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March 29, 2012

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday beginning a three day trip in which the leader of the Catholic church met with Cuban leaders and publicly spoke on the need for religious freedom. Pope Benedict spoke before a large audience yesterday in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana. Benedict called for change in Cuba and the rest of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI
Image: Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. (2010)

Cquote1.svg Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity. Cquote2.svg

—Pope Benedict XVI

“Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he said.

Benedict’s arrival in Cuba comes 14 years after the first papal visit by Pope John Paul II. The late pope addressed the nation in 1998 and said that Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.” Benedict’s speech in Havana focused on the rise of religious freedom in Cuba since the 1990s – when the country dropped official atheism – as well as the need for more religious freedom in the country.

“It is with joy that in Cuba there have been steps so that the church can carry out its mission. … The right to freedom of religion, as an individual and a community, manifests the unity of a human being, citizen and believer at the same time,” he said.

While Benedict kept the speech mostly apolitical, during the trip he made comments that could be interpreted as criticism of the communist country.

“There are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in ‘their truth’ and try to impose it on others,” Benedict said.

Also during the trip, the pope prayed for greater freedom for Cubans at the statue of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre in Santiago. The pope also said Cuba’s political system “no longer corresponds to reality.”

Cquote1.svg In Cuba, there will not be political reform. Cquote2.svg

Marino Murillo

In response, Marino Murillo, vice president of the island’s council of ministers, said Cuba is sustainable and will not change. “In Cuba, there will not be political reform,” Murillo said.

According to groups on the island, 60 individuals were detained or put on house arrest during Pope Benedict’s televised Mass. Amnesty International also reported that Cuban human rights organizations, such as the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, were unable to communicate via phones or mobile-phones starting Monday.

Cquote1.svg … some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour. Cquote2.svg

—Amnesty International

“The clampdown has seself in84 csor charrests, activists’ phones have been disconnected, and some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour,” Amnesty International said.

In addition to visiting various cities in Cuba and celebrating Mass in Havana, Benedict also met with former Cuban President Fidel Castro yesterday. According to a Vatican spokesman, Castro asked for a “modest and simple” meeting with the pontiff. The two spoke for 30 minutes in which the former president – who stepped down in 2006 due to illness – asked the pope about the evolution of the Catholic church over the years and what life is like as a pope.

Castro spoke of the pope in a positive light: “…a man whose contact with children and humble members of society has, invariably, raised feelings of affection.”

Pope Benedict left Cuba Wednesday evening.



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March 9, 2011

Che Guevara\’s \’\’Motorcycle Diaries\’\’ companion dies

Che Guevara’s ”Motorcycle Diaries” companion dies

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alberto Jiménez in 2007

Alberto Granado Jiménez, the Argentinian biochemist who was Che Guevara‘s companion on his transformative motorcycle trip through South America, died in Havana on Saturday, reported Cuban state television. He was 88 and died of natural causes.

The politically active Jiménez met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, then a medical student, in Hernando, Argentina where Guevara had gone to play rugby. Both were intellectually curious and interested in exploration. In 1951 they set out on an eight-month motorcycle trip through South American that exposed them to the poverty in which most South Americans lived. The pair worked in a leprosy colony and met wtih destitute miners and indigenous people. Both men kept diaries which served as the basis for the 2004 film, The Motorcycle Diaries, produced by Robert Redford and directed by Walter Salles.

According to the Guardian, “Their road trip awoke in Guevara a social consciousness and political convictions that would turn him into one of the iconic revolutionaries of the 20th century.” The trip is widely believed to have inspired Guevara to go to Cuba and join Fidel Castro in his 1959 revolt against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

By the time the two men met again eight years later, Guevara was a revolutionary hero and chief of Cuba’s central bank. Jiménez, who had remained in Argentina working in a clinic, accepted Guevara’s invitation to move to Cuba in 1961 and founded a medical facility in Santiago. Later he moved to Havana where he continued his medical work. The two remained friends although they did not always agree. Jiménez rejected Guevara’s belief that social reform in Latin America had to be accomplished through guerrilla warfare.

The book The Motorcycle Diaries was published in the 1990’s. Jiménez said of the book that it inspired the image of the young Che as a romantic figure.

Jiménez authored the book Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary, published in 2003.



