el maestro

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"Cuba is fully willing to continue advancing in the construction of a kind of relation with the US that is different", Raúl Castro

Statement by the President of the Counsels of State and Ministers Army General Raúl Castro on the occasion of the first anniversary of the announcements made on December 17, 2014, regarding the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.

One year has gone by since the simultaneous announcements made on December 17, 2014, by the presidents of Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations between both countries and work to improve our relations.
One year ago, on a day like yesterday, as part of the agreements reached to find a solution to issues of interest for both countries, we were able to announce, to the great joy of all of our people, the return to our homeland of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, with which we made true the promise made by Fidel who had asserted that our Five Heroes would return.
On that same date, in accordance with our reiterated disposition to hold a respectful dialogue with the Government of the United States, on the basis of sovereign equality, to discuss a wide variety of issues in a reciprocal way, without any detriment to our people’s national independence and self-determination, we agreed to take mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and move on towards the normalization of relations between the two countries.
It could be said that, since then, we have achieved some results, particularly in the political, diplomatic and cooperation spheres:
•   Diplomatic relations were re-established and the embassies in both countries were re-opened. These actions were preceded by the rectification of the unjust designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism.
•   High level meetings and visits have taken place.
•   The already existing cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as aviation safety and security as well as the combat against drug-trafficking, illegal migration, alien smuggling and migration fraud has been expanded. The regular and respectful meetings between the military commands of Cuba and the United States in the perimeter of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo have continued.
•   New possibilities for bilateral cooperation have opened up in areas of mutual benefit, such as environmental protection, law enforcement, maritime and port security and health.
•   New dialogues have been initiated on bilateral and multilateral topics of interest, such as climate change, mutual compensations, traffic in persons and human rights, this latter being the one on which we have profound differences and about which we are having an exchange on the basis of respect and reciprocity.
•   We have signed agreements on environmental protection and the re-establishment of direct postal services.
All of this has been achieved through a professional and respectful dialogue based on equality and reciprocity.
Quite on the contrary, this year we have not made any progress in the solution of those issues which are essential for Cuba to be able to have normal relations with the United States.
Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade and has urged Congress to lift it, this policy remains in force. The persecution of Cuba’s legitimate financial transactions as well as the extraterritorial impact of the blockade, which causes damages and hardships to our people and is the main obstacle to the development of the Cuban economy, have been tightened.
The steps taken so far by President Obama, although positive, have proved to be limited in scope, which has prevented their implementation. By using his executive prerogatives, the President could expand the scope of the steps that have already been taken and take new steps that would substantially modify the implementation of the blockade.
Despite Cuba’s repeated claim for the return of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, the Government of the United States has stated that is has no intention to change the status of that enclave.
The U.S. Government is still implementing programs that are harmful to Cuba’s sovereignty, such as the projects aimed at bringing about changes in our political, economic and social order and the illegal radio and television broadcasts, for which they continue to allocate millions of dollars in funds.
A preferential migration policy continues to be applied to Cuban citizens, which is evidenced by the enforcement of the wet foot/dry foot policy, the Medical Professional Parole Program and the Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourage an illegal, unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration, foment human smuggling and other related crimes and create problems to other countries.
The Government of Cuba will continue to reiterate that, in order to normalize relations, it is imperative for the U.S. Government to derogate all these policies that date from the past, which affect the Cuban people and nation and are not in tune with the present bilateral context and the will expressed by both countries to re-establish diplomatic relations and develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments.
No one should expect that, in order to normalize relations with the United States, Cuba will renounce the principles and ideals for which several generations of Cubans have struggled throughout more than half a century. The right of every State to choose the economic, political and social system it wishes, without any interference whatsoever, should be respected.
The Government of Cuba is fully willing to continue advancing in the construction of a kind of relation with the United States that is different from the one that has existed throughout its prior history, that is based on   mutual respect for sovereignty and independence, that is beneficial to both countries and peoples and that is nurtured by the historical, cultural and family links that have existed between Cubans and Americans.
Cuba, in fully exercising its sovereignty and with the majority support of its people, will continue to be engaged in the process of transformations to update its economic and social model, in the interest of moving forward in the development of the country, improving the wellbeing of the people and consolidating the achievements attained by the Socialist Revolution.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fidel’s message to President Nicolás Maduro

