Category: Latin America
The Anti-Cuba Privateers
| March 25, 2014 | 9:51 pm | Action, Analysis, International, Latin America | No comments

How Florida Reactionaries Undermine Venezuelan Democracy

by W.T. WHITNEY

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/12/how-florida-reactionaries-undermine-venezuelan-democracy/

Remember the Tonkin Gulf Resolution? In 1964 that joint congressional resolution propelled the United States into war lasting nine years. Resolution 488, passed by House of Representatives by a 393 – 1 vote on March 4, is a moral and practical equivalent. Its title was “Supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy, a reduction in violent crime and calling for an end to recent violence.”

The vote took place under a provision known as “suspension of the rules” which Congress uses for “legislation of non-controversial bills.” The sole dissenter was a Kentucky Republican. Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced R 488. In Florida she represents the 27th congressional district, part of Miami-Dade County. All but unanimous backing for the resolution is reprehensible – for three reasons.

One, the resolution did not tell the truth. It speaks of Venezuelans “protesting peacefully.” Actually as of March 7 protesters had shot five people dead. Three were soldiers. Six deaths are attributed to opposition roadblocks, 30 more because roadblocks prevented access to emergency services. Soldiers had killed three people, one a government supporter. When protests started in Táchira, Mérida, and Caracas in early February, police did not intervene until government offices and police cars were being attacked and burned and until food and medical supply trucks were blocked. The government arrested officers who violated orders to to act with restraint.

The resolution suggests Venezuela is undemocratic. Over 15 years, however, governments there have won 17 out of 18 national elections. They are elections that for fairness and efficiency are “the best in the world,” according to the Carter Center in Georgia. Press freedom abounds: Venezuela’ predominately privately-owned newspapers and television outlets disseminate opposition viewpoints. Their television broadcasts reach 90 percent of viewers nationally.

Real democracy means uplift for everybody. In Venezuela poverty dropped from 50 percent in 1998 to 32 percent in 2011. Social spending increased from 11 percent of the GDP to 24 percent. Pensioners rose from 500,000 to 2.5 million; people finishing college, from 600,000 to 2.3 million. High school enrollment increased 42 percent. Children malnutrition and infants deaths have fallen dramatically. Every year the minimum wage has increased 10 – 20 percent.

Media misrepresentation contributed to the resolution’s passage. Protesters, for example, hardly represent Venezuela’s majority population. Disturbances have taken place in only 18 of 335 municipalities, places where the middle and upper classes live and where right-wing politicians are in charge. Most students in the streets attend private schools. National polling shows that 85 percent of respondents oppose “protests continuing throughout the country.”

Secondly, passage of Ros-Lehtinen’s resolution is a new chapter in the process of U.S. preparations for undermining Venezuela’s elected government. Money tells some of that story. Analyst Mark Weisbrot reports, “[O]ne can find about $90 million in U.S. funding to Venezuela since 2000 “just looking through U.S. government documents available on the web, including $5 million in the current federal budget.” According to Venezuelanalysis.com: “Over one third of US funding, nearly $15 million annually by 2007, was directed towards youth and student groups, including training in the use of social networks to mobilize political activism.” And, “Embassy cables also reveal US government funding of opposition parties.” Discussing his leadership of the National Endowment for Democracy, a prime source of U.S. funding, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991 that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Preparations are evident too from a report produced by Venezuelan – U.S. lawyer Eva Golinger. She alludes to a meeting on June 13, 2013, location unspecified, attended by representatives Colombia’s “Center for Thought Foundation and the Democratic Internationalism Foundation. The two groups have links with ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, right wing protagonist of destabilization in Venezuela. Mark Feierstein, regional head of the US Agency for International Development, attended the meeting.

It generated a document entitled “Venezuelan Strategic Plan,” which detailed 15 “action points.” They included destruction of facilities, “massive mobilizations,” food shortages, and “insurrection inside the army.” The document mentions “crisis in the streets that facilitate the intervention of North America and the forces of NATO, with support of the government of Colombia.” “Violence [causing} deaths and injuries” is anticipated.

The third objection to Ros-Lehtinen’s resolution, and especially to congressional consensus, relates to her associations. She is famous for projecting Cuban-American determination to undo the Cuban Revolution onto the national stage. She thereby bears major responsibility for continuing a national policy of economic blockade of that island. Nor has she challenged her neighbors’ toleration of, even direct participation in, anti-Cuban terrorist attacks. It’s clear now that her neighbors have extended terror attacks to Venezuela, presumably as their contribution to U.S. plans to overthrow Venezuela’s government.

Surely it’s reasonable to expect that U.S. congresspersons, as part of their job description, might ask questions.

They could have inquired about Raul Diaz Peña, who in 2010 showed up in Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami office after having just arrived in the United States. Weeks earlier he had escaped from prison in Venezuela where he was serving time for having bombed embassies in Caracas in 2003. He told reporters on hand that costs for his escape and U.S. entry amounted to $100,000. The congresswoman indicated she “had been lobbying the US government”on his behalf .

On February 23, two days before Ros-Lehtinen introduced her resolution, Robert Alonzo held a “patriotic lunch” for friends at his farm outside Miami. He told them he wanted “help and solidarity of unyielding Cuban – exile combatants in their campaign to step up resistance to [President] Maduro’s misrule.”

Present were Reinol Rodríguez, head of the paramilitary group Alpha 66; José Dionisio Suárez, admitted murderer of ex-Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier in Washington; and Armando Valladares, formerly imprisoned in Cuba for bombings and more recently implicated in a plot to kill Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Born in Cuba, Alonso was living in Venezuela until authorities there discovered 153 Colombian paramilitaries lodged at his farm near Caracas. Their plan was to kill then President Hugo Chavez. Alonso helped out with the coup attempt against Chavez in 2002 by leading an assault on the Cuban Embassy.

Another meeting to plan the ouster of President Chavez took place in Miami in 2009. On hand were Jose Antonio Colina Pulido, on the lam after the embassy bombings in 2003; Joaquim Chaffardet, intelligence chief in Venezuela linked to the bombing of a fully loaded Cuban Airliner in 1976, along with Miamian Luis Posada; and Johan Peña, self-exiled after participating in the 2004 murder of Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson.

Other notable neighbors include: Patricia Poleo, who plotted against Danilo Anderson; military officer Gustavo Diaz, who helped propel the anti-Chavez coup attempt in 2002; and Angel De Fana who tried to kill Fidel Castro in 1997. Former Miami-area FBI head Héctor Pesquera attended a meeting in Panama where final arrangements were made to kill Danilo Anderson.

Finally, R-488 is emblematic of a serious problem relating to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, specifically privatization. The U.S. government has long farmed out decision-making on and implementation of policies toward Cuba to agents, really proxies, belonging to the Cuban-American émigré community. The same tendency now crops up in regard to Venezuela.

It’s apparent that privateers involved with Cuban affairs, epitomized by Representative Ros-Lehtinen, are promoting a U.S. campaign to undermine Venezuela’s government. Joining this essentially autonomous force are self-exiled, often terrorist-inclined, migrants from other Latin American countries, notably Venezuela. The evidence shows that the milieu where Resolution 488 was spawned nurtures this class of dark characters. That the resolution gained quick, basically unquestioning approval – after all, it was deemed “non-controversial” – is bad news for the future of democracy in both Venezuela and the United States.

PCdoB and Brazilian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010
| January 20, 2011 | 10:15 pm | Latin America | No comments

Secretary of International Relations of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB)

We were in the middle of an electoral process politically polarized into two opposing fields. It was essentially a direct battle between popular, democratic and patriotic forces on the one side and right-wing, conservative and liberal forces on the other side. The broad coalition supporting Dilma Rousseff’s candidacy, with eleven left-wing and center parties, is the largest alliances ever achieved to support a left-wing candidacy in the history of Brazil. However, on October 31, the day of the runoff in the presidential elections, it faced José Serra’s candidacy, representing a strong right with the militant support of the monopolist media and anti-communist and reactionary sectors.
Dilma Rousseff won the first round of the elections on October 3 with 47% of valid ballots. Serra won 33% of the votes and Green Party’s Marina Silva won 19% of the votes for president. Marina Silva’s candidacy pushed the elections to a runoff and objectively benefited the right-wing candidacy. Marina Silva offered an anti-development and morally conservative discourse and her economic assistants showed neoliberal inclinations. Other far-left candidacies won 1% of the ballots, an insignificant performance demonstrating that the true alternative is to strengthen the revolutionary left inside the broad coalition supporting Dilma Rousseff.
Below: a table displaying the result of the first round of the presidential elections.
VOTES FOR PRESIDENT – 1st round

Candidate Party / Coalition Valid votes
DILMA ROUSSEFF * PT – Workers Party
PMDB – Brazilian Democratic Movement Party
*PCdoB – Communist Party of Brazil
* PSB – Brazilian Socialist Party
* PDT – Democratic Labor Party
PSC – Social Christian Party
PR – Republican Party
PRB – Brazilian Republican Party and others
46.91%
JOSÉ SERRA PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party
DEM – Democrats
*PPS – Social People’s Party and others
32.61%
MARINA SILVA PV – Green Party 19.33%
PLÍNIO ARRUDA SAMPAIO PSOL – Socialism and Freedom Party 0.87%
IVAN PINHEIRO * PCB – Brazilian Communist Party 0.04%
OTHERS 0.24%
TOTAL 100%
* Members of the São Paulo Forum

Presidential elections headed for a runoff
As Dilma Rousseff did not win half of the valid ballots, the election headed for a runoff. Supported by a broad coalition of forces and by president Lula, whose administration is considered “excellent” or “good” by 83% of the population, Dilma Rousseff could have won the election in the first round. The runoff is the result of several factors, but mainly of the sordid campaign of lies, prejudice and hate promoted by the opposition and the monopolist media against Dilma Rousseff and president Lula. The right-wing opposition conceals its real program, characterized by privatization and anti-popular and anti-national policies, and confounded part of the people with a falsely moralizing mermaid spell marked by blatant religious obscurantism.

The left and the Dilma Rousseff coalition have grown in state governments and in the National Congress
In the elections for 27 state governments, 18 were decided in the first round and 9 state governments were disputed in the runoff. 16 of the elected governors are members of the coalitions supporting Dilma Rousseff (11 left-wing and 5 center) and 11 are members of the right-wing opposition.
The coalition supporting Dilma Rousseff won about 70% of the 513 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and of the 81 seats in the Federal Senate. We achieved a qualitative change in the correlation of forces inside the National Congress, although the left amounts to approximately only one third of each legislative chamber.
In the Parliament, the left is composed by members of the São Paulo Forum, namely, the Workers’ Party (PT), with 88 deputies and 13 senators, the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), with 15 deputies and 2 senators, the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), with 34 deputies and 4 senators, and the Democratic Labor Party (PDT), with 28 deputies and 4 senators.

Below: the composition of the new National Congress.

