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ACN: Cuba reports lowest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the last two months

Walter Lippmann
 

Cuba reports lowest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the last two months
Aymara Vigil


Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
  
Havana, Sep 18 (ACN) Cuba today reported 57 deaths due to COVID-19, which represents the lowest number of fatalities due to the pandemic in the last two months, informed the national director of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap), Dr. Francisco Durán.
   
The specialist highlighted that this reduction has to do with the decrease in the aggravation of vaccinated people, who are less likely to evolve to serious and critical states and finally die.
   
He specified that 15 people under 60 years of age died, which represents 26.3 percent (%) of the total number of deaths, a higher number than that reported in previous days.
   
He warned that 35 people aged 70 years and over died, and that, unlike previous days, the female sex predominated.
   
As for the associated comorbidities, he highlighted arterial hypertension, ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; three of the deceased were healthy, he said.
   
Dr. Durán highlighted that after yesterday's analysis of 58,915 samples, the highest number so far, the country reported 8,517 confirmed positives for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19; these figures bring the total number of tests processed to 8,948,334 and 792,933 total positives.
   
He warned about the complex situation in most of the country's provinces, especially Pinar del Río, with 1,639 positives and Sancti Spíritus, with 1,131 infected.
   
Regarding the age groups confirmed with COVID-19, he warned about the complexity of the youngest, reporting 1,920 children under 20 years of age; 1,830 of them in pediatric ages.
   
And what is even more serious, 105 children under one year of age were diagnosed yesterday, 46 under six months of age, and among the latter there are three newborns, emphasized the head of epidemiology of the Minsap.
   
There are 145 critical and 320 serious patients in intensive care, a very high and high-risk behavior; 8,456 discharges were granted.
   
Since the report of the first cases of COVID-19 in Cuba, in March last year, the country has accumulated 747,644 patients recovered and 6,733 deaths.

avr/ls

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WALTER LIPPMANN
Los Angeles, California
Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews


walterlippmann.com
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"Cuba - Un Paraiso bajo el bloqueo"
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CUBADEBATE: VI CELAC Summit: Declaration of Mexico City

Walter Lippmann
 

cuba-debate

Declaration of Mexico City:
VI Summit of Heads of State and Government of CELAC (+ PDF)

September 18, 2021

Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews. 

@GovernmentMX

The Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, announced at a press conference this Saturday the agreements adopted at the initial meeting of the Heads of State and Government at the Sixth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) held this Saturday.

"Despite the differences that exist, which are serious, which are important, the meeting was achieved and several substantive decisions were adopted," said Ebrard.

The diplomat commented at the end of the meeting there is a declaration of 44 points that took weeks of negotiation, while the points of view of each member state and their positions were collected.

The Mexican Foreign Minister also mentioned the special declarations adopted as a regional body such as the end of the economic blockade on Cuba or the issue of the Malvinas or the Climate Change Summit Cop26 to be held in Glasgow.

In his final report, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who led the meeting, said that it was not necessary to read the approved statements, but detailed that the main one, known as the Declaration of Mexico and in the hands of the dignitaries, consists of 44 numerals, each one referred to an important topic.

Apart from the fact that the document will be public at the time, he explained that its preparation and approval was the result of a common work for months and synthesizes the unitary voice of the countries.

He announced that there are special statements such as the one referring to the need to put an end to the economic bloc against Cuba and others, apart from those known about the disaster aid fund, which raised 15 million dollars on the same day of the Summit to your start.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 







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WALTER LIPPMANN
Los Angeles, California
Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews


walterlippmann.com
https://groups.io/g/cubanews
facebook.com/walter.lippmann.33

"Cuba - Un Paraiso bajo el bloqueo"
===============================


VENEZUELANALYSIS: UN Expert Releases Full Report on Impact of US-led Sanctions Against Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News
 

 
venezuelanalysis.com

UN Expert Releases Full Report on Impact of US-led Sanctions Against Venezuela

By Andreína Chávez Alava - September 18, 2021

Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 18, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan presented a 19-page report detailing the negative consequences of US-led sanctions on the Venezuelan people.

The document compiles Douhan’s complete assessment of her 12-day visit to the Caribbean country in February. Presenting the findings at the 48th UN Human Rights Council session on September 15, the independent expert reiterated that the wide-reaching sanctions program against Venezuela has had a “devastating” effect on the entire population’s living conditions.

Douhan went on to explain that Venezuela’s pre-existing economic and social crisis was exacerbated by the imposition of “sectoral sanctions on the oil, gold and mining industries” as well as “the economic blockade and the freezing of the Central Bank assets.”

Consequently, the country’s revenues, essentially from oil exports, were significantly reduced, affecting “public electricity, gas, water, transport, telephone and communication systems, as well as schools, hospitals and other public institutions.”

