Category: Latin America
Statement of Presbyterian Church on Cuba and USA
| July 4, 2014 | 4:18 pm | International, Latin America | No comments

Date: Friday, 2014 June 27 22:59

http://www.nnoc.info/presbyterian-church-u-s-a-takes-actions-regarding-cuba/

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Takes Actions Regarding CubaJun 27, 2014 by NNOC Admin« The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Annual Report 2014 The just-concluded General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved two resolutions regarding Cuba. End Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” By a vote of 481 to 63, the General Assembly adopted resolution 11-03: “Petition the President of the United States and the U.S. Department of State to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism as soon as possible.” [1] The stated rationale for the resolution included the following:“[T]here is no evidence that Cuba has provided [logistical and financial or political support to groups that carry out terrorist attacks on civilians] in recent decades or is currently providing it.”“To the contrary, Cuba has made international commitments to combat terrorism, has ratified all twelve international counterterrorism conventions, and has offered to sign a bilateral agreement with the United States on counterterrorism.”“In an immediate response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., by Islamist militants belonging to Al Qaeda, Cuba expressed solidarity with the U.S, condemning the attacks and offering Cuban airports for the emergency diversion of airplanes from U.S. airports.”“Cuba is a sponsor of the peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo or FARC) guerrillas and the Columbian government and is playing a constructive mediating in these talks in an effort to bring an end to one of the regions’ longest-standing conflicts and has been lauded by the Columbian government for its assistance.”“Cuba collaborates with the U.S. in counter-drug traffic efforts, interdicting narcotic shipments in the Caribbean and has been publicly thanked by the United States government for this cooperation.”“Under these circumstances, keeping Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism weakens the credibility of the entire list. . . . Removing Cuba from the list would send a positive signal to all Latin American governments and would enhance the image of the U.S. in this hemisphere and around the world.”End Restrictions on U.S. Citizens Traveling to CubaBy a hand vote the General Assembly approved resolution 11-05: “Petition the President of the United States, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to remove all of the restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba, which it is legally possible for them to do, and to openly and vigorously advocate to Congress the repeal of all laws restricting the constitutional right of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.” The resolution also stated: “Petition the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to work to repeal all of the laws restricting travel to that nation.”The rationale for this resolution included the following: “[M]illions of U. S. citizens are unable to visit Cuba because of restrictions still in place that limit travel to that nation. Speaking to the Organization of American States in 2013, U. S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, stated that ‘our people are actually our best ambassadors.’ . . . Increased travel by U. S. citizens will help support thousands of . . . [new] Cuban entrepreneurs and will enable them to purchase food and clothing and provide for their other basic needs.” Consultation of U.S. and Cuban Presbyterian Churches The General Assembly also considered Resolution 11-06 calling for developing a process for consultation between the U.S. and Cuban Presbyterian churches. By a hand vote, it was referred back to the appropriate church committee to find the necessary funding for such a process in light of the U.S. church’s “commitment to deepening our relationship [with Cuba] by careful analysis of the ongoing complex situation in Cuba.”ConclusionThe biennial General Assembly is the national governing body of the Presbyterian church (U.S.A.) that brings together commissioners and advisory delegates from all 172 presbyteries in the U.S., as well as other delegates and observers from around the world.

Cuba responds to Google CEO’s call for open Internet
| July 4, 2014 | 4:14 pm | International, Latin America | No comments

Published July 02, 2014
EFE
The U.S. economic embargo prevents Cubans from accessing many Google services, Communist Party daily Granma said Wednesday, reacting to comments by the search giant’s chief during a recent visit to the island.

CEO Eric Schmidt and three other Google executives traveled to Cuba last week “to promote the virtues of a free and open Internet,” dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said in a post on her site, 14ymedio.

Cuba is “one of the few countries in the world that cannot access a good part of the services” offered by Google because the California-based company is bound by the “unjust laws” of the U.S. economic embargo, Granma said.

Neither Android apps nor platforms such as Google Analytics are available to Internet users in Cuba, the newspaper said.

