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Thread: President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba

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    President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba

    President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba
    Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

    Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
    march 9, 2016 14:03:18
    The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, will make an official visit to Cuban this coming March 20-22.

    This will be the second time a U.S. President comes to our archipelago. Previously having done so was Calvin Coolidge, who landed in Havana in January of 1928. He arrived aboard a warship to attend the 6th Pan American Conference, which was held at that time under the sponsorship of a local figure recalled as infamous, Gerardo Machado.

    This will be the first time a President of the United States comes to a Cuba in full possession of her sovereignty and with a Revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.

    This event is part of the process initiated December 17, 2014, when the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the complex process of normalization of bilateral ties, which has barely begun, and has advanced on the only grounds that are possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity, and the recognition of our government’s legitimacy.

    This point has been reached, in the very first place, as a result of the Cuban people’s heroic resistance and loyalty to principles, the defense of national independence and sovereignty. Such values, which have not been negotiable for 50 years, led the United States government to admit the severe damage the blockade has caused our population, and recognize the failure of the openly hostile policy toward the Revolution. Not with force, economic coercion, or isolation were they able to impose conditions on Cuba which were contrary to our aspirations, forged over almost 150 years of heroic struggle.

    The current process undertaken with the United States has been possible also thanks to unwavering international solidarity, in particular from the governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, who put the United States in an unsustainable position of isolation. Strongly united, “like silver in the bedrock of the Andes,” as our national hero José Martí said in his essay “Our America,” Latin America and the Caribbean demanded a change in policy toward Cuba. This regional demand was made unequivocally clear at the Summits of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, and in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, when all countries of the region unanimously and categorically demanded the lifting of the blockade, and our country’s participation in the 7th hemispheric meeting in Panama, in 2015, to which a Cuban delegation, led by Raúl, attended, for the first time.

    Since the announcements of December, 2014, Cuba and the United States have taken steps toward improving the bilateral context.

    On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations were officially reestablished, along with the commitment to develop them on the basis of respect, cooperation, and observance of the principles of international law.

    Two meetings between the Presidents of the countries have taken place, in addition to the exchange of visits by ministers and other contacts between high ranking officials. Cooperation in various areas of mutual benefit are advancing, and new opportunities for discussion have opened up, allowing for dialogue on issues of bilateral and multi-lateral interest, including those about which we have different conceptions.

    The U.S. President will be welcomed by the government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality which distinguishes us, and will be treated with all consideration and respect, as befits a head of state.

    This will be an opportunity for the President to directly observe a nation immersed in its economic and social development, and in improving its citizens’ wellbeing. This people enjoys rights, and can exhibit achievements which are only dreams for many of the world’s countries, despite the limitations derived from our condition as an underdeveloped, blockaded country - which has earned us international recognition and respect.

    Figures of international renown such as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill described this island, in their joint statement released in Havana in February, as “a symbol of hope of the New World.” French President François Hollande recently affirmed, “Cuba is respected and heard throughout Latin America,” and praised the country’s capacity for resistance in the face of the most difficult tests. South African leader Nelson Mandela always had words of profound gratitude for Cuba. In Matanzas, on July 26, 1991, he said, “Those of us in Africa are accustomed to being victims of other countries who want to seize our territory or subvert our sovereignty. In the history of Africa, there is no other example of a people (like the Cuban) who have come to the defense of one of us.”

    Obama will find himself in a country which actively contributes to regional and world peace and stability, and which shares with other peoples not what we have left over, but the modest resources we possess, making solidarity an essential element of our identity, and humanity’s wellbeing - one of the fundamental objectives of our international policy, as Martí imparted to us.

    He will also have the opportunity to meet a noble, friendly, dignified people with an elevated sense of patriotism and national unity, who have always struggled for a better future, despite the adversities we have been obliged to face.

    The President of the United States will be received by a revolutionary people with a deeply-rooted political culture, which is the result of a long tradition of struggle for its true, definitive independence, first against Spanish colonialism and later against imperialist domination by the United States – a struggle in which our best sons and daughters have shed their blood and faced all manner of risks. A people who will never renounce the defense of their principles and the vast work of the Revolution, following without vacillation the examples of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena, Antonio Guiteras and Ernesto Che Guevara, among many others.

    This is also a people united by historical, cultural and affective ties with that of the United States, whose emblematic figure, the writer Ernest Hemingway, received the Nobel Prize for literature for a novel set in Cuba. A people which shows its gratitude to those from the United States who, like Thomas Jordan [1], Henry Reeve, Winchester Osgood [2] and Frederick Funston [3], fought with the Liberation Army in our wars of independence against Spain; and those who in the more recent era have opposed aggression against Cuba, like Reverend Lucius Walker who defied the blockade to bring solidarity and help to our people, and supported the return to the homeland of the boy Elián González and the Cuban Five. We learned from Martí to admire the homeland of Lincoln and repudiate Cutting [4].

    Worth recalling are the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on September 11, 2001, when he affirmed, “Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hate for the U.S. people has never been sowed here. Perhaps, precisely because of its culture, and lack of complexes, feeling fully free, with a homeland and no master, Cuba is the country where U.S. citizens are treated with more respect. We have never preached any kind of national hate, or things that seem fanatical, that is why we are so strong, because we base our conduct on principles, on ideas, and treat every U.S. citizens who visits us with great respect – and they perceive this.”

    This is the people who will receive President Obama, proud of their history, their roots, their national culture, and confident that a better future is possible. A nation that assumes with serenity and determination the current stage of relations with the United States, that recognizes the opportunities, as well as the unresolved problems between the two countries.

    The President of the United States’ visit will be an important step in the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It must be remembered that Obama, as James Carter did previously, has decided to work toward normalization of ties with Cuba making use of his executive powers, and has consequently taken concrete action in this direction.

    Nevertheless, a long, difficult road lies ahead to reach normalization, which will require the solution of key issues which have accumulated over more than five decades, and entrenched the confrontational character of relations between the two countries. Such problems are not resolved overnight, or with a Presidential visit.

    To normalize relations with the United States, it is imperative that the economic, commercial, financial blockade - which causes the Cuba people hardship, and is the principal obstacle to our country’s development - be lifted.

    Worthy of recognition are President Obama’s reiterated position that the blockade must be eliminated and his call on Congress to lift it. This is also a demand supported by a growing majority of the U.S. public, and almost unanimously by the international community, which on 24 occasions, in the United Nations General Assembly, has approved the Cuban resolution “The necessity of putting an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba.”

    The U.S. President has taken steps to modify the implementation of some aspects of the blockade, which is positive. High ranking officials of his administration have said that others are being studied. Nevertheless, it has not been possible to implement a good portion of these measures given their limited reach, and because of the continuing existence of other regulations, and the intimidating effect of the blockade as a whole, which has been strictly enforced for 50 years.

    It is contradictory that, on the one hand, the government adopts these measures, and on the other, intensifies sanctions against Cuba which affect the daily life of our people.

    Reality continues to show that the blockade is being maintained, and is rigorously enforced, with a notable extra-territorial reach, which has a chilling effect on companies and banks in the United States and other countries.

    Exemplifying this are the multi-million dollar fines which continue to be levied on U.S. companies and banking institutions, and those of other nationalities, for having relations with Cuba; the denial of services and the blocking of financial operations of international banks with our country; and the freezing of legitimate transfers of funds to and from Cuba, including those in currencies other than the U.S dollar.

    The Cuban people hope that the U.S. President’s visit will serve to consolidate his will to be actively involved in a thorough debate in Congress for the lifting of the blockade, and, in the meantime, that he continues to use his executive prerogatives to modify as much as possible its application, without the need for legislative action.

    Other issues which are damaging Cuban sovereignty must also be resolved in order to achieve normal relations between the two countries. Territory occupied by the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo, against the will of our government and people, must be returned to Cuba, to respect the unanimous wish of Cubans, expressed for more than 100 years. Interventionist programs, intended to provoke destabilizing situations and changes in our country’s political, economic, social order, must be eliminated. The “regime change” policy must be definitively interred.

    At the same time, the pretension of fabricating a domestic political opposition, supported by money from U.S. contributors, must be abandoned. An end must be put to aggressive radio and television broadcasts directed toward Cuba in open violation of international law, and the illegitimate use of telecommunications for political purposes, recognizing that the goal is not to exercise a given influence on Cuban society, but to put technology at the service of development and knowledge.

    The preferential migratory treatment our citizens receive, in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot-dry foot” policy, causes the loss of human life, and encourages illegal emigration and trafficking in persons, in addition to generating problems for third countries. This situation must be changed, as must be canceled the “parole” program for Cuban medical professionals which deprives the country of human resources vital to the health of our people, and affects the intended beneficiaries of Cuban cooperation with nations which need our support. Likewise, policies which require Cuban athletes to break ties with their country, in order to play in U.S. leagues, must change.

    These policies of the past are incongruent with the new stage which the United States government has initiated with our country. They were all established prior to the administration of President Obama, but he can modify some of them with executive decisions, and eliminate others entirely.

    Cuba has assumed the construction of a new relationship with the United States, fully exercising its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity. No one can presume that to do so we must renounce a single one of our principles, concede an inch in their defense, or abandon what is declared in our Constitution: “Economic, diplomatic relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threats, or coercion by a foreign power.”

