Havana is home to the most African embassies in Latin America

Source:  Granma

Photo: cadenagramonte.cu

Despite the geographical distance and economic limitations, regionally Cuba is home to the most African embassies, a continent with which it shares many historic and cultural ties.
With the opening of the Kenyan Embassy in the Cuban capital, set to take place this Friday March 16, there will now be 22 nations from Sub-Saharan Africa with diplomatic missions in the country, according to information by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
Although African countries have embassies located throughout the region, there are less than a dozen missions in bigger and economically stronger nations on our continent, like Mexico and Brazil.

The Republic of the Seychelles

Meanwhile, an important event occurred in April last year with the opening of the Embassy of the Republic of the Seychelles in Havana, the island’s first in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Attending the inauguration was the country’s President Danny Faure, who studied Political Science in Cuba.

In addition to Africa’s roots in Cuban society, culture and history, the 1959 Revolution also inspired and supported anti-colonial struggles on the continent.
Cuban soldiers for example, gave their lives to help several African countries secure their freedom, while tens of thousands of doctors, athletes, and teachers have contributed, and continue contributing, to the social and economic development of these nations.

In addition to the vast number of young Africans currently studying on the island, Cuba has also trained thousands of students from that continent who now hold important and even senior political positions in their countries of origin



Raúl receives President of Kenya

Source:  Granma
March 16 2018

Photo: Estudio Revolución

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, yesterday March 15, received his Excellency Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, who is making an official visit to the country.

In an atmosphere of cordiality, the two leaders agreed on emphasizing the relations of friendship that exist between their countries and their intention to strengthen political ties and cooperation. They likewise expressed their mutual satisfaction with the opening of a Kenyan embassy in Havana and discussed issues on the international agenda.

Raúl thanked the government of Kenya for the help offered to support recovery efforts in the wake of damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

Accompanying the distinguished guest were Monica K. Juma, minister of Foreign Relations and International Trade; Rashid Achesa Mohamud, minister of Sports and Culture; as well as the Kenyan interim chargé de affaires in Havana, Anthony Mushiry; and Raphael Tuju, secretary general of the Jubileo Party.

On the Cuban side, also participating were Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, and Abel Prieto Jiménez – ministers of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Investment, and Culture, respectively – as well as ambassador Ernesto Gómez Díaz

A moral bastion named Cuba

Source:  Granma
March 9 2018

Photo: Alainet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A beloved Revolution

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

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

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

The deepening of democracy

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

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

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

Lessons, Successes, Failures of the West Virginia Teachers Strike

Source:  Black Agenda Report
March 8 2018

west virginia teachers strike

The 9 day West Virginia school strike was a long time coming, and contains a number of useful, if not new lessons.

The first not at all new lesson is that successful strikes are possible wherever an overwhelming majority of the workforce is committed to it, whether or not those worker are in a “right to work ” state, and whether or not the strike is endorsed by their union if they have a union at all. Neither of West Virginia’s two teachers unions endorsed the strike, and the leaders of both unions initially and repeatedly attempted to “settle” it for far less than the striking workers demanded.

A second lesson was that illegal strikes can succeed. Although a teacher walkout was explicitly prohibited by state law Governor Jim Justice dared not seek an injunction ordering teachers and others back to work because they enjoyed far too much public support. The largely successful New York City transit worker strike of December 2005 was illegal too, but workers achieved most of their objectives, despite the fact that the union leadership was forced by the authorities to resign and spend a few days in jail.

A third not at all new lesson was that all for one and one for all solidarity is key to successful strikesBack in 1990 when teachers struck, school bus drivers were taking children right through their picket lines into the schools. This time the teachers went out along with the janitors, the bus drivers, the food service workers all demanding a 5% across the board pay increase, not just for school employees but for all state workers, along with a fix on ballooning health care premiums, out of pocket costs and an end to invasive and humiliating requirements for continued health insurance. When state legislators offered raises to the teachers alone they were emphatically hooted down.

A fourth lesson is that what happens in a workplace isn’t confined to that workplace. A worker is a whole person, a renter or mortgage debtor, a student loan debtor, a member of this or that church or other formation. People carry their home concerns into the workplace, and their workplace concerns home. They don’t stop being parents or residents of communities poisoned and pillaged by greedy extractive industries when they go to work. Part of the popularity of the teachers’ cause was their demand that the urgently needed health insurance fix come from a tax on the energy companies which have ravaged the state’s land and people the last dozen decades.

A fifth lesson, again not a new one at all is that in a wildcat strike the union officials may want to prematurely settle. The West Virginia strike was organized from the bottom up, not by union leaders. Beginning the second day of the strike union leaders and the governor’s office were already announcing its conclusion, the first time based upon a mere handshake with the governor. Teachers at the state capital and impromtu meetings in malls and other locations around the state rejected these premature deals. The final back-to-work agreement was distributed to workers, according to the World Socialist Website via robocall before the governor had signed any legislation.

What the teachers got, what they didn’t get.

What the teachers got was a 5% pay increase for all state workers, from cops to secretaries to janitors, assuming these are not outsourced as they are in most places nowadays, and a guarantee that the state will deduct union dues from paychecks, along with the understanding that unions are free to use these funds for political purposes.

