News on Cuba - January 9, 2013 Print

Cubans Ready for February 3rd General Elections

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 9 (ACN) On February 3rd, over eight million Cubans will elect 612 parliament deputies and 1,269 delegates to provincial governments for a five-year term and by means of free, secret and direct vote.

Once the deputies are elected, they will have a 45-day period of time to meet at a place and time to be decided by the Cuban Council of State in order to set up the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament), according to Granma daily newspaper.

The deputies will also elect the president, vice-president and secretary of the parliament and 31 members of the Cuban Council of State, which is made up of one president, a first vice-president, five vice-presidents, a secretary and another 23 members.  Meanwhile, the delegates to the provincial assemblies will gather during the 15 days following their election to set up the 15 provincial assemblies and elect the president and vice-president off each territorial government.

In order to give the people information on the candidates before the vote takes place, their photos and biographical profiles are being published in public areas and on provincial newspapers. Other actions in this regards included meetings between delegates and workers, students, farmers, neighbors and people in general.

On February 3, Cuban voters will cast two ballots, one with the vote for the candidates to parliament deputies and another one for the candidates to provincial delegates.


Visiting U.S. University Students Know More in Cuba about The Five

HAVANA, Cuba.- (acn) Relatives of the five Cuban heroes that are captive in the U.S. for fighting terrorism spoke on Monday at Havana’s Friendship Center with university students from that northern nation interested in getting further information about the case.

Students and professors from the Diablo Valley College (DVC) of the state of California, listened to the details offered with respect to the legal process by Magali Llort and Elizabeth Palmeiro, mother and wife of Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Labañino, respectively, two of these five patriots unfairly condemned.

The visitors knew that Ramon, Fernando, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez were arrested in 1998 in Miami and condemned in 2001 in that city to sentences ranging from 15 years to two life imprisonments plus 15 years for warning about the plans of anti-Cuban terrorist groups based in U.S. territory.

Elizabeth Palmeiro requested participants in the meeting to join the campaign in favor of the return of The Five to the island, and urged President Barack Obama to review the case in his capacity as a lawyer, which will allow him to see the arbitrary acts committed in the process.

Palmeiro and Magali Llort looked back at the biased trial these patriots were subjected to, and insisted on the importance of world solidarity, and particularly that of the U.S. people, most of which are unaware about the case, due to the wall silence imposed by the mainstream media.

Sharon Bartlett, pedagogue with the Campolindo High School (California), told ACN that she wants to inform her center about the case, debate it in her Spanish classes, and hold exchanges with professors from the school.

It’s possible that students don’t have similar ideas, but debates will be very interesting, which will contribute to spread the truth around The Five, she asserted.

Bartlett explained that given the U.S. government’s obstacles for its citizens to travel to the island (due to the blockade imposed on it), this delegation had to request a special license for educational exchange reasons.

Professor Lenore Gallin, heading the U.S. delegation, expressed her willingness to bring to her university the truth about Gerardo, Ramon, Fernando, Antonio and Rene.


Sculpture of Jose Marti to be Set up in Berlin

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) A life-size sculpture of Cuba’s National Hero Jose Marti will be shipped to the German capital Berlin on the 160th anniversary of the birth of the apostle of Cuban Independence.

Made of fiberglass and polyester resin, the 1.65 meter-high piece was made by artist Felix Madrigal, upon the request of the La Estrella de Cuba German Solidarity Organization.

In statements to Cuban television, the sculptor said that the statue will be set up near the Cuban embassy in Germany, RHC reported on Monday.

This is the second statue of the Cuban National Hero made by Madrigal, an artist from the central province of Sancti Spiritus. His first work was a bust for the Mexican city of Lagos de Moreno.

Many activities are taking place in Cuba to mark the 160th anniversary of Jose Marti’s birth, including the 3rd International Forum for the World Balance, to take place January 28-30.


The Southern Cross Brigade Visits Granma Province

BAYAMO, Cuba (acn) The solidarity uniting Cuba with the peoples of Australia and New Zealand was evidenced once again on Monday, during the reception given to the 30th contingent of the Southern Cross Brigade in this city, capital of Granma province.