Dear Nicolás:
I share the unanimous opinion of those who have congratulated you for your brilliant, valiant speech on the night of December 6, as soon as the election’s outcome was announced
In world history, the highest level of political glory which a revolutionary can reach, is that of the illustrious Venezuelan combatant, Liberator of America, Simón Bolívar, whose name now belongs not only to this sister country, but to all peoples of Latin America.
Another Venezuelan official of honorable legacy, Hugo Chávez, understood and admired him and struggled for his ideas until the last moment of his life. As a boy, attending elementary school in the country where the poor children of Bolívar were obliged to work to help support their families, he developed the spirit in which the Liberator of America was forged.
The millions of children and youth who today attend the largest and most modern system of public schools in the world are Venezuelan. More can be said about the country’s network of medical care centers and the attention paid to the health of its people, brave but poor as a result of centuries of plunder by Spanish colonialism, and later by huge transnationals, which for more than 100 years extracted from its entrails the best of the immense oil reserves nature bestowed on this country.  
History also bears witness that workers exist, and make possible the enjoyment of nutritious food, medicine, education, security, housing and the world’s solidarity. You could ask the oligarchy, if you like: Do you know all of this?
Cuban revolutionaries - just a few miles from the United States, which always dreamed of taking possession of Cuba to make it a hybrid casino-brothel, as a way of life for the children of José Martí - will never renounce their full independence or respect for their dignity.
I am sure that human life on Earth can only be preserved with peace among all peoples of the Earth, and acknowledgement of the right to make the planet’s natural resources common property, as well as the sciences and technologies created by human beings to benefit all of its inhabitants. If humanity continues along the path of exploitation and the plunder of its resources by transnationals and imperialist banks, the representatives of states meeting in Paris, will draw the relevant conclusions.
Security does not exist today for anyone. There are nine states which possess nuclear weapons. One of them, the United States, dropped two bombs which killed hundreds of thousands of people in just three days, and caused physical and psychological harm to millions of defenseless people.
The People’s Republic of China and Russia know the world’s problems much better than the United States, because they were obliged to endure the terrible wars imposed on them by fascism’s blind egoism. I do not doubt that, given their historical traditions and their own revolutionary experience, they will make the greatest effort to avoid a war and contribute to the peaceful development of Venezuela, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Fidel Castro Ruz
 December 10, 2015

6:42 pm

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cuba's Raul Castro to Address UN Global Gathering This Month

Presidente de Cuba Raúl Castro
Cuban President Raul Castro is expected to address the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders later this month for the first time, the U.N. indicated Tuesday. This also would be Castro's first trip to the United States as president, though it's not clear what else he has planned.

An updated U.N. list of speakers notes that the Cuban head of state will speak at the gathering on Sept. 28, the same day that President Barack Obama is set to speak. Diplomats for the two countries last week formally launched the process of normalizing the U.S.-Cuba relationship, one of the top foreign policy achievements of Obama's presidency.

In April, Obama and Castro sat down together in the first formal meeting of the two country's leaders in a half-century.

A spokesman for Cuba's mission to the U.N. did not comment Tuesday on Castro's expected visit and only referred to the U.N. list of speakers.

Castro first will play host as Pope Francis visits Cuba from Sept. 19-22, ahead of Francis' own first trip to the United States.

More than 160 heads of state and government are set to attend this month's U.N. meeting, including Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are also among the first day's speakers.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Judge: May the United States walk in Cuban shoes

By David Brooks, August 18, 2015

This past weekend, [on August 14], the government of Barack Obama celebrated restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba with a message of  continued  support for a democratic future and an improved human rights situation on the island.

Meanwhile at home, news crops up that should be generating serious concern about the future of democracy in the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter declared that this country is ‘an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery.’ Human rights defenders and even the United Nations organization are denouncing serious abuses of civil and human rights. Policies there threaten freedom of expression and the rights to privacy and free association (labor unions included).  They have the biggest prison population in the world, and there is official sanction for the use of torture and for disappearing people, all in violation of international law.  On the one hand basic rights are eroding, voting rights included, and on the other data on economic inequality are without precedent since before the great depression. 

Perhaps now is the time to ask other countries and other activists in the world for support, assistance, and even intervention (unarmed) in order to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in the United States.

