Author: Redacción Internacional | email@example.com
January 30, 2018 03:01:42
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The signing of the Peace Agreement negotiated in Havana opened the doors of civilian life and political struggle to the FARC guerrilla, which is now a political party with the same acronym by which it was identified for more than a quarter century.
The Common Revolutionary Alternative Force recently launched its campaign for this year’s presidential and legislative elections. Timoleón Jiménez, leader of the former guerrilla secretariat, heads the list to occupy the Casa de Nariño [Colombia’s presidential palace}.
The Peace Agreement establishes that the FARC are entitled to ten Congress seats, regardless of their results at the polls.
USAtells its citizens to reconsider trips to Cuba, one of the safest countries in the world
Author: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | firstname.lastname@example.org
January 10, 2018 23:01:15
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Although Cuba is one of the safest destinations in the world, and meets all international standards, the United States on Wednesday recommended that its citizens “reconsider” possible trips to the Greater Antilles.
The State Department changed its old alert system with a ranking that places all nations on four levels, where the first only involves “taking normal precautions” and the fourth receives the warning “do not travel.”
Cuba, whose citizen security indicators are among the best in the region, was located at level three, with the suggestion of “reconsidering visits” because “there are serious risks to their safety and protection.”
Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti and Guatemala are among the Latin American countries given the same classification.
As on September 29th of last year, when an unjustified travel alert was issued against the Island, the argument used by Washington once again was the occurrence of alleged “attacks” against US diplomats in Havana, about which there is no any evidence.
“Because the safety of our personnel is at risk and we can not identify the source of the attacks, we believe that US citizens may also be exposed to danger,” says the Department of State website.
However, after months of both US and Cuban investigations, evidence to support the hypothesis of the so-called “acoustic attacks” is still lacking.
Three State Department officials acknowledged before a US Senate hearing last Tuesday that the causes and reasons for the health conditions alleged by their staff in Havana are still unknown.
Also, a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cited by the Associated Press, argues that there is no evidence that “sonic attacks” have been carried out against US diplomats in Cuba.
On Tuesday, Josefina Vidal, General Director for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, criticized on Tuesday the State Department for continuing to use the word “attack” when it lacks evidence to support that.
“Cuba is a safe, peaceful and healthy country for Cubans, for foreigners, for accredited diplomats and for the millions of people who visit us every year, including the Americans,” said Vidal.
SAFER THAN IN THE UNITED STATES
Despite the unilateral measures taken by the administration of Donald Trump to strengthen the blockade and limit travel between the two countries, in 2017 there was an increase in visits by Americans to Cuba.
According to official figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between January and November of last year 579 288 people traveled from the United States, for an increase of 248.7% in relation to 2016.
The increase in visits has occurred in a security environment, as recognized by travelers, specialized sites and tour operators.
«I have always felt safe in Cuba. I spent a month there recently and I felt more secure than in Los Angeles,” American journalist Walter Lippmann told Granma.
“Under the current law, it is still illegal for Americans to travel as tourists,” Lippmann recalled.“But anyone who visits the island, no matter the route, will find that they are in what is probably the most peaceful country in the world.”
Daniel Howell, a professor at the University of New York and a specialist in Cuban literature, told this newspaper that Cuba is objectively a very safe country, because there are almost no crimes, especially compared to the United States, which has one of the highest rates of highest violence in the first world.
According to figures from the Brady Center Against Armed Violence, about 93 Americans die every day from the use of firearms. Last year, one person killed 58 others in Las Vegas, using more than a dozen assault rifles that can be purchased without difficulty in that country.
“It does not make sense to recommend to Americans not to visit Cuba. I think they use the supposed sonic attacks to scare away tourists, but this does not make sense,” Howell added.
DISAGREE WITH THE MEASURE
Although Cuba was placed in one of the most negative categories, without the support of objective data, some lawmakers of Cuban origin reacted indignantly, expecting a worse rating.
“The Department of State should not minimize Cuba’s threat to American citizens. Lowering the level of travel warning to the Island is irresponsible, especially when there are still so many unanswered questions about the attacks against US diplomats in Havana, “Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a well-known supporter of the anti-Cuban ultra-right of Miami.
In her opinion, the new classification is less drastic than that of last September 29, when the US authorities, despite lack of evidence, said that their citizens “could be at risk of being victims of sonic attacks” and recommended abstaining from everything about traveling.
Michele Thoren Bond, an undersecretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the State Department, was consulted on Wednesday in a teleconference.
“We made a careful examination, we consulted with our experts and this has been the conclusion regarding Cuba,” she said after pointing out that the new classification is not due to “a change in the situation on the island, but to the need to be consistent.” in classifications of risks in different countries ».
