Rashida Tlaib To Wear Palestinian Attire For Swearing-in Ceremony at US House of Representative

Source:  TeleSUR
December 17 2019

rashida tlaib.jpgRashida Tlaib posted on Instagram the Palestinian dress she will wear for her
searing-in ceremony. | Photo: Reuters

Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian-American congresswoman-elect, said she will wear a traditional Palestinian gown for her swearing-in ceremony in the United States House of Representatives next month.

RELATED:  First Palestinian-American Socialist Woman to Enter Congress

This move by Tlaib can be seen as a way to make visible a community in the U.S. Congress which has been made invisible due to Israel’s excessive influence on the country’s politics.

The Democratic representative for Michigan, who made history in November for being the first Muslim woman to be elected to the House of Representative, is outspoken about her support for Palestine.

“Sneak peek: This is what I am wearing when I am sworn into Congress. #PalestinianThobe #ForMyYama,” Tlaib wrote on her Instagram Friday.

rashida tlaib's dress2

Palestinian traditional gowns have different embroidery for different regions. Tlaib’s mother is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, outside Ramallah, and her father belongs from Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem.

The attire is a significant symbol of centuries of Palestinian tradition and history as it used to be commonly used by women decades before the foundation of Israel in 1948. Therefore it has a significant historical value that reaffirms the existence and resilience of the Palestinian identity and nation.

Tlaib previously used to support the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and aid to Israel but she has changed her stand since she won the primaries in August. Now Tlaib supports the one-state solution and no aid to Israel.

It was reported earlier in December that she is planning to lead a congressional delegation to Occupied West Bank, Palestine in order to present an alternative perspective on the conflict.

“I don’t think AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided,” Tlaib told The Intercept. “They don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”

RELATED:  History Made as Minorities Elected to Congress

Tlaib’s trip will show the reality of the Israeli occupation, humanizing Palestinians, and focusing on “Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty,” she said.

By wearing her traditional dress, Tlaib will follow the footsteps of Ruth Buffalo, the first Native American Democratic elected to serve in North Dakota’s state legislature. Buffalo wore a traditional Native American dress as a tribute to her ancestry for her swearing-in ceremony earlier this month.

The U.S. mid-term elections have seen a wave of firsts when Muslim women, Native American women, a large number of LGBT candidates, and progressive women candidates were elected by the people as their representatives.

Most of these elected women are from persecuted communities which mainstream history and politics tend to exclude from public memory. But these women are determined to refresh the public memory and one way of doing that is to be sworn-in in one of the most powerful Congresses of the world, donning traditional attires.

Celtic Soccer Fans Raise Over £30k to Pay Potential UEFA Fine

Source:  TeleSUR
August 22 2016

celtic soccer fans.jpg

Celtic FC fans display sea of Palestinian flags during a match against Israel’s Hapoel Beer Sheva. | Photo: Reuters

After 8 hours, £14,000 of the initial target of £15,000 was raised.

Celtic FC soccer fans have started a GoFundMe page to pay any potential UEFA fine against their team after their recent display of Palestinian flags at a game against a visiting Israeli team. They vowed to match the funds to donate to organizations in Occupied Palestine and so far have raised over £30 in 24 hours.

RELATEDAt Least 30 Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza, ‘Worst Since 2014 War’

On Aug. 17, Celtic fans made headlines when they flooded the stadium in Glasgow, Scotland with a sea of Palestinian flags despite the Union of European Football Associations’ ban on political displays at soccer matches.

The UEFA announced the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the team following the match on charges of “display of an illicit banner,” referring to the Palestinian flag. The federation has been criticized for its intentions to fine the fans from fans of other teams including from Hoops fans and supporters from other teams.

In response, Celtic fans launched the fundraising page and the hashtag  #matchthefineforpalestine, saying that the matching funds would go to Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Lajee Center, a Palestinian children’s center in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem.

Video:  Palestinian flags fly high during game

Israel’s apartheid wall

The page describes the camp, “Aida is one of 19 refugee camps in the West Bank … Its residents live in the shadow of Israel’s apartheid wall, cut off from social and economic opportunities by the wall and neighbouring illegal settlements and military checkpoints.

“There are no organised (soccer) teams in Aida, with basic equipment like boots in short supply. Funds raised will provide equipment, strips and travel costs to enable the camp to enter a team in the Bethlehem Youth League.

