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Cuban Doctor Returns to Fight Ebola in Africa

Published on 15 January 2015 by Cuba News Agency

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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.

New Era of Cuba-US Relations Begins

Published on 16 January 2015 by TeleSUR English

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The U.S. government lifted large portions of its blockade against Cuba Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday modifications to trade limitations with Cuba and the travel restrictions to the island for U.S. citizens.

Cuba–U.S. relations took a historic turn on Dec. 17, when three Cuban political prisoners — unjustly held by the United States for more than 15 years — were released, and the White House announced numerous policy shifts toward the Caribbean nation. President Barack Obama admitted that his country's half-century attempt to defeat Cuba had failed.

United Airlines said Thursday it planned to serve Cuba from Houston, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey, subject to government approvals. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways said they would also look into adding services. Leading online travel company Orbitz Worldwide welcomed the Department of the Treasury's amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes and facilitate the provision by travel agents and airlines of authorized travel services.

However, general tourism to Cuba remains banned.     

Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer and expert on Cuban legal issues, told Voice of America that hefty fines remain for those involved in unauthorized travel.

“It is US$100,000 per infraction. So if you have 20 people in a group traveling to Cuba and the organizers violated the rules, you are looking at a US$2 million penalty,” he said.

Latin American leaders welcomed Obama’s decision to restart diplomatic relations with Cuba. They also claimed the new Washington-Cuba relations a “moral” victory.

Meanwhile, the details of the new amendments provide opportunities for U.S. businesses to export certain goods to Cuba, including telecommunications equipment and building materials for private residents and small businesses. 

Senior administration officials plan to travel to Cuba later this month to discuss additional migration issues, as well the logistical considerations surrounding the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

Only the U.S. Congress can lift the blockade that has been in place since 1960. However, several U.S. lawmakers have vowed to block any attempts to restore diplomatic relations.  

The United States is home to over 2 million Cubans.

The U.S. agenda in Cuba remains counter-revolution

Speech by Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban 5 .  San Francisco Party for Socialism and Liberation forum 2 January 2015

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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.

Read more

Daughter of Cuban 5 Gerardo Hernandez born in Havana

Published on 6 January 2015 by Prensa Latina

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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.

China-CELAC Forum a 'New Beginning,' Says Xi

Published on 08 January 2015 by TeleSUR English

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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.

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