Archive for October, 2012

“The Cuban Wives” is the Film Winner at the 27th Trieste Latin-American Film Festival

October 31, 2012

“The Cuban Wives” by Alberto Antonio Dandolo has won the prestigious Malvinas Award at the 27th Trieste Latin American Film Festival.

The Malvinas Award, aimed at promoting coexistence among peoples and International Law, has been awarded by a jury composed by the Argentinean writer Juan Octavio Prenz, the Italian author and journalist Massimiliano Cocozza and Hector Sommerkamp professor at the University of Trieste, for the following reasons:

“Due to the sensitivity and attention to the issue of justice as the foundation of a better society. A moving narrative and objective on the trials of our times.”

“The Cuban Wives” will now be purchased for programming at the INCAA TV Channel, from the Institute of Argentinean Cinema, involved in the development of the Malvinas Award at the Festival of Trieste.

The director, Alberto Antonio Dandolo, welcomed by the Festival Director Rodrigo Diaz, was present at the awards ceremony on Saturday 27 October at the Teatro Miela in Trieste. He received the award by commenting “the violation of International Law has no borders, so I felt it my duty to investigate on the story of the Cuban Five arrested over 14 years in the United States’s prisons” he added,” the importance of cinema in its highest form, is to restore the dignity and memory of facts and people who would otherwise not voice.”

Special to freethefive.org

A Ship to Cuba: 5 Pirates for the Cuban 5

October 28, 2012

A spiritual journey in solidarity with the Cuban Five, a journey for peace and for justice. The Camilla, a 30 ft sailboat, will travel from Annapolis, Maryland, to Gibara/Holguin and will join the 8th International Colloquium for the Liberation of the Cuban Five and Against Terrorism.

We are a group of past Cuba travelers that seek to exercise our constitutional rights that are ensured by the freedom of speech, our group proclaims that those that dislike Cuba have a right to do so, those that do not wish to travel to Cuba do not have too, those that do not wish to trade with Cuba do not have too, the ones that love Cuba, cannot constitutionally make law that forces anyone to trade with Cuba, or travel to Cuba, nor is it then constitutional to enact law that doesn’t allow trade or travel, or that penalizes anyone that trades with Cuba, or travels to Cuba.

If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey, he is obligated to do so.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Our group speaks up against terrorism, and the hypocrisy that surrounds the US governments foreign policy on terrorism, since the infamous and notorious international terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, is protected by the same US government that has declared war on terrorism after 9/11, and in the name of security the US government is now levying war upon the people of the United States, upon their rights, upon their freedoms, but there is no war on terror, there is only a war on truth. Our group also advocate for a coalition of unity for the freedom of all political prisoners, including but not limited to the Cuban Five, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Bradley Manning, Puerto Rican political prisoners, as well as trade union and youth group leaders, and the political activists that are political prisoners in the Americas.

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Rene González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort.

The Cuban Five are true anti-terrorist fighters, true heroes, they infiltrated terrorist groups in Miami, Florida, and saved countless of precious human lives, even US citizens, whether they knew it or not, benefited from a safer world, by their actions. In 1998, the Cuban authorities presented the accumulated data, facts and numbers to the FBI, but the FBI arrested the Cuban Five instead of the terrorists, those Five brave heroes that had provided the evidence of the terrorist activities on US soil to the Cuban Authorities, they were later convicted on false charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. Thus, our group is asking if the conviction of the Cuban Five is really just a confession, unintentionally made by the US government, by definition espionage can only be committed by spying on a government, so if, infiltrating and monitoring terrorist groups resulted in that the Cuban Five were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in the USA, is that not then a confession by the US government that it employs terrorists? While innocent women and children are drone murdered in the ghost hunt for made up terrorists to increase the coffers of the military industrial complex, real terrorists are free in Miami, Florida, United States of America, rubber stamped and approved by Uncle Sam.

There are many ways you can sponsor or endorse the Ship to Cuba.

  1. Buy a ship and come with us!
  2. Send us a donation.
  3. Spread the word.
  4. Officially become a sponsor, commit a donation and spread the word.
  5. Officially become an endorser and commit to spreading the word.
  6. Apply to become one of the pirates on board the Camilla.
  7. Call every 5th of the month to the White House and Demand the freedom of the Cuban Five.

