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Cuba: Will It Ever Perpetrate Attacks of Any Sort Against Diplomatic Officials

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Cuba Has Never Perpetrated, Nor Will It Ever Perpetrate Attacks of Any Sort Against Diplomatic Officials or Their Relatives, Without Any Exception

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba in response to recent measures taken by the Trump administration following incidents involving U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana

On September 29, 2017, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillersonannounced the decision to significantly downscale the diplomatic staff of the US embassy in Havana and withdraw all their relatives, claiming that there had been “attacks” perpetrated against US Government officials in Cuba which have harmed their health.

Once again, on October 3, the US Government, in an unwarranted act, decided that 15 officials of the Cuban Embassy in Washington should depart from the United States, claiming that the US had reduced their diplomatic staffing levels in Havana and that the Cuban Government had failed to take all appropriate steps to prevent “attacks” against them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protests and condemns this unfounded and unacceptable decision as well as the pretext used to justify it, for it has been asserted that the Cuban Government did not take the appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of the alleged incidents.

In the meeting that, at the proposal of the Cuban side, was held with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, warned him against the adoption of hasty decisions that were not supported by evidence; urged him not to politicize a matter of this nature and once again required the effective cooperation from the US authorities to clarify facts and conclude the investigation.

It is the second time, after May 23, 2017, that the State Department orders two Cuban diplomats in Washington to abandon the country; that the US Government reacts in a hasty, inappropriate and unthinking way, without having evidence of the occurrence of the adduced facts, for which Cuba has no responsibility whatsoever and before the conclusion of the investigation that is still in progress.

Just as was expressed by the Cuban Foreign Minister to Secretary of State Tillerson on September 26, 2017, Cuba, whose diplomatic staff members have been victims in the past of attempts perpetrated against their lives, who have been murdered, disappeared, kidnapped or attacked during the performance of their duty, has seriously and strictly observed its obligations under the Geneva Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 referring to the protection and integrity of diplomatic agents accredited in the country, in which it has an impeccable record.

As was informed by the Ministry on August 9 last, since February 17, 2017, when the US embassy and State Department notified the alleged occurrence of incidents against some officials of that diplomatic mission and their relatives as from November 2016, arguing that these had caused them injuries and other disorders, the Cuban authorities have acted with utmost seriousness, professionalism and immediacy to clarify this situation and opened an exhaustive and priority investigation following instructions from the top level of the Government. The measures adopted to protect the US diplomatic staff, their relatives and residences were reinforced; new expeditious communication channels were established between the US embassy and the Diplomatic Security Department and a committee of experts was created to make a comprehensive analysis of facts, which was made up by law enforcement officials, physicians and scientists.

In the face of the belated, fragmented and insufficient information supplied by the US, the Cuban authorities requested further information and clarifications from the US embassy in order to carry out a serious and profound investigation.

The US embassy only delivered some data of interest on the alleged incidents after February 21, whenPresident Raúl Castro Ruz personally reiterated to the Chargé d’Affairs of the US diplomatic mission how important it was for the competent authorities from both countries to cooperate and exchange more information. Nevertheless, the data supplied later on continued to be lacking in the descriptions or details that would facilitate the characterization of facts or the identification of potential perpetrators, in case there were any.

In the weeks that followed, in view of new reports on the alleged incidents and the scarce information that had been delivered, the Cuban authorities reiterated the need to establish an effective cooperation and asked the US authorities for more information and insisted that the occurrence of any new incident should be notified in real time, which would provide for a timely action.

Besides all of the above and in the interest of contributing to the investigation and legal process established by virtue of the Cuban Criminal Procedural Law, the US received from Cuba some requests for information as part of the inquiry procedure.

The information delivered by the US authorities led the committee of Cuban experts conclude that this was insufficient and that the main obstacle to clarify the incidents had been the impossibility to have direct access to the injured people and the physicians who examined them; the belated delivery of evidence and their deficient value; the absence of reliable first-hand and verifiable information and the inability to exchange with US experts who are knowledgeable about this kind of events and the technology that could have been used, despite having repeatedly stating this as a requirement to be able to move forward in the investigation.

Only after repeated requests were conveyed to the US Government, some representatives of specialized agencies of that country finally traveled to Havana on June last, met with their Cuban counterparts and expressed their intention to cooperate in a more substantive way in the investigation of the alleged incidents. They again visited Cuba in August and September, and for the first time in more than 50 years they were allowed to work on the ground, for which they were granted all facilities, including the possibility of importing equipment, as a gesture of good will that evidenced the great interest of the Cuban government in concluding the investigation.

The Cuban authorities highly assessed the three visits made by the US specialized agencies, which have recognized the high professional level of the investigation started by Cuba and its high technical and scientific component, and which, as a preliminary result, concluded that, so far, according to the information available and the data supplied by the United States, there were no evidence of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or the causes and the origin of the health disorders reported by the US diplomats and their relatives. Neither has it been possible to identify potential perpetrators or persons with motivations, intentions or means to perpetrate this type of actions; nor was it possible to establish the presence of suspicious persons or means at the locations where such facts have been reported or in their vicinity. The Cuban authorities are not familiar with the equipment or the technology that could be used for that purpose; nor do they have information indicating their presence in the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically rejects any responsibility of the Cuban Government in the alleged incidents and reiterates once again that Cuba has never perpetrated, nor will it ever perpetrate attacks of any sort against diplomatic officials or their relatives, without any exception. Neither has it ever allowed nor will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties with that purpose.

