Chinese President Makes Historical Visit to North Korea.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the 'Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries' on the sideline of the 2017 BRICS Summit

China is the North’s only major ally and the visit comes amid renewed tension on the Korean peninsula as the United States seeks to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, greeted Xi at the airport, Chinese state TV said. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and officials who played prominent roles in recent nuclear talks with the United States were also on hand.

Xi was driven through Pyongyang in a convertible car and greeted warmly by the crowds on his way to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a complex that serves as the mausoleum for North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, the report said.

President Xi was greeted by Kim and other top officials upon his arrival in the North Korean capital, becoming the first Chinese leader to visit the reclusive neighboring country in 14 years.

According to Chinese state media, President Xi began talks with the North Korean leader shortly after arriving Pyongyang on Thursday morning.

The trip is also an assertion of a key leverage point that China has in its deteriorating relationship with the United States, diplomats say.

“Comrade Xi Jinping is visiting…in the face of crucial and grave tasks due to complex international relations, which clearly shows the Chinese party and the government place high significance on the friendship,” the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

The trip highlights two-way ties that “never waver despite any headwinds,” and strengthens “blood ties” between the two peoples, it added in a front-page commentary.

Xi will hold a summit with Kim Jong Un, attend a welcoming banquet and watch a mass gymnastic performance on his first day, according to Chinese state media.

He is also expected to pay tribute at the Friendship Tower, which commemorates Chinese troops who fought together with North Koreans during the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, leaving the North technically still at war with South Korea.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Highlights Commitment to Workers’ Rights.

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Havana, June 20 (P L) Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez confirmed on Thursday the island’s commitment to protecting workers’ rights, social justice and decent jobs for all.

The Cuban FM recalled in his Twitter account those duties of his government, on occasion of the centennial of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the participation of Cuba’s first vice president, Salvador Valdes, at the 108th meeting of the International Labor Conference.

Rodriguez recalled that Cuba is a founding member and a State party to 90 ILO conventions.

Likewise, the Caribbean nation is one of the nine countries that participated in the drafting of the Constitution of the United Nations agency (Chapter 13th of the Versailles Peace Treaty).

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Cuban healthcare travels any distance.

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A visit with a young Cuban doctor, working in a remote community in Venezuela’s easternmost state, Delta Amacuro.

And where are you from?” That was the inevitable greeting in the presence of a young woman, small in statute, but undertaking work of a huge dimension. Her name: Edenys Reyes Galán. She was 27 years old and I met her at the doors of the Los Manacales Popular Medical Office (CMP), in Casacoima, one of the municipalities of Venezuela’s easternmost state, Delta Amacuro.

Cheerful and active, the young doctor, a Comprehensive General Medicine specialist, immediately answered: “I’m from Bayamo, the land of the Father of the Cuban Homeland.” Just thinking about the difference between that lively eastern Cuban city and this isolated place, surrounded by mountains and thick forests, I admired her sacrifice and dedication to what she did every day.

I discovered that she had been in Venezuela for 22 months, a year of which at this CMP in an extremely poor community, where she lived accompanied by a young man from the Into the Neighborhood Sports Mission. The two of them had the noble mission of attending inhabitants of the remote area, in which the “health house,” as some called it, was like a light in the dark.

Minutes later, she invited me to have a coffee, and we moved to the small kitchen of her home, which consisted of two bedrooms, plus the area where she cared for her patients, and the dispensary, converted into a kind of pharmacy. In the very well looked after backyard, stood a beautiful fruit tree and many flowers, in a tropical Cuban garden style.

Edenys tells me that one of the most difficult tasks she faced upon arriving was to complete a community health diagnosis, which consisted of walking for days, visiting each and every house, along inhospitable and unknown roads, where she had no idea that there were houses.

“We treat 10-15 patients daily, who come from distant places, but this is the only option they have to receive medical services. Previously they didn’t have any, and the main illnesses are still due to parasites they ingest from the water, and bad hygiene,” she explains.

“Now they at least know what measures to take to make the water more drinkable and look after themselves a little better.”

Respiratory problems are also recurrent, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, adolescent pregnancy, the doctor continued, while insisting that she must devote as much time as possible to educational talks, be it in people’s homes, or meetings organized with the support of the Communal Council, which are less frequent due to the distances between homes.

“I notice that the talks have had a great impact, especially among young people and adolescents. At first I had to take initiative, and learn a lot from their customs and ways of being, of talking, of living together, and I had to be very careful, win them over, make them feel that I am part of the family and that I just want to help them,” she stresses.

