Archive for April, 2010

Hillary’s “Feelings” About Cuba and the Castros

April 23, 2010

Hillary’s “Feelings” About Cuba and the Castros

Why the Secretary of State’s “Personal Beliefs” Defy Logic

By NELSON P. VALDÉS

“A few weeks back, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that they are opened to a dialogue with Cuba but that they clearly want to see fundamental changes in the Cuban regime. It is my obligation to respond to Mrs. Clinton, with all due respect, and also to those in the European Union who are asking for unilateral gestures in the sense of dismantling our social and political regime. I was not elected President to return capitalism to Cuba or to surrender the Revolution. I was elected to defend, preserve and continue to perfect socialism, not to destroy it…with all due respect, we tell Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of that country, that if she wants to discuss everything we are willing to discuss everything about here, but about there, too…”

— Raul Castro, August 1, 2009

“It is my PERSONAL BELIEF that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years…I find that very sad, because there should be an opportunity for a transition to a full democracy in Cuba and it’s going to happen at some point, but it may not happen any time soon.” [1]

So said Hillary Clinton on April 9th.

Personal belief seemingly guides the foreign policy of the Secretary of State. This could save the American public some money. Obviously, there is no need for all the data collection and all the analytical units of the US government.

Let us assume Hillary was correct about her personal assumptions as to what motivates the rulers of Cuba. Should such a conclusion lead her to the use of reverse psychology? Wikipedia tells us:  “Reverse psychology is a persuasion technique involving the advocacy of a belief or behavior that is opposite to the one desired, with the expectation that this approach will encourage the subject of the persuasion to do what is desired: the opposite of what is suggested.” Hence, the Castros use reverse psychology successfully on the US government, but the State Department does not use the same method.

Hillary is implicitly saying that the Castros are masochists and devious opportunists while she and others are just enablers! Yes, foreign policy is now led by the theoretical assumptions of publicly shared codependency “theory.”  Since  Latin American scholars elucidated dependency theory, why not use co-dependency to guide the great USA?

Let’s face it; Hillary operates from a subjective personal universe where wishful thinking reigns. This is not new. On May 1, 2000 the wire services reported  that in a radio interview in Buffalo, New York,  she “expressed her HOPE that the father of the little Cuban boy Elián González, Juan Miguel, will eventually decide to seek exile and live in the United States. “During the 2007 democratic primaries she repeated the demand for the democratization of Cuba. On February 22, 2008 she asserted that Cuba had to change before Washington could consider having a different policy toward the island. Now, we learn from her that the Castros want the embargo/blockade to continue.  One assumes this is a recent discovery on herpart.

This premise has been repeated by the most conservative sectors of the exile community in the 1990s. By 2002 the “Fidel Castro likes the blockade thesis” penetrated the world of the Washington, DC “think tanks”. A report by the Cato Institute claimed, “”Supporters of the embargo casually assume that Castro wants an end to the embargo because he believes that step would solve his economic problems. Despite his rhetoric, Castro more likely fears the lifting of the U.S. sanctions. But as long as Castro can point to the United States as an external enemy, he will be successful in barring dissent, justifying control over the economy, and stirring up nationalist and anti-U.S. sentiments in Cuba. It is time for Washington to stop playing into Castro’s hands and instead pull the rug out from under him by ENDING THE EMBARGO.” [2]

Some members of Congress also “invented” the same assertion. Sen. Max Baucus added “feeling” and “extra political sensory perception.” He said at a hearing:  “In my view… Castro wants the embargo to continue. Observers have noted an emerging pattern. Every time we get close to more open relations, Castro shuts down the process with some repressive act designed to have a chilling effect on US-Cuban relations. Castro fears an end to the embargo. Believe me, I have a sense – I have been there. I have spoken to Castro, been to Cuba. You can FEEL it. It’s palpable. He knows the day the embargo falls is the day he runs out of excuses. Without the embargo, Castro would have no one to blame for the failing Cuban economy. Nor would his way of governing be able to survive the influx of American and democratic ideas that would flood his island if the embargo were lifted.” [3]

Cuban authorities have responded to such ridiculous assertions. In an interview with the Austrian paper Der Standard, Ricardo Alarcon on April 1, 1993, challenged the Clinton Administration to lift the embargo/blockade forone year and see if political cohesion collapses in Havana, as Cuban exiles were positing. Alarcón noted that if the US policy was changed, and the Cuban government was accepted by the US; then, Cuba would have no reason to see domestic opponents as agents of the Americans. [4] Ten years later, Alarcón again repeated the challenge, “the US government should dare to lift the blockade for a limited period of time and take the so-called excuse away.” [5]

* * *

Is foreign policy a matter of national interest or an extension of psychology? Hillary Clinton has revealed that on matters related to Cuba, the government in Havana cannot be guided by such national interest as sovereignty; instead personality and the subconscious drives Cuban rulers. Thus, we are enter the realm of pop psychology and not reasons of state.  But what becomes clear is that American foreign policy on Cuba is illogical, does not work, and does not have the support of the world community.

It is obvious that the United States government refuses to acknowledge the right of a small county to be independent. Or to frame the issue so that the Secretary of State might understand:  US policy is shaped by a sense of national frustration – a great power that cannot dictate to a country that is just a few miles away. That certainly has to be upsetting to those who see themselves as the leaders and masters of the universe, the inhabitants of the house on the hill, selected by God herself.

Yes, the search for national sovereignty and independence cannot be construed or interpreted as something that is just, well, short of insane and psychologically unstable. Imagine, the humbling impact of a little country that American power can indeed check mate in its economic and social growth but cannot end its defiance and social experiment.

In 2002, in a tongue -in-cheek, open letter to George Bush, I wrote: “At times all over the island people wonder if you are really trying to help Fidel. It looks that way. Again, let me remind you. Your policy has not achieved your objectives, but it has been rather helpful in keeping the Cuban revolutionary government in power. Thus, if it does not work, do not fix it! And thank you for assisting the revolutionary cause.” [6]

But it is not appropriate to end this opinion piece that way.  On November 15, 2007 Hillary Clinton was asked by Wolf Blitzer on national television the following question: ” You say national security is more important than human rights. Senator Clinton, what do you say?”  And she replied, ” I agree with that completely. The first obligation of the president of the United States is to protect and defend the United States of America.” [7] Fair enough.

Alexander Hamilton addressed the same issue in Federalist Paper No. 8. He wrote on November 20, 1787, “Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.” [8]

The question then is, does the same principle of national security apply to Cuba?  Madame Secretary, apply logic to your own view on Cuba and follow what the Founding Fathers understood then.  Put an end to the policies that have contributed to the external threat under which the Cuban government has lived since 1960. Then let us see what happens there.

Nelson P Valdés is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and director of the Cuba-L Direct Project at the University of New Mexico.

This article was written for CounterPunch and Cuba-L Direct.

Notes.

