Published on 1 September 2014 by Workers World
“The banks are a tool of Wall Street rule!” Is this political accusation just an abstract, educational slogan?
Not in the case of Cuba. On July 3, The Irish Independent reported that international transactions to or from Cuba would no longer be processed by the Bank of Ireland. The announcement coincides with the largest bank in France — BNP Paribas SA — agreeing to pay a negotiated settlement nearing $9 billion for violating international sanctions unilaterally imposed by the United States on third countries, including handling $1.75 billion for Cuba. (bloomberg.com, July 9)
But even according to the governor of the Bank of France, BNP Paribas “had broken no European or French rules.” (Financial Times, June 2 )
Neither did the Bank of Ireland. So what is the problem? The “Single European Payment Area” is a financial system to facilitate and standardize the electronic flow of capital across European borders to be fully in place by Aug. 1. But SEPA is not isolated from the global flow of money.
The Bank of Ireland claims it depends on an overseas bank to process transactions under the SEPA umbrella. On Aug. 25, the Irish Times quoted a bank spokesperson’s explanation, “‘As it happens, [the bank which processes] all Sepa transactions is a leading U.S. bank who must comply with its own regulatory requirements and obligations and to avoid a possible exposure to regulatory sanctions and penalties.’ Because of this the Irish bank says it is ‘not in a position to process such transactions’” to Cuba. In other words, it faces the specter of a BNP Paribas type fine.
Since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has annually and overwhelmingly passed resolutions condemning the U.S. blockade of Cuba. All European Union representatives and Ireland supported these resolutions.
Simon McGuinness, the national coordinator of Cuba Support Group Ireland, said, “On the one hand we have the EU voting as a single bloc against the blockade and on the other they introduced financial regulations which facilitate it.” (irishtimes.com, Aug. 25)
The globalization of U.S. imperialism’s financial network relies increasingly on technology for the split-second transfer of capital to every corner of the earth. It is a shadowy weapon against sovereignty and independent development for formerly colonized areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Bank of Ireland’s decision to eliminate transfers to and from Cuba is an example of how unelected proponents of imperialism in the corporate and financial boardrooms shape financial regulations to enforce their political goals — while giving the illusion of objectivity.
Published on 22 August 2014 by Big Story
The Costa Rican government will investigate undercover U.S. programs operated from the Central American country and using its citizens in a ploy to destabilize the government in Cuba, the director of intelligence and security said Friday.
Mariano Figueres told The Associated Press that the new administration, which took office May 8, has found no records or information from their predecessors about the U.S. Agency for International Development project, which starting in 2009 sent young Venezuelans, Costa Ricans and Peruvians to Cuba in hopes of stirring opposition to the island's communist government.
Figueres said Costa Rica's only information came from an 4 Aug Associated Press article, which said USAID and a contractor, Creative Associates International, used the cover of health and civic programs, some operating out of Costa Rica, in hopes of provoking political change in Cuba. The AP found the program continued even as U.S. officials privately told contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba after the arrest there of contractor Alan Gross, who remains imprisoned after smuggling in sensitive technology.
"If we can confirm all this, of course we're not going to agree that our national territory be used to attack a friendly government, regardless of what ideological side you're on," Figueres said. "It's a matter of sovereignty and respect ... and we're very alarmed that they used Costa Rican citizens and put them at risk."
Published on 15 August 2014 by www.cubacontemporanea.com
Cuba's Labiofam company (biopharmaceutical and chemical products) will present new therapeutic products against cancer during the Labiofam 2014 International Congress, which will be held in Havana from 22 to 25 September.
The press director of the institution, José Antonio Fraga Castro reports that during the event at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana they will discuss about natural products on human health, the comprehensive programs of prevention and control of transmitters vectors of diseases, therapy and prophylaxis in animals, bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers for agriculture and cosmetics,.
"The countries of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our Americas, integrated by Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, and various Caribbean nations) express their solidarity with the African descent communities of the United States," the statement added.
Published on 11 August 2014 by Granma International
Bolivia’s President presents 12-point government program to his party and leaders of principal social organizations
Bolivia has experienced sustained growth under the leadership of President Evo Morales, who is running for reelection this coming October 12, with a new 12-point programmatic agenda, which could allow the country to become one of South America’s most developed economies, devoted to the goal of buen vivir, a good life for all with social justice and equality. President Evo Morales is currently supported by 60% of voters, going into the October elections.
