Tag Archive | "Cuba"

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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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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Most Important Battle Is Beating Demoralization


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  • Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez.
    Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez. | Photo: Reuters
A conversation with the Cuban minister of culture reminds us, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

The great battle underway today on a global level is taking place in the minds of each and every one of us, rather than in specific physical locations. Revolutionaries, warriors of ideas, are not lacking; but the forces are dispersed in the face of a powerful, compact bloc of mass media which looks to turn human beings into captives of their emotions, disconnected from their ability to think.

ANALYSIS3 Tactics Mainstream Media Uses to Attack Hugo Chavez’s Legacy

It is no coincidence that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a communication revolution in November 2016, one that includes traditional media, social networks, streets, and walls, inviting us to assume the intense, necessary task of progressive thinking.

It was precisely this urgent work which was discussed by the Network of Intellectuals, Artists, and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity during its 15th summit held March 6-7 in Caracas, with more than 60 thinkers from Venezuela and other countries in attendance titled, “Emancipatory Communication or Colonized homelands.”

Just minutes prior to the meeting’s second day, Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez dedicated a few minutes to a dialogue, speaking of the times in which we live, insisting on the importance of the fight for critical, revolutionary thinking, saying, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

Alina Perera Robbio: You have commented during this meeting that the left has not constructed a paradigm, in terms of communication, which could provide an alternative in the face of right-wing media hegemony. Would you share some reflections on this issue?

Abel Prieto Jimenez: Intellectuals from Venezuela and other countries have spoken here about this traditional weak point of the left, in the sense of being able to create a kind of paradigm, in terms of communication, that could be effective in the face of the lying, defamatory machine — to which we could add any number of adjectives — but which is undoubtedly effective in domesticating consciousness, dampening critical thinking, imposing on the people, for example, candidates who offer villas and castles, but later betray them.

That’s why we see everyday people voting against their own interests, everyday people voting against their country’s future, against conquests won. These are chilling things that are related to the world in which we live today, in which a few media corporations control everything.

There has been talk during this workshop of the role of social networks, of how even in electoral processes, those targeted for messages are very clearly defined, based on the great database these social networks provide, from which psychological profiles are created and different messages crafted for each one of these persons. That is to say, this is where the machinery of manipulation and trickery is, an issue that has been constantly raised in discussions within the Network in Defense of Humanity.

I recalled a panel that was held at the Cuartel de la Montaña, in December 2004, when Chavez called on us to take the offensive, and he called on us to create a breach in the media wall. From that discussion, the idea emerged for teleSUR, which has had so much success and been so important. Since that era, we have been talking about the machinery of manipulation. But I would say that today, the concentration of the media, the use of people’s unconscious reflexes, has grown to an almost Orwellian level — thinking about that famous book of George Orwell, “1984,” in which he talks of a policed world. We are facing a tremendous challenge and most important are trying to create this new paradigm, which must be participatory, because it must be the revolutionary people, using social networks, who resist being hypnotized, being driven like a herd from one place to another. And at the same time, we must be able to generate content. We must be critical with respect to the system, and at the same time proactive.

Perera Robbio: Circumstances have changed dramatically since 2004. The difficulties, as you say, have increased.

Prieto Jimenez: Fidel, Chavez founded so many extraordinary things. Then Evo (Morales), (Rafael) Correa, Daniel (Ortega), ALBA joined in. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) was defeated in Mar del Plata (Argentina) — a truly glorious moment for the left in our America. Nestor Kirchner participated in the defeat of the FTAA and later so did Cristina (Fernandez). It was a significant moment. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party was in power; it was a time that really awakened many hopes, that made Latin America a pole.

We see now how there is talk of a pendulum. One of the most sinister things one can do is accept the idea that there was a pendulum swing toward the left, and now a swing to the reactionary right is coming. It’s crazy because history does not move by way of pendulum swings. History is made by men, women, the people, and I think what is most important is to put an end to the demoralization, the discouragement, the worry among progressive forces — stop the idea that what is happening now is fate, that neoliberal ideas can survive another ten years, instead of going to the ideas of Bolivar, Jose Martí, of Fidel, Chavez, of the Cuban Revolution and the Latin American Revolution.

