Thursday, October 12, 2017



OCTOBER 6, 2017

Consider this. The United States government doesn’t know who’s responsible for the so-called acoustic attacks on its embassy personnel in Havana. Then consider this. Cuban president Raúl Castro didn’t simply claim his government had nothing to do with the incidents, he did the unthinkable and invited the FBI to investigate. FBI agents haven’t been able to figure it out. Neither have American acoustics specialists or medical experts. Even Canada’s Mounties, whose own diplomats reported similar attacks, are stymied.
Despite the fact no one has identified either culprit or cause, the Trump administration is pre-emptively creating conflict with Havana. Why? And who benefits from that?
On October 3, the State Department announced it was expelling two-thirds of Cuba’s Washington embassy personnel, less than a week after it announced it was withdrawing sixty per cent of its own diplomats from Havana, and warning Americans against traveling there. The department called the moves “reciprocity,” but didn’t explain for what, since the Cubans haven’t expelled anyone.
The State Department insists it isn’t blaming the Cuban government for the attacks; it’s simply trying to protect American diplomats and tourists. Ironically, the U.S. Foreign Service Association, representing American diplomats around the world, opposes Washington’s directive. So do travel companies and airlines ferrying eager American visitors to the island in increasing numbers. So presumably do Americans generally, the majority of whom support improving relations with Cuba. While over 600,000 Americans visited Cuba last year, it’s worth noting not one has so far complained of symptoms similar to those reported by the diplomats.

Some context may be useful here. Late last year, U.S. diplomats in Havana began reporting hearing loud grinding, ringing noises inside areas of their homes and experienced the sensation that their bodies were vibrating. They claimed to suffer nausea, headaches and hearing loss. U.S. government officials now say some have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries. Twenty-one American and at least five Canadians diplomats and/or their families have been affected.

In the absence of evidence about who did what and why, media have been rife with speculation. At first, the most popular assumption was that the Cuban government must be targeting these diplomats. This is now considered unlikely, since the first of the so-called attacks occurred at a time when bilateral relations were beginning to improve, and Cuban president Raúl Castro has consistently favored improving relations with the United States.
Likewise, given that Canada and Cuba have traditionally maintained solid ties, there would have been little advantage for the Cubans in rocking that diplomatic boat.
That led to other theories: “rogue elements” in the Cuban security forces; officials inside US intelligence services keen to resort to Cold War times; Russians eager to bolster their own relationship with their erstwhile ally while sowing discord between the US and Cuba; maybe even Donald Trump himself, anxious to deflect attention from his own many domestic and international challenges.
We don’t know. And perhaps we never will. Or maybe the truth will only be revealed 30 years from now after sufficient time has passed and intelligence agencies (from whichever country is involved, if  they are involved) finally release the pertinent documentation.
So what do we really know?
Well, we certainly know who is already working overtime to twist these unexplained events to their ideological advantage: anti-Cuba hawks in Washington and Miami. Still nursing their wounds from the Obama administration’s 2015 reset on relations with Cuba, they are eager to reassert their own hardline views on US policy.
The Trump White House — which has talked tough on Cuba but done relatively little so far to scale back actual policy changes implemented during the Obama era — seems eager to do the hawks bidding under cover of protecting US diplomats.
On Sept. 15, five right-wing Republican Senators, including  virulent anti-Cuba Florida Senator Marco Rubio, sent an open letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson, asking him to “immediately declare all accredited Cuban diplomats in the United States persona non grata and, if Cuba does not take tangible action, close the U.S. Embassy in Havana.”
Two days later, Tillerson — who has since come close to putting a full checkmark beside their first demand — told CBS the State Department has shuttering the embassy “under evaluation… It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered.”
It is indeed a very serious issue — which is exactly why Washington shouldn’t allow its response to be hijacked by baseless arguments of self-interested Senators eager to turn back the political clock, and a president paying back his political commitments to the wealthy Cuban-American lobby.
Over five decades were wasted after the Washington broke diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961.  The reopening of diplomatic relations just two years ago was a victory for common sense—but sadly is now in danger of being overturned because of self-seeking politics and ignorance.
John Kirk is Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University.  He is the author/coeditor of 16 books on Cuba.  His most recent book is Healthcare without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism (2015), and he is the coeditor of “The Evolution of Cuban Foreign Policy under Raúl Castro” (to be published in 2018).  For many years he was the Editor of the Contemporary Cuba series with the University Press of Florida, and is now the Co-editor of the new series on Cuba published by Lexington Books.

