Raul Castro Congratulates Association of Cuban Journalists
Congress Association of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) Havana, Jul 15 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro congratulated the Association of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) on occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation, and its 9th Congress, held in this capital.
The congratulations of the Cuban statesman was conveyed by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who stressed that the thought of national hero, Jose Marti, the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, and the head of State, was present during the working sessions.
Diaz-Canel also gave the UPEC on Sunday night a diploma of recognition signed by Raul Castro.
I want to congratulate the new UPEC leadership, and tell them you can count on the leadership of the nation, as we know that the media is contributing to the development of a prosperous and sustainable socialism, Diaz-Canel said.
This 9th Congress was necessary and appropriate, it was characterized by an intelligent debate and committed, and is important for its contribution to the present and future, the first vice president pointed out.
I do not think that our journalists are the most criticized, we require of them to build socialism, and there is no lack of credibility, he said.
The population is informed by the press, the newspapers are sold out at the stands, people write to the media, given criteria, participate, and that means we have confidence, said Diaz-Canel.
Cuban President informed that the press should be capable of reflecting the reality on the diversity in which we live, without excessive secrecy, with knowledge and debate, the first vice president recalled.
Medal “50th Anniversary of the UPEC” Bestowed upon Fidel and Raul
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 14 (acn) The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and Army General Raul Castro, President of the councils of State and Ministers, were awarded the Commemorative Medal “50th Anniversary of the Association of Cuban Journalists.”
The award was handed over on Sunday to Miguel Diaz-Canel, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and First Vice-president of the councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Congress of the organization, where the significance of Fidel and Raul, symbols of the strength and resistance of the people in the defense of the Revolution, was highlighted.
UPEC founders, leaders and professionals with important contributions to the development and work of that institution received a similar award at Havana’s Convention Center, while the Prize to Dignity was handed over to Tubal Paez, outgoing president of the organization, for his notable work in the leadership of professionals in this sector.
During the closing ceremony, Molto read a message of the Federation of Latin American Journalists (FELAP), on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UPEC.
The closing speech was in charge of Miguel Diaz-Canel, as a summary of two days of debates on fundamental issues of today’s journalism.
US Lawyer Says the American People Must be Informed of the Cuban Five Case
HAVANA, Cuba, July 12 (acn) The case of the Cuban Five must be better known by lawyers and by the American people, given its humane, political and legal values, said Law Professor at the Washington University and Virginia’s Lee University Erick Luna.
In statements to the Cuban News Agency, the lawyer said that the legal process to which the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters were submitted was plagued with irregularities and that he is currently putting it as an example in his lessons to explain his students about the different illegal actions committed.
Hiding evidence, instructing the jury incorrectly, classifying information which the defense should have had access to, are some of the arbitrary actions from which his students can learn in their class, said the professor.
Luna said that most of the future lawyers must first be explained the basics of the case, because many of them have no information on it.
In September 1998, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and René González were arrested in the United States and later given extremely long and unfair sentences on charges that were not proven. The Cuban Five as they are internationally known were collecting information on Florida-based ultra-right organizations that planned terrorist actions against Cuba, which could also endanger the lives of US citizens and other nationals.
Rene Gonzalez has been the only one of them who, after having me his unfair prison sentence was allowed to returned and stay in Cuba in exchange for the renouncing of his American citizenship.
Venceremos Brigade to Arrive in Cuba on July 21
HAVANA, Cuba, July 12 (acn) The 44th group of the US Venceremos solidarity brigade will arrive in Cuba on July 21 to attend the central ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes garrisons.
The group, made up of 34 youths, will arrive in the eastern province of Holguin, where they are scheduled to visit the home where Fidel and Raul Castro grew up, currently turned into a Museum in the town of Biran.
The activists will also meet with Cubans that survived terrorist actions in the locality of Boca de Sama and with members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution grassroots organizations, as well as with Young Communist League members, according to the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP).
They will also be briefed about the Cuban education and healthcare system and will join Cubans in voluntary work activities in Holguin, Granma and Santiago de Cuba provinces. The activists will visit other places of historic interest and will meet other activists visiting the island with the Puerto Rican Juan Rius Rivera brigade and the Pastors for Peace caravan.
Relatives of Cuban Five Express Sympathies for Death of Activist Bernie Dwyer
Havana.- (acn) The relatives of the five Cubans anti-terrorist fighters who were given unfair prison sentences in the United States expressed their deepest sorrow for the passing away on July 10 of activist and internationalist Bernie Dwyer, and expressed their condolences to her family.
Bernie Dwyer, also journalist based in Cuba fought in the defense of the Cuban Revolution and all just causes around the world till the last days of her life, Radio Havana Cuba reported.
In their message, the spouses, mothers and other relatives of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, said that they learned about the passing away of unforgettable friend Bernie, who after a strong fight against her disease never stopped her struggle for the causes of the peoples and particularly for the cause of Cuba and the Cuban Five.
“Bernie, ‘The Irish’ as we used to tell her with affection, accompanied us since the very first day of the Cuban Five case, when the injustice committed against them in Miami was denounced. Her invaluable contribution to break the wall of silence raised against the case led her to express herself through her journalist work about it in an excellent manner, as she put her condition of being an English speaking native in favor of the five of the Cuban Five to break that wall of silence,” the message reads.
She traveled across the United States and Canada to show her documentary Mission against Terror, with which she spread the truth of Cuba and the Five to other people and she even attended an oral hearing of the case in Atlanta City’s Appeals Court.
The relatives of the Cuban Five conveyed their deepest condolences to the children, grand children and other relatives of Bernie on behalf of the five anti-terrorist fighters, and they stressed that Bernie will always be among us.
Bernadette Dwyer, known to all as Bernie, died Wednesday in her native Ireland. Bernie worked in the English-language Department of Radio Havana Cuba for ten years. Before her retirement from Radio Havana several years ago and during the final years of her life, she was a tireless fighter for the freedom of the Cuban Five.
Bernie Dwyer was co-producer of "Mission against Terror,” which examines the history of U.S.-based terrorist violence against Cuba and the struggle for the Cuban Five. Known for her excellent radio and film interviews, Bernie also directed "One Man's Story" on former CIA agent Philip Agee.
Bernie first traveled to Cuba as a brigadista with the Nordic Brigade in 1988 and returned to Cuba in 1998 with a Pastors for Peace Caravan. She began her work as a journalist and announcer at Radio Havana Cuba in the year 2000. (RHC)
Cuban First Vice-president Meets with Religious Leaders
HAVANA, Cuba, July 16 (acn) Miguel Diaz-Canel, member of the Political Bureau of Cuba’s Communist Party and first vice-president of the Councils of State and Ministers met on Monday with representatives of the Cuban Ecumenical Council at the building hosting the Cuban Council of Churches.
According to Granma newspaper, Diaz-Canel and the religious leaders welcomed the meeting, which focused on issue of common interest, such as the defense of social values and the importance of the family role with this regards.
The Cuban first vice-president insisted in the idea of identifying prosperity not only with economic development. Material improvement does not automatically lead to the creation of values, he said.
Council of Churches president Joel Ortega said that prosperous and sustainable socialism must also be participatory. He recalled the struggle of the Council for the return to Cuba of Elian Gonzalez and now for the release of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in US jails.
In a fraternal ambiance, participants put forward their concerns related to the youths, the media, the institutional order and theological education.
