Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cuba’s Report On Resolution 65/6 of the UN General Assembly on ending the US blockade

Cuba Report 2011

Chilean police violently repress peaceful demonstration

Source: Prensa Latina, 29 September 2011.

Chilean police suppressed on Thursday a peaceful and massive march for free public education with tear gas and water cannon, which was denounced here by the leaders of the student.

"Police should have helped to guide or control the demonstration, but not repress it", said a spokeswoman for the Confederation of Students of Chile (CONFECH), Camila Vallejo. "We saw the police repressing all the demonstrators, not only those who threw a pebble", says Vallejo in statements on the march that ended Thursday in Santiago O'Higgins Park with an estimated 150,000 participants.

According to the press, a tear gas canister thrown by the police near the O'Higgins Park caused injuries to a five-year child.

However, the mayor of Santiago, Pablo Zalaquett, told the press that those calling for marches are responsible for the unrest. For the Chilean people, the police attack on the march, just within hours of the start of a dialogue between the government and social sectors, was quite shocking.

Ongoing Social Protests in Chile
Prensa Latina, 29 September 2011.

Primary health care workers and the Social Movement for Free and Public Education on Thursday will join together in a new day of anti-neoliberal protests around the country.

On Thursday, the students movement called for another national mobilization to oppose for-profit education, while being supported by dozens of social organizations including public health unions, which organized a 72-hour strike against privatizing the sector.

If the Social Movement is not mobilize, it will not be able to dialogue or do anything while holding a negotiating table with the government, said Camila Vallejo, president of the Chilean Students Federation (CONFECH).

According to CONFECH spokesman Giorgio Jackson, the negotiating table between the government and leaders of the Social Movement should not be seen as just a negotiating moment or photo opportunity, but as a way to channel citizen's demands.

Skepticism and distrust prevail among members of the CONFECH, in regard to a true government will to solve the conflict. The CONFECH, however, in spite of the government stance and discourse, maintains its willingness to dialogue while continuing further mobilizations.

Bolivia: NGOs wrong on Morales and Amazon

Source: BoliviaRising
by Federico Fuentes, 25 September 2011.

Statements, articles, letters and petitions have been circulating on the internet for the past month calling for an end to the "destruction of the Amazon". The target of these initiatives has not been transnational corporations or the powerful governments that back them, but the government of Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales.

At the centre of the debate is the Bolivian government’s controversial proposal to build a highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).

TIPNIS, which covers more than 1 million hectares of forest, was granted indigenous territory status by the Morales government in 2009. About 12,000 people from three different indigenous groups live in 64 communities within TIPNIS.

On August 15, representatives from the TIPNIS Subcentral that unites these communities, as well as other indigenous groups, began a march to the capital city, La Paz to protest against the highway plan. International petitions have been initiated declaring support for this march, and condemning the Morales government for undermining indigenous rights. The people of TIPNIS have legitimate concerns about the highway’s impact. There is also no doubt the government has made errors in its handling of the issue.

Unfortunately, petitions such as the one initiated by international lobby group Avaaz and a September 21 letter to Morales signed by over 60 environmental groups mostly outside Bolivia misrepresent the facts and misdirect their fire. They could inadvertently aid the opponents of the global struggle for climate justice.

Avaaz warns that the highway "could enable foreign companies to pillage the world's most important forest”. But it fails to mention the destruction that is already happening in the area, in some cases with the complicity of local indigenous communities. On the other hand, the Morales government has promised to introduce a new law, in consultation with communities within TIPNIS, to add new protections for the national park. The proposed law would set jail terms of between 10 to 20 years for illegal settlements, growing coca or logging in the national park.

Also, Avaaz claims that "huge economic interests" are motivating Morales’ support for the highway. But Avaaz omits the benefits that such a highway (whether it ultimately goes through TIPNIS or not) will bring Bolivia and its peoples. For example, this 306 kilometre highway linking the departments of Beni and Cochabamba (with only a part of it going through TIPNIS) would expand access to health care and other basic services to isolated local communities that now travel for days to receive medical care.

The highway would also give local agricultural producers greater access to markets to sell their goods. At the moment, these must go via Santa Cruz to the east before being able to be transported westward. Given Beni’s status as the largest meat producing department (state), this would break the hold that Santa Cruz-based slaughterhouses have on imposing meat prices. The highway would also allow the state to assert sovereignty over remote areas, including some where illegal logging takes place.

It is facts such as these that have convinced more than 350 Bolivian organisations, including many of the social organisations that have led the country’s inspiring struggles against neoliberalism, to support the proposed highway. Many indigenous organisations and communities (including within TIPNIS) support the highway. It is therefore false to describe this as a dispute between the government and indigenous people.

Nor is it a simple conflict between supporters of development and defenders of the environment.

All sides in the dispute want greater development and improved access to basic services. The issue at stake is how the second poorest country in the Americas, facing intense pressure from more powerful governments and corporate forces, can meet the needs of its people while protecting the environment.

Given this, surely it makes more sense for those who wish to defend Bolivia’s process of change to support steps towards dialogue, rather that deepening the divisions.

Legitimate criticism can be made of the government’s handling of the consultation process. But the Avaaz petition and the letter from environmental groups simply ignore the government’s repeated attempts to open discussions with the protesters. Half the members of Morales' ministerial cabinet, along with many more vice-ministers and heads of state institutions, have traveled to the march route to talk with protesters.

