Friday, 25 February 2011

Cuba Rejects Military Intervention in Libya

Source: Prensa Latina, 25 February 2011.

Cuba rejected on Friday before the UN Human Rights Council any maneuver leading to foreign military intervention in Libya and reiterated a call to keep calm to Libyan authorities.

"We cannot accept the risk that this tragic situation is used to satisfy pro-intervention greed, strip the Libyan people of its sovereignty and take over their resources," said Cuban permanent representative to the UNHRC in Geneva Rodolfo Reyes said.

He warned of plans for a humanitarian military intervention "to which we oppose because, instead of solving the situation it would rather worsen it further and it might have other serious implications."

In an official statement addressed to the head of the UNHRC, Reyes said that Cuba has denounced from the start these plans to occupy Libya and categorically rejects any maneuver to favor such purposes.

Certainly, the Libyan people oppose any foreign military intervention, said the Cuban ambassador, who also cited Cuba's concern about the internal situation of civil war surrounding Libya "in the context of a world economic crisis of great dimensions that is plunging the peoples of that region and the world into hopelessness," as stated by Cuban Foreign Minister Brino Rodriguez in Brussels.

We want the Libyan people to reach a prompt, peaceful, sovereign solution to the situation created there, without any kind of interference or foreign intervention, that secures the integrity of the Libyan nation, said Reyes as he expressed the Cuban Government's stand.

US mercenary Alan Gross given date

Trial of Alan Gross to be held on March 4th
Source: Granma, 25 February 2011.

As announced recently, all the evidence presented by the defense in its document of provisional conclusions was accepted by the court; and according to the legal procedures established, the Provincial Tribunal of People’s Power of Havana has scheduled the trial of U.S. citizen Phillip Alan Gross for March 4th.

As was recently reported, after an exhaustive process of investigation, the public prosecutor’s office had presented the preliminary file no 59/2009, in which United States citizen Phillip Alan Gross is accused of committing crime of: "Actions against the independence or territorial integrity of the State." In accordance with Article 91 of Cuba's Penal Code, the public prosecutor’s office has requested a sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

This information was forwarded by way of diplomatic channels to the United States Government, which was also notified that Mr. Gross’s consular representatives, his relatives and family attorneys may attend the trial.

A Cuban Doctor in Kenscoff Heights

From Haiti

by Juan Diego Nusa PEÑALVER, special reporter, Granma, 24 February 2011.

Cuban doctor Dinora Lahera Portuondo will never forget Haiti. A few days short of completing a two-year medical mission in Haiti, this strong-charactered woman, who becomes shy in front of a tape recorder, recalls the overwhelming challenges she has faced like the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010; something she wouldn’t like to relive. The post-earthquakes emergencies and the cholera outbreak together with diseases she had only seen in medicine books have marked her daily life in the Caribbean island.

Her professional work has been focused on the health of low-income people in the Kenscoff community (52,000 inhabitants), twenty-five kilometers South East of Port-au-Prince. Kenscoff is located on a deforested mountain 1,400 meters above the sea level with a particular climate where very low temperatures prevailed.

When the Granma newspapers team arrived at her office, Lahera was treating Gillen Jean for vaginal infection. Afterwards, she saw children Paul Richarson, 14, and two-month-old Félix Frantz, for acute respiratory infection.

There are 30 or 40 patients in the waiting room as we speak. She explains that medical needs have been mounting in Haiti for years and it is too difficult to solve all of them in a few years.

She is assisted in her office by doctors Niels Alfredo Nastares, from Perú, and local Lourdes Philippeaux, both graduated from the Latin American Medicine School in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Dinora is in charge of the only welfare facility, a clinic, of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health Care on that mountain. She can be seen everyday very early in the office or going up and down the hills visiting the humble houses where she relieves the suffering of Haitian families.

She says that Kenscoff has a strong middle class who can pay for treatment in private clinics, but there are many of its inhabitants who cannot afford their basic needs. Sometimes they cannot even pay the 25 gourdes (almost 50 cents of a U.S. dollar), fixed by the Public Health Care Ministry for the clinical record of the patient.

"I’ve experienced the material and existential shortages of the Haitian people," she says.

She recalls the harsh circumstances in which she had to provide assistance to the people displaced by the earthquake in the Bele I and II camps in Port-au-Prince; the long, post earthquake emergency shifts at the camp hospitals, and the medical assistance provided in Ka-Fu-Fey and Fond Verrettes. "Fond Verrettes is a rural zone close to the border with the Dominican Republic, in which I saw extreme poverty, as I’ve never seen before," she says.

She also commented the challenge of learning Creole from the Haitians that work in Dominican territory, and the cholera outbreak in the Archaie community in the West region of the country.

Comforted by her love for her thirteen-year-old son Carlos Alberto Quesada Lahera, now an eighth grader, and for her husband Eusebio Betancourt Pérez, a technician at the ETECSA telephone company in her hometown in Guantánamo; the doctor says that after her work in Haiti she will never be wrong when diagnosing cholera, malaria or typhus, diseases she had previously seen only in books.

She asks this reporter to mention how affectionate the Haitian people can be and her devotion to baseball. Although from Guantanamo, she ended the interview by expressing her support for the Santiago de Cuba baseball team to win the current series.

Bank of ALBA begins fourth year

Bank of ALBA, a Financial Institution for Regional Integration
by Waldo Mendiluza, 7 February 2011.
Source: Prensa Latina.

As the result of efforts for regional integration and social development, the Bank of the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, began its fourth year of operations with ambitious projects to create a new financial architecture, a new way of doing banking.
With the objective of reducing asymmetries, the institution founded in 2008 by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is promoting the so-called "Gran Nacional" or Great Nation projects, which by their very name, are distant from the transnational banking corporations.

"The Bank of ALBA is distinguished from the traditional way of doing banking, because its purpose is social investment for eradicating poverty and inequality, the bank's executive secretary, Venezuelan Amenothep Zambrano, explained to Negocios en Cuba magazine.

To that end, the bank will allocate more than 30 million USD in 2011 for education, culture and health projects, Zambrano said.

The Bank of ALBA is also financing Gran Nacional projects in telecommunications, food, the environment, tourism and energy. Some of these very important projects include democratizing information and communication technology, the reforestation depredated areas, and the development of renewable energy sources, Zambrano told Negocios en Cuba.

In the case of food, the bank is supplying 50 million USD. Based on that fund, the ALBA hopes to boost production of agricultural supplies, such as seeds, fertilizers, bio-pesticides, and equipment and irrigation systems.

"We have many expectations around this project, because the investment is beginning to produce its first fruits, with a list of pharmaceutical products that can now be manufactured at low cost to the benefit of traditionally marginalized people of the region," he said.

Solidarity with devastated Haiti is also present in the Bank of ALBA, via a 50 million USD reconstruction fund.

"We have here a new kind of financial institution, which seeks regional integration and places the well-being of human beings and the reduction of inequality at the top of its agenda," Zambrano said.

Its education initiatives have achieved recognized success, such as the literacy campaign, which has benefited more than three million people in the region, he said.

Ecuador and Nicaragua are receiving support for their efforts to become illiteracy-free, and Bolivia is being assisted with its post-literacy and other projects for increasing education battling school drop-out rates, the official said.

Culture will also be at the center of integration policies this year for the ALBA, created in December 2004 by the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

The Bank of ALBA is financing programs that boost the unity of creators, artists, intellectuals, institutions and social movements, as opposed to alienating pseudo-cultural currents, he said.

Repression of teachers in Honduras

According to JASS (Just Associates), 'the teachers’ movement, whose membership is approximately 80% women, has been protesting a series of state‐sponsored attacks on public education in Honduras, including the privatisation of a teachers’ pension fund from which millions of lempira have been raided. The teachers’ unions are demanding the return of these funds and explanation of how they have been spent. In addition, the teachers’ movement is protesting the Administration’s proposed General Law of Education, which would privatize pre‐kinder, kindergarten and high school education.' This repression of teachers protesting against the privatisation of education, is part of a policy of persecution promoted by the Honduran government, paramilitary groups and death squads against opponents of the 28 June 2009 coup d'etat, when hooded men kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya, took him by force to Costa Rica and put in power Roberto Micheletti. Elections later put Lobo in power. The US imperialists backed the coup all the way behind the scenes, while publicly mouthing opposition to it - RATB.

The school year begins with repression
by murielsoy, 21 February 2011,

Repression against teachers. This is the reply given by the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa to professional teachers: through police repression in La Ceiba, Atlántida and [Rio] Guasaule in the south of the country.

Teachers who were demanding respect for the Teachers’ Statute, were protesting the cancellation of wages to more than 5 thousand of its members and against the privatization of education, held peaceful demonstrations today and were again attacked with tear gas, beaten, and illegally detained.

The preventive police armed arrested and put down today the teachers who were protesting peacefully in the city of La Ceiba with batons, tear gas, firearms and any device that will serve as a weapon.

According to a report, about 30 teachers were arrested at about 11 am by the police and evicted from the Danto School with tear gas and clubs. Most of those detained are women, who apart from suffering the effects of pepper spray and tear gas, were brutally beaten, presenting several of them body injuries.

The protest involved about 350 teachers in the Atlantic region. After violently evicting them with tear gas, the police chased those who had fled the area throughout the neighborhood.

In order to get the protesters, police could be seen jumping walls, stopping vehicles circulating the area to cross the street, and tracing the whereabouts of any teacher. Before the assault, which was brutal, teachers could not defend themselves because the police in La Ceiba used their artillery to violently attack them.

