The Cuba Advocate

Year 59 of the Revolution

New ferry service to Cuba
Continue reading


May 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Raul Castro and Barack Obama shake hands. What a concept!


April 11, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cuba Will Not Renounce Its Ideas, by Raul Castro

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba | The White House

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba | The White House.

December 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lesson of Haiti

The Lesson of Haiti
Fidel Castro Ruz
November 14, 2010

Two days ago, at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake – measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale – had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometers from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.

The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly-constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for several hours.

The news took all of us by surprise. Many of us have frequently heard about hurricanes and severe flooding in Haiti, but were not aware of the fact that this neighboring country ran the risk of a massive earthquake. It has come to light on this occasion that 200 years ago, a massive earthquake similarly affected this city, which would have been the home of just a few thousand inhabitants at that time.

At midnight, there was still no mention of an approximate figure in terms of victims. High-ranking United Nations officials and several heads of government discussed the moving events and announced that they would send emergency brigades to help. Given that MINUSTAH (United Stabilization Mission in Haiti) troops are deployed there – UN forces from various countries – some defense ministers were talking about possible casualties among their personnel.

It was only yesterday, Wednesday morning, when the sad news began to arrive of enormous human losses among the population, and even institutions such as the United Nations mentioned that some of their buildings in that country had collapsed, a word that does not say anything in itself but could mean a lot.

For hours, increasingly more traumatic news continued to arrive about the situation in this sister nation. Figures related to the number of fatal victims were discussed, which fluctuated, according to various versions, between 30,000 and 100,000. The images are devastating; it is evident that the catastrophic event has been given widespread coverage around the world, and many governments, sincerely moved by the disaster, are making efforts to cooperate according to their resources.

The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country. Why does almost 50% of its population depend on family remittances sent from abroad? Why not analyze the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this enormous suffering as well?

The most curious aspect of this story is that no one has said a single word to recall the fact that Haiti was the first country in which 400,000 Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable glory were written there. Napoleon’s most eminent general was defeated there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural resources.

This historic oversight would not be so serious if it were not for the real fact that Haiti constitutes the disgrace of our era, in a world where the exploitation and pillage of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants prevails.

Billions of people in Latin American, Africa and Asia are suffering similar shortages although perhaps not to such a degree as in the case of Haiti.

Situations like that of that country should not exist in any part of the planet, where tens of thousands of cities and towns abound in similar or worse conditions, by virtue of an unjust international economic and political order imposed on the world. The world population is not only threatened by natural disasters such as that of Haiti, which is a just a pallid shadow of what could take place in the planet as a result of climate change, which really was the object of ridicule, derision, and deception in Copenhagen.

It is only just to say to all the countries and institutions that have lost citizens or personnel because of the natural disaster in Haiti: we do not doubt that in this case, the greatest effort will be made to save human lives and alleviate the pain of this long-suffering people. We cannot blame them for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there, even if we do not agree with the policy adopted with Haiti.

But I have to express the opinion that it is now time to look for real and lasting solutions for that sister nation.

In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba – despite being a poor and blockaded country – has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1,000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilized, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured.

Another significant number of young Haitians are currently studying medicine in Cuba.

We are also cooperating with the Haitian people in other areas within our reach. However, there can be no other form of cooperation worthy of being described as such than fighting in the field of ideas and political action in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number of nations such as Haiti.

The head of our medical brigade reported: “The situation is difficult, but we have already started saving lives.” He made that statement in a succinct message hours after his arrival yesterday in Port-au-Prince with additional medical reinforcements.

Later that night, he reported that Cuban doctors and ELAM’s Haitian graduates were being deployed throughout the country. They had already seen more than 1,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, immediately establishing and putting into operation a hospital that had not collapsed and using field hospitals where necessary. They were preparing to swiftly set up other centers for emergency care.

We feel a wholesome pride for the cooperation that, in these tragic instances, Cuba doctors and young Haitian doctors who trained in Cuba are offering our brothers and sisters in Haiti!

