Cuban Caricaturist Wins Award in Canada

Cuban cartoonist Alfredo Martirena said that ''a good journalist prefers to save his news better than his own life'' so does he with his work, and won the Award to Excellency at the Caricature Contest on Freedom of the Press in Canada.

The winning cartoon work by Martirena at the 19th edition of the Cartoon Contest on Freedom of Press, describes a reporter at a trench while protecting his own laptop computer machine with his own body, in a profesional gesture, preserving his professional work, before preserving his life.

'The cartoon is a tribute to the hundreds of journalists who are killed every year in different parts of the world, acting as reporters, photographers or cameramen, with the healthy purpose of reporting acts of corruption or maltreatment of citizens,' he said.

This event was organized this year by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom and the central topic was 'Open Season for Journalists', with 370 entries from 29 countries.

Martirena, a cartoonist for Cuban weekly Melaito, in the Cuban province of Villa Clara, won this contest five years ago and has also won the Eduardo Abela Grand Prize twice, at the International Biennial of Graphic Humorism, Cuba, 2011 and 2017.

In addition to Alfredo Martirena, cartoonists Musa Gumus, Hicabi Demirci and Kaan Saatci from Turkey, Sergii Riabokon from Ukraine, James Silk and Chip Bok from the United States, Dario Castillejos from Mexico, Niels Bo Bojesen from Denmark and Marco De Angelis from Italy, also received the Excellence Award.

  • Published in Culture

Venezuela Rejects 'Illegal' Sanctions by Canada

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected the "illegal application" of new sanctions against Venezuela. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza firmly condemned Canada's illegal decision to impose sanctions against 43 individuals of Venezuela and highlighted that those economic measures were contrary to international law.

RELATED: Venezuela Foreign Minister Accuses US of Open Coup Attempt

"The government of Canada has taken off the mask through the application of four rounds of sanctions against Venezuela in less than two years," Arreaza said in a statement Monday. 

Canada decided to expand sanctions against the Venezuelan government on Monday, according to a statement from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, targeting an additional 43 people close to President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro. 

"During the Lima group meeting in Ottawa on February 4, 2019, we called the international community to take action against Maduro regime. Today, Canada is acting by adding [to the sanctions list] another 43 people who are responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela," said Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Canada already sanctioned 70 other Venezuelans, including the President of Venezuela. 

Recently, the U.N expert Alfred de Zayas compared the situation in Venezuela with Chile’s Salvador Allende. An economic war was waged against Allende for three years. When the economic war was not successful in ousting Allende, a coup d’état by General Augusto Pinochet toppled Allende’s regime unleashing 17 years of one of Latin America's most brutal dictatorships. 

  • Published in World

Cuba To Welcome 5 Million Visitors In 2019

This year could be a banner year for Cuban tourism.

As the Caribbean island continues to court foreign vacationers, the tourism ministry announced that they expect over five million visitors in 2019.

If the island hits their goal, it will be the 12th consecutive year of growth in tourism numbers for the Pearl of the Antilles, with 7.4% growth between 2018 and 2019, said the ministry. Tourism incomes are estimated to exceed 3 billion dollars in Cuba in 2019 , according to the ministry.

Experts say that the expansion of accommodation choices – including five-star hotels in Havana – as well as the increase in competitively priced hotels and casa particulares has resulted in more interest for vacationers. Additionally, in November, Havana will celebrate its 500th year anniversary.

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“Five million is realistic,” said John McAuliff, executive director of Fund for Reconciliation and Development, in an email. “Americans are slowly waking up to the reality that they are still free to travel independently under the Support for the Cuban People license.”

Continuing, he said that “the number could go even higher if Congress ends all restrictions on travel by Americans. Under Democratic control, the House could match bipartisan support in the Senate to allow normal travel and agricultural sales.”

The top two tourism markets remain Canada and the United States, although Americans are still prohibited from visiting Cuba for tourism explicitly. (Americans can still travel to Cuba legally under one of these 12 permitted categories.)

Cuba has also launched promotional campaigns recently to attract more travelers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain as well as emerging markets like China, Vietnam and South Africa.

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Although regulations dictate that Americans are not allowed to go on a ‘typical’ beach vacation while exploring the country, Steve Powers, owner of Hidden Treasure Tours in Long Beach, New York, said during last month's New York Times Travel Show that traveling to Cuba legally remains a great deal as compared to the rest of the Caribbean, thanks to cheap, commercial flights from the US.

In 2018, the island welcomed 4.78 million visitors with less than one million of those travelers arriving by cruise ship.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Foreign Minister Calls Canada's Move to Send Diplomats Home Disappointing

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called Canada's decision to reduce the number of diplomats working in the island nation, due to alleged health conditions experienced by the staff, "disappointing and incomprehensible," suggesting no evidence had been provided about the alleged sickness suffered by the Canadian nationals.

"Cuba is a safe country where 115 embassies and 6 international agencies offices are accredited. Canada's decision to downscale diplomatic staff in #Havana is both disappointing and incomprehensible. There isn't the slightest evidence about the alleged health injuries," Rodriguez wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Global Affairs Canada said on Wednesday that Ottawa had decided to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Havana by half after another person became ill since the last confirmed case in November.

According to Ottawa, the case brought the total number of affected Canadian employees, spouses and dependants in Cuba to 14. The Canadian government continued to investigate the potential causes of the unusual health symptoms these individuals have experienced; however, so far there had been no cause identified, the foreign office said.

