el maestro

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Raúl Castro welcomes Fernando González at his arrival in Havana today

Raúl Castro welcomes Fernando at "José Martí" Airport in Havana

Today, Friday February 28, at midday on the tarmac of Havana’s José Martí International Airport, Cuban President Army General Raúl Castro Ruz received Fernando González Llort - one of the five Cuban heroes unjustly condemned to long prison terms in the United States for defending their homeland. Fernando was released from the Safford Federal Correctional Institute in Arizona, having completed his full sentence.

On the airport tarmac, in the company of Raúl, Fernando was taken into the arms of his mother Magalys and his great love Rosa Aurora.

Rosa Aurora and Fernando

He is the second of The Five to be released from prison, following René González.

Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón continue to be held as prisoners in U.S. penitentiaries and a broad international campaign continues demanding their immediate freedom.

Source: Granma

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Message from the Toronto Friends-of-the-Five Committee

Fernando González, liberado hoy en EE.UU.

Dear friends, sisters and brothers:

After serving his full and unjust sentence of 17 years and 9 months, Fernando González has been released early this morning from the Federal Correctional Prison in Safford, Arizona.

However, before being allowed to return to his homeland and to his family in Cuba, he has been sent to an Immigration Services facility to start the process of deportation to the island shortly, according to US sources.

Along with his family and the people of Cuba, justice loving people in Canada, the United States and around the world are advocating for Fernando's release and the release of all Cuban 5 now.

Please join the rallies taking place in your cities this coming Wednesday, March 5th, to demand

         Justice and Freedom for ALL Cuban Five!

For rally time and place information in Toronto please click here

In solidarity,
Toronto Friends of the Five Committee

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March 5th mobilize to demand freedom for the Cuban Five in Toronto, Vancouver

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial

What’s Next?

President Obama…..Yes You Can!
Free the Cuban Five   
from U.S Prisons!

Who are the Cuban 5 Heroes?

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, also known as the Cuban 5, are five men who were wrongly accused and convicted in a U.S. Federal Court of ¨conspiracy to commit espionage¨ and other fabricated charges following their arrest and imprisonment in 1998. The 5 were actually unarmed men involved in monitoring Miami-based terrorist organizations, which since 1959 have been responsible for the death of over 3,400 people in Cuba, including a resident of Canada, Fabio di Celmo, in 1997. Through their important work these 5 men were able to prevent further deaths in Cuba. In April of 2013 René Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5, returned permanently to Cuba in a great victory for justice- loving people all over the world. Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, and Fernando remain unjustly in U.S. prisons, facing sentences up to double-life plus 15 years.

The 5th day of each month has become the international Day of Action when groups across Canada, the U.S. and around the world organize events in solidarity, demanding justice and freedom for the five Cuban heroes.

The Toronto Friends of the Five Committee and the  Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto are joining with other Canadian cities, cities in the U.S. and around the world by holding a rally on Wednesday, March 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. across from the U.S. Consulate at 360  University Ave, and invites you to participate.

We are confident with unity, and consistent action, we can help bring closer the day when All of the Cuban 5 will be free!

For more information contact: Julio Fonseca at denossa@hotmail.ca

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cuban Trovador Gerardo Alfonso will tour Canada

Gerardo Alfonso

News Release

The beautiful poetic songs of outstanding Cuban composer and guitar player, Gerardo Alfonso Morejón will be heard from Halifax to Victoria.  This Solidarity with Cuba Musician Tour is organized by the Canadian Network on Cuba and is from March 21st to April 13th with performances in twelve cities, in six provinces.

The tour will promote the Third World Solidarity Meeting in Havana October 27 to 29th, 2014.  Sandra Ramírez, North American Specialist from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in Havana will accompany Gerardo and will speak about that upcoming event.

Gerardo Alfonso is part of the Nueva Trova (New Song) movement that started in Cuba in the 1960’s and combines traditional folk music with political lyrics.  His songs include themes of humanity, society, love and life.  He has shared the stage with world known musicians Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Vicente Feliú and many others.

