Tag Archives: United States

On July 17, Fidel Castro wrote “I only wish to express my solidarity with the heroic people who defend the last sliver remaining of what was their homeland for thousands of years.”

th-1Stand with Gaza
A Message from the
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

 

René Gonzáles S. “Dear Friends, Today David is Palestinian and Goliath is a Zionist”

We are all aware of the horrendous devastation in Gaza. As we write this, 797 Palestinians have been killed and 5,118 injured. The dead include 190 children and 75 women. With each day, the numbers grow. What is happening is truly genocide.

On July 8, the Cuban government issued the following statement:
“Cuba strongly condemns the latest Israeli aggression against the population of the Gaza Strip. Israel uses its military and technological superiority to implement a policy of collective punishment with a disproportionate use of force that causes loss of innocent civilian lives and massive property damage.

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Sign the Petition

“Karen Lee Wald”

This is what I received, asking us to sign a petition on a White House website, asking the White House “to open an honest dialog with the Cuban government to secure the release of American Operative Alan Gross” I thought it was a put-on. The message read:
The White House has put this petition on its website. It asks the US government to open a dialogue with Cuba for the release of Alan Gross. Your signature is needed. http://1.usa. gov/TyOtlG

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Open an honest dialog with the Cuba government to secure the release of American operative Alan Gross
Include potential prisoner exchanges, admissions of wrong doing, drop of the embargo as incentives to bring this man home. His employer owes it to him.

When I first received an email urging me to go to the White House site to sign a petition of this nature, I thought it was a spoof or a virus or something — that it couldn’t be serious. So I asked around, and received this explanation:
It’s part of an initiative by the WH to “listen to the people”. So anyone can go there and post a petition. I think in this case it was LAWG/WOLA/ETC. Then if 25,000 sign it within an allotted amount of time, it gets bumped up to a higher level and at some point the most popular petitions get accepted and read by whoever at White House is in charge of this program. Supposedly it is a way for people to organize and be heard by the administration and for the admin to know what is important to large groups of people. Which means we need to get the largest number of people possible to sign this petition, and soon.

Here’s an explanation about how to do it:
Dear friends:

Here is how the White House Petition works. You have to open an account with them first:

1- Click on the link that goes to the petition.

http://1.usa. gov/TyOtlG

2- There is a blue square that reads “Create an account”. Click on it.
3- Fill in the blanks on the form: e-mail address, name, last name and zip code (optional).
4- Read and type the gibberish they put below [“Captcha” –used on many sites to make sure you are a real person and not a spamming machine. That’s the hard part for me because I often don’t see them in my browser. I’m not sure what you can do if you have the same problem. klw]
5- Click again on the blue square at the bottom “Create an account”.
Take a quick break and go to your e-mail inbox. You are going to have a message from them to confirm that you are in fact a real person.
6- After the first paragraph there comes a long link. Click on it and you have already set up the account with them.
7- After that you have to go back to the original petition:

http://1.usa. gov/TyOtlG

8- Click on the blue square which says “Sign in” and then fill in the blanks and you are all set. You’ll be immediately notified that your name was registered.

I know this sounds like a lot of hassle, but believe me, people who really want to see improved relations between the two countries believe this could be a very effective tool to get the Administration’ s attention, so it’s worth doing. If you can’t do it right now, don’t delete it — put it in some folder you will go back to when you have the time (I have one like that called “Activities” ) and do it. But don’t wait too long.
Thanks,

Karen

Case of Alan Gross

(Originally posted by Cuba Central)

Dear Friends,

We report on a flurry of activity concerning the case of Alan Gross, just days before the third anniversary of his arrest in Cuba, an event marked at a press conference in Washington this morning by his wife Judy Gross, understandably disconsolate, with his lawyer, Jared Genser, by her side.

Together, they said the Obama administration had failed to pursue vigorous diplomacy sufficient to secure his release.  He feels “dumped and forgotten” by the U.S. government, Mrs. Gross said, like a soldier left to die.  The lawyer’s message to the U.S. government was also direct:  “You sent him there; you have an obligation to get him out.”

In fact, they laid blame at the feet of both governments for being obstacles to the settlement of his case.  They said the Cuban government, which publicly calls for direct negotiations to address his case and the captivity of the Cuban Five, was either unable or unwilling to talk.

But they also made a special point of noting that the Obama administration had actively sought and won the release of Americans imprisoned abroad, and said the administration should pick an envoy close to President Obama, with full White House support, to go to Cuba and negotiate Alan Gross’s release.

Significantly, they called his captivity an obstacle to improvements in U.S.-Cuba relations, and urged both parties to work for his release.  In saying so, they parted company with the most ardent embargo supporters, who warn the Obama administration not to negotiate for his release.

As Senator Bob Menendez said this week in an interview with the New York Times “I’m not into negotiating for someone who is clearly a hostage of the Cuban regime.” Judy Gross correctly diagnosed the hardliner’s position as a surefire recipe for continuing his captivity for years.  “He is a pawn of these very radical right-wing Cuba haters, for lack of a better word, who don’t want to see any changes happen, even to get Alan home.”

Mrs. Gross pled for her husband’s release on humanitarian grounds, and demanded access by doctors for an independent examination of a mass on his shoulder that the family believes could be cancerous.  For its part, the Cuban government released this week the results of a biopsy conducted October 24th, and an examination by a physician who is also ordained as a Rabbi, who concluded that the growth is not cancerous.

Two weeks ago, attorneys for the Gross family filed a law suit against the U.S. government and his employer, the USAID contractor DAI, seeking $60 million in damages.  In the complaint available here, they concede that his activities were “to promote (a) successful democratic transition” in Cuba and that when he was at risk of detection by Cuban authorities, USAID failed to comply with provisions of the “Counterintelligence Manual” to save him before his arrest.

Mr. Gross knew of the dangers associated with his activities in Cuba, writing in one of the trip reports filed with his employer under the USAID contract, “In no uncertain terms, this is very risky business.”

In light of these facts, it is hard to understand why his legal representatives still argue that all he was doing in Cuba was trying to improve Internet access for the Jewish community.  This benign explanation was long ago overtaken by the facts.

Even so, it is a position that remains front and center in the U.S. State Department’s talking points.  Victoria Nuland, the department’s Spokesperson, responded to a reporter who asked about the Gross case, by saying:

But again, just to remind that this is a guy who’s been incarcerated for no reason for three years and ought to come home. Alan Gross was given a 15-year prison term simply for the supposed crime of helping the Jewish community of Cuba communicate with the outside world.

Old tropes die hard, especially when the U.S. government decides we can’t handle the truth.  This failure to concede why Mr. Gross was arrested and convicted not only contributes to the lack of movement in his case, but is especially alarming now that we know the Obama administration is doubling down on the program that led to his arrest.

