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Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

WestJet launches new service to Varadero

WestJet launches new service to Varadero

CALGARY, Nov. 1, 2009 ( NewsWire via COMTEX) –

Company: WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA)

makes inaugural flight between Toronto and Varadero today

WestJet today announced the launch of new, seasonal non-stop service between Toronto and Varadero, Cuba. The inaugural flight departs Toronto's Pearson International at 10:00 a.m. ET today.

"With a lively nightlife, stunning beaches and friendly locals, Varadero is a great getaway in itself," said Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet Executive Vice- of Strategy and Planning. "However, as a starting point for visiting colourful Havana, it's a really popular winter destination for Canadian travellers. We can't wait to take WestJet guests to this exciting and culture-rich part of Cuba."

WestJet will fly between Toronto and Varadero three times per week, each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, as a seasonal charter operated by WestJet Vacations, until April 29, 2010.

Following are the schedule details of WestJet's new service.

From November 1, 2009 to April 29, 2010:

Toronto – Varadero (three times weekly until April 29, 2010)

————————————————————————-Flight Departure Arrival

————————————————————————- From Toronto – WS5010 10:00 a.m. 1:30 p.m.

————————————————————————- From Varadero – WS5011 2:30 p.m. 5:54 p.m.


WestJet Vacations offers customized vacation packages for most of WestJet's scheduled destinations, including packages to Varadero starting at $589, plus applicable fees and taxes, for air and seven nights, all-inclusive. For more information, call one of our WestJet Vacations Experience Specialists at 1-877-737-7001, your preferred agent or visit

WestJet flies non-stop from Toronto to some of the most beautiful sun destinations anywhere, including Cancun, Barbados, St. Lucia, Montego Bay, Nassau, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, La Romana, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers and Tampa. As part of its 2009-2010 winter schedule, WestJet is also adding non-stop service from Toronto to Holguin, Cayo Coco, Cozumel, Miami, Freeport, Turks and Caicos, and St. Maarten. One-way fares for Bahamas destinations start at $99, for Mexico at $129 and for the rest of the Caribbean at $145, plus applicable fees and taxes.

About WestJet

WestJet is Canada's preferred airline, offering scheduled service throughout its 66-city North American and Caribbean network. Named one of Canada's most admired corporate cultures in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. WestJet offers increased legroom, leather seats and live seatback television provided by Bell TV on its modern fleet of 81 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. With future confirmed deliveries for an additional 54 aircraft through 2016, WestJet strives to be one of the five most successful international airlines in the world.


WestJet launches new service to Varadero – (2 November 2009)

SA to promote investment potential in Cuba

SA to promote potential in Cuba

South Africa is expected to participate in the 27th Havana International Trade Fair in Cuba this week, to promote its exports and investment potential.Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, has led a 40-member government and business delegation to the week-long international trade fair which starts today, Monday 2 November 2009.

South Africa's attendance at the fair will serve to strengthen the South-South Agenda and further the objectives of the Joint Bi-National Commission Agenda with Cuba by promoting trade and investment between the two countries.

The department has participated in the fair since 2004, with the exception of 2005.

The event will also provide an opportunity for Tobias-Pokolo and her Cuban counterpart to discuss issues on the bilateral agenda, with particular focus on trade and investment.

Cuba is an important trading partner for South African exporters and the department has secured a pavilion for South Africa's participation, where 34 companies will showcase their technological and industrial capabilities.

The targeted sectors include agro-processing, biotechnology, automotives, construction, pharmaceuticals, capital equipment including mining equipment, chemicals, electro-technology including security systems and engineering services.

The companies include emerging, well established and women-owned companies.

In 2008, South Africa exported goods to Cuba to the value of R81,979,457 and Cuba exported goods to the value of R15,741,495 during the corresponding period.

Tobias-Pokolo said that South Africa regarded Cuba as a strategic partner in the Caribbean and the visit provided an opportunity to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

"In addition, it has a growing sector and South Africa is well placed to supply the necessary products to that market," said Tobias-Pokolo.

