Month: March, 2015
A World of Sports Worth Fighting For
| March 31, 2015 | 8:24 pm | Analysis | No comments
Competitive athletics are far too important to leave to greedy businessmen and corporations.
This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here.
I love sports, but I hate so much of what sports have become. Playing sports should be an opportunity, especially for children, to exercise, make friends and, heaven forbid, have fun. As for the pro leagues, they have been and always will be a business first and foremost, but they should also be a sweet escape after a tough day—instead of something that makes you feel used and even dirty about enjoying.
If sports are ever going to be reclaimed, we need to put our John Lennon glasses on and actually start by daring to imagine. We need a new vision of what sports could look like, if they were run on a set of principles that weren’t about vacuuming every last dollar from our pockets.
So imagine a saner sports world—it’s easy if you try.
Imagine expanded recess time and daily physical education in our public schools—two things in short supply across the country—so that kids have the space and freedom to learn to love play, regardless of some grown-up’s judgment about whether they are “any good.”
Imagine a youth sports world that is not professionalized—one built around giving kids a lifelong love of healthy competition and teamwork instead of the ego-fulfillment of adults.
Imagine youth sports teams that aren’t rigidly segregated by gender, so that boys and girls who want to play together can play together—and kids who don’t see themselves as either a “boy” or a “girl” don’t need to feel excluded from what should be adventures in positive socialization. Let sports be something other than the first step toward the alienation that can fester between men and women. And if girls want their own teams, let them not only have access, but also equal fields and equipment.
Imagine a youth sports world that does not feel like a place where you don’t belong if you’re part of the LGBT community. Imagine a young men’s sports world where homophobia and violence against women are completely contrary to the values enforced by the locker room.
Imagine a college sports system without the NCAA! No more would we hear from a multibillion-dollar cartel policing a system of indentured servitude. The fact that the NCAA’s two revenue-producing sports happen to revolve around the talents of young black men speaks volumes. Stop the theft of black wealth through college sports, and instead treat players like the campus employees they are. And if they also want to pursue a degree, that should be encouraged—even highly incentivized. But we would all be better off without such profound hypocrisy and exploitation in our midst.
* * *
Imagine an end to all sports cartels. Imagine there’s no FIFA; no International Olympic Committee, too. Which doesn’t mean no more World Cup or Olympics—it just means an end to these two thoroughly corrupt, thoroughly discredited organizations that come into communities like neoliberal wrecking balls, bringing debt, displacement and the militarization of public space. We need a World Cup that reflects the beauty of the play on the field. We don’t need a World Cup that exploits the passion of fans for the benefit of the real-estate, construction, private-security and weapons industries. We need an Olympics that takes us back to the amateur ideal, highlighting sports that are normally ignored and showcasing the remarkable athleticism of women and men across the world—not an excuse for a host of construction projects that people would otherwise reject.
Imagine a sports media that did not live down to the words of Hunter S. Thompson, who once wrote that sportswriters are “a rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks” and “a gang of vicious monkeys jerking off in a zoo cage.” The sports media should be holding the corrupt scandalmongers of sports responsible for the communities that they call home. Instead, the media are far too often cheerleaders for or broadcast partners with the very people they should hold accountable.
* * *
Imagine a pro-sports world where owners didn’t exploit our love for local teams to fleece municipalities out of billions of dollars. Imagine if they paid for their own damn stadiums.
Imagine a pro-sports world where owners did not use the public money they received as engines for their own political pet projects. No more money laundering through sports to support reactionary political agendas—as in Orlando, where the DeVos family has provided seed money for the Family Research Council to propagate homophobia and bigotry, and has also taken hundreds of millions in public funds.
Imagine, if you can, a pro-sports world without owners. “Why don’t we have the owners play half the games?” the new National Basketball Players Association executive director, Michele Roberts, asked rhetorically, speaking to ESPN The Magazine. “There would be no money if not for the players.” If taxpayers are paying for stadiums, why do we even need team owners? Imagine if every team operated like the Green Bay Packers—owned by 360,000 fans, with concession money going to local charities and never a threat that the team will be ripped away for a sweeter tax deal in another state. In other words, imagine teams that are a life raft for a community instead of an albatross around its neck.
Imagine a pro-sports world that didn’t use our love of sports as a delivery system for the next war. We don’t need Gen. David Petraeus flipping the opening coin at the Super Bowl any more than we need warplanes flying over the stadium. As Mary Tillman, the mother of the late Pat Tillman, once said to me: “Camaraderie is important to all humans, and I think the camaraderie of sports provides the most reward. Many young men join the military in order to get that feeling of belonging, that feeling of brotherhood. It is irresponsible to try to entice young people into military service with subliminal messages.” Sports is not war, and war is not a game. Sports—not to mention the soldiers—deserve better.
George Orwell once wrote: “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.” I do not agree with this in general, but it remains an apt description of sports at their worst. However, there is no reason why sports must always reach for the lowest common denominator.
Imagine if the camaraderie, team work and positive experiences that sports provide at their best were universal in every locker room. Imagine if sports were used to actually fight racism instead of promoting Native American mascots. Imagine if sports were used as a force against sexual assault instead of (as we’ve seen far too often) a cocoon of rape culture. Imagine if sports were a place where everyone felt included, because the idea of being on a team whose members stand up for one another is what really matters.
That is a sports world—not to mention a real world—worth fighting for.
Fidel Castro speech at Construction Workers Day, 1992
| March 31, 2015 | 8:15 pm | Cuba, Fidel Castro | No comments

(How many times did we hear after the fall of the USSR that Cuba would soon follow? But it didn’t happen. Here’s a fresh CubaNews translation of a speech in which Fidel rallies the troops and gives his audience the context to explain how the leadership tries to at once save as much as possible, and minimize reductions in both services and projects needed by the population. )

