Saturday, 27 August 2011

Weekend of action for the Cuban 5!

Over the weekend of 10-11 September 2011, RATB activists across Britain will be organising activities in support of the Cuban 5 as they approach the 13th anniversary of their 'kidnapping' and imprisonment by the US government.

In Manchester on Saturday 10 Sepember, we will be holding a campaign stall with leaflets, petitions and a speak-out in Piccadilly Gardens, city centre starting at 12 noon. The following day we will be showing the new film by Saul Landau, 'Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up' in the Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, starting at 2pm. Make sure you put the film show in your diary, this will be the first time the film has been showed anywhere in the North West.

Free the Cuban 5!
Solidarity With Socialist Cuba!

RATB events you can join in


Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up (2011, Saul Landau), telling the story of the Cuban Five and a half century of hostile US-Cuban relations.

Sunday 4 September, 5pm
The Compass pub, corner of Chapel Market and Penton Street
Angel, Islington, N1

Sunday 11 September, 2pm
Cross Street Chapel
Cross Street, M2

Tuesday 13 September, 7pm
22 Leazes Park Road, NE1

Wednesday 14 September, 7.30pm
Langside Halls,
Shawlands, G4


Saturday 10 September, 12-3pm
In front of the National Gallery. Bring stalls, literature, banners and music.
Trafalgar Square, Central London

Saturday 10 September, 12-3pm
Piccadilly Gardens

Saturday 10 September, 12-3pm
Grey’s Monument
Grey Street, NE1

Sunday 11 September, 1-3pm
Donald Dewar Statue
Buchanan Street, G1

Free the Cuban Five! - Defend the socialist revolution in Cuba

Source: Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) no. 222, August/September 2011.

by Ali Erkaslan

12 September 2011 will mark 13 years since the arrest in Miami, Florida of five Cuban intelligence agents who had infiltrated right-wing terrorist organisations in the United States to help foil terrorist attacks against the Cuban people. They remain incarcerated in US prisons. The campaign for their release is an essential part of the struggle to defend Cuban socialism. In September, Rock around the Blockade will join activists from around the world demanding the release of the Cuban Five.

Government-funded propaganda operation in Miami exposed - Part 1

Source: Reporters for Hire

by Gloria La Riva

More than 2,200 pages of documents obtained through FOIA

In 1998, five Cuban men were arrested by the U.S. government and tried in Miami on charges of conspiring to commit espionage on the United States.

The five men’s mission was to stop terrorism, keeping watch on Miami’s ultra-right extremists to prevent their violent attacks against Cuba. “The Cuban Five,” as they are now known, were convicted after repeated denials by the judge to move the trial venue out of Miami. The U.S. government insisted that they be tried in Miami.

What the Cuban Five and their attorneys did not know during trial was that the U.S. government—through its official propaganda agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors—was covertly paying prominent Miami journalists who, at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution, saturated the Miami media with reports that were highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the Cuban Five.

The presence of Miami journalists on the U.S. government payroll, who purported to report as “independent” press, goes to the heart of the unjust conviction of the Five. The Five were not only victims of a politically-motivated prosecution, but a government-funded propaganda operation as well.

Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for Colin Powell when he was Secretary State from 2001 to 2005, commented about the inability of the Cuban Five to receive a fair trial in Miami:

When the case came to trial, a change of venue was warranted and asked for because no Miami court was going to give the Cuban Five a fair trial, since the city is largely in the hands of some of the very Cuban-Americans and their supporters who've allegedly perpetrated these atrocities on the Cuban people and are prepared to invade the island. But the change of venue motion was denied. And of course the five were convicted.

Wilkerson has called for the release of the Cuban Five.

So, too, has former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who stated:

I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned, there were doubts in the U.S. courts and also among human rights organizations in the world. Now, they have been in prison 12 years and I hope that in the near future they will be released to return home.

Chile: teenager shot dead, over 1,000 people arrested

Source: Prensa Latina, 26 August 2011.

A 14-year old teenager died Friday of a chest wound afer being shot by the Chilean police forces during a mass protest Thursday against the government's neoliberal policies. During the mass rallies, at least 200 people were injured and 1,300 arrested, according to a government official.

The teenager, Manuel Gutierrez, died early Friday morning in a hospital in the capital's neighborhood of Macul, as a result of a large-bore gunshot. Regarding this event, Under Secretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Ubilla, urged Chileans "not to speculate" and "let institutions deal with this terrible case."

Ubilla underlined that Gutierrez' death occurred amid "clashes" and the government will do its best to quickly clarify the case. The official confirmed that more than 1,300 people have been arrested during the nationwide strike and nearly 200, civilians and police officers, have been injured.

WikiLeaks reveal: US and UN officials oversaw integration of ex-army paramilitaries into Haiti’s police force

by Jeb Sprague, 10 August 2011.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Haiti’s unelected de facto authorities, working alongside foreign officials, integrated at least 400 ex-army paramilitaries into the country’s police force, secret U.S. Embassy cables reveal.

For a year and a half following the ouster of Haiti’s elected government on Feb. 29, 2004, UN, OAS, and U.S. officials, in conjunction with post-coup Haitian authorities, vetted the country’s police force – officer by officer – integrating paramilitaries with the goal of both strengthening the force and providing an alternative “career path” for paramilitaries.

Hundreds of police considered loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's deposed government were purged. Some were jailed and a few killed, according to numerous sources interviewed. At the same time, former soldiers from the disbanded Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH), who were assembled in a paramilitary “rebel” force which worked with the country’s elite opposition to bring down Aristide, were stationed – officially and unofficially – in many towns across the country. As part of this, an extrajudicial strike brigade was assembled in Pétion-Ville. It carried out brutal raids (sometimes alongside police), often several times a week, in the capital’s coup-resisting neighborhoods, as documented in a November 2004 University of Miami human rights study. The secret U.S. dispatches detailing the police force’s overhaul were part of 1,918 Haiti-related cables obtained by the media organization WikiLeaks and provided to Haïti Liberté.

CIA forced to release long secret official history of Bay of Pigs invasion

National Security Archive Lawsuit Yields Never-Before-Seen Volumes of Massive Study; Agency Continues to Withhold Volume 5
by Peter Kornbluh, Global Research, 02 August 2011.

Pursuant to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive on the 50th anniversary of the infamous CIA-led invasion of Cuba, the CIA has released four volumes of its Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation. The Archive today posted volume 2, "Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy" (Part 1 | Part 2), classified top secret, which contains detailed information on the CIA's negotiations with Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama on support for the invasion.

"These are among the last remaining secret records of this act of U.S. aggression against Cuba," noted Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the Archive. "The CIA has finally seen the wisdom of letting the public scrutinize this major debacle in the covert history of U.S. foreign policy." Kornbluh noted that the agency was "still refusing to release volume 5 of its official history." Volume 5 is a rebuttal to the stinging CIA's Inspector General's report, done in the immediate aftermath of the paramilitary assault, which held CIA officials accountable for a wide variety of mistakes, miscalculations and deceptions that characterized the failed invasion. The National Security Archive obtained the declassification of the ultra-secret Inspector General's report in 1998.

Volume 2 provides new details on the negotiations and tensions with other countries which the CIA needed to provide logistical and infrastructure support for the invasion preparations. The volume describes Kennedy Administration efforts to sustain the cooperation of Guatemala, where the main CIA-led exile brigade force was trained, as well as the deals made with Anastacio Somoza to gain Nicaragua's support for the invasion. CIA operatives, according to the study, took over diplomatic relations with Anastacio Somoza, pressuring the State Department to agree to loans to Nicaragua as a quid pro quo for covert support of the invasion.

Volume 3 of the Official History was previously declassified under the Kennedy Assassination Record Act; and volume 4 was previously declassified to the CIA historian, Jack Pheiffer, who wrote the study in the late 1970s and early1980s. The Archive will post a detailed assessment of the declassified history, along with two other volumes tomorrow.


vol 1:

vol 2:

vol 3:

vol 4:

Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up Indeed!

Source: The Havana Note
by Lawrence Wilkerson, 11 April 2011.

Several nights ago (6 April), I watched “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” at the West End Cinema in Washington. Six months ago, Saul Landau, the filmmaker, had given me an earlier rough-cut version on DVD that I had watched, but I was not prepared for the final version with all of the added footage gained by Saul’s recent sojourn in Cuba itself and the slap-in-the-face showing on the large screen.

But the added footage from the island and the bigger screen were not all that made the final version more electrifying. It was, all in all, the pro-Cuba aspect of the film that stunned me.

