What has Happened in Latin America? Understanding the Imperial Counteroffensive

With the essay "The imperial geopolitics of the development in Latin America: an overcome model?", Cuban researchers Yazmín Bárbara Vázquez Ortiz and Olga Rosa González Martínez, from the Center of Hemispheric Studies and the United States of Havana University have just won the International Prize of Essay Pensar a Contracorriente, in its XVI edition. With talked to them, to understand the imperial avalanche and reconquest in the region, as well as the chances for the left-wing to face this challenge. And we do this at a key moment: when threats of an armed intervention on behalf of the United States or of a fratricidal war, they are enraged with the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela.

Which are in bold strokes, the mechanisms that characterize the imperial geopolitical positioning in Latin America, from the perspective of the development?

Yazmín: To speak of the Model of Imperial Geopolitical of Development, we must specify, above all that it’s a group of mechanisms that work together, and have not just an economic nature. Although they include the Free Trade Treaties, the Aid Development Programs (with domestic scope like FORTAS and International like those of USAID), those mechanisms applied in the cultural dominance are also essential to understand the reach that have, in the field of dominance and political subversion, the model we are speaking about.

For example, the articulation of messages issued from the media, international consultant, think tanks, and international institutions like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, with more or less technical level have in two impact directions. The first one, to discredit the programs, the politics generated from governments or left-wing forces, those who think of a future of human and social development from the socialization of the wealth and power, with transformations that must be done to this purpose, in every geographic levels and structural dimensions and of needed social actions that are transformed in essential processes. The second, aimed at socializing and building up approval about alternative proposals to these on-line with the interests at heart of transnational capital and the imperial project of the United States government.

What’s striking about these action guidelines, especially the second one is the way to build approval that uses conceptions (what to understand by development), values (how to guide the individual behavior to achieve it), ideals (what project should the family and society bet to progress) which has as essential objective the dispute of senses for the cultural change. A process that has won over the symbols, speech, and practices that from the left-wing have shown capacity to mobilize society for the political change. Olguita may speak further on how a model of political communication for the cultural change have taken shape from the action of the aforementioned mechanisms and others, more aggressive that are in motion today.

That same way of acting, I assume has been toward the entire region, but taking into account particularities and specific objectives in each country. How has it been expressed especially against the progressive and liberating processes of the region, and among them, against the Bolivarian Revolution?

Yazmín: The particularity that has had the application of these mechanisms in countries with progressive and liberating processes has been, on one side, the insert of a series of instruments that hinder the realization of the development programs, as well as of politics set with this end and on the other hand, the combination of all these with those politics aimed at guaranteeing “the necessary political changes to access development.”

In the first case, beyond the media offensive to damage the reputation of the programs, plans and politics for the development, boycott processes,—economic war (like in Venezuela), the blockade (like in Cuba)—, juridical instruments have been set, sanctions with international reach, manipulation of international institutions, as they did to lower oil prices with OPEC. All of which seeks to create certain lacks of materials and other elements from which later the uneasiness is worked, along with the “need” of change and ideas on how to do it. Very similar to Danny Glover’s statements on the U.S. position towards Venezuela today: I create the problem, I attack you and then I will come to save you. Only that this salvation is designed and conditioned on the needs of the great capital to enter our economies and the United States guarantees an area of geopolitical support against China, Russia and the challenges they impose to the perpetuation of the imperial hegemony.

To the mechanisms that are already articulated to those mentioned seeking to guarantee “the necessary political changes to access development”, have been added those that are included in the promotion of security, as condition of development from the Initiatives for security deployed in the continent. From these last mechanisms it has been worked the criminalization of the social protest, to eliminate those they cannot convince, those who fight against transnationals and their expropriation processes. Likewise, the processes of “institutional strengthening” have worked through actions of “independent” attorney’s offices, in processes of judicialization of politics that invalidates left leaders like Lula, with chances of recovering the government, or the case of Cristina, Correa that during their time in office limited the capacity to expropriate the natural resources in the countries they governed and they impacted in their rescue for the social progress, with nationalizations.

Today we have corporations meddling in government functions and in the mechanisms of alleged integration as the Initiative for Prosperity and Security of the Northern Triangle. The corporation of politics is part of what promotes the Model of Imperial Geopolitics of Development, together with civic and community empowering, but only in the economic area, as labor force or entrepreneurs subordinate to the chains of global value.

A proposal where many and dissimilar actors participate: ranging from agencies and foundations of the United States, think tanks, churches, corporations, among other that act at territorial, national and regional level.

This process promotes since 2017, as part of the actions of the South Command in Latin America, Internet, the coordination of the mechanisms aforementioned by North American military forces. It’s part of the scheme applied in Venezuela in an attempt to create approval to legitimate the intervention for the national political change.

After studying this phenomenon, what do you think the left-wing in Latin America can do to face and overcome this challenge?

Olguita: I don’t intend this to be a unique answer neither to offer a recipe, I believe the most important thing is that the left-wing comes together, that works in block that makes a balance of its mistakes and that elaborates projections in different areas. Latin America has proven in the last few years that it’s not just reaching the government via elections. It’s about once the Executive Power is attain a process of revolutionary radicalization must occur in the broadest sense of the word. Like Che Guevara said, “the enemy must not be given an inch”. There are spaces that cannot be given freely, it’s necessary to speak to people, to work with the lowest ranks, in the neighborhoods, to speak face to face. The media is important, social media are useful, but the space within the community cannot be lost, there is where the right-wing and the United States have been working hard. Everyone who is strategically thinking of its future should go beyond the debate of public policies and include all the actors who influence in the creation of approval and the mobilization.

