Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year. Felíz Año Nuevo.

A very happy 2011 to all the faithful readers of our blog. Health and happiness to all of you.

Les deseo a todos los lectores de Cuba Journal un felíz 2011, lleno de salud y alegrias.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

When Prophecy Fails. CNN ends with kaka on their faces.


CNN is becoming a gypsy fortune teller. They predicted the death of Fidel Castro in 2010. They will publish anything that will bring the suckers to their web page.

One of the most fascinating books that I read in a social science class when I was going to college was "When Prophecy Fails." Many obscure religious cults gain more adherents when the events that they had prophesied fail to materialize.

Christianity has been predicting the return of Jesus for 2,000+ years. More suckers keep coming and join every day.

Uncle Sam's Paranoia

It is a well known fact that when an individual decides to fight for social justice, peace, civil rights and/or a nation's sovereignty and independence, that person could find his name in a very secret list which the United States government is keeping after the New York twin towers came tumbling down on 9/11.

After supposedly defeating the "evil" communist empire during the early 1990's, Uncles Sam has determined that he has to have a new "enemy." War is good for businesses. This falls in line with the prediction by George Orwell in his 1984 book that the state -- in this case the U.S. -- would create an environment of perpetual warfare.

Very few are aware that the U.S. government is keeping a master watch list with the names of more than 440,000 Americans, 5% larger than last year. The Washington Post reports today that all it takes to have your name included in that list in one tip.

They add the following: "[the list] has made it even more likely that individuals who pose no threat will be swept up in the nation's security apparatus, leading to potential violations of their privacy and making it difficult for them to travel."

Both George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama have practically destroyed the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Paranoia reigns supreme in the U.S. today.

All it takes for you to be transfered to that huge prison which the United Sates keeps illegally in Guantanamo, Cuba, is for someone to submit one malicious tip about you. You can be labeled an 'enemy combatant' and you will certainly be tortured by the thug successors of Adolf Hitler.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Cuban Baseball Logos (small)

Cuba-Brazil ties will continue to grow

13:37, December 30, 2010

Officials from Cuba and Brazil Wednesday expressed a "common will" to continue enhancing ties after the tenure of Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, which ends on Saturday.

The consensus was reached by Cuban First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Brazilian ambassador to Cuba Jose Eduardo Martins during their talks here.

The pair "reviewed the excellent state of bilateral relations prior to the inauguration of the new president of Brazil" and "expressed their common will to strengthen and deepen the close links between the two countries," reads a statement released after the meeting.

Lula will be succeeded by Dilma Rousseff on Saturday, but the Cuban government hasn't made any announcement about its attendance at the inauguration ceremony.

Ties between Brazil and Cuba have warmed up since current Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva took office in 2003. Brazil has since then become a major economic and trade partner of Cuba.

Source: Xinhua

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

21 artillery salute to welcome the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban Revolution


Cuba's MINFAR has announced that at midnight on December 31, 2010, a 21 artillery salute will welcome the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

At the USIS building on the Malecón, the U.S. Marines guard has been ordered to wear ear plugs by Barack Obama.

Jose Marti, El Ojo del Canario, Best Cuban Film of 2010


Radio Cadena Agramonte

Havana, Cuba, Dec 29.- The film Marti, El Ojo Del Canario (Marti, the Eye of the Canary), directed by Fernando Perez, has been chosen by the Cuban Association of Film Critics as the best Cuban film of 2010.

A humanistic approach to the Cuban national hero's adolescence, the film won the Colon de Plata Award in Spain for best director and best photography and three Coral Awards along with eight collateral awards at the Havana Film Festival.

The Cuban film critics' group also chose Los Bañistas, by Carlos Lechuga, as the best fictional short film, while the cartoon Nikita Chama Boom shone as the pioneer of the genre in Cuba.

The list of best foreign films shown in 2010 included the Chilean film Post Mortem, by Pablo Larrain; the Argentinen La Mirada Invisible, by Diego Lerman; the Austrian La Cinta Blanca, by Michael Hanecke; the Spanish Celda 211, by Daniel Monzon, and Agora, by Alejandro Amenabar.

The group also listed the U.S. productions Inglorious Bastards, by Quentin Tarantino; The Hurt Locker, by Kathryn Bigelow; Avatar, by James Cameron, and Precious, by Lee Daniels. (Prensa Latina)

Cuba is set to move to Linux in 2011

English.news.cn 2010-12-29 16:44:16

HAVANA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cuba has set a strategic goal in 2011 to migrate most of its computers to open-source software, a move designed to strengthen the country's technological security and sovereignty.

Once the migration is fully implemented on the ground, the Cuban Nova Linux will be the operating system used in 90 percent of all working places, and Microsoft Office will be replaced by Open Office in all government institutions, Vice Minister of Information and Telecommunications Boris Moreno told Xinhua Tuesday.

The authorities also set a similar goal to replace Internet Explorer with Firefox, he added.

Moreno, responsible for managing the entire migration project, said besides saving money, the process would enhance Cuba's sovereignty in the field of technology.

"In 2010, Cuba made significant progress in migrating all its ministries and institutions to open source software," Moreno said.

Although the IT infrastructure of the country has not been entirely migrated, Cuban's General Customs of the Republic has completed the transition, becoming the first sector embracing free self-developed software.

The ministries of Education, Culture, Health, and Information and Communications are also considering following suit, the deputy minister said.

Cuba is ready to begin the distribution of open source operating system Nova Linux, which is being updated from the Ubuntu software, one of the most popular international distributions in the world, Moreno said.

The project headed by the University of Las Villas involves experts from the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA).

"Conditions are being set so that computers assembled in the country can be distributed with two operating systems. The new computers will be installed with Cuban Nova Linux (operating system) and Windows," Moreno said.

While the nation-wide migration to free software is well underway in government agencies, it is much more difficult to convince end users to shift to the open-source software, he said.

"The most difficult part of the migration campaign is to convince the end users, because Cuba has a strong tradition of using Microsoft Windows. Besides, resistance to change is a human nature," Moreno added .

In that regard, the Ministry of Information and Communications has created a Disclosure Committee aimed at developing a strategy to promote the use of open source software.

"The goal is to promote the culture of migration to open-source software among information technology professionals and the general public," Moreno said.

He added that the committee would also focus on raising public awareness of the importance of migration as a vital element to beef up technological security and sovereignty.

The Youth Clubs of Computing and Electronics (JC), an institution founded by Fidel Castro in 1987 to promote computer education in the country, has played an important role in the migration.

"The JC will remove Microsoft Office from its teaching courses and will gradually replace it with Open Office," Moreno said.

"To meet these objectives we must meet certain requirements for a legal point of view," he said, adding that it would not be an easy task as there were different types of licenses for various applications.

"We need professionals in the country who can advise all organizations on how to address the issue of migration to open source software from the legal point of view," concluded the vice minister.

The drive to migrate to open source software and to develop computer and telecommunication technology by Cuba itself is included in a program aimed at updating the nation's economic model in an effort to address the economic crisis.

-----

JG: Way to go Cuba!

I have been using Ubuntu Linux for close to two years now. It is much better than the overpriced and buggy OS that Bill Gates peddles. And being a retired programmer, I can change anything in the software that I don't like, without a license that has as its sole purpose the maintenance of software monopolies.

In the web browser arena, I am extremely impressed with the Opera browser, but I continue to use Firefox so I can have the 'No-Script' plugin, something that Opera does not have yet.

El Zunzuncito, Cuba's smalest bird


The Bee Hummingbird or Zunzuncito (Mellisuga helenae) is a species of hummingbird that is endemic to Cuba and Isla de la Juventud. With a mass of approximately 1.8 grams (0.063 oz) and a length of 5 centimetres (2.0 in), it is the smallest living bird.

Cuba Commutes Death Sentence for U.S.-Based Terrorist

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Havana, Cuba, Dec 29.- The State Security Court of the Cuban People's Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of terrorist Humberto Eladio Real Suarez to 30 years in prison.

The court issued its ruling on Tuesday, at the conclusion of an appeal hearing for Real Suarez, who was given the death sentence for the crimes of acts against state security, murder, and the firing of a firearm against another person.