    Not even the slightest doubt can be harbored with respect to Cuba’s unconditional commitment to its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, and its foreign policy in favor of the world’s just causes, the defense of peoples’ self-determination, and traditional support to our sister countries.

    As was expressed in the latest Revolutionary Government Declaration, our solidarity is, and will be, immutable, with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government led by President Nicolás Maduro, and the Bolivarian, Chavista people, which are struggling to find their own path, and confront systematic destabilization attempts and unilateral sanctions established by an unfounded, unjust U.S. Executive Order, in March of 2015, which was condemned throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The announcement made this past March 3, extending the so-called “National Emergency” and the sanctions, is an unacceptable, direct intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and its sovereignty. The Order must be abolished, and this will be a firm, ongoing demand by Cuba.

    As Army General Raúl Castro said, “We will not renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, or surrender even a single one of our principles, or concede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.

    We will not allow ourselves to be pressured in regards to our internal affairs. We have won this sovereign right with great sacrifices and at the cost of great risks.”

    We reiterate one more time, we have reached this point as a result of our convictions, and because we have reason and justice on our side.

    Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the region’s heads of state and government, which include absolute respect for independence, sovereignty, and the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system without interference of any kind; in addition to equality, and reciprocity.

    Cuba reiterates its full disposition to maintain respectful dialogue with the government of the United States, and develop relations of civilized coexistence.

    Coexisting does not mean being obliged to renounce the ideas in which we believe and have brought us thus far, or our socialism, our history, our culture.

    The profound conceptual differences between Cuba and the United States on political models, social justice, international relations, world peace and stability, among others, will persist.

    Cuba defends the indivisibility, interdependence and universality of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. We are convinced that it is an obligation of governments to defend and guarantee the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the rights of children, as well as the right to food and development. We reject the political manipulation and double standards relating to human rights, which must end. Cuba, which has signed 44 international instruments on this subject, while the United States has only committed to 18, has much to share, to defend, and show.

    What our ties with the United States should accomplish is that the two countries respect their differences, and create a relationship which is beneficial for both peoples.

    Regardless of the progress which can be achieved in ties with the United States, the Cuban people will continue to move forward. With our own efforts and proven capacity and creativity, we will continue to work for the country’s development and the wellbeing of Cubans. We will not desist in the demand that the blockade, which has caused and causes so much harm, be lifted. We will persevere in the process of updating the socio-economic model we have chosen, and the construction of a prosperous, sustainable socialism to consolidate the gains to the Revolution.

    A path sovereignly chosen, which will surely be reaffirmed by the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, with Fidel and Raúl victorious.

    This is the Cuba which will respectfully welcome President Obama.

    [1] Major General, head of the Liberation Army’s General Staff (1869).

    [2] Comandante. Killed in combat during the siege of Guáimaro, October 28, 1896.

    [3] Artillery Colonel, under the command of Calixto García.

    [4] A figure who in 1886 promoted hate and aggression against Mexico.

    http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-09/...-visit-to-cuba

    Hmm, well, could be awkward....

    Cuban Revolutionary Government supports Venezuela
    The President of the United States of America has decided to extend for another year the validity of the arbitrary and aggressive Executive Order 13692 signed on March 8, 2015, which declared a “national emergency” based on the assumption that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela constitutes an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”

    Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
    march 9, 2016 16:03:30
    The President of the United States of America has decided to extend for another year the validity of the arbitrary and aggressive Executive Order 13692 signed on March 8, 2015, which declared a “national emergency” based on the assumption that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela constitutes an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

    The pretext put forward for this decision is that “The situation in Venezuela described in Executive Order 13692 has not improved,” and the well-known allegations about alleged human rights violations, persecution and arbitrary arrests of political opponents, restrictions on the freedom of the press, among others, attributed to the Venezuelan government are reiterated.

    This new, unjustified sanction against a peaceful and solidary sister nation of Our America, ignores the indignation and condemnation that the issuing of this unheard of order provoked at the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama. This demonstrates that the intervention in the internal affairs of the Venezuelan people has not changed, and that the aim of overthrowing the Bolivarian Revolution remains in full force.

    The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba demands the revocation of Executive Order 13692, and resolutely and loyally reiterates its unconditional support, and that of our people, to the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro and the civic-military union of the Bolivarian people, who struggle to keep the peace, maintain constitutional order and the conquests of the Revolution, against the destabilizing attempts of the internal opposition, encouraged by the results of the legislative elections which belie the false arguments used to extend the executive order.

    We call on the governments and peoples of our region to demand that the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the heads of state and government at the Second CELAC Summit held in Havana in January 2014, are respected.

    Havana, March 4, 2016

    http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-09/...orts-venezuela
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  2. #2
    Man, the Cubans better keep one hand on their wallets. I wouldn't let the imperial killer set one foot on the island. Better keep a watch on EVERYTHING...
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Dhalgren View Post
    Man, the Cubans better keep one hand on their wallets. I wouldn't let the imperial killer set one foot on the island. Better keep a watch on EVERYTHING...
    Well, they let'em open the embassy, small choice if they hope to get the embagro lifted, but it's like leaving a window unlocked for a vampire. Seems like they're wanting to finesse this, for that to work they are relying on the upcoming generation not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Which is how it should be else we betray ourselves. We shall see if their dictatorship of the proletariat (in progress) has steeled their people to resist the shit train of tawdry blandishments coming their way. No easy thing, the enemy's propaganda is of the best, but somehow, somewhere the line must be drawn.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  4. #4
    CPC: 'Cuba Will Never Give up Socialism'



    The Head of the International Relations Department of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) Jose Ramon Balaguer stated that Socialism is the only alternative for the Cuban Revolution.

    ICP, 11th March 2016

    According to the Prensa Latina in his speech at an international seminar in Mexico, the Head of the International Relations Department of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) Jose Ramon Balaguer, stressed their fidelity to socialism. Balaguer is reported to have said "Cuba will never give up Socialism".

    At the start of his speech, after stating Cuba's support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the Government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, he urged political and social forces to join hands to resist the adverse current situation and "march united in this emancipation effort." Balaguer denounced "the so-called free trade agreements, which constitute instruments of political domination and impose harmful conditions on Third World Countries".

    Regarding the US blockade, which remains intact despite the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Balaguer stressed that Cuba will insist on "the end of the US blockade, the devolution of the territory usurped by the US naval base of Guantanamo and the compensation for damages caused by the US aggressive policy are Cuban people's claims".

    http://icp.sol.org.tr/americasa/cpc-...give-socialism
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  5. #5
    Declaration of the CoR on the visit to Cuba of President Barack Obama
    The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, assume with respect and hospitality the visit to Cuba of US President Barack Obama

    Author: National Executive Secretariat of the CDR | internet@granma.cu
    March 19, 2016 2:03:02



    The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, born on September 28, 1960 as a response of the Cuban people to state terrorism promoted since then by the US government against Cuba, they assume with respect and hospitality the visit to Cuba of US President Barack Obama.

    By grouping within it, voluntarily, to more than eight million compatriots, 91% of the population over 14 years, we are in Cuban civil society the most massive organization, the axis of solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance between neighbors, ie encourage the unity of the neighborhood, women, men, seniors, students, workers, farmers, professionals, intellectuals, retired or housewives, without distinction of sex, race or religion.

    We are structured around the country, and the CDRs are based on the place of residence, in cities or multifamily buildings and blocks in the field from dwellings (villages, bateyes). Today we have around 136,000 CDR, and grassroots leaders assume this responsibility completely voluntary.

    Worth noting that as part of its strengthening today's youth participation in the work of the organization is prioritized, which will pervade freshness and innovative spirit how many missions they are entrusted. 42% of its grassroots leaders are under 40 years.

    "If the Quixote, the most famous Spanish literary work, its author, Cervantes said he was begotten in a prison where every discomfort has its seat and all sad noise makes your room from the defense committees we can say that begot in the public square, amid the anti-imperialist struggle, the heat of battle and insolent noise of counter bombs, "said Fidel on 28 September 1977 at the close of the First Congress of the CDR.

    Since its founding 56 years ago by the leader of the Revolution, there has been a single historical event that the Committees have not participated outstandingly to demonstrate unconditional support for the Communist Party of Cuba, Fidel and Raul.

    In addition to mobilize the whole society in the tasks of defending the nation and the conquests of socialism, the CDR had as objectives participation in the National Literacy Campaign and vaccinations against polio and other diseases.

    In the initial tasks of revolutionary vigilance against the enemies of this people, were adding other popular interest such as education, volunteer work, patriotic activities, the collection of raw materials, environmental protection and preventive work against indiscipline social and inappropriate behavior, according to the principles and values ​​espoused by the Revolution.
    in this regard, encourage solidarity and welfare of the population have been priorities of the CoR since birth, with emphasis on the unity of the neighborhood to meet dissimilar challenges. This non - governmental organization finances itself through the listing of its eight million members.

    Today their participation is crucial to eradicate disease vectors, clean and beautify neighborhoods, schools and local social. It provides care for children and the elderly, and it is vital support for electoral processes of People's Power, characterized by transparency, democracy and broad and conscious participation of the millions of compatriots with the right to elect and to be elected to represent the people themselves in the bodies of government.

    In the popular mobilizations developed by the return of Elian Gonzalez and the release of the Cuban Five imprisoned in US jails, he had a fundamental weight the work of CDR members.

