Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Counter-revolutionaries and terrorists in Miami

Luis Posada Carriles and Ladies in White go out on a limb in Miami

March 26, 2010
By José Pertierra
Translation: Machetera

Only in Miami. Despite the seventy-three outstanding first-degree murder charges against him related to the mid-air explosion of a Cubana Airlines passenger jet, Luis Posada Carriles has not been extradited to Venezuela nor has he been indicted in the United States for these crimes. He wanders unleashed and un-vaccinated along Calle Ocho in Miami, marching alongside Gloria Estefan in support of the so-called Ladies in White.

His support of the “ladies” ought not to surprise us. There is an important link between Posada and these “ladies.” The link is called Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriña. It’s a well established fact, admitted even by the “ladies” themselves that their organization receives $1,500 a month from Rescate Jurídico [Legal Rescue] in Miami. Posada and the “ladies” share the same godfather.

The president of Rescate Jurídico is no more and no less than Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriña. An extremely close friend and Luis Posada Carriles’ financial sponsor, Alvarez was the person who brought Posada to the United States on his boat, the Santrina, according to documents from the U.S. District Attorney’s office. A few weeks later, he organized the famous and shameful press conference for Posada Carriles who had up until that point been “hidden” in Miami. Alvarez is also the same person who got one of his people to place two bombs in the Tropicana nightclub in Havana. This conversation was recorded and exposed on Cuban television.

It’s evident that the terrorist history of this sinister person did not stop the “ladies” from involving themselves in this game and receiving money salted with Cuban blood. In the United States, receiving money from a terrorist organization is a felony that carries a harsh punishment. I suppose the same is true in Cuba. Nevertheless, until now, the only sanction that these “ladies” have received is repudiation from Cubans in the street. The Cuban government has shown itself to be extremely tolerant, even providing police protection.

Here’s a suggestion for Posada Carriles. If he really wants to march in support of Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriña’s “ladies,” he ought to go to Havana to do it. As Calle 13 would say, “I dare you!”

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Cuba’s Commission of Prevention and Social Assistance (PAS)

The Commission of Prevention and Social Assistance (PAS): Supporting people locally, regionally and nationally.

Interview with Xiomara González, President of the Taller de Transformation Integral del Barrio “El Principe,” and Coordinator of the Prevention and Social Assistance (PAS) group, circumscription 40, Plaza de la Revolución, Havana city.

RATB: What is the Commission of Prevention and Social Assistance (PAS)?
XG: The Commission for Prevention and Social Assistance (PAS) is a permanent commission under the National Assembly. The National Commission of Prevention and Social Assistance was set up over 50 years ago, to ensure that nobody in Cuba would be left without social protection. At the moment the work of the PAS is composed of a National Commission, Provincial Commissions in all 14 provinces, Municipal Commissions in all municipalities and local groups of PAS in circumscriptions [the smallest division of political administration of a territory or community]. In Havana city, there are 15 municipalities. In one of the municipalities, Plaza de la Revolución, there are 19 groups of PAS. The PAS groups have an elected coordinator and representatives from the local CDRs (Committee’s for the Defence of the Revolution), the FMC (Cuban Women´s Federation), the chief of the PNR in the circumscription (Policia Nacional Revolucionary) and the ACRC (Asociación de Combatientes de la Revolución Cubana). Representatives from other organisations often attend also, including delegates from the Consejo’s populares (Council’s of Popular Power), workers groups, education ministers or Tribunal ministers depending on the needs and make up of each meeting. The president or a specialist from the Municipal Commission of PAS also attends each local PAS group meeting. Most PAS groups meet once a month to discuss and formulate action plans for general problems that affect the whole circumscription. This is to form plans of prevention against social problems and also develop solutions for identified problems. In between meetings the existing action plans are used by the different groups and representatives in the PAS group in order to solve individual problems and strengthen communication between different groups. Issues that are often tackled include unemployment, truancy from school, hygiene and street lighting. For example if there is no representative from a local school who participates in the PAS group and a generalised problem of truancy develops, they will invite someone from the Municipal Ministry of Education to attend the meeting and develop an action plan and link up with the local school.

