Cuba celebrates African Liberation Day

Source:  Granma
May 26 2018

In Havana, a ceremony was held to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of African Liberation Day

cuba celebrates africa dayPhoto:  Ismael Batista

“Cuba was the only country in the world to shed its blood for us,” stated Ambassador of Guinea Bissau in Cuba, Abel Coelho de Mendonça, during a ceremony in honor of World Africa Day, May 25, in Havana.

“For this eternal debt, Cuba will always have our support,” he added.

Presided by First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba Salvador Valdés Mesa, Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and member of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee Secretariat, José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, the event served to recall the shared history between Cuba and Africa.

“Celebrating this date is an important event,” stated Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra Díaz, on World Africa Day.
As well as thanking African countries for their long-standing opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, Sierra highlighted Cuba’s historic support for the continent, home to almost a third of UN-member states.

“The fraternal ties with Africa are part of our history,” he stated, recalling that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of South African leader Nelson Mandela, 30 years since the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre.

9,000 Africans studying in Cuba

Sierra also mentioned the over 5,000 Cuban collaborators offering services in different countries across Africa, as well as the almost 9,000 young people from the region studying on the island.

“African blood runs through Cuba’s veins,” stated the Deputy Foreign Minister, recalling the words of Army General Raúl Castro, and noting that “Cuba’s relations with African are indestructible.”

Meanwhile, Mendonça offered his condolences on behalf of member states of the African Union (AU) following the tragic aviation accident on May 18 in the Cuban capital.

He also expressed his confidence in the Cuban government’s commitment to continuing the legacy of Fidel and Raúl, and offered Africa’s support in these efforts.

Also participating in the ceremony were Party officials, representatives of mass organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and members of the accredited diplomatic corps in the capital, as well as African delegates and students in Cuba.

Remembering Fidel and Cuba’s Internationalism on African Liberation Day



South Africa:  Economic Freedom Fighters – ” … we want to be like Cuba in South Africa …we want to pursue a progressive socialist agenda that will bring about free education for all … that’s why we say here in the South African parliament, that the Cuban flag must fly forever …      Floyd Shivambu

Cubans living in Kentucky, USA, honor José Martí (+ Photos)

Source:  Prensa Latina /La Santa Mambisa
May 19 2018

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Cubans living in the US state of Kentucky paid tribute today to the National Hero of his native country, José Martí, on the occasion of the 123 anniversary of the famous patriot’s fall in action.

More than 20 members of the so-called Casa Cuba organization from Kentucky gathered and laid a wreath before a bust of the Apostle, located in a park in the town of Shively.

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The sculpture was relocated there six years ago thanks to the efforts of Cuban businessman Wilbert Fonseca and local authorities, including Mayor Sherry Sinegra Conner.

Coming from the largest of the Antilles, the piece arrived in Louisville, the most populated city of that territory, in the mid-1950s of the last century and was in public view until 1962, when it was removed and later stored in a warehouse .

After this event, which was attended by the Consul General of Cuba in the United States, Alejandro Padrón, an exhibition of photos and reproductions of Martí was inaugurated in a center of the aforementioned city.

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This show also recognizes the work of the American sculptor Anna Hyatt, who gave life to the equestrian statue of the war organizer of 1895-1898 against Spanish colonialism, which is located in the Central Park of New York, and a replica of him in Havana.

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Likewise, María Elena Segura, deputy director of the Center for Martial Studies of the Cuban capital, spoke about the final moments of Martí’s life, and highlighted the dedication to the independence cause of his country.

During her speech, the specialist referred to the Cuban Revolutionary Party, the Patria newspaper, the Montecristi Manifesto, the Master’s relationship with the military strategists Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo, and the role of emigration in preparing for the war.

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He answered several questions from the audience, which also offered assessments and highlighted the work of the eminent politician, writer, journalist and diplomat.

On the other hand, Segura donated texts and compact discs with the 27 volumes of the critical edition of the Complete Works of Martí, that arrive until now to 1889, when the man of the Golden Age was 36 years old.

“We wanted to pay homage to our National Hero, who summoned everyone for the good of all,” Raul Cuan, head of Casa Cuba of Kentucky, told Prensa Latina.

This entity emerged last July in order to group the Cubans as a community and keep alive collectively the love and ties with their native country.

We maintain the purpose of continuing to strengthen our unity, said Cuan, who also mentioned the importance of evoking historical events on the Caribbean island, at least in a simple way.

