Daily Briefing – April 25, 2018

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Cuba Set to Attract 5 Million Tourists in 2018: Michel Bernal, commercial director of the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), said yesterday that Cuba would reach a record level of 5 million tourists this year, despite setbacks in the first quarter. Bernal reported that tourism was down 7 percent in the first three months of the year, a result of damage from Hurricane Irma and from U.S. travel restrictions implemented by the Trump administration. Last year, a record number of 4.7 million tourists visited Cuba, providing much needed revenue. (Xinhua)

Senate Vote Delayed for Cuba Concessions: The McClatchy news service’s Washington Bureau reports that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the final hold-out vote for last week’s approval of Jim Bridenstine as the new head of NASA, insisted on meeting with the Trump administration’s nominee for secretary of state first. The reason: to get concessions from state department director nominee Mike Pompeo on travel restrictions to Cuba. Flake, a long-time advocate for engagement with Cuba, believes Trump’s travel restrictions on Cuba are hurting the growth of the private sector there. (Miami Herald)

Cuba and the World Health Organization Sign Agreement: This week Cuba is hosting its third annual international health convention “Cuba Salud 2018,” an event that brings together health authorities from 80 nations and the World Health Organization (WHO). At this year’s event, which was opened by new president Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba signed an agreement with the WHO to promote international cooperation to advance healthcare coverage. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus called the Cuban healthcare system “an example for the world.” (telesur)

Vaccination Week in the Americas Launches in Cuba: The opening ceremony for Vaccination Week in the Americas took place in Havana this week, led by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This year’s goal is to vaccinate 70 million people against more than a dozen dangerous diseases. Carissa R. Etienne, director of PAHO, said Cuba was chosen at the launch site because of it was a “shining example” of commitment to universal coverage for vaccines, which it also produces and exports. (Pan American Health Organization)

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