Archive for the ‘changes in cuba’ Category

Cuba has a plan for responding to climate change

June 17, 2017

By W. T. Whitney Jr., June 15, 2017

Cuba’s Council on Ministers on April 25 approved “Life Task (“Tarea Vida”): the State’s Plan for Confronting Climate Change.” Cuba’s National Assembly will soon consider Life Task for approval. Implementation will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment (CITMA). The ministry’s head, Elba Rosa Pérez, indicated that the Plan will require “progressive investments executed over short (the year 2020), medium (2030), long (2050), and very long (2100) terms.”

The unveiling of Life Task comes as the latest manifestation of Cuba’s sustained endeavor to contain the impact of climate change. The Cuban government has dedicated resources and talent to the project over the course of many years. Policy makers have relied on facts, data, and ongoing research. The process has been orderly and thorough, and yet accepting of modifications to fit with new realities. Crucially, the nation has responded to climate change on behalf of all Cubans.

In June1992, Cuban President Fidel Castro was in Rio de Janeiro attending the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – the “Rio Earth Summit.” There, nations of the world arranged for future UN – sponsored meetings at which scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would be reviewed. Those meetings, the “Conferences of the Parties,” have made recommendations and facilitated actions. The Paris agreement of 2015 was one of them.

Castro could well have stayed home in 1992; in the wake of the Soviet collapse Cubans were enduring humanitarian and economic disasters. He was in Brazil because the Cuba he spoke for espouses solidarity with all people. In remarks to the delegates, he gave voice to Jose Marti’s idea that “the homeland is humanity.” Castro warned of danger to humankind “due to the accelerated and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions.”

Afterwards, the government he led took steps on behalf of its own people. It created the Institute of Meteorology, the Institute of Hydraulic Resources, and networks of environmental agencies. It produced maps: a “Climate Atlas,” a national atlas, and soil and geological maps. In 1993 it created “The National Program for the Environment and Development.” The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment took shape in 1994. In 1997, Law 81 defined the structure and functioning of centers specializing in environmental work.

Cuba’s Academy of Sciences initiated studies in 1991. The Institute of Meteorology issued two major reports in 1998 and in 2000. After Hurricanes Charley and Ivan in 2004, research efforts intensified. Collective scientific work culminated in a summarizing report released by the Institute of Meteorology in 2014. The 430 page document took shape over three years. Titled “Impacts of Climate Change and Measures for Adaptation in Cuba,” it contained articles by dozens of authors from 26 Cuban research institutes.

The report surveys manifestations of climate change in Cuba, presents likely climate scenarios “for 2050 and 2100,” evaluates effects on various socio-economic sectors, identifies knowledge gaps, and establishes priorities in protecting natural resources. It calls upon the government to develop new capacities and to apply remedial and protective measures in an integrated fashion.

Findings of the report found their way into Cuba’s contribution to the “Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” Speaking of the report, Myrta Kaulard, a United Nations representative assigned to Cuba, observed that, “The team of Cuban experts was capable of achieving equilibrium between the scientific rigor imposed by an investigation of such magnitude and the necessity to explain the anticipated impacts in clear language.”

CITMA head Elba Rosa Pérez on April 25 explained that the “Life Task” endeavor was the fruit of research, experimentation, agricultural innovations, and previous experience with protecting natural systems. She identified three priorities: “preserving lives in the most vulnerable areas,” food security, and tourism.

The plan calls for “strategic actions,” among them: a ban on new home construction in vulnerable coastal areas, adaptation of infrastructure to coastal flooding, adaptation of land use to drought and rising sea water, and new farming methods.

Specific projects will include : crop diversification; development of heat-resistant plant varieties; protection of urban infrastructure and dwellings; rebuilding of urban sea fronts; relocation of homes; restoration of protective eco-systems such as beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps; improved engineering and hydraulic infrastructure for coastal regions; enhanced water availability; and reforestation to protect soil and water sources.

All in all, Cuba’s preparations for meeting threats on the way from climate change have been persistent and comprehensive; ample human and material resources were available.

Fidel Castro’s remarks in 1992 in Brazil foreshadowed the tension that would come later between two opposed ways of dealing with climate change. People in wealthy nations, he said, enjoy “lifestyles and consumer habits that ruin the environment; … consumer societies are chiefly responsible for this appalling environmental destruction.”

Castro was referring to the flow of wealth from poor to rich nations and implying that acquisitiveness in those countries fosters expanded production. He continued: “They have saturated the atmosphere with gases, altering climatic conditions with the catastrophic effects we are already beginning to suffer.” Today we realize that expanded production requires unlimited energy sources, mostly in the form of fossil fuels. So carbon emissions increase, and global warming accentuates.

“Make human life more rational,” Castro insisted. “Adopt a just international economic order. Use science to achieve sustainable development without pollution. Pay the ecological debt. Eradicate hunger and not humanity.” In effect, he was saying that privilege in the industrialized countries rests on subjecting the world’s majority population to poverty and suffering.

The entire line of reasoning, from Castro in 1992 to what we know now, confirms the imperialist and exploitative nature of imperatives shaping the prevailing worldwide approach to climate change. It also demonstrates the link between climate change and capitalist modes of living and producing.

