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US Scholar James Cockcroft Urges Obama to Free the Five

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 17 (ACN) US award-winning author and three-time Fulbright Scholar and professor a the State University of New York James Cockcroft sent US President Barack Obama a letter urging him to free the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in the U.S. since 1998.

As you know, the UN Human Rights Commission's Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and Amnesty International, along with all major human rights organizations, have long since drawn attention to the injustices carried out by the US Government in its 15-year persecution and incarceration of these five men and have called for immediate remedial action, reads Cockcroft’s letter to the US President, which RHC has access to.

The US scholar tells Obama that if a swap of the Five for US citizen Alan Gross, currently meeting a prison sentence in Cuba for actions against the state security, were in the works, he should go ahead with it, since it would not only make the families of the Five and Gross grateful but it would also favor relations between Cuba and the United States.

“Almost all US and foreign Latin Americanist scholars, including myself, agree on this point and can only wonder why you do not take action when the situation is such an obvious and easy win-win one!”


Biennal of Graphi-K Closes in Santiago with Canadian Solidarity

Santiago de Cuba.- (Prensa Latina)The first Biennal of Graphi-K, with Cuban and Canadians artist ended in this city with the exhibitions of more than a 12 showings of this type of art.

In the Arte Universal, the Oriente galleries, those of the Academy José Joaquín Tejada and in the attelier Cultural Luis Díaz, the public was able to see the samples of the engraveing artists of both countries.

One collective exhibition with the works of more than 60 Canadians and 15 Cubans will be shown also in Havana.

In the cultural event, homage was render to Maestro José Julián Aguilera Vicente and Raúl Marcelino Alfaro Torres,who is resident in Canada.

For 2014 will take place the second edition of Graphi-K,an event that brought together Cubans and Canadians in solidarity after the damages suffer in Santiago in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in several arts institutions of this city.


Peace Council Leader Praises Cuba Forum for World Balance

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 17 (ACN) The president of the World Peace Council Maria do Socorro said that the 3rd International Conference on World Balance will favor unity among revolutionary and progressive forces in Latin American and the Caribbean region.

The forum will be held January 28 and 30 in Havana to deepen the knowledge about the life and work of Cuban National Hero Jose Marti, who was fully committed to the defense of justice and freedom, Socorro told PL news agency in the capital Brasilia.

The ideas of Marti and his fight for the Independence of Latin American nations are of reference for all revolutionaries and people, who are currently struggling for peace and regional integration, said the official.

Referring to regional integration in the continent, Maria do Socorro stressed the process led in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez, “who is a leader admired by the people of the region.”

The official also stressed the fact that Cuba will soon take the chair of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a regional organization that excludes the United States.

The CELAC is a victory for the ideas of Apostle Jose Marti, since its gets Latin American republics together against the expansion of the United States on the continent, said Socorro.

The president of the World Peace Council also condemned the judicial process carried out in Miami against the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in the United States.

The extreme sentences given to  Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Fernando González prove Wahsington’s complete disregard for justice, Maria del Socorro concluded.


Presence of Former President Lula for Conference in Cuba Confirmed

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 17 – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva will travel to Cuba at the end of January to take part in the 3rd International Conference for World Balance.

Lula will arrive in Havana on January 28 and will attend that meeting, highlighted a spokesperson of the institute named after the former head of state, although his agenda of activities on the island was not mentioned.

The 3rd Conference will coincide with the 160th anniversary of the birth of Cuba’s National Hero Jose Marti, which will be a good opportunity to highlight the validity of Marti’s thinking.

The book "Los ultimos soldados de la guerra fria" (The last soldiers of the Cold War), by Brazilian Fernando Morais, which is a denunciation against the biased trial against and the harsh sentences imposed on the five Cuban antiterrorists unfairly incarcerated in the United States, will be launched within the framework of the meeting.

Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez and Fernando Gonzalez have been unfairly imprisoned in the United States for almost 14 years now for monitoring the activities of terrorist groups preparing violent actions against Cuba from Miami.

Attending the meeting in this capital will be representatives of over 40 countries among them a large number of personalities, like Lula; intellectual and religious person Frei Betto; Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel: the president of the World Peace Council, Maria do Socorro; and former Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.


Homage to Marti Tours Cuba

Havana, Jan 17 (Prensa Latina) A group of young people touring Cuba in honor of the 160th anniversary of the birthday of national hero Jose Marti, are continuing their tour through the center of the island, where they will visit historic sites.

About 160 young people carrying oil lanterns started their tour of the island on January 1, setting off from the mausoleum in the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba where the remains of independence hero lie.

