Category Archives: Cuba

Another version of the urge to purge, in Brazil

This time the targets of folks who have done a lot of good for Brazil’s poorest.

From teleSUR English:

Cuba is negotiating an extension beyond November for some 2,400 doctors in Brazil working under the joint social program “Mais Medicos (More Doctors).

Implemented by the government of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the program has benefited nearly 63 million poor people.

According to an agreement reached by the Pan American Health Organization and the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the doctors will stay until at least November – after the Olympics in Rio and the country’s municipal elections. The new announcement follows a visit last week by the deputy Minister of Public Health of Cuba, Marcia Cobas Ruiz, who met in Brasilia with health authorities.

However, interim President Michel Temer announced last May that he wants to reduce the number of foreign doctors in the program from 13,000 to 3,000.

Since it was proposed, the social program has been criticized and opposed by pharmaceutical and medical corporations, as well as right wing politicians in the country.

Headline of the day II: A truly electrifying story

From teleSUR English:

In Cuba, Lightning Kills More People Than Guns

Cuba ranks seventh in the world when it comes to lightning fatalities in the world, with an average of 65 victims per year.

Headline of the day III: Not on the Grassy Knoll

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Tabloid says it has proof: Ted Cruz’s father is mystery man in Lee Harvey Oswald photo

  • National Enquirer claims photo is proof that Rafael B. Cruz was standing alongside JFK assassin
  • Cruz campaign dismisses allegation as ‘garbage’
  • Cruz’s father had been pro-Castro but had turned on him when Cuban leader said he was a communist

Headline of the day II: An offer they can refuse

The heirs of the man who served as the model for the Hyman Roth character in Godfather II want to get paid for the hotel and casino nationalized after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

From CNN:

U.S. mobster’s heirs to Cuba: You owe us — so pay up

For Meyer Lansky, a mobster and casino impresario known for his business savvy, Cuba was the worst bet of his life

Headline of the day II: The Day of the Locust

From the Washington Post:

Lobbyists descend on Havana for Obama’s historic Cuba trip

Lobbyists for the U.S. agriculture industry and major business groups are descending on Havana, hoping to leverage President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba to advance their interests on the island.

UC Berkeley student dissects a bellicose Hillary

One of the most cogent dissections we’ve seen yet of Hillary Clinton’s relentlessly militaristic and imperial foreign policy approach comes UC Berkeley doctoral student Meleiza Figueroa.

Here she is interviewed by Jaisal Noor of the Real News Network about the positions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Latin American immigrants and their respective foreign policy approaches:

Clinton and Sanders Spar over Coups and Deportations

From the transcript:

NOOR: And so Bernie Sanders, as you mentioned, he did raise the issue of Nicaragua and the Sandinistas, his support for Daniel Ortega, he was asked about that. And so, studio crew, just so you know, we’re going to the last [unintelligible], because this is really important history, US history, US involvement for the contras in Nicaragua, US support for basically terrorist attacks against the Cuban government which failed to materialize. Let’s take a listen to what Bernie Sanders’ response was.

ELENA SALINAS: In South Florida there are still open wounds among some exiles regarding socialism and communism. So please explain, what is the difference between the socialism that you profess and the socialism in Nicaragua, Cuba and [crosstalk] Venezuela.

BERNIE SANDERS [Interposing]: Well, let me just answer that. What that was about was saying that the United States was wrong to invade Cuba, that the United States was wrong trying to support people to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, that the United States was wrong trying to overthrow, in 1954, the government, democratically elected government, of Guatemala.

Throughout the history of our relationship with Latin America we’ve operated under the so-called Monroe Doctrine, and that said that the United States had the right to do anything that they wanted to do in Latin America. So, I actually went to Nicaragua, and I very strongly opposed the Reagan administration’s effort to overthrow that government, and I strongly opposed, earlier, Henry Kissinger and the overthrow of the government of Salvador Allende in Chile. I think the United States should be working with governments around the world, not getting involved in regime [change].

NOOR: So that’s a really remarkable thing to hear. We know Sanders has brought it up, but I think he went further in this debate than he has before. Your final thoughts?

FIGUEROA: Oh, this was an amazing exchange because, you know, for those who have known about the history of US imperialism and US interventionism in other countries around the world, you know, we never hear this on mainstream media. We never hear this on TV networks, and to hear, you know, names like Salvador Allende, names like Árbenz being mentioned on mainstream media, in terms of an entire history of US interventionism is, that’s just a remarkable feat in itself, and it’s an incredible teaching moment to the American people about, you know, what their government has done around the world, what, you know, our taxpayer resources has been spent on.

I mean, another thing I wanted to maybe mention about Honduras in particular is that, you know, not only is [this] just a question of American resources, American policy, American time, but also, you know, the human cost of this, not just in terms of children, you know one week ago was the murder of Berta Cáceres. She was an environmental activist, indigenous person, in Honduras who was murdered by the regime that Hillary Clinton helped put in power and maintain in power. Now, this has incredible impact on, again, how [are we] going to think about, you know, what the US is and what role it plays in immigration?

I mean, you know, the violence there, I’ve heard what’s happening in Honduras being described as the worst femicide of the century. Women are being killed in great numbers, and you know, no wonder people want to leave that country and migrate somewhere better. And those are, the conditions that the US government creates in other places affects not only affects incredibly, you know, people’s lives there.

And, you know. . .it blows back onto the united states in many, many ways, and so, you know, that, Bernie Sanders is pointing out the long, long history of this type of foreign policy approach, this interventionism, and that he, frankly, was, stood up and was very principled in his insistence that the United States government has no right to interfere in the affairs of Latin American countries or [to] overthrow the governments of other countries. You know, [that is] an incredibly brave stance for a politician, for a US politician to take, and is something that, frankly, has needed to be heard by the American people for quite some time.

