Cuba and Venezuela Celebrate 12th Anniversary of ALBA Creation

Source:  TeleSUR
December 14 2016

“I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”  Hugo Chavez

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Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) during an ALBA conference, March 17, 2015 in Caracas, Venezuela. | Photo: EFE

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro celebrate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic regional alliance.

On Thursday the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic progressive continental alliance, ALBA, in Havana, Cuba.

OPINION:  ALBA’s Vitality Versus the Neoliberal Living Dead

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Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and then Cuban President, Fidel Castro sign the founding ALBA agreement in 2004 (AIN Cuba)

Originally launched by Cuba and Venezuela on Dec 14. 2004 as an anti-imperialist response to U.S. plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, is a “political, economic, and social alliance in defense of independence, self-determination and the identity of peoples comprising it.”

Solidarity and cooperation

Based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation, and a key promoter of 21st Century Socialism, ALBA is now made up of 11 countries from South and Central America and the Caribbean including Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Grenada, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda. Suriname and Haiti are both allied and have declared their intention to become full members.

For the past 12 years, the alliance has worked to strengthen Latin American political and economic unity, promote the political vision of the Bolivarian Revolution, respond to U.S. interventions in the region, combat poverty and illiteracy, and promote and protect the rights of Indigenous nations and people with disabilities.

PetroCaribe

ALBA has helped launch PetroCaribe, which guarantees subsidized oil to its Caribbean members, in particular, Cuba, who thanks to the U.S. embargo had faced severe oil and gas shortages; as well as PetroSur, an organization which attempts to use oil resources to fund social development projects throughout the region. In 2008 ALBA members created a regional virtual currency, the Sucre, which is used in trade between member countries.

Maduro’s visit to Cuba also coincides with the 22nd anniversary of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s first meeting with Fidel Castro which many see as the birth of both ALBA as well as Chavez’s movement for 21st Century Socialism. In writing about that first meeting many years later Chavez wrote, “I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”

During the signing ceremony for the creation of ALBA in 2004, Fidel Castro spoke of Chavez saying, “You promised to return one day with purpose and dreams fulfilled. You have returned and become a giant, not only as leader of the victorious revolutionary process of your people, but also as a relevant international personality, loved, admired and respected by many millions of people in the world, and especially our people.”

ALBA’s Vitality Versus the Neoliberal Living Dead

Source:  TeleSUR
December 14 2016

By: Tortilla Con Sal

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Meeting of the ALBA Bloc in 2016 | Photo: AVN

The ALBA countries outperformed the wealthiest countries in the region during the world’s most serious economic crisis in nearly a century.

Continuing their ancient war on the world’s impoverished majority, Western elites, having bled dry their own countries’ economies, are now fighting once more to entrench their local allies in power across Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Argentina has lost over 130,000 jobs under Macri’s right wing regime

In under a year, Argentina under its right-wing regime has lost over 130,000 jobs and inflation-adjusted wages have dropped by 10 percent. Very soon Brazil will certainly be reporting even worse relative numbers. The same criminal Brazilian elite that overthrew President Dilma Rousseff have now got their corrupt proxies in the country’s legislature to make any increase in social spending, health or education impossible for 20 years.

This is a sentence of hardship and death for millions of impoverished people in Brazil. In both Brazil and Argentina, illegitimate neoliberal regimes have decided to follow the example of the U.S. and the European Union, rendering their countries’ economies easier prey for global vampire elites.

Foreign elites and their local clients deepening neocolonialism

But across Latin America and the Caribbean, people are fighting to stop foreign elites and their local clients from reinstating and deepening neocolonialism to compensate for falling profits in the West. The latest wave of conquistadors fly in business class, wear debonair suits and blather finance-speak while wielding smartphones and devices instead of swords and pistols.

RELATED:  ALBA and the Moral Poverty of the West

Western politicians and media outlets

But the nitty gritty of conquest remains the same — extortion from the nation-victims; a small cut for the local oligarchy; and repression for the impoverished majority. That is why Western politicians and media outlets support right-wing regimes in the region while attacking the governments of the main ALBA countries — Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela.