As to the role of the family in creating values and influencing behaviors, participants proposed to jointly share research studies on the issue, which have already been carried out by different centers, so that the out comes of those studies reach Cuban religious congregations.
Diaz-Canel addressed aspects related to the update of the Cuban economic model and he noted that the most complex stage will now come with the elimination of the double currency circulation, the salary and price reform and the changes relevant to the socialist state companies.
He stressed two issues that suggest joint work by state and religious institutions, such as permanent dialog to advance subjects of common interest and the preservation of unity, which is the paradigm of the Cuban nation.
The first vice-president also met with members of the Cuban Pastoral Platform for the reunification of the Cuban Five and their families and for the strengthening of the unity of Cuban families. The platform will address US President Barack Obama a letter demanding the release of the anti-terrorist Cubans. The dialog concluded with an ecumenical prayer.
Pastors for Peace Caravan Reaches Mexico in Route to Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, July 16 (acn) The 24th US-Cuba Pastors for Peace Friendship Caravan to Cuba arrived in Mexico on its way to the Caribbean nation with a humanitarian cargo, particularly tools and items to contribute to reconstruction efforts underway in eastern Cuba, a territory hard hit by hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
“We traveled throughout the United States and Canada, from Seattle to New York; from California to Southern United States, and we are heading for Cuba loaded with much love for our Cuban brothers and sisters,” said the Caravan’s coordination team member Manolo de los Santos in statements to Prensa Latina news agency.
We are also bringing medications, which have been prohibited for Cuba by the US administration’s blockade of the Caribbean nation, as well as tools to help the reconstruction of Santiago de Cuba, an eastern province severely affected by hurricane Sandy last year,” he said.
The Caravan also brings messages from the American people against the US blockade imposed by Washington, as well as voices for the freedom of the Cuban Five, as the anti-terrorist fighters held in US jails are internationally known, said de los Santos.
The action takes to blocs, one made up of 62 people, who will travel to Cuba, and another part made up of hundreds of thousands of persons who, all throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, joined the demand for the lifting of the US blockade of Cuba.
Manolo de los Santos announced a protest action in front of the US embassy in Mexico, which will send a message about the unity of the people in this continent against Washington’s hostile policy against Cuba and humanity.
“We are many, united in a single voice for Cuba and there we will join our friends from the Francisco Villa People’s Front, the Mexico-Cuba Solidarity Movement, the Ecclesial Observatory and other social organizations, the community and ecumenical groups,” said de los Santos.
In a message to the Cuban people, de los Santos said “we will arrive there on the 17th (July), but we from now we want to express our gratefulness because you (the Cuban people) constitute an example in our struggle, a daily inspiration to keep up with our fight; you prove that another world is possible an you are indicating the path to take,” he concluded.
Canadian Contigent Crosses the US Border with Aid for Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 15 (acn) A contingent from British Columbia, Canada, came to the United States with a batch of humanitarian goods destined for Cuba as part of the 24th Pastors for Peace Caravan.
The activists will tour the state of Washington for gathering more aid and updating the public on the negative impact of economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. to the Caribbean island for over half a century, Prensa Latina news agency reported.
Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba, said the convoy successfully crossed, on Sunday, the boundary point of White Rock-Blaine, in the U.S. northwest.
The shipment includes school and sanitation supplies donated in the cities of Waterloo, Toronto, Hamilton and Kingston, she told.
Hansen added that, before crossing the border, the group carried out some activities last weekend to highlight the importance of this solidarity initiative and show support for the Cuban Five Heroes imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998.
The current edition of the Interreligious Foundation for the Pastors for Peace Community Organization gathers nearly 100 activists from that country, Canada and Mexico, who intend touring at least 40 cities of their respective nations before July 18th.
In addition to articles for the educational and health sectors, this year the caravan also collects construction tools and supplies to help in the reconstruction of Santiago de Cuba province, severely affected by Hurricane Sandy last October.
Instead of using the traditional yellow buses, the caravan participants will move the aids on their own luggage and will fly from the U.S. to Mexico City and from there to Santiago de Cuba, where they remain from July 19 to 29.
Return of Cuban Antiterrorists Demanded in Miami
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 15 (acn) Organizations of Cuba’s emigration in Miami that are part of the Marti Alliance demanded the return of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, Cuban antiterrorists unfairly condemned in the United States.
Participants in the meeting, convened by the Antonio Maceo Brigade, the Marti Alliance, the José Marti Association, the ATC, the Bolivarian Circle of Miami and the Association of Christian Women in Defense of Family, received an update on the case, particularly on the process of appeal of these four fighters and on the activities of the political movement in favor of their return to their homeland, the Prensa Latina news agency reported on Monday.
Rene Gonzalez, the fifth man of the group, is back in Cuba after serving his sentence. Ramon, Fernando, Antonio and Gerardo are waiting for Judge Joan Lenard to respond to their extraordinary appeals, or habeas corpus, the last legal option they have.
The element common to the four appeals is the U.S. government’s conspiracy with some of the media and journalists of the city of Miami, to which it paid and directed to spark off a campaign of hatred against the accused.
Brazil and Cuba Foster Cooperation in the Tourist Sector
HAVANA, Cuba, July 16 (acn) Cuba’s Tourism minister Manuel Marrero and his Brazilian counterpart Gastao Diaz Vieira are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding in Brasilia to Foster bilateral cooperation in that economic sector.
The document will express the parties’ willingness to jointly work and look for ways to boost collaboration.
This is the second time, the two minister hold a working meeting after a first one that took place in the Cuban tourist center of Varadero last May, during the visit here by the Brazilian official. On that occasion Diaz Vieira headed his country’s delegation to the Cuban International Tourism Fair FitCuba 2013.
The Cuban minister will also meet with the president of the Brazlian Tourism Institute Flavio Dino, who is in charge of the implementation of the National Tourism Policy in terms of promotion, marketing and support to the commercialization of tourist destinations and products at the international market.
IFCO Launches New Civil Disobedience Challenge to the US Blockade of Cuba This July
IFCO/Pastors for Peace will launch a nationwide challenge to the US blockade of Cuba with nearly 100 faith-based and social justice activists from across the US, Canada and Mexico traveling to Cuba without the permission of the US government this July.
As part of the effort, organizers in more than 35 cities in the US, Canada and Mexico will participate in the 24th IFCO/Pastors for Peace US/Cuba Caravan week of activities July 8-15th aimed at educating local constituencies about the devastating effects of US policy toward the island.
“The blockade is a byzantine maze of US Cold War-era policies aimed at destabilizing our neighbors in Cuba -- from the ban on commercial transactions, which still stifles Cuba’s ability to get basic medicines to the travel ban which separates families, to putting Cuba on the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, which is absolutely absurd,” said Gail Walker, Co-Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. “How can we label a country which sends doctors and teachers around the world and trains thousands of young people to become doctors for the poor as terrorist?”
IFCO chooses to deliver its humanitarian aid without a government license because it believes that the government uses licensing to maintain control over the flow of aid - for its own political purposes. Father Luis Barrios, Co-Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace says, “By granting some licenses and not others, the government attempts to control which US organizations can send aid to Cuba and which cannot. IFCO believes that US government control of churches’ prerogative to give aid and charity violates the separation of church and state, which is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Instead the organization chooses to engage in this act of civil disobedience to oppose the unjust treatment of our Cuban brothers and sisters and to follow the teachings of the gospel, by providing ‘a cup of cold water.’”
