Published on 16 February 2016 by Granma

tractor

Without even touching Cuba soil, tractors manufactured by the U.S. company Cleber LLC are already making their mark on international public opinion and relations between Washington and Havana.

This small company founded last year by a businessman of Cuban origin, Saul Berenthal, and Horace Clemmons, are looking to lead the way across the Straits of Florida, to set up shop in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM), Cuba’s most important investment site at this time.

Just recently, Cleber LLC, with headquarters in the state of Alabama, took a step forward, drawing closer to its objective.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), one of the entities which tightly controls U.S. trade with Cuba, awarded the company an unprecedented license to erect a manufacturing plant in the country, to produce up to 1,000 small-sized tractors annually.

Cleber had previously obtained a permit from the Commerce Department, which along with the Treasury are responsible for the implementing executive decisions made by President Obama to modify the application of the blockade, which remains in full force.

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Published on 18 February 2016 by Granma

obama cuba

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations Director General for the United States, Josefina Vidal, confirmed during a press conference in Havana this Thursday, February 18, that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, will visit Cuba March 21-22.

The president will be welcomed by the Cuban government and people with the hospitality that characterizes us, Vidal said.

“It will be an opportunity for President Obama to appreciate the Cuban reality and continue to discuss the possibilities of expanding bilateral dialogue and cooperation on issues of mutual interest to the two countries,” she added.

Vidal also noted that the visit marks a further step toward improvement in relations between Cuba and the United States.

The Foreign Ministry official stressed that the normalization of bilateral relations is dependent on the resolution of key outstanding issues, including the lifting of the blockade, and the return to Cuba of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base.

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Published on 25 January 2016 by Granma

trinidad and tobago

In the midst of the Caribbean, stand the “Twin Towers,” as the Eric Williams Financial Complex, located on Independence Square, Port of Spain, is known to locals.

There is no other building as tall as this in Trinidad and Tobago, nor the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, consisting of a pair of 22-story skyscrapers at a height of 302 feet (92m). Its construction, managed by architecture firm Anthony C. Lewis Partnership, started in 1979 and was completed in 1986. The first tower of the complex houses the country’s Central Bank, while the second is home to the Ministry of Finance.

The complex, also known as Eric Williams Plaza, was named after Eric Eustace Williams, first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and also a noted historian and founder of the People's National Movement (1955).

However, a few days on this island were enough to discover that “Sweet T&T”, as Trinidadians refer to their country, is a site of coincidences. Because there, in the northern central region of the island of Trinidad, which “floats” adjacent to the Orinoco Delta, stands another building with the same name, whose significance, at least in terms of life and death, is much more striking.

They say the omen is usually “bad” when one arrives at the emergency room of a hospital. Perhaps it seemed so for the young man – about whom Dr. Rodolfo Arozarena Fundora now talks – who probably did not realize that Cuban hands, along with others from this land, were working to reverse his bleak prognosis. This is just one of the many stories that the Cuban medical brigade, collaborating in the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, has to tell.

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Published on 26 January 2016 by Granma

marti

The ideas of José Martí are central to Cuba’s history and represent the embodiment of the nation’s identity. What is more, without Martí there would be no Fidel, because Fidel is a successor, a consequence, a fruit of the good tree named José Martí, stated outstanding Brazilian theologian, Frei Betto, speaking with Granma, January 25 during the inauguration of the Second International Conference

“With all, for the good of all.” During the event, held in the Havana Convention Center, Frei Betto, spoke about his symposium entitled ‘The role of ethics in development policies,’ stressing the importance of this issue for the island, currently working toward the normalization of relations with the United States, and updating of its economic model. 

Among others in attendance at the opening ceremony were Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first vice president of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, and a member of the Party Political Bureau; Armando Hart Dávalos, director of the Martí Program Office; José “Pepe” Mujica, former president of Uruguay; and Ernesto Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations 

Published on 7 January 2016 by Telesur English Part of Telesur's coverage of 15 years of Guantanamo Prison

gitmo torture2.jpg 1718483346

Seven years of indefinite detention and extrajudicial killings around the globe belie the president’s once-claimed intent to change the system he inherited.

Barack Obama, the new U.S. president, was keeping his promise: 48 hours into his presidency and there he was, signing an executive order that called for closing down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year

“This is me following through,” Obama said from the White House on January 22, 2009. It was his intent to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great,” and he was actually doing it, every ecstatic liberal posting the news on the Facebook wall of their skeptical leftist friend. The United States, the new young president declared, would “observe core standards of conduct not just when it’s easy but also when it’s hard.”

How refreshing it was, after two terms of waterboarding and the oratory torture of George W. Bush, to hear not just pretty words about American ideals that never were actually put into practice in a nation founded by human enslavement, but for those words to accompany in-real-life action. How disappointing, then, that the gratingly correct cynic was once more proven right: that even the seemingly tangible gestures -- ending the empire, no, but improving its public relations in a way that gave real, actual hope to a few hundred imprisoned men who lacked it -- proved to be little more than yet another photo op

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Published on 6 January 2016 by ACN

elam congo

As part of bilateral cooperation relations between Cuba and Congo, nearly 850 young people from that African nation will travel to the island to take medicine courses.