Granma noted that Schmidt criticized the U.S. embargo in comments online after his visit to Cuba.

Very few Cubans have Web access from their homes and the only option for most people is going to a government-run Internet cafe or to a hotel serving tourists.

Connection charges are steep for a country where the average monthly wage is $20.

While Cuba’s Internet links improved substantially with the arrival in 2011 of an underwater fiber-optic cable connecting the island with Venezuela, the government says it will take years to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure to the point where widespread home Web access will be possible. EFE

Father Geoffrey Bottoms sends a letter to President Obama
| July 4, 2014 | 4:09 pm | Cuban Five, International, Latin America | No comments

Father Geoffrey Bottoms is a British Catholic priest. He is an executive member of the British Cuba Solidarity Campaign and has visited Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, and Fernando González in their various US prisons and met regularly with their families. He also leads Group Study Tours of Cuba each year on behalf of the British campaign. Father Bottoms is a follower of liberation theology and is actively involved in the labour and trade movement. He is a member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union in the UK.

July 5, 2014

Dear President Obama,

As a Catholic priest in Britain I have followed the case of five Cuban prisoners in the United States known as the Cuban Five since 2002. They were convicted in Miami of charges ranging from failure to disclose themselves as foreign agents to conspiracy to commit espionage and even murder and were given sentences stretching from fifteen years to double life. In reality they were defending their people against acts of terrorism by certain Cuban-American groups in Miami hostile to Havana that have killed almost three thousand five hundred people and injured over two thousand others.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the recommendation of its Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and Amnesty International have both raised concerns as to the fairness and impartiality of a trial that took place in such a hostile environment as Miami where there were irregularities in the due process of law. An International Commission of Inquiry held in London in March of 2014 led by three internationally renowned judges reached a similar conclusion.

I have attended three appeals on behalf of the Five in Miami and Atlanta and heard the arguments for myself. I have also visited three of the prisoners and met with their families and am convinced that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice.

Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez have both returned to Cuba having served their sentences but I am appealing for the release of Gerardo Hernandez serving double life in USP Victorville, California, Antonio Guerrero serving 22 years in FCI Marianna, and Ramon Labanino (known as Luis Medina) serving thirty years in FCI Ashland. The appeal process has now reached the stage of Habeas Corpus with fresh evidence having come to light of journalists in the pay of the US government writing biased reports both before and during the trial itself.

Mr. President, I know that you are a man of peace having won the Nobel Peace Prize and that you are also a man of faith who attempts to put his Christian principles into practice in public life. I therefore appeal for the release of the remaining three Cuban prisoners in the interests of furthering relations between the US and Cuba and world peace. Surely a humanitarian resolution to this case can be found?

The world has moved on since 1959 and it is obvious that US policy towards Cuba since then has failed to achieve its objectives. Meanwhile much suffering has been caused not least to these men and their families and especially Adriana, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, who has been consistently denied a visa to visit her husband since 1998. I believe that they are victims of this failed strategy.

Both your country and Cuba stand to benefit from a relationship of mutual respect and co-operation and your presidency could be defined by ending decades of this sterile policy towards a noble and heroic developing country on your doorstep that only wishes to pursue its humanitarian future free from outside interference.

Can you do it? Yes you can!

With the greatest respect,

Fr. Geoffrey Bottoms
Sheffield UK.

ZunZuneo and the U.S. Policy
| June 29, 2014 | 8:19 pm | International, Latin America | No comments

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/27/destabiliziation-in-latin-america/

Destabiliziation in Latin America
June 27, 2014

ZunZuneo and the U.S. Policy
Destabiliziation in Latin America
by Matt Peppe

News from the AP about the U.S. government’s secret project to create a Cuban Twitter or “ZunZuneo,” to be used for disseminating propaganda and fomenting unrest in Cuba, spurring young people in that country to overthrow their government, comes as no surprise to anyone with even the most cursory understanding of U.S. policy in Cuba and Latin America in general. It is but a tiny part of a 55-year-old, completely unprovoked, genocidal policy against a nation whose only offense is failing to subordinate itself to the will of the U.S. government.

