Embassy of Cuba in NZ Newsletter
Raúl and Nicolás Maduro preside at massive May Day march in Havana
President Raúl Castro was presiding on Friday May 1 over the tribunal at Havana’s Plaza de la Re-volución José Martí Memorial for the massive May Day march celebrating International Workers’ Day and reaffirming Cuban workers’ commitment to the Revolution. Joining the celebration is Nicolás Maduro, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Cuba.
Participants in the country’s largest gathering of the year, began their march at 7:00 am, with May Day flags, banners, signs and t-shirts and this year’s slogan ‘United in the construction of socialism,’ as well as the release of the Cuban Five.
Secretary general of the Cuba Workers Federation (CTC) Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, opened the march reaffirming the internationalism of Cuban workers, and support for the process of in-tegration unfolding in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He expressed satisfaction with the US government’s decision to modify its strategy toward Cuba and begin the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations, opening a new stage in the struggle to end the blockade imposed more than 50 years ago.
Cuba is one of the countries where International Workers Day has been celebrated on May Day since 1890, to commemorate the martyrs of Chicago’s Haymarket Square, as called for at the 1889 International Socialist Congress in Paris.
The CTC and its national affiliates, political and grassroots organizations have organized massive mobilizations on May Day since the Revolution triumphed in 1959 and the working class assumed power.
The Tenth May Day Brigade, comprised of more than 230 members from 25 coun-tries, has launched its program of solidarity activities in Cuba, and participated in the May Day celebrations
The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples reports that this solidarity con-tingent will begin its agenda of activities at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, located in the western province of Artemisa, where the group will receive a lecture on the Cuban situation and reality, and will perform voluntary work in agri-culture.
Then after the May Day event the contingent attended the International Meeting of Solidarity that traditionally takes place after May Day celebrations.
The brigade members also met victims of terrorism against Cuba, and networked with people and leaders from the committees for the Defence of the Revolution, and the Federation of Cuban Women.
The solidarity that accompanies us
More than 1,800 representatives from 68 countries were sharing in the festivities this May 1st in Havana’s Revolution Square.
The Plaza de la Revolución is in the heart of Havana, and just like every year, May 1 saw tens of thousands of Cubans filling this historical site of so many victo-ries with joy and colour, as they celebrate International Workers’ Day.
And just as has been the case every May 1st, representatives of the solidarity movements that accompany our people were present, sharing their love and sup-port for Cuba, from both near and far corners of the world.
How many thousands, from how many nations and organizations have raised their voices, their flags, their dreams...together with ours over these decades? How many unforgettable images of rallies and parades on each May 1st have they spent in Cuba, how many memories...?
1 867 people from 68 countries, representing 192 organizations, came to Havana, and headed for the plaza. While for some this may be a repeat experience, for many it will be the first time they see for themselves what Cuba and the Revolu-tion that has defended the workers and the people, and which they have joined in supporting, really is.
Members of trade unions, social movements and solidarity groups have been mo-bilized mainly through the CTC and ICAP: 1 175 belong to 140 organizations from 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; 571 are from 40 associations from 19 European countries; there are over 60 from Asia and Oceania; and 50 from 14 nations of Africa and the Middle East.
To date, the countries that have a greater presence are: the United States with 285 representatives; France with 209; Uruguay with 127; Chile with 121 and Argentina with 102.
For all of these international guests, an extra special feature this year will be the physical presence of our Five Heroes in Revolution Square: for whom hundreds of committees in every continent fought tirelessly for years for the freedom and re-turn of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.
The huge event on Friday and the subsequent International Solidarity Confer-ence to be held on May 2, were opportunities to discuss new objectives in solidari-ty with Cuba: an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against our people will no doubt feature among the more important.
Cuba has the oldest population in Latin Ameri-ca
In Cuba there are more than two million people over 60 years of age — 19 percent of the total population — and it is the first Latin American country identified as having the oldest population in the region.
Doctor Alberto Fernandez, head of the National Group for the Care of the Elderly, of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) told ACN in an exclusive interview that the rapid population aging is largely due to the low birth rate, the increase of life expectancy and social development.
