Cubans in Cuba

New rules for the regulation of the profit limit on purchases and tariff exemption are established

The Official Gazette No.57 published in its ordinary version, this Thursday, a group of Resolutions of the Ministries of Finance and Prices (MFP), Public Health (Minsap) and the General Customs of the Republic (AGR) that establish the regulation of the profit limit in the purchases of the state sector to the non-state sector and extend the tariff exemption for food, cleaning products, medical supplies and medicines.

July 8th, 2024

Author:  |

Photo: José Manuel Correa

The Official Gazette No.57 published in its ordinary version, this Thursday, a group of Resolutions of the Ministries of Finance and Prices (MFP), Public Health (Minsap) and the General Customs of the Republic (AGR) that establish the regulation of the profit limit in the purchases of the state sector to the non-state sector and extend the tariff exemption for food, cleaning products, medical supplies and medicines.
In the case of the first one, corresponding to Resolution 209 of the MFP, the head of the agency, Vladimier Regueiro Ale, explained to Granma that it seeks to order the containment of expenses incurred by state entities in their economic relations with non-state management forms.
With the entry into force of the regulation on July 1st, only prices and tariffs that recognize up to a 30% profit margin or profit on goods and services acquired from the non-state sector, whether self-employed, MSMEs or Non-Agricultural Cooperatives, will be accepted.
He added that it is a way to order and optimize the resources generated from the budgeted sector.
"We have seen in recent times a concentration of payments increasing, even, financing for the acquisition of goods and services. This requires attention and it is being recognized up to 30%, which is a significantly beneficial profit margin for this first moment of orderly relations", he highlighted.
Regueiro Ale affirmed that the norm demands an exchange, a greater approach and review of what is contracted today; besides creating the basis for future contracting.
It is not a matter, he said, of limiting this relationship, but of establishing them with a better order in terms of prices, implying the reaffirmation of the use of price sheets and other established mechanisms that sometimes do not complement each other, such as the agreement of prices, bidding and the search for better offers in the territory.
He remarked that the regulation includes a training that has been extended to the economic and accounting teams of the Central State Administration Agencies, the local bodies of the People's Power and that it should also involve the non-state economic actors themselves who are service providers to the state sector.
Regueiro Ale insisted on the importance of keeping the accounting as established, which can be done with own resources, with the automated national systems, with accounting advice that can be obtained from other forms of non-state management or also from professional services provided by state entities according to the complexity of the operations.
He clarified that, previously, Resolution 148 of the MFP established the profit margins for the state sector and, in this case, it is adjusted between the state sector and the non-state sector.
The Minister emphasized that this measure also favors the containment of expenses from the budgeted sector, consistent with the macroeconomic stabilization program to improve fiscal results.
On the other hand, as from July 1st, the exemption from payment of the customs tax on products imported by passengers as accompanied baggage corresponding to food, toiletries, medical supplies and medicines will be in effect until September 30th.
It also authorizes, on an exceptional and temporary basis, the non-commercial import of food, toiletries, medicines and medical supplies up to a limit of USD 500 in value or equivalent weight and 50 kg in the value/weight ratio established by the AGR.
In the case of air, sea and postal shipments of imports by individuals, the limit of USD 200 or equivalent weight up to 20 kg is maintained.
Likewise, the increase of the value limit from 200 USD to 500 USD is maintained and the exemption from customs tax for the first 30 USD of the value or its equivalent weight of 3 kilograms of the shipment is ratified, and a tariff rate of 30% is applied to the excess of this.
All the provisions apply on the condition that the items classified as food or toiletries, as well as those identified as medicines and medical supplies, are presented to Customs in separate packages from the rest of the products.
These benefits, remarked the Minister, are based on the existing limitations in the domestic market to acquire them.
At the same time, he said, border controls continue to be reinforced to face a group of violating behaviors of people who, under the protection of these benefits, use them for lucrative business, which is not the meaning of these regulations.

