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Obama signs off on removing Cuba from terrorism list

Published on 14 April 2015 by teleSUR English

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U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he intends to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism list. In a brief statement, the White House said it no longer considers Havana a state sponsor of terrorism. “The Government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period; and ... the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” the statement reads.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest commented that Obama's decision is in line with U.S. “interests and values.” “We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” he said.

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Regional leaders back Venezuela at Panama summit as US blocks final declaration

Published on 13 April 2015 by venezuelanalysis.com

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Regional leaders flocked to Panama City this past weekend for the VII Summit of the Americas, which has been widely hailed as a victory for left-leaning and progressive forces in the region, particularly Venezuela and Cuba. 

The summit was marked by the historic presence of Cuba whose president Raul Castro addressed his counterparts and held face to face talks with Barack Obama, the first Cuban leader to do so since the socialist nation's US-imposed expulsion from the Organization of American States in 1962.

However, the much anticipated rapprochement between the two nations was largely upstaged by regional leaders' near uniform rejection of President Obama's March 9 Executive Order labeling Venezuela a "national security threat", which has been condemned by all 33 nations of the CELAC  (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and other regional bodies. 

While positively noting the steps taken by Obama to reestablish bilateral ties with Cuba, Castro nonetheless criticized the US president for his aggressive measures against Venezuela. 

"Venezuela is not and could never be a threat to the national security of a superpower like the US," declared the Cuban leader, calling on Obama to "repeal the Executive Order" and "lift unilateral sanctions". 

"I must reaffirm all of our loyal and resolute support for the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for the legitimate government and civil-military union headed by President Nicolas Maduro." 

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Colombia extends suspension of air raids on FARC by one month

Published on 10 April 2015 by teleSUR English

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Thursday that he would extend the suspending of air raids on camps used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for an additional month. President Santos originally issued the suspension of bombings of FARC camps on March 10, stating at the time that it was a temporary measure to help de-escalate the more than 50-year conflict in the country and help move the peace negotiations forward.

The FARC implemented a unilateral cease-fire in December 2014, which has been independently verified by human rights defenders. Santos added that the Ministry of Defense had also confirmed that the FARC was abiding by the unilateral cease-fire. “For this reason, I have decided to extend the suspension of bombings for one more month, I will continue to do so into the future,” said Santos.

However the decision to suspend bombings does not preclude the Colombian government from engaging in combat on the ground, which the FARC has warned threatens the peace process.

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Venezuelan committee for the victims of the barricades rallies against exclusion from OAS forum

Published on 10 April 2015 by www.venezuelanalysis.com

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The Venezuelan Committee for the Victims of the Barricades have branded a decision to deny them entry into a Summit of the America’s Forum as a “premeditated” attempt to silence them. 

The victims of last year’s barricades, which were headed by Venezuelan opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, had travelled out to Panama earlier this week to participate in the Civil Society and and Social Actors Forum, as well as in the “People’s Summit” - an accompanying event to the Organisation of American States (OAS) 7th “Summit of the Americas”. 

“This is no coincidence, they want to silence our voices so that we can’t tell the stories of our family members who are now dead, thanks to who they are calling political heroes like Leopoldo Lopez,” said Yendry Velasquez, whose soldier husband was killed in the violence. 

The exclusion of the committee, which was formed last year in a bid to highlight the stories of the 43 people who were killed and the hundreds who were injured in last year’s violence, is just one of many recent attempts to silence the group. They say that they have been discriminated against by the largely privately owned Venezuelan media and its international counterparts, which have prevented them from telling their stories.   

“They want to shut us up, they don’t want us to tell the truth,” said Desirée Cabrera, whose infant daughter almost died in an arson attack during the barricades. 

As part of its awareness raising work, the committee has submitted official documentation of their experiences to bodies such as the Spanish and U.S. embassies in Venezuela, as well as to a U.N. mission in Caracas. To date, they have received little in the way of a response. 

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Venezuela withdraws from OAS civil society forum in solidarity with Cuba

Published on 9 April 2015 by www.venezuelanalysis.com

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Caracas has joined Havana in withdrawing its delegation to the Civil Society Forum at the 7th Summit of the Americas this week, after Cuban delegates broke the news that at least 20 counter-revolutionary Cuban “mercenaries” had also been invited to participate in the event.

Among the highly controversial figures set to participate in the forum are the radical anti-Cuban government dissidents, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Elizardo Sánchez and Rosa María Payá, as well as members of the Cuban exile community. All are known to have financial ties to U.S. funding agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and have a history of trying to subvert the Cuban government. Ex-CIA agent, Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía, better known for his role in the assassination of Argentinian revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, is also participating in the summit.

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