Stephen Kimber is a Professor of Journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, CANADA, and the author of nine books, including the award-winning What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.
OCTOBER 6, 2017

A Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review 
Introduction 
Cuba holds an admirable place in the international community regarding the protection and promotion of the rights of its citizens. In Cuba everyone is guaranteed an education and access to universal and free healthcare. In Cuba no one is “disappeared” or the victim of extra-judicial execution.  In Cuba there are no homeless roaming the streets, no one left to fend for themself, eking out an existence in a dog-eat-dog society. Cuba is not a haven for the economic violence that reigns in so many countries. This submission will briefly summarize Cuba’s domestic achievements, as well, as the island’s considerable contribution to the well-being of the world’s nations and peoples.
Cuba & Human Rights: The Social Sphere
Cuba admirably fulfills its responsibilities under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The annual United Nations Human Development Report (HDR) attests to the success in this regard of the Cuban Revolution. These annual reports are recognized as the most comprehensive and extensive determination of the well being of the world’s peoples.  Since its inception, the HDR has repeatedly confirmed the advances and progress of the Cuban Revolution. Cuba is firmly placed in the High Human Development category. Moreover, Cuba ranks 1st in terms of the relationship between economic means and capacity for human development. In other words, Cuba’s ranking in the Human Development Report outstrips its per capita world ranking. Thus, in the effective use of resources for human benefit, Cuba out-performs the much richer countries of the so-called "developed world". In short, Cuba is a country that effectively uses its very modest resources for the benefit of its citizens.
It bears noting that for any country to try to cope with and overcome the current worldwide economic crisis in a manner that favours its people, not the global monopolies, is no small feat. This is all the more true for a country such as Cuba that is subjected to a brutal all-sided economic war from the United States. One cannot forget that Cuba’s impressive achievements in human development have occurred in the face of all-sided aggression by Washington, which has never accepted the January 1, 1959 verdict of the Cuban people.  Washington’s objective is the negation and extinguishing of Cuba’s right to self-determination and independence. The U.S. economic blockade is the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development, having cost the island nation in excess of $1 trillion U.S, constituting it is a flagrant violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba.
Cuba and Human Rights: The Political System
Cuba is almost invariably portrayed as a serious violator of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; a totalitarian regime, a veritable “gulag” guided and controlled by the Castro brothers: first, Fidel and, now, Raúl.  However, this position cannot be sustained once the reality of Cuba is assessed on its own merits. Extensive democratic popular participation in decision-making is at the centre of the Cuban model of governance. The official organs of government in Cuba are the municipal, provincial and national assemblies of the Poder Popular (People’s Power) structures. The National Assembly is the sole body with legislative authority, with delegates – as in the provincial and municipal assemblies – directly elected by the Cuban electorate. The National Assembly chooses from amongst its members the Council of State, which is accountable to the National Assembly and carries out its duties and responsibilities, such as the passage and implementation of decrees, when the National Assembly is not in session.
Cubans are not preoccupied with a mere mechanical implementation of a rigid, unchanging model. Contrary to dominant misconceptions, the Cuban political system is not a static entity. Cubans are involved in an intense learning process whose hallmark has been experimentation and willingness to correct mistakes and missteps by periodic renovation of their democratic project. Thus, the system responds to popular demands for adjustment.
In 1992, the Constitution and electoral laws were modified to require the direct popular election of all members of the national and provincial assemblies. Previously, only the municipal assemblies were directly elected, with the make-up of the provincial assemblies determined by a vote of municipal delegates and, in turn, the National Assembly composition established by provincial representatives. Also, the creation of the popular councils was directly aimed at increasing the power of local government and reducing the impact of bureaucracy.
Second, the function of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) is significantly circumscribed, as it does not operate as an electoral party. Cuban law proscribes the PCC from playing any role in the nomination of candidates. At the municipal level, the nominations occur at street meetings, where it is the constituents who directly participate in and control the selection. Each municipality is divided into several circumscriptions, or districts, comprised of a few hundred people. Each circumscription nominates candidates and elects a delegate who serves in the local municipal assembly. There is a high degree of popular participation in the selection of candidates, marked by active and uncorked citizen interaction and involvement.
The elections at the municipal level are competitive and the casting of ballots is secret. The organization of the elections and counting of the ballots are transparent and free of fraud.  Even Hildebrando Chaviano, a government opponent who ran and lost in 2015, admitted the validity of the elections, stating,  “The vote was clean. The count was clean. The people don’t want change. They still want the revolution.”  By law, there must be at least two candidates and a maximum of eight. In the 2015 elections, 27,379 candidates competed for 12,589 municipal assembly posts, the first rung on Cuba’s political ladder.
