Uruguayan President Criticizes Coup Attempt in Venezuela

President Mujica compared the strategy being employed in Venezuela with that used previously in Ukraine.

jose mujica y nicolas maduroThe outgoing president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, stated on Friday that foreign interference in Venezuela constitutes a coup attempt.

Mujica compared the efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro with the strategy employed in other countries such as Serbia, Ukraine and a number of Arab countries.

Tactics being applied in Venezuela for regime change

The Uruguayan president stated that the tactics described by U.S. academic Gene Sharp are being applied in Venezuela. Sharp’s ideas largely deal with regime change, which Mujica claims were successfully used for the first time in Serbia and subsequently used during the so-called Arab spring and to topple the government in Ukraine last year.

Mujica, who will leave his post on Sunday, made his comments during his radio program. His government’s foreign minister, Luis Almagro, previously has rejected in the domestic affairs of Venezuela, saying that he sees democracy in Venezuela as a “fundamental instrument for stability in the region.”

Source: Uruguayan President Criticizes Coup Attempt in Venezuela  TeleSUR

Cuba to be removed from US’ list of sponsors of terrorism

The move could happen as early as April paving the way for diplomatic embassies in Washington and Havana.  

josepjina vidal et alThe United States responded positively to Cuba’s call to be taken off from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a condition put forward by Havana before embassies could be opened in their respective capitals.

Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said on Friday during a press conference that her country is reviewing the terror list and will remove Cuba from it before April to pave the way for better ties between both nations.

“We are going to do that as quickly as we can in accordance with the requirements of the law, but we see that and the establishment of diplomatic relations as separate processes,” Jacobson said.

The Cuban government has insisted that diplomatic relations cannot exist while one country has the other one on a list of sponsors of terrorism.

A list that Cuba has never belonged to

“For us it would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the U.S. have re-established normal diplomatic relations while Cuba is kept in that list that we believe we have never belonged to,” said Josefina Vidal, director of Cuban Foreign Ministry’s North American affairs office, who is heading her country’s delegation in the talks.

Both Jacobson and Vidal said the two sides also worked out details of upcoming bilateral technical meetings over the next few weeks on issues such as smuggling, direct civil aviation and prevention of immigration fraud.

Cuba and the United States announced in December that they agreed to restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of frosty and sometimes hostile confrontations.

Both representatives in the second round of talks that took place Friday in Washington said they made good progress, although they did not set a date for renewal of diplomatic relations that Washington severed 54 years ago, imposing an illegal blockade on the island nation.

Dialogue to be continued

Vidal expressed a willingness to continue the dialogue in order to re-establish diplomatic relations.

“We are confident that there can be civilized relations and coexistence between Cuba and the United States and that we would be able to recognize and respect our difference so that as neighbors we can identify areas of mutual interest to cooperate for the benefit of our two countries, the region and world,” Vidal stated.

​These most recent talks continue the dialogue initiated by the parties on January 22 in Havana, Cuba and are a key step in implementing the new direction in U.S.-Cuba relations announced by President Obama on December 17, 2014.

Source:  Cuba to Be Removed from US’ List of Sponsors of Terrorism TeleSUR

Opening the international transfer market to Cuban footballers

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the Cuban Football Association (CFA) and government officials, have taken a major step towards the opening of the international transfer market to the island.

cuba footballThe aim of the initiative is for local players to be able to properly transfer from Cuban clubs to clubs abroad.  To assist in the process, CONCACAF held a two-day seminar on February 19 and 20 in Habana, with the intension of supporting the CFA in its efforts to achieve the major developmental milestone in Cuban football history.

“This significant occasion represents the first step to open new horizons for football’s growth in Cuba,” said FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb.

“We hope the international transfer market will provide Cuban players with unique opportunities to display their extraordinary talent in the international arena.  Local players will be able to further develop their skill and inspire younger generations to follow their passion for football.”

Cuba FAThe seminar, attended by representatives from the CFA and government officials, covered multiple subjects, from contractual stability, underage player protection, player registration, and training and formation mechanisms, with the aim of explaining the steps necessary to assist in the opening of Cuba’s international transfer market.  In addition, CONCACAF gave advice on how to create a registry and database of Cuban players, while obtaining guidance on training mechanisms.