Socialist Cuba has long resisted big – power pretentions and no longer do private businesses and corporations exploit workers there. In responding to climate change, aggravated by capitalism, Cuba had the right tools available, the very ones that were useful as Cuba moved toward a socialist society. Cuba elaborated a plan, and did so collectively. Planners looked at realities, subjecting them to scientific study. In a socialist society plans developed under state auspices serve the good of all. They don’t allow for accumulation or profiteering.

The End of Ideology in Cuba?

January 10, 2017

By Arnold August.
Jan 9, 2017 7:55 PM

In 1960, the American sociologist and academic Daniel Bell
(1919–2011) published The End of Ideology. It became a
classic book in official political science. The publication was
listed by Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most
influential non-fiction books in the second half of the 20th
century. While there were other “end of ideologies”
in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bell’s is considered the
most authoritative. The many varieties that emerged from this
school of thought have a common denominator. While not
oversimplifying this important trend, for the purposes of this
article one can say that it surfaced out of the perceived
failures of both socialism in the former U.S.S.R. and capitalism
in the West. It was born out of opposition to

In November 1968, along with other political science students at
McGill University in Montreal, I founded the Political Science
Students Association. It organized a strike around two basic
demands. The first was student participation on faculty hiring
committees; the second, linked to this potential student
empowerment, demanded a more inclusive faculty and curriculum.
This would include writings other than by Daniel Bell (who, of
course, was considered mandatory reading and enjoyed uncontested
reference in political science), progressive social scientists
and the works of Marx and Lenin. These were all excluded at the
time. After a 10-day occupation and strike, the students’
demands were finally met by the university.

Bell was blind to the inevitable uprisings that were about to
take place in the U.S. among African-Americans shortly after his
best-seller rolled off the press. These progressive struggles,
like those of the Native peoples, who also revolted, have their
origins in the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1960s, American students
were also attracted to alternative ideologies and politics. In
fact, the youth movement was omnipresent throughout North America
and much of Europe. While this inclination in the 1960s was
characterized by different left-wing political and ideological
features, and experienced its ups and downs, it was the death
knell for the End of Ideology hypothesis. However, Bell’s
heritage keeps coming back to haunt us.

In Cuba, in the last year or so, there has been a steady increase
in the End of Ideology code words and buzz phrases emitted by
some marginal Cuban bloggers and intellectuals. They were timid
at first but became increasingly bold. To mention just a few:
complaining of what they see as a “sterile dichotomy
between socialism and capitalism”; advising Cuban
revolutionaries to be “balanced and more profound in
offering their criticism” of U.S. imperialism; opposing
what they consider the extremist “Fidelista” and
“anti-Castro” positions, placing both on the same
footing; labelling those who are Marxist-Leninist or Fidelista as
“extremists” or “fanatics”; writing
about “two major fallacies of what it means to be a
revolutionary in Cuba, from the left and right,” both
being based on “exclusive dogma”; and, finally,
asserting that “life is much more profound than even

Reading these pieces, my university days back in 1968 kept
piercing through my thought process. How was it possible that we
opposed the End of Ideology in the heart of capitalism yet now it
rears its head in Cuba, of all places? One can argue that the
opposition in Cuba is coming from the “left,” that
is, from those who claim that they support the Revolution. Well,
where else can it emerge if not from the so-called left? This is
Cuba. Let us not forget that Bell had identified as a leftist.
His opposition to ideology was ostensibly from the leftist
outlook and not the right. This, after all, was how he won his
credibility and credentials. Bell became disillusioned with
socialism. He could not see an alternative so he decided to wage
a struggle against both capitalism and socialism. His work is a
reflection of his own personal/political predicament.
Objectively, however, this so-called neutrality against extremes
consists in throwing a life jacket in support of capitalism. It
is no accident that he is so appreciated by the ruling elites of
the West.

I have always maintained that the most dangerous opposition to
the Cuban Revolution comes from the so-called left, and not from
the openly right Plattists, or annexationists. It is a cancer in
Cuban society that, if left to grow without sharp ideological
resistance, can influence the most naive, especially among youth,
intellectuals and artists.

When Bell wrote his essays in the late 1950s, which were
eventually compiled in his 1960 volume, Cuba was the scene of the
most glaring refutation in the world of his theory: the 1953
Moncada attack, its ensuing program and the Triumph of the
Revolution on January 1, 1959. Fidel Castro and the July 26
Movement initiated in embryonic form the road toward a new
Marxist-Leninist revolutionary ideology for Cuba. Far from being
a period characterized by the end of ideology, Cuba provided the
world with a resurgence of – and confidence in –
the need for ideology. It represented the end of the End of
Ideology. The Cuban Revolution erupted at the height of the Cold
War yet it dug in its heels against any intimidation from the
left or from imperialism. It did not represent the politically
correct action and thinking at the time, not of the left and even
less so of the right. Thus, in the initial period, Fidel had the
acumen to not reveal the entire scenario. However, ideology was
at the centre of the action and spirit.

Since 1953, Cuba has been and continues to be the quintessence of
cultivating ideological principles. Every written and spoken word
of Fidel is impregnated with ideology. It is not stagnant; on the
contrary, it is continuously evolving according to the context.
Otherwise, Cuba would not have been able to outlast its enemies
all this time.

