Saturday, 31 January 2009


CUBA HERE WE COME!!!!!

3AM in the morning we leave fife for Glasgow airport where we will meet up with all the others on the delegation.

checked in online this morning it took nearly 5 hours !!! british airways were pretty straight forward but virgin atlantic was another matter.

first of all they have a different ref. no. which the travel agent didn't give us. the call centre workers were really helpful but it took 25-30 minutes to get through each time. ref. no. in hand tried to check in but the website wouldn't let us check in all nine - another phone call to the call centre, so split the group and booked in the first 6 but when we came to the second part of the group it didn't recognise one of the group - another call - given a second ref. no. and checked in the last three of the group. but one of the group, who has a disability is given a seat in another part of the plane and wont let me move her!!! another call - the call center worker managed to move her.

yay !!! all finished ???? NO . wouldn't print the boarding passes for the last three but told we can get them at the airport!!!

off for a wee catnap now before we leave.

véale en Cuba (see you in cuba)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

WISH YOU WERE HERE !!!

New campaign launch - 'Wish you were here'
Time for a UK ministerial visit to Cuba

The new ‘Wish you were here’campaign targets the British government and calls for a high level ministerial visit to Cuba to improve relations between our two countries.

We want thousands of action cards to be sent to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, calling on him to visit Cuba in 2009.

REQUEST YOUR CARDS TODAY
‘Wish you were here’ action cards are available from the CSC office on 020 8800 0155 or by emailing finance@cuba-solidarity.org.uk

Please request them for distribution among your friends, family, work colleagues, and union branches today.
..........................................

After 50 years of the Cuban Revolution, CSC believes it is time for the the British government to respect the popular choice of the Cuban people and to increase efforts to improve UK relations with the island. The clearest message that our Government could give would be a high level ministerial delegation to discuss, without preconditions, issues of mutual interest as well as differences of opinion.

Right now there are many positive developments in international relations with Cuba, and it is important the UK is not left behind.

For example, in 2008 the EU lifted remaining sanctions which had previously restricted high level government exchanges.

Not only has Spain had exchange visits between Cuban Foreign Secretary Felipe Perez Roque and sent his counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, they have also hinted that a visit by Spanish President Jose Zapatero is a possibility in 2009.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, has just announced that he would make a formal visit early in 2009, a host of Latin American leaders plan to visit within the next few months, and more are sure to follow.

There is no reason for David Miliband not to consider a formal visit to Cuba in 2009.

Such a visit would have many benefits for the UK. Positive engagement would allow our government to distance itself from the aggressive policies of the outgoing Bush administration that the UK was so often associated with.

Millions of UK citizens have visited the island on holiday and 200,000 British tourists visit Cuba every year. Like those visitors, David Miliband would be better able to see for himself many of the achievements, as well as the problems faced, and would be in a position to strengthen relations with Cuba and beyond into Latin America.

In a time of worldwide recession, Britain could be well placed to develop relations with the island that would benefit UK companies as well as Cuban ones.

Time for Change
The illegal US blockade remains a real obstacle. The world still waits for an end to this cold war policy, despite its condemnation by a record 185 countries at 2008’s UN vote.

However, there are signs of a shift in the US position. In a letter to president-elect Obama, an influential coalition of US business groups called for "the complete removal of trade and travel restrictions on Cuba."

Obama has said that he will loosen restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans and indicated that he would discuss issues directly with the Cuban government. This is a welcome departure from Bush's approach.

Why wait for a US lead?

A UK Ministerial visit in 2009 would be a real chance for the UK to show once and for all that it does have an independent foreign policy.
Please ask David Miliband to make an official visit Cuba in the 50th anniversary year of its Revolution and break with the US driven policies of the past.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Sign the ‘Wish you were here’ action card today
- Ask your friends, colleagues and family to sign the card today
- Get unions/organisations you belong to distribute the card too

‘Wish you were here’ action cards are available from the CSC office on 020 8800 0155 or by emailing finance@cuba-solidarity.org.uk

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

CUBAN BLIND PEOPLE JOIN LITERARY CREATION


Havana, Jan 26 (Prensa Latina) More than 800 Cuban blind people have joined literary creation by means of around one hundred workshops, the Cuban National News Agency (AIN) reported on Monday.

They participate in meetings, organized by the National Association of Blind People (ANCI) at all levels, and Gilda Guimera outstands in Havana province. She will present her story "Es Mejor la Noche" in the 18th International Book Fair venue in Artemisa town, according to the AIN.

She lives in Guanajay town, Havana province, and was the country's most outstanding writer during the most recent national blind writers' meeting, held in Holguin province in late 2007.

Other wiriters, as Jose Miguel Ramos, from Havana, Tomas Gonzalez-Coya, from Villa Clara province, Nadaisa Rojas, from la Tunas province, and Ada Mirta Bonfil, from Guantanamo, also excelled. That development has been possible, due to educational programs to this sector of the population, creation of libraries and special areas for the blind to read, braille printer's, and training of amateur writers by the ANCI and the Cuban Culture Ministry as well.


www.juventudrebelde.co.cu

Monday, 26 January 2009

CUBA PROGRAMME

This is the programme from the Cuban Communist Party for our trip. it looks brilliant !!!


PROGRAMME FOR THE GROUP OF THE SCOTTISH SOCIALIST PARTY

Day 1

14:00 hrs. - Welcome at the “José Martí” International Airport

- Lodging at the Hotel.

19:30 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 2

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Visit to “José Martí” Memorial.

10:00 hrs. - Meeting at the headquarters of the Central Committee of the

Communist Party of Cuba.

12:00 hrs. - Lunch.

14:00 hrs. - Visit to the School of Art Instructors.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner


Day 3

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast

09:00 hrs. - Meeting with the National Leadership of the Federation of Cuban

Women. Briefing on the main tasks of the organization.

11:00 hrs. - Visit to a counselling house for women and family.

12:00 hrs. - Lunch.

14:00 hrs. - Visit to the School of Social Workers. Briefing on the programme

of Social Workers and meeting with the Young Communist Union

to exchange on the main tasks of the organization.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 4

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

08:30 hrs. - Departure for Villa Clara province.