As part of the civil disobedience challenge, caravanistas will carry with them humanitarian aid such as insulin, the majority of which is made by US companies and therefore difficult for Cuba to import. Caravanistas will travel to Cuba for nearly two weeks on July 18th for nearly two weeks of educational and faith-based activities.
Caravanistas will also bring construction tools and supplies to help in the reconstruction efforts in Santiago de Cuba, the eastern end of the island which was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. “Many communities of color in the Northeastern US are also recovering from Hurricane Sandy and we see this as an opportunity to show our solidarity and to learn from Cuba’s tremendous knowledge and experience in climate change preparedness,” said local New York City environmental activist Julien Terrell, who will participate in the caravan for the first time.
This is the 24th IFCO/Pastors for Peace US/Cuba Caravan since 1992 and is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which has been been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.
Solidarity With Cuba to Stop EU Common Stance
Berlin, Jul 5 (Prensa Latina) Organizations of solidarity with Cuba demanded today that the Lithuanian presidency of the European Union to stop the common stance against the island, for considering that it violates the basic principles of the international law.
In an open letter to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who assumed the EU presidency in early June, they highlighted that the bloc's stance affects the right to self determination of countries.
Thus, organizations of solidarity with Cuba from 17 European States sent copies of the letter to the presidents or Foreign ministers of their respective countries.
According to Edgar Goell, vrece president of the Network of solidarity with Cuba in Germany, the document was presented to the governments of Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Greece, Romania, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Malta and Lithuania.
In the document, they explain that the EU Common Stance about Cuba was elaborated in the year 1996, under the US political pressure, with the objective of intensifying its illegal blockade against Cuba.
They said that abolishing that decision would be consistent, because the EU member countries reject every year in the United Nations the US economic, trade and financial blockade against Cuba.
The German Network of solidarity with Cuba is demanding, together with the other 16 European organizations and networks, strengthening fair economic and respectful relations with Cuba.
"Climate protection, desertification, biodiversity, struggle against poverty, fair trade and the goals for a sustainable development, currently elaborated by the UN, would be points for a bilateral dialogue between the EU and Cuba," Goel told the news agency Prensa Latina.
In a press release, the German Network of Solidarity with Cuba also referred to the international scandal of US wire tapping against its European allies.
"This scandal could help the European Governments to understand the methods used by the United States, and Cuba has been a victim of this aggressive policy for 54 years," the communique concluded.
Cuba and Belgium Increase Collaboration
Havana.- Cuba and Belgium signed today a memorandum of agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MINREX) from Cuba and the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs from Belgium. The signing took place at MINREX headquarters in Cuba by vice minister of Foreign Relations, Rogelio Sierra, and the Belgian ambassador in Cuba, Luc Devolder.
Both sides considered the memorandum a progress in bilateral relations to show the political interest of both countries to develop and strengthen friendship ties and exchanges. They also expressed that the signing boosts the international collaboration according to the principles of United Nations charter.
In statements to the press, the Belgian diplomat said that the agreement includes meetings between ministries and embassies of both countries. (PL)
Fidel Castro Granted International Special Education Award
HAVANA, Cuba, July 5 (acn) The World Association of Special Education awarded Cuban Revolution leader with its Blue Heart Prize for having been the creator of the Dora Alonso special school, the first center in Cuba dedicated to treating Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
Education minister Ena Elsa Velasquez received the distinction on behalf of the Cuban leader during the closing ceremony of the First International Encounter on Autism and Inclusion, which was held at Havana’s Conventions Center.
The World Council of University Academics awarded other persons including Alberto Docampo and Mercedes Carracedo, parents of Michel, a young boy with autistic spectrum disorders, who is working at the library of the Dora Alonso special school. Michel was the presenter at the opening and closing ceremonies of the international event.
Raul Participates in Second Day of Sessions of the Cuban Parliament
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 7 (acn) The second day of sessions of the National Assembly of the People’s Power (ANPP) began on Sunday in this capital with the presence of Army General Raul Castro, President of the councils of State and Ministers.
In its First Ordinary Period of Sessions corresponding to the 8th Legislature, Cuban parliamentarians will know details about the development of the process of implementation of the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution.
Cuban Parliament Demands Freedom for the Five
HAVANA, Cuba, July 6 (acn) The National Assembly of Peoples’ Power called on parliaments and good-will people from around the world to urge US President Barack Obama to unconditionally release the antiterrorist Cubans held in US jails since 1998.
The Cuban deputies adopted a declaration during the opening of the Eighth Legislature of the Cuban Parliament, attended by President Raul Castro.
The declaration read that Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González are symbols of the dignity and patriotism of the Cuban people.
The first four Cubans are still imprisoned the US, while Rene Gonzalez is in Cuba after having met an over 12-year prison term and renounced his American citizenship as a condition to return to the island.
During the session, Gonzalez called for reinforced efforts to achieve the freedom of his compatriots.
The declaration pointed out that next September 12 will mark 15 years of unfair imprisonment in the United States of those men whose only mission was monitoring groups responsible for terrorist acts against Cuba.
The parliamentarians expressed gratefulness to heads of state and government and other personalities, who have taken a stance against the arbitrary treatment carried out against the Cuban Five, as the anti-terrorist fighters are internationally known.
The document also read that Barack Obama did not have any thing to do with the biased judicial process to which the Five were submitted, but it urges the US President to use his constitutional powers to free the Cubans immediately.
Honest people, the relatives and the Cuban people would appreciate such humanitarian gesture, said the deputies in the declaration.
Cuban Five Case is Priority for Cuba's Foreign Policy
HAVANA, Cuba, July 5 (acn) Cuba will intensify actions aimed at achieving justice in the case of the antiterrorist fighters held in US prisons since 1998. The Cuban Five issue is priority for the country’s Foreign Policy, said deputy foreign minister Ana Teresita Gonzalez.
Addressing deputies with the Parliament Commission on International Affairs at Havana’s Conventions Palace, Gonzalez said that some of the actions considered by the Foreign Ministry include an international colloquium in Havana beginning September 12, a day that will mark fifteen years of the imprisonment of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González. The latter one is already free in Cuba.
The initiatives will mainly aim at breaking the silence wall raised by the US mainstream media against the case and at informing public opinion in that country about the injustice committed against the Cuban Five.
The deputy foreign minister briefed lawmakers on legal actions filed with US courts, which include a Habeas Corpus and a Discovery Motion allowing the judge in charge to order the release of confidential documents in the hands of the US administration.
Cuba is still waiting to hear a word from Washington in this process, which has been delayed despite the growing international support of the Cuban Five cause expressed through statements by personalities, such as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay.
Presidents of five countries joined the international claim over the past six months, said the deputy minister. The world claim has also been backed by Nobel laureates and important figures from the political and culture arenas.
Speaking with reporters, Adriana Perez, who is the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, called for actions on the social Internet networks and alternative media in order to break the silence of the mainstream media.
Perez also stressed the need to reach out to international institutions and agencies backing the cause and to all those who have not yet joined in, in order to have Washington take a fair and humanitarian decision with respect to the Cuban Five case.
President Barack Obama can give a definitive solution to the case and end the anguish of these patriots and their families after nearly 15 years of suffering, said Perez.
