Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López arrives in Cuba (+Photos)

HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 13 (ACN) Happy to visit Cuba for the first time, whose leaders and people he thanked for their support for his release, the Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar López Rivera arrived in Havana this morning.

At the José Martí international airport Oscar Lopez was met by Fernando González Llort, Hero of the Republic of Cuba and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), with whom the Puerto Rican patriot shared a four-year cell in the Terre Haute prison in Indiana, United States, in the midst of almost 36 years of unjust imprisonment, until being pardoned by former President Barack Obama.

In statements to the press, Lopez Rivera said he intends to enjoy as much time as possible with his brother Cuban people.

When referring to the situation in Puerto Rico, he recalled that it is a country colonized for more than 100 years that today suffers from the effects of hurricane Maria, while facing the lack of interest and support from the US government.

López Rivera will exchange during his visit to Cuba with the Five Cuban Heroes who served sentences in the United States, including Fernando, where in addition to the Order of Solidarity, conferred by the State Council, he will receive samples of affection and admiration of the authorities and the population.

Invited by ICAP, the independence leader will develop an extensive program of activities, which includes meetings with representatives of various sectors in various provinces, and the tribute to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, in Santiago de Cuba.

As part of the support for the case of López Rivera, during the more than three decades of imprisonment, Cuba promoted before the United Nations Decolonization Committee a resolution in which it requested recognition of the right to independence and self-determination of Puerto Rico, and demanded Lopez Rivera´s release and that of other freedom fighters imprisoned in the United States.

The project, supported by Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua, was approved as a resolution by said committee in 2012, but the US ignored it.

Now, on a memorable day for relations of brotherhood between Cuba and Puerto Rico, the island receives this Puerto Rican patriot.

Edwin González (I), delegado de la misión puertorriqueña en Cuba, recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

Fernando González Llort (D), Héroe de la República de Cuba y presidente del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

Fernando González Llort (D), Héroe de la República de Cuba y presidente del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

El luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera (I), ofrece declaraciones a la prensa, a su llegada al aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

 

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China, Cuba sign agreements to expand economic, trade ties

China and Cuba on Wednesday signed five cooperation and legal agreements, which reaffirm the willingness of both nations to strengthen and expand their economic and trade relations.

According to local media, Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, and Chen Xi, the Chinese ambassador to Cuba, signed the documents, including a donation of one million U.S. dollars by the Chinese government to help the recovery of areas affected by Hurricane Irma.

Both nations also formalized a new credit line granted by China to remodel and modernize Cuba's electronic industry.

The Cuban official said these new agreements are a sign of the "friendship and brotherhood" between China and Cuba.

"The accords are aimed at supporting the process of recovery of the damages caused by Hurricane Irma. China was one of the first nations to express its condolences and willingness to help," added Malmierca.

Both sides signed a record of delivery and receipt of emergency humanitarian aid granted by China, consisting of relief materials such as tents, generators, mattresses, blankets, water pumps, and lighting, among others.

Chen said these new legal documents and agreements are a "testimony of the existing friendly relations between the two countries."

"Immediately after the impact of the hurricane, the Chinese government prepared a humanitarian aid package aimed at helping Cuba succeed in its recovery," he added.

In 2016, China became Cuba's biggest commercial partner with bilateral trade reaching 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Cuban Bureau of Statistics and Information.

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Irma: Vignettes from an event!

In Cuba, there is no other issue today than Irma, the strong hurricane that swept houses, roofs and crops from throughout the country. Irma has left a trail of bad memories and indelible experiences.

Once again, Cubans’ idiosyncrasy stayed afloat. The help and collaboration among neighbors, the funny comments about one of the most fearful atmospheric events that have ever hit the country, and the willingness and perseverance to overcome difficulties among all have been present. Now, I leave you with some anecdotes –as vignettes– about my neighbors from a neighborhood in Havana’s outskirts. Solidarity, obsession, carelessness summarize some of the behaviors.

Yusmaikel and his "plasma TV set"

"It only took me a tile, I have a hole in the roof, but I'm worried about the “plasma” (flat screen TV) that I bought recently. Ask Irma (coincidentally my neighbor is named like that). She saw it, tell her to tell you the size it has, it's like that window. I'm afraid it gets wet and breaks down".

And the roof?, I ask him.

“That is not my matter for the moment. I will see when it rains. The plasma TV set is the most important thing. I use it as an atari, I love it, and that entertains me. Irma has already passed, I am not concerned”.

Mercedes’s cookings…

“As I have my sister and my brother-in-love at home, I bought several things to spend these days. I had chicken, some pork beefsteaks and mincemeat in the refrigerator. And in addition, since the mango harvest was good, I also kept some.

“So the lack of electric power made me very tense, and I resorted to cook. I boiled the meats, made croquettes and cooked the fruits, because there was guava too. I have spent the whole cyclone in the kitchen! I hope no one else comes, but if it happens I am not going to keep so many things in the freezer. If lacking is bad, under these circumstances, lightening the refrigerator is better. It’s an experience to face the forthcoming ones”.

