Díaz-Canel tours areas in Havana hit by tornado (+Photos)

Source: Granma
January 28 2019

The President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers tours areas in Havana hit by a tornado last night

diaz canel visits havana after storm.jpg

During the dawn hours, the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, toured areas in Havana hit by a tornado last night.

The municipalities of Regla and Guanabacoa suffered the most damage during the severe storms that formed ahead of a cold front which crossed the provinces of Pinar del Río, Mayabeque, and La Habana.

“We are touring areas affected by the extreme weather phenomenon in Regla. The damages are severe; at this moment we lament the loss of three human lives, and 172 injured are being assisted. Several brigades are already working on the recovery,” Díaz-Canel stated.

According to preliminary data cited by authorities in the capital, on the Cuban television program Buenos Días, the deceased and injured were victims of partial or total collapses of their homes, falling trees, and other events related to the storm.

According to Prensa Latina, a tour of the city’s streets revealed many fallen trees and damage to buildings, partial interruption of electrical service, and closed streets, including the Malecón, due to high waves.

President Díaz-Canel reported on Twitter that a Council of Ministers meeting was held to evaluate the situation and adopt measures to move forward in the recovery from the severe damage left by wind, rain, and a tornado last night.

More photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Knowledge knows no borders

Source:  Granma
March 20 2018

U.S. orthopedic surgeon Xavier Duralde collaborates with Cuban doctors at Havana’s Ameijeiras Hospital

Dr. Xavier Duralde from the United States (center), with doctors Horacio Tabares Neyra and Osvaldo García Martínez, course coordinators representing the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society. Photo: Nuria Barbosa León

Despite obstacles imposed by the current U.S. administration to hamper relations with Cuba, including claims of alleged “sonic attacks” against its diplomatic personnel on the island, and issuing of an unfounded travel advisory against the Caribbean nation, recommending that its population “reconsider” visiting Cuba, U.S. citizens continue wanting to experience the island and help build bridges between the two nations.

Such is the case of Dr. Xavier Duralde from the United States, experienced orthopedic surgeon and renowned professor who gave an international course on arthroscopic diagnosis and treatment of injuries to shoulder and elbow joints to Cuban colleagues at Havana’s Hermanos Ameijeiras Surgical Clinical Hospital.

Duralde described the exchange with his Cuban counterparts as beneficial for both parties given marked interest in the development of minimally invasive surgery – or arthroscopic surgery within orthopedics – on the island, used to correct ankle, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder and wrist conditions.

Sharing new ideas

The specialist highlighted how performing this type of surgery benefits Cuban doctors, as well as the need to extend it to shoulder procedures. “I have come to share new ideas in these types of techniques so that their use can be extended here,” he noted.

The U.S. specialist also emphasized his marked interest in visiting the island given the lack of knowledge in his country about contemporary Cuban society. I am very proud to be visiting for the first time and to be sharing with colleagues on these issues, stated the U.S. medical professional.

Xavier Duralde, who graduated from the University of Columbia and currently works at Northside and Predmont hospitals in Atlanta, is also an associate adjunct professor at the Emory University School of Medicine in this U.S. state and orthopedic surgeon for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He is also a member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Society; Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons; as well as the Major League Baseball Physicians Association.

An improvement in collaborative relations

The surgeon explained that the opportunity to give the course arose after he met Dr. Horacio Tabares Neyra, president of the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society, at an international specialist event.

He also noted that he wishes to repeat the experience and thus hopes to see an improvement in collaborative relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Meanwhile, Tabares Neyra noted that the course was divided into three sessions and attended by orthopedic and rheumatology specialists from the country’s 15 provinces as well as all hospitals in the capital, with theoretic and practical sessions and demonstrations of live surgeries performed on real patients.

Xavier Duralde “is an expert in the theoretical and practical elements of these treatments, and his help is very valuable to extending arthroscopic shoulder surgery throughout the country,” stated Tabares Neyra, who went on to note that the program was designed by Duralde himself and given in Spanish, which helped understanding.

Regarding the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society, Tabares Neyra explained that the institution was founded in the 1940s, currently has over 2,000 members, and was presided for various decades by national and internationally renowned professor Dr. Rodrigo Álvarez Cambra.

Among other efforts, the Society aims to contribute to scientific work; disseminate key achievements of its professionals; introduce modern technologies and new prophylactic and therapeutic methods within the specialty through frequent exchanges and debates on individual and collective experiences. It also maintains links with similar national and international scientific institutions, with the potential for scientific-technical and educational exchanges in this field.

