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News on Cuba - January 3, 2014 PDF Print E-mail

New Global Twitter for the Release of the Cuban Antiterrorists

Washington, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) The International Committee for the release of the Cuban antiterrorists imprisoned in United States called internet users from all over the world to publish the messages on Sunday on Twitter social network, demanding the release of those men.

The virtual meeting will take place during the day 5 with the labels:

#Obamaliberalos5ya! #ObamaFreetheFiveNow!; #ObamaGivemeFive and #ObamaGestoHumanitarioxlos5! And Hill be the first global initiative of 2014 in solidarity with Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González.

Those men and their fellowcountryman René Gonzalez, already released, were arrested in September, 1998, while monitoring the actions from violent groups in the South of Florida, from where they were planning actions like those that in the last 53 years killed more than 4,400 people in Cuba.

René González was released in October, 2011, after serving his sentence and returned to his country last May where he resigned to his US citizenship, to end an additional punishment of three years under supervised release.

The Committee called the international community, too to get in contact with the White House by telephone, fax, or sending e-mails and post cards to put pressure on President Barack Obama to release the Cuban fighters and allow them to return to their mother land.

Last Year twitter action joined the voices of thousand of people, political parties, media and social organizations from Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Bolivia, Germany and Venezuela, among others.

Many comments insisted on the fact that if Obama wanted, the antiterrorists would be free and could return home.

Others urged US president to honour at least once the Nobel Peace Prize he obtained and put end to the enclosure and the violations of human rights of those men.

Historical Meaning of the Cuban Revolution Highlighted in Nicaragua

Managua, Dec 31 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Revolution showed that it is possible to build a just society with advanced social, cultural and human improvements in the Third World, said today the president of the Nicaraguan Solidarity with Cuba, Fredy Franco.

Cuba managed to make true the Socialist system at 90 miles of the strongest empire in the contemporary era, defeated military aggressions and still faces, stoic and dignified, the criminal blockade which is still in force, and it is increasingly condemned by most of the nations in the world, he added.

This hostile policy has generated, together with natural phenomena, most of the socio-economic difficulties that the Cuban people have faced, also said the researcher in the field of social sciences and professor at the National Autonomous University of Managua.

This January 1st, 2014, the heroic and dignified Cuban Revolution celebrates 55 years, beginning with the popular victory against Batista’s dictatorship, advancing against adversity caused by the policy of the United States and consolidating its strong social and national ties, he said.

Although it was preceded by other revolutions like Mexican (1910), Guatemalan (1944) and Bolivian (1952), the process on the Caribbean island is the first with socialist character in America and the backbone of the changes in Latin America, he added.

Franco added that the Cuban revolution built an independent and dignified country with determination and true popular participation, a system and human beings immensely human who have shared what they have with many people of the world, even their own lives.

Nicaragua is a beneficiary of the vast Cuban solidarity in different historical moments, which is consolidated in this second stage of the Sandinista revolution and in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which contributes to solving major emergencies of our people, he said Franco.

Cuba Reaches Lowest Infant, Maternal Mortality Rate

Havana, Jan 2 (Prensa Latina) Cuba reached a record low in infant and maternal mortality rates in 2013, according to official figures released today by Granma newspaper.

Regarding infant mortality, Cuba recorded a rate of 4.2 per thousand live births, and eight provinces were below the national rate.

Such territories are Sancti Spiritus and Granma, both with 3.2, Holguin (3.3), Havana and Ciego de Ávila (3.4), Pinar del Rio and Villa Clara (3.9) and Las Tunas (4.0), reported the journal, adding that the municipality of Isla de la Juventud had 2.0. Of the country's 168 municipalities, 22 had no child dead.

Granma explained that the main causes of the death of children under one year old are mainly perinatal conditions, congenital abnormalities and infections.

This time 45 children less than in 2012 died from congenital malformations, which keeps Cuba among the countries with the lowest infant mortality from this cause. According to preliminary data provided by the National Board of Medical Records and Statistics of the Ministry of Public Health, last year there were 125,830 births, 156 more than in 2012.

Granma newspaper said that Cuba also strengthens the results of the program aimed at reducing complications and maternal deaths, reporting only 26 deaths directly related to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. In this regard, Cuba achieved a direct maternal mortality rate of 20.7 per 100,000 live births, the lowest in the country’s history.

Haitian Official Stresses Cuba's Regional Integration Role

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 3 (acn) Hati's ambassador to Havana Jean Victor Généus said that Cuba, as pro-tempore chair of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, has taken all possible initiatives to provide the regional organization with the necessary dynamics and dimension towards its advancement.

In statements to the Cuban news agency, Généus said that the world will closely follow the forthcoming Summit of the 33-member bloc, to be held in January here. Under Cuba's presidency, the Community established relations with the BRICS group of countries, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Cuba is the door to this region and the bridge between the Caribbean and Latin America, said the Haitian official, who explained that the island has been the chair of the organization as part of a troika that also includes Chile and Costa Rica.

The ambassador said that Cuba and Venezuela are leading nations in the regional organization, which must be paid tribute to as he highlighted the contribution made by late Bolivarian leader Hugo Chavez and by Cuban historic leader Fidel Castro. The two governments gave the thrust towards reconquest of Latin American and Caribbean sovereignty and dignity.

The upcoming summit in Havana will deepen in the search for solutions to problems in the fields of education, health, the environment and to the reduction of social inequalities, which are topics that count on the consensus for joint work, he said.

New Generations Take Historic Liberty Caravan to Havana

SANTIAGO, Cuba, Jan 3 (acn) Children and youths from eastern Santiago de Cuba kicked off a symbolic tour of the Liberty Caravan, which, in early January 1959, began a march westwards to Havana celebrating the defeat of the bloody US-supported Batista dictatorship by the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro.

This new rendition of the Liberty Caravan began at Santiago de Cuba’s Santa Ifigenia cemetery, at the mausoleum of Jose Marti, where the marchers placed a wreath honoring Cuba´s National Hero.

The caravanistas marched on to that Eastern Cuban city´s Revolution Square, where they placed another wreath at the statue of General Antonio Maceo, one of the heroes of Cuba’s independence war from Spain.

Some three hundred Santiago de Cuba youths received on this occasion the document that certifies their membership in the Young Communist Union, an honor they won because of their excellence in school and-or work centers.

The future of the Revolution is in your hands and attitudes, said a speaker at the presentation ceremony. Diane Alfonso, a ninth grade students at a Santiago de Cuba high school, spoke in the name of the new Young Communist Union members to thank the honor conferred on them. She said they will not fail the Cuban Revolution.

The Liberty Caravan will carry the Cuban Flag westwards from Santiago de Cuba up to Jiguaní, in the province of Granma, where a local group of distinguished local youngsters will take over. The groups will be successfully replaced in their march to Havana.

As they advance towards the Cuban capital, the marchers are greeted by the local population, in a repetition of the 1959 March by the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro.