In making its decision, the court took into consideration a Council of State decree on April 28, 2008, via which the death penalty of several convicted criminals were commuted, as well as the remorse demonstrated by Real Suarez regarding the crimes committed.

The court also upheld the guilty verdict of Real Suarez with respect to the crimes for which he was sentenced in the Villa Clara People's Provincial Court.

It was in Villa Clara that Real Suarez illegally entered the country early in the morning of Oct. 15, 1994. He was coming from the United States as part of a terrorist group of six other Cubans based in that country, led by a counterrevolutionary, Miami-based organization, the Democratic National Unity Party (PUND).

During his entry into the country, Real Suarez murdered a resident of the town of Caibarien.

The group was arrested by Cuban authorities, who seized five AK-47 assault rifles, an AR-15, an M-14S, four pistols and other items, the Cubadebate website reported.

The seven men testified in court that they were recruited by the PUND from 1993 to 1994 and received military training in several camps in the U.S. state of Florida with the goal of secretly entering Cuba.

Their plan was to set themselves up in the Escambray Mountains, very close to where their boat landed, to organize guerrilla forces and carry out actions to destabilize the country.

Ever since the Revolution was victorious in 1959, some 713 acts of terrorism have been carried out against Cuba, 56 of them after 1990, and they were organized and financed by forces within the United States.

Those actions caused 3,478 deaths and 2,099 permanently mutilated victims. (Prensa Latina)

The defense attorney of Gerardo Hernández denies that they are contradicting the Cuban governement

Gerardo Hernández and his bird, Cardenal

The defense attorney of an imprisoned Cuban agent in the United States, Gerardo Hernandez, denied on Tuesday that they have filed a legal action that contradicts the arguments of the government in Havana in regards to the downing, 14 years ago, of two planes of an extremist group in Miami that left four persons dead.

U.S. attorney Richard Klugh described as "wrong and unfounded" an article published today in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald of Miami, according to which Hernandez would have recognized a surprising change "that the incident occurred over international waters," instead of Cuban air space, as advocated by the authorities of the island.

More (in Spanish) at Cubadebate.

In Spanish: "La Historia Oculta del Sionismo"

Click here to download the PDF file.

'Berniebuster' Coverage


Click here to see the excellent page put together by Senator Sander's office.

BERNIE SANDERS IN 2012!

Obama Approval Rating Falls to 39%

68% Say Nation Headed in Wrong Direction

UTICA, New York - President Barack Obama's job approval rating has fallen again to 39%, equaling a low since he took office. Also, 63% of likely voters say Obama is a weak leader, compared to 19% who label him strong.

Much of the slippage in Obama's approval rating from 42% on Dec. 1 was caused by a drop of nine percentage points among Democrats (82% to 73%). His approval also went down among independents, from 39% to 36%. Just 7% of Republicans approve. His approval was also 39% on Nov. 22.

These results are from a Zogby Interactive poll of 1,914 likely voters conducted from Dec. 8-10, 2010.

Another manifestation of hate in America

Mosques receiving hate mail

Sunday, 12.26.2010, 09:34pm

DETROIT — Metro Detroit mosques have been receiving hate mail from unknown senders in the past few weeks. The most recent mail was sent to a mosque in Detroit.

The flyers were of hateful disturbing images, labeling Muslims as terrorists. Another local mosque received a package of a Qur'an smeared with feces.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported the hate mail to the U.S. Postal Service which is attempting the track down the senders.

Until the sender is located, CAIR is urging mosques and Muslim organizations to be careful when opening mail without a return address.

Source: The Arab American News

Cuba desmiente manipulación de El Nuevo Herald sobre Gerardo Hernández

Publicado el diciembre 28, 2010 por Yohandry Fontana

Ricardo Alarcón:


Ahora, cuando se acerca el día en que Estados Unidos debe responder a la petición de habeas corpus a favor de Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, su último recurso legal, algunos medios norteamericanos lo calumnian miserable y cobardemente y tratan de engañar y desviar la atención para confundir al movimiento solidario. Independientemente del derecho irrenunciable de Cuba a defender su soberanía, en el juicio seguido contra Gerardo y sus compañeros en Miami no fue presentada evidencia alguna que lo vinculase con el lamentable incidente del 24 de febrero de 1996. En esta hora decisiva quieren hacernos olvidar que en mayo de 2001 en una dramática y urgente demanda ante la Corte de Apelaciones la propia Fiscalía reconoció que carecía totalmente de pruebas y solicitó modificar la acusación originalmente presentada contra nuestro compañero. Pese a ello fue sentenciado con brutal desmesura por un supuesto crimen que no existió y con el cual, en cualquier caso, Gerardo no tenía absolutamente nada que ver. Es imposible encontrar ejemplo parecido de injusticia.

Exhortemos al movimiento de solidaridad y a toda la gente honesta a levantar sus voces en defensa de Gerardo. El Gobierno de Estados Unidos sabe que él es inocente y que nunca hubo pruebas para acusarlo. Hay que exigirle que lo ponga en libertad ya. A él y a Ramón, Antonio, Fernando y René, cinco Héroes de la República de Cuba. El Presidente Obama puede y debe liberarlos ahora mismo, sin condiciones, inmediatamente. A todos y cada uno de ellos, a los Cinco, sin excepción.

Continuar lectura aquí.

The growing racism of Zionist Israel

An Israeli group of prominent rabbis' wives has urged Jewish girls not to date or work with Arabs, reports telegraph.co.uk.

------

JG: Zionism has always been a racist ideology. The U.S. should cut off immediately all foreign aid to that evil state.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A very good name for a Capitalist bank in India!

The New York Times reports about a very peculiar name for a bank in India. The name fits capitalism to a T.

The name of the bank is Robobank. Robo is theft in Spanish. Maybe they will unveil a new slogan very soon: "At Robobank, we make money the old fashioned way: we steal it!"

Barack Hoover Obama

Excerpts from Harper's Magazine:

The best indications now are that [Barack Obama] will fail, because he will be unable — indeed he will refuse — to seize the radical moment at hand.

Every instinct the president has honed, every voice he hears in Washington, every inclination of our political culture urges incrementalism, urges deliberation, if any significant change is to be brought about. The trouble is that we are at one of those rare moments in history when the radical becomes pragmatic, when deliberation and compromise foster disaster. The question is not what can be done but what must be done.

We have confronted such emergencies only a few times before in the history of the Republic: during the secession crisis of 1860–61, at the start of World War II, at the outset of the Cold War and the nuclear age. Probably the moment most comparable to the present was the start of the Great Depression, and for the scope and the quantity of the problems he is facing, Obama has frequently been compared with Franklin Roosevelt. So far, though, he most resembles the other president who had to confront that crisis, Herbert Hoover.

A Wimpy Cuban Dissident!


The Miami gusanos allege that Calixto Ramon Martinez, pictured above, was beaten by [Cuban] State Security.

Poor little thing! Notice the massive injuries received by this XXI century "freedom fighter" who happens to be carrying the flag of the Yankee imperialists inside Cuba.

Will the imperialists, acting behind the scenes, demand that he be given a Nobel Peace Price?

I say that this wimp probably had too many mojitos with his monthly welfare check from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana's Malecón, and he fell down while trying to reach the toilet.

The 'Vive Bien' of the U.S. military

For those who are not fluent in Spanish, 'Vive Bien' is the man-on-the-street definition of a parasite.

Here is a very interesting story about the 'Vive Bien' in the U.S. Military.

USA TODAY: Military mentors paid well for advice

In a little-known practice, the military pays retired generals and admirals to help run war games and offer advice.

Many of those advisers also work for the defense industry. In their role as "senior mentors," some of the former officers are paid as much as $340 an hour, or more than triple their rate of pay as high-level, active-duty officers. Some earn even more as consultants and board members of defense companies. The military has never released a full list of the mentors, and it does not collect details on their outside financial interests. Through data obtained from the services and other public records, USA TODAY identified 158 senior mentors, who are listed in the chart below.

