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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Capitalism has no interest in abolishing ignorance

MARIELA MARTIN—Granma daily staff writer—
Granma International June 12 2006 - "IF we teach people to read and write we will have hundreds of millions of revolutionaries, of fighters capable of changing the world," affirmed President Fidel Castro during the closing session of the International Literacy and Post-Literacy Seminar that brought together more than 700 delegates from 33 nations at the International Conference Center.

The leader of the Revolution stated: "Capitalism has no interest in abolishing ignorance. It can be confirmed that there is no will to educate people just as we can demonstrate that we want to and can combat ignorance," he assured.

Fidel condemned the consumerism being promoted by the media in the service of capitalism, which focuses more on commercials than looking at the army of the poor and illiterate or preparing the new generations to confront the challenges of this century.

He gave the example of Third World children not attending class because they do not have teachers or educational centers or because they are working in the worst occupations.

The usurpation of a large part of Mexican territory by the United States was noted by Fidel, who condemned the way in which the powerful empire is combating immigrants from that country, despite the fact that they are an essential element of the workforce in the development of the U.S. economy. Throughout history justice has never come or will come until it becomes a survival necessity of the human species and that time is now, he noted.

Thanks to the Cuban "Yes, I Can Do It" educational method more than 1.9 million people in more than 15 countries have become literate; however, Fidel stated that that was a modest merit of the Cuban people. "Our method is no better than the rest," he clarified, "but it has passed a test that validates it and we cannot wait until 2015 to reduce by 50% an illiteracy indicator in excess of 770 million persons.

The fact that the first 1,000 people have recently graduated via the Cuban method and another 120,000 are presently being taught was highlighted by the Cuban president, who affirmed that the goal is to end illiteracy in that sister country within 30 months.

He pointed to the aid loaned by Cuba in the field of health to the Latin American countries and the number of patients to undergo ophthalmological operations from the start of Operation Miracle to date.

Finally, he proposed a discussion on the issues of illiteracy, health and energy policies on sustainable bases at the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement Summit, to be hosted by the island.


Granma International, June 13 2006 - MORE than 25,400 people were evacuated in the westernmost Cuban province of Pinar del Río due to heavy rains associated with the passing of Tropical Storm Alberto, the first of the current hurricane season, and which at the close of this edition was heading for the Florida peninsula.
Alberto, which formed during the morning of June 11 in the southeast part of the Gulf of Mexico, was moving away from Cuba’s coasts; however, the Defense Council in Pinar del Rio has instructed that all precautionary measures are taken to protect human lives and economic assets, and warned that the danger was not over, given the possibility of increased flooding in low-lying areas near reservoirs, according to reports by Granma daily correspondents in the province.


According to information provided by Armando Caymares, a scientist at the Institute of Meteorology Forecast Center, accumulated rainfall in some areas of Pinar del Rio and the special municipality of the Isle of Youth was reported to exceed 300 millimeters during the 24-hour period between 8 a.m. on June 10 and 8 a.m. on June 11.

In the westernmost of the Cuban provinces, for example, the 445mm that fell in Rio Seco and the 398 in Sumidero were reported as the most significant, while in the Isle of Youth, 335mm was reported in Cuba-Francia and 301mm in Derivadora Jagua.

In Havana, while less than 300 mm was reported, 215mm fell in Playa Baracoa and 208 in San Antonio de los Baños.

The rains swelled rivers, cutting off communication by land in several parts of Pinar del Rio, and causing water supply problems and electric power shortages.

Engineer Ramón Pedrera, president of the Electric Company, affirmed that work was underway to reestablish complete service, and explained that the breakdowns were due to the poor state of electric cables, on which rehabilitation work began some months ago.

The province put its generating capacity to work, and 46 generating plants for economic enterprises were started up to keep the latter operating.

It was also reported that some municipalities were looking for alternative ways to pump water using diesel engines.


In Pinar del Rio’s agricultural sector, it was estimated that about 905 12,154 hectares of crops were flooded. The most affected were yucca, plantain, squash and corn. At the close of this edition, no damage to tobacco had been reported.

Nevertheless, the situation has benefited Pinar’s reservoirs. Of the 31, 22 are flowing, and levels have risen to 86%.

From the Isle of Youth, it was reported that some families had been evacuated from the 26 de Julio residential area and that electric power was rapidly restored to Playa Bibijagua and the towns of La Victoria and Argelia Libre.

Losses were minimal, as a result of early and comprehensive protective measures, and were limited mainly to about 255 hectares of tubers and vegetables.

More than eight of the territory’s reservoirs were flowing, and their water levels had risen from 50% to about 90%.

Evacuees who had gone to relatives and families’ homes returned to their homes and public land and air transportation went back to normal operations, while maritime transit was being prepared to do so. Students were expected to return to school on Tuesday, June 13.


A total of 285 people were evacuated by June 11 in Havana due to the rains associated with Alberto, which resulted in 40 partial and three total housing collapses, the AIN reported.

Lieutenant Colonel José Manuel Puente, vice president of the City of Havana government, explained that the evacuees were mostly residents of Old Havana, Cerro and La Lisa who live close to riverbanks, ditches or low-lying areas, and most went to the homes of relatives or friends.

The partial housing collapses occurred in Habana del Este, Central Havana and Diez de Octubre, and the total collapses were in Marianao, Cotorro and Cerro.

Water levels in the province’s reservoirs were rising, and one of them, La Coca, in Habana del Este, was overflowing.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Manolito Launches New Cuban CD

Manolito Launches New Cuban CD
Havana, May 25 (Prensa Latina) Popular Cuban musician and band leader Manolito Simonet and his band, El Trabuco, have just launched "Hablando en Serio" (Talking Seriously), one of the most important events at the 10th International Cubadisco Fair this year.
Ten years ago, famous Cuban percussionist Tata Guines was not wrong when he told a reporter he liked Manolito´s music very much, especially because his music was not imitating anybody's musical style.
This new CD was launched at Casa de La Musica on Galiano Street, center city Havana, by EGREM.
Manolito Simonet was born in Florida, eastern Camaguey Province, and came to music with the Maravillas de Florida group. This group was very popular in the 60s, as were others like Aragon, Sublime, Sensacion and Estrellas de Chocolate.
Manolito Simonet began as a percussionist, but older musicians in the group persuaded him to go to school to become a better performer, which he reluctantly did.
Years later he became an arranger, composer and director of this Cuban group.
In the 90s he created his own group, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, and began making his own music, creating a peculiar sound that, as Cuban musicologist Elsida Gonzalez has said, "does not seem anyone else's sound."
This CD offers 11 cuts notable for their aggressive and polyrhythmic sound from keyboards and metal.

New Label Launched in Cuba

Havana, May 27 (Prensa Latina) Rueda Entertainment label and the DVD "Bailar Casino es muy facil" were launched at the Friendship House in this capital, with the performance of famous Cuban group Moncada.
The new record company is a joint venture by Spain´s Mayab S.A and Cuba´s Representaciones Culturales S. A. (RECSA), and aims to promote dancing and a new type of non-violent, educative video-game for minors.
Jorge Gomez, member of Moncada Group, said the video-game presented is different from others in countries where profits prevail over human values and arouse violence.

Cuba, Ten Days of French Cinema

Havana, May 29 (Prensa Latina) Nineteen French films, including “Merry Christmas” Oscar nominee this year, will be exhibited in Cuba June 3-13, and this time extending to other Cuban provinces, to provide a unique opportunity to interchange with European cinema.
The festival, annually welcomed by Cubans since the decade of the 60s, brings a varied film program with titles like “Russian Doll”, “Cold Showers” and “The role of his life”.
According to Christophen Barratier, heading the festival, some of the full-length films will be presented by their respective directors, and the audience will have a special chance to enjoy some relevant documentaries.
This edition will have a special variety and quality expected to contribute to breaking last year´s record of more than 100,000 attendees.

Cuban Chief Wins World Contest

Havana, May 30 (Prensa Latina) Cuban sommelier and maître Yamir Pelegrino has won the most important world contest on gastronomic literature with his book “Mi Pasion Gourmet” in the category for food professionals.
The World Gourmand Awards, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gathered 582 regional winners from 42 nations in 26 categories.
Pelegrino´s cookbook, which competed with other finalists from countries such Belgium, Brazil, China, UK, France and Germany, was the best rated by the jury.
The Cuban chief, who is president of the Cuban sommeliers, drew inspiration from family traditions using wine.
Mi Pasion Gourmet already won the Latin American Award in the Best Cookbook for Professionals category.
The competition published a yearbook that will be distributed in the main book fairs on the globe: Paris (France), London (UK), the US, Frankfort (Germany), Guadalajara (Mexico) and the Asian fairs.

