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Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand Newsletter 29 September 2013

Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand
No.23 29th September 2013

Upcoming events

1st - 5th International Congress on Hydraulic Engineering
14th - 18th International Congress on Economic Management and Development
November 3rd - 9th Havana International Fair

In this issue:
- Press Release by the Cuban Delegation on Direct Postal Services with the US
- Cuba reaffirms commitment to human rights
- Cuba and the U.S. hold talks on search and rescue
- Physicians trained in Cuba contribute to health strategy in Nicaragua
- Successful session of Cuba-China Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission
- Chinese entrepreneurs interested in Cuban Development Zone
- CELAC calls for total elimination of nuclear weapons
- New regulations on self-employment in Cuba announced
- Message from the Cuban Five
- President of East Timor arrives in Cuba
- Southern nations demand end of US blockade of Cuba
- Pressure builds in the US to break the 'Cuban Five' sentences
- Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand press release

Press Release by the Cuban Delegation on Direct Postal Services with the US

September 16th

On June 16, 2013, representatives of Cuba and the United States met to resume talks on direct postal services between both countries. The Cuban delegation was presided over by Johana Tablada de la Torre, Deputy Director of the United States Division at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Cuba and the U.S. delegation was headed by Lea Emerson, Executive Director for International Postal Affairs of the U.S. Postal Service.

Both parties were able to follow up on the issues discussed at the talks held in Washington on June last and made progress in different areas such as those related to the security of postal items. Both delegations ratified the interest to establish direct mail transportation. The Cuban side made emphasis on the transportation of mail through direct and regular ways in both directions, which is currently not possible due to the blockade policy imposed by the Government of the United States against Cuba. This is a crucial issue that should be addressed in order to resume direct postal services and ensure an efficient and secure service between the two countries.

The exchange between the postal administrations of Cuba and the United States took place in a respectful ambiance and both parties agreed to resume talks in the next few months.

The Cuban delegation was also made up by Jorge Luis Oliva Martín, Director for Cooperation and International Organizations of the Ministry of Communications; Carlos Asencio Valerino, President of Grupo Empresarial Correos de Cuba; as well as some officials of the General Customs of the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban Institute of Civil Aviation.

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Cuba reaffirms commitment to human rights

September 20th

Cuba reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and described as positive the results of its Universal Periodic Review.

The review allowed showing the experience and good practice of Cuba and the country's challenges on its way to further advance the enjoyment of all human rights, said Cuban deputy attorney general Rafael Pino, as cited by PL news agency.

Out of all recommendations received, Cuba accepted 230 which make for the majority, said the head of the delegation to the meeting, who noted that many of them have been met or are under implementation, while others are future priorities for the government and the people of Cuba.

Only 20 recommendations are not admitted by the island because they have been designed on groundless bases and are not compatible to Cuban constitutional principles and domestic legal order, while their content runs contrary to the spirit of cooperation and respect that must prevail at the Universal Periodic Review.

The Cuban official said it is not possible to assure the implementation of another 42 recommendations made though Cuba has taken note and many of them are in the works.

This review allowed us to listen to the opinions of many delegations as significant contribution to keep improving Cuban society, the official noted and expressed satisfaction with the acknowledgement offered by most delegations that participated in a debate last May of the efforts and achievements of the island with regards to the universal and free health and education services, as well as international cooperation in these two areas.

The head of the Cuban delegation also expressed gratefulness to many for their denunciation of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of the island and for the condemnation of the unfair and prolonged incarceration of five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters in US jails.

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Cuba and the U.S. hold talks on search and rescue

September 21st

The Granma newspaper published on Saturday a press release by the Cuban delegation that took part in the technical meeting held between Cuban and U.S. experts on aeronautic and maritime search and rescue operations.

According to the text, the meeting took place in Havana on September 19 and 20. The delegations were headed by Engineer Oscar del Toro, president of the Coordinating Commission for Search and Rescue of Cuba, directed by the Transportation Ministry, and Mr. Richard A. Button, head of the Division of Search and Rescue Coordination of the U.S. Coastguard Service.

Also taking part in the meeting, adds the text, were representatives of the Cuban ministries of Transportation, of the Armed Forces and of the Interior, and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives of the U.S. Coastguard Service, of the Transportation Department and of the Department of State.

The document points out that ratified at the meeting was the importance of strengthening the coordination of aeronautic and maritime search and rescue operations, with the objective of saving the lives of persons in danger, guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of operations carried out by the entities responsible for this activity in the two countries and honor international obligations derived from the International Agreement on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue and the Convention on International of Civil Aviation.

As a result of the technical meeting, the document continued, an Operational Procedure for Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue between Cuba and the United States, which will be subjected to the final approval of the two governments, was agreed in a preliminary way.

Talks were held in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation, the text concludes.

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Physicians trained in Cuba contribute to health strategy in Nicaragua

September 21st

Some 450 physicians trained in Cuba presently contribute to a strategy aimed at perfecting the health system in Nicaragua, in coordination with authorities of this sector.

