Archive for January, 2013

Speech of Cuban President, Raul Castro, at the CELAC Summit

January 31, 2013

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CELAC has emerged from the heritage of 200 years of struggle for independence and is based on a profound community of objectives
Speech given by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the 1st Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Santiago de Chile, January 28, 2013

Your Excellency Mr. Sebastián Piñera, President of the Republic of Chile:
Esteemed Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of Delegation:
Sister people of Chile:

Let it be my first thought to honor the memory of Salvador Allende, a distinguished Latin American and patriot who gave up his life for the independence of his nation and social justice. We think like him, when he said, “History is ours and is made by the peoples.”

The existence of CELAC allowed us to face the challenges of 2012 with more awareness of who we are and where we are headed, in the midst of volatile and complicated circumstances.

We are building, in harsh reality, laboriously, the ideal of a diverse Latin America and Caribbean, but united in a common forum of political independence, of sovereign control over our enormous natural resources in order to advance toward sustainable development, regional integration and enrichment of our culture.
The obstacles have not been, nor will be, minor. Threats to peace are growing and interference in the affairs of our region continues. The transnationals, fundamentally United States ones, are not going to relinquish control of energy and water resources and strategic minerals on the way to extinction. NATO’s strategic conception is constantly more aggressive and clearly directed in this context. Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the enormous nuclear and conventional arsenals are growing and these, as Fidel has said, cannot kill hunger or poverty.

The international economic order is unjust and exclusive, and trapped in a global crisis to which, for now, no solution can de discerned. Climate change is advancing inexorably, given the lack of political will on the part of developed countries.

Without our unity, nothing is possible and everything achieved will be lost. In the so-called Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Our America took a decisive step, based on the solid foundations of Mar del Plata where, in 2005, the FTAA was defeated. With the dissipation of United States siren songs at the 2009 Summit in Trinidad & Tobago, Latin America and the Caribbean excelled in their unity and independence when they reclaimed the Malvinas as Argentine and demanded an end to the blockade and exclusion of Cuba, an event that the Cuban people will always remember with profound gratitude.

The exercise of self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples and the sovereign equality of states established in the Caracas Declaration, are CELAC principles which cannot be waived.

We know that among us there are distinct ways of thinking and even differences, but CELAC has emerged from the heritage of 200 years of struggle for independence and is based on a profound community of objectives. Thus, CELAC is not a succession of mere meetings or pragmatic agreements, but a shared vision of the Latin American and Caribbean Patria Grande (Greater Homeland), which is owed only to its peoples.

The unquestionable victories won by the patriotic forces in the presidential and regional elections in Venezuela and recent mobilizations demonstrate the exceptional leadership of President Hugo Chávez Frías, and the enormous popular support for the Venezuelan process. Alongside the pain and concerns related to the health of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, this sister people is giving, together with Chávez government leaders, an outstanding example of loyalty, conviction and unity with which to further confirm their irreversible victories.

The Bolivarian government is facing a constant campaign of intrigue and discredit on the part of the empire and pro-coup oligarchy; but it has continued its work, dedicated to the defense of the legitimate interests of workers and all patriotic Venezuelans, of the Constitution and its revolutionary democracy.

From here, we reiterate to Chávez our affection, respect and admiration, and to his valiant people, who are fighting for the greatest sum of political stability, social security and the greatest sum of happiness, the dream of the Liberator Simón Bolívar.

We share and support the resolution and expediency with which UNASUR has acted in response to the parliamentary coup in Paraguay. In a region which has suffered decades of bloody dictatorships, imposed and sustained by the United States, impunity for violent and pro-coup sectors cannot be allowed.

Our community is incomplete while lacking a seat for Puerto Rico, a genuinely Latin American and Caribbean sister nation, which is suffering from its colonial condition.

We cannot forget that close to 170 million Latin Americans and Caribbean people are living in poverty, of them, 75 million children; 66 million people in the region are living in extreme poverty, of which 34 million are minors. What can CELAC signify for them?

It is a fact that we have advanced in the development of economic and social development programs within various countries, such as Brazil. The experience of ALBA and PETROCARIBE in cooperation based on solidarity and complementarity among our nations is considerable.

CELAC is in a position to draft its own conception of cooperation, adapted to our realities and the finest experiences of the last decade.

Despite advances, we could do more in support of Haiti, whose government needs resources for reconstruction and development. It is possible to do this among all of us, on the basis of decisions made by the Haitian government.

We are morally bound to achieve considerable progress in education as the basis of economic and social development. Nothing that we propose, from decreasing inequality to reducing the technological and digital gap will be possible without education. The elimination of illiteracy, as a primary goal, is totally achievable.

With appropriate policies and regional cooperation in the provision of a minimum of resources to the most in need, we could make a leap forward within a few years.

We must be capable of promoting our own regional architecture, adapted to the particularities and needs of Latin America and the Caribbean.

We can also combine efforts against drug addiction, as proposed in the last two days of this meeting, and illicit drug trafficking.

It was stated here yesterday that there are drugs in all the countries of the continent. I want to clarify that there are no drugs in Cuba; there was an attempt to introduce them, more than 250 foreigners from different countries on the continent have been detained (*) for attempting to smuggle in drugs. There is just a small amount of marijuana, which can be cultivated on any balcony in any Cuban city; but there are no drugs, nor will there be.

I only wish to comment on this issue – departing from the text – that measures can be taken.

As is known, Cuba is not an attractive country for drugs, for drug traffickers; but when tourism began to increase, and this past year we were getting close to three million foreign visitors, it did become a focus of traffickers. Additionally, along our coastline, especially our northern coast, packages of differing sizes and weights began to appear, which traffickers had thrown overboard when pressured or pursued by U.S. agents and, approaching our coasts, by us.

Different currents, especially from the northeast, deposited the packages on our beaches – to a lesser degree in the south. Consumption began to increase and there were citizens of some Latin American countries who began to freely provide, give away, individual portions.

I personally had a meeting with all the bodies which have some relevance to the problem and we made a decision, “We are going to fight drug use, which was beginning to threaten us, tooth and nail.” All the relevant factors were coordinated; we used our mass organizations, closely tied to the people, to our governing party and the government; that is to say, the Cuban Workers Federation, the national campesino association, the Federation of Cuban Women, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. And we appealed to families, saying that the collaboration of the entire country was needed to locate and legally prosecute those beginning to attempt to introduce drugs to our youth, ranging from marijuana to a few samples of cocaine, as we said.

They were arrested. If we want to win, these are the types of problems which must be confronted when they are small, or better yet, before they emerge. This is the best time; if we allow them to gain strength – we said and thought – well, you have the example of other sister countries on the continent. Therefore, the battle must be tooth and nail.

