North American Activist Calls for Ending Blockade Against Cuba

The coordinator of the National Network of Solidarity with Cuba in the United States, Cheryl Labash, demanded today that her country''s government lifts the blockade it maintains on the island for more than 50 years.

We are here to support the people of the Caribbean nation and corroborate our rejection to the economic, commercial and financial siege against Cuba, Labash told Prensa Latina.

She arrived in Havana as part of the 13th International May Day Solidarity Brigade.

According to the activist, the United States is one of the most represented countries within that solidarity bloc with more than 70 brigade members.

Labash also highlighted the need that the U.S. government returns to Cuba the territory illegally occupied by the naval base in Guantanamo, east of Cuba.

The detention center, opened in 2002 and had about 800 inmates -now 41-, is designated by international organizations as a place where torture and systematic violations of human rights against prisoners were committed.

Speaking about the worsening of Washington's policy toward Havana, Labash expressed her rejection to the interventionist positions by U.S. President, Donald Trump.

The activist will participate with almost 300 brigade members from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Canada in the central activities for the International Workers' Day, an event that includes a massive parade at the Revolution Square in Havana and in the provincial capitals.

Received yesterday at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, in Artemisa, the 13th International May Day Solidarity Brigade will complete an intense two-week agenda in Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Is a Safe Country, Foreign Ministry Ratifies to Canada

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) confirmed to Canada today that Cuba is a safe country, following the decision by that northern nation to withdraw part of its diplomatic staff in this capital.

The Government of Canada adopted that decision after alleging symptoms of ill health by some diplomats last year.

In an official declaration, the MINREX reiterated that the rigorous investigation, carried out by a group of highly qualified experts, did not find any evidence to explain the alleged disorders or any indication of an attack or an incident on Cuban territory.

The study did not reveal any relationship between the described symptoms and sonic or other attacks, the text says.

In that regard, the text explains that the Cuban government respects Canada's decision, but it considers that it is unjustified.

The MINREX ratified that the protection of diplomatic personnel from all countries is guaranteed in Cuba, a stable and healthy nation for its inhabitants and almost five million foreigners who visit the country every year.

  • Published in Cuba

Canadians Nusbaum and Plantinga reach semifinals defeating Cuba

Canadians Aaron Nusbaum and Mike Plantinga upset top seeded Karell Peña and Dasiel Quesada of Cuba with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) victory to reach the men’s semifinals of the first stage of the 2018 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Mike Plantinga’s high blocks and Aaron Nusbaum’s effective defense took the Cuban pair by surprise, limiting their performance to a lower standard than usual.

Another surprise was Josué Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas of Mexico advancing into semifinals with a steady performance while beating Canada-B of Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) in quarterfinals. Gaxiola has earned one silver and two bronze NORCECA medals and Cardenas is a NORCECA newcomer; together they finished fifth last year at the FIVB U-21 World Championship.

United States-A of William Reid Priddy and Troy Field had to use all their energy to beat resilient Rubén Mora/Dany López of Nicaragua coming from behind 2-1 (25-27, 21-15, 15-11). Mora and López had a spectacular performance while Priddy and Field seemed to enjoy the challenge.

Eric Zaun and Edwin Ratledge of United States-B won their quarterfinal match with no problems  to young Dominicans Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo by 2-0 (21-15, 21-15).

Plantinga/Nusbaum (CAN) will meet Gaxiola/Cardenas (MEX) in semfinals. The other semifinal features Priddy/Field against fellow countrymen Zaun/Ratledge.

Men’s semifinal matches are scheduled for 10:30 am (local time) and the gold medal match at 5:30 pm.

