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Prince Charles becomes first British royal to visit Cuba

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Prince Charles and his wife Camilla landed in Havana on Sunday for the first official trip by the British royal family to Communist-run Cuba even as Britain’s top ally the United States seeks to isolate the island nation.

Shortly after arriving on a Royal Air Force plane, the heir to the British throne laid a wreath of flowers at the memorial to independence hero Jose Marti on Havana’s Revolution Square dominated by massive portraits of guerrilla fighters including Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

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During his three-day historic visit, which is part of a broader Caribbean tour, the 70-year old Prince of Wales is set to dine with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, tour Havana’s restored colonial district, visit community and green energy projects and review a parade of antique British cars.

The royal visit, in line with a broader normalization in relations between the West and Cuba, comes three years after one by former U.S. President Barack Obama then billed as the start of a new chapter for ties between the old Cold War foes

Since Donald Trump became U.S. president, however, the United States has reverted to its decades-old strategy of seeking to pressure Cuba to change, including tightening its crippling trade embargo on the island.

The Trump administration has ramped up that pressure over the crisis in Cuba’s socialist ally Venezuela.

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“It’s always good for Cuba to strengthen its relations with important international actors but all the more so when the United States has a president responding to the interests of extreme right-wing people who want to hurt Cuba,” said one Havana resident, Arian Rubio, 26, a historian.

William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, said such visits by high level delegations of major powers “lend legitimacy to the Cuban government and represent an implicit warning to the United States that hostile actions against Cuba may incur a diplomatic cost with important allies.”

The UK government had asked the royal couple to add Cuba to their Caribbean tour of former and current British territories in hopes of boosting commercial and cultural ties and political influence.

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British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year while only a handful of well-known British companies have investments there through subsidiaries, for example Imperial Brands Plc, British-American Tobacco Plc and Unilever.

Opportunities to do business, however, are expected to grow as the Caribbean’s largest island continues opening up its beleaguered, state-dominated economy. Those include opportunities in its expanding tourism sector, that already attracts some 200,000 British tourists annually.

Moreover Britain has sought to drum up more trade with alternative partners since a referendum to exit the European Union three years ago.

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Plans for high-level officials to accompany the Prince of Wales were scuttled by the political drama playing out in London over how best to leave the EU before a March 29 deadline.

Underscoring the thaw in British-Cuban relations, when Diaz-Canel receives Charles at the presidential Palace of the Revolution on Monday evening, it will be their second meeting in a year.

The 58-year old Cuban president paid the prince a visit last November in London on his first tour of several countries since replacing Raul Castro last April.

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Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Sandra Maler

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Russia and China blast US missile test

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Russia and China warned Tuesday that a new US missile test had heightened military tensions and risked sparking an arms race, weeks after Washington ripped up a Cold War-era weapons pact with Moscow.

The US and Russia ditched the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty this month after accusing each other of violating the accord.

Washington said the agreement also tied its hands in dealing with other powers such as China.

The US Department of Defense announced on Monday it had tested a type of ground-launched missile that was banned under the 1987 INF agreement, which limited the use of nuclear and conventional medium-range weapons.

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Leaked audio shows oil lobbyist bragging about success in criminalizing pipeline protests

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"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Derrick Morgan of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.

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Trump’s latest attempt to smear Scaramucci dunked in mockery

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At least one White House or campaign staffer apparently helped President Donald Trump attack his short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci -- and he was met with mockery.

The president tweeted out a supercut video late Monday of Scaramucci defending Trump before his recent public disavowal, and attacked his former staffer as a "dope" who's seeking fame.

Nobody ever heard of this dope until he met me. He only lasted 11 days! pic.twitter.com/RzX3zjXzga

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019

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