CPGB-ML » Posts in 'Cuba' category

Hail the struggle of the Guantánamo hunger strikers!

Guantanamo is the new Dachao - and the US imperialists are the true inheritors of Nazi fascism

Guantanamo is the new Dachao - and the US imperialists are the true inheritors of Nazi fascism

When Obama covered himself in glory by promising to close down the Guantánamo concentration camp by the end of 2009, many on the petty-bourgeois left crowed loudly. The neo-cons were dead, long live the new age!

Yet, four years on, the camp not only maintains its illegal squat on Cuban soil, but, on 7 March, the president issued an executive order, at a stroke ‘legalising’ indefinite incarceration without trial within its walls.

Now it was the turn of the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee to crow, saying: “I commend the Obama administration for issuing this executive order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.”

Quite so. Let all who hailed the rise of Obama the peace-prize winner now take heed.

The majority of the men illegally detained in the camp have been thrust into a limbo aptly described by Cuban paper Granma: “They have not been accused of any crime which would require a trial, but neither have they been acknowledged as belonging to an enemy force, which would have guaranteed them recognition and rights reserved for prisoners of war.” (‘Guantánamo: endurance and shame’, 11 April 2013)

Of the 166 inmates held captive within ‘Gitmo’, under conditions which UN human-rights chief Navi Piallay felt obliged to denounce as being in “clear breach of international law”, only nine have been convicted or even charged with any crime. According to justice department lawyers, 48 of the men “could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial”, or, to put it in plain English: there’s no proof other than ‘confessions’ extorted through torture that they have ever done anything wrong.

Sooner than follow the principle of innocent till proven guilty, however, these kidnap victims of US imperialism have been summarily branded as a threat and told they can’t go home. As one of the defence team, Lt Col Barry Wingard, summed it up: “Forty-eight men will be condemned to die never being given a trial or given an opportunity to defend themselves. They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe.” (‘Men live in Guantánamo animal cages, will never get trial,’ RT.com, 24 March 2013)

Half the inmates have in theory been cleared for transfer or resettlement, but wait in vain for this to translate into reality.

The ‘lucky few’ who have the dubious privilege of actually facing prosecution by a kangaroo court are in reality faring no better. Cases are getting bogged down as numerous documents arguing the defence case are snooped on or deleted in an obvious sabotage of even this travesty of legal process.

As RT.com reported recently: “Pre-trial hearings in the Guantánamo Bay war-crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the disappearance of defence legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said …

“Defence lawyers representing inmates at the prison camp were ordered Wednesday to halt all computer transmission of sensitive material because of a security risk. The problem reportedly stems from a Pentagon-provided computer server that was supposed to transmit information from Washington to Guantánamo. Instead of transmitting files effectively, however, the system has been deleting documents since January of this year.” (‘Guantánamo Bay hearing delayed after mysterious disappearance of legal files’, 11 April 2013)

The lawyer for one defendant noted that officials had mishandled over half a million defence emails and were even trawling through the defence team’s internet searches.

Stripped of even the hope of a trial, let alone repatriation or justice, a growing number of the men have resorted to their sole remaining avenue of protest. In a last-ditch attempt to force their plight before the world’s attention, more than a hundred of them have now joined a hunger strike that was initiated in the first week of February.

The response has been brutal, including an assault with rubber bullets, ‘justified’ by the pretence that inmates had equipped themselves with improvised weapons. A lawyer for one of the defendants pointed out the extreme improbability of this assertion, given that the sharpest object prisoners are permitted are the refills from ballpoint pens, stripped of their plastic casing.

In a vain effort to break the hunger strike, the men have been cruelly separated into isolation cells. But these victims of imperialist brutality are made of sterner stuff, as is clear from the words of one such, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel.

This brave man was able to tell his story via a phone call to the legal charity Reprieve. His account, which has been printed under the headline ‘Gitmo is killing me’, is in its essentials common to that of many of his fellow prisoners.

“One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since 10 February and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

“I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago – no one seriously thinks I am a threat – but still I am here.

“Years ago the military said I was a ‘guard’ for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.

“When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really travelled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.

“I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.”

After Samir joined the hunger strike, he was force-fed, a supposedly humanitarian procedure which in reality is a particularly nasty form of torture.

“A team from the ERF (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.

“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

“I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11.00pm, when I’m sleeping.

“There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.

“During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not. It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me.”

He concluded: “The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood. And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment.

“Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.” (Printed in the New York Times, 15 April 2013)

These hunger strikers are resisting imperialism with the only means they possess – their bodies. Even as their religious faith is abused; even as they are locked away in isolation cells, beaten up and subjected to all the horrors of force feeding; even as they are routinely exposed to the thuggery of their captors and the chicanery of their prosecutors, they continue to resist and stand tall in the ranks of all those who struggle against imperialist oppression.

In their resolute stand they will serve as an inspiration to all who fight against oppression, broadening the axis of resistance ever wider. In particular their dignity and courage should inspire all workers in Britain who are struggling within the belly of the beast itself.

Let us take courage from their example and sever the social-democratic ties that cripple our unions and drag the workers’ movement along behind the imperialist war chariot.

No cooperation with imperialist oppression!
Shut down Guantánamo; free the captives!
Return Guantánamo to Cuban sovereignty; Yankees go home!

Free the Miami Five

This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress

This congress condemns the ongoing unjust imprisonment and detention in the United States of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Cuban citizens who went to the United States with the aim of infiltrating Miami Cuban circles for the purpose of finding out in advance about any intended terrorist attacks being prepared against Cuban national interests. Their arrest and conviction on charges of espionage against the US and conspiracy to commit criminal acts constitute one of the most glaring indictments of the US legal system.

This congress notes that even ex-US president Jimmy Carter has been shocked at the treatment meted out to these men, known to the world as the Miami Five, and has said: “I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned. There were doubts in the US courts and also among human-rights organisations in the world. Now, they have been in prison 12 years, and I hope that in the near future they will be released to return home.”

Congress further notes that recent evidence shows that the US government was paying journalists in Miami to keep writing tendentious articles about the case at the time that it was being heard with a view to influencing public opinion, the jury, and the likely outcome of the trial. At the time of the trial it was well known that the Miami press was printing such material, and application was made several times for a change of venue for the trial because the publicity was ensuring that there was no way a trial in Miami could be a fair one. However, the judge refused to countenance a change of venue. One can surmise what would have been the effect on the judge’s career had she flown in the face of government expectations in this regard!

This congress believes that, even if the Five had been guilty of the offences with which they were charged, the sentences imposed on them would be considered totally disproportionate in any country that laid claim to being observant of human rights. These patriotic comrades were convicted on 8 June 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December 2001.

