Tag Archives: Cuba

President Raúl Castro on the country’s current economic situation

Deputies discuss performance
of Cuba’s economy

LIVIA RODRÍGUEZ DELIS
President Raúl Castro closed the National Assembly of People’s Power third period of ordinary sessions with a speech offering a snapshot of the country’s current economic situation, and addressing the international situation, in addition to its impact on Cuba.

Unknown-1

 

Over the course of four days, Cuban deputies meeting in Havana’s Convention Center, heard reports on progress in the implementation of Policy Guidelines approved at the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, and the country’s Economic Plan for the first half 2014.

Continue reading

El Che en Pakistán: entre lo real y el imaginario

CubaDebate

Sus botas aún guardaban el lodo de la Sierra Maestra cuando anduvo por estas tierras. Eso lo sabía. Sin embargo, nunca pensé que su nombre despertara tantas pasiones en el lejano Pakistán. Mucho menos creí encontrar a alguien que murmurara en un inglés que es casi urdú: “Él es de aquí” y que luego confesara desconocer dónde nació o cuándo llegó a la zona el joven que es su inspiración.

En Pakistán cohabitan dos CHE: uno que persiguen historiadores y periodistas, pues llegó aquí a solo siete meses del Triunfo de la Revolución Cubana y se marchó sin apenas dejar huellas, aparentemente; y otro, que no pocos suelen idealizar como un héroe nacional que naciera al sudoeste del país.

Esta es la única imagen que se conserva de la visita de Ernesto Guevara a Karachi en 1959, publicada por primera vez en el libro Pakistán Chronicle, en abril de 2010. En el centro, el General Ayub Khan y en el extremo derecho, Mr. Manzur Qadir, Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores. Foto: Archivo de Cubadebate
Esta es la única imagen que se conserva de la visita de Ernesto Guevara a Karachi en 1959, publicada por primera vez en el libro Pakistán Chronicle, en abril de 2010. En el centro, el General Ayub Khan y en el extremo derecho, Mr. Manzur Qadir, Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores. Foto: Archivo de Cubadebate

UN JOVEN GUAPO Y CASI DESCONOCIDO….
El Comandante en Jefe fue a despedirlo al Aeropuerto de Rancho Boyeros. El 12 de junio de 1959, diez días después de su boda con Aleida March, Ernesto Che Guevara partió de Cuba, al frente de una delegación oficial del gobierno revolucionario.

El viaje, que el mismo Che denominó “de buena voluntad”, tenía como fin el establecimiento de relaciones comerciales, políticas, culturales, técnicas… con varios países de África, Asia y Europa.

El 8 de agosto de 1959 “con los ojos pegados” como él mismo reconociera, debido a largas jornadas de trabajo y al desgaste físico del recorrido, llegó a Karachi, la entonces capital de Pakistán, “un joven guapo y casi desconocido, con uniforme de combate y botas del ejército, como si acabara de salir de la selva”, describió la prensa de la época.

La estancia fue breve. Durante aquellas horas de intenso verano, se reunió con los secretarios de Estado y de Comercio y Alimentación y con el jefe de Gobierno, General Mahomed Ayub Khan. Recorrió además varias industrias e institutos científicos.
Muy pocos testimonios de aquellos días sobrevivieron al paso del tiempo. El doctor M. Altaf Hussain escribió sobre su encuentro con el revolucionario de apenas 31 años: “Mi supervisor inmediato en ese momento era el Sr. M. Afzal, Comisionado de Agricultura, me pidió que guiara al Sr. Che en una visita por las granjas vecinas. Lo llevé a Malir, donde había una granja experimental que era dirigida por el Ministerio de Agricultura con la ayuda de Mian Shafi, un comerciante y en ese momento también Vicepresidente Honorario del Comité del Algodón de Pakistán, del cual yo fui Secretario.

“También me dijeron que a la hora del té, en la tarde, lo llevara a la residencia privada de la Comisaria de Agricultura para el té. Yo lo hice. Pasamos unos 40 minutos tomando el té y luego lo llevé al aeropuerto de Karachi para la salida”.

En febrero de 1965, Ernesto Guevara regresó a Pakistán. Iba rumbo a Beijing para mediar en las contradicciones sino-soviéticas e hizo una escala técnica en la capital pakistaní. De aquella visita no quedó ningún testimonio gráfico, solo un comentario que José Armando Guerra Menchero, Cónsul General de Cuba en Karachi en ese momento, le hiciera a miembros del Partido Nacional Awami (NAP): “Camaradas, me alegra decir que el Che Guevara estuvo en Karachi ayer. Se sentó en el sofá que ahora están sentados ustedes. Visitó brevemente la playa de Clifton y disfrutó de un paseo en camello. Ayer por la noche se fue a China”.