Cuba enjoys ‘first world’ level indicators and the only population that is increasing hereinafter are senior citizens, said Fernandez, who participates in the 13th Inter-national Seminar on Longevity that has concluded at Havana’s convention cen-tre, attended by 300 delegates from various nations.
Since 2010, people arriving at the sixth decade intersect which those who are 15, thus only the first group increases and those who are 15 years of age decreases, Fernandez pointed out.
Guideline 144 of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution reads: ‘To give special attention to the study and implementation of strategies in all sectors of society to address the high levels of population aging.’
Among the actions in this regard, the Ministry of Public Health is working to strengthen Primary Health Care, training family doctors and nurses and graduates in geriatrics and gerontology, and providing courses for care at the end of life, so health professionals are provided with the necessary tools to address this age sector, he specified.
It also included supporting grandparents and old people’s homes on the island, for which there is a rehabilitation programme backed by a budget that in 2014 amounted to 66 million pesos allocated for this purpose by the Ministry of Finance and Prices.
Today, thanks to the development of education, 57 percent of the people that are between 60 and 74 years of age are medium level university graduates, and in old age they also have the opportunity to continue studying at the university depart-ments for the elderly, from which, in their fifteen years of existence, more than 15 thousand people have benefited, he said.
Cuba hosts 13th international seminar on lon-gevity
Under the organization of the Caribbean Medical Association (Ameca) and the 120 Year-Old Club, the 13th International Seminar on Longevity has begun in Havana.
With the slogan ‘What to do to live 120 years and more, with an active and satis-factory longevity,’ the event will bring together expectations from all branches of knowledge to discuss experiences.
Parallel was also the Ninth International Nursing Meeting, the Second Oral Health for the Elderly Symposium, and the Tenth International Meeting on Centenarians.
Among the issues to discuss are Genetics, Motivation, Nutrition and Food, Health, Physical Activity, Culture, Sexuality and Environment.
The program of the event includes courses, keynote speeches, roundtable dis-cussions, symposiums, workshops, panels, exhibition of posters and a walk called "eternal youth."
The 13th International Seminar on Longevity and its events parallel sponsor it, among them, the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization (WHO-PAHO), and the Cuban Minis-try of Tourism.
Historical heat wave hits the island
Temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius have been reported for several days in Cuba, with several absolute maximum heat peaks, Dr. Jose Rubiera, head of the Centre for Weather Forecasts Institute told media this week.
The sharp rise of temperatures in the Caribbean country is due to the predomi-nance of clear skies, favouring intense solar radiation, and the presence of a flow of weak southern winds, the specialist said.
Last Sunday entered weather statistics as one of the hottest days of the last five decades in Cuba, breaking three absolute maximum temperature records, and re-porting values above 35 degrees Celsius in 23 meteorological stations.
The new heat records were registered in the city of Holguin and the town of Ve-lasco in the eastern province, where thermometers hit 38.7 degrees, only one tenth off the national heat record of 38.8 degrees, established in 1999. This could be the second highest value reported in Cuba officially.
In the Casablanca station in Havana, there were maximum temperatures of 37.0, the highest measured in Cuba's capital since 1909, which left behind the previ-ous 36.3-record of October 2009.
According to meteorologists Armando Caymares and Yiganis Cedeño of the cen-tre, other remarkable highs occurred in Guaro, Mayari, with 38.0; La Jíquima, 37.8; and Sagua la Grande, 37.0 (records for the month of April).
The intense heat experienced this month does not mean a prelude to what will happen in July and August, say the experts, when summer is at its peak, because the behaviour of the weather depends on the specific weather conditions affect-ing each period.
TRADE & TOURISM
Kitesurfing Cuba has arrived!
Cuba will show off its kitesurfing potential at the upcoming International Tourism Fair, FitCuba 2015.
Technically it’s hydroplaning — with a ski or board pulled by a kite — and it will be one of the activities that the ECOTUR travel agency, Cuba’s leader in nature and adventure tourism, will promote at theJardines del Rey destination.
Franklin Marin, the company’s commercial specialist, has announced a joint presentation with the Cuban Enterprise Group of Nautical and Marinas and Gran Caribe hotel chain.