Congress notes that, on 9 August 2005, after seven years of unjust imprisonment, the Miami Five won an unprecedented victory on appeal. In a unanimous 93-page decision, a brave three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial. The court rightly called their prosecution “a perfect storm” of pervasive community prejudice, government misconduct and extensive negative publicity before and during the trial. However, the Bush administration appealed, and exactly one year after the favourable ruling granting the Five a new trial, the full panel of the 11th Circuit Court ruled to reverse their decision. The Cubans’ convictions were reinstated, although later court decisions reduced the sentences of Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. René Gonzalez has already been released (on 7 October last year) but is being kept in the US on three years’ probation, so that he cannot return to Cuba but has to remain in Miami, where he is at risk of being murdered by Cuban expatriate terrorists.

Congress further notes that there are ongoing appeals for habeas corpus, which have been given added impetus through the discovery of the large payments made by the US government to journalists reporting on the trial to the prejudice of the defendants. The appeals have been heard and the outcome is awaited. In the meantime, Gerardo is serving two life sentences and cannot under US law be paroled, while the current release dates of Ramón, Antonio and Fernando are:

  • Ramón: 30 October 2024
  • Antonio: 18 September 2017
  • Fernando: 27 February 2014

This congress joins with the Cuban government, all the people of Cuba, and all of progressive humanity the world over in calling for the immediate release of the Miami Five, their immediate return to Cuba and significant compensation to be paid to them for the long years of unjust imprisonment, which have robbed them of years of their lives.

Cuba’s outstanding human rights record

Cuban mural depicting the Miami Five

Cuban mural depicting the Miami Five

Via the Cuban embassy in London

Human rights

• The UN General Assembly declared 10 December to be ‘Human Rights Day’ in remembrance of the adoption and proclamation of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
• Cuba shows remarkable progress and achievements in the realisation of human rights for all its citizens.
• Cuba has a long and honorable history in cooperation with all mechanisms of human rights, which are applied on the basis of universality and non-discrimination.
• Cuba has ratified a considerable number of international instruments related to human rights.
• The constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes the rights, duties and fundamental safeguards of citizens, as well as the foundations for its enforcement, realisation and protection.
• All churches and religious beliefs are respected without discrimination. There are four thousand religions and religious institutions.
• Freedom of opinion and speech has in Cuba its full realisation.
• Information and Communications Technologies is a commodity service for all the people and the training in its use is free of charge.
• Access to the internet is promoted by means of centres and institutions of social and community interest, and also taking into account the restrictions imposed by the blockade and our economic capacity.
• Cuba has health indicators similar to those of developed countries.
• All Cubans have access to quality basic services without discrimination, namely: education, health, social assistance and security.
• Education is universal and free of charge at all teaching levels.
• The Cuban people has made significant progress and continues to further its revolutionary transformations aimed at building an increasingly just, free, independent, equitable, democratic, comradely and participatory society.

Counterrevolutionary Flotilla from 9 December

• The so-called Democracy Movement based in Miami is a terrorist and provocative organisation, which was established on July 1995.
• This movement promotes the so-called flotilla, which has violated Cuba’s territorial waters.
• The so-called Maritime Operation will begin on 9 December, which, in spite of being promoted with a humanitarian content, has assumed a military training.
• This will be the 17th flotilla organised by the provocative Democracy Movement.
• Cuba, in turn, has decided to use diplomatic channels to warn the American government about this dangerous event.
• We have condemned the terrorist and provocative record of their organisers.
• Cuba warns about the incapability to control those ships and their crews involved, some of whom opt for violent confrontation between both nations.
• The tacit approval of the provocation by the American government highlights its subordination to the whims of the Cuban-American mafia in Miami.
• The forthcoming 9 December will go down in history without significance. It will be another day of public peace for Cubans; one of those days which help them forge a better life through their work and
effort.
• The provocative day is intended to create tensions between the United States and Cuba and support internal mercenary groupings.
• We firmly condemn the US government interference in Cuba’s domestic affairs.

Ladies in White

• The so-called Ladies in White are family members of counterrevolutionary prisoners, who were duly prosecuted by Cuban laws, with full due process.
• They receive financing and supplies from officials of the Interest Section, diplomats of some European embassies and anti-Cuban groups based in Miami.
• They go on political demonstrations under the close surveillance of diplomatic officials of the Interest Section and European embassies.
• These ladies claimed they were not politicians, that they were just demanding the release of their relatives in prison.
• Currently, these ladies’ husbands are free but they continue to receive resources and instructions from the US Interest Section as well as funding from notorious terrorists.
• During political demonstrations that take place in the streets of the capital city, these ladies are accompanied by other women who do not have any relative in prison but follow them for the payment they receive.
• The so-called Ladies in White have not been denied the right to go on political demonstrations and they have been doing so for almost two years. The Cuban government will never prevent its people from going out to defend their streets.

The Cuban Five heroes

• The five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the United States are antiterrorist fighters.
• They were not seeking information related to US national security.
• They were trying to prevent the actions by the terrorist groups who act with impunity against Cuba from Florida.
• It has been proven that the nature of the case brought against the Cuban Five is, in essence, politically motivated.
• There have been numerous violations during trial and throughout the whole legal process.
• They have been imprisoned for 13 years already, which is a too long.
• The case of the Cuban Five has the support of governments, parliaments, religious, legal and human rights organisations.
• Personalities from all over the world, including 10 Nobel prize winners, have supported this cause.
• The habeas corpus presented in favor of Gerardo Hernández is the last legal resource within the US judicial system.
• The will of the US government to reject the habeas corpus in favor of Gerardo, will condition the decision that may be arrived at regarding the case.
• The new injustice being committed against the Cuban Five heroes, by imposing an additional punishment on René and make him remain in US territory, jeopardises his personal security.
• We make the US government responsible for the security and physical integrity of René González.
• By forbidding René to visit places visited by terrorists and violent persons in Miami, the US government acknowledges the presence of terrorists in its territory, which reveals once more, the double standard of the US policy in its struggle against terrorism.
• The only just and human decision that the US government should arrive at is to send René back to his homeland.
• The Cuban people appreciate the international solidarity, which is instrumental in the solution to the case of the Cuban Five.
• The Cuban Five maintain their unwavering resistance, unyielding resolve, optimism and conviction for victory.
• The US President Barrack Obama can use his constitutional prerogatives and release the Cuban Five.

Cuba rejects intervention in Libya

Cuba categorically rejects any attempt whatsoever to take advantage of the tragic situation created in order to occupy Libya and control its oil

Statement by Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, 1 March 2011, via Granma

Mr President:

Humanity’s conscience is repulsed by the deaths of innocent people under any circumstances, anyplace. Cuba fully shares the worldwide concern for the loss of civilian lives in Libya and hopes that its people are able to reach a peaceful and sovereign solution to the civil war occurring there, with no foreign interference, and can guarantee the integrity of that nation.

Most certainly the Libyan people oppose any foreign military intervention, which would delay an agreement even further and cause thousands of deaths, displacement and enormous injury to the population.

Cuba categorically rejects any attempt whatsoever to take advantage of the tragic situation created in order to occupy Libya and control its oil.

