Belgium top FIFA World Rankings for second successive year

Belgium have been named the men's FIFA World Ranking’s Team of the Year for the second successive time.

They have retained top spot ahead of France and Brazil with England climbing one place to fourth and Uruguay taking fifth place.

A total of 1,082 international A matches have been played in 2019 - an all-time high since the rankings started in 1993.

Belgium, who also earned this award in 2015, won all 10 of their international A matches and in the process qualified for UEFA Euro 2020.

Last year’s World Cup winners France and Brazil have retained the positions they held at the end of 2018.

World champions France remain in second place ahead of Brazil in third, the positions they held in Argentina and Colombia are also in the top 10 - respectively ninth and tenth - at the expense of 12th-placed Switzerland, who have dropped four places, and Denmark, who have dropped six places to 16th.

The ranking’s Mover of the Year, meanwhile, is Qatar.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 hosts gained 138 points over the course of a year in which they won the Asian Cup, beating Japan 3-1 in the final, and made a strong start to the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers.

Besides accumulating the biggest points haul, Qatar have also jumped a year-high 38 places to 55th, followed closely by fellow climbers Algeria, who have moved up 32 places to 35th, and Japan, who have climbed 22 steps to 28th.

UEFA, the European Federation, has lost three places in the top 50 compared to the end of 2018, and now has 28 teams, whereas the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, the Asian Football Confederation and the Confederation of African Football have all gained one spot apiece.

The next FIFA World Ranking is due to be published on February 20 next year.

  • Published in Sports

Cuba Gives its Heart Again (+ Photos)

In 2013 I met Graciela Lois in Havana and we talked about many topics. At The Higher School of Mechanics of the Navy (HSMN), where the largest clandestine detention center operated during the dictatorship, she lost a love and her daughter lost a father, so she had to go there. On top of that, because then the trials against the accomplices of the dictatorship were reopened and also the hope of turning that place into a place for memory.


We met at the lobby of Habana Libre Hotel, I remember it as if it was today, she told me excited that just before traveling she had received a call at the Ombudsman of Buenos Aires, where she works, with the good news that President Cristina Fernández, had decided to put the resources for the HSMN project.


A lot has rained since that conversation, even a retrogression Macri came and went, but this week, when the new dawn of Argentina has begun and the Cuban President arrived in the land of San Martín to share the taking office of Alberto and Cristina, I remembered Graciela, her beautiful words about Cuba:


«For me, Cuba is like the must-see point before death, has to live, has to walk, has to travel, for everything it means for our militancy which in the 70’s when our comrades had to flee the country they passed through Cuba; Fidel, excellent, because he welcomed them here, gave them everything, the nursery of children whose parents were not present or maybe they had other tasks to do was here in Havana and the boys raised here have their little heart half Argentine, half Cuban ».

Then Díaz Canel arrives at the former HSMN, today a Museum, and says, paraphrasing Fito Paez, that "Cuba is coming to give its heart" and I understand that it’s a historical truth, with deep roots, I can feel it in Graciela’s words:


«Some say: you are idealistic, but Cuba is what has been in my heart during the time that with all the generosity on behalf of the Cuban people saved our lives, and I say our not because I was there, but because the plural are my partners, it’s every one of us ».


Then I have no other choice, but to write to my Argentinian friend and confess to her how much I have thought about her, her people, in the resistance and hope. She answers with a gift: «I have photos of the visit. Do you have an email? I will send them to you". And here they are, the photos of a country that thinks like humanity, before the sister country that has decided, resolutely, not to forget. The presence of my president there, carrying, sharing that multiple, Latin American heart of my people, when the blows, repression, and torture make our America scream in agony again. Let the memory be comfort of resistance and hope ...

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  • Published in Specials

Diaz-Canel is back from Argentina, Raul welcomed him at the airport

Cuban Communist Party First Secretary Raul Castro welcomed President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his entourage near midnight Wednesday, upon their return from Argentina where they attended the inauguration of President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Fernandez.

Díaz-Canel wrapped an intense visit, where he witnessed a historic and hopeful moment fo rthe South American country with the assumption of the country’s new leadership.

That was the reason that took him for the first time to Buenos Aires with non-stop days that concluded on Wednesday with a meeting in the Casa Rosada with the new president and then with Vice President Cristina Fernandez, who welcomed him at the National Congress.

With Alberto Fernández, he shared the common will to strengthen bilateral relations and promoting economic-commercial relations.

"We have a commitment of friendship with Cuba," the Argentinean president told his Cuban counterpart.

In addition to his meeting with Alberto and Cristina Fernandez, Diaz-Canel toured one of the largest clandestine centers of the last military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983), the former School of Mechanics of the Navy, accompanied by several of the torture center's survivors.

  • Published in Cuba

Díaz-Canel meets with Cuban community in Argentina and announces Nation and Emigration Conference

The Union of Cuban Residents in Argentina (URCA), which brings together some 500 fellow countrymen and women out of a total of more than 4,000 based in the South American nation, met Tuesday evening with President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla and Cuban Ambassador to the South American country, Orestes Perez Perez.

During the meeting, Diaz-Canel officially announced that the IV Nation and its Emigration Conference would be held from April 8 to 10, next year, as part of the process of strengthening ties between Cuba and its community abroad.

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Diaz-Canel also introduced the new Cuban ambassador, Pedro Pablo Prada, who replaces Perez Perez.