The Prodegan Project, Camagüey, Cuba.

The most efficient projects are those multiplying their own experiences while increasing productivity.

Photo: Freddy Pérez Cabrera


The Prodegan Project is a Prolaif sustainable agro-industrial development project implemented in four municipalities in the province of Camagüey, Cuba with the goal of generalizing knowledge of new technologies while creating value chains, developing agroecological approaches, promoting energy transformations, and improving coping with the effects of climate change.

 Maury Hechavarría Bermúdez, Vice Minister of Agriculture, explained that the development of the sector is marked by shortage of inputs because of a lack of financing to acquire them. There are also additional deficiencies generated by a complex international scenario and the effects of the US blockade of Cuba.

  Prolaif is managed to work in sync with the Cooperative Livestock Development objectives in the Central-Eastern Region (Prodegan) and it has benefited some 10,000 producers.

 Hechavarría Bermúdez explained that they have already mobilized needed funds so the biggest challenge now is to increase production and to focus on products reaching the people.  Projects such as Prolaif – an initiative financed by the European Union and executed by the French Agency for Development (AFD) – contribute to transform local food systems, and on this occasion, to strengthening also banking systems.

 The Director for Cuba of AFD, Jean-Marc Liger, explained that among the main results of Prodegan are increased yield in liters of milk per cow. For example, cattle farmers whose animals previously produced 600 liters are now obtaining more than three times that amount. He added that they were  also able to increase production on more than 2,000 hectares of land and pointed out that the most positive result has been in the management of knowledge and the connection to research institutes which has allowed producers to receive training so they can better manage their farms.

June 10th, 2024
Sancti Spiritus kept alive by its people.
Five hundred and ten years later, modernity has not been able to end the colonial
enchantment of the villa that time continues to knit day by day.

Pastor Batista Valdés |
May 10th , 2024

I depict it street by street, square by square - and between "fiñes" who skate, young
people who laugh at who knows what, or get completely lost inside the belly of a
modern cell phone, touts who proclaim and advertise their products, couples who lull
each other with the flutter of pigeons, old people who talk next to the same colonial
window grille in which an eternity ago they conquered the current grandmother of
common grandchildren - Sancti Spiritus seems to me the 24 frames of a cinematic
second, multiplied millions of times in time.

Could it be that nothing, or very little, has changed within its noble people in the midst of
so much “changing modernity”? Perhaps there is a mysterious spell keeping like the
cheeks of a very young woman the urban, architectural features of a city that in a few
weeks will complete the 510th anniversary of its foundation, but feels as if it were just
about to celebrate its first 15 years.

I travel through the same places as my adolescence and I wouldn’t have enough space
to write about what no one can avoid: the majesty of the Main Parish Church, with its
legends associated to tunnels and secret passages of religious interconnection; or the
impressive arched bridge over the Yayabo River, the only one of its kind in Cuba, whose
enviable state of conservation has long been attributed to the no less legendary popular
hypothesis that it was built with lime and sand mortar, cow’s or donkey’s milk and bull’s

It is impossible to ignore the Palacio de Valle, today the Museum of Colonial Art;
the majestic building of the Spanish Colony; the former El Progreso Society, now home
to the Ruben Martinez Villena Provincial Library; cobblestone streets in the colonial
taste and style, as well as the reddish tile roofs, facades of houses or the large windows
and other decisive elements to declare the historic center a National Monument on
October 10, 1978.

If only today the economic and financial conditions were a little, just a little more
favorable, to see -no one doubts it- how much more Sancti Spiritus was doing these
days, as a well-deserved gift to its first 510 years.

Even so, government authorities and politicians of the municipality and province do not
limit their efforts to leave the mark that the people of Sancti Spiritus deserve so much in
all places where possible, including some 89 plaques and monuments.