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June 3, 2009

Organization of American States votes to lift Cuba suspension

Organization of American States votes to lift Cuba suspension

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

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News outlets are reporting that the Organization of American States (OAS) has voted to rescind the 1962 suspension of Cuba. The Washington D.C. based organization had suspended the island nation in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro led the successful overthrow of the U.S. backed Batista government. At the time, the organization cited the incompatibility of Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist doctrine with its own charter.

Since Cuba’s suspension the U.S. government has stated that any lifting of the ban would depend upon both developments of personal freedoms and democratic reforms on the island. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had stated at the OAS meeting that “membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities;” however, the U.S. delegation left before the final vote citing the inability of the organization to reach an agreement on the issue of Cuba.

Many Latin American governments, most of whom have long since called for the lifting of the Cuban suspension without precondition, have applauded the vote. Honduran President Zelaya declared that “the cold war has ended,” while the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Fander Falconí, stated that “this is a moment of rejoicing for all of Latin America.” Falconí was careful to clarify that although the vote itself was voted upon “without conditions,” it was not an open invitation to the Cuban government to take a seat at the organization. The vote removes the ban upon Cuba’s membership, but OAS member states must still satisfy OAS requirements and conventions on human rights.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said that the United States had worked to ensure “the return of Cuba to participation in the OAS will be done consistent with the principles and purposes of the democracy and human rights.”



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March 4, 2009

Raúl Castro shakes up cabinet in Cuba

Raúl Castro shakes up cabinet in Cuba – Wikinews, the free news source

Raúl Castro shakes up cabinet in Cuba

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

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On Monday, Raúl Castro, the President of Cuba, announced several changes of ministers in his cabinet. This is the first major reshuffle since Raúl took over as President after his brother Fidel Castro. A total of twelve ministers were replaced.

Raúl Castro in 2008.
Image: Agência Brasil.

One of the highest profile changes was Carlos Lage Dávila, the executive secretary of the Council of Ministers, who was replaced by General José Amado Ricardo Guerra. According to senior research associate at the University of Miami, José Azel, Lage was responsible for rescuing the Cuban economy from the downturn that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was not announced whether Lage will continue to serve in his other position as the vice president of the Council of State of Cuba.

“It looks like Raúl putting some of his own people in,” said Wayne Smith, who heads the Cuba program at the Center for International Policy. Smith added that this “is the biggest shake-up that I’ve seen in a very long time … for the last 30 or 40 years.”

“This is one more sign that Raúl Castro is consolidating his power,” José Azel said. “He’s putting his people in there.”

“It is a new direction, we’re just not clear what direction Castro is planning — a return to communist orthodoxy or pragmatism? However, Castro does seem to be trying to put in position people closer to him than to his brother, Fidel,” said Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor, Lucia Newman.

Among other ministers replaced were foreign minister Felipe Pérez Roque, finance minister Georgina Barreiro Fajardo, labor minister Alfredo Morales Cartaya, and economy minister Jose Luis Rodriguez.



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January 26, 2009

Bolivia\’s Evo Morales wins referendum on a new leftist constitution

Bolivia’s Evo Morales wins referendum on a new leftist constitution

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Monday, January 26, 2009 File:Schafik handal con fidel.jpg

Schafik Hándal, Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro and Bolivia President Evo Morales in Havana, 2004.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, 49, has claimed victory after voters ratified a new leftist constitution, granting more power to the country’s indigenous majority.

“The indigenous farmers, the most marginalized sector throughout the history of the republic, are now recognized as people with the same rights as any citizen. Here begins the new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality,” Morales told a crowd in front of the flag-draped balcony of Palacio Quemado in La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia.

Ratified with about 60 percent support in a referendum on Sunday based on exit polls, the new constitution lets Morales run for re-election later this year and grants him tighter control over the economy. An official vote count of some 3.8 million registered voters who cast their ballots will be announced February 4.

With the new Magna Carta, South America’s second poorest country after Guyana becomes a leader in the regional “pink tide” of left-wing governments that have ousted traditional elites and challenged American influence. The new constitution’s elements include recognition of 36 distinct Indian “nations”, increasing the autonomy of Bolivia’s nine regions, establishing state control over key natural resources such as gas, and setting limits on land ownership.

Palacio Quemado, the Bolivian Palace of Government, located on Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz.

