Published on 29 August 2014 by Granma
Presidential elections will be held during the month of October in Brazil (October 5) Bolivia (October 12) and Uruguay (October 26). These elections will add to those already held this year in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama and Colombia – the results of which, in general terms, allow for the continuation of trends seen in Latin America since the beginning of the century. The advance of the left and center-left, specifically in El Salvador and Costa Rica (but with relatively weak presidents given the composition of their respective congresses and limitations inherited from a neo-liberal model imposed 30 years ago); and in Panama and Colombia the ongoing predominance of right-wing groups divided among themselves, a result of their own contradictions and disputes, as evidenced in the case of President Juan Manuel Santos’ victory over Álvaro Uribe Vélez’s candidate.
From this perspective, the October elections are important since projected results from opinion polls, especially in Brazil and Uruguay, indicate the possibility that the progressive South American leadership, which has predominated over the last 10 years, may be threatened, or even split, by right-wing or center-right forces, or by pragmatic alliances - as for example, in Brazil, with the alliance between the "Greens" and agri-business companies in favor of Marina Silva’s candidacy.
On 27th August Rene Gonzalez was again denied a visa to visit the UK. This decision was taken despite the fact that 29 MPs had invited him to speak at a meeting at the Houses of parliament on September 10th. On 5 September, he suffered a further miscarriage of justice when the British courts failed to overturn the decision.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign has launched a letter writing campaign which you can join here
Olga Salanueva, wife of released Miami Five prisoner René González, will speak at emergency meetings on 8-10 September to protest at the British government’s denial of an entry visa for her husband.
René, the first of the Miami Five to be released, was due to speak at meetings in Liverpool and London to mark the 16th anniversary of their arrests. Despite an invitation from 29 British MPs to address a meeting in parliament and by the TUC to address their Congress in Liverpool, the British government has refused three legal appeals to overturn their decision to deny him entry to the country.
Rene is currently in the middle of visits to Portugal and France, both countries having granted him a visa without issue.
Emergency meetings with Olga Salanueva
Published on 4 September 2014 by www.cadenagramonte.cu
The World Bank has just published a revealing report on the problems of education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Entitled “Excellent Professors: How to improve learning in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the study analyzes the public educational systems of countries in the region and the main challenges they face.
According to the World Bank, “no Latin American school system, with the possible exception of Cuba,” has world parameters, the Cubadebate Web site reported on Thursday.
The World Bank emphasizes “the average low quality of professors of Latin America and the Caribbean,” which constitutes the main obstacle for the development of education in the region. Academic contents are inadequate and practices, inefficient.
Indeed, only Cuba, where education has been the main priority since 1959, has an efficient educational system and high level professors. In this regard, Cuba can stand alongside with more developed nations. The Caribbean island is also the nation of the world that devotes the highest part of its national budget to education: 13%.
In spite of the limited resources of a Third World country and the blockade imposed by the United States on the island for over half a century now, Cuba shows that quality education is within reach of all nations
Published on 26 August 2014 by Granma Internacional
Celebrating its 54th anniversary, the FMC has four million members
To gauge the impact the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) has had on society, we must go back in time to August 23, 1960, when the coming together of a variety of women’s organizations gave our grandmothers a voice and a vote - autonomy and the opportunity to get out of the kitchen.
The level of empowerment reached by Cuban women is undeniable, thanks to the FMC’s work. But far from satisfied with what has been accomplished thus far, the organization is seeking to adjust to the times, as the country’s economic and social situation continues to evolve.
The FMC’s 9th Congress, held this past March, made evident the important role women play in the country’s development, while also showing that discussion of current challenges is much needed, in order to find solutions.
Some data is illustrative: More than 16,000 women are working land granted them in usufruct, while women make up 20% of all agricultural workers, and 66% of the total workforce. The FMC’s community centers for women and families serve more than 60,000 persons a year, and 36% of the FMC’s local leaders are young.
Over the course of these 54 years, the FMC has grown along with the revolutionary process, without leaving behind its essence as an organization. Teresa Amarelle Boué, national secretary general, identified the Federation’s fundamental objectives as defense of the Revolution, and the struggle for equality.
Currently, 90% of Cuban women over 14 years of age, more than four million – are members of the FMC, which at this time is intent upon perfecting its work given the generational transformation occurring at the grassroots level. This is a challenge which implies the use of new, attractive strategies to reach today’s young women.
In addition to its community work, the Federation is the national organization which, in a dialogue with the government and others, promotes policies to benefit women. Alliances have been established with the ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Labor and other entities charged with ensuring progress for women.
