The Source of Wars by FIDEL CASTRO
On July 4, I said that neither the United States nor Iran would give in: “one, prevented by the pride of the powerful, and the other because it has the capacity and the will to fight oppression, as we have seen so many times before in the history of mankind.” In nearly every war, one party wishes to avoid it and, sometimes, the two parties do. This time it will happen although one of the parties does not wish it. That was the case of the two World Wars of 1914 and 1939, only 25 years one from the other. The carnage was awful in both wars, which would not have erupted had it not been for previous miscalculations. Both defended imperialist interests and believed they could accomplish their goals without the exceedingly high price finally paid. In the case in question, one of the parties involved advocates absolutely fair national interests. The other pursues illegitimate and coarse material interests. An analysis of every war fought throughout the recorded history of our species shows that one of the parties has pursued such goals.
It’s absolutely wrong to entertain the illusion that this time such goals will be attained without the most dreadful of all wars. In one of the best articles ran by the Global Research website, on Thursday July 1, signed by Rick Rozoff, the author offers plenty of indisputable arguments, which every well-informed person should be aware of, about the intentions of the United States.
According to the author, the United States believes that “…you can win if the adversary knows that it is vulnerable to a sudden and undetectable, appalling and devastating strike that it has no possibility to respond to or to defend from.” “…a country with the aspiration of continuing as the only one in history with full military predominance all over the Earth, in the air, the sea and in space.” “A country that keeps and expands military bases and troops as well as fighting-groups of aircraft carriers and strategic bombers on practically every latitude and longitude, and which does so on a record war budget after World War II amounting to 708 billion dollars next year.” It was also “…the first country to develop and use nuclear weapons…” “…the United States has deployed 1,550 nuclear warheads while keeping 2,200 in storage (or 3,500 according to some estimates) and a triad of ground, air and submarine delivering vehicles.” “The non-nuclear arsenal used to neutralize and destroy the air and strategic defenses, and potentially all the major military forces of other countries, will consist in intercontinental ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hypersonic bombers, and super-stealth strategic bombers that can avoid radar detection and the ground- and air-based defenses.” Rozoff enumerates the numerous press conferences, meetings and statements given in the past few months by the chiefs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior executives of the US administration. He explains the NATO commitments and the reinforced cooperation with the Near East partners, meaning Israel in the first place. He says that “the US is also intensifying the space and cyber war programs with the potential to paralyze other nations’ military command and surveillance, control, communication, information and intelligence systems rendering them helpless except in the most basic tactical field.”
He refers to the signing by the US and Russia, on April 8 this year, in Prague, of the new START Treaty, “which contains no restriction as to the actual or planned potential for a US conventional prompt global strike.” He also reports a number of news on the issue and offers a most striking example of the US objectives.
He indicates that “…the Defense Department is currently examining the entire range of technologies and systems for a Conventional Prompt Global Strike that could offer the president more credible and technically adequate options to tackle new and developing threats.” I sustain the view that no president –and not even the most knowledgeable military chief– would have a minute to know what should be done if it were not already programmed in computers. Rozoff proceeds undisturbed to relate what Global Security Network states in an analysis from Elaine Grossman under the title, The Cost of Testing a US Global Strike Missile Could Reach 500 Million Dollars.
“The Obama administration has requested 239.9 billion dollars for research and development of the prompt global strike by US military services in fiscal year 2011…if the level of funds remains as anticipated for the coming years, by the end of fiscal year 2015 the Pentagon will have spent 2 billion dollars in prompt global strike, according to budget documents introduced in Congress last month.” “A comparable terrifying scenario of the effects of a PGS, in this case of the sea version, was described three years ago in Popular Mechanics: “An Ohio-type nuclear submarine emerges in the Pacific ready to execute the President’s order for launching. When the order comes, the submarine shoots to the sky a 65-tons Trident II missile. Within 2 minutes, the missile is flying at 22,000 km/h. Over the oceans and out of the atmosphere it speeds for thousands of kilometers. “At the top of its parabola, in space, the four warheads of the Trident separate and start descending on the planet. “The warheads flying at 21,000 km/h are full of tungsten rods with twice the resistance of steel. “Once on target, the warheads explode and thousands of rods fall on the area, each carrying 12 times the destructive force of a .50 caliber bullet. Everything within 279 square meters of that whirling metal storm is annihilated.”
Then Rozoff explains the statement made this year, on April 7, by the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Leonid Ivashov, under the headline Obama’s Nuclear Surprise, where he refers to the US President remarks in Prague last year with the following words: “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War,” and about the signature of the START II in that same city on April 8, the author points out:
“In the history of the United States during the past century, there is not one example of sacrifice of the US elites for humanity or for the peoples of other countries. Would it be realistic to expect that the arrival of an African-American president to the White House might change the political philosophy of that nation traditionally aimed at achieving global domination? Those who believe that something like that could happen should try to understand why the US –the country whose military budget exceeds that of all the other countries of the world combined– continues spending huge amounts of money in war preparations.” “…the concept of Prompt Global Strike envisions a concentrated attack with the use of several thousand conventional precision weapons that within 2 to 4 hours would destroy the crucial infrastructure of the targeted country and force it to capitulate.”
“The concept of Prompt Global Strike is aimed at ensuring the US monopoly in the military field and to widen the gap between that country and the rest of the world. In combination with the defensive deployment of missiles that should supposedly preserve the US from retaliatory attacks from Russia and China, the Prompt Global Strike initiative will turn Washington into a global dictator of the modern era.” “Essentially, the new US nuclear doctrine is part of the new US security strategy that could more adequately be described as a strategy of complete impunity. The US increases its military budget, gives free rein to NATO as a global gendarme, and plans exercises in a real situation in Iran to prove the efficiency of the Prompt Global Strike initiative.” In substance, Obama intends to mislead the world talking about a world free of nuclear weapons that would be replaced with other extremely destructive weapons designed to terrorize the leaders of other States and to accomplish the new strategy of complete impunity.
The Yankees believe that Iran will soon surrender. It is expected that the European Union will inform about a package of its own sanctions to be signed on July 26. The latest meeting of 5 plus 1 was held on July 2, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that “his country will resume the talks by the end of August, with the participation of Brazil and Turkey.”
A senior EU official warned that “neither Brazil nor Turkey will be invited to the talks, at least not at this point.” “Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki remarked that he is in favor of challenging international sanctions and proceeding with the upgrading of uranium.” Since Tuesday July 5, and in view of the European insistence in promoting additional measures against Iran, this country has responded that it will not negotiate until September.
Thus, with every passing day there are fewer possibilities to overcome the insurmountable obstacle.
What will happen is so obvious that it can be exactly foreseen. As for me, I should be self-critical since I made the mistake of affirming in my Reflections of June 27, that the conflict would break out on Thursday, Friday or Saturday at the latest. It was known that Israeli warships were moving toward their target alongside the Yankee naval forces. The order to search the Iranian merchant ships had been issued. However, I lost sight of a previous step: Iran’s continued refusal to allow the inspection of a merchant ship. In the analysis of the Security Council’s intricate language to impose sanctions on that country, I overlooked the detail of that previous step for the inspection order to be enforced. It was the only required step.
The 60-days period assigned by the Security Council on June 9, to receive information on the implementation of the Resolution, will expire on August 8.
But something more unfortunate still was happening. I was working with the latest material on the issue produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and the document did not include two crucial paragraphs which were the last of said Resolution and which literally read: “It requests that, in a 90 days period, the Director General of the IAEA submits to the IAEA Board of Governors and, simultaneously, to the Security Council for its examination, a report indicating whether Iran has carried out the complete and sustained suspension of all the activities mentioned in Resolution 1737 (2006), and if it is implementing every measure demanded by the IAEA Board of Governors and observing the remaining provisions of Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803 and the current Resolution;
“It affirms that it will examine Iran’s actions in the light of the report mentioned in paragraph 36, which shall be submitted in a period of 90 days and that a) it will suspend the implementation of the measures provided that Iran suspends every activity related to upgrading and reprocessing, including research and development, and while the suspension stands, the IAEA will verify, to allow the celebration of negotiations in good faith to reach a prompt and mutually acceptable result; b) it will cease to implement the measures specified in paragraphs 3,4,5,6,7 and 12 of resolution 1737, as well as in paragraphs 2,4,5,6 and 7 of resolution 1747, in the paragraphs 3,5,7,8,9,10 and 11 of Resolution 1803 and in paragraphs 7,8,9,10,11,12, 13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21,22,23 and 24 of the current resolution, as soon as it determines, after receiving the report mentioned in the previous paragraph, that Iran has fully observed its obligations in compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and the requisites of the IAEA Board of Governors, a determination to be confirmed by the Board itself; and c) in case the report indicates that Iran has failed to abide by the provisions of Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803 and the current resolution, it will adopt, in accordance with article 41 of chapter vii of the UN Charter, other appropriate measures to persuade Iran to do as provided in said resolutions and the requisites of the IAEA, and underlines that other decisions shall be adopted if such additional measures were necessary…”
Apparently, after many hours of hard work making copies of every document, somebody at the Ministry fell asleep, but my eagerness to seek information and exchange views on these sensitive issues enabled me to detect the omission. From my viewpoint, the United States and its NATO allies have said their last word. Two powerful states with authority and prestige failed to exercise their right of vetoing the perfidious UN Resolution. It was the only possibility to gain time in order to find a formula to save peace, an objective that would have given them more authority to continue struggling for it.
