Sergio Paneque

Sergio Paneque

Cuba Prepares for Municipal Elections

Cubans continued Thursday the process of nominating candidates for the upcoming municipal elections.

The selection process for candidates began nationwide on Tuesday, and will continue until March 25.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), 167,263 Cubans have already stepped forward as potential candidates. Around 44 percent of the hopefuls are women. The final candidates will vie for positions in Cuba's 12,589 municipal councils, with between two and eight candidates required by law for each position.

Any of Cuba's roughly 8 million eligible voters can run, but not along party lines. Municipal elections are strictly non-partisan, and very little campaigning takes place. Instead, candidates are expected to woo voters familiar with their track records as responsible members of the community, rather than through the kinds of expensive publicity campaigns common in Western nations.

After candidates have been selected, voting will take place on April 19. Run off votes will be held on April 26 for any positions where no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

The municipal elections are one of three tiers of voting in Cuba's government, along with provincial and national elections. Municipal level voting takes place once every two and a half years.

Since the mid 1970s, all municipal elections have had turnouts above 90 percent of eligible voters, though voting isn't compulsory in Cuba. According to government figures, the last municipal level elections in 2012 saw turnout just over 90 percent – similar levels to the national and provincial elections of 2013.

  • Published in Cuba

CheapAir First to Sell Single-Purchase Cuba Flights

Travel booking site CheapAir.com is making a play for the Cuba market, USAToday reports.

The company says it has become the first on-line travel agency to allow U.S. travelers to book flights between the U.S. and Cuba in a single on-line transaction. The option began at 8 a.m. ET Thursday morning, when CheapAir enabled booking for flights between U.S. cities and Havana.

New travel rules enacted by U.S. President Barack Obama have broaden the opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba under twelve special categories, excluding tourism.

"Since the rule change, we have seen a surge in search volumes for travel to Cuba," CheapAir.com CEO Jeff Klee says in a statement. "Arranging flights to Cuba is a little complicated, but it's the kind of thing we're good at and our technology platform is flexible enough to make it possible. Our team did a great job building it out in just a few weeks' time."

CheapAir's move follows the move of popular search site Kayak.com, which earlier this month began showing -- but not selling -- flight and hotel options for Cuba.

But, as CheapAir's Klee suggests, there are notable catches for those interested in booking travel to Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Book by Gerardo Hernandez, one of The Five, Presented in Havana

The book entitled Dibujos de Gerardo Hernandez: Humor desde mi pluma ("Drawings by Gerardo Hernandez: Humor from my Pen,") which includes drawings and documents related to the case of the five Cuban antiterrorist heroes unfairly condemned in the United States in 2001, was presented on Monday in this capital.

It's a compilation of caricatures I made while I was in prison, on Fidel (Castro) and various topics, as forms of expression, said Gerardo at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) during the ceremony where the book was presented by Manuel Lopez, coordinator of the Committee for the Freedom of The Five in Ukraine, the organization that prepared and paid for printing.

Also included in the book, in addition to the 36 caricatures, was an explanation on the case of the antiterrorists, the Affidavit presented at the court by Gerardo's lawyer, Martin Garbus, and pictures of friends of international solidarity who visited him imprison, he explained.

According to Lopez, working in the text published in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on October 22, were Ukrainians, Argentineans, Venezuelans and friends of other nationalities.

The epilogue was written by Gilbert Browstone, a friend of Cuba and president of the Browstone Foundation. The book was edited in the United States and it is being distributed by the Amazon network, Lopez informed.

On December 17, after 16 years of unfair imprisonment in U.S. jails, Ramon, Antonio y Gerardo returned to their homeland and joined their families; Rene and Fernando, the other two members of the group, were released after serving their sentences.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Seismologists to Widen Contact with International Networks

The National Center for Seismologic Investigations (Cenais) based here, is working for a greater connection to international nets in order to improve the location of earthquakes in different latitudes and verify the quality of their signals. Doctor Enrique Arango, vice-director of Cenais, told reporters of Prensa Latina, that during the 8th Workshop for Data Handling of Seismolgic Nets in Colombia, new identification codes at international level were assigned to the Cuban stations.

Arango said technical adjustments are being made, to check the output of the signals by computers, in four of the units of the National Seismologic Service (SSN) with analysis and processing systems from international networks, to improve the quality.

The Cuban expert said these works are developed under the direction of the Association of Seismologic Investigation Institutes, which gathers all these scientific institutions, promotes the exchange among specialists and trains them on how to estimate the dangers and mitigation of risks for the population and the infrastructure.

The record of seismicity is performed by 11 seismic stations in seven provinces with the most advanced technology as if there is a significant tremor signal there are also signal detection systems used in nearby latitudes.

Among those points, there are those at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Grand Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos.

In the Central Station, located in this city, records of earthquakes are receieved in real time, and analyzed by processing software widely used by seismic signals systems internationally, such as the SEISAN and EDSP-IAS, for incorporation into the foundations data.

During this year and next, the technological development of SSN will continue, with new programs that automate the processing and analysis of its records, which enhance the contribution to early warning systems in the region for detection and early warning of strong earthquakes and tsunamis .

Other perspectives are the amplification of the network, with new seismometers in the central region, specifically in the towns of Camarioca, province of Matanzas, and Caibarién, in Villa Clara, for which there is the necessary equipment and expectation for the construction of the civil work.

Equally , there are another two seismological stations in the municipality of Moa, Holguín, and five more are being on projects, to improve the localization of the earthquakes in the south eastern region of Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba
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