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Fidel Castro on Obama’s Nobel Prize

Fidel Castro: A Nobel Prize for Evo Morales

by Fidel Castro
October 18, 2009

If Obama was awarded the Nobel for winning the elections in a racist society despite his being African American, Evo deserves it for winning them in his country despite his being a native and his having delivered on his promises.

For the first time, in both countries a member of their respective ethnic groups has won the presidency.

I had said several times that Obama is a smart and cultivated man in a social and political system he believes in. He wishes to bring healthcare to nearly 50 million Americans, to rescue the economy from its profound crisis and to improve the US image which has deteriorated as a result of genocidal wars and torture. He neither conceives nor wishes to change his country’s political and economic system; nor could he do it.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to three American presidents, one former president and one candidate to the presidency.

The first one was Theodore Roosevelt elected in 1901. He was one of the Rough Riders who landed in Cuba with his riders but with no horses in the wake of the US intervention in 1898 aimed at preventing the independence of our homeland.

The second was Thomas Woodrow Wilson who dragged the United States to the first war for the distribution of the world. The extremely severe conditions he imposed on a vanquished Germany, through the Versailles Treaty, set the foundations for the emergence of fascism and the breakout of World War II.

The third has been Barack Obama.

Carter was the ex-president who received the Nobel Prize a few years after leaving office. He was certainly one of the few presidents of that country who would not order the murder of an adversary, as others did. He returned the Panama Canal, opened the US Interests Section in Havana and prevented large budget deficits as well as the squandering of money to the benefit of the military-industrial complex, as Reagan did.

The candidate was Al Gore –when he already was vicepresident. He was the best informed American politician on the dreadful consequences of climate change. As a candidate to the presidency, he was the victim of an electoral fraud and stripped of his victory by W. Bush.

The views have been deeply divided with regards to the choice for this award. Many people question ethical concepts or perceive obvious contradictions in the unexpected decision.

They would have rather seen the Prize given for an accomplished task. The Nobel Peace Prize has not always been presented to people deserving that distinction. On occasions it has been received by resentful and arrogant persons, or even worse. Upon hearing the news, Lech Walesa scornfully said: “Who, Obama? It’s too soon. He has not had time to do anything.”

In our press and in CubaDebate, honest revolutionary comrades have expressed their criticism. One of them wrote: “The same week in which Obama was granted the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Senate passed the largest military budget in its history: 626 billion dollars.” Another journalist commented during the TV News: “What has Obama done to deserve that award?” And still another asked: “And what about the Afghan war and the increased number of bombings?” These views are based on reality.

In Rome, film maker Michael Moore made a scathing comment: “Congratulations, President Obama, for the Nobel Peace Prize; now, please, earn it.”

I am sure that Obama agrees with Moore’s phrase. He is clever enough to understand the circumstances around this case. He knows he has not earned that award yet. That day in the morning he said that he was under the impression that he did not deserve to be in the company of so many inspiring personalities who have been honored with that prize.

It is said that the celebrated committee that assigns the Nobel Peace Prize is made up of five persons who are all members of the Swedish Parliament. A spokesman said it was a unanimous vote. One wonders whether or not the prizewinner was consulted and if such a decision can be made without giving him previous notice.

The moral judgment would be different depending on whether or not he had previous knowledge of the Prize’s allocation. The same could be said of those who decided to present it to him.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile creating the Nobel Transparency Prize.

Bolivia is a country with large oil and gas depots as well as the largest known reserves of lithium, a mineral currently in great demand for the storage and use of energy.

Before his sixth birthday, Evo Morales, a very poor native peasant, walked through The Andes with his father tending the llama of his native community. He walked with them for 15 days to the market where they were sold in order to purchase food for the community. In response to a question I asked him about that peculiar experience Evo told me that “he took shelter under the one-thousand stars hotel,” a beautiful way of describing the clear skies on the mountains where telescopes are sometimes placed.

In those difficult days of his childhood, the only alternative of the peasants in his community was to cut sugarcane in the Argentinean province of Jujuy, where part of the Aymara community went to work during the harvesting season.