Esta es la historial real de la presencia del Ernesto Che Guevara en Pakistán hace más de medio siglo. Sin embargo, algunos pakistaníes nunca lo han dejado ir, hay un Che que perdura en las luchas y crónicas cotidianas de un pueblo que se aferra tanto a los héroes como a la fe.

Estudiantes de Balochistán pintaron al Che en un trozo de muro.. Foto: Dianet Doimeadiós/Cubadebate
Estudiantes de Balochistán pintaron al Che en un trozo de muro.. Foto: Dianet Doimeadiós/Cubadebate

¿CHE DE BALOCHISTÁN?
Al llegar a estas tierras de Asia sur jámas imaginé que los baluchis tuvieran un CHE y que “increíblemente” su guerrillero mostrara la misma imagen que el mío.

La provincia más extensa y menos poblada del país es Balochistán. Una región bastante distante geográficamente de Latinoamérica, pero donde las historias de Ernesto Guevara también forman parte del imaginario popular.

En tierra del pueblo baloch, a veces su rostro grita desde un muro, engalana una boina, anda en pechos de jóvenes que se jactan de estar a la moda o aparece entre las pinturas y adornos típicos de un camión de carga que recorre todo el país.
El Dr. Che, como suelen llamarlo, en ocasiones luce una fisonomía muy distinta, una expresión de furia que agrede e impresiona. Creo que hay quienes sacrifican la Historia en nombre de causas o las causas en nombre de la Historia.

He leído en las memorias y blogs de veteranos baluchis la expresión “en mis días como Che Guevara…” para referirse a una época de guerrilla o instantes donde parafrasearon las ideas del Argentino como acto de plena rebeldía. Otros transgreden circunstancias: “El Che Guevara de la lucha por la libertad Baloch puede estar muerto, pero hay miles de Che Guevara para mantener la lucha”.

Es impresionante cómo especulan sobre si el Che es de por esos lares: “El secreto finalmente ha sido descubierto: Che Guevara fue Baloch (The secret is finally out: Che Guevara was Baloch)”.

La imagen del Che Baloch recorre el país en la parte trasera de un camión de carga.
La imagen del Che Baloch recorre el país en la parte trasera de un camión de carga.
Los diseñadores pakistaníes emplean la imagen del Che en sus colecciones para atraer a los jóvenes.
Los diseñadores pakistaníes emplean la imagen del Che en sus colecciones para atraer a los jóvenes.

Entre lo real y lo ficticio, más allá de la razón o las causas, nadie dude que el Che Guevara anda por el sudoeste de Pakistán, despertando sueños en unos, siendo traicionado por otros, pero con una imagen de gigante que traspasa fronteras y realidades.

UNASUR funded hospital opens

GRANMA INTERNATIONAL
Havana. June 13, 2013

UNASUR funded hospital opens – Cooperation with respect for sovereignty

unasur-1
Leandro Maceo Leyva, Special correspondent

PORT-AU-PRINCE.—The Community Reference Hospital in Corail, Grand’ Anse department has reopened after reconstruction and expansion works funded by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), with Cuban, Venezuelan and Argentine cooperation.

In this context, during a video-conference with his Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernández, Haitian President Michel Martelly expressed his thanks for the support given to his people and government, while advocating continued cooperation.

Martelly said that he received with pleasure the keys to this hospital, which will provide health services for a population of 150,000-plus, already receiving medical attention from Cuban doctors.

He highlighted Cuba’s contributions in Haiti which, as he stated, extend to many levels. “We have identified Cuba as a country that wishes to share everything it has with Haiti.”

The Haitian leader also made reference to Néstor Kirchner, the deceased former Argentine President and architect of UNASUR’s presence in Haiti, describing him as “a great leader for peace and integration in the region.”

In this context, Cristina Fernández expressed her thanks, “as a person, a woman and a president,” for naming the hospital – which she defined as UNASUR’s first physical work – after Néstor Kirchner.

“Let us hope that the four countries in development which have come together to rebuild this hospital will mobilize a little more the developed countries, which have a lot to do with Haitian realities,” President Fernández noted.

Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou, who was with the Haitian President, emphasized, “The construction of the hospital is the result of South-South cooperation without intermediaries or consultants… and is a joint work among sister peoples to solve concrete issues.”

Cuban Deputy Health Minister Marcia Cobas reiterated the will of the Cuban government and people to continue supporting Haiti.

