Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cuba calls international trade fair 'proof' of failed U.S. embargo

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: October 31, 2006

HAVANA Cuban authorities are citing the island's international trade fair as proof that the U.S. embargo has failed to fully isolate the communist-run nation.

About 800 companies from 48 countries have exhibits at the International Fair of Havana, Cuba's most important trade event that opened Monday and runs through Saturday.

"This is proof that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for 45 years has failed to achieve its objective of isolating us from other nations," Foreign Trade Minister Raul de la Nuez said at the fair's opening ceremony also attended by Vice President Carlos Lage.

De la Nuez said Cuba's trade with the world has grown 27 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2005. He expects 2006 to end with trade totaling US$10 billion (€7.9 billion) — "the highest figure in the last 15 years," he said. Figures for total trade during 2005 were not available.

Cuban exports have increased and diversified, with traditional products like sugar and nickel expanding their sales by 15 percent and generic medicine and biotechnology products by 23 percent year-to-date, he said. Dollar (euro) figures for the sales were not provided.

Forty-five percent of Cuba's total trade is with countries in North, Central and South America — particularly Venezuela, Cuba's top trading partner.

Europe makes up 31 percent of the market, with Asia and the Middle East accounting for 21 percent.

A law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000 allows American food to be sold directly to the island on a cash basis despite the long-standing embargo.

Yet recently tightened sanctions against Cuba have provoked a decrease in the number of American firms at the fair this year, said Pedro Alvarez, head of the Cuban food import company Alimport. About 100 U.S. companies ordered booths at the fair, down from 188 last year, he said.

Chicken, rice, beans, wheat, apples, eggs, powdered milk and lumber are among the products imported from the United States by Cuba. Alvarez said Cuba plans to import US$500 million (€395 million) worth of U.S. goods this year.

Cuba calls for baseball to return to Olympics

China View

2006-10-31 08:34:53

HAVANA, (Xinhua) -- Jose Ramon Fernandez, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, made a public call on Monday for baseball to return to the Olympic Games.

"The great stars of football do not play in the Olympic Games, but nonetheless it is in the Olympic calendar," Fernandez told local television, adding that he would push for baseball's inclusion in the Olympics, at the 11th World Sports For All Congress which begins on Wednesday in Havana.

Fernandez dismissed the arguments made by International Olympic Committee president, Belgium's Jacuqes Rogge, who demanded that players from the United States Major Leauge take part, saying that the Olympics should represent the best from each sport; and that the sport change its anti-doping practices.

"The best soccer players go to the World Cup, and the under-21 teams go to the Olympics," he said. "This is discrimination against baseball."

He also questioned whether the major leagues were really best of the best. In the recent World Baseball Classic, only four teams of the 16 teams were mainly made up of major league players and of those only the Dominican Republic reached the semi-finals.

The World Sports for All Congress ends on Friday, and will be attended by 1,100 delegates from 128 countries and regions, 24 members of the International Olympic Committee and seven presidents of local committees.

Editor: Yao Runping

Time To Drop Sanctions Against Cuba

www.postchronicle.com

By Greg C. Reeson
Oct 31, 2006

The federal government announced recently that it was creating a new law enforcement task force that will be charged with cracking down on violators of U.S. trade and travel sanctions against the island nation of Cuba. As part of the task force, personnel from the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, as well as agents from the FBI, will focus on individuals and businesses engaged in commercial activity, travel, and the transfer of currency to Cuba.

The sanctions, which have been in effect for more than forty years, and which will remain in place until free and fair elections are held, are supposed to isolate the Castro dictatorship politically, economically, and socially. The reality, though, is that they do little more than hurt the Cuban people while the Castro brothers maintain their firm grip on power.

Historically, economic sanctions have done little to change the behavioral patterns of bad governments and ruthless dictators. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote in 2003 that "The United States imposed 85 new unilateral economic sanctions on foreign nations from 1996 to 2001. But sanctions, which cost U.S. companies up to $19 billion in 1995 alone, aren't a policy; they're a feel-good substitute for one."

On most issues facing America today, I find myself on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Mr. Kristof. However, the question of economic sanctions provides a rare opportunity for us to agree on a policy matter. There have been very few instances where economic sanctions have hurt those in power. They almost always fail to achieve the policy aims of the nation imposing them and usually end up hurting the very people they are meant to help.

For economic sanctions to work against a particular state there has to be global consensus for their implementation. Sanctions imposed and enforced by one nation alone rarely have the desired effect because the sanctioned nation simply finds other trading partners to conduct economic activity. Too often, business opportunities and investment programs prevent countries from signing on to a sanctions regime, even though they may find the target country's behavior objectionable.

Take for instance the recent discussions in the United Nations Security Council over Iran's uranium enrichment activities. Despite a clear threat to regional peace and stability should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, Russia, France and China have thus far refused to go along with sanctions that would limit Iran's access to nuclear technology. All three nations have business interests in Iran and all three stand to lose money if sanctions are imposed. Even if the United States unilaterally imposed sanctions to supplement restrictions already in place, the effect on Iran's radical regime would be negligible at best.

In the case of Cuba, sanctions currently in place against the Castro regime are largely American, and as such are summarily ignored by most other nations. While Castro has certainly been deprived of American dollars, there has been no shortage of willing trade partners or arms suppliers for the communist dictatorship. Cuba has indeed experienced significant economic troubles since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but those fiscal woes are the result of losing the island nation's long-time economic and political sponsor and not the result of American economic sanctions.

Truth be told, sanctions imposed by the United States against Cuba hurt American businesses, Cuban-Americans with relatives living under the Castro dictatorship, and ordinary Cuban citizens. Fidel and Raul Castro have used U.S. economic sanctions as a scapegoat for the island's depressed economic state without consequence.

The United States should aggressively promote democratic values and the promise of a better life without the Castros, especially through the large Cuban population in southern Florida. The end of communist rule in Cuba is a matter of "when" and not "if". Eventually the regime will fall, much like the former Soviet Union did. In the meantime, other methods for promoting regime change should be explored and pursued, and economic sanctions that have done more to hurt the Cuban people than the Castro government over the past four decades should be lifted.

Greg C. Reeson is an independent columnist

Cuba' s team leaves for XVI Baseball Intercontinental Cup


Foto: RICARDO LÓPEZ HEVIA

Granma

La Habana, martes 31 de octubre de 2006

Los peloteros se van hoy a Taipei

Sigfredo Barros
sigfredo.bs@granma.cip.cu

La selección que nos representará en la XVI Copa Intercontinental de Béisbol saldrá hoy hacia la ciudad de Taichung, en Taipei de China, con el objetivo de efectuar cuatro partidos de confrontación antes de debutar el día 9 del entrante mes de noviembre ante la escuadra holandesa.

El equipo —bajo la dirección de Rey Vicente Anglada—, fue abanderado ayer en la Ciudad Deportiva por Christian Jiménez, presidente del INDER, quien le entregó la Enseña Nacional al lanzador Pedro Luis Lazo, escoltado por Frederich Cepeda y el capitán del conjunto, Eduardo Paret. Michel Enríquez tuvo a su cargo la lectura del compromiso de todos los jugadores de competir con honor, dignidad y entrega, y Ángel Iglesias, vicepresidente del organismo deportivo, expresó en sus palabras de resumen la confianza de todo nuestro pueblo en el exitoso desempeño del equipo.

------------------------------------------------


Foto: Juan Moreno

Juventud Rebelde

Copa Intercontinental de béisbol

Parten hoy los peloteros cubanos hacia Taipei de China

El equipo cubano fue abanderado en el coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva de la capital por Christian Jiménez, presidente del INDER

Por: Raúl Arce

Correo: depor@jrebelde.cip.cu
31 de octubre de 2006 23:00:34 GMT

Christian Jiménez, presidente del INDER, abanderó este lunes, en el coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva capitalina, al equipo Cuba de béisbol que hoy viajará a Taipei de China para participar en la Copa Intercontinental.

El astro lanzador Pedro Luis Lazo recibió el estandarte patrio, flanqueado por Eduardo Paret y Frederich Cepeda. «Seremos fieles a los principios de la Revolución y de Fidel,» expresó Michel Enríquez, al leer el compromiso de nuestros beisbolistas, además de comentar la alegría del equipo por conocer de la favorable convalecencia del Comandante en Jefe.

En las palabras de resumen, Ángel Iglesias, vicepresidente del INDER, pidió el máximo esfuerzo en el terreno al «equipo grande de la Patria».

Asistieron también a la ceremonia Hassan Pérez, segundo secretario de la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas, así como otros dirigentes del Partido y el Gobierno, y glorias del deporte cubano.

La ilustre tropa de Rey Vicente Anglada sostendrá varios topes de preparación en Taipei, antes de competir en la Copa, del 9 al 19 de noviembre.

The man who bought chess

Pawn to rook 4

Sunday October 29, 2006
Observer Sport Monthly
By Ed Vulliamy

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of the remote Russian republic of Kalmykia, and friend of the Kremlin, last month achieved what no one had been able to do for more than a decade: he reunified world chess when he hosted the most thrilling match since the days of Fischer and Spassky. A devout Buddhist and mystic, he claims to have been abducted by aliens, rules with an iron fist and wants to turn his homeland into the world’s chess capital. Interview and report by Ed Vulliamy

A breeze, rare in this land of gales, rustles a canopy under which a Buddha sits. A woman puts down her shopping bag to place a flower and speak her devotions. Across the main square there is a statue of Lenin. And between the Buddha and Lenin, in the centre of the square, is a huge chess board with outsized pieces, around which a crowd watches a game between two rugged men.This is Elista, capital of the faraway Russian republic of Kalmykia, one of the federation’s poorest and most remote. Beyond the dilapidated, low-rise blocks that encircle the city centre are nothing but windswept steppe and boundless distance, where flat earth meets the sky. The nearest functioning airport is several hours’ drive away, in Volgograd - formerly Stalingrad - in Russia proper, past nothing but a few sheep, the odd lonely shepherd or bareback rider and thick and swooping murders of crows.Very few people had heard of this southern republic before the world chess championship was held here in October. It was won by Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik, who beat Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Staged here by the world chess federation, the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), the match made Elista the undisputed world capital of the ancient game, and it became so because FIDE’s president - the man who was driven from the championship venue to a dancing display and then to a banquet in a white Rolls-Royce - also happens to be the President of Kalmykia: the multi-millionaire chess fanatic Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov.