Composed of 29 persons, the group visits the island with the purpose of demanding justice for the five Cuban heroes condemned in the U.S. for fighting terrorism and the lifting of the blockade imposed on the Caribbean island by Washington for over half a century now.

During the welcoming ceremony, Noemi Rabazas, delegate in Granma of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, highlighted that solidarity is essential in the struggle for just causes in the world.

In statements to the press, Rigoberto Zarza, director of the Brigade, specified that the group was created in 1983, and that he chose Granma to celebrate his 30th birthday due to the history of this territory, where hero Carlos Manuel de Cespedes was born and the piece that became the National Anthem was created.


Haiti Reiterates Gratitude to Cuba for Support

HAVANA, Cuba, (acn) Jean Victor Geneus, ambassador of the Republic of Haiti to Cuba, expressed on Monday in this capital his gratitude towards the governments and peoples supporting his country, particularly Cuba.

Geneus highlighted that, over two centuries after its independence, his people has had the generous help of the island, the first one to come to the aid of Haitians after the occurrence of severe natural phenomena.

The diplomat made his statement after placing wreaths in Havana by the monument to Francois Dominique Toussaint-Louverture, one of the major figures of the Haitian Revolution, and to Alexandre Petion, first President of the republic in 1807, who were honored by Geneus after his tribute to National Hero Jose Marti at the Central Park.

During the ceremony, attended by members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the island, Geneus recalled that January 12 will mark two years of the earthquake that left his country in ruins, a nation currently immersed in a recovery process with international aid, in which Cuba plays an outstanding role.


New Migration Policy Gets in Force on January 14

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) Cuban Immigration authorities said that appropriate conditions have already been created in the country for the implementation of new legal regulations aimed at updating the island’s migration policy, to get in force January 14.

Such conditions guarantee the successful implementation of new measures, which will have a positive impact on the population by easing migratory procedures, said the authorities, cited by PL news agency.

According to the new regulations, passport applications can be made at local I.D. registration, or immigration offices throughout the country. Some 195 of those offices exist on the island, according to the national media. Although there’s been an increase in the number of passport applications, the service has developed appropriately.

The new measures announced on October 16, also eliminate the permit to travel abroad and the formerly required letter of invitation for this aim.

The migration update also extends the permit for Cuban citizens to stay out of the country from 11 to 24 months without losing their residence condition and allows the departure of youths under 18 years, prior authorization by their parents or legal representatives.

As to the Cubans living abroad, the regulations allow their visit to the island for a period of 90 days, 60 days more than what was previously established. Meanwhile, repatriation is another aspect considered for those who left Cuba for humanitarian reasons.


Record Number of Russian Tourists to Cuba

For the fourth year in a row, Cuba has seen an increasing number of Russian tourists as a result of the island’s safety, hospitality, natural, historic and cultural values, plus a good promotion of the image of this Caribbean destination.

Prensa Latina news agency reported from Moscow that the director of the Cuban Tourism Ministry Office in Russia, Estefania Escobar, said that a record figure of 86 thousand 940 Russian tourists was the result of promotion actions that go beyond the Genuine Cuba Tourist Promotion Campaign.

Important enough was the support by the Cuban embassy officials who lecturedat universities and other education centers, as well as in meetings with activists, entrepreneurs and other people, where they stressed the Cuba image.

These actions also achieved a strategic alliance including Cubana de Aviacion airlines and Havanatur tour operator and the tourism office in Russia to have an impact on Eastern Europe.

Escobar stressed the contribution by Habanos Cigars S.A. in the promotion strategy with actions in the cigar shops in Russia, including the launching of a book on the five centuries and 20 years since tobacco leaf was first taken to Europe, written by authors with Russia’s Cigar Times magazine.

Referring to the challenges for Cuban tourism in Russia this year, Escobar said that the prestige of the Cuban market made it possible for the island’s participation as special guest at the MITT 2013 Tourist Fair.

The director of Cuban Tourist Office in Russia stressed the need to strengthen current relations to keep the tourist sector growing.


Cuban Government Vice-president Arrives in Venezuela

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 9 (ACN) The vice-president of the Cuban Council of Ministers Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived in Caracas on Wednesday to represent his country at activities to take place January 10 in support of the Venezuelan government and people.