Our laws allow for the death penalty, it has been suspended, but it is on reserve, because once we suspended it and the only thing we accomplished was to encourage aggression and sabotage against our country throughout the last 50 years, as you all know.

I reasoned with my colleagues: there’s the case of Mexico. We deeply love Mexico, we said: Mexico is Mexico, its history, the ties between our countries. We received generous refuge there in 1955 and 1956. Our expedition departed from there, surely violating some Mexican laws, but we never violated our friendship with Mexico and they exercised their right to arrest all of the compañeros, including Fidel. I was one of the few who managed to escape. Given the natural pressure we felt as our departure for Cuba drew near, we left during a small storm, part of a powerful front which almost led to a shipwreck and the death of the 82 expeditionaries on board. We had only one day of calm waters south of the Cayman Islands. The storm was so bad that one of the experienced sailors who was trying, from the prow, on the stormy night of our departure, to see the Cabo Cruz lighthouse in southeast Cuba, was carried away by a wave. We lost almost an hour recovering him, until we finally headed toward the coast and disembarked into a terrible swamp. Before we could get out of it, the dictator Batista’s air force was on to us.

I was reasoning with my colleagues, I was wracking my brain thinking of a solution for Mexico. It is no accident that it is Mexico, not because Mexicans have caused this situation, but rather, as a former Mexican President said during the last century, “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!” This is where the problem lays – the fundamental problem, where drugs are being sent. I have never read about a large operation against traffickers in the United States, I’ve never read about this, just seen films of small gangs of traffickers. And weapons to be sold enter via the same route through which drugs enter; this is the problem.

I spoke about this issue with President Calderón during the Sauipe meeting in Brazil, in 2008, when this magnificent organization which is now celebrating its first meeting, after the foundational meeting in Venezuela, was being developed. I spoke extensively with President Calderón about these issues. We have continued, and continue, to be concerned. But this problem is advancing south like a terrible tide; there are problems in Guatemala, problems in other Central American countries. And I can only give one opinion to those where this nefarious and tragic tide has yet to arrive – because it is truly tragic when drug addicts, as you know, are capable of killing even a family member to obtain money to buy drugs. That’s why our population supports this measure and why it has been easy for us to capture close to 5,000, sentenced according to everything allowed within the Penal Code, and we were mistaken in very few cases, which were resolved immediately.

How? Because of collaboration on the part of the population, which was extremely interested in containing the problem. The lesson we can draw from this, which we suggest to other countries not yet victimized by this scourge – these problems are the types of problems which must be confronted when they first emerge, or better yet, before they emerge. That is why there are not, and will not be, drugs in Cuba.

Forgive my digression on this issue.

As you can see, I also improvise speeches up to two, even three hours, but I don’t want to do that. I did it when I was young, but at this point, I prefer to read my remarks. I don’t criticize those who improvise; the first improviser was my Jefe, Fidel Castro, who has the record for the longest speech ever in the United Nations. He has a record that not even Chávez has beat. (Laughter)
We cannot renounce our demands for the protection of our immigrants, victims of the current situation of xenophobia and discrimination which is worsening in the industrialized world.

We also have the very real opportunity to constitute ourselves on the basis of appropriate and concrete foundations, within a peaceful context, in which we can build on our traditional rejection of nuclear weapons of mass extinction and those being developed today which are increasingly lethal, with the expressed, firm commitment to resolve our differences through peaceful means, through negotiation and dialogue.

I conclude with a heartfelt tribute to José Martí, today – as compañero Maduro has said – on the 160th anniversary of his birth. We have learned from his thinking that in difficult times such as these, “The trees must form ranks to keep the giant with seven-league boots from passing! It is the time of mobilization, of marching together, and we must go forward in close ranks, like silver in the veins of the Andes.”

Thank you very much.

(*) Of the number mentioned, 114 currently remain imprisoned.

Latest Book on the Cuban Five Launched in Havana

January 31, 2013

Libro Los últimos soldados de la Guerra Fría.-g

By: Nyliam Vázquez García

A Spanish version of Brazilian writer and journalist Fernando Morais’ latest book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War about the Cuban Five was presented Tuesday within the framework of the Third International Conference on World Balance on-going from January 28 to 30 at Havana’s International Conference Center.

Based on over 40 interviews and documents of the governments of the United States and Cuba, the book provides significant insight into the life and work of Gerardo, Rene, Antonio, Fernando and Ramon, and their unwavering resolution to not give up their revolutionary principles despite being unjustly held in US jails for almost 15 years now.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Brazilian theologian and writer Frei Betto attended the book presentation that took place at Havana’s International Conference Centre, as part of the ongoing Third International Conference on World Equilibrium, which marks the 160th anniversary of the birth of Cuban National Hero Jose Marti while promoting the revolutionary ideals and the validity of Jose Marti’s visionary thinking in today’s world.

Commenting on the book, Frei Betto noted that Morais, widely known for dealing with controversial topics, succeeded in providing profound insight into the injustices being committed against Cuban Five, in a way understandable not only to those familiar with the Cuban Revolution but to everyone across the world.

Speaking at the book presentation ceremony, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada also commended Morais’ work, saying he is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers of our times.

Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada said Morais does not need another best-seller to establish his writing career. He dedicated, however, three years of his life to going through thousands of documents and long hours of interviewing to put this valuable reference book together.

Its more than 300 pages bring readers closer to the human life of the Cuban Five, one of its greatest assets being the fact it presents the heroes not only as antiterrorist fighters but also as flesh and blood people and family men.

During the ceremony, the author of Olga, The King of Brazil and Montenegro gave Ricardo Alarcon a bottle of Brazil’s best eau-de-vie as a token of appreciation, saying it is his wish that Cuban Five Rene returns soon to Cuba so that they can all make a toast together.

Meanwhile, Ramon’s wife Elizabeth Palmeiro thanked Fernando Morais for his human approach to the Five, and spoke highly of the originality and enjoyable way in which the book is written. She said she’s confident that this work will help break the wall of silence surrounding the case of the Five.

Internationally known as the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez were arrested and given harsh sentences for monitoring anti-Cuba extremist groups in South Florida that were planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against the island.
Originally written in Portuguese, Morais’ The Last Soldiers of the Cold War recently received the Brasilia Literature Award in the category of report at the First Book and Literature Biennial held in that Brazilian city.

To conclude Cuban-born journalist residing in Miami Max Lesnik read messages sent by the Cuban Five thanking the support and the many displays of solidarity they continue receiving from every corner in the world.

Translated by ESTI

Solidarity with Cuba, a Constant at CELAC Summit

January 30, 2013

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President Chavez sends letter to the CELAC summit in which he says that Cuba’s pro-tempore presidency of the CELAC shows U.S. attempts to isolate it have failed.
By: Juventud Rebelde

Cuba was a recurrent topic in the speeches of heads of state and foreign ministers taking part in the first session of the Summit of the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC) currently underway in Chile, Prensa Latina has reported.

