Cuba: Return of fallen internationalists commemorated

Source: Granma

Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland

Author: Pedro Ríoseco | internet@granma.cu

december 7, 2021 11:12:53

All the country’s cities received the remains of their prodigal sons, and honored to them in Pantheons of the Fallen established in all municipalities. Photo: Liborio Noval

Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland, in an effort entitled Operation Tribute.
All the country’s cities received the remains of their prodigal sons, and honored to them in Pantheons of the Fallen established in all municipalities.
General Antonio Maceo’s mausoleum, in El Cacahual, hosted the symbolic national ceremony with the remains of 16 internationalists, one from each provinces and the Isle of Youth special municipality, on the date when the Titan and his faithful assistant Panchito Gomez Toro fell in battle against the Spanish colonialists.
“These men and women, to whom we give an honorable burial today, in the warm land where they were born, died for the most sacred values, they died fighting against colonialism and neocolonialism, racism and apartheid, plundering and exploitation of the peoples of the Third World, for independence and sovereignty, for the right to wellbeing and development of all peoples, for socialism, for internationalism, for the revolutionary and dignified homeland that Cuba is today,” said Fidel at that time, reaffirming the commitment follow their example.
Of these internationalists, 2,085 were participating in military missions in the defense of the nascent independence of the People’s Republic of Angola, and 204 took on civilian tasks, as part of the 377,033 Cuban volunteers who fought in that country during the 15 and a half years of Operation Carlota.
The Cuban government always informed families of the death of each internationalist (in combat, due to accidents or illness), but it was impossible, in the middle of the war, to repatriate their corpses and bury them in their hometowns. But the Revolution did not forget any of its sons and daughters, and to fulfill that humanitarian commitment, Operation Tribute was organized.
As Army General Raul Castro Ruz said on December 12, 1976, “From Angola we will take with us only the intimate friendship that unites us to that heroic nation, the gratitude of its people and the mortal remains of our dear brothers and sisters who fell in the line of duty.” And so it was.

Slavery ended in Haiti, not Europe

Source: Bitlove.com

When Great Britain’s leaders convened in court to end the slave “trade” in 1807, they began a journey toward the 1833 abolition, (leaving Africans tied to a 4 year unpaid internship and a long way from civil rights). Many a white abolitionist or philosopher made profound statements about the “rights of man” that were heralded as the “moral capital” of the British. Backs were patted that had never felt the weight of a whip.

This capital would later be leveraged to encourage Portugal, Spain, and France to follow suit, and end their own Transatlantic slave trade. The story of African emancipation hardly involves Africans at all. History books bloated with the importance of white men still leave many black people wincing. But what had changed for these white men? Why did centuries of slavery suddenly go out of fashion followed by little improvement to the rights of African people?

Well, most of the story is missing. Haiti had just been born in a ball of fire and blood. When the dust settled, the rewards of slavery were scarred by resistance and indisputable black strength. The British were not proactive, but reactive.

Saint-Domingue (Haiti) was the jewel of the French crown, the heartland of colonial sugar production. To run this operation Africans were imported in their millions. Over ¼ of the transatlantic slave trade was destined for the Caribbean Islands. Many of the people enslaved during this period were captured as adults so their culture, experience and the spirit of freedom travelled with them.

French rule in Saint-Domingue was therefore despicable. Any small resistance was punished with enough brutality to inspire bone shuddering terror. Long, slow, public executions were carried out often.

Africans would find relief by sneaking out into the forests at night to hold ritual gatherings. Around the circle stood diverse people from different regions, cultures and languages, all united. There, the people who had been the most deeply oppressed found a source of inner strength.

On one August night in 1791 the sugar fields were torched, mansions were stormed upon and 14 long years of slave led resistance began.

The French sent their armies and they were defeated. Hopeful to expand their territories the Spanish and British sent their armies too. They were all defeated repetitively. The new emperor Napoleon then devised a false partnership to deceive the rebels and captured their most honourable leader, Touissant L’ouverture. The revolution continued without him.

Then, in 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte set his sights on two conquests: Saint-Dominique and Spanish controlled Louisiana. Napoleon sent 50,000 troops to the Caribbean island and planned to send a smaller army of 20,000 to Louisiana (which was more than the entire American army at that time).