Teachers union leader Professor Luis Sosa was brutally beaten by the Honduran police force, 20 August 2010.

The general coordinator of COFADEH, Bertha Oliva, contacted an officer named Fúnez, who said there were no injured protesters, but this human rights organization has credible information that at least a dozen teachers were brutally beaten.

Teachers have bruise marks on their arms and other parts of their bodies as a result of the blows received by the police at the time of arrest.

List of detainees in La Ceiba:

Concepcion Reyes Cenia
Cinthia Ruiz Díaz
Roxana Velásquez
Aura Estela Pory
Julia Bobadilla
Felipe Valladares
Carmen Zelaya Fúnez
Evelin Lizeth Contreras Lazo
Idalia Sanchez Cubas Dinora
Telmo Chirinos
Brenda Flores
Marta Lidia Mendoza
Clarisa Rodriguez
Maradiaga Lohany
Ivis Reyes
Germain del Cid
Arely Delma Arzu
Salgado Delsy
Nidia Maldonado
Carmen Antúnez
Maritza Julia Deraz
Magdaleno Hernández
José de la Paz Korea
Sofia Mejia
Saul Mejia
Ana Patricia Mendoza
Luis María Cruz Díaz
Geovanny René Molina
Filiberto Hector Argueta
Conrado Ramos Cornejo Zavala

Original SOURCE:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

NATO plan to occupy Libya

Reflections by Comrade Fidel: THE NATO PLAN IS TO OCCUPY LIBYA
by Fidel Castro Ruz, 21 February 2011.
Source: CubanDemocracy blog

Oil has become the principal wealth in the hands of the great Yankee transnationals; through this energy source they had an instrument that considerably expanded their political power in the world. It was their main weapon when they decided to easily liquidate the Cuban Revolution as soon as the first just and sovereign laws were passed in our Homeland: depriving it of oil.

Upon this energy source today’s civilization was developed. Venezuela was the nation in this hemisphere that paid the highest price. The United States became the lord and master of the huge oil fields that Mother Nature had bestowed upon that sister country.

At the end of the last World War, it started to extract greater amounts of oil from the oil fields of Iran, as well as those in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the Arab countries located around them. These became the main suppliers. World consumption progressively increased to the fabulous figure of approximately 80 million barrels a day, including those being extracted on United States territory, to which later gas, hydro and nuclear energies were added. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, coal had been the basic source of energy that made industrial development possible, before billions of automobiles and engines consuming the liquid fuel were produced.

The squandering of oil and gas is associated with one of the greatest tragedies, not in the least resolved, which is suffered by humankind: climate change.

When our Revolution arose, Algeria, Libya and Egypt were not yet oil producers and a great part of the abundant reserves of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and the United Arab Emirates were still to be discovered.

In December of 1951, Libya becomes the first African country to attain its independence after WW II, during which its territory was the stage for important battles between the troops of Germany and the United Kingdom, conferring fame and glory on Generals Erwin Rommel and Bernard L. Montgomery.

Ninety-five percent of its territory is completely made up of desert. Technology permitted the discovery of vital oilfields of excellent quality light oil that today reach one million 800 thousand barrels a day along with abundant deposits of natural gas. Such riches allowed it to reach life expectancy that is almost at 75 years of age and the highest per capita income in Africa. Its harsh desert is located over an enormous lake of fossil waters, equivalent to more than three times the land area of Cuba; this has made it possible to construct a broad network of pipelines of fresh water that stretch from one end of the country to the other.

Libya, which had a million inhabitants when it attained independence, today has somewhat more than 6 million.

The Libyan Revolution took place in the month of September of the year 1969. Its main leader was Muammar al-Gaddafi, a soldier of Bedouin origin who, in his early years, was inspired by the ideas of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Without any doubt, many of his decisions are associated with the changes that were produced when, as in Egypt, a weak and corrupt monarchy was overthrown in Libya.

The inhabitants of that country have age-old warrior traditions. It is said that ancient Libyans were a part of Hannibal’s army when he was at the point of destroying Ancient Rome with the troops that crossed the Alps.

One can agree with Gaddafi or not. The world has been invaded with all kinds of news, especially using the mass media. One has to wait the necessary length of time in order to learn precisely what is the truth and what are lies, or a mixture of events of every kind that, in the midst of chaos, were produced in Libya. For me, what is absolutely clear is that the government of the United States is not in the least worried about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate in giving NATO the order to invade that rich country, perhaps in a matter of hours or a few short days.

Those who with perfidious intentions invented the lie that Gaddafi was headed for Venezuela, just as they did yesterday afternoon on Sunday the 20th of February, today received an fitting response from Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolás Maduro when he literally stated that he was “wishing that the Libyan people would find, in the exercise of their sovereignty, a peaceful solution to their difficulties, that would preserve the integrity of the Libyan people and nation, without the interference of imperialism…”

As for me, I cannot imagine that the Libyan leader would abandon his country; escaping the responsibilities he is charged with, whether or not they are partially or totally false.

An honest person shall always be against any injustice being committed against any people in the world, and the worst of all, at this moment, would be to remain silent in the face of the crime that NATO is getting ready to commit against the Libyan people.

The leadership of that war-mongering organization has to do it. We must condemn it!

The Havana Club war

by Roberto F. Campos, 20 February 2011.
Source: The

As with other high-quality Cuban products such as tobacco, for several years this rum has had to face attacks from foreign firms that discredit it in order to buy its legitimate ownership of the brand.
The most recent example of this battle is the case of Havana Club in Europe that has beat the competition to win the Island’s trademark, which guarantees consumer protection.

At the start of the year, this Cuban rum won a new victory in the latest round of the battle against the attempts of the Bacardí brand to take over its competitor in the most disloyal manner possible, as European legal sources testify.

On this matter, The High Court of Spain confirmed the ownership of the Havana Club Cuban rum and the joint venture with Pernod Ricard, expressed in the Cuban rum company’s official statement. The statement explains that for the third time, the court rejected Bacardí’s attempt to dispute the ownership of the famous brand of Cuban rum. The High Court of Spain upheld the ruling on 3rd February, by affirming the Cuban Havana Club’s ownership of the brand in the Iberian country.

Joint Venture’s ownership was confirmed by the Court of First Instance in 2005 and made an appeal to the Madrid division of the High Court in 2007. The Legal Director of Pernod Ricard, Ian Fitz Simons, expressed his pleasure at this new decision and criticised the deliberate attempt by rival Bacardi to take advantage of the success of the Cuban brand.

Havana Club International was established in 1993 as a joint venture between Cubaron and the French marketing company, Pernod Ricard, which, since then has had excellent results in the global market. Lawyers claim that this decision confirms the view that Bacardí abandoned the brand over 30 years ago.

The Director of Pernod Ricard in Spain, Philippe Coutin, added that this decision will allow continued development of the authentic Cuban rum in that European country. Havana Club is a well known brand in Spain and is registered in over 120 countries around the world and has become one of the most profitable companies in the spirits industry. These products make up the second international brand of rum in the world (excluding the U.S.A) and also ranked third in the IWSR premium brand list.

Quality, its guarantee
This Cuban rum is among the fastest growing in the world with double digit increases every year since the 1993 Joint Venture, (Cuba Ron Corporation and the Pernod Ricard Group).

Havana Club sales reached 3.5 million nine litre cases in the fiscal year ending June 2010. In 2009, it was ranked 23 in the Impact Top 100 (Impact database of international brands of premium spirits.) The company is registered in Havana and exports to 124 countries worldwide, with the exception of the United States, where Cuban products are banned due to Washington’s trade and political restrictions.

Pernod Ricard is the co-leader in the wine and spirits world with consolidated sales of 7.81 billion euros in 2009-2010. Created in 1975 by the merger of Ricard and Pernod, the Group has undergone sustained development, based on both organic growth and acquisitions: Amongst which are Pernod Ricard, Seagram (2001), Allied Domecq (2005) and Vin and Sprit (2008).

Pernod Ricard holds one of the most prestigious brand portfolios in the sector: Absolute Vodka, Ricard pastis, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum.

They also add Beefeater gin, Kahlúa and Malibu liqueurs, Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagnes, as well Jacob’s Creek, Brancott Estate, the wines Campo Viejo and Graffigna to their list. The prestigious company employs 18,000 people based in 70 markets worldwide, and their executives are highly committed to sustainable development policies as well as promoting responsible consumption. This strategy is supported by three values for its expansion, entrepreneurship, trust and ethical sense; these are the values that are upheld in its legal battle.

Still growing
As it is under constant demand, Havana Club Cuban rum witness increased sales at the end of 2010 its spokesmen stated. Sergio Valdez, the export manager of Havana Club International SA, said that despite the global economic crisis, business is increasing its market presence due to high quality of the product. However, trade was slightly affected because in 2009 the number of boxes sold reached 3.3 million as opposed to 3.4 in the previous year.

At the end of 2010, the figures are that 3.5 million cases of Havana Club were sold, what shows the impact of this brand on the international market. This means that since 1993, when it signed a joint venture with France’s Pernod Ricard, the statistics show a consistent rise in sales.

Despite the slight downturn, in 2009 the Cuban rum company experienced a growth of 13% and the company's at 23 in the top 100 list in publications related to this field, therefore Havana Club has already reached the worlds’ top 25.

A new addition has appeared on the market in the form of a new rum, “Selección de Maestros”, the only one of Havana Club’s spirits that has 45% alcohol, (aged in white oak barrels), and will be limited to a production of 30,000 bottles at 40 euros each. This new recipe is the result of the countries’ rum masters’ efforts and appeared last October at the Duty Free market in Cannes, France.

