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Cuba

Cubans cheer as internet goes free nationwide for a day

HAVANA: Cuba’s government said it provided free internet to the Communist-run island’s more than 5 million cellphone users on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before it launches sales of the service. Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. State-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA announced the trial, with Tuesday marking the first time internet services were available nationwide. There are hundreds of WiFi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration. Dissident blogger Yoani…

Cuba plane crash death toll rises to 111, Mexico suspends lease company

HAVANA/MEXICO CITY: The death toll in one of Cuba’s worst air disasters rose to 111 on Monday while Mexico suspended the operations of the Mexican company that had leased the 39-year old Boeing 737 to Cuba’s flagship airline. Grettel Landrove, a 23-year old Cuban student who loved to dance flamenco, died in a Havana hospital from “severe traumatic lesions”, Cuban state-run media reported. Two Cuban women remained in critical condition due to burns and other trauma, with a high risk of complications, media reports…

Plane crashes in Cuba killing more than 100, investigation underway

HAVANA: More than 100 people were killed when a Boeing 737 crashed soon after taking off from Havana in what appeared to be Cuba’s worst air disaster in nearly 30 years, and there were only three survivors, officials and state media said on Friday. The passenger plane, on a domestic flight to Holguin in eastern Cuba, crashed at 12:08 p.m. (1608 GMT). There were 105 passengers, including five children, plus crew members, state media reported. Five of the passengers and the crew were foreign, according to media reports.…

Boeing 737 crashes in Cuba with 104 people on board

HAVANA: A Cuban state airways plane with 104 passengers on board crashed shortly after taking off Friday from Havana's Jose Marti airport, leaving a thick column of smoke over the scene. The Boeing 737 operated by Cubana de Aviacion crashed in a field near the airport, and a column of acrid smoke was rising over the crash site, an AFP journalist at the scene said. There were no initial reports of casualties on the ground. Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who went to visit the scene, said there was a "high number"…

Cuba holds one-party vote as post-Castro era looms

HAVANA: Cubans go to the polls today in a one-party vote that marks the penultimate step in a political process that will culminate next month with the selection of the Communist-ruled island’s first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution. The government depicts the vote, which takes place every five years and in which Cubans are asked to endorse two official lists of candidates for the national and provincial assemblies, as a symbolic show of unity. This year, though, the newly-seated national assembly will on…

Cuba prepares to end dual currency system

HAVANA: For more than two decades, Cubans have used a unique dual currency system to protect a fragile economy, but with just weeks of his mandate remaining, President Raul Castro has signaled much-delayed change is finally coming. Plans to scrap the divisive system were first mooted in 2003 as part of a series of market-oriented reforms introduced by Castro, who is due to step down in April. Now, after years of delays, authorities on the Caribbean island are finally expected to bite the bullet and begin consolidating…

Fidel Castro’s eldest son commits suicide

HAVANA: The popular eldest son of the late Cuban president Fidel Castro committed suicide on Thursday, state media reported. He was 68 years old. "Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been treated by a group of doctors for several months due to deep depression, took his life this morning," Cuba's official newspaper Granma reported. "Fidelito" -- as he was known on Caribbean island nation -- had initially been hospitalized for his condition and then continued with outpatient follow-ups. Born on September 1, 1949, he was…

Trump signs order to keep Guantanamo detention center open

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he signed an order to keep open the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which his predecessor, Barack Obama, unsuccessfully tried to close. “I just signed, prior to walking in, an order directing (Defense) Secretary (Jim) Mattis ... to re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay,” Trump said in his State of the Union speech. He urged bitterly divided Republicans and Democrats to work toward…