Russian warships head to Cuba for official visit

A flotilla comprising Russia's most modern warship and its escorts will on Monday arrive at the Havana port for an official visit, said Cuban Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces on Sunday.

One of Russia's newest warships, the Project 22350 missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, heads the naval group.

"During their stay in our country, the Russian sailors will carry out a program of activities that includes courtesy visits to the chief of the Revolutionary Navy, as well as touring places of historical and cultural interest," said the official daily Juventud Rebelde.

The Northern Fleet's naval group departed from the port of Severomorsk for its long-distance voyage on Feb. 26, according to Russian media.

Its journey included stops in Djibouti and Sri Lanka before visiting China, where Admiral Gorshkov took part in a major naval parade, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy.

Admiral Gorshkov entered service in July 2018 and is one of the first to carry Russia's Poliment-Redut air defense system, which consists of the Poliment phased array radar and the Redut surface-to-air missile system, a navalized version of the ground-based S-350.

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Cuba Welcomes US Pastor for Peace Defying Trump Sanctions

'Our caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people', say the Pastors for Peace organization that annually visits the blockaded island in protest of U.S. policy.

The Pastors for Peace Caravan is preparing for their annual visit to Cuba Saturday, a visit the government is celebrating this year in particular as it comes amid new travel restrictions by the US government.

Ana Silvia Rodriguez, Cuba’s ambassador at the United Nations says the upcoming ‘Pastors for Peace Caravan’ to the island by United States religious figures sends a clear message of difiance to the current U.S. administration that Cuba and religious protesters won't accept its hostile policies.

Pastors for Peace have been visiting the island since 1992, often delivering medical and other supplies that have been able to enter the island due to the nearly 60-year U.S. blockade. This year, the pastors say: “Our caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people.” Starting Saturday, participants will visit Havana and the Cienfuegos region where they will “explore how the Cuban people are moving forward in healthcare, organic farming, sustainable tourism, the diversity of religious expression in Cuba, and Cuba’s efforts to tackle legacies of racism, sexism, homophobia, and more.”

Since the religious caravan began nearly 30 years ago, the visit has been an act of ‘civil disobedience’, according to organizers who protest who are against U.S. policy that has long-prohibited its citizens from traveling to the island nation.

Participants in the tour that has now helped thousands of U.S. citizens see first-hand the daily life of Cubans, will, this year, be able to see how increased santions on Cuba by the President Donald Trump administration are affecting average people there.

The new restrictions include a ban on cruise tour ships moving between the U.S. and Cuba, which is affecting the island's travel and tourism that it is economically depends on. The restrictions also include cracking down on ‘educational trips,’ like the pastors caravan.

Minister Rodriguez criticized the administration's newest restrictions, suggesting Trump and his cabinet "are afraid that people from the U.S. will learn the true reality of my country."

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Cuban Vice President Meets with Russian Agriculture Minister

The vice president of the Cuban Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, has met on Tuesday with Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitri Patrushev and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov to review bilateral economic cooperation.

On Monday, during a meeting with Russian Transportation Minister Evgueni Ditrij, Cabrisas noted the crucial nature of that sector, in all its variants, to Cuba's economy.

The Cuban vice president expressed optimism about the prospects to further develop collaboration in a sector that is among his country's priorities.

Cabrisas denounced the tightening of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba after the activation of Title III of the extraterritorial Helms-Burton Act and the adoption of additional punitive measures.

After meeting with Patrushev, Cabrisas will talk with Borisov, who is the co-chairman of Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission.

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Parliament of Georgia Reiterate Friendship, Solidarity with Cuba

Georgian deputy Guguli Magradze reiterated the solidarity and friendship of her people with Cuba, by receiving here the ambassador of the island in this nation, Alfredo Nieves Portuondo, diplomatic sources reported today.

The vice president of the Committee of Education, Science and Culture of the Georgian Parliament and head of the Friendship with Cuba Group expressed satisfaction with the contacts with the Cuban mission and considered it important to strengthen ties with Cuban counterparts.

In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the diplomat asked Guguli to convey to his colleagues in Parliament the gratitude of the Cuban people for their support in the fight against the economic blockade.

Likewise, both parties recognized the potential that exists to promote cultural, economic, commercial, educational and scientific relations between Georgia and Cuba.

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Values Are Weapons as Cuba Defends Doctors against US intervention

The George W. Bush administration initiated the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP) in 2006. The idea was to persuade overseas Cuban doctors to abandon their posts and relocate to the United States. Cuba’s medical solidarity programs, in place for half a century, would suffer. President Obama ended the CMPP in January, 2017. Now the U.S. government wants to reinstate it.

Cubans defending medical outreach associate what the doctors do with ideals of human dignity and solidarity. U.S. rationales for their own interventions are either unconvincing as to humane purposes or not for public knowledge.

