Intellectuals join forces to denounce U.S. attacks on Venezuela

Source:  Granma
September 20 2019

“Your disease is chronic.” Photo: Osval

“Heroic, Bolivarian, revolutionary Venezuela calls upon our sister peoples of the continent and the world,” said Ernesto Villegas, minister of People’s Power for Culture in the nation, during an event held at the Venezuelan embassy in Havana, by the Cuban chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity (REDH) to support a letter from Venezuelans to UN General Secretary António Guterres and the peoples of the world, which has been co-signed by millions. The campaign is being promoted with the hashtag #noMoretrump.

With the presence of Adam Chávez, Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba; Omar González, president of the Cuban chapter of REDH; Alpidio Alonso, Minister of Culture; Abel Prieto, director of the Martí Program Office; and Pedro Calzadilla, general coordinator of the REDH – who presented the document – the Cuban chapter of the Network joined the international effort to denounce the U.S. blockade and brutal campaign against the homeland of Bolivar, adding its members’ signatures and voices.

“Throughout the country’s history, no Venezuelan government has sent its armed forces to attack anyone, except to free our brothers from the first colonialist invasion,” reads the document that makes explicit with solid arguments that Venezuela is not a threat to anyone, and has never intended to dominate or exploit any people.

The letter demands “an end to this brutal aggression against the homeland,” and that “existing mechanisms for the protection of the Venezuelan people be activated, to ensure that the full right of all its inhabitants to human development and life is guaranteed,” a position with which Cuban intellectuals concur.

Omar González reaffirmed, in the name of the Cuban chapter, their solidarity with Venezuela, for which Adam Chávez expressed gratitude, recalling the role of Fidel and Chávez in establishing the organization.

“Venezuela is today the front line against the fascist wave,” said Abel Prieto, who added that the Network has the urgent task of articulating the efforts for change of all honorable people around the world – who are the majority.

Alpidio Alonso stated that this call is the opportunity we have today to serve. “Every day we must ask ourselves what else we can do to serve Venezuela,” he said and recalled that what happens in that country is also our problem, since the fascist counteroffensive involves us all. “We are called upon to act. It is imperative that everyone knows the truth, so that good and love prevail,” he insisted.

In his heartfelt comments, Villegas conveyed greetings from President Nicolás Maduro to the signatories, while saluting President Miguel Díaz-Canel and the Party. Aware that intellectuals and artists are the vanguard of the people’s sensibility, he said, “There is nothing strange about them being the first to the line of combat, when they are summoned.”

“Only an insensitive person could be indifferent to what the planet is experiencing. The Venezuelan cause, like that of revolutionary Cuba, is the cause of humanity,” he concluded.

Cuba presents report on impact of U.S. blockade this past year

Source:  Granma
September 20 2019

Photo: Cubaminrex

Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, offers a press conference today to present the country’s report to the General Assembly outlining the full impact of the U.S. blockade over this last year

The meeting with national and foreign media is being broadcast live on the Ministry’s YouTube channel and the Cubaminrex Facebook page.The resolution entitled “The need to end the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” will be presented for the 28th time to the United Nations General Assembly, where the international community has repeatedly expressed its support for the island and condemnation of the hostile U.S. policy.

• The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America on Cuba for nearly six decades is the most unjust, severe, and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions ever levied on any country.

• In this past year, tightening the blockade has continued to be the central pivot of U.S. government policy toward Cuba, with increasingly notable effects in its extraterritorial application.

• The U.S. State Department has on three occasions expanded the “Restricted List of Cuban Entities and Sub-Entities”, subject to additional sanctions. This measure has caused considerable damage to the country’s economy by intimidating the international business community.

• April 17, 2019, the U.S. State Department announced its decision to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act to permit the filing of claims in U.S. courts against enterprises and individuals, both Cuban and of other nationalities, doing business with properties nationalized in the 1960s. This decision ended the practice of suspending this option for a six month period, assumed since 1996 by earlier U.S. administrations and President Trump himself in the first two years in office.

