Cuban cartoonist won in France his long-sought cow

Angel Boligan, aka Boli, cartoonist native from Ariguanabo, was stunned after he was awarded with a “meatball” in Sant Just le Martel, little cattle town in France.

He is the first Cuban-born cartoonist in receiving such award. We talked about the story and the cow via email from Mexico —country where he is living right now—, even though he still feels like a farmer from San Antonio de los Banos.

For how long has Saint Just le Martel been giving cows as the award?

The Festival in St. Just was born in 1982. Since 1987, a cow is awarded to one cartoonist. Therefore, this is cow number 30!

More than 200 cartoonists competed this year. Did you compete with already published or unpublished works? What did you do?

Cartoonists send their published or unpublished works and a jury, or commission decides the winner of the year. But I believe the work of the year outweighs the drawings. Last year, one hundred of my drawings were exhibited. I was asked to send thirty this year. But I also know they follow my work via social media.

Is it true you stay in the villagers’ houses?

Yes, it is really a very small town fifteen kilometers away from the city of Limoges. At the very beginning, they held the event in a circus tent and villagers welcomed contestants in their homes. A majestic cultural center was built to carry out the exhibitions and events, but visitors continue staying at the villagers’ houses. This is a very nice tradition that citizens wait for every year. Of course, they must be noticed some months in advance if you plan to attend and wait for the confirmation.

Why did you want to attend this event?

I received the call in my house in San Antonio de los Banos every year since 1987. The invitation was sympathetic since they urge me travel to any point in France, and they were responsible for taking me to St. Just. I always listened to comments and anecdotes from colleagues who attended and winning the cow as the award. I think many colleagues would want to participate as St. Just is heaven for cartoonists and…winning a cow.

Are you the first Cuban to win it?

Yes, several French cartoonists won the cow such as Wolinski, Tignous, Cabu (they were all murdered in the attacks to Charlie Hedo). In recent years, the cow has been awarded to Venezuelan Rayma, American Cagle, Israelite Kichka, and Tunisian Gueddar.

What did you do with the cow?

The cow is immense and her name is Glycine. She escaped once she stepped down the truck and ran all over the town until we captured her near the church. There I knew I was the chosen one to own her. The truth is I had a hard time to convince her. As farmer, I persuaded her with patience. Everyone wanted a photo with her. I was nervous about how should I take this cow home but I was relieved when I was told the cow would remain in Limonges and someone would pay the price to me!

How many international awards do you have?

174 with this one.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Now

Francis del Río: Cuba defines me

I met him at PM Record recently and without further ado, with his entire spontaneity he agreed to talk with Cubasi about his projects.  

But music was not his first issue: “I’ve just had a baby, it’s my most important project now, he’s called Orun del Río and nicknamed Maceo, and then I am so happy, focused on that”.

After confessing he was a happy father, he commented: “I remain with Interactivo (band), everyone knows it, I’ve just made nine themes very enthusiastic and with much love, really, as if it were a disc of mine for Clave Channel. Recently, I made a job for Eyeife Festival with Suylen Milanés, they are a sort of prayers we use in Ifa, sung on electronic music, they’re sixteen magical prayers.

Also about “Ifa”, the material in which he works with Suylen, he added: “the mere fact of praying them, wherever that vibration reaches, is like blessing that place, I think it is a way of harmonizing any place, based on our African roots and the roots of the world as well, because in the end, life began in Africa.

In his versatility, Francis is not afraid to get involved in any project, as long as it fulfills a truth proven for him: “We are Cubans, whatever the genre we use and our bases are African and we should not forget that at all, if the basis of that is not in a place, we cannot be there either, I, at least, won’t be….”

There are no limits of genres for this creator, it’s just music: “I love music, I think you can name music anyway, but I do that inherently, I cannot stop doing that, I do not know how to stop doing it…

And in such diversity, what is the connecting thread: “Cuba, it seems a short answer, but that’s it".

