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US, Cuba resume talks amid Venezuela tensions

HAVANA, Cuba – U.S. and Cuban officials met Monday in Havana for new talks on restoring diplomatic ties, but their historic rapprochement was strained by tensions over Venezuela.

The top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, met her Cuban counterpart Josefina Vidal behind closed doors for a third round of talks on normalizing relations, but the atmosphere of reconciliation was marred by protests over Washington’s treatment of Venezuela.

As Jacobson touched down in the Cuban capital late Sunday, thousands of people attended a concert and rally to “support the Bolivarian [Venezuelan] people and government” in their mounting row with the United States.

U.S. relations with Venezuela, a key Cuban ally, have been on a downward spiral since President Nicolás Maduro accused Washington in February of sponsoring a coup attempt against him — a claim Washington denies.

After President Barack Obama slapped new sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials accused of an opposition crackdown in the wake of the coup allegation, Maduro responded by recalling Venezuela’s envoy to Washington and lashing out at the “imperialist elite.”

The socialist leader then ordered 10 days of “defensive military exercises” and asked Venezuela’s National Assembly to grant him the power to rule by decree on defense and public safety matters — a request voted through by his legislative majority on Sunday.

The row threatens to blight the goodwill Obama cultivated throughout Latin America by moving to restore ties with Cuba.

It has also exposed the gaps that still remain between the United States and Cuba, which has relied heavily on Venezuelan oil money since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Havana called Obama’s new sanctions “arbitrary and aggressive.”

North Korean solidarity call 

Unlike the previous two rounds of talks held since the historic U.S.-Cuban rapprochement was announced on Dec. 17, 2014, no press conference was scheduled for this week’s meetings between Jacobson and Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat on U.S. affairs.

A senior State Department official downplayed expectations of the talks, due to last until mid-week, saying they will probably not produce any major announcements.

Both sides are trying to iron out remaining issues with an eye on the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11.

Obama is due to attend the summit, where Cuba will also participate for the first time.

Obama has said he hopes the two countries can reopen embassies in each other’s capitals before the summit.

“That’s something that we still would like and that’s what we hope,” the senior State Department official said.

He said Washington was “disappointed” with Cuba’s position on its row with Venezuela, but that “it will not have an impact on these conversations moving forward.”

But the two sides remain at odds on several thorny issues, such as compensation for property owned by U.S. citizens and companies and that was nationalized after the Cuban Revolution, freedom of movement for diplomats and Cuba’s removal from the U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terror.

And lifting the crippling trade and financial embargo the United States slapped on Cuba in 1962 would require approval from Congress — a difficult political battle with both houses currently under Republican control.

The two sides are next due to meet in late March, when they will address the delicate issue of human rights for the first time.

The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961 and continued to isolate the country, the only communist regime in the Americas, even after the Cold War ended.

Their thaw left North Korea, another of Washington’s old Cold War antagonists, reminding Cuba of their shared animosity for the United States.

The two communist countries “share a history of fighting together in the same trench against American imperialism, which continues to exert economic pressure on our countries to this day,” said Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong during a visit to Havana that coincided with Monday’s talks.

Speaking amid heightened tensions with South Korea and the United States over their annual joint military drills, Ri said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was keen to “broaden and strengthen” relations with Cuba.

 

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Donald Waltz

Comrade Ben, Since your against big business creating jobs, please inform the poor people how you expect to fix their problems with your Communist Utopia? Please or let me guess you really have no clue on how to fix any issue but are so in love with a Communist Utopia that your common sense is gone. Always blame companies for what you have no clue on how to fix it. Tell me how the poor in Cuba are doing? How about Venezuela’s poor are doing? Russia and China? Check it out Comrade Ben before you shoot you mouth