He explained that kite surfing in Cuba was an activity with much potential and would be well received by foreign tourists. Two schools have been set up in Va-radero and three more in Jardines del Rey, where the 35th FitCuba will take place.
All are run by tour operators working with ECOTUR and Marlin.
One of the schools opened at Villa Cojimar hotel, which will host at the fair the first Cuban Kite surf festival, said Marin.
ECOTUR will also present in FitCuba several projects aimed at promoting new forms of nature and adventure such as the circuits on bikes, visit to parks and kayak programs.
This most important tourist event in the country opens this week to receive hun-dreds of tour operators, travel agents and journalists from some 40 nations.
It includes two new sections — one dedicated to promoting business with foreign capital, and the other an exhibition of goods and services useful to the develop-ment of the leisure industry.
The most recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Information show the arrival to Cuba of 1 136 948 international tourists in the period from January to March,a figure that broke the historical record, and shows the boom of tourism in Cuba for this period.
Canada continues to be the main client for the Cuba destination — sending 551,773 people during the first quarter of the year, followed by Germany, France, England and Italy.
TRADE & TOURISM
Cuba, UK hold managerial forum
More than 30 United Kingdom companies and their Cuban counterparts are dis-cussing business possibilities and investments in the field of a managerial forum to boost bilateral trade relations is taking place in this capital.
The meeting takes place on occasion of the three-day visit to the island of Lord Hutton, co-president of Iniciativa Cuba, a British-Cuban project aimed at promot-ing exchanges and the relationship between London and Havana.
According to a statement by the organizers, participants will examine business po-tentialities and investments in sectors such as energy, mining, tourism, biotech-nology, agriculture, goods production, transportation, and industry.
The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba (CCC), Orlando Guillen, as well as Lord Hutton, will talk to the participants in the opening ceremony of this managerial event. A speech by an official from the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, and lecture on Cuban economy, by Professor Juan Triana, are also on the list.
The programme also includes exhibitions on investment opportunities and its reg-ulatory framework, and doing business in Cuba.
‘We receive enthusiastically the presence of this important delegation of British business people, particularly in the current context in which Cuba is renewing ef-forts to attract foreign investment,’ said United Kingdom ambassador Tim Cole.
TRADE AND TOURISM
Texas business mission visits Cuba
A trade mission from the United States, Texas has traveled to Cuba to establish contacts for the possible sale of agrifood and to facilitate new transport services and technology, media reported this week.
President of Dallas-based consulting firm Tri Dimension Strategies Cinthia Thom-as who leads the delegation was reported as saying that Texan industries inter-ested in trade with Cuba include airlines, agricultural, oil, technology and tourism companies.
Since Cuba and the United States announced in December that diplomatic rela-tions would be restored, several US companies showed interest in Cuba, even though Washington's restrictive economic measures — in force since 1962 — have not been removed.
Texas is one of the states supplying food to Cuba, sales that have occurred under official licence since the early years of this century.
TRADE & TOURISM
Tourists pouring into Cuba
Cuba's National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI) has reported an increase in international tourism during the first quarter of 2015, with well over a million vis-itors.
In March, there were 404,421 foreign visitors in Cuba, compared to 359,446 in the same period of 2014.
Canada, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Italy were the main source coun-tries. In the first quarter of 2015, there were 1 116 113 million tourists and 20 835 excursionists (for a period not less than 24 hours).
Canada dominated, with 551,773, which represents 48.5 percent of the total.
Cuba received more than a million visitors for the first time last year.
The FITCUBA International Tourism Fair in its 35th edition will take place this week at Jardines del Rey (centre-north of Cuba), dedicated to Italy as guest of honour.
ECLAC highlights Cuba’s opportunities for for-eign investment
Cuba stands out because it is open to foreign investment, yet selects important sectors for the country and protects domestic jobs, Alicia Bárcena, executive sec-retary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), told media in Havana last week.
The health of the economy in the Caribbean and Central America is something that the country should take into account, because it is in this area where its com-petitors in terms of attracting foreign capital are found, she said at the 1st Interna-tional Seminar on Opportunities and Challenges for the Development of Latin America and Cuba, which took place over two days at the Meliá Cohiba Hotel, in Havana.