When Morales assumed office for the first time in 2005, capitalist technocrats and the regional right wing thought he wouldn’t last long, lacking, they believed, the knowledge needed to carry out the anti-neoliberal policies proposed in his campaign, with the goal of creating a new nation.
The President, however, not only outwitted enemies who attempted to overthrow him, but ensured that Bolivia’s economy maintained a steady growth rate over the last 13 years, generating earnings which were used to meet social needs, thanks to new policies not based on market laws.
This past year, the country’s economy grew at a rate of 6.8%, and its reserves went from eight billion dollars in 2006, to 33 billion currently. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, this trend should continue, with a growth rate of 5.1% forecast for this year, and 6.8% in 2015.
The Morales government nationalized the economy’s most important sectors – oil and gas – and promoted industrialization of these, along with that of lithium, and has to its credit a transparent system of administration, which has not, to date, allowed for incidents of corruption, or the misappropriation of funds, ills afflicting some other Latin American nations.
Published on 19 August 2014 by Presna Latina
In addition of ensuring security of computer specialist and journalist Julian Assange as a political refugee, the Ecuadorian government is seeking an appropriate legal resolution to his case, said Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño.
At his Twitter account, the minister stressed yesterday the many nuances in Assange's legal case, saying: "The principle of effective judiciary protection says we have the right to trials without undue delays, something Julian Assange has not been allowed."
At a news conference in London along with the founder of the Wikileaks organization, Patiño said the British Parliament had passed a law to prevent extradition of people who have not been accused by a judge, as in the case of the computer specialist.
According to the foreign minister's statements with the press, this formal change opens new possibilities of understanding on the matter with the U.K. government, which has so far refused a safe-conduct pass to transfer Assange to Ecuador.
The days when U.S.-backed armed forces overthrew constitutional, democratically elected governments are long gone.
“In this country, they apply what the left used to call a ‘combination of all forms of struggle’. And if you make a list of the people involved, they have remained the same since the start; it’s the same organisations ... What changes, every time, is the method.”
Venezuelan interior minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres
On 23 September 2010 the former Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutiérrez (deposed by a popular uprising in 2005) gave a talk to the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy in Miami, criticising his nation’s socialists for their mysticism, incoherent Marxism and dangerous populism. He told his listeners that to end 21st-century socialism in Ecuador (the subject of his talk), it would be necessary to get rid of President Rafael Correa.
His speech is on record; there’s a video that captures the thunderous applause it received. In the audience were Mario Ribadeneira, a minister in the government of Sixto Durán-Ballén (president 1992-96), when Ecuadorian neoliberalism was at its height; Roberto Isaías, wanted for fraud after the collapse of Filanbanco, Ecuador’s largest bank, of which he was part-owner; and Mario Pazmiño, a former head of army intelligence, sacked by Correa in 2008 for having too close a relationship with the CIA.
Published on 6 August 2014 by Granma Internacional
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) secretly sent young Latin Americans to Cuba in an attempt to incite opposition and destroy the Revolution, according to an investigation conducted by the U.S. press agency Associated Press, the same agency which exposed the ZunZuneo project, based on the use of new mobile phone technology to promote destabilization in Cuba.
The report signed by journalists Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, Alberto Arce and Andrea Rodríguez, stated that beginning in October 2009, a project directed by USAID sent young Venezuelans, Costa Ricans and Peruvians to Cuba with the goal of inciting a rebellion on the island.
AP revealed, “The travelers worked undercover, often posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for people they could turn into political activists.”
The project employed covert methods commonly used by U.S. intelligence services, such as secret lines of communication, fronts and lies; encryption of information; security measures; promoting exchanges with overseas agents; seeking intelligence information on Cuban society; psychological preparation of emissaries in the case of possible detection by Cuban State Security; use of codes in communications, among others. Nonetheless the journalists assert that the project was plagued with “incompetence and risks.”
Published on 1 August 2014 by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240
Cuba’s new direct Foreign Investment Law was implemented on 30 June 2014. Unanimously approved in March by the National Assembly of People’s Power, the law is in accordance with the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution. These guidelines were established by the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 2010 and discussed and modified across 163,000 consultations with almost nine million Cubans, before being ratified by the National Assembly of People’s Power in 2011. This extraordinary process of participative democracy governs the principles by which the Foreign Investment Law will operate. As the introduction of the guidelines affirms, ‘only socialism is capable of overcoming the difficulties and preserving the conquests of the Revolution, and that in the updating of the economic model, planning will be supreme, not the market’.