Today, everything hangs by a thread.
My main purpose was to warn the international public of what was developing.
I have done so partly watching what was happening as the political leader that I was for many long years facing the empire, its blockade and its unspeakable crimes. I’m not doing it for revenge.
I do not hesitate to take the risk of compromising my modest moral authority.
I shall continue writing Reflections on the subject. There will be others after this one to continue delving in the issue on July and August, unless an incident occurs that sets in motion the deadly weapons that are today aiming at each other.
I have greatly enjoyed the final matches of the Football World Cup and the volleyball matches, where our brave team is leading its group in the World League.
Fidel Castro Ruz
When these lines are published in the Granma newspaper tomorrow, Friday, the date of July 26, when we proudly remember the honor of having resisted the imperialists’ attacks, will be felt distant, despite the fact that it is only 32 days away. Those who determine every step of humanity’s worst enemy –the US imperialism, a combination of miserable material interests, contempt and underestimation of the other peoples who inhabit this planet—have calculated everything with mathematical precision.
In the Reflection of June 16, I wrote: “The diabolic reports slide down little by little in between matches of the Football World Cup, so that nobody takes notice.” The famous sports contest is now in its most exciting moment. For 14 days, the teams with the best players from 32 nations have been competing to advance to the stage of quarter-finals, semi-finals and then the final competition. The sports enthusiasm grows constantly attracting hundreds of millions or perhaps even billions of people worldwide.
But, we should be wondering how many are aware that from June 20 US warships, including the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, escorted by one or more nuclear submarines and other warships carrying missiles and cannons more powerful than the old battleships used during the last World War between 1939 and 1945, have been moving towards the Iranian coasts via the Suez Canal.
This movement of the Yankee naval forces is accompanied by Israeli military ships, carrying equally sophisticated weaponry, intended to supervise any vessel involved in the import or export of commercial products required by the Iranian economy for its operations.
Following a US proposal supported by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the UN Security Council passed a tough resolution which was not vetoed by any of the five countries with the right to do it. Another tougher resolution was adopted by the US Senate. Later, a third and even tougher resolution was approved by the member countries of the European Community. All of this happened before June 20, which motivated French President Nicolas Sarkozy to make an urgent trip to Russia –according to press reports– to meet with the head of Sate of that powerful country, Dmitri Medvedev, in hope of negotiating with Iran and preventing the worst from happening.
Now, it’s a matter of calculating when the American and Israeli naval forces will be deployed off the coasts of Iran joining there the aircraft carriers and other US military ships already on watch in the region. It is still worse that, the same as the United States, Israel –its gendarme in the Middle East—has state-of-the-art fighter planes and sophisticated nuclear weapons supplied by the United States, which have turned it into the sixth nuclear power on Earth, in terms of its fire power, and one of eight such powers that include India and Pakistan.
The Shah of Iran was overthrown by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 without firing one shot. But then the United States imposed on that nation a war with chemical weapons whose components it supplied to Iraq along with the information required by this country’s combat units; such weapons were used against the Guardians of the Revolution. Cuba knows this because, as we have said before, our country chaired the Non- Aligned Movement at the time. We know very well the damage done to the populations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, currently the head of State of Iran, was chief of the sixth army of the Guardians of the Revolution and chief of the Guardians Corps in the western provinces, which carried the bulk of that war.
Today, in 2010, thirty-one years later, both the United States and Israel underestimate the one-million men that make up Iran’s Armed Forces and their fighting capacity on the ground as well as the air, sea and ground forces of the Guardians of the Revolution. These forces are compounded by 20 million men and women, ages 12 through 60, selected and systematically trained by their various armed institutions, from the 70 million people who live in that country. The US administration worked out a plan to promote a political movement that based on capitalist consumerism would divide the Iranians and overthrow the government.
Such hope is now harmless. It’s simply ridiculous to think that the US warships and Israeli forces combined could win the sympathies of even one Iranian citizen. I initially thought, as I analyzed the current situation, that the conflict would start at the Korean peninsula, where the second Korean War would break out, and that another war would immediately follow; the one that the United States would impose on Iran.
Now, we are witnessing a different turn of events: the war in Iran will immediately spark off that of Korea.
The leadership of North Korea, which was accused of sinking the ‘Cheonan’ and which knows only too well that said ship was sunk by a mine attached to its hull by the Yankee intelligence services, will not miss a second to act as soon as Iran is attacked. It is only fair that football fans freely enjoy the competitions of this World Cup. I simply fulfill my duty of informing our people, as I think mostly of our youths, full of life and hopes, especially our wonderful children, so that the developments do not catch them by surprise.
It hurts to think of the dreams conceived by human beings and the amazing things they have created in barely a few thousand years.
At a time when the most revolutionary dreams are coming true and our homeland is firmly on the path to recovery, I would so much like to be wrong!
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 24, 2010
THE US HEALTHCARE REFORM by FIDEL CASTRO
Barack Obama is a zealous believer in the imperialist capitalist system imposed by the United States to the world. “God bless the United States,” is the final phrase of his speeches.
Some events hurt the sensitivity of the world public which sympathized with the victory of the African-American over the far-right candidate in that country. On the basis of one of the deepest economic crises the world has known, and on the pain brought on by the young Americans who lost their lives or were injured or maimed in the genocidal wars of conquest unleashed by his predecessor, he won with the vote of the majority of the 50% of Americans who cast a vote in that democratic nation.
Out of an elementary sense of ethic, Obama should have refrained from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize when he had already decided on sending forty thousand troops to an absurd war in the heart of Asia.
The warmongering policy and the plundering of natural resources, as well as the unequal terms of trade of the current administration toward the poor countries of the Third World are no different from those of his predecessors, most of them from the far-right, –with few exceptions—throughout the past century.
The antidemocratic document imposed at the Copenhagen Summit on the international community, which had given credit to his promise to cooperate in the struggle against climate change, was another one of those events that disappointed many people around the world. The United States, the largest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions, was not willing to make the necessary sacrifices despite the flattering previous words of its president.
The list of contradictions would be endless between the ideas defended by the Cuban nation for five decades with great sacrifices and the selfish policies of that colossal empire.
Still, we don’t feel any animosity toward Obama, much less toward the American people. We feel that the Healthcare Reform has been a significant battle and a success of his administration. However, it is really amazing that 234 years after the Declaration of Independence proclaimed in Philadelphia in the year 1776, which drew inspiration from the ideas of the great French encyclopedists, the government of that country has approved medical care for the overwhelming majority of its citizens, something that Cuba accomplished for its entire population half a century ago despite the cruel and inhuman blockade imposed –and still in force– by the mightiest country that has ever existed. In the past, it was only after almost a century of independence and following a bloody war, that Abraham Lincoln could obtain the legal emancipation of the slaves.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think of a world where over one-third of the population have no access to medical care or the basic medicines required to ensure health.
And this situation will be aggravated as climate change, and water and food shortage worsen in a globalized world where the population grows, the forests disappear, the arable land decreases, the air is more polluted, and the human species inhabiting it –which emerged less than 200 thousand years back, that is, 3.5 billion years after the first forms of life on the planet—is running the real risk of annihilation.
Even conceding that the Health Reform comes as a success to the Obama administration, the current President of the United States cannot ignore that climate change poses a threat to health, and worse still, to the very existence of every nation in the world, as the rise in temperature –beyond critical limits which are already in sight—melts down the water of the glaciers, and the tens of millions of cubic meters contained in the enormous ice caps of the Antarctic, Greenland and Siberia melt down within a few decades leaving under water every port facility in the world and lands where a large part of the world population lives, works and eats today.
Obama, the leaders of the wealthy nations and their allies, as well as their scientists and sophisticated research centers are aware of this; they cannot ignore it.
I understand the satisfaction expressed in the presidential speech and his recognition of the contribution made by the members of Congress and the administration to make possible the miracle of the Health Reform, which strengthens the government’s position vis-à-vis political lobbyists and mercenaries that curtail the authority of the administration. It would be worse if those responsible for tortures, murders on contract and genocide were in charge of the US government again. As a man unquestionably smart and sufficiently well informed, Obama knows there is no exaggeration in my words. I hope the foolish remarks he sometimes makes about Cuba do not cloud his mind.
