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U.N. Rights Chief Calls for Closure of Guantanamo Prison PDF Print E-mail

GENEVA - Fri Apr 5, 2013 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights chief called on the United States on Friday to close down the Guantanamo prison camp, saying the indefinite imprisonment of many detainees without charge or trial violated international law.

Navi Pillay said the hunger strike being staged by some inmates at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in southeastern Cuba was a "desperate act" but "scarcely surprising".

"We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged four years ago to close the controversial facility, opened by the Bush administration in January 2002 to hold men captured in counter-terrorism operations after the deadly September 11 attacks on America.

Pillay voiced deep disappointment at the U.S. government's failure to close Guantanamo despite its repeated commitments, but welcomed comments by a White House spokesman last week reiterating the intention to do so while citing congressional legislation as the prime obstacle.

About half of the current 166 detainees have been cleared for transfer either to home countries or third countries for resettlement, Pillay said. "As a first step, those who have been cleared for release must be released," she said.

"Festering for more than a decade"

"Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention center for more than a decade," she said.

Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes should be tried in civilian courts, especially as the military commissions "do not meet international fair trial standards" despite improvements since 2009, said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.

Of the 166 remaining detainees, only nine have been charged or convicted of crimes, according to military records. The 166 detainees are from 23 countries, the Red Cross says.

Forty inmates are currently staging a hunger strike to protest against their indefinite detention, according to a U.S. military spokesman at Guantanamo. Some have lost so much weight that they are being force-fed liquid nutrients through tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited Guantanamo regularly since it opened to check on conditions of detention and ensure humane treatment. It is currently carrying out its 93rd visit, expected to last another week.

The ICRC sent a doctor and another delegate to Guantanamo on March 25, a week earlier than planned because of concern about a growing hunger strike among detainees, the humanitarian agency said at the time.

An ICRC team of 13 now there are discussing issues including the hunger strike separately with authorities and in private interviews with inmates, ICRC spokesman Alexis Heeb said.

"Detainees can raise any problem they want to bring to our attention, this can be issues of detention, Koran issues, requests for medical attention," Heeb told Reuters on Friday, referring to media reports about searches of Korans for contraband.

The ICRC has a clear position of being opposed to forced feeding or forced treatment and upholds the principle of leaving the right to detainees to choose his or her fate, he said.

ICRC President Peter Maurer is expected to raise concerns about Guantanamo in talks next week with senior U.S. officials during his three-day visit to Washington, Heeb said.

"We continue to hold detainees under the internationally recognized Law of War and in keeping with the best of our core values, safeguarding and humanely treating all who are in our care and custody, there. Assertions that present some alternate narrative simply do not withstand intellectual rigor," a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, told Reuters in response to Pillay's statement.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Additional reporting by Jane Sutton in Miami; Editing by Pravin Char and Stephen Powell)

CTV Network's "W5" Joins Anti-Cuba Diatribe PDF Print E-mail

- Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba - 

The Canadian Network on Cuba informs you that in addition to the Toronto Star's malicious disinformation campaign on Cuba in conjunction with the Miami Herald's Spanish edition, CTV's "W5" has also joined the scurrilous campaign of outright deception based on bogus sources. A lead item presented by Victor Malarek on the program "W-5" on Saturday March 16, presented Cuba as a "paradise for sex tourists," a veritable smorgasbord for paedophiles. The "big exposé" itself was a collaborative effort involving the Canadian Border Services Agency, The Toronto Star, and even Juan O. Tamayo, a CIA asset touted as a reporter with The Miami Herald. Neither the Miami Herald nor its reporter Tamayo are credible sources when it comes to Cuba. It is known that for decades The Herald has been a U.S.-backed mouthpiece for the Cuban counter-revolutionary mafia based in south Florida. As for Tamayo, he was "outed" as a CIA asset years ago by veteran Quebec journalist Jean-Guy Allard. 

CTV's motive is highly suspect. It is well known that Cuba has a zero tolerance for molestation of children and that it does not criminalize social conduct of any kind. There is simply no comparison of Cuba with the countries where sex tourism is promoted, which implies child pornography and paedophelia. These are not tolerated in Cuba. Simply that. 