The petitioners don’t mention the Morales government’s public commitment to carry out a consultation process within the framework of the Bolivian constitution, popularly approved in 2009. Neither do they mention its offer to have the consultation process overseen by international observers selected by protesters themselves. The government has also remained open to discussing the economic and environmental feasibility of any alternative route that could bypass TIPNIS. No such alternative has been presented yet.

As a result of these initiatives, a number of the TIPNIS communities that had joined the march, as well as representatives from the Assembly of the Guarani People, have since decided to return home. They will continue discussions with the government.

Sadly, the key opponents of the proposed consultation process are among the march leaders, which includes organisations based outside TIPNIS. These organisations were also the main proponents of a further 15 demands being placed on the government the day the march began.

Many of these demands are legitimate. But it is alarming that some of the more dangerously backwards demands have been ignored or dismissed by international environment groups. For example, the letter to Morales raises concerns regarding the Bolivian president's statement that "oil drilling in Aguarague National Park 'will not be negotiated'". Those gas fields represent 90% of Bolivia's gas exports and are a vital source of funds that the Morales government has been using to tackle poverty and develop Bolivia's economy.

The fact that the bulk of gas revenue is controlled by the Bolivian state rather than transnational corporation is the result of years of struggles by the Bolivian masses, who rightfully believe this resource should be used to develop their country. The concerns of local communities should be, and have been, taken into consideration. But for Bolivia to cut off this source of revenue would have dire consequences for the people of one of the poorest nations in the Americas.

It would, without exaggeration, be economic suicide.

Initially, protesters also demanded a halt to gas extraction in Aguarague. They have retreated on this and are now focused on the question of plugging up unused oil wells due to the contamination this is could cause to local water supplies. Similarly, neither of the Internet statements mentions the protesters’ support for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program.

REDD is a grossly anti-environmental United Nations program that aims to privatise forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow rich, developed countries to continue polluting.

Some of the biggest proponents of this measure can be found among the NGOs promoting the march. Many of these have received direct funding from the US government, whose ambassador in Bolivia was expelled in September 2008 for supporting a right-wing coup attempt against the elected Morales government.

Rather than defend Bolivia’s sovereignty against US interference, the letter denounces the Bolivian government for exposing connections between the protesters and "obscure interests".

These "obscure interests" include the League for the Defence of the Environment (LIDEMA), which was set up with US government funds. Its backers include the US government aid agency, USAID, and the German-based Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which frequently funds actions against governments opposed by the United States and European governments such as Cuba.

Secret US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks and declassified US government files have conclusively shown that USAID directly targets indigenous communities in a bid to win them away from support for Morales and towards supporting US interests. Behind these very real interests lies a campaign by rich nations and conservative environmental groups to promote policies that represent a new form of "green imperialism".

After centuries of plundering the resources of other countries, wiping out indigenous populations, and creating a dire global environmental crisis, the governments of rich nations now use environmental concerns to promote policies that deny underdeveloped nations the right to control and manage their own resources. If they have their ways, these groups will reduce indigenous people to mere “park rangers”, paid by rich countries to protect limited areas, while multinational corporations destroy the environment elsewhere.

Bolivia's indigenous majority has chosen a very different road. They aim to create a new state in which they are no longer marginalised or treated as minority groups that require special protection. In alliance with other oppressed sectors, they aim to run their country for the collective benefit of the majority.

The Bolivian masses have successfully wrested government power from the traditional elites, won control over gas and other resources, and adopted a new constitution. Mistakes have been made, and are likely in future. But they are the mistakes of a people of a small, landlocked and underdeveloped country fighting constant imperialist assaults. Key to the Bolivian peoples’ fight is the world-wide front for climate justice, in which Bolivia is playing a vital leadership role.

One example was the 35,000-strong Peoples Summit on Climate Change organised by the Morales government in Cochabamba in April 2010. The summit’s final declaration named developed countries as “the main cause of climate change". It insisted that those countries must "recognise and honor their climate debt", redirecting funds from war to aiding poorer nations to develop their economies "to produce goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their population".

To achieve this, the international climate justice movement must focus its efforts on forcing rich nations to accept their responsibilities. The global movement must explicitly reject imperialist intervention in all its forms, including the “green imperialist” policies of US-funded NGOs. Only through such a campaign can we support the efforts of poorer countries to chart a development path that respects the environment.

Unfortunately, Avaaz and the organisations that have signed the letter against Morales let the real culprits off the hook. Their campaign should be rejected by all environmentalists and anti-imperialists fighting for a better a world.

Uruguay apologizes over alleged Haiti sex assault

Source: AFP, 07 September 2011.

Uruguay's president has apologized for the "outrage" carried out by peacekeepers accused of sexually assaulting a young Haitian man and vowed the "maximum penalty" for anyone found guilty. The soldiers, who were based in southern Haiti, stand accused of attacking an 18-year-old man in the small coastal town of Port-Salut. Video footage of the alleged attack on a Uruguayan base has been circulated on the Internet.

"I come at this terrible time to offer you and the dear and heroic people of Haiti my apologies for the outrage that some soldiers of my country committed," Uruguay's President Jose Mujica said in a letter released late Tuesday. "I share your sadness, which I feel as my own," he said, adding that authorities would investigate the matter and apply the "maximum penalty" to those responsible.

Uruguay's defense minister had earlier admitted that the incident had caused "a lot of damage" to the armed forces, which provide around 2,400 peacekeepers worldwide, mostly in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The five peacekeepers accused of sexual assault are to be sent home this week, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said. The Uruguayan government has opened a case in the matter, as peacekeepers must be tried in their home country for any crimes allegedly committed during their deployments abroad. Montevideo has also sacked a navy commander with the UN mission in Haiti over the incident.

