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News on Cuba - July 8, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Statement by the Revolutionary Government

Havana, Cuba - July 1, 2015 - With the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with the United States, the lifting of the blockade, among other issues, will be essential to the ultimate normalization of relations

On July 1, 2015, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, exchanged letters through which they confirmed the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations between the two countries and open permanent diplomatic missions in their respective capitals, from July 20, 2015.

That same day, the official opening ceremony of the Embassy of Cuba in Washington will be held, in the presence of a Cuban delegation led by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and composed of distinguished representatives of Cuban society.

By formalizing this step, Cuba and the United States ratified the intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments, based on the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, in particular the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

The Government of Cuba has decided to reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States in full exercise of its sovereignty, invariably committed to the ideals of independence and social justice, and in solidarity with the just causes of the world, and reaffirming each of the principles for which our people have shed their blood and ran all risks, led by the historic leader of the Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz.

With the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies, the first phase concludes of what will be a long and complex process towards the normalization of bilateral ties, as part of which a set of issues will have to be resolved arising from past policies, still in force, which affect the Cuban people and nation.

There can be no normal relations between Cuba and the United States as long as the economic, commercial and financial blockade that continues to be rigorously applied, causing damages and scarcities for the Cuban people, is maintained, it is the main obstacle to the development of our economy, constitutes a violation of International Law and affects the interests of all countries, including those of the United States.

To achieve normalization it will also be indispensable that the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is returned, that radio and television transmissions to Cuba that are in violation of international norms and harmful to our sovereignty cease, that programs aimed at promoting subversion and internal destabilization are eliminated, and that the Cuban people are compensated for the human and economic damages caused by the policies of the United States.

In recalling the outstanding issues to be resolved between the two countries, the Cuban Government recognizes the decisions adopted thus far by President Obama, to exclude Cuba from the list of state sponsors of international terrorism, to urge the U.S. Congress to lift the blockade and to begin to take steps to modify the application of aspects of this policy in exercise of his executive powers.

As part of the process towards the normalization of relations, in turn, the foundations of ties that have not existed between our countries in all their history will need to be constructed, in particular, since the military intervention of the United States 117 years ago, in the independence war that Cuba fought for nearly three decades against Spanish colonialism.

These relations must be founded on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, without interference in any form; and sovereign equality and reciprocity, which constitute inalienable principles of International Law.

The Government of Cuba reiterates its willingness to maintain a respectful dialogue with the Government of the United States and develop relations of civilized coexistence, based on respect for the differences between the two governments and cooperation on issues of mutual benefit.

Cuba will continue immersed in the process of updating its economic and social model, to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism, advance the development of the country and consolidate the achievements of the Revolution.


Africa Embraces the Five

The Five Cuban Heroes were received with expressions of love and admiration during their first tour of Namibia, after a 10-day visit to South Africa; and before heading to Angola.

By Nuria Barbosa León

The Five Cuban Heroes were received with expressions of love and admiration during their first tour of Namibia, after a 10-day visit to South Africa, stopping in five of the country’s provinces: Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape; and before heading to Angola.

Founding President of the Republic of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, embraced the Five at his home in Etunda, where they spoke for half an hour. Nujoma began by inquiring as to the health of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. Also present during the conversation was current President Hage Geingob, who described the Cuban anti-terrorists as an example of resistance.

In the capital of Windhoek, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González paid tribute to the fallen of Namibia’s independence struggles at theHeroes' Acre memorial, greeted people from the community of Katutura, visited the Independence Memorial Museum and participated in a solidarity rally.

Peya Mushelenga, interim Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, who accompanied the Five for the majority of their visit, made a statement in which he expressed the significance of their visit to his country.

Fernando González, vice president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, also commented on the expressions of love they had received from the Namibian people and the Cuban collaborators working in the country.

He described their stay as beautiful and fruitful, with many expressions of solidarity.

On their arrival, Deputy Minister of Environment, Tommy Nambahu, told the Five how much they are admired by the people who know of their work in defense of peace and against terrorism.

In Angola, the Five and their relations lay a floral wreath at the monument to Agostinho Neto, first President of the African nation, and spoke with Roberto de Almeida, vice president of the People's Movementfor the Liberation ofAngola(MPLA).

Later, they visited the Alto das Cruces Cemetery where they laid flowers at the site where the remains of internationalist fighter Raúl Díaz Argüelles lie. Díaz Argüelles, a Cuban martyr, died on December 11, 1975, in the southern province of Cuanza Sur, from wounds sustained after a land mine explosion which destroyed his tank.

In South Africa, the Five participated in an international solidarity symposium organized by the Tripartite Alliance, which was devised during International Colloquium held in Havana in September 2014 to demand the release of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, then still incarcerated in U.S. prisons.

The final declaration – read out by Chris Matlhako, secretary general of the Society of Friendship with Cuba in South Africa (FOCUS) - was unanimously approved. He stated that the solidarity movement will continue to work given that, although the Five are now free, challenges still remain; such as ending the genocidal U.S. blockade imposed on the island and the return of the illegally occupied Guantánamo Naval Base territory.

Fathe Michael Lapsley and Justice Zac Jacob were among the key speakers of the event, also attended by the Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe, in addition to the Premier of the province of Gauteng, David Makhura.

During the encounter, each of the Cuban patriots recounted anecdotes of their case and lives in general. Ramón’s wife, Elizabeth Palmeiro, spoke about the impact of 16 years of separation on the families, as well as efforts made to secure the return of their loved ones.

The Five’s African tour began on June 21, in Cape Town, legislative capital of South Africa and the province of Western Cape, and concluded in Angola on July 8, where Gerardo Hernández, René González and Fernando González, served as internationalist fighters.

 

 
News on Cuba - June 25, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

The Five on Robben Island: A tribute to Mandela

Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René visited the island where Mandela was imprisoned and paid tribute to his example of the triumph of human spirit over adversity

By Deisy Francis Mexidor
 
ROBBEN ISLAND, South Africa - June 25, 2015 — A sign in English and Afrikaans announces arrival on Robben Island, situated off the coast of Cape Town, a site which encompasses a painful history, thankfully now past for South Africans.

The island of dry sand and strong winds, surrounded by sharp reefs and the unique sound of the thousands of birds that fly overhead, is today a symbol of freedom.

To get there, you have to board a boat at the Nelson Mandela memorial located in the commercial and tourist district of Waterfront.

The journey is about 12 kilometers, a half hour boat ride, enough to reflect on the triumph of human spirit over adversity encompassed by this historical site.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Five Cuban anti-terrorists who themselves were greatly inspired by the spirit of resistance of Prisoner No.46664, Nelson Mandela, during their imprisonment in the U.S., traveled to the island as part of their tour of South Africa.

Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years that the apartheid regime kept him imprisoned on Robben Island.

Accompanied by Ahmed Kathrada, who was also imprisoned alongside Mandela, the Five toured the historical site that was opened as a museum on January 1st, 1997 and declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999.

Certain areas are usually off-limits to tourists, but Kathrada provided the Five with access to Mandela’s cell, a small, damp and unimaginable space.

They studied the iron bars through which only hands could pass, the blanket on the floor that was all Mandela had for a bed, the bench and a small window.

Each of them looked, touched the walls and tried to take an almost photographic image with their own eyes. It was a private moment of reflection. No questions were required.

Then, as they gathered to take a photo, Fernando noted the date: “Today is June 23. In 2001, 14 years ago, the Comandante en Jefe (Fidel Castro) said we would return (to Cuba).” Meanwhile, Gerardo wrote in the guestbook on behalf of the Five: “It has been a great honor to visit this place together with some of the brave compañeros of Nelson Mandela.”

