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Cuba cancels May Day parade because of fuel shortages

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Cuba’s communist government has cancelled Monday’s traditional May Day parade because of acute fuel shortages.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people are bussed in from across the island to fill Havana’s Revolution Square on International Workers’ Day.

It is the first time since the 1959 revolution that the celebrations have been cancelled for economic reasons.

In recent weeks long queues have formed at petrol stations, with drivers often waiting for days.

Earlier this month, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Cuba was only receiving two-thirds of the fuel it needs, adding that suppliers were failing to fulfil contractual obligations.

While Cuba has access to low-grade crude, the US-sanctioned island lacks the facilities to process it.

Deliveries of higher quality crude from Venezuela, Cuba’s largest provider of fuel, have dropped by 50% in recent years.

Analysts say Venezuela is experiencing severe problems itself and finds it increasingly difficult to subsidise its socialist ally.

The shortages have added to daily pressures faced by Cubans. According to Spain’s El Pais newspaper, a typical monthly salary is $150-200 (£120-160), while a litre of cooking oil costs $30.

The government insists that its state-driven socialist model is best for the country and blames the problems on longstanding US sanctions.

Cuban authorities have traditionally mobilised huge resources to ensure the success of the May Day parade, transporting workers en masse to Havana.

Before this year, the event had only ever been cancelled in 2020 and 2021, because of the Covid pandemic.

Local events are expected to go ahead instead, with people marching on foot.

Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, the head of the Workers’ Cuba’s main trade union said on Tuesday such acts would highlight “the obstacles to the development programmes due to the ironclad economic blockade”.

(BBC News)

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Turkish President elected for a 3rd term

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters celebrated well into the night after Turkey’s long-time president secured another five years in power.

“The entire nation of 85 million won,” he told cheering crowds outside his enormous palace on the edge of Ankara.

But his call for unity sounded hollow as he ridiculed his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu – and took aim at a jailed Kurdish leader and pro-LGBT policies.

The opposition leader did not explicitly concede victory.

Complaining of “the most unfair election in recent years”, Mr Kilicdaroglu said the president’s political party had mobilised all the means of the state against him.

President Erdogan ended with just over 52% of the vote based on near-complete unofficial results – almost half the electorate in this deeply polarised country did not back his authoritarian vision of Turkey.

Ultimately Mr Kilicdaroglu was no match for the well-drilled Erdogan campaign, even if he took the president to a run-off second round for the first time since the post was made directly elected in 2014.

But he barely dented his rival’s first-round lead, falling more than two million votes behind.

(BBC News)

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China’s self-developed large passenger aircraft, completes maiden flight

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China’s first domestically-manufactured passenger jet – C919 has successfully completed its maiden commercial flight today (28).

State TV showed the C919 rising into the skies above Shanghai, heading to the capital Beijing early on Sunday.

It was built by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (Comac) in the hope of breaking the dominance of Airbus and Boeing’s single-aisle jets.

But the 164-seater still relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics.

The Shanghai-Beijing leg of the journey, with more than 130 passengers on board, was completed in just under three hours.

(BBC News)

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New Indian Parliament inaugurated amid Opposition boycott

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is inaugurating India’s new parliament building amid a boycott of the ceremony by 20 opposition parties.

The opposition has criticised the government for not asking the president to open the new building.

They also denounced the decision to hold the event on the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called the boycott a “disrespect of democracy”.

The new parliament building is part of the government’s ambitious project to develop the Central Vista power corridor in capital Delhi.

On Sunday, Mr Modi will also unveil a new 75-rupee coin to commemorate the event and serve as a tribute to 75 years of India’s independence.

Built in front of the colonial-era parliament, the new four-storey building – built at an estimated cost of 9.7bn rupees ($117.1m, £94.2m) – has increased seating capacity.

The Lok Sabha chamber, which will seat the lower house of the parliament, is designed in the likeness of a peacock, India’s national bird. The Rajya Sabha chamber, which will seat the lower house, is designed resemble the lotus, India’s national flower.

Last week, 20 parties – including the main opposition Congress – had announced their “collective decision” to boycott the inauguration ceremony.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi said that the building should have been inaugurated by President Draupadi Murmu, the parliament’s highest constitutional authority.

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh also criticised the government’s decision to hold the event “on the birth anniversary of the man [Savarkar] who opposed Mahatma Gandhi vehemently all his life”.

(BBC News)

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