Everything that happens is inevitably affected by our ability to communicate in an effective manner, in a serious, profound manner.

RELATED:  ‘#IDon’tBelieve YouLasso’ Bashes Ecuador’s Right-Wing Candidate

Perera Robbio: How can the left meet this challenge, continue the struggle, not be discouraged?

Prieto Jimenez: Participants in this 15th Network meeting unanimously concur on the need to leave here with an agreement on concrete steps, an action plan.

One of the tasks the Network could undertake is linking the nuclei of cultural resistance, the alternative media, radio, the work of digital guerillas in social networks. There are many people who have not allowed themselves to be defeated and are fighting for liberation, against the neoliberal offensive, but they are not linked up.

I think the Network must take on the task of attempting to link these forces, so that people understand we are facing a global struggle, and that the little wars at a local level are not going to resolve the problem, even though victories may be won at this local level.

The idea of ethical monitoring of the media is important. During this workshop, one participant spoke about the slander of Fidel that appeared in Forbes magazine, according to which the leader of the Cuban Revolution had amassed a huge fortune, and was among the richest leaders in the world. I told this speaker that Fidel said something tremendous on Cuban television, in front of many compañeros, saying that if they showed him just one scrap of evidence, he would resign immediately. This reply was never published by Forbes.

The mass media lies, and if there is a reply, they never accept the fact that they lied, and the lie continues floating about. It’s Goebbels’ theory: repeat and repeat a lie until it becomes true. This is the philosophy of all the mass media at this time.

There has been talk in this forum about what Venezuela (mass media) did with the guarimbas (violent street protests), of how they circulated pictures of acts of violence, of throat slashings, of beatings which never occurred and were attributed to the police and the Bolivarian government, supposedly taking place during confrontations with opposition demonstrators. That is to say, they are constantly disseminating slanderous lies. Well, there is talk of post-truth politics, of totally invented events meant to create destabilization, which suddenly go viral on social networks, so people believe them.

The situation is terrible. The mass media has trained a massive group of people, mostly young who are very aware of what is going on, of what is moving around the web, and who are very credulous. That is why I believe that the other thing we need to do is to promote the critical study of these communications phenomena, especially among adolescents.

The use of intelligence must be promoted. Let us recall what Fidel said many times: They want to dismantle our ability to think. This is the great project: that the people don’t think; that the people don’t critically examine the lies that are everywhere.

Something else which has been discussed during these hours is that which is customarily referred to as the training of young cadres, revolutionary cadres. In this regard, the issue of new technologies must be included, the necessity of knowing how to use them, the issue of the battle of ideas on social networks.

During these times, we can ask a question: Are we going to allow the thinking of Fidel, allow generations in Cuba and Latin America, to be seen as something archaeological, something of the past? Are Venezuelans going to let the thinking of Chavez be put away in a museum, as something that happened but has no relevance? I think this depends a great deal on us.

 

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Cuba Honors Literary Legend Gabriel Garcia Marquez with Statue


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  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez Statue in Havana, Cuba at the International Book Fair.
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez Statue in Havana, Cuba at the International Book Fair. | Photo: Reuters
The Colombian Nobel prize winner in Literature will be remembered in Cuba, one of his favorite destinations.

A statue to honor Colombian writer and Literature Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be unveiled in Havana, Cuba on Thursday to remember his literary work and legacy for Latin American writers.

RELATED: How Fidel and Gabriel Garcia Marquez Changed Cinema Forever

Cuban artist Jose Villa Soberon was commissioned to make the sculpture to be placed in the Museum of the Caribbean in Barranquilla. The current Colombian ambassador to Cuba, Gustavo Bell, insisted on also installing a copy in Havana, a city visited many times by the author.

Villa Soberon said that he only accepts work that he connects with, and this one caught his attention. The artist is also working on a sculpture of Cuban ballet dancer Alicia Alonso.

Some of Villa Soberon’s most famous works include a monument to John Lennon in a park in Havana, a sculpture of Ernest Hemingway located in the restaurant El Floridita in Havana and a Benny More figure on Paseo del Prado in Cienfuegos.