We cannot make this journey without you, we need your support and we humbly request your assistance, dock fees are very expensive, boating is overall very expensive, the ship still needs a little bit of work and materials are needed. We follow the mantra of the late Reverend Lucius Walker, and his legacy, the Pastors for Peace, and we lift up their message, “Love is our license.”

The Ship

The name of the ship is the Camilla, she is a 1978 O’day 30, fiberglass sailboat, 29′ 11” LOA, with two engines, one inboard 12 hp diesel engine, and one outboard 9.8 hp gasoline engine. The galley includes a refrigerator, a microwave oven, pressurized running water, icebox, and a butane stove, the ship sleeps six, but has only five berths. The restroom has pressurized running water and a toilet, there is a separate V-birth cabin with a door and hatch that sleeps two, the ship has both A/C and heat, and she is equipped with solar panels, but she can also be hooked up to the power at a dock. She is fully equipped, she has a chart-plotter/fish-finder gps and she has all the necessary safety equipment on board. She is being worked on to be in tip top shape for the journey.

The Mission

We are a group of past Cuba travelers that are uninsured in the Untied States of America and while we are in Cuba, we intend on seeking the excellent care of Cuba and its humanistic revolution, which has excelled Cuba from 9.2 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in 1958, to the number one ranking in the world with 67.2 per 10,000 in 2011, a revolution that thus far has given back the sight to more than one million poor people through ‘Operation Miracle’, a revolution that is educating poor people from all over the world to become doctors, a revolution with more than 26,000 doctors in the field serving the poorest of the poor worldwide, after which our group seeks to join the 8th International Colloquium for the Liberation of the Cuban Five and Against Terrorism.

Our group also advocates for the immediate release of all US political prisoners, and the arrest of all the internationally infamous and notorious terrorists associated with the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. Policy of hypocrisy is not law, such “law” is based upon hearsay and he said, she said does not hold up in court. The piles of evidence accumulated in the case of terrorist activities carried out from the shores of Miami and Florida are not circumstantial. We stand firmly with ‘A Ship to Gaza’!

While the ship is in Cuba we intend to purchase honey, which we will bring to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and sell for a small profit, for which we intend to purchase rice, which we will take to Cuba to sell for a small profit.

For more information please contact:

Reverend Yonny Y: Email: revyonnyy@gmail.com

Phone: 202-246-8775

Banbose Shango: Email: bshango@yahoo.com

Phone: 202-714-9435

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 : An Appeal to Help Us Continue Our Work in the United States

October 25, 2012
Dear friends and supporters of the Cuban 5,

There is a moving YouTube that we just finished of Cuban performer Vicente Feliú live at Brava Theater in San Francisco. We hope you enjoy it. Vicente along with Latin Grammy winning guitarist Alejandro Valdés toured Washington, New York and San Francisco using their music to draw attention to the imprisonment of the Cuban 5.

http://youtu.be/fVkS28KibXY, or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVkS28KibXY&feature=plcp,

This was just one of a great number of activities that took place all over the world from September 12th to October 8th to commemorate the 14th anniversary of this enormous injustice. There were more events and actions this year than any other before and that shows we are making progress in reaching more layers of people. But we do not have the luxury to rest on what we have done and the gains we have made. We need to intensify the work especially in the U.S. where the Five have been kept hostage due to  a 50 year old failed U.S. policy towards Cuba.

We were cautioned that we should not expect much to happen in this election year but that did not stop the International Committee for the Freedom of Cuban 5 from organizing a number of activities this year including:

  • 5 days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC that brought together Cuban 5 supporters from all over the world including Canada, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and Honduras. During these 5 days posters of “Obama Give me 5” were pasted all over DC, we featured the documentary “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” in different universities. Also we organized public events with known personalities including Danny Glover, Dolores Huerta, Stephen Kimber, Cindy Sheehan, Wayne Smith, Saul Landau, Salim Lamrani and many others. We also brought the issue of the Cuban 5 to 40 members of Congress, and we ended the 5 days with a rally in front of the White House.
  • More recently and in addition to the tour of Vicente Feliú, we organized a public meeting in Washington DC on September 14, with the participation of the fighter for Puerto Rico independence Rafael Cancel Miranda and Tom Hayden, editor of The Nation and others. We also followed up with our lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill by visiting 7 more members of Congress.