    Also, in these more than five decades of existence Committees they have assumed the noble mission of voluntary blood donations, amounting to almost half a million annually.

    Similarly, in the system of Civil Defense, which protects all the people to various natural events, the CDR become an essential element in safeguarding the population, with solidarity by providing shelter to the neighbors most affected gestures, and the popular mobilization to quickly compensate the damages of these destructive atmospheric phenomena.

    "In our village CDR has a feisty, enthusiastic, versatile and irreplaceable instrument, which will always support the revolution for all their tasks," said Fidel in 1975, introducing the Central Report to the 1st.

    Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.

    All this spirit of resistance is what has allowed us to reach today more confident and strengthened by what we fight and overcome the effects of the inhuman US blockade, the main obstacle to the development of the Cuban economy and improving quality of life population.

    The cederista organization has sought to turn the neighborhood into space that unites, strengthens and calls the revolutionaries and neighbors, to continue building and defending socialism. Therefore we never give up our sovereignty, independence, history and identity.

    As part of society receive the own hospitality of our people to President Barack Obama, who may determine the unity of the Cuban family, it fostered for over half a century by the CoR to continue to be useful to the Revolution. National Executive Secretariat of CDR

    http://www.granma.cu/relaciones-dipl...-2016-02-03-02
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  6. #6
    Human Rights Hypocrisy: US Criticizes Cuba
    by MARJORIE COHN


    Email

    In advance of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 20, there is speculation about whether he can pressure Cuba to improve its human rights. But a comparison of Cuba’s human rights record with that of the United States shows that the US should be taking lessons from Cuba.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains two different categories of human rights – civil and political rights on the one hand; and economic, social and cultural rights on the other.

    Civil and political rights include the rights to life, free expression, freedom of religion, fair trial, self-determination; and to be free from torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention.

    Economic, social and cultural rights comprise the rights to education, healthcare, social security, unemployment insurance, paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, reduction of infant mortality; prevention, treatment and control of diseases; and to form and join unions and strike.

    These human rights are enshrined in two treaties – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The United States has ratified the ICCPR.

    But the US refuses to ratify the ICESCR. Since the Reagan administration, it has been US policy to define human rights only as civil and political rights. Economic, social and cultural rights are dismissed as akin to social welfare, or socialism.

    The US government criticizes civil and political rights in Cuba while disregarding Cubans’ superior access to universal housing, health care, education, and its guarantee of paid maternity leave and equal pay rates.

    Meanwhile, the US government has committed serious human rights violations on Cuban soil, including torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention at Guantanamo. And since 1960, the United States has expressly interfered with Cuba’s economic rights and its right to self-determination through the economic embargo.

    The US embargo of Cuba, now a blockade, was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Cold War in response to a 1960 memo written by a senior State Department official. The memo proposed “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the [Castro] government.”

    That goal has failed, but the punishing blockade has made life difficult in Cuba. In spite of that inhumane effort, however, Cuba guarantees its people a remarkable panoply of human rights.

    Healthcare

    Unlike in the United States, healthcare is considered a right in Cuba. Universal healthcare is free to all. Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients in the world at 6.7 per 1,000 people. The 2014 infant mortality rate was 4.2 per 1,000 live births – one of the lowest in the world.

    Healthcare in Cuba emphasizes prevention, rather than relying only on medicine, partly due to the limited access to medicines occasioned by the US blockade. In 2014, the Lancel Journal said, “If the accomplishments of Cuba could be reproduced across a broad range of poor and middle-income countries the health of the world’s population would be transformed.” Cuba has developed pioneering medicines to treat and prevent lung cancer, and prevent diabetic amputations. Because of the blockade, however, we in the United States cannot take advantage of them.

    Education

    Free education is a universal right up to and including higher education. Cuba spends a larger proportion of its GDP on education than any other country in the world. “Mobile teachers” are deployed to homes if children are unable to attend school. Many schools provide free morning and after-school care for working parents who have no extended family. It is free to train to be a doctor in Cuba. There are 22 medical schools in Cuba, up from only 3 in 1959 before the Cuban Revolution.

    Elections

    Elections to Cuba’s national parliament (the National Assembly) take place every five years and elections to regional Municipal Assemblies every 2.5 years. Delegates to the National Assembly then elect the Council of State, which in turn appoints the Council of Ministers from which the President is elected.

    As of 2018 (the date of the next general election in Cuba), there will be a limit of no more than two five-year terms for all senior elected positions, including the President. Anyone can be nominated to be a candidate. It is not required that one be a member of the Communist Party (CP). No money can be spent promoting candidates and no political parties (including the CP) are permitted to campaign during elections. Military personnel are not on duty at polling stations; school children guard the ballot boxes.

    Labor Rights

    Cuban law guarantees the right to voluntarily form and join trade unions. Unions are legally independent and financially autonomous, independent of the CP and the state, funded by members’ subscriptions. Workers’ rights protected by unions include a written contract, a 40-44-hour week, and 30 days’ paid annual leave in the state sector.

    Unions have the right to stop work they consider dangerous. They have the right to participate in company management, to receive management information, to office space and materials, and to facility time for representatives. Union agreement is required for lay-offs, changes in patterns of working hours, overtime, and the annual safety report. Unions also have a political role in Cuba and have a constitutional right to be consulted about employment law. They also have the right to propose new laws to the National Assembly.

    Women

    Women make up the majority of Cuban judges, attorneys, lawyers, scientists, technical workers, public health workers and professionals. Cuba is ranked first in Save the Children’s ‘Lesser Developed Countries’ Mother’s Index. With over 48% women MPs, Cuba has the third highest percentage of female parliamentarians in the world. Women receive 9 months of full salary during paid maternity leave, followed by 3 months at 75% of full salary. The government subsidizes abortion and family planning, places a high value on pre-natal care, and offers ‘maternity housing’ to women before giving birth.

    Life Expectancy

    In 2013, the World Health Organization listed life expectancy for women in Cuba at 80; the figure was 77 for men. The probability of dying between ages 15 and 60 years per 1,000 people in the population was 115 for men and 73 for women in Cuba.

    During the same period, life expectancy for women in the United States was 81 for women and 76 for men. The probability of dying between 15 and 60 per 1,000 people was 128 for men and 76 for women in the United States.

    Death Penalty

    A study by Cornell Law School found no one under sentence of death in Cuba and no one on death row in October 2015. On December 28, 2010, Cuba’s Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of Cuba’s last remaining death row inmate, a Cuban-American convicted of a murder carried out during a 1994 terrorist invasion of the island. No new death sentences are known to have been imposed since that time.

    By contrast, as of January 1, 2016, 2,949 people were on death row in state facilities in the United States. And 62 were on federal death row as of March 16, 2016, according to Death Penalty Information.

    Sustainable Development

    In 2016, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading global environmental organization, found that Cuba was the only country in the world to have achieved sustainable development. Jonathan Loh, one of the authors of the WWF report, said, “Cuba has reached a good level of development according to United Nations’ criteria, thanks to its high literacy level and a very high life expectancy, while the ecological footprint is not large since it is a country with low energy consumption.”

    Stop Lecturing Cuba and Lift the Blockade

    When Cuba and the US held talks about human rights a year ago, Pedro Luis Pedroso, head of the Cuban delegation, said, “We expressed our concerns regarding discrimination and racism patterns in US society, the worsening of police brutality, torture acts and extrajudicial executions in the fight on terror and the legal limbo of prisoners at the US prison camp in Guantanamo.”

    The hypocrisy of the US government in lecturing Cuba about its human rights while denying many basic human rights to the American people is glaring. The United States should lift the blockade. Obama should close Guantanamo and return it to Cuba.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/...iticizes-cuba/

    Handy & useful
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  7. #7
    Cuba: No appreciation for patronising speech, visiting Obama told
    by worker
    Mar
    2016
    Saturday 19th
    posted by Morning Star in World
    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/...d#.Vu3lCeTmpaQ
    by Our Foreign Desk

    CUBANS look forward to greeting US President Barack Obama when he visits the island tomorrow, but efforts to patronise them will receive a frosty response.

    Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made that clear on Thursday after US officials insisted that Mr Obama would deliver a “pro-democracy” message to Cubans.

    “Various US officials have declared in recent hours that the objective of Obama’s measures is empowering the Cuban people.

    “The Cuban people empowered themselves decades ago,” he said bluntly of the 1959 revolution that reclaimed Cuban independence from its northern neighbour’s grip.

    Mr Rodriguez stressed that Havana would not fall in line with economic changes sought by the US, offering only to drop a 10 per cent charge for exchanging US dollars in return for confirmation that Washington has ended its denial of Cuban access to the global banking system.

    He also dismissed Mr Obama’s efforts to ease the US blockade as essentially meaningless, complaining that Cuban government accounts were barred from US banks and direct US investment in Cuba was prohibited.

    Despite positive-sounding noises from Mr Obama, he has failed to persuade Congress to lift longstanding punitive sanctions against Cuba.

    Mr Rodriguez surmised that “something must be going wrong with US democracy,” urging Mr Obama to focus on empowering his own people.

    Mr Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice said that he had no plans to curtail his call for more freedoms for Cubans during his three-day trip to the island, emphasising that he would meet dissidents and “speak candidly” to President Raul Castro about areas of disagreement — particularly human rights.

    “We believe the Cuban people, like people everywhere, are best served by genuine democracy,” she added.

