News on Cuba - January 11, 2012 Print

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad Arrives in Cuba

Havana, Jan 11.- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived on Tuesday in Cuba, where he will carry out a broad agenda for promoting bilateral relations.

Ahmadinejad and his delegation were welcomed at the Jose Marti International Airport in this capital by Vice President Esteban Lazo.

According to the agenda, Ahmadinejad will meet with Cuban president, Raul Castro, and will give a lecture at the Aula Magna of the University of Havana.

The visitor will also place a wreath at the Cuban National Hero Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square.

Ahmadinejad is on the third leg of a Latin American tour that took him to Venezuela and Nicaragua, and will also include Ecuador.

The visit to boost ties that both countries agree are excellent will conclude tomorrow. (PL)

 

US Sponsors Organize Painting Exhibition of one of the Cuban Five

Washington, Jan 11.- The American Federation of Teachers (ATF) in Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday announced it will host an exhibition of paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five unjustly held in U.S. prisons.

The opening of the exhibition, entitled "Desde mi altura" (From My Height), will be on Thursday afternoon at the M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery located in the main field of the Seattle Community College, announced the ATF-Seattle website.

The exhibition will run until February 10.

According to an ATF communique, the event has been accompanied by a widely publicized campaign in four areas of the university, and various programs will be held in the gallery.

The local National Committee to Free the Cuban Five will provide reading materials at the reception and during the exhibition, while the M. L. King County Labor Council, representing 130 local unions, invited its approximately 75,000 members.

The so-called Cuban Five are René González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez, who are serving unjust sentences.

René, the first to complete his sentence, must remain in the U.S. territory for three years on probation. (PL)

 

Cuba's Interest Section Denounces Editorial Distorting Facts on Cuba

Washington, Jan 11.- The Cuban Interest Section in Washington on denounced an editorial published in The Washington Post that distorts some facts on Cuba, as the sentence on Alan Gross and the case of five Cuban antiterrorist fighters.

In a December 31 article, the newspaper questioned the sentence handed over to U.S. citizen Alan Gross for violating Cuban laws.

"We want to say that the defendant was not tried and sentenced for an alleged "humanitarian labor" associated to help the Jewish community in Cuba to connect to the Internet, as the synagogues had access to the network long before his arrival," the Cuban Interest Section stated in a letter.

Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws and carried out covert activities. The U.S. government hired him to develop federal programs that threaten constitutional order of our country, the text said.

It is illegal in Cuba, as well as in many countries, including the United States, added the document, which added that defendant admitted his crimes.

It is fair to say that the Cuban government told the United States that it is ready to find a humanitarian solution, the letter stated.

The Cuban Interest Section in Washington also criticized a passage of the editorial that tries to justify the unjust prison terms handed over to the Cuban Five, as Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez are known internationally.

The Cuban response said that the daily denies the world support for the cause of the Cuban antiterrorist fighters, four of whom are still serving unjust lengthy sentences, while Rene, the first to complete his prison term, must remain in the United States for three years under "supervised release."

Describing the five antiterrorist fighters as "spies who infiltrated military facilities in South Florida is a way to mislead readers," the letter noted. (PL)

 

International Committee Decries WaPo’s Lies on the Cuban Five Case

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 9.- The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five decried The Washington Post this Monday for publishing an editorial full of lies and inaccuracies regarding the case of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who are serving outrageous sentences in the U.S., Prensa Latina reported.

In the Committee’s website, the organization criticized the article published in the newspaper on December 31 which demands the return of Alan Gross, a U.S. government contractor sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison for illegally bringing telecommunications equipment into the country, while distorting facts about the work of Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez in the U.S.

The Committee states that the Washington Post’s piece disregards the world support to the cause of the Cuban Five, four of whom are serving harsh and unfair sentences, while another one, Rene Gonzalez, has been forced to remain in the U.S. for three years on probation after having served his full term in prison.