The Cuban Economy Advances, Despite Adverse External Factors
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 6 – Although not without internal and external tensions, there was a general positive development of the Cuban economy in the first semester of 2013, as reiterated on Saturday during the meeting of the National Assembly of the People’s Power.
Met at Havana’s Convention Center, in the presence of Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (CC of the PCC) and President of the councils of State and Ministers, deputies listened to a summary of the development of the island’s economy so far this year.
This topic was analyzed during a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers and in permanent working commissions of the top legislative organ.
Adel Yzquierdo, member of the Politburo of the CC of the PCC, vice-president of the Council of Ministers, and Minister of Planning and the Economy, informed that a 2.3 percent increase of the Gross Domestic Product has been estimated for this stage, two decimals higher than in the same period of 2012.
He referred to the slowing down –in economic growth- that will be appreciated at the end of the year, in correspondence with the world economic situation, national financial problems and difficulties to obtain external finances, among factors that will undeniably have a bearing on figures planned not to be achieved.
He pointed out that a 2.5 to 3 percent increase is expected, lower than the 3.6 planned.
While going into great detail about economic indicators, the Minister highlighted that he balance of trade is favorable and that it will continue being so throughout the year, taking an increase in exports and a reduction of imports as a starting point.
Regarding internal finances, he underlined positive results in the payment of debts contracted by the country, an aspect in which a strict follow-up has been maintained, which has resulted in greater credibility with respect to Cuba.
In investments, in spite of a 16 percent growth, there will be lack of fulfilment by the end of the year, he said, and stressed that poorly prepared investments, low productivity, difficulties with projects and incorrect planning continue encumbering this activity
Struggle against Illegalities: a Priority of the People’s Power
HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 6 – Cuban Parliament President Esteban Lazo, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (CC of the PCC), asserted on Saturday in this capital that the struggle against social indiscipline, illegalities and crime is among the priorities of the People’s Power.
In the presence of Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the CC of the PCC and President of the councils of State and Ministers, and of deputies to the National Assembly of the People’s Power, Lazo underlined that this issue was analyzed with the population in the recent process of rendering of accounts of delegates at constituencies.
He pointed out that it’s a battle in which public awareness needs to be increased and that the battle should be won with participation of the people, explaining that, due to its importance, this aspect was on the agenda of the 98 ordinary sessions held at municipal level and 10 at provincial level.
His participation on Saturday in the First Ordinary Period of the 8th Legislature of Parliament was aimed at informing about the work carried out by the deputies and auxiliary organs of the top Cuban legislative organ, since its creation on February 24, including its leadership.
Lazo pointed out that, during the meetings held with authorities of each territory, with deputies and local delegates, analyses were made on economic and social issues linked to the fulfillment of production plans, quality, the budget, saving, and the struggle against social indiscipline, illegalities and crime.
Lawmakers Analyze Economic Changes in Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba , Jul 6 (acn) T he members of the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP by its Spanish acronym) discussed today in this city the changes in the existing relationships of the socialist state enterprise and the government budget.
In his speech, Marino Murillo Jorge, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Vice President of the Council of Ministers, said that these entities, according to the guidelines of the plan for 2014, will keep their amortization funds.
He also referred to the recently approved flexibility policy of corporate social purpose, which has among its advantages once the entities´ main mission is fulfilled; their officers have the authority to undertake other tasks.
When referring to the economic transformations carried out so far, Murillo said it has been taken into account the principle that all economic actors (such as cooperatives) must operate on equal terms.
Meanwhile, Adel Yzquierdo, Minister of Economy and Planning, reflected with the lawmakers about the fundamental issues impeding economic growth foreseen for the current year.
Yzquierdo stressed that GDP should close at the end of 2013 between 2.5 and 3.0 percent, lower than the estimated 3.6.
He noted that the main reasons of this decrease were the effects of Hurricane Sandy and Cuban economy’s shortcomings.
In this regard, he pointed out the affectation on foreign currency earnings due to lower nickel prices, the decline in tourist arrivals, deficiencies in services in this important sector and investment defaults.
Cuban National Assembly Passes Maritime Legislation
HAVANA, Cuba, July 6 (acn) The Cuban Parliament adopted a new maritime navigation law during the first session of the 8th Legislation, underway till Sunday at Havana’s Conventions Palace.
The legislation is in tune with ongoing economic, political and social transformations in the country, said Transportation minister Cesar Arocha.
The new law is the result of over 15 years of work by state institutions linked to maritime, river and lake navigation, said the minister.
The legal document now regulates navigation in Cuban territorial waters, its exclusive economic zone and inner water courses, lakes and reservoirs, plus related services. It is also relevant to merchant, fishing, sports navigation, and other issues related to boats on commercial, scientific, tourist, or recreational activity.
Also included in the legislation is the rescue of people under international norms, and international maritime treaties and conventions of which Cuba is a signatory country.
Cuba did not count on an updated legislation on the issue, so the navigation activities were regulated by obsolete legal instruments.
The most recent regulation in force was the Spanish Trade Code, extended to the island by a Royal Decree that dated from January 1886. (rhc)
CELAC Statement in Solidarity with Evo Morales
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) expresses its serious concern over the events that occurred on July 2, when some European governments refused or withdrawn suddenly and without explanation whatsoever, the over flight and landing permits to the President Plurinational State of Bolivia's official plane, Evo Morales, forcing him to make an emergency landing at the international airport of Vienna, Austria.
We express our rejection of these unjustifiable acts that jeopardized the security of the President of Bolivia and were contrary to freedom of movement and immunity jurisdiction enjoyed by any Head of State.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States stands in solidarity with President Evo Morales and the brotherly people of Bolivia.
The CELAC demand the clarification of the facts which constitute a violation of international law, and explanations that might arise.
Canadian Airline Inaugurates Flights to Jardines del Rey
CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, Jul 7 (acn) Rouge Airlines, of the Air Canada tour operator, began operations in Cuba on Saturday with a flight from Toronto to Jardines del Rey.
Manuel Yánez, local representative of Canada Vacances, told the press that the new itinerary responds to a strategy of expansion and to the purchasing of fur airplanes, two of which will fly to the Caribbean and the rest to Europe. A total of 139 passengers flew on Saturday to Cayo Coco, including 135 students who, for a decade now, visit the region during their vacation.
Mercedes Abreu, president of the Cubanacán travel agency, specified that her entity will be in charge of receiving these weekly flights.
Raul Castro Stresses Importance of Guidelines in Cuba's Development
Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro stressed the importance of a well prepared program such as that we have in the guidelines approved by the 6th Congress of the Party for the development of the country.
Speaking at the first plenary session of the 8th Legislature of the Parliament, Raul Castro said yesterday that to pay attention to the theory, discuss all these issues together with the people, and re-explain what they do not understand, is essential.
The country's main lines of development should have to be discussed in the future, for the people, as we did with the draft guidelines, debated in the Congress of the Party, and also by the legislators in the National Assembly, the Cuban president added. All what is approved should be checked twice a year as we have done, he said.
On the other hand, the Cuban president suggested that legislators should take a diploma course in the Higher School for Cadres, to achieve greater preparation in the complex issues of the economy, and on the profound changes that are being implemented in the country. Cuba has to diversify its production and living on its own resources, Raul Castro stated.
Raul Castro Urges to Face Challenges Confident of Victory
Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro urged to face challenges with determination and confident of victory at the closing ceremony of the first ordinary session of the 8th Legislature of the Parliament.