Source: CONCACAF and the Cuban Football Association in Efforts to Prepare an International Transfer Market  periodico26.cu

Qatar: Conditions of migrant workers are slave-like, FIFA silent


Construction union UCATT slammed FIFA yesterday for once again ignoring the plight of migrant workers in Qatar after a task force announced that the tournament should be moved to the winter.

To move the tournament to November would get around playing in the summer heat but the decision ignored the two million migrant workers who are being forced to work six days a week in temperatures that reach 55 degrees.

The condition of workers are like slaves

The conditions of workers are slave like, wages are often withheld from workers for months on end and pay can be as low as 56p an hour.

And under Qatar’s kafala system, their passports are removed and they cannot leave the country without their employers permission.

Over 1,400 construction workers from India and Nepal have died

Since the World Cup was questionably handed to Qatar in 2010, over 1,400 construction workers from India and Nepal have died and the total death rate of all migrant workers is likely far higher.

England, UK . 25.9.2013. Brighton . Labour Party Conference.UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy (photo) said: “Once again FIFA have chosen to worry about the health of footballers and not the health of the workers building what will be a blood-stained World Cup.”

The best of the bad options

Football Association chair Greg Dyke said the best option would have been to move the tournament away from Qatar but said the new proposal was “the best of the bad options.

“I have said from the start we cannot possibly play in the summer in Qatar, it would be ridiculous to play then.

“The best option would be to not hold it in Qatar but we are now beyond that so November/December would seem to be the best of the bad options.

“It will clearly disrupt the whole football calendar as it means club football stopping at the end of October.

“You might be able to keep the disruption to one season if you start earlier and end later but it’s going to be tough — and unnecessary because we would not be doing this if FIFA had done their work properly.”

UEFA failed to address the treatment of migrant workers

UEFA released a statement which supported the task force’s recommendation but again failed to address the treatment of migrant workers.

It said: “UEFA believes that — for the benefits of players and fans — the event should be played in winter and now awaits the final decision from the Fifa executive committee meeting.

“UEFA sees no major issues in rescheduling its competitions for the 2022/23 season, should the 2022 FIFA World Cup proposal be approved by the FIFA executive committee and UEFA acknowledges that the competition may be shortened and thus that the release period of players be reduced.”

Source:  FIFA Decision Ignores Migrant Workers Morning Star

Venezuelan Officials Present Evidence of Coup Plot

Officials presented recorded testimony from detainees, as well as recorded phone conversations between opposition party leaders.

Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado CabelloVenezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello presented evidence relating to the coup plot thwarted earlier in the month in a television broadcast Wednesday night.

Accompanied by Mayor of the Caracas municipality of Libertador Jorge Rodriguez, Cabello released recordings of testimony of one of the detained military officers, who acknowledged the coup plot and confirmed that he was offered visas by the embassies of the United States and the U.K.

In addition to the detailed confessions of the military official – who was recruited to fly a plane that was to undertake the bombing of key military and media targets in Caracas – the two government officials also played intercepted telephone conversations with leaders of the opposition COPEI party speaking about plans and debating participation in the plot.

Plans for the coup had been in motion since “last year”

In the first military official’s alleged confession, he claims that the plans for the coup had been in motion since “last year.” In terms of the planned date for the coup, he said there wasn’t one particularly, but that they were looking at Carnaval – a time when Venezuelans traditionally go to the beach and go on vacation. He also mentions a video that was aimed at “waking up” military officers.

The second soldier refers to sending the video to Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo, as well as to a foreign channel, “I don’t know which.”

COPEI’s President Antonio Ecarri and party Secretary Rogelio Diaz can alsoallegedly be heard discussing a transition plan that would have paved the way for a new government after the violent overthrow of Venezuela’sdemocratically elected president, Nicolas Maduro.

A second audio clip

A second audio clip allegedly shows COPEI’s regional leader for Lara state Jose Cassany and another top party official Antonio Sotillo had knowledge of a plot slated for Feb. 12 before it was dismantled by authorities earlier this month. The audio recording included comments that appeared to imply the plotters were relying on U.S. support.

