience gathered in the legation of the largest of the Antilles in Madrid.

'Not only the verses, which urge to combat, to fight for independence, and express the defining metaphor: To die for the country is to live, which is essentially in line with what is considered Cubanness today', Machín said of the fervent notes of that song.

The diplomat said that culture in his country grows fresh in these times, fertilized by these roots, against wind and tide.

'One can understand, then, that without freedom and independence there would be no Cuban culture, and without Cuban culture, we would lose independence or have no reason to fight for it,' he emphasized.

Regarding the capital of the Caribbean nation, that next November 16 will be half a millennium old, he recalled that it was one of the first seven villages founded by the Spanish Crown on the island.

The ambassador took advantage of the evening to share with those present the victory achieved the eve at the United Nations, where for the twenty-eighth time the international community overwhelmingly condemned the US blockade imposed on his country.

The gala was enlivened by Cuban troubadour Ismael de la Torre and his compatriots Andres Puig, a well-known painter and sculptor who donated several works to the Caribbean nation, and singer Arahi Martinez, former member of the Anacaona female orchestra.

The celebration was attended by several ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in this country, members of Cuban resident associations and the solidarity movement with the island.

On behalf of the Spanish Government, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Latin America and the Caribbean participated.

  • Published in Culture

Spain will maintain leadership in International Fair in Cuba

Havana, Oct 30 (Prensa Latina) Spain will maintain the leadership of exhibitors at the Havana International Fair, FIHAV 2019, to begin next week, highlights the official site of the event.

This was stated by the Economic and Commercial Councilor of the Spanish embassy in Cuba, Federico Ferrer, who also said that the exporting companies of his country are committed to their exchange with the Antillean nation despite the economic situation that is going through due to the aggressiveness of the United States blockade.

Ferrer also highlighted the historical social, economic and cultural ties with the Caribbean nation, where a Spaniard is not a foreigner.

The event will be attended by more than 110 companies in this European country, and according to the diplomat, the presence of that nation in FIHAV will be a success.

In statements previously made, Ferrer declared that the presence of the Iberian suppliers occupies several lines, which reflects the importance that the products of that country have for the Cuban economy.

At the end of 2017, the exchange of Spanish exports to the Island registered 899 million euros.

During FIHAV 2019, which will be held until November 8 at the Expocuba fairgrounds, the new edition of the Business Opportunities Portfolio for Foreign Investment will be presented and a Business Forum will be held.

The organizers of the event, which corresponds to its 37th edition, stated that on this occasion some 50 countries will be represented.

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Catalonia crisis: Separatist protest draws 350,000 in Barcelona

Some 350,000 people, police say, have turned out in Barcelona for a protest at the jailing of separatist leaders in Spain's Catalonia region this month.

Previous protests in the regional capital also drew big numbers but were marred by rioting which saw at least 600 people injured and 200 arrests.

Organisers had called for a peaceful march which was also meant to underline support for self-determination.

Nine separatist leaders were jailed on 14 October by Spain's Supreme Court for between nine and 13 years after being convicted of sedition.

The days that followed saw some of the worst violence in the history of the modern independence movement, which prides itself on its peaceful tactics.
What happened on Saturday?

Grassroots independence groups had urged independence supporters to fill the streets but said they are committed to peaceful protests, Reuters news agency reports.

A sea of protesters stretched from the city's waterfront to the landmark Sagrada Familia church.

"It is time to sit down and talk," one protester told Reuters. "I think it is time for the state to find a solution because it seems that this has no end and we are always at the same point. We have come here because we are fed up with so much repression that we have suffered from the state."

"We have always defended non-violence," said another. "What is happening in Barcelona is not a reflection of us, we separatists are not violent, we want our country, we want to be free."

The day had begun with a gathering of mayors from across Catalonia to endorse the campaign for self-determination.

Mayors of 814 out of the region's 947 local authorities gathered at the regional government's headquarters to meet Catalan President Quim Torra.

As the mayors chanted "independence", Mr Torra said Catalans must unite to oppose "repression" and "force the Spanish state to talk".

On Sunday, politicians from Spain's two main centre-right parties, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos, are expected to attend the unionist rally, which comes two weeks before the Spanish general election.

Meanwhile, supporters of the far-right Vox party rallied in the Spanish capital Madrid on Saturday to hear calls for a harder line on the separatists.

