Re-Targeting Cuba: US Renews Effort to Squash Cuba

Source:  Counterpunch
March 20 2019

Re-Targeting Cuba.jpegPhotograph Source Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba
User: SEWilco • Public domain

Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

Inflicting suffering and destabilization

Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization.  The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

On March 4 the State Department indicated that in 30 more days Title III would be applied to the foreign and Cuban “traffickers” in nationalized properties. Also Title III would, as of March 19, be extended to 200 Cuban enterprises controlled by Cuban security forces or state agencies, many of them connected with Cuba’s tourist industry. The U.S. government in November, 2017 had already put those facilities off limits to U.S. tourists.

Violation of Cuban sovereignty

As of early April, international investors, aid agencies, and business-persons active or looking to be active in Cuba will be facing vast uncertainties. The former owners of nationalized properties may be suing them in U.S. courts. Concerned about a slippery slope of U.S. disfavor, they may cease involvement with Cuba.  And what with unsettling news, foreign lenders may shy away from possibly risky loans for projects in Cuba.

RelatedCuban Ambassador to Jamaica: The US will keep on failing … civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail

Title III promises what Cubans call “extraterritorial” effects. It further universalizes application of the U.S. blockade which, potentially involving all countries, violates their sovereignty.

But in a Machiavelliantwist, the State Department will apparently wield the “trafficking” charge selectively. Cuban analyst Reinaldo Taladrid Herrero explains:“The road to Havana passes through Caracas.” Specifically, “They are going to exempt all businesses of countries allied with the United States, above all Canada and the European countries …. Implementation will be centered on adversary countries like Russia, China, and Venezuela.” Others share his views.

Violation of International Law

Title III violates international law, according to Russia; Cuba solidarity groups have protested. A few business-oriented U.S. groups oppose Title III out of concern that future U.S. commercial ventures in Cuba would be vulnerable.

Cuba’s government argues that nationalization was and is legal according to international norms and court decisions in the United States.  Cuba has sought satisfaction from the United States for deaths and destruction due to U.S. assaults. Negotiations taking place briefly during the Obama era looked at balancing Cuba’s claims with U.S demands stemming from nationalization.

Title III means major trouble for Cuba. The government there is presently mounting an effort to bolster the nation’s economy. Foreign investors will asume a major role in the project. They would provide $2.5 billion annually toward building or refurbishing Cuban institutions, companies, and infrastructure. But any good will on their part may well evaporate once threats loom as to court actions in the United States.

Food imports

The availability to the Cuban people of food, health care, schools, building supplies, medicines, and transportation rests on loans and export income from abroad and on income from joint ventures with foreign entities. By 2014 Cuba needed $2.5 billion annually in direct foreign investment. The fact that food imports alone currently require an annual outlay of $2 billion suggests that current requirements are greater.

Title III contains the seeds for havoc in the event that Cuba’s government is no more and the United States takes charge. According to Cuba’s Granma newspaper, Cubans “would be forced to return, reimburse or pay U.S. claimants for the house in which they live, the area on which their communities are built, the arable land where they cultivate produce, the school where their children are educated, the hospital or polyclinic where they receive medical assistance.”

Political terrorism

Cuban Journalist Lázaro Barredo, formerly editor of Granma,summarizes“Helms Burton literally has no precedents in the legal history of the United States. [It] constitutes an attack on sovereignty within the international community [and] represents political terrorism.” Helms Burton would “extend U.S. jurisdiction to other countries in an extraterritorial manner with the perverse intention of frightening, scaring, blackmailing, or dissuading persons interested in investing in Cuba.” We see a decision “to repossess the island, annex it, and move it toward total subordination to the United States.”

This report closes with a condemnation of the generalized cruelty and cynicism that is rooted in the strategic thinking of U.S. power brokers.For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, presiding at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 7, heard testimony from “Cynthia Arnson of the US-funded Wilson Center.” She “agreed with Rubio that ‘widespread unrest’ is useful, but cautioned that … ‘starving people don’t get out in the streets.’” In other words, a little starving is OK, but not too much.

