Embassy of Cuba in New
No.16 25th April 2015
We lead with Travel and Trade this week as world players queue to establish relationships with the Caribbean nation. The mayor of New York led a successful delegation to Havana and closed his visit saying he would do everything in his power to get the blockade lifted. Russia and Cuba are developing cooperation in science and technology, and Spain and Hungary trade delegations went away in feel-good mood, six Cuban hotels have travel awards, another US airline wants to fly to Cuba and there were successful diplomatic visits with France and the EU.
The Cuba-Salud convention provides a focus on the fight with ebola, led by Cuba, and more Cuban health workers are back home from Africa.
Inside Cuba both people and the environment get attention with the Race for Earth Day marathon; Pope Francis is to visit in September; Cienfuegos city is 196 years old this year, and a squad of US basketballers are here to share their experience and knowledge — to build up the international competition.
Embassy of Cuba in New Zealand
No.16 25th April 2015
In this issue
• New York mission to Cuba opens door to trade
• Spain and Hungary keen on trade with Cuba
• Six Cuban hotels to get world travel awards
• JetBlue Airways interested in operating in Cuba
• French president meets Cuban foreign minister
• Cuba meets Timor-Leste
• Cuba and the European Union — in agreement
• Cuba and France to deepen relations
• UNESCO director-general talks to Cuba
• Health convention: Cuban medical collaboration
• Health workers who fought ebola back in Havana
• Russia-Cuba Commission: a successful session
• ‘Race for Earth’ day completed in Havana
• Pope Francis to visit Cuba in September
• Heritage city in Cuba celebrates 196 years
• National Basketball Association members arrive in Havana
TRAVEL & TRADE
New York mission to Cuba opens door to trade
Cuba’s first vice president of the councils of state and ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, has held a meeting with New York governor Andrew Cuomo who is at the same time leading a trade mission to this country.
The two leaders discussed the updating of Cuba’s economic model, Cuba-U.S. relations, and prospects for developing ties between the state of New York and Cuba. Also present were Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, the Ministry of Foreign Relation’s general director for the United States, and other officials from the ministry.
The occasion yielded two bilateral accords in the area of health and opened doors for further collaboration.
The accords include the commercialization in the United States of a Cuban lung cancer vaccine and the introduction of US software programs in the Cuban medical industry.
Shortly before returning to the US director of the US
Roswell Park Cancer Institute of New York Candance Johnson
said that they had signed a memorandum of understanding with
Havana´s Molecular Immunology Centre.
Johnson said she was happy to take the Cuban vaccine to her country and start treating patients, beginning with clinical tests.
The other accord was signed between the US Infor High-Tech company and a Cuban enterprise to introduce specialized software programs in the Cuban health sector.
Charles Phillips, an official with the US company, announced that he found a Cuban partner interested in the commercialization of the products and that they would begin training students in the use of the new technology.
‘We are surprised at the high level and expertise that exists in Cuba in the area of health technology,’ said Phillips.
New York governor Cuomo had organized the trade mission to Cuba as part of his Global New York initiative aimed at expanding trade and investment for the business community.
Governor Cuomo described the two-day visit as productive and mutually advantageous for his 20-strong business delegation.
Before he left Cuomo said he would do everything in his power to get the economic, commercial and financial blockade lifted.
He thanked the Cuban officials and people for all the attention he received during his stay on the part of officials and the people, and highlighted the importance of the meeting he held with first Cuban vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel, with whom he talked about the perspectives of developing Cuban-United States links.
‘I feel proud of the role played by President Barack Obama in the process of approaching Cuba, in particular his most recent decision to exclude Cuba from the list of nations that according to the US State Department sponsor terrorism.
Cuomo visited the Mariel Special Development Zone accompanied by representatives of leading US companies like the financial services company Mastercard, airline JetBlue, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Regeneron, agribusiness enterprises, among others.
Delegation members held workshops with their Cuban
counterparts in order to pave the way for later cooperation,
when the policy of unilateral sanctions imposed by
Washington would be dismantled.
Cuomo is the first US governor to visit Cuba after the decision in December by presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama which lay the foundation for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and to advance the normalization of bilateral links.
TRAVEL & TRADE
Spain and Hungary keen on trade with Cuba
Leaders of Cuban enterprises recently interacted with their counterparts from Spain and Hungary, who arrived in Cuba with senior officials interested in investment opportunities on the island, particularly in the Mariel Special Development Zone.
Although Spain is Cuba’s foremost commercial partner among the countries of the European Union, it hopes to further diversify economic ties with the Caribbean nation.