During the audio clips, the plotters appeared to agree on a plan that would haveinvolved inciting violence in the streets of Venezuela, culminating in a series of coordinated attacks on government offices and other strategic sites around Caracas on Feb. 12, leading to the collapse of the government. The government has previously alleged the plotters intended to use a tucano aircraft to bomb the following sites in the capital:

  • – teleSUR headquarters (east Caracas)
  • – Headquarters of the Military Intelligence (DIM)
  • – Plaza Venezuela
  • – Metro station Zona Rental (center of Caracas)
  • – Ministry of Defense (center of Caracas)
  • – Caracas municipality building (west)
  • – Miraflores palace (national government and presidential headquarters)
  • – Public Prosecutor’s office (center of Caracas)

Plot was masterminded by opposition Caracas Mayor

Venezuelan authorities allege the plot was masterminded by opposition Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma. He was charged with sedition and conspiracyearlier this month.

The long-time opposition leader co-authored a “transition plan” with high-profile opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado one day beforethe failed coup plans were to take effect.

Since then, Venezuela’s government has vowed to track down everyone involved in the coup, with Maduro warning many of the opposition’s most prominent leaders were aware of the plot well in advance.

Venezuela has also condemn foreign governments it says backed the coup, including the United States, in the United Nations coup, including the United States.

Source: Venezuelan Officials Present Evidence of Coup Plot  

UN: Cuba is among the countries with the best women’s rights indicator

The high level of participation by women in Cuban society and the rights guaranteed by the Revolution to Cuban women place the island in a very favorable stand in the world, as it has been acknowledged by the United Nations, said a Cuban lawmaker.

arelys cuban women's federationsantanaSpeaking at the National Parliament, lawmaker Arelys Santana (photo) recalled that over 66 percent of the local professional labor force is made up by women, with more than 60 percent in public health.

Most judges, attorneys and lawyers are women, a fact that is not common in any other country, said the lawmaker who is also member of the Secretariat of the Cuban Women’s Federation.

Women stand for 58 percent of all scientists in the country and 48 percent of the Parliament deputies, she stressed.

haydee y celiavilma espin 3All these and other achievements are the fruit of constant care and action by the Cuban Revolution and its policies in favor of women.


Studies to find a vaccine against cholera are advanced in Cuba

vaccine oral choleraCuba is already in an advanced stage of clinical trials for the search for a vaccine against cholera, said Dr. Rafael Fando, from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNIC).  This is an oral vaccine with live microorganisms, Dr. Fando told reporters during a scientific symposium which was held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, in the framework of the recently concluded International Book Fair.

The vaccine candidate was not only able to protect individuals against cholera but also, to some important extent, against intestinal colonization, said the researcher.

CENIC scientists, the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine and the Finlay Institute conducted studies of the new vaccine, which in their expert opinion, could not only prevent the disease but also the spread of pathogenic entity that it brings.

The 16th International Scientific Congress of the National Centre for Scientific Research

cnic 2015 logoRecently also, Dr. Blanca Hung Llamos, Director General of CNIC announced the 16th International Scientific Congress of the National Centre for Scientific Research to be held from 22 to 26 June 2015 at the Convention Center of Havana, Cuba.  Dr Llamos noted that “every five years, this meeting brings together a large number of national and foreign specialists with the aim to not only discuss the topics developed by the institution, but also to exhibit innovative products and technologies of the medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries.”

Science as a productive force

The National Center for Scientific Research (CNIC) was the first major institution in Cuba created to address the different fields of science, in order to change the traditional criteria of academic science and become a productive force. Dedicated to scientific research, with a high development in the areas of natural, biomedical science and technology, the center’s mission is to solve biomedical and technological problems of economic importance and / or social development of the country, with scientific rigor and quality for creating advanced and competitive products for the world market.

Image: Cuban former President Fidel Castro visits National Center of Scientific Research

(Fidel during his visit to the National Center of Scientific Research in Havana, Cuba, 07 July 2010)

To ensure this, the institution does work in the research, production and marketing of its main products.

More than 25,000 specialists trained and 7 research centers of excellence have emerged

The training of human resources is an integral part of this mission. The IASB has trained more than 25,000 specialists and 7 research centers of excellence have emerged within it. In turn, it is among the five Cuban institutions with scientific production recorded in the databases Web of Science and Scopus, which is a sign of the international visibility of their research.