As Tracey Eaton reports in Along the Malecón, the U.S. government “The U.S. government has hired a former CIA agent,” named Daniel Gabriel, “to create and manage a team of at least 10 journalists in Cuba.”  Gabriel’s Linked In profile concludes with this heartfelt endorsement:

“Dan is one of those dream clients you get once in a blue moon: totally risk tolerant, possessed of a voracious appetite for learning, and the drive to turn pontification into action.”

We could not think of a clearer case for why these programs need to end.

Sobre el plebiscito, la descolonización y la lucha que sigue

LA DIASPORA BORICUA OPINA . . .
Sobre el plebiscito, la descolonización y la lucha que sigue

08 de November 2012

Sobre la legitimidad del proceso plebiscitario puertorriqueño, sobre el rechazo a la colonia, sobre la anexión y sobre las condiciones necesarias para la descolonización de Puerto Rico
I. Los resultados

En Puerto Rico, las elecciones finalmente han quedado resueltas excepto en las islas municipios de Vieques y Culebra que, debido al margen de victoria de menos de 100 votos, han tenido que ir a un recuento electoral. Oficialmente, 95.74% de las unidades electorales han reportado sus resultados. Los sectores vencedores hacen fiesta y los que han perdido hacen concesiones tímidas.

Pero más allá de eso, hay sectores que han reafirmado la ilegitimidad de estas elecciones. Las elecciones se dieron, aún en medio de una controversia alrededor de los votantes “inactivos”; hubo aproximadamente 330,000 personas que fueron declaradas “no elegibles a votar” por no haber participado en las elecciones del 2008 y no haber reactivado su récord electoral. Muchas de éstas personas asistieron esperanzadas a los colegios electorales y regresaron a sus hogares sin ejercer su voto.

Estas elecciones también se dan en un clima no propicio para la democracia. Además de decidir por los líderes políticos para el próximo cuatrienio, los puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas estaban llamadas a decidir si permanecían con la “condición política territorial actual” o si decían “No” a la Colonia. Contestarían que “Sí”, aquellos(as) defensores de la actual forma de gobierno territorial, el Estado Libre Asociado. Una vez se contestaba la primera interrogante, el pueblo procedía a la segunda parte: Debíamos escoger entre tres opciones no territoriales, Estadidad (anexión a los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica), Estado Libre Asociado Soberano (Desvinculación de la Cláusula Territorrial de la Constitución de Estados Unidos, pero acordando mantener una relación estrecha entre Puerto Rico y EE.UU como naciones soberanas), o Independencia (Liberación Nacional). Tomando como ejemplo esta consulta, que desde fuera podría aparentar singular trascendencia, no hubo la discusión pública ni el proceso de formación política nacional necesario para poder llevarla a cabo. Esto se vio claramente dentro de los centros de votación, donde hubo electores que preguntaban cómo votar y qué significaban las opciones presentadas. No ha de sorprendernos tampoco el que los funcionarios de escrutinio – personas que uno supondría serían las más conscientes sobre el proceso – tenían las mismas dudas; permeaba la confusión sobre cómo contar ya que no quedaba claro que había dos preguntas separadas y lo que significarían las diferentes combinaciones posibles.

Y los resultados, ¿que nos dicen? Podemos plantear que no dicen mucho, excepto que es hora de iniciar un proceso de descolonización y autodeterminación. Hubo algunos sectores del independentismo haciendo un llamado directo y público a dañar la papeleta de la consulta de estatus por considerarlo un mecanismo inadecuado, a destiempo o que no cumplía con requisitos democráticos mínimos. Hubo 4.2% (76,843) de los votos que estuvieron en blanco o que se anularon en el referendo sobre si queríamos “continuar con la condición política territorial actual”. Este porcentaje es relativamente alto en comparación con las papeletas dañadas en la elección a la gobernación (0.65%) o a la cámara legislativa. El hecho de que un sector del independentismo hiciera ese llamado y lo promoviera da una posible explicación a ese comportamiento, convirtiéndolo en algo imposible de obviar.

Los resultados principales hay que estudiarlos por partes. Por un lado, cabe resaltar que se usaron los términos “condición política territorial actual” en vez de “colonia”, como concesión a los sectores a los cuales se les hace difícil plantear públicamente que Puerto Rico es una colonia. Este es el caso del inmovilista y hegemónico Partido Popular Democrático (PPD), quien de paso acaba de ganar la gobernación, la mayoría en la cámara de representantes y varias alcaldías incluyendo la capital. La ambivalencia de este partido se refleja en la nueva alcaldesa capitalina quien se inclina de forma cautelosa, tímida e incluso a veces contradictoria hacia la independencia, pero bajo la libre asociación. De hecho, dicha ambivalencia provocó la temprana división del partido entre el ala que defiende la “territorialidad” – facción dominante – y el ala que aboga por al “soberanía” bajo la libre asociación. La postura oficial del PPD, fue la de votar por el “Sí” al estatus territorial actual como forma de rechazo a su contraparte hegemónica, el anexionista Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) y la desastrosa administración del incumbente Luis Fortuño. Este último, además republicano (del partido estadounidense), promovió arduamente el “No” y la Estadidad. Aún con el llamado del PPD de rechazar al partido incumbente votando que “Sí”, la preferencia de los electores(as) fue la descolonización. Ganó el “No” a la colonia con un 51.1% (934,238 votos) frente al “Sí”, con un 43.6% (796,007 votos). Habría que esperar resultados finales y tomar en cuenta votos que no se pudieron adjudicar y que se estarán adjudicando o anulando en el transcurso de las siguientes semanas. (Los números no cuadran debido a votos recusados y electores añadidos a mano – prácticas comunes en este proceso.)

En relación a la segunda parte de la consulta, varios grupos instaron a no participar. Naturalmente, formó parte de este llamado el ala dominante del PPD –conforme con el “Sí” únicamente-, silenciando al ala “soberanista” y abandonando a su suerte a demás soberanistas que quisieron participar en la segunda parte de la consulta, como ALAS (Alianza pro Libre Asociación Soberana). De la misma forma, pero por otros motivos, algunos grupos independentistas insistían en no votar en esta sección. Estos sectores entendían que escoger la Independencia implicaba otorgar a Estados Unidos, y no a Puerto Rico, la potestad de liberar la Isla e iniciar el proceso de descolonización; planteaban que no hay que pedir permiso para luchar por la liberación nacional. Como resultado de todas estas tensiones, un 26,6% (486,080 votantes) votó en blanco o anuló su contestación, 44.0% de votantes favorecieron la anexión (no el 61% como se dice), 4.0% la independencia y 23.9% la libre asociación no territorial ni colonial.
Evidentemente no hay una mayoría clara en cuanto a las opciones. Entonces, ¿podemos decir que ganó la estadidad? Y si fuera el caso, ¿podríamos decir que cumple con ser una opción descolonizadora o autodeterminante?

