Cuban youth have decided to live in our free Cuba

Source:  Granma
January 4, 2017

by: Jennifer Bello Martínez | internet@granma.cu

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Remarks by Jennifer Bello Martínez, a member of the Council of State and President of the Federation of University Students in José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, January 2, 2017, “Year 59 of the Revolution”

Compatriots,

Friends from around the world accompanying us today,

People of Cuba:

Photo: Anabel Díaz


The landing of the Granma  expeditionaries

Called together by history, the present and future, we come together at this historic Plaza only two days after the 58th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the heroic uprising in Santiago de Cuba, the landing of the Granma expeditionaries, and Revolutionary Armed Forces Day.

This celebration has special motives which, for every Cuban, represent commitment, will, and confidence in the future of the socialist Revolution true to the ideas of Fidel and Martí.

We dedicate this commemoration to Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution and our youth, heirs and continuators of our people’s struggles and victories.

A united people

What will take place this morning, is only possible because there exists a united people, the ultimate expression of a Revolution of workers; campesions; students; soldiers; noble men and women who are proud of this society.

Last December marked two years since the announcement of the decision by Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations and initiate a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations.

We would not have arrived at this historic moment if it were not for the resistance of the Cuban people, their loyalty to the ideals and principles that have guided them throughout their history as a nation.

Demanding the lifting of the blockade

Much remains to be done to advance in this process, which will be long and as part of which complicated problems accumulated over more than 50 years must be solved. Cuba will not stop demanding the lifting of the blockade, which causes damage and deprivation to our people, nor stop demanding the return of the territory occupied by the United States Naval Base in Guantánamo, against the will of the Cuban government and people. Neither will it stop demanding an end to subversive and interventionist programs intended to provoke changes in the political, economic and social order freely chosen by our people.

A demonstration of this has been the mobilization and energetic participation of students and the entire society, which like a hornet’s nest, we proclaim before the world to defend every conquest. The vanguard will continue to be the vanguard, forever patriots and anti-imperialists.

Bastión 2016

Just as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz remarked in his speech last September 17, during the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela: “Cuba will never renounce any of its principles or compromise its sovereignty and independence. Cuba will not cease defending its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, or supporting the self-determination of all peoples.
As part of the country’s defense preparation we conducted the Bastión 2016 Strategic Exercise, in order to update and carry out actions outlined in defense plans and to combat different enemy actions. Bastión 2016, an essential element to the implementation of the doctrine of “War by the Entire People,” once again demonstrated the unbreakable will of the Cuban people to defend their sovereignty and preserve the work of the Revolution.

Always at the ready to conquer what is to come

Precisely these principles have been those for which we have struggled since the cry of independence, and we are showing this with this Military Review and March of the Combatant People, which bears within it our history, our symbols, the rebelliousness, and heroism of this people. Marching by will be the mambises, (independence fighters) who the homeland will contemplate with pride, on their horses and with their machetes of liberation.

A replica of the Granma yacht, representing the feat accomplished by those 82 expeditionaries who made possible the dream of national liberation, this time will set sail upon a joyful sea of children, the next generation waving their blue neckerchiefs, with the commitment to be the future and be always at the ready to conquer what is to come.

In tight ranks, four columns of youth will march, representing those brave guerillas who created the Rebel Army; from their blood the new homeland emerged: free, combative, and invincible.

Recalling the epic of Girón and the Literacy Campaign

The epic of Girón, decisive for the nascent revolution, will also be recalled. Parading through the Plaza will be 90 combatants from that heroic battle, representing the Rebel Army, the police, and the newly formed National Revolutionary Militias. The decision to bear any cost necessary for the cause of socialism continues to motivate the millions of Cubans who populate this island.

Today, as well, we remember the Literacy Campaign work done by children and youth, with love and bravery, represented by 90 students from the Enrique José Varona University of Pedagogical Sciences, wearing the uniforms which illuminated this plaza when our people raised the banner proclaiming, before the world, that Cuba was an illiteracy-free territory.

Also marching will be seven blocs of combatants who completed missions in more than 40 nations, where they served as examples of respect for the dignity and sovereignty of the country. The confidence gained in the hearts of these peoples, was the fruit of the impeccable conduct of our soldiers.

Our girls and boys are hope, the most pure essence of the Revolution’s work. Representing all of the country’s children here are young members of La Colmenita, (Children’s theater company) little hardworking bumblebees who share love, peace, and wisdom with their honey.

Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

Under the gaze of José Martí, our troops composed of youth from the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior academies; from the three valuable armies; soldiers, and militias will march, and pay heartfelt tribute to the thousands of combatants who keep the peace and provide tranquility for the Cuban people.

Representing the popular character of the country’s defense, the provincial, municipal, and neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution will parade, along with Production and Defense Brigades and our university militias, who respond to the nation’s call: Present!

The people of Havana, representing all of Cuba, will fill the Plaza de la Revolución with the responsibility to continue struggling for our sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.

Since October 10, 1868

Younger generations, as symbols of life, love, human justice, and Revolution, will demonstrate their commitment to the homeland, our Party, to Fidel and Raúl. We walk these streets with the enthusiasm and the drive that characterize Cuban youth, committed to defending this sky and our only flag.

Since October 10, 1868, Cuban men and women have decided to live in a free, sovereign, independent Cuba. No one can make us forget our history, or the symbols of this people’s resistance.

We make our own the ideas of the historic leader of the Revolution, expressed in the plenary session of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba: “To our sisters and brothers of Latin America and the world, we must convey to you that the Cuban people will triumph … We will set forth on the path and perfect what we must perfect, with absolute loyalty and our forces united, like Martí, Maceo, and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.”

Eternal glory to those who have died for the homeland!

Long live the Cuban Revolution!

Long live Fidel, forever!

Viva Cuba Libre!

Bolivia’s Evo Vows to Fight For World Without ‘Invaders’

 

Source: TeleSUR

1 January 2017

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Evo Morales. | Photo: Reuters

un security council logo.jpgBolivian President Evo Morales delivered his first speech as the country assumes the position of a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said at the Security Council of the United Nations on Sunday that the country will be the voice of the people and will fight for a planet without “invaders” or “invaded” people.

RELATEDUN Praises Bolivia and Evo Morales’ Record on Human Rights

Morales’s words came as Bolivia became a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the third time — the other spanning 1964-1965 and 1978-1979.

The people’s rights to development

He also took to Twitter to send further messages of Bolivia’s hope, writing that the world must “work together to secure the people’s rights to development, and to fight capitalism which tries to commodify everything.”

Bolivia was incorporated as a non-permanent member on Sunday along with Ethiopia, Italy, Kazakhstan and Sweden.

Haiti: The Price of Liberation

Source:  TeleSUR
January 1 2017

“Should I not let it be known to later generations that Alexander Petion is the true liberator of my country?” said Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan leader who liberated South America from Spanish rule, to Alexandre Petion, the first president of Haiti.

haiti the price of liberation.jpgOn Jan. 1, 1804, the French colony of Saint-Domingue became the Republic of Haiti, after over a decade of fighting against French enslavement and colonization. It was the most successful slave rebellion in the Americas and the only revolt of its kind that led to the creation of a state.

RELATED:  Haiti: The Price of Liberation

On Dec. 15, 1815, after his defeat in Carthagena by Spain, the revolutionary Simon Bolivar arrived in Aux Cayes, Haiti. He was seeking the aid of Alexandre Petion, one of the founding fathers of Haiti and the first president of the newly-liberated Black Republic.

simon bolivar 4.jpgSimon Bolivar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 1783.

Petion provided shelter and food for Bolivar and the Venezuelan families and soldiers who had traveled with him after his recent defeat by the Spanish. They recuperated and regrouped under the care of Petion.

Petion provided, among other supplies

According to records, Petion provided, among other supplies, 4,000 rifles, gunpowder, food and a printing press. He also contributed to Bolivar with Haitian military strategists and veterans from the Caribbean nation’s revolution to accompany him on his April 1816 expedition.

In exchange for all the aid that Petion provided for the Bolivarian revolutionary, he asked that the Venezuelan leader free the slaves in all the countries that were to achieve their independence from Spain.

Once again, Spain defeated Bolivar, and once again he returned to Haiti to recuperate and re-arm. This time Petion gave Bolivar shelter and aid, including a new set of ammunition. In Dec. 1816, Bolivar departed to South America to defeat Spain, and this time he succeeded.

Haiti also provided the model for the liberated South American nations

According to “El Libertador: Writings of Simon Bolivar,” a collection of public and private letters of Bolivar, Haiti not only provided material resources but was also the model for the liberated South American nations.

Bolivar structured Bolivia’s first government from the example of Haiti and the Venezuelan constitution was based on the constitution Petion drew up for Haiti. And, of course, he declared slavery illegal in the nascent countries.