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More articles by:W. T. WHITNEY

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

 

Russia Puts Up Strong Support for Venezuela

Source:  Prensa latina

May 6 2019

Lavrov y Arreaza.jpgRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Venezuelan peer Jorge Arreaza,
Russia has made clear it supports the legitimate and constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro after the failed US-backed coup attempt of April 30.
After meeting on Sunday in Moscow with his Venezuelan peer, Jorge Arreaza, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underscored Moscow’s support for Maduro administration ‘principled, consistent and firm’.‘We now see an unprecedented campaign, led by the United States, to overthrow the legitimate authorities of Venezuela. We condemn this campaign for violating the principles of international law,’ Lavrov stressed.

Lavrov further said Russia never meddles in the domestic affairs of other states, ‘and we urge all others to act precisely like this’, he added.

Attempts at a forced change of power in Venezuela undermine the crisis settlement process and carry a risk of catastrophe, the Russian minister warned.

Attempts to forcibly change the government in Caracas, of course, have nothing to do with the democratic process, but only hamper the prospects for a political settlement of the crisis, and the continuation of this line is fraught with the most serious consequences’, Lavrov added.

He stressed that Moscow condemns the unprecedented US campaign aimed at overthrowing the legitimate Venezuelan government.

The minister went on to say that Moscow and Caracas are set to strengthen their strategic cooperation.

Venezuela has been trapped in a political crisis since January, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, challenging the outcome of the country’s last presidential election.

The move was promptly backed by the United States, which vowed to support Guaido and imposed a row of sanctions against the Latin American country, seizing billions of dollars’ worth of the country’s oil assets, Sputnik News recalled.

Moreover, a number of senior US officials, including President Donald Trump, have repeatedly stated that all options remain on the table with regard to the Venezuelan crisis, including military action.

Maduro: Loyal Military Defeated the Coup Attempt

Dear military comrades of the General Staff, I would like to congratulate you for the courageous loyal and enormously wise attitude with which you have led the resolution and the defeat of the small group that tried to fill with violence in the coup plot and I ask the people of Venezuela to give a round of  applause to the national Bolivarian armed forces, who are loyal, firm, obedient disciplined and who serve the constitution and the commander in chief. [Applause]  (Google translation)

Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica: The US will keep on failing … civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail

May 23 2019

by Inés Fors Fernandez

Amb Ines Fors Fernandez 1a.jpg

On April 17th the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the activation for the first time ever of a measure that will allow the filing of lawsuits before United States courts under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a decision that will take effect on May 2. Same day, the United States National Security Adviser John Bolton also announced additional restrictions on Cuba, including visas and travel.

By virtue of the very Helms-Burton Act, all United States presidents since 1996, including Trump in 2017 and 2018, have consistently made use of the executive power to suspend the implementation of Title III every six months. They have recognized that it is the most gross and unacceptable aspect of the Act, contrary to International Law and the sovereignty of other States. They have also realized that Title III implementation will bring about insurmountable obstacles to any prospective solution to claims and compensations to legitimate United States owners.

Title III authorizes United States nationals to bring action before United States courts against any foreign citizen that is “trafficking” in United States properties that were nationalized in Cuba in the 1960’s by means of a legitimate process, as was recognized by the United States Supreme Court, that was carried out by the Cuban government, in full adherence to its national legislation and in conformity with International Law. All nationalizations included processes of fair and appropriate compensation. Cuba reached and honoured global compensation agreements with other nations which are today investing in Cuba, such as Spain, Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and France.

The Helms Burton Act was conceived to codify and tighten the economic, commercial and financial blockade policy officially imposed in 1962 with the purpose of subverting and overthrowing the Cuban government. It is intended to suffocate the Cuban economy and generate or increase shortages among the population with the purpose of imposing in Cuba a government that serves the interests of the United States.

It consists of four titles and has been implemented since its enactment.  It is characterized by having an extreme extraterritorial scope, violating the rules and principles of International Law, contravening the rules of trade and international economic relations and being harmful to the sovereignty of other States, particularly because of the implementation of its provisions against companies and individuals established in their territories.

