Marabu charcoal: First Cuban export to the U.S. in 50 years

As Cuban fields are being cleared of Marabu, U.S. citizens will now be able to purchase this quality variety of charcoal. On January 18, two days before U.S. President-elect, Donald Trump, is sworn into office, the first 40 ton shipment will arrive to the U.S. from Cuba, representing a historic occasion – the first export of Cuban goods to the U.S. in five decades.

This is the result of an agreement signed between the CubaExport entity and U.S. Coabana Trading LLC company, which took place at midday, January 5, at Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex), following a lengthy negotiation process.

The accord was signed by director of CubaExport, Isabel O’Reilly, and President of Coabana Trading LLC, Scott Gilbert.
“This will be the first contract, but we hope to continue our relations for many years to come and not just with vegetable charcoal, but other exportable products such as honey and coffee,” explained O’Reilly speaking to Cubadebate.

The product will be sold at 420 USD per ton, the highest price achieved by CubaExport in over 10 years marketing this product, which normally sells on the international market for between 340 and 380 USD, “but with the U.S. we were able to get a higher price,” added O’Reilly.

Meanwhile, Scott Gilbert noted that it was a privilege to be visiting the island, and described the agreement as important for both countries and a step further toward building bridges between the U.S. and Cuba.

Regarding Donald Trump’s presidency, to begin January 20, Gilbert noted that if his administration supports free trade, then there should be no problem establishing these types of agreements.

The process to export Cuban marabu charcoal starts with agricultural cooperatives which cut down the material to clear the way for their crops. This is then sold to another entity which processes and prepares it for sale, with CubaExport responsible for handling export procedures.

In addition to CubaExport, Cuban charcoal is also marketed by Cimex, Cítricos Caribes and Alcona, which between them export a maximum of 80,000 tons a year to between five and six countries. Meanwhile, efforts are currently underway to branch out to the UK and German markets.

Marabu charcoal has a high calorific power, making it one of the best in the world. It is produced in natural wood burning stoves and does not contribute to deforestation. (Cubadebate)

In Africa, The U.S. Military Sees Enemies Everywhere

Source:  Popular Resistance
July 14 2016

By Nick Turse, www.theintercept.com

us africa command.jpg

Above Photo: U.S. Africa Command

FROM EAST TO WEST across Africa, 1,700 Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other military personnel are carrying out 78 distinct “mission sets” in more than 20 nations, according to documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act.

“The SOCAFRICA operational environment is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous,” says Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, using the acronym of the secretive organization he presides over, Special Operations Command Africa. “It’s a wickedly complex environment tailor-made for the type of nuanced and professional cooperation SOF [special operations forces] is able to provide.”

Equally complex is figuring out just what America’s most elite troops on the continent are actually doing, and who they are targeting.

Shadow war currently being waged by American troops all across the continent

In documents from a closed-door presentation delivered by Bolduc late last year and a recent, little-noticed question and answer with a military publication, the SOCAFRICA commander offered new clues about the shadow war currently being waged by American troops all across the continent.

“We operate in the Gray Zone, between traditional war and peace,” he informed a room of U.S., African, and European military personnel at the Special Operations Command Africa Commander’s Conference held in Garmisch, Germany, last November.

According to Bolduc’s 2015 presentation, SOCAFRICA is taking part in seven distinct operations, although he failed to elaborate further. Among the goals of these missions: to “enable friendly networks; disable enemy networks.”

The identities of most of those “enemy networks,” are, however, a well-kept secret.

Last fall, The Intercept revealed that Bolduc had publicly disclosed that there are nearly 50 terrorist organizations and “illicit groups” operating on the African continent. He identified only the Islamic State, al Shabaab, Boko Haram, al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, and the Lord’s Resistance Army by name or acronym, while mentioning the existence of another 43 groups. Despite repeated inquiries by The Intercept, however, neither the Department of Defense, U.S. Africa Command, nor SOCAFRICA would provide further information on the identities of any of the other organizations.

africa's active militant islamic groups.jpg

Map of Africa’s active Islamic militant groups. Source Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Recently, however, the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies — a research institution dedicated to the analysis of security issues in Africa — published a map listing “Africa’s Active Militant Islamist Groups.” In addition to usual suspects, it named 18 other terror organizations.