The center publishes two journals, the Journal CENIC, Biological and Chemical Sciences with 45 volumes published every four months and recorded and indexed by the boards of prestige, BD, and considered among the highest quality in the country. In the last five years, 164 scientific articles have been edited and published.

Since its inception, the CNIC has organized 15 scientific events to share their results with their counterparts in the world. These meetings are traditionally attended by hundreds of Cuban and foreign delegates, including several Nobel Prize winners and numerous scientific personalities of international prestige.

In the next edition, the XVI International Scientific Congress to be held from 22 to 26 June 2015, will gather professionals and technicians of different specialties for the presentation and discussion of results and experiences in the context of the challenges posed by the progress of scientific development and new technologies.


UN: The heroic work of the Cuban medical brigade in Haiti has saved thousands of lives

February 21 2015

We hope the Cuban example is followed (by other nations)

Cuban medical workers have treated thousands of Haitians suffering from cholera since 2010.

cuban doctors in haitiThe United Nations’ top anti-cholera official in Haiti praised Cuba Thursday for its role in battling the deadly disease.

“We hope … the Cuban example is followed (by other nations), as an example capable of saving so many Haitian lives, despite economic constraints and other difficulties,” said Assistant Secretary-General Pedro Medrano Rojas. Rojas is the U.N.’s senior coordinator for cholera response in Haiti.

Cuban medical workers have been on the frontlines of Haiti’s cholera epidemic

According to the U.N. official, Cuban medical workers have been on the frontlines of Haiti’s cholera epidemic, playing a major role in treating and preventing the disease.

Rojas stated he plans to visit Havana later this month to meet with Cuban health authorities.

“We want to recognize the extraordinary and heroic work of the Cuban medical brigade in Haiti, which has saved thousands of lives, as well as explore other possibilities for collaboration,” Rojas told Cuban media.

The Cuban developers of an oral cholera vaccine

He is also expected to meet with the Cuban developers of an oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine is being developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company BioCubaFarma, which says its formula will be more effective than current vaccines when it is released in 2015.

Although cholera isn’t a major health concern in Cuba, the disease has been ravaging Haiti since 2010.

The outbreak has been linked to Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers. Human waste from the peacekeepers was allegedly dumped in Haiti’s waterways, leading to the rapid spread of the disease. An estimated 700,000 have contracted cholera since 2010 – 6 percent of Haiti’s population.

The worst cholera outbreak in recent history

Around 8,000 people died from the epidemic, which today is widely viewed as the worst cholera outbreak in recent history.

Although the epidemic is likely receding, thousands of new cases of the disease are reported every month.

The U.N. has vowed to help curb the outbreak, but has refused to accept legal responsibility. In 2013, a group of Haitians launched a class action lawsuit demanding the U.N. provide compensation to cholera victims. The lawsuit was quashed by a U.S. federal court in January.

Source: UN Praises Cuba for Haiti Cholera Response thecubanhandshake.org

Saint Lucia and Venezuela celebrate opening of the ALBA Bridge

Saint Lucia has made history with the first ‘ALBA’ bridge.

ribbon cutting for the alba bridge in st lucia

The Venezuelan people, through their government, are the happy recipients of a grant of US$ 2.7 million from ALBA, he Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our Americas, for the construction of three bridges. One of those, the Grand Riviere bridge in Dennery, Saint Lucia opened last Saturday and was renamed the ALBA Bridge, following a festive ceremony.  The new bridge was officially inaugurated by Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony and Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.

Grant made available to St. Lucia without any conditions

kenny anthony davisDr. Anthony, who said the grant funds were made available to Saint Lucia without any conditions, thanked the government of Venezuela for lending a hand of friendship to Saint Lucia in tough economic times.

“With Venezuela, no matter the difficulties they have, the challenges they have, yet they have extended a helping hand not just to Saint Lucia, but to the entire Caribbean and for this reason the friendship and the gifts they have given us are even more special in our hearts. I ask (you) to take back to President Maduro the thanks, the appreciation and the love of the people of Saint Lucia, for the friendship that we have with the government and people of Venezuela,” Anthony said.

Venezuela has stood at our side since independence

“Venezuela has stood at our side since independence … to date we have received through ALBA over UD$37 million in support to this country,” the St. Lucian leader added.