She said the fair would further provide an opportunity for South African companies to showcase their products and services and network with their counterparts from the rest of the world and Cuba in particular.

In his address during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, Jacob Zuma called for the removal of the US trade on Cuba.

SA to promote investment potential in Cuba (2 November 2009)

Canada’s embassy in Cuba decrepit, non-secure: audit

's embassy in Cuba decrepit, non-secure: auditBy Dean Beeby (CP) – 1 day ago

OTTAWA — Tourists headed to sunny Cuba this winter may want to think twice about visiting the Canadian embassy in Havana – a new audit slams the operation for basic security problems.

The overcrowded, crumbling offices have failed to provide basic privacy or security, resulting in at least one assault.

"The Consular Program continues to operate without a booth to provide privacy and security when conducting interviews of clients," says the newly released audit, completed in June.

"This situation has already resulted in one known incident of assault on a consular staff member."

The lax security dates from at least 1997 when a previous inspection noted the same problems, which were not fixed for 12 years.

"Most of these issues have now been resolved," said Rodney Moore, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department.

"The safety and security of Canadians visiting the embassy in Cuba is not a concern."

About 900,000 Canadians to Cuba each year, making it No. 5 on the list of holiday destinations for winter-weary Canucks.

The embassy's 15 Canadian-based staff process about 2,500 passport, citizenship and other legal applications each year, assisted by about 54 local Cuban employees.

The offices are also required to help Australian and Israeli citizens under agreements with those countries.

"There is no privacy for clients who must discuss private or sensitive matters," says the audit, with key passages censored.

Moore acknowledged that the section of the embassy that provides consular services is a scene of regular confrontations.

"There are incidents of verbal abuse and, at a lower frequency, physical intimidation every year in our present set-up," he said in an email.

"Renovations to this section, including construction of a privacy booth, are being completed."

The first phase of the $3 million in renovations is expected to be completed in March, he added.

The auditors noted that because Cuba is a cash-based society, embassy employees must regularly transfer large numbers of bank notes to and from the local bank.

"The risk to staff who must and assume responsibility for large amounts of cash is also of concern," says the audit. The bank run "is common knowledge."

The embassy's 80 guards are paid with cash-stuffed envelopes, all of which are given to the head guard to distribute. "This practice not only places the head guard at risk but also places him in a position of power over his colleagues."

The report suggested mission staff simply do not take security seriously.

"The mission faces a range of security threats, yet it has an inactive committee on security. A number of recommendations of a previous security review remain unaddressed."

The auditors also found there was no mass evacuation plan should Canadian citizens need to be quickly removed from Cuba because of a "civil emergency or rapidly deteriorating security situation."

Moore said the security committee has since been reactivated and an evacuation plan drawn up.

Canada leased the embassy building from the Cuban government in 1962. The white-washed, two-storey structure, about 80 years old, is surrounded by palm trees and a tall wire fence. The building is readily identified by large satellite dishes sprouting from the flat-topped roof.

One bright spot in the audit is the official residence of the ambassador, currently Jean-Pierre Juneau.

The report says it is in good condition, thanks in part to the services of a senior servant, maid, cook and gardener, along with several guards.

The Canadian Press: Canada's embassy in Cuba decrepit, non-secure: audit (2 November 2009)

Deltonan fears for missionary father in Cuba

November 02, 2009

Deltonan fears for missionary father in CubaBy LYDA LONGAStaff Writer

For two weeks, 68-year-old Ruben Ortiz Columbie, a Baptist missionary in Cuba, lingered in a Cuban jail, wondering what he had done wrong and with no way of knowing when, or if, he would be freed.

Almost 500 miles away in Deltona, his 37-year-old son, also named Ruben Ortiz, feared the worst.

"It was a very difficult time because we had absolutely no information of what was going on with my father," Ortiz said recently.

The younger Ortiz, pastor of La Primera Iglesia Bautista (The First Baptist Church) in Deltona, worked feverishly for almost two weeks contacting various Baptist fellowships in Florida and nationally for help in lobbying Cuban authorities for Ortiz Columbie's release.