I am convinced that one of the main implicit objectives of the
international corporate media campaign against the persona of
Fidel right after his passing was imperialism’s revenge
against him for not capitulating on ideology. Why, they may ask
in frustration, did the Cuban Revolution never buy into the End
of Ideology? It should have, according to official political
science. Yet, after all these years, from July 26, 1953 to
November 25, 2016, Fidel lived and died as he asked of others: a
humble revolutionary.

In this historical context today, to try to impregnate Cuban
political culture with “neutrality” on ideology,
opposition to “extremes,”
“equidistance” between socialism and capitalism,
and so forth does not constitute a challenge to dogmatism of the
left as it tries to portray itself. The real defiance is against
socialism and Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the 1960s,
Bell’s theory appealed to the ruling circles, who wanted
to preserve the status quo. The elites were in power. They were
not in any danger of being dislodged by their own capitalism! The
End of Ideology critique of capitalism was then just a convenient
cover for the critique of socialism. At McGill, in 1968, that was
the main argument of the conservative faculty and administration.
They were supposedly not in favour or against any ideology. All
political options were welcome, but Bell was more welcome. He was
supposedly against capitalism and socialism. However, those who
favoured the capitalist status quo relied on the End of Ideology.
Those who opposed the “extreme” ideology of the
left were fully merged with the capitalist ideology, serving to
propagate and elaborate it. The purpose of the End of Ideology,
in the 1960s and now in Cuba, is to put an end to
Marxist-Leninist and socialist ideology.

Source: Prensa Latina\
eology-in-cuba <\

Arnold August , a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author
of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more
recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion .
Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are, on the one hand
the U.S. and on the other hand, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August and

Cuba, EU Normalization Agreement Imminent

February 25, 2016


The two parties sit down for a seventh round of talks next week.

European Union officials are set to resume talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba next week. The EU consulate in Havana reported Tuesday that an agreement is likely to be reached soon.

Representatives for both countries will meet in Havana March 3-4 for a seventh round of talks. These talks will be led by the EU’s Christian Leffer and Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno. The parties have failed to reach a consensus on human rights and trafficking issues in previous talks.

Cuba is calling on the European Union to scrap its two decade-long “common position” mandate, under which Cuba would be required to adopt democratic and economic reforms as a predicate to the restoration of full diplomatic and economic ties. The EU has eased its position on democratic reforms by Castro’s regime, following Havana’s historic July 2015 détente with Washington.

The EU formally expedited processes toward normalizing relations with the island country in mid-2014, after Washington began talks with Cuba. The July agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of the revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, fully restored US-Cuban diplomatic relations.

Cuba is the only Latin American country without full diplomatic and economic relations with the EU. In 2003, the EU suspended relations following Havana’s efforts to crack down on foreign journalists and activists investigating humanitarian conditions in the island country.

The restoration of ties with leading Western governments is seen by many as a positive step for the dictatorship, a government mired in poverty after decades of trade restrictions and embargoes left the island country resource-strapped.  Some worry, however, that the restoration of relations with leading Western economies may come at a steep cost for the Cuban people, with foreign multinationals likely to profit on cheap labor, pristine natural resources, and tourism.

Cuban relations with the West serve vital security imperatives. The island is a mere 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the US, and, during the Cold War, Soviet-Cuban relations presented a strategic threat. Cuba functioned at the time as a regional hub for possible missile launches against the US. Culminating in the notorious Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis, these early-1960s incidents chilled American-Cuban relations for over two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet state.

Read more:

Liberalizing the Cuban Economy…For Whom?

February 25, 2016

By Manuel E. Yepe

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

The coming visit to Cuba, on March 21 and 22, of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has the expressed goal of contributing to the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.

But the road to such normalization cannot be undertaken mirroring the model of a situation that existed at some period in the past, because the links between the two sides have never been truly “normal”.

And, in what way could the US oligarchy obtain benefits from the negotiations that are taking place for that purpose in Washington and Havana?

Demands linked to a number of issues have already fallen into complete disrepute. These issues are: human rights (regarding which Cuba shows many accomplishments and the US serious deficiencies); democracy (a term the US foreign policy systematically confuses with capitalism); ties with US enemies (these change constantly because of US foreign policy’s inclination to war); religious intolerance (Cuba is highly regarded for its complete openness to all religions both internally and globally); political fanaticism (Cuban diplomacy enjoys great prestige and has earned outstanding successes in its contributions to conflict resolution in various parts of the world).

Now it appears –at least considering what is reflected by US-controlled or greatly influenced corporate media– that most efforts are focused on demands for the liberalization of the island’s economy to increase its vulnerability to the appetites of Wall Street.

The current slogan, repeated in different ways by these means is “the Cuban government must liberalize its economy in response to every step taken by the United States to partially soften its blockade of the island.”

Derived from this slogan is the warning that “the thaw between Cuba and the United States moves very slowly because of the decision of Havana not to lose control of its economy.”

On other occasions they have used officials or experts linked to the US government to express the claim that the continuation of the easing of sanctions, and some timid steps of the White House to allow exports of some of its products to Cuba –on credit– “will depend on the actions carried out by the Cuban government to liberalize its economy.”

There have also been more categorical demands that “if Cuba does not take steps towards greater openness, both of the economic and political systems, it will be impossible that issues such as the embargo or the Helms-Burton Act are repealed by Congress.”

Or, as bait, offering that if Cuba moves its chips in this regard it will be rewarded, because “then Obama could work wonders before a Congress and a Senate that from January on will have a Republican majority”.

