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Daily Archives: March 20, 2017

… Guard said it intercepted 65 Cubans trying to reach Florida or … normalization of relations with Cuba. The change means Cubans are no longer … Arcos, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International … focused in part on getting Havana to agree to take back … Continue reading

Los jóvenes concursantes Jara y Osmani, la pareja número ocho de Bailando en Cuba, resultaron los triunfadores del programa que durante cada domingo logró convocó a los seguidores de cada concursante así como a los televidentes amantes de los bailables.

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El régimen comunicó este lunes a Eduardo Cardet, coordinador nacional del Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL), una sentencia de tres años de privación de libertad, dictada por el tribunal que le juzgó el pasado día 3 de marzo en Gibara, Holguín, recoge la página web de la organización opositora.

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El dúo de hip-hop noruego Madcon y los colombianos Systema Solar son los cabezas de cartel del festival internacional Havana World Music, que se celebrará en la capital cubana entre … Click to Continue » Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, 17 March 2017 — As part of the restoration work of the National Capitol, seven palms were planted at the beginning of last year on the Paseo del Prado median facing the famous Havana building. The section that goes from Fraternity Park to near Neptune Street was then decked out with the national … Continue reading "Unlucky Palm Trees / 14ymedio Marcelo Hernandez" Continue reading

El partido venezolano Primero Justicia (PJ) planea postular al dos veces candidato a la Presidencia, Henrique Capriles, en unas eventuales elecciones primarias presidenciales, informó hoy el coordinador de dicha organización política, el diputado opositor Julio Borges, reportó EFE.

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… , 5:07 pm MIAMI (AP) — Cubans are still making risky sea … Guard says it intercepted 65 Cubans trying to reach Florida or … normalization of relations with Cuba. The change means Cubans are no longer … Continue reading

El secretario general de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), Luis Almagro, dijo este lunes que "de una dictadura se sale por elecciones" y por eso exige al Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro que convoque a la mayor brevedad comicios generales, libres y con observación internacional, reportó EFE.

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Este jueves será lanzado a la venta el testimonio del inglés Stephen Purvis Continue reading
Upset by the 18th Havana Film Festival New York’s ( … it in competition for the Havana Star Prize.” In December, though … in Havana after it was rejected by fest backer ICAIC, Cuba’s … eye on him. Lechuga’s Cuban-Colombian-French co-production recently won both Best … Continue reading
En el tercer capítulo de la serie 'Vamos por ti y por tu familia' Continue reading

#Otro18 presentó recientemente dos documentos de cara a las próximas elecciones que se realizarán en la Isla a los que tuvo acceso DIARIO DE CUBA. En estos se establecen una "Hoja de Ruta" y una "Guía de Actitud" de los candidatos que representarán a la Plataforma Ciudadana en el proceso.

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Luz Escobar

Sin sorpresas, así terminó la primera temporada del certamen Bailando en Cuba que este domingo mantuvo a miles de cubanos pegados al televisor. La pareja número ocho, conformada por Jara y Osmani, dominó con facilidad la prueba final y dejó al campo a los otros finalistas.

Desde el inicio, los dos jóvenes mostraron una gran comunicación sobre el escenario, algo que el público supo valorar y el jurado evaluar positivamente. Sus competidores más cercanos, los duetos compuestos por Jessica/ Carlos y Delany/ Ranger, no pudieron superarlos en el ritmo ni en la naturalidad de los pasillos.

Durante la gran final los concursantes interpretaron un popurrí de ritmos nacionales, una pieza de su elección y, otra, a manera de improvisación final. La pareja ganadora conmovió con su interpretación del tema Cuba, isla bella, del grupo Orishas y dominó con soltura la escena.

