First China-CELAC Ministerial Forum set for January 2015

Source:  Granma
December 30 2014

BEIJING

China announced the first China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Ministerial Forum, scheduled to take place January 8-9, 2015, with the participation of ministers from all associated countries and heads of regional organizations, reported Prensa Latina.

Hua ChunyingHua Chunying (photo), Chinese Ministry of Foreign Relations spokesperson, stated that the important encounter will address the principal channels of cooperation, areas of collaboration and issues linked to the creation of institutions. The China-CELAC Forum was approved by the Latin American-Caribbean bloc during the organization’s summit held in Havana in January, 2014 and has as its objective exchanges and dialogue focused on policies, economy, trade and culture.

CUBA-LA HABANA-PRIMERA SESIÓN DE LA VIII REUNIÓN DE COORDINADORES NACIONALESHua stated that China is eager to realize this encounter with other Latin American nations in order to build a network of mutually beneficial cooperation and collaboration. CELAC, founded in December, 2011, is formed of all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, with the exception of the United States and Canada.

china celac unitySource: China-Celac Forum announced  Granma

Maduro: Economic war unleashed by the United States

Source:  Granma Daily
December 23 2014

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced, on December 22, the formation, over the next few days, of a high level task force to address the situation of the economy, and reiterated that the country will break the financial blockade to which it is being subjected.

nicolas maduro 40

Speaking from Miraflores Palace, the seat of government, where he met with the Political Command of the Bolivarian Revolution, he reiterated that Venezuela is being subjected to economic warfare and international financial persecution.

Risk agencies trying to prevent Venezuela access to international credit

Maduro condemned the fact that risk agencies are placing Venezuela in the highest risk category, in order to prevent its access to international credit.

Last week the Fitch agency cut Venezuela’s credit rating to triple C, given a possible default on payments.

The Venezuelan President also stated that a market war on oil exporting nations has been unleashed by the United States.

Flooding the markets with oil obtained via destructive technology

Referring to low oil prices, currently at US$50 per barrel, he said that this was the result of flooding the markets with oil obtained via destructive technology, such as fracking.

Despite this, he said, “Venezuela will meet all its international commitments and maintain the pace of its investments directed at economic and social development.”

“We are going to break the financial blockade,” Maduro insisted, while calling for a response from “all sectors of the country which want to work within the context of the Constitution in order to produce and build the homeland.”

Source: Maduro: Economic war unleashed by the United States  Granma Daily

Venezuelans march against US sanctions

Source:  TeleSUR
December 18, 2014

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said that the Americas will never be a colony of the United States on Thursday (December 18) in response to U.S. President Barack Obama signing legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials.

nicolas maduro rejects sanctionsVenezuelan president Nicolas Maduro rejected on Thursday sanctions now signed by U.S president Barack Obama this afternoon. The legislation was passed by U.S. Congress last week, authorizing sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

“President Obama has taken a false step against our country, by signing the sanctions, despite the national and continental rejection of them. On the one hand, he recognizes the failure of the aggression against and blockade of Cuba … which with dignity, has resisted and won, and on the other hand he has started a stage of increased aggressions against (Venezuela),” said Maduro via Twitter.

Twitter translations:

These are the contradictions of an empire that tries to impose its domination in whatever way it sees fit, underestimating the strength and awareness of our homeland”

That’s why, I reject these insolent measures taken by the imperialist elite of the United States against Venezuela. The homeland of Bolivar should be respected.

Imperialists of the north, anyway they can, will keep on failing. Our America will never again be a colony of anyone, we swear by it.

Right-wing opposition violence

The U.S claims the sanctions are in retaliation for the so-called repressive or violent role of government officials earlier this year.

Some right-wing opposition supporters participated in blockades, burning over 100 public buses, stations, and buildings, shot at Chavista marchers, while also physically and verbally attacking people trying to get to school or hospitals between February and April this year. Forty-three people were killed, the majority being civilians and members of the pro-government national guard.

The government arrested some of the people perpetrating violence, although most of those arrested have been released.

