Category Archives: Caribbean

“Prison Aid” to Haiti for Captive Slave Labor

Cuban Society and Economic Development. Confronting Neoliberalism

Blatant Fraud in Haiti Elections: Form Unity Government

Emancipation Rebellion Heirs, Don’t Grin and Bear Jamaica’s Oppression!

The Grenada Revolution Can Teach Us About People’s Power

Haiti, Five Years After the Earthquake: Fraudulent Reconstruction Under Military Occupation

Euro-American Colonialism: Racist Terrorism

Police Violence in Jamaica and Grassroots Resistance

Obama in Cuba: Will the Visit Advance the US Cultural War Against Cubans?

Another Earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti?

Puerto Ricans Suffer as Creditors Feast on Debt Colony

Amaral Duclona: Bogeyman of Haiti’s Foreign Occupation

Haiti’s Martelly Government’s Assault on Local Journalists and Community Radio

Haiti’s Donor Supported “Democratic Dictatorship”

Cuba’s Operation Carlota 40 Years Later

The Continuing US Blockade of Cuba, the UN General Assembly Vote illustrates the Cold Reality

Jorge Risquet, Cuban Revolutionary Leader in African Affairs, Dies 40 Years After Angolan Campaign

Subversion Against Cuba Continues Uninterrupted Amidst Normalization

The Clinton Plan for Haiti. America’s Neo-Colonial Mandate

Haiti and the Profoundly Silent Chelsea Clinton

Cuba – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“Hollywood-Style” Foreign Policy: Remembering the 1983 US Military Intervention in Grenada

The Cuban Revolution, the U.S. Imposed Economic Blockade and US-Cuba Relations

Puerto Rico Considers “Fat” Tax on Obese Children: A Fight for Children’s Health or a Tax Collection Scheme?

Haiti: Two Days of Demonstrations and General Strike: “Down with he UN Occupation”, “Down with the President and Prime Minister”

How Human Rights Can Build Haiti

Why Did the UN Security Council Visit Haiti?

First round of US-Cuba talks end as restrictions eased

Haiti earthquake relief funds unaccounted for amid pervasive human misery

Cuba in the American Imagination

Cuba’s great new challenge

USAID Exposed in Cuba – What it Tells Us About US Subversion Worldwide

Global Research, December 13, 2014

drapeau-cuba-400x318Revealed in an Associated Press (AP) investigation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had for two years attempted to create and exploit a social network within Cuba for the purpose of sparking unrest and overthrowing the Cuban government. The program was an abject failure, primarily because the Cuban government took the necessary measures to investigate, interrogate, and otherwise disrupt what was foreign-backed sedition.

AP would reveal in its report titled, “US co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change,” that:

The program is laid out in documents involving Creative Associates International, a Washington, D.C., contractor paid millions of dollars to undermine Cuba’s communist government. The thousands of pages include contracts, emails, preserved chats, budgets, expense reports, power points, photographs and passports.

The work included the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” social network and the dispatch of inexperienced Latin American youth to recruit activists, operations that were the focus of previous AP stories.

Far from the first time USAID and other US organizations claiming to be aiding in development but in fact engaged in political subversion, the Cuban program itself was based on another US-backed program used to topple the government of Serbia in 2000, AP would reveal.

The USAID operation involved money covertly funneled into Cuba through front companies and offshore banks. USAID, despite the evidence, has wholly denied the operation, as has other US organizations caught in blatant political subversion.

Regarding USAID’s denial, AP would report:

“Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false,” USAID said in a statement Wednesday. Its programs were aimed at strengthening civil society “often in places where civic engagement is suppressed and where people are harassed, arrested, subjected to physical harm or worse.”

If by “civil society,” USAID means networks of political subversion operating in the interests of Wall Street and Washington, then that is precisely what USAID was doing in Cuba, and does elsewhere around the world. However, USAID’s insistence that none of its work was “secret or covert” is simply a lie.

AP, in another report titled, “5 things to know about USAID’s Cuban hip-hop plan,” would reveal that USAID covered up its Cuban program under the guise of “health and civic programs.”  The same report would claim that USAID funding was hidden from the Cubans themselves involved in the program, adding an extra layer of duplicity and deceit.

What USAID’s Cuban Subversion Tells Us About US Subversion Globally 

1. The United States is engaged in political subversion around the world, disguised as “democracy promotion” and even development aid for “health and civic programs.”

2.  It carries out subversion covertly through front companies, proxies, and third-party contractors, then blatantly denies all allegations no matter what evidence is produced by targeted countries, or even Western journalists investigating otherwise undeniable evidence.

3. The US uses social networks, youth groups of musicians, students, and social media groups based on Facebook and Twitter to create the illusion of growing opposition where none exists or exists but constitutes an obscure minority.

