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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.

Re-Targeting Cuba: US Renews Effort to Squash Cuba

Source:  Counterpunch
March 20 2019

Re-Targeting Cuba.jpegPhotograph Source Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba
User: SEWilco • Public domain

Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

Inflicting suffering and destabilization

Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization.  The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

On March 4 the State Department indicated that in 30 more days Title III would be applied to the foreign and Cuban “traffickers” in nationalized properties. Also Title III would, as of March 19, be extended to 200 Cuban enterprises controlled by Cuban security forces or state agencies, many of them connected with Cuba’s tourist industry. The U.S. government in November, 2017 had already put those facilities off limits to U.S. tourists.

Violation of Cuban sovereignty

As of early April, international investors, aid agencies, and business-persons active or looking to be active in Cuba will be facing vast uncertainties. The former owners of nationalized properties may be suing them in U.S. courts. Concerned about a slippery slope of U.S. disfavor, they may cease involvement with Cuba.  And what with unsettling news, foreign lenders may shy away from possibly risky loans for projects in Cuba.

RelatedCuban Ambassador to Jamaica: The US will keep on failing … civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail

Title III promises what Cubans call “extraterritorial” effects. It further universalizes application of the U.S. blockade which, potentially involving all countries, violates their sovereignty.

But in a Machiavelliantwist, the State Department will apparently wield the “trafficking” charge selectively. Cuban analyst Reinaldo Taladrid Herrero explains:“The road to Havana passes through Caracas.” Specifically, “They are going to exempt all businesses of countries allied with the United States, above all Canada and the European countries …. Implementation will be centered on adversary countries like Russia, China, and Venezuela.” Others share his views.

Violation of International Law

Title III violates international law, according to Russia; Cuba solidarity groups have protested. A few business-oriented U.S. groups oppose Title III out of concern that future U.S. commercial ventures in Cuba would be vulnerable.

Cuba’s government argues that nationalization was and is legal according to international norms and court decisions in the United States.  Cuba has sought satisfaction from the United States for deaths and destruction due to U.S. assaults. Negotiations taking place briefly during the Obama era looked at balancing Cuba’s claims with U.S demands stemming from nationalization.

Title III means major trouble for Cuba. The government there is presently mounting an effort to bolster the nation’s economy. Foreign investors will asume a major role in the project. They would provide $2.5 billion annually toward building or refurbishing Cuban institutions, companies, and infrastructure. But any good will on their part may well evaporate once threats loom as to court actions in the United States.

Food imports

The availability to the Cuban people of food, health care, schools, building supplies, medicines, and transportation rests on loans and export income from abroad and on income from joint ventures with foreign entities. By 2014 Cuba needed $2.5 billion annually in direct foreign investment. The fact that food imports alone currently require an annual outlay of $2 billion suggests that current requirements are greater.

Title III contains the seeds for havoc in the event that Cuba’s government is no more and the United States takes charge. According to Cuba’s Granma newspaper, Cubans “would be forced to return, reimburse or pay U.S. claimants for the house in which they live, the area on which their communities are built, the arable land where they cultivate produce, the school where their children are educated, the hospital or polyclinic where they receive medical assistance.”

Political terrorism

Cuban Journalist Lázaro Barredo, formerly editor of Granma,summarizes“Helms Burton literally has no precedents in the legal history of the United States. [It] constitutes an attack on sovereignty within the international community [and] represents political terrorism.” Helms Burton would “extend U.S. jurisdiction to other countries in an extraterritorial manner with the perverse intention of frightening, scaring, blackmailing, or dissuading persons interested in investing in Cuba.” We see a decision “to repossess the island, annex it, and move it toward total subordination to the United States.”

This report closes with a condemnation of the generalized cruelty and cynicism that is rooted in the strategic thinking of U.S. power brokers.For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, presiding at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 7, heard testimony from “Cynthia Arnson of the US-funded Wilson Center.” She “agreed with Rubio that ‘widespread unrest’ is useful, but cautioned that … ‘starving people don’t get out in the streets.’” In other words, a little starving is OK, but not too much.

