Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Zimbabwe President Mugabe Pays Tribute to Castro
November 30, 2016

President Mugabe, flanked by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa (right) addresses the media on arrival at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, yesterday morning to pay his respects to the leader of the Cuban revolution Commandante Fidel Castro Ruz who died on Saturday night. — (Picture by Presidential photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

From Caesar Zvayi in HAVANA, Cuba
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe has described the death of the leader of the Cuban revolution and founding father of the nation Commandate Fidel Castro Ruz, who passed on on Friday night, as a loss not only for the people of Cuba, but many communities and leaders in Africa where the Commandante’s legacy of liberation and assistance endures.Addressing the media on arrival at Jose Marti International Airport here yesterday morning, President Mugabe chronicled how Cuba, under the leadership of Cde Fidel Castro, was unencumbered by the albatross of an illegal Western blockade to help liberate and develop the human resource capacity of several countries in Africa and South America.

“In short I can just say taking all that he has done, Fidel Castro, and all that Cuba has done under his leadership, your loss is our loss and we could not just stay away and keep away now that he is gone. We could not just keep away without coming to say farewell dear brother, farewell revolutionary,” said President Mugabe.

“We shall always remember you as our own in the same way as Cubans will do so and that is the spirit that brings me and my delegation here, just to be with you, to share a tear with you and assure you that our hearts are with you also.

“But also our hearts are full of courage, and his life that he has bequeathed us, a lot of revolutionary goodness,” he said.

Fidel’s legacy, the President said, transcended Cuba to cover the people of Africa and South America that he sacrificed so much for.

“I, as President of Zimbabwe, have come to join the people of Cuba and mourn with them the loss of our dear brother, and our dear leader Fidel Castro.

“To express our deep condolences to them, and assure them that their feeling of deep loss is shared by us in Zimbabwe, and I happen to know by also a great many communities and leaders in Africa,” President Mugabe said.

“Fidel was not just your leader. He was our leader and the leader of all revolutionaries. We followed him, listened to him and tried to emulate him.

“I used to come several times here and met with him and shared with him our situation in Africa, our struggle in Africa, and there was in him the spirit of a man who identified himself with our struggles,” he said.

Commandate Castro came to power in 1959 after overthrowing the regime of US acolyte Fulgencio Batista after a popular revolution.

He presided over Cuba for 47 years, first as Prime Minister up to 1976, then as president from 1976 to 2006 when he handed the reins to his brother, Raul, the incumbent president.

Cde Castro set up a socialist state right on the US doorstep and launched a people-centred development agenda that drew the wrath of the US establishment which responded by imposing an illegal economic blockade on Cuba on February 3, 1962, including masterminding 638 attempts on Cde Castro’s life, all of which failed as he outlived 11 US presidents till he went out on his own terms on Saturday surrounded by family and friends.

Due to his life of selfless service not only to Cuba but the entire developing world, Cde Castro’s circle of friends and family extended beyond the borders of his tiny Caribbean nation to encompass all who believe in their inalienable right to freedom and self-determination, Zimbabwe included.

Zimbabwe-Cuba relations date from the days of the liberation struggle when Cuba extended material, logistical and moral support to the struggle. They firmed with the establishment of formal diplomatic relations at independence in 1980 and have been manifest in manpower development that culminated in the establishment of the Bindura University of Science Education in 1996.

The university was born out of the localisation of the highly successful science and mathematics teacher training programme that had for 10 years seen thousands of Zimbabweans graduate with science and mathematics education teaching degrees in Cuba.

President Mugabe said of Cde Castro: ´´He was not just a man of words, he was a man of action. And in my country after he visited us during the Non Aligned Movement Summit of 1986 and discussed with me how Cuba could assist, he agreed to establish on the Isle of Youth, a university to train our young men and women in science and mathematics. Overtime he trained over 3000 young teachers of science and mathematics who have done a lot of good work in Zimbabwe.

´´ And besides that, he decided to start a programme on a completely unexpected basis taking into account that Cuba was suffering from sanctions imposed on it by the United States and its allies, a programme of training doctors for countries, Latin American countries, South African, if not African communities, to train doctors for us.

´´We have those doctors in our hospitals to this day, the medical personnel. We have them now as I speak. And this was being done by a Cuba that was in difficulties economically because of the sanctions imposed unfairly on it by America.´´

He thanked Cubans for their resilience in withstanding over half a century of an illegal western blockade saying this connected them with the people of Africa.

´´And we want to thank the people of Cuba for their spirit of endurance, bearing this suffering from sanctions. It is that spirit that has identified the people of Cuba with the people of Africa and has made us one in our struggle,´´ President Mugabe said.

As such it can be said for Zimbabwe apart from holistic independence and democracy, Cde Castro’s legacy lives on in the ongoing STEM initiative pioneered by the science and mathematics education programme, the Look East policy he again pioneered after a fallout with western rabble rousers, and manpower development.

Today many of the beneficiaries of Cde Castro’s vision are members of the Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association (Zicufa) that continues to pursue synergies of enhancing the strong bilateral relations between Harare and Havana.

Said Harvard scholar Garikai Chengu, “Fidel Castro is beloved by the free people of Africa, Asia and South America because he always stood with them against the tyranny of Empire.

“While Britain and America were supplying arms to help Africa’s apartheid regimes, Cuba was busy sending its men to fight them.

“America considered Mandela a terrorist, Cuba simply helped arm him.”

Under Castro, Cuba had the best literacy rate in the world because it spent five times as much on education as war – the opposite of what America does. In fact, Cuba achieves the same health care system outcomes as the United States at only 5 percent the cost.

“Lest we forget, Cuba was the biggest single provider of healthcare workers to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, more than all richer nations. Cuba has sent more doctors throughout the world to minister to the poor than even the World Health Organization.

“Cuba has played one of the greatest humanitarian roles in the world, especially given its small size and meagre resources,” said Chengu.

President Mugabe is accompanied by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Health and Child Care minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and senior Government officials.

He was welcomed at Jose Marti International Airport by ambassador to Cuba Ignatius Mudzimba, Cuba´s Justice Minister and embassy staff.
Cuban Teacher Training Program Building Zimbabwe
November 30, 2016

Photo: Zimbabwean students sharing a drink with Cuban lecturers

Christopher Charamba Review  Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

Education is an important tool for the development of a nation. A quality education system will in turn produce an educated population which can contribute towards building a better society.

This has been the thinking of leaders such as President Robert Mugabe and the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, as reflected in their policies. One such policy was the Cuba Teacher Training Programme which facilitated for the training of 2 300 Zimbabwean teachers in its lifetime.

The relationship between Cuba and Zimbabwe stemmed from the colonial period where Cuba supported the liberation efforts of the freedom fighters.

This relationship was further strengthened once Zimbabwe gained independence as Cuba took not only to training Zimbabwean teachers but also doctors to assist the education and health services in the country.

Mr Fananidzo Pesanai, President of the Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association, was the chief education officer coordinating the Cuba Teacher Training Programme when it began in the 1980s.

“The programme started when President Mugabe visited Cuba in 1985. He toured the country and was taken to the ‘island of youth’. There he visited schools belonging to many nationalities, including Mozambique, Ghana and Angola where they were receiving training in primary and secondary education.

“President Mugabe then asked Cde Castro if he could send some of his people to address the shortage of teachers in Zimbabwe, particularly in the Science and Mathematics subjects at secondary level,” he said.

Mr Pesanai said Zimbabwe was rebuilding the education system in the post-independence period and this was an opportunity for Zimbabweans to receive quality training abroad.

“Zimbabwe had teachers for primary education but there was a shortage in the Science, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics subjects especially at secondary level.

“Cde Castro agreed and in 1986 together with Elijah Chanakira who was the permanent secretary for education at the time we were sent to Cuba to study the education system there and get an idea of how it was structured as we intended to introduce a teacher training programme,” he added.

In September 1986 a memorandum of understanding was signed following a joint commission in Havana and that month, 400 young men and women together with eight lecturers were flown to Cuba on a chartered Air Zimbabwe flight and the programme started.

“The programme was a five-year education degree and the students learnt Science, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Geography. They were also taught the theory and the pedagogy of education.

“Of the eight Zimbabwean lecturers that were sent, three were to teach English, because Cuba is a Spanish speaking country but the language of instruction in Zimbabwe would be English.

“Two of the lecturers were for cultural studies, so that the students wouldn’t get homesick while they were there and still kept in touch with the Zimbabwean culture.

“The other three lecturers taught theory of education so that they were accustomed to how the Zimbabwean education system operated in order for them to fit in,” Mr Pesanai explained.