4. While the opposition movement engineered by USAID appeared oblivious to US involvement until the end, revealing documents published by AP illustrate just how utterly engineered the movement was, with psychological profiles of prominent members examined and with strategies, agendas, and objectives all determined from the top down by USAID and its contractors. Meeting minutes reveal overt attempts to manipulate individuals USAID sought to bring into their engineered opposition movement with meeting titles and talking points including, “What would motivate them to do what we ask?”

5. Despite lofty claims of “promoting democracy,” US programs are manipulative, insidious, dishonest, exploitative, and deceitful – not only to those drawn into the program, but also both the general population subjected to it in the targeted country and the global audience lied to about the true genesis of such movements when they finally do gain traction.

Revisiting Recent Political Unrest in Light of Cuba 

What other nations have suffered recent political unrest? Which of these nations featured opposition movements heavily involved with USAID and other US organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)? Knowing what we now know regarding Cuba and considering attempts by USAID to first cover up their program of concerted political subversion, then denying it, what parallels can we draw elsewhere?

Hong Kong, China: The so-called “Occupy Central” movement or “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, China featured multiple groups openly funded by USAID and NED. Othergroups, including student organizations meshed into these US-backed fronts so seamlessly and possessed such organizational abilities and clout across the Western media it is difficult to believe USAID was not also covertly involved with them. Joshua Wong’s “Scholarism” for example was accused by Beijing of being a US creation. The Wall Street Journal in its article, “Pro-Beijing Media Accuses Hong Kong Student Leader of U.S. Government Ties,” would state:

Evidence for Mr. Wong’s close ties to the U.S. that the paper cited included what the report described as frequent meetings with U.S. consulate personnel in Hong Kong and covert donations from Americans to Mr. Wong. As evidence, the paper cited photographs leaked by “netizens.” The story also said Mr. Wong’s family visited Macau in 2011 at the invitation of the American Chamber of Commerce, where they stayed at the “U.S.-owned” Venetian Macao, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Other “Occupy Central” leaders including Martin Lee and Anson Chan literally were in Washington D.C. earlier this year lobbying for US support in front of the very organizations funding the political activity of other co-leaders including Benny Tai and even Hong Kong University which was implicated in “dirty money” used to qualify an ad hoc referendum carried out by “Occupy Central” ahead of the recent protests.

US NED would deny any involvement in the protests with empty attempts at denial echoing those of USAID in regards to Cuba.

Thailand: Supporters of ousted mass murderer and dictator, Thaksin Shinawatraand Shinawatra himself have benefited from years of US backing, including extensive lobbying efforts in Washington and USAID/NED funding for so-called “activists” who attempt to pose as impartial “academics” or “rights advocates,” but clearly and consistently back Shinawatra and his political machine.

It was revealed that Chiang Mai University “academic” Pinkaew Laungaramsri and her “Book Re:public” was funded by both USAID and convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Sawatree Suksri, of the so-called “Nitirat Group” or “Enlightened Jurists” of Thammasat University, is likewise deeply involved in programs run by US NED. She took part in a US State Department “exchange program,” contributed to a NED Freedom House report used annually in coordination with subversion efforts to stack global public opinion against targeted nations, and even hosted Thaksin Shinawatra’s corporate lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam, in the front row of one of Nitirat’s public forums.

Perhaps most troubling of all is her ties to Thailand’s Prachatai website – funded millions of baht a year by NED, USAID, and Open Society. Prachatai, like those involved in the Cuban scandal, after first denying being funded at all, now denies their work and their extensive US funding is used for anything but “civic” programs. While they were forced to publish their extensive US funding in 2011, they have not updated it since, nor have they ever published the funding in Thai for their Thai readers. They are ceaseless proponents of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political machine, including his so-called “red shirt” street movement and the various disingenuous, US-funded academics described above.

Syria/Iran: In one particular 2009 US policy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia?” by the Brookings Institution regarding the overthrow of Iran, it is stated specifically that:

One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.

Here, US policymakers are openly conspiring to covertly provoke a nation through political subversion. The resulting “act of aggression” would be portrayed as “unprovoked,”and used to place increasing pressure on the targeted country.

The policy paper also openly talks about the particulars of fomenting political unrest. Under a section called literally, “Finding the Right Proxies” it states:

One of the hardest tasks in fomenting a revolution, or even just unrest, is finding the right local partners.

After openly admitting the goal of “fomenting a revolution” or “unrest,” it then details what support to provide these proxies:

 …students and other groups need covert backing for their demonstrations.  They need fax machines. They need internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up.  Beyond this, U.S.-backed media  outlets  could  highlight  regime  shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian-language satellite television (Voice of america Persian) and radio (radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion’s share of overt U.S. funding for promoting democracy in Iran). U.S. economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership.