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Now

Cuba: Women's Judo Team Reaches Top Competition

“Our aim is for the whole team to qualify for next year’s regional competition,” said Felix Portuondo, head coach of the women's team.

The women's judo team of Cuba has reached the Barranquilla 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 28-29.

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“Our aim is for the whole team to qualify for next year’s regional competition,” said Felix Portuondo, head coach of the women's team. He stressed that Cuba's main contender in the tournament will be Mexico, according to Granma.

“Yanisleidys Ponciano from Havana will be competing in the 44kg division, a tough athlete with a strong chance of making it to the final. World Championship medal winner Melissa Hurtado will represent Cuba in the 48kg. Her main rival will be Pan American Games silver medalist Edna Carrillo of Mexico."

Portuondo conceded that Hurtado appeared “a lot stronger” during her training sessions in Budapest.

Also participating in the competition will be Yurisleidi Hernandez. Portuondo commented that Mexican judoka Luz Olvera, a gold recipient in the Cancun's Grand Prix and silver at the Pan-Am Championships, will be her main rival. Despite stiff competition posed by Olvera, Portuondo exalted Hernandez's high-level of discipline and training routine, saying that such qualities are a winning combination.

Anailys Dorvigni, yet another member of Cuba's women judoka team who participated in Budapest, will take to the tatami in the Dominican Republic. She's scheduled to fight against Germany's Miryam Roper who is ranked fourth in the world.

“Maylin del Toro is competing in the 63kg, and it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to win gold,” Portuondo said.

However, he concluded that Olga Masferrer, from Holguin, “will face stiff competition in the 70kg."

"This is the hardest weight group to predict, and will feature Colombia’s Yuri Alvear - bronze medal winner in Budapest and ranked second in the world; Elvismar Rodríguez of Venezuela, number three in the global ranking; and Maria Perez of Puerto Rico, current World silver medalist.”

  • Published in Sports

From the Television: It Sounded Well, it could Sound Better

Last Sunday finished the third season Sounding in Cuba. Still being the most spectacular show in Cuban television, but it certainly could rethink a few aspects…  

Of course it was difficult, very difficult to choose a winner this season of Sounding in Cuba, taking into account the quality of contestants. Almost all participants experienced a growth in these weeks, they improved technically and expressively… that is one of the virtues of this competition: the work of coaches as well as the work of those in charge stage setup are patent in the quality boost: let’s just remember the performance of the singers in their first auditions and compare it with what was seen (heard) in the last shows.  

Most of these singers have gained confidence, domain of their voices and on stage, in the stage presence, in the expression of dissimilar styles. Finally Anthony Puig won with a brilliant performance of this Sunday show.  

The other two finalists (even, the semifinalists and not few of those eliminated who put up great performances in their last presentation) are ready to take upon a career… and that is another virtue of Sounding in Cuba: it refreshes and renovates the panorama of Cuban popular music. We’d wish companies, record studios, the media offered more chances to some of these singers, because, frankly, they usually offer a more overwhelming proposal than those of many experienced singers.  

Far passed the rewards of singers and key polemic elements for the decisions made by the coaches, Sounding in Cuba consolidates as the flashiest show in Cuban Television. It has seduced a considerable amount of public that every Sunday evening sits in front of the Television and participates with enthusiasm in the voting.  

The fact that the chosen repertoire is exclusively Cuban could seem a bit closed to many viewers, but it’s a decision of principles: there is a large heritage and up to a point unknown of our music; in times of quick globalization of the culture, it’s worth highlighting autochthonous features that anyhow dialogue with the universal wealth.  

But in this season that job of exploring was more near the surface. Contestants and their coaches were almost always chose a list of proven authors (of dissimilar qualities), to creations of the contestants (not always meeting the standard of a national competition) and songs of the very coaches they had, particularly remarkable circumstance in the eastern zone.

