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Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Russia backed Mr. Voronin
  • At a news briefing, a State Department spokesman, Robert A. Wood, also expressed concern about the violence, but he said policy makers in Washington had not yet assessed whether the elections had been free and fair.
  • Mihai Moscovici, 25, who provided updates in English all day over Twitter, painted a more nuanced picture. He said the gathering on Monday night drew only several hundred people. The protesters agreed to gather the next morning and began spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter, inventing a searchable tag for the stream of comments: #pman, which stands for Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, Chisinau’s central square. When Internet service was shut down, Mr. Moscovici said, he issued updates with his cellphone.
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Barack Obama says: time for Iraqis to take back Iraq | World news | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • Barack Obama wrapped up a landmark eight-day swing through Europe with a surprise visit to Iraq today - his first as president - and told US troops that Iraqis now needed "to take responsibility for their own country".
  • "You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country," he said. "It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. They need to take responsibility for their country."
  • "I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don't see a complete collapse into violence," he said. "So some people might say, wait, I thought you were opposed to the war, why don't you just get them all out right away? Well, just because I was opposed at the outset it doesn't mean that I don't have now responsibilities to make sure that we do things in a responsible fashion."
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  • The message was the main talking point across Iraqi media yesterday, where he was warmly received by civilians and officials who have largely embraced his overtures to the Islamic world.
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Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand's prime minister, rejects calls for resignation as thousand... - 0 views

  • Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, rejected calls for his resignation as tens of thousands of protesters marched today in Bangkok, posing the biggest challenge to his government amid fears of violence.
  • Dressed in red, the massive crowd marched through Bankok's historic northern district, overtaking main boulevards and waving pictures of their leader-in-exile, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 coup after six years as prime minister.
  • The protesters say Abhisit, who was appointed by parliament in December, took power illegitimately and should step aside so parliament can be dissolved ahead of fresh elections.
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  • Protesters headed to the home of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's top adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, whom they accuse of masterminding the coup. They are also demanding Prem's resignation and have accused the military, judiciary and Prem's inner circle of interfering in politics.
  • Prem has denied the accusations that he orchestrated the coup, but the rare public criticism of a king's privy counsellor broke a taboo in Thailand, where members of the monarchy and their aides are highly revered. Prem had been indirectly accused of orchestrating the coup before
  • Most of Thaksin's supporters are from the country's poor rural majority, who benefited from his populist policies. They are known as "the red shirts," for their favoured attire.
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BBC NEWS | Americas | US Congress members in Cuba talks - 0 views

  • Raul Castro has held talks with members of Congress in his first face-to-face meeting with US politicians since he became president last year.
  • Barack Obama is expected to ease some of the travel and economic restrictions imposed on Cuba nearly 50 years ago.
  • Last week, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill that would allow all US citizens to travel freely to Cuba for the first time since 1962.

    Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan said the policy had "failed for 50 years", adding that he believed it would win enough votes in the US Congress to pass.

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  • At present, the US only allows its citizens to go to Cuba if they are journalists, government officials or on a humanitarian mission. Students or people wanting to visit close relatives can also apply for special licences.
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BBC NEWS | Technology | Net firms start storing user data - 0 views

  • Details of user e-mails and net phone calls will be stored by internet service providers (ISPs) from Monday under an EU directive.
  • The plans were drawn up in the wake of the London bombings in 2005.
  • All ISPs in the European Union will have to store the records for a year. An EU directive which requires telecoms firms to hold on to telephone records for 12 months is already in force.
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  • Sweden has decided to ignore the directive completely while there is a challenge going through the German courts at present.
  • The data stored does not include the content of e-mails or a recording of a net phone call, but is used to determine connections between individuals.

    Authorities can get access to the stored records with a warrant.

  • Isabella Sankey, Policy Director at Liberty, said the directive formalised what had already been taking place under voluntary arrangement for years.

    "The problem is that this regime allows not just police to access this information but hundreds of other public bodies."