  • Published in Now

We remain committed to a possible better world and we believe that the basis of that desire is education

Speech by Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the closing of the 2019 International Pedagogy Congress, Havana International Conference Center, February 8, 2019, “Year 61 of the Revolution”

I believe that La Colmenita has moved us all, it excited Sosita, we are all thrilled, and it is good that educators do not lose that ability to be moved, because when we get excited, we are able to inspire our students (Applause).

Dear educators, representatives of international organizations;

Ministers participating in the 2019 Pedagogy event;

Colleagues from around the world (Applause and exclamations of: “Thank you!”):

First of all, our congratulations to the best teacher-researchers of our country. (Applause)

When I was invited to close this event, I asked myself what to say to you, how to honor the work of the founders of this gathering, one of the broadest, most diverse and most popular educational events in the world.

How to summarize precisely, when today we need so even more, the dialogue that for so many years the participants in this Pedagogy Congress held with our Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, educator of the masses, and with comrade José Ramón Fernández, educator of educators. (Applause)

But it has been enough for me to be twice among you over these days to sense their presence. Not only because you mention them or quote their words, but because in the program and in what I have been able to learn of the different symposia, workshops and meetings, the great motivation remains alive and active: the unity of educators. Not only Latin Americans or Ibero-Americans. Educators, such a beautiful word, which means so much.

A quick review of the history of these events reminds us that when they began, the decision to unite for a better world took precedence over all others, an idea that has prevailed over time. Then, you fought against the criminal foreign debt that asphyxiated our peoples, cutting educational budgets in most of the sister nations of the continent. And educators of the region came en masse, not only to gather experiences, but also to bring and share solidarity, which is the most beautiful and useful expression of unity.

It is very difficult to forget the magnitude of the first, and the following encounters, which became extraordinary events for the capital, for its schools visited by delegates, and for all Cuba, a country that cannot be ignored when it comes to education, literacy, teacher training, solidary cooperation, progress and shared practices.

With the accumulated experience of 15 previous encounters, you have now focused on the universal agenda directed toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal which is aimed to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

I would say that here are the best conditions to interpret, thoroughly analyze and make practicable that ideal.

The 60-year history of the Cuban Revolution vouches for that truth, almost like a mathematical axiom. The first step was the Literacy Campaign. Just two years after the revolutionary triumph, Cuba was declared a Territory Free of Illiteracy.

Then came the battle for the sixth and ninth grades, which drove enrollment in worker-campesino schools, to complete the upper middle educational level among workers.

Today we have one of the highest averages of university graduates – 21% of the total population of the country – of Latin America and the Caribbean, and much of the world.

This strength led us to promote and extend our cooperation with the entire Third World, creating literacy programs in our language and in indigenous languages.

And, logically, an event such as this needed to be born and grow, capable of showing and sharing the best experiences – with respect for the diversity and identity of each nation – that among Cuban educators has generated an extraordinary movement from schools, fostering creativity, innovation, experimentation, research and exchanges among them and their colleagues in the world.

As had been said more than once, the Pedagogy Congress is the most important scientific event of the Cuban teaching profession.

And it is also an inexhaustible source of solidarity among our peoples, with expressions of great political and social commitment in each concrete historic moment. The final declarations of each edition attest to what I say.

On Fidel’s passing, a young Cuban singer-songwriter, Raúl Torres, created a song that is like an anthem for Cubans. Although its title is “Cabalgando con Fidel” (Riding with Fidel), many call it “Los agradecidos” (The Grateful), because thus the poet defines those of us who haven’t stopped thinking of him and defending his ideas.

Among the grateful of all professions, are Cuban educators. (Applause). They, you, like Fidel, know that we have much to achieve, and that all that we do for the dissemination of the knowledge that humanity has accumulated over centuries will never be enough. A lifetime is not sufficient to learn everything. Nor to teach everything.

Photo: Endrys Correa Vaillant

The merit is in the struggle, to always advance further, not being stopped by the obstacles. The case of this Pedagogy Congress can be cited as an example. Not even in the toughest years of the economic crisis of the 1990s, did these gatherings for the unity of educators cease to be held.

The Pedagogy Congress is the voice of the grateful in Education, of those who work for more and better access to knowledge, aware of what we are lacking, but also conscious of just how much we must defend, save and perfect.

Cuba, in recent months, has become a gigantic Constituent Assembly, on taking our new Constitution to a popular debate, prior to a Referendum, for which on February 24 we will vote Yes en masse, without a doubt.

Teachers and students of all levels are among the segments of the population that discussed with greater depth and enthusiasm the changes and new formulations for our Magna Carta.

