Published on 17 December 2014 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
After 16 unjust years of imprisonment, on 17 December 2014, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero, the three remaining members of the Cuban 5, returned to Cuba following their release from US gaols. This is a defeat for the corrupt US justice system and massive victory for Cuba, particularly for anti-terrorist Gerardo Hernandez who was serving two life sentences plus 15 years.
The five Cuban heroes were arrested in 1998 and tried in Miami in 2001, in the midst of a hostile media storm whipped up by journalists in the pay of the US government. Denied a fair trial, they were found guilty of charges ranging from spying to conspiracy to commit murder and endangering the security of the United States. These men had been working to foil the persistent attempts by right-wing counter-revolutionary groups in the United States to commit acts of sabotage and terrorism against Socialist Cuba. These attacks included 78 bombings, 61 hijackings of planes and boats, biological attacks of dengue and swine fever, and 58 attacks from the sea, killing at least 3,478 people in total. The Cuban 5 were guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to protect their country against terrorism. Their case Illustrates the hypocrisy of the US ‘War on Terror’.
Wednesday 17 December will be recognised for decades to come as a crucial date for Cuban history when, following years of campaigning, the Cuban 5 were finally free. Ramon, Gerardo and Antonio now join Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Hernandez, who served their full sentences and were released in 2011 and 2014 respectively.
At 1pm on 17 December 2014, Cuba President Raul Castro announced the release of the remaining Cuban 5 in return for an unnamed US agent and the humanitarian release of USAID contractor Alan Gross. Below is the transcript of this historic announcement:
From Prensa Latina:
Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated in many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national independence and self-determination of our people.
This stance was conveyed to the US Government both publicly and privately by Comrade Fidel on several occasions during our long standing struggle, stating the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.
The heroic Cuban people, in the wake of serious dangers, aggressions, adversities and sacrifices has proven to be faithful and will continue to be faithful to our ideals of independence and social justice. Strongly united throughout these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept our unswerving loyalty to those who died in defense of our principles since the beginning of our independence wars in 1868.
Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.
As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation I had yesterday with President Obama, we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.
As Fidel promised on June 2001, when he said: "They shall return!" Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland.
Published on 12 December by Granma Internacional
According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, attempted to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop movement as part of a covert project to destabilize the country.
Documents obtained by AP indicate that USAID hired a group of rappers to develop a youth movement in opposition to the Cuban government. The covert plan was implemented over more than two years, with the aim of using Cuban musicians to establish a network to agitate for social change on the island, PL reported on Thursday.
The Huffington Post website published a chronology of USAID covert operations in Cuba, detailing the activities of Rajko Bozic, a Serbian national who presented himself as a musical promoter and arrived in Cuba with instructions to involve Cuban rappers such as the Aldeanos duo in the covert hip hop program, to promote an opposition movement.
Published 11 December 2014 by TeleSUR English
British army officers trained Brazilian police in torture methods, perfected in Northern Ireland against people opposing British rule there, a report into human rights abuses during the dictatorship revealed.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was tortured herself by the regime in the 1970s, wept as she presented the 2,000 page Truth Commission documentWednesday, which confirmed that 191 were killed and 243 disappeared.
Not only did Brazilian officials travel to the UK to learn the “English System,” but the study also shows that British officers returned the visit, teaching extreme interrogation at Brazilian police headquarters.
“At the end of 1970 we sent a group of army officers to England to learn the English system of interrogation. This consists of putting the prisoner in a cell incommunicado, a method known as the ‘refrigerator’,” the report quotes former general Hugo de Andrade Abreu.
Psychological torture techniques were adopted that the British mastered in Northern Ireland, designed to destabilize the suspect to the point of admitting to a crime.
Published on 9 December by Cuban News Agency
More than 35,000 self-employed workers have joined unions in the province of Holguín in response to the Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, implemented in Cuba since 2010.
Annia González, member of the provincial secretariat of the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC by its Spanish acronym) in the northeastern territory, told ACN that for the coming 2015, the organization intends to integrate the 3 000 self-employed who are not yet affiliated to unions.
She explained that the sectors of Commerce, Industry and Transport constitute together the ones with largest concentration of non-state workers, and also have the non-integrated workers to CTC.
The creation of a wholesale market, taxes corresponding to the characteristics of each locality and the right to enjoy a month of vacation annually without paying tribute are some of the statements most frequently made by these workers.
