Raul Castro: Normalization of relations will not be possible as long as the blockade exists

Raul Castro’s speech at the 3rd CELAC Summit
Belen, Costa Rica
January 28, 2015

Esteemed President Luis Guillermo Solís; Esteemed Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean; Esteemed Heads of the Delegations and guests accompanying us:

raul speaks at 3rd celac summit in costa rica 2Our America has entered a new era and has advanced, since the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in its goals of independence, sovereignty over its natural resources, integration, the construction of a new world order, social justice and democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

Today there is a commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples which is superior to that in any other historical period. Together, we are the third largest economy in the world, the area with the second largest oil reserves, the greatest biodiversity on the planet and a high concentration of the globe’s mineral resources.

Unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences

To develop unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences will remain our primary purpose and an inescapable necessity, because the world’s problems are serious, and great dangers and tough challenges persist which transcend national and even sub-regional possibilities. Over the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth have allowed us to confront the global economic crisis and made possible a reduction in poverty, unemployment and unequal income distribution.

The profound political and social transformations carried out in several countries in the region have brought dignity to millions of families who have escaped poverty. But the Latin American and Caribbean region remains the most unequal on the planet. On average, 20% of households with the lowest incomes receive 5% of total income; 167 million people still suffer from poverty, one in five children under-15 live in poverty, and the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million. Half of our youth do not have secondary education or a ninth grade education, but, in the lower income sector, 78% do not complete their studies. Two thirds of the new generation do not reach university.

What would the tens of millions of marginalized say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

The number of victims of organized crime and violence, which threatens the stability and progress of nations, is increasing. What would be the thoughts of the tens of millions of marginalized on democracy and human rights? What would their opinion be regarding political models? What would they argue about election laws? Is this the civil society which governments and international organizations take into account? What would they say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

Little do many of the industrialized States have to show our region in this respect, where half of youth are unemployed, the crisis is heaped onto the workers, and students are repressed while the bankers are protected, unionization is prevented, lower wages are paid to women for equal work, inhumane policies are applied against immigrants, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and neo-fascist tendencies are on the rise, and where citizens do not vote because they see no alternative to political corruption, or they know that election promises are soon forgotten.

We are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems

raul addresses the 3rd celac summit in costa ricaTo achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, we are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems, patterns of production and consumption, the relationship between economic growth and development, and also, the effectiveness of political models.

We must overcome the structural gaps; ensure high quality free education, free universal health coverage, social security for all, equal opportunities, and the full exercise of all human rights for all people. Within such efforts, an elementary duty will be solidarity and defense of the interests of the Caribbean and, in particular, Haiti.

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required, where the interests and needs of the countries of the South, and of the majority, are accommodated and prioritized, in which those who impose the concentration of capital and neoliberalism do not prevail.

un logoThe [UN] post 2015 Development Agenda must provide solutions to the structural problems of economies of the region, and generate the changes that will lead to sustainable development.

It is also essential to build a world of peace, governed by the Principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law, without which development is impossible.

Vigorous condemnation of the unilateral sanctions against Venezuela

The signing by heads of state and government of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace marked a historic step forward and provides a reference for relations between our states and with the rest of the world. Solidarity in Our America will be decisive to advancing common interests.

Maduro y Raul ALBA 10We express vigorous condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustified unilateral sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the continuing external intervention aimed at creating a climate of instability in this sister nation.

Cuba, profoundly familiar with all these tales, having endured them itself for over 50 years, reiterates its firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas

raul y christinaWe join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. We support the South American nation and it’s President Cristina Fernández, who faces attacks from hedge funds and the decisions of venal courts, in violation of the sovereignty of this country.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa, in support of their demand for compensation for environmental damage caused by transnational Chevron in Ecuador’s Amazon. As we have said before, the Community will be incomplete as long as Puerto Rico is absent. Its colonial situation is unacceptable, and it’s Latin American and Caribbean character leaves no room for doubt.

In the Colombian peace process, the agreements reached by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army in the conversations taking place in Havana are significant. Never before have they advanced so much in the direction of achieving peace.

We  support the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations

Ralph Gonsalves 7Cuba, in its capacity as guarantor and venue of these talks, will continue providing the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible to an end to the conflict, and the construction of a just and lasting peace in the sister nation of Colombia. We resolutely support, as we have done to date, the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations for the damages caused by slavery and colonialism, as well as resolutely opposing the decision to deprive them of vital financial resources on the basis of technocratic pretexts characterizing them as middle-income countries. We recognize the excellent developments achieved in the CELAC-China Forum and regional links with the BRICS group.