In a letter sent by Venezuelan President of Hugo Chávez, which was read by Executive Vice-president Nicolás Maduro, Chávez spoke of the importance of Cuba assuming the pro-tempore presidency of CELAC.

By choosing Cuba as the leader of CELAC, Latin America and the Caribbean are telling the United States that all its attempts to isolate Cuba have failed and will fail.

Fate decreed that, and that is how it will go down in history, Cuba assumes the pro tempore presidency of CELAC the same day as the 160th anniversary of the birth of Jose Marti, one the greatest Bolivarians of all times, the letter reads.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega called for the blockade the U.S. has imposed on Cuba for over 50 years to be lifted and demanded the freedom of the five Cuban anti-terrorism fighters unjustly held in penitentiaries in the United States.

A similar call was made by Peru’s President Ollanta Humala who demanded the end of the blockade and greeted the 160th anniversary of the birth of Cuba’s National Hero Jose Marti.

Uruguayan President José Mujica stressed the assistance provided for a long time by Cuban doctors amidst difficult conditions.

For his part, President of Haiti Michel Martelly concluded his speech paying tribute to Jose Marti by calling him a martyr who is at the core of the unity of Latin American and the Caribbean.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño spoke on behalf of his government and said that he believed the Cuban Government will strengthen the CELAC work during their presidency.

The English-speaking Caribbean also took the floor to support Cuba. Foreign Ministers of Barbados and Jamaica, Maxine McClean and Arnold Nicholson expressed their solidarity with Cuba. Arnold said that he fully support President Raul Castro in his leadership of the new organization of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Translated by ESTI

The US must release the Cuban five from their imperialist jails

January 29, 2013

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by Phatse Justice Piitso who says their continued incarcaration a crime against humanity

The unjust incarceration of the five Cuban heroes by the US imperialism is a crime against humanity

On the occasion of the January 8 rally this year the President of the ANC and our Republic, Cde Jacob Zuma, reiterated a clarion call to the people of our country and the world, to intensify the campaign for the immediate end of the US led economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba and the release of the five Cuban heroes. The statement to demand for the immediate end of the US led economic blockade against the people of Cuba and the release of the Cuban five heroes by our National Executive Committee, is consistent with the historic traditions of our movement to embrace working class solidarity and internationalism.

The statement by the National Executive Committee of the ANC has confirmed that our liberation movement is still part of the progressive struggles of the people of the world to emancipate themselves from the acrimonious system of imperialism and neo colonialism. Therefore our solidarity with the struggles of the people of Cuba against the US led aggression on the sovereignty of their state, is part of our contribution to the noble cause of human solidarity and internationalism.

Our campaign to demand for the immediate end of the US economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba and the release of the Cuban five, is part of the traditions to consolidate the unity of the working class struggles and solidarity against the brutality of the system of imperialism and colonialism. The struggles of the people of Cuba against the US aggression and imperialism represents the vanguard struggles of the international working class.

In other words the victory of the struggles of the people of Cuba to against the US led economic blockade and the release of the five Cuban heroes, will be a victory of the people of the world against imperialist domination and colonial exploitation. Our contribution to the noble cause of the struggles of the heroic people of Cuba, is a contribution to the solidarity of the international working class to create a better world for humanity.There is no nobler a cause than to serve the working class.

The people of our mother continent and our country in particular will forever appreciate the generosity and the heroic contribution of the Cuban revolution to our own struggles for liberation. The common purpose and fulfillment of the Cuban people to the cause of liberating our continent from the shackles of imperialism and colonialism cannot be measured by any historical period. Three of the five heroes serving lengthy prison sentences in the imperialist jails on the US soil, fought side by side with the liberation movements of our continent during our struggles against the racist apartheid regime in Angola.

They understood the teachings of their Commander in Chief Fidel Castro that the struggles of the people of the African Continent was part of the struggles for freedom and equality of the people of Latin America and the whole world. They understood the objective circumstances that the liberation of the African people from the yoke of imperialism and colonialism was an obligation to fulfill human solidarity. They understood that the struggles of the people of the African Continent represent the vanguard struggles of the international proletariat.

The five Cuban heroes continue to be the living exemplary of working class solidarity and internationalism from the deep end of the American prison walls. Last year the five Cuban heroes and the leaders of our future, wrote a courageous letter of solidarity on behalf of the people of Cuba and the world, to one of the world most longest serving political prisoner languishing in the American jails.

The letter by the five Cuban heroes to the Puerto Rican freedom fighter, Oscar Lopez Rivera, who is serving 33 years of his life sentence for leading the struggle the freedom and sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico against US imperialism reads as follows ”

With the same unyielding and moral spirit that we share in common, we send you our strongest hug of solidarity as we reiterate our admiration and affection.

Oscar needs all the solidarity we can give him, and he is an example to follow by current and future generations of Puerto Ricans.

Men like Oscar are indispensable if we are to build a society for human beings, which has encouraged the noblest actions ever, since history began to be written”.

The archives of our history books will record the contents of the letter of the five Cuban heroes to Oscar Lopez Rivera, as a letter which has distinguished them from the rest of the human race to be the best teachers of working class solidarity and internationalism in the current epoch of our struggles. Their courage against repression and abuse of human rights represent the humane posture and character of the Cuban revolution to the people of the world.

Indeed the five Cuban heroes, Oscar Lopez Rivera and many other brave men and women across the whole world serving harsh prison sentences for the noble cause of the freedom and dignity of our own people, need all the solidarity we can give, as they are the example to be followed by current and future generations to come. Men and women like them, are the most indispensable if we are to build a society for human beings, which has encouraged the noblest actions ever, since history began to be written.

The 26 July movement under the leadership of the rebel army and the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution Fidel led a victorious revolution that saw the collapse of the most repressive regime of the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. During the period of the reign of terror by the dictator thousands of innocent people of Cuba were exposed to the most gruesome forms of atrocities and abuse of human rights. The repressive Batista regime became the epicenter of the worst forms of violation of the rights of man in the history of the world.

There was no freedom of expression and association. The regime banned all political parties and immediately suspended the constitution of the country. The organized workers were not allowed to join trade union and or strike. US imperialism made him to be an opium of the people, the alpha and omega of the affairs of the Cuban nation.

The dictator Batista was manipulated by wealthiest American business people who owned vast tracks of commercial lands and the Cuban sugar and cigar industry. He was also committing all these economic crimes in collaboration with the American mafia gangs who controlled the drug, gambling and and prostitution business empires in Havana. The mismanagement of the Cuban economy by the American business interest led to severe socio economic living conditions of the people.