 [1] “Castro’s sabotage ending U.S. Cuba embargo: Clinton,” Reuters, April 9,

2010; 8:13 PM]

[2] Ian Vasquez and L Jacobo Rodríguez, Trade Embargo in and Castro Out, Journal of Commerce, May 27, 2002. http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6241

[3] http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/clip.php?appid=596073645

[4] 04/01/19930 – EFE (Madrid) – Alarcón Invita a EEUU a Levantar el Bloqueo Por Un Año.

[5] 12/13/03 –  Pascualserrano.net (Madrid)- Entrevista a Ricardo Alarcón, presidente de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular de Cuba http://www.pascualserrano.net/12_DICIEMBRE_03/06-12-03entrevista-alarcon.htm

[6]  An Open Letter to George Bush: On US Policy Toward Cuba,” CounterPunch, August 9, 2002. http://www.counterpunch.org/valdes0809.html

[7]”Democratic Debate in Las Vegas,” Aired November 15, 2007. CNN. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0711/15/se.02.html

[8] The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States, From the New York Packet. Tuesday, November 20, 1787 http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/fed/blfed8.htm

ALBA Wants Cuban 5 Free

April 21, 2010

       
 The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) demanded on Tuesday in Venezuela that the US government immediately release of five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters it unfairly keeps imprisoned.
In the final declaration of the Ninth Summit of the regional bloc, statesmen from Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela also demanded Washington a fair treatment for the Five and their relatives.
“We demand the Five and their relatives receive a humane and decent treatment, including the granting of visa and the possibility for their wives and children to visit them,” participants in the event stated in the document entitled “Caracas Bicentennial Manifesto Strengthening the New Independence.”
Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez are currently serving harsh sentences in separate high-security US jails, for defending their country from violent actions by anti-Cuban groups operating from US territory.
The ALBA countries also demanded from Washington the immediate and unconditional end of the economic, trade and financial blockade on Cuba, a unilateral measure imposed in 1962. The international community has overwhelmingly called for an end to that hostile policy as shown in systematic votes of condemnation at the UN, where 187 countries rejected the blockade last October 2009, ALBA leaders recall.

letter to Mrs Obama for visits Adriana and Olga

April 21, 2010

Swedish women appeal to Michelle Obama on behalf of Adriana and Olga       
 
Dear Mrs Michelle Obama

We, women in Sweden, appeal to you to take up the cause of two women who, for over ten years, have been denied the opportunity to visit their husbands imprisoned in the United States. Two Cuban women, Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva, time and time again, have been denied visas to visit their husbands, Gerardo Hernández och René Gonzalez. These men were unjustly sentenced to double life sentence and 15 years imprisonment, respectively, for gathering information in the US about terrorist operations in Florida directed against their country. They belong to the group known around the world as The Cuban Five, political prisoners in the United States. Their efforts contributed to the saving of many lives in both Cuba and the United States.
US authorities have motivated their denial of these two women’s repeated visa applications with the assertion that they would constitute a threat to the national security of the United States. But neither of them has ever been accused of anything. The hollowness of the reasoning for the visa denials is made clear by the shifting reasons give each time.
Most recently, in December of 2009, the Department of Homeland Security turned down Olga Salanuevas application for the eighth time. Without any explanation, she was prevented from visiting her husband, René González. When he was arrested in September,1998, they were living with their two daughters, entirely legally, in Miami, where their youngest daughter, who, like her father, is a US citizen, was born. When her husband was arrested, Olga was, as well. The purpose was to pressure René into confessing to crimes he had never committed. After three months she was deported to Cuba without her two-year-old daughter. She was granted a visa in March 2002, but it was revoked before she had a chance to use it. For more than ten years US authorities have cruelly punished her in spite of the fact that she has committed no crime.
Adriana Pérez was also granted a visa in 2002, in July, and travelled to the US to visit her husband, Gerardo Hernández. But when she arrived in Houston she was taken into custody at the airport and was photographed, fingerprinted, interrogated for 11 hours, denied access to an attorney and Cuban diplomats and was then sent back to Cuba. With premeditated ruthlessness she was given hope, only to be humiliated and denied her long awaited meeting with her husband. Adriana last had her application denied in July of 2009, on her twenty-first wedding anniversary.
Denying family members the possibility of visiting prisoners is an unworthy extra penalty for all involved and contradicts international standards for humane treatment. Those standards include the right of prisoners to have contact with their families and receive visitors. We are amazed by this cruelty toward two honorable women who have committed no crime and want only to visit their husbands.
Olga Salanueva’s and Adriana Pérez’ visa applications are supported by a significant number of religious, judicial and human rights organizations – from the world-wide Council of Churches to the United States’ own Council of Christian Churches, Cuba’s Council of Churches, the Association of American Jurists, Amnesty International, a long list of Nobel Prize winners (for Literature or the Peace Prize), members of parliaments, bishops, priests, jurists, authors, human rights activists and intellectuals around the world. They have also been received by parliaments and governments in many countries that support their struggle; most recently, in February of this year, by the EU Parliament.
Dear Mrs Michelle Obama, we appeal to you to do what you can to get visas for Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez so they can visit their husbands, and thereby lessen the shadow that has fallen over the United States because of the cruel treatment of The Five and their families.

Estocolmo 17 de abril 2010
• Member of the EU Parliament Eva-Britt Svensson (v)
• Former EU Commissioner Anita Gradin
• Members of the Swedish Parliament Anne Ludvigssen (s), Bodil Ceballos (mp), Siv Holma (v), Helena Bargholtz (fp), Liselotte Olsson (v), Amineh Kakabaveh (v), Marianne Berg (v)
• Bishop Eva Brunne, Stockholm
• Opposition leader Ann-Margarethe Livh, Stockholm municipality
• Women for Peace, Bibbi Steinertz,
• Swedish Women’s Leftwing Union, Majlis Fridén

Speech Raúl Castro at Alba summit

April 21, 2010

Speech given by Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th ALBA-TCP Summit, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, April 19, 2010, “52nd Year of the Revolution.” (Typescript version, Council of State)       
 
Dear and esteemed compañero Hugo Chávez Frías, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
Dear and esteemed heads of state and government who are present here;
Delegates and invited guests;
Venezuelans;

