Photo taken during the last brigade to Cuba ‘Justice for the Cuban 5’ solidarity brigade – February 2012.
Click the link to see more photos and report.
Lift the blockade of Cuba!
The 13th solidarity brigade of the British campaign Rock around the Blockade will travel to Cuba between late April and early May 2015. The group is collecting funds now to buy material aid for Cuban youth – this time they will take ballet shoes and boxing gloves to training schools. While breaking the US blockade, the donation will contribute towards Cuba’s remarkable achievements in promoting and democratising sport and culture.
Hosted by the Union of Young Communists, the brigadistas will visit a variety of centres, institutions and organisations, meeting political and student leaders and doing agricultural work. They will visit maternity and old peoples’ homes, youth, neighbourhood and cultural groups and research institutes. They will learn about the daily impact of the US blockade, which prevents the Cuban government from buying medicine, food, technology, equipment and resources in every sector, and which has been condemned for 23 consecutive years by the UN General Assembly.
For 55 years, Cuba has maintained and increased its free social provision despite the impact of the US blockade. This presents a contrast with the austerity measures implemented by the British government which are attacking public services, jobs and benefits and causing a return to the poverty, inequality and destitution of the pre-welfare state era. Such differences are also seen in Cuba’s response to the Ebola epidemic. While most of the world tightens border controls and the United States sends 4,000 troops, Cuba is sending nearly 500 medics to West Africa to treat the sick and help stop the disease spreading. Cuba’s medical contribution is greater than the rest of the world’s put together – just as it was in response to the 2010 earthquake which devastated Haiti, when Cuba’s medical contingent treated 40% of the victims. The Cuban Ebola-trained specialists will join some 50,000 Cuban-trained health workers in nearly 70 countries today.
How can a small, blockaded island have such a global impact? Why are Cubans so prepared to assist others around the world? Is this a product of a socialist society? What is socialism like in practice? What about the changes underway in Cuba today?
Through this fraternal exchange, activists on the Cuba Vive brigade will study the achievements and challenges of the Cuban Revolution and socialist construction. What they learn will be discussed with people back in Britain through report back meetings to be organised around the country. They will also return with a strategy for strengthening the international campaign to demand freedom for the remaining 3 of the Cuban 5 who were unjustly imprisoned in the US for their role in combatting Miami-based terrorism.
Please contribute towards the Cuba Vive 2015 brigade.
Please donate generously via PayPal or by sending cheques or postal orders payable to:
Rock Around The Blockade at RATB BCM Box 5909, London, WC1N 3XX.
Published on 17 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Latin America is today experiencing new times which, after 10 years of work resulting in undeniable achievements, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) is facing the challenge of consolidating itself, stated the organization’s Executive Secretary Bernardo Álvarez.
The ALBA-TCP has the unique feature of brining together political forces which involved in a common project based on diversity, noted Álvarez in statements to Prensa Latina. “In addition it understands that there are other mechanisms of integration in the hemisphere which play an equally important role, such as the Union of Southern Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States,” he commented.
“We aspire to be a political consciousness for the left, for the world, for progress within new Latin American integration, with respect, but doing everything necessary so that the transformation and social agendas are part of debates in Latin American. This is where the challenge lies,” stated Álvarez, adding that, the challenge also consists of continuing to promote and support integration and, to be an expression of this transformative political vision in the heart of Latin America.
Published on 14 November by TeleSUR English
According to the Foreign Ministry, 136 projectiles were fired during the drills.
The Argentinian government issued Thursday a statement rejecting military exercises conducted by the United Kingdom (UK) in the Malvinas islands.
The HMS Iron Duke warship conducted a series of maneuvers which included shooting 136 projectiles.
The Argentinian government denounced the exercise as a violation of United Nations General Assembly resolution 31/49 which calls upon both Argentina and the UK to abstain from any actions that would alter the status-quo whilst still in negotiations.
The statement also considers the exercises a provocation against the South American country.
The Malvinas islands were occupied by the UK in 1833, and since are disputed with Argentina. The issue led to a war between both countries in 1982.
The UK responded later on Friday to Argentina's complaint, claiming the exercises are routine and should not be considered a provocation.