ALBA’s success stories

Those countries’ governments have reduced poverty and inequality massively, putting to shame much wealthier countries under neoliberal regimes. The ALBA countries have demonstrated the superiority and resilience of their socialist-inspired social and economic models, despite every assault from the West and its corrupt local proxies.

To illustrate the performance of the ALBA countries relative to other countries in the region, the following table highlights the countries that increased their per capita Gross Domestic Product by 75 percent or more between 2006 and 2014.

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Special circumstances may or may not apply to Guyana, Peru, Panama and Suriname, but the underperformance of the wealthiest countries in the region is clear. The ALBA countries outperformed them during the world’s most serious economic crisis in nearly a century.

RELATED: South America’s Right-Wing Rallies Behind Brazil’ Temer Govt

Greater equality in ALBA countries

One completely damning statistic is that in the Human Development Index, Cuba ranks above Colombia, Mexico and Peru, level with Brazil and Costa Rica. Another striking feature of the statistics for the ALBA countries is the clear trend towards greater equality, with Cuba again leading the way.

All these numbers are worth noting at a time when ALBA members Ecuador and Bolivia are recovering from the negative effects of volatile global prices for their oil and gas. Ecuador’s case is compounded by the dollarization of the economy inherited from earlier right-wing governments.

Ecuador’s smart policies

But despite those difficulties and this year’s devastating earthquake, Ecuador’s smart policies of economic resistance will enable the government to defeat future political challenges from the country’s right wing. In Venezuela, the government has just presented a budget for 2017 far less dependent on oil revenues. This means the right-wing’s economic sabotage, supported by the United States, has failed to destroy President Nicolas Maduro’s social spending and investment plans.

Poverty reduction in the Dominican Republic

The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean predicts higher growth for Bolivia relative to the rest of the region and also Nicaragua, as well as the Dominican Republic and Panama. The Dominican Republic has reduced poverty with socially inclusive policies and help from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program.

Panama, a notorious tax haven and financial enclave, is enjoying the benefits of the recent enlargement of its canal, but the socially constructive benefits of that are far from clear. In Bolivia’s case, a big problem is that it may lose as much as US$2 billion from a probable drop in exports to Argentina and Brazil. Even so, Bolivia’s model of community-based social and economic production is much better able to defend the country from potential shocks than the right-wing zombie policies applied in Argentina and Brazil.

Nicaragua’s consistent growth

Like Bolivia, Nicaragua’s economy has grown at about 4.5 percent a year since 2010, markedly and consistently more than its neighbors. Its economic model stresses economic democratization across all sectors of the country’s economy, again like Bolivia, including the so-called informal sector.

Seventy percent of Nicaragua’s labor force either work independently, in small businesses or on small farms. The country is virtually self-sufficient in food production. At the same time, President Daniel Ortega, a leader of the Sandinistas, has greatly diversified the country’s trade and investment partners cutting across ideological differences in a way similar to the win-win style promoted by China.

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Reflecting on all of this information makes it clear that under current conditions governments have little choice but to respect macroeconomic equilibrium. Bolivia and Nicaragua have reactivated their domestic markets by deliberately increasing consumption by the impoverished majority, promoting social stability which in turn has encouraged investment.

ALBA countries prioritize economic democratization

All the ALBA countries prioritize economic democratization as decisively important, through measures like nationalizing natural resources and land; programs of preferential credit, especially for low-income women; defense of food sovereignty; and recognition of the informal economy.

Obviously, progressive political forces have to promote a socially constructive society for the majority, abandoning economic structures and practices designed and managed to enrich brutally ruthless elites.

A focus on economic growth is practically meaningless without redistributive policies to reduce inequality. It can hide an appropriate perception of specific national needs and opportunities; the correct appraisal of timing; and also the likely local risks in social and environmental contexts. The ALBA countries have demonstrated convincingly that equitable, rational development of productive forces is both a precondition and a result in the process of a social and economic order capable of superseding capitalism.

Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grassroots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.