I believe that this is due to the fact that, despite the criminal blockade that is being tightened, the financial limitations that hit us and delay the fulfillment of many of our dreams, the Cuban state has ratified, once again, its responsibility in terms of the absolutely free nature of education, from preschool to the conclusion of an undergraduate degree. And even more: to guarantee schools and full employment for graduate teachers at any level. This is something that surprises and is admired by many of our visitors. And it is simply a right, together with that of health, to which the Revolution devotes the largest budgets, as these are universal human rights and fundamental to our Martí inspired ideal of “conquering all justice.” (Applause)

Without any chauvinism, I feel that Cuba has long guaranteed that “inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” something that unfortunately remains an aspiration for many countries.

And the new Constitution reinforces all these concepts, is at the forefront of the most progressive trends in the world, and aspires to more, particularly in terms of quality, as the more educated and better informed people are, not only are they freer, as Martí stated, but they demand more.

Education and culture have the power to expand the horizons of knowledge infinitely. The desire to learn grows in as far as knowledge does.

In the coming months, two new special schools for children with physical and motor disabilities should be inaugurated, stemming from an idea of our First Party Secretary, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, who was strongly impressed after his recent visit to an emblematic school of Cuban education.

The “Solidarity with Panama” school, inaugurated by Fidel 30 yeas ago, with all its facilities and services available to children with serious physical and motor disabilities who, nonetheless, achieve impressive development of skills and knowledge, thanks to Special Education, will very soon have the company of similar institutions, strengthened in specialties such as Vocational, Artistic and Scientific Education.

We are also immersed in the repair of those schools damaged by the devastating tornado that hit five municipalities of Havana on the eve of Martí’s birthday. And we have proposed to rebuild them even more beautiful and with better facilities for the education of their students. (Applause)

At the same time, the more than 300 teachers from those areas, who were affected to some degree, and yet did not abandon their teaching responsibilities, must be recognized, encouraged, and supported. (Applause)

The extraordinary solidary spirit of our people, the very values that Cuban education shapes, with all its imperfections, which we recognize and constantly criticize, has allowed us to break records in recovery times of basic services.

I believe we owe much to the emphasis that our education places on history, and on its most prestigious protagonists. We are in a period of patriotic commemorations for the 150 years of the beginning of the independence wars, and the 60th anniversary of the revolutionary triumph of 1959.

Our young people know, even though they didn’t live it, that Cuba suffered 60 years of dependence on and neocolonial subjugation to the United States. The Revolution, in that same period, 60 years, has erased its consequences of profound inequality, racism, elitist education and exclusion. But schools have a duty to maintain that awareness in each generation that is educated in our classrooms.

We defend and exalt historical memory, culture and identity as a shield of sovereignty, “so that our children will not have to beg on bended knee, for the homeland which their forefathers won for us on their feet,” as Rubén Martínez Villena said, a young Cuban poet and revolutionary of the 1930s.

The current technologies have imposed new communication codes, and we are committed to their knowledge and healthy, critical, creative use.

Fidel was the first to realize the value of the Internet to truly democratize communications. He said that it appeared as if created for revolutionaries, due to the ability to spread messages at a negligible cost and with an infinite reach.

But he also warned us of the risks of plunging into the oceans of information of the Network of Networks, without the necessary knowledge and critical awareness to use it without being used.

The greatest and most serious problems of the world today are settled in this immense network, that connects us subtly or openly, and it is necessary to confront such scenarios with sufficient knowledge to avoid being objects at the service of the worst interests, or uncritical subjects of an environment that compromises even the survival of the species.

Back to schools. Without them, the most wonderful instrument of human intelligence would be just a useless toy, or a mirror to satisfy vanity. With them, with the tools that they contribute and the critical awareness that they shape, a better world will be possible in a shorter time.

In her opening remarks, Minister Ena Elsa Velásquez spoke to you of the four pillars on which government management is built. The fundamental aspect is the connection with the people, and addressing their problems and demands, appealing to the participation of all, and the search for more than one alternative solution, in a permanent exercise of communication.

For this management to be effective, it is necessary to apply knowledge in depth, in the use of new technologies, and we are committed to this with the talent and contributions of our technical schools and our universities. But, at the same time, we defend an education that informs students of the political complexities of today’s world, of the causes and origins of conflicts, the interventionist and overwhelming vocation of empires, and the right of the peoples to defend their dignity and sovereignty, as well as to value integration among nations of a similar composition, development, and interests, as a destiny essential to survival.

That knowledge is what makes us despise wars, defend just causes, practice solidarity with those who suffer, resist and overcome all forms of punishment that they attempt to impose on us for trying to forge our own path.

Under that conviction, we consider any scenario as useful to demand respect for International Law, non-interference or intervention in Venezuela (Applause), an end to the blockade and the threats against Cuba and sister nations like Venezuela and Nicaragua. (Applause)

In a text that every educator of our lands should know —“Maestros ambulantes” (Itinerant Teachers) — José Martí said: “Men need someone to stir their compassion often, and cause their tears to flow, and to give their souls the supreme benefit of feeling generous; through a marvelous law of natural compensation, he who gives of himself grows, and he who turns inward and lives from small pleasures, is afraid to share them with others, and only thinks avariciously of cultivating his appetites, loses his humanity and becomes loneliness itself. He carries in his breast all the dreariness of winter. He becomes in fact and appearance an insect.

“(...) Men grow, they grow physically and visibly, when they learn something, when they begin to possess something, and when they have done some good.

