Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bush's action plan not working

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

July 22, 2007

By Wayne S. Smith

The Bush administration's policy statements regarding Cuba sound like a broken record — a sound track leading nowhere. The latest sample was given by Secretary of State Condolezza Rice at a press conference on July 9. Washington, she said, "will not tolerate the transition from one dictator to another in Havana."

Not tolerate? Hmmm. Didn't that transition, from Fidel to Raul, take place almost a year ago? What is Washington doing about it? Nothing, except to say that it can't be so. Hardly an effective policy!

Just after 9-11, the way seemed open to constructive engagement with Cuba. Cuba condemned the terrorist attacks on the U.S., expressed solidarity with the American people and offered to sign bilateral agreements providing for joint efforts against terrorism. But the Bush administration was not interested in dialogue. It not only ignored Cuba's overtures, but by 2003 had formed the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba and was calling for Castro's ouster.

In May of 2004, the Commission produced an action plan that made it sound as though the Castro regime was near collapse, that just a little more pressure would do it. The plan called for: 1.) increased radio and TV broadcasting, 2.) tight limits on the travel of Americans to Cuba, and 3.) increased assistance to dissidents inside Cuba.

The plan did not work. Radio and TV Marti broadcasts had had virtually no impact on Cuban public opinion prior to 2004, and have had little if any more since. U.S. restrictions on travel reduced tourism revenues but tourism continued to thrive.

Rather than collapsing, as the commission seemed to expect, the Cuban economy began a strong recovery. Cuba has vital new economic ties to Venezuela and China. The price of nickel, Cuba's leading export , has reached all-time highs. And there are strong indications of a major new oilfield off Cuba's north coast.

The Bush administration continued to predict collapse, and even to claim its plan had reached a "new stage." On July 10, 2006, it issued a new "Compact With the Cuban People," whose principal purpose seemed to be to suggest Washington would not tolerate the so-called "succession strategy," i.e. that Fidel Castro be succeeded by his brother Raul.

Bad timing. Only a few days after the Bush administration said it was unacceptable, it happened. Citing reasons of health, Fidel announced that Raul would now be acting President. The State Department immediately rejected the appointment and President Bush and Secretary of State Rice called on the Cuban people "to work for democratic change on the island," stressing that the U.S. stood ready to help "Cuba's transition to democracy."

There had been dancing in the streets of Miami on July 31 and elation in Washington. The expectation in both was that the Castro regime would quickly collapse.

Bush and Rice's call on the Cuban people, in effect, to work against the successor government reflected that expectation. But instead, the Cuban people accepted the succession calmly. Almost a year later, there has been not even a glimmer of unrest and no one expressing an interest in following Washington's lead in calling for a new government.

What we are left with is an utterly sterile policy. The administration will not deal with any Cuban government that includes either Fidel or Raul. Its goal, rather, is to bring it down. And yet, the measures it puts forward to achieve that goal cannot possibly do so. It would take military measures to bring down the Cuban government, and given the debacle it has created for itself in Iraq, not even the Bush administration is likely to be that irrational.

Meanwhile, during my visits to Cuba this year, I have detected what seems to be a growing sense of confidence. The economy and standard of living are improving and there is a strong sense that they have taken the worst the U.S. could throw at them and still come through.

As a ranking official put it to me last month: "We would prefer to have a constructive dialogue with the U.S. and a friendlier relationship across the board. Would prefer to have open trade with you. Would prefer to have broad educational exchanges. We are open to all that. Your government is not. OK. Our preferences notwithstanding, we can get along without you. We used to see the U.S. as the center of the world beyond our island. Perhaps you've done us a favor by bringing about a situation in which the U.S. is becoming almost irrelevant."

Wayne S. Smith is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington. D.C. and an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University.

Venezuela, Cuba to begin oil exploration off the Caribbean island

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: July 31, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuela and Cuba will begin jointly exploring for oil in Cuban waters in the first such venture between the two nations, Venezuela's state-run oil company said Tuesday.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, said in a statement that the project with Cuba's CUPET energy company covers 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) and is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

The companies expect to discover light crude after conducting a seismic study, PDVSA said.

President Hugo Chavez has signed numerous cooperation agreements with Cuba since taking office in 1999.

Under one agreement, Venezuela — one of Latin America's top petroleum producers — sells roughly 98,000 barrels of crude a day to Cuba. In return, Cuba provides Venezuela with thousands of Cuban doctors who help treat the poor.

Cuba: One year after surgery, Castro still in question


One year after he underwent surgery, Fidel Castro is still recovering and Cubans are still wondering whether the veteran revolutionary will resume the leadership he handed over to his brother Raul.

Friends of the communist leader say his recovery is going very well, but the secrecy surrounding his condition has stirred wild speculation about his health and his political future.

Government officials have said on many occasions he will eventually be back on the job, but the length of his recovery has raised doubts Castro, who turns 81 in mid-August, will ever be able to fully resume his political functions.

After local elections in October and national polls next year, it should become clear at least who is officially in charge.

Lawmakers elected in April will select the 31 members of the Council of State, who in turn will choose Cuba’s next head of state.

Whether they pick one of the Castro brothers or one of the younger top Cuban officials is anyone’s bet at this stage, but analysts believe the decision is certain to reflect the ailing president’s desire.

Among officials with presidential credentials is Carlos Lage, 54, one of Cuba’s four vice-presidents, who is considered a pragmatist and has strong support among leading communist personalities.

Raul Castro, the acting president, 75, has said on several occasions it was time to hand over to a younger generation.

After an uninterrupted stint in power since 1959, Fidel Castro “provisionally” handed over to his younger brother and longtime number two on July 31, 2006, four days after undergoing complex gastro-intestinal surgery.

He has had to undergo several more operations since then, as complications emerged after the initial surgery.

The veteran leader has dropped out of public view, except for videotaped appearances, including several with his Venezuelan friend, ally and counterpart, Hugo Chavez.
A gifted orator known for his lengthy and all-encompassing speeches, Castro now speaks slowly and softly, and has taken to writing his thoughts in editorials that focus largely on blasting the United States, which he has defied for almost five decades. But he has given no indication on his own political future.

So far, little has changed in Cuba, one of the world’s last communist-run states, since Castro’s seclusion in a hospital-like room at an undisclosed location.
Contrary to earlier predictions by Castro foes, the transfer of power to the younger Castro did not lead to a popular clamor within Cuba for swift reforms, and business has continued as usual.

Many analysts say Cuba successfully passed a key test in the transfer of power orchestrated by Fidel Castro and planned long before his operation.

Having lived most of his life in the shadow of his older brother, Raul Castro is generally viewed as the more pragmatic of the two. He suggested dialogue with the United States, but Washington insisted this would only be possible if the regime takes steps toward democratic reform.

While the acting president has invited public criticism, he has also made it clear the communist government would remain faithful to its revolutionary ideals.

Political analysts in Havana and Miami say there is little likelihood of any major political changes being introduced soon.

“Raul is no Gorbachev or Deng Xiaoping”, Cuban-American political analyst Jaime Suchlicki wrote in the Harvard International Review. “With his brother alive, and even when he is gone, he is not likely to institute major economic or political reforms”, he argued.


JG: Jaime Suchlicki has never distinguished himself for knowing much about Cuba. He is part of the Miami gusanos anti-Cuba crowd.

Cuba, Venezuela explore economic relations

El Universal

Caracas, Tuesday July 31 , 2007

Congress members of Cuba and Venezuela will discuss next August bilateral relations in the context of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the Latin American situation, reported Monday Ricardo Alarcón, the chair of the Cuban Parliament.

The Cuban-Venezuelan Third Inter-Parliamentarian Meeting will be held in Caracas, on August 2-3. "The parties will address the situation both in their countries and Latin America, in order to take joint action in the international forums where both States take part," said Alarcón, as quoted by Cuban news agency Prensa Latina.

"This integration process involves not only a number of governments in the region, but also many social movements and large grassroots sectors" in Latin America, Alarcón added, AFP reported.

The Cuban official put Nicaragua as an example. "Before the comeback of the Sandinist movement in January, many people were benefited already from the health and education programs contained in ALBA."

El colmo de la Hipocresía

The US House of Representatives has rebuked US ally Japan and called for an apology for the sexual slavery inflicted by its wartime military on 200,000 Asian "comfort women."

In a resolution passed by a voice vote Monday, lawmakers called on the Tokyo government to make an "unambiguous apology" for the coercion of women into army brothels during the 1930s and World War II.

JG: How about if the House and Senate and the executive branch of the United States were to to make an "unambiguous apology" to the Cuban people for having supported Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista during 1952-1958?

Raul Castro Honors Frank Pais

Periodico Ahora

Lunes, 30 de Julio del 2007 / 16:42:57

Cuban First Vice President Raul Castro paid tribute in this city to Frank Pais, on occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death, and that of his comrade Raul Pujols, commemorated here Monday.

Pianist Frank Fernandez played pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and from his own, among them "El Mambi," to honor recently deceased Vilma Espin, one of Frank Pais' closest collaborators during the secret struggle against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.

The concert was a preliminary activity of that anniversary, slated for today in Santiago de Cuba with the attendance of over 100,000 people.

Also included is to unveil a plaque to honor those fallen defending the Homeland, from the beginning of the independence up to now, as well as those who died helping brother peoples.