ZunZuneo was initiated and run by the ostensibly “humanitarian” U.S. Agency for International Development through a series of shell corporations which were not supposed to be traced back to the government. The project is typical of the type of subversion and interference with another nation that the U.S. government has always felt entitled to undertake, regardless of the principles of sovereignty and self-determination fundamental to international law.

Due to Cuba’s successful revolution in 1959 and their ongoing ability to resist U.S. subversion of their socioeconomic system, U.S. actions against the tiny nation in the Carribean have been harsher than any other victim who fails to recognize the U.S. as its rightful master. Early destabilization efforts included a vicious campaign of terrorism against Cuba, part of a massive CIA effort that later evolved into a policy of providing safe haven to terrorist exile groups and looking the other way as they violate the U.S. Neutrality Act and international law.

The largest act of subversion is, of course, the blockade, euphemistically known in the U.S. as an “embargo.” The U.S. blockade against Cuba has now lasted more than a half century as a punishment for Cuba achieving self-determination. The blockade is an act of warfare, as it is based on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 (TWEA), which is only applicable during times of war. The blockade has been expanded and strengthened over the years with various violations of international law such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Torricelli Act. The policy of the U.S. blockade has been found to be an illegal violation of international law for 22 straight years by 99% of the world’s nations, who have demanded its end.

The attempted subversion of a country’s political system is not unique to U.S. actions against Cuba, nor is it unique to USAID. Other U.S. government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), have long carried out similar actions. Such organizations purport to be apolitical groups for “democratic” promotion but are in reality nothing more than fronts, essentially political action committees (PACs). Due to the concealment of their purpose, they are more like political slush funds used to advanced the perceived interest of the United States.

Of course, they are not used to promote American “values” or “humanitarian principles” with abstract names like “freedom” and “democracy”, but the interests of the corporate sector eager to seek new investment opportunities outside their own country and control over the resources that they refuse to recognize as the property of local populations.

For example, over the last 15 years in Venezuela the U.S. spent $90 million funding opposition groups, including $5 million in the current federal budget. During this time, since Hugo Chavez first assumed office, his revolutionary party has won 18 elections and lost only 1. The margins of victory during Chavez’s tenure reached higher than 20%. After his death, his hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro won by a margin of 1.6% in 2012. This is a very narrow margin, to be sure, but as Dan Kovalik points out it is a margin of victory larger than JFK’s victory over Richard Nixon and certainly larger than George Bush’s victory over Al Gore. Bush actually lost the popular vote but was declared the winner by the Supreme Court in an instance of political mettling that would be hard to imagine in any other democracy in the world.

Despite the success of the Chavista party, the opposition, aided and abetted by the U.S. government, has tried to portray the elections as “questionable” or “illegitimate”. Secretary of State John Kerry led the way by calling for a recount, encouraging the opposition to challenge the results of the election and refuse to concede.

“Washington’s efforts to de-legitimise the election mark a significant escalation of US efforts at regime change in Venezuela,” wrote Mark Weisbrot. “Not since its involvement in the 2002 military coup has the US government done this much to promote open conflict in Venezuela… It amounted to telling the government of Venezuela what was necessary to make their elections legitimate.”

In fact, international organizations monitoring the Venezuelan Presidential vote attested to the “fair and transparent” election process and former President Jimmy Carter called the country’s electoral system “the best in the world.”

The U.S. government has also refused to recognize the vast advances social progress made under the current government. Under Chavez, the country drastically reduced poverty, especially extreme poverty, with the latter falling from 23.4% in 1999 to 8.5% in 2011. As the government has put its massive revenues from oil sales to use to provide universal education and health care for all Venezuela’s citizens, people traditionally shut out of the country’s economic gains have benefited tremendously. Venezuela has gone from one of the highest rates of income inequality in Latin America to the lowest, a truly Herculean accomplishment.