“In recognition of the show of support from Celtic fans and all those around the world Salah Ajarma, Coordinator of the Lajee Centre will name the team ‘Aida Celtic.’

RELATEDCeltic Fans Wave Palestine Flags During Match with Israeli Club

Response absolutely humbling

Initially aiming for £15,000, the page explained, “After around 7-8 hours we have hit just over £14k of our initial target of £15k. The response has been overwhelming and the generosity of the Celtic support and indeed others is absolutely humbling.”

On Tuesday, Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Celtic FC face off again in Israel in the Champions League first playoff round, with the first leg won by Celtic 5-2.

Israeli police have already threatened to arrest anyone caught displaying the Palestinian flag in the stadium.

in 2014, Celtic fans received a £15,000 from the UEFA for displaying Palestinian flags at a match.

Palestine To Sue UK For Creation Of Israel

Source:  yournewswire.com
July 26 2016

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai

Palestine to sue Britain over creation of Israel.jpg

The President of Palestine has announced plans to sue the British government for creating Israel and subjecting the Palestinian people to illegal occupation and brutality. 

Mahmoud Abbas says he will sue Great Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration in declaring Palestine a “Jewish national home”.

Gulfnews.com reports:

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al Maliki made the announcement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas at Monday’s opening of the Arab League summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

Al Maliki said the suit would be filed in an international court, but did not elaborate.

The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration laid the vision for the future Israeli regime and sparked waves of Jewish immigration to the British mandate in Palestine.

According to Dr Hanna Eissa, who is part of the Palestinian team preparing the lawsuit, the Palestinian attempt to bring a case against the British government is meant to deliver a message to the British government to assume the historic responsibility and follow the example of Germany which recognised and compensated victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Israel declared its “independence” in 1948 after the mandate expired and won a subsequent war against its Arab adversaries.

Al Maliki said the declaration was a “fateful promise from the ones who don’t own to the ones who don’t deserve”.

Illegal and illegitimate by international law

“The Balfour Declaration was illegal and illegitimate by international law. The British government gave what is not hers to undeserving people,” Dr Eissa told Gulf News.

He said that the British authorities implemented the Balfour Declaration on the ground and helped the Zionist movement establish four major security forces that contributed in the destruction of 531 Palestinian cities and villages. “The suffering of the Palestinian people started by issuing the Balfour Declaration and continues till now, and Britain must pay for this,” he said. “The British government remains a major ally and partner to the Israeli government.”

Upon the approval of the UN General Assembly, he said that the International Court of Justice can issue an advisory opinion that is not binding.

Britain fully responsible for the Israeli crimes

Al Maliki said that Britain is fully responsible for the Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinians since the end of the British mandate in 1948.

Dr Eissa argued that the British mandate had never been based on sovereignty on the Ottoman territory of the Palestinian province and that does not entitle the British government in any way to secure rights for the Zionist movement in Palestine.

Signed by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour in 1917, the declaration was seen as giving the Zionist movement recognition and backing from a major power.

Palestine Sends Humanitarian Aid to Ecuador Earthquake Victims

Source:  TeleSUR
April 18, 2016

“We don’t forget our friends, a deadly earthquake has hit Ecuador, there are many victims, we care for Ecuador and we will help the people of Ecuador no matter how moderate our capabilities are,” Faisal Abu Shahla, a representative of Fatah, stated.

rescue efforts in ecuador after earthquake.jpg

Rescue efforts continue in Pedernales, after an earthquake struck off Ecuador’s Pacific coast, April 18, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Palestine’s efforts follow Ecuador helping Gaza after Israel’s offensive during the summer of 2014.

The Health Ministry of the Palestinian National Authority, or PA, deployed a team of emergency response and disaster medics to Ecuador Monday in order to assist the country in its recovery efforts following a devastating 7.8 earthquake that struck the Andean nation Saturday, killing at least 350 people and injuring thousands more.

RELATED:  How You Can Help Ecuadoreans Affected by Deadly Earthquake

PA Health Minister Jawad Awwad confirmed Sunday that President Mahmoud Abbas had given him the go ahead to put together an aid package including medical professionals, supplies and medicine.