The Ministry emphasizes that the US Government announced decision to reduce Cuba’s diplomatic staff in Washington without the conclusive results from the investigation and without evidence of the incidents that would be affecting their officials in Cuba has an eminently political character.

The Ministry urges the competent authorities of the US Government not to continue politicizing this matter, which can provoke an undesirable escalation and would rarify and reverse even more bilateral relations, which were already affected by the announcement of a new policy made in June last by President Donald Trump.

The Ministry reiterates Cuba’s disposition to continue fostering a serious and objective cooperation between the authorities of both countries with the purpose of clarifying these facts and conclude the investigation, for which it will be essential to count on the most effective cooperation of the US competent agencies.

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A Cuban Mystery: The US Embassy in Havana

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Cuba has, for decades, been a form of political pathology for US political consciousness. Fidel Castro loomed in his indestructible guise, tormenting a succession of American presidents with his seeming indestructibility. Efforts at deposing and assassination had conspicuously failed. It was left, then, to Washington to insulate, seal off and keep Cuba as an infectious patient of international relations, fearing its global reach and influence.

With the softening of this manic stance under the Obama administration, Cuba ceased being the incurable. It even had promise. US business officials were smacking their lips and rubbing hands. The new Cuba might well return to the Cuba of old, one more open to reverie, smut and cash. The diplomats would return; the US embassy would reopen in Havana.

Then, Donald Trump happened. A new administration, the government of 140 character messages, roars and expectoration. The cool seemed likely to return in the heat of intolerance and misguided encounters. In June, Trump announced that limitations on trade and tourism with Havana would be imposed. It was a corrective of sorts to yet another “one-sided deal” and halted people-to-people exchanges.

Since the fall of 2016, staff at the US embassy have been troubled. Up to 21 diplomats have been affected by what is now being considered an attack. (These had been previously deemed, in State Department speak, “incidents”.) American media outlets, from the Old Grey Lady onwards are unanimous.

“It started as a medical mystery,” went the New York Times. “It then was determined to have been the result of a mysterious attack.”

The symptoms cover a considerable range: nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, difficulty with sleeping, deafness, even mild brain trauma. That these might have arisen from a sonic attack has been suggested. But speculation is rife as the coterie of experts in the field of bio-electromagnetics are entertained. What sort of weapons might have been behind this?

One such figure is Denis Bedat, who made his splash for the AFP new agency.

“Ultrasonic waves, beyond the acoustic capacity of humans, can be broadcast with an amplifier, and the device does not need to be large, or used inside or outside the house.”[1]

Weapons such as the anti-riot gun in the employ of the US police forces, otherwise known as the Active Denial System (ADS), are exponents of such waves.

The Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has been cautious in according blame, despite also pouring over a proposed plan to close the embassy in Havana.

“We have it under evaluation. It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered. We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.”[2]

Havana, in turn, has urged caution and restraint, expressing official bafflement at the cases.

“Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks, and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort.”

This policy of cooperation is typically troubled, an appellation of suspicion and masochism.

Given that two Cuban diplomats have suffered expulsion as a result, the finger pointing is being presumed, even if those fingers are slightly askew. Punish, but not abolish; tell those in Havana that this is not the sort of thing the US will tolerate, but still keep doors open, if only slightly ajar and barely operating.

On Friday, the State Department did announce a suspension of routine visa operations, giving no clue when they would resume, while limiting official travel to Cuba by US officials, excepting those connected with the investigation or those in need of travelling to the country.[3]

The sting in the tail, however, was a travel warning for Americans in general, suggesting danger to visitors from the US. As “our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe US citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba.”[4]

Tillerson is exercising caution, and the theory that a third party may well be up to mischief is being floated. Officials have spoken about taking measures of protection in the name of prudence. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, has expressed concern that the US is prizing itself out of the diplomatic game in taking them.

“We’ve got a mission to do,” she explained to The Atlantic. “We operate all over the world, in places with serious health risks… The answer can’t be we just pull the flag down and move American presence from the field.”[5]

Havana has expressed consternation at the moves by the Trump administration, but is still hopeful in cooperation. But all this signals, yet again, the odd mix of machismo mixed with caution; bluster with a U-turn and summersault in Trump’s version of foreign policy.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes

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Facing Irma in Cuba: “¡Saldremos adelante!” (“We Can Only Move Forward!”)

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“Saldremos adelante!” (“We can only move forward!”). This is what a colleague exclaimed during one of my several phone calls to Havana in the days after Irma unleashed its wrath on the capital.

Others, when asked how they, their families, colleagues and neighbours were faring, declared in a similar manner, “We are fighters,” “We are never defeated” and “We are in the battle for recovery.”

Despite this attitude, they were unanimous in their emphasis that Cuba’s situation is “critical,” having suffered the most devastating hurricane in about 85 years. This coincides with Raúl Castro’s message to the people, when he said,

“No one should be fooled; the task we have before us is huge.”

