Message from Fidel Castro to Nelson Mandela (2010)

MESSAGE TO NELSON MANDELA

Old and prestigious friend, how pleased I am to see you become recognized by all the political institutions of the world as a symbol of freedom, justice and human dignity.

They made you become a forced laborer in the quarries, as they did to Martí when he was 17 years old.
 

I was only in the political prison less than two years, but it was enough time for me to understand the meaning of 27 years in the loneliness of a prison, separated from your family and friends.

In the final years of your martyrdom, your country, under the tyranny of apartheid, was converted, after the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, into an instrument of war against the Angolan and Cuban internationalist fighters advancing on occupied Namibia. No one could hide from you the news of the solidarity that the people, under your guidance, aroused among all the honest people of the earth.

Then, as now, the enemy was on the verge of a nuclear blow against the troops that, in this case, were advancing against the hateful system of apartheid.

No one was ever able to explain where they came from and when they took away those instruments of death.

You visited our country and supported it, while still not President of South Africa, freely chosen by the people.

Today humanity is threatened by the greatest risk in the entire history of our species.
 
Use all your great moral force to keep South Africa away from U.S. military bases and NATO.

Yesterday’s friends of Apartheid are now cynically competing to feign friendship.
 
For the peoples of Africa to survive the impending nuclear disaster, they will need more than ever, the scientific and technological advances of South Africa.
 
Humanity can still be protected from the crushing blows of the nuclear tragedy that approaches and that of the environment which is already present.

Fraternally,

Fidel Castro Ruz
July 18, 2010
9.03 a.m.

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Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro: A Relationship Built On Mutual Admiration

Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro: A Relationship Built On Mutual Admiration

In 2012, 188 nations already voted to end the Economic blockade against Cuba. Only Israel, Palau & U.S. voted against ending the blockade.

Counterpunch | Weekend Edition June 28-30, 2013

Trying to Destroy The Danger of a Good Example

The Unrelenting Economic War on Cuba

by DANIEL KOVALIK

If it weren’t bad enough that the U.S. has imposed an illegal embargo against Cuba for over 50 years, it has also tried to prevent those interested in learning about this embargo (more accurately termed ablockade because the U.S. aggressively enforces it against third countries to stop them from trading with the island) from reading Salim Lamrani’s new book, The Economic War Against Cuba.  Thus, according to Opera Mundi, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Office Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – the government agency tasked with enforcing the blockade against Cuba – seized the funds aBritish NGO, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, attempted to wire to purchase 100 copies of this book from Monthly Review Press.  (1)  OFAC also demanded that this same NGO describe its relationship with Cuba in detail.   This episode is emblematic of the absurd lengths to which the U.S. government will go to stop the world from dealing with Cuba.

As an initial matter, author Salim Lamrani, a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, explains that the U.S. war against post-revolutionary Cuba began on March 17, 1960 – one month before Cuba established relations with Moscow.   Lamrani relates that this war, declared by President Eisenhower, was “built on several pillars: the cancellation of the Cuban sugar quota, an end to the deliveries of energy resources such as oil, the continuation of the arms embargo imposed in March 1958, the establishment of a campaign of terrorism and sabotage, and the organization of a paramilitary force designed to invade the island overthrow Fidel Castro.”   This war would then be expanded by President Kennedy in 1962 to include the unprecedented economic blockade against Cuba – a blockade which continues to this day, over 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is important, for it demonstrates what Noam Chomsky has argued numerous times before:  that during the Cold War the U.S. intentionally pushed Third World countries guilty of declaring their independence from U.S. hegemony towards the Soviet Union so as to manufacture a convenient pretext for U.S. belligerence.  And, the blockade initially imposed by Kennedy did just that.   As Lamrani explains, “[o]n September 16, 1962, Kennedy developed a blacklist that included all ships having commercial relations with Cuba, regardless of their country of origin, and banned them from docking in a U.S. port.   These measures drastically reduced the links between Cuba and the Western World and increased the island’s dependence upon the USSR.”

Lamrani concludes that the results of this relentless 50-year blockade have cost Cuba more than $751 billion, and has “affected all sectors of Cuban society and all categories of the population, especially the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and women.   Over 70 percent of all Cubans have lived in a climate of permanent economic hostility.”