All this leads to the threat that if Cuba wants to get rid of the blockade, it must make the changes demanded by the United States, the think tanks of capitalist thinking and the mass media advocating an economic opening directed to Cuba’s accepting a system of capitalist economy that Cubans rejected in 2011 when –at 163,000 very democratic assemblies– they added, removed or modified a basic text to endorse the roadmap of economic changes within socialism that are being implemented in the most recent period.

For years, the dominant message in the mainstream media indicated that the US blockade was a mere excuse of the Cuban government to hide its economic failure since this had little impact on the economy of the island. Today few dare sustain such a thing, because in just one year of timid measures by Obama, the Cuban economy grew by 4% and became an exception in the region whose GDP –according to the Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) [Economic Commission for Latin America]– has contracted by 0.4%.

The wisest thing would be for Washington to altogether accept the total failure of its economic war against Cuba and its attempt to reverse the victory of the popular Cuban socialist revolution, in the same way it had to admit defeat in its uneven confrontation against Vietnam four decades ago.

Only that, in this case, they have the possibility of ending its aggression in a civilized way, leaving the door open for a future of mutual respect and eventual reconciliation without the humiliation of having to gather on the roof, as they did in Saigon with low brows of defeat, to board the getaway helicopters.

Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes

February 9, 2016

Ana Belén Montes

Posted By W. T. Whitney On February 8, 2016,

The U.S. government has imprisoned Ana Belen Montes for almost 15 years. Now an international campaign on her behalf is gaining steam with committees active in Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the United States. Arrested by the FBI two weeks after September 11, 2001, and charged with conspiring to commit espionage for Cuba, this high – level analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Service avoided a death sentence for treason by pleading guilty and telling all to the U. S. Justice Department.

Ana Belen Montes received no money. The former specialist in Cuban and Latin American affairs is serving a 25-year jail term.

Three petitions, accessible here, here and here, are circulating; one asks for her release, two for humane treatment. Defenders charge that in prison in Texas, Montes is isolated from the general prison population and prevented from receiving visitors, telephone calls and emails.

Advocates face an uphill battle. Documents relating to her trial and press reports then and since portray her as a U. S. citizen who took the wrong side in a U. S. war. Government officials probably despised one of their own who betrayed them. Maybe her family’s Puerto Rican origins gave rise to suspicions she sympathized with Cuba and Puerto Rico’s shared anti-colonial struggle. True or not, her fate stands as a warning for Puerto Ricans.

With U. S. war against Cuba continuing, the U.S. government likely will resist both easing up on her prison conditions and releasing her. For the new solidarity movement she is a hero, but really she’s a special kind of hero: a prisoner of war true to her cause.

There was a war. While the U. S. government shied away from military invasion after the failed Bay of Pigs venture in 1961, warlike aggression was the norm until the 1990s. At one time or another, U. S. government agents or proxy warriors carried out sabotage, armed thuggery in the Cuban hinterlands, microbiological warfare, bombings of tourist facilities, and miscellaneous terror attacks throughout the island. Few would deny that the bombing of a fully loaded Cuban passenger plane in 1976 was an act of war.

The U. S. economic blockade, engineered to deprive Cubans of goods and services essential for their survival, caused yet more distress. U. S. government leaders believed misery would induce Cubans to overthrow their government. Aggressors within the George W. Bush administration had a replacement government waiting in the wings.

And despite the restoration of diplomatic relations recently, there is still war. The U. S. economic blockade remains; counterrevolutionaries inside Cuba still enjoy U. S. support and money; Cuban land in Guantanamo is still occupied; survival of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 testifies to undying cold war; and Ana Belen Montes, who took sides, is a prisoner in that war.

Official rhetoric on war with Cuba informed Montes’ prosecution and trial. Having surveyed Cuban espionage activities, a New York Times reporter in 2003, for example, communicated the opinion of some U. S. officials that, “Mr. Castro’s Communist government remains a threat to American national security.” State Department official Otto Reich charged that, “These activities and others prove that they are a hostile country.” A Wall StreetJournal writer in 2002 cited State Department reports asserting that, “Cuba has at least some bio-weapons technology and has expressed concern that Cuba could share the science with rogue states.”

Ana Montes was recently labeled as “one of the most damaging spies in US history. Her involvement in shaping US foreign policy on Cuba caused grave damage to the US national security.” This was a reference to a Defense Department report she authored in 1998 rejecting the idea of Cuba as a military threat to the United States. Montes is alleged to have covered up Cuba’s supposed chemical and biological warfare capabilities.

In communicating secrets to the Cuban Government, Ana Montes, already in a theater of war, already a combatant, became a soldier on Cuba’s side. In prison now under such circumstance, she is one for whom solidarity is of a different order than the same for other political prisoners.

What may be required is, in effect, to sign up for the same war she joined, and take the same side. That approach worked in securing the release of the Cuban Five anti-terrorist prisoners. For Montes, however, there is no Cuban government on the battle lines as there was for the Cuban Five.

Combatants in an uneven fight can take encouragement from Montes herself. She told her sentencing judge that, “I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. … I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.”

In 2015, in an interview, she sounded like an unwavering captured soldier: “If I repent, I deny myself … It’s not within the framework of my logic. I always knew the possible consequences of what I did.”