Morales has also promised Bolivia’s native groups that the constitution will keep the white “oligarchs” who ruled the country for 183 years from returning to power. The leftist constitution empowers the government to distribute land to indigenous communities and apportion ethnic quotas for state jobs, including congress seats. “After 500 years, we have retaken the Plaza Murillo! Internal colonialism and external colonialism end here too. Sisters and brothers, neo-liberalism ends here too!” said Morales.

Vice-President Álvaro MarceloGarcía Linera, a principal author of the draft constitution, hailed Sunday’s referendum results, saying, “this will be an egalitarian Bolivia, a Bolivia that leaves behind a dark, colonial, racist past.” Linera, however, has acknowledged that the government has provoked deep divisions and faces vehement oppositions from many of the traditional elite, coming from many mixed-race people in the fertile eastern lowlands which rejected the draft charter.

“I am not saying there will be no more conflict, there will be tensions for a while, I say a decade … but we will have built a state on three principles: the economy under state control, equality, and the territorial decentralization of power,” he said. The new constitution was rejected in four opposition-controlled regions: the tropical lowlands of Pando, Santa Cruz, Tarija and Beni, which contain most of Bolivia’s natural gas production and are responsible for most of its agricultural output.

Cquote1.svg There will be tensions for a while, I say a decade… but we will have built a state on three principles: the economy under state control, equality, and the territorial decentralization of power. Cquote2.svg

—Bolivian Vice-President Álvaro MarceloGarcía Linera, on reactions to the new constitution.

With the split vote, Oscar Ortiz, the president of the opposition-controlled Senate, has voiced concerns that the charter has become a war of ideas. “The result [of the vote] … will show deep divisions between regions and between Bolivians in each region. A confrontation between ideas and visions about how this country will build its common future will continue,” he said ahead of the referendum.

Álvaro Marcelo García Linera vice-president of Bolivia, with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil

Former president Carlos Mesa has predicted that the constitution is unlikely to pave the way for real social change amid continuing political struggles. “We will have so many legal battles to go through that I fear that last year’s belligerent climate will continue this year. President Morales is not coming at this with open hands, he has built trenches and dug in,” Mr. Mesa said.

Morales has dismissed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, accusing both of conspiracy with the opposition to overthrow his government. The U.S. Embassy in La Paz has called the accusations “false and absurd.” Morales has been very popular among the poor and among Aymara, Quechua and Guarani.

The new constitution’s 411 articles address underrepresentation of indigenous peoples. “It may be the equivalent of Spain’s Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors in 1492. But instead of the blood spilled in that process, Bolivia is advancing in a democratic process that does not exclude or subjugate anyone,” said Xavier Albó, a Jesuit scholar and linguist.

“Finally we have a constitution that leaves racism and hatred aside, because indigenous people are included,” said Adolfo Chavez, president of the Confederation of Indigenous people of Bolivia (CIDOB).

Morales’ ascent to presidency

In March 2005, then-President Mesa resigned. The President of Senate Hormando Vaca Díez assumed office as the country’s temporary President. Mesa resigned because of the announcement of highway blockages by Evo Morales and leaders of both the coca growers and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS). The blockages were meant to pressure the Legislative so that the Hydrocarbons Law, which would raise taxes levied on hydrocarbon extraction from 18% to 50%, could be approved.

Former Bolivia President Carlos Mesa

The MAS is a political party formed basically by coca-growing campesinos (farmers or farmworkers), communists, admirers of Fidel Castro and indigenous people. The party is against the U.S. government and the alleged American influence in the region, neoliberalism and globalization.

In December 2005, Morales won the presidential election in Bolivia to serve a five-year term. In the 2005 election, his victory marked the country’s first election of an indigenous head of state, but this claim gendered controversy due to the number of mestizo presidents who were elected or appointed before him. He was openly criticized by such figures as Mario Vargas Llosa, who accuses the President of fomenting racial divisions in an increasingly mestizo Latin America.

Morales ran on a campaign of restoring coca farming in Bolivia, in spite of the U.S. program aimed at reducing the ability to grow coca to curb the cocaine industry. Morales is an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer himself, and has described his victory as a signal that “a new history of Bolivia begins, a history where we search for equality, justice and peace with social justice.”