Ilyumzhinov is eccentric to say the least. For a start, he believes in - and, indeed, claims to have travelled with - space aliens. He combines a political ruthlessness that tolerates little opposition with a deep spiritual devotion and a belief that bringing chess to his country is divinely ordained. He can be charming, yet his narcissism and ambition are shameless. He has had discourses with Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin, while fighting his own election campaigns on promises of a free mobile phone for every shepherd and that Diego Maradona will play for the local football team.

And now he has crowned himself the king of world chess through hosting the reunification into a single championship of a game played by millions but riven by 13 years of acrimony and intrigue. With Kramnik’s victory, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov completes his purchase of the world’s most venerable and esoteric game. Writing in the Wall Street Journal during the championship, Garry Kasparov described Ilyumzhinov as having established ‘a vertical column of power that would be familiar to any observer of Russia today. He runs the chess world in the same authoritarian way he runs his republic.’

The final enthralling match of the championship took place on 13 October. After the match finished level at 6-6, the championship was decided on a tense afternoon of tie-breaks - equivalent to a penalty shoot-out in football - to give chess its first undisputed world champion since Kasparov split from FIDE in 1993 to found the Professional Chess Association (PCA), a title he once defended against Britain’s Nigel Short in London. Since then, the PCA and FIDE have held separate championships, so that chess has been like the two American baseball leagues, but without an equivalent to the World Series. Attempts to organise a merging ‘final’ between the two parallel columns had proved unsuccessful … until now, when Kramnik, the PCA champion, agreed to take on Topalov, FIDE champion, after Ilyumzhinov put up $1m prize money, to be shared between the two players.

This is how world chess established itself in the back of beyond: in 1995, FIDE - the second-largest sports organisation in the world after Fifa, with 154 national members - was in crisis, its president Florencio Campomanes besieged by allegations of financial irregularity. At the FIDE conference in Paris that year, Campomanes stood down, on condition that his successor would be Ilyumzhinov. Two years previously, Ilyumzhinov had been elected as President of Kalmykia after campaigning across the steppe in a Lincoln stretch limousine, promising to transform the wretchedly poor republic into the ‘Kalmykia Corporation’, a ‘new Kuwait’. He was re-elected, unopposed, in 1995, and celebrated by staging a Boney M concert in Elista’s Lenin Square. In 2002, he was reappointed by Vladimir Putin after elections for heads of republics were abolished by Moscow.

By taking over FIDE as well as Kalmykia, Ilyumzhinov cast himself and his country into a leading role on the world stage that would combine fantasy and reality, delusion and realpolitik, chess and money. Ilyumzhinov has funded prizes all over the world; he has spent $100m on a complex called City Chess on the edge of his capital - including a hotel and chess museum - with an even more extravagant development to come. For the present championship, Kalmykia’s parliament building - the only suitable arena - had to be completely refurbished at huge cost. Once, Ilyumzhinov approached Kasparov in Budapest and gave him $100,000 in cash, to compensate for the loss of Soviet royalties on a book he had written. Quite where Ilyumzhinov’s spending ends and where Kalmykia’s begins is a matter of bitter debate.

Ilyumzhinov belongs to a people descended from Genghis Khan’s Mongol hordes, who wandered west to the Caspian to establish the only Buddhist nation in Europe. The word ‘Kalmyk’ is Turkish for ‘remnant’. A people of nomads and shepherds, their religion and ways were generally tolerated by Imperial Moscow and St Petersburg, so long as their warriors protected Russia’s southern edges. But Stalin was convinced the Kalmyks were sympathetic to the Nazi invasion of 1941 and, from 28 December 1943, ordered the deportation of the entire people to Siberia, a third of whom died in cattle trucks en route. When they were allowed to return in 1957, during Nikita Krushchev’s ‘thaw’, there were 70,000 Kalymks left. Now, there are 320,000, and their national sport is their President’s obsession, the game he made compulsory in school soon after taking office: chess.

No match since the days of Spassky and Fischer, or Kasparov and Karpov, attracted such wide attention among the non-initiated as that between Kramnik and Topalov, thanks to what became known as ‘the great toilet scandal’. After four games, with Kramnik winning 3-1, Topalov’s team complained that Kramnik was visiting the toilet on average 50 times a game - with each game lasting between three-and-a-half and seven hours. The implication was that he was cheating with a computer. An appeals committee ruled out ‘external help’ and said that Kramnik was visiting the toilet only 18 times a game. But the committee partially upheld the complaint, having been advised by Ilyumzhinov that Kramnik’s toilet should be sealed and a common lavatory used, with videotapes of Kramnik’s rest breaks (though not in the toilet itself, which is not surveyed) passed on to Topalov’s team for analysis. Incensed, Kramnik refused to play game five, which he forfeited to Topalov. The chess world rallied behind Kramnik and, after a direct intervention by Ilyumzhinov, the rest of the match was played under the shadow of a threat that Kramnik would not recognise - indeed, would legally contest - a Topalov victory.

The audience for the final tie-breaks was divided into two: those watching live, in the hush of the arena, and those following on a screen in the lobby, under a sign reading: ‘Keep Silence’. Fat chance. Leather-skinned old men wearing Soviet military medals debated each move, while various hypotheses were played out on a second screen by the commentator from Moscow, Grandmaster Vladimir Belov. ‘It’d be crazy for black to go g4!’ someone shouted. ‘No! He has to open the queen!’ ‘It’s great having the match here,’ says Belov. ‘In Moscow, chess gets lost in everything else. Here, it is everything else.’

Tambayev Samdjevich, who is 83, was wounded at Stalingrad and was then ‘retired to Siberia because of my nationality’. After working as an accountant, he returned to Kalmykia to become a full-time Communist Party official. He is a Topalov fan, ‘because of his offensive game. Maybe I learned to respect that approach in the Red Army.’ Dmitri Akuma and Stanislav Nastashouk, both 14, have attended every game and love chess, because, Dmitri says, ‘it helps us develop ourselves and our minds, to keep us away from alcohol and drugs’. Another enthusiastic onlooker is Oksana Sitnik, with her blond tresses, micro-skirt, sheer stockings and sharp-heeled boots. ‘Staging the championship here is the achievement of our President,’ she says. ‘Kalmykia is a chess nation, and the President reflects that.’

With the championship won by Kramnik, it is Ilyumzhinov - rather than the dazed champion - who once more takes centre stage: first at a performance of traditional Kalmyk dancing, during which Kramnik is crowned with a huge wreath and presented with a gold cup. Ilyumzhinov gives the champion a further prize - a thoroughbred horse. ‘I know you will both be back in Kalmykia,’ he tells the two chess champions. ‘In fact, Mr Kramnik was saying just now how beautiful our Kalmyk women are, and I would point out that both these players are bachelors.’

The banquet that follows features rounds of ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Strangers in the Night’ on full orchestra. ‘Millions and millions of lovers of chess all over the world have looked to this moment to unite the game in Kalmykia,’ Ilyumzhinov says. ‘Both outstanding players came here with much to lose, but did so in the name of chess, to create a single champion, and to do so here in Kalmykia.’ Oddly, and unlike Western politicians who flaunt their happy family lives at every opportunity, Ilyumzhinov airbrushes his wife and children from the scene and his life story - there is no visible First Lady of Kalmykia.

Ilyumzhinov’s reputation goes before him. It does so in ubiquitous billboards and photographs of him with the Dalai Lama, who came to Elista in 2004 to consecrate land for the $50 million Buddhist temple. Or with Pope John Paul II, whom Ilyumzhinov met in 1994, after which he built a church for Elista’s reputed sole Catholic. Or with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who came in 2002, for whom he also built a church.

The City Chess complex was built for $100m for the 1998 Chess Olympiad. It comprises a hotel with huge chess boards in the lobby, a chess museum of trophies and memorabilia, chess tables, a swimming pool and luxury flats for Elista’s nomenklatura. In the event, the championship could not be held there because there was no public arena large enough.

On arriving in Elista, the visitor receives a copy of Ilyumzhinov’s autobiography, translated into English. It is called The President’s Crown of Thorns, and can be read as a text book on the cult of personality, locating Ilyumzhinov and Kalmykia at the centre of Russian, global and, indeed, cosmic events.

The narrative recounts how Ilyumzhinov was born in 1962, the grandson of a Russian Civil War hero. Growing up under the influence of his grandfather, who played chess, the young Ilyumzhinov reflected on how ‘the 32 white and 32 black checks on the board seemed to me to encompass the duality of the whole world’. At night, he played chess with a ‘black-masked ghost’, and learned the art of leadership through captaining a youth chess team. He experienced spiritual enlightenment while sleeping out on the steppe - ‘I am the merest speck of dust in the boundless, living world’. Ilyumzhinov drew inspiration from Buddha’s promise that one of those born in the Year of the Tiger (which he was) will be ’summoned to govern’ the people in their hour of need ‘and bring nobility’. And so it goes on until Ilyumzhinov is admitted to the Foreign Relations Institute in Moscow, to study Japanese, where he encounters Western reports on UFO sightings, ‘clairvoyance, bio-energy and enigmatic phenomena’. During the period of Glasnost, Ilyumzhinov was appointed Russian director of a Soviet-Japanese firm, Liko-Raduga, importing Audi and Volkswagen cars. As the USSR collapsed and was looted, Ilyumzhinov took ‘bigger risks’ and founded his own Sun Corporation, now with 50 subsidiaries and an annual turnover of $500m, as we arrive at Chapter 7: ‘Without Me The People Are Incomplete’.