Men Results Saturday:

Pool-Play: Pool A: Karell Peña/ Dasiel Quesada (CUB) d Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo (DOM) 2-0 (21-13, 21-11); Pool B: Eric Zaun/Edwin Ratledge (USA-B) d Aaron Nusbaum/ Mike Plantinga (CAN-A) 2-1 (21-91, 15-21, 18-16); Pool C: Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky (CAN-B) d Luis García/Erick Garrido (GUA) 2-0 (21-19, 21-18); William Reid Priddy/Troy Field (USA-A) d Germán Osuna/Leonel Garza (MEX-B) 2-0 (21-15, 21-11); Pool D: Josue Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas (MEX-A) d Rubén Mora/Dany López (NCA) 2-0 (21-15, 21-14); Yasutaka Sanay/Franky Hernández (MEX-C) d Jesse Parham/Casey Santamaria (CAY) 2-0 (21-9, 21-13); Loser’s Play-Off: Germán Osuna/Leonel Garza (MEX-B) d Yasutaka Sanay/Franky Hernández (MEX-C) 2-0 (18-21, 21-19, 16-14);  Luis García/Erick Garrido (GUA) d Jesse Parham/Casey Santamaria (CAY)  2-0 (21-7, 21-10); QF1: Aaron Nusbaum/ Mike Plantinga (CAN-A) d Karell Peña/ Dasiel Quesada (CUB) 2-0 (21-15, 21-15); QF2: Josue Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas (MEX-A) d Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky (CAN-B) 2-0 (21-15, 21-18); QF3: William Reid Priddy/Troy Field (USA-A) d Rubén Mora/Dany López (NCA) 2-1 (25-27, 21-15, 15-11); QF4: Eric Zaun/Edwin Ratledge (USA-B) d  Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo (DOM) 2-0 (21-15, 21-15).

  • Published in Sports

Cuba Girls Development Camp set for ninth year

OTTAWA - Warm weather while playing your favourite sport in a country where the game is practically a religion, and in the month of February! That will be the reality for 25 lucky female baseball players next week when the annual Girls Baseball Development Camp gets underway in Havana, Cuba.

For the ninth consecutive year, Women’s National Team manager André Lachance is bringing a talented group of young players to the baseball hotbed for a week of baseball and a cultural experience that is equally important as the on field component.

“I said it every year, but a key to this trip being so successful is the overall experience that the participants receive,” he said. “On the baseball field, athletes are dealing with different weather and playing outdoors for the first time in months. Off the field, it’s an opportunity to travel to a new country and experience a different culture which is a first for many.”

Noémie Lapointe (Laval, Que.) is returning to Cuba after attending last year’s camp and recalls realizing how much the sport of baseball means to the Cuban people and their culture.

“I quickly understood that the passion and the need to play baseball isn’t just located in one place or one heart,” she said. “In fact, I love how everyone there seems so devoted to that sport. It brings out an energy that I love to be around.”

Lapointe used last year’s camp in Cuba and a strong performance at the Women’s Invitational in Windsor later in the year to earn an invite to the Canada-USA Development Program in Washington, DC where she got her first taste of the Women’s National Team program.

She’s excited for the 2018 season, a World Cup year for the National Team, and wants to use the upcoming experience in Cuba to help reach her goals.

“My number one goal (for 2018) is to make Team Canada and participate in the World Cup,” explained Lapointe. “I’m using the trip to Cuba to see where my progress is at right now and to see what I still need to work on in order to meet my goals.”

A teammate with Lapointe during the Canada-USA Development Program last summer, Vancouver’s Emma March will be heading to Cuba for the first time and is excited about the prospect of playing baseball in a foreign country.

“Hopefully this trip to Cuba will not only give me a great opportunity to compete against strong Cuban players but also give me more practice for the upcoming season,” said March. “I believe that competing against other girls around the world will make me stronger and more prepared to face other girls in Canada.”

Like Lapointe, March got her feet wet with the National Team program in 2017 and has her sights set on taking the next step with the program this year.

“My goal for the 2018 season is to make it onto the Women’s National Team. I’d love to have the opportunity to play with them (at the World Cup) in Florida and I believe that hard work, practice and this Cuba camp will help me achieve my goal.”

While the baseball aspect is really important for March, her hope is to soak in as much about the Cuban baseball culture as she can while also form new relationships with her Cuban counterparts.

“Seeing as it is my first time traveling to Cuba to participate in this camp I hope to get a new perspective of what baseball means to other girls around the world and the difference in the lives of girls who enjoy playing baseball in Cuba and in Canada,” added March. “I hope to meet some Cuban players to understand what it’s like playing in Cuba and the struggles they may face being a girl.