For the young collaborator, one of the most sensitive tasks she performs is the rehabilitation and care of bedridden patients, or those unable to travel to see her. Accompanied always by the Sports Mission teacher, she travels several kilometers a week to wherever she is most needed, and help injured or disabled people to recover and become reincorporated into society.

She clarifies: “This is perhaps one of the most difficult and humane actions that we carry out. Sometimes in the afternoon, after those long days, one is very tired, but we feel good due to their appreciation. A smile from one patient is enough to sleep peacefully, and wake up the next day with more energy. We can’t rest as long as there is someone who needs us.” Continue reading

Digital totalitarianism?

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The U.S. State Department has announced that anyone requesting a visa to travel to the country must submit their social media profiles, email addresses, and telephone numbers used in the last five years.

Are you thinking about traveling to the United States at some point? Well, you better think twice when expressing yourself on the Internet, posting, sharing, or giving a “like” on social media, sending an email or a WhatsApp message.

The U.S. State Department has announced that, beginning in June, anyone requesting a visa must submit their social media profiles, their email addresses, and telephone numbers they have used in the last five years. Obviously, passwords are not requested, since the government doesn’t need them, having free, back door access to the servers of the U.S. companies involved.

So, if you’re thinking about traveling to the U.S. – wherever you live, wherever you were born, whatever you think, you are obliged to hand over the U.S. government everything you have done and said on the Internet in the last five years. Of course, this information will be processed by powerful computers with algorithms to determine not only if you are likely to throw a Molotov cocktail at the White House, but to know all about your family history, friends, and personal life.

But there’s more! What’s worse is that a good portion of the planet’s inhabitants are going to think twice about expressing themselves. At least those among the 4.4 billion who use the Internet, who are in fact those who tend to travel, vote in elections, make purchases and socialize online. Those thinking about entering U.S. territory are going to consider limiting their political expression on the Internet, and some, millions, may be tempted to forego criticism and concentrate on praise.

Political expression in general is not being limited, but rather any type that may irritate the government issuing visas; the government whose policies are in fact the most universally denounced; the government of the country which with its economic power and extraordinarily influential cultural industry attracts the most immigrants and visitors.

It is a shame that an ideal space for the exchange of knowledge, for political participation as equals, for the facilitation of economic transactions and social interaction, could become history’s most far reaching instrument of censure, given its increasing concentration in few hands. Continue reading

Egyptian Newspaper Praises Cuba’s Stance against US Blockade.

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Cairo, Jun 17 (P L) The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram (The Pyramids), which has the largest circulation in the country, on Monday praised Cuba”s stance against the economic and financial imposed by the United States on the Caribbean island.
For 60 years, Cuba has remained strong against the unfair US economic embargo, which has caused losses for more than one billion dollars, the newspaper says in an article entitled ‘Cuba, a Friend in a Terrible Predicament’, by the renowned journalist Kamal Gaballa.

The text highlights the historic ties between Cuba and Egypt, as well as Havana’s stance in favor of the Arab causes at international forums, mainly in support of Palestine.

Cuba has always defended the Palestinian cause, in addition to welcoming thousands of Palestinians who study in its universities free of charge. On the other hand, it has repeatedly opposed the annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights by Israel,’ the article underlines.

According to Gaballa, those honorable stances by Cubans are deeply rooted in the minds of Egyptians and Arabs in general.

Now it is time to return to the Cuban friends the part that they have given us, to stand by them at these difficult times they are going through and, together, to stand up to the radical policies promoted by the Donald Trump administration, supported by personages like Marco Rubio, John Bolton and Mauricio Clavier, Al Ahram notes.

The newspaper recalls that on December 17, 2014, then US President Barack Obama admitted the failure of Washington’s traditional policy on Cuba and committed to participating in a debate in Congress to lift the embargo.

According to the publication, ‘President Trump has now reversed that progress, but the question is how will Trump be able to overthrow and humiliate the Cuban Revolution if all his predecessors have tried and failed?’

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Cuba Shares Experiences of Constitutional Process with China.

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Beijing, Jun 17 (P L) The secretary of the Council of State of Cuba, Homero Acosta, started a visit to China on Monday to explain the experiences resulting from the recent constitutional reform, characterized by its broad participation and democracy.

In an interview with Prensa Latina, Acosta, who is also a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), said that at his meetings with local leaders, he will share the experiences gathered in every stage of the process until its conclusion on April 10, when the new Constitution of the Republic was proclaimed.