Morales is an admirer of Fidel Castro and he says he is also inspired by the President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Morales supports the creation of an anti-imperialist block formed by Latin-American and Arabian countries against the U.S., which is being organized by the Brazilian President.

2008 unrest in Bolivia

In August 2008, Bolivian unrest began against Morales and calls for greater autonomy for the country’s eastern departments grew. Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca called strikes and protests to oppose the central government’s plan to divert part of the national direct tax on hydrocarbons in favor of its Renta Dignidad pension plan. Brief clashes occurred in the Santa Cruz de la Sierra between police and armed youths enforcing the strike. Violence between Morales’ supporters and opponents resulted in at least 30 deaths.

In September 2008, Bolivian authorities declared a state of emergency in Pando, where Bolivian troops took control of the airport in the region’s capital, Cobija. Amid preparations to retake the city, 20 people were killed. In October 2008, the government and the opposition held talks following which resulted in the signing of a compromise agreement which set the referendum on 25 January 2009 and early elections on December 6, 2009.

Morales in turn promised that he would not run again in 2014 after his likely reelection in 2009, despite the fact that he would be allowed to do so under the new constitution. The new constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly in 2007. The referendum set forth two questions: whether to approve the new constitution and whether to limit private estates to 1,000 or 5,000 hectares.



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Bolivia’s Evo Morales wins referendum on a new leftist constitution

Other stories from Bolivia
…More articles here
Location of Bolivia

A map showing the location of Bolivia

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Bolivia, see the Bolivia Portal

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, 49, has claimed victory after voters ratified a new leftist constitution, granting more power to the country’s indigenous majority.

“The indigenous farmers, the most marginalized sector throughout the history of the republic, are now recognized as people with the same rights as any citizen. Here begins the new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality,” Morales told a crowd in front of the flag-draped balcony of Palacio Quemado in La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia.

Ratified with about 60 percent support in a referendum on Sunday based on exit polls, the new constitution lets Morales run for re-election later this year and grants him tighter control over the economy. An official vote count of some 3.8 million registered voters who cast their ballots will be announced February 4.

With the new Magna Carta, South America‘s second poorest country after Guyana becomes a leader in the regional “pink tide” of left-wing governments that have ousted traditional elites and challenged American influence. The new constitution’s elements include recognition of 36 distinct Indian “nations”, increasing the autonomy of Bolivia’s nine regions, establishing state control over key natural resources such as gas, and setting limits on land ownership.

Palacio Quemado, the Bolivian Palace of Government, located on Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz.

Morales has also promised Bolivia’s native groups that the constitution will keep the white “oligarchs” who ruled the country for 183 years from returning to power. The leftist constitution empowers the government to distribute land to indigenous communities and apportion ethnic quotas for state jobs, including congress seats. “After 500 years, we have retaken the Plaza Murillo! Internal colonialism and external colonialism end here too. Sisters and brothers, neo-liberalism ends here too!” said Morales.

Vice-President Álvaro MarceloGarcía Linera, a principal author of the draft constitution, hailed Sunday’s referendum results, saying, “this will be an egalitarian Bolivia, a Bolivia that leaves behind a dark, colonial, racist past.” Linera, however, has acknowledged that the government has provoked deep divisions and faces vehement oppositions from many of the traditional elite, coming from many mixed-race people in the fertile eastern lowlands which rejected the draft charter.

“I am not saying there will be no more conflict, there will be tensions for a while, I say a decade … but we will have built a state on three principles: the economy under state control, equality, and the territorial decentralization of power,” he said. The new constitution was rejected in four opposition-controlled regions: the tropical lowlands of Pando, Santa Cruz, Tarija and Beni, which contain most of Bolivia’s natural gas production and are responsible for most of its agricultural output.

There will be tensions for a while, I say a decade… but we will have built a state on three principles: the economy under state control, equality, and the territorial decentralization of power.

—Bolivian Vice-President Álvaro MarceloGarcía Linera, on reactions to the new constitution.

With the split vote, Oscar Ortiz, the president of the opposition-controlled Senate, has voiced concerns that the charter has become a war of ideas. “The result [of the vote] … will show deep divisions between regions and between Bolivians in each region. A confrontation between ideas and visions about how this country will build its common future will continue,” he said ahead of the referendum.

