About 189 Offices Operate in Cuba to Inform Voters

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) As part of the preparatory process being currently carried out in Cuba in face of the constitutional referendum, the citizens can receive information at any of the 189 procedure offices of the Identification, Immigration and Foreign Affairs Direction.

In these entities, belonging to the Ministry of the Interior, citizens will know details related to their location in the electoral registration, act prior to the February 24 referendum on Cuba's new Constitution.

Colonel Mario Mendez, Chief of Identification, Immigration and Foreign Affairs Direction, explained that drawing up the list of voters is a great challenge for the institution.

Cuba has an electoral register with its own characteristics and the State accepts responsibility and guarantees that all citizens over 16 years of age can have the right to vote, he noted.

Our mission is that no Cuban eligible to vote is outside the list, the colonel said.

The electoral registration has the required quality because it works with seriousness, discipline, transparency and total adherence to the law, the official stressed.

Its strength lies in the technology used to protect it from vulnerabilities and the protection of data is guaranteed, he noted.

He stressed that the electoral registration has a mobilizing capacity, in fact, the list of voters will be for public viewing between January 16-17.

More than eight million Cubans are called to ratify on February 24 the new Constitution of the Republic approved on December 22 by the People's Power National Assembly.

The Constitution ratifies Cuba's socialist nature and the leading role of the Communist Party in its society.

It also reflects changes in the structure of the State, extends guarantees and human rights, promotes foreign investment, and recognizes several forms of property, including private property.

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Film Screening in Cuba Pays Tribute to The Beatles

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) The Cinematheque of Cuba begins on Wednesday a varied program in homage to The Beatles and linked to the tribute that the world offers the legendary English band every year.

With the name The Beatles Week: all its images and sounds, the tribute will take place at 23 y 12 movie theaters, headquarters of the entity, and the Chaplin cinema's Charlot room, and will run until January 20.

According to Antonio Mazon, programmer of the institution, the films will be screened during the week in new and remastered movies

related to the life and career of the successful band formed in Liverpool.

Among the clips chosen are 'Help!' with great audio and image quality and subtitling of songs, 'the Magical Mystery Tour' in a new and subtitled copy, and the documentary 'Let It Be'.

Since 1991, the Cinematheque of Cuba has been offering to audience films and documentaries dedicated to rock music and the Beatles has been an essential part of this initiative due to the validity and transcendence of its musical memory.

This special initiative is part of Global Beatles Day, a date chosen with all intention to recall the performance of the band at La Caverna club, which welcomed them more than 200 times in 1961 and 1963.

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Cuban President Begins Gov't Visit to Central Province

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel began on Wednesday a government visit to the central province of Sancti Spiritus, where he was accompanied by First Vice President Salvador Valdes, and several ministers.

The president announced on his twitter account the beginning of his visit, which is part of his policy of systematically traveling throughout the country with members of the Council of Ministers to check the progress of the economy, social works, and other priorities.

'Today begins the visit of the Council of Ministers to Sancti Spiritus, a beautiful province in the center of Cuba. See you,' he tweeted.

Since he took office in April 2018, Diaz-Canel has insisted on the importance of governing with the people, a vision that - he assures - constitutes a legacy of the historical leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, and of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Raul Castro.

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Diaz-Canel announces national workshop on computerization of society

Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, announced on Twitter that the Second National Informatization and Cybersecurity Workshop will be held later this week.

On the 17th and 18th, the Second Workshop on Informatization and Cybersecurity will be held, in which the progress of the Informatization Program, Electronic Government, the use of Social Networks, the work of the Cuban Union of Informaticians (UIC) and other related topics will be discussed, the Cuban president tweeted.

The organizers of the event informed the press that the workshop will take place at the University of Informatics Sciences, in this capital, and will be attended by officials of the Ministry of Communications, the business system and local governments, as well as research centers and universities.