US-Cuba Research on Humboldt National Park Presented

Havana, May 30 (Prensa Latina) A study of US and Cuban researchers on the Alejandro Humboldt National Park is contained in a book presented today in Guantanamo.
Printed in the United States, the title "Biological Quick Inventory Number 14" has 368 pages referred to the Park located in the eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba and Holguin, which has been recognized as Heritage of Humanity, reports Juventud Rebelde Tuesday.
Biological (and Social) quick inventories are actions to update knowledge on biodiversity in a certain natural area, which allow to adopt conservation measures of that place's value and the education of surrounding communities.
The Humboldt National Park keeps around one thousand plant species, one third of all those reported in Cuba and many endemic to this zone, representative of the Caribbean rain forests.
Its impressive and vast ecosystem is the best conserved in the country and practically virgin due to depopulation and difficult access to this zone.

Cuba, Lowest AIDS Rate in Caribbean

United Nations, May 30 (Prensa Latina) Cuba was highlighted on Tuesday as the Caribbean country with lowest HIV-AIDS levels as well as for carrying out one of the most efficient programs in the world to prevent the transmission of the illness from mothers to children.
The recognition appears in the UNAIDS report on the world AIDS epidemics, presented on Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York, and contrasts the Island with the panorama in neighboring Caribbean nations, which is today the most affected region in the world after Africa for this scourge.
Last year alone the pandemic took over 2.8 million lives in the world, and four more million people were reported to be newly infected.
The document says that in the case of Cuba, there was a 0.1 percent rate for adults by the end of 2005, with some 4,800 people living with HIV and fewer than 500 dead due to diseases associated with AIDS.
The Cuban program to prevent mother-child transmission of HIV has kept the number of newborn HIV children under 100 so far, the report praises

Evo Morales Highlights Cuban Solidarity

Escoma, Bolivia, May 30 (Prensa Latina) President of Bolivia Evo Morales praised Cuba’s solidarity effort in helping his nation. At Tuesday´s opening ceremony of a hospital donated by Cuba, Morales said it is admirable that, despite being US-blockaded for more than 40 years, the Island offers solidarity support to Bolivia and many other countries.
“Sooner or later, when we are out of the economic crisis,” the Bolivian leader said, “we have to support the Cuban people, too.”
Earlier Cuban Ambassador Rafael Dausa ratified his country’s full support to the Bolivian process of changes and its leader, and reiterated that another 19 such health facilities will be inaugurated by late June.
Morales rejected attacks by traditional parties alleging the presence of foreign military forces in Bolivia. He said the only troops from abroad are the Cuban doctors, who have come to save lives.
He highlighted the difference between the labor of the Island’s health professionals, who have treated more than half a million patients and operated on more than 12,000, and the US forces, which were received years before to crush and kill the people.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Israeli minister wanted by FBI to meet Castro

AFP May 15, 2006J ERUSALEM -- Israeli minister Rafi Eitan, a former Mossad spy who is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said on Monday that he would visit Fidel Castro in Cuba next week in a move that could anger the Jewish state's chief ally.

The 79-year-old minister of pensioner affairs said that he would be going to Cuba strictly for private business. "I will be visiting Cuba next week for private business," said Eitan, who entered parliament as leader of the newly-formed Pensioners party and became a minister for the first time following the March 28 elections.

Israel has no diplomatic ties with Cuba due to pressure by the United States, which has placed an embargo on the communist regime of President Fidel Castro since the 1950s.

Eitan, who became a successful businessman after he quit Israel's Mossad intelligence service, has several large-scale farms in Cuba and is a personal friend of Castro.

As a Mossad operative, Eitan handled Jonathan Pollard, a US marine analyst who handed thousands of top secret documents over to Israel in the mid-1980s. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. As Pollard's handler, the FBI issued an arrest warrant against Eitan.

A senior Israeli government official said that "a private trip by a member of the government does not require the cabinet's approval".

The Cuban Foreign Ministeremphasizes importance of 15th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement

Granma International, May 26 2006

HAVANA, May 24— During its Summit this September in Havana, Cuba hopes to reinvigorate the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that was formed in 1961 because that bloc "is more necessary now than ever before," affirmed Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque.

"The movement has been enjoying a strengthening process" causing "Cuba to inherit a situation in which the Movement has reactivated its work, but much still remains to be done," Pérez Roque said during an informal meeting with the press.

The minister emphasized that "the fact that there are no longer two blocs of countries as occurred during the Cold War (…) and a unipolar world has emerged, where there is only one superpower with more military might and technology than the rest, does not mean that the Movement is not needed."

"It is more necessary now than ever before, as a forum where the countries of the South define their positions and fight together for our rights, above all the right to peace and economic development," he commented.

Pérez Roque explained that during the meeting, planned for September 11-16, "a political declaration that updates the framework of action, principals, and proposals within which the Movement functions will be discussed, along with a plan of action for the next three years of Cuba’s presidency."

Cuba, which previously led the NAM between 1979 and 1983, will again assume the presidency following Malaysia, which has occupied this position since 2003. More than 160 delegations are expected to participate in the 15th NAM Summit.
"We expect the 114 member countries to attend, along with 27 other countries and observing organizations. We expect a high level of political presence, including no less than 60 heads of state and (…) we think that there will be massive representation from Latin America and the Caribbean," said Pérez Roque.

He added that at a ministerial meeting of the NAM in Malaysia next weekend, Cuba will present "an extensive report regarding the preparations and documents that must be presented to the heads of state in September in Cuba."

According to Pérez Roque, the NAM "complements" Cuba’s membership in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the project of integration promoted by Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia, "that includes Latin America and the Caribbean (…), while the NAM has a more universal focus." (AFP)

Project seeks to pay tribute to slavery

By VANESSA ARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer Thu May 25

HAVANA - There's hardly a spot on Cuba untouched by its slavery past, not unlike most Caribbean islands.
Ports where African slaves were brought in or taken away, fortresses built with their sweat and tears and sugar mills where they labored to fuel the economy dot the island. Later came the caves where runaway slaves found refuge and plazas that hosted rebellions.

An international effort sponsored by UNESCO
aims to identify and preserve these sites in such places as Cuba, Jamaica, Aruba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The project, called "Sites of Memory on the Slave Route," hopes to turn the sites into cultural tourism destinations and show the world the influence Africans and their descendants have had in the region.

"The African mark is the one that defines Cuban culture," said Miguel Barnet, a renowned Cuban writer and ethnographer. "Of course we have a significant Spanish influence with the language and all, but what really characterizes us, what really makes us different, is, without a doubt, the presence of the African element."

The United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization project "tries to recognize the history of the 20 million Africans who contributed their culture even though they came (to the Americas) as hostages," Barnet said.

Slavery sites have been identified across the Caribbean, nearly 800 in Cuba alone. Each country, however, must ultimately select just five sites for development.

Cemeteries, caves, temples and fortresses are on Cuba's preliminary list of 25 sites, as is the island's southern Valley of the Sugar Mills. Festivals and other Afro-Cuban traditions have also been included.

Cuba became the main Caribbean destination for slaves after the Haitian Revolution, the period from 1791 to 1804 when a half million slaves in what was then the French colony of Haiti rose up against their white owners.

Fear of a similar revolt in Cuba caused Creole elites to try to strengthen ties with Spain at a time when other colonies were trying to break free from their European rulers. Slavery was officially abolished in Cuba in 1845, though the trade continued illegally until about 1870.

The Cuban economy was driven by slaves, who provided the manual labor for the sugar industry, as well as on coffee and tobacco plantations.

"The Slave Routes project is truly a recognition of this heritage, which is such an inseparable part of us as Cubans," said Nilson Acosta, an official with the island's Cultural Patrimony office. "Talk of monuments usually glorifies the great, grand works of art ... but this is an opportunity for sites associated with our slavery past to be integrated as well."

Acosta presented the methodology Cuba is using to select its sites at a three-day conference in Havana last week for Caribbean academics, museum curators and others involved in the project.

Patricia Green, a participant from Jamaica, has been working on the project for several years as a consultant with UNESCO. In the early stages, she helped organize potential sites into categories, such as places of confinement, refuge or burial.
Now the project focuses on selecting and developing the sites. But a primary long-term goal is to turn the sites into tourism destinations, Green said.

"The Caribbean is more than just sand and sea," she said. "This is one way to enhance the tourism, to show the people for who they really are. These sites are a source of pride."

On the Net:

Pakistan and Cuba agree to boost ties

By Qudssia Akhlaque

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Cuba have expressed their resolve to keep working for consolidating bilateral ties that had been deepened by the Cuban humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the Oct 8 earthquake.

These sentiments were shared by President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla at a meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Parrilla has been in Pakistan since October supervising Cuban medical relief mission in quake-affected areas. He is now returning to Cuba.

During the farewell call on the president, Mr Parrilla said that Cuba had extended the assistance with a sense of duty. He said the Cuban medical team was returning home with immense gratification and would leave behind all the field hospitals it had established here.