The 60th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Garrisons is about to celebrate. Let's face new challenges with the same determination and unshakable faith in victory the head of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, has always taught us, the President said on Sunday.
Raul Castro called on people to join to the battle against social indiscipline that have caused moral and material damage.
The update of the socio-economic model in Cuba demands a permanent atmosphere of order, discipline and demand, he said.
The Cuban president stated as a first step to recognize the existence of the problem and dig up into the causes and conditions that have resulted.
We have seen along more than 20 years of the special period the increased deterioration of moral and civic values such as honesty, decency, shame, decorum, and sensitivity to others' problems, he acknowledged.
Raul Castro highlighted the importance of family and school in the formation of moral values and described as incompatible some expressions of indiscipline taking place in several levels of education.
The president said that the state and government bodies, among them the police, the comptroller, the attorney's office, and the courts must contribute to this effort, giving an example of strict adherence to law.
At the same time, he urged workers, peasants, students, youth, teachers, intellectuals, artists, journalists, religious entities, authorities, the most worthy Cubans do theirs the duty to fulfill and enforce what is established.
The Cuban president also said that the monetary duality is one of the major obstacles for the progress of the nation and should be advanced toward unification. The studies for the removal of this monetary duality have continued, he said before stating that we pretend to eliminate it "in an orderly and comprehensive manner, to undertake far-reaching changes" in terms of wages, pensions, prices and tariffs, subsidies, and taxes.
About the economy of the country, Raul Castro assessed that the performance during the first semester of the year was positive, despite external tensions, damages caused by Hurricane Sandy and "our own" failures.
The Cuban president denounced the recent expressions of the philosophy of domination of the United States as a proof that all countries of the South are in danger.
In such sense, he stated that Cuba supports the legitimate demands and statements by the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Uruguay, and other Latin American and Caribbean leaders.
He also called for the mobilization of the international public opinion, to the strong denunciation and firm condemnation of threats against Ecuador and outrage against Evo Morales and all Our America.
The Cuban head of State expressed his country's support to the sovereign right of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and of all States of the region to grant asylum to those persecuted for their ideals or struggles for the democratic rights, according to our tradition.
About this issue, he referred to the recent revelations of U.S. citizen Edward Snowden, confirming the existence of U.S. global espionage systems in violation of the sovereignty of nations, even their allies, and human rights.
Raul Castro supported President Nicolas Maduro's statement of not giving shelter and denying extradition to Venezuela of an international terrorist such as Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of the midair bombing of a Cubana de Aviacion airplane with 73 passengers, while pretend that this sister nation does not exercise its legitimate right.
He also endorsed the call for all the world's parliaments and personalities committed to justice so they claim U.S. authorities the release of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez, as September 12 marks the 15th anniverary of their unjust imprisonment for fighting against terrorism.
Cuba: Nearly Half a Million Non State Workers
Havana, July 8 (Prensa Latina) Cuba now has 429,000 state workers, said here today Vice President of Ministers Council Marino Murillo.
According to the leader, a few years ago who worked in these forms of management were barely 157,000 and now hover around half a million people.
In the report submitted by Murillo to MEPs who meet the first regular session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power, it was learned on the progress of non-state employment, also known as self.
In this regard, the Vice President said that the creation of 126 cooperatives demonstrate the political will to strengthen this area. Of these, most are agricultural, but also dedicated to passenger transport and recycling.
These cooperatives, he said, have full support of the government and shall meet, in a sustainable way, the growing needs of goods and services in society.
He also reported that soon will start working another 71 companies of this type, which participate in trade and gastronomy, small construction industry and in the production of food and beverages.
Murillo advanced before the deputies that it will be released in a few days a legal rule that will define the scope of non-state workers, "to avoid indiscipline" on time.
On the same day, Vice President announced that the Caribbean island implemented new ways of financing public debt, with the intention to keep under control the primary issue of currency and inflation, among other economical measures.
Cooperativism in Cuba to Raise Efficiency, Productivity
Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) The promotion of cooperativism, enshrined in the updating process of the Cuban economic model, is a form of management thet seeks to improve efficiency and productivity in the country.
With that purpose, 124 coperatives start functioning last July 1 in sectors like construction, transportation, collection of wastes and agricultural markets.
This form of management began to operate in these associations, a decision supported by the Guidelines approved by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba which is a novel experience after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, when those linked to the agricultural sector were created.
The head of the Business Improvement Group of the Standing Commission for Implementation and Development, Grisel Tristá, told Cuban press, that "With this measure we are commiting ourselves to look for, in cooperative, activities that have not been efficient at the state level, this also allows the state to get rid of matters which are not transcendental in the development of the economy.
In this first group, 112 arise from the state sector and 12 from the non-state, the latter consisting of self-employed workers mainly.
Cuban Legislators for Transforming Agriproductive Model
Havana, July 5 (Prensa Latina) The need to transform Cuban agriculture's productive model prevailed in debates among Parliament members during the second day of session of the Agrifood Committee of the National Assembly of the People's Power (Parliament).
There has been "important progress" in animal food; however, the growth registered in some productions oriented for human consumption are still insufficient, said Sergio Rodriguez, Director of the National Institute of Tropical Root Vegetables.
According to Rodriguez, the growth in agriculture is far from what is needed to achieve food sovereignty in the Island, but there are potentials
Cuba relies on three key elements to face current challenges in agriculture: political will, the farmers' technical knowledge and high scientific potential, and the challenge is to combine them all, said the expert.
Cuba to Graduate Over 2,700 Medicine Students
Havana, Jul 7 (Prensa Latina) The University of Medical Sciences of Havana (ELAM) will graduate more than 2,700 new health professionals this academic year, said Cosme More Cuesta, chief of Information of the higher educational institute.
From the total of graduates, over 800 of them come from 29 nations, which have joined the Latin American School of Medicine project, with leading participation of Bolivia, Ecuador y Guatemala.
The first group of students from the People's Republic of China will graduate the current academic year.
More Cuesta said that the central Graduation ceremony for medicine students in stomatology, nursing, psychology, and health technology specialities will take place on
July 23 in the Cuban capital. The ELAM will also make a farewell activity to foreign scholars on July 24.
Recent data, published by experts from the Cuban Ministry of Health, revealed that more than 10,500 students will receive their degrees of Doctor in Medicine this year. Of that total, 5,683 are Cubans and 4,843 of them come from 70 nations.
Raul Castro: Communist Party Leaders Must be at the Forefront of the Struggle against all Difficulties
HAVANA, Cuba, July 3 (acn) Communist Party leaders must face the problems and foresee the future scenarios, said the first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party Raul Castro Ruz as he gave the closing remarks of the 7th plenary session of the political organization on Monday, June 1st.
“We must be at the forefront and look into each difficulty that may surface in order to find its causes,” said Raull as he insisted that it is crucial to involve the people in solving problems. “This is one of the major tasks of the Party,” he pointed out.
Raul Castro made his reflections as he referred to manifestations of indiscipline taking place in Cuban society, and he added that he will further address the issue at the upcoming 7th session of the National Assembly.
The Communist Party plenary session agreed to release some members of the Central Committee, including Ricardo Alarcon, who chaired the National Parliament till February 2013; Jose Miguel Miyar Barruecos, former Science and Technology minister till March 2012; Misael Enamorado Dager, who was member of the Party’s Secretariat; Orlando Lugo Fonte, former president of the Small Farmer’s Association, and Liudmila Alamo, former first secretary of the Young Communist League.