Cuban Ambassador in Washington responds to Wall Street Journal

Source Editorial WSJ / Cuba Network In Defense of Humanity
May 7 2018

jose cabanas cubaRegarding your editorial “Cuba Gets a Castro Convertible” (April 23): The U.S. corporate press has always been predictable in its articles on Cuba and even more so when it comes to its editorials. Newspapers such as yours were against Cubans being free from Spanish power in the 19th century. Later on, they commended local corrupt politicians who supported the invasion— first militarily and then economically by American companies during the first half of the 20th century. Finally, those newspapers relentlessly demonized the Cuban Revolution since 1959. However, I was caught off guard by the sordidness of the language used by your editorial board when referring to my country. It is the typical exercise of those who are left without arguments.

There is still a financial, economic and commercial embargo imposed on Cuba intended to starve our population into submission. However, the information blockade has decreased. Americans massively travel to Cuba and 75% of them support a better relationship with our country.

Your renewed efforts to promote the business of the “dissidence” in Cuba will not have the slightest success. History is wise and has forgotten (and will forget) the names of the annexationists of Cuban origins, but any educated human being who inhabits the earth today will be able to tell you about Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Ernesto Guevara and Fidel Castro ; those are the names of the pro-independence figures.

To maintain a part of the audience you still have, before criticizing Cuba again, or any other Latin American or Caribbean country for that matter, please start by looking at yourselves in the mirror.

Jose Ramón Cabanas Rodriguez

Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba


Cuba: Diaz-Canel, Raul Castro Congratulate Maduro

Source:  TeleSUR
May 21 2018

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Former President and Cuban Communist Party chief Raul Castro Ruz also
congratulated Maduro. | Photo: Reuters

The Cuban Government offers solidarity regarding any new challenges faced by Maduro’s Government in the new six-year presidential term.

Cuban officials, late Sunday, congratulated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on an overwhelming victory in the presidential election, in letters posted on Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza‘s Twitter page.

RELATED: El Salvador Congratulates Venezuelan People, Maduro

“The Bolivarian and Chavista community has demonstrated once again it’s determination in defending the legacy of Chavez, who you represent worthily,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said in a letter addressed to Maduro.

Diaz-Canel added that the Cuban Government will be supportive and offer solidarity regarding any new challenges faced by Maduro’s Government in the new six-year presidential term.

Former President and Cuban Communist Party chief Raul Castro Ruz also congratulated Maduro on victory in the Venezuelan presidential elections.

Read more here


The wrath of loving men

Source:  Granma
May 14 2018

by: Ortelio González Martínez | internet@granma.cuGermán Veloz Placencia |

BAJANTE: Lázaro Martínez Pérez, a humble man from Ciego de Ávila, recounts, with confidence and modesty, the story of how 40 years ago he faced enemy planes unloading their fury on residents of a small Angolan enclave, an event the world knows as the Cassinga Massacre

Lázaro Martínez Pérez.jpgLázaro (right), with Pascual Corbea Jiménez, another of the Ciego de Ävila natives who shed blood in Cassinga.Photo: Ortelio González Martínez

As if to present all he has done in the struggle for life and ideas as only a skirmish, Lázaro Martínez Pérez, a humble man from Ciego de Ávila, recounts, with confidence and modesty, the story of how 40 years ago he faced enemy planes unloading their fury on residents of a small Angolan enclave, an event the world knows as the Cassinga Massacre, despite the fact that the corporate media, especially in the United states, ignore it.

“When I was about 13, I met Che, and from then on, I wanted to be like him, and I became a Guevaran with a cause. When I left (for Angola) I was already a Literature teacher and had read a good number of texts.

“I took six books to African lands: Con la adarga al brazo, by Che, and his Diario en Bolivia; and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Also going with me were César Vallejo, José Martí, and a poetry book by Miguel Hernández.

“I had also read a great deal about the Great Patriotic War and WWII; Leon Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Armed with all this, I arrived in Africa, but nonetheless, I can say today that I went afraid of combat, and I am not ashamed; but when fear and dignity are counterpoised, dignity wins.”

With his 68th birthday coming in November, Lázaro tells the story without adding or neglecting anything, exactly as it happened that May 4, 1978, when the sun scorched the earth and they were in Tchamutete, some 16 kilometers from hell.