The U.S. government thus speaks of bringing democracy to Cuba and Venezuela. That those nations are under U.S. siege brings to mind the Vietnamese town Ben Tre. U.S. forces destroyed it in 1968 in order “to save it.” Otherwise, what many regard as the actual purpose of U.S. interventions, the commandeering of power and wealth, is unmentionable in mainstream circles.

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Cuba demonstrates coherence between intervention in the health care of other peoples and values. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, speaking in Buenos Aires in 2003, stated that, “Our country is able to send the doctors that are needed to the darkest corners of the world. Doctors, not bombs!” He had just proclaimed Cuba’s unwillingness (and inability) to launch “preventative surprise attacks in any dark corner of the world.”

Marisnely Echemendía Concepción recently sounded a strong note of human solidarity. “[F]ormed by the revolution and following the teachings of Marti, Che, and Fidel,” the Cuban doctor carries out “health promotion and disease prevention” in Caracas.

“I believe in altruism, in humanitarianism, and in internationalism,” she states. “These make up the essence of medical education in my country and validate this teaching of the Apostle (Marti): ‘Helping someone in need is part duty and part happiness.’”

And, “I would have it known and widely so – by the peoples of Our America and throughout the world – that my humanist and solidarity-based vocation can be relied upon, always. My sole interest is to improve the health of those we care for. Political affiliation, race, and religious creed don’t matter.”

Besides, “We Cuban medical graduates take on an international commitment that remains and goes with us wherever we are needed. After all, a doctor is only a slave to his or her calling as a humanist.”

Revolutionary Cuba puts values into practice. Some 600,000 Cubans have provided medical services “in more than 160 countries.” Cuba has educated 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at no personal cost to the students.

In assailing the Cuban doctors, U.S. officialdom has machinations, lies, and force at its disposal, but little else.

On May 7 Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey asked Secretary of State Pompeo to reinstitute the CMPP. Rubio and Menendez had previously introduced a Senate resolution to that effect.

That resolution cited “human trafficking,” “forced labor,” and “salaries directly garnished by their government” as characterizing Cuban doctors’ experience in Brazil. Some 8000 of them had joined former President Dilma Rousseff’s “More Doctors” program to care for destitute and underserved Brazilians. In late 2018 the Cuban government withdrew them due to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s animosity.

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U.S. ally Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, backs restoring the CMPP. He views Cuba’s pay arrangements with other states as “modern slavery.” Cuba uses its doctors for “cementing alliances with other countries.”

Serving abroad, the doctors receive their regular salaries to which are added bonuses for overseas work and coverage for living expenses abroad. Salaries are deposited in a Cuban bank or paid to a family member. Most countries hosting the doctors reimburse Cuba’s government at rates high enough for the funds to serve other purposes.

Funds received from Brazil paid for medical equipment and modernization of Cuban medical facilities. In return for the services of Cuban doctors, Venezuela guarantees Cuba delivery of low priced oil.

Thus U.S. meddling in Venezuela impinges upon Cuba. A recent New York Times report charged Cuban doctors in Venezuela with pressuring patients to support the government and political party of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The implication was that all the Cuban doctors did likewise.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and others in the Trump administration claim that 20,000 Cuban military personnel operate in Venezuela. The unspoken hint is that 20,000 Cuban health workers serving now in Venezuela are military people. Cuba’s Granma newspaper offers perspective: “140,000 Cuban health workers have provided … services in Venezuela” – which would have been lots of soldiers.

The Times article and the Bolton allegations are slanderous. Bolton is an old hand. As under secretary of state for arms control in 2002, he falsely charged Cuba with having ”provided dual-use biotechnology to … rogue states.”

Cuban journalist Randy Alonso Falcon explains why the U.S. government would revive the CMPP. He cites “barefaced brain drain” and disruptive effects leading to reduced income for Cuba’s government. He could have mentioned U.S. enthusiasm for sullying the image of Cuba as paragon of medical solidarity.

Weeks before he died in combat in 1895, emblematic Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti advised a young person in the United States: “Whoever has a lot inside doesn’t need much outside. Whoever is all display on the outside, doesn’t have much inside.”

Dr. Fernando González Isla, head of Cuba’s medical mission in Venezuela, tweeted the quotation. Dr. Marisnely Echemendía Concepción re-tweeted it. Identification with values and ethics must be Cuba’s special weapon in this conflict.

Cuba First vice president visits to Ethiopia

A deligation led by Cuba’s First Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa on Wednesday visits Ethiopia. The First Vice President discusses bilateral issues with President Sahle-Work Zewde and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen of Ethiopia.

The discussion involves strengthening the long-standing ties between the two nations and collaborations on sugar sector development and health sector, among others. Saying Cuba is a special friend of Ethiopia, President Sahle-Work emphasized the priority of focusing on activities that would help to expand the longstanding and historical relations.

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Mesa on his part expressed the utmost interest of his country to expedite the relationship between Ethiopia and Cuba, according to office of the President. About 28 Cuban collaborators are currently working in Ethiopia, 22 of them in health institutions and another six in the educational system, as part of Cuba’s professional assistance to African nations.

