Tag Archives: Cuba

Uganda To Import Cuban Doctors

Uganda government is planning to import 200 Cuban doctors and even hire several retired medical professors of its own country to reduce manpower gaps. It is learned the government has constituted an ad hoc committee to work out the plan in details and it will be chaired by Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng. A Cabinet source meanwhile mentioned the hiring ...

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Cuba suspends US consular services as bank pulls out

The Cuban government says it has suspended consular services in the United States after an American bank decided to withdraw its facilities. Castro (left) said the handshake with Obama (right) was an unplanned gesture Cuba says it will not be able to renew passports and process visas unless it finds an alternative to the M&T bank. The bank said its decision was taken for business reasons. The move is likely to prevent tens of thousands of people travelling from the US to Cuba every month and could have a big impact on the economy there. The US broke off diplomatic relations with the communist-run island in 1961 and imposed an economic embargo a year later. In the absence of bilateral contacts, consular services have been handled by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. In a statement, the Cuban government blames the trade embargo for its failure to find a new bank “in spite of huge efforts made”. The M&T bank announced last year that it would stop accepting deposits from 17 February, which is a public holiday in the US. “The section regrets any inconvenience this situation may cause,” read the statement. It says it will only be able to handle “humanitarian cases”. ‘Recent thaw’ More than 40,000 people on average travel to Cuba from the US every month, most of them Cuban-Americans, according to the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group. Americans who do not have Cuban nationality are also allowed to travel if they are taking part in cultural exchange programmes. The suspension of consular services comes amid a recent slight thaw in relations, says the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford. At Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro shook hands for the first time. Cuba and the US also announced the resumption of official talks on immigration and postal services between the two countries. Earlier this week, the European Union agreed to open negotiations aimed at restoring full relations with Cuba. On Thursday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said President Obama should proceed with a similar gesture and follow the example of the EU. BBC

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US conditional trade Vs China unconditional love for Africa

President Barrack Obama’s upcoming date with African presidents is likely to signal renewed scramble for the continent as large       economies seek new growth opportunities. A Chinese official shares a light moment with Rwanda health minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (right) during a visit to Masaka Hospital. The health facility is one of the projects funded by the Chinese government in Africa. Timothy Kisambira At least 47 African presidents converge in Washington on August 5-6 on Obama’s invitation as the US seeks to widen trade ties with the continent, but the selective invitation criteria that left out other African leaders is a cause for concern. Some have even questioned the rationale of African presidents flying to Washington to meet Obama. “I find it funny, especially in Kenya’s case, when Obama visited Africa, he shunned Kenya because President Uhuru Kenyatta is on trial at the ICC, yet now he turns around to invite him to talk business,” said Hamza Wale, a Nigerian doctorate student in Beijing. Wale holds that if Obama wants to do business with Africa, he should come to Africa and talk to the African Union. Obama says his country wants to trade more with Africa but this is not accurate as it appears that he is not interested in those that don’t meet his democratic governance yardstick. The countries that are ‘currently not in good standing with the US will not be welcome and going by the invitation list, those would include Zimbabwe, Egypt, Sudan and Madagascar. Observers reacting to Obama’s selective invitation pointed out that this ‘conditional’ approach to doing business with Africa will not help America’s efforts to catch China on the continent due to Beijing’s observance of  non-interference policy with governments’ local politics which has endeared it to many African leaders. But this sharp contrast in approaches means African leaders have the freedom to choose whom to do business with between Washington and Beijing. “Successful business is done based on mutual respect of all parties involved, this America-Africa relationship seems to place African leaders lower than Obama which casts a doubt on the kind of discussions they’ll hold,” Wale said. Obama will talk trade and investment but also democracy, a subject which many African leaders are reluctant to be lectured on. Then there’s the matter of Zimbabwe’s long-standing sanctions which many Zimbabweans believe were illegally pressed by USA yet Obama is using them to starve Mugabe of trade benefits. Can African leaders stand up to Obama and push for a release of Zimbabwe from America’s imposed economic jail? Jade Kalekela, a Zimbabwean post-graduate student in China, says: “the AU and SADC have in the past pronounced their position that the sanctions on Zimbabwe should be lifted unconditionally, however, it is easy to issue a statement than to act on it as a continent.” However, Kalekela adds that America’s “carrot and stick” method of dealing with Africa could slowly be losing its effectiveness because of the presence of China and other emerging economies on the continent. African leaders can also pick a leaf from what the 33-member countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) did early this week when they met in Cuba, a country that has endured American sanctions for decades. In a conference that was also attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, CELAC members condemned sanctions against Cuba which they said are holding back the region’s fight against poverty. Sanctions are hurting Zimbabwe with the World Food Programme reporting early this week that over two million people are in urgent need of food aid. Observers say that it would be in Africa’s interests to organise into a formidable trading bloc of 50 member states and close to a billion people. For example, CELAC’s establishment in 2011 was pushed by former Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS) regional bloc, long seen by leaders in the hemisphere as being disproportionately responsive to US interests. Today, it’s composed of 33 sovereign countries in the Americas representing roughly 600 million people and during their summit early this week; they sent an invitation to Puerto Rico. Chinese alternative When they meet Obama, African leaders will have one assurance at the back of their minds: If the proposals don’t favour them, they will shun him and tighten their embrace of the Chinese string-free relationship. President Robert Mugabe’s famous quote that Zimbabwe has decided to do more business with the ‘East where the sun rises and less with the West where it sets,’ is shared by many African leaders and there’s statistical evidence to it. Beijing’s white paper on “China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation” released in August 2013 indicates between 2009 (when China became Africa’s No. 1 trade partner) and 2012, China’s direct investment in Africa increased from $1.44 billion to $2.52 billion, with an annual growth rate of 20.5%. Over the same period, China’s accumulative direct investment in Africa increased from $9.33 billion to $21.23 billion. In 2012, China-Africa trade reached $198.49 billion. Of this, $85.319 billion consisted of China’s exports to Africa while $113.171 accounted for China’s imports from Africa. ...