He added that every year following from 1986 to 1988 400 students a year were taken to Cuba where they excelled at their studies.

“I remember one year at the University of Enrique Jose Varona, where the students were being educated, Zimbabwean students got 12 out of 15 prizes. Best in Biology, Physics, Chemistry and other subjects. The only subjects they did not get prizes in I think were computers and Marxist education.

“Those who graduated in Cuba have also gone on to do exceptionally well in life. Right now, some 40 of them that I am aware of, have PhDs and are teaching at universities here in Zimbabwe, in the UK, in the US, South Africa and Australia,” he said.

A total of 2 300 Zimbabwean students graduated in Cuba before the programme ended in 1999. It was then relocated to Zimbabwe and became the genesis of the Bindura University of Science Education.

“The programme we now have at Bindura University began with a few lecturers who came from Cuba as well as some local lecturers. Up to now there are still Cuban lecturers at the university,” Mr Pesanai explained.

On Cde Fidel Castro, Mr Pesanai said, the world has lost a revolutionary and progressive individual.

“He was a person committed to helping other nationalities, someone I can describe as selfless. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, between 1989 and 1992, Cuba went through a difficult economic period. It was known as the “special period”, and if you ask me it was much worse than what we experienced here,” said Mr Pesanai.

“Castro however, made sure that all foreign students continued to receive free education, free health care, transport, entertainment and on top of that an 80 Cuban peso allowance. To put it into perspective the average lecturer was getting 300 pesos.

“I remember at the time he assured 35 000 foreign students, with the words, ‘we are not rich, we do not have much but the little we have, we will share with you’. These are the words of a man who was committed to the cause of others,” he said.

Mr Pesanai further stated that what Castro did transformed many lives in Zimbabwe, some of which he might not have known.

“What he did for the education sector in Zimbabwe is immense. Many people have benefited from the programme either directly as participants or as students of those who received training.”

Mr Misheck Mhishi, a lecturer at Bindura University of Science Education was a recipient of the Cuba Teacher Training Programme in the 1980s and reminisced on his time in Cuba.

“I went to Cuba in 1987 when things with the Soviet Union were still fine. During this time, we received our education and everything was very normal.

“Soon after, however, in the 1990s, when the Soviet Union collapsed, things turned for the worse in Cuba. There were a lot of shortages in Cuba during this time,” said Mr Mhishi.

“Despite this though, the Cuban government did the best to accommodate us. We were given clothing, food and accommodation.

“You could tell that although things weren’t the way that they should be, the Cubans were trying and they made a lot of sacrifices for us to receive an education so that we could in turn educate our own people,” he said.

Speaking on the education they received while in Cuba, Mr Mhishi said it was of exceptional quality and made it possible for them to create a quality education system in Zimbabwe.

“The resources that we had in Cuba were state of the art and this gave us an advantage in terms of learning and also teaching when we came back. Our laboratories in Cuba were always fully stocked and there was ample study material to reference,” he said.

“When we returned to Zimbabwe this was an advantage and provided a solid foundation for how we were to teach and interact with our students,” he said.

Mr Mhishi had praises for Cde Castro and was disappointed to see the negative comments that people have been posting about him.

“People think when a leader stays long in power he is automatically a dictator, but if you see the way that Cde Fidel Castro lived there is no way you could say that he is a dictator.

“Cde Castro is one politician whom I respected because he was humble and principled. He would sometimes go out into the streets and buy from vendors. He interacted with ordinary people regularly and was not aloof.

“I remember how he used to come on TV and explain to people if something was not going well. For example, if there were to be a fuel crisis, he would come on TV and let the people know so that they would be psychologically prepared.

“They knew that their president was with them and cared enough to explain the situation to them. This, I thought, was good because it did not leave room for rumours because people were informed. Even things that some people might consider state secrets he was open about,” he said.

Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Elio Savon Oliva said relations between Cuba and Zimbabwe had always been excellent and that the education programme was an example of how strong they were.

“Before independence, Cuba supported Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle and once Zimbabwe got its independence, we continued to support in the development of the country.

“Through our efforts, Cuba trained 2 300 teachers on scholarship to strengthen the education system in Zimbabwe. Following the programme in Cuba, we continued to support efforts here in Bindura,” he said.

Ambassador Oliva explained that even though Cuba had the burden of the ‘special period’ where their economy went into a serious depression, president Castro was committed to see through the teacher training programme.

“Despite the economic problems that Cuba faced during the ‘special period’, for president Fidel Castro and his government there was serious political will for the programmes to go ahead no matter what.

“This was a clear decision by Cde Castro because he wanted to sustain the solidarity between the nations but also ensure that development took place in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Cuba’s Education Success Story, What It Can Teach Africa
November 30, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Clive Kronenberg
Review Correspondent

Cuba takes education very seriously. It became a top priority after Fidel Castro became prime minister in 1959 and this helped the country shake its mantle as the most unequal of the Hispanic Caribbean territories during both the colonial and post-colonial early 20th century periods.

The foundations of Castro’s new social — and socialist — order were premised on the common understanding that only good-quality, empowering education could conquer Cuba’s acute poverty, ignorance and underdevelopment.

Cuba invested heavily to make its education system world class. By the 1980s and 1990s, the country’s educational disbursements as a ratio of gross domestic product were among the highest in the world.

Cuba has much to teach Africa about prioritising and reforming education. Its approach to education has made a unique contribution to social change. There are valuable lessons here for the continent and, as more than a decade of my research has shown, particularly for South Africa.

There are three major methods through which Cuba revolutionised teaching and learning after Castro’s socialist government came to government.

1. Literacy

The first was its celebrated 1961 Literacy Campaign, which marked in concrete terms the importance of education for an embattled society in transition. In the space of barely one year, one million illiterate people were targeted by mobilising 250 000 literacy teachers and thousands of devoted school children.

By the end of 1961, 75 percent of those one million had achieved rudimentary literacy. There were extensive follow-ups concentrating also on adult education.

2. Access for all

While the literacy drive was underway, school enrolments grew rapidly — and more than doubled a decade later. This was largely because education at all levels, including university and college, became free of charge.

The government launched programs for peasant girls, domestic workers, prostitutes and those who had dropped out before finishing school.

These, along with the newly founded Organisation of Day Care Centres, sought to ensure that education was accessible to all. The programmes also targeted those living in remote and isolated rural communities.

Cubans’ hard work has paid off. Since the mid-1990s net primary admission has been 99 percent for both girls and boys, compared to 87 percent in the Latin American region.

At that time, 94 percent of Cuban primary students reached grade five, contrasting steeply with 74 percent in the region. Gross secondary enrolments were 78 percent for boys and 82 percent for girls, compared to 47 percent and 51 percent in the region.

3. Teachers matter

Cuba knows the importance of good teachers. During extensive fieldwork, I discovered that its teacher training institutions use wherever possible only the most-advanced, well-researched scientific teaching methods and strategies.

Students generally are accepted as trainee teachers if they possess the virtues of intellect, good character, a proven commitment to social development and love for children.

At the turn of the millennium Cuba boasted the highest number of teachers per capita worldwide, 1:42. At the 2015 International Pedagogia Conference in Havana I was told by educational officials that the country’s student/teacher ratio as of 2015 is an astonishing 12:1.

Education for social change

Cuba’s methods are respected and applied way far beyond the island’s boundaries. By 2010 its literacy method had been adopted in 28 Latin American, Caribbean, African, European, and Oceanic countries. Its use had qualified millions of formerly unschooled people the world over to read and write.

From my discussions with Cuban education officials during research trips, it is obvious that the country wants struggling countries to learn from its experiences. They say it is deplorable that nearly 800 million people, two-thirds of them women, are illiterate around the world. It is likewise unpardonable that nearly 70 million children do not have access to basic schooling.

Ordinary Cubans and government officials alike argue that people’s minds must be highly developed for them to contribute to a world free of fear, ignorance and disease. Education, ultimately, empowers human beings to become seekers and guardians of progress and peace.

The Cuban government’s steadfast commitment to education is irrefutable. The island’s relatively modest economy makes its educational triumphs all the more astonishing.

This sets the objective basis for more in-depth scrutiny of its methods, particularly by struggling nations. After all, Cuba’s accomplishments are not a miracle or a coincidence. They are the outcome of years of devoted work, sacrifice and meeting crucial commitments on highly effective terms. — Conversation Africa.

