Thursday, July 29, 2010

A key reference on Cuban doctors abroad programmes

Cuba is rarely assessed objectively by external critics, typically being viewed through leftover Cold War filters or dismissed as an anachronism for its continuing effort to make socialism work. This book provides an excellent survey and analysis of Cuba's deeds in the international arena of health care, disaster relief and South-South cooperation. Kirk and Erisman effectively answer those critics who see Cuba's international medical programme as having foundations in the economic crisis of the 1990s (i.e., selling medical services to keep the money flowing) and instead provide a comprehensive historical accounting of Cuba's assistance to the developing world. 

The case is effectively made that Cuba's global health initiatives arise from a commitment to solidarity rather than any profit motive. Of particular interest is the revelation that in situations where Cuban military or technical support has been requested (Algeria, Angola, Congo, etc.), the Cubans ensured that medical and educational staff were significant components of any agreement. One looks forward to a followup study on Cuba's activities in Haiti, as this book was published before the January, 2010 earthquake. Cuban assistance to Haiti pre-dates the disaster by a decade, and is a prime example of the enduring benefits Cuban assistance provides: Cuba's medical teams were on the ground when the quake struck, were and continue to be the largest single medical team working on the island. This is development in practice, rather than empty words.

Important note: The authors of this book are generously donating all profits to the MEDICC programme that supports the Cuban medical effort in Haiti.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spoken Word Performance by El Jones: MONCADA


By El Jones, Halifax, Canada, July 23, 2010

I am the weapon fired in the Barracks at Moncada

I am the first blow struck for liberty in the resistance

I am the raised fist and the heroism of the martyr

I am not a rifle, shotgun or pistol. My ammunition is

The ideal of equality sown in the minds of the parking lot attendants

Delivery boys, chauffeurs and street vendors

The 25 rebels raised without fathers

The legacy of oppression felt in every ghetto

From Rio de Janeiro to Harlem

I am the bullet in the chamber loaded in Santiago

In the speeches of Eduardo Chibas

And broadcast in the barrios on the people?s free radio

I am Viva La Cuba Libre in embryo

Spoken in Spanish and Creole and

Stoked in poverty and broken homes

Until it was shown in growing whispers among the youth

On the streets and in universities

I am the truth and the grassroots marching in the boots

From day labourers to Che Guevara

I am the ancestral memory of the sugar cane fields

The machete passed from the hands of Toussaints warriors in Haiti

To the Cuban sugar workers labouring in the heat

I am snatching victory out of the jaws defeat

I am the speeches written from the prison cell

And the spit in the eye of the torturer

I am Fidel?s courtroom testimony

When I descend I strike a blow for solidarity

I am the revolution waged since 1492

Begun in the resistance of indigenous Taino and Arawak

And sustained in their descendents

Labouring in tobacco plantations

I am embargo and self-sustaining

I am guerilla tactics learned on the 26th of July

I am the absolution of history

I am the ongoing battle for independence from

The American attacks from 1906 to Guantanamo occupation

My echo has been felt from Palestine to Iraq

In every national struggle for liberation

I am the refusal to bow to imperialism

I am the destruction of class division

I am the 300 million of the people?s money Batista carried into exile

I raise fists against corruption I march miles

For the people?s rights I am the general strikes

I am the shot fired across the color line

For the mulattos and Afro-Cubanos

The shades not light enough to work in hotel cabanas

I am the legacy of slavery and African birthright

Whose beat runs through the salsa and mambo

I am the spirit of Baba Shango

I put the heat in the cold war

I am street festivals and the resistance of the poor

I am the redistribution of land and local ownership

I am nationalization of industry, collective agriculture and public education

I am the constitution that says the people own the nation

I am the belief that rice and peas served to all people

Tastes sweeter than steak served to the elite

The shots I fire are completed in Cuban doctors

Saving earthquake victim and free health care

Extended across the Caribbean

I am brown and black people?s freedom

I am the troops sent to Angola to fight South African apartheid

I am asylum offered to Asata Shakur and political exiles

The blows I strike have been felt from Bolivia to Venezuala

I am the coca farmers and the baseball players

And the peasants fighting oil corporations in the Amazon basin

I am the battle for land repatriation and slave reparations

The Caribbean workers in the free trade zones sewing sweatshop labels

I am the union organizers on Dominican sugar Bateys

The squatters rights and transnationalization of indigenous populations

The indigenous confederations fighting from Brazil to Peru

I am the Cuban revolution

And I will survive beyond Castro

Because I am the shot fired in the name of equality by heroes and martyrs

I am Moncado, I am Havana,

I am the ideal that thrives in the minds of the people

I am liberation.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Friday, July 23rd from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Victoria Park (Spring Garden and South Park), Halifax

July 26, 2010 will mark the 57th anniversary of the act that is annually celebrated all over Cubaas the beginning of the movement and struggle that paved the way for the Cuban Revolution.  On that day 57 years ago, Cuba's rebels rose up against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.  Although that first battle was lost, the Revolution ultimately prevailed.

On July 23, we gather to remember and honour those that were lost on that day, and to celebrate Cuba's independence.  There will be performances from noted Nova Scotian jazz artist Jeff Goodspeed (director of famous youth music group Los Primos), El Jones (acclaimed spoken word artist), and more!

This is a free event organized by the Nova Scotia Cuba Association.