Despite Mexico dominating the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) medal table for almost the whole competition, Cuba managed to emerge as the final winner of the event
Cuba ended with 123 golds, 66 silvers and 65 bronze medals, while Mexico, the host nation, finished in second place with 115, 106 and 111 medal respectively. It was the 10th time Cuba has won the games. It didn't participate in the 2010 tournament in Puerto Rico because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo.
Medals in boxing and athletics finally helped Cuba top the table, with the Caribbean island winning 33 gold medals during the weekend. Colombia and Venezuela finished third and fourth, while another 21 other nations won at least one medal.
A total of 32 countries participated in the games that were held from November 14-30 in the port city of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s Veracruz 2014 CACG saw 56 new records set and had a historical female participation rate.
Published on 1 December 2014 by TeleSur English
The election of Vazquez closes the electoral cycle in Latin America for 2014, where progressive governments were returned to power.
Latin American leaders have sent celebratory messages to Tabare Vazquez,winner of Sunday's presidential elections in Uruguay.
Vazquez, candidate for the left-wing Broad Front coalition, won with 53.6 percent support and is the first person in Uruguay to win two presidential terms. He also received the greatest amount of support for a presidential candidate in 70 years.
Outgoing Uruguayan president, Jose Mujica, was the first to congratulate Vazquez, meeting face to face shortly after the results were known.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also sent his greetings of support via Twitter, saying, “Congratulations Comrade Tabare Vazquez, president-elect of Uruguay, for this victory of the Broad Front, our brothers from the south...”
Cristina Kirchner said via Twitter, “Congratulations to the president-elect Tabare Vazquez, with whom I spoke with a moment ago to send him greetings from the Argentine people.”
Ernesto Samper, Secretary General of UNASUR, stated on his Twitter account, “The election results in Uruguay confirm the maturity of Uruguyan democracy. Congratulations to the President.”
Published on 30 November 2014 by the Peace-Delegation of the FARC-EP
General Rubén Darío Alzate, Lance Corporal José Rodríguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego, have been released by the block Iván Ríos of the FARC in the village of Vegaez, on the banks of the Arquía River in the north of Quibdó.
Surrounded by the humble people of the area, the general and his companions were handed over personally by Comandante Pastor Alape to a humanitarian mission, composed of representatives of Cuba and Norway - guarantor countries of the peace process, and the ICRC. The insurgent leader traveled from Havana to the jungles of Chocó, mandated by Timoleón Jiménez, comandante of the FARC, to ensure a prompt and smooth prisoner release, mission which was successfully accomplished.
Likewise, we inform the Colombians that in the performance of the Special Humanitarian Agreement, which led to the successful release of the professional soldiers Paulo Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Andrés Diaz in the savannas of Arauca on the 25th of November, directly and actively participated Comandante Carlos Antonio Losada.
Gratitude to the governments of Cuba and Norway and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for their humanitarian dedication and because their participation in the releases somehow saves a peace process that was progressing amid hope.
Now we have to redesign the game, for a peace process that has reached the level where it is right now, and which is preparing to discuss the most critical issues of peace, can not be subject to any hasty and thoughtless attitudes that postpone the advent of our reconciliation.
We invite President Santos, with our heart in our hands and our minds full of common sense, to consider that we can no longer permit the absurd situation of carrying out dialogues of peace in the midst of war. It's time for a bilateral ceasefire, an armistice, so that no military event can serve to justify the interruption of such a beautiful and historic task of making peace for a nation that longs for it. Let’s shake off the incoherence to speak of reconciliation and recognition of victims, without silencing the fire of the rifles and without stopping the neoliberal economic policies of misery, that fuel the war and the victimization of a people that deserve justice.
Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Published on 28 November 2014 by Radio Havana Cuba
The U.S. administration has granted a no-bid 1.4 million contract to Canyon Communications Company to produce TV and radio broadcasts specifically designed for Cuba.
The information was released in an article entitled "Canyon Communications snags big Cuba contract" by journalist Tracey Eaton on his blog "Along the Malecon," which specifies that the Office of Cuba Broadcasting said it awarded the contract without a competitive bid because Canyon Communications, founded by Jeff Kline, was uniquely qualified for the job.