“Only fools or egoists talk of misfortune. Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity.”

He wrote this in May 1884, but they are words that have the value of eternity, like almost everything we know about Martí.

Compañeras and compañeros:

I allow myself to approach these words to thank you for your presence here, your contributions to Cuban, Latin American and universal education. To express our permanent willingness to cooperate and exchange experiences and knowledge. To confirm that in Pedagogy, as in the Cuban Revolution, there is no rupture, there is continuity. (Applause)

We remain committed to a possible better world and we believe that the basis of that desire is education.

Thank you very much for making it possible every day.

See you at the next Pedagogy event! (Ovation)

Cuba: Government announces new measures for self-employment

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 21 (ACN) Authorities from the Ministries of Labor and Social Security and Economy and Planning announced nine modifications for self-employment, which give continuity to the improvement of a sector that already groups more than 580 thousand Cubans.

The new measures, on which the legal norms will be issued soon, contemplate the approval of the activities of Operator and/or leaser of equipment for artistic production, Agent of selection of cast, Assistant of artistic production, Translator and certified interpreter, and Producer-seller of food products.

Marta Elena Feitó Cabrera, First Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Security, explained in a press conference that the case of the latter includes the production and sale of sausages, smoked meats, canned and the like.

In addition, will be included in the activity of Service decoration, organizing birthdays, weddings and other festive activities, the application for the health license if you prepare food associated with the service.

She specified that the municipal boards of directors will authorize the exercise of the activities of Gastronomic Service in Restaurants; Bar Services and Recreation and Leasing of Houses, Rooms and Spaces when more than four rooms or complete houses are rented; they will regulate the prices and fixed or maximum rates, in the cases that the circumstances advise it and taking into account the conditions and characteristics of each territory, and they will approve the schedules of operation of the facilities where the work is carried out by own account.

According to the Deputy Minister, holidays will be recognized as one of the reasons why the holder may appoint a subordinate to run his business on a temporary basis, and it will be established that it is not compulsory for the spouse and relatives of the holder to be registered in the activity of Contracted Worker within the first and second degree of consanguinity - children, father and mother, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents - and first degree of affinity - son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law and mother-in-law.

This last point excludes carriers of cargo and passengers, because if the relative is going to drive the vehicle it does require an Operational Transport License, said Feitó Cabrera.

The new measures also recognize that legal entities, both Cuban and foreign, can contract products and services to non-state forms of management, whose payments can be made in both currencies, according to the regulations established in this regard.

In addition, they approve that production surpluses and overfulfilments of the state mandate or the non-execution of the entities that have a plan, can be sold to non-state forms of management, in both currencies, through a bank account.

More than 580,000 people are currently self-employed in Cuba, of whom 29 percent are young people, 34 percent are women, 15 percent work for the State and 10 percent are retired.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba reiterates its invariable solidarity with Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution

Press conference by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the national and international media, held at Minrex headquarters, February 19, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript – GI translation)

Bruno Rodríguez: Good afternoon. Thank you for being here.

We are just a few days from the Constitutional referendum in our country which is holding all of our attention. The mobilization of our people has been intense, and I thank you for the coverage provided by the media you represent.

The government of the Republic of Cuba has consistently denounced that the United States of America is preparing a military aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, using humanitarian pretexts.

In speeches by the First Secretary of our Party’s Central Committee, on July 26, 2018, and January 1, 2019, and in those of the President of our Councils of State and Ministers, compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in July last year, and more recently, alerts have been sounded about the very serious consequences -economic, political, social, humanitarian, and to the peace and security of the region - that a new military adventure by the United States in Our America would have.

The Revolutionary Government statement dated February 13, with full responsibility and all necessary facts, affirmed, and I reiterate, that U.S. military transport flights are taking place, originating at U.S. military installations from which operate special forces units and marine infantry used for undercover actions, including those directed against leaders or persons considered valuable.

Entirely without the knowledge of governments in the areas involved, and with total disregard for the sovereignty of these states, the preparation of a military action continues, using a humanitarian pretext.

Yesterday afternoon, President Donald Trump and other high-ranking functionaries and spokespeople for the U.S. government repeated and confirmed that the military option is among those being considered. Yesterday, the President said: All options are open.

According to the media in the U.S. itself, high-ranking U.S. military commands, which do not, have never, taken charge of humanitarian aid, have held meetings with politicians in the U.S. and other nations, and have made visits to sites clearly related to the issue we are addressing.

We are all witnessing the fabrication of humanitarian pretexts. A deadline has been set to force the entry of “humanitarian aid” with the use of force, which in and of itself constitutes a contradiction. It is not possible that real humanitarian help be based on violence, on the use of weapons or the violation of international law. This very focus is a violation of international law that reveals the politicization of humanitarian aid, as has occurred at other moments, with the use of noble causes, of universal recognition, as pretexts for the launching of military aggression.

We must ask ourselves - given the setting of a deadline, given the statement made that the humanitarian aid will enter Venezuelan territory by any means, against the sovereign will of its people and the decision of its Constitutional government - what objectives are being pursued? What could they be, if not generating an incident that would endanger the lives of civilians, provoke violence or unpredictable situations?

There has been talk, these last few days, about the humanitarian aid lasting months or even years - as long as the “reconstruction” lasts, has been mentioned.