Clive Kronenberg works for The Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He has received institutional funding to conduct research, and hereby acknowledges CPUT’s 2015 URF Award.
Great Historical Figure Has Gone to Sleep
November 30, 2016
Opinion & Analysis, Nzenza Sekai
Zimbabwe Herald

When Fidel Castro died last week, my cousin Reuben wiped his misty eyes. I think he was crying. But I am not sure. Then he called our cousin Sam, the one who is married to Lita, a Cuban woman and said, “Hey Bro, the old revolutionary has left us.”They talked for a while and Reuben said on Saturday they would all get together at a bar in the city, smoke cigars and (even though they both do not smoke) remember a man they said helped liberate some African countries from colonialism.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Sam and Lita came over for a visit with the children. They were sad about Fidel’s death.

Lita offered to cook a Spanish dish called paella for all of us.

She boiled plenty of rice in a cooker, cut purple onion separately and fried them with plenty of garlic. Then she grilled two packets of sausages and pieces of chicken thighs.

She fried tomatoes and added paprika, black pepper, green peas and parsley before mixing everything together in a big pot. She placed the paella on a platter for us to serve ourselves.

When invited to the table, Piri picked only the sausages and chicken from the platter, leaving the rice.

Lita, in broken English, because she speaks mainly Spanish, smiled and gently told Piri to take the rice as well. Piri said next time Lita should learn to cook more meat and serve it separately from the rice when serving in-laws like us. Lita smiled gently. She has only been in this country for a few months.

On television, there was a documentary on Fidel Castro’s life. It was a perfect time for us all to relax and follow the history of Fidel. Outside it was raining, nonstop. Mubvumbi chaiwo.

“Who is Fidel Castro and why should we feel so strongly about a man who does not look black at all?” Piri asked, grabbing a beer from the cooler box that Sam had brought into the room.

With a tone of impatience, Reuben said, “Sis, we must learn to understand that in this world we are all related. It does not matter whether you are black or white.”

“Now you sound like a Michael Jackson song,” said Sam, increasing the volume as we sat to watch the remarkable life of Fidel Castro.

An African-looking woman reporter with a very strong British accent presented the story.

She said Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in Brian, Oriente Province, Cuba.

He was an illegitimate son of Angel Castro Argiz, a very wealthy farmer and landowner who had fallen in love with his mistress Lina Ruz González.

Fidel was sent to a Jesuit school in Havana and in 1945 he began studying law. During his studies, he became politically conscious of the injustice of the world around him. He was a strong critic of the United States’ involvement in the Caribbean and in Africa.

Castro married Mirta Diay Balart, who came from a wealthy family though both their families did not approve of the marriage.

In September 1949, Fidel and Marta had a son called Fidelito. The couple struggled for money while Fidel was increasingly getting involved in politics.

Soon after the start of the Cuban revolution in 1953, Fidel Castro led an attack on Moncada Army Barracks and was arrested and put on trial.

Standing in court, Fidel is remembered for saying these famous words: “You can condemn me but it doesn’t matter; history will acquit me.”

After his release from prison, Fidel formed the 26th of July Movement and in January 1959, Fidel Alejandro Castro, through an armed revolution took over power from President Fulgencio Batista.

Fidel started to adopt more communist thinking. By 1965, through his Communist Party, Cuba clearly entered the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

In 1978, Cuba sent at least 15 000 troops to Ethiopia and helped fight the invasion of Somali troops in Ogaden. But it was in Angola that Fidel Castro gained his popularity and developed what was to be a legacy in Africa.

After Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in April 1974, the country decided to relinquish its colonialist control of Mozambique and Angola. Then there was an immediate power struggle in Angola as three pro-independence movements fought for power.

There was the socialist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola and Holden Roberto’s National Liberation Front of Angola, supported by Zaire and Jonas Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola that was backed by the US and South Africa.

Savimbi had been a collaborator of the racist Portuguese dictatorship. He was known for his ruthlessness to the people.

At that time, apartheid South Africa was illegally occupying Namibia, where they had been in control for 60 years.

South Africa had no resistance in that part of South West Africa or in southern Africa.

Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia, under the colonialist rule of Ian Smith and the liberation war for independence was gaining momentum.

Who would challenge the dominant South Africa, supported well by the US?

In October 1975, South Africa simply invaded Angola with support from the US government, who wanted to economically control that part of Africa.

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which was likely to lead the new independent Angola was overthrown.

Agostinho Neto, the President of Angola then, appealed to Cuba asking for support to fight the South African army’s invasion.

On November 4, Fidel Castro agreed and a few days later, the world woke up to find that the first Cuban special forces had boarded planes for Angola.

They arrived and launched what was known as Operation Carlota. The stage was set for a fierce war between three groups.

Many Cubans continued to pour into Angola. By the end of 1975, there were as many as 36 000 Cuban troops supported by Soviet military advisers.

Cuban soldiers fought hard and in March 1988, during the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, South Africans were forced to withdraw and admit defeat.

How a poor Caribbean island like Cuba managed to fight South African Defence Forces (SADF), which was backed by the world’s largest superpower at that time remains a remarkable phenomenon.

It was a like the Biblical David and Goliath story.

In Africa, Fidel Castro became a hero for the liberation of Angola.

But such an intervention was not without costs. Cuba lost as many as 2 500 Cuban soldiers in Angola.

In July 1991, after the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela visited Cuba to mark the 38th anniversary of the Cuban revolution.

Mandela thanked Cuba for her role in supporting the struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Mandela said: “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa.

“The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character . . . We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us.”

Apart from fighting wars against oppression and racism, Fidel Castro’s Cuba welcomed African people and trained many thousands of doctors, engineers and technicians.

They expected trained and skilled Africans to return home and serve their communities. Among those trained in Cuba were students from post-independent Zimbabwe.

Within Cuba, Fidel Castro’s health system was exceptionally efficient and his educational system was rated to be one of the best in the world.

In sport, Cuban athletes, boxers, basket ballers and baseball players won many Olympic medals, defeating big countries like India, Japan and Brazil.

As a speaker, Fidel Castro was known for making the longest speech of any world leader at the UN General Assembly.

He was also a big figure of the Non Aligned Movement, standing alongside Jawaharlal Nehru, Josef Broz Tito, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah and Sukarno.

Standing more than six feet tall, with a large beard, smoking cigars and always wearing green war-like uniform, Fidel Castro was an imposing figure.

But it would not be right to simply see Fidel as a strong kind supporter of the poor and impoverished. Some people did not like his economic policies and others accused him of dictatorship and authoritarianism.

Many Cubans moved to the US and lived there in exile. When Fidel died last week, some of the exiled Cubans were seen dancing and celebrating in the streets of Miami. But for many in Africa, the Cuban leader has left a heroic legacy.

The documentary ended with some black and white photos of Fidel Castro’s life from his young days to the time when he was looking old, frail and tired.

“We all took a deep breath and I saw Lita wipe a tear. I wondered whether she was crying for Fidel, or was she simply missing home.

“Piri gave her a tissue and with sympathy in her voice she said, “Muhupenyu, hazvina basa kuti tiri ani. Nguva haisi yedu.(It does not matter in life who we are. Time does not belong to us)”.

Fidel Alejandro Castro, former Prime Minister and president of Cuba, a great historical figure, both loved and also hated by the world, has gone to sleep.

Dr Sekai Nzenza is a writer and cultural critic.
Unity, the Best Tribute
It was with deep sorrow and regret that the Cuban people learned of the passing of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. Granma shares some reactions to the news

Author: National news staff |
November 27, 2016 14:11:35

It was with deep sorrow and regret that the Cuban people learned of the passing of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. Granma shares some reactions to the news. His death was met with tributes and moments of reflection by the Cuban people, who neither want, nor are ready, to say farewell, choosing instead to salute the global leader with a “Hasta siempre, Fidel.”

The fact that a man like Fidel is no longer with us is a difficult reality to bear, stated Artemisa resident and Revolutionary combatant Plácido Núñez, speaking to Granma.

Meanwhile, an emotional Maritsa Leyva who works at the Las Tunas based Nuevo Éxito food processing plant, stated, “Honestly, from the very bottom of my heart I’m telling you, so much pain can’t fit in my chest. To say Fidel, is to say Cuba, brother, the world.”

Lázaro Castro Aguilera, director of the Birán Historic Site and National Monument noted that the death of the Comandante “caused great pain. I had a tight feeling in my chest and went to visit the tomb of Lina, Fidel’s mother. I imagined talking to her, telling her that the great son she gave to the world - and for whom she suffered immensely, realizing how he suffered the vicissitudes of a revolutionary - would no longer be among us.”