At the provincial and national levels, candidacy commissions select and sift through thousands of people. The commissions are comprised of representatives from the various mass and grassroots organizations and are presided over by workers’ representatives chosen by the unions. The PCC is prohibited from participation in the work of the commissions. Therefore, it is the norm for ordinary working people to be both nominated and elected. The commissions’ recommendations are then presented to the municipal assemblies for final approval. By law, up to 50 percent of National Assembly deputies can be municipal assembly delegates. The other members of the National Assembly are persons from every sphere of Cuban society: the arts, sports, science, religion etc.
The selection process ensures a broad representation of society.In the 2013 national election of the 612 representatives in Cuba’s National Assembly of the People’s Power, a record number are 299 women (48.9%), up from 43.2, 37.09 percent are black and 82.68 are university graduates. The average age is 48.
Each member of the National Assembly, including President Raúl Castro, is directly elected and must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in her or his constituency. In Cuban municipal, provincial and national elections, the turnout is very high, usually in the ninetieth percentile. The vote, as in municipal elections, is by secret ballot. Also, although a single national delegate list is put to the electorate, not all candidates receive the same number of votes as Cubans exercise their discretion in a very serious, deliberate and definite fashion. There is no formal campaigning, which curtails the role of money in Cuban elections. Instead, a month before the election, a biography of each candidate is displayed in various public places, where they can be perused at the convenience of the entire electorate.
The objective of circumscribing formal campaigning is avoid the development of professional politicking in which money and backroom deals become the driving force of the political system. Elections in Cuba are free of the commercial advertising that dominates and has come to denote the political system in capitalist countries. Professional politicking and politicians are viewed as symbolic of the corrupt past and marginalization of the citizenry that characterized pre-revolutionary Cuba. Consequently, the sons and daughters of workers and peasants comprise virtually all the delegates of the national, provincial and municipal assemblies.
Third, an intimate relationship exists between the elected municipal delegates and the people they serve. Each delegate must live in the electoral district (usually comprising a maximum of 2,000 people). Each municipal assembly meets four times a year and elects from its membership a president, vice president and a secretary. These are the only full-time, paid positions in Cuban local government; all other members of the municipal assemblies are unpaid and continue in the jobs they had before they were elected. Delegates have a high degree of familiarity with their constituency and are constantly on call. Every six months, there is a formal accountability session at which complaints, suggestions and other community interests (planteamientos) are raised with the delegates.
The delegate must then attempt to resolve the matter or provide an explanation at the following accountability session.  Consequently, the delegate must account for her or his work carried out since the previous session. Each planteamiento is carefully recorded, and approximately 70 percent are resolved. These planteamiento sessions have resulted in local issues being taken to the national level where they are examined and discussed, thus, ensuring popular input into government policy. If constituents are dissatisfied with the performance of their representative, then she or he can be recalled or voted out in the next round of elections. From election to election there is high turnover in representatives. For example in 2013, 67% of the delegates were newly elected, entering the municipal assemblies for the first time.
Fourth, the Cuban system eschews the adversarial approach that dominates the western political processes. In the work and meetings of the municipal, provincial assemblies and the National Assembly, the goal of achieving unity and consensus is central. The unanimous votes that occur are not indicative of a rubberstamp mentality but a consensus that is arrived at through extensive and intensive discussion, dialog and debate that precedes the final vote in the National Assembly: the end-point of a long, conscientious and sometimes arduous process. The National Assembly has 10-permanent commissions that discuss and debate a wide-range of topics, including, among many others, the economy, foreign investment, industry, the environment, constitutional and legal affairs, education, culture, science and technology.
Fifth, the Cuba political system is augmented by a very active and vibrant civil society. A critical aspect of the Cuban political system is the integration of a variety of mass organizations into political activity. No new policy or legislation can be adopted or contemplated until the appropriate organization or association representing the sector of society that would be directly affected has been consulted. These organizations have very specific functions and responsibilities. In addition to the Communist Party, the Young Communist League and the Confederation of Cuban Workers, there are the Cuban Federation of Women, the Committees to Defend the Revolution, the National Association of Small Farmers and the Federation of University Students.
