Published on 28 January by Manuel E. Yepe. A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It seems that some major media in the United States, so tightly controlled by the powers of the "Establishment", have timidly begun to tell the truth about somesensitive issues regarding relations with Cuba prior to December 17, 2014.
Thus, under the title "The real story behind the work of Alan Gross in Cuba, "JohnStoehr, editor of The Washington Spectator and contributor to The Hill ofWashington, DC, offers a version different from the official –and the only one USreaders had– about the activities of the US agent which prompted his arrest,conviction and imprisonment in Cuba.
“If you didn’t know anything about Alan Gross other than what you saw on television, you probably thought it was appropriate for him to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama as a guest of honor at this year’s State of the Union address,” said Stoehr .
Of Gross it was only said that he was a humanitarian activist unjustly jailed in 2009 by a repressive Communist regime for the alleged crime of promoting internet access to Cuba’s small Jewish community.
According to The Spectator, even after his release from prison and return to the United States in December as part of President Obama’s plan to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba after half a century of regime-change policy in the United States, the official narrative with bi-partisan support exonerated him from guilt.
Nothing had been said about the fact that in 2009, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) paid Alan Gross, through a third party specialized in installing computer electronics in remote areas, almost $600,000 to go to the island nation to install military-grade internet equipment in Jewish synagogues which could not be detected by the government in Havana.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States government has spent more than $200 million since 1996 on so-called “democracy-promotion programs” meant to destabilize the Cuban government from the inside.
Published on 15 January 2015 by Cuba News Agency
Cuban doctor Felix Baez, who overcame the Ebola virus, which he got in Sierra Leone, returned to that Western African nation to continue fighting the disease along his comrades with the Henry Reeve international medical brigade.
Cubadebate website published a series of photos of the doctor along his comrades in Sierra Leone announcing his return.
An internal medicine specialist, Baez announced in December 2014 that he would return to the African nation to finish the job he started, once he fully recovered from the disease.
The 43-year-old doctor returned to Cuba after having been released from the Geneva-based Cantonal University Hospital, where he received treatment against Ebola.
In response to the World Health Organization call to fight Ebola in Africa, Cuba sent three brigades to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to fight the virus.
According to the World Health Organization over 8 thousand 800 people have died from the Ebola virus in Africa.
Published on 16 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
The U.S. government lifted large portions of its blockade against Cuba Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday modifications to trade limitations with Cuba and the travel restrictions to the island for U.S. citizens.
Cuba–U.S. relations took a historic turn on Dec. 17, when three Cuban political prisoners — unjustly held by the United States for more than 15 years — were released, and the White House announced numerous policy shifts toward the Caribbean nation. President Barack Obama admitted that his country's half-century attempt to defeat Cuba had failed.
United Airlines said Thursday it planned to serve Cuba from Houston, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey, subject to government approvals. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways said they would also look into adding services. Leading online travel company Orbitz Worldwide welcomed the Department of the Treasury's amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes and facilitate the provision by travel agents and airlines of authorized travel services.
However, general tourism to Cuba remains banned.
Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer and expert on Cuban legal issues, told Voice of America that hefty fines remain for those involved in unauthorized travel.
“It is US$100,000 per infraction. So if you have 20 people in a group traveling to Cuba and the organizers violated the rules, you are looking at a US$2 million penalty,” he said.
Meanwhile, the details of the new amendments provide opportunities for U.S. businesses to export certain goods to Cuba, including telecommunications equipment and building materials for private residents and small businesses.
Senior administration officials plan to travel to Cuba later this month to discuss additional migration issues, as well the logistical considerations surrounding the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
Only the U.S. Congress can lift the blockade that has been in place since 1960. However, several U.S. lawmakers have vowed to block any attempts to restore diplomatic relations.
The United States is home to over 2 million Cubans.
