Cuba increases charcoal exports to Europe

Charcoal production was considered sometime before as a rough, poorly paid work done by the poorest countrymen in Cuba, nowadays it has changed the panorama and it has turned into an important, well-paid export that brings profits to the country and those who produce it.

With the Revolutionary triumph Cuban countrymen started to work harder on charcoal production, and there became sadly well known people devoted to this task in Cienaga de Zapata, swampy area in Cuba located in the south of the central province of Matanzas, visited by Fidel Castro almost every day with his arrival to power in 1959.

Nowadays,it has been carried out charcoal production based on Marabu (a plant from the Mimosacea family) which invaded thousands of land hectares devoted to farming.

The national campaign devoted to Marabu elimination made possible to enhance charcoal production through co-ops and state enterprises that profit the low-cost, natural raw material.

One Cuban caballeria (equal to 134202 m2) of Marabu produces 140 tons of charcoal for export, which becomes a minimum amount of 46.00 dollars, calculated on the the international market selling price near 330 and 380 dollars each.

More than 130 thousand tons of charcoals are yearly exported to Europe by the Groupo Agroforestal from the Agricultural Ministry of Cuba, which introduces new technologies to offer a higher product quality.

Such sales allow income of about 32 million dollars, said the Group Development manager, Anaiisis Zulueta, who participated at the XXI International Fair of Food and Agriculture Fiagrop 2018, which opened on Monday in Havana.

Zulueta also added that the Group is currently taking steps to introduce two bioelectric plants, oriented to the production of electricity from forest biomass and the waste from sawmills.

According to its organizers, Fiagrop 2018 aims to promote the portfolio of foreign investment opportunities and businesses in the agro-industrial sector.

(Translated by Yeney Perez Corona)

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EUROPOL Warns About the Radicalization of 30,000 Persons in Europe

Sofia, Mar 19 (Prensa Latina) The executive director of the European Police Office, Europol, Rob Wainwright reported today about the radicalization of some 30,000 persons in the region, which currently represent a potential threat of terrorism.

The information released today by the Bulgarian broadcaster 'bTV' quoted Wainwright, who explained that the estimated figure refers to radicalized people through the Internet.

The majority of these individuals are inspired by groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS); however, it does not mean that they act under their direct command, the official added.

He also insisted on the need to stay alert, because at any moment these people 'can rent a truck and kill innocent people.'

Wainwright cautioned that it is a new form of terrorist activity difficult to fight by the European and world security services.

Adding to this situation the threats after the return to Europe of people who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of the ISIS and other terrorist groups.

According to the executive director of EUROPOL, the comeback of these foreign terrorist fighters is a danger and represents a huge menace to the entire region.

An annual report from the European Police Office, in 2017, indicated a growth in recent years of terrorist groups.

Among the presumed radicals imprisoned, one out of four were women and one third were under 25 years old.

In addition to the arrests, EUROPOL reported on the increase in the number of judgments in the courts of the European Union, mainly in countries such as Spain and France.

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Habanos Festival returns to celebrate Cuban cigar industry

Cuba's annual celebration of its cigar-making industry, the Habanos Festival, will kick off on Feb. 26 in Havana, drawing cigar aficionados and buyers from around the globe.

The glamorous week-long festival features launchings of new premium brands, including this year's much-anticipated line of Cohiba Robusto Reserva, from the 2014 harvest.

Cuba's best-known brand, Cohiba was popularized by the legendary revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who was rarely seen without a cigar until he quit in his later years to encourage a healthier lifestyle among the people.

The festival, organized by Habanos S.A., a joint venture between state-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, a French-German subsidiary of the British multinational Imperial Tobacco, which markets the cigars worldwide, also features gala dinners, tours of cigar factories and tobacco farms, and a renowned auction of custom-made humidors, with funds going to support the country's free healthcare system.

Habanos spokesperson Daymi Difurniao said this year participants will learn about the most diverse aspects of the cigar industry, and tour plantations in western Cuba's Pinar del Rio province, home to the world's best tobacco leaf.

"It is an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful plantations in San Juan y Martinez, recognized as having the best soil for attaining the leaves used to make renowned Cuban cigars," said Difurniao.