The daily invalidates the opinion of artists, intellectuals and Nobel Prize winners worldwide, and even that of U.S. former President Jimmy Carter, all of who defend the release of the Cuban men, said the Committee.

Antonio, Rene, Fernando, Ramon and Gerardo were incarcerated more than 13 years ago for monitoring the work of Miami-based terrorist groups that planned and conducted criminal actions against both the Cuban and U.S. peoples.

Except for Rene, who has already completed his prison sentence, the rest are facing terms as harsh as two life sentences, like the case of Gerardo Hernandez.

The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, based in Oakland, California, is a network of people from Europe, Latin America and the United States who came together to take the truth about the five Cuban anti-terrorists to every sector of society in their respective countries, defend their right to family visits and fight for their release from jail. (AIN)

 

Southern Cross Solidarity Brigade Visits Central Cuba

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Jan 10.- Australians and New Zealanders making up the Southern Cross Brigade of solidarity with Cuba tour today the village of Trinidad, the World Cultural Heritage site that is observing the 39th Week of Trinidadian Culture on occasion of the 498th anniversary of its foundation by Spaniard Diego Velazquez.

The authorities at the center-south village welcomed the brigade that toured local streets and museums, and are to hold a nocturnal soiree with members of the Hermanos Saiz Association in the provincial capital Sancti Spiritus.

Wednesday in Yaguajay Municipality, they are to visit the National Museum Camilo Cienfuegos, founder of the Ejercito Rebelde, and the Frente Norte de Las Villas Mausoleum.

In Fomento Municipality they are scheduled to meet with former combatants under the command of Commander Ernesto Che Guevara during the struggle against the bloody dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

The Brigade is to arrive Friday in Villa Clara to visit Che Guevara’s Memorial. (PL)

 

U.S. Prison in Guantanamo Naval Base Turns Ten

Washington, Jan 11.- After a decade, the U.S. prison in the illegal naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, is still a center where prisoners have been tortured and many of them are still subject to indefinite detentions.

President Barrack Obama has not kept his electoral promise, made three years ago, to close the prison center, an announcement that then earned him the support of voters and the international community in light of continuous allegations of abuses against prisoners.

Obama´s willingness seems to have fallen into a bottomless pit, because, on December 31, 2011, he signed the 2012 National Authorization Act, an initiative that prevents the closure of the detention camp and prohibits the transfer of inmates to prisons in the United States.

The approval of unlimited detentions kills that promise, as 171 Muslim inmates fit to be released are still held indefinitely in that place, said Brian Terrel, a human rights activist in Maloy, Iowa.

Obama´s action is a stain in his legacy, because he will always be known as the president who signed the definite detention of people without charges or a trial, stated Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In January 2002, the administration of President George W. Bush began sending suspected terrorists belonging to Al Qaeda, Taliban insurgents and others to the Guantanamo detention camp.

The first plane carrying 20 prisoners arrived in the Guantanamo Bay ten years ago, a time when this new architecture of torture, abuse and indefinite detention started, recalled Beth Brockman, a human rights activist and mother of two in Durham, North Carolina.

We have called January 11 the National Day of Shame, she noted.

For days, human rights organizations have staged protests in front of the White House against the prison center in Guantanamo against the will of Cuban authorities and people.

It is considered the most expensive prison center in the world, because it costs 800,000 dollars per inmate a year to U.S. taxpayers, 30 times the cost of maintaining a convict in federal prisons, The Bellingham Herald newspaper reported in November. (PL)

 

Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Received Award Granted by University of Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 11.- The Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Li Yuqin, received on Tuesday the plaque ‘280th Anniversary of the Foundation of the University of Havana’ from the hands of Gustavo Cobreiro, the rector of this higher education center.

The commemorative plaque, presented during a solemn and public ceremony, aims at highlighting and thanking the diplomat’s work to strengthen academic, commercial and economic ties between Cuba and China.

