Archive for October 6th, 2010

Letter to Obama by Families of the Victims of terror

October 6, 2010

Letter to President Obama by the Committee of Families of the Victims of the Cubana airliner blown-up off the coasts of Barbados

Havana, Cuba, October, 2010

Mr. Barack Obama
President of the United States of America

Mr. President,

The members of the Committee of Families of the Victims of the Cubana airliner blown-up off the coasts of Barbados, a commercial flight sabotaged in 1976 that exploded in-flight taking the lives of the 73 people on board, 57 of them Cuban, are appealing to you today because the mastermind of that crime, Luis Posada Carriles, is living in the United States where the legal authorities are reluctant to try him as the terrorist he is.
Meanwhile, Posada Carriles, the man who ordered the execution of such a horrendous violent crime, has made public statements to the media in your country where in complete disregard of life, of the US legal system and of an elementary sense of humanity he has boasted about that action, which set a precedent becoming the first terrorist action on civil aviation in the Western Hemisphere.
We had the opportunity to read your sincere and heartfelt message, of last September 11, to the American people where you said: “…we mourn today with the families of the dead. We grieve for husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and loved ones. We think of those nine years that have now passed, –of births and baptisms, weddings and graduations– where there was always an empty seat.”
That same day, at the monument built in the gardens of the Pentagon, you said referring to the victims of the terrorist actions: “…They were white and black and brown –men and women and some children made up of all races… And they were snatched from us senselessly and much too soon…”

Mr. President, the seats of our loved ones in the transcendental moments of our lives, –”births and baptisms, weddings and graduations”– have been empty for more than 34 years. Our relatives were senselessly deprived of their lives; they had a future to build and dreams to pursue but their lives and their dreams were shattered.
Last July 7, Salvadoran citizen Francisco Antonio Chávez Abarca arrived in Cuba. This man, extradited to Cuba by the authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, was the self-confessed perpetrator of terrorist actions in our country consisting in the blasting of tourist facilities. He is also responsible for recruiting Central American terrorists whose mission it was to carry out terrorist actions in Cuba. Chávez Abarca has admitted that it was Posada Carriles, in connivance with the Cuban American National Foundation, who provided them with the means, the instruction and the funds to ensure the implementation of the criminal actions that took the life of an Italian citizen: Fabio Di Celmo.
On the other hand, Mr. President, while these self-confessed terrorists live with impunity in the United States, five Cuban youths, whose mission it was to prevent the perpetration of terrorist actions in Cuba –and in the United States-against civilian aircraft and other targets, have already served twelve years of unjust and cruel incarceration in American prison centers.  The possibility to put an end to such an injustice and to pardon these men who have become a symbol of the fight on terrorism and of the loftiest values cherished by human beings is in your hands.
You have received the Nobel Peace Prize; may your actions bring peace to the souls of the noble families of Cubans whose loved ones were massacred.
We request from you that, on the basis of the proofs brought against terrorist Posada Carriles, the US authorities put on trial and condemn this murderer and that all the weight of the law is brought to bear on the true culprit of so many crimes against our people and other sister nations. If your government is not prepared to take Posada Carriles to court as a terrorist, please allow his extradition to Venezuela, a country that has every right to bring charges against him as a fugitive of that country’s legal system.
Mindful of Martin Luther King, Jr, a distinguished son of the American people, who in 1963 said “I have a dream”, we, the relatives of the victims of the Barbados Crime also have a dream: We dream of the day when justice is served and the authors of such an abominable terrorist action pay for their crimes. That day, the dreams of all humanity will be spared the nightmare of living in a world where terrorist actions go unpunished.

We demand justice!

