www.venezuelanalysis.com 30 October
Venezuela condemned the United States embargo against Cuba on Tuesday, as the United Nations General Assembly again called for an end to the 53 year-old trade restrictions.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted for the 22ndconsecutive year to reject the US embargo, with 188 nations opposed the embargo and three abstentions. Only the US and Israel voted in favour of the continuation of the embargo, which has been in place since 1960. The UNGA resolution is non-binding.
“Such measures are in violation of the right to peace, development and security, while contravening the rules of the multilateral trading system,” Venezuela's permanent ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, stated. Moncada also argued that the embargo is impeding the pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Moncada called on the US to comply “with the resolutions that the General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted since 1991, that lead to immediate and definitive lifting of this inhumane blockade implemented for more than fifty years”.
Arnold August, Zed Books 2013, £16.99
In Cuba and its neighbours: democracy in motion, Canadian journalist Arnold August demolishes the bourgeois propaganda that socialist Cuba is somehow ‘undemocratic’ by examining the very idea of what we mean by democracy.
The first part of this comparative study, ‘Cobwebs around democracy’, is an analysis of the US system. August exposes the deceptive character of the US two-party system as a cover for what he describes as an ‘oligarchic’ state but we would call imperialist. Using Barack Obama as a case study, he shows how a cautious ‘benefit of the doubt’ attitude towards Obama by Latin America faded in the face of a military coup in Honduras, perpetrated with US backing. August points out that ‘a new face’ changed nothing in US relations with Cuba: ‘His role, based on the illusion created regarding the two-party system, was to change tactics because they had failed to reach the same goal of regime change.’
August argues that Obama recreates the chimera of the American Dream at home, while promoting war abroad. The two-party system ‘constitutes the lifeline of maintaining the status quo and averting a crisis in the US political system.’ August shows that this system excludes up to half the voting age population, including convicted felons – the majority black – and those without official papers, such as many Latino immigrants. Thus large numbers of the most oppressed sections in US society are disenfranchised.
What lies across the water, Stephen Kimber, Fernwood Publishing 2013, Can$19.95
Stephen Kimber’s remarkable work is both a forensic expose of anti-communist terrorism and the definitive guide to the story of the Cuban Five. With in-depth analysis of the activities and motivations of many key players in US-Cuban relations over the last 50 years and a detective-thriller writing style it is both highly readable and politically explosive.
In September 1998, five Cuban intelligence agents – Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez – were arrested in Miami. The story of the necessity of their presence on US soil, infiltrating terrorist networks amongst the febrile world of Miami’s rightwing Cuban exile groups, reveals a hidden history of CIA-assisted intrigue. Their trial and the conditions of their imprisonment demonstrate the ruthlessness of the imperialist state and the thinness of the veneer of fairness that covers its oppressive ‘justice’ system.
HAVANA, Cuba, 11 October Granma
Cuban workers have issued over 160 thousand proposals during debates on the new draft labour code, which was submitted for consultation with the workers last July; the process is now about to conclude, according to a report by Granma newspaper.
Some 67 thousand 367 workers' assemblies have thus far been held till this week, which stand for 98 percent of all scheduled meetings, including the debates on the draft code by workers abroad. Some 1, 400 meetings are still to be held, the paper reported.
The consultation process is aimed at having a feedback from millions of workers about their criteria on the law that rules labor activity.
According to Granma, there was generalized consensus in all meetings about modifying the current code, which has been in force since 1985, given the ongoing transformations in the country in tune with the current economic and labour scenario.
All opinions have been collected and analyzed by commissions based at municipal, provincial and national levels, said Xiomara Enriquez, an official in charge of labour and social issues with the Cuban Workers' Confederation (CTC).
We live in a world dominated by crisis, imperialist war and exploitation. We are told there is 'no alternative' to cuts, privatisation, hunger and homelessness. In October 2012 Venezuela faced a choice: whether to deepen the Bolivian Revolution that under the leadership of Hugo Chavez, has brought dignity, health, education and hope- or to return to a brutal, unequal neo-liberal society where oil wealth lined the pockets of multinational companies and Venezuelan elite.
The people of Venezuela voted for Chavez, voted to fight for socialism. The Revolutionary Communist Group was on the streets of Caracas throughout the presidential elections. We joined hundreds of thousands as they thronged the city, braving torrential rain or baking sun, to express their support.
The Bolivarian Revolution illustrates what can be achieved when governments and people, working together, put human need before capitalist profits. Despite Chavez's death in March 2013, the process is being built every day by millions of Venezuelans, working to create a society built on collective, socialist organisation and production. In that conscious struggle the spirit of Hugo Chavez lives on.
As the capitalist crisis bites in Britain, Venezuela provides an inspiring example of how the fight against austerity can develop into a fight for socialism. This film takes you on that journey, through the barrios, universities and workplaces to meet the militants, students and workers who are changing their future.