Party leader Santiago Abascal attacked Spain's mainstream parties, including the ruling Socialists, telling the crowd: "Faced with criminal separatism, there is only Vox!"

  • Published in World

Hassan targeting half marathon world record in Valencia

Dutch star Sifan Hassan leads an impressive women’s field at the Media Maratón de Valencia Trinidad Alfonso, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (27).

Hassan, who managed an unprecedented 1500 and 10,000m double at the recent World Championships, is mounting an assault on the world record of 1:04:51 set by Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia two years ago. Hassan broke the world record in the mile in Monaco on 12 July clocking 4:12:33 as well as the road 5km record in February, illustrating her incredible versatility. She broke the European record in the half marathon in Copenhagen last year clocking 1:05:15.

Hassan will be paced by Morocco’s Yakoub Labquira and Dutchman Roy Hoornweg who have been tasked with a 3:04-kilometre tempo, on schedule for a 30:40 opening 10km. That would put her well inside world record pace.

The 26-year-old, now training under the guidance of Britain’s Charles Van Comenee, faces a field that includes ten runners who have dipped under the 1:08 barrier.

Those include the Ethiopian tandem of Gudeta Kebede and Senberi Teferi. The former is the reigning world champion for the distance, an accolade she managed in Valencia last year in 1:06:11 to set a women-only world record performance. The 28-year-old Teferi holds a lifetime best of 1:05:45 set in Ras Al Khaimah earlier this year. Her last appearance was in Doha where she failed to finish the 10,000m.

Teferi meanwhile produced the fastest half marathon debut in history in Ras Al Khaimah when she led the Ethiopian 1-2 finish just ahead of Kebede where both clocked 1:05:45. The 24-year-old finished sixth in the Doha 10,000m on her last competition.

Yet the two fastest women in the field are Kenyan duo Fancy Chemutai and Joan Chelimo. The 24-year-old Chemutai came just one second shy of the world record in February 2018 when she won in Ras Al Khaimah in a stunning 1:04:52. She also finished runner-up in Valencia two years ago behind Jepkorir’s world record run.

Meanwhile, Chelimo boasts a 1:05:04 clocking set in Prague last year but hasn’t shown similar form this year, with a season’s best of 1:08:01 and a 2:26:24 performnce in her marathon debut in Tokyo last March. The third Kenyan in contention will be Dorcas Tutoek, author of a couple of solid performances earlier this year in Istanbul (1:06:33) and Copenhagen (1:06:36).

Further notable entrants include United Arab Emirates’ Alia Mohamed Saeed, runner-up last year in a lifetime best of 1:06:13, Ethiopians Genet Ayalew (1:06:26) and Meseret Belete, who holds the world U20 best courtesy of her 1:07:51 set last year in Copenhagen.

Kejelcha leads solid men’s field

Ethiopia’s newly-minted world 10,000 silver medallist Yomif Kejelcha should be regarded as one of the men to beat. The 22-year-old, who broke the world indoor mile record with 3:47.01 in March, also boasts an impressive range which includes a 59:17 half marathon best from his debut last year. Sunday marks just his second half marathon outing.

Kejelcha will be joined by compatriot Jemal Yimer who finished runner-up here last year with a 58:33 national record.

Relatively unheralded Kenyan Geoffrey Koech could also be a factor. The 26-year-old won the Prague 10km last month in a career best of 27:02, fastest in the world this year. He set his 59:50 lifetime best in Copenhagen two years ago.

Other Kenyans on show include Benard Ngeno, who clocked a 59:16 career best in Copenhagen last month, Albert Kangogo (SB of 1:01:08), Leonard Barsoton (PB of 59:28) and Isaac Kipsang who lowered his best to 59:44 in Lisbon last March.

The Eritrean challenge will be led by Nguse Amsolom, a 59:39 runner who will be making his marathon debut in Valencia on 1 December. He’ll be joined by world half marathon bronze medallist Aron Kifle, who is still on the mend from a stomach infection that forced him to settle for a 15th place finish in the 10,000m. Others to watch include 2015 world marathon champion Ghirmay Gebrselassie who will be competing the first time this year and Norway’s Sondre Moen (59:48).