Taken from Prensa Latina


7/31/207 11:20 a.m.

Santiago de Cuba, July 30 (Radio Habana Cuba).- Cuban First Vice President Raúl Castro lit an eternal flame at the Santa Efigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba on Monday -- in memory of Frank País and all martyrs of the Cuban Revolution.

Fifty years ago on this date, Frank País -- one of Cuba's most notable revolutionary leaders -- was killed on the streets of Santiago de Cuba. During the 1950's, Frank -- who was only 22 years old at the time of his murder -- was the head of the clandestine movement which rose up against the Batista dictatorship islandwide.

According to witnesses in Santiago de Cuba that day, the popular response was spontaneous as word of his assassination spread on July 30, 1957. That same afternoon, just hours after he was killed, workers and even owners of businesses began shutting down establishments throughout the city.

The funeral procession through the streets of Santiago de Cuba was a demonstration by the entire people against the dictatorship. Participants in the action a half century ago say that there were no police anywhere and that it was if the entire city had been taken over by the people. As the funeral cortege passed, tens of thousands lined the streets and stood at attention, while others threw flowers from windows overlooking the avenues along the route.

On Monday, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination, more than 100,000 followed the same route that the funeral cortege took back in 1957. Floral wreaths were placed at the Callejón del Muro, the street where Frank and another revolutionary comrade, Raúl Pujol, were brutally killed.

At the ceremony held Monday afternoon at the Santa Efigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba to honor Frank and other martyrs of the struggle, veterans of the 26th of July Movement spoke of the courage and valor of the young revolutionary fighter.

Cuba's First Vice President Raúl Castro delivered the closing remarks at the ceremony, dedicating the eternal flame to Frank País and all martyrs of the Cuban Revolution... past, present and future -- those who fought and gave their lives for socialism and dignity, along with those who fought to win and defend the liberation of other peoples around the world.

Lizt Alfonso Ballet opens New Zealand Arts Festival

Cuba Headlines

Cuban dancers were personally congratulated by the Prime Minister.

The Lizt Alfonso Ballet Company of Cuba brought its public to its feat on the opening day of the Christchurch Art Festival, one of the most important artistic events of the summer season in New Zealand.

The dance company’s Fuerza y Compas was selected to open the festival at the Isaac Theatre Royal, an event attended by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Clark personally greeted the Cuban dancers at the conclusion of their performance and praised them for their energy and high artistic concept on stage.

The opening of the festival had special significance for the Cuban company since it fell on July 26, National Rebellion Day, Cuba’s most important national holiday.

The Lizt Alfonso Ballet troupe performed sketches and scenes that ran from classic ballet to fusion and flamenco, with an ever present vitality in performing the choreographies.

The Christchurch Art Festival continues through August 12 and besides dance includes symphonic orchestra concerts, art expositions and opera performances

Source: Granma
Submitted by editor on Mon, 2007-07-30 16:54.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Gang of 66: Bought and Paid For by the US-Cuba Democracy PAC

Of the 66 Democrats who voted against the Rangel
amendment on Friday, 47 (71%) had received one or more
contributons from the US-Cuba Democracy PAC since the
beginning of the 2007-2008 election cycle:

Altmire $3,000
Andrews $1,000
Arcuri $2,000
Baca $2,000
Barrow $8,000
Bean $3,000
Berkley $5,000
Boyd $1,000
Braley $6,000
Brown (FL) $5,000
Butterfield $1,000
Cardoza $1,000
Carnahan $4,000
Castor $1,000
Chandler $2,000
Clyburn $10,000
Cuellar $6,000
Davis (AL) $3,000
Donnelly $3,000
Ellsworth $1,000
Engel $5,000
Gillibrand $3,000
Hare $1,000
Higgins $1,000
Hodes $1,000
Hoyer $5,000
Jones (OH) $2,500
Kennedy $1,000
Klein $11,000
Lipinski $1,000
Mahoney $7,000
Marshall $2,000
Melancon $2,000
Perlmutter $2,000
Rothman $1,000
Ryan (OH) $2,000
Salazar $6,000
Schiff $1,000
Sherman $1,000
Schuler $2,000
Sires $10,000
Skelton $2,000
Space $2,000
Wasserman Schultz $10,000
Wexler $5,000
Wilson (OH) $2,000
Wu $5,000

Of the remaining 19, 7 (37%) received one or more
contributions from the US-Cuba Democracy PAC in the
2005-2006 election cycle:

Ackerman $6,000
Green (TX) $1,000
Hastings $6,000
McIntyre $5,000
Meek $4,500
Miller (NC) $4,000
Pallone $4,000

Altogether, 54 of the 66 Democrats who voted against
the Rangel amendment on Friday (82%) received one or
more contributions from the US-Cuba PAC in the last
year and a half.

Who says PAC money doesn't buy votes?

Who are the Democratic Party's Gang of 66

The Gang Of 66 came into existence on June 14, 2007 with a $10,000 "Money Contribution" (i.e. legal bribe or graft) to the Democratic Party Majority Whip, James Clyburn, from the ultra-right-wing 'U.S.-Cuba Democracy' PAC, headquartered in Hialeah, Florida, a suburb of Miami. The most virulent anti-Cuba exiles living in that part of Florida make contributions to this PAC, which turns around and exchanges cash for votes when anti-Cuba legislation is acted upon in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It is no secret that we have members of Congress that are willing to trade their votes for hard cash. This Gang of 66 group is representative of that type of individual.

They are a perfect example of the famous phrase of Mark Twain: "The U.S. has the best politicians money can buy."

The Gang of 66 went into action one week after the Democratic Party Majority Whip received his cash. It was a vote on amendment 351 to H.R. 2764, a bill to make appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, offered by the Capo di Tuti Capi of the Cuban Mafia in Miami, Representantive Lincoln Diaz-Balart, scion of a Cabinet Minister of Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista. His amendment passed by 254-170 because of the votes received from the Gang of 66. (see Roll Call Vote 527)

The Gang of 66 went into action again on July 27, 2007. This time they went into action to defeat an amendment offered by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY.) His amendment, numbered 707 to H.R. 2419, a bill which provided for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012, had passed by a voice vote under a different number in the morning of July 27. Rep. Rangel's amendment would have removed certain banking restrictions related to Cuba's payment for agricultural purchases from U.S. producers. It also authorized direct transfers between Cuban banks and U.S. banks and allowed visas to be issued to conduct activities related to purchasing U.S. agricultural goods.

The anti-Cuba Mafia in the House of Rrepresentatives was enraged. How do they dare do this to us? La Loba Feroz, a.k.a. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who hates Cuba with a passion, demanded a recorded vote and called her allies in the Gang of 66. With their votes, Rep Rangel's amendment was doomed, and lost by 245-182, (see Roll Call Vote 749)

If you thought that after the recent capture of Congress by the Democratic Party, our 48 years of failed Cuba policies had a chance of being reformed, think again. The Cuban Mafia of Miami are equal opportunity bribers. When the Republicans controlled Congress they bribed the Republicans. Now that the Democrats control Congress they bribe the Democrats. Charlie Rangel, you are a decent man, but you don't stand a chance.

Below is the Hall of Shame of the Gang of 66 of the Democratic Party:

Altmire Jason Pennsylvania 4th
Andrews Robert New Jersey 1st
Arcuri Michael New York 24th
Baca Joe California 43rd
Barrow John Georgia 12th
Bean Melissa Illinois 8th
Berkley Shelley Nevada 1st
Bordallo Madeleine Guam At large
Boren Dan Oklahoma 2nd
Boyd Allen Florida 2nd
Braley Bruce Iowa 1st
Brown Corrine Florida 3rd
Butterfield G.K. North Carolina 1st
Cardoza Dennis California 18th
Carnahan Russ Missouri 3rd
Carney Christopher Pennsylvania 10th
Castor Kathy Florida 11th
Chandler Ben Kentucky 6th
Clyburn James South Carolina 6th
Cuellar Henry Texas 28th
Davis Artur Alabama 7th
Donnelly Joe Indiana 2nd
Edwards Chet Texas 17th
Ellsworth Brad Indiana 8th
Engel Ellot New York 17th
Faleomavaega Eni Samoa At large
Giffords Gabrielle Arizona 8th
Gillibrand Kirsten New York 2oth
Green Gene Texas 29th
Gutierrez Luis Illinois 4th
Hare Phil Illinois 17th
Hastings Alcee Florida 23rd
Higgins Brian New York 27th
Jefferson William Louisiana 2nd
Jones Steffanie Ohio 11th
Kennedy Patrick Rhode Island 1st
Klein Ron Florida 22nd
Lipinski Daniel Illinois 3rd
Lofgren Zoe California 16th
Mahoney Tim Florida 16th
Marshall Jim Georgia 8th
McIntyre Mike North Carolina 7th
Meek Kendrick Florida 17th
Melancon Charlie Louisiana 3rd
Miller Brad North Carolina 13th
Mitchell Harry Arizona 5th
Murphy Patrick Pennsylvania 8th
Pallone Frank New Jersey 6th
Pascrell Bill New Jersey 8th
Payne Donald New Jersey 10th
Perlmutter Ed Colorado 7th
Rothman Steven New Jersey 9th
Ryan Tim Ohio 17th
Salazar John Colorado 3rd
Schiff Adam California 29th
Sestak Joe Pennsylvania 7th
Sherman Brad California 27th
Shuler Heath North Carolina 11th
Sires Albio New Jersey 13th
Skelton Ike Missouri 4th
Space Zachary Ohio 18th
Spratt John South Carolina 5th
Wasserman Schultz Debbie Florida 20th
Wexler Robert Florida 19th
Wilson Charles Ohio 6th
Wu David Oregon 1st

Last, but not least, add another 6 to the Gang number, and you will realize who they really work for.

