A moral bastion named Cuba

Source:  Granma
March 9 2018

Photo: Alainet

IN any emotional or intellectual assessment (together or separately) that we make of Latin America and the Caribbean, we will find Cuba as an inevitable reference and representing an unpayable debt. Many political, intellectual or artistic figures, in their life and work, have an original reference point in Cuba. Those of us who grew up with the Revolution, who knew of it through victories and setbacks, have the special benefit of its ethics, of the resistance expressed in all its battles. Cuba taught us the importance of being and acting as a revolutionary, no matter what. No matter, even, the differences or the similarities. Cuba was and Cuba is there, always steadfast.

The “Latin American left” is unimaginable without the influence, unequal and combined, that Cuba implies on attempting to understand the continental present and the tasks of the immediate future. The “Great Homeland” is inconceivable without the revolutionary brilliance of Cuba at the decisive hours for continental unity and in the crucial hours of “individual” struggles.

It is not only the figure of Fidel (who alone constitutes a monumental legacy of theory and practice), it is not only the role of Raúl, as strategist and supporter of a thousand tasks; it is not only Camilo and Che with their straightforward didactic action… it is also the “Casa de las Américas,” the Agrarian and the Urban Revolutions. It is the Revolution of Health and Education, the Revolution of Science, the Revolution of Philosophy, the Revolution of Poetry and Song. The resistance and the intelligence to live life with dignity. And none of this without debates, doubts or reconsiderations.

Thus, we learned that love for Cuba (among other “requirements”) includes hatred of the blockade; that we cannot speak of Cuba without a precise evaluation of what it has lost through the “embargo” (what has been snatched away from it in the objective and subjective senses). One can’t, one shouldn’t, speak of Cuba without a correct estimate of the moral value that, house-to-house, facing all adversities and defending in an organized manner the revolutionary praxis against any economic, political, or media offensive represents; which have not ceased, not even for a second, since the triumph of the Revolution with its “bearded men.”

In addition, under harassment of all kinds, Cuba developed its democratic project, determined to set its own parameters and to stake its political life by differentiating itself from all hegemonic formats and the certain stubborn incapacity of some to understand other forms of democratic life, in concrete historic conditions, without the predominant formulas. The shrapnel of some “friendly fire” has also rained over this. In any case, it is an open debate… as it should be.Principio del formulario

When talking about the Cuban economy, all sorts of valuations, speculations and errors converge. Together or separately. Some with certain doctoral superiority, feel authorized to deploy their remote-controlled recipes to become the self-proclaimed Messiahs of perfect solutions. On the other side of the irrationality, there abound those who dream of a “wide open” Cuba, surrendering its sovereignty and socialist principles. There is no shortage of “middle ground,” appeasing or conciliatory terms, that suppose the possibility of a little capitalism and a little socialism to offer a moderate cocktail spiked with illusions and trickery.

But it is the power and prerogative of the Cuban people to explore and try all sorts of solutions that, in the concrete conditions and without becoming accustomed to them, guarantee the indispensable requirements for a good and dignified life, without renouncing principles and without abandoning the struggle for socialism. “With the Revolution, everything. Against the Revolution, nothing.” And with the empire just a few kilometers away.

A beloved Revolution

So one can not, and should not, remain indifferent, or just expectant, before the Cuban electoral process, with all that it implies and all that it involves. It is, although some don’t know it and others don’t want it to be, also a process of continental and historic transcendence, which demands clear attention and solidarity of the peoples from every corner of the globe, and even the exemplary hearts of the revolutionary people of Cuba.

A grassroots political agreement is required to explain, step by step, what is happening (and will happen) in Cuba, and organized communicational action is essential to let Cubans know how we feel and experience their crucial decisions, with the magnitude and the validity of the Cuban Revolution. A beloved Revolution, which is also ours.

