Honduras: Open Letter to the American People – Zelaya

Source:  socialistprojectca.ca

Date:  December 22 2017

by   José Manuel Zelaya Rosales

People of the United States:

For the past century, the owners of the fruit companies called our country “Banana Republic” and characterized our politicians as “cheaper than a mule” (as in the infamous Rolston letter).

Honduras, a dignified nation, has had the misfortune of having a ruling class lacking in ethical principles that kowtows to U.S. transnational corporations, condemning our country to backwardness and extreme poverty.

zelata dec 2017.jpgWe have been subject to horrible dictatorships that have enjoyed U.S. support, under the premise that an outlaw is good for us if he serves transnational interests well. We have reached the point that today we are treated as less than a colony to which the U.S. government does not even deign to appoint an ambassador. Your government has installed a dictatorship in the person of Mr. Hernández, who acts as a provincial governor–spineless and obedient toward transnational companies, but a tyrant who uses terror tactics to oppress his own people. Certain sectors of Honduran private industry have also suffered greatly from punitive taxes and persecution.

You, the people of the United States, have been sold the idea that your government defends democracy, transparency, freedom and human rights in Honduras. But the State Department and Heide Fulton, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires who is serving as de facto Ambassador to Honduras, are supporting blatant electoral fraud favoring Mr. Hernández, who has repeatedly violated the Honduran Constitution and (as noted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) basic human rights. He is responsible for the scandalous looting of USD $350 million from the Honduran Social Security Institute and while he lies to you shamelessly that he is fighting drug cartels, he has destroyed the rule of law by stacking the Supreme Court with justices loyal to him.

The people of the United States have the right to know that in Honduras your taxes are used to finance, train and run institutions that oppress the people, such as the armed forces and the police, both of which are well known to run death squads (like those that grew out of Plan Colombia) and which are also deeply integrated with drug cartels.

People of the United States: the immoral support of your government has been so two-faced that for eight consecutive years the U.S. Millenium Challenge Corporation has determined that the Hernandez regime does not qualify for aid because of the government’s corruption, failing in all measures of transparency. With this record, the Honduran people ask: Why is the U.S. Government willing to recognize as president a man who the Honduran people voted against, and who they wish to see leave office immediately?

People of the United States: We ask you to spread the word, to stand up to your government’s lies about supporting democracy, freedom, human rights and justice, and to demand that your elected representatives immediately end U.S. support for the scandalous electoral fraud against the people of Honduras, who have taken to the streets to demand recognition of the victory of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship and of President-Elect Salvador Alejandro César Nasralla Salúm.

We can tolerate difference and conflict, seeking peaceful solutions as a sovereign people, but your government’s intervention in favor of the dictatorship only exacerbates our differences.

The electoral fraud supported by the U.S. State Department in favor of the dictatorship has forced our people to protest massively throughout the country, despite savage government repression that has taken the lives of more than 34 young people since the election, and in which hundreds of protestors have been criminalized and imprisoned.

We stand in solidarity with the North American people; we share much more with you than the fact that the one percent has bought off the political leaders of both our nations.

As descendents of the Independence hero Morazán, we want to live in peace, with justice and in democracy.

The Honduran people want to have good relations with the United States, but with respect and reciprocity. •

Tegucigalpa, December 21, 2017

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Consitutionally Legitimate President of Honduras 2005-2010
Chief Coordinator, Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is the Consitutionally Legitimate President of Honduras (2005-2010), and Chief Coordinator of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship.

The Caribbean: The challenges of integration on the empire’s frontier

Source:  Granma
December 7 2017

by: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | internet@granma.cu

 

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Cuba sent as much humanitarian aid as it could to the islands most severely affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: Sergio Alejandro Gómez

Former President of Dominica Juan Bosch described the Caribbean as an “imperial frontier,” and point of conflict between the economic and political interests of global powers, a reality which hasn’t changed since the time of Christopher Columbus.

A long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles

Behind the façade of beautiful beaches and multi-colored neighborhoods which cover the front page of magazines all over the world, the region has a long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles.

It seems therefore that despite language and cultural differences, integration among the peoples of the Caribbean is the only possible way to wipe away the vast debts of its colonial past, which some countries, like the United States, are trying to reimpose today.