The declaration of the Cuban Government issued on April 17th “rejects, in the strongest terms possible, the decision that now allow actions to be taken in United States courts against Cuban and foreign entities, and to aggravate impediments to entering the United States faced by leaders and families of companies that legitimately invest in Cuba, in properties that were nationalized.” The statement also repudiates “the decision to reinstate limits on remittances that Cuban residents in the United States send to their families and friends, to further restrict travel by United States citizens to Cuba, and impose additional financial sanctions.”

The aggressive escalation of the Trump administration and the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act have been rejected by the Governments of Canada, Russia, China, Mexico, as well as by the European Union.

On April 17th, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini; the Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom; and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, issued a Joint Statement criticizing the US decision to implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. The statement expresses that “The decision by the United States to renege on its longstanding commitment to waive Title III of the Helms-Burton is regrettable, and will have an important impact on legitimate EU and Canadian economic operators in Cuba. The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to international law.”

On the other hand, a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico states “The Government of Mexico regrets the decision of the United States to apply Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for the first time everAs it has done historically, Mexico rejects the unilateral application of extraterritorial trade legislation, as it violates the norms of international law.”

For almost three decades the Helms-Burton Act and the blockade have aroused universal rejection at the most important regional and international fora given the illegitimate character of the goals they pursue. The most recent example of that was the United Nations General Assembly meeting held on November 1st, 2018, when said policy was rejected through 10 consecutive votes, thus leaving the US in complete isolation.

Specialized international bodies and regional organizations, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the African Union have also rejected unanimously the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against the people of Cuba for 60 years.

In our long battle to end the U.S. blockade, Jamaica’s solidarity has been shown. The Cuban people deeply treasure the fact that the Parliament of Jamaica has adopted Motions against this cruel policy for ten consecutive years.

The recent United States Government´s decision imposes additional obstacles to Cuba economic development and progress goals, but the United States will keep on failing to achieve its main purpose of submitting by force the sovereign will of Cubans. The principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace should prevail, for the benefit of all. The feelings of the peoples of Cuba and the United States in favour of improving relations and establishing a civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail.

Inés Fors Fernandez

Cuban Ambassador

Kingston, May 23rd, 2019

Manufacturing A Crisis In Venezuela

Source:  Popular Resistance
By Eva Bartlett, Informationclearinghouse.info

EDUCATE!
massive pro govt rally

 

Above Photo: A massive pro-government rally on March 16, Caracas. ©  Eva Bartlett

US IS MANUFACTURING A CRISIS IN VENEZUELA SO THAT THERE IS CHAOS AND ‘NEEDED’ INTERVENTION

March 30, 2019 “Information Clearing House“ –  Venezuela is America’s current target for mass destabilization in the hope of installing a puppet government.

America has for years been waging an economic war against Venezuela, including debilitating sanctions which have dramatically affected the state’s ability to purchase medicines, and even mundane replacement parts needed in buses, ambulances, etc. Alongside the economic war there has been a steady propaganda war, but in recent months, the propaganda has escalated dramatically, from corporate media to US political figures.

Venezuela is described as “the country pilots are refusing to fly to,” as per a March 18, 2019, AP article on American Airlines cancelling all flights to Venezuela, containing scary phrases like “safety concerns” and “civil unrest.

On March 9, American cancelled my Miami-Caracas flight on the basis that there wasn’t enough electricity to land at Caracas airport. Strangely enough, the Copa flight I took the following day after an overnight in Panama had no problem landing, nor did Copa flights on the day of my own cancelled flight, according to Copa staff.

The cancellation of flights to Venezuela then lends legitimacy to the shrill tweets of Marco Rubio, Mike Pence, John Bolton, and the previously unknown non-president, Juan Guaido.

I’ve been in various areas of Caracas since March 10, and I’ve seen none of this “civil unrest” that corporate media are talking about. I’ve walked around Caracas, usually on my own, and haven’t experienced the worry for my safety corporate media is telling Westerners they should suddenly feel more than normal in Venezuela.

In fact, I see little difference from the Venezuela I knew in 2010 when I spent half a year here, except the hyperinflation is absurdly worse and in my absence I missed the years of extreme right-wing opposition supporters street violence – a benign term for the guarimbas which saw opposition supporters burning people alive, among other violence against people and security.