And it was clear that this pro-Cuba aspect was not conjured by the filmmaker but by history. Perhaps, I told myself, I knew much of this history, intellectually, academically. But I had never seen it so graphically put before me, in such a tight, cinematic package that seemed to leap off the screen almost in synch with the beating of my pulse.

The backdrop of the film was the U.S.-Cuba relationship from the 1959 revolution to the present. That relationship was portrayed quite accurately, leaving no doubt why Theodore Roosevelt referred to the island as “that infernal little Cuban Republic” even though TR pre-dated the revolution by a generation-plus. That is chiefly because the one-sided nature of U.S. policy has been the same from 1823 to the present. TR’s remark demonstrated well before the Cuban revolution, well before the dictator Fulgencio Batista, well before the U.S. mob took over Havana, well before Fidel Castro shouted “¡Bastante!” from the Sierra Maestra, well before Jesse Helms displayed his latent racism toward Cubans, just how badly the U.S. had treated its island neighbor since the beginning of our republic. So badly, in fact, that the portrayal of it, however evanescently, by a master filmmaker made one want to weep for his country and its policies. I doubt there was a single person in the audience that night who felt any differently, except perhaps the several Cubans who were present who, indeed, probably wept for el coloso del norte as well but for different reasons.

And then there was the main point, the point embodied in the film’s title.

Clearly shown and vividly documented was the fact that the United States sponsors terrorism. In Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch alone, there are overtones of Osama bin Laden and Aman al-Zawahiri, the nefarious leadership of al-Qa’ida. In the film, Carriles and Bosch as much as tell us this in their own words. Moreover, they seem to rejoice in it, as they live today undisturbed and unmolested in Miami; indeed, as heroes among the ignorant Batista-like refuse whose mother’s milk sustains them. Neither man has even the redeeming feature of religious asceticism that some would argue gives bin Laden and Zawahiri a grudging respect; instead these two terrorists seem precisely what the film depicts, criminal thugs.

Whether it is bringing down a Cuban airliner with more than 70 people on board—including the young people on the Cuban fencing team—or murdering a young Italian man in a Havana hotel, these terrorists appear to take joy in what they have done, declaring in so many words and facial expressions that such deaths are the collateral damage of war. War? Yes, a war waged from the territory of the United States—the state of Florida primarily—and against another sovereign country. A war that continues to this day with the United States doing almost nothing to stop it and, as the film depicts in subtle ways, from time to time even aiding and abetting the terrorists who are waging it.

Once, of course, the dictates and fears of the Cold War afforded a patina of credibility to this war waged from our own shores and against the laws of our own land. As a U.S. soldier for 31 years, I participated in that twilight struggle most of my professional life, so I understood its demands however imperfectly they were sometimes met. But the Cold War ended almost 20 years ago. Not the case, however, with the undeclared war against Cuba.

Perhaps the best cinematic summary of this reality was rendered in the film by none other than the current chairman of the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who declared for all to see and hear that she would welcome the assassination of Fidel Castro. No matter how cynical one may have become, that is an astonishing scene. A U.S. Congresswoman asking for the murder of another country’s leader—a most egregious, unbelievable demonstration of this undeclared war with Cuba.

Most vividly and disconcertingly, however, the film goes on to portray this continuing illegal war through the case of the Cuban Five. These are the five Cuban intelligence agents who, in the 1990s, were dispatched to Florida to help the government in Havana defend itself better in this undeclared war.

We know a little of their story. After infiltrating the Cuban-American terrorists ranks in Florida, they accumulated information about planned terrorist activities against Cuba. Alarmed at what they learned, they informed their government in Havana. That government, itself now alarmed, confided in the FBI, hoping that that law enforcement organization would act on the evidence thus accumulated and break up the terrorists ranks in Florida. Instead, the FBI—no doubt at the prompting of the White House—used the information to identify the five Cuban agents, then arrested them. Afterward they were tried in a Miami Court—like trying an Israeli spy apprehended in Iran in a Tehran court. Surprise, surprise, the Cuban Five were not only convicted, twelve years later they are still rotting in U.S. federal prison with the “worst” of them having been awarded two life sentences-plus.

At the very worst, these five Cubans were “foreign agents operating on U.S. soil”, an offense warranting 18 months in jail under U.S. law. As the film makes quite clear, however, usual U.S. practice—for Russians like Anna Chapman, e.g.—is deportation. Instead, these men still languish in jail. Perhaps had they been sexy, provocative women...?

When the film ended and the short, crisp vignettes came on, interspersed among the film’s credits, the main points were hammered home adroitly by some of the film’s principal characters.

As these characters summed up from the screen, I don’t believe there was any doubt in anyone’s mind in that audience—Cuban or American—who the “real terrorist” in the U.S.-Cuba relationship actually is.

The question that had to be buzzing around in everyone’s mind, however, as they walked out of the theater—again, Cuban and American—was what to do about it?

Just like the failure to close the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, the extension of the draconian provisions of “the national security cover-up” methodology in courtroom after courtroom across America, the civil liberties-usurping parts of the Patriot Act, the military tribunals for the likes of Khaled sheik-Mohammad, and on and on in the litany of dangerous and illegal acts by the U.S. Government in the name of perfect security and corrupt, special interest politics, the affair of the Cuban Five, and all it represents about the U.S.-Cuba relationship, stains the very fabric of our democratic republic.

Recently, a long-serving veteran of the CIA wrote a heavily-redacted yet still extremely eloquent and convincing memoir of his days in that agency, days that included the most intense period of our so-called Global War on Terror during the George W. Bush administrations. Here is one of his final conclusions in that memoir:

“I saw that a few of our leaders, in their insularity and sanctimonious certainty, corrupted the laws and started to corrode our social compact. We can take actions, however, to diminish such men, and that reaffirm our society’s commitment to our principles, our institutions, and the rule of law.”

That is the answer to our question and Saul Landau has taken a powerful action.

Colonel, US Army (Retired) Lawrence Wilkerson is the Visiting Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government at the College of William Mary, as well as Professorial Lecturer in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. His last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army, including as Deputy Executive Officer to then-General Colin Powell when he commanded the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and as Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 and then worked as an advisor to General Powell.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Chávez nationalises gold industry

Venezuela Tackles Illegal Gold Mafias as Chávez Nationalises Gold Industry
by Rachael Boothroyd, 23 August 2011.

This Tuesday military chief Henry Rangel Silva revealed that over 40,000 hectares of land had been recovered and 15,000 people freed from conditions of “slavery” as part of Plan Caura, the Venezuelan government’s anti-illegal mining project.

Silva, Chief of Venezuela’s Operational Strategic Command, is currently head of the anti-illegal mining initiative, formed in 2010 when the Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) were given the task of stemming Venezuela’s growing problem with illegal mining activities in the south eastern part of Bolivar state.

In an interview with state television station VTV, Silva condemned the clandestine mining mafias operating in the region for creating a “system of exploitation” which destroyed the environment and subjected miners to dehumanising conditions, including human trafficking and prostitution.

“Man believed in the legend of El Dorado... delving into the jungle in search of that fortune, an enormous quantity of gold that never turns up for them because although they work their whole lives extracting the mineral and destroying the natural environment, they are also exploited by a system, by mafias which build themselves up around that system, moulding an important and solid structure,” he said.

During the interview the military chief remarked that dealing with the Venezuelan mining problem was no easy task and that it had become a “way of life” for a lot of people who lived in the jungle. Despite this, Silva stated that the FANB had managed to reduce illegal mining activities by 85% in the state of Bolivar, where the practice had existed for 50 to 60 years.

Silva elaborated that mining activity had been particularly harmful to the nation’s river beds and estuaries, as the power of the water had been used to erode the river banks in order to search for gold, leaving the ground totally “destroyed.” This had also had a negative impact on the country’s electricity supply, which is 70% based in hydro-power, said Silva.

Most of the miners that the armed forces found were from Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil and had been enticed by the idea of finding an “El Dorado”. In reality, the miners were being heavily exploited by the mining mafias, who provided the workers with equipment and financing, but who then took the gold and legalised it in neighbouring countries abroad.

“We broached the issue with intelligence work, and we arrived at a military strategy of dialogue, of interaction with the miners, because we were sure that the miner that was in the jungle was not an enemy of the armed forces,” he continued.

“But if the mafias arrive in a particular place, we get there immediately to stop their activities.”

