Published on 15 January 2015 by Cuba News Agency
Cuban doctor Felix Baez, who overcame the Ebola virus, which he got in Sierra Leone, returned to that Western African nation to continue fighting the disease along his comrades with the Henry Reeve international medical brigade.
Cubadebate website published a series of photos of the doctor along his comrades in Sierra Leone announcing his return.
An internal medicine specialist, Baez announced in December 2014 that he would return to the African nation to finish the job he started, once he fully recovered from the disease.
The 43-year-old doctor returned to Cuba after having been released from the Geneva-based Cantonal University Hospital, where he received treatment against Ebola.
In response to the World Health Organization call to fight Ebola in Africa, Cuba sent three brigades to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to fight the virus.
According to the World Health Organization over 8 thousand 800 people have died from the Ebola virus in Africa.
17 December 2014, was an historic day for Cuba. On that morning, the three remaining Cuban Five members in U.S. prison flew home to freedom. At the same time, Alan Gross, an American who was arrested in Cuba 5 years ago, and convicted for illegally bringing into Cuba undercover communications equipment, was returned to the United States.
This was announced on December. 17 at 12 noon, simultaneously by Cuban President Raul Castro on Cuban Television and by President Obama in Washington.
Both announced that for the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. and Cuban embassies will be opened in each respective country. This means the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.
Up to now, a quasi-diplomatic relationship has been maintained by what are called “Interests Sections,” essentially diplomatic missions that are hosted by the Swiss government in both countries.
To give you a sense of what it means for the Cuban people, I have here an excerpt of what that day was like, from Michael Krinsky, a progressive New York attorney who has represented the Cuban Government in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
He was in Cuba for a seminar, and on New York City’s WBAI radio station last week he said that when Raul Castro spoke to the Cuban people on Television at noon and announced that the Five were now home:
“There was pandemonium. Unbelievable joy. Then when Raul announced that both governments agreed to establish normal relations, there was stunned silence. Then tremendous commotion and applause. There is a sense of triumph, for the person on the street, that after 55 years of holding on, despite the Bay of Pigs invasion, economic blockade, the special period when trade with the Soviet Union ended, they had held on. The feeling was, the U.S. came to us. It was a tremendous sense of vindication and triumph, you could see it in the streets, in the restaurants, they would congratulate each other, it was quite a moment.”
It is a very important development for the Cuban people and the Revolution, who have been besieged for more than 55 years by U.S. imperialism, blockaded, invaded, attacked by terrorism, to see that one small part of this cruel policy is being lifted.
But, the U.S. blockade remains in place.
Published on 6 January 2015 by Prensa Latina
Gema Hernández, daughter of one of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez and his wife Adriana Perez, was born here today, surrounded by relatives and common people who received the news with great joy.
Gema, born with a little over seven pounds, through caesarean surgery and both she and her mother Adriana Perez O’Connor are reported in good health, reported the midday National TV Newsreel.
Recently, Gerardo had joked, as is his nature, "the emotion is grat and everyone is asking, while we have a lot of fun with all the gossip and speculation."
"The truth is that it has been in silence, without much details we had to do it by remote control, but there it is and all went well which is most important"
Gerardo explained that Adriana wanted to name her Gema, meaning precious stone, because if it was a boy I wanted to name him Gerardo and the closest name to Gerardo is Gema.
Gema’s father returned to Cuba last December 17, together with Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino, the three Cuban fighters who were still serving unjust sentences in United States prisons.
The Five, arrested in 1998, included Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, who had returned to Cuba months before, after wholly serving their sentences.
The Cuban Five were wrongly accused for informing their country of terrorist actions planned by violent groups based in U.S. territory in Florida.
Published on 08 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened a historic meeting between his nation and the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Thursday.
“During the meeting, China and the CELAC member states will have an in-depth discussion on collective cooperation,” Xi said in his opening address to the forum.
The two-day meeting is the first of its kind between CELAC and Beijing. The Chinese leader said the talks mark a “new beginning and new opportunity” for both Beijing and CELAC.
“China is willing to work with the Latin American and Caribbean states with a long-term and strategic perspective, to build the new platform of collective cooperation between the two sides. Let's take the meeting as a new starting point, seize the new opportunity of collective cooperation, and work for a new phase of the China-CELAC comprehensive partnership of cooperation and promote new development of bilateral ties based on a higher level,” he said.
