Cuba: Summon to World Solidarity for Freedom of Lula

The members of the Brazilian caravan 60 years of the Cuban Revolution called on Monday for international solidarity in support of the struggle for the liberation of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazilian activists called the world union around that cause in a statement read by Maria Ivon de Souza, director of the Jose Marti Cultural Association of the State of Bahia, during an act of welcome to the caravanistas at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in Havana.

In presence of the presidents of ICAP, Fernando Gonzalez; and Silvio Platero, of the Cuban Movement for Peace and the Sovereignty of Peoples; and authorities on the island, the activist recalled that Lula was illegally detained because, he said, no evidence of allegations of corruption was presented.

'Is innocent; he is a political prisoner; he was arrested to prevent him from appearing in the last presidential elections in Brazil; and continues in jail for being the greatest popular leader. It is an attack on democracy, 'de Souza said.

The statement also contains a denunciation of the actions of the new executive of Brazil with Jair Bolsonaro as president who, according to the pacifists, lacerates the Brazilian people and represents a setback to the achievements of the 13 years of the party's government. the Workers (PT).

In the text, it also reiterate their repudiation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for almost 60 years, as well as all attempts of interference by Washington against the Caribbean nation.

In this regard, he highlighted the courage of the Cubans to face the onslaughts of the US government against the revolutionary process of the largest of the Antilles.

Since last April, Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva, leader of the PT, celebrates 12 years and a month in prison at the headquarters of the Federal Police of Curitiba, southern state of Paraná, for alleged acts of corruption.

Composed of more than a hundred Brazilians, the 60-year-old caravan of the Cuban Revolution is located on the island in the context of the celebrations for the date of great historical significance for the inhabitants of the Caribbean nation and their friends in the world.

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Cuban Public Health: A Guarantee of Happiness and Well-being

Although is not a numeric indicator, this little girl’s expression shows a state of happiness, only achievable with a health service that responds to the People’s needs.

In year 2018, health indicators and services to the population were superior to those of the precedent year.

According to the Minister of Public Health (MINSAP), José Portal Ángel Miranda, by the end of the year is a positive balance in attaining the objectives, but we "also have much dissatisfaction, when it’s not always achieved in institutions that services correspond with the resources invested."

The National Health System faces at present the aging of the population, the decrease of fecundity and birth rate, the predominant epidemic panorama in the country, the financial limitations and costs rising, the technologies, the complex and expensive processes, the upgrade of organization and operation guidelines, the increase of international commitments and the blockade imposed to the country.

Many of these are programs prioritized by the institution and one of the most important is Family Medicine, created by the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in 1984. Next January 4th this program will be reaching its 35th anniversary.

The Minister stressed the importance of the program to attain other goals, therefore the upgrading process carried out last year and that will continue strong through this 2019.

It includes it the improvement of facilities and, as a new element, the fact of incorporating one more year in the specialty of Integral General Medicine. "Today we have that possibility and that will improve the quality in the care."

It’s a need - he commented - to take that program to higher levels, because it’s not sustainable to guarantee the health of the people on the basis of health care institutions, which should be targeting more complex activities. "We have to continue strengthening primary health care with the doctors and nurses who work steady, make them believable, and resourceful", he emphasized.

Drugs Production, a Prioritized Program

Among the programs that MINSAP pushes forward is that of the Natural and Traditional Medicine, the Mother Children Program (falling within this one the issues related low child birth rate and fertility), the one against population aging and that of drugs production, among others.

High executives from of BioCubaFarma recently informed that at present this institution supplies the National Health Program a thousand 12 products (to do that it’s necessary to acquire more than 12 thousand materials), most of which are drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic equipments.

If we didn't have this industry in the country we’d to pay more than a thousand millions a year, approximately, to acquire these products, said BioCubaFarma president Eduardo Martínez Díaz.

This institution gives the health system 482 drugs which amounts for the 62% of basic medicines.

Martínez clarified that in the last years difficulties have arisen in the supply of several drugs by several causes, among which organizational problems, and the availability of raw materials and other things needed for this complex production.

The quality in services, the main challenge

Our health is for free, but it costs, it’s a message that MINSAP has sent over the last years, due to the importance for the population to be aware of the rational use of all resources.

Behind the production of medications and the most modern technologies purchased and set for the availability of the population, even in the most remote places, the State invests a great amount of money, and that is the scenario the country faces every year.

Although some think the blockade of the United States against Cuba is something intangible, last year alone in the health sector losses represented more than 98 million dollars and it accumulates over two thousand 711 million through these years, which are more visible when availability is short of certain resources, technologies, raw materials that most of the times must be purchased abroad.