We could ask this Senator from Florida what reconstruction he is talking about. We are talking about a nation that is not at war, nor has suffered a war, but knows that war is good business for U.S. companies in the military-industrial complex, and for others later, during the so-called reconstruction.

The United States government continues to pressure member states of the United Nations Security Council to force the adoption of a resolution that would serve as the prelude to a “humanitarian intervention.” Contained in the text is a diagnosis of the situation portraying the peace and security of this sister nation as broken, and calls on all types of international actors to adopt necessary measures.

Given the precedents, including recent ones, this language is well known to be followed by other calls for exclusive aerial zones, the protection of civilians, the establishment of humanitarian corridors, in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter that authorizes the use of force.

We are hopeful that the United Nations Security Council ensures that its vocation and responsibility as a guarantor of peace prevails, and does not lend itself to military adventures. We call on its members to act in accordance with international law and defend the peace, so precious to humanity, to Our America, and to the Venezuelan people, as well.

The government of the United States has invented, has fabricated in Washington, an imperialist coup, with a “President” constructed in this northern capital, which has not worked even internally. Numerous U.S. sources could be cited, accredited press media that have published all the details about how the coup was organized. At this time, the pressure that the United States government is putting on other countries is still brutal, trying to force recognition of the supposed “President,” self-named and proclaimed by Washington, and the call for new elections in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, annulling those that its people, legitimately and constitutionally, just held.

The maneuvers of the White House National Security team, along with those of some State Department functionaries and U.S. embassies, are well known. Also underway is a huge publicity and political operation, generally seen as a prelude to broader action by this administration.

Coercive, unilateral - and therefore illegal - economic measures against the sister Republic of Venezuela are increasing: the seizure or freezing of financial assets in third countries; the tremendous pressure on governments that supply Venezuela and the Venezuelan oil industry; pressure on banks in third countries to block legitimate financial transactions, even in other currencies; the confiscation, practically theft, of the PDVSA subsidiary in the United States and other interests established in the country.

These measures constitute a gross violation of international law and international humanitarian law, creating hardship and human harm, which are totally incompatible with hypocritical calls for humanitarian aid by those responsible for the implementation of these cruel measures. The figures are obscene. There is talk about humanitarian aid worth some 20 million dollars to a country that is being deprived of more than 30 billion dollars, as a result of these arbitrary, illegal, and unjust measures.

The government of the Republic of Cuba calls on the international community to take action in defense of peace, to prevent a military intervention in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with the joint efforts of all, without exception.

At this critical moment, when at stake are respect for and the relevance of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter; when it is decided if the legitimacy of a government rests in the support and the votes of its people; when it is decided if foreign pressure can substitute the sovereign exercise of self-determination; in these circumstances, one can only be in favor or against peace. One can only be in favor or against war.

We encourage the Montevideo Mechanism, especially the governments of the United States of Mexico, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, the governments of the Caribbean Community and the Plurinational State of Bolivia, to continue making their greatest efforts, in this urgent situation, to facilitate a resolution based on dialogue and absolute respect for the independence and sovereignty of Venezuela, and the validity of the principles of international law, especially non-intervention.

We call for an international mobilization for peace, against a U.S. military intervention in Latin America, against war; above and beyond political differences, ideological differences, in favor of the greater good of humanity which is peace, which is the right to live.

We call on all governments; parliaments; political forces; social, popular, indigenous movements; professional and social organizations; trade unions; farmers; women; students; intellectuals and artists; academics; and especially communicators and journalists - on you (gesturing toward the press) - on non-governmental organizations, on representatives of civil society.

At the same time, the government of the Republic of Cuba reiterates our firm, invariable solidarity with Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian Chavista Revolution, with the civic-military union, and the people, and insists that in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, today, the postulates of the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace must be defended. There, today, the sovereignty of all, the independence of all, and the sovereign equality of states must be defended.

We witnessed in wonder, this afternoon, the speech by President Donald Trump. Suddenly, he decreed the “end of socialism,” and announced “a new day” for humanity. He solemnly proclaimed that, for the first time in history, there would be a hemisphere free of socialism.

He curiously also spoke of progress in negotiations with a large socialist country and had chosen another to host an important summit. How many times have figures in the United States announced the end of socialism or the end of history?

President Trump praised the “great leaders” from Florida present at the event: a governor, a couple senators, a representative, an ambassador, all fundamentalist Republicans, and five minutes later, apparently, they told him or he noticed that he had been deeply unjust by omitting the name of John Bolton, also present.

Bolton has been a war planner for decades, the principle organizer of the coup in Venezuela and a consistent advocate of the military option.

The President of the United States referred to human dignity. Apparently he forgets that it is under capitalism - in particular, imperialism - that injustice, exploitation, and manipulation of persons prevails.

He criticized corruption, perhaps without recognizing that the U.S. political system is corrupt by nature, that this is where special interests and corporate contributions reign, where money talks and now big data, where elections are won by manipulating the people.

He spoke of democracy, without mentioning the millions of U.S. citizens, mostly Black and Latino, who are not allowed to vote, or the 40 million living in poverty, half of them children.

