el maestro

el maestro
"Trincheras de ideas valen más que trincheras de piedra." José Martí

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stop disinformation on Cuba

Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba

Condemnation of  The Toronto Star article of March 16, 2013, continues to pour in.

Condemn Media Campaign Against
Revolutionary Cuba
- Tony Seed -

The Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, have conspired to publish a sensationalist series on "sex tourism" to Cuba. The series began precisely one month to the day following the "visit" by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to Cuba on February 15, 2013 and his provocative meeting with "dissidents." "He pledged Canada's support for efforts to secure freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law," his department said at the time in a release, "in the only remaining Communist country in the Western hemisphere." Now the "dissidents" have emerged, writes Andrew Brett, to form the main "source" for the Toronto-Miami media disinformation blaming the Cuban people and government, who are the victims, for "sex tourism." Far from being a coincidence, the series serves the agenda of the Harper government of political destabilization and isolation of all opposition to imperialist dictate in the Americas.

The Star also writes: "Although Canada has had a law against abusing children abroad since 1997, it is undermined by the inability of law enforcement officials to monitor sexual offenders as they slip out of the country." Thus, under the banner of high ideals, it furnishes the Harper Government the pretext to collect information on all those Canadians travelling to the independent socialist Republic of Cuba.

Toronto Star Makes Up Facts in Exposé
- Andrew Brett, March 17, 2013 -

"There is truly no prostitution healthier than Cuba's," said Fidel Castro in 1992. Or so claims theToronto Star. But did he really?

Not at all. Castro actually said, "There is truly no tourism healthier than Cuba's."

This just scratches the surface of the fact-free reporting of the Star in its new series "The Ugly Canadians," an exposé of a supposed epidemic of Canadians travelling to Cuba for child sex tourism.

"Canadians are travelling to Cuba in surprising numbers to sexually exploit young people," the first article in the series says. Just how surprising are these numbers? Well, they can't say. The same article admits that they don't actually know, because the Canadian government doesn't reveal the number of Canadians prosecuted in Cuba for sex crimes.

The only facts they can point to are in a 2011 RCMP report that lists Cuba as "a top destination in the Americas" for sex tourism. No, not the top. One of them. In the Americas. And where does Cuba rank in this list? The article doesn't say.

So why have they decided to highlight sex tourism to Cuba instead of, say, the actual top destination?
Why do the Cubans quoted happen to be a "dissident lawyer" and a "dissident blogger"?

Why did the article print a fabricated pro-prostitution quote attributed to Castro?

The series on Cuban sex tourism is not being published by the Star alone. Its partner in the series, El Nuevo Herald, is the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, known for editorializing against the Cuban government and for employing journalists paid by the U.S. government to disseminate anti-Cuban propaganda.

Could this joint series actually be a deliberate attempt to stigmatize the Cuban tourism industry, a backbone of the Cuban economy? A modern-day, liberal version of the "red scare"? In 2004, President Bush similarly warned about child sex tourism to justify his government's travel restrictions on Cuba, without any evidence to suggest the problem is more prevalent on the island.

With close to one million visitors a year, Canadians are the primary market for the Cuban tourism industry, a major source of funding for the Cuban economy. If anyone wanted to target Cuban tourism, the Canadian market would be the place to start.

Whatever the intention of playing fast and loose with the facts, it raises questions about the editorial influence of the Herald on this series, and whether the remaining articles will be based on evidence or just conjecture of opponents of the Cuban government.

(Originally published on Rabble.ca)

Cuba Third Most Popular
Caribbean Tourist Destination

As of May 2012 Cuba is now the third most popular Caribbean country for tourists, trailing the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, according to Carlos Vogeler, General Director for the Americas of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Vogeler's remarks were quoted by the Cuban News Agency last spring during his visit to the Cuban islands known as the King's Gardens (Jardines del Rey) as part of Cuba's 32nd International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2012.

Vogeler said the improvements in Cuba's tourism industry are reflected in the increasing number of visitors each year. As Cuba's level of tourism has improved so has the quality of its tourism fairs. Holding the 2012 fair in Cayo Santa Maria on the King's Gardens was a great opportunity for many foreigners to get to know the natural beauty of the Coco and Guillermo Keys, an area of great tourist potential barely known outside Cuba, Vogeler said.

Representatives of tour operators, travel agents, hotel chains and airlines toured the different facilities in the keys off the northern central Cuban coast. There they could see the beauty of the Playa Pilar resort, one of the most beautiful places in Cuba, where the sand dunes are among the best preserved in the region.
This year's FITCuba will take place in Veradero, Matanzaz province, Cuba's most famous beach, from May 7 to 10.