Published by TeleSUR
The Cuban state-owned pharmaceutical and chemical company Labiofam announced that it will construct a factory in Bolivia that would allow the country to fulfill 100 percent of its demand for basic medicine, which updated it’s list of essential medicines last month.
The plant is scheduled to be operational by 2020 and will provide pharmaceutical goods that will benefit both countries and in other countries across the Latin America region.
The two countries signed a cooperation agreement last May, which seeks to boost and incentivize local production of medicines across Latin America.
Currently, Bolivia imports 70 percent of the pharmaceuticals used in the country at an estimated cost of US$56.4 million dollars a year.
Labiofam director general Jose Antonio Fraga told Reuters that the project has the potential to significantly reduce prices and improve access for certain medicines, with positive outcomes for Bolivian healthcare system.
"This is basically for poor people because they can't afford the prices set by the trans-nationals,"Fraga said. "So these industries will be subsidized by the state or their products will be sold at a very small profit margin, just to sustain themselves, not to get rich."
The announcement coincides with a recent decision made by Bolivian President Evo Morales who stated that his government seeks to invest US$350 million in the local pharma industry in order to reduce dependence on international pharmaceutical imports.
Published on 10 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Argentine Dr. Augusto Sola, president of the Iberoamerican Neonatology Society emphasized the advances Cuba has made in this field, fundamentally with its genetic and prenatal programs, on November 7, during the closing session of the professional organization’s gathering in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers southeast of Havana.
Noted were progress in programs serving women of fertile age, the early detection of potentially difficult pregnancies and births, as well as the establishment of genetic centers – all of which has contributed to improving prenatal care and a reduction in painful births, Sola commented.
Dr Sola emphasized the importance of care for babies born weighing less than 1,500 grams, since worldwide a fourth of all neonatal deaths are attributed to low birth weight.
Specialists from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Cuba, participated in the event held at Dr. Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital.
Published on 10 November by Prensa Latina
For the fifth time in less than a month, The New York Times published a long editorial on Cuba, in which it listed the countless destabilizing efforts by the United States to overthrow the Cuban government.
In an article entitled "In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change", the Editorial Committee of the influential New York-based newspaper on Sunday reviewed Washington's countless plans against national stability in Cuba since the approval of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996 to date.
The New York Times notes that these subversive plans only served as the foundation for the US government to spend 264 million dollars over the past 18 years, in an effort to instigate alleged democratic reforms on the island.
Published on 8 November 2014 by TeleSUR English
The Cuban Government has announced that is seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Cuba's National Electric Development program aims to significantly increase the island's electricity production capacity. Cuba seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Achieving the target would allow the country to acquire nearly $780 million annual savings on imports from fossil fuels, which currently makes up 96% of Cuba's electricity source.
According to Energy Monitor Worldwide, if Cuba's power production grows 3 per cent annually, the per-Kilowatt cost will decrease from 21 cents at present to 18 cents by 2030.
The Caribbean nation’s current renewable energy output accounts for only 4.3 percent of its total electricity production but the government aims to boost investment by USD$3.5 billion over the next 15 years in order to develop the sector, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Friday.
During this week's 32nd Havana International Fair, the government presented 246 potential foreign investment projects to strengthen and modernize the island's renewable energy capacity, which would need foreign financing valued at around $9 billion.
Cuba's renewable power projects include the installation of solar and wind farms as well as small hydropower stations. In addition, the government aims to create bioelectric plants, which base their production on the incineration of marabou wood and sugar cane.
The Cuban President Raul Castro has shifted its focus away from offshore oil which government officials believe will increase the country's long-term energy independence.
and we republish below his initial blog post and a series of questions and answers about his new blog from a range of his followers:
'This post constitutes my presentation to the world of the blogosphere. To write it I’ve counted on the politeness of people who have preceded me on this field. Not all of them share the same views, but they all wish for a better Cuba and share an intellectual honesty which I respect. They are also together on the support for the Five. In this regard they represent millions of people both in Cuba and around the world.
I’ve wanted this questionnaire to answer to some of the questions from those millions of people. It is my aspiration that with the development of the blog some other answers are found, even for so many that don’t know about the case or that knowing it, for diverse reasons, are not today with the cause of the Five.
