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Havana, Cuba. Year 16 - Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Machado Ventura praises sugar harvest progress at Mayabeque mill
• During a meeting with directors and workers at the Boris Luis Santa Coloma mill, José Ramón Machado Ventura praises progress made in the sugar harvest in Mayabeque

Alberto Gutiérrez Walón | internet@granma.cu

MADRUGA, Mayabeque.— José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, praised progress being made in the sugar harvest at the Boris Luis Santa Coloma mill during a meeting with directors and workers there.

Machado Ventura stated that the mill’s positive efficiency indicators are the result of the quality of repairs undertaken, followed up by rigorous planning of the industrial process.

Emphasis was placed on carefully coordinating each stage of the agroindustrial process, taking full advantage of resources, and constantly supervising work, in order to produce to full capacity.

The Boris Luis mill has ground sugar cane at a rate of above 85% over 15 days, ten points above the programmed rate, and the industrial yield is at 8.37%, with a marked tendency to increase, affirmed Rodolfo Florido, mill director.

He said that the mill had also begun packing sugar for domestic distribution, and manufacturing byproducts used for animal feed, as part of diversifying the mill’s economic activity.

In relation to the present sugar harvest, the principal repairs were completed in record time and without affecting the demands of Technical Norm 52, Florido noted.

The capital reparation of filters; assembly of a new centrifuge; preparation of the final molasses tank; and improvements in the warehouse were among the central works carried out during the period immediately prior to the start-up of the milling process.

According to Florido, the combination of all these factors, both agricultural and industrial, will make it possible to once again meet the production target.

Machado Ventura was accompanied during his tour of the mill by Juan Miguel García Díaz, first secretary of the Party in Mayabeque province; Orlando García Ramírez, president of the Azcuba Sugar Group; and other provincial leaders.

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Using the sun's energy
• Pinar del Rio solar farm set to be integrated into the National Electric System (SEN)

Ronald Suárez Rivas | internet@granma.cu

PINAR DEL RÍO.— The panels set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN).

According to scientist, Efren Marcos Espinosa, investment specialist at the Pinar del Rio electric company, a total of about 4,000 photovoltaic modules have been installed, manufactured in the own province, with a peak output of 250 Watts (Wp) each.

The official noted that the farm is located in an area known as Cayo Cana, in the municipality of Pinar del Río, where work is continuing in order to reach three MW at a later stage.

He added that the foundations required to reach that figure are virtually complete and that a great deal of the metal structures responsible for supporting the panels that will complete the farm have also been installed.

He highlighted that the new facility is the first step in the province aimed at diversifying energy sources, in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In this regard, he stressed that the electricity generated through solar energy produced by the 4,000 already installed panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Given this reality, he noted that the company is currently working on engineering and geological studies aimed at identifying other areas suitable for the construction of further solar farms in Vueltabajo.

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XIII Alba-TCP Summit
Strengthening our unity

Leaders of delegations attending the Summit emphasized, in all of their remarks, the accomplishments achieved by the alliance during the 10 years of its existence, including Operation Miracle and literacy efforts which have allowed five million citizens to learn to read and write

Leticia Martínez Hernández  Yaima Puig Meneses  | internet@granma.cu

Heads of state and government, meeting in Havana Sunday, December 14, reaffirmed the principles of solidarity, genuine cooperation and complementarity shared by the countries which comprise the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP).

Precisely 10 years ago, also in the Cuban capital, this pro-integration mechanism was founded, on the initiative of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías, whose legacies of great importance to present and future generations were emphasized during the XIII Summit.

Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz described the discussion as productive, and commented that very interesting ideas had been presented, reflecting the concrete results of the gathering.

He called for continuing to strengthen joint political work, unity, and cooperation in all spheres, among nations participating in Alba-TCP, CELAC, CARICOM, UNASUR and MERCOSUR.

The Cuban President emphasized the importance of establishing concrete, realistic goals for the future, while defining and agreeing upon attainable efforts, which strengthen the complementarity of Alba countries’ economies, based on principles of rational, efficient use of resources.

He said that work must be done to make more visible the undeniable accomplishments of Alba-TCP, and disseminate the advantages of the integration model which the alliance proposes and defends. A concrete example of what can be done together, he recalled, was the agreement adopted at the Special Summit on Ebola, and subsequent joint efforts.

Raúl reiterated the comments he made, during last week’s CARICOM-Cuba Summit, thanking the Panamanian government for its invitation to the upcoming Summit of the Americas, and expressed Cuba’s willingness to participate as an equal, without pre-conditions, reaffirming that this does not in any way imply a return to the Organization of American States (OAS). 

The first decision made at the XIII Alba-TCP Summit was to formalize the incorporation of Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis as members of the alliance, whose contributions, Raúl affirmed, will support the development and consolidation of efforts to promote integration being made by the group, which additionally includes Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia.

Leaders of delegations attending the Summit emphasized, in all of their remarks, the accomplishments achieved by the alliance during the 10 years of its existence. Cited were Operation Miracle, through which some three million Latin Americans and Caribbeans have recovered their sight; national genetic and psycho-social studies of the disabled; literacy campaigns which have allowed some five million citizens to learn to read and write; and the training of thousands of doctors. Also recalled was significant progress in the financial arena including the creation of the Unified System of Regional Compensation (SUCRE) and the Alba Bank.

Participants agreed that while much has been accomplished, many challenges remain, which require the further perfecting of current collaborative programs in all areas.

During the discussion, strong support for Venezuela was reaffirmed, and sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic approved by the U.S. Congress were forcefully condemned.

Alba leaders once again demanded a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba; an immediate end to the blockade and subversive intervention; the removal of Cuba from the arbitrary, absurd list of state sponsors of international terrorism; as well as the release of the three Cuban anti-terrorists who remain unjustly held in U.S. prisons.