The premiere event on the tour will be Saturday March 22nd in Toronto at the College Street United Church, 452 College Street (at Bathurst) at 7:30 pm. 

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. 

For more information: www.ccfatoronto.ca or phone Elizabeth at 416 654-7105

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity condemns wave of violence of the right in Venezuela

Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity


 Against the Fascist Violence in Venezuela
 Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
 From the Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity

For several weeks now the fascist right in Venezuela has been carrying out a combination of destabilizing actions orchestrated together with the intelligence agencies of imperialism.  The plan has as its principle objective to generate incidents of violence in the streets, especially in the states bordering the Republic of Colombia.  Among these actions are the siege and the attack on the residence of Governor José Vielma Mora in the State of Táchira, victims of which were his wife and children, who required medical treatment.  

Led and cheered on by parties of the extreme right, such as Voluntad Popular, these actions were repeated in other cities of the country resulting in people being wounded, street closures, destruction of public and private property, as well as provocative acts against the police forces. This led up to Feb. 12, date on which citizens were commemorating the Bicentenary of the Batalla de la Victoria and Youth Day,  when the violence had its largest breakout after various peaceful manifestations on the part of the revolutionary youth and of the opposition, with the terrible total of three dead, the burning of five official vehicles, the destruction of facade of the headquarters of the attorney general of the Republic and the siege and the attempt to destroy several offices attached to judicial and governmental functions, actions which suggest a Ukraine type plan.  All of that coincides with a continuous public call by Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado to "go out onto the streets and stay there," until the President of the Republic steps down.

In this sense, the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity is compelled to take a position with respect to actions which are the product of a deliberate plan which is trying to lead Venezuela towards a civil war which opens the doors to imperialist intervention. Enough of violence and death for ambitions of power and domination. 

For these reasons:

1. We deeply regret the death of the three citizens who fell victim to intolerance yesterday, and we demand that expedited justice be carried through the strict application of the law so that never again will reckless agents of imperialism perturb the peace of our country.

2.  We energetically condemn these acts of violence and we join in the call to peace made by the President of the Republic Nicolás Maduro Moros; and, while firmly maintaining the legacy of Commander Hugo Chávez, we reaffirm the peaceful nature which has always characterized the Bolivarian Revolution.  

3.  We call on all those who have differences with the Bolivarian Project to express them in a truly peaceful way--without disrupting public order and public life--within the different avenues for dialogue that the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees and that the revolution has always provided for everybody to express themselves.
4.  Finally, we call on international solidarity to squelch any attempt to impose violence in a country which is advancing firmly toward a society of justice, equality and peace.

2014: Year of the Bicentenary Youth

“We cannot choose between winning or dying.  It is necessary to win”

Red de Intelectuales y Artistas en Defensa de la Humanidad
Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Cultura
Dirección General de Relaciones Internacionales
Teléfono +58 212 5095719
Twitter: @humanidadenred

Cuba interrupts consular services in the US due to 50 year old blockade

Cuba has been forced, once more, to cease most of its consular services in Washington, after unsuccessfully trying to find a bank that would operate its accounts in the United States of America.

Press Release by Cuban Interests Section in Washington regarding banking situation

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., would like to refer to its press release of December 9, 2013, by which it informed of a new deadline given by M&T Bank for its ending of banking services to the Section and the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations. March 1st, 2014 was then set as deadline for the closing of the accounts, and February 14 as the last date for deposits.

In spite of the huge efforts made, as a result of the restrictions in force, derived from the policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade by the U.S. government against Cuba, it has been impossible for the Interests Section to find a U.S.-based bank that could operate the bank accounts of the Cuban diplomatic missions.

As a result thereof, the Cuban Interests Section finds itself forced to suspend consular services as of the date of publication of this press release, until banking services are re-established. As informed last November, consular services will only be provided for humanitarian cases. The Section regrets any inconvenience this situation may cause to Cuban and U.S. citizens who may require the services of our offices, with the negative impact on family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and other types of exchanges between Cuba and the United States.