The summit is expected to lead to close to US$50 billion in new investment between China and CELAC nations, in areas ranging from energy to scientific research.
Representatives will also agree on a four-year plan to deepen trade and other political and economic ties. CELAC, which unites all 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, launched in Venezuela in 2011 when representatives of each country signed the Declaration of Caracas.
The declaration seeks to consolidate regional integration and reduce the influence of the United States in the Americas.
“The quality of medical care for the children, teenagers and pregnant women is the only way to make this result sustainable,” emphasized Dr. Maritza Rodriguez Gabin, Vice-President of the Provincial Board of Health.
The province also holds the highest rates of blood, organs and transplant tissues donations of the country, Gabin boasted.
Over 2,000 health specialists from Cienfuegos collaborate in international missions in 35 countries of the world, including many stationed in West Africa to fight against the spread of the Ebola virus.
Cuban health professionals abroad provide medical training, contribute to clinical tests, like the vaccines against cholera and the pneumococcal disease.
After 53 years without diplomatic relations, the governments of the United States andCuba announced their willingness to resume them and start a process aimed atnormalizing bilateral relations.
The most immediate effect of this agreement was an exchange of prisoners that allowedCuba to recover three of the five heroic fighters against terrorism who had remained in US prisons after the other two had completed their long and unjust sentences and had already returned to their homeland.
"The Five" infiltrated the ranks of Cuban counter-revolutionary organizations based in south Florida and controlled by the CIA. Aware of the risks that this meant for their lives, they were there to monitor the pernicious terrorist plans of these groups and to officiallyinform the government of the United States through the Cuban government, given theinaction of the local and federal law enforcement.
For its part, Cuba freed a mercenary who had been captured in 2009 when –at the service of an American contractor agency for intelligence and subversion missions– hecarried out repeated infiltrations into Cuban territory and engaged in criminal act. He had been given a 15-year prison sentence. An spy for the United States who had spent nearly 20 years in prison and other criminals in Cuban jails whose release was of interest toWashington were also freed.
Obviously, all Cubans, including many living abroad who love their country, received the news joyously. It suggested the end of the most acute period of violent confrontationbetween the superpower and a rebellious people. Cubans have shown that they wouldnever yield to threats or reprisals in the struggle for their sovereign rights.
Published on 26 November by TeleSUR English
A tragic milestone went virtually unreported in the English-speaking press in November, as Colombia's Victims Unit released its report indicating that the number of victims of Colombia's civil war has now surpassed 7 million. This number includes those who have been killed, disappeared or displaced since 1956. For a country of under 50 million citizens, these numbers are staggering, and certainly newsworthy, but apparently not for our mainstream media.
Of course, the violence and human rights abuses in Colombia have constituted inconvenient truths for the Western media as the U.S. has been a major sponsor of the violence and abuses in that country.
Indeed, a notable fact in the Victims Unit report is that "that the majority of victimization occurred after 2000, peaking in 2002 at 744,799 victims." It is not coincidental that "Plan Colombia," or "Plan Washington" as many Colombians have called it, was inaugurated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, thus escalating the conflict to new heights and new levels of barbarity. Plan Colombia is the plan pursuant to which the U.S. has given Colombia over $8 billion of mostly military and police assistance.
As Amnesty International has explained, these monies have only fueled the human rights crisis in Colombia:
Many thanks for your letter of congratulation from The Revolutionary Communist Group in support of The Cuban Revolution. I take this opportunity to convey to all of you in the Party this message from our Cuban Communist Party.
In Comradership, Jorge Luis, Cuban Embassy
MESSAGE TO PARTIES AND POLITICAL AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND FORCES IN THE WORLD
Published on 19 December 2014 by Helen Yaffe
On 17 December, the US and Cuban presidents announced the beginning of a new relationship between those countries, including the restoration of diplomatic relations, the easing of financial and travel restrictions imposed by the US and a prison swap which saw Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino - of the Cuban Five - released from US prisons and returned to Cuba. It was an historic and momentous announcement. In Britain, political commentator and author Owen Jones used the opportunity to assert that Cuba has a dictatorship in his comment piece published on The Guardian website. I submitted a response to The Guardian, but have so far received no reply. I am therefore publishing it below:
By referring to the US ‘embargo’ as an ‘excuse’ for dictatorship in Cuba (The US embargo is disappearing; so, too, must Cuba’s dictatorship), Owen Jones reveals his ignorance about US aggression against Cuba and his narrow conceptualisation of democracy.