Committee of Families of the Victims of the Cubana airliner blown-up off the coasts of Barbados

International Condemnation of the US Blockade of Cuba on the Rise

October 6, 2010

 The condemnation of the US blockade against Cuba was one of the five
most mentioned topics during the recent debates at the UN General Assembly, highlighted on
Tuesday Cuba’s representatives at the United Nations.
  A press release issued by the diplomatic mission underlined that a large number of states
criticized that absurd policy maintained by Washington against the Caribbean island.
  The text points out that all the top dignitaries that referred to this topic agreed that
the unilateral economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba lacks justification,
Prensa Latina news agency reported.
  All of them called the current US administration to immediately put an end to that
irrational policy, continues the communique.
  In addition, it underlines that these statements join the increasingly broader
international condemnation of the blockade against Cuba and the voices that around the world
and in the US itself demand its immediate and definitive lifting.
  Likewise, it highlights that expressions of appreciation towards Cuban cooperation in
various parts of the world were also heard as well as demands for the release of the five
Cuban antiterrorists imprisoned in US jails.
  Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez
were arrested in 1998 for monitoring the activities of Florida-based anti-Cuban groups, in
order to prevent the people about their criminal actions.
  The Cuban people and government are deeply grateful for these expressions of firm support
and solidarity on the part of the international community, the note of the Cuban permanent
mission at the United Nations concludes.
  The general debate of the 65th ordinary period of sessions of the top organ of the UN ended
on Wednesday, and was attended by some 150 heads of state and government, foreign ministers
and top level officials.
  On October 26, the General Assembly will vote, for the 19th year in a row, a resolution
that condemns the US blockade of Cuba.
  In 2009, 187 countries declared themselves to be against the US measure, in the highest
voting registered on this matter since 1991, with only three votes against (the United States,
Israel and Palau) and two abstentions (the Marshall Islands and Micronesia).( ain/acn-cu )

Terrorhypocrisy of USA

October 6, 2010

The “Terrorist List” and Harassment against Cuba

 Under the title “Terrorist List Guarantees Continuity of Harassment
against Cuba”, Granma newspaper published on Monday a long article that denounces that anti-
Cuban action, countersigned by the current US administration.
  After recalling that in February, 1959, the United States disapproved the granting of the
first credit that the Revolutionary Government requested, it denounces that the tactic of
subjugating Cuba by attacking its external finances was established early, as the focal point
of the economic war against the island.
  At the beginning of the 1980’s, the United States needed to accuse the island of being
other than “a satellite” of the USSR. For this reason, -recalls the article- in 1982 Ronald
Reagan included Cuba on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
  No other president after him has been brave enough to erase the island from that fallacious
document, denounces Granma, adding that it wasn’t until 1996 that it began to take advantage
of Cuba’s presence on that list to damage its finances. From that year on, the US government
successively approved three “antiterrorist” laws that allowed US citizens, supposedly victims
of terrorism, to claim in their courts from the states “responsible” for such acts.
  From 1996 to 2008, as a result of these “compensations,” Cuba was divested of 170,233,000
dollars belonging to its funds frozen since 1963 in US banks. One of the “compensations” was
of 1.7 million dollars, given in January, 2005, to the head of the Brothers to the Rescue
organization, devoted to terrorism against the island.
  Once the funds were exhausted, they moved on to financial harassment. After the events of
September 11, 2001, the United States issued the Patriot Act.  The financial persecution went
beyond all limits existing up until then.
  The current US administration of Barack Obama decided to include Cuba once again on the
famous list.
  On September 2, he signed sanctions against Cuba for another year, under the protection of
the Trading with the Enemy Act, and he himself expressed that this is “in the national
interest of the United States.” ( acn/ain-cu )