The garden of the Art and Literature Institute of Havana in the historical center of the city will hold the sculpture, which is inspired by the moment when the writer attended the Nobel Literature prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden in 1982.

RELATED: Cuban Film Festival to Open, Will Pay Tribute to Fidel

The statue of Garcia Marquez is wearing a liquiliqui, a traditional suit from South America, in the region between Venezuela and Colombia, and holding books and a yellow flower.

According to Villa Soberon, the 26th International Book Fair, celebrated in the Cuban capital from Feb. 9 until Feb. 19, provides the appropriate framework to inaugurate the piece.

He says it pays homage to Garcia Marquez on the 90th anniversary of his birth and 50 years after the publication of his masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

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Cuba and US Hold Cold War Compensation Meetings


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  • A man rides a homemade bike with an advertising banner in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2016.
    A man rides a homemade bike with an advertising banner in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Cuba has said that the blockade has cost the island nation US$125.9 billion.

Representatives of Cuba and the United States held a meeting Thursday to discuss mutual economic compensation over assets lost as a result of Washington’s decades-long blockade and the Cuban Revolution, an ongoing thorny issue since both nations restored diplomatic relations in July 2015.

RELATED: Why the US Immigration Policy Toward Cuba Had to Go

Washington seeks compensation for its assets seized during the Cuban revolution while Havana expects to receive something in return for the damage caused by the U.S. economic blockade on the island, which is still in force after more than a half-century.

The Cuban delegation reiterated that it is essential to consider the claims of the Cuban people for human and economic damages. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in September 2016 said the total cost of the blockade had been of US$125.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Washington said around 6,000 U.S. citizens and companies have reparation claims on Cuba with a total value of US$1.9 billion assets lost after the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959.

However, these demands have been adjusted to current prices to reach almost US$8 billion, including an annual interest rate of 6 percent.

RELATED: Cuba-US: Obama to End ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Policy

Two previous meetings on the same issue proved fruitless. The first was held in Havana in Dec. 2015 and the other in Washington in July 2016, diplomatic sources said.

The new meeting follows President Barack Obama’s decision to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, a longstanding immigration policy that extends automatic residency to Cubans arriving in the country without visas.

The moves come with only days left in Obama’s presidency and increasing uncertainty over how a Trump administration might move forward with the U.S. relationship with Cuba.

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The End of Ideology in Cuba?


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cuba-usa

In 1960, the American sociologist and academic Daniel Bell (1919–2011) published The End of Ideology. It became a classic book in official political science. The publication was listed by Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most influential non-fiction books in the second half of the 20th century. While there were other “end of ideologies” in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bell’s is considered the most authoritative. The many varieties that emerged from this school of thought have a common denominator. While not oversimplifying this important trend, for the purposes of this article one can say that it surfaced out of the perceived failures of both socialism in the former U.S.S.R. and capitalism in the West. It was born out of opposition to “extremism.”

In November 1968, along with other political science students at McGill University in Montreal, I founded the Political Science Students Association. It organized a strike around two basic demands. The first was student participation on faculty hiring committees; the second, linked to this potential student empowerment, demanded a more inclusive faculty and curriculum. This would include writings other than by Daniel Bell (who, of course, was considered mandatory reading and enjoyed uncontested reference in political science), progressive social scientists and the works of Marx and Lenin. These were all excluded at the time. After a 10-day occupation and strike, the students’ demands were finally met by the university.

Bell was blind to the inevitable uprisings that were about to take place in the U.S. among African-Americans shortly after his best-seller rolled off the press. These progressive struggles, like those of the Native peoples, who also revolted, have their origins in the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1960s, American students were also attracted to alternative ideologies and politics. In fact, the youth movement was omnipresent throughout North America and much of Europe. While this inclination in the 1960s was characterized by different left-wing political and ideological features, and experienced its ups and downs, it was the death knell for the End of Ideology hypothesis. However, Bell’s heritage keeps coming back to haunt us.