For this reason, no one should be concerned that, with few resources but overflowing
passion, the program for the anniversary has conceived a very useful Convention Hall in
the middle of the boulevard, suitable for transcending borders; the repair or
improvements of buildings such as the one that houses the Café Central, the legendary
Rubi Building, the Quinto Siglo store and other facilities that treasure history, generate
healthy pride, and accentuate a sense of belonging.

I’m not talking about those who made up the program, control every detail of it, or
execute it with clean sweat. I think of those who have sedimented the very rich heritage
of a people -the sum of generations and families – that vibrates when the youngest child
graduates from medicine or nuclear engineering, without forgetting or underestimating
the hand that has been weaving guano for centuries, modeling clay, strengthening
tunes, giving life to the rodeo on the back of a bull, putting the exact point to the
canchánchara (mambisa drink). Saving trios, dances, traditions or recognizing how
fresh a T-shirt is but, gee, how elegant that guayabera born in the yayabera land of
Sancti Spiritus.

Five centuries and ten years are completed only once in a lifetime. Sancti Spiritus is
crowning them with the particularity of being the only Cuban colonial town with a Latin
name and one of the best preserved, as well as Trinidad, founded months before, also
by the pioneer colonizer Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar.

That is why, as I walk and re-walk my, your, our Sancti Spiritus, small butterflies flutter
inside my abdomen as I look at ancient buildings that amaze visitors from even much
older cities.

Even so, I will always stay with the pigeons that, even without knowing it, every true
Sancti Spiritus person carries inside flying in the infinite space of his chest,
unquestionable reason to preserve the many values of all kinds the villa carries.
And I will stick with that Gloria a ti” slogan of the 510th anniversary, which can climb and
land without difficulty at the top of the Main Church, or accommodate at its beautiful
whim, within the rib cage of the always hospitable inhabitants of the Villa of the Holy


Cuba turns to Aquaponics 

to solve food shortages

From: CGTN America


To move forward Cuba must look to itself

-with wisdom and a lot of effort.

Diaz-Canel and Morales Ojeda’s message during their visit to Minas de Matahambre (Pinar del Rio) and Bauta (Artemisa), Monday March 25, 2024.

Alina Perera Robbio


At the UBPC Los Burros (Pinar del Río) Díaz-Canel assured people that producing more food will strike a blow to inflation affecting the country. “We must look deep into the archipelago, into the land, into the intelligence of Cubans…It is there that we find the best guarantee to solve our country's demands and problems. The less we depend on imports, the stronger and more capable we will be in achieving efficiency and sovereignty.”


The above concept was the prevailing axis during the tour of Miguel Diaz-Canel, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, this Monday afternoon when he visited the municipality of Bauta, Artemisa province.


It was not by chance that in the first item on the agenda, basic business unit (UEB) in charge of the Roberto Escudero Pharmaceutical Laboratory Company – Diaz-Canel spoke about the need for “research on raw materials that we can replace" and on the “value of improving the presentation of our products” ensuring Cuban people trust in what we make in Cuba.


Marlene Dominguez Alfonso, director of the UEB, explained to the President, the Political Bureau and Secretary of Organization Roberto Morales Ojeda, and the authorities of the territory, details on the main tasks occupying the UEB, a productive entity. The year 2024 will be as complex as previous years but thanks to a group of strategies the Company and UEB follow, they will make up for the deficit of raw materials faced.  Although substituting imports is not an easy task, it is an urgent one and in 2023 we were able to substitute three national raw materials (beeswax, corn starch and mint) explained Marlene, who added that such substitution saved Cuba 2.5 million pesos.


For 2024, UEB plans to venture into Natural and Traditional Medicine. “Taking into account the deficit of medicines the country has today, we are talking about a good branch, for which we have the required productive and technological capacities, and trained personnel.” Dominguez Alfonso referred with pride to the products that UEB produces today, like the gel for ultrasounds with which UEB is prioritizing the program for mother and child health. They are also repackaging bicarbonate for hemodialysis -one of the sensible products for our health sector.