II. La descolonización bajo la ley internacional

En la resolución 1541 de la Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU), queda escrito que la anexión sólo puede ser una opción descolonizadora bajo las siguientes condiciones:

  1. El territorio que se integra, debe haber alcanzado un estado avanzado de autonomía y poseer instituciones políticas libres, de modo que sus pueblos estén en condiciones de decidir, en forma responsable, con conocimiento de causa y por procedimientos democráticos.
  2. La integración debe ser el resultado de los deseos libremente expresados de los pueblos del territorio, plenamente enterados del cambio de su estatuto, con conocimiento de causa y por procedimientos democráticos, aplicados imparcialmente y fundados en el sufragio universal de los adultos.

Estas condiciones no están presentes en Puerto Rico ya que las instituciones que nos gobiernan están subordinadas a instituciones análogas en Estados Unidos de Norteamérica. Por ejemplo, la decisión sobre quiénes quedarían “inactivos” para votar, fue estipulada por Tribunal de Apelaciones de Boston.
La resolución 742, por su parte, considera que la manera en que los territorios que no han alcanzado su soberanía y autodeterminación “pueden llegar a ser plenamente autónomos, es primordialmente por medio del logro de la independencia, aunque se reconoce que también puede alcanzarse el gobierno propio mediante la asociación con otro Estado o grupo de Estados si este acto se realiza libremente y sobre la base de absoluta igualdad.” Sin embargo, para eso es necesario:

  1. El suficiente adelanto político de la población para que ésta pueda pronunciarse conscientemente sobre el destino futuro del territorio.
  2. Grado de autonomía para los asuntos económicos, sociales y culturales, puesto de manifiesto por la ausencia de presión económica ejercida, por ejemplo, por una minoría extranjera que, en virtud de la ayuda recibida de una Potencia extranjera, haya logrado una posición económica privilegiada, perjudicial para los intereses económicos generales del pueblo del territorio; y por el grado de libertad y la ausencia de toda discriminación contra la población indígena del territorio, en materia de legislación y desarrollo sociales.

Ningunas de esas condiciones se dan en Puerto Rico. El plebiscito se puede tomar únicamente como una encuesta, para medir los ánimos y el estado ideológico actual del pueblo, no como un método de elección libre y legítimo. ¿Qué nos queda entonces? Entonces, lo único aceptable y correcto, bajo las leyes internacionales es la independencia.
En la resolución 1514 de la ONU, se plantea que:

  1. La falta de preparación en el orden político, económico, social o educativo no deberá servir nunca de pretexto para retrasar la independencia.
  2. A fin de que los pueblos dependientes puedan ejercer pacíficamente y libre mente su derecho a la independencia completa, deberá cesar toda acción armada o toda medida represiva de cualquier índole dirigida contra ellos, y deberá respetarse la integridad de su territorio nacional.

Como explicaba Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, comandante del Ejército Popular Boricua (“Macheteros”), asesinado el 23 de septiembre del 2005 por las fuerzas represoras del gobierno estadounidense:

«El único plebiscito admisible en Puerto Rico es conforme a las normas que están establecidas por la ley internacional y que es el derecho reclamable del pueblo de Puerto Rico: Transferencia de poderes. Libertad para Puerto Rico. Que Puerto Rico pueda determinar sus propias condiciones económicas libremente. Que pueda consolidar su ser, su foro interno, su intelecto, su mentalidad como ente puertorriqueño, para así, una vez que haya adquirido plenamente ese derecho, una vez que haya adquirido esa necesidad vital de carácter humano, entonces, como pueblo libre, pueda decir “vamos a un plebiscito” […]»

«¿Cómo es posible que nosotros los puertorriqueños aceptemos un plebiscito con un pueblo profundamente colonizado, psicológicamente dependiente, que no ha desarrollado la capacidad de la autosuficiencia, que se siente sojuzgado y que no tiene la fuerza para hacerle frente, al que le es dado cupones [Asistencia Nutricional y otras ayudas económicas] como un elemento de presión extraordinario, que la educación que hemos recibido ha sido una educación deformativa, destinada a destruirnos como pueblo, destinada, precisamente, a crear en nosotros un sentido de dependencia psicológica, de incapacidad, de subordinación? ¿Acaso eso… puede ser permitido un plebiscito en esas condiciones? ¡No!
«Por eso exigimos: Aquí no se puede hablar de nada… de nada como no sea transferencia de poderes. Hablar de otra cosa es caer en una trampa. […] Cuando ellos le digan a nuestro pueblo cómo se va a ejecutar y que le digan plenamente, “Nos vamos. Le entregamos al pueblo puertorriqueño el poder. Comiencen ustedes un proceso de descolonización psicológica, de recuperación económica. Consoliden sus fuerzas como pueblo. Nosotros nos retiramos.” Cuando no digan eso, y si no dicen eso, no va a haber un plebiscito. Cualquier otra cosa no deja de ser un timo, un engaño, una farsa increíble sobre nuestro pueblo, y no la podemos permitir.»

III. La propuesta

La propuesta que el independentismo tiene de frente, es seguir con el plan de desarrollar, junto a los sectores que componen la base de la sociedad marginada política y económicamente – y dependiente – espacios de educación y apoderamiento, donde se pueda construir una ideología clasista y anticolonial, espacios de organización y participación crítica, donde se puedan desarrollar las capacidades colectivas e individuales y donde se pierda el miedo a disentir, reclamar y protestar contra las estructuras coloniales y capitalistas. Junto a las clases populares, el independentismo debe seguir desarrollando espacios de poder que rompan con las instituciones capitalistas y coloniales, que impulsen una transformación genuina y que canalicen las discusiones y las propuestas que se tienen que dar sobre el futuro del país, incluyendo el estatus político.

Este proceso, lo entendemos igual de importante para quienes aspiran a crear un movimiento electoral, quienes buscan la transformación ruptural a través de una huelga general, o quienes buscan lo mismo a través de un momento insurreccional.

La lucha por la Liberación Nacional y la construcción de la Nueva Patria no descansa… Hasta la Victoria y Pa’lante Siempre.

Colaboraron en este escrito Kamil Gerónimo y Javier Smith Torres (Militantes de La Nueva Escuela) [Clectivo de Juventud en Puerto Rico]


REFLEXIONANDO LO OCURRIDO TRAS EL PROCESO ELECTORAL EN PUERTO RICO

Alejandro Torres Rivera

10 de noviembre de 2012

Hay cosas que nunca entenderé. Esta semana escuché en radio a un dirigente pipiolo hablar sobre lo que a su juicio es la irrelevancia de los llamados partidos emergentes y su desempeño en las pasadas elecciones, frente a lo que consideraba como el gran logro del PIP, su crecimiento de cerca de un 20% de sus electores con relación a la cantidad de votos obtenidos en el 2008. A lo anterior, añadió, el triunfo de María de Lourdes Santiago como senadora por acumulación. Era como si para el PIP, quién gobernará a Puerto Rico en los próximos cuatro años y con qué tipo de programa se haga, fuera algo irrelevante. De hecho, las expresiones de María de Lourdes en la conferencia de prensa hecha por la dirección del PIP enfatizó, de prevalecer en su futuro rol como senadora, lo relacionado con el resultado de la consulta plebiscitaria en la primera pregunta, donde se rechaza la actual condición territorial de Puerto Rico.