Quoted by several media, she explained that category four includes countries where there is “a high probability of life risks.” Eleven nations have that classification: North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya and Mali.
The legislators of Cuban origin, opposed to the rapprochement between the two countries, would be pressing for Cuba to appear in the fourth level and thus achieve an even more drastic reduction in the flow of people between the two nations.
Counseled by some of them, including Senator Marco Rubio, the Trump administration has already taken unilateral measures such as reducing the categories of approved trips and drawing up a list of products and places banned for Americans in Cuba.
In addition, under the pretext of the supposed acoustic attacks, the State Department reduced the personnel of its embassy in Havana to the essential and paralyzed the consular services. He also demanded the withdrawal of 17 Cuban officials from Washington.
These actions have a “high cost for our population, Cuban emigration and the American people,” recently reported Josefina Vidal. (With the collaboration of Ernesto Gómez, Dayron Rodríguez and Jeiddy Martínez)
By Alfonso Nacianceno email@example.com
January 26, 2018 22:01:19
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Firearm sales skyrocket whenever a massacre, like the one caused by Stephen Paddock on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, takes place in the United States. It’s a sad truth that weighs heavily on its population.
The 58 deaths caused by this 64-year-old retired individual who fired into a crowd of more than 22,000 concertgoers at a country music festival gave rise to angry protests against firearms. However, the tycoons who showcase their novelties in any of the three arms fairs scheduled for 2018 in the U.S. consider theirs a serious line of business. It’s marked by deals worth millions and millions of dollars that benefit the U.S. economy and which, therefore, they are unwilling to abandon.
Never mind the feelings of those who are still mourning over the horrifying deaths of so many people. They only expected to have an enjoyable evening. The U.S. gun industry held its biggest annual fair for four days, just a few miles from the killing fields. Despite the general public’s astonishment and annoyance, Shot Show featured its products along 20 kilometers of aisles, adding to a history of more than 40 events, half of them held in Las Vegas, according to an AP report about the characteristics of this mega-event.
Over 1,700 exhibitors signed agreements and made deals worth millions, whereas the organizers tried to placate peoples’ logical concerns by assuring us that only gun manufacturers and dealers were allowed into the premises, the firing pins were removed from all guns on display, and there was no live ammunition.
Beyond any arguments behind the appeals for calm, absent from the show this time was the company Slide Fire, the leading manufacturer of bump stocks —attachments that enable rifles to fire faster— an invention used by Paddock in the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history. The Texas-based company has not said why it was not among the exhibitors, nor has it confirmed its presence at the National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting.
Even if Slide Fire’s bump stocks were not on display, the show presented other accessories made to enable gun users to mimic fully automatic fire and reduce noise.
In the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, and as discussions about gun control continue, Pennsylvania hosted the Guntoberfest gun show, another huge shop window with similar interests as those of Shot Show’s. In addition to this recent exhibition, they have already planned for another two meetings of rednecks, as gun industry leaders are usually nicknamed.
Marine West, devoted to displaying the state of the art in heavy military equipment, will have a venue in Anaheim on February 7 and 8. And April 9 to 11 will see the third of these conventions at Camp Pendleton, the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps.
Figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control of that country—also in charge of recording the number of deaths by firearms—reveal that 33,000 die of gunshots every year; two thirds of the annual 12,000 homicide victims are African-Americans; and people between the ages of 15 to 64 are more prone to suffer fatal accidents.
The American citizens themselves have coined two lapidary sentences to describe the situation of helplessness that they are exposed to every single day:
“There are more guns than people in the United States… Carrying a gun is as common as having a flowerpot at home”.
By Olga Salanueva Arango (posted to Facebook)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Reflection by Olga Salanueva Arango
I begin by clarifying that I have not been summoned by anyone, nor interviewed by anyone, nor cited by anyone; not even by the famous commission. I was surprised by the commotion over a comment that at first was intended to be a clarification for some friends, whose deductions in relation to the reasons for the exclusion of three of the Five seemed wrong. By following the suggestion of several of them, “to make my comment public to share it better”, the writing ended up exceeding the originally intended scope
I plead guilty to not being an expert on Facebook. I hope that at least those of my generation understand it. If I live long enough, I’ll try to make amends.
I did not consult with any of the Five, nor have I received a reprimand from any of them, including René. He respects my right to write on Facebook the few times I do it. I would have written it even if René was one of the two chosen, especially when, in that case, he would be in a difficult position in relation to his non-selected brothers. The Five are above this. I, on the other hand, am an earthly person, but like them revolutionary and proud of my militancy. This is very clear, because people who I thought were friends have hurt me insinuating the opposite. Paraphrasing the film, even if I were “the worst of all”, I would never be counterrevolutionary.
