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
SEVEN DAGGERS AT THE HEART OF THE AMERICAS
I read and reread data and articles written by smart personalities, some better known than others, who publish in various media outlets drawing the information from sources nobody questions.
Everywhere in the world, the people living on this planet are taking economic, environmental and war risks due to the United States policies but no other region of the world as threatened by such grave problems as that country’s neighbors, that is, the peoples of this continent south of that hegemonic power.
The presence of such a powerful empire –with military bases, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers; modern warships and sophisticated fighter planes that can carry any type of weapons, deployed in every continent and ocean; with hundreds of thousands of troops and a government that claims absolute impunity for them– is the most important headache for any government, be it a leftist, rightist or center government, an allied of the United States or not.
The problem for those of us who are its neighbors is not that it is a different country with a different language. There are Americans of every color and background. They are people just like us with all kinds of feelings, in one sense or another. What is dramatic is the system that has been developed there and imposed on everyone else. That system is not new to the use of force and to the domination methods that have prevailed throughout history; what is new is the time we are living. Approaching the issue from a traditional perspective would be a mistake and no one would benefit. Reading and getting acquainted with the ideas of the advocates of the system can be very educational for it helps to become aware of the nature of a system which builds on a continuous appeal to selfishness and to the peoples’ most basic instincts.
Without convictions about the value of conscience and its capacity to prevail over instincts, it would not be possible to even speak of a hope for change in any period of the very short history of man. Neither would it be possible to understand the formidable obstacles lying in the way of the different political leaders of the Latin American or Ibero-American nations in the hemisphere. In any case, the peoples living in this part of the world in the last tens of thousands of years until the famous discovery of the Americas had no traits of the Latin, Iberian or European peoples and their features resembled more those of the Asian peoples where their ancestors had come from. Today, we can find them on the faces of the indigenous people in Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile, a country where the Araucanians wrote enduring pages. In certain areas of Canada and Alaska they still preserve their indigenous roots as purely as they can, but in the continental United States a large part of the ancient peoples was exterminated by the white conquerors.
As everybody knows, millions of Africans were uprooted from their land and brought to work as slaves in this hemisphere. In some countries like Haiti and a large part of the Caribbean Islands their descendants make up the majority of the population, and in some other countries they add up to large segments. In the United States, there are tens of millions of people of African descent who, as a rule, are the poorest and most discriminated against.
For centuries that country claimed privileged rights over our continent. At the time of Jose Marti, it tried to impose a single currency based on gold, a metal whose value has been the steadiest through history. In general, international trade was based on gold; but that is not the case today. From the days of Nixon’s administration, world trade developed on the basis of the paper money printed by the United States, the dollar, a currency worth today about 27 times less than in the early ‘70s; one of the many ways to dominate and defraud the rest of the world. At the present moment, however, other currencies are taking the place of the dollar in international trade and in the hard currency reserves.
Then, while the value of the empire’s currency is decreasing, its military forces’ reserves are increasing and the state-of-the-art technology and science monopolized by the superpower are largely directed to weapons development. Presently, it is not only the thousands of nuclear missiles or the modern destructive power of conventional weapons, but the guided planes piloted by robots. This is not just a fantasy. Some of these aircraft are being used in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Recent reports indicate that in a relatively near future, by the year 2020, –long before the Antarctic icecap melts– the empire plans to have among its 2500 war planes, 1100 fifth-generation F-35 and F-22 fighter-bombers. Just to give an idea of that potential, suffice it to say that the aircraft used at the Soto Cano base in Honduras to train that country’s pilots are F-5, and the ones supplied to the Venezuelan air force –prior to Chavez– and to Chile and other countries, were small F-16 squadrons.
Even more significant is the empire’s plan for the next 30 years anticipating that every U.S. combat aircraft, from fighter planes to heavy bombers and tanker planes are piloted by robots.
Such a military might is not a necessity of the world; it is a necessity of the economic system that the empire imposes to the world.
Anyone understands that if the robots can replace the combat pilots, they can also replace the workers in many factories. The free-trade agreements that the empire is trying to impose on the countries of this hemisphere mean that these workers will have to compete with the advanced technology and the robots of the Yankee industry.
Robots do not go on strike; they are obedient and disciplined. We have seen on TV machinery that can pick up apples and other fruits. The question could also be asked to the American workers. Where will the jobs be? What is the future that capitalism without borders, in its advanced development stage, assigns to the people?