Aparentemente para el PIP quedar o no quedar inscritos, retener o perder el 4% de los votos de los cuales apenas 48 horas antes anunciaban al mundo como un gran logro en esta contienda electoral, es agua pasada. Su pertinencia como instrumento electoral y su programa son cosas secundarias. La reflexión sobre qué pasó con la base electoral que aseguraban le daría la inscripción como partido, está fuera de su radar. En qué se falló, por qué una vez más estaban ausentes en los colegios miles de funcionarios de un partido que días antes decía contar con militantes dispuestos a defender en tales colegios el voto por la independencia, ya no es necesario. Una vez más, con una discusión a cuartos cerrados de su dirección es suficiente. Ahora la tarea es reinscribir la organización como partido para así poder seguir demandando espacio en la Internacional Socialista y en la COPAL. La educación política diaria para la independencia y el mantenimiento de los comités políticos abiertos durante la campaña electoral, para desde ellos desarrollar un proceso de organización del pueblo para su reclamo de libre determinación e independencia, no es ya la prioridad.

En estos días he estado leyendo un libro del religioso brasileño Frei Betto titulado La Mosca  Azul, donde se nos presenta su reflexión sobre el tema del  poder en Brasil a la luz de los esfuerzos del Partido del Trabajo y el desempeño de Inacio Lula Da Silva como su dirigente. En el libro, Frei Betto utiliza una cita de Wiston Churchill sobre en qué consiste el talento político. Reflexionando sobre ella, pienso en el PIP.

Dice Churchill que ¨tener talento político, es saber prever lo  que ocurrirá mañana, la próxima semana, el próximo mes, el próximo año, y saber explicar después por qué nada de lo previsto ocurrió.¨ Así ocurre con las predicciones pipiolas cada cuatro años, pero a la inversa. A nadie convence las explicaciones. Está por ver si en los próximos años, su explicación sobre el proceso plebiscitario al cual nos empujaron con el endoso del PNP habrá de tener el resultado e impacto que los compañeros le atribuyen. De no ser así, una vez más, el liderato del PIP, como el Sísifo de la mitología, continuará arrastrando la piedra hacia el tope de la colina, y una vez más, cuando crea estar llegando a ese tope, la piedra volcará sobre ellos mismos, obligándoles a reiniciar nuevamente el tormento eterno al cual fueron condenados.

Me parece que el momento merece una reflexión distinta. Los partidos emergentes, incluyendo el PIP, deben establecer, como indicó el compañero Héctor Pesquera, un diálogo abierto y fraternal, de cara a los próximos cuatro años, no solo para desde la calle demandar el cumplimiento de los compromisos sociales asumidos por el PPD en su campaña, sino para impulsar desde la calle sus programas reinvindicativos con el apoyo del pueblo. Hay una fuerza de miles de puertorriqueños que, a través de estos partidos expresaron su voz de preferencia por opciones distintas al PPD o al PNP. Ése es el germen para un proyecto de futuro donde, a juicio mío, desde los barrios y comunidades, a nivel de los municipios, es decir, de abajo hacia arriba, comiencen a forjar un nuevo proyecto político alterno.

Creo también que en San Juan, bajo las propuestas impulsadas por la alcaldesa electa, existe el laboratorio desde el cual se pueda establecer un modelo político de gobernanza basado en  alianzas, que pueda ser llevado a otros escenarios municipales, donde con la participación de todas y todas, pero también, con un programa inclusivo para todos y todas, demos una respuesta al  problema de calidad de vida para nuestro pueblo y una propuesta de justicia social ciudadana. En ese diseño, las experiencias desarrolladas en Caguas ciertamente también deben formar parte de la reflexión colectiva que hagamos. Después de todo, a nivel municipal, el elemento divisivo del status político no debería ser impedimento mayor.

En lo que concierne al status, no veo cómo en nuevo Congreso, con los múltiples problemas de la economía estadounidense y las profundas diferencias que prevalecen entre demócratas y republicanos, tenga posibilidades de avanzar desde allá una discusión sobre el futuro de las relaciones política entre Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico, mucho menos basada en los resultados de la consulta plebiscitaria habida en las pasadas elecciones en Puerto Rico. Lo que sí debemos tener presente, es que la propuesta del Partido Popular Democrático de atender el tema del status mediante una Asamblea Constitucional de Status en el 2014, si la Administración Obama no lo atiende, podría colocarnos en un proceso de Asamblea distinta a la que hemos defendido en el pasado, que es una Asamblea Constitucional de Status para el ejercicio a la libre determinación.

En el debate auspiciado por el Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico con representantes de los partidos políticos previo al proceso electoral, José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral, expresó que el PPD no era un partido suicida y que en consecuencia, la Asamblea Constitucional que defendería sería una para el desarrollo del ELA, no para la sustitución del mismo. Por eso se impone desde ahora una sosegada discusión que nos permita articular, en tiempo, una posición sobre la propuesta de una asamblea constitucional de status, donde entendemos, que la formulada por el Colegio de Abogados por ser la más específica y detallada al presente para conducir nuestro proceso de descolonización, es un punto de partida inevitable.

Finalmente, como parte del debate post electoral, debemos hacer una reflexión sobre aquellos cambios esenciales a la actual ley electoral que permitan una democratización del proceso político puertorriqueño, incluyendo alternativas a la actual Comisión Estatal de Elecciones y la manera en que se vota y contabilizan los votos emitidos en Puerto Rico. La alternativa del voto electrónico y sus garantías de transparencia, no puede dejarse para la búsqueda de opciones meses antes del proceso electoral. Ayudaría mucho que el gobierno entrante comisione un grupo de expertos en materia electoral, con la participación de los partidos políticos y más allá de ellos, para que conduzcan una investigación sobre los diferentes sistemas prevalecientes en otros países y que presenten a la actual administración propuestas serias y responsables para atender este problema. El país no se merece la repetición de lo ocurrido en estas elecciones con el resultado del conteo habido de los votos en el proceso electoral.

Arnaldo Barron and the July 26th Movement in the United States

Casa de las Americas invites you to an afternoon celebration of the history of the July 26th Movement in New York and in the United States

Founding leader of the July 26th Movement Arnaldo Barron and his wife Gloria Goenaga will recount their experiences as they organized this movement which eventually became the organization we know today as Casa de las Americas. This past summer in Havana, Cuba, Companero Barron was awarded the Friendship Medal by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) for the sacrifices made and his instrumental role in support of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Guest of Honor Ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations.