Addressing the changes carried out, considered a natural process, Raul recalled that the First National Party Conference agreed that the members of party committees at all levels must present their resignation to their posts when they consider that the reasons for which they were elected do not exist anymore, and this does not constitute a reproachable attitude or a demerit, Raul pointed out.
Raul Castro submitted a report on the performance of the Political Bureau between December 2012 and July 2013 and he explained that major tasks included the adoption of the specific rules of the Central Committee, provincial and municipal committees, policy of cadres, as well as the implementation of the objectives adopted of the First Party Conference.
Second Communist Party Secretary, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, addressed the work of the secretariat and the auxiliary staff of the Central Committee in the implementation of the social and economic guidelines adopted by the political organization.
In his report, the second secretary said that major and recurrent issues debated at party meetings include the economic plans, the budget performance and the accords adopted by the 7th Party Congress. The document also stresses the need to improve the action of administrative and political leaders and decrease the large number of unnecessary meetings and bureaucratic methods, to really achieve a change of mindset as called by the Communist Party Congress and Conference.
Economy and Planning minister Adel Yzquierdo addressed the economic plan and the budget performance for the first half of the year, and Marino Murillo, who heads the commission for the implementation of the social and economic guidelines, referred to the work carried out over the past six months. These two reports were approved by the most recent meeting of the Council of Ministers for their further presentation for debate at the upcoming session of the National Parliament.
Cuba Rejects Permission Cancellation for Bolivian Presidential Plane
Havana, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) Cuba described today as unacceptable and arbitrary action the denial or cancellation by several European governments of permissions for the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales to overfly their airspace or land.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the island said in a statement that the stance of those countries offends all Latin America and the Caribbean.
France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal refused yesterday night to allow the flight of the Bolivian presidential airplane by their respective airspace, based on the alleged presence in the apparatus of former agent of the U.S. National Security Agency Edward Snowden.
Morales returned to his country after attending in Russia a Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, and his aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Austria.
The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls that a few days ago, the United States threatened Ecuador with coercive economic measures, saying that "this action can not be tolerated for any reason, injures all our America, and deserves international condemnation."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows with serious concern the events of recent weeks, related to Snowden's relevant complaints.
The note states that such revelations "confirm the existence of a global spying system by the United States government in violation to the States sovereignty and the rights of the people."
Cuba calls the international community to mobilize against these violations of International Law and human rights, the document concludes.
Cuban Parliament Commissions Open Sessions this Week
HAVANA, Cuba, July 2 (acn) The ten permanent commissions of the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power will open working sessions Thursday and Friday, this week, prior to the First Session of the Eight Legislature to take place Saturday at Havana’s Conventions Center.
According to Granma newspaper, the commission will consider the results of the latest internal control process carried out by the General Comptroller’s Office and they will also address their working plans according to their priorities for the second half of the year.
The Commission on Constitutional and Legal Issues and Attention to Services will analyze and approve a draft document to be submitted to the Parliament about the Bill on Maritime, River and Lake Navigation, which will be debated by the parliamentary session.
The Commission on Economic Issues will address the report on the 2012 Budget, which will be presented by the Finance and Price Ministry.
As announced by last Friday’s Council of Ministers, the Assembly will also consider reports on the performance of Cuban economy and the budget for the first half of the year.
The National Assembly’s Eight Legislature was set up last Februry 24 with 612 deputies, who represent 168 municipalities. The lawmakers were elected by direct and secret vote by over 7.8 million voters.
Cuba Highlighted as a Key Element for Caribbean Studies
Havana, July 2 (Prensa Latina) Rector of Quisqueya University, Haiti, Jacky Lumarque, said here today that Cuba is a key element for studies about the Caribbean.
In our opinion, the University of Havana is one of the best as it constitutes a model in the universalization of thinking not only limited to this region, but to the world in general, Lumarque told journalists.
Cuba is essential for us, and though it seems to be tiny, it is a great nation, he said.
Cuba has the virtue and culture to share what it has, highlighted the leader of the Regional Conference of Rectors, Presidents and Principals of University Institutions and Members of the University Francophonie Agency in the Caribbean (CORPUCA), which is holding its 11th Conference in the Jose Marti Studies Center, in this capital.
"Our objective is to get closer, be more in touch with the University of Havana; in fact, today we will sign an agreement to use better the available resources," he said.
Caribbean Festival Opens Today in Santiago de Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, July 3 (acn) The 33rd Caribbean Festival opens on Wednesday at its usual venue in the western Cuban city with an artistic gala. The event is dedicated this year to the Colombian Caribbean people and their culture.
The Festival, underway July 3-9 at the Heredia Theater, is considered the most important event of its kind in the region given its features and large participation over the past three decades.
Guests from Colombia, Venezuela, Curacao, Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and other nations will enjoy an attractive program of activities, including a photo exhibition recalling the passage on Santiago by hurricane Sandy and the efforts by the people to recover from the huge damage inflicted by the storm.
The Festival of Fire, as the event is also known, gathers intellectuals, researchers and artistic groups that will expose the cultural richness of the Caribbean region.
European Solidarity Brigade Arrives in Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, July 1 (acn) Some 120 members of the 43rd European Solidarity-with-Cuba Brigade were welcomed on Monday by Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) officials at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, in the western province of Artemisa.
The activists come from Sweden, Spain, Italy, Greece, the U.K., Denmark and other nations. They will meet an agenda until July 19, which includes voluntary work at agricultural fields and visits to education and historic centers.
In welcoming the brigade, ICAP vice-president Elio Gamez said that over 2 thousand organizations from 152 countries of the world maintain friendly and solidarity relations with Cuba. He thanks the activists and underscored the first visit to the island by some of them.
Italian activist Maria Ivona Tamburello told reporters that she feels at home in Cuba, where she has visited more than 15 times to express her support, and Arvonihs Stowatis, from Greece, praised the Cuban education system which, he said, is quite different from that one in his country.
Cuba Adopts Cooperative Formula to Boost Economic Development
HAVANA, Cuba, July 1 (acn) As part of the strategy to implement the update of the Cuban economic model, 124 new cooperatives began operations on Monday in the sectors of construction, transportation, recycling and produce marketing.
In statements to Granma daily newspaper, the head of the Entrepreneurial Group with the Guidelines Implementation Commission, Grisel Trista Arbesu, said that the initiative aims at trying cooperative management in activities that former stage formulas were not efficient.
A group of 99 out of the 124 new cooperatives operate farmer markets in the western provinces of Havana, Artemisa and Mayabeque; two work in the recycling sector and 12 are linked to construction activities.
There are six cooperatives offering vehicle maintenance services and others supporting passenger transportation, operating as taxi cabs, and school buses.
Even when transportation prices are determined by offer and demand, some activities and products maintain topped prices, such as staples like rice, potatoes and green peas, as well as passenger transportation tickets.
The cooperatives will play an important role in the country’s economy, though the main task is to be carried out by state companies, said Ruben Toledo, member of the Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Guidelines adopted by the Communist Party. He noted that the cooperatives are not the result of privatization, but of a process in which they will manage state property that belongs to the people. (RHC)
International Red Cross Extols Cuban Response to Hurricanes
Santiago de Cuba, Jul 2 (Prensa Latina) Santiago Luengo, delegate of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation for the operation to help on the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Cuba, extolled here the social response of Cuba before these events.
