Monday, June 10, 2024

 

Cuban ambassador visits Portland

Cuba’s ambassador to the United States, Lianys Torres Rivera, speaking to University of Portland students, accompanied by David Ramirez, Second Secretary for the Cuban Mission in Washington, D.C. Portland, Oregon, May 28, 2024.

By Maddi Johnson and Jey Clayton

Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera visited Portland, Oregon, on May 28 to talk about establishing improved ties between the U.S. and Cuba. She met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the president and department heads of Portland State University. The ambassador spoke at an event organized by the PSU Cuba Solidarity group and the Portland End the Blockade of Cuba Committee, of which Workers World Party is a member.

Torres Rivera told the audience that Cuba spends 60% of its budget on education and other benefits for the people. She said the country continues to provide free training and education to workers: “I could be a painter if I wanted and would have gotten my training for free.”

Cuba produced its own COVID-19 vaccine, vaccinated 90% of its population and was the first country to develop a vaccine for children over two years old. A true internationalist leader, Cuba sends medical professionals abroad to train, work and treat patients, often in life-threatening situations. Cuban doctors were killed earlier this year by a U.S. airstrike in Somalia.

The ambassador explained that Cubans are very proud of the new Family Code, the most progressive legislation in the world pertaining to families and relationships. This change to the Cuban Constitution not only protects the most vulnerable in Cuba and affirms same-sex relationships, it protects the course of Cuban socialism. Writing the “Law of Love” involved the whole population. It went through 25 revisions over the course of 3½ years, after which a majority of Cubans approved the Code in a referendum vote. The process, a lesson in democracy, is an example to the world.

Cuba defends the well-being of its people against the onslaught of the capitalist-driven climate catastrophe. One response to increased global warming has been to move homes away from the shore as sea levels rise.

These are just a few of the accomplishments Cuba has made despite over 60 years of the U.S. economic blockade. Torres Rivera explained that: “Development in Cuba takes 10 times longer because of the blockade. However, our collective struggle must go on. We must build on the over 100 resolutions by organizations and unions to end the blockade, with multiple fronts to finally smash it once and for all!”

The blockade prohibits U.S. citizens from visiting Cuba, with only a few exceptions. It has forced many thousands of people to leave Cuba due to severe conditions created under the weight of this imperialist bludgeon. Food prices are double or triple what they might be without the blockade. 

Some Cubans fear that despite all they’ve endured, the Cuban economy may continue to deteriorate. Torres Rivera described how the younger generation in Cuba is heavily propagandized through the U.S. mainstream media and social media influencers and stressed that “Cuba could be a very different country without U.S. sanctions.”

Ambassador Torres Rivera said that Cuba is waging a tedious uphill struggle against U.S. aggression. It is up to the working class in this country to put pressure on the U.S. government with a simple message: “Let Cuba live!”


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

 







Understand how the US blockade causes blackouts in Cuba.

Despite international condemnation, sanctions make energy prices up to three times more expensive for the country

 Gabriel Vera Lopes, Brasil de Fato | Havana (Cuba) | March 20, 2024

 On Sunday (17), many protests took place in the province of Santiago de Cuba (on the east side of the country) against the prolonged and repeated power cuts, which reached over six hours per day. Its context is marked by a serious economic and energy crisis the island has long been facing.

 The situation was aggravated by record high temperatures in Cuba, which has increased the need for energy.

 Protesters also complained about the lack and delays in the distribution of the so-called canasta familiar (basic-needs grocery package), a food distribution system through which the state subsidizes prices. Considerably cheaper than the grocery packages available at markets, it aims to guarantee food security for the Cuban population.

 The canasta familiar has been dealing with delays in the delivery of many of the products it includes, since a big part of them need to be imported. The Sunday protests in Santiago, Cuba’s second-largest city, were particularly related to delays in milk delivery.

 Dialoguing with protesters

During the protests, many of the province’s officials met with the protesters to hear from them about their demands, in addition to talking to them. Beatriz Johnson Urrutia, former governor and current secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in Santiago, was one of them.

 In a video on social media, Urrutia said the dialog happened in a "respectful manner" and that she "listened carefully to the information provided". She also stressed that the authorities are aware of the "damages to the national electricity system caused by the problems faced by thermoelectric power plants and the availability of fuel.”

 Similarly, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel posted a series of messages on his official account on X (formerly Twitter) reinforcing the government’s disposition to “address our people’s demands, listen, talk and explain about the many measures being taken to improve the situation.”  “Amid the conditions [imposed] by the US blockade, which intends to suffocate us, we will continue to work in peace to get out of this situation,” he concluded.

 Three times more expensive

Consulted by Brasil de Fato, Alejandro Lopéz, an electrical engineer and specialist at the state-owned Cuban company Unión Eléctrica, argues that the country’s problems in the energy sector "cannot be understood without taking into account the illegal blockade that Washington has maintained against the island for decades.”