The mass organizations are supplemented by numerous professional and other associations that represent the specific interests of other sectors, including for example, lawyers, economists, journalists, writers and artists, the physically challenged and stamp collectors. As Ricardo Alarcon, former president of Cuba’s National Assembly underscores, “these associations and organizations embrace practically the entire universe of activities, interests and problems of all Cubans.” Mass organizations, unlike the Communist Party, are granted through Article 88 (c) of the Constitution the right to propose legislation in the areas that fall under their jurisdiction. Hence, these organizations have a dynamic existence, and Cuba is replete with almost daily assemblies, meetings and gatherings of various organizations to discuss and examine particular issues, in conjunction with the participation of government officials.  This daily engagement of the citizenry with government is the essence of the Cuban political process.
Additionally,  when critical decisions have to be made regarding the direction of Cuban society, the country is transformed into a vast island-wide parliament. For example, in 2010-2011 a mass discussion was held on Los Lineamentos, the proposals to renew and update the Cuban economic model. From December 2010-February 2011: 163, 079 meetings, involving almost 9-million people, were held to discuss the various proposals and guidelines. As a result of this mass national discussion and debate across the island and in Cuba’s National, Provincial & Municipal Assemblies more than two-thirds of  the original 291 proposals were modified: eventually 311 guidelines emerged. These 311 guidelines were further debated and discussed at the  6th Congress of the PCC Congress in which 86-guidelines (28%) of the 311 were amended, with 2 new ones adopted, resulting  in 313 guidelines.  However, this has not been the end of the national discussion and debate. The three documents that outline Cuba’s future path – Los Lineamentosla Conceptualización del Modelo Económico y Social Cubano de Desarrollo Socialistaand Plan 2030 – are the product of this profound mass engagement with Cuban citizens. These documents were subjected to another nation-wide scrutiny and analysis by Cuban citizens in 2016.
Cuba in the World: Internationalism 
Cuba’s contributions to advancing and defending human rights extend beyond the geographical boundaries of the island nation. Since its inception, the Cuban Revolution has made – and continues to make – an invaluable contribution to the global struggle for human rights, justice, social development and human dignity. Cuba has established an unparalleled legacy of internationalism and humanitarianism, embodying the immortal words of José Martí: “Homeland is Humanity. Humanity is Homeland.” For example, Cuba played a crucial role in African national and anti-colonial liberation struggles  (from Algeria to South Africa). In the struggle to defeat the racist apartheid regime in South Africa more than 2,000 Cubans gave their lives. This has not been – nor will ever be – forgotten by Africans.  The late Nelson Mandela stated:  “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character…Cubans came to our region as doctors, teachers, soldiers, agricultural experts, but never as colonizers.”
Today this Cuban commitment to humanity is mirrored in the tens of thousands of medical personnel and educators who have served and continue to serve across the world, battling in the trenches against disease and illiteracy.  In 2014, for example, Havana responded without hesitation to the Ebola epidemic in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone. The Cuban medical mission was the largest sent by any country, consisting of 461 Cuban doctors and nurses chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers. Africa called and Cuba answered.
Even at this difficult time, when the island-nation is dealing with the havoc wrought by Hurricane Irma’s, Cuba’s deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.
The Cuban doctors serving across the world are motivated not by financial gain but by the profound internationalist values of solidarity inculcated since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Since 1959, more than 300,000 Cuban medical workers have served in 158 countries. Currently, 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses are serving in 66 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia, with more than 4,000 Cuban healthcare personnel treating people in 32 African countries. As Dr. Jorge Perez Ávila, the director of Cuba’s Pedro Kouri Institute for Tropical Medicine, noted: “Our principle has been to share what we have.”
Summation
Cuba’s achievements occur within a very specific political context. It is the political base of the Cuban Revolution that has been the guarantor and motive force upon which these achievements rest.
The Cuban revolution is an outgrowth of Cuba’s long struggle to achieve independence and establish an autochthonous nation-building project rooted in its historical legitimacy as the vehicle for the realization of these historical aspirations.  Periodically, the Cuban people reaffirm these historical aspirations, which are expressed in a political consensus to defend the revolutionary project. The Human Development Reports, for example, bear out this reality and demand reflection; they validate the revolutionary path chosen by the Cuban people.
Cuba’s very existence reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Cuba – and all other peoples – to determine their future and their political, economic and social system without external interference: a right enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation Among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
The example of Cuba assumes even greater significance as the 21st century unfolds, fraught with grave dangers that threaten the well being of the peoples of the world. In the midst of these profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations within and among the world’s nations and peoples are — and can only be — determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. Cuba illustrates that societies can be centred on social justice, human dignity and international solidarity.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign 
-Isaac Saney, CNC National Spokesperson, September 10, 2017 - 