According to Granma newspaper, Li Yuqin thanked her hosts for the award and reiterated her country’s willingness to further develop the friendship and cooperation ties between the peoples and governments from the two nations.

A result of these efforts is the creation of the Confucius Institute of Havana, where students learn the Chinese language, while over 1,000 Chinese youths have graduated from or are studying the Spanish language at the School for Non Spanish-Speaking Persons of Havana. (AIN)

 

International Congress "Complexity 2012" Inaugurated in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 10.- The International Biennial Congress "Complexity 2012" began on Tuesday at Havana’s Convention Center, attended by renowned Cuban and foreign scientists and professors.

Organized by the Cuban Society of Psychology and the University of Havana’s Department for the Study of Complexity, the 6th edition of this forum will favor debates on current challenges in this field of research.

Gloria Fariñas, member of the event’s Scientific Committee, told ACN that the objective of this theory called Complexity is to contribute criteria that are key to achieve an interrelated vision of the world and of its social, economic, political and natural processes.

“Complexity in Natural and Social Sciences: Morphogenesis, Ontogenesis and Intentionality” is the main theme of this meeting, the results of which, by way of exchanges, should have an impact on education, and on labor and community psychology among other spheres, she added.

There will be panels, debates and special lectures during the Congress, which will run until Friday, and posters, as the main participatory modality, will be presented.

This type of forum –held since 2002- usually brings together prominent international experts.

Participating in previous editions of the event have been physicist Fritjof Capra, mathematician John Casti, and ecologist, mathematician and philosopher Richard Levins (all of  them from the United States), in addition to French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin,  Canadian biologist and mathematician Brian Goodwin, and Mexican sociologist and critic Pablo  Gonzalez Casanova. (AIN)

 

Ecuador Confirms Attendance to Havana’s International Book Fair

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 10.- Ecuador reaffirmed its attendance to the 21st edition of Havana’s International Book Fair, to be held from February 9th through the 19th.

That country will have a prominent space in this fiesta of literature and books, where the richness of its letters will be shown by way of the participation of a delegation of writers and artists, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.

“Reading is growing” is the slogan of the 2012 edition of this annual event, which will also recall the bicentenary of the rebellion led by Jose Antonio Aponte against the Spanish colonial power on the island, and the centennial of the armed uprising of the members of the Independent Party of Color.

The Fair will be dedicated to Cuban authors Zoila Lapique, 2002 National Social Sciences Prize winner, and Ambrosio Fornet, who won the national prizes of Literature (2009) and Edition (2000).

The event will run until March 4 in various provinces, during which a tribute to the Caribbean peoples -a medley of different cultures sharing part of their history- will be paid. (AIN)

 

Buenos Aires-Santa Clara Flights Initiated This Week

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, Jan 9. The arrival of a second flight from Buenos Aires at the Abel Santamaria International  Airport of the central city of Santa Clara, marked the beginning of air operations between the two cities in the 2011-2012 winter season.

The planes that landed Sunday and Monday at the Abel Santamaria International Airport brought in close to 500 Argentineans, the first ones to travel this year from their country to the Cayo Santa Maria key, Jesus Diaz-Canel, director of Villa Clara’s Tourism Information Office, told ACN.

He added that straight flights from Buenos Aires which will go on until May ensure an increase by more than 6,000 incoming travelers in air terminal.

Diaz-Canel recognized that Canada continues to be the leading market for the young tourist area, followed by Italy, England and Argentina in the fourth place. He said guests to Cayo Santa Maria facilities have very positive reviews about the area and many of them usually return.

Cayo Santa Maria has six hotels with about 5,000 rooms altogether and the main attraction in the area is diving.

According to a Cuban Tourism Ministry’s report issued December 2011 upon the arrival in the island of 2.5 million tourists, there was a significant growth in the number travelers coming from Argentina and Russia in the recently concluded year.

