Category: Cuba
Event in honor of Fidel Castro held in Greece

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Event in honor of Fidel Castro held in Greece
Photo: Embcuba Grecia.

THESSALONIKI- A political event in honor of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz was held on Friday in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki. The event, which was co-organised by the local Greek-Cuban Association of Friendship and Solidarity and the Greek Committee for International Détente and Peace, was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Greece Ms. Zelmys María Domínguez Cortina and the Embassy’s councellor Mr. Jose Oriol Marrero Martinez

Major speakers at the event were the Professor of Contemporary History at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Giorgos Margaritis, the Secretary General of the Greek-Cuban Association of Friendship and Solidarity Nikos Mottas and the Secretary General of the Greek Commitee for International Detente and Peace Nikos Zokas
A video-tribute to Fidel, including part of his historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, was projected at the closing of the ceremony. 
The event was attended by representatives of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), such as the member of the Central Committee Theodosis Konstantinidis and the KKE member of Parliament Giannis Delis.
KKE Gen. Secretary Koutsoumbas met with Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in Athens

Saturday, April 22, 2017

KKE Gen. Secretary Koutsoumbas met with Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in Athens

Info from / Translation: In Defense of Communism.
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas met this morning with the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla at the Party’s headquarters in Perissos, Athens. The meeting took place within the framework of Minister Parrilla’s two-day visit in Greece.
After the meeting, Dimitris Koutsoumbas made the following remarks:

“We had a very interesting meeting and discussion with the Foreign Minister of Cuba and member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba, as well as with the delegation of the Cuban Party which is visiting Greece these days. […] There was an update for the situation in Greece, here in the region of Europe, as well as about the situation in Cuba, in Latin America and for the situation in the world in general. We referred to the dangerous situations for peace which are being created in various parts of the world.
I informed Mr.Minister for the developments in the EU, the course of the economic crisis in our country and in the EU, as well as for the KKE policy as it is developing after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of Greece. We expressed our solidarity towards the people of Cuba, for their struggle for the country’s economic development, against the imperialist interventions, against the embargo, against all policies which make Cuba people’s life more difficult. On the same time, we expressed the need for development of our parties’ bilateral relations, but also our internationalist solidarity within the framework of the international meetings of the Communist and Workers Parties, of other regional meetings, for peace and progress in our countries, our regions, in the whole world. 
We will continue the discussion, the exchange of opinions, the solidarity and friendship between the KKE and the Communist Party of Cuba, mainly between the Greek and the Cuban people”.
From his side, Mr. Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla conveyed  Raul Castro’s greetings to the KKE and the Greek people. He informed about the efforts of the CP of Cuba for the socialist construction in his country as well as for the situation in the region, stating that he shares the concerns regarding the existing dangers about new wars and also about the negative role that international financial institutions and formations play. 
The Cuban Foreign Minister pointed out his government’s will to continue the dialogue with the government of the USA, within a framework of complete respect of each country and non-intervention in the internal politics of each other. Furthermore, he thanked the KKE for its solidarity towards the Cuban people and its struggle against the economic, commercial and financial blockade and generally for its support to the Cuban Revolution. Minister Parrilla stated that he is happy that he is in Greece and has the opportunity to acquire a first-hand impression of the Greek people and their struggle. 
Why an American went to Cuba for cancer care

20 April 2017

Judy Ingels

Cuba has faced more than 50 years of US sanctions. Now, for the first time, a unique drug developed on the communist island is being tested in New York state. But some American cancer patients are already taking it – by defying the embargo and flying to Havana for treatment.

Judy Ingels and her family are in Cuba for just six days. They have time to go sightseeing and try out the local cuisine. Judy, a keen photographer, enjoys capturing the colonial architecture of Old Havana.

And while she is in the country, Ingels, 74, will have her first injections of Cimavax, a drug shown in Cuban trials to extend the lives of lung cancer patients by months, and sometimes years.

By travelling to Havana from her home in California, she is breaking the law.

The US embargo against Cuba has been in place for more than five decades, and though relations thawed under President Obama, seeking medical treatment in Cuba is still not allowed for US citizens.