"Kline is a longtime government contractor who has worked for the Health and Human Services Department, the Labor Department and other agencies. Lately, he's been doing projects for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, which oversees the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, including Radio & TV Martí in Miami," Eaton explained.
The journalist recalled that last October, he heard "about a radio programming contest that Kline ran in Cuba without telling participants that it was funded by the U.S. government. The contest was aborted and no one was awarded any prizes after Cuban authorities arrested development worker Alan Gross in December 2009."
Earlier, in May 2014, Eaton wrote that "Kline had traveled to Cuba to test cell phones and other wireless devices for a State Department contractor, which you can read at Eaton´s website under the title "The Other Alan Gross."
And in the article "The incredible disappearing $450,000 contract," the journalist wrote about Kline's contract to produce so-called self-help videos in Cuba.
"Kline's company, Canyon Communications, signed the $1,450,063 BBG contract on September 30, 2014. His company has won a total of $1,799,503 in BBG contracts since 2013. That makes him the BBG's 56th winning-est vendor since 1999", Eaton explained in his article.
Published on 1 December 2014 by Cuban News Agency
The 2014-2015 Sugar Cane Harvest kicked off in Cuba with expectations to increase the sugar output between 15 and 20 percent over the last campaign´s total production.
The 2013-2014 campaign reported the largest growth over the past ten years, a four percent according to official statistics, but below the expected 1.8 million tons of sugar.
The current sugar cane harvest will count on 50 sugar plants, two more than in the previous campaign.
According to Celso Garcia, president of the AZCUBA Entrepreneurial Group, which replaced the former Sugar Ministry, they expect to exploit industrial capacities in more than 70 percent to obtain not less than 43 tons of sugar cane per hectare and produce over 1.2 million hectoliters of alcohol, out of which 476 thousand will be exported.
The current harvest is also to produce more than 225 thousand tons of animal feed and 125 Gigawatts-hour of power to the national electric system, based on the processing of sugar cane waste.
The harvest is scheduled to wind up in May after a 100-day period of operations by all sugar plants.
The AZCUBA Group expects to revert the long-term slump of the industry, which produced 8 million tons of sugar in 1990, with projections for 2.4 million tons in 2015.
The ongoing economic transformations on the island prioritize the sustained growth of sugar production and the improvement of relations between the industry and sugar cane growers, along with diversification.
The Cuban sugar sector was considered the locomotive of the country´s economy in the past but its production went down to only 1.1 million tons of sugar in 2010, the worst harvest over the past 105 years.
Published on 30 November 2014 by TeleSUR English
The Cuban Five’s Fernando Gonzalez Llort, met with Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, as the culmination of a week-long visit Saturday. TeleSUR English interviewed him earlier in the week in Esteli.
The Cuban Five were imprisoned in the U.S. in 1998 and sentenced in 2001, accused of espionage. The Five say they were monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups plotting to attack Cuba.
Many countries registered their calls for the release of the three members of the Five still in jail, at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, where 188 out of 193 countries again voted overwhelmingly for an end to the US blockade of Cuba.
In recent weeks, U.S. newspaper, The New York Times published a series of editorials calling for the exchange of the remaining three Cuban Five in U.S. prisons, for United States citizens imprisoned in Cuba.
There has been new evidence, since the trial, which further exonerates the Five. A 2010 Amnesty International report on the new evidence was enlightening:
“The new evidence that has emerged since the trial —of journalists being paid to plant prejudicial stories against the accused during the trial— also raises concern about equality of arms in that the government, unknown to the defendants, were stacking the case in the media —and also as we have seen very possibly in the court-room itself— in the prosecution’s favour.”
Published on 28 November 2014 by Cuba News Agency
Representatives of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) of Argentina and Havana's Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) signed on Thursday 17 scientific cooperation agreements for the next few years.
Among the projects signed in the First Integration Workshop we find the creation of a laboratory for the research, development and assessment of medicaments produced by the two institutions and jointly, which will be named Ernesto Che Guevara.