The message continued, “all of them were a source of inspiration and strength for the Five Cubans to withstand the more than 16 years in U.S. jails.”

Gerardo stressed that this was a legacy that “the Five will honor for the rest of our lives.”


CUBAN ANTI-TERRORISTS RECEIVED BY SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT

CAPE TOWN.—Members of the African National Congress (ANC) in the South African parliament received the Five during their visit to the legislative capital of the country.

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli, said that the Five are an inspiration across the world.

In exclusive statements to Prensa Latina, Tsenoli highlighted the example of resistance that these men provided whilst in U.S. prisons, where they remained confined for an extended and unjust period of time.

The legislator also stressed the contribution of Cuban solidarity to the African cause, a sentiment that is continuously repeated.

Since their arrival on June 21, when they were welcomed by ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, the Five have had the chance to talk with the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

They were also warmly welcomed by members of the Society of Friendship with Cuba in South Africa (FOCUS) and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), who did so much to secure their release.

The visit by Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René will conclude on July 3 and forms part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter.

According to their busy schedule, they will travel this Thursday, June 25, to the province of Gauteng to complete their tour of five of the nine South African provinces.

The Five then continue on to Namibia and conclude their tour of Africa in Angola, where three of them (Gerardo, Fernando and René) served as internationalist fighters.

 

 
News on Cuba - April 12, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Raúl: We came to fulfill the mandate of Marti with the freedom won by our own hands

Redacción Internacional - April 11, 2015 - Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity, enabling Cuba to participate equally in this hemispheric forum, as well as the President of the Republic of Panama for the invitation to attend.

President Raúl Castro said this Saturday that Cuba was attending the 7th Summit of the Americas in order to fulfill the mandate of Martí with the freedom won by our own hands.
 
He thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity, enabling Cuba to participate equally in this hemispheric forum, as well as the President of the Republic of Panama for the invitation to attend. He also expressed thanks for the extended time he had been given, given that Cuba’s “many years of absence” justified that he speak a little longer than the usual eight minutes allotted.

Raúl noted that with the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on December 2 and 3, 2011, in Caracas, a new era in the history of Our America began, clearly establishing the hard earned right of its peoples’ to live in peace and freely develop as they decide fit as well as mapping a path for future development and integration based on cooperation, solidarity and the common will to preserve their independence, sovereignty and identity.

In 1800, the U.S. had considered adding Cuba to the Union, marking the southern boundary of the vast empire. In the nineteenth century, the doctrine of Manifest Destiny emerged with the aim of dominating the Americas and the world, together with the theory of the “Ripe Fruit” regarding the inevitable gravitation of Cuba toward the Union, which rejected the development of emancipatory thinking.

Raúl stated that later, through wars, conquests and interventions, this expansionist and hegemonic force stripped Our America of its territories extending down to the Rio Grande.

Following long and frustrated struggles, José Martí organized the “necessary war” and created the Cuban Revolutionary Party to lead it and to found a Republic “with all and for the good of all,” which set out to achieve “the full dignity of man.”

Accurately defining and anticipating the characteristics of his time, Martí devoted himself to the duty “of preventing the United States from spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”

Our America for him was that of the Creoles, the indigenous, the blacks and mulattos, the mestizo and hardworking America that had to make common cause with the oppressed. Today, beyond geography, this is an ideal that is starting to become reality, Raúl explained.

He added that 117 years ago, on April 11, 1898, the then President of the United States requested authorization from Congress to militarily intervene in the independence war, already won with rivers of Cuban blood, and that this body passed a deceptive Joint Resolution, which recognized the independence of the island “in fact and law.” They came as allies and seized the country as occupiers.

An appendix to its Constitution was imposed on Cuba, the Platt Amendment, which stripped the island of its sovereignty, authorizing the powerful neighbor to intervene in its internal affairs and led to the establishment of the Guantanamo Naval Base, which still usurps part of our territory. During this period, the invasion of northern capital increased, there were two military interventions and the U.S. supported cruel dictatorships.

On January 1st, 1959, 60 years after American soldiers entered Havana, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro Ruz arrived in the capital.

On April 6, 1960, just a year after the victory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, wrote in a perverse memorandum, declassified decades later, that “the majority of Cubans support Castro...There is no effective political opposition…The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… to weaken the economic life of Cuba… denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government,” the Army General quoted.

He also spoke further of the great hardship that Cubans have endured. 77% of the Cuban population was born under the rigors imposed by the blockade. “But our patriotic convictions prevailed. The aggression increased the resistance and accelerated the revolutionary process. Here we are with our heads held high and our dignity intact,” he emphasized.

Once we had already proclaimed socialism and the people had fought to defend the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy was assassinated precisely at the moment when the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, had received a message from him looking to initiate a dialogue, he continued.

At another point in his speech, the Army General stated that he had expressed to President Barack Obama and was now reiterating our willingness to engage in respectful dialogue and a civilized coexistence between the two states despite our profound differences.

He described President Obama as an honest man and said that he believed that this nature arose from his humble origins. But he stressed that normalizing relations is one thing and the blockade is another.

He considered Obama’s recent statement indicating that a decision regarding Cuba’s presence on the list of state sponsors of terrorism would be reached shortly as a positive step, noting that the island should never have appeared on the list.

To date, the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which continues to be applied in full force against the island, has caused damages and shortages for the Cuban people and is the key obstacle to the development of our economy. It constitutes a violation of international law and its extraterritorial scope affects the interests of all States, he underlined.

For our part, we will continue to be deeply immersed in the process of updating the Cuban economic model with the aim of perfecting our socialism, moving towards further development and consolidating the achievements of a Revolution that has resolved to “conquer all justice.”

He also stated that Venezuela is not and cannot be a threat to the national security of a superpower like the United States and described the fact that the U.S. President has acknowledged this as positive.

“Cuba will continue to defend the ideas for which our people have assumed the greatest sacrifices and risks and fought for, alongside the poor, the sick lacking medical care, the unemployed, children abandoned or forced to work or prostitute themselves, the hungry, the discriminated against, the oppressed and the exploited that constitute the vast majority of the world population,” he highlighted.

The Cuban President also noted that financial speculation, the privileges of Bretton Woods and the unilateral suspension of the convertibility of the dollar into gold are increasingly asphyxiating. “We need a transparent and equitable financial system.”

He said that it is unacceptable that less than a dozen emporiums, mainly American, determine what is read, seen or heard across the planet.

Raúl added that the Internet must have an international, democratic and participatory governance, especially in regards to the generation of content. He also paraphrased one of Aesop's Fables and said the Internet serves for the best but also the worst.

Furthermore, he considered the militarization of cyberspace and the covert and illegal employment of computer systems to attack other States as unacceptable. “We will not allow them to dazzle or colonize us again.”

Raúl argued that hemispheric relations must change profoundly, particularly in the political, economic and cultural spheres; in order that, based on international law and the exercise of self-determination and sovereign equality, they focus on the development of mutually beneficial links and cooperation to serve the interests of all our nations and the goals they set themselves.

He recalled that the adoption in January 2014, at the Second CELAC Summit, in Havana, of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, was an important contribution to this end, marked by Latin American and Caribbean unity in diversity.

The Cuban President stressed that “the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition to guarantee peaceful coexistence among nations,” must be respected, as stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

He concluded that thanks to Fidel and the heroic Cuban people, we have come to this Summit, to fulfill the mandate of Marti with the freedom won by our own hands, “proud of our America, to serve and honor her...with the determination and capacity to help ensure that she is valued for her merits, and respected for her sacrifices.”


Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Extraordinary Alba-TCP Summit, convened in solidarity with the sister nation of Venezuela, held in Caracas, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, March 17, 2015

Esteemed Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America;

Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests;

Compañeras and compañeros:

ALBA brings us together today to reaffirm our firmest support for the Bolivarian people and government in the face of the latest interventionist measures and threats from the U.S. government against Venezuela.