Attack on Namibian refugees by South Africa

The attack on the camp of Namibian refugees, in southern Angola, was well planned by South Africa. Participating in the operation, given the code name “Operation Reindeer,” were 527 paratroopers from the Bravo combat group, who were sent to destroy the Cassinga camp (codename: Moscow) and then escape aboard helicopters.

“The Cassinga Massacre was one of apartheid’s worst crimes. First, the aviation bombing; then the paratroopers who landed and murdered hundreds of defenseless residents, among them women, children, and elders,” recalled Lázaro, who as a young man had arrived in Angola of his own free will, in January of 1978.

Jesús and Sixto.jpgJesús (left) and Sixto  honor their fallen comrades with everyday loyalty. Photo: Germán Veloz Placencia

“Etched into my memory is the image of a little girl that didn’t weigh 60 pounds. Eusebio González picked her up. Her leg was wounded. Many years later I learned that she was Claudia, who was one of the children who came to study on the Isle of Youth and went on to become her country’s ambassador in Cuba. Who could have imagined!”

Clothed in dignity, a man is invincible, no matter the glory, life, death, or medals.

“With the first explosion, I didn’t wait for the order and I said to Eusebio: Negro, let’s go, they’re attacking us. From the emplacement, we opened fire, though later we were obliged to fire on the march, when the planes were within reach.

“We were heading to the settlement of Cassinga to defend the Namibian refugees. We advanced along the raised roadbed, and those flying devils were always on us, clear shots for bombs and rockets. It’s wasn’t long before the three artillery pieces in my platoon were separated from the group, and we were obliged to unhitch from the vehicles and set up.

“By about 3:00pm, the only “four mouths” (anti-aircraft artillery) that fired was mine, from one barrel. The only artillery-men left in the platoon were Eusebio González and me. Eusebio, the bravest man I have ever known, was mortally wounded and I think the same projectile, or maybe another one, threw me into the air. I tried to get up with a great deal of effort, and realized that both my legs were wounded. Practically without strength, I get back to the artillery and see a plane come straight ahead, I shoot and hit it. I’m almost certain I downed it.

Fallen comrades

“Everyone’s courage came to the fore. When you are far from your homeland, valor and dignity go within each person. It doesn’t matter if your hair stands on end during the battle, although the misfortune of losing a friend, a brother in struggle, may arrive. As I remember, there they killed our Eusebio, Antolín, Francisco Seguí, Ricardo González, Zamora, El Yoni, and Pedro Valdivia Paz, all from Ciego de Ävila. And a young man from the East, last name Barea.

“I would estimate that the South African aviation operated without interruption for about three hours or a bit longer, but I was fighting half the day. I was going to pieces, overwhelmed by inexplicable feelings… Just imagine, seeing your friends, your brothers, dead, seeing them fall before your eyes; seeing the civilian population, the children, women, old people, ripped apart by the machine gun fire, with handfuls of spikes in different parts of their bodies… Inside I felt something very strange: the hate of men who love, I say.”

A good dancer, a bad cook, in the kaleidoscope of his life, he’s been, at some point, a journalist, teacher, reader, principal at a rural secondary school, taxi driver, Party militant – plus the father of four boys, two of them with María Esther Alcorta Chau, the same woman who, after Cassinga, heard the mysterious knock at her door and the whisper that stills the soul: “We’re here to inform you that your husband, Lázaro, has died in Angola.”

Luck would have it that the nightmare was short. The next day, the same men came back, to say, according to María Esther, “That business yesterday was a mistake. Lázaro is alive, and being treated in a hospital, but he’s not doing well… He still has several wounds on his legs, although that hasn’t kept him from walking.”

Tribute to fallen comrades

Death, like the ebb and flow of daily life, creates brotherhood. So say Jesús Acosta Lanchazo and Sixto Salvador Ledea Velázquez. Both pay eternal tribute to their fallen comrades, who did everything humanly possible with their anti-aircraft artillery to aid a group of Namibian refugees sheltered at Cassinga.

“I’m 77 years old and my memory is beginning to fail me, but what happened that day is right here (inside) with almost all the details,” Jesús Acosta says, holding back the emotion. It’s enough to see the slight trembling of his hand as he removes his cap.

“The alarm was given when we heard the morning news. Within a short time we were on the march, because we were always completely ready for battle. Cassinga wasn’t far; we only had to circumvent a reservoir of water.

