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Cuba: Exporting revolution, revolutionary models and historical facts

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg (left) with Fidel Castro. Photo by Periodico26.

"I asked him [Fidel Castro] if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting". -- Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic blog, September 8, 2010

"In their ravings they pretend that Cuba is an exporter of revolutions. In their sleepless business and usurers' minds they believe that revolutions can be sold and bought, rent or lent, export or import as one more merchandise". -- Fidel Castro, February 4, 1962

`Orientalism' and Cuba: How Western media get it wrong

By Tim Anderson

September 14, 2010 -- Misunderstandings over Cuba run very deep, and not just among the enemies of socialism, or those who have had little contact with the country.

Naturally, people are influenced by the corporate media, which wages a ferocious and relentless propaganda campaign against the little independent island. As Salvador Allende told the Chilean Senate in 1960 “day by day and minute by minute ... they [the corporate media monopolies] misrepresent what is happening in Cuba”.

However, we can also see elements of what Edward Said called "orientalism" – a series of false assumptions about the country, conditioned by cultural prejudice.

For example, the constant moral pressures of the revolution are often misinterpreted as state "coercion"; while a well-coordinated and caring health system has been derided as "paternalistic" and denying "choice" in health care. These are the results of trying to understand Cuba through a set of individualistic, liberal assumptions.

Let's look at some recent misinterpretations.

Disaster management: New Zealand, Haiti and the ‘Cuban way’

Earthquake damage in Christchurch. Although similar in magnitude to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 250,000, nobody died in the September 5, 2010, New Zealand quake.

By Reihana Mohideen, Manila

September 8, 2010 -- Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake on Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. The nature of a global system that maintains these inequalities should be exposed over and over again. In Haiti – with a population of around 9 million – some 250,000 people died in the earthquake and (according to government figures) 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Some eight months later disaster still grips peoples lives. Fortunately, but in a staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar -- but slightly more powerful --- magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).

Marxism, socialism & religion

By Dave Holmes

Despite the apparently secular nature of so much of modern life, religion is a long way from being a spent force. For revolutionary socialists aiming to mobilise the masses for a fundamental transformation of society, religion is a question which cannot be ignored.

1. While each country has its specific situation, in the West it is undeniable that the traditional religions are considerably diminished compared to even a few decades ago, with church attendances down and religious identification increasingly nominal for wide layers of the population. Moreover, the churches are being shaken by multiple and ongoing controversies and crises — over the role of women and gays, especially as priests; over revelations of past and present sexual abuse of women and children in their institutions; over financial scandals; in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, over damaging exposures of leading clergy flouting their own code of celibacy; over clashes between their conservative and more liberal wings; and over their increased integration into the activities of the state through government funding for charitable and welfare work.

Split amongst Cuban contras, cracks in the blockade

By Tim Anderson

June 11, 2010 -- A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic "dissidents" in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy.

A letter signed by 74 of the "dissidents" on the island calls for an end to Washington's ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade, in all its forms. The "new contras" are now up against the old.

The split represents a genuine difference in counter-revolutionary tactics, but is also linked to squabbles over money. For many years "dissidents" in Cuba have privately complained that most of the millions of dollars pledged by Washington -- for a "transition" to capitalist "democracy" in Cuba -- is snapped up by Miami.

There have been scandals over the misuse of the millions of US government dollars funnelled into propaganda channels aimed at Cuba. Miami-based Radio Marti and Television Marti were recently criticised by US Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry as corrupt, ineffective and of little interest to young Cubans.

The battle for the world food system: an interview with Raj Patel

The battle for the world food system: an interview with Raj Patel from Jill Hickson on Vimeo.

June 3, 2010 -- Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved, interviewed by Jill Hickson and Simon Cunich for Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Patel discusses corporate dominance of global food production and battles to create democratic and sustainable food systems.

Chapters:

Support Tamils not Sri Lanka’s war-criminal government -- Eva Golinger misinterprets solidarity

By Ron Ridenour

June 1, 2010 -- Eva Golinger is known for her analysis in the service of Venezuela’s peaceful revolution against the local oligarchy and the United States empire. She is a noted author (The Chavez Code: Cracking US intervention in Venezuela). A dual citizen of the US and Venezuela, she is an attorney, and a personal friend of President Hugo Chavez. She is a frequent contributor to left-wing media around the world, and is the English-language editor of the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.

Justice in Wonderland: The untold story of the Cuban Five

By Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba’s National Assemby

I. Remember Elian?

“It takes all the running you can do,
to keep in the same place” -- Through the Looking Glass

May 29, 2010 -- The case of Elian González, a six-year-old boy abducted by his unknown-to-him great-uncles and against the will of his father, in clear defiance of US law and decency, was widely reported by the media around the world. Miami, the place of the kidnapping, became a kind of secessionist city in North America when the mayor, the chief of police, the politicians, every newspaper and local radio and TV broadcasters, together with religious and business institutions, joined notorious terrorist and violent groups in opposing court and government orders to free the boy.

It was necessary for a special forces team sent from Washington DC to launch a surreptitious and swift operation to occupy several houses, disarm the heavily armed individuals hidden there and in the neighbourhood to save the child and restore law.

Everybody followed that story. Day in and day out.

But practically nobody knew that, at the very same time, in exactly the same city, Miami, five other young Cubans were arbitrary deprived from their freedom and subjected to a gross miscarriage of justice.

Hugo Chávez and Cuba condemn Israel's brutal massacre of aid activists

Chavez is a hero in the Middle East.

Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs, Caracas

May 31, 2010 -- The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Commander Hugo Chávez, emphatically condemns the brutal massacre perpetrated by the State of Israel against the members of the Liberty Flotilla, as a result of the war action started by the Israeli Army against defenceless civilians, who tried to carry humanitarian aid supplies to the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip, who are victims of the criminal blockade imposed by the State of Israel.

President Hugo Chávez, on behalf of his government and the Venezuelan people, expresses his deepest regret and sends his deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the heroes who have been victims of this state crime, and commit to honour their memory and to give the necessary help so that the responsible of this murderers  are severely punished.

The revolutionary government of Venezuela will continue denouncing the terrorist and criminal nature of Israel, and it reaffirms, today more than ever, its unbreakable commitment with the fight of the Palestinian people for freedom, the sovereignty and the dignity.

Raúl Castro at Venezuela's bicentenary of independence: `We have only one alternative: unite, fight and overcome'

Bicentenary of Venezuela independence celebrations. Photo from Correo del Orinoco.

Speech by Raúl Castro Ruz, president of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, delivered at the 9th ALBA-TCP Summit, Venezuela

April 19, 2010 -- It is very moving for us to be in Venezuelan today, April 19, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the independence struggle, which represented the battles for independence in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.

It was the embryo of a first integration process in Latin America, as Simón Bolívar understood the destiny of the peoples of our region very early on. Everything that we do now for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean began precisely here, on a day like today, two centuries ago.

Marta Harnecker: `Socialism is a search for a fully democratic society'

Bolivians mobilise. ``If our government officials are to be wise, they must be pushed by popular initiatives so that the people can feel they are doing it themselves. The state's paternalism, in building socialism, may help at first, but we must create popular protagonism.'' Photo by Ben Dangl.

Marta Harnecker interviewed by Edwin Herrera Salinas, for the Bolivian newspaper La Razón. Translation by MRZine's Yoshie Furuhashi. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission

[Click HERE for more articles by Marta Harnecker.]

After Copenhagen: Can we save the world? Video: Is the climate sick of us?

Ian Angus interviewed by Esquerda.net during the conference O Clima Farto de Nos? (Is the climate sick of us?), held in Lisbon, March 26-27. The three questions, shown in text in Portuguese, are: Is the climate sick of us? What must be done internationally about this situation? What message would you like to give to the Portuguese people?The video, which is in English with Portuguese subtitles, has also been posted on the website of Portugal's Left Bloc, and on the Esquerda.net channel on YouTube.

 

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Conference: `Bolivar, Lincoln and Marti in the ‘ALMA’ of our America', Caracas, Venezuela, November 17-20, 2010

Official announcement for the II International Conference “Bolivar, Lincoln and Marti in the ‘ALMA’ of our America” to be held in Caracas, Venezuela, November 17 to 20, 2010, within the framework of the bicentennial of the independence of Ibero-America.

The first International Conference ‘Marti, Juarez and Lincoln in the ALMA of Our America’ held in October of 2009 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico was convened with the objective of defining the bases for the creation of the Marti Alternative for Our America (ALMA) which would strengthen integration mechanisms such as ALBA and turn into reality the dreams of achieving unity and integration of our Great American Homeland. These bases are contained in the Final Declaration approved which is called the “Declaration of Monterrey”.