So it strikes me that the decision of American Airlines to stop flying to Venezuela is not about safety and security issues, but is political, in line with increasingly hollow rhetoric about a humanitarian crisis that does not exist, even according to former UN Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas.

I asked Paul Dobson, a journalist who has lived in Venezuela the last 14 years, if anything like this had happened before. Turns out it has, also at a very timely moment.

At the time of the National Constituent Assembly elections, July 30, 2017, the major airlines – including Air France, United, American, pretty much all of the European airlines – suspended their flights one day before the elections, citing “security reasons.” Most of the services were reopened about four days after the elections, some of them two weeks after the elections.

So were there ‘security concerns? I asked Paul.

This was towards the end of street violence (guarimbas) that had been going on for six months in the country. Why didn’t they suspend their activity six months before, two months before? They did it the day before the elections, clearly trying to influence votes and the way that people see their country internationally. There were no extra security concerns that day than any day over the last 6 months. So, there was really no justification for it. And it caused massive problems on the ground, around elections.”

America Manufactures Crises; Venezuelans Respond With Calm

On February 23, a month after a previously largely-unknown, US-backed man named Juan Guaido claimed he was the president of Venezuela, there was a short-lived period of instability at the Venezuelan border with Colombia, when America insisted on forcing aid trucks into Venezuela.

Aid trucks that burned that day were the result of attacks of masked young men on the Colombian side, and not from the Venezuelan military as western corporate media and Marco Rubio would have you believe. Less-known is that the ‘aid trucks’ contained very odd humanitarian aid, including nails and wire.

Were their fake concerns genuine, the US could have done what Cuba, China, and Russia, among others, have done and send the aid through appropriate channels, like the UN and the Red Cross. America’s attempt to ram trucks through Venezuela’s border has been revealed as the cheap propaganda stunt that it was.

A couple of weeks later, suddenly there was a very timely country-wide power outage for six days, affecting most things in Venezuelan infrastructure and life, a reality that Palestinians in Gaza have been living since at least 2006 when Israel bombed their sole power plant, never since allowing them to import the parts needed to adequately repair it.

When I lived in Gaza, I grew accustomed to outages of 16-22 hours a day, for months on end. Near-daily sustained 18 plus hour power outages continue in Gaza, but that’s not something the regime-change squad were or are outraged about.

Western media coverage of the blackout was tabloidesque, claiming without any proof whatsoever that 300 people had died due to the outage,portraying Venezuelans collecting water from a spring at the Guaire river in Caracas as collecting dirty sewage water, looting (which actually occurred in the Western border city of Maracaibo and not in Caracas, unless there were localized and unreported incidents), and in general blaming the Maduro government for everything under the moon.

Talking with journalists of Mision Verdad, an independent Venezuelan investigative news site, I learned that one of the targets of looting was a mall in Maracaibo, where electronics were the items of choice, not food. Another incident reportedly involved looting beer and soft drinks. Odd behaviour for a starving people in a humanitarian crisis.

When I arrived three days into the outage, aside from darkened buildings, empty streets, and in following days long lines at water dispensaries and ATMs, I saw no instability. Instead, I saw and learned of Venezuelans working together to get through the drastic effects of the power outage.

I learned at the Ministry of Urban Agriculture of how they took vegetables and crops to hospitals and schools during the electricity outage, but also of how urban agriculture has become an act of resistance in a climate of war and fake news. At a circular plot next to a social housing block I saw young men and women working the land, bursts of lettuces, herbs, beetroots, spinach, and peppers, as well as plots still being planted.

At the Fabricio Ojeda commune, in Catia—a western Caracas barrio of over 1 million people—residents spoke of the 17 tons of produce they generated a few years ago, then sold in the community at prices 30-50% lower than the average market price.

One of the commune leaders spoke of raising rabbits as an affordable, and easy to maintain, source of protein.

We’re trying to achieve self sustainability of this produce, for the community. This is what we’re doing against the economic war,” he said.

