Raúl and Díaz-Canel congratulate the Democratic Republic of Korea on its 71st anniversary

The Communist Party of Cuba’s first secretary, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, sent a message of congratulations to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, September 9, on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In his message, Raul reaffirmed the value Cuba gives ties with Pyongyang, based on the special relations shared by their leaders, according to a report on Cubavisión.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez also saluted the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on its anniversary, on behalf of the people and government of our country.

Cuba and the DPRK established diplomatic relations August 29, 1960, and have maintained fraternal ties since that time, based on mutual respect and admiration, and the friendship shared by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and the great leader Kim Il Sung.

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Our heroes and martyrs have not been forgotten

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz honored heroes and martyrs of the Cuban Revolution in Santiago’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, on the very day chosen in 1959 to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the good of the nation.

Before the simple tomb of the País García family, in honor of the 62nd anniversary of the murders of Frank and Raúl Pujol, Raúl joined the people of Santiago de Cuba for a special moment recalling the young hero.

Accompanied by Beatriz Johnson Urrutia, a Council of State vice president and president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power, the Army General paid his respects to José Martí, laying flowers beside the crypt that holds his remains and then made his way to the giant boulder where Fidel´s ashes lie, depositing a white rose in a simple gesture honoring his brother, the leader of the Cuban Revolution.

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Photo: Estudios Revolucion

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Cuban leaders attend funeral of cardinal who fostered thaw with US

Cuban leaders on Sunday attended the funeral Jaime Ortega, a cardinal who played a key role in improving ties between Havana and Washington during the administration of Barack Obama.

Ortega, who died at the age of 82, worked as an intermediary for Pope Francis in negotiations to ease the bad blood between Cuba and the US after five decades.

The Cold War rivals began normalizing relations in December 2014 and the next year they restored diplomatic ties.

First vice-president Salvador Valdes Mesa, vice-president Roberto Morales and Esteban Lazo, the head of the National Assembly, were at the funeral service at Havana Cathedral, an AFP journalist saw.

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Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and former president Raul Castro, who are visiting Venezuela, sent bouquets of flowers.

Born in 1936 in Matanzas, Ortega led the Catholic church in Cuba for 35 years before retiring in 2016.

He submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Havana in 2011 when 75, as Vatican rules required, but his close personal friend the pope refused it then, acquiescing only in 2016.

He was the facilitator in 18 months of secret talks between Cuba and the US that led to a historic thawing of relations, since reversed by President Donald Trump.

Those talks led to a prisoner exchange and Obama's historic visit to the island nation in 2016.

Garcia paid tribute to Ortega's "friendly smile, his clairvoyant intelligence and the testimony of a successful, and often painful, priesthood."

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Cuba celebrates the rebellion that triggered a revolution

It’s Bayamo’s turn this year on July 26. The capital city of Granma Province in eastern Cuba is hosting Cuba’s Day of National Rebellion. From 6:30 a.m. on this morning, President Miguel Díaz-Canel and other Cuban leaders have been presiding over a day which celebrates young revolutionaries who, 66 years earlier on another July 26, attacked military barracks in Santiago de Cuba and in Bayamo.

Their leader was a young lawyer named Fidel Castro. They wanted to set off a national rebellion aimed at removing dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. In 1952 Batista had staged a military coup to depose the liberal president Carlos Prío Socarrás.

Fidel Castro (center) and other Moncada rebels released from prison, May 1955. | Granma

Most of the revolutionaries died, mainly at the hands of their Batista captors. At his trial three months later, Castro delivered a speech titled “History Will Absolve Me” that became a manifesto of principles for the revolution that would follow. Castro identified independence leader José Marti as the revolution’s intellectual author. The year 1953 was the centennial of Marti’s birth.

Festivities and gatherings are taking place in cities and towns throughout the island and indeed in cities throughout the world, wherever supporters of Cuba’s revolution are concentrated. Each year the 15 Cuban provinces compete in a contest of economic and social achievements to be chosen to present the central event of the day. The Political Bureau of Cuba’s Communist party designates the winner.

