Published on 1 February 2015 in www.revolutionarycommunist.org

cuba-us talk

On 21 and 22 January, Cuba and the US held direct talks about restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The meeting in Havana took place one month after the historic announcements made simultaneously on 17 December 2014 by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro about a thaw in US–Cuban relations. This included a prisoner swap which finally freed the remaining Cuban anti-terrorist agents imprisoned in the US, known as the Cuban 5. This followed 18 months of secret talks facilitated by Canada and the Vatican. The tactical change by the US administration reflects the failure of its Cuba policy, and economic and strategic developments which put competitive pressure on US capitalists who do not benefit from the blockade. Helen Yaffe reports.

Historic announcements: 17 December 2014

President Obama announced three broad policy changes:

  • The restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the re-establishment of a US embassy in Havana and a visit to Cuba by high-ranking officials to initiate talks about these issues. He asserted that the US would raise its differences ‘on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba’.
  • He indicated that the US would consider removing Cuba from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
  • He stated: ‘we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba’, making it easier for people in the US to visit Cuba, authorising financial transactions and easing some trade restrictions.

‘These are the steps I can take as President to change this policy’, Obama stated. He cannot, however, unilaterally end the US blockade of Cuba which is codified in legislation. He made explicit, however, that he considered the US blockade to be a failed policy, and hopes the US Congress will lift the embargo.

It is important to be absolutely clear. Obama is not supporting Cuba’s right to self-determination; to develop its socialist system without interference and sabotage 90 miles from the US shore. He believes that a more effective strategy to destroy Cuban socialism is to distort, seduce and pervert it through what he calls ‘engagement’, by imposing the logic of the capitalist market, social relations and cultural values on Cuba: ‘We will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests … these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach…through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values.’

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Published on 12 February 2015 by Granma

Josefina Vidal

Cristina Escobar.- Cuba and the United States are entering a new stage of diplomatic relations. How can these relations be constructed after so many years of confrontation, and what do the recent talks between the two countries mean? These were the questions posed to Josefina Vidal, Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) Director General for the United States, in an exclusive interview with Cuban television.

Josefina, there are people on the street here in Cuba, and also in the international media saying, or asking, if the United States blockade of Cuba has ended. Is this true?

Josefina Vidal.- No, no, the blockade has not ended; what has happened is that the President of the United States, making use of his executive prerogatives, which he has, announced a series of measures modifying the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. It was within this context that a series of regulations were issued – mandated by him and formulated by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce – to expand travel to Cuba, expand as well allowances for remittances, and permit some commercial transactions, still of a limited nature, in spheres such as telecommunications, for example.

Cristina Escobar.- When can we say that the blockade has ended? What must happen before we can say it has ended?

Josefina Vidal.- Since the blockade was first officially declared in February of 1962, until 1996 when the Helms-Burton law was approved, it was the prerogative of the President; that is, just as President Kennedy had declared the blockade in 1962, a later President could have declared an end to this policy.

In 1996 the Helms-Burton law was approved, which codified the blockade as law, which means it was established that, in the future, the President could not on his own terminate the blockade policy, but rather that it was the United States Congress which had the authority to declare an end to the policy.

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Published on 5 February by Rebelion. A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

internet connection cubaThe nervousness which has gripped the Latin American right after the announcement of the "normalization" of relations between the US and Cuba has sparked a series of demonstrations that astonish because of the impunity with which they distort reality.

An example is Andres Oppenheimer’s Tuesday, February 2 column in La Nacion whose lead says it all:
"The key to freedom in Cuba is access to the Internet".  The journalist, known for his visceral rejection of the whole work of the Cuban Revolution, wonders if "Cuba’s regime will accept US help to expand access to the Internet."

Shortly afterwards he recalled that in his speech on December 17, 2014, Obama said that "Washington will eliminate various regulations that prevent US companies from exporting smartphones, Internet software and other telecommunications equipment; but judging from what I'm told by several visitors who just returned from the island, there are good reasons to be skeptical that the Cuban regime will allow it."

The punch line of his article is anthological: "Washington should focus on the Internet. And if Cuba does not want to talk about it, the US and Latin American countries should denounce the Cuban regime for what it is: a military dictatorship that has already run out of excuses to continue to banning Internet access in the island ".

I prefer not to waste time in refuting the unprecedented characterization of Cuba as a military dictatorship that in a test of Introduction to Political Science would deserve the immediate flunking of the student who dared to express such a notion (which is not the same as an idea, more respect for Hegel, please!). Oppenheimer is not one of those rabid fanatics who swarm in American television, serial violators of the most basic rules of journalism. But the nervousness and despair that has gripped the increasingly small and lacking prestige of the anti-Castro groups in Miami must have infected him and driven him to write a note full of falsehoods. I will just mention three.

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Published on 16 December by Granma Internacional

solarpanel

Pinar del Rio solar farm set to be integrated into the National Electric System (SEN)

The panels set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN).

According to scientist, Efren Marcos Espinosa, investment specialist at the Pinar del Rio electric company, a total of about 4,000 photovoltaic modules have been installed, manufactured in the own province, with a peak output of 250 Watts (Wp) each.

The official noted that the farm is located in an area known as Cayo Cana, in the municipality of Pinar del Río, where work is continuing in order to reach three MW at a later stage.

He added that the foundations required to reach that figure are virtually complete and that a great deal of the metal structures responsible for supporting the panels that will complete the farm have also been installed.

He highlighted that the new facility is the first step in the province aimed at diversifying energy sources, in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In this regard, he stressed that the electricity generated through solar energy produced by the 4,000 already installed panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Given this reality, he noted that the company is currently working on engineering and geological studies aimed at identifying other areas suitable for the construction of further solar farms in Vueltabajo.