Another colleague remarked that the Cubans’ trademark solidarity immediately became stronger and more widespread in the course of Irma’s fury on Havana. For example, in a small apartment building without gas or electricity for cooking, one family used charcoal to prepare meals for all the residents, using everyone’s food that was otherwise perishing in their refrigerators. Another colleague, a journalist, recounted how she was able to meet the deadline for her story despite her office building remaining without electricity, thanks to being granted access to the headquarters of another news outlet. One can hardly imagine a similar situation taking place in the US! Would CNN and FOX collaborate this way? Would the capitalist New York Times share its offices with its diehard competitor The Wall Street Journal? In the same manner, in Canada, can anyone imagine such cooperation between archrivals The Globe and Mailand the Toronto Star? This is just one great advantage of the Cuban press not being privately controlled. All of the above and countless other examples are also reflected in Raúl’s statement “with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.”

In fact, only three days after these initial phone conversations, the same people reported that their electricity and gas had been restored but that, sadly, many small towns on the north coast have been devastated to the extent that normal services and housing had not yet come close to being restored.

The Cuban Revolution and Notions of Defeat Are Incompatible

The Cuban Revolution does not know the meaning of defeat. It likewise does not accept in its collective and individual minds the notion of fear or despair. This new consciousness began developing in Cuba since 1959, solidifying and deepening over the decades in the face of adversity. This unique feature was noticeable before Irma, but it has become ever more evident these past two weeks. Its latest expression in the dramatic days during and after Irma could not help one to think of the first two sentences of the Cuban Constitution, which states that Cuban citizens express “combativity, firmness, heroism and sacrifice fostered by our ancestors.” An early example of this consists of “the Indians who preferred extermination to submission.” The 16th-century Taíno Indian chief Hatuey is a legend in Cuba. On February 2, 1512, Hatuey was tied to a stake at the Spanish camp, where he was burned alive. Just before lighting the fire, a priest offered him spiritual comfort, showing him the cross and asking him to accept Jesus and go to heaven. “Are there people like you in heaven?” he asked. “There are many like me in heaven,” replied the priest. Hatuey answered that he wanted nothing to do with a god that would allow such cruelty to be unleashed in his name.

Raul Castro cropped.jpg

Raul Castro (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This fierce characteristic of the native people remains true of the Cuban people today. The same cannot be said of the European peoples, nations and their descendants as a whole, with the exception of the Cuban nation, which, faced with one adversity or another ­– whether it be successive hurricanes, Moncada, post-1959 terrorist attacks on the island, the Bay of Pigs or the fall of the former USSR and Eastern European socialist countries (with which 85% of Cuba’s economy was entangled) – have demonstrated an indelible feature of their collectivity: the impossibility to accept defeat.

Cuba accomplished this not only since 1959, but also as far back as the wars of independence in the second half of the 19th century. One notable example of this historical period is the Protest of Baraguá. Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceocould not accept defeat because he did not feel defeated – he had been winning his battles and had a good military organization. In the Baraguá (eastern Cuba) meeting with the Spanish, he strongly objected to the terms of the peace agreement, which the conciliatory section of the resistance to the Spanish accepted, deeming the agreement to be insulting and brushing aside its promise of concessions. Cuba is an eternal Baraguá, as they say.

This feature of the Cuban people having revolutionized their mentality as a people and a nation in a protracted process, obliterating any notion of fear and defeat while replacing it with a firmly based new consciousness, is not only inspired by the inevitable victory over adversity, but is also of historic importance for this century. In Latin America, the Bolivarian Revolution (with its more than 8 million proactive people) is another example, even though it has not yet penetrated the Venezuelan people or nation as a whole.

It seems as if the overwhelming majority of Cuban people have reached this new consciousness, as it existed among the native peoples for thousands of years. The latter’s mindset constitutes an entirely different mentality generally not found as a distinguishing characteristic among European nations and their descendants. The Cuban off-springs of the Spanish and other Europeans, Africans, Chinese and others as a new nation have been evolving in the course of revolutionary struggles since 1868, with a renewed spark after the 1953 Moncada attack. This fearless way of thinking and corresponding actions seems to have merged into an entirely new national idiosyncrasy that has far more in common with the heritage of the native peoples than with that of the Europeans.

“Survival of the Fittest?”

The words that follow may stir some interest as well as cackles. It is a historical fact that the Cuban Revolution has survived against all odds and predictions despite, among other factors, the five-decade-long blockade and the earthshaking fall of the USSR, which was supposed to have sounded the death knell for the socialist revolution. Instead, rather than merely surviving it, Cuba has evolved further – socially and culturally – while constituting an unprecedented model of international solidarity. And, let us not forget, all this has transpired within the limits of the blockade, whose goal, it must always be recalled, is the protracted genocide of the Cuban people.

While social science is far from able to provide an exhaustive analysis, explanation or encouragement of this rare phenomenon that is the Cuba Revolution, the metaphoric use of natural science may be of assistance in reflection. Charles Darwin showed that, as part of natural evolution, only the fittest survive extinction. The Cuban Revolution is indeed the “fittest,” in the sense that it has imbued the vast majority of Cuban people composing the nation to overcome even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This mentality of refusing to accept defeat was also reflected in the call by Raúl to his people, when he ended by saying,

“We face the recovery with the example of Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, who, with his unwavering confidence in victory and iron will, taught us that nothing is impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.”

Fidel is at once the main impulse and guide, through his thinking, action and example for the Cuban Revolution. He embodies this iron will to fight off attacks from all hostile tendencies inside and outside Cuba to defeat any challenge that stands in its way and thus come out victorious.