December 8 1972 – a turning point

December 8, marks the 45th anniversary of a gesture which transformed Cuba’s relationship with other Caribbean nations. On that date in 1972, the heads of state of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana, which had recently gained their independence, decided to establish diplomatic relations with the revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro.

The decision set off alarms in Washington, which was using all the political means at its disposal to isolate Cuba, whose economy was growing rapidly despite U.S. attempts to sabotage it.

“Probably, the leaders of these countries, also considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, – Errol Barrow from Barbados, Forbes Burnham from Guyana, Michael Manley from Jamaica, and Eric Williams from Trinidad and Tobago – realized that their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was paving the way for the future foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which to this day stands on three major pillars: independence, courage, and concerted action,” stated Fidel on the 30th anniversary of the seminal event.

Over 5000 Caribbean youth

One would be hard pressed to find a single corner of the Caribbean where Cuba has not left its mark. Tens of thousands of collaborators from different sectors, including healthcare, education, engineering, and construction, have helped to transform the reality of some of the region’s most impoverished communities, the ones that don’t appear on tourist posters.

Likewise, according to official sources, over 5,000 youth from the Caribbean have been trained in Cuba over recent decades, and are now serving their communities in their native countries.

6th Caricom-Cuba Summit

The 6th Caricom-Cuba Summit, which took place on December 8 in Antigua and Barbuda, provided a new opportunity to review the work of the mechanism since its founding 15 years ago, in Havana, 2002.

There currently exists broad cooperation across various strategic sectors such as health, sports, education, culture, and construction. But, as has been noted in previous encounters, there remains much more potential to be exploited.

Trade between Caricom nations and Cuba

According to information presented in March of this year by Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, trade between Caricom nations and Cuba exceeded 120 million USD in 2016, almost double that of the previous year. However, this figure still falls below its real potential.  The event in Antigua and Barbuda enabled delegations from commercial and business sectors to sit down and evaluate new opportunities in this area.

Regional solidarity

This year the powerful hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean nations, proving the vulnerability of small island nations of the region to increasingly severe natural disasters which affect the area.

The force of the winds, and the scale of the disaster, put Caribbean institutions and international solidarity to the test, however it must be noted that neighboring countries were the first to send aid to the most affected zones.

In Dominica, where almost 90% of homes were damaged, the most critical victims were transported by air to neighboring islands to receive urgent medical treatment.
Likewise, search and rescue teams from Cuba and Venezuela were among the first to arrive in the country to save those trapped by mudslides and floods.

Regional organizations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) mobilized vital resources and the Regional Security System, in partnership with Caricom, helped to impose order at the most crucial moments.

Although Irma caused a fair amount of damage across a good part of the island, Cuba offered help to the most severely affected countries, including Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.

The island also sent a shipment of hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, including food, construction materials, and brigades of linemen, as well as forestry and construction workers, to support recovery efforts on the ground.

Alongside the local people, Cuban healthcare professionals stationed in both countries weathered the impact of the hurricanes, but continued to offer their services throughout.

Meanwhile, a special brigade from the Henry Reeve Contingent was deployed in Dominica for a month, in case epidemics broke out.
Irma and Maria showed that increasingly severe weather events are just one of many other challenges facing the region, above all attempts by the U.S. to re-exert its dominance in the area.

Cuban national hero, José Martí, believed that if Cuba and Puerto Rico secured independence it would prevent the United States from extending its control over the rest of Latin America.

In this regard, the position taken by Caribbean nations this year in the Organization of American States (OAS) is proof of the region’s strategic role in blocking maneuvers by the U.S., such as in the case of Venezuela, whose government has come under attack from Washington for attempting to implement profound changes to benefit the population in a country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

Furthermore, the Caribbean’s longstanding rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba, show that the fundamental principles of justice, even when defended by small and vulnerable island nations, prevail over pressure and coercionl by a global power.

“We face similar challenges that can only be met through close unity and efficient cooperation,” stated Army General Raúl Castro during the inauguration of the 5th Caricom-Cuba Summit, held in Havana.

Caribbean and Latin American integration, concluded the Cuban President, is “crucial to our survival.”