El jurado, conformado por Lizt Alfonso, Susana Pous y Santiago Alfonso, determinó que  Jara y Osmani eran los vencedores por su “engranaje y empatía” además de deleitar con “una ejecución muy sincronizada”, segura y precisa.[[QUOTE:El jurado, conformado por Lizt Alfonso, Susana Pous y Santiago Alfonso, determinó que Jara y Osmani eran los vencedores por su “engranaje y empatía”]]En el dictamen final, los jueces valoraron “la limpieza técnica a la hora de la ejecución” que calificaron de “impactante”. Destacaron también que la importancia que le dieron a detalles como “la mirada” durante la interpretación.

La pareja ganadora recibió también una beca de un trimestre de duración en la prestigiosa academia MAS Music Arts & Show, con sede en la ciudad de Milán, Italia. El plato fuerte de los premios

En el país europeo Jara y Osmani recibirán “una intensa preparación en todas las manifestaciones de las artes escénicas para conseguir dominar los códigos y el lenguaje del espectáculo”.

Las otras dos parejas finalistas tendrán la posibilidad de recibir clases durante tres meses en las compañías de los los miembros del jurado. Jessica y Carlos participarán el próximo mes de septiembre en la octava edición del evento internacional Salsa Casino Mayan Congress, en la ciudad de Cancún, México; mientras que Delany y Ranger representarán a Cuba en la ciudad de Montreal Canadá durante el Festival Internacional Weekends du Monde.

Durante diez semanas el jurado eliminó parejas hasta quedar las tres finalistas que brillaron ayer en el Teatro Astral. En la gala también se dio a conocer que la pareja número 12, que forman Ángela y Duvel, se llevó el premio de la popularidad junto a la compañía Habana Compás Dance.

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… Jorge Martin presents a gay, Cuban dissident writer drinking poison to … his childhood home in Holguin, Cuba. The rumba beat continues as … keys of his typewriter in Havana. Later, while evading the state … hint at a beach outside Havana. The opera is mostly melodic … Continue reading
… bilingual pot bellied pig and Cuban rafter iguana3 8:48 Lots … Continue reading
Desde 'convertir las derrotas en victorias', hasta fabricar causas a opositores Continue reading
… academy in Milan, Italy. (Photo: Cuban TV website)   The couple made … first season of Bailando en Cuba reality show, space that for … , and to Havana Compas Dance Company. Bailando en Cuba is the latest … like its predecessor, Sonando en Cuba, has successfully brought back to … Continue reading
El director general adjunto del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica (OIEA), el chino Dazhu Yang, consideró este lunes durante una visita oficial a Cuba que la isla está “fuertemente establecida” … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Ottawa, March 18 (RHC/Wires) – Canada has detained more migrants from Mexico in the first three months of 2017 than they have annually in each of the past three years. A report by Reuters says the Canadian Border Services arrested and detained 444 … Continue reading
Washington, March 18 (RHC-Xinhua) -- The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief notice saying it would appeal a Maryland federal judge's ruling that halted a key portion of President Donald Trump's revised immigration order, which was set to take … Continue reading
Havana, March 18 (RHC/ACN) The President of the Cuban Institute … that US commercial flights to Cuba continue as expected. In a … to Havana and JetBlue with 4 daily flights to different Cuban airports … Cuba due to low demand, as Silver Airways and Frontier. The CubanContinue reading
La Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, (Etecsa), puso en vigor este lunes una nueva promoción llamada Plan Amigos que rebaja la tarifa por llamadas desde teléfonos celulares de 35 centavos … Click to Continue » Continue reading

Las condiciones excepcionales que les permitían a los cubanos obtener un estatus legal casi inmediato en Estados Unidos ya no existen, pero aun así decenas continúan arriesgándose a llegar por mar hasta Florida, de acuerdo con datos que recoge un reporte de la AP.

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El Proyecto Humanitario Juan Pablo ll trabaja en Baracoa, Guantánamo, para intentar aliviar cada mes la situación de discapacitados, enfermos y familias pobres, cuyas condiciones de vida empeoraron tras el paso por el municipio del huracán Matthew en octubre de 2016.

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El director general adjunto y jefe del Departamento de Cooperación Técnica del Organismo Internacional de la Energía Atómica (OIEA), Dazhu Yang, alabó este lunes en La Habana el trabajo que desarrolla el Gobierno cubano con la tecnología nuclear, según recoge la oficial Prensa Latina.

