Mijain Lopez and his scope targeting Barranquilla

In snipers’ terminology, it could be said that Cuban Greco-Roman wrestler Mijain Lopez has only one target in his scope: the Central American and the Caribbean Games to be held July 19-August 3 in Barranquilla.

Believe it or not, Mijain has just won one gold medal in this sort of games and it occurred in Veracruz 2014.

It is certainly surprising that such a high-ranked wrestler (three Olympic gold medals, five gold medals in World Championships) has only grabbed one title in Central American Games.

He participated in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in 2016, but the small number of five wrestlers deprived him of winning the title. Cuba did not participate in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010 due to safety issues with the delegation.

How is everything going so far?

I am focused on my training. Everything is all right and I am injury-free this time. Thus, I can look for the result everyone wants. And this is no other than the first place in my category 130 kg.

I will not face tough opponents in Barranquilla. But I always respect the opponents and I never underestimate them. However, I tell my people I will go out there looking for the gold medal.

How do you feel physically?

I am ready to go. I feel full of energy and vigor. As I have said before, my sole rival is my weight and the rule changes of my sports.

Was it profitable the rest you took last year?

It was great after so many years of sport career. I rejuvenated myself. I feel awesome right now.

After the Central American Games, are you planning to go to the World Championship to be held in Hungary in October?

The technical staff and I decided that it is better that Oscar Pino has another chance. He did pretty well last year by winning a bronze medal in the World Championship held in Paris, France.

Besides, the trainers are doing an excellent job with me. They are focusing on my physical shape for Tokyo 2020 without serious injuries or fatigue.

Last March, in the tournament to get the tickets for Barranquilla, you were involved with your partners giving them advises…Would you like to train in the future?

Yes, I do like it. It would be very special to convey my experiences to younger athletes. I try to teach them everything I have learned as wrestler.

How do you see the wrestling team of Cuba?

The boys are all right. They are enthusiastic and want to win. I am pretty sure we can win the six gold medals in Barranquilla. This goal is perfectly feasible.

You can achieve the feat of winning four gold medals in the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020. What is your comment on this?

I would like to go step by step. But I can say one piece of advice. It is better my opponents train hard as I will go all in to win my gold medal. It will be the perfect closure for my career.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz//CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Now

Cuba Mourns Death Of TV Ballet Icon Iraida Malberti Cabrera, 81

Asked if she would ever retire, Malberti answered: "I am 81 years old and I cannot stop working. If I stop doing it, I will die of sadness."

After dedicating 70 years to the arts and youth education, Cuba's Iraida Malberti Cabrera was laid to rest early Saturday morning at the age of 81 years.

RELATED: Cuba's National Ballet to Perform Don Quixote in US Capital

A ballet icon and director of a national television program, Malberti's contribution to Cuban culture will be remembered with fondness in the arts community.

Just one year after the revolution in 1959, the choreographer joined forces with her brother, Juan Carlos Cremata, to launch the first episode dubbed 'The World of Children,' starring Carmen Solar and Edwin Fernandez.

In an interview with Cuba Debate, Malberti explained: "I started at the age of three years; my mom took me to the ballet. I went through the Supreme Court of Art, I became a Doctor in Pedagogy in 1962.

"I am a teacher of Ballet and Folkloric Dances thanks to an emerging course organized by Chely-Ramona de Saá, and I am a television director."

An art director, choreographer, script writer, filmmaker and mother of three talented children, Malberti made a name for herself with her take on classical ballet and folk dances which debuted on TV. Most notable were the prohgrams 'Tía Tata Tells Stories,' 'The Circus,' 'And Says A Butterfly' and 'When I Grow Up.'

Malberti told Cuba Debate one of her favorite experiences was filming a program which celebrated anniversaries in various countries, entitled 'Variedades' (Varieties).

"We had to investigate tenaciously. Some countries did not have anything written – there was no Internet – we went to and fro, they were the songs and the games of the children in each of the regions.

"Once I had to interview a Scandinavian diplomat. When I arrived he said: 'I do not have anything, I do not have children's songs' and I said: 'But you have to remember when you were a kid.'