I sincerely believe in truth as a value. I believe that accessing it benefits everybody, even those who refuse to hear it. I trust that truth will find its way through this blog.
Published on 4 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
The New York Times has called on President Barack Obama to exchange Alan Gross, an employee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), imprisoned in Cuba for covert operations, for the three Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly incarcerated in the United States since 1998.
In an editorial published on November 2 entitled, “A Prisoner Swap With Cuba,” the newspaper acknowledged that Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen who is serving a 15 year sentence, was arrested in Havana as a result of an irresponsible strategy on the part ofthe U.S. government and that a solution must be found.
The editors of The New York Times believe that Washington and Havana should study the Gross case and that of the Cubans, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, in order to take the first steps towards normalizing relations between the twocountries.
"A prisoner exchange could pave the way toward re-establishing formal diplomatic ties, positioning the United States to encourage positive change in Cuba through expanded trade, travel opportunities and greater contact between Americans and Cubans," the newspaper highlighted.
Published on 2 November 2014 by AFP
Guinea authorities buried a Cuban man Saturday who died of malaria while working in the west African nation to help battle the killer Ebola virus. Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, 60, was an administrator with a team of Cuban medical personnel sent to west Africa in October to stem the spread of the virus.
He died of cerebral malaria on Sunday, the Guinean government and Cuban officials said. His funeral in the capital Conakry was attended by work colleagues and aid workers, as well as Cuban and Guinean officials, according to an AFP journalist at the ceremony.
"We will always remember him and we pray for the repose of his soul because he died on the soil of Cuba's friend, Guinea," government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said.
Published on 30 October 2014 by Granma Internacional
Given the possibility of adapting its methodology to the culture and needs of a country in which it is being applied, the ‘Yo, sí puedo’ (Yes, I can) program has been implemented in 30 countries, and taught more than 203,324 people across the globe to read, stated César Torres Batista, Sciences Phd. and director of the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institute (IPLAC).
Promoting the professional development and postgraduate training of Latin American and Caribbean educators; contributing to reducing illiteracy and offering lifelong learning to young people and adults; as well as facilitating exchanges between educators of the region in order to advance the development and consolidation of a Latin American pedagogical format based on the region’s shared realities, are all among program’s goals, which today, more clearly than ever, are being achieved.
Torres Batista commented that since the launch of the program in Venezuela on July 1, 2003, satisfactory results have been achieved.
“In the course of one year Venezuela has declared itself an illiteracy-free nation with more than 1 million Venezuelans learning to read through this method. In addition the program is now available in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Quechua, Aymara, Creole, Tetún, Zuahili and Guaraní, depending on where it is implemented,” he stated.
Based on the official election results Dilma Rousseff has won the Brazilian presidential Elections.
According to the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has won the Brazilian presidential elections with 51.45 percent of the vote compared to her political rival Aecio Neves who captured 48.55 percent, a difference of two million votes.
Voting began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. Voters also selected federal parliament and state governors.
More than 142 million Brazilians have voted in the country's presidential election, marking the end to a dramatic campaign.
Some 15,000 soldiers have been deployed in 280 cities across Brazil to provide security, down from the 30,000 troops deployed during the October 5 runoff election.
Rousseff won the first-round vote with 41.6 percent versus 33.6 percent for Neves, a difference of eight million votes. Neves was endorsed a week ago by Marina Silva, a popular environmentalist who placed third with 22 million votes.
As Brazil’s first female President, Rousseff was first elected in 2011. Born in 1947, she was raised in an middle-class household in Belo Horizonte.
In 1970 she was captured and imprisoned for three years where she subjected to torture, including electric shocks, for her role in the underground resistance against the Brazilian military dictatorship.
Under her first presidential term, Brazil's economy grew by an average of more than four percent each year, transitioning more than 30 million people out of poverty.
The incumbent focused her campaign message on expanding the social programs that reduced poverty and inequality in the country during her Workers' Party 12-year rule.
In addition, she has promised to continue to invest in infrastructure, particularly in connecting important economic zones to ports by rail. She has said that she would like to bring universal broadband Internet access to the country.
Meanwhile, the loosing candidate Aeicio Neves had vowed to cut back on government spending, and implement austerity if elected.