It seems, however, that the script for expressing such a message of “support” and international commitment to promoting democracy and rights in the United States already exists and says something like:

“We are in the business of assuring that the U.S. people have freedom and the capacity to participate and to shape their own destiny and their own lives.”  And, “our objective [is] to empower [U.S.] Americans for building an open and democratic country.” 

“No [U.S.] American should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they're exercising a universal right to have their voices heard, and we will continue to support civil society there …” (It’s worth remembering that in the past year, as U.S. authorities offered violent reaction to the wave of protest following events in Ferguson, [Missouri,] the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, called upon those in charge in the United States to guarantee protection of rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.)

Likewise, “we continue to believe that [U.S.] American workers should be free to form unions, just as their citizens should be free to participate in the political process.”

A spokesperson continues:  “[T]hrough a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the [U.S.] American people help themselves as they move into the 21st century. We are calling on the United States to unleash the potential of … millions of [U.S.] Americans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.”  
A series of actions would be announced that offer “continued strong support for the sake of improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in the United States.  The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of people to freely determine their future…”
And, “with this change, we will be able to substantially increase our contacts with the U.S. people.  …  And our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly throughout that country.  That will include the U.S. government, civil society, and ordinary [U.S.] Americans — who are looking for a better life. On issues of common interest …We will find new ways to cooperate with the United States.  And I’ve been clear that we will also continue to have some very serious differences.  That includes enduring support for universal values, like freedom of speech and assembly. …  And we will not hesitate to speak out when we see actions that contradict those values.”(1) 
While it was affirmed that self-determination would be respected and “that the future of the United States now has to be shaped by its own citizens, there was a warning that supervision will be maintained over ‘democratic principles’ and ‘democratic reforms’ in the United States.” 
According to a speaker, “We remain convinced the people of the United States would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith; where the commitment to economic and social justice is realized more fully; where institutions are answerable to those they serve.” (2)  
These public declarations would be consistent with democratization programs, among them the funding of various dissident organizations in order to create new channels of struggle in defense of human and civil rights inside the country. These would involve support offered to U.S. activists and defenders of human rights as they present cases of human and civil rights violations before the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and support also for their participation in training workshops aimed at improving their capacity to document cases and allowing them to share experiences with counterparts. These programs would promote consensus and cooperation among democratically-inclined U.S. activists, would open up access to uncensored information for ordinary citizens, and would defend “the rights of African-Americans and underrepresented communities…” (3)     

In the declarations and official descriptions cited here, one word has been substituted for another. The words “Cuba” and “Cubans” are replaced with “United States” or “[U.S.] Americans.”  The first footnote number in the text refers to official statements on Cuba issued by President Barack Obama or the White House from December 17, 2014, on. The second footnote number relates Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks in Havana on August 14, 2015. The third one points to part of the text describing in general those programs funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and directed at Cuba. 

Thus is confirmed the proverb: “Let the good judge begin at home.” 

David Brooks has served as U.S. correspondent for the Mexico City daily newspaper La Jornada since 1992. He is the author of several scholarly works and founder and coordinator of the Mexico – U.S. Diálogos Program. 

Source: La Jornada

Friday, August 14, 2015

"We will never stop struggling for peace and the well-being of all human beings" Fidel Castro

Writing is a way to be useful if you believe that our long-suffering humanity must be better, and more fully educated, given the incredible ignorance in which we are all enveloped, with the exception of researchers who in the sciences seek satisfactory answers. This is a word which implies in a few letters its immense content.

All of us in our youth heard talk at some point about Einstein, in particular after the explosion of the atomic bombs which pulverized Hiroshima and Nagasaki, putting an end to the cruel war between the United States and Japan.

When those bombs were dropped, after the war unleashed by the attack on the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Empire had already been defeated. The United States, whose territory and industries remained removed from the war, became the country with the greatest wealth and the best weaponry on Earth, in a world torn apart, full of death, the wounded and hungry.

The Soviet Union and China together lost more than 50 million lives, along with enormous material damage. Almost all of the gold in the world landed in the vaults of the United States. Today it is estimated that the entirety of this country’s gold reserves reached 8,133.5 tons of this metal. Despite that, tearing up the Bretton Woods accords they signed, the United States unilaterally declared that it would not fulfill its duty to back the Troy ounce with the value in gold of its paper money.