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Isles keen on improving health service delivery

Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein said that health care was a high national priority ...

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The African tiger that leaped out of a cage to world leadership

Conventional wisdom has it that tigers never roamed the African jungle. Indeed there are no tigers on the continent today, except a few that were brought to South Africa from China. But Nelson Mandela had a different opinion. Nelson Mandela addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in 1990.Photo: UN/Pernaca Sudhakaran By Newton Kanhema “I maintained that while there were no tigers to be found in contemporary Africa, there was a Xhosa word for tiger, a word different from the one for leopard, and that if the word existed in our language, the creature must once have existed in Africa. Otherwise, why would there be a name for it?” he wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. This quote sums up the personality of Mandela and his indefatigable spirit, his refusal to treat “givens” as unchangeable and his determination to keep going until his people’s lives were improved, a hallmark of his character that inspired people struggling for freedom beyond the African continent. The excerpt embodies South Africa’s predicament, and Mandela’s indomitable outlook from the cradle of his political career. “Leaders, good or bad, there will always be,” writes Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in his book Cycles of American History, “and…democracy becomes a menace to civilization when it seeks to evade this truth. Numerical majorities are no substitute for leadership.” At the end of the millennium, the world’s media tried to pick a  person of the century, their leader of leaders. It is interesting to see how the same names kept cropping up on many countries’ shortlists, though nationalistic tendencies seemed to get the better of most juries...

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Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro Shake Hands at Nelson Mandela Memorial

U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro today at a memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela — an almost unprecedented moment between two deeply opposed neighbours. Barack Obama, Raul Castro shake hands at Mandela memorial The handshake came during a ceremony focused on Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation. The U.S. and Castro have been enemies since the Cuban revolution led by Castro’s older brother, Fidel, in 1959. After U.S. businesses in Cuba were nationalized without compensation, the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations and imposed a trade embargo. Obama was greeting a line of world leaders and heads of state attending the memorial in Johannesburg just before he spoke to the gathered thousands at FNB Stadium in Soweto. The U.S. and Cuba have taken small steps toward peace in recent years, raising hopes they could be on the verge of a breakthrough in relations. Still, skeptics caution that the two countries have shown signs of a thaw in the past, only to fall back into old recriminations. Canada, for the most part, has maintained warm relations with Cuba since the days of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s visits to the country in the 1970s. He and Fidel Castro, who fell ill in recent years, remained on good terms. Shark-infested straits Obama also shook hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who followed him onto the podium during the Mandela memorial, and has clashed with Obama over alleged National Security Agency spying. Cuba has been a hot button in U.S. politics for decades. The southern coastal state of Florida is home to thousands of Cuban refugees and their descendants. The shark-infested Florida Straits, known for difficult currents and sudden squalls, separate the southeast coast of Florida from Cuba. Many would-be Cuban immigrants to the U.S. have died trying to cross the straits as they flee their Communist-ruled homeland. CBC’s Peter Mansbridge noted that Obama spoke of the Mandela legacy even as leaders such as Castro, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and South African President Jacob Zuma sat nearby — all of them criticized in recent years for acts of oppression against some of their own people. “We, too, must act on behalf of justice,” Obama said. “We, too, must act on behalf of peace. “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s [Mandela's] legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.” The BBC reported in 2000 that then U.S. President Bill Clinton had shaken hands with the Cuban president at the time, Fidel Castro, at a UN summit in New York. The White House originally denied that the handshake had taken place, but later admitted it had occurred, the BBC said.

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Museveni in SA for Mandela memorial

President Yoweri Museveni Monday evening arrived in South Africa, joining more than 90 heads of state and government scheduled to attend an extended state funeral that will culminate in Mandela’s burial on Sunday in the rural village of Qunu. President Museveni arrives for Mandela memorial. PHOTO BY PPU A massive security operation will swing into place as 80,000 people descend on the Soweto venue for what is seen as a final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in a mass celebration of Mandela’s life ahead of the more formal lying in state. “The world literally is coming to South Africa,” said the government’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela. Soon after Mzee Mandela’s death last week, Uganda’s President Museveni sent a message to South African president Jacob Zuma. He praised Mzee Mandela for giving almost his entire adult life to the struggle for the freedom of South Africa. In related events, the presidents of the United States and Cuba will share a rare joint stage Tuesday as world leaders shed historic rivalries to pay tribute at the funeral of South African freedom icon Nelson Mandela. Barack Obama and Raul Castro will both offer eulogies for Mandela at a sweeping memorial service to be held at the Soweto stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup final. Four of Mandela’s adored grandchildren will speak for his family, while neither his widow, Graca Machel, nor his ex-wife Winne Madikizela-Mandela are listed on the programme. Agencies

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