In the aftermath of his success in this battle for the right of every American to healthcare, 12 million immigrants, most of them Latin American, Haitian and from other Caribbean countries are demanding the legalization of their presence in the United States where they do the hardest work and the American society cannot do without them, but where they are arrested, separated from their families and sent back to their countries.
The overwhelming majority migrated to America escaping the tyrannies imposed by the United States on the countries of the region and the dire poverty these have endured as a result of the plundering of their resources and the unequal terms of trade. Their family remittances make up a high percentage of the GDP of these countries’ economies. Now, they expect an act of basic justice. If the Cubans have been singled out with an Adjustment Act which promotes brain drain and the enticement of their educated youths, why are such brutal methods applied to the illegal immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean?
The devastating earthquake that battered Haiti –the poorest nation in Latin America, hammered by an unprecedented natural catastrophe that took the lives of more than 200 thousand people—and the terrible economic damage that a similar phenomenon brought on Chile are eloquent proof of the dangers looming over the so-called civilization and of the need for dramatic measures that can give the human species the hope to survive.
The Cold War failed to benefit the people of the world. The huge economic, technological and scientific power of the United States would be unable to survive the tragedy hovering on the planet. President Obama should look up in a computer the relevant data and talk to his most outstanding scientists; then, he will see how far his country is of being the model it promotes for humanity.
As an African-American, he suffered the offense of discrimination, according to his own narrative in the book “Dreams From My Father.” He was acquainted with the poverty of tens of millions of Americans; educated in that country and as a successful professional he has enjoyed the privileges of the rich middle class and ended up idealizing the social system where the economic crisis, the lives of Americans uselessly sacrificed and his undisputable political talent gave him political victory.
Yet, to the most intractable right-wing Obama is an extremist; and they threaten to continue fighting in the Senate to neutralize the effects of the Health Reform and to openly boycott it in several States of the Union by declaring it an unconstitutional law.
The problems of our times are much more serious.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international financial institutions strictly controlled by the United States –the creators of tax havens and the culprits of the financial chaos in the planet– allow the bailout of the big American banks by their government every time one of the frequent and increasingly intense crises of the system hits that country.
The United States Federal Reserve capriciously mints the hard currency that pays for the wars of conquest, the profits of the Military Industrial Complex, the military bases distributed around the world, and the large investments used by the transnational companies to control the economy of many countries worldwide.
Nixon unilaterally suspended the gold standard while the vaults of the New York banks keep seven thousand tons of gold, little over 25% of the world reserves in that metal, a figure that at the end of World War II was in excess of 80%. It is said that the US public debt exceeds 10 trillion dollars, which is more than 70% of its GDP and stands like a burden for the new generations. This is said when the truth is that the world economy is the one paying that debt with the huge amounts of US dollars spent in purchasing goods and services, the same dollars that the large transnationals of that country use to buy a considerable portion of the world riches and to sustain that nation’s consumer society.
Anyone understands that such a system is unsustainable and also why the wealthiest sectors in the United States and their allies in the world advocate a system that can only be sustained with ignorance, deception and the conditioned reflexes created in the world public through the monopoly over the mass media, including the main networks of the Internet. Today, the structure is crumbling with the accelerated advance of climate change and its disastrous consequences which are placing humanity face to face with an exceptional dilemma.
The wars between powers seem no longer a possible solution to the great contradictions as they were until the second half of the 20th century. Still, they have had such an impact on the elements that make human survival possible, that they could prematurely put an end to the existence of the current intelligent species that populates our planet.
A few days ago I expressed my firm belief that, in light of the scientific knowledge prevailing today, the human beings will have to solve their problems on planet Earth since they will never be able to cover the distance separating the Sun from its closest star located four light-years away, –one light-year equals 187,500 miles per second, as our high school students know—provided a planet similar to our beautiful Earth existed around that sun.
The United States invests huge amounts of money to confirm the presence of water on planet Mars, or if there was or is any elementary form of life there. No one knows what for, if not out of mere scientific curiosity. Millions of species are disappearing from our planet at a faster pace and its enormous water sources are constantly being poisoned.
The new laws of science –following Einstein’s formulas on energy and matter, and the big-bang theory as the origin of the millions of constellations and infinite stars and/or other theories—have given rise to deep changes in such basic concepts as space and time, which draw the attention of and are subjected to analysis by theologians. One of them, our Brazilian friend Friar Betto, deals with the subject in his book “The Work of the Artist: A Holistic Vision of Universe,” presented in the recent International Book Fair held in Havana.
The advancement of science in the past one hundred years has had an impact on the traditional approaches that prevailed through thousands of years in social sciences and even in Philosophy and Theology.
The most honest thinkers are paying significant attention to the new knowledge but we know absolutely nothing of how President Obama feels about the compatibility of consumer societies with science.
In the meantime, it is worthwhile meditating about these subjects now and then; this will certainly not prevent human beings from dreaming and from taking things with due serenity and steely nerves, but it is the duty of at least those who chose to become politicians and who sustain the noble and unwavering objective of a human society where justice and solidarity prevail.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 24, 2010
Fidel Castro: The lessons of Haiti
By Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2010
Two days ago [January 12], at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake -– measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale -– had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometres from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud. The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT. Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for several hours. The news took all of us by surprise. Many of us have frequently heard about hurricanes and severe flooding in Haiti, but were not aware of the fact that this neighbouring country ran the risk of a massive earthquake. It has come to light on this occasion that 200 years ago, a massive earthquake similarly affected this city, which would have been the home of just a few thousand inhabitants at that time. At midnight, there was still no mention of an approximate figure in terms of victims. High-ranking United Nations officials and several heads of government discussed the moving events and announced that they would send emergency brigades to help. Given that MINUSTAH (United Stabilization Mission in Haiti) troops are deployed there -– UN forces from various countries –- some defence ministers were talking about possible casualties among their personnel. It was only yesterday morning when the sad news began to arrive of enormous human losses among the population, and even institutions such as the United Nations mentioned that some of their buildings in that country had collapsed, a word that does not say anything in itself but could mean a lot. For hours, increasingly more traumatic news continued to arrive about the situation in this sister nation. Figures related to the number of fatal victims were discussed, which fluctuated, according to various versions, between 30,000 and 100,000. The images are devastating; it is evident that the catastrophic event has been given widespread coverage around the world, and many governments, sincerely moved by the disaster, are making efforts to cooperate according to their resources.
Why is Haiti so poor?
The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country. Why does almost 50% of its population depend on family remittances sent from abroad? Why not analyse the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this enormous suffering as well? The most curious aspect of this story is that no one has said a single word to recall the fact that Haiti was the first country in which 400,000 Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable glory were written there. Napoleon’s most eminent general was defeated there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural resources. This historic oversight would not be so serious if it were not for the real fact that Haiti constitutes the disgrace of our era, in a world where the exploitation and pillage of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants prevails. Billions of people in Latin American, Africa and Asia are suffering similar shortages although perhaps not to such a degree as in the case of Haiti. Situations like that of that country should not exist in any part of the planet, where tens of thousands of cities and towns abound in similar or worse conditions, by virtue of an unjust international economic and political order imposed on the world. The world population is not only threatened by natural disasters such as that of Haiti, which is a just a pallid shadow of what could take place in the planet as a result of climate change, which really was the object of ridicule, derision and deception in Copenhagen.
Real and lasting solutions needed
It is only just to say to all the countries and institutions that have lost citizens or personnel because of the natural disaster in Haiti: we do not doubt that in this case, the greatest effort will be made to save human lives and alleviate the pain of this long-suffering people. We cannot blame them for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there, even if we do not agree with the policy adopted with Haiti. But I have to express the opinion that it is now time to look for real and lasting solutions for that sister nation. In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba –- despite being a poor and blockaded country -– has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilised, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured. Another significant number of young Haitians are currently studying medicine in Cuba. We are also cooperating with the Haitian people in other areas within our reach. However, there can be no other form of cooperation worthy of being described as such than fighting in the field of ideas and political action in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number of nations such as Haiti. The head of our medical brigade reported: “The situation is difficult, but we have already started saving lives.” He made that statement in a succinct message hours after his arrival yesterday in Port-au-Prince with additional medical reinforcements. Later that night, he reported that Cuban doctors and ELAM’s Haitian graduates were being deployed throughout the country. They had already seen more than 1000 patients in Port-au-Prince, immediately establishing and putting into operation a hospital that had not collapsed and using field hospitals where necessary. They were preparing to swiftly set up other centers for emergency care. We feel a wholesome pride for the cooperation that, in these tragic instances, Cuba doctors and young Haitian doctors who trained in Cuba are offering our brothers and sisters in Haiti!
EIGHT PREDICTIONS FOR 2010
It is in human nature deeply rooted the desire to see what is the future reserving for us. In the ancient times Sybille’s priestess in a cave near Rome interpreted the sacred Sibylline Book to see what the New Year will bring for Rome. Today the desire to know the future remain as strong as ever but the technique has certainly improved. Today geopolitics is here to help us guide our way in the next year. So what will bring to us 2010?