Cuba, the corporate media and the suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

By Salim Lamrani

March 4, 2010 -- On February 23, 2010, Cuban inmate Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 83 days on hunger strike. He was 42. This is the first such incident in Cuba since inmate Pedro Luis Boitel died in 1972 under similar conditions. The corporate media put the tragic incident on front pages and emphasised the plight of Cuban prisoners.[1]

Zapata's dramatic exit sparked a justifiable global uproar. The Cuban prisoner's case undeniably fosters sympathy and a sense of solidarity with a person who expressed his despair and malaise in prison, carrying out his hunger strike to the ultimate consequence. The heartfelt emotion aroused by his case is quite respectable. In contrast, the manipulation of Tamayo's death and of the grief of his family and friends by the corporate media for political purposes violates the basic principles of journalistic ethics.

¿Es creíble Human Rights Watch cuando habla de Cuba?

Por Tim Anderson, traducido para Rebelión por S. Seguí

A finales de 2009, la organización Human Rights Watch (HRW), con razón social en Nueva York, publicó un informe titulado Un nuevo Castro, la misma Cuba. Basándose en el testimonio de ex presos, el informe condenaba de manera sistemática al gobierno cubano, calificándolo de tiránico y acusándolo de utilizar “su maquinaria represiva, leyes draconianas y juicios arbitrarios para encarcelar a decenas de personas que osaron ejercer sus libertades fundamentales”.

El grupo afirma que entrevistó a 40 prisioneros políticos y que analizó las leyes extraordinarias que permiten que los cubanos puedan ser encarcelados simplemente por expresar opiniones críticas de su sistema socialista.

A primera vista, se nos podría perdonar por pensar que Cuba es uno de los peores violadores de los derechos humanos en las Américas. Sin embargo, la más somera reflexión podría llevar a cuestionar tales declaraciones procedentes de los EE.UU., un país con miles de prisioneros mantenidos en una red internacional de cárceles secretas, muchos de ellos sometidos a regímenes de tortura. 

¿Es creíble este informe crítico sobre Cuba? ¿A quién representa Human Rights Watch?

How credible is Human Rights Watch on Cuba?

Human Rights Watch does not see the US blockade of Cuba as a human rights abuse.

By Tim Anderson

February 11, 2010 -- In late 2009 the New York-based group Human Rights Watch published a report titled New Castro Same Cuba. Based on the testimony of former prisoners, the report systematically condemns the Cuban government as an “abusive” regime that uses its “repressive machinery … draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms”.

The group says it interviewed 40 political prisoners and claims to have identified extraordinary laws by which Cubans can be imprisoned simply for expressing views critical of their socialist system.

At first glance one might be forgiven for thinking that Cuba must be among the worst of human rights abusers in the Americas. A little reflection, however, might lead one to question such statements coming from the USA, a country with thousands held in an international network of secret prisons, many subject to torture regimes.

So how credible is this scathing report on Cuba? And who does Human Rights Watch represent?

Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle

Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa, on February 11, 1990. That historic victory was the product of the long and courageous struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa. It was also a victory for the international movement against apartheid. Revolutionary Cuba played a vital role in the international movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as the following article describes. (See also "Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom".)

* * *

By Nicole Sarmiento

January 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Cuba's relations with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s, and shortly after the triumph of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front (Gleijeses, 1996a). Che Guevara's trip around the African continent in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba's relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

Fidel Castro on Haiti: Cuba `sends doctors, not soldiers'

By Fidel Castro Ruz

January 23, 2010 -- In my reflection of January 14, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighbouring sister nation of Haiti, I wrote:

In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba –- despite being a poor and blockaded country -– has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilised, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured...

Cuban doctors in Haiti: `The worst tragedy is not being able to do more'

January 18, 2010 -- Since 1998, Cuba's health cooperation with Haiti has made it possible for 6000 doctors, paramedics and health technicians to work there. Besides, 450 young Haitians have graduated as doctors from Cuban colleges, free of charge, in the past 12 years. More than 400 Cuban specialists, 344 of them doctors and paramedics, have been in Haiti, jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the Cuban government. But in the wake of last Tuesday's disaster, the largest earthquake ever to hit the Caribbean Basin, Cuba dispatched another team of 60 doctors, health technicians and medications to join the doctors on the ground in Haiti. Cuba has also sent ten tons of medications.

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By Leticia Martínez Hernández, photos by Juvenal Balán

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