The symbolic march reached the city of Santa Clara after spending the night at the headquarters of the municipal government of Placetas, where a wake was held in 1958 over the remains of Captain Roberto Rodriguez, known as "El Vaquerito." Rodriguez was a leader in the heroic Ciro Redondo Eighth Column, commanded by Ernesto Che Guevara during the revolutionary war.

The youth group will be received today in front of Vidal Park in Villa Clara province.

They will spend the night at the Caturla Hall of the Provincial Library, where a wake was heldo ver the remains of Che Guevara and his fellow combatants in Bolivia.

Tomorrow they will tour Cienfuegos province on their way to central Cuban territory.

The group of young people should arrive in Havana on January 28, Jose Marti's birthday, to participate in the traditional March of the Torches to honor the Cuban national hero, starting on the famous broad steps leading up to the University of Havana.


Electric Underground Network is a Major Investment in Varadero

MATANZAS, Cuba.- The electric underground network in the resort of Varadero is the main investment of the Electric Company in the province of Matanzas, in 2013, and one of the most important of the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Frank Falcon, general manager of the entity in the territory, told reporters that works are already underway, and its completion is scheduled for 2016. They include about 20 kilometers of underground cable and three new substations in the Hicacos Peninsula.

Currently a group of the Construction Company collects the materials needed to start the first stage in March, said Falcon, and added that more than 40 percent of the electric network will go down to the sea.

Falcon also said those actions involved a multidisciplinary team composed by specialists of roadways and traffic, the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and experienced builders with previous experience in this kind of work.

All cables are protected by pipes and they have taken all the needed security measures this work requires, Falcon said.


Frei Betto Highlights Validity of Jose Marti´s Ideas

Brasilia, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) Renowned Brazilian intellectual and religious figure Frei Betto highlighted today the validity of Jose marti ideas, reflected in the Latin American pro-integration proposals and in the struggle against discrimination.

Those brilliant Jose Marti´s words "Homeland is Humankind" mean that Homeland is not economic development, or the growth in Gross Domestic Product, or the increase in exports, but rather the quality of life of the population, the people´s happiness and respect for the human rights, he said in an interview with Prensa Latina.

Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo, known as Frei Betto, won the UNESCO-sponsored Jose Marti Award, but shows modesty in saying that this award was not given to his person, but to the grass roots movements and churches in Latin America with which he worked in the past 50 years.

"I am a tiny grain of sand in a huge and vast beach of the larger Latin American and Caribbean homeland," he said, paraphrasing Jose Marti.

Betto, scheduled to attend the Third International Conference for the Balance of the World, to be held in Havana on Jan. 28-30, announced the soon launch of the Cuban edition of his book "A Mosca Azul" (The Blue Fly), with reflections about power, the start, the medium and the end.

He also announced a publication of his biography by Cuban journalist and researcher Alicia Elizundia.


Cuban Parliament President Meets Brazilian Legislators

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 17 (ACN) Cuban Parliament president Ricardo Alarcon thanked visiting Brazilian lawmakers for their support of the Cuban people’s struggle to bring home the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the United States since 1998.

Alarcon met on Wednesday with a delegation from the Brazilian Parliament, headed by senate first vice-president Aniball Diniz, according to Granma newspaper.

The distinguished visitors expressed their willingness to further deepen the friendly relations linking the two parliaments and peoples. They also favored the expansion of commercial and cooperation relations between Brasilia and Havana.

Attending the meeting were the president of the International affairs Commission of the Cuban Parliament Ramon Pez Ferro and the secretary of that parliamentary body Yenielys Regueiferos, as well as the president of Brazil-Cuba Friendship Parliamentary Group Jose Luis Fernandez, and Brazilan ambassador to Havana Jose E. Martins.


Cuba Trains Authorities for General Elections

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) The members of polling stations and other authorities in charge of the February 3 general elections in Cuba are prioritizing their training for the polls, the National Electoral Commission (CEN) reported.

According to Caridad Alvarez, spokesperson for that entity, the upcoming elections are different from those which occurred in late 2012. This time, voters will elect 14,537 councilors or delegates to the municipal assemblies of People's Power, requiring specific training.

We have two ballots instead of one, for casting free, equal and secret votes to choose separately 612 members of Parliament and 1,269 delegates to the provincial assemblies, Alvarez said on a morning television morning show.

Alvarez said that a dynamic test (mock election) will be held on Sunday, Jan. 27, to check conditions ahead of voting, with an electoral roll of about 8,500,000 citizens, who are automatically eligible to register to vote once they reach the age of 16.

On the 27th, more than 29,000 polling stations will open. The objective is to verify authorities' training and mastery of the necessary documentation for the general elections, she said.

The exercise will check the availability of two polls, the media, and voters' lists, Alvarez said.