Sounding in Cuba could rescue that archaeological vocation, to delve into the catalogs of record studios, to get interested in the creations of important composers… to enrich the spectrum, making it more suggesting, inspiring. Cuban popular music still surprises part of the public with too narrow goals.  

Another troublesome point of this edition: the rules. We won't enter the debate on whether the show copy or not formulas of the most commercial television. We are convinced that the formats either work or they don't… and if they work, we need to accompany them with some cultural dignity which to a certain extent is the case of Sounding in Cuba. Now then, the rules must be clear since day one. And that didn’t happen this season.  

As the competition advanced, and by the "spontaneous" initiative of organizers, modifications were made that contributed little or nothing at all; these changes rather confused the audience and created unfortunate situations for some competitors. What was the meaning of those steals without previous notice?  

In the penultimate show they tried to fix the problem gathering the singers selected in trio song; and later the presenter affirmed that "at first the steal choice was not understood". Actually never nor at the beginning neither the end. In contests based on progressive elimination of participants you cannot improvise neither add rules at the last minute.  

A show filled with steals never took place.  

All in all, everything indicates that Sounding in Cuba is here to stay, and has responded the audience’s demand, the artists and the television itself. This season has sounded well, but in the future it could certainly sound better.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

YOUNG AND ARTIST: “I would like to dance without having to go through rehearsals”

Lisandra Gómez, first dancer of the Contemporary Ballet of Camagüey, is a delegate to the World Festival of Youth and Students. I interviewed her after a rehearsal at her company’s headquarters.

At the art school, Lisandra studied the technique and style of a more academic dance, but life took her through another course: for several years now she has been first dancer of a company, where you do not have to stand on your tips: The Contemporary Ballet of Camagüey.

—Do you miss you never danced a classic? Would you have liked, for example, to dance Giselle?

—I would have liked a lot to dance Swan Lake, which always was my favorite classic. Although I had the opportunity to do it in Peru, after having been dancing contemporary ballet for eight years.

—Why contemporary ballet?

—That was not a choice, it was a need. And it was the possibility to go on dancing. I could not continue dancing classics because of health problems. I had iron absorption problems and rigorous diets did not allow me to continue dancing a more academic line.

—It seems you took on contemporary ballet without much desire….

—Of course, I took it with all desires! What I liked most was the possibility to come closer to very diverse languages. The freedom I felt captivated me, not only while dancing, but also while creating myself. I could break barriers I had from school, sometimes ballet teaching is pretty closed. An arabesque is an arabesque, but in contemporary dance you can “fracture” that same step and take two or three new ones with the same basis.

—They say dancers are too engaged in their world. How is your life beyond dance? What are you interested in?

—Of course, I am very passionate about photography. I would like to devote myself to it at some point in my life. My family is a vital topic for me. I like to spend time with my son, to arrive home and forget the problems of my workplace, simply to be that concerned mother, who sits next to him to help him with his homeworks.

http://test.cubasi.cu/lisi-01.jpg

—But you live with another dancer at home. What’s so good or bad to be married with someone who does the same job as you?

—I haven’t found anything wrong yet. And it’s been five years. At first, people used to tell me to be careful, that a relationship like that could not be healthy, because we spent too much time together, at work and at home, and that many things were going to mix… Certainly, we take work problems to the house, but I don’t think that will deteriorate the relationship. Jesús (Arias) is my support. He’s a person who knows me, who I do not have to take poses with. He’s the man who understands me when I arrived home very tired, because he knows from his own experience how difficult it is to develop a career like ours.                                                                          

—What do you feel seconds before a performance begins?

—I get very nervous…

—How do you handle that nervousness?

—That only lasts some seconds, just the moment before coming on stage. After I am out there, it’s magic. I stop being myself and begin to feel differently. I cannot explain it to you with words, it’s ineffable.

—Is there any ballet, any character which you have particularly felt comfortable with?