RATB: What are Tallers de Transformation Integral en Barrios?
XG: This is an initiative of the Consejo’s populares that has been practiced for 20 years. At the moment there are 20 in Havana city alone. Other provinces have other projects depending on needs and methods of work that have been developed in their respective areas. I’m president of the Taller for the “El Principe” barrio (neighbourhood). This was created in 1996 and developed a casa communitario (community centre) that we use today for lots of different projects and activities, including music concerts, children’s choirs, alcoholics anonymous, theatre groups, modelling classes and painting. The purpose of Tallers is to provide activities to occupy free time in a healthy, productive way, and so the Tallers function to prevent social problems. Although the Tallers are separate from the PAS, in practice many of the same people are involved in both and the work is integrated.

RATB: How does the local PAS group relate to the National Commission and the National Assembly?
XG: The President or a specialist from the Municipal Commission of PAS attends the local PAS group meetings. This facilitates the communication of ideas, action plans and specific problems from the group level, feeding into the work of the municipal level and also allows the municipal representatives to feed back decisions of provincial and municipal meetings to the group level, as well as suggesting action plans that have worked in other local groups. As the coordinator of the local PAS group, I attend municipal meetings when necessary and at times the Provincial Commission will invite coordinators from local PAS groups to discuss specific issues. If a specific problem is identified in many of the circumscriptions in the municipality, the Municipal Commission will call a meeting with all of the coordinators and other representatives from circumscriptions of the whole municipality. This October 2009 there was a meeting with all the local coordinators of PAS groups and presidents of Tallers de Transformation in Havana City province in order to discuss issues and proposals for the National Assembly in December 2009. This meeting collaborated the results of investigations into problems in all municipalities and local areas of the province to form a plan of action to be discussed at the National Commission of PAS. One of the main findings of the provincial meeting was that areas with functioning PAS groups had fewer social problems, and areas with Taller de Transformation Integral in Barrios had even fewer social problems. The Provincial Commission proposed a plan of action to the National Commission which was approved and proposed to the National Assembly. The plan of action for 2010 is now being put into action locally.

RATB: What are the new challenges for 2010?
XG: At the moment there isn’t a PAS group in each circumscription in our municipality. This is because a few years ago it was decided that there should only be groups of PAS in circumscriptions that had identified social problems. However this December 2009 the Consejo Popular for “El Principe” barrio decided to develop PAS groups in each of the 7 circumscriptions in our barrio. This proposal was also agreed at the municipal level and so this year we will be setting up 89 new groups in Plaza de la Revolución municipality. This is in order to focus on prevention of social problems rather than just solving existing problems. So, one of the main focuses of the 2010 Havana city plan of action was for the experienced workers in the PAS groups to assist in setting up new groups and help to train existing workers and PAS groups. In Havana, this entails workers like myself assisting and training groups in 30 different communities in the 15 different municipalities. In both my roles within PAS and Taller de Transformation, I will be assisting with the development of groups and projects within my municipality. Within our circumscription, we will continue developing community work with a focus on music and arts for children, adults and families and to encourage participation of the whole barrio in something productive.

(Translated by Sam McGill, RATB correspondent in Havana, Cuba.)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Statement from Cuba's National Assembly

Source: Granma.

IN the wake of a media campaign mounted by powerful corporations, fundamentally in Europe, which have ferociously attacked Cuba, and after a dirty debate, the European Parliament has just passed a resolution of condemnation against our country that manipulates sentiments, brandishes lies and conceals realities.

The pretext utilized was the death of a prisoner, initially sentenced for a common crime and subsequently manipulated by U.S. interests and mercenaries at its service, who, of his own free will, refused to eat, despite warnings from and intervention by Cuban medical specialists.

This lamentable event cannot be utilized to condemn Cuba by adducing that a death could have been avoided. If there is one field in which our country does not have to defend itself in words, given that the reality is irrefutable, it is in that of the fight for the lives of human beings, whether born in Cuba or in other countries. Just one example is the presence of Cuban doctors in Haiti for more than 11 years prior to the earthquake in January of this year, a fact silenced by the hegemonic press.

