Publishe on June 16 2017 on Granma
Mijaín López won three of Cuba's Olympic gold medals. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia
The facts are readily available. Cuba is number 106 on the planet in terms of geographic area, number 18 in the Americas.
Ranking its population presents no problems: Cuba's 11 million inhabitants place the country 82nd worldwide; 12th in the Americas; and fifth in Central America and the Caribbean.
Cuba is likewise far down on lists of the richest nations. On the contrary we feature prominently on that of blockaded countries, subjected to continual attempts to create hunger and deprivation. In this category, we are always on the podium.
A SINGULAR CONTRAST IN SPORTS
Yet Cuba holds an unchallenged first place on the Central American and Caribbean medal chart. Likewise in Latin America; second on the entire American continent; and among the top ten on the globe!
Since we have become so accustomed to this reality, the magnitude of what the Revolution has accomplished in sports escapes us at times.
And Cuba has helped to extend sports throughout the world. Beyond its inspiring example, the country has sent a wealth of training experience abroad, and founded a school to train coaches, free of charge, to help others.
The success of athletes from economically advantaged countries should come as no surprise, nor those from nations with particularly helpful characteristics like the physical traits of the population, that is different ethnic groups, isolated areas like plains, coasts, and mountains with densely populated areas. It is to be expected that they are gaining on Cuba in the medal count, and winning.
What is important is competing with honor, never accepting poor results produced by deficient training, apathy, or lack of fighting spirit. The dignity of Cuban sports was evident during this last Olympic cycle.
In the Vercruz 2014 Games, Cuban athletes overcame the home team, but lost second place.
In the Toronto 2015 Pan Americans and the Río de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, our performances did not meet expectations.
Published on 1 May 2017 by Granma
May 1, a march celebrating International Workers Day took place in Havana, with Army General Raúl Castro, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, on hand.
Fifty thousand youth led the parade of workers in the capital on May Day which was dedicated to them this year, as the present and future of the homeland.
Cubans are motivated to march by the Revolution's social conquests, its continuity into the future, and the challenges of building a more just, prosperous, and sustainable society.
Many generations of Cubans came out to pay tribute to Fidel and to Che, on the 50th anniversary of his death in combat; to defend the country's sovereignty, demanding an end to the U.S. economic, financial, commercial blockade and the return of territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base.
Below follows the full text of speech by Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, member of the Party Central Committee Political Bureau and secretary general of the Cuban Workers Federation, during Havana's May Day commemoration
Speech by Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento,
Published on 26 April 2017 by Granma
On April 26, the President of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MovPaz), Silvio Platero, reiterated in Havana that the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo is the only one in the world which exists against the will of the people and government of the land on which it is located.
This is why the island has been chosen to host the International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, noted the activist speaking during a press conference regarding the fifth edition of this event, which will take place from May 4-6 in the eastern province of Guantánamo.
So far, over 200 delegates from 25 countries are scheduled to attend the event, which aims to unite forces in the struggle to eliminate military bases worldwide, he noted.
Platero went on to highlight that in addition to foreign military bases and their negative impact, debates will be centered on other issues such as nuclear disarmament and calls to end the interventionist policies of global powers.
The MovPaz President also warned of the danger represented by the increasing number of military bases worldwide, noting that, of the over 1,000 that exist, the United States has 850 located across five continents.
The final declaration of the event will be read out in the town of Caimanera, located only a few meters from the Guantánamo Naval Base maintained by the United States against the will of the Cuban people, stated Platero.
He also highlighted that following the event delegates will pay tribute to the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro, at the tomb where his ashes reside in Santiago de Cuba’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. (PL)
Published 24 April 2017 by Granma
Fully committed to the use of solar energy, one of the essential future renewable energy sources for Cuba and a basic element on the path to changing our energy system, Cienfuegos province already has four solar parks running at full capacity and is working toward completing the fifth.
Jesús Rey Pérez Crespo, director of the Cienfuegos Electric Company, reported that the four parks have a combined generation capacity of 11.2 MW. Once the fifth park comes into operation this year, this capacity will reach 16 MW, he noted.
The new facility, located in Yaguaramas, Abreus municipality, will be the largest of the territory up until now. It covers an area of more than seven hectares and includes 19,400 solar panels.
Pérez Crespo explained that close to 80% of the civil construction works have been completed.
Backed by the “Mofcom Program of nine MW” (five MW here and four in Pinar del Río), the park received a Chinese technological donation, while the Cuban side is assuming the construction and assembly phases.
The director revealed that this year construction works will begin on a further two solar parks in Ariza, Rhodes municipality, and in Aguada de Pasajeros. Both will start operations in 2018 and with these the province will reach a total capacity of 26 MW.
Several solar parks are to be installed in Cienfuegos up until 2030, in order to exceed 50 MW of generation capacity.
Broadcast on 17 April 2017 on BBC Radio 4
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 26 November 2016 by teleSUR.
The leader of the movement that won Cuban independence and champion of the Global South has died in Havana.
Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, died Friday night at age 90, Cuban state television confirmed.
Raul Castro, Cuba's President and Fidel Castro's brother, announced that Fidel would be cremated on Saturday. "The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died 10:29pm tonight," said Castro.
Born in 1926 to a prominent landowner in Holguín Province, Cuba, Fidel went on to lead Cuba’s revolutionary independence movement, defeating the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959.
Soon after his movement took power, Fidel adopted an explicitly socialist model of development and forged strong ties with the Soviet Union, earning the wrath of the United States.
Published on 5 April 2017 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
On 25 and 26 March the first National Cuba Conference to be held in the United States since 1979 took place at Fordham Law School in New York. The conference demanded the full normalisation of US-Cuba relations; the elimination of the US blockade, the return of US-occupied territory in Guantanamo and an end to US regime change programmes. These are essential demands for the international movement in solidarity with socialist Cuba at this complex juncture; with the possibility of renewed aggression from the new Trump administration, and with the challenges faced both in its process of economic restructuring and the pending transition to a post-Castro era. Helen Yaffe reports.
Cuba and the United States re-established diplomatic relations in the summer of 2015, 54 years after they were broken off, and six months after Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama astonished the world with their announcements on 17 December 2014. Rapprochement was possible because Obama became the first US president since 1959 to abandon conditionality and talk to Cuba. In his first term, he had demanded concessions or preconditions from Cuba as a prerequisite to talks. Cuba never submitted to conditions being imposed on it. Likewise, Cuba dropped its historical precondition of refusing to restore diplomatic relations while the US blockade remains.
With the restoration of diplomatic relations, embassies were opened; the US removed Cuba from its list of states supporting terrorism; the Havana Club rum label was registered in the US, resolving a 20-year-long ownership dispute; coastguard cooperation issues were resolved; regular flights and postal services were restored after decades. High profile prisoner releases took place on both sides. Obama eased restrictions on US citizens’ travel to the island, although this still requires a licence. In 2016, over half a million US citizens travelled to Cuba from the US – half of them Cuban-Americans. In his final days as President, Obama eliminated the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy which encouraged illegal and dangerous emigration by Cubans, by granting them automatic residency in the US and citizenship within one year.
However, in the commercial and economic area, progress has been minimal. Since the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 codified the blockade in US law, a vote in the US Congress is necessary to eliminate it, but by using his executive powers decisively Obama could have virtually dismantled it. In September 2015 and 2016, he signed annual extensions on the Trading With the Enemy Act against Cuba, one of the laws which sustains the blockade. Obama took only small, strategic steps to ‘engage’ Cuba by signing executive orders (which can be rescinded) to bypass Congress. His administration introduced five packets of measures and granted licences for a handful of US companies to trade with and/or operate in Cuba: six telecoms firms; four cruise companies; one hotel; eight airlines; two small banks. In mid-December 2016, Google signed a deal with the Cuban government to install servers on the island to speed up internet access.
Regulations issued under Obama state that financial institutions can provide Cuba with finance and credit for its authorised operations. However, no US bank has been willing to do this. Banks are terrified of fines being imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) while Cuba remains on the list of countries under US sanctions. And for good reason: Obama fined a record-breaking 49 entities for dealing with Cuba; more than President Bush. Effectively, Cuba still cannot use the dollar in the international economy, nor make deposits in international banks. Cuban goods still cannot be exported to the US; the one exception in more than 50 years being 40 tons of artisanal charcoal produced by Cuban cooperative farms and imported in January 2017 by Scott Gilbert, the attorney who represented US government contractor Alan Gross, released from prison in Cuba in 2014.
Illegality of the US blockade
Published on 12 October 2016 by Granma.
Despite the establishment of a historic dialogue with Havana on December 17, 2014, and regardless of the official visit of President Barack Obama to the island in March 2016, Washington continues to apply economic sanctions against the Cuban population, sparking the incomprehension of the international community. Established in 1960, during the Cold War, the sanctions (an economic, commercial and financial blockade of the country) persist more than half a century later, cause major difficulties for the Cuban economy and inflict unnecessary suffering on the most vulnerable sectors of the population. Their high cost and extraterritorial reach prompt unanimous rejection by the international community.
However, the resolution of this asymmetrical conflict depends on the executive branch of the U.S. government, which has the necessary prerogatives to dismantle much of the framework of the sanctions imposed on the island.
Published on 11 October 2016 by Granma.
“It is now vital to identify the damages precisely and as quickly as possible, in order to determine what is needed in each place,” Army General Raúl Castro Ruz stated during a working meeting held this Monday, October 10, at the Municipal Defence Council. Raúl outlined the key issues for the recovery of the municipality of Maisí, where the towns of La Máquina (the municipal capital), Punta de Maisí and Los Llanos, were the hardest hit with the passage of Hurricane Matthew.
The President of the National Defence Council was accompanied by Army Corps General Ramón Espinosa Martín, deputy minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, who is currently based in the most affected areas, together with other national and local leaders, overseeing the measures implemented in the recovery stage.