Tag Archives: Cuban Political

About Some of the Changes in Cuba

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February 15, 2013
Andrés Gómez, Director of Areítodigital

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Miami.- I returned from Havana recently after a few weeks in that beloved city. A lot is changing in Havana, just as in the rest of the Island, as a result of the new economic measures in place in the country.

Clearly the changes are positive. New enterprising forces are visible. These were made possible by the latest laws, guidelines and regulations. The most obvious changes are those related to transportation, gastronomy and building. Also and most importantly is the money available to the population in general.

The availability of money in the population in general makes possible the rest of the changes that are taking place. Today I will talk about the three I mentioned before. Perhaps because I am not an economist I fail to understand how with the level of salaries received by the large majority of Cuban workers so many of them can spend so much money to acquire so many things. I know that there are sectors related to the new businesses that have a higher purchasing power; but it is difficult for me to believe that there are as many persons related to these new businesses as those we see spending money in the streets and buying at the commercial shops in the city. This situation is still an enigma for me. And although it is a mystery, I see it with pleasure, because people enjoy it and benefit from it. There will be time for me to understand it.

Transportation in the city has improved considerably, and not because the government has acquired many more buses, but because the private sector has made available to many customers the old American cars -at least their bodies, because these cars operate with motors and parts of cars that are not American. And I say to many –and not to all- because a trip in Havana (in the metropolitan area) in one of these cars costs between 10 and 20 non-convertible Cuban pesos.

Most of the persons who have to use public transportation because of their economic situation, must use the available buses whose numbers have increased, but are still not enough. However, the availability of “almendrones” [literally big almonds], as these private cars used for public transportation are called, contributes greatly to solve the transportation problem.

It is amazing to see the lines of almendrones, one after the other, along the main avenues in the city such as Avenidas 51, 41, 31 and 3ra in Marianao and Playa, Línea or 23 in Plaza, or Calle Neptuno in Centro Habana picking up passengers and performing dangerous maneuvers against traffic regulations. It looks as if all the old American cars in the Island are running as public transport along the streets of Havana. It is a good business that of almendrones!

Gastronomy seems good business as well. There are small places that require little investment with a counter or table to serve their products; some with a little electric oven or toaster. These are in home porches, building entrances, garages of houses or buildings, or inside houses that serve food from an enlarged window. They sell ham or ham and cheese sandwiches, omelets in bread –the omelet could be of plain eggs or with added onion, ham, cheese or combinations of these. Among these places there are many that sell Cuban pizzas or Cuban food. The Cuban menu and pizzas have been available for a longer while, but are more numerous now.

And ranking above these basic places there are others -better and larger- that are considered cafeterias, some with a few tables and chairs and others that also have a bar counter and tall chairs. These places vary in decoration, some are quite rustic, but others are rather elegant. The cafeterias offer different sandwiches and hamburgers, pizzas and even more sophisticated dishes.

And higher up in this gastronomic chain are the paladares and private restaurants that specialize in different cuisines or menus; from the budget places to the expensive and the very expensive.

Another visible change in Havana these days is in construction, or rather the repair, remodeling and enlarging of homes. The new laws related to the buying and selling of houses and the new regulations to facilitate the legal procedures to repair or enlarge houses have fueled these processes.

It is very encouraging to see how –not only in the areas where the best houses in the city are located, supposedly the places where the owners with more money reside, but practically in every neighborhood in the capital city- so many people are involved in the improvement of their houses.

And these activities have stimulated the creation of places where building materials are sold, including more materials and parts related to these works in the hardware stores of the State commercial network, and specially a proliferation of small kiosks that sell plumbing appliances of great demand.

In future articles I will be dealing with these issues, because they are important to see how our country is at the moment in the midst of a positive process of change that, even with its problems, makes life more productive and pleasant to our people in the Island.//

Sobre algunos de los cambios en Cuba

15 de febrero de 2013 Andrés Gómez, director de Areítodigital

Miami.- Recientemente regresé de La Habana después de estar varias semanas en esa querida ciudad. Mucho cambia en La Habana, como mucho también cambia en el resto de la Isla, como consecuencia de las nuevas medidas económicas que han entrado en efecto en el país.

Claramente los cambios son positivos. Se hacen evidentes nuevas fuerzas emprendedoras posibilitadas por las nuevas leyes, directrices y reglamentos. Entre los cambios que más se hacen obvios están los relacionados al transporte, la gastronomía y a la construcción. Como también, y más importantemente, es indudable el dinero disponible en la población en general.

Lo del dinero disponible en la población en general posibilita el resto de los cambios que tienen lugar y de los cuales hoy trataré sobre los tres anteriormente señalados. Quizás sea porque no soy economista, pero realmente no entiendo, cómo con el nivel de los sueldos que percibe la inmensa mayoría de las trabajadoras y trabajadores cubanos puedan gastar muchos de ellos tanto dinero en adquirir tantas cosas. Entiendo que hay sectores relacionados a los nuevos negocios que tienen más poder adquisitivo. Pero me es muy difícil creer que haya tantas personas relacionadas a estos nuevos negocios como las que se ven gastando dinero en las calles y comprando en los establecimientos comerciales de la ciudad. Para mí esta situación sigue siendo un enigma. Aunque es un misterio que percibo con regocijo porque la gente lo disfruta y se beneficia. Ya tendré tiempo para entenderlo.

El transporte en la capital ha mejorado notablemente y no porque el gobierno haya adquirido muchos más autobuses sino porque el sector privado ha puesto a disposición de muchos los viejos automóviles americanos, al menos sus carrocerías, ya que estos carros funcionan con motores y piezas de carros que no son americanos. Digo a disposición de muchos –y no de todos– ya que un viajecito en La Habana en estos carros, y cuando digo en La Habana, incluyo toda el área metropolitana, oscila entre los $10 y $20 pesos moneda nacional no convertible.

La mayoría de la gente que tiene que utilizar transporte público, por necesidad económica, tiene que recurrir a los autobuses disponibles, que han aumentado en número, pero siguen siendo insuficientes. Aunque la disponibilidad de los almendrones, como son conocidos los carros privados que se utilizan en el transporte público, alivia notablemente el problema de ese transporte.

Es increíble ver las hileras de almendrones, uno detrás de otro, por las vías principales de la ciudad como pudieran ser las Avenidas 51, 41, 31 y 3ra en Marianao y Playa, Línea o 23 en Plaza, o la Calle Neptuno en Centro Habana, recogiendo pasajeros, en peligrosos despliegues de paragüería. Tal perece que todos los viejos carros americanos de la Isla corren en estos tiempos como carros públicos por las calles de La Habana. Es un buen negocio el de los almendrones.

Como tal parece ser que un buen negocio también es el de los establecimientos relacionados con la gastronomía. Estos pudieran ser pequeños lugares, que requieren poca inversión, con una tabla o mesa para despachar, algunos con hornitos o planchas eléctricas, que se encuentran en portales de viviendas, entradas de edificios o entradas de garajes de casas y edificios, o dentro de viviendas en las que se despacha por las ventanas ampliadas de las viviendas. Estos pudieran vender panes con jamón, con jamón y queso, panes con tortilla — la tortilla pudiera ser de huevos solamente o de huevos con cebolla, con jamón, queso y sus combinaciones. También hay entre este tipo de establecimientos los que se dedican a la venta de pizzas, pizzas cubanas, o de comida criolla. Este último menú así como el de la venta de pizzas tienen más tiempo de existencia, aunque ahora proliferan.

