Archive for November, 2010

Final Declaration of the 6th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five and against Terrorism

November 27, 2010

 

 Saturday, 20 November 2010

The colloquiums held in Holguin in the last six years have underscored the importance attached to this colossal injustice against the Five and the growing solidarity displayed by thousands of supportive friends with their case. Altogether, the convictions handed down against our Five Brothers amount to two life sentences and 99 years of imprisonment. The legal recourses are running out. Multiple visas have not been issued to their family members and humanitarian visas have not been given to Olga and Adriana. While the Five are being held in unfair incarceration, a notorious international terrorist, Orlando Bosch Avila, is being recognized by universities in Miami, and Luis Posada Carriles will be prosecuted only because he lied to the US immigration authorities, and not for his terrorist actions and his responsibility for the death of thousands of innocent people. The recent statements made by international terrorist Francisco Chavez Abarca, who was the right hand of Luis Posada Carriles and was arrested in Venezuela last July 1st and subsequently extradited to Cuba, reveal the plans plotted with absolute impunity from the US against Cuba, Venezuela and other countries in the region. The absence of response to a request made by the Venezuelan Government five years ago for extradition of criminal Luis Posada Carriles and the refusal to extradite Roberto Guillermo Bravo to Argentina as the perpetrator of the killing of 16 political prisoners show the real face of the US government and its lack of morality to champion human rights and to claim a fight against terror. The US government has kept the Five in unjust incarceration for over twelve years, while the terrorists are freely walking the streets of Miami. The case of the Five is absolutely political and only the international solidarity will secure their return home to their families. We are aware of the urgency of this moment. Therefore, it is critical that our efforts are intensified in the last two years of the first term of office of the Obama administration. We must work more united than ever and our actions must be multiplied among the thousands of hands that are being raised as a single fist composed of the more than 300 solidarity committees for the release of the Five, which operate in 111 countries.

The more than 300 delegates from 52 countries attending the 6th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five and against Terrorism have made the following calls:

 1. The lobby actions with parliamentarians, unionists, religious groups, personalities and social movements must be expanded to include their peers in the US. Requests must be made for statements by the European, Central American and Latin American parliaments. The motions, resolutions and other documents adopted by parliaments must be utilized.

 2. The report on the Five that was recently issued by Amnesty International must be used as reference at every desirable opportunity; in particular, copies of this report must be circulated to members of the US administration. The same applies to the decision made by the UN Group on Arbitrary Detentions.

3. International days of solidarity with the Five must continue to be organized for the period between September 12 (day of their arrest) and October 8th, with special regard paid to October 6th that was declared by Cuba as the Day of the Victims of Terrorism and June 8th as date when the Five were unjustly convicted as guilty.

4. New forms of communications must be designed to make sure that the truth reaches everyone and the case of the Five must be reported to the wide spectrum of the social sectors.

5. An international conference must be organized in Washington DC attended by American personalities, as well as representatives of other countries, to require President Obama the following: • Exercise his executive prerogatives and release the Five; • End the genocidal blockade against Cuba; and • Respect the will of the peoples around the world

6. Multiple visas must be demanded in favor of the family members; in particular, Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez. Appeals must be lodged with the International Commission on the Right of Family Visitation and with Ms. Michelle Obama as a woman and as a mother. The initiatives and actions of the solidarity committees must be further encouraged.

7. Artists, personalities and opinion leaders must be encouraged to demand the release of the Five and their comments must be disseminated through the printed press, radio, television and the alternative media. Posters, postcards, telephone calls, printed materials, video presentations must be generated locally, nationally and internationally. A renowned songwriter must be identified for his readiness to write a song about the Five and singers from different parts of the world must be invited to play that song jointly.

 8. Conferences with focus on the case of the Five must be organized in US and other universities with the attendance of recognized legal scholars.

9. Cubainformacion news service must be kept informed of the initiatives being implemented for mutual support in campaign operations.

10. The use of social networks; including but not limited to twitter, facebook, blogs, emails, community radio stations, TV stations and the Internet, must be intensified.

11. Demonstrations, concerts, theater plays, exhibitions and contests in denunciation of the case and solidarity with the Five must be organized in every possible cultural space. Sport events, such as marathons, as well as baseball and soccer matches, must be encouraged.

12. The US government must be denounced for its impunity and the double standard of its claim of fight against terror, while it harbors and protects international terrorists, such as Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch Avila. An end to impunity, the dismantle of Miami-based terror organizations, and the prosecution and punishment of the murderers of our people must be demanded.

13. The documentary film, “Cuba’s Reasons,” which features statements by international terrorist Francisco Chavez Abarca, must be made available as denunciation of the forms of terrorism against Cuba and our peoples.