It is noteworthy that the voracity for oil, not peace or the protection of Libyan lives, is the motivation inciting the political forces, primarily conservative, which today, in the United States and some European countries, are calling for a Nato military intervention in Libyan territory. Nor does it appear that objectivity, accuracy or a commitment to the truth are prevailing in part of the press, where reports are being used by media giants to fan the flames.

Given the magnitude of what is taking place in Libya and the Arab world, in the context of a global economic crisis, responsibility and a long-term vision should prevail on the part of governments in the developed countries. Although the goodwill of some could be exploited, it is clear that a military intervention would lead to a war with serious consequences for human lives, especially the millions of poor who comprise four fifths of humanity.

Despite the paucity of some facts and information, the reality is that the origins of the situation in North Africa and the Middle East are to be found within the crisis of the rapacious policy imposed by the United States and its Nato allies in the region. The price of food has tripled, water is scarce, the desert is growing, poverty is on the rise and with it, repugnant social inequality and exclusion in the distribution of the opulent wealth garnered from oil in the region.

The fundamental human right is the right to life, which is not worth living without human dignity.

The way in which the right to life is being violated should arouse concern. According to various sources, more than 111 million people have perished in armed conflicts during modern wars. It cannot be forgotten in this room that, if in World War I civilian deaths amounted to 5 percent of total casualties, in the subsequent wars of conquest after 1990, basically in Iraq, with more than one million, and Afghanistan with more than 70,000, the deaths of innocents stand at 90 percent. The proportion of children in these figures is horrific and unprecedented.

The concept of ‘collateral damage’, an offense to human nature, has been accepted in the military doctrine of Nato and the very powerful nations.

In the last decade, humanitarian international law has been trampled, as is occurring on the US Guantánamo Naval Base, which usurps Cuban territory.

As a consequence of those wars, global refugee figures have increased by 34 percent, to more than 26 million people.

Military spending increased by 49 percent in the decade, to reach $1.5tr, more than half of that figure in the United States alone. The industrial-military complex continues producing wars.

Every year, 740,000 human beings die, not only on account of conflicts, but as victims of violent acts associated with organised crime.

In one European country, a woman dies every five days as a result of domestic violence. In the countries of the South, half a million mothers die in childbirth every year.

Every day, 29,000 children die of hunger and preventable diseases. In the minutes that I have been speaking, no less than 120 children have died. Four million perish in their first month of life. In total, 11 million children die every year.

There are 100,000 deaths a day from causes related to malnutrition, adding up to 35 million a year.

In Hurricane Katrina alone, in the most developed country in the world, 1,836 people died, almost all of them African Americans of few resources. In the last two years, 470,000 people died throughout the world as a result of natural disasters, 97 percent of them of low income.

In the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti alone, more than 250,000 people died, almost all of them resident in very poor homes. The same thing occurred with homes swept away by excessive rainfall in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

If the developing countries had infant and maternal mortality rates like those of Cuba, 8.4 million children and 500,000 mothers would be saved annually. In the cholera epidemic in Haiti, Cuban doctors are treating almost half of the patients, with a mortality rate five times lower than those being treated by physicians from other countries. Cuban international medical cooperation has made it possible to save more than 4.4 million lives in dozens of countries in four continents.

Human dignity is a human right. Today, 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty. There are 1.2 billion hungry people, and a further two billion are suffering from malnutrition. There are 759 million illiterate adults.

Mr President:

The Council has demonstrated its capacity for approaching human rights situations in the world, including those of an urgent nature which require attention and action on the part of the international community. The usefulness of the Universal Periodic Review, as a means of sustaining international cooperation, of evaluating the undertakings of all countries without distinction in this context has been confirmed.

The spirit which animated our actions during the review process of this body was to preserve, improve and strengthen this council in its function of effectively promoting and protecting all human rights for everyone.

The results of this exercise express a recognition of the Council’s important achievements in its short existence. While it is true that the agreements reached are insufficient in the light of the demands of developing countries, the body has been preserved from those whose aim was to reform it to their convenience in order to satisfy hegemonic appetites and to resuscitate the past of confrontation, double standards, selectivity and imposition.

It is to be hoped from the debates of the last few days that this human rights council will continue constructing and advancing its institutionalism toward the full exercise of its mandate.

It would be very negative if, on the pretext of reviewing the Council’s institutional construction and in abuse of the dramatic juncture which is being discussed, it should be manipulated and pressured in an opportunist way in order to establish precedents and modify agreements.

If the essential human right is the right to life, will the Council be ready to suspend the membership of states that unleash a war?

Is the Council proposing to make some substantial contribution to eliminating the principal threat to the life of the human species which is the existence of enormous arsenals of nuclear weapons, an infinitesimal part of which, or the explosion of 100 warheads, would provoke a nuclear winter, according to irrefutable scientific evidence?

Will it establish a thematic procedure on the impact of climate change in the exercise of human rights and proclaim the right to a healthy atmosphere?

Will it suspend states which finance and supply military aid utilised by recipient states for mass, flagrant and systematic violations of human rights and for attacks on the civilian population, like those taking place in Palestine?

Will it apply that measure against powerful countries which are perpetrating extra-judicial executions in the territory of other states with the use of high technology, such as smart bombs and drone aircraft?

What will happen to states which accept secret illegal prisons in their territories, facilitate the transit of secret flights with kidnapped persons aboard, or participate in acts of torture?

Can the Council adopt a declaration on the right of peoples to peace?

Will it adopt an action programme that includes concrete commitments guaranteeing the right to alimentation in a moment of food crisis, spiraling food prices and the utilisation of cereal crops to produce biofuels?

Mr President:

Distinguished ministers and delegates:

What measures will this Council adopt against a member state which is committing acts that are causing grave suffering and seriously endangering physical or mental integrity, such as the blockade of Cuba, typified as genocide in Article 2, Paragraphs B and C, of the 1948 Geneva Convention?

Thank you very much.

Translated by Granma International

Address by Raul Castro Ruz

Key address by army general Raul Castro Ruz, President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers and Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba central committee, at the closing session of the 9th Congress of the Young Communist League, Havana, April 4, 2010, year 52 of the revolution

Delegates and Guests,

Comrades all:

It has been a good Congress, since last October when it began with the open meetings attended by hundreds of thousand of youths and continued with the evaluation meetings conducted by the organization from the rank and file through the municipal and provincial committees where the agreements were worked out that would be adopted in these final sessions.

If there is anything we have had aplenty in the little over five years that have passed since Fidel made the closing speech at the 8th YCL Congress, on December 5, 2004, that is work and challenges.

This Congress has been held in the midst of one of the most vicious and best arranged media campaigns launched against the Cuban Revolution in its 50 years of life, an issue I will necessarily have to refer to later on.

