Published on 18 August 2015 by Granma

ELAM students

Young Africans Yannick, Joëllevie, Lindokuhle, Thatonatsi, Darions and Abdoulaye, are grateful to Cuba for having welcomed them to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), which has graduated over 24,000 health professionals from 84 countries during its 16 years of existence.

Yannick Alban Joseph, aged 24, from the Central African Republic, tells of the internal conflicts affecting his country, which prevented him from enrolling in a higher education institute on completing his pre-university level education, until his brother informed him of the scholarship to study in Cuba.

“I study medicine because I know that the people lacking economic resources in my city, Bangui, are not treated in hospitals and when I graduate I will help all patients, not because they can contribute financially, but to fulfill my ethical duty to save lives.”

Joëllevie Okombi, from Congo, comes from a family of six children. She always dreamt of being a doctor. “I like to see people happy and healthy. When I see someone suffering from an illness it really hurts me, doctors are professionals who help human beings.”

“The main obstacle,” Okombi adds, “has been the language. I speak French, but on arrival we began a Spanish course, today I have a good command of it and I have done well in my courses. The most satisfying area has been the visits to family doctor surgeries. They gave me the opportunity to relate to Cubans in the community, to discover what their everyday problems are. I would like to devote myself to family and community medicine.”

Read more African students in Cuba: aspirations and realities

Published on 19 August 2015 by Granma

Cuba recycling

Finding value in waste, recycling, contributing to import substitution, are some of the motivations of those working at the Artemisa Company for the Recovery of Raw Materials.

With the aim of selling recyclable waste, destined for the domestic industry and exports, the mission for the entity this year is to recover over 13,600 tons of raw materials. In the first half of the year, targets have been surpassed, with sales up 20% over plans.

“We process 16 products, which we divide between ferrous, non-ferrous and metal recyclable scraps; scrap steel and cast iron are the leaders,” Andrés Ayllón, deputy manager, highlights.

Rum and beer bottles, paper, cardboard, aluminum, copper, sacks, medicine bottles, lead batteries, scrap steeland cast iron, are the recyclables destined for the domestic industry, among others.

Meanwhile, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, bronze and electronic scraps are destined for export, marketed by the Equipment Dismantling Company.

“We search out the added value - mainly bronze, paper and cardboard, plastic, and copper, according to classification, among other things, that is, we buy, process, classify and, in certain cases, we press,” comments Ayllón.

Read more Seeking out the value of waste

Published on 26 August 2015 by Venezuela Analysis Infographic by TeleSUR English

Telesur Image

Venezuelan and Colombian foreign ministers will meet today to discuss the issues surrounding Venezuela’s border closure and the crackdown on smuggling and undocumented Colombian immigrants in Tachira state, amid rising controversy.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos advocated yesterday for diplomacy after senator and former leader Alvaro Uribe called Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro a dictator on Twitter and accused him of “torturing Colombians.” 

Maduro closed the border between Tachira and Santander after three Venezuelan soldiers were attacked by alleged paramilitaries last week. The closure was soon extended to a 60-day state of exception- similar to a state of emergency but without the suspension of human rights- after Venezuelan authorities assessed an alarming level of smuggling and paramilitary-related violence in the region.

Santos also warned of politicians using the situation as a political platform, as Uribe visited the border area and fanned the flames of resentment in communities that were economically dependent on contraband gasoline and Venezuelan goods. 

“Its not the time to sound the trumpets of war,” Santos rebuked, “It’s time for firemen to step in, not pyromaniacs.”

Read more Colombian and Venezuelan ambassadors to meet after border closure highlights tensions

Published on 24 August 2015 by Granma

Ecuador general strike

Right wing forces, incapable of recognizing the electoral victories of popular governments, consistently resort to violent action, as is currently happening in Ecuador. After the failure of a general strike called for August 13, the opposition here launched another adventure, blocking roads - including the Pan American Highway – burning vehicles and tires, in an attempt to lay the groundwork for a coup d’etat against President Rafael Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution.

Police have quickly re-opened roadways and detained rioters attempting to pressure Rafael Correa with these maneuvers, which began this past June as supposed protests against proposed tax laws regarding inheritances and earnings. It soon became clear that the issue was a pretext for disrupting the government, in hopes of precipitating a coup, but the opposition has reaped few political dividends.

On the contrary, despite the opposition’s counterrevolutionary flag-waving, the population supported Correa’s policies with demonstrations August 13, without going on strike, while messages of solidarity arrived in Quito from political and social organizations across the country.

Normality reigned in Ecuador’s principal cities on the day of the attempted general strike, much to the chagrin of the opposition, led by well-known members of Ecuador’s elite who depend on a few leaders of Pachakutik, a faction within the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) and the Workers United Front.

Read more Ecuador’s right wing continues to mobilize despite failure of general strike


Published on 8 August 2015 by Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

The first Cuban medical brigade to Haiti arrived on Dec. 4, 1998, bringing relief in the aftermath of hurricane Georges. Since then cooperation has been uninterrupted and has had a decisive effect in this impoverished country, which in 2010 suffered an earthquake that killed 316,000 people, according to government figures, along with an ongoing cholera epidemic that has also claimed thousands of lives.

It’s Saturday, and the entrance hall of a police station in front of the busy market in Salomon in the Haitian capital has become an improvised health post. In a few minutes there is a long queue of people waiting to be seen by the Cuban medical brigade.

The police officer on duty said he was not authorized to speak to journalists, but the extent of police cooperation is obvious. The police stations’ tables and chairs are quickly lined up along the entrance hall to facilitate the work of La Renaissance hospital workers, who carry out preventive health work here once a week.

“We are a mobile clinic,” said Damarys Ávila, the head of La Renaissance hospital, which is staffed by the Cuban medical mission. “We check for high blood pressure, cataracts, pterygium (a benign tumour of the conjunctiva) and glaucoma,” she told IPS. “We send people with these conditions to the hospital.”

Women are the majority of those waiting in line. “Women have the highest rate of high blood pressure because they bear the greatest burden of labour. Then there are dietary factors, like eating too much hot, spicy food, refined flour and salt,” she said.

“Many people have their blood pressure taken here for the first time in their lives,” Ávila said.

On a tour of this unusual health post, where in a single morning 167 poor women and men receive attention, expressions of gratitude abound.

Read more Cuba: A History of Service to the Haitian People

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