Russia and Cuba talk cooperation in civil aviation

Russian and Cuban authorities evaluated the current state and prospects of bilateral collaboration in the field of civil aviation during MAKS-2015 International Aerospace Fair, in Zhukovski city, some 30 kilometers from Moscow.

According to the Cuban embassy in Moscow, Russia deputy prime-minister and president of the Intergovernmental Commission, Dmitri Rogozin met with the president of Cuba´s Aviation Corporation, Brigadier General Ramon Martinez during the fair.

The Cuban official also met with Russian Trade and Industry deputy minister Andrei Boguinski and with the president of the Aircraft Construction Corporation Yuri Sliusar, as well as with local entrepreneurs.

The fair, considered one of the most important forums of its kind in the world, is being attended by 584 Russian companies and 156 foreign entities representing 30 nations. Commercial accords signed during the fair have been calculated at several billion dollars, according to the organizing committee.

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The Farmer who’s Starting an Organic Revolution in Cuba

Like all homestead stories, Fernando Funes Monzote’s starts with an epic battle against harsh elements and long odds. Funes, a university-trained agronomist, settled on a badly eroded, brushy hillside outside Havana four years ago and began digging a well into the rocky soil. The other farmers nearby thought he was crazy, or worse – a dilettante with a fancy PhD whose talk of “agroecology” would soon crash into the realities of Cuban farming.

Funes had no drill, so he and a helper had to break through layers of rock with picks and hand tools. Seven months later and 15 metres down, they struck a gushing spring of cool, clear water. “To me, it was a metaphor for agroecology,” said Funes, 44, referring to the environmentally minded farm management techniques he studied here and in the Netherlands. “A lot of hard work by hand, and persistence, but a result that is worth the effort.”

Today Funes is one of the most sought-after figures in Cuban culinary circles. Finca Marta, the eight-hectare farm he named in honour of his late mother, supplies organic produce to many of Havana’s top-rated “paladares”, the privately owned restaurants that are transforming the island’s reputation for uninspired dining. Funes grows more than 60 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs in carefully terraced planting beds designed to conserve water. He’s planted woody shrubs to divide his cattle pastures with “living fences” that also provide habitat for birds. His beehives yielded 1.5 tonnes of honey last year. The farm and its irrigation systems run almost entirely on solar power, and Funes operates a “biodigester” that captures methane from manure and pipes it right to the kitchen stove where it burns clean and blue.

Funes’s vision of Cuban agriculture is radical, because it’s a throwback. He advocates smart, resource-efficient artisanal farming as an alternative to both capitalist agribusiness and the disastrous state-run agricultural model implemented in the 1960s, whose legacy is a country that imports 60% to 80% of its food.

With Cuba restoring relations with the United States and looking to reinsert itself into the global economy, Funes sees the very survival of Cuban rural culture at stake.

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His goal, he says, is to give Cuban farmers a way to make a living at a time when so many have given up on it and moved to urban areas. “If we don’t want foreign companies to come in and dominate Cuban agriculture all over again, that means we need to give Cuban families a way to stay on their farms,” said Funes, who grew up at an agricultural research station where his father, a crop scientist, and his mother, a biologist, both worked.

Twice a week Funes stuffs his old Russian Lada car to the roof with Italian arugula, cherry tomatoes, endives and bean sprouts and delivers fresh greens to more than two dozen restaurants in the capital. Such items are virtually unknown to most Cubans but increasingly sought after by chefs catering to tourists, foreign residents and a small but growing segment of Cuban consumers who are looking to break out of the pork-and-plantains routine. “More and more Cubans are discovering these vegetables and learning to broaden their horizons a bit,” said Alain Rivas, the head chef at El Litoral, a two-year-old cafe along the oceanfront Malecón boulevard, one block from the US embassy, that offers fresh organic salads with ingredients from Funes’s farm. At $8 to $10, the salads are well beyond the means of ordinary Cubans, but Rivas said many of his customers are local.

Rivas often plans his menu by talking first to Funes, a level of farm-to-table coordination that is also unheard of here. A few years ago, barely anyone in Cuba had mobile phones. Now Funes keeps in touch with chefs, restaurant owners and other customers by email and text message and says better planning minimises waste.

Most Cuban farms don’t work this way, overproducing crops with the expectation that much of their harvest will be lost because they don’t have the means to reach markets quickly. This approach yields a glut during the winter growing season, crashing prices. Then high-demand vegetables, such as lettuce and tomatoes, go scarce again during hot summer months when crops quickly spoil under the broiling Caribbean sun and growers don’t want to risk the losses.

“Part of the problem could be solved by more efficient distribution and coordination,” Funes said. The other part, of course, is better access to equipment and technology.

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In recent years, Cuban President Raúl Castro has transferred millions of hectares of unproductive state land into the hands of private farmers and cooperatives in an attempt to reduce food imports. But the results have been underwhelming. There’s a greater abundance and variety at produce markets, but prices have mostly increased, in part because so many intermediaries are involved.