Behind that condemnation lies profound cynicism. How many children’s lives have been lost in poor nations because of the decision by rich countries represented in the European Parliament not to meet their commitments to development aid? All of them knew it was a mass death sentence, but they opted to preserve the levels of waste and the continuation of consumerism to suicide in the long term.

We Cubans are also offended by that attempt to teach us a lesson at a time when immigrants and the unemployed are being repressed in Europe, but while here, in neighborhood meetings, people are proposing their candidates for municipal elections, freely and without intermediaries.

Those countries which participated in or allowed the clandestine air transport of detainees, the establishment of illegal prisons, and the practice of torture, lack the ethical authority to pass moral judgments on a people under attack and brutally blockaded.

Such a discriminatory and selective condemnation can only be explained by the failure of a policy incapable of bringing a heroic people to their knees. Neither the Helms Burton Act, nor the European common position, which emerged in the same year in the same circumstances and with the same purpose, both of them damaging to our national sovereignty and dignity, have the most minimal future, because we Cubans reject imposition, intolerance and pressure as a norm within international relations.

by National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba,

March 11, 2010.

Spain attacks Venezuela, ETA and FARC

The Spanish National Court [which has international jurisdiction] would like to link the Bolivarian government of Venezuela with the Basque group ETA (Euskadi ta Alkartasuna) and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) accusing Venezuela of preparing 'terrorist attacks' against Colombia. Spain charged the Bolivarian government of Hugo Chávez of working as an intermediary between ETA and FARC. The groups were allegedly plotting against prominent political figures living in or travelling through Spain, including plots to kill Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.

The Spanish journalist Serrano has affirmed that this bogus accusation comes from the Spanish right-wing and is intended to label Hugo Chávez as a ‘dictator’ and also to link him to an ‘evil axis’.

This campaign was started by Spain’s racist centre-right Partido Popular (People's Party) in open opposition to current Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. They are using Cuba and Venezuela to discredit Zapatero.

It is Spanish National Court Judge Eloy Velasco making the bogus accusations and he is clearly identified with the right-wing in Spain for whom it is expedient to write such propaganda so they can use the information to malign Venezuela. The right-wing uses these types of articles to attack progressive governments in Latin America. Everything it seems is valid for attacking Hugo Chávez and Venezuela.

Venezuelan officials condemned the declarations of the Spanish judge. On 3 March 2010, the Venezuelan National Assembly rejected the declarations of Velasco in which he affirmed the supposed link between Venezuela, ETA and FARC.

This propaganda campaign is being carried out against Venezuela at a particular moment when a new inter-governmental union of American nations, excluding the US and Canada, is being created under the provisional name of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELC), planned to begin in July 2011. This body is parallel to the pro-imperialist Organization of American States (OAS) and will replace the Rio Group. According to the journalist and author Earle Herrera, the Spanish and North American media have propagated this information to demonise the Venezuelan Government. Venezuelan chair of the Science, Technology and Media Committee in the National Assembly, Manuel Villalba, said ‘Venezuela is the country that has made it possible to have good relationships with all our brother countries in Latin America.’

On 5 March 2010, Chávez said that tensions with the Spanish government were over, after President Zapatero had initially asked for ‘explanations’ regarding Venezuela having a so-called ‘pact’ with ETA and FARC to carry out 'terrorist' acts against Colombia. President Chávez responded saying he would not be giving explanations to any country, but Spain hastily backed off with Spanish Foreign Minister, Chancellor Miguel Angel Moratinos diplomatically saying his government ‘requested information’ from the Venezuelan government.

During an event with the Bolivarian National Police, Chávez said that relations were back to normal, thanks to the Spanish President and Moratinos ‘because we always have been mates’.

Chávez confirmed that it was the Spanish right-wing and the European right-wing, on orders from the US who dominate the media and international courts, that organise against Venezuela.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

U.S. doctors leave Haiti as Cubans expand care

Source: The Militant (US).

With thousands in Haiti still in critical need of medical care, the U.S. government is pulling out the doctors it is responsible for. Meanwhile, the Cuban government is expanding its medical mission to Haiti and urging doctors from other countries to join it.
On February 24 the last U.S. field hospital in Haiti closed. The USNS Comfort, the much-publicized Navy medical ship docked in Haiti, is also pulling up anchor.