More Cuban aid to Haiti

Source:  Granma
December 12 2016

by: Nuria Barbosa León | internet@granma.cu

Once again, Haiti faced devastation as the result of a natural disaster, this time it was Hurricane Matthew hitting the island this past October, and once again to aid the victims, Cuba dispatched a brigade from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics

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Dr. Ivo Zúñiga Martínez, is working in Haiti’s Anse d’Hainault region, as a member of the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics. Photo: Courtesy of interviewee

Once again, Haiti faced devastation as the result of a natural disaster, this time it was Hurricane Matthew hitting the island this past October, and once again to aid the victims, Cuba dispatched a brigade from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics.

The group of three epidemiologists, ten hygienists, ten vector control technicians, and eleven Comprehensive Family Medicine doctors was sent to reinforce the efforts of the Cuban Medical Brigade already working in Haiti, and confront the emergency situation, given the severe impact of the hurricane, which worsened the poor epidemiological situation existent in the country.

This information was shared via email by Dr. Ivo Zúñiga Martínez, who is serving in the Anse d’Hainault region as a member of the Henry Reeve Contingent, engaged in active monitoring and treating patients where there have been outbreaks of cholera and acute diarrhea, in addition to an increased incidence of malaria.

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Cuban doctors travel to rural areas to serve the population. Photo: Courtesy of interviewee.

“The population is thankful for our presence because we have arrived in areas that are difficult to reach with traditional means of transportation, which means, no one comes,” the Cuban doctor indicated to Granma International, recalling that he had treated a two month old baby girl in very poor health, being cared for by neighbors since her parents died in the hurricane.

To get the child to a medical facility, he carried her on foot for five kilometers, along roads blocked with debris. After being admitted to a hospital and receiving adequate treatment, she has recuperated, and her caregiver is constantly repeating in Creole, “Thank you Cubans, may god bless you.”

Previously in Guinea-Conakry

Dr. Zúñiga previously served in Guinea-Conakry, combating the Ebola epidemic, and described this work as a great learning experience, “The task is intense, it wears you down physically and psychologically. We had to protect ourselves and our colleagues,” he recalled.

He likewise shared that, during his stay in West Africa, he was greatly impacted by the death of the brigade member, 60-year-old economist from Sancti Spíritus, Jorge Juan Guerra Rodríguez, as a result of malaria.

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Pictured left to right: Mariela, Gisselle, and Michelle.Photo: Anabel Díaz

Nonetheless, he values the experience recognizing that human lives were saved thanks to the attention and specialized treatment the Cuban doctors provided. The population arrived in great numbers to the Cuban hospitals, he reported, given the positive results they obtained in confronting the dangerous disease.

Serving in Western Sahara

Just a few months after returning from West Africa, Dr. Zúñiga was called upon to travel to Western Sahara, where serious flooding had occurred at the end of 2015. His group supported the work of the Cuban medical brigade which has been working in the country for more than 40 years.

Missing his daughter;s birth

Describing his experience in Haiti, the young doctor reported that it was difficult to miss the birth of his second daughter, writing, “They let me know on October 24, at 5:58 pm, that Michelle had been born, healthy, with a normal birth, weighing 9.4 pounds. I cried with emotion and I shouted the news to the whole brigade. I received many congratulations, and within a few minutes, they sent me a photo of my little girl, wrapped in a green blanket, with her eyes wide open.”

Given this news, Granma International visited the doctor’s wife Gisselle Fernández Arias, who recounts, “I was admitted beginning October 1, in the Luis Díaz Soto Hospital, known as the Naval, since I had a urinary infection. My mother-in-law came to the house to take care of my six-year-old daughter Mariela. The day of the birth, several family members supported me. I received very good care from the doctors, some of whom knew the baby’s father, since they were professors when he was in medical school.”

“When the baby was about to be born, I made a call to Haiti, and told my husband that I was in the prep room, and that within a few hours, our little girl would be born. He responded saying that I had shown what a woman I was, that this was one more proof. I did everything they indicated during the birth, and it went well.”