Cayo Santa Maria will be the venue for the International Tourism Fair, Fitcuba 2012, to take place in May and Argentina will be the Guest of Honor Country to the event. (AIN)

 

Having to Deal with Abuse and Dangers in a US Federal Prison

January 10, 2012

They live with the realities that occur in a US federal prison, where the prisoners coexist with rapists, murderers and drug traffickers.   Within this tough reality, Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, live.

Although Rene Gonzalez is currently not in the same situation as his four brothers, he was also a victim of abuse for over 13 years.

This cruel situation had been denounced since 2003 by the late US attorney Leonard Weinglass who passed away in March of last year.

After visits to Gerardo in Victorville, California and Tony, who Weinglass represented, in Florence, Colorado, he publically revealed the additional sufferings of these men.

After his meeting with Gerardo on March 17th of 2011, Weinglass wrote: “He is under the most severe punishment in federal penitentiary known as the “SHU”, a hole within a hole.  He is in an extremely small cell where he can barely take three steps without windows and with a very tiny vent where the food is passed through.”

His clothes were taken away and can only wear underwear, a t-shirt and without shoes.

“His cell is the only one that is lit 24 hours a day and the screaming of other prisoners, mainly mental patients do not let him sleep.”

“He is not allowed printed documents and nothing to read.  There are signs in front of his cell warning that he cannot have any contact with any other person.  Gerardo is the only prisoner in confinement that is not allowed to use the telephone…, until this moment he has not received any correspondence, not even from his attorney(…)”.

Two days later on March 19th, Weinglass visited Tony and said the following:

“(…) Antonio welcomed me with shackles on his ankles and handcuffed”, and which were only withdrawn during his visit.  The halls were emptied during his transfer.  The visit room was in bad shape.  The room was very small with a thick glass between us, my associate and I barely fit into the room together.  There was a telephone we needed to share to communicate with Tony.  Antonio was closed in on his side and us on the other.  We were also imprisoned!  There was not even a crack in which to pass on the documents. We had to hand the documents to the guards that would take them to Tony on the other side.  I later decided just to show Tony the documents through the thick window, it was too uncomfortable.”

Theconditions of his visit were worse than Weinglass experienced with Mumia Abu Jamal.  “We protested but the guards refused to call on any prison authority.”

This sensitive environment continues.  A dangerous incident took place while Mirtha Rodriguez, Antonio’s mother visited him in prison.

Miguel Alvarez, advisor to the President of the Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcon and an expert on the case of the Cuban Five recalls:

“About two years ago on April 20th, when Mirtha was visiting her son, there was a shootout and Tony and other inmates were removed and she witnessed how wounded prisoners were being transferred.

He explained that a group of Nazi extremists, also prisoners were celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday and they shot African American and Latinos inmates when they refused to celebrate.

As a consequence, said Alvarez, some inmates were killed and some were severely wounded showing the level of violence in the federal penitentiary.

Another information which is not directly linked to the case but serves as a good evaluation of the risks of our comrades and the urgent need to release the five anti terrorist fighters.

In a recent communiqué released by the US Customs and Immigration Office, published in the official Granma daily indicate that among the Latin American countries, Cubans heads the list with the largest number of undocumented immigrates killed under ICE custody with 32 reported cases in the last 8 years.

A little of common sense and humanity is enough to understand that the lives of Gerardo, Fernando, Ramon and Tony are in danger. Meanwhile, Rene is subjected to even more threats once he was released from prison, living in the same place where individuals and organizations that oppose him are based and which are currently walking the streets of Miami with total impunity.  (Ana Ivis Galán García/AIN)

 

Cuba: Achievements and Challenges of the Cuban Revolution

Havana (Prensa Latina) Fifty-three years after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba is making efforts to update its economic model, a process designed to guarantee the continuity and strengthening of the socialist system adopted by the Caribbean island.

The victory of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st, 1959 removed the old philosophy promoting a good quality of life for only a small group with the economic and political power, and changed the status of the great masses of dispossessed people.