“President Pervez Musharraf expressed profound gratitude of the government and people of Pakistan for the substantial assistance provided by Cuba in the relief and rehabilitation work,” a foreign ministry statement said.

He particularly appreciated the goodwill gesture of President Fidel Castro and lauded the spirit and services of the Cuban medical personnel.

“The president said that Cuba’s contribution to our relief efforts would always be remembered by the people of Pakistan,” the statement said.

The Cuban mission had set up 32 field hospitals and two relief camps in the NWFP and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, staffed by more than 2,400 doctors, paramedics and physiotherapists. Tons of medicines and medical equipment were also dispatched by Cuba over the past seven months. About 30 amputee patients received treatment in Cuba.

The head of the Cuban relief mission in Pakistan, Ambassador Ivan Mora Godoy, and Chief Medical Officer Dr Juan Carlos accompanied Mr Parrilla.

Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority deputy chairman Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed was also present on the occasion.
Courtesy DAWN

Malaysia And Cuba To Resolve Outstanding Issues In NAM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will be working closely with Cuba in resolving the outstanding issues within the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said Thursday.

He said it was hoped that Cuba would be more active in addressing both political and economic issues confronting the organisation."Malaysia is very active in NAM and is behind it throughout these three years.

We will play a more important role in helping Cuba to address issues concerning NAM members."We hope that we have done great things during our tenure as NAM chair," he told Bernama at the 43rd Africa Day celebrations here.

Malaysia took the helm as NAM chair from South Africa when it hosted the 13th NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur in February 2003 and revitalising the movement was one of the priorities set by Malaysia then.

Cuba with a population of 11.3 million people will take over the NAM chairmanship from Malaysia in September when it hosts the 14th NAM Summit from Sept 11 to 16 under the leadership of President Fidel Castro.

The NAM Coordinating Bureau (NAM-CoB) ministerial meeting in Putrajaya from May 27 to 30 will discuss among others the preparations for the Havana Summit besides reviewing the implementation of decisions on the 13th Summit.

Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba to sign eight cooperation agreements

Granma International, May 26 2006

LA PAZ, May 24 — Eight cooperation agreements covering a variety of areas that will strengthen the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) are to be signed during a meeting between Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.

Bolivian presidential spokesman Alex Contreras said the agreements are to be signed next Friday, PL reported.

Contreras said that part of the agreements already negotiated deal with cooperation in the fields of education and health, Cuban strengths now being shared with Bolivia and Venezuela.

Agreements will also be signed between La Paz and Caracas for joint development projects between the state-run hydrocarbon enterprises of both nations.

By virtue of those agreements, as well as three asphalt factories, natural gas production plants will be established, which will make it possible, Contreras said, for Bolivia to stop being simply a gas vendor and begin to export derivatives.
An agreement will also be signed for the establishment of a bi-national enterprise, Minera de Sur (Minersur), which according to Walter Villarroel, minister of mining, will develop projects in a number of regions.

Villarroel left open the possibility that Minersur would operate in the giant iron mine in Mutún, near the border with Brazil, where the government is putting out to tender internationally the establishment of an iron and steel industry.

Hugo Salvatierra, minister of rural and agricultural development, noted the importance of an agreement for $100 million in credit that Venezuela will provide a support fund for small producers, which will be decisive to the agricultural sector.

Other agreements will facilitate the establishment of centers for the legal industrialization of the coca leaf and the development of agribusiness projects for coffee, tea and soy, he added.

Thumbs Up Castro: British Lawmaker Praises Cuba

In Cuba Visit, British Lawmaker George Galloway
Defends Castro As a 'Lion' of World Politics


HAVANA May 25, 2006 (AP)— An outspoken British lawmaker appeared on Cuban television praising Fidel Castro as a "lion" of world politics and defending the Cuban leader against a magazine report naming him one of the world's wealthiest rulers.

George Galloway, on an unannounced visit to Havana, showered Castro with praise in his Wednesday night appearance on the communist government's daily public-affairs program "Mesa Redonda," or "Round Table."

"No responsible person in the world believes that Fidel Castro has a personal fortune of $900 million," Galloway said, referring to the wealth Forbes magazine attributed to Castro.

The lawmaker, who formed the Respect Party after he was thrown out of the Labor Party for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq, himself has been the target of financial allegations. He has denied persistent accusation that Saddam Hussein's regime allocated millions of barrels of oil in his name as part of a huge fraud in the prewar U.N. oil-for-food program.

Investigators of the oil-for-food program and a U.S. Senate subcommittee inquiry both accused him of receiving money.

In its May 5 "Fortunes Of Kings, Queens And Dictators" article, Forbes put Castro seventh in a list of 10 world leaders with "lofty positions and vast fortunes."
Forbes said it assumed Castro has economic control over a network of state-owned companies, including El Palacio de Convenciones, a convention center near Havana; the retail conglomerate Cimex; and Medicuba, which sells vaccines and other pharmaceuticals produced in Cuba. The article also referred to rumors of Castro having "large stashes in Swiss bank accounts."

Castro has called the report "rubbish" and said he'll resign the day critics prove he has money in foreign accounts.

Castro sat in on Wednesday night's "Round Table," which lasted seven hours. He again defended himself, in what's becoming a full-fledged government campaign to discredit the report.

"The Cubans are the only people in the entire world who have a leader who can say that he doesn't possess one dollar to his name," Galloway said.

Forbes said Thursday that it stood by its reporting, and had not factored possible foreign bank accounts into its estimate.

Southcom general: Cuba policy needs a fresh look


WASHINGTON - In unusually frank criticism of U.S. policy on Cuba by a top military officer, the outgoing head of the Miami-based Southern Command said Thursday he favors a top-to-bottom review of the policies, including a long-standing ban on most contacts between the U.S. and Cuban militaries.
The comments by Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock came just days before President Bush is to receive a major report on U.S. policies toward the island, coordinated by the State Department but with input from other agencies, including the Department of Defense.

''One of the things that we as a government probably don't do well is to review our policies and our laws routinely, based upon the conditions in the world changing,'' Craddock said in response to a question about Cuba during a briefing for a small group of reporters.

''My judgment is we need to relook laws, policies more often to ensure that they still make sense, given the changing conditions in the world,'' he said, adding, ``I don't want to make a judgment on whether or not to change [the Cuba policy], but I think it needs to be re-looked.''

Craddock added that it's time to review the laws ''stem to stern'' and not just the long-standing ban on military-to-military contacts beyond the regular talks on purely local issues between U.S. and Cuban military officers along the fence surrounding the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo.


Proponents of the broader contacts have argued that the U.S. military should have regular contacts with Cuban officers to allow for reliable communications in case of instability on the island and because the Cuban military is seen as the only institution that can maintain order in a post-Castro Cuba.

Opponents of the military-to-military contacts say they would do more harm than good. The Cuban military would likely continue the communist system on the island, and meetings would expose U.S. officers to Cuban intelligence penetration.

''We have nothing to gain in such an encounter,'' said Roger Noriega, a former assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere in the Bush administration. ``Unfortunately, the record is that the U.S. military is manipulated by the Cubans. The Cubans put up their most disciplined, ideological people on that account.''


Craddock is expected to become NATO commander at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe this summer. Navy Vice Adm. James Stavridis, a close aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has been nominated to replace Craddock.
Other Southcom commanders have questioned the lack of contacts with the Cuban military, but only after retiring. Gen. Charles Wilhelm, a predecessor of Craddock, said in September 2002 that Cuba was a ``47,000-square-mile blind spot in [our] rearview mirror.''

''Sounds like [Craddock] is stepping in the policy realm pretty heavily,'' said Glenn Baker, director of the U.S.-Cuba Cooperative Security Project at the World Security Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes research on defense issues and has arranged trips to Cuba by retired U.S. officers.

U.S.-Cuba exchanges usually take place through diplomats posted in the Interest Sections, the quasi-embassies in each other's capitals. The two sides have had no formal talks since June 2003, when they discussed migration.

Eric Watnik, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment on Craddock's remarks. Army Col. Bill Costello, Southcom's chief public affairs officer, said Craddock's comments reflected the views of the command but not necessarily those of the Defense Department.

Cuba: Heavy Rains Kill Seven

Havana, May 25 (Prensa Latina) The torrential rainfall in Havana left seven dead people and considerable damages, an official note said Thursday.
On Tuesday, nearly 120 millimeters of downpour in barely two hours mainly flooded the low-lying areas near the Quibu and Almendares rivers, whose water levels reached 7 and 3 meters, respectively.
The National Institute of Hydraulic Resources informed the rainstorms also drenched 8 of the 15 municipalities in this capital. In some localities 290 millimeters of rain fell.
That phenomenon forced the closing of Linea and the 5th Avenue tunnels and affected the gas service in Marianao and Playa municipalities.
It resulted in 348 irregularities in the power service, now almost all restored, total and partial collapses in warehouses and schools and contaminated cisterns of some hospitals, work centers and houses.
According to the note, the authorities are currently assessing the damage in the economic and housing sectors and working to restore normality in the hit areas.

