Plane crash in Havana

Rock Around the Blockade sends our deepest condolences to the familes of those who died in the tragic plane crash in Havana on Friday 18 May. Over 100 people died, despite the quick reaction of emergency services and local authorities. We send solidarity to the Cuban people who are in mourning this weekend. 

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.

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Published on 5th May 2017 by Medicc.org

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May 5, 2017, Havana – Cuba’s National Sex Education Center (CENESEX), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MINED), kicked off a year-long anti-bullying initiative that will focus on teacher training, support materials, and methodology to prevent homo- and transphobia bullying in the nation’s schools. Announced as the central theme of Cuba’s 10th International Days Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), CENESEX Director Mariela Castro says “Cuba is dedicated to non-violence and social justice. Our children spend most of their time at school, so the schools need to be safe spaces, where the rights of all children are protected – no matter where they fall on the sexual diversity spectrum.” Cuba’s observation of IDAHOT began on May 3 and runs through May 20 with a robust program of cultural events, including a film festival, conferences by specialists, presentation of academic findings, and marches by LGBTI Cubans and their allies.

The 2017 anti-bullying campaign is called ‘Me IncluYO por Escuelas sin Homofobia ni Transfobia’ (Count Me In for Homophobia- and Transphobia-Free Schools) and was developed by specialists from CENESEX and MINED to “include sexual rights and education in individual and social development, while promoting equality, respect, access to resources and objective information,” according to May 3 press release. Under no circumstances and nowhere, indicated the release, will violence be tolerated based on gender, race, sexual identity or orientation, including in schools. MINED defines bullying as using offensive nicknames, slapping and punching, making derogatory jokes, and directing any disrespectful language at classmates. Children found bullying will be held accountable and receive counseling. A 2014 resolution also makes teachers responsible for enforcing anti-bullying measures and ensuring no physical, mental or emotional harm comes to their students. Failure to do so make them subject to charges of negligence and if found warranted, disciplinary action.

Part of the year-long, national strategy involves raising awareness about bullying based on gender identity and sexual orientation. One of the challenges highlighted by specialists is the invisibility of the problem and the need to educate and inform across all sectors. To achieve this, coordinated cooperation is necessary among media outlets, schools, families, civil society and institutions, as well as health institutions. Included in the scheduled IDAHOT activities are several panels on themes such as “Health and Sexual Rights in Schools” and “Reproductive Rights and Sexual Diversity.” UNESCO is providing knowledge-transfer and methodological guides during the year-long campaign, while CENESEX Publishers will release Mariela Castro’s doctoral dissertation on the Cuban transsexual experience.

 

Published 13 October 2017 by Granma

Cuba publishes annual report on blockade damages

The report to the United Nations General Assembly on Resolution 71/5 entitled “The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States on Cuba” was recently released, exposing the extensive damages suffered by the island

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october 13, 2017 10:10:55

Almost 60 years after its implementation, the United States blockade policy against the Cuban people is intensifying, in a context of heightened tensions impacting on the progress achieved by the two countries in the diplomatic sphere.

This is reflected in the Report to the United Nations General Assembly on Resolution 71/5 entitled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America on Cuba,” whic

h outlines the extensive damages suffered by the island.

The document, which analyzes the period between April 2016 and June 2017, estimated 

These figures relate to restrictions that affect the island’s economic and social development

, despite the enormous efforts of the Cuban government to mitigate the obsolete and illegal policy.

Education, health, sports, culture, industrial development, tourism, food and information and communications technology continue to be some of the sectors most affected by the coercive measures of the current U.S. administration.


the total actual damages to the island to be in the order of $4,305,400,000 dollars.

The report, published on the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s website, and available to download in English here: http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu/sites/default/files/InformeBloqueo2017/informe_de_cuba_sobre_bloqueo_2017_ingles.pdf outlines the extraterritorial nature of the blockade, impacting on cooperation and in open violation of international law, with the express purpose of punishing a sovereign and independent people.

President Donald Trump’s signing of the National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba, backed by a minority in Miami, is the latest example of the escalating aggression against the island.

