Youth from across the world condemn U.S. imperialism

Source:  Granma
October 19 2017

By Lissy Rodríguez, Special correspondent |

October 18 saw the International Anti-imperialist Tribunal, a space created to denounce imperialist crimes, as part of the 19th World Festival of Youth and  Students

cuba at 19th world festival 2.jpgPhoto: Prensa Latina

SOCHI, Russia.– October 18 saw the International Anti-imperialist Tribunal, a space created to denounce imperialist crimes, as part of the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students.

Terrorist acts that the United States has perpetrated against Cuba

The Cuban case was presented by Elián González, who referred to the more than 700 terrorist acts that the United States has perpetrated against Cuba resulting in thousands of dead and injured.

He stressed that subversion on the island involves non-governmental organizations, universities, USAID, counterrevolutionary representatives and Freedom House, considered a vehicle for the work of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. From 1996 through 2015, Elián noted, USAID allocated 284 million dollars to its Cuba program.

The Sahrawi people

Omar Hanesa, representing the Sahrawi people, denounced the illegal Moroccan occupation of their land and demanded justice for the crimes committed against them over decades. He also called for the release of political prisoners sentenced to more than 20 years for defending their people’s cause.

Related:  Cuba Backs Independence for Africa’s Sahrawi People

More than 150 unpunished murders

Similarly, Angela Correa from Colombia denounced the more than 150 unpunished murders of young communists at the hands of government agents in her country, and demanded an observation mission in the face of the avalanche of violence. In addition, she condemned the attacks on Venezuela and the increased military presence in the nine U.S. bases on Colombian soil.

During the day, witnesses from countries such as Brazil and North Korea also lodged their complaints before the Anti-imperialist Tribunal.

Exclusive: Colombian Journalist Pays Alleged Venezuela Official to Lie on Camera

Source:  TeleSUR
September 5 2017

colombian journalist paysScreenshot of Colombia’s Canal Uno interview. | Photo: Canal Uno

The journalist instructed the Venezuelan to talk about ties between top Venezuelan officials and the Soles drug trafficking ring.

Exclusive information obtained by teleSUR implicates a Colombian journalist at a private media outlet in paying for and manipulating information in order to smear the Venezuelan government and top officials.

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Claudia Cano, a journalist with Colombia’s Canal Uno aired an interview with Edgar de Jesus Villanueva, identified as a defector from Venezuela’s Bolivarian intelligence service, or SEBIN. In the broadcast report, Villanueva signals the SEBIN director and socialist leader Diosdado Cabello as taking part in illicit activity, including drug trafficking and torture.

An audio recording

An audio recording, however, suggests that Villanueva’s testimony was directed by Cano and deliberately manipulated.

“We are gonna talk about the Director of the SEBIN and … we are gonna talk about … if he is part or not of the cartel, the famous “Cartel de los Soles,” the woman in the audio, purported to be Cano, is heard saying.

“So you want to me to say that he is part of the Cartel de los Soles,” responds the other party in the recording, who is said to be Villanueva.

“Yeah indeed, I need you to say that he is part of the cartel … together with Diosdado Cabello,” Cano responds.

RELATED:  Journalist paid Venezuelan official to lie about government

Also in the recording, Villanueva says he would be paid 4 million Colombian pesos.

“I will give you 2 million in a little bit when we finish recording,” Cano tells him.

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teleSUR has not been able to obtain a response from Canal Uno at the time of publication, although on Twitter, Cano denied paying anyone, in response to the accusation.

The topic of Venezuela’s political and economic crisis are often top news in Latin America, especially on private media who often portray the situation in as one of an authoritarian government following a failed economic platform.

Venezuelan officials have often denounced this as a deliberate campaign to discredit the government and to foment tensions.

In April, opposition leader began calling for street demonstrations aimed at toppling the government. Over 120 people, including dozens of bystanders, were killed, until the protest violence ended following the Constituent Assembly elections on July 30.

‘We’re a New Party for a New Country’: Colombia FARC Leader Byron Yepes

Source:  TeleSUR
September 1 2017

By: Carla Gonzalez

Byron Yepes.pngByron Yepes during the FARC Congress in Bogota, Colombia. | Photo: Twitter @ByronYepes_Farc

In an exclusive interview, teleSUR spoke with Byron Yepes, member of the Central High Command of the FARC on the future of the organization.

For Byron Yepes, a member of the FARC Central High Command, the group’s congress, which has closed, is key to determining the future of the organization and will revolutionize the way Colombians see politics.