IT is a truth that great undertakings can emerge from major disasters. The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with its terrible consequences, led to the installation of a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) headquarters there and its presence and work has been constant ever since. Its aid has resulted in a joint hospital project within the regional bloc, linked to Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti itself.

In this context, to have some understanding of the dimensions of this shared effort, as well of the realities of Latin American countries, Granma interviewed Argentine lawyer Rodolfo Mattarollo, UNASUR representative in Haiti, who believes in “a more auspicious future for the country.”

What is the reason for UNASUR’s presence in Haiti?

The starting point is that UNASUR is a new kind of regional integration organization, established on a footing of total equality among its members. Homogenous as far as it is of Our America, where fraternity reigns and there is a climate of joy, unfortunately overshadowed by the death, first of Argentine President Néstor Kirchner – its first secretary general – and second, of Comandante Hugo Chávez, leader of the Bolivarian Revolution and the great inspirer of coordination among all the Latin American countries. But their spirit is still alive and we are trying to follow their example. On the other hand, there are UNASUR’s political, economic and social objectives, in which the struggle against existing differences among us is one of the distinctive aspects, and the one which brought us to Haiti.

Where are these actions directed?

There was a kind of combination of urgency – in other words, the need to respond to the great tragedy of the earthquake, and at the same time, to have a base in Haiti. Having a regular presence called for longer-term tasks because, to a certain extent, Haiti’s problems existed before the earthquake. There was a program for the reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure and housing, as well as important activities in the health sector, which had two directions. We worked on cholera prevention, given the epidemic which followed the quake, compounded by cyclones and, on the other hand, with Cuba and Venezuela, we jointly undertook the reconstruction and expansion of Corail Community Reference Hospital, in Grand’ Anse department. This was an action agreed with the Haitian government and the Ministry of Public Health and Population. One also has to bear in mind the food security programs, directed at promoting production unrelated to market labels, but an agriculture which attempts to ensure the subsistence of the population in situations of extreme poverty and, in this context, seek improved technological aspects, such as seeds, even more needed in a country like Haiti.

Why Corail?

Corail is a place of difficult access, where there is just one hospital for a population calculated at 150,000-200,000 people. With Cuban and Venezuelan cooperation, UNASUR financed, to a total of more than $800,000, the reconstruction and expansion of the facility, a modern building. It seemed right to give a symbolic dimension to this creation, so we decided to name it after Néstor Kirchner, an initiative approved by the Haitian government.

What value do you concede to collaboration with Cuba?

It has been very important to collaborate with a country in Our America like Cuba, with such a fundamental evolution in the 20th century and in the present one, opening the way to human and social development, a country which has so exceptionally enriched the continent’s political panorama. Cuba brought this star of socialism to Latin America and profoundly changed the dominion of oligarchies with a new concept of revolutionary thinking, which had become paralyzed. A Lula in Brazil, a Kirchner in Argentina, an Evo Morales in Bolivia, or a Chávez in Venezuela would not have been possible without Cuba. Fidel is one of the great figures of the 20th century, who has made possible an extraordinary advance of authentic democracy on the continent, which is absolutely not reduced to electoral events, but is a democracy with social justice, which fights inequalities, with a participative nature and one which integrates social sectors. It is fundamental to the UNASUR project.

In Haiti, when we made the decision to navigate within this shared enterprise which was the reconstruction of Corail Hospital – to be followed by other similar projects in the next few months – we believe that we based ourselves on the healthiest form of international cooperation with this country. A collaboration respectful of Haitian sovereignty, in an absolutely positive terrain like public health and directed at the most dispossessed sectors of the population. When we see the way in which Cuban doctors conduct themselves, their dedication and the care with which they treat the Haitian people, one blindly understands that one is witnessing an attempt to improve human beings.

How do you see the current Latin America panorama?

The panorama is one of great challenges, given that the oligarchies are not prepared to lose their privileges. For example, there has been an attempt to destabilize the government of Evo Morales. This reaction on the part of the oligarchies and privileged sectors is going to accentuate as members countries of UNASUR and ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) advance. It could even take the form of criminal acts, so one has to be very attentive. The class struggle has not disappeared, it continues to be something which could present itself in new forms, but which persists.

And the Haitian panorama?

Haiti is changing. There are sectors visible today which were previously unforeseen, although we cannot forget the structural problems and their tremendous seriousness. The Haitian press is now a place for debating ideas, a project of society.

Given this reality, what place is occupied by this joint cooperation, of which UNASUR is part?