MORE: Retired military officers cash in as well-paid consultants

Of that number, 80% had financial ties to defense contractors, according to public records and interviews, including 29 who were full-time executives of defense companies. Playing those dual roles is not prohibited by law or regulation.

Sources: The Pentagon, interviews, public records

WikieLeaks Cable: 09HAVANA592

December 18, 2010

Viewing cable 09HAVANA592, GOC SIGNALS “READINESS TO MOVE FORWARD”


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09HAVANA592 2009-09-25 17:05 2010-12-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana
VZCZCXRO4752
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHUB #0592/01 2681739
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251739Z SEP 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4792
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0093
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0050
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0159
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0027
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0006
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PRO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 HAVANA 000592

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CCA
DEPT FOR USAID/LAC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2019
TAGS: PREL CASC EAID ETTC ODIP OEXC OFDP PHSA PHUM
SNAR, AA
SUBJECT: GOC SIGNALS “READINESS TO MOVE FORWARD”

REF: A. A) HAVANA 511 (”USINT FOLLOW-UP ON MIGRATION
TALKS”)
¶B. B) HAVANA 512 (”BRITISH EMBASSY SEEKS TO BUILD
CIVIL SOCIETY”)
¶C. C) HAVANA 437 (”GOC RESPONDS TO TIP DESIGNATION”)

Classified By: Political Counselor Joaquin Monserrate for Reason 1.4(D)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Avowing a “readiness to move forward in our
relationship,” the Government of Cuba granted us
unprecedented access to its state institutions during the
visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams
from September 16 to 22. To underscore the move, the GOC
also offered the Mission quarterly consular access to jailed
Cuban-Americans that we identified, and extended full
diplomatic protections and multiple-entry visas to USINT’s
Marine Security Guards and temporary duty personnel. The
country’s leading opposition figures told DAS Williams that
they were heartened by the increased lines of
government-to-government communications and encouraged the
United States to continue prying open these links. The key
to normalizing relations, DAS Williams told the Cubans, was
not to be found solely in the degree of bilateral engagement
between the United States and Cuba, but in the Cuban
Government,s efforts to engage its own people and to respond
to their wishes. The visit included DAS Williams,
participation in the United States - Cuba Direct Mail Talks
held in Havana on September 18 (Septel), and took place
during the much talked-about “Peace Without Borders” musical
concert held on September 20. END SUMMARY.

AN UNPRECEDENTED WEEK
——————–

¶2. (C) WHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Bisa Williams led the
U.S. delegation to the Direct Mail Talks with Cuba on
September 18. In the following four days, DAS Williams met
with officials from the Foreign Relations, Justice,
Agriculture, Health and Interior ministries, the Prosecutors’
Office, the University of Havana, and local officials in the
Province of Pinar del Rio. DAS Williams also held
roundtables with the leading figures from Cuba’s dissident
and blogger communities, and with resident EU ambassadors.
In addition, she was allowed to travel twice outside the
Havana Province perimeter, to visit the Latin American School
of Medicine and the areas hardest hit by hurricanes in 2008
in the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio.

“CONFIDENCE BUILDING” KEY TO MOVE FORWARD
——————————

¶3. (C) DAS Williams discussed the purpose and ramifications
of her visit and the Mail Talks during an extended meeting
with Vice Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez. They agreed
that further “confidence building” was essential, and
acknowledged the considerable work that lies ahead. When DAS
Williams brought up the treatment of prisoners in Cuban
jails, for instance, Rodriguez noted how dialogue on this
would be possible but only with countries with which there is
“sufficient confidence” and mutual respect. The same, he
said, applied to scholarships and lifting reciprocal travel
restrictions on U.S. diplomats in Cuba and Cuban diplomats in
Washington, to name just two areas.

¶4. (C) VM Rodriguez seemed optimistic that things were
moving in a positive direction. “We see a change in the
rhetoric,” he told Williams. “Even within the existing
diplomatic constraints, we see a way forward.” In granting

HAVANA 00000592 002 OF 006

almost all of DAS Williams’ requests for Government of Cuba
(GOC) meetings, “we meant to show our readiness to move
forward in our relationship,” he added.

RELAXING RESTRICTIONS ON USINT
—————————

¶5. (C) At the meeting, VM Rodriguez announced that the GOC
would grant the Mission, effective immediately, access to
eight Cuban-Americans serving prison terms here (REF A),
including those outside the confines of Havana Province, and
extend diplomatic protections to our short and long-term
temporary duty personnel, including granting them
multiple-entry visas (Note: The GOC,s abrupt decision in
2007 to stop issuing multiple-entry visas to the U.S. MSG
detachment has been a bilateral point of contention as well
as a serious morale and operational challenge for post . End
Note). That is as far as it goes for now, the VM said.
Acknowledging that the USG has already indicated readiness to
move from authorized to notified travel for Cuban diplomats
in Washington, Rodriguez said that more confidence-building
would be required before the GOC would be willing to lift
long-standing restrictions on travel by USINT personnel
outside Havana.

STILL WARY OF OUR HUMAN RIGHTS AGENDA
—————————-

¶6. (C) Although VM Rodriguez said that the domestic travel
restrictions had been placed in response to U.S. limits on
Cuban diplomats in Washington, he complained about our
emphasis on raising human rights wherever we go. “I would
note that when those trips took place, they were only used
for just one type of activity,” he said, in reference to
outreach to the island’s political opposition. “Sometimes it
seemed that the only purpose of the trip was to pursue that
type of meeting.” He went on to complain that “your policy
until now has been that civil society is only made up of one
type of people; Cuban civil society is much broader than
these small circles.”

¶7. (C) The Foreign Ministry repeatedly warned DAS Williams
about meeting with leading dissident “criminals,” and was
especially sensitive to the idea that international media
might portray such contact in a way that embarrasses the
regime. VM Rodriguez showed no flexibility on the two
specific human rights cases raised, requests for medical
leave for prisoner of conscience XXXXXXXXXXXX and an
exit permit for the wife of prisoner of conscience XXXXXXXXXXXX
to travel to Spain for medical treatment.

THE EU ON THE GROUND AND THE OPPOSITION
———————————————

¶8. (C) The Ambassadors of Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom,
Hungary, France and the EU charge, told DAS Williams at a
roundtable meeting that the access of their visitors to the
GOC was always conditioned on shunning the opposition. When
they learned that Williams would see opposition anyway, they
announced that they would protest the “double standard” and
would begin to demand similar leeway for their visitors.

¶9. (C) The meeting with the EU countries exposed the
divisions between those that place human rights at the top of
their agenda, like Sweden and the UK, and those that do not,
like Spain and France. Some in the latter camp, joined by
the EU representative at the meeting, dismissed the
dissidents in the same terms as the GOC, insisting that “they

HAVANA 00000592 003 OF 006

do not represent anyone.” The UK Ambassador told us that the
EU was so divided that they could not even agree upon a set
of specific human rights benchmarks. (REF B) “It’s not that
we’re not doing human rights,” the EU rep replied, “but we
want to trade and invest.” The UK Ambassador told us on the
side that potential visitors from countries interested in
meeting with civil society (e.g., UK, Hungary) are undercut
with the GOC by visits from EU countries who are not
interested (e.g., Spain, France). The EU group was uniformly
critical of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, yet they volunteered
that the embargo gave the USG leverage with the GOC which the
EU lacked.

OPTIMISM IN THE CUBAN CIVIL SOCIETY
———————–

¶10. (C) DAS Williams met separately with a broad range of
civil society activists, including dissidents, former
political prisoners, independent journalists and bloggers.
Although scathing in their assessment of the GOC’s intentions
towards the United States, they all strongly supported
continued government-to-government engagement and expressed
great appreciation for the opportunity to meet with a
visiting high-ranking U.S. official. “For the first time
Cuba has an administration in the U.S. which is dealing
intelligently and eschewing rhetoric,” XXXXXXXXXXXX
told us. They also urged patience.
“The process of change is afoot, I know it will be slow, but
the top is crumbling,” XXXXXXXXXXXX stated.