—Yes, it has happened with “A él” (To him), piece by Pedro Ruiz. I love characters that demand from me not only a technique, but a feeling, a commitment, a psychology as well… That ballet demands so. And if you add that the character is Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, because I consider her the best. I always identify myself with that woman. She was absolutely revolutionary; she always went beyond her time.

—A dancer’s career is usually short…

—I have never thought about the sadness of finishing. When you love art, dance, your career is forever, because there are many ways to go on contributing. The day when I cannot dance any more, I am not going to feel sad, because I will keep the desires to create. I feel a very strong need to teach. Right now, I lack time to investigate; perhaps I will have it when I stop dancing. I would like to venture into photography more frequently.http://test.cubasi.cu/lisi-03.jpg

         With her husband and co-worker, first dancer Jesús Arias.

 

—When did you know you were going to be a dancer?

—In the last years at elementary level. Earlier, I just wanted to dance. When I was a girl my mother took me to watch a ballet performance and I fell in love with the tutu and ballet slippers. I wanted to dance but I was not very aware about what a profession meant. When I was in fourth year, I realized that in addition to pleasure, dancing implied great responsibilities. It was like a revelation. And hence, I knew that I wanted to be a dancer.

—I know what you are going to answer, but anyway I ask you: what do you like the most, the stage or the rehearsal room?

—Obviously: the stage! I would like to dance every day of my life without having to go through rehearsals. But well, that’s impossible. Staging and rehearsing processes are indispensable. You must have chances to make mistakes without big consequences; you have to know your character, you have to work on the cleanness of your performance….

—Do you dream that you dance? Are you a better or worse dancer in your dreams?

—A lot! I see myself doing turns I cannot do in normal life.

—You are a delegate to the World Festival of Youth and Students. What prospects do you travel to Russia with?

—Those of the exchange with young people from all over the world. I might answer questions about the life of a youn person in Cuba and would like to know about the reality of other places. Dialogue will always be the most important thing.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff



  • Published in Specials

Breaking the Blockade against Cuba: Interview with Claudia Camba

Ricardo Vaz: Can you tell us a bit of the history of Operación Milagro (“Operation Miracle”)?

Claudia Camba: Operación Milagro was borne out of another great Cuban internationalist mission, which was the literacy program “Yo Sí Puedo” (“Yes I can”), and more concretely in Venezuela, where this literacy program was called “Misión Robinson”. The Venezuelans, through this program, had the goal of teaching 1 million people how to read and write in six months. Throughout this time they had some major successes as well as big difficulties, and one of them was the participants’ vision. Almost all the illiterate taking part in this program were adults with vision problems.

To overcome this Cuba sent 1500 optometrists, to test the peoples’ vision and give them glasses. But even with glasses some people could not see, and after an examination it turned out that they had cataracts. That is how “Misión Milagro”, which initially was just between Venezuela and Cuba, was born. With this mission over 300.000 Venezuelans travelled to Cuba to have surgery, not only for cataracts but also for other eye problems.

RV: And this mission is later extended to Argentina?

CC: Later on, in 2005, Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro begin to wonder: why not extend this mission to the whole of Latin America? Our organisation, UMMEP (“Un Mundo Mejor Es Posible”, “A better world is possible”), had been conducting the “Yo Sí Puedo” literacy program in Argentina, and we were approached by Cuba about the possibility of articulating ourselves with “Operación Milagro”. For us it was an honour to accept this cooperation.

In the beginning the mission involved sending Argentinian patients to be operated in Cuba. The first airplane with Argentinian patients left at the time of the “Summit of the Peoples”, in November 2005. This summit was created to counter the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata. Bush was coming to set up the ALCA free trade agreement and many Latin American presidents, with this newfound unity that had been forming, were prepared to strike a blow against Bush and the empire. One part of it was burying ALCA, and another was creating ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas), from the initiative of Venezuela and Cuba, in Argentina. That is why it was so symbolic that on that very day the first Argentinian patients left for Cuba.