Cuban Adjustment Act Exposed
- Manuel E. Yepe, March 4, 2013 -

The special immigration status which the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act grants Cuban citizens has become even more of a problem for Washington in light of Cuba's new travel regulations.

A Chicago Tribune editorial published on February 16 tackled this important issue in the White House´s policy against Cuba from a very unusual perspective in U.S. media: the privileges and immigration rights the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act grants to Cubans and denies to all other citizens on the planet.

The Chicago Tribune editorial explains that for Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, the hardest part is getting there, because, since 1966, they've essentially been granted automatic refugee status on arrival.

Almost half a century later, states the paper, Cubans who get to the U.S. rarely claim to be victims of political persecution. They want a better economic future, or to join family members already there, or both -- just like most people who want to immigrate from anywhere else.

Unlike most immigrants, though, Cubans don't have to wait years for a visa, or sneak across the border illegally. Once they're in, they're fast-tracked to legal residency, with a clear path to citizenship, the Tribune's editorial notes.

It's a sore subject as Congress considers what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants to whom the system has not been so generous, the editorial complains.

Those immigrants -- more than half of them from Mexico -- live and work under the government's radar, often for very low wages, constantly in fear of being deported.

"To come here legally, most Mexican laborers would have to wait decades for a visa. But Cubans who present themselves at our southern border -- a common point of entry, thanks to the U.S. "wet foot, dry foot" policy -- are allowed in once they show a Cuban ID. These special considerations are especially hard to defend now that Cubans can travel freely between the U.S. and their homeland."

According to the Tribune, after 2009 when President Barack Obama lifted most of the limits that kept Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island to visit family, last year, more than 400,000 of them did so, some of them dozens of times.

"In January, the Cuban government began allowing citizens to leave without an exit permit. Passports are now granted more liberally, and those who leave can stay away up to two years without losing their residency. Most Cubans are able to come and go at will," says the editorial.

It's hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of a political repression they are not suffering when the only thing they did was dodge Coast Guard boats long enough to tag American soil.

"To be fair," admits the paper, "those immigrants aren't lying about their circumstances. They're not required to demonstrate that they're political refugees." They come because they can thanks to the privileges granted by the anti-Cuba Act.

The Chicago paper says this isn't fair, "Cubans who want to come here for economic reasons should play by the same rules as economic immigrants from other countries," it argues.

Since it was passed in 1966 as an instrument of aggression against the Revolution, the Cuban Adjustment Act has caused an incalculable number of Cuban deaths -- sometimes whole families in reckless expeditions through the Strait of Florida -- encouraged by the limitations imposed on Cuba for more than half a century by the U.S. economic blockade, and by the promise of access to a paradise on Earth.

"We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and forth to Cuba," says the Chicago Tribune editorial, and proposes that Congress ought to eliminate the travel ban entirely, so that all Americans can visit the island just like tourists from all other countries in the world who have been flocking to Cuba for years.

(A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Child prostitution is not a problem in Cuba

Cuban children are happy

Response to article Canadians are major customers in Cuba’s child sex market, published in The Toronto Star on Sat Mar 16, 2013

In 1959 prostitution was rampant in Cuba, especially in areas of big cities, but was also present in small towns: it was a means of survival then. One of the first tasks undertaken by the Revolution after its triumph was to rescue all those women, by educating and providing them with jobs, so they could have a dignified life in the future.

It is my belief that Cuba is aware of the problems that tourism may bring into the country, and consequent with its principles, has implemented harsh laws to tackle drug trafficking, child prostitution and prostitution itself; and imposes severe punishments on those individuals who engage in these kinds of acts, whether locals or foreigners.

It is a gross infamy to say that Cuba ignores or turns a blind eye to a matter where children are harmed.  According to government sources “child prostitution is a minor problem and (the) Government has accorded it significant attention”.  It is monstrous to make the Cuban government appear as an accomplice in child corruption, and it is unprofessional to manipulate and distort facts to present readers with the dishonest generalization that child prostitution is growing without check in Cuba. That is a complete fallacy.

There’s possibly no other country in the world that has devoted more resources and effort to protect children as much as Cuba. According to the United Nations, Cuba is the only country in Latin America that has eradicated malnutrition in children, and has an infant mortality rate of 4.6, which is lower than that of some developed countries, including those where the article was written. Cuba provides schools, vaccination and all basic needs to its children; and that is a well known fact all over the world.