14. The artworks on the Five, now available in electronic format, must be relied upon for their widespread circulation in different countries.

15. A call must be made on the forthcoming World Festival of Youth and Students, scheduled to be held in South Africa, to support the universal request to President Obama to release the Five Cuban Heroes immediately and unconditionally. End the injustice! Free the Five now! Holguin, Cuba November 20, 2010 Year 52nd of the Revolution

— – INFOCUBA + Comité Internacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

http://cubaveritas.blogspot.com/, https://realcuba.wordpress.com/,

 evrardpaul5@gmail.com,  t +32-16-26.15.52 ( casa) cel +32.497.694.911 en cuba +53-5-340.4430 http://www.thecuban5.org/, http://www.antiterroristas.cu/, http://www.freethefive.org,

Haiti and Cuba

November 27, 2010

The Haitian President Thanks Fidel and the Cuban People

HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 26 (acn) Rene Preval, President of Haiti, thanked on Friday the Cuban people and Commander in Chief Fidel Castro for the help given in the face of the cholera epidemic his country is going through. The head of state met with Cuban ambassador Ricardo Garcia and Deputy Health Minister and Coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade in that nation, Dr. Lorenzo Somarriba, who went into greater detail on the work of the island’s health professionals. According to a report by Cuban television special correspondents, Preval took a lot of interest in the information. He called part of his executives and executives from tje Heath and Population Ministry to devise the governmental strategy in the struggle against cholera and coordinate actions among all the humanitarian organizations represented in Haiti. The strategy –expressed the head of state- is to strengthen work in the capital, where one million and a half people still live in poor refugee camps after the earthquake that devastated the city in January. Over the next few days, Cuba will open, in areas near the city of Port-au-Price, the new centers to treat cholera patients, in coordination with Brazil and the Pan-American Health Organization. Regional and non-governmental organizations cooperating with Haiti also met at the provisional seat of the government to coordinate actions.

 REFLEXION DEL COMPAÑERO FIDEL

 Haití: el subdesarrollo y el genocidio

http://www.cubadebate.cu/reflexiones-fidel/2010/11/27/haiti-el-subdesarrollo-y-el-genocidio/,

 Diversos funcionarios de Naciones Unidas lamentaron en los últimos días que la respuesta de la comunidad internacional al pedido de ayuda hecho para enfrentar la situación no llegaba al 10% de los 164 millones de dólares solicitados con urgencia. Casi el 40% de los enfermos han sido atendidos por los integrantes de la Brigada Médica Cubana, que cuenta con 965 médicos, enfermeros y técnicos que han logrado reducir el número de muertes a menos de 1 por cada 100. Con ese nivel de atención el número de bajas no alcanzaría la cifra de 700. Las personas fallecidas, como norma, estaban extremadamente debilitadas por desnutrición o causas similares. Los niños detectados a tiempo, apenas fallecen. ……………….

— – INFOCUBA + Comité Internacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

evrardpaul5@gmail.com,

http://cubaveritas.blogspot.com/, https://realcuba.wordpress.com/, paul evrard t +32-16-26.15.52 ( casa) cel +32.497.694.911 en cuba +53-5-340.4430 http://www.thecuban5.org/, http://www.antiterroristas.cu/, http://www.freethefive.org, http://www.cubadebate.c

Upcoming International Colloquium on the Cuban Five

November 13, 2010

 The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) announced on Friday in this capital that the 6th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five Cuban Heroes and against Terrorism will be held from November 18th through the 21st.
  At the ICAP, Basilio Gutierrez, vice-president of that organization, told the press that, this year, the meeting, which will have the eastern Cuban city of Holguin as its venue, will bring together 335 delegates from 56 nations.
   The colloquium is a meeting of the activists that have contributed to build the great building the international campaign for the release of the five Cuban antiterrorists is today, pointed out Gutierrez.
  He specified that this year the visit of the First Brigade of Struggle against Media Terrorism will coincide with the Colloquium, aimed at channeling the work of support for the island into the struggle against anti-Cuban campaigns. He added that this group, made up by 70 people from the United States, Latin America and Europe, will carry out a program of activities after the end of the Colloquium.
  After informing that the US delegation to the Holguin meeting will be the largest of all, he stressed that this is of great importance for the movement of solidarity for the release of The Five. We shouldn’t forget, he pointed out, that it’s precisely in the United States where The Five are incarcerated.
  Although our current efforts for their release are focused on the political aspect, we have to make good use of the few legal opportunities we have left for the battle, he said in reference to the participation of jurists in the 6th Colloquium.
  Among persons who have confirmed their presence in the meeting so far we find Justino Di Celmo, father of Fabio, the Italian tourist who died as a consequence of a terrorist act at the Copacabana Hotel in 1997; Gloria La Riva, coordinator in the United States of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, and other international personalities.
  Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero, are serving unjust sentences in the United States after a biased trial held 12 years ago, for monitoring the activities of Florida-based Cuban-American terrorist organizations.

