From a very young age, Irma Castañeda has braided her curly hair and cared for it with natural recipes inherited from her mother, ignoring the widespread conception that black women’s hair is “ugly” or “bad”.
An end to the country’s dual-currency system is one of the reforms most anxiously-awaited by Cubans, who nevertheless reacted with scepticism and doubt to the announcement of a timeline for eliminating the system, blamed for exacerbating social inequalities in the country.
As self-employment and cooperatives expand in socialist Cuba, they are making incursions into new areas, such as waste picking and recycling – for many a means of subsistence, but for others, a gold mine.
A rise in temperature modifies the physiological features of some plants – a consequence of climate change that is less perceptible than stronger and more frequent hurricanes, but just as harmful to food production.
One challenge faced by the Cuban government, and a high priority for citizens, is improving the efficiency and sustainability of public health services, a constitutional right that the state is supposed to ensure for all.
It's Saturday, and the entrance hall of a police station in front of the busy market in Salomon in the Haitian capital has become an improvised health post. In a few minutes there is a long queue of people waiting to be seen by the Cuban medical brigade.
The spread of the virus that causes dengue fever has created an emergency situation for institutions, governments and scientists in Latin America seeking sustainable solutions for a health problem that could worsen as a result of climate change.
Nine months after Hurricane Sandy, the worst disaster to hit this city in eastern Cuban in decades, local residents say they are now better prepared for catastrophes.
"The basic objective of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is people’s welfare, and I think that in this we have many affinities with what the Cuban government wants,” Regula Bäbler told IPS.
More than 100 non-farming cooperatives this month joined the independent sector of the Cuban economy, which includes self-employed workers and farmers granted public land to work, as part of the policy outlined by the government for modernising the management of state property.
Rather than talk about forecasts for hurricanes at the start of this year’s season, Cuban meteorologist José Rubiera prefers to discuss the importance of reducing the country’s vulnerability and improving preparedness.
As two separate trials of foreign businessmen continued amid extreme discretion, the Cuban government passed new anti-corruption measures, apparently indicating the Raúl Castro government’s desire to avoid loose ends with this thorny problem.
Jokes, songs, crude gestures and epithets that degrade people of African descent are still common in Cuba, despite the fact that the constitution prohibits discrimination based on skin colour, and in spite of more recent political measures, activists say.
The new cyclone season in Cuba is forecast to be highly active, and it announced its arrival with intense rains that caused rivers to burst their banks and flooded extensive areas in the western province of Pinar del Río.
A biometeorological forecast model developed in Cuba to sound the alert on weather conditions that exacerbate chronic diseases like asthma, hypertension and vascular disorders could also help predict the impacts of climate change on health.