Archive for September, 2011

U.S. democracy programs in Cuba: Youth, new media are top priorities

September 30, 2011

I’ve been digging through a 777-page stack of federal financial records to try to get a better understanding of U.S. spending on democracy programs in Cuba. The chart below shows the Top 10 recipients of funds based on the financial documents I reviewed.(Download Excel file containing Top 10 data). See a chart showing additional organizations and spending here).

The documents contain details of about $85 million in spending since 1997. The total spent was about $150 million, so you can see that this isn’t a complete picture. I will revise the Top 10 list as I get better and more accurate information. As I said, this is not a complete picture – just a snapshot of spending based on incomplete information.

Some organizations don’t mention Cuba in their spending reports even though they do work in the country, making it difficult to track their expenses. And some reports make it difficult to determine if an amount is reported twice, which would dramatically inflate an organization’s reported spending.

On Thursday, I posted a partial list of organizations and democracy program spending on a Cuba Money Project page called Where the $ Goes.

A few quick observations:

  • From 2008 to 2010, Freedom Housefocused on new media, grassroots initiatives and youth empowerment in Cuba, spending some $4.5 million. 
  • The Pan American Development Foundationalso targeted youth in its democracy programs, spending about $3.3 million on youth and civil society programs from 2008 to 2009. 
  • From 2007 to 2008, the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe spent more than $1.5 million on Cuba initiatives, which I found intriguing. 

U.S. Prosecutor on Cuban Five Case Is an Anti-Cuba Activist

September 30, 2011

 (acn) U.S. Prosecutor Caroline Heck-Miller, who has
denied Cuban antiterrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez the right to return to
Cuba, is the widow of former Army intelligence officer Gene Miller, and
boasts an anticommunist and anti-Cuba background, Granma newspaper
reported Friday.

According to the editorial, Gene Miller, a fierce anticommunist, served as
an Army counterintelligence officer during the Korean War, was recruited
by the Miami Herald as an investigative reporter and gave name to the CIA
Peter Pan Operation that dragged more than 14,000 Cuban children away from
their home and their parents.

Carolina Heck’s link with Miller explains in great deal her behavior
apparently obsessive against Rene and the other four Cuban antiterrorist
fighters who have been imprisoned for 13 years in the U.S., wrote Jean-Guy
Allard, the author of the article.

This was the same Prosecutor who insisted on taking the case of the Cuban
Five to court, refused to lead the trial outside of Miami and played a key
part in the long totally outlaw sentences applied against the Cubans.

As it weren’t enough –reads the article– this woman uses her profession to
fulfill Intelligence orders, with the zeal of an agent, and was the one
who, despite requests to do so from the Department of Homeland Security,
decided not to press criminal charges in August 2005 against Luis Posada
Carriles, a confessed terrorist who has repeatedly stated that he feels no
regrets for his crimes.

Heck-Miller’s lack of ethics, impartiality and the absence of rigor
required in her profession, as well as her obsession with applying unfair
and inhumane punishments against the Cuban Five are characteristics of an
anti-Cuba activist and correspond with the CIA’s interest, Jean-Guy Allard

Thus the federal prosecutor is obsessed with the idea of kidnapping Rene
Gonzalez in the biggest terrorist sanctuary of the world, while his family
claims for his return to Cuba on October 7, the day he is expected to be

Show a Little Mercy; Free the Cuban Five! by Cindy Sheehan

September 30, 2011

Show a Little Mercy

Free the Cuban Five!

