The world's most famous "secret annex" is tucked behind a bookcase where 13-year-old Anne Frank hid out during the Nazi occupation.
Lesser known is the secret annex to a report describing the U.S. government's Cuba strategy in the post-Castro era.
We are happy to report that president Hugo Chavez has today returned to Venezuela following his surgery in Cuba. We publish below a letter from Fidel Castro and send our solidarity wishes for his continued recovery.
I am extremely satisfied that you have been able to return to that piece of American land which you love so much, and to our brother people who support you so much.
A long and agonising wait, as well as your astonishing capacity for physical resistance and the total dedication of a team of doctors, as has been the case over the last 10 years, were necessary to achieve this objective.
It would be totally unfair not to mention the insurmountable dedication of your closest family members, your colleagues in the revolutionary leadership, the Bolivarian Armed Forces, who were re-armed and re-equipped by you, and the honest people of the world who have shown their support.
First published on 4 Feburary 2013 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
On 7 December 2012 a 5-month consultation about a proposed highway to be built through Bolivia’s Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) came to an end. Of the territory’s 69 indigenous communities, 55 approved the highway, three communities rejected the proposal and 11 refused to participate in the consultation.
TIPNIS is an area of more than 1 million hectares of forest in the centre of Bolivia. It is home to 12,000 people living in 69 separate communities. In 2009 Evo Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government designated it ‘indigenous territory’.
The proposed highway will cross north-south through TIPNIS for 32 miles of its 182-mile route. It will be the first paved road linking northwest Bolivia with the economic centre, Santa Cruz. It will mean greater access to health and education for the TIPNIS population and reduced barriers to economic development. In particular it will undermine the monopoly of Santa Cruz-based businesses in terms of access to processing goods and distributing them to the rest of the country. It is no coincidence that the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), which supported protests against the highway, has strong links with the right-wing governor of Santa Cruz and signed an agreement guaranteeing CIDOB a place on the governership.
First published on www.politicker.com
Rising Republican star and Florida Senator Marco Rubio might have made up a dramatic story about his family immigrating to the U.S. to flee Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Documents indicate Mr. Rubio fabricated a compelling personal narrative to go with the other unique qualities that have earned him status as a top potential White House contender and prime Vice Presidential pick..
Documents obtained by the Washington Post show Mr. Rubio’s parents arrived in the United States on May 27, 1956. At the time, Mr. Castro was in Mexico plotting his revolutionary return to Cuba. Mr. Rubio has always said his parents arrived here after escaping Mr. Castro’s Communist revolution that took place in 1959. As the Washington Post notes, “the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site … says that Mario and Oriales Rubio ‘came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.’” Mr. Rubio has often referred to the story of his parent’s departure from Cuba in speeches.
First published 11 February 2013 the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five
The Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has initiated several requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking access to records that may show (1) what the U.S. Government knew about the likelihood for a confrontation between Cuba and Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) planes that were routinely taking off from Florida after filing false flight plans and penetrating Cuban airspace in 1995-96, and (2) what the U.S. Government could have done to prevent the February 24, 1996 incident in which a Cuban MiG shot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes that had illegally penetrated Cuban airspace.
This interview was conducted on February 8, 2013 by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 with Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and lead counsel in the FOIA cases.
www.peoplesworld.org 23 January 2013
Continuing with U.S. efforts to undermine Cuba's government from within, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2008 contracted with Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) of Maryland to send Alan Gross to Cuba.
Now in prison there with a 15-year sentence for espionage-type actions, Gross is widely viewed as the ideal candidate for an exchange that would return four Cuban anti-terrorists jailed in the United States to their homes. They, the "Cuban Five," include the paroled Rene Gonzalez.
In court proceedings January 15, DAI introduced documents outlining USAID objectives and describing Alan Gross's activities during five trips to Cuba between late 2008 and December 3, 2009, when he was arrested. The company seeks dismissal of Alan and wife Judy Gross' lawsuit alleging that DAI and USAID failed in preparing Alan Gross for dangers a foreign agent would face in Cuba.
In 2001 Gerardo Hernandez was condemned to two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to commit murder for the shooting down of two planes of Brothers to the Rescue. Gerardo had nothing to do with the shooting down of these planes on February 24, 1996 and the U.S. Government could present no evidence to the contrary. That was a decision of the Cuban Government in defense of its sovereignty after 26 violations of Cuba's airspace by this group.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters joined the international media campaign of solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, echoing the Venezuelan people who came out in their tens of thousands to proudly declare 'I am Chavez, Chavez is the people!'