As we have discussed previously (see FRFI 221), the new law is part of a series of economic updates begun in 2008 designed to urgently increase domestic production, productivity and efficiency. This is necessary to increase national income, eliminate a balance of payments deficit, substitute imports with domestic production and develop the productive forces to work towards the long-term aims of ‘food and energy self-sufficiency, an efficient use of human potential, a higher level of competitiveness in traditional production areas, and the development of new forms of the production of goods and services of higher added value.’
Published on 28 July by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
At the 6th BRICS summit held on 15-16 July 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced the creation of a New Development Bank and multilateral reserve fund. This is a direct alternative to the dominance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank and represents a significant challenge to the US and EU. The new bank gives countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, which are explicitly building and working towards socialism, access to trade, credit and investment without having to accept the dictates of US and EU imperialism.
The BRICS countries represent one fifth of the world economy, almost 50% of world GDP growth in the last 10 years, and 40% of the world's population. With the New Development Bank they are claiming an international role which reflects this. The bank is due to begin lending in 2016 and within five years will hold US $100bn of pooled capital (reported World Bank capital was $223bn in June 2013). This will be underscored by $41bn from China, $18bn from Brazil, India and Russia and $5 bn from South Africa. The reserve fund is aimed to support its members against economic crisis and global financial crises, a welcome alternative to the debt-ridden structural adjustment programmes of the IMF. Whilst the main stakeholders will remain BRICS countries, other nations will also be invited to become members of the bank.
As the Cuban government said, 'Israel uses its military and technological superiority to implement a policy of collective punishment with a disproportionate use of force that causes loss of innocent civilian lives and massive property damage'.
We condemn the imperialist support for Israel, in particular in Britain where the ConDem coalition government continues to arm Israel and the British Labour Party in opposition pledges its support for Israel.
We stand with the Palestinian people and reiterate the words of Fidel Castro who expressed his 'solidarity with the heroic people who defend the last sliver remaining of what was their homeland for thousands of years'. We give our unconditional support to all resistance in Palestine
Resistance is justified when Palestine is occupied!
We take up the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's call for urgent international solidarity.
Join us on the streets for political activity as part of the Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement.
Long Live Gaza! Long Live Palestine!
Published on 26 July 2014 by Granma International
We have arrived thus far thanks to the unity of the people and their confidence in the Revolution, said Comandante de la Revolución Ramiro Valdés, July 26 in Artemisa
President Raúl Castro led the event commemorating the 61st anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, July 26, National Day of Rebellion, held in the provincial capital of Artemisa, west of Havana.
The Cuban people’s determination to guarantee the continuity of the Revolution and socialism was emphasized by Comandante de la Revolución Ramiro Valdés Menéndez – a participant in the historic 1953 assaults led by Fidel against the Batista dictatorship – who presented the principal remarks at the national celebration.
We have no alternative other than continuing to struggle every day for the homeland, the Revolution, and socialism, said Valdés, also a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers.
Published on 25 July by www.counterpunch.org W.T. Whitney Jr
In Cuba recently press conferences and new reports celebrated the ten-year anniversary of Operation Miracle, known also as “Mision Miracle,” which occurred on July 8. This internationalized project aimed at restoring vision on a massive scale took shape within the context of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.
Cuba and Venezuela launched ALBA in late 2004. Latin American and Caribbean nations belonging to ALBA engage in mutually beneficial trade-offs of educational and medical services, scientific projects, even commodities. They are referred to as solidarity exchanges. ALBA exemplifies Cuba and Venezuela’s central role in promoting regional integration.
Under Operation Miracle, Cubans and Venezuelans benefit from surgical eye care, as do tens of thousands of foreign nationals who’ve traveled to Cuba for treatment. Cuban ophthalmologists serving in Venezuela took the lead in establishing 26 eye care centers throughout that national territory. Staff consisting of eye surgeons, nurses, technicians, and other physicians have served Venezuelans and also vision- impaired people from 17 Latin American countries plus Italy, Portugal, and Puerto Rico. More recently organizers established centers in 14 Latin American and Caribbean nations. Ten years after its start the project operates in 31 countries, some in Africa and Asia.
Published on 23 July 2014 by Cuba News
Cuba and China signed 29 bilateral cooperation accords on Tuesday, during the official visit here by President Xi Jinping.
The accords, aimed at further strengthening economic, commercial, cultural relations included a frame agreement of collaboration in the cyberspace, the granting by China of a line of credit to build a multi-purpose terminal at the Santiago de Cuba harbor, a free-of-interest credit line and a donation.