On the occasion of the visit to Cuba by Jaime García-Legaz Ponce, Spanish secretary of state for trade, a binational business forum was held in Havana, with the aim of furthering trade ties between the two countries.
In coordination with the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) and the Commercial Office of Spain in Cuba, the event was attended by a delegation of 45 Spanish businesspeople mainly from the sectors of energy, construction, hospitality and tourism.
Odalys Seijoo, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, explained that the investment strategy outlined by Cuba represents an opening for Spanish companies seeking new opportunities.
Seijoo proposed that Spanish business owners evaluate new prospects which have emerged in the Cuban economy since the passing of Law 118 on foreign investment and opportunities offered by the Mariel Special Development Zone.
Speaking to the media, Jaime García-Legaz Ponce emphasised that Spanish wanted to reinforce their contribution to the social and economic development of Cuba at a time when unprecedented political steps were being taken.
As an indication of their readiness, Jaime García-Legaz Ponce reported that the Spanish government had developed initiatives to encourage further interest among Spanish companies in the Cuban market.
Among the new legal instruments mentioned were coverage for risks assumed in trading with Cuba, through the Spanish Export Insurance and Credit Company; permission for the public company COFIDES S.A. to finance investment projects on the island; and the decision by the Bank of Spain to relax collateral requirements for loans granted by banks to finance investments.
Regarding Cuba’s aim of potentially increasing the country’s hotel capacity to 30,000 rooms over the coming years, the Spanish secretary of state for trade highlighted that Spanish tourism industry already plays an important role on the island and firms such as Meliá, Barceló and Iberostar can further contribute, given the notable experience they have in successfully operating hotels across Cuba.
‘Spain has five of the 10 largest construction companies in the world, which are undertaking very ambitious infrastructure projects across the five continents and have a clear desire to increase their presence in the infrastructure that will be developed in the Caribbean nation in coming years.’
Finally, he noted that Spain was a world leader in renewable energy and that the Spanish energy sector had demonstrated interest in this priority area for the island.
The Cuban Neurosciences Centre and UltraSmart Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding in the framework of the Third Session of the Cuba-Hungary Business Committee, in the context of the visit of László Szabó, Hungarian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The agreement, signed in the presence of the Cuban first deputy minister of foreign trade and investment, Antonio Luis Carricarte, will enable, among other objectives, the joint manufacture of products related to the development of portable diagnostic and therapeutic devices, for use in primary health care.
The companies Denvair and Medicuba established trade links through two contracts (one framework and one single) for the export of compressors and spare parts.
László Szabó, who attended the meeting along with representatives from eight of the most important companies in Hungary, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting and his desire that relations between the two countries become closer and stronger in the future.
The third session of the Cuba-Hungary Business Committee provides continuity for the ties established between Hungarian and Cuban enterprises, which, according to Odalys Seijoo, have grown steadily.
In this period, the Cuban and Hungarian parties have jointly identified new working projects, which have contributed to a better understanding. However, bilateral trade between the two remains modest, with Cuba mainly purchasing insecticides and chemical derivatives, among other products.
This did not reflect the potential that exists between the two countries to further develop bilateral trade, both parties agreed.
TRAVEL & TRADE
Six Cuban hotels to get world travel awards
Six Cuban hotels have been nominated for the 2015 World Travel Awards, which acknowledge the excellence of tourist services and are considered the Oscar awards of tourism.
The nominations went to Paradisus Varadero and Paradisus Princesa del Mar, both facilities in the western tourist centre of Varadero, Matanzas province.
Another hotel nominated to the awards was the Paradisus Rio de Oro, in western Holguin province, according to Cubatravel, the website of the Cuban Tourism Ministry.
The list is completed by the Melia Cohiba, in Havana; Melia Las Dunas in Santa Maria Key, central Villa Clara province, and the Melia Cayo Coco in central Ciego de Avila.
All six hotels are under the management of the Melia International group and the nominations will include three prize categories, such as the Best Hotel of Cuba, Best Resort and Best Spa.
The prizes are granted following a strict process, where over half a million travel professionals and direct customers from some 170 countries participate. They were created 22 years ago and are sponsored and run by the Wall Street Journal.
TRAVEL & TRADE
JetBlue Airways interested in operating in Cuba
The recent visit to Cuba by the president and main executive of the US JetBlue airways company, Robin Hayes, indicates ongoing efforts to legalize direct flights between the United States and Cuba next year, according to US media reports.
Hayes travelled to Havana as part of the New York Trade Mission, headed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which paid a two-day visit to the island and met with Cuban officials and entrepreneurs.
JetBlue could carry out negotiations with Cuban airports as part of this commercial initiative by the State of New York, say media.