Not far from La Higuera, where after being wounded and disarmed Che [Guevara] was murdered on October 9, 1967, Evo –who had been born on the 26th of that same month in the year 1959—was not yet 8 years old. He learned how to read and write in Spanish in a small public school he had to walk to, which was located 3.2 miles away from the one-room shack he shared with his parents and siblings.

During his hazardous childhood, Evo would go wherever there was a teacher. It was from his race that he learned three ethical principles: don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t be weak.

At the age of 13, his father allowed him to move to San Pedro de Oruro to study his senior high school. One of his biographers has related that he did better in Geography, History and Philosophy than in Physics and Mathematics. The most important thing is that, in order to pay for school, Evo woke up a two in the morning to work as a baker, a construction worker or any other physical job. He attended school in the afternoon. His classmates admired him and helped him. From his early childhood he learned how to play wind instruments and even was a trumpet player in a prestigious band in Oruro.

As a teenager he organized and was the captain of his community’s soccer team.

But, access to the University was beyond reach for a poor Aymara native.

After completing his senior high school, he did military service and then returned to his community on the mountain tops. Later, poverty and natural disasters forced the family to migrate to the subtropical area known as El Chapare, where they managed to have a plot of ground. His father passed away in 1983, when he was 23 years old. He worked hard on the ground but he was a born fighter; he organized the workers and created trade unions thus filling up a space unattended by the government.

The conditions for a social revolution in Bolivia had been maturing in the past 50 years. The revolution broke out in that country with Victor Paz Estensoro’s Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR, by its Spanish acronym) on April 9, 1952, that is, before the start of our armed struggle. The revolutionary miners defeated the repressive forces and the MNR seized power.

The revolutionary objectives in Bolivia were not attained and in 1956, according to some well-informed people, the process started to decline. On January 1st, 1959, the Revolution triumphed in Cuba, and three years later, in January 1962, our homeland was expelled from the OAS. Bolivia abstained from voting. Later, every other government, except Mexico’s, severed relations with Cuba.

The divisions in the international revolutionary movement had an impact on Bolivia. Time would have to pass with over 40 years of blockade on Cuba; neoliberalism and its devastating consequences; the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the ALBA; and above all, Evo and his MAS in Bolivia.

It would be hard to try summing up his rich history in a few pages.

I shall only say that Evo has prevailed over the wicked and slanderous imperialist campaigns, its coups and interference in the internal affairs of that country and defended Bolivia’s sovereignty and the right of its thousand-year-old people to have their traditions respected. “Coca is not cocaine,” he blurted out to the largest marihuana producer and drug consumer in the world, whose market has sustained the organized crime that is taking thousands of lives in Mexico every year. Two of the countries where the Yankee troops and their military bases are stationed are the largest drug producers on the planet.

The deadly trap of drug-trafficking has failed to catch Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador, revolutionary countries members of ALBA like Cuba which are aware of what they can and should do to bring healthcare, education and wellbeing to their peoples. They do not need foreign troops to combat drug-trafficking.

Bolivia is fostering a wonderful program under the leadership of an Aymara president with the support of his people.

Illiteracy was eradicated in less than three years: 824,101 Bolivian learned how to read and write; 24,699 did so also in Aymara and 13,599 in Quechua. Bolivia is the third country free of illiteracy, following Cuba and Venezuela.

It provides free healthcare to millions of people who had never had it before. It is one of the seven countries in the world with the largest reduction of infant mortality rate in the last five years and with a real possibility to meet the Millennium Goals before the year 2015, with a similar accomplishment regarding maternal deaths. It has conducted eye surgery on 454,161 persons, 75,974 of them Brazilians, Argentineans, Peruvians and Paraguayans.

Bolivia has set forth an ambitious social program: every child attending school from first to eighth grade is receiving an annual grant to pay for the school material. This benefits nearly two million students.

More than 700,000 persons over 60 years of age are receiving a bonus equivalent to some 342 dollars annually.

Every pregnant woman and child under two years of age is receiving an additional benefit of approximately 257 dollars.

