Published on 20 march by TeleSUR English

syphillis hiv trans

The World Health Organization is set to confirm Cuba as the first country in the world to have eliminated the STI transmission from mother to child. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will visit Cuba soon to review if the country can be certified to have eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

In order to receive the certification from the WHO, a country must have a transmission rate in less than 0.5 percent of live births in the case of syphilis and less than 2 percent in the case of HIV. Medical care for pregnant women and access to HIV tests must exceed 95 percent and antiretroviral treatment must be available for 95 percent of seropositive pregnant women. “We believe Cuba meets the indicated requirements and we hope to receive certification,” said Dr. Rosaida Ochoa, director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Unit.

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In April 2015 Rock Around The Blockade will be sending a delegation of activists to Cuba to support the country that has been blockaded for more than half a century.

Since the revolution in 1959, the Cuban government has committed itself to levelling the social structure of the country. In addition to delivering free, world class education and healthcare to every single Cuban, the government has also invested heavily in the arts to ensure that culture is available to all, and is not a bourgeois pastime. Recently this involved investing $200,000 to a financially struggling ballet school to transform it into the world renowned Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

However, as a result of the US blockade, these state-funded art and leisure institutions have been faced with shortages of much-needed materials including dance and sports equipment.

And despite the promises of the Obama government in recent months the blockade remains in place, to the detriment of the lives of 11 million Cubans.

That’s why, on the 20th April, a group of 16 activists will be travelling to Cuba to deliver material aid in the form of ballet shoes and boxing gloves.

The brigade will also critique and learn from a country that in the depth of a world crisis continues to be committed to delivering free education, healthcare, culture and sport as a constitutional right for every citizen.

The research we undertake will be presented back in Britain at a series of events as we use the lessons learned in a socialist system are relevant to the working class in Britain, which is currently being brutalised at the hands of an ideologically-driven government that is dismantling and privatising the public sector and welfare state at every opportunity. Cuba has shown time and time again since 1959 that there is an alternative.

So please give any money you can by clicking on this link and donating: www.gofundme.com/cubavive. Every penny you give will be put towards helping improve the lives of as many Cubans as possible, as described in this short video https://youtu.be/4QyiDvKTSqs

If you would like more information about the trip and our Cuba-related event, please go to  www.facebook.com/ratb.cuba or we’ll also be blogging about the blockade at www.ratb.org.uk/

Viva Cuba!

Published on 27 February 2015 by TeleSur English
Cuba elections
 
 
Cubans are set to go to the polls in April, with typically high voter turnout expected.

Cubans continued the process of nominating candidates Thursday for the upcoming municipal elections.

The selection process for candidates began nationwide Tuesday, and will continue until March 25.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), 167,263 Cubans have already stepped forward as potential candidates. Around 44 percent of the hopefuls are women. The final candidates will vie for positions in Cuba's 12,589 municipal councils, with between two and eight candidates required by law for each position.

Any of Cuba's roughly 8 million eligible voters can run, but not along party lines. Municipal elections are strictly non-partisan and very little campaigning takes place. Instead, candidates are expected to woo voters familiar with their track records as responsible members of the community, rather than through the types of expensive publicity campaigns common in Western nations.

After candidates have been selected, voting will take place on April 19. Runoff votes will be held on April 26 for any positions where no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

The municipal elections are one of three tiers of voting in Cuba's government, along with provincial and national elections. Municipal level voting takes place once every two and a half years.

Since the mid 1970s, all municipal elections have had turnouts above 90 percent of eligible voters, though voting isn't compulsory in Cuba. According to government figures, the last municipal level elections in 2012 saw turnout just over 90 percent – similar levels to the national and provincial elections of 2013.

Published on 8 March 2015 by Prensa Latina

cuban revolutionary women

The Cuban social process that started in 1959 includes, among its priorities, maintaining public policies in favor of inclusion and development of the potentialities of women, who are broadly represented in today''s society.

Since the beginning of the revolutionary project, some measures have been adopted to eliminate problems such as prostitution and gender discrimination, and to boost family planning, among other issues.