First published on 12 January 2013 on www.vivavenezuela.co.uk
For fifteen years, since Hugo Chavez’s first presidential election in 1998, we have been witness to a popular struggle in Venezuela for political and economic power by working class people which has withstood every attempt by imperialism and its local allies to destroy it.
The Bolivarian Revolution and its leader have given hope to hundreds of millions of people in Latin America and have inspired movements throughout the continent and indeed throughout the world. With the support of Cuba and other countries in ALBA Venezuela has put the US completely on the back foot: no longer can it treat Latin America as its back yard. Such developments should be celebrated by every socialist wherever they are.
Yet throughout this time, the SWP has repeatedly attacked the Bolivarian Revolution and denigrated President Chavez. The latest issue of Socialist Worker (12 January 2013) continues in this reactionary vein, joining the international ‘campaign of psychological warfare’ denounced by the Venezuelan government (see our blog).
In an article which expresses no sympathy for the Venezuelan people let alone for Chavez, Dave Sewell parrots standard media views about the emergence of a leadership ‘crisis’ in the country with Chavez unable to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony on 10 January.
Sewell then succinctly summarises the SWP’s contempt for Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Damning the president with faint praise, Sewell admits that ‘at points he took radical measures’ such as placing the oil industry under direct state control and using the money to fund social programmes, and grudgingly concedes that as result, Chavez ‘became very popular with the workers and poor people.’
Yet it is his use of the past tense that is so revealing. Is Chavez no longer popular? Are we wrong to think that he won the presidential election with a landslide? It is in fact a sleight of hand, necessary because the SWP does not think that anything of historical significance has happened in Venezuela over the last 15 years, and whatever has happened is now dead. Thus, according to Sewell, although the masses rallied to Chavez during the 2002 coup and the bosses’ strike, ‘at the same time a new elite was emerging. This bureaucracy slowly stifled mass struggles.’ And there you have it. The mass struggles were choked, the new elite is in power. There is no more revolution. Now, Sewell says, ‘Venezuela will face a choice between a power struggle at the top, or a mass movement from below that could build a new kind of society.’ It is either one or the other because, as Sewell says, ‘the power of the state [has become] concentrated in Chavez himself.’ Chavez is just an elected dictator.
There is nothing new in what Sewell is saying. Back in 2002, just after the defeat of the coup, SWP leader Chris Harman had already doomed Chavez:
‘[Chavez] top-down approach has also led him to attack the wages and conditions of employed workers, even while talking about help to the unemployed, the semi-employed and the rural poor. It was this that enabled union leader Alfredo Ramos to back the employers' shutdown of industry. In this way, Chavez's own policies played into the hands of those who wanted to overthrow him.'
Ramos backed the bosses’ strike because he was a corrupt reactionary in the pocket of the ruling class. And the fiction, propagated at the time by the ruling class and avidly picked up by the SWP, that Chavez was attacking the workers has been disproved by the massive and thoroughly documented social gains made by the working class and oppressed before and since. Not that you would know the details from Socialist Worker.
Yes, Mike Gonzalez, another SWP leader, had to admit in October 2012 that Chavez’s third presidential victory was due to social programmes bringing ‘real improvements to Venezuela’s poor – local health programmes, free education, limited social housing, cheap food.’ But isn’t this part of what socialism should be? This praise is mealy-mouthed: ‘limited’ social housing is in reality, 250,000 units built between April 2011 and October 2012, and a further three million planned by 2019.
House building on such a scale today would require a revolution in Britain let alone in Venezuela. But even then Gonzalez has to get a further dig in, claiming (without any evidence) that ‘these services are deteriorating, largely because of deep and widespread corruption in the Venezuelan state.’ Every phrase discloses contempt for the revolution.
The SWP has never wanted to engage with what is happening on the ground in Venezuela. Their statements are fundamentally ignorant. Gonzalez tells us that the ‘immediate’ question is ‘the need to rebuild organisations on the ground that will be able to act independently of their rulers, whoever they are.’
This sounds radical – but then what are the communal councils and the factory councils that have sprung up across the country as part and parcel of the Bolivarian Revolution? These organisations exist and are multiplying – they do not have to be ‘rebuilt’. But both Gonzalez and Sewell do not want us to see them so they censor their existence.