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EDITORIAL
The digitalization of society, a priority for Cuba

Efforts to advance Cuba’s connectivity have been directed toward the development of telecommunications infrastructure capacity, with the purpose of strengthening social connectivity, and developing automated operations in strategic sectors. The trial balloon has been the opening of 154 Public Navigation Centers, distributed throughout the nation.

 Cuba has been, and is, intent upon being connected to the world, despite propaganda to the contrary, the economic siege, redoubled surveillance, and the fourth generation wars the country faces. This decision is based not only on a desire to partake of the immense source of knowledge that is the “information highway,” but to add to it the best of our culture, education, knowledge, and humanism, which are the fundamental core of the Cuban Revolution, and the thinking of its leaders.

Digitalization, which has been underway for several years, demonstrates the country’s political will to increasingly make new technology available to the population, as is outlined in the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, which govern changes being implemented, based on the idea that a prosperous, sustainable society is not possible without adding to such objectives the tools which guarantee access to knowledge, efficiency, productivity and excellence.

At the same time, the 1st National Party Conference established as one of its objectives to, “Utilize the advantages of information and communications technology, as tools for the development of knowledge, of the economy, and political-ideological activity, and to present Cuba’s image and reality, in addition to combating subversive action against out country.”

Over the last few years, efforts to advance Cuba’s connectivity have been directed toward the development of telecommunications infrastructure capacity, with the purpose of strengthening social connectivity, and developing automated operations in strategic sectors such as banking, electricity generation, transportation, and macro-economic development projects, such as the Mariel Special Development Zone, and the Petrochemical Center in Cienfuegos.

Significant investment to extend and modernize this infrastructure has allowed not only the initiation of mobile phone and Internet services, but has also given these a social use, prioritizing, and in many cases subsidizing them in sectors such as education, science, public heath, culture and scientific development.

A concrete example of these projects is the creation of information storage and processing infrastructure, through the modernization of the country’s data centers, in addition to the construction of a network which allows connectivity via mobile and fixed devices (cellular phones, tablets, and laptops.)

In this effort, steps have been taken at the administrative and enterprise levels to guarantee technological sustainability and sovereignty for the massive provision of Internet access services.

The trial balloon has been the opening of 154 Public Navigation Centers, distributed throughout the nation, as a prelude to the generalized availability of data services, which will allow the country to commercially offer broadband access (with greater speed and options), work on which is currently underway.

This has made possible the existence in Cuba of almost three million web users, including institutional platforms, e-mail and Internet; and an equal number of mobile phone users, including more than half a million with access to e-mail via their cellular telephones.

In addition to the extension of connections in multiple locations - to include libraries and post offices - other initiatives are under development, or in the start-up process, to facilitate the distribution of data via mobile phones and the development of platforms for university and institutional networks, which could extend their services to all of society.

These and other measures are the result of the gradual implementation of 26 projects which comprise the national information platform, Red Cuba, designed to assure the sovereign presentation of diverse, quality, representative content, produced within the country, developed and administered by Cuban entities, with the purpose of meeting the society’s information and service needs, as well as guaranteeing access to international networks.

The strategy additionally projects the creation of new wireless access capacity; and the integration and orderly use of institutional data networks, such as those in sectors such as public health, education and culture, which are well known by Cuban users (INFOMED, RIMED, REDUNIV and CUBARTE.) These will be hosted by high performance servers, which will facilitate their potential use. Also planned is the development of video games and multimedia with educational and historical content, as well as the updating of the regulatory framework governing the use of information and telecommunications technology.

Likewise the introduction of digital television in the country is moving forward, preceded by a broad process of communications technology development, which will reduce, to practically zero, the areas not currently reached by broadcast signals, and modernize television programming. This process is progressing in line with advances in this arena internationally.

The introduction of terrestrial digital TV - “the little box” to our population –required that important investments be made throughout 2013 and 2014. The first stage has included the installation of 35 transmitters which provide coverage to the entirety of Havana province, the provincial capitals, and some adjoining municipalities, potentially reaching five million viewers. Currently, eight television channels and six radio stations are being broadcast, plus a data channel as an additional asset.

Projected for 2015 is the installation of 17 more transmitters, in order to continue expanding availability of this service, in addition to the acquisition of mobile broadcasting and television production equipment, as well as four laboratories for universities with telecommunications departments.

Also set to continue is the digitalization of television production, already begun by the Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT), with five provincial broadcasters and the national news service, while a studio was equipped with the latest technology and a high definition mobile unit acquired, which should improve services offered to the population.

These processes have not been exempt from shortcomings and weak spots, generating criticism and dissatisfaction within the population, which increasingly demands more and better services, a challenge which must be assumed not only by the information and telecommunications sector, but by the majority of institutions and society in general.

As these projects have been carried out, the Revolution has been obliged to face not only the limitations imposed by the tightening of the blockade, but also the hostility of some U.S. government entities and isolated elements who resort to the use of new information and telecommunications technologies to attempt to subvert and change our political system. To this has been added an increasing amount of damage caused to the country by cybernetic events, principally cyber-attacks which pose risks to the security of the country and internationally.

As has been reported by the U.S. press itself, the government of the United States has shifted the greatest portion of its budget dedicated to political-ideological subversion and destabilization of the internal order in our country to this terrain. Among the most widely discussed operations is Zunzuneo, a mobile phone message service, promoted parallel to national services with the purpose of distributing content hostile to the Cuban government. More recently revealed were secret programs using emissaries from different countries to promote enemy activities directed toward the study and identification of youth who could potentially be converted into “agents of change,” and attract Cuban artists to their subversive actions.

Despite all of these obstacles, which have not succeeded in isolating the country, the infrastructure, as well as the legal and institutional framework, needed to defend the country and guarantee the viable development of the digitalization of Cuban society has been created. At the same time, international cooperation in this arena is being sought.

Cuba is advancing in the secure digitalization of its society, without haste, but without pause, conscious that the era of the Internet and new technology must be one of learning, development, inclusion and must also secure, to guarantee the invulnerability of the Revolution, the defense of our culture, and the sustainable socialism our people are constructing.


