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.
"These policies defy reason: there are dozens of countries we call our allies and we are free to travel to that present much worse threats and concerns to the US than Cuba does in this decade. ", said the President of Google, Eric Schmidt in an article he posted on his personal website about his recent visit to the island.
During the trip Schmidt was accompanied by Google directives Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter and Dan Keyserling.
In his article he included several pictures he took in Havana and said that "the Cuban people, modern and very well educated define the experience with a warmth that only Latin cultures express: tremendous music, food and entertainment (most of which we were not able to sample, more about that visa in a minute.)"
"The two most successful parts of the Revolution, as they call it, is the universal health care free for all citizens with very good doctors, and the clear majority of women in the executive and managerial ranks in the country. Almost all the leaders we met with were female, and one joked with us that the Revolution promised equality, the macho men didn't like it but "they got used to it", with a broad smile," Schmidt noted.
Cuban doctors at the Jose Marti Eye Hospital in Montevideo, Uruguay, have administered 50,000 surgeries as part of the program known as Operation Miracle.
Sixto Amaro, a directive with the Social Prevention Bank, told reporters that the achievement will be publicly acknowledged next week and that Operation Miracle has allowed a saving of 100 million dollars in seven years.
The health program has been implemented in Uruguay since 2005 following a bilateral accord between Havana and Montevideo, said Amaro and added that out of the 50,000 eye surgeries, 38 were done on cataracts, which benefited retired persons.
The rest of the surgeries were administered on other eye conditions, PL news agency reported on Wednesday from the Uruguayan capital. Sources at the hospital said that over 70,000 patients are assisted at the center every year, with an average 250 consultations a day and more than 4,000 a month
News from the AP about the U.S. government’s secret project to create a Cuban Twitter or “ZunZuneo,” to be used for disseminating propaganda and fomenting unrest in Cuba, spurring young people in that country to overthrow their government, comes as no surprise to anyone with even the most cursory understanding of U.S. policy in Cuba and Latin America in general. It is but a tiny part of a 55-year-old, completely unprovoked, genocidal policy against a nation whose only offense is failing to subordinate itself to the will of the U.S. government.
ZunZuneo was initiated and run by the ostensibly “humanitarian” U.S. Agency for International Development through a series of shell corporations which were not supposed to be traced back to the government. The project is typical of the type of subversion and interference with another nation that the U.S. government has always felt entitled to undertake, regardless of the principles of sovereignty and self-determination fundamental to international law.
Due to Cuba’s successful revolution in 1959 and their ongoing ability to resist U.S. subversion of their socioeconomic system, U.S. actions against the tiny nation in the Carribean have been harsher than any other victim who fails to recognize the U.S. as its rightful master. Early destabilization efforts included a vicious campaign of terrorism against Cuba, part of a massive CIA effort that later evolved into a policy of providing safe haven to terrorist exile groups and looking the other way as they violate the U.S. Neutrality Act and international law.
Cuba's rehabilitation services are present in 36 nations, informed on Thursday Maritza Leyva, head of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program of the island's Public Health Ministry.
While addressing participants in the opening of the 1 st Workshop on Medical Equipment, as part of the International Convention of Cuban Industry (Cubaindustria -2014), Leyva pointed out that working in these nations are physicians, physical therapists and highly qualified technicians, while in many places there are only promoters.
Various specialties, such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, logopedics, defectology, podiatry, occupational therapy, natural and traditional medicine and physical education are incorporated to contribute to the rehabilitation of disabled persons, specified Leyva.
New Cuban equipment made by the country's medical industry were presented during the workshop.
Argentina is facing the potential of a new financial crisis after it defied legal attempts to force it to repay US$1.33 billion in debt owed to the so-called “vulture” funds that have pursued the country for more than a decade. Over the weekend the Argentine government proceeded with a $US539 million payment to creditors that had agreed to restructured debt terms following the country’s 2002 default.
But it has ignored a US Supreme Court order to pay out a group of mainly New York-based “hold out” hedge funds. These had refused the country’s restructured terms and are demanding a payment of $1.33 billion. US Supreme Court Judge Thomas Griesa described Argentina’s payment to the restructured debt holders as illegal and “explosive”, ordering the Bank of New York Mellon to return the money to Argentina. The judge has pleaded with Argentine authorities to negotiate with the hedge funds to avoid a technical default. Argentina argues that paying both classes of creditor would also cause it to default.
A brief history of debt
The Cuban people and government pay tribute today to Reserve Army Corps General Sixto Batista Santana, who passed away Sunday in Havana from a painful disease.
According to Granma newspaper, the remains of the outstanding revolutionary will be buried at the Veterans' Pantheon in the Colon Cemetery.
Batista Santana was born March 28, 1932 to a poor family in the western province of Santiago de Cuba. He joined the Rebel Army headed by Fidel Castro at a very young age and he assumed different responsibilities during the revolution, such as Chief of the Political Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Coordinator of the Revolution's Defense Committee.
Batista was a founding member of the Cuban Communist Party's Central Committee and he was also member of the Cuban Council of State.
The Bacardi Corporation has launched a new deep saturation advertising campaign, with vibrant videos and colourful images. The adverts brandish the Cuban flag, with slogans such as ‘we survived exile from our own country’ and ‘we thrived during Prohibition’. Bacardi, the richest family-owned business in the world, has an army of lawyers and marketing and public relations professionals to clean up their murky past and obscure their right-wing agenda. Scratch the surface, however, and the truth is there.
Bacardi began leaving Cuba long before the revolution, back in 1910 when they moved their bottling to Barcelona, Spain. Later in the 1930s they opened facilities in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Bacardi boasts about how they benefited from the abuse of Cuba as a colonial playground for wealthy Americans during the Prohibition years. However, they also claim that their assets were ‘illegally confiscated without compensation’ by the Cuban government in 1960. In fact, they were offered compensation by the revolutionary government, a sum based on the value of the assets they had themselves declared for tax payment purposes. Pepin Bosch, head of Bacardi at the time of the Cuban Revolution, a man referred to as ‘the saviour’ on Bacardi’s website, was linked to the CIA and exiles groups actively involved in attacking revolutionary Cuba.
Later, he and other members of the Bacardi family helped set up the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Membership was initially granted to Cuban exiles whose businesses were worth more than $50,000 when they were nationalised by the Cuban government. This exclusive club used their wealth to buy power, cultivating the support of influential right-wing US senators. The fruit of this partnership was the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, which penalises any country trading with Cuba. Even the European Union questioned the legality of the Act, but CANF lawyers fought off every objection.
In April and May 2014, news about two US-based attacks on Cuba hit international headlines, demonstrating that as the capitalist crisis intensifies, imperialist attempts to destabilise the popular and revolutionary government of socialist Cuba continue. Louise Gartrel reports.
On 3 April, following a thorough investigation, Associated Press (AP) exposed a US government-funded covert programme to develop a social media network in Cuba as a tool to promote an uprising against the government. The mobile phone network was called ‘Zunzuneo’, which is Cuban slang for the hummingbird’s ‘tweet’; hence this project was referred to as the Cuban ‘twitter’. Then on 7 May, the Cuban government announced that four Cuban exiles from Miami had been arrested on 26 April on entering the country with the intention of carrying out terrorist actions against military installations. As living conditions worsen for the majority in the capitalist countries, and as repression, racism and exploitation increases, Cuba represents a viable alternative which threatens the rotten neoliberal system. This has provided the impetus to ratchet up attacks on Cuba.