Supported by family members

Dr. Zúñiga’s family lives in one of the apartments built by the Revolution in the Alamar neighborhood in the municipality of Habana del Este, and his wife is well supported by family members and friends.

Gisselle Fernández commented, “I get up early, and get Mariela ready for school. I take the baby with me and leave the oldest with the teacher. Sometimes I stay for the morning patriotic activity or go do some shopping. Returning home, I nurse the baby until she falls asleep, and then take advantage of this time to do some housework. In the afternoon, my grandmother, my father, or some other relative visits. They are all very attentive to my needs, until 4:00pm, I go pick up my older daughter at school. I help her with her homework, and serve dinner, prepare her school supplies for the next day, and the days go by this way, really quickly.”

To conclude, she sends a message to her husband, “I love you so much, and miss you even more.”

Haiti 101 Years After US Invasion, Still Resisting Domination

Source:  TeleSUR
By: Justin Podur

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

demonstrators march in haiti jan 2016.jpgDemonstrators march during a protest in Port-au-Prince, January 2016. | Photo: AFP

The U.S. invaded and occupied Haiti 101 years ago today, and remained there for 19 years. Accomplishments of the occupation include raiding the Haitian National Bank, re-instituting slave labor, establishing the hated National Guard, and getting a 25-year contract for the U.S. corporation, United Fruit.

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There was a pretext for the invasion—the assassination of Haiti’s president in 1915. But to understand the event, which has lessons to draw from a century later, it is necessary to look more closely at the invader than the invaded.

The U.S. is still the determining voice in Haiti’s politics and economy

In 2016, the United States is living through a presidential campaign with a candidate willing to exploit racism and pander to anti-immigrant sentiment. Police are killing Black people in cities across the U.S.

Having drawn down troop levels in its two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. still runs airsrikes and drone strikes in the region and covert actions all over the world. The U.S. is still the determining voice in Haiti’s politics and economy. In other words, 101 years after its invasion of Haiti, the U.S. retains two features: violent racial inequality and empire.

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the Clinton Foundation was among the horde of non-governmental organizations that stepped up their role in the, still unfinished, rebuilding phase. Haiti’s social sector had already been taken over by NGOs and its streets—since the 2004 U.S.-led coup and occupation—were patrolled by United Nations troops.

RELATEDInterim Haitian President Calls for New Elections in October

The Clinton Foundation received pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to rebuild Haiti. The crown jewel of the Foundation’s work: the disappointing Caracol Industrial Park, opened in 2012, which promised and failed to expand Haiti’s low-wage garment-processing industry, long a source of foreign profits and little internal development.

Hillary Clinton’s interventions

Hillary Clinton made her own interventions into Haitian politics as secretary of state. At a key moment in Haiti post-earthquake politics, Clinton’s state department threw its weight behind presidential candidate Michel Martelly.

His electoral legitimacy was dubious and his presidency led the country to a constitutional crisis when people mobilized against another stolen election in 2015. That crisis is still ongoing, and will no doubt provide pretexts for the next U.S. intervention.

Woodrow Wilson

To try to imagine the impact of Trump on Haiti, one need only look back a century. As Trump continues his seemingly unstoppable march to the White House, he is compared to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and other populist buffoon-politicians. Woodrow Wilson, the invader of Haiti in 1915, may be a better example of the damage a president can.

When Woodrow Wilson became president, he set about doing what today would be called “Making America Great Again.” Decades had passed since the U.S. Civil War. The post-war Reconstruction involved efforts to desegregate cities and government workplaces and make a place for newly-freed Black people.

Strengthening racial apartheid in the U.S.

Wilson reversed these efforts, strengthening racial apartheid in the U.S. His administration made sure there were separate bathrooms in federal government offices.

Although Trump is unlikely to re-introduce segregation, something else happened under Woodrow Wilson’s rule that is relevant in this context: white vigilante violence and lynchings spiked.

Wilson created a permissive environment for such atrocities. First elected in 1912, Wilson only got around to making a statement against organized white violence—called “mob violence” or “race riots”—in mid-1917.