News on Cuba - December 30, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Cuban Antiterrorist Appreciates Solidarity with The Five

Havana.- Antonio Guerrero thanked the massive expressions of solidarity with the Cuban anti-terrorists, who like him, remain prisoners in the United States since 1998 for monitoring the actions of extremist groups against the island.

In a message posted today on Cubadebate website, Guerrero, currently imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution, Marianna (FCI Marianna) Florida, United States, expressed his gratitude to the many letters of support and other gestures of solidarity in favour of their freedom.

I dare say that any inmate has ever received the amount of letters we have from all over the world. Letters full of brotherhood and love, said Guerrero in his message.

These expressions of solidarity have not stopped nor have decreased since 2001 when our situation was unveiled our people and to the world. We know this huge wave of solidarity will only stop when The Five return home, he added.

Guerrero along with Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González was imprisoned for 15 years and sentenced to long prison terms by the US authorities.

Currently, only René González, one of The Five (as they are internationally known), is in Cuba after complying with his sentence and renouncing to his US citizenship.

Cuba Strengthens Educational Structure

Havana.- (Prensa Latina) More than 3,100 Cuban educational centers were restored in 2013, as part of current works by authorities from the sector to maintain and rehabilitate the country''s educational infrastructure.

According to Education Minister Ena Elsa Velazquez, this number almost doubles the 1,900 teaching centers included in the renovation plan.

During a visit to the province of Cienfuegos, in central Cuba, Velazquez said that several polytechnic schools were renovated and have the necessary resources now, a reason why graduates must be better prepared, she said.

Although the work done is not enough, because we still have several schools that need renovation or some kind of maintenance, we intend to improve all centers gradually, she said.

In that reference, she highlighted the work in Cienfuegos and in the eastern province Las Tunas, territories that stand out as regions of great activity regarding renovation of day-care centers, elementary schools and high schools.

She added that other Cuban provinces such as Pinar del Rio, Granma and Camagüey started complex renovation works in classrooms, workshops, administrative buildings and common spaces.

Uptick in Monthly Tourism to Cuba Reported for November

Havana.- (Prensa Latina) The number of foreign visitors to Cuba in November was 234,266, more than October''s 167,977, the National Office of Statistics reported today.

From January to November, a total of 2,546,851 foreign tourists visited Cuba, the office (ONEI) reported.

Canada, accounting for 38.9 percent of foreign tourists, was the number one issuing country, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Argentina.

According to Ministry of Tourism officials, the year should end with a total figures similar to that of 2012 (2.8 million), falling short of the expected total of three million.

Reasons for the shortfall include the situation of source markets due to the current global crisis and mechanisms that are under review so that the industry will pick up again in the 2014-2015 period, officials said.

Positive factors included a larger number of flights, improved services, and investment.

Cuba has some 61,000 hotel rooms, 65 percent of which are in four and five-star facilities.

Cuban National Ballet Company Celebrates 65 Years of Foundation

Havana.- (Prensa Latina) The National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) presented a program similar to the one performed in its debut on stage in 1948 to commemorate 65 years of established.

The main figures of this company tried to offer in the best conditions the Grand pas de quatre, a work in which four dancers represent the glory of the divas of the nineteenth century, with their respective characteristics.

This is one of the beloved pieces for ballet lovers representing elegance, taste, style and romantic because it is reminiscent of four of the greatest dancers in the history of art in Cuba: Josefina Méndez, Loipa Araújo, Aurora Bosch and Mirta Pla, labelled by the critics as jewelry.

Cuban ballet school right now does not have such a strong and versatile generation, but some artists deserve recognition as Viengsay Valdés, the most complete of all personalities, undisputed queen of technical expertise and theater.

The Cuban public reaffirmed his appreciation for The Swan Lake, the famous piece of classicism, whose second act ended the program the first function of BNC, as it closed the presentation yesterday at the National Theatre.

With this gala, the BNC concluded its cycle of performances in 2013, but will not cool the stage. For the upcoming January 1 and in the same theater it will dance Nutcracker in honor to the 55th anniversary tribute to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

Cuban Anti-terrorist Held Prisoner in the US Appreciates Spanish Support

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 21 (acn) Fernando Gonzalez, one of the four anti-terrorist fighters still held in US prisons since 1998 thanked the support and solidarity actions by Spanish citizens, who demand their release from prison.

In a letter addressed to the Catalonian Defensem Cuba solidarity group, Gonzalez said that despite the difficult economic situation of most Spaniards, the supportive groups dedicate their time, resources and energy to expressed their support of the cause of the Cuban anti-terrorists.
Despite all that, you express your sense of solidarity with great commitment, said Gonzalez in his letter.

Cuba to Inaugurate First Stage of Special Development Zone

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) The first stage of the container terminal at the Mariel Special Development Zone, west of Havana, will be inaugurated in January.
The announcement was made by President Raul Castro as he closed the second session of the Cuban Parliament’s  Eight Legislature on Saturday.

Raul Castro described the new project as very attractive for foreign investors and a lab to consider  the application of new technologies and entrepreneurial management methods.
The Mariel special development zone is parat of the policies and programs adopted by the Cuban Communist Party to update the country’s economic model.

Foreign Boats now Have Easy Access to Cuban Marinas
HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) Foreing yachts cruising near Cuba, which would like to moor at any Cuban marina may do so by just filling out a form available on Cuban web sites.
The requests may be filled at the and websites, according to the Cuban Tourism Ministry, explained that once a yacht owner registers at any of the websites and receives authorization to dock his boat, he is authorized to visit other marinas on the Island without any further authorization.

The marinas offer fuel and repair services, as well as stores to replenish food and drink stocks in the boats.

In order to ease procedures for foreign boats dispatch at Cuban marinas, the Cuban Council of Ministers adopted a Decree last October which rules the management of maritime and harbor services in these facilities.

Cruise Ships to Increase Arrivals in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 23 (acn)The number of arrivals of cruise ships at Cuban ports is expected to surpass the figure reported in previous years, said an executive in the specialized tourist sector.

Norberto Perez, general director of the Aries Transport Company, in charge of commercializing cruise ships operations in Cuba, told reporters that a new company named Cuba Cruises will manage arrivals here of cruise ships, such as Canada’s Louis Cristal, which called at the south-central harbor of Cienfuegos on Saturday.

Perez said that 10 cruise ships will call at Cuban ports during the current high tourist season, including the luxurious Europa, the Albatross and the Thompson Dreams, which is the largest of all, with capacity for 785 passengers. The Thompson Dreams visited Havana harbor on December 6.

The international tourist modality is affected in Cuba by the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, which bans American citizens from visiting the island, the executive said.

Brazilian Media Highlights Assitance by Cuban Doctors in Rain-affected Areas

HAVANA, Cuba.- The Brazilian newspaper A Gazeta, published in the state of Espíritu Santo, stressed the outstanding job being performed by Cuban doctors in that area in the assistance of victims of torrential rains that have already caused over thirty deaths and scores of wounded.

Eleven Cuban doctors are working the area where there were no Brazilian physicians. The newspaper quoted doctor Orlando Maure as sayhng: “The local population needs help and it is our duty to help them”.