The Cuban delegation was welcomed by foreign affairs officials at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in the state of Vargas.

Other Latin American and Caribbean authorities and heads of state will be arriving today in Venezuela to participate in a massive demonstration called  Thursday at the Miraflores government palace to express support of President Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan Parliament approved on Tuesday the postponement of Hugo Chavez swearing in ceremony, an action that will take place after January 10 before the Supreme Court of Justice, as established by the Venezuelan Constitution.


Canadians to Ready to Intensify Struggle for the Release of The Five

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 9 (acn) Social groups in Canada reaffirmed their willingness to redouble actions in 2013 for the immediate and unconditional release of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unfairly incarcerated in the U.S. since 1998 for trying to prevent terrorist acts against the island, organized in Florida.

The coordinator of the Vancouver Committee for the Freedom of The Five, Noah Fine, said that on the fifth day of every month, his organization will prepare protests to demand the return home of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez.

Similarly, Thomas Davies, from the Solidarity with Cuba group in Vancouver, highlighted that support for the case of these heroes has increased around the world with new initiatives to spread the truth about the Cuban Five, as they’re known internationally.

Both Fine and Davies made their statements during a demonstration carried out in front of the Vancouver fine arts gallery, as part of the global campaign for the release of The  Five.

Participants also demanded the return of Rene (now under a three-year supervised release) to Cuba, and the granting of visas to his wife Olga Salanueva, and to Gerardo´s wife, Adriana Perez, so they can visit them in prison. Likewise, they joined a twitter campaign on Saturday, during which journalists and political and social organizations from Brazil, Argentina, France, the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia and Cuba, among other countries, also posted messages in support of The Cuban Five.


U.S. Professionals Visit Eastern Camaguey Province

CAMAGUEY, Cuba, Jan 9 (acn) A group composed of 28 professors, retired pedagogues and university students, along with physicians, writers and social workers, all of them from the United States, visited places of historic and social interest in this city on Tuesday.

They are part of the non-governmental organization Global Exchange, based in San Francisco, California, which promotes human rights and social, economic and environmental justice around the world.

As part of their tour of this city, they visited the Ignacio Agramonte, Carlos Juan Finlay and Nicolas Guillen museums and spoke with professors and students of the Vicentina de la Torre Academy of the Arts.

Catherine Suarez, a professor of the university of Las Positas College who is visiting Cuba for the eight time, told the press that her main interest in each trip is to communicate with people and know their realities.

The perspective I had of this Caribbean nation before coming here was negative, that is why I decided to see for myself if it was true, and from then on I can tell you that I love to share Cuba with Cubans, where I feel confortable, and if I get lost on its streets I’m not afraid, asserted Suarez.

When asked about the case of the five Cuban antiterrorists imprisoned in her country, the profesor spoke about the ignorance of the majority of the U.S. population about the sentences of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez.

Many of those accompanying me today knew about this cause for the first time when we were received at the office of Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples in this territory, she said, and recalled the visit of the island’s children’s theater group La colmenita to San Francisco, where she explained to her students the truth about the Five Heroes.

The group’s tour ended on Tuesday night in Camaguey, with a meeting with neighbors of a constituency located in the capital’s historic area, declared a World Heritage Site.


Media Silence in the U.S. on the Case of The Five, Condemned

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 5 (acn) The secretiveness maintained by the I.S. press on the truth about the case of The Five was condemned by Canadian writer and journalist Stephen Kimber.

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, the intellectual described as terrible the work of the media in explaining to the U.S. public who they actually are and why Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were condemned.

The letter was released by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five, the Granma newspaper reported on Saturday.

Kimber criticizes U.S. journalism, saying that it only tackles the issue in an obliged way, with the finished rhetoric of the cold war, with the purpose of erroneously presenting the antiterrorists as agents trained to steal governmental secrets.

Urge a Obama must review the testimony of the former director of the National Geospace Intelligence Agency, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, who denied in court that Cubans were trying to obtain confidential information.

He also made reference to the issue of the payment by the U.S. administration to journalists and media outlets to stage an adverse campaign in Miami and make sure that the Cuban antiterrorists were condemned.