• Since the implementation of this decision, Cuba’s economic activities have been severely affected, especially Cuban relations with international partners and investors. No citizen or sector of the economy escapes the negative effects of this unilateral policy which hinders development, to which every country is entitled, constructed in a sovereign manner.

• Added to the foregoing are provisions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the Commerce Department to eliminate, as of June 5, 2019, general licenses for “people to people” group educational travel, and prohibiting temporary stays in Cuba by non-commercial aircraft, passenger and recreational boats, including cruise ships. This measure, beyond severely limiting travel by U.S. citizens to our country, directly impacts the emerging Cuban private sector.

• All of these actions were taken for the deliberate and declared objective of causing economic harm and depriving Cuba of financial resources.

The behavior of the current United States government is an insult to the international community which has for 27 consecutive years condemned the blockade of Cuba within the framework of the United Nations. It ignores successive resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly and declarations by heads of state or government of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, among other organizations which have demanded an end to the blockade of Cuba.

• The policy of blockade against Cuba continues to represent an impediment to the development of the Cuban economy’s potential; to the implementation of the National Economic and Social Development Plan; and attaining Agenda 2030 and its objectives for Sustainable Development.

• The blockade is a massive, flagrant, and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cuban men and women. Because of its declared goal and the political, legal, and administrative framework upon which it is sustained, these sanctions qualify as an act of genocide according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and as an act of economic warfare according to the Naval Conference of London of 1909. Moreover, it is in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.

• The United States must, without any conditions whatsoever, put an end to the unjust blockade which for nearly 60 years has caused the Cuban people suffering.

• Cuba hall not renounce its principles nor cease in its demands for the complete elimination of the blockade. Therefore, on the 6th and 7th of November, 2019, the government of Cuba will once again present to the United Nations General Assembly the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba”.

• Cuba reiterates its permanent gratitude to the international community for demanding the end to this illegal, genocidal, and extraterritorial policy.

• Within the particularly difficult current situation, Cuba and its people hope to once again count on the valuable contribution of your countries to lifting the U.S. blockade.

Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About…Anything

Source:  Black Agenda Report

by Glen Ford

Sept 19 2019

Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About…Anything

In any alliance with corporate oppression and militarism, Black America squanders reservoirs of respect among the Earth’s peoples. We betray ourselves and become Black Gringos.

“The epic struggle for Black self-determination is inseparable from the struggle for peace and a livable planet.”

There was a time, not so long ago, when most Black Americans of all classes were highly skeptical of every word that emanated from the mouths of white folks in power in the United States. A substantial body of Black opinion believed nothing at all that appeared in the corporate media – which, back then, we simply called the “white press.”  It was a wise and healthy skepticism, learned over generations of enduring a constant stream of lies and slander against Black people from politicians and mass media of the two governing parties. These organs and mouthpieces of rich white people’s power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than “foxes” (Democrats) and “wolves” (Republicans). The logic of the collective Black domestic experience extended to international affairs, as well. We empathized with the “colored” peoples of the world under attack by the U.S. government and media. If white politicians and press lied about us, we knew they were probably lying about their foreign non-white victims, as well. And we were right.

“The organs and mouthpieces of rich white people’s power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than ‘foxes’ (Democrats) and ‘wolves’ (Republicans).”

Then came the Sixties and our grassroots movement’s victories over official American apartheid. One of the governing parties (the foxes) opened its doors to Black participation, and big business media began putting Black faces in front of the cameras. Racial euphemisms replaced outright slander against Blacks and the lies became more nuanced. But it was not until the advent of the First Black President that African Americans lost much of their traditional skepticism of U.S. government motives, at home and abroad.When Barack Obama threatened to bomb Syria in retaliation for an alleged — and provably false – chemical attack on civilians, in September of 2013, polls showed more Black Americans than whites wanted the bombs to fall. Although only minorities of Americans of all races favored bombing Syria, it was the first time in the history of U.S. polling that Blacks were more bellicose than whites.

