Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summary of News from Cuba

  • Cuban General Comptroller’s Office: The role of Managers and Staff in ensuring Internal Control
HAVANA, Cuba, June 20 (acn) Cuban General Comptroller Gladys Bejerano Portela told the weekly newspaper Trabajadores that management boards and staff are responsible for ensuring internal control in any Cuban enterprise.

Bejerano Portela, who is also vice president of the Council of State, recognized that most people holding administrative posts are hard-working and took the leadership of Cuban enterprises in difficult times but they may lack training and skills and can be influenced by dominant practices -such as a focus on production “no matter the means and costs.” Numbers are important, she said, but quality and good results are also vital. 

The Comptroller’s General Office has detected cases in which people have failed to fulfill their duties, but there are also enterprises boasting high production levels even if there are irregularities due to the lack of control. Education and training about these issues is crucial and relevant not only to the administrative boards but to staff, said Bejerano Portela. The General Comptroller’s Office plays an important role in updating the Cuban economic model; its mission is preserving the country’s resources by ensuring efficient economic and administrative management and preventing corruption and illegalities.

  • Washington: Over $20 Million earmarked for the new subversion project against Cuba  
HAVANA, Cuba, June 20 (acn) The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has released details of a new $21-million subversion project against Cuba targeting adolescents and youths between the ages of 12 and 24 years, aiming at interfering with social media in the Caribbean nation.

Tracey Eaton in her article investigating how Washington spends millions of US taxpayers’ dollars in “illegal and covert actions against Cuba” published in describes the program’s objective as “to increase opportunities for youth-to-youth interaction in Cuba, allowing the country’s young citizens to experience freedom of association and freedom of expression in social spaces organized outside state authority.”

Of the $21 million, $6 are earmarked for “programs aimed at increasing free expression among youth ages 12 to 24”, another $6 are to be used "expanding Internet use and increase access to information;” and $9 are to be spent “supporting neighborhood groups, cooperatives, sports clubs, church groups and other civil society organizations.”  Eaton recalls that on April 1, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., held up distribution of $20 million in deemed “democracy funds” for Cuba over questions about how the money was to be spent. The Miami Herald later reported on June 10 that the extreme right-wing anti-Cuba organization Freedom House was returning $1.7 million in funds because USAID asked too many questions about where the money was going.

Phil Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute -a research organization in Arlington, Virginia, told Eaton that it is unusual for organizations to return money to the federal government. It is “certainly understandable” that Freedom House is “extremely concerned” about protecting those people connected to its Cuba program, he said, “but if you step back from it, the group’s decision to return the money really reinforces that it carries out political operations in Cuba."
  • UN Recognizes Cuba’s Efforts and Results against Racism
HAVANA, Cuba (acn). Representatives of the UN recognized the efforts and advances of Cuba in the struggle against racist discrimination on Thursday (June 16).

Rolando Garcia, representative of the UN Population Fund, told Granma newspaper that Cuba is the leading country in Latin America regarding equal opportunities for all citizens. “These advances match the inclusive and participatory policies promoted and implemented by the Cuban State,” he added. “We can affirm in the case of Cuba that it solved the main problems of discrimination and managed to integrate everyone into society,” said Garcia. He was participating in the seminar “Cuba and Afro-Descendant Peoples in the Americas” at Havana’s Juan Marinello Cultural Research Institute.

Juan Jose Ortiz, representative in Cuba of the UN Children’s Fund, said that thousands of Afro-descendant children in the region suffer extreme poverty and its consequences. “Howeverthanks to the political will of the Cuban government, none of them lives in Cuba.” Ortiz also highlighted that Cuba and Norway are the countries with the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, and particularly extolled the results attained by Cuba in this regard considering that it does not have the same development and riches Norway has. Barbara Pesce, the resident coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, also pointed out that Cuba is an example in the struggle against racial discrimination.
  • Scorpion Breeding for Medical Purposes in Cuban Province
Ciego de Avila, Cuba, June 20 (Prensa Latina). The breeding of scorpions in captivity is moving forward as part of a national program to increase the production of medicine for treating cancer. Specialists of the Pharmaceutical Biological Laboratory (LABIOFAM) in Ciego de Avila extract venom from the Rhopalurus junceus scorpion, between 900 and 1,000 mL of the toxin are obtained monthly and sent to LABIOFAM in Havana for processing.

Each specimen can provide about 5 drops explained Madelin Hilacha, a quality control technician at the centre. The scorpions, captured from rocky, damp areas, especially in the cays north of Ciego de Avila, she explained, are classified and kept in containers with necessary water and food for about two years and then returned to their natural habitat.

The anticancer effect of their venom, discovered 20 years ago in Guantanamo, prompted more detailed research. The toxoid obtained from the scorpion venom has benefited thousands of Cuban and foreign patients (from Europe and Latin America) in the treatment of lung, breast, uterus, colon, prostate and pancreas cancer. The toxoid has also been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Restoration: U.S. expert lauds Cuban Professionalism
Havana, June 19 (Prensa Latina) U.S. restoration expert Walter Newman, director of paper conservation at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts, lauded the professionalism of the Cuban experts with whom he has collaborated since 1996 to restore and preserve national heritage.

"It has been a privilege to work here during all these years and I hope this cultural exchange will continue," Newman told Prensa Latina. "Cubans are very well prepared, they are very hardworking and dedicated" said Newman, one of 95 participants at the 13th International Colloquium on Ernest Hemingway at the Ambos Mundos Hotel in Havana. He feels lucky every time he is able to travel to Cuba, and regrets that the U.S. blockade of over 50 years against Cuba hinders bilateral exchange. "I feel privileged to be here."

Newman has coordinated the restoration of Hemingway's legacy at the Finca Vigia museum for several years. Cleaning and repairing papers damaged by the passing of time has been a difficult task that he has undertaken with great dedication. Newman has worked on manuscripts, letters, notebooks, books with corrections and personal documents that belonged to the author of The Old Man and the Sea. He also works daily on other patrimonial works of the US and the world, including engravings by Dutch painter Rembrandt and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, and documents on the history of U.S. baseball kept in the Hall of Fame in New Cork.

·        Germans Protest US Blockade against Cuba

Berlin, June 19 (Prensa Latina) Hundreds of activists with the Cuba solidarity movement in Germany demonstrated outside the Brandenburg Gate to protest the US economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba for over 50 years. The rally, under the slogan "50 Readings against 50 Years of Blockade," was organized by the Berlin-Cuba Friendship Association.

"We chose a centrally-located site in Berlin, the Pariser Platz (Paris Square), frequented by many people who go for a walk there, to tell people about Washington’s policy against Cuba," an activist told Prensa Latina. The Pariser Platz is located just between the Brandenburg Gate and the U.S. Embassy. The Berlin-Cuba Friendship Association carried out a similar action in 2001 on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. blockade against Cuba. This time, 50 well-known individuals and friends of Cuba read articles, essays and poems to express their rejection of the U.S. blockade.

·        Brazilians Reaffirm Solidarity with Cuba

Rio de Janeiro, June 19 (PL) Participants in the 6th Cuba Solidarity Conference approved an action plan to step up solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. The struggle to end the U.S. economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed on Cuba for over half a century and the immediate release of the Cuban Five -anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unjustly held in U.S. prisons, were the focus of proposals made during the event.

More than 100 Rio residents representing political parties, social, labor and peoples’ movements and the Association of Cuban Residents in Brazil, attended the two-day event held at the teachers’ union headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. Zuleide Faria de Melo, president of the Jose Marti Cultural Association and one of the organizers, extolled the example and dignity of the Cuban people in maintaining their Revolution undefeated, just 90 miles away from the United States.

Participants agreed to encourage the use of alternative media to help spread Cuban media reports and raise awareness about the cause of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino and Rene Gonzalez, internationally known as The Cuban Five. They also agreed to join an on-line global campaign on the 5th of every month, and to encourage people to take out a subscription to the Portuguese-language version of Granma International weekly to better understand Cuban and world reality.

There will be a monthly program of events in public centers, schools and universities to counteract the media campaign against the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban and letters sent to the Cuban heroes and, messages to U.S. president Barack Obama, the U.S. government and Congress. The Action Plan will be presented by the JMCA of Rio de Janeiro to the National Cuba Solidarity Conference in Sao Paulo on June 23-26, 2011.

  • July Event: Cuba Hosts Disaster Risk Assessment Conference
Havana, Jun 19 (Prensa Latina). The 3rd International Colloquium on Assessments of Hazard, Vulnerability and Risks for Disasters Reduction will take place in Cuba July 6-8. The Colloquium is part of the 8th International Convention on Environment and Development, opening on July 4 at the Havana Convention Center, includes conferences on protected areas, climatic change, ecosystems, biodiversity, education and environment and two colloquiums on environmental rights and environmental order. An exhibition fair will also be held for institutions and organizations to present technology, projects and experiences.

International specialists, academics, managers and people involved with natural, technological and sanitary hazards will exchange experiences on disasters reduction. The event will especially focus on the effects of climatic change, tropical storms and other extreme events, regression of the shoreline, drought, forest fires and other threats to small island states and coastal ecosystems. It includes lectures, panels, roundtables and poster sessions. Cuban specialists will present their experiences regarding the erosion of Cuban beaches, mangroves as protection against natural disasters, and the use of multiple-danger maps for disaster risk studies, among others.

Marathon of Hope in Cuba
·        Cuba Mourns Betty Fox

Havana, June 18 (Prensa Latina). Betty Fox, the mother of Terry Fox, died Friday June 17 in a health center of Chilliwack, BC, Canada. Betty has been an icon in the fight against cancer. In 2010, Betty, her husband Rolland, and her daughter Judith Fox-Alder (president of the Terry Fox Foundation) were present at the Terry Fox Run in Cuba, an immensely popular annual event. The run, organized by the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER), has been held every year since 1998.

Terry Fox, a national hero in Canada, was a bone cancer survivor whose leg was amputated when he was 18 years old. In 1980, he began running a "Marathon of Hope” to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Terry died at the age of 22 and his mother remained active in the fight against cancer and including Terry Fox Runs all over the world.