The Caribbean: The challenges of integration on the empire’s frontier

Source:  Granma
December 7 2017

by: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | internet@granma.cu

 

cuba sent humanitarian aid.jpg

Cuba sent as much humanitarian aid as it could to the islands most severely affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: Sergio Alejandro Gómez

Former President of Dominica Juan Bosch described the Caribbean as an “imperial frontier,” and point of conflict between the economic and political interests of global powers, a reality which hasn’t changed since the time of Christopher Columbus.

A long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles

Behind the façade of beautiful beaches and multi-colored neighborhoods which cover the front page of magazines all over the world, the region has a long history of exploitation, underdevelopment, and power struggles.

It seems therefore that despite language and cultural differences, integration among the peoples of the Caribbean is the only possible way to wipe away the vast debts of its colonial past, which some countries, like the United States, are trying to reimpose today.

December 8 1972 – a turning point

December 8, marks the 45th anniversary of a gesture which transformed Cuba’s relationship with other Caribbean nations. On that date in 1972, the heads of state of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana, which had recently gained their independence, decided to establish diplomatic relations with the revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro.

The decision set off alarms in Washington, which was using all the political means at its disposal to isolate Cuba, whose economy was growing rapidly despite U.S. attempts to sabotage it.

“Probably, the leaders of these countries, also considered the founding fathers of the independence of their nations and of Caribbean integration, – Errol Barrow from Barbados, Forbes Burnham from Guyana, Michael Manley from Jamaica, and Eric Williams from Trinidad and Tobago – realized that their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was paving the way for the future foreign policy of the Caribbean Community, which to this day stands on three major pillars: independence, courage, and concerted action,” stated Fidel on the 30th anniversary of the seminal event.

Over 5000 Caribbean youth

One would be hard pressed to find a single corner of the Caribbean where Cuba has not left its mark. Tens of thousands of collaborators from different sectors, including healthcare, education, engineering, and construction, have helped to transform the reality of some of the region’s most impoverished communities, the ones that don’t appear on tourist posters.

Likewise, according to official sources, over 5,000 youth from the Caribbean have been trained in Cuba over recent decades, and are now serving their communities in their native countries.

6th Caricom-Cuba Summit

The 6th Caricom-Cuba Summit, which took place on December 8 in Antigua and Barbuda, provided a new opportunity to review the work of the mechanism since its founding 15 years ago, in Havana, 2002.

There currently exists broad cooperation across various strategic sectors such as health, sports, education, culture, and construction. But, as has been noted in previous encounters, there remains much more potential to be exploited.

Trade between Caricom nations and Cuba

According to information presented in March of this year by Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, trade between Caricom nations and Cuba exceeded 120 million USD in 2016, almost double that of the previous year. However, this figure still falls below its real potential.  The event in Antigua and Barbuda enabled delegations from commercial and business sectors to sit down and evaluate new opportunities in this area.

Regional solidarity

This year the powerful hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean nations, proving the vulnerability of small island nations of the region to increasingly severe natural disasters which affect the area.

The force of the winds, and the scale of the disaster, put Caribbean institutions and international solidarity to the test, however it must be noted that neighboring countries were the first to send aid to the most affected zones.

In Dominica, where almost 90% of homes were damaged, the most critical victims were transported by air to neighboring islands to receive urgent medical treatment.
Likewise, search and rescue teams from Cuba and Venezuela were among the first to arrive in the country to save those trapped by mudslides and floods.

Regional organizations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) mobilized vital resources and the Regional Security System, in partnership with Caricom, helped to impose order at the most crucial moments.

Although Irma caused a fair amount of damage across a good part of the island, Cuba offered help to the most severely affected countries, including Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.

The island also sent a shipment of hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, including food, construction materials, and brigades of linemen, as well as forestry and construction workers, to support recovery efforts on the ground.

Alongside the local people, Cuban healthcare professionals stationed in both countries weathered the impact of the hurricanes, but continued to offer their services throughout.

Meanwhile, a special brigade from the Henry Reeve Contingent was deployed in Dominica for a month, in case epidemics broke out.
Irma and Maria showed that increasingly severe weather events are just one of many other challenges facing the region, above all attempts by the U.S. to re-exert its dominance in the area.

Cuban national hero, José Martí, believed that if Cuba and Puerto Rico secured independence it would prevent the United States from extending its control over the rest of Latin America.

