Alicia Jrapko: “The blockade is genocidal, criminal, irrational, and immoral”

The United Nations General Assembly begins and once again the voice of Cuba will rise against the blockade imposed by the United States on this little island, but while diplomacy does its part in New York, the US people accompanies us from Washington in this fair claim to put an end to the genocide.

Alicia Jrapko, a beloved friend of Cuba, partner of our most urgent causes, talked to CubaSi via email on the Days of Action against the Blockade that the Solidarity Committee organizes in the North American capital.

Would you tell us on the main actions you plan to carry out?

“This is the fourth day against the blockade in Washington DC that our committee develops. The actions include public activities with special guests and visits to the Congress. Although last year’s event focused on healthcare and this year’s on education, the fact is that the blockade affects the daily life of an entire population”.

Why the emphasis on education?

“The goal of the events at DC is to raise awareness on the blockade of the United States, but at the same time, we want that the people reflect on some important questions, for example: why the budget priority of the US government is to increase military spending, rather than granting priority to education? And in contrast: why Cuba, a small and blocked country, gives priority to education from the day-care center to higher education? All these questions help us show the great injustice of the U.S.-Cuba policy. For example, many people are unaware that 32 million adults in the U.S. do not know how to read. And these are the official figures. However, in Cuba, since the triumph of the Revolution not a single school has been closed. Despite the economic difficulties, the blockade, Cuba’s achievements in terms of literacy and education are the admiration of the entire world. Two US graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) will accompany us and be able to bear witness to the generosity of the Cuban government for offering free education to young Americans from humble families, with the sole condition of returning to their communities and offer healthcare with a global and humanistic vision. They will also be able to talk about how the blockade affects Cubans”.

The screening of documentary “Maestra” (Teacher), by filmmaker Catherine Murphy, is part of the activities.

“One of the main events of this day, on September 26, will take place at a movie theater, where we will show two documentaries: “Maestra”, on Cuba’s Literacy Campaign in 1961, and “Lucha Sí!”, the fight for public education in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Following the screening of the documentaries, we will have a presentation chaired by the filmmakers of both films with the participation of the public, ELAM graduates and a Cuban educator who took part in the National Literacy Campaign, Norma Guillard. The other activities will be at universities, and this year we’ll also have one in a high school in Washington DC”.

Last year, the emphasis fell on Cuba’s achievements as regards health; now, on education. However, many question Cuba’s respect for human rights. What do you think?

“Regarding Cuba’s respect for human rights, my opinion is that the country that violates human rights most is the United States. The right to health, to education, to a decent dwelling are real human rights that Cuba practices with all its inhabitants. That is not the case of this country, where health and education are privileges for an elite, and entire families increasingly shelter under the bridges of the big highways, or sleep in their automobiles, should they have them. That is a real human rights violation. The topic of human rights violation is a great hypocrisy and a big lie, which actually has no valid arguments, a big manipulation from the groups interested in reversing the few positive steps that have been taken to change the U.S.-Cuba policy, something that most of the US people want, including Cuban Americans”.

Why do you continue fighting along with Cuba for the end of the blockade? What motivates you?

“As a Latin American living in United States, I think that solidarity with Cuba is fundamental. Cuba has been an example for Latin America as regards the construction of a supportive society, with very humanistic values, in contrast with consumption societies, where the material thing is the priority. Cuba has played a fundamental role in Latin American integration. I feel a lot of indignation whenever I hear the lies of the media outlets and many people who ignore Cuban reality. Cuba is a supportive country with all peoples in the world, it is the first country to offer aid before natural disasters, and it is an example of what can be done when priority is set on the basic needs of the human being. It’s not perfect, like any society, but I do know that Cubans work together every day to improve it, and that is what U.S. does not want. Cuba’s potential is huge, and if it has achieved so much even blocked, it’s unimaginable what it could have done or might do in a future without blockade. The blockade is genocidal, criminal, irrational, immoral. I live in this country since long ago and injustice hurts me greatly. I know Cuba and the troubles they face every day because of the blockade. I am convinced that what the U.S. does not forgive Cuba is to be independent and sovereign. But I can assure you that there is an increasingly large number of people in this country who love and respect Cuba”.