RELATED:FARC’s New Political Party Will End Inequality: Timochenko

Yepes, whose given name is Julian Villamizar, handled some of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia territories, and its finances at one point, and was a key ally to Manuel Marulanda co-founder of the FARC and commander “Mono Jojoy” member of the FARC Secretariat, both killed during the conflict.

Yepes himself was once considered to have been captured and killed in 2010.

“It is the first time we meet with delegates, former FARC fighters, in Bogota in the center of the capital, of what was once a clandestine party,” Yepes told teleSUR from the Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada Convention Center, where the congress was taking place.

At the event’s plenary session the fundamental elements of the party, its political platform, and symbols it will use were all approved.

Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons

The new party, which will now be called the “Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons,” with the same acronym, will seek to participate in all future elections, from small communal councils to municipal elections, and also for legislative seats.

RELATED:Colombia FARC Rebels Want to Form Professional Soccer Club

“We are going to influence politics, with fresh ideas, renewed ideas, with a new party for a new country, Yepes said. “We are going to be an alternative, a change of political traditions in Colombia, a change in the way the political parties act.”

The congress chose its leading members, but Yepes says it is up to them to go to the streets and build the structure of the party.

He says this critical step will include many challenges, work, and mostly a lot of expectations.

For this step, the congress included the participation and input from social organizations from all regions, and from the former transitional zones, which are now called “Territorial Areas of Reconciliation.”

Reflecting the aspirations of the Colombian people

“Our party is a party that collects and reflects the aspirations of the Colombian people, the common people, that is, people who have never had a voice, most of them who have not had opportunities,” Yepes said.

Campesinos, Indigenous people, Afro-descendants, women and workers from across the country met this week as part of delegations.

RELATED: FARC Asks Santos, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, to Stop Inciting War With Venezuela

“There is a good number of former combatants, comrades from different regions, and social organizations that have historically accompanied us throughout the war,” Yepes said. “And throughout the struggle, they have also been on the task of building the party.”

But the challenges to consolidate peace are still a major challenge for FARC members, who have already delivered all their weapons and began their transition into society.

The main criticism, since the signing of the peace agreement on Sept. 27, 2016, in Havana, Cuba, is the slow implementation by the government of Juan Manuel Santos.

To consolidate peace

“The struggle of all Colombians is to consolidate peace, to consolidate the implementation of the agreements because the agreement is not only for us, it is for Colombian society, it will affect the common Colombian people,” Yepes said.

“It will have a concrete impact on political, economic, and social life,” he explained.

But the most crucial part of the agreement is still the Colombian state’s commitment to eliminate paramilitaries and all forms of violence jeopardizing the definitive and permanent peace.

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“The reality is that every day in Colombia we are seeing murders of social leaders, and this should not be the case, the war is over,” Yepes told teleSUR.

Without having the military force as a way to pressure the government, the FARC will now have to seek other mechanisms to ensure that the Santos government complies with its part of the deal.

We are going to take to the streets

“We are going to take to the streets to mobilize with Colombian society, with the Colombian people, to impose on the Colombian regime the fulfillment of the agreements,” he said.

The long-awaited peace in Colombia does not only affect its people but it also has an echo in the rest of the region.

“Latin America has declared several times in different summits, that it has to be a continent free of conflicts,” Yepes said.

“Our continent is a continent that will live in peace, in harmony, in tranquility,” he concluded.

Colombia: Founding congress of the party to replace the FARC-EP underway

Source:  Granma
August 28 2017

by  International news staff |

As a further step in the Colombian peace process, the founding congress of the political party that will replace the FARC-EP began  August 27 2017

colombia FARC first congress of new party.jpgPhoto: Twitter

BOGOTÁ.–The leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), Timoleón Jiménez, inaugurated the founding Congress of the political party that will replace this force, on Sunday, August 27, under the slogan “For a Transitional Government for Reconciliation and Peace.

The event is being held in the Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada Convention Center, in the Colombian capital, with the participation of 1,100 delegates and 200 guests from various sectors of Colombian society.

The opening remarks of the Congress were offered by Alberto Anaya, secretary general of the Mexican Workers’ Party, who welcomed the holding of such an event on behalf of delegates of Latin American leftist organizations.

Fighting in conditions of peace

Anaya noted that after so many decades of struggle, the FARC-EP will continue to fight for its people, but now in the everyday democratic political battle, in conditions of peace.