We reiterate our concern regarding the enormous and growing military expenditures imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, such as the attempt to extend their aggressive presence to the borders of Russia, with which we have historic, fraternal and mutually beneficial relations. We energetically oppose the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on this nation. The growing aggression of the NATO military doctrine and the development of unconventional warfare – which have already had devastating consequences and grave results – threaten peace and international security.

For Cuba, the principal of the sovereign equality of all states and peoples’ right to self-determination is inalienable.

The United Nations General Assembly must use its faculties to safeguard international peace and security, given the Security Council’s double standards, excesses and omissions.

The UN must offer full membership to Palestine without further delay

un and palestine Full membership must be offered to Palestine without further delay, to which the people and government of Cuba convey their solidarity.

The Security Council’s veto, which ensures that Israel’s crimes go unpunished, must end. Africa, where our roots also lie, does not need advice or interference, but the transfer of financial resources, technology and fair trade.

We will forever defend the legitimate interests of the nations with which we struggle, shoulder to shoulder, against colonialism and apartheid, and with which we maintain relations of fraternity and cooperation.

Cuba’s voice will tirelessly defend just causes

We always remember their unwavering solidarity and support. Cuba’s voice will tirelessly defend just causes and the interests of Southern countries and will remain faithful to their objectives and common positions, in the knowledge that homeland is humanity.

The foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution will remain faithful to its principles. Esteemed colleagues: Last December 17, saw the return to the homeland of Cuban anti-terrorists, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who together with Fernando González and René González are a source of pride and an example of conviction.

The President of the United States acknowledged the failure of his nation’s policy toward Cuba

obama y raulThe President of the United States acknowledged the failure of his nation’s policy toward Cuba, implemented for over 50 years, the country’s complete isolation as a result; and the damages which the blockade has caused to our people. He has ordered a review of the obviously unjustifiable inclusion of the island on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Also on that day, he announced the decision to re-establish U.S. diplomatic relations with our government.

These changes are the result of almost a century and a half of heroic struggle and loyalty to principles of the Cuban people. They were also made possible thanks to the new era our region is experiencing, and to the firm, valiant demands made by the governments and peoples of CELAC.

The great failure for the US at Cartegena

These changes vindicate Our America, which worked in close collaboration, in the United Nations and all other spheres, to achieve this objective. Preceded by the ALBA Summit in Cumaná, Venezuela, the discussions held in the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Puerto España, Trinidad and Tobago, led President Obama, at that time recently elected, to propose a new beginning with Cuba. In Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, a strong debate took place in which the blockade was unanimously and categorically rejected, compelling an important U.S. leader to describe the occasion as the great failure of Cartagena, or disaster – was the exact phrase – and during which Cuba’s exclusion from these events was debated.

Strong support for Cuba

Ecuador, in protest, had decided not to participate. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia stated that they would not attend another summit without the presence of Cuba, a sentiment which received support from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Caribbean Community assumed a similar stance. Mexico and the remaining nations also agreed. Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, before his inauguration, resolutely announced that he would invite Cuba, with full rights and equality of conditions, to the Seventh Summit of the Americas, and that is what he did.

One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army

jose marti 4Cuba immediately confirmed that it would attend. This demonstrates Martí’s precision when he wrote “One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army.” (Applause) To all those present, I express Cuba’s most profound gratitude. To the 188 states which voted against the blockade in the United Nations; to those who made a similar demand at the General Assembly and international summits and conferences; and to all the popular movements, political forces, parliaments and personalities who tirelessly worked to achieve this objective, on behalf of Cuba, I sincerely thank you. To the people of the United States who expressed growing opposition to the hostile policy and the blockade, imposed for over five decades, I also convey our appreciation and friendly sentiments.

These outcomes show that governments with profound differences can find a solution to their problems, through respectful dialogue and exchanges on the basis of sovereign equality and reciprocity, for the benefit of their respective nations.

Cuba will not renounce its ideals of independence and social justice

As I have repeatedly stated, Cuba and the United States must learn the art of civilized co-existence, based on respect for the differences which exist between both governments and cooperation on issues of common interest, which contribute to solving the challenges we are facing in the hemisphere and the world. However, it must not be supposed that, in order to achieve this, Cuba would renounce its ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimetre in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We will not invite, or accept any attempt to advise or exert pressure regarding our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks.