These transformations occur within a hostile scenario, since 7 out of every 10 Cubans were born under the effects of the US government’s economic, commercial and financial blockade against the island of Cuba, a unilateral measure that has deeply limited the development of the country.

Despite the US White House’s hostility, the Cuban government determined to overcome the poverty inherited from more than 400 years of colonialism.

One of the first measures that produced great social benefit was the Agrarian Reform Law, which banned large estates and nationalized properties of more than 402 hectares of land, delivering them to tens of thousands of farmers.

Such an action hardened Washington’s hostility, since US companies had important properties and interests in lands and in other sectors of the Caribbean island.

Other progressive actions followed, among them a literacy campaign that turned Cuba into the first territory in Latin America free of illiterate people, in a little more than a year.

Official data indicate that in 1959 there were only 25,000 graduates in Cuba. There were no schools for more than 500,000 children; 10,000 teachers were unemployed; high school learning was almost inexistent and 30 percent of Cubans did not know how to read and write.

On the other hand, when the 2011-2012 school year started on September 5, 2011, more than 60 universities opened their doors with a registration of nearly 500,000 students, according to Cuban website www.cubadebate.cu.

At this time, the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco) recognizes that 99.8 percent of Cubans over 15 years of age, know how to read and write.

The right to work, the right to public health, sports, became basic principles of Cuban society; for the first time, a government was concerned to eliminate the burdens inherited from the pseudo-republic, such as drug addiction, organized crime, prostitution and child abuse.

The Cuban National Assembly of Peopleâ’s Power (its national parliament) approved the investment in 2012 of 17 billion Cuban pesos (734.4 million dollars) in education, public health, culture and other social spheres, which is over 50 percent of the scheduled expenditure in the Cuban budget.

The infant mortality rate in Cuba is now under 5 percent for each 1,000 born alive and life expectancy is 78 years of age, so that because of the policies implemented since 1959 Cuba is well ahead in terms of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015.

"In Cuba, the MDGs have been practically all fulfilled, and in some cases, they have been excelled by far," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said to the UN high level plenary last year.

Rodriguez also stated that Cubaâ’s commitment goes beyond its borders, as it contributes to the social development of other nations of the so-called Third World, sending workers and well-trained specialists to such countries.

Cuba, with 11.2 million inhabitants, also attained cultural and sport successes that place this small Caribbean island at the level of developed countries.

Cuba got the 2nd place at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011, with 58 gold medals, and insists on universal access to sports and culture in the midst of important economic, political and social challenges.

Years of economic crisis in the 90’s, liquidity difficulties and debt with international suppliers, forced Cuba to adjust its own economic plans and improve the efficiency of its firms.

These initiatives were accompanied by measures such as the delivery of lands in usufruct and the expansion of self-employed workers, who now number some 360,000 people.

The growth of the Gross Domestic Product was 1.9 percent in 2010, and for 2011 an increase of 2.7 percent is estimated, but this is still under the projected increase of 3 percent.

This was caused fundamentally because of the failure in fulfilling the construction and assembling plan for investments.

At the end of 2011, Cubans received the good news that tourism, the engine of the local economy, registered a record number of visitors, surpassing the 2.53 million visitors recorded in 2010.

For 2012, parliament approved a projected increase of 3.4 percent of its GDP.

The struggle against corruption and inefficiency has become the central theme of the government of Cuban President Raul Castro.

Now, when many other nations suffer the consequences of the international financial crisis and the US hostility against Cuba continues, Cuba is ready to make efforts to move forward and preserve the benefits achieved in more than 50 years of socialism. (PL)

 

Economic Debates in Work Centers

January 10, 2012

The New Year will begin with profound reflection and intense work for the Cuban people with barely time to rest, as said by Cuban President Raul Castro in his recent speech before the National Assembly (Parliament).