This first day of the Congress was dedicated to messages of support from guest Colombian and international personalities.

The Congress will continue to session today, in several working commissions, as Andres París, a member of the FARC-EP leadership, told Prensa Latina.

The executive board of this first Congress for the integration of the insurgent force into civilian life is headed by Jiménez, along with commanders Iván Márquez, Solis Almeida and Joaquin Gómez, as well as three women’s representatives of the FARC-EP high command.

The Congress must agree on the name of the new political party to be formed before it concludes on September 1, which according to Márquez, a member of the FARC-EP Secretariat, could be called the Alternative Revolutionary Force of Colombia.

The event will see the election of the party leadership, the approval of its lines of action, and the appointment of the ten delegates who will occupy seats in the Congress of the Republic, five in each chamber, as outlined in the Peace Agreement signed with the Colombian government at the end of 2016 in Havana, after more than four years of talks.

raul for peace.jpg

The Congress will conclude on September 1 with a mass act in the central Plaza Bolívar of the Colombian capital.

The peace process underway has put an end to more than five decades of internal armed conflict in Colombia, which have resulted in 5.7 million displaced persons, 220,000 dead and more than 25,000 disappeared.

Cuba offers 1,000 medical scholarships to Colombia peace process


March 16 2017
Source:  Granma

Cuban Ambassador to Colombia José Luis Ponce informed that the Caribbean nation will grant to the Colombian government and the FARC-EP a fund of 1,000 scholarships to study Medicine in the Island in the next five years

José Luis Ponce.jpg

Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, José Luis Ponce announced the opening of one thousand scholarships for Colombians in Cuba. Photo: Prensa Latina

BOGOTA .- Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, José Luis Ponce, informed that the Caribbean nation will grant to the Colombian government and the FARC-EP a fund of 1,000 scholarships to study Medicine in the Island in the next five years.

The Cuban diplomat made an offer to the Monitoring, Impulse and Verification Commission for the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement (CSIVI), while it was communicated in Bogotá to FARC-EP Secretariat member Iván Márquez and representatives Of the Government to the Commission.

A contribution by Cuba

Ponce explained that the distribution of the scholarships, at a rate of 200 per year -100 for the FARC-EP and 100 for the national executive- will be a contribution by Cuba to the implementation process of the Havana peace agreements and post-conflict peace in Colombia .

Students selected to receive such scholarships would begin in 2017-2018, according to Prensa Latina.

The program will be offered to young demobilized FARC-EP recruits, displaced persons, and other victims of the armed conflict, the latter chosen by the government. 

A pure gesture of humanity

The Embassy of the Republic of Cuba will provide the Colombian government and the FARC-EP with a document detailing the offer, which is being prepared by the Cuban authorities, said the diplomat of the island.

Cuba served as the venue for peace talks between the insurgency and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos for more than four years until 2016, while – along with Norway – served as a guarantor of bilateral talks.

In his Twitter account, Márquez stressed that this contribution of Cuba to the implementation process of the Havana Agreement and post-conflict in Colombia is a pure gesture of humanity.

Thanks to Cuba

To Army General Raúl Castro (President of Cuba), our gratitude for filling Colombia with his love and solidarity and for supporting the peace process and offering doctors, added the insurgent commander.

For her part, Colombian lawyer and excongresista Piedad Córdoba thanked the gesture of Cuba.

Despite being blockaded, the Caribbean country not only has medicine that is among the best in the world, but it is also one of the most supportive, wrote the human rights defender and recognized leader of the Latin American left through his account in the social network Twitter.

Cuba’s great contribution to peace continues: it gives one thousand scholarships to government and guerrilla students, said Senator Iván Cepeda, one of the promoters of talks with the insurgency in the same social network.

Challenges Lie Ahead as Colombia Celebrates Historic Peace Deal

Source:  TeleSUR
August 25 2016

challenges lie ahead.jpg

Colombians in Bogota watch the announcement of the end of negotiations and the text of the final peace deal in Havana, Cuba, Aug. 24, 2016. | Photo: EFE

Colombia has still not launched a peace process with the country’s smaller guerilla army, the ELN.

Colombia has made history in Latin America

Colombia has made history in Latin America with the groundbreaking peace deal between the government and left-wing FARC rebels, but while the over half century-long war is finally over, difficult times still lay ahead to fully realize the promise of peace in the South American nation.

