Cuban Foreign Minister received his counterpart from Ghana

The Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez received Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, who visits the Caribbean island with the purpose of promoting ties between both nations.

At the Foreign Ministry headquarters, Rodríguez stressed the links between the two countries, and recalled that Ghana was the first African nation to establish diplomatic relations with the Antilles’ largest one, which will meet six decades in 2019.

In addition, she reiterated the gratitude from the island of Ghana and the African Union for their claims for lifting the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States.

On the other hand, Botchwey highlighted Cuban hospitality and sent greetings from her country’s governments to the Cuban people and authorities.

According to the program of the visit, Foreign Ministers will participate today in the signing of an agreement for regular diplomatic consultations.

Tomorrow, Botchwey will pay tribute to the leading Ghanaian independence Kwame Nkrumah, in the Park of the African Heroes of this capital.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Receives Colombian Peer

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez received his Colombian counterpart, Maria Angela Holguin, in this capital, the Foreign Ministry said today.

At a cordial meeting, the two officials discussed issues related to the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) that are taking place in Havana.

The Colombian minister was accompanied by her country's high commissioner for Peace, Rodrigo Rivera, and other figures involved in the dialogue.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos noted that he would work until the last day of his administration, which will end on August 7, to hand over the next government a peace process with the ELN that is 'under way and on very solid bases'.

The ELN said that it is trying to advance the talks in a way that will allow the next occupant of the Nariño House (Ivan Duque) to appoint a new delegation and continue the peace agenda without great trauma.

Pablo Beltran, the commander of the insurgent force who is heading the negotiating delegation, told Prensa Latina that they have been instructed not to leave the table and to insist on the continuity of the peace talks.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Chairs Delegation to Nicaraguan National Event

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez heads the delegation of Cuba that will attend the central event in Nicaragua for the 39th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, diplomatic sources said today.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the delegation is also made up of Juan Hernandez, Cuba's ambassador to Nicaragua and other officials.

On July 19, 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) defeated Anastasio Somoza´s dictatorship and started a process of socio-economic transformation for the benefit of the Nicaraguan people.

Currently, that Central American country faces a sociopolitical crisis fueled by the international right with the intention of overthrowing President Daniel Ortega´s government, elected by popular will expressed at the polls.

The day before, Latin American leaders ratified in the Forum of Sao Paulo, which took place in Cuba, their solidarity with Nicaragua, its people and the Executive led by Ortega.

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Miguel Díaz-Canel Arrives to Montego Bay, Jamaica

The President of Councils of the State and of Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez arrived in Jamaica as special guest of the First Secretary of this Caribbean nation, Andrew Holness.

Early this morning the plane that fled the Cuban President landed in the international airport of Montego Bay.

The senate president Thomas Tavares Finson welcomed Miguel Díaz-Canel at the air terminal.

The Cuban retinue is also integrated by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, the Deputy Minister Rogelio Sierra Díaz and Inés Fors Fernández ambassador for Cuba in Jamaica.

Díaz-Canel’s visit takes place amid the 39th Conference of Heads of States of CARICOM where leaders from 15 nations that make up the regional block of political agreement and economic integration attend.

This is Miguel Díaz-Canel’s first visit to Jamaica in his condition as President of the Councils of State and of Ministers.

The invitation to the Cuban President ratifies the ties of friendship, solidarity and cooperation that characterized the bonds between Cuba and its sisters Caribbean nations.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

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Cuba and Iran want to expand their economic, commercial and cooperation ties

The Iranian president, Hasan Rohani, moved a message to the Cuban leader, Miguel Díaz-Canel, through his first deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Morteza Sarmadi, who makes a working visit to the Island. 

Sarmadi delivered the message -of whose content details have not been given- to the Vice President and Minister of Economy and Planning, Ricardo Cabrisas, who received it on Wednesday in Havana.

During the meeting, the Cuban vice president and the Iranian deputy minister discussed the potential to expand the economic, commercial and cooperation ties that exist between both countries, said the Cuban News Agency (ACN).