Washington increases Clandestine Ops against Venezuela

November 13, 2010

By Eva Golinger 

http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/11/washington-increases-clandestine-ops.html

Millions of dollars are being channeled to opposition groups in Venezuela via USAID, while the Pentagon has established a new PSYOP program directed at Venezuela, including a “5-day a week television program in Spanish broadcast in Venezuela” during 2011
The 2010 annual report of the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), a division of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), regarding its operations in Venezuela, evidences that at least $9.29 million USD was invested this year in efforts to “support US foreign policy objectives…and promote democracy” in the South American nation.
This amount represents an increase of almost $2 million over last year’s $7.45 million distributed through this office to fund anti-Chávez political activities in the country.
The OTI is a department of USAID dedicated to “supporting US foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance democracy in priority countries in crisis. OTI works on the ground to provide, fast, flexible short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs”.
Although OTI is traditionally used as a “short-term” strategy to filter millions of dollars in liquid funds to political groups and activities that promote US agenda in strategically important nations, the case of Venezuela has been different. OTI opened its office in 2002, right after the failed coup d’etat against President Hugo Chavez – backed by Washington – and has remained ever since. The OTI in Venezuela is the longest standing office of this type in USAID’s history.
OTI’S CLANDESTINE OPS
In a confidencial memo dated January 22, 2002, Russell Porter, head of OTI, revealed how and why USAID set up shop in Venezuela. “OTI was asked to consider a program in Venezuela by the State Department’s Office of Andean Affairs on January 4…OTI was asked if it could offer programs and assistance in order to strengthen the democratic elements that are under increasing fire from the Chavez government”.
Porter visited Venezuela on January 18, 2002 and then commented, “For democracy to have any chance of being preserved, immediate support is needed for independent media and the civil society sector…One of the large weaknesses in Venezuela is the lack of a vibrant civil society…The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has a $900,000 program in Venezuela that works with NDI, IRI and the Solidarity Center to strengthen political parties and the Unions…This program is useful, but not nearly sufficient. It is not flexible enough, nor does it work with enough new or non-traditional groups. It also lacks a media component”.
Since then OTI has been present in Venezuela, channeling millions of dollars each year to feed the political conflict in the country.
According to the 2010 annual report, OTI is now operating “out of the US Embassy and is part of a larger US diplomatic effort to promote democracy in Venezuela”.
The principal investment of the $9.29 million in US taxpayer dollars in 2010 went to the opposition’s campaign for the legislative elections, held last September 26 in Venezuela. “USAID works with several implementing partners drawn from the spectrum of civil society…offering technical assistance to political parties…and supporting efforts to strengthen civil society”.
In Venezuela, it’s widely known that the term “civil society” refers to the anti-Chavez opposition.
A SECRET FLOW OF FUNDS
Despite revealing its overall budget, the actual flow of funds from USAID/OTI to groups in Venezuela remains secret.
When OTI opened its offices in 2002, it contracted a private US company, Development Alternatives Inc (DAI), one of the State Department’s largest contractors worldwide.
DAI ran an office out of El Rosal the Wall Street of Caracas distributing millions of dollars annually in “small grants of no more than $100,000” to hundreds of mainly unknown Venezuelan “organizations”.
>From 2002 to 2010, more than 600 of these “small grants” were channeled out of DAI’s office to anti-Chavez groups, journalists and private, opposition media campaigns.In December 2009, DAI began to have severe problems with its operations in Afghanistan, when five of its employees were killed by alleged Taliban militants during an attack on their office December 15 in Gardez. Just days earlier, another DAI “employee”, Alan Gross, had been detained in Cuba and accused of subversion for illegally distributing advanced satellite equipment to dissidents.
When an article written by this author titled “CIA Agents assassinated in Afghanistan worked for “contractor” active in Venezuela, Cuba”, published December 30, 2009 on the web, evidenced the link between DAI’s operations in Afghanistan, Cuba and Venezuela, and their suspicious nature, the CEO of DAI, Jim Boomgard, was alarmed.
Days later, he attempted to coerce me into a private meeting in Washington to “discuss” my article. When I refused, he threatened me by claiming that my writing was “placing all DAI employees worldwide in danger”. In other words, if anything happened to DAI employees, I would be personalIy responsible.
But Boomgard, who claimed little knowledge of his company’s operations in Venezuela, understood that what DAI was doing in Venezuela was nowhere near as important (to his company) as what DAI was doing in Afghanistan and other countries in conflict. Weeks later, DAI abruptly closed its office in Caracas.
Nonetheless, OTI continues its operations in Venezuela, and although it has other US “partners” managing a portion of its annual multimillion-dollar budget, such as IRI, NDI, Freedom House and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), there is zero transparency regarding funding to Venezuelan groups.
A report published in May 2010 by the Spanish think tank FRIDE assessing “democracy assistance” to Venezuela revealed that a significant part of the more than $50 million annually in political funding from international agencies to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela was entering illicitly.
According to the report, in order to avoid Venezuela’s strict “currency control laws”, US and European agencies bring the monies in dollars or euros into the country and then change them on the black market to increase value. This method also avoids leaving a financial record or trace of the funds coming in to illegally finance political activities.
If DAI is no longer operating in Venezuela and distributing “small grants” to Venezuelan groups, then how are USAID’s multimillion-dollar funds reaching their recipients?
According to USAID, they now operate from the US Embassy. Is the US Embassy illegally dishing out funds directly to Venezuelans?
OTI’s 2010 report also reveals the agency’s ongoing intentions to continue supporting and funding Venezuelan counterparts.
In the section marked “Upcoming Events”, OTI makes clear where energies will be directed, “December 2012 Presidential elections”.
PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS
USAID isn’t the only US agency intervening in Venezuela’s affairs. In the Pentagon’s 2011 budget, a new request for a “psychological operations program” for the Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), which coordinates all US military missions in Latin America, is included. Specifically, the request refers to the establishment of a “PSYOP voice program for USSOUTHCOM”. PYSOP are, “planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals. The execution of PSYOP includes conducting research on various foreign audiences; developing, producing and disseminating products to influence these audiences; and conducting evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the PSYOP activities. These activities may include the management of various websites and monitoring print and electronic media”. Or, as the 2011 request indicates, running a radio or audio program into a foreign nation to promote US agenda.
USSOUTHCOM’s new PSYOP program in Latin America will complement a new State Department initiative run out of the Board of Broadcasting Governors (BBG), which manages US propaganda worldwide. BBG’s whopping 2011 budget of $768.8 million includes “a 30-minute, five-day-a-week VOA [Voice of America] Spanish television program for Venezuela”.
This increase in PSYOP and pro-US propaganda directed at Venezuela evidences an escalation in US aggression towards the region.And the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is still running a special intelligence “mission” on Venezuela and Cuba, set up in 2006. Only four of these country-specific “mission management teams” exist: Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan/Pakistan, and Venezuela/Cuba. These “missions” receive an important part of DNI’s $80 billion annual budget and operate in complete secrecy.

