Thousands of Brazilians March to Defend Dilma and Democracy

Source:  TeleSUR
March 31 2016

thousands march in defence of dilma and democracy.png

Protests in Porto Algere against the procedure to impeach President Rousseff.  Photo @mandatofontana

The protests against the procedure to impeach President Dilma Rousseff’s coincided with the annual march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup.

Social movements, trade unions and student groups

Social movements, trade unions and student groups mobilized en mass across the country Thursday, to defend democracy and condemn the right-wing coup attempt against the president, who is currently facing threats of impeachment.

lula 1.jpgProtests took place in at least 56 cities of the country, including in Brasilia where former President Lula da Silva led over 100,000 people according to the organizers’ estimate.

The protests coincided with the national annual march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party.

International solidarity

Mobilizations also took place across the world, including in Paris (France), Munich (Germany), Coimbra (Portugal) and Barcelona (Spain).

brazil international solidarity with dilma.png

Berlin. @joaopaulo_pt

Coup plotters 

“We will not recognize an eventual interim government led by Michel Temer,” said President of Sao Paulo’s main trade union CUT, Douglas Izzo, commenting the mobilization. A “Temer exit” would be the result of an underhanded trick on the part of coup plotters.”


He added that a coalition government including the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party and the Democrats would be the “worst of the world” for the workers. It would have devastating effects on labor rights and social programs, he warned.

Obama – the best to use to disguise the strategic objectives of the U.S. toward Cuba, Latam and the Caribbean

Source:  Granma
March 30 2016

There is no doubt: Obama is the gentle and seductive face of the same danger. He made no apology for crimes against Cuba, he did not mention the Guantánamo Naval Base, he did not speak of the Cuban Adjustment Act, he did not explain why he hasn’t done more to dismantle the blockade, given the powers he possesses to do so, and there were many other incredible omissions.

Author: Dario Maachado |

LIKE many others, I followed the visit by Barack Obama to our country and experienced mixed feelings: on the one hand, the healthy patriotic and revolutionary pride of witnessing a U.S. president rectifying the policy toward Cuba and repeating on our own soil that the blockade must be ended, reaffirming respect for our sovereignty and independence, which we Cubans have earned with our sacrifice, our sweat, our blood, our history; and on the other hand, the danger posed by those who believe that with these lukewarm changes, the contradiction between the interests of U.S. imperialism and the Cuban nation has disappeared. But it was only after listening to his speech that Tuesday morning that I decided to write this, because, as Fidel warned over half a century ago, from now on everything will be more difficult.

Who could doubt the enormous complexity of U.S. society, where black and white analysis is of little value?

US – a country full of contradictions

A turbulent history in which battles for independence against British colonialism and genocidal onslaughts against the indigenous population intermingle; an impetuous industrial development and a cruel internecine war that killed more than 600,000 human beings; paradigmatic creativity and inventiveness in science and technology and a warmongering and expansionist military apparatus of which Mexico and Cuba – to take just two examples from our region – have been nearby victims; a society with extraordinary cultural expressions in music, literature and film along with a messianism that does not honor those assets; industrious and enterprising citizens over whom, however, an imperialist state machinery rests heavy; the richest and the most indebted country in the world; the country that demands human rights of others and least respects them itself, as evidenced by over half a century of economic blockade against Cuba; a society in which violence serves as the guiding principle throughout its history.

In short, a country full of contractions in which it would be naive to think that the current rapprochement with Cuba is simply the result of the thinking, will and resourcefulness of Obama, and not an integral part of the interests of the real power in the U.S. – that of big business.

obama 7.jpg

If Barack Hussein Obama had proven impractical to the powers that govern the U.S., it would have been very difficult for him to have been elected president in 2008.

If Obama did not serve the interests of the powers that govern the US,…

If Barack Hussein Obama had proven impractical to the powers that govern the U.S., it would have been very difficult for him to have been elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, and the change of policy toward Cuba would not have initiated.

This is the same Obama who just two months after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan; the same who has authorized hundreds of drone attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in several countries across the world; the same who participated in the plot that destroyed Libya; he who has armed the so-called Syrian opposition strengthening the self-named Islamic State; he who approved the supply of arms to Kiev after the coup; the President behind the “Arab spring” of fatal consequences in that area of the world. This is the same Obama, as the poet would say, who could do nothing to surprise you.