The challenge has been placed on the table: to close the year with a 3.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, which was fundamental to comply with the plans of a more efficient production and services, the rational use of the resources, replace imports, increase exports and hike productivity in a sustainable manner.

With such challenges, the Cuban Parliament approved last December the Law for the State Budget and Economic Plan for 2012, drafted in correspondence with the Guidelines of the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party on April of 2011.

The correct execution of both will depend mostly in that each citizen and group analyze the importance of an adequate planning and rationalization of the limited resources on the island.

That is why all work centers in the country will begin analyzing their economic plans during the months of January and February where the workers will carry out a profound and objective discussion of the most important issues in their entity.

Salvador Valdes Mesa, General Secretary of the Cuban Workers Confederation, CTC, stressed that the plan and budget assigned to each entity are sacred and must be complied with positive results.

In recent statements to the press, Mesa pointed out that these meetings will allow major clarity among the workers regarding the level of productivity that they must achieve and how to obtain them.

Difficult issues will be analyzed like contracts, accumulation of inventories of each firm and the unpaid invoices, deficiencies that create the conditions for illegalities and corruption.

Among the other important issues to be discussed without a doubt, will be wages that awakes everyone’s attention and above all before the need to accelerate system of payments according to the outcome of production.

With these debates, said the General Secretary of the CTC, we want to promote the participation of the workers, listen to proposals and above all, commit them to improving the national economy.

As highlighted by Cuban President Raul Castro during the closing of the recent session of the National Assembly of the People’s Power it is necessary to make the agreements approved during the Congress a reality, slowly but surely, with the integrity and gradual requirements, without any rush or improvising.   (Venus Carrillo Ortega/AIN)

 

Nuclear Weapons: As Dangerous as Ever

January 10, 2012

The dangers of nuclear weapons is once again roaming the world and humanity, issue that the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro warned about was once again in a recent Reflection, that must be a priority for international politics.

The magnitude of the danger is brutal. In fact the nations that have nuclear weapons have no less than 23 000 warheads of which almost half are active and ready for immediate use.

On the other hand hungry powers like the United States and its extreme right wing allies that serve as Washington´s instruments, like Israel, have said that they will use their nuclear weapons in order to protect their own interests.

Many responsible leaders and social movements have placed the issue of universal disarmament on the negotiating table and the main global institutions.

The truth is that the amount of nuclear arsenals worldwide is so powerful that there will be no trace left of anyone or anything in the world.

These criminal ideas and actions to increase nuclear weapons continue to push humanity into a destructive path.

We cannot forget that the first nuclear power in history, and the only one that has used those destructive means against defenseless cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, is attempting to make the first nuclear blow against its alleged opponents without the possibility of a counterattack.

That is the objective of the so called US anti missile defense system that is insistently being placed in European nations bordering Russia.

Such a threat has a logical response from those that are being threatened and have the necessary means of modernizing and upgrading its defense system meaning that we are now looking at a renewed arms race.

The arms race has never been removed from the minds of those in Washington despite the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the socialist community in Eastern Europe.

In Cuba´s case, its policy against the non proliferation of nuclear weapons has been constant.   Cuba, who was caught in the center of the Missile Crisis in 1962, knows very well what is at stake.

Cuba´s voice for a safer world has been heard in multiple international events.  The island was elected President of the UN Conference against Disarmament last year barely a few weeks after having presented before the world body a motion to prohibit nuclear weapons in no less than 25 years.

The request was accompanied to the idea of creating with no less than half the world´s military spending, a UN fund for the assistance of economic and social development for the most needed countries.

After taking on the presidency of the UN Conference for Disarmament, Cuba pointed out: the existence of nuclear weapons and the doctrines that attempt to justify its existence with the excuse of “national security”, constitutes a serious threat for peace while also looting important resources destined for urgent humanitarian needs like the fight against hunger and diseases among other current catastrophes in the complicated world of our time.  (Néstor Núñez)