The report also  mentions the use of armed groups supporting US-engineered sedition:

 Some who favor fomenting regime change in Iran argue that it is utopian to hold out hope for a velvet revolution; instead, they contend that the United States should  turn  to  Iranian  opposition  groups  that already exist, that already have demonstrated a desire to fight the regime, and who appear willing  to  accept  U.S.  assistance.  The  hope  behind this course of action is that these various opposition  groups  could  transform  themselves  into more  potent  movements  that  might  be  able  to overturn the regime.

In this 2009 document, we see verbatim the same methodologies exposed by AP in use in Cuba. We also see additional steps including the use of armed groups to carry out subversion and regime change. Such violence was employed in the above mentioned Southeast Asian nation of Thailand in 2009 and 2010, also admittedly in Iran, and most obviously in neighboring Syria where a now 4 year war has been waged by US-backed terrorists and has devastated the country.

Ukraine: These elements of political subversion were also all to be seen in Ukraine – a nation in which America and NATO’s incessant meddling is a matter of long-standing public record. The Guardian would admit in its 2004 article, “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” that (emphasis added):

…while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.

Not only has Ukraine suffered because of  this admitted US-backed political destabilization over the years, but as revealed by the Guardian and other sources, all of Eastern Europe has fallen prey to this brand of foreign-backed subversion, manipulation, and regime change.

Putting an End to US Subversion 

America’s global wrecking ball of subversion, torture dungeons, death squads, proxy wars, and outright military aggression is today’s most pressing threat to global stability, peace, and progress. Wall Street and Washington’s pursuit of global hegemony has left millions dead and entire nations in ruins.

Stopping this enterprise requires a concerted effort by nations, states and provinces, local communities, and individuals themselves to begin boycotting and permanently replacing with viable alternatives the corporate-financial monopolies driving this destructive hegemon.

To combat political subversion specifically, Cuba and China have set a series of good examples. For Cuba, ignoring the West’s “human rights” racket, constructed specifically to serve as cover for and to protect their agents of subversion from prosecution, has allowed them to search for and seize incriminating evidence used to expose USAID and their proxies thus turning Cuban public opinion against them. China likewise has done a masterful job exposing the foreign ties and illegitimacy of the “Occupy Central” movement, their true backers and their true agenda.

For most of these movements, they represent an obscure minority the US has attempted to artificially magnify both within their respective countries and upon the global stage. It is important for nations to address legitimate grievances and to reserve searches and seizures for agents of subversion only. Social upheaval and perceived injustices simply give the US and its networks of subversion a greater foothold to seize upon.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/usaid-exposed-in-cuba-what-it-tells-us-about-us-subversion-worldwide/5419679

Cuba, the Empire and Ebola

04.11.2014

Cuba, the Empire and Ebola. 53883.jpeg

‘The Ebola epidemic constitutes an enormous risk… we have to struggle so it does not become one of the greatest pandemics … by planning and working together … and this in turn requires political will, rigorous organisational discipline and efficiency.’

            – José Ángel Portal Miranda, Cuban Vice Minister of Health

by Tim Anderson

In early October, as a first group of 165 Cuban doctors arrived in Sierra Leone, the Wall Street Journal recognised that Cuba was ‘at the forefront’ of the battle against Ebola in Africa. This was unusual North American praise for Cuba.

The reluctant admission shows some of the reasoning behind a semi-covert relationship which has developed between Cuba and Washington over the Ebola crisis. Nevertheless, stark differences in approach signal the deep ideological divide between the would-be global empire and the small socialist island.

The imperial approach has been to present a militarised and self-referential response to Ebola, as a security threat to ‘Americans’. Focus quickly moved to ill-conceived quarantine measures. In contrast, Cuba’s international solidarity approach was to send trained health workers and help build a coordinated social medicine response, which includes specialist training for local health workers.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is transmitted by the bodily fluids of an infected person and has a fatality rate of from 25% to 90%. According to the WHO, 70% of affected people die because of the lack of proper treatment and facilities.

The Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was declared in March 2014 and, by late October, almost 5,000 people had died, 10% of them health workers. The WHO calls it an international public health emergency.

Local health workers die due to lack of training and lack of protective equipment and facilities. One member of the Cuban team in Guinea, Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, has already died, but from another deadly disease, cerebral malaria.

Margaret Chan, Director of the WHO, said: ‘What we need most are people, medical people … the most important thing to prevent the transmission of disease is to have the right people, appropriately trained specialists.’

Washington sent troops. US President Barrack Obama said: ‘we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source – in West Africa.’ The US troops were directed to secure facilities and build treatment centres.

With more than 4,000 health workers already in Africa, Cuba by late October had sent another 350, most of them doctors and all with specialist training. Mexico, Venezuela and even Timor Leste are logistically and financially supporting the Cuban effort. After Cuba, the international organisation Médecins Sans Frontières also has 270 international health workers in the affected countries, while employing many locals.