Although I was unable to attend the meetings held prior to the Congress, I have been informed of the essentials of every one of them. I am aware that there has been little talk about achievements in order to focus on the problems, and to look at the inside the organization avoiding the use of more time than necessary to examine the external factors. Such is the style that should permanently characterize the work of the YCL in contrast with those that tend to look for the mote in the neighbor’s eye instead of doing what it is their job to do. It has been rewarding to listen to many youths directly linked to productive activities to proudly explain in simple words what they do, barely mentioning the material difficulties and bureaucratic obstacles they must face. Many of the shortcomings discussed here are not new; they have accompanied the organization for quite a long time. The previous congresses had adopted the corresponding agreements on them; however, they have more or less been reiterated, which is proof of the lack of a systematic and thorough control of their accomplishment.

In this sense, it is fair and necessary to repeat something reiterated by comrades Machado and Lazo, who chaired many of the assemblies: the Party feels equally responsible for every flaw in the work of the YCL, very especially for the problems concerning the policy with cadres.

We cannot permit that, once again, the documents approved become dead letter or are kept in a drawer like memoirs. They should become the guidelines for the everyday work of the National Bureau and for every member of the organization. You have already agreed on the basics, now you should act on it.

Some are very critical about the youth of today while forgetting that they were young, too. It would be naïve to pretend that the new generations are the same as those of past times. A wise proverb goes: A man resembles his times more than he does his parents.

The Cuban youths have always been willing to take up challenges. They have proved it in the recovery from the damages caused by the hurricanes, the fight against the enemy’s provocations and the defense-related tasks, just to mention some examples.

The average age of the Congress delegates is 28. They have been growing up during these hard years of the Special Period and taken part in our people’s efforts to preserve the main socialist conquests while facing up to a very complex economic situation.

It is precisely because of the importance that the youth’s vanguard is aware of our economic situation, that the Political Bureau’s Commission –considering the positive experience of the analysis of the same issue made with the Deputies to the National Assembly [of People's Power] — decided to offer the YCL municipal assemblies an information describing in all its crude reality the present situation and its prospects. Over 30 thousand members of the YCL received this information, just like the main leaders of the Party, the mass organizations and the government at various levels.

Today, more than never before, the economic battle is the main task and the focus of the ideological work of the cadres, because it is on this work that the sustainability and the preservation of our social system rest.

Without a sound and dynamic economy and without the removal of superfluous expenses and waste, it will neither be possible to improve the living standard of the population nor to preserve and improve the high levels of education and healthcare ensured to every citizen free of charge.

Without an efficient and robust agriculture that we can develop with the resources available to us, –avoiding the dream of the large allocations of the past– we can’t expect to sustain and rise the amount of food provided to the population, that largely depends on the import of products that can be grown in Cuba.

If the people do not feel the need to work for a living because they are covered by extremely paternalistic and irrational state regulations, we will never be able to stimulate love for work or resolve the chronic lack of construction, farming and industrial workers; teachers, police agents and other indispensable trades that have steadily been disappearing.

If we do not build a firm and systematic social rejection of illegal activities and different expressions of corruption, more than a few will continue to make fortunes at the expense of the majority’s labors while disseminating attitudes that crash into the essence of socialism.

If we keep the inflated payrolls in nearly every sector of national life and pay salaries that fail to correspond with the result of work, thus raising the amount of money in circulation, we cannot expect the prices to cease climbing constantly or prevent the deterioration of the people’s purchasing power. We know that the budgeted and entrepreneurial sectors have hundreds of thousands of workers in excess; some analysts estimate that the surplus of people in work positions exceeds one million. This is an extremely sensitive issue that we should confront firmly and with political common sense.

The Revolution will not leave anyone helpless. It will strive to create the necessary conditions for every Cuban to have a dignified job, but this does not mean that the State will be responsible for providing a job to everyone after they have been made several work offers. The citizens themselves should be the ones most interested in finding a socially useful work.

In summary, to continue spending beyond our income is tantamount to eating up our future and jeopardizing the very survival of the Revolution.

We are facing really unpleasant realities, but we do not close our eyes to them. We are convinced that we need to break away from dogma and assume firmly and confidently the ongoing upgrading of our economic model in order to set the foundations of the irreversibility of the Cuban socialism and its development, which we know are the guarantee of our national sovereignty and independence. I know that some comrades sometimes get impatient and wish for immediate changes in many areas. Or course, I mean those who want it but not with the intention to play along with the enemy. We understand such concerns that, generally, stem from ignorance of the magnitude of the work ahead of us, of its depth and of the complexity of the interrelations between the different elements that make society work and that shall be modified.

Those who are asking us to go faster should bear in mind the list of issues that we are studying, of which I have mentioned only a few today. We cannot allow that haste or improvisation in the solution of a problem lead to a greater one. With regards to issues of strategic dimension for the life of the entire nation we cannot let ourselves be driven by emotion and act losing sight of the necessary comprehensiveness. As we have said, that is the only reason for which it was decided to postpone for a few other months the celebration of the Party Congress and the National Conference that will preceded it.

This is the greatest and most important challenge we face to ensure the continuity of the work built in these five decades, the same that our youths have assumed with full responsibility and conviction. The slogan presiding this Congress is “Everything for the Revolution,” and that means, foremost, the strengthening and consolidation of the national economy.

The Cuban youth is destined to take over from the generation that founded the Revolution; and leading the masses with their great strength requires a vanguard that is convincing and that has a capacity for mobilization through personal example; a vanguard headed by firm, capable and prestigious leaders, true leaders and not improvised leaders; leaders who have been through the irreplaceable forge of the working class where the most genuine values of a revolutionary are bred. Life has eloquently shown the dangers that come with the violation of that principle.

Fidel said it clearly in his closing remarks at the 2nd YCL Congress, on April 4, 1972, and I quote:

“No one will learn to swim on the ground, and no one will walk on the sea. A man is shaped by his environment; a man is made by his own life, by his own activity.”

And he concluded: “It is by creating that we shall learn to respect what work creates. We shall teach to respect those goods as we teach how to create them.” This idea that he stated 38 years ago, and that was surely received with an ovation by that Congress, is another clear proof of the agreements that we reach and then do not fulfill.

Today more than ever we need cadres that can carry on an effective ideological work that cannot be a dialogue of the deaf or a mechanical repetition of slogans. We need leaders who bring sound arguments to the discussion, who do not think they own the absolute truth; leaders who are good listeners even if they don’t like what some people say; leaders who are capable of examining other peoples’ views with an open mind, which does not exclude the need to refute with sound arguments and energy those views considered unacceptable.

Such leaders should foster open discussions and not consider discrepancy a problem but rather the source of the best solutions. In general, absolute unanimity is fictitious, therefore, harmful. When contradictions are not antagonistic, as in our case, they can become the driving force of development. We should deliberately suppress anything that feeds pretending and opportunism. We should learn to work collegially, to encourage unity and to strengthen collective leadership; these features should characterize the future leaders of the Revolution.

There are youths all over the island with the necessary disposition and capacity to take on leading positions. The challenge is to find them, to train them and to gradually assign them greater responsibilities. The masses will confirm if the selection was right.

