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Colombian guerrillas to embrace Gandhism, ready for peace talks with Cuba

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Havana: Colombian guerrillas are now holding peace talks with their government here in Cuba have agreed to embrace Gandhism, the Art of Living said on Monday.

The guerrillas made the commitment to Art of Living’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar when he met them during a three-day visit to Cuba, an Art of Living statement said.

The statement quoted Ivan Marquez, a commander of FARC, as saying: “We will work for peace and justice for all the people of Colombia.”

Marquez, Pablo Catatumbo, and his group thanked Ravi Shankar for his “patience, understanding and wisdom”, the statement said.

After a lot of discussions, the FARC finally agreed to embrace the Gandhian principle of non-violence. Marquez announced this at a press conference.

“We will work for peace and justice for all the people of Colombia,” he was quoted as saying.

One of the members, Commander Pastor Alope, remarked that spiritual wisdom had been missing and was very much needed.

The Art of Living Foundation said there had been “a historic change of heart and strategy” by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.

The FARC, a leftist group, and has been waging  bloody guerrilla wars in Colombia since 1964. Varying reports put its current military strength at around 10,000 fighters.

The statement said FARC requested Ravi Shankar to actively participate in the peace process which is currently on in Havana.

“In this conflict, everyone should be considered victims. And inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help,” Ravi Shankar said.

The FARC has agreed to speed up the process and give a surprise breakthrough for peace building in the coming days.

On June 24, Ravi Shankar had an hour-long meeting with Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota.

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Cuba Gets Nationwide Internet For A Day

“We need to be able to put the content of the revolution online,” he told parliament in July, adding that Cubans could thus “counter the avalanche of pseudo-cultural, banal and vulgar content” on the internet.

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Internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans. VOA

Cuba’s government said it provided free internet to the Communist-run island’s more than 5 million cellphone users on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before it launches sales of the service.

Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. State-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA announced the trial, with Tuesday marking the first time internet services were available nationwide.

There are hundreds of WiFi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration.

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, considered the country’s social media pioneer, raved that she had directly sent a tweet from her mobile. In another tweet, she called the test a “citizen’s victory.”

A young Cuban checks his phone at an internet hotspot next to a picture of late revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Havana
A young Cuban checks his phone at an internet hotspot next to a picture of late revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Havana. VOA

On the streets of Havana, mobile users said they were happy about the day of free internet, even as some complained that connectivity was notably slower than usual.

“This is marvelous news because we can talk with family abroad without going to specific WiFi spots, there is more intimacy,” said taxi driver Andres Peraza.

Forty percent of Cubans have relatives living abroad.

Leinier Valdez, one of a group of young people trying to connect, said, “this is great. Its better and more so when you can connect for free.”

Hotspots currently charge about $1 an hour although monthly wages in Cuba average just $30.

The government has not yet said how much most Cubans would pay for mobile internet, or when exactly sales of the service will begin. But ETECSA is already charging companies and embassies $45 a month for four gigabytes.

Analysts have said broader Web access will ultimately weaken government control over what information reaches people in a country where the state has a monopoly on the media.

Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in Web access.
Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in Web access.

Whether because of a lack of cash, a long-running U.S. trade embargo or concerns about the flow of information, Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in Web access. Until 2013, internet was largely only available to the public at tourist hotels on the island.

But the government has since made boosting connectivity a priority, introducing cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots and slowly starting to hook up homes to the Web.

Long before he took office from Raul Castro in April, 58-year-old President Miguel Diaz-Canel championed the cause.

Also Read: Android Development and Data Analysis- Bloodlines of The Internet Industry

“We need to be able to put the content of the revolution online,” he told parliament in July, adding that Cubans could thus “counter the avalanche of pseudo-cultural, banal and vulgar content” on the internet. VOA

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