Suddenly on Oct. 17, after two weeks of sitting in a jail cell in Santiago de Cuba at the eastern tip of the country, Ortiz Columbie was released with nary an explanation, his son said earlier this week.

"They told him there would be no charges," Ortiz said. "My father asked if he would be left alone and they assured him that he would be."

Of course there's no way of knowing that, Ortiz said.

For now, Ortiz Columbie plans to continue the missionary work he has carried out in the eastern part of the country for more than three decades with the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention.

As for the younger Ortiz, his wife, Elizabeth, and their 9-year-old son Danny, as well as others in the Baptist community, the uneasiness that this could happen again is haunting.

Ray Johnson, a coordinator with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida, said he was extremely concerned when he heard Ortiz Columbie and his 49-year-old traveling partner Francisco "Pancho" Garcia, were incarcerated Oct. 3 by the National Revolutionary in Santiago.

"We contacted folks in our national office and they, in turn, contacted the World Baptist Alliance to see if they could call Havana," Johnson said. "We were ready to do anything to help."

Johnson's organization is linked with the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention, where Ortiz Columbie is a special projects coordinator. The younger Ortiz's church is also affiliated with the Cuban Baptist concern, sending the group — which has 300 Baptist churches under it in Cuba — money for missionary projects on the island.

When Ortiz Columbie and Garcia were nabbed, the pair were on their way to Guantanamo to deliver funds for a missionary project, Ortiz said. The men were intercepted and taken to jail, their $3,700 in Cuban pesos seized.

"They told my father that he was transporting illicit funds," Ortiz said.

A Santiago incident report provided to The Daytona Beach News-Journal by El Nuevo Herald in Miami states Ortiz Columbie and Garcia were engaged in illicit economic activity. The men were thrown in separate cells and were allowed to see their respective wives only once for 20 minutes, said Ortiz, pastor of his Deltona church since 2002.

"My father has never been political, only religious," Ortiz said. "He does this work for the love of the mission and for love of his country."

The younger Ortiz Columbie came here on a visa and is allowed to visit his family in Cuba, then return home. He traveled to the island nation last year. He recalled that waiting for word from his mother Anays in Santiago was challenging because she had very little information to share.

"She saw him one time on a Friday and that was only for 20 minutes," Ortiz said. "It was very upsetting for her."

The most trying moments for Ortiz were when his young son, Danny, would ask daily for details about his grandfather in Cuba.

"When I would pick him up at , he would ask me 'How is my grandfather? What do you know about him?' " Ortiz said. "I had to swallow my tears every day and be strong for my son."

At the time of his release, Ortiz Columbie had "extremely high blood pressure" and a rash on his leg, Ortiz said. Cuban officials promised to return the money seized from Ortiz Columbie, but he had not seen it by last week.

"This is a 68-year-old man who was held in a jail under terrible conditions," his son said.

Although this arrest was not the first for Ortiz Columbie, in the midst of his missionary work in Cuba, the longtime Baptist leader is not deterred from continuing the work he loves in a country where religion is not encouraged but tolerated.

With his father's vision intact, the younger Ortiz said his church will continue to send money for missionary work to the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention.

"My mission is to help Cuba," Ortiz said with conviction. "That's my country, those are my people and I'm not going to abandon them."

West Volusia News – (2 November 2009)

Americans accused of worsening swine flu situation in Cuba

Americans accused of worsening swine flu situation in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, November 2, 2009 – Former Cuban leader is pointing a finger at American visitors for the spread of swine flu in that Caribbean island.

He wrote in state-controlled newspapers over the weekend that since April when the Barack Obama administration eased restrictions for Cuban-Americans and the country saw an influx of visitors, the virus has spread.

Castro said that it is now present in of the island's provinces, "principally those with the highest number of relatives who reside in the United States."

At the same time, Castro said he didn't think it was any planned attempt to spread the virus among the Cuban population: "I don't think, of course, that it was the intention of the United States government."