For over 50 years the US blockade has attempted to strangle the Cuban economy. It is not an ‘embargo’, a legal barrier to impede trade; it is a ‘blockade’, an act of war against an entire country. It is a genocidal act as defined by the 1948 Geneva Convention of 1948 on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Moreover, it is just one element of US strategy to effect regime change. In addition to the terrorist activity, instigated by the CIA and zealously pursued by right-wing Cuban exile groups until today, are more subtle and insidious covert operations to generate an internal opposition. These days programmes are managed by private companies which bid for contracts from USAID. The annual budget, which is approved by the US Congress runs into millions of dollars. Recent investigations by AP exposed programmes to set up and use a twitter service (Zunzuneo) to instigate civil unrest, attempts to recruit foreign students in Cuba and to infiltrate Cuba’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. These programmes target civil society, exploiting every political and cultural opening on the island. The government is right to be wary. While aspects of Cuba’s financial and economic strangulation may be loosened, there is little sign that US interference will cease.
Secondly, Jones conflates liberal parliamentarianism, a party political system which historically developed alongside economic liberalism, with democracy. Given his own writing on The Establishment, he should be expected to differentiate between voting and democracy. Real democracy means active participation in shaping society and daily life. In Cuba this happens through regular elections and national policy debate. Cuba may be a one-party state but the Communist Party does not stand in elections. There are regular local, provincial and national elections in which candidates are first nominated and then voted by their peers, either through work-place or social and cultural organisations, or to represent their neighbourhood and region. They are not subject to a party whip and are directly answerable to their constituents. The right to recall exists and is practiced. There are no career politicians; representatives continue in their employment when not ‘doing politics’ and receive their existing salaries.
In terms of national policy debate, one recent example will suffice. The 2011 ‘guidelines for updating the Cuban economy’ were subject to four months of national consultation. Almost nine million people (out of a population of just over 11 million) participated in discussions on the draft guidelines. Subsequently 68% of the guidelines were modified according to their comments. Many of the measures announced since then reflect that consultation process.
It is easy, from a position of privilege, to declare that social and economic rights are not compensation for political rights. This view is not shared by impoverished people around the world, including the millions who have benefited from Cuba’s medical internationalism, who already see Cuba as the ‘beacon’ Jones imagines it could become. The dispute is whether Cuba needs liberal parliamentarianism for Cubans to achieve more freedom.
*Helen Yaffe is author of Che Guevara: the economics of revolution (2009, Palgrave Macmillan). Her doctoral research on Cuban economic history and Che Guevara's contribution to socialist political economy was undertaken at the London School of Economics.
Published on 17 December 2014 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
After 16 unjust years of imprisonment, on 17 December 2014, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero, the three remaining members of the Cuban 5, returned to Cuba following their release from US gaols. This is a defeat for the corrupt US justice system and massive victory for Cuba, particularly for anti-terrorist Gerardo Hernandez who was serving two life sentences plus 15 years.
The five Cuban heroes were arrested in 1998 and tried in Miami in 2001, in the midst of a hostile media storm whipped up by journalists in the pay of the US government. Denied a fair trial, they were found guilty of charges ranging from spying to conspiracy to commit murder and endangering the security of the United States. These men had been working to foil the persistent attempts by right-wing counter-revolutionary groups in the United States to commit acts of sabotage and terrorism against Socialist Cuba. These attacks included 78 bombings, 61 hijackings of planes and boats, biological attacks of dengue and swine fever, and 58 attacks from the sea, killing at least 3,478 people in total. The Cuban 5 were guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to protect their country against terrorism. Their case Illustrates the hypocrisy of the US ‘War on Terror’.