Cuba holds an admirable place in the international community as concerns the protection and promotion of the rights of children. In Cuba every child is guaranteed an education and access to universal and free healthcare. In Cuba there are no homeless children roaming the streets eking out an existence in a dog-eat-dog society. There is no child pornography industry in Cuba or tolerance of paedophelia, no priests or educators or sports coaches molesting children, no media preying on children or promoting gossips and yellow journalism about them. 

"W5" is presented as CTV's flagship for investigative-journalism. It is now clear this is a euphemism for yellow journalism.   It is disgraceful. 

Rather than promote lies about Cuba at the command of the American counter-revolutionary agencies which are floating so-called dissidents to organize regime change in Cuba, the CTV would do well to remind its audience that anyone who violates Cuban laws as concerns laying a hand on a minor will definitely end up in jail.

News on Cuba - March 20, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Fidel Castro's Legacy in Africa Extolled in Sudan

Khartoum, Mar 20 (Prensa Latina) The example of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and his legacy in Africa, were extolled today by Sudan Health Minister Bahr Idriss Abu-Garda, during an interview with Cuban ambassador Otto Vaillant.

Conducting a successful and solidarity revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are symbols of revolutionaries and personal dedication to their causes, said the African minister during an interview with the Cuban diplomat, who is carrying out a concurrency visit to this country.

The minister thanked the friendship of the Cuban government and people and was particularly interested in the Caribbean nation's cooperation in that sensitive area.

He also expressed his people's gratitude for providing scholarships so Sudanese youth can study medicine in the Caribbean island, a gesture he described as "an important contribution to his communities." 

The Cuban ambassador, resident in Cairo and concurrent in Sudan, began a working visit to the country, in which he expects to hold meetings with national authorities.

Cuban First Vice President Highlights Ties With Vatican

Vatican, Mar 19 (Prensa Latina) Cuba and the Vatican maintained cordial relations of mutual respect and cooperation and make progress in the development and deepening of these ties, said here today Cuban First Vice President, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

In statements to Prensa Latina, Diaz-Canel said that both parties agree in many respects, especially in social issues affecting the world.

The head of the Cuban delegation to the enthronement ceremony of Pope Francis, brought a message of congratulations from President Raul Castro, the Cuban government and people in wishing him success during his pontificate.

More than 130 foreign delegations attended the inauguration Mass of the Holy Father, which was held in St. Peter's Basilica.

As part of his agenda, the first vice president also met at the Embassy of Cuba in Italy with officials to explain aspects of the process of updating the cuban economic model.

Extensive Italian Movement in Solidarity with Cuban 5

Rome, Mar 20 (Prensa Latina) "We, the Five and you" is the name of a campaign held in this capital by the Italy-Cuba National Friendship Association in solidarity with the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly held in the United States.

Marco Papacci, Rome Circle secretary of that organization, told Prensa Latina that the campaign has brought together figures from the culture, sport, science sector, as well as some Nobel prizewinners.

In addition, there are activities in different parts of the country the fifth day of each month to reveal the public opinion the injustice committed against the five Cuban antiterrorists detained almost 15 years ago.

A violation to international law and human rights has been committed with the Five, because what these men did was to supervise groups that from Miami prepare attacks against Cuba," Papacci said.

The Italy-Cuba Association emerged in 1961 in solidarity with the Revolution against the mercenary invasion on Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs).

At present, the organization has more than 80 associations and thousands of members around the country.

Cuba to Celebrate International Children’s Book Day 

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 19 (acn) Cuba will join world celebrations for International Children’s Book Day with a wide cultural program for that public, dedicated to the 208th anniversary of the birth of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), starting from March 28. 

Every April 2, International Children’s Book Day commemorates the birth of the author of The Ugly Duckling, The Brave Tin Soldier and The Little Mermaid, considered classic stories of world literature, the Granma newspaper reported on Tuesday. 

Sponsored by the City Historian Office, celebrations will last five days and will also pay tribute to Cuba’s National Hero Jose Marti on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of his birth, who also wrote for the little ones and left a vast work for them, like The Golden Age, one of the most important. 

Cuban Minister Opens International Tourism Fair in Russia

Moscow, Mar 20 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Minister Manuel Marrero opened today the 20th Moscow International Travel and Tourism (MITT) Fair, representing the special guest country, among more than 100 nations attending the exhibition event.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Marrero said that the heroic Russian people have always supported the island of the freedom in different fields, and tourism is today the bridge to strengthen the friendship and solidarity between our fraternal peoples.