In this regard, the position taken by Caribbean nations this year in the Organization of American States (OAS) is proof of the region’s strategic role in blocking maneuvers by the U.S., such as in the case of Venezuela, whose government has come under attack from Washington for attempting to implement profound changes to benefit the population in a country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

Furthermore, the Caribbean’s longstanding rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba, show that the fundamental principles of justice, even when defended by small and vulnerable island nations, prevail over pressure and coercionl by a global power.

“We face similar challenges that can only be met through close unity and efficient cooperation,” stated Army General Raúl Castro during the inauguration of the 5th Caricom-Cuba Summit, held in Havana.

Caribbean and Latin American integration, concluded the Cuban President, is “crucial to our survival.”

Raúl Castro: An increasingly prosperous, equitable, safe, sustainable and united Caribbean is possible

Source:  Cubadebate
December 8 2017

raul in antigua dec 2017.jpg

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit. Antigua and Barbuda, December 8, 2017, “Year 59 of the Revolution.”

(Stenographic Versions – Council of State)

Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda;

Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Granada and President of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom);

Honorable Prime Ministers and Presidents of the other member countries of Caricom;

His Excellency Ambassador Irwin Larocque, Secretary General of Caricom;

His Excellency Mr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States;

Her Excellency June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States;

Distinguished Heads of Delegations, Ministers and Special Guests:

I wish to express to the people and authorities of Antigua and Barbuda sincere gratitude for the expressions of friendship we have received since we arrived in this country and convey the appreciation and gratitude of the Cuban people and government for the expressions of solidarity of the Caribbean brothers after the physical fidel 26disappearance of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who was the initiator, guide and maximum promoter of political ties and cooperation between our countries.

Remember his words on December 8, 2002: “The only way out for our people is integration and cooperation, not only among States, but also among the various regional schemes and organizations.”
I am grateful for the determination of the Honorable Gaston Gaston Browne Antigua 2cBrowne and his government team, who despite the difficulties they face after the destructive passage of Hurricane Irma did not cease in their efforts to guarantee the conditions for the successful celebration of this, the Sixth Caricom-Cuba Summit .

A day like today, 45 years ago, the prime ministers of four countries of the Anglophone Caribbean, recently reached their independence, Errol Barrow, of Barbados; Forbes Burnham, of Guyana; Michael Manley, from Jamaica, and Eric Williams, from Trinidad and Tobago, decided to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

We will never forget that decision, which was a fundamental step for breaking the diplomatic and commercial siege against Cuba. It also allowed deepening the relations between the peoples of Our America, united by centuries of history, culture and neighborhood.

With pride we also celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Caricom-Cuba Summits, whose agreements and results have emanated a deeper and more effective relationship, based on solidarity and cooperation.

A sign of that everlasting friendship was the support that we offered each other before the passage of the two intense hurricanes that hit our region last September. I want to thank you for the expressions of brotherhood and Caribbean solidarity that we received.

A significant step

In this regard, the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the Civil Defense of Cuba and the Caribbean Agency for Disaster and Emergency Management is a significant step.

In the next triennium we foresee the continuity of joint projects, the result of the political will of our governments, such as the Regional School of Arts in Jamaica and the Center for the Stimulation of the Development of Children, Adolescents and Youth with Special Educational Needs, based in in Guyana, which have made progress in their implementation process.

We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. The 5,432 young people from the Caribbean who have been trained and the 723 currently studying in them, as well as the 1,762 Cuban collaborators present in all the Caricom countries, including 1,469 in the health sector, are part of the contribution from Cuba to the development of the Caribbean peoples.

We intend to advance in the development of trade and investments. Between 2014 and 2016 the commercial exchange grew by 70%. This year marches at a good pace. The broad and diverse participation of Caribbean companies and agencies at the Havana Fair, last month, predicts higher growth.

We welcome the implementation, in January 2018, of the Second Protocol to the bilateral Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a document that expands the tariff preferences granted by Cuba and that facilitates access to our markets.

Dear Presidents and Prime Ministers and Guests:

How shall we face the challenge of moving towards development in the midst of the deep economic, social, political and environmental crisis that this hemisphere and the world are suffering? We must do it with unity in our diversity, integration and genuine cooperation among us.

The dangers for the survival of the human species increase. The consequences of the application of concepts not universally accepted as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” are used to cover up interventionist and aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security and call us to defend international law and the full validity of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

We should articulate to demand a fair action by the industrialized powers for the mitigation and adaptation of the effects of climate change, in particular with financial resources and technology transfer; to agree on approaches to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, to collectively address the mechanisms of domination imposed on us by the unjust international financial system.