Ceremonies began in many places yesterday, on July 25. In Bayamo the “Ceremony of the Flags” took place in honor of both Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a nearby resident who in 1868 assumed leadership of Cuba’s First War for Independence, and Pedro Figueredo Cisneros, author of Cuba’s national hymn.

Invited to the July 26 event in Bayamo’s “Plaza of the Homeland” are thousands of guests and many more from the 13 municipalities of Granma Province. Cultural events involving some 300 actors, singers, musicians, and other performers are proceeding throughout the day. In the evening a “political gala” called “From Moncada to the Future” takes place in a remodeled theater.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks at the sunrise celebration ceremony in Bayamo, Cuba, July 26, 2019. | Granma

Prominent among themes highlighted in Bayamo and elsewhere are the “victory of ideas,” and “from Céspedes and Martí to Fidel” and “loyalty to the nation and its revolutionary principles.” Speakers this year, including President Díaz-Canel, are denouncing all forms of U.S. aggression. Their ire is concentrated on Title III of the U.S. Helms Burton Law of 1996, which as of May 2019 is being implemented for the first time. The U.S. purpose behind this is to drive foreign investments away from Cuba.

Actually, the U.S, government and its interventions have long set a perverse tone at Cuba’s National Days of Rebellion. That’s because the day commemorates the beginning of struggle that finally did achieve Cuba’s national liberation – from the United States.

The U.S. government and many Cuban exiles living in the United States prefer May 20 as an independence day. But it doesn’t count because shortly after rebels had defeated the forces of colonial Spain in 1898, the United States rushed in to assert political and economic control of the island.

The façade of a government independent in name only ended on January 1, 1959 when a revolutionary government took power, enabled by the struggle that began on July 26, 1953. That’s another patriotic day in Cuba, but it plays second fiddle to the one celebrated today.

July 26 is about fighting a revolution and much more. As reflected in Fidel Castro’s “History Will Absolve Me,” Cuba’s revolution seeks true national liberation and also social justice. Speakers on July 26 have long evoked the memory of José Marti. Doing so, they testify to the continuity of Cuba’s revolutionary struggle. Presumably they are sending a message to U.S. policy makers.

Every year Cuba solidarity groups in the United States and Puerto Rico visit Cuba as July 26 approaches. Members of the various delegations are invited to attend the day’s festivities, including the principal event at which the Cuban president speaks. Visiting in Cuba now are the Venceremos Brigade, this year defying U.S. regulations with its 50th annual visit to Cuba, and Puerto Rico’s Juan Rius Rivera Brigade.

The New York-based Pastors for Peace delegation, having completed its 30th solidarity visit to Cuba in mid-July, won’t be on hand specifically for the celebrations today. Cuba’s invitations to these groups to attend the celebrations attest to Cuba’s appreciation of faithful support over many years.

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Raúl and Díaz-Canel receive Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, and Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, yesterday afternoon received the Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, on an official visit to our country.

During the amicable meeting, the leaders discussed the deep bonds of brotherhood that unite the two peoples, parties, and governments, as well as their countries’ respective experiences in the construction of socialism. They likewise discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and the implementation of agreements reached between Vietnam and Cuba, along with a number of topics on the international agenda.

The distinguished guest was accompanied by Nguyen Quoc Cuong, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, and Nguyen Trung Thanh, ambassador to Cuba.

Also participating on the Cuban side were Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Political Bureau member and Foreign Minister; and ambassador in Vietnam, Lianys Torres Rivera.

As part of her agenda on the island, the distinguished visitor also met on July 8 with Salvador Valdés Mesa, first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, among other activities.

Additionally, along with authorities from Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Vietnamese Vice President toured areas of the Los Palacios agro-industrial combine, in the province of Pinar de Río, in particular those involved in the cooperation project her country sponsors to support the development of rice production here.

