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Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand Newsletter 9/3/14

Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand
No.9 9th March 2014

In this issue
United Kingdom denies visa to Cuban antiterrorist Rene Gonzalez
Raul Castro asks council ministers for economic analysis
Cuba publishes monetary unification methodologies
Cuba welcomes EU proposal
Press conference by the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs
Cuba's revolutionary achievements recognized
Cuban president meets Fernando Gonzalez
A freed Fernando González answers questions from Cubans
Former prime minister of East Timor requests Cuban technical help
Cuban doctors contribute to East Timor national cancer programme
Cuba Starts Campaign against Polio
Cuba hosts neurological restoration event
Cuba: CIREN, an institution for life

United Kingdom denies visa to Cuban antiterrorist Rene Gonzalez

The government of the United Kingdom has denied a visa to Cuban antiterrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez. He was to be the main witness in a commission of inquiry organised by the Campaign of Solidarity with Cuba into the vexing case of the ‘Cuban Five’ being held this week in London.
Its International Committee for the Release of the Five says in a press release that on Monday, March 3, some few hours before Gonzalez was to catch his flight from Havana to London, he was denied a visa request to travel to the United Kingdom for the event which was being held at the offices of the London Law Society.

The UK Immigration office justified the refusal with its 320 (2b) of the Immigration Law, which stipulates that the entry to the country of a person who was condemned to more than four years of prison is forbidden.

Although it may be granted in exceptional circumstances, the British government warned that Gonzalez' participation in the enquiry was not considered a sufficient reason to justify his visa.

Rob Miller, director of the Campaign of Solidarity with Cuba — one of the organizers of the commission — said they were ‘deeply disappointed and surprised by the decision to deny a visa to Rene Gonzalez.’

Miller points out that the case of ‘The Five’ was highly politicized, so such a response could only be interpreted as a political decision.

‘We have received legal advice and we will be appealing the decision, including an Urgent Judicial Review if necessary,’ he said.

Thousands of people in the United Kingdom, including hundreds of legislators, have campaigned for the release and justice for the Five for more than 10 years and hoped to welcome Gonzalez, said Miller.

Rene Gonzalez was the first of ‘The Five’ to be able to return to Cuba, last year, after completing his prison sentence at a US jail in October 2011, completing a period of supervised release and resigning his US citizenship.

Gonzalez was detained on September 12, 1998 in Miami, along with Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, the latter being the second released from prison with remission for good conduct and now back in Cuba.

At least 20 witnesses and commissioners, including the US legal team, relatives of victims of terrorism against Cuba, and experts in international law, among others, are arriving in London to attend the event.

Raul Castro asks council ministers for economic analysis

Cuban President Raul Castro has called for a critical and constructive analysis and update of the process implementing the country's economic model.
‘We are making progress and we will continue to do so, but it’s not fast enough’, he emphasised at a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers.

‘What we are doing is not perfect, we know we lack experience in some areas and commit errors; that is why every issue has to be looked at carefully.

‘We have been accustomed to accept instructions from above. And that must change. Administrators from Sandino to Maisi must express opinions in the appropriate place, at the right time and in the correct manner’ he said.

At the meeting, the Council of Ministers approved policies to improve geological research and the development of the National Cadastre, as well as a new experimental group of non-agricultural cooperatives.

The deputy head of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development, Leonardo Andollo, added that the policy submitted to the Council of Ministers is mainly aimed at generating and promoting geological knowledge of Cuba.

All was aimed at increasing knowledge of the resources and reserves of mineral raw materials needed by the productive sector, contributing to making better use of them, minimizing environmental impacts and the incidence of geological processes on health.

The head of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development, Marino Murillo, explained how four non-agricultural cooperatives were being created in the country.

He referred to the 228 new cooperatives and said that 186 would operate in the sectors of commerce, gastronomy and services, 12 in construction, three in transportation, 15 in industry, one in food, as well as one in energy and six in accounting services.

Raul Castro said the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives was an experiment and although progress has been made, scrutiny was needed.

The consequences of errors committed in the investment process and the results of the 8th National Follow-up on domestic control were also analyzed.

Other issues discussed were plans for ninth-grade graduates to continue their studies and enrolment in higher education, daytime courses and meetings during the 2014-2015 period.

As to plans to improve medical services, Raul Castro assured media that the Cuban people's healthcare would never be affected adversely, and recalled how over the years of the Revolution thousands of physicians have graduated, prompted by the philosophy of its leader, Fidel Castro.