Today, Havana Club Cuba exports more than 148 countries and hopes to expand its business to other markets such as China and Brazil, the former does not have a widespread market in rum and the latter is a producer of this type of spirit. (PL)

Roberto F. Campos: Journalist for the Economic Edition Journalist, specializing in tourism. (Translated by Betty Poku – Email: bettymarilyn[at]

Download the Boycott Bacardi leaflet - RATB.

ALBA London Conference January 2011

Some of the presentations from the first ever academic international ALBA conference held at the London Metropolitan University are available here. - RATB.

CONFERENCE: ALBA and the future of regional integration 29/01/11.

A one day conference on the importance and future prospects of the Alianza Bolivariana Para los Pueblos de Nuestra America (ALBA) in terms of regional integration in the Caribbean and Latin America...The papers from the conference will be published in September.

Cuba provides Venezuela electricity know-how

Source:, 25 January 2011.

Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas met with Electric Energy Minister Alí Rodríguez Araque Monday in Caracas to assess the state of 23 one-year old cooperation agreements on electricity, and to announce new projects.

Cabrisas was accompanied by Vicente Delaó, general director of Cuba’s Unión Eléctrica.

New projects include construction of an assembly plant for transformers and the creation of a “Latin American Institute for Energy Research and Studies” to train experts and technicians. The transformer plant could include additional partners who would like to assemble their products in Venezuela and export to other member countries of the ALBA trade and integration agreement, Rodríguez said.

Cuba last year provided and began to deploy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of generator clusters in Venezuela, helping the South American country overcome a power shortage. Under a separate, $280 million, agreement expected to conclude in July, Cuba is also refurbishing old thermoelectric plants. “Many” of the Cuban projects are “80 to 90 percent complete,” Rodríguez said, according to a press release by the Venezuelan electricity ministry.

The Venezuelan government just announced it plans to invest $21 billion to strengthen electricity generation, transmission and distribution in the greater Caracas area. The four-year investment program would increase the country’s generation capacity by 15,000 mw, or more than one-third. Some 7,000 mw would be gained by refurbishing existing capacities.

After the meeting with Cabrisas, Rodríguez mentioned a 50-mw unit Cuban engineers refurbished in an existing power plant at Las Mayas, in Miranda state near the capital. Work on the unit, mothballed for 20 years, began in March 2010 with 22 Cuban and 27 Venezuelan technicians. Cabrisas and Rodríguez toured the plant Jan. 22.

Cuba “has gained formidable experience in the maintenance and rehabilitation of electric installations,” Rodríguez said after touring the plant, according to Venezuela’s El Mundo.

The electricity minister suggested that Cuban engineers and technicians will provide troubleshooting services.

“The participation of the Cuban compañeros in Venezuela has had the great virtue that they already act, together with us, as one team,” Rodríguez said, according to the press release. “They’re present where problems arise that need to be corrected, aside from the plans that have progressed in a sustained way.”

Sunday, 20 February 2011

RATB Film show: Listen to Venezuela

Deirdre O’Neill and Mike Wayne will attend and
take part in a Q&A at an RATB screening of Listen To Venezuela on 27 February 2011 at 2pm in the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester, UK, M2.

Venezuela: revolution mobilises after disastrous floods

by Sam McGill.
Source: Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI), no. 219, February/March 2011.

Despite disastrous flooding across the region, the socialist government in Venezuela has continued to push forward the Bolivarian Revolution through land and other expropriations, and by developing popular participation in tackling the housing crisis. Floods and landslides affected over 40% of the country, leaving 138,000 Venezuelans homeless and killing 35 people. In response, Venezuela’s National Assembly approved an enabling law on 15 December 2010 allowing President Hugo Chavez to enact decrees related to flood recovery independently of the National Assembly. These powers are limited to a maximum period of 18 months; Chavez has said that he will return these powers to Congress in May.

Enabling laws have been used many times by previous presidents in Venezuela. They can be modified or rescinded by the National Assembly, or revoked by citizens if 5% of voters request a referendum. Despite this, Venezuela’s opposition and the international media have rushed to condemn Chavez as a ‘dictator’ and the emergency measures for flood relief as a ‘totalitarian ambush’ and ‘brutal attack ...against democratic life’ (the opposition Tal Cual newspaper). Such lies were freely repeated by The Independent, The Economist, and the BBC. Opposition leaders from the Democratic Table of Unity met with the General Secretary of the Washington-based Organisation of American States, Jose Insulza, on 12 January, demanding that it intervene in Venezuela to ‘re-establish normality’. With the increased Republican representation in the US Congress, there have been fresh calls for sanctions against Venezuelan oil.

These threats have not deterred the revolution even though the floods have worsened the housing shortage, now estimated to be between 2-3 million new homes. The government calculates that a minimum of 135,000 to 200,000 new homes are needed per year to address the crisis. With the new executive powers, Chavez has set up a 10bn Bolivar (US$2.3bn) emergency fund, including $500m recovered from frozen US accounts, deposited in 1999 following an IMF demand under a Macroeconomic Stabilisation Fund. Venezuela repaid its debts to the World Bank and cut off all ties with the IMF in 2007.

Although the enabling law has allowed the government to respond rapidly to the floods, urban land activists and tenants associations have also organised communities locally. 165.4m Bolivars (US$ 38.5m) has been granted from the Popular Power Fund for the development of five housing projects across Caracas to be run by ‘Pioneers of New Socialist Communities’, committees of homeless families who have set up camps on unoccupied land.

Future decrees are expected to extend agricultural credits to rebuild food production and to reconstruct flood-affected rural zones, and housing laws that Chavez states will ‘guarantee the right to adequate, safe, comfortable, and hygienic housing’. Two private companies, Sanitarios Maracay, a toilet manufacturer, and Venezuelan Aluminium, have been nationalised to control the production necessary for reconstruction. Several private golf courses may be expropriated for housing. Venezuela has also received international solidarity including 6,900 tons of cement from Cuba, which has further promised to send 500,000 square metres of concrete roof tiles, 200,000 metres of ceramic tiles and other material for flood refugee centres.

New Year, new National Assembly, new challenges
The new National Assembly was sworn in on 5 January 2011. The opposition coalition of the Democratic Table of Unity now has 65 seats compared to 96 taken by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. To consolidate the Bolivarian Revolution, the outgoing National Assembly approved laws which will rein in private finance, prevent the formation of financial groups and prohibit banks from having an interest in brokerage firms and insurance companies. It also approved a group of five ‘popular power’ laws promoting decentralisation of power, collective property and self-government.

Crucially, the outgoing National Assembly passed the Defence of Political Sovereignty and National Self Determination Law making foreign funding of political organisations illegal (as in the US) and allowing the expulsion of any foreign citizens involved. This is key to limiting imperialist interference in Venezuela. In 2010 the FRIDE Institute published US State Department documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act. Agencies including the United States Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as the European Commission, were found to be pumping an annual $40-50m to Venezuela’s opposition parties and media to bring down the Bolivarian Revolution.

They will not succeed!

Chevron's dirty fight in Ecuador

Source: The Independent.
By Guy Adams, 16 February 2011

The giant oil corporation has been fined $8.6bn for an environmental disaster that has been called 'the Amazon's Chernobyl'. But guess what? It may end up paying nothing

No regrets, no apologies and not a penny in damages. The US energy giant Chevron came out fighting last night after a court in Ecuador ordered it to pay $8.6bn (£5.3bn) in fines and clean-up costs, plus $900m reparations, to the victims of oil pollution that fouled a swathe of Amazon rainforest along the country's remote north-eastern border. The sum was the largest ever levied in an environmental lawsuit anywhere in the world.

Supporters of the indigenous villagers who brought the case said they were celebrating a landmark victory in the wider battle to hold multinational corporations to account for their conduct overseas.

Chevron will not be admitting defeat, however. Its lawyers, who have already spent 18 years and tens of millions of dollars contesting the lawsuit, pledged yesterday to appeal against the fine through every conceivable legal avenue, on at least three continents. In statements, the oil company branded Ecuador's legal system corrupt and "illegitimate", and said the court's ruling formed part of a vast "extortion scheme". A spokesman for Chevron claimed that the fine, imposed by a judge in the town of Lago Agrio, was "unenforceable in any court that observes the rule of law".

Chevron's lawyers have already filed appeals and counter-suits related to the case in six US courts. The company no longer has assets in Ecuador, so it intends to force the plaintiffs to pursue it internationally if they wish to see any of the damages. Chevron is also attempting to take the case to arbitration at a tribunal in the Netherlands.

A New York judge, Lewis A Kaplan, took the extraordinary step last week of pre-emptively blocking any financial judgment against the US-based company, anywhere in the world, for at least 28 days. He suggested that attempts to collect Chevron's assets might disrupt the day-to-day business of a company that was vital to the global economy.

That the dispute has reached this heady stage is hardly surprising, given both its enormous complexity and the vast amounts of money now at stake. The case stretches all the way back to 1964, when Texaco entered a partnership with Ecuador's state oil company, Petroecuador, to extract oil from the country's remote Oriente region.

During almost 30 subsequent years of exploration, billions of gallons of waste oil and water were dumped into open pits, fouling fishing grounds, damaging crops, killing farm animals and leading to an increase in cancer cases among residents of villages in the region. So severe was the damage that the fallout has been widely described as "the Amazon's Chernobyl". Experts appointed by the Ecuadorean courts have calculated that the pollution from the oil wells killed at least 1,400 people.