ALBA Generates Great Expectation

La Paz, May 25 (Prensa Latina) Great hopes have been generated for Friday´s meeting of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela to contribute with the consolidation of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), through the signing of important cooperation agreements.
Bolivian and Venezuelan Presidents Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez will attend the agreement signing in Sinahota, in the central Bolivian region of Chapare, revealed an official note widely headlined on Thursday.
The meeting will center on the integration agreements signed by the three nations in a summit in Havana on April 28 on the occasion of ALBA’s first anniversary.
President of the state Bolivian Tax Oilfield enterprise, Jorge Alvarado, highlighted the importance of the expected agreements with Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which will benefit Bolivia with 51 percent of net profits.
According to local media, the Bolivian-Venezuelan agreements will allow implementation of more than 200 projects, including the creation of the south’s bi-national oil company (Minersur).
Other joint projects will count on Cuban participation and relate to the industrialization of coffee, tea and soy, as well as exchanges in the fields of health, education, sports and culture where Cuba exhibits outstanding results.
“Separately we are small countries compared to the great transnational corporations, but together we can boost our national resources,” asserted Victor Alvarez, Venezuelan minister of Basic Industries and Mining.

Morales Expresses Admiration for Cuba

Sucre, Bolivia, May 25 (Prensa Latina) President of Bolivia Evo Morales has ratified his respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their President Fidel Castro.
In his speech Thursday at the opening ceremony of Operation Miracle’s fifth ophthalmologic facility in Sucre, Morales described the center as the best 197th anniversary of independence gift for the poor who cannot afford such ophthalmologic operations.
He revealed that in initial talks with Cuba in December, the materialization of such a project seemed so difficult to him that now it is like a true miracle.
He highlighted that Cuban doctors have so far treated more than 10,000 Bolivian patients as part of Operation Miracle, plus another 2,000 who have been operated on in Cuba, and thanked the Cuban people for that.
I give my respect and admiration to the Cuban people and their commander, said Morales, and stressed that Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela are building Latin American unity among sovereign peoples.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cuban Delegation Welcomed in Turkey

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Turkey´s Foreign Relations Minister and Assistant Prime Minister Abdullah Gul welcomed a Cuban delegation in Ankara Wednesday, led by Cuba´s Assistant Foreign Minister Eumelio Caballero.
During the three-day official visit, the Caribbean delegation will meet with representatives of the Justice and Development Party, Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, and the Friendship with Cuba Parliamentary Group.
The ceremony to name one of the country’s streets after Cuban National Hero Jose Marti stood as a very special moment where participants recalled important historic coincidences between both nations, as well as the anti-imperialist ideas of Marti and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey.
The interchange has contributed to strengthen the existing good ties between Cuba and Turkey. The Cuban visitors have corroborated the great sympathy and feelings of friendship the Turkish people feel toward the Cuban revolution and its leaders, a Cuban Foreign Ministry note reported.

Cuba Eliminates Radio & TV Zones of Silence

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's first satellite platform for radio and TV broadcast will cover five channels and five radio stations and bring telecommunication to new zones of the country for the first time, especially in mountain areas.

Recent investments allowed installation of satellite receptors and parabolic antennas in social institutions with joint work by Radio Cuba and Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA).

Specialist Maria Cristina Bravo, of Copextel Marketing and Communications Division, said the platform airs broadcasts of Cubavision, Cubavision International, Tele-Rebelde, Canal Educativo and Educativo 2.

Radio Rebelde, Radio Progreso, Radio Taino, Radio Habana Cuba and Radio Reloj will be the stations broadcast.

The platform also helps with reception of TV and radio signals from throughout Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean and most of North America.
She added that these changes modernize broadcasting via information technology that secure quality signals and enhance TV transmission and mid-wave services.

Developing the modulated frequency will also improve quality and allow automation and installation of distance-management to control and supervise all transmitter centers.

Radio Cuba will be in charge of securing international, national, provincial and local radio broadcasts, as well as national and provincial TV broadcast.

Cuba Extends Telecommunication Network

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Cuba’s Telecommunication Enterprise (ETECSA) is present in 206 points with at least 12 ports devoted to internet connection, part of the Cuban “informatization” project, bringing internet to the Cuban public.
According to experts of the Computing and Communications Ministry, those figures illustrate Cuba´s model of prioritizing social services in facilitating and developing network access.

Since 2004, ETECSA has implemented a development plan to increase social connection services throughout the country.

The goal is to provide clinics, schools, youth computing clubs, and state entities with the possibilities for data bases and information exchange, which entails greater computerization and harmonic economic development.

The increase of data transmission through Internet in territories so far excluded from that service, and the extension of the satellite network to remote areas stand as some of the priorities for ETECSA this year.

Fidel Castro Repeats Forbes Challenge

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Repeating his demand that Forbes financial magazine prove its allegation that he has a huge personal fortune, Cuban President Fidel Castro said Wednesday "it has been challenged and cannot remain quiet".

The Cuban head of State has described Forbes as a libelous publication and today declared, in a TV broadcast attended by top government officials and other guests, it (Forbes) is in a dead-end alley, it has fallen in its own trap, and scored a self-goal.

Ten days ago the statesman challenged US President Bush, the CIA, all 33 US intelligence agencies and the thousands of banks in the world to prove those lies, and if they could find even one dollar in one account in his name, he would resign.

Wednesday he insisted that Forbes executives be forced to respond to that challenge or apologize to the world public for the slander they published, according to which he is one of the world´s ten richest leaders.

President Castro criticized the US government for using defamation, slander and lies as "one of the worst weapons against everything that is progressive in the world, against everything hat is just."

Fidel Castro noted that Forbes´ defamations "can be proven", and referred to opinions, which he described as encouraging, by Cubans and friends of the island, who have expressed confidence in the honesty and probity of the Revolution´s leadership.

There is a great deal to be said and a lot to be discussed, he said, adding that it is necessary to dismantle the tall stories with which world public opinion has been deceived.

Also present at the TV studio Wednesday were Central Bank Minister-president Francisco Soberon, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, Culture Minister Abel Prieto, scientist Agustin Lage, and the director of Juventud Rebelde newspaper, Rogelio Polanco.

'Simplemente a lo Cubano'

A model presents 'Simplemente a lo Cubano' from designer Isabel Santos during an 'Art and Fashion' show at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Cuban models twirled turquoise-colored ribbons and flaunted papier-mch tops and bright crocheted jumpsuits in a fashion show that paid homage to the art behind Cuba's long tobacco tradition.(AP Photo/ Javier Galeano)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

U.S. BASE IN GUANTANAMO:Illegal twice over

Granma International, May 24 2006

A collective suicide attempt by prisoners at the Guantanamo naval base was reported by the authorities of that prison, located on Cuban territory illegally occupied by the United States. There, 460 individuals of various nationalities are still being held without any evidence against them and with no legal rights.
Official records show that there have been 41 suicide attempts since the prison opened in January 2002. Released prisoners say that due to a lack of appropriate instruments, some detainees have tried to kill themselves by biting their own veins, an act considered extremely desperate.

On this most recent occasion, several prisoners using improvised means tried to protect those who prefer to abandon this world instead of continue undergoing the humiliations and abuse to which they are being subjected.

The fact that they have no legal rights is confirmed in a ruling issued by the UN Committee against Torture, which not only requested that the U.S. government close that arbitrary prison, but also urged it to change what they euphemistically called interrogation techniques, because they amount to torture, as well as a halt to brutal treatment such as what is called the "submarine technique," in which the prisoner’s head is submerged in water to the brink of asphyxia.

This was a method, by the way, used by the military dictatorships of the Southern Cone in the 70’s and 80’s, possibly because those criminals were taught by U.S. instructors. It appears that they have continued to use these methods.
After detailed investigations, including a deposition in their own defense by representatives of the Bush government, the UN committee’s final report reaffirmed the existence of secret prisons. What would Javier Solanas say now, after claiming that there were none?

That working group has obtained reliable information about U.S. prisons on foreign soil, and in response to Washington’s allegations that international conventions do not apply in the case of war, the UN experts reconfirmed that torture cannot be justified under any circumstances.

It is possible that the United States only fulfills the most visible parts of international requirements given that even its closest allies are demanding a bit of decorum, but only that, a little composure. Sadly, not much else. It is probable that such kindness has given rise to the Bush government’s statements, via Condolezza Rice, that it will maintain its prison in southeastern Cuba.

However, not only should this enclave be closed, the United States should also completely get out of the territory that does not belong to them and that they use in such a degrading manner. (E.C.)

IOC president to attend Sport For All congress in Havana

BY Anne Marie García - Granma International May 23 2006

JACQUES Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is to attend the 11th Sport For All Congress, scheduled to take place in Havana next October. Pedro Cabrera, press director at the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER), said that Rogge has confirmed he will attend the IOC-sponsored event from October 31 to November 3.

