Cuban National Hero inducted to New York Writers Hall of Fame

Jose Marti, Cuba´s National Hero, was included as new member of the New York Writers Hall of Fame in recognition to his work as poet, essayist, journalist and politician.

Thus, the Cuban creator became the second Hispanic writer to enter the exclusive room, after the Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos did it in 2011, according to Cubadebate website.

The proposal was promoted in recent times by Esther Allen, a Marti scholar and translator, and the Cuban-American historian Ada Ferrer, of New York University, both scholars and promoters of his work.

The induction to the select group took place during a ceremony, in which Ferrer and Lisandro Perez, a Cuban American sociologist and professor at John Jay College, were in charge of the opening speeches.

The New York Writers Hall of Fame is a project of the Empire State Center for the Book that annually grants membership to several writers, living or dead, who have marked the cultural history of that great city.

Some of the most famous members are Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Washington Irving, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Mary McCarthy, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, among others.

This year, along with Marti, five other writers were inducted, two of them also deceased: Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) who wrote many well-known songs with her brother George Gershwin; and E.L. Konigsburg (1930-2013), author of books for children.

The other three authors are the historian and journalist Russell Shorto (1959), Pulitzer Prize-winner novelist Colson Whitehead (1969) and Jacqueline Woodson (1963), current United States Ambassador for Young People´s Literature.

  • Published in Cuba

Badass racoon scales 23 storey building, becomes internet superstar

We have a new hero...

Remember the Parisian Spider-Man that scaled an apartment building a few weeks back, in order to save a stranded four year old?

Well, if he ever needs a cute animal sidekick, we’ve got him covered.

On Tuesday, a daredevil racoon found itself stuck on a ledge beneath the UBS building in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The animal had been stuck there for two days, without any food or water. It had reportedly been on a different, smaller building and had been removed by pest control officers - but then fled to the much, much taller UBS Building.

And because it’s just a dumb – if incredibly cute – animal, it eventually thought the best thing to do was just climb up.

Wild life experts advised authorities not to get to close to the racoon, as their presence could startle it and cause it to leap from the building. The fire department also stated that they couldn't risk the life of a fire fighter to rescue a racoon, no matter how much Twitter cared about it.

  • Published in World

MIKE POWELL LOANS TOKYO 91 WORLD RECORD VEST AND NUMBER TO IAAF HERITAGE EXHIBITION IN OSTRAVA

Long jump world record holder Mike Powell today visited the IAAF Heritage World / Continental Cup - 1977 To 2018 – Exhibition in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The exhibition, which is located in the Forum Nova Karolina Shopping Centre in the centre of the city, was launched on 5 June. It is open seven days a week for the next three months closing on Sunday 9 September, the last day of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 competition.

Mike Powell, the two-time world long jump champion, who is the IAAF Continental Cup Team Americas Ambassador, could not be here for the opening ceremony but made the trip ‘over the pond’ in the last weekend ahead of tomorrow’s Golden Spike IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava.

This afternoon, Powell officially handed over to Valter Bocek, Chief Executive Officer of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018, the USA team vest and competition numbers which he wore at the IAAF World Championships Tokyo 1991.

Mike Powell with Valter Boček, CEO of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 (Pavel Lebeda)Mike Powell with Valter Boček, CEO of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 (Pavel Lebeda) © Copyright

On 30 August 1991, in a fantastic head-to-head long jump duel with fellow American Carl Lewis, Powell’s fifth round 8.95m took the gold, breaking the world record which had been set by the legendary Bob Beamon in the Mexico Olympic Games almost 23 years earlier. In 2018, some 27 years since Toyko, Powell’s leap remains the world record.

“It’s gives me great pleasure to be here in Ostrava and to loan my Tokyo competition top and numbers for public display at the IAAF Heritage Exhibition to help tell the story of our sport’s wonderful history,” said Powell. “I look forward to returning to the city in September for the Continental Cup where I’ll act as captain for Team Americas. This is going to be fun!”

On show in the exhibition along with the bib is a signed copy of the 9 September 1991 edition of Sports Illustrated, the front cover of which has an image of Powell in-flight moments prior to setting the record.

The IAAF Heritage World / Continental Cup – 1977 to 2018 – Exhibition is kindly supported by the International Athletics Foundation, ASICS, Seiko, TDK and Mondo and is delivered by IAAF Heritage along with the Czech Athletics Federation and the LOC of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018.

IAAF

  • Published in Sports

The United States accepts that they do not know the explanation, nature or cause of the health problems reported by its diplomats

On May 29, 2018, the Embassy of the United States in Havana informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba that, on May 27, an official of that Embassy had reported health symptoms as a result of “undefined sounds” in her place of residence.