“I’m not worried,” Ingels says. “For the first time I have real hope.”

She has stage four lung cancer and was diagnosed in December 2015. “My oncologist in the United States says I’m his best patient, but I have this deadly disease.”

He does not know she is in Cuba. When she asked him about Cimavax, he had not heard of it.

“But we’ve done a lot of research – I’ve read good things,” Ingels says. Since January, Cimavax has been tested on patients in Buffalo, New York state, but it isn’t yet available in the US.

Ingels, her husband Bill and daughter Cindy are staying at the La Pradera International Health Centre, west of Havana. It treats mostly foreign, paying patients like Ingels, and with its pool complex, palm trees and open walkways, La Pradera feels more like a tropical hotel than a hospital.

This trip from their home in California, together with a supply of Cimavax to take back to the US, will cost the Ingels family more than $15,000 (£12,000).

Cimavax fights cancer by stimulating an immune response against a protein in the blood that triggers the growth of lung cancer. After an induction period, patients receive a monthly dose by injection.

It’s a product of Cuba’s biotechnology industry, nurtured by former President Fidel Castro since the early 1980s.

Ironically, Cuba’s biotech innovations can partly be explained by the US embargo – something Castro continually railed against. It meant Cuba had to produce the drugs it could not access or afford. And medications like Cimavax – low-tech products that could be administered in a rural setting – were developed to fit the Cuban context.

Now the industry employs around 22,000 scientists, technicians and engineers, and sells drugs in many parts of the world – but not in the US.

And although the Cubans will not reveal the cost of producing Cimavax, it is cheaper than other treatments.

For Cuba’s residents, all health care is free. One beneficiary is Lucrecia de Jesus Rubillo, 65, who lives on the fifth floor of a block of flats in the east of Havana

Last September she was given two or three months to live. What began as pain in Lucrecia’s leg, was diagnosed as stage-four lung cancer that had spread.

She had chemotherapy. “That was really very hard,” she says. “It gave me nausea, and it hurt. But my kids asked me to fight, so I did.”

After radiotherapy, Lucrecia began Cimavax injections. Now she is strong enough to walk up the five flights of stairs to her home, and her persistent cough has diminished. She feels better, more hopeful, and is thinking about what to do next.

“Perhaps I’ll go to Spain to visit my kid,” she says. “I feel happy, and I’m still dreaming of the future, but I also feel sadness. I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve died of cancer, and they never had the chance I’m having with these injections. I feel privileged.”

Her doctor is Elia Neninger, an oncologist at the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital in Havana. Neninger is one of the principal clinicians to trial Cimavax on patients since the 1990s.

“Lucrecia arrived incapacitated by her disease in a wheelchair,” Neninger remembers. “Now the tumour on her lung has disappeared, and the lesions on her liver aren’t there either. With Cimavax, she’s in a maintenance phase.”

In Cuba, specialists like Neninger do not talk about curing cancer – they talk about controlling it and transforming it into a chronic disease. She has treated hundreds of patients with Cimavax.

“I never thought I’d work on something that would improve the lives of so many people,” she says. “I have stage-four lung cancer patients who are still alive 10 years after their diagnosis.”

But mostly Cimavax is proven to extend life for months, not years. And it does not help everyone. In trials, around 20% of patients haven’t responded, Neninger says, often because the disease is very advanced, or they have associated illnesses that make treatment more difficult.

Nonetheless, Dr Kelvin Lee is impressed. He is the Chair of Immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, where the American trials of Cimavax are taking place.

It is the first time a Cuban medication has been trialled in the US, and required special permission because the embargo prohibits most collaboration and trade.

Cancer immunotherapy is getting more expensive in the US, Lee says. A cheap vaccine that can be administered at primary care level is very attractive. And he thinks it is possible that Cimavax could be used to prevent lung cancer, too.

“If we could vaccinate the high-risk smokers to prevent them from developing lung cancer, that would have an enormous public health impact both in the United States and worldwide.”