To continue raising awareness about the case of the Cuban 5, we are currently planning a number of new activities and there are two main ingredients that will make them successful; human commitment and monetary resources. Our committee has a growing number of dedicated activists and with the necessary donations we feel we will be able to achieve more in the upcoming period.

Many of you have given your financial support in the past and we are asking you to do it once again. And for those of you who haven’t donated to us in the past, but who follow the work of the International Committee, we urge you to do so.

CHIP IN A MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION OR MAKE ONE TIME DONATION

WRITE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CHECK TO: International Committee

And send it to:

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

P.O. Box 22455

Oakland, CA 94609

TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT!

For more information about the Cuban 5 visit: www.thecuban5.org

Unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for Defending Cuba: The Case of the Cuban Five

October 23, 2012

Washington, DC, Nov. 13, 2012: Howard University School of Law Forum

Unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for Defending Cuba: The Case of the Cuban Five

Wrongly imprisoned now for 14 years, the Cuban Five are not widely known in the United States, yet the outcome of their case will have a profound impact on the U.S. justice system and U.S.-Cuba relations. At the heart of their struggle is the fundamental and constitutional right of a defendant to a fair trial, and the right of Cuba to defend itself from terrorism. There is a movement in the U.S. and worldwide to demand their freedom.

Date, Time: Tuesday, November 13, 6:00 pm
Location:
Howard University School of Law, 2900 Van Ness St. N.W., Washington, DC
Admission:
Free
Sponsors:
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Howard University School of Law

Program features:

  • Actor Danny Glover, who has visited Cuban Five member Gerardo Hernández in Victorville federal prison several times
  • Okianer Christian Dark, Dean, Howard University School of Law
  • Martin Garbus, Attorney on the Cuban Five legal team, representing Gerardo Hernández
  • Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2002-2005
  • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice
  • Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five


Download the flyer


Cuba Eases Restrictions on Travel Controls: Implications for the United States

October 19, 2012
by Wayne Smith

As we have all seen, the Cuban government has just announced a significant easing of controls on the travel of Cubans abroad. Most significantly, most Cubans will no longer have to seek prior approval from the government. They will not need an official exit permit or a letter of invitation from a resident in their country of destination. They must now simply apply to the Cuban government for a passport and to the country of destination for a visa – like everyone else. Well, almost like everyone else. Cuban doctors and certain other professionals may not get passports so easily – and Cuban dissidents will doubtless face difficulties. Still, it is definitely a step in the right direction and the State Department has expressed approval.

The new regulations do, however, raise some interesting questions for the United States. One result almost certainly will be that there will be more Cubans arriving on our shores. In past years, under what has been called the “wet foot, dry foot policy,” any Cuban who reached our soil could be paroled in, i.e., could stay. Will that remain the case after January 14? State Department officials say they are studying the matter carefully.

There will be some increase, yes, but we are not facing a crisis here, as we did, say, during the Mariel sealift. Some hard-line Cuban-Americans are suggesting we should already slam the doors. That would be foolish – and unnecessary.  This is an eminently controllable situation – and one which should result in an improved situation – and perhaps even in an improved atmosphere.

 

In Cuba voters select candidates

October 18, 2012

Interview with President Ricardo Alarcón of the National Assembly of People’s Power

Outside of Cuba there is an idea that elections are relative insofar as there is only one Party. How is the Cuban electoral system organized and what are its values, speaking in terms of democracy?

In Cuba voters select candidates

We are now in an electoral process. This is one of the fundamental differences with the model in vogue, with its supposed paradigm. The essence of election system in the contemporary Western world implies that electors, who are not all citizens but rather a part, are called on to vote for certain candidates who have been selected by the electoral machine or political parties. Thus citizens have scant participation in the selection of candidates. In Cuba, a process has been underway for some weeks in which the people select by vote those persons they wish to present as candidates.