San Juan y Martinez, along with San Luis, Guane and the city of Pinar del Rio, make up the region of Vueltabajo, Cuba's prime tobacco-growing region.

In Vueltabajo, some 18,000 hectares of different tobacco varieties are planted each year. This year, production is expected to surpass 20,000 tons of leaves, more than previous harvests.

Another festival highlight is the traditional Habanosommelier International Contest, a culinary event that pairs cigars with a gourmet dish or cocktail.

This year, organizers are introducing the first-ever Habanos World Challenge, where cigar lovers from around the world will compete to test their knowledge about the world of cigars.

There will also be an evening dedicated to the history and success of the festival, now in its 20th edition.

In the past, the Habanos Festival has been attended by celebrities such as the late author and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez; American actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger; and British model Naomi Campbell, among others.

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Catalonia sets independence referendum date, Spain seeks to press criminal charges

The Catalan parliament has greenlit a referendum on the region's secession from Spain, to be held on October 1. It followed a fierce, hours-long debate on Wednesday. Madrid denounced the move, threatening to bring criminal charges against the region’s authorities.

© Albert Gea

The so-called “transition bill,” designed to serve as the constitution of a sovereign Catalan state during the transition period, was championed by the pro-independence ruling coalition that submitted the motion late August. The legislation envisions the legal framework that will pave the way for a constituent assembly, tasked with laying groundwork for a brand-new Catalan Republic.

The idea, however, did not find favor with many of the local deputies, who were staunch opponents of the legislation during a gruelling 11-hour session preceding its eventual approval by 72 MPs loyal to the region's separatist government, as 52 opposition deputies of the 135-member legislature left the room in defiance.

Predictably, the outcome of the vote did not sit well with the federal Spanish government. Madrid has vowed to employ all legal means at their disposal to stop the plebiscite from going ahead, and to punish lawmakers for neglecting earlier court rulings proscribing such legislation.

READ MORE: Catalonia sets date for landmark vote on independence from Spain

People react at an impromptu memorial a day after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain August 18, 2017 © Susana Vera

Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, announced that the government is contesting the newly adopted legislation in the country’s constitutional court, arguing for it to be declared null and void.

“What is happening in the Catalan parliament is embarrassing, it’s shameful,” de Santamaria told journalists on Wednesday, reacting to the vote, as cited by Reuters.

On Thursday, Spain’s state Prosecutor-General Jose Manuel Maza announced his office will pursue criminal charges against members of the Catalan government and the parliament for passing the law. Maza noted the charges will be presented shortly to the Catalan High Court of Justice.

Maza told reporters he had requested the security forces to investigate any move to prepare or hold the referendum.

After reading out prepared notes, the prosecutor-general said they will “continue to act with firmness, proportionality, celerity and full subjection to legality to guarantee our constitutional framework,” according to La Vanguardia.

While the vote was a success for the Catalan elite, recent polls indicate that support for the independence cause among the local public is wearing thin.

According to a June poll, prepared by The Center for Opinion Studies, only 41.1 percent of Catalans favor independence from Spain, a decrease of over 3 percentage points compared with an earlier poll conducted in March. At the same time, the number of those who do not want to part ways with Spain reached 49.4 percent, slightly higher than in March.

Separatist sentiment in Catalonia traditionally runs high, and from time to time becomes the driving force behind massive pro-independence rallies attended by tens of thousands of people. In 2014, the region staged an informal vote on independence, during which some 80 percent voted to split from Spain. However, the vote had a poor turnout: only about a third of the region’s voters came to the polls.

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European friends pay tribute to Che Guevara

The José Martí brigade of solidarity with Cuba visited historic sites in Santa Clara city in tribute to the 50th anniversary of Che´s fall in combat.

The tour included Ernesto Guevara Sculpture Complex, where brigaders from European countries learned about the Heroic Guerrilla; the Monument to the Taking of the Armored Train and the statue of Che.

This is the 47th edition of the contingent, made up by 86 members from Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Belgium, UK and Russia.

Young Frenchwoman Laureline Ferrère visits Cuba from the age of seven and is excited to be here, because she comes from a communist family and the example of her grandfather motivated her to come to the island not as a tourist, but as a brigade member.