They didn’t come close to achieving a tax on energy companies to fix the health insurance mess. They settled for representation on a so-called “task force” which is supposed to look into fixes for the state’s public employee health plan, and report back in October, theoretically in time for teachers and their allies to punish uncooperative parties at the polls. Some teachers called it a sellout.

But with two nearly interchangeable parties of capital in power, the outlook is far from rosy. Both houses of West Virginia’s legislature are dominated by Republicans, and most politicians of both parties are deep in the pockets of global corporations that shear off, grind up and sift entire mountain tops for the remaining coal, that poison the state’s water extracting shale and natural gas and which dump their toxic leavings pretty much wherever they please.

Governor Jim Justice is a billionaire scofflaw, the richest man in the state with holdings in resorts, energy companies and more who switched to the Democratic party to win the governorship in 2015, and rejoined the Republican party in 2017 to get on the Donald Trump train. Both West Virginia teachers unions endorsed Justice in his run for governor. A 2016 NPR investigation identified $15 million in delinquent taxes and fines owed by the governor’s mining companies in six states including $6.8 million in Kentucky and $4.7 million in West Virginia. By contrast, in many states (including Virginia but not West Virginia) nonpayment of state taxes or delinquent student loans will get your drivers license and/or professional license suspended.

The governor says the first year’s pay increase can be paid for with money the state already has, though it may be “prudent” to cut Medicaid. Republican legislative leaders however, declare that any pay increase must come from cutting money the state provides to local governments and Medicaid, which pays for the medical care of many poor children in West Virginia schools. Sick children, the poor and disabled do not possess the weapon of the strike. So there’s that. If some teachers feel both victorious and a bit sold out at the same time it’s easy to understand.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that union membership may be rising in West Virginia, as many who did not see the need for a union before this, or those who imagined they couldn’t afford to pay union dues are reconsidering. Though union leadership seemed more intent on ending the strike quickly than achieving its goals, union members in local schools figured prominently in the strike and the efforts leading up to it.

Last month, during oral arguments of the Janus case before the Supreme Court, labor lawyers declared that union recognition in a way, is the price for labor peace. When employers declare war upon organized workers, they should not be surprised when workers do the same to them, with or without the sanction of their unions. The fight is far from over in West Virginia, and teachers in Kentucky, Ohio and Oklahoma are considering the possibility of statewide job actions. In Oklahoma City the school board and superintendent are on record backing teachers if they decide to strike for more pay and better funding for schools there.

2018 is an election year, and there is little doubt that Democrats will attempt to harness and divert as much of this energy into the safe channels of their billionaire funded party, as they did in Wisconsin back in 2011. Starving and de-funding public education and breaking teacher unions have been the bipartisan project of both parties for a long time now. There are sharp struggles ahead.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA, the company town of Lockheed-Martin the Pentagon’s biggest contractor and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Raul Castro: Our peoples have no future without unity, without integration

Source:  Granma
March 72018

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the 15th ALBA-TCP Summit, held in Caracas

(Council of State transcript / GI translation)

raul at alba summit 2018c.jpgCompañero Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;

Esteemed Heads of State and Government;

Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests:

This March 5, on which we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of President Hugo Chávez Frías, founder together with Fidel of ALBA, my first words are dedicated to reaffirming our tribute to his work and his example and the unwavering loyalty to his legacy.

Today, ALBA has as its strategic and urgent task the joint defense of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

maduro at alba 2018.jpg

The military threat, hostility and economic aggression of U.S. imperialism against Venezuela; the neoliberal onslaught to reverse the social gains; the interference against the sovereignty of progressive governments; the attempts to dismantle the progress in the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, destabilize the region and pose risks to regional peace and security.

The United States, since 1999 when Comandante Hugo Chávez became President, and even more so when compañero Nicolás Maduro did so, has resorted to methods of unconventional warfare, with the aim of defeating this country, the owner of immense riches coveted by imperialism. President Donald Trump has just renewed the executive order that declares Venezuela an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

The threats to peace and stability in Venezuela also represent a threat to regional peace and stability.

Some appear to have forgotten the lessons of the past, the cruel years of the military dictatorships, the impact of neoliberalism; that they attempt to reinstate the disastrous consequences that the policies of extortion, humiliation and isolation had for our region that, as then, have the United States as their chief articulator.

They openly announce the full validity and relevance of the Monroe Doctrine which proclaims colonial subordination to the governments and corporations of Washington and that, as Bolívar warned, plagued Our America with sorrow and misery in the name of liberty.

Once again, they underestimate our peoples.

We proclaim unwavering support for the Bolivarian Revolution and the civic-military union of its people, led by their President, compañero Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We condemn the unilateral coercive measures and external interference against the Bolivarian and Chavista process that threaten the peace and dialogue between Venezuelans, with destabilizing purposes, and create hardships for its population.

Cease the economic aggression against Venezuela so that its people can enjoy the rights conquered by their Revolution.

We reject the exclusion of President Nicolás Maduro from the 8th Summit of the Americas. This illegal decision is unacceptable and interventionist, whilst it takes the hemisphere back to stages that appeared to have been overcome.

