Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rejecting Colonialist Mentality

Rejecting Colonialist Mentality

Re: Why is Obama visiting Cuba? by Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail February 25

Konrad’s Yakabuski’s “Why is Obama visiting Cuba?” is a slander against Cuba, parroting the disinformation of the U.S. State Department about Cuba. Canadians repudiate this alignment with these long-discredited falsehoods against Cuba. Rather than promote lies about Cuba, the Globe & Mail should highlight that 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 there are no homeless roaming the streets eking out an existence in a dog-eat-dog society. This is the country that Yakabuski slanders. This is the country that Obama will visit.

Obama is visiting Cuba because Washington has been forced to change its policy due to the resilience of the Cuban Revolution. But, perhaps, this is the crux of the matter. Cuba refutes the colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements that they do not want or accept. Havana has refused to renounce its right to self-determination and the principles upon which the Cuban Revolution is founded. Perhaps, what irks Mr. Yakabuski and the editorial board of the Globe & Mail is Cuba’s successful resistance of the diktat of empire.  For them Cuba is the unforgivable example, illustrating that so called "small" or "less powerful" nations do not have to subordinate themselves to the so-called great powers as long as their peoples are organized and determined to defend and strengthen their nation-building projects centred on independence, justice and human dignity. 

Isaac Saney

Chair, National Spokesperson
Canadian Network On Cuba


What Konrad Yakabuski ignores

Dear editors,

Having just returned from a research trip to Havana, I was astonished at the selective indignation of Konrad Yakabuski and his article “Why is Obama visiting Cuba?”

There are several reasons he ignores…

Having seen the UN General Assembly condemn the US embargo 191-2 (the US and Israel being the only opposition) in October, President Obama is trying to save some international face. At the same time he is trying to improve the US role in Latin America, which has condemned en masse the traditional isolation of Cuba by Washington.

He is attempting to find a solution to the disgraceful treatment of political prisoners at the Guantánamo torture centre. (At its height there were 800 prisoners there. There are 91 left, of whom just 10 have been charged. The waterboarding and other examples of torture have been well-documented).

He is trying symbolically to make amends for the murder of some 3,400 Cubans since 1959, killed in acts of terrorism--at times the result of US funding to counterrevolutionary groups.

He is seeking trade opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in and export to. Among these are the first-rate biotechnology products which could benefit the American population. The lung cancer drug CIMAVAX has been particularly successful, while Heberprot-P has reduced amputation of limbs among diabetics by 80%. Sadly the embargo—introduced in 1960—means that Cuba cannot sell even an Aspirin to the US market.

According to Amnesty International there are some 50 prisoners of conscience. While there should be no political prisoners at all, Yakabuski forgets that the US recently renewed the “Trading with the Enemy” Act with Cuba, and through USAID and the State Department continues to provide extensive funding to opposition groups in Cuba that seek to bring about regime change. Indeed just this week Obama renewed the 20-year old state of national emergency decree, which strengthens the embargo. Perhaps Washington should stop meddling?

In sum, some more balance would be helpful in dealing with this complex situation.

John M. Kirk,
Professor of Latin American Studies, Dalhousie University
Tel: 902-423-3325 (H); 902-494-3679 (W)

Anti-Communist Fairy Tales about Cuba, Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights
Anna Di Carlo, National Leader, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Re: Op-ed in the Globe and Mail February 25

Certain things are well known when it comes to the U.S. For instance, the U.S. contains only 4.4 per cent of the world's population but it has the dubious prestige of incarcerating 22 per cent of the world's prisoners, not to mention a largest n
umber of political prisoners. It is also infamous for its arbitrary detentions and Guantanamo-type torture camps. In 2015 alone police in the U.S. killed 1,140 people.