Bolivia, one of the three poorest nations in the hemisphere, has brought under state control the country’s most important energy and mineral resources while respecting and compensating every single affected interest. It is advancing carefully because it does not want to take a step backward. Its hard currency reserves have been growing, and now they are no less than three times higher than they were at the beginning of Evo’s mandate. It is one of the countries making a better use of external cooperation and it is a strong advocate of the environment.

In a very short time, Bolivia has been able to establish the Biometric Electoral Register and approximately 4.7 million voters have registered, that is, nearly a million more than in the last electoral roll that in January 2009 included 3.8 million.

There will be elections on December 6. Surely, the people’s support for their President will increase. Nothing has stopped his growing prestige and popularity.

Why is he not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

I understand his great disadvantage: he is not the President of the United States of America.

Fidel Castro Ruz
October 15, 2009

October 18, 2009 Posted by | A - Best of Fidel Castro | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torture can never be justified

By Fidel Castro

May 27, 2009

ON Sunday, while putting the finishing touches to the Reflection on Haiti, I was listening to the television report on the ceremony commemorating the Battle of Pichincha that took place in Ecuador on May 24, 1822, 187 years ago. The background music was beautiful.

I stopped what I was doing to observe the bright, colorful uniforms of the era and other details of the commemoration event.

So many emotional recollections related to the heroic battle that was decisive for Ecuador’s independence! The ideals and dreams of the epoch were present at that event. Together with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, were the guests of honor Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales – who are reliving today the yearning for independence and justice for which the Latin Americans patriots fought and died. Sucre was the main protagonist of that immortal deed, impelled by the dreams of Bolívar.

That struggle has not ended. It is arising once again under very different conditions; conditions that perhaps were not dreamed of at that time.

What came to mind was a speech by Dick Cheney that I read on Saturday; it was about national security and had been delivered at 11:20 on the previous Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute and was broadcast by CNN in Spanish and English. It was a response to the speech given by U.S. President Barack Obama on the same issue at 10:27 that same day, and to which he was adding an explanation on the closure of the Guantánamo prison. I had heard him when he spoke that day.

Mention of this piece of forcibly-occupied national territory struck me, in addition to my logical interest in the subject. I didn’t even know that Cheney would be speaking right after that. That is unusual.

Initially, I thought that it could be an open challenge to the new president, but when I read the official version I understood that the rapid response had been put together beforehand.

The former vice president had written his speech with great care, in a respectful and, at times, sugarcoated tone.

But what characterized Cheney’s speech was his defense of torture as a method of obtaining information under certain circumstances.

Our northern neighbor is a center of planetary power; it is the richest and most powerful nation, possessing a number of nuclear warheads that ranges from 5,000-10,000 that can be made to explode on any place in the planet with utmost accuracy. One would have to add the rest of its military equipment: chemical, biological and electromagnetic weapons as well as a huge arsenal of equipment for ground, naval and air combat. Those weapons are in the hands of those who claim they have the right to use torture.

Our country has sufficient political culture to analyze such arguments. Many people around the world likewise understand the meaning of Cheney’s words. I shall make a brief synthesis selecting his own paragraphs, accompanied by brief commentaries and opinions.

He began by criticizing Obama’s speech: “It is obvious that the president would be sanctioned in a House of Representatives because in the House we have the rule of a few minutes,” he said jokingly, even though he for one spoke at considerable length; the translated official version runs for 31 pages, 22 lines per page.

“Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day…Today, I’m an even freer man…no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

“And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do.”

“Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration –who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.

“When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer.

“Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory.”

He then gives an account of terrorist attacks on the United States over the past 16 years, both inside and outside its borders, listing half a dozen of them.

Cheney’s problem was to broach the thorny issue of torture, so frequently condemned by official U.S. policy.

“Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”… We were determined to prevent attacks in the first place,” he stated.

He mentioned the number of people who lost their lives on September 11. He compares it to the attack on Pearl Harbor. He does not explain why the complex action was relatively easy to organize, what previous intelligence reports Bush possessed, or what he could have done to avoid it. Bush had been president for almost eight months. It is well-known that he worked very little and rested a lot. He was constantly going off to his ranch in Texas.

“al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

“As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.”

