Cuba: Promoting non-violence against women and girls

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

Photo: Clock Radio.

The National Day for Non-Violence against Women and Girls will be held in Cuba until December 10 to make visible that problem, and  to discuss how to prevent and address it in our society.

The communication specialist of the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center, Ibet García, stressed that workshops, community fairs, panels, concerts, dance presentations and exhibitions dedicated to the subject are developed in various parts of the country and especially in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, headquarters of the activities.

He announced that this Thursday, in the afternoon will be held in the capital Pavilion Cuba, the great festival Arts for Nonviolence to celebrate the first anniversary of the Evoluciona campaign.

With the message the Harassment Delays You, the initiative is coordinated by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center in partnership with the FMC, the National Center for Sex Education and the Center for Youth Studies.

Urban farming as a response to climate-driven food crises: Cuba shows the way

Source:  Revolucion Alimentaria

November 12 2019

by Paul Brown
Climate News Network, November 12, 2019  

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

That was the remedy Cuba seized with both hands 30 years ago when it was confronted with the dilemma of an end to its vital food imports. And what worked then for Cuba could have lessons today for the wider world, as it faces growing hunger in the face of the climate crisis.

A possible blueprint for the survival of city populations in a warming world

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, most of Cuba’s food supplies went with it. To stave off severe malnutrition the people of the capital, Havana, found an imaginative answer: urban gardening. That’s now seen as a possible blueprint for the survival of city populations in a warming world.

The Rapid Transition Alliance has published a longer account of Cuba’s very fast move towards self-sufficiency as part of its series Stories of Change, which describes cases of large-scale, rapid transformation that can seem difficult to achieve but which have often worked before.

The problem of hunger for the Cubans arose because during the Cold War they had stopped producing food of their own and turned over most of their farmland to sugarcane plantations to supply the Soviet Union. In return for these mountains of sugar Moscow provided Cuba with food, chemical fertilizers and fuel oil for its cars and tractors.

The Soviet collapse brought the breakdown of this trade, and food rationing for city dwellers. And Cuba lost its main food supply while it was still coping with strict US sanctions. Reverting to conventional farming would have taken time and was in any case difficult because the Soviet fertilizers, fuel and pesticides had also dried up.

So the highly-educated urban citizens, faced with rationing which reduced the average Cuban’s daily calorie intake from 2,600 in 1986 to 1,000-1,500 in 1993, organised themselves to grow their own food in improvised urban allotments.

At first, struggling with little know-how and without fertilizers, their yields were low, but by producing compost and other organic growing mediums, plus introducing drip-fed irrigation, they began to see improvements.

Short of chemicals, the gardeners resorted to biological controls like marigolds (where opinions today are mixed) to deter harmful insects.

By 1995 Havana alone had 25,000 allotments tended by families and urban cooperatives. The government, realizing the potential benefits, encouraged the movement.

Soil quality was improved with a mixture of crop residues, household wastes and animal manure to create more compost and soil conditioners. The extra fresh vegetables and fruit this provided quickly improved urban dwellers’ calorie intake and saved many from malnutrition.

In the Cuban climate, with irrigation changes and soils undergoing constant improvement from added organic matter, the allotments could produce vegetables all year round. Lettuce, chard, radish, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach and peppers were grown and traded.

Health benefits

There is evidence as well that the extra exercise which these urban gardeners got from tending their allotments, plus the time they spent outdoors in the open air, benefited their health.

Eventually, realizing that self-sufficiency was the only way to feed the population, the government banned sugarcane growing altogether. Lacking fertilizer, many former plantations were turned over to organic agriculture. The shortage of oil for tractors meant oxen were used for plowing.

Cuba’s experience of urban agriculture inspired many environmentalists to believe that this is at least part of the solution to the food shortages threatened by climate change. By 2008 food gardens, despite their small scale, made up 8% of the land in Havana, and 3.4% of all urban land in Cuba, producing 90% of all the fruit and vegetables consumed.

As a result the calorie intake of the average Cuban quickly rose to match that of Europeans, relying on a diet composed mainly of rice, beans, potatoes and other vegetables – a low-fat diet making obesity rare.

Because of the climate, though, wheat does not grow well in Cuba, and the island still has to import large quantities of grain for bread. Meat is in short supply and also has to be mainly imported.

Despite this, Cuba’s experience since the Cold War ended in the 1990s shows that large quantities of fresh food can be grown in cities and that urban agriculture is sustainable over decades.

For other countries vulnerable to sudden loss of food supplies, Cuba’s experience suggests that urban farming can be one way of staving off potential famine when imports are restricted, expensive or simply unobtainable.

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:

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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.”