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Raúl Castro (4th from left) took a back seat to his heir apparent, Vice-President Diaz-Canel (2nd from left), who carried the weight of the ceremony. (EFE / Alejandro Ernesto)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 October 2017 – A sober ceremony this Sunday was the official tribute for the 50th anniversary of the death of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Cuban first vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez deliver the main speech in the city of Santa Clara and called the information about the acoustic attacks suffered by US diplomats in Cuba “extraordinary humbug.”

“Some spokespeople and the media lend themselves to offering extraordinary humbug without any evidence in order to discredit the impeccable performance of our country,” he said. Díaz-Canel stressed the island’s status as “a safe destination for foreign visitors, including Americans.”

However, he avoided referring directly to the recent warning from the United States government to its citizens, where it recommends not staying in the Hotel Nacional and the Hotel Capri in Havana, both scenes of some of the attacks suffered by US diplomatic staff.

The warning from Washington goes straight to the heart of one of the most important economic activities for the island, which last year surpassed 4 million visitors for the first time. The State Department announcements along with damages caused by Hurricane Irma threaten the forecast of 4.7 million tourists projected for 2017.

Díaz-Canel, Raúl Castro’s apparent dauphin to succeed him to the presidency of the country in February of next year, took the opportunity to reiterate the island’s unconditional solidarity with the government of Nicolás Maduro and with the “Bolivarian and Chavista” people of Venezuela and highlighted the qualities of Ernesto Guevara, whom he described as “exceptional revolutionary.”

The vice president spoke in his address about “the difficult times” of the present and pointed out that “there is a recurrent resort to destabilization and policies of ‘regime change’ against legitimately constituted governments.”

Díaz-Canel said that losses of the Latin American left in recent years is “an evident expression” of the “neo-liberal capitalist colonization plans.”

Raul Castro attended the event after a long absence from appearing in public. The fact that, to date, he has not visited the areas affected by Hurricane Irma had sparked strong speculation about his health.

Castro, dressed in military uniform, remained in the front row of the audience and deposited a white rose over the niche placed in Che Guevara Plaza 20 years ago where lie, according to the official version, the remains of the guerrilla and several of his Cuban colleagues.

The mausoleum, inaugurated in October 1997, was restored this year and has become a place of pilgrimage for leftist militants and a regular destination on the tourist routes in the center of the island. So far it has been visited by 4.7 million people.


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