Those countries that allow its sexual predators to travel to third world areas to prey on its most vulnerable sector, their children, bear responsibility for those crimes. They should share information about these individuals. It is clear that when it comes to the protection of children more cooperation is needed between the governments of countries where that tourism is originated and the receiving end.

Despite the longest economic and financial blockade ever imposed in history on a country, Cuba, by a mighty power, the United States of America, and the continued and mounting hostility of the latter trying to suffocate its economy; the Cuban Revolution has struggled to provide its citizens with quality and sustainable education and comprehensive free health care. Cuba has the second highest life expectancy in Latin America and has elevated the dignity of its people by creating an environment of respect and solidarity among themselves and others. And these are facts, not manipulations.

Julio Fonseca
President, Association of Cubans in Toronto “Juan Gualberto Gómez

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Day that Hugo Chavez Died

The Day that Hugo Chavez Died

(Oda al Segundo Liberator)

Today the sky is the colour of hope
Blue penetrating to the depths of the universe
Did you see it, Hugo?
Did you see it?

You under the sky in your bright red shirt
Life blood meeting hope
Blending to the green of Pachamama
Madre Tierra who is also your mother

You of the mixed bloods of so many peoples
A world of peoples in your being
Indigenous, African, Gallego
Your very self a symbol of unity
Did you know this, Hugo?
Did you know this?

You the singing head of state
The praying head of state
The hero of the poor
You saw the previously faceless
You heard their silenced voices
The Constitution in one hand
And the Bible in the other
You, uniting heaven and earth
In your vision
In your dream that was born
A mere 58 years ago.

So quickly you have gone
From life not to death
But from life to legend
A legend that inspires
In the footprints of Bolívar
But with your own unique steps.

You were reborn
While still living
You, the President on foot
Your seeds you scattered well
Multiplying ideas among the people
Many hands creating your works
Millions and millions of chavistas

At your mother’s knees you learned
The beauty of teaching elders to read
You also wanted to be a painter
To catch the world in the colours of the rainbow
The colours of your banner
Blue your independence from Spain
To match the colour of the sky
Red your courage to dream
Larger than life - and to turn those dreams
Into schools and clinics and homes
Yellow the riches of the land
The riches that are the people
Did you always know this, Hugo?
Did you always know this?

We weep while the red wave embraces you
A tsunami of love for the love you gave
We weep while we turn our pain into words
Words that can guide our actions
“You are more alive than ever”
Says Evo the wise man
From his ancient knowledge
“Those who die for life cannot be called dead”
Says Nicolas, speaking of your death
“You gave your life to give life to your people”
Says Adolfo, the sculptor of human rights.

You built more than schools and clinics
Taught more than just to read
You also built hope
For Venezuela and the continent

Of Maduro you spoke like a poet
When you said “If I’m unable to,
With his firm hand,
With his gaze,
With his heart of a man of the people,
With his gift for people,
With his intelligence
God knows what he does,
If I’m unable to continue
Maduro will know the way.”
Did you know even then, Hugo?
Did you know even then?

We will miss your ready smile
Your all-embracing laughter
The way you crossed your chest
To show your love
We will miss your fiery passion
Your eternal optimism
Your complete surrender
To the Bolivarian dream.

You could recite at will
The words of Bolívar
Of San Martín, of Martí
History was your guide
While you made your own way
And helped create a new history
For your beloved Venezuela.

And just as Violeta Parra sang
“Gracias a la vida”
We want to sing to you, Hugo
To sing the song of you, Hugo
“Gracias a tu vida”

Susana Hurlich
5 March 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Communiqué from the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Dear compatriots and friends,

In these difficult moments of deep sorrow that all Venezuelans are experiencing due to the painful physical loss of our President Commander Hugo Chavez yesterday March 5th, we inform you that a Book of Condolences is already open at the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela at 365 Bloor Street East, on floor 19th, in Toronto.

The teachings and aspirations of our president are alive and will continue to live in each of us, in those who have shared his dreams and his struggle for equality and inclusion of the needy in the Bolivarian Revolution. On providing the have-nots with a better world now he is eternal beyond death.

We also inform you that a Candlelight Vigil will be held at 4:30PM, in front of the bust of the Liberator of America Simón Bolívar, at Trinity-Bellwoods Park, and on Sunday, a Solemn Mass will be celebrated at the Church of San Lorenzo, also in the city of Toronto.

We request dissemination of the present Communiqué.