“The truck that was pulling the artillery piece, a 14.5mm or ‘cuatro-bocas,’ as people know them, went off-road to avoid the mines, and took the bank. A few minutes later, close to nine in the morning, it got stuck, and from that moment, well into the afternoon, we resisted the aviation attacks in a clearing with no protection at all.

“I operated the artillery sight block. Not being able to move made us an easy target for the planes. So we kept up constant fire, calculating the number of projectiles used and the heat of the barrels, although this (overheating) was inevitable and they began to stick.

“At one of those moments, I told Manuel Cruz, one of my companions, to go over to the place, not too far off, where the other artillery unit had stopped firing. When he came back, he said the cannons of that piece were bent; it had fired with more intensity than ours. The worst was hearing that the squad was dead.

“Around five in the afternoon, they sent a truck to pull us out. Back on the road, we met a plane that attacked us with missiles and bursts of projectiles. Along with the other artillery pieces we concentrated our fire on the plane, and saw it retreat trailing black smoke.”

But there was no time to celebrate the damage done. What would be the enemy’s last aerial incursion left another casualty: Alfredo Barea Franco, one of 47 compatriots from the municipality of Urbano Noris in Holguín, who participated in the operation. He was part of the command squadron, which had lost its truck early in the fighting. This didn’t prevent the group from continuing to fire on the AKM planes, supporting all the artillery squads they could reach.

Once the battle was over, Jesús joined the group of Cubans who entered the camp. The pain he felt for the deaths of his comrades turned to wrath and hate for the aggressors who had caused the deaths of more than 700 persons, among them children, women, and elders. Some bodies showed clear signs of shots at close range; others with bayonet wounds delivered by the paratroopers who arrived and were retrieved by air. They found bodies riddled with spikes from the cluster bombs.

Alfredo Barea Franco

The death of Alfredo Barea Franco made a strong impression on Sixto Salvador, a member of artillery squad number four, who said, “He was face down. When we picked him up and took off his helmet, we saw the impact of a missile fragment. We placed the body under a tree that we marked, because we had to move on. After the battle had ended, we returned for the cadaver. We wrapped him in my hammock and left him at the Tactical Group Medical Post, in Tchamutete. That’s the way things are in a war.

“Practically the entire time, my artillery piece was firing in motion, on the rapid, well-armed planes, like the Mirages. I always say that those pilots knew their trade; surely they had studied our combat tactics. The whole time, they tried to interrupt our zigzag movements, trying to estimate the moment we would change directions. It was on one of these turns that they destroyed the command squad truck.”

Sixto is satisfied with his 74 years of life and the retirement he is enjoying, after working a long time in the sugar industry. He had other experiences from the beginning of that hard day, until the end. Entering into action, he was the only loader of the artillery piece. When the alarm was given, his companion had to drive their truck, since the usual driver was in the hospital.

Overcoming fear

He says he doesn’t know exactly how he managed to react. But listening to him, there is no doubt that his knowledge – and the will to live with the honor of overcoming fear – prevailed.

“I am not ashamed to say that I trembled many times amid the explosions that lifted columns of dirt, uprooted trees and everything around us. I even thought I might never see my family again, but I overcame it, as did the other compañeros.

“Juan Pavón Matos, head of the artillery squad, was wounded when he was getting out of the truck. Dionisio Millán, who was the Number 1, that is the shooter, yelled out loud that he assumed command of the squad. So we kept firing on the planes that attacked almost always with their tails to the sun, to hamper our vision. My job was to follow their movement, indicate the direction of the attack and keep the piece supplied with enough projectiles.

“We knew that the cannons had to be changed every so often, after completing a certain number of shots, but the enemy fire was so intense, we couldn’t give them any relief, until we forced a retreat.” And that’s the way it was.

Jesús and Sixto talk about Cassinga only when they are asked. The rest of the time, they are everyday men. But just like many of their comrades in arms in the municipality of Urbano Noris, they are faithful to the tradition of getting together every May 4 in San Germán. In the company of Alfredo Barea Franco’s family, they visit the school and community center for elders that bear his name.

And they march to the Fallen Patriots Cemetery, where his remains rest.

On these occasions, there are no flowery words. Sometimes, they don’t talk at all. Silence reigns, to contain the emotions evoked by memories of their epic internationalist mission on African soil.

