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Pictured: The amazing moment a diver swims alongside one of nature’s most lethal killing machines … an 11ft crocodile

By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE 
UPDATED: 10:45 EST, 28 January 2010

Just off the coast of Cuba, a diver displays nerves of steel as he swims alongside an 11ft, 1,000lb crocodile.

Risking his life for the potentially deadly experience, diver Israel Gonzalez, 31, got close enough to be tolerated for over two hours by one of nature’s most lethal killing machines.

Swimming in an area known as The Queen’s Gardens, the lone female crocodile was returning to her nest on one of the 50 or so tiny islands that make up the offshore paradise.

Around 60miles from the south coast of Cuba, Mr Gonzalez and underwater photographer David Doubilet matched the enormous crocodile for pace during their encounter.

'This crocodile exhibited very benign behaviour for such a notorious predator,' said Mr Doubilet.

'As a wildlife photography opportunity this was extremely exciting to capture not only the rare and overlooked American crocodile, but also to run the gauntlet with the animal.

'Honestly after the initial rush when we encountered the crocodile, our levels of fear dropped down quite considerably.'

Travelling to The Queen’s Gardens with a diving team, which also included local Cuban fishermen familiar with the area, the pair trawled the island chain for the elusive American crocodile.

'Most people don't know that there are crocodiles which live in the Americas,' explained Mr Doubilet.

'They assume that they live only in Egypt, in sub-Saharan Africa and Australia.

'However, there are around 1,500 American crocodiles living in Florida and the same number across Central America and South America.

'They are classed as a threatened species.'

Gliding alongside the croc, Mr Doubilet and Mr Gonzalez were aware that at any minute the situation could turn life threatening.

'Unfortunately we had no protection on us. No sticks, no harpoons, nothing that would have saved our lives had the crocodiles turned nasty,' said David.

'But we were not unduly worried. We were careful to know our limits and not to stress the creature.

'We were there to observe this rare occurrence.'

Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas

Cuba is sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials say.

Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organization says new cases in West Africa are increasing faster than the capacity to manage them.

More than 2,400 people have died from the virus in recent months and some 4,700 people have been infected.

The death toll remains highest in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 

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If Latin America had not been pillaged by the U.S. capital since its independence, millions of desperate workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of that wealth; and if the United States is today the world’s richest nation, it is in part because of the sweat and blood of the copper workers of Chile, the tin miners of Bolivia, the fruit pickers of Guatemala and Honduras, the cane cutters of Cuba, the oil workers of Venezuela and Mexico, the pharmaceutical workers of Puerto Rico, the ranch hands of Costa Rica and Argentina, the West Indians who died building the Panama Canal, and the Panamanians who maintained it.
—  Juan Gonzalez - Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

… There is not, and there has not been in the world, such a terrorizing and vile violation of human rights of an entire people than the blockade that the US government has been leading against Cuba for 55 years,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno told reporters.

The United Nations has passed the resolution [to end the embargo] for 22 straight years with overwhelming support. Last year the vote was 188 to 2, with only the United States and Israel voting against the resolution.

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