The measure ordered by Nixon violated the commitments made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. According to a large number of experts on the subject, the foundation of a crisis was created, which among other disasters threatens to powerfully batter the economy of this model of a country. Meanwhile, Cuba is owed compensation equivalent to damages, which have reached many millions of dollars, as our country has denounced throughout our interventions in the United Nations, with irrefutable arguments and facts.

As has been expressed with clarity by Cuba’s Party and government, to advance good will and peace among all the countries of this hemisphere and the many peoples who are part of the human family, and thus contribute to the survival of our species in the modest place the universe has conceded us, we will never stop struggling for peace and the well-being of all human beings, for every inhabitant on the planet regardless of skin color or national origin, and for the full right of all to hold a religious belief or not.

The equal right of all citizens to health, education, work, food, security, culture, science, and well being, that is, the same rights we proclaimed when we began our struggle, in addition to those which emerge from our dreams of justice and equality for all inhabitants of our world is what I wish for all. To those who share all or part of these same ideas, or superior ones along the same lines, I thank you, dear compatriots.

Fidel Castro Ruz
August 13, 2015 -- 1:23 a.m.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Statement by the Canadian Network on Cuba

Cuba and United States to Reopen Embassies – Another Historic Victory for Cuba’s Just and Principled Foreign Policy 
- Isaac Saney, Co-Chair & Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba, July 2nd - 

The Canadian Network On Cuba welcomes the historic July 1st announcement by the governments of Cuba and the United States that both countries will reopen embassies and restore full diplomatic relations on July 20th.  Washington had unilaterally severed diplomatic relations between the countries in 1961.  The restoration of full diplomatic relations represents the resounding failure of Washington’s policy to isolate and destroy the Cuban Revolution. Indeed, it was Washington that has become isolated in world opinion.  This isolation is epitomized by the annual United Nations massive rejection of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, and by the return of Cuba at the overwhelmingly insistence of the nations of the Americas to the 2015 Summit of the Americas. 

       There should be no doubt that the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations is a resounding vindication of Cuba’s immense struggle to control its destiny, achieve authentic self-determination and national development! It is a vindication of the just, principled and dignified foreign policy and revolutionary path that the Cuban people embarked on since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st, 1959! The Cuban people have not renounced or abandoned any of their revolutionary  principles!  This is not only a victory for Cuba but also a victory for all those who struggle to defend the inalienable and inviolable right of all peoples to self-determination and genuine independence! 

       Nevertheless, while we welcome the July 1st announcement, let us be clear: the restoration of full diplomatic relations does not equal the normalization of relations. Obama’s new policy does not mean that Washington has accepted the January 1st, 1959 verdict of the Cuban people. The struggle must continue to end the criminal and immoral economic blockade, Washington’s orchestrated ongoing campaign of subversion and to return the illegally occupied Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba. 

  The necessity to continue this struggle is poignantly captured by the recent June 27th victory of Cuba solidarity activists, who successfully defied the blockade by crossing the  border between the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec and the U.S. states of Maine and Washington to deliver material aid to the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan. Since 1992, this annual caravan has been challenging the U.S. economic blockade against the island-nation.  

        The struggle is not finished. The CNC, therefore, calls on the Canadian people to join in the efforts of the Canada-Cuba solidarity movement to end the criminal U.S. economic blockade, the occupation of Guantanamo Naval Base  and the ongoing campaign to destabilize Cuba. 

For information, contact: 
Isaac Saney
CNC National Spokesperson
Email: isaney@hotmail.com

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Statement by the Revolutionary Government of Cuba

After re-establishing diplomatic relations with the United States, the lifting of the blockade, among other aspects, will be indispensable for the normalization of relations.

On July 1st, 2015, the President of the Councils of State and of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, exchanged letters through which they confirmed their decision to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries and open permanent diplomatic missions in the respective capitals as from July 20, 2015.

On that same day, the official ceremony to open the Cuban Embassy in Washington will be held, which will be attended by a Cuban delegation presided over by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and made up by outstanding representatives of the Cuban society.

As Cuba and the United States take this formal step, they ratified their intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments, based on the principles and purposes enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law, particularly the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

The Government of Cuba has decided to re-establish diplomatic relations with the United States in the full exercise of its sovereignty and with an invariable commitment with its ideals of independence and social justice, and of solidarity with the just causes of the world, while reaffirming each and every one of the principles for which our people have shed their blood and run every risk under the leadership of the historical Leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

The re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies completes the first stage of what will be a long and complex process towards the normalization of bilateral relations, in which it will be necessary to solve a number of issues derived from policies that were implemented in the past that are still in force and affect the Cuban nation and its people.