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More articles by:W. T. WHITNEY

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

 

South Africa’s election result had few surprises, but one rude awakening

Source:  Quartz Africa
May 11 2019

By Lynsey Chutel

south africa's national electionsFrom left to right: Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters,
President Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the African National Congress, and
Mmusi Maimaine, leader of the Democratic Alliance. Reuters

It is no surprise that the African National Congress emerged victorious in South Africa’s general election this week, but the changing profile of its rivals shows that political landscape of Africa’s most advanced economy is beginning to transform radically, to the left and the right. Land is the center of both sides of the debate.

ANC’s worst performance yet

Despite their victory, this is the ANC’s worst performance yet. At 57.5% of the national vote, the ANC continues a steady decline. Despite president Cyril Ramaphosa’s promises of a new dawn, the party couldn’t shake its darker recent past of corruption, slow economic growth and factional fighting. Ramaphosa’s focus on land redistribution and anti-corruption did not quite yield the results the party had hoped and it struggled to hold on to the economic hub, Gauteng.

Its nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance, did not fare much better, earning 20,7% of the national vote, down from 22,23% in 2014. The liberal party maintained its stronghold in the Western Cape, but for the first time since 1994, failed to grow its support. The party’s first black president, Mmusi Maimane, may be out of a job soon, analysts said.

EFF’s huge advance

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters party looks set to become the official opposition by the next election, growing its share of the national vote from 6.35% in 2014 to 10,79%. With its leftist policies and the impatient slogan, “Our Land and Jobs, Now!” the EFF not only tapped into the frustration of disenfranchised youth, but peri-urban communities throughout the country.

Ahead of the vote, pollsters analyzed that the Democratic Alliance would bleed conservative votes, to the Freedom Front Plus. The DA itself conceded that the loss of this constituency was “inevitable,” yet the growth of this hitherto fringe party has shocked many in the country.

“It’s part of the repositioning of the party and we will have to learn the lessons from this election,” a member of the DA’s leadership.

For its part, the FF+ made it clear that it represented minorities, positioning itself as the voice for “a new generation of embittered individuals is forming among Afrikaners, coloured and other nonblack people.” And it seems to have worked: party only won five districts in the last election—this year it claimed more than 100 making it the fifth largest party in the country. With 2,4% of the vote, its portion of the win is small, but thanks to South Africa’s proportional representation electoral system, the FF+ will have a louder voice in parliament.

The conservative, right-leaning party campaigned with the slogan “Fight Back,” with a manifesto centered on the principle that “South Africa is teetering on the edge of ruin.” Land and farm murders were among their key issues. The party is “strongly opposed” to expropriation without compensation and described farm murders as “a national crisis.”

“The two biggest parties to grow in 2019 are the FF plus on the far right representing predominantly white Afrikaans communities and the EFF on the far left representing largely black young, economically marginalized youth,” said Tessa Dooms, a social analyst. “The lesson is that the lived realities and the legacies of Apartheid that we have thought would go away over time have not only remained but are becoming politically significant.”

While campaigning overtly on race would be frowned upon in South Africa today, the FF+ is using the Afrikaans language to mobilize coloured South Africans, Dooms told Quartz. Like its rival on the opposite end of the political spectrum, the EFF, the FF+ has tapped into the frustrations of those who feel left behind.

Related:   South Africa: Ruling African National Congress (ANC) Wins With 57% Of Votes  – TeleSUR

 

‘Brazil Needs More Education, Not More Guns’, Lula Warns

Source:  TeleSUR
May 11 2019

Lula da Silva 5.jpgFormer President Lula da Silva at the National Coordination of Education
Workers Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 12, 2019. | Photo: EFE

In an interview aired Friday by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva warned that his country’s problems will not be solved by governmental decisions that facilitate the use of weapons instead of promoting education.

RELATED:  BBC to Broadcast Lula’s Interview Banned by Local Brazilian TV

The Workers’ Party leader said Bolsonaro, “barbarously defends an armed, police state. He only makes that firing gesture. In his head, a weapon solves everyone’s problem. He has just authorized farmers can use guns and shoot anyone they want.” Lula added the current head of state “is sick and believes that Brazil’s problems will be solved with weapons. Brazil’s problems will be solved with books, with schools,” stressed the left-leaning politician.