“We don’t forget our friends, a deadly earthquake has hit Ecuador, there are many victims, we care for Ecuador and we will help the people of Ecuador no matter how moderate our capabilities are,” Faisal Abu Shahla, a representative of Fatah, stated.

Help despite limited resources

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki echoed Shahla’s sentiments Monday, offering condolences to the families of the victims and promising to help Ecuador despite Palestine’s “limited resources.”

The humanitarian aid provided by the PA comes after the Ecuadoran government donated food, medicine and clothes to Palestinians affected by Israel’s devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014, when around 2,300 Palestinians were killed and over 10,000 were injured.

Palestinian Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Prize

Sources:  TeleSUR,  Varkey Foundation
March 13 2016

hana al hroub palestine.pngPalestinian teacher, Hanan al-Hroub | Photo: Global Teacher Prize

The Global Teacher Prize was awarded to Hanan al-Hroub, a primary school teacher in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, at a ceremony in Dubai.  A Palestinian teacher, who grew up in a refugee camp, has beaten 8,000 other applicants from around the world to win a US $1 million prize for her excellence in teaching.

hanan al hroub 2Hanan Al Hroub has won the 2016 Global Teacher Prize for her work educating children in Palestine. She was given her award by Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation, during the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

Hanan grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp, Bethlehem, where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school.

Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behaviour, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school.

With so many troubled children in the region, Palestinian classrooms can be tense environments. Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn’.

She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland

She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasizes the importance of literacy. Hanan encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use.

Hanan has shared her perspective at conferences, meetings and teacher training seminars. She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland.

Education and teachers for children who live in war zones

At the ceremony, al-Hroub’s name was announced by Pope Francis.

The head of the Catholic church talked about the necessity of education and teachers for children who live in war zones.

“I feel amazing and I still can’t believe that the Pope said my name,” al-Hroub told The Associated Press. “For an Arab, Palestinian teacher to talk to the world today and to reach the highest peak in teaching could be an example for teachers around the world.”

RELATED: 140,000 Petition Against Airbnb Listings in Israeli Settlements

The Palestinian teacher will use the prize money, she says, for scholarships for students who want to become teachers.

With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine

As al-Hroub collected her award, Palestinians in the audience displayed their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine.”

The award comes amid fraught pressure from Israel on Palestine, with at least 179 Palestinians killed within the last five months.

Washington Wages War on International Soccer

Source:  Global Research

May 28, 2015

Is there more to what’s going on than meets the eye? In January 2011, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly MutkoSepp Blatter and Russian Sports minister Vitaly Mulko (photo) signed a declaration on Russia’s official status as 2018 World Cup host nation.

At the time, Vladimir Putin said Russia would “use the experience…already gained in preparing for the Sochi Olympics in 2014.”

Blatter expressed “certain(ty) that the World Cup (would) be held at the highest level and…turn into a truly magnificent event.”

After Russia won bid, influential US senators wrote Blatter 

Russia won out over Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. It plans to host the event in 13 cities. It intends making it first-class world event.

In April, 13 US influential senators wrote Blatter “strongly encourag(ing)” him to replace Russia with another host country,” saying:

US concerned over bolstering the prestige of Putin’s government

“Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions.”

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer responded, saying:

“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.”

The World Cup “can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.”

Blatter said “the World Cup in Russia will be able to stabilize all the situation in this region of Europe that is suffering now.”

A thinly veiled scheme against Russia?

Vladimir PutinIs charging 14 current and former FIFA officials with various criminal offenses a thinly veiled scheme to continue bashing and trying to isolate Russia?

Everything done so far failed. Master chess player Putin outmatches his US counterpart. However charges against current and former FIFA officials are resolved, expect Russia to remain 2018 World Cup nation likely matching its successful 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Palestinian Football Association want Israel suspended

Another issue is Israel. Palestinian officials want it suspended from FIFA participation because of systematically violating Palestinian footballer rights – including harassment, travel restrictions, lawless arrests, and other racist apartheid actions.

Last March, the Palestinian Football Federation (PFA) submitted a motion to FIFA calling for Israel’s suspension until it complies with the following conditions:

  • letting football participants and all equipment related to the sport  move freely in, out and within Palestine;
  • no longer obstruct or otherwise prevent the building and maintenance of Palestinian football facilities;
  • banning football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements from Israeli Football Federation (IFA) competitions;
  • requiring IFA to take firm action to eliminate racist, apartheid practices within its own leagues; and
  • requiring IFA to recognize the PFA as the sole governing body for football within Palestine.