Art by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5

Art by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5


Speech delivered by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of Councils of State and of Ministers, at the commemoration of Construction Workers Day held in PPG[1] Plant No. 3 in Havana, on December 5, 1992, “34th Year of the Revolution”
(Shorthand version by the Council of State)
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Comrade constructors:
They say that it’s been quite a long time since Havana last hosted the national celebrations for Construction Workers Day, and that this time Havana had indeed been honored by its selection as the venue, so I think that City of Havana province and Habaneros from Havana must be very satisfied (LAUGHTER), but all Habaneros from the rest of the provinces, and mainly the easterners, must also be very satisfied (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE). For example, I could ask all construction workers here now, men and women alike, to raise your hand if you are from the eastern provinces (MOST OF THOSE PRESENT RAISE THEIR HANDS). Most of you in the front, I guess, are from the Desembarco del Granma contingent (SHOUTS), but I suppose many of those in the back also raised their hand, but truth is, so many of you in the front raised theirs that we could not see all the other hands. OK, barring the Desembarco del Granma members, let all of those from the eastern provinces raise their hand (MANY DO). So I think they must also be very pleased that Havana was tapped for the venue of these celebrations. (APPLAUSE)
Of course, I’m aware that we have people here from everywhere and every province, and a few Habaneros. (LAUGHTER) I’m joking when I say a few, for I know there are many Habaneros here (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE: “From Havana too!”).
Well, let Habaneros raise their hand (MANY DO, SHOUTING). There are a few Habaneros among the construction workers of the capital city. [Jorge] Lezcano says this is the capital city of the whole country and not only of City of Havana province. I know it is, but it’s getting help to fulfill its duties as the capital city of the whole country. (LAUGHTER)
Of course, that’s what the rest of Cuba does in international solidarity with the capital city. The truth is, Habaneros are reluctant to keep building things; construction here is now in the hands of our own Third World people (LAUGHTER), but they are good and amount to large numbers. We have reasons to be really satisfied rather than embarrassed about it, and are proud to rely on our fellow citizens from other provinces who have turned out to be great construction workers at that.
As you know, we have been making great efforts at construction in these last years, particularly since the beginning of the rectification process: construction work, labor and productivity were growing at a good pace; no work was left unfinished and we were making great savings. That was one of the guiding ideas of the rectification period, because some of those works were going to take 30, 40, 50 years to be finished. They were taking forever, and many branches started to develop rapidly. For instance, in the case of hydraulic works, construction of reservoirs and canals increased three times over in a few years, advancing by leaps and bounds. The extinct mini-brigade movement came back to life and was getting very strong. At one point we had in place scores of contingents of construction workers throughout the country –in my view, the most revolutionary way of organizing construction work– and their example, energy and strength were plain to see, no matter their assignment.
A true savings policy was launched. Listen to this: at times we would use 700 kilograms of cement per cubic meter of concrete, and you heard the representative of construction workers in the province of La Habana say that this year they had used only 373 kilograms. How’s that for saving, in terms of wood, iron bars and construction materials!
The construction material industry was making great efforts to produce cement, pre-fabricated sections, floor tiles, bricks, blocks, etc. More than $100 million dollars was invested in this industry to build factories like that of white cement, for one, as well as many factories of blocks, bathroom furniture, tiles, cement –we were even building a new plant to make cement and increased the capacity of those we already had– and produced stone, sand and other construction materials; we stepped up the pace of steel bar production and, together with the savings we made in the case of wood and the new systems that use none of it, our construction potential rose to new heights in just a few years. This industry had already planned for and invested in the construction of 100,000 houses per year. How much hard work! Many industries still in boxes were assembled and set in motion. It was all the result of the rectification process in construction; let alone what we did elsewhere.
Actually, construction was one of the branches that gave us full satisfaction. However, this extraordinary, magnificent and wonderful effort was brutally disrupted by the terrible and unfortunate events that took place in the socialist bloc and the USSR and brought about their disintegration. With those countries, we had developed 85% of our trade, and we relied on them to confront the criminal blockade imposed by Yankee imperialism; we imported by the billions from them, and they paid a fair price for our goods; thanks to them we had ensured our supply of fuel, raw materials, food, equipment, credits and widespread cooperation in all fields, at economic, political and international level.
And now see who gets most votes in almost all those former socialist countries and former Soviet republics. Those countries used to vote for Cuba in every international dispute, but today, as a rule, they rush and hurt their arms to raise their hands to join the US vote. In other words, those events came as a terrible blow to Cuba, both economically and politically. We were left all by ourselves against the Empire. Good thing we had enough energy, blood and determination to stand alone here in front of the Empire and keep fighting and resisting, instead of surrendering like chicken or dissolving like an egg white (APPLAUSE). What terrible conditions, those our people have lived through in these years of struggle! Of course, we have covered ourselves in glory in the process, and today we are highly honored and proud –now more than ever before– to be Cuban and show our steel, forged in the struggle that our compatriots started over 100 years of ago, with the first war of independence in 1868.
It’s obvious that we are as courageous as were our men and women in back in 1868, 1895 and 1953, from the first wars of independence and our war of liberation, and that’s what our people are proving with their spirit of self-sacrifice and their heroism, both of which are growing rather than declining these days. (APPLAUSE)
Naturally, given the new circumstances, we had to slow down and in some cases halt our work despite their great importance, as in the case of our housing projects. Just imagine what it means to plan for 100,000 houses and then have to do with a few thousands of them.
All this tragic situation after the smashup of the USSR and the socialist camp forced us to give up many things and fight against the blockade without the support of the trade we used to have with those countries, a true deed in every sense of the word, and of course, all of it has paved the way for a great deal of deprivation and sacrifice. However, see how much we have done with what little we have and how united, organized and disciplined our people are, to the point that we can deal with the special period and at the same time, despite much hardship, undertake tasks as important as the sugar harvest, cold-weather sowing, the food program and, on top of that, an election.
I don’t know how our Party and State comrades and cadre manage, what with all their present obligations and assignments.
Right now the special period –which is in a very difficult stage– comes on top of the harvest, all the other tasks and a popular election, and let me tell you, objectively, and with full conviction, no other people in the world participates in an election as does the Cuban people (APPLAUSE); nowhere in the world is an election more democratic; nowhere in the world are human rights more respected despite all the mean slander and campaigns paid and orchestrated by the Empire with the help of some small-time traitors.
Despite all those campaigns and lies, nowhere in the world has so much been done for people as in Cuba, as evidenced by the fact that –even in a special period– our infant mortality rate keeps falling rather than growing and all over the world the health indicators are getting worse as a result of today’s international crisis; and we can see that our mortality rate has dropped from 60 to almost 10. The Revolution has saved the lives of many hundreds of thousands of children in that respect alone, and not only within our boundaries but also in the Third World and many other countries.
They speak of democracy and human rights but fail to educate people and leave them to starve with no jobs, no health care and no schools. It’s been a long time since a Cuban child had no schools or teachers, since we had illiteracy or beggars, abandoned or homeless people, or sick people without medical care. What the Revolution has meant to our people’s human rights is visible every day in our hospitals, where hearts or kidneys are transplanted to save lives or someone regains their sight after an eye operation, where infants and even premature children have cardiovascular surgery. What this Revolution has done for human rights is proved by the fact that we have put an end to all the disgusting and unfair discrimination that we had here based on skin color, sex and other related forms.
We can be proud, as few others, of what we have done since the first days of the Revolution for people’s integrity, respect, decency and ethics, a policy implemented during the war and since. Our country is one of the few in the world where not a single person has disappeared, where murder and torture have never existed, no matter what some despicable persons say. Our people are aware of that, (APPLAUSE) our people can bear witness to that.
Look at our political system, in which people cast their vote –I repeat– as in no other in the world. That’s why we say that no other people is more fair or has more equality, social justice, democracy and respect for its citizens, their integrity, rights, safety, well-being and happiness.
That’s why we possess great moral strength to defend the Revolution; that’s why we are capable of waging battles in so many fields at the same time and deal, as we are doing now –I repeat– with an election, a harvest, all the tasks of the Revolution and the special period, and with so scant resources, my fellow citizens! Our main resource is our people, their will, their fighting spirit, their capacity for sacrifice, their intelligence, and their ability to find solutions, invent and innovate. Nowhere else in the world is there a body of innovators and inventors like the one we have today. We will soon hold a forum of spare parts and advanced technology, in which I think around 60,000 solutions to many problems will be presented, and that’s an astronomical number. How many brains, how many men and women bursting with love for their homeland, enthusiasm and good faith in the search for solutions to problems further aggravated by the special period do we have!
You know the difficulties we have in construction. We are having big problems with fuel. Around 40% or more of our resources must be spent in fuel and use the rest to try and purchase all the other things: food, medicines, raw materials, etc. Such is the epic battle that we had to wage right when we were accomplishing so many things, most of which we had to put aside for a while, because there is something that we have not given up, nor will we ever do: hope. And that’s what we struggle for: our conviction that we will go through these difficult times until we can build the capacity again to carry on with our program and the work of the Revolution. But the essential and most important thing now is to save the Revolution and socialism in Cuba. (APPLAUSE)
That’s why our mighty construction movement has not come apart or broken up. The construction capacity of the Ministry of Construction and other bodies like the Ministry of Sugar, the Blas Roca Contingent, UNECA, the People’s Power and the mini-brigades have not come apart or broken up, but been given other assignments in an organized way. Some of our construction workers and even some of our contingents are now engaged in agriculture. Not one of them has been dissolved because we need them now in agriculture and then wherever we need them.
Our forces remain organized wherever they are, and we try to send them to where they are most useful to the country, now that we lack fuel, spare parts, resources, construction materials and many other things. They are not disorganized, nor can we let them to be so. A part of them is still building a few essential, top-priority works.
We have been forced to stop almost every social work and redeploy construction workers to priority tasks like the ones mentioned here: tourist, biotechnology and pharmaceutical facilities and works related to the food program, as we try to distribute the few resources we have among those top-drawer projects.
You are aware of the present difficulties to doing your job, and how often we don’t have the spare parts, the fuel and the material we need to build or make construction materials, and yet we are doing so many things! And we can keep doing things and even better things insofar as we improve our organization, make the most of the available human and material resources, coordinate efforts in our construction industries and sites, so that every liter of fuel, every part and every item we have goes to where it should be and we don’t have to stop any priority work deemed essential to advance, survive, solve our main problems and develop the country.
That’s how much we can do. We have two examples here: there in the back is that beautiful biotechnology and medicine production industry built by the Ñico López Contingent in record time (APPLAUSE); and next door is another work designed and almost finished in record time too, just two years. Those are perfect examples of all we are capable of doing during the special period.
I have visited these works; when I came to this one not long ago it was at nightfall, but day and night the construction workers were there (SOMEONE FROM THE AUDIENCE ASKS HIM WHICH WORKERS). Most of them from Granma province! (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) Of course, I am talking about the glorious Desembarco del Granma Contingent, made mostly of compatriots from that province (SHOUTS AND APPLAUSE). I saw them at work, and I can bear witness to their effort, be it when they had to rebuild and remodel a house to be turned into a beautiful school to replace another one located in the expected construction site or when in recent days they were about to finish their current assignment, which leads me to think highly of this group of workers, much as I do of the Ñico López Contingent. (APPLAUSE)
We are very happy to observe this day near these works, without forgetting the effort made in other similar ones, of which there are many being built both in the Scientific Park and the pharmaceutical industry and in other parts of Cuba. By way of example, I will mention the Cauto River dam in the eastern provinces, which took a lot of effort to finish; an oil refinery that saves us millions of dollars, built in record time in Santiago de Cuba province, and other works almost finished by now. Sometimes it’s a factory to make fish sticks[2], as they are called –we don’t have any other name for those fish-based food items– or sausages or black pudding, or something else.
We have focused our efforts on construction related to tourism, the food program, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, and on key industries like those of nickel and steel, in addition to a few social works that we needed to finished and homes, as in La Habana province or some sectors in which what is being done cannot be done without homes. A certain number of homes must be built as part of the food program. That is, we are aware of the deeds performed by our construction workers throughout the Island, from Varadero Beach to other tourist parks, from Villa Clara province to other scientific parks. We are aware of them, but we are happy to be here in front of two examples of how we must work in these times.
Who knows how much health and well-being will come out of these biotechnological and pharmaceutical facilities! And we have here an electronic research center where they also produce hi-tech medical equipment.
For years, ICID’s construction workers built a number of houses here. There was an elephantine Soviet project east of Havana, but the truth is that no one knew when it would be finished. Made by Cubans, it has been reduced to a third of its original area, and more will be produced and researched on there with one third of the original investment. We will be proud to have still another great facility in this scientific park. In a few months the Molecular Immunology or Monoclonal Antibody Center, as they call it, will be finished (SOMEONE IN THE AUDIENCE TELLS HIM THAT IT’S THE VI CONGRESO CONTINGENT). Congratulations.
Beyond is the finished pharmaceutical forms industry, a second PPG plant –almost finished– the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute, and Finlay Institute’s Plant No. 3 for meningoencephalitis. Days ago the Desembarco del Granma Contingent finished the Medicine Control and Registration Center, and other forces –in this case CUBALSE’s– finished another important facility, the Finlay Institute’s plant for Virals. We can see how much energy these construction workers of the scientific park display. I have not mentioned every work lest I take too long. We find it particularly satisfying to see what we Cubans can do in such difficult times, and we wonder: are there any other people in the world capable of doing what we are doing in these conditions? (SHOUTS OF “NO!”) Of that we can be totally convinced, much as we can be proud of belonging in a people like this, never mind how many fainthearted and rats there can be around.
There will always be fainthearted ones and some rats, but we don’t even notice them, because what we see every day is your example, what you are and what you mean, and not only in you construction workers here and elsewhere, as we also see it in our researchers, rationalizers and innovators, as well as in our scientists (APPLAUSE), in what they are doing and how they do it. So many renowned scientists ride their bicycles for many kilometers to go to work every day… where else in the world can you see that?
A few days ago I was celebrating Latin American Medicine Day with the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital staff and talked with an outstanding doctor who is an expert on maxillofacial surgery. He was very happy to tell me that he cycles to work every single day –an eminent doctor– and it was good for his health, and I was wondering, where else in the world is an eminence like him capable of doing that but in this country, in our Revolution, in our pure and dignified socialism? (APPLAUSE)
And I am not mentioning the hundreds of thousands of workers who have to go to work every day, and not only intellectuals, but eminent figures who offer their services in all modesty.
Nowadays, we in Government and the ministries must work extra hard to streamline what resources we have. For instance, today we are very short of fuel, on which we spend around 40% of our export income, as we need fuel for cold-weather sowing and tobacco, rice and sugar programs; for the impending harvest; for construction; for transportation; for electricity, etc., and some fuels like diesel –which our trucks and machinery mostly use– must be distributed in dribs and drabs to every program. But this should never be a justification or an excuse to not do what we can do despite the shortage. (APPLAUSE) With your work, you have proved what can be done. We are making progress in such a way that we can gradually release forces. I was confronted with the dilemma of deducing what task should be assigned to ICID’s strong construction workers, mainly in civil works. We have many forces concentrated in this scientific park, so I said: is there any work capable of fitting ICID’s forces as they finish what they are doing? And then I realized that near this place is a big tourist center under construction that needs hundreds of cottages for rooms. (SHOUTS AND APPLAUSE)
I was told: “ICID will be finished by January or February”, and I said: “We must give Desembarco del Granma Contingent a task”, not right away in the fields of science or biotechnology, but in a center expected to produce many millions of dollars for us every year. They can even go by bicycle, but it’s such a short way that taking them there would consume very little fuel –I am not saying you should go on foot, since we need you there, hard at work, building at top speed the cottages we need before the facility is ready. UNECA has construction workers there, so maybe the two forces will work together until UNECA is assigned new sites in Havana –they are building tourist facilities– but for the time being you will.
Even if hotels like the Habana Libre or the Riviera or other places need some remodeling, they will not be redeployed, because we must stick to the principle that those works need to be finished in record time so that they start to produce at once, and we must invest capital, materials, equipment, fuel, etc. in those places before they become operational.
If you finish a part of the Hemingway Marina that we can start to use, we will be using all of it in one year. I think it’s a good assignment to keep our construction workers organized and united.
I don’t like to scatter our construction workers, even if sometimes there is no other choice. The Ñico López Contingent has worked in various places, since none of the ongoing works has room for all its members, but the one that I am talking about can take the whole Desembarco del Granma Contingent, and it’s very near the spot where you set up camp to work here. It is important that your daily workplace is within striking distance. For lack of any urgent or more necessary work for this force, that is where their presence makes more sense. That’s what we must do about all our forces.
Let our active construction workers consider every task, whatever it is, as important as the next one. We cannot afford to spend time, energy, fuel and resources in secondary works.
Yes, it was very painful for us to cut down on all the programs and things that we had planned for, mainly for the population’s benefit, such as the housing program that we had to put aside, but we are pleased to see the fruits of your labor and to see that you are better and more efficient every day. There is still much room for efficiency and the optimal organization of labor in construction. From other people’s experience, we see that we can do more and better in terms of organization, even with our daily difficulties and shortages.
We must learn from the best international experience in construction, because your spirit, production capacity and increasing knowledge, together with an optimal organization of labor, we can achieve what no one can in this field.
I have always believed that construction is the most essential branch, because without it we would have no industries, agriculture, social development, power plants, reservoirs, nickel or steel production, schools, hospitals, homes, nothing. And important though it may have been in normal circumstances, construction is paramount in the special period, because its effects go straight to the heart, as they say, to the heart of the economy and the heart of Cuba’s most pressing and crucial needs today. (APPLAUSE) You must be aware of that and of the great importance that every brick and block that you lay and every trowelful of cement that you spread today has to save the Revolution and socialism; the importance of every minute and second of your work, and the importance of quality, which I had not mentioned yet: in matters of quality, we have made great strides in the last few years.
Much of the success and the victory of the epic battle that we are waging today is placed on your shoulders. Our construction workers are on the front line to salvage the homeland, and we are pleased and glad that we can rely on a battle-hardened and heroic army of them, honorable followers of Armando Mestre, our revolutionary fellow Granma passenger, who has been living in your spirit all these years (HEARTY OVATION) For that reason, and in total appreciation, I congratulate here today all construction workers, those heroic soldiers of our homeland!
Socialism or Death!
Homeland or Death!
We shall overcome! (OVATION)