He forgot to mention the more than 500,000 homeless, without a roof over their heads. Perhaps he is unaware that a pattern of racial discrimination prevails there, from disproportionate death penalty sentences and court sanctions, including police brutality that has perennially cost the lives of African-Americans.

He did not mention the low level of unionization of U.S. workers, or women without the right to equal pay for equal work.

He mentioned Venezuelan migrants, but not the wall on the Río Bravo. He didn’t mention the under-aged Central Americans, cruelly separated from their parents, or the deaths in detention centers. He did not refer to repression of migrants, or minorities, or those murdered at the hands of the Border Patrol.

From February 14 to 20, the Cuban people expressed their support for the Venezuelan people and their defense of peace. Photo: Ismael Batista

President Trump promised the coup plotters success, because the United States is behind them, backing them. It appears that he is unaware that the coup has not worked, and this is why threats against Venezuela from abroad are escalating.

He presented himself as a head of state who loves peace. Successive U.S. administrations have provoked dozens of wars. This is the country that has tortured and tortures. This is the country that calls the deaths of innocent civilians in war adventures “collateral damage.” This country has sent tens of thousands of U.S. youth as cannon fodder to die in wars of imperialist plunder. This is the country that launched a war that cost the lives of more than a million on the basis of a lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Some of the current protagonists were responsible for that war and are now lying about Venezuela.

The (U.S.) President said that socialism does not respect borders. But it was that imperialism that militarily occupied Cuba more than once, that prevented our independence until the entry into Havana of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. It was that country that stripped Mexico of more than half of its territory, that imposed cruel military dictatorships in Latin America, and that today maintains aggressive military bases practically all over the planet.

President Trump said that socialism promises unity, but provokes hate and division. What extraordinary cynicism, extraordinary hypocrisy! He is the representative of an amoral government, of a sector rejected even by traditional U.S. parties, that plays dirty politics, that incites the polarization of society with the language of hate and division, and that even prominent conservative exponents have condemned, as they lack the minimum standards of political decency.

The President also said that nothing is less democratic than socialism.

Mr. President Trump, try a constitutional reform, call a referendum on your policies, respect the will of your electorate. Remember that you are President despite having lost the popular vote by more than three million ballots.

The accusation by the President of the United States that Cuba maintains a private army in Venezuela is vile. I demand that he present proof.

Our government categorically rejects this slander, while reaffirming the duty and commitment to continue providing our modest cooperation, in which slightly more than 20,000 Cuban collaborators participate, all civilian, 94% of them Health workers, others in Education, as they do in 83 countries around the world.

We Cubans will continue on our own path, and are preparing for a successful referendum just days from now. We will continue calmly and devotedly working, imbued with the certainty that we possess the necessary tools to build our future.

Cuban collaborators in Venezuela, last Saturday and Sunday, exercised their right to vote in the referendum. They did so massively.

They tell their relatives, who logically worry about the news they receive, that despite the circumstances, they live normally in Venezuela; that it isn’t true that there are hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans dying of hunger, as certain deceitful spokespersons claim, and they reaffirm that they will continue to carry out their profoundly humanitarian work.

I firmly reject President Trump’s attempt to intimidate those who, in a completely sovereign manner, in the exercise of self-determination, have decided to build and defend socialism, and the intimidation of numerous parties, organizations, and people who, as lovers of justice, equity, social and environmentally sustainable development, opponents of exploitation, neo-colonialism, neoliberalism and exclusion, have embraced socialist and revolutionary ideas with profound conviction, convinced that a better world is not only possible, not only essential, but inevitable.

As numerous U.S. analysts and politicians have recognized, yesterday’s speech in Florida was very electoral. He wants to intimidate not only socialist and communist forces, but also Democratic leaders, voters, especially young voters who are frustrated with the system.

He proclaimed yesterday that there would never be socialism in “America.”

He doesn’t only seek to intimate the people, but also the Democrats. His position that whoever votes for the Democrats, in the electoral campaign that appears to have already begun, will be voting for the construction of socialism in this nation of the North, is well-known.

Trump’s main “theoretical contribution” in his speech yesterday, was the incorporation of McCarthyism to the Monroe Doctrine, in advocating a single imperialist power, to which he added an extreme, visceral, old-fashioned, essentially outdated anticommunism, rooted in the Cold War. He will not earn any royalties. President Reagan, and beforehand Prime Minister Churchill, beat him to addressing the issue.

Churchill said 71 years ago: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy…” Reagan stated 36 years ago: “I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written… I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual.”

It was a clumsy, crude declaration of imperialist domination over José Martí’s Our America. “We have seen Cuba’s future here in Miami,” the U.S. President said yesterday. He is wrong; the future of Cuba is here. With or without additional blockade measures, the future is decided by Cuban women and men. We have done so, we have built and we will defend a socialist Revolution right under their noses.

We must recall the defeat of the Batista dictatorship, established and sustained by imperialist governments. We are proud of our victory at Playa Girón, or the Bay of Pigs. Of our bravery faced with the risk of holocaust in the October Crisis (Cuban Missile Crisis). Of our firm and virile response to state terrorism, faced with the mid-flight bombing of a Cuban civil aircraft; events that have caused 3,478 deaths and left 2,099 Cuban women and men disabled.