These conditions address longstanding grievances – so far without resolution. Palestinian officials say suspending Israel is needed to change things.

Washington targets FIFA

Instead of going after war criminals, CIA and Pentagon torturers, banker mega-crooks, other corporate thieves, corrupt politicians on the take, dirty cops, and other major US offenders demanding prosecution, Washington targeted the Zurich, Switzerland-based International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) outside its jurisdiction.

It’s pressuring Swiss authorities to extradite FIFA officials to America to face criminal corruption charges.

The timing of the indictments and arrests wasn’t coincidental – two days before FIFA’s annual general meeting with its officials in one place at a luxury Zurich hotel.

Blatter is up for reelection. So far he’s not charged. According to US officials, he’s not cleared yet. Whether what’s ongoing affects his reelection remains to be seen.

A 47-count indictment charges 14  individuals with racketeering, bribery and more

A 47-count indictment charges 14  individuals with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering among other offenses as part of “a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer,” according to the Justice Department.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said “(t)he indictment spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

“Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.”

America and Switzerland have an extradition treaty. A Swiss judge will decide what happens next. Even if extradition is ordered, individuals affected can appeal.

So-called “dual criminality” is a requirement many countries observe – namely that crimes alleged by one nation are recognized as such by the other before extradition can be considered.

The legal process in this case is expected to take months to work its way through Switzerland’s judicial process – maybe much longer if appeals are made.

Some earlier cases dragged on for years. If extradition is rejected, Washington would likely issue so-called “red notices” to authorities in other countries – meaning individuals charged would risk arrest and extradition to America if they travel abroad.

According to international law experts, Switzerland is one of the world’s toughest places to win extradition cases – especially on tax related charges.

Some high-profile individuals successfully contested US extradition requests – notably film director Roman Polanski.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded sharply to Washington’s indictments – saying it extended its legal authority improperly “far beyond its borders.”

Illegal extraterritorial use of US law

“Without going into the details of the accusations…this is clearly another case of illegal extraterritorial use of US law.”

“We hope that this will not in any way be used to cast a shadow on the international football organization as a whole and its decisions.”

“Once again we are calling on Washington to stop attempts to make justice far beyond its borders using its legal norms and to follow the generally accepted international legal procedures.”

Putin called FIFA indictments “an obvious attempt to spread (US) jurisdiction to other states (and) prevent Mr. Blatter’s reelection…which is a gross violation of the principle of functioning international organizations.”

“(T)he United States has no relation to” FIFA affairs. The individuals charged “are not US citizens, and if some event has taken place, it happened not on US soil…”

FIFA and Olympic competition are more about profiteering, exploitation and corruption than sport. Yet little is done to change things.

So why now? Why target FIFA – especially at this time? Draw your own conclusions.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. 

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Source:  Washington Wages War on International Soccer  Global Research

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Vatican officially recognizes the state of Palestine

Source: rt.com
May 13, 2015

The Vatican has become the latest country to recognize the state of Palestine, after a new treaty was finalized on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly Israel has hit out at the move, saying that it damages prospects for peace in the region.

pope francis and palestinian president abbasThe treaty, which was agreed, though has yet to be formally signed states the Vatican has switched its diplomatic allegiance from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine. It was finalized days before the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Pope Francis.

Abbas traveling to the Vatican

Abbas is traveling to the Vatican to attend the canonization of four new saints by the Pope, two of which are Palestinian nuns. The move to grant them sainthood has been described as a “sign of hope” for the region by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, Vatican Insider reports.

The Vatican has been unofficially referring to the state of Palestine for over a year. Pope Francis visited Israel last year and the Vatican’s official program referred to Abbas as the president of the state of Palestine. During his visit to the Holy Land, he called for peace from both sides.

A spokesman for the Vatican, the Reverend Federico Lombardi confirmed the news saying: “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” AP reports.

Condemnation from Israel

The decision has brought condemnation from Israel, with the country’s foreign ministry saying it was “disappointed” at the move.

“This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the ministry said in a text message, AP reported. “Israel will study the agreement and will consider its steps accordingly.”

