Normalize Relations with Cuba
Cuba Vindicated by OAS Vote
End the Blockade Against Cuba Now!
The U.S. has maintained a genocidal blockade against Cuba for almost 50 years, in an effort to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. These efforts have failed and the Cuban people stand as a valiant and revolutionary force in the world. The recent OAS Summit, where the resolution excluding Cuba was revoked, showed that it is Cuba and her firm resistance to U.S. interference and genocide that was vindicated. The U.S. effort to exclude and isolate Cuba was defeated. This is an historic victory for the Cuban people and for all of Latin America and the Caribbean peoples, fighting to determine their own affairs and chart their own path forward.
The various representatives from the OAS member states also all called for the end of the blockade against Cuba, and continue to demand that the OAS act to end the blockade. Similarly, at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, in April, Argentina President Cristina Kirchner, speaking on behalf of Latin American countries, rightly called the blockade outdated and harmful and called on President Barack Obama to end it. Her stand was repeatedly echoed by the large majority of participants. Indeed, in yearly votes at the United Nations, 185 of the 192 UN member nations call for ending the blockade. As well, a recent visit by the Congressional Black Caucus to Cuba also concluded that the blockade must end.
President Barack Obama, speaking at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, called for a “new partnership” where there are not senior and junior partners in the Americas, but “an equal partnership” and “engagement based on mutual respect.” He also said that at the Summit, “We see the diversity of the Americas. Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path.” Ending the blockade recognizes in deeds the right of Cuba to follow her own path. It also recognizes the unified demand of the world’s people, who are calling on President Obama to submit to this majority will of the people and end the blockade now.
At the OAS, the U.S. attempted to continue to block Cuba’s participation in the name of “democratic freedoms.” This too was defeated. The U.S. blockade of Cuba is a clear example of the content of U.S-style democracy and its “freedom.” It was initially imposed and for decades maintained to block Cuba from following her own path. It has always had the aim of bringing about regime change, or what Obama called “freedom” for Cubans. The OAS verdict vindicating Cuba was also a verdict against U.S.-style democracy.
The Iraqi people, like those in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, all are well experienced with the “freedom” U.S.-style democracy brings, as are all the peoples of the Americas. U.S. imperialism is known for its interventions and wars and backing of fascist dictators. Obama, for example, admitted in his speech in Cairo that the U.S. acted to overthrow the elected government in Iran in the 1950’s for example. For Obama to be true to his word of “engagement based on mutual respect” and the right of nations to pursue their own path of development, he needs the deeds of ending U.S. interference of all kinds and taking responsibility for U.S. crimes, present and past. This includes as an immediate step ending the blockade against Cuba. More generally it means paying reparations and canceling the debt of the countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa and contributing to guaranteeing the rights of the peoples to healthcare, education, food, shelter, their own languages, their own forms of government. It is the responsibility of the U.S. to right the wrongs of the past as part of establishing the mutual respect Obama speaks of.
Lifting the blockade against Cuba is a stand that would be applauded by the peoples here and worldwide. We call on Obama to normalize relations with Cuba as an expression of what is needed and required by modern democracy, which recognizes in deeds the right of all nations to pursue their own path. Renounce the path of continued interference and stand with the world’s peoples in respecting Cuba and her right to decide her own path of development.
Free the Cuban Five
We also call on Obama to Free the Cuban Five by exercising his authority to pardon prisoners. He recently did this in the case of Israeli spies, convicted of espionage with clear evidence that they were in fact spies. In the case of the Cuban Five anti-terrorists, the U.S. government does not even claim there is a single document or state secret that the Five handed over to Cuba. Instead a case of “conspiracy” was fabricated, and then very long sentences handed out.
The case is now before the Supreme Court and Obama, instead of joining the world’s people in their demand to Free the Cuban Five, called on the court not to even hear the case. And he did so in the face of twelve “friend of the court” briefs being submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Five, including those from twelve Nobel Prize winners from different countries, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild and National Conference of Black Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers-Miami Chapter, National Jury Project, Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Cuban-American Scholars, and the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen.