Nevertheless, to guarantee a public health for the entire population is the State’s desire. In this regard at present the 51% of the country’s budget is dedicated to the sectors of Education and Public Health, from that more than 27% is dedicated to health and social welfare.

Looking at 2019, MINSAP has several challenges, among them to guarantee the stability of the epidemic situation; to diminish the mortality rate in children between 1-4 years old, as well as the mother mortality; to assure the execution of the export plan of services and incomes; to diminish the expenses to strictly what’s necessary, beginning with the implementation and execution of the program for efficiency.

Nevertheless, the most visible challenge for the population is the relationship with the quality in the medical services.

This is a topic – said the Minister in the TV show Round Table - that it needs the maximum attention, and he stood out that the greatest dissatisfactions are not in the medical care, but in the processes related to the services.

He said about the importance of keeping the ethics and the values in a sector where – perhaps like in any other - they are indispensable.

Doctor from Cuba Present in Brazil: Unforgettable

The closing of the participation of Cuba in the More Doctors Program for Brazil, in late 2018 has been an event that will remain in the history of both countries.

For Cuba because, once again, it allowed the country to demonstrate the elevated preparation, dignity and patriotism of our doctors. And for the South American Giant the presence of Cubans was valuable and unique, because they worked in many places where no doctor had ever tread before, like the Amazonia, for example, and they assisted the population left out and with less resources.

After it was known the MINSAP’s statement, in Brazil were stationed 8 471 collaborators, but they had already worked in that nation 20 thousand.

Cubans - 63% of that group that returned was young and 66% were women - they worked in two thousand 860 municipalities, in remote locations and conditions of extreme complexity, therefore the moving was really difficult.

Nevertheless, putting all difficulties aside, the return was successful, thanks to the combined participation of several Organizations from the Central Administration of the State, among them the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Foreign Commerce and Foreign investment as well as MINSAP.

After the return to Homeland the rewarding given has been “well deserved”, on behalf of the Government, the Party and the people in general, said Vice-minister Marcia Cobas who also highlighted the moral conditions and courage of that medical brigade.

When the declaration of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) was known, 8,471 collaborators were working in Brazil, but almost 20,000 had already worked in that nation.

The Cubans -63% of that brigade that returned were young people and 66% women- served in 2,860 municipalities, in hard to reach places and conditions of extreme complexity, so the transfer process was awkward.

However, apart from all the difficulties, the return was successful, thanks to the joint participation of several agencies of the Central State Administration, including the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and MINSAP itself.

Deputy Minister Marcia Cobas said that after the return to the Homeland, the recognition given by the Government, the Party and the people in general "has been well deserved", and highlighted the moral and courageous conditions of that medical brigade.


Cuba, Public Health: Some figures

- 13,000 institutions

- 94,000 doctors (8,2 per 1000 inhabitants)

- 19,000 stomatologists

- 85,000 nurses

- 57.4% of its workers are professionals and more than 92% are trained in the health sector.


Infrastructure:

    - 450 polyclinics

   - 10,869 doctor’s offices

    - 1,215 stomatological services

    - 150 hospitals

    - 131 maternity homes

    - 287 homes for grandparents

   

    - 150 nursing homes


    - 111 stomatological clinics

    - 30 psycho-pedagogical medical centers

     -12 research institutes


 For the training of human resources, it has:

-13 universities

-2 independent faculties

- Latin American School of Medicine

- National School of Public Health

-Teaching staff: More than 33,500 teachers



Cuban medical collaboration in the world

- 55 years of collaboration

- Our health workers have worked in 164 countries and completed more than 600,000 missions

- Around 400,000 health workers have participated, and many more than once

- Today, Cuba has a medical presence in 66 nations, with 34,000 workers (in 30 countries in Africa, 13 in the Americas, 11 in the Caribbean, 8 in Asia, 3 in Oceania and 1 in Europe)

Campaign for Lula's Nobel Peace Prize Gains Strength Worldwide

Brasilia, Jan 7 (Prensa Latina) The international campaign to grant the Nobel Peace Prize to former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2019 has gained strength, according to the website Brasil 247.

When quoting the bulleting of the Democratic Resistance movement, the website noted that the initiative, led in the beginning by the 1980 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, from Argentina, 'has spread on all social networks of militants' who acknowledge the huge legacy left by Lula during his governments.

The source added that supporters have until January 31 to submit Lula's candidacy formally. Lula is a former labor leader, a fighter against hunger and poverty whose career turned him into a world leader for peace and human dignity.

According to the bylaws of the Nobel Foundation, a valid candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize needs the signatures of members of national assemblies and national governments (members of the cabinet or ministers) from sovereign States, as well as incumbent heads of State, members of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the Permanent Arbitrage Court in The Hague.