Y partiendo de este tipo básico de establecimiento hay otros mejores o más amplios que son considerados cafeterías que pudieran ser de los más básicos con algunas mesitas con sillas, hasta otros que, además de las mesitas, tienen mostrador con banquetas. Estos están montados desde de una manera rústica a otros que están muy bien puestos. Estas cafeterías pueden ofertar diferentes tipos de bocaditos y hamburguesas, pizzas, hasta platos más sofisticados.

Y entonces están los paladares y restaurantes privados especializándose en diferentes tipos de cocinas o menús. Desde los que son más económicos hasta los que son caros, bien caros.

Otro cambio que se hace evidente en estos tiempos en La Habana es el de la construcción, o más bien, el de remozar, reparar y ampliar viviendas. Las nuevas leyes relacionadas a la venta y compra de viviendas y las nuevas regulaciones dirigidas a la agilización de los trámites relacionados a la reparación o ampliación de viviendas han dado impulso a estas necesidades.

Es muy estimulante ver cómo, no solamente en los barrios donde se encuentran las mejores viviendas de la ciudad –que es donde uno supone se encuentren los propietarios con más dinero disponible — sino en prácticamente todos los barrios de la capital muchos se han volcado a mejorar sus viviendas.

Y con estas actividades se ha impulsado la creación de lugares donde se venden materiales de la construcción, incluyendo más materiales y piezas relacionadas con estos trabajos en las propias ferreterías de las redes comerciales estatales, y muy especialmente la proliferación de los timbiriches donde se venden productos relacionados a la plomería, que tanta falta hacen.

Sobre estos asuntos trataré en próximos artículos ya que éstos son de importancia para representar a nuestro país como éste se encuentra actualmente en medio de un acertado proceso de cambios que, aunque con sus problemas, hace la vida más productiva y placentera a los nuestros en la Isla.//

Cuban Foreign Minister Named to Top Party Body

By DAMIEN CAVE

Cuba has elevated its foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, to the Communist Party’s Political Bureau, where he will join a handful of other senior leaders who are a generation younger than Fidel and Raúl Castro. Mr. Rodríguez, 54, is a former military officer, law professor and ambassador to the United Nations. He became the foreign minister in 2009. Known for his command of English and his loyalty to the Castros, he delivered a speech last month to the United Nations criticizing President Obama for failing to advance United States-Cuba relations despite the president’s promise to “launch a new chapter of engagement.”

The announcement about his rise to the Political Bureau in Granma,Cuba’s state-run newspaper, did not say whether he was replacing one of the 14 current members of the Political Bureau, nor did it signal whether Mr. Rodríguez was being considered as a successor to Raúl Castro, 81. But it did describe the move as part of a generational transition, and as a necessary break from what it called a “blockade of thinking that still persists when the time comes to select and prepare young leaders.”

Cuba convicts 12 of corruption in nickel industry

Cuba convicts ex-officials, workers at joint Canadian nickel concern in corruption probe

By Peter Orsi, Associated Press | Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) — A Cuban court has convicted a dozen people of corruption, including high-ranking government officials, an executive at a state-run nickel company and workers from a project operating under a Cuban-Canadian joint concern, official media announced Tuesday.

In a case involving a contract for the expansion of the Pedro Soto Alba nickel and cobalt processing plant at the Moa mine, the sentences range from four to 12 years, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported.

The court in the eastern province of Holguin took into account “the gravity of these acts and their harmful consequences in one of the strategic activities for the nation’s economy, and the conduct of the accused, characterized by the loss of ethical values and deception,” the bulletin read.

The announcement was the first official confirmation of a probe that since last year has been the source of rumor and private discussion by diplomats on the island, part of a wider crackdown on graft that has caught up several foreigners and sent a chill through the small foreign business community.

The stiffest prison terms were handed down to Alfredo Rafael Zayas Lopez (12 years), Ricardo Gonzalez Sanchez (10 years) and Antonio Orizon de los Reyes Bermudez (eight years), all former vice ministers at the Ministry of Basic Industry, which oversees nickel production.

Cristobal de la Caridad Saavedra Montero, business director of state-run Cubaniquel, was given six years.

Accounting executive Alfredo Barallobre Rodriguez and deputy production director Orlando Carmenaty Olmo of Empresa Moa Nickel SA.

The Moa Joint Venture that controls the mining operation is operated in tandem by Cuba and Toronto-based mining company Sherritt International Corp., were sentenced to six and five years, respectively.

Sherritt representatives did not immediately reply to phone and email messages seeking comment.

Moa currently produces 37,000 tons of nickel and cobalt per year, according to Sherritt’s website.

Six other people also were sentenced. All can appeal.

Two foreign business executives told The Associated Press in November that the same probe had led to the shuttering of Canadian companies Tri-Star Caribbean and Tokmakjian Group as well as the investment firm Coral Capital Group, headed up a Briton.

Two Canadians and a Czech who were reportedly detained in the case were not listed Tuesday among those convicted.

Nickel production is one of Cuba’s main sources of foreign income, along with tourism. In April a senior government official said the mineral accounted for 30 percent of exports in 2011, which would put nickel revenues at $1.8 billion for the year based on recently released overall export figures.

Cuba convicts 12 of corruption in nickel industry

U.S. still says Cuba on its list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism”

PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
315 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016 (212) 689-7215, FAX (212) 689-9073

PRESS RELEASE

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA

On July 31st, the U.S. State Department once again included Cuba on its arbitrary, unilateral list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism.”

Yet again, the only reason Cuba is kept on this list is exposed as an attempt to justify the U.S. blockade of our country, as well as the adoption of new measures to limit our financial and commercial transactions, to strangle the Cuban economy and impose a regime which responds to U.S. interests.

On this occasion, the U.S. government attempts to sustain this discredited exercise with a new, slanderous accusation as to the supposed failure of Cuba’s banking system to take measures to confront money laundering and financial transactions linked to terrorism.

With this tall tale the United States hopes to conceal the fact that Cuba regularly provides precise, truthful information to the appropriate United Nations bodies charged with addressing these issues and others related to confronting terrorism. The U.S. blatantly ignores the Cuban government’s repeated proposals, made again as recently as February, 2012, to agree upon a bilateral program to confront terrorism. The U.S. government has not responded.

The United States does not have any moral authority whatsoever to judge us. It is widely known that the U.S. government has used state terrorism as a weapon in its policy toward Cuba, causing 3,478 deaths and 2,099 permanent injuries and has harbored, over time, dozens of terrorists, some of whom live freely within the country, while Cuba’s five anti-terrorist fighters remain unjustly imprisoned or detained. The U.S. is also the principal center of money laundering on the planet and the lack of regulation of its financial system detonated the current global economic crisis.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs forcefully rejects the manipulation of an issue as sensitive as terrorism for such narrow political ends against Cuba and demands that the U.S. government stop lying and put an end to this shameful practice which offends the Cuban people and discredits international efforts in the struggle against terrorism.