In Cuba, in the last year or so, there has been a steady increase in the End of Ideology code words and buzz phrases emitted by some marginal Cuban bloggers and intellectuals. They were timid at first but became increasingly bold. To mention just a few: complaining of what they see as a “sterile dichotomy between socialism and capitalism”; advising Cuban revolutionaries to be “balanced and more profound in offering their criticism” of U.S. imperialism; opposing what they consider the extremist “Fidelista” and “anti-Castro” positions, placing both on the same footing; labelling those who are Marxist-Leninist or Fidelista as “extremists” or “fanatics”; writing about “two major fallacies of what it means to be a revolutionary in Cuba, from the left and right,” both being based on “exclusive dogma”; and, finally, asserting that “life is much more profound than even ideology.”

Reading these pieces, my university days back in 1968 kept piercing through my thought process. How was it possible that we opposed the End of Ideology in the heart of capitalism yet now it rears its head in Cuba, of all places? One can argue that the opposition in Cuba is coming from the “left,” that is, from those who claim that they support the Revolution. Well, where else can it emerge if not from the so-called left? This is Cuba. Let us not forget that Bell had identified as a leftist. His opposition to ideology was ostensibly from the leftist outlook and not the right. This, after all, was how he won his credibility and credentials. Bell became disillusioned with socialism. He could not see an alternative so he decided to wage a struggle against both capitalism and socialism. His work is a reflection of his own personal/political predicament. Objectively, however, this so-called neutrality against extremes consists in throwing a life jacket in support of capitalism. It is no accident that he is so appreciated by the ruling elites of the West.

I have always maintained that the most dangerous opposition to the Cuban Revolution comes from the so-called left, and not from the openly right Plattists, or annexationists. It is a cancer in Cuban society that, if left to grow without sharp ideological resistance, can influence the most naive, especially among youth, intellectuals and artists.

When Bell wrote his essays in the late 1950s, which were eventually compiled in his 1960 volume, Cuba was the scene of the most glaring refutation in the world of his theory: the 1953 Moncada attack, its ensuing program and the Triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959. Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement initiated in embryonic form the road toward a new Marxist-Leninist revolutionary ideology for Cuba. Far from being a period characterized by the end of ideology, Cuba provided the world with a resurgence of – and confidence in – the need for ideology. It represented the end of the End of Ideology. The Cuban Revolution erupted at the height of the Cold War yet it dug in its heels against any intimidation from the left or from imperialism. It did not represent the politically correct action and thinking at the time, not of the left and even less so of the right. Thus, in the initial period, Fidel had the acumen to not reveal the entire scenario. However, ideology was at the centre of the action and spirit.

Since 1953, Cuba has been and continues to be the quintessence of cultivating ideological principles. Every written and spoken word of Fidel is impregnated with ideology. It is not stagnant; on the contrary, it is continuously evolving according to the context. Otherwise, Cuba would not have been able to outlast its enemies all this time.

I am convinced that one of the main implicit objectives of the international corporate media campaign against the persona of Fidel right after his passing was imperialism’s revenge against him for not capitulating on ideology. Why, they may ask in frustration, did the Cuban Revolution never buy into the End of Ideology? It should have, according to official political science. Yet, after all these years, from July 26, 1953 to November 25, 2016, Fidel lived and died as he asked of others: a humble revolutionary.

In this historical context today, to try to impregnate Cuban political culture with “neutrality” on ideology, opposition to “extremes,” “equidistance” between socialism and capitalism, and so forth does not constitute a challenge to dogmatism of the left as it tries to portray itself. The real defiance is against socialism and Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the 1960s, Bell’s theory appealed to the ruling circles, who wanted to preserve the status quo. The elites were in power. They were not in any danger of being dislodged by their own capitalism! The End of Ideology critique of capitalism was then just a convenient cover for the critique of socialism. At McGill, in 1968, that was the main argument of the conservative faculty and administration. They were supposedly not in favour or against any ideology. All political options were welcome, but Bell was more welcome. He was supposedly against capitalism and socialism. However, those who favoured the capitalist status quo relied on the End of Ideology. Those who opposed the “extreme” ideology of the left were fully merged with the capitalist ideology, serving to propagate and elaborate it. The purpose of the End of Ideology, in the 1960s and now in Cuba, is to put an end to Marxist-Leninist and socialist ideology.