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May nothing, no one, derail our progress toward integration

Cuban President Army General Raúl Castro Ruz opened the XIII Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People's Trade Agreement (Alba-TCP), this morning December 14, and called for strengthening regional unity.

Cuban President Army General Raúl Castro Ruz formally inaugurated the XII Alba-TCP Summit on the tenth anniversary of the foundation of this mechanism of regional integration.

The Cuban leader recalled in his remarks that, exactly 10 years ago, the alternative alliance was founded, as a result of the political work and commitment to integration of Comandantes Hugo Chávez Frías and Fidel Castro Ruz, who led the way to the era of change today being constructed by our peoples and their vanguard leadership.

Raúl recalled that, at that time, the U.S. invented Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) had not yet been buried, but had generated resistance, while revolutionary and progressive governments were emerging, intent upon fulfilling the dream of Latin American independence forbearers.

The Cuban President referred to the first historic meeting, 20 years ago,  between Fidel and Chávez, which was also the beginning of a great friendship based on shared ideas and goals, which has had a strong impact in the region, and on liberation efforts.

The foundation of Alba, which would later include a trade agreement, also emerged, Raúl said, as a result of the friendship between Venezuela and Cuba, and the solidarity between the two peoples, based on principles of complementarity, as reflected in the joint declaration made in December of 2004.

The subsequent adhesion of Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, and the incorporation of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Lucia, which enriched the alliance with a unique Caribbean perspective, led to the consolidation of Alba's integrationist framework, and broadened its projections, he said, while additionally highlighting the incorporation of Grenada and St, Kitts and Nevis, to take place during the Summit.

Addressing Alba's accomplishments, which he described as undeniable, Raúl affirmed that the alliance has been a pillar of independence and sovereignty of the peoples who are coming together, and has become a platform from which audacious common positions are being established, emphasizing, "Our voice is heard and recognized throughout the world, always in defense of the most just causes."

Among the bloc's achievements over these past 10 years, the Cuban President cited the three million persons who have regained their sight thanks to Operation Miracle; the million disabled who have been diagnosed and treated during nationwide genetic and psycho-social studies; and five million who have learned to read and write via the "Yes, I Can" literacy program.

Likewise, he recalled that more than 23,000 doctors have been trained as result of this collaboration, and notable accomplishments have been registered in the fields of sports and culture.

Raúl described the Unified System of Regional Compensation, SUCRE, and the Alba Bank, as the alliance's principal contribution to the creation of a new financial structure in the region, and noted that work is underway on a complementary zone of Alba-Petrocaribe-Mercosur.

In his remarks, Raúl also emphasized Venezuela's solidarity and support, and condemned U.S. attempts to impose sanctions on this sister country, which will have no effect on the Bolivarian Republic's commitment to continue moving forward, despite the efforts of powerful internal and external forces conspiring to destabilize the country, to derail the process of change, and defeat the peoples.

- Alba Summit in Cuba condemns U.S. sanctions of Venezuela
-
Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis - New members of Alba-TCP
- ALBA to celebrate 20th anniversary in Havana

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Another USAID covert plan exposed

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, attempted to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop movement as part of a covert project to destabilize the country.

Autor: ACN

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, attempted to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop movement as part of a covert project to destabilize the country.

Documents obtained by AP indicate that USAID hired a group of rappers to develop a youth movement in opposition to the Cuban government. The covert plan was implemented over more than two years, with the aim of using Cuban musicians to establish a network to agitate for social change on the island, PL reported on Thursday.

The Huffington Post website published a chronology of USAID covert operations in Cuba, detailing the activities of Rajko Bozic, a Serbian national who presented himself as a musical promoter and arrived in Cuba with instructions to involve Cuban rappers such as the Aldeanos duo in the covert hip hop program, to promote an opposition movement.

The publication also describes the creation in Panama of the Salida Company in March 2009, a front for Creative Associates International based in Washington. AP reports that in August of 2009 Creative Associates hosted a meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, to discuss using the Concert for Peace, organized by Colombian musician Juanes in Havana, to boost Los Aldeanos and their rebellious discourse.

Coincidentally, on December 3, 2009, USAID contractor Alan Gross was arrested in Havana for having illegally imported satellite phones and computing equipment to Cuba without the appropriate permits.

The USAID hip hop covert operation was conducted in tandem with two other programs sponsored by the U.S. agency, which were exposed by AP - the Zunzuneo or Cuban twitter project, and a plan to send young Latin Americans to Cuba to build disenchantment among Cuban youth and promote criticism of the government.


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Cuban Interests Section in Washington issues press release
• Since February 2014, despite repeated efforts, the Cuban Interest Section in Washington has not yet been able to identify a banking institution willing to assume needed banking operations

Cuban Interests Section in Washington | internet@granma.cu

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington would like to inform users that our Consular Office, despite efforts made since February 2014, has not yet been able to identify a U.S. banking institution, one from another country established in the United States, or one in a third country, to assume the banking operations we require to guarantee normal functioning, and provide a full range of consular services, as a result of the tightening of antagonistic financial measures associated with the blockade policy imposed by the United States, and the unjustifiable, unsubstantiated designation of Cuba as a "state sponsor of International terrorism."

The Interests Section, while continuing to seek a solution which will allow for the normalization of its consular work, has decided to once again extend the provision of its services, through March 31, 2015, including the renewal of passports and their extension for Cuban citizens who have reservations to travel to Cuba. These procedures will continue to be handled by travel agencies which have relations with the Consular Office or directly with the Interest Section site in Washington, D.C.

The Interests Section reiterates that humanitarian requests will continue to receive expedited attention, and that, in accordance with current Cuban migratory regulations, Cuban citizens must possess a valid Cuban passport to enter Cuban national territory.

December 10, 2014
 

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Raúl receives Bahamian Prime Minister

During an amicable meeting, the two leaders discussed the longstanding fraternal ties shared by their countries

President Raúl Castro Ruz received, on Tuesday December 9, the Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, who is making an official visit to the country, following the Fifth Carisom-Cuba Summit.