For Cuba, the Russian market is one of the fastest growth rates in recent years, with a record of visits in 2012 that exceeded 10 percent (more than 86,000 tourists), compared to the previous year, the minister said.

The Ministry of Tourism has drawn up a strategy to strengthen this market in the coming years, so an extensive investment plan is being designed; and it includes the remodeling and renovation of existing hotels and the growth of new rooms, Marrero said in the opening ceremony of the 20th edition of the MITT Fair.

He also referred to the strong recovery of cultural and heritage values in the major cities, declared World Heritage.

Cuba to Show its Experiences in Disaster Situations 

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 19 (acn) Cuba’s experiences in disaster situations will be shown at the 2nd Congress on Health and Disasters, to be held in this capital from March 20th through the 22nd. 

Good practices in disaster risk management in public health will be presented at the forum, with a multidisciplinary, inter-sectorial and community participation approach, prevention, response and recovery in the face of these situations. 

The Center for Conventions and Academic Services of Havana’s University of Medical Sciences will be the venue of this meeting, which will favor the exchange of experiences of local levels in health services and in those of its organizations, both scientific and governmental, announced the organizing committee. 

This will contribute to develop initiatives that can boost the perfecting of cooperation in prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in the face of disasters, both in the national and international spheres. 

Organized by the Latin American Center of Disaster Medicine, the meeting will bring together representatives from Cuba, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Gabon, the United States, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain and the United Kingdom, among other nations. 

As part of activities programmed, English professor John Richard Ashton will give a keynote lecture entitled "Disaster Reduction in Health Systems.  Strategies and Perspectives." 

News on Cuba - March 18, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Gerardo Highlights Value of Global Solidarity

Washington. - We know that the key to our inevitably freedom lies in the solidarity that continues to grow worldwide, stated Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States since 1998, in a message disclosed by attorney Michael Avery, president of the National Lawyers Guild, during the opening of the exhibition of cartoons Humor from my prison, in Somerville, Massachusetts, Hernandez reiterated that humor releases and moves him away for a little while from behind those walls the Cuban Five have been unjustly confined to for nearly 15 years.

World Movement of Solidarity with Cuba’s Increases

The Movement of Solidarity with Cuba grows and spreads in America, Europe, Asia and Africa on Monday stated on Monday Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP, by its acronym in Spanish language). During a press conference, Serrano recalled that from October 27th to 31st, 2014 the Third World Encounter of solidarity with Cuba is to be held, and sponsored, among other institutions, by the Network in Defense of Humanity’s Cuban chapter.

The aim is for the participants to be in solidarity with Cuba and its revolutionary causes, but also support the Latin American integration and unity at the special current conjuncture, he said.

US Women Trade Unionists in Solidarity with the Cuban Five

Washington. - The case of the Cuban Five unjustly held in the United States was broached in the Women of Steel Conference, thanks to the work of groups of solidarity in order for the truth of the Cuban Five to be known among new branches of the US society.The 2013 Conference was an opportunity to share with women all the suffering bore by the families of these values men for nearly 15 years, said a press release of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.

Chavez’s Contributions to the Revolutionary Theory‘s Encouraging Study

It is urgent to study the greatness of Hugo Chavez and his contributions to the revolutionary theory, stated German Sanchez Otero in Havana, Cuba's former ambassador in Venezuela.

Chavez led an original, creative, unique revolutionary process, full of surprises for the revolutionary theory, stressed, and recalled his impressions about his first encounter with the late president in 1994: spontaneous, emotional, with a nimbler wit, inquisitive in the best sense of the word, sharp in his approach, very creative, very humble.

Cuban Delegation to Attend Pope's Enthronement 

Miguel Diaz-Canel, First Vice President Of Cuba's Communist Party, heads the Cuban delegation that will attend the enthronement of Pope Francis I, which is to take place on next Tuesday at the Vatican.

The delegation is also composed by Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State; Marcelino Medina, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Eduardo Delgado, Cuba's Ambassador to the Holy See.

Culture Ministers of the CELAC to Increase Cooperation 

HAVANA, Cuba.- Culture ministers of the nations that are members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) declared to be in favor of cooperation and joint work, in the face of challenges in the region.   