The Belarusian lawyer added that the threat of extraterritorial and secondary sanctions has led to “over-compliance by banks and third-country companies,” amplifying the negative impact of primary sanctions. Furthermore, she argued that the “humanitarian exemptions appear to be ineffective and insufficient” to alleviate the crisis.

The special rapporteur concluded that unilateral sanctions against Venezuela are politically motivated, undermine the most fundamental human rights and violate international law. She urged the US and its allies to lift all coercive measures.

Douhan additionally acknowledged the Nicolás Maduro government's “greater engagement” with UN agencies and NGOs to provide humanitarian aid to the population.

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Félix Plasencia likewise participated in the 48th UN Human Rights Council session and welcomed Douhan’s report. “The Special Rapporteur made it clear that these measures, in the form of collective punishment, are international crimes that threaten the Venezuelan people.”

On Wednesday, over 800 human rights organizations and social movements released a statement supporting recent calls for sanctions relief, including by the UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet.

Venezuela has been under crushing US sanctions since 2017 when Washington targeted state oil company PDVSA. Between 2019-2020, the US Treasury Department imposed an oil embargo, a blanket ban on all dealings with Caracas, and shut down fuel and diluent imports and swap deals. Additionally, Washington levied secondary sanctions and a host of other measures, including freezing or seizing a number of Venezuelan assets abroad.

Right to food and wages

In her report, the UN independent expert emphasized that “the drop of oil revenues, exacerbated by the sanctions, provoked a food and nutrition crisis,” with food availability decreasing by an estimated 73 percent as imports fell between 2015 and 2019.

As a result, more than 2.5 million Venezuelans are severely food insecure, while the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recorded a “213.8 percent increase in undernourishment or chronic hunger.”

Douhan’s report also warned of “the precarious purchasing power of workers,” with the average salary estimated at US $2-10 per month covering around 2 percent of the food basket.

However, the special rapporteur acknowledged the government’s efforts to alleviate the crisis with a range of social benefits, including the distribution of subsidized food through the CLAP program. The latter reportedly assists 7.5 million households but has reduced its staples after imports were targeted by the US Treasury Department.

“Disastrous” health situation

The Belarusian lawyer stated that sanctions have blocked transactions aimed at acquiring medicine. “This prevented the purchase of blood reagents in 2020 for 2.5 million patients and 123,000 others in need of blood transfusions, according to the Ombudsman’s Office.”

Moreover, the blocked purchases affected 5,859 people suffering from hemophilia and Guillain-Barré syndrome and impeded 180,000 surgery operations for lack of antibiotics, anesthetics and tuberculosis treatment.

The insufficiency of basic medicines and their rising prices have likewise placed some 300,000 people at risk. At the same time, 2.6 million children have been deprived of vaccines for meningitis, rotavirus, malaria, measles, yellow fever and influenza.

Other concerns are the increase of teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDS cases. Currently, 80,000 out of an estimated 120,000 HIV/AIDS patients had to suspend their treatment for lack of drugs, the report expressed.

Additionally, hospitals reported that only 20 percent of the equipment is functioning due to the inability to acquire spare parts. The UN expert documented two specific cases: The Children’s Heart Hospital did fewer than 120 surgeries in 2020 (the standard was around 1800), and the J.M. de Los Ríos Paediatric Hospital in Caracas had to suspend kidney transplants for 137 children.

Douhan’s findings likewise highlighted that Washington’s seizure of PDVSA's US-based oil subsidiary CITGO halted the company's humanitarian program. As a result, 14 children have died after not receiving liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants in hospitals abroad. Another 53 are awaiting the resumption of the state-funded Simón Bolívar foundation.

Deteriorated public services

During her visit to Venezuela, Douhan attested that all public services are working at half of their capacity since the US-led imposition of coercive measures.

According to Venezuelan government officials cited in the report, only 50 percent of the water system’s distribution units were running and “water had to be distributed in rotation to ensure delivery to all.” The use of chemical agents to treat and purify water was reduced by 30 percent, causing health problems.

The text went on to explain that Venezuela is producing “only 40 percent of the electricity it needs, and electric lines work at less than 20 percent of their capacity.” In the country’s southwest region, “75-80 percent of electricity could not be produced because thermo-power machines were damaged and needed to be repaired.” The situation was aggravated by alleged cyber-attacks against the electrical grid in 2019.

Gasoline and diesel scarcity

The special rapporteur concluded that the Caribbean nation was on the brink of a “catastrophic situation” due to acute fuel shortages.

Douhan warned that diesel scarcity has endangered “agriculture production, transportation of food, electricity generation, water pump operation, public transport, transit and ambulances.”