When Texaco pulled out of the country, in 1992, it agreed to spend roughly $40m cleaning up some of the damage. Shortly afterwards, the first version of the current lawsuit was filed against Texaco in New York by lawyers representing 47 named residents of the region.

In 2001, Texaco was bought by California-based Chevron, which became America's second-biggest oil firm but inherited the still-ongoing lawsuit in the process. In 2003, its lawyers successfully argued that the case should be heard in Ecuador. It has taken almost eight years for it to come to court. In that time, the fate of the 47 plaintiffs, who are seeking damages for 30,000 fellow members of their community, has become an international cause célèbre, gaining the support of Hollywood stars such as Darryl Hannah. The lawyer who represents the residents, Pablo Fajardo, won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2008 for his work on the case.

Mr Fajardo called Monday's 188-page ruling, which will roughly double the £5.75bn fine if Chevron does not admit wrongdoing in the next 14 days, a "triumph of justice", saying he was only disappointed that the level of damages wasn't higher. "Today's judgment affirms what the plaintiffs have contended for the past 18 years about Chevron's intentional and unlawful contamination of Ecuador's rainforest," he added. "Rather than accept that responsibility, Chevron has launched a campaign of warfare against the Ecuadorean courts and the impoverished victims of its unfortunate practices."

Despite its earlier efforts to have the case held in Ecuador, Chevron now claims that the local court system is institutionally corrupt. Using undercover investigators with hidden recording devices, it claims to have found proof of illegal collusion between the plaintiffs and the judges. "The evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs' lawyers is overwhelming," said a spokesman. "We intend to see that the perpetrators of this fraud are held accountable for their misconduct."

Analysts think it unlikely that Chevron, which reported earnings of $19bn last year, will agree to pay any damages, since the cost of continuing to appeal is far less than the amount it would have to pay to settle. However, the row may be taking some of the gloss off its performance: while shares in BP and Shell rose yesterday, Chevron's stock was down by about 1 per cent in early afternoon trade in New York.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

50 years of immunisation in Cuba

50 years of immunization in Cuba: A revolution in health

Tens of thousands of lives saved and disabilities avoided as a result of vaccination programs and campaigns

by José A. de la Osa
Source: Granma International

• HOW may lives have been saved, and aftereffects of illnesses avoided in these last 50 years as a result of Cuba’s mass immunization programs, today standing at 11 vaccines providing protection against 13 diseases which, together with other preventive programs have made our country at present free of 15 contagious diseases?

"Tens of thousands!" was the response to Granma’s question put to specialists Marlén Valcárcel and Miguel Angel Galindo at a meeting of Health, Epidemiology, and Microbiology professionals headed by Deputy Health Minister Luis Estruch Rancaño.

As officials in the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), they are responsible for the design, control and development of vaccination programs, undertaken by the Revolution as long ago as February 26, 1962.

That day saw the initiation, with popular support, of the first Anti-Polio Vaccine Campaign, which protected more than 2.2 million minors under the age of 15, equivalent to 30% of the country’s total population at that time. Some 70,000 members of the neighborhood-based Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, 1,000-plus Cubans within the National Association of Small Farmers and several thousand members of the Federation of Cuban Women.

The results were quickly visible: three months after the completion of the campaign, the last case of polio was reported in May 1962. That same year saw a vaccination program against five other diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, typhoid fever, and serious forms of tuberculosis.

The issue of immunization was of such magnitude to the Revolution when it triumphed on January 1, 1959, that Fidel, speaking at the inauguration of Havana’s Victoria de Girón Institute of Basic and Preclinical Science in 1962, stated: "How can the Revolution attack diseases? By preventing them through immunization against the types of disease that can be prevented via vaccination. And in this way we will set about fighting disease by disease, thus diminishing the number of epidemics, the number of victims. That will be fulfilling the larger objective of moving from therapeutic medicine to preventive medicine. In other words, avoiding citizens falling sick."

A brief synthesis (see Complete Chronology) demonstrates the colossal effort of a society that has struggled and is struggling for true social justice for its citizens. At the beginning of the 1970s measles became of part of the *immunization program: in 1982, German measles; in 1986, the triple viral against measles, German measles, and mumps; in 1988, meningococcal meningitis B and C; in the 1990s, the hepatitis B vaccine; and in 2000, immunization against type B influenza (an aggressive bacteria that can lead to death or consequences like as mental retardation and deafness in the early years of life) was included in the immunization program.

The Ministry of Public Health also administers other vaccines to groups potentially exposed to leptospirosis; influenza; rabies, both canine and human; and yellow fever, given to Cubans serving on international missions in regions where this disease is endemic.

At present nine of the 15 vaccines used within the immunization program are produced in Cuba, and the remaining six are acquired from pharmaceutical companies abroad.

The Cuban state directs $50 million per year into manufacturing, importing, and acquiring supplies to support the program, which is undertaken via 700 immunization centers throughout the country. •

Vaccination Chronology: 1960-2010

1962: Vaccination against polio and the triple bacterial vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough)
1964: Vaccination centers established in polyclinics for the regular immunization of the population. Immunization levels rise to average of 60%.
1968-69: Immunization campaign against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough; campaigns against tuberculosis and smallpox for minors up to 15 years in rural areas.


1971: Vaccination against measles for children from 6 months to 5 years.
1974: Community Polyclinics created and immunization levels increase to 75-80%.
1975: first National Immunization Campaign against tetanus for homemakers, covering 98%.
1976: Second tetanus dose for homemakers.
1979: In reaction to an increase of Meningitis A and C, three million persons immunized.


1980: Vaccination in schools against typhoid fever, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and serious forms of tuberculosis.
1982: Long-term strategy for protecting girls against congenital rubella (German measles) implemented. (The response to serious epidemics of German measles in 7-year cycles: 1967, 1974, and 1981). Girls aged 12, 13, and 14 vaccinated against German measles during the school year.
1982-83. In subsequent school years: 1983-84, 1984-85, and 1985-86, girls aged 12 immunized, so that by 1986 all females aged 12-17 protected, a total of 50,000-plus by 1986.
1984-85: Anti-tetanus vaccination campaign for the elderly. Third- and fourth-year medical students in a work-study program immunized 200,000 persons aged 60-plus.
1985: Tetanus booster for homemakers and senior citizens, 10 years after the 1975 vaccination program.
1986: As part of the strategy for eliminating the congenital rubella syndrome, an immunization campaign against German measles was carried out, reaching 600,000 women of fertile age (from 18 to 30 years), for a coverage of 75%. At the same time, vaccination of the entire population of less than 15 years with the triple viral vaccine (measles, German measles, and mumps) reaches more than two million people, with 96% coverage.
1988-90: The entire Cuban population under 20 years (close to 3 million) vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis B, the only such program in the world.


1990: Field tests for Hepatitis B vaccine begin.
1991: Meningococcal meningitis B vaccine included in immunization program.
1992: Hepatitis B vaccine included in the immunization program. More than 12 million doses administered. By 2010, the entire population under 31 years protected, as well as other high-risk groups.
1999: Vaccination campaign against Haemophilus influenzae B, for all children born since January 1998, plus those born in 1999.


2000: Vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae B included in the immunization program.
2004: Second dose of triple vaccine against mumps, German measles and measles for children in first grade.
2005: Tetravalent vaccine for protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and Hepatitis B incorporated in the immunization program for infants up to 12 months.
2006: Incorporation of pentavalent vaccine into the program, providing single-injection vaccination against five diseases, now including Haemophilus influenzae B.
2007: Campaign against measles, German measles, and mumps in the population aged 12-24 years, thus protecting one million-plus persons in that age group.
2010: Vaccination against pandemic influenza A (H1N1), during which more than one million persons in high-risk categories related to complications were immunized.

Arturo Hernández’s brilliant career

Arturo Hernández’s brilliant career: defending money launderers, drug & arms traffickers, and terrorists

By Alejandro Armengol,
Source: Cuaderno de Cuba, El Nuevo Herald
Translation: Machetera

Like a Cuban Perry Mason, the attorney Arturo Hernández, who leads the legal defense team for Luis Posada Carriles, has delivered to the court not only what according to him is sufficient proof to dismiss the three charges against his client, but also to solve the crime.

Hernández explained that one of the declassified documents possessed by federal prosecutors contains “alarming revelations” that establish that the 1997 bombings in Havana were ordered by Fidel Castro himself in order to divert attention from the visit of Pope John Paul II. John Paul II visited Cuba in January of 1998.

John Paul II’s visit to Cuba was a triumph for Castro. There were no demonstrations against the government, direct confrontations were almost completely avoided, and the Pontiff did not come with the angry face that characterized his visit with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Castro gained legitimacy at a difficult moment in his political career. It was a moment that the leader meant to imply was a risky one, when in reality all the dangers had always been calculated beforehand. Castro himself had pointed out – before the arrival of John Paul II – that the Polish situation was very different from the Cuban one: communism in the European country had been imposed by Soviet occupation troops and the rejection of Russian socialism was explained in large part by the nationalistic feelings of a profoundly Catholic people – these were his words. It was a frontal attack on a power that had been ceaselessly praised, but that by now no longer existed and therefore was not worth justifying like before.

There’s little sense in the hypothesis that one year prior, a visit that the Cuban leader had prepared for in such detail should be torpedoed by the crude act of placing a number of bombs and seriously damaging the tourist industry that the Cuban government was then engaged in developing.