This Report, presented by Cuba every year as a prelude to the UN vote on the resolution, also exposes the widespread condemnation of the blockade within U.S. society and the international community, and the Cuban people’s demand for an immediate end to the failed policy.

After 57 years of fallacious rhetoric and failed attempts to undermine our sovereignty and social project, the Report reiterates that the economic, commercial and financial blockade constitutes the biggest obstacle to the implementation of the country’s National Economic and Social Development Plan, the wellbeing of the Cuban people, and the normalization of relations with the United States.

More than an official report, the presentation of this document is yet another clear sign that the Cuban people will not give up their efforts to put an end to the blockade. The truth, respect and peaceful coexistence will once again be the most solid arguments in defense of our cause.

As the Report notes: “The damages caused by the implementation of the blockade throughout almost six decades have been estimated at 822,280,000,000 dollars, taking into account the devaluation of the U.S. dollar vis-à-vis the price of gold in the world market.”

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 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.

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U.S. insurance company American International Group (AIG) became the latest victim of the arbitrary policy, after being fined over 148,698 USD

Published 28 June 2017 by Granma

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So far this year the U.S. Department of the Treasury has imposed four fines on national and foreign companies for allegedly violating the economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba.

The latest victim of this over 55 year old policy is U.S. insurance company American International Group (AIG), which was fined more than 148,698 USD.

According to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the company committed 29 blockade violations after providing coverage for several goods shipments to or from Cuba, or linked to an entity on the island. 
This is AIG’s second penalty in three years after the U.S. government accused its Canadian subsidiaries, in May 2014, of violating blockade regulations 3,560 times from January 2006 through March 2009.

Since the arrival of President Donald Trump to the White House last January 20, Washington has issued three sanctions related to the blockade of Cuba, two of these in the month of June.

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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.

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Published 6 June 2017 by Granma

Fidel’s contribution to environmental protection recognized

Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro’s strong defense of the environment and his contribution to tackling the global challenge of climate change were recognized June 5, during the national act to mark World Environment DayComandante en Jefe Fidel Castro’s strong defense of the environment and his contribution to tackling the global challenge of climate change were recognized June 5, during the national act for World Environment Day. 

“It is impossible to celebrate World Environment Day in Cuba without recalling the legacy of Fidel,” stated Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, a Party Central Committee member and minister of Science, Technology and Environment (Citma), who spoke about the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution’s comprehensive approach to environmental issues, as seen in more than 50 of his public speeches, including his remarks to the Communist Party of Cuba’s 7th Congress. 
The minister recalled how, facing an adverse international context and subjected to a cruel blockade by the U.S. government, Cuba has not only made the struggle to save the environment the focus of government policy, but has also worked with other nations in the region on this issue; above all by training human resources to tackle the effects of climate change. 
In this regard, Pérez Montoya emphasized comprehensive efforts undertaken in the province of Sancti Spíritus to combat the drought currently affecting the country, reduce water consumption and pollution, and preserve ecosystems. 
Comandantes de la Revolución, Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, a member of the Party Political Bureau and a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers; and Guillermo García Frías, president of the Central State Enterprise Management Organization (OSDE) for the Protection of Flora and Fauna, presided the event in Sancti Spíritus, the third to take place in the province since 2000. 
Meanwhile, United Nations resident coordinator and Development Programme representative, Myrta Kaulard, highlighted Cuba’s willingness to undertake actions toward protecting the island’s biodiversity and terrestrial ecosystems, preserving the oceans, guaranteeing drinking water for the population, and promoting renewable energy. 
Also participating in the act were José Ramón Monteagudo Ruiz, first Party secretary in Sancti Spíritus; Inés María Chapman Waugh, president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources, and Teresita Romero Rodriguez, president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power.
Presented during the event were National Environment Awards which went to the Villa Clara based Architecture and Engineering Enterprise; DIMARQ Design and Engineering Enterprise from Ciego de Ávila; as well as to Dr. Luis Joaquín Catasús Guerra and Comandante de la Revolución Ramiro Valdés Menéndez; while the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila, were recognized for their outstanding achievements in the field.

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