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La Asociación Nacional de Educadores Cubanoamericanos (NACAE) organiza el panel "Retos y logros de la mujer cubana en el siglo XXI", que tendrá lugar este jueves 23 de marzo en Miami.
 

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Las condiciones excepcionales que les permitían a los cubanos obtener un estatus legal casi inmediato en Estados Unidos ya no existen, pero aun así decenas continúan arriesgándose a llegar por … Click to Continue » Continue reading
… by hurricane Matthew in eastern Cuba through distribution of rice and … drought earlywarning systems in eastern Cuba, and to use food security … Continue reading
La empresa cubano-francesa de ron Havana Club vendió en 2016 unas 4,2 millones de cajas de ron, cada una de nueve litros, por las que obtuvo 118,5 millones de dólares, … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Acaba de ser publicado el Informe Mundial de la Felicidad de 2017, elaborado a instancias de la ONU Continue reading
La nueva tarifa será cerca de la mitad de la anterior Continue reading

(EFE).- La empresa cubano-francesa de ron Havana Club vendió 4,2 millones de cajas de ron de nueve litros cada una en 2016 por las que ingresó 118,5 millones de dólares, según datos divulgados hoy por la compañía.

El mercado cubano acaparó más del 28% de las ventas con 1,3 millones de cajas del ron Havana Club que elabora en la isla la corporación CubaRon y comercializa el grupo francés Pernod Ricard en 130 países, dos empresas asociadas al 50%.

El pasado año la compañía mixta creada en 1993 tuvo unas ventas netas de 170,7 millones de dólares, de los que 52,2 millones correspondieron a la comercialización de ron en Cuba, explicó la especialista principal en comunicación de la factoría, Yaima del Pilar Rodríguez, citada por medios locales.

Por detrás de Cuba, cerca del 60% de los mercados del ron cubano están en Europa, principalmente Alemania, Francia, España e Italia y algunos países de la órbita de la antigua Unión Soviética, seguidos de Canadá, México, Chile y Asia.

Pero todavía el ron cubano no se comercializa en Estados Unidos, donde se consumen un 40% de bebidas espirituosas, debido a las restricciones del embargo económico que aplica Washington a la isla.

Los rones Havana Club tienen su base en un proceso de añejamiento del aguardiente de caña, depositado durante más de dos años en toneles de roble blanco americano, que produjeron dos y tres veces, quizás más, exclusivos güisquis.[[QUOTE:En los últimos 23 años, Havana Club ha vendido por 1.878 millones de dólares, de ellos 1.420 millones obtenidos por la exportación]]

La marca de ron Havana Club se ubica entre las posiciones 21 y 23 en los niveles establecidos por la revista británica Drink International, que califica solo a 100 marcas del planeta.

Sus ventas se concentran en los rones blancos, el añejo blanco y toda la gama de oscuros que son los que la compañía está potenciando en estos momentos y que se producen en una fábrica en la localidad de San José de las Lajas, a unos 30 kilómetros de La Habana.

Actualmente esa planta está invirtiendo para ampliar sus áreas e incrementar sus producciones sobre todo en la gama más alta de rones oscuros llamada Prestigio, que incluyen los Especial Plus, Ritual, Reserva, 7 Años y la Colección Icónica, conformada por Selección de Maestros, 15 Años, Unión, las Ediciones Limitadas de Tributo de 2016 y 2017, y el Máximo Extra Añejo.

En los últimos 23 años, Havana Club ha vendido por 1.878 millones de dólares, de ellos 1.420 millones obtenidos por la exportación.

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A Year After Obama's Visit, Cubans Feel Disillusioned With His Legacy /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 19 March 2017 – It rained when the presidential
plane touched down on the tarmac at Havana's Airport. On 20 March 2016,
Barack Obama began a historic visit to the island that awakened hopes
and sparked questions. One year after that visit, Cubans are taking
stock of what happened and, in particular, what did not happen.