At first sight there is a stark contrast between the SWP’s critique of the Bolivarian Revolution and its fawning attitude towards the Labour Party in Britain. But they are two sides of the same reactionary coin. Has anyone heard or read the SWP attacking Jeremy Corbyn or John MacDonnell for their continued membership of a racist, imperialist war-mongering party and all the compromises that entails? Or Tony Benn?
The SWP never places any demands or conditions on Labour politicians or councillors; indeed it would regard this as sectarianism and prefers toadying instead. What sort of socialist organisation is it that could support Ken Livingstone in the 2012 London mayoral election? Or Labour in the 2010 General Election? The SWP demands so little of itself and its allies, but so much of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.
Yes there is a crisis in Venezuela. A revolution is made up of a succession of crises. What matters is the outcome of each – does the process move forward, are the revolutionary forces strengthened? Or do they face a set-back requiring a new approach? We are confident that with or without Huge Chavez, the Bolivarian Revolution will move forward. But the SWP has to want the revolution to fail to prove its political point.
We cannot mince words. The position of the SWP on the Bolivarian Revolution is thoroughly reactionary and chauvinist. It has no concept of a real struggle for socialism with all its problems and vicissitudes: instead it serves up a cocktail of idealist schema laced with borrowings from the imperialist media. Its position on the Labour Party is based on the same adaptation to imperialism. We have argued for a long time that it is impossible to remain a socialist and be a member of the Labour Party. Now we have to ask: how is it possible to be a socialist and remain in the SWP?
For more on the SWP and Venezuela see a review of a pamphlet by Joseph Choonara:
And on the SWP’s support for the Labour Party see: www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/labourtrade-unions/1668-swp-tells-us-to-vote-for-imperialism-war-racism-and-repression
First published on 6 January 2013 on www.vivavenezuela.co.uk As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remains seriously ill in hospital in Cuba, following complicated surgery for cancer, the vultures of reaction are circling. Counter-revolutionary forces within Venezuela and their backers in the US, UK and Europe are conducting what National Assembly President and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader Diosdado Cabello has described as ‘a psychological campaign of media warfare’ in an attempt to foment the destabilisation of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Despite a clear statement from Venezuela’s vice-president Nicolas Maduro, who recently visited Chavez in Cuba, that the president, although in a very delicate and serious condition, is walking and talking and indeed keen to discuss politics and the economy, Venezuela’s privately-owned newspapers and the international media have consistently exaggerated rumours of Chavez’s condition and accused the president of lying about his illness. They have also attempted to whip up uncertainty about what will happen if, as seems likely, Chavez is not well enough to travel back to Caracas in time to be sworn in for his fourth term as president on 10 January. Some leaders of the opposition group Mesa de Unidad Democratica are demanding that fresh presidential elections be held immediately.
In reality, as the governing party has made clear, Article 231 of the constitution provides for the swearing-in to be held before the Supreme Court at a later date.
But the big lie perpetrated by the bourgeois press is, as ever, that without Hugo Chavez there can be no Bolivarian Revolution – that it lives or dies with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite Chavez’s definitive victory in the October Presidential elections and the mass popular support and admiration he enjoys as the living embodiment of the aspirations of the Venezuelan people, the Bolivarian Revolution has never been about just one man. It is a revolution being built from below, by the conscious organisation of the Venezuelan working class to transform society from one of neoliberal exploitation, hunger, sickness and poverty for the majority, to one built on the model of collective, socialist organisation and production. In the last ten years, Venezuela has achieved the lowest levels of inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient of any country in the region; it has wiped out illiteracy, brought infant mortality down from 25 per 1,000 to 13 per 1,000 live births, slashed levels of extreme poverty, provided free health care and education for all, built hundreds of thousands of units of social housing and ensured that – unlike in Britain – no child goes to school hungry in the morning.
The Venezuelan people will not allow these vital gains to be lost. The tremendous popularity of the governing PSUV was demonstrated again in December’s regional elections, where the party won 20 out of 23 states. On Saturday, the National Assembly will convene for its 2013 session and members of the new executive, chosen by Chavez immediately after the October elections, will take their seats, led by vice-president Nicolas Maduro. They will implement the Programa Patria manifesto on which Chavez was elected – step by step, task by task, with the Venezuelan people, ‘developing socialism beyond the point of no return’. Our task here is to combat the lies of the imperialist press and build solidarity with that process.
The RCG sends it solidarity greetings to Comrade President Hugo Chavez and wishes him a full recovery from his long and painful illness. Comandante, we salute you.
Bolivia nationalized two electricity distribution companies owned by Spanish utility Iberdrola on 29 December 2012, the latest move by leftist President Evo Morales to assert control over the country's resources.