The Africa Center says that “group listings are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered official designations.” It is, however, the most comprehensive list available from an agency or element within the Department of Defense and may shed light on Bolduc’s enemies list.

SOCAFRICA failed to respond to questions about that list or the names of its operations. U.S. Special Operations Command also declined to provide additional information. “We have no idea what BG Bolduc’s remarks were to a group of commanders who are subordinate to him,” spokesperson Ken McGraw told The Intercept.

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Popular Cuban TV shows broadcast in the US

Source:  Cuban News Agency
July 14 2016

dish latino 2Dish Latino, part of the American satellite network Dish has signed a deal to show Cuban television shows and films in the United States on a new channel called CubamaxTV. The initiative includes the popular comedy show Living by One´s Wit, top rated on the island.

The comedy show, known is Spanish as Vivir del Cuento, is so popular in cubamax tv 2Cuba that U.S. President Barack Obama made two guest appearances on the show as part of his historic visit to Cuba.

CCTV reported that the lead character in the comedy, an 80-year-old pensioner called Panfilo, is played by a much younger actor Luis Silva, who recently flew to the U.S. for the official channel launch.

vivir del cuento

There are around 2 million Cuban Americans, many of them living in Miami. The older generation, who consider themselves political exiles, may not approve. But their children and more recent arrivals, mainly economic migrants, are the potential audience, according to CCTV.

A window on Cuban culture

The Cuban partner, state television’s commercial wing RTV, hopes this will become a window on Cuban culture for a wider audience as well.

This new channel isn’t just showing programs produced by Cuba’s state-run television here. It’s also a showcase for some of the island’s independent film and documentary makers.

The programming also includes a mix of soap operas, comedies and TV series along with documentaries and films. The only shows that won’t be offered are news and political programs.

Imperialism Obama Style: 800 Military Bases Around the World

Source:  Cuba- Network in Defense of Humanity
July 4 2016

by Sarah Lazare

Sec. of State Kerry brags we are “involved” in more countries than ever, as Obama becomes first president to serve two terms always at war.

obama 12cimperialism obama style.jpeg

Turmoil and strife

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 28, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to ease anxiety over an ever-rising global “turmoil and strife” by pointing to an eyebrow-raising fact. “I state unabashedly to every single one of you: The United States of America is more engaged in more places with greater impact today than at any time in American history,” he reassured the audience. “And that is simply documentable and undeniable.”Kerry made it clear that when he talks about “engagement,” war is a key part of the equation.

Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine

“We’ve been working with countries to support a new Government of National Accord in Libya,” he said, referencing a dubious state that the U.S. is moving to heavily arm. “I was recently in the United Arab Emirates. I think we’ve come to a common understanding of how to strengthen that government and go after Daesh in Libya. We’re supporting Afghanistan in its fight against extremists and support a sovereign and democratic Ukraine.”

The United States “probably has more foreign military bases than any other people, nation, or empire in history” … David Vine

Kerry’s observation of unprecedented engagement may, in  fact, be an understatement. As David Vine, the author of the book Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, noted in 2015, the United States “probably has more foreign military bases than any other people, nation, or empire in history.” The roughly 800 U.S. military bases around the world compare to a grand total of zero free-standing foreign bases on U.S. soil, Vine reported.

Special operations forces deployed to 135 countries

Meanwhile, Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command, told journalist Nick Turse that, by the 9th month of 2015, special operations forces had already deployed to 135 countries—or 70 percent of all the nations on the planet. This compares to about 60 countries under the George W. Bush years. The Government Accountability Office concluded that special operations funding has ballooned from $3 billion in 2001 to just under $10 billion in 2014.