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Contracting Boom Could Fizzle Out - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • The recent surge in the Washington area's defense-contracting workforce would begin to ebb under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's latest budget proposal as the Pentagon moves to replace legions of private workers with full-time civil servants.
  • The budget would reverse a contracting boom, beginning after the 2001 terrorist attacks, in which the proportion of private contractors grew to 39 percent of the Pentagon's workforce. Gates said he wants to reduce that percentage to a pre-Sept. 11 level of 26 percent.
  • Roughly 7.5 percent of metropolitan Washington's labor force -- about 291,000 jobs -- is tied to Pentagon contracting. Defense analysts and government contracting experts said Gates's move could affect companies such as CACI and SAIC, which do large amounts of government contracting work, offering technical services, administrative support, database outsourcing and contract management.
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  • Local giants Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics also run substantial government-support operations and would see some weapons projects cut, while other programs would receive budget increases.
  • In particular, the proposed budget would sharply reduce the number of contractors who help the Pentagon oversee and manage its vast weapons-buying apparatus following a string of reports chronicling cost overruns and other problems.
  • A CACI executive said the company is waiting for further details before commenting.

    The Arlington company has 12,300 employees, half of whom are in the D.C. region. Ninety-five percent of its $2.4 billion in revenue last year came from federal contracts for technical services and information technology and contracting oversight for the Army and Navy, as well as such Pentagon offices as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.

  • Overall, the budget Gates proposed calls for major cuts to the weapons programs of some of the largest contractors.
  • One of the hardest-hit defense firms was Boeing.

    The Chicago company's $150 billion Future Combat Systems, a family of Army vehicles linked by high-tech communications, came under criticism from Gates for being costly and plagued by development problems. He proposed canceling the $87 billion vehicle part of the system -- a move that would hurt Boeing, SAIC and their subcontractors, BAE and General Dynamics.

  • Gates also proposed canceling some of Boeing's missile defense programs, including one to equip a modified 747 aircraft with a laser that can shoot down missiles soon after they're launched, saying the program "has significant affordability and technology problems and the program's proposed operational role is highly questionable."
  • Boeing would also be hurt because it makes one-third of the F-22 fighter jet and the Pentagon plans to stop ordering additional aircraft. Gates would also cancel the Air Force's program to build a new search-and-rescue helicopter, which had been awarded to Boeing. And it would not order more of Boeing's C-17 cargo planes. Boeing could also see a military satellite program, known as TSAT, end.
  • Lockheed Martin, of Bethesda, the biggest defense contractor in the world, also took hits on several of its major programs.
  • Gates said he would kill the company's bid to build the presidential helicopter, known as the VH-71, citing the fact that the program is six years late and has gone from initial estimates of $6 billion to $13 billion.
  • Lockheed was also hit by the move to not order more F-22 fighter jets. Perhaps hoping for support in Congress, the company has taken out newspaper ads explaining how its F-22 supports roughly 25,000 jobs around the country.
  • But the Pentagon proposed ordering more of Lockheed's F-35 known as the Joint Strike Fighter, and it would increase from two to three the number of littoral combat ships being built by Lockheed and General Dynamics to patrol near enemy coastlines.
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South Korea 'poisoning' claim - Asia, World - The Independent - 0 views

  • South Korea has rejected claims by North Korea that it poisoned its players before last week's 2010 World Cup qualifier in Seoul, as tensions mounted over the North's long-range rocket launch on Sunday.
  • A North Korean statement on Sunday called the alleged poisoning "a product of [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak's moves for confrontation with the DPRK [North Korea] and a deliberate behaviour bred by the unsavoury forces instigated by it". It also accused the match's Omani referee of bias, adding: "The match thus turned into a theatre of plot-breeding and swindling."
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Plot to assassinate Obama foiled in Turkey - CNN.com - 0 views

