Archive for May 13th, 2013

René González, 1 of Cuban 5, wins battle to return to Cuba

May 13, 2013

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“I urge people to publicize our cause in the U.S.,” said René González, above with wife Olga Salanueva at May 6 press conference in Havana. “We will continue the battle until the other four are returned.”

BY LOUIS MARTIN

In a victory for the international campaign to free five Cuban revolutionaries jailed in the U.S. since 1998, René González returned to Cuba. Since González was paroled in October 2011, he had been forced to remain in the U.S. to serve a three-year term of supervised release.

González traveled to Havana April 22 under a two-week court-ordered release to attend a memorial for his father Cándido González, who died April 1. On May 3 U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard ruled he could serve the remaining half of his supervised release in Cuba on condition he renounce his U.S. citizenship and never return to the United States.

“Fighting to free Fernando [González], Antonio [Guerrero], Gerardo [Hernández] and Ramón [Labañino] will be the priority of my life,” González said May 6 at a press conference in Havana. “There can be no justice. We endured a long trial plagued with irregularities and absurd sentences. But we will continue the battle until they are returned to Cuba.”

González holds dual U.S. and Cuban citizenship, having been born in Chicago before moving to Cuba with his parents when he was five.

His first motion to serve supervised release in Cuba, filed while still in prison, was rejected by Judge Lenard on the basis of his dual citizenship, in spite of the fact that released prisoners with dual citizenship are normally allowed to serve parole in the other country.

The U.S. government urged rejection of his second motion filed last June, despite a long-standing offer by González to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Lenard granted the motion May 3 after the U.S. Justice Department reversed its position and said it would accept the offer.

“The Justice Department explained its turnabout,” an Associated Press dispatch reported May 3, “by saying that since González was already in Cuba, there was no longer concern that he would use a promise of citizenship renunciation to improperly return to the island.”

On May 6 González went to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to begin the paperwork for renouncing his U.S. citizenship “as bystanders in the streets and on apartment balconies above applauded and called his name,” Reuters reported. Known internationally as the Cuban Five, they are called the Five Heroes in Cuba, deeply respected by millions there for their example of determination and steadfastness in defense of the Cuban Revolution.

The Five were living and working in southern Florida where, at the request of Cuban security services, they monitored and kept Havana informed of activities by armed Cuban-American counterrevolutionary groups with a long record of violent attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution.

After “stealing” a crop-duster plane in Cuba and ostensibly defecting to the U.S. in December 1990, González was welcomed into counterrevolutionary circles and integrated into paramilitary groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution, a goal shared by Washington.

González became a pilot in Brothers to the Rescue, an organization established in 1991 by CIA-trained operative José Basulto. In the mid-1990s the group began organizing flights penetrating Cuban airspace designed to provoke a confrontation with Washington.

Despite repeated warnings from Havana that the incursions would not continue with impunity, the U.S. government did not stop them. In January 1996 a Brothers to the Rescue operation dropped counterrevolutionary propaganda on the island. The following month, after repeated warnings to turn back, Cuban fighter jets shot down two of the group’s planes that had once again entered Cuban airspace.

The Five were arrested in FBI raids in September 1998 and framed up on various conspiracy charges. René González received the shortest sentence — 15 years on charges of failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy to act as the unregistered agent of a foreign government.

“I did it as a Cuban patriot and I have no regrets,” González is quoted as telling Associated Press in a recent interview. “I’ve never doubted myself for a second.”

González has family in Cuba, including his wife Olga Salanueva, two daughters Irma and Ivette and his mother Irma Sehwerert. Salanueva had been barred entry into the U.S. to visit González while he was in prison, as is Adriana Pérez, the wife of Gerardo Hernández who was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

In mid-April Pérez spoke at meetings in Canada organized by the United Steelworkers, one of the largest unions in the country. An example of growing support for the Five, the 650 delegates attending the Steelworkers national convention unanimously adopted a resolution pledging to campaign for the Five’s release.

The coming “5 Days for the Cuban 5,” which will take place May 30-June 5 in Washington, D.C., are being built as an opportunity to broaden the campaign to free the remaining four revolutionaries. The series of events includes an international rally June 1 in front of the White House.

“The only thing lacking is for people in the U.S. to know the case well,” González said at the Havana press conference. “That’s why I urge those here to help publicize our cause in the United States.”