The end of economic crisis?
Certainly something that everybody will like to see in 2010 is an end to the powerful economic crisis that is ripping havoc in international economy. Unfortunately 2010 is a decisive year in economy but with a double potential: to show the end of recession or to provoke another catastrophic fall. The economic dates are far away from a promising future. The US economy still has to face with the consequence of a real estate market that is suffocated by offers but also in lingering demand because of the strict policy applied by banks. Also financial sector proved his vulnerability to external pressure when the so called Dubai World bobble burst in November 2009 the New York Stock Exchange suffered a fall of 8 %. This vulnerability to foreign market will still be a major factor in influencing US economy recovery. Crushing stock markets in Asia or Middle East will sure happen in 2010 as the international banking system is slaw in offering collaterals and credit to pharaoh type projects that where starting before crisis and needs financing to be completed. These big projects are a sward with two directions, if they are not completed investor confidence will fall and as a result we will see depreciating values of stacks and bankruptcy if they are completed they will find a market already saturated and they will collapse.
A ghost is troubling the continent: Unemployment.
We all remember K. Marx beginning of Capital: a ghost is wondering the continent: the communism. Well now another ghost is showing here ugly face from New York to London: unemployment. The latest data from United States are crippling any hope of recovery, with 85.000 jobs lost only in December the economy of US is in severe shape and with more than 600.000 people relinquishing any hope for finding a new job the prospects seamed deem. In Europe the situation is even grey, German Federal Government admitted in November that the figures showing the German economy out of recession are exaggerated, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia face national bankruptcy and Spain, Italy, Ireland are fallowing closely and with national bankruptcy looming over Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria economy is still clear that Europe economy is continuing his downfall rapidly.
China and India: how long the miracle can last?
This year the only good news from world economy come from India and China that relied on a huge internal market (more than 1 billon each) to continue to grow in a down fall year. But this maneuver could not be sustained for 2010 economist predicts. Two are the main reasons: the grow of internal market demand could only be sustained by increase in wages that will affect both China and India competitiveness on external market. The second reason is that the internal market is not producing hard currency (dollars or Euros) that both India and China need for their developing economy but they only acquired more of their one currency with no value on international market. China and India continuous grow could only be sustained by cutting their economy from international market and this will be another catastrophe for international economy. In conclusion 2010 will be decisive in shaping the way for a recovery or for another crisis.
Democrats lose control.
In United States 2010 is an electoral year in which the democrats and republican will fight for control of Legislative. In this fight democrats enter on the lame duck position, in economy the financial support offered generously by B. Obama did not produced neither the necessary recovery neither the economic climate improvement, on international policy US troops are still embattled in Iraq, in Afghanistan a long war of guerrilla will claim his life toll in 2010 and Obama just make the monumental mistake in involving US military in a new conflict in Yemen. With none of his campaign pledges honored and a dire economic situation B. Obama is having little to show for, a situation that republican will get the best of it.
Israel – a new military adventure.
In Middle East the clouds of a new war are rapidly getting strength. In Israel an embattled Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is seeing his cabinet position weaker and weaker by days go done. Israel Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman has found himself excluded for Mediterranean Union projects talks as a result of Turkey veto and Arab country refusal to talk with him for his extremist views (the most inflammatory remark being the possibility of an attack on Aswan Dam in Egypt to disrupt Egypt economy). Inside Israel the dispute surrounding construction in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is further weakening his cabinet. In this case as Ehud Olmert has done in 2008 attacking Gaza or Menahem Begin invading Lebanon in 1982 is clear that the cabinet will try to avoid collapse by launching a new attach in the region. The best target is Gaza already weakened by the 2008 war and by 3 years of total blockade. An operation in Gaza could dismantle Hamas and provide a strategic victory with little human life cost so probably this will be the next target. But also there are voice that suggest that an attack on Lebanon infrastructure will be more beneficial for Israel that economically bothered by Lebanon tourism and investment opportunity competition in the region. But is probably that Israel will restrain his goal at more achievable level and a strike on Gaza seems the most likely scenario for 2010.
Pakistan: between civilian rule and military intervention.
Pakistan situation is dire: economy fall by 20% percent, unemployment is huge (more then 18%) and banking system is showing sign of collapse. With the army engaged in frontier battles at border with Afghanistan and with a continuous line of interior attacks the last things Pakistan needs is a political crisis. But exactly this is what 2010 will bring. The embattled president Ali Zardari was forced to relinquish nuclear arms control to his prime minister and also to face a corruption charges that could lead to his downfall. The only civilian personality that could take his place is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But we must not forget that Mr. Sharif was deposed in a bloodless coup d’état in 1996 by the military and replaced with General Perwez Musharaf. Bringing him back to power will just mean that the history will be re-write. In any case if there will not be a political solution to Pakistan economic and political crisis the military will step in and this time with the accord of Washington that is eager to see stability at the front door of Pakistan at any cost in order to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan. A general that will promise Washington tranquility at the southern border of Afghanistan will be acclaimed just as Perwez Musharaf was in 2001 after September attacks.
2010 also witness another tension fleering up: in Honduras a coup d’état mounted by military in convergence with right wing politicians toppled the legitimate president: Manuel Zelaya, crush any civilian resistance and despite international condemnation consolidated there regime in illegal elections. This became now a study case in United States and the region where many want to see left wing politicians as Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa overthrown. The Honduras success receipt will be surely repeated in another Latin America country this year. The question is where?
In Bolivia where a so called independent state in the center of the country has elected a parliament and a government and tries to overthrown Evo Morales in a civilian and military coup ? Or in Venezuela where Hugo Chavez is now under Columbian army pressure, irregular militia that crossed the border from Columbia to attack Venezuelan objectives on daily bases and where United States just opened up military bases?
Finally Rafael Correa of Ecuador is also on the black list; Ecuadorian military trained and grown by United States is also shooing sign that could change lines. Where will be CIA next revolution in Latin America? Newsweek citing informed sources from CIA announced that Venezuela is the prime candidate for a „freedom” operation in Caribbean.
2010 will also be a decisive year for China that will be presented in the Security Council with sanctions proposal for Iran and Sudan. Both countries are strong allies of China, suppliers with gas and oil for increasing Chinese demands and both countries have a tension relationship with United States. China will have to decide; to give a go ahead to future sanctions could spell clearing the road for war. Everybody remembers in Security Council the 2002 resolution against Iraq that threatened the Baghdad regime with serious consequences if they don’t comply. United States decided that serious consequences could mean war and launch the attack on Iraq. A similar resolution today imposed on Teheran will be just a final step to war. China seemed to be aware of this and will have to choose between open opposition to United States agenda or temporary acceptance of US demands. The present strategy of China of temporization could no longer work in 2010.
This are just of the few decision that international policy and market decision makers will be confronted in this decisive year between peace and war, crisis or recovery , coup d’état or liberty. The answer will be decided in the next 12 month. We will live with the consequence.
Professor Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS
THE WORLD HALF A CENTURY LATER
On the 51st anniversary of the victory of the Revolution two days ago, the memories of that January 1st, 1959 came flooding back to me. None of us ever thought that half a century later, a time that has flown past very fast, we would be remembering it as if it were only yesterday.
On December 28, 1958, during the meeting at the Oriente sugar mill with the Commander in Chief of the enemy forces, whose elite units were besieged with no possibility of escaping, he admitted his defeat and appealed to our generosity to try finding an honorable way out for the rest of his forces. He was aware of our humane treatment of prisoners and injured enemies without exception. He accepted the agreement I proposed, even though I warned him that the ongoing operations would proceed uninterrupted. However, he traveled to the capital and, incited by US embassy, he promoted a coup d’état.
We were preparing for the combats of that day January 1st when in the early morning hours we learned that the tyrant had escaped. Right away orders were issued to the Rebel Army not to accept a ceasefire and carry on the fight at all fronts. At the same time, through Radio Rebelde the workers were called on to declare a Revolutionary general strike, which was immediately backed by the entire nation. The attempted coup was defeated and that same day, in the afternoon, our victorious troops entered Santiago de Cuba.
Meanwhile, Che and Camilo were instructed to quickly advance by road with their brave and experienced forces on vehicles toward La Cabaña and the Military Camp at Columbia. The adversary army, beat in every front, would not have the capacity to resist. By then, the people had revolted and seized the repression centers and police stations. In the evening of January 2, accompanied by a reduced escort, I met in a Bayamo stadium with over two thousand soldiers from the tank, artillery and mechanized infantry forces that we had been fighting against until the previous day. They still carried their weapons with them. We had won the respect of the adversary with our audacious but humanitarian methods of fighting the irregular war. This is how, after 25 months fighting a war we had resumed with a few rifles, in only four days approximately one hundred thousand air, sea and ground weapons and the entire power of the government fell in the hands of the Revolution. I’m relating in a few lines what happened in those days 51 years ago. It was then that the main battle started to preserve the independence of Cuba opposite the most powerful empire that ever was; a battle our people have waged with great dignity. Today, I am pleased to see those who defended our homeland –despite incredible obstacles, sacrifices and risks—that in these days are happily enjoying the glories of every New Year in the company of their children, their parents and their beloved.