DEPUTIES

PARTY VOTES FOR THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES (%) ELECTED DEPUTIES
* PT – Workers Party 16.74 88
PMDB – Brazilian Democratic Movement Party 13.00 79
PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party 11.82 53
PR – Republican Party 7.58 41
DEM – Democrats 7.57 43
* PSB – Brazilian Socialist Party 7.10 34
PP – Progressive Party 6.56 41
* PDT – Democratic Labor Party 5.02 28
PTB – Brazilian Labor Party 4.19 21
PV – Green Party 3.85 15
PSC – Social Christian Party 3.18 17
* PCdoB – Communist Party of Brazil 2.85 15
*PPS – Socialist People’s Party 2.63 12
PRB – Brazilian Republican Party 1.82 8
PSOL – Socialism and Freedom Party 1.18 3
PMN – National Mobilization Party 1.13 4
* PCB – Brazilian Communist Party 0.06 0
Other parties 3.72 11
TOTAL 100 % 513
* Members of the São Paulo Forum

SENATORS
PARTY VOTES FOR THE FEDERAL SENATE (%) ELECTED SENATORS TOTAL SENATORS IN 2011
* PT – Workers Party 23.12 11 13
PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party 18.13 5 11
PMDB – Brazilian Democratic Movement Party 14.08 16 20
* PCdoB – Communist Party of Brazil 7.37 1 2
DEM – Democrats 6.00 2 6
PP – Progressive Party 5.38 4 5
PTB – Brazilian Labor Party 4.69 1 6
* PPS – Socialist People’s Party 3.97 1 2
* PSB – Brazilian Socialist Party 3.60 3 3
PV – Green Party 2.96 0 0
PR – Republican Party 2.73 3 4
PRB – Brazilian Republican Party 1.96 1 1
PSOL – Socialism and Freedom Party 1.78 2 2
* PDT – Democratic Labor Party 1.43 2 4
PSC – Social Christian Party 0.73 1 1
PMN – National Mobilization Party 0.14 1 1
* PCB – Brazilian Communist Party 0.09 0 0
Other parties 1.84 0 0
TOTAL 100% 54 81
* Members of the São Paulo Forum

The runoff decided an election of strategic importance
The true “political war” that characterized the first round of the dispute intensified in the runoff and Dilma Rousseff was elected the first woman president of Brazil. Candidate Dilma Rousseff won the run off with 56% against 44% of valid votes obtained by the right-wing forces.
VOTES FOR PRESIDENT – 2nd round

Candidate Party / Coalition Valid votes
DILMA ROUSSEFF * PT – Workers Party
PMDB – Brazilian Democratic Movement Party
*PCdoB – Communist Party of Brazil
* PSB – Brazilian Socialist Party
* PDT – Democratic Labor Party
PSC – Social Christian Party
PR – Republican Party
PRB – Brazilian Republican Party and others
56.05%
JOSÉ SERRA PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party
DEM – Democrats
*PPS – Social People’s Party and others
43.95%
TOTAL 100%
* Members of the São Paulo Forum

Among the reasons leading to the third victory of popular forces in 2010 (the two first ones being the victories of president Lula in 2002 and 2006) is the fact that the differences between the programs of the two candidacies became clearer for the people. Dilma Rousseff fought for the program that is being put into practice in the Lula administration, which turned Brazil into a respected nation in the international arena with an anti-imperialist foreign policy defending world peace, Latin America integration and national sovereignty. That program gave greater liberties to popular struggles, broadened democracy and economic and social development and improved the living standards of workers. Dilma Rousseff was a leading person in the success of Lula’s government and, as a candidate, declared that continuity in this case is “to advance, advance, advance” with changes.
During the runoff, Renato Rabelo, national president of PCdoB, declared “we are not facing any given battle, but a political battle that has a strategic character for our country.” The communists, as part of the Brazilian left and our coalition, faced the task of making a more vibrant campaign with greater participation of the militant cadres and progressive sectors of the people.
Along with the party’s militant forces, organizations of the popular movements also took part in the dispute, among which unions such as the Brazilian Workers Central (CTB) and the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), student organizations such as the National Students Union (UNE) and the Brazilian Union of Secondary Students (UBES), and farm workers from the Brazilian Farm Workers Union (CONTAG) and Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), which supported with their great strength Dilma Rousseff’s candidacy in the runoff.

PCdoB’s electoral result and perspectives for communists
In the last parliamentary elections PCdoB has grown continuously and steadily. When compared to 2006, the votes for PCdoB increased 41%, reaching 3% of total votes in the Chamber of Deputies. The Party went from 13 to 15 federal deputies and we achieved the merit of keeping the greatest proportion of women among the parties in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Communist Party of Brazil was the 4th most voted party in the Senate and now has 2 senators. PCdoB won 7% of the votes for Senate. PCdoB disputed the government of the state of Maranhão with a candidate that did not go to a runoff due to a very small difference in the number of votes.
The popular forces won the elections in Brazil. PCdoB will fight for the success of the Dilma Rousseff administration in the execution of the advanced measures listed in her program. In the course of this journey the Communist Party of Brazil will try to reinforce its role and political influence among the Brazilian people and develop in ideological and organizational terms.
PCdoB will keep on fighting to allow workers and all the Brazilian people to turn the revolutionary hope of a socialist Brazil into a reality.

Renato Rabelo highlights inauguration’s unique meaning
“Today Dilma Rousseff’s inauguration as the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil has a unique meaning for the Brazilian politics,” affirmed Renato Rabelo, president of the Communist Party of Brazil.

Firstly, according to the communist leader, it is the “third consecutive national victory of the democratic, progressive and left-wing forces, maintaining the political cycle that Lula opened in 2002.”
One must also take into account the fact that “Dilma Rousseff’s election takes place as the outcome of a successful democratic and popular government with broad popular support.”
The third point stressed by Rabelo is the fact that “now Brazil finds itself in a favorable situation for a fast development in a world undergoing a systemic crisis of capitalism, heading towards a transition in the global political system.”
“President Dilma Rousseff acknowledges the fact that the essence of continuity in her government is advancing, which, according to our point of view, is the continuation of greater changes towards an advanced, sovereign, democratic and popular government,” he added.
Lastly, he mentioned that “the victory of the first woman President of the Republic after the successes of the first blue-collar worker in that high political post has a remarkable meaning for the civilizing advance in the history of the Brazilian nation.”

By the editorial staff of “Vermelho” – www.vermelho.org.br

Statement from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs
| January 18, 2011 | 9:07 pm | Latin America | No comments

ON January 11, 2011, the United States government announced new measures in relation to Cuba. Although it is necessary to await the publication of the regulations in order to understand their true significance, according to preliminary information released by the White House press office, the measures will:

* Authorize travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens for academic, educational, cultural and religious purposes.

* Allow U.S. citizens to send limited remittances to Cuban citizens.

* Authorize U.S. international airports to request permission to operate charter flights to Cuba under certain conditions.

The adoption of these measures is the result of efforts by broad sectors of U.S. society which, in their majority, have been demanding the end of the criminal blockade of Cuba and the elimination of the absurd prohibition of travel to our country.

It is also an expression of recognition that the U.S. policy towards Cuba has failed and new ways to accomplish the historic objective of dominating our people are being sought.

Although the measures are positive ones, they are much less than what is being justly demanded, their reach is very limited and they do not modify policy against Cuba.

The announcement by the White House is basically limited to reestablishing the regulations which were in place in the 1990′s during President Clinton’s administration and were eliminated by George W. Bush in 2003.

The measures only benefit certain categories of U.S. citizens and do not reinstitute the right to travel to Cuba for all U.S. citizens, who will continue to be the only people in the world who cannot freely visit our country.

These measures confirm that there is no willingness to change the policy of blockade and destabilization against Cuba. Upon announcing them, U.S. government officials made it very clear that the blockade will remain in force and that the administration is proposing to use the new measures to strengthen subversion and intervention in Cuba’s internal affairs. This confirms the charges presented in the MINREX statement of January 13.

Cuba has always been in favor of interchanges with the people of the United States, its universities, academic, scientific and religious institutions. All the obstacles which make visits by U.S. citizens difficult have always been, and continue to be today, created by the U.S. government.

If a real interest in broadening and facilitating contact between our peoples exists, the U.S. should lift the blockade and eliminate the prohibition that makes Cuba the only country to which U.S. citizens cannot travel.

Havana, January 16, 2011

Why Washington Hates Hugo Chavez
| January 3, 2011 | 8:57 am | Latin America | No comments

By Mike Whitney

In late November, Venezuela was hammered by torrential rains and flooding that left 35 people dead and roughly 130,000 homeless. If George Bush had been president, instead of Hugo Chavez, the displaced people would have been shunted off at gunpoint to makeshift prison camps–like the Superdome–as they were following Hurricane Katrina. But that’s not the way Chavez works. The Venezuelan president quickly passed “enabling” laws which gave him special powers to provide emergency aid and housing to flood victims. Chavez then cleared out the presidential palace and turned it into living quarters for 60 people, which is the equivalent of turning the White House into a homeless shelter. The disaster victims are now being fed and taken care of by the state until they can get back on their feet and return to work.

The details of Chavez’s efforts have been largely omitted in the US media where he is regularly demonized as a “leftist strongman” or a dictator. The media refuses to acknowledge that Chavez has narrowed the income gap, eliminated illiteracy, provided health care for all Venezuelans, reduced inequality, and raised living standards across he board. While Bush and Obama were expanding their foreign wars and pushing through tax cuts for the rich, Chavez was busy improving the lives of the poor and needy while fending off the latest wave of US aggression.

Washington despises Chavez because he is unwilling to hand over Venezuela’s vast resources to corporate elites and bankers. That’s why the Bush administration tried to depose Chavez in a failed coup attempt in 2002, and that’s why the smooth-talking Obama continues to launch covert attacks on Chavez today. Washington wants regime change so it can install a puppet who will hand over Venezuela’s reserves to big oil while making life hell for working people.

Recently released documents from Wikileaks show that the Obama administration has stepped up its meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post by attorney and author, Eva Golinger:

“In a secret document authored by current Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Craig Kelly, and sent by the US Embassy in Santiago in June 2007 to the Secretary of State, CIA and Southern Command of the Pentagon, along with a series of other US embassies in the region, Kelly proposed “six main areas of action for the US government (USG) to limit Chavez’s influence” and “reassert US leadership in the region”.

Kelly, who played a primary role as “mediator” during last year’s coup d’etat in Honduras against President Manuel Zelaya, classifies President Hugo Chavez as an “enemy” in his report.

“Know the enemy: We have to better understand how Chavez thinks and what he intends…To effectively counter the threat he represents, we need to know better his objectives and how he intends to pursue them. This requires better intelligence in all of our countries”. Further on in the memo, Kelly confesses that President Chavez is a “formidable foe”, but, he adds, “he certainly can be taken”. (Wikileaks: Documents Confirm US Plans Against Venezuela, Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution)

The State Department cables also show that Washington has been funding anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that pretend to be working for civil liberties, human rights or democracy promotion. These groups hide behind a facade of legitimacy, but their real purpose is to topple the democratically elected Chavez government. Obama supports this type of subversion just as enthusiastically as did Bush. The only difference is the Obama team is more discreet. Here’s another clip from Golinger with some of the details on the money-trail:

“In Venezuela, the US has been supporting anti-Chavez groups for over 8 years, including those that executed the coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. Since then, the funding has increased substantially. A May 2010 report evaluating foreign assistance to political groups in Venezuela, commissioned by the National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that more than $40 million USD annually is channeled to anti-Chavez groups, the majority from US agencies….