RV: And what about the “Che Guevara” hospital in Córdoba, when does it appear?

CC: This initial version of Operación Milagro lasted around 6 months. It was ridden with difficulties, because as you can imagine, we were dealing with very humble people that did not have passports, had never left the country, some did not even know the neighbouring town. Argentina is a very big country, and to fly out of Buenos Aires you sometimes need to travel 2000 km to reach the airport. So the matter of passports and travels was very difficult.


Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro (Photo: Granma)

But in January 2006 Evo Morales triumphed in Bolivia, and declared that Bolivia was to join the ALBA agreements. Then Cuba replied that, under these agreements, hospitals would be built in Bolivia. We sent a letter to Fidel Castro proposing that, if this went ahead, then Argentinian patients could be operated in Bolivia. Being a neighbouring country, passports were not needed and a national ID document was enough. And that is how this began, this epic journey which involved Fidel, Evo and Chávez, through which 13 hospitals were built, 2 of them dedicated to patients from Argentina. Over 30.000 people from Argentina were operated in Bolivia.

A few years later, the following idea appeared, again from Cuba: given all our experience, with thousands of surgeries and plenty of doctors who did the pre- and post-surgical work in Argentina, why not gather these doctors and set up our own hospital in Argentina? This would have Cuba’s support, but not a Cuban medical team, because in Argentina the Cuban doctors’ degrees are not recognised. (This is absurd, since we are talking about the country with the highest development in terms of healthcare in Latin America and the Caribbean!).

With this idea in mind, we searched for a location, Cuba donated all the equipment and we inaugurated the Ernesto “Che” Guevara hospital on October 8, 2009, at first in a temporary location that was loaned to us. We started there and operated more than 7000 patients in that hospital. Two years ago we had the good fortune of being able to move to our own building, which has the advantage that it can be extended in the future, to make room for a university, lodging for patients. The campaign we are launching has to do with that.

RV: You have mentioned the relation between Operación Milagro and the literacy program “Yo Sí Puedo“. But how is it connected to another major component of Cuban internationalism, which is the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM)?

CC: The establishment of the mission in Argentina is deeply connected to ELAM and to the first Argentinian graduates from the school. Not in the stage where patients were being flown to Cuba but in the Bolivian stage. In this stage, when Fidel proposed setting up hospitals, he also urged that the first 50 Argentine graduates from ELAM be called to work in this mission. This was a very important task, because they did not have their medical degrees recognised in Argentina. Fidel was very worried, especially about their morale, since they had been trained to save lives and were barred from doing it. They were not able to practice medicine in Argentina, but they could do it in Bolivia. This would help their self-esteem since their situation was incredibly unfair.

Many of these doctors had been in Venezuela and founded, after a suggestion from Chávez, the so-called “batallón 51”. Seven of them joined us. Other doctors joined us later, and there was also the possibility of giving them scholarships to get specialty training in Cuba. This is the case of our current director, Lucía Coronel, who studied epidemiology. Besides her there are three general practitioners from the ELAM, an anaesthesiologist and an ophthalmologist. These are the ELAM graduates currently working with us in Operación Milagro. The other doctors are graduates from the universities in Córdoba. It is also interesting to witness how both groups come together, exchange ideas, make each other better, it is wonderful.


Operación Milagro
has allowed 50.000 Argentinians to regain their vision free of charge (Photo: Operación Milagro)

RV: Is there resistance from the Argentinian medical corporations to these Cuban-trained doctors? After all, they are taking away a potentially lucrative business!

CC: That is true. The pressure against us, if we look at it, we do not feel it will come from the government. Because we are solving a problem for the government, it is not in their interest to attack us. Those who seem to be getting emboldened, with the capitalists and the right-wing back in power, are the medical corporations. This is what is happening in Argentina. Now, what might happen? Throughout the years, they have pressured doctors not to join us. They never managed to do that with the Cuban-trained ones, of course. They tried to denigrate them, but the people love them, they are where they are supposed to be.