We observe that progress is being made in the ethnic and gender composition of the organization. In this sense, we can neither afford regression nor superficiality; the Young Communist League should work on this permanently. By the way, allow me to recall this was another thing that we agreed upon 35 years ago, in the First Party Congress; but we left its accomplishment to spontaneity and did not follow-up on it as we should, even when this was one of Fidel’s first statements since the victory of the Revolution and one he has repeated a number of times.

As I said at the beginning, the celebration of this Congress has coincided with a huge smearing campaign against Cuba, a campaign orchestrated, directed and financed by the imperial power centers in the United States and Europe, hypocritically waging the banners of human rights.

They have cynically and shamefully manipulated the death of an inmate sentenced to jail on 14 charges of common crimes, who by work and grace of a repeated lie and an interest in receiving economic support from overseas was turned into a “political dissident,” a man who was induced to persevere on a hunger strike making absurd demands.

Despite our doctors’ efforts the man died, something we also regretted when it happened, and we denounced the only beneficiaries of the event, the same who are currently encouraging another individual to persist on a similar attitude of unacceptable blackmail. The latter is not in prison, despite all the slandering. He is a free person who has already served his sentence for common crimes, specifically for assault and battery of a woman who is a doctor and director of a hospital and who he also threatened to kill, and later an old lady, nearly 70 years old, who as a consequence had to be subjected to surgery to remove her spleen. Still, the same as in the previous case, everything is being done to save his life; but if he does not modify his self-destructive behavior, he will be responsible, together with his sponsors, for the outcome we do not wish. It is disgusting to see the double standard of those in Europe that keep a complicit silence about tortures in the so-called war on terrorism; that allowed clandestine CIA flights carrying prisoners, and even permitted the use of their territory for the establishment of secret prison centers.

What would they say if we had imitated them and, in breach of ethical standards, had forcibly fed these people, as they have usually done in many torture centers, including the one they have in the Guantanamo Naval Base? By the way, these are the same that in their own countries, as we see on television almost on a daily basis, use police agents to charge on horseback against demonstrators, to beat them and attack them with teargas and even with bullets; and, what about the frequent abuse and humiliation of immigrants? The mainstream press in the West does not only attack Cuba; they have also initiated a new modality of implacable media terror against the political leaders, intellectuals, artists and other personalities that all over the world speak out against fallacy and hypocrisy, and who simply examine the events with objectivity.

Meanwhile, it would seem that the standard-bearers of the so much trumpeted freedom of the press have forgotten that the economic and trade blockade against Cuba and all of its inhumane effects on our people is in full force and even tightened; that the current US Administration has not ceased to support subversion; that the unfair, discriminatory and interfering Common Position adopted by the European Union, sponsored from its inception by the US government and the Spanish right-wing, is still in force claiming for a regime change in our country, or to put it bluntly, for the destruction of the Revolution. More than half a century of permanent combat has taught our people that hesitation is synonymous with defeat.

We will never yield to blackmail from any country or group of countries, no matter how powerful they might be, and regardless of the consequences. We have the right to defend ourselves. Let them known that if they try to corner us, we will defend ourselves, first of all with truth and principles. Once again we shall keep ourselves firm and calmed, and we shall be patient. Our history is rich in such examples!

That’s how our heroic mambises fought in our independence wars of the 19th Century.

That’s how we defeated the last offensive of ten thousand troops sent against us by the tyranny, and initially confronted by barely 200 rebel fighters who under the direct leadership of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, and for 75 days, –from May 24 through August 6, 1958 engaged in more than 100 war actions, including four battles in a small territory of 406 to 437 square miles, that is, a smaller area than that of Havana City. That great Operation determined the course of the war and shortly four months later the Revolution was victorious. This inspired Commander Ernesto Che Guevara an entry in his campaign diary that I quote: “Batista’s army ended this last offensive on the Sierra Maestra with its backbone in tatters.”

Neither were we scared by the Yankee fleet positioned in sight of the coasts of Playa Giron in 1961. It was under their very nose that we annihilated their mercenary army in what would be And again we did it in 1962, during the Missile [October] Crisis. We did not

give in an inch despite the brutal threats of an enemy aiming their nuclear weapons at us and gearing for action to invade the island; neither did we do it when negotiating behind our backs the solution to the crisis, the leaders of the Soviet Union –our main ally in such a predicament on whose support depended the fate of the Revolution– respectfully tried to persuade us to accept inspection, on our national territory, of the withdrawal of their nuclear weapons, and we responded that such inspection could eventually take place on board their ships in international waters, but never in Cuba.

We are sure that it would be very difficult for worse circumstances than those to repeat themselves.

More recently, the Cuban people offered an everlasting example of their capacity for resistance and their confidence in themselves when, as a result of the demise of the Socialist Camp and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, Cuba sustained the fall of its GDP by 35%; the reduction of its foreign trade by 85%; the loss of markets for its main export items such as sugar, nickel, citrus and others whose prices plummeted by half; the loss of soft credits with the subsequent interruption of numerous crucial investments like the first Nuclear Power Station and the Cienfuegos Refinery; the collapse of transportation, construction and agriculture as we abruptly lost the supply of spare parts for the equipment, fertilizers, animal food and raw material for the industry, which caused hundreds and hundreds of factories to be paralyzed and led to the sudden quantitative and qualitative deterioration of food supplies for our people to levels below those recommended for adequate nutrition.

We all suffered those warm summers of the first half of the 1990s, when the blackouts exceeded 12 hours a day due to the lack of fuel for electricity generation. And, while all this was happening, scores of Western press agencies, some of them with ill-concealed jubilation, were sending their correspondents to Cuba with the intention of getting the first reports of the final defeat of the Revolution.

Amidst this dramatic situation, no one was left to their own fate; this gave further evidence of the strength stemming from the unity of the people that defend just ideas and a work built with so much sacrifice. Only a socialist regime, despite its deficiencies, can successfully pass such a tough test. Thus, we do not lose any sleep over the current skirmishes of the international reaction’s offensive, coordinated –as usual—by those who do not want to accept that this country will never be crushed, one way or another, and that we rather disappeared as we proved in 1962.

This Revolution started only 142 years ago, on October 10, 1868. Then, it was a fight against a decaying European colonialism, but we were always boycotted by the emerging US imperialism that did not want our independence and waited for the “ripe fruit” to fall in their hands by “geographic gravity.” And so it happened after more than three decades of war and enormous sacrifices made by the Cuban people.

Now the external actors have exchanged roles. For over half a century we have been attacked and continuously harassed by the now modern and most powerful empire on the planet, assisted by the boycott implied in the insulting Common Position, which remains intact thanks to the pressure of some countries and reactionary political forces of the European Union with various unacceptable conditions.

We ask ourselves, why? And, we simply believe it is because essentially the actors are still the same and they do not renounce their old aspirations of dominance.

The young Cuban revolutionaries have a clear understanding that to preserve the Revolution and Socialism, and to continue having dignity and being free, they still have ahead many more years of struggle and sacrifices.

