Cuban elections: over 20 thousand polling stations ready

HAVANA, Cuba, Jul 21 (ACN) Cubans will cast their ballots in the coming general elections in some 24,360 polling stations placed in the over 12,515 districts of the country.

Secretary of the National Electoral Commission (CNE), Maria Esther Bacallao, reported that 8 percent of the stations will be in private houses, properly certified as having met the legal requirements of Cuban elections.

She said the CNE is working to create special electoral commissions for the second round of the elections in those districts where none of the candidates fails to obtain the mandatory 50 percent of the votes plus one to be called winner.

On the time remaining to the elections, the CNE is working on updating of the Voter´s Registry, with the publishing and verification of the voters´ lists.

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JAMPRO hosts inward trade mission from Cuba as Agency seeks to boost export to Caribbean region

Following its Caribbean Market Mission initiative to boost regional export, Jamaica’s trade and investment promotions agency, JAMPRO, is this week hosting a Cuban delegation representing 10 organisations for a week-long trade mission from July 17-to 21, 2017.

The trade mission, a result of JAMPRO’s Cuban market development programme, will have representatives from Cuban State Agencies such as the National Bank of Cuba, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, Ministry of Domestic Trade, the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, and key enterprises like QUIMIMPORT (chemicals), CORALSA (food), QUIMIMPEX (exports and imports), CUBASOL S.A. and IMECO (construction).  CUBASOL S.A.  is an entrepreneurial group composed of important agencies and enterprises related to the Tourism industry.  Jamaican companies will get the opportunity to promote their products for export to Cuba through factory visits organized by JAMPRO, as well as meetings with the Cuban companies to initiate negotiations for the sale of locally manufactured products. The Cuban representatives will tour Jamaican companies, to understand the country’s capacity for manufacturing to meet the demand of the Cuban market, with a population of 11 Million.  The delegation will also meet with Jamaican government counterparts to discuss improving the exporting process to Cuba. The mission will end with the “Doing Business with Cuba” seminar hosted by JAMPRO to provide companies with the knowledge necessary to do business in the country. A highlight of the seminar is a presentation on the CARICOM-Cuba trade agreement.

Having targeted the Cuban market through our many missions there, especially to FIHAV, The Havana International Fair, and hospitality trade fair HostelCuba, we needed to take the next step to cement the relationships we had initiated and concretise the demand we had identified,” said Diane Edwards, President of JAMPRO.

Vice President of Export and Market Development at JAMPRO Robert Scott added that the inward trade visit represents a leap forward for Jamaican companies, and suggests that Jamaica is now on the radar of the Cuban buying authorities. VP Scott said, “Success in the Cuban market requires persistent interactions over several years to encourage relationship building and knowledge of what is needed in that market. This mission is a breakthrough as it means our companies now have the opportunity to build relationships with key Cuban business organisations and buyers in the Jamaican space. For those who are already in contact with Cuba, they can now showcase the professionalism of their operations and convince the delegation of their ability to supply consistently high quality. We are excited about the possibilities for this mission, and we are pleased to receive support from the Embassy of Cuba in Jamaica and our embassy in Cuba. They have proactively encouraged business and dialogue between Jamaica and Cuba.”

According to His Excellency Bernardo Guanche Hernández, Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, the mission is part of a continuous effort to build trade between Jamaica and Cuba and encourage knowledge sharing between both countries. He explained, “Thanks to the efficient and gracious work by JAMPRO, the Cuban delegation will visit Jamaica to fulfil an extensive agenda. The visit is part of the efforts carried out by both countries to increase trade and businesses in concordance with the excellent level of bilateral relations between Cuba and Jamaica. 

This trade mission gives continuity to the visit by Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment of Cuba (MINCEX), Ileana Nunez Mordoche, in May 2016, as part of a tour to the Caribbean, signaling the commitment we have made to boost trade. I am pleased to say that we believe we’re making significant headway in this effort, and I look forward to the outcomes of the mission to Jamaica.

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Bolivia's President Winds UP Working Visit to Cuba

Bolivia''s President Evo Morales wound up a state visit to Cuba after meeting First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel, his last activity of his agenda in the island.

In the encounter, Morales was accompanied by his Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni, the Cuban Television prime news hour reported.

The Bolivian Head of State was seen off at Havana international airport Jose Marti by Diaz Canel personally. He's flying to Mendoza, Argentina, to attend a Mercosur gathering.

Morales arrived in Cuba on Wednesday evening from Managua, Nicaragua, where he attended celebrations for the 38th Anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution and took part at the 23rd Meeting of the Sao Paula Forum, in which he reaffirmed his solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela.

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Bipartisan Support for Ties with Cuba Continues in U.S.