When the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, visited the island from January 21st through 26th, 2008, on the tenth anniversary of John Paul II’s historic trip to the island, it was known that Fidel Castro had invited the new Pontiff to visit Cuba as well. Bertone visited Cuba in October of 2005, when he was the Archbishop at the Italian port city of Genoa.

On that occasion he spoke with Castro, who asked him to intercede with the new Pope, Benedict XVI, chosen on April 19, 2005, to persuade him to visit the island. Bertone told the Italian magazine Il Consulente that Castro had said to him,”Can you help me? Can you tell the Pope that I’d like to invite him to Cuba? Can you be the emissary for my desire?”

Seemingly then, papal visits are not a problem for Fidel Castro. Aside from Miami, Hernández’s argument would be viewed anywhere else with skepticism. However, Hernández indicated in El Paso that the FBI source, who he claims had information from Cuba’s Interior Ministry, explained that it was planned to pin the attacks on the Cuban exiles, specifically Posada Carriles and the influential Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and that this would serve as justification for the regime to continue its “repression” against Cubans on the island.

Rather, the impression is that this informant stood behind a sum of money and a report pleasing to the ear of US Americans and exiles in Miami. The validity or invalidity of the report is essential, because no other document has been presented to corroborate this testimony. In other words, one is asked to believe blindly what this informant says.

The problem is that then one might also argue that you must also believe what previous informants have said against Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. Those among the Cuban exiles who defend these two believe that these informants lack credibility.

During the trial Hernández himself launched a thorough character assassination against Gilberto Abascal, trying to present him as a shameless liar, a lunatic and more. However, this new informant has simply told the truth.

Arturo Hernández is a lawyer who has said that what matters most for him is to meet two obligations: serving the legal system ethically and honestly, and serving the interests of his client. At his website, he describes how his reputation has grown along with his career as an aggressive attorney committed to maintaining and improving the ethics of his profession. A man who once dreamed of being a writer, and who remains passionate about philosophy began his public practice by defending the petty criminals who arrived in Miami via the Mariel – Key West bridge, also emphasizes at his site that he managed to get many of them acquitted. He then went into private practice where he made a name for himself as a defender of drug traffickers and in high profile cases of money laundering.

However, what has brought him national and international fame is his defense of well-known Cuban exiles who have faced problems with the law, from the former Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernández, to notable anti-Castro exiles such as the businessman Santiago Álvarez, an employee of his named Osvaldo Mitat, and Roberto Ferro, from whom authorities seized an arsenal of 1,400 weapons of all kinds in California. But without a doubt, the apex of his career up until now has been the Posada Carriles case.

Although from the standpoint of legal practice, no ethics complaints whatsoever have been raised about Hernández’s work, I wonder how many in Miami or in other places know that Posada Carriles’ defense is headed by a well-known defender of drug traffickers and those accused of moneylaundering.

What’s certain is that in Posada’s case, the defense is using a number of the usual methods that attorneys rely on in criminal cases of another nature. It’s true that what is really on trial are not simply accusations about an elderly man who lied on his application for U.S. citizenship, and it is also true that Posada Carriles is totally within his rights to seek an aggressive defense when he must face the powerful machinery of a state prosecution, but none of this means that the details of the strategy to liberate Miami’s “patriot” from prison should be ignored.

One example of this is the way the defense has clawed at the voluminous evidence presented by the prosecution, in search of any excuse that might serve in its attempts to have the trial dismissed. Of course this conduct cannot be catalogued as illegal here in the United States, and it is only a repetition of a practice used daily by lawyers in this country. Incapable of proving the innocence of their client, the legal team defending Posada Carriles has devoted itself to turning the trial into a farce or a nightmare, and sowing doubt among the jury.

There’s nothing heroic in this behavior, but as has occurred on other occasions with Posada Carriles, in the final reckoning, the end justifies the means.

Cuba in the WikiLeaks Mirror

An Undying Obsession – Cuba in the Wikileaks Mirror
By Israel Shamir (from, RealCuba blog)

Hundreds of thousands of US State Department documents, in the form of cables from hundreds of embassies and consulates around the world, give us an in-depth picture of American interests and activities such as never before seen. Yet as we peruse cables that chronicle the changing faces of US diplomacy, there is one constant: Cuba.

Everywhere, from Dushanbe in the mountains of Tajikistan to Paris, from Kiev in the Ukraine to Sydney in Australia, American diplomats are busy watching over a small island in the Caribbean Sea with an obsessive malice. Like a professional womanizer who was once rebuffed by a small-town beauty, Uncle Sam can’t seem to get over it. The diplomats monitor all Cuban activities, make note of every Cuban utterance, and report every sighting of a migratory Cuban with the enthusiasm of a birdwatcher. It seems that the US has lost none of its Cold War passion for Cuba.

In far-away Uzbekistan, the US Ambassador is promoting the US case against Cuba and duly reports to Mme Clinton:

“UNCLAS TASHKENT 000524 SIPDIS DEPT FOR WHA/CCA E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PHUM, KDEM, PREL, UZ SUBJECT: UZBEKISTAN/DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH CUBAN PEOPLE REF: SECSTATE 46997 (U) on the margins of a May 5 meeting with Foreign Minister Norov, the Ambassador informed the Uzbek government of U.S. plans to mark solidarity with the Cuban people on May 21. In addition, the Embassy has placed a box in the Embassy newsletter ‘Dostlik’ marking the date and has added a brief statement about it on its web site. NORLAND”

In a few days, the US diplomats “celebrate a day of solidarity with the Cuban people”.“Embassy Tashkent continues to promote and prepare for solidarity with the Cuban people on May 21. We have raised points with appropriate high-level Uzbek officials and have placed information on our website and in our quarterly English and Uzbek languages publication, ‘Dostlik’.”

Now that takes me back to the 1970’s! In Brezhnev’s day, the Soviets were regularly mustered to express their solidarity with “the people of Cuba”, “the people of Vietnam”, “the people of Korea”, etc, and eventually it began to bore us all to tears. The Soviet Union was abandoned largely due to this boredom, and now the Uzbeks (and all the rest) are being offered the same boring dish again, only this time “the people of Cuba” represents little more than the catchphrase of CIA operatives in Miami.

When Uzbekistan established diplomatic relations with Cuba, the US ambassador vented his hurt feelings in a confidential cable. The Ambassador comments: “Uzbekistan has only a minimal diplomatic relationship with Cuba, but we thought it important to make this demarche so our Uzbek interlocutors will see that the US government raises human rights issues around the world, not just with the GOU.”

When a Cuban delegation visited Uzbekistan, US embassy staff snooped like jilted lovers. When the Uzbeks told them to mind their own business, the spurned Ambassador cabled home: “The Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s refusal to discuss this event with the Embassy is particularly laughable. Only a handful of employees work at the America’s Desk, and the same officials who were “unable” to give us any information were likely involved with the Cuban delegation’s visit.” Some guys just don’t understand that “No” sometimes means “No”!

Frozen in time, Cold War ideology and language is still de rigueur in the State Department, as one sees in this cable from Ukraine:

“Ukraine’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (known as the Human Rights Ombudsman), Nina Karpachova was in rare form during the Regions party congress in December. During a feisty speech, she declared that her lowest professional moment had come during the 2005 session of U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, where Ukraine’s Orange government had instructed her to vote “against Cuba, a small island nation that has helped us.” Pressed to explain that comment at a January 16 meeting with Ambassador, during which he passed her information about Cuba’s dismal human rights record, Karpachova launched into a lengthy defense of the Castro regime, praising the dictator for, among other things, curbing illiteracy and running summer camps for Ukrainian children affected by the 1989 Chornobyl disaster. Karpachova even blamed Cuba’s poor economic record on the U.S. embargo, which she advocated lifting.”

The sulky Ambassador still insisted on having the last word. He: “expressed surprise that a representative of a party that purportedly believes in business would ignore the fact that the socialist policies of the Castro regime were the primary cause of Cuba’s economic problems.”

Caught recruiting spies in Bolivia, the US embassy cables Washington: “Fulbright student Alex van Schaick reported to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry February 7 that he had been asked by Post’s Assistant Regional Security Officer to report contacts with Venezuelan and Cuban nationals to the Embassy.” Eventually the Americans apologized and the US diplomat was sent home.

The US continues to exert pressure on the UN to expand the decades-old US embargo of Cuba, but all efforts have been in vain. Every cable dealing with the UN includes these telling words: “On embargo of Cuba we remain isolated.” The US record of brokering UN resolutions against Cuba is even more dismal than their Middle Eastern efforts. Cuba is the one issue Americans cannot get traction on; they are always met with resolutions against their policy.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, the US ambassador coaxed the Azerbaijani foreign minister to support the US embargo, but received this strong response: “On the Cuba Embargo resolution, Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan had been “with the 184 countries.” Mammadyarov said that over 1,000 Cubans had been educated in Azerbaijan during the Soviet period, primarily at the oil academy and international law department, and that there is a large Azerbaijan diaspora in Cuba. Mammadyarov also said that Azerbaijan could not have many embassies in South America because it had so few fluent Spanish speakers, so Cuba was an important element along with Mexico and Brazil. Responding to the Ambassador’s question about what interest Cuba would have in having an embassy in Baku, Mammadyarov said that this would be the first Cuban embassy in the Caucasus, with Cuba having over 145 embassies, mainly smaller one to two person posts.”

In contrast, Armenia, after much prevarication, agreed to support the US, and it was “a grand gesture”, the Ambassador writes.

Diplomatic exchanges with Cuba are routinely met with American sabotage. The US Ambassador in Vilnius proudly reported: “Last year, we succeeded in blunting an effort by some in Lithuania to recognize Cuba.”