Álvaro Marcelo García Linera vice-president of Bolivia, with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil

Former president Carlos Mesa has predicted that the constitution is unlikely to pave the way for real social change amid continuing political struggles. “We will have so many legal battles to go through that I fear that last year’s belligerent climate will continue this year. President Morales is not coming at this with open hands, he has built trenches and dug in,” Mr. Mesa said.

Morales has dismissed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, accusing both of conspiracy with the opposition to overthrow his government. The U.S. Embassy in La Paz has called the accusations “false and absurd.” Morales has been very popular among the poor and among Aymara, Quechua and Guarani.

The new constitution’s 411 articles address underrepresentation of indigenous peoples. “It may be the equivalent of Spain’s Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors in 1492. But instead of the blood spilled in that process, Bolivia is advancing in a democratic process that does not exclude or subjugate anyone,” said Xavier Albó, a Jesuit scholar and linguist.

“Finally we have a constitution that leaves racism and hatred aside, because indigenous people are included,” said Adolfo Chavez, president of the Confederation of Indigenous people of Bolivia (CIDOB).

Morales’ ascent to presidency

In March 2005, then-President Mesa resigned. The President of Senate Hormando Vaca Díez assumed office as the country’s temporary President. Mesa resigned because of the announcement of highway blockages by Evo Morales and leaders of both the coca growers and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS). The blockages were meant to pressure the Legislative so that the Hydrocarbons Law, which would raise taxes levied on hydrocarbon extraction from 18% to 50%, could be approved.

Former Bolivia President Carlos Mesa

The MAS is a political party formed basically by coca-growing campesinos (farmers or farmworkers), communists, admirers of Fidel Castro and indigenous people. The party is against the U.S. government and the alleged American influence in the region, neoliberalism and globalization.

In December 2005, Morales won the presidential election in Bolivia to serve a five-year term. In the 2005 election, his victory marked the country’s first election of an indigenous head of state, but this claim gendered controversy due to the number of mestizo presidents who were elected or appointed before him. He was openly criticized by such figures as Mario Vargas Llosa, who accuses the President of fomenting racial divisions in an increasingly mestizo Latin America.

Morales ran on a campaign of restoring coca farming in Bolivia, in spite of the U.S. program aimed at reducing the ability to grow coca to curb the cocaine industry. Morales is an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer himself, and has described his victory as a signal that “a new history of Bolivia begins, a history where we search for equality, justice and peace with social justice.”

Morales is an admirer of Fidel Castro and he says he is also inspired by the President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Morales supports the creation of an anti-imperialist block formed by Latin-American and Arabian countries against the U.S., which is being organized by the Brazilian President.

2008 unrest in Bolivia

In August 2008, Bolivian unrest began against Morales and calls for greater autonomy for the country’s eastern departments grew. Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca called strikes and protests to oppose the central government’s plan to divert part of the national direct tax on hydrocarbons in favor of its Renta Dignidad pension plan. Brief clashes occurred in the Santa Cruz de la Sierra between police and armed youths enforcing the strike. Violence between Morales’ supporters and opponents resulted in at least 30 deaths.

In September 2008, Bolivian authorities declared a state of emergency in Pando, where Bolivian troops took control of the airport in the region’s capital, Cobija. Amid preparations to retake the city, 20 people were killed. In October 2008, the government and the opposition held talks following which resulted in the signing of a compromise agreement which set the referendum on 25 January 2009 and early elections on December 6, 2009.

Morales in turn promised that he would not run again in 2014 after his likely reelection in 2009, despite the fact that he would be allowed to do so under the new constitution. The new constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly in 2007. The referendum set forth two questions: whether to approve the new constitution and whether to limit private estates to 1,000 or 5,000 hectares.


Related news

  • “Evo Morales wins presidential elections in Bolivia”. Wikinews, December 19, 2005
  • “The President of Bolivia resigns”. Wikinews, March 8, 2005

Sources

Wikipedia
Learn more about Evo Morales and the 2009 constitutional referendum on Wikipedia.
  • Terry Wade “Bolivia’s Morales wins referendum, faces long fight”. Reuters, January 26, 2009
  • Dan Keane “Bolivian voters back pro-indigenous constitution”. Associated Press, January 26, 2009
  • Simon Romero “Bolivians Ratify New Constitution”. New York Times, January 25, 2009
  • “Bolivia, opposition agree on referendum, Morales term limit”. Agence France-Presse, October 20, 2008
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June 12, 2008

Cuba reforms wage laws to pay workers based on amount done

Cuba reforms wage laws to pay workers based on amount done

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cuba
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Cuba has reformed its wage system to pay workers on the basis of productivity. The communist state had previously paid all workers the same, and has done since the 1959 revolution.

