Cuba develops new sustainable agriculture program

A new sustainable agriculture program is underway in Cuba aimed at enhancing the production-commercialization chain.Funded by European Non-government organizations, such as the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and the Dutch Humanistic Institute for Cooperation, the project was launched nine months ago in four entities in seven Cuban provinces, particulary in the areas of apiculture and the development of fruits and vegetables.

Program director, Juan Perez Lamas told the Cuban News Agency that actions included in the  Project in Support of Sustainable Agriculture are underway in all agriculture modalities on the island, including state farms.

As immediate benefits yielded by the project, Perez referred to the setting up of small processing plants at citrus fruit farms, which are expected to start operations later this year, since all the necessary equipment is already on the island.

The project also includes the certification of organic productions, which do not take chemicals as fertilizers or pest control agents.

  • Published in Cuba

Antonio Pacheco in U.S: News or Home Run?

Since last July 18 the information started to circulate in Internet and many journalists, baseball players, officials, people from Santiago de Cuba, all Cubans, wonder the same thing: Antonio Pacheco asked for political asylum in the United States? Is he undergoing refuge procedures?

Between uncertainty and reality the only real, proven fact was that he indeed was in U.S. territory. The so-called Captain of Captains was in Tampa, accompanied by his wife, he had been there for several weeks actually. A homemade video shot by baseball player Yobal Dueñas was uploaded in youtube. ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiMymTM01m8 )

The piece of news started to spread from there as generally happens, with a certain political smell, without checking with migratory authorities or others sources the terms of “asylum or refuge”, without statements of the main character of the event. The player was just showed and judged over and over as the ultimate defeat of the sport system and, of course, the failure of the social system built in Cuba since 1959.

And it is true Pacheco was not only an idol of baseball, but an icon of a country. He was one of the greatest examples and role-model of sportsmen for more than two decades. Among his unique achievements can be found the inclusion in all Cuba baseball teams since the infantile categories until the big team. He coached Santiago de Cuba team winning three times the national championship and in 2008 he coached the national team in the Olympic Games of Beijing, where he ended second.

However, let’s return to the news at hand and not to the media homerun that a few aggressive websites have wanted to show. These websites multiplied the report from the point of view they saw more suited not to demoralize Pacheco, but the Cuban Revolution.

The former second base player decided to travel from Canada, where he had a legal and public work contract, to the United States to visit or start a work project next to Yobal Dueñas and catcher Angel Lopez. This information was clearly not included in the video, that much can be checked. Is perhaps a crime if we abide the laws established in the northern country or the most recent migratory politics approved in our country?

Many of us may not share in a moral, affective, even in a political way Pacheco's decision regarding the workplace he chose if finally it’s true he will work there. But that doesn’t mean he is going to stop being Cuban all of a sudden neither that he is an enemy for his people, provided he doesn’t begin the traffic or piracy of our baseball talents. Let’s also hope he doesn’t scorn what he learned in his sport career, exaggerate lies and past stories or flirt with those terrorists who really want to make Cuba collapse.

He has done none of this until today July 29. No statement, interview or public appearance can be consulted in North American media, social networks, blogs, etc., and the very websites aforementioned—at least one did it—acknowledge that could not establish contact with Pacheco or that he didn’t want to make a statement.

He doesn’t speak in the video mentioned earlier which proves that we are witnessing something as normal as working in another place that is not his country and that’s the bottom line.

It’s true that for many colleagues and the people from Santiago de Cuba is sad and we are not used to separating passions, politics and Cuban identity in events like these. It is truly difficult to tell them apart when they are our icons who walk on the neighbor’s sidewalk. A neighbor, who has tried to choke us for more than five decades.

Contrary to what the media has not said, this journalist does have a statement (recorded) from Pacheco, after an interview granted at Guillermon Moncada Stadium in 2009. One of the questions was about his decision of staying in Cuba despite the many offers he received to play in the Major League Baseball. To recall his answer today is not like defending him, it’s just a reminder on how consequent the Cuban people expect him to be no matter where he lives.