Venezuela stands out as the Latin American nation where NED has most invested funding in opposition groups during 2009, with $1,818,473 USD, more than double from the year before….Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s original founders, revealed once to the Washington Post, “What we do today was done clandestinely 25 years ago by the CIA�” (America’s Covert “Civil Society Operations”: US Interference in Venezuela Keeps Growing”, Eva Golinger, Global Research)

On Monday, the Obama administration revoked the visa of Venezuela’s ambassador to Washington in retaliation for Ch�vez’s rejection of nominee Larry Palmer as American ambassador in Caracas. Palmer has been openly critical of Chavez saying there were clear ties between members of the Chavez administration and leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia. It’s a roundabout way of accusing Chavez of terrorism. Even worse, Palmer’s background and personal history suggest that his appointment might pose a threat to Venezuela’s national security. Consider the comments of James Suggett of Venezuelanalysis on Axis of Logic:

“Take a look at Palmer’s history, working with the U.S.-backed oligarchs in the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone, South Korea, Honduras, “promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” Just as the U.S. ruling class appointed an African-American, Barack Obama to replace George W. Bush with everything else intact, Obama in turn, appoints Palmer to replace Patrick Duddy who was involved in the attempted coup against President Ch�vez in 2002 and an enemy of Venezuelans throughout his term as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela.” (http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/printer_60511.shtml)

Venezuela is already crawling with US spies and saboteurs. They don’t need any help from agents working inside the embassy. Chavez did the right thing by giving Palmer the thumbs down.

The Palmer nomination is just “more of the same”; more interference, more subversion, more trouble-making. The State Dept was largely responsible for all of the so-called color-coded revolutions in Ukraine, Lebanon, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan etc; all of which were cookie cutter, made-for-TV events that pitted the interests of wealthy capitalists against those of the elected government. Now Hillary’s throng want to try the same strategy in Venezuela. It’s up to Chavez to stop them, which is why he’s pushed through laws that “regulate, control or prohibit foreign funding for political activities”. It’s the only way he can defend against US meddling and protect Venezuelan sovereignty.

Chavez is also using his new powers to reform the financial sector. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Venezuelan National Assembly Passes Law Making Banking a “Public Service”:

“Venezuela’s National Assembly on Friday approved new legislation that defines banking as an industry “of public service,” requiring banks in Venezuela to contribute more to social programs, housing construction efforts, and other social needs while making government intervention easier when banks fail to comply with national priorities.”…

The new law protects bank customers’ assets in the event of irregularities on the part of owners… and stipulates that the Superintendent of Banking Institutions take into account the best interest of bank customers – and not only stockholders… when making any decisions that affect a bank’s operations.”

So why isn’t Obama doing the same thing? Is he too afraid or is he just Wall Street’s lackey? Here’s more from the same article:

“In an attempt to control speculation, the law limits the amount of credit that can be made available to individuals or private entities by making 20% the maximum amount of capital a bank can have out as credit. The law also limits the formation of financial groups and prohibits banks from having an interest in brokerage firms and insurance companies.

The law also stipulates that 5% of pre-tax profits of all banks be dedicated solely to projects elaborated by communal councils. 10% of a bank�s capital must also be put into a fund to pay for wages and pensions in case of bankruptcy.

According to 2009 figures provided by Softline Consultores, 5% of pre-tax profits in Venezuela’s banking industry last year would have meant an additional 314 million bolivars, or $73.1 million dollars, for social programs to attend the needs of Venezuela’s poor majority.” http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/5880

“Control speculation”? Now there’s a novel idea. Naturally, opposition leaders are calling the new laws “an attack on economic liberty”. But that’s pure baloney. Chavez is merely protecting the public from the predatory practices of bloodthirsty bankers. Most Americans wish that Obama would do the same thing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Ch�vez has threatened to expropriate large banks in the past if they don’t increase loans to small-business owners and prospective home buyers, this time he is increasing the pressure publicly to show his concern for the lack of sufficient housing for Venezuela’s 28 million people.”

Caracas suffers from a massive housing shortage that’s gotten much worse because of the flooding. Tens of thousands of people need shelter now, which is why Chavez is putting pressure on the banks to lend a hand. Of course, the banks don’t want to help so they’ve slipped into crybaby mode. But Chavez has shrugged off their whining and put them “on notice”. In fact, on Tuesday, he issued this terse warning:

“Any bank that slips up�I’m going to expropriate it, whether it’s Banco Provincial, or Banesco or Banco Nacional de Cr�dito.”

Bravo, Hugo. In Chavez’s Venezuela the basic needs of ordinary working people take precedent over the profiteering of cutthroat banksters. Is it any wonder why Washington hates him?

Raul Castro:Speech at the National Assembly
| December 27, 2010 | 9:04 pm | Latin America | No comments

Comrades all:

We have been meeting for several days now discussing extremely important matters
for the future of the nation. This time, in addition to our customary work in
commissions, the deputies have met in plenary with the purpose of analyzing the
details of the current economic situation, as well as the budgetary proposals
and the economic plan for the year 2011.

The deputies have also devoted long hours to the thorough evaluation and
clarification of some doubts and concerns about the Draft Guidelines for the
Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution.

Our media has given a broad coverage to these discussions in order to make it
easier for the general public to receive this information.

In spite of the impacts of the world crisis on the national economy, the
irregular rainfall patter during the last 19 months -from November 2008 until
June this year-, and without excluding our own errors, I can affirm that the
performance of the 2010 economic plan could be deemed as acceptable considering
the times we are living. We will attain the goal of 2.1 per cent growth in the
Gross Domestic Product, better known by its acronym (GDP); exports of goods and
services have increased. The annual forecast figure of foreign visitors has
already been reached when the current year is not yet at a close. Although once
again we will not be able to meet the planned revenues goals, we have
strengthened the domestic financial balance and, for the first time in several
years, we are beginning to see a favorable dynamic, still somewhat limited, in
work productivity as compared to average salary.

Withholdings of foreign transfers or, what amounts to the same thing, the
restrictions we were forced to impose at the end of 2008 on payments from Cuban
banks to foreign suppliers -which shall be totally suppressed next year- have
continued to decrease. At the same time, significant progress has been achieved
in the rescheduling of our debt with our principal creditors.

Once again I would like to thank our commercial and financial partners for their
confidence and understanding; I confirm to them our most steadfast intentions of
punctually honoring our commitments. The Government has given precise
instructions to not take on new debts without guaranteeing their payment within
the terms agreed upon.

As was explained by the Vice President of the Government and Minister of Economy
and Planning, Marino Murillo Jorge, next year�s plan foresees a 3.1 per cent GDP
growth, which should be reached in the midst of a scenario that is not any less
complicated or tense.

The year 2011 is the first of five included in the midterm projection of our
economy. During this period we shall be gradually and progressively introducing
some new structures and concepts in the Cuban economic model.

During the coming year, we shall decisively move on to reduce superfluous
expenses, thus promoting the saving of all types of resources which, as we have
said on several occasions, is the quickest and safest source of income at our
disposal.

Likewise, we shall not overlook in the least the social programs in the areas of
health, education, culture and sports; we would rather raise their quality,
since we have identified enormous reserves of efficiency through a more rational
use of the existing infrastructure. We shall also be increasing exports of
goods and services, while continuing to concentrate investments in those areas
showing the quickest return on those.

Regarding the economic plan and the budget, we have insisted that the old story
of non-compliances and overdrafts must come to an end. The plan and the budget
are sacred. And I repeat, from now on, the plan and the budget will be sacred;
they were drafted to be complied with, not to make us feel content with
justifications of any sort or even with imprecisions and lies, whether
deliberate or not, when the goals previously set are not met.

At times some comrades, although without a fraudulent purpose, contribute
inaccurate information received from their subordinates without previously
checking them and so they fall into unconscious lying. But these false data
could lead us to make wrong decisions with major or minor repercussions on the
nation. Whosoever acts in that manner is also lying, and whoever these persons
may be they must be definitively and not temporarily removed from the position
they hold and, after the analysis of the corresponding bodies, they must also be
removed from the ranks of the Party, should they be a member of it.

Lies and their harmful effects have accompanied mankind since we learned the art
of speech in ancient times, motivating society�s condemnation. We recall that
the eighth of the Ten Commandments of the Bible reads: �Thou shalt not bear
false witness or lie�. Likewise, the three basic moral ethical principles of
the Inca civilization stated as follows: do not lie, or steal, or be lazy.

We must struggle to eradicate, once and for all, lies and deceit from the
cadres� behavior at all levels. No wonder Comrade Fidel in his brilliant
definition of the concept of Revolution, pointed out, among other things: �…to
never say a lie or violate ethical principles�.

After the publication of the Draft Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy
on November 9th last, the train of the Sixth Party Congress has taken on steam,
since now the true congress will be the open and honest discussions of said
guidelines by Party members and the entire people. This genuine democratic
exercise will allow us to further enrich that document and, without excluding
divergent opinions, achieve national consensus about the need and urgency of
introducing strategic changes in the way the economy functions, with the purpose
of making Socialism in Cuba sustainable and irreversible.

We should not be afraid of discrepancies of criteria and this instruction, which
is not new, should not be interpreted as being limited only to the discussions
of the Guidelines; the differences of opinion, preferably expressed in the right
place, time and form, at the right moment and in the correct form, shall always
be more desirable than the false unanimity based on pretense and opportunism.
Moreover it is a right nobody should be deprived of.

The more ideas we are capable of inspiring in the analysis of a problem, the
closer we shall come to its correct solution.

The Economic Policy Commission of the Party and the 11 groups which make it up,
have worked long months to draw up the abovementioned guidelines which, as we
have explained, shall constitute the leitmotif of the Congress, based on the
conviction that the economic situation is the most important task of the Party
and the Government and the basic subject of cadres at all levels.

During the last few years we have been insisting that we could not let ourselves
be carried away by improvising and hurrying in this area, bearing in mind the
magnitude, complexity and the inter-relations of the decisions to be adopted.
For that reason I think that we did the right thing when we decided to defer the
Party Congress even though we had to patiently resist the honest and also the
ill-intended protests both inside Cuba and abroad urging us to rush into the
adoption of a score of measures. Our adversaries abroad, as we might expect,
have challenged our every step, first by calling the measures cosmetic and
insufficient and now trying to confuse public opinion by prophesizing a sure
failure and concentrating their campaigns on the extolling of an alleged
disappointment and skepticism with which they say our people have welcomed this
draft.

Sometimes it seems that their most heartfelt wishes prevent them from seeing the
reality. By making their true desires evident, they blatantly demand that we
dismantle the economic and social system that we created, just as if this
Revolution was willing to submit to the most humiliating surrender or, what
tantamount to the same thing, rule its own destiny by submitting to denigrating
conditions.

Throughout 500 years, from Hatuey to Fidel, our people have shed too much blood
to accept the dismantling of what we have built with so much sacrifice.

To those who may entertain those unfounded illusions, we must remind once and
again what I said before this Parliament on August 1, 2009, and I quote: �I was
not elected President to restore capitalism in Cuba nor to surrender the
Revolution. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue improving socialism,
not to destroy it�, end of quote.

Today, I add that the measures we are implementing and all the modifications
that need to be introduced to the updating of the economic model are aimed at
the preservation of socialism by strengthening it and making it truly
irrevocable, as was stated in the Constitution of the Republic at the behest of
the vast majority of our population in the year 2002.

We have to put on the table all the information and arguments behind every
decision and also suppress the excessive secrecy to which we became used to
during these 50 years that we have lived under the enemy siege. Any State must
reasonably keep some matters secret; that is something nobody can deny. But
matters defining the political and economical course of the nation shall be no
secret. It is vital to explain, provide arguments and convince the people of
the fairness, need and urgency of any measure, no matter how tough it appears to
be.