It is also the case that in the course of the appeals process, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the Five did not receive a fair trial in Miami and should be retried at a different venue. The United Nations Human Rights Commission also ruled that the Five had received arbitrary treatment, contrary to due process. Far from recognizing the validity of the clear and documented case that the Five did not receive due process and at the very least must have their case heard before the Supreme Court, the Obama administration, like Bush before him, is insisting that the Five remain imprisoned and that the Supreme Court not hear the case.
Now is the time for new actions by the U.S. government consistent with Obama’s promise of engagement based on mutual respect. Let the U.S. make a gesture of friendship and respect by releasing the Cuban Five. Let the U.S. provide the example by ending the blockade against Cuba now! Now is the time to normalize relations with Cuba. Voice of Revolution salutes the struggle of the Cuban people to persist on their own path despite great odds, and calls on President Obama to do the same.
The 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of the Abya Yala demanded the end of the almost 50-year-old U.S. blockade of Cuba. The demand was made as part of the final declaration of the Summit, issued May 31. The Summit took place in the Andean city of Puno, in the southern region of Peru. The Declaration states in part:
“Meeting [on the shores of] Lake Mama Quta Titicaca, 6500 delegates from representative indigenous peoples’ organizations in 22 countries of Abya Yala, together with fraternal peoples of Africa, United States, Canada, Polar circle and other parts of the world, with the participation of 500 observers from diverse social movements, resolve the following:
“To declare our presence at a time of a profound crisis in the western capitalist civilization which has imposed an environmental, cultural, energy and social crisis, leading to social exclusion and hunger. It is an expression of the failure of eurocentrism and colonial modernity born out of ethnocide and which now sacrifices the whole of humanity.
“To offer an alternative of life against a civilization of death, looking to our roots in order to project a future, based on our principles and practices of harmony between men, women, Mother Earth, spiritualities, peoples and cultures, which we call Buen Vivir (Good Life). […]
“To strengthen our own intercultural, bilingual, systems of education and indigenous health, in order to advance the decolonization of knowledge, and especially to prevent biopiracy, defending our own unique systems of intellectual patrimony that is held by indigenous peoples collectively and across the generations.
“To support the struggles of all the peoples of the world against imperialist powers, which includes an end to the blockade of Cuba, the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian territories, the collective rights of the peoples of Masai, Mohawk, Shoshoni, Samé, Kurds, Cataláns, Basques, among others.”
The Summit also declared October 12-16, 2009 for a Global Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and Her Peoples!
(For full statement and more news see: www.abyayalanet.org and www.ivcumbrecontinentalindigena.org)
Join the 20th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba July 3 - August 3, 2009! We believe that NOW is the time to end the U.S. government’s policy of economically blockading Cuba, and banning travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.
A policy that has:
• survived almost 50 years and 10 U.S. presidents.
• sustained an attempt to starve the Cuban people into desperately rising up against their government.
• caused tremendous economic suffering in Cuba, as well as hurting business in the U.S.
• divided hundreds of thousands of Cuban families.
• prevented both nations from exchange and learning from each other.
• ignored almost universal international condemnation, and is immoral and inhuman
Challenge this Immoral Blockade!
President Obama has promised to remove all restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting Cuba and sending money to their families. Obama also said he was prepared to sit down and talk with the Cuban government. These are welcome steps if implemented, but we need to go much further.
All U.S. citizens should be free to travel to Cuba, whether for educational purposes, tourism, business, cultural, scientific or religious exchange. Normal trading relations should be resumed, so that Cuba can purchase goods it needs to develop its economy and rebuild after the hurricanes, and so that the U.S. can purchase the products that Cuba specializes in such as a number of unique life saving vaccines.
We call on citizens of faith and conscience throughout the North American continent to come with us, work with us, organize with us to ensure that this 20th caravan has the numbers, the aid, and the educational and media impact to for a broader push to end this blockade once and for all.
Be Part of a new Visions for a Peaceful Future
In July we will travel in school buses, trucks and cars on 15 different routes to visit more than 130 US and Canadian cities. At every stop we will inform people about the blockade and collect building supplies and tools for hurricane reconstruction, as well as medical, educational and cultural supplies.
We spend nine days in Cuba, in fellowship with our Cuban brothers and sisters. We will attend cultural events and visit social projects such as organic farms, homes for the elderly and health centers including the Latin American School of Medicine.