The tenant of the White House evoked waves of enthusiasm during his tour
of Havana's streets. His official agenda included talking with young
entrepreneurs, he appeared on a comedy TV show, he visited a private
restaurant, and he met with representatives from civil society. They
were intense days during which popular illusions reached historic records.

However, Obama's decision to eliminate the wet foot/dry foot policy
before the end of his term in January, caused that sympathy to plummet.
Now, inquiring about his legacy on Cuban streets leads to answers mostly
filled with criticism, resentment or a sense of betrayal.

"I lost my life," Luis Pedroso, a soundman by profession, tells
14ymedio, He sold all his property to pay for an illegal trip to the
United States. He left Cuba for the Dominican Republic, and then crossed
Mexico and arrived at the border in Nuevo Laredo, on 12 January when the
immigration policy that benefitted Cubans was no longer in force.

Cubans crowded the streets hoping to see Obama and his family. (EFE)
"What did he do that for?" asks Pedroso, about the act of the
Democrat. "We Cubans gave him our hearts and he betrayed us," he
says. The man sleeps on the couch of his sister's house waiting to "make
money again to leave." He thinks "Trump is less sympathetic," but
perhaps, "will get more loyal."

The months following the presidential visit, the emigration of Cubans to
the United States continued its growing trend. More than 50,000 Cubans
entered US territory during fiscal year 2016, according to the Office of
Field Operations of the Customs and Border Protection Service.

Norma works as a saleswoman in a private coffee shop in Havana's
Chinatown. She recalls that in the days when Obama was on the island,
"people were going crazy all over to try to see him." She was among the
hundreds of people who crowded along the Paseo del Prado when word
spread that The Beast (Obama's armored car) would pass by with the
presidential family.

The woman was especially hopeful about the economic benefits that could
come from the trip. "It seemed that everything would be fixed and that
we self-employed workers would be able to import and bring products from
over there," she reflects. But, "everything is stuck," is continues.

The entrepreneur would like to bring an "ice cream machine" from the
United States, and "ask for a loan or find an investor who wants to put
money into a small business." However, the customs restrictions imposed
on the Cuban side make commercial imports difficult, and there is no
easy way to send supplies to the island from the United States.

Nor have expectations in the countryside been met. Luis Garcia, a farmer
dedicated to planting rice outside Cienfuegos believes that "everything
has been greatly delayed." The flexibilities implemented by Obama from
the beginning of the diplomatic thaw were mainly directed toward the
private and agricultural sectors, but "the benefits haven't appeared,"
said the farmer.

The Cienfueguero continues to plow the land with an old yoke of oxen and
recalls that "there was much talk about the arrival of "resources,
tractors and seeds, but everything remains the same." Nevertheless he
believes that "Obama has been the best president of the United States
with regards to us, a man of integrity," he says.

The activists, who talked with Obama on that occasion and behind closed
doors, are also taking stock after twelve months.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the independent magazine Convivencia
(Coexistence), the main result of the trip was "to show that 'the enemy'
used as a weapon in the Cuban government's narrative was willing to
offer a white rose," as Obama demonstrated in his speech at Havana's
Gran Teatro.

The speech, broadcast live, is considered by many as "the best part of
the visit," says Valdez, who recognizes that "a year later,
unfortunately, the situation in Cuba is worsening." He cites an increase
in repression, the attacks on the United States in the official
discourse, which continues to be one of "trenches and confrontation."

The opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa was also at that table at the US
Embassy in Havana. He points out that after the arrival of the Democrat
there was an emphasis on "an awareness that our problems are our
problems, not problems caused by the United States." Obama helped to
defuse the "historic tension" between "democracy and nationalism."

On the other hand, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz who was traveling
during the historic visit, sums up the impact of Obama's trip as "none."
While "he left everyone filled with hopes," on the contrary, "what he
did was to put a final end to the wet foot/dry foot policy."

The former prisoner of the Black Spring believes that the visit "is not
something that is remembered gratefully right now." When it happened,
"everyone was very happy and filled with hopes, but a year later it's
completely different," she emphasized.