In figures

In 2017, 989,209 general surgeries using traditional methods were performed in Cuba, some 5,326 more than the previous year. During this period, 52,017 procedures using minimally invasive techniques were carried out, an increase of around 6,000 as compared to 2016. Minimally invasive surgery is practiced in 53 hospitals and by 13 medical specialties in Cuba.

Over 80 Countries to Attend Health Conference and Fair in Cuba

Source:  Cuba Inside the World / Prensa Latina

March 14 2018

Experts from 83 countries will participate in the International Conference Cuba Salud 2018, to be held from April 23rd to 27th at the Havana”s Conference Center, said organizers today.
The event, which will also be attended by 44 ministers of this field, is outlined as a forum for scientific discussion to exhibit progress and challenges in issues such as quality of care, international cooperation, medical training and comprehensive health care.

It will also discuss the current public policies, strategies, organization and the economic bases on which health actions are based and the need to improve the population’s health as a key role for social development.

President of the scientific commission Pastor Castel said in a press conference that the countries with highest amount of representatives are Cuba, Brazil, Colombia and the United States.

Panels, round tables, lectures and the launching of a new edition of the Pan American Journal of Public Health dedicated to Cuban achievements are included in the event’s agenda.

For his part Cristian Morales, representative of WHO/PAHO in Cuba, said that during the event, the Week for Vaccination in the Americas will take place, seeking to wipe out the gap amid regional programs.

UNICEF: Cuba, a champion of children’s’ rights

Source:  Granma
March 12 2018

Cuba is a global leader in the protection and promotion of children’s rights, according to Unicef regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean María Cristina Perceval

Cuba is a global leader in the protection and promotion of children’s rights, according to Unicef regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean María Cristina Perceval.

During a forum recently held in Managua on children’s rights, Perceval spoke to Prensa Latina about Cuba’s achievements in this field.

The island has the Educa a tu hijo (Educate Your Child) program, and an early infant development model that has been implemented in other countries, noted Perceval.

The UN representative also highlighted the Cuba’s achievements in regards to health, becoming the first country in the world to receive validation from the World Health Organization that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in 2015.

She also praised Cuba’s effective disaster response mechanisms and systems.

“In this sense, we recognize the capacity of the government and its ability for community organization, not only in regards to preparing for emergencies, but also effective, professional and swift action during disaster situations,” she noted.

Perceval went on to express her gratitude to the Cuban government and people for accepting a contribution from Unicef toward recovery efforts after the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma last year.

Teen pregnancy prevention

“I also want to thank you for allowing us to share what you have built in regards to early childhood education, in the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, teen pregnancy prevention… Cuba is a champion, champion, champion! She exclaimed.

Regarding the Educa a tu hijo program, the specialist noted that it was created 26 years ago and is designed to contribute to the comprehensive development of infants from zero to six years of age who do not attend educational institutions. It also aims to promote the role of the family in the development of children from a community and multi-sectoral approach.

Perceval also highlighted the priority afforded adolescents on the island, with participative methodologies and a social commitment to creating opportunities and projects for this sector of the population.

In this same vein, she expressed her gratitude to the Cuban people and government for “allowing us to humbly work in whatever necessary.”

Perceval also talked about collaborative efforts linked to stopping violence against children, especially girls.

The Federation of Cuban Women

“The Federation of Cuban Women has an immense strength, but we also know that sometimes violent practices occur in convivial spaces and that we must keep working to eradicate all types of mistreatment against children from the community and institutions,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the UN official noted that she hopes to visit Cuba this year to attend the Unicef regional meeting, postponed last year following Hurricane María.

Given the vulnerability of the zone Perceval mentioned the importance of preparing for natural disasters “which affect old people, women, children and the disabled, above all.”

Perceval traveled to Nicaragua to recognize the country’s efforts and achievements in combating malnutrition in children, one of the main problems of the region.

How is the President elected in Cuba?

Source:  Granma
February 21 2018

By Yudy Castro Morales  internet@granma.cu

The person who becomes the President of Cuba’s Council of State is chosen through a process that entails several steps, with the people and their elected representatives participating directly.