So begins Ilyumzhinov’s political career, at the urging of others, craving deliverance, and a sense of duty towards the poor. First, he becomes Kalmyk deputy to Moscow, then President of the republic, as predicted by Vanga, the Bulgarian clairvoyant he consults. The Sun Corporation, meanwhile, is ‘earning huge profits’, so great that ‘we could no longer keep track of the money’ - but always ‘honest’, ‘no shady dealing’. ‘When I left the world of business, many cried,’ Ilyumzhinov writes, his ‘Kalmykia Corporation’ having now ‘entered the international economic arena as an equal partner’. Then he moved into politics, becoming President of Kalmykia.

On the final afternoon of the championship Ilyumzhinov was in an excited mood. ‘Consider,’ he said, ‘the championship will be decided on Friday 13th, 13 years after the 13th champion, Kasparov, left FIDE. This is more than just numbers - this is a sign. I believe that chess comes either from God or from beings flying a UFO. I should know! They took me aboard their airship while I was on a business trip to Moscow, in 1997, to a distant star. It’s perfectly normal - last year, I visited America and learned from official statistics that there are 4,000 annual reports of contact.’

We continue for some time discussing the divinity of chess. ‘Each year, archaeologists find evidence of chess in America, India, Japan or China, played under the same rules, from a time without planes or the internet. Look, the chessboard has 64 squares, and our cells are made of 64 pieces. All this shows that chess comes either from God or from UFOs.’

There is divinity, too, in Kalmykia’s anointment as capital of chess: ‘God intended Kalmykia to be known for chess. Through chess, I have opened the world to Kalmykia and Kalmykia to the world. Every year, I visit 50 or 60 countries, meeting heads of state.’ Chess, he says, is also ‘a sign of law’, a way of governing ‘to achieve order and peace’ and the key to his success in business. ‘As in chess, I have to think, in politics and in business, not only about the next move, but to be 10 moves ahead. A ruler and a businessman must be 10 moves ahead of his people or competitors. And as in chess, there are no compromises.’

The people he most admires for combining order, morality and wisdom are the Dalai Lama, Genghis Khan, Lenin and Jesus Christ.

He enthuses about foreign investment pouring into Kalmykia, for which last year, he says, the republic came sixth out of the 89 republics in the Russian Federation. There will be a joint venture with a German company to process wool and with an Italian firm to manufacture plastic windows. A deal was agreed in Amsterdam to develop wind power and another for a port on the Caspian and oil extraction. ‘I also made an offer of $10m to bring Lenin’s body from its mausoleum in Moscow. I thought: if the Russians don’t want him, we do. His grandmother was Kalmyk, and it would be good for tourism.’

The most revolutionary forthcoming venture, he says, results from ‘investment I made into research in Kalmykia and Moscow for a new automobile gear system that will make cars cheaper and safer. I invested this money 10 years ago and people said, “You’re crazy - why haven’t Ford thought of this?” But they hadn’t, and we spotted the people who had. In that way, I am crazy, and my friends are crazy - but wait and see.’

Ilyumzhinov planned to stage the 1996 FIDE championships, between Anatoly Karpov and Gata Kamsky, in Baghdad, after a meeting with Saddam Hussein (it was eventually played in Elista, after widespread protests). ‘I wanted to organise a big tournament in Iraq because Saddam Hussein is an intelligent and cultured man,’ he assures me, ‘and he supports chess, he understands its value.’ Ilyumzhinov discusses his vision for the next stage. ‘I want to establish a global chess corporation, based in Amsterdam, to concern itself with securing major sponsorship from companies like Microsoft, Intel and Google. And, of course, Coca-Cola - in fact, as I sit here talking, I’ve come up with the slogan: “First think, then drink!” How about that? Why don’t you come with me to Atlanta and we’ll propose it?’ Ilyumzhinov returns to it again and again: ‘Have you got that? - “First think, then drink!”‘

The tie-breaks are about to begin. We conclude, and during a quick debriefing session, the keeper to Ilyumzhinov’s gateway, Buichna Galzamov, advises: ‘Call it quantum psychology.’

‘How can the law-abiding nature of social development co-exist with the cult of personality?’ Ilyumzhinov asks in his book - an observation worth heeding as one prepares to explore his fiefdom.

Yashkul, Kalmykia’s so-called second city, has grass growing between the flagstones of its main square, and another statue of Lenin waving from one end at a mural commemorating the Red Army on a crumbling wall opposite. Devastated by the agricultural crisis that followed the closure and looting of state farms during the Nineties, the town is a sprawl of buildings at various stages of completion or abandonment. But in the First Gymnasium School, there is a little miracle at work, fruit of Ilyumzhinov’s Directive 129: ‘On government support for the development of a chess movement’. Tseren Bukhayev is taking a chess class for 10- and 11-year-olds whose confidence is as disarming as it is enchanting. ‘I like chess because it is an intelligent game and helps me to speculate,’ says Aysa Valentova, who is 10. ‘It’s a kind of entertainment,’ says 11-year-old Kema Tsandikova - in English - ‘but it helps me to concentrate and helps me in other subjects, of which my favourite is biology.’

After school, some of these children walk across a scrappy yard to the comfortless Palace of Culture, where the chess club opens at four in the afternoon. There, they play one another, or against old men and women, among volumes on chess history and beneath a hall of fame, featuring portraits of champions back to Wilhelm Steinitz, Jose Raul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine and giving equal prominence to Nona Gaprindashvili and the famous Georgian Empresses of the women’s game. ‘More and more people are coming to play,’ says Oleg Murgayev, preparing for the evening’s competition. ‘Sometimes they will stay all night.’ It all seems to bear out what Ilyumzhinov’s assistant Berik Balbagayev says when he talks about chess as ‘the young generation’s best protection against drugs’, and ‘a way to consider and take responsibility for one’s moves, to learn defeat wisely so that next time you won’t make the same mistake’. Or the Elista chess school teacher Mikhail Golosya’s dictum: ‘Chess helps to create a rational, conscious sense of citizenship and self.’ But unfortunately Kalmykia cannot live on chess alone.

Soon after being elected President in 1993, Ilyumzhinov effectively abolished parliament, re-appointing his own, smaller version and packing ministries with his inner circle. There’s even a joke in his own cartoon book: ‘If you want to succeed, ask a wizard to make you one of Ilyumzhinov’s classmates!’ Any cogent opposition was effectively driven underground, and that is where its leaders remain, cowering like hunted foxes in a shabby office at the Hotel Elista.

There, a former construction engineer, Valery Baldaev, and a lawyer, Boris Andzhayev, label Ilyumzhinov ‘a master of illusion’. Baldaev posits that: ‘The economy has stagnated, there is no development or investment.’ Unemployment runs at 43 per cent. ‘If all this investment exists, where is it? Where are the factories? Where are the companies that went bankrupt and the farms that closed? Where are the 40 planes that flew from the airport, now closed, in Soviet times?’

Ilyumzhinov’s insistence that Kalmykia ranks sixth in foreign investment raises a hollow laugh - ‘That’s his fantasy’ - and Baldaev produces a report from the auditing committee for the Southern Russian Republics that, he says, places Kalmykia in 81st place in the federation. Another report shows Kalmykia as having well below average income, at 1,978 roubles (£39) per month (the federal average is 2,376).

Meanwhile, says Andzhayev, City Chess was built in part from the public budget, as was the towering Buddhist temple. It was the same with the refurbishment of parliament for the present championships. ‘He is lying if he says that all his own money was used,’ says Baldaev. ‘It is, in effect, almost a kind of personality tax,’ says Valery Ulyadurov, editor of the opposition paper, Sovietskaya Kalmykia. ‘The chess championships are all surface and when they’re over they do nothing for the people of Kalmykia, except for the bill we have to pay.’

In 1994, Sovietskaya Kalmykia’s offices were raided by police and equipment was confiscated. The paper instead printed in Volgograd and was distributed from the back of a car. And, in 1998, it began investigating one of Ilyumzhinov’s schemes: the creation of an ‘offshore’ haven for Russian companies, which, by paying a registration fee to an agency alleged by opposition groups to be connected to Ilyumzhinov, could avoid paying republic taxes, though they were still liable for federal tax - making Kalmykia in effect a Cayman Island on the steppe.

The journalist Larisa Yudina was about to publish her findings on the eve of the 1998 Chess Olympiad, an event that the Glasnost Defence Foundation, a human-rights group based in Moscow, had pleaded players to boycott because, ‘you will eat and drink on money received by a racket - President Ilyumzhinov’s private fund, which is financed by an unlawful tribute by all the companies registered in Kalmykia’s offshore zone’.

In 1996, Yudina had described Ilyumzhinov to a Western newspaper as ‘a Khan, charming abroad but vengeful at home. If you are against him, that’s it.’ On the eve of the Chess Olympiad, her investigation into the tax haven still in progress, Yudina was stabbed to death, her body dumped near a pond.

Federal authorities took over the murder investigation and, in autumn 1999, convicted two men, on the basis of their own confessions. They were sentenced to 21 years. One, Sergei Vaskin, was an adviser to Ilyumzhinov; the second, Shanukov, is described by Ulyadurov, as ‘a criminal gangster’. A third man, an accomplice, turned state’s evidence against his companions in return for acquittal on a conspiracy charge.

Kalmykia’s offshore system was closed by federal authorities after a prosecutor’s report of 29 August 2002 concluded that few taxes had arrived in federal coffers from the Kalmyk-registered companies, and that: ‘As a result, 4.238bn roubles have not been received by the federal bank during the year 2000 … and 6.295bn in 2001.’ Moreover, ‘Criminals are using this system to commit their illegalities of a regional, inter-regional and international character, doing grave harm to Russian state interests.’ Kalmykia is now liable to Moscow for the missing taxes, which the opposition estimates at some 20bn roubles.

A portrait of the murdered Yudina is the only decoration on the dank wall of the opposition office, where Baldaev says: ‘We still can’t distribute the paper in the shops or post it, and any advertiser would have to be sanctioned by Ilyumzhinov.’