During an amicable meeting, the two leaders discussed the longstanding fraternal ties shared by their countries, and reviewed the progress in educational and sports cooperation made over the course of 40 years of bilateral relations, as well as discussing issues on the regional and international agenda.

Accompanying the distinguished guest was Foreign Minister Frederick Mitchell; Ryan Pinder, minister of Financial Services; Khaalis Rolle, minister of Investment; and ambassador Alma Adams. Also àrticipating for Cuba was Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Deputy Minsiter Rogelio Sierra Día.

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CARICOM-CUBA SUMMIT
Toward the indispensable political, economic and social integration of Latin America and the Caribbean
• Key remarks by President Raúl Castro opening the Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Havana, December 8, 2014

Honourable Gaston Alphonse Brown, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chairman of CARICOM;

Honourable Heads of State or Government of CARICOM member countries;

His Excellency Irwin Larocque, Secretary General of CARICOM;

His Excellency Mr Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; 

His Excellency Mr Alfonso Múnera Cavadía, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States;

Allow me to extend a warm welcome and to wish you all a pleasant stay in our country.

It gives us great pleasure to receive here the leaders and representatives of the Caribbean family. We share a common history of slavery, colonialism and struggles for freedom, independence and development, which is the melting pot where our cultures have merged. We also face similar challenges that can only be met through close unity and efficient cooperation.

Such is the meaning and purpose of these summits held every three years, and aimed at fostering and strengthening our fraternal engagement in cooperation, solidarity and coordination to move towards the necessary Latin American and Caribbean integration; a dream of the forefathers of our independence deferred for more than 200 years, and which is today crucial to our survival.

The successful evolution of CARICOM, the involvement of all its member states and Cuba with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) as well as the participation of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) and Petrocarib have helped to advance regional integration, and we should continue working for its consolidation.

Esteemed Heads of State or Government;

Guests;

Every year on this day we celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba by the first four nations of the Caribbean Community to accede to independence.

As comrade Fidel Castro Ruz stated at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of that seminal event, “Probably, the leaders of these countries, also considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, –Errol Barrow from Barbados, Forbes Burnham from Guyana, Michael Manley from Jamaica and Eric Williams from Trinidad and Tobago—realised that their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was paving the way for the future foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which to this day stands on three major pillars: independence, courage and concerted action.” This statement remains fully valid.

Forty-two years after that brave decision, we take pride in our excellent relations with every country in the Caribbean, and keep diplomatic missions in every capital. And you also have diplomatic missions in Havana; the most recent from St. Kits and Nevis was officially opened last June 25th with our dear friend the Very Honourable Prime Minister Denzil Douglas in attendance.

This moment seems fit to reaffirm that despite our economic difficulties, and the changes undertaken to upgrade our socioeconomic system, we will honour our pledge to cooperate and share our modest achievements with our sister nations in the Caribbean.

Currently, we have 1,806 collaborators working in the CARICOM countries, 1,461 of them in the area of healthcare. Likewise, 4,991 Caribbean youths have graduated in Cuba while 1,055 remain studying in the Island.

Additionally, we are cooperating with the Caribbean, and shall continue to do so, in preventing and fighting the Ebola pandemic. This we are doing bilaterally as well as in the framework of ALBA and CELAC, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

The experts’ meeting held in Havana at the end of October brought together specialists from the entire hemisphere, including representatives of non-independent Caribbean states. In the past few weeks, 61 officials, physicians, experts in healthcare and other areas from CARICOMN countries have been training in Cuba. On the other hand, we are answering the request of nine CARICOM States to provide Cuban assistance in training their countries’ medical staff.

As small island states and developing nations we are facing the challenge of surviving and making progress in a world shaken by a global economic crisis manifested in the financial and energy sectors, the environment and the food sector, deadly diseases and war conflicts. Today, I want to reiterate Cuba’s unwavering decision to support, under any circumstances, the right of the small and vulnerable countries to be accorded a special and differential treatment in terms of access to trade and investments. 

The challenges of the 21st century are forcing us to unite in order to face together the effects of climate change and natural disasters, to coordinate our approach to the post-2015 development agenda, and particularly, to tackle together the domination mechanisms imposed by the unfair international financial system.

We join our voice to those of the Caribbean Community in demanding the immediate removal of our nations from unilateral lists that jeopardize our economic development and commercial exchanges with other countries.

Special attention is warranted by cooperation in confronting the effects of climate change. The rise of the sea level is threatening the very existence of many of our countries. The more frequent hurricanes, intensive rains and other phenomena are causing huge economic and human damages. We are left with no choice but to reinforce our coordination in order to confront this reality and reduce its major impact on water resources, coastal areas and marine species; biological diversity, agriculture and human settlements.

Cuba has conducted studies of dangers, vulnerabilities and risks and is already implementing a macro-project named “Coastal Dangers and Vulnerabilities 2050-2100”. These include projects on the health condition of the coastal dunes and mangroves as well as an evaluation of the beaches, coastal settlements and their infrastructure; we are willing to share this experience with our sister nations of CARICOM.

We have lots of work to do. As we have indicated, in the coming three- year period, with the modest contribution of Cuba, a Regional Arts School will be opened in Jamaica and the Centre for Development Stimulation of children, teenagers and youths with special educational needs will start operating in Guyana.

On the other hand, more Caribbean students will be given the opportunity to pursue a college education in our country, especially in the area of Medicine. We will also help in the preparation of experts from the CARICOM countries in topics related to mitigation and confrontation of risks of natural disasters, and the difficult stage of recovery in the aftermath of such events.

Likewise, we shall continue offering our fraternal assistance in the development of human resources and in medical care. In the same token, doctors graduated in Cuba and working in their respective countries will be offered the possibility of studying a second specialty free of charge.

