Published on 20 march by TeleSUR English

syphillis hiv trans

The World Health Organization is set to confirm Cuba as the first country in the world to have eliminated the STI transmission from mother to child. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will visit Cuba soon to review if the country can be certified to have eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

In order to receive the certification from the WHO, a country must have a transmission rate in less than 0.5 percent of live births in the case of syphilis and less than 2 percent in the case of HIV. Medical care for pregnant women and access to HIV tests must exceed 95 percent and antiretroviral treatment must be available for 95 percent of seropositive pregnant women. “We believe Cuba meets the indicated requirements and we hope to receive certification,” said Dr. Rosaida Ochoa, director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Unit.

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Published on 21 March by TeleSUR English

Palestinians for VenezuelaAs Palestinians continue to face economic hardships and services and housing shortagtes after the Israeli bombardments last year, dozens of Gazans joined a rally on Saturday morning in solidarity with Venezuela.

teleSUR’s correspondent in Gaza, Noor Harazeen reported from the rally that attendees were calling for the U.S. to keep its hands off Venezuela. The event was organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), and several Palestinian officials attended, including Sami Abu Zuhri from Hamas.

“In light of the terrible threats that the government and people of Venezuela have received from the U.S. government ... all sorts of people have mobilized in support of the Venezuelan people ... The only threat to humanity is the government of the United States and its allies ... And the people of Gaza, are showing their love today in the streets, their support for Venezuela,” Valeria Cortes, one of the organizers, told teleSUR.

Several PLFP leaders gave speeches at the rally, and Luis Fernandez, the Venezuelan representative to the Palestinian Authority, addressed the rally by phone from Ramallah. Palestinians waved Venezuelan flags and pictures of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and former president Hugo Chavez.


Published on 18 March 2015 by Granma Internacional

Alba summit

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Extraordinary Alba-TCP Summit, convened in solidarity with the sister nation of Venezuela, held in Caracas, the BolivarianRepublic of Venezuela, March 17, 2015

Esteemed Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America; Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests;  Compañeras and compañeros:

ALBA brings us together today to reaffirm our firmest support for the Bolivarian people and government in the face of the latest interventionist measures and threats from the U.S. government against Venezuela.

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Published on 17 March 2015 by TeleSUR English

Declaration of the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of States and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People's Commerce Treaty (ALBA – TCP)

cumbre-de-la-alba-en-caracas.jpg 1718483346

We, the heads of state and government, representatives of the member countries of ALBA, gathered on March 17, 2015 in Caracas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, declare:

1. Our rejection of the Executive Order issued on March 9, 2015 by the Government of the United States of America, on the basis that this Executive Order is unjustified and unjust, which constitutes a threat of interference that runs counter to the principle of sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states.

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In April 2015 Rock Around The Blockade will be sending a delegation of activists to Cuba to support the country that has been blockaded for more than half a century.

Since the revolution in 1959, the Cuban government has committed itself to levelling the social structure of the country. In addition to delivering free, world class education and healthcare to every single Cuban, the government has also invested heavily in the arts to ensure that culture is available to all, and is not a bourgeois pastime. Recently this involved investing $200,000 to a financially struggling ballet school to transform it into the world renowned Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

However, as a result of the US blockade, these state-funded art and leisure institutions have been faced with shortages of much-needed materials including dance and sports equipment.

And despite the promises of the Obama government in recent months the blockade remains in place, to the detriment of the lives of 11 million Cubans.

That’s why, on the 20th April, a group of 16 activists will be travelling to Cuba to deliver material aid in the form of ballet shoes and boxing gloves.

The brigade will also critique and learn from a country that in the depth of a world crisis continues to be committed to delivering free education, healthcare, culture and sport as a constitutional right for every citizen.

The research we undertake will be presented back in Britain at a series of events as we use the lessons learned in a socialist system are relevant to the working class in Britain, which is currently being brutalised at the hands of an ideologically-driven government that is dismantling and privatising the public sector and welfare state at every opportunity. Cuba has shown time and time again since 1959 that there is an alternative.