The U.S santions would deny visas and freeze assets of government officials.

On Monday, Venezuelans marched against the sanctions. The country also celebrated 15 years of a constitution which gave them protagonistic participation in decision-making, and broad rights.

venezuelans march against sanctions”I want the response to U.S. actions to be as it’s always has been, the homeland of Liberator Simon Bolivar responds with dignity. This is why I call upon the women of this country to march on Monday, December 15, to march to protest imperialism, an anti-imperialist march from the people of Venezuela,” said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro at a gathering Friday with the Mothers Food Processing Corporation in Caracas.

Maduro, along with various other Latin American nations, has denounced the U.S. sanctions.

Source:  Venezuela’s Maduro Rejects Obama’s Signing of Sanctions  TeleSUR

Cuba’s prima ballerina: Artists will benefit from the new relations

viengsay valdesCuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes predicts there will be more cultural exchange between the two countries since they announced a normalization of diplomatic relations. She says artists will benefit from the added exposure.

The “prima ballerina,” or number one ballerina of the National Cuban Ballet welcomed a new era in cultural cooperation between Cuba and the United States Friday after the two countries announced the normalization of diplomatic relations earlier this month.

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations will enable more Cubans to perform in the United States and vice versa, said Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes.

There has always been a certain degree cultural exchange between the U.S. and Cuba, but the historical Dec. 17 decision to renew relations will undoubtedly expand that, the artist noted several times to applauding U.S. audiences.

During the XXIV Havana International Ballet Festival from October 28 to November 7, one of the most awaited performances was put on by the Hispanic Ballet of New York, for the first time in Cuba.  The festival was first held in 1960 and has since hosted companies from more than 50 countries.

Ballet Hispánico de Nueva York

(Photo: Hispanic Ballet of New York)

The next major event in Cuban ballet will be a celebration of the 56th anniversary of the Revolution, where several 19th century classics will take the stage.

In 2011, Dance Magazine elected Valdes and Russian ballet dancer Ivan Vasiliev as the most inspiring dance couple of the year for their impressive rendition of the pas de deux Don Quixote in a New York performance.

Source:  Cuban Ballerina Expects More US-Cuba Cultural Exchange  TeleSUR

Ellis: An engagement with virtuous Cuba is clearly beneficial for the US

by Keith Ellis

The return home of the final, and most imperiled, three of the Five Cuban heroes from their egregiously unjust treatment by the U.S. judicial and penal systems is cause for rejoicing.
ramon antonio y gerardo 201 4 2This is all the more so because this clear and definitive though tardy compliance with what is just was announced along with other positive measures.  But there are others that will be fruitful only if the U.S. abandons entrenched patterns of imperialist behaviour.  In this latter regard there is hope that comes, not from a willing benevolence on the part of the U.S., but from the well-demonstrated resistance and dignity of the Cuban people in defence of their sovereignty and independence.

CELAC 11The example set by Cuba has steadily eroded the U.S.A.’s assumed authority to dictate to the governments of this hemisphere.  In 1962 the Organization of American States succeeded in having all states in the hemisphere except for Mexico and Canada break relations with Cuba.  The revolutionary island then stood alone, seeing the OAS as what it called the U.S.A.’s “Ministry of colonies.”  By 2011 the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), one of the integrative organizations spearheaded by Venezuela and Cuba, had come to virtually supplant the OAS, with the membership of all the countries in the hemisphere except for the U.S. and Canada, which were excluded.

Cuba’s image as a country that contributes to the wellbeing of humanity

This reversal was reinforced by Cuba’s universally inerasable image as a country that readily contributes in a positive way to the wellbeing of humanity. raul bids farewell tomedical brigade heading for sierra leone If Cuba is wont to do this without trumpeting its virtue, its response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa—a scourge that has so alarmed people everywhere that the revolutionary island’s commitment to fighting it won plaudits even from the corporate press in North America—made attempts at continuing the demonization of Cuba unprofitable.