He also recalled “the times that Fidel visited and talked about his life in great detail here. It was like I could see him riding up-hill on a horse, like a hunter; I could picture him washing in the river close by, and doing things that kids and adolescents do.”

Despite being deeply affected by the news of Fidel’s death, staff at the farm where the Co­man­dante en Jefe was born will continue to receive visitors that arrive to the establishment over the coming days.

”We must continue researching Fidel, in order to reveal the entirety of his greatness and wisdom, as a way of keeping him alive, to ensure that he always accompanies us,” added López.

According to the director, visitors to Birán are very respectful, and the majority express genuine pain. A book of condolences – which sits next to a photo of Fidel surrounded by flowers – has been opened for visitors to the facility to sign.

”People approach staff at the Birán Historic Site to speak about all that Fidel has done for the people, the importance of respecting his ideas. The majority believe that the best way to honor him is to remain united,” stated Lázaro Castro Aguilera, speaking to Granma.

All Cubans have been deeply affected by the news. Birán resident Pedro Pascual Rodríguez for instance stated, “I feel bad. Fidel has died! The revolutionary with the greatest ability to organize I have ever known. He was able to unite Cuban patriots and lead them to victory. Then he spent his life doing the same around the world.”

Iraida Martínez Duardo, a retired teacher from the province of Las Tunas described Fidel’s death as an irreparable loss, “Above all because even at 90 years of age he still retained the same lucidity and spirit which have always characterized him. Now it’s our duty to continue his work, the Cuban people will never forget this day. I will never forget it.”

Those who remember how Cuba was before the glorious triumph of 1959 know just how much Fidel’s leadership means, stated a visibly emotional Vicenta Calderín, a retiree who lives in the province of Artemisa. “The Comandante offered Cubans a better future, what he did for the people is unparalleled.”

”It was Fidel that led the Revolution and took important steps to eradicate illiteracy, promote health and education. Today will be remembered with sadness,” according to Manuel de Jesús Catalá Balón, Guantánamo resident and combatant of the Rebel Army’s Juan M. Ameijeiras Sixth Column.

For Antonio Marrero Duvergel, Radio Re­belde correspondent in Guantánamo, Fidel has been the greatest statesman in history; an outstanding military strategist; insurmountable politician; leader of the masses; tireless student, with a vast knowledge on matters of science, economics, sports, culture, the environment; an excellent orator… global example of internationalism with an unwavering commitment to the people, the dispossessed; qualities which have seen his work spread across the entire globe, cemented forever among revolutionaries.

Leonardo Aguilar, a 70 year old Guantánamo resident remembers Fidel as the person from whom he has learned the most in his life.

”I was a literacy teacher, and I have participated in every task required bv the Revolution. That’s how I’ve come to define myself over the years. I saw him once when he came to Guantánamo, but only from afar. I would have liked to shake his hand,” noted Aguilar.

Meanwhile, Marrero Duvergel recalled, “I was born in the countryside, and thanks to Fidel and the Revolution I became a journalist. What I am today, I owe to him.”

Joaquín González, a teacher at the Ernesto Che Guevara vocational school in Villa Clara noted, “The Revolution led by Fidel was the same one that provided brain surgery for my daughter in a famous hospital in the capital, and which today pays my wife Nilda a stipend to take care of her. I will never forget this.”

Comments such as these reflect the Cuban people’s eternal gratitude toward the Comandante. His ideas, his motivation to fight and concept of Revolution “Will carry on, in the hands of Army General Raúl Castro, who will have the support and commitment of the entire Cuban people,” stated Eberto Estrada Sao, director of the Las Tunas Provincial Meteorology Institute.

”He will be remembered as a good man, of respect, worthy of these times, an indisputable leader of this nation, of the Americas and the world. Now he will multiply in every Cuban that considers them self to be a worthy continuer of his work.”

Rigoberto Miralles, a retiree from Bayamo, noted that the Comandante’s constant lessons in struggle, tenacity, sacrifice, humanism, solidarity, patriotism “will show us the path to follow to achieve the prosperous society that we Cubans aspire to create, without renouncing the sovereignty woven with the blood of the heroes and martyrs of the homeland.”

”I had the luck of knowing him as a child, when we were students at the Número 15 Rural Mixed School, located close to his childhood home. He didn’t seem like the son of the most prominent landowner in the area, given the way he treated the other students,” commented Pascual Rodríguez, a neighbor from Birán.

Rodríguez also noted, “You immediately realized he was very intelligent, and was ready to do anything. When I think back, I realize that even at that time you could already see the humanist qualities for which he is renowned.”

According to Delia Rivero Tour, a teacher at the Volodia Kindergarten in Las Tunas, “Starting now we must keep his memory alive, remember him.

”I always think about his tenderness toward children with a phrase of his which says “a healthy child deserves everything, a sick one even more.”

These words speak volumes about the man he was,” stated the Kindergarten teacher.

Lorena Infante García, a student at the Inés Luaces Middle School in Camagüey, agrees, noting that “we love him as our most senior leader, for everything that he has done for the happiness and well-being of Cuban children and those worldwide.”

According to Infante, for pioneros (elementary school students), the Comandante has been and will continue to be an example to follow, in the same way as José Martí, Ignacio Agramonte, Antonio Maceo, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara and so many other Cuban heroes and martyrs.”

This means being good, disciplined and committed students, ready to respond to every call made to improve the Revolution, become highly qualified professionals, and above all good people, just like him, always sincere, honest, and concerned about the fate of others, she noted.

“The Cuban youth, for whom he did so much, have lost their Comandante on the physical plane, but will continuously rediscover him by preserving his immense legacy in all aspects: ethical, moral, patriotic. Observing his conduct will be a mirror before which we look at ourselves, to be better and more committed,” stated 23 year old bank employee Lisandra Mar­tínez Acea, from Cienfuegos.

This is a moment to ratify his thought and the principles of the Revolution…His ideas and actions turned our country into an example for the rest of the world, and him into an icon, a source of inspiration, stated Yamilia Almanza a young worker at the Latin American School of Medicine.

Fidel is and will continue to be a guide, a source of inspiration, a catalyst for every revolutionary project, the man of Moncada, the Gran­ma expedition, the Sierra Maestra, the indisputable leader…the eternal Comandante.

No one should think that the death of our Comandante means and end to the Revolution, stated Armando Peña Gar­vey, an employee at Guan­tánamo’s La Primada food processing plant, “on the contrary, now we are going to become even stronger and more united. We’ve got to keep on, and show the world who we Cubans are.”

”Fidel isn’t dead at all,” said Jesús Catalá Balón, combatant from the Rebel Army’s Juan M. Ameijeiras Sixth Column.

”What died was his body, but he’s still alive, because there are millions of people here, above all youths, who are following in his footsteps. Here, and around the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ángel González Rodríguez, reserve forces Lieutenant Colonel based in Santa Clara noted that “As a child I saw the Freedom Caravan pass by, and at some place, before masses of cheering people, Fidel stated that he would like to see this multitude at his burial, because it would mean that he had fulfilled his promise to the people, to whom he dedicated his life. And that’s exactly how it will be.”

His death is a terrible event, but nothing is going to happen here, highlighted literacy campaign volunteer, Leonardo Aguilar. “Raúl is here, and with him the youth and entire country, to keep the flame of the Revolution alive.”
All of Cuba With Fidel
From several of the country's provinces, the Cuban people express their feelings and pay tribute to the eternal leader of the Revolution

Author: Julio Martínez Molina |
Author: Miguel Febles Hernández |
Author: Leidys Maria Labrador Herrera |
Author: Ronald Suárez Rivas |
Author: Jorge Luis Merencio Cautín |
Author: Jesús Jank Curbelo |

November 27, 2016 13:11:38

Armando Benito Sáez, a journalist from the weekly newspaper 5 de Septiembre in Cienfuegos and secretary of his local Party branch: “The loss is irreparable for our people. The leader has gone, the father, the brother, the friend of all Cubans, who taught us how to love and defend the homeland, above all else. He was a navigational chart, a compass, captain of our country’s voyage toward Socialism.

“We Cubans, deeply hurt, will miss him every day, but his enduring example will encourage us to continue on the path, accumulating victories, defending ourselves from the enemy and seeking a better tomorrow for our people and the world.”

Lisandra Martínez Acea, a 23-year-old bank worker: “The Cuban youth, for whom he did so much, have lost their Comandante on the physical plane, but will continuously rediscover him by preserving his immense legacy in all aspects: ethical, moral, patriotic. Observing his conduct will be a mirror before which we look at ourselves, to be better and more committed.