Cabrisas and Sarmadi also They congratulated the "good march" of the bilateral relations between Cuba and Iran, according to the report.

Cabrisas and Sarmadi also congratulated themselves for the "good a march "of bilateral relations between Cuba and Iran

In the meeting participated by the Iranian side, the director of the regional office of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Chancery of the Persian nation, Ahmad Pabarja, and the ambassador in Cuba, Kambiz Sheikh Hassani

In addition, the general director of bilateral affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Island, Emilio Lozada, was present. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, also greeted Sarmadi.

Cuba and Iran maintain a close bilateral relationship, which led in February 2017 to the signing of twelve agreements for the exemption of diplomatic and service visas, and other areas.

In September 2016, the island received the visit of Iranian President Hasan Rohaní, who met with the then-president of the country, Raúl Castro, with whom he signed a cooperation agreement in the health, education, research, medicine and medical technology.

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Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Begins Official Visit to Germany

On Monday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez began an official visit to Germany, during which he will hold talks with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Minister Rodríguez is scheduled to also hold meetings with other authorities in the European country.

Cuba and Germany enjoy positive relations and the two sides have pointed to existing broad potential to further expand ties in sectors of mutual interest.

Germany is the top market of European tourists to Cuba and the second globally, surpassed only by Canada in 2015.                                            

In 2014, trade exchange amounted to 224 million euros.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Begins Official Visit to Canada

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has began an official visit to Canada in response to an invitation from his counterpart, Stéphane Dion.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry reports that during his stay in Canada, the island's top diplomat will develop a comprehensive work program that includes official talks with his Canadian host and a visit to the province of Quebec, invited by the Minister of International Relations and Francophone, Christine St-Pierre.

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Cuba Studies True Reach of New Measures announced by the U.S.

Cuba analyzes the true reach of the measures announced last March 15 by the U.S. to modify some aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, asserted today Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez.

At a press conference, he pointed out that although what was announced by the North American departments of Treasure and Commerce is positive and it’s heading on the right path, it will be necessary to study its depth.

He highlighted the authorization given to Cuba to use North American dollars in its international transactions which soon Cuba will carry out transfers in that currency with third country banks as well as banks within the U.S.

These first movements will verify if these bank transactions are doable and whether foreign banks and North Americans have indications that they can do such operations without fear to unjust but intimidating penalizations, he explained.

He said he was hopeful that the recent fines against the German bank Commerzbank and the French Crédit Agricole after the advanced process of reestablishment of relationships between both countries do not repeat again.

He also commented that for this measure to be viable it will surely required political statements from a very high-level within the U.S. government, documents with juridical reach will be needed, legal clarifications, several explanations on behalf of the Department of Treasure that give security to both foreign and domestic banks.

Bruno Rodriguez said that it will be necessary to revert intimidating effects accumulated for decades especially in the last period when sanctions were applied to third country banks for amounts close to 14 thousand million dollars for establishing a legal contract with Cuba.

Rodríguez highlighted that some recent measures enlarge the reach of previous ones like that of trips with educational purposes, despite that it maintains the legal banning of traveling, which is considered insane and unjustified.

“Cuba is the only forbidden destination for North American citizens”, said the minister.

Here below the entire press conference:

On March 15, the Departments of the Treasury and of Commerce issued new regulations that modify the implementation of some aspects of the US blockade against Cuba.

This is the fourth announcement of this sort made by the Government of the United States since December 17, 2014, when the presidents of both countries made public their decision to re-establish diplomatic relations.

We are currently analyzing their scope and practical effects in order to confirm their feasibility.

After a preliminary consideration of these measures, it can be affirmed that they are positive.

Some of them expand the scope of those which had been adopted before; so is the case for the one authorizing now individual “people-to-people” educational travels. However, it should be recalled that the legal prohibition that prevents US citizens from freely traveling to Cuba is still in force. This prohibition should be lifted by the US Congress.