[ This is an allusion to a film about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. The title of the film is the famous phrase “Yo, la peor de todas” with which she signed a letter to the Archbishop.]
In passing, I also clarify that I maintain my opinion that the five should have been on the ballot, that the vanguard demonstrated should be with their voices and their votes in the Assembly. I still think it unfair to distinguish between them, and it seems a mistake to have done it. I did not fight so many years just for René, but for the five as a unit, and it hurts me that someone would try to separate them, even if he does not really realize what it is doing. This feeling is still very strong in me, and I would not be myself if I said that with two in the Assembly the five are represented (which confirms that this writing is not the result of convocation, or interview, or a summons, not even by the famous commission).
If I write this, it is because I think we should put this issue to rest and take care of what matters: The Revolution. I do not care at all what the Herald does or does not do. The Herald has spent the last 60 years trying to destroy the Revolution without success. It will continue to do so, with the same lack of success, either with this issue or with any other. I am proud that they have written several times about me, and never well. Here I am, alive and kicking, and happy with my family together. I know closely that the five, far from being offended, had fun with their pamphlets in the hole, when they had few entertainment options.
I would like to think that, after all, this issue has produced a useful, very interesting and necessary discussion. If my writing provoked it, it was because it was already in the air. Thanks to those who supported us and said so many things worthy of thanks. Thanks also to those who respectfully disagreed with our opinion. To those who were disrespectful and aggressive toward me, or were dedicated to manipulating my opinions, I thank them for allowing me to know them better so I can cross them out of my list of friends.
Now the issue is what to do: To keep moving forward. Doing our duty to the best of our ability. Go to vote. Respect the system we have and not let our reaction to its imperfections make a dent in its results. I would like to urge all those who have thought about putting the five on the ballot not to do so. Remember that this would annul the vote, and, in doing so, those friends would be doing what our true enemies want. Let’s not correct what we consider an error with a bigger error. None of the five, inside or outside the candidacy, would approve of that.
Nor is it necessary to wait for someone to withdraw their candidacy in favor of one of the five. This would not be fair to that candidate or even legal. On the other hand, it would imply a challenge to the work of a legally-constituted commission. Although we do not agree with its decision regarding the five, we must respect its work. With the same spirit with which we supported the five, I ask that we unite to make this election another victory for the Revolution. We can keep arguing afterwards.
Let’s show, like Felix Dzerzhinski, a cold mind and a heart ablaze. I want to sincerely congratulate all the deputies. They will have been elected in each municipality of the country by more than half of the votes, which allows them to legally represent the inhabitants of that municipality. My vote will be united, although I will continue to miss three more. Remember that I am still earthy and stubborn. Maybe that’s why I am, and I will be until death, revolutionary.
Olga Salanueva Arango.
By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Special for Punto Final
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In 1944, under this title, Juan Bosch published an article in solidarity with the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. It was one of the countless journalistic, political and literary works that the great Dominican writer produced during his prolonged Havana exile, several of which he dedicated to the cause of the sister island.
Despite the time elapsed, almost three-quarters of a century ago, a similar text, with the same title, could be written today: “Adrift by the seas of history, without direction, without destination, goes Puerto Rico: for four and a half centuries “
Now it should be added that the situation is worse and the island, hit by fierce hurricanes, especially the most recent and brutal named Donald Trump, faces a decisive moment in its history.
In those days, when Bosch wrote his beautiful prophecy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who promised the American people a new deal that benefited the workers and the poor and the peoples of the Continent, governed in Washington and offered a policy of good neighborliness. But his promises did not outlive him.
For a long time now, both projects have been reduced to ashes, swept away by the savage capitalism and unbridled warmongering that has been practiced, in one way or another, with secondary nuances, by all the US administrations since the Second World War.
In the 1940s, Luis Muñoz Marín and his Popular Democratic Party (PPD) still advocated the independence of the island. Later, they would relegate to a secondary level the fundamental question of national sovereignty and would accept, under Washington’s patronage, the so-called “Associated Free State” (ELA), a clumsy disguise that changed nothing in the harsh colonial reality.
Thanks to tax exemptions and other privileges, the territory was flooded by North American capital displacing local producers and promoting a massive emigration to the north. Quantum investments in the infrastructure gave it an air of modernity. Imperial propaganda spared no effort to sell the beautiful island as a paradigm, a model for the rest of the continent. At the same time, they filled the small territory with bases and military installations, turning it into a real fortress that was a key piece in its aggressive and interventionist policy throughout the continent.
That propaganda managed to hide, at the same time, two decisive aspects for understanding the Puerto Rican reality. On the one hand, there is the systematic persecution and repression against the patriotic movement, often violent and open, at other times, covert and more or less subtle, but always overwhelming. And on the other, Washington´s rejection of each and every one of the requests by the Puerto Rican people, including the PPD, to modify the colonial relationship and make it less harmful to their legitimate interests.