Cindy Sheehan

Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.
Robert Frost

For quite some time, I have been involved in the call to free the “Hikers,” Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, from Iranian prison. I put “Hikers” in quotation marks, because this is the term they have become known by in the media—not because I believe there was anything more nefarious in their actions. I was first contacted by Josh’s brother, and subsequently have gotten to know Shane’s mother, Cindy Hickey better—I even once had her on my radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.
I was delighted on September 21st, the day Shane and Josh, convicted of spying and given a eight year sentence, were shown the highest mercy by the country of Iran and released. I had been invited to meet with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in NYC that day, but financial circumstances prevented me from making a last minute trip from California. I wish I had been able to go to thank him personally, but while I was not in NYC, I was at my home in California basically doing a deathwatch for Troy Anthony Davis who was ultimately “lynched” by the State of Georgia for the 1989 murder of a cop that he most likely he did not commit. However, I have noticed a pattern, if a cop is killed, someone must die—it doesn’t really matter if that person is actually the one that committed the murder.
In another recent case, two Fullerton, California cops beat Kelly Thomas, a homeless and mentally ill man, (who was begging for his life and for his dad to help him) to death on the 5th of July and Kelly died five days later on the 10th—a crime that was videotaped by passersby with cell phone cameras AND a transit camera because the incident occurred at a bus station. The charges against these murderers for a heinous crime were essentially slaps on the wrist, á la Johannes Meserle, the assassin of unarmed, Oscar Grant. What is the common thread in the above cases? The state kills “Cop Killers,” and Killer Cops literally get away with their murders. Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli the murderers of Kelly Thomas, are on paid administrative leave—the taxpayers are funding their little paid vacation (with full benefits intact).
Besides the cruelty of the police state killings of Kelly Thomas and Oscar Grant and more recently a young black man, Kenneth Harding, who didn’t have evidence of paying his MUNI fare in San Francisco, the cops surely must know that their crimes will be videotaped in this age of almost universal citizen access to this technology—yet the police state still commits its crimes supremely confident in the knowledge that they will assuredly “get away” with them. That’s a bone-chilling thought!
To me, the guilt or innocence of a person is not what’s important in the issue of capital punishment—what’s important is that the use of this state murder is barbaric and needs to end. Troy Anthony Davis was not shown mercy by the State of Georgia, or by the Barbaric State of America. Kelly Thomas and Kenneth Harding were tragically not shown mercy by members of the police sate, but the cops will be shown plenty of that elusive virtue because it’s usually only reserved for the wealthy or members of this police state.
The day that the Hikers were released, the Prez of this country said, “I am thrilled. They never should have been in prison in the first place.”

Well, I would like to tell you about FIVE men currently languishing in US Federal Prison who never should be there, “in the first place,” either. It’s the little known case of the Cuban Five, or the “Five Heroes” as they are referred to in Cuba.

Many acts of terrorism against Cuba have been planned from the right-wing Cuban exile community in Miami. These terrorists have killed thousands of Cubans and so the Cuban Five, as they would come to be known, were sent to the US to infiltrate this terrorist cell based in South Florida so as to be able to transmit messages back to Cuba to save lives in their homeland.

René González, Ramón Labaniño, Fernando González, Antonío Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández left their families to go to the US.

To make a long story short, in an act of good will, Cuban authorities decided to share information gathered by the Five with the FBI, and instead of rounding up the real terrorists, the Five were rounded up, put on trial in a kangaroo court in Miami where a fair trial was just not possible and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The Five Heroes did nothing against the US and never gathered any intelligence against our government—yet they have been in prison since 1998.

I have met their mothers, wives and children all over the world and I have also been in solidarity with the movement to free the Five for several years.

I know that President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela used his good influence with President Ahmadinejad of Iran (in fact, as I am told, worked harder than the US did for the Hikers’ freedom) and I am wondering after so many have called for the release of the Five if there’s any humanitarian that the leaders of this nation would listen to? Of course, the “Communist Dictator,” Hugo Chávez, has no influence here in the US—he himself is on the same path of demonization that Castro, Ahmadinejad, Qaddafy, et al, are on.

The Cuban Five never should have been in prison, either and 13 years is a long time for innocent men to be incarcerated.

It’s time for Obama to show the same mercy as was just shown two of our innocent citizens by Iran and send the Five Heroes home to their families.

It’s not only the humane thing to do; it’s the just thing to do.

Ricardo Alarcon: “Obama can free the Cuban Five”

September 30, 2011

Interview with Cuban Parliament President
Ricardo Alarcon: “Obama can free the Cuban Five”

by Javier Rodríguez
Sept. 23, 2011
Reprinted from The Havana Reporter

Five Cuban men have been serving harsh sentences in U.S. prisons since being
wrongly convicted by a U.S. federal court in Miami in 2001. Below, Cuban
Parliament president Ricardo Alarcon comments on the case of Gerardo
Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando

Practically everything important about this case has been hidden from the
U.S. people. For example, the U.S. government admitted its support to
terrorist groups in Miami in the most explicit way from the first moment
that charges were brought and throughout the last day of the trial, in
numerous statements in which it reiterated that the Five had been arrested
and charged for their actions against those terrorist groups; the sworn
testimony of highranking retired officers ‘ including admirals and generals ‘
 who stated that the Five had done nothing to harm U.S. national security;
the participation of several of the most notorious terrorists, some of them
wearing military garb, who there in the court, boasting of their crimes.

These things occurred over seven months, making it the longest trial in U.S.
history at the time. Any of these things normally would have been news. But
nothing was published about them, or, in fact, any other aspect of that
trial, outside of the local media in Miami. And that media manipulated the
issue to create an atmosphere of hate and prejudice that an Appeals Court in
2005 described as a ‘perfect storm’ that justified its decision to
that trial.

Habeas corpus appeals

Habeas corpus is an extraordinary procedure in the U.S. system that a
prisoner can present only once, after he or she has exhausted all ordinary
appeal possibilities. Those of Gerardo, René, Antonio and Ramón have been
presented and Fernando’s is being prepared.