It also needs the signatures of members of the Droit International Institute, university professors and professors emeritus of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology and religion, and university rectors and directors.

Other signatures required are from directors of peace and foreign policy research institutes, Nobel Peace Prizewinners, members of the main directorate of organizations that have won that prize, and members, ex members and former advisors of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

In Brazil, Lula's candidacy is supported by thousands of people, including politicians who were not members of the governments led by the Workers' Party (PT) and were not alongside the former trade union leader during his entire political career.

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Bolsonaro Government to Purge State of Leftists and Centrists

The government "will clean the house," Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni said.

Brazil's newly-inaugurated President Jair Bolsonaro announced a purge of government contractors who do not share the new administration’s far-right ideology.

RELATED: Brazil's Bolsonaro Seeks to Grant Police Impunity Over Violence

Days after assuming the presidency, Bolsonaro has authorized the dismissal of some 300 state workers on temporary contracts.

"It's the only way to govern with our ideas, our concepts and to carry out what Brazil's society decided in its majority," said Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni at a press conference. He added that the purge aimed "to do away with the Socialist and Communist ideas that during 30 years have led us to the chaos in which we live."

The sweep targets officials seen as sympathetic to centrist and left-wing parties and ideologies that have existed in Brazil since 1985, when the country transitioned from a military dictatorship to a democracy.

Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former Army captain and supporter of Brazil's military dictatorship (1964 - 1985) as well as of U.S. President Donald Trump, has repeatedly criticized the leftist Workers Party and its supporters. During his campaign, he warned that his opponents would have to "either go overseas or go to jail" if he won.

“These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a clean-up, the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history,” Bolsonaro declared in October, mentioning that “crooks” from Brazil’s landless workers' movement (MST) would be designated as terrorists while the former president Lula da Silva would be left “to rot in jail.”

He has recently also vowed to join right-wing international efforts against progressive and leftists governments in the region such as Venezuela and Cuba.

Since his inauguration Tuesday, Bolsonaro has used executive orders to exclude Brazil’s LGBTI community from his government’s human rights policies, infringe on Indigenous people’s rights and environmental protections in favor of economic policies that promote agribusiness, and cater to U.S. military bases in the country.

 
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Bolsonaro Open to Hosting US Military Base to Advance Brazil's Military Supremacy

Far-right Brazilian President Bolsonaro remarked that Russia's support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has significantly increased regional tensions.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said, in a television interview Thursday, that he is willing to negotiate the possibility of hosting a United States military base in the country. This decision, if achieved, would imply an unprecedented change in the foreign policy of Brazil, a country that consolidated regional power - during the 20th century - without compromising territorial sovereignty.

RELATED: Brazil to Move its Embassy to Israel, but 'No Date Yet'

"Depending on what happens in the world, who knows if we would not have to discuss that issue in the future," Bolsonaro declared, emphasizing that Brazil seeks to have "the supremacy here in South America."

Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old retired army captain - who took office on Jan. 1, also remarked that Russia's support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has significantly increased regional tensions, and is a worrying development.

"Russia has made a maneuver in Venezuela. We know the intention of Maduro's Government... and Brazil has to worry about it. Over the last 25 years, our Armed Forces have been abandoned because of a political issue, because we, the Armed Forces, are the last obstacle to socialism," Bolsonaro said, adding that "my approach to the U.S. is an economic issue, but it can be military as well."

Bolsonaro's cabinet in begins to look more like a military base than a political cabinet. So far, 6 ministers have military backgrounds. Brazilians went to polls expecting to uproot corruption, they might end up uprooting civilian rights for military imposition.
 

Bolsonaro, who is a confessed admirer of Donald Trump, has been working to consolidate a conservative alliance not only with the United States, but also Israel.

The Brazilian head of state's national security adviser, retired army General Augusto Heleno, confirmed Thursday, that Bolsonaro wants to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but that logistical considerations stand in the way.

Heleno did not elaborate, but the country's powerful agricultural sector opposes moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, which would anger Arab nations that buy billions of dollars worth of Brazilian meat each year.

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Cacequi, Brazil: The Black Doctor who won Whites’ Affection

This is the story of a Cuban health care professional who left behind a sadness halo in her wealthy, poor, and middle-class patients.

At the reception room of the International Airport José Martí, the contagious joy of Doctor Nordalis Salas Ramírez reveals her Santiago de Cuba’s roots. She is happy and she is back. She is happy while her three children and two grandchildren embrace her. But when I asked her about the things she left behind, she crumbled —despite the fact she is proud of being a Cuban woman.