So please give any money you can by clicking on this link and donating: www.gofundme.com/cubavive. Every penny you give will be put towards helping improve the lives of as many Cubans as possible, as described in this short video https://youtu.be/4QyiDvKTSqs

If you would like more information about the trip and our Cuba-related event, please go to  www.facebook.com/ratb.cuba or we’ll also be blogging about the blockade at www.ratb.org.uk/

Viva Cuba!

Published on 9 March 2015 by TeleSur English
 
US increases intervention in Venezuela
What does it mean when the world’s most economically and militarily powerful country declares another country to be a national security threat?

The United States government has a long history of declaring certain countries to be a “national security threat.” The policy of declaring a particular country, no matter how small, a threat to the United States – the economically and militarily largest country in the world - has its roots in the “Trading with the Enemy Act” of 1917. Since then the legal framework for declaring another country to be a national security threat has changed several times. The current legal framework is governed by International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) of 1977.

Once a U.S. president has declared a country to represent a national security threat under the provisions of the IEEPA, the president is authorized to block transactions and freeze assets of any government entity or government official of that country. If there is an actual armed conflict, then the president has the authority to confiscate the property of any government official or entity of that country. In the case of Venezuela, which owns a major multi-billion dollar oil company in the U.S. - Citgo – this would be a significant blow to the country.

The 2001 Patriot Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, further expanded the IEEPA to include “terrorist” organizations. The U.S. Treasury Department and the subsidiary agency that is in charge of implementing such freezing of assets, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), does not even need to present any evidence that the organization, official, or entity is involved in illegal activity in order for the OFAC to sanction it.

Currently the following governments have been declared to be national security threats under the IEEPA:

  • Cuba (since 1977)

  • Iran (since 1979)

  • Myanmar (1997)

  • Sudan (1997)

  • Zimbabwe (2003)

  • Syria (2004)

  • Belarus (2006)

  • North Korea (2008)

  • Russia (2014)

The U.S. government has consistently worsened relations with Venezuela ever since Obama became president. Already in late 2010 the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, issued uncharacteristically undiplomatic declarations against the government against Venezuela during his appointment hearing in the U.S. Senate. When his remarks became public then-president Chávez rejected Palmer's nomination and thereupon the Obama administration expelled Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.S. Ever since then there have been no ambassadors in the two countries and, as Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez recently pointed out, just in the past year Obama officials have issued over 50 declarations that interfere in domestic Venezuelan affairs.Below, the full text of the executive order:

Executive Order

Declaration of a National Emergency with Respect to Venezuela

- - - - - - -

BLOCKING PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY OF CERTAIN PERSONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-278) (the "Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act") (the "Act"), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)) (INA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela's erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:

(1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; 2

(2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;

(3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or

(4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;

(B) to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(C) to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;

(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of:

(1) a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(2) an activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section; or

(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 2. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons, except where the Secretary of State determines that the person's entry is in the national interest of the United States. This section shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, or other applicable international obligations. 3

Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;

(d) the term "Government of Venezuela" means the Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Venezuela.

Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and 4

section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, other than the authorities contained in sections 5(b)(1)(B) and 5(c) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order, with the exception of section 2 of this order, and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 9. The Secretary of State is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, the INA, and section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, including the authorities set forth in sections 5(b)(1)(B), 5(c), and 5(d) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out section 2 of this order and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of State may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.

Sec. 11. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 12. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 9, 2015.

BARACK OBAMA

Published on 8 March 2015 by Prensa Latina

cuban revolutionary women

The Cuban social process that started in 1959 includes, among its priorities, maintaining public policies in favor of inclusion and development of the potentialities of women, who are broadly represented in today''s society.

Since the beginning of the revolutionary project, some measures have been adopted to eliminate problems such as prostitution and gender discrimination, and to boost family planning, among other issues.