The paper’s aim, he says, is simply ‘to present an alternative point of view to that of the Ilyumzhinov government - socially, economically and politically’. For instance, says Andzhayev, a fraction of the amount spent on the chess championships could have gone to refurbish and provide hygienic equipment for a hospital treating victims of tuberculosis - rife, he says, in Kalmykia - which is instead due for closure.

‘What I say to these critics,’ says Ilyumzhinov during our interview, ‘is this: “Come to Kalmykia! Come to Elista and see! You will find simple people here, living in order and in peace while all around there is war and terrorism, explosions in every republic.” In Moscow, I am afraid, I am told: “You’re not a Russian, go back to the Caucasus!” - while here, everyone can play, everyone is safe, everyone is welcome. That is democracy.’

On the death of Larisa Yudina, Ilyumzhinov says: ‘That newspaper wrote something, but I have nothing to do with this. In a country of 300,000 people, we have 50 or 60 newspapers, more than any other republic in the federation - that is a free press.’ On the funding of City Chess, the temple and the present championship, Ilyumzhinov is adamant that ‘not a rouble came from the people. It was all paid for by the sponsors, me and my friends.’ On the offshore tax scam: ‘Anything wrong had nothing to do with me whatsoever. What I want here is an offshore zone for all the religions of the world, in the interests of peace. And this we will have.’

In a place of whispers, echoes and caution, it is hard to gauge Ilyumzhinov’s esteem. He seems popular among the young: on Saturday night at the Overdrive Club, girls dance with each other on Russia’s regulation stiletto boots, while their boyfriends drink. Brig, drummer in the band playing, called Noizz, says: ‘Ilyumzhinov’s my neighbour, one of us, a regular type.’ Konstantin, from behind sunglasses, calls Ilyumzhinov, in English: ‘A cool guy - hey, he got rich.’ Sasha, a thoughtful language student, considers Ilyumzhinov ‘a very good model for our nation’.

But not everybody agrees. ‘He’s a very young leader,’ says Stalingrad veteran Samdjevich, when we meet again after the championship, ‘always promising things he can’t deliver. Like that port on the Caspian, like this airport that never opens. Things are so much worse now - people can’t get jobs, and the pension value goes down and down.’

Vladimir Kusko, a PE tutor thinks: ‘It seems wrong to spend all this money on chess while poor people are short of food and housing is bad. But then, ask yourself: is Tony Blair paying for your Olympics, or will you?’

The low-rise flats in Ulan-Egre have been demolished and where the social club stood there is now a football pitch. On an outlying road, what was once the collectivised farm is practically lifeless. Beside it, old Nina Mikhailovna tends her three goats on a patch of scrub. ‘It’s all gone downhill over the last eight to 10 years. It was lovely here when we had water,’ she recalls. ‘There were strawberries and trees. But the pipes broke, and no one came to mend them. The farm had tractors and a truck, but they all disappeared. My pension is worth less and less since the Brezhnev times, but I can live off the goats: these two to eat, and this one for milk. Ilyumzhinov? Well, it’s a bit like Putin, isn’t it? I’ll make up my mind when I see what they do. Yes, Ilyumzhinov has made Elista bloom, all those flowers and the chess. But what about the rest? Will he re-open the farm? Let’s make that the judgement, shall we, now that the chess is over.’

· Ed Vulliamy is an Observer journalist and was named Foreign Reporter of the Year in 1993 and 1997 at the British Press Awards

Bobby Fischer: Capablanca one of the greatest chess players ever


Bobby Fischer plays chess with GM Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar Chess Blog

October 30, 2006

Bobby Fischer did his first radio interview in nearly a year and a half. This time, it was from Reykjavic, Iceland. For most part, he seems to be so much more relaxed. He stated that he enjoys his time in Iceland and the Icelandic are very nice.

In the interview, Bobby discussed about his Swiss bank saga. He was asked about the strongest World Chess Champions. He basically said that it would be unfair to compare players from different generations. He mentioned that players today have much greater chess knowledge and opening theories due to more information available as well as having strong computer software.

However, his choices for greatest natural players are Capablanca, Morphy and even Steinitz. Do you agree with Bobby?

posted by SusanPolgar at 10/30/2006 01:10:00 PM

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cuba Decries US Blockade Excuses

United Nations, Oct 30 (Prensa Latina) Monday Cuba denounced, in a press release, the falsehood of the diverse justifications the United States used to rationalize its economic war against the island.

The General Assembly will vote on November 8, for the 15th consecutive year, the resolution "Necessity of put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba." Last year the resolution passed by the record figure of 182 votes in favor.

The press note, "US blockade against Cuba: massive and systematic violation of the Cuban people s human rights," points out there is no international law or regulation that justifies the use of blockade in peace time.

It recalls that since 1909, at the London Naval Conference, it was agreed as a principle of international law that "a blockade is an act of war and based on that, its execution is exclusively possible between belligerent nations." The Cuban Republic s Permanent Mission to the UN announced that the falsehood of the US excuses have been proven in US official documents declassified in 1991.

The press release further denounces that direct damage, caused to the Cuban people due to the implementation of the blockade, this year exceeded 86 billion dollars.

Since 2004, further measures have been taken to intensify the blockade and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights, and the note explains those new measures are in opposition to the fifth article of the UNESCO Declaration of Principles of cultural, international cooperation.

It notes that one such measure is the lessening of the already limited remittances a Cuban resident in the United States can send to his her relatives in Cuba.

Finally the document confirms that by intensifying its threat of military aggression, the US violates both countries (Cuba and the US) sacred right to peace.

Vassily Ivanchuk will be present at the 2006 Capablanca Memorial Turnament in Cuba




Ukranian Chess Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk (left) will head the list of world ranked chess players that will participates at the 2006 Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Havana, Cuba from November 19 to 30.

www.aldia.cu

Estará Ivanchuk en el Capablanca de ajedrez en La Habana / Agencia de Información Nacional

Los estelares Grandes Maestros (GM), el ucraniano Vassily Ivanchuk y el ruso Evgeny Bareeev, prestigiarán el próximo Memorial Capablanca de ajedrez, previsto del 19 al 30 de noviembre próximo en Ciudad de La Habana.

Ivanchuk, séptimo de la clasificación mundial con dos mil 741 puntos Elo y ganador de la edición del 2005, confirmó su asistencia para el grupo Elite, el cual será animado por seis hombres, entre ellos Bareev, 24 del orbe por sus dos mil 683 unidades y los GM cubanos Leinier Domínguez (2 655) y Lázaro Bruzón (2 648).

Otras figuras importantes del juego ciencia en Cuba como el GM holguinero Walter Arencibia, el villaclareño Jesús Nogueira y el matancero Reynaldo Vera también animarán el prestigioso torneo.

Como mínimo el certamen más antiguo de América será de categoría XV, similar a la lograda el pasado año, pero no se descarta llegar a XVI o XVII.

El GM francés Robert Fontaine (2 557) y el Maestro Internacional (MI) peruano Emilio Córdova (2 482) confirmaron para el torneo Abierto, novedad de esta edición.

Wayne Smith: "The Cuban economy is doing O.K."

Bloomberg.com

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- By 10 p.m. on most nights, the sea wall alongside Havana's main drag, El Malecon, a 10-kilometer- long highway bordering the sea, is standing room only. Young Cubans listen to street musicians strumming Cuba's slow, sensuous guajira rhythms, swig from cartons of rum and discuss politics with foreigners out of earshot of the night police patrols.

For the first time in more than 15 years, some see a better future.

Danis Díaz is one. Unemployed right now because he broke his leg working on an oil rig, he says he doesn't expect any trouble finding a new job once he recovers. ``I am optimistic,'' Díaz, 24, says. ``It's the first time in years I've felt that way. I'm sure that new job opportunities will pop up. I hear the Venezuelans are helping.''

These are prosperous times for the economy of the Republic of Cuba, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does indeed have a lot to do with it. Gross domestic product grew at 12 percent last year, according to Cuba's Economy and Planning Ministry, the fastest rate since President Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and turned the island into a communist state.

Though reliable data on the Cuban economy is hard to come by, and government figures are often out of date and impossible to confirm, anecdotal evidence backs up the Cuban claims.

``The Cuban economy is doing OK,'' says Wayne Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington who spent 25 years as a U.S. diplomat focusing on Cuba. ``I see it moving forward. I see important improvements.'' Smith last visited Cuba in September.

Booming Tourism

The government says foreign investment was up 39 percent in 2005. Officials say tourism is booming: A record 2.5 million visitors will fly into Cuba in 2006 from Europe and from other Latin American nations.

Wages have more than doubled in the past two years to an average of 398 Cuban national pesos ($21) a month, Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez says, and the subsidized monthly allotments for every Cuban citizen of staples such as rice, eggs and cooking oil have been increased.

The government has even added chocolate to the food package for the first time. The Ministry of Construction had plans to build 150,000 new housing units in the year ended on Sept. 30 and to remodel another 280,000.

Even as Castro, 80, lay in a hospital suffering from an unidentified intestinal ailment that required surgery, the economic good news kept pouring in. Gross domestic product, which was $58 billion in 2005, grew another 12.5 percent in the first six months of 2006, Rodriguez said in a Sept. 12 press conference.

Chavez's Project

Venezuela's Chavez, 51, who took office in 1999, has helped drive Cuba's expansion by adopting the island nation as his favorite overseas project. Under an October 2000 accord engineered by Chavez, Venezuela, the world's fifth-biggest petroleum exporter, agreed to sell up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba at a discount of as much as 40 percent.

Some $5 billion worth of oil has been delivered since 2003. Jose Toro Hardy, a former board member of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and a critic of Chavez's oil policies, says Cuba has been reselling oil it doesn't immediately need at market prices to bolster its budget.

Ties to Chavez may give Castro's regime, which in mid- October was being run by his brother, Raul, 75, the financial independence to survive Fidel's death.