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When more riots broke out in 1919, this time designed to suppress the democratic impulses of Black soldiers returning from WWI, the NAACP implored Wilson to make a a statement. But it was Wilson, himself, who had restricted Black soldiers to non-combat roles during the war.

In foreign policy, Donald Trump’s pronouncements have been predictably incoherent and uninformed. But Woodrow Wilson’s presidency suggests that domestic policies of racism will not be confined to the domestic arena.

Wilson sent U.S. troops all over Latin America

Wilson sent U.S. troops all over Latin America—Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua and of course, Haiti—which may have gotten the worst of it all. Racist wrath has been a constant in Haiti’s history since it won its independence in a slave revolt, and Wilson unleashed that wrath on the island during the 1915-1934 occupation. Chomsky’s “Year 501″ gives a flavor for what U.S. occupiers were thinking and doing:

“Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, found the Haitian elite rather amusing: ‘Dear me, think of it, Niggers speaking French,'” he remarked. The effective ruler of Haiti, Marine Colonel L.W.T. Waller, who arrived fresh from appalling atrocities in the conquest of the Philippines, was not amused: “they are real nigger and no mistake … real nigs beneath the surface,” he said, rejecting any negotiations or other “bowing and scraping to these coons,” particularly the educated Haitians for whom this bloodthirsty lout had a special hatred.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while never approaching the racist fanaticism and thuggery of his distant relative Theodore Roosevelt, shared the feelings of his colleagues. On a visit to occupied Haiti in 1917, he recorded in his diary a comment by his traveling companion, who later became the Occupation’s leading civilian official.

WATCH: Unrest in Haiti as Elections Are Delayed

$1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860

Fascinated by the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, he “couldn’t help saying to myself,” he told FDR, “that man would have brought $1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860 for stud purposes.”

“‘Roosevelt appears to have relished the story,” (Hans) Schmidt notes, “and retold it to American Minister Norman Armour when he visited Haiti as President in 1934.”

Chomsky conclude this section of horrifically racist quotes from the U.S. elite about Haiti with a warning, “The element of racism in policy formation should not be discounted, to the present day.”

Nor should Haitian resistance.

Charlemagne Peralte

Charlemagne Peralte Haiti.jpgThe U.S. occupation of 1915-1934 faced a rebellion led by Charlemagne Peralte. Marines assassinated him and circulated a photograph of him crucified. Rather than intimidating Haitians, the photo enraged them and cemented Charlemagne Peralte’s place as a national hero.

If Haitians had a say in the U.S. presidential election, a case could be made for the devil-you-know of Clinton rather than the risk of a new Woodrow Wilson in Trump. But subjects of the empire can’t vote, only citizens. The U.S. tried to set the tone of master 101 years ago.

But people still resist.

The US Spent $33 Million on Haiti’s Scrapped Elections — Here is Where it Went

Source:   Cuba – Network in Defense of Humanity,  Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 2 2016

clinton y martelly.jpegHaiti’s electoral council announced yesterday that new first-round presidential elections would be held in October after a commission found widespread fraud and irregularities in the previous vote. The prospect of the new vote — to be held alongside dozens of parliamentary seats still up for grabs, has raised questions about how it could be funded. The previous elections — determined to be too marred by fraud and violence to count — cost upward of $100 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from international donors.

But now, donors are balking. Last week the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten said that if elections are redone “from scratch” then it would put U.S. assistance in jeopardy. It “could also call into question whether the U.S. will be able to continue to support financially Haiti’s electoral process,” Merten added. In a separate interview, Merten explained:

We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.

So, what was done with the money? Could the same thing happen again?

Many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections

To begin with, that figure seems to include money allocated in 2012 – years before the electoral process began. Local and legislative elections, which former president Michel Martelly was constitutionally required to organize, failed to happen. A significant share of this early funding likely went to staffing and overhead costs as international organizations or grantees kept their Haiti programs running, despite the absence of elections. It’s also worth pointing out that many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections.