Yours sincerely,
Marta Pardo de Márquez
Consul General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto

Candle Light Vigil in honour of President Hugo Chavez. Trinity Bellwood Park, Toronto, March 7, 2013 4:30PM


Trinity Bellwood Park, Toronto, site of bust of South American Liberator Simón Bolívar

MARCH 7, 2013

With sadness in our hearts, we say goodbye to an extraordinary human and revolutionary. Your energy, love and example will not be forgotten. The revolution will continue until there is liberation for all.


Contacts: venesolnet@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chávez will never die

Chávez lives    

He has physically disappeared but his ideas are alive. Men like Chávez multiply by the millions. Like Che, he is already a symbol for emancipation. Like Fidel, he is the hope that a better world is possible.

Monday, March 4, 2013

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights supports actions for the Cuban Five

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay expressed her support of actions in favor of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the United States and said she would do her best to find a solution to the case.

Pillay received the spouses of Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez for the third yearly occasion in Geneva.

Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, along Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Labanino, known as the Cuban Five, were given extremely long sentences by a Miami court in 2001 after they monitored Florida-based violent organizations that planned terrorist actions against Cuba.

Rene Gonzalez, is currently under probation in US territory after having met a 13-year prison term. 

During the meeting with the High Commissioner, Olga Salanueva said the probation imposed on her husband is absurd since he is denied to return to his country with his family.

The two women stressed the importance that the United Nations intercedes in favor of reaching definitive solution to the Cuban Five case.

They also asked for the UN official to help in getting a visa for them so that they can visit their husbands in the United States.

The UN High Commissioner admitted that the visa denial by US authorities is a violation of human rights, which should have not been used as an extra punishment.

Pillay expressed her support of the case and her intentions to do her best towards a solution, according to a release by the Cuban permanent mission in Geneva. 

Tomado de CubaNews

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Platt Amendment: degrading Cuba's independence

EE.UU. "marca' su propiedad", el pueblo de Cuba

In 1898, when the heroic Mambí Army had virtually defeated the colonial power of Spain, the United States of America, loyal to a 'tradition' they would apply again and again in the future, deliberately sunk its own USS Maine, making it appear as an act of sabotage. The battleship had intentionally been dispatched to the Bay of Havana on January, and on the evening of February 15 a huge explosion destroyed the ship in the harbour killing 260 marines.

It was the perfect excuse. The US Government immediately blamed Spain, and consequent with its plans declared war on the colonialist Spaniards, intervened militarily in the armed conflict that Cubans waged against the European metropolis to gain their independence, and occupied Cuba for several years.

“Protecting US citizens and property” in the island was the official argument Washington used to unleash the Spanish Cuban American War, as it is known in history. The truth behind the blowing of the USS Maine was its burning desire to take possession of Cuba, because of its privileged geographical position in the Caribbean and the resources the emergent power needed badly to feed its incipient imperial ambitions.

Senator Orville H. Platt

Immediately Washington, exactly as it does today, began taking steps to “legalize” its intervention.  On March 2, 1902, and following efforts to give Cubans a “republic”, while keeping a grip on its sovereignty, the US Congress approved the Platt Amendment, introduced by Senator Orville H. Platt, and sanctioned shortly afterwards by the US President.

That ignominious amendment, against the will of the people of Cuba, was annexed to our Constitution hindering our sovereignty until 1934, but Cuba did not regained control of its destiny until the next generation of mambises, the Rebel Army, did enter Santiago de Cuba and Havana in 1959.

The Platt Amendment allowed the US Government to intervene militarily or otherwise in Cuba whenever it deemed convenient to its interests, while it tarnished our independence and sovereignty.  

Un grabado de la época refleja el sentir sobre la Enmienda Platt


Platt Amendment

Article I. The Government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba, nor in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or powers to obtain by colonization or for military or naval purposes, or otherwise, lodgment in or control over any portion of said island.

Article II. The Government of Cuba shall not assume or contract any public debt to pay the interest upon which, and to make reasonable sinking-fund provision for the ultimate discharge of which, the ordinary revenues of the Island of Cuba, after defraying the current expenses of the Government, shall be inadequate.

Article III. The Government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the Treaty of Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the Government of Cuba. . . .

Article V. The Government of Cuba will execute, and, as far as necessary, extend the plans already devised, or other plans to be mutually agreed upon, for the sanitation of the cities of the island, to the end that a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases may be prevented, thereby assuring protection to the people and commerce of Cuba, as well as to the commerce of the Southern ports of the United States and the people residing therein....

Article VII. To enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the Government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations, at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.