This has not been proven, however, and the initial US trials of Cimavax only began in January.

There is political uncertainty, too. On the campaign trail before his election, President Trump said he would reverse the thaw with Cuba that began under the Obama administration, unless there was change on the island, which is governed as a one-party state.

“Our demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people, and the freeing of political prisoners,” Trump said on the campaign trail in Miami.

So far, Cuba has not made it to the top of his in-tray. There is a large constituency of Americans who believe that Cuba does not deserve the kind of recognition and status the association with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute brings.

Find out more

But Lee thinks political arguments against US-Cuba collaboration are misplaced.

“The gas we put in our cars, the iPhones we tweet from, the shoes we buy our kids – all come from countries that the United States has fundamental differences with regarding women’s rights, freedom of speech, personal liberties. Yet that has never stopped us from working with them in areas that benefit the people in both countries.”

For now Bill Ingels, Judy’s husband, isn’t worried about falling foul of US authorities.

“I told them I was coming for educational purposes,” he says. “And I am learning about cancer and medication! I’m basically a very honest person, but if I have to, I will lie.”

Ingels will not know if the vaccine has made a difference until she has a scan in three months.

“We feel pretty positive, and we thought this would be a great experience and journey for my family to take together. It’s the first time I’ve felt up since I was diagnosed.”

Cindy Ingels, Judy’s daughter, is a nurse – she will administer the Cimavax shots to her mother back home in California.

“Even if she remains stable – that it maintains the tumour size, and it doesn’t worsen – we’d be happy with that,” she says. “If the tumour decreases from what it is now, that would really be a miracle.”

Cuba’s ‘Leftists’ and Annexationists: Why I Do Not Name Them

Cuba’s ‘Leftists’ and Annexationists: Why I Do Not Name Them

  • Members of the Ladies in White dissident group shout anti-communism slogans during a protest on International Human Rights Day, in Havana December 10, 2013.

    Members of the Ladies in White dissident group shout anti-communism slogans during a protest on International Human Rights Day, in Havana December 10, 2013. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 April 2017


Are Cuban “leftists” and annexationists working together to undermine the socialist island’s sovereignty?

On Jan. 6, 2017, I wrote “The End of Ideology in Cuba?” One of the main conclusions was: “I have always maintained that the most dangerous opposition to the Cuban Revolution comes from the so-called left, and not from the openly right Plattists [Annexationists].” This was followed up by a sequel, published on Jan.20, 2017, titled “Cuban ‘Left’ Opposition and Annexationists: Two Wings of the Same Eagle.”

Cuba Leading War in Global Health Solidarity

These two pieces found a highly receptive audience and were reproduced and widely circulated in both English and Spanish in many parts of the world, including, of course, Cuba. Nevertheless, they provoked a backlash in Havana/Miami among some “leftist” dissident websites and social media accounts. Several articles were published by them, while other self-proclaimed “Cuban experts” in Havana and the U.S. hid behind their social media by merely recommending the “leftist” articles, perhaps fearful of publicly and explicitly joining the fray. Their common main complaint has been that my articles do not name individuals. Some of their social media accounts even try to dictate to me in referring to the dissidents’ posts. They “are asking for names”; “Name names!” they demand. They are oblivious to the fact that by so doing they name themselves and that they do not and cannot in any way shame me into citing names.

In fact, from January to today, there has been no need to “name names,” as individual “leftist” counter-revolutionaries and their media named themselves in a series of website posts and social media. As the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it. If they feel targeted, this is their problem, not mine. They explicitly cite and oppose the two pieces while relying on their faithful readers through their online comments to elaborate these views and add personal attacks, all of which only serves to expose the fact that there is nothing “leftist” about them at all. Thus, they inadvertently provide more depth to my analysis. Even in this third installment today, I still do not name them. The idea is to concentrate on their ideological and political positions for polemical and educational purposes in defense of Cuba’s socialist culture.

