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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Obama Begins Historic Visit to Cuba


    U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle exit Air Force One as they arrive at Havana's international airport for a three-day trip, March 20, 2016.


    HAVANA—
    U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba Sunday on a historic trip, with the two nations moving to normalize their relations 55 years after they broke off ties.

    Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Cuba in almost 90 years, will cap his visit with a direct address to the Cuban people outlining his vision for the future U.S.-Cuba relationship.

    Obama stepped off Air Force One under cloudy skies and light rain at the airport in Havana just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

    Just before landing, Obama tweeted to the people of Cuba.

    On the tarmac, the president, his wife and two daughters were greeted by a Cuban delegation that also presented first lady Michelle Obama with a bouquet of flowers.

    Obama brought with him a delegation that includes lawmakers from both U.S. political parties, corporate executives and prominent Cuban-Americans.

    In remarks at the Melia Habana Hotel in Havana, Obama said, "Having a U.S. embassy (in Cuba) means we're more effectively able to advance our values, our interests and understand more effectively" the Cuban people's concerns. "This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity."

    He also joked that, "Back in 1928, President (Calvin) Coolidge came (to Cuba) on a battleship. It took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours."

    Obama and his family will mostly play tourists on their first night on the Caribbean island, taking in the famous sights of Old Havana.

    The White House said Obama's three-day visit, and his televised speech in Havana Tuesday, represents a new beginning in the relationship between the former Cold War enemies, expanding on the formal restoration of their diplomatic ties eight months ago.


    People gather on the street in Old Havana. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the historic area shortly after his arrival late Sunday afternoon.

    More Obama Begins Historic Visit to Cuba

  2. #2
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    Good for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Good for him.
    Yes, someone had to open the door.
    A lot of yanks still feel terrified at the thought though.

  4. #4
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Decades overdue.....

  5. #5
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    Next a visit to Guatanomo prison and the historic closing he had promised 6 years ago. Obama could be Americas Nelson Mandela.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Next a visit to Guatanomo prison and the historic closing he had promised 6 years ago. Obama could be Americas Nelson Mandela.
    He's not going there.
    Far from the hullabaloo in Havana ahead of Barack Obama’s visit , a battered old Dodge spluttered to a halt on a steep hill overlooking Guantánamo Bay in the far south-east of Cuba.

    While the 60-year-old engine cooled from its laburs, the car’s occupants wandered out to take in the distant view of US-occupied Cuban territory.

    “That yellow line you see stretching across the slope is the wall that marks the border,” said a local guide. “There’s also a barrier under the water to stop boats and divers. Then over there is the base. It’s huge.”

    Clusters of grey buildings sprawl out across a coastal plain. There’s a watchtower on the horizon. A ship at anchor. But in the haze of Caribbean mid-day heat, the true scale of the US navy base is hard to discern.

    Once controlled by the British empire, Guantánamo is now one of the United States’ oldest and biggest overseas military facilities with two airfields, anchorage for 50 warships, about 1,400 buildings and more than 9,000 personnel.

    When the president arrives in Havana on Sunday, there will still be dozens of prisoners in Gitmo
    It is also one of the most problematic stumbling blocks in efforts by the US and Cuba to build a peaceful relationship after more than half a century of cold war conflict. But that dispute is not the only reason why this colonial outpost will not be on Obama’s itinerary when he becomes the first president since Calvin Coolidge to visit Havana, on the other side of the island.

    Guantánamo has become a symbol of US power and presidential weakness. As well as a staging post for actions in Haiti and elsewhere, the government has used it at various times for refugee processing, HIV inspections, training exercises and, most notoriously, interrogation of suspected terrorists.

    Following exposés of rendition and torture, Obama has repeatedly promised to close down the Camp Delta detention facility on the base, but Congress has held up his plans. When the president arrives in Havana on Sunday, there will still be dozens of prisoners in Gitmo.


    The territorial issue is certain to come up during Monday’s summit with Cuban president Raúl Castro, who has repeatedly insisted that no rapprochement will be complete without a handover of Guantánamo. Cuban sovereignty over the territory is not contested, but the US has an indefinite lease – first signed under a 1903 treaty and then revised in 1934 – that cannot be rescinded without approval of both parties. The government in Havana argues this arrangement is invalid because it was signed under duress. Since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, it has refused to cash the annual rent payment of approximately $4,000, and instead demanded the return of the land.