There could be no normal relations between Cuba and the United States as long as the economic, commercial and financial blockade continues to be fully implemented, causing damage and scarcities to the Cuban people. The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our economy; it is a violation of International Law and affects the interests of all countries, including those of the United States.

In order to normalize relations, it will also be indispensable for the United States Government to return to Cuba the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base; cease the radio and television broadcasts, which violate international regulations and are harmful to our sovereignty; stop the implementation of programs aimed at promoting internal subversion and destabilization and compensate the Cuban people for all the human and economic damages caused by the United States policies.

Havana, July 1st, 2015 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 29-30, 2015: Weekend on Cuba

Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto

      PO Box 99051 – 1245 Dupont St     Toronto, Ontario    M6H 2A0     Tel: 416-410-8254   Fax: 905-951-8499
 Established 1977   CCFA Toronto      Email:  ccfatoronto@sympatico.ca   Website:   www.ccfatoronto.ca                                                       
                                                                                            Member of  www.CanadianNetworkonCuba.ca   (CNC)

Weekend on Cuba 2015

Friday, May 29   7:30 pm  
Five Decades of People to People Foreign Relations

Join author Nino Pagliccia and several of the contributors at the Toronto book launch of this collection of essays and stories about Canada’s solidarity movement in support of Cuba.

OISE Peace Lounge (7th floor),  252 Bloor Street (St. George Subway)

Saturday, May 30 (9am-5pm) & Sunday, May 31   (10am – 4:30pm)
Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) 7th Conference

This national conference brings delegates from around the country for a weekend of information, panels and planning for the Canadian Network on Cuba. Topics include: 70 Years of Diplomatic Relations, Cuba Today and Tomorrow. Limited public observation space.

Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Committee Room 2

Saturday, May 30  7:30pm
Fernando Gonzalez

Meet Cuban 5 Hero and Vice-President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples Fernando Gonzalez on his first visit to Canada. Fernando will be Joined by Dr. Jose Portilla Garcia of Cuba’s international medical missions to talk about Cuba’s Struggle for a better world.

Steelworker’s Hall, 25 Cecil Street

www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca       www.ccfatoronto.ca      416.410.8254

All events are free.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Raúl Castro at VII Summit of the Americas: "It was about time for me to speak here in the name of Cuba"


His Excellency Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panama;

Presidents and Prime Ministers;

Distinguished guests;

I appreciate the solidarity of all Latin American and Caribbean countries that made possible Cuba’s participation in this hemispheric forum on equal footing, and I thank the President of the Republic of Panama for the kind invitation extended to us. I bring a fraternal embrace to the Panamanian people and to the peoples of all nations represented here.

The establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on December 2-3, 2011, in Caracas, opened the way to a new era in the history of Our America, which made clear its well-earned right to live in peace and develop as their peoples freely decide, and chart the course to a future of peace, development and integration based on cooperation, solidarity and the common will to preserve their independence, sovereignty and identity.

The ideals of Simón Bolívar on the creation of a “Grand American Homeland” were a source of inspiration to epic campaigns for independence.

In 1800, there was the idea of adding Cuba to the North American Union to mark the southern boundary of the extensive empire. The 19thcentury witnessed the emergence of such doctrines as the Manifest Destiny, with the purpose of dominating the Americas and the world, and the notion of the ‘ripe fruit’, meaning Cuba’s inevitable gravitation to the American Union, which looked down on the rise and evolution of a genuine rationale conducive to emancipation.

Later on, through wars, conquests and interventions that expansionist and dominating force stripped Our America of part of its territory and expanded as far as the Rio Grande.

After long and failing struggles, José Martí organized the “necessary war”, and created the Cuban Revolutionary Party to lead that war and to eventually found a Republic “with all and for the good of all” with the purpose of achieving “the full dignity of man.”

With an accurate and early definition of the features of his times, Martí committed to the duty “of timely preventing the United States from spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”

To him, Our America was that of the Creole and the original peoples, the black and the mulatto, the mixed-race and working America that must join the cause of the oppressed and the destitute. Presently, beyond geography, this ideal is coming to fruition.