USAID  grant

In April 2013, USAID awarded a grant to the DC-based Consortium for Elections and Political Processes. In total, $7.23 million went to the consortium before the electoral process even began. An additional $4.95 million was awarded in July 2015, a month before legislative elections. The consortium consists of two DC-based organizations, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). In a January report to Congress, the State Department explained further what some this money went towards:

  1. “the creation and implementation of twenty-six Electoral Information Centers (EICs) … to provide information to the general public on the electoral process”
  2. “training more than 100 journalists in several departments on topics such as the international standards for elections …”
  3. “Funding through INL supported election security.”
  4. “USAID also supported the creation of a new domestic election observation platform that helped build greater transparency into the electoral process by establishing a grassroots coalition of reputable and well-trained domestic observers …”

Questionable returns

Some funding also went to increasing women’s participation in the electoral process. But it’s questionable what the return on that $12.18 million really was. Not a single woman was elected to parliament — though it now appears as though at least one was elected, only to have her seat stolen through the bribing of an electoral judge. In terms of providing information to the public about the elections, participation in both the legislative and presidential elections was only about a fifth of the population.

$1 million to the OAS

The money spent on local observers may have been more successful, but not for U.S. interests. The local observer group, the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy, led by Rosny Desroches, agreed with other local observation missions that a verification commission (opposed by the U.S.) was needed to restore confidence in the elections. The U.S. spent millions training local observers, only to later ignore their analysis. Instead, the U.S. has consistently pointed to the observation work of international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU. The U.S. also provided $1 million to the OAS for their observation work.

4 out of every 10 dollars went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars

Perhaps it’s not a surprise the funding didn’t have the intended effect. A 2012 evaluation of NDI conducted by Norway’s foreign development agency found that about “4 out of every 10 dollars” went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The U.S. contributed $9.7 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “basket fund” for elections. The UNDP controlled the pooled donor funds and also funds contributed by the Haitian government (more than any other individual donor). Funds were used to print ballots, train workers, and for other logistical operations. However, it’s important to note that $3 million of these funds were distributed in 2012 and 2014, well before any election would take place.

$7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

An additional $7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for logistical operations for the elections, mainly distributing and picking up ballots before and after the election. After the August legislative elections were plagued by violent groups that shut down voting, UNOPS shifted strategy for the October election. In certain “hot spots,” ballots would not follow the normal procedures for transportation to the tabulation center, instead, UNOPS would bypass the chain, picking up electoral information at 67 voting centers and bringing the materials straight to Port-au-Prince. According to diplomatic sources, UNOPS threatened to pull out entirely if additional funds for this measure were not given. The U.S. awarded $1.8 million to UNOPS on September 29, 2015.

An additional $1.77 million was given to UNOPS in December, but the second-round presidential election never took place. Though it was clear to many that the elections would not be held given widespread condemnation by local observers and civil society groups, the U.S. and others in the international community insisted the second round go ahead. With protests increasing, they moved forward and distributed electoral materials for an election that was never going to happen. This strengthened Martelly’s bargaining power over the opposition, but meant millions of dollars were spent for no reason.

Funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million

In total, funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million. This is the vast majority of the $33 million the U.S. says it contributed to the electoral process. Additional funds were also awarded through the State Department for election-related security.

So yes, the U.S. spent over $30 million on Haiti’s elections, but not all of that went directly to the elections or was even spent wisely in supporting them. It’s clear it would take far less for the U.S. to support a Haitian-led electoral process next October. And perhaps the best reason for the U.S. to continue to fund the election, if Haiti requests such support, is that it was the U.S. and other actors in the international community that pushed ahead and put millions of dollars into a fatally flawed electoral process that Haitians have now determined was irreparably marred by fraud. The problem is not that Haitian’s wasted U.S. taxpayer dollars by scrapping the election results; it’s that the U.S. was throwing good money after bad. That’s something that can be fixed.