    Analysis 'No one but himself to blame': how Obama's Guantánamo plans fell through
    Years of missteps left Obama trapped in a bind of his own creation – and Tuesday’s plea to Congress was no more than an epitaph for his closure efforts
    Read more
    White House officials and Secretary of State John Kerry have said closing the base and returning the territory are not on the US agenda. This has not stopped speculation in the presidential campaign. Ted Cruz, a Republican candidate for president and a Cuban American, has claimed a handover is imminent. And the Republican-controlled Congress has passed a symbolic motion to protect US jurisdiction.

    Residents of Guantánamo city, a sprawling municipality, on the Cuban side of the border have surprisingly mixed feelings about the debate.

    From a political angle, everyone the Guardian spoke to said they wanted Cuba’s sovereignty to be respected. But many in this poor region put a higher priority on the economy and expressed a wish for the base to stay put, with reopened doors to local workers.

    “If we put a Cuban base in New York City, how would people there feel?” asked retired base employee Rodi Rodriguez, who said he hates America but likes Americans.

    A parts-supply worker who started at the age of 18 on 25 Cuban pesos an hour, Rodriguez knows how Guantánamo once benefited from the base. For decades, this city was dependent on employment by the US navy. Base jobs were highly prized and not given up, even during the hottest points of the Cold War.

    During the 1962 missile crisis, he remembers commuting across the border each day as usual even as the US was threatening to annihilate his country with nuclear weapons.

    “We never stopped working. I felt bad, but I just kept my mouth shut.” The Cuban authorities had warned them not to talk about the conflict, nor to give any excuse to the US to start hostilities.


    At the very least, they should open [Guantánamo] to Cuban workers ... I’d be the first in line for a job
    Up until 1964, several thousand locals worked on the base. As the conflict stretched on, those jobs were steadily scaled back. The last retired two years ago, and Guantánamo has failed to find a sufficient source of income.

    Damningly for the revolution, the pension of former base workers is 50 times higher than those of former Cuban generals. “Rodriguez can live like a king here,” said one envious neighbour.

    This corner of Cuba is now home to some of the poorest communities in Cuba. Many people here get by on incomes of less than 250 pesos ($10) a month, which does not go far, particularly when there are shortages of state-subsidised food.

    “You have to be a magician to make ends meet,” said David Gonzales, whose family was plunged into poverty last year when his father, a former US base worker, died.

    “We used to depend on dad’s US pension. Without it, life is very hard,” he said. Gonzales, whose asked not to use his real name to avoid repercussions, said he hoped the situation would improve as a result of improved ties with the US.

    “Obama’s visit is a good thing. He should help us change by lifting the blockage and ending the threat of invasion. I’d like Cuba to get the base back too, so I can see the place where my father worked. At the very least, they should open it to Cuban workers. If the Americans did that, I’d be the first in line for a job. I’d do anything.”


    Others try more desperate measures. The walls around the base – and other defenses, such as minefields – are not just to deter the military. They also serve to stop Cubans from fleeing across the border to seek asylum.

    Residents say there are still a few cases each year, though it is extremely dangerous.

    “One of my uncles swam across a few years back, but the guy he was with was killed by a floating mine,” said a Antonio Ramirez, a local resident who asked for his name to be changed. He said he too had once planned to cross.

    “A friend and I spent six months training long-distance swimming so we could make it, but we abandoned our bid after seeing the dangers. There are too many mines and the guards might shoot you.”

    Instead, his best hope for change is for the US to engage in the local economy in other ways. But he admits this wasn’t like to happen any time soon. “It would be great if we could get the base back and use it to develop this region. But right now, there is no economic progress so it would probably just be left unused, like other land,” he said.
    Obama in Cuba: locals near Guantánamo share mixed feelings on future of US base | US news | The Guardian

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Good for him.
    Yes, someone had to open the door.
    A lot of yanks still feel terrified at the thought though.
    What?

    How on earth do you work that out?