The facts demonstrate that history cannot be ignored. The relations between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean have been marked by the “Monroe Doctrine” and the objective of exercising domination and hegemony over our nations.

Bolívar had anticipated that the United States, “seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of Liberty” and Martí fell in combat before concluding the letter in which he explained the “duty of preventing the United States from spreading throughout the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”

Later came the military interventions, the coup d’états, the maneuvers to overthrow nationalist or progressive governments, the backing of bloody military dictatorships, the undercover operations, the support for terrorism and subversion, as well as the appropriation and plundering of our resources to perpetuate dependence and underdevelopment.

The triumphant audacity to carry out a socialist revolution just 90 miles from the United States, has meant immense sacrifices, suffering, loss of life and material deprivation for the Cuban people, subject to, since that very revolutionary triumph, 56 years ago, every kind of hostility, including the support and organization of armed bands in the mountains from the end of that same year of 1959 – that is, since the very year of the triumph of the Revolution – the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and the formalization of the blockade in 1962, all with the stated intention of defeating the Revolution and changing the political, economic and social order we freely chose and subsequently confirmed in a constitutional referendum.

The result has been a resounding failure, the harming of our people and the complete isolation of the United States in its intentions, as recently recognized by President Barack Obama on announcing a new policy and resolving to open another chapter. However, his government spokespeople insist on clarifying that the objectives persist and only the methods change.

The triumph of the Bolivarian Revolution was an extraordinary milestone in the history of Venezuela and the whole region, which had begun to awaken from the long neoliberal slumber. An era of change commenced in the continent and other nations decided to embark on the path towards full independence and integration and again take up the flags of our national heroes.

Alba, Unasur, CELAC were born, which united, in their diversity, previous groupings and initiatives of genuine Latin Americanist and Caribbean calling, founded on principles of solidarity, cooperation, social justice and defense of sovereignty.

PetroCaribe was an extraordinary, generous and humanistic contribution of President Hugo Chávez Frías. Now they want to destroy PetroCaribe to threaten its member states, submit them to the oil multinationals and separate them from Venezuela. They do not realize that our peoples have decided, irrevocably, to continue our unstoppable advance and fight for a multipolar and just world, where those who were historically excluded have a voice, hope and dignity.

U.S. imperialism has attempted, without success, practically all possible formulas to destabilize and subvert the Bolivarian Chavista revolution, to recuperate its control of the largest oil reserves on the planet, and deliver a blow to the integrationist, emancipation process underway in Our America.

The arbitrary, aggressive, unjustified executive order issued by the President of the United States regarding the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s government, describing it as a threat to its national security, shows that the United States is able to sacrifice the peace and the direction of hemispheric and regional relations, for reasons of domination and domestic politics.

The idea is untenable that a country like Venezuela - which has shown so much solidarity, never invaded or harmed any other, and contributes in a significant and altruistic manner to the energy security and economic stability of a considerable number of nations of the continent - could represent a threat to the security of the greatest super-power in history.

We support the honorable, valiant, constructive position taken by President Nicolás Maduro, (applause) who, despite the seriousness of this threat, has extended his hand to the President of the United States, to initiate a dialogue based on international law and mutual respect, which could lead to the unconditional revocation of President Obama’s executive order and the normalization of relations. (Applause) Alba and CELAC should join in this proposal.

Today Venezuela is not alone, nor is our region the one it was 20 years ago. We will not tolerate the violation of sovereignty or allow peace in the region to be broken with impunity.

As we have reiterated, threats to the peace and stability of Venezuela represent threats to regional stability and peace, as well.

The peace which Venezuela today demands and which we all need, a “peace with justice, with equality, the peace on our feet, not on our knees, is peace with dignity and development,” as Maduro said, is the peace to which we committed ourselves in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, adopted by the II CELAC Summit in Havana.

Our country’s position under these circumstances remains unchanged. I reiterate the firm solidarity of the Cuban Revolution with the Bolivarian Revolution, with constitutional President Nicolás Maduro and with the civic-military union which he heads. (Applause) I reiterate our absolute loyalty to the memory of Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, the Cuban Revolution’s best friend. (Applause)

As has been stated, we reaffirm once again, “The Cuban collaborators present in the sister country, will continue to fulfill their duties under any circumstances whatsoever, to the benefit of the fraternal, noble, generous people of Venezuela.”

The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible. (Applause)

Nor will we concede one iota in the defense of sovereignty and independence, or tolerate any type of interference or conditions on our internal affairs.

Nor will we cease to defend just causes in Our America and the world, nor will we ever abandon our brothers in the struggle. We have come to close ranks with Venezuela and Alba, and reaffirm that principles are not negotiable. (Applause)

To defend these convictions, we will attend the 7th Summit of the Americas. We will present our positions, with firmness, clarity and respect. We will reject with determination any attempt to isolate or threaten Venezuela, and demand a definitive end to the blockade of Cuba.

Cuban civil society will be the voice of those without a voice, and we will expose the mercenaries who will appear there as Cuba’s civil society

We must call upon all peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and remain alert in the defense of Venezuela. Solidarity is the foundation of unity and regional integration.

Thank you very much. (Applause)


Raúl Castro and Barack Obama meet at the 7th Summit of the Americas

Granma - April 11, 2015 - Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama, of Cuba and the United States, held a meeting in Panama in the context of the 7th Summit of the Americas, in which both are participating

PANAMA. – Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama finally met this Saturday, April 11, during a break in the sessions of the last day of the 7th Summit of the Americas, a meeting highly anticipated by everyone here.

After each had made his speech and moments after posing for the usual Official Photo, the two leaders gathered for the meeting in a small room at the ATLAPA Convention Center.

There, Raúl said that the key aspect is that we are willing to discuss everything, including human rights and press freedom. These and other issues relating to Cuba and also the United States.

I think everything can be discussed, if done so with mutual respect, the Cuban President considered. “It may be that we convince each other of certain things, but not others.”

We should be under no illusions, he warned, we have many differences and a complex history, but we are ready to move forwards in these meetings to establish diplomatic relations.

Raúl referred to the opening of embassies, increased visits between the two countries and to engage in all the issues pertinent to “such close neighbors”.

We can talk about everything with patience, even in these times when life moves so fast, he said. We hope that our closest collaborators know how to comply with the instructions of both Presidents.

Obama for his part, said that the history between the U.S. and Cuba was complicated, as there has been a climate of mistrust for a long time. After 50 years it is time for us to try something new, he said.

It is important to maintain contact between the two governments and peoples, he added. “We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future, we will leave behind the things that complicated the past.”

Obama said the two peoples have positively supported the changes. As exchanges increase I believe there will be more direct contact and greater connection between our countries, he said.

There will continue to be deep and significant differences, we will continue to attempt to “raise concerns about democracy and human rights.”

“As Raúl said in his impassioned speech they are also attempting to raise those concerns,” Obama noted, later adding that, “Over time, it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries.”

We want our diplomats to have more daily contact, he said, to the point of opening the two embassies.

“Thanks to Castro for the spirit of openness that he has demonstrated towards us.” We can continue to construct our relationship based on mutual respect, he said.

Castro spoke in his speech of the hardships that the Cubans have had to endure, my policy is to help them to be more prosperous, “the Cubans are an enlightened, intelligent and brilliant people,” he concluded.

Also attending the relaxed meeting were Susan Rice, National Security adviser; Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security adviser; and Ricardo Zúñiga, senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. Representing Cuba were Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla; Alejandro Castro Espín and Juan Francisco Arias Fernández, both of the Commission for National Security and Defense; and MINREX Director General for the United States, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro.
 