The move, announced by Vice-Minister for Labour Carlos Mateu, is one of a series of changes introduced by Raul Castro, who took over from ill brother Fidel Castro. Mateu stated in Granma, the Communist Party of Cuba’s newspaper, that workers who met targets would get a minimum bonus of 5%, that there would be no maximum salary and that managers whose teams increased production could receive a 30% bonus.

He said that there was previously no incentive for workers to work hard since they were always paid the same. Curently, the average wage for any profession is around US$20 (~€13) per month. It has been suggested by the media that this reform marks a possible break away from socialist and marxist principles, since previous reforms only lifted restrictions on ownership of luxury goods.

“It’s harmful to give a worker less than he deserves, it’s also harmful to give him what he doesn’t deserve,” commented Granma.



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February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro resigns as Cuban president

Fidel Castro resigns as Cuban president – Wikinews, the free news source

Fidel Castro resigns as Cuban president

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

File:Fidel Castro 102006.jpg
Fidel Castro in October 2006.

Fidel Castro, the Cuban president who seized power in a 1959 revolution, has stated in a quote in Cuba’s state-run newspaper Granma that when the National Assembly of Cuba meets on February 24 he “will not aspire to or accept… the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief.”

81-year-old Castro handed over control to his 76-year-old brother Raúl when he underwent surgery in July 2006. “It would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to offer,” Castro explained.

United States President George W. Bush said, “I believe that the change from Fidel Castro ought to begin a period of democratic transition.” Although, John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, said that this does not mean that the 1962 trade embargo will be lifted “any time soon.”

European Union said that it hopes to improve relations with Cuba, which were almost at a standstill under Castro. Spokesperson John Clancy said the EU is willing to engage with Cuba in constructive dialogue to foster a peaceful transition to pluralistic democracy in Cuba.

China said it will maintain its current cooperation with Cuba and termed Fidel Castro an old friend. A spokesperson for the foreign ministry of Vietnam similarly praised Castro as a great friend and comrade.

BBC reports that Raúl Castro is seen by analysts as the likely choice as successor by the National Assembly, though some see 56-year-old Carlos Lage Dávila as potential candidate. Lage is currently Vice-President and Executive Secretary of the Council of Ministers.

The decision is scheduled for February 24, 2008.



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December 27, 2006

Surgeon declares that Fidel Castro does not have cancer

Surgeon declares that Fidel Castro does not have cancer

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

File:Fidel Castro 102006.jpg
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz in October 2006

José Luis García Sabrido, the chief surgeon at Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid who treated 80-year-old Fidel Castro last week, announced that the intestinal bleeding which led to surgery was not caused from cancer. Rather, he had a “benign illness” with a series of complications. He is currently recovering from a serious operation. When asked if Castro had cancer, Sabrido responded, “From what I know, I absolutely deny it.”

Sabrido refuses to declare which caused Castro’s illness, keeping in the Cuban government’s wishes, however The New York Times says diverticulitis is a common, non-cancerous cause of intestinal bleeding.

US politicians still believe that Castro is seriously ill; there is speculation in Washington and among Cuban exiles that Castro has colon cancer. John D. Negroponte, the United States Director of National Intelligence, told The Washington Post that Castro is “terminally ill” and will be dead in “months, not years.”

Fidel Castro transferred his position to his brother Raul on July 31 due to intestinal surgery. The Cuban government has since kept his health situation relatively secret; this is the first time a medical expert outside the Cuban government has commented on his health since he dropped from the public view in July.

According to recent reports, Castro will be healthy enough to be President of Cuba again.

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December 9, 2006

Cuban leader Fidel Castro congratulates Hugo Chavez

Cuban leader Fidel Castro congratulates Hugo Chavez

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

Cuban leader Fidel Castro congratulated Hugo Chávez, on December 4, for the great electoral success in the elections held in Venezuela. Castro underlined Venezuela’s great experience of building socialism in Latin America and the support of poorest people of the continent to this politics.

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