In recent years the U.S. military has, in fact, developed a remarkably extensive network of more than 60 outposts and access points in Africa

And then there is the steady creep of AFRICOM. Journalist Nick Turse wrote in November 2015, “in recent years the U.S. military has, in fact, developed a remarkably extensive network of more than 60 outposts and access points in Africa. Some are currently being utilized, some are held in reserve, and some may be shuttered. These bases, camps, compounds, port facilities, fuel bunkers, and other sites can be found in at least 34 countries—more than 60% of the nations on the continent—many of them corrupt, repressive states with poor human rights records.”

The Pentagon even runs an estimated 170 golf courses around the world.

Tallying up the list of U.S. direct or proxy wars is no simple task. In a May 2013 article published in the journal Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, Linda J. Bilmes and Michael D. Intriligator noted:

U.S. military operations are involved in all the five continents

Today U.S. military operations are involved in scores of countries across all the five continents. The U.S. military is the world’s largest landlord, with significant military facilities in nations around the world, and with a significant presence in Bahrain, Djibouti, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to long-established bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and the UK. Some of these are vast, such as the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which has recently been expanded to accommodate up to 10,000 troops and 120 aircraft.

Militarized intervention drives the greatest crises of human strife and displacement since World War II

The authors ultimately concluded that the U.S. was directly or indirectly involved in wars in 74 countries at the time.

As recently as May 2016, New York Times reporter Mark Landler observed that Obama is the “only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.”

Kerry is certainly correct to point out that U.S. engagement in vaster than it ever has been before. But as militarized intervention drives the greatest crises of human strife and displacement since World War II, this observation is no comfort at all.

UN Report Shows U.S. is Source of Most Refugees and Wars

Source:  The Real News Network, Black Agenda Report

Submitted by The Real News Network… on Tue, 06/21/2016 – 17:54

The Ford Report, on the Real News Network

Pop quiz: Whose cocaine is grown, whose economic policies are running, who pays and equips the armies in, and whose bombs are falling in the countries producing the most of the world’s refugees?

TRANSCRIPT

DHARNA NOOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Dharna Noor coming to you from Baltimore.

Today, on World Refugee Day, the UN Refugee Agency issued a new report which shows that global displacement is at an all-time high. 2015 saw 65.3 million people displaced. This is the first time in history that this number has been over 60 million.

Glen Ford is joining us from Plainfield, New Jersey, to talk about this. He’s the co-founder and executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, and the author of The Big Lie: Analysis of the U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion. Thanks for joining us, Glen.

GLEN FORD: Well, thank you for the opportunity.

NOOR: So, Glen, these numbers are just staggering. This report shows that around 24 people around the world were displaced every minute in 2015. Can I just get your initial reactions?

FORD Well, what really is staggering is the culpability of one country in the world for this huge mass of suffering around the planet. If you create a kind of top 10 of the worst refugee crises afflicting the world, you’’ll find that all but one or maybe arguably two of these refugee crises are direct results of U.S. foreign policy.

So we can go down the list, and I think that we can see what ails U.S. foreign policy in, through the list of countries that are afflicted with refugee crises. The number one country on that top 10 list is, of course, Syria. And we all know that the United States and its allies have armed and financed those folks who are, who have been waging war against the government of Syria for the last five years or so. A quarter million people have died in that war, and about 11 million people are some kind of refugee, according to the United Nations.

If we go down to number two on the list, that’s on another continent, Colombia in South America. It’s notable because it’s the biggest exporter of cocaine on the planet. But it is also the place where we have the largest number of internal refugees in the world. That is, refugees who don’t move across their nation’s borders, but have been forced out of their homes nonetheless. And that is due to U.S. foreign policy in Colombia, which backs a government which has created policies that have forced millions of indigenous Colombians and Afro-Colombians off of their land.

Iraq is number three, and of course, that is a situation in which the united States is complicit. Iraq, for a time, had the highest number of internal refugees in the world, surpassing Colombia. Many of them have since left the country. So Iraq is number three overall in worldwide refugees.