One hundred and seventeen years ago, on April 11, 1898, the President of the United States of America requested Congressional consent for military intervention in the independence war already won with rivers of Cuban blood, and that legislative body issued a deceitful Joint Resolution recognizing the independence of the Island “de facto and de jure”. Thus, they entered as allies and seized the country as an occupying force.

Subsequently, an appendix was forcibly added to Cuba’s Constitution, the Platt Amendment that deprived it of sovereignty, authorized the powerful neighbor to interfere in the internal affairs, and gave rise to Guantánamo Naval Base, which still holds part of our territory without legal right. It was in that period that the Northern capital invaded the country, and there were two military interventions and support for cruel dictatorships.

At the time, the prevailing approach to Latin America was the “gunboat policy” followed by the “Good Neighbor” policy. Successive interventions ousted democratic governments and in twenty countries installed terrible dictatorships, twelve of these simultaneously and mostly in South America, where hundreds of thousands were killed. President Salvador Allende left us the legacy of his undying example.

It was precisely 13 years ago that a coup d’état staged against beloved President Hugo Chávez Frías was defeated by his people. Later on, an oil coup would follow.

On January 1st, 1959, sixty years after the U.S. troops entered Havana, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and the Rebel Army commanded by Fidel Castro Ruz arrived in the capital.

On April 6, 1960, barely one year after victory, Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory drafted a wicked memorandum, declassified tens of years later, indicating that “The majority of Cubans support Castro […] An effective political opposition does not exist […]; the only foreseeable means of alienating internal support [to the government] is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship […] to weaken the economic life of Cuba […] denying it money and supplies to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

We have endured severe hardships. Actually, 77% of the Cuban people was born under the harshness of the blockade, but our patriotic convictions prevailed. Aggression increased resistance and accelerated the revolutionary process. Now, here we are with our heads up high and our dignity unblemished.

When we had already proclaimed socialism and the people had fought in the Bay of Pigs to defend it, President Kennedy was murdered, at the exact time when Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, was receiving his message seeking to engage Cuba in a dialogue.

After the Alliance for Progress, and having paid our external debt several times over while unable to prevent its constant growth, our countries were subjected to a wild and globalizing neoliberalism, an expression of imperialism at the time that left the region dealing with a lost decade.

Then, the proposal of a “mature hemispheric partnership” resulted in the imposition of the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA), --linked to the emergence of these Summits-- that would have brought about the destruction of the economy, sovereignty and common destiny of our nations, if it had not been derailed at Mar del Plata in 2005 under the leadership of Presidents Kirchner, Chavez and Lula. The previous year, Chavez and Fidel had brought to life the Bolivarian Alternative known today as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. 


We have expressed to President Barack Obama our disposition to engage in a respectful dialogue and work for a civilized coexistence between our states while respecting our profound differences.

I welcome as a positive step his recent announcement that he will soon decide on Cuba’s designation in a list of countries sponsor of terrorism, a list in which it should have never been included.

Up to this day, the economic, commercial and financial blockade is implemented against the Island with full intensity causing damages and scarcities that affect our people and becoming the main obstacle to the development of our economy. The fact is that it stands in violation of International Law, and its extraterritorial scope disrupts the interests of every State.

We have publicly expressed to President Obama, who was also born under the blockade policy and inherited it from 10 former Presidents when he took office, our appreciation for his brave decision to engage the U.S. Congress in a debate to put an end to such policy.

This and other issues should be resolved in the process toward the future normalization of bilateral relations.

As to us, we shall continue working to update the Cuban economic model with the purpose of improving our socialism and moving ahead toward development and the consolidation of the achievements of a Revolution that has set to itself the goal of “conquering all justice.”

Esteemed colleagues;

Venezuela is not, and it cannot be, a threat to the national security of a superpower like the United States. We consider it a positive development that the U.S. President has admitted it.

I should reaffirm our full, determined and loyal support to the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, to the legitimate government and civilian-military alliance headed by President Nicolas Maduro, and to the Bolivarian and chavista people of that country struggling to pursue their own path while confronting destabilizing attempts and unilateral sanctions that should be lifted; we demand the repeal of the Executive Order, an action that our Community would welcome as a contribution to dialogue and understanding in the hemisphere.

We shall continue encouraging the efforts of the Republic of Argentina to recover the Falklands, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and supporting its legitimate struggle in defense of financial sovereignty.