In addition, other areas of common interest that could constitute future projects in the use of biotechnology in humans and in agriculture were identified.
The expert showed his satisfaction for working with persons linked to the highest level of scientific research in the field of biological system studies, which will make it possible to generate modern alternatives created in the context of South-South cooperation.
Roberto Carlos Salvarezza, president of Conicet, told ACN that the first agreements were signed in 2009, of which there are currently four projects in execution, one of them related to therapy against cancer.
We can learn a lot from Cuba and strengthen the links of solidarity existing between the Argentinean and Cuban scientific communities, specified the head of Conicet.
Published on 17 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Latin America is today experiencing new times which, after 10 years of work resulting in undeniable achievements, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) is facing the challenge of consolidating itself, stated the organization’s Executive Secretary Bernardo Álvarez.
The ALBA-TCP has the unique feature of brining together political forces which involved in a common project based on diversity, noted Álvarez in statements to Prensa Latina. “In addition it understands that there are other mechanisms of integration in the hemisphere which play an equally important role, such as the Union of Southern Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States,” he commented.
“We aspire to be a political consciousness for the left, for the world, for progress within new Latin American integration, with respect, but doing everything necessary so that the transformation and social agendas are part of debates in Latin American. This is where the challenge lies,” stated Álvarez, adding that, the challenge also consists of continuing to promote and support integration and, to be an expression of this transformative political vision in the heart of Latin America.
Published on 14 November by TeleSUR English
According to the Foreign Ministry, 136 projectiles were fired during the drills.
The Argentinian government issued Thursday a statement rejecting military exercises conducted by the United Kingdom (UK) in the Malvinas islands.
The HMS Iron Duke warship conducted a series of maneuvers which included shooting 136 projectiles.
The Argentinian government denounced the exercise as a violation of United Nations General Assembly resolution 31/49 which calls upon both Argentina and the UK to abstain from any actions that would alter the status-quo whilst still in negotiations.
The statement also considers the exercises a provocation against the South American country.
The Malvinas islands were occupied by the UK in 1833, and since are disputed with Argentina. The issue led to a war between both countries in 1982.
The UK responded later on Friday to Argentina's complaint, claiming the exercises are routine and should not be considered a provocation.
Published by TeleSUR
The Cuban state-owned pharmaceutical and chemical company Labiofam announced that it will construct a factory in Bolivia that would allow the country to fulfill 100 percent of its demand for basic medicine, which updated it’s list of essential medicines last month.
The plant is scheduled to be operational by 2020 and will provide pharmaceutical goods that will benefit both countries and in other countries across the Latin America region.
The two countries signed a cooperation agreement last May, which seeks to boost and incentivize local production of medicines across Latin America.
Currently, Bolivia imports 70 percent of the pharmaceuticals used in the country at an estimated cost of US$56.4 million dollars a year.
Labiofam director general Jose Antonio Fraga told Reuters that the project has the potential to significantly reduce prices and improve access for certain medicines, with positive outcomes for Bolivian healthcare system.
"This is basically for poor people because they can't afford the prices set by the trans-nationals,"Fraga said. "So these industries will be subsidized by the state or their products will be sold at a very small profit margin, just to sustain themselves, not to get rich."
The announcement coincides with a recent decision made by Bolivian President Evo Morales who stated that his government seeks to invest US$350 million in the local pharma industry in order to reduce dependence on international pharmaceutical imports.
Published on 10 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Argentine Dr. Augusto Sola, president of the Iberoamerican Neonatology Society emphasized the advances Cuba has made in this field, fundamentally with its genetic and prenatal programs, on November 7, during the closing session of the professional organization’s gathering in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers southeast of Havana.
Noted were progress in programs serving women of fertile age, the early detection of potentially difficult pregnancies and births, as well as the establishment of genetic centers – all of which has contributed to improving prenatal care and a reduction in painful births, Sola commented.
Dr Sola emphasized the importance of care for babies born weighing less than 1,500 grams, since worldwide a fourth of all neonatal deaths are attributed to low birth weight.
Specialists from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Cuba, participated in the event held at Dr. Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital.