With Touissant L’ouverture locked away in France, Napoleon was convinced he would win, boldly stating “No more gilded Africans,” “enslave them all”. In two years the gilded Africans had won and (near to bankruptcy), Napoleon begrudgingly diverted the further 20,000 troops to Saint-Domingue where the slave rebellion defeated him yet again.

The Louisiana deal, a proud moment in Jefferson’s formation of the United States (and the claim to ¼ of modern USA) would not have happened if it weren’t for the African slave armies of Saint-Domingue stopping Napoleon’s attack. The US owes its own liberation to enslaved Africans. If only that gratitude could have been felt, American history might look very different.

In 1804 Saint-Domingue declared itself a sovereign state and the revolution ended. The ‘slave rebellion’ named itself Haiti. This was a word used to honour the native people. Oral histories suggested that this is what the Taino people had named the land before the Spanish arrived and slaughtered them.

So with a new name honouring a time before conquest and a noble constitution, Haiti broke the paradigm of African subordination. “There cannot exist slaves on this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free.”

Slave owners around the world were struck by fear for their lives. Refugees from the many years of fighting had dispersed around the Americas and took their stories with them. New slave insurrections started with increased ferocity and 3 years later Britain stopped the imports of slaves but not the practice of slavery. Perhaps this was in the hope that stories of revolution wouldn’t travel too.

In conclusion, it’s clear; people who shape history are not the ones who sit and pontificate in prestigious rooms. People shape history by turning their face toward the impossible when they decide that what’s possible is no longer good enough. We can all do this, every single day, and we must do it in our own lives, for our own world.

Whatever racial heritage we have, we must honour Haiti for redefining what’s possible and demonstrating the ferocious power of self-liberation. French troops kissed the soil of their revolutionary homeland goodbye just to arrive in a place where black people were singing the same songs of freedom. The many hypocrisies of Europeans sat with those poor individuals as they slowly succumbed to malaria.

What do you stand for? What will you stand up for? And how can you channel great courage in the name of freedom to improve your life? The deception runs deep but your power runs deeper.

A 75th anniversary salute to Vietnam’s August Revolution

Source: Workers’ World

August 21, 2020

We live in tumultuous times, and it is during times like this that we as socialists must look to the struggles and successes of our predecessors to give us inspiration to continue our struggle. As a Vietnamese-American, I take heart in remembering the struggles of my people in their fight for independence from colonial and imperialist powers. August 19 is a special day, for it marks the 75th anniversary of the Vietnamese August Revolution!

On this day in 1945, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh (aka League for the Independence of Vietnam), my people organized uprisings and demonstrations throughout Vietnam, with the Viet Minh eventually seizing the city of Hanoi.

Viet Minh troops enter Hanoi, 1945

Comrade Ho then declared independence for the newly formed Democratic Republic of Vietnam on Sept. 2, 1945. However, the French colonizers were not going to just allow their imperial holdings to remain free without a fight; in the early months of 1946, they arrived back in the country with full military force to re-establish control, causing the Vietnamese people to launch the French Resistance War.

For almost ten long, bloody years, my people fought against the invaders, until eventually the Viet Minh struck the final blow against the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, ending the war. However, the test for the newly independent socialist nation had only just begun, because as soon as the French left, U.S. imperialists took their place.

Thus began what is often called the Vietnam War, a conflict we Vietnamese call “the War of American Aggression.” (A much more fitting name, if I do say so myself.) For nearly 20 more years the brave Vietnamese, under the leadership of the National Liberation Front, fought against the most powerful military force in the world, and by 1975, declared victory as the last of the U.S. imperialists were driven out.

Why is this important, besides celebrating such an important day in the history of our Vietnamese comrades? The answer is simple: we struggle every day here “in the belly of the beast,” as Che Guevara put it, fighting for the freedom of the working class at the very imperial core. Times are tough now, but when we look at our past as socialists and see the example the Vietnamese people—my people—set for us, we should take heart. Our struggle continues, just as theirs did against the French and U.S. imperialists.

And just like my people, we will win!

Our Party has never failed to play a leading role in every struggle, every accomplishment

Events on August 16-17, 1925, forever marked Cuba’s destiny. On these dates, a group of courageous men founded our first Communist party, the indispensable link between patriotic thinking of the 19th century, fundamentally that of Martí, and the ideals of social emancipation of later eras.