  • U.S. officials have taken "very seriously" a plot to assassinate President Barack Obama involving a Syrian man who was arrested late last week in Turkey
  • officials also noted that while Obama gets more threats than usual as the first African-American U.S. president,
  • The plot was first reported by the Saudi Arabian newspaper al-Watan, which revealed that Turkish security services arrested a man of Syrian origins Friday in connection with a plan to kill Obama during his visit to Turkey.
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  • Obama was in Strasbourg, France, on Friday for a NATO summit and did not arrive in Turkey for the final leg of his trip until Sunday.
  • The Saudi paper reported the suspect, who was carrying an Al-Jazeera TV press credential in the name of "M.G.," confessed to authorities after his arrest that he and three alleged accomplices plotted to stab Obama with a knife during the Alliance of Civilizations Summit in Istanbul, which Obama attended on Monday evening. The U.S. officials confirmed those allegations, but stressed to CNN that the information provided by the man is still being verified.
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How Barack Obama refrained from using the 'g' word in Turkey | World news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • During last year's presidential election campaign, Obama had no doubt. "The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence."
  • Obama, with Turkey's president Abdullah Gul and before parliament yesterday, refrained from using what the Turkish media call "the g word". It was not because his views had changed, he said, but because of ongoing talks between Turkey and Armenia, they no longer matter. "What I want to do now is not focus on my views but on the views of the Turkish and Armenian people," he said.
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Obama's Visit to Ankara: Turkey Trip Offers Pitfalls and Opportunities - SPIEGEL ONLINE... - 0 views

  • It was only Barack Obama's telephone diplomacy -- which came in the form of a call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- that solved the problem. In the end, the two agreed that Turkey would not blackball Fogh Rasmussen in return for reportedly gaining an important seat in the alliance and a pledge to start procedures to shut down the Danish television station Roj TV, which Turkey accuses of having ties to the Kurdish militant group PKK.
  • Turkey is a very important strategic partner for the US, a fact which already led presidents Clinton and Bush to give vocal support to Ankara's ambitions to join the EU.
  • Another fact is that Turkey's army -- which alone has 1,200 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan -- is the second largest among those of NATO's member states.
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  • And, then, there is the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, which serves as logistics hub for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's also the fact that Turkey's proximity to the central-Asian countries that are rich in raw materials makes it an important transit hub in the energy supply.
  • Then, of course, there's the issue of Iran. Ankara nurtures strong ties with the country, meaning that Turkey could play a role in facilitating new diplomatic overtures between Washington and Tehran.
  • Turkey's government has already helped to organize talks between high-level officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to negotiate a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict.
  • According to poll figures, more than half of all Turks think Obama is the most trustworthy foreign statesman
  • America's reputation has suffered major damage in Turkey, particularly as a result of its disastrous invasion of Iraq. When Obama was elected president, polls indicated that only 9 percent of Turkey's population approved of Washington's policies. America's efforts to aid Turkey's ambition to become part of the EU have impressed few Turks, particularly since progress has been so sluggish.
  • "Obama should treat Turkey as more than a Muslim country," says Soner Cagaptay, an expert on Turkey at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. As he sees it, it was a good idea for Obama to visit Turkey right after attending meetings with NATO and EU representatives as a way of underscoring the country's close ties with the West.
  • last year, Swiss mediators helped Turkish and Armenian diplomats hammer out a comprehensive agreement that would envision a historic coming to terms with the events of 1915 -- as well as to clear the path for the resumption of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia.
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Israel created 'terror without mercy' in Gaza, according to human rights report | World... - 0 views

  • The Israeli military attacked civilians and medics and delayed - sometimes for hours - the evacuation of the injured during the January war in Gaza, according to an independent fact-finding mission commissioned by Israeli and Palestinian medical human rights groups.
  • Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society yesterday said their findings showed Israel's military committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. In their 92-page report, compiled by five senior health experts from across the world, they documented several specific attacks, with interviews from 44 separate witnesses.
  • Human rights groups have accused Israel's military, as well as Palestinian militants in Gaza, of war crimes. "The underlying meaning of the attack on the Gaza Strip, or at least its final consequence, appears to be one of creating terror without mercy to anyone," the report said.
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BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan 'battling for survival' - 0 views