 Immediately, the Cuban Government gave top priority to the matter and officially requested the Diplomatic Mission of the United States that specialized medical doctors and investigators respectively, could interview said official. 

The thorough and urgent investigation carried out in the residence premises found no indication of any kind of sound capable of causing health damages. 

As in the cases reported before, the Cuban authorities and specialists have had no access to the official.

Cuba has reaffirmed publicly and officially its willingness to cooperate in earnest in the joint search for answers, the elucidation and solution to the alleged facts.  

After more than a year of research by the specialized agencies and experts from Cuba and the United States, it is confirmed that there is no credible hypothesis or conclusions adhered to science that justify the actions taken by the government of the United States against Cuba to the detriment of the bilateral relationship and with obvious political motivations. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also taken note of the announcement made by the Secretary of State, on the past June 5, about the establishment of a Joint Task Force to respond to what he characterized as "unexplained health incidents to the personnel stationed overseas", specifically in Cuba and the People’s Republic of China.  

The announcement states verbatim that “the precise nature of the injuries suffered by the affected personnel, and whether a common cause exists for all cases, has not yet been established”.  
Guarantying the health and security of Cubans and foreign citizens, has been, is and will be a priority that distinguishes the Cuban nation.  It is widely known that the Government rigorously complies with its responsibilities in the attention and protection of the Diplomatic Corps. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates that no evidence whatsoever has been presented of the alleged incidents and maintains its unwavering commitment to cooperate with the authorities from the United States to achieve the elucidation of this situation and the best medical attention to the persons concerned. 

Cuba is and will continue to be a safe, stable and attractive country.

Havana, June 10, 2018.

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'Incoherent and inconsistent' France hits out at ‘angry’ Trump as US pulls out of G7 pact

Mr Trump, who initially appeared ready to endorse the communique, pulled out after firing off a series of angry tweets aimed at Canadian premier Justin Trudeau.

But a French official insisted France and its fellow G7 European nations were maintaining their support communique and said anyone departing from the commitments made at the summit would be showing their "incoherence and inconsistency”.

He said: "International co-operation cannot depend on being angry and on sound bites. Let's be serious.”

The official hit out after Mr Trump's backed out of the statement drawn up at the Quebec summit, wrecking any attempts for elite group’s efforts to show a united front.

The US President’s announcement, made after he left the summit in Canada early, torpedoed what appeared to be a fragile consensus on the trade dispute between Washington and its allies.

And he made no secret of who he held responsible for his decision to withdraw support.

Mr Trump tweeted: "PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, 'US Tariffs were kind of insulting' and he 'will not be pushed around.'

“Very dishonest and weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270 percent on dairy!" the U.S. president tweeted.

Mr Trump had already left the summit when Mr Trudeau announced retaliatory measures Canada would take next month in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Mr Trudeau said: ”Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable but we also will not be pushed around.”

Reacting to Mr Trump's tweets, Mr Trudeau's office said: "We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the summit.

“The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn't said before - both in public, and in private conversations with the President."

Mr Trump's salvo capped a rollecoaster two days of controversies that began with his suggestion Russia be readmitted to the G7, then what a French official described as a "rant" full of "recriminations" against US trading partners, followed by a denial of any tensions with leaders at the summit and his description of their relationship as a "10."

But by ordering his representatives to back out of the communique, Mr Trump appeared to be asserting his oft-stated aim of upsetting the status quo whether by pulling out of the global climate accord or the international nuclear deal with Iran or threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  • Published in World

Cuba positions itself as attractive destination for cruisers

A growing number of cruise companies already include Cuba in their routes. Traveling to the Caribbean island with their luxury, large passenger ships is a sign of the increasing and positive image of our country as a safe destination.

Seventeen companies with twenty five cruisers are operating in Cuba. At the end of last tourist season, more than five hundred thousand visitors had visited the island, which meant a 67% increase from the previous year.

According to the minister of Tourism of Cuba Manuel Marrero, new and exclusive cruisers should start its operations this year with seven hundred thousand tourists expected.

Last February, the luxury American cruise company Regent Seven Seas Cruises —sole US cruise company with granted permission to offer voyage to Cuba— announced more trips to the Caribbean destination in 2019 and 2020.

Carnival Cruise also added 23 voyages to the Caribbean with some stopovers in Cuba 2019-2020.

Cuba’s main ports are located in Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, and Cayo Largo del Sur, with international arrivals and departures. Meanwhile, other locations like Casilda, Antillas, Puerto Frances, and Maria la Gorda serve as stopovers.

Recently, it was spread the news that a new investment program to augment the two cruise terminals in Havana to a total of six in 2024 is being set into motion.