Spanish Olaya Nunez, said when a teenager she felt a special attraction for Commander Ernesto Guevara, an idol for young people fighting for a better world, and this influenced her decision to study medicine, a profession she practices in her country.

For a long time I heard talking about Cuba and I wanted to come and witness the reality of this country and its Revolution and I was impressed how they fight to defend what they conquered with their effort and dedication, stated Portuguese Luisa Carvalho.

Since their arrival in Cuba on July 3, the group has undergone volunteer days in the countryside and debates with members of the Young Communist League and the Federation of University Students, they have also visited social projects, received lectures on the Cuban political and economic system and Cuba-US relations, among other activities that brought them closer to the reality of the Caribbean nation.

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Wave of ‘more dangerous, skilled’ ISIS jihadists bound to hit Europe – UN counterterrorism chief

Europe will have to come to grips with an exodus of “dangerous and disillusioned” Islamic State jihadists, defeated in Syria and Iraq earlier this year and possibly seeking revenge, the head of the UN Security Council's counterterrorism agency has warned.

Scores of foreign Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters, determined to come back to Europe, are “more dangerous” than previous waves of returnees, Jean-Paul Laborde told reporters on Thursday. Some may be eager to seek revenge after defeats on the battlefield, including in recent confrontations in Mosul.

© Dado Ruvic

The first wave of the returnees was mainly made up of young people who went to Syria and Iraq “for T-shirts and photos,” Laborde said, RTBF reported. They came back “disillusioned and dismayed.” The second wave may contain much more extreme individuals, who had more time to build contacts with criminal organizations that can assist them in committing attacks.

Between 40 to 50 percent of foreign fighters, who left for Syria and Iraq, have already left territories controlled by IS, Laborde added.

“On average, these people are much more committed, more experienced and more skilled,” he told reporters, as cited by Reuters.

“In spite of the travel restrictions ... still you will have a number of foreign terrorist fighters which will probably slip through the borders and go back, come back to these countries, especially with smuggling networks,” he added.

Over the last 18 months, the flow of departures of fighters from Europe to Syria or Iraq fell by some 90 percent, the UN official said, calling for international cooperation not only between EU member states, but also between countries involved in armed conflicts and their neighbors.

Some 5,000 EU nationals are currently fighting in Syria among the ranks of IS and other jihadist groups, a senior Syrian official said last month, warning that it’ll be a disaster for European security if these militants are allowed to return.

© Eric Gaillard

“We have statistics that about five thousand terrorists fighting in Syria have come from the EU countries,” Syria's Deputy Minister of Expatriates and Foreign Affairs Ayman Susan told Sputnik in mid-April.

“Imagine that these 5,000 terrorists will return to Europe ... they can do it,” the diplomat warned.

IS provides free passage to Europe to refugees willing to join the terrorist group, offering potential recruits up to $1,000 while actively infiltrating migrant communities in countries of destination, a British anti-extremism think tank warned in February.

The report by Quilliam think tank also found that underage asylum seekers are at increasing risk of being radicalized by IS preachers infiltrating refugee camps and local migrant communities.

“Groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram recruit using financial incentives within refugee camps and work with smugglers and traffickers to facilitate the journey to asylum,” Quilliam said.

According to the think tank, IS is clearly aware of the value of migrant routes in the Eastern Mediterranean as it offers free passage and “a degree of security” to those willing to join IS.

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Kadima! En Marche!

After having successively elected an agent of the CIA and an employee of the emirs of the Gulf to the Presidency of the French Republic, the French have been ripped off a third time, this time by an Israeli product. They believe that they have chased away the spectre of fascism by voting for a candidate supported by NATO, the Rothschilds, all the companies of the CAC40 and the unanimous Press. Far from understanding their mistake, they are still in a trance, and will probably not wake up before the end of the general elections.

As soon as his victory was announced, democratically elected President Emmanuel Macron defined a distance between himself and the People. Refusing to mingle with the crowd, he took a long, solitary walk across the courtyard of the Louvre where his supporters were gathered.

The team of elected French President Emmanuel Macron has managed to hypnotise the French nation. They managed to fabricate the election of their protégé with two thirds of the votes cast – a young man, only 39 years old, whose party was created on the Internet just one year ago, and who had until then never stood in any election.

