Archive for June, 2015

Cuba willing to continue human rights talks with EU

June 27, 2015

convergencia

Cuba reiterated its willingness on Friday to participate in further meetings with the European Union (EU) to discuss human rights on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual respect.

A report published by Cuban Foreign Ministry confirmed the island’s decision to “continue these exchanges, based on the recognition and respect of the conceptual differences and the willingness to address any topic, on an equal sense of balance, reciprocity and mutual respect.”

The statement, posted on the website http://www.cubaminrex.cu, refers to the meeting between diplomats from Cuba and the EU, who met on Thursday in Brussels discussing the basic principles of human rights for the first time.

This is part of an ongoing negotiation aiming to reach a political and economic collaboration agreement between the Caribbean island and the European bloc.
The meeting was a “technical dialogue” that took place in a “friendly and professional” environment, according to the official document.

Cuban representatives asked to discuss issues such as racial discrimination, vulnerable groups’ human rights, including migrants, religious and ethnic minorities, and protecting human rights in the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile the European bloc considered that the first bilateral meeting on human rights showed a common commitment to “deepening relations” and supporting respect for human rights.

The venue, date and agenda of the next meeting will be defined through diplomatic channels according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

A year ago Cuba and the EU began a process to normalize bilateral ties.

The Caribbean island is the only Latin American country without a political and economic collaboration agreement with the European bloc.

EU relations with Cuba are currently governed by the Common Position; a document adopted by the EU in 1996, conditioning the relations with Havana to certain requirements of “democracy and respect for human rights”.

Cuba rejected this document as an “interference in its domestic affairs”.

-Xinhua/ANA

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Robert Kennedy Jr.’s 25 Truths on the Secret Negotiations between Fidel Castro and President Kennedy

June 27, 2015

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  Global Research
June 25 2015
By Salim Lamrani

Al Mayadeen

fidel y kennedyMore than half a century ago, Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy conducted secret negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of the assassinated President, recounts these events and praises Obama’s policy of rapprochement, which is making his uncle’s “dream” a “reality(1)”.[1]

  1. After the October 1962 missile crisis, a conflict that almost led to a nuclear disaster, and its resolution that included the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and US missiles from Turkey, President John F. Kennedy decided to undertake a process of normalization of relations with Cuba.
  2. During his trip to the Soviet Union in 1962, Fidel Castro spoke at length with Nikita Khrushchev about Kennedy. According to the former president’s nephew, “Castro returned to Cuba determined to find a path to reconciliation” with the United States.
  3. In…

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Cuba and European Union hold ‘frank’ talks on human rights.

June 26, 2015

Lifting the embargo on Cuba: Why we need to act now

June 26, 2015

cuba si

By Scott D. Gilbert

The latest survey results are stunning. According to a poll by USF Sarasota-Manatee, slightly over 91 percent of respondents want the Cuban embargo lifted. The longer the government takes to comply with this decisive mandate, the more Americans, as well as Cubans, will suffer the consequences.

Virtually every U.S.-Cuban policy expert and political analyst knows that sooner or later the embargo will be consigned to history. But the operative words are “sooner or later.” If it’s later, U.S. businesses, both corporations and smaller companies, will continue to miss out on rich investment opportunities that promise significant returns for themselves, their shareholders, their employees, and their communities.

To be sure, it’s not just corporate behemoths that stand to gain from a level playing field. As of this writing, family farmers and ranchers have also joined with those demanding an end to the embargo, especially smaller rural stakeholders that depend on exports to survive. For them, Cuba is an untapped market, made all the more promising as Cuban spending power, projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.6 percent through 2020, continues to increase.

Despite U.S. trade missions to the island and somewhat looser constraints on trade, the myopia that keeps the embargo in place is costing everybody money. Everybody, that is, except foreign business interests that, absent American competition, will invest all the more fruitfully, as long as the embargo tilts the competitive odds in their favor. It’s no accident that France’s President François Hollande led a large trade mission to Cuba, while representatives from Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia have likewise paid visits.

“It’s impossible to deny that diplomatic detente between Washington and Havana has accelerated the process of normalization between Cuba and Europe,” said Salim Lamrani, a Cuba expert at France’s University of La Reunion.

While some in the U.S. nurse old political wounds, these foreign competitors are already planning investments in real estate, infrastructure projects, agriculture, Internet technology, telecom, pharmaceutical, automotive, financial services, and more. Each area represents fertile ground for American interests as well, once the embargo is lifted. And every day that goes by until then reflects increasingly lost opportunities stateside.

