Cuban civil society forum will meet prior to the Summit of the Americas

The second forum of the Cuban civil society Thinking Americas to pass on Wednesday in this capital, with the aim of reaching consensus on positions and proposals for the 8th Summit of the Americas, to be held in Peru next month of April.

As reported in a press conference Fermin Quiñones Sánchez, president of the Cuban Association of the United Nations (ACNU), at the meeting, which will take place in the theater Lázaro Peña of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), representatives of more than two thousand organizations, non-governmental associations, religious, scientific and fraternal.

Advancement that Cuban civil society and social actors have worked since last October in the preparation of the Forum, as a prelude to the 8th Summit.

This second forum will provide an opportunity to display a strong civil society, organized, and that responds to the interests of the Cuban people and the nation, he said.

He said it will be a space for the civil organizations and actors of the Island, along with international and regional organizations with representation in Cuba, to discuss the central axes of the Eighth Summit, from the legitimacy to represent the Cuban people, to bring positions agreed to this event, to be held in Lima, Peru.

On the central theme of the Summit: Democratic Governance in the face of corruption, with three main themes to address sustainable development, cooperation, among others, will be contributing ideas in the second Forum Thinking Americas.

The objective is to debate and reach agreements, with a view to the positions that are carried to Peru, said Quiñones Sánchez.

From the headquarters of the UNCA, the president said that Cuba is built-in to the coalition number 15 in the Civil Society Forum of the 8th Summit, which goes by the name "For a world respectful and inclusive process", and composed of 226 representatives from 19 countries of the region.

The second Cuban Forum coincides with the celebration in Lima of the Hemispheric Dialog that is part of the preparatory process and in the participation of representatives of the thematic coalitions 28 approved by the organizers.

The Havana meeting on Wednesday will show the diversity, representativeness and amplitude of the Cuban civil society and social actors covering all sectors of the economic, political, social, cultural, fraternal and religious at the same time make it clear the commitment to the building of a prosperous and sustainable socialism, reaffirmed Fermin Quiñones.

He noted that it is expected a rejection of the Cuban civil society to the exclusion of Venezuela of the 8th Summit of the Americas, and statements of solidarity with the Bolivarian people.

Also reported that it will be a space to denounce the political and media campaigns that take place against democratic and progressive governments of Latin America and the Caribbean and the attempts to isolate them from the regional overview.

The Cuban civil society has a lot to show on the axles of the Eighth Summit and participation in public policies to address issues such as corruption, he added.

Thinking about Americas, the national forum of Cuban civil society, will give continuity to a call made in 2015, prior to the Summit of the Americas in Panama, in which Cuba participated for the first time in this type of event.

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Computerization of Cuban Society at Informatics 2018

Representatives from different national institutions gathered at the Convention Center explained that the main objectives is to advance in the sector.

The Deputy Communications Minister, Wilfredo Gonzalez Vidal, recalled that the computerization policy in society is part of the Guidelines approved at the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party.

This objective is also included in the strategic sectors of the country and approved by the Council of Ministers in February of 2017 in the comprehensive policy to implement the project, he said.

Gonzalez Vidal informed that there are over 7 million people currently with access to digital television on the island and assured that over one million decoding boxes have been sold.

He made reference to the current work of the digitalization of public registries, supervised by the Justice Minister in the development stage and whose objective will be, among others in facilitating population management.

The Executive President of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA), Mayra Arevish said that they are in charge in guaranteeing the infrastructure of projects and the development of applications and contents that will allow an efficient response to the needs of the society.

She added that there are currently one thousand 600 public sites with Internet access in the country and is expecting an increase this year in addition to expanding its infrastructure.

Arevich spoke about the reduction in the prices of national and international navigation aimed at facilitating the access to the Cuban contents to a larger amount of people in order for a new source of management of knowledge and advantage for the development of the economy.

ETECSA, she said, had one million 536 thousand permanent accounts in 2017 and over 27 million temporary accounts were also sold.