We reiterate to President Trump that our loyalty to Fidel and Raúl will be invariable, and that the process of continuity led by President Díaz-Canel is permanent and irreversible. We will be united together with our Communist Party of Cuba. Together we have written this new Constitution and we will vote for it on February 24, for the homeland and socialism. It will also be a response to President Trump’s speech.

Many thanks.

Moderator.- We will now go to a brief Q&A session. I ask colleagues from the press to identify themselves, the media they represent, and to make use of the microphones available in the room.

Katell Abiden (AFP).- Good afternoon, Mr. Minister. I want to ask two questions. If a military intervention occurs in Venezuela, what will your reaction be?

On the other hand, I would like to have your opinion on the possible implementation of the Helms-Burton Act’s Title III by the United States.

Bruno Rodríguez. – Yes. Your first question is hypothetical. Our call is to stop a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, the time has come to unite and act together, in time to stop it.

On the second, I can reiterate: As we have explained before, and other leaders of our nation and Foreign Ministry spokespersons have said, our country is prepared to face any measure to tighten the blockade, including the implementation of new elements of the Helms-Burton Act. We have a program, with a predictable economic plan through 2030. The Cuban economy has strong international underpinnings. Our economic relations are diverse. We also count on the prevalence of the rule of international law, the rules of free trade, and freedom of navigation, and we are sure that the fiercely extraterritorial application of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba not only sparks huge international rejection, but that it will face strong resistance from our economic, investment, financial, tourism emissary counterparts, faced with the attempt to impose additional sanctions against the sovereignty of their states, against their national interests, and those of their businesspeople and citizens.

Axel Vera (ABC-Miami). – What evidence does the Cuban government currently possess that the United States is on the path to a military intervention? Could you explain more about that, please?

Bruno Rodríguez.- Yes. Thanks very much.

I can reiterate that I have all the data that allows me to state that flights from U.S. bases are taking place, where special operations and marine infantry units operate, used for missions of this nature, in preparation for actions against Venezuela.

If you would care to visit some airports, you may be able to personally note what I say. I categorically state that these are not humanitarian aid flights.

Governments are usually able to obtain this information but, even without the data that you are asking about, it is clear that an international situation has been created in which the U.S. government is moving toward the military threat.

I don’t know how you could explain the summoning of tens of thousands of people on the Venezuelan border, to forcibly bring in humanitarian aid. I don’t know what your media outlet expects to happen under those circumstances. I don’t know how you interpret a senator’s statement that U.S. capital will be necessary to rebuild Venezuela.

Lorena Cantó (EFE news agency).- You have said, returning to Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, that Cuba is prepared to confront an intensification of the sanctions, and I wanted to ask you if you hope that countries, above all Canada and other commercial partners of Cuba, adopt an active position like that which was initially produced when this disposition was approved, and that stopped its application and has resulted in its periodic suspension. I don’t know if you have maintained contact with the governments of these countries, if they have conveyed that they will adopt a position now as active as at that time in 1996.

Bruno Rodríguez.- Many thanks.

We are necessarily discrete given our position, but I can tell you that I know of strong opposition from numerous European Union member states, and other industrialized nations; I have seen some statements. I also know of extensive diplomatic exchanges, and I am convinced that these nations will defend not only the sovereignty of their states, but their national interest and the interest of their companies and citizens, and I am sure that they will consider the attempt to establish discriminatory norms in favor of U.S. companies against those national interests unacceptable, as in fact I know is their position. They are supported by international law, the obligation to apply their own laws in their own territory, the existence of antidote laws that should also be applied according to their own legal system and international circumstances; as I have heard energetic, firm statements from numerous United States counterparts regarding trade and investment, considering U.S. trade policies, in terms of tariffs and other aspects, unacceptable.

Sergio Gómez (Cubadebate).- President Trump spoke yesterday in Miami as if there were global unanimity regarding the recognition of Guaidó. Does this, or does Minrex believe that such unanimity exists?

And in the same direction, has this aggressive agenda of John Bolton and Marco Rubio against Cuba that President Trump has assumed, been effective or not in achieving the isolation of Cuba from the international community? Because the latest we had in this regard was global approval of the reestablishment of relations between the two countries.

Bruno Rodríguez.- The isolation of Cuba, or of the United States?
Sergio Gómez.- No, whether it has been achieved, if that policy has been effective, in your opinion, in isolating Cuba from the international community that applauded the reestablishment of relations.

Bruno Rodríguez.- One reads numerous statements and information in the press. Less than a quarter of United Nations member states interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela to demand elections or, in one way or another, recognize the “president” invented in Washington. So I think the information is irrefutable.

I am also aware of a recent debate in the United Nations Security Council, where the supposed accuser became the accused, faced with the defense of international law and the sovereignty of Venezuela by numerous United Nations member states.

I also know of a meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, that firmly expressed it was against a military adventure, and supports Venezuelan sovereignty.

So I think that we have to separate the propaganda from the reality, to not allow U.S. spokespersons, who sometimes want to confuse reality with their wishes, not ours, succeed.

If there were any doubt regarding the international situation surrounding Cuba, it would be enough to briefly review the minutes, or more entertaining, to see the video of what occurred November 1, in the United Nations General Assembly: 10 votes, practically unanimous, left the United States government isolated, still obsessed with a genocidal blockade.