In 2015 Latin America's gross domestic product as a whole is not forecast to in-crease by more than 1 percent, while in the Caribbean area it could grow by 1.9percent, she announced.
This situation should be taken advantage of, by the Caribbean nations as allies, she clarified, because nothing prevented them from establishing a chain of in-vestment, in which each economy provides the best it has to offer, especially in regards to marine leisure tourism and maritime transport, which are sectors pre-disposed to development given the natural conditions of the region.
‘I believe the Mariel Special Development Zone is an example of the use of com-petitive advantages in the foreign investment process, because distance makes the export of Latin American products to other continents more expensive, but the Cuban port could be used as a layover and shipping platform,’ she predicted.
Parallel to the injection of foreign capital, she considered it an appropriate strategy to continue promoting the export of health services and educational consultancy.
In the future, when the country's infrastructure problems are resolved, Cuba could also export products related to information technology and communications, Bá-rcena suggested, as it had the personnel with the training and qualifications nec-essary.
Raul Castro meets Cardinal Beniamino Stel-la
Army General Raul Castro Ruz, president of the Council of State and Ministers, has met Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy at the Holy See, who is visiting the Catholic Church in Cuba.
During the cordial meeting Raul and Stella talked on issues of mutual interest, particularly the upcoming visit to Cuba of His Holiness Pope Francis.
The distinguished visitor was accompanied by Monsignor Veceslav Tumir, Charge d'Affaires a.i. of the Apostolic Nunciature in Havana.
Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Caridad Diego Bello, head of the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs at the Cuban Communist Party’s Cen-tral Committee, also attended the meeting.
Mexico activates extradition treaty with Cu-ba
An extradition treaty between Mexico and Cuba to combat crime, signed in 2013, has been activated, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE).
The Mexican foreign ministry announced in the official gazette document signed on November 1, 2013 in Havana and approved by the senate of the Congress of the Union on December 11, 2014.
By the treaty the two countries undertake to surrender to each other in extradition those for which it has instituted criminal proceedings or are required for the impo-sition or enforcement of a judgment or sentence.
The measure applies when the application refers to willful or negligent criminal conduct that is laid down in the national legislation of both countries and consti-tutes an offence punishable by imprisonment, the minimum term not less than one year.
It also provides for extradition if the request relates to willful or negligent criminal conduct that are laid down in the national legislation of both countries.
When the extradition request is made to comply with a judgment, the period of deprivation of liberty remaining to be fulfilled by the sanctioned person shall be six months at least.
It adds that if it involves two or more behaviours, each of which constitutes an of-fence under the laws of both countries, the requested part may grant extradition for all those behaviours.
The application shall also relate to tax crimes, customs or other contributions of a fiscal nature.
The new treaty will void the agreement between the two countries made on May 25, 1925 in Havana, according to the foreign ministry, which will send a diplomatic note to the Cuban foreign ministry that the agreement enters into force between the parties.
First Japanese foreign minister to visit Cu-ba
The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida told his Cuban counter-part Bruno Rodriguez his country seeks to strengthen relations with Cuba. Kishida is the first Japanese FM to come to Cuba, a fact that makes him feel much honoured, he said, prior to a meeting with president of the councils of state and ministers, army general Raúl Castro.
‘We will strengthen our bilateral relations with this visit¨ he said after his meeting with Minister Rodriguez.
Kishida announced a new large scale Japanese cooperation system to back up Cuba´s updating of its economic model named ¨Non reimbursable financial assis-tance’
He said the goal of this trip is to consolidate economic ties with Cuba; therefore he came with a business delegation that includes representatives from 30 Japanese companies
Kishida showed his support for the Cuba-US talks and said they ¨draw the world attention and of vital importance for a sustainable development of the Americas¨
The Japanese minister will meet later during the day the Vice-President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas
Cuban antibody medication receives award
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has awarded its Gold Medal to the Cuban medication Itolizumab, in a ceremony attended by vice president of the councils of state and ministers Miguel Díaz-Canel, held at Havana’s José Mar-tí Memorial.
The humanized monoclonal antibody was developed in Cuba for the treatment of chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, which affects some 125 million people worldwide, according to María de los Ángeles Sánchez Torres, director of the country’s industrial property office.