Rafael Bernal, Culture Minister of the Republic of Cuba, the nation that holds the pro-tempore chairmanship, pointed out on Monday that during the first meeting of this kind held on March 14 and 15 in Suriname, the officials highlighted the role of cultural processes in the search for integration. 

Cyclists to Begin a Tour in Solidarity with the Five   

GUANTANAMO, Cuba, Mar 18 (acn) The five riders who began a tour across Cuba from Maisi Point to demand the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorist heroes unjustly convicted in the United States, were received here today. 

The headquarters of the provincial committee of the Youth Communist League in the city of Guantanamo was the second stop of the journey and also became grandstand from which they demanded U.S. President Barack Obama to make use of his executive powers and release the Cuban Five, as they are known internationally.

¡Farewell to the everlasting Commander of the Peoples’! PDF Print E-mail

By: Iliana García Giraldino  (Siempre con Cuba/ICAP)

The news was truly devastating. The news of the Venezuelan Commander in Chief’s decease swept all across the world leaving an immense trail of sadness and pain that will always etch on the historical mind of humanity, where the eternal Bolivarian commander will remain alive for good. 

The passionate hope worldwide that the president would overcome this battle against cancer disease, just faded at the very moment of his decease, which however can not defeat all the love emerged from the bottom of the beloved Hugo Chavez’ heart. That seed of love he planted and the love he has received and will receive from the peoples.

He has deceased and not. There is no way possible his ideas fade significance with his physical disappearance. The Venezuelan leader set an example of braveness and faith, the courage that always defined him, his integrationist thinking, his solidarity with the deprived, with the ones dropped out from society. The leader deserves a place of honour in the heavens of the heroes, from which he will enlighten the path of sovereignty, dignity and patriotism.

Venezuela mourns, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. Men of good will also weep. The whole Cuban people just shuddered at the harrowing news. Chávez was- and also belongs to Cuba, the island he felt deep love of, the island he felt he was part of, as well as he belonged to the cuban people.  Chávez used to be one more cuban. He used to talk to Cubans with the sympathy and ease of an older brother. 

His image next to Fidel, both smiling, is a symbol for the Cuban people. In that picture, and like in many others we know, is summed up the feelings of Cuba. Every time Chavez embraced Fidel and Raul, he embraced all cubans at the same time.

Cuba and Venezuela as one nation are grieving this ruthless moment.  The woes and sorrows felt by the Cuban people are felt in the most remote areas in Venezuela. Like brothers, we have to bear the pain. Like brothers will go on, faithful to Chavez’ ideas, the one who carried out and bolstered the Bolivarian Revolution, The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), PETROCARIBE, The CELAC, and popular health, sporting and cultural programs. He will live within the souls of the children and women he saved with sanitary programs, in the redeemed people of his beloved homeland.  

As the lyrics of the song of Ali Primera ¨We will avoid the beautiful open door to life to be shut¨ 

Unity, unity, unity, was Commander in Chief’s legacy in his call to continue fighting regardless of the circumstances, the Bolivarian Revolution, and to continue building Socialism.

I can not imagine Chávez motionless. He will continue to deliver his speeches, quoting impassioned Bolivar’s phrases and José Marti’s verses, speaking with the people, carrying children in his arms, grinning to life, replying fiercely to whomever attempts to threaten the homeland, with his defiant stand facing the empire, caring with his family, holding hands with Fidel and Raúl, chanting the songs of Alí Primera, who in a song dedicated to Bolívar he expressed:

… who knows if you are ever seen over a star,
with bright parrots enlightening the jungle,
over the wet plantations shining its essence,
with your horse of war galloping next to me,
with your libertarian sword near me,
with your shout of battle…

You are very close to everyone, beloved Commander, leading the peoples of the world from a star.

News on Cuba - February 26, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Five Days for the Five in Washington 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 25 (acn) New actions to spread the truth of the case of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the U.S. will take place in Washington D.C. from May 30 to June 5, as part of the Five Days for the Five solidarity campaign. 

In statements to PL news agency, the coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, Graciela Ramirez, said the initiative includes events of political, religious and juridical nature. 

The activists will once again knock at the doors of US congress people and stage a march to the White House, Ramirez said and she recalled that last year, they explained various US lawmakers about the case of the five Cubans, an action they will repeat this year. 