Hurricane Irma menaced and devastated the eastern and northern Caribbean, striking Cuba from September 7-10, resulting in significant and widespread damage. Accompanied by massive flooding, its sweeping destruction encompassed housing, communications, infrastructure, agricultural equipment, crops, and community buildings. 

While, we are confident that the Cuban people will overcome any challenges posed by Hurricane Irma, Cuba will, nevertheless, have to expend considerable resources, both immediate and long term, in order to overcome the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma. 

To assist Cuba in its immense efforts of recovery and reconstruction, the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign

Donations to the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign can be made by mailing cheques made out to the Canadian Network On Cuba to: CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.

All donations will be forwarded 100% directly to Cuba. 

In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful Hurricane Relief Campaigns. The most recent was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern Cuba, devastating Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest city.  In 2008, the CNC’s most extensive campaign was launched when a series of hurricanes caused damage in excess of $10-billion. The CNC not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also directly participated in the construction of a new social and cultural centre on La Isla de La Juventud (Isle of Youth).   
 
In 2017, as Cuba faces this latest challenge, we are confident that Canadians - as they have repeatedly done - will once again demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with Cuba by supporting the island as it recovers from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

Our experience with regard to Cuba's response to natural disasters is that it knows how to multiply the value of any donations it receives. We feel confident, based on the island's unsurpassed humanitarian work - both within Cuba and in other countries - that it has the skills, the organization and the ethical and moral values to put whatever assistance it receives to the best possible use. 

Even at this difficult time, in the midst of Hurricane Irma’s havoc, Cuba’s deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.

As in past campaigns, we hope that solidarity organizations and individuals will generously support Cuba in its efforts to rebuild after this devastating hurricane.  

Send Donations to: CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please make cheques out to the Canadian Network On Cuba and write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.

________________________________________
Appeal to Our Fighting People - Cuban government statement on Hurricane Irma

Monday, 11 September 2017

Let us face recovery with the example of the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who with his permanent faith in victory and strong will has taught us that there are no impossible tasks.

Hurricane Irma, with its destructive force, lashed out at our Island for more than 72 hours, from the morning of Friday 8 to Sunday 10 September. With winds that at times surpassed 250 kilometres per hour, it crossed the north of the country from Baracoa, also punished by another phenomenon of this type almost a year ago, to the vicinity of Cardenas. However, by the immensity of its size practically no territory was freed of its effects.

Called by experts as the largest hurricane formed in the Atlantic, this meteorological phenomenon caused severe damage to the country, which, precisely b because of its size, have not yet been quantified. A preliminary look evidences damages in housing, the national power grip and agriculture.

In addition it hit some of our main tourist destinations, however we will restore the damages before the start of the peak season. We have the necessary human and material resources, as one of the main sources of income for the national economy.
It has been hard days for our people, who in only a few hours have seen how everything we have built with great effort has been struck down by a devastating hurricane. The pictures of the last hours are eloquent, as is the spirit of resistance and victory of our people who are reborn with every adversity.

In these difficult circumstances, paramount have been the unity of the Cubans, the solidarity among the neighbours, the discipline to follow the instructions issued by the National Civil Defense General Staff and the Defense Councils at all levels, the professionalism of the specialists at the Institute of Meteorology, the immediacy of our media and journalists, the support of mass organizations, as well as the cohesion of the governing bodies of the National Defense Council. Special mention to all our women, including the leaders of the Party and the Government, who with steadiness and maturity directed and faced the difficult situation.

The days to come will be a lot of work, where the strength of the Cubans and the indestructible confidence in their Revolution will once again be demonstrated. It is not time to mourn, but to rebuild what the winds of Hurricane Irma tried to disappear.

With organization, discipline and the integration of all our structures, we will go ahead as we have done on previous occasions. Let us not fool ourselves, the task before us is immense, but with a people like ours we will win the most important battle: recovery.

At this crucial moment, the Central Trade Union Organization of Cuba (CTC) and the National Association of Small Farmers, together with other mass organizations, will have to redouble their efforts to erase as soon as possible the aftermath of this destructive event.

A principle remains unchanged: the Revolution will not leave anyone homeless and measures are already taken so that no Cuban family is left to their fate.

As has been customary every time a weather phenomenon hits us, there are many signs of solidarity received from all over the world. Heads of State and Government, political organizations and friends of solidarity movements have expressed their willingness to help us, which we thank on behalf of the more than eleven million Cubans and Cubans.

Let us face the recovery with the example of Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who with his permanent faith in victory and strong will has taught us that there are no impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.

Raul Castro Ruz
Havana, 10 September 2017

_______________________________________

Wednesday, July 26, 2017





Moncada CommemorationAffirming History,  Independence and the Cause of Peace and Justice

- Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba -


On July 26, 1953, a group of courageous young men and women -- led by Fidel Castro -- attacked the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks in Bayamo, in an attempt to overthrow the U.S. supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista. As the island's second largest military garrison, the Moncada Barracks was critical to Batista's military control of southern Cuba. The goal was to seize the weapons and distribute them to the people and spark a national uprising that would not only overthrow the Batista dictatorship but also establish Cuba's independence and sovereignty. This heroic act is annually commemorated all over Cuba as the beginning of the movement and struggle that laid the foundation of the Cuban Revolution. 
          This year's commemorations are imbued with a particular poignancy;  it is the first without the physical presence of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. Fidel epitomized the unbending commitment to Justice, Dignity and Independence that has characterized Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.  Fidel's living legacy continues in the work of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel's example and fidelity to principle continue to inspire the Cuban people, who continue on the path of independence, self-determination and human dignity. 
        The attacks were carried out by an organization that was created in 1952, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, and comprised of young workers, students, artisans, peasants and landless farmers. It had around 1,500 members and affiliated itself with historic Cuban national liberation figures such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo. Around 120 youths were part of the attacks, approximately 70 of whom were killed, with many being tortured and executed after the attack. The survivors, including Fidel Castro, were subsequently put on trial and given lengthy prison sentences. Most, including Fidel Castro, were released after an amnesty in May 1955. This amnesty was the result of the mass mobilization of Cubans in support of the imprisoned rebels. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro, the July 26th Movement galvanized Cubans, ultimately leading to the victory of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.
          