Cuba publishes monetary unification methodologies

Cuban authorities have revealed some of the new pricing and accounting methodologies going into effect as the country moves toward monetary unification.
A new report refers to last October’s Council of Ministers meeting which agreed to initiate a schedule for carrying out measures to gain that objective — the first regulations released in terms of prices and accounting.
Currently, two currencies circulate in Cuba; the Cuban peso (CUP) and the convertible Cuban peso (CUC).
The published strategy corresponds to Guideline 55 of the Cuban Communist Party's (CCP) Social and Economic Policy.
The announcement recognizes the complexity of the process to achieve monetary integration within the Cuban economy.
The data were released in the Official Gazette Extra (No. 12), of 2014, courtesy of Resolutions 19, 20 and 21 from the Ministry of Finances and Pricing.
Accounting norms and methodologies are shown for wholesale and retail pricing, targeting state entities, and required by the decreed monetary unification. To this end the report reflects a priority on training all managers throughout the country involved in the process and points out how the new pricing approach will assist in resolving many problems in the island’s economy.
One of the problems identified was the connection between internal pricing and the behaviour of the international market, among other notes of interest, and lead to a more efficient distribution of financial resources with the state budget.

Cuba welcomes EU proposal

Cuba has welcomed the European Union’s proposal which would put the end to unilateral policies against it, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has announced at a press conference this week.
Rodriguez said that Cuba will accept the opening of negotiations on guidelines for a political dialogue and cooperation agreement with Cuba suggested by the EU.

He reiterated that Cuba will act constructively, and believes that the unconditional, reciprocal and non-discriminatory principles adopted in 2008 are fully applicable and must be a point of reference in relationships.

Also, full respect for the sovereign equality of states, the legal framework and institutional arrangement of the parties and total adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states should be maintained, he added.

Rodriguez thanked Baroness Catherine Ashton, the member states of the European Union and the representatives of the European Commission for the efforts that led to this proposal, to be submitted on February 10.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, discussed Venezuela, Ukraine, the EU and the topic of unconventional warfare during a press conference this week at the Cuban Chancery in Havana.

For a full report go…

Cuba's revolutionary achievements recognized

Cuba's recent election as a member of the Council on Human Rights is an example of the prestige that the country has attained in this context, Cuba’s deputy minister of foreign affairs Abelardo Moreno told delegates at its 25th ordinary session.
‘This decision is a recognition for the work of the Revolution, which guarantees respect for the full dignity of each citizen, places the principle of social justice and solidarity as a guide to its programmes, and shares its progress and resources with others,’ he said.

The Cuban deputy foreign minister expressed satisfaction for the results of the council’s universal periodic review, published last year, in which Cuba’s work for the promotion and protection of human rights was highlighted.

Such progress has been possible despite the negative effects of the US economic and financial blockade of Cuba, which was a massive, blatant, and systematic violation of human rights.

Moreno recalled that while inequality, the opulence of a few, and the marginalization of many prevail in the world, the Cuban people continue their struggle for a more just society.

Moreno said in his speech that the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held in January in Havana, had as its central theme the struggle against poverty, hunger, and inequality.

He recalled that the meeting had as a special moment the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a peace zone, where war and the threat and use of force in the region was banished, and disputes should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.

Cuban president meets Fernando Gonzalez

President Raul Castro has talked to one of the Cuban Five heroes, Fernando Gonzalez, now in Cuba after serving a long and unfair sentence in a US prison.
The meeting at the Jose Marti international airport was also attended by Gonzalez’ family as well as other officials of the Cuban government.

Gonzalez has just been freed from the Safford, Arizona federal correctional centre to go through the process of deportation to Cuba.

He is the second of the group known internationally of ‘The Five’ to serve their imposed sentences, following the release of René González.

Reminder: Fernando, René, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino were arrested in 1998 for monitoring the actions of violent groups based on US territory, which planned and executed terrorist actions against Cuba.

The last three are still prisoners in the United States, despite an extensive global campaign calling for their release.

A freed Fernando González, one of The Cuban Five, answers questions from Cubans and talks about Angola, the defeat of apartheid, his family during imprisonment ..and Cuban literature


Former prime minister of East Timor requests Cuban technical help

Ex-prime minister of East Timor, Mari Alkatiri, has requested Cuba’s professional and technical assistance in the construction of a special development zone in his country.

On his visit to Cuba the general secretary of the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor (Fretilin) spoke with Cuban representatives of various economic sectors about a project being implemented in Oecusse, an enclave of the province of Western Timorl, in Indonesia.

‘We want Cuba to bring to bear its professionals and technicians in the development of a zone that will contribute to the improvement of the economic and social situation of the people of East Timor,’ requested Alkatiri.

He added that special measures will be implemented in Oecusse, aimed to attract foreign capital for the construction of an attractive urban area which would retain the personnel who supplied services and high-tech enterprises, while neighbouring areas would get improved community and rural development.

Prioritized sectors for investment were agribusiness, renewable energy, and the development of infrastructure for telecommunications, health, education and roads, among others, said Alkatari.