The columnist Miriam Celaya believes that beyond "being in favor or
against" Obama's actions toward the island "there is one thing that is
undeniable, and that is that he marked the Cuban policy of the last
fifty years like no other American president."

Celaya believes that the Democrat "ended the exceptionality" of the
Cuban issue "by taking away the government's foreign enemy." A situation
that has the Plaza of the Revolution "forced to render accounts. Ending
the wet foot/dry foot policy," also contributed to ending "the
emigration preference for Cubans in the United States."

"Any policy towards Cuba framed by US politicians, as long as this
system lasts, will have as an obligatory reference this parting of the
waters achieved by Obama," the independent journalist says.

Celaya believes that the population developed "tremendous expectations
that are now completely deflated. Many see Obama as the beloved and the
hated," an attitude that puts "the solutions in the United States, as if
they have to come from outside," she says.

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer,
believes that Obama "did everything possible to help the people out of
the deep crisis in which Castroism has plunged us," but "the regime
closed all the doors".

The outgoing president urged Raúl Castro "to open up to his people, to
allow the people to recover the spaces" but instead, the authorities
remain "in their old position of controlling everything and doing
nothing that endangers the total control they have over society. "

"What's up, Cuba?" Obama tweeted when his plane was about to land in
Cuba. Today, listening to that question generates more concerns than
certainties.

Source: A Year After Obama's Visit, Cubans Feel Disillusioned With His
Legacy / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/a-year-after-obamas-visit-cubans-feel-disillusioned-with-his-legacy-14ymedio-luz-escobar/ Continue reading
Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Says Cuban Medical Missions "Are
Slavery" and Vows to End Them / 14ymedio

14ymedio (with information from Diana Ramos), Quito, 17 March 2017 –
Guillermo Lasso, a candidate for president of Ecuador, is against the
Cuban medical missions in his country and promised to end them, should
he triumph in the upcoming run-off election.

"We must end this slavery of one government negotiating with another
that pays poverty-level wages for the services" provided by
professionals. He also stressed that Cuban professionals "displace"
Ecuadorians in their own country.

"In my government there will be no policy that persecutes any
professional sector in Ecuador," he said on Tuesday, during a visit to
Luis Vernaza Hospital in Guayaquil, the candidate's hometown.

On February 10, Movimiento X Cuba, a civil society group composed of
Cuban health professionals based in Ecuador, asked the future president
to end the Cuban medical presence there.

"We advocate that Cuban doctors be free and able to decide their own
future, their country of residence, and have the freedom necessary to
exercise such a dignified profession," the movement said in a statement.

Some 600 Cuban doctors are working in Ecuador and the Ecuadorian
government pays 2,700 dollars a month for each one. From this, the Cuban
Ministry of Public Health pays individual doctors barely 800 dollars,
with the rest going into the coffers of the state. Profits from this
leasing out of medical and other professionals is one of the Cuban
government's largest source of revenue.

Acure, an association of pro-Castro Cubans in Ecuador, spoke out against
the "malicious and provocative statement of Movimiento X Cuba" and
insisted that doctors from the island have provided medical care "to
more than four and a half million Ecuadorian patients," emphasizing the
provision of eye operations and kidney transplants.

"Cuba has trained, free of charge, more than 6,000 Ecuadorian
specialists in its universities," Acure said.

Dr. Daniel Medina, president of Movimiento X Cuba, who defines himself
as an opponent of the Cuban government, asked for protection for "all
migrants who seek freedom and flee totalitarian regimes like those in
Cuba and Venezuela."

Source: Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Says Cuban Medical Missions
"Are Slavery" and Vows to End Them / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/ecuadorian-presidential-candidate-says-cuban-medical-missions-are-slavery-and-vows-to-end-them-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Grow Food In Caves: The Latest Brainwave From The Ministry Of
Agriculture In Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 March 2017 — Specialists from MINAGRI, the Cuban
Ministry of Agriculture, tell us that planting seeds inside or near to
the Cuban cave network could quickly guarantee food production, which
would help to satisfy the ever-increasing requirements of the Cuban
population.