I reiterate Cuba’s invariable position of supporting, in all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment.

We support the demand, equally just, to receive cooperation according to their 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 the flows of financial resources indispensable for its development

We join our voice against the persecution by transnational financial capital centers that seek to damage the international reputation of the Caribbean countries and hinder their economic development through inclusion in spurious and unilateral lists and singularization in dangerous supranational endeavors, supposedly for the confrontation to corruption.

We strongly support the just demand of the Caribbean Community for compensation from the colonial powers for the horrors of slavery and trafficking.

We also have an urgent duty with our peoples to advance with increasingly solid steps towards the political, economic and social integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Regional integration

Today, the successful trajectory of Caricom, the participation of all its Member States and Cuba in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Association of Caribbean States, as well as the membership of some of us in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, have contributed to the advancement of regional integration, which we must continue to promote. On the other hand, participation in Petrocaribe has represented a guarantee and significant contribution to the development of our countries.

I would like to highlight the signature by the Heads of State and Government of the region of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, on the occasion of the II Summit of Celac, held in Havana in January 2014, which constitutes the basis for the development of relations of mutual respect between the States and the commitment of these with the strict fulfillment of their obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and self-determination of peoples.

Venezuela

That is why we must not allow the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, one of our Latin American and Caribbean nations, to suffer continuous actions that pursue the destruction of its constitutional order. Cuba reiterates its permanent solidarity and support for the heroic Venezuelan people, its civic-military union and the Bolivarian and Chavez government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Haiti

I underline the historical and ethical responsibility of our nations with the sister Republic of Haiti and the need to contribute to its development, with strict adherence to the will of its government and the legitimate needs of its people.

The blockade of Cuba

We Cubans deeply thank our Caribbean brothers for their unalterable position of respect and solidarity towards our country. We will never forget the permanent support for resolutions against the blockade of Cuba, as well as the numerous expressions of solidarity in the general debates of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization and in other international forums.

This support is even more relevant in the face of the setbacks caused by the actions of the new government of the United States against Cuba. The blockade is the biggest obstacle to the economic and social development of our country, and to Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial relations with the world.

Caribbean brothers:

“In the faithful of America are the Antilles,” José Martí wrote in 1894, the most universal of Cubans. His ideas, widely shared today, give us the conviction that an increasingly prosperous, equitable, safe, sustainable and united Caribbean is possible; you can always count on the eternal friendship, gratitude and support of Cuba.

Thank you very much (Applause).

 

Puerto Rican Patriot, Oscar López Rivera, receives Solidarity Order in Cuba

Source:  Granma
November 14 2017

oscar lopez rivera received medalof homour.jpg

In a ceremony held at the José Martí Memorial, in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, Mercedes López Acea, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Political Bureau and vice president of the Council of State, presented the Puerto Rican patriot with the Solidarity Order.

Author: Redacción Digital | internet@granma.cu

In recognition of his bravery and resistance for over 36 years while unjustly imprisoned in the U.S., Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera received, November 14, in the Cuban capital, the Solidarity Order awarded by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba.

oscar lopez rivera 6c.jpgIn a ceremony held at the José Martí Memorial, in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, Mercedes López Acea, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Political Bureau and vice president of the Council of State, presented López Rivera with the medal.
The independence advocate, visiting the island for the first time, thanked Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, President Raúl Castro, and the Cuban people for their support and solidarity.
He went on to note that Cuba will continue to be an example for the world at a time when governments are promoting war and exploiting the most vulnerable.
Decorated Hero of the Republic of Cuba and President of the Cuban Institute of

Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) Fernando González Llort highlighted the Puerto Rican activist’s many qualities, describing him as a “brave, modest, educated man with a great artistic sensibility,” and “a concerned father, caring grandfather, and committed lover of his island and people.”
oscar lopez rivera 4There are convincing reasons to award him (López Rivera) the Solidarity Order, in fitting recognition of his struggle and his commitment maintained for almost 36 years in prison – 12 of which he spent in solitary confinement – to a single cause: struggling for his country’s independence, stated González Llort.

Arrested May 29, 1981

The ICAP President went on to recall that López Rivera, with whom he spent years in prison, was arrested May 29, 1981 and accused of seditious conspiracy, a strictly political charge used against Puerto Rican independence advocates.
In the presence of José Ramón Balaguer, a member of the PCC Central Committee Secretariat, and head of its International Relations Department, as well as Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, decorated Hero of the Republic of Cuba, among others, González Llort reaffirmed the island’s commitment to continue strengthening the fraternal ties which unite the two islands.