The second stop on the itinerary for Bauta was the UEB responsible for dairy products Julio Antonia Mella, or as it is better known, Balkan. Instability in the supply of raw materials is having a negative impact in production, particularly in the production of milk. This challenge, that other areas in Cuba also face, requires initiative, incentives, and alternative roads if we are to fulfil demand while focusing mainly on our own strength.


The Institute of Grain Research is involved in a similar search. Diaz-Canel talked with Daysbel Toledo Diaz, director of Science, Innovation and Development of the mentioned institute. Both agreed on a strategic purpose that guarantees varieties that would increase agricultural production.  “Beyond rice, corn and beans, we are working in soya, peanut and sesame seeds -oil producing plants, as well as on sorghum and legumes like chickpeas.”  The work of the Institute guarantees food for people as well as animal feed. Toledo Diaz explained they try resistant varieties that adapt well to our soils and climate and exhibit good yields. He added that “our varieties are resistant and proven effective in all Cuba.”


Listening to Toledo Diaz, attentive to his sense of belonging and the extent of his knowledge and energy, we had total clarity about Cuba’s need for many engineers like him, focused on improvement and without doubts that Cuba will find its best and more sustainable riches “within itself.”


Agricultura production: a permanent challenge for Cubans.

This is not the first time Díaz-Canel shares the conviction that together we can move Cuba forward. This Monday when he arrived to the municipality of Minas de Matahambre (in Pinar del Rio), he recalled the most decisive variable in challenging times: our will, the will of human beings.

During this, his third visit this year to Pinar del Río, Diaz-Canel emphasized the need to increase production as the most direct way to reverse many of the difficulties we face in Cuba. He pointed, for example, that more food produced will deal blows to the inflation affecting everyone so much.

Reflecting on this idea at the Basic Cooperative Production Unit (UBPC) Los Burros, part of the Tobacco Collection and Processing Company, executives explained that, in spite of having closed 2023 with profits UBPC has vast potentialities to increase profits as the land is only 70% exploited. Cattle raising is what the workers want, and need, to make incursions in.

On his way through Minas de Matahambre, Díaz-Canel stopped at the Sumidero popular council to exchange with people living there: "Together we can move the country forward," he told those present.

At the Centro de Escogida v-10-66, Diaz-Canel shared his certainty that only by uniting all efforts we will be able to overcome the challenges we face. This centre belongs to the Empresa de Acopio y Beneficio del Tabaco, where the President was interested in salaries paid, profits obtained and presence of young people in the labor group.

At UEB Silvícola Forestal Sumidero, the third stop in our president itinerary, we learned that this institution ended last calendar year with few profits reason why their goal is to diversify production planting fruit trees, extracting resin and producing charcoal. There, the president spoke about how 2024 must be the year "to get up" and then to the workers -you, the workers, must have all the opportunities to discuss the process because working we will move forward.

The tour was closed with the meeting of the country's leadership with leaders of the municipality and the province, followed by an exchange between the President and the people waiting for him in the vicinity of the venue. The Head of State spoke about "compression" on the path that goes from an unfavorable situation to success, and insisted on the importance of production. To the children of Minas, the President ratified the potentialities of the Cuban people, those born from creativity.

Regarding the enemies who recently orchestrated a media attack against the Cuban Revolution, he reasoned that they dream of the disappearance of the Revolution, they are devoid of motivation and understanding.

The Head of State spoke of "understanding” the path from an unfavorable situation to success, insisting on the crucial importance of production. To the children of Minas, the President ratified the potential of the Cuban people, born from creativity.

Regarding the enemies who recently orchestrated a media attack against the Cuban Revolution, he reasoned that those who dream of the disappearance of the Revolution, are devoid of motivation and commitment to the people and its possible successes.

"We are in a complex situation, but we are going to overcome it," and he spoke again of the “we” -the word in which the key to all synergy and triumph dwells.