Raúl Castro: An increasingly prosperous, equitable, safe, sustainable and united Caribbean is possible

Source:  Cubadebate
December 8 2017

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Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit. Antigua and Barbuda, December 8, 2017, “Year 59 of the Revolution.”

(Stenographic Versions – Council of State)

Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;

Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Granada and President of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom);

Honorable Prime Ministers and Presidents of the other member countries of Caricom;

His Excellency Ambassador Irwin Larocque, Secretary General of Caricom;

His Excellency Mr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;

Her Excellency June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States;

Distinguished Heads of Delegations, Ministers and Special Guests:

I wish to express to the people and authorities of Antigua and Barbuda sincere gratitude for the expressions of friendship we have received since we arrived in this country and convey the appreciation and gratitude of the Cuban people and government for the expressions of solidarity of the Caribbean brothers after the physical fidel 26disappearance of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who was the initiator, guide and maximum promoter of political ties and cooperation between our countries.

Remember his words on December 8, 2002: “The only way out for our people is integration and cooperation, not only among States, but also among the various regional schemes and organizations.”
I am grateful for the determination of the Honorable Gaston Gaston Browne Antigua 2cBrowne and his government team, who despite the difficulties they face after the destructive passage of Hurricane Irma did not cease in their efforts to guarantee the conditions for the successful celebration of this, the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit .

A day like today, 45 years ago, the prime ministers of four countries of the Anglophone Caribbean, recently reached their independence, Errol Barrow, of Barbados; Forbes Burnham, of Guyana; Michael Manley, from Jamaica, and Eric Williams, from Trinidad and Tobago, decided to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

We will never forget that decision, which was a fundamental step for breaking the diplomatic and commercial siege against Cuba. It also allowed deepening the relations between the peoples of Our America, united by centuries of history, culture and neighborhood.

With pride we also celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Caricom-Cuba Summits, whose agreements and results have emanated a deeper and more effective relationship, based on solidarity and cooperation.

A sign of that everlasting friendship was the support that we offered each other before the passage of the two intense hurricanes that hit our region last September. I want to thank you for the expressions of brotherhood and Caribbean solidarity that we received.

A significant step

In this regard, the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the Civil Defense of Cuba and the Caribbean Agency for Disaster and Emergency Management is a significant step.

In the next triennium we foresee the continuity of joint projects, the result of the political will of our governments, such as the Regional School of Arts in Jamaica and the Center for the Stimulation of the Development of Children, Adolescents and Youth with Special Educational Needs, based in in Guyana, which have made progress in their implementation process.

We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. The 5,432 young people from the Caribbean who have been trained and the 723 currently studying in them, as well as the 1,762 Cuban collaborators present in all the Caricom countries, including 1,469 in the health sector, are part of the contribution from Cuba to the development of the Caribbean peoples.

We intend to advance in the development of trade and investments. Between 2014 and 2016 the commercial exchange grew by 70%. This year marches at a good pace. The broad and diverse participation of Caribbean companies and agencies at the Havana Fair, last month, predicts higher growth.

We welcome the implementation, in January 2018, of the Second Protocol to the bilateral Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a document that expands the tariff preferences granted by Cuba and that facilitates access to our markets.

Dear Presidents and Prime Ministers and Guests:

How shall we face the challenge of moving towards development in the midst of the deep economic, social, political and environmental crisis that this hemisphere and the world are suffering? We must do it with unity in our diversity, integration and genuine cooperation among us.

The dangers for the survival of the human species increase. The consequences of the application of concepts not universally accepted as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” are used to cover up interventionist and aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security and call us to defend international law and the full validity of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

We should articulate to demand a fair action by the industrialized powers for the mitigation and adaptation of the effects of climate change, in particular with financial resources and technology transfer; to agree on approaches to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, to collectively address the mechanisms of domination imposed on us by the unjust international financial system.

I reiterate Cuba’s invariable position of supporting, in all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment.

We support the demand, equally just, to receive cooperation according to their real situation and needs, and not on the basis of per capita income statistics that classify them as middle income countries and exclude them from the flows of financial resources indispensable for its development

We join our voice against the persecution by transnational financial capital centers that seek to damage the international reputation of the Caribbean countries and hinder their economic development through inclusion in spurious and unilateral lists and singularization in dangerous supranational endeavors, supposedly for the confrontation to corruption.