Agenda:

  • Greetings from Nancy Cabrero, President of Casa de las Americas
  • Presentation: Arnaldo Barron and Gloria Goenaga (followed by Q&A)
  • Video of the Award Ceremony of Arnaldo Barron in Cuba
  • Musical Selections by Guitarist and Singer from Venezuela, Abraham Alberto
  • Brunch

Where – Casa de las Americas, 182 E. 111th Street, between Third and Lexington Avenues
When – Saturday, October 6, 2012
Time – Beginning at 2:00PM

Suggested Donation – $15.00 (includes food) profits of which will go to Casa’s work for the liberation of the Cuban Five and the Lifting of the Blockade on Cuba

Due to limited space, we are asking that you call Franklin Flores at 917-945-9877 to reserve your attendance at this event.

The program will be in spanish with translation by Martin Koppel

Arnaldo Barron and the July 26th Movement in the United States

Save the date; U.S. tour of VICENTE FELIU

Download English version Leaflet both in Color or in Black/White

Enjoy an Evening of Music with a Leading Voice of the Nueva Trova Movement from Cuba, VICENTE FELIU, in Concert with Latin Grammy Award Winner ALEJANDRO VALDEZ


Saturday, September 15th

Special Cultural Presentation by
VIicente & Alejandro in CONCERT


Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center
310 West 43 Street, Manhattan
(Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
Reception: 7:00 p.m.
Light Refreshments
Time: 8:00 p.m.

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.

Suggested Donation $10.00 (No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds)

Organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in collaboration with World Organization for Right of the People to Health Care, Inc., IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Casa de las Americas, July 26 Coalition and the National Network on Cuba.

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”

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

 

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today

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

By Ike Nahem

You can also download a copy of the article here

Part I: The Myth of the Miami Lobby

The Obama Administration, consistent with the approach of the Bush Administration, has made a political decision to subordinate foreign policy and national interest-based decisions to domestic politics with respect to its Cuba policy. There is a bipartisan group of members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate – who represent Florida, a state where there are many swing votes that deliver the electoral votes for any president. These individuals not only deliver votes, but they deliver campaign finance, and generally make a lot of noise, and that combination has persuaded the White House that reelection is more of a priority than taking the heavy lifting to set the United States on the path of -normalization with Cuba for now.

Julia Sweig, director for Latin American Studies, US Council on Foreign Relations

The essential continuity of US anti-Cuba policy under the Barack Obama Administration has been a source of mystery and confusion to many who oppose US sanctions. Within the US academic, think-tank, and media meritocracies – who often go in and out of government office – many are frustrated, even embarrassed, by Washington’s continued pariah status over Cuba in Latin America and internationally as registered in annual lopsided, humiliating votes against the US policy in the United Nations.

So why does Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba – the longest unchanged foreign policy in US history, entering its sixth decade – persist? Why is Cuba such an outsize question in US politics? Why does Washington continue a policy that is utterly isolated in world and regional forums, holding up US diplomats and policymakers to derision and contempt? (The stated reasons given – the supposed lack of “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba – reek with such misinformation, half-truths, obvious hypocrisy and arbitrary selectivity that they cannot be taken seriously and must be dismissed out of hand. I will comprehensively take up the question of democratic rights, human rights, civil liberties and the Cuban Revolution in Part III of this essay.)

The most common explanation for these questions is expressed in the quotation by Julia Sweig that opens this essay. (Sweig is a scholar with the super-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations and is their Director for Latin America Studies. She is the author of the excellent book Inside the Cuban Revolution and is a very informed observer and analyst of Cuban history and politics. She is unquestionably a strong opponent of US sanctions against Cuba and in favor of normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.) Sweig and other dissenters within Establishment circles, as well as many elected officials purportedly opposed to US policy, point to or at the Cuban-American population and elected officials who form in Washington a so-called, and supposedly so-powerful, “Miami Lobby.” Some even go so far as to say US policy and “national interest” is being held “hostage” by this “Lobby.” Such nonsense crosses over into virtual conspiracy theories.

This argument and explanation turns political reality on its head. It has never been true and, in today’s world, it has never been less credible. It is a myth and an illusion that the Cuban-American community and Cuban-American office-holding politicians are the driving, determining force behind US policies toward Cuba. US foreign policy in general, and Cuba policy in particular, is driven by the interests of the US ruling capitalist class of bosses, bankers, and bondholders. It is primarily mediated through its two political parties and state institutions and secondarily through its big-business media, think tanks, and academic minions. Cuban-American bourgeois politicians are part of that mix, prominent, but far from decisive.

Washington has never, and does not now, need the aging representatives of the ex-ruling powers of Cuba, or their descendants, to explain to them why they should oppose the Cuban Revolution and the domestic and international policies of the revolutionary socialist Cuban government. The actual political affect of the “Miami Lobby” myth (which through endless repetition has become almost a mantra) is to take the political focus off the US government and place it on the Cuban-American community and a handful of Cuban-American elected officials. It puts the cart before the horse, the caboose at the head of the train

Such politicians of Cuban origin in the US Congress as Republican Florida representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio can be useful as a cover or a foil for a US policy that is so unpopular. Cuban-Americans can be blamed and chided by those opposed to the policy and praised and defended by those in favor of the policy. But they do not make the policy.

The myth of the “Miami Lobby” cuts across building a broad protest movement and the kind of effective action that can actually force a change in the policy. By homogenizing (or worse, demonizing) the contradictory and increasingly polarized Cuban-American community, the myth of the “Miami Lobby” has become an obstacle to winning over more Cuban-Americans to oppose US sanctions.

The fact is that for over five decades now there has been a bipartisan policy and a common goal of defeating and eradicating the Cuban Revolution. None of this has ever been, or is it now, primarily motivated by the interests of the Cuban-American exile community in Miami. The origins and continuity of Washington’s hostility to the Cuban Revolution is homegrown. It flows out of the politics, policies and example of the Cuban Revolution – both inside Cuba and in its resonance across the Americas and internationally in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and even inside the advanced capitalist powers.

The Impact of the Cuban Revolution on US Politics

Cuba appears and is presented as a minor question in US politics and foreign policy. This is all the more so since the end of the so-called “Cold War” and its decades-long conflict and clash between Washington and Moscow. In those days Washington’s lurid propaganda painted Cuba’s revolutionary government as a “client” and “puppet” of the former Soviet Union. While this was always consciously insulting and factually absurd, the alliance of Cuba with the Soviet bloc was used to fabricate a Cuban “threat” to the US and the American people. (October 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the traumatic “Cuban Missile Crisis, which was used to convince many working people in the United States on the “threat” from Cuba.)

Independent of the Soviet Union, the “Cuba Question,” that is the political dynamics and impact of the Cuban Revolution, has always had major weight and importance in US politics and foreign policy, especially in the Americas. This remains the case today even though Cuba is a small island of less than 12 million people and the United States is a globe-straddling economic, financial, political, and military superpower, albeit in relative decline today on all these fronts.