Steele & Holt

This exploit was realised by the team of Steele & Holt, a mysterious company whose name refers to the TV series Remington Steele, a police procedural in which the director of a detective agency asks a thief (Pierce Brosnan) to play the rôle of her boss in order to serve as her cover.

Don’t bother trying to find out who is hiding behind this company – you’ll find nothing. Except for the fact that its two main clients are AXA and the Rothschild family. Everyone knows that Emmanuel Macron worked for the Rothschilds, but it’s a well-guarded secret that they organised his party. As for the insurance company AXA, it is presided by Henri de La Croix, fifth Duke of Castries, who is also president of the NATO think-tank (the Bilderberg group), the Bosphorus Institute (Turkey’s think-tank) and, in France, the Institut Montaigne (a right-wing think-tank).

Henry Kissinger also incidentally invited Macron to the annual meeting of the Bilderberg group in 2014, along with François Baroin and Christine Lagarde.

The Bosphorus Institute made it possible to identify and corrupt various personalities from the right and the left who lent their support to Macron.

The first meetings of the new party were held in the offices of the Institut Montaigne, whose headquarters were declared as the personal address of the Institut’s director.

Kadima !

The name of the new party - En Marche !, was chosen in order to have the same initials as its candidate. Otherwise, it would have been called En Avant ! In Hebrew - Kadima ! When it was pointed out to general Ariel Sharon that the name of his new party evoked the name of Mussolini’s party - Avanti ! - he retorted that that was not the case at all. En Avant ! was the order he gave to each of his special teams, for example when he invaded Beirut against the advice of his military staff.

Kadima ! and En Marche ! are centrist parties assembling personalities from the right and the left. Ariel Sharon was a well-known « centrist » who created his party in order to break away from Benjamin Netanyahu. Sharon was a colonialist who wanted to create a Palestinian state on the model of the South African Bantustans. For him, apartheid was the only way to preserve Israël. On the other hand, Netanyahu is a Talmudist. He refuses to accept the idea of sharing Palestine with the goyim. For him, they must be expelled, if they can’t be exterminated.

We will no doubt learn later why Macron wanted to break with the Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. For the moment, it’s enough to note the insistance with which Valls attempted to join En Marche ! and the flippancy with which Macron rejected him, to see that there is a serious conflict between them.

Fascism En Marche

In order to launch Macron, Steele & Holt – in other words NATO and the Rothschilds – relied on the old pro-US network of the Fondation Saint-Simon. Together, they staged the « peril Le Pen », so that many electors who are strongly opposed to Macron nonetheless voted for him for fear of a possible victory by the « foul beast ». Since there was little for which they could blame Marine Le Pen, they accused her of the crimes of her father... and many others.

This manipulation shows that in our « showbiz society », form is more important than content. Indeed, what are the characteristics of fascism ? The end of the class struggle, thanks to corporatism, which unites bosses and workers in the same organisations, the end of the right-left dialectic thanks to a unique party, and consequently, the end of all opposition by the use of force.

While the first of these three characteristics might have been applied to the vision of Jean-Marie Le Pen, none of them are valid for his daughter – however, the first two are applicable to the vision of Emmanuel Macron. He is supported by all the major bosses of the CAC40, as well as by the CGT. He does not question the capacity of the right- and left-wing parties to defend the values to which they claim to adhere, but calls their leaders to join him in his party to defend their common interests. There can be no doubt that if the general elections go the way Macron hopes, the destruction of the opposition will begin. Indeed, the unanimous support of the written Press for candidate Macron, and the campaign against dissenting Internet sites, give us a taste of things to come.

History repeats itself – in 1940, the French supported Philippe Petain in order to preserve themselves from Nazism, but it was Petain who installed fascism. In 2017, they voted for Macron in order to preserve themselves from fascism, yet he will be the one who installs it.

A hijacked campaign

It’s true that some electors were disturbed both by the unusual personality of the candidates and by a wealth of propaganda methods which have never been used in Europe since the Second World War.

At the age of 15, Emmanuel Macron had a sexual relation with his drama teacher, who was 23 years older, moved in with her, and then married her 15 years later. Marine Le Pen inherited the presidency of her party from her father – she first of all cleaned it up, and then excluded him from it. In psychoanalytical terms, Macron married his mother, and Le Pen killed her father.