Nationalisation of the Gold Industry
Following his announcement last week that his government planned to “bring its gold reserves home” and to nationalise the Venezuelan gold industry, president Hugo Chávez today officially signed a decree nationalising the industry. The Venezuelan mandate stated that this was the first step in “putting an end to illegal mining activities.”

Chávez also signed a document allowing for the formation of majority state-owned “mixed businesses” for mining exploration and exploitation. These businesses, formed between the state and private enterprise, will “undo the serious effects of the capitalist mining model, characterised by the degradation of the environment, irrespective of national laws, and the attack on the dignity and health of the miners and neighbouring communities,” said the president.

During this week’s ministerial meeting at the Miraflores Palace, Chávez urged the Bolivarian armed forces, miners, and the Venezuelan people to organise in order to make nationalisation “a reality.”

“Without you this would be impossible. I’m calling on the workers in the mining industry to join. This is for you, for the motherland. To fight against old vices,” said Chávez, speaking directly to the workers at Minerven, Venezuela’s General Mining Company.

Following the announcement workers at the company classified the day as “historic” and confirmed that they would set up committees for the defence of the nationalisation process in response to Chavez’s appeal. José Khan, Minister of Mining and Basic Industries, stated that these committees would unify the workers collective efforts and create “new forms of organization.”

“We have to say with pride that this is the rescue of sovereignty. Guayana is a town with more than 300 years of historical experience in gold exploitation, and in those 300 years, we cannot say that the gold was reinvested for the benefit of those who mined it. Each day, it has been an impoverished town, whilst only a few benefited from that exploitation,” concluded Khan.

Venezuela’s Chávez condemns NATO “massacre” in Tripoli, warns of opposition destabilisation plans

by Rachael Boothroyd, 22 August 2011.

This Sunday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez reiterated his condemnation of NATO’s bombing of Libya, amidst international media reports that the Libyan rebels were advancing on the city of Tripoli.

During a press conference, Chávez, who had recently returned from chemotherapy treatment in Cuba, described the actions of the U.S. and certain European governments as a “massacre” and repeated his call for peace for the people of the world.

“The democratic European governments, not all of them, but we know which ones, are practically demolishing Tripoli with their bombs; the supposedly Democrat and democratic U.S. government as well, because they feel like it, simply because they feel like it,” said the Venezuelan president.

Chávez has continuously denounced the NATO-backed intervention in Libya since it began in March, and maintains that the U.S., France, and Great Britain are involved for cynical and strategic reasons, as well as to take advantage of Libya’s oil and extensive gold reserves.

“Today they dropped I don’t know how many bombs, and they are falling in a totally shameless and open way, they no longer even bother to explain anything, falling on schools, hospitals, homes, places of work, factories, agricultural farms, right now at this very moment” continued the president.

For his part, PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) representative Rodrigo Cabezas, denounced the use of ‘criminal force’ by NATO in what he described as a an act of “territorial aggression”. The PSUV legislator also claimed that 5,000 civilians had been killed since the beginning of the conflict and that a similar number had been seriously injured.

Venezuelan Opposition Seeks to “Unleash Violence”
In further statements, Chávez urged the Venezuelan people to ‘neutralise’ the Venezuelan opposition’s plans to destabilise the country, and stated that members of the opposition political forces were trying to unleash violence in Venezuela.

Members of the National Assembly convened a special meeting this Monday to discuss concerns of an opposition attack on the Venezuelan state. PSUV representatives claim that the opposition is trying to “create panic and promote an international intervention” within the South American nation.

Santos Amaral, PSUV representative, remarked that the opposition and their media were currently creating a political climate in Venezuela similar to that of the days preceding the April 2002 coup, during which democratically elected Chávez was temporarily ousted and more than 50 Venezuelans died at the hands of the interim government.

“We (the PSUV) hope that nobody is wishing for, is asking for a Libyan solution to life in Venezuela, one that entails a military attack, that entails death” said PSUV representative Rodrigo Cabezas.

Cuba adopts new economic guidelines to raise production

by Gloria La Riva, 15 August 2011.

Millions participated in meetings to debate policy changes

Cuba’s parliament—the National Assembly of People’s Power—concluded its session in Havana on Aug. 2. The economy was the centerpiece of deliberations. Delegates approved an extensive series of economic and accompanying political measures that have been discussed throughout Cuba since November 2010.

In November, the “Project of Guidelines on the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and Revolution” was published for national debate before its formal presentation at the Sixth Congress of Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC) in April 2011. The consultative process has continued since then.

The objectives of the sweeping proposals are to stimulate the economy and raise production. Some measures are already under way: distributing unused lands for cultivation; decentralizing some state services (beauty parlors, barbershops, tire repair, taxis, and more); reassigning thousands of state workers to jobs in construction, teaching and agriculture and reducing the state work force by tens of thousands more. Opportunities for self-employment and small-scale enterprise have been expanded. Payroll and income taxes will be paid by those engaged in this activity.

Debating the changes were 8,913,838 Cubans—out of a population of 11.5 million—who participated in work and neighborhood meetings to discuss the Guidelines. More than 3 million Cubans commented during the meetings.

Of the original 291 guidelines in the document, 181 were modified and 36 new ones accepted, making a total of 313 guidelines.

Cuban President Raúl Castro said at the National Assembly session, “[W]e can characterize with total certainty the Guidelines as an expression of the will of the people, contained in the policy of the Party, the Government and the State, to update the Social and Economic Model, with the objective of guaranteeing the irreversibility of socialism, as well as the economic development of the country, together with the necessary formation of ethical and political values of our citizens.”

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

US gives asylum to dozens of terrorists and fugitives

by Jean-Guy Allard
Source: Granma, 23 August 2011.

The United States, promoter of the "list of state sponsors of terrorism," whose real purpose is to denigrate nations that reject their policies of domination, has granted asylum to dozens of terrorists, fugitives and swindlers of all types sought by various governments in Latin America.

The website has established, since the beginning of the year, a list of the better known fugitives. Sixty offenders are identified as Latin American fugitives living in U.S. t, most of them with terrorist pasts.

With the Cuban community in Miami, the "File" had to be limited to the most "infamous" terrorists and killers. The overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, supported by Washington, marked the arrival in South Florida of thousands of accomplices of the dictatorship who the CIA then recruited for terrorist operations which were executed and covered up against the Cuban Revolution.

Several authors of terrorist acts that occurred in Venezuela in recent years have also found asylum in the U.S., as well as participants in the murderous conspiracy of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Among others who promoted the use of terror in different countries of the continent and now reside in the United States with the knowledge and approval of the State Department identifies the following characters:

- Alejandro Melgar, leader of the Santa Cruz conspiracy, Bolivian businessman.

- Angel de Fana Serrano, participated in 1997, in the Isla Margarita, in a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Ibero-American Summit. An associate of Luis Posada Carriles, De Fana also conspired to assassinate President Chavez.

- Armando Valladares, an accomplice in the assassination attempt of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and several terrorist acts, was imprisoned in Cuba for planting bombs in shops and resumed his work with the CIA since his departure from the island.

- Carlos Alberto Montaner, lived for several decades on his performances against Cuba. A fugitive from Cuban justice for planting bombs in shops and cinemas in 1960. He was a member of the terrorist network of Orlando Bosch. He owns homes in the U.S. and Spain.

- Gaspar Jiménez, murderer of Cuban diplomat Dartagnan Díaz Díaz, an accomplice of Luis Posada Carriles and sentenced in Panama for terrorism. Based in Miami with FBI protection.

- Guillermo Novo Sampol, a terrorist, an accomplice in the assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, a torturer under Operation Condor, the murderer of two Cuban diplomats in Argentina, an accomplice of Luis Posada Carriles for terrorism and sentenced in Panama. Based in Miami.

- Huber Matos, known for directing terrorist activities. His ties to the Central American drug trafficking world are so well known like of his son, who fled to Costa Rica. Based in Miami.

- Hugo Acha Melgar, financier of the terrorist gang made up of Hungarian and Croatian neo-Nazis who tried to assassinate Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2009 in the Santa Cruz plot.

- Joaquim Chaffardet, ex-director of the Venezuelan secret police, linked to international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. He was trained by U.S. intelligence services School of the Americas (SOA).

- José Antonio Colina Pulido, responsible for bombings of diplomatic offices in Spain, Colombia and in Caracas in 2003. Based in Miami.

- Nelson Mezerhane, financial conman, shareholder in Globovisión, among the main suspects in the murder of prosecutor Danilo Anderson. Disappeared from Caracas stealing seven million dollars.