The bipartisan support to engagement with Cuba has strongly increased in the United States over the past two years and we will continue seeing it in the future, said the president of a coalition that promotes ties with the Caribbean island.

The president of Engage Cuba, James Williams, regretted the announcement made last month by President Donald Trump on the reverse of some aspects of the opening to Cuba, which he described as a step back on the path to the normalization of bilateral relations.

However, he pointed out that amid that situation, the effusive support to continue seeking more engagement with the neighboring country, with which the United States reestablished diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015, was notable.

We are having a dialogue on Cuba that we had not seen for a long time and that is very different even from the one that existed two years ago, Williams said in an interview with Prensa Latina.

According to Williams, it is a great achievement for the two countries, and for people on U.S. territory who think that engagement is the best path after 55 years of a failed policy of restrictions.

He pointed out that although hard-line politicians want to reverse things, it is evident that the context is not the same as in other times, because steps have been taken in matters like more U.S. citizens visiting Cuba, travels by airlines and cruises, business interests.

If the Trump administration does not involve constructively in the engagement, others will have to take the place and continue building bridges, said Williams, whose organization seeks the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade that Washington has imposed on Cuba.

'I think that we are seeing that and that we will see even more, more members of Congress and governors will go to Cuba, as well as other people who see the vacuum of leadership in that regard and want to fill it,' he noted.

Asked about the coalition's work after Trump's decision, Williams stated that they have focused on regulations that must be announced in the next few months.

When he signed the Cuba policy memorandum, the president said that travels by U.S. citizens to Cuba would be limited and that economic, commercial and financial transactions between U.S. companies and Cuban firms linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the intelligence and security services would be prohibited, among other measures.

The announcement on June 16 was a speech and a presidential policy directive, but the interpretation of how those measures will be regulated is what will have a real impact, Williams explained.

According to the president of Engage Cuba, they are interested in listening to the voices of the Cuban people, including the private sector, and that they are not only rules designed offstage by political groups in Washington.

Our hope would be that the leadership at the bipartisan level includes that and that the White House, after making deals in the shadows before, comes to the fore, listens to experts from both sides to have a real conversation, he noted.

It would be the best path, that the two governments can sit at the table and talk, that the peoples dialogue with each other and that the process is not guided by only few, he added.

However, he described as uncertain the role to be played by the agencies in charge of the new measures, because they were already marginalized when the Cuba policy was reviewed.

'Will they play a role now? I hope so, their technical experience is essential to prepare those regulations, but that does not mean necessarily that the administration will listen to them,' he stated.

Williams noted that Engage Cuba is making efforts to explain why relations are important to the largest universe of people possible, in the Capitol, in the White House, the agencies or the state governments.

He pointed out that most of those involved are waiting for new guidelines to come into effect three months after the president's announcement, but anything might happen until then, because the federal agencies accumulate lots of tasks, staff problems and many other important matters to attend to.

Anyway, he said, we have a limited window of time; therefore, we are working on the matter of bilateral ties with Cuba as if there is no tomorrow.

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Cuban First Vice President: Nicaragua will always have Cuba's Support

Cuba's First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Wednesday in Managua, that Nicaragua will always have the unconditional support, friendship and solidarity of the Caribbean island, reported Prensa Latina News Agency.

The Cuban First Vice President traveled to Nicaragua to participate in the 38th anniversary celebrations of the Sandinista Revolution. He said that the Cuban government and people express their solidarity and revolutionary feelings to the Nicaraguan people.

He extended greetings on behalf of President Raul Castro to his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo who, together with the Sandinista National Liberation Front, struggle to eradicate poverty in Nicaragua.

The Cuban leader stressed that Nicaragua is living intense reaffirmation and revolutionary struggle after hosting the 23rd Meeting of the Forum of Sao Paulo, important space of political debate in which the Latin American left forces are drafting common strategies to face neoliberalism.

It is significant that at such a transcendental moment we are able to express our congratulations to the Nicaraguan people and ratify once again that they have the unconditionally support, friendship and solidarity of the Cuban people, said Diaz-Canel.

The Cuban government leader was welcomed by Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada and other government authorities at the Augusto Cesar Sandino Airport.

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Bulls in Cuba

Cuba was the first country in Latin America where bullfights took place.

Last weekend, in Havana, you could almost hear the snorts of the fevered animal and the olé shouted by hundreds of fans, always rewarded with some challenging pass of the bullfighter.

The exhibition “Cuba brava. El toreo en la memoria historica de Cuba”, hosted by the House of Mexico, was unveiled in Havana. Paintings, pictures, posters, customs, documents and other related articles recalled the long and unknown bullfighting tradition in Cuba.

