President Michelle Bachelet Arrives in Cuba on Official Visit

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arrived in Cuba yesterday to pay a two-day official visit, during which she will meet with the country's highest authorities and will carry out other activities.

Shortly after 06:00 hours, local time, today, the plane of the Chilean Air Force that brought the head of State and her delegation landed at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.

She was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra and other officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as diplomats from the Chilean Embassy in Havana.

According to her agenda, Bachellet will meet on Sunday with artists and intellectuals, and the official welcome ceremony will be held on Monday, when she will lay a wreath at Monument to Cuban National Hero Jose Marti at Revolution Square, will participate in a business forum and will visit the Salvador Allende Pedagogical School.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said that the Caribbean island shares Bachelet's interest in consolidating and developing economic-commercial and cooperation relations, in addition to promoting investments.

Cuba and Chile, whose relations are in a good state, are united by long-term historic ties.

In 1971, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, visited Chile during Salvador Allende's government. It was the first official visit by a Cuban president to Santiago.

At the time, Allende said that Cuba is linked 'to the history of Latin America, Fidel Castro represents an authentic revolution and we want to intensify the traditional friendly ties that have always existed between our countries.'

The latest collaboration between the two countries took place after the earthquakes that shook Rancagua on February 27, 2010, and Valparaiso on April 24, 2017, when brigades from the International Contingent of Doctors were sent to assist Chileans.

Bachelet was Chile's president during a first term (2006-2010) and was elected for the second time for the 2014-2018 term.

The Chilean leader, who was the first pro tempore president of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), will be succeeded by Sebatian Piñera on March 11, who will repeat at La Moneda after winning the December elections runoff.

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Minister of Timor Leste Rejects US Blockade To Cuba

Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor Leste, Aurelio Guterres, expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people and government, and hopes for the end of the commercial and financial economic blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

In a letter addressed to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, the minister stated that, as a member of the United Nations Organization, Timor Leste warns of the need to end that measure, to safeguard the rights of Cubans and access to the necessary goods.

As a sign of the principles of reciprocity and good relations, Timor Leste expresses its support for the people and opposition to the blockade of the US government, he added.

The US blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba since February 7, 1962 and converted into law in 1992 and 1995, is considered a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people and qualifies as an act of genocide.

At the same time, this policy constitutes the greatest obstacle to the implementation of the country's National Economic and Social Development Plan, and to the development in general of all the potentialities of the economy.

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Evo Morales Highlights Cuba's Resistance to U.S. Hostility

Bolivian President Evo Morales has highlighted Cuba's resistance to the hostility of the U.S. government, which has maintained the economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba for more than 50 years.

In a message on his Twitter account, the Bolivian leader praised the dignity and sovereignty of Cubans in the face of U.S. interference.

He recalled events that mark the historical relations between the Caribbean nation and the U.S., marked by interference and an unsuccessful imperial logic.

He mentioned the rupture of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba on January 3, 1961 and the first defeat of imperialism in Americas at Playa Girón -- the Bay of Pigs -- in April of the same year.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

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Cuba: new immigration measures come into force

On January first new migratory measures approved in October 2017 came into force and are part of the continuous and irreversible updating process Cuba started 5 years ago.

Granma newspaper highlights today the elimination of the "Habilitation" of the passport for the Cuban emigrants' trips to Cuba and the authorization of the entry and exit to Cuba of Cuban citizens residing abroad in pleasure boats, through the International Tourist Marinas Hemingway and Gaviota-Varadero, are part of the rules that begin to govern.

Likewise, the permit to enter the country of Cuban citizens who left illegally with the exception of those who did it through the United States Naval Base in Guantánamo is established.

The requirement of accommodation is also waived so that children of Cubans living abroad, who were born abroad, can obtain Cuban citizenship and their identity document.

It is noteworthy to say that the new measures do not eliminate the requirement to travel to Cuba with a Cuban passport for those born in the county that has acquired another citizenship.

Similarly, it must be clarified that the authorization and the extension of the passport are not the same thing, and the second is maintained, in accordance with current legislation that establishes that the current passport is valid for two years and can be extended for the same term until a total of six years.

Another necessary precision is that, in the case of doctors or other collaborators who have left the mission they were to fulfill abroad, they are not included in these provisions because they went out legally.

However, since September 2015 the Ministry of Public Health approved that, in the case of doctors, those who wish may rejoin the tasks of the National Health System, where they will have similar conditions to those they had.