- Patricia Poleo, an accomplice in the assassination of Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson. She is located behind a variety of CIA operations conducted with the U.S. embassy in Caracas against the Bolivarian Revolution. Based in Miami.

- Pedro Remon, a CIA assassin, murderer of Felix Garcia Rodriguez and Eulalio Negrin, in New York; accomplice of Luis Posada Carriles, convicted of terrorism in Panama. Based in Miami with FBI protection.

- Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA agent and international terrorist. He has an endless history of crimes. Sought by Venezuela for the 73 murders on a Cuban airliner blown up in 1976. Based in Miami.

- Reinol Rodriguez, associated with Luis Posada Carriles: an accomplice in the murder in Puerto Rico by Carlos Muñiz Varela. Currently military chief of the Alpha 66 terrorist group, tolerated by the FBI. Based in Miami.

- Roberto Martin Perez, son of one of the most infamous henchmen of the Batista dictatorship, former head of the paramilitary committee of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF).

- Raul Diaz, convicted of attacks with C4 explosive on two embassies in Caracas which occurred in 2003. Based in Miami.

- Carlos Yacaman, Honduran, murderer of the former minister of housing the administration of Manuel Zelaya, Roland Valenzuela. Located in Miami.

- Branko Marinkovic, Bolivian opposition leader in Santa Cruz, the main financier and accomplice of the terrorist group disbanded in 2009. He gave $ 200,000 to the terrorists to buy weapons. He lives in Miami.

- Jose Guillermo Garcia, Salvadoran general, former minister of defense, responsible for the torture and murder of four American nuns.

- Carlos Vides Casanova, former head of the National Guard of El Salvador, torturer and responsible for the murder of four American nuns.

- Michael Townley, an officer of Pinochet's secret police, accomplice in the murder of former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. Based in Miami.

- Santiago Álvarez Fernández Magriñá terrorist and Cuban-American arms dealer, an accomplice of Posada Carriles. Based in Miami.

- Osvaldo Mitat, terrorist and Cuban arms dealer, accomplice of Posada Carriles. Based in Miami.

- Hector Alfonso Ruiz alias Héctor Fabián, Cuban terrorist, planted bombs in embassies, associated with Posada Carriles. Based in Miami.

- Ramon Saul Sanchez, hitman Omega 7, an accomplice of Eduardo Arocena and Pedro Remon. Based in Miami.

- Rodolfo Frómeta, Cuban terrorist, leader of F4 commandos, the confessed authorof terrorist actions against Cuba. Based in Miami.

- Roberto Guillermo Bravo, Argentine military responsible for the slaughter in Trelew that killed 16 young revolutionaries. He lives in Miami.

- Virgilio Paz Romero, an accomplice in the assassination of Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his assistant Ronni Moffitt, was pardoned by George W. Bush. Based in Miami.

- Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, alias Charco de Sangre, an accomplice in the assassination of Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt his collaborator, released by George W. Bush. Based in Miami.

- Felix Rodriguez Mendigutía, alias El Gato, a CIA agent, ordered the murder of Ernesto Che Guevara, an accomplice of Posada Carriles in El Salvador's Ilopango base in arms for cocaine. Based in Miami. trafficking

- Salvador Romani, president of the terrorist Cuban Patriotic Junta in Venezuela, attacker of the Cuban embassy in Caracas, accomplice to the murder of lawyer Anderson. Based in Miami.

- Johan Peña, ex-commissioner of DISIP, planted the bomb that killed lawyer Anderson. He lives in Miami.

- Jaime Garcia Covarrubias, former chief repressor of Pinochet accused of torture and murder, now a professor at an academy of the Pentagon, Washington, USA

- José Basulto, a Cuban-American terrorist, CIA agent, head of Brothers to the Rescue, and author of murderous provocations. He lives in Miami.

- Inocente Orlando Montano, Salvadoran colonel sought by the Spanish courts for murder of the Jesuits.

- José Guevara, ex agent of DISIP. Participated from Miami in the conspiracy to assassinate the Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson.

In Miami, dozens of Cuban-American organizations linked to terrorism are still active even though the FBI knows their connection with violent activities. The terrorist group Alpha 66 and Commandos F4 openly preach the use of terror against Cuba.

Meanwhile the activities of support of terrorist actions by leaders of the CANF and the Cuban Liberty Council have been publicly denounced on several occasions.

Nothing surprises anyone in this area in the country of Representative Connie Mack, who suggested the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and his colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who suggested, in an interview on British television, the physical elimination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Cuba calls for respect for Syrian sovereignty

Translated by Granma International, 23 August 2011.

Rodolfo Reyes, Cuba’s representative to the UN Human Rights Council, stated today that the island rejects "any attempt to ignore Syria’s sovereignty."

Reyes added, "It is in the hands of the Syrian people and their authorities to determine their will and future."

The international community "should be providing assistance to guarantee peace, not taking actions to increase the death of citizens," the Cuban representative emphasized.

Cuba trusts in the skill of the Syrian people and authorities to resolve their problems, without intervention from the international community, he continued.

The convening of this session is based on the evident interest of a group of powers headed by Washington, who are even manipulating human beings’ right to life to justify their interventionist objectives, Reyes commented, according to PL.

He lamented the fact that certain political and press media are clearly inciting violence, military aggression and foreign intervention. The diplomat asked those attending the meeting to consider the barbaric NATO and U.S. actions in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, and those of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories if they are so concerned about human life.

see: UN condemnation of Syrian attrocities. click here to see the Voting Chart.

Ecuador condemns invasion of Libya

Source: Prensa Latina, 23 August 2011.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on Tuesday condemned what he called the invasion of Libya to take over its oil by a coalition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Patino criticized that those nations have acted under the protection of a decision of the UN Security Council that in March imposed an air exclusion zone over Libya. Speaking to the daily El Ciudadano, Patino referred to recent events in Libya and pointed out that apparently there is a victory of the opposition, but only thanks to support from USA and NATO without any terms of equality.

Patino said this has confirmed what many countries warned from the beginning: the desire to invade Libya in order to seize oil reserves there. As those attacking are "world powers, no one can judge them, that shows the level of fragility that we have, the level of inability of the United Nations to support peace and justice in the world. What is happening is a clear act of invasion," Patino said.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Cuba's statement on bogus US 'terrorism list'

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Source: Granma, 20 August 2011.

On August 18, the State Department includes Cuba, for the thirtieth time, in the bogus list of "state sponsors of international terrorism," with the sole purpose of discrediting our country and continuing to justify the cruel and repudiated the policy of blockade against Cuba.

The U.S. government, which historically has practiced state terrorism, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, assassinations with drones, torture and illegal detentions, which has established secret prisons, which is responsible for the death hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians as a result of occupation and wars of conquest in Iraq and Afghanistan, that systematically bombed sovereign states such as Libya, does not have the slightest morals nor any right to judge Cuba, which has an unblemished the fight against terrorism and has also been consistently the victim of this scourge.

The U.S. government acts as if it had not protected, permanently, the confessed criminal Luis Posada Carriles, whom it has refused to prosecute on terrorism charges, despite having ample evidence. Posada Carriles, with, Orlando Bosch Ávila, who benefited from a presidential pardon from George Bush, is the author of the horrific bombing of a Cuban airliner in flight, which cost the lives of 73 innocent people. He is also directly responsible for the death of Italian tourist, Fabio Di Celmo, during the bombings of Cuban tourist facilities in 1997. Today Posada Carriles walks freely and with impunity through the streets of Miami after being acquitted in a sham trial in El Paso, Texas.

At the same time, as irrefutable proof of its double standards, the U.S. government unfairly holds in prison and punishes our five antiterrorist fighters, for preserving the lives of Cuban and U.S. citizens, and those of other countries.

Some 3,478 Cubans have been killed and 2,099 have been maimed as a result of terrorist actions, organized, funded and perpetrated from U.S. territory, often with the very complicity of the government the United States.

Political manipulation of a subject as sensitive as the fight against terrorism offends the memory of victims of the criminal acts of September 11, 2001, a fact that prompted the offer of solidarity and unconditional support of our government and people.

Cuba demands that the U.S. government punishes the real terrorists who now reside in U.S. territory, frees the Five anti-terrorist heroes and ends the policy of blockade and hostility against our country, which threatens the legitimate interests of both peoples.

Havana, August 19, 2011

See also: Venezuela Says U.S. Lacks “Moral Authority” to Judge Antiterrorism Efforts, Franklin Rosales, 19 August 2011.