After discussing with participants the country's policy about its emigration, as well as the decision to sustain and improve it, in response to the demands of residents abroad, Díaz-Canel pointed out to his compatriots that the main obstacles to strengthening ties with residents abroad are the intensification of the blockade imposed by the United States on the island 60 years ago, which hinders the ties of Cuban families and also of those residing in third countries, such as Argentina.

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He stressed that the government of Donald Trump continues to adopt measures aimed at hindering the travel of Cuban citizens in one direction or another, suspending consular services in Havana, regular flights, except to Havana, and does not meet the visa quota agreed between the two governments.

  • Published in Cuba

Miguel Diaz-Canel paid tribute to Jose de San Martin

The President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is visiting Argentina to attend the inauguration ceremony of the President-elect Alberto Fernandez, paid tribute to the Argentine independence leader Jose de San Martin (1778-1850) on Monday.

The Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry reported on its Twitter account that Diaz-Canel paid tribute to Jose de San Martin, the liberator of the South and father of the Argentine Republic, as he was called by the Cuban National Hero of Cuba, Jose Marti.

He also said: Those are heroes; those who fought to make their people free, or those who suffered in poverty and misfortune to defend a great truth, said the tweet, which publishes several images of Diaz-Canel before the statue of the Argentine patriot, after the placement of a floral offering.

In the same social network, the Presidency of Cuba commented that the Cuban delegation headed by Diaz-Canel reached the "Rosedal de Palermo", a traditional park in Buenos Aires, where they also paid tribute to Jose Marti, while placed a floral offering before a bust erected in his honor.

As part of the program of the visit to that southern nation, the Cuban President held on Monday a meeting with intellectuals and personalities of the culture of Argentina, which highlighted the significant cultural exchange between both nations in numerous artistic manifestations such as cinema, literature, theater and music.

The Cuban president also paid tribute on Monday to the Victims of the State Terrorism, accompanied by the members of the delegation of the Island.

Miguel Diaz Canel Bermudez arrived on Sunday in the city of Buenos Aires to participate tomorrow at the inauguration ceremony of the President-elect of the Argentine Republic, Alberto Fernandez Perez.

The Cuban delegation is also integrated by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla; the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz; and the Ambassador of Cuba to Argentina, Orestes Perez Perez, among other officials.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban president meets in Buenos Aires with representatives of business community

The president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, met with Argentinean businesspeople on Monday.

During the meeting, the Cuban dignitary expressed the desire to strengthen commercial relations between Argentinian and Cuban businesses and referred to the good state of bilateral relations between the two nations.

Diaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta arrived in the South American nation on Sunday to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Alberto and Cristina Fernandez.

His delegation includes Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and Cuban Ambassador to Argentina Orestes Perez, among other officials.

The inauguration will take place Tuesday, first in the National Congress, and then in the Casa Rosada, where Alberto Fernandez will welcome visiting delegations and will swear-in his Cabinet.

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United by a close relationship of friendship and sustained bilateral ties, Argentina and Cuba are also joined by a universal figure -- the historic guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara.

Relations between the two countries were established on May 12, 1909, and were interrupted in 1962 due to U.S. pressures. In 1973, President Héctor Cámpora re-established diplomatic relations.

Cuba maintains its unconditional support for Argentina's legitimate claims of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime areas and has several established agreements.

Argentina is Cuba's fourth trading partner in Latin America and the Caribbean and the ninth internationally, as well as the second tourists' source to the island from the region.

  • Published in Cuba

President Diaz-Canel in Argentina to attend inaugural ceremony of Alberto Fernandez

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez arrived in Buenos Aires on Sunday to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of the elected head of state of the Republic of Argentina, Alberto Fernández Pérez.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, said goodbye to the Cuban leader at the José Martí International Airport.

The Cuban delegation is also made up of Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, and Cuban Ambassador to Argentina Orestes Perez, among other officials.

Alberto Fernández will take over the presidency of Argentina on Tuesday.

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  • Published in Cuba

Argentinean president-elect refuses money from IMF

Buenos Aires, November 27 (RHC)-- Argentina's elected President Alberto Fernández announced on Tuesday that he will not ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the remaining amount of money not yet received from the $11 billion IMF's loan to the South American country.

Fernandez, who will assume the presidency of Argentina on December 10, said in an interview on Radio that "the solution to the problems" of his country "is not to take more debt.  "If you have a problem because you are very indebted, I believe that the solution is not to continue indebting yourself," emphasized the elected president.

He indicated that he does not want to "enlarge" Argentina's debt problem anymore, but that he will try to solve it.  He mentioned the only agreement he would like to sign with the IMF: "Don't lend me more money, but let me develop, to be able to pay you.  “Let's discuss the time I need to get the economy back on track, but don't give me more money.”

The IMF's agreement with the outgoing Argentinean government of Mauricio Macri reaches $56.3 billion dollars.  However, $44.3 billion dollars were expended, leaving 12 billion dollars to be liquidated.

Last September, a disbursement of $5.7 billion was planned, but it came to a standstill after Macri's defeat in the primary elections held in August.  According to an official report released on Monday by the Ministry of Finance, 83 % of the credit was used to pay off foreign debt. Of the money sent by the international organization, only a little more than 1.9 billion dollars remain in power of the government.

Edited by Ed Newman

  • Published in World
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