Yet this does not even factor into the U.S.’s policy toward Venezuela. As a cable published by Wikileaks from 2006 demonstrates, the U.S. policy of destabilization and regime change against Hugo Chavez was pursued until his death. Now, with the perceived weakness of Maduro and the propaganda value of violent street protests portrayed in the international media as a “student movement”, it seems that Kerry is like a shark who smells blood in the water when he slanderously proclaims a “terror campaign” and foments further unrest.

U.S. government officials must feel frustrated at their inability to project their will for Venezuela to be subservient to the United States. After all, it has proved much easier in countries such as Honduras to oust a democratically elected President as happened with Manuel Zelaya.

“Zelaya was initiating such dangerous measures as a rise in minimum wage in a country where 60 percent live in poverty. He had to go,” wrote Noam Chomsky, who goes on to note that the U.S. virtually alone in the world in recognizing the “elections” later held under military rule of Pepe Lobo. “The endorsement also preserved the use of Honduras’ Palmerola air base, increasingly valuable as the U.S. military is being driven out of most of Latin America.”

Unsurprisingly, four years after the coup a Center for Economic and Policy Research report finds that “much of the economic and social progress experienced from 2006 – 2009 has been reversed in the years since,” with “economic inequality in Honduras” rising “dramatically.”

The next success of Obama’s administration in Latin America was the coup in Paraguay, in which the right-wing, elite opposition was able to drive democratically-elected Fernando Lugo from the Presidency and thus stop his program of promoting land rights for a long-oppressed peasant population.

“The United States promotes the interests of the wealthy of these mostly-poor countries, and in turn, these elite-run countries are obedient to the pro-corporate foreign policy of the United States,” writes Shamus Cooke.

There was also the coup last year against the progressive former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Gustavo Petro. His supposed abuse of power was de-privatizing garbage collection in the capital city, which allegedly harmed the “freedom of free enterprise.” The anti-democratic actions in Colombia, a beneficiary of an enormous amount of U.S. aid, have not affected the U.S. policy toward the nation. Kovalik notes that the actions taken against Petro are part of a much larger pattern.

“While the press, as well as the U.S. government, will not acknowledge it, the elimination of progressive political leaders by coup d’ état is taking place in Latin America with increasing frequency,” Kovalik writes.
Of course this is part of long-standing U.S. policy that has destroyed democracies in countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and many other nations since the end of WWII alone. The anti-democratic measures enabled and supported by the U.S. have taken decades to recover from, if the nations victimized have been able to recover at all.

Media reporting of the story has tended to downplay or apologize for the Cuban Twitter program by stressing the U.S. government denials that it was meant to overthrow the government, or it was beneficial in allowing Cubans to communicate with each other.

Not surprisingly, Cubans themselves do not see it this way. They understandably do not appreciate an underhanded attempt to collect their personal data or to use them as pawns in a political game.

This should be a reasonable position for any American to understand. Would you support China or Russia setting up a social network meant to overthrow your government to impose one more to their liking?

Certainly not. The plot in the fictitious House of Cards of infiltration of the U.S. political process by foreign money probably seems shocking to the average American. In this country, it is a crime for foreign countries or nationals to influence democracy and domestic affairs through political contributions.In reality, this is exactly what the U.S. government has carried out in foreign countries for decades. ZunZuneo is demonstrable proof they continue to do so to this day. ZunZuneo is not just a case of USAID and the U.S. government getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar. It is part of an ongoing assault against sovereignty and self-determination of any country who opposes U.S. foreign policy. People of these countries are just as smart, capable, and deserving of a government independent of outside interference as U.S. citizens are.By simply recognizing that their government has no business in determining another country’s political affairs, and demanding that their government stop spending their tax dollars to do so, U.S. citizens could do more to advance democracy and the ideals their country claims to stand for than the U.S. government has ever done.