Not politically motivated but in line with the Holy See’s position

Vatican Foreign Minister Monsignor Antoine Camilleri said the move was not politically motivated, but was simply in line with the Holy See’s position.

In 2012, the Vatican welcomed a decision by the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state. However, the latest treaty is the first legal document between the Vatican and the state of Palestine, which can be considered as official diplomatic recognition.

The treaty in question concerns the activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine. In April 2014, a Catholic Monastery was vandalized not far from the Israeli capital of Jerusalem in a hate crime carried out by Israelis. Slogans condemning peace talks with Palestine as well as graffiti disparaging Jesus and Mary was daubed on the walls.

The first genocide of the 20th century

This is not the first time that Pope Francis has made a diplomatic decision that was not to everyone’s liking. In April, he honored the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks and called it “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

During a mass at the Armenian Catholic rite at Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said he had a duty to honor the innocent men, women, children, priests and bishops who were murdered by the Ottoman Turks.

Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” said the pontiff.

Source:  Vatican officially recognizes Palestine  rt.com

Lauryn Hill cancels Israeli concert

African-American singer Lauryn Hill has cancelled her concert in Israel after coming under pressure from activists on social media.

lauryn hillThe Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) wrote palestinian campaignan open letter to her explaining that “performing in Israel today is the equivalent of performing in Sun City South Africa during the apartheid era.” It also alerted that the performance, due to take place on 7 May “is a week before we Palestinians commemorate the catastrophe of 1948.”

Killing me softly

A petition was also started by End the Occupation and an online campaign went viral using the hashtag #KillingMeSoftly, named after one of her most famous songs, alongside devastating pictures of Palestinian suffering in the hands of the Israeli occupation. Her songs were also parodied by activists.

My intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah

Following her cancellation, she wrote a letter to her Israeli fans on Facebook saying: “When deciding to play the region, my intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge.” She added that her trip was to also be in support of “justice and peace”.

Meanwhile, African Jews are facing their own struggle in Israel, as protests broke out last week inspired by the Baltimore struggle, demanding for greater rights and recognition as Jews and Israelis regardless of their heritage.

Source:  Lauryn Hill cancels Israeli concert after calls for boycott   Middle East Monitor

Raul Castro: Normalization of relations will not be possible as long as the blockade exists

Raul Castro’s speech at the 3rd CELAC Summit
Belen, Costa Rica
January 28, 2015

Esteemed President Luis Guillermo Solís; Esteemed Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean; Esteemed Heads of the Delegations and guests accompanying us:

raul speaks at 3rd celac summit in costa rica 2Our America has entered a new era and has advanced, since the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in its goals of independence, sovereignty over its natural resources, integration, the construction of a new world order, social justice and democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

Today there is a commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples which is superior to that in any other historical period. Together, we are the third largest economy in the world, the area with the second largest oil reserves, the greatest biodiversity on the planet and a high concentration of the globe’s mineral resources.

Unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences

To develop unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences will remain our primary purpose and an inescapable necessity, because the world’s problems are serious, and great dangers and tough challenges persist which transcend national and even sub-regional possibilities. Over the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth have allowed us to confront the global economic crisis and made possible a reduction in poverty, unemployment and unequal income distribution.

The profound political and social transformations carried out in several countries in the region have brought dignity to millions of families who have escaped poverty. But the Latin American and Caribbean region remains the most unequal on the planet. On average, 20% of households with the lowest incomes receive 5% of total income; 167 million people still suffer from poverty, one in five children under-15 live in poverty, and the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million. Half of our youth do not have secondary education or a ninth grade education, but, in the lower income sector, 78% do not complete their studies. Two thirds of the new generation do not reach university.

What would the tens of millions of marginalized say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

The number of victims of organized crime and violence, which threatens the stability and progress of nations, is increasing. What would be the thoughts of the tens of millions of marginalized on democracy and human rights? What would their opinion be regarding political models? What would they argue about election laws? Is this the civil society which governments and international organizations take into account? What would they say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

Little do many of the industrialized States have to show our region in this respect, where half of youth are unemployed, the crisis is heaped onto the workers, and students are repressed while the bankers are protected, unionization is prevented, lower wages are paid to women for equal work, inhumane policies are applied against immigrants, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and neo-fascist tendencies are on the rise, and where citizens do not vote because they see no alternative to political corruption, or they know that election promises are soon forgotten.