USA Made Terrorism

-By Néstor Núñez
The confessions of mercenary Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca that were
made public on Cuban television regarding his unsuccessful attempts to
destabilize Venezuela prior to the partial elections on September 26th
confirm the true existence of terrorism in the hemisphere.
Abarca was detained upon arrival to Caracas after receiving instructions
to internally destabilize Venezuela by  inciting violence and promoting
disturbances before the September 26 elections.  He was also instructed to
gather information and the state of mind of the people for future
subversive activities, including the ever going assassination attempts
against President Hugo Chavez.
What is interesting is that the mercenary deported to Cuba by Venezuelan
authorities, has been for years the assistant of terrorist Luis Posada
Carriles –in its bomb attacks against Cuban hotel installations in the
late 1990´s.
Now his task was to carry out at the orders of the extreme right wing
sectors in Miami and Washington, actions to damage the popular process in
Venezuela, country that, according to the terrorist himself in his
confessions to Cuban authorities is considered key to the island and other
progressive nations in the hemisphere.
Of course, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch in addition to US ultra
conservative individuals will continue organizing and recruiting other
criminals residing in Florida for another regional crime.
Cuba, being a prioritized victim of terrorism from these Miami based
groups, is not the only one in the hemisphere.
We cannot forget that Posada Carriles himself acted as advisor and
torturer for the Venezuelan repressive groups at the service of the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was involved in the dirty war in El
Salvador.
Posada Carriles was also closely linked to the Plan Condor, which was a
criminal entity destined to assassinate opponents of South American
military regimes in the region.
These types of crimes are still in fashion in the hemisphere, but what
Washington forgets is that their back yard no longer gives in to their
mandates and imperial hegemony.
Nothing has changed regarding aggressions and horrendous actions in this
part of the world.
Imperialist forces continue with their ideas of using terror while the
sinister figures capable of attempting brutal executions are still
protected by the White House.

Human Rights of Haiti’s 1.5 Million Internally Displaced

October 6, 2010

The Human Rights of Haiti’s 1.5 Million Internally Displaced People
 

Unstable Foundations

By MARK SCHULLER

Haiti’s 1.5 million homeless have once again become invisible. Because they are not seen or heard in mainstream media, most people assume things are improving, the problem solved.
Unfortunately they are wrong.
While it goes unseen, and therefore the U.S. Congress is not being pressured during this midterm election season to end the deadlock that is holding up 1.15 billion dollars in promised aid to Haiti, the situation remains quite urgent.
I ended my last posting – while finishing a study on the camps for 1.5 million people made homeless by Haiti’s earthquake – by asking: like the thousands who are contemplating moving back into their damaged homes, are Haiti’s 1.5 million IDPs just falling through the cracks, or is the foundation itself unsound?
Unfortunately the answer is that the foundation itself appears to be unsound.
The report based on six weeks of on-the-ground research is now finished and available online. With a team of eight students and a colleague at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, Université d’État d’Haïti, this study covers over 100 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), a random sample of one in eight of the 861 in the metropolitan area. Students conducted quantitative and qualitative surveys in three inter-related areas: conditions and services within the camps, residents’ level of understanding and involvement in the camp committees, and interviews with committee representatives. I personally visited 31 camps.
The results show that despite the billions in aid pledged to Haiti, most of the estimated 1.5 million IDPs are living in substandard conditions. For example, seven months following the earthquake, 40 percent of IDP camps did not have access to water, and 30 percent did not have toilets of any kind. An estimated 10 percent of families have a tent; the rest sleep under tarps or even bed sheets. In the midst of the hurricane season with torrential rains and heavy winds a regular occurrence, many tents are ripped beyond repair. Only a fifth of camps have education, health care, or psycho-social facilities on site.
The services provided in the camps vary quite significantly according to a range of factors. Camps in Cité Soleil have almost no services, while those in Pétion-Ville are better managed. Camps that are not on major roads or far from the city center in Croix-des-Bouquets or Carrefour have little to no services. Smaller camps, with 100 or fewer families, have demonstrably fewer services. Camps situated on private land – 71 percent of the sample – are significantly worse off than those on public land.
Despite the fact that many NGOs empower camp committees to select recipients and distribute aid – most notably food, until the government stopped general distribution in April – most official committees do not involve the population. Less than a third of people living in camps are aware of the strategy or even the name of the committees. Two-thirds of members are men, despite well-documented concerns about gender based violence. While to most NGOs managing camps or offering services these camps represent their “local participation,” it is clear that the present structure leaves much to be desired.
While many committees sprang up organically immediately following the earthquake as an expression of solidarity and unity in an effort for survival, NGOs’ relationships with them have several negative intended or unintended consequences. First of all, most NGOs did not inquire about local participation, leadership, needs deliberation, or legitimacy. As a result, in several cases, the NGOs and self-named committees excluded pre-existing grassroots organizations. Some NGOs, the government, and even the land owners themselves created these committees. This is a root of several conflicts. In the majority of cases, the camp committees – who were active in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake – report not doing anything because of lack of funds, testifying to an increasing dependency on foreign aid.
Security – including theft, gender-based violence, and forced evictions from private landowners – remains urgent. The issue of forced eviction is greater than generally acknowledged; of the initial sample, 19 of 106 – or 17 percent of camps – had been closed. Research assistants found an additional fourteen camps that were either closed or under threat of closure. This is a violation of residents’ rights as granted by international conventions. This issue is likely only to heat up given the election season and the government-imposed deadline of December to close the camps.
These failures are not isolated incidents but symptoms of larger structural problems that require immediate, sustained, profound reflection and attention. Solutions include involving IDP populations in large community meetings, assessing levels democracy and participation within committees, greater NGO accountability, coordination, and submission to a fully-funded local and national government. Housing needs to be recognized as a human right (guaranteed by Article 22 of Haiti’s constitution), with concrete, immediate steps to empower people to return to a safe home and basic services (e.g. water, sanitation, health care, and education) made available to all, regardless of residency status. All of these require the immediate release of pledged aid, the vast majority of which has failed to materialize.