In the locality where doctor Maure is working,  not less than fifteen thousand persons abandoned their homes and looked for shelter in higher ground after the torrential rains caused extensive flooding due to the overflowing of local rivers.

According to A Gazeta, over two hundred thousand inhabitants of that Brazilian area have been affected by the torrential rains.

Belarus and Cuba Willing to Expand Scientific Cooperation

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) Belarus'Health minister Vasily Sharko confirmed his country's will to expand cooperation with Cuba’s biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries.

During a meeting in the capital Minsk Cuban Ambassador Gerardo Suarez, the Belarusian official reviewed current cooperation schemes in both fields and agreed on the need to increase their scope, since they are considered as vital to medical services.

The top government official of that European country, a former member of the extinct Soviet Union, was accompanied by businessmen and officials in the public health sector. The meeting was held in a very friendly atmosphere, the Cuban Ambassador told the Belarusian press.

Legitimate Cultural Values on the Spotlight of Cuban Intellectuals' Congress

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) The defense of legitimate cultural values will the central subject at discussions during the forthcoming Congress of the Cuban Association of Writers and Artists, to be held April 12 and 13 next year.

Association president Miguel Barnet said that the Congress will consider efforts to recover traditions and values that have deteriorated in recent years, such as the Carnivals, a popular feast that has lost much of its original cultural splendor.

In an interview with national television, Barnet, a poet and novelist himself, said that aesthetic values of the Carnival must be recovered as a means of public education.

Carlos Tamayo, the provincial chairman of the association in the eastern province of Las Tunas, said some foreign cultural influences lacking true artistic values have had a negative effect in the country.

Music and dance groups from neighborhoods –he said-- must recover their splendor and compete, as they did before, for prices awarded by popular juries at the city carnivals traditionally held in all Cuba.

New Cooperatives enter Operations in Cuba's Recycling System

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn).  Twelve new cooperatives will soon start operations in the raw-material collection activity for recycling, a step that experts say will significantly help increase the output of certain products and contribute to environmental protection.

This strategy is included in the economic guidelines approved by the Cuban Communist Party as part of the ongoing update of the Cuban economic model.

With this regard, experiences in the two provinces have had excellent results and have prooven  that they may be extended to other territories, a spokesman said.

The two cooperatives involved in the experiment increased their sales, with cooperative members witnessing a 25 percent growth of their profits.

Recycling is good business, the spokesman noted:  the cooperatives make money and the environment is kept clean.

Cuban Private Farmers Increase Sugar Cane Supply to Current Sugar Campaign

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) At least thirty percent of the sugar cane to be processed during the current sugar harvest is to be supplied by private farmers, marking an increasing participation of that productive sector in this economic field vital to Cuba’s economy.

The Chairman of the National Association of Small Farmers, Felix González, said that a leading pack of private sugar cane growers feeding sugar mills is grouped in 304 cooperatives noted for their high yields.

Many farmers have received additional state owned land, which they are exploiting towards increasing sugar cane outputs in the island.  The private cooperatives receive ample support from the Cuban state, including fuel, machines, spares and technical assistance  at bottom prices.  A total of 49 sugar mills will operate this year, and twenty five of them are already in operation

Cuba Launches New Line of Habano Cigars

HAVANA, Cuba.-  The first line of Cuban Cigars known as Great Reserve Lusitania, a special production aimed at cigar connosseurs around the World, was  presented in Havana by the  world famous  Partagas  Brand.

The cigars are hand rolled by veteran experts in environmentally controlled conditions, based on first grade leafs cultivated in selected Pinar del Rio plantations, in Western Cuba. The Partagas cigar factory was founded in Havana in 1845 and is one of the best producers in the world, offering  cigar smokers unique products that satisfy the most demanding palates.

The Lusitanias, as the new cigars are known, are one hundred and ninety four millimeters long by 49 milimeters gross.


News on Cuba - December 19, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Cuban President Talks of Improving Higher Education

Havana, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro highlighted the need to draw up a long-term rational plan to increase the quality of higher education, during the most recent session of the island''s Council of Ministers.

That body, chaired by the Cuban head of State, certified the implementation of a policy of assurance of human resources, and the infrastructure required for improving education, Granma newspaper reported today.

The first stage of the approved leadership is aimed at stopping the deterioration of schools and, at mid term, the deficit of the technical staff.

Boosting exports, raising external financial resources such as complement of the government's subjects, and contracting retired teachers with beneficial wages to encourage their permanence at schools, are also on the list.

The higher education system in Cuba is made up of 67 institutions, with more than 250,000 students, as well as 120 centers for research, science, innovation, and technology, distributed along the country.

Raul Castro Talks on Violations vs. Cuban Economy

Havana, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro stated that the violations against the country''s economy cannot remain unpunished, on occasion of the damages to the island in foreign trade, an issue recently debated by the Council of Ministers.

Raul Castro highlighted the need to be exigent with those who cause damages, either through negligence or ignorance, Granma newspaper stated.

During the Council's session held yesterday, Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister for Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, talked about the damages irregularities in foreign trade operation have caused to the country in 2013 second half.

He announced, among them, the wrong selection of suppliers, protracted contracting processes, poor handling of products, transportation problems, and labor indisciplines.

Measures to face and reduce damages were taken during the period, but implementing them systematic and rigorously is still required, Malmierca concluded.

Cuban Council of Ministers Adopts Policies on Different Social and Economic Areas

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 19 (acn) The Cuban Council of Ministers adopted a group of new policies to improve the performance of different sectors, such as education, health and foreign trade.

During the session, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers Raul Castro stressed the need to keep enforcing institutional order to keep recovering order, discipline and control.

A proposal to improve the attention that the Central Government must give to local administrations was analyzed by the Council, which considered and approved the setting up of an auxiliary body under the Counil of Ministers, which attends to such local government offices and their performance.

The meeting also considered a proposal to guarantee the necessary human resources and the maintenance of the infrastructure in the higher education system, which now counts on 67 institutions and 120 entities dedicated to technological projects. Raul Castro said called for the drawing up of a long-term plan of action to address the necessities in the sector.

Such plan will help actions to mange the current human resources in a better rational manner. Council of Ministers' vice-president Marino Murillo said that based on the high demand of Cuban medical services and the advancement in the pharmaceutical sector, it is necessary to increase the exports of these services to guarantee sustainability of the health system and make a larger contribution to the economy.

He added that several commercial modalities have been considered, including offering medical attention in Cuba, academic courses and others related to optical products, pharmaceuticals and natural medicine, as well as scientific events.

Cuban Deputies Express Solidarity with Ecuador against Chevron

Havana, Dec 18 (Prensa Latina) A statement of solidarity with the people and the Ecuadorian government "against the unjust aggression of Chevron" was approved here today by the deputies in the Committee on International Relations of the Cuban Parliament.

The text accuses Chevron of causing the biggest ecological disaster in history and of damaging human health and the environment in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

It claims that, with its outdated technology, Chevron has caused the spill of 71 million gallons of waste oil and 64 million liters of oil in that region for more than 30 years.

