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
  • Published in Cuba

Fidel Castro: A Latin American Legend

The Cuban revolutionary remained influential in Latin America and across the world for half a century.

Fidel was born in 1926 during a period when then-President Gerardo Machado was cutting off the traditional elite from its long-held power and defending the island’s sovereignty from the United States.

As a child, Fidel was sent to live in Santiago de Cuba, where he excelled more in sports than academia.

His youth was marked by turbulent politics: Fulgencio Batista became president in 1940 and ruled the country until 1944 before returning to power through a coup in 1952. With the blessing and material support of the United States, he ruled Cuba with an iron fist until 1959 in what even John F. Kennedy once referred to as “one of the most bloody and repressive dictatorships in the long history of Latin American repression.”

While studying law at the University of Havana, Fidel became increasingly involved in anti-imperialist activism. After traveling to the Dominican Republic and Colombia, Fidel sharpened his leftist politics and led protests against right-wing governments in both countries.

Upon returning to Cuba, Fidel used his legal training to oppose the Batista regime while founding an underground revolutionary socialist group called “The Movement.”

Armed Struggle

The Movement staged a failed attack on the Moncada barracks, and many—including Fidel—were arrested.

Prison was a time of learning for Fidel, who devoured authors ranging from Marx, Lenin and Marti to Freud and Shakespeare. It was during this time that Fidel made one of the most famous speeches in history, “History Will Absolve Me,” as part of his own defense in court.

Millions of Cubans hailed the anti-imperialist movement to oust U.S. imposed dictator Fulgencio Batista | Photo: File

Released in 1955, Fidel left Cuba for Mexico, where he met and soon befriended the Argentine Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The Movement ultimately survived and reorganized in Fidel’s newfound country, eventually assuming the name “26th of July Movement” in honor of the Moncada attack.

IN PICTURES: The Victory of Fidel Castro's Revolution

Fidel began his takeover of Cuba the next year, sailing to the island aboard the Granma. The few fighters soon multiplied and despite initial defeats against Batista forces, Fidel’s strategizing and sustained guerrilla attacks eventually resulted in the country being taken over piece by piece.

Despite U.S. attempts to stop him, on Jan. 1, 1959, Fidel officially declared victory in what would be the final nail in the coffin of the Batista regime.

Putting Words Into Action

Fidel transformed the country from one terrorized by torture, killings and dispossession to one radically committed to wealth redistribution, education and universal health care.

Domestically, he built his legacy on agrarian reform, establishing one of the world’s most ambitious literacy campaigns and developing a free, world-class health care system. He went on to nationalize companies, refineries and land and would serve as head of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1965.

Fidel parades through the streets of Havana 56 years ago celebrating the triumph of the Cuban Revolution | Photo: File

In Washington, he is known for opposing U.S. aggression, most prominently the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, and being a major player in the 1962 Missile Crisis that marked the peak of the Cold War with the USSR. He is also believed to have survived at least 638 assassination attempts as well as countless attempts to destabilize the small Caribbean country.

ANALYSIS: 5 Times Fidel Proved He Was a True Internationalist

In Latin America, Fidel built the groundwork for a tight partnership between left-wing governments of the Caribbean and South America. Along with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, he helped found ALBA, a socialist bloc opposed to privatization and liberalization which offers a vision of post-neoliberalism rooted in principles of social welfare and mutual economic aid.

For the Global South, Fidel is a revolutionary icon who has consistently supported principles—and policies—of internationalism. He was a key figure in the Non-Aligned Movement, winning the respect of leaders across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where thousands of Cuban troops, doctors, agricultural specialists and teachers have helped on humanitarian missions.

Fidel’s Dawn

On April 19, 2016, at the final session of the Cuban Communist Party’s 7th Congress, Fidel addressed his audience. “This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room,” he said, “but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, by working with fervor and dignity, we can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need."

A photograph of Fidel being installed in preparation for his 90th birthday in Havana, Cuba, August 12, 2016 | Photo: Reuters 

It was a rare public appearance for the 90 year old, who still nonetheless penned letters and articles on global issues, influencing strategic decisions in Cuba with his moral weight. His behind-the-scenes diplomacy has also helped establish peace between the FARC and the Colombian government, and now the U.S. and Cuba through the normalization of diplomatic relations.