The Executive President explained that the new Nauta Hogar Service (Home Service) implemented since late last year, has been successful among the clients and reiterated that one of the objectives will be to increase the service in 2018.

Among the most important changes of the current period is to guarantee Internet Access on the cell phones, something that required development in barely two years, with new infrastructures, always with the premise in offering the service with quality and guaranteeing a safe network.

The 17th International Convention Informatics 2018 will continue on Tuesday with the inauguration of the International Fair at Pabexpo Exhibition Center and a business forum.

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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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Cuba and Mali to strengthen Sports Cooperation

Antonio Becali, president of the Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER by its Spanish acronym) and Jean Claude Sidibe, Mali´s Minister of Sports, signed a Letter of Intent to promote exchange in that sector between the two countries.

The exchange is aimed at the creation of a Sports Medicine Center and an Anti-Doping Laboratory in Mali, as well as to strengthen the training system for the athletes, coaches and specialists of that African nation.

It is also planned to strengthen the links of collaboration between sports researchers and physicians, along with other professionals, in order to advise and train the Malian side.

Sidibe was accompanied in his official visit to Havana by Habib Sissoko, head of the Malian Olympic Committee.

During their five-day stay on Cuban soil, the visitors toured scientific sports institutions and training schools for high-performance athletes, among other activities.

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Bellamar Caves: A Gift of Nature

Since you go down the first step, you can start imagining, discovering, and dreaming of this site located in the Western side of Cuba. A great hall, as if it belongs to a fairy tale. You can enjoy magic waters and figures that scare or move you. It all depends on the nature whim. All these wait for visitors in Bellamar Caves, in the city of Matanzas.

Few miles away from the beach resort of Varadero, you can find the oldest tourist resort in Cuba. Jesus Castellanos, with almost four decades of work in Bellamar, is cleared to tell us the story…

Is this really the oldest tourist resort in Cuba?

Yes. The caves were discovered by chance in April 17th, 1861. In this farm, property of Don Manuel Santos Pargas, it is said that limestone rocks were extracted to be processed and used in the construction of the Sauto Theater. The Spaniard, who had been miner and speleologist, went down into the hole using a rope and then, he found the first hall. One year later, November 22nd, 1862, it took place the first trip to this place. Therefore, it is the oldest tourist resort in Cuba.

From the scientific and environmental approach, what is the importance of this place, which was —by the way— awarded National Heritage Site?

“This is a cavern, not a cave. A cave is an underground cavity when it has less than 1,000 meters explored. This one has 3,500 meters. It means it is a cavern, an active cavern, very much alive. It is said it is like a school for speleologists as we can find here everything studied in underground caves. For instance, the Helictite are famous because it is not common to find them and nobody has found a credible explanation as to why they continue growing defying even the laws of gravity.

We also have the popular Fountain of Youth, Love. We also have found fossil remains. We have five levels. The highest is the oldest one.”

Can you tell us how was the cavern formed?

This a cavern originated under phreatic conditions. Many have asked if this is a cave of fluvial origin. It was not the river’s flow, but the quiet waters of the phreatic surface. The limestone dissolves easily in water and created the cavities. As soon as this area dries because it gets below the sea level, then it starts a secondary process, which leads to the well-known stalactites and stalagmites. Both processes are active in Bellamar Caves. It is certainly of high interest to specialists as they can find everything here. That is why we ask visitors not to touch rock formations since we have oily hands, dusts, which stop and modify the growing process. As I said to you, it is very much alive.”

Is there anything interesting, cute, or funny you have experienced here in all of these years?

One of the cutest things I have ever seen here is couples coming to the Fountain of Love and they hold tight and kiss. Some of them have spent time without doing such a romantic thing. And they do it here. That’s cute!

What is the origin of such stories?

Well, it depends on how you want to see them. You can say it is history, or a legend. But it is not. Use your mind, and if you believe everything I tell you, you get closer to the Fountain and you touch it. Then it is happening!