Bolivar wrote to Petition that, “In my proclamation to the inhabitants of Venezuela and in the decrees, I have to issue concerning the slaves, I do not know if I am allowed to express the feelings of my heart to your Excellency and to leave to posterity an everlasting token of your philanthropy. I do not know, I say, if I must declare that you are the author of our liberty.”

France demanded 150 million of gold francs in “reparations” from Haiti

Even though, Haiti had freed itself from French colonization and had inspired and supported the Bolivarian nations’ independence from the Spanish, in 1825, France demanded that Haiti pay 150 million of gold francs in “reparations” to former French slaveholders.

RELATED:  The Americas’ Broken Promises to Haiti

Twelve French warships with 500 cannons were stationed along the coast of Haiti, threatening to re-invade and re-enslave the Haitian state. Haiti’s hand was forced. For over a century, Haiti was required to finance the debt, through loans from one French bank, which charged Haiti incredibly high-interest rates.

Haiti made France incredibly rich

French political recognition of Haiti came until 1834. The brutal slavery of Haiti made France incredibly rich. The first independent Black Republic sent shock waves throughout Europe. It was a clear threat to European dominance and stood as a beacon of successful resistance against European colonization, financing the Bolivarian revolutions, and inspiring slave revolts in the United States. Haiti had to be punished. Over the years, this repayment of “independence debt” to their former slave owners, along with foreign-led coups and occupations, left the Haitian economy crippled and impoverished. As British newspaper The Guardian points out, “When the indemnity money Haiti paid France is adjusted for inflation and a minimal interest rate, its value … $40bn.”

To this day, France has refused to pay Haiti back the money it illegally demanded for over a century.

Most Russians Prefer Return of Soviet Union and Socialism: Poll

Source:  TeleSUR
December 24 2016

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Demonstrator holds picture of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics | Photo: EFE

Over 50 percent of Russian citizens believe the collapse of the Soviet Union was bad and could have been avoided.

The majority of Russians polled in a recent study would prefer living under the old Soviet Union and would like to see the socialist system and the Soviet state restored.

OPINION: Fidel Castro Speaks at Cuban Congress, Invokes Communist Spirit

According to the latest poll conducted by the Levada Center, over 50 percent of Russian citizens believe the collapse of the Soviet Union was bad and could have been avoided. Only 28 percent of the population surveyed felt positive about its collapse, while 16 percent were unable to answer such a complex question.

A little more than half of respondents stated that the demise of the Soviet Union could have been prevented, while 33 percent said it was inevitable.

Fourteen percent of respondents see the restoration of the Soviet Union as quite realistic, while 44 percent consider it unfeasible. Thirty-one percent of people said they would not be happy with such a turn of events, however.

WATCH: Rear Window: Soviet Cinema

The center also published that nostalgia for the USSR is at an all-time high since 2000.

This could be tied to the fact that for the first time since the recession era of 2008-2009, Russians are spending more than half of their monthly income on food, according to a study by the Institute of Social Analysis and Forecasting Institute. And state subsidies are minimal.

Back in 2005, Vladimir Putin was reported to have said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the major geopolitical disaster of the (last) century.”

Cuba’s First Computer Factory to Make 120K Units per Year

Source:  TeleSUR
December 24 2016

Cuba has struggled technologically under the economic difficulties caused by the U.S. economic blockade.

cuban computer factory.pngThe factory is owned by the state-run Industrial Company of Informatics, Communications and Electronics, it has a production capacity of 120,000 units per year. | Photo: Cubadebate

Cuba has inaugurated its first factory to produce tablets and laptops in a bid to promote technology and digital literacy on the island.

RELATED:Cuba Delivers Vaccines Against Meningitis to Syrian People

The factory, owned by the state-run Industrial Company of Informatics, Communications and Electronics, has a production capacity of 120,000 units per year.

According to a report by Cuba’s national television, the new factory produces sixth-generation laptops with i3, Celeron and i5 Cores, as well as 8- and 10-inch tablets.

Experts from the University of Computer Science also are part of the project, building the operating systems and computer applications of the new equipment along with the production process. The Chinese company Haier will provide the technology, equipment, and staff training.

With this initiative, Cuba makes a major advance in its technological capacities, which have been severely hampered by the U.S. economic blockade.

RELATED:  US Blockade on Cuba Is ‘Genocidal’

Despite a normalizing of relations between the two countries since President Obama’s March 2016 visit to Cuba, the economic blockade still remains.