By the end of October, dozens of the almost nine hundred US troops in ‘Operation Unified Assistance’ in Liberia and Senegal were being withdrawn from West Africa, to face a quarantine regime in Italy and leaving behind USAID branded tent-style treatment centres. Photos from Liberia show that Cuban doctors are now using those facilities.

That link is not an accident. A report in the New York Times observes that ‘a mid-level official’ from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention attended a regional ALBA meeting on Ebola in Havana, and that Secretary of State John Kerry recently (and unusually) invited Cuba’s top diplomat in Washington (there is no ambassador, as the US and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations) to his speech on Ebola. The NYT writer aptly observes that the Ebola crisis ‘seems to be injecting a dose of pragmatism to Washington’s poisonous relationship with Havana’.

However we should not exaggerate the significance of this cooperation. The US and European relationship with West Africa has a dreadful history. Freed slaves from Britain and the US played a major role in the creation of both Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latter a British colony until 1961. Liberia became the focus of a ‘return to Africa’ movement in North America, after it became clear that the abolition of slavery in the US did not mean acceptance of African-Americans as equal citizens.

In more recent times western-controlled multilateral banks and aid agencies have made sure that these poorest of poor countries have not developed strong public education and health systems. The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) says the Ebola epidemic exposes ‘the chronic and deep wounds in the African Continent [from] colonialism, by the continuous plundering of the wealth-producing resources and by the high public debts that keep African states and their economies enslaved to the IMF, the World Bank and monopolies cartels’.

The WFTU observes that Ebola is facilitated by ‘the poverty, the malnutrition, the lack of basic healthcare infrastructure and social welfare’, the absence of strong public and free education systems, and the prevalence of slum housing along with militarised and violent states, panicking in face of desperation. All this is in place of what they could have: strong ‘human development enabling’ states (see Anderson 2014).

On top of this, West African countries have become the preferred site for western countries to dump chemical, electronic and apparently even nuclear waste. This was ‘market forces’ at work, as a 1988 report in the New York Times observed: ‘As safety laws in Europe and the United States push toxic disposal costs up to $2,500 a ton, waste brokers are turning their attention to the closest, poorest and most unprotected shores – West Africa’. Toxic waste dumping, although to a large degree outlawed by international conventions, has become as lucrative a business as trafficking in drugs and human beings (Brooke 1988, Selva 2006 and Koné 2010).

Cuba, which has a very different history in Africa, decided to supplement its emergency brigades with four doctors for each of a range of African countries (not just the affected countries), for specialist Ebola training. This is consistent with its social medicine approach which emphasises promotion and prevention, as well as genuine capacity building through local empowerment.

Havana has a range of partners, most of whom, at this stage, seem to be financing the costs of its medical teams, particularly in transport and equipment. These teams include specialists in infectious disease, epidemiology and specialist nursing.

Plans for the Americas were high on the agenda of the eight-country ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) special Summit in Havana on 20 October. This group, affirming its basic principles of solidarity, cooperation and complementarity, agreed to support the western African missions while they developed their own regional protection plan. That plan includes taking coordination efforts to the wider 33-member CELAC group (Community of Caribbean and Latin American States). Venezuela committed several million dollars to Cuba’s West African mission.

The Government of Mexico also says it will ‘join forces’ with Cuba in the campaign against the epidemic, at first by WHO-channelled finance for ‘specialised equipment’ for the Cuban brigades. Doctors have to burn gloves, masks and other protective equipment after treating each patient.

Timor Leste, now benefiting from more than 800 Cuban-trained Timorese doctors, has decided to join in, by financing the costs of 35 of the Cuban doctors in West Africa.

A Cuban offer to cooperate directly with Washington seems to have been deflected in favour of low-profile discussions and cooperation through third parties, such as the WHO, the UN Ebola Mission (UNMEER) and the respective governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Cuban doctor Ronald Hernández Torres, now in Liberia, says the Cuba brigade is working well with professionals from other countries and that Cuban medical training, along with specialist Ebola training is going on in Liberia. Another group of Cubans is working in Guinea.

Cuban Ambassador in Liberia, Jorge Fernando Lefebre Nicolás, said the emergency brigade represented a strong sense of solidarity his government had for Liberia, and that it was help ‘improve the existing links between both countries … [and] mark the beginning of [further] health cooperation between Cuba and Liberia’.

Liberia’s foreign minister Augustine Kpehe Nga­fuan thanked Cuban Government for its ‘solid friendship and solidarity with needy people’, adding that he believed the epidemic would soon be eradicated in his country.

