Archive for July, 2013

The Cuban Five Case Inside-Out

July 31, 2013

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by Dawn Gable

HAVANA TIMES — The endnotes of What Lies Across the Water* opens with: “The truth is — everybody lies.” But I believe author Stephen Kimber when he says that as part of his research for this book he read the more than 20,000-pages of United States of America vs. Gerardo Hernández ” from opening gavel to final sentencing.”

His detailed presentation of the case of the Cuban Five– five counter-terrorism agents, who operated in Miami and who refused to plea bargain when the larger network of Cuban agents they belonged to was arrested, is evidence of the painstaking digging Kimber has done to bring readers this full-blown account.

Although the subtitle is The Real Story of the Cuban Five, this book is much more than that. It peers into all the nooks and crannies of the last couple of decades of the ongoing saga of Miami-originated violence against the Cuban people, its leaders, and anyone perceived as friendly to its government or economy. It shines a light on famous villains such as Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch and introduces lesser known perpetrators like Francisco Chavez Abarca and Santiago Alvarez.

Relying on news articles, interviews, court evidence and government documents, in both English and Spanish, Kimber reports on the failed attempts by the U.S. and Cuban governments, in the late 1990′s, to cooperate on mutual national security concerns, employing a cast of characters ranging from U.S. diplomat Michael Kozak and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez as well as the FBI and Cuban State Security.

He draws from documents obtained through FIOA requests, filed by the National Security Archives and investigative journalists, to give shape to the newest piece of the puzzle– Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor hired to carry out aspects of the State Department’s regime change program inside Cuba, who is currently serving a 15 year sentence in a Cuban prison.

Far from being a boring account of deeds and misdeeds, Kimber employs eloquent prose and an enjoyable style to draw the reader into the tangled layers of terrorism and murder, espionage and deception, propaganda and myths, life sentences and impunity, meanness and hatred, love and sacrifice, romance and solitude, patriotism and delusion, good intentions and bad, and lies, lies, and more lies.

It reads like a page-turner novel, but it’s not. It is the unbelievably tragic history of modern U.S.-Cuba relations. Kimber, a professor of journalism at Halifax University and author of several other books, uses his brilliant turn of phrase to help his readers navigate through the tall tales and “official truths” guiding them to a more realistic view of the landscape and the prospects for diplomatic relations between the two feuding countries, for freedom for Alan Gross and the four Cuban agents still under lock and key, and for a life without fear of violence and intervention for the Cuban people.

I have only one criticism of the writing: the constant use of the term “America” when referring to the United States.

The only shortcomings I can mention in terms of content is, in reality, just my desire to keep the conversation going. Kimber begins his book listing its main characters, and ends it with a “where are they now” section. I would like to have seen more names on this lists.

For example, Michael Kozak, who was head U.S. diplomat in Cuba during the hotel bombing campaign and whose role in the FBI-Cuban State Security cooperative efforts are outlined in the book, is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which receives large sums of Cuba regime change money, which it funnels into the National Endowment for Democracy.

Hector Pesquera is another. As the book explains, he was the FBI agent in charge who ordered the arrest of the Cuban agents and later ordered the FBI’s files on Posada Carriles to be destroyed. While focusing his attention on the Cubans, he completely missed the 9-11 attackers who were preparing, within his jurisdiction, to murder thousands of U.S. citizens. Pesquera is currently the Superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police and recently there has been speculation that he is in the running to replace Janet Napolitano for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Lastly, whatever happened to the agents who turned state’s evidence against their brothers? Their sentences were up long ago. Surely they were not welcomed back to Cuba, but would they be safe in Miami. The big unsolved mystery in the case of the Cuban Five is how the FBI was originally tipped off to the agent network. Is there any reason to believe that one of those agents was a snitch all along?

I have been following the case of the Cuban Five for over a decade and have translated dozens of articles about their case. I have also translated entire books on exile violence against Cuba, but this book offered tidbits that I was unaware of, drew connections that I had not noticed before, and most importantly to me, confirmed some suspicions and dispelled a few rumors that I was unsure about. I am confident that even expert Cubanologists will find What Lies Across the Water useful, informative, at times infuriating, but always entertaining.