Statements on continued repression in Aguan, Honduras

Public Statement MUCA-MI
Source:, 17 August 2011.
Translation by FOA

The Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan - Left Bank (MUCA-MI), in our struggle for a real and true application of integral agrarian reform, DECLARES to Honduran Society, the International Community, and National and International Human Rights Organizations that:

1. Sunday, August 14, 2011 between five o'clock and eight o'clock in the morning (5:00 AM and 8:00 AM), private guards from agroindustrialist Migue Facusse Barjum's deadly palm plantation brutally attacked our campesino colleagues from the community of Panamá (who are not members of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan - Left Bank MUCA-MI), and according to police reports, six security guards (hired criminals) and an underage campesino, Wilmer Javier Melgar, were killed.

2. Maliciously, certain communication media (radios and newspapers) linked to the interests of agroindustrialists have indicated to government institutions that our colleages Jackeline Liseth Fúnez Bueso, Marco Tulio Paredes Molina, Gerardo Alonso Argueta, Cesar Murillo and Dennis Javier Ramos, who are leaders of various cooperatives associated with the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan - Left Bank (MUCA-MI), are responsible for these condemnable acts of violence.

3. We categorically reject these defamatory and slanderous accusations against our colleagues being carried out by the oligarchic press with the intention of criminalizing our struggle and discrediting the leadership of the the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan - Left Bank (MUCA-MI). The are trying to represent us nationally and internationally as a bloodthirsty organization with criminal intentions in order to justify the presence of more police and military, fierce repression, and the killing of our leardership in the Lower Aguán Valley.

4. It is no secret to anyone that the activities we carry out as an organization are part of a just struggle for official recognition for land, and as part of a genuine process of integral agrarian reform they are peaceful and public actions. Since we have nothing to hide, we have always declared ourselves and our actions via traditional and alternative media .

5. The violence that has been practiced against our struggle--and especially against our leadership, which has been the victim of assasinations, constant death threats, and a fierce campaign of defamation and slander--does not erase from the national stage our just struggle for land; it does not keep us from using dialogue as an instrument which can help us find a real solution that will end this agrarian conflict. For this reason we reiterate our willingness to participate in a frank and sincere dialogue with the government of Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Lower Aguán Valle, August 16, 2011

For a real integral agrarian reform with the just distribution of land, for effective public health, housing and education policies that prioritize men and women, for a full democracy including national coexistence and the full exercise of human rights, there must be social justice for peace in the countryside.

Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan - Left Bank (MUCA-MI)

In Bajo Aguán the Movimiento Campesino de Rigores sufferes continued repression
Translated by the FNRPs Translators group from Spanish Version
Source:, 17 August 2011.

The Movimiento Campesino de Rigores (Campesino Movement of Rigores) in the Aguán Valley was violently evicted by military and police forces on the 24th of June of this year, leaving behind a scene reminiscent of Port au Prince, Haiti or some areas of the Palestinian occupied territories. Houses, churches, and agricultural buildings belonging to more than 120 families were razed. Eleven years of effort and struggle without any support from the State were lost in one sad and demoralizing day for the MCR.

The eviction of the MCR families occurred on the 24th of June of this year and lasted from 6 am until nightfall. It is estimated that 20 million Lempiras (roughly 1 million dollars) in damages were caused including the destruction of a 6-grade school, evangelical and catholic churches, wells and fields. As a result, 14 campesinos were detained and currently find themselves processed. This harassment by repressive forces has increased in recent months and is a clear signal to the campesino movements that seek to fight for the land and a better life for their families.

In addition to the last week’s eviction, the campesinas and campesinos who are in the process of reclaiming La Consentida farm located near the MCR area were attacked by three police patrols. Upon its return, the police attacked an MCR campesino who was working on rebuilding his house. He was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The MCR is comprised of 8 campesino joint enterprises that live and work in a 600-hectare area (roughly 1,500 acres). Despite the proximity of great expanses of African palm, the MCR has pursued a comprehensive agricultural model working with basic grains, vegetables, livestock and small animals to produce their own food and some income. This model seeks to distance itself from the African palm oil market largely controlled by the area’s large landowners.

“We have the rest of our lives to keep working” commented a MCR campesina in reference to the eviction and the 3 martyred compañeros of the Movement. “We go out to work and plant to meet our needs, what most worries us now are housing conditions and the lack of clear information about legal matters.” “Besides, we only have one classroom left for 6 grades and 6 teachers.”

The uncertain situation the MCR finds itself in is the same in many places throughout the country, including, among others, the Movimiento 10 de Junio San Juan Pueblo and Zacate Grande. Because of the National Congress’s November 2010 repeal of decree 18-2008, several campesino movements are about to lose a long process of legalization and recuperation of lands. Article 17 of the degree, approved during President Mel Zelaya’s administration, allows campesino communities or businesses who have spent 10 years or more reclaiming land to request the title to it from the Instituto Nacional Agrario, or National Agrarian Institute (INA).

Currently the decree is “frozen” given that it has not been published in the The Gazette. However, the latest news indicates that only a month remains before the decree is to be published. The situation of campesino groups and movements is even more complicated given the Secretary of Finance refuses to pay out money as part of the title transfer process and considers the decree null.

For the campesino families the decree’s repeal is only the beginning of a new attack on their survival. The Honduran oligarchy and transnational capital already have several projects underway: Special Development Regions (model cities), a new mining law, river concessions and the promotion of genetically modified seeds. These projects aim to eradicate small-scale agriculture and supplant it with an agro-industrial model and the exploitation of the country’s natural resources.

Despite the terrible conditions in which the families currently find themselves, the MCR struggle continues. The vast majority are living in destroyed houses with plastic tarps to protect them from the elements. Threats of eviction exist and there is no guarantee from the INA that issue of land ownership will be resolved in favor of the movement.

Los Necios Political Organization
August 7, 2011
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Cuban statement on Syria

Statement by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Marcos Rodríguez Costa

WE express our profound concern over the treatment of the internal situation in Syria within the UN Security Council, on the basis of the heavy pressure being exercised by the Western powers on this body to adopt decisions against the legitimate government of that country.

Taking into account the experiences and precedents already created by recent cases, which demonstrate manipulation of the UN Charter and the double standards which characterize the conduct of the Security Council, we express our condemnation of any attempt to undermine the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of that nation.

Cuba reiterates its confidence in the capacity of the Syrian government and people to solve their internal problems without any foreign interference and demands full respect for this Arab country’s free self-determination and sovereignty.

Havana, August 4, 2011

Monday, 15 August 2011

RATB Report: Happy 85th birthday Fidel!!!!

On Saturday 13 August 2011, Manchester RATB held a birthday stall in Piccadilly Gardens, to celebrate Fidel's 85th birthday. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born in Biran, Mayari, in the former province of Oriente (now Holguin), on his father's farm on 13 August 1926. Some of the ideas of this great leader of the Cuban Revolution include the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) founded in November 1999 in Cuba, to train physicians from many countries, with the ability to offer their services anywhere in the world, the 500 scholarships offered to US medical students to study medicine in Cuba, and the over 700 Haitian doctors trained at the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences in Santiago de Cuba, one of the biggest contributions to Haiti's long-neglected health system.

Activists highlighted the injustice of the continued incarceration of the Cuban 5 anti-terrorist fighters for the past 13 years in US prisons, and the achievements of the Cuban Revolution in social care, health care and education, comparing these to the growing attacks on working class living standards in Manchester. The city centre itself was unusually quiet following the recent uprisings in Manchester and Salford, of sections of the working class on 9 August 2011, against decades of poverty, unemployment, marginalisation and police racism and harassment.

A large birthday card was signed by members of the public. Blue, yellow and red balloons, a large, bright birthday banner, the Cuban and Che Guevara flags along with revolutionary music Inventos which celebrates Cuban hip hop added to and improved the atmosphere.

Happy birthday comrade Fidel! 85 years more! Our card is on its way to you!
Viva Cuba!
Long live socialism!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

New book on US blockade of Cuba

France: Forthcoming Book on U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Source: Prensa Latina, 08 August 2011.

A historical and legal analysis of U.S. political, economic and commercial sanctions against Cuba is the idea behind a book soon to be published by French Professor Salim Lamrani in his country.

The blockade is the most developed, sophisticated and long-lasting network ever implemented by one country against another, said Lamrani, an expert in Cuba-U.S. relations, in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina during the Meeting of Coordinators of the Network in Defense of Humanity.

State of Siege: The U.S. Economic Sanctions against Cuba, a Historical and Juridical Perspective, is the title of the book, whose French edition will be launched at the offices of the newspaper L'Humanite in September.

