Archive for April, 2013

International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five

April 30, 2013


International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban (Miami) Five, London, Spring 2014

We are writing to give an update on the progress in planning the International Commission of Inquiry. Things are getting more concrete now and we hope this gives a boost to your organisational and financial input. We are honoured to let you know that Ricardo Alarcón is delighted about the initiative and fully supports it.
In what follows, we want to suggest some steps you can take to help ensure this is a successful and genuinely European initiative.
1. European wide Panel of Endorsers
At this early stage, we are inviting highly respected international figures to endorse the Commission and allow us to use their name in developing the initiative. As this Panel expands and the project takes shape, we will invite endorsers, subject to their availability, to be part of the Inquiry Commission itself. We are currently looking at the exact dates and arrangements for the Commission in London.
Excellent progress has been made as you will see from the attached updated list of endorsers. A number of the names have been added thanks to the efforts of several solidarity groups from Europe. We are very grateful for this help. However, now we need to step up this activity, as we really hope to have support from every country of Europe if possible.
Please look at the possibilities you may have in your countries to contact individuals of a similar standing as those already listed who could be potential endorsers.
To ensure there is no duplication, please advise us at, We can send invitations centrally, or we can send you a draft invitation letter that can be amended, translated as needed, personalised, and sent on directly by you.
2. Raising funds for the Commission
This initiative is very ambitious and will need around 80,000 euros to stage successfully. Amongst other costs we will be bringing around 20 international guests to London for the Commission. Meals; lotteries; cultural evenings; and appeals to individuals, trade unions and philanthropic organisations are valuable ways that considerable funds have been raised in the past. Remember the large amounts of money all solidarity groups recently raised to help with the emergencies caused by Hurricane Sandy. We all have a network of contacts who are willing to give money in solidarity with Cuba. It’s our task to make clear to them that the case of the Cuban Five is in some way an emergency too.
If you are planning a fund-raising event or an appeal for finances for the Commission, let us know so we can publicise your efforts. For further ideas contact us at,
Regular updates will be sent out as the project takes shape.
The challenges are great and so are the stakes in this fight for justice for the Five.
Libertad para los Cinco!

Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign UK
Jan Fermon, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Katrien Demuynck, European Coordination Free the Five campaign


Updating cuban economic model

April 29, 2013


Document available here:,

Pay Pal Blocks Funds Earmarked for 5 Days for the Cuban 5

April 27, 2013

_5-in-washington (1)

One day after a matching fund appeal was sent out by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, PayPal stopped all donations coming in and froze all assets in the committee’s account. The purpose of the appeal was for much needed funds for the upcoming Five Days for the Cuban Five, May 30 – June 5 in Washington D.C.

Donors received the following message: “Unfortunately, we are not able to complete this particular transaction. This reversal is specific to this transaction and does not affect the use of your PayPal account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For more information, see Government regulations and policies. Sincerely, PayPal”.

The committee’s account administrator called PayPal and followed it up with the following letter:

“You suspended this account for three days and then cleared it after I made a phone call, which is great. However, we still do not know or understand the reason for the suspension except that you suspect some activity that might possibly be in violation of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations.

“What activity? What provoked the concern? I gave you no more information in the phone call than you already had in your files.

“We are understandably concerned about any accusation concerning OFAC violations, and if there are any parties that are making such accusations to cause trouble to us, we want to take appropriate action. I’m sure you understand.

“Please therefore provide us with information that we can use to avoid such a problem in the future.

“Thank you”

Organizations and individuals in the U.S. working in solidarity with Cuba are used to this type of intimidating tactic that is just another extension of the cruel and senseless blockade of Cuba. This action has only made us more determined than ever to make the second Five Days for the Cuban Five a great success. We get word everyday of more people coming to Washington and we should show our strength by making sure we make the matching fund. For those of you who had your donation bounce resubmit it and for those of you who haven’t made a contribution there could be no better time than now.

See you in Washington D.C.

Donations are tax deductible.

You can make an online CREDIT CARD donation :,

WRITE YOUR CHECK TO: International Committee

Send your donation to
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
P.O. Box 22455
Oakland, CA 94609

TO MAKE A DONATION BY WAY OF A WIRE TRANSACTION, FROM ANY COUNTRY WRITE TO US to: and we will send you the necessary information to make the transaction.