*Fernwood Publishing, 296 pages. Available for pre-order at Amazon.com

Why the US Has No Right to Lecture Latin America

July 31, 2013

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A Breathtaking Hypocrisy

by DANIEL WICKHAM *
Venezuela has announced that it is ending efforts to improve ties with the United States after the Obama administration’s nominee for the role of ambassador to the United Nations labelled the country “repressive.” Samantha Power, who is widely known for her strong stance on human rights, vowed to contest “the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia and Venezuela.”

For obvious reasons, Power is selective in who she choses to criticise. The likes of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have presided over major crackdowns on dissent in recent years, warrant no mention, which is not surprising given the US government’s staunch support for the regimes in question. Regarding Saudi Arabia, Washington’s attitude towards democracy is best expressed by William M. Daley, Obama’s chief of staff during the Arab uprisings, who said that “the possibility of anything (like the revolution in Egypt) happening in Saudi Arabia was one that couldn’t become a reality.” Daley explained that “for the global economy, this couldn’t happen”, referring of course to the importance of Saudi oil, which was described by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2003 as the primary reason for US support for the monarchy. An unsurprising claim, in light of the US State Department’s description in 1945 of the Gulf’s oil reserves as “a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

Returning to Latin America, the hypocrisy is again breathtaking. Condemning Venezuela as “repressive”, Power neglects to mention that the “most dramatic setback”, according to Americas Watch, for human rights in Venezuela came in 2002 when a coup d’etat, allegedly supported tacitly by the United States, removed Chavez from office and “dissolved the country’s democratic institutions.” It is also worth noting that the US supported enthusiastically the Caldera and Perez administrations which preceded Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution, both of which were vastly more repressive than the current ‘revolutionary’ government.

Also strikingly absent from Power’s remarks was any mention of Colombia, the United States’ closest ally in the region, which according to Americas Watch, “presents the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere.” This year’s annual report claims that “over the past decade, the Colombian army committed an alarming number of extrajudicial killings of civilians”, carried out in “a systematic fashion”, during which time the army was the highest recipient of US military aid in Latin America. Most of the killings occurred under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe, whom President Bush described in 2006 as “a personal friend” and “a strong believer in democracy and human rights.” Under Obama, Colombia has continued to receive more military aid than any other country in the hemisphere, with Mexico, whose well-documented record of “extrajudicial killings, disappearances” and “widespread torture” is not much better, coming second.

This practice- of giving military aid to the Hemisphere’s worst human rights abusers- runs throughout history. A 1979 study into Amnesty International’s reports on torture revealed that 25 of the world’s 36 most prolific torturers between 1945 and 1975 received military aid and training from the United States, with Latin American regimes accounting for “more than 80%” of the most urgent appeals for victims of torture at the time.

The military aid policy continued through the 1980s with the Reagan administration’s backing of the Contras in Nicaragua. According to a 1985 report by Reed Brody, who later became a spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, “the contras used American advice and dollars to terrorize the population of Nicaragua and hardly a word about it was printed in the United States.” Thousands of civilians were “assassinated, raped, tortured and mutilated” by forces who, in the words of President Reagan, were “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.”

In 1984, the World Court found the United States guilty of the “illegal use of force” against Nicaragua, and demanded that the government cease their sponsorship of the Contras and “pay Nicaragua reparations.” The US rejected the verdict and continued as before. In his Address to the Nation two years later, Reagan justified his administration’s ongoing support for the Contras by condemning the Nicaraguan government, without irony, as “a command post for international terror” which sought to “subvert and topple its democratic neighbours.”

The “democratic” neighbours referred to were the military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, both closely allied to the United States. Their records are not pretty. Under Reagan, and then Bush, the Salvadoran army was the biggest recipient of US military aid in the Hemisphere, killing tens of thousands of people during the country’s thirteen-year internal conflict. According to the New York Times’ top reporter in the country, some of the “worst massacres of civilians” were carried out by battalions trained by the United States, indicating “a whiff of secondary American responsibility.”

In Guatemala, the American-backed military massacred nearly 200,000 people during a civil war instigated, at least in part, by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1954. Atrocities peaked in the early 1980s under the rule of General Rios Montt, “a man of great personal integrity” according to President Reagan, whose conviction for genocide was overturned on a technicality earlier this year.

An Americas Watch report in 1985 said that the Reagan Administration “shares in the responsibility for the gross abuses of human rights” perpetrated in the country, an accurate perception in light of the US government’s provision of millions of dollars of military aid to Guatemala during “one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict.”