World Peace Council: Freedom for the Cuban Five

November 11, 2010

Solidarity and Freedom for the Cuban Five
 
The World Peace Council (WPC) is initiating a campaign in solidarity with the just cause of the liberation of the Cuban Five political prisoners who have been unjustly punished and are being held in US prisons.
We call upon all peace loving organizations and forces in the world to rally around the WPC campaign under the slogan: ³Solidarity with Socialist Cuba-Free the Cuban Five² and carry out actions in support of their liberation.
More than twelve (12) years of injustice have passed for those Cuban Five, for their families, for their wives and their children in inalienable violation of their human rights, evidence of the imperialist double standards USA government¹s policy fomenting state terrorism towards third countries and particularly against Cuba.
The USA Supreme Court¹s shamelessness of rejecting the petition of the Cuban Five and particularly of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, -condemned to two life imprisonments, plus 15 years which have been denounced as a violation by the Arbitrary Detentions¹ Commission of Human Rights Council of the United Nations, shows what is the real political motivation: the US government¹s policy towards the Cuban Revolution.
We call on you to reverse this difficult situation for these human lives- the US government has banned the visits by their wives and daughter to two of the prisoners- and confront the hostile media manipulation in the USA which has contributed to their unjust convictions.
We call upon you to exercise pressure on the US government through petitions and publications, events and protests demand from it the unconditional release of the Cuban Five. Their imprisonment constitutes, amongst other things, an act of political revenge of the USA towards Cuba and its Revolution, which we vehemently reject.
We call upon you to denounce the ³Common Position² of the European Union by which it is flagrantly interfering in the Cuban domestic affairs and are complicit with the activities of the USA.
This WPC campaign will be also an opportunity to show to the world the achievements and sacrifices of the Cuban society, for more than 50 years under Blockade and the contribution of Cuba for the peoples in the world, including in the USA. It will be a service to the defense of truth and in solidarity with the struggling people of Cuba and its national sovereignty and independence.
Your solidarity contribution will be highly appreciated in your help to disseminate and to discuss this truth. This campaign will culminate in May 2011 with the holding of an International Conference in the Cuban Province Guantanamo, which will confront the US presence and abuse of the Military Base and its attached concentration camp.
 
