Thursday, October 9, 2008

Latin Americans Pay Homage to Che Guevara in Bolivia

Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla fighter Ernesto Che Guevara did not shed his blood in vain, since many nations of the world are currently following the path he drew towards equality and social justice.

The statement was issued by Bolivian President Evo Morales during a visit Tuesday, to the community of Vallegrande, where Che Guevara was assassinated on October 9, 1967.

The small locality of “La Higuera”, in Valle Grande, is the scenario for central commemorations Wednesday for the 41st anniversary of the assassination of the Cuba-Argentinean guerrilla fighter.

Representatives of Bolivian organizations and of the Cuban and Venezuelan collaboration missions in that country will gather at the historic place, where a ceremony will include presentations of masters’ degrees by Cuban doctors, while several members of the collaboration brigades, working in the fields of health, education and energy, will also be awarded distinctions.

However, major attention is centered on the electrification of the La Higuera community, whose inhabitants had never had electricity. Also on the spotlight of attention was the declaration on Tuesday of the Department of Santa Cruz as Bolivia’s second territory free of illiteracy.

On declaring Santa Cruz free of illiteracy after the Oruro Department, with the support of the Cuban methodology “Yes, I Can,” Evo Morales said: “I want to tell the Cuban people and their Comandante, that they are not alone anymore. The blood shed by many revolutionaries in Latin America, like Che, has not been in vain either.”

Morales stressed that new revolutionary and anti-imperialists leaders are emerging now, and “we, the peoples, follow the path drawn by our freedom fighters.”

President Morales and Cuban ambassador to La Paz, Rafael Dausá, laid a wreath in honor of Che Guevara, a world symbol of the struggle for all fair causes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Barbados 1976: A Monstrous Crime

October 6 is a sad and unforgettable date for the relatives of 73 people who died in the terrorist bombing in midair of a Cubana airliner, off the coast of Barbados, in 1976. It is also recalled as one of the most atrocious terrorist actions committed ever.

The masterminds behind the atrocious act are named Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch; both are free in US territory with the protection of the US administration, thirty two years after the explosion. The executers of the crime were known as Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo. “We planted the bomb, and so what? Lugo later told Venezuelan reporter Alicia Herrera, in an interview during his arrest.

Among the 73 victims of the terrorist action were 11 Guyanese youths, six of them had been selected to take medical courses in Cuba; five North Korean citizens who were on a friendship tour of Latin America. Among the Cubans was the whole juvenile fencing team, whose members expected to return home after having garnered the victory at the Central American and Caribbean sports games, held that year in Venezuela.

“You can not get rid of such a deep pain,” the victims´ relatives have reiterated over the past 32 years. “It is an incalculably deep wound,” said Odalys Perez Rodriguez, older daughter of pilot Wilfredo Fello Perez, also a victim. “The years go by and I still can here my father’s recorded voice asking for help; I listen to it and I start crying.”

After a bomb exploded onboard the Cubana flight 455, which was covering the route Barbados, Kingston, Havana, the captain Wilfredo Perez and his co-pilot contacted Barbados´ Seawell air traffic control and warned: “We have fire on board!, we request landing immediately, immediately!...” Shortly after those words and a second explosion onboard, the plane, set in fire, fell to the sea.

The Cuban people gathered at Havana’s Revolution Square, October 15, to hold a farewell rally for the victims of the terrorist crime. On the occasion, Fidel Castro said that “shocked, painful and outraged, we gather today at this historic square to say good-bye, though in a symbolic way, to the remains of our sisters and brothers murdered in the brutal terrorist action perpetrated against a Cuban civil plane. Most of their remains are still in the deep ocean waters, while the tragedy did not allow their closest relatives the relief of having their dead bodies.”

After all these years, the world public opinion has witnessed how impunity and injustice have prevailed in the case. Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles have been protected once and again by Washington despite their terrorist crimes.


Oct 5, 1976
Cubana de Aviación DC-8, flight 455, arrives at Guyana’s Timerhri airport.

Oct 6, 1976
10:57 GMT. CU-455 departs for Port of Spain, Trinidad Tobago, on a 27-minute delay after waiting for an official North Korean delegation. In Port of Spain, all 24 members of the Cuba juvenile fencing team come on board after, having arrived from Caracas, Venezuela, on a Pan-Am flight.
15:49 GMT. The plane heads for Barbados.
16:21 GMT. CU-455 arrives at Seawell airport, in Barbados. Terrorists Freddy Lugo and Jose Vazquez García (fake name Hernan Ricardo ) conclude their trip.
17:15 GMT. CU-455 takes off for Jamaica with 73 POB.
17:23 GMT. Seawell air traffic control records the voice of Captain Wilfredo Perez warning of fire onboard.
17:25:20 GMT. The co-pilot requests emergency landing at Seawell, the air traffic control authorizes the landing.
17:25:27 GMT. Seawell receives a compelling phrase: Close that door!! Seawell replies “CU-455 we understand, we have full emergency, we keep in contact, over. At that moment a second explosion took place in the rear toilet. Several people near the coasts saw the plane fall on the ocean.

Oct 7, 1976
Cuba’s Civil Aeronautic Institute officially announced that the 73 victims included 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese and 5 North Koreans. Following suspicious actions, Barbadian authorities warned their counterpart in Trinidad about Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo, who were arrested as possible executers of the sabotage. Meanwhile, rescue actions were underway, but with difficulties due to the deep ocean scenario.

Oct 11, 1976
Barbados Prime Minister Tom Adams declares at the 31st UN General Assembly that disaster of a Cubana airliner in the Caribbean was a terrorist action. The Comandos de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas (CORU) counterrevolutionary organization claims responsibility for the crime.