The management of these terminals will be in charge of the Cuban firm Aries and world’s major cruiser operator Global Ports Holding.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba trade pushed in D.C.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford's legislation easing trade restrictions with Cuba could pass the House of Representatives if lawmakers were allowed to vote on it, a fellow congressman said Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who wants to end the Cuban embargo, has lined up 14 Republican co-sponsors for his legislation. But Crawford's bill, which focuses on agricultural trade, has 42 Republican co-sponsors, Emmer noted.

Known as the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, H.R. 525 would allow farmers to extend credit to customers in Cuba. It would also enable Americans to invest in nongovernmental agricultural enterprises there.

"We've got great bipartisan support. There's a majority of the people that actually favor changing this policy. Unfortunately, a very small group within Congress still has the loudest voice. We're trying to change that," Emmer said.

"I think Rick's [legislation] is actually possible today. ... I think now is the time," Emmer said. "The question is whether our leadership will have the political will, in light of all the other things that are going on, to help us move it forward."

Emmer made his comments Thursday at a Cuba trade roundtable titled "Fostering Bilateral Agricultural and Economic Capabilities."

He was joined by Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., were also panelists.

The event was held at the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery. Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and groups that wants the embargo lifted, also participated.

After the end of the Cuban revolution and the rise to power of Fidel Castro in 1959, relations between the U.S. and its southern neighbor quickly soured.

The United States placed a number of economic sanctions on Cuba, the toughest coming in 1962. Many of the restrictions remain in place today, more than 18 months after Castro's death. The revolutionary's political successor, Raul Castro, stepped down as president in April after a decade in office.

Since his election to Congress in 2010, Crawford has worked to remove barriers that hamper Arkansas' rice and poultry producers.

Arkansas' 1st Congressional District, which Crawford represents, grows more rice than any other district in the country.

"What I've encouraged people to do is call your representative, call your congressman and congresswoman, your senator and let them know how you feel about this," he said.

Crawford has faced strong opposition from some members of Florida's congressional delegation; more than 1.3 million people of Cuban descent live in the Sunshine State, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center.

If there's a groundswell of support for easing trade restrictions, Crawford predicted lawmakers will listen to the voters.

"I just think the other 49 states ought to have a voice in this as well," he said.

Boozman, who is co-sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, said trade would be good for Arkansas' economy.

"We're talking about many, many millions of dollars in increased sales. It's a no-brainer in that regard," the lawmaker from Rogers said.

Individuals and businesses who extend credit to Cuba would bear the risk, he said.

"The legislation we're proposing doesn't obligate the United States government at all. Taxpayers aren't on the hook," he said.

Emmer faulted the White House, in part, for the lack of movement.

"I think the administration so far has been on the wrong side of history on this issue," he said.

Marshall said lawmakers should try to round up more co-sponsors, and argued that eliminating trade barriers benefits everybody.

"It's a win for the president. It's a win for agriculture. It's a win for the United States. It's a win for Cuba," he added.

Jose Ramon Cabanas, Cuba's ambassador to the United States, was on hand for Thursday's event.

Afterward, he said his country would welcome increased trade with Arkansas.

"We eat a lot of rice and poultry. Those are probably among the most important commodities that we import," he said.

Cabanas said he has a good relationship with Boozman and Crawford.

"They're always accessible and the door is open any time we go to their offices," he said.

Both lawmakers have been to Cuba. It's a trip, Cabanas said, he hopes other Arkansans will consider.

"Most people traveling to Cuba these days will tell you they have a good time," he said.

The U.S. and Cuba, Cabanas said, would benefit from better relations.

"We have many, many differences and we will have them for many years and probably forever," he said. "At the same time we have been able, in the last two or three years, to find common ground on many subjects. And that's where we should be focusing."

  • Published in Cuba

Why African-American Doctors Are Choosing to Study Medicine in Cuba

In the countryside of western Havana, during the fall, rickety yellow buses carry first-year medical students from the Latin American School of Medicine. Wearing short-sleeved white smocks and stethoscopes, they go door to door, doing rounds, often speaking to their patients in broken Spanish. “Even people whose houses I wasn’t visiting sometimes would ask me to take their blood pressure, because they just saw me in the street,” Nimeka Phillip, an American who graduated from the school in 2015, told me.

The Latin American School of Medicine, or E.L.A.M., was established by the Cuban government, in 1999, after a series of natural disasters, including Hurricane Mitch, left vulnerable populations in Central America and the Caribbean in dire need of health care. This year, in the aftermath of hurricane season, hundreds of Cuban health workers, many of them E.L.A.M. graduates, will travel to some of the hardest-hit areas of the Atlantic to treat the injured and sick. All of the students who attend E.L.A.M. are international. Many come from Asia, Africa, and the United States. The school’s mission is to recruit students from low-income and marginalized communities, where they are encouraged to return, after they graduate, to practice medicine.