The book, with a prologue by the former chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Cuba, Wayne Smith, reviews Cuba-U.S. relations from 1960, when the blockade came into force, to the current Barack Obama administration. It also analyzes the blockade's impact on Cuba's public health, the extraterritorial nature of anti-Cuba measures and U.S. society's opposition to Washington's hostile policy.

Lamrani, a journalist and professor at the universities of Paris-Descartes and Paris-Est Marne-la Vallee, stated that Cuba-U.S. relations can not be explained from the beginning of the Cold War, although that was Washington's political rhetoric from 1959 to 1989. However, after the demise of the former Soviet Union, the U.S. stepped up its sanctions on Cuba with the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws.

The author mentioned a December 23, 1958 memorandum declassified by the U.S. National Security Council, quoting CIA Director Allan Dulles as saying, "We have to prevent Castro's victory."

An analysis of nationalizations during the early years of the Cuban Revolution, in the light of international law, shows that other countries affected, including European nations, accepted the measures. Only the United States demanded "effective, appropriate and rapid" compensation, Lamrani said.

Time to get closer to Cuba


To improve the UK's relationship with Cuba requires more than just words – we must act on this new formal agreement

by Dan Smith for Left Foot Forward, 08 August 2011.

Last month Cuba and the United Kingdom signed a formal declaration to strengthen bilateral co-operation. The agreement champions "closer dialogue and economic, scientific, technical, educational, cultural and sporting links between the two countries" and highlights key areas for collaboration including environmental issues, biotechnology, trade and investment, regional security, child protection and disaster preparedness.

The move should be welcomed as a positive step – not just by those supporting the Cuban people, but also by those looking to expand British trade relations in Latin America. In order to make tangible change, however, the agreement must be substantiated by positive action – something which has been lacking in previous UK policy towards Cuba.

The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and the third largest economy in the European Union. It is the seventh largest importer and the 11th largest exporter in the world. In spite of this, the level of trade between Britain and Cuba is derisory. Exports to Cuba totalled an abysmal $14.4m (£8.9m) in 2009 while imports came to a pathetic $15.8m (£9.8m). Compare this to September 1958 when the UK government exported 25 fighter jets to General Batista's dictatorship. The equivalent value today – at around £40m a plane – would equate to an annual UK export to Cuba of around £1bn.

It is tempting to explain the lack of commercial activity between our two countries as a legacy of the cold war. However, back in 1986, Cuba constituted the UK's fifth largest market in Latin America. Furthermore, UK trade with Cuba is dwarfed by other EU countries including Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Indeed, in 2008, the UK was only the 11th largest exporter of goods to Cuba from the EU.

It is therefore more appropriate to view the level of trade as a direct consequence of policy adopted by consecutive UK governments. In particular, the Blair government – as a result of closer ties with the Clinton and Bush administrations – took an increasingly aggressive and hard-line stance against the island. Blair was a keen advocate of the EU common position – which suppresses trade and exchange with Cuba – while, in 2003, the UK was instrumental in blocking Cuba's entry into the Cotonou agreement which gives trade preferences to former European colonies.

According to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), "the greatest hurdle to doing business in Cuba is painfully slow decision-making which results from all investment decisions being referred to the highest levels of government". However, as indicated in the graphs below, there are a number of other countries which manage to cut through the perceived "layers of bureaucracy". It is ridiculous that UKTI blames restrictions within Cuba for the lack of trade when the main obstacle remains the UK's unwillingness to challenge the ongoing US blockade.

In theory, the UK Protection of Trade Interests Act makes it illegal for UK companies to comply with extraterritorial US Helms Burton legislation but, in practice, the UK government replicates the pernicious and illegal blockade. Transactions cannot take place in US dollars and payment cannot be channelled via American banks. The risk of US sanctions creates uncertainty and banks, businesses and companies can get caught between conflicting legal requirements. For instance, in August 2010, Barclays bank was fined $298m (£190m) by US authorities for handling transactions with banks in Cuba. The result is that the little trade that does occur often takes place through "third parties" and unfairly increases Cuba's import costs.

The blockade also restricts access to long-term credit which means Cuba is often limited to dealing in cash transactions or expensive short-term credit. This makes bilateral trade more costly for the island and significantly stifles its economic freedom. The uncertainty caused by the blockade creates a volatile market and increases the risk of liquidity problems. As the UKTI report says: "Even when there is potential demand for many products, the reality is that not all companies are in a position to ensure payment or to finance long-term payments … This is mainly due to Cuba's lack of access to the long and middle-term financial market, so relying mostly on short-term credit, and credit offered by the providers."

It is peculiar that David Cameron has spent much of his tenure attempting to expand British markets abroad – in places such as China, India and the Middle East – but Cuba's potential remains untapped. Cuba's geographical location – as both a Caribbean and Central American nation – represents a strategic advantage whilst the Cuban market offers various long-term benefits. Cuba has a highly educated and literate population and there is an abundance of experienced and qualified employees. Brazil has already recognised the business potential in Cuba and has invested heavily to make Mariel Port the leading freight port in the Caribbean.

The UK should be applauded for repeatedly voting against the US blockade at the United Nations, but further action is required to normalise relations with Cuba and develop real, discernible trade and co-operation between our countries.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the British trade union movement have worked tirelessly to promote the normalisation of relations and it is clear that real political will does exist. Early Day Motion 1171 supporting the strengthening of ties between the UK and Cuba was signed by 248 MPs whilst over 92% of candidates in the 2010 general election supported better relations. The examples of various EU countries – including Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands – demonstrate that the debilitating effects of the EU common position can be circumvented if perceptible political will exists. It is now crucial that we harness political will within the UK to turn this "paper" agreement into something more concrete.

Report on Chile's student protests

Disclaimer: RATB is not responsible for this article or its contents, but is simply sharing it with our supporters.

by Adrian Wright, Santiago, Chile.

As I walked out of the tercera comiseria (police station based in the centre of Santiago) it hit me what had transpired on this incredible day. All I could hear were the sounds of the cacerolazo, people beating pots and pans in protest, every street corner occupied by protesters who had erected barricades, lit bonfires and the the echo of the updated anti dictatorship song “y va a caer y va a caer, la educación de Pinochet” sounding through the streets. The police who spent most of the day throwing tear gas canisters and beating the shit out of people could only look on as the people took control of the streets. The central store of “La Polar”, a giant chain of department stores implicated in a massive fraud of investors and customers, had been burnt to the ground. Everyone over the age of 40 told me the same thing: “it’s like being back in the eighties”, referring to the epic street battles against the Pinochet dictatorship that took place between 1982 and 1986.

I’ll give you the background to the story.

Since May of this year, the campuses and schools of Chile have been epicenters of revolt and protest. Students are hell bent on overthrowing the neoliberal profit based education system currently in existence in Chile. At one point over 180 schools and university campuses were “en toma” (under occupation by students) and in some cases, students were violently evicted from their tomas by police and security forces only to then go on to reoccupy them. Every Thursday, tens of thousands of schoolchildren as young as 14 and university students have taken to the streets, facing down the pacos (cops) with their guanacos (water cannons), their tear gas and their batons.

The city centre has the semi permanent smell of tear gas and you can’t go far without seeing a school or university campus en toma. If you catch a bus, you are likely to see an “evangelista”, usually a teenager sent by a school en toma, board the bus and explain to the passengers with inspiring eloquence what they are fighting for, a high quality education system for all, free of charge, why it is possible and why it is necessary.

Natalia Alegria, a 14 year old who had been tear gassed, beaten by police and arrested (something that has become very unexceptional during this conflict) told me that “this generation is not like previous generations, a lot of us are vegetarians, we read and we think”. From the end of the anti dictatorship protests in 1986 to the pinguina – school student – revolution of 2006, there was a marked downturn in political struggle in Chile, but that period has been buried for the foreseeable future. The banner outside the Universidad de Chile law faculty says it all “Chile está despertando” – Chile is waking up.

The movement is diverse in its tactics, from a mass kiss-in for education to having the Marea Roja, the supporters of the Chilean National Football team unfurl a huge Chilean flag with “free education” written on it at the recent Copa America to putting up barricades and burning tyres in the middle of Santiago’s major road during morning traffic and fighting with the police. The main unifying factors of the movement are the non negotiable demand for a high standard education for all, free of charge along with a distrust of all political parties, up to and including the Communist Party, the party that traditionally dominates student politics.