 "A big part of the fuel the country consumes is imported. We're talking about essential supplies for energy production, but also for transportation and agriculture. It is very difficult for the state to import fuel. As the blockade means that every ship that enters a Cuban port is sanctioned by the US government, shipping companies generally can't operate in Cuba. And if they do, it's always at costs well above the international price," he explains.

 It is estimated that energy imports cost the Cuban state up to three times more than the average international price. Therefore, on the one hand, the country's economy is directly affected, causing the Cuban state to lose substantial resources. On the other hand, sanctions against shipping companies make it very difficult to guarantee a constant flow of freight. As a result, there are ongoing problems with supplies. 

 In addition to the abovementioned problems, all of the country's thermal power plants have old machinery, some of which have over 30 years of use. As a result, it is relatively easy for them to break down, reducing energy distribution to the country.

 "Both maintenance and renewal of parts or machinery are very expensive. On the one hand, the blockade restricts the possibilities of accessing funding for these investments. For example, Cuba cannot access international financial markets. At the same time, the import of spare parts – which, in itself, involves large investments – is even more expensive because of the blockade."

 Solidarity blackouts

Due to the country’s energy deficit, the Cuban government is planning a series of “solidarity blackouts” (scheduled power cuts) to save energy. These blackouts are established in each province. They divide the region into “blocks” where "solidarity blackouts” alternate for weeks. These energy shortages last longer outside Havana, Cuba’s capital city.

 Alejandro López explains that each province maps places considered as priorities (such as hospitals or residences of vulnerable people due to diseases/age, people who cannot be without electricity) that cannot be affected by blackouts.

 At the same time, Cuba maintains a system of heavy energy subsidies, both for companies (including private companies) and domestic consumption, which accounts for around 65% of the total. In 2023, the cost of energy for the state was almost eight times higher than that paid by consumers.

 Foreign interference

During the protests, the US Embassy in Havana made a public statement “urging” Cuban authorities to “respect [protesters’] human rights." The statement insinuated that the Cuban government does not respect human rights.

 In response, on Monday morning (18), the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs called a meeting with the US Embassy authorities to convey its "firm rejection of interference" due to the "slanderous messages from the US government and its embassy in Cuba about Cuba’s internal affairs.”

 The Cuban authorities pointed out that, according to the rules of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic missions should not issue opinions on the internal politics of the country in which they are located, something the US Embassy in Cuba systematically violates.

 The Cuban authorities also emphasized that "direct responsibility" for the "shortages and difficulties the population faces daily" lies mainly with the illegal economic blockade maintained by the United States against Cuba. The Caribbean state accuses Washington of "limiting and obstructing all the Cuban state's efforts to find solutions and provide answers to the country's economic and social needs.”

 The UN General Assembly first addressed the US blockade against Cuba in 1992. Since then and every year, the General Assembly has voted by an overwhelming majority to end the blockade, a series of measures that interrupt the normal development of Cuba's economy and directly interfere with the daily lives of Cubans. However, year after year, Washington has ignored this demand from the international community.

 According to the most recent document the UN General Assembly approved by 187 votes, with Ukraine abstaining and only the United States and Israel voting against, the blockade generated a loss of US$13 million per day for the Cuban state last year alone.

 Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho

Friday, May 10, 2024

 

Contributing to forming a new world order that is more just, inclusive and equitable calls for action

Speech delivered by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, in Moscow, Russian Federation, on May 8, 2024, "66th Year of the Revolution"

Author: Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez | informacion@granmai.cu

May 9, 2024 09:05:53-Shorthand Versions - Presidency of the Republic)













Your Excellency Mr. Nikol Pashinian, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and President of the Eurasian Economic Union;

Your Excellency and dear Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, our most sincere congratulations on your election as President with the highest popular support;
Your Excellencies, Heads of Delegations of the member countries of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council;
Distinguished guests:
It is always an honor to participate in these meetings of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.  In addition to that honor, today we are delighted to do so in person in the beloved city of Moscow on a memorable day, on the 64th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the then Soviet Union and the young Revolution of the Republic of Cuba, a bond of friendship and cooperation to which the Cuban people owe so much of their social and human development.
We are also encouraged to take part in the celebration -in the context of the expanded Supreme Council- of the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and on the eve of the 79th anniversary of Victory Day.
As we have said on other occasions, the Cuban Government attaches great importance to the economic-commercial, financial and cooperation relations with the Eurasian Economic Union and its member states, taking as a premise the historical relations that unite us with that group of countries.
This is an opportunity to congratulate Armenia on the chairmanship of the Union in 2024 and Mr. Bakytzhan Sagintaev on his appointment as Chairman of the College of the Eurasian Economic Commission. Our best wishes for success in the exercise of these important functions.
Likewise, I would like to add my appreciation to the Eurasian Economic Commission and the Government of the Russian Federation for the initiative of organizing this Summit in such complex and decisive circumstances as the world is experiencing right now.
The agitated situation in various parts of the planet is of international concern and summons us to action to contribute to the process of creating a new world order that is more just, inclusive and equitable.
Cuba appreciates that the ten years that have passed with significant results in all areas of interaction show that the UEAA is a successful, attractive and sustainable integration project.
An irrefutable proof are the macroeconomic indicators, such as: an aggregate GDP of 2.4 trillion dollars; the almost doubling of mutual trade among the member states and the 60% increase in foreign trade turnover, just to mention a few significant data.
Since its foundation, and especially in recent years, the Union has been very clear about its projection in terms of development priorities, which can be seen in the adoption of the Declaration called the Eurasian Economic Track and the adoption of a road map with the mechanisms and activities, as well as the deadlines and forms for its implementation.
Dear colleagues:
Cuba, from its condition of Observer State, reiterates its willingness and interest to have a greater participation in the mechanisms of the Union to advance towards a deeper integration.
I sincerely believe that we all need better coordination to promote joint projects in areas of mutual interest.
In this regard, it is essential to promote a more systematic and practical relationship between the ministries and sectoral agencies of the Commission and the Member and Observer States.
This will not be difficult.  Cuba's National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030 has a broad coincidence with the medium- and long-term priorities set out in the UEAA Declaration, with emphasis on the role of science and innovation.
The holding of the Third Joint Commission between Cuba and the Eurasian Economic Commission in Havana in January of this year represented a milestone in relations, but it also confirmed the need to turn around actions to diversify ties between our countries and advance qualitatively and quantitatively to higher levels in trade exchanges, cooperation and intra- and extra-regional foreign investment.
As you know, Cuba attaches great importance to government management based on science and innovation, and even though this is a process that requires a great deal of learning, I can assure you that we are making progress in its implementation.  Undoubtedly, the path of knowledge is key to the development of nations and, for the same reason, it is one of the lines of work in which we want to deepen our relations with the Union.
We want to bet on the strengthening of those links, emphasizing the sphere of industry, tourism, technical and accreditation regulations, as well as sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary measures, essential aspects to be able to advance in the introduction of new Cuban products and maintain the registration of those already existing in the Eurasian market.
We place at the disposal of the Member States the experiences and achievements we have obtained in the field of the medical, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry, for future collaboration in this field.
We can also join efforts and continue advancing in the sanitary and regulatory sphere for the circulation of Cuban medicines and medical devices in the countries of the Union.
We appreciate the possibilities of strengthening interaction in the field of industry, based on the invitation received for Cuban companies to participate in the creation of instruments for the development of innovative, high-tech and innovative productions, such as the eighteen digital platforms conceived in the Union.
We have insisted on promoting exchanges between the structures of the Eurasian Economic Commission, the businessmen of the countries of the Union and Cuba, in order to establish direct links to identify interests in trade, cooperation and direct foreign investment.
It is worth mentioning the exchange resumed at the business level between the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba and the Business Council of the Commission, which made it possible to define a joint work mechanism to promote the take-off of inter-business relations.
Dear participants in this Summit:
I wish to reaffirm once again Cuba's interest in and commitment to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union and its member states.
We are a small country, subjected for six decades to an economic, commercial and financial blockade, intensified in recent years with measures especially designed to prevent the success of development plans and to make the daily life of the people more difficult.
The unjust inclusion of Cuba in the spurious U.S. list of States that allegedly sponsor terrorism has had a disastrous effect on the financial operations of the country, causing a very tense situation in the economy, which the Cuban people are facing with admirable courage and creativity.
Under such conditions, the historic understanding, friendship and support of countries such as those that make up the UEAA is of inestimable value, for which Cuba is deeply grateful.
I extend to all the feelings of gratitude of the Cuban people and government for the vote in favor of the resolution against the blockade which is overwhelmingly adopted every year by the United Nations General Assembly, and which we will continue to present as long as this illegal, unjust and genocidal policy is maintained.
Those who blockade us will never be able to understand, and therefore will never be able to prevent, the excellent relations between our countries and the shared vision that a better world is possible, and we can do it together, based on principles of cooperation, mutual respect and shared welfare, all values that distinguish this Union.
Dear friends:
On the eve of the tenth anniversary of this formidable partnership, we reiterate our congratulations, with the absolute confidence that the results of this decade and the decisions emanating from today's meeting will serve as a basis for continuing to promote and strengthen the sustainable economic development of all the nations involved, in the interests of greater prosperity for our peoples.  In this endeavor, you can always count on Cuba.
Thank you very much (Applause).