We strongly support the just demand of the Caribbean Community for compensation from the colonial powers for the horrors of slavery and trafficking.

We also have an urgent duty with our peoples to advance with increasingly solid steps towards the political, economic and social integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Regional integration

Today, the successful trajectory of Caricom, the participation of all its Member States and Cuba in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Association of Caribbean States, as well as the membership of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, have contributed to the advancement of regional integration, which we must continue to promote. On the other hand, participation in Petrocaribe has represented a guarantee and significant contribution to the development of our countries.

I would like to highlight the signature by the Heads of State and Government of the region of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, on the occasion of the II Summit of Celac, held in Havana in January 2014, which constitutes the basis for the development of relations of mutual respect between the States and the commitment of these with the strict fulfillment of their obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and self-determination of peoples.

Venezuela

That is why we must not allow the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, one of our Latin American and Caribbean nations, to suffer continuous actions that pursue the destruction of its constitutional order. Cuba reiterates its permanent solidarity and support for the heroic Venezuelan people, its civic-military union and the Bolivarian and Chavez government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Haiti

I underline the historical and ethical responsibility of our nations with the sister Republic of Haiti and the need to contribute to its development, with strict adherence to the will of its government and the legitimate needs of its people.

The blockade of Cuba

We Cubans deeply thank our Caribbean brothers for their unalterable position of respect and solidarity towards our country. We will never forget the permanent support for resolutions against the blockade of Cuba, as well as the numerous expressions of solidarity in the general debates of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization and in other international forums.

This support is even more relevant in the face of the setbacks caused by the actions of the new government of the United States against Cuba. The blockade is the biggest obstacle to the economic and social development of our country, and to Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial relations with the world.

Caribbean brothers:

“In the faithful of America are the Antilles,” José Martí wrote in 1894, the most universal of Cubans. His ideas, widely shared today, give us the conviction that an increasingly prosperous, equitable, safe, sustainable and united Caribbean is possible; you can always count on the eternal friendship, gratitude and support of Cuba.

Thank you very much (Applause).

 

Raúl arrives in Antigua and Barbuda to attend 6th CARICOM-Cuba Summit

Source: Xinhuanet and  Granma  
December 7 2017

raul arrives in antigua dec 2017 1.jpgArmy General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers arrived in Antigua and Barbuda, December 7, on an official visit to the country to attend the 6th CARICOM-Cuba Summit, to take place December 8.

President Raúl will also attend the Third Sitting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Assembly.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, received the Cuban President and accompanying delegation at Antigua’s Saint John’s International Airport.
The summit in Antigua will serve to structure a common agenda that advocates for a new fair international order, solidarity, integration and trade.

Integration, cooperation and development

Sources from the Cuban foreign ministry recently affirmed that Havana will make clear its will to promote integration, cooperation and development in the meeting with the other 14 Caribbean states.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Cuban Civil Defense Agency is expected to provide the opportunity for closer collaboration, especially after the devastating impact in the region of major hurricanes in September.

Commercial relations between the two sides were strengthened last November with the signing of the Second Protocol of the CARICOM-Cuba Trade Agreement.

The protocol expands reciprocal access to a duty-free market for more than 320 items, including meat, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beer, rum, cement, soap and clothing.

45th anniversary

The 45th anniversary of relations between CARICOM and Cuba was celebrated in Havana on Wednesday with a political event.

On December 8, 1972, the leaders of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago made the decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and create a formal cooperation mechanism with Cuba that would focus on common concerns of developing nations.

VI Caricom-Cuba Summit Celebrates 15 Years of Good Relations

Source:  TeleSUR
4 December 2017

6th cuba caricomThe summit will be held in Antigua and Barbuda. | Photo: Cuban Foreign Ministry

Ministers say they hope Friday’s meetings will create a “space for exchange and coordination in a frank, friendly and fraternal environment.”

The Caribbean Community is preparing to meet with Cuban officials for the sixth round of talks aimed at restructuring international trade beginning Dec. 8.

