HAVANA – For the first time since the 1970s new trains were put at the service of the population of Cuba.
The country’s authorities hope to develop a large-scale program for the renewal of the island’s rail system, with the help of Russia and China, over the next ten years.
In May 2019, Havana received 80 new wagons manufactured in China that already serve the population. Another 80 wagons will be landed on the island next year, Cubadebate reports. The new wagons are divided into first class, which has air conditioning system installed, and second class.
In addition, Cuba has signed an agreement with Russia to modernize its railroads worth almost $1 million, although transaction details have yet to be revealed.
In 2017, Russian state-owned RZD revealed to Reuters that it was also negotiating the installation of a high-speed rail link between Havana and the Varadero resort.
“This is the first step towards the transformation of the Cuban rail system,” said Eduardo Hernández, head of the National Railway Company of Cuba.
In 2018, Cuban trains carried 6.1 million passengers. The Cuban government intends to completely modernize the rail system by 2030.
The Cuban railway system is one of the oldest in the world. Its first section was launched in the 1830s, so it also had the first train in Latin America. However, the system suffers from the lack of maintenance and lack of modern equipment due to the restrictions of the United States trade embargo.
The United States contributes to increased confrontation in South America, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a news conference in May.
“What we see now in Washington’s actions vis-à-vis Venezuela completely ignores the will of the Latin American and Caribbean countries themselves, because the US administration does everything to make ideological differences between different governments turn into confrontations political and even military confrontations,” Lavrov told a news conference.
After meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Lavrov reported that the two ministers addressed the situation in Venezuela and the US attempts to reform the region in accordance with the Monroe Doctrine.
“We have discussed a wide range of bilateral and international issues, as well as the processes for building integration in Latin America and the Caribbean, including in the context of the situation in Venezuela,” said the Russian minister.
“The experience of Cuba proves the failure of coercive politics in international relations and the unfeasibility of using pressure,” Lavrov said.
“We share with our Cuban friends the same conviction of the inadmissibility of illegitimate pressure with the use of sanctions and reiterate the complete rejection of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba. We will continue to firmly support the just of Havana for the immediate end of this blockade, “added the Russian minister.
In January of this year, the Venezuelan political crisis worsened due to the self-proclamation as interim president of Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition and of the National Assembly of Venezuela. Several foreign countries have taken different positions regarding support to Guaido or Maduro.
Among the countries that recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela are Russia, China and Cuba. Those who support Guaidó include mainly US allies in Europe and South American countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Chile.