11:30 hrs. - Visit to the “Che Guevara” Memorial.

15:00 hrs. - Visit to the Armoured Train.

19:00 hrs. - Welcome dinner.


Day 5

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Visit to al health centre.

11:00 hrs. - Visit to the INPUD factory.

13:00 hrs. - Lunch.

- Tour of the city. Free afternoon.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 6

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Departure for Havana City province.

12:30 hrs. - Lunch at the Hotel.

14:00 hrs. - Continuation of the trip to Pinar del Rio province.

16:00 hrs. - Lodging at the Complex in Pinar del Rio.

19:30 hrs. - Welcome dinner.


Day 7

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Meeting at the Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of

Cuba for a briefing on the province.

Tour of the city.

13:00 hrs. - Lunch.

15:00 hrs. - Free afternoon.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.

20:30 hrs. - Visit to a Committee for the Defence of the Revolution.

Day 8

08:30 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:30 hrs. - Departure for the Viñales Valley.

13:30 hrs. - Lunch.

Free afternoon.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 9

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Visit to a school.

10:00 hrs. - Visit to a cigar factory.

12:30 hrs. - Lunch.

15:00 hrs. - Visit to “La Coloma” Fishing Complex. Meeting with workers.

19:30 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 10

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Visit to the University. Meeting with the students and leaders of

the Federation of University Students (FEU)

13:00 hrs. - Lunch.

15:00 hrs. - Visit to “La Conchita” canning factory. Meeting with trade union,

party and youth leaders and with workers.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 11

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:30 hrs. - Departure for Havana City province.

10:15 hrs. - Visit to “the Terrace” community.

12:00 hrs. - Continuation of the trip to Havana City.

13:00 hrs. - Lunch and Lodging at the 41 Hotel.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 12

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:30 hrs. - Visit to the Alamar Urban Agricultural Project. 12:00 hrs. - Lunch.

14:30 hrs. - Meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Presentation on Cuba cooperation with the Third World.

19:00 hrs. - Dinner.


Day 13

08:00 hrs. - Breakfast.

09:00 hrs. - Presentation on the Energy Revolution.

11:00 hrs. - Visit to the Metropolitan Park.

12:30 hrs. - Lunch.

14:00 hrs. - Meeting with Elio Gámez, Deputy President of the Cuban

Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

Day 14

08:30 hrs. - Breakfast.

10:00 hrs. - Tour of Colonial Havana.

13:00 hrs. - Lunch.

15:00 hrs. - Visit to the International Book Fair.

18:45 hrs. - Dinner

19:30 hrs. - Cultural activity.


Day 15

08:30 hrs - Breakfast.

- Free morning.

12:00 hrs. - Lunch.

- Departure for the “José Martí” International Airport.


Sunday, 25 January 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ROBERT BURNS




Happy birthday to Rabbie Burns - 250 years old and still having a birthday party !!

AULD LANG SYNE

Original scots version

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
Sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

CHORUS

English translation

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Cubans Celebrate Upcoming Anniversary of José Martí

More than 500 messages were received on Thursday morning during this event which forms part of the activities organized by the Young Communist League (UJC) to celebrate the 156th anniversary of José Marti’s birth.

By: Dora Pérez Sáez

Email: digital@jrebelde.cip.cu

2009-01-23 | 17:59:00 EST
Photo: GoogleZoom

The Palacio Central de Computación (Computer Club Headquarters) hosted specialists on Marti who answered messages sent from the 611 Youth Computer Clubs across the country and discussed the legacy of Marti’s work for the new generations .

Armando Hart Dávalos, director of the José Martí Program Office, said that he will send a message to the Cuban youth on January 27, the eve of Marti’s birth date.Ana Sanchez, director of the Center for José Martí Studies, presented two new digital programs on Marti that will be available on line at www.jovenclub.cu.

The first, A chronology of Jose Marti, is based on the work of Ibrahim Hidalgo and won the National Prize for History. It was developed by graduates of Mathematics and Computer Sciences from the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical Institute and by workers at the José Marti Publishing House.

Sanchez said the chronology marks out the main events in Marti’s life, and features a geographical index showing the places Marti travelled to or wrote about; a gallery displaying photos of Marti and his family, drawings by Martí; and a brief virtual visit to the house where he was born.”

The second multimedia, titled Martí para todos (Marti for all), was made to mark the 30th anniversary of the Center for José Martí Studies. It includes Cuadernos Martianos, the latest edition of the three volumes of his Selected Works as well as methodological tools for teachers written by Cintio Vitier and Fina García Marruz.”

Julio Martínez, the first secretary of the UJC, said that “only by really learning about our history, will Cubans be able to defend our Revolution.”

“These efforts are aimed at bringing José Martí closer to new generations of Cubans. As we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, it is important to remember the importance of Marti´s work and life and to pass this on to the Cuban youth, enhanced by these new technologies which are much more attractive for them.”


Communist youth newspaper


more on Jose Marti here

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Fidel praises Obama's 'honesty'

Fidel Castro. Photo: 18 November, 2008
Fidel Castro had not been seen or heard of for five weeks

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has praised US President Barack Obama for his "honesty" but says he has many questions to answer.

Mr Castro broke a five-week silence, writing an opinion column on a state-run internet site.

The 82-year-old's silence, after months of column writing, had contributed to speculation about his health.

His brother, President Raul Castro, said earlier that Mr Obama "seemed like a good man" and wished him luck.

But he cautioned that the new US president might be raising "hopes too high".

'Noble intentions'

Fidel Castro's essay on the www.cubadebate.cu site came hours after the president denied rumours that his health was worsening.

He did not give any reason for not writing columns, or "reflections" as he calls them, since 15 December, after averaging nine a month in 2008.

Mr Castro, whose Cuban revolution has survived 10 US presidents, had warm words for Mr Obama.

"I expressed that personally I had not the least doubt of the honesty with which Obama, the 11th president since 1 January, 1959, expressed his ideas, but in spite of his noble intentions there remained many questions to answer," he wrote.