Indeed, the stated purpose of the blockade all along has been to inflict suffering on the Cuban people to achieve the U.S.’s political objective of regime – the sine a qua non of terrorism.  Thus, Lamrani quotes Lester D. Mallory, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, who wrote on August 6, 1960:

The majority of the Cuban people support Castro.  There is no effective political opposition.  . . .  The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection and hardship.   . . .   every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba . . . a line of action which . . . makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.

According to this plan, which continues to this day, the blockade has caused immense suffering amongst the Cuban civilian population.   Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of medicine where Cubans are denied critical U.S. pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies – a huge deprivation given that the U.S., according to Lamrani, holds 80% of the patents in the medical sector.

And so, Lamrani sets forth a laundry list of examples in which Cubans have been deprived critical medical aid due to the blockade:

*Cuban children suffering from cancer of the retina cannot receive effective treatment because the surgical microscopes and other equipment needed for this treatment are sold exclusively by the U.S. company, Iris Medical Instruments.

*The National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology in Havana cannot use radioactive isotope plaques for the treatment of retinal cancer as they are sold exclusively by U.S. companies, thereby requiring doctors to remove the affected eyes of children altogether rather than treat and preserve them.

*Nearly 1600 Cubans a year are denied effective diagnosis of cancerous tumors because Cuba cannot obtain the necessary German-made optical coherence tomography – an item prohibited by the embargo because it contains some American-made components.

*Cubans are denied the drug temozolomide (Temodar) necessary for the effective treatment of tumors of the central nervous system.

*Cuban children are denied the benefit of the U.S.-made Amplatzer device which could help them to avoid open heart surgery.

*Cubans were denied $4.1 million for treating AIDS, Tuberulosis and Malaria when these monies were seized by the U.S. from an NGO which had earmarked those monies for Cuba.

*Cubans were denied the funds designated by the United Nations Program for Development for Cuba’s health care system when those monies were seized by the U.S.

*Cubans are denied critical drugs for treating bone cancer and HIV AIDS.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, as cited by Lamrani, “The Cuban and Iraqi instances make it abundantly clear that economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health.”  And still, as the Journal goes on to explain, Cuba has, against the formidable obstacles set up by the embargo, managed to maintain one of the best health systems in the world.  As the Journal notes,

The Cuban health care system . . . is exceptional for a poor country and represents an important political accomplishment of the Castro government.  Since 1959, Cuba has invested heavily in health care and now has twice as many physicians per capita as the United States and health indicators on a par with those in most developed nations – despite the U.S. embargo that severely reduces the availability of medications and medical technology.

And indeed, Cuba, despite the blockade, continues to give unprecedented assistance to other poor nations through its medical internationalism, economic-war-against-cuba-final-300x450sending doctors to 70 different countries throughout the world, including to Haiti where, according to The New York Times, it has been on the forefront in the fight against cholera since the 2010 earthquake.  In addition, for the past 21 years, Cuba has been treating 26,000 Ukrainian citizens, mostly children, affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident at its Tarara international medical center in Havana.

Imagine then, what Cuba could do if the U.S. blockade were lifted.   It is clear that the rulers of the U.S. have imagined this, and with terror in their hearts.

Indeed, Lamrani quotes former Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Perez Roque, as quite rightly asserting:

Why does the U.S. government not lift the blockade against Cuba? I will answer:  because it is afraid.  It fears our example.  It knows that if the blockade were lifted, Cuba’s economic and social development would be dizzying.   It knows that we would demonstrate even more so than now, the possibilities of Cuban socialism, all the potential not yet fully deployed of a country without discrimination of any kind, with social justice and human rights for all citizens, and not just for the few.  It is the government of a great and powerful empire, but it fears the example of this small insurgent island.

The next critical question is how can those of good will help and support the good example of Cuba in the face of the U.S. blockade.    Obviously, the first answer is to organize and agitate for an end the blockade.   As a young Senator, Barack Obama said that the blockade was obsolete and should end, and yet, while loosening the screws just a bit, President Obama has continued to aggressively enforce the blockade.   He must be called to task on this.   In addition, Congress must be lobbied to end the legal regime which keeps the embargo in place.