  • Pakistan is "battling for its own survival", its president, Asif Ali Zardari, has told visiting US special envoy for Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.
  • Mr Zardari said Pakistan needed "unconditional support" to fight terrorism and extremism.
  • Mr Holbrooke, the joint US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Islamabad after talks with Afghan leaders in Kabul.
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  • Mr Obama has pledged substantial economic assistance for Pakistan - more than $1bn annually over the next five years - but the money will depend on the army's performance against the Taleban and al-Qaeda.
  • The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says President Zardari has now told the two US envoys that this is not good enough.
  • His statement after the meeting read: "Pakistan... needs unconditional support by the international community in the fields of education, health, training and provision of equipment for fighting terrorism."
  • "Pakistan is fighting a battle of its own survival," his office quoted him as telling Mr Holbrooke.
  • Our correspondent says his statement revealed the frustration and resentment about the aid conditions - which reflect American distrust of the Pakistani army.

    The conditions strengthen Pakistani perceptions of its army as a mercenary force doing American bidding, she adds.

  • Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: "We can only work together if we respect each other and trust each other."
  • Mr Qureshi admitted there were differences on the issue.

    "We did talk about drones, and let me be very frank - there is a gap. There is a gap between us and them, and I want to bridge that gap."

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BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Clinton presses UN over N Korea - 0 views

  • US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the UN needs to take a strong position in response to North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket
  • "It's a provocative act that has grave implications," Mrs Clinton told reporters.
  • "North Korea ignored its international obligations, rejected the unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations."
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  • Washington and Tokyo are seeking a strong response, but Beijing and Moscow have called for restraint.
  • Susan Rice, the US envoy to the UN, called Pyongyang's move a "clear-cut violation of [resolution] 17-18", while her Japanese counterpart said Tokyo was seeking a "clear, firm and unified" response.
  • There was no general agreement at the council on whether North Korea was in breach of the resolution, let alone on whether it should be punished, our correspondent says.
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Barack Obama woos Muslims from secular Turkey | World news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • Barack Obama extended an olive branch to the Muslim world from the floor of Turkey's parliament yesterday by declaring the US was not "at war with Islam" but instead sought its partnership to pursue common goals.
  • Mindful of Turkey's offer to mediate in settling America's 30-year-old dispute with Iran, he reiterated his previous offer of rapprochement to the leadership in Tehran but warned it must abandon any ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Turkish television channels emphasised Obama's supposed links to Islam throughout the day yesterday by repeatedly referring to his middle name, Hussein.
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  • "The US strongly supports Turkey's bid to become a member of the European Union," he said. "Europe gains by the diversity of ethnicity, culture and faith - it is not diminished by it. And Turkish membership would broaden and strengthen Europe's foundation once more."
  • Soli Ozel, an analyst at Bilgi University in Istanbul, said Obama had pressed "all the right buttons". "It looked at both sides of Turkey's identity, secular and Islamic," he said.
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Obama Prague Speech On Nuclear Weapons: FULL TEXT - 0 views

  • The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.
  • Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.
  • as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.
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  • So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
  • I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly -- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence.
  • To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same
  • Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies -- including the Czech Republic. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.
  • Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy.
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Obama sets out plan for nuclear-free world | Politics | Reuters - 0 views

  • President Barack Obama set out his vision for ridding the world of nuclear arms on Sunday, declaring the United States ready to lead steps by all states with atomic weapons to reduce their arsenals.
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What Turkey Wants From Obama | Newsweek International | Newsweek.com - 0 views

  • The Bush administration spent years trying to isolate people the Turkish government thought should be engaged—Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, to name a few. The Obama administration broadly endorses engagement. Turkish-American relations are therefore about to change from being good despite fundamental disagreement to being a genuine meeting of minds.
  • From Turkey's perspective, the most important item on the agenda is what it does not want: official U.S. recognition that what happened to the Armenians was genocide. I doubt Obama would have accepted an invitation to visit Turkey now if he was not planning to oppose a congressional resolution on the subject, or if he intended to use the G word on April 24, when he will make a statement commemorating the Armenian massacres of 1915
  • Like Tony Blair and Tayyip Erdogan, Obama is thought to recognize that Hamas can no longer be ignored, though he cannot possibly say so publicly. Turkey's leaders (and their advisers) can provide Obama with valuable insights, and help start the ball rolling. This would allow Obama to avoid political exposure in Washington for "talking to terrorists" until he has a sense of the other side's position.
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  • Then there is Cyprus, but the real problem here is between Turkey and the European Union. Europe wants Turkey to open its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots. Turkey wants Europe to ease the commercial isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in exchange, but the Greek Cypriots veto this. The United States can offer its support and its good offices, but it does not have much leverage over either the European Union or the Greek Cypriots. This is also broadly true of Turkey's EU entry negotiations.
  • A final item is the Nabucco pipeline bringing Central Asian gas to Europe via Turkey. Both America and Turkey would like to see it built. The question, however, is who will pay for it? Neither America nor Turkey has much spare cash right now.
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Iran criticizes Obama, calls on U.S. to scrap nuclear arms | International | Reuters - 0 views