“Fidel is and will be a clarion call, a guide, a sense of faith in victory. He fought against everything bad in this world, including racism. That is why he is so respected, that is why he is loved in this way and it is so important to continue his work within the new generations.”

Consternation and deep pain are words that could be used to describe the expressions on the faces of residents of Las Tunas. The unexpected news was a blow to everyone, and although clearly true, some refused to believe it. Aged ninety, Fidel Castro Ruz, who will go down in history as one of the greatest men born of humanity, had passed away.

Iraida Martínez Duardo, a retired teacher, walks slowly down the street, still trying to process the news that has her distraught. “It's as if I had received a huge impact, and I know it was not just me, it was for all our people, it was for the world. I am sure of that given what Fidel represents, his ideals of struggle, for showing so much solidarity and humanity. He taught us to give everything for other nations and this loss is irreparable, especially because at the age of ninety, he retained the same lucidity and spirit that always distinguished him. Now it is up to us to push ahead with his work, but the people of Cuba will never forget this day. I will never forget it.”

Eberto Estrada Sao, director of the Provincial Institute of Meteorology, received calls from his colleagues very early, sharing the sad news.

“When we heard of the physical disappearance of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, we felt very sad and that feeling was shared both in our workplace and in our homes. This is a very deeply felt loss for the people of Cuba, but his ideas, his reasons for the struggle and his concept of Revolution will continue, in the hands of Army General Raúl Castro, who will have the support and dedication of the entire Cuban people .

“The best tribute we can provide is the constant commitment to the advancement of our society. We must always remember him as a good man, of respect, worthy of these times, the undisputed leader of the Cuban Revolution, America and the world. In a certain way he will now multiply in every Cuban who considers him/herself a worthy follower of his work.”

In the morning of this Saturday, the educators of the Volodia pre-school day care center shared an inexplicable feeling.

Delia Rivero Tour noted, “To hear about the death of Fidel, I felt an unparalleled pain, an immense sadness, because he is an icon, for us and for the world, something very special. I can not find the right words to express what this loss means. I think that from now on, it is up to us to keep him alive, in the hearts of these little ones who did not have the privilege of knowing him as we did. I always remember his sensitivity toward children with a very beautiful phrase of his that goes, ‘a healthy child deserves everything, a sick child deserves more.’ I think those words say a lot about the man Fidel was.”

Her colleague, María Elena Botello Rivero, also expressed her feelings: “I can’t express with words what I felt on hearing the news as it is too big a sentiment. I believe he was a special person in the lives of all Cuban men and women. Few men like him are born in the world and his greatness, his dignity, will be spoken about for centuries. But we know that his ideals and doctrines will never die, as he will be present in our hearts. The figure of Fidel will always be engraved in history.”

For Zulema Hernández Silva, director of the Volodia center, the dawn of this November 26 was a very sad moment. “I think he’s like a kind of father to everyone. About five o'clock in the morning I noted the murmur in the neighborhood and when I heard the news I tried to convince myself that it was a lie. I went over to my husband and told him to turn on the television, because I did not believe the news and when we saw it, it was very hard for us. A few minutes later the CDR organizer came to our door, inconsolable, and I hugged her and said, it’s very hard, but we have to keep going, because his ideals must live on in the present and future generations of Cubans.”

This “energetic and virile” town is today allowed to cry. Not to make injustice tremble, but to say 'forever yours' to its eternal comandante, to tell the giant of Turquino to rest in peace, because the heirs of his work, we will never let him die.

In Guantánamo, 15 year-old, Dalila Mustelier Montero, vice president of the Federation of Secondary Students (FEEM) at Ramón Infante García Middle School: My great-grandfather has talked to me about Fidel a great deal, since I was born. And my whole family has been educated o this basis: this feling of Cuban identity, of being revolutionaries, to leave behind everything you have to defend the homeland. Filde was born into a comfortable family, so he didn't have any need to go out and struggle. But nevertheless, he left it all so that today we can study free of charge, have doctors… He dreamed, and he struggled for what we have today.

Leonardo Aguilar, a retired transportation worker, gave his opinion in Guantánamo's José Martí Park: I saw Fidel once when he came to Guantánamo, from a distance. I would have liked to shake his hand. His death is a transcendental event, but nothing is going to happen here. Raúl is still here, and later someone else will come along, and another, and another, so that the Revolution continues.
The Longest Night…
On November 25, and forever more, will we mourn the loss of Fidel Castro Ruz, a brave, worthy and patriotic man; a volcano of ideas

Lisandra Fariñas Acosta |
November 29, 2016 10:11:21

November 25, 10:29pm, the longest night. It’s a dark time for Cuba and the world. Fidel has died.

They tried to kill him over 600 times, without success, because men like Fidel can’t be killed. They die when their time comes, trying to make a quiet exit.

There’s silence even amid the deafening noise of the streets. An unparalleled sadness has suddenly befallen Cuba. “The last revolutionary has died,” reads the headline of some large media outlet, which has been receiving hits every second since the fated hour.

Yes, a man has died, but not the Revolution. If there was one thing Fidel was sure of, it was that he would begin to weave the Revolution with his own two hands, and teach many others to do the same.

There was no other alternative for the man who “despite all the sorrows, despite external aggression and internal despotism," struggled until the very last breath of his 90 years because “this suffering, but obstinately joyful island,” makes “Latin American society more just.”

To alleviate the bitterness of his death Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, reminds us, "His enemies fail to mention that this great feat was the result of the sacrifice of his people, and also the work of the stubborn will and antiquated sense of honor of a certain gentleman who always supported the underdog, like that famous colleague of his, from the fields of Castilla.”

You’re awake, the news took you by surprise and now you can’t sleep. You’re not the only one. Even before the Cuban government announce the official nine-day period of remembrance, you are already mourning his loss in a state of mute impotence and uncertainty. You and millions of other Cubans, and people both in and beyond the island who love Cuba, which Fidel placed on the global geopolitical map. He put and kept us there, and now leaves us the mission to remain there, by the force of his example.

I log on to social media sites. News of “his death” is trending, spreading, reactions coming from inside and outside of the country.

I speak to Haiti, with the Cuban doctors who have, and are currently serving there. With members of that brigade of hope he created; the Henry Reeve medical contingent, the work of his liberating thought, as well as those of the island’s permanent medical unit based in the southern community of Anse-d'Hainault, severely affected by Hurricane Matthew, who ratified before “Cuba and the world” their “firm and non-negotiable commitment to the poor of the world and humanity.”

This is the best way to “bring his ideals to life, as the army of white coats. Today, all revolutionaries fortunate enough to have experienced the example and leadership, that was, and always will be, the undefeated Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, a brave, worthy and patriotic man, mourn the physical passing of a volcano of ideas, an eternal fortress of dignity, unwavering in the face of any battle,” noted Cuban medical professionals in a statement issued in the early hours of November 26 from the sister nation about which Fidel so often spoke, calling on humanity to unite efforts to support the country.

In one of his reflections written six years ago following the 7.3 magnitude earthquake which struck Haiti, Fidel noted, ”Many people have been deeply moved by the tragedy, especially regular, unassuming people. But perhaps few will stop to think about why Haiti is a poor country. I can’t help but express the view that now is the time to look for real, genuine solutions for this sister nation,” adding, “We feel a healthy sense of pride for the cooperative efforts which Cuban doctors and young Haitian medical students trained in Cuba are offering to their Haitian brothers at this tragic time.”

They are still there, Comandante, solving problems. “Hasta la Victoria Siempre.” Helping, saving lives, in this vital “show of humanitarian spirit” you asked for.

The word pain is repeated in conversations. It seems like a cursed, omnipresent expression, and it is.

“But we will find a way to pick ourselves up again, just like he showed us. And we will be faithful defenders of his ideas, and continue struggling for our freedom and our socialism,” says 44 year old Hygiene and Epidemiology graduate Fabián Pérez Hernández from Pinar de Rio, who speaking from Haiti knows that thinking now of Cuba is the best way to think of Fidel.

Pain. “A test of our resilience. A sad moment all the more as we are far from our families,” states Nevis González Calderín, a young doctor from Pinar del Rio. "Doubly painful," says Dr. Alexis Díaz Ortega, head of Cuba’s Henry Reeve medical brigade, “As we are far from our homeland and immersed in a poor country where people suffer from hunger, and that he struggled so greatly for. We can proudly say: Thank you, Fidel, thank you, Cuban Revolution! For not leaving children with hunger and malnutrition and without hospitals.

