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Fidel Castro Granted International Special Education Award

HAVANA, Cuba, July 5 (acn) The World Association of Special Education awarded Cuban Revolution leader with its Blue Heart Prize for having been the creator of the Dora Alonso special school, the first center in Cuba dedicated to treating Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

Education minister Ena Elsa Velasquez received the distinction on behalf of the Cuban leader during the closing ceremony of the First International Encounter on Autism and Inclusion, which was held at Havana’s Conventions Center.

The World Council of University Academics awarded other persons including Alberto Docampo and Mercedes Carracedo, parents of Michel, a young boy with autistic spectrum disorders, who is working at the library of the Dora Alonso special school. Michel was the presenter at the opening and closing ceremonies of the international event.

Raul Participates in Second Day of Sessions of the Cuban Parliament

HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 7 (acn) The second day of sessions of the National Assembly of the People’s Power (ANPP) began on Sunday in this capital with the presence of Army General Raul Castro, President of the councils of State and Ministers.

In its First Ordinary Period of Sessions corresponding to the 8th Legislature, Cuban parliamentarians will know details about the development of the process of implementation of the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution.

Cuban Parliament Demands Freedom for the Five

HAVANA, Cuba, July 6 (acn) The National Assembly of Peoples’ Power called on parliaments and good-will people from around the world to urge US President Barack Obama to unconditionally release the antiterrorist Cubans held in US jails since 1998.

The Cuban deputies adopted a declaration during the opening of the Eighth Legislature of the Cuban Parliament,  attended by President Raul Castro.

The declaration read that Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González are symbols of the dignity and patriotism of the Cuban people.

The first four Cubans are still imprisoned the US, while Rene Gonzalez is in Cuba after having met an  over 12-year prison term and renounced his American citizenship as a condition to return to the island.

During the session, Gonzalez called for reinforced efforts to achieve the freedom of his compatriots.

The declaration pointed out that next September 12 will mark 15 years of unfair imprisonment in the United States of those men whose only mission was monitoring groups responsible for terrorist acts against Cuba.

The parliamentarians expressed gratefulness to heads of state and government and other personalities, who have taken a stance against the arbitrary treatment carried out against the Cuban Five, as the anti-terrorist fighters are internationally known.

The document also read that Barack Obama did not have any thing to do with the biased judicial process to which the Five were submitted, but it urges the US President to use his constitutional powers to free the Cubans immediately.

Honest people, the relatives and the Cuban people would appreciate such humanitarian gesture, said the deputies in the declaration.

Cuban Five Case is Priority for Cuba's Foreign Policy

HAVANA, Cuba, July 5 (acn) Cuba will intensify actions aimed at achieving justice in the case of the antiterrorist fighters held in US prisons since 1998. The Cuban Five issue is priority for the country’s Foreign Policy, said deputy foreign minister Ana Teresita Gonzalez.

Addressing deputies with the Parliament Commission on International Affairs at Havana’s Conventions Palace, Gonzalez said that some of the actions considered by the Foreign Ministry include an international colloquium in Havana beginning September 12, a day that will mark fifteen years of the imprisonment of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González. The latter one is already free in Cuba.

The initiatives will mainly aim at breaking the silence wall raised by the US mainstream media against the case and at informing public opinion in that country about the injustice committed against the Cuban Five.

The deputy foreign minister briefed lawmakers on legal actions filed with US courts, which include a Habeas Corpus and a Discovery Motion allowing the judge in charge to order the release of confidential documents in the hands of the US administration.

Cuba is still waiting to hear a word from Washington in this process, which has been delayed despite the growing international support of the Cuban Five cause expressed through statements by personalities, such as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay.

Presidents of five countries joined the international claim over the past six months, said the deputy minister. The world claim has also been backed by Nobel laureates and important figures from the political and culture arenas.

Speaking with reporters, Adriana Perez, who is the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, called for actions on the social Internet networks and alternative media in order to break the silence of the mainstream media.

Perez also stressed the need to reach out to international institutions and agencies backing the cause and to all those who have not yet joined in, in order to have Washington take a fair and humanitarian decision with respect to the Cuban Five case.

President Barack Obama can give a definitive solution to the case and end the anguish of these patriots and their families after nearly 15 years of suffering, said Perez.

The Cuban Economy Advances, Despite Adverse External Factors

HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 6 – Although not without internal and external tensions, there was a general positive development of the Cuban economy in the first semester of 2013, as reiterated on Saturday during the meeting of the National Assembly of the People’s Power.