We shall maintain our support for the actions of the Republic of Ecuador against the transnational companies causing ecological damages to its territory and trying to impose blatantly unfair conditions.

I wish to acknowledge the contribution of Brazil, and of President Dilma Rouseff, to the strengthening of regional integration and the development of social policies that have brought progress and benefits to extensive popular sectors, the same that the thrust against various leftist governments of the region is trying to reverse.

We shall maintain our unwavering support for the Latin American and Caribbean people of Puerto Rico in its determination to achieve self-determination and independence, as the United Nations Decolonization Committee has ruled tens of times.

We shall also keep making our contribution to the peace process in Colombia.

We should all multiply our assistance to Haiti, not only through humanitarian aid but also with resources that help in its development, and, in the same token, support a fair and deferential treatment of the Caribbean countries in their economic relations as well as reparations for damages brought on them by slavery and colonialism.

We are living under threat of huge nuclear arsenals that should be removed, and are running out of time to counteract climate change. Threats to peace keep growing and conflicts spreading out.

As President Fidel Castro has said “[…] the main causes rest with poverty and underdevelopment, and with the unequal distribution of wealth and knowledge prevailing in the world. It cannot be forgotten that current poverty and underdevelopment are the result of conquest, colonization, slavery and plundering by colonial powers in most of the planet, the emergence of imperialism and the bloody wars for a new division of the world. Humanity should be aware of what they have been and should be no more. Today, our species has accumulated sufficient knowledge, ethical values and scientific resources to move forward to a historical era of true justice and humanism. Nothing of what exists today in economic and political terms serves the interests of Humanity. It cannot be sustained. It must be changed,” he concluded.

Cuba shall continue advocating the ideas for which our people have taken on enormous sacrifices and risks, fighting alongside the poor, the unemployed and the sick without healthcare; the children forced to live on their own, to work or be submitted to prostitution; those going hungry or discriminated; the oppressed and the exploited who make up the overwhelming majority of the world population.

Financial speculation, the privileges of Bretton Wood, and the unilateral removal of the gold standard have grown increasingly suffocating. We need a transparent and equitable financial system.

It is unacceptable that less than ten big corporations, mostly American, determine what is read, watched or listened to worldwide. The Internet should be ruled by international, democratic and participatory governance, particularly concerning its content. The militarization of cyberspace, and the secret and illegal use of computer systems to attack other States are equally unacceptable. We shall not be dazzled or colonized again.

Mister President;

It is my opinion that hemispheric relations need to undergo deep changes, particularly in the areas of politics, economics and culture, so that, on the basis of International Law and the exercise of self-determination and sovereign equality, they can focus on the development of mutually beneficial partnerships and cooperation in the interest of all our nations and the objectives proclaimed.

The adoption in January 2014, during the Second Summit of CELAC in Havana, of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone made a transcendental contribution to that end, marked by Latin American and Caribbean unity in diversity.

This is evident in the progress we are making toward genuinely Latin American and Caribbean integration processes through CELAC, UNASUR, CARICOM, MERCOSUR, ALBA-TCP, SICA and the ACS, which underline our growing awareness of the necessity to work in unison in order to ensure our development.

Through that Proclamation we have committed ourselves “to have differences between nations resolved peacefully, through dialogue and negotiation, and other ways consistent with International Law.”

Living in peace, and engaging in mutual cooperation to tackle challenges and resolve problems that, after all, are affecting and will affect us all, is today a pressing need.

As the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone sets forth, “the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition to secure peaceful coexistence between nations” should be respected.

Under that Proclamation we committed to observe our “obligation to not interfere, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State, and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and free determination of the peoples,” and to respect “the principles and standards of International Law […] and the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.”

That historical document urges “all member states of the International Community to fully respect this Declaration in its relations with the CELAC member States.”

We now have the opportunity, all of us here, as the Proclamation also states, of learning “to exercise tolerance and coexist in peace as good neighbors.”

There are substantial differences, yes, but also commonalities which enable us to cooperate making it possible to live in this world fraught with threats to peace and to the survival of the human species.

What is it that prevents cooperation at a hemispheric scale in facing climate change?

Why is it that the countries of the two Americas cannot fight together against terrorism, drug-trafficking and organized crime without politically biased positions?

Why can we not seek together the necessary resources to provide the hemisphere with schools, hospitals, employment, and to advance in the eradication of poverty?