Cuba’s position to the US State department

Could diplomatic relations be restored without resuming the financial services of the Cuban Interests Section and its Consular Office in Washington, denied as a consequence of the financial blockade? How can diplomatic relations be restored without removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of international terrorism? What will be the future conduct of U.S. diplomats in Havana, in regards to observing the diplomatic and consular norms established by International Conventions?

This is what our delegation has said to the State Department during the bilateral talks held last week, and more meetings are required to address these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our willingness to advance toward normalization of bilateral relations, once diplomatic relations are re-established, which would imply the adopting of measures by both parties to improve the climate between the two countries, to resolve other pending problems, and move forward on cooperation.

The current situation discreetly opens an opportunity for the hemisphere to encounter new, superior ways to cooperate, which would serve the two Americas. This would allow pressing problems to be resolved, and open new paths.

Every state has the inalienable right to choose its own political, economic, social, cultural system

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace constitutes an indispensable foundation for this, including the recognition that every state has the inalienable right to choose its own political, economic, social, cultural system, without interference of any kind on the part of another state, which constitutes an undeniable principle of international law, The principal problem has not been resolved.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes great human and economic damage and violates international law, must end.

I remember the memorandum written by Undersecretary Mallory, in April of 1960, which, given the lack of an effective political opposition [in Cuba], proposed the objective of creating hunger, desperation and suffering to provoke the overthrow of the revolutionary government. Now, everything seems to indicate that the objective is to create an artificial political opposition though economic, political and communications means.

Normalization of relations will not be possible as long as the blockade exists

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process which can progress toward normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible as long as the blockade exists, or as long as the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned (Applause), or radio and television broadcasts which violate international norms continue, or just compensation is not provided our people for the human and economic damage they have suffered.

It would not be ethical, just, or acceptable that something was requested of Cuba in return.

If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States makes no sense.

Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals

Neither can it be expected that Cuba would agree to negotiate aspects mentioned with respect to our absolutely sovereign, internal affairs. Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals.

To continue advancing, this is how it must be. We have carefully followed the U.S. President’s announcement of some executive decisions to modify certain aspects of the blockade’s application. The measures announced are very limited.

Prohibitions on credit and the use of the dollar in international financial transactions remain in place; individual travel by U.S. citizens is hampered under the system of licenses for so-called people-to-people exchanges; these are conditioned by subversive goals; and maritime travel is not allowed.

President Obama could  use his  executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade even without a decision by Congress

Prohibitions remain on the acquisition in other markets of equipment and technology with more than 10% U.S. components, and on imports by the United States of goods containing Cuban raw materials, among many, many others. President Barack Obama could decisively use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade, that which is in his hands, even without a decision by Congress.

He could permit, in other sectors of the economy, all that he has authorized in the arena of telecommunications, with evident objectives of political influence in Cuba.

They are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives

His decision to hold a discussion with Congress on eliminating the blockade is significant. U.S. government spokespeople have been very clear in specifying that they are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives, and insist on continuing to intervene in our internal affairs, which we are not going to accept. Our U.S. counterparts should not plan on developing relations with Cuban society as if there were no sovereign government in Cuba. (Applause).

No one should dream that the new policy announced means acceptance of the existence of a socialist revolution 90 miles from Florida.

They want so-called civil society to be present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, and this is what Cuba has always said. We have protested what has occurred at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and Quebec, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, and whenever the G-7 or International Monetary Fund meet, when civil society is placed behind steel fences, faces brutal police repression, or is confined to locations dozens of kilometres from the events.

Representation of popular movements and non-governmental organizations

Of course Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there are no restrictions on our country’s non-governmental organizations, which obviously have no interest, or any status within the OAS, but are recognized by the UN.

occupy wall streetI hope to be able to see in Panama the popular movements and non-governmental organizations which advocate for nuclear disarmament, for the environment, against neoliberalism, the Occupy Wall Street and the indignados of this region, university and high school students, farmers, trade unions, communities of original peoples, organizations which oppose the contamination caused by fracking, those defending the rights of immigrants and denouncing torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality, racist practices, those who demand equal pay for women for equal work, those demanding compensation for damage caused by transnational corporations. Nevertheless, the announcements made December 17 have generated world recognition, and President Obama has received very broad support within his own country. Some forces in the United States will try to abort this process which is beginning.

Ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process

They are the same enemies of a just relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, those who disrupt bilateral relations with many countries in our region with that nation, those who always blackmail and pressure.

We know that ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process, which will require the support, the mobilization and resolute action of all persons of good will in the United States and the world; approval on the part of the United Nations General Assembly, during its next session, of the resolution calling for its elimination; and in particular, concerted action by Our America.