Washington, February 14, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

European Union seeks Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation with Cuba

Declaration issued by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cuba, Rogelio Sierra Diaz, in response to the decision adopted by the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union on Monday, February 10th

The Cuban Government has been officially informed of the decision adopted by the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union to authorize the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Her Excellency Catherine Ashton, to initiate negotiations on the provisions of an Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation between the European Union and its member States, on one side, and the Republic of Cuba.

In October, 2008, the European Union and Cuba agreed to resume political dialogue and cooperation based on a reciprocal, unconditional and non-discriminatory approach, with full respect for the sovereign equality of States and the legal framework and institutional order of the Parties, in accordance with the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

Cuba believes that these principles still are absolutely valid and should continue to be a benchmark in the relations between the European Union and our country.

I reiterate what was previously expressed in the long-lasting process of reflections and consultations among the European Union member States, which preceded these results.  Cuba shall consider the invitation issued by the European side in a respectful and constructive way, in the context of its national sovereignty and interests.

Havana, February 10, 2014

“Year 56 of the Revolution”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gira Académica de Arnold August por el Medio Oeste de EE.UU. con su libro Cuba y sus Vecinos

La última gira del escritor y periodista canadiense es una serie de presentaciones que comenzaron después de la publicación en el 2013 de su segundo libro titulado: Cuba y sus vecinos: Democracia en Movimiento. El libro fue llevado durante la primavera y el verano de 2013, entre otros lugares, a Washington D.C. como parte de Cinco Días de acciones por los Cinco Cubanos y al Foro de Izquierda en la ciudad de Nueva York. El autor luego se concentró casi exclusivamente en giras académicas en el otoño del 2013 con charlas en universidades ubicadas en Canadá (ciudad de Quebec, Toronto, Montreal y Halifax), Estados Unidos (Nueva York y Connecticut) y varias universidades en el Reino Unido. 

Este mes de febrero la gira académica por el Medio Oeste de Estados Unidos es una primera etapa. La segunda etapa será aproximadamente del 14 al 17 de abril de 2014. Esto es parte de un programa de conferencias en Universidades en Canadá, Alemania, Holanda y otros países. 

Para más información sobre la primera etapa de la gira académica, coordinada por el Comité de Chicago por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos visite: 

Democracia en Movimiento


Lunes, 3 de febrero de 2014, 4:00 PM 
Loyola University, McKormick Lounge 
Coffey Hall, 1000 W. Sheridan, Chicago, Illinois 
Auspiciada por: el Departamento de Sociología
Martes, 4 de febrero de 2014 , de 2 a 4 de la tarde 
Purdue University, North Central , LSF 170, Westville, Indiana 
Auspiciada por la Iniciativa Catedrática de Diversidad
 (Diversity Makes a Difference) Club Multicultural, Club de Historia y el Departamento de Ciencias Sociales
Martes, 4 de febrero de 2014, de 6 a 8 de la noche 
Consulado de Venezuela 
20 N. Wacker Dr. Unidad 1925, Chicago, Illinois 
Auspiciada por el Gobierno Bolivariano de Venezuela, Consulado General en Chicago
Miércoles, 5 de febrero de 2014, A las 12.30 del mediodía 
Teatro Y Jean Chambers, SULB, Tercer Piso 
Purdue Univeristy, Calumet 
Hammond, Indiana 
Auspiciada por los departamentos de Comunicaciones 
y Artes Creativos, Historia y Ciencia Política, y el 
Centro de Estudios Globales 

Miércoles, 5 de febrero de 2014, de 7 a 10 de la noche 
Schmitt Academic Centre, 254, DePaul University 
2320 N. Kenmore Ave, Chicago 
Auspiciada por el Departamento de Historia de la Universidad DePaul
Jueves, 6 de febrero de 2014, a las 7 de la noche 
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Bolton Hall 150 
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