Wednesday 17 December will be recognised for decades to come as a crucial date for Cuban history when, following years of campaigning, the Cuban 5 were finally free. Ramon, Gerardo and Antonio now join Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Hernandez, who served their full sentences and were released in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
Following the news of the release of the Cuban 5 and renewed diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, Owen Jones published a 'Comment is Free' piece in the Guardian on 18 December 2014. Entitled 'The US embargo is disappearing, so too, must Cuba's dictatorship' Jones launches a virulent attack on Cuba. Rock Around the Blockade replies:
What free press should socialist Cuba aspire to Mr Jones? The 'free press' that dictated the outcome of the Scottish referendum here. 38 national newspapers agin us...and yet we still voted in our million and a half plus for independence.
A well read lad like yersel'- and a proclaimed socialist- should know there is no such thing in any capitalist society- the media are run by rich white men, to paraphrase Michael Moore. But then of course your employer is amongst them. So stop yer liberal sooking and as Fidel has explained to friends of Cuba, try and imagine the difficulties the socialist revolution has faced in its short history...then judge. Cuba in the absence of the corrupt influence of the millionaire media is more free, not less!
Dundee Rock Around the Blockade
At 1pm on 17 December 2014, Cuba President Raul Castro announced the release of the remaining Cuban 5 in return for an unnamed US agent and the humanitarian release of USAID contractor Alan Gross. Below is the transcript of this historic announcement:
From Prensa Latina:
Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated in many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national independence and self-determination of our people.
This stance was conveyed to the US Government both publicly and privately by Comrade Fidel on several occasions during our long standing struggle, stating the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.
The heroic Cuban people, in the wake of serious dangers, aggressions, adversities and sacrifices has proven to be faithful and will continue to be faithful to our ideals of independence and social justice. Strongly united throughout these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept our unswerving loyalty to those who died in defense of our principles since the beginning of our independence wars in 1868.
Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.
As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation I had yesterday with President Obama, we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.
As Fidel promised on June 2001, when he said: "They shall return!" Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland.
Published on 12 December by Granma Internacional
According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, attempted to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop movement as part of a covert project to destabilize the country.
Documents obtained by AP indicate that USAID hired a group of rappers to develop a youth movement in opposition to the Cuban government. The covert plan was implemented over more than two years, with the aim of using Cuban musicians to establish a network to agitate for social change on the island, PL reported on Thursday.
The Huffington Post website published a chronology of USAID covert operations in Cuba, detailing the activities of Rajko Bozic, a Serbian national who presented himself as a musical promoter and arrived in Cuba with instructions to involve Cuban rappers such as the Aldeanos duo in the covert hip hop program, to promote an opposition movement.
Published 11 December 2014 by TeleSUR English
British army officers trained Brazilian police in torture methods, perfected in Northern Ireland against people opposing British rule there, a report into human rights abuses during the dictatorship revealed.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was tortured herself by the regime in the 1970s, wept as she presented the 2,000 page Truth Commission documentWednesday, which confirmed that 191 were killed and 243 disappeared.
Not only did Brazilian officials travel to the UK to learn the “English System,” but the study also shows that British officers returned the visit, teaching extreme interrogation at Brazilian police headquarters.
“At the end of 1970 we sent a group of army officers to England to learn the English system of interrogation. This consists of putting the prisoner in a cell incommunicado, a method known as the ‘refrigerator’,” the report quotes former general Hugo de Andrade Abreu.
Psychological torture techniques were adopted that the British mastered in Northern Ireland, designed to destabilize the suspect to the point of admitting to a crime.
Published on 9 December by Cuban News Agency
More than 35,000 self-employed workers have joined unions in the province of Holguín in response to the Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, implemented in Cuba since 2010.
Annia González, member of the provincial secretariat of the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC by its Spanish acronym) in the northeastern territory, told ACN that for the coming 2015, the organization intends to integrate the 3 000 self-employed who are not yet affiliated to unions.
She explained that the sectors of Commerce, Industry and Transport constitute together the ones with largest concentration of non-state workers, and also have the non-integrated workers to CTC.
The creation of a wholesale market, taxes corresponding to the characteristics of each locality and the right to enjoy a month of vacation annually without paying tribute are some of the statements most frequently made by these workers.
Alexander Tamayo, self-employed affiliate for two years, highlighted the advantages of maintaining a union link because they are more organized and have an way through which to raise their rights, opinions and concerns.
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.