I believe that this is nothing like the predominant model in the rest of the world. Here, we could say that millions of Cubans have already voted, given these nomination assemblies or meetings to nominate candidates. On October 21, these same people are convened to go to the polls to elect from among the various candidates who they themselves nominated. The candidates are elected, not designated. They are not there as a result of an electoral machine.

On the basis of what characteristics or qualities are they chosen?

Obviously, there is propaganda in the newspapers or on television talks about supporting the best, the most capable. But the reality, for example, is that neighbors raise their hands in assemblies that take place in all the neighborhoods, and propose someone who they consider to be representative. Or, they might propose themselves, which can be the case and has happened before. If something abounds in Cuba, it’s elections. This stage culminates on October 21, and the second round, in those constituencies where no candidate has obtained more than 50% of the vote, on October 28.

In elections in the majority of countries, if a candidates reneges, voters can punish him or her by not voting in the next election. What alternatives do Cuban electors have in this case?

That’s simple: any of the people elected can have their mandate revoked at any time, by those who elected them. In recent years, I have been a [National Assembly] deputy for Plaza de la Revolución municipality. The first time that this happened, in 1993, I was invited, as were other deputies for the area, to take part in the municipal assembly, with the replacement of its president as the main point on the agenda. I sat down with the other participants and there was an intense discussion: some people were not in favor of removing the compañero and spoke wonders about his work. Others severely criticized him. Suddenly, a compañero got up, a man with many years of work in this district, and said, “Let’s leave the drama out of all this, here in Plaza, no president has ever completed a mandate. We’ve replaced all of them.” There is no timeline, no restrictions whatsoever on revoking positions. It can be done at any time, but obviously without this turning into chaos, with us voting every month.

In images disseminated abroad about Cuban elections, there is an attempt to ridicule them by using participation figures which are always high and in many cases, surpass 90%.

I have an explanation for that. When you go to vote in Cuba to elect from among a number of people, and you know that one of them was proposed in your nomination assembly, you know him or her, you feel they are closer to you, this gives you confidence. This is very different from elections in other countries where candidates cover walls with posters and their photos, smiling and promising everything. Secondly, if there’s something easy in Cuba, it’s voting. The polling centers are very close to where people live, one block away or two at the most. This means that many more people participate than in places where the polls are at a distance. The voting register is another thing. If you tour the island today, you will see voters’ lists, on the door of buildings, in grocery stores, in the stores, all subject to public scrutiny and popular control. I go and see if my name is there, and if it isn’t posted, I demand that it be added. But I also see that they’ve put you on it, and so I say to myself, this man is an Argentine and doesn’t live in Havana, and therefore cannot vote here. So when I go out to cast my vote I already know that that so many people identified at the entry by their first and last names are going to vote. Afterwards, at the time for the count, the commission in charge invites neighbors at the doorway of the center to help them count the votes. Let’s compare that with situations in which people don’t know how many people can vote where they vote, nor how many people voted, or even what the result is. (Extracted from Tiempo argentino)

 

One of the Cuban Five Seen By His Sons

October 18, 2012
( The constant happiness Antonio transmitting to others so they do not feel concerned, is something that surprises his children. From left to right: Tonito, Gabriel, Mirta, Tony and his nephew Carlos. Photo: Taken from Cubarte )
Gabriel and Tonito, the sons of Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly held in the US talk to JuventudRebelde about their father in the occasion of his birthday.

By: Susana Gómez Bugallo, Yuniel Labacena Romero  

October 16 is the birthday of Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly held in US penitentiaries. October 16 is the birthday of Tony, the father of two sons who will never get tired of admiring their father for his sensitivity and his big heart. And since many may not know that Antonio and Tony are the same person, we asked his two sons to talk to us about this amazing man.

They would have liked to be with him all the time. But circumstances didn’t let them. They grew up without his physical presence. But still they find consolation and pride in the fact that their father is upholding a just cause.

In all these years of separation, Gabriel and Tonito, “Tony’s” sons have nurtured their souls with letters, poems and the few phone calls Antonio has been allowed to make to his family.