An important step was the adoption of a Family Code, establishing absolute legal equality of women and men in marriage.

At the same time, the Family Code defines equal duties and rights by married couples with their children and development at home.

The government also implemented actions to recognize equal rights in the economic, political, cultural, social and family aspects included in the Constitution.

According to statistics published by Granma newspaper, on the occasion of Women's International Day, there are 5,620,719 women in Cuba and until 2013, life expectancy for Cuban women was 80.4 years.

Women in Cuba represents 48.8 percent of lawmakersds in the People's Power National Assembly (Parliament), 41.9 percent of the members of Council of State and 66.6 percent of the presidents of People's Power Provincial Assemblies.

According to statistics from the latest Population and Housing Census released by the newspaper until 2012, about 44.2 percent of women were heads of household.

In the social-productive sphere, there are 1,838,600, 31,200 of whom are members of cooperatives and 175,500 are self-employed workers. About 1,631,900 women work in the state sector.

Published on 6 March by FARC-EP Peace delegation

 

On March 6, two days before International Women's Day, the third (and last) meeting between the Gender sub-Commission (a joint commission of FARC delegates and government delegates, mostly women) and six representatives of women's organizations from Colombia took place.

The official meeting (with plenipotenciaries, guarantor and accompanying countries and UN) lasted until one o'clock, but after lunch the sub-Commission sessioned alone with the representatives for two more hours, to gather ideas and proposals that will help to guarantee a gender perspective in the partial agreements. The five women and one man (representative of the LGTBI community) held a press conference at 4 o'clock. Victoria Sandino, head of the Gender sub-Commission of the FARC-EP, read a document to welcome the representatives:

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Published on 24 February by CounterPunch Written by W.T. Whitney Jr

chiquita

Colombia is seemingly a “no-go” zone for most U. S. media and even for many critics of U.S. overseas misadventures. Yet the United States was in the thick of things in Colombia while hundreds of thousands were being killed, millions were forced off land, and political repression was the rule.

Bogota university professor and historian Renán Vega Cantor hasauthored a study of U.S. involvement in Colombia. He records words and deeds delineating U.S. intervention there over the past century. The impact of Vega’s historical report, released on February 11, stems from a detailing of facts. Communicating them to English-language readers will perhaps stir some to learn more and to act.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government have been at war for half a century. Vega’s study appears within the context of negotiations in Cuba to end that conflict. Negotiators on both sides agreed in August, 2014 to form a “Historical Commission on Conflict and its Victims” to enhance discussions on victims of conflict. The Commission explored “multiple causes” of the conflict, “the principal factors and conditions facilitating or contributing to its persistence,” and consequences. Commission members sought “clarification of the truth” and establishment of responsibilities. On February 11 the Commission released an 809 – page report offering a diversity of wide-ranging conclusions. Vega was one of 12 analysts contributing individual studies to the report.

Having looked into “links between imperialist meddling and both counterinsurgency and state terrorism,” he claims the United States “is no mere outside influence, but is a direct actor in the conflict owing to prolonged involvement.” And, “U. S. actions exist in a framework of a relationship of subordination. … [T]he block in power had an active role in reproducing subordination, because, (Vega quotes Colombia Internacional, vol 65), ‘there existed for more than 100 years a pact among the national elites for whom subordination led to economic and political gains.’” As a result, “Not only in the international sphere, but in the domestic one too, the United States, generally, has the last word.”

In 1903, after 50 years of minor interventions, the United States secured Panama’s independence from Colombia as a prelude to building its canal there. As a sop to wounded Colombian feelings and to secure oil- extraction rights, the United States paid $25 million to Colombia under the Urrutia-Thompson Treaty of 1921. Colombia that year sent 72 percent of its exports to the United States, thanks mostly to U.S. banana and oil producers and U.S. lenders.