It is an aggressive, highly polluting and harmful practice damaging people, who suffer various types of cancer, says a statement issued before the second session of the National Assembly of People's Power.

He added that the Committee on International Relations of the legislative joins the statements issued by the Union of South American Nations, the 29th Annual Meeting of the Latin American Parliament, as well as other organizations and individuals in support of Ecuador.

Almost Half a Million Cubans Work in Private Sector

Havana, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) A total of 444,109 Cubans work in the private sector, First Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security Marta Elena Feitó reported here today.

In a presentation to members of Parliament's Committee on Childhood, Youth and Equal Rights for Women, Feitó said that her employment data was from November.

She said that the figure represents an increase of 44,763 workers over earlier this year and added that 26 percent of the total are women and 32 percent are youth.

The provinces of Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Camaguey, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba account for 65 percent of all private sector workers, she said.

The most popular private sector activities are food production and sales, freight and passenger transportation, housing rentals, and the production and sale of household items, Feitó said.

According to estimates from 2012, the country's active workforce totals 4,846,647 and the unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.

Cuba Promotes Growth of Sugar Cane Production

Havana, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) The conditions of price, inputs, supplies and market have made sugar cane into one of the most stimulated agricultural products in Cuba, experts told members of Parliament today.

The first vice president of the Azcuba business group, Jose Carlos Santos, told the Agri-Food Industry Commission that sugar cane is an item with a very reliable market in the country, and that it has technological support that serves as an incentive for growers.

Santos reiterated the importance of higher yields and growth for boosting investment in the sector. He noted that in 2012, some $46 million was invested in sugar cane production.

He also highlighted the need to increase energy savings through a more efficient use of energy by sugar mills.

At least 1.80 million tons of sugar is expected to be produced in the 2013-2014 harvest, which started on Nov. 20. That would represent an increase of 18 percent against the previous harvest, according to estimates.

New equipment, greater transportation capacity, and training for personnel who are participating in the harvest were some of the improvements that should contribute to more efficiency, he said.

Parliamentarians Calls for Recovery of Urban Discipline and Order

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 19 (acn) The rescue of urban order and discipline with the support of institutions and the population, was at the center of debates by Cuban deputies in their commissions currently gathered at Havana's Conventions Center prior to the Session of the Cuban Parliament on Friday.

The lawmakers acknowledged the work of the Cuban Urban Planning Institute but noted that its officials must get training and continue to enforce current regulations.

The deputies also called for a fight on illegalities in urban and rural areas and for an appropriate mechanism so that the people may carry out the legalization of new constructions according to the urban regulations.

They said that the elimination of urban illegalities accumulated over the past years is still at a very slow pace, though some advancement has been made in beach areas. Some of the functions of the Urban Planning Institute include the construction of new homes, the leasing of land for construction projects, the issuance of construction licenses and certificates for finished works according to urban and construction norms.

Cuban Deputies Address Need to Boost Housing Programs

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 19 (acn) Despite current material shortage, Cuba can advance the construction of homes, Cuban deputies agreed at the Parliamentary Commission on Industry, Construction and Energy.

It is possible to find solutions to current housing problems, with better control by managing staff, government authorities and the Construction Ministry with regards to the use of local potential in each territory, some deputies pointed out.

The lack of necessary resources and labor instability, among other factors have led to not meeting production plans, as pointed out by legislator Gerardo Hernandez Suarez who described as unacceptable the violation of contracts and investment projects.

Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Association Closes Solidary Congress

Hanoi, Dec 18 (Prensa Latina) The president of the Vietnam Friendship Association with Cuba, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, highlighted today the relationship between both peoples when the fourth congress of the entity was closed.

Nguyen also evoked the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, who described the ties established as "exemplary model of the relationship between two peoples in our time," after stating that all members of the Association are happy for contributing to that solidarity tradition.

The also vice president of the Legislative National Assembly said that, as well as in the last five years, the exigency of the unconditional cease of the U.S. blockade on Cuba will remain one of the three main objectives of the Association.

She stressed the support to the cause for the immediate release of four Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly condemned in the United States.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez have spent more than 15 years in U.S. prisons, for monitoring activities by terrorist groups that plan violent actions against their country.

Rene Gonzalez, also condemned, is already in Cuba after completing his unjust prison sentence.

The congress reviewed what the two sides have done in the last five years to strengthen mutual solidarity in many localities with wide participation of party and state institutions, grass-roots organizations, and elected its new executive.

The president of the Union of Vietnamese Organizations, Vu Xuan Hong, and Cuban ambassador Herminio Lopez spoke in the final session. The latter expressed gratitude for the support given to his country, and referred to the prospects to strengthen bilateral ties in multiple spheres.

European Groups Demand Greek Prime Minister Change in Policy vs. Cuba

Athens, Dec 18 (Prensa Latina) Dozens of European associations in solidarity with Cuba issued today a letter addressed to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, urging him to strengthen a fair contact and a respectful cooperation with Cuba.

Samaras will assume on January 1 the six-monthly presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), and for that reason, activists and social organizations along Europe wanted to convey their disagreement with the community policy towards Cuba.

The message recalled that the denominated "Common Position of the EU on Cuba" is merely a vestige of the U.S. strategy during the Cold War, and violate the principles of international law, sovereignty of the Cuban people, and brings poverty to peoples.

Senders stated that "being more and more the EU citizens who consider this common Position unacceptable," political representatives should act "of a fairer, more constructive way and were more led to the future of Cuba."

Moreover, and taking into account the result "almost unanimous of the UN General Assembly against the U.S. blockade on Cuba, they said the time has come "when the EU as a whole passes from words to action."

Based on this, the signers of the statement urged Samaras to "prepare and organize the immediate cancellation of the Counterproductive Common Position of the EU on Cuba," for being a policy contrary the international law, as is the right to rule a political system that the Cuban people itself elected in a sovereign manner.

Nacional Congress Honors Argentinian Graduates in Cuba

Buenos Aires, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) More than 450 young Argentinian graduates in Cuba in 2012 and 2013 were honored in a ceremony at the Nation''s Congress, in which the concept that Homeland is humanity prevails.

The spacious Blue Lounge of the legislative house was filled with the joy of about 445 physicians, eight professionals in physics and mathematics, and one engineer in biomedicine. They were from the eighth and ninth grade promotion graduates.

Fathers, officials, legislators and diplomatic staff attended the emotive act, presided over by the flags of Argentina and Cuba.

The call for unity in the struggle for the Great Homeland, the application of the humanistic ethics and the appreciation to the Cuban people for helping them to forge in worthy professionals, as well as a recognition to the Cuban people for their support and especially to Fidel Castro and Raul Castro.

Daniel Lopez, representative of the Argentinian Ministry of Education, stated that the recognition of certificates granted by the Latin American School of Medicine is the slightest thing the Argentinian government can do, compared with everything Cuba has done.