You are a woman who has been very close to Cuba. How would you define our country and our people?

“I define Cuba as example of a society that is built based on solidarity, and as an alternative to the capitalist world. I define the Cuban people as an educated and dignified people who fight at all costs against injustice, without giving up their principles and “without losing tenderness”. Many people from the United States go to Cuba and return enamored with its culture, its sportspeople, its urban crops, its cooperatives, the respect and affection that Cubans profess one and other. There’s no other explanation than that of a country, which dedicates its daily effort to build a society with deep humanistic values. The fight against the blockade has been very long. Soon, it will be demonstrated at UN once again that the entire world is against the blockade. I am convinced that, sooner or later, Cuba, its people and its government, accompanied by friends from all over the world, will also overcome this injustice”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

XV Solidarity Meeting with Cuba to Be Held in Spain in 2019

The unconditional and permanent support of the Spanish people to Cuba was recognized this Sunday during the presentation of the XV State Meeting of Solidarity with the Island, to be held in this capital in June of next year.

The meeting, scheduled from June 7 to 9, 2019, will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the 30th anniversary of the construction in Spain of the unitary movement of solidarity with the Caribbean country.

The permanence of the triumphant Revolution in January 1959, its values, its anti-imperialist and internationalist firmness and its achievements in all fields of human development, make it an exceptional event, he noted.

On the content of the fifteenth edition of the event, Hernandez announced that it will be dedicated to discussing, deepening and projecting essential aspects of this trajectory into the future.

Both the ambassador and the representative in Spain of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, Raimundo Pino, expressed their gratitude to the Spanish movement of solidarity with Cuba, one of the oldest in Europe and the world.

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Cuban President Wound Up Visit to UN, New York

United Nations, Sep 30 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel wound up on Sunday his busy agenda at the United Nations and New York City and flew back home.

At the UN and NYC he addressed the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, the General Assembly and held meetings with world leaders, US politicians and business people, Cuban emigrees and American friends of Cuba.

Diaz-Canel lashed out at the long standing US policy of economic, financial and trade blockade against Cuba, and criticized industrialized nations for their lack of willingness to help eradicate poverty and hunger around the world.

The Cuban Statesman also attended a high level meeting on nuclear disarmament where he stressed that stop developing, producing and proliferating nuclear weapons become imperative and called for the destruction of existing atomic arsenals.

He supported the right of Palestinians as well as Saharauis to an independent State and backed the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. He denounced so-called soft coups in South America and demanded former Brazilian President Inacio Lula Da Silva's freedom.

The Cuban dignitary asked for a halt of the war imposed on Syria and advocated for a negotiated solution of the conflict.

Diaz-Canel was welcomed at Columbia University, visited sites of historic interest in New York City like the National History Museum and the 9/11 Memorial, and paid tribute Cuban National Hero Jose Marti at the Cuban independent fighter's bronze monument.

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Caribbean Shares a Common Vision of Rejection to Blockade

United Nations, Sep 30 (Prensa Latina) The Caribbean region shares the same position of rejection against the blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba and proved this in the high level debate of the UN General Assembly.

The Foreign Minister of Dominica, Francine Baron, recalled how for many years the largest UN body has debated resolutions to end the economic and financial blockade against the island.

Despite its limitations, he said, Cuba has helped so many around the world, particularly in the areas of health and education and, sometimes, in the most difficult circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Grenadian Foreign Minister, Peter David, also expressed support for General Assembly resolution 70/5, which calls for the end of that unjust economic siege.

For his part, the Trinidad and Tobago Foreign Affairs Minister, Denis Moses, considered that in the Latin American and Caribbean region, the blockade is still the last vestige of the Cold War.

Suriname and Belize, which have coasts to the Caribbean Sea and a close link with the islands of that area, also demanded the cessation of this hostile policy that limits the development of the Cuban people.

The Surinamese Foreign Minister, Yldiz Pollack-Beigle, said his country disapproves the continuation of the economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba and its people.

