President Miguel Díaz-Canel praises recovery efforts in Havana in wake of devastating tornado

A special edition of the prime TV program Mesa Redonda was aired Wednesday evening to inform public opinion about recovery efforts in Havana in the wake of severe damage caused by a devastating tornado in five municipalities: Cerro, Diez de Octubre, Guanabacoa, Regla and Habana del Este.

Participants in the special program included President Miguel Díaz-Canel, ministers, the civil defense chief, government and political authorities, as well as leaders of youth and grassroots organizations.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel was the first to speak. He again sent condolences, on behalf of the government and the people, to the families of those killed by the tornado.

He went on to explain that within minutes of the passage of the tornado, firefighters, the police and leaders of the Ministry of the Interior and Civil Defense, health workers and most importantly, the people themselves converged on the area and began to assist victims. The Cuban president stressed that the view was that of a war-zone.

The first meeting of the Council of Ministers took place in the early morning hours of Monday, January 28th at 6:00 a.m.. He emphasized that the swift response prevented further loss of human lives, since there were people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes and inside overturned buses and vehicles.

The strategy from the very beginning, said Díaz-Canel, has been, first of all, to protect human lives, assist victims, evacuate those affected, assess the damage and start the recovery work.

General Ramón Pardo Guerra, Civil Defense chief, explained that the traditional torchlight march, which Cubans hold every year on January 27th, on the eve of a new anniversary of the birth of our national hero José Martí, had been postponed due to the forecast of bad weather, and that it was not until a little after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday that the tornado had formed and was quickly traveling, hitting several Havana municipalities.

He said that within minutes, the Civil Defense began to receive reports of traffic accidents, the downing of trees, and the collapse of buildings and houses.

In roughly seven days, said the Civil Defense chief, 90% of all basic services in the affected areas had been restored, while those who lost their homes were accommodated in temporary shelters where they are provided all the necessary services.

Minister of Health Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda reported that a total of 19 health facilities sustained damage, most of them in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. He explained that the maternity hospital Hijas de Galicia, was the hardest hit, while a number of polyclinics and family-doctors’ offices were also affected.

He pointed out that despite the severe damage, by February 20th, all the affected health facilities should be up and running.

The Cuban health minister highlighted the swift response of rescue teams, health workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, the Cuban Red Cross, and the more than 5,000 medical students, whose efforts have been instrumental in assisting the victims, as well as in the evacuation of newborn babies and pregnant women from the Hijas de Galicia maternal hospital, even those who were in the intensive care unit.

Out of the 195 people wounded by the tornado, only 18 remain hospitalized, five of them in critical condition, while the devastating storm claimed six lives.

He added that out of the 196 patients, pregnant women and newborns evacuated from the Hijas de Galicia maternity hospital to other hospitals, 38 remain hospitalized. Anti-vector and other preventive actions have been stepped up to prevent epidemic outbreaks.

Minister of Domestic Trade Betsy Díaz Velázquez spoke about supply and distribution of canned food, eggs, agricultural products, and other basic items to residents in the affected areas at significantly lower prices. The domestic trade ministry, she said, is also in charge of distributing construction materials and water tanks.

Minister of Energy and Mining Raul Garcia Barreiro said that by January 28, within 24 hours of the tornado, teams of engineers and technicians from Cuba’s Unión Eléctrica had already toured the affected areas and were assessing the damage and implementing the necessary measures to prevent further loss of human life.

The minister of telecommunications reported that all services, landlines, cellphones and WiFi areas were seriously affected, particularly in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. Thanks to the coordinated effort of the sector’s workers, including teams from other provinces, from Ciego de Ávila to Pinar del Rio, nearly 100% of all affected services, including radio communications, have been restored.

René Mesa, Minister of Construction, explained that a total of 4,812 houses were damaged, 505 of them were total collapses. He said that the State will take care of building new homes for those who lost theirs, while more than 900 families, whose houses suffered other damage, have already received construction materials to repair them.

Meanwhile, Reinaldo García, government president in Havana, spoke about donations received for the victims, as gestures of solidarity from Cubans on the island and people around the world.

He explained that authorities have set up 28 points to collect donations, which are organized to help those who need it most. He thanked Cubans and friends of Cuba all over the world for the countless demonstrations of solidarity with the tornado victims.