It is very moving for us to be in Venezuelan today, April 19, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the independence struggle, which represented the battles for independence in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.
It was the embryo of a first integration process in Latin America, as Bolívar understood the destiny of the peoples of our region very early on. Everything that we do now for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean began precisely here, on a day like today, two centuries ago.
In the name of the Cuban people and compañero Fidel, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to transmit to all Venezuelan men and women our sincere congratulations on this memorable date and eternal gratitude to the memory of their principal hero, the liberator Simón Bolívar, of whom Martí said “…in calm one cannot speak of the one who never lived in it: of Bolívar one can speak with a mountain as a platform, or between lightning bolts and rays, or with a handful of free peoples in his fist and the tyranny beheaded at his feet…!”
Today we are also celebrating the summit meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) – an integrationist organization of a new kind, a faithful continuation of the legacy of our national heroes – which we are undertaking at this time and, in the last few days, other compañeros have been working on the documents that have been presented to us. The ALBA is continuing to make a sustained advance in order to settle the social debt with our peoples.
The declaration of territories free from illiteracy by several of its member states; the training of human resources, especially in the areas of health care and education; the clinical genetic psychosocial research and treatment of people with disabilities, a work of enormous humane impact, are some of the processes that stand out in our alliance.
Advances in commercial and financial integration, as well as efforts in pursuit of energy, food, technological, and other kinds of economic sovereignty are also outstanding contributions from our organization.
The 19th of April – as I was telling you a few seconds ago – also coincides with the 49th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban people over the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs], the first defeat of imperialism in this hemisphere. In the course of barely 72 hours, under the direct leadership of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz (Applause), our combatants in the Armed Forces and Militia, via energetic counterattacks and uninterrupted actions, forced the surrender of the invading contingent, selected and trained by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and backed up by the U.S. naval fleet which escorted it to the Cuban coast, and had to resign itself to witnessing the resounding defeat of that adventure.
Just a few days ago, our press, recalling the anniversary, reminded us of the huge media campaign that accompanied the military aggression; first they tried to make it seem that the bombings of air force bases on April 15, 1961 by aircraft painted with Cuban insignia was carried out by our pilots, allegedly in disagreement with the direction of the Revolution. On April 17, when the invasion began, the U.S. news agencies disseminated all kinds of lies. They affirmed, for example, that Cuba’s second city, Santiago de Cuba, was already in the hands of the invaders, that our militia had dispersed, that Fidel had fled and that I had been arrested, reaching the absurdity of informing the world that they had taken the port of the city of Bayamo, which, for a fact, does not have a coast and is situated in the center of the former Oriente province, the widest in the country. That campaign reminds us the current one and the continuous campaigns that are being waged against many of the countries present here.
In its 50 years, the Cuban Revolution has not been nor will be destroyed by the blockade, by subversion, or by lies. Cuba, like Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, to one degree or another, are the preferred target of ferocious and slanderous media campaigns, organized and financed by the centers of hegemonic power in the United States, national oligarchies, and, in some cases, the European Union.
We have already seen, less than one year ago, how a coup d’état was executed in Honduras – a country then a member of ALBA – with the complicity and support of imperialism and its media instruments. Our peoples should learn the lessons that can be derived from these events and should never let themselves be confused by the siren songs to which they are daily subjected, or ever give in to coercion and pressure.
The experience of the long and painful road that has been traveled in the common history of two centuries has taught us that we only have one alternative: to unite, fight, and overcome (Applause).
I add my voice to the words, also spoken by Evo, of congratulations to the Venezuelan people, to all of the representatives who marched in that magnificent parade today which filled us with emotion from beginning to end (Applause and exclamations) and to see a pure people, now armed, in addition to their glorious Armed Forces, which can be seen advancing before our eyes; to see students present in the parade and on the platforms; campesinos, workers, the multiple cultural demonstrations – many or the majority of which unknown to me at least – and which demonstrated the richness of this nation, just like the other sister nations on this continent. Even though I saw all of this in person, I would like to see it again on video – as they say, DVD – so as to enjoy it more, because television cameras capture – as Chávez told me – much better angles, which escaped those of us present here.

To conclude, I wish to add myself to a “Viva the Venezuelan Armed Forces and the armed people!”
Viva the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the emancipation struggles of our America!
Viva the glorious Venezuelan women who we saw march today with elegance, poise, and beauty!
Viva the Bolivarian Revolution!
Viva Chávez!

Thank you very much.

-Taken from Granma International

Convincing Cubans

April 14, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work
Convincing Cubans

By ROBERT SANDELS

 http://counterpunch.com/sandels04142010.html

The Brookings Institution has issued another one of those helpful cookbooks on how to prepare Cuba. The new recipes suggest adding more ingredients from the US public to lessen the awful taste of stale White House concoctions.

Last year, Brookings offered advice on how to con Cubans into accepting a “new” US policy to “advance the interests of the United States in seeking stable relationships based on common hemispheric values.” [1] Presumably, the US-assisted destruction of the Honduran government would be an example of preferred hemispheric values.

Now, from the Brookings Institution, comes “U.S. Public Diplomacy for Cuba: Why It’s Needed and How to Do It,”[2] in which former British Ambassador in Cuba Paul Hare makes the case that cultural exchanges, NGOs and even ordinary tourists can help convince Cubans to be more like — well, the people at Brookings.

However, public diplomacy faces a challenge in persuading them. The Ambassador acknowledged after his 2001-2004 assignment in Havana was over that most Cubans want change but not free-market capitalism “or a US-imposed solution.”

Worse, “Most Cubans are either too bored or resigned to care,” he wrote. [3] Given the bleak almost gulag-like picture he drew of Cuba’s state security systems (“one of the most complete instruments of control in the world”), public diplomacy may have nothing they want to buy.

What is public diplomacy? When Otto Reich ran the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1980s, he used it as a propaganda weapon for the Reagan administration and turned it on the US population. He was accused, among other things, of having engaged in unlawful efforts covertly to bring the US media in behind Reagan’s Central American wars. [4] He evidently did not read the instructions that came with the weapon and was aiming the thing in the wrong direction.

Things are different now. Ambassador Hare thinks public diplomacy can help convince Cubans to support US objectives – in other words, assisted suicide.

Cubans probably already know what US objectives are. They can read about them in the Clinton era Helms-Burton Act or in reports from George W. Bush’s Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which lay out the road to a market-driven future for Cuba as bright as the one facing the United States. Something might have to be done, however, to tone down the purest expression of Cuba policy produced in President Eisenhower’s State Department: “Every possible means should be undertaken.to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of government.” [5]

How will public diplomacy change the minds of all those Cubans who do not want free-market capitalism? While talking up its advantages, public diplomacy should keep its mouth shut about how free-market capitalism is working out in the United States.

Does this mean that public diplomacy must engage in scripted lying and invidious comparisons with Cuba? Not necessarily. The message need not be grounded in facts but aimed at creating a pleasant daydream in the minds of Cubans about how much the United States means to them.

Cuba without the U.S.? Impossible!

In his Brookings essay, the Ambassador answers a question few people have ever thought to ask. Why was there no public diplomacy in Cuba during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista?

Because,” he says, “the United States had no need to convince the Cuban government and people of why the United States mattered to them. In almost every aspect of life, it was impossible to conceive of Cuba without the United States.”

The Ambassador may have hit upon a theory of revolution that could lead to entirely new lines of investigation. Fidel Castro made it possible to conceive of Cuba without the United States.

It turns out that the lasting effect of the revolution may have been to spread unhealthy forgetfulness. It was this that Fidel Castro was exporting, not communism.

Thus, it appears that Fidel’s error was in running about making all sorts of unnecessary economic, social and political changes when all he really accomplished was to make it difficult for Cubans to see where their true interests lie. Now it remains only to convince them through public diplomacy that they must again understand how much the United States still matters.

However, on one point, the Ambassador is not quite right; there was indeed considerable public diplomacy before 1959. Many non-governmental organizations like the Cosa Nostra did yeoman work in outreach to the Cuban people. Likewise, many individuals in the informal people-to-people exchanges programs of that period sought closer bilateral relations with young Cuban women down on their luck.