Obama – the best and most capable at hand today to disguise the strategic objectives of U.S. imperialism toward Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In effect, there are two Obamas, a “good” one and a “bad” one. We’re not talking about a bipolar personality, but a single person, a career politician, who beyond his personal characteristics and history, his way of doing domestic politics, and even his individual inclinations, and his likely aim of leaving a legacy as the U.S. President who changed policy toward Cuba, he has always been and continues to be functional to the strategic interests of the powers that govern the U.S.

It must be recognized that he is a politician with charisma, stage presence, a sense of media opportunity, communication skills – probably the best and most capable at hand today to disguise the strategic objectives of U.S. imperialism toward Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Empty words

During this visit to our country, President Obama did not miss any opportunity to call for an end to the blockade, which ultimately are the words of someone who will soon disappear from the U.S. government, phrases that he can state now, that he can claim responsibility for, as he does not aspire to, nor could he, run for another Presidential term. He can make this call as the formalities of the northern country’s political system allow him to present himself as someone with no responsibility whatsoever for the blockade, as someone opposed to the blockade, as the advocate of a new policy, when for almost all of his term he endorsed the blockade with his inertia.

But back to his deficient speech. Since a thorough analysis cannot be undertaken in a short article[1], I will only highlight some aspects that stand out at first glance while, as expressed by various analysts, much more is revealed by what he didn’t say, than the little he did, no matter how choice his words. This is the same Obama who could do much more given his Presidential powers and yet has not.

Obama – the gentle and seductive face of the same danger historically faced by Cuba

This is precisely the point, to read between the lines of his statements, which is important especially for young people whose lived experiences of this northern neighbor do not include criminal sabotage, Playa Girón, the October crisis, counterrevolutionary groups, attacks against our leaders, biological aggression, and so on, and for whom the effects of the blockade have been mitigated by the protection offered by society and their families.

There is no doubt: Obama is the gentle and seductive face of the same danger. He made no apology for crimes against Cuba, he did not mention the Guantánamo Naval Base, he did not speak of the Cuban Adjustment Act, he did not explain why he hasn’t done more to dismantle the blockade, given the powers he possesses to do so, and there were many other incredible omissions.

Looking for a way to further US’ strategic interests

Meanwhile, it was clear that he does not want to cooperate with Cuba, but rather with that part of our society which offers the best conditions for the strategic interests he represents. He hoped to seduce youth, encourage selfishness and the thirst for purely individual improvement, presenting capitalist growth as a universal panacea and not the cause of the crises, or the danger of the destruction of the environment and the disappearance of the human species. He hoped to contribute to the fragmentation of Cuban society in order to recover U.S. hegemony here and in our region. In his speech the conceited tone of someone who “grants us the right” – that no one need grant us – “to solve our own problems” was evident. We must now explain and demonstrate this.

A victory for the Cuba people 

Obama’s visit is a victory of the Cuban people and all peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, as it demonstrates that the United States of America has been forced to recognize that it was thwarted by our dignity, and has now chosen to concoct a detour. As such, we should recall the words of Julius Fučík at the end of its historical Report from the gallows and “be vigilant”.

Obama concluded his visit to Cuba. He was – along with his beautiful family for whom Cubans have a natural affection – welcomed, treated and bid farewell politely by a people and authorities who are proud of their hospitality, respect and willingness to dialogue without impositions, but whose majorities are well aware of the land on which they stand, and are bursting with the sovereign spirit of Martí and Fidel, that spirit which was evident as the entire Latinoamericano Stadium chanted: “Raúl, Raúl, Raúl…”

[1] In a book due to be published by the Editorial de La Mujer de La Habana, I dedicate an entire chapter to analysis of Obama’s speech at the White House on December 17, 2014, aspects of which I take up again here.

US State Dept. project looks suspiciously like an infiltration plan

Sources:  Cubadebate,  progresoweekly,  Along the Malecon
March 26 2016

Within less than a week of what Fidel has described as Obama’s “most sweetened words” it is already clear that one should take what the US President said with a grain of salt as the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) has just announced a Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support the Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth the aims of which clearly contradict the President’s words.