Prior to the ceremony, López Rivera paid tribute to Cuban National Hero José Martí, laying a floral wreath at the foot of the monument erected in his honor, in Havana’s historic Plaza de la Revolución.

oscar lopez rivera lays floral wreath.jpgDuring his stay López Rivera will also visit various central and eastern provinces, where he will tour cultural and historic sites such as the Comandante en Jefe’s childhood home in Birán, Holguín and the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, where Fidel’s ashes are interred. (ACN)

Related:  Oscar Lopez Rivera Puerto Rico has been colonized by the US for 119 years

Oscar Lopez: Puerto Rico – a product of 119 years of US colonialism

Source:  Granma
November 13, 2017

by: Arlin Alberty Loforte | informacion@granma.cu

Oscar López Rivera arrives in Cuba: “I feel at home”

The Puerto Rican independence fighter was greeted at José Martí International Airport by Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples.

oscar lopez y fernandoPhoto: Ismael Batista

Puerto Rican independence fighter, Oscar López Rivera, was greeted at José Martí International Airport by Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples (ICAP).

Upon his arrival in Havana during the dawn hours today, November 13, the Puerto Rican patriot expressed his gratitude and affection for the Cuban people and government.

“I feel at home, this is a dream come true; for many, many years, I have wanted to come to Cuba and today for the first time I have arrived,” he said after receiving a warm embrace from decorated Hero of the Republic Fernando González, with whom he shared a cell for several years, when they were both unjustly incarcerated in the United States.

Imprisoned for almost 36 years

López, who was imprisoned for almost 36 years, convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” before being released May 17 this year, said he wished Cubans much strength, adding that the Puerto Rican people will always stand with Cuba.

“I am very encouraged to be able to enjoy some time with the Cuban people. I’m alive and kicking; at my age I believe I can work 14 or 15 hours a day. I feel good.”

Puerto Rico after 119 years of colonialism

Commenting on the extremely difficult situation in Puerto Rico, he said, “No Puerto Rican can say we govern in Puerto Rico, it is Washington and Wall Street who give orders.”

He added that the U.S. government and Donald Trump have shown they have no respect, or consideration for the suffering people.

“After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was left devastated and is now showing the world the poverty that existed and was hidden; the world is being shown what colonialism is, because it is perhaps the best example of what becomes of a country that has been colonized for 119 years by the U.S. government, and how the U.S. government has behaved toward Puerto Rico for these 119 years. If there is a huge debt, it is the one the U.S. owes Puerto Rico,” he emphasized.

López Rivera commented that there are more Puerto Ricans living abroad than on the island, and that many more have left since Maria struck, September 20.

US does not allow aid for Puerto Rico from Cuba

He noted that the U.S. did not allow aid from countries like Venezuela, Panama, Cuba, or México to enter Puerto Rico.

During this first visit, López Rivera will be awarded the Solidarity Order by the Council of State; visit the Che Guevara Memorial in Santa Clara; as well as Santiago de Cuba, where the remains of national hero José Martí and Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz rest.

Also present to greet the Puerto Rican patriot were Silvia Matute, from the Party Central Committee’s International Relations Department; Yolanda Ferrer, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power International Relations Committee; and Edwin González, from the Puerto Rican mission in Cuba.

Cuba takes centre-stage at the 19th World Festival (Photos)

Source:  TeleSUR
October 22 2017

Russia Hosts the World Festival of Youth and Students

IN PICTURES: More than 20,000 young people from 150 countries are attending the event in Sochi.

The festival has as its theme, “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honoring our past, we build the future!”

During the week-long event, discussions are focusing on global political issues, ranging from the fight against xenophobia in the United States to student movements, as well as health and education.

The World Federation of Democratic Youth founded the gathering to combat fascism and imperialism after World War II.

cuba takes centre stage in russia.jpgThis year’s WFYS is dedicated to Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, for his “legacy, and contributions to … such festivals and the defense of their founding principles,” said Radio Havana.Photo:@CubanitoenCuba

cuba takes centre stage in russia 2.jpgCuban delegate Rafael Bogonin said, “At a time when Latin American countries are facing a resurgence of hegemonic capitalism, Cuba stands out as a beacon of hope, an example for revolutionary youth”Photo:@CubanitoenCuba

cuba takes centre stage in russia 3.jpgYouth enjoy the many cultural events. Sochi Jazz and the People’s Artist of Russia will also perform.Photo:@CubanitoenCuba

cuba takes centre stage in russia 4.jpgSingers from Cuba entertain the youth participants as part of the evening events at the WFSY.

cuba takes centre stage in russia 5.jpgPeople from 150 countries are taking part in the event.Photo:Reuters

cuba takes centre stage in russia 6.jpgRussia’s President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the festival in Sochi.Photo:Reuters

Huge solidarity with Cuba in World Festival of Youth and Students

Source:  Cuban News Agency
October 16 2017

cuba at 19th world festival.jpgA day filled with signs of infinite love, admiration and respect for Cuba was experienced at the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students underway here, a day in which many ratified their condemnation of the unjust US blockade against Cuba.