Related articles:
Why revolutionaries condemn terror methods, from Boston to Colombia
Join, build ’5 days for the Cuban 5’
Cuba’s Rebel Army and peasants became ‘unbeatable force’

The Militant Vol. 77/No. 19 May 20, 2013
http://www.themilitant.com/,

Raul Castro Stresses Saving of Resources as Important Income Source

May 13, 2013

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The President of the Cuban Councils of State and Ministers, Raul Castro, stressed the saving of material resources as the main income source of Cuban economy, which is not always regarded to as such.

During a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Friday, Raul Castro said that the solution to the country’s problems cannot be based on importing products, which can be produced on the island.

The meeting analyzed vital issues for the update of the Cuban economic model, as participants agreed that the actions must focus local limitations and inefficiency in domestic sectors.

Raul insisted in the training of directives and workers who, in the end of the day, are the ones that implement every measure approved, in order to boost the dynamics of the process.

Mistakes usually lead to the loss of millions, said Raul as he referred to the problems that the country’s investment process has faced over the past few years.

Economy minister Adel Yzquierdo presented the principles of a policy designed to improve the country’s investment programs, which aims at updating and unifying legal regulations on the issue in an effort to improve efficiency.

Yzquierdo referred to a series of difficulties related to the under-exploitation of human capacities, the lack of the necessary authority of investors and inappropriate contracting procedures.

The policy drawn up by the Council of Ministers describes investors as the main actor of the whole investment process, which must be integrally assessed, including the productive chains and all management modalities.

The meeting also addressed the strategy for the efficient use of equipment and tools. In this regards, Raul Castro insisted in the need to recover and repair used equipment and meet maintenance schedules.

The members of the Council of Ministers approved a proposal on the performance and structure of the Food Industry Ministry. The structural changes include the separation of state from entrepreneurial functions in the ministry, which includes the food and the fishing industries.

The meeting also approved legal strategies to keep reinstating the order in Cuban society. Justice minister Esther Reus said that the new policy concentrates in a single legal norm that includes all behaviors that constitute violations, as well as the measures or fines to be imposed, since at present there are over 80 legal regulations, a fact that leads to contradictions and a large dispersion of legal norms.

The head of the Implementation and Development Commission, Marino Murillo, explained about the commercialization of agricultural products based on a new experience underway in the western provinces of Havana, Artemisa and Mayabeque.

Murillo said that centralized prices are being applied to the collection of a group of staples, while farms can directly sell produce to state entities, to get rid of middle actors, and after meeting their contracts, these producers can sell their goods to third parties.

Murillo also referred to the performance of a wholesale market, where state entities can get their products, and he said that agricultural markets, which sell produce to the population, will be managed by the state and by cooperative farms.

The country’s General Comptroller Gladys Bejerano referred to main control actions carried out in 2012, whose results are very important to address major causes for inefficiency, indiscipline, illegalities and corruption acts.

Bejerano described as crucial the action and training of executives and managers, since they are committed to their duties and legality.

The export of services have become the main hard currency source for the country, with huge potential for its further development, said Foreign Trade and Investment minister Rodrigo Malmierca during the meeting.

In this regard, the Cuban President acknowledged the noble work of Cuban doctors, who have gained prestige around the world, since they go to those places where nobody else go to assist the people.

The Foreign Trade and Investment minister also addressed irregularities in the operations of some businesses set up with foreign capital and on international contracts, which have affected the country’s economy. Major causes for these problems are related to lack of control in the businesses, as well as misbehaviors and inappropriate attitudes by directives and officials involved, either due to lack of knowledge, incapacity or ethical violations.

Addressing other problems, Economy minister Adell Yzquierdo referred to criminal actions affecting the commercialization of fuel. The theft of fuel takes place in refineries, transportation centers, and gas stations due to lack of control and equipment, or the uncertified use of such fuel dispensing instruments.

The minister referred to individuals who, after illegally getting the fuel, benefit from its illegal traffic by reselling it at about 60 percent below the official prices. In order to face this situation, Yquierdo mentioned measures such as a progressive upgrading of fuel collection, storage and distribution systems, the verification of measurement equipment, the conclusion of investment projects in local refineries aimed at increasing control and automation levels in loading stations, among others.

Also on the agenda was the ongoing processing of information collected during the latest Population and Housing Census. In this regard, Marino Murillo, announced that all activities are going at good pace and that the definitive figures will be handed over to the government as scheduled, on June 30.

ACN – Habana may 13

W. Lippmann comments:
Many interesting elements in this report. Notice that the theft
of gasoline has become a problem again. This time they aren’t
talking about putting social workers out at the gas stations
and other distribution points was done the last time around.

Here’s the long GRANMA feature on which this ACN report is based:
http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2013/05/13/nacional/artic08.html,

These reforms will update the Cuban model and spur economic growth.