Mr Obama has said he wants to meet Cuban leaders and improve US-Cuba relations. He has indicated he will ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba but maintain the 46-year US trade embargo on the island.

The Cuban president has also said he is willing to talk with Mr Obama, as long as there are no intermediaries and as equal parties to the dialogue.

If they met, it would be the first between leaders from the neighbouring nations in five decades.

Fidel Castro also confirmed that he had met Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Wednesday, near the end of her three-day visit to Havana.

President Fernandez said earlier that Mr Castro seemed healthy after she spent an hour of talks with him in Havana.

No pictures of the talks have yet been released.



bbc website

Obama orders Guantanamo closure



US President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as well as all overseas CIA detention centres for terror suspects.

Signing the orders, Mr Obama said the US would continue to fight terror, but maintain "our values and our ideals".

Mr Obama has also ordered a review of military trials of terror suspects and a ban on harsh interrogation methods, which critics say amount to torture.

About 250 suspects have been held at Guantanamo Bay for years without trial.

At Mr Obama's request, military judges have suspended several of the trials of suspects at Guantanamo so that the legal process can be reviewed.


see full article



A step in the right direction , this should have be done years ago. but will he hand back guantanamo to the Cuban government who are the rightful owners ? - Gerry

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Historical record of 2.319 million tourists broken


For the fifth consecutive year, Cuba has received more than two million visitors It is expected that 2.35 million tourists will have visited the island by the end of 2008, according to Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero in his report to deputies

Susana Lee

A new historic record has been established today, breaking the 2005 record of 2.319 million visitors, announced Manuel Marrero, minister of tourism, during his report to the National Assembly of People’s Power, attended by President Raul Castro.

Presenting his report, the minister stated that, despite the impact of the hurricanes, which halted the growth trend of 13.4% accumulated by the end of the second quarter and damaged many facilities, the nation has received more than two million visitors for the fifth consecutive year. He estimated that the year will close with a figure of 2.35 million visitors.

Marrero outlined tourism in Cuba since the beginning of Revolution and the development process with the construction of new hotel facilities after the disappearance of the socialist camp in the 1990s. He also highlighted how, as a result of this policy, there has been an 11% annual average increase in the number of visitors from 1990 to 2007.

He also noted that the number of hotel rooms (62% of which are in four- or five-star establishments) rose from 12,900 in 1990 to 46,500 last year, signifying an annual average increase of 8%; that 13 international groups have management and administration hotel contracts, operating 62 facilities with 24,000-plus rooms, and that 5,700 are linked to joint ventures. There are also direct flight links with 39 cities throughout the world, thanks to 94 scheduled and charter airlines and 10 international airports linked to tourist resorts in the industry.

Over the past 17 years, the number of visitors has increased sevenfold, the number of rooms has tripled and income generated is up eight-fold. The work force has also doubled.

Other issues tackled were problems related to the sector, such as the need to ensure greater participation of national products in this industry. Although the situation has improved to some extent, it should not been seen as an issue that has been resolved. There is instability in relation to supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables, carbonated drinks, dairy products and pastas. There have also been difficulties with elevators, air conditioning systems and maintaining beaches.

The minister also referred to the policy on joint ventures, which has resulted in 37 projects in the negotiation phase and 21 at an advanced stage, in spite of slow process with respect to the constitution of new links.

He also outlined the development program over the 2007-2010 period, for which, despite slow progress due to a shortage of construction workers and, in certain cases, project preparations, the Ministry has drawn up medium-term plans for the renovation of existing facilities, hotel and leisure investments, and the infrastructure of highways and road signs, water supplies and waste disposal, as well as an action plan designed to reduce waiting times at the island’s airports.

He referred to the global tourism panorama and noted that although international tourist movements rose by 5% in the first semester of this year, the industry cannot escape from the international financial crisis and forecasts for the end of 2008 will not exceed 2%. At the same time, it is estimated that there will be a negative impact with respect to demand during 2009.

Mentioning the additional impact on the Caribbean region of hurricanes that forced large-scale evacuations of tourists to their countries of origin, he highlighted the recovery tasks that immediately went ahead in Cuba in order to promote the tourism industry, guarantee success during the high season for resorts most affected by these phenomena, and to ensure that the national tourism industry was ready to receive those visitors who had chosen our country as a vacation destination.

With respect to principal economic indicators for the year, he highlighted that income from tourism rose by 13.5% in relation to 2007, utilities by 16.7% and contributions to the national economy by 16.3%

Some 110,000 workers are directly employed by the industry, of whom 41.22% are women and more than one third are 35 or under; 57.14% have passed 12th grade and 20% are university graduates.

Finally, after mentioning the battle being waged against illegalities and corruption, and work related to personnel training, he affirmed that the tourism industry will continue to consolidate itself, prioritizing involving all workers in solutions to insufficiencies that still exist, as well as learning from errors committed.

Translated by Granma International


http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2008/diciembre/sab27/Historical-record.html

Cuban Vaccine to Treat Prostate Cancer Shows Promise

Camagüey, Jan 10, (RHC).- The Cuban Center for Medicine Quality Control has approved the first stage clinical trials for a new therapeutic vaccine against hormone-sensitive prostrate cancer.

Lab tests have proven the new vaccine to be safe. If approved for human use, it would be help curtail the number of men who die every year in Cuba from prostate cancer which is the second leading cause of death among Cuban males.

The vaccine has been named Heberprovac, and it was developed by medical researchers at Camagüey's Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center, and it was already successful tried on patients at the Marie Curie Provincial Oncology Hospital.

Its effectiveness on advanced prostate cancer is yet unknown. However, though the vaccine is not a cure for cancer, it may significantly improve the patients' quality of life and their chances of survival.


http://www.periodico26.cu/english/health/jan2009/cancer-vaccine011009.html

Popular Cuban Director Premieres New Film


Juan Carlos Tabio

The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) began a nationwide showing Thursday of the film El cuerno de la abundancia (The Horn of Plenty) by director Juan Carlos Tabio. The film won third prize as best fiction film in the recent 30th edition of the Havana New Latin American Cinema Festival.