The criticism came just days after former captain Bolsonaro signed a decree authorizing truck drivers, legislators, journalists, private security agents, lawyers and others to carry weapons in public places. This executive order will allow some 19.1 million citizens to request firearm licenses, according to Souda Paz Institute, an NGO dedicated to promoting a peace culture in Brazil.

Nationwide strike

On Wednesday, the current far-right administration also announced it would “block” 30 percent of the national budget already allocated to universities and research institutes from receiving their funs. This budget cut immediately moved thousands of Brazilian professors, students and scientists to protest and plan for a ationwide strike against social security reforms set for May 15.

“For Lula, education was an investment and not an expense. In 2010, upon leaving the Presidency, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva inaugurated the Teofilo Otoni campus in Minas Gerais. In his speech, he recalled his government’s maxim about education.”

Regarding the repression of young people and students, Lula pointed out in the exclusive interview that “for the wellbeing of Brazil, I hope [Bolsonaro] learns. … Instead of talking nonsense, Bolsonaro should say the following: ‘I will finish my term being better than Lula, I will create more universities, I will invest more in science and technology, I will enroll more children in school’.”

Imprisoned without evidence

During the interview, the 73-year-old politician and political prisoner answered several questions about the corruption allegations used to send him to jail for eight years, down from his original 12-year sentenced ruled on in 2018.

“The only thing that interests me is to prove my innocence and I will fight for it until my life’s last days,” Lula said and commented that, besides being politically motivated, his trial was wrought with legal irregularities. No actual evidence against the ex-president was ever presented in court, just testimonies against him.

“[The Human Rights, Family and Women Minister] Damares echoes Bolsonaro: minors are learning to use weapons without judicial authorization. The families demand it. Which families, minister? Those from the hills and slums? Now the motto is ‘arm one another’?”

Since April 7, 2018, Lula has been imprisoned at a Curitiba’s federal prison convicted of allegedly receiving a luxurious beach apartment from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company in exchange for contracts with Petrobras, a state-owned oil company.

Lula recalled that many opposition politicians wrongly thought he was going to leave Brazil before being arrested.

“I decided to stay in my country. If they want me in Curitiba, I will be there,” he said and thanked “those wonderful people who are out there,” referring to the thousands of Brazilians supporters who have been in permanent mobilization and solidarity since his imprisonment in April 2018.

Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court recently ruled to allow Lula to be interviewed. This was his first broadcast interview originally set to be aired on RedeTV, but the Brazilian media outlet changed course last week, allegedly pressured by the Bolsonaro administration.

The Helms-Burton is not applicable in Cuba

Source: Granma
May 17 2019

by: Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu

the helms burton is not applicable to cubaPhoto: José Manuel Correa

“The Helms-Burton Act is not applicable in Cuba; in the first place, because it is a law of the United States and therefore its jurisdiction, its range of action, is the United States. No sovereign country that respects itself would allow the extraterritorial application of a U.S. law in its territory. In addition, in our case, Cuba has a law approved in 1996 that declares the Helms-Burton Act null and void.”

Carlos Fernández de Cossío 2.jpgThis is how Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ general director for the United States, explained the situation, which is worth repeating for those with doubts about this famous law’s lack of validity. This legal creation, meant to strangle the Cuban economy, is well-known precisely because of its extraterritoriality, and its disrespect for international law.

A violation to Cuba’s sovereignty

The Helms-Burton Act is, above all, a violation to Cuba’s sovereignty, which purports to compensate potential claimants of U.S. properties nationalized in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution. This barely exceeds the category of a pretext, although it is probably the argument that has caused the most turmoil, since it implies potential damage to third parties. This has been enough to intimidate those who can be intimidated and creating uncertainty.The essential nature of the law, as several experts have noted, lies in its colonizing spirit, in its expansionist hunger in the most faithful imperial style.