Met at Havana’s Convention Center, in the presence of Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (CC of the PCC) and President of the councils of State and Ministers, deputies listened to a summary of the development of the island’s economy so far this year.

This topic was analyzed during a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers and in permanent working commissions of the top legislative organ.

Adel Yzquierdo, member of the Politburo of the CC of the PCC, vice-president of the Council of Ministers, and Minister of Planning and the Economy, informed that a 2.3 percent increase of the Gross Domestic Product has been estimated for this stage, two decimals higher than in the same period of 2012.

He referred to the slowing down –in economic growth- that will be appreciated at the end of the year, in correspondence with the world economic situation, national financial problems and difficulties to obtain external finances, among factors that will undeniably have a bearing on figures planned not to be achieved.

He pointed out that a 2.5 to 3 percent increase is expected, lower than the 3.6 planned.

While going into great detail about economic indicators, the Minister highlighted that he balance of trade is favorable and that it will continue being so throughout the year, taking an increase in exports and a reduction of imports as a starting point.

Regarding internal finances, he underlined positive results in the payment of debts contracted by the country, an aspect in which a strict follow-up has been maintained, which has resulted in greater credibility with respect to Cuba.

In investments, in spite of a 16 percent growth, there will be lack of fulfilment by the end of the year, he said, and stressed that poorly prepared investments, low productivity, difficulties with projects and incorrect planning continue encumbering this activity

Struggle against Illegalities: a Priority of the People’s Power

HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 6 – Cuban Parliament President Esteban Lazo, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (CC of the PCC), asserted on Saturday in this capital that the struggle against social indiscipline, illegalities and crime is among the priorities of the People’s Power.

In the presence of Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the CC of the PCC and President of the councils of State and Ministers, and of deputies to the National Assembly of the People’s Power, Lazo underlined that this issue was analyzed with the population in the recent process of rendering of accounts of delegates at constituencies.

He pointed out that it’s a battle in which public awareness needs to be increased and that the battle should be won with participation of the people, explaining that, due to its importance, this aspect was on the agenda of the 98 ordinary sessions held at municipal level and 10 at provincial level.

His participation on Saturday in the First Ordinary Period of the 8th Legislature of Parliament was aimed at informing about the work carried out by the deputies and auxiliary organs of the top Cuban legislative organ, since its creation on February 24, including its leadership.

Lazo pointed out that, during the meetings held with authorities of each territory, with deputies and local delegates, analyses were made on economic and social issues linked to the fulfillment of production plans, quality, the budget, saving, and the struggle against social indiscipline, illegalities and crime.

Lawmakers Analyze Economic Changes in Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba , Jul 6 (acn) T he members of the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP by its Spanish acronym) discussed today in this city the changes in the existing relationships of the socialist state enterprise and the government budget.
In his speech, Marino Murillo Jorge, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Vice President of the Council of Ministers, said that these entities, according to the guidelines of the plan for 2014, will keep their amortization funds.
He also referred to the recently approved flexibility policy of corporate social purpose, which has among its advantages once the entities´ main mission is fulfilled; their officers have the authority to undertake other tasks.
When referring to the economic transformations carried out so far, Murillo said it has been taken into account the principle that all economic actors (such as cooperatives) must operate on equal terms.
Meanwhile, Adel Yzquierdo, Minister of Economy and Planning, reflected with the lawmakers about the fundamental issues impeding economic growth foreseen for the current year.
Yzquierdo stressed that GDP should close at the end of 2013 between 2.5 and 3.0 percent, lower than the estimated 3.6.
He noted that the main reasons of this decrease were the effects of Hurricane Sandy and Cuban economy’s shortcomings.
In this regard, he pointed out the affectation on foreign currency earnings due to lower nickel prices, the decline in tourist arrivals, deficiencies in services in this important sector and investment defaults.

Cuban National Assembly Passes Maritime Legislation

HAVANA, Cuba, July 6 (acn) The Cuban Parliament adopted a new maritime navigation law during the first session of the 8th Legislation, underway till Sunday at Havana’s Conventions Palace.

The legislation is in tune with ongoing economic, political and social transformations in the country, said Transportation minister Cesar Arocha.

The new law is the result of over 15 years of work by state institutions linked to maritime, river and lake navigation, said the minister.

The legal document now regulates navigation in Cuban territorial waters, its exclusive economic zone and inner water courses, lakes and reservoirs, plus related services. It is also relevant to merchant, fishing, sports navigation, and other issues related to boats on commercial, scientific, tourist, or recreational activity.

Also included in the legislation is the rescue of people under international norms, and international maritime treaties and conventions of which Cuba is a signatory country.

