Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, on July 5, 2014, Year 56 of the Revolution, during the National Assembly of People’s Power 8th Legislature’s third period of ordinary sessions, in Havana’s Convention Center
Compañeras and compañeros:
Over the last few weeks, we have held important meetings, among them the June 21 Council of Ministers and the 8th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, last Thursday. Information about both events, especially the Council of Ministers, has been broadly reported in the media.
Likewise, since Wednesday, deputies have discussed in depth, in their respective commissions, the principal issues affecting the nation’s work. My remarks will therefore be brief.
As has been reported, during the first half of the year, the Cuban economy continued to grow modestly; the Gross Domestic Product (GNP) increased by 0.6%, indicating a deceleration in the growth rate as a result of shortfalls in external income; the negative effects of weather conditions; as well as the persistence of internal economic management deficiencies.
Despite growth in the areas of transportation, communications, agriculture, the sugar industry and tourism, decreases were registered in mining and industrial production, the latter as a result of difficulties with financing and the consequent late delivery of imported raw materials.
Likewise, the negative effects of the world economic crisis continue, while the U.S. blockade has been tightened, especially with respect to the persecution of financial entities which maintain ties with our country, a topic I will address again later.
In these undeniably difficult circumstances, we have met in a timely fashion our financial obligations resulting from the restructuring of debts with our principal creditors, a fact which favors the continuing recuperation of our economy’s international credibility.
At the same time, internal monetary equilibrium has been maintained, both within the population’s sector and in the economy as a whole. The tendency toward recovering financial discipline, in terms of accounts payable and receivable, has been consolidated, as well.
To achieve a growth of 1.4% in the GNP by the end of the year, more and better work is required during the second semester, and the utilization of untapped sources of efficiency must be strengthened.
We are not satisfied with the results achieved, but neither are we discouraged, in the least. Faced with these difficult circumstances, our spirit of struggle, determination and optimism must prevail, to reverse the situation and regain the rate of growth needed to assure socialist development, based on sustainable and irreversible foundations.
"These policies defy reason: there are dozens of countries we call our allies and we are free to travel to that present much worse threats and concerns to the US than Cuba does in this decade. ", said the President of Google, Eric Schmidt in an article he posted on his personal website about his recent visit to the island.
During the trip Schmidt was accompanied by Google directives Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter and Dan Keyserling.
In his article he included several pictures he took in Havana and said that "the Cuban people, modern and very well educated define the experience with a warmth that only Latin cultures express: tremendous music, food and entertainment (most of which we were not able to sample, more about that visa in a minute.)"
"The two most successful parts of the Revolution, as they call it, is the universal health care free for all citizens with very good doctors, and the clear majority of women in the executive and managerial ranks in the country. Almost all the leaders we met with were female, and one joked with us that the Revolution promised equality, the macho men didn't like it but "they got used to it", with a broad smile," Schmidt noted.
Cuba's rehabilitation services are present in 36 nations, informed on Thursday Maritza Leyva, head of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program of the island's Public Health Ministry.
While addressing participants in the opening of the 1 st Workshop on Medical Equipment, as part of the International Convention of Cuban Industry (Cubaindustria -2014), Leyva pointed out that working in these nations are physicians, physical therapists and highly qualified technicians, while in many places there are only promoters.
Various specialties, such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, logopedics, defectology, podiatry, occupational therapy, natural and traditional medicine and physical education are incorporated to contribute to the rehabilitation of disabled persons, specified Leyva.
New Cuban equipment made by the country's medical industry were presented during the workshop.
The Cuban people and government pay tribute today to Reserve Army Corps General Sixto Batista Santana, who passed away Sunday in Havana from a painful disease.
According to Granma newspaper, the remains of the outstanding revolutionary will be buried at the Veterans' Pantheon in the Colon Cemetery.
Batista Santana was born March 28, 1932 to a poor family in the western province of Santiago de Cuba. He joined the Rebel Army headed by Fidel Castro at a very young age and he assumed different responsibilities during the revolution, such as Chief of the Political Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Coordinator of the Revolution's Defense Committee.
Batista was a founding member of the Cuban Communist Party's Central Committee and he was also member of the Cuban Council of State.
The Bacardi Corporation has launched a new deep saturation advertising campaign, with vibrant videos and colourful images. The adverts brandish the Cuban flag, with slogans such as ‘we survived exile from our own country’ and ‘we thrived during Prohibition’. Bacardi, the richest family-owned business in the world, has an army of lawyers and marketing and public relations professionals to clean up their murky past and obscure their right-wing agenda. Scratch the surface, however, and the truth is there.
Bacardi began leaving Cuba long before the revolution, back in 1910 when they moved their bottling to Barcelona, Spain. Later in the 1930s they opened facilities in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Bacardi boasts about how they benefited from the abuse of Cuba as a colonial playground for wealthy Americans during the Prohibition years. However, they also claim that their assets were ‘illegally confiscated without compensation’ by the Cuban government in 1960. In fact, they were offered compensation by the revolutionary government, a sum based on the value of the assets they had themselves declared for tax payment purposes. Pepin Bosch, head of Bacardi at the time of the Cuban Revolution, a man referred to as ‘the saviour’ on Bacardi’s website, was linked to the CIA and exiles groups actively involved in attacking revolutionary Cuba.