“Pacheco didn't stay because, honestly, I come from a very humble family, with a father who sacrificed many things for his education where the main thing he was taught was to love his homeland always, love for his family, his friends, his people. I was raised that way and afterwards I have had the chance, the opportunity of growing, of seeing and of thinking, I saw that the world is not sometimes as someone says it is or try to sell us.

It never crossed my mind to leave my team or the country. I always followed a path I had to keep. I thank my parents for the education they gave me, to my family, my friends whom share with me and spoke to me, the leaders who spoke with me, to our Commander in Chief who is a man of principles and taught me that this was a single path.

I am happy, maybe I don't have all I needed to have, but I have many things, I have a lot, the people's love and don’t worry I will die rich with that.”

Let’s hope he never forgets to die rich with their people.

  • Published in Sports

Book on Hugo Chávez Launched in Havana

The book Hugo Chávez, Mi Primera Vida (Hugo Chávez, My First Life), by writer and journalist, Ignacio Ramonet, was launched by the author in Havana’s José Martí Memorial.
  • Published in Culture

Cuba clips Team USA, 1-0, in series finale

PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba - The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team managed just four hits and left seven runners on base as Cuba made a sixth-inning RBI single hold up to claim a 1-0 victory and sweep the five-game series on Sunday at Capitán San Luis Stadium.

Team USA finishes the summer with an 18-8-2 record, including a 7-1 mark at Honkbal Week in the Netherlands where it won the tournament title.

"I am really proud of this team and all that we accomplished this summer," Team USA manager Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) said. "Starting with our tour of the Coastal Plain League when we were in something like 10 different hotels in 12 nights, these players have always had great attitudes, have never complained and really bonded as a squad.

"We started out really strong, winning a five-game series against Chinese Taipei and a hard-fought three game-series over Japan. Then, we took the first overseas trip for pretty much every player on the team and I felt like they responded really well. They showed up to play every day and played hard. We didn't panic after losing the first game at Honkbal Week and ran off seven straight wins to accomplish one of our biggest goals of the summer which was to win that tournament.

"We didn't finish quite like we had hoped down here in Cuba, but our players really kept a great attitude. We just couldn't get over the hump. It was hot and the travel was definitely a grind but the bottom line was that we played a great team, full of grown men. We lost three one-run games and just didn't field and hit like we were capable of."

On Sunday, Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser rolled through the Cuba lineup twice, facing just two over the minimum in his 5.2 innings on the mound. He had their hitters tied in knots, striking out eight while allowing just two hits before leaving the game with two on and two outs.

Cuba would get a big two-out, run-scoring single from Yadiel Hernandez, however, to plate the game's only run and put a tally in the earned run column on Funkhouser's sparkling worksheet.

On the other side of the diamond, Cuba starting pitcher Yasiel Sierra was equally as dominant, pitching 5.2 innings of his own. He held the U.S. off the scoreboard while yielding just four hits and striking out seven before a blister forced him to exit the game.

The U.S. didn't have much more luck against reliever Vladimir Gutierrez as he held the Red, White and Blue hitless over the final 3.1 frames to record his second save and Cuba's fourth in the five-game series.

Zack Collins (Miami) paced the U.S. offensively, reaching base in three of his four plate appearances with a couple of walks and a single. Mark Mathias (Cal Poly) added a pair of singles in the contest, while Tate Matheny (Missouri State) had a base hit and Christin Stewart (Tennessee) roped a double off the left-field wall in the third inning for the game's only extra-base hit.

In relief of Funkhouser, A.J. Minter (Texas A&M) fired 1.1 scoreless frames before handing the ball over to Dillon Tate (UCSB) who pitched a scoreless eighth.