In light of this and other realities, the leaders of UNASUR, MERCOSUR, the Rio Group and others cannot but analyze the very good question raised by Venezuela: What’s the meaning of the military and naval bases that the United States wants to set up around Venezuela and in the heart of South America? I remember that a few years back, when relations between Colombia and Venezuela, two sister nations bound by geography and history, grew dangerously tense Cuba quietly promoted significant steps leading to peace between them. Cuba will never encourage war between sister nations. Historic experience, the manifest destiny claimed and applied by the United States and the weak accusations against Venezuela about weapon supplies to the FARC, combined with the negotiations aimed at granting to the U.S. Armed Forces seven places in that territory to be used by their air and naval troops, are leaving Venezuela no other choice but to invest in weaponry the resources it could use for the economy, social programs and cooperation with other countries of the region having less resources and development. Venezuela’s military build-up is not aimed against the fraternal people of Colombia but against the empire which already tried to overthrow its Revolution and today intends to set up its sophisticated weapons near the Venezuelan border.
It would be a serious mistake to believe that only Venezuela is being threatened. Actually, every country in the south of the continent is under threat. Not one of them will be able to avoid the issue as some of them have already stated.
The present and future generations will pass judgment on their leaders for the way they conduct themselves at this moment. It is not only the United States, but the United States and the system. What does it offer? What does it want?
It offers the FTAA, that is, the early ruin of our countries: free transit of goods and capital, but not free transit of people. They are now afraid that the opulent consumerist society is inundated by poor Hispanics, indigenous people, black, mulatto or whites who cannot find jobs in their own countries. They return everyone who commits an offense or that they do not need; quite often these people are killed before they enter that country or returned like animals when they are not necessary. Twelve million Latin American or Caribbean immigrants remain in the United States illegally. A new economy has emerged in our countries, especially in the smallest and poorest: that of remittances. In times of crisis, this strikes mostly the immigrants and their families. Parents and children are separated, sometimes forever. If the immigrant is of military age, he is given the chance to enlist for fighting thousands of miles away from home “on behalf of freedom and democracy,” and if they do not get killed, on their return they are given the right to become US citizens. Then, as they are well trained they are offered the possibility of a contract, not as official soldiers but as civilian soldiers for the private companies that provide services to the imperial wars of conquest.
There are other extremely serious dangers. There are always news of immigrants from Mexico and other countries of our region dying as they try to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. The number of victims each year widely exceeds the totality of those who lost their lives in the almost 28 years of existence of the famous Berlin Wall.
But what is most incredible is that there is hardly any news in the world about a war that is taking thousands of lives every year. In 2009, more Mexicans have been killed than the number of American soldiers who died during Bush’s war on Iraq in the course of his administration.
The cause of the war in Mexico is the largest drug market in the world: the United States market. But there is no war going on in the American territory between the U.S. police and the military fighting the drug-traffickers. The war has instead been exported to Mexico and Central America, but especially to the Aztec country which is closer to the United States. Dreadful images of dead bodies are shown on TV while news keep coming in of people murdered in the surgery rooms where their lives were being saved. None of these images originates in the U.S. territory.
Such a wave of violence and bloodshed is expanding through the countries of South America, affecting them to a lesser or greater extent. Where does the money come from if not the endless source of the U.S. market? Likewise, consumption tends to expand to the rest of the countries in the region causing more victims and direct or indirect damages than AIDS, malaria and other illnesses put together.
The imperial plans of domination are preceded by huge sums of money assigned to the task of deceiving and misinforming the public. For this purpose, they have the full complicity of the oligarchy, the bourgeoisie, the rightist intelligentsia and the media.
They are experts in spreading news of the politicians’ mistakes and contradictions.
The fate of mankind must not be left in the hands of robots turned into people or people turned into robots.
In the year 2010, the U.S. government will promote its policy through the State Department and USAID spending 2.2 billion dollars –12 percent more than the Bush administration received in the last year of its second term– and almost 450 million of them will be used to prove that the tyranny imposed on the world means democracy and respect for human rights.
They constantly appeal to the human beings’ instinct and selfishness; they despise the value of education and conscience. The resistance put up by the Cuban people throughout 50 years is evident. Resistance is the weapon that peoples can never give up. The Puerto Ricans were able to stop the military exercises in Vieques by standing on the site of the firing range.
Bolivar’s homeland is today the country they are most worried about for its historical role in the struggle for the independence of the peoples of the Americas. Cubans working there as healthcare and informatics specialists, educators, physical education and sports professors, agricultural technicians and specialists in other areas should do their best to fulfill their internationalist duty to prove that the peoples can put up a resistance and carry forward the most sacred principles of human society. Otherwise, the empire will destroy civilization and even the human race.
Fidel Castro Ruz
August , 2009.
WHAT SHOULD BE DEMANDED FROM THE UNITED STATES by FIDEL CASTRO
The meeting in Costa Rica didn’t, nor could it, lead to peace. The people of Honduras are not at war, it’s just the perpetrators of the coup who are using weapons against the people. One should demand that they cease their war against the people. That meeting between Zelaya and the coup was only good for discrediting the constitutional president and wearing away at the energies of the Honduran people.
World public opinion learned about what was happening in that country through the images broadcast by international television, basically Telesur, which without losing a single second, faithfully broadcast each one of the events happening in Honduras, the speeches made and the unanimous agreements of the international bodies against the coup.
The world could watch the blows that rained down on men and women, the thousands of tear gas bombs thrown into the crowd, the rude gestures with weapons of war and the shots intended to intimidate, wound or murder citizens.
The idea that the US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, didn’t know about or discouraged the coup is absolutely false. He knew about it, just like the American military advisors who didn’t stop for a minute in their training of Honduran troops.
Today we know that the idea to promote a peace process from Costa Rica arose from the offices of the State Department, in order to contribute to the strengthening of the military coup.
The coup was conceived and organized by unscrupulous characters on the far-right, who were officials in the confidence of George W. Bush and had been promoted by him.
All of them, without exception, have a thick file of activities against Cuba. Hugo Lorens, the ambassador in Honduras since the middle of 2008, is a Cuban-American. He is part of the group of aggressive US ambassadors in Central America, made up of Robert Blau, the ambassador in El Salvador, Stephen McFarland in Guatemala and Robert Callahan in Nicaragua, all appointed by Bush in the months of July and August of 2008.
The four of them follow the line of Otto Reich and John Negroponte who, together with Oliver North, were responsible for the dirty war against Nicaragua and the death squads in Central America that cost the peoples of the region tens of thousands of lives.
Negroponte was Bush’s representative at the United Nations, the US intelligence tsar, and finally under-secretary of State. Both he and Otto Reich, using different routes, were behind the coup in Honduras.
The base at Soto Cano in that country, home to the Joint Task Force-Bravo of the US Armed Forces, is the main point of support for the coup d’état in Honduras.
The United States has the dismal plan to create five more military bases around Venezuela, with the excuse of replacing the one in Manta, Ecuador.
The absurd adventure of the coup d’état in Honduras has created a really complicated situation in Central America that cannot be resolved with trickery, deceit and lies.
Every day we learn about new details in the US implication in that action that will also have serious repercussions in all of Latin America.
The idea of a peace initiative from Costa Rica was transmitted to the president of that country from the State Department when Obama was in Moscow and he was declaring at a Russian university that the only president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya.
The perpetrators of the coup were in a predicament. The initiative transmitted to Costa Rica was seeking the goal of saving them. It is clear that every day of delay has a cost for the constitutional president and tends to dilute the extraordinary international support he has received. The Yankee manoeuvre does not increase the possibilities for peace, just the opposite, it decreases them, and the danger of violence grows, since the peoples of our America will never resign themselves to the fate that has been programmed for them.
With the Costa Rica meeting, the authority of the UN, the OAS and the other institutions that committed their support to the people of Honduras is being questioned.
When Micheletti, the de facto president, yesterday announced that he is willing to step down from his position if Zelaya resigns, I already knew that the State Department and the military in the coup had agreed to replace him and send him again to Congress as part of the manoeuvre.
The only correct thing to do at this moment is to demand that the government of the United States ceases its intervention, stops giving military aid to the coup and pulls out its Task Force from Honduras.
What they want to demand from the Honduran people in the name of peace is to deny all the principles for which all the nations of this hemisphere have fought.
“Respect for the rights of others means peace”, said Juárez.
Reflections by Comrade Fidel
A SUICIDAL MISTAKE
Three days ago, in the evening of Thursday 25th, I wrote in my Reflections: “We do not know what will happen tonight or tomorrow in Honduras, but the courageous behavior adopted by Zelaya will go down in history.”
Two paragraphs before I had indicated that: “The situation that might result from whatever occurs in that country will be a test for the OAS and the current US administration.”
The prehistoric Inter-American institution met in Washington the following day and in a halfhearted and spiritless resolution promised to immediately make the necessary efforts to bring about harmony between the contending parties; that is, a negotiation between the putschists and the Constitutional President of Honduras.
The high ranking military chief who was still in command of the Honduran Armed Forces was making public statements different from the President’s position while recognizing his authority in a merely formal way.
The putschists needed barely anything else from the OAS. They couldn’t care less for the presence of a large number of international observers who had traveled to that country to bear witness to a referendum and who had been talking with Zelaya until late into the night. Today, before dawn, they launched on the President’s home about 200 well-trained and equipped professional troops who roughly set aside the members of the Guard of Honor and kidnapped Zelaya –who was sleeping at the moment– taking him to an air base and forcibly putting him on a plane to Costa Rica.
At 8:30 a.m. we learned from Telesur of the assault on the Presidential House and the kidnapping. The President was unable to attend the initial activity related to the referendum that was to take place this Sunday and his whereabouts were unknown.
The official television channel was silenced. They wanted to prevent the early spread of the news of the treacherous action through Telesur and Cubavision Internacional, which were reporting the events. Therefore, they first suspended the broadcasting centers and then cut off electricity to the entire country. At the moment, the Supreme Court and the Congress involved in the conspiracy had yet to make public the decisions that justified the plot. They first carried out the indescribable military coup and then legalized it.
The people woke up to a fait accompli and started to react with growing indignation. Zelaya’s destination was unknown. Three hours later the people’s reaction was such that we could see women punching soldiers with their fists and the latter’s weapons falling off their hands as they were nervous and confused. At the beginning, their movements resembled a strange combat with ghosts; later, they tried to cover Telesur’s cameras with their hands and nervously aimed their guns at the reporters. Sometimes, when the people advanced the troops stepped back. At this point, armored vehicles carrying cannons and machineguns were sent in as the people fearlessly discussed with the crews of the armored vehicles. The people’s reaction was amazing.
Approximately at 2:00 in the afternoon, a tamed majority in Congress –in coordination with the putschists—toppled Zelaya, the Constitutional President of Honduras, and appointed a new head of State announcing to the world that the former had resigned and showing a forged signature. A few minutes later, from an airport in Costa Rica, Zelaya related everything that had happened and categorically refuted the news about his resignation. The plotters had placed themselves in a ridiculous situation in the eyes of the world.
Many other things happened today. Cubavision took all of its time to expose the coup and keep our people informed.
Some events were purely fascist in nature and even if expected they are still astonishing.
Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was the putschists’ main target, second only to Zelaya. Another detachment was sent to her residence. She was brave and determined, and she acted quickly; she did not waste time and started denouncing the coup in every way possible. Our ambassador contacted Patricia to learn about the situation; other ambassadors did likewise. At a given moment, she asked the diplomatic representatives of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to meet with her since she was being fiercely hounded and required diplomatic protection. Our ambassador, who from the first moments was authorized to offer the minister all the constitutional and legal support, proceeded to visit her in her own residence.
When the diplomats were already in her house, the putschist command sent Major Oceguera to put her under arrest. The diplomats stood between the woman and the officer and claimed she was under diplomatic protection and could only be moved accompanied by them. Oceguera discussed with them in a respectful fashion. A few minutes later, 12 or 15 men in uniform and covering their faces with ski masks rushed into the house. The three ambassadors embraced Patricia but the masked men using force managed to separate the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors; Hernandez held her so strongly by one arm that the masked men dragged them both to a van and drove to an air base where they finally separated him and took her away. As he was there in custody, Bruno, who had news of the kidnapping called him to the cell phone; one of the masked men tried to violently snatch the phone out of his hands and the Cuban ambassador, who had already been punched in Patricia’s home, shouted: “Don’t push me, cojones!” I don’t remember if the term was ever used by Cervantes, but there is no doubt that ambassador Juan Carlos Hernandez has enriched our language.
Later, he was abandoned in a road far from the Cuban mission not before being warned that something worse could happen to him if he talked. “Nothing can be worse than death,” he answered with dignity, “and still I’m not afraid of you.” Then people from the area helped him to return to the embassy and from there he immediately called Bruno again.
There is no way to negotiate with that putschist high command. They must be asked to abdicate while other younger officers, uninvolved with the oligarchy, take charge of the military command; otherwise, there will never be in Honduras a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
There is no hope for the cornered and isolated putschists if the problem is faced with determination.
Even Mrs. Clinton stated this afternoon that Zelaya is the only President of Honduras and the Honduran putschists can’t even breathe without the support of the United States of America.
Zelaya, a man who was in his pyjamas just a few hours ago, will be recognized by the world as the only Constitutional President of Honduras.
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 28, 2009