Such cruelty is unacceptable

Nadine Gordimer, Nobel laureate, fighting for the five 
Such cruelty is unacceptable 
Amelia Duarte de la Rosa 

SOUTH African Nadine Gordimer, 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, read out letter to President Obama calling for the release of the five Cuban heroes. Gordimer is in our country as an invited guest to the 19th Havana Book Fair.  

Your browser may not support display of this image. In the statement, Gordimer, who had a prior interview with family members of the Five, condemned the torture and psychological mistreatment to which the mothers and wives have been subjected for more than 11 years since September 12, 1998, when Gerardo, René, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando were unjustly imprisoned. “Such cruelty is unacceptable,” the writer stated, affirming that she had witnessed first-hand the drama that these families, full of dignity and fortitude, are going through.  

“I ask the Obama administration for their immediate release and also call on all citizens of the world. Its now time to end the torment that these five Cubans are experiencing,” she emphasized after detailing in the missive the arbitrariness of the sentences, and the infamies committed during their trials and appeal processes.  

Rask Morakabe, a political prisoner in apartheid South Africa, also added his voice to the declaration. He confided to having a special sensitivity for the case of the Five and stated that “in South Africa, we place a great importance on it because we suffered on account of Mandela’s imprisonment for so many decades and, in the same way that we engaged in a campaign for his release, we believe that we are going to achieve the release of the Five.” 

Serbian filmmaker and musician Emir Kusturica has also joined the call for justice for the five Cuban heroes, declaring his support for a solution of the case in Neuquén, Argentina and demanding that the U.S. president annul their sentences.

Translated by Granma International

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One month after the earthquake

Water, but not blessed 
• The arrival of the rainy season has further complicated the chaotic situation in Port-au-Prince • Help would seem to be planned, but the Haitian people don’t know about it 
 
Leticia Martínez Hernández

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, February 18, 2010 — Sous Shilove doesn’t know that the French president was in the city, much less that he promised $326 million in aid, along with 1,000 tents and 16,000 canvas tarpaulins for the start of the rainy season. The young Haitian, who is the oldest son and therefore responsible for his large family, only knows that the rains have begun, and they will make things worse in the chaotic Champ de Mars, the plaza where he and thousands of others have been living in miserable conditions for more than a month.

Your browser may not support display of this image.  
Cuban doctors treat sick 
 people in the plazas. 
 Respiratory infections abound. 
 
Your browser may not support display of this image.  
Children are the most vulnerable. 
 

Since January 13th, Sous Shilove and his family have been sleeping underneath a few boards and old tarps in a space no larger than two square meters. Their bodies “rest” on the ground every night, but early yesterday morning, they couldn’t even do that. An intermittent rainstorm that began at 2 a.m. and lasted almost three hours kept them awake and frightened. In the morning, their few belongings were drying in the sun.

The young man explains that it has become very difficult to find materials among the rubble to make a strong roof, because many of the buildings that collapsed in the quake are now under state control. Moreover, his home was plundered after the tragedy, and the family was unable to save anything. Sous told this reporter he did not know what the government’s plans were for helping people to confront the coming rains; he doesn’t have access to radio or TV. “People talk a lot, but we can’t confirm anything,” he commented.

Maurais Philippe is extremely busy hammering a piece of zinc that will soon be the “roof” of his “home.” He is surrounded by old mattresses, pillows and several changes of clothing hanging wet on nearby trees. “Last night was terrible for us. We couldn’t sleep; we stayed awake to make sure the water didn’t come in.” Has the family received any help? “Once they brought us a little bit of rice, but that’s not the main thing right now; we are living here with children, and we have no way to protect them from the rain. I found that roof in the trash.”

At least Philippe’s family has him to confront these infernal days to come. But Siné Vinette is not so fortunate. The mother of two children, she stood in front of the four wet sheets that are now her home, waiting for who-knows-what. “I have nowhere else to go,” said the woman, exhausted by the same misfortune that is darkening the days of 700,000-plus Haitians who were left homeless by the quake.

And while work seemed to be speeding up yesterday in the plazas surrounding the National Palace, with the installation of bathrooms and the clean-up of sewers, uncertainty continued to prevail among the people.

The tragedy doesn’t end here. In addition to the devastating quake that killed more than 200,000 people and injured 300,000 within one minute, now there are the torrential rains, which even in normal times bring misfortune. The reasons: deforestation, poor urban planning, an excess of garbage left almost anyplace and especially in the drains of Port-au-Prince…in short, extreme and painful poverty.