The development of trade and investments between our countries is still an unresolved issue. The difficulties with air and maritime transportation in the sub-region and the deterioration of our economies as a result of the international crisis are having a negative effect on progress in these areas. We should work toward creative and feasible solutions of benefit to all. In this connection, we welcome the joint efforts to update and review the Bilateral Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which will provide the free access with no customs duties of 297 products from CARICOM countries and 47 from Cuba.

I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our steadfast support for the just demand of the CARICOM countries to be compensated by the colonial powers for the horrors of slavery, and for their equally fair claim to receive cooperation according to their real situation and necessities, and not on the basis of statistics of their per capita income that simply characterise them as middle-income countries and prevent their access to indispensable flows of financial resources.

It is our inescapable duty to support the reconstruction and development of the sister republic of Haiti, the birthplace of the first revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean fought in pursuit of independence, for we all have a debt of gratitude with that heroic and long-suffering people.

As I have said on previous occasions, Cubans are deeply grateful to our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean for your upright stance of respect for and solidarity with our Homeland.

We shall never forget your enduring support to the resolution against the blockade nor your numerous expressions of solidarity during the debates at the UN General Assembly and other international fora, rejecting the illegitimate inclusion of Cuba in the List of States Sponsors of Terrorism.

Distinguished Heads of State or Government;

Guests;

I would like to suggest that in this 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit we exchange viable ideas and proposals to continue working together to increase our bilateral cooperation; to expand and diversify our economic and commercial relations; to confront the challenges imposed by the globalized, unfair and unequal world we live in fraught with grave problems that threaten the very existence of humankind; and, above all, to advance with steadier steps toward the indispensable political, economic and social integration of Latin America and the  Caribbean.

We owe it to our peoples and such duty cannot be postponed.

With no further delay I declare the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit officially opened.

Thank you.

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CUBA-CARICOM SUMMIT
Declaration of Havana
• Final declaration adopted December 8, 2014, on the occasion of the Fifth Cuba-Caricom Summit

    We, the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and of the Republic of Cuba, meeting in Havana, Cuba, on 8 December 2014, on the occasion of the Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit and in commemoration of the Forty-Second anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations among the independent States of CARICOM and Cuba and the Twelfth anniversary of Cuba-CARICOM Day;

    Proud of our shared Caribbean identity and the strong and high level of bilateral and political relations, strengthened by the agreements we have signed and in the context of the international fora, that has permitted us to advance our national development agenda on behalf of our peoples on the basis of solidarity and regional cooperation;

    Recalling the Declarations of Havana (2002), Bridgetown (2005), Santiago de Cuba (2008) and Port-of-Spain (2011), and recognizing their significant contribution towards the strengthening of the relations among our nations;

    Aware of the importance of working together for the sustainable development of our countries, that allows us to build more inclusive societies and to address our vulnerabilities as small developing States, in particular Small Island Developing States, especially in the environmental and economic spheres;

    Reiterating the need to pool our efforts in order to improve the productivity, infrastructure, air and sea connectivity of our countries, as well as to broaden our economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba;

    Recalling the importance of the consolidation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as a mechanism of political coordination and promotion of the unity and integration of our region, as well as the significance of its direct efforts in the eradication 2 of poverty, hunger and inequality within and amongst its Member States.

    Agree as follows:

        1. Reiterate that the unity and integration of our Caribbean region is based on respect for the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in International Law. Therefore, we commit our wholehearted support to sovereignty, self-determination, territorial integrity, noninterference in internal affairs of each country and the protection and promotion of all human rights for all;

        2. Welcome the outcomes of the regular meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba to date, which continue to serve as a platform for political engagement. These meetings reinforce the commitment of our political leaders to strengthening the bonds among our countries;

        3. Reaffirm our will to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity among our countries, for the promotion of bilateral and regional programmes as well as triangular cooperation for development, taking into account the development priorities of our countries;

        4. Recognize the cooperation between Cuba and the countries of the Caribbean Community in areas such as health, the development of human resources, construction and sports, has effectively contributed to the growth of wellbeing of our peoples. In this regard, we express our sincere appreciation to the government of Cuba for its continued support and for the extension of this goodwill for the financing of the Caribbean Regional School of Arts in Jamaica, and the Centre for Treatment of Physical Disabilities to assist physically challenged children and youth, to be based in Guyana, during the upcoming triennial period. We express further appreciation for the increase in under-graduate scholarships as well as post-graduate scholarships for specialization in Medicine, the increase in patient intake from CARICOM States for free 3 medical care, as well as training in disaster risk reduction and response to natural disasters.

        5. Reiterate our commitment to continue promoting social initiatives as well as the implementation of projects to improve the air and sea infrastructure and connectivity between our countries and broaden our economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba;

        6. Welcome the progress in the negotiations to expand market access and improve economic cooperation under our Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement and encourage our officials to continue to work in the spirit of solidarity and goodwill that has characterized their efforts to date, in order to conclude the negotiations by the end of the second quarter of 2015;

        7. Emphasize that the updating of Cuban economic model, its Foreign Investment Law and the Special Mariel Development Economic Zone, provide additional opportunities, on a much broader scale, to accelerate and strengthen CARICOM-Cuba economic ties;

        8. Recognize the importance to the Caribbean countries to take advantage of the potential offered by the regional and subregional mechanisms such as CELAC, ACS, ALBA-TCP, PETROCARIBE, as well as international mechanisms such as BRICS;

        9. Reaffirm our solidarity with the Republic of Haiti and reiterate our strong commitment to the recovery efforts after the earthquake of 12 January 2010, in accordance with the priorities defined by its government and fully respecting for its sovereignty;

        10. Affirm the commitments made at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States that took place in Apia, Samoa, 1st – 4 th September 2014, as well as the commitments outlined in the Outcome Document.4

        11. Affirm also our readiness to work together on a Regional Strategic Agenda to address Disaster Risk Management in a comprehensive manner, taking into account disaster risk estimates and reduction, human assistance and reconstruction, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182, in order to address the serious consequences of climate change in our countries;