The people are benefiting from this enterprise. South-South cooperation has innovative and original characteristics. It is a contribution which does not seek to replace the state which it is trying to help, but strengthen its independence. It is a contribution which tends to foster the creation of sovereignty, not to replace it, but to create or fortify it. We wouldn’t do anything without consulting authorities, without responding to demands beyond any doubt from the civil society and its organizations. There is an entire history of foreign interventionism, of tutelary powers, from which the Latin American component of UNASUR is very much distant.

Cuban Federation of Women

DON’T FORGET THIS WEEK…

FMC_flyer_01

FMC_logo

On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, you will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and open dialogue with Maritzel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC), North America Region, and others from the delegation of Cuban women participating in this year’s event at the United Nations for Women’s History Month.

During the Question & Answer part of our program, you will also be able to raise your interests and concerns about the current economic, social, and political situation in Cuba. Literature will be available on Cuba and the Cuban 5.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
WHERE: Casa de las américas
182 E. 111th St. (btwn. Lexington Ave. and 3rd Ave.)
Take the 6 train to E. 110th St.
RECEPTION: 6:00 PM – Program Begins 7:00 PM

Suggested donation: $5-10 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds)
FMC_flyer_02

Sponsored By:Casa de las Americas and the July 26th Coalition, an ongoing initiative by the orgnizations and individuals in solidarity with the People of Cuba, in the NYC/Tri-State Area.

Rethinking the Cuba perk

Legal Travel To Cuba

February 16, 2013

Cuban immigrant Ed Lacosta holds his baby Melody Grace, 6 months at a special Valentine's Day naturalization ceremony for married couples on February 14, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) held the Valentine's Day ceremony in Tampa for 28 married couples from 15 different countries. (John Moore/Getty Images / February 15, 2013)
Cuban immigrant Ed Lacosta holds his baby Melody Grace, 6 months at a special Valentine’s Day naturalization ceremony for married couples on February 14, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) held the Valentine’s Day ceremony in Tampa for 28 married couples from 15 different countries. (John Moore/Getty Images / February 15, 2013)

For Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, the hardest part is getting here.

Since 1966, they’ve essentially been granted automatic refugee status upon arrival. The Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted then to address the legal status of 300,000 Cubans who’d fled Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution.

Almost half a century later, the Cubans who come to America rarely claim to be victims of political persecution. They want a better economic future, or to join family members already here, or both — just like most of the people who want to immigrate from anywhere else.

Unlike most immigrants, though, Cubans don’t have to wait years for a visa, or sneak across the border illegally. Once they’re here, they’re fast-tracked to legal residency, with a clear path to citizenship.

It’s a sore subject as Congress considers what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants to whom the system has not been so generous.

Those immigrants — more than half of them from Mexico — live and work under the government’s radar, often for low wages, constantly in fear of being deported.

To come here legally, most Mexican laborers would have to wait decades for a visa. But Cubans who present themselves at our southern border — a common point of entry, thanks to the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy — are allowed in once they show an ID.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify it to my colleagues,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio is one of eight senators working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to avoid, as part of any comprehensive approach to immigration, a conversation about the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said.

The special considerations are especially hard to defend now that Cubans can travel freely between the U.S. and their homeland, thanks to loosened restrictions at both ends.

In 2009, President Barack Obama lifted most of the limits that kept Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island to visit family. Last year, more than 400,000 of them did so, some dozens of times.

In January, the Cuban government began allowing citizens to leave without an exit permit. Passports are now granted more liberally, and those who leave can stay away up to two years without losing their residency. Most Cubans are able to come and go at will.

Together, the changes are likely to invite a new influx of Cubans to the U.S., where they are eligible for legal residency, while encouraging them to return frequently to visit family — and spend money — in Cuba.

We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and forth to Cuba. Congress ought to kill the travel ban entirely, so that all Americans can visit the island. Tourists from other countries have been flocking to “terrorist” Cuba for years.

Mixing it up with the outside world is an important exercise for Cubans as they ponder a future without the aging Castro brothers.

But it’s hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of political repression. One does not flee communism only to return repeatedly with a suitcase full of money and merchandise for the family.

Nor does it make sense to allow entry to the U.S. based not on a claim of persecution, but on whether the person dodged the Coast Guard boats long enough to tag American soil.

To be fair, those immigrants aren’t lying about their circumstances. They’re not required to demonstrate that they’re political refugees. They come because they can. But it isn’t fair. Cubans who want to come here for economic reasons should play by the same rules as economic immigrants from other countries.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Case of Alan Gross

(Originally posted by Cuba Central)

Dear Friends,

We report on a flurry of activity concerning the case of Alan Gross, just days before the third anniversary of his arrest in Cuba, an event marked at a press conference in Washington this morning by his wife Judy Gross, understandably disconsolate, with his lawyer, Jared Genser, by her side.