Matt Peppe holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at SUNY Albany and a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature from NYU. His writing about U.S. foreign policy and Latin America has appeared in Countercurrents, La Respuesta Magazine and other outlets. You can read his blog or follow him on twitter.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/27/destabiliziation-in-latin-america/

Red Bull Roped and Punished at Washington’s Anti-Cuba Rodeo
| June 29, 2014 | 8:12 pm | International, Latin America | No comments

HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 28 (acn) Red Bull North America energy drinks firm became the most recent victim of the over-50-year US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, thus joining the list of companies punished by Washington for violating the unilateral US sanctions.

According to Reuters news agency, the US Treasury announced that the energy drinks company settled a potential civil liability suit for allege violations of the US’s anti-Cuba policy, which has been repeatedly condemned by the international community.

Red Bull North America agreed to pay 89 thousand 775 dollars for having shot a documentary film in Cuba without authorization from the Department of the Treasury, the agency reported.

But this is not the first time that Washington punishes commercial or financial entities for having any kind of relations with Cuba.

The United States now intends to fine the National Bank of Paris BNP Paribas with 10 billion dollars for alleged violations of US sanctions against Cuba and other countries.

In May, American International Group, in the field of international insurance and services, also agreed to pay a 279-thousand-dollar fine for having relations with the Caribbean nation.

Earlier that month, Decolar.com travel agency, based in Argentina, also agreed to pay 2.8 million dollars for having made transactions that allegedly violated the US blockade of Cuba.

Other banks were also punished by Washington, including UBS of Switzerland and Australia and New Zealand Bank for the same reasons.

The cost of the US blockade on Cuba has been calculated at over one trillion 157 billion dollars and constitutes a violation of the UN Charter and international law.

Argentina wants to continue paying its debts but they won’t let it

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

ARGENTINA WANTS TO CONTINUE PAYING

ITS DEBTS BUT THEY WON’T LET IT

Argentina wants to continue paying its debts, just as it has been doing since 2005, but this is now hindered by Judge Thomas Griesa’s ruling and by the US Supreme Court’s refusal to take on the case

The default of the Argentine Republic in 2001 was the biggest one in the world’s financial history, largely exceeding 100 billion US dollars. Decades of overindebtedness and low growth left the country with a debt amounting to over 160% of its GDP, an unemployment rate close to 25% and over 50% of its population in poverty. Since 2003, several measures were implemented that were aimed at normalizing the country’s international financial relations. The fundamental principle of all negotiations conducted with creditors was always the same: in order to be able to pay, Argentina must first grow, so as to generate the resources that will enable it to honour its commitments. Growth to enable payments has been the hallmark of all debt negotiations conducted by Argentina since 2003. Under this approach, for over a decade, Argentina’s economy has been growing, bringing down unemployment and continuing to reduce its debt, to such an extent that foreign currency-denominated public debt owed to the private sector currently does not exceed 8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The process to restructure the debt that was defaulted on in 2001 still continues. Along this difficult road, the debt owed to the International Monetary Fund was repaid in full, an agreement was reached with creditors in connection with the final awards of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), obligations to international organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Andean Development Corporation were also honoured in full and, recently, payment over a period of up to 7 years was agreed with the Paris Club, in addition to the compensation given to the company REPSOL, within the context of the retaking of control over 51% of the shares in oil company YPF.

Without doubt, the most complex problem was to reach a deal with the thousands of holders of debt in default since 2001, amounting to 81 billion US dollars. But Argentina was successful in this regard … it reached an agreement for a voluntary exchange of defaulted instruments for new bonds involving a haircut, longer term and lower rate, which ensured that the commitment undertaken by the country would be sustainable. The exchange offer was made in 2005 and again in 2010, finding acceptance among 92.4% of creditors. One of the keys to success was, as is customary in such transactions, the fact that both Argentinean legislation as well as the prospectus of the instruments issued prevent the offering of better conditions to creditors who failed to accept the offer (holdouts). Since 2003, through the efforts of all of the Argentine people, debt service payments related to the whole restructured debt have been made punctually, in an amount of over 190 billion dollars and with no access to international financial markets.