Cuba is not alone!
Long live the anti-imperialist Solidarity!
Free the Cuban Five!
 
World Peace Council November 2010

Spanish painter’s Solidarity with the Cuban Five Appreciated

November 11, 2010

Spain, Nov 10 (acn) Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez, wives of Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, two of the five Cuban antiterrorists incarcerated in the United States for 12 years now, thanked Spanish fine arts creator Paco Bernal on Wednesday for his solidarity.
 In Madrid, Salanueva and Perez highlighted the gesture of the painter, suffering from Down’s syndrome, who once again put his works at the service of the struggle for the release of Rene,Gerardo, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, unfairly imprisoned since 1998.
 They expressed their gratitude to Bernal during a meeting held in the Cuban mission in the Spanish capital, as a conclusion of their visit to obtain support for the cause of these fighters, incarcerated for warning their country against violent actions by anti-Cuban organizations.
 During the meeting, the artist gave Olga and Adriana copies of his calendar for 2011, which includes four sketches dedicated to The Five, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.
  This is the second time that Bernal (born in 1963), by way of his drawings, expresses his support for the cause of the Cuban antiterrorists.
  In 2004, the painter, a member of the Camilo Cienfuegos Marina Alta Association of Friendship with Cuba, from Alicante, ceded some of his pieces to illustrate a 2005 calendar dedicated to The Five, which he identifies as his friends.
  Rosa Bernal, his sister, read a letter sent by Rene, in which he defines Paco as a brother.
  This calendar is a work of love, which shows that beauty is not neuter, and that it shines even more when it comes from the hand of sensibility, points out the message.
  While summarizing their trip to Spain, during which they visited the Basque Country and the Canary Islands, Olga and Adriana expressed their satisfaction to corroborate that, in spite of the wall of silence imposed by the mainstream media around the case of The Five, the truth is increasingly making its way.
  Cuba’s ambassador to Spain, Alejandro Gonzalez, asserted that the battle of The Five is a political battle.

Cubans to Debate Social and Economic Policy Project

November 11, 2010

The policy project has produced a document entitled “Economic and Social Policy Project” that has been published as a pamphlet, available to the population for sale at post offices and news stands across the country. The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba will take place in the second half of April, 2011, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) victory and the declaration of the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution

http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/file/pdf/suplementos/proyecto-de-lineamientos.pdf,

During the closing of the Fifth Ordinary Session of the Cuban National Assembly on August 1, 2010, President Raúl Castro spoke about the progress of the studies undertaken by the Economic Policy Commission of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, the results of which were to be discussed by Party members and the population in its entirety.
The work has been developing over a period of several months with the creation of the Economic Policy Commission headed by President Raúl Castro with Julio Casas Regueiro serving as vice president and Minister of the Economy and Planning Marino Murillo Jorge serving as coordinator.
To complete the commission’s work of defining the direction to be taken in economic and social policy, working groups were formed, headed by members of the Political Bureau, vice presidents of the Council of Ministers, as well as other Party and government leaders from the relevant areas.
The working groups focused on the following topics: the economic management model; macro-economic policies (monetary, exchange, fiscal, pricing); foreign economic policy; investment policy; social policy; agricultural industry policy; policies for other sectors (tourism, transportation, construction, retail sales); science and technology; and a study of the country’s system of two currencies. A working group was also formed to study the regulations and legal procedures related to changes in the economic model.
A number of other officials from departments of the Central Committee and specialists from other bodies and research institutions also participated.
As a result of the Commission’s work, a document entitled “Economic and Social Policy Project” was drafted and will be discussed with all Party members, workers and the general population, in order to gather and take into account their opinions. It will subsequently be submitted to the Sixth Congress for approval.
The document has been published as a pamphlet, available to the population for sale at post offices and news stands across the country.
The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba will take place in the second half of April, 2011, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) victory and the declaration of the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution.

Haiti’s Unnatural Disasters

November 9, 2010

 

How the International Community Failed Haiti

By ANNIE GELL

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

As hurricane Tomas unleashed its wrath on Haiti, hundreds of thousands of Haitians endured the storm under flimsy tents, tarps and bed sheets located in flood plains and perched on mudslide-prone slopes. Many Haitians lost what little they have left in the world in a completely foreseeable disaster.

Since the earthquake of January 12, there has been a lot of talk in the media about “disaster-prone Haiti” and the “ill-fated Haitian people.” First there was the worst earthquake in Haiti’s history, killing an estimated 300,000 people, seriously injuring even more, and destroying much of Haiti’s capital. Just last month, cholera broke out north of Port-au-Prince. According to official numbers, the body count is over 500, the number of people infected is over 7,000, and these numbers are certain to rise. And last Friday, Hurricane Tomas assailed Haiti with major flooding, mudslides, and winds.

One might lament mother nature’s seeming obsession with inflicting suffering on the Haitian people. This reaction, however, obscures the fact that while the events themselves might be natural, the devastating effects are anything but. Haiti’s extreme vulnerability to environmental stresses directly stems from policies implemented by the Haitian Government and the international community, both before and after the earthquake of January 12.

International aid, trade, debt and governance policies over many decades made Haiti dependent on imported food and materials, crippling the domestic economy. These policies forced Haitian farmers off their land and into the low-lying cities, and encouraged the deforestation of Haiti’s hillsides. The policies also severely curtailed the Haitian government’s ability to provide basic public services to its citizens, including healthcare, housing, and sanitation services. The result is a country and population that is acutely vulnerable to environmental stresses like earthquakes, diseases, and storms.

Hurricane Tomas and the cholera outbreak have starkly exposed the failures of the international and domestic responses to the earthquake. Almost 10 months after the earthquake, the international community has failed to provide safe, weather-resistant shelter for even a fraction of the approximately 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in tent camps. Most camps lack proper sanitation, leaving hundreds of thousands of people acutely vulnerable to disease.

Despite the generous pledges of billions of dollars in assistance by individuals and countries across the world, only a small percentage of it has reached organizations in Haiti, and only a miniscule fraction of the funds delivered has reached the Haitian people themselves. Many Haitians are living just as they were immediately after the earthquake with utterly inadequate access to sanitation, shelter, food, and clean water.

The Haitian government has not made any significant land available for emergency or transitional housing and the land it has made available is largely unacceptable. The Corail-Cesselesse camp north of Port-au-Prince was supposed to be an example of a planned and successful camp for IDPs who were relocated from dangerous areas. Yet even with hurricane season looming and the widespread knowledge that this area was flood plain and prone to high winds, the Haitian government encouraged thousands of people to set up their homes there. As Hurricane Tomas loomed, the Haitian government and the UN called for a “voluntary evacuation” of this camp and others. The tragic irony is clear: If these people had safer shelters to go to, they would have gone long ago.

Uniting all of these failures is the systematic exclusion of the vast majority of the Haitian people from all levels of decision-making. UN cluster meetings, meant to coordinate the government, NGO, and UN’s rebuilding of Haiti and in theory open to the public, are conducted either in French and English, not in Creole, the only language spoken by over 80% of Haitians. International NGOs have no accountability to the Haitian people. And the Haitian government is completely absent from the lives of Haitians except for ubiquitous campaign posters. The upcoming elections on November 28 promise to not alter this pattern in the least: turnout is expected to be extremely low due to the exclusion of popular parties and a widespread lack of faith in the government.

The Haitian people will continue to disproportionately suffer from natural and unnatural disasters until the policies and practices that make the country particularly vulnerable to environmental stresses are changed. These much needed changes will unfortunately not occur via the upcoming elections. Rather they will only happen by empowering the disenfranchised majority of the Haitian people to take control of their country. The international community and Haitian government must privilege the voices of the Haitian people and allow true democratic participation at all levels to drive the rebuilding Haiti. It is the deliberate choices of the Haitian elite and international community, not mother nature, that has failed Haiti.

Annie Gell is an attorney and a Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network (LERN) Fellow with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), a human rights law firm located in Port-au-Prince.

How the International Community Failed Haiti

Raul Castro Announces Communist Party Congress for April 2011

November 9, 2010

(acn) Cuban President Raul Castro announced this Monday that the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party (PCC) will be held in the second fortnight of April 2011.
Raul spoke at the central ceremony, attended by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on the occasion of the 10 anniversary of the signing of the Cuba-Venezuela Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement.
The greatest event of the Cuban communists will be held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory of Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) and the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution.
The Cuban president said the Congress will focus on the solutions to the economic problems, the updating of the Cuban socialist model, and will set the guidelines for the economic and social lives of the PCC and the Revolution.
It will be a Congress of all the militants and all the people which will participate in the main decisions of the Revolution, he said.
The project of the guidelines for the economic policy, to be discussed in the PCC Congress, will be debated in seminars for the party cadres starting in the second fortnight of this month.
Raul added that starting December 1 through February 28, the project will be discussed in all the Party grassroots organizations and among the population and workers.
He stressed that the economic battle is today, more than ever, the main task and the center of the ideological work of the cadres, because the system´s preservation depends on it.
Cuba will give priority to its participation in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which requires coordination and economic complementation in short, medium and long terms to achieve its goals.
The Cuban president said Cuba and Venezuela are heading to the economic union under a new kind of relationships that will enable rationality in the joint projects and which is an important step towards the true independence.
This relation has been strengthened in the last 10 years and will continue doing it, taking into account the strategic planning of both countries, he said.
Raul announced that the first copy of the project of the guidelines for the economic policy was given to Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro and the second to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Chávez: updating socialism, the shared perspective of our peoples