    Unable to get Congress to end the blockade, Mr Obama has used his regulatory powers to trim restrictions on US citizens travelling and doing business in Cuba.

    He plans to deliver a major speech on the future of US-Cuba ties and how Cubans can pursue a better life.

    Mr Rodriguez said that the speech would be carried live on Cuban television and Cubans would be able to draw their own conclusions.

    http://houstoncommunistparty.com/cub...ng-obama-told/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  8. #8
    Mr Rodriguez surmised that “something must be going wrong with US democracy,” urging Mr Obama to focus on empowering his own people.
    In-your-face! Maybe Mr. Rodriguez should mention how many unarmed citizens are murdered every year by US policemen. Maybe he could mention the shamefully high rate of infant mortality in the US. The high US unemployment? The constant recurrence of mass killings in the US that you can almost set your watch by? How about the huge percentage of children in poverty in the US? Inequality of women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, gays, and on and on and on?

    Susan Rice is a useless sack of shit. She has no shame to speak of "human rights" - she is a paid-for mouth-piece, serving her masters. How does she sleep?
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  9. #9
    How does she sleep?
    During the day, in a box of grave dirt.

    And all ya hear about is those 'Women in White', who have been protesting for years in this dictatorship where no dissent is allowed...whining wanna be 'entrepeneurs'...not a supporter of the Revolution to be heard. And this is what Americans hear, such an outrageous lie. Seen a quote of old Sam Clemmons which is so true; "It is easier to convince a person of a lie than it is to convince them that they are being lied to." Don't we know?
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  10. #10
    This from the supposedly 'independent' Havana Times(online), supposedly written by Cubans in and out of the country where no dissent is allowed.

    Cuban Opposition Reports 180 Arrests for Obama’s Visit
    March 21, 2016

    HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban opposition reported Monday on the arrest of 180 activists in recent days related to the visit to the island by US President Barack Obama.

    The number of arrests “would be around 180,” said Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the banned but tolerated Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) told dpa news.

    Most were arrested on Sunday during a protest of the Ladies in White in the neighborhood of Miramar, on the west side of Havana, a few hours before Obama initiated his historic visit to Cuba.

    Dozens of women and other activists were arrested after their peaceful opposition march was met by a counter-demonstration of hundreds of supporters of the government of Raul Castro.

    The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, accused the authorities of violently repressing the group. In total there were about 50 Ladies in White and twenty other activists arrested on Sunday, said Soler, who also alerted that the police have warned them not to organize protests.


    A Ladies in White protest was dispersed and dozens arrested hours before Obama arrived to Cuba. Photo: Reuters/#TodosMarchamos

    “They say they will not let us leave our homes,” Soler told dpa. The leader of the group of wives and relatives of former political prisoners said the activists would attempt to protest again on Monday in the same place, on the second day of Obama’s visit in Cuba.

    The US president meets with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro on Monday morning. Obama arrived Sunday in Havana as the first US president to visit Cuba after the 1959 revolution.

    The US leader has said on several occasions that he would continue criticizing the situation of dissidents in Cuba, despite the new policy of dialogue with the Castro government. Obama’s visit is framed in the thaw that both countries began in December 2014, after over a half century of ideological enmity.

    Obama is scheduled to meet Tuesday with a number of Cuban dissidents. Soler, who has been invited to the meeting at the US embassy, ??said she plans to attend, though she fears being detained en route to the meeting. Elizardo Sanchez also plans to attend the meeting if he can make it to the embassy.

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=117524

    Another day, another color revolution.....
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  11. #11
    the US delegation in Cuba 55 years ago.

    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  12. #12
    Op-ed: Political motives behind Obama’s Cuba trip
    By Jia Xiudong (People's Daily Online) 17:12, March 22, 2016


    Cuba's President Raul Castro (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) attend a press conference at the Revolution Palace in Havana, capital of Cuba, on March 21, 2016.

    U.S. president Barack Obama kicked off his visit to Cuba last Sunday. During the trip, he and his family plan to visit Havana, watch baseball games, stroll around the ancient city, and maybe taste authentic Cuban coffee. However, the seemingly relaxed atmosphere of the visit cannot hide the complicated political calculations behind it.

    First of all, Obama is trying to build a diplomatic legacy. A visit to Cuba at this time is of historic significance. The U.S. has long pursued a blockade and isolation policy toward Cuba. Although the overwhelming majority of the U.N. General Assembly asks the U.S. to lift its ban almost every year, the U.S. has always turned a deaf ear to those requests.

    Since Obama was sworn in, his administration has gradually adjusted its policies toward Cuba and achieved a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations despite stiff resistance from within the U.S. This is another successful case of “Obama Doctrine” foreign policy.
    The U.S. has now entered an election year. Since Republicans took dominant seats in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, it is difficult for Obama to promote liberal domestic agendas; diplomacy is one exception. For the sake of his legacy, Obama is making a real effort when it comes to U.S.-Cuba ties.

    Besides concerns about his legacy, Obama is also facing impediments with regards to domestic politics. To achieve the normalization of U.S.-Cuba ties, Obama has claimed his constitutional rights as president, loosening restrictions on communication and flight access between U.S. and Cuba through executive orders.

    According to the U.S. constitution, the president is entitled to great autonomy and discretion in foreign affairs, but that does not mean Obama can simply do as he pleases. The economic sanctions placed on Cuba were decided on by the U.S. Congress. To lift those sanctions also requires the approval of Congress. Meanwhile, it is not certain whether Obama’s successor will move forward with his policy.

    Of course, it is likely not Obama’s intention to utilize too many political resources to end the embargo against Cuba. A few sanctions can be the leverage for future negotiations.

    A third point to consider is that Obama has not changed his original intentions for policy toward Cuba. Recently, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said the president has made it very clear that the future of Cuba is for the Cuban people to decide; the U.S. is just trying to help any way it can.

    Even so, a longstanding foreign policy strategy of the U.S. is to export American democracy and values in order to influence target countries’ policies toward the U.S. Moreover, since the introduction of the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has regarded Latin America as its own backyard. Any movement can be treated as a threat to the interests of the U.S.

    Obama’s Cuba visit also acknowledged the failure of past U.S. policy toward Cuba. Like many countries, Cuba’s anti-U.S. sentiment was not always such a strong force. The U.S. must understand that most anti-U.S. sentiment is a result of its foreign policy. After all, as a global superpower, the U.S. must take responsibility for the significant role its actions play in the evolution of international relations.

    (The author is a special commentator for People’s Daily and a distinguished research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies.)

    http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0322/c98649-9033866.html
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  13. #13

    Raul Castro Should Ask Obama: What About U.S. Political Prisoners?

    Forward Print HTML Reddit Viadeo Google Plus One Linkedin Share Button Share on Facebook Tweet Widget


    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    The man who presides over the largest prison population in the world, a system that is still holding political dissidents captured a half century ago, has the nerve to demand – or have his flunkies in the corporate press demand – that Cuba account for who it puts in jail, and why. It would never even occur to the White House press corps to inquire on the status of U.S. political prisoners.
    Raul Castro Should Ask Obama: What About U.S. Political Prisoners?

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    “The United States is holding scores of political prisoners, many of them captured in the 1960s and 70s.”
    President Obama knew it was impolitic to play his hypocritical human rights game while in the presence of Cuban President Raul Castro, in Havana, this week. So Obama had one of his kiss-up White House reporters do the sneak attack for him. CNN’s Jim Acosta, the son of a Cuban exile, asked President Castro why his country kept political prisoners. Castro replied, “What political prisoners?” and asked Acosta to provide a list of such people. It was an awkward moment – not diplomatic at all – but Obama was clearly enjoying it. And, well he might, because neither Jim Acosta nor any of the other corporate mouthpieces in the White House press corps would dare, or even think, to ask a U.S. president about the plight of American political prisoners.
    The U.S. media traveling with Obama have easy access to all sorts of lists of Cubans who are supposedly in prison for opposition to the their government – although even Amnesty International says that the Cubans released their last political prisoner, back in September.
    The United States, on the other hand, is still holding scores of political prisoners, many of them captured in the 1960s and 70s. Their numbers are decreasing only because they are dying of old age – accelerated by the inhuman conditions and practices of the world’s largest prison system. If the corporate media were really concerned about political prisoners, they could go to the web site of the Jericho Movement and see the pictures of 50 of them. Eighteen were members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army or the Republic of New Africa, including Mumia Abu Jamal, whose life hangs by a thread because the State of Pennsylvania refuses to treat his Hepatitis C. Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald has been incarcerated since 1969. There are men and women from the MOVE organization, all with the last name “Africa,” whose children were killed and their home bombed by the Philadelphia police. There are Native American activists from the First Nation group and American Indian Movement, including Leonard Peltier, who has been behind bars since 1976. There are white Class war, Anti-imperialist and Anarchist Hacker political prisoners, and, Marie Mason, a white Earth Liberation Front woman and Black female community activist Rev. Joy Powell.
    No Truce in This War
    There are prisoners who became political after they were imprisoned – which is why they are still there. There are Chicano political prisoners and the great Puerto Rican independence fighter, Oscar Lopez Rivera. There is the former H. Rap Brown, who’s doing life without parole as Imam Jamil Al-Amin. There are members of the Portland 7 and the Virgin Island 5 and the Ohio 7. There is the brilliant Mutulu Shakur, father of Tupac Shakur, who the feds say masterminded the escape and exile to Cuba of Assata Shakur. If Obama could somehow get her back behind bars in the U.S., he’d claim she wasn’t a political prisoner, either.
    The Jericho Movement’s pictures do not include lots of other political prisoners, like Rev. Edward Pinkney, who’s serving up to ten years in prison for non-violently standing up for the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
    President Obama this week told the Cuban people, “I Have Come Here To Bury The Last Remnant Of The Cold War.”*But he won’t end the long war against Black people in the United States, a war that has sent millions to prison under a political policy of mass Black Incarceration. In that sense, they are all political prisoners.
    For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.