¶11. (C/NF) The bloggers, who partly out of self-preservation
do not want to be lumped in with the dissident community,
were equally optimistic about the course of events. “An
improvement in relations with the United States is absolutely
necessary for democracy to emerge here,” blogging pioneer and
Time magazine’s 100-most influential person XXXXXXXXXXXX
told DAS Williams in her modest apartment. “Restrictions
only hurt us,” she added. “Do you know how much more we
could do if we could use Pay Pal or purchase things on-line
with a credit card?”

POSSIBLE OPENING FOR ACADEMIC COOPERATION
—————————–

¶12. (C) In DAS Williams, meetings with Cuban officials, the
GOC criticized the USG,s “one-sided” approach to academic
cooperation. VM Rodriguez said that, as confidence builds,
the GOC would review whether to loosen its strict stance on
U.S.-sponsored scholarships. “The key is what kind of
relationship we have, it doesn’t make sense to do
scholarships now when relations are poor.” He noted, however,
that Cuba would prefer scholarships in the hard sciences, and
in the past the USG had offered only social science courses.

¶13. (C) Despite this, DAS Williams, meeting at the
University of Havana was positive, constructive, and frank,
with a focus on learning from past failures and exploring
avenues for future cooperation. The University was
represented by the Vice Rector for International Relations,
the Director of the Center for U.S. Studies, and other
faculty and staff. The Vice Rector noted approvingly that
this was the highest ranking U.S. visit ever to the
University, and hoped that this indicated a positive change
in posture towards academic cooperation. University
officials appeared open to DAS Williams, suggestion that
they invite USINT COM or other American speakers to the

HAVANA 00000592 004 OF 006

university to discuss topics of interest to students in an
academic, symposium-like setting where there could be real
give and take.

EXPLAINING THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
——————————-

¶14. (C) DAS Williams told officials that the USG was
concerned that Cuban students who had applied for the
USG-offered scholarships were now being subjected to
reprisals and discriminatory treatment at the university.
She noted that although the university may not have
sanctioned such treatment, we had credible reports of its
occurrence. Responding, University officials denied reports
of officially-sanctioned mistreatment of USG scholarship
applicants. They said that the reason the students were
prevented from accepting the scholarships stemmed from lack
of advanced coordination with the University. Noting that
the USG scholarship program was course credit-oriented and
was not compatible with the University,s course structure
which could not accommodate any lengthy absence during the
academic year, the Vice Rector suggested that in the future
we propose graduate-level research courses. University of
Havana officials were surprised when DAS Williams noted that
we had shared information with the Foreign Ministry regarding
the proposed educational exchanges well in advance, forcing
the a Foreign Ministry representative at the meeting to
explain that the GOC had decided unilaterally as a matter of
foreign policy that Cuban students would not be allowed to
participate in the program.

LAW ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION
———————————————

¶15. (C) The GOC pushed hard for increased law enforcement
cooperation, especially in counternarcotics. The top drug
fighter at the Interior Ministry, Colonel Jorge Samper,
commented that bilateral cooperation was often one-sided, and
that the GOC would like to be able to work more closely with
the United States in sharing information about trafficking
patterns in the region. Foreign Ministry officials told us
that they would be submitting “next month at the latest” a
proposal to increase cooperation in counter-narcotics
trafficking, including money laundering. (Note: this is the
same proposal that the Foreign Ministry promised to deliver
the week after the Migration Talks in New York in July).

¶16. (C) The GOC also informed us that they had no objections
to the voluntary repatriation of Amcit fugitive Luis Armando
Pena Soltren who is wanted in the United States for hijacking
an aircraft from the United States to Cuba in 1968. The
GOC also received with obvious interest a request from the
U.S. Department of Justice that Cuba provide evidence and
witnesses in the case against XXXXXXXXXXXX, a request
we made to the Foreign Ministry by diplomatic note during the
visit.

CHALLENGING OUR TIPS, TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS LISTS
————————————-

¶17. (C) DAS Williams told Justice and Foreign ministry
officials that we were aware of the Cuban government,s
dissatisfaction with their ranking in the U.S. reports on
trafficking in persons and human rights. (REF C) She
encouraged the GOC to meet with USINT officials to provide
data relevant to both reports, stressing in particular that
the trafficking report required information on prosecutions
that we had been unable to verify. They bristled at the mere

HAVANA 00000592 005 OF 006

suggestion. “Nowhere in international law does it say that
the U.S. should or can prepare a report on Cuba,” the
Director of the International Cooperation Division of the
Justice Ministry stated. “With all due respect, we have no
obligation to report anywhere except to the international
bodies. When we get to the day of normalization, we could
perhaps get to a point where we can discuss these things.”

¶18. (C) On terrorism, the Cubans took a similar line. “What
right do you have to judge other countries?” VM Rodriguez
asked. “If we were to do our own list the U.S. would be
there because in the United States there are thousands of
Cubans who are truly terrorists.” However, on terrorism the
Cubans seemed slightly less reluctant to engage. DAS
Williams stressed that removal from the sponsors of
terrorism list would be possible if specific procedures were
followed and she encouraged VFM Rodriguez to meet with COM
Farrar to review the process. “You just told us to study how
to get off the list without telling us how,” Foreign
Ministry’s Director of the International Cooperation Josefina
Vidal pleaded, leaving the door open to further discussions
on this.

U.S. FUGITIVES
—————-

¶19. (C) DAS Williams took the opportunity to press the
Cubans on the over 100 fugitives believed to be resident in
Cuba. She told Interior and Foreign Ministry officials that
the issue would not go away and that we would continue to
seek their return. Noting that similar Cuban requests were
ignored in the early 1960s, Vidal quipped: “We have a long
list ourselves.”

MAKING AN IMPACT IN THE HURRICANE IMPACT ZONE
————————————–

¶20. (C) DAS Williams got a chance to visit the worst-hit
areas by hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008, in Cuba’s
westernmost province of Pinar del Rio. Unlike in 2008, when
we were kept at arm’s length by the GOC, the regional
authorities received us warmly, giving us a detailed
presentation of the damage and rebuilding work. The
Venezuelans supplied roofing material — “they send us one
container after another, week after week,” Provincial
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us — and even building a model 38-home neighborhood of aluminum-walled, steamy homes. Stiff and unsure of our intentions at first, the Chairman and his entourage became progressively affable as the visit went on, even riding in the USINT van with our delegation to encourage us to visit more often.

THE MEDICAL SCHOOL
——————–

¶21. (C) Despite having repeatedly denied USINT permission to
visit the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) just outside
the limits of Havana Province, the GOC consented to DAS
Williams’ request. At ELAM, we met a half-dozen American
students who enrolled in the six-year program through the
U.S.-based Pastors for Peace program. They were enthusiastic
with ELAM’s focus on social work, and happy to see their
country’s representatives. They told us that they were
unaware that USINT had been kept from visiting them at ELAM.
The students had few complaints about the school, but at
least one urged for assistance in easing the process of
receiving funds from home. All of the students lamented that
their academic study in Cuba does not qualify them to defer

HAVANA 00000592 006 OF 006

payment of their undergraduate student loans as they would
have been able to if they had pursued medical training in the
U.S. (Note: USINT Consular section will follow-up with CA on
how to facilitate their ability to receive financial support
from their parents in the U.S. End Note.)

THE CONCERT
————-

¶22. (C) While the visit was taking place, another event
–the “Peace Without Borders” concert organized by Colombian
musician Juanes– dominated the news. Cubans of all stripes
read subtle messages everywhere, from the song selections to
the statements proffered from the stage. What was unique was
how universally praised the concert was here. Vice Foreign
Minister Rodriguez and XXXXXXXXXXXX both agreed that the
concert had turned a page in Cuban history. “The concert is
a beginning, it’s part of what are doing,” Rodriguez said.

COMMENT: TIME TO TAKE STOCK AND FOLLOW UP
—————————————

¶23. (C) It is hard to overstate just how markedly improved
were our dealings with the Cuban Government and GOC
institutions during the Mail Talks and subsequent meetings of
DAS Williams’ visit. Whether this presages a true
operational shift on the part of the GOC remains to be seen.
What is clear is that the GOC is willing to fine-tune its
adversarial stance if it sees it in its interest to do so.
This presents us with enormous opportunities to set and
influence the terms of our future exchanges (Septel). As we
did during the visit, we will continue to press the point
that the GOC engagement with the Cuban people will do more to
influence the bilateral relationship than its
government-to-government engagement. Nonetheless, there are
a number of action items from the various meetings that
provide opportunity for us to test the GOC,s willingness to
continue to make progress on issues of interest.