The program that has transcended so far includes among the activities an exchange on good practices in institutional management of social networks, the current state of cybersecurity in the country and the main results of the implementation of government policy for the computerization of society.

The meeting will also address the march of e-government with an evaluation of the impact of its first stage (Presence) and the projections to reach the second (Interaction) of the four conceived in this initiative.

During the closing day, a diagnosis of the websites of the territorial governments will be presented, as well as the main applications and capacities of the country's IT solutions development entities.

The Cuban computerization process goes beyond strengthening access to the Internet; it also includes a program to expand electronic payment channels, and a gradual migration to digital television, among other aspects. (ACN)

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Computerization in Cuba: driving force for prosperity

Likewise, tourism is known in Cuba as the smokeless driving force because of its important role in pulling the wagons of the national economy, the emerging computerization that makes its way in the insular reality is a driving force too, unavoidable for both Cuba and the entire world today.

From that conviction, increasingly collective, the nation projects itself. It is not for pleasure that the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel himself, commented in the latest session of the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament) that “this is a reality that progresses and provides prosperity.”

It won’t be an issue of just snapping the fingers so Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) insert themselves into every beating of the daily life. Our status of underdeveloped and blocked country makes it harder for us.

But anyway, it is based and will continue to be based on an express political will, which knows that computerization is synonymous with effectiveness, efficiency, competiveness and, firstly, rise in the quality of life of citizens.

On the basis of achieving those aims, Cuba’s Communications Minister Jorge Luis Perdomo has explained that this complex, costly but indispensable process is based on four pillars: to have an infrastructure for telecommunications; with digital services and contents for the country; cybersecurity and to have a regulatory framework that allows to deploy the aforementioned.

Even when the Ministry of Communications is in charge of the management and control of that process, all gears of the socioeconomic reality of the country are necessarily involved. At the same time that, as Perdomo himself recalled “all bodies of the Central Administration of the State have the obligation to implement it and make it functional and sustainable.”

For this year and not for the coming one

Everything said so far here explains why the Cuban president, when summarizing the most relevant events in 2018, underlined that “it has been a year for boosting e-government”, which he described as a priority in the computerization of the country.

Besides enabling and simplifying procedures and managements –leaving bureaucracy without oxygen–, the most important aspect of this kind of government is the possibility that it provides for the exchange and greater closeness between leaders and the people.

All Cuban ministries have already created their space on the web, as well as other entities, even the president himself keeps an active participation on Twitter; it would be necessary to climb a new step now: to encourage that interaction with the citizens and to know how to take advantage of it.

Also for this 2019, emphasis has been made on e-commerce, still in its infancy, but equally necessary for the quickness in financial transactions, and, among other points in its favor, to guarantee the transparency of this job. “Using payment gateways contributes to progress”, claimed the minister of communications.

Part of the road has been walked: the qualification of the human capital owned by the country, as well as its training in the field of information and communications technologies.

This year, thus has been specified, the job of the leaders at all levels should increasingly embrace social communication, science, research and innovation, as well as computerization in its entirety, as key tools for their management.

Computerization in Cuba is already progressing, as the president has ratified. No single day should be missed to continue boosting it, because it would be a day lost with a view to the prosperity of the nation.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuba Reiterates Interest in Boosting links with European Union

Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, ratified today the interest in boosting cooperation and dialogue with the European Union (EU).

In his Twitter social network account, the diplomat insisted that relations between the greater of the Antilles and the 28-country bloc have developed favorably, on the bases of mutual respect.

'We build spaces of dialogue and cooperation. We privileged the common points above those that difference us to develop stable and long-term links', he stressed.

Rodriguez recalled that last year, Cuba and the EU held the first sessions of the Joint Council and the meetings to approach issues in the area of human rights and unilateral coercive measures.

At the end of 2016, the island and the European bloc signed an agreement of political dialogue and cooperation, that represented the official end to the common position on Cuba, an initiative applied since 1996 by the EU which conditioned the approach to the greater of the Antilles to human rights issues, rejected by the Caribbean country, considering it a position of subordination to the U.S. aggressiveness and its economic blockade.