Luengo talked about the communitarian actions, to the social approach, and said that they are impressive and worthy to be recognized, in addition to a support of great value for the work of those institutions. He alluded to a workshop made in recent days with representatives of the five Eastern provinces of Cuba, to enable to obtain safer houses and ceilings, as part of the contribution to face natural catastrophes better.
"The volunteers of the Red Cross and Red Crescent should prepare the communities to detect vulnerabilities in the surroundings and risks in the houses and create the capacities to alleviate or solve those problems," said Luengo.
Also he emphasized in the use of a tape in the covers, as a new tool in Cuba and of proven effectiveness in other nations in similar circumstances, with his mouldable stainless steel structure that increases to the resistance before winds and intense rains.
Fidel Castro Granted Honoris Causa in Military Sciences
HAVANA, Cuba, July 3 (acn) Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro was granted in Havana the title Honoris Causa in Military Sciences by the Academy of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
President Raul Castro received the title during a ceremony in which, Military Academy director, General Urbelino Betancourt, stressed the outstanding contribution by Fidel Castro to the creation and development of the Cuban military doctrine and his commitment to the defense of the people and the humblest causes.
Also acknowledged was Fidel’s strategic role in internationalist missions in Africa, during the October missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion, PL news agency reported.
The granting of the title was part of ongoing activities marking the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.
Morales: Authorization Denial Was no Mistake or Coincidence
La Paz, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales assured today the last days' event was no mistake or coincidence, but an action part of the imperial policy against the Bolivian people.
When referring to the denial by European countries of allowing his plane to fly over their air spaces after returning from Russia, Morales stressed that apologies are not enough.
"Our crime is being indigenous and anti-imperialist", underlined the leader during a governmental ceremony referring to the stance adopted by Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, that countries that denied the overflight authorization.
Such prohibition emerged because U.S. ex NSA agent Edward Snowden, pursues by Washington for leaking confidential information, was aboard the presidential plane.
The United States and the involved European countries were aware that the ex agent was not aboard the plane since they have enough means and their own intelligence structure, Morales noted. "An apology is not enough", reaffirmed the leader, assuring he will demand the international treaties and regulations be respected.
"We have learned, along with the people, to defend the sovereignty and dignity" stressed Morales, who arrived in Bolivia on Wednesday after being stranded in Vienna for many hours, a situation he considered a kidnapping.
In the afternoon, Morales will meet his counterparts of the Union of Southern Nations (Unasur), after arriving to Bolivia from Russia and the unusual and criticized event.
On the other hand, the Bolivian government gave back to the U.S. embassy an extradition request of ex NSA agent Edward Snowden presented on Wednesday, for considering it illegal and groundless, the Foreign Ministry reported today.
A foreign Ministry communiqué also reaffirmed Snowden never met President Evo Morales in Russia and he did not get on the presidential plane, a rumour that brought about the suspension of the overflight authorization when the leader returned from Moscow.
Bolivia Calls UN for Condemnation of Attack on President Morales
United Nations, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) Bolivia called United Nations today to prevent that the actions carried out by France and Portugal against the plane of president Evo Morakes remain unpunished.
In a letter delivered to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the government of the South American country urged to prevent that it would pave the way to a harmful precedent that could affect other dignitaries and endanger peaceful coexistence between states.
The letter, which Prensa Latina had access, was signed by Bolivia's permanent representative to the world body, Sacha Llorenti, and details the actions of the French, Portuguese and Spanish authorities against the presidential ship.
The text describes the behavior as flagrant violation of international law and personal security and freedom of Bolivian president.
He has committed a breach of the most basic rules of diplomacy to which states are bound, underlined the text.
An unjustifiable aggression on the constitutionally elected President by virtue of his political position, which certainly bothers global powers who believe they still have imperial authority over the nations of the world, it added.
Bolivia's letter asks the UN chief to report to the international community to avoid that what happened remain unpunished and prevent dangerous precedent that could affect other head of States.
And to pronounce himself against that action that clearly prove that the freedom and most basic rights can be subjected to the interests of the few at the expense of the majority.
Morales was traveling on Tuesday back to La Paz after participating in Moscow at a meeting of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries when in full flight, authorities in France, Spain and Portugal withdrew the previously granted permission to fly through their airspace.
Pastors for Peace On the Road again to Challenge US Blockade of Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, July 3 (acn) Nearly 100 activists from across the United States, Canada and Mexico will travel to Cuba onboard the 24th Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan, which will first tour 35 cities in the US Canada and Mexico to collect humanitarian aid and expose the effects of the over-50-year US economic, commercial and financial blockade of the Caribbean nation.
According to a news release by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)-Pastors for Peace, the action is taking place this month in open defiance of the US government by not requesting a license to travel to the island and bring humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, as it has been the case over the past 23 previous caravans that visited the island over the past years.
The activists will take their continental tour until July 15 to educate local constituencies about the devastating effects of the US’s anti-Cuba policy, the release explains.
Washington’s Cuba policy “bans freely traded commercial transactions, which stifles Cuba’s ability to get basic medicines, it bans US citizens from traveling freely to Cuba, and puts Cuba on the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, said Gail Walker, Co-Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace.
IFCO chooses to deliver its humanitarian aid without a government license because it believes that the government uses licensing to maintain control over the flow of aid for its own political purposes, the release points out.
The humanitarian aid to be brought to Cuba includes insulin, the majority of which is made by US companies and therefore difficult for Cuba to import; construction tools and supplies to help in the reconstruction efforts in Santiago de Cuba, the eastern end of the island which was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“Many communities of color in the Northeastern US are also recovering from Hurricane Sandy and we see this as an opportunity to show our solidarity and to learn from Cuba’s tremendous knowledge and experience in climate change preparedness,” said local New York City environmental activist Julien Terrell, who will participate in the caravan for the first time.
Caravanistas will travel to Cuba for nearly two weeks on July 18th for nearly two weeks of educational and faith-based activities.
IFCO/Pastors for Peace have brought humanitarian caravans to Cuba since 1992, led by renowned late Revered Lucius Walker, who was widely known and admired by the Cuban people. The organization has worked for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.
Cuban Legislators Debate on General Comptroller
Havana, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) Legislators to the Cuban National Assembly of People's Power are debating today in this capital about the functions and work of the General Comptroller of the Republic (CGR), during the first session of the 10 Cuban Parliament committees.
About this issue, the CGR acknowledged that among the challenges under discussion are the inexperience and insufficient implementation of control mechanisms.
Representatives of the General Comptroller office stated that Cuba needs to work "with order, discipline and exigency" to come true the working lines approved during the Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, known as Guidelines.
In recent years, the Cuban government has promoted policies for the preservation of finance and the economic and administrative control.
The correct and transparent management of public heritage, and the prevention and fight against corruption are the CGR tasks presented and discussed here today.
During the session, legislators urged to use the statistical economic information for decision making and accountability, in search for an efficient and effective enterprise. In the first ordinary session of the 8th Legislature, convened for Saturday, July 6, the Draft Bill of Maritime, River, and Lake Navigation, among other, will be discussed.