The Constitution reaffirms Cuba’s socialist character and the PCC’s leading role in society, shows changes in the State’s structure, expands individual rights and guarantees, strengthens the people’s power from the grassroots (municipalities) and recognizes several forms of property, including the private property.

The new Constitution replaced the one approved in 1976. It contains 87 additional articles and nearly seven million Cubans supported it at the polls when they exercised their right to free, direct and secret voting.

Acosta added that he plans to learn about some initiatives implemented in China for several years, because Cuba has changed its institutional design and there are new figures within the higher apparatus of the State.

He expressed great expectations because his stay here is part of the continuity of fluid and permanent bilateral exchanges, and a historic, solid relationship that grows and gets deeper every day.

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Cuban Private Sector Hit Hard by Recent US Sanctions

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Un trabajador tira cigarros en la fábrica de Cohiba en La Habana

In May, Trump fully enforced the Helms-Burton Act’s Titles III and IV, suspended since 1996 that will expand the U.S. commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

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During the Craftmanshift Fair in La Rampa, Hector Danilo Rodriguez, union leader, told Prensa Latina that the situation was the result of Trump’s restrictions on travels to the Cuban territory, which impacts directly on tourism to the island.

“This (drop in sales) affects the payment of taxes and our families,” he said, adding that “the Helms-Burton Act affects us directly because we do not have access to the raw material we need, nor the production techniques, on the top of the fact that it makes tourism impossible.”

In May, Trump fully enforced the Helms-Burton Act’s Titles III and IV, suspended since 1996 that will expand U.S. commercial and financial blockade against Cuba. In 1996, former U.S. president Bill Clinton approved the Helms-Burton Act under the idea that the blockade against Cuba had an extra-territorial scope and was not limited just to the island.

Title III allows U.S. citizens, including Cubans who acquired their nationality, to file awsuits against foreign companies linked to properties nationalized after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, but it has never been activated. President Trump announced in March the U.S. would begin to enforce the measure, May 2.

The Helms-Burton Act’s Title IV prohibits entry into U.S territory people being sued under Title III.

The most likely short-term effect is the large-scale withdrawal of foreign investors from Cuba, a country whose economy has around US$2 billion in foreign investments.

In addition, the Trump administration has announced more travel restrictions to the island, rolling back measures made by the Barack Obama administration, and is limiting remittances to US$1,000 per person per fiscal quarter. As of June 5, U.S. citizens are prohibited from making group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” travel to Cuba, Secretary of Commerce Steve Mnuchin of the U.S. Treasury Department announced on March.

Cuban authorities have responded by developing six economic sectors: tourism, biotech and pharmaceutical industry, renewable energy, food production, professional services exports, and construction.

Hemingway’s Life and Work Brings Wwriters from Six Countries to Cuba

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Havana, Jun  (P L) Motivated by the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, researchers from six countries will gather in this capital to participate in the 17th International Colloquium on this American writer, Nobel Prize in Literature, event organizers reported.
According to the executive president of the meeting, to be held June 20 to 23, the colloquium will take place, this time dedicated to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of Hemingway’s first publication entitled Fiesta and the 90th of the emblematic Farewell to Arms.

Dedicated to promoting the exchange of information and comparing the results of recent research, the academic section of the meeting will include the presentation of 30 papers by scholars from Japan, Spain, Argentina, the United States, Israel and Cuba.

Other proposals include the screening of the documentary Hemingway: Between Key West and Cuba, directed by Richard Abella, as well as the inauguration of Jorge Duporte’s exhibition ‘The Ark of Hemingway’. Continue reading

US Coalition Demands the End of Sanctions against Cuba.

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Washington, June 13 (P L) In Washington, Metro DC Coalition in Solidarity with Cuban Revolution demanded on Thursday the end of all US sanctions against Cuba, including the new travel restrictions imposed last week.
Through a statement, the solidarity group regretted Donald Trump´s decision to prevent people to people group educational trips and to ban aircrafts and boats to go to Cuba, including cruises.

Metro DC Coalition indicated that these new restrictions are due to the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the latter in force since 1996, which allows US citizens to sue every foreigner or local investing in nationalized properties after the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959.

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China Launches Device for Early Cancer Detection.

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A laboratory researcher

A China-developed cancer detection device has been approved by national drug regulators and obtained market access this month.

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The gear is the product of 19 years of research and was created by scientists from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, located in the city of Wuhan the capital and largest city of the Chinese province of Hubei.

In May 2018, the National Medical Products Administration greenlighted the clinical trial, which tested its safety and effectiveness at two hospitals in Guangdong Province.

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