Cuba-Africa: Over 25,000 Africans educated in Cuba

In the last 30 years, over 25,000 African young people have been educated in Cuba and another 3,000 are now studying there, including 1,000 in medical school.

In a recent interview with Africa Today magazine, Cuban ambassador to Portugal Reinaldo Calviac said Cuba is currently aiding 21 nations, 12 of them in Africa, despite the U.S. blockade of the island nation. He cited Angola, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe and South Africa, where 400 Cuban doctors are working.

Calviac, who worked as a diplomat in Angola for nearly 12 years, said Cuban cooperation is totally free and serves the most inaccessible areas. He said Cuba had offered to provide the United Nations with 4,000 doctors for a program to combat AIDS in Africa. Cuba maintains historic relations with the continent, he said, since a great part of the Cuban population is of African descent.

France: New strike wave vs. pension reforms

On the day the right-wing government put its pension reform plan in the hands of parliament, public workers’ unions across the country held their third 24-hour strike in as many weeks, slowing and in some cases halting road, rail and air travel. Strikers also included police and customs officers, health care providers, dock workers, postal and telecommunications workers, bank staff, truck drivers and chemical and metallurgical workers. The government’s proposed reform would increase the years of service before workers can receive their pensions.

For the country’s 800,000 teachers – fed up over restructuring plans affecting university autonomy and the transfer of staff as well as pension issues – the stoppage marked the 11th strike since the school year began.

The left-led CGT union federation proposed further action by railway workers on June 12 and 15.

The strikes haven’t been limited to France. An inter-union demonstration in Tahiti brought up to 7,000 marchers to the streets of downtown Papeete on June 6. Unions said up to 10,000 participated in the one-day strike throughout French Polynesia.

China: Work starts on longest bridge

After 10 years of preparation, construction will start June 15 on China’s first transoceanic bridge, linking Cixi city on the southern bank of the Hangzhou Bay with Jiaxing City on the northern bank. Construction is estimated to take five years.

The 36 km stayed cable bridge will be the longest of its type in the world. With a designated life span of 100 years, it will carry six lanes in two directions, with a designated driving speed of 100 km per hour. In its first year of operation, daily traffic on the bridge is expected to reach 45,000 vehicles.

The bridge will shorten the journey between the cities of Shanghai and Ningbo by about 40 percent, making the distance 179 km. It is expected to help economic development of the Yangtze River Delta region, one of the country’s most productive regions.

Canada-France-USA: Joint Day of Action

At press time, thousands of union members at over 60 worksites in Canada, France and the U.S. were poised for an international Day of Action June 11 in support of United Auto Workers union members at Norton Abrasives in Worcester, Mass. The firm is a subsidiary of the French-based Saint-Gobain Industries.

Among other actions, Canada Newswire reported that workers in all three countries will wear bilingual stickers calling for “Justice for UAW Saint-Gobain Workers in Worcester, Mass.” The stickers depict the Statue of Liberty, the traditional symbol of partnership between the U.S. and France.

Besides the UAW, participants include French chemical workers, U.S. and Canadian steelworkers, and U.S. teamsters, molders, chemical workers and glass workers. Overcoming intense company opposition, workers voted for the UAW in August 2001. They have been trying ever since to win a first contract. But the highly profitable company has stepped up its resistance, insisting on cutting benefits for active and retired workers in Worcester while neglecting long-standing health and safety issues.

International notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel, international secretary of the Communist Party USA.
She can be reached at