Above all, Emmanuel Macron’s team did not hesitate to accuse his rivals of the worst forms of treason, without any logic, certain that the local and national Press – which it already controls in its entirety – would not dare to express the slightest criticism. The right-wing candidate, François Fillon, is now perceived as a thief, although not one of the accusations levelled against him has been verified. Marine Le Pen is considered to be the incarnation of fascism, although she has never supported the positions with which she is charged.

A solitary victory

As soon as his election was announced, President Macron gave a short speech from his campaign headquarters – a string of platitudes pronounced with the ponderous demeanour of a man who has suddenly felt the weight of his responsibilities descend upon his fragile shoulders. Then he offered himself a new moment of theatre with his supporters in the courtyard of the Louvre. He crossed Paris in a procession of limousines with tinted windows. He took a long, solitary, inaccessible walk across the courtyard of the Louvre to climb onto the podium which had been built in his honour. There, at the base of the pyramid, like Bonaparte, he delivered a new speech, once again consisting of verbiage, but this time in a frenzied tone - a man who has never seen combat. Finally, he gathered together with his family and a few militants to sing La Marseillaise.

Contrary to all his predecessors, at no time during this evening did he shake any hands. No-one was ever allowed to approach him. He allowed none of the political personalities who had supported him to appear alongside him and share his victory. They will only be able to collect the bounty of the betrayal of their respective parties by betraying them again and supporting him during the general elections in June.

It will only be when President Macron has a firm grasp on all the reins of power that he will allow France to wake up. It will be too late.

Forward, march !

May Day protests kicked off in Berlin

Berlin was bracing itself on Monday for traditional May Day protests on the 30th anniversary of widespread violence.

In 1987, far-left rioters battled with police for 12 hours, looting shops and burning cars. They were fighting against what they called a "bourgeois" celebration of the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin.

Rioting on May 1 then became a regular tradition in Berlin, starting in West Berlin and spreading to the East following reunification in 1990. In 1989 protests 364 police officers were injured. In 2000 the extent of the violence led to an attempted ban on protests the following year. In 2009 after a few years of relative calm, 273 police were injured with some rioters facing attempted murder charges for throwing Molotov cocktails.

Left wing protests ahead of May Day (picture alliance/B. Pedersen/dpa-Zentralbild)

Tens of thousands celebrate Witches Night

Young leftist groups in Berlin often use the night night before May Day, known as Walpurgisnacht or Witches' Night - a pagan ritual to usher in spring - to go on violent, often drunken rampages through Prenzlauer Berg.

This year, as in the past several years, Walpurgisnacht was relatively calm, which police saw as a hopeful omen for May Day proper. However, the fire brigade attended to several car burnings through the night.

About 12,000 people descended on Prenzlauer Berg's Mauerpark on Sunday night, but police said there relatively few incidents.

In the district of Wedding about 3,000 people demonstrated against rising rents, largely without issue - just three demonstrators were arrested.

Der Auftakt zu den Maifestspielen in . Gegen Verdrängung und hohe Mieten demonstrieren etwa 1500 durch den Wedding.


More than 20 demos

More than 20 large-scale events were planned for May 1 throughout Berlin, though police were focusing their efforts on the main "Revolutionary May Demo" event.

Organizers of the event refused to register their protest with police, normally a requirement in Germany, but police said they would nonetheless tolerate the protest and would deploy about 5,400 officers.

Their planned route for the parade would go through the heart of Kreuzberg street festival MyFest, which could make policing the event difficult.

Police were implementing a truck ban in areas of Kreuzberg, fearing a possible repeat of the December terrorist attack, but did not erect concrete barriers.

Early rallies on Monday got off to a peaceful start. From about 10am trade unionists started marching for workers rights in Berlin, joined by Berlin mayor Michael Müller. According to union figures about 14,000 showed up.

About 200 Antifa protesters turned up to a counter-rally against a right-wing Alternative for Germany party rally. Police called in extra reinforcements at about 1pm to deal the tense situation, local media reported.

Myfest kicked off 10am and was attracting tens of thousands of people. They had  concerts across seven stages planned and hundreds of food stalls. The main cause for concern there were the high winds which were battering Berlin.


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