Investigate journalist Allan Nairn reports that “the Guatemalan military would pursue (villagers) using US-supplied helicopters and planes. They would drop US 50-kilogram bombs on them, and they would machine gun them using US-supplied heavy-caliber machine guns.” Asked if he should face trial, Rios Montt is alleged to have replied “if you’re going to be put me on trial, you have to try the Americans first.”

Today, Latin America is politically freer, but the horrors of the past, and more specifically the American role in them, have not been forgotten, as we have seen during the recent protests in Guatemala and Chile. Many Latin Americans will thus consider Samantha Power’s comments about Venezuela’s “crackdown on civil society” ideologically driven and hypocritical, in light of the American record in the region. This is with justification, as her narrow choice of “repressive” govts, limited solely to unfriendly regimes, indicates. Latin Americans understand this hypocrisy better than anyone. Their know their own history too well to fall for it again.

* Daniel Wickham is an assistant at the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

taken from Counterpunch

Fidel Castro : “I have lived to struggle”

July 31, 2013

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Compañero Fidel’s letter to leaders of delegations visiting Cuba on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons

Dear friends,

On Friday, July 26, the 60th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada regiment in Santiago de Cuba, and the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrison in Bayamo, arrived. I know that many delegations plan to travel to Cuba, to spend with us this date, on which our small, exploited island decided to continue the uncompleted struggle for the independence of our homeland.

Already, at that time, our movement was strongly influenced by the new ideas which were being debated around the world.

Nothing is repeated exactly the same in history. Simón Bolívar, America’s Liberator, proclaimed one day his desire to create in America, the largest and most just of nations, with its capital in the isthmus of Panama. This tireless creator and visionary was ahead of his time, later saying that the United States appeared to be destined to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.

Cuba suffered, as did South America, Central America and Mexico – its territory stolen with blood and fire by the insatiable, voracious northern neighbor which took its gold, oil, fabulous sequoia forests, its best lands and richest, most abundant fishing waters.

I will not, however, be with you in Santiago de Cuba, since I must respect the obvious resistance of the guardians of my health. I can, nevertheless, write and send you my ideas and recollections, which will always be useful, at least for the person who is writing.

A few days ago, as I observed, from the middle seat of a 4-wheel drive vehicle, what had been an old genetic center for milk production, I was able to read a brief, synopsis of just one paragraph from a speech I made on May Day in 2000, already 13 years ago now.

Time will erase those words written in black letters, on a white-washed wall.

“Revolution […] is struggling with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is a profound conviction that there is no power in the world that can crush the power of truth and ideas. Revolution is unity; it is independence, it is struggling for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.”

Now that it has been 60 years since the events which occurred in 1953, no doubt valiant and demonstrative of our people’s capacity to be creative and confront any task, starting from zero. Subsequent experience taught us that it would have been safer to begin the struggle in the mountains, something that we had planned to do if the Moncada had been taken and we were unable to resist the dictatorship’s military counter-offensive with the weapons we had in Santiago de Cuba, more than enough to triumph in that conflict and much more rapidly, in less time than was later invested.

The 160 men chosen for the operation were selected from among 1,200 we had trained, among youth in the provinces of Havana and Pinar del Rio, affiliated with a radical Cuban national party, at a time when a petty bourgeois spirit instilled by foreign owners, and their communications media, still influenced many, in all corners of the country, to a greater or lesser degree.

I had had the privilege of studying and had already acquired a political consciousness at the University, having started from zero. It is worth repeating what I have said on other occasions. I created along with Abel Santamaría and Jesús Montané the movement’s first Marxist cell, utilizing a biography of Karl Marx written by Franz Mehring.

The Communist Party, with serious and dedicated members in Cuba, was subjected to the vicissitudes of the international Communist movement. The Revolution, reinitiated July 26th, captured experiences from our history, the selfless and combative spirit of our working class, the intelligence and creativity of our writers and artists, as well as the ability latent in the minds of our scientists, which has grown exponentially. The present appears nothing like the past. We ourselves, those of us who chance called upon to play a leadership role, could be embarrassed by the ignorance which our knowledge still reflects. The day we fail to learn something new is a day lost.