With that minor correction, let us examine the Ambassador’s scheme. To clear the way for effective public diplomacy, he recommends resolving several outstanding issues (“legacies) that get in the way. Cubans for example are unhappy with propaganda from Radio and TV Marti, having a US naval base on their territory, known terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles roaming free in Miami, the State Department putting Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism and the continued imprisonment of five Cuban agents sent to infiltrate Miami terrorist organizations. The Ambassador gives few details on how these issues might be resolved – perhaps by an out-of-court settlement in which the United States admits to no wrongdoing.

Renouncing the goal of destroying the Cuban government, however, is not even on the list. Here we have a flaw in the Ambassador’s thinking: actually showing Cubans what the United States has in mind for them rather defeats the purpose of public diplomacy especially if what you stand for is ending their way of life. To make this thing work, the practitioners of public diplomacy will have to explain to Cubans how economic and other forms of strangulation are in their self interest.

How could the Ambassador have omitted this detail? Something in his analysis of Cuba is a bit off. The answer is found in his 2004 report. You see, he’s British, and unlike the Americans, the British do not have a Cuban exile community to instruct them on the correct study of Fidel. “So real knowledge about Fidel, his objectives and methods is scarce,” concluded the Ambassador after three years on the island.

It follows then that all public diplomacy should be carried out by Miami exiles.

Nobody dies for a stove in the U.S.

The current case of the Cuban hunger strikers offers an opportunity for public diplomacy – properly directed by Miami exiles — to show how much better prisoners in the United States are treated. Government and media  criticism of Cuba over the recent death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata  Tamayo and the ongoing hunger strikes by others is mostly directed to people  outside of Cuba, not to Cubans. Few people there had ever heard of them and  few sympathize with the small number of dissidents who support hunger  strikers. Cuban social scientist Rafael Hernandez believes this is because  the dissident movement “lacks leadership and legitimacy.” [6]

Ambassador Hare would probably say that what it lacks are not leaders and legitimacy but input from our public diplomacy.

What he likely would advise is that our anxiety over prisoners in Cuba refusing to eat should be communicated to the Cuban public through direct involvement of exiles speaking for Miami and parts of New Jersey.

Instead, we have President Obama butting in with a ham-handed official pronouncement accusing the Cuban government of repression and calling for the release of all political prisoners. Perhaps Obama did not read the part about how “the United States should recognize that the most effective and credible voice is not always that of its government.”

Apparently, Obama does not know how “to engage the Cuban public with a proactive, unconditional and visible outreach strategy.”

This and other principles of effective public diplomacy would require Obama, through outreach organizations funded by Congress, to explain to Cubans why Zapata, a convict imprisoned for ordinary felonies, should have been given a TV, stove and telephone for his prison cell as he had requested.

Cubans should know that convicts in US prisons routinely get such things provided they do not stop eating for more than 10 days as stipulated by the Bureau of Prisons. Some prisoners demand curtains and down comforters, for which only a weekend fast is needed.

To promote further awareness of positive achievements, Obama should instruct his public diplomats to cite recent examples of the humane treatment of felons in US prisons. Many have been released after stating to a notary that they have become disenchanted with the US government, its deficit spending, the inflationary Federal Reserve balance sheet and other policies. If requested, they may be issued small arms, tranquilized and relocated by helicopter to their natural habitat in the Michigan woods.

This kind of information about how much better these things work in the United States would resonate with Cubans and point the way toward “a policy centered on promoting the well-being of the Cuban people,” at least those who are in prison. Lavish parties, thrown by the US embassy might work, but if the Cubans do not attend, then perhaps the British mansion in Havana could be used and the 32,000 English pounds – what Ambassador Hare spent per year – would be increased. In fact the indoor swimming pool at the former Ambassador’s home in Havana could be made available to the invited natives, it will be a way of demonstrating that His Majesty’s representative  did not engage in tourist apartheid.

Indeed, all Cubans should be allowed to go on hunger strikes to get a new stove and fridge. Why should they have to go to prison to enjoy these things? The next thing you know the Cuban government will forbid its citizens the right to go to prison! Public diplomacy can expose these new levels of repression.

Upon further reflection, why should Cubans have to go hungry to enjoy the American dream? If US senators don’t actually have to talk all night to carry on a filibuster, why can’t Cubans declare a virtual hunger strike when they need new appliances?

The hungerless hunger strike should be promoted as a human right and any attempt to infringe on it by tyrannical government should be denounced by minor Czech diplomats and Miami-based rock stars.

Obviously, one could spend years in Cuba and never comprehend what the country is all about. And the Ambassador seemingly believes that the US government can put its best features honestly before the Cuban public instead of wallowing in Washington’s “unfortunate” past errors of invasion, sabotage, assassination and subversion. The ambassador, like Obama, is telling the world and the Cubans “I didn’t come here to debate the past – I came here to deal with the future.” But, the US and the British continue to behave as they have done since the 1950s. It did not work then. It won’t work now.

Robert Sandels is an analyst and writer for Cuba-L Direct.  This essay was written for Cuba-L Direct and for CounterPunch.

Notes

[1] “Cuba: A New Policy for Critical and Constructive Engagement,” Brookings Institution, 04/09,.

[2] Paul Hare, “U.S. Public Diplomacy for Cuba: Why It’s Needed and How to Do It,” Brookings Institution, 03/10, .

[3] Hare to Foreign Office, no date. See BBC hyperlink, BBC News, 11/20/06, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/.

[4] “Public Diplomacy and Covert Propaganda. The Declassified Record of Ambassador Otto Juan Reich,” National Security Archives, 03/02/01, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB40/.

 [5] Lester D. Mallory Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American, 04/60, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba, quoted in Salin Lamrani, “Las sanciones económicas contra Cuba: el fracaso de una política cruel e irracional,” Rebelión, http://www.rebelion.org/noticias/2007/9/56893.pdf.

[6] Rafael Hernandez, “The Cuban Opposition’s Resources,” Cuba-L Analysis.

April 12, 2010
Paulo FG: We are Here to Refute the Lies against Cuba

 

 Renowned Cuban popular music singer Paulo Fernandez Gallo (Paulo FG) rejected the mass media campaign against Cuba, orchestrated by the US and its European allies at the Concert for the Homeland held in Havana city.

“We are used to it, we have lived through many smear campaigns against us, and we are here to refute them, because there are no reasons to have us on the spot” FG told ACN news agency minutes before making thousands gathered at the Anti-imperialists Tribune dance to his music.

The Concert for the Homeland, in which over 200 artists participating showed the widespread rejection of Cuban artists to the manipulations of the international mass media to denigrate Cuban reality

County poet Alexis Díaz Pimienta improvised metrics that made the audience broke into thick applauses.

“When a man sings what he carries inside his chest, no one can take away from him the right to open his mouth wide open and cry outloud that he loves the Revolution” rhymed Diaz Pimienta.