“My dad is an amazing man. I’m prouder to be his son. He is very down to earth. He is always there, ready to teach new things, to be there for you, to give advice. One feels his absence and wishes to be with him and talk to him all the time.”

“I’m always amazed by the constant happiness he transmits us so we don’t get worried. He is always caring about my things at the University, about my grandmother, about things in my house, and that’s praiseworthy, because he remains strong in a difficult situation,” says Gabriel.

Gabriel, Antonio’s youngest son, was born of the relationship of Antonio with Panamanian Niccia Pérez and he has always lived in Panama. He knew very little about the political connotation of the case of the Cuban Five because in Panama, as in other places worldwide, the media have built a wall of silence around them.

Antonio convinced Gabriel to go to college in Cuba. A year later, Gabriel still remembers the first time he walked into a Cuban classroom and is still amazed by the fact that he passed all the subjects of the freshman year of Automation Engineering, a major he finds challenging.

Tonito, Antonio’s older son, says: “My father, despite the distance, has always been there for me. An excellent father; one who knows how to counsel you, regardless of the where and the how, someone who knows how to be there.”

Tonito is a computer engineering graduate who works as a network administrator after completing school. He says that his father was essential in his college education, because he supported him from the prison cell where he is locked away from his family.”
“An example of all the care my father takes for his son is when I started college. I had failed several exams and I have only one chance left to stay on the course. Then I went to visit him and I told him how “entangled”  I was.”

“I don’t know how, but my father managed to get a calculus book in English. On the next visit, a week later, he had already prepared a review that he gave me in the bad conditions of the prison: there were no pencils, no papers, no gestures, no signs. I passed on thanks for his brief explanations and the lectures, which I don’t know where he got them from, that he sent me in the letters.”

Meetings with their father

The meetings with their father were, for Tonito, a reunion with the father he spent all his adolescence thinking that he had gone away and maybe someday would return to be with him or to take him with him; whereas for Gabriel it was the opportunity to see in the flesh and bone the father he had only met through pictures.

“At the beginning there was a heavy silence. We had to break the barrier of many years because no matter how many letters you receive or how many times you talk on the phone, it is not the same when the person is standing in front of you. The sensation of shaking hands, receiving a hug or a kiss…,” says Gabriel as he recalls that first visit.

“We had the opportunity to talk in private about the things I needed to know. He, with his usual patience, explained me everything with honesty. From that day on we are more confident and have grown closer.”

“Now I can say that I truly know my father, although we have always been in touch. Our relationship grew steadily, but now I can see him more profoundly as a person and as a father.”

“I was surprised to see how he remains in high spirits despite being in prison. When one arrives in that gloomy place, and meets with this man full of life, one feels encouraged. Anyone else in his place would have sunk into depression. He doesn’t. The poems, the paintings and the letters have helped him through this ordeal,” Gabriel says.

Tonito remembers that athletic man that used to take him to play baseball and basketball and always made time for him. But the pictures and the memories have little to do with the reality awaiting him in the visits.

“It is really painful to see how pressure and bad treatment deteriorate a person in prison. He has lost hair, his gums are damaged, his skin is very pale. It is one of the things that hurt me most. I say this too for my grandmother, who underwent hip surgery.”

During the visit, despite all the laughter and the harmony we have created, we can see that the years have passed,” he says.

Being the children of Antonio Guerrero is a privilege life has given to Gabriel and Tonito. A father so sensitive and brave means encouragement to go on, even in a situation that has affected their everyday life. But not everyone can adjust to a situation like that.

The last day of the visits to prison is the toughest one for the family: “When you leave and you see him there, you want to take him with you, although you know you can’t. How is it possible that a person with so many values and good feelings has to stay there? It tears your soul apart,” says Gabriel.

“We can’t hold back the tears, because it is not easy to see him come out the door dressed in the inmate’s uniform,” says Tonito with a teary voice, and he recalls he was in high school when he learned his father’s true story.

“My life turned over; I realized what was the cause of everything and I became aware of who my father really was. It answered many questions such as: why he left? if he was a good person, why wasn’t he by my side? And it also justified all his absences on my birthdays, graduations and family gatherings, where I used to have him before,” Tonito recalls.