Two days ago, visiting the Caracas barrios of Las Brisas, I asked Jaskeherry, head of a colectivo (organized group of people) how the community had managed during the power outage.

We had a contingency plan with all the colectivos in the area to organize ourselves to help the people. My fridge is connected to a power bank. The community brought their meat here and I stored it. We brought a cistern here. Around 300 families were benefiting from this. Each community has their own colectivo that does things like this to help out.”

I’ve heard from several different people here that one reason for the lack of chaos is that Venezuelans have already dealt with US-instigated crises, and have learned to remain calm at such times, surely to the dismay of US pot-stirrers who hoped for scenes of chaos, the pretext to US intervention.

Manufactured Poverty; Support From & For Government

I’ve gone into a number of smaller and large supermarkets in the lower middle-class areas of Caracas, and in it’s upper middle-class regions of Chacao and Altimira. There is food, including luxury items, which Venezuela’s poor can’t afford.

And in some stores there are said to be empty shelves, although I haven’t yet seen this.The policies of private companies —including the largest, Polar, whose CEO opposition supporters wanted him to run against Maduro in the last elections – to hoard goods and create false shortages is well known. That said, this theme that there is no food is one continually pumped by Western corporate media, along with the “humanitarian crisis” claim.

To help the poorest, the government initiated a food box delivery program known by its acronym, CLAP, wherein organized communities distribute government subsidized food to 6 million of Venezuela’s poorest families.

The system is not perfect, and I’ve heard complaints of boxes being late in reaching some communities. However, I’ve been told—including by a woman I interviewed yesterday who herself works in CLAP distribution—that problems lie in corruption on a local level, individuals in communities not distributing fairly or evenly.

Hotheads like Marco Rubio, and script reading corporate media, try to maintain that President Maduro has little support. But massive rallies of support, and a notable absence of opposition rallies of recent, counter that propaganda.

On March 16, for two hours I walked with Venezuelans at their anti-Imperialist, pro-government march, filming them, speaking with them, hearing person after person insist on their support for their elected president, Maduro.

Many or most of those marching were from Caracas’ poorest communities, the darker skinned, Afro-descendant Venezuelans that are scarcely given a voice by corporate media, almost certainly because they are ardent supporters of the government and Bolivarian revolution.

When I asked about their feelings of corporate media coverage of Venezuela, people told me it wasn’t depicting the reality, “they make it up, it’s all lies, all lies. The only president we recognize is Nicolas Maduro. And we want this man, Juan Guaido, to be arrested immediately”.

A young tax lawyer told me:

We’re here to support our (Bolivarian) project. We don’t want any war. We want medicine for our people—we don’t want sanctions from any government that prevent us from purchasing medicine. It’s very difficult for us to bring what’s needed for our people.”

Leaving the still crowded demonstration, I went towards Caracas’ eastern districts, hoping to attend one of the three or four opposition actions that a local journalist told me they had been tweeting about. None panned out.

A few days later, I went to Bellas Artes metro, the same scenario transpired, I couldn’t find the opposition protest that I’d heard was planned. Eventually, in front of the National Assembly, I did film between 15-20 well-dressed men and women not doing much other than standing around. Eventually, most passed by security and onto the premises. I didn’t hear them issue, or attempt to issue, any opposition statement, nor was there any violence from or against them.

A mass of government supporters arrived on motorbikes. A nearby man told me that these women and men on bikes had come to preserve the peace. He said that opposition had said they would stage a provocation (his words match what the local journalist told me, based on tweets to that effect from opposition/supporters), and that the pro-government bikers were not going to allow that to happen.

On Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw long line of tankers being filled by mountain spring water to be distributed around the city and outside, with a long list of hospitals to be supplied. pic.twitter.com/uwr6QZtS2F

— Eva Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) March 27, 2019

Height Of Hypocrisy And Irony; US To Ensure ‘Foreign Influences Are Not Controlling Venezuela’

The US has been forcibly exerting its foreign influence over Venezuela for years, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people it crocodile-tear purports to care about. Most Western corporate media do not mention the manifold adverse effects of the immoral sanctions imposed on Venezuela.