Edgar Gonzalez, a young rapper, said he believed that Cuba’s problems could be solved by those Cubans sweating, living, dreaming and working in Cuba, not by anyone from outside that wants to come and give lessons about anything.

The concert wrapped up with the performances of popular Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso and his orchestra, the reggaeton star Baby Lores and Manolito Simonet and his “Trabuco” band.

 

We Have the Richness of the Truth, says Cuban Singer


“We Cubans have shortages, but do have the wealth of truth,” said singer Candido Fabre, before performing on stage yesterday at the Anti-imperialist tribunal in the Concert for the Homeland.

Fabre won the applause of the audience gathered in the act of reaffirmation organized by Cuban artists and intellectuals, to reject the media campaign through which imperialism seeks to denigrate the Revolution and its right to build a decent, free and fair society.

Fabre told ACN news agency that was a pleasure to say yes to the country once again and show the world that the European Parliament and the US are wrong.

”It’s very easy for the rich to go against the humble and we are part of that humble people who have a grandeur that is called dignity and moral” the singer stated.

He added that his songs have always represented the love he feels for his homeland and they deal, one way or the other, with the Cubans everyday lives and are an ode to the Revolution and the men who made it.

Fabre stressed that the spiritual greatness Cubans have is what humankind needs, while others find in their greed the urgency to lie about and attack Cuba, despite deep inside acknowledging that Cuba is a beacon of peace for the world.

“To go along the powerful Yankees is easy but someday they will realize that many voices in the world are saying Yes for Cuba!, And that happens because this island is an example to the world,” said Fabre.

 

The “Taxpayers” of the Media War Against Cuba
 

By Miguel José Maury Guerrero 

 

 A media war against Cuba comes alive today from the United States and Europe, with more than a few echoes in Latin American media, but no Cuban is overtaken as it is a phenomenon that has been ongoing for five decades, with frequent periods of enhancement and as the present.

The issues now displayed in the printed media, broadcasts and electronic spaces, as the Internet, are the same issues that have been long-handled: human rights and alleged dissidents, cornerstones of anti-Cuban propaganda.

The so-called “Bush Plan” in 2004 – originated from the “Committee for a Free Cuba”, in 2003 and subsequent aggressive efforts – as well as the “European Common Position” in June, 2004, become the program platform or documentary framework that define them as priorities to raise against the island

Thus, these days, quite a few international media have been found in the voluntary death of a common prisoner in Cuba, and the self-styled “Ladies in White”, their focus.

Such excuses were put forward last March by the European Parliament and the European People’s Party Summit to issue statements against Cuba; having extensive propaganda impact.

What scholars today call the media war is an aggression against the Greater Antilles practiced by Washington and its international allies, perhaps from the moment of the Revolution outbreak, with the Assault on Moncada Quarters on July 26, 1953.

The manipulation of American and world public opinion against the island, which has always been the goal of this contest, had lies, misrepresentation – another form of lying – and the omission, as their basic weapons.

The worst of it is that the offspring of the minds of analysts and policy makers from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has often achieved their disinformation goals, but before this dirty campaign, Cuba is not standing crossed-armed, it has sufficient grounds to show the world where there is truth and reason.

 

Cuban Electoral Process is Successfully Guaranteed
 

Partial stage preparations within the present electoral process will be over next April 25th according to the scheduled program and thousand of supporting personnel are being already trained from this week on to help at the polls for electing the delegates of the 169 Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power, called City Council Department counselors in other countries.
Cuban Elections will Bear Witness to the Unity of our People
The training deals with how to work with the voting paper models, the way of exercising one’s right to vote and the proper way of counting them in public with the absolute quality, transparency and mass participation demanded in our electoral system.

The strict legal observance of this new exercise, which is protected by children at the polls, endorses the principles and democratic process in Cuba and is acknowledged by all its citizens and expressed through their overwhelming participation.

In this new stage, posting the lists, photos, biographies of nominees and daily social trajectory on every electoral district for selecting the most suitable candidates is still observed so voters may have sufficient information to form an opinion and vote for the right person for this job according to his or her merits and virtues as well as correct any possible mistake.

More than eight million 400 thousand voters, 71 per cent of the Cuban population, have the right to participate in this year’s partial elections and almost 35 thousand candidates were already nominated from February 24 to March 24 within their own living areas to facilitate the proper interchange and info with the people; however, a Dynamic Voting Test will take place before the final electoral calling before April 25 to activate all infrastructures involved.

This is the 13th Cuban Electoral Process since the creation of the National Assembly of People’s Power in 1976, the supreme political entity of the Cuban state empowered at all levels and validated in the whole country to express and defend our socialist principles and support the revolution.

The policy of openness of Cuban electoral processes encourages the confidence of the people towards its political system that is now a victim of the imperialist campaign of lies and blackmail.

 

Cuba’s disaster-hit homes get eco-friendly rebuild

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Disaster affected homes rebuilt using low-tech and environmentally sensitive materials
  • Scheme is brainchild of Cuba government research and development institute
  • Project has been export to many other Latin American countries

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — “We never imagined having a house like this,” says Eric Martinez as he walks through the three small bedrooms with their flowered quilts and family pictures.

The walls are freshly painted and pink curtains hang in the windows.

“When the hurricane came through it left nothing, nothing at all,” he says. “It wasn’t just one house that was destroyed, it was a bunch.”

Hurricane Gustav slammed into the Cuban coastal town of Los Palacios in August, 2008, a dangerous category 4 storm. It damaged 84 percent of the homes, many of them made of wood. Ten days later, Hurricane Ike tore across much of Cuba, dumping torrential rains on Los Palacios. And then in November, Paloma struck the island. The government put the combined damage at $10 billion.

Now, a unique program helps victims like Martinez re-build their lives — and their homes.

“Here, nobody imagined we would recover so quickly. And when you build for yourself, you feel good,” said Martinez.

New houses have gone up all along the hurricane corridor in the western province of Pinar del Rio. Many of them are made entirely or partly of “eco-materials” — local resources turned into construction materials at a low cost — and all done in the community.

The project is the brainchild of Cuba’s CIDEM research and development institute.

“In a context where energy is very expensive… and where resources are expensive and the environment is being destroyed, you have to look for local solutions” explained CIDEM director Fernando Martirena.

After hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, CIDEM moves in quickly to set up mini-factories using its own low-tech machinery.

“Usually in the aftermath of a disaster, the choice is whether you have tents or one of these workshops,” Martirena says. “We choose to develop technologies so you can come soon after the disaster, organize the local population and produce the materials for real, lasting houses.”

In Los Palacios, CIDEM set up a mini-factory last year. Five workers operate a simple contraption that uses vibrations to turn out blocks made from local gravel, sand and cement. “This machine has the capacity to produce 1,200 blocks a day — that’s equivalent to a house,” regional manager Jose Miguel Capote explains.

Row upon row of the bricks dry in the sun before families pick them up to start re-construction — usually only a few blocks away.

Across the mountains, a similar workshop churns out bricks in the northern coastal town of Bahia Honda. On a nearby residential street, Rene Garcia, a cafeteria worker, mixes cement and his wife offers juice to one of the professional builders provided by the government.