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Raúl Castro and Díaz-Canel awarded Angolan order Agostinho Neto

The first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raúl Castro, and the president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, were decorated with the Order Agostinho Neto, highest distinction given by the government of Angola, local media reported today.

This recognition was given by president of Angola, Joao Lourenço, at the Palace of the Revolution in this capital.

The Agostinho Neto Order was also granted the day before to the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Leopoldo Cintra, to the General of the Army Corps, Ramón Espinosa and post-mortem to the Brigadier General-Commander Raúl Díaz-Argüelles.

Raúl Castro -TV news program Buenos Días said- awarded the José Martí order to the president of Angola, Joao Lourenço, for his merits and value.

The distinction -highest awarded by the Cuban Council of State- was imposed on the African dignitary in the presence of his counterpart from the Caribbean island, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

'Cuba has been honored with his friendship since the difficult years of the war in Angola,' said the text released during the ceremony.

'We have received constant samples of his gratitude and affection towards our country and its historical leaders, which we will always appreciate,' he said.

The indestructible and excellent relationship between Angola and Cuba -continues the text- constitutes a paradigm of fraternal solidarity between two sister nations united by historical bonds of friendship, affection and mutual respect, forged from the very beginning with the Cuban nation and in the heat of the fighting for Angola's independence.

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Raul Castro Votes in Cuban Referendum

The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raul Castro, voted this Sunday in the referendum on the new Constitution of the Republic.

The Army general went to an electoral college in Playa municipality in Havana to endorse the constitution approved in December by the National Assembly of Popular Power.

After depositing his ballot, the leader spoke with the pioneers (primary and middle school students) who guarded the polls and with the members of the polling station.

Raul Castro headed the parliamentary commission responsible for drafting the Constitution, which is the result of the contribution of the population, expressed in more than 780,000 proposals, many of them incorporated into the text, which came out of a consultation in which nearly nine million people participated.

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Trump’s blockade is to provoke regime change – Cuban Ambassador

Cuba’s National Assembly elected Miguel Diaz-Canel as the country’s President in April. Diaz-Canel followed Raul Castro who served two consecutive terms from 2008 when the health of his brother Fidel was in decline. Fidel Castro, who led the 1959 revolution that overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and ruled the country since died in 2016. The Daily Mirror talked to Cuba’s Ambassador in Colombo, Elena Ramos Rodriguez, on what may be expected from the new leader from a post-revolution generation, US President Donald Trump’s hardened policy towards Cuba, its effects on the Cuban people and Cuba’s response to the intensified economic blockade imposed by the US government.   

 
Cuba’s new President Miguel Diaz-Canel was born a year after the 1959 revolution, representing a relatively younger generation of politicians. Does this generational shift point to a change in Cuba’s style of government in years ahead?

I want to highlight the significance of the last session of the Cuban parliament, on April 18-19 when Mario Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was elected the new President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers. I think the new leader will continue the revolutionary process, will continue the development of our country, the development of our Socialism. Cuban people expresstheir support for this electoral process. The people elect the members of Parliament, the Parliament elects the Council of State, and the Council of State elects the president. This process comes with the support of the people because a majority - 85.65% attended the polls to elect their representation in parliament, from each municipality. Voting is voluntary … if you vote it means you support (the process).   


Diaz-Canel’s predecessor Raul Castro had started introducing certain changes- reducing the size of the state sector, encouraging more private enterprise, loosening some controls etc. with benefit to the economy. Will the new President continue on this trajectory?

Yes. The Cuban government and people are all working on updating the Cuban economic model. It is a complex process. It’s changing not because of pressure from outside but for Cuban society, to establish the economic and social guidance. It is a broad process, with many meetings with people in their workplaces, residential places etc. In Cuba, the programme does not change with each president. The guidelines are adopted with the opinion of all the population – in different ways they participate in the process.   

"The Parliament elects the Council of State, and the Council of State elects the president. This process comes with the support of the people because a majority - 85.65% attended the polls to elect their representation in parliament, from each municipality  "

Former US President Barack Obama had started a process of normalization of Cuba-US relations, signalled by re-opening diplomatic missions in the two countries. Under Trump, this process is being reversed, and the economic blockade is being intensified. What will Cuba’s strategy be, to cope with this situation?