Cantata for Peace and the Cuban Five in Eastern Cuba

Camagüey, Cuba, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) A Cantata for Peace and for the cause of the four anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unjustly held in U.S. prisons will be held on the night of Dec. 29 in this city, artist Yunielkis Naranjo announced.

Naranjo, who is also a member of the national council of the young artists and writers' association, Hermanos Sainz, said that the release of the four members of the Cuban Five still in prison Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez would be demanded during the event.

The fifth member of the Cuban Five is Rene Gonzalez, who is in Cuba now after serving his 15-year prison sentence and giving up his U.S. citizenship.

Vietnam Contributes to Boost Agricultural Production in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 17 (acn) Vietnam will help boost the output of Cuban crops of maize and soya beans through the introduction of new high yield varieties developed by Vietnamese scientists.

An agreement signed by the two countries foresees the creation of demonstration areas in the Western Cuban provinces of Mayabeque and Matanzas.

Doctor Nguyen Van Bo, Chairman of Vietnam´s Agricultural Sciences Academy, said at a meeting with Cuban producers and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture that the results of initial tests have been very encouraging.

Cuba, he said, has ample possibilities to raise bumper crops of maize and soya beans, leading to the replacement of of imports of both commodities by domestically produced high yield crops.

The Vietnamese expert also praised the efforts by Cuban agricultural producers towards the introduction of new varieties and techniques led by Vietnamese advisors.

Nelson Lorenzo is one of the Cuban technicians that joined this productive effort . He said that with the introduction of the Vietnamese techniques, the production of maize has increased six-fold. Yields, he said, have skyrocketed from one ton to six tons per hectare.


News on Cuba - December 10. 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Mandela: a prophet of unity, peace and reconciliation

Speech by the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republica of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, at the international tribute paid to Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg

President Jacob Zuma

Relatives of Nelson Mandela

Distinguished dignitaries

Fraternal people of South Africa

We pay emotional tribute to Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of dignity and unwavering dedication to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and justice; a prophet of unity, peace and reconciliation.

Alongside his comrades in the struggle, he led his people in the battle against apartheid, to open the way to a new South Africa; a non racial and united South Africa in its quest for happiness, equality and the wellbeing of all its children, a nation bent on overcoming the consequences of colonialism, slavery and racial segregation.

Setting an example of integrity and perseverance, he later headed the effort to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and create opportunities for all.

Mandela offers an insurmountable example to Latin America and the Caribbean, which are currently moving towards unity and integration for the benefit of their peoples, on the basis of respect for diversity, and convinced that it is through dialogue and cooperation that discrepancies can be resolved and a civilized relationship established between those who think differently.

As Mandela’s life teaches us, only the concerted efforts of all nations will empower Humanity to respond to the enormous challenges threatening its very existence.

Cuba, a country born in the struggle for independence and for the abolition of slavery, and whose children have African blood running in their veins, has had the privilege of fighting and building alongside the African nations.

We shall never forget Mandela’s moving homage to our common struggle when on the occasion of his visit to our country on July 26, 1991 he said that “the Cuban people have a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa.”

I remember his bond of affection with Fidel Castro, a symbol of the fraternal relations between Africans and Cubans. Fidel has said: “Nelson Mandela will not go down in history for the 27 consecutive years he spent incarcerated without ever renouncing his ideas. He will go down in history because he was capable of cleaning-up his soul from the poison that such an unfair punishment could have planted there; and for his generosity and wisdom, which at the moment of victory allowed him to lead with great talent his selfless and heroic people, knowing that the new South Africa could not be built on hatred and vengeance.”

Eternal honour and glory to Nelson Mandela and to the heroic people of South Africa!

Thank you.


News on Cuba - December 9, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Cuban Five Express Sorrow for Mandela's Demise

Nelson MandelaWashington, Dec 7 (Prensa Latina) Ramón Labañino, one of the anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly held in U.S. prisons for 15 years, expressed deep sorrow for the demise of South African ex-president Nelson Mandela, whom he described as a symbol of justice and optimism.

"He was and will always be a real example of freedom, peace and victory," Labañino wrote in a message released this weekend by the National Committee to Free the Five in the United States.

Labañino also sent condolences to Mandelaâ's family and friends and all of South Africa on behalf of his comrades and the entire Cuban people.

"His world stature as a leader, a symbol of justice and optimism, accompany us forever," said the message.

Labañino and his comrades Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were arrested in the United States in 1998 and given unfairly harsh prison sentences for monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups operating against Cuba. They are internationally known as the Cuban Five.

Rene is now in Cuba after serving his prison sentence and an additional period of supervised release and giving up his US citizenship.

With his message, Labañino joins world leaders, international organizations, figures and social and political groups that lament the death of Mandela, who passed away yesterday at the age of 95 at his residence in Johannesburg.

Cuba, One of the Latin American Countries that Eradicated Hunger

Havana, Dec 8 (Prensa Latina) Cuba is one of eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who managed to eradicate hunger, said here the FAO representative in Cuba, Theodor Friedrich.

According to Granma newspaper of national circulation, Friedrich highlighted the support of the Cuban government and the political will to carry out programs to increase food production.

In the region there are still around 47 million Latin American and Caribbean hungry, according to FAO. Haiti, Guatemala and Paraguay are among the countries that have higher numbers of hungry.

The newspaper also reported that according to the Panorama of the Food and Nutrition Security of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the hunger in the region declined from 14.7 percent in 1990-1991 to 7.9 in 2011-2013.

The same happens with chronic child malnutrition (stunting among children under 5 years). Currently the regional indicator stands at 6.9 million children affected when there were 13.8 million children affected in 1990.

FAO also noted that these developments in the region respond to combination of economic growth, political commitment and decisive public action, supplemented by government policies aimed at changing the structures that generate exclusion and inequality.

World Twitter Action to Highlight Cuba’s Work on Human Rights

Havana, Dec 9 (Prensa Latina) Cybernauts of the world will express from today their solidarity with Cuba by highlighting the work of this country through messages in an international twitter account in the context of the celebration of the Human Rights Day.

According to Cubadebate website, the initiative, with the hash tag # DDHHCuba and # DerechosdeCuba, will take place from 14:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Monday until 12:00 (17:00 GMT) next Wednesday.

”In the social network Twitter will be felt the solidarity with Cuba, a country with an undeniable work for the basic human rights of its citizens, despite the U.S. blockade against Cuba which is maintained for more than half a century, ¿ notes the publication.

According to CubaDebate, participants will share solidarity messages, photos, videos and multimedia to reveal the work of the revolutionary process begun in this Caribbean country in January 1959.

Cybernauts will also demand an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Caribbean nation, and the release of the Cuban antiterrorist fighters imprisoned in U.S. jails since 1998.

Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and René González were arrested in Miami for monitoring groups that organized and financed terrorist actions against Cuba.

From the internationally known as the Cuban Five, only Rene Gonzalez is on the island, after serving his sentence and renouncing the U.S. citizenship.

CubaDebate reminds that the Caribbean country is one of the few who met the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality.