Cheney’s version makes it clear that nobody had foreseen that situation and he pays lip service to U.S. pride in assuming that someone holed up in a cave some 15,000 or 20,000 kilometers away could force the president of the United States to occupy his command post in the White House basement.

“In the years since,” Cheney goes on, “I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.

“But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries.

“We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support.

“We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution.

“And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.

“…through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States.

“The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of The New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11.

“It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

“In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information… that could be gained only through tough interrogations.

“I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program.

“The interrogations were used… after other efforts failed.

“They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do.

“Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.

“By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know.

“…the public was given less than half the truth.

“It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent… than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.

“One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta.”

Reaching this point however, Cheney had to explain what happened at the Abu Ghraib prison, which filled the world with horror.

“At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency.

“We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance…[we] were not trying to … simply avenge the dead of 9/11.

“From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought…information on terrorist plans.

“For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice.

Apart from the thousands of young Americans killed, maimed and wounded in the Iraq War and the huge funds invested there, hundreds of thousands of children, young and old people, men and women who were not to blame for the attack on the Twin Towers have lost their lives in that country after the invasion ordered by Bush. That enormous mass of innocent victims did not even receive a mention in Cheney’s speech.

He skips that and goes on:

“If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise.

“But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

“When just a single clue goes unpursued that can bring on catastrophe.

“On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan.

“The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security.

“In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.”

“…and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims…

“The enhanced interrogations…and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer.

“When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists.

“Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority…

“Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States.

“The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists…

“Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised.

“President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogations…

“President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.”

“Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration…

“…the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.

“If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11.

“We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them.

“It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed. Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste.

“As in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service.

“Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you.”

His attacks on the Obama administration were really fierce but I don’t wish to voice my opinions on that subject. I will however recall that terrorism did not come out of the blue: it is also the method that has been used by the United States to combat the Cuban Revolution.

General Dwight Eisenhower himself, president of the United States, was the first one to use terrorism against our homeland and this wasn’t just a group of bloody actions against our people but dozens of events beginning in 1959 itself, later escalating to hundreds of acts of terrorism every year, using flammable substances, high-power explosives; precision infrared-ray sophisticated weapons; poisons such as cyanide; fungi, hemorrhagic dengue, swine fever, anthrax; viruses and bacteria that attacked crops, plants, animals and human beings.

There weren’t just attacks on the economy and the people; they were also aimed at eliminating the leaders of the Revolution.

Thousands of people were affected, and the economy, whose objective is to sustain alimentation, healthcare and the most basic services for the people, has been submitted to a relentless blockade that is being applied in extraterritorial terms.

I am not inventing these facts. They are on record in declassified U.S. government documents. In our country, despite the very serious dangers that have threatened us for decades, we have never tortured anyone to obtain information.

However painful the actions against the people of the United States on September 11, 2001 – actions that everybody condemned – torture is a cowardly and shameful act that can never be justified.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | A - Best of Fidel Castro | , , | 1 Comment

Obama has missed an opportunity to do the right thing

By Jamie York

Obama’s much anticipated changes to U.S.-Cuba policy have turned out to be much ado about nothing. While changes in family remittances, unlimited travel to and from the island to visit relatives, and increased telecommunications are positive steps, the economic blockade remains intact. The “wet foot/dry foot” policy of instant citizenship for those who make the treacherous 90-mile trip to U.S. soil remains in place, as does the cruel, inhuman policy of using food and medicine as political weapons. So, too, remains the policy of interfering with the right of other nations to do business with Cuba.

Thus far in his presidency, Obama has proven to be a status quo politician interested in propping up capitalist banking and corporate interests while working people take a back seat. On Cuba policy, he is playing south Florida politics very effectively and will likely win some supporters in the next election cycle, but his slogan of “Change We Can Believe In” has been forgotten in regard to Cuba. Supporters of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba must continue to encourage Congress to do what Barack Obama has failed to do. Sadly, Obama has missed an opportunity to do something positive and right for human relations in the world.  President Obama said the U.S. would not stand idly by while injustice happens in the world, yet here we are, marking time.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | C. Articles and essays | Leave a comment

Will Obama end the Cuba embargo?

