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Cuba's internationalism: 11,000 doctors graduate; 5315 Cuban and 5694 from 59 other countries

By José A. de la Osa, Havana

July 19, 2012 -- Granma.cu -- This July, 11,000 students are to receive their degrees as doctors of medicine; 5315 Cubans and 5694 students from 59 other countries, the highest total in the history of Cuba and an eloquent example of internationalist solidarity. These young graduates completed their studies free of charge in Medical Science Universities recognised for their high scientific level and social commitment to the poorest in the world.

Countries with the largest number of graduates are Bolivia, with more than 2400; Nicaragua, 429; Peru, 453; Ecuador, 308; Guatemala, 170; and Colombia, 175.

According to information given to Granma by the Advanced Medical Studies Department attached to the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), the total of this year’s graduates amounts to 32,171 health professionals, both Cuban and from other countries, including the careers of medicine, dentistry, psychology, nursing and health technology, which has 21 units.

The debate about the nature of the former Soviet Union: Who was right?

Moscow 2008.

[For more discussion on the nature of the Soviet Union click HERE. See also the related discussion on Stalinism HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The nature of the former Soviet Union was an issue which divided the left for many decades. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, differing analyses of its class nature should no longer be a reason for maintaining separate socialist organisations.

Nevertheless, this historical debate has relevance to current politics, since the theories developed to explain the nature of the Soviet Union were subsequently applied to other countries, including Cuba. In particular, the theory of state capitalism, of which British Socialist Workers Party leader Tony Cliff was a leading exponent, is applied to Cuba by many groups today, including Solidarity and Socialist Alternative in Australia.

Washington and the Cuban Revolution: Ballad of a never-ending policy -- triumph and reaction


[This is the second in a series of articles by Ike Nahem. The first can be found HERE. For more articles on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Ike Nahem

July 22, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 1, 1959, Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, swept into power and established a provisional revolutionary government across the length of the island, overthrowing the exceedingly venal military regime of Fulgencio Batista.

The revolutionaries (including such remarkable figures as Juan Almeida, Raul Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara, Armando Hart, Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria) marched into Havana, culminating a three-year campaign that combined rural guerrilla war with a vast urban revolutionary underground.

Cuba's coming co-operative economy?

Havana billboard: “We are working – and you?”

By Marcelo Vieta

July 18, 2012 -- The Bullet -- In 2011, I made two trips to Cuba to study the new co-operatives. In June I was kindly invited by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, a professor at the University of Havana and one of the country's leading experts on its co-operative movement, to participate in two conferences. In December, Wendy Holm (Canadian agronomist and co-operative facilitator working in Cuba for the last dozen years) extended an invitation to participate in the “Walking the Walk: Cuba's path to a more co-operative and sustainable economy” workshops, again in Havana. Both trips had international guests share experiences and knowledge of the co-operative organisational model with our Cuban hosts. The backdrop was, on both occasions, the recently proposed economic reforms coming out of los nuevos lineamientos (the new guidelines) of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, completed and released on April 18, 2011.

Foro Social Latinamericano, July 2012 issue: Segundo Golpe de Estado Latinoamericano para Obama

July 11, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Providing facts and analysis, and publicising and organising Latin America solidarity activities in Australia, Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has sought to promote greater understanding and solidarity between the people of Australia and Latin America.

We are therefore delighted to publish Latin America Social Forum (Foro Social Latinamericano), a Spanish-language supplement produced regularly by the Latin America Social Forum in Sydney.

We hope the supplement will help build stronger links and solidarity between the Spanish-speaking communities in Australia and all those involved in the urgent struggles for the people and the planet. In the words of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez: “Time is short. If we don’t change the world now, there may be no 22nd century.”

GLW and Links congratulates the Latin America Social Forum for this important publication, and looks forward to continuing to help build solidarity in Australia, and around the world, with Latin America’s movements for freedom, democracy, sustainability and justice.

* * *

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 2, causes of a socialist collapse (1976–83)

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 is available here.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 1, SWP attempts an outward turn (1976–83)

In 1976, the campaign of SWP presidential candidate Peter Camejo won unprecedentedly wide support from left currents.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 1 of a two-part article. Part 2 is available here.

Cuba: `Our task is to oppose imperialist threats, to create the best conditions for socialist democracy', reply to Samuel Farber

In an invasion approved by US President John F. Kennedy, on April 17, 1961, 1300 Cuban counter-revolutionaries, armed with US weapons, landed at the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). They hoped to cross the island to Havana with the help of the local population. However it became apparent within the first hour that it would fail.

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 4, 2012 -- Links International Jornal of Socialist Renewal -- In his reply to my critical review of his book, Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment, Samuel Farber says: "The driving idea behind Chris Slee's critical review of my recent book ... is that the undemocratic pratices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the over 50 year old imperialist siege ... and not a defining characteristic of the island's political system... But the Cuban leadership did not adopt the USSR repressive model because Washington 'forced' them to go in that direction. That presumes that the Cuban revolutionary leaders did not have a political ideology of their own".

Washington and the Cuban Revolution: Ballad of a never-ending policy – the myth of the ‘Miami Lobby’

Passengers prepare to board a flight to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale."Ever-growing numbers, at or near majority levels, of Cuban-Americans favour normal relations with Cuba and an end to economic and travel sanctions. It is precisely the growing pressure from Cuban-Americans that led the Obama administration to lift the travel restrictions on that (and only that) section of the US population."

By Ike Nahem

June 15, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The essential continuity of US anti-Cuba policy under the US President Barack Obama’s administration has been a source of mystery and confusion to many who oppose US sanctions. Within the US academic, think-tank and media meritocracies – who often go in and out of government office – many are frustrated, even embarrassed, by Washington’s continued pariah status over Cuba in Latin America and internationally, as registered in annual lopsided, humiliating votes against the US policy in the United Nations General Assembly.

Debate: Cuba has a state bureaucratic *system* – a response to Chris Slee

This article is a reply to "System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems", Chris Slee's review of Samuel Farber's Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011).

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Samuel Farber

June 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The driving idea behind Chris Slee’s critical review of my recent book, Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011) is that the undemocratic practices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the more than 50-year-old imperialist siege by the United States government and not a defining characteristic of the island’s political system.

System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems

Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment
By Samuel Farber
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2011

Review by Chris Slee

June 13, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Samuel Farber was born in Cuba, but moved to the United States in 1958. He is an emeritus professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and has been involved in the socialist movement for over 50 years. He has written extensively on Cuba, from a point of view highly critical of the Cuban government. His views are promoted by sections of the US left, in particular the International Socialist Organization. While many of his criticisms have some validity, in my view he downplays the achievements of the Cuban revolution, and underestimates the impact of the US blockade in causing the problems and difficulties that Cuba faces.

Eyewitness Cuba: March Against Homophobia celebrates new outlook

Dancing at March Against Homophobia, Cienfuegos, Cuba, May 17, 2012. Photo by Don Fitz.

[See also "Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution".]

By Don Fitz and Jacquelyn Omotalade, Cienfuegos, Cuba

May 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “This discussion has changed my mind about homosexuality. Now I understand what my lesbian friend went through. When she graduated from medical school in Cuba, she cried. She told me that she could live her life the way she wanted to when she was in Cuba. But now she would return to Honduras as a doctor and would have to hide her lifestyle, hide who she is”.

These were the words of a young woman wearing the medical school bata (white shirt) who identified herself as Honduran. The Honduran medical student spoke at an open forum that was part of the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17, 2012) in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The forum featured Mariela Castro, who is director of the National Sex Education Center and daughter of Cuba’s President Raul Castro.

Sri Lanka: Crimes against humanity with the West’s complicity

By Ron Ridenour

May 25, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The US-UK axis is quite adroit at launching aggressive wars against governments and peoples who do not buckle under. Today’s method of domination is often linked with media propaganda about doing the right thing for “human rights”.

In the case of its ally Sri Lanka, it did not need to send troops to win the war against the Tamils’ struggle for liberation. The Western powers have provided Sri Lankan governments and military with weaponry, war intelligence and training to win the long war against Tamil nationhood. But, after the mutual victory, the axis has also criticised the current government for having committed excesses.

While China and Russia also militarily and economically assisted Sri Lankan governments in avoiding federalism for the two peoples: majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, they did so without the hyperbole of “protecting human rights”. Unfortunately, Cuba and its associates in the eight Latin American ALBA countries (Bolivarian Alliance of the peoples of the Americas) got caught up in the geopolitical game by supporting Sinhalese chauvinism politically but without funds and weapons.

Complexities of constructing the socialist alternative

[For more articles by and about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Steve Ellner

April 2012 – Science & Society, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Michael Lebowitz has drawn on the diverse experiences that led to the failure of socialism in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and elsewhere, and those in Venezuela where he has resided for nearly a decade, to bolster his thesis on the need to place the transformation of values at the centre of socialist construction.

Tamil rights: Surprise but uneven changes in voting at the UN Human Rights Council

By Ron Ridenour

March 22, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The UN Human Rights Council voted today to criticise the Sri Lankan government for “not adequately address[ing] serious allegations of violations of international law” when conducting its final phases of war against the guerrilla army Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ended, May 18, 2009, with massive government-caused bloodbaths.

The resolution called upon Sri Lanka to implement its own findings and recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), but extended that call to “initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans” (“independent action” is not defined).

Furthermore, with 24 countries in favour, 15 against and eight abstentions, the resolution “encourages” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer the Sri Lanka government “advice and technical assistance” in implementing the LLRC recommendations, and to make a report on the provision at the 22nd HRC session, a year from now.

Cuba's alternative to privatisation

[For more analysis and discussion on the changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

By Marce Cameron

March 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Cuban President Raul Castro has urged the Caribbean nation's citizens to contribute to a free and frank debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist project.

For the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), the aim of this debate is twofold: to strive for consensus on a new Cuban model of socialist development and to empower Cuba’s working people to implement what has been decided.

In other words, to advance a socialist renewal process in the face of entrenched opposition from within the administrative apparatus.

It is first and foremost a debate about the economy. A draft policy document, the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, was submitted to a national debate for three months before to its adoption by the Sixth PCC Congress in April last year.

The core principles and objectives of the draft were conserved, but the final version of the Guidelines was substantially modified on the basis of this public debate.

How Cuba mobilises to defeat public health emergencies

Medical students in Cuba.

[Read more about Cuba's health-care system HERE.]

By Don Fitz

February 8, 2012 -- Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author, having first appeared at BlackAgendaReport.com -- “I’m on pesquizaje”, my daughter Rebecca told me. “All of the third, fourth and fifth year medical students at Allende have our classes suspended. We are going door-to-door looking for symptoms of dengue fever and checking for standing water.”[1]

As a fourth year medical student at Cuba’s ELAM (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, Latin American School of Medicine in Havana), she is assigned to Salvadore Allende Hospital in Havana. It handles most of the city’s dengue cases. Although she has done health canvassing before, this is the first time she has had classes cancelled to do it. It is very unusual for an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, to occur this late in the season. She remembers most outbreaks happening in autumn, being over before December, and certainly not going into January–February.

The paradox of Cuban agriculture

By Miguel A. Altieri and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote

January 8, 2012 -- Monthly Review -- When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilisers, pesticides, tractors, parts and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputsand became a world-class case of ecological agriculture.1

This was such a successful turnaround that Cuba rebounded to show the best food production performance in Latin America and the Caribbean over the following period, a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent per capita from 1996 through 2005, a period in which the regional average was zero per cent.2

Workers’ governments and socialist strategy — a discussion

"The FSLN government in Nicaragua immediately after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship may qualify as a workers' government" -- David Camfield.

January 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A discussion is taking place at John Riddell's website on the demand for a workers' government and issues raised in the article by Riddell, "A ‘workers’ government’ as a step toward socialism". Below are article-length responses from David Camfield and Nathan Rao, a comment by Tim K, and a response by John Riddell.

Workers’ governments and the crisis of politics

By David Camfield, an editor of New Socialist Webzine

January 10, 2012 -- John Riddell is right that, “The Comintern’s decisions on governmental policy were rooted in a political environment that no longer exists.”

Cuba: Interview with Mariela Castro, director of the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX)

By Bernard Duraud for the French newspaper L’Humanité, published December 9. Published in Spanish on the Cubadebate website, December 14. Translation by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews, edited by Marce Cameron for Cuba's Socialist Renewal.

[See also "Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution".]

* * *

The daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro and the late Vilma Espin, a key figure in the Cuban Revolution, Mariela Castro Espin, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), is a tireless campaigner for the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals, who have suffered discrimination for a long time. She is the initiator of important changes that concern them.

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