Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cuban News Update: Namibian President Pohamba Visits Cuba; Chile Renews Relations

President of the Republic of Namibia arrives today in Cuba

Responding to an official invitation from President Raúl Castro Ruz, President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba of Namibia and of the South West African’s People’s Organization (SWAPO), will arrive today in Cuba.

The visit will help strengthen the excellent relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, forged during that fraternal country’s struggle for independence and the definitive defeat of the apartheid regime.

President Pohamba will hold official conversations with Raúl and will meet with other state and party leaders. He will also tour places of economic, scientific, social, and historical interest.

Translated by Granma International

UN pays tribute to Fidel Castro and Julius Nyerere

NICARAGUAN Miguel D’Escoto, president of the UN General Assembly, today paid tribute to the late Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, and to leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

On the World Day of Social Justice, D’Escoto stated that one great hero with respect to social justice was Julius Nyerere who, he said, helped the whole of Africa to free itself from colonialism and establish a social and economic system in which human beings are at the center of any economic venture.

The Nicaraguan priest said that with respect to Fidel Castro, he is more than a hero, and is the closest thing we have to a saint in our anguished world, according to a report by the Prensa Latina agency.

During an event organized by the UN Social and Economic Council’s Commission for Social Development, D’Escoto emphasized that he is indebted to Fidel Castro, as is all of humanity, as a man who has devoted his life to tirelessly practicing and promoting solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world.

D’Escoto, who was Nicaragua’s foreign minister during the first Sandinista administration, also referred to the emergence of new leaders such as Bolivian President Evo Morales.

In overcoming all manner of difficulties, Morales is guiding the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and the rest of the world towards the central role that rightly corresponds to them in our societies, he underlined.

D’Escoto maintained that it is impossible to achieve development, integration and social justice without peace, justice and respect for all human rights.

Translated by Granma International

Raúl receives Chilean president

ON the afternoon of Wednesday February 11 at the Palace of the Revolution, President Raúl Castro Ruz received Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet Jeria, president of the Republic of Chile, who began an official visit to Cuba on Tuesday.

Following the protocol reception ceremony, the two leaders held official talks that lasted almost two hours and in the ambience of friendship, trust and mutual respect that currently characterizes relations between the two countries.

With respect to bilateral relations, the two presidents expressed their satisfaction at the progress achieved and confirmed their decision to continue strengthening ties in a variety of fields, particularly the economic sector, on a basis that will benefit both peoples.

They also exchanged opinions on regional and global issues and in particular the international economic crisis and its consequences for Latin America.

Translated by Granma International


Path of friendship renewed

Deisy Francis Mexidor and Miriela Fernández Lozano

AFTER the official reception and talks in the Palace of the Revolution, President Raúl Castro and President Michelle Bachelet Jeria of the Republic of Chile attended the signing of two juridical instruments yesterday, Wednesday.

The first is an agreement on developing cooperation programs between Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation (MINVEC) and Chile’s International Cooperation Agency (AGCI), signed by Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Cuban minister of foreign investment and economic cooperation, and Alejandro Foxley Rioseco, Chilean foreign minister.

The second agreement was for cooperation in forestry matters between the two countries’ ministries of agriculture, signed by Cuban Minister of Agriculture Ulises Rosales del Toro and Chilean Minister of Agriculture Marigen Hornkohl Venegas.

It was announced that both agreements and other documents in the areas of health, science and technology, sports and biotechnology signed during Bachelet’s official visit would contribute to deepening the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.

The Chilean president said that the agreements reached were in "areas that are going to bring great benefits," because "all of the excellent health indicators that Cuba has" are well-known, and she mentioned vaccine research in the area of biotechnology.

She described the outcome of her meeting with Raúl as very positive and constructive, focusing precisely on the interests of Chile and Cuba and "the responsibilities that we have with respect to Latin America and the challenges we are facing."

Greetings to the Chilean people and the Cuban people, said Raúl at the end of the signing ceremony.