Daughter of Che Repudiates Presence of his Murder in Panama

CUBA, Prensa Latina - April 11, 2015 - Aleida Guevara, daughter of Cuban-Argentinean revolutionary man Ernesto Che Guevara, considered today a shame the participation in the activities prior to the Summit of the Americas, in Panama, of Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia, involved in the assassination of her father.

He, who allowed that, went out of his mind, and she reiterated several timers the word shame to describe the presence of the former agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

According to the statements by Che's daughter to the Cuban television, Felix was a CIA instrument and was despicably willing to order the assassination.

She also called a provocation the presence of Rodriguez Mendigutia at the continental meeting, the first in history that Cuba attends.

But at the same time, it is a total discredit for them, before the public opinion (in reference to the former agent and other anti-Cuban mercenaries), because it is obvious that they are trying to cause problems and that the summit does not develop well, she remarked.

As daughter of the revolutionary man admired in the world said to feel satisfied with the rejection expressed by Cuban and people from other countries that are participating in the activities prior to the summit.

The representatives of the Caribbean island issued a statement to to denounce the participation of the terrorist in Panama and demand his expulsion of the Central American country.


Cuban Medical Brigade Departs for Chile

CUBA, April 10, 2015 (ACN).  Cuban Public Health Minister Roberto Morales, member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, gave on Thursday in this capital a Cuban flag to the medical brigade that left for Chile to mitigate the effects of the disaster caused by heavy rain.

At Terminal Five of Havana's Jose Marti International Airport, the Minister gave the flag to Dr. Jorge Armando Delgado, who is part of this group of 15 health professionals of the Henry Reeve International Contingent –nine physicians, six specialists of Comprehensive General Medicine, and three epidemiologists, in addition to four infirmary and two hygiene and epidemiology graduates.

Dr. Carlos Perez, head of the brigade, a specialist of Internal Medicine with two internationalist missions, read the commitment of that brigade, which reads: "we'll fight new battles for life; once again we will represent revolutionary medicine and the Cuban health system, in the best way possible."


Cuba presents business opportunities in Panama Summit of the Americas

PANAMA, April 10, 2015 (ACN) - In the 2nd Business Summit of the Americas, which meets from last Wednesday at the Panamanian capital, Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, explained the new opportunities offered by the island in tune with its process of economic update.

Cuba will introduce, in the forum parallel to the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama, its current portfolio of projects aimed at encouraging foreign investment in key sectors to demonstrate how much it is being done for energizing its economic development.

In the 2nd Business Summit of the Americas, which meets from last Wednesday at the Panamanian capital, Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, explained the new opportunities offered by the island in tune with its process of economic update.

Malmierca, the only Cuban confirmed to intervene in that alternative forum, said the portfolio includes 246 projects, valued at 8.7 billion dollars, and is focused to develop 11 sectors of high priority for Cuba, with the participation of foreign capital.

The minister also highlighted the Mariel Special Development Zone, a megaproject destined to become the main gate to trade in Cuba with the world, which main attraction is a port terminal equipped with the latest technologies to store more than 800,000 20-feet containers per year.

These new experiences confirm the interest of Cuba to strengthen and expand its economic relations with various countries, especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean, in spite of the blockade imposed by the US government for more than half a century, said Malmierca to business leaders in the region present at the meeting.

On the policy of the White House, the Cuban minister said that despite the desire shown by many US business groups to establish and increase their links with the Caribbean nation, they are still limited by arbitrary measures such as the ban on Cuba to use the US dollar in its financial transactions abroad.

In that sense, Malmierca also mentioned the inability to export Cuban products to the United States and to use trade credits, and other regulations that hinder transportation, hamper trade and prohibit investment.

Despite these limitations, the island proudly displays today high standards of education, health indicators comparable only with first world countries , significant achievements in gender equality, broad advances in the field of environmental sustainability and the compliance of the Millennium Development Goals, the Cuban official stressed.

In addition, there has been cooperation links with more than 160 developing countries, mainly in education and health.

"These results that highlight Cuba's government commitment with its people and humanity have only been possible thanks to the work of the Revolution," Malmierca stated.

On the relations between Cuba and the United States, the representative of Cuba to the Panamanian forum said that, notwithstanding the statements made by President Barack Obama in favor of a restoration of bilateral ties, the blockade remains in place, and this is the main obstacle for the achievement of a bilateral exchange.

He reaffirmed that Cuba will continue to promote progress in regional integration and boosting the potentials that are untapped, from more efficient economic schemes in the context of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

After closing, Malmierca and other members of the Cuban delegation to the 2nd Business Summit met behind closed doors with Americans and representatives of the Department of Commerce from that northern country accredited to the appointment.


Chancellor of Argentina qualifies as historical Cuban participation at the Summit of the Americas

April 11, 2015 - Argentina (Cubaminrex) - The participation of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas is a historic event, manifested Hector Timerman, Chancellor of Argentina, hour before the inauguration of this summit in Panama.

Timerman expressed that "the fact that Cuba is seated today at the Summit is result of the great debates", and to this respect, recalled last summit in Colombian city Cartagena  during which "many nations warned that they would not attend if Cuba were not invited. Argentine is proud for having supported the presence of Cuba", expressed the Chancellor.

 

 
News on Cuba - March 25, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

A Total of 28 Ministers Confirm Presence in Havana’s International Health Convention

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 24 (acn) Cuba’s Deputy Health Minister, Doctor Marcia Cobas, announced that 28 ministers have already confirmed their attendance to the International Health Convention that will be held in this capital on April 20-24.

Over 600 papers by foreign delegates have been received and a dozen of the world’s most prestigious medical sciences publishing houses will be present, among them three of the United States, specified the Deputy Minister.

The 13th edition of the Health for All Commercial Fair will be held parallel to this meeting, at Havana’s Pabexpo Pavilion, in which 25 nations will be represented, including Cuba, and will contribute to boost negotiations and the commercialization of the island’s medical services, emphasized Cobas.

From now on, the Fair –the last edition of which took place 10 years ago - will take place every two and a half years, she added.

In statements to ACN, Doctor Iliana Morales, executive secretary of Cuba/Salud 2015 recalled that in 2005 Health for All was attended by a high number of international entrepreneurs and that on this occasion there will also be keynote lectures, round tables and business rounds.

The Convention will welcome over 1,000 delegates from all parts of the world, more than 400 of them Cubans, while over 100 personalities have confirmed their participation, concluded Doctor Morales.


City Historian Eusebio Leal Receives Acknowledgement of the Dominican Senate

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 24 (acn) Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal received on Tuesday an acknowledgement given by the Senate of the Dominican Republic, for his willingness, sacrifice and commitment to the preservation of Cuba’s historic heritage, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.

The ceremony was scheduled for the Juan Pablo Duarte Multipurpose Hall of the National Congress Palace in Santo Domingo, where Leal gave a lecture entitled "Historic relation between Cuba and the Dominican Republic.”

Later, he was invested with the Honoris Causa Doctorate by the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, where he also gave a lecture for professors and students.

The Cuban historian was received on Tuesday by Dominican President Danilo Medina at the National Palace, and on Wednesday he will take part in the ceremony to mark the 120th anniversary of the Manifesto of Montecristi.


Cuban Medical Professionals Return from Africa

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 23 (acn) Following a successful mission against Ebola in Africa, 150 Cuban medical professionals returned home, 98 of them worked in Sierra Leone and 52 in Liberia.

The medical brigade arrived at early hours Monday at the Juan Gualberto Gomez international airport in Varadero, western Matanzas province, after a nearly five-month mission that contributed to save over 400 lives threatened by the Ebola virus in Africa.

