Cuban leader congratulates Putin on winning presidential election

Cuban leader Raul Castro has congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the presidential election, Cuba’s Ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal said.

"Raul Castro has conveyed his warm congratulations to Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin on his convincing election win on Sunday," the ambassador wrote on Twitter.

According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, incumbent head of state Vladimir Putin has garnered 76.56% of the vote with 95% of the ballots counted.

Director of the Lenin State Farm Pavel Grudinin, nominated by the Communist Party of Russia, is second with 11.92%, while leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky is third with 5.77%.

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Raúl, the first to vote

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, exercised his right to vote in a polling station located in the Santiago municipality of II Frente Oriental Frank País (Frank País Second Eastern Front)

SEGUNDO FRENTE. – With just a few minutes to go before the clock struck seven this Sunday morning, Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz arrived to vote in polling station 1, constituency 11, located in the Paquito Rosales Benítez School of the Santiago municipality of Segundo Frente.

Alongside other voters who had gathered early to exercise their right to vote, Raúl participated in the opening ceremony of the polling station, during which the Cuban flag was raised, the notes of the National Anthem were sung, the oath that governs the work of electoral authorities was read and the two ballot boxes were shown to be empty before sealing.

Raúl was the first to vote, followed by the First Secretary of the Party in Santiago de Cuba, Lázaro Expósito Canto. The Cuban President conversed with the electoral authorities and the two school girls who watched over the ballot boxes.

On exiting the polling station, Raúl shared anecdotes with residents regarding the founding of the Frank País Second Eastern Front (which this municipality is named after), and said it was a pleasure to have voted alongside them.

The municipality for which the Army General was a candidate to the National Assembly of People’s Power has a total population of around 40,000, divided into 79 electoral constituencies. A total of 114 polling stations were installed here.

This election day took on a special significance in this mountainous territory, as it occurred precisely on the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Frank País Second Front, under the command of the then Comandante Raúl Castro Ruz.

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Cuba Supports Venezuela against Economic Attack and Military Threat

During the 15th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP), Cuban President Raul Castro reiterated the support for Venezuela given the economic attack and military threat staged by the United States.

In his speech, Raul Castro said that ALBA-TCP has as strategic task the defense of Venezuela against the neoliberal attack, the interference against national sovereignty and the threats that these actions pose against the peace and security in the region.

Raul rejected attempts to undermine the progress in regional integration, as well as the methods of unconventional warfare used by the United States since 1999, the year in which the Bolivarian Revolution came to power, to defeat Venezuela, 'a country with wealth coveted by the imperial powers'.

Raul also criticized the decision of Donald Trump's Government to renew the executive order declaring Venezuela 'unusual and extraordinary threat to national security and the foreign policy of the United States.'

He denounced the intention of Trump's administration to use the Monroe Doctrine, the most notorious instrument of interventionism by U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

'The threats against peace and stability in Venezuela are also threats to Latin America,' said Raul, who condemned the unilateral measures and interference against the Bolivarian process, seeking to destroy peace and dialogue among Venezuelans and trigger destabilization and hardships to the population in this country.

Raul Castro criticized the actions to exclude President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro from the Summit of the Organization of American States, set for April in Lima, Peru.

He said that the economic attacks and military threats against Venezuela violate the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed at the second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States held in Havana.

He called for strengthening the process of integration among the countries in the region, and reiterated Cuba's support for the legacy of leader of the Bolivarian Revolution Hugo Chavez.

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Raul Castro celebrates Cuban independence, honors revolutionary leaders

Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday commemorated the 123rd anniversary of Cuba's War of Independence from Spain, and decorated three of the most senior leaders of the 1959 Revolution.

At a ceremony held in Havana's Capitol building, home of the National Assembly, Castro recalled the day national hero Jose Marti relaunched the independence struggle on Feb. 24, 1895, which eventually freed Cuba from Spanish rule.

In a rare speech, Castro highlighted Marti's determination. In the face of what seemed like insurmountable setbacks, he found alternatives and rallied people together.

"Marti appealed to national unity, articulated the best traditions of the past, without leaving out any of those who were willing to sacrifice and give their lives for a greater cause," Castro said.

Castro also bestowed the title of "Work Hero of the Republic" on three revolutionary veterans who fought alongside Fidel Castro and himself to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista: Jose Ramon Machado, current second secretary of the Communist Party, and commanders of the revolution Ramiro Valdes and Guillermo Garcia.

"As a common characteristic of these three liberators of our time, I can cite their loyalty to the revolution and Fidel, their dedication to work, modesty and humility, which have made them worthy of the recognition and the respect of Cubans," Castro said.

Valdes, 85, and Garcia, 90, are the only revolutionary commanders still alive today. Machado, 87, served as the country's first vice president between 2008 and 2013.

All three were previously honored with "Hero of the Republic," the highest praise awarded by the Cuban government.

On Saturday, Castro, 86, was initially set to hand over the presidency to a new leader, but the National Assembly extended his term by almost two months after general elections were pushed back due to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Irma late last year.

Elections are set to take place on March 11 to choose more than 600 national lawmakers. The new parliament will then convene on April 19 to vote for a new Council of State, including its president.

In December, Castro reiterated his intention to hand over the presidency in April.