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Kenya, Cuba sign deal Sports CS Echesa enters deal with Cuban counterpart to develop sports in both countries

Sports Ministry Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa has signed a 5-year deal with his Cuban counterpart Dr. Antonio Becali that will see Kenya benefit immensely towards sports development.

According to the contract signed yesterday, both parties will work towards raising the sporting level in both countries under the ‘innovative exchange’ program.

The agreement will implement activities such as organisation of sports programs, access to sporting facilities and equipment. Training and development of coaches and specialists has also been factored in the deal as well as academic exchange. Both countries will together explore issues like ports medicine, community sports and participation in long and middle distance races, doping control, sports management and computer Science applied to sports.

According to the CS Advisor on Communication & Strategy, Isaac Nyangay, other activities will be undertaken as may be agreed. Kenya is renowned global powerhouse in middle and long distance running meaning Cuba stand to benefit immensely from high altitude training programs by the expertise of local coaches and athletes.

Likewise, Kenya stands to benefit from Cuba who have dominated amateur boxing for years on the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) calendar.

Until the 1980s, Kenya was once a power house in boxing with Robert Napunyi Wangila winning the country Africa’s maiden Olympic Games gold and Steve Muchoki winning a World championship gold medal in Belgrade in 1978. But as technology and sports investment took centre stage in global boxing, the country’s fortunes have dwindled.

The introduction of computerised scoring meant a nosedive into the country’s gains in boxing.

Due to historical associations with the United States, many Cubans participate in sports which are popular in North America rather than the traditionally promoted in other Latin American nations. Baseball is by far the most popular other popular sports and past-times include boxing, where Cuba is a dominant force to reckon with.

The partnership will also focus on areas of performing Arts, visual Arts, Music, Heritage, film, cultural information and research.

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First high-level official Palau delegation visits Cuba

The first high-level official visit by a Palau delegation since the establishment of the Palau-Cuba diplomatic relations in 2015 was led by Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts.

They arrived in Cuba on Feb. 23, 2018. The purpose of the visit was to further strengthen the relationship between Palau and Cuba in the area of health.

This partnership between Palau and Cuba was initiated in 2012, when a young high school graduate, a native of Peleliu, Jason Arurang, had a dream of becoming a doctor and was offered the Cuban scholarship to attend the Latin American School of Medicine or in Cuba.

The Palau delegation toured the University of Havana. Seventy percent of the medical students are women. Photo shows 2nd year pre-dentist students. Palau Ministry of Health photo

Besides Arurang, the Palauan medical students studying in Cuba are Terebkul Ngiraingas, Jade Adelbai, Demei Yobech, Remeldil Bells, Jun Rafael, Lara Reklai, Mya Siang, Ngesmus Hosei, Irikl Masters.

The Palau delegation that visited Cuba included Minister of Education, Sinton Soalablai, Sen. Aric Nakamura, Chief Justice Arthur Ngirakelsong, Palau Ambassador to the U.N. Olai Uludong, Ambassador-designate to Cuba Dr. Greg Dever and Dr. Lala Lalavalevu.

The delegation visited the Palauan students attending the Latin American School of Medicine, toured the various medical facilities, and met with Cuban medical and foreign affairs officials.

Cuba is the only Small Island Developing State to offer free health care and education from the elementary level to PhD level. For Palau, this trip was an opportunity to foster and strengthen South-South cooperation between Small Island Developing States across the Oceans — from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.

According to Roberts, “This trip has opened my eyes. I have learned new things: culture and innovation with small resources. The strengthening of our partnership bilaterally and the success of it, will benefit the people.”

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Cuban leader congratulates Putin on winning presidential election

Cuban leader Raul Castro has congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the presidential election, Cuba’s Ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal said.

"Raul Castro has conveyed his warm congratulations to Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin on his convincing election win on Sunday," the ambassador wrote on Twitter.

According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, incumbent head of state Vladimir Putin has garnered 76.56% of the vote with 95% of the ballots counted.

Director of the Lenin State Farm Pavel Grudinin, nominated by the Communist Party of Russia, is second with 11.92%, while leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky is third with 5.77%.

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