“Because everything in Haiti reminds of us Fidel. Because thanks to him children in Cuba don't go barefoot or hungry. We were here during Hurricane Matthew and many of us thought: if this were Cuba, Fidel and Raúl would be here with us. Thanks to their example of altruism and internationalism we are helping these people in need,” writes Dr. Dariana Dayamí Velázquez, a member of Cuba’s permanent medical brigade in Haiti.

Jorge Armando Delgado González, a 59 year old epidemiologist from Matanzas, notes that the death of the Comandante is a “hard blow, but even more so for the generation that was born in the 50s. It was he that guided and taught us to walk from the very beginning of the Revolutionary process. We were able to become the professionals we are today thanks to him. We owe it all to him.”

Words fail David Goles Machado, a hygiene and epidemiology graduate from Villa Clara. “We have lost a brother, a father, the greatest!”

I close the chat box, I re-open it. I see photos of our doctors healing bodies and souls in the poorest country in the Americas. I continue looking and among images of the giant, appear some in which he is photographed with Chávez, and others of the lands that he loved. Next I read that in Venezuela the posthumous tribute to Fidel will be held at the Cuartel de la Montaña. The perfect place, where Chavez' remains rest.

Paraphrasing the song “El regreso de un amigo” (A friend’s return) dedicated to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez by Cuban trova singer Raúl Torres’, there’s another unsaid farewell to our friend Fidel. Just like the song, words begin to freeze during a long night and lingering morning. But “all his friends / have their souls embroidered / there’s no last farewell / or final ashes.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Fidel isn’t gone, he simply stroked his bearded and set off, just like he did 60 years ago from Tuxpan, for a moment into immortality, from where he will return, to tell us everything.
Flint Family Says Navy is Retaliating for Speaking Out About Water Crisis
By Ellie Kaufman and Sara Ganim, CNN
12:43 AM ET, Wed November 30, 2016

Story highlights

17-year Navy veteran claims mistreatment at work due to his wife's role in the Flint water crisis
Walters' 5-year-old twin boys are suffering from lead poisoning

(CNN)Lee Anne Walters and her family were the first in Flint, Michigan, to discover that there were astronomically high levels of lead in the water and alert the Environmental Protection Agency. But the family now says her criticism and advocacy during the water crisis has been met with workplace retaliation and harassment against her husband, a sailor with the US Navy.

"We're still recovering from Flint. We never thought we'd be in this position again," Walters said, explaining that she is afraid her husband is in danger of losing his job. "We are afraid now for our livelihoods."

Dennis Walters, a 17-year Navy veteran, has filed a complaint claiming mistreatment at work due to his wife's role in the Flint water crisis.

They learned the truth about their water a year ago. This is Flint now.

In a complaint filed last week, Dennis Walters claims that he has been repeatedly mistreated at the Sewells Point Police Precinct, which is part of Naval Station Norfolk, because his wife has been so outspoken. He claims that the pattern of harassment began in March after she testified in Congress.

"Since I testified at the state Senate hearing, things got progressively worse," Lee Anne Walters said.

"They threatened to force him into a hardship discharge if he didn't get me under control."

A "hostile work environment"

In his suit, Dennis Walters claims that he has been "subjected to a systematically hostile work environment" in which he was made to work unreasonably long hours without breaks and was denied training opportunities, according to court documents. He claims the stressful work environment has resulted in physical symptoms including vomiting and nausea while on duty. Two senior officers, Chief Petty Officer Wood and Senior Chief Kubaki, made Walters attend an unspecified type of counseling after he complained of these symptoms, the court documents state. His command also threatened to subject him to a "period of involuntary commitment for a psychiatric evaluation."

Lee Anne Walters says the family has been careful to respect protocol and keep her husband out of the advocacy efforts, but it has not made a difference. She says her criticism of the EPA and the slow response to the water crisis in Flint has caused her husband problems at work.

"When we started this, my husband was given very clear-cut guidelines on how he could participate," she said. "We were told his name couldn't be used, he couldn't do interviews, and we have followed the rules. So to turn around and be let down once again by the government, it's not OK." She did not say who gave them these guidelines.

First to notice a problem

More than a year and a half ago Lee Anne Walters first noticed water with an orange tint coming out of the tap in her Flint, Michigan, home and rashes on her twin boys. Doctors confirmed one of the boys was showing signs of stunted growth. They were living in Flint at the time because Dennis was stationed there.

Walters sent a sample of her water to the EPA, the federal agency that regulates drinking water, expecting it to take care of the problem.

It took 11 months from when an EPA official first expressed concern over high lead levels in Walters' home before the EPA issued an emergency order in Flint. The lead levels in Walters' home were twice the level considered to be toxic waste. Both of her sons were diagnosed with lead poisoning, according to court documents.

Two years later, now living in Virginia where Dennis is stationed, the Walters family is still dealing with the effects of the crisis. Both boys, now 5, suffer from health issues, and Lee Anne Walters has continued bringing attention to the issue, driving back to Michigan every two weeks.

She testified in Congress about their experiences in Flint and made a presentation at a House Oversight Committee hearing in early 2016.

When Dennis Walters asked for time off to attend the public hearing in March, he was told that he would need to take personal leave to attend and that his appearance at the hearing "could be demeaning to the EPA," according to court documents.

He also claims that he's been subjected to public and private humiliation at work, including many "derogatory comments" about his wife and her involvement in the crisis, according to court documents.

We love to hear from our audience. Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter and Facebook for the latest health news and let us know what we're missing.

"They were demeaning me on a daily basis to my husband, that my job as a military wife is not to be a crusader," Lee Anne Walters said. According to court documents, he was "effectively demoted, and reduced to administrative details that had the effect of completely removing him from any leadership role within the command."

Dennis Walters is requesting a transfer to another unit within the Navy.

The Navy has not responded to a request for comment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DPRK Sets Period of Mourning for Fidel Castro 
Pyongyang, November 28 (KCNA) -- The DPRK decided to set a three-day mourning period from Nov. 28 to 30 and raise flags at half-mast at buildings of important institutions and fixed places to mourn over the death of Fidel Castro Ruz.

The Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK and the DPRK Cabinet issued a joint decision in this regard on Nov. 27.

DPRK Party and State Delegation Leaves for Cuba

Pyongyang, November 28 (KCNA) -- A DPRK party and state delegation led by Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee, left here for Havana Monday to express condolences over the death of Fidel Castro Ruz, supreme leader of the Cuban revolution.

The delegation includes Kim Yong Su, department director of the C.C., WPK, So Hong Chan, first vice-minister of the People's Armed Forces, Ryu Myong Son, vice department director of the C.C., WPK, and Sin Hong Chol, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs.
Kim Jong Un Visits Cuban Embassy to Express Condolences Over Demise of Fidel Castro Ruz
Pyongyang, November 29 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, visited the Cuban embassy here on Monday to express deep condolences over the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz, supreme leader of the Cuban revolution.
He was accompanied by Hwang Pyong So, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the Workers' Party of Korea, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, and Kim Kye Gwan, first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs.

Laid there was a wreath sent by him over the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz.

He paid silent tribute to Fidel Castro Ruz in memory of him together with officials accompanying him.

He made an entry in the mourner's book as follows:

"Though the outstanding leader passed away, his name and feats will always be remembered by all of us. We feel pain of the loss of the great Comrade, the great comrade-in-arms. Kim Jong Un."

He expressed deep condolences to Cuban Ambassador to the DPRK Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo and staff members of his embassy and said words of consolation to them.

Upon hearing the news of the sudden demise of Fidel Castro Ruz, the Korean people are overwhelmed with profound sorrow, he said, adding that the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz is a great loss for the parties, governments and peoples of the two countries.

Saying that though Fidel Castro Ruz passed away, his noble feats will shine forever in the hearts of the peoples of the two countries and progressive mankind, he expressed belief that the revolutionary Cuban people would overcome the grief over the loss of their distinguished leader and certainly build a prospering ideal society of the people and win the victory of the socialist cause under the wise guidance of Raul Castro Ruz, true to the lifetime intention of Fidel Castro Ruz.

The Cuban ambassador expressed deep thanks to Kim Jong Un for visiting the Cuban embassy to share the sorrow over the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz with the Cuban embassy staff members.
President Off to Cuba for Fidel Castro’s Burial
November 29, 2016
Herald Reporter

President Mugabe left the country yesterday for Havana, Cuba, to attend the burial of that country’s founding President Fidel Castro Ruz who died last Friday at the age of 90.