"This summer has been an experience none of us will ever forget," Van Horn said. "When things slow down a little bit, I think all of us will reflect on this experience and realize all of the friendships we have gained and what a unique opportunity we have had. I have no doubt that each and every one of these players will be better baseball players and better people as a result of the experiences we have had this summer."

  • Published in Sports

Revolutionary’s daughter to speak in Sydney

Ailí Labañino-Cardoso, 26, is the daughter of Ramon Labañino, one of the Cuban Five political prisoners held by Washington since 1998. She will be in Sydney speaking at a public event on Saturday 16 August. Her tour is organised by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and supported by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS).

Ailí Labañino-Cardoso has been politically active in the UJC (young communists) since she was a teenager and is a youth leader in Cuba. As a fighter for the freedom of the Cuban Five she has spoken at many meetings and conferences in Cuba and internationally.

“Above all, when one is convinced that what one is doing is always correct, just, and legal, that one defends a humane cause, that one has never put anybody or anything in danger, and that, on the contrary, one has sacrificed everything for the common good, for people’s lives – innocent people – then those ideas themselves lend enormous force of will and persistence against all adversity and adversaries.

The fight is just.

Victory will indeed have to be sweet.”

~Ramon Labañino, July 2, 2014

6pm, Saturday 16 August 2014
6pm Reception
7pm Speakers

CFMEU Headquarters
Level 2, 12 Railway St, Lidcombe
(close to Lidcombe train station)
Contact: Jennifer Glass 9749 0400 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on the Cuban 5 visit www.thecuban5.org

Attached below are prints of 15 prison paintings for fifteen years by CUBAN FIVE political prisoner Antonio Guerrero

“All of these images have one thing in common: they were memories of the unjust
and cruel treatment given to us since the very first day of our detention.”

View from 6pm, Saturday 16 August 2014

CFMEU Headquarters
Level 2, 12 Railway St, Lidcombe
(close to Lidcombe train station)

Contact: Jennifer Glass 9749 0400 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Who are the Cuban Five?

Ramón Labanino and his compatriots, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González are Cuban revolutionaries who, during the 1990s, were sent by the Cuban government to gather information on the plans of violent Cuban-American paramilitary groups with a long history of attacks against Cuba.

In September 1998, they were arrested by the FBI. The Five were framed and convicted of a variety of charges. Without a shred of evidence, three were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the US.

Hernández was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, based on the pretext that he bore responsibility for the Cuban government’s 1996 shootdown of two hostile aircraft that had repeatedly invaded Cuban airspace in disregard of Havana’s constant warnings. He is serving two life terms plus 15 years. His wife Adriana Pérez is barred from entering the United States.

René González was released and returned to Cuba in May 2013. Fernando González returned on February 28. The other three remain behind bars in a travesty of justice for defending Cuba against US-based anti-Cuban terrorists.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba and the complex transformation of the State Enterprise (III)

The operation of State-owned enterprises in Cuba has been developed in a very complex framework during the past five years. The burden that has taken on the budget through transfers to the business sector spent in 7 604 billion pesos in 2009 to an estimated 9 961 million in 2013, an increase of 31%.

Of this figure, the subsidy for losses rose 603 to 914 million in the same period, for an increase of 51.6%, calculated that focuses on companies of the MINAGRI, the Terminal and in the AZCUBA group of companies.

The subsidy generated other important load of public finances by difference in the prices that are paid to companies that exported or replace imports, whose margin would be lower if the production costs were reduced in the State business sector. This item rose 4 308 million pesos in 2010 to an estimated 5 614 million in 2013, for a growth of 30.3%.

Of course, a setting that allows to modify this situation must elapse gradually, unlike what has happened in good measure with the private sector and cooperative, whose high costs and profit margins have directly impacted the prices to the consumer, except in the cases of agricultural commodities, which are priced retailer controlled by the State for sale to the population.

Based on the wholesale prices for inputs from State-owned enterprises – once it goes through the elimination of exchange rate and monetary duality – should gradually reflect prices on the international market for imported inputs, and assuming internal costs and the profit margin for national productions, that trend should be cheaper.