Health Minister Sonia Castro highlighted that these youngsters were trained in a model of community health care, in prevention work, which adapts 100% to the programs of the government of Daniel Ortega, the Prensa Latina news agency reported on Friday.

Castro and Youth Minister Bosco Castillo presided over a meeting with professionals graduated from Havana’s Latin American Medical School, which has affiliate institutions in several Latin American countries, with the purpose of coordinating actions favorable to the improvement of the quality of health in this territory.

During the meeting, under way at the National University of Engineering, Bosco recalled that, so far, 930 youngsters of scant economic resources have graduated as physicians in Cuba alter being selected starting from 2007 by the government of Nicaragua to carry out these studies.Back to top


Successful session of Cuba-China Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission

September 25th

The 26th session of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission between Cuba and China was held on Tuesday, which ended with the signing of a bilateral economic agenda for the next five year period.

The Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, told Prensa Latina news agency that this agenda will make it possible to work in a more organized way and with a medium term plan.

Malmierca, also a member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, in one of the halls of the Ministry of Trade of China in Beijing, described the session as successful, which included the adoption of nine documents on concrete economic projects and the final minutes of the Intergovernmental Commission.

The Cuban minister, since his arrival in Beijing on Saturday, has held meetings with numerous companies and banks of China as well as with the Minister of the National Commission of Health and Family Planning, Li Bin.

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Chinese entrepreneurs interested in Cuban Development Zone

September 25th

Cuban Foreign Trade and investment minister Rodrigo Malmierca briefed Chinese entrepreneurs in Bejing about the ongoing project to develop a Special Economic Zone in western Cuba and its investment opportunities.

The project has prioritized sectors for investment such as biotechnology and renewable energy, while other areas to be developed include food, tourism, telecommunications, real estate, agriculture and industry in general.

Malmierca said that Chinese companies have huge potential to settle in the new development zone, which is the most complex project implemented in Cuba over thepast fifty years.

The presentation was attended by the director of the Development Zone Office, which operates under the Cuban Council of Ministers, and is in charge of managing and controlling activities in the zone and of drawing up and leading the development and business program.

Minister Malmierca stressed the good environment for doing business in Cuba marked by a safe and transparent legal framework, good port, road, railways and communications infrastructure at the service of investors.

He also addressed guarantees for investors, such as free transfer of their gains abroad, the strategic location of the zone, right in the heart of the Caribbean, plus a special tax system offering fiscal incentives.

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CELAC calls for total elimination of nuclear weapons

September 26th

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) called at the United Nations General Assembly for the total and general elimination of nuclear weapons, as the only guarantee against the use of such arsenals.

At the first high-level meeting of the Assembly on the issue, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, presented the position of the 33-member-nation bloc, which is currently being chaired by Cuba this year.

“CELAC's member states reiterate our deep concern in the face of the threat posed on humanity by the existence of nuclear weapons and their possibility of their use or threat to be used. There is urgent need to advance towards nuclear disarmament,” said Bruno Rodriguez on behalf of the Community, founded in December 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela.

The bloc considered the use or threat of using nuclear weapons a crime against humanity and a violation of international law and the charter of the United Nations.

Minister Rodriguez also called on all states that possess nuclear weapons to eliminate them from their doctrines, security policies and military strategies. He also called for fast work on the negotiation and adoption of a juridically binding and universal instrument on the issue and to draw up a multilateral timetable to eradicate the arsenals in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner.

According to estimates, there are over 23 thousand nuclear weapons on the planet, half of which are ready to use.

Read the statement by Minister Rodriguez in full

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New regulations on self-employment in Cuba announced

September 26th

The regulations published by the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba authorize new activities of self-employment, as well as standards for better functioning of others that already exist, according to Granma newspaper.

These measures point to a higher arrangement of this form of non-state management with the aim of contributing to the continuous deployment, improving this activity, putting things right when they have not worked as designed, taxing to legality and protecting those complying with the provisions.

José Barreiro Alfonso, advisor to the Minister of Labour and Social Security, said the major changes in the new legislation are related to the need of adding new figures, removing limitations on the exercise of certain activities, and better defining the denomination and extent of each of them.

Consequently, ten new activities are incorporated and authorizations of eight others which were suspended are being granted, as there was not a legal market for purchase of raw materials, equipment and other supplies.

To ensure the supplies of the latter, an amount of money was allocated by the Economy Plan, and it has been created the conditions for their sale in the store network, and at specific points, depending on the characteristics of the product to offer.

Barreiro Alfonso added they will look after the legal origin of the raw material used in each of the activities. Among other items, it is expected that steel and aluminum plates, marble pieces, aluminum and bronze scrap, bars, tubes of different shapes, floor polishing machines and bottles of oxygen and acetylene to be marketed in certain parts of the country.

On the other hand, he said, in order to avoid distortions that have previously occurred in regulated for certain activities; the new provision defines more precisely the name and scope of these. Thus, those who perform tasks such as "vendor of agricultural products in wheelbarrows" will not be allowed to sell imported goods.

In addition, the Criminal Code makes clear in its section 230 that who obtains goods or other objects with the purpose of reselling them for profit or gain commits an offense. Then we must dust off what is legislated, comply with regulations and ensure for its fulfillment, the official told.