The Party and the Communist Youth, as well as Cuba�s Workers� Central and its
unions, along with the rest of the mass and social organizations have the
capacity to mobilize the support and the confidence of the people through
debate, free from unviable dogmas and schemes that would put up a colossal
psychological barrier that we need to dismantle little by little, and we shall
do it together.

That is exactly the fundamental agenda that we have reserved for the National
Conference of the Party to be held in 2011, after the Congress, at a date we
shall set later. On that occasion we shall analyze, among other matters, the
modifications of the working methods and styles of the Party since, as a result
of the deficiencies found in the performance of the Government administrative
bodies, the Party has engaged in the exercise of functions outside its duties,
thus restricting and compromising its role as the organized avant-garde of the
Cuban nation and the top leading force of society and the State, as established
by Article Five of the Constitution of the Republic.

The Party should lead and supervise and not interfere with the activities of the
Government at no level: it is the Government that governs. Each body has its
own norms and procedures, depending on their missions in society.

It is necessary to change the mentality of the cadres and of all other
compatriots in facing up the new scenario which is beginning to be sketched out.
It is just about transforming the erroneous and unsustainable concepts about
socialism, that have been deeply rooted in broad sectors of the population over
the years, as a result of the excessively paternalistic, idealistic and
egalitarian approach instituted by the Revolution in the interest of social
justice.

Many of us Cubans confuse socialism with freebies and subsidies and equality
with egalitarianism. Quite a few of us consider the ration card to be a social
achievement that should never be gotten rid of.

In this regard, I am convinced that several of the problems we are facing today
have their origin in this distribution mechanism. While it is true that its
implementation was inspired by the wholesome idea of ensuring people a stable
supply of foodstuffs and other goods to counter the unscrupulous hoarding by
some for profit, it is an evident expression of egalitarianism that equally
benefits those who work and those who do not, or those who do not need it, thus
generating bartering and resale in a submerged black market, etc, etc.

The solution to this complex and sensitive matter is not that simple since it is
closely related to the strengthening of the role of salaries in society. That
will only be possible if, at the same time, freebies and subsidies are reduced
and the productivity of work and the supply of products to the population are
increased.

In this matter, as well as in the reduction of overstaffing, the Socialist State
shall not leave any citizen unprotected and via the social welfare system it
shall ensure that people who are unable to work will receive the minimum
required protection. In the future there will be subsidies, but not to
products, but to Cuban men and women who for one reason or another really need
them.

As is known, as from September the cigarette rations were eliminated. This
product was received only by part of the population. Obviously, due to its
harmful effects to human health, it can not be considered a basic commodity.

Next year we can not afford to spend around 50 million dollars to import coffee,
which has so far been distributed in rations to all consumers, including newborn
children. Since this is an unavoidable necessity, we intend to mix it with
peas, as we used to do until 2005, since they are much cheaper than coffee,
whose price is almost three thousand dollars per ton, while the cost of peas is
390 dollars.

If we want to keep on drinking pure, un-rationed coffee the only solution is to
produce it in Cuba where it has been proven that all the required conditions for
its cultivation exist, and where we can produce enough quantities to satisfy the
demand and even to export it with the highest quality.

These decisions, and others that we shall have to apply, even though we know
they are not popular ones, are a must in order to be able to maintain and even
improve the free public health, education and social security services for all
of our citizens.

The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comrade Fidel himself, in his historical
speech on November 17, 2005, stated, I quote: �Here is a conclusion I�ve come to
after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of
them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about
socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism�, end of quote.
Hardly one month ago, exactly five years later, in his message on the occasion
of the International Students Day, Fidel confirmed these concepts which are
still fully valid.

I for one remember the idea of a Soviet award-winning scientist who about half a
century ago was thinking that even though the possibility of a manned flight
into space had been theoretically documented, it was still a journey into the
unknown.

While we have counted on the theoretical Marxist-Leninist legacy, according to
which there is scientific evidence of the feasibility of socialism and the
practical experience of the attempts to build it in other countries, the
construction of a new society from an economic point of view is, in my modest
opinion, also a journey into the unknown. Therefore each step must be
profoundly meditated upon and planned before the next step is taken; mistakes
are to be timely and quickly amended so that the solution is not left up to
time, which will make them grow and will and finally send us an even more costly
invoice.

We are fully aware of the mistakes we have committed and the Guidelines
precisely mark the beginning of the road to rectification and the necessary
updating of our socialist economic model.

Nobody should claim he or she has been deceived: the Guidelines signal the road
towards a socialist future, adapted to Cuba�s conditions and not to the
capitalist and neo-colonial past which was defeated by the Revolution. Planning
and not free market shall be the distinctive feature of the economy. As was
outlined in the third general guideline, the concentration of ownership shall
not be allowed. This is as clear as glass, but there is no one as blind as the
one who doesn�t want to see.

The building of socialism should be according to the special features of every
country. It is a history lesson that we have learned very well. We do not
intend to copy from anyone; that brought about enough problems to us because, in
addition to that, we also copied badly; but we shall not ignore the experiences
of others and we shall learn from them, even from the positive experience of
capitalists.

Speaking about the necessary change of mind, I shall mention one example: we
have arrived at the conclusion that large numbers of self-employed persons are
one more employment opportunity for working-age citizens with the aim of
increasing the supply of goods and services to the population which could rid
the State of those so that it could focus on what is truly decisive, what the
Party and the Government should do is facilitate their work rather than
generating stigmas and prejudices against them. Therefore it is fundamental
that we modify the existing negative approach that quite a few of us have
towards this form of private employment. When defining the features that ought
to characterize the building of a new society, the classics of Marxist-Leninism
stated, among other things, that the State, on behalf of all the people, should
keep the ownership over all the basic production means.

We turned this precept into an absolute principle and almost all the country�s
economic activity started to be run by the State. The steps we have been taking
and shall take in broadening and relaxing self-employment are the result of
profound meditations and analysis and we can assure you this time there will be
no going back.

Cuba�s Workers� Central and its respective national unions are currently
studying forms and methods to organize the provision of assistance to this labor
force, promote full compliance with the Law and the payment of taxes and
encourage these workers to eschew illegalities. We should defend their
interests just as we do with any other citizen, as long as they observe the
approved juridical norms.

The introduction of the basic concepts of the taxation system at different
levels of education becomes very important, since younger generations will
become permanently and concretely acquainted with the application of taxes as
the most universal form of redistribution of the national income, in the
interest of covering social costs.

>From the point of view of the society as a whole, we have to encourage among all
taxpayers the civic values of respect of and compliance with tax payments; we
should educate people in that discipline and culture, reward those who comply
and sanction tax evaders.

Another area where there is still much to do, in spite of the advances made, is
the attention to the different production modalities in agriculture to remove
the existing obstacles to the promotion of productive forces in our rural areas
so that, depending on the savings from saving on the import of foodstuffs,
farmers can receive just and reasonable revenues for their hard work. However
this does not justify the fixing of extremely high prices to the commodities
consumed by the population.

After two years since we started to distribute idle lands in usufruct, I think
we are in conditions to evaluate the allocation of additional areas, above the
limits regulated by Decree-Law 259 of July 2008, to those agricultural workers
who have achieved outstanding results in the intensive use of the lands they are
responsible for.

I think it timely to clarify that the ownership of the lands distributed in
usufruct belong to all the people. Thus, if these are required for uses
different from these in the future, the State would compensate beneficial owners
for their investments and would pay to them the value of the benefits created.

In due time, once we conclude the studies based on the experience we have been
accumulating, we shall submit to the Council of State the corresponding
proposals to modify the abovementioned Decree-Law.

One of the most difficult barriers to overcome in the effort to create a
different view -and we should publicly recognize that-, is the lack of knowledge
about the economy among the people, including quite a few cadres who, giving
clear proof of a supine ignorance on the subject, adopt or propose decisions
while facing customary problems without stopping for a minute to evaluate their
effects and costs, or without knowing whether there is a budget or resources
assigned to that end according to a plan.

I have not made any discovery when I state that improvisation in general,
particularly when it comes to the economy, leads to a sure failure regardless of
the lofty ends one intends to attain.

On December 2 last, on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the landing of
the Granma, the official newspaper of our Party published an excerpt of the
speech delivered by Fidel in 1976 on that same date when we were celebrating the
twentieth anniversary of that event. Given its validity and relevance I find it
appropriate to quote it: �The strength of a people and a revolution lies
precisely in its capacity to understand and cope with difficulties. Despite
everything, we will move forward on numerous fronts and we will struggle bravely
to increase the economy�s efficiency, save resources, reduce non-essential
costs, increase exports and create economic awareness in every citizen. I said
earlier that we are all politicians; now I add that we should all be economists,
that the mindset of saving and efficiency is different from a consumer mindset�,
end of quote.

Ten years later, on December 1 of 1986, during the postponed session of the
Third Party Congress, Fidel stated, and I quote: �Many do not understand that
the Socialist State, just as any other State or system, can not deliver what it
does not have. Much less is it going to have that which it does not produce if
it gives away money without having a productive backing. I am sure that
overstaffing, excess money paid out to people, idle stocks, and wasting of
resources are all linked to the great number of unprofitable companies that we
have in our country…� end of the quote.

After 34 and 24 years respectively, from these instructions given by the Leader
of the Revolution, these and many other problems are still with us.

With his genius, Fidel was breaking through, showing the way, and the rest of us
didn�t know how to ensure and consolidate the march forward to pursue those
goals.

We were lacking cohesion, organization and coordination between the Party and
the Government. In the midst of the threats and the daily emergencies we
neglected mid and long-term planning; we did not act strong enough against the
economic violations and the errors committed by some leaders and we also stalled
in correcting decisions that didn�t have the effect we expected.

On more than one occasion I have referred to the fact that in this Revolution
almost everything has been said and that we should check which of the
instructions given by the Leader of the Revolution have been fulfilled and which
have not, ever since he made his vibrant statement �History Will Absolve Me�
until the present. We will retake Fidel�s ideas, which continue to be valid,
and will not allow the same to happen to us again.

Errors, if they are just analyzed with honesty, can become experiences and
lessons that could teach us how to eradicate them and avoid its replication.
That is precisely the great usefulness of a thorough analysis of errors. That
should become a permanent rule of conduct for all leaders.

The reality of figures prevails over all our hopes and dreams. Since our early
years in first grade, when we studied elementary arithmetic, we learn that two
plus two makes four, not five or six. You don�t have to be an economist to
understand that. Therefore, if at any given time we have to do something in the
economic and social field whose cost can not be covered by the resources
available, we should do that bearing in mind the consequences and knowing, ahead
of time, that, ultimately, bare facts shall irremissibly prevail.

Cuba has tens and tens of thousands of professionals graduated by the Revolution
in the specialties of economy, accounting and finances, just to mention some,
which we haven�t known how to make a proper use of their knowledge in the
interest of the nation�s orderly development.

We have something that is very precious, which is human capital. We must
further unite it, with the help of the National Association of Economists and
Accountants (ANEC) to take up the task of constantly and systematically
instructing our educated public and their leaders at all levels in this subject.
A large number from the ANEC National Board took part in the first seminars that
we organized to analyze these guidelines and many of their members are immersed
in the process of discussions under way.

In this regard, we should emphasize the decisive contribution made by thousands
and thousands of accountants to recover the place they deserve in economic
management which, as we well know, is an indispensable condition to ensure
success and order in everything that we intend to accomplish.

In these circumstances, nobody should lose sight of the relevance of keeping a
differentiated approach to the youth. I should emphasize the decision to exempt
new graduates fulfilling their Social Service from any overstaffing reduction
process.