Cuba did not count on an updated legislation on the issue, so the navigation activities were regulated by obsolete legal instruments.

The most recent regulation in force was the Spanish Trade Code, extended to the island by a Royal Decree that dated from January 1886. (rhc)

CELAC Statement in Solidarity with Evo Morales
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) expresses its serious concern over the events that occurred on July 2, when some European governments refused or withdrawn suddenly and without explanation whatsoever, the over flight and landing permits to the President Plurinational State of Bolivia's official plane, Evo Morales, forcing him to make an emergency landing at the international airport of Vienna, Austria.
We express our rejection of these unjustifiable acts that jeopardized the security of the President of Bolivia and were contrary to freedom of movement and immunity jurisdiction enjoyed by any Head of State.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States stands in solidarity with President Evo Morales and the brotherly people of Bolivia.
The CELAC demand the clarification of the facts which constitute a violation of international law, and explanations that might arise.

Canadian Airline Inaugurates Flights to Jardines del Rey

CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, Jul 7 (acn) Rouge Airlines, of the Air Canada tour operator, began operations in Cuba on Saturday with a flight from Toronto to Jardines del Rey.

Manuel Yánez, local representative of Canada Vacances, told the press that the new itinerary responds to a strategy of expansion and to the purchasing of fur airplanes, two of which will fly to the Caribbean and the rest to Europe. A total of 139 passengers flew on Saturday to Cayo Coco, including 135 students who, for a decade now, visit the region during their vacation.

Mercedes Abreu, president of the Cubanacán travel agency, specified that her entity will be in charge of receiving these weekly flights.

Raul Castro Stresses Importance of Guidelines in Cuba's Development

Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro stressed the importance of a well prepared program such as that we have in the guidelines approved by the 6th Congress of the Party for the development of the country.

Speaking at the first plenary session of the 8th Legislature of the Parliament, Raul Castro said yesterday that to pay attention to the theory, discuss all these issues together with the people, and re-explain what they do not understand, is essential.

The country's main lines of development should have to be discussed in the future, for the people, as we did with the draft guidelines, debated in the Congress of the Party, and also by the legislators in the National Assembly, the Cuban president added. All what is approved should be checked twice a year as we have done, he said.

On the other hand, the Cuban president suggested that legislators should take a diploma course in the Higher School for Cadres, to achieve greater preparation in the complex issues of the economy, and on the profound changes that are being implemented in the country. Cuba has to diversify its production and living on its own resources, Raul Castro stated.

Raul Castro Urges to Face Challenges Confident of Victory

Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) President Raul Castro urged to face challenges with determination and confident of victory at the closing ceremony of the first ordinary session of the 8th Legislature of the Parliament.

The 60th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Garrisons is about to celebrate. Let's face new challenges with the same determination and unshakable faith in victory the head of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, has always taught us, the President said on Sunday.

Raul Castro called on people to join to the battle against social indiscipline that have caused moral and material damage.

The update of the socio-economic model in Cuba demands a permanent atmosphere of order, discipline and demand, he said.

The Cuban president stated as a first step to recognize the existence of the problem and dig up into the causes and conditions that have resulted.

We have seen along more than 20 years of the special period the increased deterioration of moral and civic values such as honesty, decency, shame, decorum, and sensitivity to others' problems, he acknowledged.

Raul Castro highlighted the importance of family and school in the formation of moral values and described as incompatible some expressions of indiscipline taking place in several levels of education.

The president said that the state and government bodies, among them the police, the comptroller, the attorney's office, and the courts must contribute to this effort, giving an example of strict adherence to law.

At the same time, he urged workers, peasants, students, youth, teachers, intellectuals, artists, journalists, religious entities, authorities, the most worthy Cubans do theirs the duty to fulfill and enforce what is established.

The Cuban president also said that the monetary duality is one of the major obstacles for the progress of the nation and should be advanced toward unification. The studies for the removal of this monetary duality have continued, he said before stating that we pretend to eliminate it "in an orderly and comprehensive manner, to undertake far-reaching changes" in terms of wages, pensions, prices and tariffs, subsidies, and taxes.

About the economy of the country, Raul Castro assessed that the performance during the first semester of the year was positive, despite external tensions, damages caused by Hurricane Sandy and "our own" failures.

The Cuban president denounced the recent expressions of the philosophy of domination of the United States as a proof that all countries of the South are in danger.

In such sense, he stated that Cuba supports the legitimate demands and statements by the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Uruguay, and other Latin American and Caribbean leaders.