Other documents signed focused on transfer of technology, the development of renewable energies, biotechnology, environment monitoring, and the setting up of a Cuba-China pilot farm.
The two parties also signed protocols to control the quality of tobacco and sugar being exported to China, the increase of participation in the oils sector and the setting up of a corporation to be named Bello Monte S.A. Bilateral exchange in the education sector was also included in the accords.
Previous to the signing of the accords, Xi Jinping was granted the Jose Marti Order in acknowledgement of his friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people. Xi said he was honored to have been granted such high distinction.
Published 22 July by Academia Superior de Idiomas
The Ecuadorian Ambassador has been recalled from Israel. The Ecuadorian government has made this decision based on the recent assault on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces, leading to the deaths of over 550 Palestinians. Out of these 550 deaths, over 130 have been children, and over 3,300 people have been injured.
South Africa has also made a similar decision this week. On Friday the South African legislators urged the president to pull their officials from Israel and cut diplomatic ties by comparing what is happening now to what happened during Apartheid. Stone Sizani, a member of the African National Congress stated: “We echo the widespread condemnation of these senseless attacks on defenceless Palestinians and call on the government of Israel to immediately cease with this blatant act of criminality,”. “As the ANC in parliament, we stand unapologetically with the people of Palestine and pro-Palestinian campaigners … As one of the measures to put pressure on Israel, we are of a firm view that our government must recall our ambassador to Israel and also ask the Israel ambassador to South Africa to leave with immediate effect.”
The decision to recall the Ecuadorian ambassador coincides with the announcement made by the African Studies Association to join an academic boycott of Israel by getting 500 academic signatures worldwide to enact an embargo. The Ecuadorian government made clear that that the reason they are withdrawing is due to the recent attacks in Gaza. The Ecuadoran Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, stated, “We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory. We require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.”
Published on 23 July 2014 by Cuba News
Cuba prioritizes actions to develop its recycling industry through the purchase of modern technology, the study of its potentials and the adoption of new legislation in the sector.
In tune with a new recycling policy adopted in 2012 by the Cuban Council of Ministers the performance of the sector is being reviewed and will be complemented with a new recycling law, currently in the works, plus the setting of prices that encourage the collection and recovery of recycling materials.
The new policy stipulates the development of industrial processing through the introduction of new technology and of course encouragement of foreign investment in the sector.
According to the general vice-director of the Cuban Recycling Industry Marilyn Ramos, actions have thus far included the study of the country's potential output of recycling materials, the installed capacity for industrial processing and the opportunities that the sector can offer foreign investors to create new recycling capacities.
The plan includes the purchase of new equipment to disassemble large and idle industrial facilities that possess large volumes of metal scrap; important enough is an investment in a local ship disassembling plant in western Cuba, aimed at increasing capabilities and work on all boats abandoned along Cuban coasts.
Actions also aim at setting up a new recycling plant of plastic materials in the central-southern province of Cienfuegos.
However, the sector reported the recycling of over 420 thousand tons of materials in 2013 , which translated into the saving of 220 million dollars, if the country had to import such raw materials, officials said.
Published on 20 July by www.venezuelanalysis.com
Several multilateral meetings were held in the city of Fortaleza, including the 6th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, and meetings between China and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
During the BRICS summit, the five emerging economies created a new development bank and a multilateral reserve fund, each of which will potentially hold US $100 billion of pooled capital. The reserve fund will be used to support members of the bloc against adverse economic conditions or external impacts.
The creation of the new institutions is partly motivated by dissatisfaction with the terms of the financial hegemony exercised by the U.S. and its European allies through the IMF and World Bank.
“The strength of our project has positive potential: we want the global [financial] system to be fairer and more equal,” said Brazilian president Dilma Roussef to media.
Published on 21 July 2014 by Workers World
Fidel Castro writes a regular column for Granma. The Havana newspaper is named for the ship that in 1956 carried the revolutionary leader and his band of courageous young fighters to Cuba to launch an armed struggle that liberated the island from the bloody dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and his U.S. backers. Below is his commentary of July 18.
'This morning the cables were full of reports about the unheard-of news that a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane had been hit at an altitude of 10,100 meters as it flew over Ukrainian territory, along a route controlled by the war-hungry government of chocolate king Petro Poroshenko.
Cuba, which has always stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and in the difficult days of the Chernobyl tragedy provided medical care to the many children affected by the accident’s harmful radiation, and is always willing to continue doing so, cannot refrain from expressing our repudiation of the action of the anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian and pro-imperialist government.