Haitian President Michel Martelly has condemned the alleged attack and demanded a detailed report on the exact circumstances of the incident, according to his office. Martelly has also requested a meeting between Haitian officials and UN mission staff so that "measures can immediately be taken to ensure that such acts do not reoccur," his office said in a statement. On Monday, hundreds of people demonstrated in Port-Salut to demand justice for the alleged victim, while some Haitians have asked for the UN mission -- in the country since 2004 -- to be shut down.

The UN mission -- formed to help maintain peace after chaos erupted at the end of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's presidency -- has also come under fire after a cholera outbreak that could have been transmitted by Nepalese peacekeepers.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

‘Another terrible injustice’: A message from the Cuban Five on the execution of Troy Davis

Source; National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
by the Cuban Five, 23 September 2011.

The message below was sent by Ramón Labañino on behalf of the Cuban Five. The Cuban Five are political prisoners in the United States, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively after being falsely convicted of politically motivated criminal charges while monitoring the operations of anti-Cuba terrorist organizations in Miami.
Brothers and sisters: We feel deeply the horrific execution of Troy Davis. It is another terrible injustice and stain on the history of this country. We join in the pain felt by his relatives, friends and brothers across the world. Now we have another cause, another flag, to pursue our struggle for a better world for all, free of the death penalty and barbarism. In Troy’s honor, and all the innocents of the world, we must continue, united, until the final victory! Our most heart-felt condolences!
Five fraternal embraces,
Antonio Guerrero
Fernando González
Gerardo Hernández
René González
Ramón Labañino

Cuba launches campaign for Cuban Five

Source: South Journal, 11 September 2011.

The Cuban people, headed by the youth, kick off a nationwide campaign on Monday for the release of the five Cubans held in US jails for 13 years. The Campaign will run until October 6 and it will include actions not only in Cuba but also in other countries of the world, where people will demand the release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, known as the Cuban Five.

The initiative´s program includes views exchange, arts exhibitions, galas, an anti-imperialist tribunal, book launchings and other activities to start September 12, marking thirteen years of imprisonment of the Five.

Here a chronicle of the case:
September 1998: five Cubans were arrested in Miami by the FBI and held in punishment cells for 17 months before their case was taken to court. These Cubans were in the United States monitoring Florida-based ultra-right organizations of Cuban origin that had undertaken terrorist actions against Cuba, and even in US territory, over the past 50 years.

The five Cubans named Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez were charged with conspiracy against the United States. Three of them, Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio were also accused of conspiracy to commit espionage. But the US government never asserted that such act was committed. They were never proven to have possessed any classified document. Despite energetic objection by the defense, the case was taken to a court in Miami, a community harboring over half a million Cuban exiles with long hostile records against the Cuban government.

Miami was the environment which, a US federal appeal court described later as “the perfect storm” of prejudices that did not favor a fair trial. And this trial took over six months, being considered the longest such process ever in the United States. Three retired US army generals, a retired admiral, the former advisor to Bill Clinton on Cuban issues testified at the trial and said there was no evidence of espionage. Seven months after the official accusation was issued, a new charge was imposed on Gerardo Hernandez: conspiracy to committee assassination. This was the result of a huge media and public campaign to take revenge for the downing in 1996, by the Cuban air force, of two planes belonging to the Florida-based anti-Castro group “Brothers to the Rescue” and the death in the action of four members of this organization. The Brother to the Rescue planes had illegally entered Cuban airspace 25 times prior to the incident and during 20 months, which led to reiterated protests by the Cuban government.

At the end of the trial, just when the case was almost ready for sentencing, the US administration admitted its failure at proving the charge of conspiracy to commit assassination imposed on Hernandez by saying that in the light of the proofs presented, this would constitute an insurmountable obstacle for the United States in relation to this case and would also result in the failure of the specific accusation. However, the jury found Gerardo Hernandez and the other four Cubans guilty of all charges, following intense pressure by the local media.

The Cuban Five, as these men are known around the world, were given 4 life terms and 77 years. This conviction turned three of them into the first people in the United States to have been given life terms in espionage-related cases, in which there was no evidence of their possession or transfer of any secret document. And then, they were confined to five different high-security prisons, far off from each other and with no communication among them whatsoever.

 August 9, 2005: A three judge panel with the Atlanta Court of Appeals revoked the court ruling after considering that the Cuban Five were not given a fair trial in Miami. But, the US government requested the rehearing by the Court en banc of the decision reached by the three-judge panel. This procedure is an action that only takes place in cases involving constitutional principles. One year later, the court revoked, by majority, the unanimous decision of the three judges.

May 27, 2005: The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, after having considered the arguments presented by the relatives of the Cuban Five and by the US government, described the convictions as arbitrary and called on Washington to take the necessary measures to correct such decision.

September 2, 2008: Atlanta´s Court of Appeals ratified the guilty verdicts, upheld the convictions against Gerardo Hernandez (two life terms plus 15 years) and against Rene Gonzalez (15 years) while it annulled the sentences against Antonio Guerrero (life term plus 10 years), Fernando Gonzalez (19 years) and Ramon Labañino (life term plus 18 years) for considering them incorrect. So the cases of the three men were sent back to the Miami Court to be resentenced. The Court admitted the absence of any piece of evidence about the possession or transmission of any secret information or related to US national security in the case of the defendants under the charge of conspiracy to committee espionage. Some months later Antonio Guerrero was resentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison, plus a 5-year parole; Fernando was given 17 years and 9 months in prison; and Ramon 30 years in jail.