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    More...

  14. #14
    Every anti-Cuban statement made by the US government and its hired, "free" press, is much more aptly applied to the US. Political prisoners? Police brutality? Poverty? Infant mortality? Health? Education? Nutrition? Well being? Every category is bested by Cuba. Yet the "free" press continue to drone on and on with their government supplied and government mandated anti-communist drivel.

    Obama was waxing on about 'the right to protest peacefully'. Cubans have always been free to protest peacefully - the "Ladies in white" are a good example. No country in the world (or historically) is, arguably, as anti-human, anti-humane as is the USA. Murderous settler state, indeed.
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  15. #15
    Castro to Obama: Relations Won’t Be Normal Until Guantanamo Returned



    March 22, 2016 | 8:56 pm

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro attend a news conference as part of President Obama's three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 21, 2016
    Castro to Obama: Relations Won’t Be Normal Until Guantanamo Returned

    © REUTERS/ Carlos Barria
    21:43 21.03.2016(updated 00:16 22.03.2016) Get short URL

    As US President Barack Obama makes a historic visit to Cuba following a thaw in relations, Cuban President Raul Castro has stressed that complete normalization cannot be achieved until Guantanamo Bay is returned to Havana.

    Meeting with Obama in Havana, Castro stressed that the US must abandon its territory at Guantanamo and lift its embargo against Cuba.

    “Much more can be done if the embargo is lifted,” he said. “We recognize the position President Obama is in, and the position his government holds against the blockade, and that they have called on Congress to lift it.”


    U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro shake hands during their first meeting on the second day of Obama's visit to Cuba, in Havana March 21, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst
    Obama Begins Meeting With Cuba’s Castro to Review Normalization of Relations
    The Cuban president added that there remain “profound differences that will not disappear over our political model, democracy, human rights, social justice, international relations, peace and stability,” and stressed that the Cuban people will not “relinquish what they have gained through great sacrifice.”

    Castro denied accusations that Cuba holds political prisoners, saying “give me a list of those political prisoners and if the list exists they will be released before the night is through.”

    Speaking to reporters, President Obama said he could not offer an exact timeframe for the end of the embargo, but stressed that Washington does not view Havana as a threat.

    “What I have said to President Castro is that we are moving forward and not looking backwards, that we don’t view Cuba as a threat to the United Statesm,” he said. “The embargo’s going to end. When? I can’t be entirely sure. The fact that there has been strong support, not just inside of Congress, but also among the Cuban people, indicates that this is a process that should continue.”

    “We’re moving ahead with more opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba and interact with the Cuba people,” he added. “We are ready to pursue more commercial ties, which create jobs and opportunities for Cubans and Americans alike.”

    Still, the US does have concerns.

    “People are still concerned about [human rights] inside of Cuba,” Obama added. “We can’t force change on any particular country, ultimately it has to come from within.”

    While recognizing these concerns, Castro said that no country on Earth can meet all international human rights standards. He hopes that all countries can work together to meet those standards.

    According to a White House press release, the US and Cuba have already launched a joint effort to combat the Zika virus.

    “The United States and Cuba have committed to deepen scientific and public health cooperation, focusing on communicable diseases including arboviruses such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya [and]…on the prevention and treatment of Chronic…diseases such as cancer,” the White House said in a fact sheet released on Monday.

    “In the coming months, the United States and Cuba intend to work toward finalizing arrangements to strengthen our collaboration in these and other scientific and health areas.”

    http://houstoncommunistparty.com/cas...namo-returned/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  16. #16
    Obama’s ‘Historic’ PR Sham in Cuba
    March 22, 2016 | 8:53 pm


    President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle exit Air Force One as they arrive at Havana's international airport for a three-day trip, in Havana March 20, 2016
    Obama’s ‘Historic’ PR Sham in Cuba
    © REUTERS/ Carlos Barria
    12:05 21.03.2016(updated 12:25 21.03.2016) Get short URL
    Finian Cunningham

    When US President Obama touched down in Cuba at the weekend the visit was hailed as a “historic” occasion. Only in a crassly superficial sense can the official state visit be viewed as historic.

    Yes, Obama is the first American leader to visit the island in nearly 90 years since President Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

    But otherwise, fundamentally, the relationship between the US and Cuba has not changed and is unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. It is still a relationship of unmitigated and criminal domination by Washington towards its southern Caribbean neighbor.

    Washington continues to impose a crushing trade embargo on the island state and it continues to occupy Cuban territory at Guantanamo Bay — all in defiance of international norms and Cuban sovereignty. This is tantamount to an imperialist bully having its boot planted firmly on the neck of this impoverished nation of 11 million people. The boot grip may be easing just a little. But what is “historic” about that?


    Tourists pass by images of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in a banner that reads Welcome to Cuba at the entrance of a restaurant in downtown Havana, March 17, 2016.
    © REUTERS/ Alexandre Meneghini

    Obama’s ‘Landmark Visit’: Why US President Heads to Cuba

    Obama and his family will spend three days in Cuba where he will dine with socialist President Raul Castro. The White House has ruled out meeting the elder Cuban statesman, Fidel, brother of Raul. It was Fidel who led the revolution to victory in January 1959 against the US-backed despot Fulgencio Batista.Posters of Obama sniffing a Cuban cigar are among the many fun images adorning the capital Havana. No doubt the American president will be given a rapturous reception by the long-suffering, but famously gracious, people of Cuba.

    Obama first announced a thawing of relations with the Communist-run island more than a year ago. Since then there appears to be a quickening of Cuba’s access to the outside world. US Secretary of State John Kerry made a landmark visit last year when he oversaw the re-opening of the American embassy in Havana.

    Earlier this month, the European Union signed an accord with Cuba heralding “normalized relations”. (Why the Europeans hadn’t the independence and courage to maintain normal relations with Cuba decades ago is a shameful admission of the EU’s subservience to the US, just as we see in the ongoing EU sanctions against Russia, evidently in compliance with Washington’s diktat.)

    Last September, the Roman Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis, coupled a trip to Cuba with a visit to the United States in a symbolic gesture of urging reconciliation between the two Cold War foes.

    This week, coinciding with Obama’s itinerary, the Rolling Stones are to give a free open-air concert in Havana. Is this Cuba beginning to rock and roll in a new era of freedom? Sadly, no. It is just more of the same media hype to feign that something “historic” is underway.

    The White House has also over the past year eased restrictions on travel, cash transactions and postal mail. US media have made much hoopla about a personal letter Obama sent to a Cuban woman who had invited him to her house for a cup of coffee.

    American Airlines is resuming a direct flight service to Cuba and a major US-owned chain just this week signed a multi-million-dollar deal to develop luxury hotels to tap the anticipated deluge of tourists to the island.

    However, US media coverage of Obama’s visit is the usual weird triumph of hype over reality. All the supposed changes in bilateral relations do not alter the fact that the United States remains a reprehensible aggressor towards the nation of Cuba.

    Obama has been talking about lifting the trade embargo against Cuba for the past eight since he was first elected in 2008. He also made closing of the US torture centre at its giant military base in Guantanamo Bay a preliminary promise. But neither of these developments are anywhere close to happening. The Republican-controlled Congress makes sure of that.

    Despite all the hullabaloo, what needs to be kept in focus here is the US policy of imposing vicious sanctions on Cuba. The embargo has been in place for 54 years, from around the time that Obama was born. The official US rationale for this blockade was never acceptable. So what if Cuba was socialist, revolutionary and an ally of the Soviet Union?


    © Flickr/ Iker Merodio
    What 2016 Presidential Race Means for the Future of US-Cuban Relations

    A quarter of a century after the Soviet Union dissolved and since the supposed end of the Cold War, Washington’s policy of embargoing Cuba can be seen for what it always was from the outset: blatant unilateral aggression, which under international law is a violation of the UN Charter and a war crime.

    That any power appoints itself the right to use economic warfare against other countries is the real issue here.

    Right now, the US not only slaps punitive economic measures on Cuba, it also entitles itself to do the same on several other countries, including Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. The political claims that Washington invokes in each case to justify its sanctions are dubious if not outrightly fraudulent. In any case, it is completely unacceptable that Washington is able to arrogate to itself the self-declared right to embargo other nations.

    Cuba is a particularly lamentable example of Washington’s bully-boy behavior in the world. It is this imperialist behavior that needs to be exposed, questioned, prosecuted and overturned. Washington’s rogue conduct is the primary source of world conflict and the relentless threat of war.

    President Obama, his White House entourage and the fawning US mainstream media will of course hype up the “historic” visit this week. Obama has got his eye vainly on his “presidential legacy” when he quits the Oval Office at the end of this year after serving two terms.

    But the only thing historic about Obama’s visit to Cuba is that it is a grotesque manipulation of public relations and reality. If the US was to remove its boot off the Cuban nation’s neck, then perhaps we could indulge in plaudits.