This “legislative instrument” denies, in terms of sovereignty, everything that Cuba has conquered for its people, enshrined in its Constitution with the majority support of the people.Cuba’s Magna Carta, which we Cubans approved, of our own free will, states in its first article, “Cuba is a socialist state of law and social justice, democratic, independent, and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all as a unitary and indivisible republic, founded on work, dignity, humanism, and the morality of its citizens for the enjoyment of freedom, equity, equality, solidarity, wellbeing, and individual and collective prosperity.”And the sovereignty which this law is intended to violate “resides intransferably in the people, from whom all state power emanates.” Thus the Helms-Burton has no legitimacy, nor do such international relations, which are to be based, according to the Constitution, “on the exercise of sovereignty and anti-imperialist, internationalist principles, to serve the interests of the people.”

No negotiation under coercion

Article 16 reaffirms that “economic, diplomatic, and political relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threat, or coercion,” and reiterated is the aspiration for “an honorable, true, and valid peace for all states, based on respect for independence and sovereignty of the peoples and their right to self-determination, expressed in the right to freely chose their political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.”

Likewise established is the commitment “to strictly abide by the principles and norms of international law, in particular equality of rights; territorial integrity; the independence of states; no use or threat to use force in international relations; international cooperation for mutual, equitable benefit; the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the basis of equality, respect and other principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.”

Cubans are governed by our own laws

The Helms-Burton obviously advocates the contrary, but Cubans are governed by our own laws.

The Constitution also “condemns imperialism, fascism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and other forms of domination, in any of their expressions.” Is not any attempt to implement the Helms-Burton meant to impose subjugation?

Also ruled out are “direct or indirect intervention in the internal or external affairs of any state, and therefore, armed aggression, any form of economic or political coercion, unilateral blockades that violate international law, or any type of interference or threat to the integrity of states.”

We already know, based on our 60 years of experience, that the unilateral blockade is one of the keys to our northern neighbor’s foreign policy. In fact, the Helms-Burton codifies in law this policy and extends its impact internationally.

A mockery of international norms

Cuba’s Constitution insists on maintaining and fostering “friendly relations with countries which, having a different political, social and economic regime, respect our sovereignty, observe the norms of coexistence among states, and adopt a reciprocal attitude with our country, in accordance with the principles of international law. “But what is the Helms-Burton Law if not a mockery of international norms, of every elementary principle of coexistence among nations?The Magna Carta indicates that the Cuban state will, “promote multilateralism and multipolarity in international relations, as alternatives to domination and political, financial, and military hegemony or any other manifestation that threatens the peace, independence or sovereignty of peoples.”In other words: Cuba rejects each and every one of the postulates put forward by the Helms-Burton Act.

The implementation of its Title III

The Helms-Burton purports to establish the blockade as perpetual. The implementation of its Title III, suspended through May 2, reinforces and tightens the blockade. A new measure set up for failure, at a time when Cuba is precisely focused on attracting foreign investment, and diversifying, broadening its markets, not cutting them off.

In fact, the Constitution establishes this with great clarity: “The state promotes and provides guarantees for foreign investment, as an element important to the country’s economic development, on the foundation of protection and rational use of natural and human resources, as well respect for national sovereignty and independence.”

miguel diaz canel 20.jpgThese guarantees, as noted by the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, on his official Twitter account, are established in Foreign Investment Law 118, and Law 80 on the Reaffirmation of Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty, despite the aggressive escalation and uncertainty that the illegal Helms-Burton Law causes.

And speaking of guarantees, Cuba’s Constitution explicitly reiterates that the socialist property of the entire people includes “lands not owned by individuals or cooperatives, the subsoil, mineral deposits, mines, forests, waters, beaches, means of communication, and both living and non-living resources within the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.”

Also included are “other assets such as infrastructure of general interest, the principal industries, and economic and social installations, as well as others of a strategic importance to the country’s social and economic development.”

“These assets are nontransferable and their ownership can only be altered in exceptional cases, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, provided that they are to be destined for the economic and social development of the country and do not affect the political, economic, and social foundations of the state.”Have you thought about whether your children’s school was one of the properties that someone could claim; or the hospital you go to, the bank, the stadium, the market…?Probably not, because we rarely waste time on such nonsense.The Helms-Burton Act is disconcerting. No doubt. Nonetheless, as emphasized by the Constitutional principles that govern the country’s entire legal system, “Cuba repudiates and considers illegal and null any treaty, concessions or pact agreed upon under conditions of inequality, or that ignore or diminish our sovereignty or territorial integrity.”