This program, which targets “(Cuban) residents who demonstrate an interest in independent organizations”, will be funded to the tune of $753,989 to train 25-30 Cubans between 20 and 35 years of age “to advance social justice causes” and “to foster a new generation of civil leaders.”

Cuban youth to travel to USA for training to build NGOs in Cuba

The Cuban participants will travel to the United States in two to three cohorts over three years and “participants will learn to function professionally and effectively in leading and managing a civil society movement at the grassroots level.”

The U.S. nonprofit organization or U.S. educational institution which receives this grant will “support the participation of young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society in a two- to four-month professional development program. The program will include specialized training and an internship with a nonprofit organization in the United States, which will fuel the participants’ development of action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba.”

According to the announcement “assistance to Cuba is governed by a complex series of statutory and other restrictions. The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (also referred to as “Helms-Burton Act”, P.L. 104-114) provides notwithstanding authority to furnish assistance and provide other support for individuals and independent NGOs to support democracy-building efforts for Cuba.”

Obama’s words

obama in cuba 2.jpgIn his speech at the Gran Teatro de La Habana, aimed at Cuban civil society, President Barack Obama said:

“The United States has neither the capacity nor the intention to impose changes in Cuba, the changes depend on the Cuban people. We will not impose our political and economic system, because we know that every country, every nation must forge their own destiny “

He also said:

“There is already an evolution that is taking place here in Cuba, a generational change. Many suggested that I came here and I had to ask the people to destroy something, but I’m not appealing to young people of Cuba who have to build something new, to rise. The future of Cuba must be in the hands of the Cuban people! “

The full text of the State Department’s announcement can be found here.


Brother Obama

Source:  Granma
March 28 2016

We don’t need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because our commitment is to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

by: Fidel Castro Ruz |

fidel to be honoured by honduran congress.jpgThe kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.

Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.

The knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us

Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add – principally for the youth – that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.

The glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo

Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.

Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary…” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.

Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.

Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:

“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”

The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind

The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barrack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution – that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.

In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries

As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.

The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.

Obama’s behavior

Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and – surprise! – the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.

Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.

I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.

There is an important issue:

Obama: time now to forget the past

Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”

I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in mid-air, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?

Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.

I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

Fidel Castro Ruz

March 27, 2016

10:25 p.m.


Fight For $15 To Join Chicago Teachers Union’s April 1 Strike

Source:  Popular Resistance

By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz,
March 26th, 2016

fight for fifteen join teachers strike.png

Above Photo: Brenda Harris, in hat, gets a hug from Maria Alfaro, a Fight for $15 protest organizer, on March 8, 2016, outside the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Harris has worked at a McDonald’s on the South Side for years. Protesters called for a $15 minimum wage and advocated for other causes. (Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune)


Teachers won’t be the only ones walking off the job April 1.

chicago teachers march 1

Fast-food workers organized by the Fight for $15 group plan to join the Chicago Teachers Union‘s one-day strike, connecting their push for higher wages with school funding.

fight for 15 3.jpgIt will be the first time fast-food workers strike at the same time as the teachers, though the organizing groups, part of a coalition of labor and community organizations in the city, have stood together in protests and rallies before.

Fight for $15 organizers said planning was still in the works and it wasn’t clear how many workers or restaurants would be involved. The campaign has held 10 strikes in Chicago since it launched in 2012.

Taxpayer money better spent on schools

The campaign is demanding a $15 wage and union rights, which it says are part of ending workers’ reliance on food stamps and other public assistance programs that use taxpayer money better spent on schools.

The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the fast-food industry in the U.S. is nearly $7 billion a year, including $368 million in Illinois, according to a study last year from the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Urban & Regional Planning. The fast-food industry has disputed the findings of the study, which was funded by worker advocacy group Fast Food Forward.

Bob Bruno, a professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, said joining forces with the teachers “is a natural fit” and good strategy for the fast-food workers’ campaign, as creating a broad coalition is how progressive change comes about.

“It’s about recognizing and responding in a united way to a false narrative that Illinois and Chicago have to solve their financial problems on the backs of public sector workers, unions, low-wage workers and the poor,” Bruno said.