"It is expected that more than 2,000 people representing 100 countries will take part in the IOC-sponsored congress which, for the first time, will be held in Cuba," commented the Cuban official.

During the press conference for the congress, Rogge recalled that the event acknowledges that "sport forms part of social development and that physical activity constitutes an essential element to guarantee a healthy body and mind."
For his part, José Ramón Fernández, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, stated that the central theme of the Congress is "Physical activity: benefits and challenges."

Fernández indicated that the event will provide a space to reflect on sports programs and activities, new research and advances in the concept of Sport for All.

Healthcare and sports specialists from Brazil, Canada, the United States, Finland and South Africa, as well as Cuba, will give seminars on the subject.

The Sport for All Congress is also sponsored by the World Health Organization and the General Association of International Sports Federations. It has taken place every two years since its inception in 1986 (in Frankfurt, Germany) and was last held in Rome, Italy in 2004.

Many Olympic and world champions are members of IOC’s Sport For All organization including former Polish sprinter Irena Szewinska and current world champion javelin thrower Jan Zelezni from the Czech Republic.

(For further information, contact:

Grand jury in El Paso investigating Posada

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD—Special for Granma International—
WITH absolute discretion - a total secret that the U.S. media apparently respected scrupulously - a grand jury in El Paso, Texas began a formal investigation "last week" into Luis Posada Carriles’ illegal entry into the country over than a year ago.

The news supposedly reached Miami via the very terrorists – who are frequently sources for the local media – implicated in the crime, two of whom have been the only witnesses to date in the legal proceedings that could culminate in Posada being charged with a crime that he has repeatedly committed over the years.

In the May 22 edition of the newspaper El Nuevo Herald, it is revealed that Posada’s "controversial entry" into the country is being investigated, and that "at least two Miami residents were subpoenaed to give testimony." It cites two "exiles." Ernesto Abreu and Generoso Bringas, "both associated with Posada and members of the Foundation for the Protection of Caribbean Marine Ecology (FPEMC)," the fake owner of the shrimping boat Santrina, in which the old terrorist carried out his clandestine trip.

"They had to appear before a federal court in El Paso last week," the article says, adding that they did not know about the investigation.
The article later refers to José "Pepín" Pujol, the Santrina’s owner, who says, "Those two were called to Texas by a grand jury, but I don’t know anything about the investigation.

The supposed environmentalist Abreu – who knows as much about ecology as George W. Bush does – is president of the FPEMC, a cover for carrying out criminal activity. He declined to make any comments, the newspaper says, specifying that it was impossible to locate Bringas. "Both could be obeying a gag order by the court," the article says.

On June 4, 1998 the same newspaper announced that a group of terrorists from the so-called Revolutionary Recovery Movement (MRR) had landed the previous week in northern Pinar del Río province.

The father of Ernesto Abreu, now implicated in Posada’s legal proceedings, was the leader of the counterrevolutionary "commando."

According to the newspaper itself, Abreu, 73 years old, "led the MRR for years, and during the 19950-1996 period, presided over the international leadership of the Cuban Patriotic Council (Junta Patriótica Cubana)," another organization that preaches and practices terror.

El Nuevo Herald then identified the MRR "chief" as... Generoso Bringas, the same individual summoned to El Paso.

However, it does not specify that Abreu was an "eminent" member of the People’s Protagonist Party (Partido Protagonista del Pueblo), led by Orlando Bosch, as he later confessed.

Abreu was arrested several days later with the only member of his supposed group, and confirmed to Cuban authorities that he had been recruited in Miami by Bringas.

The boat used at that time had a commercial cover, not an "environmentalist" one, given that it was registered under the name of the company Emanuel Boat and Fishing, located on 6320 92nd Street SW in Miami, the residence of another criminal, Oscar Salas. Ernestino Salas was freed in 2002 for humanitarian reasons.

Ernesto Abreu, Ernestino’s son, was in Panama with Osvaldo Mitat during Posada’s trial there. At that time, Santiago Álvarez did not dare enter that country for fear of Interpol. That same individual is now organizing public protests on behalf of Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat, his accomplices.


On May 21, Posada’s attorney, Eduardo Soto, confirmed that the grand jury had been convened, given that he was up-to-date. "I really can’t imagine what they’re looking for," he told El Nuevo Herald, as serious as could be.

In spite of all the testimony regarding Posada’s presence in the FPEMC’s "school-boat," the mafiosi lawyer continued to "firmly believe" in his client’s lies about his entry into the United States, "in an automobile across the Mexican border," although he is preparing a strategic retreat: "At this point, it no longer matters whether or not he traveled on the Santrina," he says.

Until recently, U.S. legal authorities admitted that Posada Carriles entered Miami illegally on the Santrina. After 13 months of silence, that was confirmed by FBI documents presented by the U.S. Attorney to the federal court that tried Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat.

According to a meticulous investigation by the Mexican newspaper Por Esto! the Santrina picked up Posada Carriles on March 14, 2005 from Isla Mujeres to take him secretly to Miami. On that same boat, other passengers were Miami "promoter" and terrorist Santiago Álvarez and CIA operative José Hilario "Pepín" Pujol, the boat’s "captain," along with Rubén López Castro, Gilberto Abascal and Oswaldo Mitat.

A few months ago, "Pepín" Pujol admitted to journalists that he had been trained by the CIA, and also acknowledged that he had "made a lot of incursions" into Cuban territory, describing himself as an "expert" at infiltrating Cuba by sea.
Rubén López Castro, 67, is the owner of the house where Posada stayed for at least six weeks while he was hiding in Miami, and where he was arrested on May 17. This same Cuban-American extremist participated on October 4, 1973, in a terrorist attack that resulted in the death of Cuban Luis Torna Mirabal.

Not Santiago Alvarez, nor Mitat, nor Pujol, nor López Castro, nor
Abascal, all linked to the most fanatic terrorist circles of Miami, have been summoned by the grand jury in Texas.

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia praises Cuban assistance

Through Operation Miracle, 14,000 low-income people have been attended free of charge in that eastern Caribbean island and another 1,800 have received treatment in Cuba to recover their vision
Granma International, May 24 2006
IN Havana, Saint Lucia Prime Minster Kenny D. Anthony praised aid received from Cuba, especially via Operation Miracle, through which 14,000 low-income people have been attended in that country, free of charge, and another 1,800 have received treatment in Cuba to recover their vision.

The hearts of St. Lucians have been moved by this tremendous support, declared Anthony upon arriving in Cuba on May 22 for a visit, during which he is to hold talks with President Fidel Castro and other leaders, and tour sites of scientific, economic, cultural and social interest.

The Prime Minister’s stay is an expression of mutual interests in building closer political ties and cooperation, and strengthening the existing excellent relations between the two countries, according to a daily Granma article.
When asked by reporters, Anthony pointed out that in his meeting with Fidel he hopes to strengthen ties in public health and sports.

Cuba and Saint Lucia established diplomatic relations August 23, 1979 and since then Cuba has shown appreciable collaboration with that eastern Caribbean island principally in the spheres of health and in the formation of human resources.


By virtue of that cooperation, 235 Saint Lucian scholarship students are enrolled in Cuban educational centers, 214 of them in higher education. Currently, 162 more are taking courses in areas of health, sports and other university disciplines.

In his address, the Prime Minister also thanked Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for having included his country in the PetroCaribe agreement, which he recognized is vital, given that small economies are the most affected by the rise in oil prices.

Anthony, who holds the Order of José Martí, presented to him by Fidel in 1999 in accordance with Council of State of the Republic of Cuba, traveled accompanied by his wife and a large government delegation from his country.

Elected Prime Minister on May 23, 1997 and re-elected for a new mandate in November 2001, the distinguished visitor is also minister of finance and of economic affairs and information, as well as leader of the Labour Party of Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucia, the second of the so-called Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, is situated 40 kilometers south of Martinique and 32 km northeast of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Its territory extends over 616 square kilometers, and its population numbers 164,791.

Cuban Prima Ballerina Receives Brazilian Honor

Rio de Janeiro, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Director of the Cuban National Ballet, Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso, was awarded the Pinheiro Order, official degree, in homage to her life and work, and “to her capacity to keep on and not give up.”
The recognition, consisting of a medal and a diploma, was given by the governor of the Brazilian state of Parana, who praised her great contributions to universal dance and her brilliant professional career.
This order, he remarked, is a homage to the Cuban people, “who have faced economic adversities, defends diversity with their example and join the world’s mobilization against globalization.” Thanks for your life and for being here, he concluded.
Alicia Alonso’s company is touring Brazil and is to perform in Belo Horizonte, the Amazon, and finally in Sao Paulo.