June 15, 2009: The US Supreme Court announced, without further details, its decision not to review the case of the five men despite the unquestionable arguments submitted by the defense in the face of evident and countless legal violations committed during the whole process. With this decision, the US justice also turned a deaf ear on the huge world support of this petition and of the Cuban Five, which was openly expressed in 12 amicus curiae documents—an unprecedented action since it has been the largest number of such documents ever filed with the US Supreme Court requesting the revision of a criminal case. The amicus curiae documents were signed by ten Nobel laureates including the president of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta; Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu, Jose Saramago, Wole Soyinka, Zhores Alferov, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Dario Fo and Maired Maguire; the Mexican Senate; Panama´s Parliament; former Irish President, Mary Robinson who was High UN Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and the former director of UNESCO, Federico Mayor, among others. From the legal point of view the case has concluded. The Cuban Five are now undertaking an extraordinary process, which is known as Habeas Corpus. This is a one-time opportunity of the defendants after all appeal resources have concluded with no success.

In October 2010, Amnesty International issued a report on the case, which read that if the legal appeal process did not yield on-time compensation, and given the long sentences imposed and the term already served by the Five, the organization would support all calls on US authorities to review the case through the proceeding of pardon or any other appropriate ways.

Cuban Five Demand Freedom 
by Teresita Jorge Carpio

The Cuban Five have been victims of an unfair conspiracy after being detained on September 12th 1998 for having infiltrated terrorist organizations based in southern Florida aimed at stopping actions against the Cuban people. Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero were abruptly striped from their family and submitted to a biased trial in Miami and later sentenced to long unfair prison terms ranging from 15 years to 2 life plus 15 years.

Their defense statements were impressive, sincere and passionate. Tony Guerrero´s defense was poetic stating that they will always defend their principles and cause in their unjust imprisonment. His final words affirm a better future when he said: Because, at the end, we shall rest free and victorious beneath that sun which we are denied today. Rene did not request clemency, but justice for his comrades accused of crimes they did not commit, while Ramon proclaimed: I will wear the prison uniform with the same honor and pride with which a soldier wear his most prized insignias! Fernando concluded by saying: In my years in prison, I always carry with me the dignity I have learned from my people and their history. Gerardo Hernandez was also an example of integrity and dignity when he praised US patriot Nathan Hale saying: My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country." Love and hope irradiate the letters of these five men that synthesizes a history of value, sacrifice and love as characterized by African American writer Alice Walker.

A phrase by French writer Victor Hugo became their own: "Love, you know, seeks to make happy rather than to be happy." Sweetness and kindness accompany the heroism of the Cuban Five in its incarceration in the dark dungeon, witness of their commitment to the Homeland and their loved ones. To his jewels, as characterized Ramon Labañino to his wife Elizabeth Palmeiro and daughters, he said: Love is the most profound feeling in our lives. Rene Gonzalez, one of the five anti terrorist fighters incarcerated for the last 13 years write to his daughter Ivette: Your good qualities today will turn into virtues tomorrow. In every letter, message or telephone contact, Gerardo, Rene, Ramon Fernando and Tony constantly transmit a message of love and hope.

These five men, characterized by Gail Walker as heroes are dignified heirs of Jose Marti. Homeland is Humanity, said Cuba´s National Hero. They are an international symbol from their prison cells in the fight for peace and for making a reality the desire that a better world is possible. Their loyalty for the Homeland and firmness of the principles are an example for the honest citizens of the world that demand the immediate release of the five giants, as characterized by the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Libya Resistance News Agency created in Venezuela

Source:, 20 September 2011.

by Tamara Pearson

The Libyan Resistance News Agency (ANRL) was inaugurated yesterday in Caracas at a forum in the Gallegos Foundation Centre for Latin American Studies (CELARG). It aims to break the “information blockade imposed by the international mass media” regarding what’s going on in North Africa and the Middle East. The agency came out of an “autonomous” proposal by popular collectives and national and international journalist movements, according to the coordinator of yesterday’s forum, “Palestine, Libya, and Syria: Between Revolution and Counter-revolution”, Venezuelan journalist and a founder of the agency, Hindu Anderi, speaking to the Correo del Orinoco.

The initiative is independent of the Venezuelan government, receiving no financial or technical support from it or from any Venezuelan government institution. Among the other founders of the news agency are journalists Cristina Gonzalez, Marcos Salgado, Richard Penalver, Miguel Cova, Hernan Cano, and members of the La Piedrita collective, a group “dedicated to Guevaran volunteer work” and grassroots work to solve community problems.

The ANRL also has the support of Cuba Periodistas, the journalists’ union of Cuba. “We are open to all the international collectives who want to participate in this initiative,” Anderi said. The agency’s website is ‘Al Mukawama - Resistencia’, where it has sections for the latest information, “Specials”, analysis, video, audio, and features. The site is currently only in Spanish. “It’s an initiative responding to the need in the world for information that isn’t distorted. That’s why any project like this is welcome,” Anderi said. “Analysis will be made of all the information coming out of the different spaces, about the conflict in our North African brother nation,” she added. In terms of sources the agency will use, Anderi said they would include “direct sources”. “Remember that much of the media that broadcasts information from Libya is censored by the system. In Libya there are many resistance groups and there are, we might say, communication initiatives that are going to be consulted. Also, of course, [we’ll also use] all those websites for the resistance and progressive international agencies linked to our approach,” she explained.