        12. Decide to strengthen our cooperation to address the negative effects of climate change. In this regard, we reiterate our call for a binding agreement that will stabilize the rise of world temperatures below the 2º C taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and to address the needs of our countries to the challenges of adapting to impacts of climate change, in accordance with the Framework Convention and the decisions of the Conferences of the Parties;

        13. Commit to strengthen cooperation for the protection of the environment and the sustainable use of our resources, in particular those in the Caribbean Sea. In this regard, we support the efforts made by the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) to declare the Caribbean Sea a Special Area in the Context of Sustainable Development within the UN Framework;

        14. Reaffirm that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally. We are deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries, are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and are already experiencing an increase in such impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, sealevel rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification, further threatening food security and efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. In this regard, we emphasize that adaptation to climate change represents an immediate and urgent global priority;

        15. Emphasize our commitment to combat trafficking in persons, illicit drugs trafficking and illicit trafficking of small arms, bearing in mind the characteristics, scope and magnitude of these problems in each individual State.

        16. Develop cooperation in the area of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in full conformity with the principles of international law, with the aim of promoting their contributions to the sustainable development of the member states of CARICOM and Cuba, particularly in the fields of education, health care, science and technology, innovation, agriculture and any other sector where it may be required.

        17. To continue moving forward on cooperation in matters of food security, as a decisive contribution towards the elimination of hunger, poverty and margination, not only in the area of the Caribbean but also on a world level, by the intensification of our coordinated efforts and interchanges in matters of agricultural technology, nutrition and other sectors that contribute towards that goal;

        18. Welcome the immediate unified actions of ALBA-TCP, Cuba and CARICOM, accompanied by the other member countries of CELAC to prevent the spread of the Ebola epidemic in our region and to deal with it if necessary. We commit ourselves to promoting and broadening said cooperation by adopting preventive measures, training of qualified personnel, creating institutions to carry out research on that disease;

        19. Recognize the support and solidarity of the Republic of Cuba in sending doctors and medical personnel to the countries of West Africa affected by the epidemic, and in training qualified personnel in other African countries to prevent it from spreading and be prepared to confront it;

        20. Support efforts in preventing the entry, spread and facilitating the treatment of non-communicable diseases, HIV-AIDS and other diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya in our 6 countries. We also support projects aimed at assisting differently-abled persons in the Region;

        21. Demand an immediate end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba and, especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity increases daily; the inclusion of Cuba on the List of States Sponsoring Terrorism, prepared and published unilaterally by the US State Department, and all undercover actions that the US government is carrying out to subvert domestic law and order in the Republic of Cuba, including those that involve the illegal use of information and communications technologies, that constitute violations of Cuban sovereignty and its people’s right to self-determination;

        22. Reaffirm the unequivocal position of the Caribbean Community in favour of Cuba attending the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama, in April 2015, on an equal footing of sovereignty, and without any conditions, which coincides with the position of solidarity expressed in different fora throughout the region;

        23. Emphasize that the elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda must be a universal process, open, transparent and inclusive, on the basis of unrestricted respect for the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and focused on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. In this context, we stress that said Agenda must respond to the special needs of small developing States, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in accordance with their respective national laws and development priorities in respect to attaining sustainable development. The Agenda should also incorporate all elements conducive to Sustainable Development, in particular culture, which must be a cross-cutting issue of the Agenda and with respect to which specific goals in the relevant objectives must be included;7

        24. Affirm that even though middle-income countries in the Caribbean region, have achieved significant advances in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, we still face enormous challenges in our path to development, including those derived from the nature of being small islands and those related with climate change. In this context, we reiterate our call to adopt indicators that suitably reflect the realities of middle-income countries and, in particular, the specific problems of the Caribbean States, considering that the current criteria referring to average incomes, especially the criteria of per capita income indicators, do not reflect the multidimensional effects of poverty, inequality and vulnerability;

        25. Celebrate with great pleasure the successful outcome of the Second CELAC Summit in Havana, held on the 28th and 29th of January of 2014, in particular the Declaration of Havana, the historical Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and Government and the Special Declarations regarding Small Island Developing States, the matter of reparations for the slavery and native genocide and the establishing of the China-CELAC Forum;

        26. Reaffirm that the strengthening of CELAC as a forum for dialogue and international political actor is one of our priorities. In that context, we consider it to be fundamental to continue strengthening regional integration through political dialogue, cooperation and increased trade among the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. In that regard, we reaffirm the importance of CARICOM’s active participation within CELAC and we emphasize the inclusion of the CARICOM Presidency within the CELAC Quartet;

        27. Note the importance placed by the Caribbean Community on the issue of reparation for native genocide and Caribbean slavery and their desire to engage with the European countries intimately involved in native genocide and slave-owning in a reparatory dialogue to address the legacy of this crime against humanity;8

        28. Express gratitude to the Government and People of the Republic of Cuba for the warm welcome and hospitality afforded to us during the Fifth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and the Republic of Cuba;

        29. Decide to hold the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Summit on 8 December of 2017, in Antigua and Barbuda and the Fifth Ministerial Meeting in Havana in the month of June of 2016;

    Adopted in Havana, Cuba, on the 8th day of the month of December of 2014

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Caricom-Cuba Summit Begins

The 5th Caricom-Cuba Summit began today, December 8, in Havana’s Palacio de la Revolución, with the purpose of strengthening relations, and reviewing cooperation agreements between the 14 Caribbean countries and Cuba.

President Raúl Castro Ruz welcomed the leaders in attendance, which coincides with the celebration of Caricom-Cuba Day, a commemoration of the date in 1972 when the governments of Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, in a coordinated manner, established diplomatic relations with Cuba, at a time when few other countries maintained relations with the island’s revolutionary government. The event is considered of great historical importance and marks the beginning of relations between Cuba and what would become the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

During the meeting, several alternative proposals to strengthen the body’s structure will be discussed, in addition to strategies to increase cooperation in the areas of education, health, the eradication of poverty, renewable energy and social justice.

