North American Composer Charles Fox to Perform in Cuba

Havana, Jun 19 (Prensa Latina) North American composer and singer Charles Fox, author of the hit Killing me softly with this song, will give a concert on July 1 at the Gran Teatro de La Habana ''Alicia Alonso'', organizers reported today.

The performance by renowned film and television soundtrack writer Fox, entitled Havana Dreams, is the first stop on a tour of several cities around the world to celebrate 55 years of his artistic career.

Fox will take a tour of his extensive repertoire, accompanied by several generations of local musicians.

Among the guests were Cuban diva Omara Portuondo, who will play Killing me softly with young Cristian Alejandro; trumpeter Juan Kemell, saxophonist and clarinetist Javier Zalba, and violinist Rafael Lay, director of the Aragón orchestra, among others, according to a statement sent by the organizers to Prensa Latina.

Prior to the concert, Fox will meet with artists from the island on June 24 at the Cultural Center on 31 and 2 Streets, located in Vedado Havana, and three days later at Fábrica de Arte Cubano.

Fox's professional career began in the second half of the 1960s with arrangements for musicians from different sound fields, and curiously enough, his work for salsa icons Ray Barretto and Tito Puentes stands out at this stage.

However, it is in the composition of soundtracks for film and television that he becomes famous, and under his signature appears the music of the series Love, American Style, Happy Days, and Wonder Woman; and the films The Last American Hero, Foul Play, and The Other Side of the Mountain, among others,

His Grammy winning song Killing me softly with this song put him at the top of the charts, and since 1972, when he composed it, it has been performed by a long list of artists, the best known version being that of American singer Roberta Flack.

Fox is a two-time Emmy Award winner, nominated for an Oscar on an equal number of occasions, and a three-time Golden Globe winner, and has been a member of the Composer's Hall of Fame since 2004.

  • Published in Culture

Indian President to Talk to Cuban Autrhorities

Havana, Jun 19 (Prensa Latina) Indian President Ram Nath Kovind will make an official visit to Cuba on June 21 and 22, where he will have a dialogue with national authorities, the Cuban Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

Kovind will arrive in the Caribbean nation for the first time as part of a tour that includes visits to Greece and Suriname.

According to official sources, the President of India will hold talks with the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, after arriving on the island in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where he will pay tribute to the historical leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.

In addition, the visitor is expected to deposit a wreath before the Monument of the National Hero, José Martí, in the capital's Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square).

According to the agenda advanced in New Delhi, Cuba and India will sign several memoranda of understanding in the fields of biotechnology, traditional medicine, medicinal plants and homeopathy.

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Need to save coral reefs

Flood damage would double without coral reefs, proves study

Loss of coral reefs around the world would double the damage from coastal flooding, and triple the destruction caused by storm surges, researchers said today.

Coupled with projected sea level rise driven by global warming, reef decline could see flooding increase four-fold by century’s end, they reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Without coral to help absorb the shock, a once-in-a-century cyclone would wreak twice the havoc, with the damage measured in the tens of billions of dollars, the team calculated.

“Coral reefs serve as natural, submerged breakwaters that reduce flooding by breaking waves and reducing wave energy,” said Michael Beck, lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy research and environmental group, and a professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

“Unfortunately, we are already losing the height and complexity of shallow reefs around the world, so we are likely already seeing increases in flood damages along many tropical coasts,” he told AFP.

Coral is also highly sensitive to spikes in water temperature, which have become sharper and more frequent with climate change.

Global coral reefs risk catastrophic die-off if Earth’s average surface temperature increases two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, earlier research has shown.

Combining coastal flooding and economic models, the new study calculated - country by country - the value of coral reefs as a barrier against storm-related wreckage.

Globally, seaside flooding is estimated to cause nearly USD 4 billion dollars (3.4 billion Euros) a year in damages.

With the erosion of the top metre (three feet) of coral reefs worldwide, that figure rises to USD 8 billion, Beck and his colleagues found.

“The topmost living corals will die and can break off very quickly,” said Beck. The countries most at risk from coral reef loss are Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Cuba, each of which could avoid USD 400 million in damage per year if reefs are maintained.

Saudi Arabia, the United States, Taiwan and Vietnam would also become significantly more vulnerable to flooding with severe coral erosion. “When we consider the devastating impact of tropical storms in just the past few years - Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Typhoon Haiyan - the effects would be much worse without coral reefs,” Beck said.AFP

Sunrise Airways Poised To Expand Services To Cuba

Port-au-Prince , Jun 18 (Prensa Latina) Sunrise Airways plans today to expand its trade routes with Cuba as part of the One Caribbean initiative, which plans to make Haiti a regional center.