Number four is Afghanistan, where the United States has waged a kind of 21st century type of war, but one that began around 1980, when the U.S. and the Saudi Arabians and the Pakistanis created for the first time, never witnessed on the face of the earth, an international jihadist network in order to wage war against the Soviets. Well, these jihadist networks have been waging war ever since, with varying degrees of aid from the United States and the Saudis and the Pakistanis, and thus generating millions of refugees all around the world.

The only nation in the top 10 in which the United States is not arguably complicit is the nation of Sudan, which is number five, and it has 4 million refugees. But even Sudan bears the mark of U.S. interference, because the United States and Israel have been seeking to undermine the Sudanese government for about the last 30 years, and that has contributed to the instability that creates refugees. And that drive by the United States, especially against the Sudanese government, created the new country of South Sudan, which gained its independence with massive help from the Americans and their allies. Now, South Sudan is number seven in the list of countries that contribute to refugees in the world. Its civil war has generated millions, about 2.5 million refugees.

We also have Yemen, a war in which the United States backs the Saudis, who are waging a fight against a Houthi and other faction government that has put Yemen in position number, I believe, nine in the world in terms of refugees. One out of every ten people in Yemen is a refugee.

I think a very special case, and I’ll leave it at this one, can be made for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC is one of the top 10 in refugees. It’s got about 3 million people who have been displaced from their homes. But this really understates the case, and it understates U.S. involvement, because twice as many people in the Congo are now dead, 6 million of them, because of invasions of the Congo carried out by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda. The United States not only backed those countries and their invasions, but tried to cover up the consequences, the resulting genocide. And so Congo is number one in terms of genocide since the end of World War II, as well as way up there in the number of refugees.

If we look at the world in its totality, we get the distinct impression that much of the misery that people who have lost their homes and even their countries are suffering is because of the United States. We see what the world looks like when there is one superpower in charge.

NOOR So, going back to the top of the list, in Syria specifically it’s like half of the Syrian population that’s been displaced from their homes. In light of that, can you speak about the letter that 51 diplomats wrote last week, this open letter calling for Obama to overthrow Bashar al-Assad?

FORD They want to double down on the worst refugee crisis in the world, and on a quarter million deaths. They seem to believe that the U.S. policy of destabilization, which has led directly to this crisis, needs to be toned up, or tuned up. That we need more bombs, not less, in order to solve the problem. And we need to stack more bodies in the pile and drive more families out into a world that they have been forced to confront without a country.

NOOR And what about the internal struggles within these countries? You know, people often bring up the fact that, you know, what about the fact that Bashar al-Assad is issuing more strikes against the people of Syria himself?

FORD Well, that is an internal problem of Syria. But the United States as a country that is clearly violating international law, and doing so every day, and threatening to carry out acts that are even more illegal, is in no position to criticize the way the Assad government defends itself against the troops that the United States has arrayed against it. I don’t even understand how that kind of logic makes any sense to folks, unless they believe that the U.S. can do no harm and no wrong in the world, despite the illegality of its policies, and despite the human suffering that they cause.

NOOR Right. And can we talk about who’s hosting these refugees? The report shows that it’s mostly mid-income nation-states near conflict areas that are taking them in, even though the mainstream media has been so focused on this European refugee crisis. And then also, the U.S. has promised to take in 10,000 this year, but it’s not actually looking like that promise will be met.

FORD Well, Turkey’s taking in the largest number. They’re being paid by the Europeans to hold the Syrians there, to keep them from crossing over into European territory. But Turkey is not doing the world a humanitarian service by taking in these refugees, given that Turkey bears the responsibility, along with the United States and the Saudis and the Gulf countries, and of course Britain and France, the whole gang for this war that created the refugees. Turkey is sowing the seeds that it has planted in Syria, in the form of refugees.

NOOR And how should the U.S. be facing this crisis? What kind of foreign policy would be correct in addressing this huge refugee crisis?