At the same time, gasoline shortages have resulted in higher transportation prices, blocked access to hospitals and schools, and aggravated food and medical supplies distribution, especially to the country’s remote areas.

Access to education

The government’s limited financial resources to buy and repair necessary infrastructure has led to shrinking Internet coverage, with reportedly only 10 percent of the territory accessing the service. In the pre-sanctions era, the range stood at 50-90 percent.

The Belarusian lawyer’s report likewise pointed that the higher costs of Internet access and ongoing power shortages have affected online teaching since the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to university researchers, an estimated 80 percent of students in public schools cannot overcome these obstacles.

Another consequence of the sanctions was the suspension of the government’s Canaima program in 2020, which produced and distributed 6,5 million tablet computers to 14 million students.

Migration and brain drain

The tightening of sanctions has led to unprecedented migration numbers. The UN expert report, citing a host of sources (including the Venezuelan government), placed the figure between 1.2 to 5.6 million by May 2021.

The accelerated migration caused a brain drain, with most state companies and public services losing 30-50 percent of their personnel, including “doctors, nurses, teachers, university professors, engineers, police officers, judges, technicians and many others.” This resulted “in internal disorganization, increased workloads for remaining staff, reduced services and a decline in their quality.”

Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan’s visit to Venezuela is the first out of ten scheduled for the next two years as part of an agreement between the Nicolás Maduro government and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights signed in 2019.


The full text of Douhan's report can be found here.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.

 


REUTERS: Marc Frank: Cuba struggles to keep the lights on given decrepit grid | Regina Leader Post

Pete Link
 

Cuba struggles to keep the lights on given decrepit grid

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HAVANA — Cuban state media said on Friday that the intermittent blackouts that have plagued the island since June are caused by an aging power infrastructure and lack of proper maintenance and cautioned that residents should be prepared for more in the coming months.

The power outages reflect a deepening economic crisis that began with harsh new U.S. sanctions https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-sanctions-investment-analysis/tougher-u-s-sanctions-make-cuba-ever-more-difficult-for-western-firms-idUSKBN1WO2LP in 2019 and worsened with the pandemic, exposing such vulnerabilities as a decaying infrastructure and dependence on foreign currency from tourism and remittances to purchase food, medicine, raw materials and spare parts.

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“No one should think the problem will be solved quickly,” Energy and Mining Minister Livan Arronte Cruz was quoted as stating during a discussion of the power grid with other officials broadcast by state-run television on Thursday evening.

The participants said Cuban power plants averaged 35 years of age, with a backup system of hundreds of smaller generators at least 15 years old and that just 5% of power came from alternative energy sources.

The blackouts bring back memories of the post-Soviet depression of the 1990s, when lights were off more than they were on due to fuel shortages. Nowadays, the outages are not a daily occurrence, rarely last longer than four hours and are due to infrastructure failure.

The minister and other energy officials have appeared frequently to explain the power situation since a day of protests over living conditions swept the country on July 11, sparked in part by blackouts.

The government explanations offered on Thursday included how and why power outages were carried out, details on specific neighborhoods and how citizens can help by doing little things like turning off a single light or opening their refrigerators less often.

Cuba’s economy declined 10.9% last year and 2% through June this year compared with the same period in 2020, after years of stagnation.

Cubans have withstood more than 18 months of pandemic lockdowns, food and medicine shortages, long lines to purchase scarce goods, high prices and more. With tourism hurting and other vital sources of jobs and funds closed down, the blackouts have only added to the pain and frustration.

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Edier Guzman Pacheco, director of power plants on the Communist-run Caribbean island, was quoted as stating during Thursday’s broadcast that the crisis meant funds were scarce for maintenance and that work on two new generators was delayed after suppliers canceled contracts due to new Trump-era U.S. sanctions. This, he said, was leading to lower than capacity output and frequent breakdowns.

“Of the 20 thermo generators in the country, 18 are overdue for light or partial maintenance and 16 capital maintenance,” he said.

Minister Arronte Cruz made no promises as the broadcast concluded except that residents would be kept informed. He said the country was doing everything it could under the circumstances to avoid blackouts and that there were plans in the medium to long term to increase capacity and alternative energy sources.

“No one should think we are doing this intentionally to annoy the people,” he said. (Reporting by Marc Frank in Havana Editing by Matthew Lewis)

 

https://leaderpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/cuba-struggles-to-keep-the-lights-on-given-decrepit-grid
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PERIÓDICO 26: In the "Diego Felipe" a dream was born and comes true (+ photos)

Dunia Torres González
 


In the "Diego Felipe" a dream was born and comes true (+ photos)
Translated by Dunia Torres González for CubaNews.
 
Written by Luz Marina Reyes Caballero
 Published: August 27, 2021
 Views: 317