However, these days are in no way similar to those of the past. We are living a new era that resembles no other in history. In the past, the peoples fought and still fight with honor for a better world with more justice but today they must also fight –with no other choice—for the survival of the human species. We don’t know anything if we ignore that. Cuba is undoubtedly one of the countries in the world with a highest political education. It started from the most shameful illiteracy, and what is even worse: our Yankee masters and the bourgeoisie associated to the foreign owners were in possession of the land, the sugar mills, the factories that produced consumer goods, the storage facilities, the shops, the utility companies, the telephones, the banks, the mines, the insurance services, the docks, the bars, the hotels, the offices, the housing, the movie theaters, the printing shops, the magazines, the newspapers, the radio, the emerging television and everything of value.Once the burning flames of our battles for liberation had faded, the Yankees took upon themselves the task of thinking for the people that had fought so hard to be the owner of their independence, their wealth and their destiny; nothing belonged to us then, not even the task of thinking politically. How many of us could read or write? How many could complete the sixth grade of grammar school? I remember this especially in a day like this because that was the country that supposedly belonged to the Cubans. I don’t mention other things because I’d have to include many more such as the best schools, the best hospitals, the best houses, the best doctors, the best lawyers. How many of us had access to them? Who, if not a few exceptions, had the natural and divine right to be managers or leaders? No millionaire or rich man, without exception, failed to be the leader of a Party, a Senator, a Representative or a senior official. That was the representative and pure democracy that prevailed in our homeland, except that the Yankees whimsically imposed ruthless and heartless petty tyrants when it was most convenient to their interests for better defending their properties from landless farmers and employed or unemployed workers. As practically no one even speaks of that, I venture to remember it. Our country is one of the 150 Third World countries, which will be the first albeit not the only ones destined to endure the incredible consequences if humanity does not develop quite rapidly a clear and certain conscience of the reality and the result of climate change provoked by man, that is, if such change is not timely prevented.
Our media have described the effects of climate change while the increasingly intensive hurricanes, the droughts and other natural calamities have equally contributed to the education of our people on the issue. Likewise, a peculiar event, the battle on climate change that took place in the Copenhagen Summit, has helped to build awareness about the imminent danger. This is not one distant risk awaiting the 22nd century, but one for the 21st; neither is it only for the second half of the latter but for the next decades when we would start suffering its terrible consequences. This is not a simple action against the empire and its henchmen that in this area, as in everything else, try to impose their stupid and selfish interests but rather a world public opinion battle that can’t be left to spontaneity or to the whim of most media. It’s a situation that is fortunately known to millions of honest and brave people in the world, a battle to be waged with the masses and within social organizations and scientific, cultural and humanitarian institutions and other international outfits, but very especially in the United Nations where the US administration, its NATO allies and the richest countries tried to deal a fraudulent and antidemocratic blow in Denmark against the rest of the emerging and poor nations of the Third World.
In Copenhagen, the Cuban delegation, which attended alongside others from ALBA and the Third World, was forced to fight strongly in the face of the amazing events originated by the speeches made by Yankee President Barack Obama and the group of richest states in the planet determined to do away with the binding agreements of Kyoto –where the thorny issue was discussed more than 12 years ago– and to place the burden of the sacrifices on the emerging and the underdeveloped countries which happen to be the poorest and, at the same time, the main providers of raw materials and non-renewable resources of the planet to the most developed and affluent. Obama showed up in Copenhagen the last day of the Conference which had begun on December 7. The worst of his behavior was that when he had already made the decision to send 30 thousand soldiers to the carnage in Afghanistan –a country with a strong tradition of independence that not even the British in their best and cruelest times could submit—he traveled to Oslo to receive no less than the Nobel Peace Prize. On December 10, he arrived in the Norwegian capital where he made an empty and demagogic speech full of justifications. On the 18th, the last day of the Summit, he appeared in Copenhagen where he had initially planned to spend only 8 hours. The Secretary of State and a selective group of her best strategists had come in the previous day.
The first thing that Obama did was to choose a group of guests who had the honor of accompanying him to address the Summit. With a permissive and flattering attitude, the Danish Prime Minister, who was chairing the Summit, granted the floor to the group of hardly more than 15 persons. The imperial leader deserved special honors. His speech was a combination of sweet words seasoned with theatrical gestures which have become boring for those who, like me, have decided to listen to him to try being objective in the assessment of his characteristics and political intentions. Obama imposed on his docile Danish host that only his guests could take the floor, although as soon as he made his speech he “disappeared” through a back door, as a leprechaun running away from an audience that had made him the honor of listening attentively.
After the authorized list of speakers had finished, a man who is every inch an Aymara native, Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, who had just been reelected with 65% of the votes, claimed his right to take the floor which was granted to him in light of the overwhelming applause of those present. In only nine minutes he exposed deep and honorable concepts in response to the words of the already absent president of the United States. Immediately afterwards Hugo Chavez stood up to ask for the floor on behalf of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The chairman of the session had no choice but to give the floor to him too; he then improvised one of the most brilliant speeches I’ve heard him make. After that, the sound of the gavel put an end to the unusual session. However, the extremely busy Obama and his entourage did not have a minute to lose. His group had worked out a Draft Declaration full of vague remarks that was a denial of the Kyoto Protocol. After he had precipitously left the plenary hall, he met with other groups of guests, not even 30 people, to negotiate privately and in small groups. He insisted and brought up millionaire figures of green bills without a gold backing and constantly devaluated, and he even threatened to leave the meeting if his demands were not accepted. The worst of all is that it was a meeting of the superrich countries to which some of the most important emerging nations were invited alongside two or three poor countries. The document was submitted to these as a ‘take it or leave it’ proposal.
Later, the Danish Prime Minister tried to present such a confusing, ambiguous and contradictory declaration –in whose discussion the United Nations took no part whatsoever—as the Summit Accord. The sessions had concluded and almost every head of State or Government and Foreign Minister had left for their respective countries when, at three in the morning, the distinguished Danish Prime Minister introduced it to the plenary where hundreds of long-suffering officials, who had not slept for three days, received the complicated document and only an hour to examine it and decide on its approval.
That’s when the meeting grew highly volatile. The delegates had not had time to read it. Several of them asked for the floor. The first one was the delegate of Tuvalu whose islands will be under water if the proposal contained in the document is approved; the delegates of Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua followed suit. The dialectic confrontation that took place at 3:00 AM of December 19 is worth of being recorded by history, if history is to last long after the climate change.
As a good part of what happened is known in Cuba or can be found in the Internet, I will only offer part of the two responses given by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez since they are worthy of reading to known the final episodes of the Copenhagen soap opera, as well as the elements of the last chapter which have yet to be publish in our country.
“Mr. Chairman, [Prime Minister of Denmark]…the document that you repeatedly claimed that did not exist is showing up now. We have all seen drafts surreptitiously circulated and discussed in secret meetings, outside the rooms where the international community has been transparently negotiating through its representatives.”“I add my voice to that of the representatives of Tuvalu, Venezuela and Bolivia. Cuba considers the text of this apocryphal draft extremely insufficient and inadmissible.”“The document that you are unfortunately introducing contains no commitment whatsoever on the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.”“I am aware of the previous drafts, which again through questionable and clandestine procedures, were negotiated in small groups and which at least made reference to a 50% reduction by 2050.”“The document that you are introducing now leaves out precisely those already meager and insufficient key phrases contained in those drafts. This document does not guarantee, in any way, the adoption of minimal measures conducive to the prevention of an extremely grave catastrophe for the planet and for human beings.”“This shameful document that you bring to us is also insufficient and ambiguous with regards to the specific commitment of the developed countries to reduce emissions even when they are responsible for the global warming resulting from the historic and current level of their emissions, and it is only fit that they undertake meaningful reductions right away. This document fails to mention any commitment by the developed nations.”
“Your document, Mr. Chairman, is the death certificate of the Kyoto Protocol that my delegation refuses to accept.
“The Cuban delegation wishes to emphasize the preeminence of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” as the main concept in the future process of negotiations. Your document does not have a word on that.”“The Cuban delegation reiterates its protest against the grave breach of procedure that has surfaced in the antidemocratic way this conference has been conducted, particularly by resorting to arbitrary, exclusive and discriminatory formats of debate and negotiation.”“Mr. Chairman, I formally request that this statement be included in the final report on the works of this shameful and regrettable 15th Conference of the Parties.”