It is not too late to rebuild on solid foundations. Specific policy recommendations include:
1. Donors such as the U.S. and U.N. should focus more funds and rebuilding efforts at rebuilding the capacity of the elected Haitian government, and not simply NGOs.
2. All NGOs working in Haiti need to work with the Haitian government and respect the local authorities.
3. All NGOs working in Haiti need to have an active and robust participation of impacted residents. This needs to specifically include regular, general, public, “town hall” meetings in the camps and other impacted communities.
4. NGOs should specifically encourage under-represented populations, particularly women, and pre-existing grassroots groups.
5. NGOs should assess the official committees and support those who are doing well in transitioning toward greater autonomy, offer training to mid-range groups, and engage lower-functioning groups in dialogue with the general population.
6. Provide support for education at all levels, including popular education about IDP rights.
7. Provide more security, particularly for women, including an indefinite end to forced evictions until a sufficient amount of permanent housing is available.
8. Provide services in the neighborhoods as well as the camps.
9. All parties: the Haitian government, NGOs, and donors, need to make the expedient construction of high-quality permanent housing its first priority.
10. Fully fund Haitian relief efforts.

Progress on ALL of the above is stymied by the slow delivery on promised aid.
A September 28 AP article cited that only 15 percent of promised funds have been released. Disturbingly, NONE of the promised 1.15 billion in aid from the U.S. has materialized. According to Katz, Senator Tom Coburn has blocked its passage in the Foreign Relations Committee because of a $5 million line-item that appears to duplicate the structure of the U.S. Ambassador in Haiti. Quick action must be taken to rectify this while Congress is still in session, before they break for mid-term elections.
The voting public must seize this opportunity of increased visibility during election season to push the passage of this 1.15 billion in aid. As this report and very many others like it ( for example, “Our Bodies Are Still Trembling,” “We Became Garbage to Them,” and “We Have Been Forgotten”) amply document, the crisis is far from over and the situation remains quite urgent. We should follow up our unprecedented generosity by keeping our promises to our long-standing neighbor.
It is not too late to rebuild, but we need to rebuild on solid foundations. It is possible if we act now. Our conscience should allow no less.


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