Organisers are offering a €70,000 (US$ 77,700) world record bonus on top of an additional €30,000 (US$ 33,300) bonus for landmark performances, sub 58:00 for men and sub-1:04:30 for women.

  • Published in Sports

Franco's remains greeted with fascist salutes at new resting place

Chants of “Viva Franco!” and the fascist salute escorted the coffin of former Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco as his remains were exhumed from his grandiose resting place outside of Madrid and taken to a small family crypt.

The late strongman’s descendants, who bitterly opposed the exhumation, gathered at the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen in San Lorenzo del Escorial on Thursday for the government-ordered operation.

SPANISH DICTATOR FRANCISCO FRANCO TO BE EXHUMED THURSDAY

In a bid to guarantee privacy and avoid the actual exhumation operation being recorded and posted on social media, the government banned cameras and cellphones among the 22 family members, government authorities and workers allowed into the mausoleum.

About 500 Franco supporters – some in military regalia – gathered in Mingorrubio, throwing one-armed salutes and chanting “Viva Franco” while waving the Francoist national flag.

They also shouted insults against interim Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who made relocating the remains a priority when he took office earlier this year.

BARCELONA MAYOR PLEADS FOR VIOLENCE IN CATALONIA TO STOP AMID PRO-INDEPENDENCE PROTESTS

Sanchez said the exhumation “puts an end to a moral affront that is the exaltation of [a] dictator in a public place,” and that it was necessary now to begin the process of identifying the thousands of Franco victims who were also buried in the vainglorious mausoleum.

“Modern Spain is the product of forgiveness, but it can’t be the product of forgetfulness,” he said in a televised address. “A public tribute to a dictator was more than an anachronism. It was an affront to our democracy.”

Meanwhile, Franco's 64-year-old grandson said before the exhumation that it was all a "profanation" and said Sanchez wants to turn it into a rally before a Nov. 10 general election.

"It's an all-out desecration," said Francisco Franco Martínez-Bordiú, accusing Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of the government – the Catholic Church and center-right Spanish parties who didn't impede the reburial – of being accomplices of Sanchez's Socialists' plan.

The government, he said, "had to hop over several obstacles with the complicity of those people to arrive on time and be able to use the exhumation as part of the electoral campaign."

Spain, he said, "is under the dictatorship of political correctness."

UN APOLOGIZES TO SPAIN FOR MISCHARACTERIZING BOMBING THAT INSPIRED FAMOUS PICASSO PAINTING

Pablo Simon, a political scientist, told Reuters that the exhumation is “intensely symbolic for Spain because the [Franco] monument has always been connected to those who miss the old regime.”

Franco ruled Spain between 1939 and 1975, after he and other officers led a military insurrection against the Spanish democratic government in 1936, a move that started a three-year civil war.

A staunch Catholic, he viewed the war and ensuing dictatorship as something of a religious crusade against anarchist, leftist and secular tendencies in Spain. His authoritarian rule, along with a profoundly conservative Catholic Church, ensured that Spain remained virtually isolated from political, industrial and cultural developments in Europe for nearly four decades.

The country returned to democracy three years after his death but his legacy and his place in Spanish political history still sparks rancor and passion.

  • Published in World

Spain's Foreign Minister acknowledges restoration work in Old Havana

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain, Josep Borrell, thanked the historian of the city of Havana, Eusebio Leal, for the titanic work of recovery of the heritage of the old section of the Cuban capital.

During the tour that both personalities made through emblematic sites of the Historical Center, the visitor said he was glad to meet again with Leal, whom he described as the indisputable author of the important restoration and conservation work.

During the tour, Borrell sent a message to King Philip VI and Queen Letizia, informing them that they are expected in Havana, a city that is being groomed for its 500th anniversary, to be celebfated next November 16.

The Spanish diplomat told the press that he was grateful for the hospitality received from Cuban authorities, and said that the necessary high-level political consultations had taken place before the monarchs' visit, scheduled for next month.

On Thursday, the visitor, guided by Leal, toured the facilities of the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, a center that has benefited from the collaboration of Europe and that after its reconstruction, it is contributing  to spreading cultural relations between Cuba and the so-called Old Continent.

Together, they walked through the Plaza de Armas and reached the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, where they appreciated an exclusive presentation by the Camerata Romeu string ensemble.

  • Published in Cuba
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