Che Guevara is Remembered for His Impeccable Example

The Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967) had among his main virtues that of preaching by example and demanding more from himself than from others, the internationalist fighter Tomas Escandon recalled today.

Prensa Latina's IT specialist participated in a conversation at the news agency's headquarters in the capital, where he shared his experiences of the months of 1965 when he was with Guevara in the Congo, during the struggles for the independence of the African country, in which a group of Cuban fighters supported him.

I knew first-hand his virtues, he was a leader with a lot of charisma who demanded more from himself than from his comrades, a true enemy of privileges, stressed the then technical communications technician of the guerrilla in the activity, organized around the 90th anniversary of the birthday of the revolutionary, which is commemorated tomorrow.

According to Escandon, faced with a very complex scenario, Che established that one could not be late for the guard, and whoever did it, did not have lunch the next day.

'We were surrounded and under enemy pressure that forced us to reinforce our vigilance, the guerrilla leader himself arrived late at the post, and although his reasons were justified, the next day he didn't eat lunch,' Escandon added.

On Wednesday, the capital's Hotel Nacional hosted the presentation of a book with around a hundred little-known images of Che Guevara, also part of the activities for the 90th anniversary of his birth.

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Che Has Not Died, Says Cuban Hero Antonio Guerrero

Che has not died, he is present among us, said today the Cuban hero Antonio Guerrero on his arrival in the hometown of the Heroic Guerrilla Man, who would turn 90 tomorrow.

Excited to be for the first time in Rosario, a city full of history and symbolism, Guerrero -one of the five heroes who served a long sentence in U.S. jails for defending his country from terrorist acts- said in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina that it is 'a great honor to be here.'

All Cubans and revolutionaries know that Che has not died, he is present among us. It will be 90 years and more, said the anti-terrorist fighter, adding that days full of revolutionary spirit are expected on this anniversary.

For Guerrero, the 90th anniversary of Che's birth is a very significant occasion. A decade ago, he said, on his 80th anniversary, my brothers and I were in prison. It was then an arduous and fighting time for our freedom, he recalled.

The Cuban hero said he arrived in Rosario to thank and embrace all the Argentines who did so much to take him and his comrades (Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Herandez, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez) back to their homeland.

The emotions are just beginning; it's very cold, but the warmth of solidarity is greater, said Guerrero, who stressed that these days will be full of revolutionary spirit and anti-imperialist struggle, 'of all those things that Che taught us, ideas that will never die.'

Visibly moved, Guerrero said that he is the first of the Five (as they were called in the campaign to liberate them) to be at the homeland of Che, and he does so on behalf of his brothers in struggle and the Cuban people.

On the other hand, he stressed that he will also represent the island in the 16th Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, which will begin on Friday, a day that will highlight the support for our Revolution, socialism and all the just causes in Latin America.

Support for Venezuela, he said, for former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, imprisoned in his country, and for all those movements that can only lead to transform and build a more prosperous and free Latin America.

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ECHEVARRIA’S MOMENTUM CONTINUES: 8.66M IN OSTRAVA

Battling unseasonably chilly conditions, Juan Miguel Echevarria followed up on his breakthrough performance in Stockholm with a commanding performance at the 57th edition of the Golden Spike, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting, in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday (13).

The 19-year-old emerged as one of the meeting’s primary attractions after his wind-assisted 8.83m leap in the Swedish capital, and he lived up admirably to the expectations heaped upon him over the ensuing three days.

He immediately dispensed with the 8.35m meeting record set by Cuban great Ivan Pedroso almost 20 years ago to the day, opening the competition with an 8.40m (-1.0m/s) leap. He improved to 8.54m (0.3m/s) in the second round and to 8.66m (1.0m/s) in the third, a leap landing him equal 10th among jumpers all time.

He passed on his fourth jump, hit 8.54m again in round five before ending the night, and the meeting, with a dazzlingly long foul. The crowd cheered, and he bowed, a post-meet ritual we may be getting used to.

“All my attempts were very consistent and seeing all the people cheering for us made me really happy, their support and interest in the long jump is great,” said the young Cuban, whose previous lifetime wind-legal best was 8.53m set late last month in Rome. What’s next?

“Being the world leader is strange to me because I’m still so young. I think I have a lot more ahead of me. People are already asking about breaking the world record. I can’t say if that can happen this year or in the coming ones, but I believe it is possible though.”

World champion Luvo Manyonga was second at 8.31m and his South African compatriot Ruswahl Samaai third with 8.15m.