Carlos, the truck and taters

Carlos drives a truck that services agriculture. He’s a strong black man, as tall as a palm tree, and perhaps that’s the reason why, backbone pains always beset him. Therefore, when he brings home some taters, he never forgets to share them with those around him.

“Bring me a sack, a bag”, he tells me from time to time, and fills it with sweet potatoes, cassava, or some other seasonal produce.

Irma had gone, but the whole neighborhood had no power and water. The children were playing, adults were awaiting the restoration of power but that moment never came. However, Carlos brought good news. Some neighbors surrounded the track and he offered something to everybody; as if easing their pains. And he accomplished it! A while later, in the middle of the darkness of the night, the savory Creole flavor revealed that locals were cooking more than one “caldosa” (traditional Cuban stew).

Raimundo: Electricist or mason?

He works in an enterprise that offers maintenance to power stations, fixing heavy equipment, such as transformers. But in his spare time, he earns extra money doing masonry works. Few people know he is an electrician, everybody thinks he only has to do with sand and cement.

"Irma" had not arrived yet. It was around 2:00 pm, and Margarita thought there was no power. It happened that there was a short circuit in her house. Someone let Raimundo know it, and he showed up at the old woman’s home quickly. He climbed a stool on a chair and found out that some cables were really burnt. He was about to fall down, the prop was quite high.

He removed the lamp, separated the cables, and when he decided to test, then there was no power already. “Count on me for anything you need —he told the woman—, but do not tell the neighborhood that I am an electrician, because actually I fix big appliances, not small things like this one!

The kitchen door and Gloria

For months, Gloria has been suffering from the kitchen door of her apartment, located in a fifth floor. It didn’t even come to her mind that the cyclone season was about to begin. The door swelled when there was moisture, and in addition it had termite”. In short, it was an issue to be solved.

She talked to the thousand virgins, as the saying goes, until she finally managed to get one, but very far from her house. The dilemma was how to transport it from Guanabacoa to Arroyo Naranjo, two municipalities of the capital.

That night, during the passing of the hurricane, Gloria and her son spent most of the morning hours holding the door with wood. "What went in through it was a gust of wind". Fear seized them. Changing it was imminent.

After the fearsome cyclone, the boy walked around the neighborhood in search of a vehicle. But as one could figure out, his effort was unsuccessful. He found a truck stopped in front of his building. “Buddy —he said— I give you 5 CUC (convertible currency) if you take me to bring….” The man smiled and told him: “I do not have oil nor where to get it from. Cupets (Cuba’s National Oil Company) that have fuels do not have power and vice versa”.

Hours later, a phone call made them happy. “Get dressed because I am going there, I think that I can carry the door in my car”. So it was, human solidarity solved a problem that seemed to find no happy ending.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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NA leader lauds ambassador’s efforts to tighten Vietnam-Cuba links

National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan received outgoing Cuban Ambassador Herminio Lopez Diaz on August 21, appreciating the diplomat’s contributions to Vietnam-Cuba special traditional relations during his term.

She expressed her delight at the growth of bilateral relations over the past years, noting that political ties have continually been enhanced through the maintenance of delegation exchanges at all levels between the countries’ Parties, States, parliaments, ministries, sectors and localities.

Congratulating Cuba on its political, economic and diplomatic achievements, which have helped create prerequisites for next development stages, she voiced her belief that the Cuban people will obtain even greater achievements in updating their economic model.

At the meeting, Ambassador Herminio Lopez Diaz shared the outcomes of his working term in Vietnam, as well as his sentiment towards the country and people of Vietnam.

Noting the close parliamentary cooperation, he added aside from the thriving political-diplomatic relations, the countries’ cooperation in other spheres, including health care, have also been being promoted.

[Vietnam, Cuba agree to beef up legislative ties]

It’s now a good time for the two countries to increase economic and trade partnerships, he said, adding that the Cuban Embassy and the embassies of other Latin American nations want to establish a centre of Latin American culture in Vietnam.

Chairwoman Ngan and the ambassador agreed that the Vietnam-Cuba solidarity and friendship are a precious asset that the two Parties and nations need to treasure and hand down to future generations.

Herminio Lopez Diaz promised on whichever positions he will hold after returning to Cuba, he will always support and help nurture the time-honoured solidarity and friendship between the two countries

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Mexican Activists Call for US to End Blockade Against Cuba

The solidarity group denounced Trump’s move to reverse a diplomatic opening between the two countries.

The Mexican Solidarity Movement with Cuba demanded the United States lift the blockade against socialist government Saturday, marching to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.