As a result of the deteriorating socio economic contradictions the regime embarked on a massive crackdown to suppress the growing discontent and mobilization of the people. Secrete police service was unleashed to kill thousands of members of the Cuban communist party. There was a wide scale of violence, torture and public executions by the regime throughout Cuba. Thousands of innocent people were massacred by the regime under the dictator with the support of the American government.

The political repression and the deteriorating socio economic conditions in the country led to the triumph of the Cuban revolution that overthrew Batista in 1959. The triumph of the Cuban revolution against the dictator regime of Batista subsequently led to the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution by the Commander in Chief in 1961.

The historic declaration of the first socialist state at the door step of the American shores followed the attempted failure by the US sponsored mercenaries to invade the Cuban revolution during the victorious battle of Playa Giron. The triumph of the revolutionary forces at Playa Giron against the US led invasion signified an important step in the process that led for the unity and cohesion of the Cuban revolution and the people. Play Giron was the first military defeat of the US imperialism in the Latin America.

The humiliation of the US imperialism during the battle of Playa Giron led to the US administration imposing unilateral economic blockade against the peaceful Cuban revolution and its people. The economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba was a reaction by the successive American administrations to oppose the popular will and the support of the Cuban people to the first socialist state in the Americas. The battle of Playa Giron signified the victory of the people of Cuba against the aggression of imperialism and American colonialism.

Since the declaration of the socialist proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution, the United States through its sponsored mercenaries has been involved in acts of conspiracy to undermine the sovereignty of the Cuban state. The revolutionary government and the people of Cuba have been subjected to endless threads, sanctions, invasions, sabotage and violent attacks by the US sponsored mercenaries that resulted in more than three thousands loss of innocent lifes and many people wounded.

In one of the worst crimes against humanity, seventy three people were killed when a bomb exploded aboard a commercial airliner carrying people in 1976. The people behind this horrible criminal act were two CIA mercenaries of Cuban origin staying in Miami, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, who were never held accountable by the US administration.

The collapse of the soviet block and the communist states in the Eastern Europe changed the balance of forces in the world. The collapse severely weakened the economies of all nation states like Cuba, who most of their exports and imports depended on the Russian economy. To aggravate conditions to the worse, the US sponsored mercenaries started to be involved in acts of conspiracy and sabotage to cripple the growing Cuban tourist industry.

The conspiracy was to commence on a violent campaign targeting tourist hotels and resorts, buses, airports, and other facilities to destroy the booming industry. As a consequence of the sabotage campaign against the revolution and its people, a bomb planted by the US sponsored mercenaries exploded in the lobby of a hotel in Havana killing an innocent Italian tourist. Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon, a citizen of El Salvador, who confessed to have been hired and paid thousands of dollars by the US sponsored mercenaries was arrested.

As a result of the escalating heinous acts of sabotage and conspiracy against the revolution and its innocent people, the Commander in Chief deployed the five Cuban heroes to Miami to counterpose the activities of the organizations involved the acts of sabotage against the republic of Cuba. The determination of the five Cuban heroes to protect their revolution and its people, saw them accessing concrete evidence proving the involvement of US sponsored mercenaries to the acts of sabotage against their revolutionary state.

After receiving evidence from the five heroes about the involvement of the US sponsored mercenaries in these acts of sabotage against the Cuban revolution, the Commander in Chief sent his personal emissary, to deliver a hand written letter to the then President of the USA Bill Clinton in 1998. In the letter Cde Fidel was asking the US President Bill Clinton to persecute the people implicated in the terrorist activities against the Cuban revolution. But instead of arresting the terrorist involved, even if there was enough evidence given to the US administration, the FBI arrested the very same Cuban heroes, who were involved in gathering the information exposing the crimes and activities of individuals and organizations involved in acts of sabotage against the revolutionary state of Cuba.

The five Cuban heroes and leaders of our tomorrow, Cdes Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Rene González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort were sentenced to maximum prison terms for the crime of exposing syndicates involved in international terrorist activities against their own revolution and its people. Most of this revolutionaries were involved in the struggles for the liberation of the southern African region from the fascist apartheid regime.

In a letters commemorating the 11th anniversary of his incarceration and his fellow comrades, Antonio Querrero Rodriquez writes as follows ”

Dear friends:

On June 8th eleven years ago, we were declared guilty of all charges by a jury in the city of Miami, where we could never have received an impartial and fair trial.

I think one of us heard something on the Miami radio, or perhaps on television, on the 7th we were pretty certain that the verdict would be the following day. And, indeed, they came to wake us around 4 a.m. to take us to the Court.

We knew not to expect anything good. The members of the jury had barely taken any time to arrive at their decision. Despite that, I remember vividly, in none of us Five was there the slightest bit of defeatism, in fact, just the opposite. We went with our heads high as we sat down before that jury, which obviously had heard only the version of the facts fabricated by the prosecutors, and they had not even expressed one doubt in arriving at their conclusion.

What would the jury’s deliberations have been like, if there had been any doubt?

What could be expected of a jury that felt an immense pressure on them from the very day they were selected?

A jury whose vehicle license plates were filmed. A jury that was told not to read the press nor discuss what was published with anybody (and now we know about all that was published by the [U.S.-] paid journalists), but who went to their homes every day. A jury in which some of their family members had links with government entities. A jury whose foreman came to sit next to Basulto, one of the many admitted terrorists in Miami, on the day of Gerardo’s sentencing, and he was visibly euphoric.

I remember that night of the 8th I wrote a poem, inspired by that thought of our Apostol, José Martí:

“Truth is like a colossal arm, which raises justice up where the avarice of men cannot reach.”

One day after that colossal injustice, our Commander-in-Chief Fidel informed our people and the world of our situation.

Thus began an unstoppable, long and difficult battle to bring us home to our homeland, a battle in which loyal friends of Cuba from around the world have joined together with our people.

Nothing can hold back that great wave of solidarity that grows more each day.

Truth is ours.

There never was nor will there ever be defeatism.

Venceremos!

We are encouraged by the revolutionary words of wisdom and solidarity from Cde Antonio, indeed truth is like a colossal arm, which raises justice up where the avarice of man cannot reach. Nothing can hold back the great wave of solidarity that grows more each day.

The episode about the Cuban five is the most gruesome untold story of the brutality of the US led imperialism and the continued phenomenon of violation of fundamental Human rights across the world. Freedom and equality of the people of the world will be incomplete as long as these five heroes and many other freedom fighters across the world are still languishing in jails.