Director General of WHO thanks Cuba for model health system

Source:  La Santa Mambisa
April 24 2018

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By Alejandra García

Cuba is a model for what the World Health Organization (WHO) wants to see in the world and for many countries, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, at the opening of the III International Convention on Public Health Cuba Health 2018.

“I can only thank Cuba for its model health system, which makes it one of the best in the world,” said the high-level official before Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, president of the Councils of State and Ministers; José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, and Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization; as well as ministers, deputy ministers and representatives of more than 50 countries.

Health is included as a human right that everyone should benefit from. Still, more than half of the world lacks medical service. Millions of human beings are forced to live in poverty due to the costs they demand for their health care, Tedros acknowledged.

“No one should choose between buying food or medicine; nobody should choose between poverty and health”.

Carissa Etienne added that although the countries of the region have made great progress in the sector, they are still insufficient.

Regional access to comprehensive health services

“More than a third of the inhabitants of this region do not have access to comprehensive health services. In the years 2013 and 2014 there were more than 1.2 million deaths that could have been avoided if the health systems had offered accessible and quality services, “he said.

The countries of the region have not been able to overcome the barriers to access to health. The reasons are of a different nature: geographical, institutional, financial and those related to social inequalities, including gender.

“It is totally unacceptable that children belonging to indigenous ethnic groups face infant mortality almost five times greater than that of the general population, because they do not have access to health; or that women have higher mortality due to wanting to give life, “he said.

We can not allow our loved ones, friends and neighbors to suffer unnecessarily because the cost of medicines is too high; or for living in a vulnerable environment, without sanitation of water that puts them at greater risk of developing dengue, Zika or other diseases, he added.

Etienne also said that it is unfair that many women postpone their professional development by taking care of their loved ones, such as grandparents, grandmothers or children.

Regional achievements fragile

“It is important to recognize that the achievements in the region are important but fragile, and we must fight to maintain them. All our health personnel must provide integrated care with quality and speed to respond to the needs of the population in all parts of the world, without leaving anyone behind, “he insisted.

None of us is exempt from getting sick, but no one should be excluded from the right to health. “That must be the center of our concerns,” he said.

This situation has to end, insisted, meanwhile, Tedros.

“It is an ambitious aspiration, but if we do not think big we will continue to leave people behind. Countries like Cuba remind us that this is not a dream for the future, but a reality. And they have achieved it not because Cuba is rich, but because they have proposed it as a commitment, “he said.

He stressed that Cuba is a model for many countries of the world, because it also provides international collaboration and trains many doctors from the Latin American School of Medicine, allowing advancement and health coverage in America and other regions.

Inequality and poverty reduction

For Tedros, universal coverage does not have to be only for developed countries, and Cuba is an example of this. It is a way to reduce inequality and poverty and protect the population against outbreaks of epidemics, to which we are still vulnerable, he said.

“Universal coverage must be a right for all. It restores their dignity and gives commitment in the future. Together we can make it a reality. Health for all is possible,” he concluded.

During the opening of the event, WHO and PAHO officials congratulated President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez for his recent election on April 19.

With the keynote speech Universal Health for Sustainable Development in Cuba, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, vice president of the State Council and Minister of Public Health, left the Convention open.

The Minister stressed that in a world that is insecure due to threats to world peace, wars, scarcity of food and water, depletion of energy sources and climate change, it is the responsibility of health systems, not only to cure, but to alert, to claim the need to protect our species and to help people to live healthily, with dignity and that all this be a human right.

Revolutionary triumph

Morales Ojeda made an exhaustive tour of the history of Cuban public health where the revolutionary triumph marked a before and after for the welfare of the population.

In this regard, he said that the Cuban health system has been constantly improving addressing necessary changes that respond to the health situation at all times.

It meant that primary health care constitutes the fundamental link of the Cuban health strategy, which along with the integration with the other two levels of care have allowed the country to exhibit indicators similar to those of developed nations.

It also starts, first, that health is a right endorsed in the Constitution of the Republic and the political will of the State to maintain it.

The budget allocated to this sector and social assistance represents 27 percent of the total state budget and 11 percent of gross domestic product, he said.

Cuba now has one doctor for every 122 inhabitants, one stomatologist for every 602 and one nurse for every 128, reaching higher figures than those showing first world countries.

In the 55 years of international medical collaboration, 407,000 professionals and technicians have participated, including 183,333 doctors in 164 countries, which exemplifies once again the humanist vocation of the Revolution, he said.