It is easy to realize that Spanish conquerors were the ones who introduced here and other Latin American countries the bullfight shows. Such shows are being criticized due to the cruelty with which these animals are treated.

According to Spanish Placido Gonzalez Hermoso, the first bullfight in Cuba took place in 1514 and Friar Bartolome de las Casas witnessed the event in his “Historia General de Indias.”

The first bullring in Cuba was built in 1769.

Twenty seven years later, the inhabitants of the village witnessed the second bullring built in Monte and Egido Streets. Bulls and bullfighters were brought from the metropolis.

Among the first documented bullfight festivities, the one held in 1569 to honor Saint Christopher is well-remembered. To honor the crowning of Carlos III, it was held a resounding one in 1759.

To honor this king, the bullring “Carlos III” or “La Infanta” was opened in 1885. Such bullfights were even broadcasted by the television for ten years, but it could not capture the audience’s attention, though.

However, this bullfights environment did not quit easily and they won the government’s approval to allow bullfighting in Havana on the exceptional condition of not killing any animal. The aforementioned bullfight took place at the Tropical Stadium before 13,000 fans in April 27th, May 4th, and May 11st 1941.

Not even Mazantin the Bullfighter

You can listen to some of our grandparents the phrase “This cannot be done by even Mazantin the bullfighter.” And some of our young people use the same expression.


Perhaps, they do not know that Mazantin the bullfighter was the very famous Luis Mazzantini y Eguia, a Basque born in 1856.

He was unique due to his elegant and refined art of behaving inside and outside the bullring. He liked opera, social talks, and hanging out with the Spanish high society, where he returned after a long stay in Italy.

He starred a total of 16 bullfights in Cuba. And the bullring located in Belascoin Street, between Virtudes and Concordia Streets was the place where he boasted great skills.

Mazzantini left his mark in the island’s fashion and customs as well as one cigarettes’ brand.

Four decades later, the bullfighter vanished from the daily life of Havana.

In 1899 and after the Maine’s wrecking, the U.S. interventionist forces prohibited bullfights by military order. If any failed to comply with that order, a 500 Cuban pesos fine was executed.

The art of bullfighting in Cuba left like Mazzantini after four centuries. It happened once but those times will never come back again. It may be seen only in exhibitions like the one taking place in Havana.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Nicaragua Celebrates 38th Anniv of Sandinista Popular Revolution

Nicaragua is commemorating today the 38th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Popular Revolution, a feat that ended in 1979 several decades of dictatorship and opened a stage of transcendental changes in the country.

Decorated with the red-and-black flags of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the blue and white colors of the national flag, the esplanade of the Plaza de la Fe is ready to welcome hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans and figures from around the world who will accompany President Daniel Ortega and Deputy Minister, Rosario Murillo.

Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, El Salvador's Salvador Sanchez Ceren, and Cuban First Vice-President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, are already in the country to take part in the celebrations.

Representations of social movements and left-wing political parties in Latin America and the Caribbean, which participated in the recent 23rd meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum, are also on the list.

The FSLN ended on July 19, 1979, the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the latter of the family in power, and undertook since then a series of profound changes to benefit the majority.

After the devastating effects of an economic siege and the war financed and organized by the United States, the FSLN lost the 1990 elections in front of a coalition that brought together all political opposition forces.

About 17 years later, through ballot, the FSLN returned to the government to begin a second stage that shows substantial changes in all orders, applauded and recognized by many countries and international organizations.

Nicaragua has solid indicators today in several fields and is considered one of the most stable and safe nations in the world, while it is in a position to emerge as one of the major economies in the region.

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Euthanasia in Cuba: To Die with Dignity?

Most interviewees are in favor of euthanasia, provided it’s regulated and the means to exert strict control.

"Euthanasia, what’s that? ", told me - incredibly! - a recently graduated doctor. With that answer I never knew for sure if he ignored the term or he simply didn't want to take part in this respect.

Searching for approaches on euthanasia I certain positions, although from these first lines I’d rather established that most interviewees are in favor of its practice, provided it’s regulated and the means to exert strict control.

A neighbor in her early 80’s pointed out sharply: “That’s not my case, but an old man, for example who doesn't have a quality of life and becomes a burden for the family, what’s the point on go on surviving under such conditions? "  

"I agree provided is beyond saving, and every medical and scientific resources have been tried, expressed Carmen Ibañez, specialist in Information and Documents Management.

The worker at Granma newspaper considered that the euthanasia should be practice also when a baby comes with a congenital malformation and the parents don't want to have the child.

"It’s very sad to bring to a human being to life with a defect. Take a look at myself, I have negative Rh factor and always - in my permanent concern - I told the doctor that, if any test were outside the standard, I’d rather act ahead of time! ".