In a workshop on solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela, and by panelists from both countries, the auditorium was full, with the presence of Aleida Guevara, the daughter of Ernesto Che Guevara, who expressed her pride in being invited to the international forum and narrated her experiences, as pediatrician, on how the blockade affects Cuban children.

Aleidita, as Che called her affectionately, said that the blockade cannot be quantified in material damages, since these are immense and it harms the Cuban people to a great extent; even those who do not yet have a political thought or criterion, such as children, she said.

Out of the 10 new drugs that hit the markets every year, eight come from US companies and sometimes Cuba must have go through several intermediaries to acquire them; not to mention that sanctions range from millions of dollars in fines to a ban on selling them to the Cuban nation.

Referring to everything Cuba does for humankind, Guevara affirmed that if she feels useful is because she was raised as a woman of the Revolution, to which the public responded with an effusive applause, a sign of that affection and respect towards her father, who is also dedicated to the world.

Rafael Bogoni, Executive Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Continental Organization of Students, stressed that Cuba’s resistance to the blockade for more than half a century is an example for the world and, at the same time, a political beacon of struggle.

He reiterated that the small Caribbean nation represents a model to be followed by all and therefore deserves many signs of solidarity; while adding that the fact that the world event is dedicated to Fidel and Che shows what Cuba is for those who struggle for sovereignty.

250 Cubans among  20,000 anti-imperialist youth gathered in Sochi, Russia

Sources:  Granma, WFDY, Russia2017.com

October 13, 2017

19th wfdy program.jpgThe youth of today has the challenge of making the world of tomorrow a better place,said Saber Chowdhury, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in his address to the participants of the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students. In his welcome letter Chowdhury stated:

“I am happy to learn that over 20 000 young people from 150 countries of the world are meeting here, in Sochi to tackle the most complicated issues of our time. You are our hope for a better future. You have the talent, the energy and the creativity to build the future. In other words, you are the power that will be able to make tomorrow better than today”.

Cuban delegates

Leaving Cuba for Sochi were 250 delegates who know that  millions of Cubans will be with them, along with Martí, Mella, Villena, José Antonio, Che, Fidel…

The persistent rain of the last few days did not dampened the spirits of those preparing for the trip with activities at the Medical Sciences Preparatory School in Casablanca, including book presentations, discussion, and workshops.

Maidolis Ojeda, from the province of Matanzas, noted that, “it is a source of pride to represent all our country’s youth. We will go to Russia to defend our Revolution and denounce imperialism.”

Alegna Peralta González.jpg

Alegna Peralta González, a twelve grade student from Sancti Spiritus, thinks that for her, being a delegate to the World Festival of Youth and Students is both expectations and responsibilities

Expectations are high among the young Cuban men and women attending the 19th Festival to defend Cuba’s reality and to share their thoughts and experiences with the youth of the world.

They are scheduled to present in 20 different workshops, cultural events, expositions, and panel discussions devoted to Fidel and Che. Planned meetings with delegations from Russia, Vietnam, and Venezuela will be of special interest.

The Cuban people are aware that their 250 representative are taken from the best of the country’s youth from all sectors of the society and will follow closely the news coming from the historic XIX World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia.

Related:  Young Cubans Heads to Sochi: Alegna Peralta’s Passions

At the moment the city is expecting over 50 000 visitors, including the participants, volunteers, organizers, technical personnel, guests and speakers of the WFYS 2017. The 19th World Festival of Youth and Students has a chance of becoming the largest event in the festival history both in terms of number of delegations and number of participants. To this day, the largest festival took place in Moscow in 1957 with 34 000 attending.

Due to this, the event program has been expended and stretched outside the Olympic Park. Additional headquarters are put in place as well as a corporate assistance centre to service all clientele groups of WFYS 2017.

The Festival takes place 14–22 October in the Olympic Park of Sochi.