Alexander Tamayo, self-employed affiliate for two years, highlighted the advantages of maintaining a union link because they are more organized and have an way through which to raise their rights, opinions and concerns.
Photo taken during the last brigade to Cuba ‘Justice for the Cuban 5’ solidarity brigade – February 2012.
Click the link to see more photos and report.
Lift the blockade of Cuba!
The 13th solidarity brigade of the British campaign Rock around the Blockade will travel to Cuba between late April and early May 2015. The group is collecting funds now to buy material aid for Cuban youth – this time they will take ballet shoes and boxing gloves to training schools. While breaking the US blockade, the donation will contribute towards Cuba’s remarkable achievements in promoting and democratising sport and culture.
Hosted by the Union of Young Communists, the brigadistas will visit a variety of centres, institutions and organisations, meeting political and student leaders and doing agricultural work. They will visit maternity and old peoples’ homes, youth, neighbourhood and cultural groups and research institutes. They will learn about the daily impact of the US blockade, which prevents the Cuban government from buying medicine, food, technology, equipment and resources in every sector, and which has been condemned for 23 consecutive years by the UN General Assembly.
For 55 years, Cuba has maintained and increased its free social provision despite the impact of the US blockade. This presents a contrast with the austerity measures implemented by the British government which are attacking public services, jobs and benefits and causing a return to the poverty, inequality and destitution of the pre-welfare state era. Such differences are also seen in Cuba’s response to the Ebola epidemic. While most of the world tightens border controls and the United States sends 4,000 troops, Cuba is sending nearly 500 medics to West Africa to treat the sick and help stop the disease spreading. Cuba’s medical contribution is greater than the rest of the world’s put together – just as it was in response to the 2010 earthquake which devastated Haiti, when Cuba’s medical contingent treated 40% of the victims. The Cuban Ebola-trained specialists will join some 50,000 Cuban-trained health workers in nearly 70 countries today.
How can a small, blockaded island have such a global impact? Why are Cubans so prepared to assist others around the world? Is this a product of a socialist society? What is socialism like in practice? What about the changes underway in Cuba today?
Through this fraternal exchange, activists on the Cuba Vive brigade will study the achievements and challenges of the Cuban Revolution and socialist construction. What they learn will be discussed with people back in Britain through report back meetings to be organised around the country.
Please contribute towards the Cuba Vive 2015 brigade.
Please donate generously via PayPal or by sending cheques or postal orders payable to:
Rock Around The Blockade at RATB BCM Box 5909, London, WC1N 3XX.
Despite Mexico dominating the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) medal table for almost the whole competition, Cuba managed to emerge as the final winner of the event
Cuba ended with 123 golds, 66 silvers and 65 bronze medals, while Mexico, the host nation, finished in second place with 115, 106 and 111 medal respectively. It was the 10th time Cuba has won the games. It didn't participate in the 2010 tournament in Puerto Rico because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo.
Medals in boxing and athletics finally helped Cuba top the table, with the Caribbean island winning 33 gold medals during the weekend. Colombia and Venezuela finished third and fourth, while another 21 other nations won at least one medal.
A total of 32 countries participated in the games that were held from November 14-30 in the port city of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s Veracruz 2014 CACG saw 56 new records set and had a historical female participation rate.
Published on 1 December 2014 by TeleSur English
The election of Vazquez closes the electoral cycle in Latin America for 2014, where progressive governments were returned to power.
Latin American leaders have sent celebratory messages to Tabare Vazquez,winner of Sunday's presidential elections in Uruguay.
Vazquez, candidate for the left-wing Broad Front coalition, won with 53.6 percent support and is the first person in Uruguay to win two presidential terms. He also received the greatest amount of support for a presidential candidate in 70 years.
Outgoing Uruguayan president, Jose Mujica, was the first to congratulate Vazquez, meeting face to face shortly after the results were known.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also sent his greetings of support via Twitter, saying, “Congratulations Comrade Tabare Vazquez, president-elect of Uruguay, for this victory of the Broad Front, our brothers from the south...”
Cristina Kirchner said via Twitter, “Congratulations to the president-elect Tabare Vazquez, with whom I spoke with a moment ago to send him greetings from the Argentine people.”
Ernesto Samper, Secretary General of UNASUR, stated on his Twitter account, “The election results in Uruguay confirm the maturity of Uruguyan democracy. Congratulations to the President.”