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Carlos Acosta to Become Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet

The Royal Ballet of Birmingham (United Kingdom) has elected Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta as its new director, according to a press release from Acosta Dance, a company founded by the artist.

Acosta, who will assume the appointment from January 2020, said about his new responsibility that 'it is a great honor and privilege to have been appointed to lead this company.

I am a great admirer of its heritage and of what David Bintley (current director) has done to establish it as one of the world's leading classical ballet companies, he added.

My ambition is to build on its classical traditions, expand its repertoire and reach out to new and more diverse audiences, to define what it is to be a world-leading classical ballet company in the 21st century' , he said.

The choreographer also stressed that in parallel to this opportunity, he will continue his work with Acosta Dance and the Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation, as this appointment will allow him to improve and develop the opportunities he can offer to both initiatives.

For this selection, a group of international experts chose the director in an open competition, after the British Bintley announced his retirement next July, at season's end.

David Normington, the company´s chair highlighted the Birminghan Royal Ballet´s great moment and described Acosta as the 'greatest best male dancer of his generation'.

I know he will bring us his legendary art, his energy and his charisma and allow us to connect with new audience, especially in Birmingham,' he said.

Acosta, 45, was trained at the Cuban National School of Ballet, where he graduated with honors in 1991 and, three years later, became top dancer for the Cuban National Ballet.

According to specialized critics, he has become one of the greatest dancers in the world, thanks to his physical qualities and talent which have led him to join the list of important companies in the world, such as Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom.

He made his debut as an actor last year in Yuli, by Spain's Iciar Bollain, a film where he plays himself and which has earned him the nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2019 Goya Awards.

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Therapeutic clowns: Much more than the desire to heal

Sparking a good laugh and shaking off sadness is the greatest desire of therapeutic clowns, people of great human sensitivity who build relationships of complicity and affection with long-stay hospital patients, as MSc Aniet Venereo Pérez-Castro, otherwise known as the clown Celeste, explained to Granma International.

She defined therapeutic clowns as people who don the representative red nose and provide moments of amusement and relaxation for those suffering from chronic conditions.

Professionals from different specialties such as doctors, rehabilitators, psychologists, artists and others volunteer their time and talent in this effort to provide patients with necessary hope, which can contribute to their rapid recovery. They also visit nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, psycho-pedagogical centers, and institutions for adults with chronic diseases.

In the first interaction with the patient, a relationship of acceptance and security must be developed. In some cases, children may be afraid of clowns, or patients may be apathetic, in which case the artist does not impose participation. Often, on observing interaction with others in the same ward, these initially reluctant patients become curious and join in the activities.

“Cuba has a clown academy, located in the eastern province of Las Tunas, where graduates are trained in the art form, and the inclusion of a therapeutic module has already been proposed. We formed after the Canadian, Joan Barrington, director of Therapeutic Clowns International, visited us in 2012, taught a course, and trained several instructors. Subsequently, they have been responsible for multiplying this knowledge throughout the country, supported by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health,” the national coordinator of Cuba’s therapeutic clowns group explained.

                    Photo: Nuria Barbosa

On Barrington’s second trip to the island, an improvement course was opened, in which circus artists were included. “This training served to take the methodology of the international therapeutic clowns foundation and adapt it to our traditions. We also linked it with popular education techniques and created our own courses and workshops,” Venereo added.

The starting point for learning is visual contact, which is why clowns are trained to interact through the observation of others. They work with the absurd and the ridiculous, and anyone assuming this role should seek to create a character based on their own personal experiences.

The training process for therapeutic clowns begins with a basic workshop including discussions on communication and acting techniques, and costumes are created. Although it is impossible to measure the results of this project in figures, the improvement in patients’ mood, acceptance of treatments, and adaptation to hospitalization, especially among children, is palpable.