Since 2012, the airline has been promoting the concept of safe, reliable and comfortable air transportation at an attractive price, and in the last two years has experienced a growth in the number of passengers from 69,000 in 2016 to 140,000 in 2017, with a projection of 200,000 this year.

According to the president of Sunrise Airways, Philippe Bayard, the excellent historical relations between Haiti and Cuba go back 200 years and have been a determining factor when choosing destinations in Cuba.

'We started flying in April 2014 with a Jetstream 32 (19 seats) to Santiago from Port-au-Prince and we operate 11 flights a week with an Airbus A320 (150 seats) to three destinations, Santiago, Camagüey and Havana,' the executive said.

By 2019, the airline plans to open two more routes in Santa Clara and Holguín, in Cuba, Kignston in Jamaica, and later on Santo Domingo and Curacao will join.

'We began talks with the Cuban Aviation Authority a month ago to establish an agreement between Cubana de Aviación and Sunrise Airways. This is an important step for us in line with our ultimate long-term goal of connecting the Caribbean directly or through a partnership between regional airlines: One Caribbean.

Bayard's goal is ambitious, to make Haiti the center of a system of feeding routes within the Caribbean, which will support the country's continued growth by stimulating trade and tourism.

According to the executive, there is an excessive dependence on the service provided by U.S. operators, particularly American Airlines, which is used as a distribution point for other areas in the region.

However, Bayard notes, the choice of Port-au-Prince are a bit premature, even with the new connections with Cuba and Santo Domingo, because Haiti's airport infrastructure is totally inadequate and unsuitable for mass market transit.

He also highlighted the excessive level of ticket and price taxes and the high cost of aviation fuel, among the highest in the region, as major disadvantages to the development of the aviation market in the Caribbean.

In 2018 the airline will invest in technology and a substantial change in accounting systems, website and booking systems.

'We gauge how technology is important today in the workflow to gain productivity at all levels of the customer experience. This is why we will limit the opening of new destinations in 2018. Only two in progress: Curacao Santo Domingo and Santo Domingo Havana. To open them, we will soon receive a new plane,' Bayard concluded.

  • Published in Cuba

Fernando Gonzalez: ‘To strengthen the links of friendship around the world, that is our role’

CUBAN Five hero Fernando Gonzalez may have spent 15 years in US prisons, but he wears his sacrifice lightly.

Along with the rest of the Five, Gonzalez was working in Florida monitoring Cuban exile groups planning terrorist attacks on his homeland when he was arrested in 1998. Like them, he spent 17 months “in the hole,” solitary confinement, before being convicted in a trial that drew international condemnation and locked up until February 27 2014.

Miami-based terrorists have killed thousands of Cubans since the 1960s in attacks such as that orchestrated by Luis Posada Carriles that brought down Cubana Flight 455 in 1976, killing 73 people.

Infiltrating such groups was clearly a dangerous mission, but Gonzalez says it “wasn’t hard” to decide to go when he was asked.

Born in 1963 and a proud “child of the revolution,” he served with Cuban troops defending the progressive Angolan government from Unita rebels in 1987-89.

He was with troops moving towards the border with Namibia — then occupied by apartheid South Africa, which was intervening on Unita’s side — at the time of the great battle of Cuito Canavale to the east, a victory credited by Nelson Mandela, among others, with the withdrawal of South African troops from Angola and which played its part in securing Namibian independence and even the final defeat of apartheid itself.

“When I returned to Cuba I was 26. I was asked if I was willing to go to the US and work on anti-terrorist activities.

“I knew about the historic terrorism against Cuba, the lives lost in attacks on our people and our embassies. I said: ‘All right, if you think I can do it, I’m willing’.”

He is not bitter about his arrest, though he notes that the FBI were “not sincere” in dealings with the Cuban government when asking to share information on terrorist cells in high-level exchanges that took place in 1998.

“The attitude of Cuba was to share information, though not, of course, its source,” he says. “But the FBI were already aware of the source. They were not transparent. Two months later we were arrested.”

The 17 months in “the hole” were “an effort to break us,” he acknowledges when I ask what kept him going over 15 years in jail.

“But I had a conviction that what we had done was right, that there was nothing wrong in saving lives or defending people — not just Cubans but people all over the world, because tourists were killed in attacks.

“And I didn’t take it personally. I knew the US had nothing against us personally. It could be Fernando Gonzalez behind bars or anybody else. What was happening was an expression of US hostility to Cuba, not to me.

“That perspective helped me cope — that it wasn’t about me and what happened to me was not the most important thing. Our sacrifice was part of the course of history, part of something much bigger.”

Gonzalez is effusive in his thanks to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and friends in this country who wrote more letters in support of the Five than any other. International solidarity, rather than any serious change in policy by the Barack Obama presidency, was what secured their eventual release, he believes.