All of them have as their common element new evidence that began to be
discovered in 2006 about the role played by the local media which we now
know was part of a conspiracy by the government, which forked over hundreds
of thousands of dollars to pay these supposed journalists in Miami
to do
their very dirty work. For the last five years, various U.S. civil society
organizations have been making different legal and administrative efforts to
get Washington to hand over all the information that it insists on hiding
about an operation that clearly violated the norms of due process. Judge
[Joan] Lenard herself complained during the trial about harassment and
provocations by the ‘journalists.’ It is up to her to speak out now
everybody knows that the provocateurs were, in fact, employed by the

In the case of Gerardo, moreover, other important questions are involved
related specifically to him, who faces the most complex situation, having
been sentenced to two life terms in prison plus 15 years for the fabricated
charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

They formulated a despicable charge against him that the government itself,
in an emergency petition it filed with the Appeals Court on May 30, 2001,
admitted was impossible to demonstrate ‘in the light of the evidence
presented.’ He had been attributed with invented participation in the
February 24, 1996 shoot-down of two airplanes belonging to a terrorist group
that had carried out numerous provocative incursions for years over Cuban

Unable to present any proof, because Gerardo had absolutely nothing to do
with that incident, the prosecutors grossly manipulated the evidence to make
the jury believe he was guilty. In the conditions in which the trial took
place, where various defendants and different charges were mixed, it was
impossible for Gerardo to defend himself adequately; he could not speak or
present witnesses to refute that completely false charge brought against
him. If you add to that the irrational hate created by the above-mentioned
journalists, you can understand why an intimidated and prejudiced
declared him guilty of something about which, as I said, the government
itself had admitted its failure.

But there is more. In order for the Feb. 24, 1996 incident to be material
considered by a U.S. court, it would have had to have happened outside of
Cuban territory (which is where we have always sustained it occurred, as
indicated by our radar). Having received confusing and contradictory reports
from U.S. radar, the investigative mission of the International Civil
Aviation Organization asked Washington to submit to it the images taken by
U.S. space satellites, but Washington refused that request. During the
trial, Gerardo’s lawyers asked again for the images taken by [U.S.] space
satellites to be shown, and the government refused again. Now Gerardo has
asked again in his habeas corpus and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in its
response, insists on keeping the images hidden. Fifteen years have now gone
by of hiding images that have only been seen in Washington. What can explain
such stubbornness, other than the fact that those images showed that the
incident occurred over Cuban territory and, consequently, the Miami trial
had no jurisdiction over it whatsoever?

Unjust ” supervised release ”

The sentence handed down to René requires him, after serving his sentence,
to begin a period of ‘supervised release’ for three years. Forcing him
spend that time far from his family is an additional punishment lacking in
any logic. Forcing him to remain in south Florida is, moreover, subjecting
him to obvious risks and danger.

Rene’s release from prison, in addition, puts the Obama administration in a
very clear dilemma. When the sentences were issued against the Five, the W.
Bush regime demanded that the court, in addition to the most irrational
punishment, establish very precise requirements to prevent them (the Five),
once out of prison, from trying to do anything detrimental to the
terrorists. That demand, in the case of René, was expressed as follows:’ As
a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is
prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where
individuals or groups such as terrorists are known to be or frequent.’

The U.S. rulers now must decide whether or not to continue this scandalous
effort to protect anti-Cuban terrorists. The best thing for them would be to
allow René to return immediately to Cuba, so that they do not have to appear
to be openly on the side of the real criminals who enjoy complete immunity

Obama can free the Five The U.S.

Constitution confers unlimited and exclusive powers on the president to free
any person, no matter what the crime, charge or verdict has been, or the
legal procedure in which he or she is involved. That power has been
exercised by all presidents over more than two centuries. It would be
practically impossible to calculate how many people have benefited. There is
absolutely no obstacle limiting that presidential prerogative.

This is something about which President Obama must be constantly reminded,
and by millions and millions of people every day.

International solidarity

There have been very important expressions of that solidarity all over the
world. The best demonstration came with the petition filed with the Supreme
Court asking it to review the case. Never before had that court received
such a large, representative, universal number of amicus brief documents,
signed by 10 Nobel laureates, jurists organizations, human rights
advocates, parliaments, parliamentarians, intellectuals, religious people,
trade unionists and political figures from all over the world.

This solidarity that is growing and will keep growing. The U.S. rulers in
Washington and those who travel abroad run into it frequently. According to
revelations by WikiLeaks, high-ranking dignitaries of their allied countries
have expressed their concern about the situation of the Five. And I assure
you that WikiLeaks has not said everything it knows, or does not know
everything that has happened.