However, the 83-year-old former complained that America's continued trade was preventing Cubans from getting access to adequate medication to treat the swine flu virus.

"We had the strange case where the United States on one hand authorised more trips for a large number of people carrying the virus, and on the other prohibited us from obtaining equipment and medicine to combat the virus," he said.

There have been almost 800 confirmed cases in Cuba, with seven recorded deaths.

Caribbean: News in the Caribbean – (2 November 2009)

Cubans say access to online market site is blocked

Cubans say access to online market site is blockedSun Nov 1, 2009 10:06am ESTBy Esteban Israel

HAVANA (Reuters) – A popular website of classified ads that has given Cubans a taste of the free market has been blocked on the communist-run island, users said.

Cubans trying to access, which says it has more than 1.5 million page views a month, are being diverted to the search engine

"If I type the address and press 'enter,' I get redirected. If I Google it and click, I get redirected. What is going on?," asked Sandra a 30-year-old government employee who, like several others interviewed, did not give their full names.

Cuban computer experts say an Internet content filter is preventing access to the Craigslist-like site, which has emerged as a booming virtual free market in the socialist nation with a tightly controlled where consumer goods tend to be scarce and expensive.

On, Cubans with access to the Internet can buy and sell anything from computer memory sticks to a 1950 Plymouth.

"There you can find all the things the government sells you at brutal prices and freely pick exactly what you want," said Alberto, who recently used to buy a computer that was not available in the stores.

The Internet in Cuba is controlled by the state monopoly , a joint venture between the Cuban government and Telecom Italia.

Whether the state was blocking the site was unknown but Cuban authorities have in the past reportedly prohibited access to pages they consider "counter-revolutionary," including blogs critical of the socialist system.

"Apparently someone doesn't like people buying and selling stuff. But there is always a way," said Luis, a computer aficionado

who has been circulating an e-mail giving directions on how to bypass the filter.

It is not clear where is based but it is hosted out of servers in the United States. An administrator contacted by Reuters outside of Cuba said the site is aware of the filter problem and working to resolve it.


The use of content filters is growing around the world, according to The OpenNet Initiative (, an academic program monitoring online censorship.

"We have just finished our testing in 71 countries and have found evidence of content filtering in close to 40 countries," said Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the of Toronto and co-founder of The OpenNet Initiative.

Countries like or Iran use filters to prevent access to sites viewed as politically challenging. Some Western democracies say they use them to block websites with child pornography.

Official statistics show that 13 percent of Cuba's 11 million people have access to the Internet and most of those only to e-mail and a local intranet of approved sites. Cuba blames the long-standing U.S. trade against the island for its limited access.

The filters on come after Cuba recently blocked the use of the free call service in what industry sources said was a purely commercial decision to keep Skype from cutting into revenues for long-distance calls through the phone system.

Internet service providers in other countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and even the United States have taken similar steps in the past.

The U.S. trade embargo, imposed since 1962 to undermine the Cuban government, also has caused U.S. companies such as Microsoft Corp and Google Inc to not provide instant messaging services in Cuba because they say U.S. regulations prohibit required downloads.

The Obama administration now is saying it wants the companies to resume the service because they foster communications and democracy.

(Editing by Jeff Franks and Bill Trott)

Cubans say access to online market site is blocked | Technology | Internet | Reuters (2 November 2009)

Cuba slams book by Castro’s sister

Cuba slams book by Castro's sister(AFP) – 33 minutes ago

HAVANA — Cuba's state-run media on Monday condemned a just-published book in which 's sister admits she spied for the Central Intelligence Agency.

The country's media added that the expose proves that the former Cuban leader was a "victim" of decades of US targeting.

"The truth is in full view: Fidel Castro is the victim, the offended person, the individual against whom they conspired," wrote the government-run La Jiribilla magazine, saying the relentless effort to target the Cuban leader was in "bad taste" and "low moral standing."