    As things stand, Washington’s relations with Cuba — as with any other country that dares to defy its hegemony — is testimony to more despotic American business-as-usual.

    http://houstoncommunistparty.com/oba...-sham-in-cuba/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  17. #17
    Cuba Reflections: On Life and Death
    by PAUL STREET



    jakubtravelphoto | Shutterstock.com

    A Nice Surprise

    It’s not very often that you hear or see a salaried U.S. corporate media employee defend Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s Cuban Revolution and its accomplishments. That’s why I did a double take when I read a recent opinion piece titled “Cuba’s Success Lost in Media Frenzy” in the Gannett-owned Iowa City Press-Citizen. The commentary was not written by some radical academic or graduate student at the local university (I’m not sure such a professor can be found at the University of Iowa anymore) or by an independent radical like me (I have a long record of publishing pieces in the Press-Citizen’s laudably open-minded Opinion page). No, it was penned in defense of President Barack Obama’s recent historic visit to Cuba by a clever young man named Ian Goodrum, who happens to be the paper’s “community content and engagement editor.”

    Goodrum did a decent job. He rightly mocked “most media in the U.S. media” for using President Barack Obama’s recent historic visit to Cuba as “an opportunity to denounce the tiny island nation for daring to have an economic and political system different from our own.” He criticized that media for taking seriously the “increasingly absurd pronouncements from [Cuban] expatriates.” Goodrum justly criticized White House Press Secretary Earnest for absurdly claiming that the U.S. had been “ignoring” Cuba for “more than 50 years.” As Goodrum noted, Earnest’s comment is preposterous given dedicated U.S. efforts to punish and overthrow the Castro government, including a “crushing trade embargo and crippling sanctions” and the “the encirclement of isolation of Cuba by the United States” (Goodrum) for more than a half century.

    Goodrum detailed some of Cuba’s remarkable “accomplishments since the [1959 Cuban] revolution,” all achieved despite the hostility of Uncle Sam. The triumphs Goodrum mentions are considerable:

    “Keeping the aforementioned antagonisms in mind — and understanding that survival under the baleful eye of the world’s richest nation is a miracle in itself — [socialist Cuba’s] successes are nothing to sneeze at. Infant mortality has dropped while life expectancy and literacy rates have skyrocketed. Economic growth has stayed consistent with the exception of a few years during the “Special Period,” when the loss of 80 percent of Cuba’s trade led to a downturn. Yet the social safety net and housing, education and food guarantees from the government were able to continue even in this time of extreme privation. Media outlets like to talk about how the average monthly salary amounts to $20 or $30, but this is a dodge. Comparing Cuban economic indicators to those of the United States is a matter of apples — heh — and oranges. When weighed against countries like the Dominican Republic or Haiti, Cuba stands head and shoulders above its direct competitors.”

    “What could be considered the crown jewel of Cuba’s economy, the health care sector, is perhaps the best example of what a system like Cuba’s can do. Transmission of HIV from mother to child was eliminated in Cuba and a vaccine for lung cancer has been developed there. Exporting medical professionals around the world to deal with threats like the Ebola outbreak show the country’s commitment to help those in need, and a disproportionate capability to do so. But this is what can happen when you prioritize public welfare over profits” (emphasis added).

    I’m not sure I should say more about Goodrum’s column: I don’t wish to contribute any further to the possibility of him losing his job. At the same time – and maybe Gannett authorities can put this towards Goodrum’s favor – I should say that a better title for his essay would have been “Media Continues to Ignore Cuba’s Success” (the blockading of the U.S. public from good news about Cuban socialism is an old story). And I’d like to mention four key matters that did not make it into the young columnist’s welcome essay (things that, to be fair, require a bigger word count than what is available to Op Ed writers).

    Ecological Triumph: Teeming With Life

    The first thing missing is Cuba’s remarkable environmental achievement. Cuba stands out among all nations (rich and poor) in a critical way. The makers of the United Nations’ Human Development Index (UNHDI) have found that Cuba is the only country on the planet to combine a quality of life consistent with “high human development” with a globally sustainable carbon footprint. A report by the World Wildlife Foundation includes a graph that shows two features for the nations of the world: the UNHDI (including measures of life expectancy, poverty, literacy, health care, and the like) and “ecological footprint” – the energy and resources consumed per person in each country. Only Cuba received a passing grade in both areas. As the University of British Columbia has noted,

    “The majority of food grown in Cuba is produced without chemicals. Good bugs fight bad bugs in the fields. Their soils – like their communities – are teeming with life…Today, Cuba’s agricultural cooperatives provide 80 percent of the food produced in Cuba and her system of urban agriculture is a model for the world. Building on the success of her agricultural cooperatives, Cuba is now taking bold new steps to build a more cooperative, just and people-centered economy.”

    This noteworthy attainment is of no small significance in an age of ever more imminent environmental collapse rooted in (among other things) capitalism’s addiction to fossil fuels. It is no mere accident. Beyond a fuel and currency shortage, it reflects inspiring and instructive eco-socialist innovation in the use and development of alternative fuel sources, technologies, and practices on the part of the Cuban state. As Garry Leech noted on CounterPunch last year, Cuba “redefined socialism” in the wake of the decline of its former protector the Soviet Union. Over the past two decades, Leech shows, Cuba has moved towards a more participatory system that also happens to be an outstanding model of environmentally sustainable and healthy, permaculturalist economics:

    “In the 1980s, Cuba more closely reflected the state socialist model that ultimately failed in the Soviet Union…But with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the socialist trading bloc, Cuba had to become more creative if it was to survive both literally and figuratively as an island of socialism in an ocean of capitalism. And it was the creative survival strategies that emerged during the 1990s that have helped to redefine socialism in Cuba today…The collapse of the Soviet Union, in conjunction with a corresponding tightening of the five-decades-long US blockade, meant that Cuba could no longer import sufficient food or oil. The country responded to the shortage of petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers by becoming the world’s leader in organic agriculture. It responded to the shortage of fuel by becoming a leader in urban agriculture to diminish the need to transport food great distances to markets. As a result, more than 80 percent of the country’s agricultural production is now organic… [and produced by] smaller worker-owned cooperatives. The new cooperatives not only increased production, they also constituted a shift away from state socialism by empowering workers who previously had little or no voice in the running of their workplaces….This emerging worker democracy through cooperatives not only existed in agricultural production, it also occurred in the selling of products…”

    “The shift to a more ecologically sustainable agricultural production has resulted in healthy organic food being the most convenient and inexpensive food available to Cubans. Because of the US blockade, processed foods are more expensive and not readily available. This reality stands in stark contrast to that in wealthy capitalist nations such as the United States and Canada where heavily-subsidized agri-businesses flood the market with cheap, unhealthy processed foods while organic alternatives are expensive and more difficult to obtain. The consequence in the United States is high levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.”

    Call it Earth Science-friendly socialism – or maybe even Earth-scientific socialism, some of its apparently and actually drawing strength from the U.S. blockade.

    Socialism as the Basis of Sustainability

    The second thing missing is the very basic fact that Cuba owes its success not merely to its prioritizing of public welfare over private profits but rather to its rejection and indeed overthrow of capitalism, the profits system, half a century ago. The Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Pérez tells Leech that Cuba laid the basis for an environmentally sustainable society “when the revolution gained sovereignty over the resources of the country, especially the land and the minerals…You cannot think about sustainability,” Perez explains, “if your resources are in the hands of a foreign country or in private hands. Even without knowing, we were creating the basis for sustainability.”

    This is a very critical point. As the New York City-based Marxist writer Louis Proyect noted last year, “capitalism and capitalist politics have to be superseded if humanity and nature are to survive. Once we can eliminate the profit motive, the door is open to rational use of natural resources for the first time in human history. How we make use of such resources will naturally be informed by our understanding that reason governs the outcome and not quarterly earnings. The alternative,” Proyect reminds us, “to this is a descent into savagery, if not extinction.”

    Misplaced Imperial Arrogance

    The third thing missing from Goodrum’s commentary was any sense of the utter arrogant, idiotic, and imperial absurdity of Barack Obama going to Cuba to lecture the people on democracy, freedom, and how to achieve a good society. What, like the United States? Really? The U.S… the mass incarceration capital of the world, home to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, an “armed madhouse” (Greg Palast) of a nation where: the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent; 6 Wal-Mart heirs together possess as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent; politics and policy are in grip of an unelected and interrelated dictatorship of money and empire; an openly plutocratic oligarchy rules in total indifference to public opinion; world-capitalist ecocide finds its leading carbon-addicted financial and propagandistic centers; white median household wealth is 13 times higher than Black median household wealth; more than 16 million children (22 percent of all U.S. children, including 38 percent of Black children) live below the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level; municipal water systems are rife with poisonous lead; infrastructure is crumbling; pollution is rampant; schools are under-funded and mind-numbing; civic discourse is hopelessly degraded; racial hyper-segregation and the harsh racialized concentration of poverty and joblessness (in Black ghettoes, Native American reservation, and Latino barrios) is predominant; one in three Black men is saddled with the crippling lifelong stigma of a felony record; politicians and not-so “public” policy are bought and sold like any other commodity; the current endless and populace-marginalizing presidential election is shaping as a contest between (in Diana Johnstone’s words) “the two most hated people in the country” (the mad-dog imperial war hawk Hillary Clinton and the quasi-fascist media buffoon and real estate mogul Donald Trump); much if not most of the populace is kept in a woeful and dangerous state of mass ignorance and stupidity about history, current events, and much more; violent death (fed by off-the-global-charts homicide and suicide rates) is rampant; purposefully mass-murderous assault weapons are widely available and ubiquitous; mental illness proliferates; natural resources are regularly stripped and destroyed; livable wage jobs have disappeared en masse; commercialized mass alienation and soulless anomie are endemic; substance abuse and obesity are epidemic; economic insecurity is pervasive; more than half the population is either poor or near-poor; food is systematically poisoned and adulterated in field, factory, corporate laboratory, box-car, tractor trailer, warehouse, restaurant, and grocery store; agriculture is criminally misdirected and absurdly extra-local; water supplies are gravely imperiled; more than half of federal discretionary spending pays for a giant war machine and global empire that accounts for half the world’s military spending; you can’t even watch the last three minutes of a college basketball tournament game without having to be bombarded with ten minutes of mindless mass-consumerist commercials.

