Interferon, a Cuban drug with proven efficacy and safety

Havana, Feb 15 (Prensa Latina) A Cuban drug known as Interferon maintains its efficacy and safety to treat viral diseases such as hepatitis B and C, HIV-AIDS, dengue and Herpes zoster.

Developed in 1986 by a team of researchers from the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), the 2B alpha human recombinant Interferon has benefited thousands of Cuban patients since its introduction in the national healthcare system more than three decades ago.

The drug prevents viral multiplication within cells and has also been used to treat different kinds of cancer.

Chinese medical authorities' decision to use it to fight the coronavirus resulted from the general way in which this virus reduces the natural production of interferon in the human body, Granma newspaper reported.

The Cuban drug can make up for that deficiency by strengthening the immune system of patients suffering from the infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

As a result of a technological transfer from the CIGB to China in 2003, the Chinese-Cuban joint venture ChangHeber was established in the city of Changchun.

A decade later, a modern plant was inaugurated there to manufacture biotechnological products created in Cuba, including the 2B alpha human recombinant Interferon.

Granma noted that the drug received the 2012 National Technological Innovation Award granted by the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, and the 2013 National Health Award.

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Universidad 2020 Congress winds up with renewed commitment to 2030 Agenda

Havana, February 14 (RHC) The 12th International Congress University 2020 is concluding this Friday in Havana with the commitment of its more than two thousand delegates to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

In five days of debates at the Havana Convention Center, the importance of the goals of this global development plan approved by the United Nations General Assembly and signed by 193 member countries was recognized.

Representatives from 50 countries shared good practices, experiences, and outlined the challenges facing their universities and nations, in most cases affected by the economic crisis that directly affects education worldwide.

On the closing day, there will be the panel 'Martí, Che and Fidel. The university and sustainable development', with a special presentation by Doctor Eduardo Torres Cuevas, director of the  Marti's Program Office and president of the José Martí Cultural Society.

The former rector of the University of Havana and former Minister of Higher Education of Cuba, Dr. Juan Vela Valdés,  is also scheduled in the program.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
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«Youth» in Cuba

"Cuban youth is at the center of all processes, is consolidated and launched into the future and we are confident in its skill to advance in the construction of socialism," said José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), when speaking - according to the report of the Cuban News Agency - at the Closing Assembly XI Congress of the Young Communist League in Sancti Spiritus, held on the last day of January.

But how is that Cuban youth? Or rather ask: What are these youths like? Because the diversity of this population group demands it. What are the trends and challenges that currently identify them?

Before the mirror

Taking a look around in any Cuban public space, one of the first singularities that stands out is the abundance of elder people.

Demographic statistics support this observation. On this Island, only 33% of its inhabitants are 24 years old or younger and within a decade, by 2030, the young population of this geography will be less than a third of a total: 29.2%, according to projections of the National Office for Statistics and Information.

This is the case in Cuba while in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, about half of the population is 24 years old or younger.

It might not be easy to be young among so many elders because, this single demographic condition, means for young people to take on roles and dynamics that previous generations did not carry so much weight on their shoulders: caring for the elderly, living in families where adults are majority, as well as entering jobs and political spaces where adults, increasingly older, with mind frame and behaviors of their respective generations prevail.

On top of this we must add the new socio-economic realities that appeared on the Island, based on the coexistence of state-owned, non-state, and cooperative management. This diversification, in correspondence with the update of the Cuban economic and social model, has opened new forms of employment and jobs «that have a special impact on the daily practices of youth, it creates new references and goals, and generate tensions for the economic and social dynamics, in which youth groups are increasingly becoming important performers ».

Thus is summarized in the research "The Cuban Youth in the Context of Updating the Economic and Social Model", by a group of experts lead by Dr. María Isabel Domínguez, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Group of Studies on Youth of the Psychological and Sociological Research Center of CITMA.

Included in the volume Youth and Childhood in the Current Latin American and Caribbean Scenario, published by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, this research has served as source for this article in its entirety.

Information and communications technologies (ICT), although some adults may still underestimate them with pejorative expressions such as "those little devices," are also an issue that is equally decisively impacting on how young people are in Cuba.

As backbone of the computerization of society, ICTs are increasingly winning ground on the Island, and the uses given by some youth sectors, according to the aforementioned study, generate new ways of assuming and producing culture, of social organization and participation, they reconfigure power relations and certain citizen practices.

Foreign and domestic migration from the national territory, remittances, increased hostilities on behalf of the U.S. government towards Cuba also sign the life of young people in Cuba.

As a large part of Cubans under 24 years old study, also transformations that have taken place in the educational panorama such as those related to the continuity of studies, also mark the course and impact in that difficult task of being young.