For more information about the Cuban 5 visit:


II Annual “5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC” May 30 to June 5
To endorse:

10 Billboards for CUBAN FIVE in Italy!

April 27, 2013

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

With an unprecedented media offensive, the National Association of Italy-Cuba Friendship, exhibited 10 billboards of 4 meters by 3 meters in ten districts of the Italian capital. The first was opened in Via Cristoforo Colombo, one of the main streets of Rome. The billboards with the faces of Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and René González, bore the following inscription: freedom for the Cuban Five, fifteen years in prison in the United States, for exposing terrorism against Cuba.

The Italy-Cuba Association will continue the battle to demand the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters until the wall of silence that surrounds this case is brought down. The Italian media and large corporations do not speak about the case of the Five which highlight the Washington government’s double standard in the fight against terrorism. In Florida, especially in Miami, there are terrorist organizations financed by the Cuban American National Foundation living under the protective wing of the U.S. Government.,

Moving moment in Havana

April 26, 2013

_1-rené en obispoDSCF0209

Surprise in calle Obispo, Habana Vieja, today…
René, one of the cuban five, and his wife Olga walking around and saluted by public as heroes…

Woman indicted in Cuba spy case is in Sweden and out of U.S. reach

April 26, 2013

before reading the original Washington Post article :

1- If it’s true that she’s in Sweden and thus out of reach of the
United States, and if it’s true the indictment was made NINE
years ago, and assuming there’s no other way the US government
could get to her, then one has to wonder just why the decision
was made by Washington to unseal this NINE YEAR OLD indictment
which can’t result in her apprehension, made AT THIS MOMENT?

Perhaps it has to do with the efforts being made recently to
have Cuba removed from the terrorist list? Perhaps it’s also
designed to undercut growing support for the Cuban Five since
this woman is accused of the same thing, “conspiracy to commit
espionage” – NOTE – it’s NOT ESPIONAGE, but only CONSPIRACY –
that the Cuban Five were charged with and convicted of.

More should come out about this in the days ahead.

Walter Lippmann,

2- Mr Popkin is NOT just a writer but an ex-CIA-agent ( pe )


Woman indicted in Cuba spy case is in Sweden and out of U.S. reach
By Jim Popkin, Thursday, April 25, 5:30 PM

The Justice Department on Thursday announced the indictment of a former State Department employee for allegedly spying on behalf of Cuba, but it is unable to arrest her because she lives in Sweden, a country that does not extradite citizens accused of espionage.

Marta Rita Velazquez, 55, a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law School, was indicted nearly a decade ago for conspiracy to commit espionage. Velazquez lives in Stockholm and is aware of the charges against her, the Justice Department said. But the extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden does not allow extradition for spying.

“Espionage is considered a ‘political offense’ that, therefore, falls outside the scope of Sweden’s extradition treaty,” said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd. Swedish officials declined to comment on the announcement of the indictment.

A grand jury in Washington originally indicted Velazquez in 2004, but the charges remained sealed until Thursday. “Velazquez has continually remained outside the United States since 2002,” the Justice Department said, frustrating U.S. attempts to arrest her. The United States notified Velazquez that she was under suspicion in December 2011. Attempts to reach Velazquez on Thursday evening for her response to the indictment were unsuccessful.

Law enforcement sources said that the FBI first learned about Velazquez in late 2002, after the debriefings of Ana Belen Montes, a former Defense Department analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba for 17 years. Montes told investigators that she met Velazquez while they were graduate students at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and that Velazquez helped recruit her as a spy.

“Velazquez would and did foster and maintain a close personal friendship with Ana Belen Montes in order to facilitate the recruitment of Montes to serve as an agent of the Cuban Intelligence Service,” the indictment states.Velazquez once mailed Montes a letter saying, “It has been a great satisfaction for me to have had you as a friend and comrade. . . . I hope our relationship continues outside the academic sphere.”

According to the indictment, Velazquez, who was born in Puerto Rico, introduced Montes to a Cuban intelligence officer in New York, escorted her on a clandestine trip to Cuba for “operational training” and helped her obtain employment with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Montes would go on to lead a distinguished career at DIA as a top Cuban analyst, winning awards, briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and helping to soften U.S. policy toward Cuba, all while reporting reams of classified information back to Havana. Montes, the subject of a cover story in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine, was described by her lead debriefer as “one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history.”