The international community has a moral obligation to rise to the occasion and declare the continuous US led economic blockade against Cuba and the incarceration of the five Cuban heroes as a crime against humanity. We support the worldwide movement and campaign for the immediate end of the US led economic blockade against the Republic of Cuba and the release of the Cuban five. The freedom of the people of Cuba and the five Cuban heroes is the freedom and dignity of the people the world.

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former ambassador to the Republic of Cuba and former provincial secretary of the SACP in Limpopo writing this article on his personal capacity.

What is the U.S. Government Afraid of?

January 24, 2013

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In 2001 Gerardo Hernandez was condemned to two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to commit murder for the shooting down of two planes of Brothers to the Rescue. Gerardo had nothing to do with the shooting down of these planes on February 24, 1996 and the U.S. Government could present no evidence to the contrary. That was a decision of the Cuban Government in defense of its sovereignty after 26 violations of Cuba’s airspace by this group.

Despite the fact that Gerardo had nothing to do with this incident, the proof of the place where the planes fell holds the key information to this unfortunate episode caused by Brothers to the Rescue. The evidence of NASA satellite images from that day could exonerate Gerardo. Well within his rights, he has requested the U.S. government to present evidence for which he was condemned by that false charge. To this day the U.S. has refused to do so.

Why is it that the U.S. government continues to hide such crucial evidence? It alleges that the aircraft fell in international waters. Cuba has reiterated with sufficient evidence before international organizations that the aircraft fell in waters within Cuban jurisdiction.

If the US government had the basis to indict Gerardo, why is it hiding the satellite images after 17 years? What is the United State governments afraid of?

Satellite Images Demand Goes to Reluctant Circuit

Friday, January 11, 2013

By MATT REYNOLDS

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/01/11/53847.htm

PASADENA, Calif. (CN) – There is no reason for the U.S. government to shield the existence of satellite images showing the Cuban government shoot down airplanes, a group told the 9th Circuit.

In 2010, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed a federal complaint under the Freedom of Information Act against NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The group wants access to any satellite pictures taken on Feb. 24, 1996, of an area near the north coast of Cuba, where Cuban MiGs shot down two aircraft flown by Cuban exiles in the group Brothers to the Rescue, killing four U.S. citizens.

The center believes that such information is critical to a Habeas Corpus petition for Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving life in prison based on charges that he fed Cuba the information that led to the 1996 shooting.

Hernandez belongs to a group of Cuban men known as the Cuban Five, detained for spying on Brothers to the Rescue on American soil.

After Hernandez was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, an appeals court briefly overturned the convictions against him and his compatriots. The full 11th Circuit eventually reinstated the convictions, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari.

The Center for Human Rights said confirmation of the satellite images would help it determine where the shoot-down occurred to undermine Hernandez’s conviction.

But the NGA refused even to confirm or deny the existence of the records or images that the group seeks.

Refusing to acknowledge the existence of an item requested under FOIA is known as a Glomar response, named after the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship used in a classified CIA project to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean.

Responding to the center’s lawsuit, NGA director Barry Barlow explained the reasoning behind the agency’s decision in a declaration to the court.

U. S. District Judge Margaret Morrow in Los Angeles found this explanation credible and granted the government summary judgment in 2011.

“The court holds that the NGA has met its burden of showing that it acted permissibly in determining that acknowledging the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to plaintiffs’ request might disclose sources or methods of foreign intelligence and harm national security,” Morrow wrote.

Represented by its executive director, Peter Schey, the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law urged the 9th Circuit on Wednesday to revive the case.

Schey said this case represents the “very first time” an intelligence agency had taken the position that it would apply a Glomar response to every Freedom of Information Act request.

Confirming the existence of the images would only confirm what the world already knows: that America gathers foreign intelligence, he argued.

Skeptical, Judge Margaret McKeown told Schey: “That hardly trumps the view that there’s a significant national security interest.”

Schey insisted that Barlow’s declaration was inadequate, calling it a “cookie cutter” affidavit that the agency could wield to deny all future requests for satellite images under the Freedom of Information Act.

Judge Milan Smith seemed convinced by Barlow’s declaration. He noted that the plaintiffs had a mountain to climb because of lack of case law.

Matters of national security are an “area of expertise” for the government, not the courts, he added.

In response, Schey questioned NGA’s authority to deny the request at all.

He argued that the director of national intelligence, not the NGA, must protect intelligence sources.

But Justice Department attorney Thomas Byron said the agency was “authorized” to use a Glomar response. He also disputed the notion that all future requests of a similar nature would be denied using the same exemption.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski asked Bryon why it would threaten national security to confirm the existence of the images.

“I’m not sure how saying that we have a picture at a particular time and place reveals anything at all,” the chief said.

Bryon stuck to the line that America’s enemies might gather information on U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities and limitations, even if the agency did no more than confirm or deny the existence of the images.

He said foreign spies could track where the satellites operate, and glean intelligence from the resolution of the image, and the angle at which a picture was taken.

Kozinski pressed for an answer as to whether the agency would use an exemption to deny all Freedom of Information Act requests for images.

After some back and forth, Bryon conceded that, when it came to images taken at a certain time and place, the exemption could apply.

The attorney also said that the agency was happy to provide the court with more detail in camera, but argued that such an examination should be a “last resort.”

“I’m not asking to see the pictures,” Kozinski said to chuckles from the courtroom. “I have enough trouble with the fact that you can see my house on Google maps. If you look close enough, you might see me sunbathing on the patio.”

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

Support the projects of the International Committee by making a DONATION : http://thecuban5.org/wordpress/donate-2/,

Cuba’s Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States and the Micro-Republic of Miami

January 23, 2013

Edmundo García

Translation: Machetera

On Monday, January 14, Cuba’s updated migration policy went into force and one of the listeners of my radio program, La Tarde se Mueve (Afternoon Moves) called in to say that it was as though the floor had been yanked right out from under the Miami critics of the Cuban revolution. They can’t figure out where to stand; they’re completely adrift in the comments they’re making on the radio, TV, and other regular press outlets.

At the end of the program, around 6 pm., I heard Willy Allen, the Cuban American immigration attorney tell Ramon Saul Sanchez on his program for La Poderosa (The Powerful One), “I believe that these measures are barely going to change the situation there (in Cuba),” while Sanchez responded, “But the dissident Guillermo Fariñas says that he’s been told he can go wherever he wants and then return.” Willy answered, “Oh, I didn’t know that, but look, there are hardly any exiles left. For the last 20 years the huge majority of those who come to Miami are immigrants.”

That’s exactly what we’ve been saying every day at La Tarde se Mueve; that this is one of the reasons for Cuba’s updating of its migration policy: the composition of Cuban emigration has changed, particularly in regard to the United States, where it occurs more for economic than political reasons, and this is a reality that must be taken into account. So it turns out that Willy Allen, the braintrust behind the Miami project known as “Repression ID,” dedicated to pursuing Cuban emigrants who’ve supposedly participated in crimes against human rights in Cuba, agrees with us.

