Archive for February, 2012

EU Deputies Urge Elimination of Common Position vs. Cuba

February 27, 2012

Imagen activaStrasbourg, France, Feb 27 (Prensa Latina) European deputies of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left demanded the elimination of the so-called Common Position of the European Union (EU) against Cuba, in force since 1996.

The European Parliaments rejection of this unilateral and interfering policy was expressed during a meeting held in Strasbourg with Mirtha Hormilla, Cuban ambassador to Belgium and head of the mission at the EU.

Legislators also demanded the lifting of the five-decades-old U.S.-imposed blockade on Cuba, and asked Washington to release five Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly held in U.S. prisons.

Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez were sentenced to lengthy prison terms running from 15 years to double life imprisonment, for monitoring actions by Florida-based anti-Cuba violent groups.

On behalf of the Confederal Group, its president, Lothar Bisky, expressed solidarity with Cuba, and wished its authorities success in the update of the country’s economic model.

The ambassador talked with the legislators on the results of the 1st National Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba on January 28, as well as the 6th Congress of the organization in April 2011.

Hormilla also discussed the importance of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, created in December in Caracas.

European deputies from Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and other countries were interested in the island’s current situation, and expressed support for the Cuban Revolution.

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Cuban ANTI-terrorist wants temporary return home

February 27, 2012

Feb. 27, 2012
Reprinted from AP

A convicted Cuban spy [sic] still serving probation in the U.S. wants to return home temporarily to visit a critically ill brother.

René González is asking a Miami federal judge to allow him a two-week visit to Cuba. González’s attorney says in court papers that his 53-year-old brother is in the final stages of lung cancer.

The attorney also says González has fully complied with his probation since his release from U.S. prison five months ago.

González is one of the so-called “Cuban Five” convicted of spying on Cuban exiles in South Florida and attempting to infiltrate military installations and political campaigns. One of the five also was convicted of murder conspiracy for the 1996 shootdown of “Brothers to the Rescue” planes.

González hopes to eventually return permanently to Cuba.

Read the legal motion filed on René’s behalf here (pdf)

Obama Extends Cuban Emergency Order

February 26, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama extended an emergency order Thursday that has been in effect since Cuba shot down two U.S.-registered small planes 16 years ago.

“The Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba,” the president said. “In addition, the unauthorized entry of any U.S.-registered vessel into Cuban territorial waters continues to be detrimental to the foreign policy of the United States.”

The planes were operated by a Cuban-American group, Brothers to the Rescue, which used them to drop leaflets on Havana. The group said they did not enter Cuban airspace, dropping the leaflets at a time when the wind would carry them to land.

The two planes shot down by a Cuban fighter jet on Feb. 24, 1996, were both outside Cuban airspace at the time.

Roberto Gonzalez, one of the Defense Lawyers of The Five, in a Critical Condition

February 26, 2012

(acn) Roberto Gonzalez, one of the members of the legal team of the five Cubans condemned in the United States, is in a critical condition at a Havana hospital after a hard struggle against cancer, which he has been suffering from for several years now.

Roberto is the only brother of Rene Gonzalez, one of the five Cubans condemned in the United States. All these years, his condition as a lawyer has turned him into a tireless fighter for the release of The Five.

In October, he agreed to give the Juventud Rebelde newspaper an interview, in which he offers details about his family and speaks about his convictions, as a lawyer and as a Cuban, in favor of the return home of these five compatriots. His wish to see his brother again in Cuba was also present in his words:

“He (Rene) speaks about continuing to work. He would like to chat with his neighbors, or work on the street on the mechanics of a car… He has an agricultural project in mind, of self-supply. He’s working on it. And I’m planning to accompany him.”

USA violate family rights

February 26, 2012

Why Cuba must produce the food it needs

February 24, 2012

Freddy Pérez Cabrera

FOR a country like Cuba, with scant natural resources and severe financial
limitations, it is inadmissible to continue spending millions of dollars every
year on imported foodstuffs, many of which could be produced nationally if the
agricultural sector were more efficient and were to make due use of advances in
science and technology in order to increase yields.

As it is known, last year alone, the country had to invest more than $1.7
billion on food products in the world market, an expense closely related to
uncontrolled price increases in the majority of cases.

A group of eminent scientists, including Dr. Sergio Rodríguez Morales, director
of the National Tropical Vegetables Research Institute (INIVIT) and Osvaldo
Martínez, director of the World Economy Research Center (CIEM), recently
discussed this issue and contributed information promoting not only reflection,
but action.

UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD

According to reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in the
early 1960s, the countries of the South had an agricultural trade surplus of
close to $7 billion per year; however, by the end of the 1980s, this surplus had
disappeared. Today, the countries of the South are net importers of food,
confirming them as having more importers and fewer producers.