What was unthinkable is that after another long recess and when everybody thought that only the official procedures remained to conclude the Summit, the Primer Minister of the host country, incited by the Yankees, would make another attempt at having the document passed by consensus of the Summit when there were not even foreign ministers present in the plenary hall. The delegates of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba who had remained alert and insomniac until the last minute thwarted the last maneuver in Copenhagen.Still, the problem was far from over. The powerful are not used to meet with resistance and do not admit it. On December 30, the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, in New York, politely informed our Mission in that city that it had taken note of the Copenhagen Accord of December 18, 2009, and was forwarding an advanced copy of that decision. It literally read: “…the Government of Denmark in its capacity as COP15 Presidency invites Parties to the Convention to inform the UNFCCC Secretariat in a written form at their earliest convenience of their willingness to be associated with the Copenhagen Accord.”
This unexpected communication motivated the response of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations, that “…categorically rejects the attempt to indirectly approve a text that was repudiated by several delegations not only for its insufficiency in light of the serious effects of climate change but also because it just responded to the interests of a limited group of nations.”
Likewise, the First Vice minister of the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment of the Republic of Cuba, Dr. Fernando Gonzalez Bermudez, forwarded a letter to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, some of whose paragraphs I reproduce here: We have received with surprise and concern the Note circulated by the Danish Government to the Permanent Missions of the UN member states in New York –of which you are certainly aware– inviting the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to inform the Executive Secretariat in a written form and at their earliest convenience of their willingness to be associated with the so-called Copenhagen Accord.”
“We have seen with additional concern that the Danish Government is informing that the Executive Secretariat of the Convention will include in the report of the COP 15 held in Copenhagen a list of the Parties to the Convention that have expressed their willingness to be associated with this Accord.”“The Republic of Cuba considers this behavior a crude and reprehensible violation of the decision made in Copenhagen where, in view of the obvious lack of consensus, the Parties to the Convention simply took note of the existence of such document.”“Nothing agreed at the COP15 entitles the Government of Denmark to adopt this course of action, and the Executive Secretariat does not have a mandate to include in the final report a list of Parties to the Convention.”
“I must say that the Government of the Republic of Cuba strongly rejects this new attempt at indirectly legitimizing a spurious document and reaffirms that this behavior sets a dangerous precedent for the Convention’s works and impairs the good-faith spirit with which the delegations should carry on the negotiating process next year,” concluded the Cuban First Vice minister of Science, Technology and the Environment.
Many in the world, especially the social movements and the best informed people of the humanitarian, cultural and scientific institutions are aware that the document promoted by the United States is a step backward from the positions reached by those who are making efforts to prevent a colossal catastrophe to our species. There is no point in repeating here facts and figures that prove it mathematically. The data can be found in the Internet; they are within reach of a growing number of people interested in the subject. The theory used to defend adherence to the document is weak and implies a step backward. The deceitful idea is invoked that the wealthy nations would contribute the measly figure of 30 billion dollars in three years to poor countries to pay for the costs of facing climate change. This figure could then be raised to 100 billion annually by the year 2020, something that in this extremely serious issue is tantamount to waiting until Hell freezes over. The experts know that these figures are ridiculous and unacceptable given the magnitude of the investments required. The source of such figures is vague and confusing; therefore, no one is committed to this.
What’s the value of one dollar? What’s the meaning of 30 billion dollars? We all know that since Bretton Woods, in 1944, until Nixon’s executive order in 1971, –aimed at throwing on the world economy the cost of the genocidal Vietnam war– the value of one dollar, measured in gold, has decreased and is today about 32 times lower than it was then. That is, 30 billions mean less than 1 billion, and 100 billion divided by 32 equals 3.1 billions, which at the moment would not be enough to build a middle size oil refinery.
If the industrialized nations ever honored their promise to give the developing countries 0.7% of their GDP –something they never did but for few exceptions—the figure would exceed 250 billion dollars each year.
The US administration has spent 800 billions to bail out the banks, how much would it be willing to spend to save the 9 billion people who will live on the planet by 2050, if there are no severe droughts or floods associated to a rising sea resulting from the meltdown of glaciers and of large masses of frozen water in Greenland and the Antarctic? Let’s not be deceived. What the United States intended with its maneuvers in Copenhagen was to divide the Third World, that is, to separate over 150 countries from China, India, Brazil, South Africa and others with whom we should close ranks to defend in Bonn’s, in Mexico’s or at any other international conference, alongside the social, scientific and humanitarian organizations, real Accords that can benefit every country and protect humanity from a catastrophe conducive to the extinction of our species.
The world is in possession of an ever greater amount of information but the politicians’ time to think is ever smaller.The wealthy nations and their leaders, including the US Congress, seem to be debating who will be the last to disappear.When the 28 parties proposed by Obama to celebrate this Christmas are over, if that of the Epiphany was included perhaps Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar could advise him what to do.
I apologize for the lengthy article but I did not want to split this Reflection in two. I beg for the indulgence of the patient readers.
Fidel Castro Ruz
January 3, 2010
FIDEL CASTRO : THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
The news from the Danish capital gives a picture of chaos. After planning a conference with about 40 thousand people in attendance, the hosts find it impossible to honor their promise. Evo, the first of the two presidents of ALBA-member countries to arrive, stated some truths derived from the millennium-old culture of his people. According to press agencies he said that he had received a mandate from the Bolivian people to oppose any agreement that does not meet the expectations. He explained that climate change is not the cause but the effect, and that we all have an obligation to defend the rights of Mother Earth vis-à-vis a capitalist development model; to defend the culture of life vis-à-vis the culture of death. He also addressed the climate debt that the rich countries should pay to the poor countries and the return of the atmospheric space taken from the latter.
He considered ridiculous the annual figure of 10 billion USD offered until the year 2012 while the yearly needs amount to hundreds of billions. At the same time, he accused the United States of spending trillions to export terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan and to set up military bases in Latin America. The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela addressed the Summit on the 16th, at 8:40 a.m. Cuban time. He made a brilliant speech that was much applauded. His phrases were remarkable. He challenged a document proposed to the Summit by the Danish minister chairing the conference. He said:
“…this text has come out of the blue; we shall not accept any text that has not been produced by the working groups, I mean, the legitimate texts that have been the subject of negotiations for the past two years.”
“There is a group of nations that feel above us in the South, in the Third World…”
“…it’s not a surprise, there is no democracy, we are facing a dictatorship.”
“…I was reading some slogans painted in the streets by the youths… one read: ‘don’t change the climate, change the system,’ and another: “if the climate had been a bank it would have been bailed out.’”
“Obama […] received the Nobel Peace Prize the same day he sent 30 thousand troops to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.”
“I support the view of the representatives of Brazil, Bolivia and China, I only wanted to express my support […] but I was not given the floor…”
“The rich are destroying the planet, could it be they are planning to move to another when this one is destroyed?”
“…there is no doubt that climate change is the most devastating environmental issue of this century.”
“…the United States’ population is barely 300 million; China’s is almost five times that. The United States’ oil consumption exceeds 20 million barrels a day; China’s is hardly 5 or 6 million barrels a day. Thus, the same cannot be asked from the United States and from China.”
“…the reduction of unfriendly gas emissions and the acceptance of a long-term agreement on cooperation […] seem to have failed, for now. Why? […] the irresponsible attitude and the lack of political will of the most powerful nations on Earth.”
“…the gap between the rich and the poor countries has continued to widen despite all of the summits and the unfulfilled promises, and the world continues its destructive march.”
“…the total income of the wealthiest 500 persons in the world is higher than the income of the 416 million poorest persons.”
“Infant mortality amounts to 47 per 1000 live births, but in the rich countries it is only 5/1000.”
“…how much longer can we let millions of children die from curable diseases?”
“Actually, 2.6 billion have no access to health services.”
“The Brazilian author Leornardo Boff has written: ‘The strongest survive on the ashes of the weakest.’”
“Jean Jacob Rousseau said that ‘Between the strong and the weak freedom oppresses.’ That’s why the empire talks of freedom; freedom to oppress, to invade, to kill, to annihilate and to exploit: that’s their freedom. And then Rousseau added the saving phrase: ‘Only the Law can make us free.’”
“How much longer are we going to tolerate armed conflicts that massacre millions of innocent people so that the powerful can grab the resources of others?
“Nearly two centuries back a universal liberator, Simon Bolivar, said: ‘If nature opposes, we shall fight it and force it to obey.’”
“This planet lived for billions of years without us, without human beings; it doesn’t need us to exist, but we can’t live without Earth…”
Evo addressed the conference in the morning of today, Thursday. His speech will also be treasured. He very candidly opened his remarks by saying: “I wish to say how upset we are over the lack of organization and the delays in this international gathering…” His basic ideas were the following:
“When we ask what is it with the hosts, […] we are told it’s the United Nations; when we ask what is it with the United Nations, they say it’s Denmark, so we don’t know who is the disorganizer of this international meeting…”
“…I’m amazed because only the effects and not the causes of climate change are being discussed.”
