Chronicle on Cuba - March 2010
Domestic Affairs: During the whole month, dissident Guillermo Farinas has been on hunger strike demanding the release of political prisoners. The official media deny the Government’s responsibility in the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata. The president of the Institute of Civil Aeronautics is relieved of his duties. The “Ladies in White” complete a whole week of marches through Havana while harassed by hundreds of government supporters. Zapata’s death and Farinas’ hunger strike trigger controversial statements by prominent Cuban individuals and institutions. Cuban President Raul Castro names a replacement for Attorney General Juan Escalona. Joining Farinas, two Cuban dissidents begin hunger strikes.
Economy: The number of tourists visiting the island declines. Official media acknowledge that agricultural reforms have not yet yielded results. Canadian mining company Sherritt International's joint nickel venture in Cuba break production records. Cuba and Russia sign a memorandum in customs. Cuban farmers press for greater autonomy to produce and sell their crops.
Exile Community: Exile organizations under Consenso Cubano make a call to the international community to avoid “new tragedies” in relation with Cuban dissidents on hunger strike. Exile organizations in Mexico and Spain request from the Spanish Government to stop “protecting” Raul and Fidel Castro. Cuban exiles in the US, Germany, Canada, Chile, Geneva, Italy, Peru, Uruguay, and other countries, commemorate the 7th anniversary of Cuba’s “Black Spring.” Tens of thousands of Cuban exiles march in Miami with singer Gloria Estefan in support of Cuba's Ladies in White. Marches of Cuban exiles take place in New York, Harvard, and Los Angeles in support of the Ladies in White. Cuban exiles demonstrate in front of the Cuban Embassy in Madrid demanding the release of political prisoners.
Foreign Affairs: Two Cuban Vice Presidents travel to Uruguay and Namibia, respectively. Cuban officials accuse the European Union and the US of stepping up subversion against the island. Grenada’s Prime Minister visits Cuba. Spain makes efforts to prevent the possible death of dissident Guillermo Farinas. The Cuban government sends more doctors and paramedics to Chile. Governments, parliaments, and international organizations condemn the death of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata, and express concern over Farinas’ health condition. El Salvador opens its Embassy in Havana. A letter demanding the release of political prisoners in Cuba is signed by thousands of individuals around the world. The Cuban government receives the support of allied governments and of solidarity organizations. A meeting between European Union and Cuban officials is suspended. Cuba and Venezuela launch a program of reconstruction and strengthening of Haiti’s national health system.
US-Cuba Relations: Forty per cent of Americans say the Cuba embargo should remain in place while 36 per cent want it ended. Washington allows technology companies to export Internet services to Cuba. US and Cuban officials meet to discuss international cooperation on assistance for Haiti. Puerto Rico's band Calle 13 performs in Havana. US travel specialists meet with their Cuban counterparts in Cancun. US President Barack Obama slams Cuba for its continued political and human rights repression. The US replica of the Spanish schooner Amistad docks in the Cuban capital. Agricultural exports to Cuba decline.