Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand Newsletter: No.18: 18th May 2014
In this issueoilandgas
• Cuban foreign minister meets his New Zealand counterpart
• Illinois corn growers urge Obama to make trade with Cuba possible
• Obama urged to act courageously for relations with Cuba
• Cuba proposes concrete actions for nuclear disarmament at the UN
• Cuba presents report on terrorism manipulation to Ban Ki-moon
• Legal experts from over 20 countries meet in Cuba
• WHO prepares annual assembly, chaired by Cuba
• WHO, Cuba, and the Revolution’s ‘solidarity’ vocation
• Cuba produces effective medicine for the treatment of acute haemorrhoids
• Cuba free of most veterinary diseases
• Sea turtles start nesting in Cuban keys
• Cuban botanist receives international award for flora preservation
• Cuba strengthens capacities to face disasters
Cuban foreign minister meets his New
Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban minister of foreign affairs, met his New Zealand counterpart from New Zealand, Murray McCully, who visits Cuba for the second time this week.
During the cordial meeting, both officials reviewed the positive state of bilateral relations and expressed their willingness to develop cooperation initiatives in the areas of health, education, sports, agribusiness and science. They also exchanged views on other issues of international interest.
Rodríguez thanked New Zealand for its position in various international fora against the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba. On his part the New Zealand foreign minister stressed his country’s interest in continuing to promote trade and strengthen high-level political dialogue between the two nations.
McCully said he was grateful for the warm welcome received from the Cuban government, which has become a strong partner within the South Pacific area, and with which similarities of interests continued to grow.
Rodriguez express the view that the potential to develop bilateral relations was never greater, and that new and interesting projects that include third nations could emerge from them.
The distinguished visitor was accompanied by Clare Kelly, New Zealand’s ambassador in Cuba, prime ministerial political advisor Billie Moore and the foreign affairs lead advisor (Americas Division) Jacqui Caine. Cuba was represented by general director of bilateral affairs Gerardo Peñalver Portal, and Asia and Oceania director Miguel Angel Ramirez Ramos.
Illinois corn growers urge Obama to make trade
with Cuba possible
The Illinois Corn Growers Association wants President Barack Obama to expand trade opportunities between the United States and Cuba.
In a communiqué, the organization, based in Bloomington, Illinois, says that Cuba’s location represents ‘an excellent opportunity for our food and consumer products’ — pointing out that the country is located close to the commercial ports of the southern part of the United States. But corn growers say that federal restrictions on financial transactions with Cuba are making business difficult.
Association president Gary Hudson points out that Illinois is the country’s sixth state losing more business opportunities due to financial and travel restrictions.
The association is part of the Cuba-Illinois Work Group, created last year. The organization is also asking Obama to establish an agriculture trade office in Cuba.
Obama urged to act courageously for relations
Religious leaders in the US have called for President Barack Obama to exercise his authority courageously to improve relations between the United States and Cuba.
A letter sent to the president by a number of leaders of Christian and evangelical churches as well as the US National Council of Churches, Presbyterian churches and other denominations urged that he establish immediate good faith discussions with Cuba.
These discussions should consider Cuba’s concerns about Washington’s policies, including the incarceration of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five, sentenced to unduly long and harsh terms for having tried to prevent terrorism against their country.
Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino and Antonio Guerrero remain in U.S. prisons, serving excessively long sentences for having tried to prevent terrorism against their country. Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez (no relation) have returned to Cuba after having served their sentences, which were imposed at a trial most agree was biased.
The letter from the religious leaders points out that programs such as the ZunZuneo project are ineffective and misguided. In the interest of moving forward to re-establish relations, the leaders called for a high level dialogue to discuss a wide range of subjects, including that of the Cuban Five and Alan Gross.
The outcome should include the granting of general licences to allow travel in all categories, and remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, an irritating and unnecessary obstacle to already tense relations, that deprives the list itself of credibility, says the document.
Cuba proposes concrete
actions for nuclear disarmament at the UN
Cuba has proposed a plan at the United Nations consisting of 10 concrete actions for nuclear disarmament, to be considered next year during the review conference of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (TNP).
The island presented the initiative during the third meeting of the preparatory committee of the 2015 Forum, a meeting which ends today after two weeks of sessions.
The agenda includes clarifying the danger of lethal weapons at the beginning of negotiations, immediately after the review conference, in order to draft an agreement that prohibits, over a specific time, their possession, production, purchase, proof, storage and transference.
The proposal leading the plan also includes the eradication of the use or threat to use atomic means of mass destruction, in face of the existence on the planet of thousands of nuclear warheads, many of them ready for use.
The measures presented here call for all countries possessing nuclear weapons to make a legally binding, unconditional and irrevocable promise to the 190 TNP state members never to use such arsenals.
The TNP was first signed in 1968 and rolled out two years later A review conference takes place every five years to analyze progress.