We are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems

raul addresses the 3rd celac summit in costa ricaTo achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, we are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems, patterns of production and consumption, the relationship between economic growth and development, and also, the effectiveness of political models.

We must overcome the structural gaps; ensure high quality free education, free universal health coverage, social security for all, equal opportunities, and the full exercise of all human rights for all people. Within such efforts, an elementary duty will be solidarity and defense of the interests of the Caribbean and, in particular, Haiti.

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required, where the interests and needs of the countries of the South, and of the majority, are accommodated and prioritized, in which those who impose the concentration of capital and neoliberalism do not prevail.

un logoThe [UN] post 2015 Development Agenda must provide solutions to the structural problems of economies of the region, and generate the changes that will lead to sustainable development.

It is also essential to build a world of peace, governed by the Principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law, without which development is impossible.

Vigorous condemnation of the unilateral sanctions against Venezuela

The signing by heads of state and government of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace marked a historic step forward and provides a reference for relations between our states and with the rest of the world. Solidarity in Our America will be decisive to advancing common interests.

Maduro y Raul ALBA 10We express vigorous condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustified unilateral sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the continuing external intervention aimed at creating a climate of instability in this sister nation.

Cuba, profoundly familiar with all these tales, having endured them itself for over 50 years, reiterates its firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas

raul y christinaWe join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. We support the South American nation and it’s President Cristina Fernández, who faces attacks from hedge funds and the decisions of venal courts, in violation of the sovereignty of this country.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa, in support of their demand for compensation for environmental damage caused by transnational Chevron in Ecuador’s Amazon. As we have said before, the Community will be incomplete as long as Puerto Rico is absent. Its colonial situation is unacceptable, and it’s Latin American and Caribbean character leaves no room for doubt.

In the Colombian peace process, the agreements reached by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army in the conversations taking place in Havana are significant. Never before have they advanced so much in the direction of achieving peace.

We  support the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations

Ralph Gonsalves 7Cuba, in its capacity as guarantor and venue of these talks, will continue providing the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible to an end to the conflict, and the construction of a just and lasting peace in the sister nation of Colombia. We resolutely support, as we have done to date, the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations for the damages caused by slavery and colonialism, as well as resolutely opposing the decision to deprive them of vital financial resources on the basis of technocratic pretexts characterizing them as middle-income countries. We recognize the excellent developments achieved in the CELAC-China Forum and regional links with the BRICS group.

We reiterate our concern regarding the enormous and growing military expenditures imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, such as the attempt to extend their aggressive presence to the borders of Russia, with which we have historic, fraternal and mutually beneficial relations. We energetically oppose the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on this nation. The growing aggression of the NATO military doctrine and the development of unconventional warfare – which have already had devastating consequences and grave results – threaten peace and international security.

For Cuba, the principal of the sovereign equality of all states and peoples’ right to self-determination is inalienable.

The United Nations General Assembly must use its faculties to safeguard international peace and security, given the Security Council’s double standards, excesses and omissions.

The UN must offer full membership to Palestine without further delay

un and palestine Full membership must be offered to Palestine without further delay, to which the people and government of Cuba convey their solidarity.

The Security Council’s veto, which ensures that Israel’s crimes go unpunished, must end. Africa, where our roots also lie, does not need advice or interference, but the transfer of financial resources, technology and fair trade.

We will forever defend the legitimate interests of the nations with which we struggle, shoulder to shoulder, against colonialism and apartheid, and with which we maintain relations of fraternity and cooperation.

Cuba’s voice will tirelessly defend just causes

We always remember their unwavering solidarity and support. Cuba’s voice will tirelessly defend just causes and the interests of Southern countries and will remain faithful to their objectives and common positions, in the knowledge that homeland is humanity.

The foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution will remain faithful to its principles. Esteemed colleagues: Last December 17, saw the return to the homeland of Cuban anti-terrorists, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who together with Fernando González and René González are a source of pride and an example of conviction.

The President of the United States acknowledged the failure of his nation’s policy toward Cuba

obama y raulThe President of the United States acknowledged the failure of his nation’s policy toward Cuba, implemented for over 50 years, the country’s complete isolation as a result; and the damages which the blockade has caused to our people. He has ordered a review of the obviously unjustifiable inclusion of the island on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Also on that day, he announced the decision to re-establish U.S. diplomatic relations with our government.