The only valid expression for Cuba is the internationalist and energetic participation of the workers, of its people. Their unabated, direct intervention in the problems that arise, and the strengthening of the forces and instruments to organize themselves, always based on advanced training methods. Giving the assemblies, workers’ and district councils renewed vigor, without privileges or bureaucracy.

The deepening of democracy

The deepening of a living, direct democracy, exercised as an expression that sculpts history and the Party, so as not to be reduced to the mere choice of people and circumstances. That the people govern themselves, massively and transparently, in periodic elections and with a dynamic program capable of being permanently perfected, based on their methods. Democracy against the blockade and the errors, the dialectical democracy of a cultural and educational Revolution, converted into suffrage and vice versa; a participatory and protagonic democracy of permanent scrutiny at all levels. Serious and organized consultation in all areas of the political economy and the systematic practice of collective will.

Cuba is a permanent insurrection of dignity transformed into a serene, advisory didactic of ideas and invigorating action. It is a bridge extended between the Revolution of a people who have decided to be free, and the struggles that view themselves in its mirror image to advance their rebellions.

Cuba is bigger than the blockade, than all blockades, because it built itself on its own historic foundations in order to perpetuate its stubborn renovation of the future. Because, despite what has been said, despite it all, despite the attacks and the abuses, there is Cuba with its Socialist flag dancing and saluting in the wind, in the face of history and hand in hand with the peoples who, with the poor of the Earth, have decided to try their luck. Iron will, sister Cuba, moral bastion ready for the fight. •

How is the President elected in Cuba?

Source:  Granma
February 21 2018

By Yudy Castro Morales  internet@granma.cu

The person who becomes the President of Cuba’s Council of State is chosen through a process that entails several steps, with the people and their elected representatives participating directly.

The vote is an act that is more delicate that any other,
since with it comes life, honor, and the future
— José Martí

how is the president elected in Cuba.jpg

Photo: Granma

There is no need to dig through Cuba’s Election Law no.72, dated October 29, 1992, to find the answer. It is explicit, and Dr. José Luis Toledo Santander, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission, gets right to the point.

“The President of Cuba’s Council of State is elected in second order elections, that is, deputies elected by the people, in representation of the people, approve the candidature and then vote, in a direct and secret fashion, for those who will make up the Council of State – that is the President, First Vice President, the Vice Presidents, the Secretary, and other members.”

At times we hear opinions, not always offered with the best of intentions, that question, according to Dr. Toledo, “whether the election of the President reflects a direct expression by the people. But they are unaware that for someone to be elected to this position in Cuba, several electoral steps are required, in which the people or their elected representatives participate directly.”

During his conversation with Granma, Toledo, also a professor at the University of Havana, outlined the particularities of each stage in the process, so that we can visualize the path that begins, he explains, when the person “is proposed as a pre-candidate for deputy to the National Assembly, in a mass organization leadership plenum.”

On this occasion, the 605 candidates for national deputy, to be elected this coming March 11 – and from amongst whom the President will emerge – were chosen from 12,000 proposals made in 970 plenums held across the entire country. And among these candidates, 47.7% are constituency delegates, elected by their neighbors in the first stage of the general elections, in October of 2017.

Next, Toledo continues, “The National Assembly nominations are the responsibility of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power,” a process that is in no way a formality.

“This is where the candidature commissions at this level present the pre-candidates, and these are the assemblies that decide, via a direct, public vote, if they approve of someone or not.” In fact, to be approved every one of the proposals must have more than half of the yes votes, cast by the delegates present.

In the event that the candidature slate, or one of the proposed candidates, is not approved, the commission is required to present another proposal, which will be subjected to the same procedure.

“Once nominated as a candidate for deputy, we see another electoral episode take place, that is the people exercising their free, direct, secret vote, be it within a constituency or district, where the deputies are elected.”

This moment described by Toledo is scheduled for this coming March 11, when Cuban men and women will also elect delegates to Provincial Assemblies.