Despite continuous American efforts, the cables show that the winds of change are blowing in Cuba’s favor. A secret cable from Brasilia details the US Ambassador’s meeting with a Presidential adviser: “The Ambassador asked what Garcia thought would come of the EU decision to lift its sanctions. Garcia said he did not see Raul Castro giving any type of concession to foreign pressure, and that the EU move was a sign that there is a perception Cuba is changing. He noted that in Brazil, both businesses and the press that had been critical of Brazil’s Cuba policy have changed their tune. Businesses are now interested in investing, and there is less criticism in the press.”

We are working on Spain
After Spanish Minister Dezcallar visited Cuba, he was immediately interrogated by the US ambassador. The cables show that the Spaniard attempted to mollify the Americans by claiming that the trip to Cuba “hadn’t immediately accomplished much for Spain, but said that through its new engagement, Spain would be able to exert influence and push for “Western values” as the Cuban transition advanced.”

Dezcallar urged the American to take the long view, and called for ongoing, and discreet, coordination between the US and Spain. But the ambassador is not placated. In the cables, he “emphasized Washington’s deep disappointment with the trip, which was not only a surprise but even a bit of a spectacle as world power Spain’s FM went to Cuba and came away with nothing. He noted that Moratinos didn’t meet with dissidents, and didn’t even try to correct the record when Cuban FM Perez Roque called the dissidents “mercenaries” in the pay of the US. So much for Spain’s independence!” Their foreign minister is being told off like a schoolboy!

A cable from Poland shows that the US policy of Cuban isolation is quickly eroding: “Szlajfer said there was a serious problem within the EU on Cuba policy. The Spanish had been attempting since 2004 to revise EU policy towards Cuba, saying that the EU’s hard line had brought no results and that therefore there should be a shift towards engagement with both the government and the opposition.”

The Polish government still officially opposes engagement with “the Castro regime” and toes the hard line according to US dictat, but in the cables Szlajfer noted that times are a’changing: “not only Spain, but also France and Great Britain might be playing a different game.” Szlajfer added that their tough line on Cuba had diminished Poland’s influence with these countries and was affecting Poland’s commercial opportunities in the region. Ending the cable on a positive note, Ambassador Fried of the State Department cheered the Poles by assuring them: “We are working on Spain”.

The Czech Republic continues to cooperate with US orders. Like other pro-US outposts in Eastern Europe, they do all they can to isolate Cuba. The US ambassador reports: “The Czechs continue to look for ways to raise support within the EU for a Cuba common position with teeth.” The Czech NGO initiated an anti-Cuban conference and gained a pat on the head in US State Department cables.

Estonia is another obedient client state, and Estonian leaders are always ready to oblige their masters. A confidential cable from Tallinn relays an Estonian condemnation against Spain for being too soft on Cuba: “Kahn [an Estonian diplomat] called Spain’s position, as the new EU President, both “strange and difficult to understand.” Spain is trying to encourage EU states to improve relations with Cuba at the expense of ties with the opposition, according to Kahn. In contrast, Kahn emphasized that the GOE supports engaging the Cuban Government, but only as a means to influence Cuba towards democracy. Estonia cannot accept any policy that forgets about the Cuban opposition. Kahn laid out three elements of Estonia’s Cuba policy: all meetings with the GOC have to be balanced by meetings with the democratic opposition; Cuba must free its political prisoners; and Cuba should be encouraged to undertake reforms providing democracy, free speech and freedom of assembly.

“Khan noted, however, that because the GOE is so far removed from Cuba, and receives the majority of its information about Cuba from the press, that Estonia cannot be as staunch and active a supporter of democratic change as is, for example, the Czech Republic.”

In another cable, the Ambassador of Estonia is interrogated over Cuba:

“5. (C) Did the host country offer or deliver humanitarian or other assistance to the Cuban people in the wake of the major damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav (August 30) and Ike(September 8)? — No.

“6. (C) What is the nature of investments (and names, if known) that host country businesses have in Cuba? What host country businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair (November 3)? – There is no foreign direct investment in either direction between Estonia and Cuba. No Estonian businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair.

“7. (C) Are there any bilateral trade agreements between host country and Cuba? –
There are no bilateral trade agreements between the countries.

“8. (C) Are there any exchange programs between host country and Cuba, including but not limited to: scholarships for host country nationals to study in Cuba; Cuban-paid medical travel for host country nationals; and Cuban doctors working in host country? — There are no official exchange programs between Estonia and Cuba and Estonia.”

Estonians are eager to support US interests and will always side with the US, even against fellow EU members. In a cable, the US representative in Tallinn, Goldstein, “expressed our concern over Spanish FM Moratinos’ visit to Havana in April”. He received a very satisfactory reply: “Estonia fully understands and agrees with U.S. concerns, and has quietly supported the Czech Republic, Poland, and other like-minded EU member states in EU fora. Juhasoo-Lawrence added that Estonia understands dictators such as Castro and what they can do to their people, and does not see any reason to ease up on him now. The EU, she said, is divided on this issue between new and old member states.”

In contrast, Belarus has been much too independent for US tastes. The ambassador in Minsk reports with chagrin: “A delegation from Cuba led by Minister of Government Ricardo Cabrisas visited Belarus and during the visit, the Cuban representative signed an agreement to purchase 100 buses manufactured by the Minsk Automobile Factory (MAZ) and discussed possible purchases of Belarusian farm machinery and trucks.”

The cables note further: “In a July 2007 greeting sent to Fidel Castro on the occasion of Cuba’s “Rebellion Day,” Aleksandr Lukashenko called Cuba ‘Belarus’ main strategic partner in Latin America’. They acknowledge that ‘thousands of Belarusian children from Chernobyl-affected zones who have traveled to Cuba for rest and recuperation since 1991.’”

The ties are political as well. A Minsk cable acknowledges that: “Belarus is actively working to reinvigorate the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and set up Lukashenko as the eventual successor to Cuban leader Fidel Castro as the next ‘Papa’ of the anti-West block. Lukashenko is the ideal anti-globalist leader — he is young (51 years old), energetic, bold, and he sits at the helm of a growing, stable (for now) economy in the heart of Europe.”

Could it be the reason for the US vehement attitude to Belarus? In a fit of green-eyed pique, the US refused to allow Lukashenko to refuel in Iceland as he returned from the 2006 meeting of Non-Aligned States. The American ambassador cabled that he had checked whether Iceland “had received a landing clearance request from Belarusian President Lukashenko, who had reportedly intended to refuel in Iceland on his way to the NAM summit. Gudjonson said Iceland had not, and gave assurances that any such requests would be denied.”

The cable goes on to reveal that “The U.S. and EU imposed visa bans and froze the assets of the most odious GOB officials. When the USG and Canada refused to grant a refueling request to a Belarus delegation returning from Cuba, Lukashenko announced Belarus would respond by refusing overflight clearances to aircraft carrying USG and Canadian official delegations. More recently, the GOB announced it would freeze the assets of President Bush and Secretary Rice in Belarusian banks. These announcements remain ambiguous and even comical” …as they were certainly intended to be.

The Ukraine no longer complies with US demands. A cable from Kiev says that despite the US demarche, a Ukrainian diplomat told the ambassador that “Cuba continues to provide substantial assistance for the “Chornobyl children” [belonging to families affected by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster] “and that Ukraine’s position is to oppose the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. Ukraine would support the EU statement on the annual UNGA resolution introduced by Cuba condemning the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.” In another cable, the Embassy states: “The Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution a few days earlier condemning embargoes on Cuba. Ukraine remains grateful for ongoing Cuban medical assistance for victims of Chornobyl.”

Cuba is renowned worldwide for its extraordinary commitment to help all countries in need, regardless of politics. After an earthquake in Peru, the US ambassador in Peru was forced to admit in a cable: “Cuban assistance has reportedly been targeted and effective, if not directly coordinated with the GOP. Cuba has sent at least two field hospital teams that have offered high-impact quality service, according to observers. At one camp where a U.S. Medrete team had been sent to provide services, a Cuban team had already been set up.”

Cuba is no longer alone. The cables also document that when Bolivian President Evo Morales visited Peru, he “criticized U.S.-Latin American FTAs and called for continued struggle against colonialism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. He also praised Fidel Castro as a ‘father’ and welcomed the presence of Hugo Chavez’s ALBA in Peru.”

Relations with Russia: more profitable business

Russia has not yet succeeded in mending fences with Cuba, but the effort is there:

“Prime Minister Putin called for Russia to rebuild (its) positions in Cuba. The US Ambassador in Moscow reports on several upcoming events between the GOR and Cuba in 2010:

“– Russia will host a preparatory meeting for the April 2010 Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Commercial, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov will participate in the 9th Annual Havana Book Exhibition as a special invited guest. Lavrov will lead a delegation that includes heads of the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Russian Press Agency

“Cuba will host a meeting of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin would likely lead the Russian delegation. Sechin’s last visit to Cuba was in July 2009 and resulted in several agreements, including a $150 million loan for Cuba to purchase Russian agricultural machinery.

“Russia was currently providing humanitarian aid to Cuba in the form of grain shipments, with plans to send 100,000 tons of grain to Cuba this year. Also, the GOR plans to increase the number of scholarships granted to Cubans; 100 Cuban students received scholarships in 2009 to study in Russian universities.”