Vega highlights Colombia’s “native” brand of counterinsurgency. Under the flag of anti-communism, the Colombian Army violently suppressed striking oil, dock and railroad workers. On December 6, 1929 at the behest of the U.S. United Fruit Company, that Army murdered well over 1000 striking banana workers near Santa Marta.

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Published on 27 February 2015 by TeleSur English
Cuba elections
 
 
Cubans are set to go to the polls in April, with typically high voter turnout expected.

Cubans continued the process of nominating candidates Thursday for the upcoming municipal elections.

The selection process for candidates began nationwide Tuesday, and will continue until March 25.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), 167,263 Cubans have already stepped forward as potential candidates. Around 44 percent of the hopefuls are women. The final candidates will vie for positions in Cuba's 12,589 municipal councils, with between two and eight candidates required by law for each position.

Any of Cuba's roughly 8 million eligible voters can run, but not along party lines. Municipal elections are strictly non-partisan and very little campaigning takes place. Instead, candidates are expected to woo voters familiar with their track records as responsible members of the community, rather than through the types of expensive publicity campaigns common in Western nations.

After candidates have been selected, voting will take place on April 19. Runoff votes will be held on April 26 for any positions where no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

The municipal elections are one of three tiers of voting in Cuba's government, along with provincial and national elections. Municipal level voting takes place once every two and a half years.

Since the mid 1970s, all municipal elections have had turnouts above 90 percent of eligible voters, though voting isn't compulsory in Cuba. According to government figures, the last municipal level elections in 2012 saw turnout just over 90 percent – similar levels to the national and provincial elections of 2013.

Us opens talks with socialist Cuba - What does it all mean?

TUESDAY 24 MARCH 2014 - 7:30PM

THE APPLE TREE PUB 45 MOUNT PLEASANT CLERKENWELL ROAD, LONDON, WC1X 0AE

On 21 January 2015 Cuba and US held direct talks about restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. This meeting took place one month after historic announcements in December 2014 announcing a thaw in US-Cuba relations. This included a prisoner swap which finally freed the remaining Cuban anti-terrorist agents, the Cuban Five.

Bourgeois press is claiming that this is the beginning of the end for socialism in Cuba. Meanwhile the right-wing anti-Cuban lobby in Florida are livd that the US has ended its isolationist policy towards Cuba. In reality the Cuban people have no illusions in US imperialism. The US has been forced to change its failed policy towards Cuba, which is a victory for Cuba, but the US still hopes to destroy the Cuban revolution through other means. The Cuban people are alert to these dangers.

Come and hear RATB activists talk about these changes and what they mean for Cuba’s future. Followed by an open discussion.

Free event, all welcome to attend.

Organise the resistance with Rock Around the Blockade

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cuba meeting

Saturday 18 april 2015

8:00 pm - late

Oak & Pastor Pub
86 Junction Road, London,
N19 5QZ Tube: Archway

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Cuban Night * FREE ENTRY
Ever wondered what Cuba’s really like? Fascinated by the country’s politics or Cuban culture?

Well this event is for you. ‘Rock Around The Blockade’ will be hosting a night of film and fun.

Sons of Cuba is a fascinating documentary film set in the Havana Boxing Academy, a school at the heart of Cuba's Olympic success in the ring.

It follows the stories of three young hopefuls through eight months of training and schooling as they prepare for Cuba's National Boxing Championship for Under-12s’. The film will be followed by a raffle, rum, cigars, and music!

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Sons of Cuba
(Mr Bongo Films) (2009)
http://www.mrbongo.com/
http://www.sonsofcuba.com/

---------
Rock around the Blockade
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.ratb.org.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ratb.cuba

Published on 1 February 2015 in www.revolutionarycommunist.org

cuba-us talk

On 21 and 22 January, Cuba and the US held direct talks about restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The meeting in Havana took place one month after the historic announcements made simultaneously on 17 December 2014 by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro about a thaw in US–Cuban relations. This included a prisoner swap which finally freed the remaining Cuban anti-terrorist agents imprisoned in the US, known as the Cuban 5. This followed 18 months of secret talks facilitated by Canada and the Vatican. The tactical change by the US administration reflects the failure of its Cuba policy, and economic and strategic developments which put competitive pressure on US capitalists who do not benefit from the blockade. Helen Yaffe reports.