Cuba reported earlier this year that the blockade has cost US$753.7 billion over the last six decades, and US$4.7 billion over the last year.

This year, the U.N. General Assembly voted against the U.S. blockade on Cuba for the 25th year in a row.

During the historic 191 to 0 vote, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power announced that, for the first time, the United States would abstain rather than cast a “no” vote.

Bolivia Fights Prison Overcrowding, Pardons 1,800 Prisoners

Source:  TeleSUR
December 25 2016

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Bolivian President Evo Morales. | Photo: Reuters

It is the fourth time President Morales has approved pardons since 2012.

Bolivian President Evo Morales pardoned around 1,800 prisoners Saturday, including pregnant women, handicapped people, inmates with minor sentences and those in custody awaiting trial.

RELATED:  Evo Morales Nominated to Run for Presidency Again in 2019

“The present decree’s aim is to give amnesty and total or partial pardons to people who have been deprived of their liberty,” he told a news conference in the central department of Cochabamba.

It is the fourth time Morales has approved pardons, a measure meant to address the issue of prison overcrowding in the country — there are about 15,000 prisoners in Bolivia, of whom less than a third have been sentenced, according to the official estimate.

Morales said that those pardoned included inmates with sentences of less than five years, one-time offenders, prisoners under the age of 28, single mothers with incarcerated children, prisoners with terminal illnesses as well as people with disabilities.

The decree will not be applied to prisoners convicted of homicide charges, terrorism, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, contraband, corruption, human trafficking, and assault on state officials.

December in Nicaragua – Struggle and Solidarity

Source:  TeleSUR

December 24 2016

By: Tortilla Con Sal

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December has been important in the history of Nicaragua and Sandinismo. | Photo: EFE

An incomplete review offers a glance at why December is such an important month in Nicaragua’s turbulent history.

There are months of the year that for some more or less mysterious reason, or by mere coincidence, are laden with political meaning in Latin American history.

OPINION: Sandino and the Memory of Resistance

December is one of those months, especially in Nicaragua where the fireworks powder burned in the Catholic celebrations to Mother Mary and Christmas, and the pagan festivity of the New Year often blended with the gun smoke of the struggle for national liberation. December for Nicaraguans recalls important years past.

1927
Occupying U.S. troops disembark in Puerto Cabezas, in the Caribbean Coast. With the help of local women workers General Augusto C. Sandino recovers weapons and ammunition the enemy had tried to destroy by dumping them in the sea, enabling him to start his struggle against foreign intervention.

1930
Troops of Sandinista General Miguel Ángel Ortez ambush a patrol of marines in Achuapa, in the department of Leon.

1961

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Along the banks of Rio Coco, in northern Nicaragua, the National Guard hunts down a guerrilla group of 45 young revolutionaries under the leadership of Carlos Fonseca, founder of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

1963

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Guatemala City – Five Sandinistas, among them today’s president Daniel Ortega Saavedra, are arrested and tortured by Guatemalan police and later handed over to Somoza’s National Guard.

1968
The Sandinista movement Revolutionary Students’ Front organized protests against Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit to the country. In Estelí somebody throws a molotov cocktail against a jeep of the dictatorship’s National Guard.

1969
Nicaragua is shaken by the news that guerrillas the dictatorship claimed had been defeated, are indeed alive: Combats are reported in La Virgen in the south and guerrilla activity is detected in Zinica in the north. In Alajuela, Costa Rica, a guerrilla squad of Sandinistas attempts to free from prison FSLN founder, Carlos Fonseca. The action fails, but the Sandinista Front wins the respect of wide sections of society.

1972
On Dec. 23, 1972, a violent earthquake destroys the capital, Managua. Instead of helping the victims, the National Guard plunders their belongings. The FSLN reorganizes its forces and sends many militants to the capital to help people who lost their homes.

1973
The whole month is taken by popular protests against the inhuman treatment given to political prisoners, especially the Sandinistas. University students take to the streets and occupy the churches in various cities demanding the prisoners’ release. Political prisoners in the notorious El Modelo jail start a hunger strike. Their mothers join them.

1974
Three thousand construction workers start a strike demanding unpaid salaries and Social Security registration.

On Dec. 27, the Sandinista squad ‘Juan José Quezada’ seizes the mansion of leading Somocista José María Castillo Quant, taking hostage almost all the diplomatic corps appointed to Managua who had been invited to a party there. The demand of the Sandinistas: Freedom for all political prisoners.