Havana, August 1st, 2012

U.S. still says Cuba on its list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism”

Tribute to Barrón


On July 24, 2012, a tribute to our compañero Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón was held in Havana for his valiant service to the Revolution and to his homeland, Cuba. Our compañero was awarded the Friendship Medal. This acknowledgement was presented to him by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and was certified by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and its President, the Honorable Raúl Castro Ruz.

The hot, tropical summer afternoon was no impediment for his friends and comrades in struggle, which included representatives of the revolutionary government, to gather in honor of Barrón. The celebration was led by Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada. Also present were the Ambassador of Cuba to the United Nations, Pedro Núñez Mosquera, comrade Rafael Dauza, who represented the Minister of Foreign Relations, Kenia Serrano, President of the ICAP, the Executive Board of Casa de las Américas, and Andrés Morejón and Esperanza Luzbert, officials of the ICAP who had the task of organizing this auspicious event. The proclamation was read by Esperanza Luzberty. In a moment of great honor, Alarcón decorated Barrón with his deserved medal, which he placed on Barrón’s guayabera, over his heart. As soon as the medal was pinned, the audience erupted in thunderous applause.

What follows is a brief explanation of the reasons for which this distinction was given to our beloved Barrón. Compañero Barrón tells us that the motivation to involve himself fully in the struggle to eradicate from Cuba Fulgencio Batista’s bloody dictatorship was the failed attempt during the attack on the Moncada Barracks by that valiant group of Cuban patriots, led by Fidel Castro on July 26, 1953. With close attention and with great pain, Barrón followed the infamous trial and the conditions of imprisonment to which Fidel and the other survivors of that heroic endeavor were subjected by the bloodthirsty Batista regime.

International pressure and the criticisms of the atrocities committed by the henchmen of Batista against the prisoners of that heroic deed resulted in the freedom of Fidel and the other imprisoned comrades. Fidel went abroad and in Mexico, he began to organize Cubans in the Diaspora. It was at that time that a group of young Cubans from the committee of the Orthodox Party of Cuba in New York, led by Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón, made contact with Fidel and asked that he visit them in that city. Fidel accepts the invitation and travels from Mexico to Texas and continuing by train to New York City, arriving on October 15, 1955. He was received by the members of the Committee of the Orthodox Party.

Gloria Goenaga and Arnaldo Barrón welcomed Fidel into their home for the 15 days he was in New York City. During his stay, Fidel commits all his efforts toward organizing the different sectors of the Cuban Diaspora in order to unite them into one organization. On October 28, 1955, the July 26 Movement is established in the United States, and was led by comrade Arnaldo Goenaga Barrón.

Members of the July 26Movement in the United States, including those who are no longer with us, knew how to valiantly respond to the call of the homeland and dedicate their lives to the ultimate expression of the apostle Jose Martí who tells us that, “The genuine person does not look toward what side lives better but rather on which side his duty lies.”

Who better than the President of Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, to elaborate upon these magnificent individuals? Alarcón, in an emotional and eloquent dissertation about Barrón at the ceremony, spoke precisely and clearly about the revolutionary history of these anonymous heroes of the Revolution. Alarcón declared that if anyone deserved the recognition being given, it was Arnaldo Barrón, saying: “At the very least we can give him that distinction today and with how many more could we express the gratitude that we Cubans should have toward this comrade who represents so many others who, in the ‘belly of the beast’ knew how to defend and maintain a living image of the homeland and live the revolutionary ideals?” What the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has done through the action of the ICAP has been simply to carry out an act of justice.

Further on, Alarcón forges a framework for the accomplishments and virtues of Arnaldo and his fellow Movement comrades. He goes on to explain step by step the most daring moments of the revolutionary struggles in which those tireless Cuban fighters participated, under the leadership of our beloved Barrón. Alarcón next addresses those present in order to point out that “I have allowed myself to speak these words on this occasion to tell those who did not know him, that what we have here is a living and inseparable part of what is best in the Cuban revolutionary struggle. And in all those years that Arnaldo was not here in his homeland, he was there struggling for his homeland every second and for his people. He had to wage a little known and very hidden struggle in order to gather arms and organize actions, and he had to do this confronted with groups that were in opposition to the revolutionary process.”

“Martí said that to honor, honors, but to honor is also a duty of gratitude for those whom should never be forgotten. If we have come this far in this prolonged struggle it is because many people sacrificed their lives along the way and among these is comrade Barrón.”

In conclusion, the history of the Cuban Revolution is incomplete without the inclusion of the activities that occurred in the Cuban Diaspora in the United States and its struggles and sacrifices against the Batista dictatorship and in defense of the Revolution. We have presented here some of the actions that took place in the struggle during those times. The history of the July 26 Movement in the United States encompasses many more activities and actions unknown by many. Casa de las Américas has taken up the task of compiling and documenting everything that is relevant to that incredible history so that it may be known in the future as a gift for those who today struggle for social justice and the rights of the peoples to genuine independence. To honor the memory of all those who with so much valor and sacrifice knew how to raise the banner of the Cuban homeland on high, without caring about the risks that this entails, is our patriotic duty.

¡Viva Arnaldo Barrón, Viva Gloria Goenaga!

Eternal glory to the Fallen of our glorious revolution!
Casa de las Américas

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today-Part Two

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy

By Ike Nahem

Part II: Triumph and Reaction

The Triumph of the Cuban Revolution

On January 1, 1959 Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, swept into power and established a provisional revolutionary government across the length of the island, overthrowing the exceedingly venal, military regime of Fulgencio Batista. The revolutionaries (including such remarkable figures as Juan Almeida, Raul Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara, Armando Hart, Celia Sanchez, and, Haydee Santamaria) marched into Havana culminating a three-year campaign that combined rural guerrilla war with a vast urban revolutionary underground. The revolutionary struggle was led by a highly disciplined, politically centralized combat organization, the July 26th Movement. Drawing behind it the support and sympathy of the vast majority of the Cuban population, and with a dedicated, self-sacrificing young cadre of men and women at its core, the Cuban revolutionaries wore down, demoralized, and defeated the neocolonial Cuban army, which vastly outnumbered them – at least on paper – in troops, military equipment, and firepower, courtesy of the United States government.

The military dictator Batista, backed by Washington almost to the bitter end, fled to the Dominican Republic while many of the personnel in his vast machinery of repression and pillage escaped to Miami with their loot.  It was an astonishing turn of events that captured the imagination of the world. (The great US film, The Godfather Part II, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, portrays the fall of Batista and the triumph of the July 26th Movement with an uncanny verisimilitude via the prism of Batista’s alliance with US Mafia families.)

Justice

Upon arriving in Havana and consolidating revolutionary power, the provisional government quickly moved to dissolve what remained, after the revolutionary war, of the police, army, and courts of the neocolonial Cuban state.  With enthusiastic mass participation, armed bodies of workers, peasants, and youth were established. These became the nucleus of a new National Revolutionary Police Force, and, alongside the veteran guerrilla commanders and troops, the new Revolutionary Armed Forces. Tribunals were established in response to mass demands for justice for the killers, torturers, and thugs of the Batista dictatorship (over 20,000 Cubans were murdered by Batista’s cops, goons, and death squads during the revolutionary struggle), and also to counter the unchecked, spontaneous retributions carried out in the streets. The tribunals prepared the foundations of a new judicial system.