Velazquez went on to work for the U.S. government, too, first at the Transportation Department and then for 13 years as a legal officer with the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development. During her tenure with USAID, Velazquez held a top secret security clearance and was posted to U.S. embassies in Nicaragua and Guatemala. She exchanged encrypted messages with Cuban operatives while at USAID, the indictment states, and traveled to Panama for an operational meeting. She resigned from USAID in June 2002, after Montes’s arrest but months before Montes pleaded guilty to espionage and began cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Like Montes, Velazquez received training in Cuba on how to receive coded instructions from Havana on shortwave radio, how to fake her way through gov­ernment-administered polygraph examinations, and how to travel incognito to Cuba using fake passports and disguises, the indictment states.

Popkin is a writer living in Washington.

© The Washington Post Company

Anti-terrorist Fighter Rene Gonzalez is on a Private Visit to Cuba

April 26, 2013


Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert, one of the five anti-terrorist fighters held in the U.S. since 1998 and Hero of the Republic of Cuba, is on a private and family visit to the island, Granma newspaper reported on Friday.

On April 3, two days after the passing away of his father Candido, Gonzalez filed a request with the South Florida District Court, through his defense attorney, to be authorized to travel to Cuba in order to be with his family in these current difficult circumstances, the paper explains.

Judge Joan Lenard, who has been in charge of the case of the five Cubans since the beginning of the judicial process, adopted the request on April 12 and ordered that Gonzalez’s trip would be allowed under similar strict conditions as a previous trip approved in 2012, when he was allowed to visit his brother Roberto, who was seriously ill and passed away two months later.

Gonzalez had to hand in to US authorities the detailed itinerary of his trip, data about the place he would stay in Cuba and information about his contacts on the island.

He will also have to report on the telephone to the officer following his probation term while he is in Cuba and he must return to the United States upon the expiration of the term agreed to. In his request, Gonzalez said he would abide by the terms established for his visit.

The authorization of Gonzalez to travel to Cuba is in tune with the conditions established under his supervised freedom, which allow his travel to the island with the prior authorization by the probation official or the judge.
Granma newspaper explains that as it is well known by the Cuban people, after Gonzalez met an over-13-year and unfair prison term in September 2011, he was arbitrarily held under a three-year probation in the United States, far from his family, which lives in Cuba.

With deep respect and affection the Cuban people welcomes Rene Gonzalez and they will not spare efforts to achieve his definitive return home, along Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, the article concludes.

HAVANA, Cuba, April 26 (acn)

European MPs sent a letter to John Kerry calling for the release and return to Cuba of the Cuban Five

April 25, 2013


Dear friends,
responding to our call, 21 MEPs signed a letter to Kerry and handed it over during his visit to Brussels. You will find the letter below. You can use it to convince your national or regional deputies to do the same! It would be very useful to carry copies of these letters to the 5 Day’s in Washington DC, at the end of next month. That’s why we ask you to send copies of the letters that you have managed to achieve to,

Press release of the Cuban embassy to the EU:

MEPs sent today a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling for the release and return to Cuba of the Cuban Five, imprisoned in the United States

Belgium, April 23th.

Twenty-one MEPs of the GUE/NGL parliamentary group, headed by the president of the group, Gabriele Zimmer (Die Linke, Germany) and the coordinator for foreign affairs of the group, Willy Meyer (Izquierda Unida, Spain), took advantage of the visit to Brussels of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Today the MEPs sent a letter to John Kerry, requesting the release and return to Cuba of the Cuban Five, imprisoned in the United States.

In the letter, the MEPs denounce the harsh conditions of imprisonment of these five men and the violations of their rights, as the denial of visas to some of their relatives, as well as numerous legal irregularities in the case.

The letter points out that in 2005 the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN made a warning about the arbitrariness of the case and called for a review of the judicial process.

According to MEP Willy Meyer, Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the second term of President Obama is “the opportunity to meet the promises in his first term, including the immediate shut-down of the inhumane prison in Guantánamo and the return of this territory to Cuba, and to finally redirect the US policy toward Latin America: putting an end to the unjust and illegal blockade against the island and using his prerogative as president to pardon the five Cubans unjustly imprisoned for collecting information to prevent terrorist acts.”