In our case, if the medical establishment attacks us I think it would backfire. Because imagine a hospital where every day people arrive from different parts of Argentina, especially from around Córdoba. If, suppose, they attacked us and we had to close (which will not happen because it is not possible), they will have their waiting rooms full of poor people. What we have been figuring out through the years is that the large waiting lists in the hospitals have worked to increase the prices of surgeries in the private sector, prices that may reach 20.000 or even 30.000 pesos (between 1000 and 1500€). The very doctors that are in the public hospitals many times also run private practices. So it might be in their interest to have large waiting lists, it is a matter of supply and demand using blind people to regulate the market. But at the same time these corporations have no intention of operating on anyone for free.

It is important to stress that this hospital is a hospital of the people. In other words, the people will defend it. But, of course, the corporations have their own interests, which is why we are struggling for socialism.

RV: Going back to a more concrete topic, how does the hospital run? In terms of funding, medicines, etc…

CC: The hospital runs thanks to the solidarity of Cuba. Essentially, up until now, the Cuban ministry of health donates every year the necessary medicines and supplies for the hospital to run, through the institution that manages medical services abroad. This is a lot of money. And when we were having financial troubles Cuba also helped us so we could keep going. Beyond that, we also get funds from donations. Some people do it through the internet, others leave it in a box we have in the hospital. Other countries have also offered their solidarity. For example, the Juntas Generales de Guipúzcoa, from the Basque Country, donated money for 3 years to buy a laser equipment, as well as medicines and supplies. Some laboratories also donate medicines and supplies and that is how we keep going. Trade unions and social movements also offer their contributions.


Claudia Camba participated in the XIV Spain Solidarity Meeting with Cuba, which took place in Bilbao from 9-11 June 2017 (Photo: Cubainformación)

RV: People sometimes do not understand, especially western people, that a country like Cuba that has its fair share of difficulties, maintains these solidarity programs…

CC: The key is to understand the difference between solidarity and charity. Solidarity means sharing what we have, and charity is giving away whatever is left. Not only that, solidarity will never bind anyone, or be a mechanism to colonise, or demand something in return, rather it will complement the existing knowledge. This is why Cuba has always sought to have sustainable hospitals and why we are also planning to set up a medical school, so that solidarity can keep multiplying beyond Cuba. In practice the hospital is Argentinian, there is only a Cuban doctor that works as a consultant, and then there are 15 Argentinian doctors. In other words, this goal of sustainability has been achieved.

Other than that there is the difference between two systems. It is hard to grasp it if we are looking from a capitalist perspective. This is like the tourist that goes to Cuba and evaluates everything with a capitalist mindset. Now, whoever understands that socialism is meant to place people front and centre, and not capital, will understand this. And on the other hand, if we want to talk about poverty, there are plenty of poor people in Argentina, as well as problems of children living in the streets, eating from rubbish bins, as well as child prostitution. In Cuba you will not find a child suffering from malnutrition, or sleeping in the street. Unicef recognised Cuba as the only Latin American country without childhood malnutrition. It is the country with the largest life expectancy and the lowest child mortality rate in Latin America and the Caribbean. Does every Cuban have a car? Surely not, but that is also not the case in Argentina. This is what I mean. Poverty can mean different things from a capitalist or a socialist perspective.

RV: Now turning to the “Súmate” campaign (“Join Us”), what are its goals?

CC: In our current hospital building we have the possibility of constructing two more floors on top. The idea is to start by building an area to lodge patients that come from the countryside. People come and sometimes have no place to stay, they have surgery and end up sleeping in the bus terminal. This is unthinkable, it is illogical, a health hazard for the person. So we are planning to build this not only for the people in the countryside nearby, but also to coordinate with other provinces further away, so that people can come in an organised fashion, have surgery, stay here, then return to their houses and have a doctor do a post-surgery check. This is the idea to begin with.