May 13, 2013

_1-illustration by Yasser Castellanos
(illustration by yasser castellanos)

BY Omar Everleny Pérez

Will Cuba’s Economic Reforms Succeed? Yes !

Cuba’s recent economic reforms to its economic model are not entirely new. What is new is the perception and the importance placed on them, especially on the role of the non-state sector. Once implemented, these reforms will update the country’s economic model.

In announcing the “Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy”—upon which the reforms are based—at the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party in October 2010, Cuban officials acknowledged inefficiencies in the economic model. These included: low economic growth, especially in industry and agriculture; inefficiencies in investment; low levels of investment in productivity and infrastructure; the gap between workers’ incomes and the rising prices of goods and services, both in markets free from price controls and the state foreign currency, and convertible peso markets; lack of connection between workers’ productivity and salaries; excessive economic centralization; increased state restrictions on certain goods and services; the low level of housing construction; and the foreign and domestic deficits.

To counter these inefficiencies, the government proposed a series of adjustments designed to improve productivity by promoting entrepreneurship, establishing a more efficient tax system, and balancing public finances.

The most important adjustments focus on incentives for creating non-state employment. For instance, the government will now recognize 178 categories of work or trade. In the agricultural sector, it promises to put unused land into productive use. Cubans will no longer be forbidden from selling homes and vehicles—even to foreigners or temporary residents. Businesses will be granted greater autonomy, and multiple licenses will be available for conducting business not only in one’s hometown but anywhere in the country. Private restaurants can expand from 12 to 20 seats. And in a move toward ensuring food self-sufficiency and eliminating rationing, individuals will be allowed to lease state facilities, including those in the food industry.

Among the measures, those targeting self-employed workers will undoubtedly have the greatest positive impact. The policy is being encouraged at all levels of government, and for good reason. Under its reorganization plan, the Cuban state intends to move between 1 million and 1.3 million state workers off state payrolls within the next few years, making self-employment policies the most urgent.

The openings providing for self-employment will permit the creation of microenterprises. Since October, the number of licenses granted to micro-enterprises has surpassed 113,000, a nearly 50 percent increase from before the start of the reforms.

These developments will expand supplies of consumer goods and services. There are already signs that the measures have had a positive impact. The number of workers hired by other self-employed workers has increased. So has the number of microenterprises dedicated to the preparation and sale of food, the manufacture of household goods and transportation. For many people, microenterprise has constituted an alternative source of income to state salaries and pensions. For the state, it will provide a source of new tax revenue.

The new measures also focus on balancing public finances by decreasing public payrolls and unemployment compensation. And as the state reduces total payroll expenses and increases revenue from taxes on self-employed workers, it will be able to increase public-sector salaries.

To improve productivity, details have also emerged about a more efficient form of contracting labor. Companies will be able to count on greater funds for salaries to distribute among fewer employees.

This will be done through a system of results-based payments, which will mean an increase in productivity and, consequently, growth in the economy as a whole. Under the proposed adjustments, it has been estimated that new non-state annual tax contributions will exceed $1 billion per year.

At the core of the reforms is an acknowledgement by the Cuban state that it must relinquish control over those activities and sectors, such as retail, that do not serve it strategically and that it believes have the capacity to absorb the growing labor force in coming years.

However, the proper functioning of the private sector depends on nondiscrimination and competition. For this, a number of conditions will be important. Among them: access to technical and material supply markets; access to sources of financing and insurance to cover risk; access to fair and competitive domestic consumer markets and export markets; regulations that do not impose undue burdens in their compliance or administration; and a tax burden consistent with the desired activity and size of the project.

If these conditions are established, non-state employment will meet its expected contribution to the economy, above all in terms of job creation and the production of goods and services. I estimate Cuba could grow at a rate of 5 percent after the reforms.

It will be a complex task to effectively design and implement the steps needed to unleash the production forces of a “handmade” economy, where discretion has prevailed over rules, institutions and respect for regulations.

Time has changed the functions and needs of our socialist project. Those changes, along with the success of other countries’ experiences, demonstrate that the Cuban state is in vital need of updating its economic model.

This means the market must play an ever-increasing role in the Cuban economy, even if planning will officially prevail over the market. The measures that the authorities have taken are a first step in the right direction.

– from Americas Quarterly

Cuba to Diversify Export Markets, Services

May 13, 2013

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Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca (photo) said here in this capital that the diversification of export markets and services to support Cuba”s socio-economic development is a priority.

During the most recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, the minister described the promotion of these sectors in Cuba’s current economic situation as “vital,” as the island updates its economic model and faces the impact of a global crisis.