"He was a very tall man, a huge fishing rod, very serious. And it was comical, because that man ended up jumping, singing and dancing in his office. He taught me the games and the songs that he himself enjoyed when he was little. And the repetitions several times, comical."

Asked if she would ever retire, Malberti answered: "I am 81 years old and I cannot stop working. If I stop doing it, I will die of sadness."

  • Published in Culture

Cuban President Heads Opening of New Hematology Institute

Havana, Jun 16 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel attended today the opening of a new headquarters of the Institute of Hematology and Immunology, a vital entity for diagnostic studies of these diseases and blood donation programs.

Diaz-Canel was accompanied by the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, who inaugurated that institution on December 2, 1966, when he served as Minister of Public Health.

The event was also attended by the current Cuban Minister and Vice President Roberto Morales and the First Secretary of the PCC Provincial Committee, Lazara Mercedes Lopez.

In the opening remarks, its director Consuelo Macias, after recalling the beginnings of the scientific institution and some of its achievements in 52 years of work, listed some of the main projections for the next five years, including rising by 90 percent the level of cure of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

She also mentioned the introduction of traditional and massive sequencing to identify new diagnoses in hematology and immunological diseases, as well as to achieve more personalized treatments.

Macias considered essential in the sustained work of the center, the creation of the integrated program of the hemophiliac patient, its national registry and the diagnosis of primary immunodeficiency, with multi-center projects extended to the 15 provinces of the nation.

The new entity, which now has 419 employees, has among its main objectives to develop scientific research and technological innovations applied to hematological, immunological, transfusion and regenerative medicine that include clinical trials with biotechnological products.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Releases Film about Life of Che's Guerrilla Fighter

Movie ''Ernesto'', by Japanese filmmaker Junji Sakamoto, will be premiered here today on the occasion 90th anniversary of the birth of the Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla.

In an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, the filmmaker of the Japanese-Cuban co-production explained that he decided to narrate the life of the young Freddy Maymura, a member of Ernesto Guevara's troop, because 'until that moment it was unknown and for him it is necessary to show the history of those who sacrifice themselves to achieve something,' he said.

'I think that it is not necessary to reflect the cinematographic work of famous or well-known people; for me expressing that does not have great meaning, on the contrary, I like the films in which we talk about those who remain hidden in the darkness and are little known,' Sakamoto said.

Those who have made efforts to achieve something in life are worth bringing to light. That's my way of thinking, he said. The Japanese filmmaker expressed it was important for him to tell how was Maymura's existence, a descendant of practically unknown Japanese family, who fought with Che and died in the guerrilla.

Four years ago I knew the story of the young Bolivian, son of Japanese immigrants, and I decided to tell his story. After a deep research, the movie's producer and I agreed to do the work. Then, the selection process came up, said the filmmaker.

During that process, we had not yet decided the story to tell about Freddy's life and we chose the one about his time as a student in Cuba when he began his medical career; that was the initial start of this co-production, which involved filming mostly on the island, he said.

Sakamoto highlighted Che's stage when he visited the city of Hiroshima and Maymura's relationship with the Missile Crisis in 1962, a time reflected in the first scenes of the film.

'During the student period of this young man, there was an event that marked his moments of permanence on the island and it was called the October Crisis, a conflict between the United States, the former Soviet Union and Cuba that month, which has a direct relationship with Feddy,' he said.

At that time, a nuclear war was about to be unleashed in the world and the events were related with the Bolivian guerrilla, because it was when he studied here. That was one of the reasons why we started with those scenes, he said.

The other reason was that, being a Japanese filmmaker, I could perfectly reflect Che's visit to Hiroshima, the director added.

Sakamoto also spoke about the implication of carrying out this project, taking into account the insertion of three very diverse and unequal cultures such as Bolivia, Japan and Cuba.


  • Published in Culture

Cuba-Spain Business Committee Meets in Havana

The Cuba-Spain Business Committee meets from today to tomorrow at the National Hotel in Havana, according to the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba

As part of the program, the presentation of sectoral priorities for the economic and social development of the Cuban economy and the legal framework for Foreign Investment in Cuba by executives of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment is foreseen.