BARSHIM INVITES PRESSURE, AND PREVAILS

Meanwhile, as a chill descended rapidly on Mestsky Stadium, the host venue of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 in September, the high jump rivalry between Qatari Mutaz Barshim and Danil Lysenko offered another dramatic chapter.

Mutaz Barshim after his 2.38m clearance in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Mutaz Barshim after his 2.38m clearance in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright
 

Lysenko, competing as an authorised neutral athlete, took command after a first attempt clearance at 2.34m, a meeting record and season’s best for the 21-year-old world indoor champion. Barshim missed, passed to 2.36m, and missed again. Lysenko went clear on his second try, forcing Barshim up against a wall as the bar was raised to 2.38m with just one jump left.

After a miss by Lysenko, Barshim prepped by first quietening the raucous crowd behind him, then leading them in a slow, steady clap. As the tempo increased and fuelled by the make-or-break pressure, Barshim confidently bounded across the apron, lifted powerfully and sailed clear, punching at the darkening skies through the misty rain for added effect as he bounced off the landing pit. 

“I needed time to wake up,” said Barshim, the world leader at 2.40m. “I was down to one jump, and it was either win or lose. My coach said to jump 2.36m but I felt that I needed more pressure so went for 2.38m. And that woke me up.”

3000M WORLD LEAD FOR BAREGA

The highlight on the track came in the Zatopek memorial 3000m where 18-year-old Ethiopian Selemon Barega won his third race of the season in as many appearances.

In style and fashion similar to his world-leading 5000m run in Stockholm last Sunday, Barega again out-sprinted Birhanu Balew of Bahrain en route to a 7:37.53 personal best. Balew was a couple steps behind in 7:38.25 with Ethiopian Haile Tilahun third in 7:38.55. The first six across the line all clocked lifetime bests.

Elsewhere on the middle distance programme, Norah Jeruto took a clear victory in a largely solo effort in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:11.33, clipping more than six seconds from the meeting record set by Milcah Chemos five years ago. Ugandan Peruth Chemutai was second in 9:16.89, an improvement of more than six seconds for the rising 18-year-old talent.

Selemon Barega en route to a 3000m world lead in Ostrava ( Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Selemon Barega en route to a 3000m world lead in Ostrava ( Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright
 

Likewise in the 1500m where Gudaf Tsegay, running alone over the final lap, won convincingly in 4:02.45 to collect her second straight victory over the distance this season and for the second consecutive year in Ostrava. Sarah McDonald of Great Britain was second in 4:04.41 and Czech Simona Vrzalova third in 4:04.80, lifetime bests for both.

The focus in the women’s 800m was on world 1500m record-holder Genzebe Dibaba but the Ethiopian was never really in the chase. Instead, victory went to Moroccan Rababe Arafi, who broke from the field with 220 metres remaining to finish unchallenged in 1:59.20. Noelie Yarigo of Benin was second in 2:00.85 with Dibaba a distant fourth in 2:01.51.

Rababe Arafi after her 800m win in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Rababe Arafi after her 800m win in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright

WALSH TAKES ANOTHER SHOT PUT SHOWDOWN 

Back on the infield, another meeting record came courtesy of world champion Tom Walsh in the men’s shot put which witnessed yet another thrower join the 22-metre club. That was Poland's European silver medallist Michal Haratyk, who hit a national record of 22.08m in round three. His lead, however, didn’t last long as Walsh responded with a 22.16m effort in the same round to secure the win.

Ryan Crouser struggled, reaching 21.43m in his only measured throw of the night, good enough for fourth and breaking his streak of 22-metre competitions.

Jakub Vadlejch made the best of the uncooperative conditions to win the javelin with an 88.36m best from the second round. Olympic champion Thomas Rohler performed admirably as well, finishing second with an 87.28m effort from round four.

SPRINT WINS FOR HAROUN, GATLIN, BROWN AND SCHIPPERS

The best sprint performance came in the men’s 400m where Abdalelah Haroun beat the cold and a solid field in 44.63, nearly a second clear of 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, who clocked 45.43.

World champion Justin Gatlin dominated the 100m, taking a decisive win in 10.03, a season’s best for the 36-year-old. Akani Simbine of South Africa was a distant second in 10.13, 0.02 ahead of Mike Rodgers of the US.

Over the half lap, Canadian Aaron Brown ended world champion Ramil Guliyev’s brief win streak, winning in 20.05 ahead of Jereem Richards and Guliyev who each clocked 20.09.