Cuba Makes Progresses and Results Notices, Raul Castro Says
Havana, Jul 1 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Raul Castro said the country is making progresses and results are noticing, during a meeting with the Council of Ministers, in which the analysis of the economic issues was the main point during the sessions, Granma newspaper reported.
We move at a faster pace than what is imagined those who criticize our supposed slowness and ignore the difficulties we face, the president said during the meeting, held June 28.
Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Yzquierdo, who presented the report on the implementation of the Economy Plan at the end of 2013 first half, said the country considers a growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2.3 percent, two tenths higher than that registered in the same period last year.
Most of activities record increases, of them, trade, transport, communications and manufacturing are noted for their contribution to the GDP, the minister said.
According to Yzquierdo, social services are maintained at similar levels to those of 2012, and the rest of the economy grows by 2.9 percent, which is consistent with the policy of encouraging material production and ensure social services, as of greater efficiency.
For the end of the year, we expect a growth between 2.5 and three percent, below 3.6 percent forecast, in which the international environment in Latin America has also influenced, he added.
The minister stated that exports grow by more than five percent compared with the same period in 2012, while the country save $168 million USD in food imports, to achieve lower prices in purchasing many products.
Another issue discussed at the meeting was the failure in public transportation by bus, mainly caused by the deterioration of the technical condition of the equipment and insufficient management of the Ministry of Transport and the Provincial Offices to ensure timely the supply of parts and pieces.
It was also reported that investments and constructions were nine percent lower than planned, although it grows by 16.6 percent compared with the same period last year.
On the subject, Raul Castro reiterated the urgency of requiring absolute order in constructions. This is not to ban, but to build where conditions exist for it, he said.
On the other hand, Finance and Prices Minister Lina Pedraza stated that the State Budget closed with a slight surplus during the first half of the year.
The report of the State Budget for 2012 was approved by the members of the Council of Ministers to be submitted to the National People's Power Assembly. As a last item of the meeting, a result of the implementation in the last few months of the Guidelines approved by the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba was presented .
Raul Castro Welcomes North Korean Military Delegation
Havana, July 2 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro welcomed in this capital Kim Kyok Sik, Chief of General Staff of the Army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Both leaders talked about the historic ties between their countries, and expressed the common will to continue the relations, Cuba's nightly TV news program reported yesterday.
DPRK ambassador to Havana Jon Yong Jin, and Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba, Army Corps General Leopoldo Cintra Frias participated in the meeting.
The visiting top official expressed the FAR minister that during his stay on the island he could have seen the country's successes in defense of socialism against the aggressions of the United States.
Kim Kyok Sik is leading his country's delegation, responding an invitation by the FAR.
Alicia Alonso Tribute to Cuban Internationalists Fallen in Africa
Havana, Jul 1 (Prensa Latina) Prima ballerina Alicia Alonso paid tribute in South Africa to Cuban internationalists who died in the liberation fights of many African nations.
Sources of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) point out that the founder of that company visited the Freedom Park, in the northern city of Pretoria, where a monument lists the names of about 2.000 Cubans who died in combat there.
The prestigious dancer, along with members of the BNC and diplomatic corps representatives of Cuba in South Africa, placed a wreath at the obelisk and highlighted the ties of friendship between the two nations.
Alonso traveled to Johannesburg to attend the gala in her honor hosted by internationally renowned companies as English National Ballet, Dresden Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet, South Korea Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and South African Mzansi Ballet.
In the dancing world, Alicia Alonso is one of the most important figures of recent times and she is the highest figure of ballet in Ibero-America.
Zimbabwe Supports Cuban Struggle for the Cuban Five and against US Blockade
HAVANA, Cuba, June 29 (acn) Zimbabwe will continue to back Cuba’s struggle for the release of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the United States since 1998, said the president of that country’s Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, Lovemore Gwati.
An article published Saturday on Africa.com website cites the activist as saying that Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, internationally known as the Cuban Five, were arrested in September 1998 on spurious charges of conspiracy to commit espionage, murder and acting as agents of a foreign government.
The five Cubans were not given a fair trial, said Lovemore Gwati, who recalled that though the Cuban government passed on to the FBI documentation that the youths were on a mission to gather information about US-based organizations that planned terrorist attacks on Cuba, the Five were unfairly arrested and imprisoned.
Rene Gonzalez has been the only one of the five Cubans who has returned to the island after having met an over-13-year prison sentence. Upon his release from jail, he was forced on three-year probation on US territory. However, US authorities approved in 2013 his request to modify his parole conditions and stay in Cuba in exchange for the renouncing of his American citizenship.
Speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwean Chapter of the 2nd International Campaign for the Freedom of the Cuban Five on Saturday, the president of Zimbabwe’s Committee said that the two countries would continue to stand together as they were both facing what he described as western intrusion. Lovemore Gwati also said that Zimbabwe would continue its call for the lifting of the over-50-year US economic blockade imposed on the Caribbean nation.
Cuba Hosts Autism Meeting
Havana, Jul 2 (Prensa Latina) The international meeting "Autism and Inclusion" begins its activities today in Havana, with the development of several seminars to discuss important aspects of this problem.
Communication, in all its forms and alternative systems for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), didactics and inclusive curriculum directed at caring for ASD students, and the assessment, diagnosis and intervention process for those affected are some of the issues under discussion.
The opening session is scheduled for Wednesday, July 3, at the Conference Center in Havana, and the international poster exhibition will open later, according to the schedule for the event.
Experts from 25 countries have confirmed their attendance at the forum, which has a scientific agenda that includes lectures, exchanges of experience, and visits to specialized centers, among other activities.
Parallel to this event is the workshop "Diagnosis for quality educational care" as well as the Family Network Forum for Persons with Autism.
Autism is a disease of unknown cause, difficult to diagnose, and whose treatment is very expensive worldwide.
It manifests itself in the first years of life, and usually affects communication skills and language, social relations, and interpersonal empathy, in addition to encouraging the appearance of repetitive behavior patterns.
Cuba to Host International Workshop on Renewable Energy Sources
Matanzas, Cuba, July 2 (Prensa Latina) Promoting sustainable energy and socioeconomic development based on renewable energy sources and environmental respect will be the objectives of an International Workshop to be held in Varadero, Cuba, in April, 2014.
Juan Veliz, vice president of the organizing committee, told Prensa Latina that the meeting, named Cubasolar, will be attended by a large number of foreign experts from some 10 nations.
"Priority topics of the forum will include food, water supply and renewable energy sources; energy, environment, local development and sustainable solar energy, and energy education, culture and information for sustainability," he said.
Veliz said the delegates will also discuss South-South and South-North-South cooperation for renewable sources and associate technologies, with emphasis on the Latin American area. Discussions about biomass, alternative energy in rural areas, biofuels, bioclimate architecture and wind energy are also included on the agenda of the meeting.
Demo Calls for Release of the ALL the Cuban Five
On Saturday June 1st, sixty protesters rallied across from the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue in Toronto to call for the release of "ALL the Cuban Five Now”.
The demonstration, initiated by the “Friends of the Cuban Five”, brought together more than a dozen organizations, including the CCFA Toronto. The demonstration informed the public about the 15 years of injustice to the five Cubans who were simply attempting to expose and stop the terrorism against Cuba coming out of Miami.
This rally was held in conjunction with the Five Days for the Cuban Five taking place in Washington, DC. In Washington, participants from 22 countries, including Canada, lobbied and rallied for the release of the Cuban Five.