The Human Development Report 2013 of that world organization states that Cuba ranks 59 among 187 countries in this indicator.

Chilean Solidarity Groups Renew Commitments with Cuba

Iquique, Chile, Dec 8 (Prensa Latina) The 21st national meting of the Chilean movement of solidarity with Cuba concluded in this city today with the renewed commitment of those groups to promote and defend the achievements of the Cuban Revolution.

In the final declaration, the organizations highlight the Cuban people's achievements in health and education, the same rights that today in Chile are of hard access by its population.

The declaration says that the commitment with the Cuban Revolution includes the unmasking of the pro-government and pro-imperialist media campaigns in Chile, the same press that is being investigated for the crime of having incited the September 11, 1973 coup d'etat against President Salvador Allende.

It is the press which permanently distorts and lie about the Revolution, said the declaration, calling to widely spread and promote the achievements of the Cuban Revolution in different sectors.

The Chilean groups of solidarity with Cuba expressed their determination to continue supporting the international campaign to demand the release of the Cuban antiterrorist fighters condemned to severe sentences at U.S. prisons.

One of the five Cuban anti terrorist fighters, Rene Gonzalez, already served his sentence in prison and retuned to Cuba, but Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, and Gerardo Hernandez, remain in jail for infiltrating organizations that plan terrorist actions against Cuba from the U.S. territory.

Raul Meets with Visiting Spanish Communist Leaders

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 7 (acn) Army General Raul Castro, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, received the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, Jose Luis Centella, and the Federal Coordinator of Izquierda Unida, Cayo Lara, who are on a visit to the island at the invitation of the Cuban Communist Party.

During the meeting, held on Saturday, exchanges were held on various topics of national and international interest, while participants coincided in their willingness to continue strengthening the relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between the Cuban Communist party and the Communist Party of Spain and Izquierda Unida.

Also taking part in the meeting were Jose Manuel Mariscal, Senator and Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain in Andalusia, as well as Gloria Aguilar, Secretary for International Cooperation of the aforementioned Party. Cuba was also represented by Politburo member Bruno Rodriguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Jose Ramon Balaguer, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and head of its Department of International Relations.

Cuba Paid Tribute to Antonio Maceo at El Cacahual

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 7 (acn) Several generations of Cubans paid tribute on Saturday to General Antonio Maceo and his assistant Francisco (Panchito) Gomez Toro, who fell heroically in combat 117 years ago, at the mausoleum of El Cacahual, devoted to all martyrs of the homeland.

At the place where the mortal remains of this patriot rest in this capital, members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and educational institutions, pioneer children, internationalists and combatants, swore to perpetuate the legacy of those who gave their lives for national sovereignty.

The military ceremony was presided over by Politburo members Mercedes Lopez Acea, Vice-president of the Council of State and first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in Havana; and the Hero of the Republic of Cuba, First Deputy Minister of the FAR and Chief of Staff, Army Corps General Alvaro Lopez Miera.

Wreaths were placed by the tombs of Maceo and Panchito, heroes of the island’s 19th century pro-independence wars, and also of communist leader Blas Roca Calderio and the last mambi, Juan Fajardo Vega.

Visit to Cuba mayor of the city of Richmond

Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of the City of Richmond, California, visited the offices of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), which was received by President Kenia Serrano and other directors of the institution.

On this visit to Cuba, the mayor deepens aspects of the Cuban reality and favors ties between the two peoples. Also learn about the health care system to the population.

Semester at Sea Cruise Ship Arrives in Havana

Havana, Dec 9 (Prensa Latina) The Semester at Sea cruise ship, an academic program sponsored by the University of Virginia, in the United States, arrived in here today, nine years after its last visit.

About 648 people arrived in the island, 568 of them are students from more than 200 universities in 42 states of the northern country, mostly Americans, but there are also students from other nations, such as Mexico and Canada.

University of Havana rector Gustavo Cobreiro and a delegation from the higher education center boarded the ship after docking in the harbor to welcome the visitors.

The objective of the stay here is that those students know this country's history and the scientific development reached, while exchange with Cuban students from different careers, Jose Manuel Febles, director of International Relations department at the university, told reporters.

During the stay in Cuba, the Semester at Sea students will also visit many universities in different provinces, and announced a meeting with the media for tomorrow.

Inaugural Flight Arrives in Varadero from Stockholm

VARADERO, Cuba, Dec 6 (acn) An inaugural charter flight of Novair Airlines, from Stockholm, arrived on Friday at the Juan Gualberto Gomez International Airport of this city, as a link in charge of the tour operator Apollo, one of the most important of the Scandinavian market.

Attracted by the recreational activities offered by the famous beach resort located at some 120 kilometers east of Havana, a total of 265 passengers arrived on this occasion from Sweden, Finland and Norway, in an weekly operation that will last until the end of March, 2014.

Sidsel Nottrup, destination manager of Apollo, the company that also promotes trips to Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, told ACN that for Scandinavian vacationers this is an opportunity to experience Cuban culture and history, in addition to nature.

President Raul Castro Heads Cuban Delegation to Funeral Services for Nelson Mandela

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 9 (acn) President Raul Castro is heading the Cuban delegation that will attend the funeral services for Nelson Mandela, who passed away last Thursday in Johannesburg.

The Cuban television announced on Sunday that the Cuban delegation is also made up of foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez and ambassador to Pretoria Carlos Fernandez de Cossio.

Over 50 heads of state and other world leaders are expected to attend the funeral service, which will take place in Johannesburg on December 10 and five days later Mandela will be buried in his hometown Qunu.

Raul Castro Holds Talks with President of the Regional Government of Galicia

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 9 (acn) Cuban President Raul Castro received in Havana on Saturday the President of the regional government of Galicia, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, who is paying an official visit to the island.

After the talks, Nuñez Feijo told reporters that he considers the update of the Cuban economic model as an opportunity which Galicia is willing to take advantage of.

Making allusion to Galicians residing in Cuba, Feijoo said that there are 40 thousand reasons for Galicia to open to Cuba and that he has noticed that Cuba is also opened to Galicia.

He said that he is very interested and willing to jointly work with Cubans in economic projects.

Nuñez Feijoo met on Saturday with the Archbishop of Eastern Santiago de Cuba City and president of the local Episcopal Conference.

The Galician government official previously met with Cuban First Vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel and with the ministers of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodriguez and Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca.

President Raul Castro also received a delegation headed by the leaders of Spain´s United Left Party, Cayo Lara Mora, and the Communist Party, Jose Luis Centella Gomez.

Puerto Rican Delegation to World Youth Festival Condemns Imperialism

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 9 (acn) The Puerto Rican delegation to the World Festival of Youths and Students, underway in Ecuador issued a communiqué condemning imperialism.

We will fight against the privatization, neo-liberalism, oppression and exploitation inherent to the capitalist system and we support participatory democracy and social justice, which are so necessary for the liberation of human beings,” the communiqué reads.

The Puerto Rican delegation expresses its support of all nations currently fighting colonial rule, Palestine, the Saharawi people, the native people of the Americas and Argentine’s claim over the Malvinas islands.