Together, they said the Obama administration had failed to pursue vigorous diplomacy sufficient to secure his release.  He feels “dumped and forgotten” by the U.S. government, Mrs. Gross said, like a soldier left to die.  The lawyer’s message to the U.S. government was also direct:  “You sent him there; you have an obligation to get him out.”

In fact, they laid blame at the feet of both governments for being obstacles to the settlement of his case.  They said the Cuban government, which publicly calls for direct negotiations to address his case and the captivity of the Cuban Five, was either unable or unwilling to talk.

But they also made a special point of noting that the Obama administration had actively sought and won the release of Americans imprisoned abroad, and said the administration should pick an envoy close to President Obama, with full White House support, to go to Cuba and negotiate Alan Gross’s release.

Significantly, they called his captivity an obstacle to improvements in U.S.-Cuba relations, and urged both parties to work for his release.  In saying so, they parted company with the most ardent embargo supporters, who warn the Obama administration not to negotiate for his release.

As Senator Bob Menendez said this week in an interview with the New York Times “I’m not into negotiating for someone who is clearly a hostage of the Cuban regime.” Judy Gross correctly diagnosed the hardliner’s position as a surefire recipe for continuing his captivity for years.  “He is a pawn of these very radical right-wing Cuba haters, for lack of a better word, who don’t want to see any changes happen, even to get Alan home.”

Mrs. Gross pled for her husband’s release on humanitarian grounds, and demanded access by doctors for an independent examination of a mass on his shoulder that the family believes could be cancerous.  For its part, the Cuban government released this week the results of a biopsy conducted October 24th, and an examination by a physician who is also ordained as a Rabbi, who concluded that the growth is not cancerous.

Two weeks ago, attorneys for the Gross family filed a law suit against the U.S. government and his employer, the USAID contractor DAI, seeking $60 million in damages.  In the complaint available here, they concede that his activities were “to promote (a) successful democratic transition” in Cuba and that when he was at risk of detection by Cuban authorities, USAID failed to comply with provisions of the “Counterintelligence Manual” to save him before his arrest.

Mr. Gross knew of the dangers associated with his activities in Cuba, writing in one of the trip reports filed with his employer under the USAID contract, “In no uncertain terms, this is very risky business.”

In light of these facts, it is hard to understand why his legal representatives still argue that all he was doing in Cuba was trying to improve Internet access for the Jewish community.  This benign explanation was long ago overtaken by the facts.

Even so, it is a position that remains front and center in the U.S. State Department’s talking points.  Victoria Nuland, the department’s Spokesperson, responded to a reporter who asked about the Gross case, by saying:

But again, just to remind that this is a guy who’s been incarcerated for no reason for three years and ought to come home. Alan Gross was given a 15-year prison term simply for the supposed crime of helping the Jewish community of Cuba communicate with the outside world.

Old tropes die hard, especially when the U.S. government decides we can’t handle the truth.  This failure to concede why Mr. Gross was arrested and convicted not only contributes to the lack of movement in his case, but is especially alarming now that we know the Obama administration is doubling down on the program that led to his arrest.

As Tracey Eaton reports in Along the Malecón, the U.S. government “The U.S. government has hired a former CIA agent,” named Daniel Gabriel, “to create and manage a team of at least 10 journalists in Cuba.”  Gabriel’s Linked In profile concludes with this heartfelt endorsement:

“Dan is one of those dream clients you get once in a blue moon: totally risk tolerant, possessed of a voracious appetite for learning, and the drive to turn pontification into action.”

We could not think of a clearer case for why these programs need to end.

Save the date; U.S. tour of VICENTE FELIU

Download English version Leaflet both in Color or in Black/White

Enjoy an Evening of Music with a Leading Voice of the Nueva Trova Movement from Cuba, VICENTE FELIU, in Concert with Latin Grammy Award Winner ALEJANDRO VALDEZ


Saturday, September 15th

Special Cultural Presentation by
VIicente & Alejandro in CONCERT


Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center
310 West 43 Street, Manhattan
(Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
Reception: 7:00 p.m.
Light Refreshments
Time: 8:00 p.m.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González, the Cuban 5, were arrested by the F.B.I. on “conspiracy” and other trumped-up charges. The real reason for their imprisonment was that they infiltrated and gathered information on right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba by these groups. The Cuban 5 have been imprisoned for more than 13 years – for defending the sovereignty of their homeland.

Suggested Donation $10.00 (No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds)

Organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in collaboration with World Organization for Right of the People to Health Care, Inc., IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Casa de las Americas, July 26 Coalition and the National Network on Cuba.