Only a decade earlier, in the run-up to President Bush’s 2003 assault on Iraq, the Zogby polling organization had asked a representative sampling of Americans the question: “Would you favor an invasion of Iraq if it resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians?” Large majorities of white men and nearly a majority of white women were in favor of such an invasion, as were 16 percent of Hispanic Americans. But only 7 percent of African Americans  said, “Yes” – meaning, the U.S. government and media demonization campaign against Iraq had been effective among only a very marginal segment of African Americans. Blacks still empathized with the masses of Iraqi civilians, while whites definitively did not.

“With the advent of the First Black President, African Americans lost much of their traditional skepticism of U.S. government motives, at home and abroad.”

The fact that overwhelming numbers of Blacks also perceived George Bush and his party as hostile to African American lives and interests, certainly made them more empathetic towards Bush’s foreign victims, and the specific reference to “civilians” in the Zogby question is significant. But the erosion of Black internationalism – or, at least, Black American solidarity with other peoples of color in the world – is palpable and inarguable. Two years before the false-flag Syria chemical attack crisis, half of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against a bill that would have halted Obama’s murderous and totally unprovoked bombing of Libya– an African country! – with virtually no protest from Black America.

Obama has retired to the luxurious haunts of the rich and famous classes that he served so well as president. Catastrophically, however, his replacement in the Oval Office by overtly racist Donald Trump is viewed as such an existential threat that much of Black America has made common cause with the FBI, the CIA and the worst warmongers in the Democratic Party in a hysteria to be rid of the Orange Menace. Russiagate is perhaps the most successful psychological warfare operation in U.S. history, and has largely neutralized Black America’s traditional aversion to U.S. imperial aggressions.T he Democratic Party and most of the corporate media have for the past three years been furiously mobilized behind a CIA-instigated “resistance” that is NOT directed against Trump’s pro-rich, anti-Black and poor people policies, but rather seeks to solidify public support for U.S. military and economic domination of the world — an imperialism of planetary terror and blackmail and domestic austerity and deprivation.

“The erosion of Black internationalism is palpable and inarguable.”

Black America cannot possibly achieve anything meaningful by siding with corporate Democrat Foxes and CIA Rattlesnakes in their ongoing coup against the Orange Peckerwood and his legions of crackers. Russiagate is a stealth assault on all who disagree with the corporate narrative and rich people’s version of Truth. The only victors will be the oligarchy of Fat Cats and military-industrial complex Wolves. African Americans are admired the world over as a people that Fight the Power, not as conniving co-conspirators with humanity’s enemies. The Foxes need Black votes to get their turn at stealing the eggs, but their leaders have assured the Fat Cats that there will be no Medicare for All, no dignified minimum wage, no forgiveness of college debt, no Green New Deal, no relief from gentrification and no retreat from half a century of militarized policing and mass incarceration of Black America.

There will certainly be no let-up in the campaign of starvation that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of mostly Black, brown and indigenous Venezuelans, a bipartisan, 20 year-long aggression; or the Dem-Rep tag-team’s multi-generational siege of Iran, a country that has not invaded anyone in centuries; or the Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump military occupation of Africa, which has killed more than six million in Congo, alone.

“The Foxes need Black votes to get their turn at stealing the eggs.”

The Foxes want to annihilate Russia, while the Wolves would blot out China. Neither can accept a world in which the U.S. ruling class is not supreme over the planet. In an alliance with such evil, Black America loses more than its soul – we squander the reservoirs of respect that generations of African American fighters for human dignity have earned among the Earth’s peoples. We become Black Gringos, while still at the bottom of the American heap – a most ignominious end to our saga.

We find our real allies in struggle against the Lords of Capital — the Fat Cats that have made our world a killing field. The epic struggle for Black self-determination is inseparable from the struggle for peace and a livable planet. Join the Black Alliance for Peace, the Black is Back Coalition and the Black Agenda Report team at the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet, September 20 – 23rd, in New York City.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.