At the same time, great challenges hang over humanity and it is the first duty of the youth to tackle them. They should defend the survival of the human species threatened like never before by climate change, a situation accelerated by the reckless production and consumption patterns fathered by capitalism. Today, we are seven billion people on Earth. Half of this population is poor, while 1.02 billion are going hungry. Thus, it is worthwhile wondering what will happen by the year 2050 when the world population is 9 billion and the living conditions on the planet are more deteriorated.

The travesty in which the latest summit ended in the Danish capital, last December, shows that capitalism with its blind market laws will never solve this nor many other problems. Only conscience and the mobilization of the peoples, the governments’ political will and the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge can prevent man’s extinction.

To conclude, I’d like to refer to the fact that on April next year it will be half a century since the proclamation of the Socialist nature of the Revolution and of the crushing victory over the mercenary Playa Giron [Bay of Pigs] invasion. We shall celebrate these extraordinary events in every corner of our country, from Baracoa where they tried to disembark a battalion up to the western-most end of the nation. In the capital, we shall have a popular march and a military parade, and the youths, the intellectuals and the workers will be the protagonists of every activity.

Within a few days, on May 1st, our revolutionary people throughout the country, in public squares and in the streets that belong to them by right, shall give another resounding response to this new international escalation of aggressions. Cuba does not fear the lies nor does it bow to pressures, conditionings or impositions, wherever they come from. It defends itself with the truth, which always, sooner rather than later, ends up being known.

The Young Communist League was born on a day like this, 48 years ago. That historical April 4, 1962, Fidel stated in concluding:

“Believing in the youths is seeing in them not only enthusiasm but capacity; not only energy but responsibility; not only youth, but purity, heroism, character, willpower, love for their homeland, faith in their homeland! Love for the Revolution, faith in the Revolution, and confidence in themselves! It is the deep conviction that the youth can do it, that the youth is capable of doing it; the deep conviction that the youth can carry on great tasks.”

That’s how it was yesterday, how it is today and how it will continue to be in the future.

Thank you very much.

Fidel: We send doctors, not soldiers

Reflections by Comrade Fidel

http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/reflexiones/2010/ing/f230110i.html

In my Reflection of 14 January, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighboring sister nation, I wrote:

“In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country. Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers are helping the Haitian people free of charge. Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 237 communes of that country.

“On the other hand, no less than 400 young Haitians have been graduated as medical doctors in our country. They will now work alongside the reinforcement that traveled there yesterday to save lives in that critical situation. Thus, up to one thousand doctors and healthcare personnel can be mobilized without any special effort; and most are already there willing to cooperate with any other State that wishes to save Haitian lives and rehabilitate the injured.

“The head of our medical brigade has informed that ‘the situation is difficult but we are already saving lives’.”

Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban health professionals have started to work nonstop in the few facilities that were able to stand, in tents, and out in the parks or open-air spaces, since the population feared new aftershocks.

The situation was far more serious than was originally thought. Tens of thousands of injured were clamoring for help in the streets of Port-au-Prince; innumerable persons laid, dead or alive, under the rubbled clay or adobe used in the construction of the houses where the overwhelming majority of the population lived.

Buildings, even the most solid, collapsed. Besides, it was necessary to look for the Haitian doctors who had graduated at the Latin American Medicine School throughout all the destroyed neighborhoods. Many of them were affected, either directly or indirectly, by the tragedy.

Some UN officials were trapped in their dormitories and tens of lives were lost, including the lives of several chiefs of MINUSTAH, a UN contingent. The fate of hundreds of other members of its staff was unknown.

Haiti’s presidential palace crumbled. Many public facilities, including several hospitals, were left in ruins.

The catastrophe shocked the whole world, which was able to see what was going on through the images aired by the main international TV networks. Governments from everywhere in the planet announced they would be sending rescue experts, food, medicines, equipment and other resources.

In conformity with the position publicly announced by Cuba, medical staff from different countries – namely Spain, Mexico, and Colombia, among others - worked very hard alongside our doctors at the facilities they had improvised. Organisations such as PAHO and other friendly countries like Venezuela and other nations supplied medicines and other resources. The impeccable behavior of Cuban professionals and their leaders was absolutely void of chauvinism and remained out of the limelight.

Cuba, just as it had done under similar circumstances, when Hurricane Katrina caused huge devastation in the city of New Orleans and the lives of thousands of American citizens were in danger, offered to send a full medical brigade to cooperate with the people of the United States, a country that, as is well known, has vast resources.

But at that moment what was needed were trained and well-equipped doctors to save lives. Given New Orleans geographical location, more than one thousand doctors of the ‘Henry Reeve’ contingent mobilised and readied to leave for that city at any time of the day or the night, carrying with them the necessary medicines and equipment. It never crossed our mind that the president of that nation would reject the offer and let a number of Americans that could have been saved to die.

The mistake made by that government was perhaps the inability to understand that the people of Cuba do not see in the American people an enemy; it does not blame it for the aggressions our homeland has suffered.

Nor was that government capable of understanding that our country does not need to beg for favors or forgiveness of those who, for half a century now, have been trying, to no avail, to bring us to our knees.

Our country, also in the case of Haiti, immediately responded to the US authorities requests to fly over the eastern part of Cuba as well as other facilities they needed to deliver assistance, as quickly as possible, to the American and Haitian citizens who had been affected by the earthquake.

Such have been the principles characterising the ethical behavior of our people. Together with its equanimity and firmness, these have been the ever-present features of our foreign policy. And this is known only too well by whoever have been our adversaries in the international arena.

Cuba will firmly stand by the opinion that the tragedy that has taken place in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, is a challenge to the richest and more powerful countries of the world.

Haiti is a net product of the colonial, capitalist and imperialist system imposed on the world. Haiti’s slavery and subsequent poverty were imposed from abroad. That terrible earthquake occurred after the Copenhagen Summit, where the most elemental rights of 192 UN member States were trampled upon.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, a competition has unleashed in Haiti to hastily and illegally adopt boys and girls. Unicef has been forced to adopt preventive measures against the uprooting of many children, which will deprive their close relatives from their rights.

There are more than one hundred thousand deadly victims. A high number of citizens have lost their arms or legs, or have suffered fractures requiring rehabilitation that would enable them to work or manage their own.

Eighty percent of the country needs to be rebuilt. Haiti requires an economy that is developed enough to meet its needs according to its productive capacity. The reconstruction of Europe or Japan, which was based on the productive capacity and the technical level of the population, was a relatively simple task as compared to the effort that needs to be made in Haiti.

There, as well as in most of Africa and elsewhere in the Third World, it is indispensable to create the conditions for a sustainable development. In only 40 years’ time, humanity will be made of more than nine billion inhabitants, and right now is faced with the challenge of a climate change that scientists accept as an inescapable reality.

In the midst of the Haitian tragedy, without anybody knowing how and why, thousands of US marines, 82nd Airborne Division troops and other military forces have occupied Haiti. Worse still is the fact that neither the United Nations Organisation nor the US government have offered an explanation to the world’s public opinion about this relocation of troops.

Several governments have complained that their aircraft have not been allowed to land in order to deliver the human and technical resources that have been sent to Haiti.