They are part of the Henry Reeve International Contingent, which groups 256 medical workers, who traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea following the call by the United Nations and the World Health Organization to fight the lethal disease in those African nations.

Following their arrival here, the medical personnel will be submitted to an epidemiological control established for all persons coming from countries affected by the Ebola virus.


Cuba and the EU to Continue Holding Constructive Talks

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 24 (acn) Cuba renewed on Tuesday in this capital its constructive commitment to the process of negotiation for an ongoing agreement of a political dialogue and bilateral cooperation with the European Union (EU).

Bruno Rodriguez, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed at his Ministry that the process will have positive results, while receiving Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU, and Vice-president of the European Commission.

I’m conviced that bases agreed for relations between the EU and Cuba and for these negotiations, of sovereign equality, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, will lead us to a beneficial end, said Rodriguez.

He expressed his appreciation for the vote of the member states of that community at the U.N. General Assembly in October, against the economic, financial and commercial blockade of the United States against Cuba.

Federica Mogherini is on her first official visit to Cuba and coincided with Rodriguez in the need to continue political and cooperation talks.

My presence in Havana responds to the willingness the two parties have to continue holding these talks, she pointed out, and suggested the possibility of exploring the signing of other agreements.

Cuba has diplomatic relations with the EU since 1988 and its bilateral relations began a new stage in April, 2014, with the opening of the process of negotiations o fan Agreement of Political Dialogue and Cooperation between the two parties, which represented the beginning of the ed of unilateral policies towards the island.


Cuba and UNESCO to Deepen Diplomatic and Cooperation Links

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 24 (acn) Cuba and the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) reiterated in Paris their willingness to keep strengthening diplomatic and cooperation relations.

The statement was made during a meeting between UNESCO´s director general Irina Bokova and Cuban ambassador to that organization Dulce Maria Buergo, who presented her credentials before the UN official.

The meeting focused on major issues on the UNESCO agenda, including development post 2015, in which the island has played a major role in boosting and defending education, science and culture as part of that effort, according to the permanent Cuban mission.

Cuba has been an UNESCO member state since August 29, 1947. This year, the island has joined commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the UN organization with a large agenda of activities.

 

 
News on Cuba - March 20, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Raul Castro Reaffirms Full Support of Venezuela in the Face of US Interference
 
Caracas, March 18 (acn)  Cuban President Raul Castro said that the arbitrary, aggressive and groundless executive order issued by US President Barack Obama against the government of Venezuela, which declared the South American country a threat to US national security, reveals that the United States is capable of sacrificing peace and the course of hemispheric relations in the interest of domination and its domestic policy.
 
The Cuban President addressed the extraordinary summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas, a regional integration bloc known as ALBA, held in Caracas on Tuesday.
 
Raul described as unsustainable the idea that a supportive country like Venezuela, which has never invaded or attacked any other nation and that substantially contributes with altruism to the energy security and economic stability of a considerable number of nations of this continent, may represent a threat to the security of the strongest power in history.
 
“We back the honorable, brave and constructive position of president Nicolas Maduro, who despite the serious threat, has extended his hand to the president of the United States to open a dialog based on international law and mutual respect that leads to the unconditional repeal of that executive order and to the normalization of relations,” Raul noted.
 
Venezuela is not alone and our region is not the same as 20 years ago, said the Cuban president who added that “we will not tolerate the violation of sovereignty or the damage of peace with impunity in the region.” He stressed that the threats against peace and stability in Venezuela represent a threat against regional stability and peace.
 
Raul Castro noted that the United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba or to intimidate Venezuela. “Our unity is indestructible,” he pointed out.
 
He said that “we will not yield a bit in the defense of sovereignty and independence nor we tolerate any kind of interference, or conditioning in our internal affairs.”
 
The Cuban head of state also said “we will never leave our brothers in struggle on their own.”
 
Finally, Raul Castro said that the principles are not negotiable and in order to defend such conviction, Cuba will go to the 7th Summit of the Americas  in April to expose its position with firmness, clarity and respect. In that meeting, we will strongly reject all attempts to isolate or threaten Venezuela and we will demand the definitive cease of the US blockade of Cuba.

 

Cuba´s First Vice-president Attends Inauguration of Namibian President

HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (acn) Cuba´s first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel is in Namibia to attend the swearing-in ceremony for president-elect Hage Geingob and to participate at celebrations for the 25th anniversary of that country´s national independence.
 
According to Granma newspaper, Diaz-Canel will meet in the capital Windhoek with top government Namibian officials and with the country´s founding father Sam Nujoma. He will also visit places of historic interest.
 
The Cuban official arrived Thursday afternoon in Namibia and first on his agenda was a visit to Cuban workers who are offering their services in that sister African nation. On the occasion, Diaz-Canel stressed the internationalism, altruism and humanistic vocation as values that must always be defended.
 
In briefing the workers about the events underway in Cuba he pointed to two scenarios: the economy and the ideological work.
 
He said that Cubans celebrate Namibia´s independence as we recall all we did together, in reference to the contribution by Cuban combatants to the liberation of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.
 
Diaz-Canel also stressed the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Namibia and Cuba shortly after the African nation go its independence on March 21st, 1990. That same year, he said, Cuba began assisting Namibia in the field of health in tune with a request made by then president Sam Nujoma.
 
At present, a total of 139 Cuban health workers are offering assistance in 13 out of 14 Namibian regions.
 
Diaz-Canel, who will depart Windhoek on Monday for India, is heading a delegation that includes the general director of bilateral affairs at Cuba´s Foreign Ministry, Gerardo Penalver, and the director for Sub-Saharan Africa at the Ministry Angel Villa.

 

WHO to Evaluate Cuban Syphilis and HIV Transmission Levels
 
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (acn) Experts with the World Health Organization (WHO) will arrive March 22 in Havana to consider the certification of Cuba as the first country in the world to have wiped out the transmission of Syphilis and HIV via mother to child.
 
The announcement was made by first deputy Health minister Doctor Jose Angel Portal during a meeting with the press in Havana also attended by Health minister Roberto Morales and other officials.
 
The WHO representatives will visit doctor´s offices in neighborhoods in Havana, central Villa Clara and eastern Santiago de Cuba provinces, where they will evaluate the results of the Cuban Prevention Program for Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
 
The deputy minister said Cuba is in conditions to be certified by the world organization given its notable results in the area.
 
The certification of a country for having eliminated the mother-to-child transmission of congenital syphilis must include indicators such as a vertical transmission rate equal or below 0.5 in every 1 thousand live birds, and for HIV the rate must be equal or below 2 percent, said Doctor Rosaida Ochoa, director of the Promotion of Health and Disease Prevention Unit.

 

Namibian Street Named after Fidel Castro
 
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (acn) In the heart of downtown Windhoek, capital of Namibia, a street flanked by main commercial offices and businesses bears the name of Fidel Castro, in honor to the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.
 
This we learned from a PL news reporter Daisy Francis, who described the street as peculiar in its design, starting right at the entrance of Parliament and stretching one kilometer downwards to meet other important metropolitan avenues.
 
The fact that it was named after a live world figure is part of African culture, which not only names landmarks after diseased personalities as it usually happens in Latin America for instance. This way, you can also find in Windhoek the streets named after Namibia´s founding father, Sam Nujoma and independence Namibian leader Herman Andimba. However, it is Fidel Castro the only name of Latin American figure naming one of the city´s streets.
 
In Pretoria, when Nelson Mandela was still alive, there was a main avenue near the University of South Africa that had been named after him. The name of first black South African President is also present on a Windhoek street, as well as that of the leader of the People´s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, Agostinho Neto.
 