 

Published on 28 January 2015 by counterpunch

cuban-flag

“I do not expect the changes I am announcing today to bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight.”

— Barack Obama, Dec. 17, 2014

President Obama’s Dec. 17 statement announcing changes in U.S. Cuba policy was a mixture of historical truths and catch phrases drawn from the catalog of myths about Cuba and U.S. policy goals.

The first round of rule changes, announced by Jan. 16 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), was significant in the areas of trade and banking. At the same time, much of the language is drawn from the old justifications for regime change. (Let us put aside the hypocrisies in Obama’s speech such as the instruction — coming from a country where labor unions have been systematically destroyed — that “Cuban workers should be free to form unions.”)

In his speech, Obama reworked Einstein’s famous definition of insanity to support his partial abandonment of the half-century attempts to destroy the Cuban revolution. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result,” said Obama. (If he means that the policy he has supported for six years is insane, what does that say about him?)

Nowhere in the speech did Obama renounce the longstanding U.S. commitment to regime change in Cuba or even acknowledge that it ever existed. While implicitly recognizing that the use of sanctions to achieve political results had failed, he continues to pursue them in Korea, Russia and elsewhere. One day after making the Cuba speech, he signed a bill imposing sanctions on Venezuela alleging that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had violated the human rights of protestors during violent anti-government demonstrations last February. The demonstrations were led by right-wing representatives of the Venezuelan elite who have long been backed by the United States.

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Published on 18 January by www.letcubalive.org Source: http://www.mujerfariana.org/index.php/heroinas/241-leonela-relys-laincansable-educadora Translated by Tom Whitney

Leonela Relys

“Death is not true when one has fulfilled life's work in all respects.” -- José Martí

Leonela Relys died on January 17, 2015. She created the Cuban method of literacy teaching known as “Yes I can” (Yo, si puedo). It’s the means by which millions of people in various parts of the world keep on learning how to read and write. Letters have allowed men and women to understand their rights as citizens, or simply – but no less important –to read a story, a poem, or know how to sign something. With pencils they see those names bursting forth that other people use to identify us.

She was born in Camagüey on April 20 1947 and lived many years in Havana where she did much of her work as a teacher. A militant of the Communist Party of Cuba, she was tireless in defending the achievements of the Cuban revolution. As either teacher or professor, one of her ways to do it was to pass on her academic knowledge and her moral and revolutionary principles to each compatriot, to each Latin American

At 14 years of age she became a [volunteer] literacy teacher in the campaign asked for by Fidel to fill various corners of Cuba's geography with letters, learning, and knowledge. Responding much later to another call from Fidel, she went to the land of Petión to coordinate literacy teaching for the Haitian people. Haitians received not only Leonela’s wisdom but also her friendship and love. After this experience, Fidel sent her to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and later to Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, and Seville in Spain. In all these places, she set up her program.

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Published on 23 January 2015 by Houston Communist Party

cuba flags

Hypocrisy or diplomacy

Certainly all rational people understand that the current negotiations between Cuba and the USA are complex and progress will not be smooth. One way to smooth the negotiations would be to remove the element of hypocrisy constantly being hammered by the US negotiators. One impediment to progress is the demand by the US for Cuba to improve their stance on “human rights.” The US negotiators should consider this biblical passage before making demands on Cuba:

John 8:7

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sinamong you be the first to throw a stone at her.” They also might want to consider this old saying “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

The US negotiators have reached the apex of hypocrisy when they demand that Cuba improve its human rights record. Cuba has never unleashed nuclear weapons on foreign or domestic metropolises such as the US did to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Cuba has never firebombed a city such as was done to Dresden, Germany. Cuba has never bombed foreign countries throughout the world such as the US has done in Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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Published on 6 January 2015 by Prensa Latina

Gerardobaby

Gema Hernández, daughter of one of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez and his wife Adriana Perez, was born here today, surrounded by relatives and common people who received the news with great joy.

Gema, born with a little over seven pounds, through caesarean surgery and both she and her mother Adriana Perez O’Connor are reported in good health, reported the midday National TV Newsreel.

Recently, Gerardo had joked, as is his nature, "the emotion is grat and everyone is asking, while we have a lot of fun with all the gossip and speculation."

"The truth is that it has been in silence, without much details we had to do it by remote control, but there it is and all went well which is most important"

Gerardo explained that Adriana wanted to name her Gema, meaning precious stone, because if it was a boy I wanted to name him Gerardo and the closest name to Gerardo is Gema.

Gema’s father returned to Cuba last December 17, together with Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino, the three Cuban fighters who were still serving unjust sentences in United States prisons.

The Five, arrested in 1998, included Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, who had returned to Cuba months before, after wholly serving their sentences.

The Cuban Five were wrongly accused for informing their country of terrorist actions planned by violent groups based in U.S. territory in Florida.

Published on 2 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
 
cienfuegos
The central province of Cienfuegos, Cuba, ended 2014 with a rate of infant mortality of three deaths per thousand live births, the lowest in the country and in the world, local health authorities reported Friday.

“The quality of medical care for the children, teenagers and pregnant women is the only way to make this result sustainable,” emphasized Dr. Maritza Rodriguez Gabin, Vice-President of the Provincial Board of Health.

The province also holds the highest rates of blood, organs and transplant tissues donations of the country, Gabin boasted.

Over 2,000 health specialists from Cienfuegos collaborate in international missions in 35 countries of the world, including many stationed in West Africa to fight against the spread of the Ebola virus.

Cuban health professionals abroad provide medical training, contribute to clinical tests, like the vaccines against cholera and the pneumococcal disease.

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