In acknowledging the cloak-and-dagger story, "the enemies of the revolution for once were casting a spotlight on their misdeeds," the periodical said.

The condemnation by the Havana government follows the admission by Juanita Castro, 76, in her Spanish-language book "Fidel and Raul, My Brothers. The Secret History" that she worked with the US spy agency.

In the book, which went on sale last week, Juanita, the fifth of seven Castro siblings, writes that she aided the CIA during the 1960s, at a time when the United States was plotting to assassinate her brother and replace his Communist regime.

Now a resident of Miami, Juanita Castro wrote that she was contacted in 1964 after she broke with Fidel and Raul, the current of Cuba, and collaborated with the CIA both inside Cuba and when she went into exile later that year.

AFP: Cuba slams book by Castro's sister (2 November 2009)

Cuba reitera que quiere negociar el reemplazo de la "posición común" de la UE

Cuba reitera que quiere negociar el reemplazo de la "posición común" de la 02/11/2009 13:39 PM

EFE. La Habana. El ministro cubano de Exteriores, Bruno Rodríguez, reiteró hoy al comisario europeo de Cooperación, Karel De Gucht, que la isla quiere un "marco de relación bilateral" con la Unión Europea (UE) que reemplace a la actual "posición común", que incluye exigencias sobre democracia y .

Rodríguez expresó que el gobierno que preside el general Raúl Castro está dispuesto a "encontrar un marco de relación bilateral que sustituya a la actual posición común, que es inaceptable".

La UE eliminó en 2008 las sanciones diplomáticas casi simbólicas que impuso a Cuba en 2003 por violaciones de los derechos humanos, lo que permitió empezar a normalizar las relaciones y la cooperación de la isla con la Comisión Europea (CE), pero se mantiene esa "posición común" de 1996.

El ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, que visitó recientemente La Habana, se comprometió a trabajar por la eliminación de esa "posición común" durante la presidencia española de la UE, en el primer semestre de 2010.

Rodríguez reconoció el "desarrollo positivo" de las relaciones de Cuba con la CE en los últimos años y manifestó la intención del Gobierno de Castro de "continuar desarrollando" esos vínculos.

El belga De Gucht manifestó, a su vez, su esperanza de que entre hoy y mañana pueda haber "conversaciones fructíferas" sobre la cooperación de la CE y Cuba, que se reanudó el año pasado "y ya ha rendido frutos".

El comisario de Cooperación y Ayuda al Desarrollo confía en que su visita contribuya al "proceso de normalización" de las relaciones entre "los 27" y Cuba.

"Espero poder identificar las condiciones para dar nuevos pasos", agregó.

De Gucht llegó el viernes a Cuba pero su agenda oficial comenzó hoy con la colocación de una ofrenda floral en el monumento al prócer independentista cubano José Martí en la Plaza de la Revolución, tras lo cual se reunió con Rodríguez.

:::** Diario La Verdad **::: (2 November 2009)

Cuba dice que libro de Juanita Castro es "de mal gusto y baja catadura moral"

Cuba dice que libro de Juanita Castro es "de mal gusto y baja catadura moral"2 horas, 32 minutos

La Habana, 2 nov (EFE).- La autobiografía de Juanita Castro, hermana de Raúl y , es "una operación comercial de mal gusto y baja catadura moral", asegura hoy una revista del ministerio de Cultura de Cuba, en la primera reacción oficial a la publicación.

"Mediante técnicas de reciclaje y marketing político que incluyen publicidad, manipulación y sensacionalismo, la industria del anticastrismo en Miami, con el auspicio de la editorial Santillana y el Grupo PRISA de España, ha lanzado al mercado un nuevo producto: Memorias de Juanita Castro", dice un artículo de la revista "La Jiribilla".

La nota se titula "Memorias para el olvido" y rompe el silencio oficial sobre el lanzamiento del libro de la hermana del actual de Cuba y de su antecesor en el cargo la semana pasada.