IN DEPTH:  Peace in Colombia

Agreements on six key issues

The nearly four-year peace process in Havana, Cuba, between the 52-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos achieved a landmark deal including agreements on six key issues: agrarian reform, political participation, disarmament and reincorporation of former combatants, illicit drugs, victims’ rights, and implementation of the end of the war.

Chief negotiators from both sides of the conflict, government delegation head Humberto de la Calle and FARC leader Ivan Marquez, signed and spoke about this historic agreement on Tuesday evening in Havana.

The peace deal is not the end, but only the beginning

De la Calle declared that the war is over, and Marquez stressed that the peace deal is not the end, but only the beginning of an ongoing process of building stable and lasting peace.

And while Colombians are celebrating the unprecedented achievement of ending the longest war in the Americas, many are also pointing to the real challenges that lie ahead.

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One of the issues that has not been part of the negotiations in Havana, but many, including the FARC, have frequently stressed as a key part of building peace is the question of ending hostilities between the government and the country’s smaller left-wing guerilla force, the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

Former ELN commander Carlos Velandia, alias Felipe Torres, applauded the announcement of the deal, heralding it as a “new era” that could give a “peaceful” push to “other conflicts” to follow a similar path.

The international community wants Latin America to be a zone of peace

“The war is coming to an end, because the Colombian nation has demanded it, because they’ve understood the parks of the conflict, because the international community wants Latin America to be a zone of peace,” Torres told Colombia’s El Espectador. “This is an achievement that benefits the country, nobody loses, everybody wins.”

The beginning of talks between the ELN and the government have stalled, though the rebel army has said it is open to beginning a process. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has offered to host the process, playing the role that Cuba played in the negotiations with the FARC since 2012.

The importance of a peace process with the ELN

Chief FARC peace negotiator Marquez also reiterated the importance of a peace process with the ELN while speaking in Havana Wednesday.

“We have that the ELN can find a way to approach (the process) so that the peace that we long for will be completed involving all Colombians,” he said.

Another outstanding question as the FARC and government unveil the historic agreement is what will happen to Simon Trinidad, a senior FARC leader jailed in a “supermax” prison in the United States.

IN DEPTH: Who is Simon Trinidad?

Unjust imprisonment of Simon Trinidad

Trinidad was extradited to the U.S. in 2004 on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering under the watch of former far-right President Alvaro Uribe, who opposes the new peace deal. Leaked cables have show his extradition request was concocted, as the U.S. did not have any pending charges against the high-ranking FARC leader. He is now serving a 60-year sentence in solitary confinement.

USA’s role in perpetuating the war

The FARC has long argued that freedom for Simon Trinidad is a cornerstone in securing peace and reintegrating demobilized rebels into society. Speaking on Wednesday, Marquez singled out the U.S. for its role in perpetuating the war and indicated that Trinidad is still on the movement’s agenda even though negotiations in Havana have ended.

“To the government of the United States, which for so long supported the state war against the guerilla and against social non-conformity, we ask that you continue backing in a transparent way the Colombian efforts to restore peace,” he said. “We await Simon Trinidad.”

Ahead of the much-anticipated announcement of the final deal, FARC negotiator Jesus Santrich wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday, “I recall that the FARC designated Simon Trinidad as the coordinator of the process of laying down of arms.”

The 297-page final agreement makes no mention of Simon Trinidad.

The historic deal is set to be put to a vote on Oct. 2 to ratify the agreement with Colombian society by asking voters whether or not they accept the peace accords with the FARC.

‘The War Is Over’: FARC and Colombian State sign final peace deal

Source:  TeleSUR
August 24 2016

The final text of a peace agreement will now be put to a popular vote.

the war is over.jpg

Ivan Marquez and Humberto de la Calle shake hands while Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez looks on, after signing a final peace deal in Havana, Cuba | Photo: Reuters

The final text of a peace agreement will now be put to a popular vote.

In a landmark moment in Colombia’s history, the peace delegations of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s left-wing FARC rebels gathered Wednesday evening to announce the end of negotiations and the imminent signing of a final peace accord in Havana, Cuba, after nearly four years of negotiations between the two sides of the conflict.

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Cuban President Raul Castro oversees the handshake between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez (R), Sept 2015.  Photo Archive

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The opportunity of a new path

The two sides of the negotiating table have spent the last several days reviewing the final text, which will be put to a popular vote before it can be put into effect.

“The war is over,” said government’s representative Humberto de la Calle. However, “We should not just celebrate the silence of the guns, but the opportunity of a new path.”