Along with Havana, the US airline company is interested in connecting with other airports from western to eastern Cuba, which have been receiving regular flights by Canadian and European companies.
French president meets Cuban foreign minister
French president François Hollande has met Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez, who is on an official visit to this country.
Hollande and Rodriguez held a constructive dialogue in which they expressed a mutual willingness to advance and strengthen bilateral relations in all sectors of common interest, officials from the delegation accompanying Rodriguez told media.
The Cuban foreign minister and his French equivalent Laurent Fabius also held a meeting.
Fabius visited Cuba in April 2014, the first time in 30 years a French official of his rank had visited to the Caribbean nation.
Rodriguez now moves on from Franceto other European Union countries.
Cuba meets Timor-Leste
Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly of People's Power, has held a meeting with Vicente da Silva Guterres, president of the National Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.
‘This visit will strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two countries, because they express the will to further develop bilateral relations and consolidate the existing programmes of cooperation,’ said the Cuban leader.
Lazo noted that although both countries were geographically distant, a common and similar history for achieving independence united them, and emphasized the will of the people from that nation to declare their territory this year free of illiteracy after using the Cuban programme Yo si puedo, which helped196 000 Timorese citizens to literacy.
He also thanked its government and parliament for help in the struggle for the liberation of the Cuban Five and against the economic, commercial and financial blockade by the US of Cuba.
Da Silva Guterres said the friendship dated back to decades ago when Timor-Leste decided to win independence from Indonesia.
The victory achieved in 2002 carved out paths for cooperation especially in areas such as health and education, stressing that the initiative also extended to areas such as sport and agriculture.
He added his country will continue the struggle against the US blockade and will make a call to the American Congress to make it see the importance of relations between the two peoples, in conditions of unconditional equality.
‘We are a small island between two giants: Indonesia and Australia,’ he said, and we must learn from Cuba how to survive in midst of them and maintain good relations with the neighbouring countries.
During his speech he extended an invitation to Esteban Lazo to visit Timor-Leste justified by the state of the relationship.
Cuba and the European Union — in agreement
Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla has met top European Community diplomat Federica Mogherini in Brussels, as part of the process to reach an agreement on political dialogue and cooperation.
In a press conference after the meeting, Mogherini said a round of political negotiations between both parties would take place in June, with the aim of strengthening ties, and that further encounters were planned during this year. She also announced that they had agreed to ‘establish a structured dialogue on human rights,’ with the possibility that the first session would also take place in June in Brussels.
’It is an interesting time for all Latin America and also for Cuba,’ she said, ‘hence the importance of strengthening ties of friendship and trying to overcome the challenges.’
The Cuban foreign minister responded with the view that her sentiments confirmed the progress made in relations with the European Union.
‘I feel we have made progress, we have advanced in a constructive spirit, mutually respectful, on a reciprocal basis towards a strengthening of relations and comprehensive cooperation, and we have also reviewed issues relating to the negotiation of a bilateral cooperation agreement,’ said Parrilla explained.
He thanked the EU for its support for the UN resolution on the blockade and called for renewed support this autumn at the UN General Assembly. He also said that the EU and Cuba have developed ‘extensive exchanges on human rights for many years,’ adding that the ‘dialogue at a technical level’ to be undertaken in June would be ‘a contribution to international cooperation in this important area.’
During his speech, the Cuban foreign minister also said ‘We must work together to achieve international cooperation regarding the issue of immigration, which has seen tragedies in recent days.’
Rodríguez Parrilla's visit to Brussels was announced in March, when the Italian politician Federica Mogherini visited Cuba, which according to the Cuban diplomat marked the beginning of a new era in bilateral ties. The minister said that both his meetings in France and now in Belgium had been ‘excellent bilateral visits’ and he hoped his upcoming trips to Luxembourg and the Netherlands would continue in that vein.
Cuba and France to deepen relations
Cuban minister of foreign affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrillaand his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, have stated in Paris the mutual interest that existed in deepening and expanding bilateral relations between the two countries.
The two foreign ministers held a press conference in which they reported that during the talks they addressed different aspects of the international agenda.
They discussed preparations for the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21), to be held in Paris next December and issues related to international migration.
The Prensa Latina agency adds that they also addressed issues related to the preparation of the planned visit to Cuba next May of President Francois Hollande, which they described as historic, especially because it will be the first time a French head of state will have visited the island.
Fabius said that during his 2014 trip to Havana, the two sides had expressed the desire to strengthen relations. Now they were working to enhance cooperation and dialogue in all fields.
Cuba and France shared the same concern about numerous causes: ‘We are very attached to our independence and we will find solutions to international conflicts,’ he said.