Published on 30 November 2014 by the Peace-Delegation of the FARC-EP
General Rubén Darío Alzate, Lance Corporal José Rodríguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego, have been released by the block Iván Ríos of the FARC in the village of Vegaez, on the banks of the Arquía River in the north of Quibdó.
Surrounded by the humble people of the area, the general and his companions were handed over personally by Comandante Pastor Alape to a humanitarian mission, composed of representatives of Cuba and Norway - guarantor countries of the peace process, and the ICRC. The insurgent leader traveled from Havana to the jungles of Chocó, mandated by Timoleón Jiménez, comandante of the FARC, to ensure a prompt and smooth prisoner release, mission which was successfully accomplished.
Likewise, we inform the Colombians that in the performance of the Special Humanitarian Agreement, which led to the successful release of the professional soldiers Paulo Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Andrés Diaz in the savannas of Arauca on the 25th of November, directly and actively participated Comandante Carlos Antonio Losada.
Gratitude to the governments of Cuba and Norway and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for their humanitarian dedication and because their participation in the releases somehow saves a peace process that was progressing amid hope.
Now we have to redesign the game, for a peace process that has reached the level where it is right now, and which is preparing to discuss the most critical issues of peace, can not be subject to any hasty and thoughtless attitudes that postpone the advent of our reconciliation.
We invite President Santos, with our heart in our hands and our minds full of common sense, to consider that we can no longer permit the absurd situation of carrying out dialogues of peace in the midst of war. It's time for a bilateral ceasefire, an armistice, so that no military event can serve to justify the interruption of such a beautiful and historic task of making peace for a nation that longs for it. Let’s shake off the incoherence to speak of reconciliation and recognition of victims, without silencing the fire of the rifles and without stopping the neoliberal economic policies of misery, that fuel the war and the victimization of a people that deserve justice.
Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Published on 28 November 2014 by Radio Havana Cuba
The U.S. administration has granted a no-bid 1.4 million contract to Canyon Communications Company to produce TV and radio broadcasts specifically designed for Cuba.
The information was released in an article entitled "Canyon Communications snags big Cuba contract" by journalist Tracey Eaton on his blog "Along the Malecon," which specifies that the Office of Cuba Broadcasting said it awarded the contract without a competitive bid because Canyon Communications, founded by Jeff Kline, was uniquely qualified for the job.
"Kline is a longtime government contractor who has worked for the Health and Human Services Department, the Labor Department and other agencies. Lately, he's been doing projects for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, which oversees the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, including Radio & TV Martí in Miami," Eaton explained.
The journalist recalled that last October, he heard "about a radio programming contest that Kline ran in Cuba without telling participants that it was funded by the U.S. government. The contest was aborted and no one was awarded any prizes after Cuban authorities arrested development worker Alan Gross in December 2009."
Earlier, in May 2014, Eaton wrote that "Kline had traveled to Cuba to test cell phones and other wireless devices for a State Department contractor, which you can read at Eaton´s website under the title "The Other Alan Gross."
And in the article "The incredible disappearing $450,000 contract," the journalist wrote about Kline's contract to produce so-called self-help videos in Cuba.
"Kline's company, Canyon Communications, signed the $1,450,063 BBG contract on September 30, 2014. His company has won a total of $1,799,503 in BBG contracts since 2013. That makes him the BBG's 56th winning-est vendor since 1999", Eaton explained in his article.
Published on 1 December 2014 by Cuban News Agency
The 2014-2015 Sugar Cane Harvest kicked off in Cuba with expectations to increase the sugar output between 15 and 20 percent over the last campaign´s total production.
The 2013-2014 campaign reported the largest growth over the past ten years, a four percent according to official statistics, but below the expected 1.8 million tons of sugar.
The current sugar cane harvest will count on 50 sugar plants, two more than in the previous campaign.
According to Celso Garcia, president of the AZCUBA Entrepreneurial Group, which replaced the former Sugar Ministry, they expect to exploit industrial capacities in more than 70 percent to obtain not less than 43 tons of sugar cane per hectare and produce over 1.2 million hectoliters of alcohol, out of which 476 thousand will be exported.
The current harvest is also to produce more than 225 thousand tons of animal feed and 125 Gigawatts-hour of power to the national electric system, based on the processing of sugar cane waste.