"I hope to come out of the trip with new insight into the meaning of girls baseball, I’d love to make new friends and come home more grateful for the life I have in Canada, how lucky I am for having many opportunities to play the sport I love and never take them for granted.”

It will be a busy schedule for the 25 athletes, coaches and support staff attending the camp with daily games, practices and off field activities planned.

Baseball Canada will be providing updates throughout the week via our Twitter account: twitter.com/baseballcanada.

Cuba Development Camp Roster

Sena Catterall, Québec
Kassie Orr, British Columbia
Alexis Galloway, Alberta
Elizabeth Gilder, British Columbia
Danielle Smith, Newfoundland
Isabella Bortolotto, British Columbia
Celia Leaf, British Columbia
Alexane Fournier, Québec
Sophy Gagné, Québec
Olivia Sheldon, Manitoba
Sarah Moir, Manitoba
Ellie MacAulay, Nova Scotia
Miya Waldron, Ontario
Caitlin Tomotsugu, Ontario
Arianne Lévesque, Québec
Bridget Kelly, Québec
Lily Susin, Ontario
Tara Taylor, Ontario
Emma March, British Columbia
Lochlahn March, Ontario
Allison Schroder, British Columbia
Noémie Lapointe, Québec
Erica Ahad, Québec
Meghan Jasmin, Québec
Maylee Matchett, Ontario

Coaches

André Lachance, Québec
Aaron Myette, British Columbia
Kate Psota, Ontario
Wayne Parro, Ontario
Charles St-Laurent, Québec
Chloé Gagnon, Québec

  • Published in Sports

Cuban minister urges sun-seeking Canadians to return following hurricane Irma

OTTAWA — Cuba’s tourism minister says his country has fully rebounded from the ravages of hurricane Irma and says potentially reluctant Canadian sun seekers will find new and improved hotels and beaches.

Manuel Marrero stressed that message during a visit last week to Toronto, where he met tour operators and travel writers.

Tourism is crucial to Cuba’s economy and the million Canadians who visit the island annually are the leading customers. That’s why Canada was Marrero’s first foreign trip after Irma struck Cuba last month, shuttering hotels.

Almost 944,000 Canadians have visited Cuba this year and Marrero said his government is determined to hit the one million mark before years’ end.

“They will find the hotels better than before and all their friends and workers there are very enthusiastic and welcoming,” Marrero said in an interview conducted in Spanish through a translator.

“The best help that Canadians can give to the Cubans is travelling as tourists so that the hotels realize their potential and we can get back to normal.”

The powerful hurricane, which happened to coincide with a bizarre spat with the United States over mysterious sonic attacks on its diplomats in Havana, has driven down visits to Cuba.

The September hurricane was Category 5 strength when it strafed northern Cuba, leaving 10 people dead.

Irma flooded the streets of Cuba’s capital, Havana, and tore through seaside resorts on its northern coast — many of them popular tourist destinations for Canadians. It cut across Cuba’s northern keys, where newer, foreign-built resorts have been become popular destinations in recent years.

Marrero said most of the damage to hotels and tourist sites has been repaired and he expected full access to locations in the northern keys to be fully restored by mid-November, in time for the start of the high tourist season. All Cubans have full access to water and electricity, he added.

More than a dozen new hotel construction projects were put on hold so that their materials — filled shipping containers already on the island — could be used to repair existing properties, he said.

Cuba’s sandy pristine beaches, he said, are even better because Irma’s fierce winds whipped more sand towards shore.

Longtime Cuba watchers say they have no doubt the country can make good on its promises to Canadian tourists.

“That sounds exactly right to me,” said Mark Entwistle, managing partner with Acasta Cuba Capital and a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba. “Pivot to consolidate existing hotel inventory and then, when they have reversed any losses to the tourism industry, return as quickly as possible to the aggressive construction program for new hotels and services.”

Arch Ritter, a Cuba expert at Carleton University, said Cuba’s emergency response capabilities are first rate and have withstood the test of past disasters. “I would be quite confident that by December things will be pretty much back to normal.”