I think Obama’s years demonstrated that Cuba and the US can live and co-exist in a civilized way. Interactions between both sides show that Cuba and the US can exist, respecting our differences and cooperating, for the benefit of both countries and peoples, at the same time. Wherever there is an opportunity, we can cooperate.   

Opportunity such as …?

To stop drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration. Intelligence is not the interest of one country – it’s for both countries. We share maritime borders. We have to cooperate for example in maritime rescue, to save people. Or to avoid contamination of our maritime waters. Cuba wants to continue negotiating with the US government, but on conditions of equality and respect for our sovereignty. Cuba will not resign any of its principles. Principles are non-negotiable.   


But the fact is that you have a US President whose attitude is belligerent. How will you face this situation?

We have to face the new measures. In November last year the US Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce issued new provisions and regulations to implement and strengthen the blockade against Cuba - a week after the Nov. 1stvote in the UN General Assembly on the necessity to lift the blockade. These measures were in a new executive order of the President called “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the US towards Cuba.” They restrict travel of American citizens to Cuba, restrict commerce between the two countries. During Obama’s time it was more flexible on some issues, but the blockade was still there, especially in the financial/ banking sector.   

In 2016 the US abstention (during the UN vote on lifting the blockade) was a hopeful moment. These measures confirm the regress of bilateral relations as a result of the decisions of the government of Donald Trump. It is also important to say, these measures ignore US public opinion of about 75% which is a great majority, and the international community, and of the Cuban immigrants in the US. The majority of Cuban immigrants want normal relations. Only a small group in Florida want to continue the blockade. This transformation ignores the majority of the international community. On Nov. 1st 2017 for the 26th consecutive occasion, the resolution on “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the USA on Cuba” was approved by the General Assembly of the UN, with 191 votes in favour and two against: the US and Israel, confirming once again the absolute international rejection of this policy. Cuba will continue to present the resolution as long as the embargo is in place. Unfortunately the resolution is not binding. But it’s a good step to demonstrate that the international community supports Cuba.   

"MediCuba, the company that imports and exports medical products, received a communication from the supplier Lindmed Trade of Spain, saying it could not supply the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin Lactate because the manufacturer Claris Otsuka refused to sell the goods because Cuba was subject to sanctions imposed by the US"


The UN Secretary General in July last year presented a report, at the request of the members of the General Assembly, on the implementation of this resolution. Cuba said “the accumulated losses caused by the embargo during nearly six decades it has been in place amount to US$ 822 billion.” Can you give an example of how this translates into deprivation in the day to day lives of the Cuban people?

The blockade affects all fields – business, health, education, agriculture. To give an example – in March 2017, MediCuba, the company that imports and exports medical products, received a communication from the supplier Lindmed Trade of Spain, saying it could not supply the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin Lactate because the manufacturer Claris Otsuka refused to sell the goods because Cuba was subject to sanctions imposed by the US.  

Ciprofloxacin Lactate is a broad spectrum antibiotic used for adults and children in the treatment of respiratory ailments. Also for skin, soft tissue, bones and joints affected by bacteria. This is an antibiotic used in all hospitals. This affects the health of our people not because the government doesn’t give the resources but because we cannot buy from the supplier.   



  • I think the new leader will continue the revolutionary process, will continue the development of our country, the development of our Socialism

  • The ending of the embargo was approved by the the UN, with 191 votes in favour and two against

  • Cuba produces nickel. The company was unable to export 3,500 tons of it, produced in 2016 because they could not find a bank...

  • The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our country.

  • The US wants to provoke a change of regime, by provoking anger of the people through shortages, by depriving them of food, medication.  

  • Cuba appreciates support provided by Sri Lanka in its fight against the US embargo.