The evening-capping 200m was a skirmish nearly to end between world champion Dafne Schippers and Murielle Ahoure. The latter held a slight lead midway through the final straight before the Dutchwoman pulled away for the win, 22.52 to 22.60.

Elsewhere, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France won the 110m hurdles in 13.45, just ahead of Brazil’s Gabriel Constantino, who clocked 13.48.

Pole Pawel Wojciechowski secured his first win of the outdoor season after a second-attempt clearance at 5.65m. After world champion Sam Kendricks bowed out at the same height, Wojciechowski went on to clear 5.75m before topping out at 5.86m.

The meeting ended with a farewell tribute to 2003 world champion Kim Collins, who at 42 will retire at the end of the season. Earlier in the event, the popular sprinter won a special section of the 100m contested by sprinters above the age of 30, clocking 10.41.

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Havana to host Fencing Continental Tournament

Cuba will host from next June 15-20 the Fencing Continental Tournament, qualifier to the Lima 2019 Pan-American Games at Havana´s Sports City Coliseum.

The contest, with the presence of 329 fencers from more than 30 nations, will be an exam for those who will attend the Central American and Caribbean Games of Barranquilla 2018, to take place next July and August.

The competition will be attended by aces such as Venezuelan Ruben Limardo, London 2012 Olympic monarch in epee event, and Americans Race Imboden and Alexander Massialas, Rio 2016 Olympics bronze medalists (team foil event).

Cuba will participate with four athletes per weapon and sex, except in the men's foil where there will be only three of them and will be led by Yamilka Rodriguez, who ranked third in the women´s epee event at Guadalajara 2011 Pan-Am Games, and Yunior Reytor, silver medalist at the 2017 Vancouver World Cup (men´s epee).

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U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Commission to meet for first time since U.S. withdrew embassy personnel

The first round of bilateral meetings between the U.S. and Cuba since Washington permanently withdrew personnel from the embassy in Havana will take place on Thursday in Washington, DC.

For some, it will take heightened significance with the backdrop of the recent historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea, where Kim agreed to denuclearize in exchange for better relations with the U.S. In the case of Cuba, tensions between the two countries intensified after Trump rolled back on some of former President Barack Obama’s historic détente with the island. A draw down in U.S. embassy personnel following mysterious incidents that have affected the health of U.S. diplomats and their families has further strained relations.

The Bilateral Commission will be the seventh meeting the two countries have held since restoring relations in 2015. The last meeting was in September 2017 and it was the first time they met under the Trump administration. It took place under different circumstances than the previous meetings. The health incidents had been reported a few weeks prior and Trump had announced a rollback in Obama’s policy a few months before.

After the meeting, the Cuban Foreign Ministry released a sharply worded statement protesting critical comments made by Trump to the U.N. General Assembly while the Bilateral Commission was in session. Trump had called Cuba “corrupt and destabilizing” and said he would not lift the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba until it made “fundamental reforms.”

The Bilateral Commission is the platform through which the U.S. and Cuba identify, prioritize, and schedule initiatives, including specific dialogues and working group meetings. Some of the topics covered are dialogues on human rights, law enforcement, claims, and migration, according to a State Department spokesperson for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

John Creamer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs will lead the U.S. side. The State Department did not confirm who would be leading the Cuban delegation, but sources familiar with the meeting said it is Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, who has replaced Josefina Vidal as director of U.S. affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry. She was Cuba’s chief negotiator during the opening toward Cuba and is now the Cuban ambassador to Canada.

The State Department did not respond to requests for comment about whether the U.S. would press Cuba about the unexplained health incidents during the meeting.

Last week, the U.S. withdrew two more people from the embassy due to health concerns. They are considered potential new cases but have not yet been medically confirmed. If confirmed by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, where others affected have been treated, they will mark the 25th and 26th confirmed cases in Cuba.

The incidents were first disclosed last year. The confirmed patients have a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss.

In February, the U.S. made permanent its decision to withdraw 60 percent of its diplomats from Cuba, citing its need to protect American personnel.

The U.S. has said it does not know who is behind it, but has argued Cuba is responsible for protecting diplomats on its soil. Cuba has denied any involvement or knowledge of the events.

The U.S. and Cuba continue making strides in some areas. Direct mail service was recently reestablished after a trial run. The two countries held three meetings in Washington during February focused on law enforcement issues, according to a State Department spokesperson. One was on money laundering and denying criminals financial safe havens abroad and two were on trafficking persons

But Cuba still views the trade embargo on the island as the major obstacle in advancing relations between the two countries and in the development of their stagnant economy. Lifting the embargo still faces domestic opposition in the U.S.