In a secret/not-for-foreigners (NOFORN) cable, the US Ambassador informs the State Department that: “Russia did not have a preference for working with Raul or Fidel Castro. As a general trend, Cuba-Russia ties were becoming stronger, but that the relationship had not changed significantly since Raul Castro came to power in 2008.”

The cable continued with a report from a Russian academician:

“Cuban President Raul Castro visited Moscow January 28 to February 4, 2009. Raul Castro and Medvedev signed a number of agreements … Russia also pledged two shipments of grain, of 25,000 and 100,000 metric tons, worth USD 37 million. Cuba has agreed to purchase or lease seven Russian-made aircraft. In addition, Kamaz, Russia’s largest truck manufacturer, has agreed to sell its trucks in Cuba and to establish a Cuban assembly plant with Cuba’s Tradex. Russia’s principal exports to Cuba are aircraft, heavy machines, and equipment. Cuba’s principal exports to Russia are sugar, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and cigars.

“Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin negotiated a series of economic cooperation deals with Cuban government officials in Moscow. A Gazprom-led consortium created in 2008 to develop Venezuela’s gas and oil fields signed a cooperation agreement with Cuba Petroleo to jointly work on exploration, production, and refining. Norilsk Nickel agreed to fund exploration of ore reserves in Cuba, with the prospect of mining them in the future. Carmaker AvtoVAZ signed a deal to service its cars in Cuba. Sechin’s extensive role in mid-wifing the Russian-Cuban relationship likely reflects PM Putin’s personal interest in reasserting a Russian presence in the Western Hemisphere.”

Cables also discuss the possibility of: “enhanced military cooperation of Russia with Cuba. Deputy Chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs Andrei Klimov told RIA-Novosti that ‘If America installs antiballistic missile (ABM) systems next to the Russian border, Russia too may deploy its systems in those states that will agree to take them.’ Leonid Ivashov, head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, told RIA-Novosti that the West was creating a “buffer zone” around Russia and that in response, Russia might expand its military presence in Cuba or other places.”

The cables show that the need for support of Cuba is far from over. Americans will do well if they will ask their government to cease squandering their resources in this yesterday’s fight against a small island in the Caribbean.

US terrorist Carriles' lawyer offered to help condemn Cuban 5

Posada Carriles' Lawyer offered services to condemn Gerardo Hernandez in Miami
Source: lchirino

by José Pertierra, South Journal, 16 February 2011.

The prosecution in the case against Luis Posada Carriles revealed that the defendant´s lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, had closely followed the process held in Miami against the five Cubans who have been held in US prisons for over a decade now, according to a document presented in Monday´s hearing.

One of the three prosecutors that took the case the United States vs. Gerardo Hernandez et al said on February 10, 2010 that Posada Carriles´ lawyer had repeatedly contacted the prosecutors of the case against Gerardo Hernandez in 2001, during the course of the process and had even offered his services to help the Miami prosecutors to judge the Cuban.

“… Furthermore, on February 10, 2011, the prosecutors in this case spoke by teleconference with one of the three prosecutors in the 2001 Miami, Florida case of the United States vs. Gerardo Hernandez et al. The Hernandez Prosecutor informed the United States that defense counsel Arturo Hernandez was well-informed about the Gerardo Hernandez trial, and in fact, had contacted the Hernandez prosecutors repeatedly throughout the case to offer the resources of his law practice and other forms of assistance with the prosecution.” the document reads.
Arturo Hernandez also offered the Miami prosecutors other forms of assistance to condemn Gerardo, as the document above explains, which was signed February 14, 2011 by prosecutors T.J. Reardon; Jerome J. and Bridget Behling.

But the document does not explain what other forms of assistance the lawyer offered to judge Gerardo. The case against Luis Posada Carriles will not resume until next Tuesday, though the lawyers and prosecutors met closed doors with Judge Kathleen Cardone today.

Although nothing was revealed about the close-door meeting, it would have probably focused on a petition by lawyer Hernandez to Judge Kathleen Cardone to reject the charges against Posada and annul the process.

Posada Carriles´ lawyer argues, among other things, that the judge should reject the charges against his client because the Cuban inspector that testified last Wednesday may have possibly been someone linked to Cuban counter-intelligence services. But thus far, no one has asked Cuban inspector Roberto Hernandez Caballero about this being certain.

This morning the prosecutors said that the statement of the defense is based on the false argument that criminal investigation and counterintelligence are contradictory fields. They said that in the United States the FBI is in charge of investigating counter-intelligence-related issues and that it is probable that a foreign government assigns counter-intelligence work to its own FBI, they said.

The lawyer of Posada also argues that the case should be annulled because an FBI report dated September 25, 1997 reads that a source told that agency that the government of Fidel Castro had had the bombs go off in Havana that year.

The document presented today at El Paso by the US administration fully discarded the credibility of that source. The government of the United States talked with the FBI agent that wrote the document on September 25, 1997, and he said that he had written the report on some statements made by a badly-informed source that was biased against Cuba, the document reads.
And the prosecution affirms that the agent, whose identity was not revealed, said—following a detailed probe—that the Cuban government had not been involved in any plan to detonate bombs in Havana.

Download the motion by the prosecution revealing that Arturo Hernandez tried to favor the case against Gerardo Hernandez in Miami

El Paso Diary: Day 18 Trial of Posada Carriles

The Inspector From Cuba
By José Pertierra, 15 February 2011.

For the first time in the history of the thorny relations between the two countries, the United States Justice Department used a Cuban law enforcement official as well as the findings of a Cuban investigation to prosecute a former CIA agent who led a decades-long terrorist campaign against Cuba. It's true: the U.S. Government did not charge Luis Posada Carriles with terrorism or murder, but rather with denying that he had murdered and engaged in a campaign of terror. Even so, what is happening in El Paso is historic.

Still pending matters
Judge Kathleen Cardone took the bench at 9:00 a.m. sharp. We were all anxious. Yesterday defense counsel moved to continue the case to better prepare to cross-examine the Cuban witness. The defense also asked the judge to exclude from evidence any documents originating in Cuba. Attorney Arturo Hernández also moved to exclude the testimony of any witness that the United States government brought from Cuba. Judge Cardone promised us a decision on these motions by this morning.

Before convening the jury, the judge asked attorney Arturo Hernández to approach the bench. "Did you receive from the government the transcripts of the witness' testimony in previous cases?" she asked him. "Yes," conceded Hernández, "but the government has not given me the five Diplomatic Notes I asked for," he complained.

Governments customarily communicate officially through Diplomatic Notes and Hernández insisted that he has the right to review the communications between Cuba and the United States. "The five Diplomatic Notes are not relevant to this case," Judge Cardone ruled.

Her patience wearing thin, the judge then turned to Prosecutor Timothy J. Reardon. She asked him if he planned to qualify the witness as an expert. "Colonel Hernández Caballero will testify from his experience—his observations on the scene," he responded. "He is here to establish that the bombing incidents in Havana occurred in 1997 and that he was present at all of the scenes except one," Reardon added.

"And Dr. Ileana Vizcaíno Dime?" asked the judge. "She will testify about the autopsy she performed and the report she wrote," answered Reardon, adding "as well as the photographs from the autopsy." "The autopsy photos are not relevant," objected Posada Carriles' attorney. Hearing this last objection, Judge Cardone lost her patience. "Let me see if I am understanding you," she said with annoyance. "You are opposing having the jury see the photos of the autopsy, because they're not relevant?" she exclaimed, incredulous. "What do you think, Mr. Reardon?" asked the judge.

"This is a serious case," answered the prosecutor. "The photos are relevant, because they corroborate the statement--I sleep like a baby-- that Posada Carriles made to the journalist Ann Louise Bardach of the New York Times," he said.

In an interview that Posada Carriles gave the New York Times on June 17, 1998 in Aruba, Bardach asked Posada about the death of Fabio Di Celmo. "It is sad that someone is dead, but we can't stop...that Italian was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time.'' This morning, Posada Carriles' attorney told Judge Cardone that these declarations to the New York Times were simply innocent "reaction and commentary regarding the death of Mr. Di Celmo."

Attorney Hernández added that he is prepared to stipulate that Fabio Di Celmo died "at a certain time in a certain place, but not as to how he died." He said, "There are no photographs of Di Celmo dying or being autopsied. We only have photos of his cadaver after the autopsy was completed."

Meanwhile, the jury remained in the waiting room without the least idea of what was happening inside the courtroom. The judge finally announced her decision: she would allow the Cuban witnesses to testify and hold in abeyance a decision on the admissibility of the documentary evidence until she could hear testimony about it.

"Are you ready for the jury?" asked Judge Cardone.

With that question, the judge informed the defense counsel that she was denying his motion to continue.

Who is Roberto Hernández Caballero?
The long-awaited moment had arrived. The Cuban witness entered the courtroom. In a light-colored suit, pressed shirt and matching tie, Roberto Hernández Caballero strode confidently toward the witness stand. He is a 47-year-old Cuban law enforcement official who has spent the last 26 years performing criminal investigations on the island.

"My work is similar to that of an FBI investigative specialist," he told the jury in response to the first question that Reardon asked him. He explained that he has "a degree in Legal and Criminal Sciences and is a specialist in criminal investigations." He also confirmed having completed a number of graduate-level studies, including one in fire investigations."

Through his testimony, the prosecutor wants to prove to the jury that bombs exploded in a number of hotels in Havana in 1997, and that they were linked. The prosecution does not want to use his testimony to prove that Posada Carriles placed the bombs or that he sent someone to place them—that will be established by other witnesses and documents.