President Mugabe, who was seen off at Harare International Airport by his two deputies Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabinet ministers, services chiefs and senior Government officials, was accompanied by Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, among other officials.

VP Mphoko is the Acting President.

President Mugabe joins other Heads of State and Government attending the burial of a man who spent decades fighting more than 10 US administrations’ economic embargo on the Caribbean island.

Cde Fidel, a revered guerilla leader, together with Che Guevara and others led the revolution that saw the overthrow of the Batista regime in 1959 and ruled Cuba for five decades.

He died almost 10 years after stepping down from power due to poor health and after having ceded power to defence minister Raul Castro Ruz, his brother.

The late Cuban leader was admired by many African and developing countries the world over as they saw him as a revolutionary who stood up against the US that bullied and vilified poor countries.

Cde Fidel’s body was cremated on Saturday in line with his wishes: “According to the will expressed by comrade Fidel, his body will be cremated in the early hours” of November 26, 2016, said President Raul.

The government declared a nine-day period of mourning.

His cremated ashes will be laid to rest at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba on December 4.

Reports say the Cuban Government invited people to Havana’s Revolution Square for a two-day ceremony with a thunderous cannon salute that could be heard throughout much of the capital.

The world is indeed mourning the death of Cde Fidel, a revolutionary par excellence.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Saturday declared eight days of national mourning in honour of one of the 20th century’s iconic figure.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also declared three days of mourning and said it would keep flags at half-mast to honour Cde Fidel, its state news agency KCNA said.

In Japan, Kyodo said a senior lawmaker would head to Cuba in lieu of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Namibia’s Fond Memories of Castro, Cubans
November 29, 2016

WINDHOEK. – Namibians adore the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro where a street was named after him in the capital Windhoek. The news of Castro’s death last Friday was received with profound sadness and deep grief, the ruling party Swapo secretary for information Helmut Angula said in a statement Saturday.“During the difficult times of our struggle for independence, Commandant Fidel Castro provided our people with hope, inspiration and impeccable leadership,” Angula said.

To millions, Angula said, Castro was more than just a man but a symbol of the struggle for freedom, justice, equality and human dignity.

“His selfless sacrifice inspired revolutionaries in all corners of the world to fight relentlessly for justice, freedom and human dignity. He leaves us with a wealth of legacy and great vision to strive for self-reliance and well-being for the people of our country,” he further said.

President Hage Geingob, in his condolence message Saturday, also described Castro as a father, a brother, an uncle and a friend.

“Our own victories and losses in the struggle for our independence against apartheid South Africa, are inextricably linked to the international solidarity of the Cuban people through diplomatic, military, and people to people interface,” he said.

Geingob also recalled how in May 1978, South African Defence Forces attacked defenceless Namibian women and children in exile at a Swapo camp at Cassinga, Angola.

“Again, it was the gallant Cuban forces who rushed to our rescue. Cuban soldiers lost their lives in this process due to land mines planted by our enemies.

‘‘It’s in the same year, Fidel offered education to more than 3 000 Namibian children who survived the Cassinga attack,” he said.

“In short, the unwavering commitment of Fidel to our freedom led to the destruction of apartheid in Namibia. True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no other interest other than the liberation of the oppressed,” he said.

“He had no interest in the natural resources of a free Namibia as his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they had to do was return the remains of their fallen comrades,” said Geingob.

Theo Ben-Gurirab, who served as Swapo representative to the United Nations, said Castro’s boldness expedited Namibia’s independence struggle.

“If it were not for Cuba, Southern Africa could have been a very different region right now,” Gurirab said.

Geingob said on Sunday that he will be accompanied by two former Namibian presidents, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, as well as the ruling party Swapo’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba to Cuba for Castro’s memorial service in Havana.

Meanwhile, Angolans remembered Fidel Castro on Saturday, some calling him the “son of Africa”, a day after the revolutionary Cuban leader passed away. The leader of Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Juliao Mateus Paulo “Dino Matross” said Castro was like Mandela.

“In the world, from time to time, there will be individuals like this who appear, be it in science or politics. These individuals are like our Mandela . . . and when they leave us, they leave us with a gap, emptiness and longing,” he added.

A towering figure of the 20th century and Cold War icon, Castro built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied US efforts to topple him.

In another development, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma expressed deep sadness and extended her condolences to the Castro family, the people of Cuba and the progressive forces of the world upon having received the news of the passing of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

- Xinhua/Africa Press/HR.
Iran Says It Won’t Cut Oil Production as Talks Remain Deadlocked
 Golnar Motevalli, Grant Smith, and Javier Blas

November 29, 2016 — 10:27 AM EST

Iran’s Zanganeh insists country won’t curb oil production
Benchmark Brent crude slides as much as 4.4% in London

An OPEC deal to curtail oil production appeared in jeopardy as Iran said it won’t make cuts while Saudi Arabia insisted Tehran must be willing to play a meaningful role in any agreement.

Ministers gathering in Vienna before Wednesday’s crucial OPEC meeting are attempting to resolve differences obstructing an accord. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh laid out his country’s position following talks with his Algerian and Venezuelan counterparts. Benchmark Brent crude dropped as much as 4.4 percent in London.

With little time left before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets to finalize the first production curbs in eight years, resistance from Iran -- and from neighboring Iraq -- has made the foundations for a deal look increasingly shaky. Top producer Saudi Arabia is ready to reject an accord unless all members, bar Libya and Nigeria, participate, people with knowledge of the kingdom’s position said earlier.

“I don’t know” if there will be an agreement, Indonesian Energy Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters in Vienna. “The feeling today is mixed."

An OPEC proposal initially agreed in Algiers in September would see producers trim output by about 1.2 million barrels a day from October levels. Iran has sought special treatment since it’s ramping up output following years of crippling sanctions.

Iran has suggested it freezes production at 3.975 million barrels a day, or about 200,000 barrels a day above current output, two OPEC delegates said Monday. Saudi Arabia countered with a proposal for Iran to cap output at 3.707 million. Algeria, acting as a go-between, offered an alternative that would see Iran freeze at 3.795 million, the delegates said.

Crude prices remain at half their level of mid-2014 as global supply continues to swamp demand. Brent traded at $46.48 a barrel, down 3.7 percent, at 3:14 p.m. in London on Tuesday.

Fighting for Barrels

At negotiations in Vienna, countries have fought to the very last barrel.

While Iraq finally appeared to accept the OPEC supply estimates known as “secondary sources” that would determine the basis for cuts, it was still insisting it should be allowed to freeze at the October level of 4.6 million barrels a day, according to one delegate. When applied to Iraq’s own output estimate of 4.8 million barrels a day, the proposal for OPEC members to make an average cut of 4 to 5 percent would take production to the roughly the same level.

Algeria proposed Iraq cut production by 240,000 barrels a day from the October secondary-sources level, two delegates said.

Saudi Arabia won’t insist that Iraq and Iran make the same size reduction as other OPEC members and hasn’t decided from which production level they’ll be asked to cut, according to the people familiar with the situation.

Iraq had previously demanded an exemption from a supply deal, citing the urgency of its offensive against Islamic State.

No Deal?

On Sunday, Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih for the first time floated the possibility of leaving Vienna without an agreement. It was unclear whether the minister changed his mind about the deal’s merits, or was trying to boost his negotiating position with Iran and Iraq.

As OPEC tries to resolve its own differences, the group is also asking other big producers including Russia to reduce output by as much as 600,000 barrels a day. The Kremlin so far has resisted requests that it join the cut, offering instead to freeze production at current levels.

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday that he has no plans to visit Vienna on Wednesday, but that Russia is ready to talk if the group reaches an internal consensus.
U.S. Banks Report Record Profit in Third Quarter
Banks rank in huge profits, cities like Detroit remain devastated.
Institutions’ profits soared and expenses moderated

The U.S.’s commercial banks and savings institutions reported a 13% rise in net income in the third quarter, the FDIC said. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wall Street Journal
Nov. 29, 2016 10:49 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The nation’s commercial banks and savings institutions reported a 13% rise in net income in the third quarter, hitting a record as institutions’ profits soared and expenses moderated.

Net income at the 5,980 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. rose $5.2 billion, to $45.6 billion, in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier, according to data released Tuesday by the FDIC.

“The banking industry reported another positive quarter,” said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg. “Revenue and net income were up from a year ago, loan balances increased, asset quality improved, and the number of unprofitable and ‘problem banks’ continued to fall.”

The rise in net income was due in part to a $10 billion increase in net interest income, up 9.2% from a year earlier, and a $1.2 billion gain in noninterest income, a 1.9% increase as trading revenue improved at large banks. One-time accounting and expense items at three institutions also had an impact on the growth of income, the agency said.