“I am certain now that this is the best agreement possible,” he continued. “But the Colombians will judge. We have to wait with humility for the opinion of the citizenry.”

A new chapter, the battle of ideas

The FARC’s representative Ivan Marquez said the final deal marks a new chapter in Colombia’s history. “Now can start the battle of ideas,” he said. “The peace deal is a point of departure, not of closure, toward the social transformations demanded by the masses.”

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos had the last word, saying from the Colombian capital: “Today ends the pain, suffering, this great national hope has become reality.”

The head of state insisted that the text of the final agreement was “definitive,” and could not be modified.

We don’t want one more victim in Colombia

“From the beginning, one principle ruled the negotiations: nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Today, at last we can say that everything has been agreed,” he added.

“We don’t want one more victim in Colombia,” added from Havana Dag Nylander, a peace guarantor from Norway, which along with Cuba has been helping moving the peace process along. “A new chapter of Colombia’s history is opened,” he said, with the final deal allowing for “more social inclusion, especially of those who have been excluded and historically more affected by the conflict.”

The historic deal will mark the end of 52 years of armed internal conflictbetween government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, founded in 1964 on Marxist demands for agrarian reform and rights for rural communities. The conflict is the longest-running civil war in Latin America.

Peace, a right of Colombian citizens

Peace, Cuban peace guarantor Rodolfo Benitez noted, is guaranteed as a right of Colombian citizens in their nation’s constitution, something that has eluded the South American nation for the last five decades.

“The sum of the partial agreements reached so far are contributing to compliance with the rights and duties guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Benitez, including the fundamental rights of campesinos, Afro-Colombians and Indigenous communities. The final deal, he continued, “means to address the root causes of the conflict: land, property, (and) exclusion of campesinos, affecting especially women and children.”

Serious agrarian reform

The final agreement revealed Wednesday calls for serious agrarian reform to address inequality in the FARC’s poor, rural strongholds. It also calls to allow new political forces to address the issues that initially led the FARC to take up arms, and guarantees the safety of those who elect to drop those arms to participate in politics.

The agreement also calls to protect human rights activists and labor organizers who have been targeted by right-wing paramilitaries; promoting alternatives to illicit drug production; providing reparations for victims of violence on all sides; and creating a commission, including representatives from the government and the FARC, to monitor the implementation alongside the United Nations.

Four years of negotiations in Havana

The announcement will bring an end of nearly four years of negotiations in Havana, launched in 2012. FARC leaders will now take the agreement back to their camps to share their information with their ranks, which is highly-anticipated to be the last such FARC conference with armed rebels before the group transitions into a non-military political movement in accordance with the peace agreement.

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Negotiators have already reached and announced landmark partial agreements related to five central matters: political participation, end of the conflict, transitional justice, agrarian reform, and crop substitution for illicit coca crops. The announcement of a bilateral cease-fire deal in June was widely celebrated as signaling the end of the war.

Democratic legitimacy

The vote on the final peace agreement is expected to take place on Oct.2 and is aimed at giving democratic legitimacy to the peace agreement. Electoral authorities will determine whether public funds will finance the campaigns in favor and against the peace deal.

To pass, the majority of 4.5 million Colombian voters, a 13 percent participation threshold, need to vote “Yes” in the plebiscite. In the unlikely event that the deal is voted down, it would not mean that aspects of the peace agreement would be renegotiated, but it could frustrate the implementation of the deal. The government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said recently that it would bea “huge mistake” to try to reopen negotiations with the FARC and that Colombian society would have little to gain from such a move.

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Far-right former president opposes peace

Santos and the FARC evidently support a “Yes” vote in the plebiscite. Far-right former president and current Senator Alvaro Uribe, whose presidency saw record level of human rights violations and people fleeing the country as refugees, has been pushing for a “No” vote. According to a recent Gallup poll, of the half of the population that had made up their mind on how they will vote, 67.5 percent are expected to vote in favor of ratifying the final peace deal, while 32.5 percent would vote against it.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Radio Caracol reported that most issues have been resolved. “Both parts agreed to design a new proposal for a more sensible reinsertion for the FARC fighters, while the government committed to present an amnesty bill,” the outlet reported.

The FARC argues that the end of the war is the beginning of peace and a process of reconciliation to unite “two Colombias,” one of which represents the marginalized groups that have suffered most under the armed conflict.

Colombia’s over five-decade civil war has killed over 220,000 victims and uprooted some 6.3 million people, making it home to the second largest population of internally displaced peoples in the world after Syria.