The decisions adopted are part of the efforts that the country is making in order to further strengthen relations with its emigration, a process initiated in 1978 by the Commander in Chief of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

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UNESCO congratulates Cuba for 59 anniversary of the revolution

The Organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), congratulated Cuba for the 59 anniversary of the victory of the Revolution and expressed the willingness to further strengthen ties with this Caribbean nation.

According to Prensa Latina, UNESCO recognized the traditional active role of Cuba for the promotion of international cooperation in the fields of competence of that entity.

A statement released today by the Permanent Delegation of Havana before that body of the United Nations stressed that in 2017 this country and UNESCO celebrated 70 years of fruitful relationship.

Within that framework had carried out many activities that contributed to recognize and give visibility to the achievements of the revolution in the various sectors of the organization's mandate, indicated the text.

In this regard, points to the tribute to the prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, during the tour of the National Ballet of Cuba by France last July.

It also refers to the recognition of the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, Artist for Peace of UNESCO, on the occasion of the inauguration of his photographic exhibition tour of the Neighborhoods, held in December at the headquarters of the multilateral body.

As another important event adds the celebration of the International Day of Jazz in Havana, as well as the Cuban cultural day which included the exhibition offerings, for the plastic artist Silvia Rivero, and a special presentation of the musician José María Vitier and soprano Barbara Llanes, at UNESCO Headquarters.

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Belarus interested in close cooperation with Cuba

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has sent greetings to President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba Raul Castro Ruz as the country celebrates the 59th anniversary of the liberation of the Republic of Cuba, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian leader.

“An authentic and independent path of the Cuban people was not easy. Cubans protected their identity, stayed loyal to the ideals of the Revolution, and enhanced the country's positions on the international arena,” the message of greetings reads.

The head of state stressed that Belarus will be always committed to friendship and close cooperation with Cuba.

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Quality education: a permanent challenge

The current school period has been characterized by the implementation of the third improvement process in General Education and the total integration of universities.

These days the farewell to the old year and the arrival of another summon to the review of some of the most significant stages and moments of a school period characterized by the implementation of the Third Improvement Process in General Education and the total integration of universities.

In this brief look it is also worth mentioning that Hurricane Irma –which affected the country a few days after the start of the school year– damaged a large number of the centers' infrastructure. In general education it affected 2,264 schools (of the more than 60,000 that exist) alone, and so far 78 percent of them has been recovered.

This situation caused that around 510 educational institutions to become evacuation centers, in which more than 50,000 people were assisted by pedagogical groups, executives, teachers and service workers, who stayed there before and after the passage of the devastating hurricane.

It is feasible to mention that even when 2017 ends, this is not the case with the school year, since it does not coincide with the fiscal year. However, from September to date, the country has celebrated dates of great historical significance, such as the first anniversary of the physical disappearance of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz (November), and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Che, in Bolivia (October).

Hence the permanent call upon the study of the thought of these two great men of the country's history.

Third improvement process: A medium-and-long-term task

The extension of the improvement process of the national educational system –which is being experimented in 68 centers of six provinces of the different educational levels three years ago– is nowadays a reality in 152 institutions of the country.

According to Silvia Navarro Quintero, director of the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences, the experience is carried out (in a staggered way) in 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th, that is, in the initial grades of each educational level, so that in three courses the entire education system will have been incorporated, including Early Childhood (previously preschool), and Technical and Professional Education, Special Education and Adult Education.

She said, "The improvement itself is worth it," especially in terms of updating textbooks, content, in terms of contextualizing what the child, adolescent, young people must learn in line with the transformations and social economic development.

Likewise, it is in line with the social demands and with the model of society needed today from the Guidelines of the Economic, Political and Social Policy of the Party and the Objectives of its First Conference.

Along with this task, the Ministry of Education also has among its priorities the training and qualification of the teaching staff, so last September two other pedagogical schools joined the existing 24, which have graduated more than 14,000 young people.

The head of the sector stressed, on more than one occasion, the importance of addressing this issue, because today around 18 percent of the teaching force that is in the classrooms does not have university titles.

If we manage that by 2020 -she said- a good part of these young people leave Higher Education centers, then we can count on more than 90 percent of our professors with university level, which will contribute to the quality of the teaching-educational process.

On the other hand, technical and professional education (ETP Spanish acronym) is constantly growing in order to meet the demand for skilled labor in all sectors of society, including the non-state sector of the economy.

