Cuba is not alone

Miguel Bonasso

THE reaction had to come and it came. From late 2008, Cuba has been harvesting a series of political and diplomatic successes that are helping to break the isolation imposed on it by Washington since the very beginning of the Revolution. For the ideologists of the blockade, these advances had to be counteracted by a grand-scale media move which, while inscribed within the general parameters of the mediaeval siege imposed on the island 50 years ago, has special characteristics given a situation lamented by the Cuban authorities: the death of the common prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, converted into a “dissident” and a political martyr by the corporate media.

THE reaction had to come and it came. From late 2008, Cuba has been harvesting a series of political and diplomatic successes that are helping to break the isolation imposed on it by Washington since the very beginning of the Revolution. For the ideologists of the blockade, these advances had to be counteracted by a grand-scale media move which, while inscribed within the general parameters of the mediaeval siege imposed on the island 50 years ago, has special characteristics given a situation lamented by the Cuban authorities: the death of the common prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, converted into a “dissident” and a political martyr by the corporate media.

THE FACTS

1. On November 14, 2008, during the 27th Meeting of the Rio Group in Zacatecas, Mexico, Cuba was incorporated into the group as a full member.

2. On June 3, 2009, the 39th OAS General Assembly in Honduras rescinded, by acclamation, the resolution which expelled Cuba from the organization in that famous meeting in Punta del Este and became effective in 1962. The OAS also called for Cuba’s re-entry into its body.

3. From early 2009 to date, 12 Latin American presidents have made state visits to Havana: Martín Torrijos (Panama), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Cristina Fernández (Argentina), Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Alvaro Colom (Guatemala), Raúl Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Evo Morales Ayma (Bolivia), Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil), and José Manuel Zelaya, the subsequently overthrown president of Honduras.

4. On October 28, 2009, the UN General Assembly once again voted, by a record majority, for a resolution against the embargo (blockade) imposed on Cuba by the United States. The result was conclusive: 187 countries in favor of the resolution; three against: the United States, Israel and Palau; two abstentions: the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia; and no absences.

Too many significant achievements to let pass without attempting to counteract them with a dirty media campaign presenting Cuba as a sinister country that tortures and kills its political prisoners, or allows them to die. The occasion presented itself with the death of the prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, sentenced for common crimes. Zapata Tamayo had gone on hunger strike in demand of a personal cooker and telephone in his cell but, despite the medical care he received in Cuba’s finest hospitals, he contracted pneumonia and died.

I have no doubt that the doctors and nurses did everything possible to save his life. I know personally and directly the dedication of Cuban doctors to their humanitarian task and have found them matchless in the world. It is not coincidental that when the death of Zapata Tamayo occurred, lamented by Raúl Castro himself, hundreds of Cuban doctors were saving lives in Haiti. That is something that they have been doing for decades in the most dramatic scenarios of Asia, Africa and Latin America, without expecting any recompense other than the recognition of the condemned of the Earth.

That was what they did in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan, where I was the direct witness of a moving fact: Fidel Castro himself organizing and directing the humanitarian mission, which stayed on in those icy mountains when all the Western aid organizations had left, reaching a unprecedented record for a country without resources: treating 300,000 Pakistanis in barely four months.

None of these honorable precedents were taken into account by the European Parliament when, on March 11, it condemned Cuba for “the inevitable and cruel death of the dissident political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo.” European democracy must be going very badly when Euro deputies violate the principle of non-intervention and self-determination by urging European institutions “to give unconditional support to and unreservedly encourage the beginning of a peaceful process of political transition toward multiparty democracy in Cuba.” A direct call on European embassies in Havana to fund and cover up all kinds of subversive activities against the Cuban government.

Once again the European allies of the United States have done the dirty deed.

Just as they proclaimed the “Common Position” against Havana when Washington passed the Helms-Burton Act, this time they have taken a leading role in the anti-Cuba propaganda, so that “the hand that rocks the cradle” remains in the shadows.

As is known via some old U.S. documents, partially declassified in the 90s, without revealing its face, Washington proposed 50 years ago to covertly fabricate and finance an opposition. Instructions to that effect were issued by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960: “It is essential to keep the hand of the United States concealed.”

The Strasbourg document serves those ends and ratifies the long-existing complicity between Europe and the United States. Those old powers, maintaining colonial enclaves like the Malvinas, do not hesitate to preach morality with their flies open. Not only have they refused to condemn the crimes against humanity perpetrated against Iraq and Afghanistan, which have already resulted in a million deaths, or the confirmed torture and abuse in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and the Guantánamo Base, but they have also lent their own territories – as in the case of Sweden – for secret CIA flights carrying kidnapped people. Neither did the Euro-Chamber condemn the bloody coup d’état in Honduras, which has already cost more than 300 lives, or the inadmissible fact that five Cubans, who were fighting against terrorism, remain incarcerated in the United States while the U.S. government continues giving impunity to the shady Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of the terrorist bombing of a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane.

The European political class and corporate media (with scant exceptions) has maintained and increased its anti-Cuban line to date; it would be a good idea for them to take note of a shared determination on the part of the great majorities of Latin America: that Cuba will not be on its own because, in the main, all of us Latin Americans are Cuba.

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