(In my 2007 essay “Our Che” http://www.zcommunications.org/our-che-by-ike-nahem, I wrote, “Che [Guevara] was assigned the task of establishing a just and fair, but also transparent and certain, [system] to bring the process under revolutionary control, ensuring due process, defense lawyers, and fair proceedings. This was done in an exemplary way. Popular, public tribunals were organized. Volumes of public testimony were given, with horrific testimony of the most vile tortures and bestial murder recorded and made public. Some 200 of the worst torturers and murderers of the US-backed Batista tyranny were shot by firing squads. No one has ever offered a shred of evidence that anyone innocent was executed. Whatever one’s opinion of the death sentences that were implemented, backed by the great majority of the population, no one can say, or has ever shown, that the guilt of those executed was not established beyond the shadow of a doubt. Batista’s cops and thugs were, after all, known to all. In their glory days, prior to the revolutionary victory, those brought to justice strutted their power and brutality over what they thought would be forever helpless victims; they never dreamed they would face their victims and their victim’s families in a legal proceeding.

“This process of bringing to justice the worst criminals of the hated Batista regime led to an orgy of hypocrisy and phony moral outrage in the big-business press and among Democratic and Republican politicians in the United States. The highly orchestrated propaganda campaign was the pretext for turning public opinion, which had been very sympathetic to Fidel Castro and the rebel cause, against the Cuban Revolution as radical social reforms began to be implemented which affected US business interests and US economic and financial domination of the island…Washington and the big-business media’s crocodile tears for Batista’s torturers and murderers stands in sharp contrast to their approval or silence towards the mountains of corpses piled up by US-backed military regimes and death squads in Latin America and the Caribbean before and especially after the Cuban Revolution from Trujillo and Somoza to Pinochet and the Argentine generals.”)

All of these developments planted the seeds of a new state, with a distinct working class character. The new personnel staffing governmental and state bodies registered the social ascendancy of the formerly oppressed classes: the working people of the city and countryside, as well as Afro-Cubans, women, and youth. Gone was the old social order where the cops, army, courts, and prisons of the old, neocolonial Cuban state manifested the class rule of landlords, capitalists, gangsters, racists, and the super-exploiters of women.

Despite warnings, pressures, and threats from Washington, the Cuban revolutionaries began to implement economic and social measures that came up against, and impacted adversely on, the economic domination of US monopoly capital on the island. These measures included rent and utility cost reductions and the closing and expropriation of Havana’s vast organized-crime enterprises from casinos to brothels.

Agrarian Reform

But front and center was the radical land reform and distribution that both greatly expanded small, private holdings for family farming, and liberated the large, seasonally employed, and particularly oppressed agricultural workforce that was permanently in debt to Cuba’s latifundia. (The Rebel Army had implemented rudimentary land reforms and social policies such as organizing schools and clinics in the territories liberated during the armed struggle.) The “Law on Agrarian Reform” broke the social domination and political power of Cuba’s landlord class and included vast US holdings. The law stipulated that sugar plantations could not be under foreign ownership.

The agrarian reform was at the center of the social and economic transformations heralded by the Revolution. Deliberations to codify in law, and implement in practice, a comprehensive agrarian reform began within the central July 26th Movement leadership almost immediately after the military victory and the establishment of the provisional government. The most profound direction and input came from contributions and collaboration between Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The agrarian reform was seen as the necessary foundation and catalyst for Cuba’s industrial development.
Che Guevara gave a major speech less than a month after the January 1, 1959 seizure of power in Havana indicating the centrality of land reform to the program of the revolutionary government:

“[S]ince the revolution’s triumph, [the peasants] have earned the right to freedom. They can use that freedom to…move forward, backed by law, to a true and broad agrarian reform.

“We have begun to put the Rebel Army’s social aims into effect; we have an armed democracy. When we plan out the agrarian reform and observe the new revolutionary laws to complement it and make it viable and immediate, we are aiming at social justice. This means the redistribution of land and also the creation of a vast internal market and crop diversification, two cardinal objectives of the revolutionary government that are inseparable and that cannot be postponed since they involve the people’s interest.

“All economic activities are connected. We must increase the country’s industrialization, without overlooking the many problems accompanying such a process. But a policy of encouraging industry demands certain tariff measures to protect nascent industry, as well as an internal market capable of absorbing the new commodities. We cannot increase this market except by giving the great peasant masses broader access to it. Although the guajiros have no purchasing power, they do have necessities to meet, things they cannot purchase today.

“We are well aware that the ends we are committed to demand an enormous responsibility on our part, and we know that these are not the only goals. We must expect a reaction against us by those who control over 75 percent of our commercial trade and our market.”

(For the full speech click on http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43b/103.html)

To implement the Agrarian Reform Law, that is, the lever for the entire economic and social transformation of Cuba, the National Institute of Agrarian Reform was organized, with Fidel Castro as its President. Che Guevara was appointed head of the Department of Industrialization, with the central political and administrative responsibility within INRA, on October 8, 1959.
Che organized and trained an INRA militia of 100,000 which seized control of expropriated land, supervised distribution, and helped set up farm cooperatives. Nearly 500,000 acres of confiscated land was owned by US corporations. INRA, under Guevara’s direction, financed highway construction, built housing for peasants and farming cooperatives, and other industrial projects, including resorts for tourists.

Complementing these economic measures were a series of implemented radical policies and laws that fundamentally altered and transformed social relations on the island to the benefit of the oppressed and exploited overwhelming majority. These included the abolition of racist Jim Crow-style segregation and discrimination policies; huge blows against the oppression of women including the right to abortion, the establishment of day-care facilities, equality in pay, greater access to education and professional training, and the eradication of organized prostitution with job training for ex-prostitutes (It is estimated that one out of three women in Havana were super-exploited in the gangster-run “sex industry.”); a massive, successful campaign to wipe out illiteracy; and, particularly annoying to foreign and domestic big-business owners, progressive labor laws that greatly expanded labor union membership and facilitated struggles for higher wages and better working conditions.

These measures were not yet explicitly socialist; banking, manufacturing, and large-scale wholesale and retail distribution remained in private hands. However, the anti-capitalist tendency was clear and the encroachments on the prerogatives of domestic and foreign capital were intolerable to the ruling classes. Moreover, the evaporation of the old neo-colonial state and its repressive apparatus left a vacuum in political and social relations, into which stepped the highly radicalized, organized, and mobilized Cuban working people and youth led by the team around Fidel Castro. This was a leadership team of exceptional political and personal audacity and courage, who knew where they wanted to go and were not afraid of the dangers and consequences.

Washington Fights Back

The implementation of the land reform and the other measures described above set off alarms in Washington and could never be tolerated by the US ruling class. The US government as a whole was, above all, anxious that the victorious Cuban example would resonate in a Latin American soil fertile for revolutionary struggle and change.

Within months, and with an intensity that mounted exponentially, Washington, in the last two years of the Dwight Eisenhower Administration, set in motion bipartisan plans and programs to discredit, undermine, subvert, and destroy the Cuban Revolution. These included cutting off US markets for sugar and other Cuban products and refusing to refine Cuban oil, the first steps towards the generalized, sweeping economic sanctions that remain in force today.