Related Posts:

St. Vincent: We will always remember Venezuela’s friendship

Source:  Caribbean News Now

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By Reggie (Vinciman) Wright, in a letter to the editor, March 26 2016

Speaking about Venezuela, a recent poll conducted by one of Venezuela’s leading Pollster group Hinterlaces shows that around “79% of Venezuelans prefer a socialist productive economic model, while 52% believe that their economic situation will be better in 2016, and 9 out of 10 Venezuelans …prefers the government to be the one to lead the country’s economy”

Moreover, another 57% says the opposition has not made any proposals to solve the country’s economic problems despite its recent victory in the December 6 parliamentary elections, and 31% of Venezuelans sympathize more with the PSUV and other supporting “patriotic” parties, compared to a paltry 27% that has more sympathy for the opposition parties. The Hinterlaces poll has a 95% level of accuracy and a 2.7% margin of error.

Read more here: Speaking about Venezuela: In SVG, we know who our friends are

Cuban youth writes President Obama

Source:  Cuba Inside the World

March 22nd, 2016
Havana, Cuba.

Mr. President,

Almost some hours ago, I had the opportunity to listen to all your speech through our national television channels, and I should recognize, that precisely your words motivated this letter that now, right after I have reflected on what you have said, I decided to write you.

obama in cuba 2.jpgI speak to you from the respect that a young Cuban feels for a man who has been able to change the history of his country, regarding its foreign policy toward Cuba, which will be an indelible merit during all his life, and the best is that it will be a multilaterally attained merit.

It pleases me very much that this new stage is openings itself in our countries, when in Cuba we still have the historic leadership of the Revolution, because you should know, that if it were not so, this process would be much more complicated for United States, because Cubans would still be more distrustful.

I would like to make reference to some aspects of the speech that you pronounced a few moments ago in the great theatre of Havana’s “Alicia Alonso”.

Respect for opponents – a natural characteristic of the Cuban people

The people of Cuba have always noted the difference relative to the rest of the world in the treatment of its enemies. The fragment of the poem of Jose Marti that you mentioned is proof of it, as well as the conduct maintained by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, our Army General Raul Castro Ruz, the heroic guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara and the immortal lord of the vanguard Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriaran – these leaders offered medical attention and respected, morally and physically, the life of the officers and men of the army of the dictator Fulgencio Batista during the war that led to the revolutionary triumph.  Therefore, the respect to its opposites is not a new conduct in Cuba, but a natural characteristic of our people.

I now expect US funding of internal subversion will stop

I see with approval that you express today in my country, right after more of half century of unbending contradicctions, that the governance of Cuba is a matter of Cuba and that the United States has nothing to do with regard to this matter and I expect that those were not only words and that the funds of your congress, aimed at the internal subversion in the island, stop being approved, that N.E.D and USAID, stop promoting programs against the independence and self-determination of Cuba, and they really allow the will of the Cuban people to impose the changes that we need and in which we also are already working on.

More black men in the US are murdered than those in high political office

Your personal history, your emigrant father, your mother of few resources and your present day position, is unquestionably an example of your personal sacrifice, of your will to come through but, sadly, it is not the history of most men that like you have grown up in United States. I personally know many black men murdered in the U.S. than those concentrated in a triumphant way in the politics of your country.

Cuba is a nation of similar opportunities, without social exclusion, and as well you have pointed out, it allows and promotes a similar education for boys and girls, no matter the color of their skin, or the religion and ideology of their parents. Therefore our children can forge a future with the same possibilities and their individual effort will be also determining in the consecution of their objectives.

The difference is that community and society promote these conducts just in the some way and they back the state policies with regard to this matter.

The end of the cold war and the hostility towards Venezuela

You mentioned the end of cold-war, but I am worried that the existence of socialist or progressive nations in Latin America becomes a new block of contradictions.

The case of Venezuela is one of the issue that exemplifies what I am mentioning and feel that the U.S. could commit the mistake of burying methods, and it would be unlucky for our peoples.

I want to tell you from my youth, that I regard my land as a country of democracy, a country where workers have not only voice and vote, but they also represent the majority and the policies of the Revolution are focused on them, because the workers, peasants, and we, the youngsters, are the main objective of the Cuban politics, of the social, economic and cultural development, and I also live very confident and completely proud of this.

The leaders of Latin America have changed

You mentioned that our potentialities are in our capacity of creation and I agree with you, and you also mentioned our capacity of inducing to the world, and there, I would like to make a brief comment. Cuba not only induces to the world, but It has also been able to mobilize it since 1959, and it is that mobilization precisely which has made you change your foreign policy toward our country, because nations have allied themselves to Cuba. The leaders of Latin American have changed and the U.S. was little by little being left alone.

Marti:  The grateful ones talk about the light not the stains of the Sun

We know that our society is imperfect, that we should work on aspects that you have pointed and in many others that you could not image, precisely because we are a perfectible society, but we have things, Mr. President, that shine over our imperfections, and as also Jose Marti said “The sun burns with the same light with which it heats up. The sun has stains. The ungrateful ones only talk about its stains. The grateful ones talk about its light”.

Cuba cannot forget the past

You make continuous references to the need to abandon the past. Cuba cannot forget the past, because the past is not ballast, it is a reminiscence, it is an impulse and it is our essence. Cuba can by virtue of the future, sit on my table to talk about any issue, but interlocutors should be good men, even when they are from different ideologies, they cannot be persons without decorum, without honour and without homeland pride. Cubans, precisely due to history, do not talk with mercenaries or stateless who turn their back on their people by virtue of self-interest. Individuality is respected in my homeland, but as I learned from childhood the collective interest are above self-interest.

Cuba neither had nor has any fear

I would like to come to an end, thanking you for your visit one more time, your honesty and the charm shown to our people, but It would be false on my part if I don’t include in these words, my appraisal of a sentence of your addressed to the Army General when you said “you need not to be afraid of U.S. threat”. Mr. President Barack Obama, Cuba neither had nor has any fear, the Revolution has confronted the aggressions from your country during centuries without cowardice, today we face peaceful coexistence with respect and diplomacy but the future does not frighten us, we are not afraid of the United States, any way this continues to be a people of “Homeland or Death”

Receive a cordial greeting from this young Cuban.

Julio Alejandro Gomez Pereda.

US media: How to manufacture political prisoners in Cuba

Obama in Cuba: How ‘Political Prisoners’ Made Media Headlines

Source:  TeleSUR
26 March 2016
By: Arnold August

raul y obama in cuba.jpg

Conveniently for Obama, the CNN Senior White House Correspondent raised the question of political prisoners for him.

In the course of President Obama’s visit to Cuba on March 20–22, 2016, the issue of supposed Cuban “political prisoners” took center stage in Cuba–U.S. relations for at least 24 hours in much of the international mainstream media. The sets of international foreign television outlets were situated on a floor of the emblematic Lonja del Comercio (the fully renovated former Stock Exchange in pre-revolutionary Cuba) overlooking Old Havana. A cacophony of phrases from the reporters about political prisoners emanated from the sets. It seemed that “Obama in Cuba” had become equated with “political prisoners.” The only exception appeared to be TeleSUR, based in Caracas, Venezuela.

How did this come about? In the joint press conference offered by Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama on March 21, Obama stated in reference to the discussions with the Cuban government:

“… as we do wherever we go around the world, I made it clear that the United States will continue to speak up on behalf of democracy, including the right of the Cuban people to decide their own future. We’ll speak out on behalf of universal human rights, including freedom of speech, and assembly, and religion.”

Labeling countries based on their affinity to US foreign policy

The tone of the U.S. President’s remarks, couched in a very diplomatic speech, was not overtly hostile and did not contain accusations as such against the Cuban government. There was no mention of political prisoners. One can say, as indeed Obama himself stated, that this is the basic narrative of the U.S. when dealing with some countries. However, the haughty White House-lecture to Cuba on democracy and human rights, as many Cuban colleagues justifiably consider it to be, are based on the exclusive notions held by the U.S. of democracy and human rights. They are often directed to some Third World countries on a very arbitrary basis with varying emphasis and priority depending on the affinity of these countries to U.S. foreign policy.