Auspiciada por la Coalición de Wisconsin para la Normalización de Relaciones con Cuba (www.wicuba.org); Peace Action-WI (www.peaceactionwi.org); Comité de Solidaridad con América Latina; Move to Amend of S.W. Wisconsin (www.movetoamend.org/milaukee/wisconsin).
Para más información, favor de contactar la Coalición de Wisconsin para la Normalización de Relaciones con Cuba, teléfono (414) 237-1040 o por correo electrónico: contact@wicuba.org
Comité de Chicago Por La Libertad de los 5. 
Stan Smith Teléfono - 773-322-3168, uscubachi@yahoo.com

Para saber sobre el caso de los  Cinco Cubanos visite: www.thecuban5.org

Síganos en  Twitter y Facebook 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Professor and Author Piero Gleijeses Sends a Letter to Obama


February 5, 2014

Mr. President,

I will not address the juridical flaws of the case against the Cuban Five. These flaws are well known and others have written you about them. The Five were tried in a kangaroo court and received very heavy sentences because of the crimes of Fidel Castro.

What are these crimes?

Clearly, they have nothing to do with the state of political democracy in Cuba. The United States has very good relations with the government of Saudi Arabia and, as you know, there are no political freedoms there; indeed, there isn’t even freedom of religion and the rights of women are severely curtailed.

Castro’s crime – for which the Five are paying – is obvious: he humiliated the United States. As Leycester Coltman, a British ambassador to Cuba, has written, Fidel Castro is “still a bone . . . stuck in American throats. He had defied and mocked the world’s only superpower, and would not be forgiven.”[1]

Where did the Castro brothers defy the United States? One of the most important places is southern Africa. I am sure you sensed this in your recent visit to South Africa when you witnessed how warmly the South African people responded to Raúl Castro. As the chair of the African National Congress said, when introducing Raúl Castro, “We now will get an address from a tiny island, an island of people who liberated us, who fought for our liberation.”

While the Cubans were fighting for the liberation of the people of South Africa, successive American governments did everything they could to stop them.

In October 1975, the South Africans, encouraged by the Ford administration, invaded Angola to crush the left wing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). In response, 36,000 Cuban soldiers suddenly poured into Angola. By April 1976, the Cuban troops had pushed the South Africans out.

Had the South Africans succeeded in imposing their will on Angola, the grip of white domination would have tightened over the people of southern Africa. It was a defining moment: Castro sent troops to Angola because of his commitment to what he has called “the most beautiful cause,”[2] the struggle against apartheid. Castro, Kissinger explained, “was probably the most genuine revolutionary leader then in power.”[3]

The tidal wave unleashed by the Cuban victory in Angola washed over South Africa. Mandela later recalled hearing about it while he was incarcerated on Robben Island. “I was in prison when I first heard of the massive aid that the internationalist Cuban troops were giving to the people of Angola. … We in Africa are accustomed to being the victims of countries that want to grab our territory or subvert our sovereignty. In all the history of Africa this is the only time a foreign people has risen up to defend one of our countries.”[4]

This Cuban victory over apartheid meant a defeat and a humiliation for the United States. Enraged, the Ford administration ended the talks it had been conducting with Cuba toward normalizing relations.

President Carter also said there could be no normalization of relations until Cuba withdrew its troops from Angola – even though the CIA conceded that the Cuban troops were “necessary to preserve Angolan independence” against the continuing threat posed by South Africa.[5] In June 1980, the South Africans launched another major raid, advancing more than a hundred miles into Angola, stopping only thirty miles south of the Cuban line protecting the country. The UN Security Council responded with a tough resolution condemning the invasion, and the US representative on the Council minced no words in his speech chastising South Africa. When it came to vote, however, he abstained because the resolution included language suggesting that if South Africa launched another attack on Angola the Security Council might impose sanctions.

I am sure you can appreciate the irony, Mr. President. The United States had stationed large numbers of troops in Italy, West Germany and Turkey – countries that faced no immediate military threat from the Soviet Union in 1980, but Jimmy Carter denied the Angolans the right to have Cuban troops to protect their country from the very real South African threat.

