As media once again focuses on Cuba's economic developments in the wake of the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the US, we republish this 2014 article from Steve Ludlum. Published on 24 November 2014 by Morning Star
Much of the recent media commentary on Cuba’s economic reforms highlights the growing private sector, implying a transition to capitalism.
This ignores Cuba’s dominant state sector, its planning system and the role of private enterprise in socialist transition. For socialists, the defining innovation of capitalism is not private property but systematic exploitation of “free” wage labour.
The reforms give management more autonomy and diversify the world of work. So what about the workers and their unions? What is in the 2014 Labour Code and other recent legislation, and what about salaries and job security?
Published on 24 September 2015 by TeleSUR
Cristina Escobar speaks with statesman, diplomat and former National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada. Our guest doesn’t fear domination because the U.S. has finally hoisted its flag on Cuban soil, as every other country in the world has done. Cuba, he says, will continue to be a small independent nation next to a big country that poses a threat to humanity. One challenge is to strengthen democracy. How? By continuing to uphold a system of social and economic justice and equality in which the voters control the elected officials --in which the people aren’t spectators, but protagonists.
Published on 11 September 2015 by Cuban News Agency
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 4 September 2015 by Cuban News Agency
The demand abroad of Cuban professors of different subjects relevant to technical education has increased this year, thus bringing financial benefits to the island´s Education system.
Technical Education director Eugenio Gonzalez said that the number of countries requiring Cuban services continue to increase, with requests of professors in areas such as electricity, mechanics, agronomy, math, physics, civil construction and others.
During 2014, these academic services translated for the Cuban Education Ministry into an income calculated at 15.4 million dollars, while that figure is expected to reach 17 million dollars this year.
The directive recalled that following the latest Cuban Pedagogy Congress last February there was a diversification of subjects requested by different countries, whose requests went from methodological assistance to direct instruction services.
Some of these requests come from Central American countries, but most of them are issued by Caribbean and African nations, said the official who regretted that at times they are not able to cope with all the demands due to the language barrier.
He insisted that in order to attend to those needs, Cuban professors must particularly learn English, French or Portuguese as their mastery of these languages is later evaluated by expert commissions in the client countries.
Published on 4 September 2015 by Cuban News Agency
The average monthly salary in Cuba reported a significant 24-percent increase in 2014 with respect to the previous years, particularly for sugar workers, according to an article published on Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
While the general monthly average salary grew to 584 pesos (some 24,3 US dollars at current exchange), compared to 471 pesos (some 19,6 dollars) in 2013, the sugar sector reported an average 963 pesos (some 40.1 dollars) a month.
This salary raise was particularly due to the increase in the health sector, which employs over 400 thousand workers, as well as in some sports areas and in the foreign investment sector, meaning workers employed by companies operating with foreign capital, as part of a policy to gradually raise the salaries of state workers, the article explains and cites the National Statistics Office data on its Employment and Salary chapter.
Published on 31 August 2015 by Granma
A 16-strong Cuban medical brigade including doctors, nurses and epidemiologists, together with three construction engineers and two electrical engineers, left for the Commonwealth of Dominica this Monday, where they will join the efforts to assist the victims of Tropical Storm Erika.
Shortly after 7.00 a.m., the Aero Caribbean ATR 72 aircraft took off from the Jose Martí International Airport in Havana, carrying 1.2 tons of medicines, supplies and disposable materials for assistive care, together with the personnel.
Dr. Norberto Ramos, leading the brigade, stated that the team who will attend to the population in disaster areas following the onslaught of the tropical storm had been put together in just 12 hours.
He noted that among those leaving for Dominica are specialists who traveled to West Africa earlier this year to combat Ebola, as well as the earthquakes in Chile and Nepal.
Published on 23 August by Jamaica Observer
A senior Cuban biochemist attached to Cuba's largest biotechnology institute has reached out to Jamaica in an effort to save the struggling country millions of dollars and simultaneously improve health care for its people.
Leading Cuban biochemist, Dr Manuel Raices Perez-Castaneda, Business Development Executive at Cuba's Center for Generic Engineering and Biotechnology, said that Jamaica was so near, yet appeared to be far away from engaging Cuba in ways that it can improve health care to hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who suffer from various ailments.
"For a long time we have had cooperation in health care with Jamaica, and even now we have a permanent medical brigade in your country," Perez-Castaneda told the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview at his organisation's offices here.
"But cooperation could be better between us. The first thing is for Jamaica, it will be a win-win situation, and personally, I get the feeling that this message is not clear.
"When you are talking about introducing knowledgeable therapists who are not in Jamaica, could be sent there, one of the things people think about is how expensive it could be in an economic scenario -- introducing new therapists that can be costly, and it's not clear of the impact that will be derived. We have an answer for that.
"When you look at health as an expense, you start making a mistake, and I am not talking about Jamaica alone. This is the first mistake a country can make, because in health you do not spend, you invest," Dr Perez-Castaneda said.
Published on 11 August 2015 by Granma
A Cuban medication to treat chronic hepatitis B, HeberNasvac, created by scientists at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), is currently undergoing clinical trials in collaboration with the French company Abivax.
The product has been undergoing safety and efficacy tests for several years, stated a CIGB specialist.
According to Iris Lugo Carro, the clinical trials being carried out by Cuban scientists and Abivax - involving 230 patients from eight Asian countries, and the participation of 50 clinical centers - are being realized under regulation ABX 203.
To date, the study has been approved by the regulatory authorities of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand.
The trials were designed by high-level sector experts contracted by Abivax, in collaboration with Cuban scientists.
Satisfactory progress is being made in the investigation being carried out in this region of the world, where Hepatitis B prevalence is highest.
The chronic liver disease, caused by the hepatitis B (HBV) virus, is one of the principal causes of liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and other illnesses such as ascites, esophageal varices, splenomegaly, all with high mortality rates.
HBV causes almost one million deaths every year, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Published on 18 August 2015 by Granma
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.”