Some countries, for their part, have announced they would be sending an additional number of troops and military equipment. In my view, such events will complicate and create chaos in international cooperation, which is already in itself complex. It is necessary to seriously discuss this issue. The UN should be entrusted with the leading role it deserves in these so delicate matters.

Our country is accomplishing a strictly humanitarian mission. To the extent of its possibilities, it will contribute the human and material resources at its disposal. The will of our people, which takes pride in its medical doctors and cooperation workers who provide vital services, is huge, and will rise to the occasion.

Any significant cooperation that is offered to our country will not be rejected, but its acceptance will fully depend on the importance and transcendence of the assistance that is requested from the human resources of our homeland.

It is only fair to state that, up until this moment, our modest aircrafts and the important human resources that Cuba has made available to the Haitian people have arrived at their destination without any difficulty whatsoever.

We send doctors, not soldiers!

Fidel Castro Ruz

23 January 2010, 5.30pm

OAS votes for Cuba’s reinstatement in the teeth of US opposition

Declaration of the Revolutionary Government

In an act of unusual historic significance, the OAS has just formally buried the shameful resolution which excluded Cuba from the Inter-American System in 1962.

That decision was despicable and illegal, contrary to the declared aims and principles of the OAS Constitution. It was, at the same time, consistent with the trajectory of this organisation; with the motive for which was created, promoted and defended by the United States. It was consistent with its role as an instrument of US hegemony in the hemisphere and with Washington’s capacity to impose its will on Latin America at the historic moment in which the Cuban Revolution triumphed.

Today, Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing another reality. The decision adopted at the 39th session of the OAS General is the fruit of the will of governments more committed to their peoples, with the region’s real problems and with a sense of independence that, unfortunately, did not prevail in 1962. Cuba acknowledges the merit of the governments that have undertaken to formally erase that resolution, referred to in that meeting as “an unburied corpse”.

The decision to rescind Resolution 6 of the 8th OAS Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs constitutes an unquestioned disrespect for the US policy on Cuba followed since 1959. It pursues the aim of repairing a historic injustice and is a vindication for the Cuban people and peoples of the Americas.

Despite the last-minute consensus achieved, that decision was adopted against Washington’s will and in the face of intensive moves and pressure exerted by governments in the region. In that way, it dealt imperialism a defeat using its very own instrument.

Cuba welcomes with satisfaction this expression of sovereignty and civic-mindedness, while thanking those governments which, with a spirit of solidarity, independence and justice, have defended Cuba’s right to return to the organisation. It also understands the desire to free the OAS from a stigma that has remained as a symbol of the organisation’s servility.

However, Cuba once again confirms that it will not return to the OAS.

Since the triumph of the Revolution, the Organisation of American States has played an active role in Washington’s policy of hostility against Cuba. It made the economic blockade official, ruled on the embargo of weapons and strategic products, and stipulated member countries’ obligatory breaking off of diplomatic relations with our revolutionary state. Despite the exclusion in place, over the years it even tried to keep Cuba under its authority and to subject it to its own jurisdiction and that of its specialised agencies. This is an organisation with a role and a trajectory that Cuba repudiates.

The Cuban people were able to resist the aggressions and the blockade, overcome the diplomatic, political, and economic isolation, and face, on their own, without yielding, the persistent aggressiveness of the most powerful empire known to the planet.

Today our country enjoys diplomatic relations with all the countries of the hemisphere apart from the United States. It is developing broad links of friendship and cooperation with the majority of them.

Moreover, Cuba has won its full independence and is marching unstoppably toward a society that is more just, equitable, and full of solidarity every day.

It has done so with supreme heroism and sacrifice, and with the solidarity of the peoples of the Americas. It shares values that are contrary to those of neoliberal and egotistical capitalism promoted by the OAS, and feels that it has the right and the authority to say ‘no’ to the idea of joining a body in which the United States still exercises oppressive control. The peoples and governments of the region will understand this just position.

Today it can be understood more clearly than in 1962 that it is the OAS that is incompatible with the most pressing desires of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, that it is incapable of representing their values, interests and genuine yearning for democracy; it is the OAS that has been unable to solve the problems of inequality, disparities in wealth, corruption, foreign intervention, and the predatory actions of transnational capital. It is the OAS that has remained silent in the face of the most horrendous crimes, communes with the interests of imperialism, and conspires against and subverts governments genuinely and legitimately constituted with demonstrable popular support.

The speeches and declarations of San Pedro Sula have been more than eloquent. Well-founded criticisms of the organisation’s anachronism, given its divorce from continental realities and its disgraceful record, cannot be ignored.

The demands to end, once and for all, the criminal US blockade of Cuba reflect the growing and unstoppable sentiment of an entire hemisphere. The spirit of independence represented there by the many that spoke is the one with which Cuba identifies.

Aspirations for the integration and coordination of Latin America and the Caribbean are increasingly manifest. Cuba is actively participating in, and proposes continuing to do so, the representative regional mechanisms of what José Martí called “Our America”, from the Rio Grande to Patagonia, including all of the Caribbean islands.

Strengthening, expanding and harmonising those bodies and groups is the path chosen by Cuba; not the outlandish illusion of returning to an organisation that does not allow reform and that has been condemned by history.

The response of the people of Cuba to the ignominious 8th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OAS was the Second Declaration of Havana, approved in a mass assembly on 4 February 1962 by more than 1 million Cubans in the Plaza de la Revolución.

The declaration textually affirmed:

Great as was the epic of Latin American independence, heroic as was that struggle, today’s generation of Latin Americans is called upon to engage in an epic which is even greater and more decisive for humanity. For that struggle was for liberation from Spanish colonial power, from a decadent Spain invaded by Napoleon’s armies. Today the call for struggle is for liberation from the most powerful imperial metropolis in the world, from the most important force in the imperialist world and to render humanity an even greater service than that rendered by our predecessors.

“… For this great humanity has said, ‘Enough!’ and has begun to march. And its march of giants will not be halted until they conquer real independence, for which they have died in vain more than once.

We will be loyal to these ideas, which have made it possible for our people to maintain Cuba free, sovereign and independent.

Havana, 8 June 2009

Cuba, Reflections by Comrade Fidel: Obama and the Blockade

Yesterday I referred to what was funny about the “Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain”.

Today I could refer to what is tragic about it. I hope our friends do not take any offence in this. There were some differences between the draft that we received, which was going to be submitted by the hosts of the Summit, and the document that was finally published. In all that last-minute haste, there was hardly any time for anything. Some items had been discussed at long meetings held some weeks previous to the Summit. At the very last moment, proposals such as the one submitted by Bolivia, complicated even more the whole picture. The Bolivian proposal was included as a note in the document. It stated that Bolivia considered that the implementation of policies and cooperation schemes aimed at expanding the use of bio-fuels in the western hemisphere could affect and have an impact on the availability of foodstuffs, the increase of food prices, deforestation, the displacement of populations as a result of the land demand, and that consequently this could make the food crisis to be even worse, which will directly affect low income persons and, most of all, the poorest economies among developing countries. The note added that the Bolivian government, while recognizing the need to look for and resort to environmentally friendly alternative sources of energy, such as the geothermal, solar, and eolic sources of energy, and to small and medium size hydro-power generators, it advocates for an alternative approach, based on the possibility of living well and in harmony with nature, in order to develop public policies aimed at the promotion of safe alternative energies that could ensure the preservation of the planet, our ‘mother land’.