Oct 14, 1976
The remains of the victims that rescue operations could withdraw from the ocean are taken to Havana’s Revolution Square; National Mourning declared.
Venezuela´s secret police (DISIP) announces the arrest in Caracas of counterrevolutionaries of Cuban origin Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, as well as another three men involved.

Oct 15, 1976
A huge crowed gathered at Havana´s Revolution Square to hold a farewell rally for the Barbados victims, where Commander in Chief Fidel Castro denounced that the US Central Intelligence Agency was behind the crime. Under the deep emotion and sorrow of the moment, Fidel stated the historic phrase that: When energetic and virile people cry, injustice trembles!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Public Support is Crucial in Cuban Five Case

Leonard Weinglass, Defense Attorney for the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in US jails for 10 years now, known as the Cuban Five, spoke with the Cuban News Agency during the launching, September 20 in Havana, of the book “Chronicle of an Injustice,” which describes the case; the book is one more effort to raise world awareness about the cause of five Cubans who were given extremely long sentences for having fought terrorism. We now bring our readers the full text of the conversation with the US lawyer.

Mr. Weinglass, the 11 Circuit of Atlanta’s Court of Appeals recently rejected a petition made last June 24 by the defense to review the case and reconsider its decision, upheld the convictions. Could you tell us what comes next in the legal battle in favor of the Five?

- “The legal case is now moving to Washington, where we are attempting to get the Supreme Court of nine justices to take the case for review, that is one front of legal work, the second front returns to Miami where three of the Five are scheduled to be re-sentenced before the trial judge. That is the other front we are working on. There is a two-front struggle at this point. It’s very important that we build support for the case in Washington.”

However, we understand that the Supreme Court only takes from 1.5 two 2 percent of the case that are presented each year. What are the chances for this case, then?

-- “It is very difficulty to assess what our chances are. However, this is a very unusual case; it is important nationally and internationally. It is a case which won a unanimous decision first at the 11 Circuit and then it lost two later decisions, but those decisions carried a very strong dissent so in the three cases we won one and we barely lost two, so the Supreme Court should look at this record, since it is an ambiguous record, it is the kind of record that calls out for a review.”

As to legal cases you have reiterated your statement that you do not win in court but on the streets, we understand that public support is crucial.

-- “The lesson of the Angela Davis case, in which I was involved, is that as you build public support you increase the prospects of obtaining a victory. She was an African American woman, a member of the Communist Party, tried before a white jury in a rural county of California and charged with killing a judge; it was very serious, she originally carried the death penalty, but she was acquitted of all charges and that was largely because of the international outcry about her case. In the other political cases, I have been involved in public support has been crucial. The Supreme Court this year will get 8000 petitions for review; they will take fewer than one hundred; our case will only be taken if it becomes a known case, a rather famous case, then it will be review, so public support is essential to our work.”

Why is this a political case?

-- “These case takes every definition of a political trial, and it is a case that involves not just a political issue but also the relationship between the US and Cuba. In the trial process they reviewed the 40-year history of that relationship, and this case is centered in that history. So it is unavoidable of the process itself that the process itself has been political since the beginning and it remains political. Senator McCain, currently running for President referred to our case, so it is a political case; if it will be decided politically it requires political support.

The presentation of the book, which was printed in Spanish, English and French, was made by the president of the Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcon at the colonial building hosting the Cuban Book Institute, in the old section of Havana. The ceremony was attended by relatives of the Cuban Five, the president of the Havana-based Casa de Las Americas Institution, Roberto Fernandez Retamar and other personalities.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero, were framed and arrested by FBI agents in 1998 and given unfair and long sentences including four life terms, after they collected information on Florida-based ultra-right organizations that have undertaken terrorist actions against the Cuban people.
[interview by Luis Chirino]

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Small Island States and Global Challenges

In the era of neoliberal globalization, the large centers of World power, headed by the United States and Europe, often forget the needs and problems of the small island states, whose physical existence is threatened by phenomenons for which they are not responsible.
These small and vulnerable islands, from the Caribbean or South Pacific for example, are seriously threatened by global challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, and problems of development, scarce energy resources or food crises.
It is no secret that these groups of States suffer from geographic isolation, communications and transportation problems. Even between themselves they are separated by thousands of kilometres, making contacts difficult.

But without a doubt, the main challenge for these small territories are climate changes, as they are more susceptible to suffering the consequences derived from global warming, among them the alarming rise of sea level.

Archipelagos like Kiribati and Tuvalu run the risk of disappearing in the near future if the pace of the rise of sea level continues. Cuba is also not exempt from these dangers, like the recent devastation inflicted by two hurricanes.

This is why it is necessary for an exchange of information and cooperation among the group of small nations to help each other in facing the challenges of nature and the environment. On the other hand, Cuba, lacking financial resources and economically blockaded by the US government, has international recognition for its vocation to internationalism and solidarity not to contribute leftovers, but shares what it has, mainly its well prepared human capital ecouraged throughout the last 50 years.

An example of these fraternal ties is the creation of a School of Medicine in the western province of Pinar del Riofor the training of 400 students from the South Pacific, of which 64 have already enrolled (25 from the Solomon Islands, 20 from Kiribati, 2 from Nauru and 17 from Vanuatu).

Also, Cuban medical brigades are offering their services in Kiribati, the Solomon and Vanuatu Islands, through the General Health Program, while details are being ironed out for the implementation of health cooperation with Tuvalu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea. An exemplary cooperation, which is a clear revelation, without conditions and on an equal basis.