Not all opinions were favorable, and some of them denied the euthanasia flatly. Inés and Heriberto are married and both are evangelical religion followers. In that, perhaps, resides their total disagreement with this practice which, according to them could bring about other inconveniences.

"The euthanasia, for example could be used as a shield to carry out unscrupulous actions, related to the acquisition of assets, inheritances, or other negative attitudes and bad behaviors", they stressed.

Two Doctors, One Opinion

Accustomed to work with patients whose lives "hang by a thread", to put it in a way, Doctor Tania Fernández Sordo, first degree specialist in Intensive and Emergency Care, already coincides with approaches related to the topic which are also complex for her.

Master in Medical Emergencies she considers that the euthanasia should be applied in those patients who – on their own request – desire with a terminal or incurable illness, like cancer.

"Besides, in critical patients, like those we take care of in our ward (intensive care unit), where their vital parameters are kept with the use of medication or apparatuses to prolong life, without real chances at recovery."

The doctor affirmed that in our country such practice is not regulated. Nevertheless, she believes that it could be analyzed by professionals of health, mainly doctors working in the ICU wards, oncologists, and other specialists. "Our job is to save lives (those that are possible), and not those that cause suffering and stretch agony."

On the other hand, the medical resident in Geriatrics Diana Rosa Graverán González explained: "taking into account the concepts handled through centuries, we must not overlook the importance of euthanasia regarding the cultural, religious traditions and habits of each country in correspondence with its environment as for socio-cultural development.

"As a doctor I think that one of our missions - and the most important one- is to alleviate the pain of human beings. However, the euthanasia could be carried out keeping in mind the patient's decision, of their relatives, whenever they are aware of the suffering and the irreversibility of the disease; not applicable to coma patients and who have not put in written in their last will their expressed desire.

"In Cuba is forbidden, there are no laws on this regard. But the law can be passed, hence patients (conscious) with irreversible illnesses they can put an end to sufferings, on well grounded legal terms.

"Human beings can’t choose when or how to be born, if only we could have the chance to - in great pain and discomfort - be able to make the call of ending with a difficult situation. The saying that goes there’s still hope while you can breathe it is not always that simple. There are coma episodes, long and irreversible, that prove otherwise."

A vote in favor from his position as lawyer

The young Cuban lawyer Malena Pérez Rodríguez thrilled with a matter on which her schoolmates at law school didn't want to go deep – due to its own content and the ignorance about it - the young lawyer Malena Pérez Rodríguez decided to go further (she even wrote a thesis) on euthanasia, which supports completetly, although she explains that before its approval some conditions must be established.

Some human beings - Malena explained - suffer from pains, regardless the drugs they are given. They are those who fight against cancer, for example, but others feel they aren’t strong enough to join this battle. And the relatives are within arm’s length, watching them suffer without any solution in sight. Therefore I say Yes to euthanasia, because there are people who don't want to live, mainly those at an advanced phase of the disease.

"How many phrases are heard in the street that go: 'I don't want to get old like that! '; 'well (…) he finally rested in peace'; 'he died and didn't suffer! '. Nobody wants to die with anguish and pain. Then, why not speed up death? Euthanasia could be included in the Civil Law; to pass a law.

"When I was studying law I found information explaining that the State cannot regulate euthanasia if the medical community and society were in agreement. In this regard, the last saying falls completely in the hands of health professionals, but I think there’s phobia with this practice.

“It’s true that the State cannot force society to accept it, but it can regulate it, for those who wish to undergo assisted death. It’s not passing a compulsory ordinance, but knowing that the chance is at hand, and that at a given time you can use it.

The possibility should exist of deciding whether / or not I want or abstain. It is important to know that proceeding is regulated and if I want to undergo that procedure I’d be committing no crime.

"Those suffering from Alzheimer, suffer a degenerative illness, but they are in no pain. However, a patient with terminal cancer suffers, it suffers an irreversible disease. That’s why I don't see euthanasia as a general alternative, but for those who want to finish with a life of suffering.

"Brakes in the current Cuban society? Mainly, I see it in the field of medicine, starting from the so-called Hippocratic oath – first do not harm, you will help to prolong life -. It is indispensable to widen the idea in this regard, and reflect on up to what point carrying euthanasia is effective to help a sick person. That is the goal. Before being doctors, first we are human beings, and we have the responsibility to aid patients and avoid traumatic processes".

According your approach, how to regulate it in order to avoid windows to wickedness?

As everything else in this world it also has negatives aspects. The Achilles heel is that euthanasia could be used to malpractice, but even so in Cuba medical mistakes have happened and as there were not aggravating rights everything has stayed just there. Anyway, I think that its approval would bring more benefits than disadvantages."

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