We will meet and learn from Cubans at every level about the problems caused by the blockade and how they have creatively responded, as well as how they are rebuilding after the hurricanes. Skilled construction workers can opt to spend a week working on a hurricane reconstruction brigade.
Hip Hop artists are invited to come with us on the routes to help get our message across via their artistic medium. In Cuba there will be opportunities to meet, record and perform with Cuban artists.
July 3-17: Caravan routes – educational events and aid collection in the U.S. and Canada (see www.ifconews.org for information and locations)
July 18-21: Orientation in Texas.
July 22-23: Border crossing into Mexico — travel to Tampico — load material aid onto cargo ship.
July 24 - August 1: Fly to Havana –educational program in Cuba.
August 2: Return to Tampico – travel to Mexico/US border.
August 3: Reverse Challenge, cross back into Texas.
Cuba Caravan Materials to Contribute
Below is a summary of general aid needs in Cuba. When sending solidarity aid to Cuba, it is essential that all items collected must be new or in excellent condition, clean and rust-free. Do not donate items that are not in working condition. This is not an opportunity to clean out junk from garages or basements. If it is not good enough for you and your family, do not send it to our Cuban brothers and sisters.
The 20th US-Cuba Friendshipment this July – has been specifically asked to prioritize construction supplies for the ongoing reconstruction effort after the 3 devastating hurricanes that hit Cuba in the fall of 2008.
We Particularly Need The Following Construction Supplies:
Plumbing: nuts, bolts, washers and all thread, plastic pipe fittings, toilets, sinks, faucets, PVC plastic fittings, copper fittings and valves, drains and stoppers, pipes, shower fixtures
Carpentry: nails, hammers, screws, drills, flashing, wall anchors, saws and saw blades, banding tools, door hanging tools, ladders, jacks, plaster, sandpaper
Electrical: any electrical wiring, fasteners, electrical boxes and covers, electrician tools, energy efficient lighting and bulbs, extension cords and adapters, generators, electric line testers, electrical tape
Masonry: grouts, sealants, horizontal reinforcing, masonry admixtures, concrete, masonry hand tools (floats, trowels), chisels (wood and masonry)
Painting: brushes, rollers, lead-free paint, brush extenders, paint plates
Protective Gear: dust masks, work gloves, protective eyeglasses
What we take in general...
• Vehicles: School buses, ambulances, trucks, pick-ups, mobile libraries (bookmobiles) — diesel & stick shift preferred — in good condition and with at least several years of life left in them.
• Computers: IBM compatible computers with Pentium III or better processors, and all computer accessories/peripherals. Must be in full working order. All types of printers but especially Epson LX 300 and HP laser jet 1200
• Educational supplies: All types of educational materials including for writing on and with (pen, pencils, paper etc. must be new/unused)
• Medical equipment/supplies/medicines: All kinds of equipment in good working order, sterile supplies sterile and medicines with an expiration date of February 1, 2010 or later.
• Books: Medical and scientific textbooks and journals in Spanish or English
• Alternative transportation/energy equipment: e.g. Bicycles (good condition), solar panels
• Sports/arts/cultural equipment: All kinds if in good condition.
• Musical Equipment: Musical instruments especially, DJ equipment, sound equipment
• Bibles: All Bibles must be in Spanish.
• Food: Powdered milk, infant formula, dietary supplements — in original factory-sealed containers.
• Car mechanics tools: Tools must be in good condition or new.
• Home supplies: Factory new clothing in bulk quantities.
And what we do not take because it is inappropriate or because Mexican customs will not let it through
• Anything that is not in good working order or is rusty
• Medication and medical supplies that have already expired or will reach their expiration date before February 1, 2010
• Medication and medical supplies that have been opened
• Computers older than Pentium III (about 7 years old) or that are not IBM compatible
• Books, in English or Spanish, that are not medical or scientific text books/journals
• Any clothing, sheets, towels, etc. that are not enclosed in their original packaging.