A source of inspiration and pride

“My father has always told me to be myself. I’m just like the next Cuban and wherever I go, I try to be that way. I don’t live off his name. Some people think I benefit from the fact my father is a Hero of the Republic. Other expect more from me for who my father is, than for who I am.

To all these things, all I have to say is : Would you like your father to be in prison?

“My dad left everything he had to fight for the Revolution. Those are his principles and if this is what he decided to do, I support him; I don’t live off that. I tried to be like my father, but I’m no hero, I just represent him wherever needs be, “ says Tonito.

“I’ve juggled study, work, daily activities and everything young people do with the battle for the return of my father and his comrades. There are no concessions with me, they treat me like any other student, but I’m committed to fight for the truth of my father that put him in jail.”

“We need to put an end to injustice. When you see people struggling with diseases like my grandmother is, and thinking about the days she has left to see her son free, it is really heart-breaking.”

She is very strong, she never complains and it encourages us to go on. I couldn’t be prouder now of whom my father is,” Gabriel says.

And Tony is equally proud of his two sons from his prison cell. A prison cell that is shaken by the strength of love. An imprisonment that the hero come artist fights from his pinnacle.

Translated by ESTI

“Cuba Needs to Be Bold and Creative”

October 17, 2012
Patricia Grogg

Cuba has been steeped in a profound economic crisis over the last 20 years, and no short-term solution to the accumulated problems can be expected, says Cuban professor and researcher Ricardo Torres.

Whoever expects overnight success from the “Economic and Social Policy Guidelines” of the country’s ruling Communist Party, the document that serves as a virtual road map for the reformsthat are being implemented by President Raúl Castro, “knows nothing about the social sciences, and is sending the wrong message,” Torres says in this interview with IPS.

Ricardo Torres: “What Cuba needs is a vision for the future, and a break with many dogmas”. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Q: Is the pace of reform slow solely due to a government decision, or is it also because of other internal and external factors?

A: I do not totally agree with the opinion that the pace of change is slow. It depends on how you look at the process.

If we understand that everything stemming from the Party “Guidelines” is a process of social change, then we have to remember that the guidelines are less than two years old, which is not a long time in these cases.

If we are judging from the standpoint of the needs and aspirations of the great majority of Cubans, I would even say of the government, then yes, it might be slow. There are elements of the internal process that are delaying the changes enormously, and the first of these is inexperience in dealing with unprecedented changes.

Q: What internal factors are hindering these changes?

A: This is something that has been referred to many times, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it again. People’s minds are the hardest thing to change, and if they have done something a certain way for 50 years, it is not easy for them to agree to do it differently in a short amount of time. In fact, in some cases, that learning process will be impossible.

There is also the question of interests. The changes are affecting certain groups and segments of the population, which, therefore, are going to oppose them, using whatever resources they have within their reach to prevent or at least hinder their progress. It is a natural reaction by people to protect themselves against whatever may affect them.

Q: Is the external context also a factor? How?

A: From an international standpoint, there are many aspects that are holding back change in Cuba. The first is U.S. foreign policy, which is not helping the Cuban people, because it is based on the false assumption that the only good and positive thing for this country is regime change as they (the U.S. authorities) understand it.

That is an assumption that is valid for Washington but not for the lives of the Cuban people. This country needs to change everything that should change, but it will do so to serve its own interest and to benefit society, not because a foreign government thinks it is important for us to do this or that.

The way that U.S. policy is currently designed, it does nothing to favour this process of transformations that the island is going through, and it is creating resistance among certain groups in the government and in the population. Moreover, it is hindering economic and social development, because it puts Cuba at a disadvantage for competing in the international market.[related_articles]

Q: Are we talking about the embargo?

A: I’m an economist, not a politician, and what I can say responsibly is that the U.S. blockade is having an adverse effect on Cuba’s economy and society, which is impossible to ignore.

Every year, it is costing the Cuban people money and quality of life.

What we cannot say is that all of Cuba’s problems are because of the U.S. blockade. And the blockade is not responsible for all of the bad decisions that we have made in the last 50 years in certain areas.