FARRAR

Link to a Spanish translation of the cable

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chris Hedges: America is in Need of a Moral Bailout

Truthdig

Posted on Mar 22, 2009

By Chris Hedges

In decaying societies, politics become theater. The elite, who have hollowed out the democratic system to serve the corporate state, rule through image and presentation. They express indignation at AIG bonuses and empathy with a working class they have spent the last few decades disenfranchising, and make promises to desperate families that they know will never be fulfilled. Once the spotlights go on they read their lines with appropriate emotion. Once the lights go off, they make sure Goldman Sachs and a host of other large corporations have the hundreds of billions of dollars in losses they incurred playing casino capitalism repaid with taxpayer money.

We live in an age of moral nihilism. We have trashed our universities, turning them into vocational factories that produce corporate drones and chase after defense-related grants and funding. The humanities, the discipline that forces us to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of structures, that trains us to be self-reflective and critical of all cultural assumptions, have withered. Our press, which should promote such intellectual and moral questioning, confuses bread and circus with news and refuses to give a voice to critics who challenge not this bonus payment or that bailout but the pernicious superstructure of the corporate state itself. We kneel before a cult of the self, elaborately constructed by the architects of our consumer society, which dismisses compassion, sacrifice for the less fortunate, and honesty. The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. The capacity for manipulation is what is most highly prized. And our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Theodor Adorno in 1967 wrote an essay called “Education After Auschwitz.” He argued that the moral corruption that made the Holocaust possible remained “largely unchanged.” He wrote that “the mechanisms that render people capable of such deeds” must be made visible. Schools had to teach more than skills. They had to teach values. If they did not, another Auschwitz was always possible.

“All political instruction finally should be centered upon the idea that Auschwitz should never happen again,” he wrote. “This would be possible only when it devotes itself openly, without fear of offending any authorities, to this most important of problems. To do this, education must transform itself into sociology, that is, it must teach about the societal play of forces that operates beneath the surface of political forms.”

Our elites are imploding. Their fraud and corruption are slowly being exposed as the disparity between their words and our reality becomes wider and more apparent. The rage that is bubbling up across the country will have to be countered by the elite with less subtle forms of control. But unless we grasp the “societal play of forces that operates beneath the surface of political forms” we will be cursed with a more ruthless form of corporate power, one that does away with artifice and the seduction of a consumer society and instead wields power through naked repression.

I had lunch a few days ago in Toronto with Henry Giroux, professor of English and cultural studies at McMaster University in Canada and who for many years was the Waterbury Chair Professor at Penn State. Giroux, who has been one of the most prescient and vocal critics of the corporate state and the systematic destruction of American education, was driven to the margins of academia because he kept asking the uncomfortable questions Adorno knew should be asked by university professors. He left the United States in 2004 for Canada.

“The emergence of what Eisenhower had called the military-industrial-academic complex had secured a grip on higher education that may have exceeded even what he had anticipated and most feared,” Giroux, who wrote “The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex,” told me. “Universities, in general, especially following the events of 9/11, were under assault by Christian nationalists, reactionary neoconservatives and market fundamentalists for allegedly representing the weak link in the war on terrorism. Right-wing students were encouraged to spy on the classes of progressive professors, the corporate grip on the university was tightening as made clear not only in the emergence of business models of governance, but also in the money being pumped into research and programs that blatantly favored corporate interests. And at Penn State, where I was located at the time, the university had joined itself at the hip with corporate and military power. Put differently, corporate and Pentagon money was now funding research projects and increasingly knowledge was being militarized in the service of developing weapons of destruction, surveillance and death. Couple this assault with the fact that faculty were becoming irrelevant as an oppositional force. Many disappeared into discourses that threatened no one, some simply were too scared to raise critical issues in their classrooms for fear of being fired, and many simply no longer had the conviction to uphold the university as a democratic public sphere.”

Frank Donoghue, the author of “The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities,” details how liberal arts education has been dismantled. Any form of learning that is not strictly vocational has at best been marginalized and in many schools has been abolished. Students are steered away from asking the broad, disturbing questions that challenge the assumptions of the power elite or an economic system that serves the corporate state. This has led many bright graduates into the arms of corporate entities they do not examine morally or ethically. They accept the assumptions of corporate culture because they have never been taught to think.

Only 8 percent of U.S. college graduates now receive degrees in the humanities, about 110,000 students. Between 1970 and 2001, bachelor’s degrees in English declined from 7.6 percent to 4 percent, as did degrees in foreign languages (2.4 percent to 1 percent), mathematics (3 percent to 1 percent), social science and history (18.4 percent to 10 percent). Bachelor’s degrees in business, which promise the accumulation of wealth, have skyrocketed. Business majors since 1970-1971 have risen from 13.6 percent of the graduation population to 21.7 percent. Business has now replaced education, which has fallen from 21 percent to 8.2 percent, as the most popular major.

The values that sustain an open society have been crushed. A university, as John Ralston Saul writes, now “actively seeks students who suffer from the appropriate imbalance and then sets out to exaggerate it. Imagination, creativity, moral balance, knowledge, common sense, a social view—all these things wither. Competitiveness, having an ever-ready answer, a talent for manipulating situations — all these things are encouraged to grow. As a result amorality also grows; as does extreme aggressivity when they are questioned by outsiders; as does a confusion between the nature of good versus having a ready answer to all questions. Above all, what is encouraged is the growth of an undisciplined form of self-interest, in which winning is what counts.”

This moral nihilism would have terrified Adorno. He knew that radical evil was possible only with the collaboration of a timid, cowed and confused population, a system of propaganda and a press that offered little more than spectacle and entertainment and an educational system that did not transmit transcendent values or nurture the capacity for individual conscience. He feared a culture that banished the anxieties and complexities of moral choice and embraced a childish hyper-masculinity, one championed by ruthless capitalists (think of the brutal backstabbing and deception cheered by TV shows like “Survivor”) and Hollywood action heroes like the governor of California.

“This educational ideal of hardness, in which many may believe without reflecting about it, is utterly wrong,” Adorno wrote. “The idea that virility consists in the maximum degree of endurance long ago became a screen-image for masochism that, as psychology has demonstrated, aligns itself all too easily with sadism.”

Sadism is as much a part of popular culture as it is of corporate culture. It dominates pornography, runs like an electric current through reality television and trash-talk programs and is at the core of the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice. And it has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our lack of compassion for the homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed and the sick.

“The political and economic forces fueling such crimes against humanity — whether they are unlawful wars, systemic torture, practiced indifference to chronic starvation and disease or genocidal acts — are always mediated by educational forces,” Giroux said. “Resistance to such acts cannot take place without a degree of knowledge and self-reflection. We have to name these acts and transform moral outrage into concrete attempts to prevent such human violations from taking place in the first place.”

The single most important quality needed to resist evil is moral autonomy. Moral autonomy, as Immanuel Kant wrote, is possible only through reflection, self-determination and the courage not to cooperate.

Moral autonomy is what the corporate state, with all its attacks on liberal institutions and “leftist” professors, has really set out to destroy. The corporate state holds up as our ideal what Adorno called “the manipulative character.” The manipulative character has superb organizational skills and the inability to have authentic human experiences. He or she is an emotional cripple and driven by an overvalued realism. The manipulative character is a systems manager. He or she [is] exclusively trained to sustain the corporate structure, which is why our elites are wasting mind-blowing amounts of our money on corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG. “He makes a cult of action, activity, of so-called efficiency as such which reappears in the advertising image of the active person,” Adorno wrote of this personality type. These manipulative characters, people like Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, AIG’s Edward Liddy and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with most of our ruling class, have used corporate money and power to determine the narrow parameters of the debate in our classrooms, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress while they looted the country.

“It is especially difficult to fight against it,” warned Adorno, “because those manipulative people, who actually are incapable of true experience, for that very reason manifest an unresponsiveness that associates them with certain mentally ill or psychotic characters, namely schizoids.”

-----

JG: Unfortunately for the American people, the U.S. has become a totally amoral society. Lying, cheating, even murdering, (as in Iraq and Afghanistan), is an accepted norm, as long as you become rich at the end. Barack H. Obama has made Afghanistan his war, in the same way that George W. Bush made Iraq his war. Obama, like Bush before him, has surrounded himself with totally amoral people from Goldman Sachs, AIG, and other crooked businesses. Money is the new and only God for the amoral corporatist society which is the U.S.A. today.

The crimes against humanity committed by Bush and Obama are at the same level as those committed by Hitler and Mussolini. Economically and morally, #43 & #44 have destroyed the United States. The original amorality seed was planted by Reagan and Clinton. Bush and Obama added the water to the original amorality seed and helped it grow.

Chris Hedges article is 100% on target.

Ecuador recognizes independent Palestinian state


The Washington Post

The Associated Press

Saturday, December 25, 2010; 8:39 AM

QUITO, Ecuador -- The Ecuadorean government is the latest in Latin American to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

The Foreign Ministry says in a statement that President Rafael Correa officially recognized Palestine on Friday as "free and independent, with its borders since 1967."

It says he sent a message to that effect to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ecuador joins Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela in supporting an independent Palestine with borders recognized prior to the 1967 Mideast war.

-----

JG: The world must say NO to the Imperialist/Zionist alliance! Long live Palestine!

Chris Hedges: "AMERICAN FASCISTS" The Christian Right vs USA

USA's rapid descent towards corporate totalitarianism

Chris Hedges has written a great piece for Truthdig. Here are a few key excerpts:

[Americans] have been gradually dis-empowered by a corporate state that, as [Aldus] Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” [by Aldus Huxley] to “1984" [by George Orwell.] The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” in his book “Democracy Incorporated” to describe our political system. It is a term that would make sense to Huxley. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.

The corporate state does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader. It is defined by the anonymity and facelessness of the corporation. Corporations, who hire attractive spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education and mass communication. They control the messages in movies and television. And, as in “Brave New World,” they use these tools of communication to bolster tyranny. Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression.”

GO DUCKS!

How much money does Mary Anastasia O'Grady receives from USAID and NED?

The Cuba haters at that hyper-capitalist mouthpiece, the Wall Street Journal, are at it again!

How much money is Mary Anastasia O'Grady receiving from USAID and NED for continuing her anti-Cuba garbage? I am sure that it has to be in the millions of dollars.

You are doing great, Mary! Anytime now, "democracy" [made in USA] is disembarking in Havana.

Read 'Mary has-a-little-stash' latest diatribe.

ANASTASIA

(Herb Newman - Paul F. Webster)
« © '56 WB Music, ASCAP »

Anastasia tell me who you are
Are you someone from another star
Anastasia are you what you seem
Do your sad eyes remember a dream

Why do you tremble and why do you sigh
Could you be lonely as lonely as I
Will you remember when summer has flown
Another world a world a world that is yours alone

Anastasia smile away the past
Anastasia spring is here at last
Beautiful stranger step down from your star
I only know I love you so whoever you are

Anastasia Anastasia
Beautiful stranger step down from your star
I only know I love you so whoever you are
**********

Belfast Telegraph: Cuba's doctors are the backbone of the fight against cholera in Haiti

Belfast Telegraph

By Nina Lakhani

Monday, 27 December 2010


They are the real heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster, the human catastrophe on America's doorstep which Barack Obama pledged a monumental US humanitarian mission to alleviate. Except these heroes are from America's arch-enemy Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.

A medical brigade of 1,200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera-infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro's international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition.

Observers of the Haiti earthquake could be forgiven for thinking international aid agencies were alone in tackling the devastation that killed 250,000 people and left nearly 1.5 million homeless. In fact, Cuban healthcare workers have been in Haiti since 1998, so when the earthquake struck the 350-strong team jumped into action. And amid the fanfare and publicity surrounding the arrival of help from the US and the UK, hundreds more Cuban doctors, nurses and therapists arrived with barely a mention. Most countries were gone within two months, again leaving the Cubans and Médecins Sans Frontières as the principal healthcare providers for the impoverished Caribbean island.

Figures released last week show that Cuban medical personnel, working in 40 centres across Haiti, have treated more than 30,000 cholera patients since October. They are the largest foreign contingent, treating around 40 per cent of all cholera patients. Another batch of medics from the Cuban Henry Reeve Brigade, a disaster and emergency specialist team, arrived recently as it became clear that Haiti was struggling to cope with the epidemic that has already killed hundreds.

Since 1998, Cuba has trained 550 Haitian doctors for free at the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina en Cuba (Elam), one of the country's most radical medical ventures. Another 400 are currently being trained at the school, which offers free education – including free books and a little spending money – to anyone sufficiently qualified who cannot afford to study medicine in their own country.

John Kirk is a professor of Latin American studies at Dalhousie University in Canada who researches Cuba's international medical teams. He said: "Cuba's contribution in Haiti is like the world's greatest secret. They are barely mentioned, even though they are doing much of the heavy lifting."

This tradition can be traced back to 1960, when Cuba sent a handful of doctors to Chile, hit by a powerful earthquake, followed by a team of 50 to Algeria in 1963. This was four years after the revolution, which saw nearly half the country's 7,000 doctors voting with their feet and leaving for the US.

The travelling doctors have served as an extremely useful arm of the government's foreign and economic policy, winning them friends and favours across the globe. The best-known programme is Operation Miracle, which began with ophthalmologists treating cataract sufferers in impoverished Venezuelan villages in exchange for oil. This initiative has restored the eyesight of 1.8 million people in 35 countries, including that of Mario Teran, the Bolivian sergeant who killed Che Guevara in 1967.

The Henry Reeve Brigade, rebuffed by the Americans after Hurricane Katrina, was the first team to arrive in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake, and the last to leave six months later.

Cuba's constitution lays out an obligation to help the worst-off countries when possible, but international solidarity isn't the only reason, according to Professor Kirk. "It allows Cuban doctors, who are frightfully underpaid, to earn extra money abroad and learn about diseases and conditions they have only read about. It is also an obsession of Fidel's and it wins him votes in the UN."

A third of Cuba's 75,000 doctors, along with 10,000 other health workers, are currently working in 77 poor countries, including El Salvador, Mali and East Timor. This still leaves one doctor for every 220 people at home, one of the highest ratios in the world, compared with one for every 370 in England.

Wherever they are invited, Cubans implement their prevention-focused holistic model, visiting families at home, proactively monitoring maternal and child health. This has produced "stunning results" in parts of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, lowering infant and maternal mortality rates, reducing infectious diseases and leaving behind better trained local health workers, according to Professor Kirk's research.

Medical training in Cuba lasts six years – a year longer than in the UK – after which every graduate works as a family doctor for three years minimum. Working alongside a nurse, the family doctor looks after 150 to 200 families in the community in which they live.

This model has helped Cuba to achieve some of the world's most enviable health improvements, despite spending only $400 (£260) per person last year compared with $3,000 (£1,950) in the UK and $7,500 (£4,900) in the US, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures.

Infant mortality rates, one of the most reliable measures of a nation's healthcare, are 4.8 per 1,000 live births – comparable with Britain and lower than the US. Only 5 per cent of babies are born with a low birth weight, a crucial factor in long-term health, and maternal mortality is the lowest in Latin America, World Health Organisation figures show. Cuba's polyclinics, open 24 hours a day for emergencies and specialist care, are a step up from the family doctors. Each provides for 15,000 to 35,000 patients via a group of full-time consultants as well as visiting doctors, ensuring that most medical care is provided in the community.

Imti Choonara, a paediatrician from Derby, leads a delegation of international health professionals at annual workshops in Cuba's third city, Camaguey. "Healthcare in Cuba is phenomenal, and the key is the family doctor, who is much more proactive, and whose focus is on prevention ... The irony is that Cubans came to the UK after the revolution to see how the NHS worked. They took back what they saw, refined it and developed it further; meanwhile we are moving towards the US model," Professor Choonara said.

