Published on 18 January by www.letcubalive.org Source: http://www.mujerfariana.org/index.php/heroinas/241-leonela-relys-laincansable-educadora Translated by Tom Whitney

Leonela Relys

“Death is not true when one has fulfilled life's work in all respects.” -- José Martí

Leonela Relys died on January 17, 2015. She created the Cuban method of literacy teaching known as “Yes I can” (Yo, si puedo). It’s the means by which millions of people in various parts of the world keep on learning how to read and write. Letters have allowed men and women to understand their rights as citizens, or simply – but no less important –to read a story, a poem, or know how to sign something. With pencils they see those names bursting forth that other people use to identify us.

She was born in Camagüey on April 20 1947 and lived many years in Havana where she did much of her work as a teacher. A militant of the Communist Party of Cuba, she was tireless in defending the achievements of the Cuban revolution. As either teacher or professor, one of her ways to do it was to pass on her academic knowledge and her moral and revolutionary principles to each compatriot, to each Latin American

At 14 years of age she became a [volunteer] literacy teacher in the campaign asked for by Fidel to fill various corners of Cuba's geography with letters, learning, and knowledge. Responding much later to another call from Fidel, she went to the land of Petión to coordinate literacy teaching for the Haitian people. Haitians received not only Leonela’s wisdom but also her friendship and love. After this experience, Fidel sent her to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and later to Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, and Seville in Spain. In all these places, she set up her program.

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Published on 23 January 2015 by Houston Communist Party

cuba flags

Hypocrisy or diplomacy

Certainly all rational people understand that the current negotiations between Cuba and the USA are complex and progress will not be smooth. One way to smooth the negotiations would be to remove the element of hypocrisy constantly being hammered by the US negotiators. One impediment to progress is the demand by the US for Cuba to improve their stance on “human rights.” The US negotiators should consider this biblical passage before making demands on Cuba:

John 8:7

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sinamong you be the first to throw a stone at her.” They also might want to consider this old saying “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

The US negotiators have reached the apex of hypocrisy when they demand that Cuba improve its human rights record. Cuba has never unleashed nuclear weapons on foreign or domestic metropolises such as the US did to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Cuba has never firebombed a city such as was done to Dresden, Germany. Cuba has never bombed foreign countries throughout the world such as the US has done in Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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Published on 6 January 2015 by Prensa Latina

Gerardobaby

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 2 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
 
cienfuegos
The central province of Cienfuegos, Cuba, ended 2014 with a rate of infant mortality of three deaths per thousand live births, the lowest in the country and in the world, local health authorities reported Friday.

“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.

Published on 19 December 2014 by Helen Yaffe

raul obama

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 9 December by Cuban News Agency 

cuenta prop

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.

Published on 1 December 2014 by TeleSur English
Cuba games
 
With 123 gold medals, this was the 10th time that Cuba has won the games.

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 Cuban News Agency

sugar cane

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 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.

tv marti

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.

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