Author: Ángel Freddy Pérez Cabrera | freddy@granma.cu

August 20, 2020

Events on August 16-17, 1925, forever marked Cuba’s destiny. On these dates, a group of courageous men founded our first Communist party, the indispensable link between patriotic thinking of the 19th century, fundamentally that of Martí, and the ideals of social emancipation of later eras. They understood the value of continuity.

Two exceptional Cubans played a key role in the Party’s founding, Carlos Baliño and Julio Antonio Mella.

The first was a member of a patriotic generation that took to the scrub to wage an armed struggle against Spanish colonialism, and an unconditional friend of José Martí, with whom he founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party, the new organization’s valuable predecessor; while the young Mella, at only 22 years of age, represented the best of the generation that would give continuity to the struggles of Céspedes, Agramonte, Gómez, Maceo and Martí.

The principal mission of these visionary individuals, upon establishing the Party and joining the Third International founded by Vladimir I. Lenin in 1919, was to set about developing a program of demands for workers and campesinos; work actively in trade unions; and defend the rights of women and youth.

This was a difficult era and, on a daily basis, Cuban revolutionaries faced the iron fist of dictator Gerardo Machado, who organized brutal repression of the newly founded organization. The Party’s elected first secretary, José Miguel Pérez, was forced into exile, while other members, like Mella, faced trumped-up charges for crimes they did not commit.

But the nascent organization continued its work valiantly, with the leadership of individuals of the stature of Rubén Martínez Villena and others.

With the world stage dominated by the historic struggle against fascism and the creation of popular anti-imperialist fronts, the Party, known at that time as the Revolutionary Communist Union and later the Popular Socialist Party, defended the people’s rights in the bourgeois parliament.

No less important was its work during the struggle against the Batista dictatorship, under very dangerous conditions, with most efforts carried out underground.

After the triumph of the Revolution, January 1, 1959, under the leadership of Fidel and Blas Roca, a process began to unify the Party and the two political organizations that had carried the most weight in the revolutionary struggle against Batista – the July 26th Movement and the Revolutionary Directorate.

Thus, in 1961, the three groups merged to form the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI), as the antecedent to the constitution in 1963 of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC), which on October 3, 1965, adopted the name it has maintained to date, the Communist Party of Cuba.

Since then, our Party has never failed to play a leading role in every struggle, every accomplishment, as the vanguard of Cuban society during the most important moments the nation has faced.

If the Party has earned one merit in its history, it is to have preserved the nation’s unity, which has allowed us to confront persecution, genocidal blockades, wars, and threats of all kinds – and emerge victorious.

For this and other reasons, Fidel described the Party as the soul of the Cuban Revolution, as the organization that synthesizes the dreams and aspirations of a people over more than 100 years of struggle.

Today, as the homeland faces new challenges as a result of the pandemic that is ravaging the world and affecting us, as well, aggravating the impact of the vicious U.S. blockade, the Communist Party of Cuba stands firm and guarantees the historic continuity of the Revolution.

Burundi demands $43bn reparations for colonialism

Source: Africadiplomatic.com

Burundi wishes Belgium and Germany to pay $43 billion in reparations for harm done during decades of colonial rule.

The move follows similar calls for compensation by the Democratic Republic of Congo after Belgian King Philippe in June offered his “deepest regrets” over his nation’s colonial past in the Congo

Burundi also intends to recuperate from Belgium and Germany the archival material and objects expropriated between 1899 and 1962, Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo told senators in the capital, Gitega, on Thursday, August 13. In 2018, the Senate appointed a panel including historians and anthropologists to investigate the impact of colonialism rule on the nation.

Much of Burundi’s present-day political challenges can be traced back to a decree by Belgian King Albert I to classify the population along three ethnic groups, according to Aloys Batungwanayo, a historian and doctoral researcher at the Lausanne University.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Batungwanayo said in the commercial hub Bujumbura, Bloomberg reports.

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirrred the debate about racism in the West, and in the sub-Saharan Africa much of the experts has focused on the legacy of colonialism.

The demands of reparations conicided with the request of the Council of Ministers of the East Africa Comminity (EAC) to Burundi to disburse the outstanding budgetary contributions ($6.5 million) by September 15, to enable the EAC organs and Institutions discharge their mandate.

The East Africa Community’s 41st Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers was held on August 4, under the chairmanship of Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Vincent Biruta. “The Secretariat as well as the other organs and institutions are already experiencing liquidity challenges,” said Mr Biruta in the report. “A number of providers of goods and services need to be paid. Some activities are being put on hold until the partner states disburse the outstanding contribution.”