Alexander Manso –department head of the ETP– said that today this education includes 103 specialties, 54 in the medium-technician category and 49 of qualified workers, and exhibits a cycle retention of 81.6 percent. This means that every 100 students only a bit more than 81 managed to graduate.

Rationality in resources and work force

Integration has characterized the work of Higher Education in recent years. In September, Cuban universities began the school year with this process concluded.

Of 69 centers and more than 200 faculties that existed, today these figures have been reduced to 50 and 160, respectively. Likewise, of the 12 Bodies of the Central Administration of the State (OACE Spanish acronym) that had affiliated Higher Education institutions, they are only seven now.

In the last session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the deputy minister of the branch, Gil Ramón González, mentioned some advantages of the integration, among which highlights go to the rise in quality management. For example, in 2014, only 7 pedagogical careers were accredited, but by the end of 2017 they are already 24.

The process has also influenced the positive impact on the staffs and the improvement of the cadres; the increase in enrollments and in research and innovation projects; the takeoff of educational technology; the reduction of the workforce by more than 10 percent, as well as the more rational use of infrastructure, laboratories and equipment for common use.

One element worth highlighting is that all universities have significantly increased connectivity with the national network (Red Univ.) after been linked through optical fiber.

With respect to 2015, internet connection has grown three times in its total access and seven times through the centralized channel of the university network service, which favors more than 150,000 users.

The vice minister assured that the process has begun and there is still a long way to learn and do in a favorable atmosphere for its future institutional and political development and to improve its quality and relevance in solving the problems of each territory.

There are still many challenges, but undoubtedly the country is in a better situation to face them: qualified and committed force; indispensable material resources ensured, and the political will to carry forward whatever necessary transformations.

"Having a quality education, in the light of equity and inclusion is our banner," said Education Minister Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, at the opening of the annual seminar to prepare the 2017-2018 school year. And without a doubt, they are working for that.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

SUMMARY 2017: Scenic Arts, the Big Show

A year of finished anniversaries, of national celebrations, of big shows. We summarize what happened in the scenic arts in 2017.

On January 22nd, the actress and directress Fátima Patterson was awarded with the National Prize for Theater 2017. Born in Santiago de Cuba in 1951, she is the founder of Macubá, one of the most relevant theater groups. She is also an essential figure within the art of scenic orality. The National Prize for Theater acknowledged her commitment with the development of scenic arts in the eastern region, where Fátima Patterson is an unquestionable beacon.

The choreographer and director of the National Folkloric Group of Cuba, Manolo Micler won the National Prize for Dance 2017. The dancer, professor and choreographer outstand for his career, merits and distinctive creations for the Cuban scene. Director of the National Folkloric Group of Cuba, he has been known for his perseverance, hard work, and creative vocation.

The National Folkloric Group in fact celebrated its 55th anniversary with several presentations in Havana. Another important Cuban company, the Ballet of Camagüey, reached in December its 50th anniversary. A long season had as main scenario the Principal Theater of Camagüey, with the participation of several companies, like that of Rosario Cárdenas, the Contemporary Ballet of Camagüey and the Folkloric Ballet of that city.

The National Ballet of Cuba remembered the centenary of its founding choreographer: Alberto Alonso. This year also turned 60 years old the premiere of the ballet Carmen, the most outstanding work of the national choreography. To celebrate the anniversary, the company ran by Alicia Alonso offered a season of that ballet, where young dancers from the company made their debut.

The Contemporary Dance of Cuba finished this year at the Great Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso one of its greatest shows: Carmina Burana, choreography of George Céspedes, in a show accompanied by the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba and the National Choir. This was unquestionably one of the greatest events of the year.

During the summer, the National Circus celebrated the International Festival Circuba which has become the most significant in the region. Later in the year, some of the participants gave a tour through almost all Cuban provinces which became one of the main options for the summer.

In October 20-29 took place one of the most important encounters in the scenic arts in Cuba: The International Theater Festival of Havana, under the slogan Theater, Society, Resistance. Artists and shows from over a dozen of countries met in the theaters of Havana. Besides the scenic proposals, there was an important theoretical program. The main companies of Cuba offered their most recent plays.

The Aquelarre Humor Festival; Grand Prix Vladimir Malakov, in Holguín; the season Para Bailar en Casa del Trompo, in Santa Clara; Festival of Young Theater; next to the premieres of many of our companies marked an intense itinerary for scenic arts in 2017.

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