Cuba presents report on
terrorism manipulation to Ban Ki-moon
The permanent Cuban mission to the United Nations has sent secretary general Ban Ki-moon a report concerning Cuba’s inclusion on the list of states which promote terrorism, made unilaterally for a further year by the United States.
Cuban ambassador to the UN Rodolfo Reyes said the US State Department published its annual report regarding the issue last month, in which it insisted on this ‘absurd’ designation, for the 32th time.
He told the secretary general about the strong rejection by Havana of what amounted to Washington’s ‘manipulation’ of the delicate issue of international terrorism.
He also requested that the documents that include Cuba’s reaction after the latest inclusion are circulated as soon as possible as official texts, under the topic 110 of the General Assembly agenda: “Measures to Eradicate International Terrorism.”
The island reiterated its demand that the United States stop its unilateral actions, in line with the respect it should show for international law and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
He also emphasised that his national territory has never been or would be used to shelter terrorists of any origin, or organize, finance or perpetrate acts of that kind against other countries, including the United States.
Soon after the announcement of the report, the Cuban foreign ministry warned that the US Government had used political tricks to justify the blockade of the Caribbean country for more than 50 years, despite its condemnation almost unanimously by the international community.
He also said Washington lacks morality in its allegations against other nations, when it is the perpetrator of state terrorism against governments opposed to its domination.
Legal experts from over 20 countries meet in
Over 400 law experts from more than 20 countries will gather for the 7th International Meeting on Justice and Law, set for the Havana Convention Centre this week.
President of the Higher People’s Court, Ruben Remigio Ferro, told media that the meeting is expected to be a good opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge among legal experts from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina among other countries.
Cuba will showcase its achievements in the field, some of them acknowledged worldwide as an example of swiftness in dealing with cases, transparency, professionalism and judicial practices in family-related issues.
In the field of criminal justice, Cuba shows achievements that are still only aspirations for some other countries, said Ferro, and highlighted the philosophy of Cuba’s treatment of its prison inmates.
Some delegations to the convention are led by presidents and vice presidents of supreme courts of justice, and panels, workshops and lectures will be held on civil law, administrative law, family law, labour law, environment and social security.
Participants will also tour prisons and attend trials, said Ferro, adding that the high turnout expected from foreign experts would demonstrate the respect, consideration and admiration for the achievements in Cuba, despite continuing campaigns to discredit the Caribbean country. Back to top
WHO prepares annual
assembly, chaired by Cuba
The World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing its annual assembly, to be chaired this year by Cuba, as a country well recognized for its medical care at national and international levels.
Delegations from 194 member countries will participate in the meeting, to be held next week at the Palais des Nations, the main building of the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The World Health Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the WHO, meeting once a year, and responsible for determining its policies and approving the budget for the coming two-year period.
The fact that the American region has chosen Cuba to preside over this meeting for the first time means recognition for the achievements of the Revolution in this sphere, Dr. Antonio Gonzalez, head of the international agencies department at the Ministry of Public Health, told media, adding that the Cuban collaboration provided to the rest of the world in this field has been widely appreciated.
Cuba ended 2013 with an infant mortality rate of 4.2 for every 1,000 live births, placing it in the top rank of nations with the highest indicators.
Despite suffering the effects of a blockade imposed against the island by the United States for more than 50 years, the Caribbean country guarantees universal free access to healthcare and its vaccination program is a worldwide leader in terms of its extensive coverage, allowing for the prevention of 13 diseases, said Gonzalez.
Cuba also provides support to other nations, and some 50,000 of its health professionals are currently working abroad.
WHO, Cuba, and the Revolution’s
Cuba is a country that today mirrors more than most the objectives of the World Health Organization (WHO), managing prevention policies and confronting global health problems.
Since the arrival of the first medical brigade to Algeria in 1963, some 132,000 health professionals have worked in many countries — more than 50,000 Cubans are currently working in 65 countries.
‘Our health professionals are working in distant and difficult to access locations, where in many cases, a physician has never been,’ Anayansi Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador at the United Nations Office in Geneva, told Prensa Latina last week at the World Health Assembly, with Cuba taking up the chair tomorrow.
The collaboration was based on the humanist principles that characterize the Revolution.
The ‘solidarity’ support provides services and training of personnel.
More than 27,000 students from several countries have qualified in Cuba, most of them at the Latin American School of Medicine, created by initiative of the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, as a result of the disasters which occurred in Central America after the passing of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The development of the health system, based on primary health care and with emphasis in prevention, has enabled to reach a universal coverage.
Cuba complied in 2013 with almost all its UN Millennium Development Goals, the diplomat recalled, adding that the country is working hard on towards its post-2015 objectives.
Cuba produces effective medicine for the
treatment of acute haemorrhoids
Cuban scientists have produced an effective and safe medicine in a suppository form for the treatment of acute haemorrhoids, based on the use of recombinant streptokinase, a Cuban biotechnology centre told media this week.