Suffering from an undisclosed digestive illness in July 2006, Fidel announced the transfer of presidential duties to his brother, Raul, who was vice president at the time.

On Nov. 25, 2016, his brother and fellow revolutionary Raul Castro announced that Fidel had passed at the age of 90.

  • Published in Cuba

Tropical Storm Nate Prompts Gulf Coast Hurricane Warnings Ahead of Weekend Landfall; Hurricane Threat For Cancún Tonight

The center of Tropical Storm Nate is churning over the Caribbean Sea north of Honduras.

Nate will make its closest approach to Cancún and Cozumel Friday night, where a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect.

Preparations should be rushed to completion in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Nate will then make landfall along the northern Gulf Coast late Saturday night or early Sunday as either a hurricane or a tropical storm.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches have been issued for the U.S. northern Gulf Coast.

Nate will produce a swath of heavy rain from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachians and possibly parts of the Northeast.

Torrential rain will also trigger serious flash flooding and mudslides in much of Central America the next few days.

Tropical Storm Nate has is gaining strength over the warm water of the northwest Caribbean Sea, poised for a strike on Cancún and Cozumel tonight, then on the northern Gulf Coast Saturday night and Sunday, where hurricane warnings have now been posted.

This is a developing weather story, for the latest forecast on Nate, including expected impacts along the U.S. Gulf Coast, check out our latest forecast article here.


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Irma: A name never been so mentioned before

My neighbor Irma never figured out that her name would be - at some point in her life - so mentioned, but in a "terrifying" way. Irma has become an informational event in recent days, as it always happens when it is about an atmospheric phenomenon of such magnitude.

Comments have gone through several stages in social networks, some - very peculiar to Cubans - original and funny, like the one recently written on Facebook by colleague Elias Argudin and that encouraged several people to share it: "What is the name of the hurricane that threatens us Irma or Trump? "

However, as the hours have passed (of course) the complexity of the issue has been reflected in the texts. Calls for caring human lives and preservation of material goods fill the networks.

From the eastern province of Las Tunas, local Jorge Perez calls "for a miracle", whereas Eric Yanes, cameraman from Ciego de Avila’s TV station –not without concern– points out that the reservoirs of this territory, very affected by the drought, are ready to receive the rainfalls from Irma; "Let it leave us water and let it go right to the north."

At midst the uncertainty that a cyclone always causes, and furthermore when it is known how powerful and strong it is, Cubans wondered where renowned meteorologist José Rubiera was. His sapience and wisdom manifest themselves every year by this time and many calmed down after he finally appeared on the 8 o’clock TV news to offer us his report about Hurricane Irma. Although his excellent students, as Rubiera himself called them, did not do a bad job in his absence.

Journalist Jorge Legañoa, from the Cuban News Agency, had already calmed some via Facebook stating that "the knight of hurricanes" was not in Cuba at this moment (he wrote on the eve), but he would arrive on Thursday.

Hours have passed and Irma has already ravaged some Caribbean islands.

Yurien Portelles reports that according to the prime minister of Barbuda, “the island is unsuitable for life”. Meanwhile, Cubans continue to follow step by step the mischiefs of Irma, a name that had never been so mentioned before.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Irma’s and her Granparents’s Bad Omen

Secrets on why this hurricane is so destructive as well as revelations on similar phenomena that hit Cuba.  

Irma has already hit the Cuban eastern region, happily a bit weakened because its sustained top winds dropped to 250 km/h and now ranks on the verge of a Category-4 Hurricane.

But since it appeared in the proximities of Cuba it had very peculiar features.

Generally hurricanes keep category-5 in the Saffir-Simpson scale for only a few hours. This hurricane still keeps that terrible condition for about three days.

This is because warm waters are the "fuel" of those phenomena and Irma has remained among waters with temperatures that surpasses between 0,7 and 1 degree Celsius the usual heat. This Thursday, for example, the waters it whirled with fury had a temperature of 30degrees and more.

It so happens that hurricanes need that the water to be at least 26 degrees Celsius and the top stage in the hurricanes season in the Atlantic is right between mid-August and Mid-October.