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Cuban Vice-Chancellor Pays Official Visit to Guyana

Rogelio Sierra, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, continues his official visit to Guyana, accompanied by the Director for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean of the Chancellery, Jorge Luis Mayo Fernandez.

Visiting Guyana has a particular importance to Cuba, because together with Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica that country established diplomatic relations with the island simultaneously in 1972, Sierra wrote in his personal Twitter account.

During his stay in Georgetown the Vice-Chancellor met with Cuban collaborators of health and education, whom he urged to continue their solidarity work in the Caribbean nation.

As part of the work agenda for this Wednesday, Sierra will hold official conversations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana with Director-General, Ambassador Audrey Jardine-Waddell.

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President to visit Greece, Suriname and Cuba

President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on an eight-day, three-nation tour from June 16 that will see him visit Greece, Suriname and Cuba, it was announced yesterday.

Briefing the media here, External Affairs Ministry official Subrata Bhattacharjee said that Kovind will arrives in Athens on June 16 at the invitation of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulus.

He will hold a meeting with Pavlopoulus as well as with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Kovind will also meet Indian and Greek CEOs and deliver a speech on “India and Europe in a Changing World” at the Hellenic Foundation for Europe and Foreign Policy, a leading Greek think tank.

According to Bhattacharjee, India-Greece bilateral trade stands at $530mn and some Indian companies are also present in the infrastructure, pharmaceutical and steel sectors in the central European nation.

With Greece being home to a 12,000-strong Indian diaspora, Kovind will also interact with members of the community.

From Greece, Kovind will leave for Suriname on June 19 in what will be the first-ever visit by an Indian head of state to the South American nation.

Partha Satpathy, another official in the ministry, said that Kovind’s visits to Suriname and Cuba are a reflection of New Delhi giving more importance from this year to ties with Latin America.

Last month, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu visited Guatemala, Panama and Peru.

While in Suriname at the invitation of President Desi Bouterse, some agreements are expected to be signed, including on health and information technology. India will offer some lines of credit as part of development assistance.

With 37% of Suriname’s population being people of Indian origin, Kovind will also lay the foundation of a Vivekananda Cultural Centre.

Most of these Indian-origin people are descendants of indentured labour brought to work in sugarcane plantations, the first batch of whom arrived in 1873.

On June 21, Kovind will participate in activities as part of the International Yoga Day.

From Suriname, the president and his delegation will leave for Cuba which again will be the first ever presidential visit from India to the Caribbean island country.

Satpathy said that both India and Cuba are important partners in the global South-South co-operation.

He said that Kovind will interact with Cuba’s new leadership under President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Four agreements are expected to be signed, including in the areas of biotechnology and traditional and alternative systems of medicine.

Kovind will conclude his visit on June 23.

According to Press Secretary to the President Ashok Malik, this will be Kovind’s fourth and last foreign visit in the first year of his presidency. In all, he will have visited 10 countries.

During the visit, the president will be accompanied by Minister of State for Steel Vishnu Deo Sai, two members of the Lok Sabha, Dinesh Kashyap and Nityanand Rai, and senior officials.

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Cuban National Hero inducted to New York Writers Hall of Fame

Jose Marti, Cuba´s National Hero, was included as new member of the New York Writers Hall of Fame in recognition to his work as poet, essayist, journalist and politician.

Thus, the Cuban creator became the second Hispanic writer to enter the exclusive room, after the Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos did it in 2011, according to Cubadebate website.

The proposal was promoted in recent times by Esther Allen, a Marti scholar and translator, and the Cuban-American historian Ada Ferrer, of New York University, both scholars and promoters of his work.

The induction to the select group took place during a ceremony, in which Ferrer and Lisandro Perez, a Cuban American sociologist and professor at John Jay College, were in charge of the opening speeches.

The New York Writers Hall of Fame is a project of the Empire State Center for the Book that annually grants membership to several writers, living or dead, who have marked the cultural history of that great city.

Some of the most famous members are Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Washington Irving, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Mary McCarthy, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, among others.

This year, along with Marti, five other writers were inducted, two of them also deceased: Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) who wrote many well-known songs with her brother George Gershwin; and E.L. Konigsburg (1930-2013), author of books for children.

The other three authors are the historian and journalist Russell Shorto (1959), Pulitzer Prize-winner novelist Colson Whitehead (1969) and Jacqueline Woodson (1963), current United States Ambassador for Young People´s Literature.

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