The movie is playing in the capital at the Yara, Payret, Acapulco, Infanta, Alameda, Ambassador, Lido and Regla theaters as well as in all provinces.

The comedy is about a family in the imaginary town of Yaraguey and revolves around a supposed large inheritance. Among the actors and actresses are Jorge Perugorria, Laura de la Uz, Mirta Ibarra and Vladimir Cruz.

Tabio’s filmography includes: Se Permuta (1985), Plaff (1991), Strawberry and Chocolate (1993), El Elefante y la Bicicleta (1995), Guantanamera (1997) and Waiting List (2000).


http://www.periodico26.cu/english/culture/jan2009/film011609.html

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Opening to Cuba can give Obama momentum internationally

by Wayne Smith, Centre for International Policy
01 January 2009


Former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, Wayne Smith, argues that a more sensible approach to Cuba would be one of the quickest and easiest ways for Obama to signal a change in US foreign policy and encourage support for broader foreign policy objectives in Latin America.
Read the article in full

Film on Human Rights in Cuba Presented in Sweden

http://www.juventudrebelde.co.cu/



HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 14 (acn) A documentary about human rights in Cuba made by Argentinean filmmaker Carolina Silvestre was presented in Stockholm, Sweden as part of a wide program in homage to the 50th anniversary of the 1959 triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

The name of the film is "Hechos, no palabras. Los derechos humanos en Cuba," (Facts, not Words. Human Rights in Cuba.) During the presentation of the material, Cuban Ambassador to Sweden Ernesto Melendez Bachs answered several questions asked by the people in the audience, most of whom agreed on the need to play the documentary for different sectors of the Swedish society.

Bolivia declared third illiteracy-free Latin American nation

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia. - Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared this country the third in Latin America to be free of illiteracy.

Bolivia declared third illiteracy-free Latin American nation According to the president, the eradication of this social ill constitutes a triumph over colonialism, which rejected that social commitment.

Neither internal nor external colonialists wanted to end illiteracy, Morales said in remarks at the Coliseum of the Coronilla, a building in Cochabamba that was the venue of the event to celebrate Bolivia’s attainment of that status, joining Cuba (1961) and Venezuela (2005).

The president described that achievement as one of commitment to continue driving forward on education and other social projects.

In his speech, the leader of the Movement toward Socialism thanked Cuba and Venezuela for their help with the campaign.

More than 820,000 Bolivians learned how to read and write with the Cuban audiovisual instruction method "Yo sí puedo" (Yes, I Can).

According to the president, it should be emphasized that almost 30,000 of those who have learned how to read received instruction in their indigenous languages, Quechua and Aymara.

The ceremony was attended by Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, Cuban Vice President José Ramón Fernández, representatives of different international agencies, and the ministers of education of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.

Translated by Granma International

http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2008/diciembre/lun22/bolivia.htmlZ

UNESCO director general begins visit to Cuba

UNESCO director general begins visit to Cuba

KOICHIRO Matsuura, director general of UNESCO, has arrived in Havana on an official visit.

Matsuura, who is visiting the island for the first time, has headed UNESCO since November of 1999.

During his stay, he will meet with Cuban officials and tour sites of historic and cultural interest.

Cuba has been a member of UNESCO since August 29, 1947 and since the triumph of the Revolution has qualitatively boosted its contributions to different aspects of the organization, principally related to education, the sciences and the cultural heritage.


http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/enero/lun19/unesco.html

Monday, 19 January 2009

SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE

SUGAR AND SOCIALISM — CUBA’S ECONOMY

Brian Pollitt is a lifelong socialist activist and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. Brian spent many years in Cuba and in this article he looks at the challenges facing the Cuban economy.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Release of Cuban Five Depends on International Support



CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, Jan 17 (acn) The release of the Cuban Five, unjustly imprisoned in the United States, will depend on international public opinion, said Rosa Aurora Freijanes, the wife of Fernando Gonzalez on Friday.
Along with relatives of the other four Cuban Five members, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, Rosa Aurora told young people from several nations studying in the central Ciego de Avila province that it’s necessary to break the wall of silence around the case.
She said that spreading around the world the legal and human rights violations committed in the case will help people understand the situation of these Cuban men who worked to prevent terrorist attacks against their country.
Rosa Aurora noted that the defense attorneys of the Cuban Five are currently preparing the arguments they will present before the US Supreme Court at the end of this month. She added that after the refusal of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta to reconsider the case, there’s hope that the Supreme Court will accept to review it, although there’s no assurance that will take place.
Fazi Saif Galib, of Palestinian nationality and president of the Ernesto Che Guevara Cuba Friendship Brigade at the Jose Aseff Yara University of Medical Sciences, insisted that it’s necessary to reach all US citizens so they know the true face of their government.
He pointed out that it Release of Cuban Five Depends on International Support

DEMIAN BICHIR

Actor Playing Fidel Castro Praises the Cuban Revolutionary Leader
Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who in recent films on Ernesto Che Guevara plays the role of Fidel Castro, praised the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution on Thursday and spoke highlight of the achievement of such a genuine social project.



Demian Bichir




HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 16 (acn) Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who in recent films on Ernesto Che Guevara plays the role of Fidel Castro, praised the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution on Thursday and spoke highlight of the achievement of such a genuine social project.
In spite of the US blockade of Cuba for almost 50 years, there’s something undeniable in the archipelago: everybody eats and they all have access to health and education, stated Bichir in an interview with the Reforma newspaper.
The actor said that time has proven Fidel right, and that Fidel has led a country that’s superior to others in many indicators, like that of the infant mortality rate in children under one year of age, which on the archipelago is almost four times less to average in Latin America.
The Spanish news agency EFE stated that the film - Che, el argentino (Che, the Argentinean) - will be premiered in Mexico on Friday. Along with Che, el guerrillero (Che, the Guerrilla), it depicts the life of the defender of the causes of the peoples, since his meeting with Fidel in Mexico to his death in Bolivia 41 years ago.
The film, by US director Steven Soderbergh, has already been exhibited in several countries, like Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Argentina, as well as in the United States , in a limited way.