At the end of January, UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy denounced the sanctions, clearly noting they are, “aimed at changing the government of Venezuela,” and that, “Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state.”

On top of this, America recently withheld US$5 billion intended for the purchase of medicines and raw materials used in medical production, Venezuelanalysis reported, after already freezing numerous Venezuelan assets, apparently holding them for their groomed puppet would-be president, Juan Guaido.

Unsurprisingly, John Bolton recently again menaced Venezuela, reiterating Trump’s, “all options are on the table,” military intervention threat and as though hallucinating blathered on about foreign influence and Venezuela and keeping the Imperialist Monroe Doctrine alive.

In a meeting with the US Peace Council delegation in mid-March, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, spoke of the openly-hostile US leadership.

When you have such an administration saying almost every single day, ‘all the options are on the table.’ And they say the military option is not discarded, then we have to be prepared for all of the options.

We told Mr.Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”

President Maduro, in a meeting with the delegation, told us:

We do not want foreign military intervention. Venezuelan people are very proud of the national independence. These people surrounding president Trump—John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Elliott Abrams —every single day on Twitter, these guys are tweeting about Venezuela. Not about the US, the American people…they have an obsession with Venezuela, like a fatal obsession with Venezuela. This is extremely dangerous, and we need to denounce it and make it stop.

Having written extensively about the war propaganda and Imperialist rhetoric around Syria over the past eight years, this obsession is very familiar. As Alfred de Zayas, said in a recent interview:

If you call Maduro corrupt, people will gradually believe, he must be somewhat corrupt. But nobody reminds you that corruption in Venezuela in the 1980s and 90s – before Chavez, before Maduro – was rampant. The press is focusing only on Maduro, because the name of the game is to topple him.”

We’re seeing Syria (and Libya, Iraq…) all over again. The demonization of the leadership of a country America wants to dominate. The absurd rhetoric steaming daily from corporate owned media, pretty much in chorus. The troll army ready to attack with an energetic vitriol on social media anyone who dares to present a non-Imperialist perspective. And most worrisome, the acts of terrorism intended to hurt the people and incriminate the government.

Sadly, it seems the United States is ready to stoop to the same dirty tactics it and allies used against Syria over the past eight years: backing and collaborating with terrorists to attack the state. Indeed, last night while trying to finish this article, the power cut and remains off in many areas of the country.

Earlier this week, Information and Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the cause of this recent outage was an attack at the Guri Hydro complex, Venezuela’s central hydroelectric power plant and transmission area.

By today, electricity has partially been restored to Caracas.

I spent much of this afternoon riding on the back of a motorbike around Petare. The district is known as the largest “slum” in Latin America, an extended series of barrios, and is one of Caracas’ poorest and most dangerous areas. Wherever we rode, I looked for the humanitarian crisis corporate media insists exists. Instead, I found vegetables, fruit, chicken and food basics sold wherever I went, from the main square to hillside barrio of 5 of July (5 Julio).

On the hillside of Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw at intervals while riding lines of people collecting spring water in jugs since the power outage has affected water distribution. I also saw lines of tankers, being organized by the municipality and with the military, to distribute water around the city and country. A chart listed over twenty hospitals designated to receive water.

The Venezuelan government has accused America of being behind both the March 7 outage and this week’s, stating the former was a combination of cyber, electromagnetic and physical attacks on the power grids (like the alleged secret US plan to do the same to Iran’s grid), and the latter a direct physical attack on the Guri complex, causing a fire at three transformers.

Clearly, the goal of such attacks is to create so much suffering and frustration among the public that there is chaos, and a “needed” US intervention.

The chaos has not happened, the people have refused it.

Díaz-Canel: The Association of Caribbean States must continue to be the mainstay of Greater Caribbean unity

Source: Granma
April 1 2019

Photo: Estudios Revolución

Speech by Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the VIII Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States, in Managua, Nicaragua, March 29, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript / GI translation)

Compañero Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the sister Republic of Nicaragua and of the VIII Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States;

Compañera Rosario Murillo, Vice President of the Republic of Nicaragua;

Distinguished heads of state and government and heads of delegations;

Her Excellency Ambassador June Soomer, general secretary of the Association;

Dear delegates and guests:

Our national poet, Nicolás Guillén, a singular voice among the great voices of this region, dedicated a short poem to the sea that joins us, with which I would like to greet you. It is entitled “The Caribbean” and goes:

In the aquarium of the Great Zoo,

swims the Caribbean.