Source: Prensa Latina

http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=7822&SEO=the-end-of-ideology-in-cuba

Posted in CUBAComments Off on The End of Ideology in Cuba?

Cuba Marks 60 Years Since Late Fidel Castro Sparked Revolution


NOVANEWS
  • An image of late Cuban President Fidel Castro hangs on a building as a replica of the Granma yacht passes by during a march in Havana, Jan. 2, 2017.
    An image of late Cuban President Fidel Castro hangs on a building as a replica of the Granma yacht passes by during a march in Havana, Jan. 2, 2017. | Photo: Reuters.
On Jan. 1, 1959, Fidel Castro and his troops claimed victory for the Cuban Revolution after the fall of the Batista dictatorship.

Cuba celebrated 60 years Monday since the launch of its revolution in 1956, the first anniversary without late former president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, with a military parade and march of hundreds of thousands of citizens in Havana’s iconic Revolution Square.

ANALYSIS: After Fidel, What to Watch Out For in Cuba in 2017

The Cuban military, workers, students, children and youth joined in the events, one day after the country commemorated the anniversary of the occasion when Fidel Castro claimed victory for the Cuban revolution on Jan. 1, 1959, after dictator Fulgencio Batista fled Havana.

The march brought together a range of symbols representing Cuba’s long struggle for independence and sovereignty, beginning with a cavalry parade to represent the liberation struggle against Spanish colonization.

Another part of the parade featured a replica of the Granma yacht — on which Fidel and his revolutionary troops sailed to Cuba from Mexico in 1956 to launch the uprising against the Batista regime — symbolically “floating” on a sea of Cuban children adorned with blue. The island marked 60 years in 2016 since Granma arrived on Cuba’s shores on Dec. 2, 1956 with Fidel and Raul Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and other revolutionary troops onboard.

Cuba holds the military and civilian parade every five years on Dec. 2 to celebrate the anniversary of the Granma landing, but this year it was postponed to observe nine days of national mourning after Fidel Castro’s death on Nov. 25 at the age of 90.

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Cuban soldiers, workers, students and crowds of other supporters followed in the march amid chants of “We are all Fidel, Fidel is the people!” and “Revolution is building!”

The day of anniversary celebrations in Havana’s Revolution Square comes just weeks after tens of thousands of Cubans filled the plaza to pay their last respects Fidel Castro, before his ashes departed for a cross-country tour to be interred Dec. 4 alongside independence leader Jose Marti and other national heroes in Santiago de Cuba.

The anniversary of the revolution also comes just weeks ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, whose win in the Nov. 12 elections has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba ties, in progress for the past two years.

During Monday morning’s events, youth leader Jennifer Bello, a member of Cuba’s Council of State and president of the University Student Federation, recognized the strength of the Cuban people in driving forward both revolutionary struggle and the thawing of ties with the U.S.

“Cuba is not going to give up a single one of its principles,” she said, according to Cuba Debate.

“We would not have reached this process without the resistance of the Cuban people,” she added, referring to the progress toward normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

After negotiations, on Dec. 17, 2014, Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to re-establish long-frozen relations between the two countries. In July 2015, the countries reopened their foreign embassies in Havana and Washington after more than half a century, and in March 2016, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928.

OPINION: The World Must Learn From Cuba

These and other developments, including the launch of commercial flights from the U.S. mainland to Cuba and several other historic changes, have marked landmark reforms in U.S. policy toward Cuba and bilateral ties between the two nations.

However, Cuba maintains that the normalization of ties will not be complete until the United States lifts the financial, commercial and economic blockade against the island, closes down the U.S. military base at Guantanamo and commits to fully respecting Cuban sovereignty.

But Trump has demonstrated hostility toward Cuba and rejected the thawing of ties, claiming that the normalization process should be scrapped unless Havana agrees to a better “deal.”

Despite the many changes — combined with uncertainty under a Trump White House — Raul Castro has reaffirmed that the socialist country will never head toward capitalism.

Posted in CUBAComments Off on Cuba Marks 60 Years Since Late Fidel Castro Sparked Revolution


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