Will Obama end — or even ease — the U.S. trade and travel embargo on Cuba?

Main elements of the economic embargo and travel restrictions:
• No Cuban products or raw materials may enter the US
• US companies and foreign subsidiaries banned from trade with Cuba
• Cuba must pay cash up front when importing US food
• Ships which dock in Cuba may not dock in the US for six months
• US citizens banned from spending money or receiving gifts in Cuba without special permission, in effect a travel ban
• Americans with family on the island limited to one visit every three years.


By Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent, The (London) Observer, Sunday 8 March 2009

President Barack Obama is poised to offer an olive branch to Cuba in an effort to repair the US’s tattered reputation in Latin America.

The White House has moved to ease some travel and trade restrictions as a cautious first step towards better ties with Havana, raising hopes of an eventual lifting of the four-decade-old economic embargo. Several Bush-era controls are expected to be relaxed in the run-up to next month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago to gild the president’s regional debut and signal a new era of “Yankee” cooperation.

The administration has moved to ease draconian travel controls and lift limits on cash remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to the island, a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of families.

“The effect on ordinary Cubans will be fairly significant. It will improve things and be very welcome,” said a western diplomat in Havana. The changes would reverse hardline Bush policies but not fundamentally alter relations between the superpower and the island, he added. “It just takes us back to the 1990s.”

The provisions are contained in a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week. The legislation would allow Americans with immediate family in Cuba to visit annually, instead of once every three years, and broaden the definition of immediate family. It would also drop a requirement that Havana pay cash in advance for US food imports.

“There is a strong likelihood that Obama will announce policy changes prior to the summit,” said Daniel Erikson, director of Caribbean programmes at the Inter-American Dialogue and author of The Cuba Wars. “Loosening travel restrictions would be the easy thing to do and defuse tensions at the summit.”

Latin America, once considered Washington’s “backyard”, has become newly assertive and ended the Castro government’s pariah status. The presidents of Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala have recently visited Havana to deepen economic and political ties. Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is expected to tell Obama on a White House visit this week that the region views the US embargo as anachronistic and vindictive. Easing it would help mend Washington’s strained relations with the “pink tide” of leftist governments.

Obama’s proposed Cuba measures would only partly thaw a policy frozen since John F Kennedy tried to isolate the communist state across the Florida Straits. “It would signal new pragmatism, but you would still have the embargo, which is the centrepiece of US policy,” said Erikson.

Wayne Smith at the Centre for International Policy, Washington DC, said: “I think that the Obama administration will go ahead and lift restrictions on travel of Cuban Americans and remittance to their families. He may also lift restrictions on academic travel.

“There are some things that could be done very easily – for example it’s about time we took Cuba off the terrorist list. It’s the beginning of the end of the policies we have had towards Cuba for 50 years. It’s achieved nothing, it’s an embarrassment.”

Wayne Smith, a former head of the US Interest Section in Havana, famously said Cuba had the same effect on American administrations as the full moon had on werewolves.

Cuban exiles in Florida, a crucial voting bloc in a swing state, sustained a hardline US policy towards Havana even as the cold war ended and the US traded with other undemocratic nations with much worse human rights records.

To Washington’s chagrin, the economic stranglehold did not topple Fidel Castro. When Soviet Union subsidies evaporated, the “maximum leader” implemented savage austerity, opened the island to tourism and found a new sponsor in Venezuela’s petrol-rich president, Hugo Chávez.

When Fidel fell ill in 2006, power transferred seamlessly to his brother Raúl. He cemented his authority last week with a cabinet reshuffle that replaced “Fidelistas” with “Raúlistas” from the military.

Recognising Castro continuity, and aghast at European and Asian competitors getting a free hand, US corporate interests are impatient to do business with Cuba. Oil companies want to drill offshore, farmers to export more rice, vegetables and meat, construction firms to build infrastructure projects.

Young Cuban exiles in Florida, less radical than their parents, have advocated ending the policy of isolation. As a senator, Obama opposed the embargo, but as a presidential candidate he supported it – and simultaneously promised engagement with Havana.