Later, he and other members of the Bacardi family helped set up the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Membership was initially granted to Cuban exiles whose businesses were worth more than $50,000 when they were nationalised by the Cuban government. This exclusive club used their wealth to buy power, cultivating the support of influential right-wing US senators. The fruit of this partnership was the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, which penalises any country trading with Cuba. Even the European Union questioned the legality of the Act, but CANF lawyers fought off every objection.
In April and May 2014, news about two US-based attacks on Cuba hit international headlines, demonstrating that as the capitalist crisis intensifies, imperialist attempts to destabilise the popular and revolutionary government of socialist Cuba continue. Louise Gartrel reports.
On 3 April, following a thorough investigation, Associated Press (AP) exposed a US government-funded covert programme to develop a social media network in Cuba as a tool to promote an uprising against the government. The mobile phone network was called ‘Zunzuneo’, which is Cuban slang for the hummingbird’s ‘tweet’; hence this project was referred to as the Cuban ‘twitter’. Then on 7 May, the Cuban government announced that four Cuban exiles from Miami had been arrested on 26 April on entering the country with the intention of carrying out terrorist actions against military installations. As living conditions worsen for the majority in the capitalist countries, and as repression, racism and exploitation increases, Cuba represents a viable alternative which threatens the rotten neoliberal system. This has provided the impetus to ratchet up attacks on Cuba.
The Cuban government strongly rejected on Saturday the blacklisting of the island by the US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
The Cuban government strongly rejected on Saturday the blacklisting of the island by the US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report by calling it a groundless unilateral practice and an offence against the Cuban people.
A statement issued by the general director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s United States Division, Josefina Vidal, reads that on June 20, the US Department of State decided to again include Cuba on the worst category of its annual report on countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and that do not make significant efforts to do so.
Washington took the decision disregarding the high recognition and prestige of Cuba for its outstanding role in the protection of its children, youths and women.
The statement reads that Cuba has not asked any evaluation from the United States nor it needs any recommendations from that country, which is facing some of the worst problems related to the trafficking in children and women around the world.
The United States has no moral to certify Cuba or to suggest any kind of plans when, according to estimates, nearly 200 thousand US citizens are victims of trafficking inside the US territory, where labor exploitation is the most expanded modality of trafficking in persons with 85 percent of legal processes on the issue are related to sexual exploitation and with over 300 thousand children, out of one million who leave their homes, are subject to some kind of exploitation, the statements notes.
The Government of Cuba strongly rejects the unilateral US practice, for considering it groundless and an offence against the Cuban people, reads the statement and adds that the inclusion of Cuba on the US list is due to political interests, as it is the certification of the island as a state sponsor of international terrorism, which is a pretext to justify the financial sanctions imposed and increasing stiffened by the US government against Cuba, thus severely affecting Cuban children, youths, women and all the people, concludes the statement issued by the general director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s United States Division.
Milagro de la Caridad Pérez Caballero, a member of the National Secretariat of Cuba's CTC labor federation (Cuban Workers' Central), began a speaking tour in Spain on April 14. Spain's Coordinating Organization for Solidarity with Cuba organized her trip. Her interview with journalist Enric Llopis appeared May 29 on rebelion.org. The link is:http://www.rebelion.org
The opening for emerging sectors like self employed workers or cooperatives, or the arrival of foreign investment in Cuba doesn't mean enterprises of the socialist state will no longer predominate in the country's economy. To the contrary, "That sector assumes the major burden for developing the economy," says Milagro de la Caridad Pérez Caballero, deputy of the National Assembly of People's Power and member of the National Secretariat of the CTC. The labor leader participated in a discussion of "New labor relations and Cuban unionism in the context of updating socialism," organized by the José Martí Cuba Friendship Association of Valencia.
Question: The 20th Congress of the Cuba Workers' Central (CTC) was held in February. What were the main conclusions?
The production-sharing agreement for the Puerto Escondido/Yumuri oil field will now sunset in March 2028. During the new 10-year term, Sherritt — currently Cuba’s only independent oil and gas producer — must drill a minimum of seven additional wells within an initial two-year period following the effective date in 2018.
In the same press release, the Toronto-based company said it was awaiting final approval by the Cuban government for four new exploratory production-sharing contracts, after having completed negotiations.
“After more than two decades in the country, we have developed a great relationship with the government of Cuba,” said David Pathe, president and CEO of Sherritt. “We are pleased to announce this extension as an important milestone towards continuing long-term oil production in Cuba.”
Sherritt currently works under two production-sharing contracts in three commercial oil fields, which contributed an average of 20,042 barrels of gross working-interest oil production per day in 2013.
Sherritt invested US$67 million in oil and gas during the first quarter, most of it in Cuba.