Alongside the achievements of socialist Cuba, Venezuela illustrates that not only is another world possible, but this world is being built today in Latin America
Saturday 12 October. Part of an FRFI Dayschool 'Paying to be poor' 10.30-4pm
Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street M21NL
Saturday 19 October, 2 – 4pm
Upstairs at The Piper on the Square bar,
57 Cochrane Street, George Square, G1 1HL
Sunday 20 October 3-5pm
Room G2 Dundee University Tower
LONDON FILM PREMIER:
Friday 25 Oct 2013 7:00pm
Bolivar Hall 54 Grafton Way W1T 5DL
Tuesday 29 October 6.30pm
Barloco 22 Leazes Park Rd NE1 4PG
If you would like to organise a screening of the documentary in your area contact
Documentary will be available free online at www.vivavenezuela.co.uk from 1 November 2013
DVD also available to buy. £3 plus P+P
Send cheques payable to Larkin Publications to FRFI, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX together with your postal address.
Yellow ribbons for the Cuban 5!
September 2013 sees the fifteenth year of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five. Incarcerated after infiltrating right-wing groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba, the Five and the injustice forced upon them by the US exemplifies imperialist hypocrisy at its finest. More than 3,400 Cubans have been murdered since 1959 as a result of US attacks, but whilst Obama is free to continue the blockade and conceal these acts of terror planned, funded and launched by his government, the Five, under convictions of espionage, remain in US gaols for defending their people. Anti-terrorists, their freedom is being denied by a state that actively promotes terrorism.
The Cuban 5 are innocent! Free them now!
In London on 14 September, comrades and supporters of Rock around the Blockade a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a street rally demanding justice for political prisoners, 'the Cuban 5'. The event marked the 15th anniversary of their unjust incarceration in US prisons and joined hundreds of solidarity actions as part of the international campaign to release the Cuban 5.
With a Cuban revival of the 1970s hit song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon round an Old Oak Tree' about a prisoner returning to his loved ones, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 recently freed from gaol in the US and back in Cuba, called for people to wear yellow ribbons to ‘make it impossible for visitors and the foreign media to ignore the fact that the Cuban people are still waiting for four of their sons who are imprisoned in the United States.’
www.realcuba.wordpress.com By Patricia Grogg
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 28 2013 – It’s Saturday, and the entrance hall of a police station in front of the busy market in Salomon in the Haitian capital has become an improvised health post. In a few minutes there is a long queue of people waiting to be seen by the Cuban medical brigade.
Article by Fernando Molina. Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left
Bolivia’s achievements in recent years have inspired interest and solidarity among many on the left outside that country, and not just in Latin America. Conversely, the government of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) has produced corresponding hostility from Washington and its allies. But some of the harshest criticism has also come from some left critics, including a few foreign academics and Bolivia-based NGO activists. Readers of their accounts might wonder how it is that the Morales government still gets the popular support it clearly does in Bolivia.
The following article by a leading Bolivian journalist sheds considerable light on the matter. He focuses on the domestic scene — more particularly, the government’s economic and social reforms — and astutely explains both the accomplishments of the administration and the reasons for discontent on both the left and the right within the country.
Cuba and Venezuela maintain their anti-imperialist principles, condemning Britain and the US's war drive in the Middle East and their latest threats to bomb Syria. Quotes taken from www.dailystar.com and www.venezuelanalysis.com
In a statement, the Cuban foreign ministry condemned the use of chemical weapons but called for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
'An aggression against Syria would provoke very serious consequences in the already convulsed Middle East, would constitute a flagrant violation of the principles of the U.N. charter and international law, and increase the dangers to peace and international security,' it said.
'It needs to be remembered that those advocating the most for military action against Syria are the same ones who launched bloody wars without a U.N. Security Council mandate, under cover of the deliberate lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction or under the pretext of protecting civilians,'
• The economic war against Cuba, Salim Lamrani, Monthly Review Press, New York 2013, 142pp, ISBN 978 1 583673 40 9
Salim Lamrani provides a concise look at the US blockade imposed on Cuba since 1960. His book gives an overview of how policy towards Cuba has changed since the revolution of 1959 as the US has become more determined to destroy the revolution. The blockade has been used not only to strangle Cuba’s economy but also to stop essential food and medicines reaching the island. Fidel Castro described the blockade as ‘attempted genocide’.
In mid-July, the Panamanian government seized the Chong Chon Gang, a North Korean cargo boat travelling from Cuba to the Panama Canal. The Panamanian forces claimed to have been tipped off about a drugs cargo. On board, however, were 10,000 tons of Cuban sugar and 240 metric tons of ‘obsolete defensive armaments’, according to the Cubans’ own statement.
The seizure was greeted with condemnation and sensationalist media headlines about violations of UN sanctions on arms sales to North Korea. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a public statement listing the contents of the shipment as: two anti-aircraft missile batteries, nine disassembled rockets, two MiG-21 aircrafts and 15 MiG engines – ‘all manufactured in the mid-90s – to be repaired and returned to our country’. The statement asserted Cuba’s need to ‘maintain our defence capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty’, and the country’s ‘firm and irrevocable commitment to peace, disarmament – including nuclear disarmament – and respect for international law’. The cruel, punitive US blockade of Cuba has been robustly denounced in the UN General Assembly for two decades and yet nothing is done to lift it – so there is little reason for Cuba to adhere to sanctions against North Korea in any case.
10,500 students graduated from Cuba’s medical universities in July 2013. Just over half of them, 5,683, are Cubans and the remaining 4,843 are foreigners from 70 countries and regions. The largest groups of foreign graduates were from Bolivia (855), Ecuador (718), Mexico (444), Argentina (387) and El Salvador (386). They graduated on medical science courses comprising several branches, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and healthcare technology, which includes 21 different sub-specialties.
The number of Cuban doctors working in the African country under a bilateral program will grow from 119 to 213 within the next three months, Alex Carreras Pons, head of the cooperation delegation of Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) in South Africa, told Prensa Latina.
CUBA STANDARD — In a move that considerably broadens Cuban health service exports and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, the Brazilian health ministry and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) agreed Aug. 21 to contract 4,000 Cuban doctors as a backbone for a fast-expanding medical program in needy regions of Brazil.
**Rock around the Blockade(RATB) is a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group. It defends socialist Cuba and uses its example as part of the struggle for socialism here in Britain. Here we re-post an important article from the website www.ratb.org.uk about a recent block on RATB’s PayPal account as a result of the US blockade of Cuba.**
Rock around the Blockade has fought off an attempt to use the US blockade to obstruct our work in solidarity with socialist Cuba. Without consultation or warning, the US-based company PayPal blocked our website payment account citing ‘possible trade with Cuba’.
RATB uses PayPal to process payments and donations via our website, www.ratb.org.uk. The money goes towards our activities in Britain (political meetings, educational discussions, film showings, street rallies, cultural celebrations and so on). We do not use PayPal to make financial transactions to Cuba (which is anyway impossible because of the US blockade) and the merchandise we sell is not sourced there.
On 26 May 2013 we received an email stating, ‘PayPal’s Compliance Department has reviewed your account and identified activity that may be in violation of United States regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’.
After numerous emails and telephone calls we were able to confirm that this meant there was a ‘potential violation regarding possible trade with Cuba, a country that is sanctioned’. We were told that ‘PayPal can't benefit a sanctioned country or anyone in it.’
Eventually, by providing details of our ‘business model’, the recipients of PayPal accrued funds and a list of our products and services offered via PayPal we were able to get the block on our account lifted.
The fact that the account of RATB, a small not-for-profit solidarity campaign, was blocked before any questions were asked shows how strictly the blockade is enforced and how scared US companies are of violating it. PayPal has recently been clamping down on any activity related to Cuba, for example, in August 2011, shutting down the PayPal account of a British foundation that accepts donations to support students to study medicine in Cuba.(http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/mar/12/paypal-cuban-connection)
Indeed, PayPal has good reason to be scared. Over the past few weeks OFAC has intensified enforcement of the blockade. On June 28, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A, was fined nearly $3 million USD for processing 53 transactions with Cuba between 2004 and 2008.
On July 22, OFAC issued a fine of $5,.2 million to American Express Travel Related Services Company– the fifth and largest fine so far this year. OFAC asserts that the company’s foreign subsidiaries and offices abroad sold 14,487 airline tickets to travel to Cuba from countries other than the US. Both these examples illustrate the extra-territorial nature of the blockade: regulations are routinely applied to prevent Cuba trading with countries around the world, not just the US; in violation of the sovereignty of the rest of the world.
Since 1960 the blockade has cost the Cuban economy an estimated $1 trillion USD. For 21 consecutive years the General assembly of the UN has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the blockade. In the 2012 vote, 188 countries voted for the lifting of the Blockade, with just three(the US,Israel and Palau) voting against and two (the Marshall Islands and Micronesia) abstaining. It is time to end this unjust and overwhelmingly unpopular economic bullying. The Cuban people have the right to chose socialism and to live without fear of the US government punishing them for doing so.
See: US blockade ‘attempted genocide’ from the current issue of FRFI for more details about the history and scope of the US blockade.
Opening the door for Cuba’s pharmaceutical and medical industry to a common market of 70 million people with a GDP of $636 billion, the members of the ALBA bloc officially announced the launch of ALBAmed, a multinational body that includes a regulatory institution and a central registry for pharmaceutical and medical products.
ALBAmed is expected to trigger concerted regional planning for pharmaceutical production and save participating governments — Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua — between 20 and 50 percent in medical purchases, an Ecuadorian foreign ministry official told Spanish news agency efe.
More than three million patients have recovered vision thanks to the Operation Milagro. The second phase will expand the attention to the African peoples without decreasing the number of operations on patients from Latin America and countries of ALBA
Cuba began construction of the third of three biotech plants in West Africa this week, as part of a trilateral program funded by Venezuela to battle malaria in the region.
Ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital of Ghana on Aug. 5, officials of Cuba, Venezuela and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met to discuss feasibility, cost, and investment architecture of the program, ECOWAS said in a press release. Another meeting is planned for Venezuela.