The end of the “Cold War” and the political disappearance of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies over 20 years ago has not seen any easing up of US anti-Cuba policy. On the contrary, it has essentially deepened. The consensus of the US ruling class and central policymakers remains that Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba must remain and continue in today’s post-Cold War. That world reality has developed into a new era, if not historical epoch, defined by the worst generalized economic and financial crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In public US politicians mock, deride, and denigrate Cuba, it is clear that both ruling parties in Washington continue to see Cuba as a formidable political force with significant moral and political authority, especially in the Americas, but worldwide. There is virtual unanimity in both parties that the revolutionary Cuban government needs to be confronted and defeated, not reconciled with on the basis of respect for Cuban sovereignty. From Washington’s point of view, the Cuban government promotes anti-imperialist (or, as they falsely put it, “anti-American”) revolutionary action, has not renounced the program of international socialist revolution, and, short of that, supports any policies and struggles that defend the interests of workers, peasants, and youth. Such a perspective clearly impacts negatively on the economic interests of US capital and Washington’s political and “strategic” prerogatives in defense of those interests.

Tactical Divisions Over Cuba Policy

It is common on the “US Left” to become politically disoriented and disarmed (and safely in the hands of “lesser evil” liberals and Democrats) by the intense and even brutal forms expressed over what are in actual substance relatively minor tactical differences over policy between the two imperialist parties and within the ruling class in the United States. Cuba is a classic case in point.

Every year in the United Nations there is a lopsided (in 2011 it was 186 for and 2 against with 3 abstentions) anti-Washington vote on the “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States against Cuba” that gets bare mention in the US corporate media. Across the Americas, Washington’s anti-Cuba policies are routinely ridiculed and opposed in every Hemispheric and regional forum, including “Summits” of the Organization of American States, traditionally a servile tool of US policy and Hemispheric domination. Cuba’s strong defense of its sovereignty, its revolutionary ideas, and its practice of international solidarity with oppressed and exploited humanity, has given the socialist island important political and moral authority and weight in world politics – way out of proportion to its size, numbers, economic strength, or military firepower. This is a cause of great irritation and consternation for the US rulers and their acolytes of the “Miami Lobby.” But it is a great testament to the power of ideas in the world. In truth there is no greater power on earth than when progressive and revolutionary ideas inspire and grip millions and become a material political force.

How to achieve the common goal of overturning the Cuban government in real political time naturally leads to furious tactical differences within the US government and within and between the Democratic and Republican parties who share and exercise power in the US capitalist state. This is inevitable given how isolated and unpopular the US anti-Cuba policy is in the Americas, in the world, and even inside the United States. Maneuvers, shifts, and concessions occur from one year to the next, and from one White House to the next, all reacting to the pressure of events. It’s all aimed at positioning Washington off the defensive in order to more effectively disorient, undermine, and overwhelm the Cuban Revolution.

Obama vs. Bush

President Obama has made some shifts and even partial retreats from the anti-Cuba rules enforced by George W. Bush. These are objectively positive. It’s good that some Cuban musicians, artists and scholars have been allowed into the US at the invitation of universities and cultural institutions. It’s good that Cuban-Americans are allowed to travel to their country of origin without the previous insulting bureaucratic restrictions. It’s better than before that rules for licenses allowing limited travel to Cuba by other US citizens have been relatively loosened.

These moves by the Obama Administration are in no way a shift away from the basic US policy of “regime change,” that is, destroying the Cuban Revolution. They basically move US rules back to the norms under the Clinton Administration and the first period of the George W. Bush Administration, before they were tightened up with the triumphalist hubris that followed the US invasion of Iraq. At that time Bush selected Otto Reich as his Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, along with other important figures among the counter-revolutionary exile groupings such as Roger Noriega, a former top staffer for ultraright, notoriously racist North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. Such were the personnel directing the Hemispheric policies of Bush’s Administration.

But this did not work out well for US policy and position in Latin America, particularly after Washington’s (and Reich’s) fingerprints were found all over the failed April 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela against the popular, elected government of Hugo Chavez. Bush was forced to remove both Reich and then later his successor Noriega and retreat from the hyper-arrogant rhetoric and posturing toward Latin America that became politically costly to Washington.

What Obama has done is shift away from the more bellicose language and Bush-style bombast around Cuba by making minimal adjustments in policy around travel and visa rules to try and undo the political damage of the Bush years. Nevertheless, Obama has been quite strikingly unsuccessful in winning any support for the US anti-Cuba position in the Americas, which remains completely isolated, excepting the right-wing Stephen Harper government in Ottawa. Canada still continues to be the largest source of tourism to Cuba and carries out considerable commercial exchange with the island.)

Under Obama, the Treasury and Justice Departments have stepped up harassments and prosecutions of US or foreign businesses deemed to “violate” US “rules” and sanctions against commercial and financial exchange and collaboration with Cuba. Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon recently stated, in an interview with French academic and journalist Salim Lamrani, “…[T]he Obama administration has been considerably more consistent in the imposition of fines and sanctions against foreign companies who violate the framework of sanctions against Cuba, that engage in business transactions with us…A number of banks have been fined several millions of dollars, more than 100 million in one case, for conducting dollar-based business transactions and for having opened dollars accounts with Cuban companies.” On June 12, 2012 it was announced by the US Department of Justice that the Dutch Bank ING agreed to a $619 million fine for violating the US “Trading with the Enemy Act,” by moving US currency from trades with Cuba (and also Iran) through US financial networks. According to the online Guardian Express Newspaper, “The fine is considered to be the largest ever in the history of the US financial system.” Since the Obama Administration took office in 2009 major European banks Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Lloyds have reached similar settlements with the US government over financial dealings with Cuba.
The Obama Administration continues to support and promote State Department and CIA overt and covert programs that aim at subverting and undermining the Cuban government, and which landed State Department agent Alan Gross in a Cuban prison. (The idea that Gross’s conviction and incarceration is the impediment to improved US-Cuban relations which Obama wants to pursue is a very bad joke. Washington’s actions in dispatching agents like Gross – just one instance of a large-scale policy of unremitting economic and political war against Cuba funded to the tune of many dozens of millions of dollars in openly budgeted allocations, not counting resources used for covert programs – represents the real impediment to improved and normalized relations.) Obama’s State Department continues to keep Cuba on its list of “nations supporting terrorism,” a huge lie and vile slander. Obama continues to ignore Cuban diplomatic initiatives for bilateral cooperation around issues such as drug trafficking and hurricane response coordination. Obama continues to resist the unanimous opinion of Latin American and Caribbean member states of the Organization of American States to end the exclusion of Cuba. Obama continues to dismiss and resist any attempts to negotiate mechanisms, including any “exchanges,” that would release the Cuban Five, four of whom are in their 14th year of incarceration, while one, Rene Gonzalez, was released after serving his full term, but is not being allowed to return home to Cuba. Another clear sign of the essential continuity in Obama’s anti-Cuba policy from the Bush Administration – and really all previous White Houses since Eisenhower – is in Obama’s appointment of Ricardo Zuniga as “Director for Western Hemispheric Affairs” for the White House National Security Council. Zuniga was formerly a key player in the US Interests Section in Havana under Bush, organizing the extreme provocations against Cuba led by Interests Section Chief James Cason.