 
While the Moncada attack failed in fulfilling its immediate objective, it was central to the Cuban people's struggle for national affirmation and social emancipation. Cubans have always placed Moncada in a broad historical context, viewing it as a crucial link in the century-long striving of Cuba to free itself from Spanish colonial domination and U.S. tutelage, and then, establish authentic independence. At his trial Fidel Castro delivered a speech that eventually became the manifesto of the movement to overthrow the Batista tyranny. It was published as La Historia Me Absolvera (History Will Absolve Me) and laid out the national and social goals of the revolutionary movement that eventually triumphed on January 1, 1959. Today, the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, now a school and a museum, stand as concrete symbols of that successful struggle.
               Canadian commemorations of Moncada Day are a reflection of the ties that exist between Cuba and Canada. Canadians admire the courageous and rebellious spirit embodied in Moncada; a spirit that today is so powerfully manifested in Cuba's steadfastness against the efforts of the empire to destroy the island's independence. Canadians irrespective of their political or ideological positions, stand in favour of building relations with Cuba based on mutual respect and equality, relations which uphold Cuba's right to self-determination and sovereignty. Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centred on independence, justice and human dignity.

Since the Cuban people embarked on the road paved by Moncada, Cuba has refuted and      continues to refute the colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries   imperial arrangements and dictates that they resoundingly reject.The Cuban Revolution has
refused to renounce its right to self-determination and the principles, principles forged in the crucible of Moncada.  
              
In the years that have flashed by since Moncada, the Cuban people have shown what is possible to achieve when one defends genuine independence and self-determination. The example of Cuba assumes even greater significance as the 21st century unfolds, fraught with grave dangers that threaten the well being of the peoples of the world. In the midst of these profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations among the world's nations and peoples are -- and can only be -- determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. As Cuba continues on the path of social justice, human dignity and international solidarity, the Cuban Revolution continues to be an inspiration to humanity. Cuba demonstrates that it is possible to build relations based on genuine solidarity and social love; it is a living example of the alternatives that permit people to realize their deepest aspirations, and that another better world is possible.  History has given its judgment, vindicating the attack on the Moncada Barracks!

Long Live the Martyrs of Moncada!
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

NO TO THE U.S. ECONOMIC BLOCKADE OF CUBA!  

NO TO U.S. VIOLATION OF CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY! 

Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba, June 15, 2017

The Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) denounces the violation of the sovereignty of Canada by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department.  OFAC fined the American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC) $87,255 for approving and financing between February 2011 and March 2014 the leasing by Honda Canada Finance Inc. of 13 cars to the Embassy of Cuba in Canada. 

This is an unambiguous act of hostility against Cuba carried out within Canada by Washington. The extraterritorial application of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba targets not only Canada, as the AHFC is a subsidiary of the American Honda Motor Company, which is itself owned by Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and based in Japan, not the U.S.

Because Honda Canada Finance Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary company of American Honda Motor Company, Washington insists that it follow U.S. law as demanded by the 1992 Torricelli Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act.

In short, U.S. law supplants Canadian law within Canada! 

Not only is this a violation of the sovereignty of Canada, it contravenes the Canadian Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA). 

In response to the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Bill, the Government of Canada specifically amended FEMA in order to protect Canada against the increasing extraterritorial nature of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. Thus, FEMA prohibits Canadian corporations from complying with the extraterritorial measures of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba

This violation of Canadian sovereignty by the U.S. Treasury Department illustrates that Washington not only wages an economic blockade against Cuba but also a diplomatic and political blockade. 

Is this extraterritorial interference in Canadian sovereignty a warning that Canada-Cuba relations is now a direct target of the Trump administration?

The CNC calls on the Government of Canada to uphold the country's sovereignty and reject this or any other effort to implement in Canada the internationally condemned and illegal U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. 

The CNC urges the Canadian government and parliamentarians not to allow Canada's policy towards and relations with Cuba to be targeted or undermined.
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CUBAN WOMEN RESPOND TO TRUMP

Statement from the Federation of Cuban Women in response to threats by the U.S. President

Accustomed to struggling and resisting, we Cuban women state to U.S. President Donald Trump, that we do not accept walls, intervention or threats from anybody, and much less from those who wish to disregard the legacy which has sustained and motivated us for centuries

Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (Federation of Cuban Women)Granma, june 22, 2017 12:06:04

We cannot remain silent in the face of such ignorance.