Around 5,000 Ethiopians who studied in Cuba at different educational levels, are contributing to the economic and social development of their country, thank the Cuban people and State that welcomed them as their children, and they are the backbone of solidarity with Cuba in Ethiopia.

The deligation led by the First Vice President is also expected to meet African Union offcials in Addis Ababa and extending the vist to South Africa to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Cyril Ramaphosa as President of South Africa, and the trip to the Kingdom of Eswatini, former Swaziland.



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Declaration of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba

The Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba, committed to the solidarity and humanistic principles that have guided Cuba’s medical cooperation for 55 years, has been participating in the Program More Doctors for Brazil since its inception in August 2013.  This initiative launched by Dilma Rousseff, who was at that moment the president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, pursued the double purpose of guaranteeing medical assistance to the majority of the Brazilian people, following the principle of universal health coverage promoted by the World Health Organization.

The program had planned the inclusion of Brazilian and foreign doctors who would go to work in poor and remote areas of that country.

Cuba’s participation in this program was arranged through the Pan-American Health Organization with one distinctive feature, for it was intended to fill the vacancies left by doctors from Brazil and other foreign nations.

During these five years of work, around 20 000 Cuban cooperation workers have assisted 113 359 000 patients in more than 3 600 municipalities.  They managed to provide health coverage to a universe of up to 60 million Brazilians at the moment when they accounted for 80 per cent of all the doctors who were taking part in the program. More than 700 municipalities were able to count on a doctor for the first time ever.

The work of Cuban doctors in areas of extreme poverty, in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia and the 34 Special Indigenous Districts, particularly in Amazonia, was largely recognized by the federal, state and municipal governments of that country and its population, 95 per cent of which expressed their acceptance, according to a survey carried out by the Federal University of Minas Gerais at the request of the Ministry of Health of Brazil.

On September 27, 2016, the Ministry of Public Health, in an official statement issued on a day close to the expiration date of the agreement and amidst the events associated to the legislative and judicial coup d’ etat against president Dilma Rousseff, announced that Cuba “would continue to honor its agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization for the implementation of the Program More Doctors, provided that the guarantees offered by local authorities were maintained”, something that has been so far respected.

Jair Bolsonaro, president elect of Brazil, who has made direct, contemptuous and threatening comments against the presence of our doctors, has declared and reiterated that he will modify the terms and conditions of the Program More Doctors, in full disregard of the Pan-American Health Organization and the agreement reached by this organization with Cuba, since he has questioned the qualification of our doctors and has conditioned their permanence in the program to a process of validation of their titles and established that contracts will only be signed on an individual basis.

The announced modifications impose conditions that are unacceptable and fail to ensure the guarantees that had been previously agreed upon since the beginning of the Program, which were ratified in 2016 with the re-negotiation of the Terms of Cooperation between The Pan-American Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of Brazil and the Cooperation Agreement between the Pan-American Health Organization and the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.  These unacceptable conditions make it impossible to maintain the presence of Cuban professionals in the Program.

Consequently, in the light of this unfortunate reality, the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba has decided to discontinue its participation in the Program More Doctors and has informed so to the Director of the Pan-American Health Organization and the political leaders of Brazil who founded and defended this initiative.

The decision to bring into question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of Cuban cooperation workers who, with the support of their families, are currently offering their services in 67 countries is unacceptable. During the last 55 years, a total of 600 000 internationalist missions have been accomplished in 164 nations, with the participation of 400 000 health workers who, in quite a few cases, have fulfilled this honorable task more than once. Their feats in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa, blindness in Latin America and the Caribbean and cholera in Haiti as well as the participation of 26 brigades of the International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Great Epidemics “Henry Reeve” in Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela, among other countries, are worthy of praise.

In the overwhelming majority of the missions that have been accomplished, all expenses have been covered by the Cuban government.

Likewise, 35 613 health professionals from 138 countries have been trained in Cuba at absolutely no cost as an expression of our solidarity and internationalist vocation.

All Cuban cooperation workers have preserved their posts and their full salary in Cuba, together with all due labor and social benefits, just as the rest of the workers of the National Health System.

The experience of the Program More Doctors for Brazil and Cuba’s participation in it show that it is indeed possible to structure a South-South Cooperation Program under the auspices of the Pan-American Health Organization in order to promote the achievement of its goals in our region.  The United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization have described it as the main example of good practices in triangular cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

The peoples from Our America and from all over the world know that they will always be able to count on the solidarity and humanistic vocation of our professionals.

The Brazilian people, who turned the Program More Doctors into a social achievement and, from the very beginning, has trusted Cuban doctors, recognized their virtues and appreciated the respect, sensitivity and professionalism with which they have assisted them, will understand who are to be held responsible for our doctors’ not being able to continue offering their fraternal contribution in that country.

Havana, November 14, 2018.

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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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