Still, Mr. Gruenberg cautioned banks continue to operate in a “challenging environment.” Low interest rates for an extended period have led some institutions to reach for yield, increasing their exposures to interest rate risk, liquidity risk, and credit risk, he said.

“These challenges will only intensify as interest rates normalize,” said Mr. Gruenberg. “Banks must manage risks prudently to ensure that growth is on a long-run, sustainable path.”

During the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, more than half of banks reported year-over-year growth and less than 5% of banks said they were unprofitable. It was the lowest percentage of unprofitable banks since the third quarter of 1997.

Community banks, which account for 5,521 of the insured institutions, in particular reported a positive quarter with their net income rising $593 million, or 11.8% from the 2015 period.

Community banks’ net operating revenue totaled $23 billion, up 8.5% from a year earlier. Loan growth was led by commercial real estate, residential mortgages and commercial and industrial loans.

“Community banks, which account for 43% of the industry’s small loans to businesses, continued to grow their small business loans at a faster pace than the rest of the industry,” said Mr. Gruenberg.

The number of financial institutions on the FDIC’s “problem list” shrank to 132 from 147 the year before, the fewest number of institutions since the third quarter of 2008. There were two bank failures in the latest quarter.

The federal fund that protects consumers’ U.S. bank deposits grew $2.8 billion during the third quarter to $80.7 billion. Its insurance fund reserve ratio rose to 1.18% of the institutions’ estimated insured deposits.

Write to Donna Borak at
Lavrov: Russia Ready to Contribute to Promotion of Political Process in Libya
November 29, 2016

Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Moscow is ready to contribute to the promotion of political process to settle the Libyan crisis.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a meeting with Libyan National Army General Khalifa Haftar, who arrived in Moscow for an official visit on Sunday.

“The Russian side stressed the importance of the continuation of an inclusive inter-Libyan dialogue, based on the imperative of ensuring unity of the country, preserving sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya. The readiness of Moscow to contribute to the successful promotion of political process in liaising with leaders of various Libyan political forces was confirmed,” the ministry statement read.

According to the statement, the meeting mainly focused on the development of the military-political situation in Libya. This is the second trip of Haftar to Russia since June when he met with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Terrorists of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group gained a foothold in Libya in the turmoil following the 2011 ouster of the country’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Source: Sputnik
Libya’s Hollow Victory Over the Islamic State
Libyans are about to win a long-awaited victory over the Islamic State. So why does no one feel like celebrating?

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 - 2:40 PM

Little noticed by the outside world, Libyans have almost succeeded in achieving a long-awaited victory over the Islamic State. For months, bolstered by air strikes from their international allies, local militias have been tightening a ring around IS forces in the coastal city of Sirte. The jihadis have been corralled into an area of less than one square kilometer. The battle is all but won.

You’d think that Libyans and their friends in the international community would be thrilled. Actually, though, there’s little sense of triumph to be detected anywhere.

The reason is simple: Victory in Sirte, however welcome, will have little positive effect on the country’s power vacuum.Victory in Sirte, however welcome, will have little positive effect on the country’s power vacuum. When the Islamic State first conquered the city in June 2015, many observers hoped that the threat would serve as a rallying point for Libya’s myriad warring factions. The need to strike a resounding blow against the Islamic State, it was thought, would finally provide the catalyst for unity.

It didn’t work out that way. Instead, Libya’s competing power centers — from Field-Marshall Haftar and his government in the East to its rival internationally-backed government in Tripoli to the country’s extremist Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Gheriani — have tried to exploit the threat of the Islamic State to advance their own agendas. Each group knew full well that merely appearing to engage the Islamic State would garner international support and strengthen its claims to legitimacy. So far, none have proved willing to redeploy serious resources and manpower to combat a threat they perceive as secondary to their domestic opponents.

Meanwhile, Western powers were so keen to engage the target that they neglected to consider their own-long term interests in Libya as embodied by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), a special initiative established by the UN Security Council. The aim of UNSMIL was to integrate various Western interests into a cohesive policy to fight terrorism and human trafficking while persuading Libyan politicians to back the restoration of a truly national government. Paradoxically, though, some of the countries that originally backed UNSMIL — such as France and the United States — ended up creating obstacles to its work. Either in response to the UN’s lack of results or from a sense that it hasn’t done enough to protect their interests, they have teamed up with individual Libyan armed groups to pursue isolated counter-terrorism goals such as assassinating terrorist leaders. By forming brief alliances of convenience with people like Haftar and others, they empower them to continue operating outside of the UN’s attempts at stabilization and unification, seriously undermining its work by removing a major incentive to cooperate.

Given these circumstances, it’s a miracle that Sirte’s liberation is at hand.Given these circumstances, it’s a miracle that Sirte’s liberation is at hand. The Western powers and their Libyan allies would be much better off had they achieved this goal as the result of a comprehensive, multilateral, carefully thought-out policy. Instead the operation has been an entirely ad-hoc affair. It was launched earlier this year by an alliance of militias who felt threatened by Islamic State’s gradual encroachments on their territory. Their strategy of encircling the city and gradually tightening the noose around the Islamic State positions was initially successful, but quickly racked up heavy casualties and ground to a halt. It took months before the government could organize the U.S. air-strikes, Italian medical and humanitarian assistance, and British front-line support which have made victory possible.

Moreover, though the operation now appears to be on the brink of success, it’s still too early to celebrate. While the anti-Islamic State forces may have breached the jihadis’ bastion, the environment that spawned the threat in the first place persists. The state is powerless, the economy is dysfunctional, and the country is plagued by violence and instability, making Libya a breeding ground for numerous other threats to itself, its neighbors, and the surrounding region.

The loss of its Sirte headquarters won’t even mean the eradication of the Islamic State from Libya. The jihadis maintain a number of cells across the country, and have attempted to smuggle fighters out of Sirte throughout the battle so that they can return to fight another day. If the Islamic State does indeed lose Sirte, it is likely to return to a more traditional style of terrorism by targeting population centers, police academies, and militia bases with suicide attacks. The chaos will allow the Islamic State to sow discord and seek alliances with local or regional jihadist groups until it once again regains the ability to capture territory.

But it’s not just terrorists who benefit from the general anarchy. So, too, do those who make a living in Libya’s shadow economy. The country has a long-established smuggling industry, which until recently was focused on exporting heavily subsidized domestic goods, such as gasoline and sugar, to neighboring countries. But since the traditional economy remains paralyzed, human trafficking and arms trading have expanded dramatically. Tribes, militias, and criminal groups are herding hundreds of thousands of refugees through the Libyan Desert, launching them on dangerous trips across the Mediterranean to Europe. Meanwhile, weapons from the Qaddafi regime’s arms depots have made their way across North Africa, cropping up in conflicts from Mali to Syria.

A civil war like Libya’s, where no side can gain a decisive advantage, should eventually grind to a halt as the supply of money, armaments, and young men willing to fight dries up. In Libya, however, external powers such as the United Arab Emirates and Turkey continue to fund and arm their favored factions, thus artificially prolonging the turmoil. The countries of the West are the only external forces still capable of exerting a positive influence. But they are squandering their leverage as they continue to approach Libya policy in a unilateral and piecemeal fashion, as dramatized by their handling of the conflict around Sirte.

Sirte’s liberation, and the emancipation of its 80,000 inhabitants from Islamic State rule, is undoubtedly a welcome development in a land where positive news is in short supply. But we should guard against premature euphoria. Even as the battle has raged on in Sirte, Libya’s factions have been preparing for what they see as the truly decisive battle in the war to claim control over the country.Libya’s factions have been preparing for what they see as the truly decisive battle in the war to claim control over the country. In the near future, we may see an evolution of the civil war from a constellation of local conflicts to an all-out war for control between two alliances that have heavy artillery and airpower at their disposal.

To contain this threat, the international community must rally around the UNSMIL and work toward a genuine power-sharing agreement. On a domestic level this means credible engagement with community and tribal leaders, militia commanders, faction leaders, and key institutions such as the Central Bank and the National Oil Company. On an international level, this means enforcing the arms blockade and ensuring that the UN is the sole channel for international diplomacy with Libya. This requires the political will to reconcile the competing interests of Russia, individual EU states, the U.S., and regional powers such as Egypt, Qatar, the UAE, and Turkey. Unless the international community can create and maintain a comprehensive policy for returning stability to Libya, the liberation of Sirte risks becoming little more than a blip in the country’s descent into endless civil war.