The President of the United States is violating the human rights of the Cuban people with his new policy toward Cuba which reinforces the blockade. The over four million members of the Federation of Cuban Women denounce, before the world, the measures announced, which constitute an act of political aggression against the Cuban people, including women, children, and adolescents, in its aim to make their daily lives more difficult.

As such, we firmly support the declaration by our Revolutionary Government.

It is an insult to describe Playa Girón mercenaries as heroes. If they have forgotten history, or pretend to have done so, there are the testimonies from Nemesia and her siblings, who saw their mother die during the invasion; there are the families of the youth who offered their lives defending their country.

They also fail to recognized the bravery of Cuban mothers who took to the streets demanding an end to the murder of their children, including that of Frank País, in which Bonifacio Haza – a henchman for the Batista dictatorship and father of the out-of-tune violinist - was involved.

Last January 21 hundreds of thousands of women around the world came out to protest against Trump's misogyny and sexism, a man who publicly mocked a disabled journalist.

A pregnant African-American woman was recently shot and killed by police in Seattle, adding to the rising number of Blacks killed at the hands of the U.S. police force. What moral right does the U.S. President have to lecture Cuba about human rights?

Cuba is one of the countries which offers the most physical and moral protection to its people in the world, where the dignity of the people is at the centre of social policies. One only need look at the levels of development achieved by Cuban women, the financing that our country devotes to health, education and social security programs, among others, in order to understand the deeply humanist dimension of our Revolution.

Accustomed to struggling and resisting, we Cuban women say to you (President Trump), that we do not accept walls, intervention or threats from anybody, and much less from those who wish to disregard the legacy which has sustained and motivated us for centuries.

We Cubans have never given in to coercion of any kind. It would do well for you to read the history of the Maceo-Grajales family to discover the mettle of which our nation is forged.

We will always be ready to defend the gains achieved for and by Cuban women. The struggle for peace will be our permanent banner in order to protect our children’s future. Once again we proclaim that, inspired by the teaching and example of Fidel and Vilma, with or without the blockade, we will continue to build our socialist, inclusive, and participative homeland.

National Secretariat

The Federation of Cuban Women

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ICAP Message to the Solidarity Movement with Cuba

"We have been able to enjoy the privilege of your friendship, of your solidarity, of your battles against the blockade, against the aggressions on Cuba, because you are not warriors, nor launchers of atomic bombs. What is a blockade? A silent atomic weapon that kills women, men, children, adolescents; that is the blockade." - Fidel Castro Ruz, Cuban Mission to UN, New York, 1995

Dear friends,
The hostile announcement of the US Government on Friday, June 16, differs and opposes diametrically from the growing desire and struggle of the American people to achieve a total normalization of relations between their country and Cuba and the lifting of the genocidal blockade that has been applied against our homeland for more than fifty years.

The Cubans and the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples are grateful to all solidarity organizations from all over the world that have been supporting for years the right of our nation to defend its sovereignty, independence and self-determination.

Countless, in such a short period of time, have been the messages received at ICAP with words of friendship and true respect for our country and against the reversion of the exchanges between both nations and their peoples that President Donald Trump expressed threateningly in his wrong speech.

We know that this demand has reached the most dissimilar corners of the world demonstrating once again that there is no policy limiting the friendship ties between any people and the Cuban homeland, to which courageous and solidarity soldiers representing other nationalities along with Cuban patriots, also offered their lives for its freedom and independence.

If anything we are aware of, is that in the future the actions against the blockade will have to continue, and the efforts to dismantle this policy will be our main objective as this is the most flagrant violation of the Cuban people´s human rights. In the new battles to be fought with these noble and indestructible purposes we know that we can count, as ever, on you.

The struggle continues, the victory is certain!
Long live solidarity!
Ever onward to victory!

Fernando González Llort
ICAP President
ICAP (Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos - Cuban Institute for Friendship With the Peoples)



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CUBA RESPONDS TO TRUMP

Any strategy directed toward changing Cuba's constitutional order is condemned to
failure: Statement of the Cuban Revolutionary Government statement released on June 16 in response to new Presidential Directive on U.S. policy toward Cuba - Denounciation of Donald Trump's intention to halt progress in normalization of relations Donald Trump's intention to halt progress in normalization of relations 

Granma, June 19, 2017

June 16, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech replete with hostile rhetoric which recalled the era of open confrontation with our country, announced in a Miami theater his administration's policy toward Cuba which reverses advances made these last two years, after December 17, 2014, when Presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama made public the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations and initiate a process toward normalization of bilateral ties. 

In what constitutes a setback in relations between the two countries, Trump delivered a speech and during the same event signed a policy directive entitled, " National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening U.S. Policy toward Cuba," mandating the elimination of educational "people-to-people" exchanges undertaken by individuals, and greater control of U.S. travelers to Cuba, as well as the prohibition of economic, commercial, or financial transactions on the part of U.S. companies with Cuban enterprises linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces, intelligence or security services - all of this with the intentional objective of denying us income. The U.S. President justified this policy with alleged concerns about the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously enforce blockade laws, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvement in bilateral relations, on our country making changes elemental to our constitutional order. 