Another insane initiative, launched by the Ministry of agriculture,
focuses on sustainable solutions to environmental problems, optimising
energy and water, improving productivity, and using human waste as compost.

It is not a new idea. Millions of years ago man took advantage of the
humidity in caves and their surroundings. How is it possible that today,
in the 21st century, the Cuban government is trying to return to the
agriculture of the cavemen?

The insane move, which includes training and the creation of
laboratories for studying the quality of water in each cave area of the
island, emerged as a response to a presumptuous and pushy ministerial
debate on the use of water in agriculture that took place last February,
where Inés María Chapman, President of the National Institute of
Hydraulic Resources spoke about the serious situation regarding this
natural resource, and Norberto Espinosa Carro, director of the Livestock
Business Group, discussed the development programme being undertaken in
the middle of straitened economic circumstances.

Anyone traveling to Cuba, even as a tourist, will know that the island
has one of the largest cave systems in the world, 70 per cent of its
territory, with the exception of Las Tunas, is composed of limestone and
calcareous rock, natural phenomenon that leads to the formation of
caverns. I doubt that farmers want to return to the caves, or that the
MINAGRI can guarantee an underground irrigation system when, over more
than 50 years, it hasn't been able to guarantee even one-third of the
national food requirement on fertile ground.

"It is called permaculture and it is a fashionable nonsense brought here
by this new Minister from his trip to Europe. And that is exactly one of
our biggest problems, the lack of organization, and Ministerial
fantasies", as we are told by one of the managers of the Institute of
Agricultural Engineering Research.

"In Cuba", he concludes, "the problem is not the water or moisture, but
the poor support for the beneficial owner of the UBPC Cooperative, the
absence of liquidity, the poor utilization of agricultural land, the
very bad selection of water sources used for irrigation and drainage,
the thousand and one legal restrictions which prevent farmers enjoying a
better life, such as building their own home on the land where they
work, the poor livestock management and shortage of cattle feed, the
shortage of manpower and technically-qualified personnel, the scarcity
of supplies and tools, the unavailability of machinery to prepare the
soil, the lack of spare parts in the areas where they work, the deficit
of qualified technical staff and work force, the lack of inputs and
tools, the non-availability of machinery for the preparation of the
land, the lack of spare parts, and the long-running errors in allocating
transport for agricultural marketing. That's all"

Translated by GH

Source: Grow Food In Caves: The Latest Brainwave From The Ministry Of
Agriculture In Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/grow-food-in-caves-the-latest-brainwave-from-the-ministry-of-agriculture-in-cuba-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (ACN) The Havana Club International company is investing … rum distillery located in the Cuban municipality of San Jose de … top quality dark rums. The Havana Club rums are made from … percent of those in the Cuban market. Continue reading

Una familia argentina está recaudando 20.000 dólares para tratar en la Isla a un niño de tres años diagnosticado con mielomeningocele, además de paraplejía de los miembros inferiores y un retraso madurativo.

Los padres quieren tratarlo en el Centro Internacional de Restauración Neurológica de Cuba.

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Iván García ha denunciado intimidaciones a sus vecinos Continue reading
La empresa cubano-francesa vendió el 60 % de su producto en Europa Continue reading

El director general adjunto del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica (OIEA), Dazhu Yang, recorrerá este lunes la Agencia de Energía Nuclear y Tecnologías de Avanzada (AENTA), como parte de su visita oficial a Cuba, según dio a conocer la oficial Prensa Latina.

Yang se reunirá con el presidente de la AENTA, Daniel López, para "intercambiar sobre el estado de la cooperación técnica".