Exclusions do not contribute at all to peace, dialogue or hemispheric understanding.

It is unacceptable that a group of countries, with no right or mandate, intend to speak for the region and serve as an instrument of aggression against a member of the Latin American and Caribbean family, using as a pretext an alleged rupture of the democratic order, precisely in a country that has undertaken more than twenty electoral processes and has now called presidential elections, as was previously demanded, even via violent methods.

Why don’t they denounce the covert coup d’états, the massacres, the forced disappearances suffered by the peoples of the region?

Nor do we recognize any moral authority of the discredited Organization of American States (OAS) to give lessons in democracy, governability or constitutionality.

They violate the postulates of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, during the 2nd CELAC Summit, in Havana, and evade strict compliance with the obligation not to interfere, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state, and observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and the self-determination of the peoples.

The only solution to the problems of Venezuelans is in the hands of Venezuelans themselves.

Esteemed compañeros:

I speak on behalf of our Revolution and our people, as will any other Cuban compatriot from this position in the future, who will always know, as Fidel believed, that “Our peoples have no future without unity, without integration.”

Bolívar and Martí, Fidel and Chávez bequeathed us invaluable teachings, among them loyalty to principles. Their lessons show us the course to follow in this decisive hour of the Great Homeland, which calls for our unity to forge together our second and definitive independence. Thank you very much. (Applause).

Cuba: ALBA-TCP´s strategic and urgent task is to defend Venezuela

Source:  Radio Havana Cuba
March 5 2018

raul march 2018 in caracas.jpg

Caracas, March 5 (RHC)– Cuban President Raul Castro has said that the joint defense of Venezuela is the strategic and urgent task of the ALBA regional bloc.

Speaking at the 15th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas –People´s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) held in Caracas Monday, the Cuban leader added that the threats against peace and stability in Venezuela represent a threat to regional stability and peace.

“We proclaim our unwavering support for the Bolivarian Revolution and the civic-military union of its people, led by its president Nicolás Maduro,” he stressed.

In his address, the Cuban president condemned the unilateral measures and the external interference against the Bolivarian and Chavista process that threatens the dialogue among Venezuelans.

He also criticized the exclusion of President Nicolás Maduro from the 8th Summit of the Americas, scheduled for next April in Lima, Peru.  “This illegal decision is unacceptable and interventionist, and it takes the hemisphere back to stages that seemed to be long gone.”

He mentioned how the 19th century Monroe Doctrine, which claims Latin American and Caribbean countries colonial subordination to Washington, is being proclaimed as valid and relevant by the current resident of the White House.

The Cuban leader also rejected current attempts underway to dismantle regional integration mechanisms, as well as the unconventional war methods used by Washington since 1999 to subdue the Venezuelan revolution.

“The only solution to the problems of Venezuelans is in the hands of Venezuelans themselves,” he said.

In concluding his remarks, Raul Castro alluded to his forthcoming departure as Cuban president, and insisted on the need for unity among the countries of the region.

“I speak on behalf of our Revolution and our people, as any other Cuban patriot will do tomorrow from this position, always knowing, as Fidel believed, that our peoples have no future without unity, without integration.”

The Cuban leader ratified Cuba´s loyalty to the legacy of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

World Peace Council: We reject US interference for the destabilization of Venezuela!

Source:  World Peace Council
February 5 2017

world peace council 6.jpgWith renewed alarm and repudiation, we again denounce US imperialism in its interference in the affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, reaffirmed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who suggested that the Government of President Nicolás Maduro could be overthrown by the Venezuelan Army.

Beginning a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean, Tillerson even referred to past military coups that overthrew popular or progressive governments under the guidance and support of the United States and imposed untold suffering on the people! The dictatorships fed and coordinated by his country decreed as politics the terror of the criminals who instituted the torture basements, the kidnappings and murders, for decades. That is why memory and indignation will surely prevent Latin Americans from accepting such ignominy!

Solidarity with the Venezuelan people

The World Peace Council has repeatedly affirmed its solidarity with the Venezuelan people in defending the Bolivarian Revolution, stability and peace in the country, based primarily on respect for Venezuela’s sovereignty and internal political dialogue, without foreign interference. It is widely known, however, that the increasingly fascist opposition in the country counts on the broad support and encouragement of US imperialism, as evidenced by the criminal attitude of its Secretary of State and that of other reactionary forces in Latin America.

Therefore, we express total repudiation of any attempt by the US to promote the destabilization of Venezuela and the region, by insulting democracy and the sovereignty of nations! We repudiate the persistent media war and inflammatory speeches against the government of President Maduro, who is legitimately elected and committed to a solution to the crisis.

We vehemently reject any suggestion of intervention or military coup promoted by reactionary forces and US imperialism. We believe that the incitement will certainly be frustrated by the conscious and already asserted support of Venezuelan officials for the defense of their country’s peace and sovereignty, rejecting the role of the slaughterers of democracy that the US would like to see them play.

Hands off Venezuela, now!

Down with imperialist interference!

Socorro Gomes
President of the World Peace Council