Their other objection, in addition to not naming names, is the so-called lack of evidence. In striving to characterize the ideological and political orientation, the “left” counter-revolutionary positions are actually quoted in my articles. If they recognize themselves in these brief citations and paraphrasing, they come out of the woodwork and thus they themselves provide the evidence. Their frustration stems from the fact that these positions are finally out in public in the context of an analysis, and thus they can no longer conceal being fraudulent “leftists.” Notably, colleagues who are writers and bloggers in Cuba are also admirably providing similar writings.

Perhaps the most remarkable proof that there is no need to name names, as worms will surface after the rain, comes from Miami. On Feb. 2, 2017, the U.S.-financed CUBANET wrote a front-page article on the controversy provoked by my two columns: “The annexationist left: Arnold August is the new agent (alabardero) of castroism.” CUBANET is financed, through its own admission, as can be seen on its website, by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). As everybody knows, this is a CIA front for funneling funds into countries such as Cuba with the goal of regime change. CUBANET is openly right-wing and based on an annexationist policy. In this article, they actually come to the rescue and defense of the “leftists” in their campaign against my views. Thus, once again, this serves as ample evidence that, as the title proclaims, “Cuban ‘Left’ Opposition and Annexationists” are indeed “Two Wings of the Same Eagle.” Thank you, CUBANET! It is not at all surprising that the “leftists” are ignoring this CUBANET article – and trying desperately to divert attention to what they believe is the “exposure” in my articles to keep their supporters reined in, should any of them harbour doubts about the “leftist” nature of their websites and social media.

Youth Are Joining Cuba’s Communist Party in Drives

The “leftists” claim that my writings lack “theoretical knowledge.” However, if this is so, how can one explain that, even by omitting names, my pieces not only force the “leftists” to emerge from the shadows but also confirm without a doubt that the “leftists” and annexationists are two wings of the same American Eagle? This requires a certain amount of theoretical clarity, seeing that the basis of a political and ideological analysis has proven to be correct. The first article (“The End of Ideology in Cuba?”) especially is an example of writing based on revolutionary theory. Its publication resulted in what some commented on as being an original contribution to the current debate by pushing the counter-revolution into an ideological corner, thus explaining their desperate and ongoing outbursts.

Nevertheless, this approach always needs improving and updating as the situation evolves. It is imperative, however, to increase and broaden the deconstruction of the “leftist” dissident ideology and politics that challenge the Cuban socialist culture. I am determined, as are many Cuban colleagues, to unmask their farce. The latest somersaults of the “leftists” and their openly pro-U.S. annexationist apologists seem to indicate that our work is bearing fruit, which leads me to believe that this piece is very likely not the last in this series.

Arnold August, a Montreal-based author and journalist, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (1999), Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (2013) and a forthcoming book to be published this month. As a journalist he regularly contributes in English, Spanish and French to more than a dozen websites in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe. Twitter: Arnold_August FaceBook: Arnold August.