Another member of the news agency, Basem Tajeldine, said that the “Libyan companeros” also put out a lot of information through websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, from which the agency will also compile information and reports. Tajeldine said the new news agency would also supply “correct information to the different community, national, and international radio programs, and also to the Venezuelan public media”.

See also: Telesur journalists speak truth on Libya, 08 September 2011; and ALBA bloc moves to halt “imperialism” through United Nations, 11 September 2011.

Resistance symbol killed in Honduras

Source:, 08 September 2011.

The FNRP holds the Honduran State responsible for the act

This day [September 7] during the afternoon the tragic death of a member of the National Front of People’s Resistance was announced. A naturalized Honduran Mahadeo Roopchand Sadloo Sadloo, better known as Emo, who after returning from a FNRP rally was attacked on the visitors area of his own retailing business.
As expressed by witnesses, Emo was in his tire repair shop near the Hospital Escuela, when a man approached him and without saying a word shot his humanity, with at least 6 shots, immediately afterwards he fled. Still alive, Emo was taken to the emergency room of Hospital Escuela, where he died soon after.

At the emergency room former First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, who declared that they have killed a symbol of resistance, "do not come to me and say this is a common crime, this is a political crime" said Castro de Zelaya.

"We will demand an investigation into what happened," Castro said while adding that the murder of Emo is a threat against former president, since the now deceased was very close to Zelaya and participated openly in the mass mobilizations and concentrations of FNRP. During the morning, he participated in a rally in front of the Court of Appeals, in solidarity with a member of the FNRP, Enrique Flores Lanza, demanding an end to political persecution against members of the National Front of People's Resistance.

Cuba excluded from UN 2010 Human Development Index

Source: CaricomNews Network, 19 February 2011.

by Calvin G. Brown

Cuba is protesting its exclusion from the United Nations 2010 Human Development Index (HDI) calling it a political manipulation aimed at trying to ignore the great strides that country’s development.A statement on the matter from the Cuban Embassy noted that “In the 2009 Human Development Report, Cuba was listed as the 51 country worldwide, preceded only by developed countries and by Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, which means that we were part of the list of “High Human Development” countries. In 2010, if you analyze health and education only, Cuba would rank 17 and considering the Gross Domestic Product it would move into place 36 in the HDI, which would place us on the list of countries with a “Very High Human Development”, where developed nations are ranked.”

Human Development Index (HDI) which is published by the United Nations, is a world reference for the assessment of a country’s human development level and is used to make comparisons at a global level. “Whichever way you look at it, this is a political manipulation aimed at ignoring Cuba’s headways. The 2010 HDI bases its indicators on inequalities and poverty, in which Cuba would rank at an outstanding position worldwide for being one of the countries where citizens have universal and free access to health, education up to university and postgraduate levels, employment and social security regardless of race or gender, which is acknowledged throughout the world in UNDP precedent reports and in the reports issued by other international organizations like UNESCO and the WHO, among others,” the Cuban statement declared.

According to the statement, “the reason put forward by the Office that drafts this report is that Cuba is among the 4 countries of the world which have the data of all the HDI components except for the gross domestic product (GDP), since it does not use the “global purchasing power parity” (PPP) method used by the World Bank and therefore by the HDI to determine its GDP.” Cuba says “this justification is a falsehood, as Cuba worked with CEPAL in 2005 to resolve those difficulties in relation to the Cuban indicators and our data have been officially acknowledged by the UN system. In fact, our Gross Domestic Income was posted on the UNDP Website until the day following the publication of the HDI Report, time at which it was suppressed.”

The report violates the provisions contained in resolution 57/264 of the United Nations General Assembly, which establishes the process for its drafting, particularly, for the drafting of the Human Development Report that should be drawn up in a neutral and transparent way, in full and effective consultation with Member States and bearing in mind the unbiased character and the use of the sources.

Among the most negative elements identified in relation with our country is the inclusion of indicators not approved by the inter-governmental organs. The attempts of the UNDP and the HDI Office to draw up assessments and data on issues that are above their competence have been the object of the widest rejection by member states and given rise to resolutions of the UN General Assembly. This is not the first time that Cuba is excluded from the HDI. In 2001, Cuba was not included “by chance” due to the lack of data on the gross domestic product. That incident provoked the reaction that led to the promotion and adoption of resolution 57/264.

The information on Cuba in the 2010 HDI Report is not only unacceptably tendentious but it also twists the reality of a country that has endured the longest and most unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade in the history of mankind; a policy that represents the main hindrance to its development. Despite of that, Cuba shows significant results on social matters, which are internationally acknowledged.

This kind of manipulation of statistical data with political ends against Cuba, which lacks objective bases, far from favoring prestige and the acknowledgement merited by an organ like the UN Development Program, arouses discredit, categorical rejection and lack of trust from Cuba. The UNDP must refrain from favoring these ignominies against UN member states. Cuba demands a public, oral and written rectification in relation with the information on the Human Development Index so that our results are known.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Forced disappearances being implemented in Honduras

COFADEH: Once Again Forced Disappearance is being Implemented in Honduras
Source: HondurasHumanRights blog (espanol)

 The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), with great concern, would like to inform the international community, and the Honduran population in particular, that the practice of forced disappearance is once again being systematically implemented in Honduras, as demonstrated by the following cases.