Published on 10 November by Prensa Latina
For the fifth time in less than a month, The New York Times published a long editorial on Cuba, in which it listed the countless destabilizing efforts by the United States to overthrow the Cuban government.
In an article entitled "In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change", the Editorial Committee of the influential New York-based newspaper on Sunday reviewed Washington's countless plans against national stability in Cuba since the approval of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996 to date.
The New York Times notes that these subversive plans only served as the foundation for the US government to spend 264 million dollars over the past 18 years, in an effort to instigate alleged democratic reforms on the island.
Published on 8 November 2014 by TeleSUR English
The Cuban Government has announced that is seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Cuba's National Electric Development program aims to significantly increase the island's electricity production capacity. Cuba seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Achieving the target would allow the country to acquire nearly $780 million annual savings on imports from fossil fuels, which currently makes up 96% of Cuba's electricity source.
According to Energy Monitor Worldwide, if Cuba's power production grows 3 per cent annually, the per-Kilowatt cost will decrease from 21 cents at present to 18 cents by 2030.
The Caribbean nation’s current renewable energy output accounts for only 4.3 percent of its total electricity production but the government aims to boost investment by USD$3.5 billion over the next 15 years in order to develop the sector, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Friday.
During this week's 32nd Havana International Fair, the government presented 246 potential foreign investment projects to strengthen and modernize the island's renewable energy capacity, which would need foreign financing valued at around $9 billion.
Cuba's renewable power projects include the installation of solar and wind farms as well as small hydropower stations. In addition, the government aims to create bioelectric plants, which base their production on the incineration of marabou wood and sugar cane.
The Cuban President Raul Castro has shifted its focus away from offshore oil which government officials believe will increase the country's long-term energy independence.
and we republish below his initial blog post and a series of questions and answers about his new blog from a range of his followers:
'This post constitutes my presentation to the world of the blogosphere. To write it I’ve counted on the politeness of people who have preceded me on this field. Not all of them share the same views, but they all wish for a better Cuba and share an intellectual honesty which I respect. They are also together on the support for the Five. In this regard they represent millions of people both in Cuba and around the world.
I’ve wanted this questionnaire to answer to some of the questions from those millions of people. It is my aspiration that with the development of the blog some other answers are found, even for so many that don’t know about the case or that knowing it, for diverse reasons, are not today with the cause of the Five.
I sincerely believe in truth as a value. I believe that accessing it benefits everybody, even those who refuse to hear it. I trust that truth will find its way through this blog.
Published on 4 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
The New York Times has called on President Barack Obama to exchange Alan Gross, an employee of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), imprisoned in Cuba for covert operations, for the three Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly incarcerated in the United States since 1998.
In an editorial published on November 2 entitled, “A Prisoner Swap With Cuba,” the newspaper acknowledged that Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen who is serving a 15 year sentence, was arrested in Havana as a result of an irresponsible strategy on the part ofthe U.S. government and that a solution must be found.
The editors of The New York Times believe that Washington and Havana should study the Gross case and that of the Cubans, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, in order to take the first steps towards normalizing relations between the twocountries.
"A prisoner exchange could pave the way toward re-establishing formal diplomatic ties, positioning the United States to encourage positive change in Cuba through expanded trade, travel opportunities and greater contact between Americans and Cubans," the newspaper highlighted.
Published on 2 November 2014 by AFP
Guinea authorities buried a Cuban man Saturday who died of malaria while working in the west African nation to help battle the killer Ebola virus. Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, 60, was an administrator with a team of Cuban medical personnel sent to west Africa in October to stem the spread of the virus.
He died of cerebral malaria on Sunday, the Guinean government and Cuban officials said. His funeral in the capital Conakry was attended by work colleagues and aid workers, as well as Cuban and Guinean officials, according to an AFP journalist at the ceremony.
"We will always remember him and we pray for the repose of his soul because he died on the soil of Cuba's friend, Guinea," government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said.
Published on 30 October 2014 by Granma Internacional
Given the possibility of adapting its methodology to the culture and needs of a country in which it is being applied, the ‘Yo, sí puedo’ (Yes, I can) program has been implemented in 30 countries, and taught more than 203,324 people across the globe to read, stated César Torres Batista, Sciences Phd. and director of the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institute (IPLAC).
