Cuba: The President’s 500 Tweets

Since last October 10th the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, began in Twitter, his tweets have already reached more than 500. Number 500 was posted this Wednesday on March 20th, at 7:41 a.m.

The piece of news is not just simple math, but the consolidation, through that media of thousand of messages, of the new type of communication in the Cuban political environment that the Cuban president has started in the Island.

The President’s 500 tweet

Although the topics in the tweets have been dissimilar, all are characterized by the same super objective explicit on the hashtag #SomosCuba, #SomosContinuidad and #FidelCastro.

Hence, from the systematicity, the transparency and commitment, the presidential agenda is on the hand of all residents and anyone interested worldwide.

Next to the Cuban flag and the royal palm as symbols he intentionally repeats, the President has made of his micro blogging a unique engine that drives leaders and institutions to join this contemporary way of doing which are a way to stay in touch with the people they respond to.

With every tweet, Díaz-Canel ratifies his respect to the citizenship that voted for him, his commitment to democracy and to “man's full dignity” validated in the Constitution by which he voted among the first ones.

His exhortations and arguments in favor of the new Constitution put the #YoVotoSí in Twitter.

What does the President talks about?

The order here below does not sets priorities, the Cuban President has talked about his journeys through the country and the contact with the people, about meetings held at the Council of Ministers, about science, computerization, History, about the Cuban economy and associated to it the Blockade, the commerce, the innovation, the production and efficiency, as well as imports and exports.

His tweets have also touched health, education, culture, family, students, youth in general and the Cuban woman.

There have also been present topics like Havana and its 500 years, the disaster and recovery soon after passing of the tornado, the press, the laws, the new constitution and especially, about Fidel Castro as example and guide next to Raúl.

He has also approached in his topics the foreign affairs, particularly the United States actions regarding Cuba and Latin America. In this topic of foreign affairs, the message on January 23rd, at 6:52 p.m., on the support of Cuba to Venezuela, he received the largest amount of “Likes” among all tweets, as indicate index engines for that social network.

Indexes also revealed that January was in fact the month in which the President was more active in Twitter, with 99 messages.

The so-called online government, the electronic government, and specifically the contact with leaders at the bottom, those who work in municipalities and provinces, have been rules in the President’s mandate and have equally feedback in his Tweeter profile.

Another of the peculiarities that distinguishes his tweets, marked by their reach, passion, feeling and strength, it’s how many of them highlight the worth of Cubans, their self-esteem and feeling of belonging.

When the president congratulates one specific Cuban, either a famous personality or somebody little known, when he equally stimulates with one of his messages to a group of workers or an entire sector like that of lawyers or the written press, he is also motivating the will of improvement every day.

Praising in those people or groups features like dignity, decency, human solidarity, the selflessness, the working spirit and the commitment to Homeland, he is implicitly setting examples to follow, stressing the “Yes we can” of Raúl, ratifying that #VamosPorMás.(#WeWantMore)

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US Seeks Excuses to Intensify Blockade against Cuba

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has reiterated today that the US Government is seeking pretexts to increase confrontation and intensify the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the island for almost six decades.

He who speaks about alleged deliberate acts against US diplomats in Cuba blatantly lies. There is not the slightest evidence or scientific explanation. The US is always manipulating for political purposes. The US is always finding out excuses to increase confrontation and intensify the blockade, the FM wrote on his Twitter account @BrunoRguezP.

Cuban Government ensured yesterday that there was no evidence of acoustic or other attacks against US diplomats.

No possible authors have been identified, nor any people with motivation, intention or means to execute this kind of actions, stressed Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Hernandez who attended yesterday a press conference at the Foreign Ministry.

The General Director of the US Office in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, said again that the island guarantees the security of all people, including diplomats accredited here.

Fernandez de Cossio expressed that Cuba has not questioned the existence of sick staff. The truth is that based on the research done and existing evidence, nothing indicates that the disease they may suffer or the symptoms reported are the result of their stay on the island.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Valdes, director of the Neurosciences Center of Cuba, summarized the work done by the committee of Cuban experts and the Academy of Sciences of the island on the alleged health incidents reported by US diplomats.

Washington insists on using the term attacks for the alleged health problems experienced by its diplomats, a position that Havana frames in the interest of the current administration in the White House in reversing the steps taken toward improving relations by previous administration of Barack Obama.

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Cuban Churches Also Blockaded by the U.S.

The Cuban United Lutheran, Baptist and Evangelical churches have denounced in Havana the innumerable impacts caused in relations with other religious institutions by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on the island.