Human beings are the product of rigorous laws which govern life. Since when? Since an infinite time ago. Until when? Until infinite time. Answers are as well.

I therefore respect the right of human beings to seek divine answers, although I don’t agree with them. Questions may be asked, as long as they do not tend to justify hate or lack of solidarity in the heart of our own species, an error which many have fallen into, at one or another moment in history.

That daring attempt was no doubt an improvised action. I confess that based on accumulated experience, it would have been more realistic and safer to have initiated that struggle in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. With the 18 rifles we managed to gather after the very difficult setback we suffered in Alegría de Pío, in part as a result of inexperience and not following instructions received by the movement in Cuba, and also because of our excessive confidence in the expeditionaries’ fire power, having more than 50 rifles with telescopic sights and in their shooting training. Attentive to the low-flying passes of the enemy’s combat planes, we neglected our ground vigilance and they attacked from a small hill a few meters from us. The enemy was never again able to surprise us that way. In the battles unleashed later, it was always the opposite, and in the final actions, in incessant fighting over 70 days, we defeated the offensive of more than 10,000 men from their elite forces, with less than 300 combatants.

In the battles fought over two years, the bombers and fighter planes of the enemy would be on top of us within 20 minutes. There is no evidence, however, that one combatant died for this reason during that difficult struggle. Everything changed in the following decades with new technology developed by the United States and added to the arsenals of reactionary forces in Latin America and the world allied with them. Peoples always found adequate ways to struggle.

You will be there, at the scene of the first battle.

After the events on July 26, one last car approached to pick me up and I got in the back seat of the vehicle full of personnel. Another combatant approached from the right; I got out and gave him my seat. The car left and I was left alone. Until the moment they picked me up the first time, in the middle of the street, with my semi-automatic Browning and 12 caliber shot cartridges, I tried to prevent two men from using a 50 caliber machine gun on the roof of one of the buildings of the large military installation’s central command. It was the only thing to be seen of the generalized fire fight that could be heard.

The few compañeros with whom Ramiro Valdés was able to enter the first barracks awoke the soldiers sleeping there and, as they later told to me, were in their underwear.

I wasn’t able to talk with Abel, or others in his group, who controlled the rear of the dormitories from a tall building at the back of the Civilian Hospital. I thought that it must have been absolutely obvious to him what was occurring. Perhaps he thought I had died.

Raúl, who was with Lester Rodríguez’s group, could clearly see what was going on and thought we were dead. When the head of this squadron decided to come down, take the elevator and arrive below, he grabbed the sergeant’s rifle. He did not resist, nor did any of the soldiers with him. Raúl took command of the group and organized their exit from the building.

At this moment, my fundamental concern was for the group of compañeros who were supposedly occupying the garrison in Bayamo and had not received any news from us. As far as I was concerned, I still had enough ammunition and intended to make the dictatorship’s soldiers pay dearly for my life.

Suddenly another car appeared, coming to get me and once again I harbored hopes of helping the compañeros in Bayamo with an action at the Caney garrison.

Several cars were waiting at the end of the avenue where I thought of taking the correct route to this location. But the compañero who was driving the car which came to pick me up, didn’t take the turn and continued to the house from which we had departed during the dawn hours. We changed our clothes there. I changed weapons and took a steel barrel semi-automatic 22 caliber rifle, with a bit longer range than the 12 gauge shotgun. I put some clothes on and with about 15 men – one wounded – we crossed a barbed wire fence just a few steps from there. Others left their weapons and took the vehicles trying to find a way out. Jesús Montané and some other leaders were with me. We walked for hours that sweltering afternoon along the north face of Gran Piedra, a high mountain we would try to cross, to move toward Realengo 18, over a steep road described by Pablo de la Torriente, an excellent revolutionary writer who wrote that a man with a rifle could resist an army from there. Pablo, however, died fighting in the Spanish Civil War, in which some thousand Cubans supported this people’s struggle against fascism. I had read him, but was never able to speak with him, since he had already traveled to Spain while I was still in high school.

