The Cuban 5 are innocent! Free them now!
In London on 14 September, comrades and supporters of Rock around the Blockade a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a street rally demanding justice for political prisoners, 'the Cuban 5'. The event marked the 15th anniversary of their unjust incarceration in US prisons and joined hundreds of solidarity actions as part of the international campaign to release the Cuban 5.
With a Cuban revival of the 1970s hit song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon round an Old Oak Tree' about a prisoner returning to his loved ones, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 recently freed from gaol in the US and back in Cuba, called for people to wear yellow ribbons to ‘make it impossible for visitors and the foreign media to ignore the fact that the Cuban people are still waiting for four of their sons who are imprisoned in the United States.’
www.realcuba.wordpress.com By Patricia Grogg
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 28 2013 – It’s Saturday, and the entrance hall of a police station in front of the busy market in Salomon in the Haitian capital has become an improvised health post. In a few minutes there is a long queue of people waiting to be seen by the Cuban medical brigade.
Article by Fernando Molina. Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left
Bolivia’s achievements in recent years have inspired interest and solidarity among many on the left outside that country, and not just in Latin America. Conversely, the government of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) has produced corresponding hostility from Washington and its allies. But some of the harshest criticism has also come from some left critics, including a few foreign academics and Bolivia-based NGO activists. Readers of their accounts might wonder how it is that the Morales government still gets the popular support it clearly does in Bolivia.
The following article by a leading Bolivian journalist sheds considerable light on the matter. He focuses on the domestic scene — more particularly, the government’s economic and social reforms — and astutely explains both the accomplishments of the administration and the reasons for discontent on both the left and the right within the country.
Cuba and Venezuela maintain their anti-imperialist principles, condemning Britain and the US's war drive in the Middle East and their latest threats to bomb Syria. Quotes taken from www.dailystar.com and www.venezuelanalysis.com
In a statement, the Cuban foreign ministry condemned the use of chemical weapons but called for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
'An aggression against Syria would provoke very serious consequences in the already convulsed Middle East, would constitute a flagrant violation of the principles of the U.N. charter and international law, and increase the dangers to peace and international security,' it said.
'It needs to be remembered that those advocating the most for military action against Syria are the same ones who launched bloody wars without a U.N. Security Council mandate, under cover of the deliberate lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction or under the pretext of protecting civilians,'
• The economic war against Cuba, Salim Lamrani, Monthly Review Press, New York 2013, 142pp, ISBN 978 1 583673 40 9
Salim Lamrani provides a concise look at the US blockade imposed on Cuba since 1960. His book gives an overview of how policy towards Cuba has changed since the revolution of 1959 as the US has become more determined to destroy the revolution. The blockade has been used not only to strangle Cuba’s economy but also to stop essential food and medicines reaching the island. Fidel Castro described the blockade as ‘attempted genocide’.
In mid-July, the Panamanian government seized the Chong Chon Gang, a North Korean cargo boat travelling from Cuba to the Panama Canal. The Panamanian forces claimed to have been tipped off about a drugs cargo. On board, however, were 10,000 tons of Cuban sugar and 240 metric tons of ‘obsolete defensive armaments’, according to the Cubans’ own statement.
The seizure was greeted with condemnation and sensationalist media headlines about violations of UN sanctions on arms sales to North Korea. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a public statement listing the contents of the shipment as: two anti-aircraft missile batteries, nine disassembled rockets, two MiG-21 aircrafts and 15 MiG engines – ‘all manufactured in the mid-90s – to be repaired and returned to our country’. The statement asserted Cuba’s need to ‘maintain our defence capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty’, and the country’s ‘firm and irrevocable commitment to peace, disarmament – including nuclear disarmament – and respect for international law’. The cruel, punitive US blockade of Cuba has been robustly denounced in the UN General Assembly for two decades and yet nothing is done to lift it – so there is little reason for Cuba to adhere to sanctions against North Korea in any case.
10,500 students graduated from Cuba’s medical universities in July 2013. Just over half of them, 5,683, are Cubans and the remaining 4,843 are foreigners from 70 countries and regions. The largest groups of foreign graduates were from Bolivia (855), Ecuador (718), Mexico (444), Argentina (387) and El Salvador (386). They graduated on medical science courses comprising several branches, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and healthcare technology, which includes 21 different sub-specialties.
The number of Cuban doctors working in the African country under a bilateral program will grow from 119 to 213 within the next three months, Alex Carreras Pons, head of the cooperation delegation of Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) in South Africa, told Prensa Latina.
CUBA STANDARD — In a move that considerably broadens Cuban health service exports and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, the Brazilian health ministry and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) agreed Aug. 21 to contract 4,000 Cuban doctors as a backbone for a fast-expanding medical program in needy regions of Brazil.
**Rock around the Blockade(RATB) is a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group. It defends socialist Cuba and uses its example as part of the struggle for socialism here in Britain. Here we re-post an important article from the website www.ratb.org.uk about a recent block on RATB’s PayPal account as a result of the US blockade of Cuba.**
Rock around the Blockade has fought off an attempt to use the US blockade to obstruct our work in solidarity with socialist Cuba. Without consultation or warning, the US-based company PayPal blocked our website payment account citing ‘possible trade with Cuba’.
RATB uses PayPal to process payments and donations via our website, www.ratb.org.uk. The money goes towards our activities in Britain (political meetings, educational discussions, film showings, street rallies, cultural celebrations and so on). We do not use PayPal to make financial transactions to Cuba (which is anyway impossible because of the US blockade) and the merchandise we sell is not sourced there.
On 26 May 2013 we received an email stating, ‘PayPal’s Compliance Department has reviewed your account and identified activity that may be in violation of United States regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’.
