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Cuban Visitor to Christchurch

Cuban Visitor to Christchurch

A Cuban response to escalating threats against Cuba from the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush will be presented in a series of public meetings throughout New Zealand in late March.

Juan Pozo, the Asia-Pacific representative for non-governmental organisation ICAP (Cuban Institute for Friendship With the Peoples), is visiting this country as a guest of the New Zealand-Cuba Friendship Societies. He will be in Christchurch on March 28 and 29, and will address a public meeting at 7.30pm, Sunday 28 March, at the Trade Union Centre, 199 Armagh Street.

The Bush administration continues to list Cuba as one of the countries designated an "axis of evil". In recent months it has tightened the economic blockade of Cuba that has been in place since the early 1960s.

In early January, Washington unilaterally suspended twice-yearly talks with the Cuban government on immigration issues. Shortly afterwards, U.S. administration official Roger Noriega criticised Cuba for allegedly supporting so-called "destabilising elements" within several Latin American countries. Noriega is U.S. assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Washington is particularly fearful of the close relations that exist between Cuba and Venezuela. Thousands of Cubans are working as internationalist volunteers in Venezuela, providing medical care and assisting with literacy programmes. Venezuela has become Cuba's largest supplier of oil.

Since 2001, five Cuban men have been serving sentences ranging from 15 years to a double life term for the "crime" of defending Cuba from terrorist acts by extremist right-wing groups based in Miami.

Juan Pozo, aged 43 years, has worked for many years as an English teacher and as a translator. He is particularly interested in the role of the community in education and in solving social problems concerning young people. He spent two years in Ethiopia in 1987-89 as an internationalist volunteer.

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