http://www.juventudrebelde.co.cu/culture/2009-01-16/actor-playing-fidel-castro-praises-the-cuban-revolutionary-leader/

Saturday, 17 January 2009

FINAL ARRANGEMENTS


Two weeks to go until we leave for Cuba and things are coming together. we have had a slight let down in terms of the banner, the person who was to do it has had to pull out as they are busy working for scottish opera but folk from my work place - Bonnington have jumped into the breach and are sewing away like mad - (actually they are probably sitting in the pub but will get round to it soon!!) special thanks to Gill who has been nominated as our artistic director ( in her absence).

the presentation packs are coming along - we have gone for a tri anniversary theme - the 50th of the Cuban revolution , the 250th of the birth of Robert Burns and the 10th birthday of the Scottish Socialist Party.

we are all meeting tomorrow in glasgow to finalise the arrangements and then .......... cuba here we come !!!!

EURO UPDATE


in september 2008 500 Euros = £397
on december 28th 500 Euros = £488
on january 9th 500 Euros =£444
today january 17th 500 Euros = £451

Monday, 12 January 2009

SEVEN YEARS OF GUANTANAMO

Seven Years of Guantánamo, Seven Years of Torture and Lies

http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=27409

Seven years ago, on January 11, 2002, when photos of the first orange-clad detainees to arrive at a hastily-erected prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba were made available to the world’s press, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld reacted to the widespread uproar that greeted the images of the kneeling, shackled men, wearing masks and blacked-out goggles and with earphones completing their sensory deprivation, by stating that it was “probably unfortunate” that the photos were released.
As so often with Rumsfeld’s pronouncements, it was difficult to work out quite what he meant. He appeared to be conceding that newspapers like Britain’s right-wing Daily Mail, which emblazoned its front page with the word “torture,” had a valid point to make, but what he actually meant was that it was unfortunate that the photos had been released because they had led to criticism of the administration’s anti-terror policies.Rumsfeld proceeded to make it clear that he had no doubts about the significance of the prisoners transferred to Guantánamo, even though their treatment was unprecedented. They were, in essence, part of a novel experiment in detention and interrogation, which involved being held neither as prisoners of war nor as criminal suspects but as “enemy combatants” who could be imprisoned without charge or trial.

In addition, they were deprived of the protections of the Geneva Conventions so that they could be coercively interrogated, and then, when they did not produce the intelligence that the administration thought they should have produced, they were — as a highly critical Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded last month — subjected to Chinese torture techniques, taught in US military schools to train American personnel to resist interrogation if captured.But none of this mattered to Donald Rumsfeld. “These people are committed terrorists,” he declared on January 22, 2002, in the same press conference at which he spoke about the photos. “We are keeping them off the street and out of the airlines and out of nuclear power plants and out of ports across this country and across other countries.”

On a visit to Guantánamo five days later, he called the prisoners “among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.”Seven years after Guantánamo opened, it should be abundantly clear that neither Rumsfeld nor Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush or any of the other defenders of Guantánamo who indulged in similarly hysterical rhetoric, had any idea what they were talking about.The administration did all in its power to prevent anyone outside the US military and the intelligence services from examining the stories of the men (or even knowing who they were) to see if there was any truth to their assertions, but as details emerged in the long years that followed, it became clear that at least 86 percent of the prisoners were not captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan, as the government alleged, but were seized by the Americans’ allies in Afghanistan — and also in Pakistan — at a time when bounty payments, averaging $5000 a head, were widespread.

Moreover, it also emerged that the military had been ordered not to hold battlefield tribunals (known as “competent tribunals”) under Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention, which had been held close to the time and place of capture in every military conflict since Vietnam, to separate soldiers from civilians caught up in the fog of war, and that senior figures in the military and the intelligence services, who oversaw the prisoner lists from a base in Kuwait, with input from the Pentagon, had ordered that every Arab who came into US custody was to be sent to Guantánamo.No wonder, then, that many of these men had no useful or “actionable” intelligence to offer to their interrogators at Guantánamo, and how distressing, therefore, to discover that torture techniques were introduced because, in a horrific resuscitation of the witch hunts of the 17th century, prisoners who claimed to have no knowledge of al-Qaeda or the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were regarded not as innocent men captured by mistake, or foot soldiers recruited to help the Taliban fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the 9/11 attacks and had nothing to do with bin Laden’s small and secretive terror network, but as al-Qaeda operatives who had been trained to resist interrogation.The fruits of this torture are plain to see, in the copious number of unsubstantiated — and often contradictory or illogical — allegations that litter the government’s supposed evidence against the prisoners, but as recent reports by the Weekly Standard and the Brookings Institution have shown, those who take the government’s claims at face value end up endorsing the kind of rhetoric spouted by Donald Rumsfeld when the prison opened, and ignoring other commentators whose opinions are considerably less shrill.These include the intelligence officials who explained in August 2002 that the authorities had netted “no big fish” in Guantánamo, that the prisoners were not “the big-time guys” who might know enough about al-Qaeda to help counter-terrorism officials unravel its secrets, and that some of them “literally don’t know the world is round,” and Maj. Gen. Michael E. Dunlavey, the prison’s operational commander in 2002, who traveled to Afghanistan to complain that too many “Mickey Mouse” prisoners were being sent to Guantánamo.

On Guantánamo’s seventh anniversary, the challenge facing Barack Obama, as he prepares to fulfill his promise to close the prison, is to untangle this web of false confessions, separate innocent men and Taliban foot soldiers from genuine terrorists, scrap the reviled system of trials by Military Commission that was established by Dick Cheney and his legal counsel (and now chief of staff) David Addington, and transfer those suspected of genuine links to al-Qaeda to the US mainland, to face trials in federal courts.Anything less, and America’s moral standing will remain tarnished. It is, moreover, a mission that must not be subjected to unnecessary delays. As has become apparent in the last few days, at least 30 prisoners — mostly Yemenis, who now comprise 40 percent of the prison’s population — have recently embarked on hunger strikes at Guantánamo. They are, understandably, incensed that Salim Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, was repatriated in November, to serve out the last month of the meager sentence he received after a trial by Military Commission last summer, while they, who have never been charged with anything, remain imprisoned with no way of knowing if they will ever be released.

