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.
The Cuban government strongly rejected on Saturday the blacklisting of the island by the US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
The Cuban government strongly rejected on Saturday the blacklisting of the island by the US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report by calling it a groundless unilateral practice and an offence against the Cuban people.
A statement issued by the general director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s United States Division, Josefina Vidal, reads that on June 20, the US Department of State decided to again include Cuba on the worst category of its annual report on countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and that do not make significant efforts to do so.
Washington took the decision disregarding the high recognition and prestige of Cuba for its outstanding role in the protection of its children, youths and women.
The statement reads that Cuba has not asked any evaluation from the United States nor it needs any recommendations from that country, which is facing some of the worst problems related to the trafficking in children and women around the world.
The United States has no moral to certify Cuba or to suggest any kind of plans when, according to estimates, nearly 200 thousand US citizens are victims of trafficking inside the US territory, where labor exploitation is the most expanded modality of trafficking in persons with 85 percent of legal processes on the issue are related to sexual exploitation and with over 300 thousand children, out of one million who leave their homes, are subject to some kind of exploitation, the statements notes.
The Government of Cuba strongly rejects the unilateral US practice, for considering it groundless and an offence against the Cuban people, reads the statement and adds that the inclusion of Cuba on the US list is due to political interests, as it is the certification of the island as a state sponsor of international terrorism, which is a pretext to justify the financial sanctions imposed and increasing stiffened by the US government against Cuba, thus severely affecting Cuban children, youths, women and all the people, concludes the statement issued by the general director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s United States Division.
Haiti opened on June 11 its third community hospital with the support of Cuba and Brazil, after the earthquake that hit the nation in January 2010.The medical facility was inaugurated by President Michel Martelly at the Carrefour neighborhood, west of the capital Port au Prince and it will benefit a population of more than 60 thousand, according to PL news agency. Martelly stressed the importance of Cuban cooperation in the health sector and in other areas, such as education, fishing, construction and agriculture. Meanwhile, Cuban ambassador to Haiti, Ricardo Garcia, said that the facility, in which Cuban medical specialists will also work, will contribute to the strengthening and reconstruction of the Haitian health system in order to improve the people’s quality of life
Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patiño said in Quito that without Cuba's full participation there will be no Summit of the Americas in Panama next year.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the foreign minister said that there is regional consensus on the Cuba issue as was evidenced at the recent meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), held in the Galapagos Islands and at the Forum of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Paraguay.
Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa recently stated that his country will not go to the Panama Summit of the Americas if Cuba is not there.
It is unacceptable holding a Summit of the Americas without Cuba, as it is also unacceptable the existence of the Organization of American States without Cuba, and Latin America cannot tolerate this situation, said Correa.
Ecuador did not attend the 2013 Summit of the Americas in protest against Cuba's absence.
A scandalous video with false images of Cuba was presented by the NGO UN Watch during the so-called VI Summit for Human Rights and Democracy held in the International Conference Centre of Geneva, Switzerland.
The video is part of the ongoing campaign of UN Watch, an NGO known as "The Trojan Horse" of the CIA in Geneva, aimed at achieving that countries such as Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia, stop being members of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
During its presentation at the Summit, the UN Watch NGO, through its director Hillel Neuer, showed false images of Cuba where riot police officers appear beating some supposed Cuban young persons who are seated on the street shirtless.
Next they publish some images of about twenty of the so-called Ladies in White, women paid by the United States who were marching peacefully down a street of Havana and mix them with another group of women who have nothing to do with the Ladies in White.
Not a single police officer or a single image of repression presented by UN Watch corresponds to Cuba. Every person having lived of visited the Island knows very well that those images do not correspond to the Caribbean country. Cuban police officers wear neither those uniforms, helmets, nor those riot shields...
We must break the blockade of information. There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about Cuba throughout the world. They are very powerful and able confuse the international public; Cuba is not immune to that. It is because of the blockade of information that the work that RATB does is so important. ' Osmani Castro, Provincial Assembly Delegate
The US is collaborating with other imperialist countries to further tighten the economic blockade of Cuba; despite the opposition this is provoking in the region. On 25th October 2011, for the 20th consecutive time, the UN General Assembly voted 186-2 to end the blockade. The only country to support the US was Israel, which continues its own genocidal blockade of the Gaza strip. At the Bolivarian Alliance for the Latin Americas (ALBA) summit February 2012, a declaration was made against the blockade and Cuba's exclusion from the US-dominated OAS (Organisation of American States). When the OAS meeting came about in April, Rafael Correa of Ecuador boycotted the meeting in protest; leader after leader spoke out in opposition to the US veto of Cuba's presence. ALBA countries, and other leaders made it clear that without a radical change in the nature and structure of the summits, they would not attend again. Even arch-reactionary Pope Benedict XVI on his recent visit to Cuba criticised the: 'restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country' which 'unfairly burden the people.' With worldwide condemnation of imperialism's blockade, what does it mean for people on the ground in Cuba? The 'Justice for the Cuban 5' solidarity brigade visited Cuba this February, finding a country defiant and united in the face of this imperialist aggression.
Yoani Sánchez, a famous blogger in Havana, Cuba, is a character peculiar to the world of Cuban dissidents. No opponent has ever benefited from such massive media exposure and international recognition of such a scale in so little time. After emigrating to Switzerland in 2002, she returned to Cuba two years later, in 2004. In 2007, she joined the world of the Cuban opposition and created her blog ‘Generation Y’ becoming a staunch critic of the government. Never has any dissident in Cuba, or perhaps in the world, achieved so many international awards in such a short time, and all with a particular characteristic: Yoani Sánchez has been provided with enough money to live quietly in Cuba for the rest of her life. Indeed, the blogger has been paid up to 250 000 euros in total, or an amount equivalent to more than 20 years of the minimum wage in a country like France, the fifth world power. The minimum monthly wage in Cuba is 420 pesos, or 18 dollars or 14 euros, so that Yoani Sánchez has won the equivalent of 1,488 years of Cuban minimum wage for her opposition activities.