Bis Music Scores Big at Cubadisco

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) The “Interactive Group”, salsa singer Paulo FG, troubadour singer-songwriter Gerardo Alfonso, jazz musician Cesar Lopez and rapper Papo Record helped their record company Bis Music score eight awards in Cuba´s Cubadisco 2006 competition.
Bis Music, which produces the albums for these prizewinning artists, and had 15 nominations and a Grand Prize, expressed pleasure at the overwhelming success of Cubadisco’s 10th edition.
In a press conference Tuesday at the Hispano-American Culture Center, Interactive Group director Roberto Carcases, Cubadisco grand prizewinner, said his project reflects “its members´ fusion and love for music.”
Papo Record, leading the category of Rap, highlighted that his album reflects the things he sees, feels and thinks can improve society.
For Gerardo Alfonso, winner in the troubadour division, his CD “Race” means a look at racial pluralism through music, while Paulo FG admitted this award sets him at the threshold of a genre devoted to feelings and love beyond his beloved salsa.
Musician Cesar Lopez, former member of Irakere and presently known as the most outstanding Cuban sax player, stated he has just trying to pay homage to jazz and he definitely succeeded.

Chinese Symphony Director Performs in Cuba

Holguin, Cuba, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Zhang Yi, director of the Chinese National Ballet Orchestra, will conduct the Holguin Symphony Orchestra (Cuba) in this northeastern Cuban city this weekend.
Together with Zhang Yi, Liu Hongling (China’s National Opera Theater) soprano and baritone Wang Limin will perform arias from several operas.
The Holguin Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2000 by pianist and music professor Cecilio Gomez, and has been conducted by other prestigious guest directors, such as Leo Brouwer, Bernard Rubinstein (USA) and Rafael del Pozo (Spain).
This presentation at La Periquera Provincial Museum Hall coincides with an international conference in Havana on the Chinese cultural traditions of Chinese overseas communities, their integration and the IX Chinese Abroad Festival.
Recently, the Culture Ministries of Cuba and China signed an agreement for 2007-2009, to deepen and widen bilateral links.

Buena Vista Opened Musical Doors

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) A relevant expert in a music recording forum in this capital praised the importance of the project Buena Vista Social Club (1998) for spreading traditional Latin music.
Ciro Benemelis stated "Buena Vista´success had recordings of the traditional gender in the first session of the International Symposium Cubadisco Fair".
"This explosion nominates 11 discs in that category," the official said to the Cuban journalist Pedro de la Oz.
Some participants in the Ry Cooder CD (Compay Segundo, Omara Portuondo, Eliades Ochoa, Ruben Gonzalez) had records that did not succeed because of the problems in the international distribution, according Benemelis.
The director of the National Record Office stated that after that "colonizers and discoverers" arrived from abroad and "there were people among us that wanted to be saved and discovered."
This executive said such problem brought as a consequence a traditional explosion and groups that work in tourism started to record traditional themes thinking only of making a buck.
Ciro Benemelis confessed to liking folk music, but at the same time he believes in innovations, success and fashion.

USA Heads New Caribbean War Games

Willemstad, May 23 (Prensa Latina) NATO troops, led by the United States, began the 2006 Joint “Caribbean Lion” military maneuvers on Tuesday, based in Curacao, just 31 miles from Venezuela.
Some 4,000 soldiers from the United States, Holland, Belgium, Canada, and France will be deployed in the Caribbean for 23 days, in addition to the 1,500 other soldiers that the Pentagon sent to the area in early April.
Although Holland claims to be the training leader, regional social and political groups and governments have called attention to the exceptionally strong US military presence, and attribute threatening objectives to it.
After ordering departure of three military ships from Norfolk, Virginia, the US Southern Command reported that actions Wednesday will be conducted by Amphibious Squadron Comdr. Donna Looney.
With reconnaissance flights, depth measurements, and terrain analysis, the United States could be assessing possibilities of succeeding in a military aggression on a country in the area, experts agreed.

Heavy Rains Flood Havana

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Some of the main routes in the hart of Havana were affected by 12 hour showers along western Cuba.
Several areas were flooded by 120 millimeters downpour in barely two hours, forcing the Civil Defense and firemen to evacuate residents.
Both the Almendares river and Havana Bay tunnels were blocked, although the latter has already opened, as well as segments of 5th Ave.
While the authorities still assess the scope of the damages, storm clouds cover the skies and the National Meteorology Institute confirmed foul weather and more rain every day through Saturday.

45,000 Foreigners Received Cuban Degrees

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Public Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer reported that 45,352 foreign youth from 129 nations have graduated in Cuba since 1961, including 30,109 from sub-Saharan Africa and 8,718 from Latin America, and 17,495 are presently studying in the Island.
Balaguer also pointed out that, since 1962, 104,437 Cuban health personnel have helped people in 101 countries, and 29,223 are presently working in 68 nations in various continents.

The Caribbean island has helped built 11 Medical Science faculties in Third World nations, and 305 teachers are currently teaching in 24 medical schools in 17 countries, according to the minister.
He referred to Operation Miracle, which President Fidel Castro has been spearheading and fostering, to provide medical assistance for millions of poor people suffering from curable eye afflictions.

Under that program that so far has targeted 23 Latin American and Caribbean states, 284,750 people with economic difficulties –including 56,000 Cubans- have been operated on since 2004.

Cuba has sent 27 medical brigades to over 15 nations that have been rocked by natural disasters, and a 1,564-strong health contingent worked in Pakistan after a furious quake hit that territory. That brigade built 32 hospitals, treated 1.65 million Pakistanis –including 6, 391 major surgeries- and helped 960,226 people with technical rehabilitation projects.

Cuba Suffers Late May Downpour

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Although awaited anxiously by most Cubans, the May rainy season started late this year, but when it came it came with a vengeance, causing mixed reactions for the recipients.

At once grateful for the rain needed to ease the severe drought some eastern provinces have suffered for years, Cubans, especially in the capital, reported damage to buildings from the flash floods caused by the five inch of rain that fell in two hours Tuesday.

Central Havana and other areas near the Malecon seawall had flooding three feet deep enter low-lying residences, necessitating some evacuations, because the sewers and drainage systems were unable to absorb the powerful currents.

Authorities reported that the rain cut-off traffic through the Bay and Fifth Avenue tunnels, main arteries to and from center city.

The River Quibu flooded western Havana, affecting areas from Marianao and La Lisa to parts of Playa, and the sewage system collapsed in Miramar.

The Civil Defense, Special Rescue and Salvage Command went into action rescuing flooded-out residents, and trying to help them protect household goods such as bedding and refrigerators.
Beyond the damage to homes, parks and streets, the rains also enraged baseball fans; the waters forced postponement of the National Baseball Championships Finals.

St. Lucia, Cuba Fortify Teamwork

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) The official visit St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony is making to Cuba has contributed a step forward in the development of bilateral collaboration, after official talks with President Fidel Castro.
When meeting Tuesday at the Revolution Palace, the two leaders analyzed the state of bilateral relations, established at the diplomatic level on August 23, 1979.
The visitor also toured the Ramon Pando Ferrer National Ophthalmologic Institute and the Marina Hemingway Hotel-Hospital, where he was informed about the Operation Miracle project.
Over 1,800 patients from St. Lucia have had free eye operations in Cuba so far as part of that program, which is the result of a joint effort by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela. With this project, six million Latin American and Caribbean low-income patients will have their vision recovered free of charge over a ten-year term.
Cuba and St. Lucia are fostering fruitful cooperation in key fields such as public health and training of human resources.
A total of 235 St. Lucian students graduated from Cuban schools from 1961 to 2005, and another 162 are currently studying at the university level.

Cuban Music in World Ears

Havana, May 24(Prensa Latina) Cuba is trying to focus on its international musical work by collaborating with alternative record companies, according to reports Wednesday in this city.
Ciro Benemelis, President of the International Cubadisco Fair from May 20-28, said "Despite our limitations we have notable experience that allows us to lead projects and dreams."
Those initiatives could be directed by the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a project of emancipation and solidarity headed by Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, according to the high-ranking official, who is also a musician.
"It is necessary to create an Internet side of Latin and Caribbean music," Benemelis said.
He said there are experienced entities like the Casa de las Americas, Center for Popular Music Development and Research and the Cuban Association of Authors Rights.

Cuban Rum Enchants Japan

Habana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban rum Arecha is a great hit at Japan's Foodex International Fair, termed the largest display in Asia and the fourth most important trade expo in the world.
International marketing experts from the Union of Beverages and Soft Drinks at the Cuban Food Industry Ministry stated that not only Arecha rum but also the Cuban beer Tinima "have had great acceptance from Japanese people," according to reports Wednesday by Opciones economic website.

This emblematic rum has carved out a space in the Japanese market, due to characteristics, and has currently showed a trend to the consumption of dark rums," sources stated. Since its first edition in 1976, the Foodex Fair has enjoyed an increasing prestige among traders from several regions of the planet, giving last-minute information on food and drinks, and opportunities to expand trade links among exhibitors and visitors.