17 December 2014, was an historic day for Cuba. On that morning, the three remaining Cuban Five members in U.S. prison flew home to freedom. At the same time, Alan Gross, an American who was arrested in Cuba 5 years ago, and convicted for illegally bringing into Cuba undercover communications equipment, was returned to the United States.
This was announced on December. 17 at 12 noon, simultaneously by Cuban President Raul Castro on Cuban Television and by President Obama in Washington.
Both announced that for the first time in more than 50 years, U.S. and Cuban embassies will be opened in each respective country. This means the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.
Up to now, a quasi-diplomatic relationship has been maintained by what are called “Interests Sections,” essentially diplomatic missions that are hosted by the Swiss government in both countries.
To give you a sense of what it means for the Cuban people, I have here an excerpt of what that day was like, from Michael Krinsky, a progressive New York attorney who has represented the Cuban Government in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
He was in Cuba for a seminar, and on New York City’s WBAI radio station last week he said that when Raul Castro spoke to the Cuban people on Television at noon and announced that the Five were now home:
“There was pandemonium. Unbelievable joy. Then when Raul announced that both governments agreed to establish normal relations, there was stunned silence. Then tremendous commotion and applause. There is a sense of triumph, for the person on the street, that after 55 years of holding on, despite the Bay of Pigs invasion, economic blockade, the special period when trade with the Soviet Union ended, they had held on. The feeling was, the U.S. came to us. It was a tremendous sense of vindication and triumph, you could see it in the streets, in the restaurants, they would congratulate each other, it was quite a moment.”
It is a very important development for the Cuban people and the Revolution, who have been besieged for more than 55 years by U.S. imperialism, blockaded, invaded, attacked by terrorism, to see that one small part of this cruel policy is being lifted.
But, the U.S. blockade remains in place.
After 53 years without diplomatic relations, the governments of the United States andCuba announced their willingness to resume them and start a process aimed atnormalizing bilateral relations.
The most immediate effect of this agreement was an exchange of prisoners that allowedCuba to recover three of the five heroic fighters against terrorism who had remained in US prisons after the other two had completed their long and unjust sentences and had already returned to their homeland.
"The Five" infiltrated the ranks of Cuban counter-revolutionary organizations based in south Florida and controlled by the CIA. Aware of the risks that this meant for their lives, they were there to monitor the pernicious terrorist plans of these groups and to officiallyinform the government of the United States through the Cuban government, given theinaction of the local and federal law enforcement.
For its part, Cuba freed a mercenary who had been captured in 2009 when –at the service of an American contractor agency for intelligence and subversion missions– hecarried out repeated infiltrations into Cuban territory and engaged in criminal act. He had been given a 15-year prison sentence. An spy for the United States who had spent nearly 20 years in prison and other criminals in Cuban jails whose release was of interest toWashington were also freed.
Obviously, all Cubans, including many living abroad who love their country, received the news joyously. It suggested the end of the most acute period of violent confrontationbetween the superpower and a rebellious people. Cubans have shown that they wouldnever yield to threats or reprisals in the struggle for their sovereign rights.
Published on 12 December by Granma Internacional
According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, attempted to infiltrate the Cuban hip-hop movement as part of a covert project to destabilize the country.
Documents obtained by AP indicate that USAID hired a group of rappers to develop a youth movement in opposition to the Cuban government. The covert plan was implemented over more than two years, with the aim of using Cuban musicians to establish a network to agitate for social change on the island, PL reported on Thursday.
The Huffington Post website published a chronology of USAID covert operations in Cuba, detailing the activities of Rajko Bozic, a Serbian national who presented himself as a musical promoter and arrived in Cuba with instructions to involve Cuban rappers such as the Aldeanos duo in the covert hip hop program, to promote an opposition movement.
Cuba has urged the UN Security Council to play an active role in stopping Israeli abuses of international law. It has also repeated its support for the Palestinian bid to be a full member of the UN, and criticised those countries who refuse to support it. In making these calls, Cuba shows its solidarity with the oppressed around the world. During a UN debate on the Middle East on 18 January, UN representative for Cuba, Pedro Nunez Mosquera demanded change, whilst at the same time exposing the limitations of these channels, dominated by the interests of the imperialist powers.