Attempts at economic strangulation were complemented by more directly violent methods. Widespread terrorist violence and economic sabotage was directed by the CIA of the Eisenhower and (elected in 1960) John Kennedy Administrations, with their legions of recruited counter-revolutionary Cuban exiles.  Facing the US assault head on, the Cuban workers and peasants government sought and received military and economic assistance from the Soviet Union, Soviet-allied governments in Eastern Europe, and China. The Soviet government agreed, crucially, to buy Cuban sugar and refine Cuban oil.

Washington’s assault culminated in the April 1961 mercenary invasion defeated at the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron to the Cubans). The Cuban revolutionaries did not retreat under the withering violent assault, but instead directed and led a mobilized and armed citizenry in a conscious socialist revolution that was openly declared after Washington’s Bay of Pigs debacle. Capitalist property relations were overturned and private property in the means of production, finance, and large-scale wholesale distribution were abolished. By 1962, Cuba had become what Marxists call a “workers state.” That is, the old ruling landowning and capitalist classes were expropriated. Major industries and banking became nationalized state property, where conscious economic planning began to gain predominance over “market forces.”  Concurrently, a state monopoly over foreign trade was established. Decisively, this process would never have been possible without the prior dissolution of the old neocolonial state and its repressive apparatus, that is, its army, police, and judiciary.

Private enterprises directly tied to the officials and cronies of the Batista dictatorship, most of whom had fled Cuba, were expropriated without compensation. Others, including foreign capitalists, were compensated, in negotiations with them and their governments. The US capitalist monopolies, on the same page as the US government, rejected, with contempt, negotiations and compensation, fully expecting that “Castro” and Cuban sovereignty could not survive long facing Washington’s full-throated hostility.

None of this could have been driven through without the political class-consciousness and mass participation of the Cuban working class and its allies, who had to learn how to operate and manage the industry and finance that was now “public.” This radicalization and transformation developed under both the blows of the intensifying Washington-driven counter-revolutionary drive and the collective organization and consolidation of the revolutionary vanguard. This latter factor was inevitably accompanied by a class-political polarization and differentiation inside the July 26th Movement, as a more right-wing layer formed and organized in opposition to the radical measures outlined above.

The most prominent figure in this layer was the former Camaguey province guerrilla comandante Huber Matos. (Matos was in late-1959 convicted of treason and sedition for establishing links with counter-revolutionary armed groups connected to the CIA, sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, released in 1979, and lives in Miami today.) In actual fact the divisions and splits within the July 26th Movement, the forces that went over to the US-led counter-revolution, were relatively small in numbers and political significance, due to the great popularity and political authority of the Castro leadership. Nevertheless, the voices of those “democrats’ and “freedom fighters” who left the July 26th Movement were highly amplified with Washington’s giant megaphone at their disposal.

Not Aiming for a Third World “Welfare State”

What occurred in Cuba from 1959 to the beginning of 1962 was a dynamic process that went far beyond the most progressive and radical reforms and constitutional restructuring of existing state structures and juridical forms by progressive, populist, anti-imperialist, or left-wing governments in other national political upheavals.  There have been many examples, up to the present day, of such governments coming into power in Latin America (and other so-called Third World countries) through coups, mass struggles, or elections taking place under the institutions of the existing capitalist state which remain essentially in place and intact. In Cuba, on the contrary, the revolutionary government, which came to power in an armed struggle, pulverized the old state structures, starting with its repressive machinery of police, army, prisons, and courts, establishing entirely new institutions in social composition and political content.

Cuba’s socialist revolution did not aim for a better “welfare state” under a capitalist “mixed economy,” with benefits for the working people dependent on the vicissitudes of world capitalist markets dominated by the richest imperialist powers (Washington, London, Paris) under conditions of unequal exchange (that is, cheap prices for “Third World” export commodities and raw materials, high prices for “First World” finished products, machinery and technology). The Revolution fought rather to elevate the oppressed classes to political power and social predominance in the new state and forge entirely new social relations and new human beings. (Of course, the policies and practice of the Cuban Revolution in “social welfare” categories of medical-care access, education, pensions, maternity benefits, and so on are unsurpassed in any capitalist Third World country and even in many rich, advanced capitalist powers, who are all, in any case,  working today to gut such conquests of past working-class struggles. But in Cuba such measures are not seen as “welfare,” but as the inherent rights and prerogatives of the working class.)

Internationalists in Power

Cuban revolutionary theory and practice was animated by a strong anti-bureaucratism articulated in the speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, that was bound together by a profound internationalist spirit of solidarity. This entire perspective and outlook was a return to – and spurred the revival of in a new generation of revolutionary-minded youth – a creative, and human-being centered, Marxism after decades of stultification and dogma in theory, as well as horrible crimes and betrayals in its name in practice, by the government led by Joseph Stalin and his acolytes in the Soviet Union and the so-called “socialist camp.” (See especially Socialism and Man in Cuba by Che Guevara, Pathfinder Press edition and Fidel Castro’s 1962 speech on sectarianism and bureaucracy http://www.walterlippmann.com/fc-03-26-1962.html)

The consolidation of the Cuban Revolution as a workers state meant that for the first time since the opening years of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, revolutionary internationalists were in the leadership of a workers state. They not only held domestic power but, in their foreign policy, had the political perspective of extending the Revolution and using the political authority and material resources of the workers state – within the limits of the possible – to collaborate with and aid fellow revolutionists. In the case of the Cuban revolutionaries this primarily meant in the arena of Latin America, which was in a state of permanent political turmoil and intensifying class struggle under conditions of massive poverty, social inequality, and foreign, mainly US, economic and political domination. Since the 1898 Spanish-American War, which marked the origins of the modern American Empire, Washington engaged in frequent overt and covert violent invasions, interventions, and subversion across the Americas, over the subsequent decades (for a comprehensive list of US interventions in the Americas since 1898 click below http://www.zompist.com/latam.html).

(US interventionist policy has continued into the 21st Century, albeit with more political limitations and counter-pressures …and less success. The US-backed April 11, 2002 military coup against Hugo Chavez’s anti-imperialist government in Venezuela was reversed and defeated following massive demonstrations in support of Chavez. In September 2008 ultraright forces in Bolivia, backed covertly by Washington, attempts to split the country on regional lines and bring down the government of President Evo Morales. The big-business and large landowning-led forces were centered in oil and gas producing regions and furiously opposed Morales’s progressive policies of nationalizing Bolivian vast mineral, oil, and gas resources, promoting the interests of Bolivia’s indigenous Indian majority, and his close alliances with Cuba and Venezuela. This all failed ignominiously.)

On February 4, 1962, Fidel Castro read the “Second Declaration of Havana” to a crowd of one million in Havana’s Revolution Square. The manifesto, drawn up by the Cuban leadership, was essentially a call for revolutionary struggle against US imperialism and the dependent capitalist-oligarchic order extant across the Americas. World politics had seen nothing like this language, backed up with action, since the Bolshevik team around V.I. Lenin and the Communist International they founded, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the end of the inter-imperialist bloodletting of World War I:

“What is Cuba’s history but that of Latin America? What is the history of Latin America but the history of Asia, Africa, and Oceania? And what is the history of all these peoples but the history of the cruelest exploitation of the world by imperialism?