[1] PPG (policosanol) is marketed in Cuba as a natural medicine with purported benefits including lowering cholesterol levels, boosting energy and weight loss. (T.N.)

[2] In English in the original (T.N.)

Compañeras y compañeros constructores:
Dicen que hacía mucho tiempo que La Habana no era sede del acto nacional por el Día del Constructor y que en esta ocasión Ciudad de La Habana sí había sido honrada con la concesión de la sede para la celebración de este acto, por lo que pienso que la provincia Ciudad de La Habana debe sentirse muy satisfecha, los habaneros de La Habana deben sentirse muy satisfechos (RISAS), y los habaneros del resto de las provincias, principalmente orientales, deben sentirse también muy satisfechos (RISAS Y APLAUSOS).
Podría pedirles, por ejemplo, a ustedes, a los constructores que están aquí, hombres y mujeres, que levanten la mano los que son de las provincias orientales (La mayoría de los presentes levantan la mano). Estos que están delante, desde luego, son los de Desembarco del “Granma” en su mayoría, me imagino (EXCLAMACIONES); pero pienso que por allá también hubo muchas manos levantadas, lo que pasa que eran tantas las de aquí enfrente que no pudimos ver el resto. A ver, excepto los de Desembarco del “Granma”, que levanten la mano los que son de las provincias orientales (Muchos levantan la mano). Luego, pienso que los orientales deben sentirse también muy satisfechos de que la Ciudad de La Habana haya sido declarada sede del acto nacional por el Día del Constructor (APLAUSOS).
No ignoro, desde luego, que hay aquí de todo, pinareños, vecinos de la provincia de La Habana, matanceros, villaclareños, cienfuegueros, camagüeyanos y algunos habaneros (RISAS). Digo algunos en broma, sé que hay un número importante de habaneros aquí (DEL PUBLICO LE DICEN: “¡Hay habaneros también!”).
Bueno, que levanten la mano los habaneros ( Un número importante levanta la mano) (EXCLAMACIONES). Hay unos cuantos de Ciudad de La Habana entre los constructores de la capital (Lezcano le dice que esta es la capital de todo el país y no solo de Ciudad de La Habana). Yo sé que es la capital de todo el país, pero la están ayudando para que pueda cumplir sus funciones de capital de todo el país (RISAS); desde luego, esa es la solidaridad internacionalista del resto del país con la capital de la república. Es que ya los habaneros casi no quieren construir, ahora son los de nuestro Tercer Mundo los que construyen aquí (RISAS); pero es que son buenos y, además, son numerosos. Debemos sentirnos, realmente, satisfechos —no abochornados por eso— y orgullosos de poder contar con la colaboración de estos compatriotas de otras provincias que han resultado, además, ser magníficos constructores.
Como ustedes saben, en la construcción veníamos haciendo un esfuerzo extraordinario durante los últimos años, en especial desde que empezó el proceso de rectificación: se incrementaban a un ritmo acelerado y vertiginoso las construcciones, aumentaba el número de trabajadores, se elevaba la productividad, se alcanzaban ahorros importantes, se terminaban las obras. Esa fue una de las ideas fundamentales, e idea rectora del proceso de rectificación, porque había obras que se iban a terminar en 30 años, 40 años, 50 años, se eternizaban las obras, y muchas ramas comenzaron a desarrollarse rápidamente en poco tiempo. Por ejemplo, en las obras hidráulicas, la construcción de presas y canales se multiplicó por tres veces en pocos años, adquirieron un ritmo tremendo, empezaron a terminarse las presas, los canales; se resucitaron las microbrigadas, que habían desaparecido, y estaban adquiriendo una extraordinaria fuerza; surgieron los contingentes y ya teníamos decenas y decenas de ellos —que fue, a mi juicio, la más revolucionaria forma de organización de la construcción—, se habían extendido por todo el país, y su ejemplo, su vigor, su pujanza se hacía sentir en todas las obras de cualquier tipo.
Comenzó, realmente, una política de ahorro. Vean ustedes qué dato: hubo tiempos en que se gastaban 700 kilogramos de cemento por metro cúbico de hormigón, y ya aquí el representante de los constructores de La Habana explicó cómo este año habían gastado solo 373 kilogramos en la provincia de La Habana, vean qué nivel de ahorro, y qué nivel de ahorro de madera, de cabillas, de materiales de la construcción, en general, se ha alcanzado.
Estaba desplegándose un enorme esfuerzo en la industria de materiales, en la producción de cemento, de prefabricado, de baldosas, de ladrillos, de bloques, de todo. Se habían invertido más de 100 millones de dólares en inversiones de la industria de materiales de la construcción: fábricas como la de cemento blanco, por citar un ejemplo; numerosas fábricas de bloques; ampliaciones de la fábrica de producción de muebles sanitarios y azulejos; inversiones en la industria de cemento —estábamos construyendo, incluso, una nueva planta de cemento, además de elevar las capacidades de las plantas existentes en el país—; se hicieron importantes inversiones en la producción de piedra, arena y otros materiales de construcción; se ampliaba aceleradamente la producción de cabillas de acero, y —sumando los ahorros que se hacían con la madera y nuevos sistemas constructivos que no empleaban madera— estábamos alcanzando una impresionante capacidad de construcción en unos pocos años, ya la industria había hecho las inversiones fundamentales para poder construir 100 000 viviendas por año, vean ustedes qué esfuerzo; muchas industrias que estaban en cajas fueron montadas y puestas a producir. Estos eran los frutos del esfuerzo del proceso de rectificación en el área de la construcción, independientemente de lo que se hacía en otras áreas.
Realmente una de las ramas en que nos sentíamos más satisfechos de lo que estábamos haciendo era en la rama de la construcción. Sin embargo, este extraordinario, magnífico y maravilloso esfuerzo se vio brutalmente interrumpido por los lamentables e infortunados acontecimientos que tuvieron lugar en el campo socialista y en la Unión Soviética, que dieron lugar a la desintegración tanto de uno como de la otra; países con los que teníamos el 85% de nuestro comercio y en los que se apoyaba nuestra economía frente al criminal bloqueo del imperialismo yanki, países de donde recibíamos miles de millones en importaciones, países de donde recibíamos un precio justo por nuestros productos, países donde teníamos garantizado combustibles, materias primas, alimentos, equipos, créditos y una amplia colaboración en todos los terrenos, tanto en el terreno económico y político como en el internacional.
Ya ustedes ven por quiénes votan hoy la inmensa mayoría de aquellos países que constituían la comunidad socialista o que se desprendieron después de la Unión Soviética. Antes aquellos países en todas las batallas internacionales votaban por Cuba y hoy, como regla, corren, se apuran y se lesionan el brazo levantando la mano para votar junto a Estados Unidos, salvo excepciones. Es decir que para el país esos acontecimientos significaron un terrible golpe, tanto en el terreno económico como en el político; el país se quedó solo frente al imperio aquí. Menos mal que teníamos suficiente energía, suficiente sangre y suficiente carácter para quedarnos solos aquí, frente al imperio, y seguir luchando, seguir resistiendo y no rendirnos como gallinas ni desmerengarnos como la clara de huevo (APLAUSOS).
¡Pero en qué terribles condiciones ha tenido que seguir luchando nuestro pueblo en estos años! Desde luego que es muy alta la gloria, y son muy altos el honor y el orgullo hoy —en este momento más que nunca— de ser cubanos, por haber podido demostrar el temple de nuestro pueblo, que es el temple de acero forjado por la lucha de más de 100 años que iniciaron nuestros compatriotas en la primera guerra de independencia de 1868.
Se ve que tenemos el mismo temple de los hombres y mujeres de 1868, de 1895 y de 1953, de las guerras primeras de independencia y de nuestra guerra de liberación, y eso es lo que está probando nuestro pueblo con su espíritu de sacrificio y con su heroísmo en estos tiempos, un heroísmo y un espíritu de sacrificio que veo crecer lejos de disminuir (APLAUSOS).
Naturalmente, con la nueva situación planteada, muchos de los programas que estábamos llevando adelante tuvimos que moderarlos y en algunos casos prácticamente paralizarlos, reducir muchos de ellos al mínimo, a pesar de ser necesidades muy importantes, como la construcción de viviendas. Imagínense lo que fue trabajar para construir 100 000 viviendas y tener que reducir esos programas a unos pocos miles.
Toda esta trágica situación del desmerengamiento del campo socialista y de la Unión Soviética nos llevó a tener que sacrificar montones de cosas y tener que luchar contra el bloqueo sin el apoyo que significaba el comercio con aquellos países, una verdadera proeza en todos los sentidos, y, naturalmente, esto se ha tenido que traducir en grandes privaciones y sacrificios. Sin embargo, vean con los pocos recursos que tenemos las cosas que estamos haciendo, cómo se mantienen la organización, la unidad y la disciplina de nuestro pueblo, de tal forma que no solo somos capaces de enfrentarnos al período especial, sino, además, simultanearlo con tareas tan importantes, en medio de muchas limitaciones, como la realización de la zafra, todo el programa de siembra de frío, el programa alimentario, y también con unas elecciones.
No sé cómo se las arreglan los compañeros y cuadros del Partido y del Estado, ante tantas obligaciones y tareas como las que tienen en estos instantes.
En este momento se nos juntan período especial —en fase muy crítica—, zafra, todas las demás tareas y elecciones con la participación del pueblo, porque en ningún lugar del mundo —lo digo con absoluta convicción y objetividad— el pueblo tiene la participación que tiene el pueblo cubano en el proceso electoral (APLAUSOS); como en ningún lugar del mundo es más democrático ese proceso, como en ningún lugar del mundo se han respetado más los derechos humanos, pese a todas las infames calumnias pagadas por el imperio y las campañas orquestadas por el imperio con la colaboración de algunos traidorzuelos.