Published on 23 October by The Guardian
West Africa needs what Cuba has: a well-trained, coordinated healthcare system. Anything less and Ebola wins
Guatemala, Pakistan, Indonesia, Haiti. Four different nations that share a common experience: in the past decade, they were all struck by natural disasters which overwhelmed their under-staffed and under-funded public health systems. Into the rubble, flooding, and chaos of these distinct cultures and contexts, Cubadispatched a specialised disaster and epidemic control team to support local health providers. It was a story of unprecedented medical solidarity by a developing country which few media outlets picked up – until now.
The Henry Reeve Brigade, as it’s known, was established in 2005 by more than 1,500 Cuban health professionals trained in disaster medicine and infectious disease containment; built on 40 years of medical aid experience, the volunteer team was outfitted with essential medicines and equipment and prepared to deploy to US regions ravaged by Hurricane Katrina (the offer was rejected by the Bush administration). Today, Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade is the largest medical team on the ground in west Africa battling Ebola.
Published on 28 October 2014 by New York Times
A little-known former American ambassador on Tuesday addressed the General Assembly to perform a dreaded task: defending the issue that has isolated the United States diplomatically like no other, the Cuban embargo.
“This resolution only serves to distract from the real problems facing the Cuban people,” Ronald D. Godard admonished, before the United States voted against a non-binding resolution submitted yearly by Havana calling for a repeal of the sanctions Washington has imposed on the island for more than five decades.
Only Israel sided with the United States, although the Israelis were happy to forgo a turn at the podium to defend their position. Of the 193 members of the United Nations, 188 backed Cuba. The three abstentions — Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau — are not widely regarded as diplomatic heavyweights.
Following the triumph of Evo Morales in Bolivia's 12 October Presidential elections we republish data circulated by Centre for Economic and Policy Research on 8 October 2014
Below are ten graphs on economic and social developments since Evo Morales' election in 2005 that help explain the strong support for his re-election.
1. Economic Growth: Bolivia has grown much faster over the last 8 years under President Evo Morales than in any period over the past three-and-a-half decades.
Source: International Monetary Fund.
Published on 21 October 2014 by Venezuela Analysis
At the request of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, member countries of the ALBA trade bloc met yesterday at a special summit in Havana, Cuba to discuss methods of preventing the spread of the ebola virus in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Venezuelan government has donated US$5 million to the United Nations to fight the spread of the virus.
“I am of the conviction,” Cuban president Raul Castro said in his opening statement, “that if this threat is not stopped and resolved in West Africa, with an efficient international response backed by sufficient resources, coordinated by the World Health Organization of the United Nations, it could become one of the gravest pandemics in human history.”
First published on 20 October 2014 by New York Times
Cuba is an impoverished island that remains largely cut off from the world and lies about 4,500 miles from the West African nations where Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines of the pandemic, Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus.
Cuba’s contribution is doubtlessly meant at least in part to bolster its beleaguered international standing. Nonetheless, it should be lauded and emulated.
The global panic over Ebola has not brought forth an adequate response from the nations with the most to offer. While the United States and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.
Published on 17 October by Global Research
Our country did not take a single minute to give a response to the international agencies requesting its support to combat the brutal epidemic outbreak in Western Africa.
This is what our country has always done, without excluding anyone. The Cuban Government had already given the relevant instructions to urgently mobilize and reinforce the medical personnel that were offering their services in that region of the Africa continent. An equally fast response was given to the United Nations, as has always been the case in an event of a request for cooperation. Any sensible person would know that the political decisions that entail some risk for the highly qualified staff involve a high level of responsibility from those who call on them to fulfill a risky task. This is something far more difficult than sending soldiers to fight and even die for a just political cause; and they also did so because they always thought it was their duty.
The best example of solidarity that human beings can offer
The medical staff that is ready to go to any region to save lives, even at the risk of losing their own, is the best example of solidarity that human beings can offer, particularly if they are not moved by any material interest. Their closest relatives are also contributing to that mission a part of what they love and admire the most. A country seasoned by long years of struggle can fully understand what is being expressed here.