First medical institution in Cuba with international certification

Founded by the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and inaugurated on November 15, 1999, the ELAM was awarded this distinction, valid for six years, for complying with rigorous quality parameters

Author:  |

january 26, 2024 07:01:56

Photo: José Manuel Correa

Founded by the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and inaugurated on November 15, 1999, the ELAM was awarded this distinction, valid for six years, for complying with rigorous quality parameters

Author: National Editor

The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) became the first medical institution in Cuba to receive the Certification of the International Evaluation and Accreditation Council of the Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Founded by the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and inaugurated on November 15, 1999, the ELAM was awarded this distinction, valid for six years, for complying with rigorous quality parameters with impact on the dimensions of governance and university management and infrastructure, training, research, artistic creation and innovation, and linkage and internationalization, as explained by the Ministry of Public Health.

The rector of the institution, Dr. Yoandra Muro Valle, summarized the greatness of a work that already has 19 graduations and has reached more than 120 countries. Throughout its 25 years, the School has also been visited by 60 heads of state, 300 ministers of health, three Nobel Prize winners and more than 80,100 foreigners.

The Executive Director of the Council for International Evaluation and Accreditation of the Union of Latin American and Caribbean Universities, Dr. Orlando Gabriel Delgado Salley, highlighted the strengthening achieved in the improvement plans for the faculty, student participation in decision making, the updating of the bibliography in the subject programs, and the improvement of access to technological resources, as well as the contribution to universal health in different contexts.

Cuba's Minister of Public Health, José Angel Portal Miranda, thanked the rigorous process to which this center was subjected, and acknowledged the efforts of the teachers, students and administrative staff.

The international certification guarantees the quality of the education provided by this center, reduces possible mistrust and expands the opportunities for graduates of higher education institutions to enter the labor market.


Heroic people's strength for a new anniversary

More than 400 works of socioeconomic interest will be delivered to the infrastructure of the province of Santiago de Cuba, in salute to the 65th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution

Author:  |

December 11, 2023 12:12:00

Heroic people's strength for a new anniversary
Photo: Granma

More than 400 works of socioeconomic interest will be delivered to the infrastructure of the province of Santiago de Cuba, in salute to the 65th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution

"In a matter as decisive as food security and sovereignty, we are planting 65,000 hectares and 18 new areas of agricultural development, two per municipality, and carrying out a significant number of works, to reach the 65th anniversary of the Revolution with improvements in the quality and standard of living of the people of Santiago," said José Ramón Monteagudo Ruiz, first secretary of the Party in the province, when he called the people to days of decisive effort.

In the first semester of the year, the infrastructure of the territory was revitalized, as agreed for the 70th anniversary of the assault to the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks; and in the present stage, the completion of 1,355 houses and 479 basic housing cells is foreseen; to continue in the transformation of neighborhoods and communities, and in the application of asphalt on roads, highways and, especially, in the populous areas of Enramadas, Callejón del Carmen, La Alameda, Artes y Oficios, and 13 de Agosto.

Work was also carried out in the repair of the Dos Ríos power plant, in the planting and cultural attention to the sugar cane fields, in the image of the towns and cities - in the case of Palma Soriano important revival works are being carried out, given its relevance in the events that determined the revolutionary triumph -, and in the centers of commerce, gastronomy and services, as well as educational and health institutions. Likewise, in the 26th of July and First Front museums, and in the Céspedes Park, where, on January 1, 2024, the central act for the 65th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution will take place.


U$S 280.2 million could have benefitted Cuba...

But did not. Why? 

Because the Cuban banking and financial system continues to be a target of aggressive measures of the US Government reinforcing its Blockade against Cuba.

October 31st, 2023         Editorial |

 The Cuban banking and financial system continued to be one of the main targets of the aggressive measures of the US Government, aimed at reinforcing the economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Island.

 Between 2022 and 2023, the monetary-financial damages caused to the Cuban economy due to this cause exceeded 280.2 million dollars, which will be reported before the United Nations General Assembly on November 1st and 2nd.