Historic announcements: 17 December 2014

President Obama announced three broad policy changes:

  • The restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the re-establishment of a US embassy in Havana and a visit to Cuba by high-ranking officials to initiate talks about these issues. He asserted that the US would raise its differences ‘on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba’.
  • He indicated that the US would consider removing Cuba from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
  • He stated: ‘we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba’, making it easier for people in the US to visit Cuba, authorising financial transactions and easing some trade restrictions.

‘These are the steps I can take as President to change this policy’, Obama stated. He cannot, however, unilaterally end the US blockade of Cuba which is codified in legislation. He made explicit, however, that he considered the US blockade to be a failed policy, and hopes the US Congress will lift the embargo.

It is important to be absolutely clear. Obama is not supporting Cuba’s right to self-determination; to develop its socialist system without interference and sabotage 90 miles from the US shore. He believes that a more effective strategy to destroy Cuban socialism is to distort, seduce and pervert it through what he calls ‘engagement’, by imposing the logic of the capitalist market, social relations and cultural values on Cuba: ‘We will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests … these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach…through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values.’

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Published on 12 February 2015 by Granma

Josefina Vidal

Cristina Escobar.- Cuba and the United States are entering a new stage of diplomatic relations. How can these relations be constructed after so many years of confrontation, and what do the recent talks between the two countries mean? These were the questions posed to Josefina Vidal, Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) Director General for the United States, in an exclusive interview with Cuban television.

Josefina, there are people on the street here in Cuba, and also in the international media saying, or asking, if the United States blockade of Cuba has ended. Is this true?

Josefina Vidal.- No, no, the blockade has not ended; what has happened is that the President of the United States, making use of his executive prerogatives, which he has, announced a series of measures modifying the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. It was within this context that a series of regulations were issued – mandated by him and formulated by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce – to expand travel to Cuba, expand as well allowances for remittances, and permit some commercial transactions, still of a limited nature, in spheres such as telecommunications, for example.

Cristina Escobar.- When can we say that the blockade has ended? What must happen before we can say it has ended?

Josefina Vidal.- Since the blockade was first officially declared in February of 1962, until 1996 when the Helms-Burton law was approved, it was the prerogative of the President; that is, just as President Kennedy had declared the blockade in 1962, a later President could have declared an end to this policy.

In 1996 the Helms-Burton law was approved, which codified the blockade as law, which means it was established that, in the future, the President could not on his own terminate the blockade policy, but rather that it was the United States Congress which had the authority to declare an end to the policy.

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sol cuba 43

Scottish members of Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) have been bringing the inspiring message of the Cuban Revolution to Glasgow and Dundee with a series of fundraising events. In a year which has seen the release of the Cuban 5, Cuban doctors leading the global fight against Ebola and new victories in the fight against the US blockade, the message is clear...socialism is fighting fit and here to stay!

Raising funds for this year’s RATB solidarity brigade to Cuba, which will be bringing boxing gloves and ballet shoes to the island, over 60 people gathered in Glasgow on 28 January to celebrate the cultural achievements of the revolution. The Rebel Cinema event presented a screening of the first two parts of the legendary 1964 Soviet-Cuban film Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a snapshot of a country on the edge of rebellion, where parasitic wealth existed side by side with grinding poverty, dominated by US interests.

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Published on 5 February by Rebelion. A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

internet connection cubaThe nervousness which has gripped the Latin American right after the announcement of the "normalization" of relations between the US and Cuba has sparked a series of demonstrations that astonish because of the impunity with which they distort reality.

An example is Andres Oppenheimer’s Tuesday, February 2 column in La Nacion whose lead says it all:
"The key to freedom in Cuba is access to the Internet".  The journalist, known for his visceral rejection of the whole work of the Cuban Revolution, wonders if "Cuba’s regime will accept US help to expand access to the Internet."