"El hecho es más chocante precisamente porque para tomar distancia de la frivolidad habitual, como ningún otro líder occidental, durante más de 50 años, Fidel Castro se ha esforzado por preservar la intimidad de su familia de los avatares de su actividad pública", asegura La Jiribilla.

Según la revista del ministerio de Cultura, el libro es "un folletín creado para echar a rodar afirmaciones francamente intrascendentes".

Añade que "de ser cierto que a principios de la década de los sesenta la autora trabajó para la CIA, sería apenas una más entre miles de cubanos que por dádivas, dinero u otras motivaciones, entre las cuales pueden estar incluidos el odio, los afanes de venganza y la intolerancia, trabajaron para la CIA y se prestaron a servir como peones de la política norteamericana contra Cuba".

"En este caso -prosigue el artículo-, la diferencia proviene de haber conspirado también contra familiares allegados. No hay en esa conducta mérito ni excepcionalidad alguna, sino al revés". EFE

Cuba dice que libro de Juanita Castro es "de mal gusto y baja catadura moral" – Yahoo! Noticias (2 November 2009)

Desmiente Cuba rumor sobre cierre de mercados privados

Desmiente Cuba rumor sobre cierre de mercados privadosEconomía – Lunes 2 de noviembre (11:15 hrs.)

* Anuncia que los vendedores del MOD deberán presentar una declaración jurada sobre el origen de los productos

El Financiero en línea

La Habana, 2 de noviembre.- El gobierno de Cuba desmintió hoy el cierre de los mercados de libre oferta y demanda (MOD), pero anunció que a partir de esta semana sus vendedores deberán presentar una declaración jurada sobre el origen de los productos.

El viceministro de Comercio Interior, Frank Silva, indicó lo anterior en un extenso reportaje que publicó este lunes el diario oficial Granma sobre la situación en los MOD, con precios mucho más altos que los Mercados Agropecuarios Estatales (MAE) pero más surtidos y con calidad.

El funcionario salió al paso de los rumores que circulan a raíz de un confuso incidente en un concurrido mercado del municipio de la capital, donde se realizó un operativo de inspectores y la policía que originó la suspensión de ventas durante una jornada.

Silva dijo que las autoridades libran una "ardua e impostergable batalla" para que la red de los 308 establecimientos estatales tenga los 24 productos jerarquizados, con un oferta "más completa, accesible y atractiva" que la de los MOD.

Sobre el tema de la declaración jurada, que ha generado inquietud entre vendedores y clientes, aseguró que era "algo imprescindible" para cerrar el paso "a desvíos de mercancías e irregularidades en el tránsito de la producción al consumo".

Por su parte, el director de la recién creada Empresa Provincial de Mercados, que controla y supervisa a los MOD, Jorge García, también se apresuró a tratar de disipar el temor sobre el cierre de éstos al decir que "siempre habrá espacios para la libre concurrencia".

En los últimos días centenares de personas expresaron preocupación por el supuesto cierre de los mercados privados o la aplicación de topes de precios que, en opinión de la mayoría de los especialistas, conduciría a un mayor desabasto agrícola.

Cuba sufrió entre agosto y septiembre de 2008 el impacto de tres huracanes que arrasaron cientos de miles de hectáreas agrícolas y más de medio millón de viviendas, con pérdidas estimadas en 10 mil millones de dólares.

"Si el control es cotidiano y verdadero, es decir si combatimos todo tipo de ilegalidad o de convivencia con la corrupción, que es lo mismo, no hay por qué llegar a situaciones extremas", dijo García, citado por Granma.

"Uno y otro tipo de mercado se complementan. Pero si no fortalecemos los Mercados Agropecuarios Estatales, el pueblo nos pasará la cuenta. Y ese amargo momento hay que evitarlo", subrayó.

El promedio de precios en los 38 MOD de la capital rebasa la capacidad de compra de las familias en Cuba, donde el salario promedio es de unos 408 pesos (unos 18 dólares), cuya insuficiencia ha reconocido el Raúl Castro.