First published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
The new migration laws to be enacted on 14 January 2013 present a challenge to US imperialism and should bring political and economic benefits to Cuba. Announced in October 2012, the legislation removes the requirement of an exit visa, known as a ‘white card’, and letter of invitation for Cubans planning to travel overseas, and extends the period for which Cubans may stay overseas without losing citizenship rights. The measures also facilitate the return to Cuba, either permanently or for visits, of Cubans currently living overseas, including those who left illegally or who abandoned internationalist missions. HELEN YAFFE reports.
First published in Granma Written by Hugo Moldoz Bolivian Journalist
Evo Morales hit the nail on the head. The President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, asserted that dominating the world scene today are two counter-posed forces: imperialism’s offensive to re-colonize the world, on the one hand, and, on the other, the rebellion of peoples and states seeking their full independence, or at least greater autonomy.
The words of Bolivia’s, and Latin America’s, first indigenous president left no stones unturned. Evo spoke in a measured tone and in the few minutes he stood before other presidents from around the world, he cited concrete historical examples. He insisted on the nefarious role being played on a world scale by imperialism, led by the United States, with the complicity of the United Nations.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Venezuela have agreed and begun to implement measures to execute their 2009 memorandum of understanding (MOU) towards the elimination of malaria in West Africa. Under the MOU, which was signed during a first high-level ministerial visit to Venezuela, the country agreed to provide 20 million U.S. dollars to support an ECOWAS vector control program of malaria elimination through biolarvidicing. Biolarvicides are sprayed on the habitats of mosquitoes to eliminate their larvae, one of the stages in the evolution of mosquitoes. ECOWAS and the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday, 1st December 2012, signed the Work Plan for the implementation of a 2009 Letter of Intent between them for the elimination of Malaria in West Africa.The Agreement was initialled by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desiré Ouedraogo, and the Venezuelan Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Africa, Reinaldo Bolivar on the sidelines of the 69th Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.
From Granma, November 2, 2012
THE U.S. Interests Section in Havana continues to function as the general staff in charge of implementing the government's policy of subversion toward Cuba, which has as one of its principal goals the fabrication of an opposition movement challenging the legitimate Cuban government and fomenting internal destabilization, in order to provoke a 'regime change' in the country.
As the U.S. tries to recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our shores, Cuba is facing an immense humanitarian tragedy, with long-term implications for its economy, food security, and its future.
Sandy hit Cuba last Thursday, October 25th, staggering the Eastern side of the island with the knock-out punch of a Category 2 hurricane. Winds gusted in excess of 108 miles per hour. According to preliminary estimates, the storm killed 11 Cubans and caused more than $2 billion in losses.
On Saturday 15 September, Rock around the Blockade activists took to streets in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow to mark 14 years of unjust incarceration of the Cuban 5 in the US and to demand their release.
Rallies in each city publicised the case of these five anti-terrorist heroes who are being held as political prisoners for simply trying to defend Cuba from terrorist attacks that were being planned from within the US.
Speeches at the rallies highlighted the example of Cuba’s Revolution, which shows that there is an alternative to the poverty, war and environmental destruction of today’s imperialist-dominated world. The persecution of the Five is just part of a continual campaign to destroy the revolution and wipe out this alternative.
One of the Cuban Five, Fernando Gonzalez had written to Rock around the Blockade from gaol in the US to support the day of action. His words were read out at the rallies: ‘As you get together today to show your commitment to the struggle for our release from prison, we express our gratitude to all of you as well as our decision to withstand any circumstances and remain in the fight for justice for as long as it takes to achieve it.’
Regretfully we are cancelling the Rock around the Blockade (RATB) meeting, ‘Free the Cuban 5: The Struggle Continues’, which was due to take place at Bolivar Hall in London on Saturday 15 September.
Instead we will be holding a demonstration for the Cuban 5 on the same day, to mark 14 years of their unjust imprisonment (see below for details).
The reason for the cancellation is that our guest speaker, Cuban activist Lázaro Oramas, was unable to get a visa from the British consulate before the date of the meeting. Other invited speakers were also unable to attend for various reasons.
Instead of the meeting we will be marking 14 years of unjust imprisonment for the Cuban 5 with a street rally in Angel, North London on the same day. We hope that you can join us to raise the profile of the case and demand justice for the Five.
Street Rally for the Cuban Five
Saturday 15 September
1 – 3pm
Outside Angel tube station, North London