Congratulations to Costa Rica; full support to Ecuador

celac 3rd summit in costa rica3We congratulate Costa Rica, President Solís and his government for the work done at the helm of CELAC. We welcome and offer our full support to Ecuador and President Correa, who will lead the Community in 2015.

correa at the 3rd celac summitin costa ricaMany thanks. (Applause).

Source:  President Raúl Castro speaks to Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica Granma

Fidel: I do not trust the policy of the United States

Fidel Castro
January 27 2015

The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro sent a message to the Federation of University Students on the occasion of an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of his admission to the University of Havana.

fidel y Marti 2In 2006, as a result of health issues which were incompatible with the time and effort required to fulfill my duties – which I myself assumed when I entered this University September 4, 1945, 70 years ago – I resigned from my official positions.

I was not the son of a worker, or lacking in material or social resources for a relatively comfortable existence; I could say I miraculously escaped wealth. Many years later, a richer and undoubtedly very capable U.S. citizen, with almost 100 billion dollars, stated – according to a news agency article published this past Thursday, January 22 – that the predominant system of production and distribution of wealth would, from generation to generation, make the poor rich.

Since the times of ancient Greece, during almost 3,000 years, the Greeks, without going very far, were brilliant in almost all activities: physics, mathematics, philosophy, architecture, art, science, politics, astronomy and other branches of human knowledge. Greece, however, was a land in which slaves did the most difficult work in fields and cities, while the oligarchy devoted itself to writing and philosophizing. The first utopia was written precisely for them.

The realities of this very poorly shared planet

Observe carefully the realities of this well-known, globalized and very poorly shared planet Earth, on which we know every vital resource is distributed in accordance with historical factors: some with much less than they need, others with so much they don’t know what to do with it. Now amidst great threats and dangers of war, chaos reigns in the distribution of financial resources and social production. The world’s population has grown, between 1800 and 2015, from one to seven billion inhabitants. Can this population increment be accommodated, in this way, over the next 100 years, and food, health, water and housing needs met, regardless of whatever scientific advances are made?

Well, setting aside these perplexing problems, it is astonishing to recall that the University of Havana, during the days when I entered this beloved, prestigious institution almost three-fourths of a century ago, was the only one in Cuba.

From one to more than 50 institutions of higher learning

Of course, fellow students and professors, we must remember that it is not just one now, but rather more than 50 institutions of higher learning distributed across the entire country.

When you invited me to participate in the launch of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of my admission to the University, which I was surprised to learn of, during days when I was very busy with various issues in which I can perhaps still be relatively useful, I decided to take a break and devote several hours to recalling those years.

I am overwhelmed recalling that 70 years have passed. In reality, compañeros and compañeras, if I were to register again at this age, as some have asked me, I would respond, without hesitation, that it would be to pursue scientific studies. I would say, like Guayasamín: Leave a little light on for me.

Influenced by Marx and Lenin

In those years, already influenced by Marx, I was able to understand more, and better, the strange, complex world in which it has befallen us to live. I may have harbored some illusions of the bourgeoisie, whose tentacles managed to entangle many students, when they possessed more passion than experience. The topic would be long and interminable.

Another genius of revolutionary action, founder of the Communist Party, was Lenin. Thus I did not hesitate a second when during the Moncada trial, when they allowed me to attend, albeit just one time, I stated before the judges and dozens of high-ranking officials of the Batista regime that we were readers of Lenin.

We didn’t talk about Mao Zedong, since the socialist revolution in China, inspired by the same principles, had not yet ended.

Revolutionary ideas must always be on guard as humanity expands its knowledge

I insist, nonetheless, that revolutionary ideas must always be on guard as humanity expands its knowledge.

Nature teaches us that tens of billions of light years may have passed, and life in all of its expressions has always been subjected to an incredible combination of matter and radiation.

A personal greeting between the Presidents of Cuba and the United States took place at the funeral of Nelson Mandela, the distinguished, exemplary combatant against apartheid who had become friendly with Obama.

A story yet to be written

It is enough to indicate that, at that time, several years had passed since Cuban troops had decisively defeated the racist South African army, directed by the wealthy bourgeoisie, which had vast economic resources. This is a story of a conflict which has yet to be written. South Africa, the government with the most financial resources on the continent, had nuclear weapons supplied by the racist state of Israel, as the result of an agreement between this party and President Ronald Reagan, who authorized the delivery of devices for the use of such weapons to attack Cuban and Angolan forces defending the Popular Republic of Angola against racist troops attempting to occupy the country.