Other streets paying homage to Namibian and African figures are Hendrik Witbooi, a warrior that headed the Witbooi clan and who was killed in action in 1905 and Mandume Ya Ndemufayo, an anti-colonialist leader murdered in 1917 who defeated the Portuguese invaders in October 1916.
 
It is Windhoek, a city to be visited by Cuban First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his last leg of an African tour that has taken him to South Africa and Angola this week.
 
It is Windhoek that has preserved a touch of African, Nambian and world history right on the corners of its street, like an honor to the legacy of the great leaders of contemporary history.

 

Cuban Youth Contributes Experience to Panama Civil Society Forum
 
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (acn) Members of Cuban student organizations and youth movements are gathering in Havana to contribute, from their experience and reality, ideas and proposals to the Civil Society Forum that will take place in Panama April 8-10, during the 7th Summit of the Americas.
 
The forum, entitled The Youth and The Americas includes four panels addressing issues like citizen´s participation and governance, the environment and energy, education and health, and urban security.
 
The forum is being hosted by the University of Havana, the Higher Education Institute of Science and Technology and the Cuba Pavilion cultural exhibit hall. Also scheduled till April 1 is an on-line forum on the Soy Cuba website, to allow for larger participation by the Cuban youths.
 
This initiative, which was preceded by a similar forum with representatives of Cuban society earlier this week, will also include book launchings, performances by young artists, audiovisuals and different arts exhibits.

 

 
News on Cuba - March 19, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

We must call upon all the peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and be alert in defense of Venezuela

Photo: Estudio RevoluciónSpeech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Extraordinary Alba-TCP Summit, convened in solidarity with the sister nation of Venezuela, held in Caracas, the BolivarianRepublic of Venezuela, March 17, 2015

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Extraordinary Alba-TCP Summit, convened in solidarity with the sister nation of Venezuela, held in Caracas, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, March 17, 2015

(Council of State transcript)

Esteemed Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America;

Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests;

Compañeras and compañeros:
 
Photo: Estudio Revolución

ALBA brings us together today to reaffirm our firmest support for the Bolivarian people and government in the face of the latest interventionist measures and threats from the U.S. government against Venezuela.

The facts demonstrate that history can not be ignored. The relations between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean have been marked by the “Monroe Doctrine” and the objective of exercising domination and hegemony over our nations.

Bolívar had anticipated that the United States, “seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of Liberty” and Martí fell in combat before concluding the letter in which he explained the “duty of preventing the United States from spreading throughout the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”

Later came the military interventions, the coup d’états, the maneuvers to overthrow nationalist or progressive governments, the backing of bloody military dictatorships, the undercover operations, the support for terrorism and subversion, as well as the appropriation and plundering of our resources to perpetuate dependence and underdevelopment.

The triumphant audacity to carry out a socialist revolution just 90 miles from the United States, has meant immense sacrifices, suffering, loss of life and material deprivation for the Cuban people, subject to, since that very revolutionary triumph, 56 years ago, every kind of hostility, including the support and organization of armed bands in the mountains from the end of that same year of 1959 – that is, since the very year of the triumph of the Revolution – the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and the formalization of the blockade in 1962, all with the stated intention of defeating the Revolution and changing the political, economic and social order we freely chose and subsequently confirmed in a constitutional referendum.

The result has been a resounding failure, the harming of our people and the complete isolation of the United States in its intentions, as recently recognized by President Barack Obama on announcing a new policy and resolving to open another chapter. However, his government spokespeople insist on clarifying that the objectives persist and only the methods change.

The triumph of the Bolivarian Revolution was an extraordinary milestone in the history of Venezuela and the whole region, which had begun to awaken from the long neoliberal slumber. An era of change commenced in the continent and other nations decided to embark on the path towards full independence and integration and again take up the flags of our national heroes.

Alba, Unasur, CELAC were born, which united, in their diversity, previous groupings and initiatives of genuine Latin Americanist and Caribbean calling, founded on principles of solidarity, cooperation, social justice and defense of sovereignty.

PetroCaribe was an extraordinary, generous and humanistic contribution of President Hugo Chávez Frías. Now they want to destroy PetroCaribe to threaten its member states, submit them to the oil multinationals and separate them from Venezuela. They do not realize that our peoples have decided, irrevocably, to continue our unstoppable advance and fight for a multipolar and just world, where those who were historically excluded have a voice, hope and dignity.

U.S. imperialism has attempted, without success, practically all possible formulas to destabilize and subvert the Bolivarian Chavista revolution, to recuperate its control of the largest oil reserves on the planet, and deliver a blow to the integrationist, emancipation process underway in Our America.

The arbitrary, aggressive, unjustified executive order issued by the President of the United States regarding the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s government, describing it as a threat to its national security, shows that the United States is able to sacrifice the peace and the direction of hemispheric and regional relations, for reasons of domination and domestic politics.

The idea is untenable that a country like Venezuela - which has shown so much solidarity, never invaded or harmed any other, and contributes in a significant and altruistic manner to the energy security and economic stability of a considerable number of nations of the continent - could represent a threat to the security of the greatest super-power in history.

We support the honorable, valiant, constructive position taken by President Nicolás Maduro, (applause) who, despite the seriousness of this threat, has extended his hand to the President of the United States, to initiate a dialogue based on international law and mutual respect, which could lead to the unconditional revocation of President Obama’s executive order and the normalization of relations. (Applause) Alba and CELAC should join in this proposal.

Today Venezuela is not alone, nor is our region the one it was 20 years ago. We will not tolerate the violation of sovereignty or allow peace in the region to be broken with impunity.

As we have reiterated, threats to the peace and stability of Venezuela represent threats to regional stability and peace, as well.

The peace which Venezuela today demands and which we all need, a “peace with justice, with equality, the peace on our feet, not on our knees, is peace with dignity and development,” as Maduro said, is the peace to which we committed ourselves in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, adopted by the II CELAC Summit in Havana.

Our country’s position under these circumstances remains unchanged. I reiterate the firm solidarity of the Cuban Revolution with the Bolivarian Revolution, with constitutional President Nicolás Maduro and with the civic-military union which he heads. (Applause) I reiterate our absolute loyalty to the memory of Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, the Cuban Revolution’s best friend. (Applause)

As has been stated, we reaffirm once again, “The Cuban collaborators present in the sister country, will continue to fulfill their duties under any circumstances whatsoever, to the benefit of the fraternal, noble, generous people of Venezuela.”

The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible. (Applause)

Nor will we concede one iota in the defense of sovereignty and independence, or tolerate any type of interference or conditions on our internal affairs.

Nor will we cease to defend just causes in Our America and the world, nor will we ever abandon our brothers in the struggle. We have come to close ranks with Venezuela and Alba, and reaffirm that principles are not negotiable. (Applause)

To defend these convictions, we will attend the 7th Summit of the Americas. We will present our positions, with firmness, clarity and respect. We will reject with determination any attempt to isolate or threaten Venezuela, and demand a definitive end to the blockade of Cuba.

Cuban civil society will be the voice of those without a voice, and we will expose the mercenaries who will appear there as Cuba’s civil society

We must call upon all peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and remain alert in the defense of Venezuela. Solidarity is the foundation of unity and regional integration.

Thank you very much. (Applause)


Fidel sends message to President Nicolás Maduro

The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution emphasizes the heroic attitude assumed by the Venezuelan people, as well as the exemplary discipline and spirit of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces in the face of U.S. sanctions

Honorable President of the BolivarianRepublic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro:

As the press has reported, tomorrow Tuesday March 17, an Alba Summit will take place in Caracas to analyze the outrageous policy of the United States government toward Venezuela and Alba.

The idea of creating this organization came from Chávez himself, wanting to share with his Caribbean brothers and sisters the enormous economic resources with which nature had blessed his native homeland, the benefits of which had however landed in the hands of powerful U.S. corporations, and a few Venezuelan millionaires.

Corruption and squandering were the fundamental motivations of the first oligarchy with fascist tendencies, addicted to violence and crime. The violence and crime committed against the heroic Venezuelan people was so intolerable that it can never be forgotten, and a return will never be allowed to the shameful past of the pre-revolutionary era which led to attacks on commercial centers and the murder of thousands of people, the number of which no one can today confirm.

Simón Bolívar devoted himself entirely to liberating the continent. More than half of the best of his people struggled and died over long years of uninterrupted fighting. With less than 1% of the world’s surface area, Venezuela possesses the world’s greatest oil reserves. For a full century, the country was obliged to produce all the fuel which European powers and the United States needed. Even when today, the hydrocarbons produced over millions of years could be consumed in no more than a century, and human beings, who today number 7.2 billion, will double within 100 more years, and in 200 will reach 21 billion. Only the marvels of the most advanced technology may perhaps allow the survival of the human species for a little more time.

Why are the fabulous means of communication not used to inform and educate about these realities, instead of promoting trickery, which every one in their right mind should recognize?

An Alba Summit cannot be held without taking into account these realities which are so close to us.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has stated in a very precise manner that it has always been disposed to talk with the United States, in a peaceful and civilized fashion, but will never tolerate threats or impositions on the part of this country.

I add that I have been able to observe the attitude, not only of the people of Bolivar and Chávez, but also a special circumstance: the exemplary discipline and spirit of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces. Whatever U.S. imperialism may do, it will never be able to count on them to do what they did for so many years. Today Venezuela can count on the best equipped soldiers and officers in Latin America.

When you met with officers recently, it was evident that they were ready to give their last drop of blood for the homeland. 

A fraternal embrace for all Venezuelans, the peoples of Alba, and for you.
 
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 16, 2015


 

 
Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz at CELAC Summit in Costa Rica, Jan. 28, 2015 PDF Print E-mail

President Raul Castro RuzBy President Raul Castro Ruz

Esteemed President Luis Guillermo Solís;

Esteemed Heads of State or Government of Latin America and the Caribbean;

Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests;

Ever since the inception of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Our America has entered a new stage and advanced toward independence; sovereignty over our natural resources; integration and construction of a new world order; and, social justice and democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. There is a stronger commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples today than in any other historical period.

Together, we make up the third world economy, the area with the second largest oil reserve, and the region with greater biodiversity on the planet with a remarkable concentration of the global mineral resources.

The development of unity in diversity, and of concerted action and respect for our differences shall be our primary purpose and inescapable necessity because the world problems tend to aggravate, and great dangers and robust challenges persist that transcend the national and even the sub-regional potential.

In the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth have enabled our countries to face the economic global crisis and facilitated a reduction of poverty, unemployment and unequal income distribution.

The deep political and social transformations carried out in various countries of the region have brought dignity to millions of families, which have left poverty behind.

But the Latin American and Caribbean region is still the one showing the greatest disparities. As an average, 20 percent of the lowest income households receive only 5 percent of the total revenues; 167 million people still endure poverty; one in five children under 15 lives in abject poverty; and, the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million.

Half of the youths in our countries fail to complete secondary education or finish their ninth grade, but in the lowest income segment that figure exceeds 78 percent. Actually, two thirds of the new generation do not make it to the university.

Meanwhile the increasing number of victims of organized crime and violence endanger the stability and progress of our nations.

What do the tens of millions of marginalized people think about democracy and human rights? How do they feel about political models? What do they think of election laws? Is this the civil society that international governments and organizations take into account? What would they say if asked about the economic and monetary policies?

There is little that many industrial nations can show our region in such areas since half their youths are unemployed, and the weight of the crisis falls on the workers and students they suppress. On the other hand, they protect bankers, prevent the organization of trade unions, pay women lower salaries for equal work and apply inhumane policies against immigrants. Meanwhile, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and neo-fascist tendencies gain ground, and the people do not vote because they see no alternative to corruption in politics or because they know that election-time promises are soon forgotten.

In order to achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, we must come up with our own vision of the economic systems, production and consumption patterns, the relation between economic growth and development, and the efficacy of political models.

We should go beyond structural gaps, ensure a free and high-quality education, provide free and universal healthcare coverage, social security and similar opportunities to all, and the full exercise of all human rights by every person.

In the framework of such endeavors it shall be our primary duty to embrace solidarity with and advocate the interests of the Caribbean, particularly, of Haiti.

A new economic, financial and monetary international order is required where the interests and necessities of the South nations are not only included and given a priority, but also where those imposing neoliberalism and the concentration of capital cannot prevail.

The post-2015 Development Agenda should offer solutions to the structural problems of the regional economies and produce the changes conducive to a sustainable development.

Likewise, it is indispensable to build a world of peace, without which development is not possible, a world guided by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law.

The signing by the heads of State or Government of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone marked a historic step, and now provides a point of reference for our States’ relations with the rest of the world.

Solidarity will be of paramount importance in Our America to advance our common interests.

We want to express our strong condemnation of the unjustified and unacceptable unilateral sanctions imposed on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and of the continuous foreign interference intended to create a climate of instability in that sister nation. Cuba, who profoundly knows all these stories because it has endured them during more than 50 years, reaffirms its strongest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate government headed by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We join the Republic of Argentina in its demand over the Malvinas [Falkland], the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime space. We support the South American nation and its President Cristina Fernandez who is facing the attacks of speculative funds and the rulings of venal courts that impinge on the sovereignty of that country.

We reiterate our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, and the demands of President Rafael Correa for reparations on account of the environmental damages caused by the transnational company Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazonia.

As we have previously said, the Community will be incomplete while Puerto Rico is not a member. The colonial situation of that country is inadmissible, and its Latin American and Caribbean nature are beyond dispute.

Concerning the peace process in Colombia, significant agreements have been reached by the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces-Peoples’ Army of that nation at the negotiating table in Havana. Never before so much progress had been made toward peace. Cuba, as one of the guarantors and the venue of such negotiations, shall continue offering the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible to end the conflict and build a just and lasting peace in that fraternal nation.

We will provide our resolute support, as we have until now, to the fair claim of the Caribbean nations to receive reparations for the damages caused by slavery and colonialism. And, we shall definitely oppose the decision to deprive these countries of indispensable financial resources under the technocratic pretext of considering them middle-income economies.

We welcome the excellent progress made at the CELAC-China Forum and the region’s relations with the BRICS group.

We reaffirm our concern for the huge and growing military expenses imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, as well as for the intent to expand the latter’s aggressive presence up to the borders of Russia, a country we are bound to by historical, fraternal and mutually advantageous relations. We state our vigorous opposition to the unilateral and unjust sanctions imposed on that nation.

The increasing aggressiveness of NATO’s military doctrine and the development of unconventional wars, with their devastating effects and grave consequences, constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

As to Cuba, the principles of sovereign equality among States and self-determination of the peoples cannot be waived.

The United Nations General Assembly should exercise its power to preserve international peace and security in the face of the Security Council double-standards, excesses and omissions. It should wait no more to secure the full membership of Palestine, whose people count with the solidarity of the Cuban people and government. The Security Council veto providing impunity to Israel’s crimes must cease.

Africa, where our peoples have their roots, needs no advice or interference but the transference of financial resources, technology and a fair deal. We shall always defend the legitimate rights of those nations alongside which we fought colonialism and apartheid, and with which we have today fraternal relations and cooperation. We shall never forget their unshakeable solidarity and support.

Cuba will restlessly advocate the just causes and the interests of the South countries, and will be loyal to their common objectives and positions knowing that Humanity is Homeland. The foreign policy of the Revolution will always be faithful to its principles.