After numerous emails and telephone calls we were able to confirm that this meant there was a ‘potential violation regarding possible trade with Cuba, a country that is sanctioned’. We were told that ‘PayPal can't benefit a sanctioned country or anyone in it.’
Eventually, by providing details of our ‘business model’, the recipients of PayPal accrued funds and a list of our products and services offered via PayPal we were able to get the block on our account lifted.
The fact that the account of RATB, a small not-for-profit solidarity campaign, was blocked before any questions were asked shows how strictly the blockade is enforced and how scared US companies are of violating it. PayPal has recently been clamping down on any activity related to Cuba, for example, in August 2011, shutting down the PayPal account of a British foundation that accepts donations to support students to study medicine in Cuba.(http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/mar/12/paypal-cuban-connection)
Indeed, PayPal has good reason to be scared. Over the past few weeks OFAC has intensified enforcement of the blockade. On June 28, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A, was fined nearly $3 million USD for processing 53 transactions with Cuba between 2004 and 2008.
On July 22, OFAC issued a fine of $5,.2 million to American Express Travel Related Services Company– the fifth and largest fine so far this year. OFAC asserts that the company’s foreign subsidiaries and offices abroad sold 14,487 airline tickets to travel to Cuba from countries other than the US. Both these examples illustrate the extra-territorial nature of the blockade: regulations are routinely applied to prevent Cuba trading with countries around the world, not just the US; in violation of the sovereignty of the rest of the world.
Since 1960 the blockade has cost the Cuban economy an estimated $1 trillion USD. For 21 consecutive years the General assembly of the UN has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the blockade. In the 2012 vote, 188 countries voted for the lifting of the Blockade, with just three(the US,Israel and Palau) voting against and two (the Marshall Islands and Micronesia) abstaining. It is time to end this unjust and overwhelmingly unpopular economic bullying. The Cuban people have the right to chose socialism and to live without fear of the US government punishing them for doing so.
See: US blockade ‘attempted genocide’ from the current issue of FRFI for more details about the history and scope of the US blockade.
Opening the door for Cuba’s pharmaceutical and medical industry to a common market of 70 million people with a GDP of $636 billion, the members of the ALBA bloc officially announced the launch of ALBAmed, a multinational body that includes a regulatory institution and a central registry for pharmaceutical and medical products.
ALBAmed is expected to trigger concerted regional planning for pharmaceutical production and save participating governments — Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua — between 20 and 50 percent in medical purchases, an Ecuadorian foreign ministry official told Spanish news agency efe.
More than three million patients have recovered vision thanks to the Operation Milagro. The second phase will expand the attention to the African peoples without decreasing the number of operations on patients from Latin America and countries of ALBA
Cuba began construction of the third of three biotech plants in West Africa this week, as part of a trilateral program funded by Venezuela to battle malaria in the region.
Ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital of Ghana on Aug. 5, officials of Cuba, Venezuela and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met to discuss feasibility, cost, and investment architecture of the program, ECOWAS said in a press release. Another meeting is planned for Venezuela.
8 August Presna Latina
Hundreds of new doctors graduated in Cuba will return to Bolivia starting this weekend to start offering medical attention in their country's rural areas.
Bolivian director of health services, Ruben Colque said that 780 new physicians, who graduated at the Havana-based Latin American School of Medicine are returning home to first offer an initial land compulsory service in rural areas before they get to their final places of work. The preliminary stage, known as social service, will be coordinated with regional health offices in different departments, Colque said.
Video highlights produced by Cubanos en UK from the successful celebration of the 60th anniversary of the attack on Monaca Barracks which sparked the Cuban revolution in 1953. The event at Bolivar Hall, London, was organised by Rock around the Blockade and Cubanos en UK and supported by the Cuban embassy, along with other Cuban artists in Britain.
In what is a usual democratic practice in Cuba, workers in different economic sectors began debating a new labor code recently proposed to the Cuban Parliament, which the lawmakers forwarded for the workers' consideration before its final approval by the top legislative body.
On Saturday 20 July, Cubans resident in Britain were joined by other supporters of the Cuban Revolution in a vibrant celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the attack on Monaca Barracks which sparked the Cuban revolution in 1953. A diverse audience, from babes to pensioners, packed into Bolivar Hall, the cultural venue of the Venezuelan embassy for an afternoon of cultural entertainment.
The event was organised by Rock around the Blockade and Cubanos en UK and supported by the Cuban embassy, along with other Cuban artists in Britain.
There were free mojitos for the early-comers, kids’ games, face-painting and Cuban-style beef sandwiches. Before the performances, the event was officially opened by Counsellor Alvaro Sanchez, speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan embassy. Next Ricardo Lamas from the Cuban embassy emphasised the importance of the event. A speaker on behalf of Rock around the Blockade emphasised the importance of Cuba’s socialist alternative at a time of class war against the poor here in Britain. Two speakers for Cubanos en UK, said that contrary to the media portrayal, there are many Cubans who emigrate from Cuba to Britain for various reasons and remain as supporters of the revolution and all it has achieved. Their contributions made the event possible.
Cubans are well known to enjoy a good party and this July sees special festivities across the island. On 26 July Cubans will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ill-fated military uprising, led by the young lawyer Fidel Castro which, despite ending in disaster, marked the beginning of the end of the Batista dictatorship. A group of Cuban musicians, artists and photographers living in Britain are bringing the party to London on Saturday 20 July.
In March 1952, Fulgencio Batista carried out a coup, one month before elections were due to be held, to seize control of Cuba for the second time. Fidel Castro, who was among the frustrated electoral candidates, saw the democratic path to change closed and set up a clandestine network of activists to carry out a military uprising. On 26 July 1953, 135 rebels attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba while another 40 hit at the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo. Their plan was to take control of the military installations and distribute armaments to the Cuban people to spark a revolution.