Every fifth day of each month, President Barack Obama is addressed a letter by a renowned personality demanding the release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, internationally known as the Cuban Five. 

Other actions include telephone calls, email messages, letters and calls on social networks demanding the freedom of the Five. 

Ramirez said that artists, scholars, lawyers, religious people and nationals from different countries have already confirmed assistance at the demonstration, which is the second to take place in Washington DC. after a previous one held in April, 2012. 

More Nicaraguans to Arrive in Cuba to Study Medicine 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 22 (acn) Nicaraguan youngsters will arrive in Cuba on Saturday to be trained as physicians, free of charge, at the capital’s Latin American Medical School (ELAM), confirmed on Friday the Ministry of Youth of that Central American country. 

The commitment of these 10 Nicaraguans is to maintain academic excellence and to return to their homeland at the end of their training to reciprocate with solidarity spirit the opportunity given to them by the Cuban Revolution by way of the National Program of Scholarships of the Sandinista government 

These youngsters come from different Nicaraguan departments and families of scant economic resources, whose parents expressed gratitude towards those who contribute to the future of their children, the Prensa Latina news agency reported. 

More than 1,300 Nicaraguans are currently studying at the ELAM, founded by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in 1999, and over 550 graduated in Cuba as physicians in 2011 and 2012. 

Likewise, youngsters from that nation are presently studying on the island at agrarian universities as well as engineering specialties. 

Washington Chasing Cuban Scrap Metal 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 26 (acn) The California-based Tung Tai Group, in the metal recycling business, was forced to pay a 44-thousand-dollar fine for transactions with Cuba, considered a violation of the over-50-year economic, commercial and financial blockade of the island. 

According to Granma newspaper, a communiqué issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused Tung Tai Group of having purchased scrap metal in Cuba, in August 2010.  The US office chases all Cuban commercial and financial transactions. This is not the first time that the office fines a company for doing transactions with Cuba. 

Last July, Great Western Maltin Company, based in the state of Washington, was fined 1.35 million dollars for unauthorized commercial operations with Cuba. 

In 2012, the OFAC also fined Holland’s ING Bank with 619 million dollars for having carried out financial and commercial transactions with Cuba, in a joint action with its subsidiaries in France, Belgium and Curacao. 

In December 2012, The US office also imposed the London-based Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC Holdings) a fine amounting to 375 million dollars for the alleged violation of US unilateral sanctions on several countries, including Cuba. 

International Habano Cigar Festival Opens in Havana 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 26 (acn) The 15th International Habano Cigar Festival kicks off in Havana on Tuesday with the presentation of new cigar shapes of the famous brand Montecristo, an event which as the center of cigar lovers and guests from over 60 countries. 

Participants at the festival, which runs till March 2, will test new shapes Vegueros and Partagas, two brands on the commercial portfolio of Habanos S.A. corporation, which markets the Cuban product in more than 150 nations. 

Business people, cigar collectors, sommeliers, directives, artists, officials and diplomats will take part at seminars, testing sessions and marriages.  They will also visit cigar factories and plantations, among other usual activities held during the annual event. 

The festival will open with a music concert at the Morro Castle fortress, on the entrance of Havana Bay.

Cuban Baseball Team to Face Japanese Professional Baseball Teams 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 26 (acn) The Cuban baseball team will face tomorrow the Hanshin Tigers, a squad that belongs to the Nippon Professional League in its first-to-last preparatory game to the impending 3rd World Baseball Classic. 

Cuban manager, Victor Mesa, announced right-handed Odrisamer Despaigne as his starter pitcher in a game that will be held in the Kyocera Dome in the Japanese city of Kobe, the sports publication Jit reported. 

Mesa added that Cuban players are complying with the training program and are also adapting well to the time difference. 

The manager downplayed Cuba´s defeats against the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei in two of the four matches recently held in the latter nation, because it is a period of preparation designed primarily to try the players. 

After this game in Kobe, Cubans will play on March 1st against the professional team SoftBank Hawks in Fukuoka, which also will host the Group A of the 3rd WBC. 

Cuba will debut in the tournament against Brazil on March 3, a day later they will face China, to close the first phase on March 6th versus Japan, winners of the two previous editions (2006 and 2009) and executioner of Cuba in those events.