Now then, we are not trying to assign them to jobs that have nothing to do with
their professional profiles, as it has occurred in the past, when they were even
employed as doormen at some work places, because that period is precisely
designed to train them in production and the provision of services, so that they
could complement the theory they learned in school with practice and cultivate
in them the love for work.

No less important is the work to be carried out by cadres and specialists
involved in the drafting and review of legal documents, along with the
modifications that are being implemented. For example, the issuance of almost
30 provisions -including decree-laws, Government agreements and resolutions from
various ministries and national institutes- have been required to create the
legal framework for two guidelines (158 and 159), referring to self-employment,
its taxation regime and the reduction of overstaffing.

Just a few days ago, a resolution issued by the Ministry of Finances that
modified the prices set by redistribution centers for a series of agricultural
products had to terminate another 36 resolutions of that same body, issued on
different dates in previous years, but all valid.

These facts give you some idea of the work facing us in the area of juridical
organization for the purpose of reinforcing the institutionality of the country
and eliminating so many irrational prohibitions that have been on the books for
years, without bearing in mind existing circumstances, creating a true breeding
ground for multiple barely legal actions that frequently give rise to corruption
in different degrees. One can arrive at a life-tested conclusion: irrational
prohibitions lead to violations and that in turn leads to corruption and
impunity; that is why I believe that the population is right in its concern over
the mind-boggling procedures associated with housing and automobile sales
between individuals, just to mention two examples that are currently under study
for an orderly solution.

At the right time, we must simplify and group together legislation in effect
which is generally rather spread out. The guiding documents are drawn up to be
mastered by those responsible for their fulfillment, not just to be filed away.
As a result, we have to educate all cadres and demand that they work with legal
provisions that govern their functions and monitor that this complies as a
requisite for suitability in occupying a determinate position.

It is worthwhile remembering, once again, that ignorance of the law is no excuse
for not following it and that, according to the Constitution, every citizen has
equal rights and responsibilities, therefore whoever commits a crime in Cuba,
regardless of the position he or she holds, whoever they may be, shall have to
face up to the consequences of their mistakes and to the weight of justice.

Moving on to another matter, also part of the Guidelines, in next year�s plan,
we have excluded 68 important investments for the country because they have not
followed the established requirements, among them funding definition, technical
and project preparation, the definition of building forces capable of
undertaking them in the set terms and evaluation of feasibility studies. We
shall not allow the wastage of resources destined for investments resulting from
spontaneity, improvisation and superficiality which, in more cases than not, has
characterized the investment process.

In dealing with these subjects I must refer to the decisive role corresponding
of Party cadres, the Government, mass and youth organizations in the coordinated
and harmonious management of the process of updating the Cuban economic model.

In the course of the gradual decentralization that we are putting forth, we have
adopted different measures in favor of increasing the authority of
administrative and business executives on whom we shall continue to delegate
powers. Simultaneously we are improving control procedures and raising to
higher levels the demands to confront manifestations of negligence, apathy and
other behaviors incompatible with public positions.

Likewise, we are fully aware of the harm caused by the �upside-down pyramid� to
the cadres policy during the years; I mean, when salaries are not paid in
relation to the importance and hierarchy of leadership positions, nor is there
adequate differentiation between some and others, all of which works against
motivation for promoting the most capable workers towards senior level
responsibilities in the companies and in the ministries themselves. This is a
basic matter that must be resolved according to what is indicated in guidelines
number 156 and 161, referring to salary policy.

The sixth Party Congress should be, as a fact of life, the last to be attended
by most of us who belong to the Revolution�s historical generation. The time we
have left is short, and without an ounce of immodesty or conceit, I think we
have the obligation of taking advantage of the power of the moral authority we
enjoy among the people to trace out the route to be followed.

We don�t think we are more intelligent or able than anyone else or any of the
like, but we strongly believe that we have the elemental duty to correct the
mistakes that we have made all along these five decades during which we have
building socialism in Cuba. To this Endeavour we will devote all the energy we
have left, which fortunately is not just a little.

We will increase our perseverance and our intransigence against wrong. The
ministers and other administrative and political leaders know they will count on
our full support when, while performing their duties, they educate and the same
time are demanding with their subordinates and are not afraid of running into
trouble.

Running into trouble for confronting the wrong is right now one of our main
tasks.

Likewise it is very clear to all of us that we are no longer living through the
early years after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, when some of those who
were appointed to government posts resigned to demonstrate their opposition to
the first radical measures adopted by the Revolution. That behavior was then
branded as counterrevolutionary. Today, the true revolutionary and honest
behavior is for any cadre to resign with dignity and without any fear whenever
they feel tired or incapable of fully performing their duties. This will always
be preferable to a demotion.

In this regard, I should refer to three comrades who occupied important
positions in the leadership of the Party and the Government. As a result of
their mistakes, the Political Bureau asked them to resign to their condition as
members of that leading body, the Central Committee and as deputies to the
National People�s Power Assembly. I am referring to Jorge Luis Sierra Cruz,
Yadira Garc�a Vera and Pedro S�ez Montejo. The first two were also released
from their positions as minister of Transportation and of the Basic Industry
respectively. Sierra took upon himself attributions he was not entitled to,
which led him to make serious mistakes in management. Yadira Garc�a�s
performance as minister was dreadful, which became particularly evident in the
poor control of the resources allocated to investments, which led to a waste of
those resources, as it became obvious during the expansion of the nickel factory
Pedro Soto Alba of Moa, in the province of Holgu�n. Both comrades
were severely criticized at the joint meetings of the Political Bureau and the
Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.

On his part, Pedro S�ez Montejo, evidencing superficiality incompatible with his
position as First Secretary of the Communist Party in the City of Havana,
infringed upon the party work standards, something that was discussed with him
by a Political Bureau commission which was presided over by myself and made up
by comrades Machado Ventura and Esteban Lazo.

It is fair to say though that these three comrades the mistakes which of them
had made and adopted a correct attitude. That is the reason why the Political
Bureau Commission decided to respect their condition as members of the Communist
Party. Likewise, we deemed it convenient to assign them to tasks related to
their respective specialties.

Personally, the three of them will continue to be my friends but my only single
commitment is with the people, particularly with those who have lost their lives
in these 58 years of continued struggle since the coup d�etat in 1952. This has
been the procedure followed with three high level leaders, so let it be known
that this would be the same procedure to be followed by the Party and the
Government with every cadre. We will demand more from them, but at the same
time we will war them and adopt any relevant disciplinary measure if any of the
established rules are infringed upon.

As was established by the Law to Modify the Country�s Political and
Administrative Division, on January next year the new provinces of Artemisa and
Mayabeque will be created. Their respective governments will start to world
according to the new organizational and structures conceptions, which are far
more rational than the ones that exist in the present Havana province.

All functions, structures and payrolls have been already defined. We are still
working of the definitions of their attributions as well as their relations with
the Central State Administrative Apparatus, national companies and political and
mass organizations. We will follow very closely this experience so that it
could be gradually implemented on all other local government bodies throughout
the country in the course of the next five years. We very much favor the
usefulness of continuing to gradually increase the authority of provincial and
municipal governments by entrusting them with greater faculties for the
execution of local budgets, which will absorb much of the taxes generated by the
economic activity aiming at contributing to its further development.

The relations with the peoples and governments of almost every nation move on
amidst the convulsive international situation.

The world has known in amazement the scandalous revelations of hundreds of
thousands of classified documents of the US government. Some of the most recent
are about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; others deal with the most varied
topics about the US relations with tens of States.

Although everybody is wondering what is really going on and how could this be
linked to the twists and turns of the US politics, what has been revealed so far
show that that country, although pretending to practice a kind rhetoric,
essentially, it continues to implement the usual politics and acts as a global
gendarme.

There isn�t the slightest willingness on the part of the United States to change
its policy against Cuba, not even to eliminate its most irrational aspects. It
is evident that a powerful and reactionary minority that props up the anti Cuban
mafia continues to have a major influence on these issues.

The United States not only turns a blind eye to the overwhelming call issued by
187 countries asking for an end to the economic, commercial and financial
blockade against our country. In the year 2010, it reinforced its
implementation and once again included Cuba in its spurious lists, whereby they
take upon themselves the right to qualify and denigrate other sovereign States
to justify punitive actions or even acts of aggression.

The US policy against Cuba does not have an ounce of credibility. The US has no
other choice but to resort to lies to reiterate certain allegations. Some of
them stand out for being scandalously false, as the one asserting that Cuba is a
country that sponsors international terrorism, tolerates domestic traffic in
children and women for sexual exploitation, violates flagrantly human rights and
is responsible for significantly restricting religious freedom.

The US government tries to hide its own sins and attempts to evade its
responsibilities when it allows that notorious international terrorists who have
been wanted by the legal systems of several countries continue to live with
impunity in that country while maintaining our Five brothers unjustly imprisoned
for fighting against terrorism.

In its slanderous campaigns about the human rights situation in Cuba, the United
States has found the connivance of European countries known because of their
complicity with the CIA secret renditions, the creation of torture and detention
centers, for placing the burden of the economic crisis on the lowest income
workers, violently repressing demonstrators and implementing discriminatory
policies against migrants and minorities.

We will continue to struggle, together with all Latin American nations, for an
emancipating integration. In the context of the Bolivarian Alliance for the
Peoples of Our America, we will continue to work to consolidate the solidarity
and unity that will make us ever stronger.

Therefore, we will continue to support he sister nation of Haiti where our
health staff together with Latin American and Haitian doctors who graduated in
Cuba, in a selfless and humanitarian way, are coping with the cholera epidemic,
the destruction caused by the earthquake and the sequels of hundreds of years of
exploitation and plundering of that noble people that needs the international
community to grant resources for reconstruction and especially for a sustainable
development.

This is also the right occasion to convey, from this parliamentary meeting and
on behalf of all Cubans, a message of support and solidarity to the brother
people of Venezuela, who are suffering from the ravages of torrential rains
which have great human and material losses. At a very early stage, the tens of
thousands of Cuban cooperation workers who are offering their services in that
country were instructed to place themselves at the disposal of the Venezuelans
and of President Hugo Chavez for whatever might be necessary.

April next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the
Socialist character of our Revolution. In the sands of Playa Gir�n our forced
fought for the first time to defend socialism and within hardly 72 hours and led
by Commander in Chief in person, they managed to defeat the mercenary invasion
sponsored by the US government.

On the occasion of such a relevant commemoration, there will be a military
parade on April 16 with the participation of troops and combat equipment, to be
attended by the delegates to the 6th Congress of the Communist Party who will
gather on that very afternoon to begin their works, which we hope will conclude
on April 19, the day when we celebrate the Victory of Playa Giron. The parade
will be closed by tens of thousands of youths representing the new generations,
which are the guarantee of the continuity of the Revolution.