Besides hot, waters where Irma has been are deeper than usual and on top of that the winds at great altitude which are those that can dissipate the hurricane, are not strong enough to do so.

While on Tuesday it remained on the Atlantic Ocean, winds about 297 km/h of this phenomenon had already reached a record in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Mexican Gulf because only hurricane Allen, in 1980, could rival it with winds of 305 km/h.

Damned Lineage

Since these phenomena started to be tracked via satellite, about 40 years ago, this is the second time in which sustained winds of 297 km/h have been registered for more than 24 hours, said Philip Klotzbach, outstanding meteorologist from Colorado University.

Previously, the satellite had detected bearing similar characteristics the sinister typhoon Haiyan which in 2013 took the life of more than six thousand people in the Philippines.

Other hurricanes with terrible winds were Wilma, in 2005; and Gilberto in 1988.

Since year 1851 began a record of these phenomena, top winds reached by Irma have been the highest registered in the Atlantic since the 80’s, next to those of 305 km/h of hurricane Allen, which crossed the Caribbean, went through the Yucatan peninsula and the south of Texas, leaving a toll of 269 dead and billionaire losses.

Along the history of hurricanes, Wilma had been the most intense and Hurricane San Calixto the most deadly. The latter took place in 1780, also known as The Great Hurricane, and possibly the one with the highest death rate; nearly 22 thousand after hitting the Caribbean.

The largest of registered hurricanes was Sandy which in 2012 reached 1 520 kilometers of diameter.

By the time I a finishing these lines, Irma had already surpassed the record of maximum energy generated by a hurricane in 24 hours.

Hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel, from the Massachusetts Institute Technological (MIT), calculates that Irma has about 7 trillion watts: almost twice the energy of all the bombs used in World War II.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Hurricane alert announced for Cuba's eastern and central provinces

According to the Forecast Center at Cuba's Meteorology Institute, Irma continues as a category 5 hurricane, following a west-northwest path at a pace of 26 kilometers per hour. It is expected that within the next 48 to 72 hours the island's eastern provinces will be affected.

Assuming that within the next 12 to 24 hours Hurricane Irma will maintain its current path and rate of movement, the decision was made to establish an Alert in the provinces of Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguín, Las Tunas, Camagüey, Ciego de Avila, and Villa Clara, as of 10:00am this morning, September 6. The Informative Phase is maintained in Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas; while the provinces of La Habana and Mayabeque must remain attentive to information released by the Meteorology Institute.

State bodies and organs, economic entities, and social institutions of the provinces now in the Alert phase, must implement measures established in their respective disaster mitigation plans, increase hydro-meteorological monitoring, and evaluate models of possible impacts.

The population is urged to stay informed of the evolution of this hurricane via Hurricane Advisories released by the Meteorology Institute, and Civil Defense instructions, adopting, in a disciplined fashion, all measures as indicated by local authorities.

National Civil Defense Chiefs of Staff

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Hurricane Irma path: Forecast map warns Florida, New York and Washington - cities at RISK

forecasters warn the Category 5 hurricane, which is the largest ever formed in the Atlantic, could reach the US mainland by Friday before continuing up the country’s eastern seaboard. 

The hurricane has already hit Barbuda and St Barts and St Martin, causing “major damage” and leaving a trail of destruction, according to early reports from officials. Irma is now heading straight for the Virgin Islands and Richard Branson's own Necker Island.

Low-lying areas on the French territorial islands have been flooded and widespread damage is expected, according to France’s interior minister Gerard Collomb. 

Sea level rises have been recorded of more than 2 metres.

Mr Collomb said: “We know that the four most solid buildings on the island have been destroyed which means that more rustic structures have probably been completely or partially destroyed.”

And forecasts predict Hurricane Irma, which is the size of France, will continue to crash through the Caribbean before tearing through the US, as portrayed by this new map. 

Hurricane Irma pathEXPRESS

Hurricane Irma could hit US cities stretching from Florida to New York

The Virgin Islands are next to be hit but billionaire Richard Branson has refused to leave the islands and is among those preparing for the worst with landfall expected today. 

While those that can are evacuating the area, billionaire Branson is refusing to leave his private Necker Island. 

The Virgin mogul said he is going to ride out the Category 5 hurricane on his luxury island, using a “concrete wine cellar” as a hideaway. 