Pese a esas campañas y mentiras, en ningún lugar del mundo se ha hecho tanto por el hombre y por el ser humano como se ha hecho en nuestro país. Eso se puede apreciar cuando se ve que —incluso, en período especial—, en vez de aumentar, la mortalidad infantil disminuye, cuando en todas partes del mundo los índices de salud están empeorando con esta situación de crisis internacional; y eso se ve y se aprecia al disminuir la tasa de mortalidad de 60 a 10 aproximadamente. La Revolución ha salvado la vida de cientos y cientos de miles de niños, solo con ese avance; y la Revolución no solo ha salvado vidas en el interior de su frontera, ha salvado vidas más allá de las fronteras, en los territorios de muchos países del Tercer Mundo, y ha salvado muchas vidas del mundo.
Hablan de democracia, hablan de derechos humanos y dejan a la gente ignorante, dejan a la gente morirse de hambre, la dejan sin empleo, sin salud, sin educación. Hace mucho rato en este país no hay un niño sin escuela y sin maestro, hace mucho rato en este país no se habla de analfabetismo, hace mucho rato no se habla de pordioseros, de mendigos, de gente pidiendo limosna; hace mucho rato no se habla en este país de gente abandonada, sin un albergue, sin atención médica, ni de enfermos sin médico, sin atención.
Lo que ha significado la Revolución para los derechos humanos de nuestro pueblo se expresa en todos los hospitales de nuestro país, todos los días, cuando se hace desde un trasplante del corazón o del riñón para salvar una vida hasta cuando se le devuelve la vista a una persona, o se hace la cirugía cardiovascular a niños menores de un año, y, en ocasiones, incluso, a niños prematuros.
Lo que ha hecho esta Revolución por los derechos humanos se demuestra en el hecho de haber puesto fin a toda forma de discriminación, tan repugnante, tan injusta como la que existía en nuestro país, por cuestiones de color de la piel; discriminación por cuestiones de sexo y otras similares.
Nuestro país es uno de los que puede sentirse más orgulloso por lo que ha hecho, desde los primeros días de la Revolución, por la integridad del hombre, por el respeto al hombre, por su decencia, por su ética, porque la misma política que seguimos en los días de la guerra en materia de respeto al hombre, de la integridad del hombre, es la que hemos seguido desde el triunfo de la Revolución hasta este período especial; uno de los pocos países del mundo donde no ha habido un solo desaparecido, donde no se ha practicado jamás el crimen ni la tortura, digan lo que digan los infames, y eso lo sabe todo nuestro pueblo (APLAUSOS). Tenemos por testigo a nuestro pueblo.
Fíjense en nuestro sistema político, con una participación del pueblo en las elecciones —repito— como no existe en ningún lugar del mundo. Por eso decimos que pueblo más justo, de más equidad, de más justicia social, de más democracia no hay, ni de más respeto al hombre, a su integridad, a sus derechos, a su seguridad, a su bienestar, a su felicidad.
Por eso tenemos la moral tan alta para defender la Revolución, por eso somos capaces de librar batallas en tantos campos diferentes al mismo tiempo y de enfrentarnos, como nos enfrentamos, en este momento, a elecciones —repito—, a la zafra, a todas las tareas de la Revolución y al período especial, y con qué escasos recursos, compatriotas, ¡con qué escasos recursos! El recurso fundamental lo tenemos en el pueblo, en su voluntad, en su espíritu de lucha, en su capacidad de sacrificio, en su inteligencia, en su capacidad de buscar soluciones a problemas, de inventar, de ser innovadores.
No hay ningún lugar del mundo donde haya un movimiento de innovaciones e inventivas tan grande como hay en este momento en nuestro país. Pronto tendrá lugar el foro de piezas de repuesto y tecnologías de avanzada, en el que creo que se presentan unas 60 000 soluciones, son cifras astronómicas. Cuántas inteligencias, cuántos hombres y mujeres llenos de amor por su patria, llenos de entusiasmo y de buena fe, en la búsqueda de soluciones a problemas agravados por el período especial.
En las construcciones ustedes saben las dificultades. Estamos atravesando dificultades grandes con el combustible. Alrededor del 40% o más de los ingresos del país hay que destinarlo a combustible y, además, con el resto tratar de adquirir todas las demás cosas: alimentos, medicamentos, materias primas y otras. Esa es la épica lucha en que nos hemos visto envueltos cuando estábamos haciendo tantas cosas, a gran parte de las cuales hemos tenido que renunciar transitoriamente, porque hay algo a lo que no hemos renunciado ni renunciaremos jamás: a la esperanza. A esa no hemos renunciado ni renunciaremos jamás y por eso luchamos, por nuestra convicción de que atravesaremos estos tiempos difíciles y volveremos a crear capacidades para llevar adelante nuestro programa y continuar con la obra de la Revolución; pero ahora lo importante, lo fundamental es salvar la Revolución y salvar el socialismo en nuestro país (APLAUSOS).
Es por ello que nuestras poderosas fuerzas constructivas no se han desorganizado ni se han desintegrado. Las distintas fuerzas constructivas del MICONS y de los demás organismos, el contingente “Blas Roca”, la UNECA, los constructores del Poder Popular, las microbrigadas, los constructores de otros organismos, como los del MINAZ, no se han desintegrado, ni se han desorganizado, sino que organizadamente han pasado a otros frentes. Una gran parte de nuestros constructores, e incluso una parte de nuestros contingentes, pasaron a la agricultura organizadamente. No se ha disuelto un solo contingente, porque los necesitamos ahora en la agricultura y después donde hagan falta.
Mantenemos organizadas nuestras fuerzas estén donde estén, y procuramos que estén allí donde puedan ser más útiles al país en estos momentos en que nos falta combustible, piezas, recursos, materiales de construcción, muchas cosas. No se desorganizan ni podemos permitir que se desorganicen nuestras fuerzas.
Otras continúan en la construcción —una parte—, en obras muy priorizadas, en obras fundamentales.
Casi todas las obras sociales hemos tenido que suspenderlas y mantenemos las fuerzas constructivas en las obras fundamentales, en las obras priorizadas, como las aquí señaladas: obras como el turismo, obras de la industria biotecnológica y farmacéutica, obras del programa alimentario, tratando de distribuir los escasos recursos con que contamos en estos programas priorizados.
Ustedes saben las dificultades con que se trabaja, ustedes saben bien las dificultades con que estamos trabajando en este momento. Las veces que nos ha faltado una pieza, o las veces que nos ha faltado el combustible, o las veces que nos ha faltado materiales en la construcción directamente o en la industria de materiales, y, sin embargo, vean cómo estamos haciendo cosas. Y podemos seguirlas haciendo y podemos hacer mejores cosas todavía en la misma medida en que perfeccionemos los mecanismos de organización y utilización de los recursos humanos y materiales disponibles; en la misma medida en que coordinemos estrechamente el esfuerzo del sector de la industria de materiales y el sector de las construcciones directas, y en que cada litro de combustible, cada pieza y cada recurso de que dispongamos lo situemos allí donde tiene que estar, para que ninguna de las obras priorizadas fundamentales para el avance, para la supervivencia, para la solución de los problemas fundamentales y para el desarrollo del país se paren.
Vean lo que podemos hacer. Aquí tenemos dos ejemplos: allá, al fondo, aquella bella industria de la biotecnología y de la producción de medicamentos construida por el contingente “Ñico López”, en un tiempo récord (APLAUSOS); y aquí, al lado, otra obra que se está construyendo en un tiempo también récord, proyectada y prácticamente construida en apenas dos años, está terminándose ya. Ese es un magnífico ejemplo de lo que somos capaces de hacer en el período especial.
He visitado estas obras, no hace mucho estuve en esta, ya al anochecer, y ahí han estado trabajando los hombres día y noche ( Del público le preguntan que los hombres de qué lugar). De Granma una gran parte (RISAS Y APLAUSOS). Claro, me refiero al glorioso contingente Desembarco del “Granma”, constituido principalmente por compatriotas de la provincia de Granma (EXCLAMACIONES Y APLAUSOS); los vi trabajar, soy testigo de su esfuerzo, desde que tuvieron que reconstruir una casa y remodelarla para hacer una bella escuela con la cual sustituir otra que estaba en el área donde iban las construcciones hasta que en días recientes los vi ya en tareas prácticamente de terminación, lo cual me ha permitido llegar a una opinión y tener un concepto muy alto de este colectivo de trabajadores, igual que del colectivo del contingente “Ñico López” (APLAUSOS),
Nos alegra mucho hoy conmemorar este día en las proximidades de estas obras, sin olvidar el esfuerzo realizado en otras, porque hay otras muchas obras iguales que estas, que están avanzando en esta área del polo científico y de la industria farmacéutica, igual que se hacen y se llevan a cabo obras importantes en todo el país. Para citar un ejemplo oriental, voy a referirme a la presa del Cauto, terminada con grandes esfuerzos; a la fábrica de refinar aceite, que le ahorra al país millones de dólares, construida en tiempo récord en la provincia de Santiago de Cuba, y a otras obras que se van terminando: a veces es una fábrica de hacer fish sticks, como les llaman —no tenemos otro nombre para llamarlos, son productos de la industria alimenticia a base de pescado—, o para producir salchichas o butifarras sin tripa, y otras obras.