This celebration will be dedicated to our youth, which has never failed to be
faithful to the Revolution. Youth were those who died during the attack on the
Moncada and Bayamo garrisons; youth were those who rose up in Santiago de Cuba
led by Frank Pais; youth were the Granma expeditionaries who after the fiasco at
Alegr�a de P�o, founded the Rebel Army, and were joined by waves of other youths
from the countryside and the city, particularly by the reinforcement that came
from Santiago that was personally organized and sent by Frank himself; youth
were those who were members of the powerful clandestine movement; youth were
those who courageously attacked the Presidential Palace and the Radio Reloj
radio station on March 13, 1957, headed by Jose Antonio Echeverr�a; youth were
those who fought heroically in Gir�n; youth and teenagers were those who joined
the literacy campaign also 50 years ago; youth were most of those who fought
against the mercenary bands organized by the C
IA; youth were those who wrote beautiful pages of courage and stoicism in the
internationalist missions in several countries, particularly those in support of
the liberation movements in Africa; youth are our Five Heroes who risked their
lives I the struggle against terrorism and have suffered more than 12 years of
cruel imprisonment; youth are many of the thousands and thousands of cooperation
workers who defend the human life by curing diseases that have already been
eradicated in Cuba, supporting the literacy programs and disseminating culture
and the practice of sports throughout the world.

This Revolution has been the results of the sacrifices made by the Cuban youth:
the workers, farmers, students, intellectuals, military, all the youths from all
the times when they have lived and struggled.

This Revolution will be carried forward by the youth, full of optimism and with
an unshakable faith in victory.

Equally big have been both the challenges and dangers since the triumph of the
Revolution, especially after Gir�n. But no difficulty has ever bent our spirit.
We are and will be here due to the dignity, the integrity, the courage, the
ideological strength the revolutionary spirit and the sacrifice of the Cuban
people which since long ago embraced the concept that socialism is the only
guarantee to continue to be free and independent.

Thank you, very much.

Cuban officials travel to Galveston to help with hurricane preparedness
| December 11, 2010 | 10:21 pm | Latin America | No comments

By James Thompson

I travelled to Cuba one year ago and met with Cuban doctors who are at the forefront of hurricane preparedness in that country. I was impressed with the organization and comprehensive plan that the Cubans have put together to protect their population from the ravages of hurricanes.

Their plan was based on scientific evidence which they gathered from previous experience in dealing with catastrophic storms. Their goal was to minimize casualties from catastrophic hurricane based disasters. They have largely succeeded in their effort.

For a great video documenting Cuban – U.S. cooperation, go to http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7834855

Fidel’s message to the students
| November 28, 2010 | 9:57 pm | Latin America, Youth | No comments

Cuba, Fidel’s message to the students

————————————————-

From: Embassy of Cuba in Greece, Tuesday, 23 November 2010

==================================================

Fidel’s message to the students

November 17, 2010

Dear university students and other guests,

I am very pleased by the presence at this meeting of the minister of Higher Education, of the rectors of the universities in Havana, a representative group from the Young Communist League (UJC), chaired by its First Secretary, the provincial leadership and the National Federation of Secondary Education Students.

I well remember that November 17th of 2005. We were celebrating International Students’ Day. You, the university students, had decided that I should speak on that day. They told me it was the 60-year anniversary of my starting university studies at the end of 1945. At that time I was just a bit younger than I am today; I was your age. But together we have lived through a phase of life.

I thought that that meeting we had at the University of Havana, 5 years ago, would never be repeated. I was 79 years old then. But just two months ago, to be more exact, when I presented the second book about our revolutionary war, “The Strategic Counter-offensive”, at the Great Auditorium on September 10, 2010, at the end, I spoke with many of the veterans of those battles and at the exit from that hall I greeted an enthusiastic group of university student leaders who were waiting there, I chatted with them, and they explained to me their anxious anticipation of the 17th so I could talk about the speech.

I liked that group. They were not promoting any “cultural revolution”; they wanted to hear a reflection once more about the ideas put forth that day.

That meeting was already theirs. It seemed to me that a lot of time would pass between September 10th and November 17th; other things were going through my mind and I answered: “We’ll see each other on that day”.

Nevertheless I knew that that speech raised some worries, given the moment we were living, facing a powerful enemy that was threatening us more and more, blockading our economy with an iron will and making efforts to sow discontent, promoting the violation of laws and the illegal departures from our country, taking away a youthful, cultural and technically well-educated work force reserve. Many of them were later led to illicit activities and crime.

There was also the fact of my tendency to be self-critical and ironic about our actions. Even though my words were stinging, I defended principles and made no concessions.

I was remembering all that, but not the exact words I had used, the bulk of the arguments wielded and the considerable length of the speech.

I asked the Council of State Archives for a textual copy and I was looking at 115 single-spaced pages which implied more than 200 as these barely go for more than 40.

Work has been intense in the last few weeks, and dedicated to many tasks; among these meetings with interviews with the principal editor of the Global Research website, Michel Chossudovsky, the overwhelming electoral victory of the far-right in the US and, within it, that of the fascist group the Tea Party, the unprecedented economic crisis, the currency wars closely followed by the G-20 Summit Meeting in Seoul, the APEC Summit in Yokohama, Japan and within two days, the NATO Summit in Portugal on November 19 and 20, something that must be followed closely.

In spite of that, I was not resigning myself to postponing or suspending the date of our meeting.

Bolstered by the original text, I was picking out the main ideas of the speech that I had given then, in order to present them with the very same words I used at that time. In the interest of brevity, I omitted numerous examples that were backing up the opinions I held.

I must confess that the timeliness of the ideas expressed surprised me; 5 years later they are more current than they were then, since many of them had to do with the future, and events have gone on as they were foreseen, only that today, with the knowledge available about phenomena such as climate change, the economic crisis that surpasses any previous one, the dangers of war and the drifting off of imperial power towards fascism demand the maximum of dedication and effort from our university youths in the ideological battle.

One of the first ideas I expressed was:

“The combination of factors that made life possible occurred after billions of years on planet Earth, this very fragile life form that can only survive between a few limited degrees of temperature, between a few degrees below zero and a few degrees above zero…”

“I was trying to recall how those universities were, what we did, what our concerns were. We were concerned about this island, [...] There was no talk then of globalization; there was no television or Internet; instant communication were not possible from one end of the planet to the other; [...] In my time, back in 1945, our passenger planes could hardly make it to Miami…”

“…there had been a terrible war that took the lives of some 50 million people. I am speaking of the time in 1945 when I entered the university, on September 4th. Well, I started on that date, and you, of course, have taken the liberty to celebrate the anniversary any day of that year.”

Later on, I asked: “What kind of world is this? What kind of world is this where a barbaric empire proclaims its right to launch pre-emptive attacks on 60 or more countries, and is capable of bringing death to any corner of the globe, using the most sophisticated weapons and killing techniques?”

“Even today, the empire is threatening to attack Iran if nuclear fuel is produced there.”

“There is already an international debate on what day and at what time a pre-emptive attack will be launched on the research centers for production of nuclear fuel and on whether it will be the empire that does it, or its satellite Israel as it was the case in Iraq.”

“…and Iran is demanding its right to produce nuclear fuel just like any industrialized nation and not be obliged to destroy the reserves of a raw material, which can be used not only as an energy source but also as a raw material for numerous products such as fertilizers, textiles and many others currently used worldwide.”

“…. Let’s see what happens if they decide to bomb Iran in order to destroy any facility used in the production of nuclear fuel.”

“We have never considered producing nuclear weapons. We have a different type of nuclear weapon: it’s our ideas [...] Our nuclear weapon is the invincible power of moral weapons. [...] nor have we ever considered seeking biological weapons [...] weapons that defeat death, that defeat AIDS and cancer that we dedicate our resources.”

“…anywhere in the world you can find a secret prison where defenders of human rights are tortured. They are the same people who order their little lambs to vote in Geneva, one after another, against Cuba, a country where torture is unknown, something that brings honor and glory on this generation. It is the honor and glory of this Revolution struggling for justice, for independence and for human decorum, and we must keep its purity and dignity untouched!”

“…. This morning there was news about the use of live phosphorus in Fallujah. It is there that the empire discovered that a nation, to all intents and purposes unarmed, could not be defeated and the invaders found themselves in the situation of not being able to leave or to stay. If they leave, the combatants would return; if they stay, these troops would be required in other locations. Over 2,000 young US troops have already died, and some are asking: How long will these men continue to give their lives for an unjust war?…”

“…enlisting in the army has become an employment opportunity. The ones who enlist are the unemployed and very often they try to enlist greater numbers of Afro-Americans to fight their unjust war. However, news is coming out that fewer Afro-Americans are enlisting in the army, despite their high levels of unemployment and their marginalization…”

“They are chasing after Latinos, immigrants, who cross the border trying to escape hunger; this is a border where more than 500 emigrants die every year, many more in only 12 months than those who died during the 28 years of the Berlin Wall.”

“Young people entered this University exactly like that. It must be remembered that this University was not for the poor, it was for the middle class, for the rich, although young people tended to rise above class ideas and many of them were capable of struggling, as in fact they did throughout the history of Cuba.”

“Eight students were executed in 1871. They were like the seeds of the noblest of sentiments and of the rebellious spirit of our people…”

“Mella was one of them, also coming from the middle class because the children of farmers who could neither read nor write …”

“…I mentioned Mella. I could have mentioned Guiteras, or Trejo who died [...]who died in one of those demonstrations on September 30…”

“…when the Batista tyranny returned with a vengeance, many students fought and many students died, and that young man from Cardenas, Manzanita as he was called, always smiling, always jovial, always affectionate with everyone, became well-known for his bravery, his integrity [...] when he faced the police.”

“If you visit the house where [Jose Antonio] Echevarria lived –Jose Antonio, we’ll call him—you’ll see that it is a good house, an excellent house. You could see how the students were often oblivious of their social or class origins; at that age of so many hopes and dreams.

“At that university, there was only one medical faculty, and one teaching hospital, yet, many students received prizes and awards, first prize in medicine and even in surgery without ever having operated on anybody.”

“Some made it [...]That’s how there were good doctors, not a huge numbers of good doctors [...] they were unemployed and with the triumph of the Revolution, that’s where they went, straight to the USA and Cuba was left with half of all her medical doctors, 3,000 of them, and 25% of her professors. We started at that point, until we got to where we are today, standing up almost like the capital of world medicine.”

“…the country [...] have more than 70,000 medical doctors.”

“We came to the university at the end of 1945 and we began the armed struggle in Moncada on July 26th, 1953, [...] only eight years later, and the Revolution triumphed five years, five days and five months after Moncada, after a long journey by way of prison, exile and fighting in the mountains.”

“…not even being too knowledgeable about the laws of gravity. We headed upwards, struggling against the empire which was already the most powerful one [...] when another super-power also existed. [...] marching upwards, gaining experience, seeing our people and the Revolution gain in strength, until this point where we are today.”

“…the human being is the only one capable [...] of rising above all instincts [...] Nature fills us with instincts; it is education that fills us with virtues …”

“…in spite of the differences between human beings, they can become as one in a single instant or [...]they can be a million strong just through their ideas.”

“Ideas make us a combatant people on a collective and not just an individual basis; ideas make us a mass of revolutionaries. Then, the people can never be defeated…”

“…90 miles away from the colossal empire, the most powerful empire ever in the history of the world. Forty five years have passed and there it is, farther away than ever from the possibility of forcing the Cuban nation to its knees, the same nation they humiliated and offended for some time …”

“I think it was Agramonte, others say it was Céspedes, who responded to the pessimists when he had just 12 men with him: [...] with these 12 men I can make a nation [...] what we call a revolutionary conscience [...] nation is born of love for the homeland and love for the world; and we cannot forget that the homeland is humanity, a statement made more than a hundred years ago.”