The students are up against the government of one of Chile’s richest men, Sebastian Piñera, who last year became the first conservative president of Chile since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1990. The student movement has already claimed the head of education minister Joaquín Lavín, someone who ironically made his fortune as head of the supposedly non-profit Universidad de Desarollo. Ironic because he is precisely the sort of person the movement aims to remove from the education sector.

Prior to the most recent march, the government, sensing an opportunity to crush the movement, banned the march planned for the 4th of August. The Fech (Student Federation of La Universidad de Chile) announced that the march would go ahead regardless and Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter publically threatened the students the day before the march declaring that if anyone died or was injured, it would be the fault of Fech President Camila Vallejo.

The students stood their ground.

Tuesday 4 August will go down in Chilean history. Over 1000 police were deployed to the streets of Santiago with orders to prevent students from gathering around the planned route of the protest, along the Alameda, the main street of Santiago. Police even went as far as preventing anyone who looked like a student from taking the subway at key stations, and preventing them from leaving stations close to the route of the march. Near the Alameda, students were not allowed to pass and in many cases were beaten and arrested. Many onlookers were also beaten and arrested, in some cases modest workers who just wanted to see what was happening.

But the ever resourceful students, in groups of less than 10 managed to gather in great numbers around key points of downtown Santiago to face off with the police.

For 6 hours students and police fought pitched battles in several locations around the city centre. Students armed only with rocks held off the police, known colloquially as the ninja turtles for the green body armour they wear rained blows on students, threw canister after canister of tear gas but by 4pm had no choice but to agree to a ceasefire. Students even managed to occupy the headquarters of the national broadcaster, Chilevision.

The ceasefire lasted until 6.30pm but by that time the police were too demoralised to fight back effectively. By 8pm the police had had to retreat and cede the streets to the students and the large portion of the population that supported them.

It was a day you wait decades to see. The state had thrown everything it had at the students and lost. It is difficult to overestimate the psychological effect this has had on not just the students but the population at large.

No one can really tell what is going to happen from here. The government is in crisis. Only two weeks ago there was a massive reshuffle of the cabinet and Sebastian Piñera’s approval rating is down to 26%. The students are feeling confident and they aren’t the only ones.

For the last month Starbucks baristas have been on strike. For two weeks some of them have been on hunger strike. A week ago a group of commuters, mainly builders and domestic workers, sick and tired of 3 hour commutes to work, a wage as low as 160,000 Chilean pesos (US$320) per month and price hikes by the privately owned but publicly funded public transport network Transantiago, overran important bus stops and commandeered buses.

Only one thing is certain. In Chile, the laboratory of neo liberalism, the supposed land of prosperity and market solutions, the market is no longer welcome.

ELAM continues challenge

ELAM in Cuba: The Challenge of Training Physicians
Source: Prensa Latina, 03 August 2011.
By Roberto Hernandez

The Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Cuba continues the challenge of training physicians from many countries including the United States, with the ability to offer their services anywhere in the world.

That has been the path taken by the almost 10,000 graduates of the School, located on the western outskirts of Havana, including the 153 US citizens who have received their degrees there so far, mostly members of ethnic minorities and the poor.

All we ask of the young (17 to 25 years) students is that once they have graduated they go back to their villages or poor neighborhoods and practice what they have learned, said the academic vice-rector of ELAM, Midalys Castilla.

"We need doctors in the whole world, but especially doctors like the Cubans who are willing to work anywhere," said Helen Bernstein, one of the leaders of the US-Cuba Friendship Caravan, which recently brought more than 100 tons of aid to the island

We want doctors with a focus on human beings, capable of feeling and sharing their knowledge as many times as necessary, added Bernstein, who is also the acting coordinator of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO).

She made these observations during the graduation of 40 of her country folk as doctors, speaking on behalf of the New York-based Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), that since the beginning of this century offers in the U.S.A. scholarships for training in Cuba.

Beyond political motivations, the presence of the North Americans in the Caribbean nation has yielded dividends for the young people, nourished by a vision of preventive care, which is absent from most schools in the U.S.A.

Medical students in Havana, for example, are able to attend to people in places without electricity or running water, when high technology diagnostic equipment is not available.

One might think that these talents are not useful in the U.S., but there are poor communities there that do not have a single doctor and have come to resemble parts of the Third World.

The idea gained momentum especially after the disaster caused in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and highlighted the problems of health care in that country.

Cuba began to train US medical students after members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with then President Fidel Castro in 2000.

Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told Fidel Castro about the problems in areas of his legislative district that suffered an acute shortage of doctors.

The leader of the Revolution responded by offering scholarships to 500 US young people to attend the Latin American Medical School, founded in November 1999 to provide medical studies for youth of the region, an idea later extended to Africans and Asians.

To qualify, students would have to demonstrate ability and commitment to work in disadvantaged communities in the United States, the very country that for over 50 years has tried to defeat the Cuban revolutionary project.

Since 2001, the interfaith group IFCO, Pastors for Peace and its late leader Lucius Walker, drew up a plan to increase minority participation in medicine in order to augment the ratio of doctors to patients in disadvantaged areas.

The lack of these in the neediest communities in the U.S. is exactly what IFCO wanted to remedy, when it began recruiting for scholarships in Cuba.

Most students from that country in the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana are African Americans from New York or California; 85 percent are from minority groups and 73 percent are women.

Classes began in February 1999 with some 1,900 young people, many from Central America, then affected by Hurricane Mitch, which left some 19 thousand people dead or missing.

Initially all students were prepared in the facilities of ELAM, in an area of one million 200 thousand square meters.

That changed in 2005, when future graduates in their third year of study began to be placed in the 21 faculties of medical science in the country, where they share their training with Cuban colleagues.

At the present time about 10 thousand young people from 55 countries are studying medicine in Cuba. Seventy-five percent are children of workers and peasants, and 104 indigenous communities of Latin America are represented among them.

The idea that the Cuban government uses the school and its large number of graduates to make propaganda in favour of socialism is shattered by the existence of some 78,000 Cuban doctors trained to serve a population of 11.2 million.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Chile: Student protests rock the government

by Marcelo Diaz, Santiago de Chile, 08 August 2011.

On Thursday 4 August tens of thousands of secondary school and university students defied a government ban on protests to march in cities and towns throughout the country. The centre of the capital Santiago was closed off as riot police used water cannon, tear gas and horses in a vain effort to disperse the youth. Over 800 were arrested yet the police were completely unable to control the situation as barricades appeared on major intersections in Santiago. The students have overwhelming popular support, and through their actions are giving birth to a new movement. Billionaire President Sebastian Pinera has the lowest ratings ever for a president since General Pinochet relinquished power in 1990 with only 20% support.

The revolt has been led by students from the University of Chile, the largest and most important university in the country. The issues at stake are little different from elsewhere in the world: the level of student fees and the drive to privatisation. On top of this are five demands of the secondary school students which includes the nationalisation of the education system. In 1980, Pinochet had handed over control of secondary schooling to local municipalities which meant that richer areas provided a better education than poorer areas.

The demand for nationalisation is a demand for equity. On top of this are demands for free education and for a greater proportion of GDP to be spent on the education system as a whole from the 3.1% at present to the UNESCO-recommended level of 7%. The students are also calling for an end to government subsidies to private schools, for improved school lunches, and for the extension of transport subsidies. University students are supporting these demands, and an end to university privatisation, and for basic rights to student and worker organisation. To finance these developments they are insisting the government imposes a massive increase in the royalties paid on copper extraction by multinationals such as BHP Billiton which pays only 4% at present compared to 30% for similar extraction rights in Australia. This has been frustrated by the Pinera government and previous Concertation (centre-left) governments. The students and teacher unions are now insisting on putting all these issues to a referendum.

The government move to ban the 4 August demonstration – on the grounds that it would disrupt city life – completely backfired and its heavy-handed approach has consolidated popular support for the demands of the students. The leadership of the main student union, FECH, has refused to back down and called for further mobilisations for the evening of 4 August. Attempts to undermine the principal FECH leader Camila Vallejo because of her membership of the Communist Party have failed. On Sunday 7 August tens of thousands of people marched through Santiago again, and in the local municipalities people protested with pots and pans as they had done in the years of the Pinochet dictatorship. There are now calls for a general strike on Tuesday 9 August and a further mass demonstration in Santiago. It is not clear whether this will be allowed.

Gross: What happened between March and August?

by Arnold August

On August fifth it was announced that the fifteen-year sentence arising out of the March fourth Provincial Court trial against Alan Gross, a US AID contractor, was upheld by the Cuban Supreme Court. The American citizen appealed the decision of the Provincial Court in Cuba's highest level of the judiciary on June 22, the result of which was made public on August fifth.