Cuba calls for strengthening strategies to confront imperialist intervention in the region

Source:  Granma
June 10 2016

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, called on the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba-TCP) to strengthen strategies to confront imperialist intervention and coup plots on the continent, according to AVN

by: AVN | internet@granma.cu

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The Alba-TCP Political Council denounced the media campaigns against leftist governments. Photo: AVN

Caracas.— Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, June 8, called on the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba-TCP) to strengthen strategies to confront imperialist intervention and coup plots on the continent, according to AVN.

Social movements to defend progressive movements

In his comments, during the Alba-TCP Political Council meeting to discuss common strategies to defend the region, PL reported, Rodríguez likewise called on social movements to defend progressive governments facing attacks orchestrated by foreign powers, as is the case in Venezuela, which was subjected to an attempt by the Organization of American States (OAS) to justify intervention via the application of the bloc’s Inter-American Charter, as well as Brazil, where a parliamentary coup and media campaign are currently underway against the country’s legitimate President, Dilma Rousseff.

In his remarks, broadcast by teleSUR, the Cuban Foreign Minister emphasized the timeliness of Alba’s mobilization given the escalating right wing offensive taking place across the region.

Mobilize to confront imperialist intervention

He stressed that in these circumstances, it is the Alba-TCP Political Council’s responsibility to mobilize popular and political movements, revolutionary and progressive forces, trade unions,campesinos, and intellectuals to confront imperialist intervention, coups, and neoliberalism.

As reported by AVN, the Cuban diplomat explained that to do so, regional unity and the gains achieved by the continent in international organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be consolidated.

No one can beguile Cuba

“Latin America and the Caribbean have changed, we are no longer, nor will we be, the backyard of the United States, we will not allow for the return of the carrot and the stick and I repeat that no one can beguile Cuba, which is still under blockade and whose territory in Guantánamo is still occupied, while attempts are made to isolate Venezuela,” he stressed.

Threatened by the U.S. government and national oligarchies

In this regard, he added that the region is at present threatened by the U.S. government and national oligarchies, who, for lack of popular support, “Again resort to coups to reverse sovereignty over our natural resources, our policies of independence and social development.”

During his speech to the Council, Rodríguez noted that the continent’s history will be defined in the current battle of Venezuela against constant threats, and reaffirmed Cuba’s solidarity and the deep bonds between the two nations.

History being decided in the battle in Venezuela

“The history of Latin America and the Caribbean is being decided in this battle, here in Venezuela, we will all defend, whatever the price, the legacy of (Hugo) Chávez and Venezuela will continue to have in Cuba a sister nation ready to share the same fate,” he said.

Support from St. Kitts

petrocaribe 1.jpgSaint Kitts and Nevis Senior Foreign Service Officer, Samuel Berridge, also stated his country’s support for the Bolivarian Republic and highlighted the progress made during the past 17 years, thanks to agreements such as Petrocaribe, and the services provided to the peoples through different social missions.

“We are encouraged by the model of social cohesion in Venezuela,” Berridge stated, while expressing support for dialogue initiatives promoted by the national government, accompanied by the support of UNASUR.

“Saint Kitts and Nevis is supportive of the government and people of Venezuela and is committed to ensuring the onset of a new era of economic growth and development in Venezuela. Venezuela is an important member in our hemisphere, the country is of no interest to us weakened and will be of no benefit to Alba or the rest of the hemisphere,” he emphasized.

The dark decades of neoliberalism

Delcy Rodriguez 6Meanwhile the Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, condemned the media campaigns against leftist governments in the region, which seek to set the stage for imperialist aggression.

“The peoples do not want to go back to the dark decade of neoliberalism, they do not want to be politically, economically, financially suppressed and subjugated and handed over to the International Monetary Fund,” she said.

Maduro:  the need to create a common strategy

Nicolas Maduro 15According to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the main topic of discussion at the meeting was the need to create a common strategy for the defense and freedom of our revolutionary processes.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Guillaume Long, highlighted that the union of the ALBA-TCP countries is necessary to address and counter the effects of the global right in their attacks against the region.

The Minister of the Presidency of Bolivia, Juan Ramón Quintana, also condemned any attack against Venezuelan democracy on behalf of his country.