In addition, we must support Venezuela and its new President, Nicolas Maduro, as Venezuela has been quite critical in supporting Cuba in its international medical mission.   And indeed, one of the first things President Maduro did once elected in April was to travel to Cuba to reaffirm his support for these efforts.   It should be noted that Maduro’s electoral rival, Henrique Capriles – who led an attack against the Cuban Embassy in Caracas during the 2002 coup — vowed to end support for, and joint work, with Cuba.

Furthermore, to help Cuba and its domestic and international medical programs, one can donate to Global Links (www.globallinks.org) which provides medical supplies which benefit both of these programs.

Finally, order a copy of The Economic War Against Cuba from Monthly Review.

Daniel Kovalik is a labor and human rights attorney, and teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Notes. 

(1)  http://operamundi.uol.com.br/conteudo/opiniao/29149/ong+britanica+e+vitima+das+sancoes+economicas+dos+estados+unidos+contra+cuba.shtml

What we can learn from Cuba’s health care system by Margaret Badore

What we can learn from Cuba’s health care system
How does an impoverished country succeed in keeping its citizens healthy?

By Magaret Badore | Mother Nature Work
Thu, Jun 27 2013 at 12:16 PM

The correlation between low income and poor health has been established in many countries. Yet despite Cuba’s poverty, the country’s quality of health bucks this trend.
 
According to the United Nations Human Development Report, Cuba has the same life expectancy as the U.S. and a lower maternal mortality rate when compared to other countries in the region. A paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found Cuba has eliminated several common diseases, including diphtheria, measles, pertussis, rubella and mumps. What is the secret to Cuba’s success? Here are a few aspects of the Cuban health care system that Americans could adopt. 
 
Community-oriented primary care
Universal care and good access to care are two factors that contribute to the success of Cuba’s health care system. According to research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, the majority of care is provided by neighborhood clinics, called consultorios. A typical doctor will care for about 120 to 160 families, and medical records are organized around families, putting greater emphasis on communities rather than viewing each patient as an isolated individual. Doctors see patients at the clinic in the morning and make house calls in the afternoons.
 
“Doctors in Cuba do a good job of making sure that patients are getting the care they need,” said Dr. Lee T. Dresang, a family practitioner who teaches at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “They typically spend half of the day out in the community.”
 
Dresang traveled to Cuba to learn about the health care system and is the lead author of the 2005 paper “Family Medicine in Cuba: Community-Oriented Primary Care and Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” which was published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
 
Since then, some providers in the U.S. have taken small steps toward this type of primary care, with the creation of primary care medical homes. These organizations aim to focus health care on successful outcomes — healthier people — rather than on volume.
 
The clinic where Dresang works has become a certified primary care medical home, which means the doctors, nurses and technicians have daily meetings and are working more closely together to coordinate each patient’s care.
 
“It’s been really nice for us to see the benefits it can have,” said Dresang.
 
Acceptance of alternative and complementary medicine
Since the trade embargo was placed on Cuba, it has been difficult for doctors to access pharmaceuticals that are common elsewhere. This has encouraged the widespread use of complementary and alternative medicines, such as acupuncture, massage and heat therapy. Alternative medicine practices are integrated into the medical curriculum in Cuba.
 
“Most family physicians in Cuba practice some herbal medicine, also known as ‘green medicine,'” Dresang writes. “A national formula and educational materials on green medicine are distributed to all practitioners by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.”
 
Homeopathy is also widely practiced in Cuba. One of the most interesting examples of its application is the widespread treatment of Weil’s disease, which often flares up during the rainy season because it is transmitted via water. A large-scale study found that Cubans’ risk for contracting the infection could be reduced with doses of the bacteria in a highly diluted solution. 
 
In light of how many people seek complementary and alternative medicine from non-medical practitioners, Dresang wants “greater familiarity” with these treatments in the U.S. Since 2005, Dresang said, interest in these practices has grown among doctors. More medical programs are offering courses in alternative medicine disciplines, and the University of Wisconsin has an alternative medicine fellowship. “It’s a national trend,” Dresang said, adding that med students may even seek training in these fields outside of the established curricula.
 