  • Iran criticized on Monday U.S. President Barack Obama for saying Tehran posed a threat with its nuclear program and urged Washington and other countries possessing atom weapons to dismantle their arsenals.
  • Qashqavi noted that the Bush administration, which spearheaded a drive to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear plans, had also described the Islamic state as a threat.

    "It seems that the repetition of the past U.S. administration's accusations (against Iran) would be in contrast with the slogan of change (by Obama)," Qashqavi said.

    "And such a thing -- nuclear armament -- does not exist in Iran to be inferred as a threat," he said.

  • Qashqavi said nuclear weapons had no place in Iran's defense doctrine and that the existence of such arms was a serious threat to the global community.

    "We, like the rest of the world community, are awaiting a world free of nuclear arms," Qashqavi said.

    "Our expectation from the U.S. and others is to take serious and practical measures toward nuclear disarmament and dismantling of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

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Cuba ve con inquietud un acercamiento demasiado rápido a EE UU · ELPAÍS.com - 0 views

  • Las autoridades de La Habana ven con inquietud la posibilidad de que EE UU levante "demasiado pronto" la prohibición que impide a los ciudadanos norteamericanos visitar Cuba. Al tiempo que se desea y se aprecia como una tabla de salvación en estos momentos de crisis, el fin de la veda al turismo estadounidense es percibido como un reto, con un elevado potencial desestabilizador en el terreno político e ideológico, según observadores y diplomáticos.
  • Obama ha firmado ya la ley de presupuestos, con una enmienda que permite que los cubanoamericanos realicen visitas familiares una vez al año (hasta ahora, por disposición de Bush, solo podían viajar a la isla una vez cada tres años).
  • Sin embargo, se especula con la posibilidad de que antes de la Cumbre de las Américas, que se realizará en Trinidad y Tobago entre el 17 y el 19 de abril, el presidente de Estados Unidos se descuelgue con un gesto unilateral hacia Cuba y elimine totalmente las restricciones a los viajes de cubanoamericanos y a las remesas que pueden enviar a la isla.
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  • Esta medida, que sería sobre todo un "gesto" de Washington hacia América Latina, opuesta radicalmente al embargo norteamericano, afectaría a un millón y medio de cubanoamericanos.
  • Es precisamente aquí donde está el problema. Mucho antes de que ganara Obama, el dirigente histórico de la revolución Armando Hart dijo claramente: ''Si cumple su promesa [de aliviar el embargo], nacerá una nueva etapa en el combate ideológico entre la revolución cubana y el imperialismo. En ella (...) será necesario el diseño de una nueva concepción teórica y propagandística acerca de nuestras ideas y su origen''. Y añadió: ''Una amplia migración con distintos objetivos puede venírsenos encima y para ello debemos prepararnos culturalmente''.
  • En realidad, el reto es doble. El turismo, con ingresos brutos de unos 2.000 millones de dólares y 2.350.000 visitantes anuales, es el segundo aportador de divisas al país, después de los servicios médicos y educacionales a Venezuela y otros países, calculados en 6.000 millones.
  • El turismo supone más ingresos que las exportaciones de azúcar, níquel y tabaco juntas y Cuba necesita ese dinero. Diversos estudios calculan que el primer año del levantamiento de la prohibición podría viajar a Cuba un millón de turistas norteamericanos, y hasta tres millones anuales en los años siguientes.
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