Impact on Cuba-U.S. relations

A normal relationship with the United States is unimaginable as long as any
of the Five, even one, remains in prison and has not returned, free, to
Cuba. Because their incarceration means, simply, that Washington continues
supporting terrorism against Cuba and in that way any idea of improvement
between the two nations is impossible.

I do not personally know President Obama, although I do know others in his
government. Neither the president, nor his collaborators can be blamed as
responsible for this injustice. But they can resolve it, and they know how
to do so. If I were in a position to send them a message, I would say
respectfully, without shrillness, that they do what their conscience should
dictate to them. Free the Five now, all of them, without excluding any and
without any conditions.


“Cuba’s Youngest Cultural Ambassadors Make Rare U.S. Appearance”

September 29, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — La Colmenita, an internationally acclaimed Cuban children’s theater group and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is bringing its high-energy mix of theatrics and song to Washington, New York and San Francisco, with a private performance at the United Nations Oct. 24

The Oct. 15-29 tour, which is sponsored by the New York-based Brownstone Foundation, will give American audiences a unique opportunity to meet some of Cuba’s most talented young people, a generation that has been raised in the shadow of a decades-long U.S. embargo.

Since its formation in 1990, La Colmenita, which translates to “The Little Beehive,” has charmed audiences in more than 25 countries.  Fans of the group include actors Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Mike Farrell and singers Jackson Browne and Harry Belafonte.  British actress Vanessa Redgrave called them “The Soul of Cuba.”

During its two-week visit, the cast of La Colmenita looks forward to forging friendships with young Americans. Their visit comes at an important moment in U.S.-Cuba relations, with leaders in both countries acknowledging the importance of cultural diplomacy.  

La Colmenita productions are often based on familiar fairy tales and music, but with a creative Cuban twist. La Cucarachita Martina tells the story of Martina, a beautiful cockroach in search of a suitor who can capture her heart with his music. Abracadabra, which was written by children, touches on the U.S.-Cuba relationship. In the play, a teacher takes her students on a journey in search of truth and justice.

This is La Colmenita’s second visit to the United States.  The tour begins in Washington with performances at the Kay Chapel at American University Oct. 15 and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Oct. 19. In New York, they will perform at Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture Oct. 21 and PS 154 – The Harriet Tubman Learning Center Oct. 22. In northern California, they will be at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 26 and Fort Mason Center in San Francisco Oct. 28 and 29.  They will also be holding private performances at several schools. Plays will be performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

For show times and ticket information visit:

A judge grants dubious probation

September 29, 2011

  .By Saul Landau

In 2001, Miami Federal Judge Joan Lenard sentenced five Cuban agents to long prison terms for conspiracy to commit espionage (although no evidence of espionage appeared during the trial). Rene Gonzalez, 55, like the other four, denied he ever engaged in or conspired to commit espionage.

Rene will be released on October 7. Lenard’s conditions demand that Rene remain in Miami for three years and be monitored by parole officers, and that he not have any contact with terrorists.

Neither condition makes sense. An admitted Cuban agent living in Miami; a man who infiltrated the anti-Castro Brothers to the Rescue and could not find an insurance company to write a policy on his life. Bookies would be taking bets on when – not if – he gets assassinated. Hit men abound in the area.

The Justice Department has allowed a slew of proud (boasting) assassins to walk the streets of Miami and hold fundraising dinners in their honor. The mayor and council of Hialeah awarded the keys to their city to Luis Posada Carriles (aka the Osama bin Laden of the Western Hemisphere) and the late Orlando Bosch received honorary awards at the University of Miami. Declassified CIA and FBI documents and testimony from the men they hired to plant the bombs point clearly to both men’s responsibility for the bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner over Barbados on October 6, 1976.

Ironically, the judge also forbids Rene to have any association with terrorists – as if he would seek the company of those who want to assassinate him. She might have issued an edict forbidding the terrorists to have any association with Rene. At least that would have shown she had a sense (droll) of humor.

Her edict confining Rene to live in Miami, or dooming him to do so, confirms the blood lust running viral through the U.S. judiciary system.

In February, Gonzalez had asked the court to allow him to return to Cuba where his family lives. He cited the fact, known to all grown ups in Miami, that if he hits the streets in that city he would likely face serious danger to his life from the Cuban exile terrorist groups there.

Last week, Lenard denied Rene’s request to change her absurd probation conditions for him. She did agree to review those conditions at a later time. After he’s dead?

Did the judge catch “Kill ‘em fever?” Is she proving her macho reputation endures? Or is she applying “tough love” to the principals of probation – as in, “let’s see if he survives a couple of assassination attempts and then we can review his case.”