International Solidarity

The Cuban people have proven themselves to be world leaders when it comes to international solidarity, and the love they have extended to others has been rewarded with the rapid material and moral support of Russia, Vietnam and countries in Latin America. For example, in a briefing after Irma hit Cuba, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with his Chavista flair, showed a video of a Hercules plane loaded with material support landing on a makeshift runway cleared by the Cuban government as part of reopening of the Havana airport.

More than ever before, Cuba needs and deserves such material and moral support. While Cuba receives this type of solidarity from around the planet, Trump has signed the Trading with the Enemy Act once again, and made a statement on September 13 about human rights violations in Cuba and Venezuela. This was followed by the callous statement of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He stated on September 16 that, in light of the alleged and totally non-founded sonic interference by Cuba against the American diplomats in Havana, the US is considering closing its Embassy in Havana. He said with a callousness completely oblivious to the suffering of the Cuban people by the very real Irma:

“It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals [American diplomats] have suffered.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s Canadian government is among the Western countries that have not issued any statement of support or solidarity with Cuba. This is a sad reality, given Canada’s special relationship with Cuba, having not ever broken diplomatic ties with the country. In fact, Justin Trudeau’s father was the first Western leader to visit Cuba and express solidarity with Fidel Castro and “Cuba Libre.” Justin Trudeau himself visited Cuba and met with Raúl Castro only days before Fidel passed away. Furthermore, Canada has been the biggest source of tourism for Cuba for several decades, to the extent that millions of Canadians have visited the island not only once, but multiple times, making Cuba practically a home away from home for many.

One may hope that the Trudeau government will rectify and at least express its moral support, which would very much encourage the Cubans, who are conscious of this special Cuba–Canada relationship forged to an extent by the Trudeau tradition. As far as critically needed financial and material support, Canada should overcome its self-imposed bureaucracy and provide immediate aid. According to the website of the Cuban Mission in Ottawa, the first on the list of material needs is construction material. Canada is the fifth in the world as far as lumber production and hovers between the first and second of the world’s top exporters of timber products. Should Canada not immediately consider overcoming any obstacle and make use of this plentiful natural resource that is so necessary for Cuba in this critical situation?

This obstinacy by some Western governments – such as the US, Canada, the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as others – is in contrast to the attitude of solidarity organizations and other institutions in these countries that are going all out to raise relief funds at the grassroots level to support Cuba. While all countries in the Caribbean also need this support, Cuba was the hardest hit in terms of quantity of infrastructure and the number of people affected by Irma. It is also a political issue, in terms of supporting the survival of the Cuban Revolution, which is now facing an unprecedented climate challenge. Furthermore, the hurricane season still has close to another three months to go, as some of my colleagues in Havana have pointed out.

The American Blockade and Irma

Cuba is also facing a new disinformation campaign from mass media and others. Many are having a field day describing housing, roofs and other structures as being “dilapidated,” which to an extent is true, especially in cities such as Havana. But is this a feature of the Cuban system? The impression given is that any problematic housing and infrastructure is entirely Cuba’s fault and thus proof of the “failure of socialism.” However, what about the effects of the blockade, which was mainly completely ignored in these reports or reduced to a footnote? As mentioned by Cuban colleagues in Havana who were consulted on this issue of disinformation,

“It is no accident that these media hide or minimize the effects of the blockade.”

The cumulative effect of the blockade since 1961 seriously hinders normal economic development in Cuba. The blockade itself resulted from the original genocidal goal to make Cuba bend to its knees and give in to the US empire. Watching Cuban TV during and immediately after Irma, it was clear that the blockade has had a cataclysmic effect on the damage, just as it is having now with the recovery.

Take, for example, construction and infrastructures, where “dilapidated” housing is more likely a direct result of the blockade, which led to $30,868,200 in damages in a single year alone, spanning 2015–2016. One of the main causes of damages was the lack of access to lightweight and efficient construction technologies and energy components, which are available on the US market or are produced by subsidiaries of US-based companies. Could this not be the main cause of the “dilapidated” housing, notwithstanding any Cuban domestic insufficiencies?

This situation requires that we outside of Cuba counter the disinformation campaign against the Cuban Revolution and demand the complete lifting of the blockade, as part of our expression of financial, material and moral solidarity with Cuba.

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Cuba-U.S. Relations

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A review of “Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond” by Arnold August

 

A new book by Canadian journalist and political scientist, Arnold August, has recently been published by Fernwood Publishing (2017) titled “Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond.” The book has a well-written Foreword by eminent Canadian scholar Keith Ellis (“Arnold August brings to the task his finest gift, his superbly developed talent as a journalist.”). Ricardo Alarcon, former permanent representative of Cuba to the United Nations, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Deputy and President at the National Assembly of People’s Power, wrote the Introduction to the book where in his last sentence he writes that Che Guevara’s warning, “never trust imperialism, not one iota,” “remains as relevant as ever.”

There is no doubt that August does not trust imperialism either.

The main focus of the book is an informed assessment of the scope and impact of the historic three-day visit to Cuba by a U.S. president in nearly a century in March 21, 2015 following joint declarations by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro on December 17, 2014 (17D) to re-establish Cuba-U.S. diplomatic relations.