“If we fail to identify where the destruction of the environment comes from […] we will never be able to solve this problem…”
“…two cultures are antagonizing: the culture of life and the culture of death; the culture of death is capitalism, which the indigenous peoples identify with those who want to live better at the expense of others.”
“…exploiting others, plundering their natural resources, assaulting Mother Earth, privatizing basic services…”
“…living well is living in solidarity, in equality, in complementation, in reciprocity…”
“When it comes to climate change, these two ways of life, these two cultures of life are antagonizing, and if we don’t decide which is the best way of life, we will not be able to solve it, because we have problems with life: luxury and consumerism hurt society, and sometimes in this kind of international meeting we avoid telling the truth.”
“…in our way of life being truthful is sacred, and that is not being observed here.”
“…in our Constitution it reads ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella, which means don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be weak.”
“…Mother Earth or Nature exist and will exist without the human being, but human beings can’t live without planet Earth, therefore, we have the obligation to defend the right of Mother Earth.”
“…I applaud the United Nations because finally this year it has established the International Day of Mother Earth.”
“…our mother is sacred, our mother is our life; a mother cannot be rented, cannot be sold or assaulted, a mother must be respected.”
“We have profound differences with the Western model, and that is under discussion at this moment.”
“We are in Europe now, and you know that many Bolivian families, many Latin American families come to Europe, why do they come here? They come to improve their living conditions. In Bolivia, they could be earning 100 or 200 dollars a month, but that family or that person comes here to care for a European grandmother or grandfather, and he earns 1,000 Euros a month.”
“Such are the asymmetries we have from one continent to another, and it is our obligation to discuss the ways to achieve a certain balance, […] cutting down the deep asymmetries between families, between countries and, especially, between continents.”
“When […] our brothers and sisters come here to survive or improve their living conditions they are expelled, with those papers known as expatriation documents […] but when a long time ago the European grandfathers arrived in Latin America, they were not expelled. My families, my brothers and sisters are not coming here to own mines, nor are they landowners with thousands of hectares of land. In the past, no passports or visas were needed to get to Abya Yala, that is, to the Americas.”
“…if the rights of Mother Earth are not recognized, it will be useless to speak of 10 billions or 100 billions, which is an offense to humanity.”
“…the wealthy nations should welcome all the immigrants affected by climate change instead of forcing them to return to their countries as they are doing now…”
“…our obligation is to save all of humanity and not half of humanity.”
“…the FTAA, Free Trade Area of the Americas, […] is not a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but a free colonization area of the Americas…”
Evo suggested the following questions, among others, for a worldwide referendum on climate change:
“..Do you agree to restore a harmonious relationship with Nature recognizing the rights of Mother Earth…?”
“…Do you agree to change this excessively consumerist and wasting model, that is, the capitalist system…?”
“…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce and reabsorb their greenhouse effect gas emissions…?”
“…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the defense budget to tackle the problem of climate change..?.”
As it is widely known, the UN Agreement on Climate Change was signed in Kyoto in 1997. This instrument bound 38 industrial nations to cut down their greenhouse effect gas emissions to a certain percentage in comparison with those of 1990. The European Union countries committed to an 8% as of 2005, the year when most of the signatories had already ratified it. George W. Bush, then President of the United States, –the largest greenhouse effect gas producer country which is responsible for one-fourth of such emissions—had rejected the agreement since the midst of 2001. The other UN members continued their efforts. The research centers proceeded with their work. It is evident by now that a major catastrophe is threatening our species. Perhaps the worst could be that the blind selfishness of a privileged wealthy minority tries to bring the burden of the necessary sacrifices to weigh heavily on the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the planet. That contradiction can be perceived in Copenhagen where thousands of people are standing firm by their views. The Danish police are resorting to brutal methods to crush resistance; many protesters are being preventively arrested. I spoke over the phone with our Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was at a solidarity rally in Copenhagen with Chavez, Evo, Lazo and other representatives of ALBA. I asked him who those people were that the Danish police suppressed with such hate, twisting their arms and beating their backs repeatedly. He said they were Danish citizens and people from other European nations as well as members of the social movements who were demanding from the Summit a real solution now to deal with climate change. He also told me that debates in the Summit would continue at midnight. It was already night in Copenhagen as I spoke with him. The time difference is six hours.
Our comrades have reported from the Danish capital that a worse situation is expected tomorrow, Thursday. At 10 in the morning, the UN Summit will be adjourned for two hours as the Danish Head of Government meets with 20 Heads of Government he has invited to talk “global problems” with Obama. That’s what they have called the meeting whose objective it is to impose an agreement on climate change. Even though all of the official delegations will take part, only “the invitees” will be allowed to offer their views. Of course, neither Chavez nor Evo are counted among those entitled to express their opinions. The idea is to give an opportunity to the Nobel Laureate to read a previously elaborated speech, after the decision has been made in that meeting to postpone the agreement until the end of next year in Mexico City. The social movements will not be allowed to attend. After that show, the “Summit” will resume its works in the plenary hall until its inglorious closing. Since television has carried the images, the world has seen the fascist methods used against the people in Copenhagen. The protesters, most of them young people, have won the solidarity of the peoples. Despite the maneuvers and deception of the leaders of the empire, their moment of truth is drawing closer. Their own allies are losing confidence in them. In Mexico, the same as in Copenhagen or elsewhere in the world, they will be met by the growing resistance of the peoples that have not renounced the hope to survive.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 17, 2009
THE TRUTH OF WHAT HAPPENED AT THE SUMMIT
The youth is more interested than anyone else in the future. Until very recently, the discussion revolved around the kind of society we would have. Today, the discussion centers on whether human society will survive. These are not dramatic phrases. We must get used to the true facts. Hope is the last thing human beings can relinquish. With truthful arguments, men and women of all ages, especially young people, have waged an exemplary battle at the Summit and taught the world a great lesson. It is important now that Cuba and the world come to know as much as possible of what happened in Copenhagen. The truth can be stronger than the influenced and often misinformed minds of those holding in their hands the destiny of the world.
If anything significant was achieved in the Danish capital, it was that the media coverage allowed the world public to watch the political chaos created there and the humiliating treatment accorded to Heads of States or Governments, ministers and thousands of representatives of social movements and institutions that in hope and expectation traveled to the Summit’s venue in Copenhagen. The brutal repression of peaceful protesters by the police was a reminder of the behavior of the Nazi assault troops that occupied neighboring Denmark on April 1940. But no one could have thought that on December 18, 2009, the last day of the Summit, this would be suspended by the Danish government –a NATO ally associated with the carnage in Afghanistan– to offer the conference’s plenary hall to President Obama for a meeting where only he and a selected group of guests, 16 in all, would have the exclusive right to speak. Obama’s deceitful, demagogic and ambiguous remarks failed to involve a binding commitment and ignored the Kyoto Framework Convention. He then left the room shortly after listening to a few other speakers. Among those invited to take the floor were the highest industrialized nations, several emerging economies and some of the poorest countries in the world. The leaders and representatives of over 170 countries were only allowed to listen. At the end of the speeches of the 16 chosen, Evo Morales, with the authority of his indigenous Aymara origin and his recent reelection with 65% of the vote as well as the support of two-thirds of the Bolivian House and Senate, requested the floor. The Danish president had no choice but to yield to the insistence of the other delegations. When Evo had concluded his wise and deep observations, the Danish had to give the floor to Hugo Chavez. Both speeches will be registered by history as examples of short and timely remarks. Then, with their mission duly accomplished they both left for their respective countries. But when Obama disappeared, he had yet to fulfill his task in the host country.
From the evening of the 17th and the early morning hours of the 18th, the Prime Minister of Denmark and senior representatives of the United States had been meeting with the Chairman of the European Commission and the leaders of 27 nations to introduce to them –on behalf of Obama– a draft agreement in whose elaboration none of the other leaders of the rest of the world had taken part. It was an antidemocratic and practically clandestine initiative that disregarded the thousands of representatives of social movements, scientific and religious institutions and other participants in the Summit.
Through the night of the 18th and until 3:00 a.m. of the 19th, when many Heads of States had already departed, the representatives of the countries waited for the resumption of the sessions and the conclusion of the event. Throughout the 18th, Obama held meetings and press conferences, and the same did the European leaders. Then, they left.
Something unexpected happened then: at three in the morning of the 19th, the Prime Minister of Denmark convened a meeting to conclude the Summit. By then, the countries were represented by ministers, officials, ambassadors and technical staff. However, an amazing battle was waged that morning by a group of representatives of Third World countries challenging the attempt by Obama and the wealthiest on the planet to introduce a document imposed by the United States as one agreed by consensus in the Summit.
The representative of Venezuela, Claudia Salerno, showed with impressive energy her right hand bleeding from strongly slamming on the table to claim her right to take the floor. Her tone of voice and the dignity of her arguments will never be forgotten. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba made a vigorous speech of approximately one thousand words from which I have chosen a few paragraphs to include in this Reflection:
“The document that you, Mister Chairman, repeatedly claimed that did not exist shows up now. […] we have seen drafts circulating surreptitiously and being discussed in secret meetings…”
“…I deeply resent the way you have led this conference.”