At the same time, coinciding with the Malaysian aircraft crime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the nuclear state, ordered his army to invade the Gaza Strip, where, over the last several days, hundreds of Palestinians have died, many of them children. The president of the United States supported the action, describing the repugnant act as legitimate defense.
Obama does not support David against Goliath, but rather Goliath against David. As is known, young men and women from the Israeli people, well prepared for productive work, are being exposed to a death without honor, without glory. I am not aware of the Palestinians’ military strategy, but I know that a combatant prepared to die can defend even the ruins of a building, as long as he has his rifle, as the heroic defenders of Stalingrad demonstrated.
I only wish to express my solidarity with the heroic people who defend the last sliver remaining of what was their homeland for thousands of years.'
On 11 July Cuba strongly condemned the new Israeli attack against the population of the Gaza Strip that has caused the death of more than 100 people and wounds to hundreds.
In a communique, the Cuban Foreign Ministry denounced that Israel uses its military and technological superiority to execute a policy of collective punishment with out-of-proportion use of force, which causes the death of innocent civilians and huge material damage.
Faced with that situation, we are calling to the international community to demand that Israel ends its escalation of violence, said the statement signed by the Director for Bilateral Issues of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Gerardo Peñalver.
Only talks on the grounds of equality can lead to a fair peace that allows the Palestinian people to exerise their inalienable rights and establish definitively the Palestinian State, with its capital in East Jerusalem, the text said.
According to international media outlets, Israeli troops and armor-plated vehicles are stationed at the border with Gaza, awaiting the order to enter and occupy the territory.
There have been denunciations of the air raids against the civil population in the Gaza Strip that have caused numerous deaths, including those of women and children, who were taken by surprise inside their homes while asleep
Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, on July 5, 2014, Year 56 of the Revolution, during the National Assembly of People’s Power 8th Legislature’s third period of ordinary sessions, in Havana’s Convention Center
Compañeras and compañeros:
Over the last few weeks, we have held important meetings, among them the June 21 Council of Ministers and the 8th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, last Thursday. Information about both events, especially the Council of Ministers, has been broadly reported in the media.
Likewise, since Wednesday, deputies have discussed in depth, in their respective commissions, the principal issues affecting the nation’s work. My remarks will therefore be brief.
As has been reported, during the first half of the year, the Cuban economy continued to grow modestly; the Gross Domestic Product (GNP) increased by 0.6%, indicating a deceleration in the growth rate as a result of shortfalls in external income; the negative effects of weather conditions; as well as the persistence of internal economic management deficiencies.
Despite growth in the areas of transportation, communications, agriculture, the sugar industry and tourism, decreases were registered in mining and industrial production, the latter as a result of difficulties with financing and the consequent late delivery of imported raw materials.
Likewise, the negative effects of the world economic crisis continue, while the U.S. blockade has been tightened, especially with respect to the persecution of financial entities which maintain ties with our country, a topic I will address again later.
In these undeniably difficult circumstances, we have met in a timely fashion our financial obligations resulting from the restructuring of debts with our principal creditors, a fact which favors the continuing recuperation of our economy’s international credibility.
At the same time, internal monetary equilibrium has been maintained, both within the population’s sector and in the economy as a whole. The tendency toward recovering financial discipline, in terms of accounts payable and receivable, has been consolidated, as well.
To achieve a growth of 1.4% in the GNP by the end of the year, more and better work is required during the second semester, and the utilization of untapped sources of efficiency must be strengthened.
We are not satisfied with the results achieved, but neither are we discouraged, in the least. Faced with these difficult circumstances, our spirit of struggle, determination and optimism must prevail, to reverse the situation and regain the rate of growth needed to assure socialist development, based on sustainable and irreversible foundations.
Havana.- Paris National Bank (BNP) Paribas agreed to pay an 8.9-billion-dollar fine to avoid penal actions, after admitting its violation of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba and other nations.
Representatives of the French bank admitted before a Southern Manhattan Court, in New York, the falsification of commercial documents to hide operations considered illegal in the United States.
This is one of the largest fines ever imposed on a French entity for violating the sanctions maintained by Washington against some countries of the world.
It is not known yet if the fine will be joined by other measures such as the laying off of at least a dozen employees and the temporary suspension of the rights of the bank to do transactions in US dollars, as it was originally demanded by US authorities.
Last February, BNP Paribas closed its offices in Havana amidst a probe by US authorities for alleged transactions that violated Washington's prohibitions to do business with Cuba, Iran and Sudan.