    This is a nation that thinks is has anything to tell Cubans, or anyone else, about how to experience and sustain democracy, freedom, and a decent society? Seriously?

    Some Messenger of Freedom

    And what about the messenger? Yes, Barack Obama, the slimy used car salesman who won Advertising Age’s 2008 “Marketer the Year” award as he rode into the White House on a tide of hope for progressive change and then proceeded to (as predicted by yours truly and a painfully small cadre of Left intellectuals and activists who were largely banned from so-called mainstream U.S. media and “higher education” for doctrinal reasons) give the nation what William Greider memorably called seven years ago “a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn’t. They have watched,” Greider wrote, “Washington run to rescue the very financial interests who caused the catastrophe. They learned that government has plenty of money to spend – when the right people want it” And little to spend on the rest of us, the wrong people, soon to be known as “the 99%,” left to ask “where’s my bailout?”

    Yes, Barack Obama, who in his nauseating 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope criticized the “left-leaning populist” Hugo Chavez for thinking that developing nations “should resist America’s efforts to expand its hegemony” and for further daring – imagine – to “follow their own path of development,” unforgivably “rejecting the ideals of free markets and democracy.” Obama showed how profound his commitment to democracy in Latin America was in the spring and summer of 2009 when he and his right-wing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed a disastrous right-wing military and business coup that overthrew the democratically elected left-leaning populist Manuel Zelaya government in Honduras.

    Obama’s seminar on ruling class power will conclude, the president hopes, with final Congressional approval of the arch-authoritarian, global-corporatist Trans Pacific Partnership – a monument to world capitalist unaccountability and a potentially fatal blow to humanity’s ability to avert environmental catastrophe.

    (I don’t have time and energy to go into his Orwellian surveillance state policies and his expanded war on/or terror.)

    That’s some champion of people’s democracy there that Raul Castro just watched baseball with: Barack Obama.

    The Goal Remains the Same: If Obama Has His Way

    The fourth thing missing from Ian Goodrum’s surprisingly progressive column is why the noxious neoliberal emperor Obama just went to Cuba. I can’t say it any better than the aforementioned Gary Leech did on CounterPunch yesterday so I’m just going to quote him:

    “In his speech to the Cuban people in Havana, President Barack Obama declared, ‘I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. … I’ve urged the people of the Americas to leave behind the ideological battles of the past.’ But Obama made clear that his desire to end the decades-long US economic blockade of the island is not based on the fact that it constitutes the bullying of a small country by the world’s most powerful capitalist nation, nor is it a response to the sheer inhumanity of the blockade, it is simply an acknowledgement that the policy has failed to bring down Cuba’s socialist system and return the country to capitalism. Obama then proceeded to spend much of his speech telling Cubans that they should live under a US-style democracy and a capitalist economy. In other words, he has no intention of leaving behind ‘the ideological battles of the past.’ He is simply shifting strategy” (emphasis added).

    Make no mistake: it’s only the means, not the ends of U.S. Cuba policy that Obama has been working to change. The goal remains the same: collapse Cuban socialism and bring back U.S.-dominated capitalism 90 miles off the coast of Florida. As I noted on Facebook the other day, “If Obama has his way, Cuba will be a festering pit of commercialized alienation and eco-cidal pollution in a couple of decades.” Obesity, diabetes, and depression will spread like gangbusters along with the chemical poisoning of Cuban water, land, air, and food and spreading inequality and – who knows, if all goes to plan? – mass incarceration, the corporate takeover of health care, and endless commodity-hawking commercials on radio and television. Big Pharma could really make a killing.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to pass. I went to Cuba to speak on and against U.S. corporate and commercial media almost exactly one year ago and got to spend three days in Havana. I’ll never forget it. Cuba struck me as the healthiest, happiest, sexiest, most dis-alienated and sociable society I’d ever had the good fortune to visit. It is “teeming with life” on numerous levels. Coming back to the United States was like taking a cold bath of hostility and estrangement, an immersion in extreme disparity where material abundance for some is juxtaposed against material privation for many along with unbridled spiritual and social ruination for all. It struck me as almost teeming with death. That’s too strong, perhaps, but one thing is very clear: we U.S.-of-Americans and our imperial Wall Street president have little if anything to tell Cubans about how to live and how to organize their society.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/...ife-and-death/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  18. #18
    Senior Member TBF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dhalgren View Post
    Man, the Cubans better keep one hand on their wallets. I wouldn't let the imperial killer set one foot on the island. Better keep a watch on EVERYTHING...
    Saw this morning on the 'net that airline prices to Cuba expected to be cut 50%. They are gearing up. I did try to address the Argentina situation (after the photos of a fumbling O trying to dance the tango) but there was little interest in talking about austerity - http://www.democraticunderground.com/102411742

  19. #19
    Fidel Castro to Obama: We don't need your 'presents'
    By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN Associated Press MARCH 28, 2016 — 8:15AM


    ALEX CASTRO, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Cuba's leader Fidel Castro meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, left, in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.

    HAVANA — Fidel Castro responded Monday to President Barack Obama's historic trip to Cuba with a long, bristling letter recounting the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba, writing that "we don't need the empire to give us any presents."

    The 1,500-word letter in state media titled "Brother Obama" was Castro's first response to the president's three-day visit last week, in which the American president said he had come to bury the two countries' history of Cold War hostility. Obama did not meet with the 89-year-old Fidel Castro on the trip but met several times with his 84-year-old brother Raul Castro, the current Cuban president.



    Obama's visit was intended to build irreversible momentum behind his opening with Cuba and to convince the Cuban people and the Cuban government that a half-century of U.S. attempts to overthrow the Communist government had ended, allowing Cuban to reform its economy and political system without the threat of U.S. interference.

    Fidel Castro writes of Obama: "My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics."

    Castro, who led Cuba for decades before handing power to his brother in 2008, was legendary for his hours-long, all-encompassing speeches. His letter reflects that style, presenting a sharp contrast with Obama's tightly focused speech in Havana. Castro's letter opens with descriptions of environmental abuse under the Spaniards and reviews the historical roles of Cuban independence heroes Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez.

    Castro then goes over crucial sections of Obama's speech line by line, engaging in an ex-post-facto dialogue with the American president with pointed critiques of perceived slights and insults, including Obama's failure to give credit to indigenous Cubans and Castro's prohibition of racial segregation after coming to power in 1959.

    Quoting Obama's declaration that "it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind," the man who shaped Cuba during the second half of the 20th century writes that "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States."

    Castro then returns to a review of a half-century of U.S. aggression against Cuba. Those events include the decades-long U.S. trade embargo against the island; the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack and the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner backed by exiles who took refuge in the U.S.

    He ends with a dig at the Obama administration's drive to increase business ties with Cuba. The Obama administration says re-establishing economic ties with the U.S. will be a boon for Cuba, whose centrally planned economy has struggled to escape from over-dependence on imports and a chronic shortage of hard currency.

    The focus on U.S-Cuba business ties appears to have particularly rankled Castro, who nationalized U.S. companies after coming to power in 1959 and establishing the communist system into which his brother is now introducing gradual market-based reforms.

    "No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights," Fidel Castro wrote. "We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with with work and intelligence of our people."

    http://www.startribune.com/fidel-cas...say/373705611/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  20. #20
    Brother Obama
    We don’t need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because our commitment is to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

    Author: Fidel Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu
    march 28, 2016 12:03:14
    The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.

    Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.

    Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add - principally for the youth - that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.

    Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.

    Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary...” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.

    Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.

    Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:

    “I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:

    “We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”

    The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barrack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.

    In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries

    As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.

    The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.

    Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and - surprise! - the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.

    Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.

    I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.

    There is an important issue:

    Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”

    I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?

    Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.

    I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

    Fidel Castro Ruz

    March 27, 2016

    10:25 p.m.

    http://www.granma.cu/reflexiones-fid...-2016-01-03-16

    (Originally posted google garble but Granma provided better translation, and so...)
    In the original:

    El hermano Obama
    No necesitamos que el imperio nos regale nada. Nuestros esfuerzos serán legales y pacíficos, porque es nuestro compromiso con la paz y la fraternidad de todos los seres humanos que vivimos en este planeta

    Autor: Fidel Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu
    28 de marzo de 2016 01:03:16
    Los reyes de España nos trajeron a los conquistadores y dueños, cuyas huellas quedaron en los hatos circulares de tierra asignados a los buscadores de oro en las arenas de los ríos, una forma abusiva y bochornosa de explotación cuyos vestigios se pueden divisar desde el aire en muchos lugares del país.