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In the U.S., black and Latino students represent approximately six per cent of medical-school graduates each year. By contrast, nearly half of E.L.A.M.’s American graduates are black, and a third are Latino. “You would never see those numbers” in the U.S., Melissa Barber, another American E.L.A.M. graduate, told me.

Barber is a program coördinator at the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, in Harlem, which recruits American students for E.L.A.M. Applicants with college-level science backgrounds and the requisite G.P.A. go through an interview process with the organization. Those who make the cut are then recommended to E.L.A.M. The school accepted its first American applicants in 2001, a year after a delegation from the Congressional Black Caucus, whose leadership included Representatives Bennie Thompson and Barbara Lee, travelled to Cuba and held talks with the Ministry of Education about the need for doctors in rural black communities, and the financial obstacles that make it difficult for low-income and minority students to enroll in American medical schools. While some nations pay for their students to attend E.L.A.M., Fidel Castro decided that Americans, like Haitians and students from poor African countries, should attend for free.

Since 1987, no more than six per cent of medical students in the U.S. each year have come from families with poverty-level incomes. Meanwhile, the cost of medical school has skyrocketed; the median student debt for the class of 2016 was a hundred and ninety thousand dollars. Phillip, a first-generation college graduate, worked multiple jobs and took out loans to pay for her undergraduate degrees in public health and integrative biology, at the University of California, Berkeley. She hoped to study “stress- and poverty-related illness” in medical school, she told me, but the cost of tuition, along with the pressure that would come from being one of the few minority students in her class, discouraged her from applying.

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After she graduated, she came across an online listing for an I.F.C.O. event in San Jose, while researching alternatives to medical school. At the event, there were a number of E.L.A.M. graduates who offered testimonials, but she remembered being moved by Luther Castillo’s story in particular. After graduating from E.L.A.M., Castillo returned to his Afro-indigenous village, in Honduras, and built the area’s first free, community-run hospital. Phillip was impressed by his story, and by E.L.A.M.’s philosophy of offering a free education for students who pledged to practice medicine in low-income, medically underserved areas. After she applied and was accepted, she braced herself for her six-year odyssey in Cuba.

The child-mortality rate in Cuba is lower than it is in the U.S., and life expectancy in both countries is about the same, even though per-capita health-care spending in the United States is the highest in the world. In a certain way, Cuba has America to thank for this. The U.S.-imposed embargo and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to an increase in the cost of medical supplies; facing a crisis, the Cuban government turned its attention to preventative care, seeking to eliminate much of the need for surgeries and expensive procedures by early detection.

The vast majority of Cuba’s medical students go into primary care. Many of them take up posts in consultorios—doctor-and-nurse teams that live in the neighborhoods in which they practice. In the United States, more and more graduates are choosing specialties—cardiology, radiology, urology—over primary care, which pays less. Besides driving up the cost of medical education, this has also exacerbated physician shortages in rural parts of the country. Today, sixty-four million Americans live in areas where there is only one primary-care physician for every three thousand people. By 2030, according to a study commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will be short at least forty thousand doctors, and perhaps as many as a hundred thousand.

Medicare and Medicaid programs support residency trainings, and the National Health Service Corps awards grants and loans to medical students in exchange for service in needier regions. But, in 2016, only two hundred and thirteen students received an N.H.S.C. scholarship. According to Congresswoman Karen Bass, of California, a supporter of E.L.A.M., funding is the main problem—particularly under the current Presidential Administration. Trump’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year will cut funding for graduate medical education by forty-eight billion dollars. It is “embarrassing,” Bass said, that “Cuba educates our students for free.”

E.L.A.M. offered Phillip a chance to pursue medicine without incurring catastrophic debt. As she put it, she would graduate with the equivalent of car payments, while her peers in the United States would be saddled with the equivalent of mortgages. Although the school was lacking in creature comforts—the students slept in bunk beds; the hot water and electricity were unreliable; there was little access to the Internet or the phone—Phillip powered through. With help from family, friends, and an organization called Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba—which helps American students in Cuba prepare for their homecoming with scholarships, tutoring for U.S. exams, and connections to American medical networks—she returned home each summer, gaining experience at hospitals in Minneapolis, Oakland, and Washington, D.C.

In March of 2014, Phillip passed the U.S. medical-licensing exam, with one year of Cuban medical school left. In 2016, she was accepted to a residency program in family medicine at a hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina. “It’s one thing to recruit people that have high skills,” Bryan Hodge, the director of the Hendersonville program, told me. “More unique is when you find people that really have the passion and heart for taking care of underserved patient populations. These are the people needed to close the health-disparities gap.” As Peter McConarty, a veteran family doctor who advises E.L.A.M. students, put it, “A medical student in Cuba would have to actively resist the idea that they were agents of public health and social justice. In the United States, you have to actively seek it out.”

  • Published in Cuba
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