Q: The situation is difficult for the Cuban population. Many say they are pessimistic, and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. How can a consensus be maintained under these types of circumstances?

A: I see a way out, and this is a very personal opinion. For us, the key is to be bold and creative. It could be the case that we see ourselves locked into a vicious circle that requires an unexpected, radical decision, which may seem to break the consensus. If it is in the country’s long-term interest, it will have to be done and explained.

I am thinking about our relationship with the United States, our attitude toward private enterprise, effective and real decentralisation of decision-making, and the way that national or international economic relations are sometimes coordinated or governed in general. All of this requires a major change in mentality.

Q: Do you think that Cuba has the conditions needed for development?

A: Yes, of course, for growing and developing. What is needed is strategy, a vision for the future, and a break with many dogmas that are ever-present in most cases.

Q: Would you say political will exists for that?

A: Yes, I think it does, and there is also the legitimate aspiration of the entire Cuban people. Proof of that political will is that we are seeing a new, more pragmatic vision today, one that is more in keeping with reality and more flexible in decision-making and that takes the island’s real conditions more into account.

In addition, academia is playing a more important role in decision-making. I think this is a felicitous initiative of this process of change. Of course, we are not always satisfied with the level of participation that we have, and we want more.

Given that we devote ourselves full-time to investigating certain issues that are important to Cuba, we want that knowledge to be used, because in the end, our interest as economists — as I see it, the majority of us — is for our country to progress and for all of its inhabitants to have more comfortable, fuller lives.

IPS

Cuba’s migration policy updated

October 17, 2012

As part of the work undertaken to update the current migration policy adjusting it to prevailing conditions in the present and the foreseeable future, the Cuban government has decided to forgo the required Travel Permit as well as the Letter of Invitation.

Therefore, as from January 14th, 2013, it will only be necessary to submit the ordinary passport, duly updated, and the visa issued by the country of destination, in those cases when it is required. The ordinary passport will be issued to the Cuban citizens who meet the requirements of the Migration Law, as modified in compliance with these provisions. Such Law will come into effect ninety days after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba.

Those already in possession of an ordinary passport, issued before this decision is valid, should request from the corresponding authorities of the Ministry of the Interior its updating absolutely free of charge. Likewise, those with a valid Travel Permit will be able to depart without any additional procedure.

It has also been decided that Cuban residents travelling overseas on private affairs will be permitted to remain there for a period of twenty-four months, counting from the date of departure. For a longer stay, they will be required to obtain the corresponding evidence of extension of stay from a Cuban consulate.

The updating of the migration policy takes into account the right of the revolutionary state to defend itself from the aggressive and subversive plans of the US government and its allies. For this reason, those measures aimed at preserving the human capital created by the Revolution from the theft of talents practiced by the powerful nations shall remain in force.

In due course, other measures related to the migratory issue will be adopted that will certainly help in the consolidation of the efforts being made by the Revolution towards the full normalization of Cuba’s relations with its emigrants.

Today, the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba is publishing the Law Decree of the State Council modifying the current Migration Law as well as other supplementary regulations.

Additional information on the procedures required by the law and other specificities concerning the country’s migration policy are available to the people at the Dirección de Inmigración y Extranjería and its voice message through phone number 2063218; Portal del Ciudadano Cubano: http://www.ciudadano.cu; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba: http://www.cubaminrex.cu.

CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS REVELATIONS: KENNEDY’S SECRET APPROACH TO CASTRO

October 13, 2012

( photo: Robert Kennedy at an Executive Committee meeting during the missile crisis )

DECLASSIFIED RFK DOCUMENTS YIELD NEW INFORMATION ON BACK-CHANNEL TO FIDEL CASTRO TO AVOID NUCLEAR WAR

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 395
Posted – October 12, 2012
Edited by Peter Kornbluh

Washington, D.C., October 12, 2012 — On the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, new documents from the Robert Kennedy papers declassified yesterday and posted today by the National Security Archive reveal previously unknown details of the Kennedy administration’s secret effort to find an accord with Cuba that would remove the Soviet missiles in return for a modus vivendi between Washington and Havana.