Such efforts have led to increased attention to preventative healthcare measures for women; to laws protecting women’s rights and physical safety; to equal opportunity in employment, in urban and rural areas; to motherhood and child rearing; and to all areas which concern women in general.
This is today’s Federation – an organization of better prepared women who know their place in society, and what they must do to preserve it.
Iván Márquez, spokesman of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP, stated that concepts like "transition", "demobilization" and "surrender of arms" don't exist in the General Agreement of Havana or in the ranks of the insurgency.
This was the loud and clear answer to the announcement by the government these days, of creating a 'Strategic Command of Transition', which would be in charge of the transition, of the enemy's demobilization and of controlling the surrender of arms.
Márquez said that the FARC won't ever accept a military hierarchy to resolve problems that are of a political nature, and that fundamental aspects like abandonment of arms also implies demilitarization of society and state.
With these announcements, the government is creating false expectations, when it should be realistic and explain to the people that
"in spite of the progress that has been made on different aspects, it will still take time to define what hasn't been resolved yet, like for example institutional transformations".
The insurgency also expressed its irritation about the government not taking into account the opinions of the counterpart at the Table. The state continues trying to impose its legality (the so-called legal framework) as instrument of transitional justice, while the FARC has said many times that this unilateral imposition is unacceptable.
"The only legal framework we accept is the General Agreement of Havana in which state and insurgency are equal parts. Remeber that item 3, numeral 5 on the End of Conflict, states that "the National Government will review and implement the necessary institutional reforms and adjustments to face the challenge of the construction of peace".
The FARC-EP called for an emergency meeting with the government, to re-establish the bilaterality of the peace process and read the content of what has been agreed. At the same time, the guerrilla movement invites Juan Fernando Cristo, Government Minister, to come to Havana and discuss the different viewpoints that might exist, as well as explain the real content of the agreements made so far.
The peace talks in Havana have entered the 28th round of conversations, which at the same time is the 2nd round on the fifth item on the Agenda: victims. Since the start of the conversations, the FARC-EP on a number of occasions, has made clear that the peace process shouldn't be deflected by third party's wishful thinking or theinterpretations of mainstream media.
"There is only one Agenda, in the context is the Agreement made on August 26, 2012. The rest is fantasy".
Published on 5 September 2014 by ACN www.periodico26.cu
Thousands of messages are at the doors of the White House on Friday demanding the release of the three anti-terrorist Cubans held in US prisons since 1998.
Supporters of the cause of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Fernando González, internationally known as the Cuban Five, are sending their requests to President Barack Obama as an international solidarity action that takes place on the 5th day each month.
The initiative, which was promoted by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five, reiterates the world claim for justice and urges the White House to return Hernandez, Labanino an Guerrero back to Cuba.
The three Cubans still imprisoned along with René González and Fernando González, already in Cuba after serving their prison sentences, monitored Florida-based violent organizations that planned terrorist actions against the Cuban people. They were submitted to a biased Miami trial which gave them extremely long an unfair sentences in 2001.
The campaign has been joined by renown personalities, such as Professor Felix Kury, from the University of San Francisco, California, who wrote Obama a letter urging him to use his signature and power to release the three Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.
The current international campaign for the release of Hernández, Labañino and Guerrero will run till October 6 with actions in over 40 nations of the world.
Published on 3 September by Presna Latina
Hundreds of Palestinians raised photos of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and Venezuelans Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, during a march held yesterday in Gaza to express gratitude for Latin American solidarity.
Convened by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the rally held on Tuesday, Sep. 2, included several areas in Gaza Strip, while protesters marched and chanted slogans of support for Latin America, repudiating the deadly Israeli military aggression that lasted 50 days.
In addition to posters carrying photos of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who broke immediately broke relations with Israel when it launched its last aggression to Gaza, and current President Nicolas Maduro, PFLP members and supporters also raised photos of Ghassam Ben Jeddou.
Ben Jeddou is the president of the Pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen media corporation, and was being recognized for the way his network covered the bombing by Zionist forces, and the strong resistance of the Palestinian people.
Posters with the image of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, general secretary of the Shiite-Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah (Party of God), whose support for the Palestinian counterpart organizations was fundamental, were among the participants in the popular mobilization.
The march was conceived to celebrate the victory reached by the Palestinian people and, particularly, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements, achieving Israel's acceptance of an indefinite truce with certain exigencies, which came into force on August 26, organizers of that rally told Prensa Latina.
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.