In statements to Prensa Latina, Antonio Santana, President of the Cuban Council of Churches, pointed out that the blockade carried out by the White House administration affects the delivery of biblical material to Cuba from solidarity entities of other nations.

The reverend also indicated that within the U.S. territory a large number of devotees are pressing for the elimination of the blockade against Cuba, which has been in force for almost 60 years.

Santana stressed the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, however, he regretted the decline in ties.

Havana and Washington re-established their diplomatic ties in July 2015, leading to high level visits and the signing of some 20 agreements, but Donald Trump's inauguration at the White House in January 2017 represented an escalation in hostility towards the island.

'We present our declaration against the blockade and its essentially pastoral mission emphasizes the comparison of life with death and the damages this U.S. policy causes to society in Cuba', Ismael Laborde, bishop of the United Evangelical Cuban Church, told Prensa Latina.

He added that relations with North American religious institutions are always carried out through third countries, making procedures and twinning with these difficult.

In this regard, Laborde emphasized the heavy visa processes faced by U.S. Lutheran pastors and the obstacles to sending books and materials essential to church activities.

The United Nations General Assembly approved on November 1, for the twenty-seventh consecutive time since 1992, a resolution demanded the end of the blockade against Cuba.

The text was supported by 189 of the 193 member states of the multilateral organization.

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U.S. to Ban More Cuban Entities from Transactions

The U.S. government will expand the list announced almost a year ago of Cuban entities with which U.S. citizens are prohibited from making transactions, national security advisor John Bolton reported.

During a speech given in Miami, Florida, about the increased pressure from the Donald Trump administration on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the adviser announced more than twenty new institutions subjected to that measure.

The aforementioned list was released on November 8, 2017 as part of additional limitations imposed by Washington on travel and trade with the neighboring nation, and included about 180 entities allegedly linked to the island's defence sector and national security.

That relationship includes the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, five business groups, 83 hotels, two travel agencies, five marinas, 10 stores of different types, among other organizations of various kinds.

According to Bolton, the Presidential Memorandum of National Security on strengthening U.S. policy toward Cuba, signed by Trump in June 2017, is just the beginning of his efforts to put pressure on this country.

Although Cuba has expressed its willingness to engage in a bilateral dialogue on a basis of respect, without conditioning or impositions, the adviser said they will only approach a Cuban government that 'is ready to undertake necessary and tangible reforms.'

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U.S. Companies will Participate in Trade Fair FIHAV Despite Blockade

United States companies will participate in the 36th International Havana Fair (Fihav 2018) -starting on October 29-, despite the strengthening of the blockade on Cuba by the present U.S. administration, according to organizers of the event.

Their presence will be similar to the previous edition, despite the difficult bilateral economic relations bwetween both nations, due to the strengthening of restrictions hindering those links, said Cuban minister of Foreign Trade and Investments, Rodrigo Malmierca.

In a press round, the also president of the Organizing Committee of the Fair, commented the recent creation of a USA-Cuban joint venture in the Special Development Zone of Mariel to produce therapeutic vaccines against cáncer, showing the interest of U.S. entrepreneurs in doing business with Cuba.

This also represents a recognition of the development achieved by genetic engineering and biotechnology of the island in that sphere, he said.

Malmierca stressed that despite mentioned difficulties, over 60 countries will be represented in Fihav 2018, in an area of 25 thousand square meters of Expocuba fair grounds, the largest in Cuba, located in the outskirts of the capital.

The visit of some 20 official delegations are expected, headed by high officials, in another demonstration that the world is with us and the blockade isolates the United States, he emphasized.

Venezuela, Russia, China, Brazil, Spain, Italy and other trade partners of Cuba, are represented and Spain is traditionally the most represented with five pavilions.

In the central pavilion, will be exhibited Cuban products and services of some 350 enterprises grouped in 120 exhibitors, indicated the president of the Trade Chamber of the Republic of Cuba, Orlando Hernandez.

The president of Business Group Palco and member of the organizing committee, Abraham Masiques, estimated that over 2500 foreign businesspeople will exhibit at the fair, without counting those coming portfolio in hand to contact Cuban companies and those of other countries.

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Cuban Mission at UN Warns over US Blockade's Damage on Culture

Despite the increasing interest in cultural exchange between Cuba and the United States, the blockade currently hinders any interaction in that and other spheres, warns Cuba''s mission to the UN.

Since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, cultural policy has been a priority for the Cuban Government and this was demonstrated in the events held at the Kennedy Centre in Washington last May, according to a press release.

But from April 2017 to March 2018, the Cuban cultural sector has suffered the slap of the North American fence.

Last year, 497 musicians and professionals from the United States would participate in presentations and events in Cuba. Due to the tightening of the blockade, these artists could not participate in the agreed program, according to the statement.