En ese tipo de construcciones, tenemos concentrado el esfuerzo: en obras del programa alimentario, del turismo, de la biotecnología y la industria farmacéutica. Hay obras industriales importantes en las que estamos trabajando, como las del níquel y el acero; a veces son algunas obras sociales que es imprescindible terminar o viviendas, como las de la provincia de La Habana o en algunos sectores, donde resulta imposible hacer lo que se está haciendo sin construir viviendas. Al programa alimentario están asociadas determinadas cantidades de viviendas que hay que hacer. Es decir, no olvidamos las proezas que realizan nuestros constructores a lo largo y ancho del país, allá en Varadero y en otros polos turísticos; allá en Villa Clara y otros polos científicos, no las olvidamos, pero nos alegra estar aquí en presencia de dos ejemplos de cómo hay que trabajar en estos tiempos.
Quién sabe cuánta salud y cuánto bienestar saldrán de esa obra de la biotecnología y la industria farmacéutica que está al fondo; y aquí tenemos un centro de investigación electrónica, y no solo centro de investigación, sino centro de producción de equipos médicos de tecnología avanzada.
Durante años los compañeros del ICID trabajaron aquí en un grupo de casas. Había un Proyecto elefantiásico por allá por el este de La Habana, era un proyecto soviético, pero la verdad es que nadie sabía cuándo se iba a terminar. Este proyecto hecho por cubanos tiene la tercera parte de los metros cuadrados, y va a investigar más y a producir más que lo que iba a investigar y a producir aquel con tres veces más inversiones.
Aquí, en el polo científico, será un orgullo más el contar pronto con esta obra; como dentro de algunos meses tendremos el centro de Inmunología Molecular o de Anticuerpos Monoclonales, como le llaman, otra magnífica obra (Del público le dicen que lo está construyendo el contingente VI Congreso). Los felicito.
Más allá están las obras de la industria farmacéutica de formas terminadas, otro complejo de PPG, está también para allá —que se está terminando y ya están trabajando allí— el IPK, la planta tres de Meningo; de la misma forma que en días recientes ustedes mismos, los de Desembarco del “Granma”, terminaron el centro de Control y Registro de Medicamentos, también otros constructores —en este caso fueron los de CUBALSE— terminaron Virales, otra planta importante del Instituto “Finlay”, y así observamos qué impetuosamente trabajan aquí los constructores en este polo científico. No he enumerado todas las obras, porque no quiero ser demasiado extenso.
Produce una satisfacción especial ver lo que los cubanos podemos hacer en estos tiempos difíciles, y nos preguntamos, ¿habría otro pueblo en el mundo capaz de hacer lo que nosotros estamos haciendo, en las condiciones en que lo estamos haciendo? (EXCLAMACIONES DE: “¡No!”) De eso podemos estar absolutamente convencidos, y de eso podemos sentirnos orgullosos, de pertenecer a un pueblo como este, no importan los pusilánimes que puedan aparecer por ahí, las ratas que puedan aparecer por ahí. Siempre habrá pusilánimes, siempre habrá alguna rata, pero de esos ni nos acordamos, porque lo que vemos todos los días es el ejemplo de ustedes, lo que son ustedes y lo que significan ustedes; y lo vemos no solo en los constructores aquí en esta área y en todas partes, lo vemos en los investigadores, en los racionalizadores e innovadores, y lo vemos en los científicos, ¡lo vemos en los científicos (APLAUSOS), en lo que están haciendo y cómo lo están haciendo. Cuántos de estos científicos se trasladan kilómetros y kilómetros en bicicleta para ir y venir todos los días a su trabajo, científicos eminentes, ¿en qué país del mundo se puede ver eso?
Hace unos días estábamos en el acto del hospital “Hermanos Ameijeiras”, con los trabajadores, en el Día de la Medicina Latinoamericana, y allí conversé con un médico eminentísimo, especialista en cirugía maxilofacial, y me dice muy contento que todos los días —y es una eminencia— iba y venía de su casa al hospital en bicicleta, que le hacía bien y que era saludable aquello que estaba haciendo; pero yo me preguntaba, ¿en qué lugar del mundo nos encontramos una eminencia como esta, capaz de hacer eso? Solamente en este país, solamente en nuestra Revolución y solamente en nuestro socialismo, tan puro y tan digno (APLAUSOS).
Ya no hablo de los cientos de miles de obreros que se trasladan todos los días, no estoy hablando de trabajadores intelectuales, estoy hablando de eminencias que en nuestro país prestan, con toda la modestia del mundo y la mayor modestia del mundo, sus servicios.
Ahora en estos tiempos, todos tenemos que hacer un esfuerzo especial, la dirección del gobierno, los ministerios, para optimizar los recursos que tenemos. Ahora, por ejemplo, es muy apretada la situación con los combustibles, en los que gastamos alrededor del 40% de nuestros ingresos de exportación, cuando hace falta combustible para todo el plan de siembra de frío, hace falta combustible para todo el plan de siembra de tabaco, para todo el programa de siembra de arroz, el programa de siembra de caña; hace falta combustible para la zafra que se inicia, hace falta combustible para las construcciones, hace falta combustible para el transporte, hace falta combustible para la electricidad, y algunos de ellos, como el diesel, porque nuestros camiones y equipos lo que usan es el diesel, fundamentalmente, hay que estarlos distribuyendo casi a cuentagotas en cada uno de los programas. Ello, sin embargo, no debe servir nunca de pretexto o de justificación para que dejemos de hacer lo que podemos hacer, aun con esa gran escasez de combustible (APLAUSOS).
Ustedes han demostrado en estas obras lo que puede hacerse. De tal manera avanzamos que vamos liberando fuerzas. Uno de los problemas que me planteé fue: Bueno, qué nueva tarea les damos a estos constructores del ICID, que son fuertes, sobre todo, en construcción civil. Hay mucha fuerza concentrada en este polo de la ciencia, la biotecnología y la industria farmacéutica. Dije: ¿Hay alguna obra donde quepa toda la fuerza que concluye su obra en el ICID? Y entonces me puse a meditar y me di cuenta de que cerca de aquí, sin que tengan que mudarse de campamento, hay un gran centro turístico en desarrollo, donde hay que construir cientos de habitaciones en forma de cabañas (EXCLAMACIONES Y APLAUSOS).
Me dijeron: “Ya en enero o en febrero terminan el ICID.” Y yo dije: “A este colectivo de Desembarco del ‘Granma’ hay que darle una tarea”, no va a ser de inmediato en el campo de la ciencia o de la biotecnología, pero es posible en un centro que debe producir muchos millones de dólares en divisa convertible para el país cada año. Pueden ir hasta en bicicleta; pero, bueno, es tan corto el trayecto, está tan próximo que es mínimo el combustible para trasladarlos allí —no digo que lo hagan a pie, porque los necesitamos a ustedes a pie de obra, construyendo a toda velocidad las cabañas que hay que construir para tener listo eso.
Allí hay una fuerza de la UNECA que va a seguir trabajando, puede ser que simultáneamente trabajen las dos fuerzas hasta que se abran nuevos frentes para la UNECA en la Ciudad de La Habana —la UNECA está construyendo obras del turismo—, pero inicialmente trabajarán las dos fuerzas allí.
Si ellos tienen que trasladarse a remodelaciones, como las del Habana Libre o el Riviera, o a otras construcciones, tienen que concentrarse allí, porque tenemos que seguir el principio de que esas obras hay que terminarlas en tiempo récord para que empiecen a producir inmediatamente, en tanto hay que invertir capital allí, hay que invertir recursos en materiales, en equipos, en combustible, en todo, antes de que empiecen a producir.
Si ustedes terminan una parte en “Marina Hemingway” y se empieza a utilizar, en un año estamos ya utilizándolo. Me parece que es una buena obra para mantener organizados y unidos a los constructores.
No me gusta la dispersión de los constructores, aunque a veces no queda otro remedio que dispersarse —el contingente “Ñico López” ha tenido que trabajar en distintos lugares, puesto que no hay una sola obra que los pueda absorber a todos—; pero esta obra de que hablo puede absorber al contingente Desembarco del “Granma” completo, y la tenemos aquí cerquita, cerca del campamento donde se albergaron para hacer esta obra. Es muy importante recorrer el mínimo de distancia todos los días para ir a trabajar. Al no haber otra obra de inmediato en que emplear toda esta fuerza y de más beneficio para la economía del país, aquella es donde más racionalmente la podemos utilizar. Eso es lo que tenemos que hacer con todas las fuerzas.
Para los obreros de la construcción en activo, que cada obra sea importante, que cada obra sea fundamental, sea cual sea el tipo de obra. No podemos darnos el lujo de invertir la energía, el tiempo, el combustible y los materiales en obras secundarias, sino en este tipo de obras.
Sí, sufrimos enormemente por todos los programas que hemos tenido que reducir muchísimo, sufrimos enormemente por todas las cosas que nos proponíamos hacer, sobre todo para el bienestar directo de la población, como los programas de viviendas, que no podemos mantenerlos en este momento; pero nos satisface ver el fruto del trabajo de ustedes, nos satisface ver que están trabajando cada vez mejor y que son cada vez más eficientes.
Todavía hay un enorme campo para la eficiencia, para la organización óptima del trabajo en las construcciones. Por experiencia de otros países, vemos que todavía en materia de organización se puede hacer más y mejor, aun en medio de las dificultades de todos los días y de las escaseces de todos los días.
Tenemos que apoderarnos de la mejor experiencia internacional en materia de construcciones, porque con el espíritu de ustedes, la capacidad de trabajo de ustedes, el continuo progreso en los conocimientos de ustedes, unidos a una organización óptima en la construcción, podemos lograr lo que no logre nadie en materia de construcciones.