• Used paper
• Canned food
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on June 15 on whether or not they will hear the appeal of the Cuban Five. The Five are five anti-terrorists, unjustly tried and jailed in the U.S. They acted to oppose terrorism against Cuba, organized from Miami. Far from arresting the terrorists involved, well-known and infiltrated by the FBI, the U.S. instead targeted the Cuban Five and has held them in prison for more than 10 years. In the course of their appeals, one three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the Miami trial was not fair and ordered a new trial. They were later over-ruled. A United Nations Human Rights Commission also condemned the trial and treatment of the Five during incarceration, stating they were arbitrary and thus against due process. Thirteen amicus briefs (friend of the court) were also submitted by various legal and other forces on behalf of the five, more than any every submitted before in a criminal case.
Now the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear the case, which involves the issue of venue as well as others. The Barack Obama administration has refused to act to pardon the Five, on the basis of the UN findings and those of the earlier court ruling. Instead, his administration filed a brief urging the Court to deny the Five a hearing.
Voice of Revolution joins all those defending the Five in saying it is important not to passively await the decision. Instead, it is urgent that supporters once again raise a worldwide cry for the immediate freedom of the Five.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has called for actions the day of the decision (likely June 15) and the days before and after. They emphasize, “We urge supporters around the world to take actions of all kinds, whatever is possible. Protesting at consulates and embassies, calling press conferences, writing letters to newspapers or to the President or Justice Department (do not write to the Supreme Court), anything to ensure that the U.S. government knows that the whole world is watching.”
Thursday, June 11, 7:30 p.m.
Sponsored by: Atlanta Cuba Solidarity
San Diego, California, June 12, 2009:
Friday, June 12, 4:30 pm
Organized by: Mumia, Friends of Cuba, Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Raza Rights Coalition Coalición Pro Derechos de la Raza
Washington, DC, June 12, 2009:
Friday, June 12, 6:30-9:00pm
Houston, Texas, June 13, 2009:
Saturday, June 13, 8:30 p.m.
San Francisco, California, June 15, 2009:
Monday, June 15, 2009
On Mon., June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on whether or nor to accept the Cuban Five’s appeal. This is a crucial time for the Five, who have been unjustly imprisoned in the United States for almost 11 years.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is making an appeal to everyone to join the S.F. picket line on the day of the expected Supreme Court decision. Regardless of how the court rules, the struggle to free the Cuban anti-terrorist heroes will continue until they are free. Please join us on June 15, raise your voice for the Cuban Five’s freedom!
Santa Monica, California, June 19, 2009:
Friday, June 19, 7 pm
Film, Narrated by Mariel Hemigway [about 60 minutes]. See a side of the island nation that we seldom hear about: Cuba's art history and culture. Despite Cuba's overwhelming economic and political challenges, museums in Havana abound, providing information on topics from rum and revolution to cars and cigars. In fact, Old Havana itself is a museum-quality collection of historic buildings, reflecting 400 years of Spanish rule, 100 years of revolution. Old Havana City, museum of rum, casa de Africa, house of tobacco, opulent lives of the Spanish governors , Jose Marti's birthplace, Batista's presidential palace, Finca Vigia ( Hemingway's Hilltop home) private art collection of Cuba's wealthiest families.
Sponsors: Los Angeles Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba
Obama Grant Visas for the Cuban 5 Families
To: President Barack Obama
Since 1998, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez, known as the Cuban 5, have been unjustly imprisoned in the United States for trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba.
Throughout their incarceration the Cuban 5 have been victims of multiple human rights violations. One of the most unjust and inhuman of these violations has been the systematic denial of visitation from their relatives; a basic right of all prisoners. The U.S. government has imposed a number of obstacles and unjustifiable delays in granting visas to their families. Hence, some of the Cuban 5 have only received an annual visit from family.
In the cases of Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez, the situation is far more critical, as their wives have not been allowed to visit them in prison so far. Olga Salanueva, Rene Gonzalez’s wife has been denied visas to visit Rene based on unfounded arguments and pretexts. According to the U.S. government, Olga’s presence in the U.S. is a risk to national security. This argument is absurd because Olga lived in the U.S. for two years and two months after her husband’s arrest and was never linked to his federal charges nor was she ever accused of any herself. Also, it makes no sense to deny her a visa on an account of alleged intelligence activity since Rene was never accused of espionage.