“…Cuba considers the text of this apocryphal draft extremely inadequate and inadmissible. The goal of 2 degrees centigrade is unacceptable and it would have incalculable catastrophic consequences…”
“The document that you are unfortunately introducing is not binding in any way with respect to the reduction of the greenhouse-gas emissions.”
“I am aware of the previous drafts, which also through questionable and clandestine procedures, were negotiated by small groups of people…”
“The document you are introducing now fails to include the already meager and lacking key phrases contained in that draft…”
“…as far as Cuba is concerned, it is incompatible with the universally recognized scientific view sustaining that it is urgent and inescapable to ensure the reduction of at least 45% of the emissions by the year 2020, and of no less than 80% or 90% by 2050.”
“Any argument on the continuation of the negotiations to reach agreement in the future to cut down emissions must inevitably include the concept of the validity of the Kyoto Protocol […] Your paper, Mister Chairman, is a death certificate of the Kyoto Protocol and my delegation cannot accept it.”
“The Cuban delegation would like to emphasize the preeminence of the principle of ‘common by differentiated responsibilities,’ as the core of the future process of negotiations. Your paper does not include a word on that.”
“This draft declaration fails to mention concrete financial commitments and the transfers of technologies to developing countries, which are part of the obligations contracted by the developed countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change […] Mister Chairman, by imposing their interests through your document, the developed nations are avoiding any concrete commitment.”
“…What you, Mister Chairman, define as ‘a group of representative leaders’ is to me a gross violation of the principle of sovereign equality consecrated in the United Nations Charter…”
“Mr. Chairman, I formally request that this statement be included in the final report of the works of this regrettable and shameful 15th session of the Conference of the Parties.”
The representatives of the countries had been given only one hour to present their views. This led to complicated, shameful and embarrassing situations. Then, a lengthy debate ensued where the delegations from the developed countries put a heavy pressure on the rest to make the conference adopt the abovementioned document as the final result of their deliberations.
A small number of countries firmly insisted on the grave omissions and ambiguities of the document promoted by the United States, particularly the absence of a commitment by the developed countries on the reduction of carbon emissions and on the financing that would allow the South countries to adopt alleviating and adjustment measures.
After a long and extremely tense discussion, the position of the ALBA countries and Sudan, as President of the G-77, prevailed that the document was unacceptable to the conference thus it could not be adopted. In view of the absence of consensus, the Conference could only “take note” of the existence of that document representing the position of a group of about 25 countries. After that decision was made, –at 10:30 in the morning Denmark’s time– Bruno, together with other ALBA representatives, had a friendly discussion with the UN Secretary to whom they expressed their willingness to continue struggling alongside the United Nations to prevent the terrible consequences of climate change. Their mission completed, our Foreign Minister and Cuban Vicepresident Esteban Lazo departed to come back home and attend the National Assembly session. A few members of the delegation and the ambassador stayed in Copenhagen to take part in the final procedures.
This afternoon they reported the following:
“…both, those who were involved in the elaboration of the document, and those like the President of the United States who anticipated its adoption by the conference…as they could not disregard the decision to simply ‘take note’ of the alleged ‘Copenhagen Agreement,’ they tried to introduce a procedure allowing the other COP countries that had not been a part of the shady deal to adhere to it, and make it public, the intention being to pretend such an agreement was legal, something that could precondition the results of the negotiations that should carry on.”
“Such belated attempt was again firmly opposed by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. These countries warned that a document which had not been adopted by the Convention could not be considered legal and that there was not a COP document; therefore, no regulations could be established for its alleged adoption…”
“This is how the meeting in Copenhagen is coming to an end, without the adoption of the document surreptitiously worked out in the past few days under the clear ideological guidance of the US Administration…”
Tomorrow our attention will be focused on the National Assembly. Lazo, Bruno and the other members of the delegation will be arriving at midnight today. On Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be able to explain in details and with the necessary accuracy the truth of what happened at the Summit.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 19, 2009
NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT RENAISSANCE: A CHANCE FOR A MULTIPOLAR WORLD ?
NAM Member States
In 1955, when the founding fathers of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) held their first meeting in the now famous Bandung Gathering, the role of Non Aligned Movement seemed to be clear: prevention of a new war. In a world already savagely ravaged by the Second World War, URSS and United States already embarked in a new kind of military and political confrontation: Cold War. So the role and the place of a non-aligned movement where clear and easy to carve: keeping the two opposite blocs in equilibrium not allowing for the cold war to become a nuclear war. After the fall of the communism and dissolution of Warsaw pact in 1991 the Non Aligned Movement seemed to be out of place in a world that had promised to be without military or ideological confrontation. Many had claimed even the end of the organization in a post-Cold War world. After the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that presented clear the risk of a unipolar world ,now a new need is offering to Non Aligned Movement a new chance to play a historic role: the search for a multipolar world.
A new Non Aligned Movement?
The Cuban presidency of Non Aligned Movement (2006-2009) has witnessed a new world that could offer new meanings to a movement that seemed to be in collapse in the last decade of XX century. The reason for this comeback where many . First we are seeing an increase in relevance of the so called Bandung spirit. In 1955 at the inaugural session the five key figures of the movement: Josif Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamel Nasser of Egypt , Sukarno of Indonesia and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana wanted this new organization to stand for: non-aggression, non-interference, respect for independence, equality and peaceful co-existence.
At the end of the Cold War this principle seemed to stay at the heart of the new international security structure. The dissolution of URSS granted freedom to the people in the communist area and the Kuwait War (1991) signaled a new role of United Nation as a protector of independence of small countries . Soon this dream was dashed, the US lead invasion in Afghanistan (2001) the unilateral Iraq invasion (2003) and the threats to North Korea and Iran existence , the orange revolution in Eastern Europe, all this marked a new era of unipolar world . In this new confrontational vision the spirit of Bandung was the key for re-establishing order in the world. In an unexpected way the so called war on terror marked the necessity for a balanced world in which no power to act without impunity and those marked the renaissance of Non Aligned Movement.
Is Non Aligned Movement a power?
At a first glance the answer seemed to be a clear Yes: with118 member states and another 15 observer waiting for admittance and with almost 55% percent of the world population and 20% percent of world economy, demographical and economical date tend to suggest an important power to be used by this movement. In any case the sad days of the nineties when the Movement look as it will lose his meaning are long gone. But on a realistic note the Non Aligned Movement has still the same weakness that crippled his influence on the Cold war period. The Bandung five fathers imagined a powerful military, political and economical alliance that could balance United States and Soviet Union. This strong alliance is not build yet. On political level the connections between these countries are still week, economic also there is no plan for common development, there isn’t any trade agreement or economic project to hold together the NAM members. Also the NAM it does not offer a political mechanism for dismantling inner tension between member states and no military common capacity to give relevance to the movement. State by state agreement does not substitute a common unified mechanism .Also the NAM organization it is lacking the material resources to put forward a common international agenda. Finally a weak point of the organization is the dependency on the country that is chairing the NAM Alliance. The last years prove this quite eloquently , the three years of Cuban mandate marked a bust in visibility and international audience to the organization ,while the Egyptian mandate until now is a very disappointing one, succeed only in puttying the organization into shadow . So NAM is having a lot of work to do until will be able to measure up with NATO or United States influence.
Is Non Aligned Movement rising up?
Despite these internal issues the Cuban presidency and NAM have marked a few initiatives that could foster the image and influence of the organization. The most important was the decision of NAM to get involved in a necessary, but long postponed, reform of United Nation system. Taking part in common peace keeping operation is also offering the breeding ground for an experimental military task force of NAM. Finally the Committee on Palestine of NAM has offered credible solution on the Middle East problem, requesting Israel to to halt its settlement activities, open up border crossings, and cease the use of force and violence against civilians and relinquish Gaza and West Bank territories to a future Palestinian state. Extremely important was the decision on NAM to emphasize on justice and respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and relinquish his older name as the club of autocrats and foster democracy on the member states. Off course it is still a long way until NAM will be a club of democracy but it is a step on the right direction. All this new stance , the decision to create a Joint Economic Cooperation committee and to offer a new leadership to the organization in the form of a Joint Coordinating Committee that doubles the state leadership of NAM, all this are opportunity to make the organization more efficient and by this more visible. As always history teach us that an organization like a person is having his role in the world. Non Aligned Movement played a part on the Cold War adventure and is having now a new calling: fostering a new power for a multipolar world. The last decade, under a one polar world, was not a beneficial one: increase in military spending, economic crisis, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and destabilizing of the Middle East region, African underdevelopment, and democracy crisis, all this need to be address and Non Aligned Movement by his simple existence could be a beckon of hope.
Professor Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS