Published on 13 June 2015 by TeleSUR English
Despite claiming to be taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. has allocated funding for the NED. The US Committee on Appropriations approved on Friday US$30 million for “programs to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba, of which not less than US$8,000,000 shall be for NED,” as quoted from the committee report.
The NED is the National Endowment for Democracy, a fund used by the U.S. to undermine left-wing and socialist governments and support opposition groups by supposedly promoting “democracy.”
“The Committee directs that funds shall only be used for programs and activities pursuant to section 109(a) of the Cuban Liberty and Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 and section 1705 of the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992, and shall not be used for business promotion, economic reform, entrepreneurship or any other assistance that is not democracy-building,” the report states.
More than half a century ago, Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy conducted secret negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of the assassinated President, recounts these events and praises Obama’s policy of rapprochement, which is making his uncle’s “dream” a “reality”
1. After the October 1962 missile crisis, a conflict that almost led to a nuclear disaster, and its resolution that included the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and US missiles from Turkey, President John F. Kennedy decided to undertake a process of normalization of relations with Cuba.
2. During his trip to the Soviet Union in 1962, Fidel Castro spoke at length with Nikita Khrushchev about Kennedy. According to the former president’s nephew, “Castro returned to Cuba determined to find a path to reconciliation” with the United States.
3. In 1962, Kennedy commissioned James Donovan, a New York lawyer, and John Dolan, an advisor to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to negotiate the release of the 1500 Bay of Pigs invaders held in Cuba. During his meeting with the Washington emissaries, Fidel Castro made clear his desire to normalize relations with the United States and maintain links based on sovereign equality, reciprocity and non-interference in internal affairs. “My father Robert and JFK were intensely curious about Castro and demanded detailed, highly personal, descriptions of the Cuban leader from both Donovan and Nolan. The US press had repeatedly caricatured Fidel as drunken, filthy, mercurial, violent and undisciplined. However, Nolan told them: “Our impression would not square with the commonly accepted image. Castro was never irritable, never drunk, never dirty.” He and Donovan described the Cuban leader as worldly, witty, curious, well informed, impeccably groomed, and an engaging conversationalist.”
Published on 25 June 2015 by Granma
Robben island, South Africa - A sign in English and Afrikaans announces arrival on Robben Island, situated off the coast of Cape Town, a site which encompasses a painful history, thankfully now past for South Africans.
The island of dry sand and strong winds, surrounded by sharp reefs and the unique sound of the thousands of birds that fly overhead, is today a symbol of freedom.
To get there, you have to board a boat at the Nelson Mandela memorial located in the commercial and tourist district of Waterfront.
The journey is about 12 kilometers, a half hour boat ride, enough to reflect on the triumph of human spirit over adversity encompassed by this historical site.
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Five Cuban anti-terrorists who themselves were greatly inspired by the spirit of resistance of Prisoner No.46664, Nelson Mandela, during their imprisonment in the U.S., traveled to the island as part of their tour of South Africa.
Published on 11 May 2015 by Wired
Cuba has for several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed. Until—maybe—now.
The Obama administration has, of course, been trying to normalize relations with the island nation. And last month, during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Havana, Roswell Park Cancer Institute finalized an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine and begin clinical trials in the US. Essentially, US researchers will bring the Cimavax vaccine stateside and get on track for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
“The chance to evaluate a vaccine like this is a very exciting prospect,” says Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park. She’s excited, most likely, because research on the vaccine so far shows that it has low toxicity, and it’s relatively cheap to produce and store. The Center for Molecular Immunology will give Roswell Park all of the documentation (how it’s produced, toxicity data, results from past trials) for an FDA drug application; Johnson says she hopes to get approval for testing Cimavax within six to eight months, and to start clinical trials in a year.
How did Cuba end up with a cutting edge immuno-oncology drug? Though the country is justly famous for cigars, rum, and baseball, it also has some of the best and most inventive biotech and medical research in the world. That’s especially notable for a country where the average worker earns $20 a month. Cuba spends a fraction of the money the US does on healthcare per individual; yet the average Cuban has a life expectancy on par with the average American. “They’ve had to do more with less,” says Johnson, “so they’ve had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community.”
Despite decades of economic sanctions, Fidel and Raul Castro made biotechnology and medical research, particularly preventative medicine, a priority. After the 1981 dengue fever outbreak struck nearly 350,000 Cubans, the government established the Biological Front, an effort to focus research efforts by various agencies toward specific goals. Its first major accomplishment was the successful (and unexpected) production of interferon, a protein that plays a role in human immune response. Since then, Cuban immunologists made several other vaccination breakthroughs, including their own vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B, and monoclonal antibodies for kidney transplants.
Published on 30 May by Prensa Latina
The removal of Cuba from a U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism was among the most significant news in the United States this week.