We all understand that in fulfilling this task with maximum preparation and efficiency, we would also be protecting our people and the brother peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, by avoiding the spread of the virus, since it unfortunately has entered and could further spread in the United States, a country with so many personal links and exchanges with the rest of the world. We will gladly cooperate with the US staff in this endeavor, not in the pursuit of peace between the two States which have been adversaries for so many years, but, in any case, for world peace, which is a goal that could and should be pursued.
The time of duty has come.
Fidel Castro Ruz
October 17, 2014 9:23 p.m.
Evo Morales, re-elected Sunday, gave a press conference at the Government Palace in La Paz, Bolivia.
President Evo Morales welcomed both local and international press Monday morning for a press conference to discuss his victory and the gains made by his party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS).
Morales declared that “We are very happy, it is not easy to be reelected with more than 60 percent, We have made history in Bolivia.” He signaled that the electoral results constitute a victory for the social movements in the country as well, adding, “It moves me to share this triumph with all of you, with the Bolivian people.”
Morales emphasized that this victory also carries symbolic weight, “[In Bolivia] we have changed, it is important to ratify that politics is about service for the people,” saying “Nationalization has won here and that our services are a human right.”
He called on the opposition, who suffered a large defeat to work with his government and to offer concrete proposals, explaining “Bolivia no longer wants confrontation, it is for that reason that we invite all sectors to work together with us.”
President Morales then opened the floor up to questions, where he analyzed his own personal trajectory to the Presidency. The final question came from a North American reporter who asked the President to respond to accusations that his government acts in authoritarian manner. Morales responded by asserting that his government has always worked hand-in-hand with social movements, putting forward proposals together. He criticized the governments of the past who “Never left the Government Palace” and who ruled, not by winning the confidence of the people, but rather through so-called mega coalitions.
Last night, when greeting his supporters, Morales dedicated his victory to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, saying “This victory of the Bolivian people is dedicated to all the peoples in Latin America and the world that struggle against capitalism and against imperialism.”
Elections were also held for the 130 seat Chamber of Deputies, where MAS won 117 of the seats — 13 more than before — results for the Senate elections were not immediately available but are expected to be consistent with the results in the lower chamber. With two thirds of the seats in the Congress, Morales and the MAS party will be free to implement their program and policies.
Published on 12 October by The Guardian
The island nation has sent hundreds of health workers to help control the deadly infection while richer countries worry about their security – instead of heeding UN warnings that vastly increased resources are urgently needed
As the official number of Ebola deaths in west Africa’s crisis topped 4,000 last week – experts say the actual figure is at least twice as high – the UN issued a stark call to arms. Even to simply slow down the rate of infection, the international humanitarian effort would have to increase massively, warned secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
“We need a 20-fold resource mobilisation,” he said. “We need at least a 20-fold surge in assistance – mobile laboratories, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, trained medical personnel, and medevac capacities.”
But big hitters such as China or Brazil, or former colonial powers such France and the UK, have not been stepping up to the plate. Instead, the single biggest medical force on the Ebola frontline has been a small island: Cuba.
That a nation of 11 million people, with a GDP of $6,051 per capita, is leading the effort says much of the international response. A brigade of 165 Cuban health workers arrived in Sierra Leone last week, the first batch of a total of 461. In sharp contrast, western governments have appeared more focused on stopping the epidemic at their borders than actually stemming it in west Africa. The international effort now struggling to keep ahead of the burgeoning cases might have nipped the outbreak in the bud had it come earlier.
Published on 10 October by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
Cuba was represented ant the “Defeating Ebola in Sierra Leone” held at Lancaster House in London and co-chaired by British Minister of Foreign Affairs Philip Hammond and International Development, Justine Greening.
The Foreign Secretary highlighted that the conference was summoned to urge the international community to take immediate action in facing the disease in Sierra Leone.
Cuba, in response to an invitation by the British government was represented by Cuban Health Vice-minister Marcia Cobas Ruiz.
The conference was attended by delegates from over twenty countries and international organizations including the United Nations, WHO as well as NGOs and private companies.
Cuba participated in the conference after responding to a call by the UN and WHO by sending 165 health care professionals which joined another 23 already in Sierra Leona, totalling 188 Cuban medical and nursing staff part of a Brigade of the International Contingent Henry Reeve of Doctors Specialized Tackling Disasters and Epidemics.