Irma was the worst hurricane to hit Cuba since hurricane Dennis killed 16 people in 2005.

If Cuba doesn’t get the Canadians back, it would be dire, especially given that American numbers have plummeted due to the diplomatic row between the Trump administration and Havana, Ritter said.

The U.S. State Department has issued an alert that warns travellers to avoid Cuba because of the unexplained sonic attacks that have affected 22 of its embassy staff in Havana.

The U.S. hasn’t blamed the Cuban government for the attacks, but has accused it of not doing enough to protect diplomats on its soil.

Marrero said the Cuban government has not received a single complaint from a tourist or a tour operator about the sonic phenomenon.

“As for the unilateral position of the United States, our foreign affairs minister has responded that it was a hasty decision.”

The bizarre incident is completely “out of sync with everything I know about how the Cubans operate,” said Entwistle.

“There is zero reliable evidence that foreign tourists have in any way been exposed to whatever this is.”

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Participation in Can-Am Baseball League

Canadian officials will arrive in Cuba to evaluate the participation of a Cuban baseball team in the independent Can-Am League and the possible Cuban ballplayers hiring.

The Can-Am league delegation is headed by its Vice President and owner of Quebec Capitals baseball team, Michel Laplante, who will meet tomorrow and on Thursday with some directors of the National Baseball Department and National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER).

At the meeting, Cuban baseball team's second-year participation in the Can-Am baseball league, which is played in several Canadian and US cities, will be debated.

Likewise, the issue on hiring Cuban ballplayers will be also dealt with due to the interest of some Can-Am teams, as happened in previous edition.

On the other hand, among the newest issues they highlighted the invitation of an Under-18 baseball team to a youth championship, based in Quebec.

Both parties will hold a press conference on Friday at Adolfo Luque Hall of the Latinoamericano Ballpark.

In previous season, in addition to the Cuban baseball team which had 11 wins and nine losses, a great deal of Cuban ballplayers were hired and included in different Canadian baseball teams´ lineup.

For this season, Can-Am Baseball League is scheduled to begin from May 18 to September 17, with the participation of some other international baseball teams.

  • Published in Sports

Protests in Canada Due to Inauguration of Trump Tower

Ottawa, Feb 28 (Prensa Latina) Hundreds of activists from Canadian social organizations will participate in a protest against the opening of a building with the name of US President Donald Trump in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia.

The two eldest sons of the US tycoon, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., will attend the inauguration of the 69-storey, 360-million-dollar building that combines a hotel and private residences, and in fact, does not belong to the US president, but he granted the license to use his trademark.

Two groups of protesters will express their rejection to visitors around the site: Resist 4 Peace and Occupy Vancouver, who will act from different parts of the city, where 48 percent of its residents are immigrants.

According to Councilman Kerry Jan, the presence of the building in the center of the city is a monument to racism, intolerance, and ridicule, while Mayor Gregor Robertson said he would not attend the ceremony as a sign of rejection of this work.

The local Police Department (VPD) has already had experiences in confronting several demostrations against Trump in recent months and a strong presence of law enforcement is expected during these activities.

Adam Palmer, VPD's chief, said the entity is in touch with the Secret Service, Trump Tower staff, and the organizers of the marches to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

British Columbia Prime Minister Christy Clark said the name does not represent the values of the city, whose inhabitants and authorities support the defense of the environment and a tolerant attitude toward drug use.

  • Published in World

Canada to Host Victims of Persecution, Terror and War

Ottawa, Jan 30 (Prensa Latina) Canada will welcome people fleeing persecution, terror and war regardless of their faith, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Diversity is our strength, Trudeau said this weekend in his Twitter account.

These statements contrast with the executive order of US President Donald Trump, which prohibits the entry of refugees to this country for four months.

According to the head of state, the measure, signed yesterday and that also makes it impossible to issue visas to citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days , aims to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.

'We want to make sure we are not admitting the threats our soldiers are fighting abroad,' the Republican president said at the Pentagon's headquarters.

Trump's disposition accumulates inside and outside the United States a growing rejection by politicians, the media, intellectuals, celebrities and ordinary citizens.

  • Published in World
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