—————–

some sources:

Anderson, Tim (2014) ) ‘Human development, the state and participation’, Development Studies Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 64-74, online: http://bit.ly/1rc6shX

Brooke, James (1988) ‘Waste Dumpers Turning to West Africa’, New York Times, July 17, online:http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/17/world/waste-dumpers-turning-to-west-africa.html

Koné, Lassana (2010) ‘Toxic colonialism: The human rights implications of illicit trade of toxic waste in Africa‘,Consultancy Africa, 14 July, online: http://www.consultancyafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=473:toxic-colonialism-the-human-rights-implications-of-illicit-trade-of-toxic-waste-in-africa&catid=109:counter-proliferation&Itemid=267

Lamrani, Salim (2014) ‘Organización Mundial de la Salud: Cuba da el ejemplo en la lucha contra el virus del ébola en África’, Global Research, September 23,

Londoño, Ernesto (2014) ‘U.S. and Cuba Come Together Over Ebola, Infuriating Republicans’, New York Times, October 31

Selva, Meera (2006) ‘Toxic shock: How Western rubbish is destroying Africa’, UK Independent, 21 september, online: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/toxic-shock-how-western-rubbish-is-destroying-africa-416828.html

WFTU (2014) Ebola virus deaths facilitated by imperialism, World Federation of Trade Unions, 15 October, online: http://www.wftucentral.org/ebola-virus-deaths-facilitated-imperialism/

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/04-11-2014/128951-cuba_ebola-0/

Alba Summit on Ebola: Latin American Leaders Meet Cuban Health Workers Heading to West Africa

Global Research, October 21, 2014

alianza-21-400x240By Yaima Puig Meneses and Leticia Martínez Hernández

A profoundly moving moment came yesterday, after the conclusion of the ALBA-TCP Ebola Summit, when regional leaders attending the event met with members of the Cuban medical brigades departing today, October 21, to Liberia and Guinea Conakry, to battle the epidemic impacting these West African nations.

At the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), Cuban Minister of Public Health Roberto Morales Ojeda announced that the new brigades are composed of 91 health professionals, 53 headed to Liberia, and 38 to Guinea Conakry. As a group, they average 15 years of experience, he reported, adding that 39 are doctors, 48 nurses, and 67 % are under 50 years of age.

“These are our troops departing tomorrow,” President Raúl Castro told visiting ALBA leaders, as he asked individual brigade members about their experiences on other international missions. Two doctors preparing to leave reported that they had previously participated in five other missions.

Jorge Pérez, IPK director, summarized the history of the renowned institution and its current objectives, including the role it is playing in confronting Ebola.

He explained that the Institute had set up a vigilance ward for travelers coming from areas impacted by Ebola, and has provided training on treatment for brigade members. He presented a series of photos depicting the strict protection measures brigade members would be taking, and some of the safety precautions they would be use while working with Ebola patients.

Leonardo Fernández, 63 years of age and departing for West Africa, briefly described his experiences on missions in Nicaragua, Pakistan, Timor Leste, Haiti and Mozambique. “We are not mad,” he said, “We are determined doctors, trained by the Revolution, and we are sure we will return healthy.”

Following this gathering, ALBA leaders visited the Medical Cooperation Central Unit (UCCM), located in the Havana municipality of Boyeros, where all medical personnel participating in international missions is trained – a total of  more than 50 000 who have served in 66 countries, according to Health Minister Morales, who said, “The presence of all of you here encourages us to continue upholding the legacy of Fidel and Raúl, to reaffirm that what we are doing is for humanity, for the real possibility that a better world is possible.”

Concluding the tour, President Raúl Castro bid farewell to each individual participant in the extraordinary ALBA Summit on Ebola, who all again expressed their gratitude to Cuba, the government and people, for the commitment to making ALBA an alliance for life.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/alba-summit-on-ebola-latin-american-leaders-meet-cuban-health-workers-heading-to-west-africa/5409191

Fidel Castro Compares NATO to the Islamic State

fidel_castro_otan.jpg_1718483346-400x226

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro during a meeting with Cuban and foreign intellectuals in Havana. (Photo: Reuters)

Castro accused the U.S.-led Western alliance of promoting a “war of extermination” against the Russian Federation.

The former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, this Wednesday accused the new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg of promoting a “war of extermination” against Russia and described the military alliance as being “more extreme” than the Islamic State group.

“Yesterday I listened to the statements of the new Secretary-General of NATO, aformer Prime Minister of Norway, who took office six days ago,” the former leader, 88, wrote in a column published in Cuban state media. “How much hatred he has in his face!”

He also highlighted the “incredible efforts (by NATO) to facilitate a war against theRussian Federation! Who can be more extremist than the I.S. (Islamic State)fanatics? What religion do you practice? After all this, would you be able to enjoyeternal life in God’s hands?”

Stoltenberg took office as NATO chief October 1, and in recent statements he said that the Western military alliance’s plan to beef up its military presence in eastern Europe does not violate a post-Cold War deal struck with Russia on military force levels in the region.