The bombs of '97
Using several photographs that the Cuban government shared with the FBI in 1998, Reardon asked the inspector from Cuba's Interior Ministry to identify the places where explosions occurred in 1997, beginning with the bomb that exploded in the Aché nightclub at the Meliá Cohiba Hotel on April 12, 1997.

"This hotel is in one of the most populous areas of Havana, in a tourist zone visited by a large number of people. It's a very important hotel, close to the Hotel Riviera," explained the Cuban inspector to the Texans on the jury.

"I went personally to the nightclub at 5:00 AM," testified Hernández Caballero. He explained that when he arrived at the hotel, "the first thing I observed was the huge destruction, especially in the bathroom, and the alarm among the workers." He testified that the explosion had destroyed the washbasins in the bathroom, shattered the urinals and torn through the walls and roof.

Reardon showed the jurors three photographs showing the condition of the Aché nightclub immediately after the explosion. The photos piqued their curiosity. I noticed that when Reardon showed them one of the photographs, some of the jurors tilted their heads. Why? I thought. I then looked at the courtroom monitor. The photo was placed sideways and Reardon scrambled to straighten it. Several of the jurors giggled uncomfortably in a brief moment of levity, in the midst of the evidence of the terrorism that Cuba has suffered for more than 50 years.

Reardon then showed the inspector another photograph and asked him to describe what he saw. The witness pointed to "the crater caused by the explosion."

The explosives expert next to counsel
Posada Carriles' attorney did not remain silent during the direct examination of the Cuban inspector. He raised objection after objection. The judge rejected almost all of them. With an even more strident tone of voice than usual, his interruptions annoyed the prosecutor, but they could not quiet the inspector, who described in detail the crime scenes depicted in the photographs.

Some of the objections from Posada Carriles' attorney seemed ridiculous. For example, attorney Hernández objected to the inspector's use of the words crater and explosion. "He is not qualified to make that evaluation," said the defense counsel.

Remember that yesterday we reported that attorney Hernández complained that he had not been able to find an explosives expert who could help him examine the evidence. A reader of this Diary made a very astute observation, "Why doesn't he get his own client to give him some lessons?" True enough. Posada Carriles is an expert when it comes to bombs. The U.S. Army trained him in the use of explosives at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1962. It would be difficult for Hernández to find a better explosives expert than his own client.

What the witness wasn't asked
The witness was not asked—and the jury does not realize—that Francisco Chávez Abarca confessed to having placed the bomb that exploded in the Aché nightclub in the Meliá Cohiba Hotel in April of 1997. At his trial, he confessed that Posada Carriles recruited him, trained him in the use of explosives, supplied him and paid him $2,000 for each bomb placed. Chávez Abarca said that Posada even "congratulated (him) for the bomb he placed at the Aché." He is now a prisoner in Cuba, serving a 30-year sentence for terrorism. The prosecution wanted to depose him in Cuba, but Judge Cardone would not allow it.

The Cuban inspector went on to describe to the jury in detail the destruction he observed at the Hotel Capri and the Hotel Nacional in July of 1997. "The Hotel Nacional is Cuba's most most iconic hotel, visited by presidents. It's in the heart of the Vedado neighborhood," he testified.

"When I arrived for the investigation, I observed the after-effects: the crater, the broken glass and the area where the telephones had been that was also destroyed by the explosion," said the Cuban witness. The jurors took note and looked at the photos they were shown, including one from an explosion in the Meliá Cohiba Hotel on August 4, 1997 and at the Sol Palmeras Hotel on August 22nd of that year.

The murder of Fabio Di Celmo
But the photo that most impacted the jurors was the one of the lobby and bar at the Copacabana Hotel, shortly after the explosion that took the life of Fabio Di Celmo on September 4, 1997. Fabio was only 32 when he was killed.

The inspector from Cuba pointed to "a very large bloodstain amongst the wicker chairs." He said, "you can see the blood from the person who was wounded by the explosion." He further explained that the photo showed "the bar area, and in the right-hand corner, we can see where the ashcan that was destroyed had been." "Shrapnel from the ashcan was propelled by the explosion," he testified. "This was the main focus of the blast." Reardon asked the inspector to circle the blood pictured in the photograph and then to date and initial the circle. The witness did. The prosecutor asked him to do the same with the spot where the blast occurred.

Reardon waited a moment to allow the jury to take their time examining the photos of the explosion at the Copacabana. No one dared break the silence. The courtroom monitors showed the blood spilled from Fabio Di Celmo at midday on September 4, 1997, and the jurors stared at the photograph in stunned silence.

I thought of Giustino, Fabio's father—and also of Livio, his brother. I remembered the photo of Fabio playing soccer that Giustino proudly displays in the restaurant that carries the name of his son. The restaurant at 17th and J streets in Havana's Vedado district. I must admit that I had to look away from the monitor. It was difficult for me to look at the picture of Fabio's spilled blood.

I looked instead in the direction of the prosecutor's table. The attorneys had a number of blue volumes before them. The black lettering on the white labels read: Caso volcán. I saw the ones marked Volumes II, III and IV. I do not know their contents, but they appear to be the records of the Cuban investigation into the terror campaign waged by Posada Carriles in 1997.

Colonel Hernández Caballero came to testify in El Paso at the invitation of the U.S. Government. He headed the investigation in Cuba into the 1997 bombings. The prosecutors wanted him to tell the jury about the findings of his investigation.

"Giustino was the one who identified the cadaver," Hernández Caballero told the jurors. Hearing the word cadaver hit me in the pit of my stomach. Giustino has always told me that the reason he moved to Havana is because he feels his son's spirit alive there. Fabio loved Cuba, and Giustino has made it his mission to keep his son's memory alive. All Giustino asks for is that justice be done. All of Cuba knows this, but in the United States few people even know his name.

From his prison cell in Colorado, Antonio Guerrero wrote Giustino a poem. In it he tells Giustino, "Even death is full of life, when the cause is worthwhile." It is painful to see Fabio as nothing more than a cadaver. But the photograph of the cadaver bears witness to his murder. A Salvadoran named Raúl Cruz León killed him in cold blood. But Cruz León was only the hired gun. The mastermind behind Fabio's murder was Luis Posada Carriles.

"Posada Carriles prepared the explosives"
On July 1 of last year, Venezuelan authorities captured another Salvadoran, Francisco Chávez Abarca, at the airport in Caracas. He was on an Interpol watchlist, as he was wanted on first-degree murder charges in Cuba. Six days later, Chávez Abarca was sent to Cuba to answer for the murder of Fabio Di Celmo and for a string of bombings at hotels and restaurants in Havana in 1997.

At his trial in Cuba last December, Chávez Abarca confessed that Luis Posada Carriles prepared the explosives that Raúl Cruz León placed in the Copacabana.

"Posada Carriles prepared everything for Raúl Cruz León, and I delivered it," said Chávez Abarca. "With his own hands, Posada also hid the C-4 explosives in the portable television that Cruz León took to Cuba in 1997," he continued. Those explosives were the ones that killed Fabio Di Celmo.

The day after the murder of Fabio Di Celmo, Luis Posada Carriles made a call from Central America to his friend Paco Pimentel who was then living in Venezuela. Cuban authorities have a recording of the call in which Posada told his friend, "Paco, have you been keeping up with everything? You have no idea, three in a row in three hotels in Miramar, all well synchronized and without any possibility of detecting the messenger, and this is just the beginning. I promise you that more messengers are on their way to Cuba to execute new actions."

Miramar is a comfortable neighborhood in Havana. Among its many hotels are the Copacabana, the Chateau Miramar and the Tritón. Three bombs exploded within a few minutes of each other on September 4, 1997 at these hotels. One of them killed Fabio. "All well synchronized," said Posada Carriles in that recorded telephone call the day after.

In June of 1998, in an unprecedented collaboration between the two governments, Cuban authorities provided the FBI with the evidence it had compiled in the investigation conducted by Roberto Hernández Caballero, today's witness in El Paso.

Although Posada Carriles is not on trial for murder, the jurors now know that a series of bombs exploded in Havana's hotels in 1997 and that one of them killed Fabio Di Celmo.

Jurors don't know that Chávez Abarca confessed to recruiting Raúl Cruz León—and that he did so at the behest of Posada Carriles. They also don't know that Posada assembled the explosives and secreted them into Cruz León's television set. They won't learn about Posada's call to Paco Pimental the day after the explosions.

The indictment establishes the parameters of this trial, and it charges Posada Carriles only with false declarations and perjury, yet the truth is seeping out.

Next week jurors will hear Posada Carriles in his own voice, boasting to Ann Louise Bardach and Maria Elvira Salazar, two journalists who interviewed him, that he has no remorse and that he is the mastermind behind the bombs in Havana.

Anyone who heard Roberto Hernández Caballero's testimony today or saw the photos showing the effects of the explosions now knows the reason why the Cuban Five were sent to the United States: to penetrate the extremist Cuban-American groups responsible for a campaign of terror against the island. The FBI knew it from the beginning. So did the White House. Yet the Five were tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and were given long sentences in U.S. federal prisons, while Posada Carriles remains free to enjoy the trappings of a comfortable life in the United States.

Perhaps this case will mark a much-needed turning point. Posada Carriles ought to be in prison and the Five ought to be free.

I learned that Leonard Weinglass, one of the key attorneys for the Cuban Five, is seriously ill in a hospital in New York. Let's send him millions of abrazos. Lenny needs them.

José Pertierra practices law in Washington, DC. He represents the government of Venezuela in the case to extradite Luis Posada Carriles.
Translated by Machetera and Manuel Talens.