The image of the United States – bludgeoned by the exposure of misdeeds

On the other hand, the image of the United States was continuing to be bludgeoned by the exposure of misdeeds and crimes against humanity—torture, brutal applications of the law—perpetrated with impunity for all to see.  In these circumstances an engagement with virtuous Cuba was clearly beneficial for the United States.  The nerve it took to so misplace Cuba as to keep it on a list of terrorist-supporting countries had to give way; the absurdly punitive measures taken by the United States to limit severely the contacts between Cubans at home and those living as immigrants in North America had to become more rational; and the maniacally cruel economic, financial and commercial embargo placed on Cuba in 1962 and that has acquired increasingly odious characteristics with the passage of time had to be acknowledged as being rampantly evil.

For twenty-three successive years the UN General assembly has condemned the US embargo against Cuba

UN votes on US embargo against Cuba 2014This is especially so because it has been condemned in the UN General Assembly for twenty-three successive years by what is truly the international community.  Last October (2014), 188 countries on this planet voted to condemn it, while two, the U.S. and Israel, voted to sustain it.  We do not know with what zeal President Obama will work to free Cuba and the world of the embargo.  His will to do good has to be questioned as long as he acts to bring about the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Venezuela, employing sometimes the most reprehensible racist means.  For Cuba and Venezuela are, to adapt a phrase once used regarding Cuba and Puerto Rico, two wings of the same bird.

As with the struggle for the freedom of the Five, the struggle must continue for the end of the embargo.  It is likely that those in that struggle will be joined by the Cuban Five, for on their return to Cuba they have pledged to take on any task assigned to them by the Revolution.  Let us also notice that the announcements of December 17th were made on the Day of San Lázaro, a revered saint in the Afro-Cuban religion, Santería, a saint hailed throughout Cuba with masterful celebratory drumming, recalling the victory over slavery and the triumph of the Revolution.

keith-TorontoMoncadaDay-04Keith Ellis C.D. Professor Emeritus, at the University of Toronto, author or editor of eighteen books and some one hundred articles published in all the top journals in his field of Spanish-American literature and culture.   Professor Ellis is a Jamaican and a long-standing, active defender of the Cuban revolution.  Last September (2014) he was awarded the Friendship Medal by the State Council of the Republic of Cuba in recognition of his trust, dedication and solidarity with the nation.  He is a Coordinator of the Canadian Network on Cuba, CNC, Sandy Relief Fund

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FIFA Won’t Restage Vote for 2018 or 2022 World Cup

Key investigator Michael Garcia stepped down last week out of protest, claiming FIFA leadership had misrepresented his previous expose of corruption in the bidding process to host the next World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

sepp blatter qatarFIFA’s executive committee has unanimously agreed to release an “appropriate” version of an investigation into the report of alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process, insisting that the decision to let Russia and Qatar host the tournaments was made in a transparent manner.

On Saturday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter expounded on the reasons why the World soccer federation chose not to hold a re-vote on its previous decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during their hot summer, despite protests from players foreseeing health risks.

There is no reason to go back on our decision

“It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements to go back on this World Cup in Qatar,” said Blatter. “At the current time, there is no reason to go back on our decisions. The two World Cups are in the calendar, the only thing missing is the precise dates for 2022, but these two World Cups will take place.”

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Ecuador: Soccer leads to peace in Quito’s Pisuli neighborhood

On the slopes of the northwest corner of Quito, is the neighborhood of Pisuli.

pisuli quitoThe neighborhood of 1,850 families was born from illegal land grabs 40 years ago. This caused internal tension, but also put residents of Pisuli at odds with neighboring Los Roldos. However, what was once a violent and strained relationship between the neighborhoods has seen improvements over the years.

“La Roldos is in front of Pisuli, and the people from La Roldos wanted to take over this sector. But there were other groups that organized all of Pisuli. There were many problems here. There were deaths, people that risked their life to create the Pisuli cooperative, the Pisuli neighborhood,” said principal of the Pisuli School, Sergio Espin (photo below) to teleSUR English.

sergio espin pisuli quitoSoccer, which has taken over the streets and empty lots of Pisuli, is common ground for Continue reading