Even though U.S. abuses of human rights at home and abroad are so staggering as to boggle the mind, one of the Comment writers for the Globe and Mail, a Mr. Konrad Yakabuski who was based in Washington, DC from 2009 to 2013, seems oblivious to the facts which count in life. Of course, it is his prerogative to prefer a system where the leaders sell their souls to rapacious international money-lenders who are known swindlers and the basest creatures the American style of inhuman democracy has given rise to. But why he thinks that others think like he does is surely beyond reason.

Mr. Yakabuski badmouths Cuba over what he calls "repression," "democracy," "human rights" and "succession." He mocks the attempts of others to solve problems facing their economies and to ensure a stable succession for their people. He calls himself a journalist but is so blinded by anti-communist dogma that he seems to think his fairy tales about Cuba are believed by everyone else. All this does is discredit himself.

Far from sowing doubt about the Cuban revolutionary process, Mr. Yakabuski's turgid op-ed in the February 25 issue of the Globe and Mailmore aptly reveals how paltry has become the spectre which inhabits his own pathetic imagination. He is to be pitied for being so concerned about Cuba's economy rather than that of his own country which is on the eve of announcing a $30 billion deficit blamed on, amongst other things, the collapse of the price of oil. Workers laid off from Canada's oil patch who are now unemployed and in dire straights may surely sympathize more with the plight of Venezuela than wishing, as does Mr. Yakabuski, for that country's collapse as well.

This is the 21st century and the world is facing serious problems but Mr. Yakabuski sees fit to arise as a kind of Rip Van Winkle who has been hitting the snooze button for so long that he missed the fact that the Cold War anti-communist method of arguing "totalitarianism" versus "democracy" ended nearly 30 years ago. The fall of the Soviet Union deprived the U.S. of its bogeyman leaving no one to blame but itself for the crimes committed everywhere in the name of its "freedom," "democracy" and "human rights."

As for his concern about the Cuban succession, are we really to believe that the destruction and havoc wreaked upon Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria provide a "succession" for Mr. Yakabuski's own cherished notions of "freedom," "democracy" and "human rights"? As the world is plunged into the abyss by the U.S. striving for domination and Canada is hitched to its war chariot, Canadians are in no mood to pay heed to his anti-communist fairy tales.

To the chagrin of Mr. Yakabuski, Cuba is very much part of this world and it enjoys the heartfelt support and good wishes of Canadians and the peoples all over the planet. When speaking about "succession," perhaps Mr. Yakabuski will consider writing his next op-ed on the circus that passes for politics in the USA which looks like lantern slides from another planet. The players are a Mr. Trump and his fellow champions of U.S.-style human rights, freedom and democracy. A sordid succession indeed!

To quote one of the Cuban dissidents whose cause for "democracy in Cuba" Mr. Yakabuski champions, "The vote was clean. The count was clean. People don't want change. They still want revolution." - Hildebrando Chaviano, a lawyer who ran and lost in the 2015 local elections in which more than 7.7 million people voted out of a registered electorate of 8 million people.


February 25, 2016 
Dear Sir or Madam:
Re: Why is Obama visiting Cuba? by KONRAD YAKABUSKI. The Globe and Mail. Published Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 6:00AM EST
From this article it is hard to decide whom Mr. Yakabuski dislikes the most, US President Barak Obama or Cuban President Raul Castro. He is equally critical of the two. The former, for his “foreign policy flip-flops” and for not being “Reaganesque” enough; the latter, for “head[ing] the longest-running dictatorship in the Western hemisphere.”
What really transpires is that Mr. Yakabuski still lives in the political stone age of the Cold War era. The repetitive litany of “evil-doing” of the Castros is baseless and quite insulting to the intelligence of most Cubans and Canadians alike. Many of us have travelled to Cuba, not as romantic visitors, but for academic research purposes and have seen the real Cuba without rhetoric that Mr. Obama will see. I welcome his visit.
Nino Pagliccia,  Global Health Research (Retired),  University of British Columbia,  7089 Mont Royal Square,  Vancouver, BC,  V5S 4W6,  604-831-9821

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