It should be emphasized, he said, that in accordance with law, “a deputy is elected for every 20,000 residents or fraction of more than 10,000, and even in municipalities that have fewer than 30,000 inhabitants, two deputies are always elected. Thus the National Assembly has representation from the entire people.”

He explains, “After being elected and once the delegates have taken their seats in the National Assembly, the National Candidature Commission calls every one of those elected for consultation, and all have the right to propose those who should be, in their opinion, the members of the Council of State, that is, suggest 31 persons, among whom, obviously, one will be the President

“Later, this commission presents for the National Assembly’s consideration, in an open vote, a candidature slate that is the product of the proposals made, and deputies have the right to modify it, totally or partially. After being approved, the candidates are submitted to free, direct, and secret vote by deputies. This is when the President of the Council of State is finally elected.”

In accordance with the spirit of the Electoral Law, if the President ceases to perform this duty, the Vice President assumes the role.

The path taken to complete the process, in Toledo’s words, is “the most clear reflection of the participation of the people and the representatives elected by the people. Cuba is not the only country that elects its head of state in second order elections. There are many nations that hold this type of election, which does not limit, in any way, its legitimacy or democratic foundation.”

Honduras: Open Letter to the American People – Zelaya

Source:  socialistprojectca.ca

Date:  December 22 2017

by   José Manuel Zelaya Rosales

People of the United States:

For the past century, the owners of the fruit companies called our country “Banana Republic” and characterized our politicians as “cheaper than a mule” (as in the infamous Rolston letter).

Honduras, a dignified nation, has had the misfortune of having a ruling class lacking in ethical principles that kowtows to U.S. transnational corporations, condemning our country to backwardness and extreme poverty.

zelata dec 2017.jpgWe have been subject to horrible dictatorships that have enjoyed U.S. support, under the premise that an outlaw is good for us if he serves transnational interests well. We have reached the point that today we are treated as less than a colony to which the U.S. government does not even deign to appoint an ambassador. Your government has installed a dictatorship in the person of Mr. Hernández, who acts as a provincial governor–spineless and obedient toward transnational companies, but a tyrant who uses terror tactics to oppress his own people. Certain sectors of Honduran private industry have also suffered greatly from punitive taxes and persecution.

You, the people of the United States, have been sold the idea that your government defends democracy, transparency, freedom and human rights in Honduras. But the State Department and Heide Fulton, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires who is serving as de facto Ambassador to Honduras, are supporting blatant electoral fraud favoring Mr. Hernández, who has repeatedly violated the Honduran Constitution and (as noted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) basic human rights. He is responsible for the scandalous looting of USD $350 million from the Honduran Social Security Institute and while he lies to you shamelessly that he is fighting drug cartels, he has destroyed the rule of law by stacking the Supreme Court with justices loyal to him.

The people of the United States have the right to know that in Honduras your taxes are used to finance, train and run institutions that oppress the people, such as the armed forces and the police, both of which are well known to run death squads (like those that grew out of Plan Colombia) and which are also deeply integrated with drug cartels.

People of the United States: the immoral support of your government has been so two-faced that for eight consecutive years the U.S. Millenium Challenge Corporation has determined that the Hernandez regime does not qualify for aid because of the government’s corruption, failing in all measures of transparency. With this record, the Honduran people ask: Why is the U.S. Government willing to recognize as president a man who the Honduran people voted against, and who they wish to see leave office immediately?

People of the United States: We ask you to spread the word, to stand up to your government’s lies about supporting democracy, freedom, human rights and justice, and to demand that your elected representatives immediately end U.S. support for the scandalous electoral fraud against the people of Honduras, who have taken to the streets to demand recognition of the victory of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship and of President-Elect Salvador Alejandro César Nasralla Salúm.

We can tolerate difference and conflict, seeking peaceful solutions as a sovereign people, but your government’s intervention in favor of the dictatorship only exacerbates our differences.