With the Associated Press announcing that Hamdan has now been released and is reunited with his family, it must surely be conceded that the hunger strikers have a valid point, and that seven years without justice is far too long.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK).

SOURCE: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/

Saturday, 10 January 2009

THE CUBAN REVOLUTION AFTER 50 YEARS

Scottiah Socialist party - Cuba

The Cuban revolution after 50 years
by Brian Pollitt


When Fidel Castro entered Havana in January 1959, there was widespread elation throughout Latin America. An unpopular military dictatorship had been overthrown; the young revolutionaries seizing power were obviously supported by the vast majority of the Cuban populace; and the general programme outlined by Castro – urban income redistribution, land reform and national control of the country’s major economic assets – reflected reformist nationalist sentiments throughout the continent.
From its first days its example was thus a potent threat both to Latin America’s ruling elites and to the US political and economic interests to which they were subservient.
The ideology of the Revolution in 1959 was not clearly defined and was popularly known as “Fidelismo”. (In much the same way, in later years, Nicaraguan radical thought became “Sandinismo” and Chavez’ Venezuela became a “Bolivarian” revolution.).
But from its earliest days, and certainly with the first suggestions that “Fidelismo” might adversely affect US interests in oil, telecommunications and the sugar economy, Washington sought to brand Castro as a “Communist” who had “betrayed” his Revolution. This was designed not just to foment dissent within Cuba but, more importantly, to isolate Cuba within the Western Hemisphere by asserting that the guiding political and economic philosophies of the Cuban Revolution, far from being rooted in Latin American nationalist thought, were entirely alien to it.
Cuba did not represent any Latin American interest but was, according to Eisenhower’s Administration, a mere puppet in Moscow’s Cold War with “the West”.
The interaction between Cuba’s agenda of domestic economic reforms – notably an agrarian reform which asserted State control over the bulk of the nation’s sugar factories and cane-lands – and Washington’s punitive response, expressed in economic sanctions and threats of military intervention, made US policy and propaganda a self-fulfilling prediction.
By 1961, in the Western Hemisphere, only Mexico and Canada had resisted US pressure and maintained their diplomatic relations with the island. And with shrinking prospects of securing necessary credits, investments, raw materials and consumer goods, Cuba perforce developed closer political and trading ties with the Soviet block. These were formally consolidated in April 1961 with the US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion and Castro’s declaration that Cuba’s Revolution was now “socialist” and geopolitical polarization became complete with the Missile Crisis of October 1962.
Cuba’s policies within the Soviet block were generally unorthodox, not least because her national Communist Party had played no prominent role in the making of the Revolution. By 1965, she had duplicated the formal institutional structures of Soviet-style States, with a Party General Secretary, Political Committee, Central Committee, etc. but the key posts were all held by members of Castro’s inner circle from the Sierra and the 26th July movement.
After unsuccessful endeavours to industrialize – thwarted by limited national material resources (most notably oil) and by an increasingly comprehensive US economic embargo – Cuba settled for a strategy of increasing her export capacity by expanding her newly profitable sugar trade with the USSR and other countries of Eastern Europe.
Education and public health provision were also prioritized. More controversially from the standpoint of the USSR and other Latin American Communist Parties, Cuba’s international policy sought to foment revolution throughout Latin America drawing on experiences of rural guerrilla warfare that had proved successful in the making of the Cuban revolution. This conflicted with orthodox CP strategies which emphasized the leading role to be played by the urban proletariat, not the peasantry, in the making of socialist revolutions, with the general strike – not the guerrilla ambush – as the key social instrument of popular insurrection.
In this arena, Cuba’s efforts did not prosper, culminating in the disaster of Guevara’s campaign and death in Bolivia in 1967. That failure was then compounded by a costly domestic defeat when an over-ambitious plan to produce 10 million tonnes of sugar in 1970 fell well short of its target. In the early 1970s, both foreign and domestic policies were thus revised.
Domestically, and stimulated by more formal ties to COMECON and by generous additional Soviet subsidies offered for Cuba’s sugar, economic plans were more modest and placed less emphasis on “moral incentives” and unpaid voluntary labour and more on the linkages between material rewards and worker productivity. And internationally, from a small island, Cuba became what a US academic termed a “small country but a big power”.
Throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, the Cuban armed forces had been equipped with most of the modern weaponry utilized by East European countries confronting NATO as members of the Warsaw Pact. The calculation was not that this would enable Cuba to defeat a direct US invasion but could deter it by its capacity to inflict unacceptable losses upon US forces.
Meanwhile, a continent away, South Africa’s “Defence Forces” outgunned all the so-called African “frontline States”, operating freely along the borders of Mozambique and up through occupied Namibia to threaten Angola.
As the war against Portuguese colonialism ended with the victory of the MPLA in Angola, South Africa confidently dispatched tanks, aircraft, artillery and elite infantry to join the MPLA’s pro-Western rivals and crush it.
In an audacious tour de force, quite unforeseen by either South Africa or its US ally, Cuba rapidly dispatched first the shock troops of the Ministry of the Interior, rapidly followed by the maritime delivery of heavy armour, artillery, infantry and MIG 21s and 23s.
When finally assembled in organized conventional formations, South Africa – hitherto militarily dominant throughout southern Africa – found itself outgunned and, eventually, in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, outfought by combined Cuban and MPLA forces. Abandoning the field in Angola, the South African armed forces also withdrew from Namibia, accelerating firstly Namibian independence and then the crumbling of South Africa’s apartheid regime.
When Fidel Castro attended Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as President of South Africa, his appearance prompted applause that startled many overseas observers unaware of the wider impact of Cuba’s armed intervention in Angola. It was ironic to contrast Cuba’s failure to promote successful guerrilla struggles in Latin America with the decisive impact of its deployment of a modern conventional armed force in Africa.
Cuba’s emergence as a power with a significant and unexpected international reach coincided in 1979 with revolution in Grenada and the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan, inaugurated as US President in 1980, announced his determination to “roll back communism” and embarked on a vigorous programme of rearmament and of military intervention in Central America and the Caribbean. The Soviets initially sought to match US military spending but her ailing and increasingly inefficient economy bankrupted itself in the process.
Between 1989 and 1991 the Soviet block in Eastern Europe disintegrated and the USSR itself imploded.
It seemed inconceivable that Cuba’s Revolution could survive the loss of its most important trading partner and source of credits, investment, raw materials and finished goods. The US Administration certainly didn’t think it could and made the terms of its economic embargo yet more stringent in its final push to topple a regime that – while no remotely plausible threat to US “national security” - had survived the sustained hostility of no less than nine US Presidents.
In the early 1990s, Cuba’s import capability, investment, export earnings and popular living standards all collapsed, while open and disguised unemployment dramatically increased.
In such conditions – euphemistically described by Castro as a “Special Period” – the Revolution had but one major priority: survival. But it was a survival that was to maintain “the gains of the Revolution”. These in turn were defined as the maintenance of Cuba’s national independence and of her principal social gains in the fields of education and public health. Government income and expenditures were both slashed, but while the budgets for defence and public order were drastically reduced, those for education and public health were substantially maintained.
Observing such priorities contributed greatly to the maintenance of the bulk of the regime’s popular support. That support was also reinforced by nationalist sentiments exacerbated by a sustained hostility from Washington that seemed to be no more than the sterile pursuit of a historical vendetta.
Economic survival in Cuba’s new conditions demanded important changes in Cuban State policy.
The tourist industry – hitherto discouraged because of the social ills traditionally associated with that sector – was now stimulated with joint-ventures with (mainly) Spanish capital. Canadian and South African investment was secured to modernize and expand mining and extractive industries. Independent overseas oil companies engaged with Cuba in off-shore oil exploration.
China became an increasingly important source of imports and credits. By the year 2000 there was a significant overall process of economic recovery with the emergence of new or growing sectors to offset the decline in Cuba’s traditionally dominant source of export earnings: sugar. The year 2000 also witnessed important transformations in Latin American politics with the emergence of several progressive regimes willing to engage on amicable terms with Cuba. The most important of these, of course, was the Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez.
By 2000, Cuba’s past investments in the development of facilities for medical and educational training had provided her with a growing annual flow of trained doctors and teachers willing and able to work with deprived communities overseas.
Hugo Chavez, meanwhile, pursued social “missions” to provide free health and education facilities to Venezuela’s marginalized population in both town and countryside. Chavez could not fulfill these “missions” by relying on Venezuela’s professional medical and pedagogical classes: these were accustomed to provide their services for a generous remuneration, predominantly from the country’s urban middle class.
But Chavez commanded handsome oil revenues that he could exchange for the services of many thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers. He could thus fulfill his social “missions” while the Cuban State could earn hard currency income to offset that lost with the decline of her traditional commodity exports. Morever, Chavez could and did finance Cuba’s provision of health and educational personnel to other countries in the region such as Bolivia and Nicaragua that collectively comprised what was known as the “pink tide” of progressive regimes emerging in Latin America.
Throughout the region, Cuba hence became best known not as an exporter of armed revolution but as a provider of better health and education for the underprivileged on many countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. In such a context, the US’s pursuit of “regime change” in Cuba, employing savage (and illegal) extra-territorial economic sanctions did not leave Cuba isolated in the Western Hemisphere. The isolated power was the US itself.
On the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, one can look back on a turbulent history that has seen profound international transformations. Cuba itself has witnessed important changes in its economic and social structure and in its domestic and international strategies.
Fidel Castro himself has left the scene as regards the day-today running of political and economic events. His brother Raul presides over a government most of the Ministers of which are in their 40s or 50s. The island is open to international visitors and, since many important enterprises are joint-ventures with foreign capital, the State has a less comprehensive role in economic decision-making than it once did.
The sugar sector, which used to earn more than 70 per cent of the nation’s export earnings now earns only 10 per cent. By contrast, the service sector, which used to earn 10 per cent of export earnings now earns 70 per cent. More decentralization in economic decision-making is still required, especially in Cuban agriculture where worker productivity and total output remain stubbornly low.
But the past half-century has certainly seen Cuba earn the name by which it was once popularly known: Cork Island. It can be battered and soaked in stormy seas but not sunk. And to achieve that while at the same time producing a progressively more educated and healthy population is quite an achievement.