Thus peace negotiations were excluded while Angola was attacked by apartheid forces, with the best trained and equipped army on the African continent.

In such a situation, there was no possibility whatsoever for a peaceful solution. Continual efforts to liquidate the Popular Republic of Angola, to bleed the country systematically with the power of that well equipped and trained army, was what led to the Cuban decision to deliver a resounding blow to the racists at Cuito Cuanavale, the former NATO base which South Africa was attempting to occupy at all costs.

Freeing Africa of nuclear weapons

That powerful country was obliged to negotiate a peace agreement which put an end to the military occupation of Angola, and an end to apartheid in South Africa.

The African continent was left free of nuclear weapons. Cuba was forced to face, for a second time, the threat of a nuclear attack.

Cuban internationalist troops withdrew from Africa with honor.

Surviving the special period without raising the white flag

Then Cuba survived the Special Period in peace time, which has already lasted for more than 20 years, without raising the white flag, something we have never done, and will never do.

Many friends of Cuba know of the Cuban people’s exemplary conduct, and I will explain to them, in a few words, my essential position.

I do not trust the policy of the United States

I do not trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged one word with them, though this does not in any way signify a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or threats of war. Defending peace is the duty of all. Any negotiated, peaceful solution to the problems between the United States and peoples, or any people of Latin America, which does not imply force or the use of force, must be addressed in accordance with international principles and norms.

We will always defend cooperation and friendship

We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all of the world’s peoples, and with those of our political adversaries. This is what we are demanding for all.

The President of Cuba has taken pertinent steps in accordance with his prerogatives and faculties conceded by the National Assembly and the Communist Party of Cuba.

The grave dangers who today threaten humanity must yield to norms which are compatible with human dignity. No country can be denied such a right.

In this spirit I have struggled, and will continue to struggle, to my last breath.

fidel's signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

January 26, 2015

12:35 p.m.

Fidel Castro welcomes talks with Washington, but

Fidel Castro has welcomed talks with Washington, but warned, “I don’t trust the policy of the United States.”

Fidel en el Palacio de Convenciones. Foto: Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate.Former Cuban President Fidel Castro publicly gave his blessing to the historic negotiations between Cuba and the United States Monday, but warned Washington isn’t to be trusted.

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries,”

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries,” said Fidel Castro in a statement published by Cuban newspaper Granma. “Any peaceful or negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America that doesn’t imply force or the use of force should be treated in accordance with international norms and principles.”

However, Fidel Castro conceded, “I don’t trust the policy of the United States nor have I had an exchange with them.”

“But, this does not mean … a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or the dangers of war,” he explained.

The first round of negotiations between Havana and Washington wrapped up last week. The talks are aimed at reviving bilateral ties after decades of U.S. attempts to overthrow the government in Havana.

Along with the U.S. blockade and the controversial listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorismother issues discussed in the meeting included immigration reform and plans to open embassies.

Plans to loosen trade and investment restrictions, along with easing a long-standing travel ban

U.S. President Barack Obama has already announced plans to loosen trade and investment restrictions, along with easing a long-standing travel ban.

Both sides reported some progress in last week’s talks, but said there is still more work to be done.

A Cuban official that spoke ahead of the negotiations explained the first round of talks wouldn’t “normalize” bilateral relations.

“Cuba is re-establishing diplomatic relations with the U.S. The process of normalization is much longer and deeper,” the official stated.

The U.S. blockade of Cuba must be totally dismantled before relations can be completely normalized, the official said.

Source:   Fidel Castro Expresses Cautious Support of Cuba-US Talks  TeleSUR

China Ascends, America Declines – Infrastructure Trumps Militarized Capitalism

Source:  counterpunch.org
January 14 2015

china's engineering 3

by Norman Pollack

A nation’s absence of will for anything but militarism

Downward historical-structural trajectories reveal themselves by a nation’s absence of will for anything but war, intervention, the disproportionate emphasis on and allocation for military spending, invariably at the expense of its people’s needs and the social good. Militarism is seen, much as Viagra for the 50+ male, as the source of vigor, the means of heading off aging, in this case of a nation as it wallows in its own psychopathological emphasis on strength, virility, or speaking practically in international terms, global domination. Keeping to old ways, the recapitulation of steps taken in the past, from shock-and-awe bombing campaigns to covert actions aimed at regime change, from fine tuning tactics like drone assassination to revising grand strategies like the shift in focus from Europe to the Pacific, signifies more than a repetition-compulsion, a massive reactive formation: it signifies an inability to adjust to realities, here, on the world scene, and consequently, an urge to plunge head down dead ahead in order to stop history in its tracks and confirm a permanent hegemonic status no longer to be. The more fearful, the more belligerent, and add to that, the more ambitious, which translates into the constant mobilization of increased force. Voila, Obama’s Pacific-first strategy aimed at ultimate confrontation with China.