Of course, not every aspect of the Cuban health care system is worth adopting. The U.S. and Cuba have very different populations, and research into specific alternative medicine therapies is needed before they should be recommended more widely. Nonetheless, a country that made do with fewer technological and monetary resources for decades and still has such positive health outcomes is remarkable. Cuba’s example offers a wealth of potential new treatments and approaches to explore.

UNESCO Acknowledges Che Guevara Legacy

Radio Rebelde 

UNESCO Acknowledges Che Guevara Legacy
2013.06.24 – 15:39:09 / web@radiorebelde.icrt.cu

Cuba’s National UNESCO Commission expressed satisfaction for the inclusion of the collection of documents on the life and work of Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla fighter Ernesto Che Guevara in the International Memory of the World Register.

In a communiqué, cited by Cubasi website, the Cuban commission says that the initiative acknowledges the contribution by Che Guevara to Latin American and world revolutionary thinking, which turned him into a symbol of liberation and internationalism.

The collection, presented by Cuba and Bolivia, encompasses 1 007 documents, 431 of which are Che’s manuscripts dating from 1928 to 1967. This includes his adolescence and youths as well as his guerrilla fight in Bolivia.

The Memory of the World Program was created by the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization in 1992 to safeguard and spread important patrimonial elements of political, philosophic, literary and musical nature.
The register now includes 299 documents and collections preserved in different formats from all five continents.
(ACN)

 

Children in Cuba, as well as those with disabilities receive full state support and attention.

Granma International | 27 June 2013

State of the World’s Children report launched in Havana

THE annual UNICEF report on the State of the World’s Children, this year dedicated to children with disabilities, has been launched in the Cuban capital.

Seija Toro, UNICEF representative in Havana, praised Cuba’s work in this population sector and thanked the state for its transparency in facilitating statistics related to attention given to minors, information difficult to compile in other countries.

Education services in Cuba for children and young adults with some kind of disability are based on principles of equality, justice and social commitment, the UNICEF official observed.

Toro stated that these minors are among the most vulnerable in many nations, because they frequently suffer from exploitation and neglect, and have fewer possibilities of receiving medical attention and education.

However, with 39, 340 differently abled students in the current educational year, Cuba has placed children in a privileged position, and one of the distinctive traits is the comprehensive nature of services they receive, she commented.

This is achieved through inter-disciplinary teams of doctors, speech therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and specialized educators, in many cases in a personalized form.

Roberto Álvarez Fumero, director of the Ministry of Public Health’s Infant-Maternal Department, emphasized preventive work and the early detection of disabilities in Cuba, where incidences stand at just 3.2%, in comparison with the figure of 10% in the rest of Latin America.

Children born with some kind of limitation, physical or mental, can always count of multidisciplinary attention directed at their maximum social achievement,” he stated. (PL/AIN)

CIA Report to US Congress Justifies Torture Programs

Prensa Latina

CIA Report to US Congress Justifies Torture Programs

Washington, June 27 (Prensa Latina) The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prepared a report to the US Congress in which it tries to justify its methods of torture against suspected terrorists. The claim of the agency is the most detailed defense to date on the most controversial programs in its history, which included the so-called waterboarding and other brutal measures for information, said the Washington Post.

It is expected that the director of the CIA, John Brennan, delivers the secret document Thursday to the president of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Democratic lawmaker, Dianne Feinstein, in a closed-door meeting.

Brennan now faces the possibility of incurring the wrath of Congress if they perceive a program he stands condemned by public opinion, or, conversely, can earn the rejection of his colleagues if strength protects the views of their subordinates.

Unnamed sources cited by the newspaper say the allegation presented by Brennan contains strong criticism of those who drafted the report of parliament criticizing the interrogation methods used by the spy agency and ensures that their results were poor and counterproductive.

The congressional report about six thousand pages was concluded last December and sent to the White House in order to determine the parts that are publishable.

The text of the spy agency criticizes the methodology used by the panel of the Capitol and collected millions encrypted internal cables and other documents about the torture program, but did not interview anyone.

However, Congress sources assured the Post that the panel requested the interviews, but were denied by officials of the CIA.

Feinstein said in December after hearing of the Senate report, that it reveals the terrible mistakes made with the creation of secret prisons and the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which highlights the need to monitor intelligence operations.

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