Sergio Paneque

Sergio Paneque

Cuba’s revolution has been triumph of human spirit, writes Jacob Zuma

"The revolution will not be televised." An African-American poet uttered those words at the height of the struggle for US civil rights.

Revolutionaries adopt an approach to their historical reality opposed to that of an audience of a TV programme with a set timetable.

Revolutionaries don’t sit by the wayside and observe history unfold as removed yet curious observers with no obligation, but rather as those who work.

Revolutionaries are not merely an audience to history unfolding on a predetermined and predicted time period, but are active agents of change engaged in a conscious effort to change the world; to bring about a new society.

A revolutionary lives his life no longer solely in service of his individual wants and needs but understands his existence as inextricably connected to that of his fellow men, whose social welfare cannot be dissociated from his.

This genuine human solidarity does not arise out of sentiments of pity for the weak or false generosity informed by guilt; it is based on irrefutably sound principles to attain emancipation of the oppressed and build a new society.

It is this form of human solidarity that has in the present day brought into being the now unparalleled stature of the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people as an exemplar for those who seek the deeper meaning of freedom, liberty and self-determination.

It is through the Cuban revolutionaries and Cuban society as a whole that the whole world and the oppressed, wherever they are to be found, have learnt the distance one must travel and the discipline and sacrifice that may be necessary for one to defend one’s God-given right to determine one’s own fate and give meaning to the idea of being free.

In winning their freedom and fighting the gallant fight to defend their right to self-determination, the Cuban people have demonstrated that the revolution was a live phenomenon experienced at the point where it was prosecuted.

Talking about the Cuban Five and the ordeal they went through cannot occur in any meaningful way if one does not speak about the unparalleled achievements of the people of Cuba as a whole. For their outstanding sacrifice was in the service of Cuban society.

We pay homage to the Cuban patriots as a true representation of revolutionary sacrifice and selflessness. We pay homage to their conscious resistance in the face of the injustice meted out to them in the attempt to defile what they stood for and what Cuba stands for.

We celebrate the triumph of solidarity that came from all progressive humanity and all freedom-loving people worldwide.

The working class and the poor continue to draw inspiration from the example of the Cuban revolution.

Their longevity and dynamism have sailed through the turbulent waters, including economic blockades, attempts at regime change and other testing conditions, to emerge as living testimony to the supreme notion that freedom is as precious as life itself.

In a society such as ours, we have learnt through the example of Cuba that no man is an island and it is in the interest of the oppressed everywhere to build solidarity as an indispensible ingredient of the recipe of struggle and liberation.

There is no greater example for us as the liberation movement in South Africa than the supreme sacrifice of the Cubans in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which was arguably the most decisive military confrontation with the apartheid military forces.

The critical role of the Cubans in that battle propelled the struggle to the point of breakthrough, prompting then Cuban president Fidel Castro to assert that “the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale”.

As South Africans and revolutionary forces in our region we have a stark understanding of the sacrifices of the Cubans in the defeat of the monster of the apartheid regime, the last colonial outpost in our continent.

We have a gratitude to the internationalism of the small island of Cuba that stood against giants at its own peril, for all humanity to see that no price is too high to pay for freedom, not merely for oneself but for others.

From Cuba we can never be in doubt in agreeing with the phrase that indeed the revolution will not be televised. The Cuban Five and their victory is a representation of such a spirit from the Cuban people, never only in theory but also in practice. Solidarity is the lifeblood of the revolution; let us never stop building it.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Prepares for Municipal Elections

Cubans continued Thursday the process of nominating candidates for the upcoming municipal elections.

The selection process for candidates began nationwide on Tuesday, and will continue until March 25.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), 167,263 Cubans have already stepped forward as potential candidates. Around 44 percent of the hopefuls are women. The final candidates will vie for positions in Cuba's 12,589 municipal councils, with between two and eight candidates required by law for each position.

Any of Cuba's roughly 8 million eligible voters can run, but not along party lines. Municipal elections are strictly non-partisan, and very little campaigning takes place. Instead, candidates are expected to woo voters familiar with their track records as responsible members of the community, rather than through the kinds of expensive publicity campaigns common in Western nations.

After candidates have been selected, voting will take place on April 19. Run off votes will be held on April 26 for any positions where no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

The municipal elections are one of three tiers of voting in Cuba's government, along with provincial and national elections. Municipal level voting takes place once every two and a half years.

Since the mid 1970s, all municipal elections have had turnouts above 90 percent of eligible voters, though voting isn't compulsory in Cuba. According to government figures, the last municipal level elections in 2012 saw turnout just over 90 percent – similar levels to the national and provincial elections of 2013.

  • Published in Cuba

CheapAir First to Sell Single-Purchase Cuba Flights

Travel booking site is making a play for the Cuba market, USAToday reports.

The company says it has become the first on-line travel agency to allow U.S. travelers to book flights between the U.S. and Cuba in a single on-line transaction. The option began at 8 a.m. ET Thursday morning, when CheapAir enabled booking for flights between U.S. cities and Havana.

New travel rules enacted by U.S. President Barack Obama have broaden the opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba under twelve special categories, excluding tourism.

"Since the rule change, we have seen a surge in search volumes for travel to Cuba," CEO Jeff Klee says in a statement. "Arranging flights to Cuba is a little complicated, but it's the kind of thing we're good at and our technology platform is flexible enough to make it possible. Our team did a great job building it out in just a few weeks' time."

CheapAir's move follows the move of popular search site, which earlier this month began showing -- but not selling -- flight and hotel options for Cuba.

But, as CheapAir's Klee suggests, there are notable catches for those interested in booking travel to Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Book by Gerardo Hernandez, one of The Five, Presented in Havana

The book entitled Dibujos de Gerardo Hernandez: Humor desde mi pluma ("Drawings by Gerardo Hernandez: Humor from my Pen,") which includes drawings and documents related to the case of the five Cuban antiterrorist heroes unfairly condemned in the United States in 2001, was presented on Monday in this capital.

It's a compilation of caricatures I made while I was in prison, on Fidel (Castro) and various topics, as forms of expression, said Gerardo at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) during the ceremony where the book was presented by Manuel Lopez, coordinator of the Committee for the Freedom of The Five in Ukraine, the organization that prepared and paid for printing.

Also included in the book, in addition to the 36 caricatures, was an explanation on the case of the antiterrorists, the Affidavit presented at the court by Gerardo's lawyer, Martin Garbus, and pictures of friends of international solidarity who visited him imprison, he explained.

According to Lopez, working in the text published in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on October 22, were Ukrainians, Argentineans, Venezuelans and friends of other nationalities.

The epilogue was written by Gilbert Browstone, a friend of Cuba and president of the Browstone Foundation. The book was edited in the United States and it is being distributed by the Amazon network, Lopez informed.

On December 17, after 16 years of unfair imprisonment in U.S. jails, Ramon, Antonio y Gerardo returned to their homeland and joined their families; Rene and Fernando, the other two members of the group, were released after serving their sentences.

  • Published in Cuba
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