Ironically, while the long-overdue thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations has encouraged and even accelerated foreign investment in Cuba, the vast majority of U.S. businesses, still shackled by the embargo, cannot compete in that marketplace.  This is not about leveling the playing field for American companies; it is about just letting them onto the field.

The embargo is a vestige of an archaic foreign policy. Arguably, it was a failed policy from the get-go, accomplishing nothing except to deepen the suffering of average Cubans who themselves had little or no participation in the political activities that rankled the U.S. for six decades.

At this point we should be beyond arguing the historical merits of the embargo.  Indeed, the majority of Cuban Americans – the children and grandchildren of the émigrés who came to the U.S. in the 1960s – support lifting the embargo.

Some memories never fade; some wounds never close. But supporters of the embargo need to consider how little they have to gain, and how much the eleven million people on the island stand to lose, if the embargo drags on.

The U.S. has enough to do to fight today’s battles without needlessly prolonging yesterday’s.

Gilbert, Esq., heads Reneo, a Washington-based legal-strategic consulting firm.  He waged a successful pro bono legal campaign to free Alan Gross, who was imprisoned for five years in Cuba.

TheHill.com.blog

Can the USA be trusted as a sincere partner?

June 26, 2015

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

by Trevor Brown

Recent moves by the USA regarding their relationship with Cuba, has raised the perennial question as to their trust-worthiness in international relations. This comes against the background of the December 2014 announcement of rapprochement between the  states and subsequent high level meetings of officials  aimed at paving the way for normalisation of relations; a meeting  between  Presidents Raul  Castro and  Barack Obama at OAS summit  in April  and on May 30th and the removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation which is more suited for the authors of this ‘rogues list’ than Cuba, who should not have been there in the first place.

Now in June 2015, there comes the report that instead of their Appropriations Committee approving funds for the establishment of a US Embassy in Cuba, which should be a logical expectation and outcome of the recent diplomatic…

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US allocates ‘democracy-funds’ for Cuba but none for a US embassy

June 26, 2015

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  TeleSUR

13 June 2015

cuba us relations 1

A man stands near the national flags of the U.S. and Cuba (R) on the balcony of a hotel being used by the first U.S. congressional delegation to Cuba since the change of policy announced by U.S. president Barack Obama

ned2Despite claiming to be taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. has allocated funding for the NED. The US Committee on Appropriations approved on Friday US$30 million for “programs to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba, of which not less than US$8,000,000 shall be for NED,” as quoted from the committee report.

The NED is the National Endowment for Democracy, a fund used by the U.S. to undermine left-wing and socialist governments and support opposition groups by supposedly promoting “democracy.”

“The Committee directs that funds shall only be used for programs and activities pursuant to section 109(a) of the Cuban Liberty and Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 and…

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The Five on Robben Island: A tribute to Mandela

June 26, 2015

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Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René visited the island where Mandela was imprisoned and paid tribute to his example of the triumph of human spirit over adversity.

Deisy Francis Mexidor

The Five toured the prison when Nelson Mandela was held by the apartheid regime for 18 years. Photo: Prensa Latina
ROBBEN ISLAND, South Africa.—A sign in English and Afrikaans announces arrival on Robben Island, situated off the coast of Cape Town, a site which encompasses a painful history, thankfully now past for South Africans.

The island of dry sand and strong winds, surrounded by sharp reefs and the unique sound of the thousands of birds that fly overhead, is today a symbol of freedom.

To get there, you have to board a boat at the Nelson Mandela memorial located in the commercial and tourist district of Waterfront.

The journey is about 12 kilometers, a half hour boat ride, enough to reflect on the triumph of human spirit over adversity encompassed by this historical site.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Five Cuban anti-terrorists who themselves were greatly inspired by the spirit of resistance of Prisoner No.46664, Nelson Mandela, during their imprisonment in the U.S., traveled to the island as part of their tour of South Africa.

Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years that the apartheid regime kept him imprisoned on Robben Island.

Accompanied by Ahmed Kathrada, who was also imprisoned alongside Mandela, the Five toured the historical site that was opened as a museum on January 1st, 1997 and declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999.

Certain areas are usually off-limits to tourists, but Kathrada provided the Five with access to Mandela’s cell, a small, damp and unimaginable space.

They studied the iron bars through which only hands could pass, the blanket on the floor that was all Mandela had for a bed, the bench and a small window.