The second step is to create an auditorium for lectures, so that we can bring specialists from around the world to share their experiences with Argentinian doctors about everything that has to do with public healthcare. We want to strengthen public health system. And the accommodation will also work for them, because in the cities there is access to this kind of training, but not so much in the countryside. That means that they can never operate on patients because they have no way of receiving training, and we think that is something that we can help with.


The “Súmate” campaign in front of the Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara ophthalmologic centre in Córdoba (Photo: Operación Milagro)

RV: As far as I understand, the work involves more than just receiving patients. There is also outreach work to find patients?

CC: Indeed. The program is built on a premise from the beginning, which is called “active search” (“pesquisa activa”). Fidel, for example, talked about this when he was in Córdoba and gave a speech at the university. The point is that we do not simply wait for people to find us. Although we do have open consultations, on weekends the doctors go out, thanks to a network that social organisations set up in their neighbourhoods, and perform this active search. So the doctor goes there because there is something going on with peoples’ vision, and those that have a problem that we are able to deal with are forwarded to the hospital. This way we are breaking some of the biggest barriers in ophthalmology, which are geographical, informational or communicational. There are people who believe their problems have no solution! Especially older people. But blindness due to cataracts is reversible, so we need to go out and find them. This is what our doctors do.

RV: One last question: the blockade against Cuba also manifests itself through the media. This makes it so that nothing is said about Cuban internationalism and solidarity. Why do you think this is so? Why is it so dangerous for people to find out what Cuba is doing?

CC: Because it would reveal the humanism of socialism. Because it would reveal what a country that has been under a blockade for more than 50 years has been able to achieve. This is similar to the demonisation of Venezuela, omitting all that Venezuela has been doing around the world. For example, the PetroCaribe program in the Caribbean, or its response after the earthquake in Haiti. Venezuela also helped us in a lot of programs, with Cuba often providing the human resources and Venezuela the financial ones. All this solidarity is never heard of.

Even more so concerning Cuba, because Cuba is the model of what can be achieved. Imagine how much more it could do without the economical and media blockade! It is our task to break the blockade. And we, Argentinians involved in solidarity with Cuba, feel that these missions are a way to breach the blockade bit by bit. Every time we get to a poor neighbourhood the people are made aware of Cuba, they are introduced to this very small island called Cuba that is big when it comes to solidarity. And that is how they get to know for the first time what Cuba is all about.

  • Published in Cuba

Guevarist times

The encampment of thousands of people, mainly youngsters from all over the world, at Vallegrande, Bolivia, very close to the place where Che Guevara passed to immortality, symbolizes the ever-lasting influence and need in the world of the example and ideas of the Cuban-Argentinean revolutionary. Among those encamped was President Evo Morales, main organizer of the dozens of cultural and political activities that have been held there to recall the heroic guerrilla half a century after his fall in combat and subsequent assassination ordered by the CIA. Along with Evo were Che’s children and brother Roberto, as well as Commander Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, a heavyweight within Cuban leadership and close comrade of Guevara in the Sierra Maestra, the invasion of the West and the Battle of Santa Clara.

It could have been very hard for a revolutionary Indian to reach the presidency and refound Bolivia without the antecedent of Che’s guerrilla, the moral example he laid down, and the cycle of popular struggles that he inspired from then on in the territory of what is today a Plurinational State. Together with Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba too are living experiences of social transformation in which the fresh and renovating thinking of Che is evident. But in many other places in the world, popular struggles find incentives in that thinking and example.

The fervor that Che arouses in Neozapatism, in the universities of Latin America and among young people across the planet is well-known.