Cuba’s crushing agricultural bureaucracy still makes it essentially impossible for farmers to import tractors, trucks and other agricultural equipment that could boost production and cut costs. Government pledges to create wholesale markets for tools and other farming supplies have yet to materialise.

Funes would like to upgrade his Russian car to a refrigerated truck. He’s adding a maternity home to his delivery route as part of his expanding social mission and wants to begin distributing a weekly produce basket to individual families. He said he doesn’t need more land and can increase his harvests simply by more intensive methods. And he’s more interested in getting other Cuban farmers to adopt better practices and try a little agroecology in their fields.

“It doesn’t matter what you call the system,” he said. “What matters is the use of natural resources and the possibilities you can provide for farmers to make a living and remain rooted on their land.”

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Chile Sets Course for Cuba with Delegation Led by Foreign Minister

Chile will set course this week for Cuba with a high-level delegation led by Foreign Minister, Heraldo Munoz, with the aim of strengthening bilateral ties. According to official sources, Muñoz, who was one of the first foreign ministers to applaud the reopening of embassies in Cuba and the United States recently, expressed the Chilean interest to also sound out new business opportunities.

Questioned by Prensa Latina about the possible impact of this event in the ties between Cuba and Chile, the diplomat said then that while nothing changes dramatically, it will help strengthening bilateral relations.

"Our country has always had normal and increasing ties in all areas, but undoubtedly obstacles that will give greater fluidity to trade and investments disappear now," he said.

In this regard, the foreign minister will remain on the Caribbean island from September 2 to 5 accompanied by Andres Rebolledo, director general of International Economic Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Direcon).

About 35 companies and trade organizations will be also part of the delegation that on the side of businessmen is led by Hermann von Mühlenbrock, president of the Society for Industrial Development (Sofofa).

The Chilean diplomacy head told Prensa Latina few weeks ago that before Havana and Washington announced in December the resumption of diplomatic ties, his country had already got closer to Cuba.

Chile sent to Cuba a large delegation boosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further agreements in November 2014, Muñoz noted.

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Nivaldo and Sergio capped actions with gold at Varadero

Nivaldo Díaz and Sergio Hernandez of Cuba-A outclassed Christian Redmann and Felipe Humana of Canada-A 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) to win the men’s gold medal at the Varadero Tournament, the fourth stop of the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit held for the fifth consecutive year at the beautiful tourism spot.

At the Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort, the bronze medalists at the Pan American Games and champions at the Central American Games in Veracruz 2014, reaffirmed their solid game and didn’t offer their North American opponents any break during the 32-minute match under sunny skies and surrounded by enthusiastic fans.

“I don’t think Canada and United States brought their strongest players, but in any event the competitors go out for the win and we knew we had to have our top game and rhythm to give Cuba a well deserved triumph,” said Nivaldo, the younger member of the host team.

His partner Sergio said to be very glad with their second gold medal, added to the first they got at the start of the circuit at Cayman Islands, but even more because his country surpass the expectations every year.

“I think this one has been the best. All the hotels during the previous stages did their best to give their support, and this has not been the exception, but my compatriots really worked hard and efficiently to have an event technically organized at the highest level. Now I hope these performances allow us to compete at the world tour to reach the elite and dream with a decorous performance at the great competitions like the Olympic Games,” Sergio said.

The bronze medal went to the United States team of Edwin Mark Burik and Curt Toppel, silver medalists in the previous stop, who edged Yendry Castillo and Liosbel Méndez of Cuba-B in a three-set battle that lasted 1 hour and six minutes 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 15-13) warming up the sand for the title’s matches in both genders.

Sunday’s Results

Bronze Medal Match: USA d CUB-B: 2-0 (21-16, 20-22, 15-13). Gold Medal Match: CUB-A d CAN-A: 2-0 (21-13, 21-13).

Final Positions:

1.- Nivaldo Díaz/Sergio González (CUB-A); 2.-Christham Redmann/Felipe Humana (CAN-A); 3.- Edwin M. Burik-Curt Toppel (USA); 4.-Yendry Castillo/Liosbel Méndez (CUB-B); 5.-Fabien Whitfield/Daneil Williams (TRI); 6.- Aaron Nusbaun/Mike Plantinga (CAN-B); 7.- Marc Lomeli/Brian Kwasny (ISV); 8.-Rubén Mora/Miguel López (NCA); 9.- William Sánchez-Luis Castillo (DOM); 10.- Rooper Espinoza/Alexander Villegas (CRC); 11.- Franklin Flores/Armando Guatemala (ESA);  12.-Senel Dupuy/Kelpes Vilmont (HAI); 13.- Marty Wood-Wilfredo Vega (HON); 14.- Furgil Ong A Fat/Zefanio Breinburg (SUR); 15.-Tevin St. Jean (LCA)/ Agustín Faulkner (LCA).