“Whatever he tells me to do, I do it,” Garcia says of the builder. “Anything to finish this quickly.”

In Cuba, the government works closely with CIDEM. They provide professionals to oversee the work and they guarantee hurricane victims paid leave from their jobs in order to rebuild houses. CIDEM has set up workshops in 18 countries in Latin America, five in Africa and most recently in Asia, with funding primarily from Switzerland and Canada.

“These are labor intensive technologies because they are targeting developing countries where unemployment is a great issue,” Martirena says.

“The environmental impact is about saving energy most of all,” he adds, pointing out that little or no transportation is needed.

The houses cost up to $15,000 in Central America, for example. There, the bill is often picked up by the local government and non-profit organizations.

Mileidy Rodriguez hugs 9-month-old Adrian as workers slap cement on her front wall. For now, her house is just a skeleton: a cinder block bathroom, cement kitchen and bedrooms made from wooden planks.

“My house, look how it’s coming,” she says proudly. “We’ll be living here soon, and probably better than before.” Rodriguez’ old house was flattened by Gustav while she and her family sought shelter with her mother.

She can barely hold back tears when she talks about it. “Just imagine,” she says. “We were left homeless with two children, and a third on the way.”

Many Cuban families are still homeless. But CIDEM helps ensure those who rebuild have homes that will survive the next hurricane season.

 

Fidel : The Ninth Congress of the Communist Youth League of Cuba

April 10, 2010

The Ninth Congress of the Communist Youth League of Cuba  

The leader of the Cuban Revolution writes that he closely followed the Ninth Congress of the Communist Youth League of Cuba, “It is no exaggeration to say that to me it was one of the most touching moments of my long and hazardous life.” He added, “It is most convenient that what was said there is reproduced and known inside and outside the country through the media, not so much for our compatriots who have accumulated experience in this long struggle but because it is fitting that the peoples of the world know the truth and the extremely serious consequences of the direction in which the empire and its allies are taking humanity” 

8 abril 2010

 I had the privilege of following directly the voices, images, ideas, arguments, faces, reactions and applauses of the delegates taking part in the final session of the 9th Congress of the Young Communist League of Cuba held at the Convention Center last Sunday, April 4. The TV cameras show details from much better angles and distances than can be perceived by the eyes of those attending any of these events. It is no exaggeration to say that to me it was one of the most touching moments of my long and hazardous life. I could not be there but I felt inside like someone engaged in a journey along the ideas for which he has fought three fourth of his life. However, ideas and values would be worthless for a revolutionary who did not feel it is his duty to fight every minute of his life to overcome the ignorance we all come with into the world. Even if few admit it, chance and circumstances play a decisive role in the results of any human work. It is sad to think of so many revolutionaries, with many more merits, who could not live to see the victory of the cause for which they fought and died, be it the independence or a deep social Revolution in Cuba; eventually, both are inextricably bound together. From the mid 1950s, the year I completed my university studies, I considered myself a radical as well as an advanced revolutionary, thanks to the ideas I received from Marti, Marx, and countless thinkers and heroes who wanted a world with more justice. Nearly a century had gone by since October 10, 1868, when our fellow countrymen had started the independence war in our country against what was left in the Americas of a colonial and enslaving empire. The powerful neighbor to the North had decided the annexation of our country as if it were a ripe fruit fallen from a rotten tree. Europe had already seen the vigorous emergence of the socialist ideas and the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeois society, which had seized power by a historical law during the French Revolution that broke out on July 1789 inspired in the ideas of Jean Jacob Rousseau and the 18th century’s encyclopedists, which had also been at the roots of the Declaration of Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, representing the revolutionary ideas of that time. Ever more often in human history the events tend to combine and overlap. In my view, a self-critical spirit, and the constant necessity to study, observe and meditate are characteristics that no revolutionary cadre can do without. From an early stage, my ideas were already irreconcilable with the hateful exploitation of man by man, a brutal notion on which the Cuban society was based under the aegis of the mightiest imperialist country that has ever existed. The basic issue while the Cold War was in full swing was the search for a strategy adjusted to the concrete and peculiar conditions of our small nation submitted to the contemptible economic system imposed on a semi-illiterate people –albeit one with a heroic tradition—through military force, deceit and the monopoly over the media, which turned the political views of the overwhelming majority of the people into reflex actions. However, despite this sad reality they could not prevent the great agitation among the people caused by the abuse and exploitation of that system. For some time after the Second World War for the distribution of the planet, which was the cause of the second carnage, –hardly 20 years after the first, but this time unleashed by the fascist extreme right, that took the lives of more than 50 million people, including 27 million Soviets– the democratic sentiment prevailed in the world and also friendliness toward the USSR, China and other allies in that war that ended with the unnecessary use of two nuclear bombs, which brought death to hundreds of thousand of people in two helpless cities of a power already defeated by the irrepressible advance of the allied forces, including the Red Army troops that in a few days had annihilated the powerful Japanese army of Manchuria. The Cold War was initiated by the new American President almost immediately after the victory. The former president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who enjoyed international prestige and popularity for his anti-fascist stance, passed away after his third reelection and before the end of that war. He was then replaced by his Vicepresident Harry Truman, an uninspiring and mediocre man, who was responsible for that disastrous policy. The United States, the only developed nation that was spared from destruction by its geographical position, stored up almost all of the gold in the planet and the surplus of the industrial and agricultural production, so it was able to use the well-known Bretton Woods accords to impose to the world economy onerous conditions whose grievous consequences are still felt. Before the onset of the Cold War, there was in Cuba a quite progressive Constitution, as well as the hope and potential for democratic changes, but not of course for a social revolution. The removal of that Constitution by a reactionary coup during the Cold War paved the way for a socialist revolution in our Homeland, which was the main contribution of our generation. The merits of the Cuban Revolution can be measured by the fact that such a small nation has for so long been capable of putting up a resistance against the hostile policy and criminal actions carried out against our people by the most powerful empire ever in the history of mankind, the same that was in the habit of handling the countries of the hemisphere in its own way thus it underestimated a small, dependent and poor nation located a few miles off its coasts. This resistance would never have been possible without the dignity and ethics that have always characterized the policies of Cuba, a country harassed with revolting lies and slanders. Alongside ethics, a culture and conscience were built that made possible the feat of more than five decades of resistance. This was not a particular merit of its leaders but basically of its people. The great difference between the past –when the word socialism could barely be uttered—and the present could be observed the day of the last session of the 9th Congress of the Young Communist League of Cuba in the delegates’ remarks and in the speech made by the President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers. It is most convenient that what was said there is reproduced and known inside and outside the country through the media, not so much for our compatriots who have accumulated experience in this long struggle but because it is fitting that the peoples of the world know the truth and the extremely serious consequences of the direction in which the empire and its allies are taking humanity. In his closing remarks –short, profound, and accurate– Raul went straight to the point concerning some major issues. His speech cut deep into the entrails of the empire and its cynical allies, as he was critical and self-critical something that makes more vigorous and robust the morals and the strength of the Cuban Revolution, if we are consistent with the daily teachings of such a dialectic and deep process in the concrete conditions of Cuba. The empire was so used to impose its will that it underestimated the resistance that a small Latin American country of the Caribbean was capable of, a country that is only 90 miles off its coasts and where it owned the fundamental wealth, monopolized trade and political relations, and forcibly imposed a military base against the will of the nation, under the umbrella of a legal agreement that they also turned into something of a constitutional nature. They despised the worth of ideas vis-à-vis their immense power. Raul reminded them of how the mercenary forces were defeated in Giron [Bay of Pigs] less than 72 hours after their landing, before the eyes of the Yankee Naval fleet and of the firmness of our people that remained unperturbed during the October [Missile] Crisis of 1962 refusing to accept the US inspection of our territory –after the agreement that ignored our national sovereignty reached by the USSR and that country without consulting us– despite the countless number of nuclear weapons aimed against the island. He also referred to the consequences of the demise of the USSR, which meant a 35% fall of our GDP and an 85% drop in Cuba’s foreign trade, compounded by a tightening of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade on our Homeland. Nearly 20 years have passed since that sad and terrible event, however, Cuba remains on its feet and determined to hold its ground. That’s why it is particularly important to overcome and leave behind everything that may jeopardize the healthy development of our economy. Raul also recalled that the imperialist system imposed on the planet is seriously threatening today the survival of the human species. Presently, to overcome old and new challenges we are counting on the people that went from illiteracy to one of the highest levels of education in the world, that are the owners of the mass media and capable of building the necessary awareness. On the other hand, regardless of the need to promote knowledge, it would be absurd to ignore that in an increasingly complex and changing world the fundamental duty of any citizen is to work and to create the material goods the society requires. The Revolution proclaimed the universal expansion of knowledge in the understanding that the better trained people are the more useful they will be throughout their lives, but the Revolution has never ceased to extol the sacred duty of doing the work required by the society. By the same token, physical work is a necessity for both education and human health, that’s why following one of Marti’s principles we advocated from a very early stage the notion of combining study and work. Our education made considerable progress when becoming a professor was proclaimed as a duty and tens of thousand of youths chose to teach or whatever was most necessary for our society. Forgetting any of these principles would come into conflict with the construction of socialism. Cuba, like every other Third World nation, is the victim of a shameful drain of talents and young labor force; we can never cooperate with that plundering of our human resources. The task to which each person devotes his or her life cannot only be the result of a personal wish but also of education. Retraining and sharpening everyone’s skills is an unavoidable necessity of any human society. The Party and State cadres will have to tackle increasingly complex problems. Those responsible for political education will need to learn more than ever about history and economics, due precisely to the complexity of their work. Suffice it to read the news coming in every day from all parts of the world to understand that ignorance and shallowness are absolutely incompatible with political responsibility. The reactionaries and the mercenaries, who yearn for consumerism and refuse working and studying, will find it ever more difficult to fit in public life. There will always be in human society demagogues and opportunists who advocate easy solutions with the aim of becoming popular but those who betray ethics will have less and less possibilities of deceiving. The struggle has taught us the damage that opportunism and treason can cause. The education of the cadres will be the most important task to be mastered by the revolutionary parties. There will never be easy solutions; strictness and exigency must prevail. Let’s guard ourselves especially from those that throw down the drain the people’s principles and dreams together with the dirty water. For a few days I’ve wanted to speak of the Youth Congress but I chose to wait until it was publicized in order not to rob it of any space in the press. Yesterday, April 7, was Vilma’s birthday. I was touched as I heard her voice on television accompanied by a piano. My appreciation is greater every day for her work and for everything she did for the Revolution and for Cuban women. There are more reasons every day to fight and to win.