Shortly afterwards he recalled that in his speech on December 17, 2014, Obama said that "Washington will eliminate various regulations that prevent US companies from exporting smartphones, Internet software and other telecommunications equipment; but judging from what I'm told by several visitors who just returned from the island, there are good reasons to be skeptical that the Cuban regime will allow it."

The punch line of his article is anthological: "Washington should focus on the Internet. And if Cuba does not want to talk about it, the US and Latin American countries should denounce the Cuban regime for what it is: a military dictatorship that has already run out of excuses to continue to banning Internet access in the island ".

I prefer not to waste time in refuting the unprecedented characterization of Cuba as a military dictatorship that in a test of Introduction to Political Science would deserve the immediate flunking of the student who dared to express such a notion (which is not the same as an idea, more respect for Hegel, please!). Oppenheimer is not one of those rabid fanatics who swarm in American television, serial violators of the most basic rules of journalism. But the nervousness and despair that has gripped the increasingly small and lacking prestige of the anti-Castro groups in Miami must have infected him and driven him to write a note full of falsehoods. I will just mention three.

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Published on 31 January byFight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

farc ep

In a further attempt to halt the bloodshed in Colombia the communist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) declared an indefinite cessation of hostilities with the Colombian state on 18 December 2014.

'We have resolved to declare a unilateral cessation of fire and of hostilities for an indefinite period, which should transform itself into an armistice. ... This unilateral ceasefire, which we hope to prolong over time, would end only if it is proven that our guerrilla structures have been the object of attacks from the security forces.'

A month later, on 15 January 2015, President Santos announced that he was prepared to start talks on a bilateral ceasefire ‘as soon as possible’. He has delayed this for the nearly two and half years of negotiations with the FARC, having rejected FARC’s two other recent attempts to strengthen the road to social justice. The most bloodthirsty of the Colombian bourgeoisie have provided cover for Santos as he has slowed negotiations to a crawl. Senator Ernesto Macías, from Former President Álvaro Uribe’s Democratic Centre Party, has called President Santos 'a puppet of the FARC'.

FARC negotiators welcomed Santos’s announcement, whilst questioning his sincerity as he has continued attacks on the FARC over more than two years of discussions. FARC guerrilla leader Timoleón Jiménez warned that an accord remains far off as Santos aims to demobilise FARC without any examination of the causes of the conflict or the reforms necessary to end it. FARC’s declaration sets the scene for the negotiations which resume on 26 January. It again raises the question of Santos' refusal to respond to the demands of Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), to enter negotiations for the end of the 50-year Colombian civil war.

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Published on 16 December by Granma Internacional

solarpanel

Pinar del Rio solar farm set to be integrated into the National Electric System (SEN)

The panels set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN).

According to scientist, Efren Marcos Espinosa, investment specialist at the Pinar del Rio electric company, a total of about 4,000 photovoltaic modules have been installed, manufactured in the own province, with a peak output of 250 Watts (Wp) each.

The official noted that the farm is located in an area known as Cayo Cana, in the municipality of Pinar del Río, where work is continuing in order to reach three MW at a later stage.

He added that the foundations required to reach that figure are virtually complete and that a great deal of the metal structures responsible for supporting the panels that will complete the farm have also been installed.

He highlighted that the new facility is the first step in the province aimed at diversifying energy sources, in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In this regard, he stressed that the electricity generated through solar energy produced by the 4,000 already installed panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Given this reality, he noted that the company is currently working on engineering and geological studies aimed at identifying other areas suitable for the construction of further solar farms in Vueltabajo.

 

Published on 30 January 2015 by Venezuela Analysis
Celac
The US is seeing its role in Latin America increasingly challenged, as the 33 member states of CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) vehemently rejected North American intervention in the continent, and particularly the US-led blockade of Cuba and recently enacted sanctions against Venezuela. 
 