Each of them looked, touched the walls and tried to take an almost photographic image with their own eyes. It was a private moment of reflection. No questions were required.

Then, as they gathered to take a photo, Fernando noted the date: “Today is June 23. In 2001, 14 years ago, the Comandante en Jefe (Fidel Castro) said we would return (to Cuba).” Meanwhile, Gerardo wrote in the guestbook on behalf of the Five: “It has been a great honor to visit this place together with some of the brave compañeros of Nelson Mandela.”

The message continued, “all of them were a source of inspiration and strength for the Five Cubans to withstand the more than 16 years in U.S. jails.”

Gerardo stressed that this was a legacy that “the Five will honor for the rest of our lives.”

CUBAN ANTI-TERRORISTS RECEIVED BY SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT

CAPE TOWN.—Members of the African National Congress (ANC) in the South African parliament received the Five during their visit to the legislative capital of the country.

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli, said that the Five are an inspiration across the world.

In exclusive statements to Prensa Latina, Tsenoli highlighted the example of resistance that these men provided whilst in U.S. prisons, where they remained confined for an extended and unjust period of time.

The legislator also stressed the contribution of Cuban solidarity to the African cause, a sentiment that is continuously repeated.

Since their arrival on June 21, when they were welcomed by ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, the Five have had the chance to talk with the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

They were also warmly welcomed by members of the Society of Friendship with Cuba in South Africa (FOCUS) and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), who did so much to secure their release.

The visit by Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René will conclude on July 3 and forms part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter.

According to their busy schedule, they will travel this Thursday, June 25, to the province of Gauteng to complete their tour of five of the nine South African provinces.

The Five then continue on to Namibia and conclude their tour of Africa in Angola, where three of them (Gerardo, Fernando and René) served as internationalist fighters.

Cuba: Estrategia para conectar a los cubanos a Internet desde sus hogares ya está diseñada

June 25, 2015

Cubanito en Cuba

internet_3

La estrategia para conectar a los cubanos a Internet desde sus hogares ya está diseñada, y parece ser que llevarla a feliz término será una prioridad del gobierno cubano en los próximos años, comenzando desde este mismo mes.

Por Carlos Alberto Pérez

Un documento de ETECSA titulado ¨Servicio de Internet desde el hogar¨, cedido en calidad de exclusivo a ¨La Chiringa de Cuba¨ por una fuente que pidió quedar en anonimato, establece que en la primera etapa de implementación de este servicio se ofertarán paquetes de acceso a Internet de banda ancha en los hogares cubanos. Este servicio, que será ofertado en modalidad de pago por consumo a través de tecnología ADSL, ofrece paquetes con diferentes velocidades de conexión que los usuarios podrán disfrutar en sus hogares. También deja claro que “se comercializará la oferta plana aprobada mediante la resolución 384/2014, a personas naturales autorizadas por el…

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Cuba: An unusual battle in Washington

June 25, 2015

NYC Havana Blog

Cuba: An unusual battle in Washington

HAVANA — Because of the polarization that exists between Democrats and Republicans, the recent creation of the bipartisan coalition Engage Cuba, intended to promote relations with the island, is rare. Suffice it to analyze its composition to notice its singularity.

Its president is James Williams, a young consultant who was an adviser to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Washington bureau chief for Trimpa Group, a Democratic organization based in Colorado that specializes in the promotion of — in their words — “progressive policies and strategies.”

Also from the Democratic ranks comes one of the so-called “senior advisers,” Lucas Albee, who was chief of staff to senators Mark Warner and Patrick Leahy, two of the main promoters of a change of policy toward Cuba in that organization.

Joining them with the same title of senior adviser is Stephen Law, with vast experience in the conservative Republican ranks. He…

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Update on Congressional Actions Regarding Cuba 

June 24, 2015

dwkcommentaries

A June 12thpost reviewed the status of appropriations bills relating to Cuba in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now we look at what happened last week in Congress on these and other measures.

National Defense Authorization Act FY 2016[1]

On June 18, the Senate passed its version of the spending authorization for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2016.

The White House threatened to veto the bill. The main bone of contention is the bill’s continuation of sequestration of funds and use of so-called budget gimmicks. The White House opposes also opposes the bill because it contains language that it claims would make it hard to shutter the U.S. prison facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It calls the process for winning congressional approval of closing Guantánamo “unnecessary and overly restrictive.”

The same day, however, Senator John McCain (Rep., AZ) said that Defense Secretary Aston Carter had pledged to…

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