The letter was signed by twenty-one MEPs from ten member countries of the European Union: Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, France, Cyprus, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Free the Five coordination Europe,
Haachtsesteenweg 53 Chaussée de Haecht
Brussel Bruxelles 1210

Brussels, February 2013.
To Mr. John Kerry
Secretary of State of the USA
Dear Mister Kerry,
Let us congratulate you for your new appointment as Secretary of State. We know that you are in
favor of a better relationship between the United States and Cuba.
From our position as a Member of the European Parliament we would like to share our concern about
the case of the so-called Cuban Five. This is about Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labañino, Antonio
Guerrero, Fernando González en Rene González. Four of these men are still in federal prisons in the
US. Rene González has finished his sentence but he has to remain in Miami for the three years of his
parole. The wives of René González and Gerardo Hernández have repeatedly been denied visas for
the US, which means they have not been able to practice their visitation rights on regular bases.
Right now there is a Habeas Corpus procedure running for every one of the Cuban Five based on new
evidence that the United States government at the time, through the Office of Cuban Broadcasting,
paid several journalists to put the Five in a negative light, during the time of the court proceedings. The
defense points to the fact that the evidence is important enough to set aside the conviction.
The Cuban Five were gathering information about plans for terrorist attacks on their country, set up by
organizations based in Miami, FL, and passing it on to their government. They were not armed and
they did not do any harm to anybody. They were arrested on September 12, 1998 in Miami, where
they were sentenced to long prison terms. During the court proceedings a number of irregularities took
place, some of which were connected to the charges.
In 2005 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions characterized U.S. judicial processes in the
case as “arbitrary” and called for remediation. In 2006, Amnesty International urged the US
government to allow visiting rights for the prisoners’ wives. Ten Nobel Prize winners and thousands of
politicians, intellectuals, and concerned citizens worldwide have called for the prisoners’ release.
Hundreds of delegates from at least 20 national parliaments, from the European Parliament and other
regional parliaments have joined in. Amnesty International on October 4, 2010 appealed to the U.S.
government to implement a clemency process.
The case of the Cuban Five has been dragging on for over 14 years and urgently needs to be solved.
You have recently signed a letter directed to the Cuban President Raúl Castro to request the release
of US government subcontractor Alan Gross, on humanitarian grounds. Perhaps in the context of an
effort for better relations between the US and Cuba a prisoner exchange could be possible. This way
there can be an end to the suffering of the families of the five Cubans and of Alan Gross.
We ask you to give attention to the case of the Cuban Five and to strive for a speedy solution.
Yours sincerely,
List of signatories letter to Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the USA
Gabriele ZIMMER, MEP Chair of GUE/NGL
Marie-Christine VERGIAT, GUE/NGL MEP
List of signatories letter to Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the USA

Why Is Cuba’s Health Care System the Best Model for Poor Countries?

April 25, 2013


Cuba has become a world-class medical powerhouse with very limited resources, while “the US squanders perhaps 10 to 20 times what is needed for a good, affordable medical system.” As a result, the Cuban infant mortality rate is “below that of the US and less than half that of US Blacks,” and Americans can hardly claim to have a health care system.

by Don Fitz*

“Cuban-trained doctors know their patients by knowing their patients’communities.”

Furious though it may be, the current debate over health care in the US is largely irrelevant to charting a path for poor countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. That is because the US squanders perhaps 10 to 20 times what is needed for a good, affordable medical system. The waste is far more than 30% overhead by private insurance companies. It includes an enormous amount of over-treatment, making the poor sicker by refusing them treatment, creation of illnesses, exposure to contagion through over-hospitalization, and disease-focused instead of prevention-focused research.

Poor countries simply cannot afford such a health system. Well over 100 countries are looking to the example of Cuba, which has the same 78-year life expectancy of the US while spending 4% per person annually of what the US does.

The most revolutionary idea of the Cuban system is doctors living in the neighbourhoods they serve. A doctor-nurse team is part of the community and know their patients well because they live at (or near) the consultorio (doctors’ office) where they work. Consultorios are backed up by policlinicos which provide services during off-hours and offer a wide variety of specialists. Policlinicos coordinate community health delivery and link nationally designed health initiatives with their local implementation.

Cubans call their system medicina general integral (MGI, comprehensive general medicine). Its programs focus on preventing people from getting diseases rather than curing them after they are sick

This has made Cuba extremely effective in control of everyday health issues. Having doctors ‘ offices in every neighbourhood has brought the Cuban infant mortality rate below that of the US and less than half that of US Blacks. Cuba has a record unmatched in dealing with chronic and infectious diseases with amazingly limited resources. These include (with date eradicated): polio (1962), malaria (1967), neonatal tetanus (1972), diphtheria (1979), congenital rubella syndrome (1989), post-mumps meningitis (1989), measles (1993), rubella (1995), and TB meningitis (1997).

“Programs focus on preventing people from getting diseases rather than curing them after they are sick.”