Y si era muy importante el trabajo de los constructores, porque siempre he pensado que la construcción es la más básica de todas las ramas, puesto que sin construcción no hay industria, sin construcción no hay agricultura, sin construcción no hay desarrollo social, no hay termoeléctrica, no hay presas, no hay industria del níquel, no hay industria del acero, no hay escuelas, no hay hospitales, no hay viviendas, no hay nada, sin constructores no hay nada; y si la construcción era muy importante en épocas normales, la construcción es más importante todavía en el período especial, porque es un esfuerzo que va directo al pulmón, como se diría popularmente, al pulmón de la economía y al pulmón de las necesidades más urgentes, más vitales de nuestro país en estos instantes (APLAUSOS).
Deben tener ustedes conciencia de eso, de la enorme importancia que tiene hoy, para salvar a la Revolución y salvar el socialismo, para salvar la patria, cada ladrillo, cada bloque que ustedes colocan, cada paletada de hormigón que ustedes emplean en las construcciones; la importancia que tiene cada minuto, cada segundo de su trabajo; la importancia de la calidad que tiene lo que están haciendo, y eso no lo había mencionado: en materia de calidad, en las construcciones hemos progresado extraordinariamente en los últimos años.
En las energías de ustedes, en el esfuerzo de ustedes descansa una parte muy importante del éxito y de la victoria en esta épica batalla que estamos librando.
Hoy los constructores están en la primera trinchera, en la primera línea de la salvación de la patria, y nos satisface, nos alegra y nos hace felices pensar que contamos con un ejército aguerrido y heroico de constructores, que son dignos seguidores de Armando Mestre, compañero del “Granma”, compañero de la Revolución, que ha seguido junto a nosotros en el espíritu de ustedes todos estos años (APLAUSOS PROLONGADOS), ¡y por ello, con el más profundo reconocimiento, felicito hoy a esos heroicos soldados de la patria que son los constructores!
¡Socialismo o Muerte!
¡Patria o Muerte!
Obama, Venezuela and Cuba: The Same Policy
| March 31, 2015 | 8:08 pm | Cuba, Venezuela | No comments
MONCADA LECTORES (blog) Obama, Venezuela and Cuba: The Same Policy Esteban Morales
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In actual fact, there is nothing inconsistent in the US stating its intention to restore relations with Cuba, while rolling out an aggressive escalation against Venezuela and going as far as declaring Venezuela an imminent threat to US national security.
Both actions are part of the same policy, because Obama has not yet taken a strategic decision regarding US policy towards Cuba, only a tactical one. These are only different tactics to deploy the aggressive US policy. With Cuba he is willing to do it with the carrot, in the case of Venezuela, with the stick. Obama is trying to cater to several needs with his attitude toward Venezuela, which seems in contradiction with the position taken toward Cuba.
-Obama is compelled to counter the internal right that opposes the new political agenda toward Cuba. -Obama is trying to win the hemisphere over into accepting both variants of his policy. And thus to affect the unity achieved in the case of Cuba, as in that of Venezuela.
-Obama wants to take advantage of the popularity that his attitude toward Cuba has earned him, to drop it on Venezuela.
-Obama is trying to escape the demand of the hemisphere that asked not only that he soften his attitude toward Cuba, but to finally come to terms with the island; and accept it as a definite reality, as the hemisphere has accepted it.
-Obama does not yet accept that Cuba is here to stay. As with China which produced the “Ping pong war” with the policy of Nixon. -Obama wants to project an image of strength, which seems to be his favorite option to rebuild hemispheric relations.
-Obama wants to maintain his strategy in the case of Cuba, so that this will also serve his strategic purposes with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Obama overestimates his strength to overcome what a setback the loss of its formerly “safe backyard” would mean for the empire. In fact, he has already lost it. In the struggle now being waged Obama realizes that the losses would be strategic, because other powers playing as opponents, such as China and Russia, are moving quickly to build relationships in the hemisphere that the United States still believes it owns.
However, not even Europe has gone along on the Venezuela issue. And on Cuba, Europe has its own strategy. Although it resembles strategic intentions of the United States a lot, Europe is trying to play to its own advantage, approaching the island with similar intentions, but looking at results that would not be for the United States. What has the US gained with its aggressive attitude toward Venezuela? Losing a war before starting to fight it. Because not even its allies in the hemisphere are willing to enroll in a battle against Venezuela: a battle which is already lost. Solidarity –one can say global—with Venezuela is working. The US Ambassador to the recent meeting of the OAS looked extremely ridiculous trying to say it had all been a misunderstanding; and practically pulling back the resolution against Venezuela. Rarely in history is a power like the United States seen making a fool of itself as Obama has with Venezuela.
Still, there is a great benefit for all as a result of the aggression of the United States against Venezuela: First, it shows the strength of the changes that are occurring in the former “safe backyard”; second, it shows the inability of the current US foreign policy to meet its objectives. These are facts that may bring relief to some. But Obama still has the challenge –I would say historic– for his diplomacy, of proving whether actually it will be able to negotiate with Cuba on an equal footing and with respect for the sovereignty of the Island. We can predict that Obama should expect a real beating in the April Summit in Panama. Havana, March 21, 2015
LA MISMA POLITICA: Obama, Venezuela y Cuba
Esteban Morales UNEAC MONCADA
En realidad no es nada incoherente que Estados Unidos haya declarado su intención de restablecer relaciones con Cuba y al mismo tiempo se vea enrolado en una escalada agresiva contra Venezuela. Al punto de declarar a esta última como una inminente amenaza para la seguridad nacional norteamericana.
Ambas acciones forman parte de la misma política, porque aun Obama no ha tomado ninguna decisión estratégica respecto a la política hacia Cuba, sino solo táctica.
Solo se trata de tácticas diferentes para desplegar la agresividad de la política norteamericana. Con Cuba está dispuesto a hacerlo con zanahoria, en el caso de Venezuela, con el garrote.
Trata Obama de llenar varias necesidades con esa actitud hacia Venezuela, que parece una contradicción con la posición adoptada con Cuba
-Obama se ve obligado a contrarrestar a la derecha interna que se opone a la nueva agenda de política hacia Cuba.
-Obama trata de poner a prueba al hemisferio para que acepte ambas variantes de política. Y así afectar la unidad lograda, tanto en el caso de Cuba, como en el de Venezuela.
-Obama quiere aprovechar la popularidad que le ha granjeado su actitud hacia Cuba, para descargarla sobre Venezuela.
-Obama trata de escapar a la solicitud del hemisferio, que le pidió, no solo suavizar su actitud hacia Cuba, sino terminar de entenderse con la Isla, aceptándola como una realidad definitiva, tal y como el hemisferio la ha aceptado.
-Obama no acepta aun que Cuba llego para quedarse. Como la China que produjo la” Guerra del pim pom” con la política de Nixon.
-Obama quiere aun dar imagen de fuerza, que parece ser su variante preferida para reconstruir sus relaciones hemisféricas.
-Obama quiere mantener su estrategia en el caso de Cuba, para que esta también le sirva para sus propósitos estratégicos con América Latina y el Caribe.
-Obama sobredimensiona su fuerza para superar el descalabro que significaría para el imperio la pérdida de su otrora “traspatio seguro”. Traspatio que de hecho ya ha perdido.
En esa lucha que libra ahora, Obama se percata de que las perdidas serian estratégicas, porque otras potencias, que le hacen la contrapartida, como China y Rusia, se mueven con velocidad para entablar relaciones en el hemisferio, que Estados Unidos cree aun que le pertenece.
Sin embargo, ni Europa le ha seguido la corriente con Venezuela. Y con Cuba, juega su propia estrategia. Que aunque se parece mucho a la intención estratégica de Estados Unidos con Cuba, trata de sacar su propio provecho, acercándose a la Isla con intenciones similares, pero buscando resultados que no serían para Estados Unidos.
¿Qué ha sacado Estados Unidos de la actitud agresiva hacia Venezuela? Perder una guerra antes de comenzar a librarla. Porque ni aun sus aliados, que el hemisferio tampoco le falta, están dispuestos a enrolarse dentro de una batalla, contra Venezuela, que de hecho ya está pérdida.
La solidaridad, se puede decir, mundial hacia Venezuela, está funcionando y se vio sumamente ridículo el Embajador de Estados Unidos ante la reciente reunión de la OEA, tratando de decir que todo había sido un mal entendido. Y prácticamente echando hacia atrás la resolución contra Venezuela.
Pocas veces en la historia a una potencia como Estados Unidos se le ve haciendo el ridículo que ha hecho Obama con Venezuela.
De todos modos, hay un gran provecho para todos como resultado de la agresividad asumida por Estados Unidos con Venezuela; pues, por un lado, prueba la fortaleza de los cambios que están ocurriendo en el antes “traspatio seguro”, mientras que al mismo tiempo, muestra la incapacidad que exhibe la actual política exterior norteamericana para cumplir sus objetivos. Algo con lo que muchos se pueden sentir aliviados.
Pero aún le queda a Obama el desafío, yo diría histórico, para su diplomacia, de si realmente será capaz de negociar con Cuba en igualdad de condiciones y con respeto para la soberanía de la Isla.
Por lo que podemos augurar que a Obama le espera una verdadera paliza en la Cumbre de abril en Panamá.
La Habana, 21 de marzo del 2015
South Africa: COSATU-aligned public service unions call on Government to increase its offer
| March 31, 2015 | 8:02 pm | Africa, International, Labor | No comments