Besides, in 2017 and at the beginning of 2018, 15 U.S. groups cancelled their visits to Cuba, including nearly 300 people.

On the other hand, the US blockade hampers the commercialization and promotion of music, visual and performing arts and literature: in most cases, Cuban groups traveling to the United States cannot receive income from their performances.

The record company Bis Music contacted several U.S. music distribution and publishing companies interested in Cuba. However, for fear of being sanctioned due to the blockade regulations, these companies did not complete the process.

Cuban groups such as Revolution, Rakatan and Havana Queen were also unable to sign direct contracts with U.S. businessmen.

In 2016 and 2017, the Havana International Book Fair (FILH) hosted the first and second meetings of Publishers, Distributors and Literary Agents from Cuba and the United States, where actions of rapprochement and cooperation began.

However, as a result of the new measures adopted by Washington, it was not possible to hold the third meeting during the 2018 FILH.

Moreover, due to the conditions imposed by the blockade, it is impossible for the Animation Studios of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry to obtain necessary software licenses.

Similarly, they cannot directly access one of the most important events in this area, the American Film Market.

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Cuba's President Addresses Bilateral Ties with U.S. Lawmakers

Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel met on Monday with Republican and Democrat members of the United States Congress, to whom he ratified the will to promote the advancement of bilateral relations.

During the meeting, held at the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN, the President also referred to the willingness to take advantage of the potential of cooperation based on equality and mutual respect.

Before Senators and Representatives, Diaz-Canel affirmed that the setback in relations and the persisting blockade are harming the interests of both nations.

He also said that in this context obstacles to the economic development of Cuba are also extended.

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The Cuban leader thanked the effort of the lawmakers attending the meeting to facilitate a rapprochement between the two countries and urged them to keep up the work to that purpose.

Diaz-Canel also referred to Cuba's political priorities, especially the constitutional reform process in which the population is participating broadly.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, one of the attendees, called the meeting a very good and constructive discussion, and expressed interest in promoting economic activities favorable to both countries.

'It will be a challenge with Donald Trump's administration, but I think the next Congress will have new people who support trade between the United States and Cuba,' he added.

Wyden, who referred to the midterm elections next November, said that counting on more lawmakers for that end would have very positive effects.

For his part, Congressman Gregory Meeks, in response to a question from Prensa Latina, considered unfair the restrictions Americans face to travel to Cuba.

This makes no sense, Cuba is not a threat to the United States, it is only 90 miles away, and it would be favorable and helpful for both countries to ensure that relations improve and that the travel ban disappear, said the Democrat lawmaker.

According to the senator, most U.S. citizens want the travel ban and the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington more than 55 years ago end.

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Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Kiev hit the streets to demand: Hey Trump! Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!

For over 56 years, the Cuban people have been enduring an unjust U.S. blockade, which has negatively impacted their daily lives. One example of the cruel effects of the blockade is the damages caused to the Cuban healthcare system. In this sector alone, the monetary damage is estimated at more than $87 million just in one year.

Despite all these challenges and obstacles by the Unitec States, Cuba is world renowned for its universal health care system, which has achieved a lower infant mortality rate than many first world countries, including the United States and Canada!

On December 17, 2014, former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Cuban President Raul Castro made the historic announcement that they would be moving towards normalizing relations. Although positive first steps were made towards lifting the U.S. blockade on Cuba, this progress was stalled under the Obama administration. Now the Trump administration has made efforts to turn back completely the progress made.

Here in Vancouver, after the 2014 announcement Cuba solidarity activists mobilized to protest the U.S. blockade, knowing that a big push of public opinion was needed to keep this momentum going in the right direction. Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) was formed and started organizing monthly picket actions in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver. Vancouver is now joined by Ottawa and Montreal, Canada and Kiev, Ukraine in united and coordinated monthly actions against this criminal and unjust blockade and demanding that the U.S. return the U.S. occupied territory of Guantanamo to Cuba!

In Vancouver on August 17, 2018, Cuba solidarity activists and their supporters marched in front of the U.S. consulate holding picket signs high and chanting “Hey Trump, Lift the Blockade!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!”. Between rounds of picketing, the protesters gathered together to hear from local speakers, as well as to hear a phone message of solidarity from Ottawa Cuba Connections, who also protested that day in front of the U.S. Embassy.

To wrap up the action, protesters gathered together for a photo in front of the U.S. Consulate doors, proudly holding a banner reading “End the Blockade of Cuba!” This photo was shared on Twitter and Facebook around the world to spread the word that supports for Cuba and protest against the blockade is alive and well here in Vancouver!

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