Battle carrier groups steaming to the Pacific

China is America’s nightmare. How many military/intelligence bed sheets are soiled in wet dreams of American conquest of China? We’ll never know, given Obama’s contempt for government transparency. But we have evidence before us, battle carrier groups steaming to the Pacific (assuming steaming can be used with nuclear-powered), long-range bombers nuclear capable in place, a full schedule of jointly-held military exercises with regional “friends and allies,” even encouragement for rearming Japan. One can say, everything in preparatory stage—madness the US appears helpless to reverse, so gnawing are the symptoms of decline.

And what of China? Has it adopted a mental-set of being imperiled? Is its national product diverted to war-planning and –production? Is its national identity bound up with conquest and the geopolitical fruits of aggression? Is it deeply immersed in a state of denial, so that not only is history become the enemy but also militarism (preferably disguised as liberal humanitarianism) the selection of choice for breaking out to a newer, less complicated splendor of wealth and power?

Judging a society by its creative demiurge

Ever since childhood, I have tended to judge a society, in part, by its creative demiurge, architecture (not Speer’s Nazi monumentality designed to cow the people into submission) and the projects articulated as an indicator of Community, an endeavor to achieve the societal well-being. (Painting and music would also count, of course, but my interest in aesthetic and cultural liberation—admittedly limited—took this form.) With the Sino-American comparison in mind, particularly the latter’s crumbling infrastructure, on which we can all agree, I will note current developments in China as a sign of confidence in the future. By architecture, we must include engineering as perhaps its inner voice—and by infrastructure, I must admit my admiration for what the New Deal was able to achieve, infrastructure the inner voice of the nation’s collective property and well-being. That private contractors rule the roost in the little done in America today, i.e., the privatization of the national estate, only confirms the decline in spirit and will to think of a separable PUBLIC realm dedicated to the people as by right theirs.

A wave of infrastructure concentration in modern China Continue reading

Chinese doctors carry out groundbreaking spinal cord surgery

Spinal cord injuries remain one of the most challenging medical problems to treat. But new groundbreaking surgery has been carried out, right here in China, giving hope that paralyzed people may one day walk again.

The regenerative stem cell treatment follows more than 10 years of research by Chinese scientists. I’ve been finding out how the procedure went and what it could mean for the advancement of spinal cord surgery worldwide.

Four hours of surgery in China’s northern city of Tianjin. This man was paralyzed in his lower body after he was involved in a traffic accident two months ago.

Implanting stem cells into his spinal column

The doctors treating him have implanted stem cells into his spinal column, using regenerative nerve material developed at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It’s the first time regenerative spinal cord surgery has been attempted, anywhere in the world.

“A scar was formed in the first surgery to occupy the entire damaged part of the spine. We then cut it out, about 2.8 centimeters in size, and replaced it with a tube containing stem cells,” said Tang Fengwu, China Police Neurological Hospital.

Major spinal injuries nearly always lead to paralysis below the level of the injury. Doctors and scientists around the world have for years been trying to find new ways to treat the problem.

Experiments began ten years ago

The Institute of Genetics and Development at the Chinese Academy of Sciences began experiments with animals ten years ago.

They started with mice, and then progressed to bigger animals, like dogs. The experiments were successful, giving scientists more confidence to attempt the procedure on humans.

“Spinal nerves are like a cable. So we’ve designed collagenous fibers, like a bridge or a rail, that nerves can crawl along as they grow. Stem cells can produce regenerative tissue elements, so they improve the regeneration capacity of the wounded area,” said Dai Jianwu, research fellow at Inst. of Genetics & Dev’t, CAS.

The four-hour surgery went smoothly

Doctors say the four-hour surgery went smoothly on Friday. Now, the patient’s family can only wait and hope.

“We have a large family to raise. I hope he can feel his legs again as soon as possible. I’ll be very happy if he can stand up one day, even if he can only walk one tenth the distance we do,” said a patient’s wife.

Another 6 spinal cord injury patients are now set to take the groundbreaking surgery. New hope for six more families and perhaps a huge breakthrough for spinal cord injuries, across the world.