November 9, 2010

• Special appearance by Venezuelan president on Cuban Television on the 10th anniversary of the Integral Cooperation Agreement between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Cuba

—Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver and Pedro de la Hoz
THE experience of half a century of radical transformations in Cuba and the decade which has passed since the electoral ascent of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela have led to an updating of socialist ideas as the sole and inescapable response to the expectations of the peoples of these two countries and the rest of our America.
With that affirmation, President Hugo Chávez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ended his special appearance on Cuban Television, in the context of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Integral Cooperation Agreement between the two states.
Fidel and Chávez signed that highly significant agreement in Caracas on October 30, 2000, in an act that has provided a model for cooperation among Latin American nations.
“Ten years later, in the context of health alone, Cuba has helped us to install 6,712 doctors’ offices for the people, when previously medical attention had become a luxury in the country,” Chávez noted.
With a copy of that founding agreement in his hand, the Venezuela head of state recalled the context in which it was signed, at a time when the new Bolivarian Republic had not yet reached one year of existence. “It was a babe and we were in the year 2000.”
He said that that was October 30. “It was in those days that I struck out Fidel (baseball), although the referee did say it was a high ball, we’re never going to agree about that,” he joked.
Chávez affirmed that those days during Fidel’s fifth visit to Venezuela were unforgettable.
Recalling the Cuban leader’s visits to the land of Simón Bolívar, he noted that the first was in 1948, before he was born.
He added that at that time there was a nationalist government in his country, that of Rómulo Gallegos, which was overthrown within a few months; “they defeated it, and he definitely came to Cuba.” Chávez noted that the first thing that Gallegos, the great writer of Doña Bárbara, Canta Claro, Pobre Negro, Sobre la misma tierra, etc. said on arriving in Havana, was “the yankis brought me down,” on account of Venezuela’s oil.
He recalled that afterwards came the Sierra Maestra, the Cuban Revolution and Fidel arrived in Caracas on January 23, 1959 and gave a memorable speech in its plaza. Among those present for the speech was the poet Pablo Neruda, who told me that he heard it all on his feet.
Chávez went on to explain that Fidel’s third visit came 30 years later, in February of 1989.
“That time he found me working in the Miraflores Palace.
“I saw with my own eyes Fidel Castro, who was moving down the long corridor leading directly to the presidential office where Carlos Andrés Pérez was; he was with Daniel Ortega, and I gave them both a military salute.”
Chávez observed that the Caracazo (uprising) and the Bolivarian Revolution began shortly afterward.
He mentioned that Fidel’s fourth visit was in 1999, the day on which “this humble soldier assumed the presidency of the Republic as part of that revolutionary process,” and that his fifth was in 2000 after the Constituent Assembly was passed and a new Constitution approved.
– ONLY CUBA WAS DEFENDING SOCIALISM
In that framework, Chávez explained, only Cuba was defending socialism, while a flame had been ignited in Venezuela, which was not as yet clear; “we hadn’t even assumed socialism as a banner nor had the revolution taken that road.
“When Fidel arrived in Caracas that October of 2009 we signed that cooperation agreement, this one here, very generous.”
He recalled that Venezuela only committed to sending supplies of crude oil and derivatives to Cuba, as noted in Article 3, to a total of 53,000 barrels, with a small amount of financing, which Venezuela did with many Central American and Caribbean countries. In those days the price of oil had to have been $20-25 per barrel.
“We said,” he emphasized, “that if a barrel was more than or equal to $15, the percentage financed was 5% of the value of the sale with a related rising scale. If a barrel was in excess of $30, then the funding was 25%. It wasn’t even a discount, it was a financing that every country, like Cuba and many others, accepted as a debt, by signing some papers to cancel it in the mid or long term. That’s how the agreement began.”
Television journalist Randy Alonso recalled that Chávez had proposed a higher figure, being generous to the Cuban Revolution given the island’s situation at that time, and Fidel asked for it to be less, as Venezuela had its own situation to confront first.
The Venezuelan president remembered his visit to Cuba in 1994 and walking through the streets of the capital, in which there were hardly any vehicles, due to the difficult economic situation that Cubans called the Special Period. “The lights came on here for two to three hours a day. The blockade was intensifying and here was that giant we have who is Fidel and this giant people resisting the blockade,” Chávez commented, in reference to the context of those harsh years following the fall of the Soviet Union, while Latin America bowed to the will of the United States.