“We condemn all US acts of aggression and espionage carried out from our own territory against sister nations, particularly Latin American countries,” the delegation stresses.

The delegation of youths also demand the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners Oscar Lopez Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio and of the four Cuban antiterrorist fighters also held in US prisons.

They also request compensation by the US navy for its criminal acts in the island of Vieques and the main island of Puerto Rico and demanded the respect for social rights of human beings.

And the communiqué also expresses gratefulness to Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Latin American and World nations for their support of the decolonization and independence claim of Puerto Rico.

The communiqué was signed by the Pro-Independence University Federation, the Socialist Front, the Hostosiana Youths and the National Independence Hostosiano Movement, the Socialist Youths Union and the Socialist Workers’ Movement.

Cuba Announces Reestablishment of Consular Services in the US till February

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 9 (acn) The Cuban Interests Section in Washington announced the reestablishment of consular services till February 17.

According to an announcement published on Granma newspaper, on December 6, the M and T Bank informed the Interests Section of its decision to extend till March 1, 2014 the deadline of the definitive closing of the banking account of the Cuban office, explaining that the deposits for consular services will still be received until February 17, 2014.

The Cuban Interests Section continues to look for a new bank that takes its banking operations to definitively normalize its consular services. The office regrets any inconveniences brougth about by the suspension of consular services on November 26, 2013 either for Cuban or US citizens, the announcement reads.


News on Cuba - December 4, 2013 PDF Print E-mail

From the Acropolis to support The Five

AHCASThe executive of the Hellenic-Cuban Friendship Association and Solidarity (AHCAS) visited nearby the famous Acropolis from there to demand the unconditional release of the Cuban Five Heroes.

The action included the distribution , to the hundreds of tourists visiting the Acropolis daily, a statement denouncing the injustice committed against The Five and demand the immediate release of the Cuban Heroes, and the lifting of the criminal blockade imposed on Cuba by the USA.

Below the text of the Declaration distributed:


For the past 15 years five Cuban patriots have been held in US prisons for the sole reason that, based on specific facts, they uncovered sabotage, the planting of bombs in hotels etc. being planned and orchestrated by anti-Cuban organizations established in the US, enjoying US state support. Sentenced to serve lengthy prison terms on the basis of false charges at a trial that was a travesty of justice, as no evidence was provided to back up the accusations. These patriots are Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero. Only René González has been released, having served his sentence and returned to Cuba, where, together with the Cuban people, he is struggling to obtain the immediate and unconditional release of the others.

We protest their unacceptable conditions of detention, the fact that they are forbidden to or hindered from meeting with their families and lawyers and the attempts made by the US authorities to break their morale.

We demand their immediate and unconditional release and return to their homeland.

We demand that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the USA be lifted and that the “Common Position” of the European Union to the detriment of Cuba be abolished.

We stand by the side of the Cuban people in their struggle to live in a sovereign country and to build a society with free healthcare, education, sport and culture for the entire people.

Cuba Provides Services for Latin American Visually Challenged

Havana.- Nearly 100 Latin American patients have received services at Cuba''s National Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, it was reported during the 7th Congress of the National Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which ends Thursday in the Cuban capital.

Those 100 were part of more than 1,600 blind and visually impaired people who have been served at the center in the city of Bejucal, in the western province of Mayabeque, according to the association's president, Dr. Jose Blanch.

Blanch highlighted Cuba's achievements in integrating blind and visually impaired people into society with actions such as the Braille literacy campaign, which has benefited more than 4,000 people.

He also highlighted the creation of special schools in all regions of the nation, and continuing education for visually impaired Cubans, as evidenced by a growing number of university graduates in careers such as psychology, law, and physical rehabilitation, among other.

Meanwhile, during the final day of the Congress, the Latin American Union of the Blind will grant the Cuban association a special recognition for its achievements and contributions to other countries of the region.

US Blockade Threatens Prensa Latina's Work at UN

Havana, (Prensa Latina) The refusal of M&T Bank to continue providing services to the Cuban diplomatic missions in the United States has also affected the office of the Prensa Latina Latin America News Agency based at the United Nations.

Since March 2010, the bank has held the account for the Prensa Latina office at the headquarters of the world organization in New York, where the agency has worked for more than five decades.

However, on July 12, the agency's correspondent received a letter signed by Peter Senica, vice president of M&T Bank, headquartered in Baltimore, announcing the decision to "close the division that provides services to diplomatic entities and all related accounts, included that of employees and relatives."

Headquartered in Havana and nearing its 55th anniversary, Prensa Latina is recognized worldwide as an international news agency specializing in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 30 offices worldwide.

It is also a founding member of the Latin American Union of News Agencies and has been an active participant in the context of the World Congress of News Agencies, the most recent of which was held in Saudi Arabia this month.

The Prensa Latina representation at the U.N. renewed and received in January this year, a special license granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department, effective until 2015.

That document, framed as "regulations of Cuban assets control" (blockade), authorized M&T Bank to "open, maintain, and operate the account on behalf of Prensa Latina," "solely to cover its personal expenses."

Three days ago, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington denounced "the existing restrictions resulting from the U.S. Government's policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba."

Cuba: an Example in Rehabilitation

HAVANA, Cuba, (acn) The members of the National Association of the Blind (ANCI) gave on Friday the Baston de Cristal award to Army General Raul Castro, president of the councils of State and Ministers.

The ANCI gave the Baston de Cristal to Army General Raul Castro during the closing ceremony of its 4th Congress, which was received by Salvador Valdes, member of the Politburo and Vice-president of the Council of State, the Granma newspaper reported on Friday.

Also during the closing ceremony, Jose Blanch was ratified as president of the National Council of the ANCI, while the Latin American Association of the Blind (ULAC) gave the Cuban organization the Enrique Elizalde award for its notable work, already turned into a referent for the region.

Cuba’s achievements in the reincorporation of blind and visually impaired persons into society as well as in rehabilitation were highlighted in an inclusive interview with ACN by Brazilian Volmir Raimundi, president of the ULAC, who attended the Congress.

Latin American Association of the Blind Acknowledges Cuba’s Work

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) The Latin American Association of the Blind (ULAC) gave on Thursday in this capital the Enrique Elizalde Award to the National Association for the Blind (ANCI), for the notable of this organization, already turned into a referent for the region.
The achievements of the Caribbean island in terms of the reintegration of blind and visually impaired persons into society are part of this work, highlighted Brazilian Volmir Raimundi, president of the ULAC, during an exclusive interview with ACN. Raimundi participated in the 7th Congress of the ANCI, which wound up on Thursday, attended by over 200 delegates from around the country.

The executive also underlined the incorporation of these persons with special needs into education and the guarantee for the continuation of studies until university level of several blind persons in degree courses of Psychology and Law, among others.

In contrast to other states, where realities are very different, Raimundi stressed the attention received by the almost 32,000 members of the ANCI, an organization that has national coverage and gets to the smallest and most isolated parts of the island.