Cuba’s authorization to use US dollars in its international transactions, a measure which has been included in this new package, concerns an important aspect of the blockade. For this measure to be viable, the US Government is required to issue a political statement as well as clear and precise instructions that would provide legal and political guarantees to banks, in order to halt financial persecution and reverse the intimidating effects generated by the sanctions imposed for years on US and third-countries financial institutions for conducting legitimate transactions with Cuba.

In the coming days we will attempt to make some transfers in US dollars to confirm that these can be done and that the banks have received instructions indicating that they are allowed to engage in financial operations with Cuba without fear of sanctions. Besides, we hope that, from now on, such fines as those given to important banks, namely Commerzbank and Credit Agricole, just to mention the most recent examples, will not be applied again; and that foreign financial institutions would not refuse to make transactions with our country.

Authorizing Cuba to use US dollars does not mean that banking relations between Cuba and the United States have normalized. Cuban banks are still not allowed to open correspondent accounts in US banks, and therefore our operations will necessarily continue to be done through third parties, which increases operational costs as well as the amount of related procedures.

None of the other measures entered into force modify the implementation of fundamental aspects of the blockade. For example:

•   Investments other than those approved in our country’s telecom sector are not allowed.

•   The US ban on Cuban imports is still in force, and these include pharmaceuticals and biotech products. Thus, the limited authorized bilateral trade continues to be essentially a one-way trade. Only the absurd prohibition preventing US citizens from consuming and receiving Cuban products and services in third countries was modified.

•   Current restrictions on US exports to Cuba, which are limited and exclude key sectors of the Cuban economy, have not been modified.

•   Ships carrying goods to Cuba are still not allowed to touch US ports for a period of 180 days, thus increasing freight charges. The only measure adopted in this area was not meant to benefit Cuba, but rather to make US shipping companies operations   profitable.

•   Cuban as well as other countries’ individuals and companies are still arbitrarily listed as “specially designated nationals”, and for that reason they are prevented from doing transactions with US entities or their subsidiaries.

All of these restrictions could be eliminated by means of executive decisions.

The truth is that the blockade is still in force. Jack Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury, has himself recognized, two days ago, that the blockade still restricts, in a very, very significant way, the volume of transactions between Cuba and the United States.

The blockade also has dissuasive as well as punitive components. Here there are some examples:

•   US and foreign companies have been fined recently for providing services and equipment of US origin to Cuba.

•   Foreign companies trading with Cuban nickel and rum have seen their lines of credit cancelled and their bank transfers rejected, even if they were denominated in currencies other than the US dollar.

•   Foreign banks have closed down the bank accounts in currencies other than the US dollar maintained by the Cuban medical staff offering their cooperation in African countries.

•   US subsidiaries based in third countries have refused to provide their services to Cuban diplomatic missions and entities abroad.

The blockade is the most important obstacle to Cuba’s economic development and causes hardships to the Cuban people.

Therefore, lifting the blockade will be essential for normalizing relations between our two countries.

Senior officials of the US have stated that the purpose of the approved measures is “to empower” the Cuban people. If the US Government is really interested in helping the Cuban people, then the blockade should be lifted.

We recognize the position adopted by President Obama against the blockade and his repeated appeals to Congress urging it to lift it.

We expect the US Congress to act accordingly in the face of an almost unanimous claim of the international community and ever broader sectors of the US society and public opinion.

Cuba has engaged in the construction of a new relation with the United States, in the full exercise of its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity.

No one should expect that, in order to achieve that, Cuba will renounce anyone of its principles or its foreign policy, which is committed to the just causes all over the world and the defense of peoples’ self-determination.

Within a few days we will be welcoming the US President with our distinctive hospitality as well as with the respect and consideration he deserves in his condition as Head of State.

It will be an opportunity for him to know about our reality and meet a noble, proud and patriotic people struggling for a better future against all odds.

The US President will be able to see a nation that is involved in its economic and social development and the improvement of the wellbeing of its citizens, who enjoy rights and are able to show some achievements that are still a chimera for many countries of the world, despite our condition as a blockaded and underdeveloped country.

It will also be an important occasion to identify what new steps could be taken in the next few months to contribute to the process of improvement of relations, on the basis of respect and equality, for the benefit of both countries and peoples.

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