RELATED:  Caribbean Countries Unite to Digitize Judicial Processes

The VI Caricom-Cuba Summit will be held in Antigua and Barbuda as it celebrates the 15th anniversary of its tri-annual summits and the 45th year of continued diplomacy and solidarity in the Caribbean.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry expressed its gratitude to the Caribbean’s continued support amid the U.S. blockade, saying it will never forget the kindness and attitude of its leaders, namely Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley and Eric Williams, Prensa Latina reported.

These leaders were monumental in opening the door to mutual respect, friendship and cooperation between the Caribbean nations, the ministry said.

92 percent increase

Due to the 45 years of good relations as well as the gradual integration of Cuba’s health, education and sports, the nation has seen a rise in trade output and finances. In 2016 alone, trade was US$126 million a 92 percent increase from the year before.

According to the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca, over 5,000 Caribbean students have studied in Cuba and as a result of the regional organization’s strong relations with Cuba, the island has been able to assist neighboring nations such as Haiti with desperately needed disaster relief more quickly.

RELATED: Tri-Continental Nations Support Caribbean Quest for Reparations

“It continues to be a challenge to all our governments and commercial enterprises to streamline the foundation we have already set up. What is significant is that there is a definite will and a firm determination for all to carry out that task,” he said of the Caricom-Cuba relations.

The delegations signed the Second Protocol of the Agreement of Trade and Economic Cooperation with Caricom in November in order to expand business and trade endeavors throughout the Caribbean.

Ministers say they hope Friday’s meetings will create a “space for exchange and coordination in a frank, friendly and fraternal environment.”

The summit has been held since 2002, stemming from a convention which established the diplomatic relations between Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago on Dec. 8, 1972.

Venezuela: Maduro invites opposition to meet with government

Source:  Granma
December 4 2017

nicolas maduro nov 2017 2

“On 372 occasions I have called for a national dialogue,” said the president. | Photo: @PresidencialVen

Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, invited opposition members to meet with government representatives at Miraflores Palace, in order to strengthen formal talks and review the six point agenda agreed upon by both parties in talks held December 1-2 in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

“I want to invite Deputy Julio Borges, Deputy Luis Florido, Deputy Timoteo Zambrano and Deputy Luis Aquiles Moreno, representing opposition parties, Justice First, People’s Will, Democratic Action, and A New Time, to Miraflores Palace this week,” Maduro stated during the 98th episode of the weekly television program he hosts on VTV, Los Domingos con Maduro.

The head of state recalled that the Venezuelan government maintains a constant dialogue with all the country’s productive and social sectors, and highlighted the importance of consolidating formal talks with all political sectors for the well-being of the country.

“Now we need a political dialogue with all the country’s political actors, with all political forces and factions, I have insisted a great deal on there being dialogue and a permanent system of transparent dialogue regarding the country with the opposition,” he stated, according to AVN.

Maduro also highlighted the repeated calls he has made to oppositions sectors to participate in talks in order to achieve peace. “I have called for national dialogue on 372 occasions,” he stressed.

Elections in Cuba: More Than 85% of the Electorate Exercised Their Right to Vote

Source:  Cuba Inside the World & TeleSUR

The president of the National Electoral Commission emphasized that the day passed with tranquility, organization and discipline.

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Seven million 608,404 Cubans went to the polls this past Sunday to elect the delegates to the municipal assemblies of the Popular Power, reported on Monday Alina Balseiro, president of the National Electoral Commission (CEN).

Related:  Elections in Cuba: Like Nowhere Else!

This figure represents 85.94 percent of the eight million 855,213 citizens summoned to exercise their right to vote in the first stage of the 2017-2018 general elections, according to data offered by Balseiro at a press conference.

cuba's municipal elections nov 2017 2.jpgThe number of voters this past Sunday increased by 54,882 with respect to the elections of 2015.

– Of all the ballots deposited, 91.79 percent were valid, 4.12 percent were blank and only 4.07 percent were canceled.

– The provinces with the best percentages of valid ballots were Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Las Tunas, Granma and Sancti Spíritus.

-11,415 delegates were elected from the 12,515 existing districts.

-Of the total of elected, women represent 35.47 percent, while young people 14.36.

-The second round will include 1,100 districts next December 3, 67 less than in 2015.

Balseiro stressed that the election day passed with calm, organization, discipline and compliance with the law. He also thanked the agencies and institutions that supported the process.

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