At the end of the last century and the beginning of the present, a handful of economically developed nations had divided the world among themselves subjecting two thirds of humanity to their economic and political domination Humanity was forced to work for the dominating classes of the group of nations which had a developed capitalist economy.

The historic circumstances which permitted certain European countries and the United States of North America to attain a high industrial development level put them in a position which enabled them to subject and exploit the rest of the world. What motives lay behind this expansion of the industrial powers? Were they moral, “civilizing” reasons, as they claimed? No. Their motives were economic…

Wherever roads are closed to the peoples, where repression of workers and peasants is fierce, where the domination of Yankee monopolies is strongest, the first and most important lesson is to understand that it is neither just nor correct to divert the peoples with the vain and fanciful illusion that the dominant classes can be uprooted by legal means which do not and will not exist. The ruling classes are entrenched in all positions of state power. They monopolize the teaching field. They dominate all means of mass communication. They have infinite financial resources. Theirs is a power which the monopolies and the ruling few will defend by blood and fire with the strength of their police and their armies.

The duty of every revolutionary is to make revolution. (From The Second Declaration of Havana, Pathfinder Press edition)

The Cuban revolutionaries also supported revolutionary armed struggle in Algeria against French colonialism and in the Congo against the pro-imperialist neocolonial regime there that had come to power after the assassination of the Congolese freedom fighter and first President of an independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba.

Confrontation

These incredible events on a small Spanish-speaking Caribbean island shook up world politics. Not only did Cuba establish relations of economic and military alliance with the Soviet Union and the “Warsaw Pact” governments and states, but, much more significantly, revolutionary Cuba in the 1960s became the political and organizing center across the Americas for revolutionary struggle against US domination and the rule of the oligarchies – two things that were hand in glove.

This was an obvious challenge to US policymakers. If Havana became the Mecca for revolutionaries across Latin America, Miami became the counter-Mecca for those tied to the existing oligarchic order that was becoming unglued, a process accelerated by the presence and impact and of the Cuban Revolution. In the early years after the triumph of the Revolution, the CIA set up in Miami the largest base operation in its history. Daily operations were spun and run into Cuba involving plans for sabotage, terrorism, assassination, and so on. Organized, trained, funded, and directed from Washington, the operatives – by and large – were Cuban exiles. Thousands of Cuban citizens lost their lives as result of such actions over the years.

Many millions of dollars, and no doubt hundreds of personnel hired, were spent on so-called “psychological-warfare operations” (psy-ops) to spread “disinformation” and “misinformation” – that is, LIES – in the form of gossip, innuendo, and rumors made up out of whole cloth, on the theory that if you throw enough bullshit against a wall, some is bound to stick.

The modus operandi in the CIA’s factories of falsification were the spreading of conspiracy theories fabricated to cause confusion and, hopefully, cause divisions and splits in the revolutionary leadership. Among the most notorious lies spread far and wide:

Revolutionary hero Camilo Cienfuegos didn’t really die in a plane crash after a mission to counter anti-revolutionary activity centered around Huber Matos in Camaguey, but was actually killed by Fidel Castro. Che Guevara did not really go out of public view to organize anti-imperialist struggles in Africa and Latin America, but was actually imprisoned and even killed by Fidel Castro. (When that Big Lie was no longer operative, the new mendacity was that Fidel refused to “rescue” Che in Bolivia and “allowed” him to die, still peddled to this day.)

(Former CIA operatives like the ubiquitous Brian Latell, a top figure for decades on the CIA’s “Cuba desk,” has recently resurfaced to peddle the lie that Fidel Castro knew beforehand that President John Kennedy was going to be assassinated. As they say, old habits are hard to break and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In the end, however, the ability to find a platform to spew lies and half-truths, is, for the Latells of the world, a small consolation prize that hardly makes up for the fact that their life’s work of destroying the Cuban Revolution, despite all their ingenious, inventive, creative lying has been a shameful, spectacular bust.)

The role of the defeated Cuban businessmen, landowners, branch managers of US corporations, and gangsters was strictly to help “Uncle Sam” and do what they were told. It is laughable to think that these defeated bumblers would be calling the shots politically or in any other way. But that is not to say that, like most clients and lackeys, the defeated remnants of the old Cuban ruling class did not chafe at their dependent position and the limits placed on their freedom of action. In fact they were very resentful and sought to leverage their position and knowledge to maneuver within the framework of internal, tactical Washington divisions, to take relatively independent initiatives. For example, over the years, CIA-trained operatives like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles have “independently” carried out terrorist activities that were not under the concrete direction of the CIA and the US government, such as the blowing up of Cuban Flight 455 in October 1976 that departed from Barbados, killing all 73 people onboard. Bosch died in 2011 having been allowed to live unencumbered in the US since 1990 by decisions of the George Bush, Senior (the director of the CIA during Bosch’s most “productive” terrorist period) White House. Posada Carriles remains a free man in Miami today.  And the US State Department has the temerity to put Cuba on a list of “nations supporting terrorism!”

Recriminations

The policy of overturning and destroying the “Castro revolution” was a unanimous one across the board in Washington, uniting Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. This was true despite the tactical divergences which naturally emerged. These differences actually led to recriminations among top US politicians and policymakers – and their media and academic clones – which became quite vicious at times, especially in the period after the CIA-trained mercenary army was crushed at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. “Who Lost Cuba?” cried the US right wing. President Kennedy was blamed for the Bay of Pigs humiliation because he held back as the debacle unfolded from unleashing direct US bombing of the island. (Legions of conspiracy theorists, on the basis of these recriminations, concocted a plausible factoid asserting that “rouge” elements of the CIA using “embittered” Cuban exiles were behind Kennedy’s November 1963 assassination. This is backed up by the false assertion that Kennedy was seeking a “rapprochement” with the Cuban government, and, with even flimsier evidence, that he was planning to abort US intervention in Vietnam. Not a few novels and films, some even brilliantly done, have come out of these fantastic conspiracies. See James Ellroy’s American Tabloid, Don DeLillo’s Libra, and Oliver Stone’s film JFK.)

Kennedy chose – no doubt wisely and prudently given the overall situation at hand – to cut US losses rather than double down on what was a real-time Washington political and military disaster. In making the choice to retreat and concede the defeat of the mercenary forces, Kennedy understood fully that the Cuban people had become armed to the teeth and were full of revolutionary enthusiasm and fighting will. The political consequences of dropping bombs on Cuban territory, after the defeat of an operation the US government had been claiming publicly it had nothing to do with, would certainly have been politically and militarily catastrophic for Washington. Who knows how many tens of thousands of US troops would have been necessary to gain control of the island? What would have been the reaction in Latin American and world capitals to any sustained bombing of Cuban territory and cities? In the Soviet Union and China? Indeed, what would have been the reaction inside the United States, where a significant degree of sympathy with Cuba existed and where the mass Civil Rights Movement that was exploding across the South and North had many Black leaders and activists attracted to revolutionary Cuba and its sweeping anti-racist policies?