Other issues on the agenda include UN post-2015 sustainable development plans, and the review and evaluation of this international body’s work in the region.

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Raúl and Prime Minister of Barbados hold official talks
• Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, held official talks with the Honorable Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, during which the excellent state of the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries was discussed

Author: Granma |
internet@granma.cu
Foto: Estudio Revolución

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, held official talks, on Sunday December 7, with the Honorable Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, who is visiting the country as the head of the Barbados delegation to the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit.

During the cordial meeting, the two leaders discussed the excellent state of the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation shared by the two nations, and reiterated their commitment to developing these ties. They additionally addressed issues of regional and international interest.

The distinguished guest was accompanied by Sonja Welch, permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Charles Bournett, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Trade. Also participating on the Cuba side were Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and ambassador Francisco Fernández Peña.

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Machado Ventura receives FLMN leader from El Salvador

José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee, received on the morning of December 4, the general secretary of El Salvador’s Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), Medardo González Trejo, who is leading a delegation visiting Cuba on the invitation of the PCC.

The meeting took place in a fraternal environment, and Machado Ventura shared progress being made in implementation of decisions made at the 2011 6th Party Congress and its First National Conference.

González Trejo offered his evaluation of the current situation in El Salvador, and other regional issues were addressed. Both leaders expressed their intention to continue developing relations between the FLMN and the PCC.

Also participating were José Luis Merino and Nidia Díaz, members of the Salvadoran party’s Political Commission; Sandra Geraldina Alvarado, El Salvador’s ambassador in Cuba; in addition to José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, member of the PCC Central Committee Secretariat and head of the Party’s international relations department, among others.

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LATIN AMERICAN MEDICINE DAY
Medical professionals honored

This December 3, celebrated in Cuba as Latin American Medicine Day, provided an opportunity to recognize those who, with disinterested humility, “struggle every day for the lives of our people and in other sister countries,” in the words read by Dr. Luis Curbelo Alfonso, from a congratulatory message sent by the Ministry of Public Health to an event held at the National Oncology and Radiology Institute (INOR.)

“This is a day for reaffirmation and motivation, but also one of inescapable commitment to new tasks related to the implementation of the Social and Economic Policy Guidelines,” the message continued, “We are in the second stage of more profound changes in the sector, with the objective of continuing to perfect the reorganization, consolidation and regionalization of services; better controlling resources; and strengthening ethical values… while elevating the population’s health.”

Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, minister of Public Health stated to Granma, “It is precisely this dedication to the health of the people - in every neighborhood clinic, policlinic, hospital and social institution - which makes our system an international reference.”

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Raúl receives President of Congo

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, yesterday afternoon, December 2, received the Honorable Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, who is making an official visit to Cuba.

During their meeting, the two leaders discussed the development of the countries 50-year relationship, and reiterated their commitment to broadening and strengthen ties. They also addressed issues on the international agenda, in particular the challenges presented by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Accompanying the distinguished visitor were Basile Ikouébé, minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, as well Pascal Onguemby, Congolese ambassador in Havana.

Also participating on the Cuban side were Salvador Valdés Mesa, a Council of State vice president; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of Foreign Relations; and Manuel M. Serrano Acosta, Cuban ambassador in the Republic of Congo.
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Champions welcomed home

• The return of the last group of athletes’ participating in the Veracruz Games coincided with the 58th anniversary of the Granma landing

Yesterday evening, December 1, Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz welcomed the last group of athletes, coaches, referees, medical personnel and other authorities returning from the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games, Veracruz 2014.

On the tarmac at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, Raúl, along with Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and José Ramón Fernández, head of Cuba’s Olympic Committee, greeted the victorious group and conversed with several of the champion wrestlers, boxers and members of the rowing and volleyball teams, among others.

The leader of Cuba’s delegation to Veracruz, Olympic champion wrestler Mijaín López Núñez, spoke for the athletes, expressing the joy he felt upon returning home, “having attained our medal of dignity.” He thanked the Cuban people for their support.

Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez commented, “We are often introduced to history via symbols, and it is very symbolic that we are on the eve of another anniversary of the Granma landing, and the establishment of our undefeated, glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces, and you are arriving to the homeland victorious and honorably.”

“Welcome to the homeland, champions, he concluded.

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Greater economic growth expected in 2015

Council of Ministers reviews 2015 economic plan, state budget, and progress in implementation of policy guidelines, additionally approving five new housing related measures

Leticia Martínez Hernández

“Next year, the Cuban economy will continue to progress despite the blockade, external financial restrictions and the international situation,” asserted Minister of the Economy Marino Murillo Jorge, during a November 28 Council of Ministers meeting, presided by President Raúl Castro Ruz.

The 2015 Economic Plan, Murillo reported, is fundamentally focused on maximizing efficiency; directing resources toward the recovery of basic sectors such as manufacturing; expanding investment in production and infrastructure; and maintaining social services at current levels.

According to the Ministry’s estimates, growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014 will be 1.3%, well below the predicted 2.2%. The sugar and manufacturing industries’ failure to meet projections had a significant impact on economic growth, Murillo said,

“Growth in the GDP for 2015 is projected as just above 4%, with which we return to previous modest rates,” he reported, with the greatest growth in manufacturing, construction, commerce, agriculture, livestock and forestry.

Projected for next year is an expenditure of 2.194 billion dollars to import food, 137 million more than in 2014, with greater imports of flour, soy beans, wheat and seed potatoes. On the other hand, purchases abroad of rice, beans and corn will be reduced, given the greater volumes being produced domestically.

The 2015 Plan projects the availability of adequate energy resources to meet the economy’s needs, without reducing domestic consumption, and the use of renewable resources to generate electricity should reach 4.6% of the total.