Haiti Marks Independence Anniversary Day Amid Deepening Crisis

Source:  TeleSUR
January 1 2020

Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state.Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish
itself as a modern and stable state. | Photo: Reuters

Over 4.5 million Haitians, almost half of the population, will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020, the United Nations warned. 

Haiti celebrated Wednesday its 216th independence day in the midst of political turmoil and a profound social and economic crisis.

RELATED: Hundreds of Haitian Children Fathered, ‘Left in Misery’ by UN Peacekeepers: Report 

The government of President Jovenel Moise has been facing nationwide protests calling for its removal after scandals emerged involving the head of state along with other officials in cases of severe corruption, and after fuel shortages, dwindling food supplies, and mismanagement of public funds further plunged the impoverished country in one of its worst economic and social crisis in years.

To mark the day of independence, Moise gave a speech and denounced graft, urging Haiti’s elite to work with the government.

“We’re still extremely poor,” he said at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, adding that “those who continue to get rich find it normal that they do not pay taxes, find it normal that there can be no competition, find it normal that they set prices for consumers, especially when this consumer is the state itself.”

The world’s first black-led republic

Moise’s speech marked 216 years since the Caribbean nation gained its independence and became the world’s first black-led republic, forcing France to surrender its colonial rule over the slave-driven plantation formerly known as Saint-Domingue.

Led by Toussaint-Louverture, who declared the abolition of slavery, former slaves fought against France between 1791 and 1804 when General Jean-Jaques Dessalines finally defeated French forces and declared independence, reviving the island’s native name: Ayiti.

Haiti’s problems, however, which can be traced back a long way, have only been getting worse since its birth as a Republic.

The country has been fighting and struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state, but it has been mercilessly punished, used, and exploited by the West, making a sustained political, social and economic development almost impossible.

Illegitimate debt imposed by France

The island was, for instance, burdened with an illegitimate debt imposed by France in exchange for lifting a naval and diplomatic blockade. The former colonial power demanded that Haiti pay 150 million gold francs in “reparations” to former French slaveholders. According to several estimates, that was 10 times the country’s yearly revenue.

For over a century, Haiti was required to finance the debt, hampering the possibility to invest in infrastructure, social services, and industrial development.

19-year-long occupation by the United States

It wasn’t until 1947 that Haiti was finally capable of paying compensation to slaveholders and human traffickers. By then, it had already suffered a 19-year-long occupation by the United States (1915 – 1934), during which racial inequalities were exacerbated.

In 2004, Haiti officially demanded France to pay back the money, stressing that it was a “grave injustice” that prevented Haiti from developing as fast as other countries. France has so far rejected any possibility of paying back the illegitimate debt it claimed from Haiti.

And as Haitians commemorate one more year of independence, it seems there is little to celebrate as the United Nations (U.N.) estimates that more than 4.5 million Haitians representing almost half of the population will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020. Among the most vulnerable, about 60 percent are women and more than 45 percent are children.

“One in three Haitians needs urgent food aid, that is 3.7 million people, a significant increase compared to 2.6 million people at the end of 2018. If no immediate action is taken, between March and June 2020, 1.2 million people will be able to eat a meal every two days and around 2.8 million people will be able to eat a single meal a day, “ U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, expressing that a worsening economic crisis is the last thing Haitians need, given the poor quality of life in the island.

The Helms-Burton is not applicable in Cuba

Source: Granma
May 17 2019

by: Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu

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

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

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

A violation to Cuba’s sovereignty

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

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

No negotiation under coercion

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

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

Cubans are governed by our own laws

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

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

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

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

A mockery of international norms

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

The implementation of its Title III

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caribbean Heroes Park Inaugurated in Cuba

Sources: radioreloj.cu & minrex.gob.cu

April 26 2019

.- The monument to the heroes of the Caribbean reflects the dedication of the martyrs who fought for a free and sovereign Caribbean, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Rogelio Sierra said.

caribbean heroes park inauguratedDuring the inauguration of the Caribbean Heroes Park in Havana, with the presence of First Vice-President Salvador Valdes Mesa, Sierra added its coherence and interests identify the unity of our region.

The diplomat recalled that January 1, but of different centuries, is a symbolic date for the Caribbean because it marks the triumph of the Haitian Anti-slave Revolution and the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel.