Spokesman for the State Department, Jeff Rathke, said that the 45-day notification of Congress expired and Secretary of State John Kerry decided to remove Cuba from such a list. For its full implementation, the step must be published in the official U.S. journal Federal Register, though Rathke said it is in force.
According to the release, Cuba has not given support to international terrorism in the past six months and gave guarantees that it won't back any such act in the future.
Yesterday, The New York Times described the White House step as crucial, as it leaves behind the Cold War hostility that for many years characterized the relatopns between the United States and Cuba. Though the Cuban authoriies did not raised this issue as a precondition to advance towards a resumption of links between the two nations, they reiterated that the Island should have never been in such a list in the first place, which they attributed to political motives.
This step is in line with pronouncements by Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama, who on Dec. 17 informed their decision to resume those links and open embasises in both capitals.
Sources from the Cuban Foreign Ministry have reiterated that the main hurdle to a normalization of USA-Cuba relations is atill in force: the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba for over half a century, causing the Island billions of US dollars in losses.
Many U.S. legislators who have visited Cuba in the past few weeks agree in saying that there is bipartisan consensus in Congress for lifting the blockade.
But as Congress decides on the issue, Obama is in capacity to use its executive powers and, according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, he can eliminate most of the restrictions of the blockade against Cuba.
Published on 25 May by Granma
It has been five months since Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced on December 17 their intention to open a new chapter in relations between the United States and Cuba.
After an historic meeting between both leaders at the 7th Summit of the Americas, on May 21, the third round of conversations began in Washington, with the goal of advancing toward the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in both countries,.
Although talks between the U.S. and Cuba are already, in themselves, a milestone for two neighboring countries which have lacked formal ties for more than half a century, they only mark the beginning of a much longer and complicated process.
Inaccuracies and distorted information have accompanied this process from the beginning.Granma shares with its readers seven key points which clarify the dimension of what is happening between Havana and Washington and the coming stage.
Published on 25 May by Granma
One month has past since the devastating April 25 earthquake in Nepal, and two weeks since the powerful May 12 aftershock, the same night Cuba’s Henry Reeve Medical Brigade arrived in the country. Forty-nine Cuban medical professionals are taking on the population’s needs, defying the damage, fear and grief around them.
Cities lie in ruin and the number of victims has surpassed 8,600. Anxiety remains fixed on faces, since the country continues to experience aftershocks.
On the night of May 12, the same night a severe aftershock hit the nation, 49 members of the Henry Reeve International Contingent Specialized in Disasters and Large Epidemics Brigade No.41 arrived in Katmandu.
“The landscape was disheartening, Dantesque, I would say. The country didn’t need nature to punish it this way. Those who managed to save their lives in the most affected areas have lost practically everything, including their most cherished loved ones,” Dr. Luis Orlando Oliveros Serrano, head of the Brigade, told Granma.
Published on 26 May 2015 by TeleSUR English
Cuban officials with the Center for the Study of Population and Development, known as CEPDE, revealed Monday that life expectancy in Cuba, already one of the highest in the world, now reaches 78.45 years. Juan Carlos Alfonso Fraga, director of CEPDE, said the figure represents an increase of nearly half a year over the previous study of life expectancy on the island. He added that the bump was seen throughout all the provinces of Cuba and not just confined to urban areas, where medical attention tends to be of better quality.
Life expectancy for women was slightly higher at 80.45 years, with the life span for men at 76.50 years. Cuba is in the top 25 countries in the world for life expectancy, which is considered an important indicator of human development and quality of healthcare. Despite its status as a low-income country, Cuba's medical system is recognized as one of the best in the world.
Published on 14 may 2015 by Granma
Two days of fruitful debate in the 5th CIMAvax-EGF International Workshop on the first registered therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer, confirmed that after two decades of clinical experience in the use of this vaccine, the treatment has been proven safe and effective given the positive reaction of patients, the increase in survival rates and improved quality of life.
An excellent prognosis in a context where lung cancer, according to the Annual Health Statistics report 2014, is among the top causes of death for both men and women in the country, and is one of the illnesses showing the greatest increase in both genders.
The Workshop, organized by CIMAB S.A - biopharmaceutical entity dedicated to the development and commercialization of cancer medicines, affiliated with the Molecular Immunology Center (CIM) - was the ideal place to present the final results of the study confirming the effectiveness of CIMAvax-EGF in treating advanced pulmonary cancer; the use of the vaccine in treating lung cancer at a primary healthcare level; its global safety accreditation; biomarkers to predict patients’ response to the vaccine; post-registration experiences in other countries; CIMAvax-EGF in the context of therapies directed toward patients with lung cancer; and its use in treating prostate cancer.
According to information presented during the event, more than 3,000 patients, the majority Cubans, have benefited from the vaccine. Dr. Giselle Suárez, expert at CIM’s commercial office, reported to the press that since 2015, the vaccine has been included in the country’s basic catalogue of essential medicines, and is available across all levels of the national health system.