When analyzing this note submitted by Bolivia please bear in mind that the United States and Brazil are the two biggest producers of bio-fuels in the world, something that is opposed by an increasing number of persons in the planet, whose resistance has been growing since the dark days of George Bush.

Obama’s advisors published in the Internet their version -in English- of the interview the US president granted to some journalists in Port of Spain. At one point, he asserted that there was something he found interesting –an added that he had known of it in a more abstract way but that he found it interesting in more specific terms- which was listening to these leaders who, when speaking about Cuba, did so referring specifically to the thousands of doctors Cuba is disseminating throughout the region, and finding how much these countries depended on them. He said this reminded them in the US of the fact that if their only interaction with many of these countries was the war on drugs; that if their only interaction was of a military character, then it was possible that they would not be developing connections that, with time, could enhance their influence with a positive effect when they may find it necessary to advance policies of their interest in the region.

He said he thought that was the reason why it was so important -for the sake of their interaction, not only here in this hemisphere, but in the whole world- to recognize that their military power was just part of their power, and that they have to resort to diplomacy and their aid to development in a more intelligent way, so that peoples could see concrete and practical improvements in the life of ordinary citizens, based on the foreign policy of the United States.

Jake, one of the journalists, said thanks to the President and added that in Port of Spain the President had listened to many Latin American leaders who want the US to lift the embargo against Cuba. The journalist reminded the President he had said that was an important influence that should not be eliminated. But he added that in 2004 the President did support the lifting of the embargo. He reminded the President he had said that the embargo had not managed to raise the standards of living, that it had squeezed the innocent, and that it was high time for the US to recognize that that particular policy had failed. The journalist wondered what made the President change his opinion with regards to the embargo.

The President responded that the year 2004 seemed to be thousands of years ago, and wondered what he himself was doing in 2004.

The journalist answered that back then he was running for the Senate. The President added that the fact that Raul Castro had said his government was ready to talk with the US government not only about the lifting of the embargo but also about other issues, namely, human rights and political prisoners, was a signal of progress. He said there were some things the Cuban government could do. He added that Cuba could release the political prisoners, reduce the surcharge imposed on remittances, which will correspond with the policies that they have applied, whereby Cuban-American families are allowed to send remittances. He said that it so happened that Cuba applies a very high surcharge. He said that Cuba is exacting significant profits. He added that this would be an example of cooperation where both governments would be working to help the Cuban family and improve the living standards in Cuba.

There is no doubt that the President misinterpreted Raul’s statements.

When the President of Cuba said he was ready to discuss any topic with the US President, he meant he was not afraid of addressing any issue. That shows his courage and confidence on the principles of the Revolution. No one should feel astonished that Raul spoke about pardoning those who were convicted on March, 2003, and about sending them all to the United States, should that country be willing to release the Five Cuban Anti-Terrorism Heroes. The convicts, as was already the case with the Bay of Pig’s mercenaries, are at the service of a foreign power that threatens and blockades our homeland.

Besides, the assertion that Cuba imposes a very high surcharge and obtains significant profits is an attempt by the President’s advisors to cause trouble and division among Cubans. Every country charges a certain amount for all hard currency transfers. If those are made in dollars, all the more reason we have to do it, because that is the currency of the country that blockades us. Not all Cubans have relatives abroad that could send them remittances. Redistributing a relatively small part of them to benefit those more in need of food, medicines and other goods is absolutely fair. Our homeland does not have the privilege of converting the money minted by the State into hard currency -something the Chinese very often call “junk money”- as I have explained on several occasions, which has been one of the causes of the present economic crisis. With what money the US is bailing out its banks and multinationals, while plunging future generations of Americans into indebtedness? Would Obama be ready to discuss those issues?

Daniel Ortega stated it very clearly when he remembered the first conversation he had with Carter, which today I will once more repeat:

“I had the opportunity to meet with President Carter, and when he told me that now, after the Somozas’ tyranny had been ousted, and the Nicaraguan people had defeated the Somozas’ tyranny, it was high time ‘for Nicaragua to change’, I said: ‘No, Nicaragua does not need to change; you are the ones that need to change. Nicaragua has never invaded the United States. Nicaragua has never mined the US ports. Nicaragua has never launched a single stone against the American nation. Nicaragua has not imposed any government on the United States. You are the ones that need to change, not the Nicaraguans.’ ”

At the press conference, as well as in the final meetings of the Summit, Obama looked conceited. Such attitude by the US President was consistent with the abject positions adopted by some Latin American leaders. Some days ago I said that whatever was said and done at the Summit will be known anyway.

When the US President said, in answering to Jake, that thousands of years had elapsed since 2004 until the present, he was superficial. Should we wait for so many years before his blockade is lifted? He did not invent it, but he embraced it just as much as the previous ten US presidents did. Should he continue down that same path, we could predict he would face a sure fiasco, just as all his predecessor did. That is not the dream entertained by Martin Luther King, whose role in the struggle for human rights will ever more illuminate the American people’s path.

We are living in a new era. Changes are unavoidable. Leaders just pass through; peoples prevail. There would be no need to wait for thousands of years to pass by; only eight years will be enough so that a new US President –who will no doubt be less intelligent, promising and admired in the world than Barack Obama- riding on a better armored car, or on a more modern helicopter, or on a more sophisticated plane, occupies that inglorious position.

Tomorrow we shall have more news about the Summit.

Fidel Castro Ruz
April 21, 2009
5:34 p.m.

Letter from the Miami Five

Letter received from Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, one of the five Cuban intelligence officers illegally imprisoned in Miami (read more about their case on the main CPGB-ML site.

Dear comrades in the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist),

Many thanks for your revolutionary greetings and for your support in the struggle for justice. A better world of solidarity is possible. Best wishes in your important tasks.

Unidos venceremos (together we will win)!

Greetings from the 5.

Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez.

If you would like to write to the Miami Five, here are the addresses (Cuba Solidarity Campaign website).

Cuba sees lowest ever child mortality rates last year

Via Xinhua.

HAVANA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) — Child mortality rates in Cuba dropped to 4.7 out of every 1,000 newborns in 2008, the lowest in history, the Health Ministry said Friday.

The figure places Cuba among the nations in the world which have the lowest death rates for children under one year of age.

According to the ministry, there were 122,556 births in 2008, 10,184 more than in 2007 when the mortality rate was of 5.3 out of every 1,000 newborns.

A total of 579 newborn babies died in Cuba last year, due mainly to perinatal causes, congenital anomalies and infections.