  8. #8
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo
    A lot of yanks still feel terrified at the thought though.
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    How on earth do you work that out?
    one lonely thought wandering endlessly in the empty space of the average seppo brain - terrifying


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo
    A lot of yanks still feel terrified at the thought though.
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    How on earth do you work that out?
    one lonely thought wandering endlessly in the empty space of the average seppo brain - terrifying

    Yep, I'll post some links when I can, on the phone at the moment. Its the type that thinks Trump is the man.

  10. #10
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    Obamas visit will herald the end of communism in Cuba.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Obamas visit will herald the end of communism in Cuba.
    Gotta pity Cuba, private healthcare and housing will be unaffordable, the place will be overrun with shit fast food joints, and the best, most scenic land will be turned into golf courses for morbidly obese, stupidly dressed morons.


  12. #12
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    ^ Cubans attracting that sort of visitor means that Thailand will be a few thousand short every year.

  13. #13
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    The Rolling Stones rock into Cuba for a historic concert

    Smiles all around after Obama's Cuba visit – but which side got more out of it?

    Barack Obama racked up a foreign policy breakthrough but Raúl Castro, who has spent half a century in his brother’s shadow, will feel quiet satisfaction



    The Rolling Stones arrived in Cuba’s capital on Thursday, on the eve of the rock band’s historic free concert in a country where its music was once silenced.

    Mick Jagger offered a brief greeting in Spanish and said he was happy to be on the island.

    Friday night’s concert will come three days after US president Barack Obama wrapped up a visit to the communist-run island during which he declared an end to the last remnant of the cold war in the Americas.

    The band’s private plane flew into José Martí airport with the four British rockers and about 60 technical workers and family members. The concert will be at Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva.

    “We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana will be a milestone for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too,” the band said in a statement released before the arrival.

    Respectable at last: Rolling Stones rock up in Havana for historic Cuba gig | Music | The Guardian
    signature

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Obamas visit will herald the end of communism in Cuba.

    Bit of a myth that many [that are easily manipulated] swallow, as it never really existed of any form in Cuba.

  15. #15
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    Communism was a myth in all of the countries that claimed to be followers .

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    ‘Health Attacks’ on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba Baffle Both Countries

    The University of Miami received a nervous call from the Trump administration: American diplomats in Havana were getting sick with headaches, dizziness and hearing loss. Washington needed answers.

    At least six patients were flown from Cuba to the university’s hospital this year to determine the cause of a medical mystery that was dogging several people who worked at the American Embassy in Havana. The illnesses appeared to be caused by some kind of sonic wave machine, and the symptoms worsened with prolonged exposure, said a person who was briefed on the situation but was not authorized to comment.

    One of the patients had a more serious illness that involved a blood disorder, the person said. This month, a University of Miami specialist went to Havana to examine others who work at the embassy, because officials expect that more people were affected.

    On Friday, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the illnesses were a result of “health attacks,” adding, “We’ve not been able to determine who’s to blame.”

    The episode was the latest in a series of disputes between the nations. It baffled even the most senior Cuba experts, who wondered whether a rogue element of Cuban intelligence intent on ending President Barack Obama’s reconciliation efforts had pulled off an unauthorized caper, or, more likely, whether a new kind of eavesdropping technology went awry.

    “This is likely another installment in the long saga of spy-vs-spy in U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Peter Kornbluh, a co-author of “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana.”

    The Cuban government has long harassed American government employees in Havana. Stories of feces left in diplomats’ residences became part of Cold War lore. The power would go out, and agents would tailgate diplomats’ vehicles and make it impossible to change lanes. But the recent sicknesses were worse than the standard harassment, even in the worst times, officials said.

    “They would come into your house and erase the pictures of your kids off your computer, or turn all the books around on your bookshelf, just to show you that you had no privacy,” said James Cason, who ran the United States Interests Section in Havana a decade ago said. “They never did anything physical to anybody.”

    This, he said, “sounds like a science experiment.”

    The mystery deepened this week, when Canada said that its employees had also gotten sick.

    “Cuba has very good relations with them, so it doesn’t make sense for them to have been a target of something intentionally designed to injure, even if it was a rogue operation,” said William M. LeoGrande, a professor at American University who is the other author of “Back Channel To Cuba.” “None of the existing speculations make any sense to me.”