This enigmatic marine animal

has a crystal crest,

a blue back, a green tail,

a belly of compact coral,

gray hurricane fins.

In the aquarium, this inscription:

“Be careful: it bites.”

This verse of Guillen’s speaks of the crystal crest that makes our Caribbean fragile. And also of the fierce beast that lives here. Fragility and ferocity distinguish us. Fragility and ferocity unite us. And unity, we know well, makes us strong.

Born of this strength, sustained only by unity, is the very timely Managua Declaration adopted by this meeting, with the title: “Joining forces in the Caribbean to confront climate change,” an issue that has generated growing concern over the last few decades.

As the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, warned almost 30 years ago, during the Earth Summit held in Río de Janeiro, in 1992, “An important biological species is in danger of extinction as a result of the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural living conditions: man.”

The Caribbean knows this well since it often suffers the impact. Surely for this reason, since its Second Summit in Santo Domingo, in 1999, the Association of Caribbean States has included among its lines of work agreement and cooperation on climate change and disaster risk reduction.

The causes of climate change have been identified by the scientific community and recognized by practically all governments.

But neither efforts made or international commitments in environmental matters are sufficient to stop the alarming increase in global temperature and stabilize it in the area of 1.5ºC, as developing countries demand.

More developed nations, who are mainly responsible for today’s unsustainable situation, must honor the commitment to provide at least 100 billion USD a year to support the work of developing countries.

The global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must prevail based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, within a framework of international cooperation that ensures the resources and necessary transfer of technologies to developing countries.

Required is the modification of patterns of production and consumption that have been imposed on us, and the promotion of a fair, democratic, and equitable international economic order, to confront climate change and achieve sustainable development.

Mr. President:

Each of us understands what is being talked about. The intensity and persistence of natural phenomena of various kinds in the Greater Caribbean constantly punish us with the adverse effects of climate change, particularly developing small island states.

Living with hurricanes has conditioned our lives; modifying our geographies and affecting migration. And it has also educated us in the need to devote more study to these phenomena that plague us and work to reverse the damage they cause. The Cuban Revolution was obliged to learn this lesson very early on, the hard way, during Hurricane Flora in 1963, which left the former province of Oriente under water and took the lives of more than a thousand people.

More recent history has shown that, in the worst moments, working together has saved us. We firmly believe that only our unity and mutual cooperation will allow us to face the dangers and effects of meteorological events and assume the subsequent recovery.

Solidarity must be a fundamental principle for the members of the Association of Caribbean States

Along this very line of thought, today, I would like to reiterate the unwavering support of Cuba, under all circumstances, to the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment.

We also support the just and necessary demand to receive cooperation according to a nation’s real situation and needs, and not on the basis of per capita income statistics that classify them as middle income countries and exclude them from access to financial resources, indispensable for development.

We welcome the election of Barbados as President of the Board of Directors of the Association’s Council of Ministers. We express our fraternal congratulations for this and for the country’s willingness to contribute during this period.

Dear delegates:

The President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the National Security Advisor declare that the Monroe Doctrine is as relevant today as the day it was written, and that it is the country’s formal policy, as in the time of expansion and intervention of the United States in our region, of military aggressions and impositions.

These statements and consequent actions challenge our Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by heads of state and government, in January 2014, in Havana, on the occasion of the Second CELAC Summit.

We declared then our permanent commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes in order to banish forever the use of force, and threats to use force, in the region; to strictly comply with the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state; to foster relations of friendship and cooperation among ourselves and with other nations, regardless of differences in political, economic, and social systems or levels of development; to practice tolerance and coexist in peace as good neighbors; to the intention of Latin American and the Caribbean states to fully respect the inalienable right of all to choose their own political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential condition for ensuring peaceful coexistence among nations; to the promotion in the region of a culture of peace based, among others, on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Culture of Peace.