Much of the content presented in the book is based on articles written by the author in recent years, which shows August’s long-standing study, research and foresight about many aspects of Cuba U.S. relations. For example, he condenses six of his previous articles in the first chapter to set the stage for the “historical/political context” going back to the inception of U.S. policy on Cuba. This is a good memory refresher and a clear response to Obama’s much-criticized stance during his visit asking Cubans to forget the long history of constant U.S. intentions to annex the island, and the subversion attempts against the Cuban Revolution.

Throughout the book one gets the feeling that the author writes from a solid Cuban standpoint as someone who has close knowledge of current events in the country and follows its political pulse. This does not make it a biased book, rather a book that gives Cubans a voice that has been silenced by the Western media for almost 60 years. This personal perception is corroborated by a full chapter dedicated to interviews with five Cuban authors and analysts who are active writers and bloggers, and who “contribute one or more specific perspectives” on Cuba-U.S. relations.

From them we hear, for instance, about the “hegemonic status of the U.S.” such that the “asymmetry…is so marked that one cannot speak of a normalcy based on equality between parties.” One cannot speak of “normalization” but rather of “co-existence between opposites.” Another analyst interviewed by August alerts us more explicitly,

Obama is engaging with civil society with a view to identifying the sectors that will come on board with the changes to Cuba policy that he wants to put in place”. He “has a carrot for civil society and a stick for the revolutionary government.”

This is a sentiment fully shared by August.

It is precisely because of this “new” engagement with Cuban civil society and individuals, much more prominent through the wider use of the Internet among Cubans, that the author refers repeatedly to the perceived danger of cultural aggression as the ultimate weapon to undermine the Revolution. The notion of cultural aggression in Cuba is not new but it is much more recognizable now as a serious challenge for Cuba. August writes:

The point of view that refuses to recognize the reality of the cultural war and pretends that it somehow disappeared with the Cold War, or 17D, has now in effect merged into the cultural aggression against Cuba. The cultural war’s long historical antecedents and dangerous wide-ranging shifts in appearances over time do not leave room for neutrality.”

August is clearly not neutral. As a French Canadian he is quite well versed on the threats of a dominant culture. He goes on to write,

The danger is amplified because the defence of the Obama policy increasingly exists both on and off the island, and they rely heavily on each other.”

In addition to the more obvious danger of an incipient “private sector” that could be easily co-opted by the U.S. to undermine the socialist system, August also refers to the subtler World Learning initiative for “leadership” training launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development as moving “from aggression to seduction” of Cuban youth.

It is not a secret that within Cuba there is an ongoing broad debate about the hope for Cuba-U.S. relations. It is evident that August decided to make his book part of that debate and does not shy away from a direct challenge to those Cubans whom he perceives to have “the mindset that assists the U.S. in subtly introducing its new tactics to achieve its same goal of regime change.” This may also be a challenge for the reader.

The book was published before we learned of U.S. President Trump’s much-publicized announcement of “reversal” of Obama’s policies towards Cuba. However, it is still a timely read mostly because Obama’s policy changes were more cosmetic than substantial. While the respective embassies remain open, the small concession for U.S. citizens to be able to travel to Cuba under fewer restrictions is now gone. The bulk of the U.S. blockade on Cuba was never changed and the U.S. occupied territory of Guantanamo has not been returned. Also remains the U.S. government continued goal of regime change in Cuba.

Will this push some Cubans to “miss” Obama’s rhetoric about Cuba? Will it confirm without doubt the long history of Cuba-U.S. relations and help close ranks around socialism?

At this particular time – when Cuba fights back the continued economic challenges, and the ongoing U.S. designs on the island, when Cuba brings about the necessary changes established by the Lineamientos (Guidelines), when Cuba moves towards its new social economic model while preserving the socialist system, and when Cuba is about to experience the first government without the historical leadership of the revolution to take place in 2018 – those of us in the Cuba solidarity movement must be alert but never fail to trust that Cubans are at the frontline of the Cuban Revolution. In order to do that we must support and rally for strong unity while the dialogue and debates will continue on and off the island.


Title: Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond

Author: Arnold August

Publisher: Fernwood Publishing (May 1, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1552669653

ISBN-13: 978-1552669655

Click here to order.

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Nicolas Maduro Pays Homage to Fidel in Visit to Cuba

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  • Cuban President Raul Castro Ruiz walked with the Bolivarian administrator, touring the Santa Ifigenia’s expansive grounds.
    Cuban President Raul Castro Ruiz walked with the Bolivarian administrator, touring the Santa Ifigenia’s expansive grounds. | Photo: Efe
Maduro arrived just days after the renowned leader would have celebrated his 91st  birthday.

The birth of the late, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro was commemorated Tuesday in a ceremony lead by Cuban President Raul Castro Ruiz and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.

RELATED: Venezuela Can Give US ‘Free and Fair Elections’ Lessons!

Maduro arrived just days after the renowned leader would have celebrated his 91st birthday.

With flowers adorning the mausoleum, the event began with a ceremonial change of the honor guard, then with the procession of foreign diplomats placing white roses before the giant granite stone that holds Fidel’s urn.

Maduro emphasized that he could not miss the tribute to Fidel since he had always been at the side of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Venezuelan First Combatant Cilia Flores accompanied the heads of state in their tribute, which honored national hero Jose Marti, as well as Frank Pais Gracia, an army general who together with his brother lost his life during Batista’s dictatorship.

