Daily Briefing – July 9, 2018

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Castro Receives Personal Letter from Kim Jong-un: Former Cuban President Raul Castro, who remains head of the Cuban Communist Party, received a personal letter from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as part of the recent visit to Cuba by senior North Korean officials. Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), met with Castro late last week to discuss relations between the their two parties. Ri, who remains in Havana through today, also met with Cuba President Miguel Diáz-Canel on Saturday. Cuba is one of North Korea’s few global allies. (Yonhap News AgencyXinhua)

Private U.S. Citizen Claims ‘Sonic Attack’ Illness in China: The U.S. State Department reports that a private U.S. citizen in China has experienced health symptoms similar to those experienced by diplomatic staff there and in Cuba. At least one employee at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou was previously sent home after a similar health incident, which resembled the mysterious ‘sonic attacks’ in Havana that affected 25 officials and 19 private citizens. The U.S. blamed the unsolved health problems on Cuba, slashed its staff in Havana and expelled Cuban diplomats in Washington, DC. (Business Insider)

UK Fund Manager Will Run Cuba Fund: Aberdeen Standard Investments has announced that it will take over management of CEIBA Investments once it is listed on the Specialist Fund Segment of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). CEIBA, launched in 2001, has about $172 million invested in office buildings and hotels in Havana and the beach resort of Varadero. It will be the first Cuba project for Aberdeen, and will include raising $132 million for CEIBA on the LSE. (Reuters)

Medical Students Return to South Africa: Nearly 400 South African students who had been studying medicine in Cuba returned home this past weekend. These graduates will now spend 18 months in South African universities to complete their studies. There are currently 2,885 South African medical students studying in Cuba; nearly 700 have already completed the Cuban program. All are part of the SA-Cuba Health Cooperation Agreement stemming from meetings between Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro in the 1990s. (News 24)

A High Percentage of Cubans Now Overweight: More than 42 percent of Cuba’s population is now overweight, according to a national survey cited by the National Center for Minimal Access Surgery. Lilian Valdivia, an executive with the Center, reports that nearly 13 percent of Cuban children are now obese, based on bad nutrition. Valdivia cited the study, carried out by the Health Ministry this year, as a warning against preventable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. (Xinhua)

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