 The most recent report from the Cuban Foreign Ministry on the impacts of the blockade indicates a significant increase in the refusal of foreign banking and financial institutions to carry out transactions with Cuban banks and companies.

 Closing of previously established accounts and contracts, the constant return of bank transactions and the cancellation of keys for the exchange of financial information through SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), are among the recurring actions.

 Restrictions on the use of the US dollar in transactions abroad also persist, as well as the impossibility of using the US financial system in cases where a Cuban entity is the origin or destination of the transfers.

 As a result of the pressure, intimidation and dissuasion exerted by the US Government on international financial institutions, new obstacles have been implemented, such as the request for additional documents, which generates delays and limits the execution of payments.

 Some 130 foreign banks that refused to carry out operations with Cuban banks for various reasons (75 from Europe, 21 from America and 34 from the rest of the world), affected a total of 267 operations.

 There were also numerous reports of Cubans residing abroad who face the refusal of their banks to operate or make transfers related to the country, regardless of their location in the world.

 The validity of the sanctions against Fincimex, a Cuban non-banking financial institution, affects the volumes of remittances sent from the US through Western Union, after the closure of all the branches of Western Union in Cuba in November 2020.


 Food Industry: Cuba has more than 800 factories capable of producing a variety of safe quality products for internal consumption. 

Blocked access to raw materials is limiting Cuban productive capacity.


Editorial |

 October 30, 2023 18:10:31

 Cuban industry has capacity for receiving 1,500,000 liters of milk daily that can be processed, packaged and delivered to the population. Manuel Sobrino Martinez, head of the Food Industry Ministry stated, during a Round Table space that "Despite financial limitations, the Cuban Food Industry built by the Revolution today has sufficient capacity to significantly increase the supply of food for our people."

 Cuban more than 800 factories, dedicated to the transformation of raw materials, make it possible for varied, quality and safe products to reach the people. Sobrino Martinez pointed out several specific productive lines in which Cuba has particular strengths. Production of wheat flour, for example, is one of them. According to the Minister, Cuba has installed capacity today to process about 730,000 tons of wheat flour annually -a rate of 1,500 tons per day while the consumption rate is approximately of 700 tons per day.

 "However, the availability to produce different products the population need does not depend on productive capacity alone" he stated. He pointed out that current Cuban reality implies that a large part of these capacities are not being used, despite our food industry development plan designed to cover this industry until 2030. In the last three years, he explained, the decrease in production has been notable.

 Some of the factors mentioned have to do, logically, and in first place, with the economic blockade of the United States.  But there are additional factors including the impact of the pandemic on food prices and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict which, with impacted Europe and also reflected in the price of food. Specifically, in relation to the war conflict, he explained that a significant number of raw materials were received from that geographical area and the conflict has made everything more complex "price, availability and, above all, transportation."

 Another example within the food industry he addressed had to do with milk production, this industry has capacity to receive 1,500,000 liters of milk daily and can package and deliver to its market of about 500,000 people. Cuba can also produce 60,200 gallons of ice cream daily, a very limited food item in recent months, he clarified. And there is also industrial capacity for 100,000 liters of yogurt per day.

 He added that, thanks to the Soy Diversification and Extension Program, capacities were created for about 530,000 liters of soy milk per day, yogurt, and other products connected to it all of which are of high nutritional value and great acceptance by the people.

 In relation to the meat industry, he pointed out that 18,000 tons of live cattle and 16,000 ton of pork can be received per month. The meat industry has installed capacity, technology and personnel to produce approximately 170,000 tons of minced meat and sausages per year.

 "To have an idea, this capacity would imply being able to provide six times more than what we provide today as part of the regulated family basket and which we know does not meet the nutritional requirements of our people but that is what we can reach at this moment.”