Early in the morning, President Bachelet paid tribute to José Martí, laying a wreath at the monument in the Plaza of the Revolution.

After that, she visited the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema, where she was symbolically presented with a number of films that are part of her country’s film patrimony, preserved for decades by the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC).

"This is a gesture of affection for our cinema, for our artists," Bachelet affirmed, adding that when she returned to Chile, those works would facilitate a reunion with the country’s history and memory.

She thanked the foundation for creating the San Antonio de los Baños International Film and Television School, which, with more than 600 graduates from its regular courses — including 20-plus Chileans — is "an academic point of reference for students from our continent’s audiovisual world."

The Chilean president’s remarks were given at the end of a ceremony to mark the official return to her country of dozens of films made during Chile’s Salvador Allende government and the subsequent dictatorship, based on a cooperation agreement between Chile’s Moneda Palace Cultural Center Foundation and ICAIC. The agreement was signed by Chilean Minister of Culture Paulina Urrutia, and Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto.

These materials include a version of Una foto recorre el mundo, a documentary by Pedro Chaskel about Che Guevara, and 83 others, a total that could rise to 95 in the coming days, according to Omar González, president of ICAIC.


Also during the morning, Bachelet was welcomed at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), an institution within the western Havana scientific complex.

Accompanied by Dr. José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, health minister and member of the Political Bureau; José Miyar Barruecos, secretary of the Council of State; Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, and Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, scientific advisor to the Council of State, the Chilean president listened attentively to a detailed explanation of the activities of our men and women in the field of knowledge.

Bachelet learned of the accomplishments of the scientific complex with respect to 91 projects related to human health. Outstanding examples include: in 1959, at the time of the triumph of the Revolution, the country had an infant mortality rate of 37 for every 1,000 live births; last year, this indicator stood at 4.7; today, Cuba has a vaccination program for 13 different diseases; the transfer of technology to other nations within the framework of South-South cooperation; long-term research against diseases such as AIDS, and others, according to Dr. Francisco Machado, CIGB’s deputy general director.

Likewise, Bachelet heard details about the Immunology Trials Center, which over the past two decades has developed 16 generations of scientific teams and created 181 laboratories within the healthcare system, as explained by the director of the institution, José Luis Fernández Yero.

For her part, Dr. Concepción Campa, member of the Political Bureau and director of the Finlay Institute, talked about the progress made with respect to vaccines in Cuba and highlighted the merits of collective work. She said that at this moment in time, the Meningitis B vaccine created at the center continues to be the only one of its kind in the world. Finally, Agustín Lage, director of the Center for Molecular Immunology, spoke about the institution’s research on malignant tumors. "Even if chronic conditions cannot be cured, they can at least be controlled," she emphasized.

Bachelet expressed her admiration for the development that has been achieved by Cuba: its high life expectancy, low maternal mortality rates, excellent level of healthcare and human development, advances in research technology, early diagnosis, and others, which are indisputable achievements.

At the end of the visit to the CIGB, a memorandum of understanding on biotechnological cooperation was signed by Yanet Vega, Chilean deputy health minister, and Joaquín García, her Cuban counterpart.

"It is an honor and a privilege to learn about the extraordinary experience of the scientific complex and its centers, whose main objective is to contribute to the health of Cuban men and women," stated Bachelet.


Another of President Bachelet’s activities on Wednesday was to inaugurate a one-woman show at the Casa de las Américas by Matilde Pérez, one of the principal exponents of kinetic art in Chile.

The exhibition is part of the extensive program conceived by the prestigious cultural institution to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Abel Prieto, culture minister and member of the Political Bureau; Miguel Barnet, president of UNEAC, and Roberto Fernández Retamar, president of Casa de la Américas, took part in the event, as well as other well-known individuals from Cuba and Chile.

Today (Thursday) the Chilean president and the large delegation accompanying her will continue with their program in this capital.

Translated by Granma International

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