A handful of hardline anti-Castro Republican and Democrat members of Congress have threatened to derail the $410bn spending bill unless the Cuba provisions are removed, but most analysts think the legislation will survive.

Compared to intractable challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, the opportunity for quick progress on Cuba has been called the “low-hanging fruit” of US foreign policy.

That Obama has moved so cautiously has frustrated many reformers. But after decades of freeze, even a slight thaw is welcome, and there is speculation that more will follow.
Old enemies

President Kennedy imposed an economic and trade embargo on Cuba on 7 February 1962 after Fidel Castro’s government expropriated US property on the island. Known by Cubans as el bloqueo, the blockade, elements have been toughened and relaxed under succeeding US presidents. Exceptions have been made for food and medicine exports. George Bush added restrictions on travel and remittances.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | C. Articles and essays | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Will Obama end the Cuba embargo?

The Cuba Five

by Jane Franklin

It has been said over and over again for a long time now. Firstly, they said it themselves – Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González – to the very Court which, as part of the macabre farce, sentenced them with perverse severity. The voices of solidarity which, little by little were beginning to speak out around the world, denounced it time and again.

The Five young Cubans arrested in Miami in September of 1998 were the victims of a huge injustice. They hadn’t harmed anyone. Their only crime was to fight against terrorism there, in the city that is a lair for terrorists. The trial against them was corrupt from the outset and riddled with scandalous violations of the law. From start to finish it was, in short, illegal. The Five innocent men, victims of a government’s abduction, were more than just prisoners. The US authorities have an unavoidable obligation; to put an end to the unjust imprisonment, or rather, the official abduction, and free them immediately.

To inform the public of these facts, and in particular, let the American people know about them, has been extraordinarily difficult. The mass media of ‘information’ has, with disciplined uniformity, opted not to communicate information on this issue.

One of the most curious examples of ‘globalization’ is the redefinition of which issues constitute news and which don’t. For example, the fact that the United States has officially expressed its support of terrorism and has repeated this conviction several times over the years, in writing and before a court of law, has never made the news. They have done this, letter by letter, in official documents issued by that Government and in numerous statements made by their district attorneys to the Court, all of which appears verbatim in the transcripts taken during sessions in the Court of Miami and in texts which have been made public, but which the American and European press have never reported on. (1)

Nor have they ever deemed it pertinent to relate how the accused were denied access to supposed incriminating ‘evidence’, or how it was almost impossible for them to have contact with their lawyers, from whom this ‘evidence’ was also withheld. This never made the news.

Something else which wasn’t considered newsworthy was the unusual, to say the least, fact, that generals, admirals, colonels and government experts all appeared before the Court, and stated, under oath, that the accused were innocent of the charges against them. The mass media based outside of Miami never found out about this, despite the fact that with incessant furore, the local pseudo-journalists insulted and threatened these persons, and that their testimonies have been available, in the trial transcripts, for five years (2)

What about the fact that with regard to the most serious charge the US Government itself acknowledged that they couldn’t prove it and in the end, unsuccessfully requested that it be withdrawn? The fact that this request (3), an unprecedented one in American history, was rejected by the Court and the Court of Appeals, but that regardless of this Gerardo Hernández was later found guilty, without any hesitation, of the charge that no-one wanted to accuse him of? The fact that on this charge they also sentenced him to a second life sentence? None of that interests the communicators.

What about the fact that all contact between the abducted Five and their families is restricted? Their visits reduced to a minimum? The fact that two of them are prevented from seeing their wives? The fact that a six year old girl is not allowed to meet her father? These are not matters to occupy the time of busy journalists, or even the imaginary defenders of human rights.