This movement has advanced significantly, and today Cuba has over 200 therapeutic clowns working in different health institutions across 11 provinces. The First Cuban Congress of Therapeutic Clowns: Art and Health was held in October 2018, as a space to share experiences with other professionals from around the world. The event, linking science and art to develop strategies for the future, saw the presence of 116 delegates, of whom 90 were Cubans. There were 25 presentations, 12 workshops, two keynote addresses, and 8 poster presentations. Three areas were debated during the Congress: science, culture, and social work.

Agreements were reached to support the creation of mid-level specialist accreditation in this field, with courses to be taught in the School of Health Technology. The decision was based on experiences in health institutions, as therapeutic clowns often assumed the tasks of social workers in terms of palliative care, accompanying families during difficult moments.

Reyna de La Paz Campos Falcón, who plays the character of Mantequilla, noted the value of the happiness clowns provide. “We teach our colleagues in training that the essence of this type of activity is found from within, externalized in the act of interacting with the patient. We work very closely with children to dispel all the fears that arise faced with a clown. For me it has been a very rewarding experience, which helped me overcome difficult situations faced in my own life,” she explained.

Training courses cover clowning techniques, which include acting, pantomime, balancing acts, magic, puppeteering, color variety, and balloon modeling. A fundamental aspect is the identification with each patient’s condition, as rather than working from a script, these clowns prepare their performances in response to patients’ needs. Their duration is also dependent on the patient and whether they are enjoying the act or not.

“We visit oncology, heart disease, and hematology wards. Rapport must be established in the first visual contact with the patient, necessary to undertake the activity. By letting the patient decide the artistic act, for a moment they enjoy a pause in medical routines. This rapport also creates ties with their relatives. Many hospitalized children live in other provinces and come from dysfunctional families. We see single mothers who leave other children at home in order to care for one child, so more than the clown therapy, we become involved like social workers, hence the need for a well-trained clown,” Campos emphasized.

This view was shared by Canadian, Melissa Halland: “I am a therapeutic clown because I understand that being in the hospital is a difficult time for any human being. In many cases, healing the body entails pain. I believe that the mind and emotions are important to recovering from an illness. This actor or actress is an individual who helps to cure, because he or she provokes joy and feelings of love among human beings.” Halland plays the character of Fifi, working with the sick in the cities of Montreal and Quebec.

She told Granma International that Canada has a network of therapeutic clowns in each city, integrated with different humanitarian associations, who provide their art free of charge in health institutions, but are financed by non-governmental organizations and by solidarity contributions, to cover travel and other expenses.

She noted that attending the Congress in Cuba was a wonderful experience, and that, “It touched my heart. I have seen the interest shown by the Ministries of Health, Education, and Culture to support this activity, something that is lacking in Canada.”

Meanwhile, Iliana Levy, from Colombia, visited Cuba for the first time to attend the Congress. A graduate in Literature and Linguistics, she has been clowning for over ten years, and is focused on the social work of a therapeutic clown in hospitals and other unconventional settings.

“The experience of the Congress has been a dream come true. I am very grateful to the therapeutic clowns organization of Cuba, who have made us feel at home. I feel that we share joy and vitality. They offered me the opportunity to interact with Cuban patients, and it turned out to be an extraordinary experience,” expressed Levy, otherwise known as the clown Gladys Banana.

Cuban Karelia León Despaigne reported that her seven-year-old son, Yasier, was very sad on learning he would be admitted to the William Soler Pediatric Hospital, where he underwent complex heart surgery for interatrial communication. “Our children need that encouragement offered by the therapeutic clowns; they came with their balloons and extravagant costumes. They even gave out red noses to make others feel like clowns too,” she noted.

These artists share the dream that in the future hospitals will be cultural/health centers where, along with medical treatments and care, patients will be able to come into contact with art, to create and follow their dreams.

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