Notably, in 2017, the US authorities said that some of the diplomats working at the US embassy in Cuba had been affected by an audio device and showed strange symptoms similar to the ones displayed by the Canadian embassy staff.

  • Published in Cuba

Canada Labour Congress with 3M Members, Denounces Trudeau's Support for Intervention in Venezuela

“The CLC vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis; the people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.”

As Canada joins efforts by the Venezuelan right-wing opposition, the United States, and right-wing governments in Latin America to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, Canada’s Labour Congress, representing over three million Canadian workers, issued a statement Wednesday calling on the Justin Trudeau government to promote dialogue instead of intervention and a military coup.

IN DEPTH: Venezuela Confronts US-backed Right-wing Coup

“Venezuelans need to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and democratic processes without resorting to violence,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

Canada is among several countries, including the U.S. and Brazil, that endorsed opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as “interim President” of Venezuela, after he self-proclaimed himself as such on Jan. 23 in violation of the Venezuelan constitution.

“The CLC is alarmed at the escalation of international interference in the democratic process of a sovereign nation, including the possibility of military intervention,” the press release by the massive worker organization warned. “The CLC vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis; the people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.”

The statement went on to urge the Canadian government not to promote or support regime change policy that is being sought by the government of the United States and its allies adding that “Canada’s role on the world stage is better suited to promote stability through constructive dialogue with the international community."

The United States and its right-wing allies recognized opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the country's "interim president" after he self-proclaimed himself as such on Jan. 23, an illegal and unconstitutional move and a rejection of the second term of the Nicolas Maduro in office which he won after last year's May elections.

Guaido, the United States and right-wing governments in the region have been calling on the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro. However, the country's defense minister and top military brass have come out in support of Maduro and his government.

There have been whispers in Washington that the Donald Trump administration is “seriously considering” a military intervention in Venezuela if Maduro does not step down or be ousted internally.

Since the beginning of the recent political crisis, president Maduro has repeatedly said he was open to dialogue with the opposition and its leader Guiado in order to seek a peaceful resolution to the current situation.

  • Published in World

Cuba criticizes Canada's diplomatic downsize after another diplomat falls ill

The Cuban government is criticizing Canada's decision on Wednesday to halve its embassy staff after a 14th Canadian fell ill to an unexplained illness in Havana.

Josefina Vidal, Cuba's ambassador to Canada, says that reducing embassy personnel in Havana will do nothing to help find the cause of a mysterious ailment that has affected Canadian and American diplomats.

Canada and Cuba have been co-operating to find the cause to the mysterious set of circumstances, but the Americans have criticized the Cubans over the matter, walking back major improvements in their strained relations that had begun under former U.S. president Barack Obama.

Vidal said that "Canada's decision made public today is incomprehensible."

She said the decision will "not help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats, and which will have an impact on the relations."


The Cuban envoy said that is not how her government sees it.

"This behaviour favours those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba," said Vidal.

The Cuban government has said the Trump administration is using the issue to roll back new measures instituted by the Obama administration to re-engage with its Caribbean island neighbour after five decades of tensions dating back to the height of the Cold War.

The U.S. withdrew most of its non-essential diplomatic staff in September 2017 but Canada did not.

  • Published in Cuba

China to Trudeau: 'Don't Become a Laughing Stock' Over Detained Canadian

"No matter how you look at it, Michael Kovrig does not have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention," said China's Foreign Ministry.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, being held in China on suspicion of endangering national security, is not entitled to diplomatic immunity, China's foreign ministry said Monday.

RELATED: Huawei Arrest: Canada Faces ‘Serious Consequences’ Says China

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday appealed to China over the detention of two Canadians and accused the country of "not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity" in one of the cases.

Asked about Trudeau's comments, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the "relevant Canadian person" should "earnestly study" the Vienna Convention before speaking, so as to "not become a laughing stock."

"No matter how you look at it, Michael Kovrig does not have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention," she said.

Kovrig is not serving as a diplomat at the moment and had entered China on his most recent trip on a regular passport and business visa, she said.

Kovrig was one of two Canadians detained in China days after the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, in Vancouver, at the request of the United States.

On Monday,  China urged countries to end "fabrications" about Huawei, after an official in Poland said his country could limit the use of the company's products by public entities following the arrest of a Huawei employee there on spying allegations.

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with China's government and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for espionage. No evidence has been produced publicly and Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations, but several Western countries have restricted Huawei's access to their markets.

The other Canadian held in China is businessman Michael Spavor.

  • Published in World

Canada Looking For A Way Out Of Big Saudi Arms Deal, Says Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in an interview that aired on Sunday, said for the first time that his Liberal government was looking for a way out of a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The comments represented a notable hardening in tone from Trudeau, who previously said there would be huge penalties for scrapping the $13 billion agreement for armored vehicles made by the Canadian unit of General Dynamics Corp.

Last month, Trudeau said Canada could freeze the relevant export permits if it concluded the weapons had been misused.

"We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia," Trudeau told CTV. He did not give further details.

Political opponents, citing the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia's involvement in the Yemen war, insist Trudeau should end the General Dynamics deal, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government.

Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh have been tense since a diplomatic dispute over human rights earlier this year. Ottawa says it has been consulting allies on what steps to take after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that's why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that," said Trudeau.

  • Published in World
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