The group also paid homage to the revolutionaries who gave their lives on July 26, 1953, during an attack on the Moncada army barracks.

In a brief tour of Santa Ifigenia, Raul spoke to Maduro about Cuban history; explained why Carlos Manuel de Cespedes is considered the “Father of the Homeland”; recalled Mariana Grajales and Maria Cabrales, mother and widow of General Antonio Maceo, respectively; and talked about some of the officers of from the War of Independence.

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Cuba Has Treated Over 26,000 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Victims

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Image result for Chernobyl CARTOON
teleSUR 

Since 1990, Cuban medics have treated over 26,000 victims of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, scientific network Scielo reported in a recent study.

The areas of treatment, according to Scielo, were primarily focused on dermatology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

The report detailed that 84 percent of the total number of patients treated were children from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. The majority of people were treated in 1991, when Cuban medics attended to 1,415 patients.

Over 1,000 children received medical treatment annually from 1990 to 1995.

With its main treatment area located on Tarara beach, east of Havana, the main objective of the program was to provide comfortable lodging facilities and an overall healthy environment, where patients could be treated and partake in a rehabilitation plan.

Apart from medical facilities, the locale included schools, a cooking center, a theater, parks and recreation areas.

After 21 years of solidarity treatment, all free of charge, the medical program came to an end in 2011.

In the early hours of April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

More than 600,000 Soviet civilian and military personnel were drafted from across the country as liquidators to clean-up and contain the nuclear fallout.

Over 30 plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.

Over the past three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

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Inclusive development and responsible leadership are Fidel Castro’s legacy to Africa

NOVANEWS
Betrayal of the liberation struggle by post-independent regimes and elites in many African countries is the reason I am making a clarion call to civil society, in particular my contemporaries, the youth, and the electorate to reconceptualise their thoughts about state governance and leadership. Corruption, cronyism, looting of the national purse, state capture and service delivery strikes are a stark reminder of this reality.
It was Benjamin Disraeli who said: “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example”. Fidel Castro’s legacy to the world mirrors this quotation accurately.
The death of Fidel Castro, a global iconic leader, should exhort us to think strategically about transformatory leadership for social inclusion. Given the gross inequalities and inequities that are spawned by poor governance and leadership, it is imperative that we promote social inclusion in our development narrative.
 Against all odds, it was Fidel Castro who through responsible leadership was able to oppose  the bastion of the capitalist world, the USA, and establish an inclusive development agenda for his small island state called Cuba.
It was his brand of inclusive development through a system of rewards and punishments that brought about a reversal in the rural-urban migration process. No mean feat. Rural-urban migration, currently, is the cause of major problems in emerging economies of the world, including Africa. Because of a lack of development and extreme poverty, globally thousands of families migrate from rural areas to urban areas on a daily basis in the hope of seeking out decent livelihoods. These rural migrants compound the problems and challenges of urban areas because they neither have the necessary skills nor the financial means to live in an urban economy and become a burden on the local state when they seek shelter and other necessities to sustain life.
It was Fidel Castro’s leadership which saw Cuba have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. His meme of ‘each one, teach one’ is now well known throughout the world for inclusive development. Cuba also has one of the best primary health care systems in the world.
The question that goes begging for an answer is: how did Cuba achieve such commendable milestones in its development agenda, especially given that it was a relatively poor island state? It was inclusive development through responsible leadership that assisted Cuba to reach such hights in the global drama of social ascendency.
A socially inclusive development paradigm is one that over-rides differences of race, gender, class, generation, and geography, and ensures inclusion, equality of opportunity for all members of the society to determine an agreed set of social institutions that govern social interaction. It is, in essence, a society for all in which every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role to play.
 Although many African countries have made great strides in terms of economic development in the past few decades, they seem to be lagging behind in terms of building inclusive societies. There is a growing chasm between haves and have-nots and poverty seems to be rising at an alarming rate. We are already beginning to see the negative fallouts of this widening gap, and the daily occurrences of political protests or service delivery strikes, are some of these exemplars.
Mo Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation –an organisation that pronounces on the issue of governance in Africa – has repeatedly been making similar requests to both the public and private sectors to go beyond the interstices of the codes and rules of good governance. He has warned that whilst we may have good governance policies in terms of rules and regulations, in practice, they could mean very little, particularly when they have an insignificant impact on the socio-economic upliftment of the majority of society. He pleads for responsible leadership for inclusive economic growth.
When one considers the current state of decay in government leadership, it would do us good if we begin to contemplate the future trajectory of Africa’s development. In this respect, it is the youth and our higher education institutions that we need to refocus our attention on. The participation of youth through critical training in responsible leadership will help our African nations transform into a truly inclusive society. As countries emerging from a serious crisis of poor governance and leadership, we need to epitomize the role of selfless leaders such as Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
We need to encourage our youth to participate in building the nation and working towards bringing about social inclusion. In this regard, our education system has to empower for an uplifting effect on the growth of our countries. These issues relating to the provisioning of quality and empowering education have to be funnelled down to understanding the role of higher education institutions in bringing about a transformation in society. Consequently, curriculum transformation has to be the basis to empower our youth to realise their role in broader society.
 A body of skilled people in leadership in any society can have a powerful positive impact on development of that society. The new responsible leadership cadre must have the responsibility to use their skills, talents and capabilities to create an impact on the socio-political issues being faced by their fellow citizens. The current socio-economic conditions require these new leadership pathfinders to create building blocks for achieving inclusiveness in society. The new development narrative cannot be as usual.
Gross inequalities, poverty and poor governance are imposing challenges in the creation of an inclusive society. It deprives people from even the basic needs of food and shelter and thereby leads them to being marginalised to the backwaters of society. Innovative and responsible leadership can assist the majority of the unemployed youth to become the masters of their own destiny by empowering them with entrepreneurial opportunities. Remember Cuba’s meme of ‘each one, teach one’.
As a nation, sincerely seeking to break out of its quagmire of negative governance and poor leadership, we need to engage in collective action to make sure that we identify and create strategies and programmes that will have an impact on the critical socio-economic and political problems and challenges and make a positive contribution towards shaping an inclusive society. We owe it to those who sacrificed for our liberty and the memories of iconic struggle heroes of the Fidel Castro kind.
Finally, let’s heed the imploratory remarks of another struggle icon, Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