Raúl Alejandro Palmero, president of the Federation of University Students (FEU), spoke about the support of students in recovery efforts.

The youth leader explained that more than 10 thousand students have been involved, visiting and accompanying those affected by the tornado, collecting and distributing donations, cleaning the streets and repairing family homes. “These are the same students who marched alongside our government leaders in homage to our National Hero José Martí,” he said.

At the end of the special TV program, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke about the slander campaigns against Cuba in the mainstream media. He emphasized that the enemies of Cuba and our Revolution are trying to divide us, discrediting every effort toward full recovery. He stressed that the recovery works will continue for as long as necessary and that, as always, no one will be left behind. He thanked all those who inside and outside of Cuba have showed their solidarity with the victims and the Cuban people in general.

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Cuba Denounces Program to Stimulate its Doctors' Brain Drain

Havana, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel denounced Saturday attempts to impose the Cuban Medical Parole Program, established by the U.S. government of George W. Bush (2001-2009) and repealed by that of Barack Obama (2009-2017).

'They are trying to impose a perverse resource to stimulate brain drain. One more anti-Cuban campaign, which reveals imperial impotence in the face of revolutionary conquests. Its promoters cannot favor a civilized relationship, they are blinded by the arrogance #SomosCuba', wrote the Head of State in his Twitter @DiazCanelB.

Cuban-origin senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez introduced a resource in Congress last Thursday to demand the current administration re-establish the brain drain program aimed at health professionals working on medical missions abroad.

Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, US general director of Cuba's foreign ministry, posted on Twitter on Friday that powerless resentment against Cuba has no limits.

Uncapable of hindering recognized human professional development, baseball quality and potential investment. Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio want to restore a brain drain program against Cuban doctors', the diplomat wrote in his Twitter @Carlos FdeCossio.

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Miguel Diaz-Canel praises Jose Ramon Fernandez´s legacy

Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, paid tribute today via social networks to Jose Ramon Fernandez, one of the most notable men of the Revolution.

In his words, the Cuban head of state said Jose Ramon Fernandez was a pure man, one of those soldiers who chose being in jail rather than serving a tyrant, apropos of his passing away yesterday morning.

Diaz-Canel said farewell in his Twitter profile to the Hero of Bay of Pigs, teacher of Teachers, and the minister who revolutionized the Cuban educational system.

In another tweet, the head of state also confirmed that the sovereignty of our people is settled in the approach regarding Venezuela.

Likewise, he stated that backing up the legit right of the sister nation to decide its own future is to defend the dignity of all of us.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuban President Congratulates the Nation

Havana, Dec. 31 (PL) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel congratulated the people of the island on the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

'There are only hours left before the 60th anniversary of the revolutionary victory. Congratulations,' he wrote in Twitter. Besides, he highlighted that on December 10 Yeyé (fighter Haydée Santamaria) was born, the city of Santa Clara was liberated and 'Cuban mambises of the twentieth century' reached the gates of Santiago de Cuba.

In another Sunday message on the social network, the president shared with Internet users who saw Cuban film Inocencia in family, related to the firing on November 27, 1871, of eight innocent students of medicine by the Spanish colonial rulers.

'We watched as a family the film 'Inocencia' (Innocense), by Alejandro Gil, a very painful chapter in our history. Let us never forget that as well as heroes abound, there others badly born in Cuba, who can be worse than the enemy attacking it. Long Live, Cuba, always free!!!', he stressed.

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Díaz-Canel: ALBA-TCP Summit in Havana ratifies Cuban

This Friday's celebration of the XVI ALBA-TCP Summit will be an opportunity to ratify Cuba's will to integrate Latin America in solidarity, said Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of the Councils of State and Ministers on Twitter.

The president said on the social network that Havana will dawn tomorrow hosting the XVI ALBA-TCP Summit on the 14th anniversary of its founding by Commanders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. We ratify our will to consolidate Latin American and Caribbean integration.

At the meeting, whose heads of delegations will begin to arrive tonight, high-level representatives of the 10 nations that make up this integration mechanism have announced their participation along with other invited countries and observers.

During the meeting, the member countries of the Alliance will discuss the commitment to Latin American and Caribbean unity and the need to strengthen unity in diversity.