The vote is an act that is more delicate that any other,
since with it comes life, honor, and the future
— José Martí

how is the president elected in Cuba.jpg

Photo: Granma

There is no need to dig through Cuba’s Election Law no.72, dated October 29, 1992, to find the answer. It is explicit, and Dr. José Luis Toledo Santander, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission, gets right to the point.

“The President of Cuba’s Council of State is elected in second order elections, that is, deputies elected by the people, in representation of the people, approve the candidature and then vote, in a direct and secret fashion, for those who will make up the Council of State – that is the President, First Vice President, the Vice Presidents, the Secretary, and other members.”

At times we hear opinions, not always offered with the best of intentions, that question, according to Dr. Toledo, “whether the election of the President reflects a direct expression by the people. But they are unaware that for someone to be elected to this position in Cuba, several electoral steps are required, in which the people or their elected representatives participate directly.”

During his conversation with Granma, Toledo, also a professor at the University of Havana, outlined the particularities of each stage in the process, so that we can visualize the path that begins, he explains, when the person “is proposed as a pre-candidate for deputy to the National Assembly, in a mass organization leadership plenum.”

On this occasion, the 605 candidates for national deputy, to be elected this coming March 11 – and from amongst whom the President will emerge – were chosen from 12,000 proposals made in 970 plenums held across the entire country. And among these candidates, 47.7% are constituency delegates, elected by their neighbors in the first stage of the general elections, in October of 2017.

Next, Toledo continues, “The National Assembly nominations are the responsibility of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power,” a process that is in no way a formality.

“This is where the candidature commissions at this level present the pre-candidates, and these are the assemblies that decide, via a direct, public vote, if they approve of someone or not.” In fact, to be approved every one of the proposals must have more than half of the yes votes, cast by the delegates present.

In the event that the candidature slate, or one of the proposed candidates, is not approved, the commission is required to present another proposal, which will be subjected to the same procedure.

“Once nominated as a candidate for deputy, we see another electoral episode take place, that is the people exercising their free, direct, secret vote, be it within a constituency or district, where the deputies are elected.”

This moment described by Toledo is scheduled for this coming March 11, when Cuban men and women will also elect delegates to Provincial Assemblies.

It should be emphasized, he said, that in accordance with law, “a deputy is elected for every 20,000 residents or fraction of more than 10,000, and even in municipalities that have fewer than 30,000 inhabitants, two deputies are always elected. Thus the National Assembly has representation from the entire people.”

He explains, “After being elected and once the delegates have taken their seats in the National Assembly, the National Candidature Commission calls every one of those elected for consultation, and all have the right to propose those who should be, in their opinion, the members of the Council of State, that is, suggest 31 persons, among whom, obviously, one will be the President

“Later, this commission presents for the National Assembly’s consideration, in an open vote, a candidature slate that is the product of the proposals made, and deputies have the right to modify it, totally or partially. After being approved, the candidates are submitted to free, direct, and secret vote by deputies. This is when the President of the Council of State is finally elected.”

In accordance with the spirit of the Electoral Law, if the President ceases to perform this duty, the Vice President assumes the role.

The path taken to complete the process, in Toledo’s words, is “the most clear reflection of the participation of the people and the representatives elected by the people. Cuba is not the only country that elects its head of state in second order elections. There are many nations that hold this type of election, which does not limit, in any way, its legitimacy or democratic foundation.”

Three Mambises of our times

Source:  Granma
February 25 2018

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, in the tribute ceremony held in the Capitolio building, February 24, 2018, “Year 60 of the Revolution”

Compañeras and compañeros:

raul july 2015 2.jpg

Today, February 24, we celebrate the 123rd anniversary of the resumption of our War of Independence called for by José Martí.

The profound significance of this date marked the maturity and the crystallization of the project proposed by Martí, who in order to lead it and to make it happen, founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

When everything seemed lost, his ability to find an alternative and overcome any setback, led him to summon the people to a definitive effort: the war that he believed necessary when he thought it unavoidable. He continually called for national unity, articulating the best traditions of the past, without overlooking all those who were willing to sacrifice and give their lives for a greater cause.

A month later, on March 25, 1895, in Montecristi, the Dominican Republic, Martí, along with Major General Máximo Gómez, signed the Manifesto which set out the scope and aims of the struggle. Together they left for Cuba to join the liberation struggle, landing at Playitas de Cajobabo on April 11, just like Major General Antonio Maceo had done a few days before at Duaba.