“Never forget those who for years were our working class, going through decades of sacrifice, suffering the attacks of mercenary bands in the mountains, invasions like Girón, thousands of acts of sabotage that killed our sugar cane workers, our industrial and factory workers, those in the merchant marine or in the fishing industry, those who were suddenly attacked with cannons and bazookas, only because they were Cuban, only because they wanted to be independent, only because they wanted to improve the lot of our people…”

“Cuba speaks whenever it is necessary, and Cuba has much to say; but we are not in a hurry, we are not impatient. We know very well when, where and how to deliver the blows to the empire, its system and its lackeys.”

“…I believe that this humanity and all the great things it is capable of creating must be preserved while it is still possible to do so.”

“…this admirable and marvelous nation. Yesterday, it was but a seed and today it is a mighty tree with deep roots. Yesterday, it was filled with noble potential and today it is filled with true nobility. Yesterday, it dreamed of knowledge and today that knowledge is real, when we are just beginning in this huge university that today is Cuba.”

“…new cadres are springing up, young cadres.”

“As you know, we are presently waging a war against corruption, against the re-routing of resources, against thievery …”

“…But don’t you think for a moment that stealing resources and materials is just a present-day illness, nor is it an exclusive phenomenon of the Special Period. The Special Period aggravated it, because in this period we saw the growth of much inequality and certain people were able to accumulate a lot of money.”

“. In the times I’m referring to, we needed 800 kilograms of cement to produce a ton of concrete; it was good quality concrete [...] they should use only around 200 kilograms. See the wastage, the re-routing of resources, see the larceny”

“In this battle against vice there will be no truce for anyone and we shall be thoroughly scrupulous. We will appeal to everyone’s sense of honor. We are sure of one thing; every human being possesses a healthy dose of honor. When one looks in the mirror, one is not always the harshest of judges, even though, in my opinion, the first responsibility of a revolutionary is to be extremely severe with oneself.”

“Criticism and self-criticism, it’s all very good, as it did not exist in the past. However, if we are going to war we need weapons of greater caliber; we must carry out criticism and self-criticism in the school room, in the party cells and then outside the party cells, in the municipality and finally in the entire country.”

“Afterwards, we might have other questions. How much are we earning? And if the question deals with how much we are earning, we might begin to understand the dream of everyone being able to live on their salary or on their adequate pension. “

“I can assure you that we have become aware of this. The entire life is a learning process, right up to our last breath…“

“Here is a conclusion I’ve come to after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who thought they were experts in electrical systems. [...]be idiots if we think, for example, that economy is an exact and eternal science and that it existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and I offer my apologies to the thousands of economists in our country.

“All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today’s economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or that it is identical to the one in Lenin’s day or to the time when Karl Marx lived. Revisionism is a thousand miles away from my mind and I truly revere Marx, Engels and Lenin.”

“When I was a student, once I learned what utopian communism was, I realized that that’s what I was a utopian communist because all my ideas took off from the idea: “This is not good, this is bad, this is a crime. How can we possibly have an overproduction crisis and hunger at the same time, when there is more coal, more cold, more unemployed, because there is more capacity to create wealth? Wouldn’t it be simpler to produce and distribute the wealth?’

“Just as Karl Marx thought in the period of the Critique of the Gotha Program, it seemed like limits for abundance were inherent in the social system; it seemed that just as production forces developed, they could produce everything that the human being needed to satisfy all his essential requirements almost limitlessly, be they material, cultural, etc.”

“When he wrote political books like The 18th Brumaire and the Civil War in France, he was a genius with a crystal clear interpretation. His Communist Manifesto is a classic. You can analyze it and be more or less satisfied with this and with that. I moved on from utopian communism to a communism that was based on serious theories of social development …”

“In our real world, which must be changed, every revolutionary tactician and strategist has the obligation to conceive of a strategy and a tactic that will lead to the fundamental objective, to change the real world. No divisive tactic or strategy can be a good one. “

“I had the privilege of meeting the followers of the Liberation Theology once when I visited Allende in Chile, in 1971. I met many priests, representatives of various religious denominations, and they were presenting the idea of united forces in the struggle, regardless of any specific religious beliefs. “

“The world is desperately crying out for unity and if we cannot achieve a minimum of unity, we are not going to go anywhere.”

“Above all, Lenin studied State issues; Marx did not speak of the worker-peasant alliance because he lived in a country that had a highly developed industrial base; Lenin recognized the under-developed world, he was aware of the country where 80 to 90 percent were peasants, and even though it had considerable strength in its railroad workers and in some other industries, Lenin saw with utmost clarity the necessity to forge a worker-peasant alliance. No one before had spoken of this; they had philosophized, but they hadn’t talked about this. The first socialist revolution, the first real attempt at a just and egalitarian society, takes place in a huge semi-feudal, semi-under developed country. None of the previous societies slave-based, feudal, medieval or anti-feudal, bourgeois, or capitalist could ever propose the existence of a just society even though much was said about liberty, equality and fraternity. “

“Throughout history, the first serious human attempt to create the first just society began less than 200 years ago…”

“One could never have arrived at a strategy through dogma. Lenin taught us a lot, because Marx taught us to understand society. Lenin taught us to understand the State and the role of the State. “

“… when the USSR crumbled, many people were left on their own, including the Cuban revolutionaries. But we knew what we had to do, what our options were. Everywhere, revolutionary movements were carrying on their struggle. I am not going to say which ones, I’m not going to say who they were; but they were all very serious revolutionary movements and they asked us whether there should be some negotiation process in the face of such a desperate situation, whether the struggle should continue or not, whether negotiations should begin with the other side to strike a peace accord, even though everyone knew the consequences of such a peace. “

“…I would tell them: “You cannot ask us our opinion, as it will be you fighting the battle, and you alone who will die, not us. We know what we are going to do and what we are prepared to do: but these are decisions which each one must make for themselves.” That was the highest expression of our respect for the other movements. We have never attempted to impose ourselves on the basis of our knowledge and experience, or the enormous respect they show for our revolution which motivated them to listen to our point of view. “

“I believe that the experience of that first socialist State, a State that should have been fixed and not destroyed, was a bitter one. You may be sure that we have thought many times about that incredible phenomenon where one of the mightiest powers in the world disintegrated the way it did; for this was a power that had matched the strength of the other super-power and had paid with the lives of more than 20 million of her people in the battle against fascism. “

“Is it that revolutions are doomed to fall apart, or that men cause revolutions to fall apart? Can either man or society prevent revolutions from collapsing? I could immediately add to this another question: Do you believe that this revolutionary socialist process can fall apart, or not? (Exclamations of: “No!!”) Have you ever given that some thought? Have you ever deeply reflected about it? “

“Were you aware of all these inequalities that I have been talking about? Were you aware of certain generalized habits? Did you know that there are people who earn forty or fifty times the amount one of those doctors over there in the mountains of Guatemala, part of the “Henry Reeve” Contingent, earns in one month? It could be in other faraway reaches of Africa, or at an altitude of thousands of meters, in the Himalayas, saving lives and earning 5% or 10% of what one of those dirty little crooks earns, selling gasoline to the new rich, diverting resources from the ports in trucks and by the ton-load, stealing in the dollar shops, stealing in a five-star hotel by exchanging a bottle of rum for another of lesser quality and pocketing the dollars for which he sells the drinks. “

“I could also explain why we no longer cut cane today; there are no cane cutters here and the heavy machinery destroys the sugar cane fields. The abuses of the developed world and the subsidies have led to sugar prices that were scraping the bottom of the trash bins, on the world markets. In the meantime, Europe was paying its growers two or three times more. “

“So, we are now coming to the point of asking ourselves this question –I have already reached this point myself, some years ago– in the face of this super-powerful empire that stalks us and threatens us, that has transition plans and military action plans in this specific historical moment. “

“They are awaiting a natural and absolutely logical event, the death of someone. In this case, they have honored me by thinking of me. It might be a confession of what they have not been able to do in a long time. If I were a vain man, I could be proud of the fact that those guys admit that they are waiting for me to die, and this is the time. They are waiting for me to die, and everyday they invent something new: Castro has this, he’s suffering from that, and now the latest is that they say Castro has Parkinson’s disease. “

“Yes, it’s true, I had a very bad fall and I’m still in rehab for this arm (He shows the arm), and its improving. I’m very grateful for the circumstances which caused me to break my arm, because now I’m forced to be even more disciplined, to work more, to dedicate more time (almost 24 hours a day) to my job. I had been doing this ever since the Special Period began, and now I dedicate every second to my work and I fight harder than ever…”

“That’s a little like the guy (I was making reference to Forbes Magazine) who discovered that I was the wealthiest man in the world. “

“I asked you a question, comrade students; don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten, and I’d like to believe that you will never forget it. It is the question that I ask in view of historical experiences we have known, and I ask you all, without exception, to reflect on it: Can the revolutionary process be irreversible, or not? Which are the ideas or the degree of conscience that would make the reversal of the revolutionary process impossible? “

“A leader has a tremendous power when he enjoys the confidence of the masses that put full trust in his abilities. The consequences of errors committed by those in authority are terrible, and this has happened more than once during the revolutionary processes. “

“Such is the stuff for meditation. One studies history, one meditates on what happened here and there, on what happened today and on what will happen tomorrow, on where each country’s processes will lead, what path our own process will take, how it will get there, and what role Cuba will play in this process. “

“That was why I commented that one of our greatest mistakes at the beginning of, and often during, the Revolution was believing that someone knew how to build socialism. “

“What kind of a society would this be, how worthy of joy could we be when we assemble on a day like today, in a place like this, if we were not minimally aware of what we need to know, so that on our heroic island, this heroic people, this nation which has written pages in the history books like no other nation in the history of mankind can preserve the Revolution? Please, do not think that this who is speaking to you is a vain man or a charlatan, or someone inclined to bluff. “

“Forty-six years have passed and the history of this country is known and the people of this nation know it well. They also know their neighbor very well, the empire, with its size and its power, its strength and its wealth, its technology and its control over the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, all the world of finances. That country has imposed on us the most incredibly iron-clad blockade, which was discussed at the United Nations where 182 nations supported Cuba, voting freely even though they ran a risk voting against the empire. [...] We forged this Revolution alone, against all risk, for many long years and we had realized that if the day ever come when we would be under direct attack by the US, no one would ever fight for us, nor would we ask anyone to do so. I was making reference to the USSR. “

“It would have been naïve of us to think, or to ask for, or to expect that one super-power would fight against the other, in this day and age of modern technological development, to intervene in this island 90 miles away. We came to the conclusion that such support would never happen. And another thing: once we asked them directly, a few years before the collapse: “Tell us frankly.” : “No,” they said. It was the answer we knew they would give and from that point on, more than ever, we accelerated the development of our concept and we perfected the tactical and strategic ideas which have seen to the triumph and victory of the Revolution. The Revolution’s strength began with the struggle of seven armed men against an enemy with 80,000 troops including marines, soldiers and police, tanks, airplanes and all kinds of modern weaponry of the time. What an infinitely huge difference between our weapons and the weapons of that army, trained by the US, supported by the US and supplied by the US. “

“Today, we possess much more than those seven guns. We have a people who have learned to handle weapons; we have an entire nation which, in spite of our errors, holds such a high degree of culture, education and conscience that it will never allow this country to become their colony again. “

“This country can self-destruct; this Revolution can destroy itself, but they can never destroy us; we can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault. “

“I have been fortunate to have lived many years. That is not a special merit but rather, it is an exceptional opportunity to share with you everything that I am telling you, young leaders, all the leaders of the masses, all the leaders of the workers’ movement, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the women’s groups, the farmers, the veterans of the Revolution, organized throughout the country, hundreds of thousands who have struggled through the years carrying out glorious internationalist missions…”