According to the Foreign Minister of Belize, Wilfred Elrington, the blockade is a policy that does not make sense and constitutes a violation of international law: it sought to pressure Havana's Government, but it has had the opposite effect.

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Cuban President Extendes Talks with U.S. Businesspeople

Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, meets today in this city with businesspeople and executives of organizations linked to travel and air industries in the United States.

The meeting is included in the Caribbean head of government's busy agenda, in the context of his participation in the high-level segment of the 73th session period of the General Assembly of the United Nations, where he spoke on Wednesday this week.

According to the director general of the U.S. in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, the issue to discuss by both parts is related to the human contact between Cubans and North Americans and travel limitations.

It is technically banned for a U.S. citizen to go to Cuba as a tourist, he high official reminded reporters of his country, alluding to restrictions imposed and maintained by Washington, despite the demand to eliminate them.

Díaz-Canel dialogued yesterday with businesspeople of the agricultural sector of the U.S. and highlighted this is one of the groups that defend the most relations between both countries.

Although time is short in this visit to the U.N. General Assembly, we had a lot of interest in this meeting and transfer a message of 'peace, unity, comprehension and also summons, pointed the head of State.

Despite the measures taken by the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump, we continue open to dialogue, stressed the Cuban president.

In his opinión, the retreat in bilateral links is only related to interests of a minority that, profiting from the policy, tries to put a break to approaches.

He ratified to businessmen of the agricultural sector that Cuba has a message of dialogue, while it is base don respect, without previous conditions or impositions.

He also referred to the influence that the agricultural sector may have in the demand to put an end to blockade, taking into account how that group negotiates or shows inconformity with the blockade's restrictions.

'For us it is very important that persons like yourselves can visit Cuba, talk and exchange ideas so our truth is really known', expressed Diaz-Canel to his interlocutors.

Also on Thursday, the Cuban president exchanged points of view with members of the National Council of Churches of the United States, who ratified their rejection to the blockade.

During the meeting, Diaz-Canel recognized the long tradition of friendship between the peoples of Cuba and the United States and thanked the solidarity of that ecumenical body, reflected in multitude of moments and actions.

In his fifth day in this city, the Cuban head of State also talked with the prime ministers of Vietnam and Lesotho, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, respectively, and the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell.

He also had a meeting with UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Espinosa where both approached the importance of strengthening South-South cooperation and the commitment to multilateralism.

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Kansas Representative Exploring Ways to Trade with Cuba

A U.S. representative is seeking ways to open markets with Cuba. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, spoke with Cuba’s President earlier this week. The two discussed trade opportunities between Cuba and the U.S., a priority over the kansaslast few years for U.S. agriculture and more-so given the current trade climate.

Marshall says the U.S. “can and should be Cuba’s number one supplier of commodities like sorghum, soy, wheat, and corn.” Currently, Cuba imports roughly 80 percent of its food from Europe, Latin America and Asia. Marshall says Cuba represent a “significant opportunity” that the U.S. is missing because of “outdated and unnecessary restrictions, at a time when farm country needs new markets the most.”

Marshall supports eliminating outdated restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, and cosponsored the Cuba Trade Act, Americans Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, and the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act.

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Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania all represented in Top 10 of latest WBSC Baseball World Rankings

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today unveiled the newly updated WBSC Baseball World Rankings, which weigh a country’s National Team performance — from U-12 to Professional — in official WBSC-sanctioned international competitions over a four-year period (2015-2018).

Underscoring baseball’s growing status as a major global team sport, representatives from the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania are all present within the Top 10 of the WBSC Baseball World Rankings.

“These rankings show that baseball is being played at elite levels all around the world, including key targets like Europe and Oceania, with Africa’s development on the rise as well,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “This ongoing global growth will boost the case and excitement for baseball and softball’s long-term Olympic future beyond Tokyo 2020, looking toward Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.”