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Namibia conference affirms Africa-Cuba solidarity

NOVANEWS
Legacy of cooperation against colonialism and imperialism continues
Abayomi Azikiwe

Close bonds between the people of the African continent and the Caribbean island-nation of Cuba have been centuries in the making.

Africans caught in the Atlantic Slave Trade were taken to Cuba where their presence made an indelible mark on the character of the political, economic and cultural fabric of the country.

Since the 1960s, in the early aftermath of the 1959 seizure of power by revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others, African independence and transformative struggles have constituted a major factor in Cuban foreign policy. President Castro noted in 1976 that socialist Cuba was populated by a Latin African people opposed to colonialism, racism and imperialism.

This historical tradition was reinforced at a recent conference held in Windhoek, Namibia, which brought together African leaders and Cuban governmental officials to renew ties among the geo-political regions and to chart a way forward in the current period. The Fifth Continental African Conference of Solidarity with Cuba was convened June 6-8 and brought together over 200 delegates from 26 African states under the theme of “Intensifying Solidarity and Continuing the Legacy of Fidel and Che.”

The first of these conferences was held in South Africa in 1995 just one year after the demise of the racist-apartheid system that brought President Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) to power. Subsequent gatherings took place in Ghana during 1997, Angola in 2010 and Ethiopia, the headquarters of the African Union (AU), in 2012.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Che Guevara in Bolivia while he was in the South American country assisting revolutionary forces fighting against the neo-colonial regime which was supported by the United States. The Cuban Revolution from its inception posed a challenge to American imperialist dominance over the Caribbean, South America and other colonial and neo-colonial territories around the world.

In November 2016, 90-year old former President Fidel Castro passed away in Havana. His funeral was attended by many African leaders including Namibian President Hage Geingob who paid tribute to the revolutionary leader in an address to the mourners.

In a statement to the Conference, Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah emphasized that: “The holding of this conference is all the more timely because it is taking place when retrogressive forces are bent on reversing the gains made recently to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.” Under the previous U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba after a breach of over 50 years raised expectations of a possible lifting of the economic blockade imposed by Washington in October 1960.

Without the abolition of the blockade relations cannot be fully normalized despite the exchange of diplomats and the reopening of embassies. The U.S. Congress would have to approve the liquidation of the blockade and there are political elements within the legislature which categorically oppose full economic and trade relations with Havana.

Nonetheless, the Fifth Continental African Conference supported the address by Namibian President Hage Geingob who said: “We applaud the positive development in this respect and we commend the U.S. government and Cuba for their efforts towards normalizing of ties. However, there is still much ground left to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the blockage against Cuba.”

Geingob emphasized the urgency of the conference to develop a unified African strategy in regard to supporting Cuba. In addition, the delegates passed resolutions demanding the return of Guantanamo Bay, which remains over a century later after the so-called Spanish-American war under U.S. control, to the Cuban people.

A co-founder of the ruling Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) Party, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, who passed away just days after the conference, noted that: “Historically, Cuba assisted African countries in the fight against foreign domination. Through this patriotic support, Cuban people have shown us the meaning of solidarity, hence (we should show) our support for Cuba.”

Final Declaration calls for continuing solidarity

African leaders viewed the current situation involving the status of U.S.-Cuban relations as being critical in light of the political character of the administration in Washington. President Donald Trump does have the prerogative of reversing the reforms instituted by his predecessor.

Therefore, the Conference stressed as a mandate for future actions to “continue developing and strengthening the Cuba solidarity movement in each one of our countries, struggling for unity and truth…. We demand that Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty, as well as its right to decide the political system of its choice, be respected.”(Granma International, June 7)

Moreover, the struggle to maintain and enhance the independence and sovereignty of Cuba is linked with other countries within the region. In recognizing this reality the conference expanded its scope to encompass other states which have also been under pressure from successive U.S. administrations.

The final declaration pledged support to “the causes of all sister countries struggling for a better world. In particular, we pledge our support to Puerto Rico in its struggle for self-determination, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the people of Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina, and all peoples of the continent defending their sovereignty.”

In attendance as well from Cuba were Fernado González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and Cuban Ambassador in Namibia, Giraldo Mazola.

Historical tradition of solidarity

In 1961 in the aftermath of the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, Cuban Minister of Economic Planning Che Guevara spoke out strongly in condemnation of the murderous act which was carried out by the U.S., Belgium and other imperialist states utilizing local surrogates. Che during 1965 toured Africa in an effort to build solidarity and make preparations for Cuban internationalists intervention in Congo aimed at supporting the revolutionary forces fighting for the ideals of Lumumba.