In particular, the relevance given by the country, in response to the economic needs, to university studies with a technical and agricultural profile, as well as favoring technical or trade education as a continuity of studies for high school graduates, has generated «contradictions between motivations and personal goals of youngsters and the social needs and demands”, quoted the aforementioned research.

On the field of employment and work, on the other hand, also raises new changes and new visions for young Cubans: more than the third of freelancers in Cuba are young, and, as a trend, their insertion into these spaces have been faster than that of the adult population.

It’s not a minor fact that increases the proportion of women in non-state sector positions associated with the so-called traditional gender roles such as food processing and sales, hired for domestic work and others, thus reproducing gender inequities.

All in all and as a trend, «there are two great options for youth coexist regarding jobs. On the one hand, state employment, which offers greater chances for professional development and improvement, as well as labor and security guarantees, but with salaries that often do not cover the needs and, on the other hand, private, better paid employment, with greater autonomy to develop their own work strategy, although many of the activities involve the underuse of knowledge and skills, as well as the emergence of new scenarios with lower labor guarantees ... ».

The research mentioned also points out how «for many young people, self-employment has been their first work experience».

The Moment is Yours

What’s been said so far are just pieces of the complex and beautiful picture that make up young Cubans.

Colors and hues are so many in this population segment, that it would be impossible to summarize them. However, although heterogeneity is today one of its distinctive features, it’s possible to ensure that they are children of their time, marked by a dialogue of learning and reciprocal growth among the generations that today live in this Island.

Young Cubans know that the economic development of this country, and the future of every work built by their parents and grandparents, is in their hands today. That’s why the first secretary of the Young Communist League, Susely Morfa González, recently assured: «This is our moment and nobody can take it away from us».

"They are our inspiration and confidence in the future," the Cuban president highlighted at the International Youth Day. The confidence in that guarantee of continuity was the one that walked with Raul and President Miguel Díaz-Canel last January 28th, among a sea of
​​torches that, in youthful hands, paid tribute to Martí on the anniversary of his birth.

Putin accepts invitation to visit Cuba

Russia's President Vladimir Putin accepted the invitation of his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel to visit the country, stated Russian Ambassador to Havana, Andrei Guskov.

'Indeed, the invitation to visit Cuba that was sent to President Vladimir Putin was accepted,' the diplomat told the Russian publication Sputnik.

The date for this trip 'will be studied according to the agenda of the head of State, as well as the calendar of bilateral contacts of high and maximum level,' he added.

During his second visit to Russia at the end of October, the Cuban president invited his Russian peer to visit Cuba. President Putin assured he would absolutely take advantage of this invitation.

Moscow and Havana have a political-economic relation described by their top leaders as strategic, which has deepened in recent years, with strong Russian investments in several vital sectors of the Cuban economy, deemed the news media.

Russia is Cuba's second largest trading partner in Europe, and the fifth in Havana's trade with the world, Sputnik added.

Ambassador Guskov commented on the cooperation programs between the two countries, which he considered beneficial for both sides.

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Cuba to call national soccer players contracted in foreign leagues

Cuba will convene national soccer players contracted in foreign leagues to participate in the next FIFA competition or the elimination round for the 2021 Gold Cup, this was reported at the end of the Association Congress of this discipline in the island.

According to the Radio Habana Cuba website, the governing body is one step away from admitting in its absolute team the Cuban players signed up in professional clubs without the protection of the entity, as happened in volleyball and handball in 2018 and 2019.

'We have good experiences', Ariel Sainz, vice president of the Cuban Institute of Sports, told the radio station website. 'There is no organic impediment' that 'players enrolled in foreign leagues can return'.

However, Sainz, who was a former president of the Cuban Volleyball Federation, exposed the need to 'assess their contracts' and 'see if they fit our needs', but approved to make a desired dream by soccer lovers in the Caribbean nation come true.

For its part, national commissioner Oliet Rodriguez said that the call could take place on March 26, day in which teams will hold a friendly match, or when the elimination round for the next edition of the Gold Cup takes place.

So far, the most mentioned soccer players are Onel Hernandez, 27 and a member of the Norwich City football club in England; Marcel Hernandez (30, Club Sport Cartagines, Costa Rica); Christian Joel Sanchez (20, Sporting club of Gijon, Spain), and Carlos Vazquez (19, Athletic club of Madrid, Spain).

  • Published in Sports

Cuban Zayas leads high jump in athletics ranking

The Cuban Luis Enrique Zayas is currently leading the world ranking in the men's high jump within the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) indoor meeting circuit, with a record of 2.33 meters.

Zayas, 2019 Pan American champion in Lima, reached the result in the Banská Bystrica meeting in Slovakia, after twice surpassing his former personal best (2.30) in his second indoor meeting.