News on Cuba - February 25, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Raul Castro Gives Closing Speech of Cuban Parliament Session 

HAVANA, Cuba,  Feb 24 (acn) Cuban President Raul Castro gave the closing remarks of the parliamentary session that set up the new National Assembly of People’s Power with its new president, and elected the new Council of State. 

Raul said that upcoming modifications of the country’s constitution include the limit of a top 10-year period for main state and government posts, also with limited age to occupy such responsibilities. However, he said that in his specific case, this will be his last term in office. 

The deputies elected Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, in a decision of historic significance because it is a step towards the future configuration of the country’s leadership, through a progressive and orderly transfer of power to the new generations, said Raul. 

He recalled that 41.9 percent of the members elected to the Council of State are women, 38.6 percent is made up of black of colored persons, while the average age of its members is 57 years, with 61.3 of them having been born after the 1959 triumph of the Cuban Revolution. 

At the same time, said Raul, the Parliament underwent a 67.26 renovation of its members, with 48.86 percent of women, 37.9 persons of color, while 82.68 percent of deputies graduated from higher education, and the average age is 48 years. 

Raul said that the above mentioned data confirm the quality of the Cuban electoral system and the potential of the people’s power bodies, including the national parliament to meet the important duties established by the country’s constitution. 

In that regard, Raul said that the current legislature is in charge of undertaking an intense legislative work to strengthen institutional order and to implement the social and economic guidelines adopted by the Communist Party, which now entail far-reaching, deeper and more complex issues. 

Referring to the election of Esteban Lazo as new Parliament president, Raul said that it is an honor that the assembly is being chaired by a black man of humble family, a former sugar cane cutter, who was able to get an economy diploma after huge effort and without abandoning his political responsibilities. 

Referring to the transformations taking place in the country Raul said that they will continue to progress with no haste but without any pause, by protecting the people and by climbing the barriers of an obsolete mentality in order to favor the action of productive forces and the advancement of Cuban economy, along with the protection of the social achievements of the Cuban Revolution, such as education, public health, culture, sports. 

The Cuban president stressed the need to strongly fight illegalities, indiscipline and any act of corruption. 

Raul reiterated the Cuban people’s congratulations to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for his electoral victory and he conveyed fraternal greetings to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez  and his people by ratifying the solidarity by the Cuban Parliament and the people of Cuba. 

Raul said that Cuba will continue to demand the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the U.S. and he concluded his speech by citing the concept of the word Revolution, first given by Fidel Castro in the year 2000.

Raul Castro Re-elected Cuban President 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 24 (acn) The National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament) ratified Raul Castro as President of the Council of State and elected Miguel Diaz-Canel as First Vice-President. 

The 605 deputies at the session, which set up the new parliament on Sunday, elected all 31 members of the Council of State, which represents the Parliament and implements its accords in the periods between its two annual sessions. 

Miguel Diaz-Canel is a 52-year-old electronic engineer. He is member of the Political Bureau of Cuba’s Communist Party and he was the first Party secretary in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguin. He was also minister of Higher Education and vice-president of the Council of Ministers. 

Other vice-presidents of the Council of State elected in the session were Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, second Communist Party secretary; Gladys Bejerano, general comptroller; Ramiro Valdes, vice-president of the Council of Ministers; Lazara Mercedes Lopez, first Communist Party secretary in Havana, and Salvador Valdes, general secretary of the Cuban Workers Confederation. Homero Acosta was ratified as secretary of the Council  of State. 

Following the setting  up of the new parliament at Havana’s Conventions Palace, the deputies elected Esteban Lazo as president of the legislative body for its 8th Legislature and ratified Ana Maria Mari as vice-president, and Miriam Brito as secretary. 

Fidel  Castro: We fight for Ideas, not for Glory 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 25 (ACN) “We do not struggle for our own glory or for honors; we fight for ideas we consider fair and to which millions of Cubans have dedicated their youth and their lives,” said Fidel Castro in his address to the Eight Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Pwer, which was set up on Sunday. 

Fidel said he deeply appreciated the noble gesture by the people to have elected him a Parliament deputy. He said he never thought he would live that long and that his enemies would be that clumsy in their hateful practice of eliminating their adversaries, who are determined to fight. 

“In such an unequal battle, our people proved their astonishing capacity to resist and overcome,” he pointed out, and stressed that some eight hundred thousand Cubans have met internationalist missions. 