Likewise, the program includes the signing of the Work Program for the period 2018-2019, the holding of business meetings, as well as a visit, scheduled for Friday, to the western Mariel Special Development Zone.

The delegation of the Iberian country is chaired by the Secretary of State for Trade of Spain, Marisa Poncela, and the president of the Spanish section of the bilateral committee, Jaime García-Legaz.

It also includes representatives of more than 70 companies from the energy, tourism, and construction sectors, basically.

On the Cuban side, the event is chaired by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca and the head of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, Orlando Hernández.

The Cuba-Spain Business Committee is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain and in collaboration with the commercial offices of both countries.

  • Published in Cuba

Seventh Meeting of the Cuba-United States Bilateral Commission held in Washington D.C.

On June 14, 2018, the Seventh Bilateral Commission Meeting between Cuba and the United States was held in Washington, D.C. 

Even in the present circumstances, the Commission remains as an official dialogue forum for the direct discussion of differences and the follow-up on issues in which there is cooperation and mutual interest.

The meeting provided an opportunity to review the areas of exchange and cooperation where activities were carried out in the most recent months and to confirm potentials to move forward in other sectors. 

The Cuban delegation rebuffed the regress in the bilateral relationship imposed by the government of the United States and called attention on the negative consequences thereof for both peoples, the Cuban emigration and the international and regional environment. The Cuban delegation reiterated that the economic, commercial and financial blockade continues to be the main obstacle to any perspective of improvement in the bilateral relationship and denounced its intensification with the adoption, in particular, of additional financial measures of aggressive extraterritorial nature.

It referred to the negative impact of the political and diplomatic actions promoted by the United States since the previous bilateral commission meeting held in September 2017, including the intended interference in the internal affairs of Cuba, with the open manipulation of the human rights issue, which is flagrantly, massively and systematically violated with the implementation of the blockade. 

The Cuban delegation urged the government of the United States to desist from the continued political manipulation of the alleged health cases, which became the pretext to adopt new unilateral measures that affect the performance of the respective embassies, in particular, the rendering of consular services depended upon by hundreds of thousands of persons.

The delegation also demanded the lifting of the arbitrary “travel warning” which hinders the scientific, academic, cultural, religious and entrepreneurial exchanges, as well as the visits by Americans to a country that is internationally recognized as safe and healthy. 

The Cuban delegation acknowledged the advances achieved in the bilateral migratory commitments and alerted to the risk of non-compliance by the United States with the existing obligations pursuant to the agreements signed.

Likewise, the delegation reaffirmed that it has been demonstrated that it is possible to cooperate and live in a civilized manner, by respecting differences and promoting that which benefits both countries and peoples. It expressed Cuba’s willingness to continue the bilateral dialogue and to work on issues of common interest through the active implementation, based on concrete proposals, of the bilateral agreements subscribed as those on environmental protection, law enforcement, health, agriculture, hydrography and geodesy, among others.

The Cuban delegation was led by Carlos Fernández de Cossío Domínguez, Director General for U.S. Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the U.S. delegation was led by John Creamer, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

  • Published in Cuba

TALKING FILES: The Bennies

Rafael González and Rafael Semanat, The Bennies, two hot black men and gray-headed are important characters within the Havanian Historical Center in the early 2000’s. Let it be known that the merit was not free: with their three-piece suits, lineage hats, smoky long cigars, flashy ties, flowers on their lapels, colored vests, two-color shoes and unique walking sticks, pay tribute to a funny character Benny More. In addition they show visitors the secrets of the Cuban Son music, cha cha cha, rumba or bolero to make them live the charm of old times.

The first character of our story dances since he was a young boy. His father, a fruit salesman, used to play music on Sundays to torment the neighborhood and, between bottles of rum and brawls; he taught him his first dance steps. Then, at age six or seven, he meets Benny More during his performances outside the Capitol and, almost without realizing it he is captive of the carnival coaches and swing of the hips of the processions of blacks.