This is compounded by spiraling price increases in the last few years as a
result of demographic growth, the utilization of grains for biofuels, land
erosion, the depletion of aquiferous reserves, water used for irrigation being
diverted to large cities, the stagnation of agricultural yields in developed
countries, climate change phenomena and high oil prices.

In relation to biofuels, the FAO itself has acknowledged that, from 2000,
ethanol production has consumed a quarter of corn grown in the United States,
which could have fed 350 million people annually.

In order to have some idea of the gravity of the issue, in 2009 alone, 416
million tons of cereals were harvested in the United States, of which 119
million were utilized to distil ethanol for automobiles.

In Europe, where a large percentage of automobiles run on diesel fuel, there is
a growing demand for this product manufactured from plants, principally based on
rapeseed and palm oil.

As Osvaldo Martínez stated, these facts are now joined by another: financial
speculation linked to the sensitive issue of food, which has prompted the major
powers to channel approximately $13 trillion into food markets.

In addition, the world population has virtually doubled in recent years. From
1970 to date, the world has increased by 80 million persons a year, which
signifies an extra 219,000 mouths to feed every day. The majority of them will
face empty plates, a reality which would seem to have no solution, given the UN
prediction that the demand for food will increase 50% by 2030.

In terms of soil, it is estimated that one third of global cultivable land will
lose its top layer more rapidly than the surface formed by natural processes,
thus losing its inherent productivity.

In terms of food distribution, it is estimated that 25% of inhabitants in
developed countries consume 50% of foodstuffs, and the 75% living in
underdeveloped nations the remaining 50%. Similarly, those living in developed
countries spend 10-20% of their salary on food; however, this rises to close to
85% in poor countries.

Another highly interesting phenomenon which has influenced prices is the
increased demand for meat in emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India,
China and Singapore, which in the last decade resulted in a 67% increase in
global consumption of soy flour.

For example, China has become the top producer of pork in the world, with 46% of
the total; however, for every ton of soy produced, it imports 2.5 tons, which
has led to steep rises in the price of raw materials for animal feed.

Another issue for concern is the exodus of people working the land to large
cities. Thus, while in the 1950s, one out of every four persons lived in rural
areas, the proportion now is almost half and half.

In the same way, large food producers are consuming more and exporting less.
Thus, 90% of rice in the world is produced in Asia, a continent which only
exports 10% of the grain.

No less sensitive is the subject of seeds. In the 1960s, almost all of them were
in the hands of agriculturalists or public institutions; today, just 10
corporations, such as Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Bayer, control 67% of
seeds.

The case of fertilizers is similar: globally, industrial consumption of
fertilizer increased by 31% between 1996 and 2008, to prices virtually out of
the reach of poor countries. Suffice it to say, that between January 2007 and
August 2008, fertilizer prices spiraled by more than 650%. During this period,
the Mosaic corporation, the third largest in fertilizer production at global
level, increased its profits in excess of 1,000%!

FOOD PRODUCTION, A NATIONAL SECURITY PROBLEM

Faced with this global chaos and a world committed to buying food rather than
producing it, Cuba has no alternative other than to work untiringly to produce
the food it needs and which it will need in the future, hence the priority given
to the issue by the leadership of the Revolution, which has correctly perceived
it as a problem of national security.

The fact that it is increasingly more difficult for the Cuban economy to turn to
markets for supplies of rice, grains, milk, coffee and meat which are not
produced here in sufficient quantities, requires a change of mentality and the
liberation of productive forces, by sweeping aside the objective and subjective
obstacles which stand in the way of a more rapid solution to this dilemma.

To that end it is necessary to move from being a consumer society to becoming a
sustainable one, where sound agro-ecological practices rule, as well as the
efficient use of seeds, because it is proven that 50% of increased yields at the
global level in the last 100 years have been determined by seed quality and the
introduction of new varieties. As INIVIT director Sergio Rodríguez has
confirmed, Cuba has a vast scientific potential to be harnessed to that end.

As the leader of the Revolution Fidel Castro stated at the World Food Summit in
Rome in October of 1996, “The bells that toll today for those who die of hunger
every day, will toll tomorrow for humanity in entirety if humanity did not wish
to, did not know how to or failed to be wise enough to save itself from itself.

GRANMA INTERNATIONAL
Havana. February 23, 2012

5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington

February 23, 2012
Image by Marivi Rodriguez

In this crucial year for the 5 Cuban Patriots we need to multiply the actions for their freedom, especially in the capital of the United States. The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 is making a call to solidarity organizations and friends in the U.S. and around the world to support “5 consecutive days for the Cuban 5”.