As Fidel stated on the 100th anniversary of the Ten Years War, “Martí gathered up the flags of Céspedes, Agramonte, and the heroes that fell in that struggle and led Cuba’s revolutionary ideas in that period to their highest expression.”

Three brave compañeros

There is no better moment than this to award the honorific title of Hero of Labor of the Republic of Cuba – in fitting recognition of a lifetime of work committed to the Revolution – to three brave compañeros who already hold the honorable title of Heroes of the Republic of Cuba. I am referring to José Ramón Machado Ventura and Comandantes of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés Menéndez and Guillermo García Frías.

José Ramón Machado

As for Machado Ventura, I could highlight that he joined the struggle against the tyranny as a medical student at the University of Havana, and 65 years ago he participated in the first March of the Torches, in January 1953.

In 1957 he joined the Rebel Army in the Sierra Maestra and served as a doctor and guerilla fighter in various battles. He was a founder of the Second Front; and organized and led the Military Health Department until the end of the struggle, where he was wounded in combat. He developed a broad network of field hospitals and dispensaries which not only offered services to combatants but also, and most importantly, the area’s population, who in many places had never seen a doctor before.

After the triumph of the Revolution he was appointed Head of Medical Services of Havana and of the FAR(Revolutionary Armed Forces) and later Minister of Public Health.

He is a founder of the Communist Party of Cuba and in 1975 was elected as a member of the Political Bureau. He was First Party Secretary in various provinces.
Since 2011, he has served as second secretary of the Central Committee. He is a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers.

Ramiro Valdés

Ramiro Valdés Menéndez joined the revolutionary struggle at a young age. He participated in the March of the Torches in January 1953 and in the attacks on the Moncada Garrison that same year, during which he was injured. He was imprisoned on the Isle of Pines and lived in exile in Mexico, where he joined the Granma expedition.

He was involved in multiple battles in the Sierra Maestra, and participated alongside Che in the invasion of the West as second commander of the Ciro Redondo Column No. 8.

Since the triumph of the Revolution he has occupied important posts, including Minister of the Interior on two occasions, and as a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, a position which he currently holds. He is a member of the Party Political Bureau.

A lot more can be said about each one of these figures on this occasion, but in the case of Ramiro, I have always admired him because he is the only one of us who – in addition to those actions taken some months before Moncada, during which we marched in the first March of the Torches led by Fidel 65 years ago – was wounded in the taking of the main post during the Moncada assault; where he was shot in the heel with the bullet lodging itself in his foot. When we met up, or when we were brought together again at the Vivac (prison) in Santiago de Cuba, he showed me his blood-stained socks, but said he didn’t know where the bullet was. The years went by and he began to limp in the Sierra Maestra because of a callus he had on the sole of his foot. On various occasions he was unable to continue marching with the rest of the initial group of the liberation war, until one day, he began to scrape away at the callus with his own knife until the bullet of the Moncada attack appeared, shot by an enemy as he fell to the ground mortally wounded.

There are dozens or hundreds of heroic feats or important acts linked to each one, and which of course were not even recorded in the few campaign diaries that were written. What is more, unlike the rest of us in the liberation war, Ramiro had the good fortune and honor of being the second commander of the Column led by Che to Las Villas.

Guillermo García

Guillermo García Frías, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, organized a network of campesinos to help the Granma expeditionaries and take them to the Sierra Maestra. An astute man, he personally led Fidel and the other combatants to Cinco Palmas and recovered various rifles.

He was the first campesino to join the Rebel Army, with an outstanding record, first as a combatant and later as second commander of the Third Front when it was founded in early March 1958, led by then Comandante Juan Almeida.

There are hundreds of anecdotes about Guillermo; of the early days and following the Granmalanding, we will only touch on some aspects. It was he who led Fidel and two other compañeros, Faustino Pérez – who was a doctor – and Universo Sánchez, one of which was unarmed having left his rifle behind on treating the wounded in the first clash at Alegría de Pío.

That is to say that Fidel arrived to the Sierra Maestra with two other combatants, only one of which was armed. It was Guillermo García that got them around the blockade on the old road from the Pilón sugar mill to the municipal capital of Niquero; it was he who – fulfilling other urgent missions given him by the Comandante en Jefe, from Purial de Vicana, or Cinco Palmas de Vicana, where they first set up camp – gathered together almost all of us who originally joined up, including Ramiro himself, Almeida, Che, Camilo; and thus the initial group of three, then five more, then eight, gradually reuniting this important group of compañeros.