Scottish Socialist Voice article




SSP DELEGATION SETS OFF FOR CUBA


On Friday 23rd May 2008, Terasita Trujillo, an Official of the Foreign Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, met with members of the SSP executive and international committee, with a view to strengthening relations between the SSP and the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. With that in mind the SSP were asked to send a delegation to visit Cuba to meet with the officials and local community groups.

In February, the SSP, will send a nine strong delegation to Cuba. For two weeks the delegation will meet with community groups in Havana, Pinar del Rio and Santa Clara. The delegation have requested meetings with Trade Unions, women’s groups, environmental and artistic groups which, they hope will give a better understanding of what everyday life is like for a Cuban worker.

To compliment these visits the group will also have formal meetings with the Cuban Communist Party and with representatives from the Cuban government to investigate if there are areas where Cuba and Scotland can link and be mutually supportive of each other.

Of course, this all comes with the background of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution and it is no accident that the delegation has picked 2009 for the visit. It is important that this milestone is celebrated, not just by Cubans but by the larger world community. At a time where the capitalist dream seems to be collapsing around them, we need practical examples of how socialism may work. Cubans are the first to admit that the Cuban system is not perfect but it has been working for the last 50 years and we can all learn from their mistakes and victories.

Some of the economic and environmental hardships that we are starting to face here, Cuba has been experiencing for the last 4 decades due to the American blockade of Cuba and have come up with some innovative solutions that could be transferable to other societies. Converting brown field urban sites into local allotments to provide fresh fruit and vegetables was a response to food rationing and as it didn’t involve transportation helped with the oil shortages too.