Vietnam Ratifies Willingness to Expand Cooperation with Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) Vietnam’s Prime Minister (PM) Nguyen Tan Dung ratified his country’s willingness to work hard with Cuba in a more practical way for mutual benefit.

While meeting with Cuba’s ambassador to that Asian country, Herminio Lopez, Dung expressed his appreciation for the valuable support received from the Caribbean island during Vietnam’s struggle for its national liberation, as well as for his country’s current development, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.

He urged the recently accredited diplomatic representative to continue boosting bonds between organizations and ministries of the two countries, in an effective implementation of agreements reached and in the speeding up of new cooperation programs.

The PM placed particular emphasis on the economy, trade and investment, as well as on potentials in education, pharmacy, science and technology, to which he added the wish that companies of telecommunications and agriculture also contribute to Cuba.

Cuban Anti-terrorist to Hearing of International Commission in London

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 4 (acn) An international investigation commission will hear in London the testimony of Cuban Rene Gonzalez, one of the five anti-terrorist fighters who were given unfair and extremely long sentences in the United States in 2001.

At the initiative of the Voice for the Five Campaign, the commission will open sessions March 7 and 8 next year at the prestiged Law Society in London, according to media reports from Washington.

Rene Gonzalez, the only one of the Five to have returned to Cuba after having met his prison sentence, will take part at the hearing along relatives of victims of terror actions undertaken against Cuba, lawyers and politicians, according to the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.

The international campaign for the Cuban heroes was launched October 30 with the participation of renowned personalities in the world of arts, communications, law, politics and representatives of social organizations.

Some of the figures with the Voices for the Five Campaign include US political analyst Noam Chomsky, German writer Gunter Grass, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel and British actress Emma Thompson, among many others.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González were arrested September 12, 1998 in Miami after they infiltrated Florida-based violent organizations that planned terrorist actions against Cuba. In 2001, they were submitted to a biased Miami trial that gave them unfair sentences amidst a hostile atmosphere raised by local journalists and media outlets paid by the US government.

Cuba is willing to Talk Alan Gross Case with Washington

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 4 (acn) Cuba reiterated its willingness to hold a dialog with the United States aimed at finding a solution on reciprocal grounds to the case of US citizen Alan Gross, who is serving a prison sentence for having violated Cuban law.

The general director for the United States at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal, made it clear that such dialog must include Cuba’s humanitarian concerns related to the four anti-terrorists held in US prisons.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González are currently serving prolonged and unfair prison sentences for crimes they did not commit and that were never proven, the diplomat said in a statement on Tuesday.

Their incarceration is having a high human cost for them and their relatives. They have not seen their children grow; they have lost parents and siblings; they are facing health problems and have separated from their relatives and their nation for over 15 years.

Vidal referred to a communiqué issued on December 2 by the spokesperson’ office with the US Department of State insisting in the immediate and unconditional release of Gross, by saying that his incarceration has no justification.

Alan Gross was arrested, legally processed and punished for having violated Cuban law after he introduced a US-sponsored plan aimed at destabilizing Cuban constitutional order by setting up illegal and covert communications systems based on non-commercial technology, the diplomat explained.

Vidal said that such actions constitute serious crimes, which are severely punished in most countries, including the United States, and she added that Gross has received respectful and humane treatment since he was arrested.

Cuba understands the humanitarian concerns related to the Gross case, but also considers that the US administration is directly accountable for Gross’ situation and that of his family, and that Washington must jointly work with the Cuban government to find a solution, she noted.

The statement also refers to US media reports on a letter sent by 66 US democratic, republican and independent senators to President Barack Obama about the case. The senators called on the President to give humanitarian priority to the Gross case and to take any step in the national interest and in an expedite way to achieve his release, which would have their support.

Nordic Solidiarity Brigade Visits Cuba

ARTEMISA, Cuba, Dec 3 (acn) Activists from Sweden, the U.K., Finland, Denmark and Russia make up the 57 contingent of the Nordic Brigade in Solidarity with Cuba, which arrived Monday in the western province of Artemisa.

The activists come to take a first-hand look at Cuban reality, which is being distorted or silenced in their own countries. The visitors, who will visit several community projects on the island, are scheduled to pay a visit till December 22, said Swedish activist Lars Oberg.

They will also meet with relatives of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who were given extremely long sentences in the United States after they infiltrated Florida-based terrorist organizations, said Luis Marron, an official with the Cuban Friendship Institute.

The solidarity brigade is also scheduled to visit several sites of interest in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Villa Clara and Havana and they will also do voluntary work in citrus fruit plantations and in ongoing reconstruction of the Julio Antonio Mella international camp, where they are currently staying.

British citizen Jacn Haninaton said he was interested in having a closer look at the cause of the five anti-terrorists, whom he has learned of on the Internet, while Swedish Tara Alden said that since this is her first visit to Cuba, she is interested in learning about Cuban culture and the humane solidairty and hospitality of the Cuban people. She said that she expects to make friends here in Cuba to return each year for new experiences.

Cuba with the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate in its History

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 4 (acn) Cuba celebrated Latin American Medicine Day on Tuesday as the country has the lowest infant mortality rate in its history, according to Health Minister Roberto Morales.

In statements to local television, Doctor Morales said that the country registered a 4.2 infant mortality rate, an indicator keeps stable in all Cuban provinces within a range going from 3 to only 5.5 percent, he said. The result proves the sustainable work underway in the Cuban health sector.

Book on Cuban Educational System Presented in Berlin

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 4 (acn) Doctor Jürgen Kupfer presented in the city of Berlin his book Cuba: Education and School for All, during a meeting attended by friends of the Caribbean island and German professors interested on this topic.

The text, the first of its kind in that European nation, is the result of several years of research work carried out by this German pedagogue and answers questions on Cuba’s educational system, the Web site reported on Tuesday.

Likewise, the book shows, with objectivity, the island’s achievements in the field of education and states the negative effects of the U.S. blockade against Cuba.

The author underlined the importance of Jose Marti’s thinking in the conception of Cuban education and stressed the efforts of the revolutionary government to expand education to all places in the country as a basic right of the people.

The meeting was organized with the support of the Berlin-Cuba Friendship Association and the society Education for Peace and Policy for Peace, of Berlin’s Education and Science Union.

Cuba and Japan Sign Bilateral Accord in Medical Technologies

HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 3 (acn) Cuba and Japan reached a bilateral accord to set up a collaboration framework in advanced medical technologies with the participation of Japan's private sector.

According to PL news agency, the accord was penned by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and a Cuban delegation from the ministries of foreign trade and investment, and health.

The Cuban delegation met with Japanese government officials from the ministries of Economy, Trade and Industry, and with representatives of teh Japan-Cuba Friendship Parliamentary Legue, as well of the recently created Medical Excellence Japan organization.

The mission was headed by Rigoberto Enoa, director of economic policies for Asia and Oceania with the Cuban Foreign Trade Ministry, and it also included eminent doctors with the National Health Committee at the Cuban Parliament.


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