Cubans ‘Should Be Free to Travel’

MADRID ~ The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro said in an interview published in a Spanish newspaper at the weekend that Cubans should be free to leave the country as they wish.

Cubans have to seek advance authorization to travel abroad and the communist authorities in Havana prevented Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez from travelling to Madrid last week to receive a top journalism prize from Spain’s El Pais daily.

“It is not necessary to deprive people of their right to leave. I think we should grant permission to all those who want to leave,” Mariela Castro said in reply to a question about the desire for Cubans to be allowed to travel freely, in an interview with La Vanguardia.

China Trains Mountain Guides

SIGUNIANG MOUNTAINS ~ As mountain climbing booms in China, the first group of guides trained by an expert Frenchman will soon graduate – part of a government drive to boost safety standards.

The scenic peaks in the north and west of the country, once home to Taoist mystics, were declared off-limits to the public in 1949 as the new communist government set up strategic military outposts across the rugged landscape.

Today, as China’s rapidly expanding economy leads to a higher standard of living and the development of a market for outdoor leisure activities, the mountains are teeming with climbers – but many of them are inexperienced.

Nepal Unveils Mt Everest Day

KATHMANDU ~ Nepal has decided that May 29 – the day the world’s highest peak was first conquered in 1953 – will be marked as International Mount Everest Day, tourism officials said.

“The government has decided to commemorate the historic first ascent. This year will be the first time we celebrate the event and pay tributes to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay,” said Tourism Ministry spokesman Prem Rai.

New Zealander Hillary died in January at the age of 88, prompting worldwide praise for the man seen by many members of Nepal’s Sherpa community as a second father for the development work his foundation undertook in the Everest region.

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