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Message from the Cuban Five

September 26th

Fifteen years ago today, September 12, 1998, the brutality of five simultaneous arrests burst into our homes to initiate one of the most shameful chapters of U.S. legal history: the trial of those of us today known as The Five.

The Cuban Five send a message to their supporters around the world and the US people.

Read the message in full

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President of East Timor arrives in Cuba

September 26th

The President of the Democratic Republic of East Timor Taur Matan Ruak arrived in Cuba, Thursday, on an official visit aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Taur Matan Ruak is scheduled to hold official talks with President Raul Castro and carry out other activities.

Before coming to Cuba, Matan Ruak, like other heads of state from Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, demanded the lifting of the US economic blockade of the island during his participation at the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Cuba and East Timor established diplomatic relations on 20 May 2002, when that Southeastern Asian nation achieved its independence.

Bilateral cooperation relations particularly focus the sector of health, education, agriculture, sports and culture, while both nations are also looking forward to collaborating in the field of food security, according to Granma newspaper.

Some 600 medical doctors from East Timor graduated at the Havana-based Latin American School of Medicine, while hundreds of Cuban doctors have offered their services since 2004 in remote areas of East Timor.

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Southern nations demand end of US blockade of Cuba

September 28th

Leaders of Latin American, African and Asian countries demanded the lifting of the over-50-year US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly.

During the session prime ministers and heads of state described the US blockade as policy of genocide, illegal, failed, a relic of the Cold War period, anachronistic and obstacle to development, among other terms.

Representing Latin America, the leaders of Bolivia, Antigua and Barbuda, Uruguay, El Salvador, Guyana, and Trinidad-Tobago demanded the end of the US siege which has inflicted huge damage on all Cuban economic and social sectors, particularly health and education.

Meanwhile, the representatives of South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Chad, Mozambique and Gabon, and for Asia, the leaders of Sri Lanka and East Timor also called for the end of the US blockade at the plenary session attended by 193 states, the overwhelming majority of which have repeatedly voted a Cuban resolution since 1992 demanding the lifting of the US anti-Cuba measure.

In his remarks at the forum, Bolivian President Evo Morales criticized the US administration for ignoring the claim by the international community against the US blockade of the island.

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Pressure builds in the US to break the 'Cuban Five' sentences

September 29th

In the United States the case of the 'Cuban Five' who received long sentences in a much-disputed Miami court process early in the late 1990s has taken a big step forward — 15 years after proceedings began.

The Washington DC-based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) is bringing a lawsuit against the US State Department to release evidence it holds covering secret payments by the US government to Miami-based journalists reporting on the case at the time, using 'hostile, inflammatory and prejudicial stories… (which) propagandized US-based domestic public opinion including the jury pool and sitting jury', as described in the complaint.

Within the State Department are the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and their predecessor agency, the United States Information Agency, which are responsible for the operation of Radio Marti and TV Marti by which the US Government broadcasts information and propaganda into Cuba and into Florida.

All are named in the complaint as having paid journalists to imply the 'The Five' — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramón Labañino and Rene Gonzalez (who served his sentence and relinquished his US citizenship) — were guilty. The State Department has been ordered to produce the documents beginning in October.

Additionally all five are this month (September) filing habeas corpus actions in Miami Federal Court which challenge all aspects of their convictions and sentences.

The five Cubans were jailed in 1998 in Miami for alleged terrorism offences, while their mission, as admitted agents, was to build knowledge about Cubans in Miami planning terrorist activities in Cuba against the Castro government.

Ironically they were passing information to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation assuming it would want to prevent its citizens committing criminal activities. But they were arrested by the FBI and the information they had provided was deemed 'classified' and used against them.

The PCJF says it is joined by Amnesty International, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, and individuals including ex-president of the US Jimmy Carter, former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell, author Noam Chomsky, ten former Nobel Prize winners and many thousands of people and organisations in the US and world-wide.

Other irregularities were also taken into account for the habeas corpus petition. In the case of Ramon Labanino, the attorney that initially presented him in court did not say that he could remain silent when he was asked for a statement and still called by the name Luis Medina, which he used. This slip cost him an additional charge: obstruction of justice and five more years on his 25-year sentence.

Gerardo Hernandez is facing the most complicated case with two life terms, plus 15 years.

His habeas corpus is based on a constitutional violation since he was not able to declare separately on his third charge: conspiracy to commit murder. Add to this the ineffectiveness of his initial defense attorney, who did not try to prove that Gerardo had nothing to do with the bringing down by Cuban air force MIGs, on 24 February 1996, of the planes flown by Miami-based members of the organization known as ’Brothers to the Rescue.'

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Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand press release:

The Story Behind the Injustice: 15 Years of Unjust Imprisonment

September 12 marked 15 years since the unfair arrest and frame-up of René González, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández, known as the ‘Cuban Five’.

Who are they? Why they were framed? Why they should be free?

Read the press release in full

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Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in New Zealand

76 Messines Rd, Karori, Wellington 6012


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