The case of the Five was conveniently ignored by the large corporations trying to monopolise information worldwide. However, in Miami, the so-called local media, those spokespeople for the terrorists who run the city as well as its radio, television and written press, did pay attention to this issue. They did so with the stridency that has made them famous. They went so far that the Court itself, as subjugated as it was by the terrorist mafia, felt obliged to protest and complain. Recall, if you may, the situation described by the judge: supposed journalists, brandishing cameras and microphones, following members of the jury through the passageways and up and down the steps of the Court building and out onto the street, to their vehicles, choleric, threatening. ‘They, the jury are afraid, they feel threatened’, admitted the judge. This is what is recorded in the transcripts (4) and this is how the Miami press reported it. Outside of Miami however, there was an imposed silence. These events weren’t reported either. The denouncement made by the judge, the anguish felt by the jury, the furore created by the ‘journalists’, all met with the same response: it wasn’t happening, it wasn’t news.

The news items that were reported, and repeated to the point of exhaustion, day and night, were Kobe Bryant’s affairs, Martha Stewart’s outfit, the comings and goings in Michael Jackson’s bed and their visits to courtrooms besieged by avid ‘informers’. There isn’t precisely an absence of news about the law, the police and courtroom activity among American television networks, radio stations or newspapers, or among their European clones.

In this ‘globalized’ world, from the Himalayas to the Patagonia, many people are aware of the sexual liaisons of any celebrity you could mention, but millions of Americans are not allowed to know that their government protects terrorism in its own backyard and punishes with exceptional cruelty all those who are there fighting it.

That was the situation up until Thursday 14 July. Only time will tell if it just happened by chance or if this coincidence is to bring us a glimmer of hope, but it was on this very day and no other when the news began to circulate. The BBC information service based in London and the American press agency, Associated Press, whose dispatches would later be reproduced by other organs of the printed press and radio, announced each in their own way, that the UN had declared arbitrary and illegal the arrest of the Five Cubans and their subsequent trial.

This is relative to the report issued by a panel of independent experts, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention established by the Commission on Human Rights (5)

It is the result of a long process of analysis, investigation and inquiries that included the Government of the United States.

In their conclusion the group underlined three main aspects: the 17 months of solitary confinement imposed on the Five at the time of their arrest, the limited access that the accused and their lawyers had to the evidence and the climate of strong hostility that they had to face.

It is worth noting that on three occasions the United Nations Group mentioned that the United States government had admitted in their communiqués to the serious violations that had been committed. As we see here:

‘The Government has not contested the fact that defense lawyers had very limited access to evidence…, negatively affecting their ability to present counter evidence’.</p> <p>’The Government has not denied that…, the climate of bias and prejudice against the accused in Miami persisted and helped to present the accused as guilty from the beginning. It was not contested by the Government that one year later it admitted that Miami was an unsuitable place for a trial where it proved almost impossible to select an impartial jury in a case linked with Cuba’.

Taking this into account, ‘The Working Group concludes that the three elements that were enunciated above, combined together, are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of liberty of these five persons an arbitrary character’, and ‘the deprivation of liberty of Messrs. Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar and René González Schweret is arbitrary, being in contravention of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’, therefore, ‘the Working Group requests the Government to adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation’.

How can this situation be remedied? What are the necessary steps that the United States Government must adopt? The answers are obvious. The entire process against the Five is null and void, invalid. The abducted Five must be freed immediately.

Since 12 September 1998, for 7 years now, that Government has been arbitrarily and illegally depriving five young men of their freedom. Worst of all they are doing this in order to protect the terrorist groups that operate with total impunity in the United States. So far they have managed this with the conspiratorial silence of the mass media.

Now we have the UN report and the fact that its content has been made public by some important media organs. Let us hope that the message will spread to the millions of people who have been refused their right to receive information. Let us hope that, finally, the moment of truth is upon us.

Published in on July 20, 2005:

1. The United States vs. Hernández et al, Case 98-271-C R-Lenard.

2. Trial Transcript (verbatim of the Court sessions, pages 8196-8301, 11049-11199, 11491-11547, 13089-13235)

3. Emergency Petition for writ of Prohibition presented by the S. Florida district attorney to the Court of Appeal on 25 May 2001.

4. Trial Transcript, pages 14644-14646

5. Conclusion reached by the Working Group on Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty. Opinion No. 19/2005 (United States of America) 27 May 2005.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | B - Cuba Articles | Leave a comment