In fact, the ELA was a lie from its birth. There was never an “association” between Puerto Rico and the United States and to call “free” the creature thus created was, in addition to an affront to its victim, the Puerto Rican people, a gross insult to language itself. All the efforts promoted from the island to reach spaces of autonomy failed in the face of imperial insolence.
With the passage of time, the colonial metropolis was also changing. The United States continues to be the main economic and military power of the planet but its domain is no longer absolute, undisputed, as it was at the end of the Second World War. It has had to eliminate several important provisions that had favored its investments on the island and these were made in search of other more lucrative markets.
The economic model imposed on the colony ended in a resounding failure. The local authorities had to acknowledge their inability to pay the public debt of more than 70 billion dollars. They struggled uselessly in search of an impossible solution for a country totally subjected to a foreign power.
Denied of its own sovereignty, all negotiation possibilities were closed to Puerto Rico in order to confront a problem that independent countries face every day. In Washington, Congress and the Administration agreed to establish a so-called Fiscal Control Board, which today is the true authority that administers the territory and whose task is to force Puerto Ricans to pay what they supposedly have to by means of imposing draconian measures of austerity that increased unemployment, eliminated basic social services and boosted emigration.
To make matters worse, the island was hit by two hurricanes of great intensity, Irma and Maria, especially the latter which ruined it almost completely. The losses caused by these meteorological phenomena are calculated at more than 90 billion dollars. Thousands of families lost their homes and four months later a large part of the population has no electricity or potable water, many schools have not resumed their activities and nobody knows when or how the collapsed infrastructure will recover.
The precise figure of how many people lost their lives as a result of Maria’s passage is not even known. Independent journalistic investigations calculate that they go upwards of a thousand.
More than 200,000 have sought refuge in the United States in a migratory wave that does not seem to stop.
To top it all, along cameTrump. The unusual character, who has done nothing to alleviate the Puerto Rican tragedy, not only recalled that the supposed debt must be reimbursed, but also promotes a tax reform that, among other things, taxes the products coming from the island with 20% that will make economic recovery an unrealizable chimera.
In the midst of the disaster, the people’s determination to rebuild their country, without federal aid and against the corruption and clumsiness of those who claim to represent it, is moving.
It seems that what Juan Bosch anticipated so long ago may come true. At the time of the wreck it would be the workers, the dispossessed, the downtrodden, finally united in pain and hope, the only ones capable of saving the Homeland.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.The multiple crises affecting Donald Trump’s administration from the day the real estate multi-billionaire entrepreneur arrived at the Oval Office of the White House has not spared the State Department.
An article by journalist Gardiner Harris, correspondent for the The New York Times at the White House, discusses the serious situation the diplomacy of the superpower has been going through since that day. He predicts it will tend to grow more serious in tune with the vices inherent in Trump’s administration, even when, in this case, it is Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, the first-acting figure.
Harris describes what has been happening in the upper ranks of the State Department as “a parade of dismissals and early retirements”. Tillerson’s intense campaign to clean out the State Department has called upon each office of the Department to contribute to this goal.
The guarded optimism that greeted the arrival of Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of State soon gave way to concern about the lack of communication between the boss and his subordinates.
By midyear, Tillerson’s reiterated focus on issues such as inefficiency and the need to reorganize foreign policy provoked increasing anger and concern about his performance within the department.
Now, the estrangement is in the open. Diplomats going out the door are making their feelings known and a number of members of Congress have raised questions about the impact of these firings and resignations on US foreign policy.
In a recent message addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee of Representatives, citing what they said was the “exodus of more than 100 Senior Foreign Service Officers of the State Department since January “, expressed concern about what “appears to be the intentional hollowing out of our senior diplomatic ranks.”
Tillerson, a former chief executive of the EXXON corporation and a supporter of fundamentalist capitalism, has made no secret of his belief that the State Department is a bloated bureaucracy. He regards much of the day-to-day diplomacy that lower level US diplomats conduct (and he now leads) as unproductive.
Even before Tillerson’s appointment was confirmed by the Senate, his team of assistants fired 6 of the State Department’s top career diplomats, including some who had been appointed during governments headed by Republican presidents. None were given any reasons for their dismissals.
Secretary Tillerson announced a reorganization to be carried out in the following months. He stressed that this would be the most important action that he would do while in office. He hired two consulting companies to lead the process.
Since he announced, before arriving at the State Department, that he would slash its budget by 31%, many in the Department have always seen the reorganization as a smokescreen for drastic cuts.
Tillerson has frozen most hiring and offered $25,000 buyouts, hoping to get about 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants to leave their positions by October 2018.