“The Obama concessions were simply because Washington concluded that their current policy wasn’t getting them the result they wanted, so they looked at achieving their aim in a different way,” he says.

“In Cuba we were happy to see any improvement. We don’t gain anything from their hostility. We just want to be left alone.

“There was some improved co-operation on law enforcement, fighting drug smuggling, a few changes. But the blockade stayed in place.

“There was more rhetoric about lifting it than any real effort. Now Donald Trump is trying to roll back what advances were made.”

But following the historic meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, could there be hope of a similar easing of tensions with Cuba?

“Well,” he muses. “It’s very positive that Trump and Kim have met. It’s good for peace. It’s good for the Korean peninsula and the region.

“But it’s ironic when combined with increased aggression in Latin America. I hope it teaches the US that, if they are willing to negotiate with another country, why not Cuba where the issues are much less complex?”

But the present reality is almost the opposite. “The left has been losing ground in Latin America, that’s obvious,” he says, noting the congressional coups that removed left-wing presidents in Paraguay and Brazil, the right’s victory in Argentina, the current unrest orchestrated against the Nicaraguan authorities and the repeated bids to overturn the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

“When these countries were moving left, the US didn’t sit and wait. They began to develop a counter-offensive.

“What we’re seeing now is an offensive by the centres of imperialism, most important of which is Washington.

“They always find local actors, sectors of society who for reasons of self-interest are willing to work with the US, but the strategy comes from the centre.

“This didn’t start with Trump. As you say, his rhetoric is more hostile — openly talking of military action against Venezuela, for example. But the reality is the same.”

Gonzalez’s role as president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship and Solidarity sees him work with 2,000-odd organisations in 155 countries that promote solidarity with the socialist country as well as co-ordinate Cuba’s own solidarity to other countries, as expressed in medical missions, emergency responses and the many other acts of humanity that make this Caribbean island loom so large on the world stage. He was also elected to Cuba’s parliament in March.

“To strengthen those links of friendship around the world, that is our role,” he says, “as well as to campaign on political causes — a free Palestine, an independent Puerto Rico.”

This work is so important to him because of the role solidarity played in their release.

“The Cuba Solidarity Campaign played a key role and today” (I met him at the CSC AGM) “showed the organisation and planning that goes into this important work on ending the blockade, putting pressure on the US to end its occupation of Guantanamo.

“It is well organised and strong. You fought hard for us and in part that is why we were released — a victory for you as well as us.

“I include the Morning Star in that for publishing information about our case other papers wouldn’t touch. Reading it in prison showed us we were not alone and, when we passed the paper on, many inmates would come back to us and say: ‘Oh, we didn’t know that about Cuba.’ It played a very positive role.

“I want to thank the trade unions too for showing us such support – Unison, Unite, RMT, the National Union of Teachers and others.”

As George Galloway later tells the Cuba rally following the AGM, it feels odd to be thanked by a man whose sacrifice puts most of us to shame.

The Cuban revolution remains a beacon to socialists and opponents of imperialism everywhere, a living example that another world is possible. Gonzalez and the rest of the Five paid a terrible price for their work to protect their people and their revolution. It’s we who should be thanking them.

Fernando Gonzalez addresses the Solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela: No to Trump fringe meeting at Unison conference on Tuesday. Meet in Auditorium 2, Brighton Centre at 5.15pm.

  • Published in Cuba

ROMANIA-CUBA: DIALOGUE OF FRIENDSHIP AND COOPERATION

On June 14, 2018 the presentation and cooperation meeting between Professor Dr. Anton Caragea, President Director-General of Institute of International Relations and Economic Cooperation and H.E. Roberto César Hamilton MAGAÑA-Ambassador of Cuba has taken place.
The bilateral discussion, has marked the debut of mandate for H.E. Roberto César Hamilton MAGAÑA and H.E. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea, has officially presented the congratulations for the start of mandate of the new ambassador noting the Romanian side hopes for a fruitful cooperation and also has marked the official congratulations for the new Head of State of The Republic of Cuba: H.E. Miguel Díaz-Canel — President of Council of State and Council of Ministers.

The election of the new Cuban leader is a testimony of the desire of Cuba to continue on the path of revolution and to foster new development ways while maintaining the legacy and conquest of the Revolution, underlined Professor Dr. Anton Caragea.

Our desires for bilateral cooperation and consolidated relations expressed in our official message from 2017 addressed to Comrade Raul Castro are still present and representing our vision in the bilateral relations stated the President Director-General of Institute of International Relations and Economic Cooperation.

Prof. Dr. Anton Caragea express his amicable fillings and friendly interest towards the recent evolution`s in Cuba, that are consolidating Cuba`s economic development, open society and are creating a sense of perfect unity between the people of Cuba and the government. Cuba`s revolutionary transition under Commander Raul Castro supervision and President Miguel Díaz-Canel guidance and leadership is witnessed with sympathy and interest in Romania, emphasized Professor Dr. Anton Caragea.