“That coincided with my first visit to Havana in that year 1994 and we felt ourselves revolutionaries with a responsibility, and not only to Cuba. We offered these agreements to all of Central America and the Caribbean, but there was a lot of fear of getting closer to us and a lot of pressure from the United States.
“I remember that I proposed to Fidel to send close to 100,000 barrels per day to the island and Fidel said that he wouldn’t accept that: ‘Chávez, I can’t accept it in spite of the immense needs that Cuba has, because you are just beginning,’ and that was true, we had that social debt, because when I reached Miraflores there was no money to pay wages, not until two or three months later; poverty in Venezuela was at 60%, extreme poverty at close to 25%, unemployment at close to 20%.
“They were giving away oil,” he noted, “because Venezuela, acting in subordination to the interests of the empire against the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), was producing much more oil than was really needed. With that it generated very low prices.”
He added that the situation in the Venezuela of the Fixed Point Pact was terrible, with health almost totally privatized; you had to pay in the public hospitals; education privatized; a high infant mortality rate; and rampant malnourishment.
– FIRST TASK: TO CONSOLIDATE THE REVOLUTION
“Venezuela”, Chávez added, “was on the floor and Fidel, aware of that, said to me, ‘Chávez, the first thing that you have to do is to consolidate, and so Cuba cannot accept that.’”
The Venezuela president noted that they talked all night and finally reached this agreement of 53,000 barrels per day, which Cuba paid for, because there was only a portion that was financed, he emphasized.
Chávez referred to Article 4 of the Agreement and to everything that Cuba committed itself to in terms of medical services, specialists and health technicians. “And I remember that Fidel drafted one paragraph down to the last detail, this sentence, which said, ‘in places where such personnel are not available.’”
He highlighted that the island began to support Venezuela in industrial matters, as well as education, health, industry, above all the sugar industry, medicines, advice and training in tourism, agriculture and food.
The documents also established, the Venezuelan president affirmed, technical projects, postgraduate courses in Cuba, the production of biological pesticides, “and all of this has been achieved.”
In that context he explained that the first agreement to be implemented, “and I would say the most beautiful,” was that Cuba started to bring to Havana thousands and thousands of Venezuelans suffering from various ailments, something that has been maintained, totaling more than 23,000 patients with their families, on more than 300 Cubana de Aviación flights.
“And so, life, health, education, progress. What great support the Cuban people and the Revolution have given to the Bolivarian Revolution. Thank you, Cuba. I am going to paraphrase José Martí: “Give us Cuba in any way that we can serve her and she will have in us true sons and daughters,” he exclaimed.
In relation to Fidel’s warnings about the danger of nuclear war on the part of imperialism, Chávez said that after the victory of the right and extreme-right in the U.S. midterm elections, the threats are beginning against Cuba, Venezuela…
“The threats are going to continue, but I have great faith that this new world which is now in existence is going to neutralize the imperial threat. I am not taking anything away from the importance of Fidel’s warnings. I was talking to Fidel for a while last night about this, and I was saying, as Fidel said in one of his reflections, that maybe I’m mistaken,” he affirmed.
“I’ve come from the area of the Middle East and there are preparations for war there, the empire is installed there and the Iranian people are deployed in defense of their sovereignty, and many other countries are learning from others’ mistakes.”
He stated that, hopefully, a major conflict will not be unleashed which could lead us to a nuclear war, as Fidel says, as someone who has studied that issue and become an expert in the matter, a war that will provoke a nuclear winter, which will do away with life on this planet.
With his warning, Chávez noted, Fidel has helped immensely to make peoples and governments of the world aware of the problem.
As for prospects for bilateral relations, he said that next year – “I was talking about that with Raúl today” – will be 50 years since the declaration of the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution, which means looking back, looking to the present and looking to the future with a scientific eye.
“In Venezuela, we have fulfilled the first stretch, 10 years, and now we are looking toward 2010-2020 and 2020-2030.”
Chávez noted, “We have undertaken an in-depth economic, international, social, political offensive, one of review, of rectification, of ethical, moral, cultural re-impetus, which is going to mark this second decade of the Bolivarian Revolution from 2010-2020.”
The Venezuelan president affirmed that during this second decade of the Bolivarian Revolution and the sixth decade of the Cuban Revolution, “I am convinced that both our peoples and revolutions will continue mutually supporting each other; that we will continue to consolidate.”


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