Cuban doctors contribute to East Timor national cancer programme

Cuban doctors in East Timor are drawing up a comprehensive strategy to fight cancer based on the records on the disease they have collected plus the contribution of human resources trained in Cuba.
East Timor’s health minister, Dr Sérgio Gama da Costa Lobo, has met several Cuban oncology advisors, the coordinator of the Cuban medical brigade, Rolando Montero and the island’s ambassador to that country, Luis Julian Laffite.
The meeting focused on the work of the Cuban oncologists in Timor to date and their setting up of an oncology facility, which had been requested by the Timorese during a visit to Cuba by their president.
The Cuban specialists explained to the minister what actions could be put in place for cancer prevention and a treatment program against what had so far been discovered in East Timor.
The minister thanked the Cuban advisors for their visit and said that the fight on cancer would be a priority for his country’s health ministry this year: he underscored the value of Cuban assistance in drawing up a national strategy to control the disease, which will include primary health care for cancer sufferers in their own homes.

Cuba Starts Campaign against Polio

More than half a million Cuban children will be getting doses of an oral vaccine that protects against polio, reports the Ministry of Public Health through the Granma newspaper. In the first six days of the programme more than 380 000 under-threes will receive the initial dose.
During the second stage, at the end of April 119 899 nine year old children will get a second dose.

The ministry reveals that in the period between 1962 and 2013 the country has facilitated more than 83 million doses of polio vaccine, which protects citizens younger than 68.
Previous studies discovered that polio is a viral disease caused by infection with the poliovirus, which can affect nerves and can lead to partial or total paralysis.
Granma in its coverage added that in 1962 Cuba became the first Latin American country to be declared free of the disease.

Cuba hosts neurological restoration event

The 4th International Conference on Neurological Restoration began this week in Havana, with several pre-congress courses underway.
The event is part of the celebrations on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the International Center for Neurological Restoration (CIREN), director Doctor Emilio Villa stated.

Issues to be addressed at the forum include neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation, stem cell research, neurological restoration in neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries, epilepsies, impaired motor control, and dementia.

Several courses, such as that organized by the Pan-American Section of the Movement Disorder Society, entitled "Scientific and Clinic Aspects of Parkinson's disease and Cerebellous Ataxias," are also on the list, said Jorge Bergado, secretary of the organizing committee.

Also included is the 6th international seminar on hereditary ataxias, organized by the Centre for Research on Hereditary Ataxias in Holguin, known world-wide for its research on the condition, which had a high incidence in this eastern province.

Experts from Spain, the United States, Mexico, France, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Austria, Canada, Denmark, and Turkey are expected to participate in the meeting.


Cuba: CIREN, an institution for life

The aim of developing and refining more efficient variants in stereotactic or minimally invasive surgery in patients with movement disorders is one of the challenges faced by the International Centre for Neurological Restoration (CIREN).
Emilio Villa, director of the institution, told media that improving the treatments for back pain, one of the most frequent symptoms requiring consultation, as well as spine surgeries and epilepsy, is among the central challenges, soon to arrive at the 25 years milestone of intense research and clinical work.
Among the priorities are to work on improving the physical and cognitive neuro-rehabilitation laboratory, the laboratory of psychomotor assessment, and to assimilate, test and transfer advanced technologies in the field of neuroscience to the National Health System, for easier access, said Villa.

In its first quarter century, CIREN treated more than 116 000 patients from 91 countries, most of them Cubans, with intensive and personalized programmes which were unique in the world, where research, clinical work, medical diagnostics, treatment surgery and rehabilitation are interrelated, he said.

CIREN vice-director of science and technology Dr. Raul Macias, referred to the surgical techniques used in the centre to treat abnormal movements, such as those in advanced Parkinson's disease and other dystonias.

It's important to remember that Parkinson's disease is not completely curable, said Macias, but by functional surgeries — like palidotomyand subthalamotomy — symptoms can be relieved in most patients undergoing this particular therapy, in which the improvement increases quality of life.

The advantages of this technique include its minimum access requirement, the use of local anaesthesia,and the patient's waking state during operation in order to execute more or less complex motor acts with the limbs, and dialogue with surgeons.

In this way, the exact limits of the area involved can be positioned, together with the neurophysiological evidence for semi-micro-records of brain electrical activity, he said.

The stereotactic system used in 13 institutions of the country was refined in CIREN, with participation of the Cuban Immunoassay Centre, Macias explained.

The combination of a special software which processes the images obtained by CT scan and from a metal frame, with intelligent design, which is set at the patient's head and allows the location of each point in three dimensions, he said.

CIREN has had all its achievements and scientific advances documented and published in various journals and other international media, he added.

The institution also investigates the applying of autonomous stem cells for the treatment of a type of stroke, which may show promise for the treatment of other conditions.

The centre is also working on procedures for refractory epilepsy and ataxia, and offers specialized services targeting other degenerative diseases.

It also treats occlusive cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, treatments of head injuries, and offers a pediatric neurology service dedicated to recovery of children with static lesions of the nervous system.

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in New Zealand
76 Messines Rd, Karori, Wellington 6012
Text edited by David Reade of International Public Relations ( on behalf of the Cuban Embassy, Wellington, from Cuban news agency sources

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