Would it not be possible to reduce inequity in the distribution of wealth and infant mortality rates, to eliminate hunger and preventable diseases, and to eradicate illiteracy?

Last year, we established hemispheric cooperation to confront and prevent Ebola, and the countries of the two Americas made a concerted effort. This should stimulate our efforts toward greater achievements.

Cuba, a small country deprived of natural resources, that has performed in an extremely hostile atmosphere, has managed to attain the full participation of its citizens in the nation’s political and social life; with universal and free healthcare and education services; a social security system ensuring that no one is left helpless; significant progress in the creation of equal opportunities and in the struggle against all sorts of discrimination; the full exercise of the rights of children and women; access to sports and culture; and, the right to life and to public safety.

Despite scarcities and challenges, we abide by the principle of sharing what we have. Currently, 65 thousand Cuban collaborators are working in 89 countries, basically in the areas of healthcare and education, while 68 thousand professionals and technicians from 157 countries have graduated in our Island, 30 thousand of them in the area of healthcare.

If Cuba has managed to do this with very little resources, think of how much more the hemisphere could do with the political will to pool its efforts to help the neediest countries.

Thanks to Fidel and the heroic Cuban people, we have come to this Summit to honor Martí’s commitment, after conquering freedom with our own hands “proud of Our America, to serve it and to honor it […] with the determination and the capacity to contribute to see it loved for its merits and respected for its sacrifices.”

Thank you.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Some comments by Joe Grogan*

Just before Christmas, 2014, the world was startled and surprised to learn that Cuba and the United States had agreed to establish again formal relations which the U.S.A. had broken off in the early 1960s.

What are the implications for such a situation?  As a Canadian who has long supported the right of Cuba to build its nation as it sees fit, this news brought me a mixed reaction.  On the one hand, I can see how the Cuban people can benefit from such an arrangement because eventually there will be increased possibilities for American investments, jobs and revenues to/for Cuba.  Furthermore, there will be the possibility of less harassment from the United States a reality since the early days of the Cuban revolution and the armed struggle against the dictatorship of Batista who in reality was just a willing puppet for American interests-those of the multinational American corporations and the American Government itself.  On the other hand, there are concerns many supporters of Cuba have about the re-Americanization of Cuba, back to the sad reality of the 1950s.  There is no doubt that there will be pressures to please the Empire next door, particularly as there are opportunists in Cuba  just like here, those who love the almighty dollar.  In addition, some of us dreamers who believe another world is possible, one with less corruption and less mean-spirited behaviour, we do not want Cuban culture and history to be swamped by heavy influences from its huge neighbour.

I have concluded that the new relationship is in fact, a victory for Cuba and the Cuban people because in spite of many difficulties caused by the United States, the Americans have finally had to conclude that their attacks and efforts to isolate Cuba have instead only served to strengthen the resolve of the Cuban leadership and Cuban people to preserve the Cuban revolution, warts and all.  Besides, Cuba has become a beacon well-respected around the world for its efforts to resist and combat imperialism.  

In solidarity with the peoples of Africa and Latin America, Cuba has demonstrated by its actions what real solidarity is and how in addition it has supported the struggles of peoples in Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Panama and indeed countries of the Caribbean, such as Haiti (earthquake relief efforts), Jamaica, Dominica, and others.  In fact, this solidarity with other nations and peoples, especially in the Western Hemisphere has produced a situation where it is the United States that now is isolated, not Cuba.  Its previous policies towards Cuba have been shown to be a failure for all to see.

There will be struggles ahead for Cuba.  What kind of relationship will finally emerge will be based on what happens with the military base the United States still holds at Guantanamo and how quickly the U.S. will remove the Embargo against Cuba, in effect since the early 1960s.  That Embargo was designed to weaken the Cuban revolution by attacking it through economic sanctions which have hurt the Cuban people most of all.  Such an irrational and unjust war against Cuba has caused the United States to lose its international reputation as a peace-loving, generous nation.  There is a well-educated, dedicated and courageous cadre of Cubans who will continue the legacy of the Cuban revolution.  They will continue to emphasize the lessons of Che, Celia Sanchez, Cienfuegos, Fidel, Raul, Jose Marti and all others who fought for Cuba.

Joe Grogan is a retired professor from Humber College and long time activist in the solidarity movement in support of Cuba.