The electoral fraud supported by the U.S. State Department in favor of the dictatorship has forced our people to protest massively throughout the country, despite savage government repression that has taken the lives of more than 34 young people since the election, and in which hundreds of protestors have been criminalized and imprisoned.

We stand in solidarity with the North American people; we share much more with you than the fact that the one percent has bought off the political leaders of both our nations.

As descendents of the Independence hero Morazán, we want to live in peace, with justice and in democracy.

The Honduran people want to have good relations with the United States, but with respect and reciprocity. •

Tegucigalpa, December 21, 2017

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Consitutionally Legitimate President of Honduras 2005-2010
Chief Coordinator, Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is the Consitutionally Legitimate President of Honduras (2005-2010), and Chief Coordinator of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship.

Lula to Latin America: We Will ‘Defeat Neoliberalism Again’

Source:  TeleSUR
November 16 2017

lula nov 2017Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva declared that the struggle against neoliberalism in Latin America will continue. | Photo: EFE

Thousands of leftists from across Latin America amassed in Uruguay to march “against neoliberalism” and “in defense of democracy.”

“Temer out!” and “Macri out!” were among the demands chanted by thousands of Latin Americans marching in the name of progress through Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, on Thursday.

RELATED:  Mujica: ‘Militant’ Latin America Must Reject Neoliberalism

The mass mobilization, part of the three-day Continental Conference For Democracy And Against Neoliberalism, drew thousands to rally “against neoliberalism” — including free trade agreements — and “in defense of democracy.”

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, in a message broadcast to the assembled crowds, said: “In all our countries we have already defeated the neoliberal project once and I have no doubt that we will be able to defeat it again.”

It was da Silva, along with late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and late Brazilian president Nestor Kirchner, who 12 years ago defeated the U.S.-initiated Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Chavez Kirch Lula.jpg

Latin American countries fought together “to defeat the military dictatorships of the continent” and “the disastrous neoliberal governments of the ’80s and ’90s,” da Silva continued.

“Union movements, social movements and progressive parties were building the great popular victories of the last decade. The progressive governments of the region, in close harmony with the popular movements, resolved to promote great economic, social and cultural changes conquering an unprecedented dignity for our peoples.”  Da Silva also noted that the lessons of yesterday are just as relevant today: in particular in Brazil, which experienced “a violent blow to democracy” during last year’s right-wing coup.

The conference is set to continue for the next two days, attempting to interlink “struggles against the offensive of conservative and capitalist sectors in the continent,” according to the official website.

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Last week, former Uruguay President Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica called on “militant” Latin American organizations to join the meeting in order to share their knowledge of the various struggles on the continent and how best to win them.

The conference’s organizing group, comprising dozens of leftist organizations from across the continent, first met in November 2015 in the Cuban capital, Havana. In 2016, the same groups organized actions in a number of countries to mark their reorganization

Venezuelan Govt to Hold More Talks with Opposition on September 27

Source:  TeleSUR
September 14 2017

venezuelan gov and opposition talk 1Dominican President Danilo Medina (c), Chancellor Miguel Vargas (l) and the
former president of the Spanish Government Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (d),
one of the mediators of the dialogue in Santo Domingo | Photo: EFE

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Dominican President Danilo Medina invited both sides to restart dialogue.

The Venezuelan government says talks with the opposition will resume on September 27 following two days of discussions in the Dominican Republic.

A commission of friendly countries, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua, will support the process.

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“We are in the process of transforming an agenda that will lead to a definitive negotiation to the crisis, ” said the president of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina.

We insist on a dialogue of peace

Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of Caracas’ Libertador municipality and lead negotiator, said “On behalf of the President Nicolas Maduro’s delegation we can say that we are moving forward in important points and that despite the aggression against our economy we insist on a dialogue of peace.”

Rodriguez also thanked everyone for taking part.

He went on to tell reporters that while yesterday’s talks were very good, today’s were even better.

The meetings between both delegations have been held at the Dominican Republic’s Foreign Ministry headquarters.

