Cuban lawmakers start studying draft of new constitution

Starting this Wednesday, Cuban Parliamentary Commissions will devote three working days to study the draft of the Constitution of the Republic, prior to its presentation next Saturday during the first ordinary session of the 9th Legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power.

That day the new Council of Ministers will be presented and lawmakers will assess the state budget performance so far.

The official call to the Permanent Working Commissions of the National Assembly of People's Power, was made last June by its president Esteban Lazo.

According to the official note with the announcement published in the newspaper Granma on June 29, the call was issued to the members of the Cuban legislature and also to the agencies of the central government of the State and other concerned bodies and authorities.

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Shanghai Party chief meets Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang met Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Tuesday.

Li sent President Xi Jinping’s regards to Diaz-Canel and congratulated him on the newly-elected leadership of Cuba in April. Li said the same ideology binds China and Cuba closely together.

In the new era of Sino-Cuba relations, China will unfalteringly carry out win-win cooperation with Cuba and advance the Sino-Cuba relations, Li added.

Diaz-Canel said that Sino-Cuba relations have reached its historical best, and Cuba is working hard to further renew the model of its social and economic development. Cuba is willing to carry out overall cooperation with the Communist Party of China and learn the experience in developing socialism from China.

From July 14 to 17, Li headed a delegation to visit Cuba. During his visit, Li met Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, general secretary of Worker’ Central Union of Cuba, and Jose Ramon Balaguer, head of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Li also attended the 24th Sao Paulo Forum and delivered a speech; visited Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; and attended the Picture Exhibition of Shanghai’s 40-year Achievements of Opening-up and Reform with leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba.

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U.S. Tourism to Cuba Revives After Months-Long Trump Slump-Sources

U.S. tourism in Cuba bounced back in June from a months-long slump, bolstered by increased visits from cruise ships that have emerged as the most vibrant part of a sector hurt by deteriorating relations under President Donald Trump.

Three different sources with access to Cuban tourism industry data said 68,000 Americans, not including Americans of Cuban origin on family visits, travelled to the island in June, a 5 percent increase from a year ago.

Even with that revival, the number of U.S. visitors to Cuba for the first half overall - not including Cuban-Americans - slumped 24 percent to 266,000, the sources said.

In the period January through June, some 50 percent of those U.S. visitors arrived on cruise ships, compared with 25 percent a year earlier, as operators such as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd added more stops on the island to their itineraries.

The drop in U.S. travel in the first half in part mirrored a broader decline in the Cuban tourism industry as it struggled to recover from last year’s devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean, the sources said.

Still there was also a notable impact from the hostile Trump administration, which has sought to reverse some of Democratic former President Barack Obama's opening to the island and has cracked down on independent Cuban travel by Americans.

Overall tourist arrivals to Cuba were down over 5 percent in the January-June period to roughly 2.5 million. That figure included the number of visitors arriving on cruise ships during the first six months, which was 379,000, up 45 percent.

In terms of boosting the economy, cruise arrivals tend to spend little, while those vacationing on the island spend much more at hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.

The U.S. trade embargo restricts Americans who visit the island to non-tourist activities such as cultural, religious and educational travel or family visits.

The overall visitor numbers also included Cuban-Americans visiting their homeland. That number increased by 21 percent during the first half of this year, to more than 250,000, compared with the same period in 2017, in part because it has become more difficult for relatives to visit the United States, the sources said.

Unexplained health incidents that sickened 26 U.S. diplomats, which the United States has sometimes referred to as attacks, led Washington to cut its Havana embassy to a skeletal staff last year, forcing Cubans to travel to third countries for U.S. visas.

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Cuban Flag, First to Wave in the Center-Caribbean Village

The Cuban flag became today the first to wave in the Center-Caribbean Village, after the official lifting ceremony in which the national anthem of the Antillean Island was also sung.

Approximately 100 members of the Cuban delegation met under the constant strong sun and heat in this city of northern Colombia, representing the over 700 athletes and coaches that make up the entire representation.

The mayor of the Village, Patricia Puccini, showed her enthusiasm in welcoming the Cubans, whom she identified as one of the great animators of the Central American and Caribbean Games, that will start next Thursday, and expressed her desire to make a big star role, as has been the practice for several decades.

The head of the Cuban Mission, Antonio Becalli, thanked Cuba for being the first country to see its national flag waving.

So far, representatives of 30 countries have arrived at the facility and tomorrow the arrival of the 37 delegations that will attend the multisport event in Central America and the Caribbean will be completed, according to Jose Fernando Espinosa, Protocol Director of the event.

On Wednesday will be the culmination of the arrival of the Central Caribbean flame to the Village, where it will rest until Thursday that it will travel its final route to the Roberto Melendez Stadium, where the opening ceremony will take place.

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CELAC and EU call for end of U.S. blockade of Cuba

The foreign ministers of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) called Tuesday for the end of the blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, since "it has caused undue humanitarian consequences for the Cuban people." 

"We reiterate our rejection of the application of those coercive measures of a unilateral nature with extraterritorial effect," the ministers said in the statement signed after a meeting in Brussels of the EU and CELAC foreign officials. 

The ministers also reaffirmed their rejection of the application of the extraterritorial provisions of the Helms-Burton Act, approved by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, which states that any non-U.S. company operating in Cuba may be subject to legal reprisals. 

In this regard, representatives of the EU and CELAC stressed that the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution condemning this blockade, which was only opposed by the United States and Israel. 

"These measures are damaging the legitimate development of commercial ties between Cuba, the European Union and other countries," concluded the EU and CELAC foreign ministers. 

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
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Cuba's Biopharmaceutical Industry Develops over 400 Projects

Havana, Jul 18 (Prensa Latina) Several research projects are developed by the Cuban biopharmaceutical industry, including those aimed at preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, according to officials from the sector.

Characterized by its closed cycle line, from invention and development to production and marketing, the entity works on 422 projects, 393 of them are product-oriented and 29 technological, all under the aegis of the Group of Biotechnological and Pharmaceutical Industries of Cuba (BioCubafarma).

In a meeting with the press, its director Eduardo Martinez explained that one of the entity´s megaprojects is the program of therapeutic molecules for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ataxia and multiple sclerosis.

NeuroEpo is the name of this product developed by the Molecular Immunology Center, one of the 34 companies affiliated to BioCubafarma.

Another of its leading entities, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, develops a clinical trial with a cardioprotector that reduces the size of the infarcted area by 78.9 percent.

After five years of existence, BioCubafarma has among its missions the production of high technology medicines, equipment and services.

Considered an industry with broad impact for the economy, referring to the export, the official explained that the products reach 34 nations from all latitudes, from the implementation of a business model that includes technology transfer agreements with countries like Brazil, South Africa, Iran China and Viet Nam.

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Maduro Highlights Fidel Castro's Legacy in Sao Paulo Forum

Havana, Jul 17 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro highlighted today the legacy of Fidel Castro's resistance and struggle at the 24th Meeting of Sao Paulo Forum.

In a plenary session devoted to the thought of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, during the last day of the three-day meeting, the President pointed out Fidel's commitment to unity and the defense of social justice and the dignity of the people.

At Havana's Conventions Center, Maduro also mentioned the example of the Cuban leader (1926-2016) as a creator and promoter of projects marked by justice, democracy and dignity, regardless of what those processes are called.

During his speech, the Venezuelan leader addressed the situation in his country, subjected to internal and external aggression, with the United States government as a protagonist, a crusade that includes the danger of a military aggression.

We have resisted the violence and the attacks of the most powerful empire, said Maduro, who recalled the interest of the powers, and in particular of Washington, in seizing the great resources of the South American country, including oil and gold.

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Unity is the Best Tribute to Fidel Castro, Says President Diaz-Canel

Havana, Jul 17 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel affirmed here today that the unity of left parties and political movements in Latin America and the Caribbean is the best tribute to the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.

The left in the region has the challenge of saving what has been achieved and that´s why it is important to return to the integrationist ideal of Fidel Castro (1926-2016), who together with the former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was one of the promoters of the Forum of Sao Paulo, said Diaz-Canel when participating in the 24th edition of the conclave.

In his speech, the President recalled how the Cuban leader thought and organized the Revolution of January 1, 1959, gave dignity to Cuba, brought hope to humanity and confronted U.S. imperialism in an undefeated way.

Fidel Castro reminded us that Revolution is unity, and that this is one of the keys to understand how we have successfully faced external aggressions of all kinds, he added when addressing the audience gathered at the Havana Convention Center.

Diaz-Canel insisted on the importance of unity given the international situation, characterized by growing threats to peace and dangers to the survival of the human species in a world devoured by the desire for profit and the arms race.

In another moment of his speech, Diaz-Canel spoke of unity as an important way to demand the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba and the return of illegally occupied territory against the will of the people by the U.S. naval base in the eastern province of Guantanamo.

In Cuba there are no capitalist gyrations, neither concessions of any kind to those who, in a thousand different ways, seek to distance us from the historical internationalist positions of the Revolution, I stress this and ask that it be understood as a solemn oath before Fidel Castro.

Cuba will not give up its anti-imperialist positions and will maintain its principles of solidarity and internationalism, the President concluded.

Inaugurated last Sunday, the 24th Meeting of the Forum of Sao Paulo gathers more than 600 delegates and guests from 51 countries in Havana.

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