Statement by COSATU Public Service Unions, 24 March 2015

The seven COSATU Public Service unions, namely, NEHAWU, SADTU, POPCRU, DENOSA, SAMA, SASAWU and PAWUSA together with other unions admitted in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) submitted demands to the employer on 30th September 2015. Our demands included, amongst others:

• 15% salary increase for all employees

• A single-term agreement

• R3000.00 housing allowance in the absence of a Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) which must be delinked from each spouse employed in the public service

• 10 leave working days for parents with children with disabilities

• Bursary Scheme for government employees’ children

These negotiations have been very slow as a result of employer delaying tactics. The current agreement expires on the 31 March 2015 therefore we are left with literally 6 (six) days to its expiry.

The parties at the PSCBC agreed during the pre-negotiations process that the base from which the negotiations will start from will be 5,8%, based on the year-on-year CPI of the 2013/14 Financial Year. The employer tabled their opening bid as 5% increase which was against the spirit of the pre-negotiations meeting. Labour rejected their initial offer on the basis that the employer was reneging on the undertaking of the pre-negotiations process. They later came with a proposal of 5,8% salary increase across the board for the Financial year 2015/16 within a multi-term agreement of 3 (three) years.

On the 3rd of March 2015, labour moved from 15% salary increase across the board to a 10% increase and moved from R3000.00 housing allowance to R1500.00. We were shocked and disturbed when the employer reversed its offer to 4,8% claiming that it was a projected average CPI for the 2015/16 financial year.

After much delay from the employer the negotiations came to a halt in the early hours of Monday, 23 March 2015. The meeting went on until 02h30 in the morning with Labour insisting on negotiating for a better deal, an approach that was met with an arrogant and intransigent attitude of the employer. The employer came back and increased their meagre 4,8% offer with a shameful 0,2 to make it 5% for the current Financial Year and CPI plus 0,5% in the following two Financial Years. Labour rejected that offer.

It was then agreed in Council that the employer must go back to its principals for a revised and a better offer as Labour is still on 10% increase across the board. Parties to the PSCBC will meet again on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 to continue with the negotiations.

It must be noted that Labour is fully committed to engage the employer seven days a week until the settlement is reached. At the same time, as Labour, we will be engaging with our members to comprehensively engage with them on what is transpiring in the negotiations.

We further call on government to show the same commitment to this process.

Capitalism, Environmental Crisis, and Socialism

 – from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:


A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea-level rise.

Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity… (Washington Post, March 16)

The latest findings on climate change reported by the Washington Post mark another step on the path toward environmental catastrophe. Apart from philistines, apocalyptists, and other celebrants of ignorance, people understand that the growing degradation of our planet promises pain in the short run and disaster beyond. When humans first emerged on the planet, the environment, the climate, and other features of the natural world presented seemingly insurmountable obstacles to survival. The pre-history and early history of humankind was a tenuous struggle to construct bulwarks against natural calumny and a desperate effort to exploit nature’s meager offerings.

Nearly two hundred thousand years after the appearance of homo sapiens, circumstances have turned full circle. Humanity has found the means to dominate nature (though far from in a humanitarian way), but with seemingly little regard for the sustainability of the human project. Today, the formerly vulnerable species threatens to render the earth inhospitable to itself, a kind of mindless suicide by the only species that genuinely claims to own a mind.

For those determined to avoid this suicidal path, locating the cause and finding solutions is an urgent task.

Is “Progress” or “Growth” the Enemy?

It is fashionable in some quarters to locate the cause of the environmental crisis in the insatiable lust for “progress,” a term as elusive as it is imprecise. Harking back to the sixties and the “counter-culture” era, many envision a world where consumerism and the fetish for the new are banished in favor of a simpler life style and intellectual, spiritual, or artistic values. There is much to admire in a commitment to modest consumption and arrested acquisitiveness.

However admirable this may be as a personal choice, it is extremely short-sighted social policy. Certainly, the upper-middle classes of the developed countries could benefit the environment by exiting the insane competition for larger houses, more luxurious cars, and the latest techno-gizmo. Unquestionably, the mindless quest for more and better is neither admirable nor sustainable. But before we condemn progress or growth, we must recognize that more is at stake in rejecting progress or growth than thwarting rampant consumerism in the US and Europe or the vulgar excesses of the upper classes.

Apart from consumption madness, billions of the world’s population lack even the basics of sustainable life. They barely survive in the midst of poverty, disease, and inadequate shelter, food and water. Until the material means to rectify the sorry, inhuman plight of billions is available, progress and growth must be an imperative. To callously deny them a future out of scorn for hyper-consumerism is petty and, paradoxically, selfish. They cannot be made the scapegoat for Western privileged waste and excess. Those who so easily condemn progress or growth are shamefully blind to the inequities of class, race, and nationality.