The comments were part of the "Belen Declaration," approved during the CELAC's third annual presidential summit, held on January 28th and 29th in Belen, Costa Rica. Formed in 2011, the CELAC was a political initiative proposed by former Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, who aimed to reconstruct Simon Bolivar's dream of a united Latin American continent. 
 
"We reiterate our most profound rejection of the implementation of all coercive and unilateral measures and once more call on the US to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade which it has imposed on its sister nation for over five decades," reads the 22 page document. 
 
The declaration includes 94 different points and is characterised by an emphasis on regional cooperation, social inclusion, the sovereignty and right to self determination of member states, as well as a commitment to tackling poverty and inequality.

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Published on 28 January 2015 by counterpunch

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“I do not expect the changes I am announcing today to bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight.”

— Barack Obama, Dec. 17, 2014

President Obama’s Dec. 17 statement announcing changes in U.S. Cuba policy was a mixture of historical truths and catch phrases drawn from the catalog of myths about Cuba and U.S. policy goals.

The first round of rule changes, announced by Jan. 16 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), was significant in the areas of trade and banking. At the same time, much of the language is drawn from the old justifications for regime change. (Let us put aside the hypocrisies in Obama’s speech such as the instruction — coming from a country where labor unions have been systematically destroyed — that “Cuban workers should be free to form unions.”)

In his speech, Obama reworked Einstein’s famous definition of insanity to support his partial abandonment of the half-century attempts to destroy the Cuban revolution. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result,” said Obama. (If he means that the policy he has supported for six years is insane, what does that say about him?)

Nowhere in the speech did Obama renounce the longstanding U.S. commitment to regime change in Cuba or even acknowledge that it ever existed. While implicitly recognizing that the use of sanctions to achieve political results had failed, he continues to pursue them in Korea, Russia and elsewhere. One day after making the Cuba speech, he signed a bill imposing sanctions on Venezuela alleging that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had violated the human rights of protestors during violent anti-government demonstrations last February. The demonstrations were led by right-wing representatives of the Venezuelan elite who have long been backed by the United States.

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Published on 28 January by Manuel E. YepeA CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

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It seems that some major media in the United States, so tightly controlled by the powers of the "Establishment", have timidly begun to tell the truth about somesensitive issues regarding relations with Cuba prior to December 17, 2014.

Thus, under the title "The real story behind the work of Alan Gross in Cuba, "JohnStoehr, editor of The Washington Spectator and contributor to The Hill ofWashington, DC, offers a version different from the official and the only one USreaders had about the activities of the US agent which prompted his arrest,conviction and imprisonment in Cuba.

“If you didn’t know anything about Alan Gross other than what you saw on television, you probably thought it was appropriate for him to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama as a guest of honor at this year’s State of the Union address,” said Stoehr .

Of Gross it was only said that he was a humanitarian activist unjustly jailed in 2009 by a repressive Communist regime for the alleged crime of promoting internet access to Cuba’s small Jewish community.

According to The Spectator, even after his release from prison and return to the United States in December as part of President Obama’s plan to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba after half a century of regime-change policy in the United States, the official narrative with bi-partisan support exonerated him from guilt.  

Nothing had been said about the fact that in 2009, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) paid Alan Gross, through a third party specialized in installing computer electronics in remote areas, almost $600,000 to go to the island nation to install military-grade internet equipment in Jewish synagogues which could not be detected by the government in Havana. 

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States government has spent more than $200 million since 1996 on so-called “democracy-promotion programs” meant to destabilize the Cuban government from the inside. 

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More Articles...

  1. Leonela Relys, Cuba’s tireless educator
  2. Mexican Mayor Accused of Journalist's Murder
  3. Response to: “US, Cuba move toward embassies, disagree on human rights”
  4. 1.5M Lifted Out of Poverty in Ecuador under Correa
  5. New Era of Cuba-US Relations Begins

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