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Bolivia: Fuel subsidy backdown reveals pressures on Morales

Protest against fuel subsidy cut, El Alto, December 30.

By Federico Fuentes

January 24, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- On December 31, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales repealed a decree, passed five days earlier, to remove subsidies for fuel. The repeal came after protests and discontent at the resulting price increases from many of the government’s poor supporters.

“Why is the government making us suffer during these days … I don’t understand, I don’t understand”, Carla, a housewife in El Alto told Radio Atipiri on New Years Eve. An elderly woman expressed the shock of many supporters of Bolivia’s first indigenous president: “We are poor, we don’t have anything, what are we going to now, Evo has betrayed us, he must go.”

They were among the many that came out against the government’s decree, which sent petrol and diesel prices up by 73% and 83% respectively. It also caused spikes in the price of transport and food.

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker: `Cuba needs changes, to take us forward rather than backwards'

Cuban workers march on May Day 2009. Photo by Bill Hackwell/Havana Times.

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

Translator's introduction

January 15, 2011 -- Cuba's Socialist Renewal -- Alongside and intersecting with the grassroots debates on the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines and the informal debate, there is a rich discussion and debate taking place among Cuban intellectuals and academic specialists from a variety of disciplines and a spectrum of political perspectives within the broad camp of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban magazine Temas (Themes) is one publication that carries contributions to this debate among Cuba's revolutionary intelligentsia.

Haiti: Diplomat delivers searing indictment of occupation regime

January 9, 2011 -- Socialist Voice -- Of all the commentaries and interviews coinciding with the anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake, none are likely to exceed in significance the interview granted by Organization of American States representative to Haiti, Ricardo Seitenfus, to the Swiss daily Le Temps on December 20, 2010.

The critique he delivered to the newspaper is especially significant for Latin America and the Caribbean because Seitenfus is Brazilian. Sensitivity is running high in the region over the evident failure of the international relief effort led by the big powers – the United States, Canada and Europe – whose interventionist policies had already done so much harm to Haiti before this latest catastrophe.

Mexico: Opportunism and sectarianism hamper left’s resistance to neoliberalism

"The Zapatistas’ anarchist strategic outlook, with their anti-theory 'no political line' position and their disdainful 'all politics is corrupt' led them to abstain from key struggles against neoliberalism."

By Rachel Evans and Tristan Parish

January 12, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an examination of Mexico’s social movements, the political parties’ and organisations that lead them, and their tactical and strategic outlooks, as well as the left’s successes and failures in the fight against neoliberalism.

From 1994 onwards, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the centre-left electoral formation, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), have been the organisations that have led the largest social movements in Mexico. Hence, the effectiveness of their strategies -- Zapatista anarchism and Party of the Democratic Revolution electoralism -- in resisting neoliberalism in Mexico will be examined.

Latin America: For a solidarity `Marshall Plan' with the Cuban Revolution!; Un Plan Marshall para Cuba

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

By Atilio Boron

January 5, 2011 -- CADTM -- Cuba is currently faced with a crucial dilemma: either it updates, revises and reconstructs its economic model or it runs the risk of succumbing to the combined pressures created by its own errors and the aggression of the US embargo. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as all of those in Africa and Asia, cannot remain indifferent towards this situation or limit themselves to contemplating how the revolution delivered this decisive battle without any assistance other than their own strength.

Help, however, cannot be confined to verbal support, which is fine but insufficient. Cuba needs something more concrete: that its creditors, and in particular that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, cancel Cuba’s external debt.

Cuba: Economy of commands or earnings? Joaquin Infante on economic changes

December 31, 2010 -- Cuba's Socialist Renewal -- Coinciding with the beginning of the three-month-long public debate on the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and Revolution, the following two-page interview with Dr Joaquin Infante, one of Cuba's veteran economists, appeared in Juventud Rebelde. It's a fascinating and revealing interview

Why does health care in Cuba cost 96% less than in the US?

Claudia Lopez, an intern, with outpatients at 5 de Septiembre Polyclinic, Havana. Photo by Gail Reed/World Health Organisation.

By Don Fitz

January 5, 2011-- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Americans spend $100 on health care, is it possible that only $4 goes to keeping them well and $96 goes somewhere else? Single payer health care [government-funded universal health insurance] advocates compare US health care to that in Western Europe or Canada and come up with figures of 20–30% waste in the US.

But there is one country with very low level of economic activity yet with a level of health care equal to the West: Cuba.

Life expectancy of about 78 years of age in Cuba is equivalent to the US. Yet, in 2005, Cuba was spending US$193 per person on health care, only 4% of the $4540 being spent in the US. Where could the other 96% of US health care dollars be going?

1. A fragmented system

What if the state of the world were measured by its majority?

What real democracy looks like: a communal council in Merida votes for its electoral commission in July 2010. Photo by Tamara Pearson.

By Tamara Pearson, Merida, Venezuela

December 30, 2010 -- -- The rich and their golf courses. From their perspective the whole world is one -- a wonderland of hillocks and streams and games made just for them, watered without thought for drought, and the world’s poor nowhere to be seen. But a bit of the map has said it doesn’t want to be a golf course. The rich, sweaty and sulking, arm themselves with reports, statistics, surveys, foundations, institutes and “causes” and set out to prove that Venezuela is burning and broken, its economy rumbling, its health system out of order, and its politics repressive.

In fact, Venezuela has the worst economy in the world, according to a Newsweek study in August 2010.

Michael Lebowitz and Marta Harnecker: 21st century socialism -- the strategy of the left and the Latin American experience

Part 1: Michael Lebowitz.