In 2002, Gerardo Hernandez’s wife Adriana Perez was granted a visa to visit him. When she arrived to Houston Airport in Texas, she was arbitrarily detained, isolated, deprived her of her passport, photographed, and subjected to illegal questioning by the FBI for eleven hours and then sent back to Cuba. She was never allowed to visit Gerardo. Subsequently, Adriana has been denied visas to visit her husband.
The U.S. government asserts that she is a risk to national security. There is no proof or rationale that her presence will negatively impact national security. As with Olga Salanueva, Adriana’s name is not mentioned in the accusatory minutes linked to the Cuban 5’s charges. If the U.S. government had any evidence against her they could have arrested Adriana the moment she entered U.S. territory, but they didn’t.
President Obama, your decision to close Guantanamo Prison and your belief that Cuban-Americans should see their families in Cuba proves you believe in human rights and the reunification of families.
This denial of visas is keeping families apart and is a horrible human rights violation. In order to bring to an end to this flagrant violation of human rights, we ask that you intercede in this matter and grant visas to the families of the Cuban 5 and allow them to see their relatives on a regular basis.
(to sign petition online: www.petitiononline.com/ObamaC5V/petition.html)
“Obama could and should withdraw the false charges on which our five compañeros were framed,” affirmed Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, during the launch of a six-volume publication – translated into Spanish – of the 12 documents submitted as Amicus Briefs (Friend of the Court briefs) calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of the anti-terrorist Cubans, prisoners in that country for more than 10 years.
During an earlier conference with the national and accredited international press at the José Martí Memorial, Alarcón explained that the U.S. president has “the authority to end this situation” at any time, because it is within his powers. “President Barack Obama, who is a good lawyer,” he said, “knows that perfectly well, particularly given that he specialized in Constitutional Law.”
In that context, he argued that the U.S. constitution gives the president legal authority to pardon, overturn the sentence, reduce or modify it, and withdraw charges. However, if the current White House occupant makes no statement to that effect, “we are hoping that the Supreme Court permits the review demanded by virtually all of humanity,” he stated.
The Amicus briefs sent to the Supreme Court demonstrate the universal interest in this cause, Alarcón said. He added that this is an unprecedented case, given that the documents contain the signatures of 10 Nobel Prize winners, legal and parliamentary organizations and public figures from all over the world.
Alarcón also mentioned that the decision of the Organization of American States (OAS) to overturn the 1962 OAS resolution expelling Cuba constitutes a very important victory for Latin America, but confirmed that this decision will not change Cuba’s opinion of that organization or alter the island’s decision not to rejoin the OAS.
Declaration of the Revolutionary
In an act of unusual historic significance, the OAS has just formally buried the shameful resolution which excluded Cuba from the Inter-American System in 1962.
That decision was despicable and illegal, contrary to the declared aims and principles of the OAS Constitution. It was, at the same time, consistent with the trajectory of this organization; with the motive for which it was created, promoted and defended by the United States. It was consistent with its role as an instrument of U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere and with Washington's capacity to impose its will on Latin America at the historic moment in which the Cuban Revolution triumphed.
Today, Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing another reality. The decision adopted at the 39th session of the OAS General Assembly is the fruit of the will of governments more committed to their peoples, with the region's real problems and with a sense of independence that, unfortunately, did not prevail in 1962. Cuba acknowledges the merit of the governments that have undertaken to formally erase that resolution, referred to in that meeting as "an unburied corpse."
The decision to rescind Resolution 6 of the 8th OAS Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs constitutes an unquestioned disrespect for the U.S. policy on Cuba followed since 1959. It pursues the aim of repairing a historic injustice and is a vindication for the Cuban people and peoples of the Americas.
Despite the last-minute consensus achieved, that decision was adopted against Washington's will and in the face of intensive moves and pressure exerted by governments in the region. In that way, it dealt imperialism a defeat using its very own instrument.
Cuba welcomes with satisfaction this expression of sovereignty and civic-mindedness, while thanking those governments which, with a spirit of solidarity, independence and justice, have defended Cuba's right to return to the organization. It also understands the desire to free the OAS from a stigma that has remained as a symbol of the organization's servility.
However, Cuba once again confirms that it will not return to the OAS.