“What matters to me,” she insisted, “is that the Cuban Revolution exists … What’s necessary is that there always be a Cuban Revolution … They, [the Cubans], have to take care of the Revolution. I tried to do that.”

Clearly, to be in solidarity with Ana Belen Montes and be effective is asking a lot, especially in a time of war. Montes herself voluntarily went to war in much the same way that compatriots did who joined the Republic’s side in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. That sort of internationalist commitment is what Montes needs now. Maybe it’s on the way.

‘In Cuba, a prisoner is another human being’

February 7, 2016

37373-poca justicia-caricaturas-g

The Militant
Vol. 80/No. 6 February 15, 2016
(feature article)

‘In Cuba, a prisoner is another human being’

Cuban Five: It’s different in US prisons, where the system
is organized to dehumanize you

“It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US
‘Justice’ System”: The Cuban Five Talk About
Their Lives Within the US Working Class, is a new book from Pathfinder. It
centers on a 2015 interview by Mary-Alice Waters and Róger
Calero with the Cuban Five in Havana. Each was incarcerated in
the U.S. from 14 to 16 years after the FBI framed them up for
activity in defense of the Cuban Revolution. The excerpt below
follows a discussion on how the capitalist rulers foster the
prevalence of drugs and gangs in U.S. prisons. Copyright ©
2016 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

MARY-ALICE WATERS: We’ve had some experiences here in Cuba
that are the opposite of what you’ve been describing. We
have a friend in Matanzas, for example, a university professor
who also gives classes in prison and takes pride in it. She told
us about using some books Pathfinder has published in her classes
and the interest they generate. We’ve read about Silvio
Rodríguez and other musicians giving concerts inside the
prisons. …

We know things in Cuba are far from perfect. But social relations
— the way people relate to each other — are the
opposite of what you experienced in the US. And that’s
true in the prison system too. In Cuba the revolution carried out
by the workers and farmers eliminated the economic and social
system built on class exploitation, on retribution and
punishment, social isolation, punitive deprivation of medical
care, denial of culture and education. That’s why the US
government is so determined to punish the Cuban people and
destroy your example.

GERARDO HERNÁNDEZ: We were with many Cuban prisoners in the
United States who had been inmates in Cuba as well. …
They’d often say, “Yes, material conditions in
prison” — especially in the newer ones —
“are a lot better than where I was in Cuba.”

Obviously you can’t compare living conditions in the
richest country in the world with the economic resources in Cuba.
But most of them recognized that prison personnel here in Cuba
make a real effort to rehabilitate inmates, to help them. In the
United States, a prison counselor is someone who puts in his
hours at work and does his best not to ever have to see you.

The human part is essential. I often give the example of a young
neighbor of mine. When he was in high school, he was involved in
something that rarely happens in Cuba — what’s
known in the US as “bullying.” He was studying in
the countryside on a scholarship program and he was being
pestered and harassed. One day he took a knife, scuffled with the
other boy, and stabbed him in the wrong place, killing him.

That boy was sentenced to seven years. During that time he
completed high school and went on to university. … He took
classes all day, and the bus brought him back to prison. …

I recently had a conversation with a very prestigious young
artist here in Cuba, Mabel Poblet. She showed me some samples of
her work. One stood out to me — an installation with
hundreds of red plastic flowers. “Look at these
flowers,” she said. “They were made by a woman who
is a prisoner in Holguín.”

“We visited the women’s prison there and met an
inmate, Betsy Torres, who was making flowers,” Mabel said.
“I had in mind doing an installation using flowers, so I
asked her to make some for me — the ones you see here.
After she was let out for good behavior, I invited her to the
opening of my exhibition.”

This type of exchange is the opposite of the dehumanization that
takes place in the US prison system. …

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Look at what the Bureau of Prisons calls
its Program Statement. It says the Bureau of Prisons encourages
social contact with the outside. But in practice it’s the
opposite. They put up obstacles to everything, including visits.

It’s not enough that the prisoner is 1,500 miles or more
from his family. It’s not enough that many families
can’t afford a plane ticket and a weekend in a motel to
come see you. On top of all that, the searches and other
alienating procedures family members and friends have to go
through to get into the prison, not to mention the tense,
uncomfortable layout of the visiting room. …

GERARDO HERNÁNDEZ: “The most important difference,
what I miss most,” some Cuban inmates in the US would tell
us, “is that in Cuba I had the right to conjugal visits,
or to get a pass to see my family.” But not in the United

In federal prisons and in all but four of the fifty states,
something so elementary as conjugal visits are not permitted. If
they were, it would greatly reduce tensions. It would humanize
people. It would be an incentive for good behavior. …

RAMÓN LABAÑINO: They don’t care whether
there’s money in the budget for another handball court.
That’s a big issue I had, since — in addition to
reading, studying, and playing chess — sports was one of
the ways I handled all those years in prison. I exercised, lifted
weights, and played lots of handball. But prison officials
didn’t want to paint the floor of the handball court with
the kind of rubber compound that makes it easier on your knees.

That’s how I injured my knee, in fact. But medical care in
prison in the US is terrible; they don’t want to spend
money on that either. I went to the doctor and he told me,
“Take two aspirin. Put ice on it, keep your feet up, and
tomorrow you’ll be better.” They only really take
care of you when you’re on the verge of dying. …

There’s money in the budget to buy better food for the
cafeteria too, but it’s never fully used. I know. I worked
in the cafeteria several times.