From the Bay of Pigs to the Missile Crisis

In any case, the Kennedy Administration chose to bow to a difficult reality, lick its wounds, emphasize that the origins of the scheme were with the previous Eisenhower Administration, and prepare for another round. It quickly established, under the direct leadership of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the infamous Operation Mongoose program of stepped-up anti-Castro propaganda and “psychological warfare,” economic sabotage, assassinations (literally hundreds of plots were hatched to murder Fidel Castro, which included collaborating with US Mafia families) and terrorism. All in preparation, and to lay the foundation for, the next round of a direct US invasion, without, this time, the “leading” wedge of the Cuban exile mercenaries.

It was these plans, and this dynamic, barely hidden and, in any case, fully known by the Cuban and Soviet governments, that led to the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” of October 1962.

Earlier that year Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev talked a reluctant Fidel Castro into allowing the installation of nuclear-tipped Soviet missiles on Cuban territory. Castro has said publicly that Khrushchev’s appeal was two-fold: first, as a defense against the US invasion of Cuba everyone knew was coming, and second, as an act of “socialist solidarity” with the Soviet Union, since US missiles were in Turkey, an equivalent distance from Soviet territory. Castro felt that he was not in a position to refuse, especially given the indispensable role of Soviet economic and military aid at that point in Cuba’s defense from Washington’s multi-front assault.

Nevertheless Castro strongly objected to the secret installation of the missiles. He felt this would inevitably be exposed – as of course it was – and would likely give Washington the moral high ground. Better to be upfront and declare the policy openly on the grounds of defense of Cuba and create political pressure for a mutual drawdown of missile deployments near each power’s land mass. But Castro’s advice and warnings were rejected, if not ignored altogether by the Soviet leadership. When US spy planes revealed the missile sites, and with more missiles en route on Soviet ships, Kennedy effectively took the political offensive.

Kennedy organized a naval quarantine of Cuba and threatened to confront Soviet naval vessels approaching Cuban waters. This sequence of events nearly led to direct US-Soviet military engagement and an invasion of Cuba by the United States, not to speak of devastating nuclear exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union and untold millions of deaths. The crisis was resolved when the Soviet leadership removed the nuclear weapons from Cuba and turned their ships back. In return, the Kennedy Administration agreed, in a secret protocol, to remove the US nuclear missiles from Turkey. The deal supposedly included an informal (that is, not written down and signed in a formal document) pledge that the United States would not directly invade Cuba.

US government documents declassified since the “Missile Crisis” reveal that Washington policymakers fully understood that a US invasion of Cuba would have met truly massive, popular resistance – the entire population was armed to the teeth and in a state of full territorial mobilization. The secret documents projected that the first days and weeks of an invasion would lead to 10,000 or more US casualties (in nearly ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, US combat deaths are under 7,000). It was this reality – as much as any supposed “statesman-like cool” – that restrained President Kennedy from ordering an invasion and negotiating, without the participation of the Cuban government, a mutually agreeable settlement with an equally anxious, and politically and diplomatically outmaneuvered, Soviet government which had overplayed its hand.

Relative US Failure

Washington failed in its intense efforts in this period to overturn the revolutionary Cuban government, destroy the Cuban workers state, and restore capitalist property relations and the neocolonial order on the island. That failure continues to this day and is often cited by Establishment dissenters as a reason to dump what is called an “ineffective” anti-Cuba policy. They fantasize that “engagement,” normalization, and the subsequent “exposure” to “American ideas” will actually undermine and do more to eventually defeat the Cuban Revolution than the US embargo, travel restrictions, and threats. This argument is usually accompanied by the assertion that “Castro” and the Cuban government actually want and need US hostility as an “excuse” to avoid “democracy,” “human rights,” blah-blah-blah, so as to divert and manipulate mass discontent. (Of course this is all complete and utter nonsense. The dominant consensus among US policymakers, and in this they are completely correct, is that any unilateral dropping of US sanctions without a Cuban surrender and capitulation would not only be a historic political victory for Cuba and humiliation for Washington. It would also be a tremendous boost to Cuba’s economic development and prosperity to have the legal ability to buy, sell, and trade in the US market. It would also create the conditions for rapid internal political relaxation and the further institutionalization of democratic rights and civil liberties. All of which would strengthen Cuban socialism and make it all the more attractive and resonant across the Americas and internationally.)

But Washington’s failure to defeat the Cuban Revolution is not the end, but more like the beginning of the question. The failure is relative and must be qualified, aside from the obvious price Cuba has paid, in blood and economic development, from US sanctions and hostility. That is, it must also be said that the US government and its allies in the Latin American oligarchies have been successful, for many decades, in the larger question of preventing the extension of the Cuban socialist revolution in the Americas. That “success” of course set up the nightmare decades in Latin America of brutal and murderous military-oligarchy rule.

The Nightmare Decades

In 1964 in Brazil, the progressive government of Joao Goulart, which favored friendly relations with Cuba, was overthrown and replaced with a military dictatorship backed by the US which last nearly 20 years; in September 1963 the Kennedy Administration’s CIA overthrew the elected left-wing government of Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, establishing a military junta. After a Constitucionalista uprising led by Colonel Francisco Caamano seized and held the capital of Santo Domingo, the Lyndon Johnson Administration ordered a US invasion in April 1965 which smashed the revolutionary process on the island in the name of preventing a “second Cuba”; in 1967 the revolutionary guerrillas led by Ernesto Che Guevara were defeated in Bolivia. Subsequent guerrilla movements inspired by the Cuban Revolution were also everywhere defeated; in June 1973 a military coup replaced a civilian dictatorship in Uruguay aimed at crushing the revolutionary Tupamaros movement and militant trade union and student organizations. Military dictatorship lasted twelve years until 1985 in Uruguay; in September 1973 the elected left-wing government of Salvador Allende in Chile was overthrown in a US-backed coup consolidating a murderous military regime that lasted 17 years; in 1976 the weak, elected Peronist government in Argentina was overthrown in a US-backed coup, ushering in vicious repression killing some 30,000, until the military regime collapsed after the Malvinas Islands war fiasco in 1982-83.

(For a number of years all of these military regimes established in the 1970s worked together, and, directly and indirectly, with US government intelligence agencies, in an international program of kidnapping, murder, and assassination called “Operation Condor.” (See The Condor Years by John Dinges, The New Press, 2004)

Washington succeeded in preventing the extension of the Cuban Revolution, and by the late-1970s Latin America was dominated by US-backed brutal military regimes upholding the naked rule of the oligarchies. But this rule was fragile and already beginning to unravel. A political earthquake shook Central America with the triumph of the Nicaraguan Revolution in July 1979 and the intertwined rise in revolutionary armed struggles in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala. A new reality and template for Washington’s policies in the Americas, and its confrontation with the Cuban Revolution, was set.  (Part III of this essay will take up Washington’s Central America bloodbath, the demise of the Nicaraguan Revolution, the rise and fall of the “Neoliberal” decade in Latin America, and the Cuban Revolution’s remarkable resistance and survival.)

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy – Part Two by Ike Nahem

Ike Nahem is a longtime anti-war, labor, and socialist activist. He is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York (cubasolidarityny@mindspring.com) and a founder of the New York-New Jersey July 26 Coalition (www.july26coalition.org). Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. These are his personal political opinions. Comments and criticisms can be sent to ikenahem@mindspring.com

 

Mariela Castro hopes Cuban-U.S. relations can normalize in Obama second term

Mariela Castro hopes Cuban-U.S. relations can normalize in Obama second term
By BYRON TAU |
6/2/12 2:19 PM EDT

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban head of state Raul Castro, said that she hoped Cuban-U.S. relations could normalize if President Obama wins a second term.