The Obama – Acosta connection

After the presentations by the two heads of state in the joint press conference, the floor was opened to questions from the large number of international and Cuban journalists. Obama immediately recognized the source of the first query: Jim Acosta, the Senior White House Correspondent for CNN. As Acosta indicated in his introduction to his question directed to Raúl Castro, he is a Cuban-American whose parents left Cuba. Such a prelude may serve as credentials, in the eyes of a reporter, to ask any question. This would allow for the ensuing interrogation to be carried out despite the reporter’s virtually non-existent knowledge about Cuba, which has been circumscribed by his deeply ingrained preconceived U.S. views of Cuba.

The US media – an instrument of state propaganda 

Obama completed his remarks in this way, according to the official White House transcript:

“Muchas gracias. Thank you very much.

First question, Jim Acosta.”

Acosta addressed his first question to Barack Obama, and then asked Raúl Castro:

“And, President Castro, my father is Cuban. He left for the United States when he was young. Do you see a new and democratic direction for your country? And why [do] you have Cuban political prisoners? And why don’t you release them?”

Silenced by Raul

Response by President Castro:

“Give me the list of political prisoners and I will release them immediately. Just mention a list. What political prisoners? Give me a name or names. After this meeting is over, you can give me a list of political prisoners. And if we have those political prisoners, they will be released before tonight ends.”

This question and response then immediately travelled virtually around the globe as headline news, but centered mainly on the U.S. as the protagonist of Cuba. The airwaves were jammed with this controversy. The issue of political prisoners completely dominated international conglomerate news on Cuba for at least 24 hours.

Obama very satisfied with the propaganda

Obama did not have to mention political prisoners, which would have been considered by both the White House and the Cuban government a breach of protocol and diplomatic behind-closed- doors negotiations and exchanges – which is a positive feature of the new Cuba–U.S. relations. Conveniently for the president, the CNN Senior White House Correspondent raised the question for him. However, by Obama’s body language and the look on his face, he seemed to be very satisfied with the question.

Does this mean that it took place as a result of collaboration between the White House and Acosta? Obama and Acosta know each other very well. The CNN correspondent’s role not only brings him regularly to the White House, but has also called for him to travel with the President on many occasions around the globe. Despite this intimate relationship, however, there is no need for them to carry out any conspiratorial agreement.

Manufacturing consent

Noam Chomsky analyzed this dynamic many years ago in his groundbreaking book “Manufacturing Consent”, based mainly on the study of the U.S. media. He pointed out that mainstream monopoly media are guided by:

“…the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors’ and working journalists’ internalization of priorities and definitions of news-worthiness that conform to the institution’s policy.”

US journalists’ need to keep their jobs and rise up the corporate ladder

These journalists know exactly what to ask in press conferences, what to write and what to broadcast in order to not only maintain their jobs as correspondents, but also to climb the ladder toward ever more lucrative income and prestigious positions. For example, had Acosta asked the U.S. President – in the multitude of news conferences at the White House touching on a wide variety of issues – about the hundreds of political prisoners in the US, would he have even been around to travel to Havana with the President? If Acosta had had this gumption and interest in human rights as practised in the U.S., he would not even have been “selected” – in Chomsky’s words – in the first place.

In an earlier article, I wrote about Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Cuba on August 14, 2015 to officially hoist the US flag in front of the reopened U..S Embassy as part of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba. One of CNN’s most prestigious anchors, Jake Tapper, was sent to Cuba to cover the event. The article exposes how virtually all the television reports consisted of little more than a litany of buzzwords about Cuba being a “dictatorship” and the “Castro brothers’ tyranny.” This was, of course, amplified and repeated by other anchors in the U.S.-based CNN headquarters in their treatment of this event.

There are exceptions

In all fairness, however, one has to admit that not all CNN reporters deal with Cuba with such flagrant media disinformation that borders on hysteria. For example, Chris Cuomo, a high-ranking CNN anchor, is the brother of the current Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo recently visited Cuba as the head of a high-ranking political and business delegation. He thus has good and respectful relations with the Cuban government. When CNN’s Chris Cuomo covered Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba in February 2016, the rants by his CNN colleagues against the Cuba government and “the Castros” were not at all present. Cuomo was also part of the large delegation of CNN reporters covering the Obama visit. We can perhaps examine his reporting on another occasion. However, suffice it to write for the moment that he wore a traditional Cuban guayabera shirt, given to his father by Fidel Castro.

The White House has a trusted correspondent at CNN

As for Acosta’s role in Havana in March 2016 and other similar situations that unfortunately seem to be a main feature of CNN, what can one conclude? Primarily the relationship between CNN and the White House can be thought of as not that CNN has a senior correspondent in the White House, but rather that the White House has a trusted correspondent at CNN. This is a very strange situation for a country that lectures others about the need for “independent press and journalists.”

Raul still waiting

With regard to political prisoners, it seems that no journalist – to the knowledge of this writer – has yet taken up Raúl Castro’s challenge to furnish facts to back up Acosta’s accusations. Given that the media war being waged by the U.S. against the Cuban people is an ongoing news story, we can expect there will be more to say on the matter.

♦ Originally published in The Citizen, India.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are, on the one hand, the US and, on the other hand, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

The United States’ Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

Source: Truth-out
March 24 2016

by Harvey Wasserman for BuzzFlash at Truthout

Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons.

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But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

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To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.

Somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating

But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating. Consider:

The US right now has the world’s largest prison population by far

  • The US right now has the world’s largest prison population by far. There are 2.2 million citizens in prison here for offenses that include smoking pot and failing to pay off certain debts. At its peak, there were 2.5 million in Stalin’s Soviet Gulag.
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Source:  “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States:  Exploring Causes and Consequences” The National Research Council 2014

  • The US prison population is hugely over-filled with African-Americans and Hispanics.
  • The racial bias of the prison population is directly related to a deliberate Jim Crow strategy of disenfranchisement aimed at keeping people of color from voting.
  • There are more citizens in US prisons than there are prisoners in China, another authoritarian country. China’s population is 4 to 5 times as large as that of the US. They do not have an alleged Bill of Rights.
  • The American prison population currently represents almost a quarter of the entire population of Cuba.

Human rights offenses are common in US prisons

  • Rape, torture, extended solitary confinement, and other human rights offenses are common in US prisons. In many cases, decent medical care is notably lacking, resulting in avoidable illness and death.
  • More than 500,000 Americans are in prison for victimless crimes relating to substances they have chosen to put in their own bodies rather than harm done anyone else.
  • On the actual island of Cuba, the US holds a reserve at Guantanamo that the Cuban people want returned to them. In the interim, prisoners are held there in denial of all human rights, often without trial, in some cases being subjected to what can only be termed torture. Some have been held for years after their release has been authorized. Guantanamo is maintained on Cuban soil precisely so those held there can be denied their human rights.

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  • The United States still has the death penalty, which has been repeatedly used to execute human beings who later prove innocent. One former president of the United States, George W. Bush, personally authorized 152 executions while governor of Texas.

Leonard Peltier


  • Access to due process in the United States is significantly restricted by race and class.
  • Leonard-PeltierAmong them is Leonard Peltier, a native American wrongly convicted of murder four decades ago. Peltier has repeatedly petitioned for a new trial and been turned down by presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and now Obama, even though the evidence overwhelmingly indicates he is innocent of the two murders for which he was convicted in the mid 1970s. Peltier is now suffering from advanced diabetes. He’s being held under extremely harsh conditions in clear violation of a wide range of laws allegedly protecting the basic human rights guaranteed all prisoners by the US criminal justice code and by international law. Peltier has grandchildren and great grandchildren he has never seen. If he were being held under the same circumstances in Cuba, the US would be screaming for his release.

Bill Clinton chose to pardon multi-millionaire Marc Rich but left Peltier in prison

  • In 2001, as he was leaving office, Bill Clinton chose to pardon multi-millionaire Marc Rich, with immense direct and indirect benefits later coming to the Clintons and their various interests. Though Clinton was thoroughly and repeatedly briefed about Leonard Peltier, he chose to leave Peltier in prison, to not grant him a new trial, and to do nothing to mitigate the illegal conditions under which he’s being held.