"When the National Assembly is constituted, I will have finished my second and last term leading the state and the government, and Cuba will have a new president," Castro said in a speech to lawmakers.

Castro will remain first secretary of the ruling Cuban Communist Party until the organization's next Congress in 2021.

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Cuban President Visits National Military Company

Cuban President Raul Castro visited an industrial military enterprise in the western province of Mayabeque, as well as a military school on that territory, according to national media.

During his tour, the head of State learned about the main items made in that industry, which are used for the maintenance, repair and modernization of military technology, as well as in several sectors of the national economy.

The Cuban president inspected some of the 18 units that are part of the complex, and checked their modern equipment.

He visited the factory of printed circuits, where lighting systems for the state sector and the domestic market are produced; and the optics production center, where metal roof tiles are manufactured to cover houses. These pieces have been highly demanded since Hurricane Irma hit the country.

At the Camilo Cienfuegos military school in Mayabeque, Raúl Castro spoke with students who were taking classes at specialized laboratories. The educational institute trains about 600 young students from Mayabeque and Havana provinces, as well as from the special municipality Isla de la Juventud.

Raul was accompanied by the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, José Ramón Machado; Cuban First Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel; and the minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Leopoldo Cintra, among other leaders.

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Raul Castro Welcomes Namibian Prime Minister

Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed on Thursday in Havana Namibian Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who is on an official visit to Cuba.

In a friendly atmosphere, both leaders exchanged on the excellent relations between both governments and peoples and ratified the mutual commitment in working in strengthening the existing relations.

Both Heads of States also discussed on the different issues of the international scenario.

The Namibian delegation included the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Peya Mushelenga and the African nation’s ambassador to Cuba Jerobeam Shaanika.

The Cuban delegation included First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and the Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca and the First Vice President of the Foreign Ministry Marcelino Medina Gonzalez.

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President Raul Castro chairs unveiling of Jose Marti's sculpture brought from NY

Cuban President Raul Castro unveiled here on Sunday a sculpture of Cuban national hero, Jose Marti, a replica of the original one located in New York's Central Park.

Castro was accompanied by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, other local government and political officials, as well representatives of New York's city government, among other invited American personalities.

In the speech, Havana's official historian, Eusebio Leal, stressed that this statue is an absolute copy in every detail of the original work by the American artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, which was finished in 1958.

The famous sculptor made it at the request of the Cuban government of the time as a gift to the U.S. However, due to political differences, the sculpture was not inaugurated until 1965. It now stands close to statues of other Latin American heroes, Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin in the Central Park.

Joseph Mizzi, Chairman of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, stressed the honour he felt at attending the ceremony on behalf of his colleagues.

Mizzi defined the event as a great gesture for the peoples of Cuba and the U.S., and expressed his gratitude at the donations received by over a hundred people for the realization of the project.

"We have shared with friends, close and far, the idea of bringing to Havana an exact replica of Jose Marti's statue in New York, which is our homage to one of the greatest Latin American intellectuals," he said.

The original sculpture is the only one known to date, depicting the figure of Marti at the time of his fall in action at the battle of Dos Rios on May 19, 1895 in eastern Cuba.

It is based on a missing painting by the Cuban painter Esteban Valderrama and weighs three tons, stands 5.67 meters tall, and made in bronze, with a black marble pedestal.

Marti was born on January 28, 1853 and struggled from a young age to free Cuba from Spanish colonialism, until his death in battle at the age of 42.

The 165th anniversary of his birth has been marked with several celebrations this week throughout the country.

The sculpture of Jose Marti is seen during the unveiling ceremony in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 28, 2018. Cuban President Raul Castro unveiled here on Sunday a sculpture of Cuban national hero, Jose Marti, a replica of the original one located in New York's Central Park.

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Cuban President Raúl Castro Calls for Greater Caribbean Unity and Integration

Saint Mary's, December 8 (RHC/Prensa Latina)-- President Raul Castro called Friday for unity in diversity, integration and genuine cooperation among Caribbean states to face common challenges and problems of the region and the world.

During a speech at the 6th Cuba-CARICOM Summit, Raul Castro also warned of the dangers looming over humanity. “How can we face the challenge of moving towards development in the midst of the deep economic, social, political and environmental crisis besieging this hemisphere and the world,” he asked.

The dangers for survival of the human species increase, noted Raul, adding that concepts not universally accepted, like 'humanitarian intervention' and 'responsibility to protect,' are being used to disguise interventions and aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security.

Situations like this, said the Cuban president, point to the need for the upholding of international law and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.'

Raúl Castro said Caribbean countries should come together in demanding fair action by industrial nations in order to mitigate and deal with the effects of climate change, particularly by providing financial resources and the transfer of technology.

“I reiterate Cuba's invariable position of supporting, in all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment,” said Raul.

He noted that Caribbean nations should agree on how to address the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and, especially, how to collectively face the mechanisms of domination imposed by an unjust international financial system.

In his address before leaders of the 14 member-nations of CARICOM, President Raul Castro renewed Cuba's determination to consolidate ties with its neighbors.

“We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. There are 5,640 young people of the Caribbean who have completed training in Cuba, and 695 others currently study in Cuban universities, he stressed.

Raul Castro also said there are more than 1,700 Cuban experts working in cooperation programs in the CARICOM countries, over 1,400 of whom are health specialists.

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
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