``All the indications are that the Cuban economy is stronger than it has been at any point since the end of the Cold War,'' says Robert Muse, a Washington-based attorney who specializes in international trade and the U.S. embargo of Cuba. ``Those who bet the only way for the Cuban economy to resuscitate was through Castro's death, or a transition to a democratic system, may keep waiting perpetually.''

Spreading the Revolution

The flood of new money pouring into Havana has allowed Castro to revive his effort to spread his revolution -- and his anti-Yanqui ideology -- to the rest of Latin America and to Africa. Cuba, a nation of 11.3 million people, claims to have stationed thousands of doctors, nurses, engineers and social workers in 68 developing countries.

The workers are an advertisement for what Smith calls the one success of Castro's revolution: the development of a universal, sophisticated educational system that churns out more doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and scientists than Cuba has work for.

Chavez has picked up the Cuban dictator's mantle, attacking U.S. President George W. Bush relentlessly. In a Sept. 20 outburst at the United Nations, Chavez called Bush ``the Devil'' and said he could still smell the sulfur on the microphone Bush had used the day before.

The Enemy: Washington

Chavez's goal, says Susan Kaufman Purcell, head of the Miami-based Center for Hemispheric Policy, is to damage U.S. political and economic interests in Latin America. Cuba is just one of a dozen countries to which Chavez has given free or discounted oil. ``The fact that petroleum prices are so high has given Chavez the wherewithal to spend money lavishly and buy influence,'' Purcell says. ``He is taking over the role of the former Soviet Union and will try to ensure that both Cuba and the region remain independent from and, ideally, hostile to the U.S.''

The help from Chavez comes a decade and a half after Cuba was thrown into penury by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia then withdrew billions of dollars in aid that had propped up the Cuban economy since the 1960s.

Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Perez Roque, 41, says that because of the withdrawal of Soviet aid, Cuba's economy contracted 35 percent from 1991 to '95.

Exporting Doctors

Venezuela's Trade Ministry says overall commerce with Cuba will increase 42 percent this year to about $1.7 billion. About $400 million of that is a kind of barter, in which Chavez pays in oil for the salaries of more than 22,000 doctors, dentists, teachers, agricultural experts and sports trainers Cuba has stationed in Venezuela.

In turn, Venezuela has enrolled about 10,000 Venezuelans in Cuban schools, where they're being trained as social workers, doctors and teachers.

PDVSA is helping Cuba, an oil producer in its own right, modernize an aging refinery at the port of Cienfuegos. The company is also paying for construction of new housing and building a $20 million electricity grid in a rural district of the island.

Cuba and Venezuela have also joined forces to provide financial aid to Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca grower whom Chavez and Castro helped bring to power.

``These new leaders have made me the happiest man in the world,'' Castro said after signing a cooperation agreement with Chavez and Morales in April.

Friends in the Region

One would have to go back to the 1960s to find a time when Castro had so much sympathy in the region, says Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro, 46, a former guerrilla leader who's known both Castro and Chavez for years. In July, Cuba signed an accord with Mercosur, the South American trading bloc founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to reduce tariffs on two-way trade. Under the accord, the island nation will export cigars, tobacco, rum and medicine in exchange for industrial products such as buses, home appliances and farming equipment.

``Castro is making his diplomats work hard toward getting the country good commercial deals that ensure it survives the U.S. embargo for some more years,'' Petro says. ``On one side, they know that they need foreign money to modernize the economy. On the other hand, they are aware that depending too much on aid from a single country does no good.''

Chavez, at the same time, is setting himself up as the new Fidel. He has given a total of $5 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. He also gave $1 million to several relief agencies, including the American Red Cross, to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Havana Hero

This winter, PDVSA will finance 40 percent of the cost of home heating oil for 180,000 poor households in eight states in the U.S. through its U.S. subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Chavez's generosity and his constant baiting of Bush have earned him heroic status with Castro. His face smiles down from banners and billboards across Cuba. ``We are sowing the seeds,'' reads one billboard along the road from the international airport to the capital. It depicts Chavez, dressed in a red shirt, gazing warmly at a group of Cuban children.

Havana-based Radio Reloj issues a steady stream of news reports extolling Chavez's achievements in what he calls his ``Bolivarian revolution.'' Like Simon Bolivar, who was born in Caracas and liberated much of northern South America from Spain in the 19th century, Chavez wants to free Venezuela and its neighbors from U.S. ``hegemony.''

From July 31 to mid-October, Chavez made three hospital visits to Castro, and he appeared in Havana in September for the annual conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, which Cuba hosted.

Siding with Iran

Chavez railed there against ``the U.S. imperialistic strategy that is placing at risk the very survival of the human species'' and called on developing nations to free themselves from Washington-dominated economic policies.

He also sided with Iran, as he had in the past, in its fight with the U.S. and Europe over its nuclear program, and signed trade accords with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas after the close of the conference.

Castro has been helped by the free market system he despises, which has driven up the value of Cuba's two main exports: nickel and sugar. The price of nickel, which is used to make stainless steel, gained 485 percent, to $32,625 a metric ton, from the start of 2002 to its peak on Oct. 20 on the London Metal Exchange. The metal cost $31,000 as of Oct. 27.

Sugar, once Cuba's largest export and now in demand because it's used to make ethanol, reached a high of 19.73 cents a pound on Feb. 3 on the New York Board of Trade, more than double its level a year earlier. The price has since fallen 40 percent to 11.79 cents a pound on Oct. 27.

Record Exports

Cuban officials will not release figures on specific exports, saying the U.S. would try to block the trade if they did. They say total Cuban exports reached a record of $2.9 billion last year, up from $1.4 billion in 2004.

``Last year was one of the most fruitful in the history of the revolution,'' Economy Minister Rodriguez told the press in September. ``It marked the start of a wave of transformations in our economy that will last through the coming years. We expect 2006 to be as fruitful as 2005 was for our nation.''

Ordinary citizens confirm that living conditions in Cuba have improved since Chavez made himself Castro's compadre. More and better food has been available in the past year, they say, though supplies of items such as beef and milk are still inadequate.

On their average pay of $21 a month, Cubans can afford the 80 U.S. cents they pay for the 10 eggs, 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) of rice, 2.2 pounds of chicken, 10 ounces (284 grams) of beans and 8 ounces of soy meal they're entitled to.

Hard Times

Prices rise for additional quantities, though, and the ordinary Cuban can't afford most of the goods sold in the luxury stores that dot Havana and are mostly reserved for tourists.

Still, Cubans feel they're better off than before. ``We went through hard times all these years, and, to me, the worst is now behind us,'' says Luis Anuez, 62, a Havana-based taxi driver. ``It doesn't necessarily mean we're doing great. The country has gone through a rough ride.''

Across Havana and in other Cuban cities such as Santiago, a visitor sees dozens of apartment buildings under construction, designed to replace the deteriorating, pre-revolution housing that serves most Cubans. Cuba is also rebuilding roads, bridges, railroads, ports and industrial facilities.

Government investment in such facilities rose 38 percent in 2005, Rodriguez says.

Cuba's Oil Wealth

Since mid-2005, the government has been purchasing a planned 1,000 new buses, of which 350 have begun traversing Cuba's bumpy roads. Moraima Reyes, a housewife and mother of two, says traveling on Havana's old buses, derisively labeled ``camels,'' still mortifies her and her children. ``It's getting better, but we are far from having a good transport service,'' she says.

If there's a key, besides Chavez, to Cuba's future prosperity, it may be oil. Cuba now produces 80,000 barrels of oil a day. Experts at the University of Miami say the island chain might have 1 billion barrels of untapped reserves off its northern and western coasts. For now, the country consumes more than twice as much as it produces, with the difference made up by shipments from Venezuela.

Cuba doesn't have the resources to exploit its potential oil wealth. So, on Sept. 10, the government gave Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India's state-owned oil company, permission to drill for crude in its waters. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Union Cuba Petroleo, the state oil company, is also setting up joint ventures with Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Spain's Repsol YPF SA and Sherritt International Corp. of Canada.

Cubans in Caracas

Even as his oil tankers help raise the standard of living in Cuba, Chavez has to deal with his own country's poverty. Some 47 percent of Venezuelans fall below the UN's official poverty line. The ``socialism'' embraced by Chavez in Venezuela, where free enterprise still thrives, consists mostly of new programs for the poor.

Cubans now play a crucial role in Chavez's most important anti-poverty program, a group of 19 social service centers called misiones bolivarianas, or Bolivarian missions. Chavez has spent about $15 billion to build up the missions since February 2003, $6 billion of it pulled from the country's burgeoning hard-currency reserves, which now stand at almost $35 billion.

The missions include free medical and dental clinics; schools; literacy and job training programs; and outright handouts for the poor. Since 2003, the missions have spent $6 billion on food and housing subsidies. Food is distributed through 14,000 discount supermarkets located in poor areas, and hot food is given away free via about 500 soup kitchens.

Sweet Ana Luisa

One day last summer, Cuban physician Ana Luisa tended patients at the Cristo Rey modulo, or modular clinic, in the 23 de Enero slum outside Caracas, where 60,000 families live in poverty. The clinic is part of the Mision Barrio Adentro, one of the biggest poverty programs in Caracas.

Ana Luisa, who declined to give her last name, works along with a medical assistant out of a small room that contains a bed and a desk. She and the other 28 Cuban doctors working in the neighborhood live in dormitories above their clinics.

While she treats some minor illnesses and injuries, Ana Luisa mostly does physical exams and offers preventive care and advice. Citizens with serious illnesses go to government hospitals, where medical care is free.

Ana Luisa is popular among her patients, one of whom described her as ``sweet and very efficient.'' She declined to comment, saying the Cuban government won't allow her to speak to the press.

Free Medical Care

Cuba has created its own version of Venezuela's anti- poverty program in Bolivia. In a project begun in May, the Castro government announced it would refurbish and fully staff 20 Bolivian hospitals, including one in La Higuera, the town where Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara, the guerrilla leader and doctor, was killed in 1967 while trying to spread Cuba's revolution.