Promoting the professional development and postgraduate training of Latin American and Caribbean educators; contributing to reducing illiteracy and offering lifelong learning to young people and adults; as well as facilitating exchanges between educators of the region in order to advance the development and consolidation of a Latin American pedagogical format based on the region’s shared realities, are all among program’s goals, which today, more clearly than ever, are being achieved.
Torres Batista commented that since the launch of the program in Venezuela on July 1, 2003, satisfactory results have been achieved.
“In the course of one year Venezuela has declared itself an illiteracy-free nation with more than 1 million Venezuelans learning to read through this method. In addition the program is now available in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Quechua, Aymara, Creole, Tetún, Zuahili and Guaraní, depending on where it is implemented,” he stated.
Based on the official election results Dilma Rousseff has won the Brazilian presidential Elections.
According to the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has won the Brazilian presidential elections with 51.45 percent of the vote compared to her political rival Aecio Neves who captured 48.55 percent, a difference of two million votes.
Voting began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. Voters also selected federal parliament and state governors.
More than 142 million Brazilians have voted in the country's presidential election, marking the end to a dramatic campaign.
Some 15,000 soldiers have been deployed in 280 cities across Brazil to provide security, down from the 30,000 troops deployed during the October 5 runoff election.
Rousseff won the first-round vote with 41.6 percent versus 33.6 percent for Neves, a difference of eight million votes. Neves was endorsed a week ago by Marina Silva, a popular environmentalist who placed third with 22 million votes.
As Brazil’s first female President, Rousseff was first elected in 2011. Born in 1947, she was raised in an middle-class household in Belo Horizonte.
In 1970 she was captured and imprisoned for three years where she subjected to torture, including electric shocks, for her role in the underground resistance against the Brazilian military dictatorship.
Under her first presidential term, Brazil's economy grew by an average of more than four percent each year, transitioning more than 30 million people out of poverty.
The incumbent focused her campaign message on expanding the social programs that reduced poverty and inequality in the country during her Workers' Party 12-year rule.
In addition, she has promised to continue to invest in infrastructure, particularly in connecting important economic zones to ports by rail. She has said that she would like to bring universal broadband Internet access to the country.
Meanwhile, the loosing candidate Aeicio Neves had vowed to cut back on government spending, and implement austerity if elected.
Published on 23 October by The Guardian
West Africa needs what Cuba has: a well-trained, coordinated healthcare system. Anything less and Ebola wins
Guatemala, Pakistan, Indonesia, Haiti. Four different nations that share a common experience: in the past decade, they were all struck by natural disasters which overwhelmed their under-staffed and under-funded public health systems. Into the rubble, flooding, and chaos of these distinct cultures and contexts, Cubadispatched a specialised disaster and epidemic control team to support local health providers. It was a story of unprecedented medical solidarity by a developing country which few media outlets picked up – until now.
The Henry Reeve Brigade, as it’s known, was established in 2005 by more than 1,500 Cuban health professionals trained in disaster medicine and infectious disease containment; built on 40 years of medical aid experience, the volunteer team was outfitted with essential medicines and equipment and prepared to deploy to US regions ravaged by Hurricane Katrina (the offer was rejected by the Bush administration). Today, Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade is the largest medical team on the ground in west Africa battling Ebola.
Published on 28 October 2014 by New York Times
A little-known former American ambassador on Tuesday addressed the General Assembly to perform a dreaded task: defending the issue that has isolated the United States diplomatically like no other, the Cuban embargo.
“This resolution only serves to distract from the real problems facing the Cuban people,” Ronald D. Godard admonished, before the United States voted against a non-binding resolution submitted yearly by Havana calling for a repeal of the sanctions Washington has imposed on the island for more than five decades.
Only Israel sided with the United States, although the Israelis were happy to forgo a turn at the podium to defend their position. Of the 193 members of the United Nations, 188 backed Cuba. The three abstentions — Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau — are not widely regarded as diplomatic heavyweights.