Sobrino Martinez explained that these are not subjective plans, but rather figures that were reached in 2017, 2018 and part of 2019.  Relative to another product that is highly in demand and in deficit today, such as soft drinks, he assured that there is capacity for about 30 million cases per year. We always face particular challenges because our country does not have access to financing and has to pay almost everything in advance and, furthermore, when a contract is signed, and due to the limitations of the blockade, the money takes up to 60 days to become effective. In the supplier's banks, it is difficult to guarantee the logistics to produce food. And yet, Cuba will continue ensuring that our focus remains avoiding neoliberal measures that guarantee food supply to a tiny percentage of the population while leaving the rest completely unprotected. 

Cuba calls Anti-imperialist Solidarity Conference for Democracy and against Neoliberalism
Havana will again serve as a meeting place for those who defend peace, solidarity, and justice, November 1-3
september 26, 2019 10:09:21

Canvases for peace. Photo:

To discuss the needed articulation of movements, organizations and groups focused on the struggle against imperialism, the Cuban Social Movement Coalition has called an Anti-imperialist Solidarity Conference for Democracy and against Neoliberalism, November 1-3, in Havana’s International Conference Center.
Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau and secretary general of the Federation of Cuban workers, described the event as a broad, massive mobilization of the regional and world left to support our Revolution.
“Cuba is again a meeting place for those who defend peace, solidarity among peoples, justice, and democracy based on the true power of the progressive masses,” the Cuban leader stated, emphasizing that the event will propitiate debate and interaction around a program of concrete action to condemn the brutal economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed unilaterally by the U.S. government.
He said it will be an opportunity to build and reinforce unity among these forces, to continue the struggle for systematic change in the face of a capitalist offensive to impose neocolonialism, racism, and other forms of discrimination.
To be considered is the media war launched by imperialism, along with our own creative communicational strategies to provide accurate information.
Five work groups will meet during the event to gather opinions and initiatives to oppose belligerent U.S. foreign policies, that has led to armed conflicts is all parts of the planet. An open tribunal will be held in a Havana neighborhood, and one group will meet at the Latin American School of Medicine to learn about Cuba’s solidarity in the academic training of youth from around the world.
Some 1,000 delegates are expected, from all continents, along with representatives from the Cuban Social Movement Coalition, which includes the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Workers, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation of Cuban Women, the Cuban Peace Movement, and the Martin Luther King Center, among others.

 Cuban soils face degradation and 
await greater farmers' productivity

Cuban soils face degradation and await greater farmers’ productivity
Ivet Gonzalez IPS

Few people know Carlos Manuel Borrero by name. Even in his own neighbourhood, at the San Miguel del Padron municipality, on the periphery of the Cuban capital, they call him the “Rubber Man” because his planting beds are made of old tires.

La Melisa, his farm, offers a challenging landscape with its almost two thousand vehicle tires that cover most of its 4.28 hectares located over a slope and stone and sand quarry that Borrero and his wife, Dunia Rivas, manage in keeping with a sustainable mode of agriculture that helps them improve the low productivity of their soil. Because of this and other problems the couple, established there for 17 years, started experimenting with recycling and alternative ecological techniques for the past 2 years. They managed to make their small production of fruits, vegetables and herbs profitable, and, as they argue, the innovations led to an increase of 70 % of their production.  “This is a highly degraded soil on top of a slope” Borrero explains discussing soil degradation as the main environmental challenge of the land he owns in San Miguel, one of 15 municipalities surrounding Havana.  It is also a challenge for all Cuba and its 11.2 million inhabitants as low productivity of foodstuff affects everybody; Cuban production covers less than 30 % of people’s total needs in this crucial area.

Borrero uses most of the tires to make high beds for planting --three tires on top of each other filled with soil where to grow cabbage and tarragon. Other tires are piled in an area were nothing is growing yet; they are being treated weekly to protect them from becoming contaminated while they await being re-used. Borrero and Diaz represent a small segment of Cuban farmers concerned with soil conservation and engaged in sustainable agriculture. Most farmers are still unaware of the importance and value of caring for the soil and favoring sustainable agricultural methods.