7/27/2007, 5:12 p.m.

I want to make sure that everyone understands the nature of these two amendments in which the Democratic Party Gang of 66 was involved.

1. The first one, by Rep. Diaz-Balart on June 21, was an anti-Cuba amendment.
2. The second one, by Rep.Charles Rangel on July 27 was a pro-Cuba amendment, only in the sense that it would have reformed 48 years of failed Cuba policies.
3. 66 Democrats helped pass the first one and 66 Democrats helped defeat the second one. Those 66 Dems are helping the ultra-right-wingers in Miami. Do not let yourself be fooled if they try to tell you that they are liberals or progressives. They are not.

But there were some extremely small changes in the composition of the 66 Democrats. There is a core group of Democrats who are vociferously anti-Cuba -- Wasserman Schultz, Sires, Wu, Hastings, Jefferson, Meek, Wexler, etc. That core group did not change on both votes.

There were exceptions. On the second vote there were Democratic Representatives who switched to the pro-Cuba side, and there were new Democratic Representatives that were new to the Gang of 66.

If you want to reform our Cuba policies DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY OF THE GANG OF 66 if they run for re-election.

Cubans to buy seed potatoes from North Dakota

KXMB, Bismark/Mandan, North Dakota

Jul 30 2007 9:42AM

Associated Press

(Mike Tanner, WDAY) Bismarck, N.D. (AP) Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson says Cuba will buy about 100 tons of seed potatoes from North Dakota.

Cuban inspectors were in the state last week to inspect seed potato fields in the Red River Valley.

It would be the first time Cuba has bought U-S seed potatoes.

Johnson says there will be at least two North Dakota potato growers who will execute the trade deal with Cuba.

He says the transaction will require Cuban inspectors to come back to the state again this fall to check on the potatoes as they are being prepared to be shipped out.

Alabama farmers want to export more to Cuba

USA Today

By Marty Roney, USA TODAY

JASPER, Ala. — Dorman Grace looks over his north Alabama farm and wonders how chickens may play a role in ending the trade embargo between Cuba and the United States.

Grace, a third-generation poultry and cattle farmer, and others like him, are already able to do business with Cuba under a law passed by Congress in 2000 allowing the sale of humanitarian and agricultural products to the island nation, which slightly eased the trade embargo in place since 1962.

Since the law began to be implemented in 2001, Cuba has imported about $1.55 billion in goods from the United States, according to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. The Cuban market is large: The nation imports half to two-thirds of its staples, according to a July U.S. International Trade Commission report.

Alabama has been aggressively taking advantage since 2003.

The U.S. Commerce Department estimates Cuba will import $300 million to $350 million in goods from the USA this year. Alabama will provide about a third of that, at $100 million to $120 million in goods, according to the state's Department of Agriculture and Industries.

That's consistent with recent history. Alabama businesses exported $100 million or more of goods to Cuba in each of the past three years, according to state figures.

A 2005 Texas A&M study showed Arkansas leading the nation with exports to Cuba, with an estimated $167 million in trade a year. Alabama was second at $120 million, followed by California ($98 million), Iowa ($71 million) and Texas ($54 million). Many Alabama farmers would like to see that business expand further.

"It's a global world we live in," says Grace, 51, whose farm produces about 110,000 chickens a year. "We need markets for what we produce. Unlike the American market, the Cuban market prefers dark meat, so that's beneficial. We trade with countries around the world. Why not Cuba?"

Last year, 66% of the wheat imported by Cuba came from the USA. Other staples imported included: corn, 71%; rice, 77%; poultry, 65%; pork, 42%; soybeans, 100%; and animal feed, 76%, according to a July U.S. International Trade Commission report.

The effort has even reached state-controlled media in Cuba. The Granma daily newspaper, which on its website proclaims it the "Official Organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba," is printed on newsprint made at three south Alabama paper mills, according to Ron Sparks, Alabama's commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

Grace has worked with Sparks since he was elected commissioner in 2002 on increasing trade with Cuba.

"When I was elected to my first term, the poultry farmers in the state were in a bind. Agriculture as a whole was in a bind," Sparks says. "We needed to expand our markets. Cuba is a natural trading partner. Cuba only raises 30% of what they eat. There are 11 million people in Cuba who need to eat."

Sparks says he knows many people disagree with his position.

"There's a lot of folks in South Florida who have a different opinion than I do," he says. "I hope they see we are trying to make it better for the Cuban people. We're not selling them bullets or tanks or aircraft. We are selling them peanut butter, syrup and shingles."

Sales have been somewhat limited by requirements that Cuba make the payments in full before shipments leave American ports.

Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said earlier this year that it would be "naive" to think that easing trade restrictions would improve conditions in Cuba. He spoke about the embargo at a Council of the Americas meeting in Washington.

"The question is not when will the U.S. change its policy. The question is when will the Cuban regime change its policy," he said. "Years of foreign investment have not improved the lives of average Cubans, only the lives of those in power."

Many Alabama farmers, however, see trade as a positive for both countries.

"I love my country, and I think capitalism holds the most promise for the world," says Sam Peak, who owns about 300 acres of timberland in central Alabama. He sells trees through a broker to Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products in Brierfield, Ala. The company sells poles and lumber products to Cuba.

"Who knows, maybe expanded trade with Cuba could lay the groundwork for real change in that country," Peak says. "Sooner or later, the markets in Cuba, all the markets, are going to open up."

Roney reports for The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser.

Posted 16h 13m ago

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Miami ultra-right-wing PAC lines the pockets of Democratic Party majority whip

The anti-Cuba right wingers in Miami have been extremely busy in the buying of votes of members of the Democratic Party.

On June 14, 2007, right before anti-Cuba amendments were introduced by vendepatrias Licoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who still dream of restoring the favored type of Uncle Sam "democracy" to Cuba (i.e. of the Batista flavor) gave $10,000 to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

He "whipped" his Gang of 66 into dutiful obedience.

Gee, I wonder if he stored the $10,000 in his refrigerator freezer, like William Jefferson of Louisiana?

Link to FEC report.

Cuba Second in Rio-2007

Rio de Janeiro, Jul 29 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban sports delegation to the 15th Pan American Games accomplished its promise to finish second in the final medal count.

The olympic flame is about to be put out in the emblematic Maracana stadium and Cubans are letting off tensions when the promised trophy is already secure.

Rio-2007 is coming to an end, and while there are still the finals of marathon, the match for the gold in men s basketball, a tennis final and equestrian competition to be contended, the host team will hold the third place in the final medal count.

Cuba should finish the games with 59 gold medals, 35 silver and 42 bronze, ahead of Brazil by eight gold titles.

In track and field events, Cuba achieved 12 first places, 9 in wrestling, and weightlifting, boxing, rowing and judo all with 5 titles each, as the most outstanding disciplines in this edition of Pan American games.

Fencing, cycling and rowing competitions contributed three gold medals to Cuba, while shooters and taekwondo fighters obtained one gold in each discipline.

The surprise was the first gold medal won by men archers in Pan American games, while diving had the best results in Cuban sports history, one gold and two silver medals, as well as the first place in the route cycling test.

Baseball and women s volleyball carry home special awards, for one the crown in the national sport and the master performance of the new "morenas del Caribe" against the strong host team.

Cuba was only second to the United States, whose performance, by the way, was very disappointing with less than 100 gold titles for a world power, amidst the increasing level boasted by Latin American sports.

The 15th Pan American games showed a consolidated Brazil in the third place, helped by that additional force of fans support.

Now the countdown begins to the next confrontation at Guadalajara-2011 in Mexico. ef leg

Cuba's biggest export -- sports

The Los Angeles Times

Coaches and trainers have been working all over the world since the breakup of the Soviet Union, but not everyone's happy about it.

By Kevin Baxter and Chris Kraul, Times Staff Writers
July 28, 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO — Watching Cuba's national baseball team play can be a little like watching a supermodel walk down a runway: They're both elegant, full of confidence, and though they never look like they're in a rush, they eventually get where they're going.

So when Cuba began to stir in the final inning of its Pan American Games opener with Panama there was no doubt a game-winning rally was coming.

But as the dangerous Ariel Pestano strode to the plate with a runner on first, Panama Manager Alfonso Urquiola didn't turn away. Instead he turned toward his infield and made sure shortstop Avelino Asprilla was positioned exactly where Pestano hit the ball a few pitches later, starting a game-ending double play.

Good scouting? More like a good memory, because Urquiola, a former standout infielder and one of Cuba's most successful managers, once coached Pestano on the Cuban national team.

Now he, along with three coaches on Panama's staff, are among the several hundred Cuban coaches and trainers working with developing sports programs in more than 50 nations across the globe.

"For us, it's a matter of pride," said Pedro Cabrera, press director for Cuba's national institute of sports, who managed a smile over Urquiola's moxie. "We don't like to lose. But we do like it when the managers we have abroad have [success]."

