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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Daring in baseball: Tripping over the same structure again

Honestly, I had abandoned the idea of judging how the National Baseball Championship should be, until I fortuitously heard the current National Commissioner and former great pitcher from Jatibonico, Yovani Aragon, communicate that the next national series would have the same structure as the current and previous ones, uncommendable in their development, exhausting for the athletes and costly.

If sometimes it has been repeated that this season has been the most successful for the influx of spectators, one should not forget that two of the eight teams qualified are Industriales and Pinar del Rio, which attract sympathy, especially the first, across the nation, from Mantua to Baracoa, passing through Jatibonico, where many at the stadium named after Genaro Melero –still alive at that time– were hopeful of a victory of Industriales over Villa Clara (which today’s town of Sancti Spiritus belonged to, after being removed from Camagüey), but asthma played a dirty trick on dominant Lazaro Valle.

And about four years ago, during an argument at Alex’s barber shop, in Zone 7 of Alamar, one of the clients suggested a single and original tournament, much less costly, and at the end, in a couple of years, at most, it would be attractive and palliate the continued absences and lack of baseballs, leg guards, etc, as a result of the difficult economic development and the aggressive imperialist attitude, with the open aim to suffocate us in all spheres of life.

Likewise, we should put aside all those mannerisms and mental flatulences on derbies, classics, and that non-original idea of the “wild cards”, and that final merit falls on those who play well the baseball stages proposed.

THE PROPOSAL

A national championship split into two stages: a regional one –which reduces the costs– and a selective one, which increases the quality.

In the regional stage, there would be 16 teams: six from the West, and five from each of the remaining regions, where they would play among them, aimed at having a champion and a selection.

The challenge would be to find a schedule for the zone where six teams would get involved, geared at matching the number of games and the similar date of the general termination.

The champion is also reinforced within the zone and should choose at least the first two players of the total number agreed to choose.

The six teams will play in the second stage that should run in the months of our autumn and winter, and will contribute the champion due to be reinforced for the Caribbean Series. .

It’s foreseen that the long, exhausting and costly trips will be avoided in the first stage. The champions, of course, will take the names of the winners in the different regions, and the selections could be Eastern, Central and Western.

Regarding the uniforms, the champion, of course, wears its own, but the selections can wear a uniform with the name of the selection, and another with the name of the team they belonged to in the first stage, so variety and team of origin are established.

“The form of games, number and clashes, etc, are decided previous study, because, he remarked, the western region has one more team, and except if it is champion, a team from the Isle of Youth should never travel to Santiago de Cuba, for example”.

We should not fall in paternalism if a zone is weaker than another or, for example, place Sancti Spiritus in the West, because the local authorities of each province are responsible for developing baseball from the grassroots, taking care of the baseball fields and preparing the whole logistics for that purpose, mainly to fete the visitor. What will be missing? Daring!

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Cuban Culture Minister Highlights Recovery of the Sector after Irma

Havana, Dec 27 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, stressed today that despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, the country managed to reopen damaged art schools and save patrimonial objects.

In statements to Prensa Latina, Prieto recalled that the atmospheric phenomenon, the most powerful one formed in the Atlantic Ocean basin, caused damages to some 300 institutions of the sector located in provinces of the north coast.

It caused a lot of damage, in Havana the House of the Americas suffered the effects of the penetrations of the sea, luckily the training that people have in preserving the patrimonial objects, the equipment, allowed that the losses in that field were minimal; however, it was a hard blow to the institutional system, he lamented.

When making a balance of the recovery labors Prieto assured that in addition to restoring the schools, Cuba reactivated the cultural life in the damaged areas.

This meteor, which hit the archipelago in September, left 10 dead and caused havoc in homes, educational centers, hotel facilities, roads, among other sequels.

The response of the artists was very important, as in other occasions they created brigades to travel to the ravaged sites where there were affected people in shelters, people who had lost everything; they carried a message of solidarity, of spirituality and affection that is contained in art, the culture minister emphasized.

Despite Irma's lashes, he said, 2017 was full of successful events such as the Havana Film Festival, the International Handicraft Fair, Cubadisco, the Caribbean Festival, the Book Fair (celebrated at the beginning of the year) and the Romerías de Mayo.

About the prospects for 2018, the minister said that one of the challenges will be to guarantee the cultural life with rationality in the use of resources.

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Increasing Pineapple Production: A Priority in a Cuban Province

Ciego de Avila, Cuba Dec 27 (Prensa Latina) Farmers in this central Cuban province are committed to increasing pineapple production to meet industry needs and export programs.

According to the director of the company producing the fruit in Ciego de Avila, Reinaldo De Avila, the purpose is to harvest more than 2,000 tons of pineapple to supplant the demands of the local industry and shipments to Europe.

He indicated that despite the excess of humidity as a result of Hurricane Irma the crops were damaged and the plantings were delayed, so it was necessary to increase cultural attention and the promotion of new areas.

Currently, the province has planted some 460 hectares of the MD2 and Spanish Red varieties, and expects to reach in 2018 2,000 hectares, the director explained.

Ciego de Avila is the only Cuban territory that promotes the MD2 pineapple, which is very productive and whose fruit is sweeter, juicier, and of greater presence and size, and with high demand in the markets of Spain, Italy, and France.

The most widespread in this central Cuban province is the Red Spanish pineapple, a more resistant variety to climate change that requires fewer provisions.

Ciego de Avila, some 430 kilometers east of Havana, has a long history in the production of pineapple, with ups and downs in its harvest plans; however, it shows today stability due to the introduction of modern technologies.