The competition on European soil left an excellent sequence for the athlete from the Greatest of Antilles, with consecutive jumps over 2.20, 2.25, 2.31 and 2.33 to ensure first place and place at the top of the universal ranking.

The Cuban player, who will start in the World Youth Championship in 2016, was escorted by Jamal Wilson from Bahamas, owner of a similar 2.33m, but with more mistakes in his competitive line, while the British Tom Gale finished in third place (2.31).

Zayas, finalist in the Doha 2019 outdoor world championship, is one of the main exponents of the Cuban countryside and track on the way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August.

Other important figures of the nation are the discus throwers Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero, the long jumper Juan Miguel Echevarria, the heptathlete Yorgelis Rodriguez, the pole vaulter Yarisley Silva and the triple jumpers Cristian Napoles and Andy Diaz.

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Various activities to mark 60th anniversary of Vietnam-Cuba diplomatic ties

Hanoi welcomes the planning of activities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Vietnam-Cuba diplomatic ties in Hanoi in 2020, Chairman of Hanoi municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung has said.

The Hanoi leader made the statement at the reception for Cuban Ambassador to Vietnam Lianys Torres Rivera on February 13.

Some prominent activities are the Cuban Cultural Days held at King Ly Thai To Statue Square in Hoan Kiem district and the construction of a mosaic picture on Yen Phu ceramic street to promote the Vietnam-Cuba relationship.

Chairman Chung affirmed that the city authorities are willing to support celebrations of the diplomatic ties and proposed the organisation of a photo exhibition showcasing images on the bilateral relations between Vietnam and Cuba.

The Cuban Ambassador said that Hanoi will be the primary location to hold activities in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Vietnam-Cuba diplomatic ties (December 2, 1960-2020).

She noted that the mosaic picture, which is the proposal of the Cuban side, is expected to be inaugurated in late 2020 in the presence of senior Cuban and Hanoi officials.

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The Internet Is Widely Accessible in Cuba. Why Is the US Insisting It Isn’t?

Sitting at an outdoor café, Alian Rojas deftly thumbs the small keyboard on his iPhone as he calls up The New York Times website. Then he shows a reporter how easily he can use WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube.

“I can access any website I want,” says the 30-something tour guide.

Over the past 10 years Cuba has made great progress in internet accessibility. Nevertheless, U.S. government officials, right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami, and conservative human rights groups assert that Cuba intentionally limits internet access.

Freedom House, a conservative think tank, argues that the Cuban government keeps the country technologically backward and censors dissident websites as part of repressing political dissent.

“Cuba remains one of the world’s least connected and most repressive environments for information and communication technologies,” according to a Freedom House report on internet usage.

That claim plays well to those who assume that governments led by communist parties must, by definition, be totalitarian. As Rojas’s ready access to a wide array of sites shows, however, Cuba’s reality is far different.

As part of enforcing the unilateral embargo of Cuba, the U.S. government prohibits Cubans from using hundreds of commercial websites, including Amazon, computer companies and banks. The U.S. government blocks more websites than the Cuban authorities, says John Nichols, a Cuba expert and professor emeritus at Penn State University.

wifi cuba

“The U.S. government has long criticized Cuba for violations of human rights,” he tells Truthout, “yet the U.S. policy response restricting the right of both U.S. and Cuban people to freely communicate via the internet is both hypocritical and counterproductive.”

The Cuban government would like to expand internet usage as part of a plan to develop new computer-related industries. Cuba’s free education system has produced high-caliber computer scientists anxious to compete with their peers worldwide. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who came into office last year, has been promoting computer sciences.

In the early 2010s, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. government agency in charge of propaganda broadcasts to Cuba, smuggled in smart phones loaded with apps called ZunZuneo and Piramideo, which sought to mobilize Cubans to create a Cuban version of the Arab Spring.

“My students started getting text messages on their cell phones with news reports about demonstrations that never happened,” said Nestor Garcia, former head of Cuba’s Mission to the UN. “The U.S. is trying to create a climate to protest against the Cuban government.”

The social media apps failed to spark rebellion, but that didn’t stop the U.S.

In 2018 the Office of Cuba Broadcasting funded creation of phony Facebook pages designed to appear as if they were posted by Cubans discontented with the government. When Russian hackers carried out similar activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, U.S. politicians across the political spectrum expressed outrage.

U.S. actions against Cuba are similar to Russia’s actions against the U.S., according to Nichols. “It’s covert interference in the communications system of another country for the purpose of changing the relationship of the government and people,” he said. “If we do not like others interfering in our domestic affairs, it only makes sense we shouldn’t do the same to other countries.”

Needless to say, the phony Facebook pages also failed to spark an anti-government rebellion.

  • Published in Cuba
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