FORD Call off the war. The war is the cause of the refugee crisis. The war was started by the United States and its allies. We know when it began. We know when the Libyan jihadists who had been fighting in collaboration with the United States in their own country in 2011, we know when they began arriving in Syria. It’s all a matter of public record. The United States is obligated to unwind the crime that it’s committed.

NOOR Right. Thank you so much for joining us to talk about this, Glen, and we’ll certainly be continuing to follow the unraveling of this UN report.

FORD Thank you.

NOOR And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

Evo Morales: Brexit is Sign of Capitalist Breakdown

Source:  TeleSUR
June 24 2016

evo describes brexit.jpg

President Evo Morales has described the Brexit as a “crisis of the capitalist system.” | Photo: Reuters

The president of Bolivia warned a Brexit could lead to increased dependence on the United States.

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, declared Friday that the United Kingdom’sdecision to leave the European Union is a sign the capitalist system and the European Union are in a state of crisis.

RELATED: What’s Next After Brexit? 6 Key Points as UK Votes to Leave EU

“The decision of the British people is an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system and the crisis of the integration of the European Union,” he wrote on Twitter.

In the wake of a pending Brexit, Morales warned Europe “not to let the United States divide or dominate the continent” or succumb to the politics of war of NATO.”

noam chomsky 3More dependency on the US

The president’s warning echoes similar concerns from linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky.

Back in May, Chomsky told The Guardian, “the worse choice would be Brexit. My sense is that it would probably turn Britain—or maybe England, if Scotland pulls out—into even more of a dependency on the U.S.”

The outcome of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom on whether to stay in or leave the European resulted in a win for the “leave” campaign, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to announce Friday morning plans to resign.

Complete results reported by The Guardian at 7:15 a.m. local time showed the Brexit decision won by more than 1 million votes with 51.89 percent versus 48.11 percent for the campaign to stay in the EU. A total of 119 local areas voted “remain,” while a majority of 263 areas voted “leave.”

Nicaragua expels three US government officials 

Source:  Niocnet
June 21 2016

nicanet logo.jpgNicaragua expelled two US government officials on June 15 for not obtaining the proper documentation to carry out functions which were described by Nicaragua as “tasks of security and certification for Customs and transfer of merchandise” to the United States as part of the fight against terrorism.

A note from the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington to the US State Department said, “This activity was carried out without the knowledge and/or the required coordination with Nicaraguan authorities which, as is easily understood, is very delicate.”

The note reiterated the “disposition of the Nicaraguan government to maintain and increase diplomatic, political and trade relations always respecting our national legislation and, in the case of trade, corresponding to the norms for facilitating that trade that have been established between our two countries.”

Security and terrorism

The note emphasized that “The subjects of security, the fight against terrorism, and against organized crime for which our institutions have gained so much effectiveness and prestige, must be dealt with in Nicaragua in coordination with our authorities.”

US Ambassador to Nicaragua Laura Dogu said that the officials were working directly with private businesses carrying out inspections of products so that their export to the United States could be expedited. “Apparently the rules here have changed but no one shared this information with the companies or with the embassy or with the government in Washington. If there are new rules we should understand what they are so that we can work in the framework of those rules because we don’t want to have problems and we want to support the prosperity of Nicaragua.”

Jose Adan Aguerri, president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), said that the expulsion of the two officials caused the suspension of the certification process that facilitates the unimpeded export of coffee and Free Trade Zone goods to the US. He said that, with an eye to preventing future problems, COSEP is working in coordination with the governments of Nicaragua and the US to find solutions to the problem. He added that the US is Nicaragua’s most important trading partner and “we cannot put that at risk.”

The Nicaraguan government also expelled Evan Ellis, a professor at the United States Army War College, as he began a research project on the proposed shipping canal across Nicaragua. Ellis said that three Nicaraguan Migration officials told him that he had not been authorized to enter Nicaragua to obtain information about the canal and would have to leave the country by 5pm on June 14. US Embassy officials did not comment on the expulsion. Ellis is an expert on the relations between Latin American countries and China, Russia and Iran. (El Nuevo Diario, June 17, 18; La Prensa, June 15)