These changes are the result of almost a century and a half of heroic struggle and loyalty to principles of the Cuban people. They were also made possible thanks to the new era our region is experiencing, and to the firm, valiant demands made by the governments and peoples of CELAC.

The great failure for the US at Cartegena

These changes vindicate Our America, which worked in close collaboration, in the United Nations and all other spheres, to achieve this objective. Preceded by the ALBA Summit in Cumaná, Venezuela, the discussions held in the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Puerto España, Trinidad and Tobago, led President Obama, at that time recently elected, to propose a new beginning with Cuba. In Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, a strong debate took place in which the blockade was unanimously and categorically rejected, compelling an important U.S. leader to describe the occasion as the great failure of Cartagena, or disaster – was the exact phrase – and during which Cuba’s exclusion from these events was debated.

Strong support for Cuba

Ecuador, in protest, had decided not to participate. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia stated that they would not attend another summit without the presence of Cuba, a sentiment which received support from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Caribbean Community assumed a similar stance. Mexico and the remaining nations also agreed. Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, before his inauguration, resolutely announced that he would invite Cuba, with full rights and equality of conditions, to the Seventh Summit of the Americas, and that is what he did.

One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army

jose marti 4Cuba immediately confirmed that it would attend. This demonstrates Martí’s precision when he wrote “One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army.” (Applause) To all those present, I express Cuba’s most profound gratitude. To the 188 states which voted against the blockade in the United Nations; to those who made a similar demand at the General Assembly and international summits and conferences; and to all the popular movements, political forces, parliaments and personalities who tirelessly worked to achieve this objective, on behalf of Cuba, I sincerely thank you. To the people of the United States who expressed growing opposition to the hostile policy and the blockade, imposed for over five decades, I also convey our appreciation and friendly sentiments.

These outcomes show that governments with profound differences can find a solution to their problems, through respectful dialogue and exchanges on the basis of sovereign equality and reciprocity, for the benefit of their respective nations.

Cuba will not renounce its ideals of independence and social justice

As I have repeatedly stated, Cuba and the United States must learn the art of civilized co-existence, based on respect for the differences which exist between both governments and cooperation on issues of common interest, which contribute to solving the challenges we are facing in the hemisphere and the world. However, it must not be supposed that, in order to achieve this, Cuba would renounce its ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimetre in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We will not invite, or accept any attempt to advise or exert pressure regarding our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks.

Cuba’s position to the US State department

Could diplomatic relations be restored without resuming the financial services of the Cuban Interests Section and its Consular Office in Washington, denied as a consequence of the financial blockade? How can diplomatic relations be restored without removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of international terrorism? What will be the future conduct of U.S. diplomats in Havana, in regards to observing the diplomatic and consular norms established by International Conventions?

This is what our delegation has said to the State Department during the bilateral talks held last week, and more meetings are required to address these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our willingness to advance toward normalization of bilateral relations, once diplomatic relations are re-established, which would imply the adopting of measures by both parties to improve the climate between the two countries, to resolve other pending problems, and move forward on cooperation.

The current situation discreetly opens an opportunity for the hemisphere to encounter new, superior ways to cooperate, which would serve the two Americas. This would allow pressing problems to be resolved, and open new paths.

Every state has the inalienable right to choose its own political, economic, social, cultural system

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace constitutes an indispensable foundation for this, including the recognition that every state has the inalienable right to choose its own political, economic, social, cultural system, without interference of any kind on the part of another state, which constitutes an undeniable principle of international law, The principal problem has not been resolved.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes great human and economic damage and violates international law, must end.

I remember the memorandum written by Undersecretary Mallory, in April of 1960, which, given the lack of an effective political opposition [in Cuba], proposed the objective of creating hunger, desperation and suffering to provoke the overthrow of the revolutionary government. Now, everything seems to indicate that the objective is to create an artificial political opposition though economic, political and communications means.

Normalization of relations will not be possible as long as the blockade exists

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process which can progress toward normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible as long as the blockade exists, or as long as the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned (Applause), or radio and television broadcasts which violate international norms continue, or just compensation is not provided our people for the human and economic damage they have suffered.