The MGI integration of neighbourhood doctors’ offices with area clinics and a national hospital system also means the country responds well to emergencies. It has the ability to evacuate entire cities during a hurricane largely because consultorio staff know everyone in their neighbourhood and who to call for help getting disabled residents out of harms way. At the same time New York City (roughly the same population as Cuba) had 43,000 cases of AIDS, Cuba had 200 AIDS patients. More recent emergencies such as outbreaks of dengue fever are quickly followed by national mobilizations.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Cuban medicine it that, despite its being a poor country itself, Cuba has sent over 124,000 health care professionals to provide care to 154 countries. In addition to providing preventive medicine Cuba sends response teams following emergencies (such as earthquakes and hurricanes) and has over 20,000 students from other countries studying to be doctors at its Latin American School of Medicine in Havana (ELAM, Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina).

In a recent Monthly Review article, I gave in-depth descriptions of ELAM students participating in Cuban medical efforts in Haiti, Ghana and Peru. What follows are 10 generalizations from Cuba’s extensive experience in developing medical science and sharing its approach with poor countries throughout the world. The concepts form the basis of the New Global Medicine and summarize what many authors have observed in dozens of articles and books.

First, it is not necessary to focus on expensive technology as the initial approach to medical care. Cuban doctors use machines that are available, but they have an amazing ability to treat disaster victims with field surgery. They are very aware that most lives are saved through preventive medicine such as nutrition and hygiene and that traditional cultures have their own healing wisdom. This is in direct contrast to Western medicine, especially as is dominant in the US, which uses costly diagnostic and treatment techniques as the first approach and is contemptuous of natural and alternative approaches.

“At the same time New York City (roughly the same population as Cuba) had 43,000 cases of AIDS, Cuba had 200 AIDS patients.”

Second, doctors must be part of the communities where they are working. This could mean living in the same neighbourhood as a Peruvian consultorio. It could mean living in a Venezuelan community that is much more violent than a Cuban one. Or it could mean living in emergency tents adjacent to where victims are housed as Cuban medical brigades did after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Or staying in a village guesthouse in Ghana. Cuban-trained doctors know their patients by knowing their patients’ communities. This differs sharply from US doctors, who receive zero training on how to assess homes of their patients.

Third, the MGI model outlines relationships between people that go beyond a set of facts. Instead of memorizing mountains of information unlikely to be used in community health, which US students must do to pass medical board exams, Cuban students learn what is necessary to relate to people in consultorios, policlinicos, field hospitals and remote villages. Far from being nuisance courses, studies in how people are bio-psycho-social beings are critical for the everyday practice of Cuban medicine.

Fourth, the MGI model is not static but is evolving and unique for each community. Western medicine searches for the correct pill for a given disease. In its rigid approach, a major reason for research is to discover a new pill after “side effects” of the first pill surface. Since traditional medicine is based on the culture where it has existed for centuries, the MGI model avoids the futility of seeking to impose a Western mindset on other societies.

Fifth, it is necessary to adapt medical aid to the political climate of the host country. This means using whatever resources the host government is able and willing to offer and living with restrictions. Those hosting a Cuban medical brigade may be friendly as in Venezuela and Ghana, hostile as is the Brazilian Medical Association, become increasingly hostile as occurred after the 2009 coup in Honduras, or change from hostile to friendly as occurred in Peru with the 2011 election of Ollanta Humala. This is quite different from US medical aide which, like its food aide, is part of an overall effort to dominate the receiving country and push it into adopting a Western model.

Sixth, the MGI model creates the basis for dramatic health effects. Preventive community health training, a desire to understand traditional healers, the ability to respond quickly to emergencies, and an appreciation of political limitations give Cuban medical teams astounding success. During the first 18 months of Cuba ‘ s work in Honduras following Hurricane Mitch, infant mortality dropped from 80.3 to 30.9 per 1000 live births. When Cuban health professionals intervened in Gambia, malaria decreased from 600,000 cases in 2002 to 200,000 two years later. And Cuban/Venezuelan collaboration resulted in 1.5 million vision corrections by 2009. Kirk and Erisman conclude that “almost 2 million people throughout the world” owe their very lives to the availability of Cuban medical services. ”

“US medical aide which, like its food aide, is part of an overall effort to dominate the receiving country.”

Seventh, the New Global Medicine can become reality only if medical staff put healing above personal wealth. In Cuba, being a doctor, nurse or support staff and going on a mission to another country is one of the most fulfilling activities a person can do. The program continues to find an increasing number of volunteers despite the low salaries that Cuban health professionals earn. There is definitely a minority of US doctors who focus their practice in low income communities which have the greatest need. But there is no political leadership which makes a concerted effort to get physicians to do anything other than follow the money.