His small group of assistants has managed to fire some diplomats and gotten others to resign by refusing them the assignments they wanted, or taking their duties away altogether.
Among those fired or sidelined there is a high proportion of Latino and African-American diplomats, as well as women. These were important to maintain the Department’s troubled diversity balance.
Gardiner Harris quotes Nancy McEldowney, a career diplomat and former ambassador who retired last June after 30 years as a US Foreign Service Officer, “There is a vacuum throughout the State Department and the junior people now working in these top jobs lack the confidence and credibility that comes from a presidential nomination and a Senate confirmation.”
An example of the trend being followed in the State Department was seeing during the farce against Cuba about “sonic attacks” (which never existed and were probably the result of Senator Marco Rubio’s initiative to promote his image as the probable future Republican president). One of the episode’s first outcomes was the reduction of the staff at the US Embassy in Havana to such an extent that it practically brought to a standstill the consular relations between both sides of the Florida Strait.
January 23, 2018.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Observers of US policy argue that senator Marco Rubio has been developing a project for some time aimed at becoming the first Latino president of the United States.
The logic of those who support him within the Republican establishment rests on the idea that if the Democratic Party could achieve it with a Black person and almost did it with a woman, it may be time to shine for a Latino Republican who, theoretically, enjoys the favor of the Pentagon and of Wall Street.
Rubio’s hopeful project involves risks and many conflicts, but the young senator seems to be willing to risk a conventional political career that is going well in order to keep the Republican Party in the White House. Even more so, given the circumstance that Trump’s re-election looks increasingly doubtful considering his constant blunders exercising the presidency.
Not too long ago, Marco Rubio was seen raging furiously against Trump in his bid for the Republican nomination. Later, he’s been allying with Trump from a position of blackmail. This is because Rubio sits on a Senate committee that could result in Trump’s impeachment due to his alleged collusion with Russia once he entered the White House.
Currently, Rubio is deeply involved in the chancy accusation against Cuba for the alleged “sonic attacks”. If successful, it could win him prestige as a skilled politician who was able to get Trump a victory “out of nothing” against the rebellious island. This would be something that a dozen previous administrations –of both parties– have not been able to achieve. Rubio has disregarded the possibility that this move may carry the risk of ridicule for him and his acolytes in the adventure.
After several months of investigations and four trips to Cuba with all the facilities and official support from the top officials of the Cuban government, the Technological Operations Division of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) officially declared that they have not found any evidence of those alleged “sonic attacks” against US diplomatic personnel in Havana.
The conclusions of the US investigators concur with those of the Cuban Expert Committee which conducted an exhaustive investigation on the alleged incidents.
With his scandalous lie against Cuba about to be exposed, Senator Rubio and his sponsors have been resorting to one manipulation after another, the last of which was to submit the case to the consideration of a Congressional Committee headed by the Florida Senator: Rubio himself.
To assess the “attacks”, several congress members and government officials testified, but the alleged victims of the attacks did not. They were excused because, being US intelligence and counter-intelligence officials accredited as diplomats in Cuba, their identities should not be revealed.
It seems evident that there has been no way to confirm the existence of the sonic attacks that Senator Marco Rubio claims. They only seem to exist in the imaginations of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
For Trump, the whole thing could be taken as just another of his blunders, but for Rubio it could mean his political funeral. In this context, the senator fabricated his theory about the origin of the “sonic attacks” in a desperate effort to find sacrificial lambs for the big lie.
According to Marco Rubio, the attacks have been so sophisticated that they cannot even describe how they happened. They “could be the work of a) a group of Castro’s opponents with the purpose of damaging the Cuban initiatives to dialogue set forth by Obama; b) a dissenting force within the Cuban government; or c) a third country: logic pointing at Russia and Vladimir Putin. “
In the great farce of the “sonic attacks”, which already has overtones of slapstick, no guilty parties are identified and the alleged victims are not known. Evidently, they do not exist.
Used as the main sponsor of the show, was President Donald Trump of whom — as Michael Wolff points out in his book Fire and Fury-– a lot has been written. Examples: “his childish acting; psychopathologies such as delusions of grandeur and paranoia; ignorance, inability to read, listen and comply with the tasks and responsibilities of his high office.”
That is why it is foreseeable that, within a few weeks, nobody will remember the farce of Trump’s sonic attacks. These will have joined the list of his “eccentricities”. Rubio will do everything possible to get out of the scene and will think: “I lost, but it was a good try. They will blame Trump. “
January 16, 2018
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation, edited by Walter Lippmann.