Free medical care is already being provided by 1,700 Cuban medical staff, 1,283 of them doctors, in towns across Bolivia. Cuban ophthalmologists performed eye surgery for cataracts and other ailments on 26,000 Bolivians from March to September, according to Rafael Dausa Cespedes, Cuba's ambassador to Bolivia.

Cuba is also co-sponsoring an ambitious program called Yo Si Puedo, or Yes, I Can, with the Bolivian government to abolish illiteracy in the Andean country. Reading and writing will be taught by videos broadcast on 30,000 television sets donated by Cuba. For villages that have no electricity, Castro is also contributing 2,000 solar panels.

`It's All on Us'

Opposition politicians in Bolivia such as Senator Oscar Ortiz say they suspect the Cuban programs in Bolivia are being funded by Chavez. Dausa, 47, denies it. ``We are paying for every single item, with no expense for the Bolivian government,'' he says. ``It's all on us.''

The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 23 percent to $60.75 a barrel as of Oct. 27, from a high of $78.40 in July, raising the question of how long Chavez and his client Castro will be able to afford to pay the bills of their Latin neighbors. Under Chavez, Venezuela's national budget has increased to $40.6 billion in 2005 from $18.5 billion in 1999.

Chavez is running for a new six-year term in elections scheduled for Dec. 3, and his support for Cuba has become an issue. His opponent, Manuel Rosales, governor of oil-rich Zulia province, is banking on polls that show the majority of Venezuelans, unlike their president, are not admirers of Castro, in part because Castro is still blamed for sponsoring a Venezuelan communist guerrilla movement back in the 1960s that resulted in a long break in diplomatic relations.

A Close Race

``We are giving the Cuban government more than 100,000 barrels a day so Castro can maintain his tyranny,'' Rosales said in Caracas on Aug. 30. Rosales, who trailed Chavez in a July poll by 30 percentage points, has narrowed the gap by saying he would keep Chavez's anti-poverty programs while renegotiating give-away oil contracts.

Rosales trailed Chavez by 18 points in a Hinterlaces opinion survey released on Sept. 20, and in mid-October, his supporters were calling it a close race.

If Chavez wins, as most analysts predict, oil and socialism will remain a potent mix that could keep an old ideology burning even after Castro, its archetypal Latin leader, passes on.

To contact the reporter on this story: Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Caracas, Venezuela at gparra@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: October 29, 2006 23:28 EST

Sunday, October 29, 2006

La Loba Feroz Speaks

October 29, 2006

The Associated Press has reported that a Cuban-American Congresswoman from Miami-Dade County has spoken "words of wisdom" regarding the video viewed in Cuban TV that shows a recuperating President Fidel Castro. Her minions had proclaimed that Fidel Castro was dead from cancer and had proceeded to dance in the streets of Gusanoland City on July 31 of this year.

Here are her words:

"Fidel Castro is certainly around, and we don't think there's going to be a change, whether it's Fidel or Raul or anybody else who's part of the communist infrastructure."

My first question is: What ever happened to the "transition"? According to the script written in Washington, D.C. millions of Cubans were going to take to the streets to bring to the island the "democracy" made in the USA.

And she continues:

"What we want is free elections in Cuba, freedom for political prisoners and a multiparty system. There's no role for Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, in that scenario."

So, my second question is:

Are you going to send in the U.S. Marines to bring to Cuba the stability that they have brought to Iraq?

If I can borrow the title of Bob Woodward's recent bestseller, I would have to say that she lives in a State of Denial.

Little "Red" Riding Hood is recuperating in Cuba, and the Big Bad Wolf will have to keep on hoping and dreaming.

Cuba's Chess Grand Master Leinier Dominguez Official Website

Leinier's Official Website: http://gmdominguez.com/

Chess Base: Clash of the Young Titans in Cuernavaca, Mexico 2006

On the second of February of 2006, the “Young Masters World Chess Encounter” started at Cuernavaca, México. Great names, like Ukraine’s former fide world champion Ruslan Ponomariov (22), the worlds’ youngest ever grandmaster Sergey Karjakin (16) and Andrei Volokitin (19) are topping the list. Also Topalov’s successful second Ivan Cheparinov (19), US Champion and maybe the greatest Internet chessplayer of our times Hikaru Nakamura (18). The other five players are “hispanohablantes” – Spanish speaking; from Spain Francisco ‘Paco’ Vallejo Pons (23) known from the Linares tournaments, former world junior champion Lázaro Bruzón (23) and his welll-known Cuban countryman Leinier Domínguez (23), ‘veteran’ Rubén Felgaer (24), the best Argentinean player hoping to fill up the gap of legend Miguel Najdorf and last but not least Mexico’s hope in these days, Manuel Leon Hoyos (16) the only IM in this field. A great tournament that promises fireworks and highly interesting to watch.

Marabana 2006: November 16 Havana marathon

Click here to access the PDF file for Marabana 2006. You must have Adobe Reader to access file.

Radio and TV Marti: Sign off expensive and unseen broadcasts

Sun-Sentinel.com

By Vincent Parascandolo
Posted October 28 2006

Of all the resources spent on U.S. policy toward Cuba, Radio and TV Marti are probably two of the most egregious examples of wasted taxpayer money -- nearly a half-billion dollars squandered on television and radio transmissions to the island and reaching virtually no audience.

Up to and including fiscal year 2007, appropriations exceeded $465 million. And they continue to get sizeable and increasing appropriations every year. Since 1990, the budget for broadcasting to Cuba has risen 87 percent.

According to Lawrence K. Grossman, a former president of NBC News and PBS, a study conducted for the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2001 showed that out of the 1,000 Cubans asked if they had watched TV Marti in the past week, 997 said they had not. In 2005, the International Broadcasting Bureau commissioned a telephone survey in which a mere 13 of 1,589 Cuban respondents said they had watched TV Marti within the past year.

Even if one accepts the questionable notion that TV Marti might serve a worthwhile cause, one cannot deny that the television station has virtually no viewership, because the Cuban government jams the transmissions. In October 2000, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana declared before the deliberative body, "For nine and a half million dollars in the coming fiscal year, $139 million over the last decade, another hundred million dollars over the next decade, we ask Cubans to get up in the middle of the night to watch snow on a blank screen. This makes no sense at all."

TV Marti seems to be a matter of giving the BBG and its staff extra jobs and salaries, and pandering to voters in Miami, which helps win elections in Florida.

TV and Radio Marti have no perceptible positive impact in achieving U.S. policy goals toward Cuba. Every time Congress reduces budgets for education, the environment and social welfare, while providing TV Marti with increasing annual appropriations, it abets a major misguided allocation of public resources.

Since August 2001, the Pennsylvania Air National Guard has been regularly beaming radio and TV broadcasts into Cuba. More recently, in December 2005, Congress approved $10 million to purchase a new Commando Solo C-130, in addition to the $28 million to cover operating expenses for Radio and TV Marti. Is this not an unnecessary diversion of resources, given our major commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are not the Air National Guards across the country already stretched thin from their commitment in the Middle East?

Despite the improvidence and inefficacy that the maintenance of TV Marti represents, the transmission remains most popular among the militant and vehement anti-Castro Cubans, who are also the group presidential hopefuls pander to to win the crucial Cuban vote. Ultimately, our National Security is being compromised through a serious misallocation and waste of resources to satisfy the demands of one interest group.

The country deserves a serious re-examination of the merits of TV Marti. Unfortunately, there have been indications from the Bush administration that the use of expensive military aircraft for TV Marti transmission will not abate. In Roger F. Noriega's 2004 Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba report to the president, he laid out the government's long-term plan: "Over the long-term, the commission recommends making available funds to acquire and refit an aircraft for dedicated airborne radio and television transmissions into Cuba."

TV Marti should at least be eliminated as a government expenditure. The Cuban exile community is known for its entrepreneurial accomplishments since the late 19th century, when they populated Tampa as tabaqueros. They also have a long record of successful fundraising; therefore, if the Cuban exile community wants to air TV Marti, let them pay for it.

Radio Marti's shortwave radio beams do at least reach Cuba. And although the newscast is given little credence by the locals, according to surveys cited in the BBG annual report for 1999, 9 percent of adults (15 years and older) questioned in 1998 and 1999 reportedly listened to Radio Marti at least once a week. From these interviews, the surveys estimated that Radio Marti reached about three-quarters of a million Cubans across the island -- a market share that does not warrant the high cost to the American taxpayer.

TV and Radio Marti represent an unseemly waste of national revenue and compromise our national security by diverting military and defense resources. The U.S. government ought to acknowledge that TV Marti enjoys no viewers, while its radio counterpart has a trifling listenership, not enough certainly to justify hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars.

Vincent Parascandolo is a research assistant at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.

Castro to world: I'm not dead

From Los Angeles Times Wire Services
October 29, 2006

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro dismissed rumors that he was dead Saturday in television images showing him walking, talking on the telephone and reading the day's news.

In the first images of him issued in six weeks, Castro, 80, said he was taking part in government decision-making, following the news and making regular telephone calls as he recovers from intestinal surgery in early August, when he temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul, 75.

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Euro News

Castro shows doubters he is alive and well

A defiant Fidel Castro has issued more footage of himself, as proof that he is on the road to recovery after intestinal surgery. The Cuban leader - appearing in a sports tracksuit -is seen walking freely and heard speaking clearly. His message was to those he called 'enemies' who had declared him dead. "Now they will have to ressurect me," he says. "I'm not worried. They said I was dead. Nonsense. But what they say is what keeps me working and fighting."

These are the first images released of Castro for six weeks. He carried a copy of the day's newspaper to prove the date. He reveals that he is still active in government decisions and up-to-date with current events before signing off with the words: "Thank you very much. Homeland or death."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cuba TV shows pictures of Castro


BBC

Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK

Cuban television has broadcast the first images of President Fidel Castro in more than a month, defiantly addressing rumours that he had died.

Mr Castro said his recovery would be long and not without risk, but said he was "coming along just as planned."

He called the rumours "ridiculous" and said: "Let's see what they say now."