CUBA, Shall Defend the Truth with our Ethics and our Principles

April 9, 2010

 We Shall Defend the Truth with our Ethics and our Principles

The [U.S.] empire and its allies have launched a new crusade in an attempt to demonize Cuba. Their powerful political and media machinery has set in motion a colossal operation of deception with the object of discrediting the revolutionary process, destabilizing the country and generating the conditions for the destruction of our social system.

In this heated campaign, they use their mercenaries at will. Seeking to obtain shameful political dividends, they send them to their deaths without the slightest concern for those human beings; just as they have never cared about the death of more than 3,000 Cubans as a result of acts of terrorism organized and financed from the United States, or the fate of the 2,000-plus compatriots mutilated in those abominable acts, or citizens who have perished in the Florida Straits after venturing on ill-fated adventures heeding the siren song of the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act.

They cynically invoke human rights that they themselves have disregarded and continue to disregard with impunity today in many parts of the world. They hypocritically accuse the Revolution of being responsible for the death of one person, a common prisoner who, thanks to the anti-Cuba campaigns and the abundant resources and means dedicated to that end, they dressed up as a political prisoner, to be sacrificed as launching pad for the denigration of the country that has made the greatest effort in the world to save lives by sending tens of thousands of its selfless health workers to cooperate in more than 100 countries. The Revolution that did not hesitate for one second to offer its doctors to come to the aid of U.S. citizens in New Orleans and other southern cities in the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina; the Revolution that has provided higher education to young people unable to graduate in their own nations, a number of them from the United States itself; the Revolution that has placed at international disposal an innovative literacy method that has made it possible for millions of people in various countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Oceania to have access to the sacred human right of education and knowledge.

The Cuban Revolution has consistently acted on the basis of ethical, political and moral principles, following the teachings of Fidel. Respect for human beings is the essence of our system and has been one of the keys to the popular support the process has enjoyed since the heroic days of the Sierra Maestra, when the lives of enemy prisoners were always respected.

Despite the empire’s unvarying policy of hostility and constant aggression, ranging from armed invasion, terrorist acts of sabotage and attempts on the lives of Fidel and our leaders, to the promotion of subversion and a genocidal economic, commercial and financial blockade that has been in place for 50 years, the Revolution has never murdered, tortured or made disappear even one of its enemies.

Can the governments of the United States and the European countries that are shouting their heads off criticizing Cuba and condemning it, as if they were vestal virgins, say the same thing about themselves? What can they say about the million people dead in Iraq and the tens of thousands of victims in Afghanistan as a consequence of the illegal wars waged there? How can they explain the secret prisons and the torture of alleged terrorists? What is the legal basis for the selective assassinations that the United States has perpetrated against its enemies in various parts of the world with Special Forces headed during this period by the very same general who is now commanding the troops in Afghanistan? How can they justify the death in the last five years of more than one hundred immigrants who were in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

What human right sustains the brutal beating of representatives of social movements protesting during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, or Californian students demanding a larger budget for and less expensive education? Who is supervising the humiliating treatment meted out to immigrants in hundreds of detention centers scattered throughout Europe? Have the U.S. Congress or the European Parliament and the right-wing parties of Europe, so concerned today about Cuba, responded with alarm to, denounced and condemned these scandalous violations of human rights?