She was born in the neighborhood José Martí, eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Nordalis gets emotional when she evokes her patients and those experiences lived for two years and eight months in Cacequi, Rio Grande do Sul, a predominantly white state.

“And I am a black woman. You better get an idea! It was not easy the first days. I had to get used to everything, the language, and getting people to trust me. People are somewhat racists there.”

And did you achieve it?

Of course I achieved it! I worked hard. I persuaded them. I showed them I was professional and ready. I believe this is what they wooed the most. Then I saw the entire picture and I did not realize at first the fact that I was a black doctor caring for white people. It was hard for them.”

Are we talking about middle-class or poor people?

“There were different social classes. I cared for both wealthy and poor patients. There were no difference at all to me. As time passed by, people accepted me and they did not want me to go. But I said I had to get back home, my land, where my family is.”

You told me you worked for more than seven years in Venezuela. What have you learned now from Brazil?

A lot. I learned another language, culture and to coexist with people with different roots. I learned the power of wisdom. If you have knowledge you are a Queen. If not, you are left behind. I saw a ferocious competition between Cuban and Brazilian doctors. People did not want to getting treated by Brazilian doctors as they were not kind to them and provided sometimes the wrong treatments.

“Our doctors showed expertise and professionalism. I had a case of a young man who suffered an abdominal pain and Brazilian doctors suggested it was a gastritis, others stated he had an ulcer. When he got to my consulting room, I diagnosed him a perforated appendicitis and sent him to the hospital. He was in intensive care for one week, but he survived. Later on, he showed me a huge gratitude.     

“I can say they were crying me a river until December 8th when I left Cacequi. Patients told me <the Cuban doctor, the best>. Then, how can I forget what we did for so many people in need?”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Lula’s Followers Hold Christmas Vigil In Front of His Prison

'Lula Livre' organized a Christmas vigil at Lula's prison in solidarity with the former president and political prisoner — he is not allowed any visitors on Christmas. 

Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva’s supporters will gather in front of the jail where he is imprisoned to celebrate Christmas in solidarity with him on Dec. 24 and 25.

RELATED: Lula: I Do Not Want Favors, I Just Want Justice

Members of Lula Livre (Free Lula) movement called on Lula’s followers to attend a vigil outside the Curitiba Federal Police station in the state of Parana where he has been held as a political prisoner since April.

One of the coordinators of the vigil, Roberto Baggio, said that "a great deal is being done to organize the preparations for Christmas. It will be a Christmas and a festive year shared with Lula and the Brazilian people."

"We call all the activists of the country and the world who want to go with us, bring their families and friends (...) to face the next period and the next days of struggle ... for the freedom of  Lula," said Baggio.

Lula is restricted from receiving visitors on Christmas but his supporters will be there with him during the day. According to the organizers, between the two days of Christmas celebrations, almost 500 people will arrive from different states of Brazil to show their solidarity with the political prisoner.

Ana Fuzinatto, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Catechetical Sisters of Curitiba said, "For us, Lula has always been a model that drives us to walk together with the people, for the poor, for the care of life, for people who are on the margins of society."

Lula da Silva, who was arrested after being convicted in the Lava Jato corruption case by a Federal Regional Court, is internationally recognized as a political prisoner. His imprisonment led to his inability to run for president in the October 2018 general elections and paved the way for the victory of far-right Jair Bolsonaro who has announced an aggressive neoliberal economic program and the use of agressive force against social movements.

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Brazilian President Fears Being Arrested when He Leaves Power

Brazilia, Dec 24 (Prensa Latina) Brazilian President Michel Temer told reporters that he is afraid of being arrested after leaving office in January, according to a journalist quoted today by the UOL website.

According to the source, close to the ruler recognize that the risk is real and Temer was advised to spend some time abroad. Portugal and possible classes at the University of Coimbra were mentioned.

According to the reporter Josias de Souza, 'a few days after passing the presidential band to Jair Bolsonaro, the outgoing president lives the syndrome of what is to come.

The blog noted that, in explaining to advisors why he ruled out his departure through the international airport, Temer was categorical: 'they're going to say I'm running away, and I'm not going to run away, I'm going to face the situation.

Temer's fear was revived when Attorney General Raquel Dodge accused him of passive corruption and money laundering, with an estimated diversion of R$32.6 million (a little over US$8 million) between August 2016 and June 2017.

The criminal actions are of greater concern to the head of state because he is involved in two other denunciations made by the former attorney general Rodrigo Janot, based on the denunciations of the JBS group, which have been frozen since last year and will be withdrawn from that level.

On January 1, Temer will hand over the presidential sash to Bolsonaro, who won the October elections with more than 55 percent of the vote.

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