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Former Cuban President Fidel Castro dies

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Fidel Castro
  • Former Cuban President Fidel Castro dies

Cuban revolutionary icon and former president Fidel Castro died late Friday in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television.

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” the president announced on national television. Fidel Castro was 90.

Raul Castro, who took power after his older brother Fidel was hospitalised in 2006, said that the revolutionary leader’s remains will be cremated early on Saturday, “in compliance with his expressed will.”

Raul Castro made the announcement just after midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday).

One of the leading world figures in the second half of the 20th century, Fidel Castro had outsized influence given the size of his small Caribbean island. He was said to have survived countless US assassination attempts.

The former Cuban president, who died aged 90 on Friday, said he would never retire from politics.

But emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 drove him to hand power to Raul Castro, who ended his brother’s antagonistic approach to Washington, shocking the world in December 2014 in announcing a rapprochement with US President Barack Obama.

Famed for his rumpled olive fatigues, straggly beard and the cigars he reluctantly gave up for health reasons, Fidel Castro kept a tight clamp on dissent at home while defining himself abroad with his defiance of Washington.

In the end, he essentially won the political staring game, even if the Cuban people do continue to live in poverty and the once-touted revolution he led has lost its shine.

As he renewed diplomatic ties, Obama acknowledged that decades of US sanctions had failed to bring down the regime — a drive designed to introduce democracy and foster western-style economic reforms — and it was time to try another way to help the Cuban people.

A great survivor and a firebrand, if windy orator, Castro dodged all his enemies could throw at him in nearly half a century in power, including assassination plots, a US-backed invasion bid, and tough US economic sanctions.

Born August 13, 1926 to a prosperous Spanish immigrant landowner and a Cuban mother who was the family housekeeper, young Castro was a quick study and a baseball fanatic who dreamed of a golden future playing in the US big leagues.

But his young man’s dreams evolved not in sports but politics. He went on to form the guerrilla opposition to the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista, who seized power in a 1952 coup.

That involvement netted the young Fidel Castro two years in jail, and he subsequently went into exile to sow the seeds of a revolt, launched in earnest on December 2, 1956 when he and his band of followers landed in southeastern Cuba on the ship Granma.

Twenty-five months later, against great odds, they ousted Batista and Castro was named prime minister.

Lawyer turned fighter

Once in undisputed power, Castro, a Jesuit-schooled lawyer, aligned himself with the Soviet Union. And the Cold War Eastern Bloc bankrolled his tropi-communism until the Soviet bloc’s own collapse in 1989.

Fidel Castro held onto power as 11 US presidents took office and each after the other sought to pressure his regime over the decades following his 1959 revolution, which closed a long era of Washington’s dominance over Cuba dating to the 1989 Spanish-American War.

And Castro’s dangerous liaison with the Soviet Union took the world to the nerve-jarring edge of nuclear war in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It was sparked when Moscow sought to position nuclear-tipped missiles on the island just 144 kilometers (90 miles) off the US state of Florida.

After a tense standoff between the rival superpowers, the world pulled back from the abyss as Moscow agreed to keep the missiles off Cuban soil.

Castro strode the world stage as a communist icon when the Cold War was at its height.

He sent 15,000 soldiers to help Soviet-backed troops in Angola in 1975 and dispatched forces to Ethiopia in 1977.

The United States has variously been infuriated, embarrassed and alarmed at Castro’s defiance, and intensely frustrated by his survival in power despite the economic embargo Washington hoped in vain would spark rebellion.

The tempestuous Cuban president himself repeatedly pinned the blame for Cubans’ economic hardship on the embargo. The United States had invaded the island nation before, he reminded his 11 million people constantly, and could do so again at any time.

After a cutoff of Soviet bloc aid in 1989 nearly collapsed the economy, Castro allowed more international tourism and slight economic reform on the Caribbean’s largest island.

But as even China loosened economic reins, Havana backtracked and held tight to the centralized economic model. Instead, a new ally, Hugo Chavez, president of oil-rich Venezuela and also a foe of Washington, began bankrolling Castro’s regime.

Known widely among Cubans as simply “Fidel” or “El Comandante,” Castro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States in 1961 and expropriated US companies’ assets totaling more than one billion dollars.

In April 1961 he weathered an invasion attempt by some 1,300 CIA-trained Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs.

But the island suffered from an exodus of people and capital abroad, mainly to Florida where a large anti-Castro movement thrived.

Castro kept his private life largely private, but in recent years, more details became public.

In 1948, he married Mirta Diaz-Balart, who gave birth to their first son, Fidelito. The couple later divorced.

In 1952, Castro met Naty Revuelta, a socialite married to a doctor, and they had a daughter, Alina, in 1956.

He met Celia Sanchez, said to have been his main life partner, in 1957 and remained with her until her death in 1980.

In the 1980s, Castro reportedly married Dalia Soto del Valle, with whom he had five children: Angel, Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis and Alex.
After stepping aside in 2006, Fidel Castro recovered slowly from surgery and kept rallying on the sidelines to push his Revolution into the 21st century. It made it, in decidedly rough shape.

President Raul Castro, the former defense chief who is now (born June 3, 1931) himself, in the past few years kept dissent largely in check and economic reform limited, with the island’s economy in very dire straits.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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