Researchers from the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), in collaboration with the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital in Santiago de Cuba, after several years of clinical trials in health institutions of 12 provinces, managed to register the drug in 2012 under the name of Proctokinasa.
The medicine is expected to quickly become the most recommended therapy for haemorrhoids, as long as production capacities are sufficient.
Unlike formulations which focus on symptoms Proctokinasa removes blood clots present in the affected anal orifice, achieving a 75-90-percent improvement of clinical symptoms by the fifth day of treatment.
The medicine recently received one of the 2013 National Awards from the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, in the Biomedical Sciences section, and along with its contribution to resolving a frequent health problem in Cuba and worldwide, has the potential to become another exportable Cuban biotechnology product.
Cuba free of most veterinary
The preventative and control work carried out by its veterinary medicine system makes it possible for Cuba’s animals to be free of 75 percent of the diseases registered by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Foot-and-mouth disease, the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (‘mad cow disease’) and bird flu affecting Latin America and the Caribbean, all of them highly contagious and of great incidence on animals, but none are present on the island, Ernesto Mendoza, director for Analysis and Biostatistics of the Veterinary Medicine Institute told media.
This is a consequence of the priority given by Cuba to animal health, respect for international norms, and constantly upgrading its veterinary system by its agriculture ministry, he said.
He pointed out that since the 1970s there has been no equine infectious encephalomyelitis, or the so-called Newcastle disease (which attacks birds), thanks to rigorous prevention and control programs.
In the recent 2nd International Conference on Animal Health Surveillance, held at Havana’s Convention Centre, Cuba presented a group of papers by researchers of the National Centre of Agriculture and Livestock Health and the Veterinary Medicine Institute.
Cuba has a biological-pharmaceutical industry capable of producing most of the medicaments it needs in order to take care of all cattle species, said Mendoza.
Sea turtles start
nesting in Cuban keys
The season for egg nesting of sea turtles has started, with the arrival of these animals to Cayos San Felipe National Park, located in small islands at the southeast of Cuba, a place to which three different species of these animals come to lay their eggs.
To protect these ancient ocean inhabitants, the nests are counted, analyzed and taken care of from May to September, said specialist Leonardo Espinosa, who is at the head of the protection programme.
’The surveillance of the nests is continuous until the evening, with trained groups waiting for the adult sea turtles to come to the beaches, to determine the species and pick up specific data, — sex, age and other characteristics,’ said Espinosa.
One of the places with a greater egg nesting action by carey turtles — a species in danger of extinction — in Cuba, is a place called Cayo Siju, he said.
The identification, by means of special tags, allows watchers to verify how faithful the animals are to the place where they were born, and note if they ever come back to it.
Espinosa explained there are cases of sea turtles with that kind of loyalty, that come to the keys again and again, known by the specialists, and some have even been ‘baptized’ with personal names.
The project includes conversations with inhabitants in the communities close to the keys and beaches, and the fishermen, to help them avoid the capture of the turtles, which is forbidden in Cuba.
Cuban botanist receives
international award for flora preservation
Doctor Luis Roberto Gonzalez Torres, coordinator of the Preservation Section of the Cuban Botanical Society (Socubot), has earned the 2014 Whitley Award, awarded by Britain’s Princess Anne in a ceremony at the Royal Geographic Society in London, Granma newspaper reported this week.
The award was conferred by the Whitley Fund for Nature, a UK charitable organization that recognizes local leaders from developing countries with notable contributions to preserving biodiversity, and is considered the ‘Green Oscar’ due to its international prestige, Socubot president, MSc. Alejandro Palmarola, said.
Along with the Cuban botanist, seven other figures worldwide linked to the mentioned activity were recognised, among them Ecuadorian Monica Gonzalez, with results in preserving birds of her country.
Gonzalez Torres is founder of the "Iniciativa Planta" project, launched in 2012 to preserve rich and singular native flora of the Cuban archipelago over the long term, as well as promote its sustainable management.
strengthens capacities to face disasters
Cuba begins its civil defence weather exercises — Meteor 2014 —this week to practice and strengthen the country’s preparation for hurricanes, large earthquakes and other potential disasters.
Meteor 2014 — day 1 —will evaluate the effectiveness of the monitoring networks as they interrelate with local early warning systems, noted Wilfredo Cobas, second chief of the Operations Department at Civil Defence headquarters.
He told media that one goal was to determine the effectiveness of actions in all societal structures, to reduce vulnerability and improve recovery activities.
On the second day, prevention activities in the communities will be coordinated with broader organizations, directed by the defence councils, aimed at generating public support, especially in the high-risk communities.
Cobas said that the fight against insect-borne disease, sanitation, tree pruning, cleaning storm rains, and natural drains will all be addressed.
The low mortality rate from natural disasters in Cuba is well-recognized worldwide — the Meteor Exercise started in 1986.
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Text edited by David Reade of International Public Relations (ipr.bz) on behalf of the Cuban Embassy, Wellington, from Cuban news agency sources