1. Osmin Obando Cáceres (age 22), son of Eliodoro Cáceres, Coordinator of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) in Tela, department of Atlántida, has been disappeared since Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 4:30 PM when he was driving his taxi and told his family that he couldn’t speak to them by phone because he was surrounded by police. The taxi appeared abandoned that same day around 6:30PM in the community of Los Cedros, in the jurisdiction of Tela. After his disappearance, the family received false calls, one caller claiming that Osmin was in the hospital in Tela and another that claimed that he was dead in the community of Las Palmas. Relatives went to verify each of the calls and neither was true.

2. Denis Alexander Russel (age 19) was captured in an operation of the Special Anti-Kidnapping Taskforce (GEAS) on July 13, 2010. The operation was commanded by Vice Minister of Security Armando Calidonio and police spokesperson Juan Rochez. His mother, Carlota Anariva, denounced that the day he was taken away he had been with her buying groceries, and when they returned to the house she left him to park the car and suddenly the neighbours came to tell her that her son had been taken away. He was a student in the Instituto de la Patria in La Lima, Department of Cortés.

3. Luís Alexander Torres Casaleno, detained on July 20, 2010 by police agents while driving his motorcycle, after having passed a police checkpoint on the Corocito highway towards Tocoa, Colón. A few kilometers passed the checkpoint he was detained by four agents of the Preventative Police who were riding in a white unmarked double-cab pick-up truck and crossed in front of him on the highway. Two agents in uniform got out of the truck and put him into the vehicle, leaving his motorcycle behind. The motorcycle was retrieved by the Corocito police shortly afterwards. A habeas corpus was filed in his name and there has been no response to date.

4. Vilmar Edmundo Talavera Avilez, a police officer, was detained by the Border Police (Policía de Frontera y Análisis) on July 15, 2010 when he was riding a bus. He was detained after presenting his identification documents. Before his disappearance he was reportedly threatened by a police officer by the name of Tercero.

5. Samuel Josué Pastrana Molina was kidnapped on February 7, 2011 at 2:30 when armed men with ski masks entered the place he was in the department of El Paraíso, ordered those who were with him to place themselves on the ground and close there eyes, and they took him away.

6. Francisco Pascual López of the Rigores agricultural cooperative in Tocoa, Colón, is disappeared since May 15, 2011.

7. Kelvin Omar Andrade Hernández (age 18), son of political exile Dagoberto Andrade, mysteriously disappeared on June 11, 2011 when he went out to ride his motorcycle in the neighbourhood of Bella Vista in Catacamas, department of Olancho. He has not appeared since.

8. Mauricio Joel Urbino Castro (34), who worked as a taxi driver of taxi number 248 in the city of Ceiba in the department of Atlántida. He was having a problem with the electrical system of the car on August 2, 2011 and at approximately 4:30PM he arrived at a garage that specialized in electrical repairs in the San José neighbourhood of Ceiba to repair the vehicle. At about the same time four men whose faces were covered with ski masks, of large and muscular build, who were carrying long and short barrelled weapons, identified themselves as police and immediately ordered all present inside the garage to get on the ground, shouting “we’re the police – hit the floor!” while they kicked the garage owner. They then proceeded to beat Mauricio Joel Urbina Castro, fastened his hands behind him, and violently removed him from the garage, forcing him into a grey double-cab pick-up truck with heavily tinted windows and without liscence plate which was waiting in the street. He has not been seen since and his cellphone has never been answered since.

9. Oscar Elías López Muñoz (49) was kidnapped by masked men around 5:00 AM on Sunday August 21st in the Suyapa neighbourhood of Chamelecón in the North of Honduras. The men arrived in three cars and broke down the doors of his home, where López Muños was with his wife and ten year-old daughter. They said they were agents of the National Department of Criminal Investigation (DNIC). They were wearing hoods and ski masks.

10. José Reynaldo Cruz Palma, president of the Community Council (Patronato) of Planeta Neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula. According to his family members he was kidnapped on August 30, 2011 by agents of the DNIC and Preventative Police when he was travelling by public transport along with his wife Nubia Carvajal between La Lima, Cortés and their home in the neighbourhood of Planeta. The bus he was riding in was intercepted by various agents of both police forces who were driving in two vehicles, one was a grey Mazda double-cab pick-up truck with the partial licence plate BP50 and the other was a patrol vehicle of the Preventative Police. The uniformed agents got on the bus, said to his wife that the problem was not with her but with her partner, and took him by force.

In light of these facts COFADEH has filed the corresponding denunciations but to date the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and state investigative bodies have maintained a conspiratorial silence and have not taken any action in any of these cases.

COFADEH is accompanying these new families who are regrettably suffering this torturous journey and hold the State of Honduras responsible for the re-implementation of this despicable practice, which is a crime against humanity and was carried out in the 1980s against our relatives, who we are still looking for. The people responsible for these crimes continue to benefit from impunity and many are still part of the failed institutions of this country.


Monday, 12 September 2011

RATB reports: solidarity with the Cuban 5 – September 2011

Rock around the Blockade – events in Britain in solidarity with the Cuban 5 – September 2011

On Saturday 10 September, as part of the international days of action for the Cuban 5, on the 13th anniversary of their incarceration in US gaols, members and supporters of Rock around the Blockade in Britain, supported by the Revolutionary Communist Group, held street rallies in four cities: in Glasgow by Donald Dewar Statue, in Newcastle at Grey’s Monument, in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens and in Trafalgar Square in London.