Although this mission was not successful, the experience taught profound lessons which laid the foundation for the deployment of Cuban military units a decade later in Angola in defense of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) beginning in October 1975. President Fidel Castro was requested to send support by Angolan President Agostino Neto in the face of an invasion by the South African Defense Forces (SADF), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the surrogate U.S.-backed UNITA and FNLA rebel groups designed to derail the genuine independence of the oil-rich former Portuguese colony.

Cuban Internationalists spent another 13 years in Angola where they assisted in defeating the SADF in a series of battles around Cuito Cuanavale in 1988. After the humiliating losses by the SADF, negotiations began which resulted in the liberation of Namibia, the release of South African political prisoners in 1990 and the transition to non-racial democratic rule in the citadel of apartheid settler-colonialism by 1994.

In recent years, Cuba has educated thousands of African students in universities in the Caribbean socialist state. These students are provided with free tuition and lodging.

During the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) pandemic of 2014, Cuba deployed hundreds of physicians and other healthcare workers to Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the hardest hit West African states, which was instrumental in turning the tide in efforts to halt and eradicate the crisis. The U.S. was forced to recognize the role of Cuba in the battle against EVD which paved the way for the reopening of diplomatic relations.

Outside of the conference deliberations in Windhoek, the delegates visited historic sites including Heroes Acre and the Museum of Independence on June 7. The participants decided in its conclusion that the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be the venue of the next Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba.

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World Peace Councils Slams US Interventionism in Cuba

NOVANEWS
  • A mural in Cuba.
    A mural in Cuba. | Photo: Reuters

    Trump’s policies denounced as “unfounded and hypocritical accusations against Cuban democracy.”

The World Peace Council (WPC) has strongly rejected the U.S. President Donald Trump’s rollback of normalizing relations with Cuba.

RELATED:  ‘Doomed to Fail’: Cuba Responds to Trump’s Policy Reversal

In a statement published on Monday, the WPC called interventionist actions by the United States as “attempts to frustrate the progress of the Cuban Revolution and isolate the nation through a criminal blockade imposed for over five decades.”

They also slammed the reasoning behind the rollback as “typical of a failed and outdated policy, of unfounded and hypocritical accusations against Cuban democracy.”

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denounces U.S. interventionism in
It demands an end to interventionist actions by the US against Cuba

In addition, the Council also recalled the long history of aggression by Washington in Latin America, stressing that all nations have a right to self-determination and sovereignty, “given signs that domestic destabilization policies are set to intensify.”

The WPC, affiliated with the United Nations, is an international organization founded in 1950 that advocates for universal disarmament, sovereignty and anti-imperialism.

Earlier this month, at the 23rd Brazilian Convention of Solidarity with Cuba, WPC President Socorro Gomes cited the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro as “eternal as his humanism”.

RELATED:  Russia Affirms Solidarity with Cuba, Laments US ‘Cold War’ Rhetoric

She also stated that Castro’s legacy is a “major reference” for the WPC.

Trump’s rollbacks, announced earlier this month, include the continuation of the economic blockade, tightening of restrictions on business with companies linked to authorities in Havana, as well as prohibiting “people to people” travel to Cuba.

Other changes announced by the White House include the possibility of auditing all U.S. citizens who visit Cuba to ensure that they have not violated the sanctions policy.

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US Actor Danny Glover Blasts Trump’s ‘Obsolete’ Anti-Cuba Policies

NOVANEWS
  • Danny Glover speaking at a rally in support of the "Cuban 5".
    Danny Glover speaking at a rally in support of the “Cuban 5”. | Photo: EFE

Glover has been an outspoken supporter of the Cuban Revolution as well as other progressive governments in Latin American.

U.S. actor Danny Glover has backed the statement from the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) against U.S. President Donald Trump’s rollback of normalizing relations with Cuba.

RELATED:  Russia Affirms Solidarity with Cuba, Laments US ‘Cold War’ Rhetoric

The Cuban organization sent its message to writers, artists and academics earlier this month, with the document having been signed by more than 800 people from 35 countries thus far.

The organization denounced Trump’s policies, as well as his speech that announced the changes as “antiquated, obsolete, loaded with falseness and stereotypes.”

Danny Glover being presented the Friendship Medal from the Cuban State Council.

Glover has a history of supporting Latin American revolutionaries from late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Cuba’s Argentine hero, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

For his support of the Cuban revolution, that fomented his close relations with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Glover was presented the Friendship Medal from the Cuban State Council just this past January.

On that trip to the island to receive his award, Glover paid tribute to both Castro and Jose Marti, describing “Marti as the most universal of all Cubans and Fidel as a great revolutionary.”

RELATED:  Iran Slams ‘Useless’ US Blockade Policy, Stands with Cuba

He had also expressed admiration for Cuba’s internationalist efforts in Africa.

Trump’s recent rollbacks include the continuation of the economic blockade on Cuba, tightening of restrictions on business with companies linked to authorities in Havana, as well as prohibiting “people to people” travel to Cuba.

Other changes announced by the White House include the possibility of auditing all U.S. citizens who visit Cuba to ensure that they have not violated the sanctions policy.

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