What is really upsetting them is the moral fortitude of the Revolution, its fidelity to principles, its growing prestige in our region, where it has become an important player in promoting the integration process; its intelligent and serene response in confronting the harsh consequences of the international economic crisis and the blockade; and its clarity in terms of having to change what has to be changed in pursuit of attaining full justice for our people, as we have been asked by Fidel and Raúl.

Those are the reasons that have led the empire and its European allies to be drawing up plans, coordinating the work of their special services, sending their diplomats onto the streets to monitor the work of their paid agents on the island, and increasing funds for subversion in Cuba. USAID alone has a budget of $20 million this year to supply counterrevolutionary grouplets and finance the media attack on Cuba.

They are currently focusing their cynical campaign on another hunger striker – whose common crimes and counterrevolutionary acts were exposed in Granma on March 8 – and who is being provided all the qualified medical treatment he requires.

They are internationalizing his show while maintaining a cynical silence concerning his cruelty and criminal record, his attacks and the death threats to a doctor, the director of the hospital where he worked, and his attack on a defenseless elderly man who had to undergo emergency surgery as a result of the injuries he received.

They are likewise kicking up a fuss around the self-proclaimed Damas de Blanco (Women in White), who are lending themselves to the enemy’s game while supporting themselves with dollars stained with Cuban blood, supplied, among others, by terrorist Santiago Alvarez Fernández Magriá, who planned to blow up the Tropicana Cabaret and is the Miami benefactor of Luis Posada Carriles. So it is not surprising that the mastermind behind the sabotage of a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane and other execrable acts should have come out a few days ago in Miami to show his support for these “damas,” whose only sanction to date has been the overwhelming and energetic repudiation of our people in the streets.

Receiving money from a terrorist organization is a felony that is severely punishable in the United States. So is acting in the service of a foreign power. The crimes of the so-called “dissidents” have nothing to do with freedom of expression, but are related to paid collaboration with the enemy superpower in its conspiracies against our nation. It has been demonstrated that all of them have been direct or indirect recipients of funds from the U.S. government and more than a few European foundations collaborating with the policy of war on Cuba.

What would happen to these “dissidents” if they were to act in the country of their masters in the same way as they are doing in Cuba? The U.S. Penal Code sets out a sentence of 20 years for those who advocate the overthrow of the government or the established order; 10 years for people who make false statements with the aim of threatening national interests in relation to another nation, and three years for those who maintain “correspondence or relations with a foreign government” with the intention of influencing its conduct in relation to a conflict or controversy with the United States.”

The enemy is using all its weapons of pressure. It is using political coercion and ordering the media annihilation of those wishing to show their solidarity with Cuba. It is attempting to silence any voice that disagrees with its dictates. It has even forgotten the much-trumpeted “freedom of expression” by obliging Google to close the blog of a Cuban intellectual who has exposed with irrefutable arguments the real political purposes behind the campaign against our homeland.

Nothing surprises us. These are the same perverse methods that were put into practice 50 years ago when President Eisenhower approved a Covert Action Plan against Cuba.

As comrade Raúl stated recently during the closing session of the 9th UJC Congress:

“More than half a century of permanent combat has taught our people that hesitation is synonymous with defeat.  

We will never yield to blackmail from any country or group of countries, no matter how powerful they might be, and regardless of the consequences. We have the right to defend ourselves. Let them known that if they try to corner us, we will defend ourselves, first of all with truth and principles… Our history is rich in such examples!”

We will make battle with our ideas, in our streets and in all international scenarios.

This May Day, they shall receive an overwhelming and unequivocal response of support for the Revolution from our nation and its workers!

We shall defend the truth with our ethics and our principles!

April 8, 2010

 Letter to Fidel from Cape Verdean Doctors Graduated in Cuba

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz,

Dear Commander in Chief:

At the end of last year, Cape Verde suffered a severe Dengue epidemic that affected thousands of people and left six dead. In a short span of time, the hospital infrastructure proved insufficient and there were not enough medical personnel for all the patients arriving daily at hospitals and health centers in search of medical care. It was then that we, a group of doctors who had graduated from the ELAM [Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine] saw the opportunity to make your dream come true in establishing the ELAM. We quickly placed ourselves at the disposal of our Ministry of Public Health and left for our country to help our people who badly needed it.

It was a marvelous and rewarding experience. Distributed throughout the three islands most affected by the epidemic alongside other comrades who had graduated in Cuba some years before, we daily walked for kilometers to provide medical treatment, visit homes, organizing and taking part in voluntary work with the people to eradicate mosquito sources, and we gave lectures and training to Red Cross technicians and university students in the country.

We have now returned to this, our second homeland, which has welcomed us as its true children, having fulfilled our mission, and with the aim of completing our post-graduate studies in various medical specialties. We would like to thank you because, thanks to you and the training we received here in Cuba, we were able to serve our people with a great humaneness. Thanks to you, we became doctors with scientific knowledge and awareness, doctors committed to our people. We mirror today what the Cuban Revolution does for the poorest of the world. The ELAM is today a reality in every one of us.

Sincerely,

Ivan Leao Martins Silva Miranda
Representative of the Cape Verde Doctors
Medical Brigade 

Cape Verdean Medical Graduates of ELAM

Ivan Leao Martins Silva Miranda
Lucio Miranda Fernandes
Mario Antunes Mendoca Frederico
Solange Andrade Gomes
Isabel Adir Alves Tavares
Yaqueline Varela Soares de Carvalho
Neusa Alfreda Soares de Carvalho
Suzete Claudia Ramos
Lidiana dos Reis Pimentel
Iracema Lima Lopes
Catarina Ramos Mendes Moreno
Benvinda Miranda Reis
Andrade Fernades Aquino

Important and recomended reading !

April 7, 2010

 

CUBA RISING

An American insider’s perspective

by Jonathan Showe

ed. Global Insights Press, Carmel, USA, 2010

I’ve only been to Cuba only 20 times in 15 years. The writer paid the island more than 70 visits in 12 years. So he made more observations and with his international experience and working decades for the US-government his approach of Cuba, not just as an island like others, is one of a

‘ croniqueur ‘ as well as a passionate observer and storyteller.

As a matter of fact I don’t agree with all of his interpretations but I may say that it is one of the best books I ever read about Cuba, especially because he’s a US-citizen. I say this because we Europeans lost Cuba to them and only since the last 50 years it belongs to the Cubans.

Although influenced by US-media some of us are capable to observe Cuba as a sovereign state that is making his own history now. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds and that’s where Showe did a great job trying to understand and explain what is happening over-there and why it’s so special and difficult to understand : “ Cuba is not just a state, it’s a state of mind “ as he writes so beautifully.

The more you study on Cuba the more it seems impossible to demystify.

But Stowe makes it look so easy, amusing, hurting, laughable, interesting, fascinating and enjoyable at the same time. This doesn’t make sense you shall say, well that’s all it is about in Cuba, the state of mind is a state of contradictions. This book reveals all these impressions, impossible to be objective, a headache for anthropologists.

Fascinating is all you can say, economically poor, culturally rich, historically important.

Interested or not you’ll read this book as a novel.

( Paul Evrard, Belgian independent journalist )


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