Regarding this issue, since March fourth to date the international media, especially based in Miami, Washington and Madrid, are concentrating on Havana, the Gross trials and legal challenges.

For those who may be puzzled by the Supreme Court decision, it would be useful to examine briefly what has happened in the United States — not Cuba — between March fourth to date in order to perhaps shed some light onto the Supreme Court's confirmation of the lower court's resolution. In this five-month period, the Obama Administration has on many occasions repeated its policy of interfering in the internal affairs of Cuba under the guise of "democracy promotion". For example, the Congress has recently ratified once again the decision to spend 20$ million in the next year explicitly dedicated to subversion in Cuba, including the type of activities that Gross had carried out and for which he has been arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced. On many occasions the Obama Administration in collaboration with their mercenaries on and off the island did not reduce, but rather reinforced, their provocative activities against the sovereignty of Cuba, one of the legal principles violated by Gross as a US agent contractor.

While Obama visited Chile on March 21, 2011, not long after the original trial and sentencing of Gross, the US President spoke about the need to defend "democracy and human rights within our borders [USA and Chile], let us recommit to defending them across our hemisphere.... And yes, that includes the people of Cuba."

How do readers think that the Cuban government and judiciary had taken this? By adding insult to injury, Obama stated in an interview to a Chilean newspaper as a prelude to his visit to Santiago de Chile that "The Chilean experience, and more particularly its successful transition to democracy and its sustained, growing economy, is a model for the region and the world."

When the news was released on August fifth regarding the Cuban Supreme Court decision, it was the same day that those of us who follow the news through Telesúr and other alternative media were able to bear witness to how the Chilean police violently attacked the students and professors demanding education, economic and political rights. There were according to official sources 874 arrests and hundreds wounded. Is this the example that Obama meant of Chile being a model of democracy and economic development for Cuba? The scenes of Chilean state brutality resembled more the emblematic steps (Escalanita) of the University of Havana before the January 1, 1959 Triumph of the Revolution, when the US-backed Batista dictatorship unleashed their forces so many times against the youth, professors and workers. Many students were killed in these assaults in Havana, but so far at the time of writing in any case, there has been no deaths in Chile during the course of the current confrontations.

Despite the demands to Obama from around the world declared by Nobel Prize winners, individual parliamentarians, parliaments and personalities for the release of the Cuban Five, what has Obama done between March fourth and today? He has done nothing, and we are heading into a most crucial period for the soon-to-be concluded Habeus Corpus process for Gerardo Hernández Nodelo, with nothing yet positive in sight at this time. The Cuban Five are imprisoned since 1998 because they attempted to curb US-backed terrorist interference in the internal affairs of Cuba.

Given all these provocations and repeated confirmations from the White House and the US Congress that they have every intention to continue their program of attempting to subvert Cuba's constitutional order, how else can the Cuban government and judicial authorities react? They have no choice but to make it clear that they will continue to defend their sovereignty as it is the right of every country to do so, big or small.

Alan Gross and his family should blame their own government for their predicament. The White House got him into it in the first place. By carrying out the same policies against Cuba since March fourth to date, it has given no reason for the Cuban judiciary to decide otherwise.

US-backed candidates in Venezuela announce electoral strategy

Source: Correo del Orinoco International, no 75, 04 August 2011.

President Chavez, who recently confirmed plans to run for reelection, called the opposition’s electoral strategy “a farce”, terming their coalition the “Roundtable of the United States”

This week Venezuela’s pool of opposition political parties announced plans to create a “unified electoral ticket” for next year’s presidential election in an attempt to garner enough votes to prevent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from winning another six-year term (2013-2019).

The new opposition “strategy” was unveiled on Saturday when spokesman Ramon Guillermo Aveledo told reporters that the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) had decided it will use a “single unitary” electoral ballot in its attempt to defeat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in next year’s presidential election.

The opposition’s decision is “a symbol” of the opposition’s “commitment to unity”, affirmed Aveledo, who went on to explain that each of the opposition’s major political parties is likely to maintain its own electoral ballot and that this “unitary compromise” does not apply to elections for mayor and/or governor also expected in 2012.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has yet to announce the exact date of next year’s presidential elections or the dates of next year’s elections for mayors and governors. Suggestions have been made that one single election will be scheduled, allowing voters to elect their national, regional and local representatives all on the same day.

“If a certain party wants to use its own symbols (emblems, colors, mottos) in support of the MUD, that’s fine; just like it’s fine for them to set those symbols aside and join the MUD ticket”, explained Aveledo. The MUD, which includes an atypical mix of extreme-right, traditional conservative, and frustrated leftist parties was formed in 2008 as an electoral tool aimed at confronting the pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in September 2010 National Assembly elections.

The PSUV, founded in 2007, is currently Venezuela’s largest political party with an estimated seven million members. To guarantee Chavez’s reelection in 2012, pro-Chavez forces have begun forming the Polo Patriotico, or Patriotic Pole, a coalition that includes the governing PSUV, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), and numerous grassroots social movements.

Cilia Flores, socialist assemblywoman and Vice President of the PSUV, responded to the MUD’s recent announcement by asserting that opposition forces are looking to disguise ongoing “infighting” with a “false show of unity”. The opposition’s electoral ticket, she said, “is not singular, nor unified. It’s not even one single ticket, but one more among many”.

According to Flores, the MUD presidential ticket is nothing more than another attempt to “show unity where none exists”. In a televised interview on Monday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister and PSUV Vice President Nicolas Maduro told viewers that opposition parties have one uniting force, “the sectors of transnational power, especially those in the United States” that finance their efforts. Maduro reiterated Flores’ assertions that the opposition seeks to “swindle its own voters” by creating “false illusions of unity” and added that the opposition’s “unity ends up being secured by the (US) embassy”.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that 14 of the opposition’s possible presidential candidates have already traveled to Washington “to ask for its (Washington’s) blessing before launching their presidential bids”.

Maduro went on to assert that Venezuelan President Chavez will win his reelection bid next year because Chavez is united with “the most humble of this country, those who had always been forgotten, those who have awoken as part of this Revolution and those who have now become incorporated into political power”.

President Chavez, who recently confirmed he has every intent on running in, and winning, next year’s presidential elections, said the Venezuelan people must “unmask” the opposition’s plans for next year.

According to Chavez, the opposition “claims it’s us (socialists) that are divided” when in fact “they are the ones living through the night of the long knives”. Opposition forces, affirmed Chavez, “are attacking, stabbing each other in the back, as they define their candidates for governor in the states of Aragua, Bolivar, Carabobo, Miranda and Zulia”.

The President also said that opposition spokespeople have “already begun talking about Cubans manipulating the electoral registry, people’s identifications and voting machines”, as a way of trying to promote a perception of electoral fraud, in the likely event Chavez wins.

Beyond the “farce” announced last weekend, said Chavez, the opposition’s plans for next year’s elections include “taking to the streets, creating disturbances and chaos, discrediting the armed forces and claiming that Cubans are somehow in charge”.

“At the hour of our Bolivarian victory”, Chavez concluded, the opposition’s only real plan is “to cry fraud”. Chavez also pointed out that among his popular base in the PSUV, allied political parties, and grassroots social movements in both urban and rural areas, “we have unity, loyalty, a single political project and an ideology”.

The President also explained that he has already begun outliningnhis program for the 2013-2019 presidential term, a program which includes “transitioning away from capitalism’s perversity” and overcoming “the cultural, moral damage, the destruction of values, of nationality, of the self-esteem of Venezuelans” caused by capitalist relations of production, distribution and consumption.

In the country’s previous presidential election (2006), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won 7,309,080 of the votes, or 62.84%, against the opposition’s Manuel Rosales, who garnered 4,292,466 votes (36.90%). The opposition’s Rosales later abandoned his post as mayor of Maracaibo and fled the country to avoid charges of stealing public funds, accepting bribes for public contracts and hoarding lands and capital using front names and companies. He currently lives in self-imposed exile in Peru, though he has suggested he might return to Venezuela to participate in the opposition’s presidential primaries set for February 2012.

Referring to possible opposition candidates, including Rosales, Maria Corina Machado, and Henrique Capriles Radonski, Chavez affirmed “those people are incapable of running the country. It would be the disaster of all disasters”.

“They aren’t unified”, affirmed Chavez. “The only thing they are is a threat to this country, and we take it upon ourselves to ensure that they don’t become that threat” by winning the election, said Chavez.