Looking at the balance sheet of Obama’s policies toward Cuba compared to that of George W. Bush, recalls the classic line of Groucho Marx: “I’ve worked myself up to nothing from a state of extreme poverty.”

Waves and Patterns of Cuban Emigration to the US

There have always been Cuban workers who emigrated to, lived, and worked in the United States. However, the origin and formation of a mass Cuban-American “community” began with the large-scale emigration after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Like all genuine social revolutions, the Cuban Revolution was marked by deep-going and irreversible class struggle and polarization. In the first period after the Cuban Revolution some 5% of the then Cuban population of 6 million made its way to Florida and the US where it was received with open arms and special privileges as “refugees from communism,” obviating regular immigration requirements.

The first wave of exiles were overwhelmingly from the Cuban ruling classes, their supporters, hangers on, and enforcers in the military and police apparatuses, as well as the extensive organized–crime networks – narcotics marketers, brothel owners and pimps, casino magnates, and so on – that flourished in the Batista era. As the Cuban Revolution began to implement radical economic and social policies that benefited peasants, agricultural and industrial workers, and the impoverished majority in general, large layers of the relatively small Cuban middle and professional classes followed the largest landowners, capitalists, army officers, cops, and gangsters into exile. While a small minority, it was nevertheless hundreds of thousands of people. (One example of this pattern was in the over 50% of the 6,000 doctors in Cuba who left the country after the Revolution. These doctors overwhelmingly served the Cuban upper and middle classes. The average Cuban rarely, if ever, saw a doctor their entire life. Life expectancy was in the low 50s. Infant mortality was over 60 per 1000, among the world’s highest. Today Cuba graduates 10,000 new doctors every year; life expectancy is approaching 80 and infant mortality is 4.5 per 1000, among the world’s lowest.)

Additionally it should be noted that these first waves of emigrant-exiles were overwhelmingly Caucasian; among the most far-reaching policies of the revolutionary Cuban government was the smashing of Jim Crow-style segregation laws and policies on the island. Cuban’s of African origin were among the strongest and most enthusiastic supporters and protagonists of the Revolution, which was echoed in the wide support for the Cuban Revolution among African-Americans in the United States.

Of course there was no mechanical one-to one political correspondence in the class polarization that accompanied the Cuban Revolution. Not every middle-class Cuban opposed the Revolution and split to Miami; a good number were in support or ambivalent but patriotic. (For an excellent portrayal of this early period of the Revolution from the vantage point of an alienated middle-class Cuban, see the masterful, world-acclaimed Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea.) And there were a small number of workers, peasants, and Afro-Cubans who actively supported the counter-revolution. Nevertheless, it is an indisputable fact that the large majority of the Cuban population at the time, and overwhelmingly so among working people, peasants, youth, and Black Cubans, embraced the Revolution as their own work and actively defended it.

Many thousands of Cuban exiles were recruited by the US military and intelligence apparatus for covert action against Cuba. Business and financial opportunities were established for the Cuban ex-bourgeoisie in south Florida by their US government and business benefactors. The US Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966, which allowed for quick permanent residency and expedited citizenship for declared opponents of the Revolution. Over $1.3 billion, nearly $10 billion in current dollar value, was allocated for direct financial assistance to exiles.

The Mariel Boatlift

Over several months in 1980, a series of provocations against Cuba by the James “Jimmy” Carter Administration, working with the conservative Peruvian military government, led to gatherings of up to 10,000 Cubans at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana wanting to leave the country. (Millions of Cubans mobilized at this time in support of the Revolution.) The death of a Cuban police guard at the Peruvian Embassy led the Cuban government to declare a policy of allowing all Cubans who wanted to leave the island to bypass existing legal processes. Cuban- Americans were invited to come pick up their relatives at the Mariel Harbor. Some 125,000 additional Cubans arrived in the US during the so-called Mariel Boatlift. (Today the Brazilian government and companies are working with Cuba in a major industrial project to make Mariel a state-of-the-world port for freight and trade which, when completed and operational, will be a major boost for the Cuban economy.)

This wave of exiles was of a much different social and class composition than the first waves. They were more on the margins of Cuban society, unassimilated into the working class, indifferent or hostile to the revolutionary process in Cuba. Many had histories of petty criminal activity in areas with no operating space or “market” in Cuba such as gambling, loan sharking, commercial sex, and narcotics trafficking. Most simply wanted to leave Cuba and go to the United States to join relatives or friends and pursue perceived business opportunities. They thought that the United States would be a far more fertile arena and market for their social and business – and criminal – proclivities. US propaganda accused the Cuban government at the time of emptying its prisons and even mental hospitals and shoving “the dregs of Cuban society” onto boats bound for the US. Cuban authorities vehemently denied this and demanded proof of such deeds, which was never delivered, although the slander lived on. (For Fidel Castro’s passionate explanation of the entire affair and response to US slanders see, An Encounter With Fidel: An Interview With Gianni Mina, Ocean Press, pages 61-67.)

The “Special Period” Wave

In the 1990s, under the severe economic conditions of what was called in Cuba the “Special Period,” following the collapse of the governments of the Soviet Union and Eastern European “socialist camp,” thousands more Cubans left the island lured by the Cuban Adjustment Act and the refusal of the US to implement agreements for legal, organized immigration. The relative improvement of the Cuban economy in recent years and the ending of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans under President Obama, combined with the onset of economic depression and crisis in the US and Europe, has reduced the volume and political volatility of Cuban emigration to the United States.

There are higher proportions of Irish and Israeli emigrants to the United States than Cubans, and this without either the expedited privileges of the Cuban Adjustment Act or the accompanying demonization and propaganda attacking those countries from the US government and big-business media. Given the economic catastrophes currently gripping Greece, Spain, Portugal, and other “Eurozone” economies millions of working people have been displaced and forced to consider emigration. It would be interesting to look at immigration statistics in those countries compared to Cuba today. Many from Spain and Portugal are today even emigrating to Latin America.

In any case what stands out is that the large majority of Cuban working people continue to stand their ground in Cuba and to fight for their revolution despite the Cuban Adjustment Act, despite unremitting US threats, sanctions, and a sense of siege, and despite often grinding economic conditions. Today these Cubans are debating and fighting to improve and change what has to be changed

Elian Gonzalez

The case of Elian Gonzalez in the 1990s was a political turning point that highlighted the developing and roiling contradictions within the Cuban-American community. It set in motion politically centrifugal tendencies.

Public opinion in the US at the time overwhelmingly favored the right of Elian’s father to return to Cuba with his son. The right-wing counter-revolutionary circus in Miami acted out by Elian’s distant relatives, manipulated by right-wing Cuban American organizations, was viewed as distasteful and inhumane. Washington tried every lure and trick to keep Elian in this country and – in what would have been a real propaganda coup – to entice his father to “defect.” But eventually they had to face the reality that this was not going to happen and that Cuban, Latin American, and US public opinion was becoming indignant. Father and son were finally let go. The issue had riveted US politics for many months and was a real blow to the authority and political standing of the counter-revolutionary exile organizations and personalities.