An important step was the adoption of a Family Code, establishing absolute legal equality of women and men in marriage.

At the same time, the Family Code defines equal duties and rights by married couples with their children and development at home.

The government also implemented actions to recognize equal rights in the economic, political, cultural, social and family aspects included in the Constitution.

According to statistics published by Granma newspaper, on the occasion of Women's International Day, there are 5,620,719 women in Cuba and until 2013, life expectancy for Cuban women was 80.4 years.

Women in Cuba represents 48.8 percent of lawmakersds in the People's Power National Assembly (Parliament), 41.9 percent of the members of Council of State and 66.6 percent of the presidents of People's Power Provincial Assemblies.

According to statistics from the latest Population and Housing Census released by the newspaper until 2012, about 44.2 percent of women were heads of household.

In the social-productive sphere, there are 1,838,600, 31,200 of whom are members of cooperatives and 175,500 are self-employed workers. About 1,631,900 women work in the state sector.

Published on 1 February 2015 in www.revolutionarycommunist.org

cuba-us talk

On 21 and 22 January, Cuba and the US held direct talks about restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The meeting in Havana took place one month after the historic announcements made simultaneously on 17 December 2014 by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro about a thaw in US–Cuban relations. This included a prisoner swap which finally freed the remaining Cuban anti-terrorist agents imprisoned in the US, known as the Cuban 5. This followed 18 months of secret talks facilitated by Canada and the Vatican. The tactical change by the US administration reflects the failure of its Cuba policy, and economic and strategic developments which put competitive pressure on US capitalists who do not benefit from the blockade. Helen Yaffe reports.

Historic announcements: 17 December 2014

President Obama announced three broad policy changes:

  • The restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the re-establishment of a US embassy in Havana and a visit to Cuba by high-ranking officials to initiate talks about these issues. He asserted that the US would raise its differences ‘on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba’.
  • He indicated that the US would consider removing Cuba from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
  • He stated: ‘we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba’, making it easier for people in the US to visit Cuba, authorising financial transactions and easing some trade restrictions.

‘These are the steps I can take as President to change this policy’, Obama stated. He cannot, however, unilaterally end the US blockade of Cuba which is codified in legislation. He made explicit, however, that he considered the US blockade to be a failed policy, and hopes the US Congress will lift the embargo.

It is important to be absolutely clear. Obama is not supporting Cuba’s right to self-determination; to develop its socialist system without interference and sabotage 90 miles from the US shore. He believes that a more effective strategy to destroy Cuban socialism is to distort, seduce and pervert it through what he calls ‘engagement’, by imposing the logic of the capitalist market, social relations and cultural values on Cuba: ‘We will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests … these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach…through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values.’

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Published on 12 February 2015 by Granma

Josefina Vidal

Cristina Escobar.- Cuba and the United States are entering a new stage of diplomatic relations. How can these relations be constructed after so many years of confrontation, and what do the recent talks between the two countries mean? These were the questions posed to Josefina Vidal, Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) Director General for the United States, in an exclusive interview with Cuban television.

Josefina, there are people on the street here in Cuba, and also in the international media saying, or asking, if the United States blockade of Cuba has ended. Is this true?

Josefina Vidal.- No, no, the blockade has not ended; what has happened is that the President of the United States, making use of his executive prerogatives, which he has, announced a series of measures modifying the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. It was within this context that a series of regulations were issued – mandated by him and formulated by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce – to expand travel to Cuba, expand as well allowances for remittances, and permit some commercial transactions, still of a limited nature, in spheres such as telecommunications, for example.

Cristina Escobar.- When can we say that the blockade has ended? What must happen before we can say it has ended?

Josefina Vidal.- Since the blockade was first officially declared in February of 1962, until 1996 when the Helms-Burton law was approved, it was the prerogative of the President; that is, just as President Kennedy had declared the blockade in 1962, a later President could have declared an end to this policy.

In 1996 the Helms-Burton law was approved, which codified the blockade as law, which means it was established that, in the future, the President could not on his own terminate the blockade policy, but rather that it was the United States Congress which had the authority to declare an end to the policy.

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Published on 5 February by Rebelion. A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

internet connection cubaThe nervousness which has gripped the Latin American right after the announcement of the "normalization" of relations between the US and Cuba has sparked a series of demonstrations that astonish because of the impunity with which they distort reality.

An example is Andres Oppenheimer’s Tuesday, February 2 column in La Nacion whose lead says it all:
"The key to freedom in Cuba is access to the Internet".  The journalist, known for his visceral rejection of the whole work of the Cuban Revolution, wonders if "Cuba’s regime will accept US help to expand access to the Internet."

Shortly afterwards he recalled that in his speech on December 17, 2014, Obama said that "Washington will eliminate various regulations that prevent US companies from exporting smartphones, Internet software and other telecommunications equipment; but judging from what I'm told by several visitors who just returned from the island, there are good reasons to be skeptical that the Cuban regime will allow it."

The punch line of his article is anthological: "Washington should focus on the Internet. And if Cuba does not want to talk about it, the US and Latin American countries should denounce the Cuban regime for what it is: a military dictatorship that has already run out of excuses to continue to banning Internet access in the island ".

I prefer not to waste time in refuting the unprecedented characterization of Cuba as a military dictatorship that in a test of Introduction to Political Science would deserve the immediate flunking of the student who dared to express such a notion (which is not the same as an idea, more respect for Hegel, please!). Oppenheimer is not one of those rabid fanatics who swarm in American television, serial violators of the most basic rules of journalism. But the nervousness and despair that has gripped the increasingly small and lacking prestige of the anti-Castro groups in Miami must have infected him and driven him to write a note full of falsehoods. I will just mention three.

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Published on 16 December by Granma Internacional

solarpanel

Pinar del Rio solar farm set to be integrated into the National Electric System (SEN)

The panels set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN).

According to scientist, Efren Marcos Espinosa, investment specialist at the Pinar del Rio electric company, a total of about 4,000 photovoltaic modules have been installed, manufactured in the own province, with a peak output of 250 Watts (Wp) each.

The official noted that the farm is located in an area known as Cayo Cana, in the municipality of Pinar del Río, where work is continuing in order to reach three MW at a later stage.

He added that the foundations required to reach that figure are virtually complete and that a great deal of the metal structures responsible for supporting the panels that will complete the farm have also been installed.

He highlighted that the new facility is the first step in the province aimed at diversifying energy sources, in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In this regard, he stressed that the electricity generated through solar energy produced by the 4,000 already installed panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Given this reality, he noted that the company is currently working on engineering and geological studies aimed at identifying other areas suitable for the construction of further solar farms in Vueltabajo.

 

Published on 28 January 2015 by counterpunch

cuban-flag

“I do not expect the changes I am announcing today to bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight.”

— Barack Obama, Dec. 17, 2014

President Obama’s Dec. 17 statement announcing changes in U.S. Cuba policy was a mixture of historical truths and catch phrases drawn from the catalog of myths about Cuba and U.S. policy goals.

The first round of rule changes, announced by Jan. 16 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), was significant in the areas of trade and banking. At the same time, much of the language is drawn from the old justifications for regime change. (Let us put aside the hypocrisies in Obama’s speech such as the instruction — coming from a country where labor unions have been systematically destroyed — that “Cuban workers should be free to form unions.”)

In his speech, Obama reworked Einstein’s famous definition of insanity to support his partial abandonment of the half-century attempts to destroy the Cuban revolution. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result,” said Obama. (If he means that the policy he has supported for six years is insane, what does that say about him?)

Nowhere in the speech did Obama renounce the longstanding U.S. commitment to regime change in Cuba or even acknowledge that it ever existed. While implicitly recognizing that the use of sanctions to achieve political results had failed, he continues to pursue them in Korea, Russia and elsewhere. One day after making the Cuba speech, he signed a bill imposing sanctions on Venezuela alleging that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had violated the human rights of protestors during violent anti-government demonstrations last February. The demonstrations were led by right-wing representatives of the Venezuelan elite who have long been backed by the United States.

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