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"The LGBT community in Cuba is going through a transition"
Daniel Abma, director of 'Transit Havana' says the regime is now
integrating gays into society
IÑAKI MAKAZAGA
Bilbao 20 MAR 2017 - 15:50 CET

"El colectivo LGTB de Cuba vive un momento de apertura y transición"
A meeting with a Belgian surgeon gave the Dutch documentary filmmaker
and human rights activist Daniel Abma the story he was looking for:
every year, Cuba invites this surgeon along with a Dutch colleague to
carry out sex reassignment surgery on five of the island's residents.
Between November 2013 and January 2015, Abma documented the lives of
three transsexuals hoping to be among the lucky five. Then, as relations
between the US and Cuba warmed, he was given a newsworthy peg on which
to hang his film.

"The regime has gone from persecuting homosexuality to using all its
propaganda machinery to promote integration," says Abma who has just
watched his documentary, Transit Havana, premiere at the LGTBI Zinegoak
2017 Film Festival in Bilbao. " But Cuban homosexuals still have to deal
with religious intolerance, poverty, discrimination and often prostitution."

Many Cuban transsexuals have no alternative than to turn to prostitution

Cuban-trained doctors do not possess the necessary know-how to perform
sex reassignment procedures, which is why the Cuban government seeks out
experts in Europe. Through him, Abma was able to get permission to
document the new transgender residents' program, headed by President
Raúl Castro's daughter, Mariela.

"Mariela Castro supported us in every way. There was no control over
what we filmed and it became clear that she is a sort of mother figure
for the community," says the director, who visited the island four times
over the course of two years.

Mariela Castro is a member of Cuba's National Assembly and Director of
the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), whose push for
integration is giving the community a great deal of positive exposure
while, at the same time, making socialism a priority – the program
financing the sex reassignment surgery has adopted as its slogan:
homophobia no, socialism yes.

But it wasn't all plain sailing for Abma's project. While he was offered
unprecedented access to certain aspects of life in Cuba, some of his
footage was thought to give the wrong image of the island. "Without
Mariela's support, it would have been impossible to move so easily
around the island but when the authorities saw the results, they wanted
several changes that we didn't make," says the director, who regrets
that Mariela Castro did not show up for the premiere.

The Cuban authorities wanted some cuts to the documentary, which were
refused

Along with Abma, the documentary's three protagonists, Odette, Malú and
Juani – three generations of different sexes facing different challenges
– were at the premiere in Bilbao. "At 64, Juani has a good life," says
Abma. "She was one of the first transsexual women and her new identity
as a man has not caused her problems."

This is not the case for Odette, who at the age of 38, has had to deal
with rejection from her family due to their religious beliefs, while
Malú, 28, was forced at times to turn to prostitution to make a living.
"Each of the three highlights the challenges that still face
transsexuals: religious prejudice, the lack of job opportunities and
social stigma," says Abma.

The director adds that Cubans are aware discrimination is wrong and
that, in the spirit of the revolution, they accept in theory that all
people are equal. But in practice traditional attitudes, combined with
Catholic convictions, mean that prejudice is widespread.

"The Church is a big problem for Odette," says Abma. "Her mother insists
that she can't be transsexual because it goes against Creation. Malú's
fight for transsexual rights has become her life and made her the leader
of the TransCuba Association. The older generation has reservations
about the country opening up, and finds it hard to understand
transsexuals. The young people are pushing for change and see the
community as normal."

The making of Transit Havana also prompted Abma to consider issues such
as how countries can implement radical change and how the most
traditional governments can turn their propaganda tools to good use. "In
Cuba, tradition exists side-by-side quite comfortably with movements
keen to open up," says Abma. "And it's Mariela Castro who is promoting
integration within the National Assembly. It's a shift that fills the
LGBTI community in many Eastern European countries with hope.
Communities can take strength from my documentary and governments can
reinforce their campaigns."

In Georgia, a transsexual was murdered on the street just days after
Transit Havana was released. But as he embarks on his next project,
these kinds of brutal responses only make the director more determined
to use cinema as a platform to bring about change and equality.

English version by Heather Galloway.

Source: Gender issues in Cuba: "The LGBT community in Cuba is going
through a transition" | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/03/20/inenglish/1490015070_027498.html Continue reading
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