7% of bondholders did not accept the restructuring. The vulture funds that secured a ruling in their favour are not original lenders to Argentina. They purchased bonds in default at obscenely low prices for the sole purposes of engaging in litigation against Argentina and making an enormous profit. Paul Singer’s NML fund, for example, in 2008 paid only 48.7 million US dollars for bonds in default. Judge Griesa’s ruling now orders that it be paid an amount of 832 million U.S. dollars, i.e., a gain of 1,608% in only six years.

Argentina has appealed against New York District Court Thomas Griesa’s ruling, which orders payment of 1.5 billion dollars to be made on June 30, which is the due date of the next payment related to the restructured debt. However, it is estimated that the total bonds in default that did not enter the restructuring processes amount to 15 billion US dollars, i.e. over 50% of Argentina’s foreign currency reserves. Judge Griesa’s ruling would push the country to a new default. This is so because if Argentina does pay the 1.5 billion, it will have to pay 15 billion in the immediate future. To make matters worse, under the laws of Argentina and the clauses governing the restructured instruments (RUFO), if the vulture funds were to be paid, all other bondholders would demand equal treatment, involving an estimated cost of over 120 billion US dollars. If, on the other hand, Argentina does not pay the vulture funds, Judge Griesa’s ruling forbids Argentina to make payments to 92.4% of the bondholders who did accept the restructuring, as the judge has issued orders to the Bank of New York and to the settlement agencies for them not to pay.

In other words: paying the vulture funds is a path leading to default, and if they are not paid, Judge Griesa’s order entails jeopardizing the right of the bondholders to collect their debt restructured in 2005 and 2010.

Meanwhile, the vulture funds have invested millions of dollars in lobbying and propaganda, trying to make the whole world believe that Argentina does not pay its debts and refuses to negotiate. However, precisely since 2003, the way out of default while reducing debt was by negotiating and paying. Even today, Argentina still keeps the possibility of an exchange open for all those who respect the principle of equality. A decision of the U.S. Judiciary favourable to 1.6% of the bondholders, who are specialized in litigation, jeopardizes a debt restructuring voluntarily accepted by 92.4% of the creditors. The legal interpretations relied upon in Judge Griesa’s rulings have been called into question by the most varied parties: the governments of France, Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay; settlement agency Euroclear and the Fintech fund. Joseph Stiglitz, Anne Kruger, Nouriel Roubini have also made statements along the same lines, as well as CELAC, the G24, G77, and 106 British parliamentarians. Even the US government and the IMF have shown concern at the global implications of the ruling.

This ruling seeks to put Argentina in a delicate position, but also any other country that may have to undertake a restructuring of its debts in the future. Under the domestic legislation of any country, when there is a suspension of payments and 66% of creditors agree to a deal, the rest are also obliged to accept. As there is no legal framework governing the default of a sovereign country, this precedent means that even if 99.9% voluntary acceptance were to be achieved, 0.1% of creditors could invalidate the whole restructuring.

The will of Argentina is clear: we expect a judicial decision that promotes fair and balanced negotiating conditions to resolve this protracted and difficult dispute that has affected, affects and will continue to affect the Argentina people due to the voracity of a minute group of speculators.

- Presidency of the Nation -

- Argentine Republic -

Contact: Analia Rach Tel. +54 (11) 4114-9595

Email: privada@jefatura.gob.ar

The default of the Argentine Republic in 2001 was the biggest one in the world’s financial history, largely exceeding 100 billion US dollars. Decades of overindebtedness and low growth left the country with a debt amounting to over 160% of its GDP, an unemployment rate close to 25% and over 50% of its population in poverty. Since 2003, several measures were implemented that were aimed at normalizing the country’s international financial relations. The fundamental principle of all negotiations conducted with creditors was always the same: in order to be able to pay, Argentina must first grow, so as to generate the resources that will enable it to honour its commitments. Growth to enable payments has been the hallmark of all debt negotiations conducted by Argentina since 2003. Under this approach, for over a decade, Argentina’s economy has been growing, bringing down unemployment and continuing to reduce its debt, to such an extent that foreign currency-denominated public debt owed to the private sector currently does not exceed 8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The process to restructure the debt that was defaulted on in 2001 still continues. Along this difficult road, the debt owed to the International Monetary Fund was repaid in full, an agreement was reached with creditors in connection with the final awards of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), obligations to international organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Andean Development Corporation were also honoured in full and, recently, payment over a period of up to 7 years was agreed with the Paris Club, in addition to the compensation given to the company REPSOL, within the context of the retaking of control over 51% of the shares in oil company YPF.