Just at beginning of the new year 2018, on Tuesday, January 2, South Korea proposed to North Korea the holding of high-level talks on the following week to discuss the participation of both countries in the Winter Olympic Games. They are to be hosted by Pyeong Chang, a South Korean county located about 70 kilometers south of the inter-Korean border. It would represent “an innovative opportunity to improve relations,” said the south.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed that the two Koreas meet on Tuesday, January 9, in the truce village of Panmunjom, in the Demilitarized Zone, the usual place for this kind of encounter.
If Pyongyang accepts, and the proposed meeting takes place, it would be the first contact of this nature between the governments of the two Koreas in more than two years.
The proposal came after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in year’s end speech, said that he would be open to dialogue with the South so that his country could send a delegation to the Olympic event to be held in South Korea, February 19-25.
So far, only two artistic skaters from the DPRK have been announced: Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-ik, already qualified for the Pyeong Chang games.
Joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea was to take place, as every year, in the next few days. However, the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, agreed to postpone them until after the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang. They want to try to improve conditions to work for an understanding between Pyongyang and Seoul.
“I think it would help enormously to ensure the success of the Pyeon Chang Winter Olympic Games that you show your intention to delay the exercises during the event” These were Moon’s words to Trump in a recent phone conversation. The US president agreed and told Moon that he could inform Pyongyang that there will be no war games during the sports event, as can be read in the transcript of the conversation
The decision to postpone joint military exercises occurred after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in his New Year’s message, expressed his wish that his country participate in the Winter Olympics.
Seoul had already asked Washington to consider postponing the exercises, to prevent the government of North Korea from responding by carrying out a new weapons test.
For now, North Korea’s response to the meeting proposed by Seoul for next January 9 is still pending. It is expected that the participation of the North Korean athletes in the games will be closely examined.
“Ratifying the will of our leader, we will maintain a close and sincere contact” regarding North Korean participation in the Olympic Games to be held in South Korea from 9 to 25 February,” said Ri Son-gwon, who leads inter-Korean affairs in Pyongyang, to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.
“We will hold working conversations about our potential sending a delegation to those Winter Olympics that will be held in South Korea.”
However, Ri did not specify whether North Korea would accept the offer to hold a high-level meeting on January 9, or if the talks for the time being will be limited to communication through the telephone line installed at the border. It has not been operated for two years and has been the only communications channel between the two countries.
In Seoul, Yoon Young-chan, on behalf of President Moon Jae-in, celebrated the news. “I think the announcement shows an advance towards a situation in which communication [between the two countries] is possible at all times,” he said in a brief statement to the media.
In case the high-level meeting takes place, it would be the first of this kind in more than two years between the two countries, which have remained [formally] at war for the last 65 years. It would come after a year of special tension over Pyongyang’s weapons tests, Yoon said to Yonhap.
The South Korean president, Moon, since coming to power last May, has tried to achieve a rapprochement through dialogue with the North Korean government headed by Kim Jong-un. He has also insisted that Pyongyang participate in the Winter Games.
It should be recalled that, in September 2017, Donald Trump made derogatory comments about Moon Jae-in because of his position toward Pyongyang. Trump offended the South Korean, calling him a “beggar,” for his insistence on dialogue with North Korea. “
January 4, 2018
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation edited by Walter Lippmann.
The United States’ intention to turn the protests in Iran between December 28, 2017 and January 3, 2018 into an “Iranian spring” failed miserably.
Washington’s expressions of support harmed a movement that, perhaps, arose spontaneously, but that did not last. It lost all its support due to the unwanted backing from Washington that made it offensive to the nation’s identity.
Trump took several days to figure out what was happening in his own country in August of 2017, with the social unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, the US President saw the protests in Iran as an appetizing sweet served on his plate. He tried quickly to gobble it up. He issued half a dozen tweets in support of the protests, but it was obvious that his true intention was to fan the flames and not put them out.
There is no evidence that the protesters followed a script produced by Trump or that they paid any attention to what he wrote. It cannot even be assumed that the protesters were receiving instructions from outside.
For most Iranians, Trump is just a source of animosity toward their people. He had shown that from the moment he became President. While joyfully hugging the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, Trump included Iranian nationals among the excludables in his anti-Muslim immigration rules. This, despite the fact that there has never been an Iranian involved in terrorist acts against the United States.
At the end of 2017, demonstrations and protests began to take place in several Iranian cities. These were apparently motivated by mass popular discontent. Among their demands: broader political and social freedoms, insistent denunciations of corruption in public administration. They rejected price increases in gasoline, eggs and other consumer goods and services. Added to this was dissatisfaction with the approval of a budget that projected the reduction of various social benefits and an increase in expenses related to military investment.
In an act of astonishing intervention into the internal affairs of another nation, Washington announced its support for the protests. White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, called them “real popular uprisings led by brave Iranian citizens”. Trump posted his already-mentioned tweets and praised the Iranian protesters as “hungry for food and freedom” that Washington should assist. He even promised them support.