Changes in the planting technique, the entry of irrigation equipment and a better dosage of fertilizers and biological means against pests and diseases, allow increased production plans.

The commercialization of fresh and canned fruits in the main tourist resorts of Cuba, such as Jardines del Rey, Varadero and City of Havana, among others, motivates an increase in the income earmarked for development programs.

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The Case of the Lost or Found Wallet

When good will and chances go hand in hand, the world can seem really small.

I had never found something valuable, but this December I found a wallet.

It was there, by the sidewalk, fat and open, of glistening skin, of those synthetic materials that imitate crocodile skin.

There was no one walking ahead of me, so the owner should have lost it, at least, five or ten minutes earlier. Because I don't believe it would last more than that a wallet laying on the street.

It contained a bit over a hundred Cuban pesos, two bank cards, two ID cards, of mother and daughter, and many, many medical papers, including a prescription for eyeglasses.

Those who have had the chance to get a prescription for eyeglasses know how difficult it is, long waits and trips are behind those numbers that would help improve sight.

That prescription alone is worth the pain to try and find the owner; let’s not mention the money which is always necessary, even more in December; without forgetting the other steps the lady would have to undergo for a new ID card and bank cards.

Feeling like a CSI character, without Greeson, I set myself to find a way of locating the owner who by now must have been desperate.

I tried to find her number on ETECSA phone directory, but to not avail. No cell phone or land line phone number. I tried to contact some of her neighbors through her ID address, but as it was Alamar Neighborhood, I didn't have a street name to input on the search of the directory.

She was born in Camagüey, so I looked for in the directory of that province the names of her parents, written on her ID card, where it read the wallet owner was 56 years old. That proved also unsuccessful.

After reviewing papers, scrapes of papers, recipes, folded napkins -the usual purses of Cuban women, either handbags, purses of any size and use, they are a phenomenon to study – searching for a phone number, I found a paper strip with three phone numbers next to names, included that of a work center.

The first call was fruitless, the woman’s voice, on the other end of the line, told me that she didn't know whom I spoke of, but that I should call her mother who earn her living selling cakes, maybe the woman I was looking for was a client of hers. The other number was in fact that of the baker woman and the third, the phone of her workplace which she had called to her mobile.

She told me to wait that she would call the mother so she accompanies her, with a 120-minute landline telephone t who contacted with me.

No joy I had to wait because hints had ended. If the baker lady didn't call me, it would be impossible to reach the owner of the wallet.

Although her address put her in Alamar, it was almost obvious that she didn't lived there because all her papers appeared issued in another municipality, included many and recent ATM tickets away from Alamar. So it made no sense to travel there.

When my hopes where dropping, the phone rang and on the other end spoke the baker lady. She did remember the lady; I described her looking at the mug shot in the ID card.

The cake Lady and her daughter had met her at Coppelia ice-cream parlor. And while they shared table and ice-cream, they sympathized and exchange numbers. But… the owner of the wallet had not given them hers.

She only remembered that she was a kind person accompanied by her daughter, also very cute. She particularly remembered the latter because, the girl had a mental disability and it was she who had begun the exchange at the ice-cream parlor.

Can you imagine! The last path had just closed and my urgency to find the woman grew more.

Just ending my conversation, someone knocked at my door. Two technicians from the telephone company who came to fix my phone extension, previously reported.

While they focused on the repair, I told my son who had arrived a few minutes after the technicians, about the wallet issue trying to join me on the search using new technologies.

I thought the technicians weren’t paying attention to what I was saying but one of them cut half my sentence: “I believe I know that girl, the daughter of the owner of the wallet.”

I showed him the picture, just that of the ID card and without doubting he told me the name: “That’s the one; she lives two blocks from my house. Everybody knows her over there, because she is very sociable. As soon as I finish working, I will go to her house.”

Anyway, what was left to see if the man would go to the girl's house and if, in fact, although chances and coincidences were abundant, it was the same person.

Not even two hours had passed when the phone rang again. It was the technician from ETECSA calling from the woman’s house. He put her on the phone and I asked her about her mom's name, which I had not mentioned to anybody.

Almost without breathing she told me the two names and the two last names. There were no doubts; he had found the owner of the wallet.

Next day at dawn, because it was already almost evening when we contact, it was the lady calling at my door.

Without me asking, because just looking at her and see the picture on her ID card, she described to the last detail the content of the wallet. There was no need.

When it came to the turn of the eyeglasses prescription, her eyes were full with tears when she told me it was for her girl -of 28 years - and all the trouble she had gone through to obtain it.

The best was the surprise, the lady's incredulity who, even with the wallet in her hands, could not believe that I had returned it to her.

She told me she had thought it was lost forever; that she had gone to buy a bottle of oil for her mother and when she came to the cash register it was no longer with her.

She told me the desperation that came upon her, for the medical papers, and how she had called the bank immediately to cancel her cards and even had stopped a police car to report her loss.

After knowing how many threads interweave so that she recovered all her belongings and of the chances that in the right moment the technicians arrived, my son arrived and I told my son the whole story, how one of them paid attention to my story and that, on top of that he knew her daughter and they were almost neighbors, the lady was quiet for moment, looking at me, looking at her wallet.

With tears swelling in her eyes again she stuttered: “It’s true there are still some good people in this world, and it’s really very small the world, can you tell.”

I said nothing and just hand her a handkerchief. It was small as sometimes the world is, as her hopes of recovering what was lost was indeed.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

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