It has been raining for two days in this capital, where thousands of people are crowded into spaces exposed to the elements, and diseases are beginning to spread which could turn into epidemics. According to Luisa Verónica, a Dominican doctor who graduated from Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), and who is on one of the two medical teams working in Dessalines Park, people are seeking treatment for respiratory infections, many of them asthmatics whose condition has been aggravated by the humidity of their shelters. Diarrhea and urinary infections also abound, she said.

Dr. Yelayne Morell, who is heading the epidemiological team that began treating people yesterday in that plaza — one of the most crowded places following the Jan. 12 quake — said that the rains bring an increase in vectors, especially mosquitoes, as well as the possibilities of contracting dengue fever and malaria. Health conditions will become worse, she said.

As the threat of rain continues threatening to fall, and almost always does fall, the debate continues on how and where to build camps to shelter thousands of people; whether it would be more effective (or cheaper) to have tents or metallic roofs; whom to ask for more aid; how to convince people that this is not a temporary issue. And for now, Sous Shilove still does not know what will become of him and his family, when the water, not at all blessed, continues to come through the gaps in his “home.”

Translated by Granma International  
 

Senator Bob Menéndez, caught red-handed

Jean-Guy Allard 

DEMOCRATIC Senator Robert “Bob” Menendez, one of the most steadfast representatives of the Cuban-American mafia in Congress, was caught red-handed: it has just been revealed that he intervened with the Federal Reserve for a failing bank whose top executives are major contributors to his campaign fund.

Your browser may not support display of this image. It had to happen, sooner or later. Menendez has a long history of controversial relationships. When he was mayor of Union City, New Jersey, from 1986 until his election to the Senate, that mafia city was confirmed more than ever to be a paradise of illegal gambling, extortion, fraud, and prostitution.

This time, Menendez illegally tried to save his banking buddies from inevitable bankruptcy by asking federal regulators to approve the sale of First BankAmericano of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The bank was three days away from failing, and if its acquisition had been approved, his friends would have saved their investments.

In a letter obtained and published last week by the Wall Street Journal newspaper, Menendez wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke in July 2009, pressuring him to approve the sale of First BankAmericano to JJR Bank Holding Co. of Brick, New Jersey.

Bernanke did not follow the corrupt senator’s recommendation and First BankAmericano was closed down on July 31.

Washington observers qualified Menendez’ opportunistic gesture as “scandalous” and “grotesque” in trying to influence an administrative process for political motivations at a time when the country is in the midst of a deep economic crisis marked by record unemployment.

In its report, the Wall Street Journal identifies Menendez’ two associates as Joseph Ginarte, chairman of First BankAmericano and a lawyer who contributed $30,000 to the senator’s campaign fund, and Raymond Lesniak, a New Jersey state senator whose generosity toward Menendez is well-known. In 2006, Lesniak organized a fundraiser at his home for Menendez featuring former president William Clinton.

Even worse, Menendez is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and is leading the Democratic Party’s Senate reelection campaign, the Wall Street Journal article noted.

As mayor of Union City, Menendez was compared to mafia ringleader Meyer Lansky. There, in his own way, he created an enclave for crime where every official – including in the police – had his price.

In April 2006, Menendez appeared in Geneva to attack Cuba before the Human Rights Commission with his personal assistant, José Manuel Alvarez, whose membership in the terrorist organization Abdala – which he helped found – is notorious, as is his role in organizing the assassination of Cuban diplomat Félix García, shot down in New York by the Omega 7 hired killer, Pedro Remón.

Menendez’s longstanding association with this mafia is linked with that of his colleague, Albio Sires, who was mayor of the neighboring city of West New York, New Jersey. Sires was also notorious for his relations with the Cuban-American underworld that developed an extensive network of illegal gambling and prostitution in that location.

Translated by Granma International  
 

The Only Solution Possible to the Environmental Crisis

The call made by Hervé  Kempf is far from being a lone voice in the dessert. Ears will always have to remain open to what Revolution leader Fidel Castro already said in 1992

PEDRO DE LA HOZ 

The speech delivered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at the Copenhagen Summit in December made many notice the presence, among the special correspondents of media outlets, of a French writer and journalist that over the last few years has been publishing articles and books on the causes of environmental deterioration and the need tofind prompt solutions.

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The Bolivarian Revolution and the Caribbean

I liked history, as most boys do. Wars as well, a culture that society sowed in male children. All the toys offered us were weapons.

In my childhood they sent me to a city where I was never taken to a movie theater. Television did not exist then, and there was no radio in the house in which I lived. I had to use my imagination.

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