Fresh on the heels of Georgia’s murder of Troy Davis, Judge Lenard’s ruling stands as the equivalent of a death sentence to Rene. Well, as one of Rick Perry’s enthusiastic backers said: “It takes balls to kill an innocent man.”

It’s possible the judge might have aspirations to achieve number 1 rating as the worst and cruelest federal judge in the United States. Her performance at the trial of the Cuban five a decade ago would have won her honors for bias – siding with the prosecution on almost every motion and denying a change in venue for the five Cuban state security agents who had come to Florida to infiltrate and monitor exile groups intent on carrying out violence and terrorism in Cuba.

Lenard understood that the chances of a jury acquitting Cuban agents in Miami would be less than a chance for a Jew in Berlin to receive a fair verdict under the Nazis. Lenard repeatedly denied defense requests for a change in venue, and after a 3 judge appellate panel ruled for such a change the whole appeals court (Republican appointees) upheld her decision.

Another possibility exists of course. Before the original trial, a man who looked like an actor on “The Sopranos” might have approached the judge in a supermarket and told her how beautiful her children were and how they would grow up to great successes. And he was sure she would do the right thing at the trial. Certainly the trial jurors understood that an acquittal for the five could have brought them certain, less than perfect consequences, the best of which would have been getting their houses burned to the ground. Those are the rules in the “Autonomous Republic of Miami.”

A decade ago, an Appeals Court forced Judge Lenard to revise downward her harsh sentence to the men known as the Cuban Five. One would assume that her grudge against Rene would have cooled by now. Or did the same Sopranos actor meet her again at the supermarket to remind her of possible consequences should she act like a human being?

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and countless legal and human rights groups along with Parliamentary delegations and Nobel laureates have joined Amnesty International in challenging the very legitimacy of the arrest of the Five and the proceeding of Judge Lenard’s court. Indeed, most have concluded that bias from the bench is far too mild a term to describe her conduct as presiding judge. But she could get her name etched in legal history – as worst judge of her era.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP is available through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care

September 28, 2011

Book Review –

Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care   

Written by Ramona Wadi    
“Often we need to change our concepts, not only the general concepts, the social or philosophical ones, but also sometimes our medical concepts.” – Ernesto Che Guevara. 

Modelled on Che Guevara’s principles and keeping in line with the Cuban revolution, Steve Brouwer’s assessment of Cuba’s health care system in his book Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World’s Conception of Health Care (Monthly Review Press, July 2011) stands as a testimony to answer anyone claiming that socialism cannot function. Cuban doctors have regaled people in Latin America and around the world with medical opportunities which, in capitalist ideology and implementation, remain remote. While Cubans are provided free health care provided by medics who are dedicated to science and society, the United States has created a scheme based on profits, which marginalizes a major segment of the population who cannot afford costly treatment.

Che Guevara, himself a doctor, always reiterated the responsibility of helping the oppressed. Having observed the effects of poverty and social class during his travels in Latin America, his revolutionary consciousness stemmed from the concept of restoring dignity to the poor who were oppressed and neglected by dictatorships. Reaffirming Che’s philosophy, at the ELAM (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina) medical school in Cuba, an inscription of Fidel Castro’s words greets the students. “This will be a battle of solidarity against selfishness.” Striving against the reluctance of the minority who view a career medicine as an opportunity to achieve higher social status, ELAM’s philosophy is “transforming the doctor’s privilege into a doctor’s responsibility.”

Immediately after the triumph of the revolution, the health care system in Cuba underwent major changes. Despite a shortage of doctors, many of them having left to practice in the US and thereby retain prestige and social status, Cuba invested heavily in social welfare. Health care services were nationalized, medicine prices were reduced and treatment fees were gradually eliminated. By the end of 1960, Cuban doctors were employed in a system that provided free health care to all Cubans.

Aspiring doctors in Cuba were able to study medicine for free. In return for free education, doctors were required to relinquish the notion of medicine as an elitist career and work in close contact with the people, travel to rural areas, conduct home visits, and research in rural communities. In 1970, the Ministry of Health pointed out the mistake of valuing specialization over primary health care, given that many medical problems could have been solved by paying special attention to the environment. The study of primary health care and environmental problems proved successful when in Venezuela, it was discovered that apart from the effects of damp weather during rainy seasons, the wood fires which women lighted in their houses were causing lung congestion. The problem was lack of proper ventilation in houses. In 1984, a program of comprehensive general medicine was formulated, enabling medical students to study different areas of medicine in a continuous sequence, rather than separate subjects. The new curriculum was discussed with medics from Canada, Venezuela, Australia and the Philippines, with the director of ELAM stating that comprehensive general medicine allowed students to progress in scientific training whilst at the same time providing the opportunity for students to ‘understand the patient as a whole’.