Politics, inevitably, penetrates many aspects of Cuban healthcare. Every year hospitals produce a list of drugs and equipment they have been unable to access because of the American embargo which prevents many US companies from trading with Cuba, and persuades other countries to follow suit. The 2009/10 report includes drugs for childhood cancers, HIV and arthritis, some anaesthetics, as well as chemicals needed to diagnose infections and store organs. Pharmacies in Cuba are characterised by long queues and sparsely stacked shelves, though in part this is because they stock only generic brands.

Antonio Fernandez, from the Ministry of Public Health, said: "We make 80 per cent of the drugs we use. The rest we import from China, former Soviet countries, Europe – anyone who will sell to us – but this makes it very expensive because of the distances."

On the whole, Cubans are immensely proud and supportive of their contribution in Haiti and other poor countries, delighted to be punching above their weight on the international scene. However, some people complain of longer waits to see their doctor because so many are working abroad. And, like all commodities in Cuba, medicines are available on the black market for those willing to risk large fines if caught buying or selling.

International travel is beyond the reach of most Cubans, but qualified nurses and doctors are among those forbidden from leaving the country for five years after graduation, unless as part of an official medical team.

Like everyone else, health professionals earn paltry salaries of around $20 (£13) a month. So, contrary to official accounts, bribery exists in the hospital system, which means some doctors, and even hospitals, are off-limits unless patients can offer a little something, maybe lunch or a few pesos, for preferential treatment.

Cuba's international ventures in healthcare are becoming increasingly strategic. Last month, officials held talks with Brazil about developing Haiti's public health system, which Brazil and Venezuela have both agreed to help finance.

Medical training is another example. There are currently 8,281 students from more than 30 countries enrolled at Elam, which last month celebrated its 11th anniversary. The government hopes to inculcate a sense of social responsibly into the students in the hope that they will work within their own poor communities for at least five years.

Damien Joel Suarez, 27, a second year from New Jersey, is one of 171 American students; 47 have already graduated. He dismisses allegations that Elam is part of the Cuban propaganda machine. "Of course, Che is a hero here but he isn't forced down your neck."

Another 49,000 students are enrolled in the El Nuevo Programa de Formacion de Medicos Latinoamericanos, the brainchild of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, who pledged in 2005 to train 100,000 doctors for the continent. The course is much more hands-on, and critics question the quality of the training.

Professor Kirk disagrees: "The hi-tech approach to health needed in London and Toronto is irrelevant for millions of people in the Third World who are living in poverty. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and criticise the quality, but if you were living somewhere with no doctors, then you'd be happy to get anyone."

There are nine million Haitians who would probably agree.

2010: The American Dream


40 Million Americans Receiving Food Stamps.
The Failure of Capitalist Free Markets.

In the meantime, that Club of Millionaires that is also known as the U.S. Senate, aided and abetted by Barack H. Obama, votes more largess for the U.S. Oligarchs!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cuba elimina impuesto del 10 % al dólar de las remesas

Cuba Informacion

Domingo, 26 de Diciembre de 2010 14:33

Desde el lunes pasado todo el dinero entregado por Western Union es en CUC, la moneda cubana.

Era un impuesto aplicado desde el gobierno de Fidel Castro en respuesta a las sanciones que Washington aplicaba a los bancos internacionales que le cambiaban dólares a Cuba, lo que hacía mucho más difícil y onerosas las transacciones de la Isla.

Fernando Ravsberg - BBC en español.- Los gobiernos de Cuba y Estados unidos se han puesto de acuerdo con la empresa de envíos de dinero Western Union para entregar las remesas en pesos cubanos convertibles (CUC), una medida que al parecer favorece a todas las partes.

La nueva modalidad se está aplicando desde el lunes pero se hizo pública cuando la Oficina de Activos Extranjeros del Departamento del Tesoro de EE.UU. (OFAC) emitió una resolución autorizando ese tipo de transacciones.

Según informes de empleados de la Western Union en Cuba, los envíos de dinero se han disparado apenas los emigrados conocieron la noticia, la razón es que a esos envíos no se les cobrará el impuesto del 10% que aplican los bancos en la isla.

Por su parte el gobierno cubano recibirá los dólares al momento, sin tener que esperar que los ciudadanos los cambien, mientras Washington tendrá un mayor control del dinero que sale hacia Cuba y Western Union ventajas sobre las "mulas".

Dinero rápido y fresco

Hasta el pasado lunes, los cubanos que recibían dólares de sus familiares en EE.UU. debían pagar una multa del 10% al cambiarlo, con lo que su dinero se reducía sustancialmente, mas aun si se tiene en cuenta que la tasa de cambio es de CUC 0.90 por dólar.

El 90% de las remesas familiares en los bolsillos de las "mulas", algo que podría cambiar muy pronto.

Es un impuesto aplicado desde el gobierno de Fidel Castro en respuesta a las sanciones que Washington aplicaba a los bancos internacionales que le cambiaban dólares a Cuba, lo que hacía mucho más difícil y onerosas las transacciones de la isla.

Ahora el gobierno cubano perderá ese 10%, alrededor de U$S100 millones, pero en cambio recibirá todos los dólares enviados, unos U$S1.000 millones, directamente de Western Union y entregará a cambio moneda nacional convertible.

La medida es importante dadas las dificultades financieras que enfrentó Cuba este año, donde debido a la escasez de divisas se vieron obligados incluso a congelar las cuentas bancarias de algunos empresarios con inversiones en la isla.

10% más para la gente

"Al principio los clientes no me entienden y me reclaman los dólares", le explica a BBC Mundo una empleada de Western Union que prefiere el anonimato, y agrega que "después se alegran cuando les damos 10 CUC más por cada U$S100 que les envían".

Los empleados de la empresa afirman que los envíos se han disparado.

Las remesas familiares no son económicamente tan significativas como en otros países del área pero juegan un papel importante en la economía doméstica. Los investigadores cubanos calculan que un 50% de la población las recibe.

Los montos son relativamente pequeños: rara vez superan los U$S100 mensuales, le explicó a BBC Mundo el economista Omar Everleny Pérez. Sin embargo, pueden ser determinantes en un país en el que la canasta básica se cifra en U$S76.

Durante el gobierno de George W. Bush, las remesas fueron muy restringidas, complaciendo a los sectores más duros del exilio. Sin embargo, la reapertura de los viajes y del envío de dinero impulsada por el presidente estadounidense, Barack Obama, tuvo una respuesta positiva en la comunidad emigrada.

Western vs. mulas

Ahora la empresa Western Unión entrega un 10% más de dinero a sus clientes lo que le da ventaja sobre las "mulas" que se dedican a viajar y traer dólares, moneda que después deberá ser cambiada en los bancos pagando el gravamen.

La diferencia se hizo sentir enseguida, nos dice la empleada de WU, "el jueves entregué CUC11.000 y en todas las oficinas había una actividad similar", nos explica y agrega que "el año pasado en esta misma fecha estábamos cerrando al mediodía por falta de trabajo".

La empresa estadounidense está autorizada a realizar estas transacciones con Cuba pero hasta ahora solo movía alrededor del 10% del total de las remesas enviadas desde EE.UU., el resto llega por vías informales que violan las leyes estadounidenses.

Con esta medida Western Union podría lograr aumentar sustancialmente su parte en el negocio, algo que "blanquearía" las remesas y por ende le permitiría a Washington tener un mayor control del movimiento de dinero hacia Cuba.

SENTINEL EDITORIAL: In Guantanamo, we reject our own standards of right and wrong

New Hampshire Sentinel Source

Published: Sunday, December 26, 2010

For all its accomplishments, the Obama administration has failed to make good on a promise to end the detainee scandal inherited from the Bush years. Two years after pledging to shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and try many of its inmates in civilian courts, the government still holds people there who have never been charged with anything, and who may be left in limbo forever.

In a nation whose judicial system is the envy of the world, and which touts itself as a force for human rights, this is astonishing.