In regards to investment, Murillo reported that 7.159 billion pesos are projected, 1.59 billion more than in 2014, saying, “Investments in production represent 57.1% [of the total], and 17.7% for infrastructure.”

Retail sales increased, while the restructuring of the wholesale market with selected enterprises will continue, he said.

The Minister explained that, at the close of 2014, employment stands at 2% above the projected rate, fundamentally a result of an increase in the non-state sectors. Salaries increased 9.1%, reflecting raises approved for athletes and medical professionals, as well as in sectors benefiting from foreign investment, during the last months of the year.

Employment trends in 2015 are projected to be similar to this year’s, with the percentage of jobs in the state sector declining 2.6 %, while non-state employment should increase 7.4 %, principally as a result of state restaurant and service facilities being transferred to cooperative management.

2015 STATE BUDGET

As 2014 draws to a close, as is customary this time of year, the state budget for the coming period was presented to the Council of Ministers, and approved for submission to the National Assembly, where it will be considered during the month of December.

Lina Pedraza Rodríguez, minister of Finances and Prices, reported that a deficit in this year’s budget of 3.406 billion pesos is expected, lower than the legally established limit.

Among the principal projections for 2015 are an estimated 6% increase in income, and 10% in expenditures, for a deficit of 5.563 billion pesos, she said.

In 2015, measures will be implemented to strengthen enforcement of economic regulations, related to such issues as under-reporting of income on the part of self-employed workers, in sales, services, and especially housing rentals; misrepresentation of the number of workers employed by a private party; evasion of taxes on land transportation; and illegal economic activity.

Additionally, the Minister reported, policies providing financial benefits to increase productivity and efficiency in state enterprises will continue, noting that these have led to a significant decrease in budget expenditures required to cover losses.

Pedraza Rodríguez also reported that in accordance with the timeline established for implementation of new tax laws, a 2% tax on wholesale transactions will be levied in 2015, and provisions for local development taxes will be extended to all provinces.

IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW POLICIES REVIEWED

Also becoming customary this time of year is a report on the implementation of Policy Guidelines approved at the 2011 6th Party Congress, presented by Marino Murillo Jorge, head of the Policy Development and Implementation Permanent Commission.

He commented, “Extremely complex tasks impacting the population are being undertaken, requiring continual training of personnel, in addition to a systematic process of follow-up, supervision and enforcement.”

Murillo continued, “Partial results are being evaluated, with a view toward correcting, in a timely fashion, errors which could temporarily affect a part of the population, or give an erroneous impression of the objectives of the updating.”

According to the report, work continues on the proposed “Conception of the Cuban socio-economic model for socialist development” document, and approved were principles to guide the preparation of a long-term development program.

At the same time, Murillo reported, policies and plans have been approved for several key areas, including the use of renewable energy resources, attention to demographic changes, as well as foreign investment and the portfolio of projects available to potential investors.

He said that the most important task now being undertaken is to pave the way for the elimination of the country’s dual currency, mentioning that stores previously operating in CUC are now accepting payment in both currencies, a practice which will gradually be expanded throughout the country.

In regards to the granting of credit to the population, Murillo reported that, through October, some 378,000 loans were made for a total of 3.23 billion pesos. Of these, 63% were granted to individuals for home construction and repair; 35% to small farmers; and 2% to self-employed workers and non-agricultural cooperatives, and for the purchase of kitchen appliances.

Despite progress, he concluded, the new policy’s provisions have not been adequately utilized “as a mechanism to activate the economy.”

Among other issues, Murillo addressed the improvement of Cuba’s state enterprises, with policies being approved to afford greater autonomy in defining social objectives, commitments to the state, and sales of surplus production; as well as linking salaries to performance, and the elimination of administrative limits on pay increases; in addition to a new financial relationship with the state budget.

The Minister also reported that the creation of 498 non-agricultural cooperatives had been approved, 329 of which had been constituted, while 300 new proposals are being considered. Likewise, as of the end of September, more than 476,000 self-employed workers are registered.

HOUSING RETURNS TO THE AGENDA

The Council of Ministers addressed the housing issue as well, and approved measures to contribute to the solution of this complex problem.

Among these were modifications to regulations governing subsidies to individuals to construct or repair a home. New situations have emerged since these regulations went into effect a year ago, according to Leonardo Andollo Valdés, second in charge of the Policy Implementation and Development Permanent Commission.

From now on, for example, Municipal People’s Power Administrative Councils will conduct, as a minimum, two annual convocations for subsidy requests, in accordance with funds available. Decisions will be announced publicly.

Another approved measure legally recognizes perpetual rights to land where families, left homeless by hurricanes and other natural disasters, have been granted permission to build homes. Some 20,000 people, who began construction without required documents, will benefit and may now request subsidies.

Likewise approved was the transfer of state housing being constructed to individual households, who will undertake finishing on their own, giving priority to those affected by natural disasters, those living in shelters, and social cases.

The Council of Ministers also approved a new policy on transferring ownership of homes provided by the state, or basic dwellings built with subsidies, since cases have been detected in which such properties have been sold, when the state had provided them to address specific housing problems.

The amount of the subsidy provided must be returned to the state, if the property is sold, or donated, within the first 15 years after its acquisition.

When this happens in the case of dwellings provided by the state, a similar policy applies, and the state must be reimbursed for the cost of construction, in accordance with market prices.

Also approved was the development of a market based assessment reference, to be used to calculate taxes levied on sales and donations of dwellings. The 4% rate will be maintained in both instances.

This measure comes as a result of under-reporting of income by property sellers and buyers, who declare a sub-par price for a home, while sales have been masked as donations, which constitutes tax evasion, as well, Andollo Valdés commented.

The reference will define variables to be used to determine the value of a home, including number of bedrooms, type of construction, urban facilities available, neighborhood advantages, and the existence of a garage, patio or garden.

 


  • Editor-in-chief: Lázaro Barredo Medina / General Editor: Gustavo Becerra Estorino
    SPONSOR:
    Teledatos-Cubaweb. La Habana
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