Dear friends and colleagues:

Last December 17th, we welcomed to our homeland the Cuban counterterrorist fighters Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who alongside Fernando González and René González are to us a source of pride and an example of determination.

The President of the United States admitted the failure of the policy implemented against Cuba for more than fifty years, and the complete isolation it brought to his country as well as the impact of the blockade on our people. Additionally, he ordered the review of the obviously unjustifiable designation of the Island in the List of States Sponsors of International Terrorism.

That same day, he announced the decision to re-establish U.S. diplomatic relations with our government.

These changes are the result of nearly a century-and-a-half of heroic struggle and fidelity to its principles by the Cuban people. It has also been possible thanks to the new era we are living in our region, and the sound and brave demand of the governments and peoples of CELAC.

This has come as a vindication to Our America, which has together defended this objective at the United Nations Organization and in every other forum.

The debates that took place in the Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, against the background of the ALBA Summit held in Cumaná, Venezuela, led recently elected President Barack Obama to speak of a new beginning with Cuba.

In 2012 Cartagena, Colombia, provided context to a strong discussion and a unanimous and resounding stance against the blockade, occasion that compelled an important United States official to call it as the great failure of Cartagena or disaster –this is the exact term-, and against Cuba’s exclusion from such events. In protest, Ecuador had decided not to attend while Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, with the support of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, stated that they would not attend another summit in the absence of Cuba. The Caribbean Community adopted a similar position, and so did Mexico and the other nations present at the meeting. Likewise, before his inauguration, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced his decision to invite Cuba, on equal footing and with full rights, to the 7th Summit of the Americas, and he has acted on that statement. Cuba immediately responded that it would be there.

Martí’s assertion that “a just principle from the depth of a cave is more powerful than an army” has been proven right.

To everyone here I convey Cuba’s deepest appreciation.

To the 188 States that vote against the blockade at the United Nations, to those that raise a similar demand in the General Assembly and International summits and conferences, and to all the popular movements, political forces, parliaments and personalities who labored restlessly to that end I express the sincere gratitude of our nation.

To the American people that recently manifested its growing opposition to the policy of blockade and hostility lasting more than five decades, I also reiterate our appreciation and friendly feelings.

These results prove that governments with profound differences can find solutions to problems, through a respectful dialogue and exchanges based on sovereign equality and reciprocity to the benefit of their respective nations.

As I have repeatedly affirmed, both Cuba and the United States should learn the art of civilized coexistence based on respect for differences between our governments, and on cooperation in areas of common interest that may contribute to tackling the challenges facing the hemisphere and the world.

However, no one should expect that to achieve that Cuba would renounce its ideals of independence and social justice or abandon any of our principles, or give in an inch in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We shall not yield to provocations but neither shall we accept any indication of advices or pressures in matters concerning our internal affairs. We have made great sacrifices and taken major risks to earn that sovereign right.

Can diplomatic relations be re-established before financial services cut off as a result of the financial blockade are restored to the Cuban Interests Section and its Consular Offices in Washington? How can the re-establishment of diplomatic relations be explained without rescinding Cuba from the List of States Sponsors of International Terrorism? What will the behavior of the U.S. diplomats in Havana be from now on concerning the observance of the standards set by the International Conventions for Diplomatic and Consular Relations? This is what our delegation said to the State Department during last week discussions, and more meetings will be necessary to deal with these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our disposition to move forward to the normalization of bilateral relations, once the diplomatic relations have been re-established. This involves the mutual adoption of measures to improve the climate between the two countries, the resolution of other pending issues, and advances in cooperation.

The current situation opens up a modest opportunity for the hemisphere to find new and better forms of cooperation that can benefit the two Americas. This would help in the solution of pressing problems and the opening of new avenues.

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone becomes an indispensable platform to that end, including the recognition that every State has the inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system without interference from any other State, an unwavering principle of International Law.

The main issue still stands unresolved. The economic, commercial and financial blockade causing enormous human and economic damages to our country constitutes a violation of International Law, and must cease.

I remember a memorandum of April 1960 from Assistant Secretary Mallory where he said that in the absence of an effective political opposition in Cuba, a situation of hunger, suffering and despair should be created to bring about the ousting of the revolutionary government. Now, the objective seems to be fostering an artificial political opposition by economic, political and communication means.

The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade remains in effect; the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned; the radio and television broadcasts breaching international rules and regulations do not cease; and, adequate compensation is not paid to our people for the human and economic damages sustained.

It would not be ethical, fair or acceptable to ask Cuba anything in exchange. If these issues are not resolved, a diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would not make sense.

It can neither be expected of Cuba to negotiate the above-mentioned absolutely sovereign issues related to its internal affairs.

It was possible to advance in the recent negotiations because we treated each other with respect, and as equals. Future progress demands that this remains so.

We have followed with interest the announcement made by the President of the United States of some executive decisions aimed at modifying certain aspects concerning the implementation of the blockade.

The measures made public so far are very limited. The prohibition stands with regards to credits and the use of the dollar in our international financial transactions; the individual travels of Americans with license for so-called people-to-people exchanges are prevented and conditioned to subversive purposes; and maritime travels are also forbidden. Another standing prohibition, among many others, restricts the acquisition in third markets of equipment or technology with more than 10 percent of American input as well as the U.S. importation of goods containing Cuban raw materials.

President Barack Obama could use with determination his extensive executive powers to substantially modify the implementation of the blockade. This is something he can do even without Congressional approval.

He could allow other sectors of the economy to do what he has authorized in the field of telecommunications with the clear objective of exercising political influence in Cuba.

His decision to promote a debate with Congress towards the removal of the blockade is significant.

On the other hand, the spokespersons of the U.S. government have clearly stated that the methods are changing but not the objectives of their policy, and insisted in actions that interfere with our internal affairs, something we will not accept. The American counterparts should not pretend to relate with the Cuban society as if a sovereign government did not exist in the Island.

No one would even dream that the new policy announced accepts the existence of a Socialist Revolution 90 miles away from Florida.

There is the wish that the so-called civil society is present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama; that is a wish that Cuba has always shared. We protest what happened at the World Trade Organization Conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and Quebec, at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen or at the G-7 and IMF meetings, where the civil society was confined tens of miles away from the venues, and kept behind steel fences and under brutal police repression.

Of course, the Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there will be no restrictions against our country’s non-governmental organizations, which are not interested in any status at the OAS but are definitely recognized by the United Nations.

I hope to see in Panama the popular movements and NGOs that advocate nuclear disarmament and environmental protection; those that oppose neoliberalism; the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Indignant of this region; the university and secondary school students; the peasants, trade unions, original peoples, and organizations that oppose shale contamination; the advocates of immigrants’ rights; those who denounce torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality and racist practices; that demand equal pay for women for equal work; and those advocating reparation for damages from transnational companies.

The announcements of last December 17th have elicited world recognition and extensive support for President Obama in his own country, however, certain forces in the United States will try to derail this process that is just beginning. They are also the enemies of a U.S. fair relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean, the same that jeopardize the bilateral relations of many countries from our region with that nation. They are always blackmailing and exercising pressure.

We are aware that the path to the removal of the blockade will be long and difficult and will require the support, mobilization and resolute action of every person of goodwill in the United States and the world; the approval by the UN General Assembly in its next session of the resolution demanding the end of the blockade; and, especially, the concerted action of Our America.

Esteemed Heads of State or Government;

Dear friends;

We congratulate Costa Rica and President Solís and his government for the leadership of CELAC. We welcome the presidency of Ecuador and will fully support President Correa as the leader of the Community through 2015.

Thank you, very much.

 
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