Cuba Names New Audit Minister

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Following a proposal by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party´s Central Committee, Cuba´s Council of State has appointed Gladys Maria Bejerano Portela as audit minister.
Portela had been serving as vice minister of that sector since 2001, and will replace Lina O. Pedraza Rodriguez, who will be promoted to other responsibilities at the Central Committee, Granma daily reports Wednesday.

Cuba to Host World Sugar Congress

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) The 14th International Congress on Sugar and its By-products, "Diversificacion 2006," will be held in Havana June 19-22, with debates on the current situation in the sector.
The event will include a workshop on the uses of sugar cane´s ethanol, with analysis on prospects of that product, which has been increasingly used as motor fuel.
Experts from Cuba, Brazil and other countries will attend the workshop, and debate the ethanol world market and current technology used in its production.
Diversification 2006 will session at the Habana Libre Tryp Hotel, and is sponsored by the Cuban Sugar Ministry, the National Sugar Cane Research Institute (ICIDCA), and the World Sugar Organization, among others.

Report to advise Bush on post-Castro Cuba

By Saul Hudson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Tue May 23 - A U.S. commission is preparing to advise President George W. Bush' on how to inject democracy into a post-Castro Cuba, but critics say Washington's 40 years of isolating the island may limit its chances of heading off a communist succession.

The report by the Commission on Assistance to a Free Cuba, expected in the next few days, will suggest ways Washington can influence Cubans to turn away from communism and move to democracy and a free-market economy when veteran President Fidel Castro exits, U.S. officials said.

Critics of the U.S. policy, whose cornerstone is a four-decades-old embargo which failed in its aim of forcing the collapse of Castro's government, say Bush's focus ironically has left Washington, not Havana, isolated.
This was reflected in a 182-to-4 United Nations vote last November condemning the embargo, which has failed to unseat Castro, 79, despite tougher enforcement under the Bush presidency.

Bush followed recommendations in the commission's first report in 2004 and severely restricted travel to the island and remittances from Cuban Americans, ignoring calls from some that opening contacts would hasten communism's downfall.

The second report was expected to recommend some tightening of the embargo and emphasize stricter enforcement but officials said it was not likely to include drastic moves. Its focus would be on preparations for the day Castro leaves office.

Bush critics, including some U.S. Congress members, foreign governments and political analysts, say Washington should engage Cuba to encourage better human rights and political change, as with other communist-run countries like China.

The head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, said it was valid to wonder why Bush had created the office of the Cuba transition assistance coordinator, who writes the report.
"There's no transition and it's not your country," he said.

Bush's hardline policy on Cuba was partly aimed at shoring up support in the Cuban exile community in Florida, a key political state.


Reps. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, and William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, who head a 50-strong bipartisan group in Congress opposing the U.S. policy, offered preemptive criticism of the report.
"Any hope that an ever-tightening American embargo could force political change has been wiped away," they said in a statement.

"No one can predict how Cuba's political future will evolve. But we can predict that regardless of America's size and economic weight, our deliberate lack of contact and communication will reduce American influences," they said.

With the American food industry allowed to export to Cuba, Flake has proposed legislation that would further loosen the embargo by permitting energy companies to partner with Cuba to drill in the waters of an island roughly 90 miles from the United States.

The Bush administration wants to hold firm against its ideological foe.

"The purpose of the embargo is to prevent Fidel Castro's dictatorial regime from using commerce and trade to fund and strengthen his regime so that he keeps his hold on the Cuban population," Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said this week.

But Philip Peters, of the Virginia-based thinktank the Lexington Institute, said U.S. ambitions for an overhaul of the political and economic systems are counterproductive because they heighten fears in Cuba of turmoil after Castro.

"Cubans want change but they don't want revolution," Peters said.

Gov. Bush ready to sign bill barring professors, students from Cuba travel

By Mark Hollis Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE, May 24 2006 - Gov. Jeb Bush indicated Tuesday he will sign a bill that would forbid professors and students from visiting Cuba and other nations accused of supporting terrorism.Bush's backing of the legislation, sponsored by state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican who represents a portion of Broward County, would make Florida one of the most restrictive states for travel by scholars.

The bill bans faculty and students at public universities and community colleges from using ``state or non-state funds'' to travel to any country deemed a sponsor of terrorists. Five countries would be considered off-limits: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.The bill does not specify penalties for violators.The proposal, which easily cleared both chambers of the Florida Legislature earlier this month, has been sharply criticized by academics as an infringement on their rights that would impede important research, especially in Cuba.

These critics said it would impede advancement in a wide variety of studies, including agriculture and public health..Damian Fernandez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, warned that the proposal will undermine efforts to recruit scholars who study in Florida and abroad.

Wayne S. Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., said the legislation would block potentially valuable research for Florida, and that there is little political justification for such a ban.Bush downplayed the criticism, saying he thinks public and private money should not "go to countries that are our enemies."

He also said he is skeptical that much legitimate research is conducted during travel to those countries.Rivera has said the recent case of a Florida International University professor being indicted on espionage charges involving travel to Cuba, all supposedly paid for by private funds, demonstrates the importance of the travel ban.

Mark Hollis can be reached at or 850-224-6214.,0,4381853.story?track=rss

U.S. report on Cuba delayed by details

Granma International
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2006.— A long-awaited update from the Commission of President Bush's policies on the island, will not be delivered to the White House as scheduled on Cuban independence day Saturday, but should be in Bush's hands by month's end, U.S. officials say .
The commission's initial report in 2004 led to a severe curtailing of travel and remittances by Cuban Americans to the island.

U.S. officials have declined to comment on what changes the commission might recommend in its new report, although some Cuba-watchers in Washington have been speculating that the panel will recommend even tighter restrictions on trips by U.S. academic and religious groups.

The new report was to have been delivered to the White House on Saturday, but officials said the date has been pushed back to later in the month because some of its details are still being worked out. Bush is expected to take some time to review the new recommendations and decide which ones he will implement, U.S. officials say.

The commission is officially headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but the day-to-day work to write the new report has been coordinated by Caleb McCarry, the so called department's Cuba transition assistance coordinator.

The commission's new report was drafted through an inter-agency process that included input from the Departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Energy, among others.

After receiving the commission's 2004 report, Bush cut back Cuban Americans' family visits to the island from once a year to once every three years and tightened the list of those on the island who can receive cash remittances and packages from the United States. Bush also called for spending an extra $45 million over the following two years to ''hasten'' and prepare for his plans in Cuba.

India, Norway join Spain in Cuba oil prospect

Havana, May 24, 2006 - Spanish oil company Repsol YPF teamed up on Tuesday with Norway's Norsk Hydro and India's ONGC Videsh to explore six offshore blocks in Cuban waters where good-quality oil was found two years ago, the companies said.

The prospect of finding commercial quantities of oil in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico at a time of soaring prices has set off a political debate over whether US companies, sidelined by American sanctions against Cuba, should be allowed to explore there.

Under the deal signed with Cuba's state-owned Cuba Petroleo (Cupet), operator Repsol will have a 40-per cent share in the project, while Norsk Hydro and ONGC Videsh will each have 30 per cent.
Exploration plans include 1,158 square miles (3,000 sq km) of three-dimensional seismic studies to be completed in June, said Egil Gloppen, Hydro Oil & Energy international business development director.

But drilling is not expected to begin until 2008 due to a tight market for deep-water exploration rigs as the world's search for oil intensifies to take advantage of tight demand and high prices for crude.
"2008 is probably the earliest, unless we come across a rig that can be used immediately, but that is not very likely," Gloppen said. He said there were only 20-30 rigs in the world than can drill at such depths.

Repsol found good-quality light oil in mile-deep (1.6-km) waters of Cuba's economic exclusion zone in the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, but not in commercially viable quantities.

Billions of barrels of oil

The US Geological Survey estimated last year that the North Cuba basin could contain some 4.6 billion barrels of oil, with a high-end potential of 9.3 billion barrels.

"Our technical people see this as a good prospect," said Uttam Sengupta, senior vice president of ONGC Videsh, the overseas subsidiary of Oil and Natural Gas Corp, India's largest integrated oil and gas company.

US companies are barred from looking for oil in Communist Cuba under trade sanctions enforced against President Fidel Castro's revolutionary government since 1962.

Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, last month complained that energy-hungry China could gain access to oil "within spitting distance" of the United States. He introduced legislation that would seek an exception to the trade embargo for US oil companies so they could drill in Cuba.

"The US industry thinks it is too bad they cannot compete so close to their own turf," Gloppen said.
China's giant oil and gas company Sinopec Corp signed an agreement last year to produce heavy oil with CUPET in Cuba's western-most Pinar del Rio province from on-shore wells.

China is renting towers for directional drilling in oil fields run by Canadian companies Sherritt International and Pebercan Inc along a coastal oil belt producing heavy oil and gas used to generate electricity.