The program released to the press indicates that it will also commemorate the 14th anniversary of the foundation of this platform that has promoted cooperation projects such as Miracle Mission, the Cultural Fund of Alba, the Latin American School of Medicine, the multinational Telesur and SUCRE, currency issued by the Bank of Alba in order to assess trade and financial exchanges between countries in the region.

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ETECSA broadens its services. Full Internet access for mobile phones

People in Cuba will soon be able to access the internet from their mobile phones for the first time after the government announced it would launch a 3G service.

The president of the state telecoms company, Mayra Arevich, announced on television on Tuesday evening that the long-awaited service would begin on Thursday.

The 3G mobile service will open up the net to browsing in many more places across the island. The data packages available from the state-run company range from 600 megabytes for 7 CUC to 4 gigabytes for about 30 CUC.

These prices are broadly in line with what is available in other countries.

ETECSA vice-president Tania Velazquez said the company would be rolling out the service over several days to avoid the network congestion that occurred during mobile Internet testing earlier this year.

Ms Velazquez announced that access to state-run applications and websites like Ecured, a Cuban Wikipedia, would be significantly cheaper than access to the World Wide Web.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Mr Raul Castro in April, has championed greater connectivity, underscoring the potential for the Internet to boost the economy and enable Cuba to better defend its revolution online.


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Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez agreed with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel to deepen bilateral political ties on Thursday, at the start of the first official visit by a Spanish leader to the Caribbean island in three decades.

The two leaders signed an agreement instituting annual high-level political dialogue meetings between Spain and Cuba, touching on an array of topics including human rights.

Relations between Cuba and the European Union have steadily improved since being formally relaunched in 2016 after a two-decade chill, even as they have festered between the island and the United States (US).

This is the first official visit by a Spanish Prime Minister since that of Sanchez’s fellow social democrat Felipe Gonzalez in 1986. Spain is Cuba’s third largest trading partner and maintains strong cultural ties with its former colony.

Sanchez and Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Raul Castro as president in April, also agreed to increase cultural cooperation on Thursday, after holding talks in Havana’s Revolution Palace.

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Sanchez, who is travelling with executives from two dozen companies, will on Friday morning inaugurate a Spanish-Cuban business forum in a hotel that the administration of US President Donald Trump recently added to a list of places banned to US travellers.

Spanish-Cuban annual bilateral commerce is already around $1.3 billion, according to Cuban data. The tourism sector is dominated by alliances between Spanish hotel chains and Cuban companies.

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Cuban President confirms new North Korean ambassador in Havana ceremony

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Wednesday accepted the credentials of incoming North Korean ambassador Ma Chol Su in a ceremony in Havana, local state news outlet Prensa Latina reported.

Ma, who was appointed to the position of ambassador to Cuba by the DPRK’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly last month, replaces Pak Chang Yul.

The new ambassador begins work just weeks after a landmark summit between the two countries earlier in the month – the first of its kind in over 30 years.

That meeting saw the Cuban President and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un reaffirm the two countries’ “special friendship” and agree to expand scientific and economic cooperation.

Ma has extensive experience in working with North Korea’s longtime allies and as a liaison between Pyongyang and other sympathetic nations and individuals.

2017 saw Ma visit Cambodia in his capacity as a Workers’ Party official responsible for international affairs, where he met with Prince Norodom Ranariddh and discussed building ties between their two political parties.

An ambassador to Vietnam from 2006-10, he most recently served as Secretary-General of the DPRK-Japan Friendship Association, overseeing sports exchanges between the two countries and a visit in 2014 by former professional wrestler and current member of Japan’s House of Councillors Antonio Inoki.

His appointment as ambassador sees him take over responsibility for one of North Korea’s most important diplomatic relationships, with the embassy in Havana reportedly critical in conducting arms deals and other illicit transactions between the two, including in the now-notorious Chong Chon Gang incident.

It also comes as Pyongyang seeks to improve ties in the region, with the country’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam set to visit the region this week.

North Korean state media on Sunday reported that Kim, who serves as President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would soon pay an official visit to Cuba and to Venezuela, as well as attend the inauguration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Saturday.

Kim was spotted by South Korean press at Beijing Capital Airport on Tuesday, presumed to en route to Latin America.

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