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      Ecuador Makes Important Strides for LGBTI People

      March 27, 2016 (teleSUR English)

      Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa highlighted Saturday the many strides made in favor of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) peoples in the country and said his government was ready to fulfill many more commitments.

      Over the recent period the government approved same-sex unions and a gender identity law that allows Ecuadoreans to state their gender identity instead of the sex assigned at birth.

      A recent labor reform also made it illegal for employers to discriminate against people due to their sexual orientation. The government has also been cracking down on illegal “gay treatment centers” where LGBTI people undergo, against their will, “treatments” meant to change their sexual orientation.

      These changes came as a result of high-level meetings between government officials and representatives of LGBTI communities.

      The Correa government has held five such meetings since 2013, the most recent having taken place last Monday, which have translated into a series of changes benefiting these communities.

      Correa himself participated in Monday's meeting, which also included several government ministers, such as the Coordinating Minister for Social Development Gabriela Rosero, Health Minister Margarita Guervara, Justice Minister Ledy Zuñiga, and the head of the political secretariat, Paola Pabon.

      President Correa announced that the government had made a series of new commitments as a result of the most recent meeting.

      Specifically he said the government would seek to change regulation for elections in 2017 so that people may line-up to vote according to the gender they identify with, instead of the sex assigned at birth.

      The government will also further promote anti-bullying programs inside schools and work so to promote education in LGBTI communities to ensure the participation rate is consistent with figures nation-wide.

      Hundreds of educational institutions in the country already count on student counseling on LGBTI-related issues. The government will also provide trainings for public officials on the human rights of LGBTI people.

      Correa said that an inter-institutional working group would be created to address hate crimes against LGBTI people. Ecuador already has a specialized team for investigating crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

      Half a million infants to receive polio vaccine in upcoming campaign

      March 24,2016 (Cubadebate)

      Since February 26, 1962, to date, 85 million doses of polio vaccine have been administered in Cuba, making the country the first in Latin America to eradicate this devastating childhood disease

      The entire population under 68 years of age has been protected, according to Dr. Marlén Valcárcel, director of the Ministry of Public Health’s (Minsap) National Immunization Program, reported ACN, with children under three years of age being immunized initially as infants, plus a subsequent booster.

      The doctor reported that during the second stage of the 55th national campaign, March 28 through April 3, a second dose of the vaccine will be administered orally to almost half a million children, 372,856 under the age of three.

      Cuba Awards Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro Maximum National Order

      March 18, 2016 (teleSUR English)

      Cuba has awarded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro one of the Caribbean country’s highest honors, the Maximum National Order.

      Maduro was in Cuba on Friday to accept the award, named after Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti.

      “Our union comes from love, brotherhood, identity, from two peoples with heroic histories,” Maduro said on receiving the award.

      “This award is truly for the heroic people of Venezuela, who have battled, and who do not give in.”

      Cuba and Venezuela have a long history of solidarity, with joint projects like Miracle Mission, to cure blindness, and Mission Barrio Adentro, bringing thousands of Cuban doctors to Venezuela.

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