Those who now speak of humanitarian aid, and generously over 20 million, have caused Cuba damages of approximately one trillion dollars at prices based on the value of gold, or more than 130 billion dollars at current prices. The blockade damages, as has been said, scrupulously calculated, using an internationally auditable methodology, reflect that without it, Cuba would have grown at an annual average of 10% over the last decade.

I think it is totally clear that the United States government, in its attempt to isolate Cuba, has ended up profoundly isolated.

Many thanks.

  • Published in Cuba

Eight Cuban judokas to participate in Dusseldorf Grand Slam

Eight Cuban judokas will participate this weekend in the IJF Dusseldorf Grand Slam 2019, in Germany, after attending last week the Paris Grand Slam on French soil.

In France, they only won a gold medal in the women's +78 kg division through the Olympic and world champion Idalis Ortiz.

In addition to Ortiz, the other womens are Nahomis Acosta (52), Maylin del Toro (63) and Kaliema Antomarchi (78), while the men's squad includes Osniel Solis (66), Ivan Silva (90), Jose Armenteros (100) and Andy Granda (+100).

The Dusseldorf Grand Slam 2019 will be attended by 698 athletes - 414 men and 284 women - from 98 nations.

The main objective of the Cubans is to continue training for the 2019 Pan Am Games, in Lima, Peru, and adding points for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ranking. (ACN)

  • Published in Sports

Armando Manzanero Returns to Cuba Attracted by Salsa and Habanos

Havana, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) The 21th Habano Festival and the fourth Salsa Festival attract the Mexican singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero, who says he admires the island for his music, joy and strength.

This is the second time that I have the pleasure of being here, even though I was raised in a very close place, in Yucatan, he told Prensa Latina the author of iconic themes such as Somos novios and Nada personal. Manzanero attended the opening gala of the Salsa Festival, held in the Metropolitan Park of Havana, venue of the event until February 24.

There he arrived to greet the local singer Hayla María Mompié, who recently published an album with 11 songs by the Mexican to which he incorporated the Cuban-like tone of his salsa.

During the show, Hayla -as he is known in the artistic world- left the planned repertoire to interpret Adoro y Huele a peligro, two other paradigmatic themes of Manzanero.

At the discretion of this teacher, salsa music does not change much between Venezuela, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Everything is tropical and everything has a charm and an enormous talent, affirmed the Mexican artist, very willing to dance, at 83 years of age.

In addition to Hayla, the opening gala was the young orchestra Papucho and Manana Club, as well as the Puerto Rican singer Jerry Rivera, who revived a great part of his successes in this capital.

  • Published in Culture

Cuba Gives Priority Homes Damaged by Tornado

Havana, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) Still less one month after the devastating impact of a tornado in several Havana municipalities, the recovery of the damaged houses shows progress and continues as a priority, authorities quoted by the press stated on Thursday.

Several media publish a summary of the Council of Ministers meeting held on Wednesday to follow up the response to the January 27 tornado, led by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, addressed the issue of housing.

The tornado damaged almost 8,000 houses, about 752 were totally collapsed after its passing through Diez de Octubre, Guanabacoa, Regla, Cerro and Habana del Este, the first three municipalities were severely hit.

According to National Civil Defense Staff head, Major General Ramon Pardo, about 640 people remain sheltered, because they lost all their material belongings.

Construction Minister (MICONS) Rene Mesa said that of 7,923 damaged houses, about 2,500 have been totally restored, while the 22 total collapses have been resolved.

Around 4,000 builders from several agencies are working on recovering houses, he said.

MICONS official Norberto Perez stressed that a strategy has been drawn up to deal with the construction of houses totally collapsed, which includes the definition of reconstructing 459 in the same place where they were before, placing 72 in new locations and 273 in adapted buildings.

About 804 homes will be fit out, 52 more than the total collapses caused by the tornado, as of some families lived in overcrowding, he said.

Diaz-Canel called during the Wednesday meeting to maintain the pace of work until all problems caused by the phenomenon have been resolved.

  • Published in Cuba

International Book Fair in Cuba Breaks Several Records

Havana, Feb 18 (Prensa Latina) The organizers of the 28th International Book Fair (FIL) in Cuba are reporting on Monday the results with several statistics records.

At the closing of the event in Havana, its president, Juan Rodriguez Cabrera, reported that the audience acquired about 409,395 copies this year, 5,000 more than what was achieved in the previous event.

The participating record of countries was also broken by receiving more than 400 representatives from 48 nations and the attendance at the San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress, headquarters of FIL in Havana, exceeded 385,000 visitors, higher to 20,900 to 2018.

According to the official count, about 100,651 people attended the fair on Saturday, February 16.

The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria was the guest of honor during this fair. The country was represented by a delegation made up of more than 30 artists, panelists, editors and writers who exhibited not only literary works; but also music, photography and the cinema of the African nation.

The 28th edition of FIL paid tribute to Cuban writer Eduardo Heras Leon, National Literature Prize laureate (2014) and Edition (2001). It also celebrated the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana.

According to the president of the event, the fair opened the E-Commerce Book in national currency, a service to be available throughout the country.

The fair will now be extended to the rest of the provinces until April 14, in eastern Santiago de Cuba, in an attempt to multiply its benefits.

  • Published in Culture
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