The new standings in the rankings reflect recent results and over 250 games from such events as the U-15 Baseball World Cup®, the Asian Games, the Central American and Caribbean Games, the East Asian Cup, the South American Baseball Championship, the U-18 and U-12 continental championships that were played in Asia and Europe, the U-12 Pan-Am Championship, and the Balkan Baseball Championship, in addition to international friendlies.

The United States – winner of the U-15 Baseball World Cup in David, Panama, and the U-12 Pan-Am Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico — remains atop the rankings, a position the Americas nation has held since February.

Japan, Korea and Cuba all maintained their previous positions within the Top 10, but No. 2 Japan has narrowed No. 1 USA’s lead (from 416 to 270 points) while moving further ahead of No. 3 Korea and No. 4 Cuba. Japan claimed the silver medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, earned bronze at the U-12 Asia Championship in Taipei, Taiwan, and finished fourth at the U-15 Baseball World Cup. Korea won the Asian Games and the U-18 Asia Championship, and finished in 2nd Place at the U-12 Asia Championship, but did not qualify for or earn ranking points from the U-15 Baseball World Cup.

To date, Chinese Taipei national teams have earned the most points in 2018, elevating the nation’s ranking from sixth to fifth in the world, exchanging places with Mexico. Chinese Taipei won the U-12 Asian Championship, claimed 2nd Place at the U-18 Asia Championship in Miyazaki, Japan, and earned the bronze medal at both the U-15 Baseball World Cup and Asian Games.

Europe’s top-ranked baseball nation, No. 7 Netherlands, winner of the inaugural European Super 6, advanced two places in the rankings, bypassing the now No. 8 Australia and idle/No. 9 Canada. Netherlands also finished in 8th Place at the U-15 Baseball World Cup, ahead of 9th Place Australia.

Puerto Rico – baseball gold medallists at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia – continues as the 10th ranked baseball nation in the world.

No. 11 Venezuela and No. 12 Dominican Republic remain at the critical cut-off point for qualifying into next year’s biggest and most exciting international competition, the II WBSC Premier12®, which is a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Qualifier. Baseball’s Top 12 ranked nations at the end of 2018 will compete in the global flagship Premier12, with the upcoming U-23 Baseball World Cup in Barranquilla and Monteria, Colombia, to serve as the last major opportunity to advance in the rankings.

Biggest gainers in 2018

  • No. 31 Indonesia +16
  • No. 41 Sri Lanka +11
  • No. 50 Chile +10
  • No. 58 Georgia +10
  • No. 34 Ukraine +9
  • No. 42 Ireland +9
  • No. 65 Nepal +8
  • No. 33 Philippines +7

Top teams in 2018 (most ranking points earned)

  1. Chinese Taipei: 645
  2. Japan: 636
  3. United States: 490
  4. Panama: 398
  5. Rep. of Korea: 376
  6. Cuba: 343
  7. China: 317
  8. Brazil: 287
  9. Netherlands: 261
  10. Dominican Republic: 254

The WBSC Baseball World Rankings web-based version and formula can be found at www.wbsc.org/rankings.

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State Agriculture Officials Underscore Commitment to Enhanced Trading Relationship with President of Cuba

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President and New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte, along with Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh, Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Reviczky, and NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn joined newly elected Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel for breakfast this morning on the fringes of his first visit to the US. The breakfast was an opportunity to further advance collaboration and seek to continue NASDA’s longstanding engagement with the Cuban government and people.

“We fully support enhancing agricultural trade and cooperation with Cuba, and believe the current U.S. embargo should be lifted,” said Witte. “Many state agricultural officials have existing relationships in Cuba, and we are here today to forge and enhance new partnerships between NASDA Members and Cuban officials, particularly in agriculture.”

NASDA Members underscored the need for exchanges on biotechnology research and knowledge, as well as cooperation on sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

“Over the past 55 years, Cuba has gone from our 9th largest to our 55th largest agricultural export destination. Knowledge exchanges, streamlined visa laws and regulations to promote trade activities, and a clear and consistent regulatory environment will contribute to a prosperous agricultural trading relationship for American farmers and ranchers with Cuba.”

NASDA represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government, and stakeholders.

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