The harvest is scheduled to wind up in May after a 100-day period of operations by all sugar plants.
The AZCUBA Group expects to revert the long-term slump of the industry, which produced 8 million tons of sugar in 1990, with projections for 2.4 million tons in 2015.
The ongoing economic transformations on the island prioritize the sustained growth of sugar production and the improvement of relations between the industry and sugar cane growers, along with diversification.
The Cuban sugar sector was considered the locomotive of the country´s economy in the past but its production went down to only 1.1 million tons of sugar in 2010, the worst harvest over the past 105 years.
Published on 30 November 2014 by TeleSUR English
The Cuban Five’s Fernando Gonzalez Llort, met with Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, as the culmination of a week-long visit Saturday. TeleSUR English interviewed him earlier in the week in Esteli.
The Cuban Five were imprisoned in the U.S. in 1998 and sentenced in 2001, accused of espionage. The Five say they were monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups plotting to attack Cuba.
Many countries registered their calls for the release of the three members of the Five still in jail, at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, where 188 out of 193 countries again voted overwhelmingly for an end to the US blockade of Cuba.
In recent weeks, U.S. newspaper, The New York Times published a series of editorials calling for the exchange of the remaining three Cuban Five in U.S. prisons, for United States citizens imprisoned in Cuba.
There has been new evidence, since the trial, which further exonerates the Five. A 2010 Amnesty International report on the new evidence was enlightening:
“The new evidence that has emerged since the trial —of journalists being paid to plant prejudicial stories against the accused during the trial— also raises concern about equality of arms in that the government, unknown to the defendants, were stacking the case in the media —and also as we have seen very possibly in the court-room itself— in the prosecution’s favour.”
Published on 28 November 2014 by Cuba News Agency
Representatives of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) of Argentina and Havana's Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) signed on Thursday 17 scientific cooperation agreements for the next few years.
Among the projects signed in the First Integration Workshop we find the creation of a laboratory for the research, development and assessment of medicaments produced by the two institutions and jointly, which will be named Ernesto Che Guevara.
In addition, other areas of common interest that could constitute future projects in the use of biotechnology in humans and in agriculture were identified.
The expert showed his satisfaction for working with persons linked to the highest level of scientific research in the field of biological system studies, which will make it possible to generate modern alternatives created in the context of South-South cooperation.
Roberto Carlos Salvarezza, president of Conicet, told ACN that the first agreements were signed in 2009, of which there are currently four projects in execution, one of them related to therapy against cancer.
We can learn a lot from Cuba and strengthen the links of solidarity existing between the Argentinean and Cuban scientific communities, specified the head of Conicet.
Published on 17 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Latin America is today experiencing new times which, after 10 years of work resulting in undeniable achievements, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) is facing the challenge of consolidating itself, stated the organization’s Executive Secretary Bernardo Álvarez.
The ALBA-TCP has the unique feature of brining together political forces which involved in a common project based on diversity, noted Álvarez in statements to Prensa Latina. “In addition it understands that there are other mechanisms of integration in the hemisphere which play an equally important role, such as the Union of Southern Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States,” he commented.
“We aspire to be a political consciousness for the left, for the world, for progress within new Latin American integration, with respect, but doing everything necessary so that the transformation and social agendas are part of debates in Latin American. This is where the challenge lies,” stated Álvarez, adding that, the challenge also consists of continuing to promote and support integration and, to be an expression of this transformative political vision in the heart of Latin America.
Published on 14 November by TeleSUR English
According to the Foreign Ministry, 136 projectiles were fired during the drills.
The Argentinian government issued Thursday a statement rejecting military exercises conducted by the United Kingdom (UK) in the Malvinas islands.
The HMS Iron Duke warship conducted a series of maneuvers which included shooting 136 projectiles.
The Argentinian government denounced the exercise as a violation of United Nations General Assembly resolution 31/49 which calls upon both Argentina and the UK to abstain from any actions that would alter the status-quo whilst still in negotiations.
The statement also considers the exercises a provocation against the South American country.
The Malvinas islands were occupied by the UK in 1833, and since are disputed with Argentina. The issue led to a war between both countries in 1982.
The UK responded later on Friday to Argentina's complaint, claiming the exercises are routine and should not be considered a provocation.