Living with soil degradation
Cuba, with a total surface of almost 110 000 square kilometers (or 10. 9 million hectares), has about 57% of the land (or 6.22 million hectares) dedicated to agriculture.  According to the Cuban Land Institute (IS, Instituto de Suelos) of total Cuban agricultural land almost 77% faces some challenge to productivity (erosion 43%, compactness 14%, lack of organic matter 70%, salinity 14%, low humidity retention 37%, low fertility 45%, stones 12% and inefficient drainage 40%).

In Cuba more than 30% of agricultural lands is in the hands of state businesses and farms; 45% is worked by agricultural coops and 24% belong to small farmers such as Borrero and Diaz here in La Melissa.  The National Program for the Improvement and Conservation of Soils (Ministry of Agriculture) has since 2001 improved, and continues to improve soils one way or another, but there is still much to do. In 2012, there were 737 000 hectares of agricultural surface registered and receiving some type of improvement, this number grew to 932 000 hectares in 2016 (as reported by the National Office of Statistics and Information) but such environmental advance represents benefits for 15% of the agricultural land and more than 22% of the cultivated land of the country, but much remains to be done.

Borrero explains that, In his intensive farm and within its beds “there is natural soil from this area which I constantly improve enriching it with organic matter from waste or leftovers from my own produce.”  Now the tires with crops cover about 0.7 hectares of his total farmland, but Borrero hopes to take more space with a peculiar design that will fill with soil only the top tire while long bands of rubber in the center serve to filter water and lead to improved use of this resource.

Women are also present
Using creative forms, the tires decorate the garden of a humble family where Rivas had the idea of using tires as flower pots to save water. Then Rivas asked Borrero for help making larger beds with tires for planting, substituting this way less durable barriers they used (such as plastic bottles) to make terraces and cultivate crops, the idea emerged.

“There were problems with water, we did not have good beds and we worked really hard but our work did not paid well…so I started to think” she remembered. They humanized their work too using higher beds so they did not have to bend so much when planting and caring for their crops.
The couple has not met other farmers recycling tires like they do but they know many farmers in their community work at improving their land asking specialists for proper evaluations so they also qualify for monies from state funding for the environmental work they do.

Supporting Farmers
In the urban surrounding areas of Havana, Egidio Paez, president of the NGO Cuban Association of Technicians in Agriculture and Forestry (ACTAF in Spanish) which brings together more than 2600 technicians, explained that more than 90% of producers are committed to some form of work to improve the soil.  ACTAF focus is on increasing knowledge favoring ecological agriculture. It has more than 25 000 members in Cuba.  According to Paez the first challenge in managing soil is lack of knowledge, which is followed by lack of interest so their work is increasing interest on ecological practices. ACTAF provides support to farmers responsible for producing 15 tons of vegetables from 35 000 hectares of land that surround Havana.

We need more time and we have to work harder to improve our soils, Paez argues, soil is the most valuable resource of any country according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Producers know how to improve soils…We have shortcomings and changes in our practices to make and we need to follow up with producers and there are also challenges connected to bad practices that are entrenched in conventional agriculture.  At the same time that we are teaching, however, we need to make drastic decisions ensuring state regulations are at the level of scientific advances and in keeping with decisions made to transform Cuban agriculture.

We have to nourish the soil with organic matter, as recommended by the Cuban Institute of Land, we can use leftovers from the crops, organic fertilizers, compost and worm humus; we have to reduce farming, make contention walls and live barriers (with plants), and we have to include areas of woods and forests, all these are among the best practices for healthy soils.  Since 2010, the Cuban Institute of Land, is installing demonstrating places to show in practice how to manage the soil, water and woods and forests in a variety of ecosystems in the Cuba. There were 34 such sites in 2016, including 845 farms, which benefited more than 12 thousand hectares of land.  For the first time in 2017 the Agency of the Environment in Cuba offered a prize and a certification of areas started in sustainable soil and land management, this is a good way to encourage farmers towards conservation.

(Translated from Spanish by Nora Fernandez)

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