Since the triumph of the Revolution, the Organization of American States has played an active role in Washington's policy of hostility against Cuba. It made the economic blockade official, ruled on the embargo of weapons and strategic products, and stipulated member countries' obligatory breaking off of diplomatic relations with our revolutionary state. Despite the exclusion in place, over the years it even tried to keep Cuba under its authority and to subject it to its own jurisdiction and that of its specialized agencies. This is an organization with a role and a trajectory that Cuba repudiates.
The Cuban people were able to resist the aggressions and the blockade, overcome the diplomatic, political, and economic isolation, and face, on their own, without yielding, the persistent aggressiveness of the most powerful empire known to the planet.
Today our country enjoys diplomatic relations with all the countries of the hemisphere apart from the United States. It is developing broad links of friendship and cooperation with the majority of them.
Moreover, Cuba has won its full independence and is marching unstoppably toward a society that is more just, equitable, and full of solidarity every day.
It has done so with supreme heroism and sacrifice, and with the solidarity of the peoples of the Americas. It shares values that are contrary to those of neoliberal and egotistical capitalism promoted by the OAS, and feels that it has the right and the authority to say "no" to the idea of joining a body in which the United States still exercises oppressive control. The peoples and governments of the region will understand this just position.
Today it can be understood more clearly than in 1962 that it is the OAS that is incompatible with the most pressing desires of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, that it is incapable of representing their values, interests and genuine yearning for democracy; it is the OAS that has been unable to solve the problems of inequality, disparities in wealth, corruption, foreign intervention, and the predatory actions of transnational capital. It is the OAS that has remained silent in the face of the most horrendous crimes, communes with the interests of imperialism, and conspires against and subverts governments genuinely and legitimately constituted with demonstrable popular support.
The speeches and declarations of San Pedro Sula have been more than eloquent. Well-founded criticisms of the organization's anachronism, given its divorce from continental realities and its disgraceful record, cannot be ignored.
The demands to end, once and for all, the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba reflect the growing and unstoppable sentiment of an entire hemisphere. The spirit of independence represented there by the many that spoke is the one with which Cuba identifies.
Aspirations for the integration and coordination of Latin America and the Caribbean are increasingly manifest. Cuba is actively participating in, and proposes continuing to do so, the representative regional mechanisms of what José Martí called "Our America," from the Rio Grande to Patagonia, including all of the Caribbean islands.
Strengthening, expanding and harmonizing those bodies and groups is the path chosen by Cuba; not the outlandish illusion of returning to an organization that does not allow reform and that has been condemned by history.
The response of the people of Cuba to the ignominious 8th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OAS was the Second Declaration of Havana, approved in a mass assembly on February 4, 1962 by more than one million Cubans in the Plaza de la Revolución.
The declaration textually affirmed:
"...Great as was the epic of Latin American independence, heroic as was that struggle, today's generation of Latin Americans is called upon to engage in an epic which is even greater and more decisive for humanity. For that struggle was for liberation from Spanish colonial power, from a decadent Spain invaded by Napoleon's armies. Today the call for struggle is for liberation from the most powerful imperial metropolis in the world, from the most important force in the imperialist world and to render humanity an even greater service than that rendered by our predecessors.
"...For this great humanity has said, 'Enough!' and has begun to march. And its march of giants will not be halted until they conquer real independence, for which they have died in vain more than once."
We will be loyal to these ideas which have made it possible for our people to maintain Cuba free, sovereign and independent.
Havana, June 8, 2009
(Translated by Granma International)
The older I get the more evidence seems to accumulate that the greatest enemy of world peace and popular enlightenment may be the profession of journalism. Somebody once said that generals are always prepared to fight the last war but the truism seems to fit at least as well when applied to journalists.
Take the New York Times (NYT) editorial on June 4 [the day the OAS voted to revoke the ban on Cuba, see VOR update June 5]. It begins, portentously:
"For 50 years, the Cuban people have suffered under Fidel Castro’s, and now Raúl Castro’s, repressive rule. But Washington’s embargo — a cold war anachronism kept alive by Florida politics — has not lessened that suffering and has given the Castros a far-too-convenient excuse to maintain their iron grip on power."
Anyone who knows anything about the history of the last 50 years might be forgiven for total bafflement. Let us leave aside the statutory abuse and go to the embargo – which the NYT describes as a Cold War anachronism which had not 'lessened the suffering … etc.'