The Cuban-American Community Today

Over 1.5 million people whose family origins are in Cuba are now citizens of the United States. Cuba’s current population is nearly 12 million people. Cuban-Americans are 4-5% of the Spanish-speaking US Latino population of over 40 million people. (Accurate figures are hard to specify given the large layers of undocumented working people who have migrated to enter a vast, illegal “black market” in labor to work in the fields, factories, and cities of the United States when such jobs were relatively plentiful.) These Spanish-speaking (or English, French, or Creole-speaking from the Caribbean, or Portuguese-speaking from Brazil) immigrants seeking to labor in the US came from every country and nationality, but only those of Cuban origin, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, get a very fast track to US citizenship and a legal existence to work and live.

Over three-fourths of Cuban-Americans live in Florida, 1.2 million people according to the 2010 US census. The next four states sees a large numbers drop to a little over 80,000 in New Jersey and a little less than 80,000 in New York, some 75,000 in California and 35,000 in Texas. Florida is the fourth most populous US state with 18.8 million people; Cuban-Americans are less than 10% of that total. Cuban-Americans are 30% of Florida’s Latino population. African-Americans are around 16% of Florida’s population, figures that in most counts include Black immigrants from the Caribbean. The Haitian population of south Florida is between 100-200,000 including many undocumented workers. Cubans make up 32 percent of eligible Latino voters, Puerto Ricans 28 percent, and Mexicans 9 percent.

It is absurd to extrapolate out of the size of the Cuban-American electorate an assertion that this “bloc” is decisive in “delivering” Florida’s electoral votes to a future President who must therefore “pander” to “extreme anti-Castro” positions. By manipulating statistics this could be said about any group, grouping, religious denomination or sect. In a close race between Republicans and Democrats, don’t the 3% of Florida’s Jews become “decisive?” What about the 725,000 Puerto Ricans? Why aren’t the Presidential campaigns pandering to the “pro-Aristide” views of Florida’s large Haitian population who by a large majority support the former Haitian President who was ushered out of country by the US military after a coup? (The anti-Aristide campaign was directly led by the above-mentioned Roger Noriega.) The absurdity is further underscored by the fact that Florida’s Jews, Puerto Ricans, Haitians and the 70% non-Cuban Latinos are more preponderantly Democratic in their voting tendencies (if they bother, like a near-majority of eligible voters in general, to vote at all given the dismal choices), and opposed to US sanctions against Cuba than Cuban-Americans are supposedly preponderantly Republican and obsessively, knee-jerkedly, “anti-Castro.”

The truth is that, once given the legal right to do so, Cuban-Americans are defying the threats and admonitions of the Ros-Lehtinens, the Diaz-Balarts, the Menendezes, and the Rubios, that is, the Congressional faces of the “Miami Lobby,” and flocking to Cuba and reconnecting with their homeland and families. Flights are packed and leave every day from Miami and weekly in a growing number of cities. They also rush to buy tickets and fill concert halls to see popular Cuban musicians like Los Van Van, who happen to identify with the Cuban Revolution. (On April 27, 2012 a fire was set at the company Airline Charters, one of the companies that arranges legal flights to Cuba.)

The fact is that the political domination of the old Batistaite ruling oligarchy and Cuban ex-bourgeoisie that became ensconced in south Florida and some enclaves in northern New Jersey is sputtering to the end of its era of sway. That ex-bourgeoisie was set up and established comfortably in business and with a cozy niche in US bourgeois politics over the broader Cuban-American community, and enjoyed a degree of immunity from US law by the US government

Very important, if not decisive, in this dynamic is the broader development and growth of the Latino population in the US that is not of Cuban origin and with a very different history and relationship to the “Cuba Question.” Over decades there has been a growth and accumulated political weight in US society and politics of this broader Latino community, with a mass component of undocumented workers who were a needed source of cheap labor and high profits for US capitalists. This broader Latino community comprises peoples of many national origins: Mexicans, Central Americans, Haitians (also concentrated in Miami as well as New York City) none of whom share the views toward Cuba, Fidel Castro, and the Cuban Revolution of the surviving first waves of immigrant-exiles from the 1960s.

The fact is that among many Latinos living and working in the United States there exists a significant degree of pride and respect, if not solidarity and affection, toward Cuba for standing up to the Yanquis with dignity, even among those far from agreeing with Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Marxist views.

In fact, it can be said that the children and grandchildren of the first waves of Cuban émigrés, who, in general, are hardly partisans of the Cuban Revolution, are nevertheless more objective and curious about Cuba, and more generally in favor of normalized relations and an end to US sanctions. This generation of Cuban-Americans has undoubtedly been shaped as much by their experiences as Latinos in the US and by their interaction in the workplace with other Latino workers and other workers, Black and Caucasian, than by their status as second or third generation exiles from Cuba and the Cuban Revolution with all that political baggage.

The ex-bourgeoisie of Cuba, although many have prospered in business and bourgeois politics from their connections and status, is in no way integrated into the US ruling class. The bulk of Cuban-Americans today are wage workers, professionals, and small business owners. Their political views are shaped and developed primarily by the broad issues of class politics in the United States and much less, and certainly not decisively, by the imperatives of “anti-Castro” exile politics. This is all the more true as so many Cuban-Americans visit the island and become familiar with the economic and political discussions and debates dominating Cuban society today.

The ultra-right grip of the ex-Cuban bourgeoisie, and the violent terrorists trained by the CIA, on Cuban-American political viewpoints regarding US-Cuba relations is unraveling. Ever-growing numbers, at or near majority levels, of Cuban-Americans favor normal relations with the island and an end to economic and travel sanctions. It is precisely the growing pressure from Cuban-Americans that led the Obama Administration to lift the travel restrictions on that (and only that) section of the US population.

It is of great political significance that Washington finds it more difficult to credibly hide behind the Cuban American community to justify or rationalize its anti-Cuba policy. The “Miami Lobby” has always been the directed not the directors, the puppets not the puppeteers. Hopefully the purveyors of the false “Miami Lobby” line will catch up with political reality.

June 15, 2012

Ike Nahem is a longtime anti-war, labor, and socialist activist living in New York City. 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.

Mariela Castro on Ending the Embargo – Swapping Cuban Five – Jailed U.S. Contractor Alan Gross

By DemocracyNOW – Amy Goodman

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, calls on the U.S. to release five Cubans jailed for spying on anti-Cuban militants in Florida in exchange for Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen jailed in Cuba. The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 for committing espionage in southern Florida. They say they weren’t spying on the U.S., but trying to monitor right-wing violent Cuban groups that have organized attacks on Cuba. “I want the Cuban Five to go back to Cuba and for Alan Gross to go home,” Castro says. “I want an end to the financial, commercial and economic blockade that violates the human rights of the Cuban people, and the normalization of relations between both countries.”