Since his arrival in the Oval Office, Trump has systematically opposed the Nuclear Agreement that the G5 + 1 group (USA, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany). It had been negotiated with Iran for 18 months, until it was signed on July 14. The historic agreement with Iran requires the limitation of certain aspects of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program on terms accepted by Tehran.
“The United States will not repeat the shameful mistake made in our past when others stayed on the sidelines and ignored the heroic
resistance of the Iranian people who were fighting against their brutal regime, ” said Vice President Mike Pence, who criticized Barack Obama’s Administration for staying out of the protests that took place in Iran in 2009.
Once the July Agreement was announced, President Barack Obama signed the executive order lifting economic sanctions on Iran. The official in charge of the European Union’s policy, Federica Mogherini, confirmed a similar decision by the EU after a long day of diplomatic negotiations. “All parties believe that this historic agreement is as strong as it is fair,” said Mogherini, who coordinated the negotiations of the six great powers with Iran.
The Iranian people had great hope that the nuclear agreement would serve not only to prevent a war with the United States, but to get their country out of political isolation and the financial situation imposed by Washington.
The agreement opens the door for the release of the Iranian assets frozen in several world banking institutions valued at between 45 and 90 thousand billion Euros. Iran plans to increase its oil exports by no less than half a million barrels when the sanctions are lifted.
Despite the failure of their plans to produce a self-destructive “Iranian spring” in Tehran, Washington keeps going ahead with its basic purpose. Now it is working toward calling a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to examine the situation.
Taking advantage of the widespread US media coverage of the Iranian protests and its wide impact on the global media, the US delegates are trying to put on the meeting’s agenda “a dangerous problem that harms the human rights of the Iranian people” in order to create a false image of Iran and promote its destabilization.
January 8, 2018.
By Iviani Padín Geroy
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
All Cuban women of childbearing age are entitled to one package of sanitary pads per month 1.20 pesos in national currency. It may be that our country is the only one in the world that gives women the possibility of obtaining this product in pharmacies in a regulated manner, and for this the State spends considerable sums of money.
However, to say that the “intimate”, as it is popularly known, is a consumable subsidized by the State, that only partially solves a basic hygienic need which believes in neither productive delays nor obsolete machinery.
That is why JR returns to one of the issues that the national press has insistently addressed in recent years, and in which again and again the same complaints are repeated by the population involved.
Ten are not enough
“Now they are giving me the pads from September, according to the pharmacists, because they have reached the eighth cycle and these will be the last ones to be given this year,” says Odalis González, 25 years old.
Odalis, like many other Cuban women, has seen the need to buy sanitary pads on the black market, or “under the table”, as Marta Valdés, 34, says, claiming that the resellers always have the item and decide its price according to demand. “Ten pesos in normal times, and in times of shortage at 15 to 20 pesos in national currency,” she says.
Even with this alteration, the Mariposa pads continue to be the first option for those who cannot afford them in hard currency stores, where their price starts at 1.00 CUC.
“At home it’s me and my two daughters, and the three of us have a lot of menstrual flow, so we need three to four packages per month in addition to those assigned to us. We buy them near the pharmacy from a man who always sells them for ten pesos, because my salary is not enough to pay for them in hard currency,” says Yuniet Medina, from Centro Habana.
Danay Zaldívar, from Cerro, also prefers to buy them in this “cheaper” way, and she always have some in stock, she points out, because whoever sells them to her has them “even if the factory stops [producing them for] three months”.
The Mariposa pads are surcharged not only in the streets, but also in pharmacies, says Dayana Montejo, 22 years. “When you go many times they tell you that they don’t have them, that the factory has stopped, that there is no way to transport them, but if you ask them to ‘solve your problem’, a package appears at once, of course, at 10 or 15 pesos.”
María Luisa Ortega, from the same municipality, does not [always] get the ten pads that the package should contain, let alone that it is too small a number. “Sometimes they contain eight or nine pads, I have also found some with 11; but I do not think that this is a big problem, because in neither case are they enough, not even for women who, like me, have a regular three-day-long flow,” she remarks.
The said picture is also complicated from the popular viewpoint. Beyond nuances and stories, the black market should not be the solution to acquire this highly sought-after product.
What does science say?
The perspective of the specialists regarding menarche [fertility cycle?] and the frequency with which the pads have to be changed, justifies Cuban women’s concern when they reach a stage that by itself is complicated enough.
So says Dr. Arelis León Rodríguez, a specialist with the Amércia Arias Teaching Gyneco-Obstetric Hospital who recommends a change every four hours, that is, six pads per day during an ordinary period.