Cuba has become a key player in responding to humanitarian aid around the world. Medical help was provided for countries ravaged by natural disasters such as Haiti, where Cuban doctors performed 6449 surgeries and stayed on long after the seven weeks of humanitarian aid offered to the Haitians by the US were over. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the US, Cuban doctors were forbidden by then- President Bush to assist in humanitarian aid. While Bush dismissed the Cuban offer as ‘propaganda’ by Fidel Castro, the brigade of doctors proved otherwise as they were dispatched to Pakistan, where an earthquake had left thousands of people in dire need of medical and humanitarian assistance. Indeed, the disposition and ethics of Cuban doctors is a source of pride to Fidel Castro who, in his column Reflections of Fidel, contrasted Cuba’s contribution to that of the US. “We are sending doctors, not soldiers!”

Combining medical care, research and ethics, Cuban doctors continue to export the revolutionary struggle on an international level. Cuba provided medical and humanitarian aid to countries whose politics were hostile to the Cuban revolution, such as the Nicaragua under the Somoza dictatorship. South Africa was aided by Cuban doctors in developing healthcare programs for combating HIV. Tanzania now boasts a medical school set up by Cuban doctors. And in Venezuela, the successful Barrio Adentro mission, as well as the free health care system has been modelled after the Cuban project, with doctors assisting and training Venezuelan medics in revolutionizing health care as a model of social responsibility.

The reluctance of Venezuela doctors to work and live in rural areas made it necessary for President Hugo Chavez to call in the expertise of Cuban doctors. The constitution drawn up by Chavez in 1999 granted all Venezuelans the right to accessible health care. Social missions were set up to monitor and ensure health care improvement in working class and poverty stricken areas. Cuban doctors made up for the lack of Venezuelan doctors willing to live in rural areas, reporting health problems that would have been common in countries with a very low GDP, such as Ethiopia and Angola.

The first phase of Barrio Adentro created over six thousand facilities throughout Venezuela which dealt with primary healthcare. The project was furthered to include diagnostic clinics and intensive care for people who were unable to be transferred to larger hospitals. Later the public hospital system was improved by technology updates, as well as improving communication with other health networks. Chavez’s government also ordered the construction of research laboratories and specialized hospitals offering advanced forms of treatment. By the end of August 2010, 83% of Venezuelans had benefited from Barrio Adentro – a far cry from the situation in the 1980’s where 17 million out of 24 million Venezuelans had no access to medical care.

Brouwer points out the benefits of health care as social responsibility. Apart from educating students and offering free courses to aspiring doctors, Cuba has also strived to educate and encourage Venezuelan people to assume responsibility for safeguarding the free health care system. Poor people were offered two meals a day prepared by volunteers, thus combating the effects of malnutrition. In order to avoid street crimes, Venezuelans volunteered as bodyguards for Cuban doctors. Committees of volunteers were set up, supplying Cuban doctors with food, housing and help in data collection, research and public health campaigns.

Financed by Venezuela, Cuban doctors in Bolivia treated over 300,000 Bolivians for eye surgery between 2006 and 2008. In an echo of history, it later became known that one of the patients treated for eye surgery was Mario Teran, the soldier singled out as Che Guevara’s executioner. Cuban doctors in Bolivia are perceived as emulating Che’s internationalist example.

Despite the obvious positive impact and social transformation which Cuban and Venezuelan health care had in Latin America, the US State Department and the CIA expressed concerns that Cuba and Venezuela were having a negative effect on Latin America. Counter-revolutionary efforts to thwart the socialist mission were staged, with a group of Cuban and Venezuelan exiles in Miami stating that doctors were exploited and coerced into servitude by the Cuban government. The only doctor to take part in this conspiracy was later found to be part of an anti-government group. President Bush also offered Cuban and Venezuelan doctors a safe and quick entry to the US, with the hope of disrupting the medical progress achieved in the continent. The US alternative was USAID, a program which promised financial aid in return for US approved “democratic” transition in Latin American socialist countries.

However, the sabotage program failed, highlighting instead capitalism’s failure to deliver what socialist revolutions are achieving in Latin America. Cuban doctors prided themselves on their role as teachers, imparting the necessity of education and community awareness to rural areas which would have otherwise been marginalized by unjust political systems. Within two years of adapting Cuba’s literacy program in Bolivia, UNESCO declared Bolivia free of illiteracy.