The 2700 pages of RFK papers opened yesterday include the first proposed letter to “Mr. F.C.,” evaluated by the Executive Committee of advisors to Kennedy on October 17th–just one day after the president learned of the existence of the Soviet missiles in Cuba. The draft letter, available to historians for the first time, initiated a chain of events that led to a complicated back-channel diplomacy between Washington and Havana at the height of what Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger called “the most dangerous moment in human history.”

The Archive’s Cuba analyst, Peter Kornbluh, who was the first person to review the RFK papers at the Kennedy Library, noted that the documents “reinforce the key historical lesson of the missile crisis: the need and role for creative diplomacy to avoid the threat of nuclear Armageddon.” Kornbluh noted that the State Department’s own official historians, referring to the initial letter to Castro, had admitted that “none of these drafts have been found.” The fact that the Robert Kennedy papers have yielded new information previously undiscovered by the government’s own researchers, Kornbluh said, “underscores the historical importance of this declassification on the 50th anniversary of the crisis.”

The Archive also posted two diagrams Robert Kennedy drew on his notepad during the crisis deliberations, including his initial tally of the “hawks” and the “doves” as Kennedy’s advisors took positions on diplomacy vs. the use of force against Cuba.

The draft letter warned Castro that by deploying the ballistic missiles the Soviets had “raised grave issues for Cuba. To serve their interests they have justified the Western Hemisphere countries in making an attack on Cuba which would lead to the immediate overthrow of your regime.” Moreover, according to this proposed communication, Nikita Khrushchev was quietly hinting that he would betray Cuba by trading concessions on Berlin for “Soviet abandonment of Cuba.” Warning that failure to remove the missiles would lead to U.S. “measures of vital significance for the future of Cuba,” the message offered an oblique carrot of negotiations for better relations once the Soviets and their weapons of mass destruction were gone.

During the early deliberations of how to respond to the missiles in Cuba Kennedy’s top advisors pressed him to reject this message to Cuba because it would undermine the option of a surprise U.S. air attack on the island. After Kennedy decided on an interim option of a naval quarantine of Cuba to buy time for diplomacy to convince the Soviets to withdraw the missiles, he ordered the State Department to come up with diplomatic alternatives to attacking Cuba.

In an October 25 memorandum, titled “Political Path,” the State Department submitted a series of creative options for resolving the crisis peacefully, including allowing the United Nations to take control of both the Soviet missile bases in Cuba and the U.S. missile bases in Turkey. The document also provided an outline for an “approach to Castro” through Brazil, with a message to Castro underscoring his options: “the overthrow of his regime, if not its physical destruction,” or “assurances, regardless of whether we intended to carry them out, that we would not ourselves undertake to overthrow the regime” if he expelled both the missiles and the Russians.

During an Excomm meeting on October 26, Kennedy actually approved a version of this message to be sent to Castro, albeit disguised as a Brazilian peace initiative sent by the government of populist president Joao Goulart, rather than one from Washington. The draft cable, published here for the first time, instructed the Brazilians to secretly carry the message to Castro that his regime and the “well-being of the Cuban people” were in “great jeopardy” if he didn’t expel the Russians and their weapons. If he did, however, “many changes in the relations between Cuba and the OAS countries, including the U.S., could flow.”

By the time the Brazilian emissary arrived in Havana on October 29th, however, the urgency and relevance of Kennedy’s Brazilian back-channel message had been eclipsed by events. On October 28, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles–in return for a Kennedy’s public pledge not to invade Cuba, and the President’s secret promise to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey sometime in the near future.

For more than 40 years, the details of Kennedy’s approach to Castro remained Top Secret. In 2004, based on declassified documents found in the archives of the Brazilian foreign ministry and the Excomm tapes, George Washington University historian James Hershberg published the first comprehensive account of the furtive diplomatic initiative in the Journal of Cold War Studies. An abbreviated account of the Castro approach, written by Peter Kornbluh, appears in the November 2012 issue of Cigar Aficionado. The story is also recounted in Kornbluh’s forthcoming book (with William LeoGrande), Talking with Castro: The Untold History of Dialogue between the United States and Cuba.

Read today’s posting at the National Security Archive website – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB395/

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Unredacted, the Archive blog – http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.


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