‘Our economic, academic and cultural relationship is developing,’ he added.
On the blockade Fabius stressed that his country has always opposed to this measure and urged the northern nation to lift it.
For his part, Rodríguez Parrilla noted that relations with France have historically been a priority for the Cuban government. There are very deep, essentially cultural, links, he stated.
He said that the wide horizon of economic, cultural, academic and scientific relations, the presence of a growing French tourism on the island, as well as the levels of bilateral cooperation in many areas constituted a solid basis for further expanding and deepening ties.
Rodriguez added that relations between the EU and Cuba were advancing well and thanked the French leadership for their support in this regard.
About Hollande's upcoming visit to the island, he stated that ‘It will surely be appreciated by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States as an expression of the priority that France attaches to its relations with our region.’
UNESCO director-general talks to Cuba
UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova met with Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez in France on his recent visit and they analyzed the state of relations between the Caribbean island and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
They also discussed other issues related to the agenda and mandate of the organization, particularly its leadership regarding education, and Cuba's results in the recent published World Report on the educational sphere.
They also analyzed the Post-2015 Development Agenda a propos of which Bokova stressed Cuba's role and how its leadership included the issue of culture and development as an objective of the agenda.
Cuban ambassador to UNESCO Dulce Maria Buergo, and Juan Antonio Fernandez, president of the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO, also attended the meeting.
HEALTH & SOLIDARITY
Health convention: Cuban medical collaboration
Cuban’s medical collaboration methods and the island's role in confronting the ebola virus are the main issues in the ‘Cuba-Salud 2015’ convention in Havana.
A keynote speech covers the Cuban medical cooperation experience involving universal coverage.
The Cuban Revolution has provided support to more than 158 countries by sending 325,710 health workers, more than 76,000 having worked in 39 African countries. Cuban health professionals are currently working in 67 countries, with 51,568 participants.
Medical brigades with professionals from the Henry Reeve Contingent, with work experience in confronting disasters and epidemics, were sent to Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry and Liberia.
A symposium is focused on Cuba's role in the fight against ebola.
Round table groups are analyzing the country's preparation and experience in treating patients with those afflictions in diagnosis and clinical management units.
dedicated to Cuba’s support to ensure the health universal
coverage and the Cuban medical cooperation in countries of
the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America
The programme of the international fair Health for All shows services, products and technologies to diagnose and treat neurological diseases by the International Centre for Neurological Restoration (CIREN).
More than 220 firms from 30 countries are participating in this 13th International Fair Health for All, taking place at Pabexpo fairgrounds in Havana.
According to the organizing committee, the objective of this exhibition is to strengthen trade and technological exchange, in contribution to the development of the participating countries.
HEALTH & SOLIDARITY
Health workers who fought ebola back in Havana
Thirteen Cuban health workers who fought the ebola fever virus in Guinea Conakry have arrived back in Cuba.
Like previous groups, this group of members of the Henry Reeve International Contingent arrived at the Juan Gualberto Gomez International Airport of Matanzas province, near the Varadero beach resort, after staying for over six months on such risky mission, but which saved the lives of hundreds of people.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Public Health said that the remaining 24 Cuban physicians and nurses still in Guinea Conakry will stay there until late May.
On March 23, a first group of 158 physicians and nurses returned to Cuba from Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two other West African countries hit by the virus, so most of the 256 members of the Henry Reeve Internationalist contingent are already back home.
SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
Russia-Cuba Commission: a successful session
Foreign minister Serguei Lavrov is delighted with the successful special session of the intergovernmental commission for economic-trade and scientific-technical cooperation between Russia and Cuba, held in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan.
After talks with Ricardo Cabrisas, vice-president of Council of Ministers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov praised the results of this session, chaired in the Russian segment by vice-president Dmitri Rogozin.
All last year’s issues were reconciled, said the foreign minister.
‘I trust we give a favourable turn in all aspects related to the compliance with the agreements reached between our two presidents,’ he said, alluding to talks by Vladimir Putin and Cuban president Raul Castro in July 2014, during the Russian leader's historic visit to Cuba.
Lavrov thanked Cabrisas for the hospitality extended by Cuban authorities during his recent visit to Havana in March this year.
In his turn, Cabrisas stated that the successful special session of the intergovernmental commission, held yesterday in the capital of Tatarstan, took place in ‘total correspondence with the agreements reached between our leaders.’
The two parties had carried out intensive work in the last few months, with participation of government institutions and companies from both countries.
Cabrisas stressed the signing as a culmination of the special session of a package of agreements, memoranda and contracts concerning priority areas of Russia and Cuba's economy, such as energy, metallurgic industry and aviation, automotive and rail transportation.