One of the first actions he took in support of the nascent guerilla force, was the number of rifles he collected in the days following these events of which I am speaking, from the 15th to the 18th, which together with the few we already had weren’t event sufficient to form a platoon, but were enough to launch the first attack; and although it might not have been the best moment to do so, with hundreds of soldiers hot on our heels, Fidel said that, with this first battle, we had to show the people that the guerillas were still here and would continue the war. This was the reason behind the battle of La Plata, barely a few weeks after this initial group, with the help of Guillermo García, were reunited. Other tasks would follow later.

As the first campesino to join the Rebel Army, he was also the first to be promoted. He had an outstanding track record, first as a combatant and then as second commander of the Third Front, under the command of Almeida.

After the triumph of the Revolution, he occupied various positions in the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Later he also served, among other roles, as a Political Bureau delegate in the former province of Oriente; a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Minister of Transport, and President of the Flora and Fauna Enterprise Group, where he has done an outstanding job.

He was a member of the Party Political Bureau from 1965 through 1986, and is currently a member of the Central Committee and Council of State.

Loyalty to the Revolution

Regarding characteristics shared by these three Mambises of our times I can cite their loyalty to the Revolution and to Fidel, their commitment to work, modesty and humility, which have made them worthy of the recognition and respect of the Cuban people.

It is not by chance that we are commemorating this date in the Capitolio building, whose tenacious restoration, has enabled the attributes of one of the most important buildings in the country to be highlighted, and in whose crypt rest the ashes of the Unknown Mambí, before which an eternal flame burns as a tribute of the people to their founding fathers and the glorious Liberation Army, and is surrounded by the flags of nations of the continent.

Today, this building is the headquarters of the National Assembly of People’s Power. It is also irrefutable proof of the care and interest that must always be put into preserving the cultural heritage of the nation.

Let me take this solemn moment to extend a well-deserved congratulations to Havana City Historian, Eusebio Leal, and those collaborators who have been most closely associated with the massive restoration of the Capitolio; including architect Perla Rosales; engineers Mariela Mulet, Yohanna Aedo and Tatiana Fernández; restoration expert Patricia Coma; professor Juan Carlos Botello and his students from the Vocational School; historian Lesbia Méndez; director of the City Historian Office’s Construction Enterprise, Conrado Hechavarría; and German expert Michael Diegmann.

On a day like today, as we honor those noble Cubans who in 1895 returned to the battle field to free Cuba, I repeat Fidel’s words spoken in 1965: “We would have been like them then, and they would have been like us now!” This is the commitment we have upheld and will also be that which guides the present and future generations, in order that the Homeland continues to be free.

Thank you very much. (Applause)

Cuba to create an entity to preserve and spread the legacy of Fidel

Source:  La Santa Mambisa / Cubadebate

raul presides over meeting re fidel's legacy feb 2018.jpgMeeting of the working group in charge of elaborating proposals for the creation
of an institution that conserves and spreads the memory of the historical leader
of the Cuban Revolution. Photo: Revolution Studies.

In a meeting chaired by Army General Raul Castro Ruz , first secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, a working group was set up to prepare proposals to create an institution aimed at the preservation of documentary heritage, the study and dissemination of thought and the work of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz .

To complete the hard work, described by Raúl as of the utmost importance and which will be attended by the country’s top management, some thirty experts from different specialties and representatives of various agencies, entities and institutions were invited.

As explained by the first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez , in charge of controlling the fulfillment of this task, the objective is to collect and perpetuate in an institution the valuable information that over the years has gone Treasuring about the activities that the Commander in Chief developed during his fertile life and that are part of the historical memory of the nation.

To this end, Presidential Decree No. 21 was announced .  The Decree allows for the creation of the group of comrades who will elaborate the ideas for the establishment of the aforementioned institution and will be presided over by Alberto Alvariño Atiénzar.   On behalf of all those present,  Alberto Alvariño Atiénzar said that they assumed a historical task, of great political responsibility and to which they would dedicate themselves with absolute consecration.

The Presidential Decree specifies that in the proposals that are submitted, the conceptual bases, principles, mission, functions and structure of the institution must be defined, among other matters.

The decision is in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 123 , of December 27, 2016, on the use of the name and figure of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, for the future of any institution that is created for the study of his invaluable trajectory in the history of the nation.