Regarding the coming vote, Granma newspaper reported today that about 612 candidates for the Parliament and 1,269 for the provincial assemblies of People's Power will continue their tours of workplaces, schools and other facilities of the country, to talk with voters.


ALBA Shops to Open in Venezuela in 2013

Caracas, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan authorities announced the opening of 10 shops with products from member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA in Spanish) during 2013, informed today official sources.

Minister of Trade, Edmée Betancourt, indicated the outlets will be located in the Capital District, in the states of Vargas and Nueva Esparta.

Those establishments will sell handicrafts, textiles, linen, books and recordings from the ALBA member countries, added the government oficial.

At the inauguration of one of those shops in the capital, Betancourt said they would expend products from Cuba, like guayaberas, as well as textiles and handicrafts from Nicaragua, Bolivia and Caribbean islands, at reasonable prices.

She recalled that the objective of this initiative is satisfying the needs of the population, as they represent economies for customers of up to 60 per cent compared to private markets.


Cuba Announces Team to Third World Baseball Classic

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 16 (acn) Cuba’s manager Victor Mesa released in a press conference in Havana the names of the 28 baseball players that will participate in Third World Classic to start next March.

Mesa praised the quality of the team and said it was “the ideal and most comprehensive squad we can have, with sluggers and contact batters, good defensive skills and a great pitching staff”

At the conference held at the Havana’s Lationoamericano Stadium, Mesa said this was the right moment to bring in young players to the national team and urged experts and funs to trust the new generations that will pinch hit for some more mature players that are not included in the team.

“We cannot fear change” said Mesa and pointed out that all players in the team are in peak physical condition and none is suffering from injuries.

This preliminary roster can be modified from now till February 20, the dateline for changes in the official team that will debut against Brazil on March 3, as part of group A of the Third World Baseball Classic, in the Japanese city of Fukuoka.

The team is as follows:

Catchers: Yulexis La Rosa, Frank Camilo Morejón and Eriel Sánchez.

Infielders: José Dariel Abreu, Luis Felipe Rivera, José Miguel Fernández, Andy Ibáñez, Yulieski Gourriel and Bárbaro Arruebarruena.

Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne, Rusney Castillo, Alexei Bell, Guillermo Heredia and Yadiel Hernández.

Pitchers: Freddy Asiel Alvarez, Ismel Jiménez, Raciel Iglesias, Odrisamer Despaigne, Norberto González, Darien Núñez, Wilber Pérez, Yulieski González, Vladimir García, Alexander Rodríguez, Danny Betancourt, Vichyoandri Odelín and Yander Guevara.

Manager: Víctor Mesa    Technical Chief: Jorge Fuentes


Expectation Grows about Next Habano Cigar Festival

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) The famous Cuban Premium cigars will be the kings of the 15th edition of the Habano Festival next February, when the event opens doors for this event, considered the most acclaimed by smokers of the whole world.

Despite the campaigns against human consumption of tobacco and the world financial and economic crisis, this hand-made product keeps giving pleasure to millions of people in the world who come to this forum that entertains at least a thousand participants of about 70 countries.

In the smoking salons, elegance prevails, deluxe accessories, and the chats, encounters and tasting sessions combine in a successful way with the different phases of this meeting, as the reunions with drinks, the Habanosommelier Competition and the closing gala where beautiful humidors and other accessories of the tobacco world are auctioned.

Some advanced events include the presentation of a new design for the brand Vegueros, original from the Cuban westernmost province, Pinar del Rio, also the most famous in the island´s tobacco crop.

The director of the twisted tobacco company in that part of the country, Orlando Acosta, said that they work eagerly to exhibit those versions of Vegueros.

For 2013, he said, they will enlarge the range of cigars, and they will show brands with international fame and recognition, such as Trinidad, Montecristo, Vegas Robaina, Hoyo de Monterrey, and Romeo and Julieta.

However, the brand Cohiba continues as the fundamental attractiveness, the first one arisen after 1959 when the Cuban Revolution triumphed and which has many followers in the world.

In Pinar del Rio, they want to manufacture five million cigars, most of which of the Vegueros brand, and 300,000 pieces for the local market, Acosta explained.

The Habano Festival will lapse from February 26 to March 2 in the living rooms of the Havana Convention Center.

At the closing of the meeting the prizes of the year are delivered to brands standing out in the trade, production and communications linked to these tobacco products.

Another of their outstanding attractiveness leads to the visits to the plantations in Pinar del Rio and the dialogue between participants and peasants dedicated to the cultivation of the tobacco leaf.

For many travellers, the fundamental relief is to smoke cigars in their original homeland and to share with other products of world fame as coffee and rum.

The cigars owe their celebrity to the perfect floor combination, climate and experience of the producers.


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