Published on 18 March 2015 by Granma Internacional
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.
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)
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.
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)
North Korea (2008)
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:
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.
Published on 8 March 2015 by Prensa Latina
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:
Published on 24 February by CounterPunch Written by W.T. Whitney Jr
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.
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.
Published on 1 February 2015 in www.revolutionarycommunist.org
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:
‘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.’
Published on 12 February 2015 by Granma
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 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.
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.
The 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.
Published on 31 January byFight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
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.
Published on 16 December by Granma Internacional
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 28 January 2015 by counterpunch
“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.
Published on 28 January by Manuel E. Yepe. A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
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.
Published on 18 January by www.letcubalive.org Source: http://www.mujerfariana.org/index.php/heroinas/241-leonela-relys-laincansable-educadora Translated by Tom Whitney
“Death is not true when one has fulfilled life's work in all respects.” -- José Martí
Leonela Relys died on January 17, 2015. She created the Cuban method of literacy teaching known as “Yes I can” (Yo, si puedo). It’s the means by which millions of people in various parts of the world keep on learning how to read and write. Letters have allowed men and women to understand their rights as citizens, or simply – but no less important –to read a story, a poem, or know how to sign something. With pencils they see those names bursting forth that other people use to identify us.
She was born in Camagüey on April 20 1947 and lived many years in Havana where she did much of her work as a teacher. A militant of the Communist Party of Cuba, she was tireless in defending the achievements of the Cuban revolution. As either teacher or professor, one of her ways to do it was to pass on her academic knowledge and her moral and revolutionary principles to each compatriot, to each Latin American
At 14 years of age she became a [volunteer] literacy teacher in the campaign asked for by Fidel to fill various corners of Cuba's geography with letters, learning, and knowledge. Responding much later to another call from Fidel, she went to the land of Petión to coordinate literacy teaching for the Haitian people. Haitians received not only Leonela’s wisdom but also her friendship and love. After this experience, Fidel sent her to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and later to Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, and Seville in Spain. In all these places, she set up her program.
Published on 26 January 2015 by TeleSur English
Authorities from Mexico's Veracruz state announced Sunday that they had found the body of missing local journalist José Moisés Sanchez Cerezo and accused the mayor of Medellín de Bravo, Omar Cruz Reyes, of masterminding Sanchez’s abduction and murder.
Veracruz state’s attorney general, Luis Angel Bravo released a statement on Sunday stating that that former municipal police confessed to participating in Sanchez's murder along with five other people at the instructions of the deputy director of the town's police force allegedly at the request of Cruz. Sanchez was abducted by armed men three weeks ago.
Bravo also issued formal murder charges against Cruz and requested the state congress to remove the mayor’s immunity so that he may be prosecuted.
According to a 2011 report by Journalists Without Borders, Veracruz was among the 10 most dangerous cities in the world to practice journalism.
Published on 23 January 2015 by Houston Communist Party
Hypocrisy or diplomacy
Certainly all rational people understand that the current negotiations between Cuba and the USA are complex and progress will not be smooth. One way to smooth the negotiations would be to remove the element of hypocrisy constantly being hammered by the US negotiators. One impediment to progress is the demand by the US for Cuba to improve their stance on “human rights.” The US negotiators should consider this biblical passage before making demands on Cuba:
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sinamong you be the first to throw a stone at her.” They also might want to consider this old saying “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
The US negotiators have reached the apex of hypocrisy when they demand that Cuba improve its human rights record. Cuba has never unleashed nuclear weapons on foreign or domestic metropolises such as the US did to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Cuba has never firebombed a city such as was done to Dresden, Germany. Cuba has never bombed foreign countries throughout the world such as the US has done in Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Published on 25 January by TeleSur English
The Ecuadorean National Secretariat for Planning and Development announced Friday that between 2007 and 2014, more than 1.5 million people had been lifted out of poverty in the South American country.
These years coincide with Presdient Rafael Correa’s time in office and the policies of what is known as the Citizens’ Revolution, which recently celebrated eight years of government.
“The model of government has radically changed,” said Pabel Muñoz, the national secretary for planning and development. The Correa administration has also dramatically reduced inequality in the country. In 2007, the country’s wealthiest earned 42 times that of the poorest, while in 2014 that was reduced to only 22 times.
The 1.5 million lifted out of poverty represents a drop of 14 percent in the poverty rate in the country, with extreme poverty dropping 8 points from 16.5 percent to 8.6 percent.
“Ecuador is a successful country because while reducing poverty, it reduces the gap between the rich and the poor. It has allowed for an increase in consumption and has not registered drops in social indicators. Instead people have climbed the social ladder,” said Muñoz.
Published on 16 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
The U.S. government lifted large portions of its blockade against Cuba Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday modifications to trade limitations with Cuba and the travel restrictions to the island for U.S. citizens.
Cuba–U.S. relations took a historic turn on Dec. 17, when three Cuban political prisoners — unjustly held by the United States for more than 15 years — were released, and the White House announced numerous policy shifts toward the Caribbean nation. President Barack Obama admitted that his country's half-century attempt to defeat Cuba had failed.
United Airlines said Thursday it planned to serve Cuba from Houston, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey, subject to government approvals. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways said they would also look into adding services. Leading online travel company Orbitz Worldwide welcomed the Department of the Treasury's amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes and facilitate the provision by travel agents and airlines of authorized travel services.
However, general tourism to Cuba remains banned.
Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer and expert on Cuban legal issues, told Voice of America that hefty fines remain for those involved in unauthorized travel.
“It is US$100,000 per infraction. So if you have 20 people in a group traveling to Cuba and the organizers violated the rules, you are looking at a US$2 million penalty,” he said.
Meanwhile, the details of the new amendments provide opportunities for U.S. businesses to export certain goods to Cuba, including telecommunications equipment and building materials for private residents and small businesses.
Senior administration officials plan to travel to Cuba later this month to discuss additional migration issues, as well the logistical considerations surrounding the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
Only the U.S. Congress can lift the blockade that has been in place since 1960. However, several U.S. lawmakers have vowed to block any attempts to restore diplomatic relations.
The United States is home to over 2 million Cubans.