The President of the National Assembly of People´s Power, Esteban Lazo; Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, and the First Secretary of the party in Havana, Jose Antonio Torres Iribar attended the inauguration of the Caribbean Heroes Park.

Members of the Caribbean and Latin American diplomatic corps accredited in Cuba, ministers, representatives of national agencies and institutions closely linked to the Caribbean, members of the Caribbean Association of Cuba and the Chair of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana also participated, as well as a large representation of students from the 14 member states of the Caribbean Community.

During the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rogelio Sierra Díaz, referred to the importance of the event, and highlighted the historic bonds of solidarity, brotherhood and gratitude that unite Cuba and the Caribbean. The Vice Chancellor highlighted “today we inaugurate a work that symbolizes the courage and commitment of those who made the independence and sovereignty of our peoples possible”.

The Ambassador of Grenada, Hon. Ms. Theresa Clair Clarice Charles, Dean of the Caribbean diplomatic corps, underscored the current relevance of CARICOM-Cuba relations, while thanking the Cuban government and people for their solidarity and cooperation throughout more than 40 years of exchanges. In her words, she said “we are grateful that Cuba has designed and built this monument, it is an imperishable symbol of our historical relations.”

Dr. Eduardo Torres Cuevas, President of the Academy of Cuban History and Director of the José Martí National Library, explained to the audience the symbolism of the sculptural work dedicated to the Caribbean heroes and said “this monument depicts unity. By building this park we are crowning a symbol that reflects all the intensity and capacity of our peoples. ”

As part of the ceremony Mr. Ellsworth John, Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,  and Mr. Rogelio Sierra Díaz, the Cuban Vice-Chancellor, laid a wreath before the monument that pays tribute to the Caribbean heroes.

Cuba established diplomatic relations with the first four Caribbean countries on December 8, 1972. Since then, relations have been positive and have deepened from historical ties, based on the principles of solidarity, brotherhood and gratitude.

The Park of the Caribbean heroes pays tribute to personalities symbolizing the solidarity and bravery of the Caribbean peoples in their struggles against colonialism and for independence.

Benin to the British: Return the artefacts stolen from us in 1897!

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

edofest benin.jpeg

The Edo State government has intensified call for the return of artefacts stolen from Benin Kingdom by the British colonialists in 1897, with an exhibition of photographs of the prized artworks and their locations in Europe and America. 

benin ivory mask

Unveiling the photographs inside a gallery at the palace of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, at the ongoing Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said that the state government would continue to advocate for the return of the stolen artefacts.

He explained that the state government chose the Edo Festival for Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) event to scale up the campaign, in order to reach more people with the message, adding that “the artefacts represent part of the Benin history.”

He noted that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made provision for N500 million in the 2019 budget of the state, for the establishment of a Benin Royal Museum in collaboration with the Oba Palace, where the artefacts would be kept on return.

Prof. Greg Akenzua commended the organisers of the photo exhibition, and disclosed that the palace of the Benin Monarch, was working with 13 museums to establish the Benin Royal Museum in the state.He maintained that the call for the return of looted artefacts across the world was gaining traction, citing the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has promised that his country would return some of the stolen artefacts to their original owners.

“We are working with 13 museums who have agreed to work with us in the establishment of the Royal Museum. We have set a timeline of three years to put the structures on ground,” Prof. Akensua added.

Dr. Lutz Mukke, a German journalist and academic, who took the photographs of the looted Benin artefacts, said the photographs were the result of his journalistic investigation into the looted Benin artefacts at different museums around the world.

He disclosed that up to 90 per cent of the important cultural artefacts were taken away from Africa, and suggested that a “new deal” between Africa and the Western world was needed to fast-track the return of the stolen artefacts.

He maintained the stolen Benin artefacts numbering 4,000 to 6,000 could be found in about 60 Western museums with the biggest collections in the British Museum in London, Ethnographical Collections in Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

He also said that the German government has called on all public museums housing about 1000 looted Benin artefacts to return them.

“The photographs shown in the exhibition are from the museums in Boston and New York in the United States of America; Vienna in Austria; Stockholm in Sweden, Con Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Leipzig in Germany and London, United Kingdom.

“The artefacts are of course priceless as cultural heritage, but that does not mean we should forget their pure money value. The stolen Benin artefacts are estimated to be $1 billion” Mukke said

Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

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