The 80-year-old, who temporarily handed over power to his younger brother in July following intestinal surgery, had not been seen since mid-September.

In the new video footage the ailing president was pictured walking unassisted and reading a copy of Saturday's edition of Granma, the Communist Party daily newspaper.

"Now, when our enemies have prematurely declared me moribund or dead, I'm happy to send to our compatriots and friends around the world this short film footage," he said.

State secret

Earlier this month, Time magazine quoted an unnamed US official alleging that the president had terminal cancer.

Mr Castro's younger brother, Raul, denied this, saying the president, was "getting better all the time".

Mr Castro handed temporary power to his brother in July, prompting speculation that his 47-year rule was nearly over.

Cubans were told that details of the ailment would be kept secret to prevent Cuba's enemies from taking advantage of them.

Images of a frail Mr Castro were released on his birthday, on 13 August, in an attempt to quell rumours that he had died.

More recently, video images were broadcast showing Mr Castro, in his hospital bed and wearing pyjamas, greeting visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Cuba Announces its Baseball Team for the Intercontinental Cup

27 October, 2006

The Cuban Baseball Federation announced on Thursday the names of the twenty-four players and the directing board of the team that will represent Cuba at the 16th Intercontinental Baseball Cup.

From November 9 to 19 this team, competing with seven rivals, will try to wrestle the trophy away from China Taipei.

The team will be leaving for Taichung on October 31. The day before, the team will receive the Cuban flag that will travel with it during a ceremony at Havana’s Revolution Square.

This strong team, one of the favorites, is made up of three catchers, five infielders, six outfielders and ten pitchers (three left-handers). They will be led by Coach Rey Vicente Anglada, along with assistants Luis D. Larduet and Ulises Jardines. Jose Elosegui, Victor Mesa and Esteban Lombillo will be along as pitching, bating and defense coaches respectively.

The selected players are: Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Eriel Sanchez and Osvaldo Arias. Infielders: Alexander Mayeta, Yulieski Gourriel, Rudy Reyes, Eduardo Paret and Michel Enriquez. Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Yoandry Urgelles, Osmani Urrutia, Yorbis Duvergel, Alexei Ramirez and Yoandy Garlobo. Pitchers: Pedro L. Lazo, Yulieski Maya, Deinny Suarez, Frank Montieth, Vladimir Baños, Yulieski Gonzalez, Norberto Gonzalez, Adiel Palma, Norge L. Vera and Yadel Marti.

National Press Board
INDER

In Memoriam: Camilo Cienfuegos, October 28, 1959

Cuban Grand Master captures crown at Barcelona chess tornament

Granma

La Habana, sábado 28 de octubre de 2006. Año 10 / Número 301

Leinier, monarca del Ciudad de Barcelona

BARCELONA (SE).— El Gran Maestro cubano Leinier Domínguez, titular de la Isla, se proclamó campeón del Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez Magistral Ciudad de Barcelona al vencer en la partida final al experimentado Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR), 2 714 puntos elo y sexta plaza mundial.

Domínguez, líder del elo en su país (2 655) y lugar 52 de la lista internacional, coronó su éxito tras 69 movidas de una Apertura Moderna y finalizó con ocho unidades de nueve posibles, gracias a dos divisiones del punto y siete victorias.

Esta ha sido una de las actuaciones más contundentes del joven ajedrecista en los últimos tiempos, y recordó aquellas heroicas jornadas del Mundial de Trípoli’04 donde se ubicó entre los ocho primeros.

Después de Leinier, GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR), 6.5; GM Oleg Korneev (RUS); 5.5; GM Viktor Bologan (MOL), 5; GM Marc Narciso (ESP), 4.5; GM Fernando Peralta (ARG), 4; GM Julio Granda (PER), 4; MI José M. López (ESP), 3.5; GM Jan Timman (HOL); 2.5; MI Juan A. Lacasa (ESP), 2.

Y en el Festival de Calviá, el GM Lázaro Bruzón logró tablas ante el GM Stuart Conquest (GBR), en la octava ronda, y con 6 puntos, junto a otros siete concursantes, ocupa la segunda plaza. MI Holden Hernández (5), 23, y GM Juan Borges (4,5), 40. El GM Silvino García, en Veteranos, 6 unidades, e integra la terna dueña del segundo escalón. Hoy finaliza el torneo.

The Miami Herald continues their non-objective reporting on Cuban issues

It is no secret that The Miami Herald has always been stridently anti-Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1st, 1959. They can not stomach a Socialist society 90 miles from the shores of hyper-capitalist USA.

So, it was not surprising to see yesterday another biased report by one of their reporters.

I reproduce below their complete article. The heading of the article displays the paranoia of the newspaper regarding Cuban spies.

It ain't so Joe!

The person in question has only been charged with being an unregistered agent of Cuba. Apparently the reporter does not know the difference between been a spy and being an unregistered agent.

As long as Miami terrorist organizations continue to plot the overthrow of the legitimate government of the Cuban people, then that society will try to protect itself from the actions of those individuals.

-------------------------------------------------------

The Miami Herald Article:

Posted on Fri, Oct. 27, 2006

ARTICLE HEADLINE: Professor accused of spying for Cuba won't be released before trial

BY JAY WEAVER
jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A Florida International University professor charged with being an unregistered agent of Cuba's communist government won't be released before trial, a Miami federal judge ruled Friday.

Carlos Alvarez, 61, who is accused of informing on the exile community for Cuban leader Fidel Castro's intelligence arm, could flee to Cuba if he's freed before the January trial, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore said. He denied Alvarez's bid for bond.

The father of five has been detained at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami since January, when he was arrested along with his wife, who faces the same charge but is free on bond.

''The evidence has shown that the government of the Republic of Cuba appreciates the work that [Alvarez] has performed for it and has acknowledged his efforts with commendations,'' Moore wrote. ``It is, therefore, a substantial likelihood that defendant would choose to flee.''

Alvarez's lawyer, Steve Chaykin, said he could not comment because he was out of town and had not read the ruling.

In the decision, Moore takes a harsh view of Alvarez, a longtime FIU psychology professor, who was charged along with his wife, Elsa, an FIU counselor. After her initial detention, she was released in June.

Moore noted then that the ``weight of the evidence against defendant Elsa Alvarez was substantially different than that against Defendant Carlos Alvarez.''

He gave self-incriminating statements to FBI agents in the summer of 2005 because he believed they would not charge him if he cooperated with them. His lawyer has asked the judge to suppress that evidence, the core of the U.S. attorney's case against him.

Prosecutors say Carlos Alvarez allegedly operated as an agent of Cuba from 1978 to July 2005, traveled to Cuba at least 12 times during that period, and met with Castro agents in New York and Mexico. In 2002-04, he also ''persisted in maintaining contact with the Cuban Intelligence Service over the objections of his wife,'' according to court records.

In the 14-page ruling, Moore said Alvarez ``was willing to divulge private information about persons in the community and conceal his efforts to do so by using encryption [on computer disks] and other evasive strategies.''

Moore stopped short of saying Alvarez was a danger to the community, another factor considered for bond.

The judge said Alvarez might pose a ``hypothetical danger.''

The Alvarez couple, if convicted, face up to 10 years in prison.

-----------------------------------------------

JG note: It was revealed this year that three "reporters" of The Miami Herald were receiving funds from the U.S. government in exchange for writing anti-Cuba stories in that newspaper.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Chavez says Cuba's Fidel is walking, going out at night

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: October 27, 2006

CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Friday that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is up and about again, taking trips at night into the countryside, as he recovers from surgery.

"He is walking around already and goes out at night to tour the countryside, towns and cities. I'm soon going to go see you, Fidel," Chavez said during a speech to cacao producers in Venezuela Friday.

After nearly a half-century in office, Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul in July after undergoing intestinal surgery.

The Cuban government has treated his ailment as a state secret, and speculation has intensified recently that Castro may have died.

Meanwhile, Chavez, a close ally and friend of the 80-year-old leader, has taken on the role of informing the international community on Castro's health, regularly citing letters and phone calls that he says they've exchanged.


CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Friday that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is up and about again, taking trips at night into the countryside, as he recovers from surgery.

"He is walking around already and goes out at night to tour the countryside, towns and cities. I'm soon going to go see you, Fidel," Chavez said during a speech to cacao producers in Venezuela Friday.

After nearly a half-century in office, Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul in July after undergoing intestinal surgery.

The Cuban government has treated his ailment as a state secret, and speculation has intensified recently that Castro may have died.

Meanwhile, Chavez, a close ally and friend of the 80-year-old leader, has taken on the role of informing the international community on Castro's health, regularly citing letters and phone calls that he says they've exchanged.

CREW files amended FEC complaint against Bacardi USA and Martínez and Nelson for Senate

Granma International

Havana. October 26, 2006

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today filed an amended complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Bacardi U.S.A. used corporate resources to organize a fundraising event for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on September 30, 2005.

CREW filed the original complaint against Bacardi U.S.A. on August 7, 2006 alleging that Bacardi U.S.A. had used corporate resources and facilities to raise as much as $60,000 for the campaign of Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) at a May 11, 2004 event at Bacardi's Miami headquarters.

The amended complaint alleges that Bacardi violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations by using the same corporate list of vendors to solicit contributions for the September 30, 2005 Nelson event that it used to solicit contributions for the May 11, 2004 Martinez for Senate fundraiser. The complaint alleges that employees of at least two Bacardi vendors - Hunton & Williams and The MWW Group - made contributions to Senator Nelson in response to Bacardi's solicitations. The complaint identifies ten specific individuals affiliated with Bacardi U.S.A., Hunton & Williams and The MWW Group who contributed to both Nelson and Martinez in response to Bacardi's solicitations.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.

Naomi Seligman Steiner
at 202.408.5565/ press@citizensforethics.org.

Impoverished Cuba sends doctors around the globe to help the poor

The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Tom Fawthrop in Havana

October 28, 2006

CUBA, one of the world's few surviving communist nations, is quietly expanding relations in the Pacific region, and Canberra and Washington are said to be watching developments with concern.