We couldn’t continue on toward that deserted area and we stayed south of the mountain range. The mountainous zone I preferred for the guerilla struggle was located between the Cobre sanctuary and the Pilón sugar mill. I therefore planned to cross toward the other side of Santiago de Cuba’s bay, via a spot I knew since I studied at the Colegio de Dolores, in the city where you are meeting. A large portion of our very small group was exhausted by hunger and fatigue. A wounded combatant had been evacuated and Jesús Montané who could barely remain standing. Another two, with less responsibility, but healthier, left with me toward the west of those mountains. But the most dramatic and less heartening events were yet to come. That afternoon, we gave instructions to the rest of the compañeros to hide their feeble weapons someplace in the forest and that night head to the comfortable house of a campesino who lived on the edge of the road from Santiago to the beach, who had cattle and telephone communication with the city. They were no doubt intercepted by the army. The enemy, in any event, knew the area close to where we were moving. Before dawn, a heavily armed squadron of the military command, woke us with the barrels of their rifles.

The veins in their necks and the faces of those well-fed soldiers were pulsating, deformed by the excitement. We figured we were dead, but in the moment, a discussion broke out. They had not identified me. As they bound me and asked my name, I sarcastically gave one we used in jokes of the worst kind. I couldn’t believe they didn’t recognize the truth. One of them, with his disconcerted face, yelled that they were the defenders of the homeland. With a strong voice, I responded that they were oppressors, like the Spanish soldiers in our people’s struggle for independence.

The head of the patrol was a Black man who could barely maintain command. “Don’t shoot,” he kept yelling at the soldiers.

He whispered repeatedly, “Ideas are not killed, ideas are not killed.” At one point, he approached me and quietly said and repeated, “You boys are very brave.” Hearing those words, I said, “Lieutenant, I am Fidel Castro” and he responded, “Don’t tell anyone.” Once again chance intervened with all its force.

The Lieutenant was not a regiment officer; he had some other legal responsibility in the eastern region.

Later, even more important events occurred.

I gave instructions to the compañeros who needed to be demobilized to hide their weapons, and we would later take them to the location where they were to make contact with the Bishop’s people.

The public in Santiago de Cuba had reacted strongly to the crimes committed by Batista’s army against the revolutionaries.

Monsignor Pérez Serantes, Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, had obtained some favorable guarantees in response to his appeal to respect the lives of revolutionary prisoners. Sarría, nevertheless, had a battle to wage against the regiment command which this time delegated the task to one of the most well-known henchmen of the carnage imposed by the chief military officer in Santiago de Cuba, who ordered him to take those detained to the Moncada.

For the first time in our homeland, the youth had initiated such a struggle to confront what the country would be until January 1, 1959: a yankee colony.

Upon arriving to the local man’s house alongside the narrow road between the city and Siboney beach, a small truck was awaiting us. Sarría seated me between the driver and himself. A few hundred meters farther on, we met the vehicle of Commander Chaumont, who demanded that the prisoner be handed over. Like in a science fiction film, the lieutenant argued and insisted that he would not hand over the prisoner, that rather he would deliver him to the bivouac in Santiago de Cuba and not the regiment headquarters.

This is how the event [today] brings to mind an unusual experience.

It is impossible in such a brief time to express, to our illustrious visitors, the ideas which the incredible times we are living provoke in my mind. I cannot think that within 10 years, on the 70th anniversary, I might write a book. Unfortunately, no one can insure that there will be a number 70, an 80, a 90 or a 100th anniversary of the Moncada. During the Río de Janeiro international conference on the environment [1992], I said that a species was in danger of extinction: the human race. But then I thought it was a question of centuries. I am not as optimistic now. In any event, nothing worries me; life will continue to exist in the boundless dimensions of space and time.

In the meantime, I will say only something, since the day is breaking for all the inhabitants of Cuba and the world.

Leaders of all of the more than 200 countries, large and small, revolutionary or not, need to continue living. The task of creating justice and well-being is so difficult that the leaders of every country need authority, on the contrary, chaos will reign.

Recently, attempts were made to slander our Revolution, trying to present Cuba’s head of state and government as misleading the United Nations and other heads of state, charging him with duplicitous conduct.

I do not hesitate to assure you that although for many years we refused to sign agreements prohibiting such weapons – because we were not in favor of granting this prerogative to any state – we never attempted to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

We are against nuclear weapons. No nation, large or small, should possess this instrument of extermination, capable of putting an end to human existence on the planet. All of those who possess such weapons already have enough to create a catastrophe. Fear of dying has never prevented wars in any part of the planet. Today, in addition to nuclear weapons, the most imminent danger is climate change, which could within less than a century make survival for the human race impossible.