 

These actions will take place from April 17-21 in Washington D.C., and will include:  

  • Large event with the participation of US and international personalities;
  • Lobby and delivery of information to members of Congress and the U.S. Senate;
  • Showing of documentaries in universities and other public spaces;
  • Media outreach;
  • Meeting with religious groups of different denominations; and
  • Informational tables and cultural activities.

In addition to the activities mentioned above organizers are planning to place thousands of “Obama Give me Five” posters at key points in the city and publish ads in several media outlets.

 

GET INVOLVED BY JOINING THIS EFFORT TO BRING AWARENESS ABOUT THE CASE OF THE CUBAN 5 IN WASHINGTON D.C. 

Some ways to participate in the actions of 5 days for the Cuban 5:

  • Endorse/support the actions by sending the name of your organization toinfo@thecuban5.org;
  • Consider coming to Washington D.C. to participate in the actions;
  • Make a donation. The success of this project depends on the support of all of you.

Very soon we will send detailed information about each activity.

STAYED TUNE!! 

We Need a Jury of Millions for the Cuban Five

February 22, 2012

The president of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo
Alarcon, said on Tuesday that a jury of millions is necessary so that U.S.
president Barack Obama releases the Cuban antiterrorists who remain
unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

Speaking during the closing session of the Seventh Congress of the
National Association of Cuban Jurists held in Havana, Alarcon added that
“we should not be satisfied with what has been done for the release of
Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and
Gerardo Hernandez “—internationally known as the Cuban Five.

“I’m convinced that jurists will play a decisive role in this complex
stage of our struggle,” Alarcon noted as he highlighted the work done in
favor of the Cuban Five by late American lawyer Leonard Weinglass.

The Cuban Five were unjustly incarcerated in the United States in 1998 for
trying to prevent terrorist actions against the Caribbean nation. Antonio
Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez remain
unjustly in prison, while Rene Gonzalez was released on parole in October
2011, but he was forced to stay in U.S. territory for three years.

Referring to other topics, Alarcon said that the struggle against
corruption has to become a daily battle against a scourge that has to be
eradicated.

“It is not enough to pass new laws or to update our regulations. We have
to promote a legal culture among the people, because this kind of criminal
offense can also be eliminated appealing to their sense of shame and
letting them play leading roles in this struggle,” added the Cuban legislator.

(acn)

Cuban Oil Exploration Opposed by U.S. Right

February 22, 2012

by Emile Schepers

cuba oil

On Monday January 30, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Infrastructure met in Florida to hear testimony about the possible impact of new deepwater oil drilling off the Northwest coast of Cuba. . Republican politicians, especially those based in the conservative Cuban exile community of South Florida, as well as some Democrats, have been trying to stop the drilling, even though some of them are actually on record as supporting drilling for oil off the U.S. East Coast, and the controversial “fracking” process and the Canada-U.S. oil pipeline. Although these politicians take a stance of defending the U.S. coastline from damage similar to that of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, they also have a political agenda of preventing Cuban oil self-sufficiency.

But instead, the situation points to the crying need to end the 50 year U.S. blockade of socialist Cuba, and the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Earlier in January a Chinese built deepwater oil drilling platform, Scarabeo 9, was anchored in place off the Northwest coast of Cuba.  The platform will be operated, in agreement with the Cuban government, by a consortium of foreign enterprises, of which the most important is the Spanish Repsol company.

Cuban scientists believe that there may be as many as 20 billion barrels of crude oil reserves a mile or so below the surface. This could be a game changer for the economics and politics of the region. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of Cuba’s greatest difficulties has been that of getting hold of enough oil for electrical generation and industry. Cuba has a small amount of land based oil production, but the quality of oil is not good. More recently, Cuba has been able to import oil on generous terms from Venezuela.  But to have its own plentiful supply of oil will mean not only that all worries about supplies come to an end, but also that Cuba can become a net oil exporter, which will allow it to play a stronger role regionally and worldwide, as well as improving the living standards of its own people.

Why not go green instead? Cuba already has been doing more than most countries, and vastly more than the United States, todevelop renewable energy sources. When Soviet supplies dried up, Cuba was forced to re-think its energy policy, but now those emergency adaptations have been worked into a coherent and advanced “green energy” philosophy, which the country is implementing. In international forums, Cuba has forcefully taken the side of those countries which are most endangered by the effects of global warming to argue for stronger measures to limit use of fossil fuels and thus cut greenhouse gases.

Cuba has more than enough sunlight for solar energy to eventually replace fossil fuels for many purposes.  Cuban agriculture also produces waste products which can be tapped for energy. This includes, notably, bagasse, the material left over from the processing of cane for sugar production. Other agricultural, livestock and forest waste are also being explored as sources of renewable energy. Existing hydroelectric generation capacity can also be built on.