The Cuban measures are so disconcerting that Miami’s Cuban American rightwing has been completely disoriented by them. So disoriented in fact that you can see it in Alfonso Chardy’s recent report at El Nuevo Herald about a meeting on U.S. immigration reform that took place in the offices of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Doral. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also attended the meeting. The Cubans were not the main objective but the subject of Cuba’s updated migration policy came up and after both threatened to change or eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act, Diaz-Balart played stupid, saying that these were proposals made by other congressional representatives, other colleagues; while Ileana later swore up and down that she had no plans or intentions regarding eliminating or changing the Cuban Adjustment Act. That’s how confused they are; they can’t even get their story straight.

From Miami and other parts of the world, some tried to deny that the measures are anything new. Since among the skeptics there are some honest people who have nothing to do with the usual reactionaries, I want to say to them that in a way, it’s understandable that some don’t see a huge change in the Cuban migration situation, because for quite some time, these changes have been underway, gradually but convincingly. As was said from the beginning, this is an “updating” and not an overturning, apology or repentant revision of Cuban migration policy.

In a press conference offered on October 24, 2012, the Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, reported that according to official data, between the year 2000 and August 31 of 2012, 99.4% of the exit permits solicited by Cubans were granted. Only 0.6% were denied, for substantiated reasons. In that same period of time, some 941,953 persons traveled abroad for particular reasons, of which 120,975 did not return, a total of 12.8%. Of the total who traveled, 156,068 were university graduates and of those, 10.9% did not return.

According to Acosta, “these statistics confirm that the great majority of Cubans who travel abroad return to Cuba.” Which is to say that an abrupt change in Cuban migration policy does not exist, nor is there any need for one, since the image of Cuba as a tropical gulag or prison from which one cannot leave or enter – as the manipulative major media at the service of foreign interests have historically portrayed it – is simply untrue.

As the data show, Cubans who have really wanted to travel have been doing so regularly without many more limits than those that might exist in any other country. This was confirmed on Monday, January 14, when the new migration measures announced in Cuba’s Official Gazette last October went into force.

At none of the 195 official passport offices was there any kind of unusual crowd or fuss, as the disinformative blogger Yoani Sánchez tried to make it seem. This so-called reporter for the Spanish El País newspaper spent the morning at an immigration office in her neighborhood in Havana and was able to complete the paperwork to travel normally. As she herself acknowledged, she will only have to wait 15 days to collect her new passport; after all, it’s not Yoani’s first trip abroad.

What was definitely a lie was Yoani’s claim that at that hour of the morning there was a line of more than 70 people, with children clinging to their parents, all desperately seeking papers in order to leave Cuba. The Cuban journalist Manuel Lagarde posted photos of the place at his blog, Cambios en Cuba, along with photos of travel agencies and tour operators functioning normally in Havana, something that other media like BBC Mundo also reported- the offices were not mobbed by Cubans trying to leave the country.

The updating of the Cuban migration policy is not something left to chance; it’s a well-considered policy that comes at a very specific moment, following indications from Cuba’s president Raúl Castro in his speeches to the National Assembly, the Sixth Party Congress in 2011 and the National Party Conference in 2012. As Secretary Acosta also said, with these measures “Cuba is not seeking a stamp of approval” from anyone.

A report was drafted based on criteria supplied by a wide-ranging committee of specialists and leaders directed by General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, that was later studied by the Cuban government, where the confluence of a series of factors supported an updating of the policy, among them, the existence of a change in the nature of Cuban emigration. As Colonel Lamberto Fraga, Second Chief at Cuba’s Immigration Directorate said, all policies and procedures were ready to be applied as the measures went into force last Monday.

But that Cuba should make it easier to leave and enter does not mean that it is leaving its national territory at the mercy of its enemies. There are two principles that should never be forgotten: The right of the revolution to defend itself and the right to safeguard the human capital that the revolution created.

How will this work in terms of travel permission for professionals in sensitive sectors like health and sports? It is a question that many have asked and will surely be answered in practice. For the moment, Cuban immigration authorities have made it clear that the people who may not travel, for reasons that are standard at the international level, are those with pending judicial processes, persons who must complete existing criminal sentences, persons who must perform military service (Military Service Law 75) and others who have something to do with questions of specific interest. A number of not entirely well-intentioned persons have asked if the so-called dissidents and opposition will be able to travel. The answer has been given. If they have no pending judicial problems, if they are not at the age of military service, etc., then they may travel, otherwise, no. That’s the law and there’s no reason for exceptions or particularities, so the staged media shows and campaigns are pointless, because Cuba will not be pressured.

As soon as the migration reform was announced in October of 2012, both Victoria Nuland and William Ostick, spokespersons for the U.S. State Department, tried to react with apparent indifference in order to avoid recognizing that the Cuban government had seized the initiative. Suddenly, having posed as champions of freedom to travel, they suggested pressuring third countries not to grant visas to Cubans, under the pretext that they might be used as “trampolines” in order to illegally enter the United States and take advantage of the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act.

Today it is truly indisputable that the United States is more restrictive about entrances to and exits from its territory, than Cuba. As a result, the press puppets in Miami have been unable to do anything other than repeat the arguments emanating from Washington. Unlike Nuland however, who recently stated that although the United States is not going to change its policy, the Cuban immigration reform seems positive and consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principle of family unity, Miami’s extreme right-wing, led by Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, has dedicated itself to threatening in the local media to rescind the Cuban Adjustment Act as a way of punishing the Cubans.

The news has made Cuba watchers like Jaime Suchlicki appear to have totally lost it; he is claiming there will be a “slow-motion Mariel” exodus rather than a Camarioca of millions. Janisset Rivero of the so-called Democratic Directorate predicted lines several kilometers long at embassies in Havana. And Ninoska Pérez Castellón, having nothing much to say at all, preferred to ask her listeners, some of whom drove her crazy with their celebration of the Cuban migratory changes.

As my friend, the Cuban journalist Iroel Sánchez said, Cuba was ready for the immigration updates. Those who weren’t ready were that part of Miami that although it has yet to win, seems still not to have learned how to lose.

Edmundo García is the host of La Tarde se Mueve in Miami.

español aquí:
Fuente: http://lapupilainsomne.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/estados-unidos-y-la-republiquita-de-miami-se-ponchan-con-la-actualizacion-migratoria-cubana/,

The Economic War Against Cuba

January 21, 2013

economic-war-against-cuba-300x449

A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade
by Salim Lamrani; prologue by Wayne S. Smith; foreword by Paul Estrade; translated by Larry Oberg

144 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-340-9
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-341-6
Forthcoming in March 2013
Price: $12.95

It is impossible to fully understand Cuba today without also
understanding the economic sanctions levied against it by the United
States. For over fifty years, these sanctions have been upheld by every
presidential administration, and at times intensified by individual
presidents and acts of Congress. They are a key part of the U.S.
government’s ongoing campaign to undermine the Cuban Revolution, and
stand in egregious violation of international law. Most importantly, the sanctions are cruelly designed for their harmful impact on the Cuban
people.