Unfortunately , there is another anniversary that we would prefer not to be marking when we are there. The tenth anniversary of the jailing of the “Miami five” . These five Cubans were sent to Miami to infiltrate local terrorist groups planning terrorist atrocities against Cuba. They drew up a dossier on these groups and handed it to the American FBI, where they were promptly arrested and jailed. One of the men, Gerardo Hernandez was given two life sentences plus a further 15 years. This must be one of the worst miscarriages of justice at the present time, even though the facts are publicly known, still the US courts refuse to listen. At the same time, Posada Carrilles, wanted for the destruction of a Cuban airliner in 1976 when over 70 people were killed, is able to walk freely around Miami . Carilles still wanted in Venezuela for this terrorist act but the US government refuses to extradite him.

All that said, the delegation hopes it will be a good and enjoyable trip, but we also would like to bring what we see back to Scotland and as such we intend to film a “video diary” and set up a blog , which we will update as often as we can . we also will give talks to branches and community groups who would like to talk to similar groups in Cuba. Hasta la Victoria siempre !!!!

OSWALDO GUAYASAMIN








in 2006 we went to the opening of an exhibition, in Havana, of art by the artist above and one of the other guests was Gerard Depardieu.
i'm a bit of a philistine when it comes to art - especially contempary art, but i quite like Oswaldo Guayasamin's stuff
Oswaldo Guayasamin

Oswaldo was born in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, on July 6, 1919. He graduated from the School of Fine Art in Quito as painter and sculptor. He carried out his first exhibit when he was 23, in 1942. He achieved in his youth all National Awards, and was credited, in 1952, at the age of 33, the Grand Award of the Biennial of Spain and later the Grand Award of the Biennial of Sao Paulo. His last exhibits were personally inaugurated in the Palace Museum of Luxemberg in Paris, and in the Museo Palais de Glace in Buenos Aires, in 1995.

He died on March 10, 99, when he was 79 years old.

His work has been shown in museums in all capitals of America and in many countries in Europe, for example, in Leningrade (L'Ermitage), Moscow, Prague, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, and Warsaw. He carried out 180 individual exhibits, and his production was fruitful in paintings, murals, sculptures and monuments. He has murals in Quito (Government and Legislative Palaces; Central University; Provincial Council); Madrid (Barajas airport); Paris (UNESCO headquarters); Sao Paulo (Latin American Parliament). In his monuments "A la Patria Joven" (To the Young Country) (Guayaquil, Ecuador); "A la Resistencia" (To the Resistence) (Rumiñahui) in Quito.




Friday, 9 January 2009

10 YEARS - MISSCARRAGE OF JUSTICE !!

FREE THE CUBAN 5



Roberto Gonzales, a Cuban lawyer and brother of Rene Gonzales
meeting with the SSP in 2004

http://www.freethefive.org/whoarethefive.htm

Who are the Cuban Five?

The Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in U.S. prison, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively, after being wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami, on June 8, 2001.

They are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.

The Five were falsely accused by the U.S. government of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges.

But the Five pointed out vigorously in their defense that they were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their country of Cuba.

The Five’s actions were never directed at the U.S. government. They never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons while in the United States.

The Cuban Five’s mission was to stop terrorism

For more than 40 years, anti-Cuba terrorist organizations based in Miami have engaged in countless terrorist activities against Cuba, and against anyone who advocates a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. More than 3,000 Cubans have died as a result of these terrorists’ attacks.

Terrorist Miami groups like Comandos F4 and Brothers to the Rescue operate with complete impunity from within the United States to attack Cuba—with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.

Therefore, Cuba made the careful and necessary decision to send the Five Cubans to Miami to monitor the terrorists. The Cuban Five infiltrated the terrorist organizations in Miami to inform Cuba of imminent attacks.

The aim of such a clandestine operation by the Cuban Five—at great personal risk—was to prevent criminal acts, and thus protect the lives of Cubans and other people.

But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI arrested the Cuban Five ANTI-terrorists on September 12, 1998. The Five were illegally held in solitary confinement for 17 months in Miami jail.

The trial began in November 2000. With the seven-month trial based in Miami, a virtual witchhunt atmosphere existed. Defense attorneys’ motions for a change of venue were denied five times by the judge, although it was obvious that a fair trial was impossible in that city.

In a blow to justice, the Cuban Five were convicted June 8, 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December, 2001.

A victory in appeals, then a surprise reversal

On August 9, 2005, after seven years of unjust imprisonment, the Cuban Five won an unprecedented victory on appeal. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of the Cuban Five and ordered a new trial outside of Miami.

(The Aug. 9 court decision can be read here (PDF file)

However, in an unexpected reversal on Oct. 31, the 11th Circuit Court vacated the three-judge panel’s ruling and granted an “en banc” hearing before the full panel of 12 judges. Exactly one year after the victory that granted the Five a new trial, the panel voted 10 to 2 to deny the Five heroes a new trial, and instead affirmed the trial court.

Nine remaining issues of appeal are before the three-judge panel (it is actually two judges now, one has retired), and as of December 2006, final supplemental documents were submitted by defense and prosecution. For an explanation of the legal issues, read the Nov. 21 interview with Leonard Weinglass here.

Your support is more important than ever

This case is a political case and the Cuban Five are political prisoners.

Their freedom will depend not only on the arduous work of the defense team but just as importantly on the public support that can be organized. Over 250 committees have been established in the United States and around the world, demanding immediate freedom for Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

Important declarations have been made by hundreds of parliamentarians in Britain, Italy, and the European and Latin American Parliaments. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, with five judges, ruled that there were irregularities in the Five’s trial and arrest, effectively denying them a fair trial and calls on the U.S. government to remedy this injustice.

In the United States, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is working very hard to build broad support for these anti-terrorist heroes, with forums and video showings, media and publicity work, and a march that was held on Sept. 23, 2006 in front of the White House.

The year 2007 will be critical for the struggle to win freedom for the Cuban Five. Call or write us! Find out how you can do your part to win justice for five men who dedicated their lives to save others.