Cuba has been flooding some poorer parts of the region with doctors and humanitarian workers since the tsunami tragedy in Indonesia on Boxing Day, 2004. Swathes of the Pacific, from Kiribati to East Timor, are becoming dependent on Cuban medical aid, and the Cubans appear to be winning hearts and minds. Following the Java earthquake in May, teams of doctors were quickly flown to affected areas.

Indonesia's regional health co-ordinator, Ronny Rockito, said the two Cuban field hospitals and 135 workers made a bigger impact on the humanitarian crisis than the work of any other country.

"I appreciate the Cuban medical team; their style is very friendly and their medical standard very high," Mr Rockito said. "Everything is free and [there is] no support from my government. We give thanks to [Cuban President] Fidel Castro. Many villagers begged the Cuban doctors to stay."

In addition to an existing Cuban medical mission in Kiribati, teams from Cuba went to Aceh and Sri Lanka in the tsunami aftermath, and some staff have stayed on.

In answer to a request from East Timor, 286 Cuban doctors are now working in rural areas and Dili, where they have established a facility for hundreds of locals to study medicine. The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have recently requested medical aid from Havana, with a view to signing bilateral co-operation agreements.

The acting head of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's Asia Department, Miguel Angel Ramirez, said increased activity in the Pacific was a result of Cuba's commitment to spread medical aid to the poor around the globe.

"Some of these Pacific islands are in bad shape," said Mr Ramirez, a former ambassador to Indonesia. "We are not involved in any security issues in the region. We have doctors all over Latin America and parts of Africa."

Despite its impoverished economy, battered by US economic sanctions, Cuba - population of just over 11 million - has 20,000 doctors serving in 68 countries.

This year Dr Castro was elected leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, a coalition of 100 states, including most states in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, who choose not to support a main power bloc. While Cuban influence is growing, the US doubts the Cuban agenda is purely humanitarian. After last year's Pakistan earthquake, a local publication, Dawn, reported that President Pervez Musharraf's military-based government was under pressure from Washington to decline all offers of aid from Havana.

Eventually Cuban medical teams were welcomed, and by last January more than 1000 doctors from Havana had arrived in devastated Kashmir.

Official data from Islamabad said 73 per cent of all patients were treated by Cubans at some stage, in 44 different locations.

Dr Araceli Castro, a Cuban specialist in public health at Harvard University, said the benefits of Cuba's health crusade far outweighed ideological divisions.

"I don't understand why anybody should be opposed to bringing healthcare to those who can't afford it," he said. "What Cuban doctors are doing to help the poor should be beyond politics."

Cuba announces its International Cup Baseball Team

Yoandry Garlobo at bat, Photo: AP

Juventud Rebelde

Dos nuevos jugadores y el retorno de cuatro matizan la nómina que representará al país en el torneo en Taipei de China

Correo: digital@jrebelde.cip.cu
27 de octubre de 2006 23:42:50 GMT

La Federación Cubana de Béisbol anunció este jueves los nombres de los 24 jugadores y el cuerpo de dirección del equipo que nos representará en la inminente XVI Copa Intercontinental.

Dos nuevos «inquilinos» y el retorno de cuatro jugadores matizan la nómina del «trabuco», que del 9 al 19 del venidero mes buscará retener en Taichung, Taipei de China, la corona alcanzada en la confrontación precedente.

Los «novatos» son el receptor Osvaldo Arias y el lanzador Vladimir Baños, mientras retornan los serpentineros Yadel Martí y Norge Luis Vera, así como los jardineros Yoandry Urgellés y Yoandry Garlobo.

Para el venidero martes 31 está prevista la partida de la delegación, cuyo abanderamiento se efectuará un día antes, a las cuatro de la tarde, en el Memorial José Martí, en la Plaza de la Revolución.

Además, completan la nómina los receptores Ariel Pestano y Eriel Sánchez; los jugadores de cuadro Alexander Mayeta, Yulieski Gourriel, Rudy Reyes, Eduardo Paret y Michel Enríquez; los jardineros Frederich Cepeda, Osmani Urrutia, Georvis Duvergel y Alexei Ramírez; y los «serpentineros» Pedro L. Lazo, Yunieski Maya, Deinys Suárez, Frank Montieth, Yulieski González, Norberto González y Adiel Palma.

Todos estarán bajo las órdenes de Rey Vicente Anglada, quien tendrá como asistentes a Luis D. Larduet y Ulises Jardines, además de José Elosegui, Víctor Mesa y Esteban Lombillo, entrenadores de pitcheo, bateo y defensiva, respectivamente. (SE)

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27 October, 2006

Cuba Announces its Baseball Team for the Intercontinental Cup

The Cuban Baseball Federation announced on Thursday the names of the twenty-four players and the directing board of the team that will represent Cuba at the 16th Intercontinental Baseball Cup.

From November 9 to 19 this team, competing with seven rivals, will try to wrestle the trophy away from China Taipei.

The team will be leaving for Taichung on October 31. The day before, the team will receive the Cuban flag that will travel with it during a ceremony at Havana’s Revolution Square.

This strong team, one of the favorites, is made up of three catchers, five infielders, six outfielders and ten pitchers (three left-handers). They will be led by Coach Rey Vicente Anglada, along with assistants Luis D. Larduet and Ulises Jardines. Jose Elosegui, Victor Mesa and Esteban Lombillo will be along as pitching, bating and defense coaches respectively.

The selected players are: Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Eriel Sanchez and Osvaldo Arias. Infielders: Alexander Mayeta, Yulieski Gourriel, Rudy Reyes, Eduardo Paret and Michel Enriquez. Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Yoandry Urgelles, Osmani Urrutia, Yorbis Duvergel, Alexei Ramirez and Yoandy Garlobo. Pitchers: Pedro L. Lazo, Yulieski Maya, Deinny Suarez, Frank Montieth, Vladimir Baños, Yulieski Gonzalez, Norberto Gonzalez, Adiel Palma, Norge L. Vera and Yadel Marti.

National Press Board
INDER

ACLU challenges Florida travel ban to Cuba

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law enacted by the Florida legislature that prohibits travel to Cuba for research and academic exchanges.

The ACLU maintains that the law also unfairly lumps private funding -- which the universities merely oversee -- with state funding from being used to finance trips. The law includes grants and endowments not funded by the state. The ACLU argued the state should not be regulating such private funds.

The complaint alleges that several professors and students from various state universities, including Florida International University and the University of Florida, have been unable to pursue travel plans to those countries. The trips, they say, have been key for their academic research.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cuba's Jose Raul Capablanca: 3rd World Chess Champion


Jose Raul Capablanca

Cuba's Jose Raul Capablanca became the third world champion (1921-1927) in the history of chess. He was also a diplomat, and the author of several chess books. Chess literary man.

He was first acquainted with chess at the age of 4 by watching his father playing. In 1901, when he was 13, he defeated the Cuban champion, Juan Corzo, in a match 7-6 (+4 –3 =6). His play at that time was already remarkable for its deep positional understanding and efficiency in calculating.

In 1911, he went to Europe for the first time where he took part in a top international tournament in the town of San Sebastian, Spain. In 1913, Capablanca appeared in no less than 3 tournaments, arriving in 1st place in both the New York events and 2nd place in Havana.

In the spring of 1914, he participated in the international tournament in St. Petersburg, coming 2nd, just half a point behind Lasker, and 3 points ahead of 3rd place holder Alekhine.

During World War I Capablanca played 3 tournaments held in New York (1915, 1916, and 1918) and triumphed in all three. Shortly after the Great War, in 1919, he won the classic Hastings event in England. The match Lasker - Capablanca took place in Havana in the spring of 1921, and after 14 games, towards the end of April, Jose Raul Capablanca gained a persuasive victory and was declared the 3rd World Champion.

He was said to be a chess-playing machine, a chess technique virtuoso, making use of the tiniest advantages in a position. In fact, he went undefeated for 8 whole years, until up New York 1924 in a famous game against Reti (his only defeat). Since winning his title he had been challenged by many of the top masters of the time (Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch, Alekhine and so on), and as such he had created a full set of rules to govern world championship matches, which was presented at the London tournament in 1922 and signed by the contenders. In 1927, Capablanca played a very strong New York tournament, which every player played each other 4 times, and featuring the world’s best players, including Alekhine. The Cuban scored a resounding victory with 8 victories and 12 draws, and a mini-match victory over Alekhine. This perhaps led him to underestimate Alekhine, whom he lost his title to later that year in Buenos Aires with a score of 15.5 – 18.5 (+3, - 6, =25).

From 1928 to 1931, Capablanca took part in no less than 10 tournaments taking first place in Berlin (1928), Ramsgate (1929), Budapest (1928 and 1929), Barcelona (1929), Hastings (1929/30), New York (1931) and 2nd place in the other 3 (Bad Kissingen (1928), Carlsbad (1929), Hastings (1930/31)), not to mention winning a 10-game match against Euwe in 1931 (+2, =8). During this period he played no less than 116 games, losing only 4.

In 1936, Capablanca once more achieved impressive results coming 1st in Moscow, ahead of Botvinnik, and 1st/2nd in Nottingham (tied with Botvinnik), leaving Euwe, Alekhine and Lasker behind.

Jose Raul Capablanca continued to be one of the world’s strongest chess players until his death.

Here is what other champions have said about Capablanca:

“I have known other great masters, but only one genius: Capablanca.” (Emanuel Lasker – 1922/3)

“I think Capablanca had the greatest natural talent. When a pianist plays, we don’t hear separate notes, but we hear a musical picture. Capablanca as well didn’t make separate moves – he was creating a chess picture. Nobody could compare with him in this.” (Mikhail Botvinnik – 1984)

“Capablanca was possibly the greatest player in the entire history of chess.” (Bobby Fischer – 1961)

“Personally, I think the best chessplayer of all times was Capablanca […]” (Boris Spassky – 1983)

Source: ChessCart.com