In US, $1 trillion or more spent on mass incarceration

  • Since Richard Nixon’s declaration of the Drug War in 1971, various branches of the US police system have arrested more than 41 million American citizens, almost four times as many people as now live in Cuba. The arrests have been heavily weighted against people of color and low income. With the $1 trillion or more spent on this mass incarceration, all those arrested could have been sent to college.
  • In recent years the incentive to incarcerate American citizens (guilty or otherwise) has been vastly accelerated by the establishment of private prisons, whose profits are based on the number of people they can lock up. Americans charged with crimes are now viewed as “cash flow” by this for-profit prison system, which has every incentive to keep them incarcerated as long as possible, no matter how their alleged crime or violated human rights might stack up.

No banker or financier has gone to prison

  • Though they recently crashed the entire US economy with a stunning array of criminal activities, no banker or financier who helped devastate the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide has gone to prison.
  • American police forces routinely maim and kill innocent citizens based largely on race and class, with little or no legal recourse.
  • In the name of fighting terrorism and the Drug War, US police forces now regularly confiscate cash and other property from innocent citizens without due process or reasonable legal recourse. The funds are often used for the personal benefit of the officers involved.
  • A nationwide program of electronic spying on private citizens has been in place in the US for many years, leaving the Fourth Amendment right to privacy in shambles.

There is, of course, much more. But at very least we hope that President Obama will admit to some or all of the above amidst his cringe-worthy lectures to the Cubans on the sacred nature of human right.

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Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of Us History can be had via The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at

Landslide Wins for Sanders in Washington & Alaska

Sources:  TeleSUR
March 26 2016

“We’ve been told for a long time that young people were apathetic, well this is not what we are seeing, we are seeing that the young people want to make the U.S. a better country. They want an economy that works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors,”


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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Our campaign has the momentum

“I think it is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum,” Sanders said at a campaign rally after his victories.

Bernie Sanders has won Washington and Alaska in landslides, leading Hillary Clinton by more than 50 percentage points in both races. Sanders picks up 117 delegates from his wins. Results so far are even better than expected for Sanders.

At a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin today, Sanders stated, “We knew from day one that we were going to have a hard time in the conservative South, but we knew things were going to improve the more we went West.”

“We’ve been told for a long time that young people were apathetic, well this is not what we are seeing, we are seeing that the young people want to make the U.S. a better country. They want an economy that works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors,” he added.

Financed by the people

He went on to thank his supporters and commented, “We have over US$6 million in campaign contributions and our average contribution is US$27.”

Washington is by far the big win today, with 101 delegates and has long been viewed as a Sanders stronghold. In Seattle, a progressive city that elected a socialist to the city council in 2015, Sanders scored the endorsement of the Seattle Times in early March. This is the biggest newspaper to date to come out for Sanders.

Bernie Sanders will need to prove his strength this Saturday if he wants to stay in the presidential race against Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential primaries head out West, and according to experts and polls, he might very well pull it off.

OPINION: Can Support for Bernie Spur Social Change?

The Vermont senator has proven his success among young and progressive voters across the United States, this Saturday he is hoping to win in the Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state caucuses.

Although these are small states, a victory will mean a lot for Sanders in the race to get the Democratic nomination, there are 142 delegates at stake and after this weekend only New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and California have more delegates at play.

Sanders – the people’s first choice

Bloomberg Politics national poll found that Sanders is the first choice of 49 percent of those who have voted or plan to vote in this year’s Democratic contests, while the former secretary of state is preferred by 48 percent.

Sanders was defeated in Arizona Tuesday but also had a wide victory in Utah and Idaho, currently he’s surpassed by Clinton among the “pledged” delegates whose support is determined by the popular vote, so turning to superdelegates may be his ace in the hole.

A self-described socialist, Sanders has managed to amplify the voices of millions shafted by a rigged economy and lifted expectations, especially among youth.

Unlike his rival Clinton, he has shown an open opposition to neoliberal policies and has pushed the Democratic Party debate to the left, forcing Clinton to play catch-up and complicating plans for new free trade deals if she wins the presidency.

Sanders, 74, who is calling for a political revolution in the USA, has also long been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several grassroots artists have produced songs in support of Bernie’ campaign including ‘political revolution‘ by Jamaica’s Elad.