    John Caulfield, chief of mission at the United States Interests Section in Havana from 2011 to 2014, said it was “inconceivable” that a third government would have been able to act without the knowledge if not the cooperation of the Cubans. The Cuban government, he said, kept “such close tabs on us they would’ve immediately detected someone else.”

    He added, “My speculation is that it was a surveillance effort that went bad.”

    In a statement Thursday, the Cuban Foreign Ministry said that “Cuba has never allowed or will it allow the Cuban territory to be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, without exception.”

    Several Americans cut their tours in Cuba short after falling ill last year, the State Department said, adding that the government expelled two Cuban diplomats from Washington, because Cuba had failed in its obligation to keep American diplomats safe.

    The State Department said the employees got sick in late 2016. The Cuban government learned of it in February and two of its diplomats were expelled in May.

    Mark Feierstein, a former senior adviser at the National Security Council, said the fact that President Trump did not tear up the Obama administration’s Cuba policy demonstrated that even the Trump administration did not believe that Cuban senior officials were responsible. In June, Mr. Trump curtailed a few minor Cuba policy rules, but left the majority of Mr. Obama’s measures intact.

    Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security in the Obama administration who helped negotiate the normalization of relations with Cuba, said he also found it inconceivable that Cuba would intentionally physically harm American diplomats.

    “It just doesn’t strike me as something the Cuban government would do,” Mr. Rhodes said. “They’ve been pragmatic about Trump.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/w...s-illness.html

  17. #17
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    ^ Cuba is still a turd.

    It was a massive turd under Castro and Raul allowed Cuban FINALLY to have mobile phones and travel.

    Wow!

    Congratulations, Cuba.

  18. #18
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    ^ Don't they have free education? Good hospitals? Weather is good? Soil is good?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    ^ Don't they have free education? Good hospitals? Weather is good? Soil is good?
    You have mentioned 3 things that are good (soil is same as others).

    You forgot to mention bigotry, being poor, needing a visa to visit a family member who lives 2 hours away, and only recently being able to have a mobile phone and travel.

  20. #20
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    Good hospitals, not exactly attractive enough for health tourism, like Bangkok hospitals do exceedingly well.

  21. #21
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    A history of producing great amateur boxers.

    Genius at repairing and maintaining vehicles by recycling.

    Excellent road crossing staff.

  22. #22
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    Would be a much nicer country if the seppos could get over the fact that they fucked up trying to replace yet another regime with some sympathetic lackeys.

    Then again, the place would fill with seppos on spring break and it would probably turn into a shithole.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Pizza View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    ^ Don't they have free education? Good hospitals? Weather is good? Soil is good?
    You have mentioned 3 things that are good (soil is same as others).

    You forgot to mention bigotry, being poor, needing a visa to visit a family member who lives 2 hours away, and only recently being able to have a mobile phone and travel.
    "bigotry, being poor, ." Does not exist in USA?

    "needing a visa to visit a family member" In USA not a visa but ban on travelling to Cuba...

    Try to look on ranks of USA and Cuba, in "infant mortality rate"
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat.../2091rank.html
    (But maybe the CIA got it wrong, or lie to us)

    Remember Katrina?
    Cuba: One of the first countries to offer aid, Cuba offered to send 1,586 doctors and 26 tons of medicine. This aid was rejected by the State Department
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern...ricane_Katrina

    BTW, if the USA got blockaded for 50 years, what would you find on Walmart's shelves and on shelves of others? Without the thousands of containers daily downloaded at both coasts (1 container ship contains 5,000 - 15,000 container units).

    (Forgive my poor English, perhaps somebody near to you can explain?)
    But if you do not get it - it will not matter anyway...

  24. #24
    Fresh Seaman CaptainNemo's Avatar
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    Venezuela, sin 'oleo?

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    Thailand Expat cyrille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klondyke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Pizza View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    ^ Don't they have free education? Good hospitals? Weather is good? Soil is good?
    You have mentioned 3 things that are good (soil is same as others).

    You forgot to mention bigotry, being poor, needing a visa to visit a family member who lives 2 hours away
    "bigotry, being poor, ." Does not exist in USA?

    "needing a visa to visit a family member" In USA not a visa but ban on travelling to Cuba..
    That second one in particular......CP really is as sharp as jelly. Honestly, don't waste your time. He'll be bemoaning their lack of good music and quality rum compared to his local street corner next.

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