An article in the Wall Street Journal noted that an estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of those who had emergency surgery done since the January 12 earthquake will need to have more operations. “New cases of diarrhea, malaria and other diseases are picking up in tent communities crammed with tens of thousands of people who lost their homes,” it added. The dangers will mount as the rainy season produces major flooding.

These facts have not persuaded most doctors from the United States and other imperialist countries who went to Haiti after the earthquake to stay there for more than a few weeks. They are now “back in their antiseptic, high-tech offices,” the New York Times said, “haunted by the experiences.” Cuban doctors, on the other hand, are digging in for the long battle that lies ahead.

“The major challenge begins now, when the press headlines abandon Haiti, the moment of emergency is over, and the supposed ‘threat’ of a wave of emigration is diminishing,” said Cuban president Raúl Castro in a February 23 speech to the Summit of Latin American and the Caribbean Unity, held in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Haiti doesn’t need “a fleeting and sudden gesture of ‘charity,’” he said. It “requires and deserves a major international effort for its reconstruction.”

Castro reported that the Cuban medical mission in Haiti has now grown to about 1,430, spread throughout the country. It is called the Henry Reeve International Brigade, named after a U.S. man who joined Cuba’s independence war in the late 19th century. The brigade includes nearly 800 Cuban doctors and other health-care workers, as well as Cuban-trained doctors from Haiti and more than two dozen other countries.

Since the earthquake, the Cuban mission has treated more than 95,000 Haitians and performed 4,500 surgeries. It is now focusing the medical mission on advancing the long-term health system in Haiti. According to the Cuban daily Granma, the Cubans are building two new hospitals outside Port-au-Prince, the capital, in areas where health care had been practically nonexistent.

Graduates from Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine [ELAM] as well as current students there are at the center of this effort. They number 637 and come from 27 countries.

Granma interviewed one of these graduates, Marcela Vera, from Colombia. As soon as the earthquake struck she wanted to go to Haiti to help. She was turned down by many aid organizations. Doctors Without Borders told her she needed to know French. The Red Cross demanded two years’ experience. But when the Latin American School of Medicine called her, “she was only asked to do her best and do it well,” Granma said. Forty-eight hours later she was on her way to Haiti.

by Cindy Jaquith

Friday, 5 March 2010

Cuba has raised her flag in Haiti.

The efficiency of Cuba’s cooperation with Haiti was highlighted by Victor Geneus, the Haitian Ambassador in Cuba, when he was evaluating the damage caused by the earthquake that devastated his country on 12 January 2010.

The diplomat described the tragedy as a complete disaster that will make the recovery of the country very long and difficult.

Geneus estimated the damages and confirmed that the destruction of the capital Port-au-Prince was so large, and that the amount of disappeared people will increase day by day.

He confirmed that the international aid arriving at the capital by air was very useful but needs much better coordination. Medicines as well as medical aid needed priority. Phone and road communications needed to be repaired.

The ambassador thanked the Cuban Government and their people for their cooperation in these very difficult times. He also recognised that the biggest island in the Caribbean had always given loads of human solidarity to Haiti.

’Cuban doctors have a lot of experience about our reality, lots of good feelings to help us and lots of understanding. All that is what we need most.’

After an earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter scale, followed by several more aftershocks of lower intensity, thousands of people have died, dozens of official buildings, houses and infrastructure in Port-au-Prince suffered damages that has not yet been fully evaluated. Cuba has raised her flag in Haiti.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

After the earthquake, as many people left to their homelands, with their final pictures taken of their stay in Haiti, 938 Cuban medical personnel and at least 380 Haitian doctors trained in Cuba, remained saving lives. They remain no matter what the situation is now and no matter what is yet to come.

Cuba was the first country to help desperate Haiti when the big cloud of dust left by the earthquake had not yet disappeared. There were hundreds of aid worker going to where the Cuban doctors had already been for 10 years (since 1999).