Source: Chinese doctors carry out groundbreaking surgery CCTV

African Nations Cup kicks off today in Equatorial Guinea

african nations cup the cupCAF Africa Cup of Nations hosts Equatorial Guinea will be pressed to get off to a winning start when they face Congo in the tournament’s opening game in Group A. The curtain-raiser to the competition in the country’s largest city Bata will be followed later in the day by a meeting of the group’s other two sides, Burkina Faso and Gabon, who clash again after doing battle in qualifying.

Equatorial Guinea rescued this year’s tournament by agreeing to act as hosts after the late withdrawal of Morocco due to Ebola fears, and their fans will now expect Nzalang Nacional to match the exploits of three years ago, when they beat all the odds to reach the last eight of the same competition on home soil.

equatoriall guinea 2015 football teamNevertheless, they were initially disqualified from the competition for fielding an ineligible player, and their build-up has been somewhat chaotic, with Argentine Esteban Becker only named as the country’s new coach last week in place of Andoni Goikoetxea, whose contract expired recently and was not renewed.

“We want to surprise a few people. We will take things one game at a time and try to do well for the people of the country who are all behind us,” Becker said in an interview with Spanish Radio Marca. “We have a new, young squad of players who play in the lower leagues in Spain. I called up hungry young players and I hope they do well.”

Survivors from the 2012 campaign include Javier Balboa, Sipo and Juvenal Edjogo, and they will again be expected to inspire the oil-rich country far beyond most expectations.

Meanwhile, Les Diables Rouges (photo below)have returned to the top table of African football in style after a long absence from a tournament they won in 1972, being their first appearance for 41 years. They upstaged defending champions Nigeria to reach Equatorial Guinea 2015 and with the class and goals of Spain-based forward Thievy Bifouma and the towering Fode Dore, they will not be a team to be taken lightly.

Football - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations - Qualified Teams - South AfricaLater, Burkina Faso (photo below) square up against Gabon after both teams first clashed in qualifying last year. In October, Gabon beat Burkina Faso 2-0 in Libreville courtesy of a brace by skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, before they forced the West Africans to a 1-1 draw in Ouagadougou four days later.

Burkina Faso football teamBelgian coach Paul Put, who guided Burkina Faso on an historic run to the Nations Cup final in 2013 in South Africa, is still in charge of Les Étalons.  Jonathan Pitriopa, who was named the best player of the 2013 competition, will be complemented upfront by the unmistakable Aristide Bance as well as the Traore brothers, Alain and Bertrand. They remain solid at the back with Lyon’s Bakary Kone, who has won over 40 caps for his country, a pillar of power in the heart of the defence.

gabon football team

african nations cup 2015 groups


17 January 2015 – Equatorial Guinea v Congo | Burkina Faso v Gabon (Bata)
21 January 2015 – Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso | Gabon v Congo, (Bata)
25 January 2015 – Gabon v Equatorial Guinea (Bata) | Congo v Burkina Faso (Ebebiyin)

Equatorial Guinea set to get tournament rolling  FIFA.com

AFCON 2015 TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE – GROUP A  halftimeng.com



MLK: The Madness of US Militarism – “On the Side of the Wealthy, Creating a Hell for the Poor”

by Dr. Martin Luther King

Pondering the Madness of Vietnam

Americans are Strange Liberators

mlk 6“They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 — after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China — for whom the Vietnamese have no great love — but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

“For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. Continue reading

US Agriculture Groups Unite to End Cuban Embargo

usaccProminent U.S. food and agriculture associations and companies announced the formation of a coalition that seeks to advance trade relations between the United States and Cuba by ending the embargo policy. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) is supported by more than 30 agricultural organizations and companies committed to and united around the opportunity presented by a deeper U.S.-Cuba relationship.

Creating a new customer base for America’s farmers and ranchers

Tom Vilsack 1“The historic policy changes announced by the President will take steps to make American farm and products more price competitive, which will expand choices for Cuban shoppers at the grocery store and create a new customer base for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (Photo). “The President and this Administration look forward to engaging in an honest and serious debate about next steps in Cuba, and I have no doubt that the USACC will have an important role to play as these conversations continue and we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.”

The coalition will work to end the embargo

Devry Boughner VorwerkThe purpose of the USACC is to expand Cuba as a market for U.S. food and agriculture exports and address liberalizing trade between the United States and Cuba. The coalition will work to end the embargo and allow for open trade and investment.
“Changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba can support economic growth and well-being in both countries,” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk (photo), Cargill Vice President and Chair of the USACC. “Improvements in Cuba market access allows for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to serve a nearby market and the Cuban people gain improved access to healthy and affordable food and feed.”

Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are able to win market share from the U.S. agriculture and food industry

Under current sanctions, U.S. food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba. However, financing and trade restrictions limit the ability of the U.S. industry to competitively serve the market. Increasingly, foreign competitors such as Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are able to win market share from the U.S. agriculture and food industry because those countries do not face the same restrictions on financing.

The USACC seeks to establish a more collaborative relationship with Cuban agricultural producers and support the import of food, beverages and other agricultural products
produced in Cuba. Two-way trade is a critical step in advancing an efficient and globally competitive trade relationship.

Cuba is a logical market  with 11 million consuming citizens

Cuba is a logical market for U.S. food and agriculture exports with 11 million consuming citizens only 90 miles off the coast of the United States. Normalizing trade relations between the United States and Cuba will enhance Cuban citizens’ access to affordable food while providing the U.S. farm and business community with new market access opportunities. Liberalized trade will drive growth in both countries and allow the U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to efficiently address Cuban citizens’ food security needs.

USACC Members:

  • American Farm Bureau Federation,
  • American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association,
  • Chicago Foods International,
  • Illinois Cuba Working Group, Illinois Soybean Growers,
  • Illinois Farm Bureau, International Dairy Foods Association,
  • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture,
  • National Association of Wheat Growers,
  • National Barley Growers Association,
  • National Chicken Council,
  • National Corn Growers Association,
  • National Council of Farmer Cooperatives,
  • National Farmers Union,
  • National Grain and Feed Association,
  • National Milk Producers Federation,
  • National Oilseed Processors Association,
  • National Sorghum Producers,
  • National Turkey Federation,
  • North American Export Grain Association,
  • North American Meat Institute,
  • Smithfield Foods,
  • Soyfoods Association of North America,
  • US Canola Association,
  • US Dairy Export Council, US Dry Bean Council,
  • US Soybean Export Council,
  • US Wheat Associates,
  • USA Rice Federation,


Paul Johnson, USACC Vice Chair

For more information about the coalition, visit http://www.usagcoalitionforcuba.org.

Source: Agriculture Groups Unite to End Cuban Embargo National Chicken Council

Morales Government Generates Massive Jobs Growth in Bolivia

Since being elected Bolivian President, Evo Morales has implemented policies to create employment throughout the country.

Half a million jobs in both private and public sectors since 2006

Bolivian Minister of Labor Daniel Santalla announced Wednesday that Bolivia has generated a half a million jobs in both the private and public sector since 2006.

Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during a news conference in La Paz“There was major increase in employment throughout the country since 2006, according to the data we have, in both the public and private sector have created more the 500,000 jobs in the country,” he stated.

Santalla went on attribute the increased employment levels to the policies carried out under Evo Morales’ administration, which have aimed to expand employment opportunities, especially economically marginalized communities.

However, the Minister also noted that the creation of jobs must also include the generation of “decent and dignified” forms of labor in which workers should receive benefits from social security.

Improved labor legislation

Since 2005, the Bolivian government has made considerable progress in terms of improving labor legislation, including:

• Prohibiting unlawful firings;
• Legalizing strikes;
• No longer allows employers to fire women with children less than a year old;
• Allows women to have paid day to go the gynaecologist; and
• Providing three months of paid benefits after a worker is fired or resigns.

Most importantly, from 2005-2013 Bolivia has achieved an increase in real minimum wage of 104 percent, higher than any other Latin American country according to International Labor Organization.

Source:  Morales Government Generates Massive Jobs Growth in BoliviaTeleSUR

Cuba: Workers to discuss national economic plans

In a January 14 press conference, CTC General Secretary Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, also a member of the Party Central Committee and the Council of State, emphasized that the convocation is meant to promote political discussion, and mobilize workers to ensure that economic plans are well formulated and executed.

cuban workers to discuss economic model

4% national economic growth required active participation of workers

Guilarte said that the essential purpose of the process is to assure – in every collective, via the disaggregation of figures – a commitment on the part of every Cuban worker, to contribute in a direct manner to economic growth.

The union leader insisted that the projected 4% growth rate for 2015 will only be achieved with the active participation of workers, adding that reports from administrators must provide clear, accurate facts and figures to allow for this essential participation, and ensure that workers’ efforts are effective and well-compensated.

Source:  Workers to discuss economic plans  Granma