Without doubt, the most complex problem was to reach a deal with the thousands of holders of debt in default since 2001, amounting to 81 billion US dollars. But Argentina was successful in this regard … it reached an agreement for a voluntary exchange of defaulted instruments for new bonds involving a haircut, longer term and lower rate, which ensured that the commitment undertaken by the country would be sustainable. The exchange offer was made in 2005 and again in 2010, finding acceptance among 92.4% of creditors. One of the keys to success was, as is customary in such transactions, the fact that both Argentinean legislation as well as the prospectus of the instruments issued prevent the offering of better conditions to creditors who failed to accept the offer (holdouts). Since 2003, through the efforts of all of the Argentine people, debt service payments related to the whole restructured debt have been made punctually, in an amount of over 190 billion dollars and with no access to international financial markets.

7% of bondholders did not accept the restructuring. The vulture funds that secured a ruling in their favour are not original lenders to Argentina. They purchased bonds in default at obscenely low prices for the sole purposes of engaging in litigation against Argentina and making an enormous profit. Paul Singer’s NML fund, for example, in 2008 paid only 48.7 million US dollars for bonds in default. Judge Griesa’s ruling now orders that it be paid an amount of 832 million U.S. dollars, i.e., a gain of 1,608% in only six years.

Argentina has appealed against New York District Court Thomas Griesa’s ruling, which orders payment of 1.5 billion dollars to be made on June 30, which is the due date of the next payment related to the restructured debt. However, it is estimated that the total bonds in default that did not enter the restructuring processes amount to 15 billion US dollars, i.e. over 50% of Argentina’s foreign currency reserves. Judge Griesa’s ruling would push the country to a new default. This is so because if Argentina does pay the 1.5 billion, it will have to pay 15 billion in the immediate future. To make matters worse, under the laws of Argentina and the clauses governing the restructured instruments (RUFO), if the vulture funds were to be paid, all other bondholders would demand equal treatment, involving an estimated cost of over 120 billion US dollars. If, on the other hand, Argentina does not pay the vulture funds, Judge Griesa’s ruling forbids Argentina to make payments to 92.4% of the bondholders who did accept the restructuring, as the judge has issued orders to the Bank of New York and to the settlement agencies for them not to pay.

In other words: paying the vulture funds is a path leading to default, and if they are not paid, Judge Griesa’s order entails jeopardizing the right of the bondholders to collect their debt restructured in 2005 and 2010.

Meanwhile, the vulture funds have invested millions of dollars in lobbying and propaganda, trying to make the whole world believe that Argentina does not pay its debts and refuses to negotiate. However, precisely since 2003, the way out of default while reducing debt was by negotiating and paying. Even today, Argentina still keeps the possibility of an exchange open for all those who respect the principle of equality. A decision of the U.S. Judiciary favourable to 1.6% of the bondholders, who are specialized in litigation, jeopardizes a debt restructuring voluntarily accepted by 92.4% of the creditors. The legal interpretations relied upon in Judge Griesa’s rulings have been called into question by the most varied parties: the governments of France, Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay; settlement agency Euroclear and the Fintech fund. Joseph Stiglitz, Anne Kruger, Nouriel Roubini have also made statements along the same lines, as well as CELAC, the G24, G77, and 106 British parliamentarians. Even the US government and the IMF have shown concern at the global implications of the ruling.