According to the summary of the meeting, as reported by media here, Malmierca said that the export of services has become the main source of foreign currency for Cuba, with its human capital representing a “great potential for continued increases.”

Some 68 percent of these exports are provided by health and tourism, with the possibility of adding computer services, communications, education, and sports services, he said.

For Malmierca, particular emphasis should be placed on the training of those involved in exported services.

In his speech, Malmierca also presented a report on irregularities affecting the Cuban economy that have been detected in the businesses operating with foreign capital and international contracts.

According to Malmierca, among the main causes and conditions that bring about the occurrence of these events are lax oversight and control mechanisms throughout the business, as well as problematic behavior and attitudes from managers and officials involved, either as a result of ignorance, inability or ethical violations.

The expanded Council of Ministers meeting, held on Friday, May 10, also analyzed issues such as the marketing of agricultural products, the investment process, the efficient use of machines, tools, and equipment, and how to face criminal activity in fuel sales.

Regarding the issues discussed, Cuba’s President Raul Castro called for placing due importance on resource conservation and the training of managers and employees in the updating of the economic and social model underway on the island.

(prensalatina)

Release of Rene Gonzalez Boosts Cuban Antiterrorists” Struggle

May 13, 2013

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The release of Rene Gonzalez is a tremendous source of joy and impetus in the struggle for the definitive return to the homeland of the Cuban antiterrorist fighters still held in the United States, an U.S. activist said today.

Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Five in the United States, said in statements to Prensa Latina via email that she imagines how the Cuban people feel “to see his brother at home.”

She stated that in the current situation, the solidarity movement, particularly in her country, should press even more the government of President Barack Obama to achieve a solution of the case.

La Riva recalled that next September 12 will marks 15 years since Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez, internationally known as The Five, were detained in the city of Miami.

She stressed that more news coverage than normal has been in that nation with the freedom Rene is now enjoying, not only because it is news, but also because he is free to express what he never had in prison or in the limited supervised release.

I personally feel a great emotion after hearing the public affirmation of Rene Gonzalez that he and his colleagues are “The Five and will always be The Five.”

Rene’s smile in all photos, the love between him and Olga (Salanueva, his wife) gives us much encouragement, La Riva said.

She stated that some members of her Committee will travel to Washington from May 30 to June 5 “for the important week of activities for The Five.”

In addition, “we continue organizing events for this summer and the 15th anniversary (of the detention of the antiterrorist fighters), even several forums at universities and law schools of the country.”

La Riva also announced that June 7 in New York, the great Left Forum, where thousands of people participate in forums and workshops about progressive struggles and issues of justice, will feature a panel of U.S. and Canadian writers to demand the release of the four still imprisoned antiterrorist fighters.

The activist, a member of the anti-war ANSWER coalition, stated that “Rene surpassed the unjust revenge of the U.S. government and won. He returned with his head held high. He fulfilled every day of his injust sentence and held firm.”

On May 3, District Judge Joan Lenard Florida accepted to modify the terms of Gonzalez’ supervised release, which he was serving in the United States since his release from prison on October 7, 2011.

The judge agreed that he remains in Cuba in exchange for his renunciation of U.S. citizenship. Gonzalez was born on August 13, 1956 in the city of Chicago.

After necessary formalities, the authorities of that country will spread to Rene Gonzalez on May 9 the certificate supporting the loss of that nationality. He is just a Cuban patriot, as he publicly expressed.

The Five monitored plans by Cuban-origin violent groups and individuals based in the south of Florida, and with impunity have executed terrorist attacks against the Cuban people.

(prensalatina)

Reflections on Anti-Cuban Terror by W. T. Whitney Jr.

May 13, 2013

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  Monthly Review Press

Bombs set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 killed three and wounded over 200 people.  The metropolitan area became a virtual war zone.  Officials at every level let loose with doomsday-style retaliatory proclamations.  For some, however, the clamor served to resurrect memories of U.S. terrorism — against Cuba for instance — reminding them that U.S. anti-terrorist verbiage was full of contradictions.

fire at coral gablesAlmost one year before the Marathon bombings, on April 27, 2012, the office of a tourist agency in Coral Gables, Florida that promotes charter flights and legal travel to Cuba was firebombed and destroyed.  A local blogger said of owner Vivian Mannerud: “Too bad she was not inside the office.”

Read more at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/whitney080513.html
See also:  http://moorbey.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/reflections-on-anti-cuban-terror/
http://youthandeldersja.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/cuban-americans-in-miami-condemn-arson-against-cuba-travel-company/

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