Castro refused to bow to Carter’s demands, which meant that he sacrificed the possibility of normalization with the United States (and the lifting of the embargo) in order to protect Angola from the apartheid regime.

From 1981 to 1987, the South Africans launched bruising invasions of southern Angola, encouraged by the friendly Reagan administration in Washington. It was a stalemate until November 1987, when Castro decided to push the South Africans out of Angola once and for all. His decision was triggered by the fact that the South African army had cornered the best units of the Angolan army in the southern Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale. And his decision was made possible by the Iran Contra scandal rocking Washington. Until the Iran Contra scandal exploded in late 1986, weakening and distracting the Reagan administration, the Cubans had feared that the United States might launch an attack on their homeland. They had therefore been unwilling to deplete their stocks of weapons. But Iran Contra defanged Reagan and freed Castro to send Cuba’s best planes, pilots, and antiaircraft weapons to Angola. Castro’s strategy was to break the South African offensive against Cuito Cuanavale in the southeast and then attack in the southwest, “like a boxer who with his left hand blocks the blow and with his right – strikes.”[6]

On March 23, 1988, the South Africans launched their last major attack against Cuito Cuanavale. It was an abject failure. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff noted, “The war in Angola has taken a dramatic and — as far as the South Africans are concerned — an undesirable turn.”[7]

The Cubans’ left hand had blocked the South African blow while their right hand was preparing to strike: powerful Cuban columns were moving towards the Namibian border, pushing the South Africans back. Cuban MIG-23s began to fly over northern Namibia.

Among the Cuban soldiers advancing toward the Namibian border were two young men whose names are now well known: Fernando González Llort and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo. Ten years earlier, René González Sehwerert had also fought in Angola. These three men, together with Ramón Labañino Salazar and Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, are the five Cubans on whose behalf I am writing.

US and South African documents prove that the Cubans gained the upper hand in Angola. The Cubans demanded that Pretoria withdraw unconditionally from Angola and allow UN-supervised elections in Namibia. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that if South Africa refused, the Cubans were in a position “to launch a well-supported offensive into Namibia.” The South Africans acknowledged their dilemma: if they refused the Cuban demands, they ran “the very real risk of becoming involved in a full-scale conventional war with the Cubans, the results of which are potentially disastrous.” The South African military was grim: “We must do the utmost to avoid a confrontation.”[8]

Pretoria capitulated. It accepted the Cubans’ demands: it withdrew unconditionally from Angola and agreed to UN-supervised elections in Namibia.

The Cuban victory reverberated beyond Namibia and Angola. In the words of Nelson Mandela, the Cuban victory “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor … [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa … Cuito Cuanavale was the turning point for the liberation of our continent – and of my people – from the scourge of apartheid.”[9]

You were at Mandela’s memorial service, Mr. President, and you celebrated his legacy. You saw the reaction of the South African people to Raúl Castro and to the name of Cuba. Yes, Cuba changed the course of history in southern Africa despite Washington’s best efforts to prevent it. In so doing Cuba offended and provoked the United States – not only Ford, and Reagan but also Carter, self-styled champion of human rights. In the American mind, Cuba was the aggressor and the United States was, as always, on the side of the angels. As US historian Nancy Mitchell has pointed out, “our selective recall not only serves a purpose, it also has repercussions. It creates a chasm between us and the Cubans: we share a past, but we have no shared memories.”[10]

Perhaps, Mr. President, what you saw in South Africa may inspire you to bridge the chasm and understand that in the quarrel between Cuba and the United States the United States is not the victim, and that the Five Cubans are, simply, political prisoners.

Piero Gleijeses

Piero Gleijeses is a professor of US foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His most recent book is Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991, Chapel Hill, 2013. His other books include The Cuban Drumbeat: Castro’s Worldview, Seagull Books, 2009; Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, 2002; Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954, Princeton, 1992; The Dominican Crisis: The 1965 Constitutionalist Revolt and American Intervention. Baltimore, 1978 (revised edition: La esperanza desgarrada: la rebelión dominicana de 1965 y la invasión norteamericana, Dominican Republic, 2012).