  • Our policy is to give what we have. Others give what they don’t use. Fifty-five per cent of state resources is allocated for budgeted activity


Could you briefly explain the extra-territorial aspect of the embargo, how third parties – other states - are punished for having transactions with Cuba? An example?

The case I just mentioned is also a good example of the extra-territorial impact. The supplier, the Spanish company cannot trade with Cuba. They too are affected. Legally they should be able to trade with Cuba. Also, many other companies have been sanctioned, fined, for doing business with Cuba.   

To give another example, Cuba produces nickel. The company was unable to export 3,500 tons of nickel sulphide produced in 2016 because they could not find a bank that would open a Letter of Credit. The loss to the Cuban economy was $23,600,000.   

In June 2016 the Netherlands mail and parcels company TNT returned to the Consulate General of Cuba in Madrid, two postal consignments addressed to the embassies of Cuba in China and Indonesia containing passports of Cubans living abroad. The company claimed that it had returned the consignments owing to corporate instructions related to the US embargo.   


The rest of the world supports Cuba on the need to end the embargo, which is in violation of the UN Charter and international law. Can you explain briefly, what is the problem the US has with Cuba?

The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our country. The US wants to provoke a change of regime, by provoking anger of the people through shortages, by depriving them of food, medication etc. They want a regime change favourable to the US. It didn’t happen because the Cuban people stayed brave. This policy satisfies only the interests of a small minority of the American and Cuban-American extreme right-wing of South Florida, whose interest is to reverse the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It is a violation of human rights in general. We have a good economy but it would be better if we didn’t have the blockade. Tourism is greatly affected. People like to visit Cuba, last year we had four million visitors. Imagine if there was no blockade! American citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba as tourists, it’s prohibited. They need a special licence from the Treasury.   

"I think Obama’s years demonstrated that Cuba and the US can live and co-exist in a civilized way. Interactions between both sides show that Cuba and the US can exist, respecting our differences and cooperating, for the benefit of both countries and peoples, at the same time. Wherever there is an opportunity, we can cooperate"


Cuba sends its professionals like goodwill ambassadors to all parts of the world – doctors, teachers, artists, agriculture experts - demonstrating the high level of culture and education it has achieved for its people, in spite of the problems caused by its big neighbour. What is the secret of this achievement?

Our policy is ‘internationalist.’ One of the main principles in our relations with other countries is that we share what we have. If we can provide doctors, we do that. Our policy is to give what we have. Others give what they don’t use. Fifty-five per cent of state resources is allocated for budgeted activity such as education, public health, social security, pensions. That’s why there is a high standard. We believe you must support everybody. You cannot have homeless people. A mother who cannot work because her child has a disability will be provided with a government pension. It is a policy that demonstrates that even a poor nation that has not too many resources - if it uses resources for the welfare of the people - can grow its human capital, and improve living standards of the people, despite major challenges it faces. This is, maybe, our ‘secret!’   


Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after the revolution and (in the words of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his condolence message on the death of Fidel Castro) “Cuba has been a great friend Sri Lanka could count on.” How can the Cuba-Sri Lanka relationship be taken forward?

A. Sri Lanka and Cuba have historic bonds of friendship and cooperation. Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations in 1959 after the triumph of the revolution, at the very beginning. The first step was the visit of Che Guevara to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka and Cuba both entered the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in the same year, 1961. Cuba received the presidency of NAM from Sri Lanka in 1979. We have a long history of cooperation in sports, education, health, agriculture. At this moment we are working on areas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. In June, a delegation from Sri Lanka visited Cuba to follow up on implementation of an MoU between the ministries of Science and Technology of the two countries. Last year a Cuban expert visited Sri Lanka to share expertise on the control of dengue. We are also working on registering in Sri Lanka a Cuban product for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. It has an efficiency of over 80%, many people have saved their legs, avoiding amputation. Cuba sincerely appreciates the support provided by Sri Lanka in its fight against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for almost 60 years. On Nov. 1, once again Sri Lanka voted in favour of the Cuban revolution against the blockade in the General Assembly of the United Nations.  

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