Zika update: Polynesia, studies, drones, more

We begin with an origins story, via France 24:

Some scientists say that French authorities did not do enough to stop the spread of the Zika virus after a significant outbreak of the disease in French Polynesia in 2013-2014.

Dr. Didier Musso, who co-authored several papers about the dangers of Zika during the 2013-2014 outbreak, says that French authorities did not take findings by doctors in the French overseas territory seriously enough.

“In 2014 and 2013, the outbreak of Zika [in French Polynesia] went unnoticed in mainland France,” Musso told Le Point in February. “We managed on our own to isolate the virus, update the diagnostic tests, treat the patients and deal with the first severe medical complications, which no one expected.”

The current Zika epidemic in Latin America, where more than 1.5 million people have been infected, is thought to have been transmitted by international travelers from French Polynesia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific made up of 118 islands, including Tahiti and Bora Bora.

A worrisome complication, via Time:

Two confirmed cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome linked to the Zika virus have been reported in the U.S., health authorities told TIME on Thursday.

The link between Zika and the birth defect microcephaly has received much attention. But health experts are also concerned about the link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition where the immune system starts attacking the body’s nerves, which leads to weakness that can eventually result in temporary paralysis. In some cases, the disorder can interfere with breathing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed to TIME that there have been two cases of GBS in the U.S. in people who also tested positive for Zika virus. “I think we can say that the link between Zika and Guillain-Barre looks strong and would not be at all surprising,” says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “We’ve seen similar postinfection complications after many different infections, including some that are quite similar to Zika. That is a link that’s getting stronger.”

From NPR, confirmation sought:

A team of U.S. government disease detectives launched an eagerly anticipated research project in Brazil on Monday designed to determine whether the Zika virus is really causing a surge of serious birth defects.

A 16-member team of epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began training dozens of Brazilian counterparts in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, in preparation to begin work on Tuesday. The researchers will gather data on hundreds of Brazilian women and their children.

“Having the data at this point in time are very critically important for understanding the impact Zika might be having in the future and as it spreads in the region,” says J. Erin Staples, a CDC medical officer leading the CDC team in Brazil.

U.S. News & World Report covers a U.S. appropriation sought:

President Barack Obama Monday sent lawmakers an official $1.9 billion request to combat the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America and the U.S.

He is also requesting flexibility to use a limited portion of leftover funds provided in 2014 to fight Ebola to take on Zika, which has been linked to severe birth defects. Top House Republicans told the White House last week that the quickest way to get the money to fight Zika would be to use some of the approximate $2.7 billion that had been designated for the Ebola crisis but remains “unobligated.” Consideration of a stand-alone Zika request could prove cumbersome, especially in a combative election year.


Obama said Monday during a meeting with the nation’s governors that he hoped to work with them in guarding against the outbreak of the disease. Obama said the $1.9 billion he is requesting would include investments in research into new vaccines and better diagnostic tools, and more support for Puerto Rico and territories where there are confirmed cases.

From the Guardian, the Zika fight in Cuba:

President Raúl Castro has called on all Cubans to help eradicate the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus and ordered 9,000 army troops to help stave off the disease.

Cuba has yet to detect a case of Zika, but the outbreak is affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean and is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

“It’s necessary for every single Cuban to take up this battle as a personal matter,” Castro wrote in a national message sounding the alarm over Zika, which is carried by mosquitoes that transmit the virus to humans. The virus is suspected of causing birth defects after infecting pregnant women.

Cubans should clean up potential environments for the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, said Castro, who also is general of the armed forces.

And in Brazil, drones are called to the fight, reports RT:

The drones have a very sharp eye. In San Paulo they perform low-altitude flyovers to detect signs of the pest in gardens, on terraces and other places where it is known to breed. They then fumigate the colonies, Xinhua reports.

Brazil has almost met its target of inspecting 60 million residences across the country. This adds to other efforts, such as massive armed forced deployment, to stamp out the infection. Some 40 percent of targeted locations have already been dealt with.

The idea of using the drones was born out of necessity. Many households were difficult to get into – some did not allow inspectors in, others simply had no one inside at the time. Drones greatly improve access without having to disturb residents.

Aside from drones and manpower, the government is also looking at newer and quicker means of diagnosing the virus, Sao Paulo Health Secretary Alexandra Padilha said.

And for an idea of Zika’s economic impacts even where it hasn’t appeared, consider this from the Grenada Broadcasting Network:

Zika and Tourism

Program notes:

As Grenada and the rest of the eastern Caribbean continue to grapple with the introduction of a new virus in our region, there is a sense of uneasiness with in the tourism sector, as stakeholders worry that it can negatively affect the industry.

On Saturday morning GBN’s Delroy Louison took our cameras to the streets of St. George and spoke to the vendors about their take on the possibility of Zika entering our shores.

Tech Times covers Canadian anxieties put to the test:

A group of insect scientists in Canada are at the forefront of a new study that will test whether mosquito native to the country can potentially become carriers of the Zika virus, as well as the chances of the native mosquitoes transmitting the virus to locals.

Brock University, which is the only academic institution in Canada that contains a Level 3 containment lab with an insectary, received a shipment of the mosquito-borne virus from the National Microbiology Laboratory this week.

Incidentally, the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is also the only other facility in the country with a similar high-security capacity where such research can be conducted safely.

And there’s more, including a Rolling Stone spousal departure, domestic countermeasures, theocratic opportunism, and a malicious virus piggybacking, after the jump. . . Continue reading