Actually, I didn’t like working in the cafeteria, because
a lot of people take those jobs in order to steal food. But we
don’t steal. It’s not our philosophy, not the
social values we learned in Cuba. With what I ate I had enough.
Frankly, I’m no good at stealing.

Here in Cuba it’s different. Our officers may not have
resources, but they are trained to really help you. I’d
venture to say that ethic goes far beyond the framework of the
prison system to the broader society here.

In Cuba a prisoner is another human being. He’s someone
who made a mistake and is in prison for that reason. It’s
not like the US, where the prison population is the enemy
— just as uniformed officers there see the people as the
enemy. Why? Because on some level they understand there could be
a social revolution in the United States some day. And their job
is to contain that revolution, in order to protect the social
layer that’s in power.

That’s pretty elementary. You don’t even need
Marxism-Leninism to see that. But if you don’t understand
this, you’ll never see why things happen the way they do
in the United States. Why the police act the way they did in
Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Why there’s no solution
within that system. …

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: In Miami we saw women who were pregnant
when they were arrested. When the time came to give birth, they
were taken to the hospital …

RAMÓN LABAÑINO: …in chains.

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yes, in chains. They gave birth in the
hospital, and two days later they were brought back to their
cells without their baby.

Recently I visited a women’s prison here in Cuba. …
In the United States, you know from miles away you’re near
a prison. You see the walls, fences, razor wire, towers, lights,
surveillance vehicles. But in Guantánamo, as we got closer, I
asked, “Where’s the prison?” There was a
wall you could easily jump over. Even as fat as I am, I could
have jumped over it!

Inside, some rooms are like small apartments. If a woman is
pregnant — or becomes pregnant, because they have conjugal
visits — she can stay in one of those rooms until the baby
is a year old. It’s a small room with a kitchen, where she
can cook. The prison provides food for the baby and other
necessities. There’s also a sewing shop.

World Learning para Cuba, ¿nuevo programa de la CIA?

February 4, 2016


No resulta una sorpresa para nadie que en el nuevo contexto de las relaciones entre Cuba y EEUU comiencen a aparecer sospechosos programas encaminados a rebuscar entre los jóvenes cubanos para crear una cantera de potenciales nuevos líderes “para el cambio” según los estándares de la guerra subversiva. En apariencia estos proyectos resultan atractivos e inocentes, pero en su trasfondo existe la malsana intencionalidad de adiestrar a dichos jóvenes en torno a los valores del discurso político capitalista y contrarrevolucionario. De esta forma acaba de aparecer una convocatoria de la organización no gubernamental World Learning, con sede en Washington, la cual ha abierto la matrícula de su “Programa de verano para jóvenes cubanos”, el cual se llevará a cabo durante treinta días, entre julio y agosto de 2016, en los EEUU.

El sitio World Learning ( da a conocer esta convocatoria que se iniciará el 1 de marzo del presente año y está dirigida, específicamente, a jóvenes cubanos entre los 16 y los 18 años de edad, los cuales deben estar estudiando en el nivel secundario o preuniversitario. Las bases para la captación aparecen en este sitio mencionado y, particularmente, la intencionalidad del mismo: “el desarrollo de habilidades en áreas que incluyan hablar en público, trabajar en equipo, negociar, fomentar consenso, resolución de conflictos, defender los derechos propios, y solución de problemas.”

El citado sitio refiere lo siguiente: “Nuestros programas ayudan a la próxima generación de líderes mundiales para obtener un mayor sentido de responsabilidad ciudadana, establecer relaciones a través de líneas étnicas, religiosas y nacionales, y desarrollar las habilidades y conocimientos para transformar sus comunidades y países.” Y puntualiza, además: “Los programas se centran en temas específicos, que van desde la participación ciudadana y el voluntariado para el desarrollo de liderazgo a través del deporte y el activismo.”

Obviamente, según puede verse en la dirección web de la mencionada ONG en cuestión:, la directiva de esta ONG se reserva el derecho de selección luego de un meticuloso análisis de los solicitantes. A saber, aparentemente, el rendimiento académico, la habilidad para desarrollar proyectos que beneficien a la escuela y/o comunidad del solicitante y la de trabajar en cooperación en diferentes grupos, y entender -pero no necesariamente aceptar- las opiniones de otros. Sin embargo, se piden dos cartas de recomendación escritas por dos adultos en Cuba, sin especificar quiénes sean los mismos o su orientación política, lo que presupone una explícita trampa.

La ONG World Learning tiene su sede en el 1015 15th St NW, Suite 700, 20005, en Washington, Distrito de Columbia, EEUU. El campus principal de World Learning está situado en el norte de Brattleboro, según se destaca en la página


Sin embargo, detrás de las “inocentes intenciones” existen las sospechas muy serias sobre el carácter subversivo del mismo y cómo resulta parte de la acción a largo plazo de una tapadera de la CIA.  Esta ONG está conectada en sus orígenes con los Cuerpos de Paz y es una nueva versión del Grupo Internacional de Delphi, involucrado en planes desestabilizadores por parte de la CIA y de sus tapaderas como la USAID y la NED. Se sabe que más de 40 programas de World Learning son financiados por la USAID.

El sitio denuncia que esta ONG, antecesora del grupo Internacional Delphi, “no es nada más que una fábrica de propaganda de la CIA que se utiliza para que el gobierno federal puede lograr sus objetivos políticos generales en suelo extranjero.” Un ejemplo de esta implicación política, acentúa este sitio, fue durante la década de 1980, cuando el gobierno de Estados Unidos utilizó a Delphi International Group para “promover la democracia” en Nicaragua.

El 11 de junio de 2003 Philip Agee, ex agente de la CIA ya fallecido, desnudó cómo las tutoras de World Learning –entiéndase USAID, NED y la propia CIA– participaron en planes subversivos contra la Venezuela Bolivariana, en un artículo aparecido en  Red Voltaire (


Sea como fuere, se ha de andar con ojo avizor ante esta propuesta para Cuba, no solo por los antecedentes de esta ONG y por el hecho de sus vínculos directos con la USAID y la NED, máscaras de la operaciones subversivas de la CIA.


Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy

Cuba on the Verge of Significant Nanotechnology Advance

September 25, 2015


By Alfredo Boada Mola

Havana (PL) Nanotechnology science and it’s application to the life
sciences in particular, could become, in conjunction with other
scientific sectors, one of Cuba’s development bases in the not too
distant future.

The role of this branch of science in the social and economic
transformation of Cuba, is a key element of the Cuban Center for
Advanced Studies (CEAC from it’s acronym in Spanish), a new
institution in the west of Havana currently preparing for the planned
commencement of operations next year.

The staff presently research distinctive therapeutic cancer medicinal
nano-formulations and nano-particles for the controlled release of
drugs whilst simultaneously seeking to extend the diagnosis of a
greater number of diseases from the same blood sample.

In conjunction with universities, research centers and national
enterprises agencies, CEAC foresee significant investigative cycle,
developmental and innovation results, enhancing technologically
advanced biomedical and environmental system applications.

Ariel Felipe, program director of the Council of State’s scientific
advisory office, told The Havana Reporter that in Cuba, the priority
focus for this science were nano-biotechnology and medicine, ranging
from medications and tissue regeneration to disease detection devices.

He added that the existence in the country of a robust biotechnology
industry was something positive that lent itself to future
advancements in this regard.

Through the Center for Advanced Studies, Cuba is endeavoring to boost
its presence in the rapidly growing sphere of nanotechnology and to
establish a presence in both the domestic and Latin American
biotechnology markets.

Another aim is to provide Cuban engineers and scientists with the
tools to create miniature devices that could revolutionize the health
care, environmental care and energy sectors.

The 10.3 hectare CEAC site will comprise various nano-chemistry and
nano-biology research laboratories and computer simulation and
modeling facilities.

According to its directors, the installations will be open for
national and international investigations and will serve as a training
center for advanced micro and nano fabrication, facilitating the
formation of human resources for Latin America.

The entity will have nano-characterization, nano-engineering,
standardization, energy and environmental laboratories. It will also
promote the obtaining of nano-structures, nano-metric visualization
and high resolution analysis of composites and structures.

It will also develop tools and devices for the controlled release of
medications, disease diagnosis and environmental controls and new
devices for the production and storage of energy.

translated by Sean Clancy

Cuba Eliminates Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer

September 23, 2015


By Alfredo Boada Mola

Experts in Cuba have undertaken the initialization of a new plant
based on Japanese technology to deal with the destruction of
substances that cause Ozone Layer depletion.

The fragile gaseous strata filters sunlight and impedes harmful solar
ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface of the Earth, thus
preserving human, plant and animal life.

Ozone Technical Office (OTOZ from the Spanish acronym) specialist,
Natacha Figueredo MSc, explained to the Havana Reporter that this
modern installation cosntructed in the Siguaney cement factory in the
province of Sancti Spiritus, commenced operations last April and is
presently in a functional stabilization phase.

During the first stage Ozone depletion substances (SAO from the
Spanish acronym) collected during the substitution of more than
2,500,000 refrigerators and almost 300,000 air conditioners in the
residential sector are to be destroyed.

The works form part of the “Energy Revolution” which fully eliminated
the use in Cuba of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in domestic

Hydro-fluorocarbons (HCFC) will later be destroyed in the plant which
will, over the coming months, be collected from refrigeration and
climatization units around the country.

Through this initiative, Cuba has attained the destruction this year
of some 258.4 kilos of SAO, a result which places the island within an
elite group of nations in the region with the capability to undertake
this complex process. Capacity will increase once the plant

The installation is part of a demonstrative collection, recovery,
storage, transport and regeneration of substances detrimental to the
ozone layer initiative, that is the result of a strategy developed by
the OTC and the Montreal Multilateral Protocol Fund, via the United
Nations Development Program (PNUD).

The project seeks to ensure an environmentally safe outcome to SAO
destruction by averting emission into the earth’s atmosphere, thus
contributing to Cuba meeting Montreal Protocol Commitments to
gradually eradicate  and reduce SAO use.

Cuba is the first country to totally eliminate CFC consumption in
domestic refrigeration, a significant contribution to the
confrontation of climate change related issues that affect the planet,
because the gasses that impact on the Ozone Layer have a potent
greenhouse effect. According to OTOZ data, the actions undertaken on
the island have reduced CO2 atmospheric emissions by 4 million tons
per year.

OTOZ director and doctor in Sciences, Nelson Espinosa explained that
one of the most notable Cuban achievements of the past twenty years is
the total elimination of a group of substances that deplete the Ozone
layer, including the use of CFC’s in the manufacture of pharmaceutical
and industrial aerosols and methyl bromide in the fumigation of crops,
storage units and other industrial installations.

translated by Sean Clancy

Soldiers of the Bridge: Cuba’s New Fortress

September 23, 2015

For 54 years the United States has waged war against Cuba, in a futile effort to strangle and starve the Cuban population into mutiny against the Revolution.  Ten different presidents tried to asphyxiate Cuba, by blockading the island, causing suffering, as well as human and financial loss in the billions of dollars.  Now things appear to be changing.  President Barack Obama, the 11th US President since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, seems intent on changing Washington’s strategy for dealing with Cuba.

On December 17 of last year, President Obama began building a bridge between the two countries.  The first stone he laid at the base of the bridge was to free Gerardo, Ramón and Tony from US jails, where they had been unjustly held for over sixteen years. He also used his presidential authority to issue licenses to poke holes into the blockade.

Yet the bridge is still under construction. Each of us is helping to build it: stone by stone.  Many of us want a friendship bridge that would bring the two nations together.  Some want simply to flood the island with consumer goods that will yield enormous profits for American corporations.  Others see it as a way to hasten the demise of socialism in Cuba.

But have no doubts. Just as Cuba learned to defend itself from foreign military incursions, terrorism, biological warfare and a brutal blockade for over five decades, the Revolution will learn to defend itself from those who would now want to cross a newly built bridge across the Florida straights with foul schemes against Cuba.

There is a lot of work to be done here—on this side of the bridge. The blockade is still in place, and only the United States Congress can overturn it.  We need to reach out to Americans of good faith to help us convince the Congress to do just that.

However, there is also a lot that the President can do.  He has already done some very important things. He knows that to build steel bridges, we must first build people bridges.  When Americans travel to Cuba and meet Cubans on the island, they make friends.  Some of those friendships become lasting friendships, and some collaborate to create projects that benefit both countries.  So President Obama changed the regulations and granted a general license for people to people travel to the island.

Some of the changes announced by the Obama Administration include an increase in the amount of remittances allowed, licenses to trade with the private sector in Cuba, allowing travel agents and airlines to provide authorized travel to Cuba, permitting US insurance companies to provide coverage for health, life and travel to the island, an OFAC general license will facilitate the establishment of commercial telecommunications facilities, authorizing the commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices and related software, permitting the use of certain American credit cards in Cuba, heck we can now bring back $100 worth of the finest cigars in the world.  All of this, President Obama announced last December 17th.

The 20th of July saw diplomatic relations restored between the United States and Cuba, but the bridge between the two nations will not be finished until there are truly normal relations.  Relations cannot be normal as long as the economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba remains in place.

But the blockade has not deterred each side from building a bridge across the troubled waters of US-Cuba relations.  The work continues. In the coming weeks and months, there will be bilateral talks on issues such as the environment, the natural disasters, health, civil aviation, drug trafficking, copyrights, patents, and one of the thorniest of all issues: compensation.  The US claims that Cuba ought compensate US companies that were nationalized after the triumph of the Revolution, and Cuba claims to be entitled to compensation for the damages caused by the US blockade against the island: fifteen years ago, Cuba calculated those amounts to be $121 billion in economic damages and $181 billion in human damages.

Things are moving in a positive direction.  We welcome President Obama’s call that Congress lifts the blockade and his discretionary use of presidential authority to try and turn the blockade into Swiss cheese. But we need to hold President Obama´s feet to the fire to make sure that he continues to move forward towards full normalization.  We also need to make sure that the bully tactics of Cuban-American politicians who oppose the lifting of the blockade do not continue to intimidate today’s Congressmen and Senators.

Learn from history.  Past attempts to improve relations failed because of the many traps purposely laid along the way.  Those who oppose normalization, whether in Langley, Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon or Miami, have historically conjured up ways to impede normalization.  The downing of a Cuban passenger plane in 1976 by Luis Posada Carriles was an effort by Cuban-American terrorists and others in Washington to scuttle the secret negotiations that were ongoing between the Ford Administration and Cuba.  Another weapon of choice that some in Washington have used historically to stymie normalization is mendacity: the lies that US State Department officials fed newspapers about the alleged Cuban role in the Shaba II military incursion in Angola, the myth of the Soviet “Combat” Brigade in Cuba, and the boldfaced lies of Under Secretary of State, John Bolton, who claimed in 2002 that Cuba was making weapons of mass destruction (i.e., biological weapons) on the island. A pathology of power permeates this country.

We have to be on guard. We need to learn to defend this bridge, as it will inevitably come under attack.  There’s an election coming up in this country, and we don’t know who will become President.  Some of the Presidential candidates and some congressmen would love to see the movement toward normalization with Cuba blow up like the bridge over the river Kwai.  We cannot let this happen.  This bridge is Cuba’s new fortress.  We need to be its soldiers.

As José Martí wrote, bridges are the fortresses of the modern world. Better to bring cities together than to cleave human chests. Today, all men are called upon to be soldiers of the bridge.”

José Pertierra delivered these remarks on December 18, 2015 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. at a conference entitled “The Impact of the US Blockade Against Cuba”

%d bloggers like this: