Alexa

Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

CUBA: Fidel Castro says he quit as Communist Party Chief _ 5 years ago
HAVANA (AP) _ Fidel Castro said Tuesday he resigned five years ago from all his official positions, including head of Cuba's Communist Party, a pre-eminent job in the island's political pantheon that he was thought to still hold.
It was the first time the 84-year-old revolutionary icon has said he no longer heads the Communist Party, which he has led since its creation in 1965. The Communist Party website still lists him as first secretary, with his brother President Raul Castro listed as second secretary.
The declaration raised questions about just how much power Fidel Castro has been wielding behind the scenes _ with or without a formal post _ and to what extent Raul Castro has had true freedom to make his own decisions.
Castro wrote in an opinion piece that when he got sick in 2006, "I resigned without hesitation from my state and political positions, including first secretary of the party ... and I never tried to exercise those roles again."
Castro's comments come just weeks ahead of a crucial Communist Party Congress, in which it was widely expected that a new party leader would be picked _ presumably his brother. The Congress also is tasked with endorsing a series of major economic changes Raul Castro has enacted since taking over the presidency, including opening the island up to limited private enterprise.
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CUBA: Roman Catholic Church says government to release last dissidents from '03
HAVANA (AP) _ The Roman Catholic Church said Tuesday that the Cuban government will release the last two political prisoners held since a 2003 crackdown on dissent, a landmark announcement that came the same day Fidel Castro said he had stepped down as head of the island's Communist Party.
The decision will clear Cuban jails of the last of 75 prominent intellectuals, opposition leaders and activists whose imprisonment on charges including treason has long soured relations with the outside world.
The last two men to be released are Felix Navarro and Jose Daniel Ferrer, activists who had each been sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Bertha Soler, a leader of the Ladies in White opposition group and the wife of recently freed prisoner Angel Moya, said the women would continue to protest, despite the fact that their loved ones are now out of jail. The Ladies _ wives and mothers of the 2003 prisoners _ have been marching peacefully each Sunday since the arrests.
Cuba has been releasing the men gradually under an agreement President Raul Castro and Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega reached in July. Officials here complain the government has received little credit in Washington and European capitals for the releases, which come as President Raul Castro has overhauled the economy and legalized a limited amount of private enterprise.
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GUANTANAMO: Britain says diplomats must report overseas torture worries
LONDON (AP) _ Britain's foreign secretary says diplomats will be made personally responsible for reporting any concerns over the torture or mistreatment of detainees overseas.
Foreign Secretary William Hague published new guidance Tuesday that orders diplomatic staff to inform London of any worries about possible cruelty.
In November, Britain agreed to pay hefty settlements to ex-Guantanamo detainees who accused the government of complicity in their torture. Officials were criticized for failing to press allies for assurances about the treatment of suspects held overseas.
Hague says staff must immediately report all instances in which they see detainees subjected to techniques including sleep deprivation, physical abuse, hooding or the withdrawal of food.
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CUBA: Cuban spy claims innocence in downing of plane
MIAMI (AP) _ In a new appeal, a convicted Cuban spy insists he is innocent of any role in shooting down exile planes that dropped pro-democracy leaflets in 1996 on the communist island and helped rescue migrants in the ocean.
Gerardo Hernandez, 45, is one of the so-called Cuban Five, convicted in 2001 of spying in the U.S. He is also the only one serving a life sentence for a murder conspiracy conviction arising from the Brothers to the Rescue planes that were shot down by Cuban fighter jets, which killed four men.
Attorneys for Hernandez are asking U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard to throw out his conviction and sentence, based in part on his new claims filed Monday.
In the documents, Hernandez contends he was never told that he could have been tried separate from the others on the murder conspiracy charge. If he had, Hernandez said he would have testified in his own defense that he was innocent, something he did not do in the spy trial.
Attorney Richard Klugh said Hernandez could not testify in the spy trial because he would have had to admit on the stand that he was a Cuban agent and could not call his co-defendants as witnesses.
The Miami U.S. attorney's office had no immediate comment.
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JAMAICA: New port officially opens, welcomes super-liner
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ A new cruise ship port in northern Jamaica celebrated its official launch Tuesday with the arrival of one of the world's largest recreational liners.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas docked at the Falmouth pier in Trelawny with nearly 6,000 passengers aboard, the government said in a statement.
The two-berth Historic Falmouth Cruise Port development is nestled between the resort cities of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. A $220 million, three-phase project, it is being developed by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the Port Authority of Jamaica.
It was originally scheduled to open in early January, but has suffered from delays. Work is still underway to construct retail stores and a historical center, among other features.
Although the port received its first visiting cruise ship in February, officials held the opening ceremony until Tuesday's arrival of the Oasis of the Seas.
A 16-deck, 225,000-ton (204,100-metric-ton) ship, it plans visits to Haiti and Mexico this voyage before returning to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The number of cruise ship passengers visiting Jamaica dropped 1.4 percent last year to 910,000.
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PUERTO RICO: Island gets $8.4 million in FEMA funds for storm aid
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Federal officials say Puerto Rico is getting more than $8.4 million to help rebuild roads and homes damaged by Tropical Storm Otto last year.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday that the majority of funds will go toward rebuilding roads in the southern mountain towns of Villalba and Yauco.
Otto unleashed widespread floods and landslides when it swiped the Caribbean region in early October.
Several municipalities in the U.S. Caribbean territory were declared federal disaster areas.


Updated : 2021-03-07 20:43 GMT+08:00