RELATED:
Morales Expresses Solidarity with Cuba Against Trump's Policies

MMSC denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to reverse a diplomatic opening between the two countries. The group’s leader Jesus Escamilla stated that Mexicans reject the U.S. blockade and demand Trump lift it and move to normalize relations with the Caribbean island.

Members of the movement also pushed for the U.S. government to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, which has been occupied without the consent of the Cuban people since before the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

The U.S.’s attempts to tighten the economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba and its people is "a failed policy by more than a dozen U.S. administrations," Escamilla explained.

In a speech in Miami on June 16, Trump announced his cancellation of former president Barack Obama’s "completely one-sided deal with Cuba."

He added that U.S. sanctions would not be lifted until Cuba frees “political prisoners” and holds “free elections.”
Under the changes, Washington will tighten rules on individual U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba, who, if visiting the country for non-academic educational purposes, will again be required to only go with organized tour groups run by U.S. companies.

The new policy also bans most U.S. business deals with the military-runned Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group while still allowing airlines and cruise ships to continue services.

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'Pastors for Peace' Solidarity Caravan Arrives in Cuba from US

"Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first," Gail Walker, the director of the organization said.

The 48th contingent of the United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, arrived in Havana yesterday to deliver a symbolic donation of important drugs and medical supplies, as well as demand the end of the “economic, political, and cultural embargo.”

RELATED: Cuba's Havana to Honor Nelson Mandela on His Birthday

The group traveled through 50 cities in the United States to do solidarity work and speak on the realities of the ongoing embargo, promoting the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The most recent caravan has traveled in the context of a renewed wave of U.S. aggression toward Cuba, as the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has rolled back several gains made in recent years toward normalization, and has heightened anti-Cuba rhetoric.

On Friday the visiting group, mostly from the United States, is paying tribute in Havana to the founder of Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker. Reverend Walker, who died in 2010 is considered by many in both Cuba and in the United States to be a tireless fighter in defense of Cuba's revolution and against U.S. aggression.

His daughter, Gail Walker, is currently the director of the organization, and carries forward its original vision.

“Inside the United States, a campaign still persists whose purpose is to undermine Cuba and its revolutionary principles. Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first. That’s why we continue … calling upon the U. S. government to end its efforts towards regime change," she said in an interview with Cuba Debate.

Walker founded the organization as a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and was inspired by what he saw as anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America. The project focused on solidarity efforts with Cuba beginning in 1992, sending regular caravans to the Island.

They have consistently defied the travel ban on U.S. citizens to perform their work.

When Walker died, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, ran an announcement declaring “we do not want to think of a world without Lucius Walker.”

His final resting place is in Havana, and he is honored by a plaque at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune across from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

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South African Communists Award Cuban Doctors’ Internationalism

The brigade has been recognized often and has even earned a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics are being recognized once again: this time they have been honored by the South African Communist Party, SACP.

RELATED: 
Cuba’s Internationalist Solidarity Recognized Once Again, Doctors Awarded by WHO

The award was presented by Blade Nzimande, the Secretary General of the party, to Jorge Cuevas, a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, at the 14th SACP Congress in Johannesburg.

Cuevas said “In the name of the people of Cuba, we express our deep gratitude for this Special Recognition to Cuban doctors, particularly in the fight against Ebola in West Africa,” and added that the prize signifies a greater commitment by the Cuban people to global unity.

“Today we can say that Cuba's commitment to international solidarity is a fundamental part of the principles that have kept our Revolution and our socialism alive,” he continued.

“I am also convinced that the person who deserves this award is the principal doctor of the whole Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro,” he concluded.

The Henry Reeve Brigade was first created by the late revolutionary leader on Sept. 19, 2005.

Its first missions were in Guatemala and Pakistan, countries that faced the consequences of a devastating hurricane and earthquake, respectively.

RELATED: 
Gabonese President Pays Tribute to Fidel and Jose Marti

In May, the group was given the Dr. Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health from the World Health Organization, recognized particularly for its work in combatting the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where Cuba sent more than 250 workers when the crisis peaked in 2015.

For their work in the west African nations, the medics were also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

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El Salvador Prepares Central American Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba

The 2nd Central American Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba will be held from July 27th to 29th in El Salvador to discuss regional actions to support Cuba and the Revolution.

The event will be seized also to share, with the example of Cuba as a starting point, the different opinions about the management of the current challenges in Latin America, particularly the media, political and judicial offensive staged against progressive governments.

'Cuba has been an example that encourages people because it has been able to withstand for so many years and has taught us that problems may be overcome with dignity and unity,' said Angel Claudio, from the Salvadoran Movement of Solidarity with Cuba.

The program includes a march from the central park Simon Bolivar until the plaza Jose Marti to pay tribute to the attack against the Moncada Barracks on July 26th, 1953, an action that is considered the driving force behind the Cuban Revolution.

The meeting, the main sessions of which will be held at the Research Center in El Salvador, will conclude with a resolution on the integration of the Central American countries to join actions of solidarity with Cuba.

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