A man  has a wound in his leg cleaned at a makeshift field clinic run by the Cuban Medical Battalion  in Port-au-Prince.
A man has a wound in his leg cleaned at a makeshift field clinic run by the Cuban Medical Battalion in Port-au-Prince.

Disaster may thaw Cuban-American relations

WASHINGTON // The relief effort in Haiti has led to new opportunities for co-operation between the United States and Cuba and could potentially thaw the relationship between the long-time adversaries, some analysts say. Although few believe the earthquake will bring a sudden end to a complex political dispute that has spanned decades, there are some encouraging signs that both sides, for now, are willing to put aside their political differences as they assist those affected by the January 12 earthquake.

Cuban officials authorised US medical evacuation flights to cross through restricted Cuban airspace on their way from Guantanamo Bay to Florida, cutting about 90 minutes off the flight time. And US medical teams and Cuban doctors are collaborating on the ground and sharing US medical supplies, Darby Holladay, a spokesman for the US state department, said. "This development reflects our overwhelming concern for the welfare of the Haitian people," he said. "We will continue to identify areas where our co-operation can support the overall relief effort in Haiti."

Fidel Castro, Cuba's ailing former president, wrote last week in the Communist Party newspaper, Granma, of the "spirit of co-operation" among the countries responding in Haiti. "Haiti could become an example of what humanity can do for itself," he wrote. He also wrote, however, that it remains to be seen how long the co-operation will endure "before egotism, chauvinism, petty interests and contempt for other nations prevail".

Barack Obama's first year in office was marked by some optimism that the US-Cuban relationship was entering a more conciliatory phase. In April, Mr Obama eased restrictions on travel by Cuban-Americans to their families in Cuba and removed caps on the amount of money they are permitted to send home. His administration also reopened bilateral talks on the migration of Cubans to the United States and is negotiating the establishment of direct postal service to Cuba. A similar dialogue was suspended in 2004 by George W Bush, who cited a variety of concerns including Cuba's refusal to grant exist visas to Cubans who had received permission to enter the United States.

Mr Obama, however, has maintained a full embargo on trade to Cuba, which was imposed in 1962 after Mr Castro's "Cuban Revolution". Cuba continues to be listed - along with Iran, Sudan and Syria - as a "state sponsor of terrorism" and US citizens are forbidden to travel there. A new complication arose in December when Cuban authorities arrested a US citizen, Alan Gross, who was distributing laptops and internet connection equipment to Jewish groups in Cuba as part of a US government democracy promotion programme. Cuban authorities detained Mr Gross on suspicion of espionage.

Dan Erikson, a senior associate at the Inter-American Dialogue, a non-profit policy analysis group in Washington, said US-Cuba co-operation in Haiti is a positive development, but probably would not have a lasting effect on their brittle relationship. While allowing US planes to use Cuban airspace is a positive gesture, he said, it is not unprecedented. Similar permission was granted in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

"What this proves is that the US and Cuba are capable of putting aside political differences when it's perceived to be in their common interests," Mr Erikson, author of The Cuba Wars: Fidel Castro, the United States, and the Next Revolution, said. "But this kind of broad history of confrontation is not going to be erased by an earthquake in Haiti." Still, Julie Feinsilver, a senior research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said the joint US-Cuban relief work could open the two countries to a much broader form of "medical diplomacy".

"How about converting Guantanamo into a Latin American-Caribbean regional disaster relief and management centre?" she said, suggesting that doctors and relief workers are sometimes better at breaking down political barriers than diplomats and politicians. "It's not an economic competition. They are not competing for markets. They are just working together to provide a good - a need - that is in great demand in third countries."

Ms Feinsilver, author of the forthcoming book Medical Diplomacy: Fifty Years of Cuba's Soft Power Politics, said there were 344 Cuban doctors on the ground in Haiti when the earthquake struck. A memo sent last week by the Cuban government to its embassies throughout the world noted that Cuban doctors were among the first to respond to the wounded, treating close to 2,000 patients and performing more than 100 emergency surgeries in the two days after the disaster.

"Cuba is willing to co-operate with all nations on the ground, including the United States, in order to assist the Haitian people and save lives," the memo said. Not everyone has been willing to shed their political grievances, however. Remarking on the deployment of nearly 12,000 US troops to Haiti, Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president and an ally of the Castros, accused the United States last week of "occupying Haiti undercover".

Such sentiments were echoed by other leftist leaders in the region, including the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, who said on Thursday that the United States "cannot use a natural disaster to militarily occupy Haiti". sstanek@thenational.ae


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Fiona Sampson

It’ll be summer in the city as car show tries to move with the times

If 2008 was the year that rocked Detroit, 2019 will be when Motor City gives its annual car extravaganza a revamp that aims to move with the times.

A major change is that this week's North American International Auto Show will be the last to be held in January, after which the event will switch to June.

The new date, organisers said, will allow exhibitors to move vehicles and activities outside the Cobo Center's halls and into other city venues, unencumbered by cold January weather, exemplified this week by snow and ice.

In a market in which trends can easily be outpaced beyond one event, the need to do so was probably exacerbated by the decision of Germany's big three carmakers – BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi – to skip the auto show this year.

The show has long allowed car enthusiasts to sit behind the wheel of the latest models at the start of the calendar year but a more fluid car market in an online world has made sales less seasonal.

Similarly, everyday technology seems to be catching up on those whose job it is to get behind microphones and try and tempt the visiting public into making a purchase.

Although sparkly announcers clasp iPads and outline the technical gadgetry hidden beneath bonnets, people's obsession with their own smartphones often appeared to offer a more tempting distraction.

“It's maddening,” said one such worker at Nissan's stand.

The absence of some pizzazz, as well as top marques, was also noted by patrons.

“It looks like there are a few less cars this year,” one annual attendee said of this year's exhibitors.

“I can't help but think it's easier to stay at home than to brave the snow and come here.”


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


1.45pm: Green Oasis Trading – Maiden (PA) Dh50,000 (Dirt) 1,400m
Winner: Meeqat, Saif Al Balushi (jockey), Khalifa Al Neyadi (trainer)
2.15pm: Al Shafar Investment – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,400m
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2.45pm: The Union 51 Cup – Handicap (TB) Dh84,000 (D) 1,400m
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4.15pm: Dubai Real Estate Centre – Handicap (TB) Dh76,000 (D) 1,600m
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4.45pm: Jebel Ali Racecourse – Handicap (TB) Dh84,000 (D) 1,950m
Winner: Rakeez, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar


Company name: Alaan
Started: 2021
Based: Dubai
Founders: Parthi Duraisamy and Karun Kurien
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: $7 million raised in total — $2.5 million in a seed round and $4.5 million in a pre-series A round

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

Cry Macho

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam


List of alleged parties
  • May 15 2020: Boris Johnson is said to have attended a Downing Street pizza party
  • 27 Nov 2020: PM gives speech at leaving do for his staff
  • Dec 10 2020: Staff party held by then-education secretary Gavin Williamson 
  • Dec 13 2020: Mr Johnson and his then-fiancee Carrie Symonds throw a flat party
  • Dec 14 2020: Shaun Bailey holds staff party at Conservative Party headquarters 
  • Dec 15 2020: PM takes part in a staff quiz
  • Dec 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party 
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Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

The Continental: From the World of John Wick

Created by: Greg Coolidge, Shawn Simmons, Kirk Ward
Stars: Mel Gibson, Colin Woodell, Mishel Prada
Rating: 3/5

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