We gathered under banners demanding the freedom for the five political prisoners, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González, and with petitions, leaflets, flags and placards, with open microphones, speeches and music, we ensured that everyone who passed the stalls understood the significance of the day and the importance of the Cuban 5, the need to build the campaign for their freedom and solidarity with the socialist revolution in Cuba. The Cuban 5 may have exhausted their legal avenues in the US, but the political struggle on the streets all around the world goes on.

Comrades gave speeches in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and against the US blockade, they talked of the gains made in Cuba, contrasting this with the cuts in public services in Britain in the current economic crisis where health care and education for all are under threat. Speakers raised the issue of the vengeance of the capitalist state against those who pose any threat, as we are witnessing currently in the aftermath of the uprisings in August in cities in Britain. The US and Britain continue shamelessly to use the guise of fighting terrorism while bombing, killing, torturing and incarcerating those who rise up against imperialism. The movement against this oppression must be anti-imperialist, militant and uncompromising. Socialist Cuba and the Cuban 5 are showing the way.

The international days of action for the Cuban 5 have also been marked by Rock around the Blockade with film showings in all these four cities of Saul Landau’s award winning documentary, Will the real terrorist please stand up, released this year which tells the hidden story of 50 years of US terrorism against Cuba, presenting the case of the Cuban 5.

Rock around the Blockade has the following message for the Cuban 5:

‘Dear comrades,

We are writing to you with solidarity on the 13th anniversary of your detention and imprisonment. We organise regular demonstrations, meetings, film showings and solidarity brigades for Cuba because we know that Cuba is a beacon of hope for oppressed people around the world. We know that here in imperialist Britain we have a lot to learn from socialist Cuba and it is the only way to destroy the state and overthrow capitalism. We want to thank you for your continued struggle in the prisons of the US and we want you to know that we take a lot of inspiration from your fight and the continued advances of the Cuban revolution. We are not going to stop until capitalism is destroyed and you are free.

With much love and solidarity,

Rock around the Blockade’

For more information about Rock around the Blockade visit

Cuba Solidarity campaign joined in with RATB in Manchester, 10 September 2011.
Rock around the Blockade – Gran Bretana– solidaridad con los Cinco Cubanos - September 2011

El sábado 10 de septiembre, los miembros de Rock around the Blockade y el Grupo Comunista Revolucionario, realizó un evento animada en las calles de Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester, Glasgow y Londres, Gran Bretana, exigiendo la libertad de los 5 cubanos. Los compañeros dieron discursos en solidaridad con Cuba Socialista, contra el bloqueo de EE.UU. y en contra de la prisión ilegal de los cinco héroes cubanos. Los habitantes se detuvo a firmar peticiones para los 5 cubanos y firmar cartas de solidaridad que han sido enviados a Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero y René González. La manifestación marcó 13 años desde su detención en Miami y busca destacar el caso de los 5 cubanos y fomentar la solidaridad con la Revolución Socialista Cubana. Rock around the Blockade tiene el siguiente mensaje para los 5 cubanos y sus partidarios

‘Queridos compañeros,

Nos dirigimos a ustedes con la solidaridad en el 13 aniversario de sus detención y encarcelamiento. Se organizan manifestaciones periódicas, reuniones, proyecciones de películas y brigadas de solidaridad de Cuba, porque sabemos que Cuba es un faro de esperanza para los pueblos oprimidos de todo el mundo. Sabemos que aquí en Gran Bretaña imperialista que tenemos mucho que aprender de Cuba socialista y es la única manera de destruir el Estado y derrocar el capitalismo. Queremos darle las gracias por su continu luacha en las cárceles de los EE.UU. y queremos que sepan que tenemos un montón de inspiración de que la lucha continúa y los avances de la revolución cubana. No vamos a dejar de luchar hasta que el capitalismo se destruye y ustedes son libres.

Mucho amor y solidaridad.

Rock around the Blockade’

El fin de semana de acción culmina en una película que muestra de "¿El verdadero terrorista por favor ponerse de pie", un premiado documental lanzado este año cuenta la historia oculta de 50 años de terrorismo estadounidense contra Cuba, al presentar el caso de la Cinco cubanos. Los entrevistados son renombrados terroristas Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, José Basulto y otros, que tengan libertad de caminar por la calles de Miami, apoyado y protegido por el gobierno de EE.UU., junto con
imágenes raras de la invasión de Bahía de Cochinos.

Para más información sobre Rock around the Blockade, visita

Chile police officer implicated in student death

Source: The Santiago Times, 29 August 2011.

by Alison Silveira and Adeline Bash

Bullet from officer's UZI machine gun matches that found in student's body, prosecutor says.

The bullet that killed 16-year-old high school student Manuel Gutiérrez last week was fired from Carabinero police officer Miguel Millacura's firearm, prosecutor Jorge Martinez confirmed late Monday night. Martinez said that experts reviewed 160 weapons before concluding that Millacura’s was a match.

Millacura was asked to resign earlier Monday after admitting to using his firearm in the Macul borough of Santiago near where Gutiérrez was shot and killed Thursday night.
According to an announcement by Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Millacura hid his 9mm UZI submachine gun and changed the ammunition after the incident to avoid detection by the prosecutor's office.

In a press conference, Minister Hinzpeter also formally requested that the national director of Carabineros ask Gen. Sergio Gajardo, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Zone, to resign. Gajardo rejected the possibility of police involvement in the student's death last week and refused to open an internal investigation into possible wrongdoing within the police force.