In a forthcoming interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour shared with POLITCO, Castro was asked about the possibilities for political reconciliation between the two Cold War adversaries in a possible Obama second term.

“I believe that Obama is a fair man and Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision. If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, then we can normalize the relationships; we can have better relations than what we had under President Carter,” Castro said.

Obama relaxed some of the rules governing travel and remittances to Cuba in 2009 but the sanctions regime put into place after Castro’s 1959 Communist takeover has largely kept American visitors and businesses off the island.

Castro also told Amanpour that she supports a second Obama term, given the field.

“As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win,” Castro said. “Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.”

The State Departmet recently issued Castro a visa to attend a conference in San Francisco — prompting outrage from conservatives who accused the Obama administration of going soft on a regime that abused human rights. Obama supporters, however, noted that the George W. Bush administration also granted Castro several visas to visit.

The issue of Cuban sanctions and the Castro family has some resonance in the heavily conservative anti-Castro Cuban exile community — mostly based in the battleground state of Florida.

Contemporary LGBT rights in Cuba with Mariela CASTRO‏

Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
PROGRAM LOCATIONS:
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018-2788

Fully accessible to wheelchairs
First come, first served – Seating is limited and will be first come first served.
Initial funding of the LGBT Initiative provided by Time Warner Inc.

Mariela Castro¡Saludos! Greetings!

The program with Mariela Castro and Rea Carey on May 29 is Sold Out!’ . . . and with all the negative publicity by the right it is important that those of us who did not get to register come out to show our support/solidarity with this important event.

Say ¡Presente! on May 29th! Bring your solidarity, flags, posters, etc. as we gather in front of the NYC Public Library.

Abrazos Solidarios,

Frank Velgara

 

In 2010 the Cuban government began providing sex reassignment surgery free of charge as part of their universal healthcare. This was the result of several years of work by the Cuban National Center for Sex Education under the leadership of Mariela Castro Espín, niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro. The current developments in LGBT rights in Cuba are remarkable given the discrimination suffered by gays, lesbians, and transgender people in Cuba in the 20th century, as well as comparison with current LGBT movements in the U.S. and abroad.

Please join us on Tuesday May 29th at 7pm in the Trustees Room of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building as Mariela Castro Espín and Rea Carey, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, discuss the current international context of LGBT rights, including issues of sexual identity and orientation in contemporary Cuba.

Mariela Castro Espín is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). She was President of the Cuban Society for the Multidisciplinary Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES) from 2000 to 2010. She is president of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Centre for the Study of Sexuality, president of the National Commission for Treatment of Disturbances of Gender Identity, member of the Direct Action Group for Preventing, Confronting, and Combatting AIDS, and an executive member of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). She is also the director of the journal Sexología y Sociedad, a magazine of Sexology edited by her own National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). She is the author of 9 books, published in Cuba and abroad, among them Transexuality in Cuba (Havana, CENESEX Publishing House, 2008). In 2009 she was awarded with the Public Service Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and in 2012 she received the Eureka Award for Academic Excellence, given by the World Council of University Academy (COMAU).She is married with 3 children.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is one of the most prominent leaders in the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement. Carey, who came to the Task Force in 2004 as deputy executive director, has served as executive director since 2008.  Through her leadership, Carey has advanced a vision of fairness and justice for LGBT people and their families that is broad, inclusive and unabashedly progressive. Prior to her work with the Task Force, Carey worked extensively in HIV/AIDS prevention and in the LGBT community as one of the co-founders of Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence and the founding executive director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. She has also served as an advisor to major donors and foundations, and has served on the advisory boards for such wide-ranging publications as Teen People magazine and the Georgetown University Journal of Gender and the Law. She serves on the Advisory Board of theLGBTQ Policy Journal, of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

Contemporary LGBT rights in Cuba with Mariela CASTRO‏

Spain Calls for End of US Embargo against Cuba

By EFE

Spain considers it “necessary to end the trade, economic and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States” since it “violates the basic rules of international trade,” the Spanish government said in response to a question posed in Parliament. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government was responding to a question posed last week in Parliament by United Left, or IU, spokesman Jose Luis Centella.The government’s written response noted that the U.S. embargo against Cuba “has been condemned on different occasions by the United Nations General Assembly.”

IU included the government’s written response in a statement.

Rajoy’s government also noted that Spain has “unequivocally” supported condemnations of the embargo at the U.N. and other forums.

Centella said he was satisfied with the government’s clear “and forceful” response, adding that he expected “greater activity” at the European Union and United Nations to end the embargo on the basis of “the international legality broken by the blockade.”

Freedom Ride for The Cuban Five

FREEDOM RIDE FOR THE CUBAN FIVE

 Download Flyer

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González, the Cuban 5, were arrested by the F.B.I. on “conspiracy” and other trumped-up charges.  The real reason for their imprisonment was that they infiltrated and gathered information on right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba by these groups.  The Cuban 5 have been imprisoned for more than 13 years – for defending the sovereignty of their homeland.  Join the international campaign to free them.  Demand that President Obama free them immediately.  Yes We Can!

The Freedom Ride for the Cuban 5 is part of the  “Solidarity Week for the Cuban 5” campaign in Washington, D.C., April 16-21, 2012, initiated  by The International Committee for the
Freedom of the Cuban 5.

Freedom Riders $5 – For The 5 (Round-Trip Cost)
Bring Lunch/Water Will Be Provided
Freedom Buses Leave @ 6am – Return: 4pm

For More Information, To Become A Sponsor, & Reserve Your Seat Today:
Tel. (917) 945-9877 – (718) 601-4751

INITIATORS/SPONSORS: El Puente, National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights-NYC Chapter, DC 37/AFSCME-Local 372, Casa de las Américas, July 26 Coalition,  Cuba Solidarity New York, Wives Without Rights Campaign, Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, Latin America  Democracy Committee, 1119/SEIU, and Occupy Harlem, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Venceremos Brigade, NYC Jericho Movement, Peoples’ Attorney Michael  Tariff Warren, NYC Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC), Fuerza de la Revolución Dominicana (FR/NY), The U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange,. National Network on Cuba (NNOC), La Mesa de Izquierda Dominicana, New Black Panther Party, Peoples Organization for Progress, Mesa Redonda Dominicana, Hartford Committee for Cuba, Bolivarian Circle –NY, Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Cuba In Focus/WBAI Radio, Fundación Andres Figueroa Cordero, Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, International Action Center (I.A.C.) and Workers’ World Party (WWP)

BELOW ARE THE BUS LOCATIONS.

El Barrio – East Harlem
106 St. and Lexington

The Bronx
Hostos Community College
149 St. and Grand Concourse

Washington Heights – Upper Manhattan
Port Authority Bus Terminal
179 St. and Broadway

Lower Manhattan (this bus is full)
DC 37
125 Barclay St.

 

Tel: 917 – 412 – 4451 Nancy C.

917 – 945 – 9877 Franklin F.

718 – 601 – 4751 Frank V.

COMING SOON!  SEPTEMBER 2012 – NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE! WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.

también en español