The Member of Parliament for Dennery North, Shawn Edward said this was a special day for the people, who are witnessing the biggest infrastructural project in their area since independence. “The old bridge was a source of worry for not just constituents of Dennery North but for citizens across the island, because daily, thousands of Saint Lucians had to cross this bridge to get to work either in Castries (in the North) or in Vieux Fort (in the South). And also, we had hundreds of students traveling to Castries to get an education and they had to encounter that bridge sometimes twice daily,” Edward said.

“On days when it rained heavily, the bridge was a source of worry for most of the individuals who travelled the highway day in and day out. Anytime it rained we were always on the lookout for the flood waters causing the bridge to be completely submerged.”

delcy rodriquezVenezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez congratulated the people of Saint Lucia on their 36th anniversary of independence and said that Venezuela and ALBA continue to fight for happiness for people and against poverty.

“Every time we see the result of ALBA, for us it is always more than numbers. When we think that almost more than four million people who were liberated from illiteracy, it is more than just a number,” the Venezuelan minister said. “We are also thinking about the millions of people who had the sight restored because of the Mission Milagro. So standing here, in the name of ALBA, inspires us to continue to assist.”

Saint Lucia became a member of ALBA in 2012. The 20-meter long ALBA Bridge is a two-lane reinforced concrete bridge measuring includes two pedestrian sidewalks.

ALBA 2ALBA consists of eleven member countries.  These are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.  Suriname was admitted to ALBA as a guest country at a February 2012 summit. ALBA nations may conduct trade using a virtual regional currency known as the SUCRE. Venezuela and Ecuador made the first bilateral trade deal using the Sucre, instead of the US dollar, on July 6, 2010.

Source:  Saint Lucia and Venezuela celebrate opening of the ALBA Bridge  stlucianewsonline.com

Chikungunya, a Challenge for Health Services

By Vivian Collazo Montano

chikungunya virusSeveral months ago the health authorities of the Americas gave the alert to the presence of a new viral disease: Chikungunya fever, a process which is transmitted by mosquitoes and characterized by fever and muscle aches.

Despite measures to stop its expansion – border control, elimination of breeding and reservoirs, pesticide spraying and self-care campaigns, among others, – a growing number of patients is being observed.

Over a million suspected cases

According to the latest reports from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), since the first case was detected in the hemisphere, 24,127 infected people and 1,106, 488 suspected cases are estimated.

Although the condition is not exactly mortal, it can be complicated, especially in people with other underlying disease, such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma and hypertension, hence 172 deaths were reported, particularly in Caribbean nations.

Some countries like Colombia reports more than 90,000 suspects and many portend a pandemic, while El Salvador reports more than 500,000 and Dominican Republic half million of presumably infected people.

First identified in Tanzania in 1952

The disease has also occurred in almost all the Caribbean islands, and there were more than 2000 cases in the United States until last December, mostly by infections outside the country.

The Chikungunya virus – identified first in Tanzania in 1952 and in the Americas in December 2013 – is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It has an incubation period of three to seven days and the disease can be acute, subacute and chronic.

It affects both sexes equally and no respecter of age, says PAHO.

Progress has been made in developing a vaccine but it is still in the experimental stage

Its symptomatology, very similar to dengue, which must be differentiated, is also characterized by headaches, nausea, fatigue and rash. There is no cure and treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms, including joint involvement, which may persist chronically.

It is estimated that Chikungunya infection produces antibodies that protect people for life. Progress has been made in developing a vaccine, but it is still in the experimental stage.

Prevention is important

Therefore, it is important to carry out prevention, based largely on reducing the number of deposits of natural and artificial water, which can serve as breeding places for mosquitoes. This factor, as well as population density, overcrowding and the housing characteristics, determine a greater vulnerability of populations to the disease.

Hence, a program of effective and operational monitoring provides the basis for proper preparation against both dengue and Chikungunya, highlights the international health agency.

Maintaining communication and seeking full community participation

Participation and intersectoral collaboration is also considered essential at all levels of government and health, education, environment, social development and tourism agencies. But above all, maintaining communication and seeking full community participation.

Vivian Collazo Montano is the Head of the of Science and Technology Editorial Department at Prensa Latina News Agency

Source:  Chikungunya, a Challenge for Health Services Prensa Latina