Eighth, dedication to the New Global Medicine is now being transferred to the next generation. When students at Cuban schools learn to be doctors, dentists or nurses their instructors tell them of their own participation in health brigades in Angola, Peru, Haiti, Honduras and dozens of other countries. Venezuela has already developed its own approach of MIC (medicina integral comunitaria, comprehensive community medicine) which builds upon but is distinct from Cuban MGI. Many ELAM students who work in Ghana as the Yaa Asantewaa Brigade are from the US. They learn approaches of traditional healers so they can compliment Ghanaian techniques with Cuban medical knowledge.

Ninth, the Cuban model is remaking medicine across the globe. Though best-known for its successes in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean, Cuba has also provided assistance in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Cuba provided relief to the Ukraine after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami, and Pakistan after its 2005 earthquake. Many of the countries hosting Cuban medical brigades are eager for them to help redesign their own health care systems. Rather than attempting to make expensive Western techniques available to everyone, the Cuban MGI model helps re-conceptualize how healing systems can meet the needs of a country’s poor.

“Many ELAM students who work in Ghana as the Yaa Asantewaa Brigade are from the US.”

Tenth, the new global medicine is a microcosm of how a few thousand revolutionaries can change the world. They do not need vast riches, expensive technology, or a massive increase in personal possessions to improve the quality of people’s lives. If dedicated to helping people while learning from those they help, they can prefigure a new world by carefully utilizing the resources in front of them. Such revolutionary activity helps show a world facing acute climate change that it can resolve many basic human needs without pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Discussions of global health in the West typically bemoan the indisputable fact that poor countries still suffer from chronic and infectious diseases that rich countries have controlled for decades. International health organizations wring their hands over the high infant mortality rates and lack of resources to cope with natural disasters in much of the world.

But they ignore the one health system that actually functions in a poor country, providing health care to all of its citizens as well as millions of others around the world. The conspiracy of silence surrounding the resounding success of Cuba’s health system proves the absolute unconcern by those who piously claim to be the most concerned.

How should progressives respond to this feigned ignorance of a meaningful solution to global health problems? A rational response must begin with spreading the word of Cuba’s New Global Medicine through every source of alternative media available. The message needs to be: Good health care is not more expensive — revolutionary medicine is far more cost effective than corporate controlled medicine.

*Don Fitz is editor of Synthesis/Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought. He is Co-Coordinator of the Green Party of St. Louis and produces Green Time in conjunction with KNLC-TV 24.
(taken from cubandemocracy)

Equality Forum Calls on State Department to Allow Mariela Castro to Visit Philadelphia during U.S. Visit (LGBT rights)

April 25, 2013


Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization, calls on the U.S. State Department to allow Mariela Castro, a Cuban LGBT civil rights activist, to visit Philadelphia for Equality Forum 2013. The State Department issued a visa to Ms. Castro to visit New York for U.N. meetings, but did not authorize Ms. Castro to travel to Philadelphia to participate in Equality Forum 2013 with Cuba as the Featured Nation.

“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. “It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly.”

Equality Forum 2013 with Cuba as the Featured Nation will be held in Philadelphia on May 2 to 5. Equality Forum presents an annual national and international LGBT civil rights summit with a featured nation. The featured nation is not being honored, but presents an opportunity to explore the rights and challenges of that nation or region’s LGBT citizens. Past featured nations include Canada, Russia, China, Gays and Lesbians in the Muslim World, Germany, and Israel, among others.

Several months ago, Ms. Castro accepted Equality Forum’s invitation to speak on the Cuba: Featured Nation Panel (Saturday, May 4 at The University of the Arts) and to receive the International Ally for LGBT Equality Award at the International Equality Dinner (Saturday, May 4 at the National Museum of American Jewish History).

“Mariela Castro runs the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia,” said Lazin. “These are shared values that deserve the right to be heard regardless of political systems.”

Equality Forum 2013 has over 30 programs with over 35 regional, national and international nonprofit organizations and religious and educational institutions. The programs can be found at

Equality Forum ( is a nonprofit and 501(c)(3) organization with an educational focus. Equality Forum coordinates nationally and internationally LGBT History Month, produced three award-winning documentary films, undertakes high impact initiatives and presents annually a national and international LGBT civil rights summit.

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