All the more remarkable is the fact that Congressional Democrats have had a hand in perpetuating the Kafkaesque system of indefinite detention, making them as complicit as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, in rejecting their own nation’s legal traditions — the very traditions that should make the United States the beacon of light that it presumes to be.

This past week the Democratically-controlled Congress set new limits on transferring any of the current 175 inmates out of the Guantanamo prison, effectively removing any chance that any of them will be subjected to American civilian justice.

If there are defects in that system of justice, then by all means repair them. But no one is saying that our courts are flawed; no one is saying anything except ‘Keep them in the hole’ — the kind of tough-guy injunction that never requires an explanation.

The administration, whose attorney general has long wanted to try Guantanamo detainees in federal court, is up against a lot in Congress: jingoism, fundamental misunderstandings of what America stands for, and an apparent lack of faith in our ability to argue a criminal case in public.

Finally, the administration is up against political priorities that value tactical advantage over everything else — the very same priorities that left the strategic arms limitation treaty twisting in the wind for months on end. With the new alignment on Capitol Hill, the chances of any improvement on this are zero. With regard to the prison in Cuba, that’s not merely a shame. It’s an outrage that ought to embarrass every American.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Obama administration preparing executive order to authorize indefinite detentions

World Socialist Website

By John Burton
23 December 2010

The Obama administration is drafting an executive order, scheduled for release early in 2011, which authorizes indefinite detention without charge of prisoners currently held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The new order means that the prison will remain open, or that these prisoners will be transferred to permanent locations in the US.

The prisoners would be given a “periodic review” of their imprisonment in a procedure that makes a mockery of due process and basic democratic rights.

According to reports first published Tuesday evening by the Washington Post and ProPublica, unnamed US officials have revealed that the executive order, which will for the first time establish indefinite detention as an Obama administration policy, has “been in the works for more than a year.”

With typical contempt for the democratic rights of the population, the announcement was released through anonymous backdoor channels on the eve of the Winter holidays. It is aimed at preparing public opinion for yet another extension of the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration.

Guantánamo Bay has grown into an internationally despised gulag since the first jail, Camp Delta, was opened by the Bush administration in early 2002 under the pretext of jailing “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror.” The “enemy combatant” category had no precedent either in domestic or international law, and was adopted solely for the purpose of placing people in legal limbo―stripped of protection under both the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

Guantánamo Bay has become synonymous with the most flagrant attacks on core democratic rights, including denials of habeas corpus, detention without legal authority, denial of counsel, sensory deprivations, abusive interrogations and outright torture.

During his campaign for president, Obama repeatedly pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camps, promising shortly after his inauguration to complete the task by January 2010. With the proposed new order, there is no closure in sight.

More Guantánamo inmates are facing lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.

Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the reports on December 22, announcing “There are some prisoners that will require indefinite detention,” although closing the Guantánamo prisons, according to Gibbs, “remains the president’s goal.”

Some of the prisoners transferred might be transferred from Guantánamo to prisons in the United States. There is no indication that the executive order would not continue to apply―meaning that Obama would be vastly expanding the scope of indefinite detention.

“If the Obama administration succeeds in establishing indefinite detentions on US soil,” according to a statement by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an organization that has represented a number of Guantánamo prisoners, “it will be difficult to hold the line at the 48 men at Guantanamo.

“This proposal lays the groundwork for US prisons to become places where people from around the world are brought and imprisoned without charge or trial, eroding our Constitution and adherence to international law beyond recognition,” according to the CCR statement.

As usual, anonymous administration sources claim that Obama’s hand is being forced because the still Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a defense authorization bill that bans transferring Guantánamo prisoners to the United States for trial, a crucial component of Obama’s earlier plan to close the concentration camps. The provision was added quietly to the bill during negotiations over repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The administration, however, has never sought to overturn the content of the anti-democratic policies implemented by Bush. Sections of the political establishment have favored closing Guantánamo because of its international reputation, while keeping the essence of the policy intact.

According to reports, the new executive order directly affects 48 prisoners the Obama administration has classified as too dangerous to be released but who cannot be put on trial. According to the Washington Post, “unnamed officials” said that the prisoners cannot face trial because torture was used to obtain the evidence against them. Without the torture evidence, the cases against them “would not meet legal standards.”

There are at least 126 other prisoners incarcerated at Guantánamo whose status remains uncertain.

The anonymous administration sources claim that the executive order will expand the rights of prisoners by establishing a “detainee review process” which will allow limited access to evidence and lawyers for hearings at designated intervals, perhaps once a year. A New York Times report characterized the executive order as setting up “something like a parole board to evaluate whether each detainee poses a continued threat, or whether he can be safely transferred to another country.”

Under the Constitution, however, parole boards, which are usually stacked with political employees and give very limited consideration to the cases before them, come into play only after someone is convicted of a crime. Under the Obama administration plan, prisoners can be held for the rest of their lives without a civilian trial, or even a military commission.

There is no reason to believe that the executive order will be limited only to current Guantánamo prisoners. For more than a year the Obama administration has insisted it has the power to hold anyone it designates as a “terror suspect” indefinitely and without judicial review based on the congressional Authorization to Use Military Force that came in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. This is the same rationale used by the Bush administration.

The news of the proposed executive order has been denounced by advocates of civil liberties.

Jameel Jaffer, a national security lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the executive order would “normalize and institutionalize indefinite detention and other policies,” set in place by the Bush administration. Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, added, “Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law.”

The executive order is an extension of the attack on democratic rights carried out by the Obama administration since it first came to office.

While refusing to initiate a single criminal prosecutions for any of the war crimes committed, the Obama administration has intervened in court proceedings to block civil lawsuits against Bush administration officials for torture and domestic spying. Recently released WikiLeaks documents show that the administration collaborated with governments in Spain and Germany to prevent legal challenges to these same policies.

Obama has signed a death warrant for US citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki, and used Catch-22 arguments to prevent his father from challenging the extra-judicial assassination order in court.

Obama administration lawyers have authorized FBI raids of the homes and offices of antiwar activists on the basis that by opposing US imperialism they are providing “material support” for terrorist organizations.

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JG: Barack Obama is ripping apart the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. He is no different than George W. Bush. The crimes of the empire continue.

Top sluggers in Cuba's 50th National Baseball Series

After 20 Games:

Name, Slugging Percentage


Jose Dariel Abreu, .902
Donal Duarte, .800
Alexander Guerrero, .787
Reutilio Hurtado, .781
Joenni Southeran, .770
Yoilan Cerce, .740
Alexander Malleta, .733
Yulieski Gourriel, .716
Edilse Silva, .699
Michel Rodriguez, .693
Yasel Puig, .691
Alexei Bell, .641
Frederich Cepeda, .622
Yoandri Urgelles, .621

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gala of Ballet Nacional de Cuba for the triumph of the Revolution


The National Ballet of Cuba, under the overall direction of Alicia Alonso, will hold its traditional gala for a new anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the first of January in the García Lorca Hall of the Gran Teatro de La Habana.

Source: Cubadebate

Cuban American National Foundation financed terrorism in Cuba in 1997

The terrorism trial against Francisco Chavez Abarca is over. He received 30 years in jail for his terrorist activities in Cuba in 1997.

He confessed that he had received payments from Luis Posada Carriles, who has received refuge and protection from George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. Posada Carriles was the intellectual mastermind behind the bombing campaign, which was financed by the Cuban American National Foundation, created by Ronald Reagan as a conduit of imperialist hate.

The Cuban American National Foundation, created by Ronald Reagan in the 1980's was clearly the entity that financed and directed the bombing campaign in Cuba in 1997. Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo died as a result of one of the explosions.

The hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it declares that it is fighting “terrorism” has been demonstrated for what they really are: LIES! The only thing for which the imperialists fight is to continue exploiting the working class and to further the obscene profits of capitalists multinational corporations.

Tribunal finds Chavez Abarca guilty of terrorism and imposes a 30 year sentence

The Tribunal of Crimes Against State Security of the Provincial Court of Havana, imposed on Tuesday 21 December, the punishment of 30 years imprisonment for Salvadoran Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca for the crime of terrorism.

More (in Spanish) from Cubadebate.