Published by TeleSUR
The Cuban state-owned pharmaceutical and chemical company Labiofam announced that it will construct a factory in Bolivia that would allow the country to fulfill 100 percent of its demand for basic medicine, which updated it’s list of essential medicines last month.
The plant is scheduled to be operational by 2020 and will provide pharmaceutical goods that will benefit both countries and in other countries across the Latin America region.
The two countries signed a cooperation agreement last May, which seeks to boost and incentivize local production of medicines across Latin America.
Currently, Bolivia imports 70 percent of the pharmaceuticals used in the country at an estimated cost of US$56.4 million dollars a year.
Labiofam director general Jose Antonio Fraga told Reuters that the project has the potential to significantly reduce prices and improve access for certain medicines, with positive outcomes for Bolivian healthcare system.
"This is basically for poor people because they can't afford the prices set by the trans-nationals,"Fraga said. "So these industries will be subsidized by the state or their products will be sold at a very small profit margin, just to sustain themselves, not to get rich."
The announcement coincides with a recent decision made by Bolivian President Evo Morales who stated that his government seeks to invest US$350 million in the local pharma industry in order to reduce dependence on international pharmaceutical imports.
Published on 10 November 2014 by Granma Internacional
Argentine Dr. Augusto Sola, president of the Iberoamerican Neonatology Society emphasized the advances Cuba has made in this field, fundamentally with its genetic and prenatal programs, on November 7, during the closing session of the professional organization’s gathering in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers southeast of Havana.
Noted were progress in programs serving women of fertile age, the early detection of potentially difficult pregnancies and births, as well as the establishment of genetic centers – all of which has contributed to improving prenatal care and a reduction in painful births, Sola commented.
Dr Sola emphasized the importance of care for babies born weighing less than 1,500 grams, since worldwide a fourth of all neonatal deaths are attributed to low birth weight.
Specialists from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Cuba, participated in the event held at Dr. Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital.
Published on 10 November by Prensa Latina
For the fifth time in less than a month, The New York Times published a long editorial on Cuba, in which it listed the countless destabilizing efforts by the United States to overthrow the Cuban government.
In an article entitled "In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change", the Editorial Committee of the influential New York-based newspaper on Sunday reviewed Washington's countless plans against national stability in Cuba since the approval of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996 to date.
The New York Times notes that these subversive plans only served as the foundation for the US government to spend 264 million dollars over the past 18 years, in an effort to instigate alleged democratic reforms on the island.
Published on 8 November 2014 by TeleSUR English
The Cuban Government has announced that is seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Cuba's National Electric Development program aims to significantly increase the island's electricity production capacity. Cuba seeks to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Achieving the target would allow the country to acquire nearly $780 million annual savings on imports from fossil fuels, which currently makes up 96% of Cuba's electricity source.
According to Energy Monitor Worldwide, if Cuba's power production grows 3 per cent annually, the per-Kilowatt cost will decrease from 21 cents at present to 18 cents by 2030.
The Caribbean nation’s current renewable energy output accounts for only 4.3 percent of its total electricity production but the government aims to boost investment by USD$3.5 billion over the next 15 years in order to develop the sector, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Friday.
During this week's 32nd Havana International Fair, the government presented 246 potential foreign investment projects to strengthen and modernize the island's renewable energy capacity, which would need foreign financing valued at around $9 billion.
Cuba's renewable power projects include the installation of solar and wind farms as well as small hydropower stations. In addition, the government aims to create bioelectric plants, which base their production on the incineration of marabou wood and sugar cane.
The Cuban President Raul Castro has shifted its focus away from offshore oil which government officials believe will increase the country's long-term energy independence.
and we republish below his initial blog post and a series of questions and answers about his new blog from a range of his followers:
'This post constitutes my presentation to the world of the blogosphere. To write it I’ve counted on the politeness of people who have preceded me on this field. Not all of them share the same views, but they all wish for a better Cuba and share an intellectual honesty which I respect. They are also together on the support for the Five. In this regard they represent millions of people both in Cuba and around the world.
I’ve wanted this questionnaire to answer to some of the questions from those millions of people. It is my aspiration that with the development of the blog some other answers are found, even for so many that don’t know about the case or that knowing it, for diverse reasons, are not today with the cause of the Five.
I sincerely believe in truth as a value. I believe that accessing it benefits everybody, even those who refuse to hear it. I trust that truth will find its way through this blog.