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Cuban President Raul Castro gave his condolences to the United States following a massacre in Orlando, Florida on Sunday. A statement was provided to a news channel that operates on Cuban State Television.
The statement read, “I reiterate that Cuba rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism.”
Cuban and United States relations have been in turmoil since 1962 when United States President Kennedy signed into law a Cuban embargo. The embargo effectively cut the country of Cuba from the United States.
Efforts to end the embargo reached its heights on March 21, 2016 when United States President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro shook hands in Havana. Obama requested that the United States Congress lift the embargo on Cuba after being in place for over 50 years.
Castro’s condolences come at a time when both countries continue to cooperate with each other after over 50 years of strife.
The Orlando, Florida massacre left 49 people dead and over 50 people injured following a shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse. The attack came early on Sunday morning before the club was closing for the night.
The attacker, Omar Mateen, was a 29-year old male who was born in New York and grew up in Long Island. The shooter reportedly called 911 before the shooting to pledge his allegiance to the extremist group ISIS. The massacre ended with Mateen exchanging gunfire with officers and members of the SWAT team.
Mateen was of Muslim faith and pledged his alliance to many extremist groups. The shooter reportedly visited the LGBT nightclub often and was considered a regular. Mateen was married with a child. Recent findings point to the shooter using gay dating apps and sending private pictures to men.
Castro’s statement gave condolences to the United States government and the people following the attacks, but he emphasized his condolences to the friends and family of the victims.
Cuba’s construction minister and Vietnam’s transport minister met in Hanoi on June 13 to discuss cooperation on transportation and ways to improve cooperation in the future.
Truong Quang Nghia, Vietnam’s Transport Minister, said that while his country faces economic challenges, it views infrastructure development as a top priority. The country is encouraging investment from all sources, including foreign and private investors, through a public-private partnership or build-operate-transfer arrangement.
Vietnam is in the midst of changing certain mechanisms and participating in multilateral free trade agreements to help attract foreign investment.
Mr. Nghia said the supervisors and advisors of the Dinvai Company, part of Cuba’s ministry, worked well with other projects in Vietnam. However, he noted that the company can improve its performance by updating its understanding of local laws and its professional knowledge.
Cuba’s Construction Minister Rene Mesa Villafana says the Communist Party’s 7th national congress resolution in April calls for more resources to develop infrastructure. The resolution requires the improvement of inter-provincial roads and the building of expressways.
The Construction Minister said Cuba is learning from other countries’ experiences, including Vietnam.
Mr. Villafana expressed Cuba’s wishes to extend its cooperation with Vietnam in transport infrastructure construction, especially now that several Cuban companies are participating in the Southeast Asian country’s transport projects.
During their meeting, both sides agreed to move forward with transport agreements, including those in the aviation and navigation sectors.
Vietnam’s Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha encouraged Cuba to facilitate a joint venture between the Cuban Geicons Group and the Vietnam Glass and Ceramics for Construction Corporation, or Viglacera.
Mr. Ha called on Mr. Villafana to extend his support of exporting materials from Viglacera to his country. The Minister also expressed his hope that Cuba will initiate cooperation between the two nations. Vietnam is also willing to share its experience with Cuba in the development and management of urban areas, housing, material production and technology.
Cuba’s Foreign Trade Minister, Rodrigo Malmierca, visited Panama on Sunday in a joint meeting. The meeting was welcomed by Panama. Panama’s CCIAP, a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture met with Mr. Malmierca.
Miguel Antonio Pardo, Cuban Ambassador to Panama, announced on Monday that Mr. Malmierca is slated to have meetings through Tuesday with personalities and businessmen in Panama.
Panama and Cuba reinforced their relations last year following a visit to Cuba from Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela. The visit in 2015 was part of a stimulus effort to jumpstart a commercial exchange between the two countries.
Officials in Panama and Cuba have stated that the cooperation between the two countries will be beneficial and generate opportunities.
Commercial operations between the two countries requires opportunities to expand and diversify in an effort to improve the juridical safety and environment of commercial opportunities.
Panama and Cuba trade primarily in non-original goods. Trades are made through the Free Area of Colon. The two countries aim to boost trade and their potential to increase exports among both countries, according to sources close to the matter.
The signed Protocol allowed for new tariff preferences of Panama goods in Cuba. The new tariff laws include 73 lines, with some items reaching 100%, including butter and palm oil. There is an 80 to 30 percent agreement for goods, such as toilet paper, t-shirts, fiber and other items.
Cuba’s embargo with the United States came to an end this year, allowing the country to extend trade with numerous countries. High debt levels in the country have been used by rich countries as a way to enter into the Cuban market. The United States and Cuba must learn and work together, according to a new report from Mr. Malmierca, which was released earlier in the month.