Briefs: Ecuador to turn military bases into parks, hospitals; Cuba teaches Guatemalans to read

August 31, 2014

Ecuador turns military buildings into hospitals, parks

Ecuador will cut its military by 51% over the next 10 years, teleSUR English said on August 28. Ecuadorian defence minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced the army´s 516 units would be cut to 252.

The measure aims to optimise Ecuador's military presence nationally. “We know now what we have, how to maintain it, and what we need,” she told the press.

She said at least 600 hectares of urban spaces will be made available by 2025. This is on top of the 30,000 hectares of rural spaces already delivered by the army to the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment for protection.

Inmobiliar, the government institution in charge of managing public land, will assess and determine the future use of the lands. The lands may be converted into parks, used for new schools, hospitals, centres for children or community police units. However, they will not be for private use or real estate.

The numbers of soldiers will be lowered to 34,500 men and women, said Espinosa. She said the cuts would not be obtained by sackings, but by limiting the numbers of students in training schools.

Guatemala: Cubans teach thousands to read

From 2007 until now, almost 20,000 Guatemalans have learned to read and write through a Cuban program, teleSUR English said on August 28.

At least 19,425 Guatemalans have studied in the Cuban literacy program, dubbed “Yo Si Puedo” (“I can do it”), said the national coordinator Vielma Monteagudo.

The program has about 28 volunteer workers operating across six Guatemalan states, including the capital. The program uses a unique Cuban education model, developed specifically for mature age students eager to learn how to read and write. It is adapted specifically to the geographic areas where it is implemented. Local vocabulary is also used.

The program has been used in more than 30 countries, ranging from Venezuela to Nigeria and Australia. Nearly four million people have benefited from the initiative worldwide, the Cuban government says.

Cuba itself has one of the highest rates of literacy in Latin America, at around 99.8%, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Cuba says socialism 'viable' amid global crisis

Cuba defended the viability of socialism amid the current world crisis at the 20th Sao Paulo Forum held in Bolivia, the Cuban News Agency said on August 26.

Idalmis Brooks, secretary of the International Relations Department of the Cuban Communist Party, said a change in the world map has taken place since the start of the world crisis, due to the interests of the superpowers.

For Brooks, beyond its economic impact, the crisis has led to protests and conflicts in regions such as the Middle East, and has also favoured a capitalist counter-offensive with marked strength in Latin America.

Brooks said the economic transformations underway in Cuba were aimed at preserving the achievements in the areas of health, education and the social role of women.

Cuba promotes the idea that integration-based processes in this part of the world must be marked by unity and mutual respect for differences, said Brooks.

The forum took place on August 28 and 29, featuring 300 delegates from many left-wing parties. Participants analysed the challenges faced by Latin America's regional integration process, among other issues.

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