Trump likewise vacated the Presidential Policy Directive, "Normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba," issued by President Obama on October 14, 2016, which, although it did not attempt to hide the interventionist character of U.S. policy or the objective of advancing its interest in changes in our country's economic, political and social order, the directive recognized Cuba's independence, sovereignty, and self-determination, and the Cuban government as a legitimate, equal interlocutor, as well as the benefits that both countries and people could gain in a relationship of civilized coexistence, within the context of the great differences which exist between our two governments. It also recognized that the blockade was an obsolete policy that should be eliminated. 

Once again, the U.S. government resorts to the coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to tighten the blockade, in effect since February of 1962, which not only causes harm and depravation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to our economy's development, but also impacts the sovereignty and interests of other countries, generating international condemnation. 

The measures announced create additional obstacles to already restricted opportunities available to U.S. businesses to trade with and invest in Cuba. 

At the same time, they further restrict the rights of U.S. citizens to visit our country, already limited given the obligation to employ discriminatory licenses, at a time when the U.S. Congress - as a reflection of the opinion of broad sectors of this society - demands not only an end to the travel ban, but also that restrictions on commerce with Cuba be eliminated. 

President Trump's announcements contradict the majority support of the U.S. public, including the Cuban émigré community in that country, for the lifting of the blockade and normal relations between Cuba and the United States. 

For his part, the U.S. President, once again poorly advised, makes decisions that favor political interests of an extremist minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida, which for small-minded reasons do not desist in their pretensions to punish Cuba and its people, for exercising the legitimate, sovereign right to be free and take control of their own destiny. 

At a later time, we will more thoroughly analyze the scope and implications of this announcement. 

The government of Cuba denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to failure, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the past, and which will not achieve their purpose of weakening the Revolution, or breaking the Cuban people, whose resistance to aggression of any kind or origin has been proven over almost six decades. 

The government of Cuba rejects the manipulation of the issue of human rights for political purposes, and double standards in addressing it. The Cuban people enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms, and have achieved accomplishments of which they are proud, and which are only a dream for many of the world's countries, including the United States itself, such as the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the rights of children, the right to food, peace and development. With its modest resources, Cuba has contributed, as well, to the expansion of human rights in many places around the world, despite the limitations imposed given its condition as a blockaded country. 

The United States is in no position to teach us a lesson. We have serious concerns about respect for and protection of human rights in this country, where there have been numerous cases of police murder, brutality, and abuse, in particular against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as a result of deaths caused by firearms; child labor is exploited; and serious manifestations of racial discrimination exist; threats are being made to impose more restrictions on health care services, which would leave 23 million persons without coverage; women do not receive equal pay for equal work; emigrants and refugees are marginalized, in particular those from Islamic countries; the building of walls that belittle neighbors is proposed; and international commitments to protect the environment and confront climate change are abandoned. 

Likewise, also of concern are violations of human rights committed by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detentions of dozens of prisoners in territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba, where torture has taken place; the extrajudicial executions and deaths of civilians caused by bombs and the use of drones; and wars unleashed against different countries like Iraq, justified with lies about the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with disastrous consequences for the security and stability of the Middle East region. 

We recall that Cuba is a state party to 44 human rights international covenants, while the United States is so to only 18. Thus we have much to show, to say, and defend. 

Upon confirming the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States affirmed the intention to develop respectful, cooperative ties between the two people and governments, based on the principles and purposes enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 

In the declaration issued July 1, 2015, the revolutionary government of Cuba reaffirmed, "These relations must be founded on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social, and cultural system, without interference of any kind; and on equality and reciprocity, which constitute irrevocable principles of international law,” as stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by heads of state and government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), during its 2nd Summit, in Havana. Cuba has not renounced these principles, and never will. 

The government of Cuba reiterates its willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the government of the United States. Over the last two years, it has been demonstrated that, as President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, has repeatedly stated, the two countries can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting differences and promoting all that benefits both nations and peoples, but it cannot be expected that, in order to do so, Cuba will make concessions which compromise our independence or sovereignty, nor accept conditions of any type. 

Any strategy directed toward changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, be it one that seeks to do so through pressure and dictates, or with the use of more subtle methods, is condemned to failure. 

The changes which may be needed in Cuba, like those made since 1959 and those we are undertaking now as part of the updating of our socio-economic model, will continue to be decided independently by the Cuban people. 

As we have since the triumph of the Revolution, January 1, 1959, we will assume any risk, and continue firm and sure in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation. 
Havana, June 16, 2017.