The final act of the session and the joint statement on improving work mechanisms between the Russian and Cuban governments were among the documents signed by co-presidents Ricardo Cabrisas and Dmitri Rogozin.
In addition Cabrisas was welcomed by chairwoman of the Federation Council (Senate), Valentina Matvienko, and official talks with prime minister Dmitri Medvedev were expected to conclude the official visit.
‘Race for Earth’ day completed in Havana
In order to create healthy habits and encourage exercising, commitment and action from sports to environmental problems, hundreds of people completed the marathon for Earth Day last Wednesday.
According to the coordinator of the event, Yolanda Zulueta, the meeting is committed to an inclusive, multi-generational approach so that foreign and locals of all ages participated, regardless of race, sex, creed or political affiliation.
‘The main interest of this race was make our planet a healthier, sustainable and safe place for present and future generations’ said Zulueta, and specified that the ‘fee’ to compete was to deliver a disused plastic bottle for recycling.
The competition started at 9 AM from the Student House Pedagogical University Enrique José Varona (UCPEJV), which included four categories according to age groups: 8-12 years; 13 to 16; 21 and 60; and over 60.
Different groups had to complete a distance between kilometre and four miles.
After the race the organizing committee announced a massive reforestation action in areas of the City Freedom School, where the UCPEJV is situated among other media schools.
Similarly, the award for the ‘Protect the caves’ competition, organized by the Student Scientific Society was taken by Cavern, belonging to the house of higher learning.
Pope Francis to visit Cuba in September
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi has announced that Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before starting a tour of the United States.
‘I can confirm that Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation by the civil authorities and the bishops of Cuba, has decided to visit that island before arriving in the United States for the trip announced a long time ago,’ says Lombardi, adding that he will go on to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez, meanwhile, also confirmed on from Brussels the Pope's visit to Cuba will be in September.
Rodriguez assured that the Pope ‘will receive Cuba’s warmest hospitality.
‘His preaching to eradicate poverty in the world arouses the admiration of all.’
Pope Francis will become the third pope in history to visit Cuba, after the historic visit of John Paul II in 1998 and of Benedict XVI in 2012.
Heritage city in Cuba celebrates 196 years
The 196th anniversary of the founding of the city of Cienfuegos, the southern centre of the island, took place in the tenth year of its attainment of UNESCO World Heritage status.
Every year a group of actors re-enact the founding ceremony where, under the shade of an hibiscus tree, Louis De Clouet, the Spanish officer of French origin, officiated the opening ceremony on April 22, 1819, now known as Marti park.
The melody of the anthem to the City, composed on the occasion of the celebrations of the centenary, was a highlight of the Week of Culture of Cienfuegos , situated 250 kilometres southeast of Havana.
The Jagua Prize, the most important award dedicated to institutions and creators of the town, went to the Carlos Rafael Rodriguez University of Cienfuegos, announced Lilian Martin Rodriguez and Rafael Brito, professors at the higher education institution.
For the evening there was a concert at the Tomas Terry Centennial Theatre, by the Novo Brothers, considered the musical chroniclers of the city.
The occasion was appropriate for the antiterrorist fighter Antonio Guerrero, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, to receive La Rosetta, the highest distinction awarded by the Department of Culture in the province of Cienfuegos.
National Basketball Association members arrive in Havana
Representatives of the National Basketball Association (NBA) arrived in Havana last week with the objective of exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge.
During their weeklong stay prominent figures of this sport, such as the two-time most valuable player (MVP) of the NBA, Steve Nash, and the player newly elected to the Hall of Fame, Dikembe Mutombo, will share their experiences with children, youngsters and adults.
At the inauguration of the camp for the development of basketball at the Manuel Fajardo University of Physical Education and Sports, participants described as historic the rapprochement of that professional league and Cuban participation.
Former star of the women's league Ticha Penicheiro said she was pleased to visit Cuba and make her ‘small contribution to this valuable sports exchange,’ and would be present at the clinics.
Also part of the US delegation are coaches Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz and James Borrego of the Orlando Magic.
Mutombo told media that important elements like the study of the opponent and mastering the basics are the keys to success, saying ‘We are happy to build this bridge between the two countries and we come with a desire to help so the Cuban game becomes stronger.’
For his part, Nash pointed out
that he considers that it’s necessary to develop skills in
young players, and described Cuban players as fast and
athletic. However, he said, they should work hard to
strengthen their potential.
During the meeting, Alberto Andrés García, regional director of the International Amateur Basketball Federation in the Americas, confirmed that they will invite for the first time two athletes and one coach from Cuba to join the Basketball without Borders camp.
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in New Zealand
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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