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Ben

IS IT TIME FOR A REVOLUTION IN COSTA RICA

OVER THE LAST 8 YEARS OF LIVING IN COSTA RICA I HAVE NOTICED AN EXTREME ECONOMIC CLASS STRUGGLE. I HAVE NOTICED MORE PEOPLE STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE AND MANY PEOPLE IN COSTA RICA ARE LOSING THERE JOBS UNABLE TO FIND WORK AFTER THEY LOSE THERE JOBS. EIGHT MONTHS AGO INTEL THE COMPUTER COMPANY ANNOUCED THEY WOULD CUT 1560 JOBS FROM THERE PLANT CUTTING THE YEARLY GDP OF COSTA RICA BY 100 MILLION DOLLARS THEN BANK OF AMERICA CLOSED THERE OPERATION IN COSTA RICA AND LEFT 1500 STAFF LOOKING FOR WORK MANY OTHER US MUILTI NATIONAL HAVE LEFT AND MANY HOTELS IN COSTA RICA HAVE CLOSED ASWELL LEAVING PEOPLE WONDERING WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO WORK AND WHERE THERE NEXT MEAL MIGHT COME FROM. MANY EX PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA THOUGHT BRINGING IN THE THE US COMPANIES TO SET UP IN COSTA RICA AND GIVE THEM TAX BREAKS AND THEY CAN GROW ARE ECONOMY. THIS DECISION FOR US MULITI NATIONAL TO COME TO COSTA RICA WAS GREAT AT FIRST BUT THERE IS ONE FACTOR THAT PREVIOUS COSTA RICA GOVERNMENT DID NOT THINK ABOUT IS WHAT IF THE US COMPANIES DECIDE TO LEAVE? WELL MOST CAPITALIST GOVERNMENTS THINK EVERYTHING WILL WORK IT SELF OUT EVENTUALLY IF A COMPANY CLOSES AND PEOPLE LOSE THERE JOBS THIS IS VERY MUCH NOT THE REALITY IN COSTA RICA. RIGHT NOW HEWLETT PACKARD IN COSTA RICA HAS 8000 STAFF THIS AMOUNT OF STAFF IS A BIG PROBLEM FOR THE COSTA RICA GOVERNMENT. WHAT IF HEWLET PACKARD DECIDES TO CUT STAFF IN COSTA RICA. I MEAN WHAT IF HEWLETT PACKARD LAYED OFF MORE THAN 50% OF THERE STAFF? THE FACT IS HEWLETT PACKARD COULD LAYOFF ANYDAY AND WHAT WOULD THE COSTA RICAN GOVERNMENT DO IF 4000 MORE WORKERS NEEDED JOBS. THE FACTS ARE THAT OVER MANY YEARS PAST COSTA RICA GOVERNMENT HAS GROW TO CLOSE TO COUNT ON US MUILTI NATIONAL FOR HELP TO KEEP THERE PEOPLE WORKING. MOST US MUILTI NATIONAL ARE PROFIT DRIVEN AND IF A US MUITI NATIONAL DOES NOT NOT MAKE LARGE PROFITS FOR THERE SHARE HOLDER THEY ALWAYS CUT JOBS. THE FACTS ARE COSTA RICA IS AT A POINT OF MAJOR ECONOMIC PAIN. THE COSTS RICA GOVERNMENT DOES NOT HAVE ANY ANSEWER TO HELP THE POOR AND THE MIDDLE CLASS THAT NEED HELP EVERYDAY TO PAY BILLS. MANY COSTA RICAN FAMILY ARE WONDERING WHERE THEY WILL GET THERE NEXT MEAL AND WILL THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO KEEP THERE LIGHTS ON. RIGHT NOW IN COSTA RICA THERE ARE 600,000+ PEOPLE LEAVING IN POVERTY AND THAT NUMBER IS GROWING FASTER AND FASTER AS MUILTI NATIONAL LEAVE. CRIME IN COSTA RICA IS RISING AND COSTA RICAN DO NOT TRUST ANY GOVERNMENT NOW TO GROW THERE ECONOMY. THE FEW RICH IN COSTA RICA THAT DRIVE RANGE ROVERS IN ESCAZU THAT ACT LIKE THE POOR ARE NOT PART OF OUR SOCIETY IN COSTA RICA. THE POOR LOOK AT THE RICH IN COSTA RICA AND SEE THE RICH AS SLAVE MASTERS THAT KEEP THEM DOWN TO MAKE A FEW COLONS. MANY RICH IN COSTA RICA ACT LIKE THEY KNOW BEST FOR COSTA RICANS THIS IS THE PROBLEM THEY THINK THEY KNOW BEST BUT THE TRUTH IS MANY OF THE RICH IN COSTA RICA SEE POOR AS PEOPLE THEY CAN PAY NOTHING SO THEY CAN EARN MORE MONEY OFF THERE BACKS.

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