Che spoke in Cuba last October 8th through the speech of its First Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who evoked the validity of his thinking before the mausoleum, where his remains rest, and remarked, as essential in Cuba’s foreign policy, that unforgettable phrase by the guerrilla fighter at the UN General Assembly, in which he warned that “We cannot trust imperialism in the tiniest bit, absolutely nothing”. Díaz-Canel outlines the difficult and uncertain situation humanity is facing with the new forms of accumulation of neoliberal capitalism, the military interventions, the attempts of cultural colonization and standardization, the danger of a nuclear war and climate change as a threat to the survival of mankind. In a guevarist-tone speech he stressed Cuba’s internationalist policy and in the face of the threats and sanctions against Venezuela reiterated "The unconditional solidarity of Cuba toward the Bolivarian and Chavista people, their civic-military union, and the government headed by constitutional president, comrade Nicolás Maduro Moros".

The island’s first vice-president underlined that faithful to the legacy of Fidel and Che “Cuba will not make concessions essential to its sovereignty and independence, nor will it negotiate its principles or accept conditions. The changes needed in Cuba are solely being decided by the Cuban people”.

It’s pertinent to recall at present that Guevara, who wrote in his Bolivian diary on the 14th anniversary of the attack on Moncada Barracks, “Rebellion against oligarchies and revolutionary dogmas”, granted exceptional significance to the study of the revolutionary theory in its original sources. To its permanent enrichment by means of the critical analysis of the reality that is being transformed. To the generation of a new socialist and communist awareness called to be built and surpassed daily in the revolutionary practice. To the indomitable will of struggle with the greatest attachment to principles.

To unprejudiced unity of all real revolutionaries regardless of their initials or labels of origin and to the free exercise of internationalism, indispensable requirements as much to the overthrow of capitalism as the rise of the people to the political power, and the construction of the new society.

Along with Fidel, he stood out in his practice as one of the leaders of the Cuban revolution and in the study of the experiences prior to the road to the elaboration of a veritable theory of the socialist construction, almost nonexistent when Cuba embraced that hope. The self-transformation of the human being into a “new man” as core aim of socialism and the main role of the will to produce and speed up the revolutionary transformations are probably the most valuable contributions to the revolutionary thinking of these two great men of all time.

Twitter:@aguerraguerra

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

 

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Andreichenko: Belarus-Cuba relations are based on friendship, mutual understanding

MINSK, 12 October (BelTA) – The relations between Belarus and Cuba are based on friendship and mutual understanding, Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus Vladimir Andreichenko said at the meeting with Cuban Ambassador to Belarus Gerardo Suarez Alvarez on 12 October, BelTA has learned.

This year Belarus and Cuba are marking 25 years of diplomatic relations. “They have always been based on friendship and mutual understanding, and they have been so since the Soviet times,” said Vladimir Andreichenko. He added that over 25 years the two countries have built a robust foundation of cooperation, thanks to the leaders of the two states in the first place.

The two states have been steadily developing a legal framework of the bilateral relations. For instance, this year the agreements on cooperation were signed by the agrarian and culture ministries. The inter-parliamentary ties have been strengthening as well. Vladimir Andreichenko thanked the Cuban side for the support of the National Assembly in seeking the status of the observer in the Latin American Parliament. “We are very active there,” the speaker said.

Belarusian MPs have always supported Cuba in international organizations, advocating for the release of the Cuban Five and the end of the United States embargo against Cuba. Gerardo Suarez Alvarez is completing its diplomatic mission in Belarus. He thanked the country's authorities for fruitful cooperation and also the Belarusian people for support and solidarity. “Belarus became a true friend for Cuba long time ago. The two states enjoy great political relations. Some progress has been made in the trade and economic cooperation,” he stressed.

The two countries have been successfully implementing the signed agreements, for instance, the ones on mutual supplies. Under the document, Cuba exports mediations to Belarus, while Belarus sells agricultural equipment to Cuba. Over the past 2.5 years the volume of mutual supplies reached $6 million. The states continue talks to prolong the loan agreement, develop sci-tech cooperation.

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