The medication is being used in Cuba, as well as China and India, via a joint pro-duction company.
Nuno Pires de Carvalho, acting director of Intellectual Property and Competition Policy Division within the WIPO presented the award to Dr. Kalet León Monzón, deputy director for research and development at the Molecular Immunology Cen-tre, who accepted it in the name of its five principal inventors.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the United Nations’ 17 specialized agencies.
Cuba to expand regulatory action on drugs
The Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment State Control Centre (Cecmed) in Cuba will increase its regulatory action on pharmaceutical excipients or binders next year.
Head of Cecmed’s Drug Evaluation and Research department Carmen Beatriz de la Cruz told the Prensa Latina agency in Havana that the regulatory entity will begin the registration of pharmaceutical excipients that should be imported for the production of the national industry next year.
Some requirements for the registration of that kind of raw material that does not currently exist in the country are being drawn up, she said.
The regulatory authority of drugs in Cuba is responsible for promoting and protect-ing public health through a system that ensure timely access to market of products with quality, safety, efficacy and accurate information to their rational use.
Cecmed also serves as the reference authority of the Pan-American Health Or-ganization (PAHO) for the Americas.
A requirement project for the registration of pharmaceutical excipients in Cuba was presented during a lecture in the framework of the 13th International Fair Health for All, recently held along with the Second International Convention "Cu-ba-Salud 2015," held last week at the Havana's Conference Centre.
The regulatory entity presented a stand in the Health for All fair, considered the largest event on health in Cuba and one of the most important ones of the sector in Latin America. "Health for All" had the presence of 221 firms and 197 compa-nies from 30 countries.
Cuba begins second stage of polio vaccina-tion
In accordance with the 13th vaccination week in the Americas, Cuba concluded on May 3 the second stage of the 54th Anti-Polio Campaign said Doctor Marlen Valcarcel, director of the national immunization programme, who told media that about 373 962 children from 30 days to two years old, 11 months and 29 days, would receive the second doses of the vaccine, while the vaccine will be also re-activated with one dose for another 111 323 children between the ages of nine and ten.
MINSAP official Miguel Angel Galindo told media that the vaccine will not be ad-ministered to minors with high fever, vomiting or diarrhea, and carers should wait for 30 minutes before and after vaccination to permit water to be ingested.
The vaccine should not be used on immunodeficient children and those allergic to anti-polio vaccine.
Since 1962, when Cuba eliminated poliomyelitis, and up to 2014, about 83 million dosages of the vaccine have been applied, and this has guaranteed the protec-tion of the Cuban population under 68 years of age, he said.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) states that the 13th Vaccination Week in the Americas seeks to protect nearly 60 million children and adults from preventable diseases with vaccines against measles, rubella, polio, pneumonia and other ailments in 45 countries.
More than 519 million people of the region have been vaccinated in the 13 years of history of this campaign, which has become a world health initiative, said Carissa F. Etienne, director of PAHO, a regional office of the World Health Organ-ization for the Americas.
The universal slogan this year focuses on drawing the attention to ‘close the gaps in immunization,’ according to a message from WHO in Washington.
Final results of lung cancer vaccine to be pre-sented in Cuba
The final results of the study confirming the effectiveness of CIMAvax-EGF in ad-vanced lung cancer will be presented at an international workshop to be held here on May 12 and 13, specialized sources have reported.
The implementation of the vaccine — conceived by the Centre for Molecular Im-munology (CIM-Spanish acronym) — in primary health care, the overall safety pro-file and follow-up experiences in other countries, will also be addressed in the V International Workshop on the topic, to be held in the Palace of Conventions.
The event, organized by CIMAB S.A., a Cuban biopharmaceutical company dedi-cated to the development and commercialization of drugs for the treatment of ma-lignant tumors, will aim to discuss new indications and therapeutic combinations of the compound.
CIMAvax-EGF is the first registered therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer, consid-ered a novel approach capable of generating the patient's own antibodies against the epidermal growth factor (EGF).
The antibodies generated halt the proliferation of tumor cells, controlling the pro-gression of the disease, increasing the chances of survival, and improving the quality of life of treated patients.