Four other Carabinero officers were also discharged from the force Monday night in connection with the student death.

"Just as we have said on many occasions, we support the important, valuable sacrifices made by the Carabineros de Chile, but we demand that their actions be always within the framework of respecting the law, the rights of our citizens, and the norms that regulate these procedures," Hinzpeter said. "In this we are categorically inflexible."

He called both for recognition of the difficult situation that Carabineros have faced at ongoing student protests, and asked for the cooperation of both citizens and police officers in understanding and respecting the law and public order.

According to local media, Millacura, who has been with the Carabinero police force for 18 years, admitted early Monday to firing two shots into the air from an UZI machine gun close to midnight Thursday in the same area where Gutiérrez was reportedly shot in the chest. Gutiérrez died Friday morning in a nearby hospital.

Officer Millacura insisted that he fired his weapon only in response to other gunshots fired by protestors in the Macul area after Chile’s two-day national strike on Wednesday and Thursday.

Witnesses, including Manuel’s brother Gerson Gutiérrez who was with him at the time, have nevertheless maintained that Carabineros were responsible the youth’s death.

Carabinero officials immediately rejected these claims, however, initially refusing to even conduct an internal investigation.

Police maintained this stance until Monday, when Deputy Chief José Luis Ortega confirmed that Millacura was asked to resign for unauthorized use of his firearm. Ortega insisted that the measure was not related to possible involvement in the 16-year-old’s death.

There is still not enough evidence to connect Carabineros to Gutiérrez’s death, Ortega said midday Monday, explaining that an investigation of the bullet extracted from the youth would help officials better determine whether it came from Millacura’s weapon. Yet by Monday night Hinzpeter had confirmed the bullet to be a match for Millacura's machine gun.

The announcement about Millacura’s unauthorized firearm use on Monday coincided with public demands by politicians, national human rights groups and Chilean activists for investigation into alleged police involvement in Gutiérrez’s death.

"It's not reassuring that police officers use their weapons against civilians," said Supreme Court Justice and spokesperson Jaime Rodríguez after Hinzpeter's Monday night announcement.

Rodríguez likewise recommended that the case be reviewed by the military justice system, as the Carabineros police force is considered part of the Armed Forces.

On Saturday, student strike leaders demanded further investigation into Gutiérrez’s death as one of their pre-conditions for meeting with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera to discuss education reform. That same day, Lorena Fries, president of Chile’s National Institute of Human Rights (INDH), publicly criticized Carabinero police officials’ refusal to investigate the claims of police involvement.

“It does not seem like an adequate response by the Carabineros to say we are not going to investigate because we had nothing to do with it,” Fries told Radio Cooperativa, adding that the organization plans to take legal action if someone is not held accountable.

According to Fries, appropriate investigation into Manuel’s death is especially pertinent given the Carabinero police force’s fragile public image, especially in light of allegations of excessive force in the recent citizen demonstrations across Chile.

“We know that there have been incidents of excessive violence in different cities and regions of the country,” Fries said. “(Investigating Gutiérrez death) requires maximum transparency so as to not increase the public’s existing distrust of police activity.”

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Cuba refuses to recognize the Transitional National Council in Libya

by the Cuban Foreign Ministry

Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi

The Foreign Ministry of Cuba has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Libya, where foreign intervention and NATO military aggression has exacerbated the conflict and prevented the Libyan people from advancing toward a peaceful negotiated solution, in full exercise of their self-determination.

The Republic of Cuba does not recognize the Transitional National Council, nor any provisional authority, and will only recognize a government established in Libya in a legitimate manner, without foreign intervention, through the free, sovereign, and common will of the brother people of Libya.

Ambassador Víctor Ramírez Peña and First Secretary Armando Pérez Suárez, accredited in Tripoli, have maintained impeccable conduct, strictly observing their diplomatic status, have endured risks, and have stood by the Libyan people in this tragic situation. They have directly witnessed the NATO bombings of civilian targets and deaths of innocent people.

Under the grotesque pretense of protecting civilians, the NATO has murdered thousands of them, disregarded the constructive initiatives of the African Union and other countries, and even violated the questionable resolutions imposed at the Security Council, in particular by its attacks on civilian targets, by its financing and arming of one side, and by its deployment of diplomatic and operational personnel on the ground.

The United Nations has ignored the clamor of international public opinion in defense of peace and ended up becoming complicit in a war of conquest. The facts confirm the early warnings of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and the timely condemnations issued by Cuba at the UN. Now the world can see better what purpose the so-called "Responsibility to Protect" serves in the hands of the powerful.

Cuba declares that nothing can justify the murder of innocent people.

The Foreign Ministry demands the immediate end to NATO bombings, which continue to claim lives, and reiterates the urgent need to permit the Libyan people to find a peaceful negotiated solution, without foreign intervention, in exercise of their inalienable right to independence and self-determination, to sovereignty over their national resources, and to the territorial integrity of that brother nation.

Cuba condemns the conduct of the NATO, which is aimed at creating similar conditions for intervention in Syria, and demands the end to foreign intervention in that Arab country. Cuba calls upon the international community to prevent a new war, urges the United Nations to abide by its duty to safeguard peace, and supports the right of the Syrian people to full sovereignty and self-determination.

Havana, 3 September 2011

The original statement "Declaración del MINREX: Cuba no reconoce al Consejo Nacional de Transición" may be read at

See also: Nicaragua refuses to recognise NTC, calls NATO drunken warmonger, 05 September 2011.