Cuba

  • Published on 23 June 2016 by Granma.

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    Remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, after the signing of agreements on a bilateral, final ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities, the laying down of arms, and guarantees of security in Colombia.

    There is no going back in this peace process, said Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz referring to the peace talks underway in Havana to end the armed conflict in Colombia, the continent's longest. He spoke during the signing ceremony (June 23) for the recent agreements reached by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP).

    After greeting the many heads of state and other dignitaries in attendance, he stated:

    "On November 19, 2012, the Table Talks between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army started to work in Havana.

  • Published 2 August 2017 by Granma

    Since the first graduation in 2005, to date, over 28,500 medical students from 103 countries have studied and graduated, completely free of charge, from ELAM

    The Latin American School of Medicine. Photo: Cubadebate

    One hundred and seventy medical students from the U.S. have graduated in Cuba, thanks to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), an initiative launched by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro.

    Speaking exclusively to the Cuban News Agency (ACN) Zenia Díaz Catalá, director of the ELAM project general secretariat, noted that since the first graduation in 2005, to date, over 28,500 medical students from 103 countries have studied and graduated, completely free of charge, from ELAM.

    Dr. David Floyd from the U.S. graduated from the school in 2017, and expressed his gratitude to the Cuban government, people, and teachers and workers affiliated with this noble project, which also stands as an example of how integration among communities from around the world can contribute to creating a more humane world.

    It’s been an incredible experience for me. I’m impressed by the link between theoretical and practical study, which is different from the U.S. system and that of other countries, noted the young doctor.

    In Cuba you learn by touching the patient, and solidarity is really important. In my country, students don’t help each other, here both the students and professors support one another and are extremely professional, stated Floyd, an African American man who studied on the island for six years, including pre-med courses.

    The young doctor completed his degree at the Salvador Allende Faculty of Havana’s University of Medical Sciences, which saw a total of 52 international students graduate this year - 25 from the United States, according to the institution's dean, Dr. Suiberto Echavarría, speaking with ACN.

    David Floyd senior, father of the recent medical graduate, expressed his joy, pride and eternal gratitude for the opportunity his son has been given to study medicine in Cuba, where the training system is centered on humanist ethics and principles.

    Meanwhile, Díaz Catalá noted that the ELAM program currently includes 4,690 students from 112 nations enrolled in 21 of the country’s medical sciences universities, 83 of whom are from the United States. (Excerpts from ACN)

  • Published on 1 December 2015 in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 248 

    ratb 20 years2

    In December 2015, Rock around the Blockade (RATB) celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first solidarity brigade to Cuba. RATB was set up by the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) in 1995 to support socialist Cuba. Active solidarity with Cuba has distinguished the RCG from the majority of the British ‘left’, enabling it to raise ‘socialism’ as a viable alternative to capitalism and imperialism and move beyond idealistic sloganeering, to introduce real questions of relations of production, power and democracy. After five years of austerity and with further savage cuts to benefits and public services on the way the need to present a socialist alternative is greater than ever. Helen Yaffe reports.

    The first RATB brigade travelled to Cuba with over 30 brigadistas in December 1995 in the midst of Cuba’s ‘Special Period’. The Special Period began in 1991 with the severe economic crisis following the disintegration of the socialist bloc and consequent collapse in Cuba’s foreign trade. By 1993 Cuba’s international trade and gross investment had fallen by 80% and GDP had plummeted by 35%. Cuba’s crisis was exacerbated by punitive US laws tightening the blockade. The result was critical scarcities of hydrocarbon energy resources, fertilisers, food imports, medicines, cement, equipment and other resources in every sector. Calorific intake decreased by nearly 40%, industries closed and unemployment rose.

    The impact of the economic crisis was obvious during the brigade. We stayed in a large agricultural camp in Ciego de Ávila in central Cuba. Conditions were austere. We got woken up at 5am with rock music blasted top volume over the dormitories to work in the banana plantation. On other days we visited schools, hospitals, cultural centres – all remarkable, but almost completely lacking resources. In one school we visited, the director showed us a writing book – the only one they had to supply all the children for the coming term. Our bus broke down frequently, petrol was scarce; spare parts did not exist and had to be invented. We shared the camp with 300 young people who had volunteered to labour on the land, determined that their Revolution would survive the crisis. Of course, many thousands of Cubans gave up: leaving the island or opting out of the collective. What is more interesting is understanding how and why the Revolution retained the commitment of the majority of Cuba’s population.

  • Published on 22/03/16 by teleSUR

    OBAMA 2

    Below we look at how the United States government has provided “assistance” in order to sow dissent within Cuban society.

    President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with U.S.-backed opposition organizations on Tuesday in Cuba as part of his visit to the island.          

    Leading up to his meeting, teleSUR takes a look at the historic ties between Cuban dissidents and the U.S. government.

    Despite the thawing of diplomatic relations, the U.S. government continues to provide financial “assistance” to individuals and groups dedicated to "regime change" in Cuba.

  • Published on 15 December 2015 by Granma

    special ed cuba

    In line with changes being applied to the national education system in Cuba, Special Education is undergoing an extensive improvement process, looking to perfect comprehensive education for students with special and learning needs, with a key focus on diversity, noted Dora Laborí Kindelán, a special education methodologist from the Ministry of Education (Mined).

    Educational support for students with varying needs and circumstances, the role of specialists and staff training programs, are all important aspects of this process.

    Experimental initiatives focused on areas such as support for pupils with severe learning disabilities and work with blind and visually impaired students, are currently being applied in six of the country’s provinces. The results of these experiments will later be extended throughout the rest of the country.

    “Today every school is designing its own institutional educational scheme, working on the basis of a more flexible and context specific curriculum,” the Mined methodologist stated.

    Another proposal is to restructure the assessment system and aim toward providing quality education in a school which must continually work to be more inclusive.One of the aims of the Special Education program during this stage of the improvement process is to have a learning agenda focused on the potential of every student. “The impact of the social and educational factor is far more important than any biological limitation the student may have,” Laborí Kindelán noted.

  • Published on 12 December 2017 by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

    On 8 November 2017, the United States government launched new sanctions against Cuba, releasing an updated list of Cuban entities – from hotels to agricultural suppliers and from soft drinks to retail stores – which US businesses and citizens are banned from engaging with. What do they have in common? The US Department of State list states that they are all ‘entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba’. Jack Lukacs reports.

    It is an untenable proposition to distinguish between civilians and the military in a revolutionary state under siege. By attempting to starve the Cuban government of revenue from travel, remittances and trade, these measures hurt all Cubans on the island. Trump appears to be dancing to the tune of his key electoral allies in Florida, Miami. Extreme right-wing Cuban-American Senators Marco Rubio and Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart are the architects of the ban on transactions with military-linked enterprises. But they are not easy to please. Following the publication of the State Department’s list, they complained that it was too short because US ‘bureaucrats’ were ‘refusing’ to carry out Trump’s policy.

  • Published on 18 August 2015 by Granma

    ELAM students

    Young Africans Yannick, Joëllevie, Lindokuhle, Thatonatsi, Darions and Abdoulaye, are grateful to Cuba for having welcomed them to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), which has graduated over 24,000 health professionals from 84 countries during its 16 years of existence.

    Yannick Alban Joseph, aged 24, from the Central African Republic, tells of the internal conflicts affecting his country, which prevented him from enrolling in a higher education institute on completing his pre-university level education, until his brother informed him of the scholarship to study in Cuba.

    “I study medicine because I know that the people lacking economic resources in my city, Bangui, are not treated in hospitals and when I graduate I will help all patients, not because they can contribute financially, but to fulfill my ethical duty to save lives.”

    Joëllevie Okombi, from Congo, comes from a family of six children. She always dreamt of being a doctor. “I like to see people happy and healthy. When I see someone suffering from an illness it really hurts me, doctors are professionals who help human beings.”

    “The main obstacle,” Okombi adds, “has been the language. I speak French, but on arrival we began a Spanish course, today I have a good command of it and I have done well in my courses. The most satisfying area has been the visits to family doctor surgeries. They gave me the opportunity to relate to Cubans in the community, to discover what their everyday problems are. I would like to devote myself to family and community medicine.”

  • Published 19 June 2017 by Granma

    June 16, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech replete with hostile rhetoric which recalled the era of open confrontation with our country, announced in a Miami theater his administration's policy toward Cuba which reverses advances made these last two years, after December 17, 2014, when Presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama made public the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations and initiate a process toward normalization of bilateral ties.

    In what constitutes a setback in relations between the two countries, Trump delivered a speech and during the same event signed a policy directive entitled, " National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening U.S. Policy toward Cuba," mandating the elimination of educational "people-to-people" exchanges undertaken by individuals, and greater control of U.S. travelers to Cuba, as well as the prohibition of economic, commercial, or financial transactions on the part of U.S. companies with Cuban enterprises linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces, intelligence or security services - all of this with the intentional objective of denying us income. The U.S. President justified this policy with alleged concerns about the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously enforce blockade laws, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvement in bilateral relations, on our country making changes elemental to our constitutional order.

    Trump likewise vacated the Presidential Policy Directive, "Normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba," issued by President Obama on October 14, 2016, which, although it did not attempt to hide the interventionist character of U.S. policy or the objective of advancing its interest in changes in our country's economic, political and social order, the directive recognized Cuba's independence, sovereignty, and self-determination, and the Cuban government as a legitimate, equal interlocutor, as well as the benefits that both countries and people could gain in a relationship of civilized coexistence, within the context of the great differences which exist between our two governments. It also recognized that the blockade was an obsolete policy that should be eliminated.

    Once again, the U.S. government resorts to the coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to tighten the blockade, in effect since February of 1962, which not only causes harm and depravation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to our economy's development, but also impacts the sovereignty and interests of other countries, generating international condemnation.

    The measures announced create additional obstacles to already restricted opportunities available to U.S. businesses to trade with and invest in Cuba.

  • Cuba undersea cables

    ‘The internet appears to have been made for revolutionaries’ – Fidel Castro

    By Will Harney and Conan Underhill | FRFI

    Far from seeing the internet as a danger to be controlled or censored, the Cuban government recognises its potential for empowering oppressed peoples in the revolution against global capitalism (Granma 16 February 2018). The new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel urged in his maiden speech to the National Assembly of People’s Power on 19 April that Cubans must be ‘more creative with spreading our truths’ and start using new technologies to publicise life in socialist Cuba, to counter the lies and misinformation spread by their enemies. This is why development of Cuba’s internet infrastructure has continued apace despite its primary obstacle: the US-imposed economic blockade of Cuba. Meanwhile, US President Trump has ordered the creation of a task force to explore the potential of using the internet to undermine the Cuban revolution. Will Harney and Conan Underhill report.

    Expanding internet access

    Cuba is prevented from accessing most of the undersea fibre-optic cables which skirt the island, due to the US blockade which prohibits the majority of service providers, based in the US, from connecting to the island (FRFI 218) – with the exception of the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, connected to Florida by the GTMO-1 cable since 2015. Internet usage has therefore always been expensive in Cuba and has been rationed to provide vital service to medical, research and educational institutions. In 2008, Venezuela launched the Venesat-1 (or ‘Simon Bolivar’) Satellite from a rocket base in China to provide internet, television and telephone connectivity to Latin America, to the benefit of countries which had been forced to depend on US infrastructure. This enabled greater internet access in Cuba but connection via the satellite remained slow compared to a cabled network. Then in 2013 the 1,860km ALBA-1 fibre-optic cable was constructed between Venezuela and Cuba. Public Wi-Fi hotspots have multiplied to more than 500 in the years since.

  • Published on 13 June 2016 by teleSUR

    guantanamo

    Without an executive order, it is left to a Republican Congress to close the military prison.

    U.S. President Barack Obama has been talking about closing the military-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba since before he ran for president in 2008, but despite years of promises he's now saying he won't use his power as commander-in-chief to unilaterally shutter the detention center.

  • Published 31 July 2017 by Granma

    THE British Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) has launched a campaign to overturn a ban on applications from Cuban students by one of the biggest educational institutions in the UK.

    The Open University (OU) has been exposed for operating a policy of barring applications from Cuban students, due to U.S. blockade laws against Cuba.

    The Open University says it is operating a “restricted countries” list in its admissions process because it fears it may be fined by the United States Treasury Department if it breaks U.S. blockade laws and allows Cuban students to study there.

    open university

  • paypal us blockade of cubaRock Around the Blockade (RATB) is a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group in solidarity with socialist Cuba, which uses its example as part of the struggle for socialism and against imperialism here in Britain and worldwide. This month RATB celebrates its 20th anniversary.

    The US blockade has cost the Cuban economy an estimated $1.126 trillion since 1961. For 23 consecutive years the UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the blockade, with 191 out of 193 nations voting against it this year. On 11 September this year, in contradiction to hypocritical US rhetoric about 'normalising relations', President Obama signed a document to extend Cuba's designation as an 'enemy' under the 'Trading with the Enemy Act' for another year.

    RATB uses PayPal to process payments and donations via our website,www.ratb.org.uk The funds raised from merchandise sold go towards our activities in Britain. RATB organises political and educational discussions, film showings, street rallies and cultural celebrations, about Cuban socialism.

    Without warning or communication, PayPal has blocked our account, for the second time in two years.

  • Published on 22 April by Cuba Solidarity Campaign

    coop bank

    In November 2015 the Co-operative Bank closed the bank account of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) citing changing “risk appetite” and “global regulations” among the reasons.

    Now following a huge campaign by CSC members and affiliates Niall Booker, the bank’s Chief Executive, has finally confirmed in writing that the closure was due to ‘risk’ arising from sanctions imposed by the US government.

    In response to direct questions from concerned members, Mr Booker said “it is correct that the sanctions that are in place are those imposed by OFAC.”

    US blockade policies against Cuba are enforced by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). By adhering to US sanctions the Co-operative Bank is complying with US extraterritorial legislation.

    This is in itself illegal under British and EU law.

    When similar events occurred in Austria and Mexico, those countries acted to penalise the companies for acquiescing to US blockade sanctions legislation over and above their own county’s sovereign laws.

  • Published on March 15 2016 by Granma.

    cuban technology expo On the morning of Monday, March 14, the 16th International Computer Sciences Convention & Fair 2016 opened its doors in Havana’s Pabexpo exposition center where - through March 18 - exhibitors will present products and projects across 73 stands; 34 affiliated with Cuban entities and 39 foreign companies.

    Grisel Reyes León, executive secretary of the fair, which this year has the central theme of “Connecting Societies”, noted that the event is a demonstration of Cuba’s desire to occupy an important role within the field of communications, and is undoubtedly a space for interaction and professional exchanges, where Cuban and foreign entities can present their newest products.

    Participating in the event – featuring 300 exhibitors – was Mal­com John­son, deputy secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union; Maimir Me­sa Ramos, minister of Communications of Cuba; Rashid R. Ismailov and Dmitry M. Alkha­zov, deputy ministers of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation; as well as other foreign and national sector representatives.

  • Published on 11 November by Cuba Solidarity Campaign

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    A historic ruling by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday 10 November has opened the door for René González to visit Britain, despite twice being denied a visa by the British government in 2014.

    René González is one of the five Cuban nationals who served long sentences in the US for attempting to prevent terrorist attacks by infiltrating Florida based groups responsible for violent actions against Cuba. International human rights organisations, politicians, religious groups and campaigners have expressed serious concerns about the convictions and the fairness of the trial. René was freed in 2011 after completing his 15 year sentence, and the remaining members of the Five were released on 17 December 2014 as part of rapprochement talks between the Cuba and the US.

  • Broadcast on 17 April 2017 on BBC Radio 4 

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    Lung cancer is America's biggest cancer killer. But there is hope: the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has sanctioned trials of CimaVax - a treatment created in Cuba that has extended the lives of hundreds of patients on the island. This is the first time a Cuban drug has been tested in the US.

    American cancer patients got wind of CimaVax five years ago. Patients like Judy Ingels - an American with a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis - arrive regularly in Havana, hoping for a miracle. It's traffic that's increased since the US / Cuba thaw.

    The creation of Cuba's biotech industry was Fidel Castro's idea back in the 1980s. Today it employs 22,000 people, and sells drugs all over the world - excluding the US. When Presidents Obama and Castro made their momentous move to end hostilities, doctors and patients on both sides of the Florida Straits hoped everyone might benefit from an exchange of life-saving treatments. Now there's deep anxiety. Will President Trump re-freeze the thaw, and jeopardise a revolutionary collaboration?

    For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly explores Cuba's bio-tech industry. How has this small Caribbean nation been able to develop world-class drugs with its limited resources?

    Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here

     

  • Published on 8 March 2016 by Granma

    cuba and the EU

    According to Christian Leffler, head of the Department for Relations with North and South America in the European External Action Service (EEAS), "once a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement has been reached between Cuba and the European Union (EU), there would be no sense in maintaining the regional bloc’s Common Position adopted in 1996."

    During a press conference following the seventh round of conversations between the two parties, the representative heading the European delegation reported that trade and commercial cooperation were addressed during this most recent session, while the issue of political dialogue and sector policies were also discussed in depth.

    He noted that the talks took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere, reflecting the willingness of both Brussels and Havana to make significant progress towards reaching a final agreement. Leffler also highlighted that the agreement will help to promote dialogue and cooperation as well as strengthen relations between both parties over the coming years.

  • Published on 11 September 2015 by Cuban News Agency

    cuba eu

    Cuban and European diplomats announced important advancements, particularly in the chapter of trade, during the fifth round of negotiations towards a bilateral accord for political and cooperation dialog, held this week in Havana.

    The two sides said they are getting closer to reach understanding practically in all issues related to the chapter on commerce and they announced a next round of talks in November to deepen discussion on political issues and consider the first part of the accord and final considerations.

    Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno stressed the advancement about cooperation and added that they opened an detailed analysis on political dialog after having identified main issues to discuss, such as the fight on discrimination, human rights, traffic of light and small weapons.

    Meanwhile, the executive director for The Americas at the European External Action Service, Christian Leffler, said that the talks were aimed at consolidating documents related to cooperation, trade and economic exchange.

  • Published on 5 April 2016 by Granma.

    bario argento

    CARACAS.—Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro approved funding of over $1.4 billion dollars this Monday, April 4, to strengthen the 2016 Cooperation Plan signed with Cuba in health, education, culture and sports.

    The head of state signed the document during a meeting of the Cuba-Venezuela High Level Joint Commission, held at the Miraflores Palace, reported Prensa Latina.

    Maduro highlighted the efforts made by his government to ensure a truly socialist healthcare system. “The right wing media devote themselves to silencing what is being done for the benefit of Venezuelans,” he stated.

    The Venezuelan leader also approved the Cuba-Venezuela binational plan to strengthen the Misión Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood Mission) health care program.

    He noted total investment of $1.428 billion dollars, as well as 6.954 billion bolivars in the case of health, which will be used to strengthen and expand the medical assistance provided through the Misión Barrio Adentro.

  • Published on 18 March 2016 by teleSUR.

    maduro in cuba

    Cuba has awarded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro one of the Caribbean country’s highest honors, the Maximum National Order.

    "Jose Marti was the biggest Bolivariano of the 19th century, a loyal interpreter of the genuine spirit of the Liberator."          

    Maduro was in Cuba on Friday to accept the award, named after Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti.

    “Our union comes from love, brotherhood, identity, from two peoples with heroic histories,” Maduro said on receiving the award. This award is truly for the heroic people of Venezuela, who have battled, and who do not give in.”

    Cuba and Venezuela have a long history of solidarity, with joint projects like Miracle Mission, to cure blindness, and Mission Barrio Adentro, bringing thousands of Cuban doctors to Venezuela.

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