The Cuban Revolution leader recalled important moments of recent Cuban history, like the 1962 missile crisis, where the island was about to turn into a nuclear battlefield; the 1961 Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion backed by Washington; the participation of Cuban internationalist troops in the victory of Cuito Cuanavale, which led to the end of the former  Apartheid System. 

Fidel Castro said that after the 1959 Revolution triumph, the domestic battle targeted political ignorance and anti-socialist ideas instilled by the bourgeoisie and US imperialism. The fight of social classes unleashed just few miles from the United States was the most efficient political school for the country. 

However, he said, the big battle now focuses the need to deal with bad habits and mistakes that are being committed by many citizens, including Communist Party members in different social areas. 

Fidel said that humanity is now experiencing a unique stage, which is quite different from centuries ago. The world population increased to 7 billion people, an alarming figure expressing a demand for vital foodstuffs that science, technology and the natural resources of the planet are quite far from meeting. 

Fidel also referred to current natural threats on humanity, such as the consequences of climate change. 

He concluded his statements by paying tribute Cuban National Hero Jose Marti on the 160th anniversary of his birthday and on the 118th anniversary of the start of Cuban independence war against Spanish colonial rule. He said Marti was the revolutionary, anti-imperialist and bolivarian man that instilled in the Cuban youths the first ideas about their duty. 

Deputies Elect New First Vice President of the Cuban Government 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 24 (acn) The Cuban Parliament elected Miguel Diaz-Canel las first vice-president of the Cuban Council of Ministers on the proposal of President Raul Castro Ruz. Diaz-Canel had previously been elected first vice-president of the Council of State. 

Miguel Diaz-Canel is a 52-year-old electronic engineer. He is member of the Political Bureau of Cuba’s Communist Party and he was the first Party secretary in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguin. He was also minister of Higher Education and vice-president of the Council of Ministers. 

Esteban Lazo, New President of the Cuban Parliament 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 24 (acn) Following the setting up of the new National Assembly of People’s Power, Cuban deputies elected Esteban Lazo Hernandez as new Parliament president for the next five-year-term Eight Legislature. 

Through direct and secret vote, the 606 deputies participating in the parliamentary session, including Revolution leader Fidel Castro and President Raul Castro, ratified Ana Maria Mari Machado as Parliament vice-president, and Miriam Brito as secretary of the legislative body. 

Esteban Lazo is member of the Politbureau of Cuba’s Communist Party and he has been first Communist Party secretary in the provinces of Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba and Havana over the past years.  

In presenting the candidature project of the assembly’s presidency, Amarilys Perez who heads the National Candidature Commission, said that all legislators were consulted and that the new Parliament legislature has the challenge of implementing of the social and political guidelines adopted by the latest Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. 

Cuban Communist Party Central Committee Held Plenary Session 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 25 (acn) The Central Committee of Cuba’s Communist Party held a plenary session, headed by First Party Secretary Raul Castro, prior to the setting on Sunday of the new National Assembly of People’s Power. 

During the session, Raul Castro presented the proposals for the new Council of State under the principle that “though the Communist Party does not nominate anybody, it cannot be foreign to the election of the top government leaders.” 

According to Granma news paper, the Central Committee members approved the proposals that were later submitted to the parliament, in tune with article five of the Cuban Constitution, which reads that “the Communist Party (…), organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the top leading force of society and the state.” 

Raul Castro explained about the proposal of Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice-president of the Council of State and other members of that Parliament body. He said that this was the first step to orderly and progressively hand over to the new generations of Cubans the country’s top government posts, a process that will continue during the next five years. 

The action is in tune with the accords adopted by the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party and its First National Conference in relation to the policy of cadres. 

Raul acknowledged the attitude of former first vice-president Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and  army corps General Abelardo Colome in offering their state posts in favor of promoting new generations as part of the principle of continuity and renovation that marks the future of the country. 

The first secretary of the Communist Party also stressed the work of the Electoral and Candidature commissions, which was reflected in the new parliament, which has a better balance of its membership, given by race, age, educational level, and genre, among other aspects. 

Raul said that the new parliament will have intense legislative work to do, aimed at strengthening Cuban institutional order and at implementing the economic and social guidelines adopted by the Cuban Communist Party.

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