Pero lectores del diario como Maida López afirman que, caro o barato, en estos mercados se encuentran por lo general algunos productos que dadas sus características tienen escasa presencia en los mercados estatales.

"El asunto está -afirma- en lograr que esa comercialización sea legal, transparente, y no apelar a soluciones extremas", consideró.

Estadísticas oficiales muestran que los MOD mueven aproximadamente 5.0 por ciento de los productos agrícolas que se comercializan en la urbe. Pero en ellos se eroga hasta 9.0 por ciento de lo que el bolsillo de los capitalinos dedica a comprar esos productos.

Economistas señalan que la importación de 80 por ciento de los alimentos consumidos en Cuba no sólo se debe a los problemas de baja productividad de la , sino también al ineficiente acopio de las cosechas, que repercute en que muchos productos no lleguen almercado. (Con información de Notimex/MCH)

Desmiente Cuba rumor sobre cierre de mercados privados – El Financiero (2 November 2009)

Cuba busca reducir abortos con su propia ‘píldora del día después’

Cuba busca reducir abortos con su propia 'píldora del día después'Por Isabel Sánchez (AFP) – hace 2 horas

LA HABANA — Iris tuvo siete abortos, el primero a los 22 años, y Tania, a sus 19, suma cuatro. Cuba, donde esa práctica es gratuita y legal desde 1965, producirá y distribuirá en 2010 la 'píldora del día después' como un anticonceptivo que ayude a bajar los 85.000 abortos anuales.

Fuera de toda polémica como la que suscita en Perú, el Levonorgestrel empezó a usarse en Cuba progresivamente hace un año y, según prevé el Ministerio de (MINSAP), podrá adquirirse en 2010 en todas las farmacias del país, sin receta médica.

La gragea, que cuesta de 7 a 15 dólares en países como Ecuador, y , se producirá en un inicio para 225.000 dosis al año a un precio de venta de unos cuatro centavos de dólar, precisó a la AFP el de la Comisión de Salud Sexual y Planificación Familiar, Miguel Sosa.

"Eso será muy bueno, pero falta promover el sexo responsable. De joven no me protegía y no quería truncarme la vida, o se me olvidaba tomar regularmente las anticonceptivas y la situación no estaba para tener niños, vivía en un casa de un cuarto", dice Iris, de 50 años, con una hija de 17.

Unas 2,6 de 3,3 millones de cubanas en edad fértil son sexualmente activas y de ellas un 25% (650.000) no usa anticonceptivos, 200.000 porque prevén embarazarse, 100.000 son infértiles y el resto es vulnerable a embarazos no deseados.

"Esas mujeres se la están jugando. A ese sector ayudará la disponibilidad de la píldora", dijo Sosa, según el cual una de cada cuatro con embarazos no deseados son menores de 20 años.

En un país precoz, donde según estudios los hombres comienzan su vida sexual a los 13 años y las mujeres a los 14, se acude al aborto muchas veces como un método anticonceptivo más.

Tania, empleada de que vive en el oeste de La Habana, empezó a los 15 años y hace seis meses tuvo su cuarto aborto. "Es un derecho de las mujeres no traer hijos al mundo a pasar trabajo, pero es cierto que se abusa", opina Ana Menéndez, docente de 37 años, quien tiene dos niños y cinco interrupciones.

Cuba, primer país del continente en despenalizar el aborto y el único de América Latina donde se practica sin restricciones -hasta las 10 semanas-, lo defiende como un logro de la mujer y una medida que redujo muertes maternas.

"Una de cada dos de esas muertes era por aborto en condiciones de clandestinidad inseguras antes de que se legalizara", apuntó Sosa, presidente de la Sociedad Cubana de Desarrollo de la Familia.

Pero el aborto, advierte, lleva riesgos por lo que se impulsa un plan para sustituir la vía quirúrgica por la medicamentosa -un 40% se hacen con Misoprostol y se espera llegar a 80% en cinco años-, y bajar el número de interrupciones.