Having this background, this retired teacher appears, one day, at the refurbished Cathedral Square in the 90’s and challenges Juan Parole to an old slump fight. Former sailor who, in the end, chooses him as couple with the purpose of remembering the greatest Sonero and his Giant Band. Of course, the success of the duet is instant and together with the Gitana of Havana, Juana the Cuban, and Pillo Chocolate, these popular characters have the task of giving new spins to the hard and eternal stone of Old Havana.

When I ran into Rafael González in 2007 at El Patio restaurant, on the side of the Cathedral, he commented me with enthusiasm capable of laughing at the face of any misfortune:

«I live in Calabazar and since I leave my house I have all eyes on me. What’s more, when I get on a bus they can’t stop yelling at me: The Benny!, The Benny!... next to my partner, I walk, almost every day, around the bars where there are music groups to enjoy and amuse people for a while. Our duty is to remember El Barbaro del Ritmo, to songwriter of Que bueno baila usted, an unforgettable song.

«Tourists follow us for being a folklore attraction and Cubans admire us for dressing like this all the time, in December or August; with chilling cold or an unbearable heat. Experts from China, Russia, Spain… have shot videos and also taken pictures in magazines and newspapers from all over the world. We sometimes do modeling of the time, driving old cars around and stuff like that…

«Besides our profound admiration to Benny More, we defend the fancy way of dressing of the time, which clearly opposes the scantily clad attires of nowadays. It’s enough of making ugly the streets with shorts, T-shirts and sleepers! The City Historian, Eusebio Leal is concerned, he is a bright man, thanks to him we are remembering what is good, unique…».

After Parole passed away, Rafael González makes a nice partner with his namesake Rafael Semanat, a mulatto son of the wit from the tropic and talkative even in his sleep:

«I am a retired painter, born in San Luis, in the former Oriente province, and I have lived for many years in Havana next to three daughters and grandsons—he said firmly—. Here, at the Cathedral, they asked to wear a suit of Benny and I was very happy. He is a myth, a glory for all generations, for history. Everything turned out easy for me, because I have always been a great casino dancer: I visited Santiago de las Vegas, The Quintica, and «gave a twist» with the orchestras of Neno González, Pancho el Bravo and Estrellas Cubanas.

«According to certain people, our imitations are senile insanity or an enthusiasm of old people bored to death. It’s a pity those bitter men can’t understand the true worth of music in the past as well as street dance. They miss it!».

Rafael González died a few years back with the songs he loved still fresh, but Rafael Semanat has kept walking on the hard paving stones of the capital and sometimes accompanied by Wilky Arencibia, the Gentleman of Son music, he tries to teach foreigners how to dance Son music. They store away in their suitcases when leaving their shirts wet with seat from the effort and joy.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Che Guevara is Remembered for His Impeccable Example

The Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967) had among his main virtues that of preaching by example and demanding more from himself than from others, the internationalist fighter Tomas Escandon recalled today.

Prensa Latina's IT specialist participated in a conversation at the news agency's headquarters in the capital, where he shared his experiences of the months of 1965 when he was with Guevara in the Congo, during the struggles for the independence of the African country, in which a group of Cuban fighters supported him.

I knew first-hand his virtues, he was a leader with a lot of charisma who demanded more from himself than from his comrades, a true enemy of privileges, stressed the then technical communications technician of the guerrilla in the activity, organized around the 90th anniversary of the birthday of the revolutionary, which is commemorated tomorrow.

According to Escandon, faced with a very complex scenario, Che established that one could not be late for the guard, and whoever did it, did not have lunch the next day.

'We were surrounded and under enemy pressure that forced us to reinforce our vigilance, the guerrilla leader himself arrived late at the post, and although his reasons were justified, the next day he didn't eat lunch,' Escandon added.

On Wednesday, the capital's Hotel Nacional hosted the presentation of a book with around a hundred little-known images of Che Guevara, also part of the activities for the 90th anniversary of his birth.

  • Published in Cuba
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