The opposition was represented by Timoteo Zambrano, Luis Florido, Manuel Rosales, Vicente Diaz, Eudoro Gonzalez, and president of the National Assembly, Julio Borges.

The Venezuelan government was represented by Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, the president of the National Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, and Roy Chaderton Matos.

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National Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez said of her attendance at the talks in the Dominican Republic, “We have come here with a flag of peace.”

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Dominican President Medina invited both sides to restart dialogue in the Caribbean nation, while the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also welcomed the move.

“(We) encourage the Venezuelan political actors to seize this opportunity,” his office said in a statement.

The statement added that Guterres is convinced that “the situation in Venezuela requires a political solution based on dialogue and compromise between the government and the opposition to ensure coexistence among all Venezuelans.”

In 2016, the government of President Nicolas Maduro called for a dialogue with the opposition, which was abandoned on several occasions by their leaders.

‘Let’s make our victory a party for all’ – Angola’s ruling MPLA wins

Source:  Africanews
August 25 2017

Angola’s ruling MPLA have called on its supporters to exhibit decorum and maturity in the wake of their all but certain poll victory.

angola votes aug 2017 2.jpgA voter casts his vote in elections in Luanda, Angola, Aug. 23, 2017. More than 76 percent of Angola’s 9 million registered voters participated in the August 23 polls 

They also called on opposition parties to admit their loss and duly congratulate the winners of the August 23 election.

A series of tweets from their official handle challenged the opposition to create a culture of result acceptance. “It’s time to change our mindset and create a culture of acceptance of the results (this is called change),” the first tweet said.

It’s time to change our mindset and create a culture of acceptance of the results (this is called change).

Subsequent messages read: “It’s time to respect the will of the people, who went to the polls and chose who deserves to rule Angola.

Victory with dignity and respect

“It’s time for winners to take your victory with dignity and respect for those who didn’t win. Let’s make our victory a party. It’s time losers take the defeat and call the winner to congratulate him.”

The party has polled over 60% of votes cast with 97% of the ballots having been tallied by the electoral body. The main opposition UNITA have said they reject the preliminary results but they were going to use legal means to seek redress.

The main highlight of the election is that it draws the curtain on one of Africa’s longest serving eras. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 74, steps down after 38 years in charge. He will, however, remain leader of the MPLA.

His potential successor and president-elect, Joao Lourenco, will thus become the third president in the country’s history. The first, Agostinho Neto, died four years after independence in 1975, before dos Santos took over.

Joao Lourenco Angola.jpgJoao Lourenco

Antigua & Barbuda Warn Against Threats to Venezuela – ‘Libya and Iraq Are Lessons’

Source:  TeleSUR
August 25, 2017

antigua says no to interference in venezuela.pngSeveral countries have commissioned statements in defense of the South American nation’s sovereignty. | Photo: Reuters

Gaston Browne Antigua 2.jpgAntigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says countries should be allowed to work out their domestic problems.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has criticized efforts against Venezuela’s government, urging nations to avoid interfering in the South American country’s internal affairs.

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Following recent threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump against Venezuela, Browne recalled the consequences of foreign intervention.

“It is easy to interfere and intervene, but it is most difficult to restore post-intervention peace and stability,” the prime minister said.

“The instability in Libya and Iraq are lessons from which we should learn.”

Venezuelans should “determine their destiny and decide who govern their affairs.”

Having long defended dialogue between diverse sectors of Venezuelan society, Browne said Venezuelans should “determine their destiny and decide who govern their affairs.”

“Countries should be allowed to work out their domestic problems, especially where they do not pose a threat to global and hemispheric peace and tranquility,” Browne said.

“We should resist the urges of intervention and interference in the name of democracy and respect the sovereignty and independence of all states.”

Since Trump announced that he is keeping a “military option” open against Venezuela, several countries have commissioned statements in defense of the South American nation’s sovereignty. Dozens of social movements around the world have also expressed solidarity with President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.