    El turismo hoy, en gran parte, consiste en mostrar las delicias de los paisajes y saborear las exquisiteces alimentarias de nuestros mares, y siempre que se comparta con el capital privado de las grandes corporaciones extranjeras, cuyas ganancias si no alcanzan los miles de millones de dólares per cápita no son dignas de atención alguna.

    Ya que me vi obligado a mencionar el tema, debo añadir, principalmente para los jóvenes, que pocas personas se percatan de la importancia de tal condición en este momento singular de la historia humana. No diré que el tiempo se ha perdido, pero no vacilo en afirmar que no estamos suficientemente informados, ni ustedes ni nosotros, de los conocimientos y las conciencias que debiéramos tener para enfrentar las realidades que nos desafían. Lo primero a tomar en cuenta es que nuestras vidas son una fracción histórica de segundo, que hay que compartir además con las necesidades vitales de todo ser humano. Una de las características de este es la tendencia a la sobrevaloración de su papel, lo cual contrasta por otro lado con el número extraordinario de personas que encarnan los sueños más elevados.

    Nadie, sin embargo, es bueno o es malo por sí mismo. Ninguno de nosotros está diseñado para el papel que debe asumir en la sociedad revolucionaria. En parte, los cubanos tuvimos el privilegio de contar con el ejemplo de José Martí. Me pregunto incluso si tenía que caer o no en Dos Ríos, cuando dijo “para mí es hora”, y cargó contra las fuerzas españolas atrincheradas en una sólida línea de fuego. No quería regresar a Estados Unidos y no había quién lo hiciera regresar. Alguien arrancó algunas hojas de su diario. ¿Quién cargó con esa pérfida culpa, que fue sin duda obra de algún intriganteinescrupuloso? Se conocen diferencias entre los Jefes, pero jamás indisciplinas. “Quien intente apropiarse de Cuba recogerá el polvo de su suelo anegado en sangre, si no perece en la lucha”, declaró el glorioso líder negro Antonio Maceo. Se reconoce igualmente en Máximo Gómez, el jefe militar más disciplinado y discreto de nuestra historia.

    Mirándolo desde otro ángulo, cómo no admirarse de la indignación de Bonifacio Byrne cuando, desde la distante embarcación que lo traía de regreso a Cuba, al divisar otra bandera junto a la de la estrella solitaria, declaró: “Mi bandera es aquella que no ha sido jamás mercenaria…”, para añadir de inmediato una de las más bellas frases que escuché nunca: “Si deshecha en menudos pedazos llega a ser mi bandera algún día… ¡nuestros muertos alzando los brazos la sabrán defender todavía!...”. Tampoco olvidaré las encendidas palabras de Camilo Cienfuegos aquella noche, cuando a varias decenas de metros bazucas y ametralladoras de origen norteamericano, en manos contrarrevolucionarias, apuntaban hacia la terraza donde estábamos parados. Obama había nacido en agosto de 1961, como él mismo explicó. Más de medio siglo transcurriría desde aquel momento.

    Veamos sin embargo cómo piensa hoy nuestro ilustre visitante:

    “Vine aquí para dejar atrás los últimos vestigios de la guerra fría en las Américas. Vine aquí extendiendo la mano de amistad al pueblo cubano”.

    De inmediato un diluvio de conceptos, enteramente novedosos para la mayoría de nosotros:

    “Ambos vivimos en un nuevo mundo colonizado por europeos”. Prosiguió el Presidente norteamericano. “Cuba, al igual que Estados Unidos, fue constituida por esclavos traídos de África; al igual que Estados Unidos, el pueblo cubano tiene herencias en esclavos y esclavistas”.

    Las poblaciones nativas no existen para nada en la mente de Obama. Tampoco dice que la discriminación racial fue barrida por la Revolución; que el retiro y el salario de todos los cubanos fueron decretados por esta antes de que el señor Barack Obama cumpliera 10 años. La odiosa costumbre burguesa y racista de contratar esbirros para que los ciudadanos negros fuesen expulsados de centros de recreación fue barrida por la Revolución Cubana. Esta pasaría a la historia por la batalla que libró en Angola contra el apartheid, poniendo fin a la presencia de armas nucleares en un continente de más de mil millones de habitantes. No era ese el objetivo de nuestra solidaridad, sino ayudar a los pueblos de Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau y otros del dominio colonial fascista de Portugal.

    En 1961, apenas dos años y tres meses después del Triunfo de la Revolución, una fuerza mercenaria con cañones e infantería blindada, equipada con aviones, fue entrenada y acompañada por buques de guerra y portaviones de Estados Unidos, atacando por sorpresa a nuestro país. Nada podrá justificar aquel alevoso ataque que costó a nuestro país cientos de bajas entre muertos y heridos. De la brigada de asalto proyanki, en ninguna parte consta que se hubiese podido evacuar un solo mercenario. Aviones yankis de combate fueron presentados ante Naciones Unidas como equipos cubanos sublevados.

    Es de sobra conocida la experiencia militar y el poderío de ese país. En África creyeron igualmente que la Cuba revolucionaria sería puesta fácilmente fuera de combate. El ataque por el Sur de Angola por parte de las brigadas motorizadas de Sudáfrica racista los lleva hasta las proximidades de Luanda, la capital de este país. Ahí se inicia una lucha que se prolongó no menos de 15 años. No hablaría siquiera de esto, a menos que tuviera el deber elemental de responder al discurso de Obama en el Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso.

    No intentaré tampoco dar detalles, solo enfatizar que allí se escribió una página honrosa de la lucha por la liberación del ser humano. De cierta forma yo deseaba que la conducta de Obama fuese correcta. Su origen humilde y su inteligencia natural eran evidentes. Mandela estaba preso de por vida y se había convertido en un gigante de la lucha por la dignidad humana. Un día llegó a mis manos una copia del libro en que se narra parte de la vida de Mandela y ¡oh, sorpresa!: estaba prologado por Barack Obama. Lo ojeé rápidamente. Era increíble el tamaño de la minúscula letra de Mandela precisando datos. Vale la pena haber conocido hombres como aquel.

    Sobre el episodio de Sudáfrica debo señalar otra experiencia. Yo estaba realmente interesado en conocer más detalles sobre la forma en que los sudafricanos habían adquirido las armas nucleares. Solo tenía la información muy precisa de que no pasaban de 10 o 12 bombas. Una fuente segura sería el profesor e investigador Piero Gleijeses, quien había redactado el texto de “Misiones en conflicto: La Habana, Washington y África 1959-1976”; un trabajo excelente. Yo sabía que él era la fuente más segura de lo ocurrido y así se lo comuniqué; me respondió que él no había hablado más del asunto, porque en el texto había respondido a las preguntas del compañero Jorge Risquet, quien había sido embajador o colaborador cubano en Angola, muy amigo suyo. Localicé a Risquet; ya en otras importantes ocupaciones estaba terminando un curso del que le faltaban varias semanas. Esa tarea coincidió con un viaje bastante reciente de Piero a nuestro país; le había advertido a este que Risquet tenía ya algunos años y su salud no era óptima. A los pocos días ocurrió lo que yo temía. Risquet empeoró y falleció. Cuando Piero llegó no había nada que hacer excepto promesas, pero ya yo había logrado información sobre lo que se relacionaba con esa arma y la ayuda que Sudáfrica racista había recibido de Reagan e Israel.

    No sé qué tendrá que decir ahora Obama sobre esta historia. Ignoro qué sabía o no, aunque es muy dudoso que no supiera absolutamente nada. Mi modesta sugerencia es que reflexione y no trate ahora de elaborar teorías sobre la política cubana.

    Hay una cuestión importante:

    Obama pronunció un discurso en el que utiliza las palabras más almibaradas para expresar: “Es hora ya de olvidarnos del pasado, dejemos el pasado, miremos el futuro, mirémoslo juntos, un futuro de esperanza. Y no va a ser fácil, va a haber retos, y a esos vamos a darle tiempo; pero mi estadía aquí me da más esperanzas de lo que podemos hacer juntos como amigos, como familia, como vecinos, juntos”.

    Se supone que cada uno de nosotros corría el riesgo de un infarto al escuchar estas palabras del Presidente de Estados Unidos. Tras un bloqueo despiadado que ha durado ya casi 60 años, ¿y los que han muerto en los ataques mercenarios a barcos y puertos cubanos, un avión de línea repleto de pasajeros hecho estallar en pleno vuelo, invasiones mercenarias, múltiples actos de violencia y de fuerza?

    Nadie se haga la ilusión de que el pueblo de este noble y abnegado país renunciará a la gloria y los derechos, y a la riqueza espiritual que ha ganado con el desarrollo de la educación, la ciencia y la cultura.

    Advierto además que somos capaces de producir los alimentos y las riquezas materiales que necesitamos con el esfuerzo y la inteligencia de nuestro pueblo. No necesitamos que el imperio nos regale nada. Nuestros esfuerzos serán legales y pacíficos, porque es nuestro compromiso con la paz y la fraternidad de todos los seres humanos que vivimos en este planeta.

    Last edited by blindpig; 03-28-2016 at 02:47 PM.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

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