«When blood comes into contact with oxygen it begins to give off a bad smell. Also, if you use a pad for longer than you should, you would be at risk of catching germs and bacteria, since blood is also an excellent culture medium,” she explains.
Menarche can start from ten years of age and it tends to disappear before 55. That is why this is the stage in which the regulated pads are distributed; however, it is a biological process that manifests itself in different ways in each person, so the flows are not equally regular or abundant.
Then, doing some calculations reveals that 18 units are needed for a three-day-long period, and 42 for a week-long one. Definitely, the fertile stage becomes a real tragedy for women, who are forced to break the sanitary rules suggested by the specialists to make our stock of pads last a few more days.
And the quality?
«Terrible. I have to buy them in hard currency stores for my 15-year-old daughter because the ones they sell in the pharmacy make her skin sore and absorb very little, so she often gets stained. It is a sacrifice to buy them at 1.00 CUC or more because my salary is 350 pesos in national currency, and that is to cover all household expenses,” says Maribel Fuentes, from Old Havana.
The lack or excess of glue in the body of the pad is another recurring complaint. “When they have it, the glue is not where it should be, and that makes the pad very uncomfortable to wear because it runs constantly and that can be an embarrassment in front of other people,” warns Yenisey Yera, from Bauta.
Since 2007, extra-thin PADS cushions with and without wings [see translator’s note at bottom] have been marketed, but the change has not been welcomed by all women. Amarilis Verdecia, from San Miguel del Padrón, feel that, although sometimes it has been explained that these pads have greater absorption than the previous ones, it is not like that, and that to be safe, she must use more than one at the same time.
Yadira Ariosa, from Cerro, agrees with the poor quality of the product in general, but believes that the extra-thin pads are more comfortable than the thicker ones.
Butterfly according to Mathisa
On December 15, 2017 Emma Hernández Ibarra, general director of Mathisa, the National Hygienic-Sanitary Materials Company –and the only producer of sanitary pads in the country– replied through Granma newspaper to a complaint issued by Yudania Roche Sánchez, who decried their poor quality.
In the publication, director Hernández Ibarra explains that Mathisa relies in technology from the year 2004 that allows producing pads with and without wings, the latter mainly destined to hard currency stores.
She also said that the decision to produce “wingless pads for pharmacies responds to technological difficulties in the production lines”.
In search of more answers, JR spoke with Emma Hernández Ibarra and other Mathisa executives. As explained in the aforementioned publication, the super fine Mariposa pad is intended to offer greater comfort, since it is thinner and has a more compact super absorbent core in charge of gelatinizing the menstrual fluid.
She also clarifies that these pads are designed for a normal flow and a time of use of around three hours.
“Production depends on our current capacity, that is, a rate of 300 units per minute with a manual packaging system, which allows us to produce 3.6 to 3.8 million packages per month and no more” , she says.
These figures match the Cuban fertile population, so it is only possible to guarantee one package for each woman.
According to Hernández Ibarra, in 2017 the production of pads in the three factories of the country -one in the capital, which supplies the western region; one in Sancti Spíritus, in charge of the central provinces, and another in Bayamo, to supply eastern Cuba- was affected by the lack of essential raw materials.
“Eight of the ten raw materials needed to make them are imported from countries such as Spain, Italy and China, and only the packing and packaging material is found in the domestic market,” she says.
Due to the deficit of imported products, Mathisa, in turn, fail to meet its 2017 annual plan by ten percent and, although it managed to reduce the problems of distributing the entire product in stock, it will be impossible for the company to recover the production of the months in which the factories were stopped. “We do not have the capacity to produce what is necessary on a monthly basis and to make up for the delay on top of that.”
In response to this limitation, the National Hygienic-Sanitary Materials Company will begin a new “cycle” in 2018, which means that the women censored as of this month will get the pads for this year, but not those that remained pending in 2017, explained the Director General of Mathisa.
Yaimara Díaz Placeres, director of the UEB Almohadillas Mariposa Habana, explained that, in addition to the long-used machinery, the fluctuation of personnel also interferes with the quality of the process, since the quality control and package inspection activities are done manually, therefore, due to human errors, generally of personnel with little experience, defective packages are marketed.
In addition to Mariposa, Mathisa deputy director Mireyda Feris Tamayo explained, the company produces a discreet amount of the Petalos brand; the rest of the pads sold in Cuba are imported.
The concerns that women raise regarding the sanitary pads seem to accumulate, and for them there are still no definitive solutions, at least in the coming months, during which it only remains to expect that there will be no problems in the production or transportation of the Mariposa packages, and therefore, that at least we will get the 120 units that we are supposed to receive every year.
Also posted to Cubadebate:
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: Wings are adhesive and are supposed to stick to the underwear so the pad stays put.