Mosquera denounced Israel's increasing demolition of Palestinian homes, which leaves families homeless and often having to pay for the demolition themselves. Despite the demolitions contravening UN international law, 2011 has been a record year for demolitions, with 622 Palestinian structures destroyed. Mosquera drew attention to the expansion of national park space in East Jerusalem, an area where settlement growth and house demolitions combine to create rapid expansion of the racist and brutal occupation. He also spoke of a 40% increase in settler violence. Mosquera not only denounced Israel's actions, but criticised the apathy of the UN Security Council, urging them to play an active and practical role in preventing abuses of International law.
Mosquera used the opportunity to reiterate Cuba's support for full recognition of Palestine at the UN. Cuba and the ALBA countries of Venezuela, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda, have repeatedly criticised the countries including the US and Britain, that have vetoed or remained silent on the bid for statehood.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez argued in an open letter to Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General in September 2011:
'It is impossible to ignore the crisis in the United Nations. In 2005, before this very same General Assembly, we argued that the United Nations model had become exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian issue has been delayed and is being openly sabotaged reconfirms this. For several days, Washington has been stating that, at the Security Council, it will veto what will be a majority resolution of the General Assembly: the recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. In the Statement of Recognition of the Palestinian State, Venezuela, together with the sister Nations that make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), have denounced that such a just aspiration could be blocked by this means. As we know, the empire, in this and other instances, is trying to impose its double standard on the world stage: Yankee double standards are violating international law in Libya, while allowing Israel to do whatever it pleases, thus becoming the main accomplice of the Palestinian genocide being carried out by the hands of Zionist barbarity […] Long-live free, sovereign and independent Palestine!'
As well as calling for solidarity with Palestine, Cuba exposed the imperialist role the UN plays in the Middle East whilst powerful countries hold court. Countries which have the right to veto hold overwhelming power, and use it in their interests; Mosquera described their ability to manipulate the Council, drawing attention to recent UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011) on Libya. The resolutions condemned violence and resolved to ‘use all means necessary short of foreign occupation to protect civilians’ yet in reality, these resolutions meant NATO bombs, military intervention and the massacre of over 60,000 Libyans. Mosquera argued that the same 'recipe for pressure' was being placed on Syria, as competing countries repeat the preparations for intervention so recently practiced in Libya.
Cuba's call for the UN Security Council to uphold international law, and its support for the Palestinian bid for full recognition at the UN, raises public attention and challenges countries to act in solidarity. Cuba is clear in its demand - the illegal occupation of Palestine, and violent and racist settler expansion, will not be tolerated. Mosquera’s intervention critically explains the role that is currently being played in the Middle East by the powerful, imperialist players - the same that call for war, exploit resources around the world, and that consistently refuse to support Palestine.
Full self determination for nations!
Freedom for Palestine!
Rachel Francis for Rock Around the Blockade
Published on 10 November by Prensa Latina
For the fifth time in less than a month, The New York Times published a long editorial on Cuba, in which it listed the countless destabilizing efforts by the United States to overthrow the Cuban government.
In an article entitled "In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change", the Editorial Committee of the influential New York-based newspaper on Sunday reviewed Washington's countless plans against national stability in Cuba since the approval of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996 to date.
The New York Times notes that these subversive plans only served as the foundation for the US government to spend 264 million dollars over the past 18 years, in an effort to instigate alleged democratic reforms on the island.
First published on 20 October 2014 by New York Times
Cuba is an impoverished island that remains largely cut off from the world and lies about 4,500 miles from the West African nations where Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines of the pandemic, Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus.
Cuba’s contribution is doubtlessly meant at least in part to bolster its beleaguered international standing. Nonetheless, it should be lauded and emulated.
The global panic over Ebola has not brought forth an adequate response from the nations with the most to offer. While the United States and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.