En países como Perú el debate lo atiza la duda de si la píldora es abortiva, pero Sosa insiste en que es anticonceptivo y asegura que en la provincia de Holguín, la primera donde se distribuyó, el aborto bajó en un 22%.

"Usarla evita abortos. Se nos acusa de ser un país 'abortero', pero estamos trabajando para disminuir el aborto, sin hipocresías, sin esconder el problema. En los (años) 90 teníamos 120.000 al año y bajamos en esta década a 85.000", comentó.

Sin ventilarse en público, es tema de confrontación entre el gobierno y la Iglesia, que denuncia el aborto como un grave problema social en la isla comunista, de población mayoritariamente no católicos y ateos.

"Esa píldora es abortiva. La Iglesia recomienda no usarla, en defensa de la vida. Pero aquí se hacen cosas con que uno no está de acuerdo", lamenta monseñor Dionisio García, presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal.

La Iglesia cree que la píldora estimula el sexo irresponsable; pero las autoridades de Salud insisten en que incluso, al bajar los abortos y los riesgos de sus secuelas, aumentará la fertilidad en un país envejecido como Cuba.

AFP: Cuba busca reducir abortos con su propia 'píldora del día después' (2 November 2009)

Comisario europeo pide "nueva mirada" relación política con Cuba

Comisario europeo pide "nueva mirada" relación política con Cubalunes 2 de noviembre de 2009 13:15 GYT

LA HABANA (Reuters) – El comisario europeo para el Desarrollo, Karel De Gucht, apostó el lunes a "una nueva mirada" en las relaciones políticas con Cuba, lo cual consideró un tema "importante" en los vínculos bilaterales para el próximo año.

La Unión Europea () y Cuba retomaron en el 2008, a instancias de España, el diálogo político y la cooperación tras cinco años de distanciamiento, luego de que el bloque decidió levantar las sanciones diplomáticas impuestas a la isla en el 2003 en respuesta al arresto de 75 disidentes.

"Queremos una nueva mirada a nuestras relaciones políticas, porque creemos que el próximo año ese será un tema muy importante entre la Unión Europea y vuestro país", dijo De Gucht a periodistas en La Habana, sin ofrecer más detalles.

Pero el obstáculo principal entre Cuba y el bloque europeo sigue siendo la llamada "posición común", adoptada en 1996 para fomentar en la isla un proceso de transición pacífica hacia la democracia pluralista.

El Gobierno de La Habana sostiene que la "posición común" es "injerencista" y "obsoleta" y el canciller cubano, Bruno Rodríguez, expresó a De Gucht la disposición por cambiar ese punto limitante.

La idea es "expresarle (…) nuestra disposición a encontrar un marco de relación bilateral que sustituya la actual posición común que es inaceptable para nuestro país", dijo Rodríquez durante una reunión con De Gucht en la cancillería de la isla.

De Gucht respondió al canciller cubano que las conversaciones de los próximos dos días con las autoridades de la isla servirán para "dar nuevos pasos" en la relación bilateral sin aludir a la llamada "posición común".

"Espero que estas conversaciones puedan contribuir al proceso de normalización entre la UE y su país y también espero poder identificar las condiciones para dar nuevos pasos y que podamos también debatir sobre estas condiciones", dijo el comisario europeo sin entrar en detalles.

El ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, uno de los arquitectos del acercamiento entre la UE y Cuba, dijo en octubre que España quiere aprovechar la presidencia rotativa del bloque durante el primer semestre del 2010 para convencer a sus socios de eliminar la "posición común".

Durante su visita en octubre, Moratinos comentó que el cubano Raúl Castro le reiteró "su voluntad" de avanzar "en el proceso de reformas" en la isla.

El general Raúl Castro sustituyó el pasado año en la presidencia de Cuba a su hermano , alejado del poder por una enfermedad que lo tuvo al borde de la muerte en julio del 2006.

(Reporte de Rosa Tania Valdés, Editado por Silene Ramírez)

Comisario europeo pide nueva mirada relación política con Cuba | Titulares | Reuters (2 November 2009)

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