“…it is impressive to see people from the most humble backgrounds in this country transform into 28,000 social workers and thousands of university students, university students!! What a force! And soon we shall also be seeing those who graduated a while ago in the Sports Coliseum. “

“The coliseum teaches us about Marxist-Leninism; it teaches us about social classes. A short while ago, about 15,000 doctors and medical students, some of them from ELAM (Latin American School of Medicine), and some from as far away as Eastern Timor, were gathered in the coliseum. It was an unforgettable event. “

“The image of those 15,000 white coats all together on graduation day can never be forgotten. That was the day that the “Henry Reeve” Contingent was created following in the tradition of many doctors who have been to places where exceptional events have taken place, in a time span much too brief to even imagine. “

“Allow me to tell you that today, human capital is practically superior to almost all of the others put together, and it is advancing very quickly to become the country’s most valuable resource. I’m not exaggerating. “

“They have discovered private gas stations, supplied with oil from these trucks. “

“We all know that many of the state owned trucks go all over the place, and sometimes they visit a relative, a friend, a family or a girl-friend. “

“I remember the time, several years before the Special Period, I saw a brand new Volvo front-loader on Fifth Avenue…one of those at the time would have cost 50,000 or 60,000 dollars. I wanted to know where the truck was heading at that speed so I asked my escort: “Hold on, ask him where he’s going; try to get an honest answer.” The driver confessed that he was off to visit his girl-friend in that new Volvo, going down Fifth Avenue at top speed. “

“Some things you’ll see, Mio Cid –I think it was Cervantes who said this— that would make the stones talk. “

“…this is some of what has been happening. In general, we all know, and many have said: “The Revolution can’t do that; no, it’s impossible; no, nobody can fix that.” But yes, the people are going to fix it this time, the Revolution is going to fix it, any way we can. Is it merely an ethical matter? Yes, it is above all an ethical matter; but even more, it is a vital economic matter. “

“Our nation is one of those that waste the most combustible energy in the world. We had proof of it right here, and you very honestly pointed it out; it is very important. No one knows the cost of electricity; no one knows the cost of gasoline; no one knows its market value. I was about to tell you that it is very sad when a ton of oil can cost 400 dollars and a ton of gasoline can cost 500, 600, 700 or on occasion 1000; this is a product which does not get cheaper. Whenever that happens it is circumstantial, and it does not last long…”

“Take a look at our nickel mines, leaving great holes where once there used to be a lot of nickel. This is happening to oil; the great oil fields have all been found and every day there is less of them. This is a subject about which we have had to think long and hard…”

“…if I remember correctly, there were around 3,000 entities that were handling convertible currency and were managing their profits with generous expenditures in convertible currency, buying this and that, painting their houses, buying a new car and getting rid of the old clunker. We realized that, given the conditions this country is living in, such habits must be broken…”

“Quite simply, we had to shut down sugar mills or we were going to disappear down the Bartlett Trench. The country had many, many economists and it is not my intention to criticize them, but speaking with the same honesty I used to describe the errors of the Revolution, I would like to ask why we hadn’t discovered that maintaining production levels of sugar would be impossible. The USSR had collapsed, oil was costing 40 dollars a barrel, sugar prices were at basement levels…so why did we not rationalize that industry instead of sowing 20,000 caballerias that year, equivalent of almost 270,000 hectares, obliging us to till the land with tractors and heavy ploughs, sowing cane that afterwards had to be cleaned using machinery, fertilize with expensive herbicides, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

“The USSR had already collapsed, we had been left without oil overnight, with no raw materials, no food, no cleaning products, nothing. Probably, it was good that this happened, after all. Maybe it was necessary that we suffered as we did, so that we are ready to give our lives a hundred times over before we surrender the country or the Revolution…”

“Maybe it was all necessary, for we have committed many errors. It is these errors that we are trying to correct, if you will, that we are in the process of correcting. “

“…without abuse of power! for nothing would ever justify the abuse of power. We must be audacious enough to tell the truth, but not all of it, because we don’t need to say everything at once. Political battles follow certain tactics, with adequate information, following their own path. [...] Don’t worry about what the bandits are saying or what the news services will report tomorrow or the day after: he who laughs last, laughs best. “

“It’s not just a matter of printing bills and distributing them without having them backed up with merchandise or services…”

“We ended up giving away the houses, some people bought theirs, they were the owners, they had paid 50 pesos a month, 80 pesos, or, if the money was sent to them from Miami, it amounted to about 3 dollars; some sold theirs in 15 000 or 20 000 dollars, when they had originally paid less than 500. “

“Can the country resolve its housing problem by giving away houses? And who will get them, the proletariat or the humble people? Many humble people were given houses for free and then they sold them to the new rich. How much can the new rich spend on a house? Is this socialism? “

“Maybe it’s down to necessity at a certain moment in time, maybe it’s a mistake, because the country suffered a shattering blow when overnight the great power fell and we were left alone, all on our own, and we lost all the markets on which to sell our sugar and we stopped getting supplies, fuel, even the wood with which to give a Christian burial to our dead. And everyone thought: ‘This will fall apart’, and the idiots still believe that it is all going to fall apart here and that if it doesn’t fall apart now it will fall apart later. And the more illusions they entertain and the more they think, the more we should think, the more we should draw our own conclusions, so that this glorious people who has so trusted all of us is never defeated. “

“The empire shall not come here to set up secret jails in which to torture progressive men and women from other parts of this continent that are today rising to fight for the second and final independence! “

“Before we go back to living such a repugnant and miserable life there better not be any memory, even the slightest trace, of us or our descendents. “

“They had fooled the world. When the mass media grew in full force it took control of peoples’ minds and exercised its power through not only lies, but also conditioned response. A lie isn’t the same as a conditioned response: a lie affects one’s knowledge whereas the conditioned response affects one’s ability to think. And being misinformed isn’t the same as having lost the ability to think, because responses have been created for you: ‘This is bad, that is bad; socialism is bad, socialism is bad’, they say, and all the ignorant people and all the humble people and all the exploited people are saying: ‘Socialism is bad’. ‘Communism is bad’. And all the poor people, all the exploited people and all the illiterate people are repeating it: ‘Communism is bad’. “

“‘Cuba is bad, Cuba is bad’, the empire has said it, it has been said in Geneva, it has been said all over the place, and all the exploited people around the world, all the illiterate people and all those who don’t receive medical care, or education or have any guarantee of a job, or of anything are saying: ‘The Cuban Revolution is bad, the Cuban Revolution is bad’. “

“What are they talking about? What can the illiterate people do? How can they know if the International Monetary Fund is good or bad, or that interest is higher, or that the world is being ceaselessly subjugated and pillaged by a thousand different methods put into practice by this system? They don’t know. “

“They don’t teach the masses to read and write, yet they spend a million dollars on publicity every year; but it isn’t the fact that they spend it, it’s the fact that they spend it on creating conditioned responses, because someone bought Palmolive, someone else bought Colgate, and someone else bought Candado soap, just because they were told to a hundred times over, because they associated the products with a pretty image and this sowed its seed and carved its place in the brain. They who talk so much of brainwashing, it is they who carve their place, who mould the brain, who take away from the human being his capacity to think; it would be less serious if they were taking away the ability to think from someone who had been to university, who could read a book. “

“What can the illiterate read? What means have they of realizing that they are being conned? What means have they of knowing that the biggest lie in the world is the one that claims that the rotten system that reigns over there and what they have in many places, if not almost all of the countries that copied that system is a democracy? [...]This is what, in the end, makes everyone much more revolutionary than they were when they were unaware of many of these things, when they only knew about elements of injustice and inequality. “

“At the moment, while I’m talking to you about this, I’m not theorizing, although it is necessary to theorize; we are working, we are moving towards full changes in our society. “

“The price of oil nowadays is not in keeping with any supply and demand rule; it conforms to other factors like the shortages, the extensive squandering by the rich countries, and it’s not a price that is anyway in keeping with economic rules either. The reason behind it is the shortage of this product together with the increasing and extraordinary demand for it. “

“We invite everyone to take part in a great battle, it’s not just a fuel and electricity battle, it’s a battle against larceny, against all types of theft, anywhere in the world. I repeat: against all types of theft, anywhere in the world. “

“I’m not against anyone, but neither am I against the truth. I don’t believe any lies, I’m sorry, but I’m telling them all now that they are going to loose the battle, and it won’t be an act of injustice or abuse of power. “

“In total you spend 1.9 dollars for 300 kilowatts of electricity; that is to say, 0.63 cents of a dollar for one Cuban kilowatt of electricity. How amazingly brilliant! “

“How much do the Cuban people spend because of that dollar that is sent to you from over there? Because that wasn’t a dollar that you earned, or a peso, by working for it [...]; it was sent to you by a healthy person, who studied free of charge right from primary school, who isn’t ill, they are the healthiest citizens that go to the United States, where there is an Adjustment Act, and where the sending of remittances is also prohibited. “

“Obviously, you didn’t spend any of what they sent you on medicine, for medicine here are subsidized, if you bought it in the drugstore, that is, what wasn’t stolen and resold, and then you spent 10% of what it costs in hard currency. If you went to the hospital and had an ankle or even heart operation, your operation could cost 1000, 2000, 10,000 in the United States; if you suffer a stroke and are given a valve, this could cost one of our employees over in the Interests Section 80,000 dollars, but here you’re treated. There could an incident of mistreatment in a hospital, but have you ever been to a hospital where you have not been treated? “

“One day, the Revolution will be able to trace the location of every truck anywhere, using the most sophisticated technical instruments. Nobody will be able to take that truck to pay a visit to auntie or to the sweetheart. Not that there is anything wrong with looking after your private business, but it cannot be done in a vehicle used for work…”

“We have to apply maximum rationality to salaries, prices, pensions. There should be zero over-spending and wastage. We are not a capitalist country where everything is left to chance. “

“Subsidies and free services will be considered only in essentials. [...] “What are we going to pay all this with?”[...] Everything that is within our reach, everything belongs to the people, the only thing not to be allowed is egotistical and irresponsible wastage of our wealth. “

“I really had no intention of getting involved in a dissertation on such sensitive matters, but it would have been a crime not to take advantage of the moment and tell you some of the things related to the economy, to the material life of the country, to the future of the Revolution, to revolutionary ideas, to the reasons why we began this struggle, to the colossal strength we possess today, the country we are today and we may continue to be, which is much more than we are now. “

“I have been speaking to you with all the trust that I can. “

“…the country will have much more but it will never be a consumer society. It will be a society of knowledge, of culture, of the most extraordinary human development imaginable, development in art, culture, science [...] with a breadth of liberty that no one will be able to dismantle. We know this already, we don’t need to proclaim it, but it is worth remembering. “

“Nobody should have the right to manufacture nuclear weapons. There should be no privileges for imperialism to impose its hegemonic rule and to take the natural resources and raw materials away from the nations of the Third World. “

“There must be an end to stupidity in the world, and to abuse, and to the empire based on might and terror. It will disappear when all fear disappears. Every day there are more fearless countries. Every day there will be more countries that will rebel and the empire will not be able to keep that infamous system alive any longer. “

“It’s only fair to struggle for that and that is why we must use all our energy, all our effort and all our time to be able to say with the voice of millions, or hundreds of thousands of millions of people: It is worthwhile to have been born! It is worthwhile to have lived! “

This way I ended my speech, which I ratify today once again.

Thank you.

November 17, 2010.