H.E. Ambassador Roberto César Hamilton MAGAÑA expressed his gratitude for the good wishes related to his new mandate and presented the latest achievements in bilateral relations :developing cultural relations and building new bridges of understanding between Romania and Cuba.

The parties had appreciated that between Romanian and Cuba there are large area of common interests , designed to forge a good understanding between the two nations .

The Romania- Cuba relationship must be an example for a better relation between Romania and Latin America .

If in the last decade the bilateral dialogue with this area was faltering, now it is a auspicious moment for reconstructing and rebuilding this framework of dialogue and friendship.

Marking the opportunity Professor Dr. Anton Caragea stress the significance for the new Ambassador: Roberto César Hamilton MAGAÑA, to place accent on the cooperation in the fields of hospitality and tourism promotion, taking full advantage of the Romanian Presidency of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, an unique occasion to foster Cuban tourism potential and international image across the continent.

Europe and Cuba can foster an impressive cultural and touristic cooperation pressed Professor Dr. Anton Caragea.

The dialogue had continued on concrete aspects and analyses of economic, political and cultural bilateral relations and on ways of fostering this dialogue on to the future .

The discussion led the foundations of continuing the dialogue and fostering the relations between Romania and Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba's Larduet makes it hat-trick of wins as FIG World Challenge Cup in Guimarães concludes

Cuba's Manrique Larduet won the men’s vault and parallel bars events to increase his gold medal tally to three on the final day of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) World Challenge Cup in Guimarães in Portugal.

Larduet, the winner of yesterday’s men’s rings final, firstly triumphed in the vault after posting a score of 14.675 points at the Pavilhao Multiusos de Guimaraes.

The double world medallist then went on to top the parallel bars podium with 15.100 points.

Guatemala’s Jorge Vega Lopez took the vault silver medal with 14.575 points, while Japan’s Takumi Sato came away with the bronze with 14.350.

The runner-up in the parallel bars was Romania’s Andrei Vasile Muntean with 14.600 points, 0.250 more than third-placed Henji Mboyo of Switzerland.

The men's high bar saw Hungary's David Vecsernyes prevail with 14.050 points.

Cuba's Randy Leru finished second with 14.000 points, while Mexico's Kevin Cerda came third with 13.650.

Great Britain’s Maisie Methuen claimed victory in the women's balance beam and floor exercise ©Getty Images
Great Britain’s Maisie Methuen claimed victory in the women's balance beam and floor exercise ©Getty Images

Today's two women's events were won by Great Britain’s Maisie Methuen, who claimed the balance beam and floor exercise gold medals.

The 16-year-old came out on top in the balance beam with 12.850 points.

Canadians Laurie Denommee and Isabela Onyshko finished second and third respectively after managing the same score of 12.600 points.

In the floor exercise, Methuen edged Onyshko with both ending up on 13.100 points. 

Denommee had to settle for the bronze medal on this occasion with 13.000 points. 

The next leg of the FIG World Challenge Cup is due to take place in Mersin next month.

Action in the Turkish city is scheduled to run from July 6 to 8.

  • Published in Sports

Cuba Wins Award at Beijing's Tourist Expo, BITE 2018

Beijing, Jun 17 (Prensa Latina) Cuba won today the prize for Best Organizing Team in the 15th edition of the Beijing International Tourism Fair (BITE 2018), which was held over three days with almost a thousand national and international participants.

The island's stand presented offers from Gaviota Group, Habanos S.A., Havana Club International S.A. and Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos (Cuban Medical Services Marketer) S.A.

Representatives also included Chinese agencies with business in the Caribbean country.

The stand promoted several travel packages at BITE 2018, including renowned rum brands such as Havana Club and Mulata, honey and medicines from BioCubaFarma.

The Cuban delegation highlighted the presence of a twister who prepared for the public coveted cigars such as Cohiba, Partagas and Monte Cristo.

Since the opening of the event last Friday morning, the Cuban stand has been one of the most visited for its variety and authenticity.

Last year, it won the popularity award for high visitor numbers.

The economic-commercial attaché of the Cuban embassy, Yohanely Savigne, told Prensa Latina they have been successfully participating in BITE for years and have come to this edition with pre-established appointments with travel agencies from China.

'It is evidence of interest in the Cuban market in Latin America and the Caribbean,' Savigne added.

The event brought together Chinese tour operators from Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Thailand, Ivory Coast and Germany, among other countries, as well as companies from other sectors linked to the touristic industry.

Companies dedicated to providing health care, food, robotics, telecommunications, manufacturing, sports and handicrafts attended the expo.

  • Published in Cuba
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