Tomorrow the US territory of Puerto Rico, as well as Haiti and Puerto Rico, two states which share the divided island of Hispaniola, could be hit. 

On Saturday the Turks and Caicos Islands are predicted to be in the firing line, along with tourist hotspots Cuba and the Bahamas. 

And it is predicted Hurricane Irma will first hit the American mainland, with Miami in the firing line, along with the Florida Keys island string on Sunday, through to Monday morning.

Hurricane Irma: Damage in the Caribbean Irma flooding in St Martin Irma hits Saint Martin -latest damage Irma flooding in Saint Martin -latest damage

Florida governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency amid widespread evacuations across the state, with residents rushing to supermarkets for vital supplies. 

Early next week the forecast becomes more patchy with meteorologists split over whether Hurricane Irma will continue northwards through America. 

But if Irma does continue on this route, as many as 10 US states could suffer from the hurricane's severe wind, rain and flooding. 

On Monday, other Florida cities including Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee could be hit by Hurricane Irma, which has sustained winds of 185 mpg and gusts of 225mph.

Some forecasts predict Georgia will be hit by midweek, with the historic city of Savannah in danger from life-threatening winds and ferocious rain. 

Late next week the hurricane is expected to push even further north through South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. 

And the weekend of Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September could see Hurricane Irma hit major US cities in the north-east of the country. 

Washington DC, Baltimore and New York cities, with their total population of tens of millions of people, could be the hurricane’s final targets before it finally dies out.

Some experts warn Irma's characteristics mirror those of 1960’s Hurricane Donna which left a death toll of almost 400 and destroyed tens of thousands of homes as it swept along the Atlantic coast from the southern tip of Florida to New England in the north.

And as Hurricane Irma threatens to bring devastation to huge swathes of the US East Coast, it's feared Irma could be even worse than Donna. 

Deadly Donna was only a Category 4 storm with maximum wind speeds of around 160mph whereas Irma has already a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane packing sustained winds of 185mph and more.

  • Published in World

Katia joins Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Jose in the Atlantic

As major Hurricane Irma moves closer to the United States, newly-formed Tropical Storm Jose will churn across the central Atlantic while Tropical Storm Katia strengthens in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico this week.

Tropical Storm Jose, which formed on Tuesday morning, is located thousands of miles southeast of the Lesser Antilles.

Tropical Depression 13 formed Tuesday afternoon in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and strengthened into Tropical Storm Katia on Wednesday morning. It will continue to bring enhanced rainfall to eastern Mexico over the next few days.

Will Jose strike the Leeward Islands days after Irma?

Tropical Storm Jose will remain in an environment favorable for intensification with dry air and very little wind shear, or change in wind speed or direction with altitude.

There is the potential for Jose to become a hurricane as it tracks to the west-northwest this week.

This projected path would take it near or just north of the Leeward Islands late this week and into the weekend, less than a week after major Hurricane Irma batters the area.

“The northern Leeward Islands are at risk of contending with enhanced showers and tropical-storm-force conditions this weekend, which could hinder Irma recovery efforts,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.

“At the very least, rough surf will be stirred once again,” he added.

Beyond the Leeward Islands, Jose will likely get caught up in a lack of steering flow, causing it to meander in the open Atlantic early next week and posing mainly a concern to shipping interests.


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Tropical Storm Katia to trigger enhanced rainfall, local flooding in eastern Mexico

Tropical Storm Katia could strengthen further as it stews in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

The system may wobble to the north, east and south this week, but it will move very little overall.

A large area of dry, sinking air over Texas and Louisiana will keep Katia from creeping northward into Harvey disaster areas

“The system will likely end up moving inland over the northern coast of southeastern Mexico sometime late this week or this weekend,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Disruptive winds are forecast to stay north of the system, allowing it to strengthen slowly and feed off of the very warm water over the Bay of Campeche.

Regardless of further strengthening of the system, eastern Mexico will face enhanced rainfall and the threat for localized flooding, according to Miller. Mudslides can occur in the mountainous terrain.

Southern portions of the state of Tamaulipas and eastern portions of Veracruz will lie within the zone of increased downpours.

Rough surf will also batter the coast and lead to increased rip currents.


  • Published in World
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