Almost every chapter in Revolutionary Doctors starts, befittingly, with a quote from Che Guevara. However, greater prominence might have been given to Fidel Castro’s continuous exhortation, even after Che’s death, that the West acknowledges and acts upon the injustices riddling Third World countries. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, Castro denounced the inequalities which triggered poverty and ill health:

“There is often talk of human rights, but it is also necessary to speak of the rights of humanity. Why should some people walk around barefoot so that others can travel in luxurious automobiles? Why should some live for 35 years so that others can live for 70? Why should some be miserably poor so that others can be overly rich? I speak in the name of the children in the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak in the name of the sick who do not have medicine. I speak on behalf of those whose right to life and human dignity have been denied… Of what use, then, is civilization? What is the use of man’s conscience? Of what use is the United Nations? Of what use is the world? It is not possible to speak of peace in the name of tens of millions of human beings who die yearly of hunger, of curable disease throughout the world.”

By implementing education on a national level and ensuring its distribution to all echelons of society, Cuba and Venezuela have managed to create a system which embraces and values humanity, and revolutionized medical practice as an ethical and moral responsibility, thus restoring dignity to the people by creating a new social consciousness. The ‘conscientious internationalist’ embodied by Che Guevara has been transformed into a regenerating reality and, far from the distorted spectrum ranging from prestigious career to saviors, Cuba and Venezuela have managed to transform socialism from an ideology into a humanitarian practice.

Ramona Wadi is a freelance writer living in Malta. Visit her blog at,

Why Cuba remains there to Castro?

September 28, 2011

by Sayid / Dora Bakoyannis

Initially Cuba was not communist. An isolationist policy of the United States requires the prestigious Caribbean island to accept the hand extended by the Communists. At that moment the operation of the American Empire is working, finally, they can justify the blockade. Since 1962, when “the masters of the world” have imposed the blockade and violate all the rules of international law, Cuba has only resist. The slogan written on the walls of the West Bank “exist to resist” stuck with Fidel Castro.

If the dead do not speak, the late President Kennedy declared that Cuba was a danger to the United States. Like any self-respecting American, he insisted on sharing his delirium with Mexico to punish the Cuban revolution. Telling the story of Cuba to this day will not provide the answer to the question. Politicians are judged on results then take stock of Fidel Castro:

Studies reported by international organizations, we can say that to Cuba:

1 – The illiteracy rate is 0.2% while it was 11.7% in Latin America

2 – The infant mortality rate is 6 per 1000 as against 32 per 1000 in Latin America

3 – Life expectancy is 76.5 years for 70 years against Cuba in Latin America

4 – The enrollment rate in primary education is 99% against 92% in Latin America

5 – care and education are free

6 – There are twice as many doctors in Cuba than in England given that the population in England is four times higher.

7 – Cuba has more than 4 million students of 11 million, 15,000 physicians have volunteered in more than a hundred Third World countries and 41,000 foreign students were able to continue studying medicine for free in Cuba.

In the words of journalist Michel Collon, so we can list the “seven deadly sins” of Fidel Castro

So why is it perceived as a dictator?

Because it gives priority to its people and suggests an alternative model against the current ultra-liberal capitalist system that dominates the world. Yet Cuba does not have the financial means of the G8. The United Nations has even said that “education in Cuba is excellent and that medicine has nothing to envy to the West.” So when the United States a little less than 30% of the population is illiterate, how can we speak of dictatorship and democracy in Cuba in the United States

“first of democracies” neglects education. United States health care is privatized when it is free in Cuba, so I reject the democratic value of the American Empire. Remember that the blockade is also economic and aims to lead to famine to bend Fidel Castro.

However, it is true that Cubans leave their country towards the United States. The reason is obvious, despite the good political, economic blockade weakens the country.

Finally, the United Nations General Assembly on 28 October 2009 confirms that:

“In this report, the Secretary-General has written replies submitted by 130 Member States and 26 UN agencies. Taken together, states and UN bodies condemn and call for the lifting of sanctions, the ruling contrary the principles of the UN Charter and the principles of sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs of other states, but also contrary to freedom of commerce and navigation “.” / p>

So the people Fidel Castro, and if we fight against injustice must not forget that after all the lifting of the blockade is as important as the creation of a Palestinian state or the end of the ideological wars conducted across the World Police (Organisation Tyrannical destroying the Nations). In the meantime hope that NATO takes time.

Sayid, a citizen of the world
References: “Cuba against the empire” of Salim Lamrani,

new : The Havana Reporter

September 28, 2011

From the Editor of The Havana Reporter

With this first edition of The Havana Reporter, the Prensa Latina news agency begins distributing a periodical especially designed for English-language readers as part of our expansive
publishing portfolio. Our purpose is to make it easier for visitors and people in other parts of the world to get closer to Cuba and to stay up to date on life on the island, and also to provide them with our view on current events in Latin America and the rest of the world.

One of the attractions readers will find is an extensive calendar listing of places to visit in Cuba, from theaters to nightclubs, as well as cultural and sports events. The Havana Reporter hopes to become an important resource for English speakers who want to learn more about our country, life here today, and our history, customs and traditions, and also to be a space to find out about the many different options available for visitors.

The Editor – Your friend in Cuba

Issue #1 of The Havana Reporter

The newspaper features news and information about politics, events, sports, culture and of course tourist related articles. Issue #1 of The Havana Reporter features articles with these titles:

US-Cuba: Obama has Historic Opportunity to Change Relations
Tourism in Cuba: Virtues and Hopes
Cuba Trains U.S. Doctors
Latin America and the Caribbean: Integration for Facing Common Challenges
Middle East: Challenges of the Arab Uprisings
Progress in Eastern Caribbean Integration
Bank of the South: a New Financial Institution
Crucial Moment in Chile
“Obama can free the Cuban Five”
Vidatox, Cuba´s New Cancer Drug
Entertainment and Things to Do sections
Lennon Lives in Havana
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Cuba
Havana at Dusk
Cuba Willing to Dialogue with USA
The Canadian Mambí
Indigenous Descendants in Eastern Cuba
New Regulations Ease Self-Employment in Cuba
Cuban Literacy Program Reaches Tierra del Fuego
Another US-Cuba “Friendshipment” Arrives in Havana
Conrado Marrero, a Baseball Legend
Cuba’s Oldest Settlement Turns 500

So, you can see the newspaper covers a lot of Cuba news and offers a lot of great information. The premier issue is dated September 23, 2011 with ISSN number 2224-5707 and a price of $1 per issue.

Issue #0

 test issue issue #0 of The Havana Reporter and articles featured in this issue below.

Oil: Cuba Looks to the Future
Cuba Awaits Rig to Start Gulf Oil Exploration
A Push For Renewable Energy
How to Do Business with Cuban Companies
2011 Havana Trade Fair Set for October
Clamor for the Five
Labiofam Natural products to Improve Life
Some Glimpses of Havana
Entertainment section
Jimmy Page Strolls Havana Streets
Cuba tourism articles
Golf Rush in Cuba
Cuba sports news

Message to the Five from Giustino Di Celmo

September 28, 2011

Acela Caner Román
(Translated by Granma Internacional)

– Giustino Di Celmo father of the young Italian Fabio Di Celmo, killed September 4, 1997

EVERY year since September 4, 1997, Giustino Di Celmo returns to Havana’s Copacabana Hotel, walks through its halls, greets the employees, embraces the workers. In the lobby, he places a kiss on his hand and caresses the bronze plaque engraved with the face of Fabio, his son and the innocent victim of a crime. The grief-stricken Di Celmo family have never ceased demanding justice and an end to acts terrorism against Cuba.

On this occasion, family members of the five anti-terrorist Cubans incarcerated in the United States; the leadership of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP); and the Copacabana workers filled the hotel to honor Fabio Di Celmo and his father, an untiring fighter for the liberation of the Five.

– Act in the Hotel Copacabana

Magaly Llort, Fernando González’ mother, was the bearer of a wooden plaque for Fabio’s father containing an inscribed message signed by Gerardo Fernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, René González Schwerert, Fernando González Llort and Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez.

In her words, Magaly Llort emphasized that, at the very beginning of the movement for the return of the Five, Giustino Di Celmo promised that his family members would take up the cause of these unjustly imprisoned men as if it were theirs. And Fabio’s father and brother Livio have fulfilled that promise.

Despite his advanced age, Giustino has undertaken many actions to make people aware of the interconnected events concerning the death of Fabio Di Celmo, as irrefutable evidence of the State of Necessity which the Cuban people have to seek information within terrorist groups in order to avert further crimes.

Finally, Magaly Llort read the text engraved on the plaque:

“For Giustino Di Celmo, with profound gratitude for your support of our struggle for justice.”

Di Celmo expressed his thanks for the gift. “No pain can be greater than that of the death of a son and even more so when it is caused by a violent and cruel act. It pains me to think about all the acts of terrorist against Cuba. It pains me to think that Luis Posada Carriles, the confirmed and self-confessed murderer of my son and of multiple crimes, is freely walking the streets of Miami while these young men who were fighting to stop any more acts of terrorism in Cuba are confined in prison cells.

“I want to ask all people of good will to divulge this great truth and to write to the President of the United States asking him to release the five Cuban anti-terrorists. They are just men and justice cannot be incarcerated. If my Fabio were alive, I know that he would have written a letter to Obama advocating their immediate liberation.”

– Magalis Llort delivery Giustino Di Celmo message

– Giustino Di Celmo receives message from Cuban Five



– Message of the five Cubans Giustino Di Celmo

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