Cuba produces 60,000 barrels per day of poor-quality oil and is dependent on its ally Venezuela for imports of about 90,000 bpd of oil and derivatives.

Legislators from Florida, where anti-Castro Cuban exiles are politically powerful, are seeking to block Cuba drilling near the Florida coast on environmental grounds and penalize executives of foreign companies that help Cuba look for oil and gas.

But US sanctions should not apply to foreign companies exploring off-shore in Cuba because they would not be using American assets expropriated after Castro's 1959 revolution, oil industry executives said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

U.S. piano tuner strikes chord against embargo, doctors instruments in Cuba

Anita Snow, Canadian PressPublished

HAVANA, Monday, May 22, 2006 (AP) - When American piano tuner Benjamin Treuhaft first visited Cuba in 1993 he found that years of neglect, humidity and termites were ravaging the island's dwindling piano population.

Thirteen years on, Treuhaft has helped send 237 old pianos donated by Americans to the communist-run island, filling a void in a musical country by providing instruments used for practising piano concertos, accompanying tenor soloists and rehearsing ballet dancers.

"Most of the pianos here were Soviet-made: many of them from Moscow and Estonia, so they weren't that great to begin with," Treuhaft said during a visit this week. "Then, they met the Cuban termites. And then, they met the Cuban pianists, who are great, but strong, and can really destroy an instrument."

Treuhaft keeps returning to survey donated instruments and tune and restore others, striking an insistent chord against the U.S. trade embargo. After nearly 20 trips to the island - some without U.S. approval - the jocular former hippie, who sports a bandanna on his head and likes to tune pianos barefoot, is now a personality in some Cuban music circles.

When Treuhaft repaired Jorge Lopez Marin's dilapidated Russian piano, the Havana composer wrote a traditional Cuban song for him called El Medico de Piano - or The Piano Doctor. The tune is now widely performed by a popular women's musical group.

"What he has done is very important for the music community in Cuba," said Julia Diaz, a Cuban piano tuner who has known Treuhaft for 12 years. "He is very much beloved here."

Cubans admire Treuhaft's dedication to his craft, and delight in his playful personality.

"I'm on vacation," Treuhaft insisted, clad in black jeans and a T-shirt, and scrunched up under an old American baby grand at Havana's Superior Art Institute. "I still might get to go to the beach, if they'd stop finding pianos for me."

Treuhaft said he has U.S. Treasury Department approval to legally visit Cuba to check on the donated pianos. He said he exported the donated instruments with approval of the U.S. Commerce Department which, curiously, granted a licence through its the Office of Missile and Nuclear Technology.

But for this trip, he said, "I left my licence at home."

Treuhaft said he isn't worried about the possibility of being fined for his latest trip to Cuba, which he described as an "act of civil disobedience" against American rules he says violate his constitutional right to travel.

Treuhaft was contacted by Treasury officials after an unauthorized visit in 1994 and fined $10,000 US, dropped later to $3,500, which he refused to pay. The case remains open.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise declined to comment on Treuhaft's case because of privacy issues.

Although Treuhaft doesn't consider himself political, he said his defiance of the U.S. embargo may be explained by his background.

Cuba offers 1000 scholarships for Pakistani medical students

By Irfan Ghauri

ISLAMABAD, Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - Cuba has offered 1000 fully funded scholarships to Pakistani students studying medicine from September this year. The scholarships will be fully funded by the Cuban government, including a return air ticket.

This agreement was finalised in a meeting between the Cuban First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodrigues Parrilla and the Federal Education Minister Lt Gen (r) Javed Ashraf.The Education Ministry said that volunteers would be selected through a screening exam conducted by the National Testing Service, under the supervision of the Education Ministry, which would determine the merit for selection.

After approval, they will be requested to provide the required documents including the deed of agreement under which they would commit to return to the Pakistan after completion of studies.The 1000 scholarships will be distributed among provinces and the regions. The students from the October 8 earthquake affected areas and the low-income families would be allocated special quota, after approval by the authorities, said a spokesman for the Education Ministry.

The academic year will start in September 2006 and the students will be required to travel to Cuba in July and August 2006. The degree consists of one year learning of the Spanish language, balancing the knowledge acquired in high school and getting acquainted with the medicine course. This would be followed by five years of studies of medicine, to graduate on general comprehensive medicine.The candidates could be high school graduates, less than 25 years of age, from low-income families from all around the country.

Talking to the Cuban delegation, the federal minister said that Pakistan valued relations between the two countries and the relief activities by the Cuban paramedics in the quake-affected areas would be always remembered by Pakistan. He said that Cuban medical and humanitarian assistance to the victims of the October 8 earthquake had been recognised not only in Pakistan but the world over.

Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia to inaugurate joint trade fair

Havana, May 17 2006 - CUBAN, Venezuelan and Bolivian companies are to participate in the 1st International Fair of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the People’s Trade Agreement (TCP), set for May 25 and 26 in the Bolivian city of La Paz.
The Ministry of Production and Small Businesses in Bolivia, which is organizing the event, said that it would serve for the exchange of information on supply and demand possibilities in the three countries and the potentiality of productive sectors, particularly for micro- and small businesspeople.
According to Prensa Latina, participation is expected by 25 Bolivian companies and an as yet unknown number of Cuban and Venezuelan ones, said Gustavo Barbery, Bolivian deputy minister of trade and exports.
The fair is framed in the integration agreements covered by the ALBA and the TCP, signed on April 28 in Havana by Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Five charges against Robert Ferro, but not one on terrorism

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD—Special for Granma International—

Havana, May 22 2006 - ROBERT Ferro, the Cuban-American arrested in California in possession of 1,571 machine guns, grenades and rifles – the biggest arms cache seized in U.S. history, according to that country’s federal authorities – has been formally indicted on five counts of illegal weapons possession, the Los Angeles Times reported on May 20.

However, federal prosecutors have not brought any charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, in spite of confessions by the suspect, who told investigators that he was preparing an armed attack on Cuba.

Charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism have been brought recently against other suspects. But, scandalously, Bush’s federal prosecutors have not been capable to date of taking to the courts the masterminds behind acts of terrorism against Cuba, or individuals who preach the use of terror or support terrorism against the island.

Ferro, a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer, has admitted belonging to the terrorist group Alpha 66. The 61-year-old is currently being held without bail at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. A hearing has been set for Wednesday, May 24, in U.S. district court in Riverside.

Several of the weapons seized were illegal. Each count of possession carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The (tolerated) terrorist group Alpha 66, from Miami, has denied that this individual appears "on their list of 50,000 members" (sic). However, Ferro’s defense lawyer, Wayne M. Rozenberg, has said on several occasions to the local media that the group took that stance because it is a "secret" organization.

The terrorist Cuban-American group, with offices in Miami, has a long history of carrying out criminal actions against Cuba, including in California, where the group has an "official representative," Miguel Talleda.

Several well-known Miami-based terrorists, including René Cruz Cruz, Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, Eusebio de Jesus Peñalver Mazorra, Angel Francisco D'fana (or De Fana) Serrano, Jorge "Guiro" Barrego Amat, Alfredo Menocal, Frank Castro, Orlando Atienza, Rafael Rodríguez, Ramón Rodríguez and Guillermo Novo Sampol, have been implicated in terrorist attacks committed on the U.S. west coast.

Peñalver Mazorra, who was also implicated in a conspiracy to kill Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, died on May 18 in Miami, at the age of 71.

Ferro himself was charged in the early ‘90s with running a paramilitary camp on a chicken farm in Pomona, California to "train some Mexicans to invade Cuba."

This time, Ferro affirms categorically that Alpha 66 paid for the weapons, according to a legal document submitted to the court.

Robert Ferro’s indictment comes at the same time as a Florida court’s announcement that it would not consider the charges against mafioso ringleader Santiago Álvarez and his buddy Osvaldo Mitat, charged with possessing several automatic weapons. Their friend and accomplice, Luis Posada Carriles, has changed strategies, and has now refused to testify before federal Judge Cohn.

Since the death of its former leader, Nazario Sargen, Alpha 66 has been led by Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, 66, who continues, with impunity, to call for the use of violence against Cuba, in open violation of U.S. and international laws against terrorism, without any intervention by authorities.

Several international agreements ban not only the perpetration of terrorist acts and conspiracy to commit them, but also the raising of funds or resources for carrying out terrorist acts, or even simply support of organizations dedicated to such actions on a national or international scale, something that occurs every day with impunity in the United States, particularly in the state of Florida, when it has to do with Cuba.

The U.S. president himself sent a thank-you letter for "support" to the terrorist organization Alpha 66, on June 2, 2005, and invited several of its members to participate in meetings at the White House.

Meanwhile, five Cubans who infiltrated groups, which the Bush clan has given protection to, continue to be abducted, held in five different U.S. prisons.