He also called for the mobilization of the international public opinion, to the strong denunciation and firm condemnation of threats against Ecuador and outrage against Evo Morales and all Our America.

The Cuban head of State expressed his country's support to the sovereign right of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and of all States of the region to grant asylum to those persecuted for their ideals or struggles for the democratic rights, according to our tradition.

About this issue, he referred to the recent revelations of U.S. citizen Edward Snowden, confirming the existence of U.S. global espionage systems in violation of the sovereignty of nations, even their allies, and human rights.

Raul Castro supported President Nicolas Maduro's statement of not giving shelter and denying extradition to Venezuela of an international terrorist such as Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of the midair bombing of a Cubana de Aviacion airplane with 73 passengers, while pretend that this sister nation does not exercise its legitimate right.

He also endorsed the call for all the world's parliaments and personalities committed to justice so they claim U.S. authorities the release of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez, as September 12 marks the 15th anniverary of their unjust imprisonment for fighting against terrorism.

Cuba: Nearly Half a Million Non State Workers

Havana, July 8 (Prensa Latina) Cuba now has 429,000 state workers, said here today Vice President of Ministers Council Marino Murillo.

According to the leader, a few years ago who worked in these forms of management were barely 157,000 and now hover around half a million people.

In the report submitted by Murillo to MEPs who meet the first regular session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power, it was learned on the progress of non-state employment, also known as self.

In this regard, the Vice President said that the creation of 126 cooperatives demonstrate the political will to strengthen this area. Of these, most are agricultural, but also dedicated to passenger transport and recycling.

These cooperatives, he said, have full support of the government and shall meet, in a sustainable way, the growing needs of goods and services in society.

He also reported that soon will start working another 71 companies of this type, which participate in trade and gastronomy, small construction industry and in the production of food and beverages.

Murillo advanced before the deputies that it will be released in a few days a legal rule that will define the scope of non-state workers, "to avoid indiscipline" on time.

On the same day, Vice President announced that the Caribbean island implemented new ways of financing public debt, with the intention to keep under control the primary issue of currency and inflation, among other economical measures.

Cooperativism in Cuba to Raise Efficiency, Productivity

Havana, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) The promotion of cooperativism, enshrined in the updating process of the Cuban economic model, is a form of management thet seeks to improve efficiency and productivity in the country.

With that purpose, 124 coperatives start functioning last July 1 in sectors like construction, transportation, collection of wastes and agricultural markets.

This form of management began to operate in these associations, a decision supported by the Guidelines approved by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba which is a novel experience after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, when those linked to the agricultural sector were created.

The head of the Business Improvement Group of the Standing Commission for Implementation and Development, Grisel Tristá, told Cuban press, that "With this measure we are commiting ourselves to look for, in cooperative, activities that have not been efficient at the state level, this also allows the state to get rid of matters which are not transcendental in the development of the economy.

In this first group, 112 arise from the state sector and 12 from the non-state, the latter consisting of self-employed workers mainly.

Cuban Legislators for Transforming Agriproductive Model

Havana, July 5 (Prensa Latina) The need to transform Cuban agriculture's productive model prevailed in debates among Parliament members during the second day of session of the Agrifood Committee of the National Assembly of the People's Power (Parliament).

There has been "important progress" in animal food; however, the growth registered in some productions oriented for human consumption are still insufficient, said Sergio Rodriguez, Director of the National Institute of Tropical Root Vegetables.

According to Rodriguez, the growth in agriculture is far from what is needed to achieve food sovereignty in the Island, but there are potentials

Cuba relies on three key elements to face current challenges in agriculture: political will, the farmers' technical knowledge and high scientific potential, and the challenge is to combine them all, said the expert.

Cuba to Graduate Over 2,700 Medicine Students

Havana, Jul 7 (Prensa Latina) The University of Medical Sciences of Havana (ELAM) will graduate more than 2,700 new health professionals this academic year, said Cosme More Cuesta, chief of Information of the higher educational institute.

From the total of graduates, over 800 of them come from 29 nations, which have joined the Latin American School of Medicine project, with leading participation of Bolivia, Ecuador y Guatemala.

The first group of students from the People's Republic of China will graduate the current academic year.

More Cuesta said that the central Graduation ceremony for medicine students in stomatology, nursing, psychology, and health technology specialities will take place on

July 23 in the Cuban capital. The ELAM will also make a farewell activity to foreign scholars on July 24.

Recent data, published by experts from the Cuban Ministry of Health, revealed that more than 10,500 students will receive their degrees of Doctor in Medicine this year. Of that total, 5,683 are Cubans and 4,843 of them come from 70 nations.


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