With this successful action, FSLN gains international recognition. The long period of silent strength accumulation is over and a new period of revolutionary offensive begins. Among the released prisoners: Comandante Daniel Ortega.

The regime’s answer to this blow by the Sandinistas was to unleash massive repression declaring martial law. One of the victims of this repression was the recently deceased former president of the National Assembly, René Núñez Téllez, captured by the National Guard and savagely tortured.

1976
On Dec. 9, 1976, Sandinista leader Rufo Marín is killed in Matagalpa. A month earlier the Sandinista leader Carlos Fonseca had been killed not far away, in Zinica.

1977
A month full of combats and struggle against the dictatorship. Ambushes and attacks against the National Guard in the north and also in Managua, occupation of churches by students in the cities, and important political moves under the leadership of the Sandinistas. A broad political spectrum (the Group of the Twelve) announces that no dialogue can be productive without the Sandinista Front. The next day, the Jesuits issue a statement condemning the National Guard’s repression.

Fearing an invasion by Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, Costa Rica asks the Organization of American States (OAS) to enforce the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, against the most loyal U.S. regional watchdog.

In southern Nicaragua, Radio Sandino starts clandestine broadcasts openly defying the regime’s censorship. Via Radio Sandino, a Spanish priest, Gaspar García Laviana, calls for popular unity to combat the dictatorship and announces his membership in the FSLN.

1978
Somoza lifts the martial law.But a Sandinista squad seizes the Nicaraguan-Honduran border post of Las Manos. A year after his appeal on Radio Sandino, Gaspar García Laviana is killed in combat in the southern department of Rivas. Major combats take place in the Southern Front ‘Benjamín Zeledón’ with the participation of important groups of Latin American internationalists. On Dec. 20, fierce combats force the closure of the border with Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, in the cities, popular struggle intensifies. The National Guard fails to evacuate a church in Managua, occupied by students and workers. The broad-based Group of Twelve call for a National Patriotic Front of all those committed to put an end to the dictatorship.

1979-1990
During the revolutionary decade that followed the ouster of Somoza’s regime, December became synonymous with struggle and solidarity. Thousands of youth mobilized at the end of every year in order to help harvest coffee beans in farms mostly located in the war zones. Other thousands joined the reserve battalions or the military draft to fight the Contras.

All over the country, young people sent letters to their families from faraway locations where they were fulfilling revolutionary duties. Cultural brigades visited the most isolated corners of Nicaragua trying to spread joy and warmth in the middle of the war.

On Dec. 13, 1981, the CIA blows up a Boeing 727 of Nicaragua’s national airline Aeronica in Mexico City’s International Airport, injuring both Nicaraguan and Mexican personnel.

In 1982, the government completes expropriation of 75,000 acres of land in Matagalpa, Jinotega, Estelí, Madriz and Nueva Segovia.

In 1983, the CIA’s Contra’s task forces launch one of many failed attempts to seize the town of Jalapa, on the border with Honduras.

In 1986, the Sandinista Popular Army rolls back an invasion of 3,000 U.S. armed Contras from Honduras.

In December 1989, during the U.S. invasion of Panama, with possible invasion imminent, tanks of the Sandinista Army surround the U.S. embassy in Managua.

RELATED:  Remembering Carlos Fonseca, Architect of the Sandinista Revolution

1999
Nicaragua sues Honduras in the International Court of Justice in the Hague over a maritime border treaty signed by the neighboring country with Colombia. 13 years later, in 2012, Nicaragua will recover 90,000 square kilometers of Caribbean Sea from Colombia.

2002
On Dec. 12, the National Assembly unseats former president Arnoldo Alemán, accused of serious fraud, as well as civil and electoral crimes.

2004
On Dec. 10, in California, investigative journalist Gary Webb dies under mysterious gary webb.jpgcircumstances. Webb disclosed how the CIA flooded black U.S. neighborhoods with drugs and laundered money from the Iran-Contra scandal so as to finance the U.S. terrorist war against Nicaragua.

This incomplete review offers a glance at why December is such an important month in Nicaragua’s turbulent history. By contrast, today, December in Nicaragua is above all synonymous with Peace, Community and Solidarity. The government guarantees toys for the children. In municipal parks and other public spaces, Nicaraguan families enjoy the warm Central American evenings without fear of political repression, war or helplessness in the face of natural disasters. All of this is a revolutionary change both from the experiences of the past and from the current experience in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.