The Proclamation also urges all member states of the international community to fully respect these purposes and principles in their relations with CELAC member states.

In this context, our nations must continue working together. It is our duty to protect peace, amongst us all, and preserve what has been achieved, confident that the current situation of confrontation and threats will be overcome.

Cuba, in particular, has been subject to an irrational and perverse tightening of the blockade by the United States, whose administration has unleashed, at the same time, a campaign of distortions, lies, and pretexts to sustain a policy of persecution and harassment that the international community openly rejects and condemns.

I would like to express our profound gratitude to all the countries of the region for their opposition to this irrational, illegal, and cruel policy against our people.

Beyond political or ideological differences, I call on all Caribbean governments to defend peace and oppose military aggression and the escalation of coercive economic measures against Venezuela that seriously damage its citizens and put the stability of the entire region at risk.

We also reiterate our solidarity and support for the government of Reconciliation and National Unity of the Republic of Nicaragua in the face of destabilization attempts, and we celebrate the negotiation process to ensure peace and preserve the social and economic gains achieved in this sister nation.

Faithful to our vision of defending unity within diversity, as on innumerable occasions the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, has asserted in forums like this one, we call on you to continue working together, concentrating on all that unites us, incomparably superior to the little that separates us, and to prioritize the fulfillment of agreements reached by the XXIII Council of Ministers regarding the strengthening and revitalization of the Association.

The Association of Caribbean States must continue to be the mainstay of Greater Caribbean unity, which is the only alternative given the enormous challenges we face.

Member states of this organization share the responsibility to avoid damaging the consensus that we have built together over the years, and to continue fostering solidarity, as an indispensable premise to develop actions on all the issues that are part of the organization’s mandate.

Cuba will continue working in favor of this unity and for the consolidation of our Association, and hope that this important meeting will contribute decisively to the effort.

Thank you very much!

Maradona Dedicates Soccer Win to Venezuelan President Maduro

Source:  TeleSUR
April 1 2019

  • Diego Maradona, technical director of the Sinaloa Dorado soccer team in Mexico defends President Nicolas Maduro during press conference Sunday night. Nov. 2018

    Diego Maradona, technical director of the Sinaloa Dorado soccer team in Mexico defends President Nicolas Maduro during press conference Sunday night. Nov. 2018 | Photo: Reuters

As technical director of the Sinaloa Dorados soccer team in Mexico, famed former player Diego Maradona dedicates Dorado victory to Maduro, jabs at Trump.

World renowned former Argentine soccer play who brought his team to victory at the 1986 World Cup, Diego Maradona took a jab at ‘Yankee’ interventionism in Latin America and dedicated the win of his Mexican team to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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“I want to dedicate this triumph to Nicolas Maduro and to all Venezuelans who are suffering. The sheriffs of the world—who are these Yankees?” asked the FIFA Player of the 20th Century Sunday night to the press.

“Just because they have the biggest bombs in the world they think are so much more advanced than us. No, they are not” Maradona declared at a press conference after a soccer match in Mexico that the Dorados de Sinaloa, the team Maradona is the technical director of since September 2018, won 3-2 over the Tampico Madero Sunday night.

“We don’t buy that ‘chirolita’ they have as president,” added Maradona referring to an Argentine vantriloquist puppet famous in the 1970s that resembles United States President Donald Trump and was famous for its rogue, childish personality.

Since January the U.S. and its allies have tried unsuccessfully to replace Presidennt Maduro with the so-called ‘interim president’ Juan Guiado.

President Donald Trump began his soft coup attempt against President Nicolas Maduro after taking office in 2017, implementing a growing list of economic sanctions on Venezuela and its people that have cost the government billions.

Named the best player in the history of the World Cups, Maradona called Maduro a “dear friend” and came out in defense of Maduro when the Venezuelan president faced an assassination attempt last August.

The Argentine denounced the attack on Maduro over social media and that Venezuela “does not surrender.” Maradona was a close friend of the deceased leftist presidents Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

When Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was declared victor of last July’s Mexican presidential elections, Marado said: “He finally won the elections in Mexico and the truth is he made us all very happy.”