In that case, there has been a lot to like since Cuba first began sending coaches — and for a while, athletes — abroad in exchange for much-needed goods and currency under a program organized 15 years ago. Twenty of the countries participating in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, for example, had Cuban coaches or trainers in their delegations. And after the Athens Games in 2004, Algeria and Argentina sought Cuba's help.

Malaysia recently asked for assistance teaching physical education, Laos hired Cuban coaches to prepare for the Southeast Asian Games and the Dominican Republic invited 46 Cubans to coach sports such as swimming and volleyball.

"The Cuban coaches have been a great help for Dominican sports, a great asset," said Luis Mejia, president of the Dominican Olympic Committee.

Angola has signed a protocol of cooperation and Brazil has turned its baseball training program over to three Cuban coaches. Last March, Nigerian sports minister Bala Bawa Kaoje became one of the latest to fly to Havana, looking for coaches to prepare his nation for this year's African Games.

Even staunch U.S. ally Britain has gotten into the act. When the Glenn McCrory International School of Boxing opened in Newcastle last fall, a Cuban flag hung not far from the Union Jack to welcome Cuban coaches Alberto Perez and Alberto Gonzalez, who were given permission to work at the club as part of an agreement with Cubadeportes, the government agency tasked with promoting — and selling — Cuban coaches and athletes around the world.

Although Cuba had been offering coaches — as well as doctors and teachers — to countries in the developing world for years, it wasn't until the economy plunged after the breakup of the Soviet Union that Cuba decided to make money from its sports program. So in November 1992 it created Cubadeportes to market the sale of athletes, coaches, sporting goods — even baseball cards — internationally.

Over time, Cabrera said, Cubans have gone to work in more than 110 countries with a record 6,300 coaches and trainers deployed to 51 nations last year. In addition to baseball, Cuban expertise is most often sought in track and field, boxing and the martial arts, with Cuban coaches sharing the techniques they learned through decades of cooperation with Eastern Bloc sports programs.

"When you first look at [Cuba's] impact on sport, [it] was bringing in all these trainers, predominately from the Soviet and Eastern European countries," said Paula J. Pettavino, author of "Sport in Cuba," a detailed examination of Cuba's sports program. "Then it started to switch and there's a point at which [Cuba] is now sending them out. And the Cubans are now training everybody else."

The coaches are generally provided room, board and a small salary by the host nation, which also pays Cubadeportes for their services. But Cabrera said the prices and salaries can vary widely, with wealthy nations such as Japan and Italy expected to pay more than Ecuador or Ghana. And still others, such as Venezuela, have traditionally paid for their Cuban assistance with low-cost oil.

"In some cases, yes," Cabrera answered when asked if Cuba profits from its sporting exchanges. "But that's not the fundamental reason why we do it. The satisfaction is to have the possibility to cooperate, in a humble way, with the development of sports in developing countries."

The program hasn't been without controversy, however. In Panama, where five of the 10 teams in the country's regional amateur league are coached by Cubans, local baseball people have charged the imports with both spreading political ideology and making Panama's coaches and players less desirable to professional teams, igniting a furor that has even drawn in the U.S. Embassy.

"They are using baseball to advance their ideology," said former major leaguer Omar Moreno, a Panamanian. "But the bottom line is they don't produce any major league prospects. The best baseball in the world is what I learned, U.S.-style."

So Moreno, 54, has taken matters into his own hands, building a youth baseball system from the ground up with financial help from the embassy and Major League Baseball. With that backing, Moreno's foundation started a league that now offers free instruction for more than 400 youths from poor neighborhoods around Panama City as well as in Moreno's hometown of Puerto Armuelles in western Panama.

The embassy, through spokesman Gavin Sundwall, said its support was not politically inspired.

The best little sports machine in the world.

U.S.-Cuban Dig Seeks Insight Into People Columbus Encountered

The work will be focused on a former large native village, El Chorro de Maita, in eastern Cuba. (Credit: Image courtesy of University Of Alabama)

Science Daily

Source: University Of Alabama
Date: July 27, 2007

Science Daily — Researchers in an ongoing U.S.-Cuban archaeological expedition, co-led by The University of Alabama, are attempting to learn more about the native people Christopher Columbus encountered on his first voyage to the New World.

UA’s department of anthropology and the Central-Eastern Department of Archaeology of the science ministry in Cuba are partnering in the effort, funded by the National Geographic Society and focused on a former large native village, El Chorro de Maita, in eastern Cuba.

“This season, the team is mapping the site and determining the size and location of residential areas within it,” said Dr. Jim Knight, professor of anthropology at UA who set up the project and is advising it. “We hope to find evidence of how the residents of this large Indian town were affected by the Spanish conquest of Cuba.”

The expedition, which began July 15 and is scheduled to continue until Aug. 10, provides a historic opportunity for the two UA graduate students who are participating in the expedition alongside professional archaeologists. Roberto Valcarcel is leading the Cuban contingent.

“This is the first ever international U.S.-Cuban partnership in archaeology to involve U.S. students,” Knight said.

The people Columbus encountered during his first voyage to northeastern Cuba in 1492 were Arawakan Indians. There is no evidence, Knight said, that Columbus visited El Chorro de Maita, but this large village was also occupied by Arawakans.

The Arawakans of that day were of a similar level of sophistication, although quite different culturally, as the Mississippian Indians, their contemporaries, who lived at Moundville, some 13 miles south of Tuscaloosa. Knight has studied the Mississippian Indians for more than 30 years.

“They were chiefdoms, as were the inhabitants of Moundville,” Knight said. “And they were agriculturalists, but they relied on root crops instead of corn.”

Chiefdom is the name given to societies of the period that were headed by a chief, who would have unusual ritual, political or entrepreneurial skills. The societies were very hierarchical, with power concentrated among kin leaders, who would redistribute their resources to others. The effort presents researchers with an opportunity to fill a void in knowledge about the Arawakans, Knight said.

As part of the project, Dr. John Worth will travel to Spain to search the archives for documents relating to the early history of the Indians of Cuba. The project is a part of the UA Cuba Initiative, which provides opportunities for UA students to pursue their education under a special academic license granted by the U.S. government.

Knight said the two countries' researchers are focused on archaeology rather than the strained relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments. Since 2002, UA has received academic travel licenses from the U.S. Department of the Treasury which permits travel to Cuba for specific academic activities.

“The licenses encourage the kind of work that we’re doing,” Knight said. “The only politics we’re interested in is 16th century politics. It’s all about archaeology and history.”

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University Of Alabama.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cubans dominate athletics at Pan American Games with 12 golds

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: July 28, 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: Yeimer Lopez set a Pan American Games record in the 800 meters Saturday, helping Cuba dominate track and field with 12 total gold medals.

Brazilians Fabiano Pecanha and Kleberson Davide were first and second for most of the race until Lopez blew by them on the final turn at the Joao Havelange stadium and won in 1 minute, 44.58 seconds. Davide finished second in 1:45.47 and Pecanha was third 1:45.54.

Lopez broke the record of 1:45.05, set by Canada's Tadili Achraf at the 2003 games in Santo Domingo.

Cubans excelled in athletics, winning 30 total medals. The Brazilians finished second with 8 golds and 22 overall medals. The United States had six gold and 24 total.

Cuba's Dayron Robles won the men's 110 hurdles in 13.25 seconds, just 0.08 seconds off the Pan Am record set by Cuban Anier Garcia in 1999 in Winnipeg. David Payne of the United States took silver and Cuba's Yoel Hernandez won bronze.

Cuba also was the surprise winner of the women's 1,600-meter relay. The United States led for most of the last two legs, but Cuba's Indira Terrero streaked past American Nicole Leach in the home stretch to win gold in 3:37.51. Mexico grabbed silver with 3:27.75, while the Americans took bronze in 3:27.84.

Guillermo Martinez gave Cuba its fourth gold in the javelin, with a toss of 77.66 meters. American Mike Hazle took silver with 75.33, and Brazil's Alexon Maximiano won bronze with 75.04.

The United States finished 1-2 in the discus throw, with Michael Robertson taking gold with a throw of 59.24 meters. Adam Kuehl won silver with 57.50 meters, edging out third-placed Dariusz Slowik of Canada by 0.13 meters.

Americans also finished 1-2 in the men's 3,000 steeplechase, with Josh McAdams overtaking Michael Spence on the back stretch to take gold in 8:30.49. Spence stumbled on the final hurdle to finish second in 8:32.11, and Cuba's Jose Alberto Sanchez was third.

Many athletes suffered in the cool, rainy weather of the South American winter, with temperatures of 17 degrees (62 Fahrenheit).

Brazilian fans cheered the dramatic victory of Sabine Heitling in the women's 3,000 steeplechase. Running in second for most of the race, she streaked to the lead on the last lap and won with a personal best of 9:51.13.

Mexico's Talis Apud also saved a surprising kick to take silver in 9:55.43, just 0.27 seconds ahead of Brazilian Zenaide Vieira, who slowed down at the end thinking the silver was secure.

Brazil also took gold in the men's pole vault, with Fabio Silva clearing 5.4 meters. Mexico's Giovanni Leonardo won silver with a jump of 5.3, and German Chiaraviglio was bronze with 5.2.

Brazil's big surprise was in the men's 400 relay, where Sandro Viana outsprinted Canada's Brian Barnett in the final stretch to take gold in 38.81. Canada won silver in 38.83 and the United States was bronze with 38.88.

But Jadel Gregorio's victory for Brazil in the triple jump was no surprise. One of the world's elite jumpers, Gregorio won gold with 17.27 — the only jumper to top 17 meters. Cuba's Osniel Tosca won silver with a jump of 16.92, and fellow Cuban Yoandris Betanzos was bronze with 16.90.

Jamaica picked up its lone gold of the afternoon in the women's 400 relay, with Peta Gaye Dowdie holding off a charge by American Mikele Barbar to win in 43.58. The United States was .04 seconds behind for silver and Cuba took bronze.

The Bahamas joined the gold medalists with a victory in the men's 400 relay in 3:01.94. The United States was silver in 3:02.44, edging out the Dominican Republic, which finished .02 seconds back for bronze.

Cuba Baseball Team receiving their gold medals in 2007 Panamerican Games

Pro-Cuba protesters defy travel ban


Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:53 PM EDT

By Cameron French

BUFFALO, New York (Reuters) - American protesters walked across the border from Canada on Saturday after a visit to Cuba that violated a U.S. travel ban, in the spotlight after Michael Moore's film on health care in both countries.

About 60 members of pro-Cuba group Venceremos Brigade walked the Peace Bridge border crossing linking Canada and Buffalo, New York, on their return from Havana.

U.S. travelers to Cuba often fly through Canada, which has regular flights to the country.

"The government is telling us we don't have a right to travel, and we think we do, so we're ready to wage a legal battle with our government," brigade member Kathe Karlson said as the group gathered in Fort Erie, Ontario, for the one-mile trek across the bridge.

The protesters walked in groups of 15, hauling their luggage up a narrow sidewalk high above the Niagara River as trucks, buses and cars rumbled by on the three-lane span.

Every year since 1969, the brigade has sent a group to help rebuild public buildings in Cuba and learn more about a communist country that has been off-limits to most U.S. citizens since the ban was imposed at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s.

U.S. restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba have faced opposition lately from some lawmakers. Moore's film "SiCKO," in which he takes rescue workers injured in the September 11 attacks to Havana for free medical treatment, has also put a spotlight on the countries' relations.

U.S. authorities have been investigating Moore's trip as a potential violation of Washington's travel restriction.

Americans who travel to Cuba without permission generally don't face arrest on their return, but some face civil fines of $7,500 for spending money in Cuba without a license, and tough questions from immigrations official are typical.

Bonnie Massey, a 26-year-old social worker from the Bronx, said nine of the 600 people who have participated in the trips over the past six years have been threatened with fines.

"Those people are waiting for hearings," she said. The group would welcome the opportunity to take a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Massey said.

They may have a long wait.

U.S. customs officials processed the first 15 members through in about 20 minutes, with minimal fuss.

The infamous Democratic Party Gang of 66 strikes again

July 28, 2007

As reported previously by the Latin America Working group, (see Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen again shows her hatred for any policy that would benefit the Cuban people,) the infamous Gang of 66 of the Democratic Party struck again yesterday to help the Republican minority obstruct and defeat an amendment to the farm bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Charles Rangel.

This group of retrograde Democrats will always have a 'FOR SALE' sign when it comes to a vote against Cuba. It is to be expected. Both capitalist parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, have an innate hatred for the word Socialism and all that it entails.

Roll Call Vote 749.

The U.S. has the best politicians money can buy.
Mark Twain

Cuba Oil Exploration



* Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing a bill to permit Americans and American companies to take part in exploring for and development of energy resources offshore of Cuba and other nearby countries.

* The bill would make an exception to all laws, Executive Orders, and regulations that now prohibit exports to or imports from Cuba or transactions in property in which a Cuban national has an interest. This exception would apply to transactions necessary for the exploration for and development of hydrocarbon resources--such as petroleum or natural gas--from offshore areas under the control of Cuba or another foreign government that are contiguous to the exclusive economic zone of the United States. The bill would also permit Americans to travel to, from, and within Cuba in connection with such exploration and development activities.

* Madam Speaker, since coming to Congress I have supported efforts to relax some of the unduly restrictive laws and policies that prevent American companies from doing business in Cuba . The legislation I am introducing today would continue those efforts.

* It responds to a U.S. Geological Survey report published last year that estimates some 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could lie offshore from Cuba , in the North Cuba Basin.

* Cuba's share of the Gulf of Mexico was established in 1977 through treaties with the United States and Mexico. So there is no dispute about the status of the area, and it is my understanding that Cuba has divided its offshore territory into 59 exploration blocs and opened them up to foreign companies in 1999. Already, several foreign companies have indicated interest in some of these blocs, including a Canadian firm as well as companies from China and Venezuela.

* However, our trade embargo continues to prevent American companies from seeking similar opportunities. I think this makes no sense, and the bill I am introducing today would change that. Under the bill, the only restriction would be that any exploration or development by an American company offshore from Cuba would be subject to the same conditions for protection of fish, wildlife, and the environment as would be the case if the activities were carried out in the parts of the outer continental shelf under the control of the United States.

* Madam Speaker, I am not in favor of unlimited development of oil and gas wherever those resources may be found. In our country, I think some areas should remain off-limits to such activities, and that in some other areas it should be subject to restrictions to protect other resources and values. And if Congress were called to make similar decisions about resources in areas controlled by Cuba I well might support similar restrictions for the offshore areas the government of Cuba has decided to make available for exploration and development.

* But I think that once the government of Cuba has made that decision, our Government should not insist on preventing American companies from seeking the opportunity to take part in those activities--especially since the American energy industry is unrivalled for its technical expertise and its ability to meet the technical challenges involved. My legislation would allow them to seek that opportunity.

ELAM Tribute



* Ms. LEE. Madam Speaker, I rise to recognize and offer my personal congratulations to Dr. Melissa Barber, Dr. Evelyn Erickson, Dr. Carmen Landau, Dr. Toussaint Reynolds, Dr. Teresa Thomas, Dr. Wing Wu and especially my two constituents, Dr. Jose de Leon and Dr. Kenya Bingham, who will all be graduating on July 24, 2007 from the Latin American School of Medical Sciences. They have all traveled a long road to earn Medical Doctorates in Havana, Cuba.

* These dedicated doctors overcame immense hurdles to complete their medical educations. They not only had to face 6 years away from home, but had to pursue their educations in Spanish after attending a 12-week intensive language program. They had to complete their studies cut off from their families and uncertain about their futures due to the draconian Cuban embargo that continues to threaten this excellent program. I was proud to have initiated the scholarship program, along with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, after a visit to Cuba in 2000. I am also proud to support the students' ability to travel to Cuba and I hope to encourage more students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to bring access to healthcare back to those who need it most.

* These pioneering students of medicine should be recognized for not only the many challenges that they had to overcome, but also for their dedication to service. They had to commit to serve in medically underserved communities, back home in the United States, in order to receive their free medical education in Cuba. The Cuban government offers 250 full scholarships each year for students from the United States to study medicine there. Tuition, dormitory room and board, and textbooks are all provided free of charge and allow students who might otherwise not have the resources to pursue medical degrees in the United States to become doctors and to serve the uninsured and underinsured who too often fall through the cracks of our for-profit healthcare industry.

* It is my hope that what these doctors have achieved will not only bring desperately needed health care to the uninsured, but will also serve as an example to the healthcare industry, the American people and the Members of this Congress, that health care is a basic human right, not a privilege.

Cuba ends the American supremacy in archery

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 27 – Cuba steps onto the podium for the first time in the men’s individual archery, interrupting the United States six consecutive titles. Adrian Puentes and Juan Carlos Stevens, both from Cuba, won the gold and silver medals respectively.

Archery first participated at the Pan American Games in San Juan 1979. Cuba had never been awarded any of the three first positions.

But the Americans did not leave the podium this time, Vic Wunderle, won the bronze medal


JG: With only two days to go in the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the number of total gold medals won is as follows: United States, 85; Cuba, 46; Brazil, 40.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Obama: Clinton shows bad judgement


Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:47 PM EDT

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a flap that has shifted the Democratic 2008 presidential race to a more negative tone, Barack Obama on Friday said Hillary Clinton was showing bad judgment for refusing to consider a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy.

Visiting the early voting state of Iowa, Obama kept up the attack on Clinton in a dispute that has lasted all week over whether the next president to be elected in November 2008 should be prepared to meet leaders of hostile nations like Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela.

Clinton, leading in the Democratic contest, considers the first-term senator from Illinois naive for saying he would be willing to meet the troublesome leaders, while Obama thinks Clinton is sticking to the foreign policy status quo of the much-criticized Bush administration.

"So often in Washington, experience means doing what we've been doing over and over and over again. Well, to me that's not experience if what you're doing isn't working," Obama told a crowd on a farm in Adel, a field of corn behind him.

"It's bad judgment and if you want to show good judgment, then you've got to be open to changing the way we do things in order to get different outcomes," he said.


JG: I still think that she is after the Miami cash "campaign contributions."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen again shows her hatred for any policy that would benefit the Cuban people

July 27, 2007

This afternoon the House took a confounding step backwards on Cuba legislation. Congressman Rangel (D-NY), a longtime advocate of changing Cuba policy and chair of the Ways and Means Committee, offered an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have removed the "cash-in-advance" requirement and a banking restriction on sales of agriculture products to the island. This change could have earned U.S. farmers between $175 and $350 million per year (U.S. International Trade Commission Report 2007). The amendment initially passed by voice vote this morning, but Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) requested a recorded vote. On the roll call vote, the amendment lost 185 to 245. The House has consistently voted in favor of selling agriculture products to the island for the past seven years!

Source: LAWG


JG: I am not surprised about this. Ros-Lehtinen has always been, first and and foremost, a faithful and dutiful server of Yankee imperialism. SHAME ON HER!

Bush Administration Subpoenas Micheal Moore Over Cuba Trip For Sicko


7/27/2007 10:32 AM EST

Michael Moore said Thursday that he has been served by the Bush Administration with a subpoena regarding his trip to Cuba to shoot his new film, Sicko. He was notified while he was at the Burbank studios to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "I haven't even told my own family yet," Moore said. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me."

Moore's trip to Cuba, with Sept. 11, 2001 workers, was "because I heard the al-Qaida terrorists we have in the camps there, detained, are receiving free dental, medical, eye care, the whole deal, and our own (Sept. 11) rescue workers can't get that in New York City."

11 percent of the film's box office receipts on Aug. 11 will be donated to by the Weinstein Company to "help these workers and the other workers who need help."

Cubans accept that Raul Castro is in charge

Indeed, aside from Fidel Castro's absence, the annual [July 26] celebration and speech stood in stark contrast with the expectations of dramatic change after he underwent emergency surgery and transferred provisional power to his younger brother and a panel of close advisers on July 31. No upheaval has occurred to loosen the Castros' hold on power, despite the hopes of Cuban exiles in Miami and Castro opponents in Washington. The island's anxious hush about Fidel Castro's illness, believed to have been internal bleeding due to the thinning of a colon wall, has now passed. Cubans largely accept that Raul Castro, 76, is in charge -- but with his older brother, 80, watching over things closely, according to interviews with Cubans and analysts.

With business pretty much as usual in Cuba, it is as if Fidel Castro had figured out a way to see for himself how the country would function after he is gone: Another Castro leads smoothly enough, although with more planning, fewer mass mobilizations on the streets and a team effort with his older brother's trusted ministers, analysts said.

"The transfer of power is really the key thing," said Wayne Smith, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba from 1979 to 1982. "There were those in Cuba who wondered what will happen when the maximo leader would go -- well, nothing."

In Thursday's speech, Raul Castro at times sounded like his brother, although his one-hour delivery fell far short of his brother's famously long-winded addresses. He excoriated the United States and its trade embargo -- or "blockade," as Cubans call it -- as a "relentless war against our people."

"President Bush himself insists on repeating that he will not allow the Cuban Revolution to continue," Castro said. "How little they have learned from history!"

Source: Michael Martinez, Chicago Tribune, reporting from Camaguey Province, July 27, 2007.

Al Jazeera reported that:

While many Cubans are still anxious for Fidel to return, a close ally assured the ailing leader his legacy would live on regardless.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, promised his friend that he would continue the Cuban leader's decades-long fight against US imperialism once the ageing revolutionary icon has passed away.

"Fidel, I assume the commitment of continuing your struggle, your endless battle. I assume it. We, your children, assume it," Chavez said on Thursday.

Day of National Rebellion : Speech by Raul Castro


Speech by the First Vice-President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, at the main celebration of the 54th Anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, at the Major General Ignacio Agramonte Loynaz Revolution Square in the city of Camagüey. July 26th, 2007, "Year 49 of the Revolution."

Friends accompanying us here today;

People of Camagüey, good morning;


Exactly one year ago, as we were listening to the speeches given by the Commander in Chief in Bayamo and Holguín, we could hardly even suspect what a hard blow was awaiting us.

Next July 31 will be the first anniversary of Fidel's Proclamation, and to the delight of our people he is already taking on more and more intense and highly valuable activities, as evidenced by his reflections which are published in the press, even though, not even during the most serious moments of his illness, did he fail to bring his wisdom and experience to each problem and essential decision.

These have truly been very difficult months, although with a diametrically different impact to that expected by our enemies, who were wishing for chaos to entrench and for Cuban socialism to collapse. Senior U.S. officials even made statements about taking advantage of this scenario to destroy the Revolution.

Those who are amazed at our people’s capacity to rise to the level of every challenge, no matter how great, do not know them very well, since this is really the only behavior consistent with our history.

The battle waged by many generations of Cubans is well-known, from La Demajagua and Moncada, right up to the present, always facing enormous obstacles and powerful enemies. So much sacrifice and difficulties! How many times did we have to recommence the struggle after each setback!

Suffice it to recall that in the years following that July 26, 1953, we spent years in prison, the exile, the Granma, the guerrilla and the clandestine struggles, until five years, five months and five days after the attack on Moncada, victory was attained on the first day of January, 1959.

In those days, much like what is happening today even within the very United States, lies could not hide reality, although our people then were much less educated and less politically aware than they are now.

The vast majority of Cubans joined the cause headed by a leader who brandished the truth like his main weapon against the enemies of his people, who instead of making demagogic promises warned them, from his very first speech in Havana, that perhaps everything would be much more difficult in the years ahead.

The conclusion of the U.S. government hierarchy at that time was also consistent with its history: they had to destroy this people who dared to dream of justice, dignity and sovereignty, and if not, make them suffer to the utmost. The example set by Cuba was far too dangerous in a poor, subdued and exploited continent.

But they were unable to bring us to our knees. Our response was to massively transform ourselves into combatants; to stoically withstand shortages and difficulties; to sweat in the fields, factories and trenches; to wage countless victorious battles and to establish landmarks in internationalist aid.

Before the mortal remains of each of the 3,478 victims of terrorist acts directly organized, supported or allowed to happen by the United States authorities; before the fallen in defense of the Homeland or in the fulfillment of their internationalist duty, our people confirmed their commitment to their heroes and martyrs, to their Mambi heritage and to the examples of Martí, Céspedes, Maceo, Gómez and Agramonte, perpetuated by men such as Mella, Martínez Villena and Guiteras, symbols of the ideas and actions of an infinite number of anonymous patriots.

In essence, this has been the last half century of our history. There has been not one minute of truce in the face of the policies of the United States government, aimed at destroying the Revolution.

In this forge of effort and sacrifice, the morale and conscience of this people has reached new heights; sons with the stature of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González have been born, able to assume with serenity, valor and dignity the duress of an unjust imprisonment, scattered in different prisons of the United States.

They are examples, but they are not exceptions, since millions of Cuban men and women are not intimidated by danger or hardship.

The exploit occurs daily in every corner of this land, as our brave athletes are demonstrating at the Panamerican Games.

And so it has been during the more than 16 years of the Special Period, of sustained effort by the entire country to overcome the difficulties and press onwards –and so it must still be, since we have not yet come out of the Special Period.

Thus, it is twice as commendable that a province attains the status of Outstanding, which as we all know is bestowed after evaluating the results obtained in the main fields.

This year, the provinces of Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Villa Clara and Camagüey attained this distinction, and we congratulate them on behalf of the Commander in Chief, of the Party and of all the people, for having reached this important triumph. Also to Cienfuegos, Matanzas and Sancti Spiritus for the acknowledgement received, and to Las Tunas for displaying heartening advances.

In order to decide which of them would be the venue of this main celebration, the Political Bureau especially considered the day-to-day efforts, silent and heroic in the face of difficulties. And in this way, the people of "El Camagüey", as the Mambi used to call it, achieved these results.

The advances are the fruit of the efforts of hundreds of thousands of comrades; of the laborers, peasants and the rest of the workers; of the indispensable contributions of intellectuals, artists and workers in the cultural sector; of the heroic housewives and retirees; of the student members of the Middle-level Education Students Federation and the Federation of University Students; of our children; of the Cuban Women Federation, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Association of Combatants and the community Party cells who make such an important contribution to society.

Without them, without the daily work, study and sacrifice of so many men, women and children, the bugle of the Agramonte cavalry would not be resounding anew on these great flatlands.

Well then, it should not happen as it does in baseball, where the victories go only to the players and the defeats go to the team manager. It would not be fair to fail to publicly acknowledge the important role played by the leaders of the Party, the Government, the UJC and the mass and social organizations at every level, as well as the numerous administrative cadres to attain this success.

In particular, I should like to stress the good work of comrade Salvador Valdés Mesa, the current Secretary General of the Workers Union Central, who for a long time and up to 13 months ago, was the First Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, and the excellent relief provided until the present by comrade Julio César García Rodríguez.

It is only fair and necessary to acknowledge what has been achieved in recent years, in these provinces and in the rest of the country, but with a clear conscience about our problems, our inefficiencies, our errors and our bureaucratic and/or slack attitudes, some of which gained ground in the circumstances deriving from the Special Period.

Pointing out the important results attained in these provinces does not mean that we ignore that the rest of the country is working. In the eastern provinces, for example, it has been necessary to do this under very difficult conditions, with a shortage of resources resulting from both objective and subjective reasons.

Nevertheless, efforts do not always bring the results hoped for. Efficiency largely depends on perseverance and good organization, especially of systematic controls and discipline, and in particular on where we have succeeded in incorporating the masses to the struggle for efficiency.

We need to bring everyone to the daily battle against the very errors which aggravate objective difficulties derived from external causes, especially those induced by the United States' economic blockade which really constitutes a relentless war against our people, as the current administration of that country is especially bent on finding even the slightest of ways to harm us.

One could point to a myriad of examples. I shall limit myself to mentioning the obstacles to the country’s commercial and financial transactions abroad, often directed at the purchase of food, medicines and other basic products for the people, and the denial of access to banking services through coercion and the extra-territorial imposition of its laws.

There are also the almost insurmountable obstacles imposed by that government that goes to ridiculous lengths to prevent its people from traveling to Cuba and also on the Cuban residents there coming to visit their relatives; the denial of visas not just to our officials, but to artists, athletes, scientists and, in general, to anyone who is not willing to slander the Revolution.

As our Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently denounced, we can add to all of this the obstacles to the fulfillment of what is established in the migratory agreements with regards to the minimum number of visas to be granted annually.

This policy encourages those who turn to illegal emigration and are received there as heroes, often times after endangering the lives of children, and in spite of the fact that such an irresponsible behavior puts at risk not only the safety of Cubans, but also of Americans, the ones who the government constantly claims to be protecting, since whoever risks trafficking with human lives for money, would probably not hesitate in doing so with drugs, arms or other such things.

Cuba, for her part, will continue to honor her commitments to the migratory accords, as she has done until today.

The past twelve months have constituted a remarkable example of our people’s maturity, steadfast principles, unity, trust in Fidel, in the Party and above all in themselves.

Despite our deep sorrow, no task was left undone. There is order in the country and a lot of work. The Party and the Government bodies are functioning on a daily basis in the collective search for the most effective response possible for every problem.

There is not one issue pertaining to the development of the country and the people’s living conditions that has not been dealt with responsibly, working to find a solution. There is no task in the Battle of Ideas, the Energy Revolution and others promoted by the Commander in Chief that is paralyzed. As it is always the case in matters of such magnitude, we have had to make adjustments and postponements, and others might be needed in the future, due to material imperatives and the threats we are all aware of.

At the same time, our people have continued since then, with serenity, discipline and modesty, to prepare themselves to face up to any enemy military adventure.

Hundreds of thousands of militiamen and reservists of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, together with officers, sergeants and soldiers in the regular army have carried out Operation Caguairán, allowing for a substantial increase in the country’s defense capability, attaining levels of combat readiness that are superior to those of any other period.

It is a great effort in moments when our resources are scarce, but it is simply essential. It shall continue, as it has up till now, with the greatest of rationality, both from the material point of view as well as in the use of our people’s time.

We cannot fool around with defense! The Commander in Chief directed and reaffirmed it yet once again just a few days ago. For us, as I have said so many times, avoiding a war is tantamount to winning it, but to win it by avoiding it, we must sweat a lot and invest quite a few resources.

The resounding popular response to the Proclamation of the Commander in Chief threw all the enemy plans into crisis mode; but the enemy, far from evaluating the reality and correcting its errors, insists on stubbornly crashing into the same rock. They speculate about an alleged paralysis in the country and even about a "transition" in progress. But no matter how hard they close their eyes, reality shall take care of destroying those stale, old dreams.

As the press has reported, Operation Caguairán will carry on in the next months. It will allow us to train about a million compatriots and will have as its crowning glory the Bastion 2008 Strategic Exercise which will take place at the end of the year.

By that date, therefore, we shall be better prepared to resist and win on all fronts, including defense.

By that time the elections will also have taken place in the United States and the mandate of the current president of that country will have concluded along with his erratic and dangerous administration, characterized by such a reactionary and fundamentalist philosophy that it leaves no room for a rational analysis of any matter.

The new administration will have to decide whether it will maintain the absurd, illegal and failed policy against Cuba or if it will accept the olive branch that we offered on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma. That is, when we reasserted our willingness to discuss on equal footing the prolonged dispute with the government of the United States, convinced that this is the only way to solve the problems of this world, ever more complex and dangerous.

If the new United States authorities were to finally desist from their arrogance and decide to talk in a civilized manner, it would be a welcome change. Otherwise, we are ready to continue confronting their policy of hostility, even for another 50 years, if need be.

Fifty years seem like a long time, but soon we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution and the 55th anniversary of Moncada, and among so many tasks and challenges those years have gone by and we have hardly noticed. Furthermore, practically 70% of our population was born after the blockade was imposed, and so we are well trained to continue resisting it and finally defeating it.

Some who have been influenced by enemy propaganda or are simply confused, do not perceive the real danger or the undeniable fact that the blockade has a direct influence both on the major economic decisions as well as on each Cuban's most basic needs.

Directly and on a daily basis, it weighs heavily on our food supply, transportation, housing and even on the fact that we cannot rely on the necessary raw materials and equipment to work with.

The enemy established it half a century ago for this reason, as we were saying, and today it still dreams of forcing us to submit to its will. President Bush himself insists on repeating that he will not allow the Cuban Revolution to continue. It would be interesting to ask him just how he intends to do that.

How little they have learned from history!

In his Manifesto published on June 18, Fidel said to them once again what every revolutionary on this island is convinced of: "They shall never have Cuba!"

Our people will never give an inch of ground under the attempt of any country or group of countries to pressure us, nor will it make the slightest unilateral concession to send any kind of signal to anybody.

With respect to the economic and social tasks ahead of us, we know the tensions that Party cadres are subjected to, especially at the base, where there's hardly ever a balance between accumulated needs and available resources.

We are also aware that, because of the extreme objective difficulties that we face, wages today are clearly insufficient to satisfy all needs and have thus ceased to play a role in ensuring the socialist principle that each should contribute according to their capacity and receive according to their work. This has bred forms of social indiscipline and tolerance which, having taken root, prove difficult to eradicate, even after the objective causes behind them are eradicated.

I can responsibly assure you that the Party and government have been studying these and other complex and difficult problems in depth, problems which must be addressed comprehensibly and through a differentiated approach in each concrete case.

All of us, from the leaders to the rank-and-file workers, are duty-bound to accurately identify and analyze every problem in depth, within our working areas, in order to combat the problem with the most convenient methods.

This differs greatly from the attitude of those who use existing difficulties to shield themselves from criticisms, leveled against them for not acting with the necessary swiftness and efficiency, or for lacking the political sensitivity and courage needed to explain why a problem cannot be solved immediately.

I will limit myself to drawing your attention to these crucial issues. A simple criticism or appeal will not solve these problems, even when they are made at a ceremony like this. They demand, above all else, organized work, control and dedication, day after day; systematic rigor, order and discipline, from the national level down to the thousands of places where something is produced or a service is offered.

This is where the country's efforts are headed, as they are in other areas of similar importance and strategic significance. We are working hastily but not desperately, avoiding unnecessary public statements so as not to raise false hopes. And, again, speaking with the sincerity which has always characterized the Revolution, I remind you that all problems cannot be solved overnight.

I am not exaggerating when I say that we face a very trying international economic situation, where, in addition to wars, lack of political stability, the deterioration of the environment and the rise in oil prices —apparently an irreversible trend— we now face, like comrade Fidel has recently denounced, the decision made primarily by the United States, to transform corn, soy and other food products into fuel. This move is bound to make the price of these products, and those directly dependent upon these such as meats and milk prices, climb dramatically as it has been the case in recent months.

I will just mention some figures. Today, the price of an oil barrel is around 80 dollars, nearly three times what it was only 4 years ago, when it was priced at 28 dollars. This has an impact on practically everything, for, to produce anything or to offer any kind of service, one requires a given quantity of fuel, directly or indirectly.

Another case in point is the price of powdered milk, which was 2,100 dollars the ton in 2004. This already placed great strains on our ability to make this product available, as its import meant an investment of 105 million dollars. A total of 160 million dollars were spent to purchase the needed quantities in 2007, as prices shot up to 2,450 dollars the ton. In these four years, nearly 500 million dollars have been spent in these purchases.

Currently, the price of powdered milk is over 5,200 dollars the ton. Therefore, should domestic production not continue to increase, to meet consumption needs in the next 2008, we would have to spend 340 million dollars in milk alone, more than three times what was spent in 2004. That is, if prices do not continue to rise.

In the case of milled rice, it was priced at 390 dollars a ton in 2006 and is sold today at 435 a ton. Some years ago, we were buying frozen chicken at 500 dollars a ton. We made plans on the assumption its price would go up to 800; in fact, it went up to its current price of 1,186 dollars.

This is the case with practically all products the country imports to meet, essentially, the needs of the population, products which, as it is known, the people purchase at prices which have practically remained unchanged in spite of the circumstances.

And I am talking of products that I think can be grown here --it seems to me that there is plenty of land-- and we have had good rains last year and this. As I drove in here I could see that everything around is green and pretty, but what drew my attention the most, what I found prettier was the marabú (a thorny bush) growing along the road.

Therefore, any increase in wages or decrease in prices, to be real, can only stem from a greater and more efficient production and services offer, which will increase the country's incomes.

No one, no individual or country, can afford to spend more than what they have. It seems elementary, but we do not always think and act in accordance with this inescapable reality.

To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of rationality and efficiency, so that we may reduce imports, especially of food products --that may be grown here-- whose domestic production is still a long way away from meeting the needs of the population.

We face the imperative of making our land produce more; and the land is there to be tilted either with tractors or with oxen, as it was done before the tractor existed. We need to expeditiously apply the experiences of producers whose work is outstanding, be they in the state or farm sector, on a mass scale, but without improvising, and to offer these producers adequate incentives for the work they carry out in Cuba's suffocating heat.

To reach these goals, the needed structural and conceptual changes will have to be introduced.

We are already working in this direction and a number of modest results can already be appreciated. As demanded by the National Assembly of the People's Power, all debts to farmers were settled; in addition to this, there has been a discrete improvement in the delivery of inputs to some productive sectors and a notable increase in the prices of various products, that is to say, the price the state pays to the producer, not the price the population pays, which remains unchanged. This measure had an impact on important production items, such as meat and milk.

With respect to milk production and distribution, we are aware that the material resources we have managed to secure for the livestock industry are still very limited. However, in the last two years nature has been on our side and everything indicates that we will reach the planned figure of 384 million liters of milk, which is still far lower than the 900 million we were producing when we had all the fodder and other required inputs.

In addition to this, since March, an experiment has been underway in six municipalities —Mantua and San Cristóbal in Pinar del Rio, Melena del Sur in La Habana, Calimete in Matanzas, Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos and Yaguajay in Sancti Spiritus—where 20 thousand liters of milk have been directly and consistently delivered by the producer to 230 rationed stores and for social consumption in these localities every day.

In this fashion, we have eliminated absurd procedures through which this valuable food product traveled hundreds of miles before reaching a consumer who, quite often, lived a few hundred meters away from the livestock farm, and, with this, the product losses and fuel expenses involved.

I will give you one example or maybe two in order to mention one from Camaguey. Currently, in Mantua, one of the western most municipalities in Pinar del Rio, 2,492 liters of milk, which meet established consumption needs, are being distributed directly to the municipality's 40 rationed stores and 2,000 liters of fuel are being saved every month.

What was the situation until four months ago?

The closest pasteurizer is located in the Sandino municipality, 40 kilometers away from Mantua, the most important town in the area. Thus, in order to deliver the milk to that plant, a truck had to travel a minimum of 80 kilometers –because distances are different-- each day to make the round journey. I say "a minimum" because other areas of the municipality are even farther away.

The milk that children and other consumers in Mantua receive on a regulated basis, once pasteurized at the Sandino plant, returned, shortly afterwards, on a vehicle which, as it is logical to assume, had to return to its base of operations after delivering the product. In total, it traveled 160 kilometers, a journey which, as I explained, was in fact longer.

I don’t know if at the moment this is still the case but some time ago, as I was touring the southeast of Camaguey and in a place known as Los Raules –my namesake-- I asked a few questions. It happened that all the milk produced at Los Raules was brought to Camaguey for pasteurizing, and the milk assigned to the children at Los Raules had to be taken back there after that. Is that still the case?

On one occasion, not long ago, less than a year, I asked if that insane and absurd crisscrossing had been eliminated. I assure you that I was told it had, and now we are finding out this.

Try thinking about things like these and you’ll see the spending they mean.

The commendable aim of all of this crisscrossing was, as we can see, to pasteurize all milk. This measure makes sense and it is necessary in the case of large urban centers —even though it is customary in Cuba to boil all milk at home, whether the milk is pasteurized or not— and all milk needed to supply cities will thus continue to be stocked and pasteurized, but it does not prove viable for a truck --or hundreds of trucks-- to travel these long distances every day to deliver a few liters of milk, to places which produce enough of it to be self-sufficient.

As from the victory of the Revolution, the Cubans have learned to travel from west to east, mostly from east to west really, but our wishes to travel have led us to make the milk travel as well.

In addition to the municipalities participating in this experiment, which I mentioned already, another 3,500 rationed stores in other municipalities and provinces are also directly distributing milk, and over 7 million liters of milk have already been distributed.

This procedure will gradually begin to be applied in more and more places, as expediently as possible but without any rash attempts at making it a general formula. In all cases, its application will be preceded by a comprehensive study that demonstrates its viability in a specific place and reveals the existence of the needed organizational and material conditions.

We will continue to work in this direction until all of the country's municipalities that produce the needed quantities of milk become self-sufficient and can complete, within their jurisdiction, the cycle which begins when a cow is milked and ends when a child or any other person drinks the milk, to the extent that present conditions allow.

That is to say, the chief aim of these efforts is to produce as much milk as possible, and I say this is possible in the overwhelming majority of municipalities, except for those in the capital of the country, that is, those which are not in the outskirts of the city, because there they can produce milk too. There are already some capital cities in various provinces that can produce enough in their main municipalities; such is the case of Sancti Spiritus. And, we must definitely produce more milk!

I mean, the main purpose is to produce more milk to first ensure what we need for our children. We are talking about a basic food for children, and for the ill people; we cannot fool around with that either. But we should neither renounce the possibility that others may also receive it in the future.

Additionally, this program intends to continue increasing fuel savings; something very important, too.

This program responds to today’s existing situation, where dreams of the vast imports of fodder and other inputs of decades past, when the world was very different from what it is today, are just that: dreams.

This is but one example of the abundant resources that become available when we organize ourselves better and analyze an issue as deeply as required, mindful of all the involved factors.

I reiterate that our problems will not be solved spectacularly. We need time and, most importantly, we need to work systematically and with devotion to consolidate every achievement, no matter how small.

Another nearly endless source of resources —if we consider how much we squander—is to be found in saving, particularly, as we said, the saving of fuel, whose price is increasingly prohibitive, and very unlikely to decrease.

This is a task of strategic importance which is not always undertaken with the necessary care, and wasteful practices have not yet been halted. The example with the milk is enough.

Wherever it is rational to do so, we must also recover domestic industrial production and begin producing new products that eliminate the need for imports or create new possibilities for export.

In this connection, we are currently studying the possibility of securing more foreign investment, of the kind that can provide us with capital, technology or markets, to avail ourselves of its contribution to the country's development, careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past, owed to naivety or our ignorance about these partnerships, of using the positive experiences we've had to work with serious entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases which preserve the role of the State and the predominance of socialist property.

We shall step up our cooperative efforts with other nations more and more, aware that only united, and on the basis of utter respect for the path chosen by every country, will we prevail. Proof of this are the steps we are taking forward next to our brothers in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and our solid ties to China and Vietnam, to mention but a few noteworthy examples of the growing number of countries in all continents with which relations of all kinds are being re-established and extended.

We will continue to make a priority of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the growing international movement of solidarity towards the Revolution. We will also continue to work with the United Nations Organization and other multilateral organizations of which Cuba is a member, which respect the norms of international law and contribute to the development of nations and to peace.

Many are the battles we face simultaneously and which require us to bring together our forces to maintain the unity of the people, the Revolution's greatest weapon, and to take advantage of the potential of a socialist society like ours. The coming People's Power elections will be a new opportunity to demonstrate how extraordinarily strong our democracy —a true democracy—is.

It is the duty of each and every one of us, of Party cadres especially, not to allow ourselves be overwhelmed by any difficulty, no matter how great or insurmountable it may seem to us at a given moment.

We must remember how, despite the initial confusion and discouragement, we managed to face up to the first, harsh years of the Special Period early the last decade, and how we managed to move forward. What we said then we can more justifiably repeat today: Yes, we can do it!

In response to bigger problems or challenges, more organization, more systematic and effective work, more studies and predictions on the basis of plans where our priorities are clearly established and no one attempts to solve their problems at any cost or at the expense of others.

We must also work with a critical and creative spirit, avoiding stagnation and schematics. We must never fall prey to the idea that what we do is perfect but rather examine it again. The one thing a Cuban revolutionary will never question is our unwavering decision to build socialism.

It was with the same profound conviction that, in this very place, on July 26, 1989, exactly 18 years ago to this day, Fidel historically and prophetically affirmed that, even in the hypothetical case that the Soviet Union were to collapse, we would continue to move forward with the Revolution, determined to pay the steep price of freedom and to act on the basis of dignity and principles.

History has offered abundant proof that our people’s determination is as hard as rock. To honor this determination, we are duty-bound to question everything we do as we strive to materialize our will more and more perfectly, to change concepts and methods which were appropriate at one point but have been surpassed by life itself.

We must always remember — and not to repeat it from memory like a dogma, but rather to apply it creatively in our work every day—what comrade Fidel affirmed on May 1st, 2000, with a definition which embodies the quintessence of political and ideological work:

"Revolution means a sense of our moment in history, it means changing all that ought to be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is emancipating ourselves by ourselves, and through our own efforts; it is defying powerful and ruling forces inside and outside of the social and national spheres; it is defending values that are believed in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the strength of truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams for justice for Cuba and for the world, it is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism."

The best tribute we can pay the Commander in Chief today, the greatest contribution to his recovery we can make, is to ratify the decision to make a guide of those principles and, most importantly, to act in accordance with them every day, at whatever post has been assigned us.

True to the legacy of our glorious dead, we will work tirelessly to wholly meet the directives of his Proclamation, the many he has given us since then and as many as he gives us in the future.

There is no room for fear of difficulties or danger in our country, which shall never lower its guard before its enemies. That is the essential guarantee that, in our squares and, should it be necessary, in our trenches too0, these are the cries that shall always resound in our land:

Long live the Revolution!

Long live Fidel!