Happy Friday! We hope you and yours are well.
This week, Cuba’s government made multiple efforts aimed at improving Cuba’s economy. On Thursday, it was announced that the island will no longer be accepting USD cash bank deposits given difficulties faced by the island when trying to deposit USD abroad. It was also clarified this week that recently announced prepaid USD cards are to be used by Cuban tourists and emigrants, not by the general Cuban population. The prepaid cards were introduced as a response to the current lack of liquidity faced by the Cuban peso in the island’s financial market. While the island adopted policies to ease economic turmoil domestically, Cuba’s Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas traveled to France on Thursday to renegotiate a 2015 debt forgiveness and payment plan agreement with the Paris Club. Cuba failed to meet payment obligations in 2019 and 2020 due to economic hardships allegedly frustrated by U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cuban rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo, a member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) and one of the two Cuba-based singers featured in the viral song Patria y Vida (“Fatherland and Life”), remains under state custody while facing charges of public disorder and evasion of authority. While state authorities claim that Mr. Osorbo has been offered legal representation and maintains contact with his family, independent organizations in Cuba have questioned the validity of his arrest and demanded his immediate release. Cuba was again mentioned in international headlines over suspicions that an Iranian warship thought to be carrying weapons potentially destined for Venezuela may also dock in Cuba. The concern sparked warnings from the Biden-Harris administration that such a shipment would be seen as a provocation and could be met with deterrence measures.
In news pertaining to COVID-19 in Cuba, the island’s vaccination campaign in Havana continues to expand, along with plans to eventually bring the island’s domestically produced vaccines to the international market. The island has also had a significant increase in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. As of last Thursday, Cuba reached the highest number of patients in ICUs since March of 2020 with a total of 161. Yesterday, Cuba reported 154,866 cases of COVID-19. There are currently 6,192 total active cases of COVID-19 on the island, an increase from the previous day. Havana reported the largest number of new cases by far compared to other provinces at 460. The total number of deaths since March 2020 is 1,065. For a graph of case numbers since March 2020, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.
This week, in Cuba news…Read the rest of this entry »