One Latin American and world leader to whom I wish to render a special tribute, given what he did for our people and others of the Caribbean and the world, is Hugo Chávez Frías. He would be among us today if he had not fallen during his valiant struggle for life. He, like us, did not struggle to live, but lived to struggle.

Fidel Castro Ruz
July 26, 2013

Letter to Obama: give me five

July 31, 2013

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Mr President Obama August 1st, 2013
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500 (USA)

Mr President,

During your stay in South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela could not receive you. This great man, who turned 95 on July 18, was too ill to meet you.

No doubt if you had been able to have an exchange with Nelson Mandela, he would have spoken to you about the five Cubans Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, René González and Ramón Labañino, whose lives have many similarities with his own.

September 12 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the arrest of these five Cubans who have received encouragement from around the world, and among them, those of the people of South Africa, included Nelson Mandela in person.

The Five, as Nelson Mandela, have been unjustly thrown in jail, and were sentenced to heavy penalties after a parody of a trial.

The five, as Nelson Mandela, have remained dignified and faithful to their convictions during all these years of their long detention, which is unfortunately not ended for four of them.

The Five, as Nelson Mandela, combated apartheid, and three of them have even fought in Angola.

During the endless and terrible 17 months the Five stayed in isolation cells ” the hole” of the Miami prison, thinking about the fate of Nelson Mandela was a source of comfort that has helped them not to sink into madness.

To the family of Mandela, during a private visit to them, you made the following statement about Mr Nelson Mandela: « “I also reaffirm the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world — including me. »

Mr President, let yourself be guided by this source of inspiration, and free these Cubans. You have this opportunity. You would thus act in the sense of justice, and make possible new relations between your country and Cuba. It would be the most beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Please receive, Mr President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.

Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France)

Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler, Janet Napolitano, to Mr. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Denis MacDonough, Pete Rouse, Rick Scott, and Charles Rivkin, United States Ambassador in France.

obama-tr

NUEVAS VIVIENDAS DONADAS POR ECUADOR A LOS SANTIAGUEROS DAMNIFIADOS POR SANDY HORAS DESPUÉS DEL ACTO POR EL ANIVERSARIO 60 DEL MONCADA.

July 30, 2013

Cuba Decries Strengthening of US blockade

July 30, 2013

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The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) denounced today the United States has harshened the blockade on the island over the last weeks, using for this action the Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department.

According to the information from the Ministry, last June 28, the OFAC fined one of the most important Italian banks, Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A., compelling it to pay two million 949 thousand 30 dollars.

According to the probe carried out by OFAC, the bank handled 53 transferences in favor of Cuba, from 2004 to 2008.

The Cuban government says the extraterritorial application of this sanction is evidence of the impudence with which the United States treats its European partners and sets a negative precedent for other institutions that do business with Cuba.

Besides this, adds the official note, last July 22nd, the OFAC fined once again another company for violating blockade regulations against Cuba, this time with five million 226 thousand 120 dollars, the biggest sum yet this year.

The victim this time was one of the main touroperator agencies in the US, American Express Travel Related Services Company. This is the second fine in less than one month and the fifth this year, stresses Minrex in an official note published in its digital website.

The OFAC announced this last sanction after concluding a detailed investigation consisting in the US obsession of preventing at all cost that US citizens travel freely to Cuba.

The fine was set off by the alleged sale of 14 thousand 487 air tickets to travel to Cuba from third countries, outside from the licence given to American Express Travel for the groups of “people to people” travel.

At the same time, the Minrex note says the fines reinforce the extraterritorial application of the blockade on companies for their operations in third countries.

The fundamental objective of this criminal and inhumane policy keeps on harming and bearing suffering on the Cuban people, concludes the communique.

Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba Ends in Caracas

July 30, 2013

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Delegates to the encounter advocate the end of the economic and political war by the United States against Cuba, and the development of an international campaign in favor of the Five Cuban Heroes.
By: Osviel Castro Medel

CARACAS, Venezuela.— The Seventh Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, which took place from July 24 to July 27 in Caracas, Venezuela, concluded with a homage to the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez Frías at the Cuartel de la Montaña (Mountain Barracks), where his mortal remains lie.

About 500 delegates from more than 30 countries took part in the four-day encounter, full of intense activity. The delegates advocated the end of the economic and political war by the United States against Cuba, and the development of an international campaign in favor of the Five Cuban Heroes.

Cultural activities, master lectures, workshops to debate, and protocol ceremonies were carried out in the encounter to support the Cuban Revolution. The Eternal Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution Hugo Chavez, who would have turned 59 years old on July 28, was frequently mentioned during the encounter.

Among the lecturers were Aleida Guevara; Vice-president of the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power Ana María Mari Machado; journalist Stella Calloni, from Argentina; and the deputy and member of the Venezuelan Communist Party Yul Yabour.

Other personalities were also present such as the Executive Vice-President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza, who officially opened the encounter; the member of the Cuban Communist Party Politburo Mercedes López Acea; Venezuelan professor Luis Britto García; the president of the Cuban Institute Friendship with the Peoples, Kenia Serrano; the president of the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), Miguel Barnet; the son of one of the Barbados’s martyrs Camilo Rojo; Irma Sehwerert, mother of René González, and Ailí Labañino, the daughter of Ramón Labañino, one of the anti-terrorist fighters, unjustly held in US penitentiaries.

The delegates analyzed, in different panels, the importance of the insurrection carried out on July 26th, 1953, the inspiring example of the Five Cuban Heroes, and the legacy of Latin-American integration left by Hugo Chávez. This last panel counted on the participation of the former Cuban Ambassador to Venezuela, Germán Sánchez.

The Meeting also included a discussion panel entitled En Defensa de la Humanidad, dedicated to the ten years of the creation of the Net for the Defense of Human Rights, the cultural gala Al son de los pueblos libres, and a sports festival in the community of Coche, with the participation of some great Cuban sporting figures like Driulis González, Eduardo Paret, Yumileidis Cumbá, Zuleidys Ortiz, Tomás Herrera, Yoel García, Jorge Jay Masó and Enrique Cepeda.

The participants in the event also made a vigil at the Cuartel dela Montaña to honor Hugo Chávez.

Translated by ESTI for JuventudRebelde

¿Por qué twitter bloqueó a los periodistas cubanos el 26 de julio?

July 29, 2013

El blog de La Polilla Cubana

El por qué, nos lo explica la fraterna pinareña Belkis Pérez Cruz. El ¿para qué? nos lo preguntamos cada día. ¿No se convencen que no podrán con nosotros? Nos podrán bloquear o desaparecer de Internet cada twitt, cada post, cada perfil de facebook… pero no van a poder con Cuba!

¿Por qué twitter bloqueó a los periodistas cubanos el 26 de julio?
Por Belkys Pérez Cruz

Muchos periodistas cubanos amanecieron este 26 de julio sin cuenta de twitter, otros vieron cómo en el transcurso de la mañana la red social informaba que habían alcanzado el límite máximo de tweets permitidos, sin que fuera cierto. Todos sin excepción plasmaban en 140 caracteres la grandeza de Cuba y el amanecer en Santiago.

26 de julio en la Patria, fecha de gloria para los cubanos. Miles de hombres y mujeres en el mundo, solidarios con Cuba, sienten como suya la causa del Moncada…

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Instan en Venezuela a reimpulsar campaña por Los Cinco

July 29, 2013

Encuentro Continental de Solidaridad

cinco-heroes-candado

Caracas.- Aily Labañino, hija de uno de los cuatro luchadores antiterroristas cubanos presos desde hace 15 años en Estados Unidos, instó a impulsar acciones concretas para hacer aún más efectiva la campaña internacional por su liberación.

La joven -quien participó aquí en el VII Encuentro Continental de Solidaridad con Cuba- llamó ante la prensa a que se sumen cada vez más personas a la lucha por la excarcelación de su padre, Ramón Labañino; y de Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero y Fernando González.

René González -el otro integrante del grupo conocido internacionalmente como Los Cinco (Cuban Five)- salió de prisión en octubre de 2011 y pasó a régimen de libertad supervisada hasta que una jueza modificó esa condición y le permitió permanecer en Cuba (donde se encuentra desde el 22 de abril) a cambio de renunciar a su ciudadanía estadounidense.

Aily Labañino manifestó que la cita solidaria -a la que asistieron…

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En VIDEO: internet, Estados Unidos y el espionaje

July 29, 2013

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