In this concise and sober account, Salim Lamrani explains everything
you need to know about U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba: their
origins, their provisions, how they contravene international law, and
how they affect the lives of Cubans. He examines the U.S. government’s
own official documents to expose what is hiding in plain sight: an
indefensible, vicious, and wasteful blockade that has been roundly
condemned by citizens around the world.

“An excellent summary of the American economic
sanctions against Cuba, the manner in which they have been imposed for
more than a half century and the harm they cause the Cuban people.”
—Wayne S. Smith, diplomat and former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba

Salim Lamrani teaches at the University of Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV and the University of la Réunion. He is also a journalist and commentator who specializes
in Cuban-American relations.

http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb3409/,

ALAN GROSS CASE SPOTLIGHTS U.S. DEMOCRACY PROGRAMS IN CUBA

January 19, 2013

LAWSUIT FILED BY FAMILY YIELDS DOCUMENTATION ON “OPERATIONAL” NATURE OF USAID EFFORT

CONTRACTOR INTRODUCES CONFIDENTIAL RECORDS IN COURT ARGUMENTS

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 411
Posted — January 18, 2013

Edited by Peter Kornbluh

http://www.nsarchive.org,

Washington, DC, January 18, 2013 — The U.S. government has “between five to seven different transition plans” for Cuba, and the USAID-sponsored “Democracy” program aimed at the Castro government is “an operational activity” that demands “continuous discretion,” according to documents filed in court this week, and posted today by the National Security Archive. The records were filed by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI), one of USAID’s largest contractors, in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 for attempting to set up satellite communications networks on the island, as part of the USAID program.

In an August 2008 meeting toward the end of the George W. Bush administration, according to a confidential memorandum of conversation attached to DAI’s filing, officials from the “Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program,” as the Democracy effort is officially known, told DAI representatives that “USAID is not telling Cubans how or why they need a democratic transition, but rather, the Agency wants to provide the technology and means for communicating the spark which could benefit the population.” The program, the officials stated, intended to “provide a base from which Cubans can ‘develop alternative visions of the future.'”

Gross has spent three years of a 15-year sentence in prison in Cuba, charged and convicted of “acts against the integrity of the state” for attempting to supply members of Cuba’s Jewish community with Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite communications consoles and establish independent internet networks on the island. Last year, he and his wife, Judy, sued both DAI and USAID for failing to adequately prepare, train and supervise him given the dangerous nature of the democracy program activities.

During a four-hour meeting last November 28, 2012, with Archive analyst Peter Kornbluh at the military hospital where he is incarcerated, Gross insisted that “my goals were not the same as the program that sent me.” He called on the Obama administration to meet Cuba at the negotiating table and resolve his case, among other bilateral issues between the two nations.

The exhibits attached to DAI’s court filing included USAID’s original “Request for Proposals” for stepped up efforts to bring about political transition to Cuba, USAID communications with DAI, and Gross’s own proposals for bringing computers, cell phones, routers and BGAN systems–“Telco in a Bag,” as he called it–into Cuba.

According to Kornbluh, DAI’s filing is “a form of ‘graymail'”–an alert to the U.S. government that unless the Obama administration steps up its efforts to get Gross released, the suit would yield unwelcome details of ongoing U.S. intervention in Cuba.

In its effort to dismiss the suit, DAI’s filing stated that it was “deeply concerned that the development of the record in this case over the course of litigation [through discovery] could create significant risks to the U.S. government’s national security, foreign policy, and human rights interests.”

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive website – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB411/

Find us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/NSArchive

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

________________________________________________________
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.

From paradox to anachronism: Cuban migration issues manipulated by the US

January 17, 2013

(Last week, on Thursday and Friday, Granma daily, Cuba’s “newspaper of record”, published this two-part article.
For convenience, CubaNews is publishing our translation together. Expect much more coverage of this topic which is receiving lots of space in the international media, and to which diverse responses are appearing abroad.)
=============================
GRANMA
Havana, Thursday January 10, 2013. Year 17 / Issue 10

Cuban migration issues manipulated by the United States

From paradox to anachronism (I)
Ileana Sorolla Fernández

http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3647.html,
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Migration is likely to be the oldest bone of contention found at the root of the U.S.-Cuba bilateral conflict which began in 1959. Since the very first day of that year, the U.S. government turned Cuban migration policy into an instrument of hostility which they have used to promote destabilization on the Island and to damage the reputation of our revolutionary process.

The U.S. has kept its approach to Cuba-related migration issues high on its Cold War agenda, based on the model described as the “pressure cooker” effect and put into practice through an open-door immigration policy set in motion on January 1st, 1959 with the unconditional reception of emigrants who sympathized with both Batista’s regime and the U.S.’s interests in Cuba and subsequently expanded with laws and regulations that all but clear the way for Cuban nationals who arrived there by illegal ways.

Thereafter, and seizing on the prevailing socio-classist composition and key motives of those early waves of immigrants, both the Cuba-U.S. migration process and the Cuban émigrés in that country have become targets of many policies, most of which rely on laws like the “Act for the Adjustment of the Status of Cuban Refugees to that of lawful permanent residents of the United States and other purposes”, Public Law 89-732 (HR. 15183), also known as the Cuban Adjustment Act of November 2, 1966, is still in force and was eventually supplemented with further legislation, executive decisions, and administrative and judicial provisions. The upshot of it all has been the gradual extension of the Act’s scope and a more complicated judicial framework for the current Cuban policy on migration.

Then came the “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act”, Public Law 104-114, known as the LIBERTAD or Helms-Burton Act, with other steps to strengthen the blockade and lend legal force to the conditions for a so-called change of the Cuban political and economic system, describing it as a “transition to democracy”. That same year, the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act” (Public Law 104-208), establishes that Law 89-732 would be repealed only upon determination that a “democratically elected” government in Cuba –by the Helms-Burton Act’s standards– is in power.

These policies have been supported and fostered by Congressmen and –women and U.S.-based counter-revolutionary organizations of Cuban origin whom the funds and press coverage provided by right-wing extremists have given access to the upper echelons of the U.S. government. As a result, they can bring pressure to bear on political circles to take the most aggressive stance toward Cuba, even against the interests of the Cuban émigrés they supposedly represent and other sectors of the American population who would rather favor normal relations.