Prospective solutions come in many forms and many shades. Individual solutions are useful and defensible provided that they do no deny the disadvantaged the opportunity to achieve standards of living reasonably commensurate with the standards of the more privileged. For example, asking people without access to modern appliances to curtail usage of inefficient technologies is both irrational and unjust. Equality of sacrifice in the face of vast economic inequities cannot be the solution to environmental degradation. While recycling, re-use, and other personal conservation projects are necessary and meaningful, they are incapable of sufficiently slowing the global expansion and exhaustion of resources. Nor do individual, personal solutions offset the major sources of environmental destruction: corporations and governments.

Conventional policy solutions cluster around market-based and regulatory approaches to the environmental crisis.

Most environmental activists see the failure of either market-based or regulatory measures as a failure of political will. They believe that politicians and political movements have yet to recognize the dire consequences we face by ignoring the environmental crisis. While this may be true, it fails to recognize the acute limitations of market-based and regulatory solutions and the impossibility of their effectiveness in a global capitalist economy.

The political will is not absent because of ignorance, but because the political system is owned and nourished by the capitalists. Moreover, the global economy– overwhelmingly a capitalist economy– is fueled by profits and profits alone. And profits are sustained and expanded by turning everything material or immaterial into a commodity. As a commodity, nature’s resources hold no value other than what can be attached to the pursuit of profit.

It is the exploitation of human and natural resources– labor and nature’s bounty– that is the grist for profit’s mill. And capitalism puts profits ahead of nature as well as ahead of people. Both history and the logic of capitalist accumulation and expansion demonstrate the inevitability of waste and destruction. Only when environmental degradation impedes the process of accumulation and profit expansion will the capitalist system respond to the crisis; environmental scientists tell us that will be too late.

And that is precisely the point acknowledged by Naomi Klein in her recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Klein’s anti-capitalism, like so many versions associated with the social democratic, soft-left, has been somewhat fuzzy, vacillating between rejecting the neo-liberal incarnation of capitalism and something elusive, but more daring. But her current thinking is sharper, though still short of an endorsement of a coherent vision of socialism. She concedes: “But because we have waited as long as we have, and we now need to cut our emissions as deeply as we need to, we now have a conflict not just with neoliberalism, but a conflict with capitalism because it challenges the growth imperative.” (quoted in Monthly Review, Notes from the Editors, March, 2015). For this, Klein has been criticized widely by her liberal readers still anchored in fealty to capitalism.

The editors of Monthly Review perceptively point out that “Klein’s argument here is irrefutable. To be sure, in criticizing neoliberalism for removing the tools needed to address climate change she deftly avoids the issue of whether capital as a system could ever have seriously mitigated the problem.” (op. Cit.)

Capital cannot mitigate the problem.

The MR editors go on to persuasively argue:

Klein is realistic and radical enough to realize that her recognition of this necessity, together with her readiness to act on it, puts her and the entire left climate movement that she represents in conflict with capital as a system—and not just with its most virulent form of neoliberalism. It is, as she says, a “two stage argument,” and we are now in the second stage. There is no avoiding the fact that the logic of capital accumulation must give way if we are to have a reasonable chance of saving civilization and humanity. (op. Cit.)

For “the entire left climate movement” to move beyond individual solutions, market-based answers, regulation, rejection of neo-liberalism, and even capitalism, the movement must define and embrace another goal. What would it be?

Only a system that will replace the logic of profit-before-all with the broad interests of humanity can answer the question. Only a system that can supplant the anarchy of production and distribution with rational planning could count as an answer. Only a system that can substitute forward-looking public ownership for individual short-term self-interest will cope with the crisis. And only a system that erases the existing extreme inequalities associated with capitalism and imperialism can meet our need to bring social justice to the disadvantaged.

As reluctant as much of the left is to utter the word, the answer is quite simply: socialism.

The Unseen Elephant in the Room
Lost on most of the environmental movement, including the “left climate movement,” is the role of imperialism in stoking the environmental crisis. According to Wikipedia:

The United States Department of Defense is one of the largest single consumers of energy in the world, responsible for 93% of all US government fuel consumption in 2007… In FY 2006, the DoD used almost 30,000 gigawatt hours (GWH) of electricity, at a cost of almost $2.2 billion. The DoD’s electricity use would supply enough electricity to power more than 2.6 million average American homes. In electricity consumption, if it were a country, the DoD would rank 58th in the world, using slightly less than Denmark and slightly more than Syria (CIA World Factbook, 2006). The Department of Defense uses 4,600,000,000 US gallons… of fuel annually, an average of 12,600,000 US gallons… of fuel per day.

Add to this total the electricity and fuel usage of the rest of NATO, Japan, Russia, The Peoples Republic of China as well as those belligerents constantly at war with imperialism and you have uncountable and socially unnecessary waste of natural resources as well as ecological destruction.

Count the hundreds of military bases– outposts for imperialism– that devour resources better employed in a war to protect the environment.

Add to this total the unceasing pollution, the destruction of natural and man-made structures, the spoilage of land and water, etc. that accompany the endless use of devastating weapons.

The full effects of militarism and imperial aggression stagger the imagination.

Pentagon estimates of the production and maintenance of one weapons system alone– the F-35– have been reduced to over three-quarters of a trillion dollars– an enormous unmentioned cost to the environment.

Unfortunately, far too many environmentalists are more cognizant of the environmental damage of littering than they are aware of the enormous threat to the environment of imperial design and endless war. Joining the anti-imperialist, anti-war movement, fighting for an end to militarism, is potentially a far more effective way to reverse the ecological wounds that threaten the planet than the entire bundle of liberal and social democratic panaceas that currently dominate the discussion in the environmental movement: Prius, yes, but Predator drones, no.

As the environmental movement matures, it must embrace the socialist option. It must stand resolutely against militarism and its threat to the environment. No other stance will deflect “civilization” from its determined march toward self destruction. Authentic, militant environmentalism comes with partisanship for socialism and anti-imperialism.

Zoltan Zigedy

5mn Venezuelans sign petition against US aggression & interference
| March 30, 2015 | 9:32 pm | Action, political struggle, Venezuela | No comments


Published time: March 30, 2015 23:32
Reuters/Miraflores Palace

Reuters/Miraflores Palace

Rejecting what they see as interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, over five million people across the country have signed a petition demanding that the US president repeals his executive order that declared Caracas an extraordinary security threat.

“We have collected more than 5 million signatures and we want to call on the Venezuelan people to keep on going to reach 10 million,” Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of Caracas and coordinator of the initiative told Venezolana de Television.

For the past week plazas, government offices and buildings opened their doors seeking to collect some 10 million signatures against Washington’s policy towards the Latin American country.

“Our intention is to deliver the collected signatures to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, as clear evidence that the people of Venezuela reject the crude interference in our internal affairs,” Rodriguez added.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has set a goal of collecting at least 10 million signatures – about a third of the country’s total population – ahead of the Summit of the Americas taking place April 10-11 in Panama, also called on people to continue their support.

“Let us continue supporting the fatherland. Signatures are being collected at public squares and door-to-door. We have reached 5 million and we will collect 10 million,” Maduro said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Obama issued an executive order to impose further sanctions against Venezuela and declared the country an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security.” The sanctions target seven individuals accused by Washington of alleged human rights violations and “public corruption.”

In response, the Venezuelan lawmakers granted Maduro a right to rule by decree till the end of the year to defend the country’s integrity and sovereignty against “imperialist threats” from the US government.

Maduro’s crusade against US interference in his country’s affairs has received wide support across the Latin American region. The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, joined the campaign launched by the Venezuelan government and signed a petition which said that “Venezuela is not a threat.”

“This is not about being for or against a government, it is to ensure respect for international law,” Correa said last week. “We are collecting million signatures to tell Obama that’s enough, Latin America has already changed.”

Response to “Over 5 million signatures gather against imperialist decree”
| March 30, 2015 | 8:04 pm | Imperialism, political struggle, Venezuela | No comments
By A. Shaw
The petition for the repeal of the March 9th US imperialist executive order that threatens the sovereignty of Venezuela has so far gathered a staggering 5 million signatures in only 20 days of signature-collecting.
Jorge Rodriguez, master political consultant and campaign manager, is chief of the signature-collecting operation.
At the beginning of the operation, the staff would have been pleased if the campaign gathered only million signatures. Then a million signatures poured into campaign HQ almost instantly. Emboldened by early success, the campaign set a new goal of seven million signatures. In only five days, the tally leaped from one to three million. The campaign then raised the goal to ten million.Today, five million signatures have been gathered.
The sovereignty of the state in democratic circumstances is the exclusive right, delegated by the body of citizens entitled to vote, to exercise supreme power over a people and territory.
In other words, the state exclusively exercises supreme power over a country.
When the exercise of power is not exclusive, two or more states somehow run the country.
The March 9 executive order signed by Obama  signifies that his bourgeois regime in Washington presumes to exercise supreme power over Venezuela. The U.S. executive order attempts to reduce the emerging proletarian state in Venezuela under Maduro  to a vassal state that serves and bows before the imperialist regime in Washington under Obama.
The body of Venezuelan citizens entitled to vote under pristine democratic circumstances delegated by free and fair election, held April 14, 2013, the exclusive right to exercise supreme power over Venezuela to the Maduro Government, not to the rogue regime under Obama..
The rogue regime in Washington under Obama  attempts to usurp the democracy of the Venezuelan people and the sovereignty of the Venezuelan state
The slimy Obama regime presumes to punish Venezuelan officials if they refuse to exercise state power in Venezuela as the Obama regime in the USA instructs .
The five million signatures of the Venezuelan people, so far collected, testify that Venezuelans are telling Obama and his rogue regime: