Fidel Castro’s eldest son kills himself: Body found in Havana

Fidel Castro Diaz Balart, known as “Fidelito,” son of the former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, was found dead on Thursday. He was known to be suffering from depression in the recent past. He had been seeing a group of doctors for several months before he took his life, reportedly.
He had been hospitalized to recover from a delicate state of mental health. He resumed with his treatment even after being discharged from the hospital.
Owing to the beard, Balart resembled his revolutionary father tremendously. Aged 68, he was a nuclear physicist trained by the former Soviet Union and was a scientific adviser to the Cuban Council of State. He was also Vice President to the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
Balart is the only child that Castro had with his first wife, Mirta-Diaz Balart. Mirta had sent her son to visit Castro when he came to power. But Castro never let the young boy go back to Miami. In fact, Balart’s cousin is a Republican congressman from Florida, and is strictly against the Cuban administration.
The Cuban masses were always affectionate towards Fidelito because of the images of when Castro had marched with the young boy after the success of the revolution. Eventually, their relationship was on the rocks after which he was removed from leading the nuclear program of Cuba.
Source: CNN,Guardian

Cuba in an internet deal with Google

In a deal with Google, Cuban government gave people the chance to use quicker internet and expanded access to its branded content.

The deal was signed on Monday between Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., and Mayra Averich Marin, the president of state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA.

The agreement will allow Cubans to access Google Global Cache network, where content like YouTube and Gmail is stored on servers closer to the users. As a country which has little public internet access and slow and expensive Wi-Fi hotspots, it is difficult to predict the impact this service would create in the short term.

Alana Tummino, senior director at the America’s Society/ Council of the Americas told NBC, “Telecoms and greater internet connectivity have been key pillars of the new U.S policy toward Cuba, and Cuba has developed its own national development strategy to bring greater internet access to its people.”

Both Google and ETECSA did not immediately make a comment.

Tummino points out that though Google and other companies must build that trust with Cuban officials, the scope for more telecom deals still remains.

Source: NBC News, Reuters

Image source: Reuters


Cuba wishes to sign accords with US before Trump’s tenure

The Caribbean Island Nation of Cuba, on December 7, expressed its desire to sign a number of accords with the United States prior to President Obama’s departure. Cuba hopes to sign atleast a dozen accords before businessman turned President elect Donald Trump takes over in January as the latter has threatened to put an end to the détente between the two ex-cold-war nations.

“At the moment we are negotiating 12 more (accords) with the aim to be able to conclude and sign a majority of them”, Josefina Vidal, director US affairs of Cuban foreign ministry, said. The officials of the two nations convened a meeting in Havana to improve the fragile relations before January 20. The two nations have opened embassies to ease tensions, restore commercial flights and opened travel related options.

Although the two nations have signed a number of accords previously, they are yet to cover areas like seismology and meteorology that will improve the relations. Trump has threatened to spoil relations if Cuba fails to provide US with a ‘better deal’.

Several attempts of pacifying Trump were made to modify the travel and business policies. Keeping their optimism high, Cuban authorities believe that small industries in Cuba have the potential to take their economy to new levels and be the business partners of the US-based conglomerates.

SOURCES : Reuters, International Business Times

Image sourced from Reuters.

USA resumes passenger flights to Cuba after almost 50 years

The first commercial flight from U.S.A to Cuba is set to depart on Wednesday after five long decades.This represents the effort taken by Obama administration to open up trade and travel with the former cold war adversary.

Jet Blue Airway Corps Airbus A-320 becomes the first aircraft to attain this feat. It took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara in Cuba. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes, other officials and journalists were the few important persons in this historical flight to Cuba. However, in the beginning, the commercial flights might face some economic challenges as the route is new. Cuba and U.S.A began normalizing relations in 2014 after 18 months of secret talks. Regional carriers such as Silver Airways and American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area that is also an abode to a large section of the Cuban-American population, to Cuba’s outlying provinces will be the next to start, in September.

The countries had been hostile with each other earlier because Fidel Castro overthrew U.S.A backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in a revolution that made Cuba ally to the erstwhile Soviet Union. The U.S government have recently overcome various bans on cultural,regional,educational travel to normalize relations between the two nations.

Read more at:Fortune , Reuters 


Pope starts-off Mexico visit after historic meeting with Russian Orthodox Church head

Greeted by Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto and large Catholic gatherings, Pope Francis kick-started, on Friday, his five-day visit to the country that will take him across its various regions, including the disturbed Ecatepec suburb of Mexico city, Ciudad Juarez city, and southern state Chiapas.

However, prior to that, a historic moment was witnessed in the form of the first meeting between the leaders of the Eastern and Western churches in 962 years, as the Pope stopped over at the Cuban capital Havana to hold the all-important meeting with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Significantly, Pope Francis referred to the meeting between “brothers” as “God’s will”, with both expressing hope for a long-lasting unity in the future.

Having maintained the distance since the Great Schism of 1054 owing to many factors, most significantly the Orthodox church’s rejection of the primacy of the pope, the two categories under Christianity met in an atmosphere of concern and urgent need for unity in the face of the burgeoning Middle East crisis.

Regarding the issue, Natasha Ghoneim, a reporter for Al-Jazeera, covering the happenings, remarked, “The common goal here for both churches is to take a look at what’s happening in the Middle East, as well as Africa. They believe that in those two spots, Christians are really at risk of being persecuted, and that’s why the two sides came together in the spirit of collaboration, in the hope to work towards a solution to help Christians in those areas.”

The meeting was held in Cuba which was described as a neutral ground, and notably hosted by its President Raul Castro.

Sources: The Times of India, Al-Jazeera