In the first place the embargo was originally designed and has been periodically reinforced specifically to make the Cuban people suffer and to punish them for not rising up and overthrowing their government. The embargo is – in terms of international law – an act of war, and it has always been meant to have that effect on the Cubans. If any nation had declared war on the U.S., would the U.S. expect that to improve the conditions of the U.S. population?
The embargo is so punitive that it even bans medicines and vaccines for children from the Cubans. It was and is an attempt to make the Cubans grovel in their misery and cry "Uncle" – as in “Uncle Sam.” The fact that the opposite has happened is not a matter for inquiry by the NYT. Instead, says the Times:
"So we are encouraged to see President Obama’s tentative efforts to ease the embargo and reach out to the Cuban people. At the same time, we are absolutely puzzled and dismayed by this week’s frenzied push by many Latin American countries to readmit Cuba to the Organization of American States.
"Cuba, which says it has no interest in joining, clearly does not meet the group’s standards for democracy and human rights."
The writer is obviously not aware that in the world outside of the United States, in the United Nations, the margin of support for ending the embargo has grown steadily since 1992, when 59 countries voted in favor of the resolution. The figure was 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 184 in 2007. Last year apart from the U.S., only Israel and one or two other superpowers like Palau voted against the resolution, while Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.
The delegate speaking on behalf of the European Union, France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the 27-member bloc rejects "all unilateral measures against Cuba which are contrary to common accepted rules of international trade." The Antiguan representative, speaking on behalf of the 132-nation Group of 77 and China, said the alliance renewed its call on Washington to lift the embargo which not only undermines the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, but threatens the [now sacred] principles of free trade and investment.
The New York Times is unaware that the Iberian/Latin American nations long ago welcomed Cuba in from the cold, even holding their 1999 Summit in Havana. There, the Spanish, Portuguese and Mexican heads of government criticised what they called Cuba's lack of democracy, but did not see their differences as unbridgeable.
At that meeting, attended by the King of Spain, among others, Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban revolution defiantly declared that it was “an impossible task to persuade Cuba that it should abandon the ways of revolution and Socialism.'' He said, “Almost nobody thought Cuba could survive the fall of the Socialist bloc ... but we thought differently and were determined to fight. […]
When the U.S. condemns the Cubans for their lack of democracy there is an unconcealed irony in the U.S. position, not to say hypocrisy. The so-called dissidents that Cuba is accused of persecuting are in fact paid agents of the United States, whose motives may be as innocent as saints, but who are in fact, under Cuban and international law, working for a foreign power with whom their country is at war, in a war declared not by Cuba but by the United States.
The New York Times, like the people Castro calls the Miami Mafia and like other anti-Cuban forces, does not apparently believe the Cubans have any right to defend themselves from American attack.
"We understand the desire to fully reintegrate Cuba into the main regional organization. But as Human Rights Watch (HRW) argued this week: ‘Cuba is the only country in the hemisphere that repudiates nearly all forms of political dissent. For nearly five decades, the Cuban government has enforced political conformity with criminal prosecutions, long- and short-term detentions, mob harassment, physical abuse and surveillance.’”
The people the NYT and HRW are defending are the foreground players in a multilevel criminal assault on the Cuban polity. Over the years this assault has included terrorist bombings such as the sabotage of the arms ship La Coubre which exploded in the Havana docks in 1960, killing and maiming hundreds, terrorist campaigns in the Escambray and other parts of Cuba, targeted assassinations, biological warfare killing Cuban children with imported strains of hemorrhagic dengue fever for instance; economic biological warfare targeting sugar cane, tobacco and citrus, among others with exotic diseases; terrorist bombings of hotels, targeting tourists, plots to blow up the Tropicana, the world's most famous nightclub and its audience and cast of hundreds; and the unremitting campaign to kill Fidel Castro with more than 600 known attempts on his life.
And while we talk about Cuba let us not forget about the U.S. attempts to spread democracy in Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Colombia, Nicaragua and Haiti, among others, leaving the landscape littered with the corpses of men, women, children, nuns, priests and journalists.
No one can convince me that the Cubans have no right to defend themselves and their revolution. […]
John Maxwell a veteran Jamaican journalist. He has covered Caribbean affairs for more than 40 years and is currently a columnist for The Jamaica Observer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.