By adopting a wide-ranging approach, the “pressure cooker” model brings into play political, legal, economic, social, psychological and communication elements, combining U.S. migration regulations for Cuba –built on tolerance toward and encouragement of irregular ways of emigration– and rules that hinder a legal and organized emigration through the manipulation of the visa-granting process. These fit nicely into a picture designed to intensify the economic-commercial blockade to stifle our economy, weaken our people, and undermine confidence in the Revolution.

All of the above is backed by smear media campaigns conceived to fuel social discontent and promote public disturbances conducive to the kind of mass exodus classified as a threat to U.S. national security.

The actions to stop the flow of immigrants have become cyclical since the travel ban imposed on U.S. citizens in the early 1960s and the manipulation of the process of granting visas to Cuban nationals, a policy leading up to migratory crises in 1965 (Camarioca), 1980 (Mariel) and 1994 (the so-called “rafters crisis”). Consequently, the illegal traffic in immigrants joined the irregular emigration practice in the late 20th century to make the migration issue even more complicated.

Moreover, as of 1959, this irregular northbound migration took place in two unusual ways: forced entries into the illegal Guantanamo Naval Base and the hijacking of passenger planes and ships that put at risk the lives of both the hijackers and the innocent people on board.

Every time the U.S. shifts the blame for these problems onto Cuba in order to conceal the fact that the true obstacles to a normal flow of immigrants between the two countries are its own migration policy, the Cuban Adjustment Act and the dry foot/wet foot policy.

On the whole, the Cuban Adjustment Act, which has always prevented any progress in talks to start an orderly, regular and safe migration, is at once legally paradoxical and politically anachronistic if we take into account the state of the debate on migration in the U.S.

As a simple look at the political situation in the U.S. reveals, the Cuban Adjustment Act goes against the main migration issues that mobilized public opinion and many American social and political groups in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and since: border security –a priority in the reorganization of the U.S.’s domestic security system– and the reform of the immigration laws and gets in the way of any solution to the stop the irregular immigrants, said to be steadily rising to the point of outnumbering those who emigrate the legal way.

Since 2008, as the migration talks drag on at federal level, the states of the Union have passed over 200 bills aimed at discouraging irregular immigration with measures against the hiring of people without identity papers and their access to social assistance.

As the central strand of their campaign, the mass media that rally to the U.S.’s banner convey and disseminate the idea that Cubans rush out of their country for political reasons. The underlying message is that the source of the emigration issue lies with the Revolution. This is nothing but a ruse to draw a veil over the real cause of the problem.
http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2013/01/10/nacional/artic07.html

Cuban migration issues manipulated by the United States
From paradox to anachronism (II)
Ileana Sorolla Fernández

Barring the first wave of emigrants made up of Batista’s followers and acolytes of the U.S. government, the majority of people who leave do so for the same reasons as millions of others around the world: the huge challenges facing mankind as a result of a polarization of wealth that increasingly widens the gap between the so-called geopolitical South and affluent societies with plenty of resources and privileged access to information, knowledge and technology. These flow from their systematic, accumulative plundering of the natural and human capital of those countries, long considered as top contributors to international migration. In today’s globalized world, these causes respect no borders.

As in most of such countries in our region, Cubans leave for economic grounds, family reunification purposes and other personal reasons linked with historic and cultural factors found at the core of our traditions and the very making of our nation.

There are Cuban émigrés all over the world, in line with the current trends of international migration. Settled in more than 150 countries, most of them are still in touch with their relatives, show respect to their native land, come in ever-increasing numbers, and make their stay abroad more and more contingent on the extent to which they can meet their needs in the recipient countries and the achievement of a status that provides mobility.

Their distribution around the world is related to geographical proximity, cultural and linguistic resemblance to the recipient country, migratory traditions, and the typical features of the Cubans’ oldest settlements in the world. No less important are the status of our official relations with the relevant nations, the volume and nature of the Cubans there, the number of contacts, and their possibility of traveling back and forth.

U.S. Cuba immigration policy, however, has upset the composition, fluidity and number of Cuban émigrés and changed their geographical distribution as the criminal networks in control of the illegal trade in immigrants have arranged for the passage of Cubans through third countries located in strategic positions along routes leading to the U.S.

Nowadays, almost 85.7% of Cuban nationals abroad live in the U.S. –77% of them in the south– with over two thirds (68%) settled in Florida, where they account for 6.5% of the state’s total population and stand as the largest group of Hispanic extraction.

Thanks to its immigration rules, the U.S. can give visas as they think fit to the Cubans willing to emigrate. For instance, they make the visas they grant on the basis of the U.S. Refugee Program conditional upon the applicant’s counterrevolutionary “merits” so as to turn such activity into an incentive and fuel to internal destabilization.

Likewise, they give right-of-way to the most qualified applicants, the reason that the schooling indicators of more than half the Cubans arrived in Florida since 1990 are far higher than other Hispanic groups.

An example of this is the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, passed by the Bush Administration in August 2006 and kept by Obama to incite Cuban medical personnel in third countries to defect.

With purely political aims, this Program intends to discredit and slow down Cuba’s health care assistance to friendly nations and to take the already harmful effects of the economic blockade over into another strategic field. They try to engage in their political game professionals of proven scientific and human quality who discharge such a worthy and valuable duty and fall for the American swan song only to find many obstacles in their path to regular practice in the end.

Equally founded on the Cuban Adjustment Act, this phenomenon is but a classic case of brain drain, referred to for its consequences as “fatal flow” and decried by other affected countries and international bodies such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Post-revolutionary Cuba’s notion of development has been based on socio-economic integration supported by education and the training of human resources.

The position of the migration issue on the U.S.’s hostile Cuba policy agenda and its use as a tool to manipulate people’s feelings and aspirations as a function of their interests and goals forces our revolutionary state to protect itself and find ways to preserve its qualified human capital, essential as it is to the development of our country.

Seen in this light, the topic remains significant to our humanity, culture and identity, but it’s also significant to Cuba from a social, economic, political and defensive standpoint.

EU Ready to Negotiate with Cuba ?

January 17, 2013

HAVANA TIMES — The High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (EU), Catherine Ashton, said last week that the European Commission will prepare negotiating directives with a view to signing a bilateral agreement with Havana.

According to Europa Press, the high representative has stated that this internal process may “accelerate, slow down or stop, depending on events on the ground in Cuba.” Similarly, she made it clear that the Common Position remains “valid” and that it conditions all progress in improving relations on the extent to which democratic reforms are carried out on the island.

Foreign ministers of the EU agreed this past November to initiate the procedures for negotiating a cooperation agreement with Cuba on the basis of the proposed negotiation directives, which must be presented to the European Commission. 


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