The USA-A duo of Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes took home the women’s crown at the fourth stage of the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit by defeating the home Cuban team of Leila Martínez and Lidianni Echeverria (CUB-A) 2-0 (21-18, 24-22) to close the Varadero Tournament at Barceló Solymar Arenas Blancas Resort.

The Americans, winners of the bronze medal at the previous stop in North Bay, Canada displayed great ability but also took advantage of the inconsistent concentration of Leila, runner-up at the Pan American Games in Toronto, who partnered this time with a 19-year-old youngster who showed composure despite her inexperience.

The Californian native Hughes commenting on behalf of her team said: “We are very happy and elated to be in Cuba for the first time. It is a beautiful place, the event has been pretty and the conditions were very good."

Leila, who was the victim of the lethal serves from the winners, said that even though she was unable to step on the highest place of the podium “it is important for the younger players to develop and to help them. We want to prepare well for the Olympic qualification towards Rio de Janeiro 2016 where I expect to be with my partner Lianma Flores, and the youngsters also can produce a good performance.”


On the other hand, the Costa Ricans Karen Cope/Natalia Alfaro obtained the bronze medal by outplaying Irene Hester/Caitlin Ledoux (USA-B) 2-1 (21-13, 17-21, 15-13) in a battle that lasted almost one hour to not let down those who favored the Latin Americans in the tournament that welcomed 15 pairs of each gender from 15 countries visiting Varadero for fifth consecutive year.


Sunday’s Results

Bronze Medal Match: CRC d USA-B 2-1 (21-13, 17-21, 15-13). Gold Medal Match: USA-A d CUB-A 2-0 (21-18, 24-22).

 
Final Positions:

1.- Sara Hughes-Kelly Claes (USA-A); 2.- Leila Martínez-Lidianni Echevarría (CUB-A); 3.- Karen Cope/Natalia Alfaro (CRC); 4.- Irene Hester- Caitlin Ledoux (USA-B); 5.- Gloria Santoyo/Stephanie Burnside (MEX-B); 6.- Kerri Smit/Victoria Cowley (CAN-B); 7.- Rachel Cockrell/Camille Saxton (CAN -A); 8.- Jennifer Batista/Raquel Ferrand (DOM); 9.- Ayana Dyette/Malika Davidson (TRI); 10.- Lianma Flores/Yanileidis Sánchez (CUB-B); 11.- Ana Ríos/Bibiana Candelas (MEX-A); 12.- Ana Villagrán/Aury Álvarez (GUA).- Dala Noel/Skye Faucher-Mondesir (LCA); 14.- Janice Valtes/Sigourney Kame (SUR); 15.- Amber Bennett/Valissia Brathwaite (ISV).

 

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Cuba and The Bahamas work together to increase the commercial exchange, particularly in agriculture

The Ambassador of Cuba to The Bahamas, Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, held a meeting with the Hon. Dion Smith, Chairman of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and Deputy Speaker of House of Assembly.
 
During the meeting, both parties exchanged on different issues of bilateral interest including the next visit to The Bahamas of a delegation from the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba. The main objective of this visit is to promote a multidestination between Cuba and The Bahamas, which is considered to be a very advantageous opportunity to maximized the arrival of tourists to The Bahamas and Cuba.  
 
At the end of the meeting, both sides coincided in highlighting the current good state of the bilateral ties, as well as the existing possibilities of diversifying and strengthening them.

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President of Panama to Visit Cuba

Panama's head of state, Juan Carlos Varela, announced on Thursday that he will travel to Cuba on September 9 with a delegation of businessmen of his country, with the main objective of boosting trade between the two nations.

According to information provided by the Prensa Latina news agency, the president also informed that another aspect of the visit is the relaxation of visa procedures as well as the change from restricted to stamped visas for Cuban citizens, Radio Reloj reported.
He added that in the reopening of the relations between Cuba and the United States Panama plays an important role, and will cooperate with that ease of migration procedures.

The Panamanian President informed that later he will visit Philadelphia to attend the Congress of Family, and then continue to New York, where he will participate in the 69th ordinary period of sessions of the UN General Assembly.

 

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Spanish members of Parliament to travel to Cuba to boost bilateral relationships

Jesus Posada, chairman of Spanish congress will visit Cuba from September 3-5 along with a group of members of the Parliament from the Popular Party (PP), the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), and United Left (IU), to boost bilateral relationships.

Posada will meet with representatives of the Cuba´s National Assembly in the headquarters of such institution in Havana. Besides, he will also exchange words with Spanish entrepreneurs living in Cuba.

The official delegation consists of First vice-president of the Congress, Celia Villalobos, the First secretary Ignacio Gil Lazaro, the Third secretary Teresa Cunillera and the spokesman from Izquierda Plural, Jose Luis Centella.

Cubasi Translation Staff

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