It would not be ethical, just, or acceptable that something was requested of Cuba in return.

If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States makes no sense.

Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals

Neither can it be expected that Cuba would agree to negotiate aspects mentioned with respect to our absolutely sovereign, internal affairs. Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals.

To continue advancing, this is how it must be. We have carefully followed the U.S. President’s announcement of some executive decisions to modify certain aspects of the blockade’s application. The measures announced are very limited.

Prohibitions on credit and the use of the dollar in international financial transactions remain in place; individual travel by U.S. citizens is hampered under the system of licenses for so-called people-to-people exchanges; these are conditioned by subversive goals; and maritime travel is not allowed.

President Obama could  use his  executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade even without a decision by Congress

Prohibitions remain on the acquisition in other markets of equipment and technology with more than 10% U.S. components, and on imports by the United States of goods containing Cuban raw materials, among many, many others. President Barack Obama could decisively use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade, that which is in his hands, even without a decision by Congress.

He could permit, in other sectors of the economy, all that he has authorized in the arena of telecommunications, with evident objectives of political influence in Cuba.

They are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives

His decision to hold a discussion with Congress on eliminating the blockade is significant. U.S. government spokespeople have been very clear in specifying that they are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives, and insist on continuing to intervene in our internal affairs, which we are not going to accept. Our U.S. counterparts should not plan on developing relations with Cuban society as if there were no sovereign government in Cuba. (Applause).

No one should dream that the new policy announced means acceptance of the existence of a socialist revolution 90 miles from Florida.

They want so-called civil society to be present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, and this is what Cuba has always said. We have protested what has occurred at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and Quebec, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, and whenever the G-7 or International Monetary Fund meet, when civil society is placed behind steel fences, faces brutal police repression, or is confined to locations dozens of kilometres from the events.

Representation of popular movements and non-governmental organizations

Of course Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there are no restrictions on our country’s non-governmental organizations, which obviously have no interest, or any status within the OAS, but are recognized by the UN.

occupy wall streetI hope to be able to see in Panama the popular movements and non-governmental organizations which advocate for nuclear disarmament, for the environment, against neoliberalism, the Occupy Wall Street and the indignados of this region, university and high school students, farmers, trade unions, communities of original peoples, organizations which oppose the contamination caused by fracking, those defending the rights of immigrants and denouncing torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality, racist practices, those who demand equal pay for women for equal work, those demanding compensation for damage caused by transnational corporations. Nevertheless, the announcements made December 17 have generated world recognition, and President Obama has received very broad support within his own country. Some forces in the United States will try to abort this process which is beginning.

Ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process

They are the same enemies of a just relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, those who disrupt bilateral relations with many countries in our region with that nation, those who always blackmail and pressure.

We know that ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process, which will require the support, the mobilization and resolute action of all persons of good will in the United States and the world; approval on the part of the United Nations General Assembly, during its next session, of the resolution calling for its elimination; and in particular, concerted action by Our America.

Congratulations to Costa Rica; full support to Ecuador

celac 3rd summit in costa rica3We congratulate Costa Rica, President Solís and his government for the work done at the helm of CELAC. We welcome and offer our full support to Ecuador and President Correa, who will lead the Community in 2015.

correa at the 3rd celac summitin costa ricaMany thanks. (Applause).

Source:  President Raúl Castro speaks to Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica Granma

Argentina: Cristina Fernandez Calls the Vulture Funds ‘Economic Terrorists’

Cristina FernandezShe said, “terrorists are also those who destabilize a country’s economy through speculation.” President Fernandez also recalled that since 2003 Argentina had “cancelled all debt to the IMF,” and also recently reached an arrangement with Repsol when the government expropriated 51 percent” of YPF, the state oil company.

The President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez slammed the vulture funds, calling them “economic terrorists” in her speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, which largely focused on Argentina’s debt struggles. The Argentine head of state also highlighted her nation’s remarkable economic recovery from the 2001 default, to have the third highest growth between 2004 and 2011.

She started by saying that the majority of the problems facing the world today “are due to the lack of effective clear cut democratic multilateralism.”

The head of state began by “expressing thanks to this General Assembly … for creating a multilateral convention which will be a regulatory framework convention to restructure sovereign debts of all countries.”

I hope that we will be able to build active and constructive multilateralism

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