This ruling seeks to put Argentina in a delicate position, but also any other country that may have to undertake a restructuring of its debts in the future. Under the domestic legislation of any country, when there is a suspension of payments and 66% of creditors agree to a deal, the rest are also obliged to accept. As there is no legal framework governing the default of a sovereign country, this precedent means that even if 99.9% voluntary acceptance were to be achieved, 0.1% of creditors could invalidate the whole restructuring.

The will of Argentina is clear: we expect a judicial decision that promotes fair and balanced negotiating conditions to resolve this protracted and difficult dispute that has affected, affects and will continue to affect the Argentina people due to the voracity of a minute group of speculators.

- Presidency of the Nation -

- Argentine Republic -

Contact: Analia Rach Tel. +54 (11) 4114-9595

Email: privada@jefatura.gob.ar

Minstry of Foreign Affairs. Esmeralda 1212, C.A.B. A C1007ABR, Argentine Republic.

Tel. +54(11)4819-7000 – info@cancilleria.gob.ar  - http://mrecic.gov.ar/

Parliamentarians from Costa Rica ask Obama for a Humanitarian Solution to the Case of the Cuban 5

On June 2, 23 Parliamentarians from Costa Rica sent a letter to President Obama asking him to free Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, 3 of the Five Cuban antiterrorists imprisoned in the United States for more than 15 years. In the letter they mentioned the request made by Uruguayan President José Mujica and advocate for a humanitarian solution to the case of the Cuban 5. They also urge the U.S. Government to “seriously consider a humanitarian exchange of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, by the American contractor Allan Gross”.

June 2, 2014

San José Costa Rica, Central América

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500 USA.

Your Excellency Mr. President Obama,

This year, September 12 will mark 16 years since Five Cuban citizens were imprisoned in the United States and sentenced without any proof to long terms in prison ranging from 15 years to two life sentences. The trial in Miami lacked all guarantees to due process.

Since, September 12, 1998, these men have become recognized internationally as the “Cuban Five”. They are considered Cuban anti-terrorist patriots by the Cuban people and the peoples of our America, since their actions were to prevent terrorist acts against the people of Cuba and the United States.

The Presidential administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and your own time in office, have witnessed that since that time of their incarceration people from all over the world have rallied on their behalf. There has been a nonstop chorus of voices demanding that your government release immediately Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, three of the five Cubans who still remain in prison.

Mr. President, it is time that you put an end to this terrible injustice that during three administrations has shadowed the ideal of democracy and justice of your country. It reveals that double-speak and double standards prevails in this case and that concerns us.

You have in your hands the power to grant the executive pardon that they deserve so that they can return to their Cuban homeland to be with their families and their people.

Mr. President Obama, we members of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, today join the cry of the solidarity and social movements from all over the world, to support the proposal submitted to you by one of the most worthy Presidents of Latin America, his Excellency Mr. President of Uruguay José Mujica. He has expressed to you his deep concern in the case of the Five and the Guantánamo prisoners, cases which constitute two major embarrassments to humanity. On the other hand, we urge you to seriously consider the humanitarian exchange of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, for the American agent Alan Gross.

Mr. President, we hope that you pay attention to our request and put an end to this shameful injustice committed against the Cuban Five anti-terrorist patriots.

Sincerely yours,

Costa Rican Deputies to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica

Ligia Elena Fallas Rodríguez

Jorge Arguedas Mora

José Corrales L

José Antonio Ramírez Aguilar

Ronald Vargas Araya

Carlos Hernández Alvarez

Gerardo Vargas Varela

Edgardo Vinicio Araya Sibaja

Humberto Varas Corrales

Patricia Mora Castellanos

Javier Francisco Cambronero Arguedas

Marvin Antonio Delgado

Nidia M Jiménez Vásquez

Laura Garro S.

Marlene Madrigal Flores

Marta Arauz Mora

Jorge Rodríguez

Franklin Corella U

Rosibel Ramos Madrigal

Rafael Ortiz

Emilia Molina Cruz

Víctor Hugo Morales

Natalio Guerrero Campos

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

info@thecuban5.org
http://www.thecuban5.org