Congolese Health minister Francois Ibovi was at the Brazzaville airport of Maya Maya to see off the future medical doctors who will return home to serve their people, the Cuban Foreign Ministry informed on its webpage.

The minister, who was accompanied by Cuban ambassador Manuel Serrano, expressed his gratitude to The island for offering his people the professional training.

This will be the third group of Congolese students to take courses in Cuba, which joins another 1200 who are already studying medicine here.

Written by Salim Lamrani on 29 December 2015 - Translated by Rédacteur

wet-foot-dry-foot

Nearly 6,000 Cubans wishing to emigrate to the United States, are stuck in Costa Rica, without opportunity to continue their journey North. After reaching Ecuador, the only country in Latin America not to require visas to Cubans, they undertook a long journey across the continent to travel mainly to Miami. But their way stopped in Costa Rica. Indeed, the countries of Central America, Nicaragua, Mexico, refuse to let migrants, target of criminal networks, and require a policy response from Washington, primarily responsible for this situation [1].

 Indeed, Cubans who enter the United States illegally are welcomed with open arms, while illegal immigrants from other nations are immediately arrested and deported to the country of origin. This specificity is due to the historical commitment of the United States to use the migration issue as a weapon to undermine the Cuban Revolution [2].

In 1959, the United States expressed their hostility to the government of Fidel Castro. They opened their doors to the heirs of the former military regime of Fulgencio Batista, including the security forces involved in violent crimes. Washington also welcomed the country's economic elite and favored the departure of highly qualified personnel in order to destabilize its society.

The impact on Cuba was hard. Indeed, in such a vital sector as health, nearly half of Cuban doctors, i.e 3000 of them had responded to the US Sirens who promised them a better life. This episode has plunged the country into a serious health crisis. Other highly skilled professionals were also encouraged by US authorities to leave the island for more lucrative economic opportunities in Florida [3].

In its war against Cuba, Washington had decided to use the migration issue to destabilize the country. In 1966, Congress-passed Cuban Adjustment Act is unique in the world : it states that any Cuban who immigrated legally or illegally, peacefully or by force, on 1 st January 1959 or later automatically obtains permanent resident status after a year and a day, as well as various social benefits (housing, work, medical care, etc.) as well as the possibility of obtaining the U.S. citizenship after five years [4].

Now, that was a great tool for inciting illegal emigration. Since nearly 50 years, the richest country in the world has opened its doors to the population of a small poor country of the Third World, with limited resources and victim, in addition, to extremely severe economic sanctions. In this logic, the U.S. Embassy in Havana had to concede a visa for all applicants for emigration under this law. But that was not the case. Instead, Washington severely limited the number of visas granted to Cubans each year to stimulate the illegal and dangerous emigration and exploit crises for political purposes. Thus, visaless Cubans wishing to emigrate to the United States were compelled to put their lives on makeshift boats, hoping not to be intercepted by the Coast Guard, or make long journeys across the continent, at the mercy of the people smugglers and criminal gangs of all kinds.

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Published on 31 December 2015 by Granma

57 ye

'The history of our Revolution is full of glorious chapters in the face of challenges, risks and threats', the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, stated during his speech closing the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power, December 29.

The Cuban head of state noted that despite the economic crisis and the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4% this year, and will continue to grow in 2016, albeit at a slower pace.

He also noted that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country this year rose to 3.5 million; the highest number recorded to date; and reaffirmed the Cuban government’s intention to honor its commitments resulting from the agreements reached in the renegotiation of the island’s debt.

Regarding the issue of relations with the United States, President Raúl Castro stressed that Cuba has repeatedly advised the U.S. government that in order to normalize bilateral relations, the blockade must be lifted and the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base must be returned, “as I explained in my statement in the Council of Ministers on the 18th, during which I also reaffirmed that Cuba should not be asked to abandon its independence cause, or renounce the principles and ideals for which generations of Cubans have fought, for a century and a half.”

With just a few days to go, before the celebration of the anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, Esteban Lazo, president of the Cuban parliament, acknowledged the people’s contribution in efforts to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism. He highlighted the work of deputies and delegates in response to proposals, complaints and suggestions from the public.

Likewise, he reiterated that the right to independence, sovereignty and self-determination are essential to the defense of the Cuban people. He reaffirmed that “economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other state can never be negotiated in the presence of aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power.”

Marino Murillo, a member of the Party Political Bureau, a vice president of the Council of Ministers and minister of Economy and Planning, explained that Cuba's GDP grew by 4% this year, mainly due to the acquisition of cash advances, contracts to secure credit, as well as a downward trend in the price of imports.

He noted that all sectors have seen an increase with respect to 2014 and referred specifically to the sugar industry, which grew by 16.9%, construction by 11.9%, and manufacturing by 9.9%.

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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.

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