A legion of injured and dead people has flooded Port-au-Prince. There was massive chaos in the early hours among the doctors. Today they still remain there with four field hospitals.

According to Dr. Carlos Alberto Garcia, member of the Cuban Coordination team, many of the aid workers from other countries are returning home because they consider there is no longer an emergency. ‘We think the emergency is still there, but it is looked at in another dimension, not from the surgical point of view, but with other illnesses that are showing at the moment among them diarhorreal infections, skin injuries, paludism [malaria], parasites and typhoid.’

The most significant part of the Cuban help is to achieve an integrated, holistic attention to the patients. This is confirmed by treatment, health promotions, infectious vectors control and rehabilitation. This last service is vital in a population affected by trauma and amputations.

Here are a few figures:
• 95,000 people treated
• 4,500 operations, of which 1,500 were mayor radical surgeries
• including 1,100 amputations
• A total of 1,439 Cuban and Cuban-trained doctors working in Haiti.


Prisoner in Cuba, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, dies after hunger strike

Cuban prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in the Hermanos Amejeiras hospital in La Habana city, Cuba on 23 February 2010, as a consequence of 86 days on voluntary hunger strike.

Cuba has been highly criticised by sections of the bourgeois media and by the French and US governments for this death. Cuba was accused of not doing anything to save this prisoner’s life. Orlando’s mother Reina Luisa Tamayo, however, recognised the care given to her son in the hospital until his last breath.

Much has been said in the international press about this ‘political prisoner’ - something he was not. He already had a very notorious past and his deletive life started back in 1988.

Tamayo was arrested and convicted several times for disturbing the peace, two counts of fraud, public exhibitionism, injury and ‘possession of non-firearm weapons’ by 1990. He was convicted in 1993 for ‘trespassing’, and in 2000, Orlando Zapata Tamayo left Cuban citizen Leonardo Simon with a skull fracture after a machete attack on Simon. Tamayo was convicted again of injuring and possession of non-firearm weapons in 2003. He was also accused of fraud, exposing himself and aggression. He was freed on probation on 9 March 2003, but he committed another crime on 20 March the same year and was re-arrested. Tamayo was hence convicted in May 2004 and sentenced to three years for ‘disrespect’, ‘public disorder’ and ‘resistance’; however, the sentence became larger and larger because of his violent behaviour in gaol. After several acts of violence during his incarceration, especially against the guards, his sentence was increased to 25 years, and later to 36 years.

The reason for this hunger strike was that he wanted a cooker, a mobile phone and a television set in his cell! He was not a political prisoner; he only adopted such ‘qualification’ when his penal record was already mounting. It was only after his imprisonment that his mother approached US-backed right-wing opposition groups. Tamayo was in rehabilitation for alcoholism and he was invited to talk in front of a camera with the promise of a drink. So he just said what these people wanted to hear. He was used by the counter-revolutionaries so that they would have a ‘martyr’ in Cuba. His death is convenient to the enemies of the Revolution, and reactionaries internationally. His extremist political mentors forced him into this hunger strike. They orchestrated the show and a useful scapegoat died. Now the manipulation of Tamayo’s death and the grief of his family, for dubious political purposes can begin.

Nobody ‘disappears’ in Cuba, nobody is murdered by the police, and the only secret places for ‘interrogation’ or torture is at the US Naval base in illegally-occupied Guantanamo Bay.

Tamayo was very well looked after by the Cuban medical services. Sociologists spoke to him to warn him about the consequences of his actions. He had been on hunger strike before, and his body was already damaged as a result. He was cared for until the last minute and until his last breath. He was fed parenterally, and he was on an artificial ventilator for seven days. Cuban doctors explained to Tamayo very clearly what damage could be caused by not eating for several days. Even if you are fed through your veins, the digestive tube still gets badly damaged. Intestinal perforations and haemorrhages can also occur. Your immunological system suffers and weakens, and the alimentary canal gets so thin resulting in the intestinal bacteria that live there getting into your blood stream, and in eventual death.

President Raul Castro confirmed that the prisoner was not ‘executed’ and that there are no extra-judicial executions in Cuba.

Long live the Cuban Revolution!