But in this process – which will take time and great effort – not can be dispensed with a level of subsidies for retail prices that slow down the deterioration in the purchasing power of the consumer, as long as their incomes do not grow properly.

To achieve these changes at the enterprise level it will be necessary to have leaders and technicians that not only they have a greater economic culture, they can be appropriately paid based on the results of their administration. This means, at the same time, a deep change in the Organization, planning, management and control of economic activity at the level of the State-owned company.

In this sense, planning non-deterministic and flexible, allowing to cover as far as possible the margins of uncertainty is imposed and risk that all economic activity implies, by reducing the levels of centralization in non-strategic decisions, and decentralizing the current operation in the management of the company.

In that direction, the economic control mechanisms must back open to step leaving the administrative control of high cost and low efficiency, concentrating in the main targets, and not to try to control each and every one of the actions that must undertake the company in their management.

A key element for the success of the change of mentality that such processes demand is in the active presence of the group of workers in the gestation and control of the enterprise activity, which supposes an effective work of the unions in the collective analysis of the plans and the participation of the same in the control of the economic activity through the control elements of the organization, including the Councils of Government.

Special attention will require the promotion and encouragement of technological innovation at the level of enterprises, through the creation of the necessary funds for its development from own generated profits.

Logically, the transit of the current situation to an efficient Socialist undertaking will require a suitable context.

A factor of great importance for the companies – especially in the agricultural sector – will be able to count on the infrastructure necessary to develop their production. The lifting capacity of irrigation, where they have managed figures that reflect only 9% coverage compared to 34% of irrigation area in the country, is essential.

Also it is necessary to advance the development of rail transport and the capacity of electricity generation using renewable energy – especially from the sugar industry – sources, factors that would make cheaper the costs of the sector significantly. In all, the role of foreign investment will be of huge importance.

Also a review of credit policy that allow companies to obtain financial resources essential for resulting required a more flexible banking policy enabling to manage medium and long terms the indebtedness of many companies today presenting losses seems appropriate. Equally, the convenience of defining the conditions of bankruptcy of a State-owned company to apply a rational financial policy should be examined.

Finally, it would be worthwhile to highlight the universe in which today serves the State company implies a substantial change, given the presence in the domestic market of a private and cooperative sector in expansion, which not only competes with the public entity positively in areas such as tourism and gastronomy that attracts workforce with greater compensation.

All this implies the need to achieve a higher level of competitiveness in the State-owned company, and so one might think in mechanisms that include the possibility of creating joint ventures with the non-State sector – a Variant that would be perhaps more favorable than the lease of State-owned, as well as the creation of financial mechanisms that enable social participation in remittance flows that are coming into the country as capital.

Complex transformation of the State enterprise is a vital process in the redesign of the economic model of socialism in Cuba, so pay greater attention to the different steps that occur in that direction, adequately assess the necessary experiments and ensure greater participation of workers in the same is the guarantee of its successful culmination.

* The author is an advisor of the center of research of the global economy (ICES, Havana)

  • Published in Cuba

First Vice-President Heads Cuban Delegation to Venezuela

Cuba’s first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel is heading the island’s delegation that will attend the special session of the 3rd congress of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party and commemorations for the 60th birthday of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez Frias.

The commemorations take place today in Caracas.
 
The Cuban delegation is made up of foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez; the head of the Cuban Communist Party’s Foreign Relations Department  Jose Ramon Balaguer, Cuban ambassador to Venezuela Rogelio Polanco.(ACN)

  • Published in Cuba

Young Cuban Pianist Triumphs in Switzerland

Havana, Cuba.-Young Cuban pianist Jorge Luis Pacheco won second prize and the acknowledgement of the public at the recently concluded International Jazz Contest of Montreaux, Switzerland.

  • Published in Culture
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