December 13, 2010 -- Thessaloniki, Greece -- Socialist Project/LeftStreamed -- Marta Harnecker and Michael Lebowitz were invited by the N. Poulantzas Institute and Transform magazine to present lectures on “21st century socialism: the strategy of the left and the Latin American experience”.

Cuban medics in Haiti put the world to shame (UK Independent)

[See also "Cuba: Reversing the medical `brain drain’ – the many faces of ELAM".]

By Nina Lakhani

Castro's doctors and nurses are the backbone of the fight against cholera

December 26, 2010 -- The Independent -- They are the real heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster, the human catastrophe on America's doorstep which Barack Obama pledged a monumental US humanitarian mission to alleviate. Except these heroes are from [the United States'] arch-enemy Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.

A medical brigade of 1200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera-infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro's international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition.

* * *

STOP PRESS: New Henry Reeve Brigade arrives in Haiti

By Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

Washington's war of terror against Cuba

By Jane Franklin

September 25, 2010 -- -- On September 19, 1960, Fidel Castro and Malcolm X had an historic meeting in Harlem’s Hotel Theresa. Fifty years later people packed a meeting hall in the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building across 125th Street to commemorate that meeting. Among them were Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Cuban ambassador to the United Nations Pedro Núñez Mosquera.

What a different kind of commemoration we could have had if such important leaders as Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton and countless others had not been assassinated. When Malcolm X met with Fidel Castro they talked about Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, a leader whose importance for Africa and all of us was globally recognised. Only five days earlier, Lumumba had been overthrown by Colonel Joseph Mobutu with the support of the CIA. Four months later Lumumba was executed. And in less than five years assassination took away the life of Malcolm X himself.

Venezuela: Food sovereignty project launched

Food Sovereignty Venezuela -- Jose, a campesina leader from one of Venezuela's most prominent campesina organisations, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) tells of his work with campesinos in Portegeusa State. He describes life and land ownership possibilities before and after the revolution and the some of the surprises that are revealed in his ongoing quest of helping the poor reclaim their land. Special thanks to the great translations of Venezuelan activist Yasmin Tovar and the  stunning background music of Ali Primera, renowned Venezuelan singer of revolutionary tales.

By Lisa Macdonald

Women and revolutionary transformation in Venezuela

Yoly Fernandez (left) during her 2009 Australian tour, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.

By Coral Wynter

Yoly Fernandez lives in a barrio in the city of Valencia in Venezuela. She has been involved in community politics all her life and is a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), headed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Fernandez works in Mission MERCAL, the government agency that sells subsidised food to the population. I interviewed her in May 2010.

* * *

How has the life of women improved over the last 10 years of the Chavez government?

Our lives have improved enormously, mainly in the area of humane values; not so much at the level of work or even at the political level. I say humane because now the role of women is valued, not as an object but as a subject, as mother, wife, daughter and sister.

Raul Castro: `Socialism is the only guarantee Cuba will continue to be free and independent'

Delegates at Cuba's National Assembly consider the Draft Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution. Photo by Calixto N. Llanes.

Below is a translation of Cuba's President Raul Castro's speech, on December 18, 2010, at the close of Cuba's National Assembly session, where the Draft Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution document was debated.

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

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Comrades all,

Cuba on Cancun climate talks: `Another year has been lost since the deception of Copenhagen'

Two speeches by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba's minister of foreign affairs, at the COP16 of the UNFCCC, Cancun, Mexico

December 8, 2010 -- Translation by Granma International -- Powerful forces are assuring us without hesitation that climate change does not exist, that there is nothing to be concerned about and that the serious problem bringing us here today is a total fabrication.

They are those in the United States Congress who are currently opposing the ratification of the weak agreements which control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in a senseless crusade whose sole purpose is to retrieve a small part of the power that they lost barely two years ago.

Cuba: Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution

Translation by Marce Cameron (Australia-Cuba Friendship Society), corrections by Paul Greene.

Please note that this is an unofficial translation. This English translation first appeared here and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the translator's permission. This document forms the basis of a discussion about Cuba's economic reforms that is taking place throughout the country. The Spanish original is available at

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

* * *

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker: Risks in expanding non-state enterprises in the Cuban economy

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

By Camila Piñeiro Harnecker

October 7, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This article is intended to call attention to the most important negative consequences that the recently announced decision to permit free hiring of salaried labour could generate in Cuban society. It also attempts to suggest some measures to increase the possibilities that the new non-state enterprises (self-employment, cooperatives and conventional private businesses) may contribute to the development of the Cuban economy in consolidating our socialist development; that is, the creation of a more just and humane society. It is a synthesis drawn from the paper “New enterprise forms in the Cuban economy”, prepared for the seminar “Economy and administration” organised by the Economics Department of the University of Havana and Humboldt University, Berlin, September 24-25, 2010.

Cuba: Reforms bode shaky future

Photo by Steve Morgan/Havana Times.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is posting Ron Ridenour's critical analysis of the proposed economic changes in Cuba, with Ridenour's permission, to reflect as many perspectives of friends of the Cuban Revolution as possible, and to inform the discussion among them. For more analysis, click HERE.

* * *

By Ron Ridenour

November 30, 2010 — Havana Times — With the November 2010 publication of 291 proposals for reforms in 12 areas of economic and social life Cubans are once again faced with a national debate on policies. A key question is if the 800,000 Communist Party (PCC) members’ discussion, plus that of non-members, will affect the policies to be taken at the forthcoming PCC VI congress, in April 2011. There is no proposed mechanism to assure such in the 32-page document.

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