Thursday, April 13, 2017


13 APRIL 2017.
KIEV- Lysychansk City Court of Lugansk region considered criminal case on charges of Communists Tsymbal and Ryzhevol under Part 2 of Art. 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine and sentenced to 3 years in prison each. This sentenced term of improsinment is calculated from 29.09.2015- from the moment of their actual detention. And the term of detention from 29.09.2015 to 21.03.2017 is calculated at the rate of one day of detention for two days in prison bazing on the Criminal Code of Ukraine, credited in the term of punishment imposed by this sentence,
Using abovementioned rate time of imprisonment of Comrades Tsymbal and Ryzhevol is ended. But they are still imprisoned. So, they are now serving sentences longer than the defined by the sentence, which is unacceptable, so deprived of their liberty unlawfully.
At this time of three years term of the sentence is ended even without crediting one day of detention for two days in prison.
Nevertheless, complaint of our lawyers was rejected by the court. This extra imprisonment is contrary not only the legislation of Ukraine but to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and jurisprudence of the European Court for human Rights (see “Bozano v. France” of December 18, 1986, p. 60, “Khodorkovskiy v. Russia” number 5829/04 , p. 142, of May 31, 2011, “Khayredinov v. Ukraine” number 38717/04, para. 27-28, of October 14, 2010 etc.)
According to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights everyone has the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law decide its determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any against him criminal prosecution.
Currently, there is pure reason to believe that the detention of comrades Ryzhevol and Cymbal is arbitrary and consists a violation of Art. 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Communist Party of Ukraine, Central Committee
Department for the International Relations.
* * * 
ROME- In front of the capital’s best known landmark- the Colosseum- members from the Communist Party and the Front of the Communist Youth (FGC) demonstrated against the imperialist military aggression against Syria. The purpose of the demonstration was to show that in Italy there is another response to the war- different from the one of Gentiloni’s government (which has already declared its support to the US military intervention).
In its message, the Communist Party of Italy points out that this anti-imperialist stance must reach the working people and the youth of the country’s popular strata who have nothing to benefit from this war. This is a war pursued by the multinationals, the big monopolies from the energy sector.
* * * 
ATHENS- On Tuesday morning, a delegation of the KKE comprised by the member of the CC and MEP Kostas Papadakis and the member of the Central Committee’s International Department Nikos Seretakis, visited the Embassy of Venezuela and met with Ambassador Farid Fernandez. The purpose of the visit was to protest against the efforts of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela to ban the Communist Party of the country.
The KKE cadres underlined that it is unacceptable to use a law passed during the period of a police-state and anticommunist regime in order to prohibit the activity of the communists. They pointed out that this attempt against the CP of Venezuela (PCV) is taking place at a time when the deadlocks of the capitalist way of development in Venezuela are being manifested and the threats against the people and the popular movement are sharpening. The government of the country and the political forces which support or tolerate this attack bear big responsibilities, said the KKE members.
The Ambassador pledged to deliver the KKE protest to his government.
* * *
Source: KCNA.
PYONGYANG- A spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) answered the question put by KCNA on April 10 as regards the fact that the U.S. is pulling up the KPA over its measures for self-defence while shamelessly conniving at the provocative actions of its stooges.
Noting that the U.S., accustomed to groundlessly taking issue with the DPRK, went reckless in its anti-DPRK campaign even in the UN arena with riff-raffs involved, describing each military drill of the KPA as a “serious provocation” and “threat”, the spokesman said:
This reckless action of the U.S. hell-bent on the hostile policy toward the DPRK is not something new and surprising.
However, the double-dealing approach taken by the U.S. towards the provocative actions of its stooges against the DPRK can never be overlooked.
The south Korean puppet forces are now claiming that “they could strike the whole of the north” and that “they would deploy ballistic missile Hyonmu-2 with the firing range of 800km for an actual battle within this year” but the U.S. keeps mum about it as we expected.
This is a brazen-faced stance quite different from its reaction to the routine rocket firing exercise of the KPA.
Crystal clear is the reason why the U.S. is resorting to such mean gimmick. The U.S. seeks to stifle the DPRK by force at any cost, even discarding any decency and impartiality.
It shows the true colors of the U.S. styling itself the world’s “judge”.
Emboldened by their master’s unfair double standards and double-dealing attitude of making profound confusion of right and wrong, the south Korean puppet warmongers and the Japanese reactionaries, are now going reckless, not afraid of any punishment from the Heaven.
The U.S. should ponder over the serious consequences to be entailed by its self-righteous and unilateral actions against the DPRK.
The south Korean warmongers and the Japanese reactionaries had better stop behaving foolishly.
The brigandish double standards of the U.S. can never be pardoned.
* * *
Source: Granma.