However, Cuba has abandoned the idea of developing nuclear power generation, and opposes the conversion of land used for the growing of food crops to crops used in energy generation, as potentially endangering the world’s food supply.

Cuba has also made notable strides in reducing wasteful electricity use. All incandescent light bulbs in Cuban homes have now been replaced by much more efficient fluorescent bulbs, and electricity rates for Cuban consumers reward households who keep their electricity use low. The Cuban government also initiated a campaign to replace old, electricity wasting household appliances with newer models that conserve energy, giving away many appliances free.

As with health care and education, the Cuban government has incorporated technical assistance in the development of renewable energy into its many overseas aid missions to poor countries regionally and worldwide.  So nobody – least of all the United States, which accounts for 23% of the world’s oil consumption  with 5 % of the world’s population, and historically has been the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas generation – can accuse Cuba of being backward in terms of renewable energy and energy conservation.

However, Cuba’s financial limitations act as a break on the development of renewable energy, which inevitably involve startup costs for research and development and the creation of some new infrastructure. The point at which Cuba or anybody else can drop the use of fossil fuels entirely, has not yet arrived. Ironically, the breather that the new oil discovery may give it could hasten the “greening” of Cuban energy use, because it will give Cuba capital for changing its infrastructure and starting new wind, solar, biofuel and other projects.

A huge impediment is the 50 year U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, which makes the importation of new technology vastly more expensive. The Cubans call the U.S. policy a “blockade” instead of an “embargo” because the United States not only will not allow its own companies to trade with Cuba, but also threatens foreign companies who trade with Cuba with sanctions, and forbids them from selling to Cuba items which contain components made by U.S. companies. Although the Obama administration has loosened some restrictions on travel to Cuba, the Cubans complain that on the other hand, it has increased enforcement of the blockade. But the very existence of the blockade presents a problem for anyone sincerely worried about what would happen to Florida’s coasts and reefs if there were some kind of accident like the giant spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon’s well in 2010. Technical specialists have been pointing out that given the blockade, it might be difficult for U.S. companies to mobilize resources to pitch in to deal with such a disaster, and have urged that contingency planning between Cuba and the United States be set up as soon as possible to assure that coordination takes place. At writing, it appears that the Obama administration may follow this commonsense approach.

But some of the politicians who grilled U.S. officials and technical experts at the subcommittee meeting on January 30th were not mollified by reports from U.S. Interior Department officials who had boarded Scarabeo 9 and inspected it enroute to Cuban waters, and for the most part expressed confidence that things were being well handled and that the danger of a spill was minimal. The real agenda of the right is to prevent Cuba from breaking out from the effects of the U.S. blockade using the newfound oil wealth. Neither U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen nor Representative David Rivera are on the Coast Guard Subcommittee, but they are South Florida Cuban exile Republican politicians who have based their political careers on attacking the Cuban Revolution. Ros Lehtinen has introduced legislation intended to punish Repsol and other third party companies who are participating in the Scarabeo 9 operations. Rivera, for his part, dramatically demanded that Repsol must “bleed” if anything goes wrong.

As a sovereign, independent country, Cuba has every right to do what it is doing. People in the United States who are sincerely concerned about the environment should urge the Obama administration to ignore people like Ros Lehtinen and Rivera, and work closely with Cuban authorities in developing emergency response protocols in case of any accident. Maybe that can show the way to the most urgent priority, which is to end the blockade.

http://www.politicalaffairs.net/cuban-oil-exploration-opposed-by-u-s-right/,

Cuba Rejects Interfering Statements by Spanish Foreign Minister

February 21, 2012

(acn) Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez urged Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo to provide solutions to the current serious problems faced by the Spanish society instead of interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs.

In a statement published by Granma newspaper on Tuesday, Rodriguez
referred to an interview with Garcia-Margallo that appeared in last
Sunday’s edition of El Mundo newspaper, in which the Spanish official
“used disrespectful and interfering expressions on human rights and the
state of law in Cuba.”

“We express our strongest rejection of those statements, which are a new
interference in Cuba’s internal affairs. It is not in Cuba where Franco’s
admirers are.  It is best that he looks around himself,” Rodriguez’s
statement reads.

After noting that Cuba is no longer a colony, but a sovereign and
independent country that does not accept questionings, “particularly, from
those who try to teach lessons when they really live under a glass
ceiling”, the Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister added that the Spanish
government “should more likely provide solutions to the serious problems
faced by its society such as: the economic crisis; the continued increase
in unemployment, which affects more than five million persons, mainly
youths; the police retaliation against peaceful demonstrators; the
deplorable situation in prison facilities, among other human rights
violations.”


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