HAVANA- The Young Communist League (UJC), founded on April 4, 1962, has seen its membership increase. The organization currently has 300,752 affiliates and over 33,000 grassroots committees. It continues to respond to today’s challenges by calling for increased participation in its aim to represent all Cuban youth
As part of activities to mark the 55th anniversary of the Young Communist League (UJC) this April 4, schools across the country held special assemblies, while membership cards were presented to new affiliates of the organization and outstanding students and young workers were also recognized.
Speaking during a press conference in Havana held prior to celebrations, Susely Morfa González, first secretary of the UJC National Committee, stated that “Every activity will have the color, joy and optimism which have characterized this organization for over half a century.”
Fifty five years after its founding, the UJC is proud to be composed of the vanguard of Cuba’s youth, and of the work it continues to do in support of children across the island.
The organization, created on April 4, 1962, has 300,752 members and more than 33,000 grassroots committees. Not only has the UJC’s membership increased, but the organization has made and continues to make concerted efforts to listen and respond to proposals by young people across all sectors.
“Despite the high figures, we want to keep adding more young people and ideas. What is more, we continue to strengthen the organization and its political processes, encouraging and motivating new generations to learn more about Cuba’s history in a more inclusive, humane and creative way,” stated Morfa.
Throughout its existence the UJC has worked to foster the value of making a useful contribution to society in Cuban youth. “There are those who question whether younger generations are conscious of their social role. I believe that they are,” noted the organization’s first secretary, who is also a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee.
Of the almost three million young Cubans living on the island, “I dare say that the immense majority are revolutionary,” Morfa added.
Many continually put their intellect and interests toward supporting the development of Cuban society something which “the organization attests to on a daily basis, every time we interact with them. There is broad representation of young people across all sectors of our economy, from where they contribute to our country’s development.”
One example, she noted, is the sugarcane sector, where young people represent 65% of the workforce. Similar levels of participation can be found in spheres such as public health and agriculture. “We recently met with young tobacco growers in Pinar del Río, whose efforts not only contribute to boosting the economy, but also preserving a tradition,” stated the first secretary.
Over the last 55 years, the UJC has also been consolidating the way in which institutions and ministries respond to the needs of the island’s youth, who are represented and participate on governing boards and commissions responsible for making decisions which will impact the new generations.
Susely Morfa described as exemplary the relationship between the UJC and National Association of Small Farmers, where the organization has over 8,000 members, as well as its efforts to protect and motivate young Cubans once they enter the workplace, whether it be in the state or private sector.
In 2016, the UJC organized various activities with young non-state sector workers, “where we saw many positive results, shared, exchanged, and listened to these young people. We were accompanied by representatives from the Party, government and relevant institutions in order to respond to queries by those starting out in this form of management,” she added.
This year the UJC has proposed “to continue supporting them (young private sector workers) to combat illegalities, fortify our patriotic symbols, explain to them their rights in this sector, and which ministries and organizations to approach with their queries.”
Among its priorities, the UJC is also proposing to intensify work with secretary generals of grassroots committees. “We cannot forget that although we are an organization that represents the youth, we are also a political organization, home to the vanguard. Therefore, we must continue to strengthen the functioning of our grassroots committees and to encourage youths to take on leadership roles.”
As long as young leaders love the organization, and search for something to do to improve their surroundings every day, consolidate the UJC’s ideological work, and bring together more ideas to continue building the Revolution, members and youths will want to be like them, and will accompany them in this integrationist work, commented the first secretary.
The UJC will continue promoting historic tours, summer camps, workshops, and forum-debates, among other important activities for Cuban youth, where they will also have the opportunity to learn more about the island’s history and culture.
“We are working with the Ministry of Culture so that our youth can enjoy recreational offers which feature both our best values and are affordable,” she added.
Cuba’s youth is the continuation of the generation that founded the Revolution, not its substitute, stated Susely, who went on to note that the new generations, strongly committed to the legacy of historic leader Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, and the support of the Communist Party of Cuba, will continue to defend socialism and participate in the economic and social transformations that the country needs.
“Those of us who wish to defend, transform, create and preserve everything that has been achieved over these last 55 years will always be with the UJC. Our aim is to increase participation in order to be an organization for all, so that every young person feels a greater attachment to it,” she concluded.
Cuban doctors head to Peru in the wake of severe flooding
| April 4, 2017 | 9:06 pm | Cuba, Health Care, political struggle | No comments

Cuban doctors head to Peru in the wake of severe flooding

Cuban doctors departed for Peru early this Friday, March 31, to provide services in areas of the country affected by the recent heavy rains. On leaving, they dedicated their solidarity efforts to the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro

Photo: Jose M. Correa

Cuban health personnel departed for Peru early this Friday, March 31, tasked with providing services in areas of the country affected by the recent heavy rains.

Gathered at the Central Medical Cooperation Unit for a farewell ceremony yesterday evening, they dedicated their solidarity efforts to the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

They were joined by Public Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, who presented this 23rd Brigade of the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics, with the customary Cuban flag.

The 23-strong brigade is made up 12 physicians and 11 health professionals, with more than ten years experience and having fulfilled other international missions.

Morales Ojeda, who is also a member of the Party Political Bureau, noted that the Henry Reeve Contingent was formed as part of the solidarity initiatives led by Fidel, and that today 50,000 Cuban collaborators are offering their services across 62 countries.

The Minister also told reporters that the brigade is armed with 7.2 tons of medicines and expendable supplies, which will allow these professionals to provide health care services to some 20,000 people.

Dr. Rolando Piloto, leading the medical mission, noted that Cuba has provided solidarity of this kind on two previous occasions to the people of Peru, flowing earthquakes in May, 1970, and August, 2007.

Most Important Battle Is Beating Demoralization: Cuban Minister

  • Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez.

    Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 March 2017

A conversation with the Cuban minister of culture reminds us, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

The great battle underway today on a global level is taking place in the minds of each and every one of us, rather than in specific physical locations. Revolutionaries, warriors of ideas, are not lacking; but the forces are dispersed in the face of a powerful, compact bloc of mass media which looks to turn human beings into captives of their emotions, disconnected from their ability to think.

3 Tactics Mainstream Media Uses to Attack Hugo Chavez’s Legacy

It is no coincidence that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a communication revolution in November 2016, one that includes traditional media, social networks, streets, and walls, inviting us to assume the intense, necessary task of progressive thinking.

It was precisely this urgent work which was discussed by the Network of Intellectuals, Artists, and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity during its 15th summit held March 6-7 in Caracas, with more than 60 thinkers from Venezuela and other countries in attendance titled, “Emancipatory Communication or Colonized homelands.”

Just minutes prior to the meeting’s second day, Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez dedicated a few minutes to a dialogue, speaking of the times in which we live, insisting on the importance of the fight for critical, revolutionary thinking, saying, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

Alina Perera Robbio: You have commented during this meeting that the left has not constructed a paradigm, in terms of communication, which could provide an alternative in the face of right-wing media hegemony. Would you share some reflections on this issue?

Abel Prieto Jimenez: Intellectuals from Venezuela and other countries have spoken here about this traditional weak point of the left, in the sense of being able to create a kind of paradigm, in terms of communication, that could be effective in the face of the lying, defamatory machine — to which we could add any number of adjectives — but which is undoubtedly effective in domesticating consciousness, dampening critical thinking, imposing on the people, for example, candidates who offer villas and castles, but later betray them.

That’s why we see everyday people voting against their own interests, everyday people voting against their country’s future, against conquests won. These are chilling things that are related to the world in which we live today, in which a few media corporations control everything.

There has been talk during this workshop of the role of social networks, of how even in electoral processes, those targeted for messages are very clearly defined, based on the great database these social networks provide, from which psychological profiles are created and different messages crafted for each one of these persons. That is to say, this is where the machinery of manipulation and trickery is, an issue that has been constantly raised in discussions within the Network in Defense of Humanity.

I recalled a panel that was held at the Cuartel de la Montaña, in December 2004, when Chavez called on us to take the offensive, and he called on us to create a breach in the media wall. From that discussion, the idea emerged for teleSUR, which has had so much success and been so important. Since that era, we have been talking about the machinery of manipulation. But I would say that today, the concentration of the media, the use of people’s unconscious reflexes, has grown to an almost Orwellian level — thinking about that famous book of George Orwell, “1984,” in which he talks of a policed world. We are facing a tremendous challenge and most important are trying to create this new paradigm, which must be participatory, because it must be the revolutionary people, using social networks, who resist being hypnotized, being driven like a herd from one place to another. And at the same time, we must be able to generate content. We must be critical with respect to the system, and at the same time proactive.

Perera Robbio: Circumstances have changed dramatically since 2004. The difficulties, as you say, have increased.

Prieto Jimenez: Fidel, Chavez founded so many extraordinary things. Then Evo (Morales), (Rafael) Correa, Daniel (Ortega), ALBA joined in. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) was defeated in Mar del Plata (Argentina) — a truly glorious moment for the left in our America. Nestor Kirchner participated in the defeat of the FTAA and later so did Cristina (Fernandez). It was a significant moment. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party was in power; it was a time that really awakened many hopes, that made Latin America a pole.

We see now how there is talk of a pendulum. One of the most sinister things one can do is accept the idea that there was a pendulum swing toward the left, and now a swing to the reactionary right is coming. It’s crazy because history does not move by way of pendulum swings. History is made by men, women, the people, and I think what is most important is to put an end to the demoralization, the discouragement, the worry among progressive forces — stop the idea that what is happening now is fate, that neoliberal ideas can survive another ten years, instead of going to the ideas of Bolivar, Jose Martí, of Fidel, Chavez, of the Cuban Revolution and the Latin American Revolution.

Everything that happens is inevitably affected by our ability to communicate in an effective manner, in a serious, profound manner.

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Perera Robbio: How can the left meet this challenge, continue the struggle, not be discouraged?

Prieto Jimenez: Participants in this 15th Network meeting unanimously concur on the need to leave here with an agreement on concrete steps, an action plan.

One of the tasks the Network could undertake is linking the nuclei of cultural resistance, the alternative media, radio, the work of digital guerillas in social networks. There are many people who have not allowed themselves to be defeated and are fighting for liberation, against the neoliberal offensive, but they are not linked up.

I think the Network must take on the task of attempting to link these forces, so that people understand we are facing a global struggle, and that the little wars at a local level are not going to resolve the problem, even though victories may be won at this local level.

The idea of ethical monitoring of the media is important. During this workshop, one participant spoke about the slander of Fidel that appeared in Forbes magazine, according to which the leader of the Cuban Revolution had amassed a huge fortune, and was among the richest leaders in the world. I told this speaker that Fidel said something tremendous on Cuban television, in front of many compañeros, saying that if they showed him just one scrap of evidence, he would resign immediately. This reply was never published by Forbes.

The mass media lies, and if there is a reply, they never accept the fact that they lied, and the lie continues floating about. It’s Goebbels’ theory: repeat and repeat a lie until it becomes true. This is the philosophy of all the mass media at this time.

There has been talk in this forum about what Venezuela (mass media) did with the guarimbas (violent street protests), of how they circulated pictures of acts of violence, of throat slashings, of beatings which never occurred and were attributed to the police and the Bolivarian government, supposedly taking place during confrontations with opposition demonstrators. That is to say, they are constantly disseminating slanderous lies. Well, there is talk of post-truth politics, of totally invented events meant to create destabilization, which suddenly go viral on social networks, so people believe them.

The situation is terrible. The mass media has trained a massive group of people, mostly young who are very aware of what is going on, of what is moving around the web, and who are very credulous. That is why I believe that the other thing we need to do is to promote the critical study of these communications phenomena, especially among adolescents.

The use of intelligence must be promoted. Let us recall what Fidel said many times: They want to dismantle our ability to think. This is the great project: that the people don’t think; that the people don’t critically examine the lies that are everywhere.

Something else which has been discussed during these hours is that which is customarily referred to as the training of young cadres, revolutionary cadres. In this regard, the issue of new technologies must be included, the necessity of knowing how to use them, the issue of the battle of ideas on social networks.

During these times, we can ask a question: Are we going to allow the thinking of Fidel, allow generations in Cuba and Latin America, to be seen as something archaeological, something of the past? Are Venezuelans going to let the thinking of Chavez be put away in a museum, as something that happened but has no relevance? I think this depends a great deal on us.

First published in Juventud Rebelde on March 7, 2017. Translated by Granma International.

Alina Perera Robbio is a writer for Juventud Rebelde.