Tensions have recently increased between Russia and NATO because the U.S.-led alliance accused Moscow of meddling in the Ukrainian situation, a claim that the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

NATO boosted its military presence close to Russia’s borders, following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March, specifically in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/fidel-castro-compares-nato-to-the-islamic-state/5407178

Haiti’s President Martelly eulogizes ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier

By John Marion

9 October 2014

On October 4, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier died of a heart attack. Having returned to Haiti in January 2011 from exile in France to live in luxury outside of Port-au-Prince, Duvalier was never brought to justice for the torture, murders, and disappearances of thousands of people by his government between 1971 and 1986.

Instead, a tweet from Haitian President Michel Martelly proclaimed, “despite our quarrels and differences, let us salute the departure of an authentic son of Haiti.” There has been talk of a state funeral, which would include three days of official mourning. Martelly spokesman Lucien Jura has advocated such an observance.

The “quarrels and differences” shrugged off by Martelly include the murders of tens of thousands of people by Duvalier and his father Francois, who ruled the country from 1957 to 1971. A transcript of a March 2013 conference call conducted by Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti attorney Nicole Phillips gives one chilling example.

In it, Phillips summarizes the 2013 testimony given against Duvalier by former soccer star Bobby Duval, who had been locked up in the infamous Fort Dimanche prison for having spent time abroad: “He was given about one bowl of cornmeal a day which he thinks is about 300 calories, which is how most of them lost pounds quickly and started to die. In the 8 months he was in Fort Dimanche, he counted 180 people die, and that when people died—the prisoners were kept in blocks of cells about 20 feet wide with 40 people per cell, and that when somebody would die they would knock on the door—the iron door of the cell so everyone could hear and the guards would come by and take the body out and throw it into a big hole near the prison.”

Press freedom was another subject of “quarrels” under Baby Doc’s regime. Making use of a 1969 law that declared criticism of the government to be a crime against the state, Duvalier’s government tortured, exiled, and disappeared journalists.

After his return from exile, attempts were made to put Duvalier on trial. However, a trial court ruled in 2012 that he could be charged only for his financial crimes, and that the statute of limitations had passed for all of the murders, arbitrary arrests, and torture carried out by his regime. That decision was later overturned by an appeals court, but no new trial was held before his death. When confronted by former victims in the appeals court—after refusing to attend its first three sittings—he brushed off the accusations by mumbling that “deaths exist in all countries.”

As president, Martelly has employed many former Duvalierists, and he has deep ties to both them and the military figures who took power after “Baby Doc” fled the country in January 1986. Daniel Supplice, the head of Martelly’s 2011 transition team, had been a minister under Duvalier. Martelly actively opposed the first presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and a 2002 Washington Post profile described the musician Martelly as a “favorite of the thugs who worked on behalf of the hated Duvalier family dictatorship before its 1986 collapse.”

Martelly’s predecessor Rene Preval, was president when Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011. Preval, a close associate of Aristide in the 1990s, did nothing to stop Baby Doc’s return beyond an arrest from which he was quickly released. A May 2010 Miami Herald article described how Preval merely tried to avoid seeing Duvalier in public until being forced to shake his hand at a funeral. Preval meekly told the Herald that “It was not a meeting. We were at a funeral, our paths crossed.”

The same article described Duvalier’s lifestyle in the first few months after his return: “He’s holding court at tony restaurants, hobnobbing with powerful players and greeting guests at his borrowed home high in the pleasant hills above the congested capital.” Upon his death, the New York Times reported a similar lifestyle, which included attending events at Martelly’s invitation. Duvalier died while having breakfast with a retired army colonel who had served under his regime.

Both Duvaliers—father and son—had the backing of US imperialism, which poured massive amounts of aid into the country, most of it going into the pockets of its dictator and his supporters. The Pentagon deployed a Marine training mission there soon after Papa Doc came to power in 1957, and it distributed large quantities of arms to the military and the dictatorship’s feared death squads, the Tontons Macoute .

Washington’s backing increased in the wake of the 1959 Cuban revolution, with Duvalier seen as a bulwark of anticommunism. During the 1971 transition, after the elder Duvalier’s death, US warships were sent to the coast of Haiti. Nonetheless, the New York Times’ obituary for the younger Duvalier tries to paint the US government as the innocent victim of the dictatorship’s machinations: “He [Duvalier] curried favor with the United States, and exploited its Cold War aims to ensure that Haiti did not fall under Cuba’s sway by bargaining for aid.”

Ever the purveyor of cynical hand wringing, the Times quotes a Duvalier friend: “He was a gentle giant…not this tyrant.”

After 16 years of brutal rule, Jean-Claude Duvalier was chased out of Haiti by a genuine popular uprising. Summing up that period, University of Virginia professor Robert Fatton told the Miami Herald this week, “The vast majority of the population fought against his regime and celebrated his departure. It is rather amazing that one needs to remind people that he did not exit power voluntarily. He was forced to leave the country because Haitians resisted his rule and mustered the will and courage to force him to do so.”

However, the mass struggle undertaken by the people of Haiti at the beginning of 1986 for the “uprooting” of Duvalierism remains uncompleted, with the functions of suppressing the Haitian masses and subjecting them to relentless oppression and capitalist exploitation having been assumed by Martelly and his prime minister Laurent Lamothe. The liberating tasks posed by the mass uprisings of 1985 and 1986 can be realized only by the Haitian working class carrying out a revolution to put an end to imperialist oppression and capitalist exploitation in Haiti as part of a global struggle for the socialist transformation of society.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/10/09/hait-o09.html

Social Media and the Destabilization of Cuba: USAID’s Secret “Cuban Twitter” Intended to Stir Unrest

Global Research, April 05, 2014

usaid-cuba-400x300Reported by the Associated Press, Washington has created a “Cuban Twitter” with a view to creating social unrest. The ultimate objective of this and other initiatives is to demonize and weaken the Cuban Communist government.

This program should be seen as  part of Washington’s Worldwide actions to implement regime change in countries which do not abide by U.S. diktats.  The social media program entitledZunZuneo was part of a secret plan under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID):

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the U.S. government.

The project was financed by USAID as part of a “democracy” building agenda. USAID  is known to have routine contacts with the CIA. The U.S. Agency for International Development was essentially a front for a carefully planned intelligence operation:

Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

The Cuban media reacted to the ZunZuneo twitter project by pointing to a continuous process of covert operations directed against Cuba since the 1961 Bay of Pigs failed invasion. It is worth noting that Cuba has been under a US sanctions regime since 1962.

The ZunZuneo initiative is viewed by the Cuba government as part of  a process of non-conventional warfare (including cyber warfare) waged against countries (e.g. Venezuela, Ukraine) which do not abide by Washington’s demands.

The destabilization of Cuba has been on drawing board of the US State Department and the CIA since the 1960s.

Actions directed against Cuba are undertaken through  the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Economic Support Fund (ESF) of the US State Department.

Other organizations providing funding and operating in tandem with USAID and the NED are Freedom House, The Center for a Free Cuba,  The Institute for Democracy in Cuba, the Cuban Dissidence Task Group, the International Republican Institute (IRI).

Documented by Eva Golinger, USAID channels these destabilizing programs through an “Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) for Cuba with a view to engaging “in work with youths” and in the “independent initiatives of the mass media,”  According to Golinger:

The OTI handles liquid funds in dollars “in very large quantities, without having to go through a lot of review or accountability at the US Congress.”

There are two major points of difference between traditional warfare and irregular warfare: objectives and tactics, she pointed out.

Irregular warfare is aimed at controlling the civilian population and neutralizing the State, and its main tactic is ‘counterinsurgency,’ which is the use of indirect and asymmetric techniques, such as subversion, infiltration, psychological operations, cultural penetration and military deceit.” (Voltaire Net, August 9, 2009)

According to Prensa Latina, “Zun Zuneo joins an extensive list of secret anti-Cuban operations” as well as numerous plots to assassinate Fidel Castro.

The Cuban government of Raul Castro has requested the US to cease these actions:

Prensa Latina recalled a 1 January speech in which President Raúl Castro warned of “attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism”.

Castro’s denunciations of the US government’s destabilizing attempts against Cuba were corroborated by today’s revelation of a plan to push Cuban youth toward the counterrevolution, with the participation of a US agency,” Prensa Latina said. (Guardian, April 4, 2014)

The existence of this program was known to the Cuban authorities prior to the publication of the AP report.  According to Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, in a official statement, the ZunZuneo program:

“shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year. The government of the United States must respect international law and the goals and principles of the United Nations charter and, therefore, cease its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion”

The secret Cuba twitter will be the object of  debate at the US Congress in a session of the House Oversight Subcommittee.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/social-media-and-the-destabilization-of-cuba-usaids-secret-cuban-twitter-intended-to-stir-unrest/5376720

Puerto Rico steps up austerity after cut in credit rating

By Bill Van Auken 

6 February 2014

Puerto Rico’s government ordered across-the-board budget cuts of 2 percent on Wednesday and promised more austerity measures to come after the rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the island’s general obligation bonds to junk status.

Governor Alejandro García Padilla sent a bill to the legislature Wednesday afternoon that would slash $170 million from the existing budget, while announcing he would present a balanced budget for fiscal 2015, a year earlier than originally planned. He also acknowledged that the 2 percent budget cut for all government agencies would translate into considerably more than a 2 percent reduction in their spending.

“The full implications of this downgrade are a real unknown,” Matt Fabian, managing director of Municipal Market Advisors, told the Washington Post. He warned that Puerto Rico “could be forced to put up cash to get out of derivative contracts and other financing deals that might be terminated by the change in its creditworthiness.”

The island’s government has already acknowledged that under the terms of two short-term loans it acquired, this week’s credit downgrade triggers a clause requiring immediate repayment in full of the amount owing—some $900 million. The governor said his administration was trying to negotiate payment by installments.

Coming in the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy, the downgrade has provoked increased anxiety that the island could be heading toward a default, which would have financial implications that are far more far-reaching and severe. Puerto Rico’s debt is estimated at $70 billion, compared to $18 billion for Detroit. By law, Puerto Rico, like US state governments, is barred from declaring bankruptcy.

Because the island’s bonds are exempt from federal, state and local taxes and offer high yields, Puerto Rican debt is held by some 70 percent of US municipal mutual funds.

S&P said it decided on the downgrade in part because of the Puerto Rican government’s “reduced capacity to access liquidity” from its Government Development Bank. The ratings agency’s action, however, will have the effect of deepening San Juan’s difficulties in borrowing money and extricating itself from its fiscal crisis.

Every indication is that Wall Street, Washington and the government of García Padilla are determined to place the full burden of this crisis on the backs of Puerto Rico’s already impoverished working class. For its part, the Obama administration reiterated Wednesday that it had no intention of providing a bailout for the island. “There is no federal financial assistance being contemplated,” a Treasury Department spokesman said.

The governor Wednesday called upon Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court to rule quickly on his pension “reform,” which unilaterally raises the retirement age for the island’s teachers while increasing their contributions, measures that are supposed to cut government pension costs by $700 million annually over the next 25 years. Teachers unions had secured a temporary injunction blocking immediate implementation of the plan.

After the downgrade was first announced on Tuesday, García Padilla told the Puerto Rican public that, “these are not going to be easy times.” He acknowledged that a list of government agencies that could be consolidated had been drawn up, and a study had been conducted to determine how much could be saved by cutting the work-week of public employees. Also under consideration, he said, was a further increase in Puerto Rico’s sales and use taxes. In the same breath, he claimed that he was “trying to stay far away” from these measures.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, he met for hours with 20 union leaders at the La Fortaleza governor’s palace in San Juan, evidently to discuss collaboration in imposing new concessions on Puerto Rican workers. Describing the meeting as “productive,” José Rodríguez Báez, president of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Workers Federation of Puerto Rico, told the San Juan daily El Nuevo Dia, “There were requests for the union sector to be part of the search for solutions.”

In his remarks Tuesday, the governor assured the public that “tomorrow the sun will come out, we’ll get up, the government will offer the same services, employees will collect their checks, nothing will change in the daily functioning of the country tomorrow.”

Such assurances are needed because the last time Puerto Rica was thrown into a similar crisis by a ratings downgrade—in 2006—the government ran out of money to pay public-sector workers and shut down all operations for 15 days, including schools, which put 500,000 children out of their classes.

That crisis was precipitated in large measure by the ending of the island’s special tax status, which for three decades had offered corporations special tax breaks to set up manufacturing operations there. That and the opening up of cheap labor opportunities by the NAFTA treaty with Mexico led to capital flight and the onset of a recession that has continued to this day.

This has led to increasingly desperate conditions for large sections of the working class in the US colonial “commonwealth.” The official unemployment rate stands at over 15 percent—significantly higher than what exists in any US state and at least double the official rate in 42 of them. Forty-one percent of the island’s 3.7 million people live below the official poverty line, which is even lower than that set in the mainland United States.

One result of this deepening poverty has been a resurgence of emigration to the US on a level not seen since the major migration of Puerto Ricans in the 1950s, when large numbers of workers were displaced by the monopolization of the island’s wealth in the hands of US corporations and US employers recruited Puerto Ricans as cheap labor for manufacturing.

Since the onset of the Puerto Rican recession in 2006, the island’s population has shrunk by 138,000 people.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/06/rico-f06.html

Fidelity to Revolution

An Interview With Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, Son of Fidel Castro

Video

Resistance to oppression, revolt against tyranny, or social strife imposed by outside meddling? With the coloured uprisings and the Arab Spring, revolutions seem to be back in fashion. But how can we differentiate between a real revolution and an orchestrated one? Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, the son of one of the world’s greatest living revolutionaries, joins Oksana to discuss these issues.

Posted November 18, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36903.htm

Why Cuba Must Be Punished

NSA – The Only Part of The Government That Really Listens to What You Have to Say

By William Blum

November 07, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  The New York Times (November 2) ran a long article based on NSA documents released by Edward Snowden. One of the lines that most caught my attention concerned “Sigint” – Signals intelligence, the term used for electronic intercepts. The document stated:

“Sigint professionals must hold the moral high ground, even as terrorists or dictators seek to exploit our freedoms. Some of our adversaries will say or do anything to advance their cause; we will not.”

What, I wondered, might that mean? What would the National Security Agency – on moral principle – refuse to say or do?

I have on occasion asked people who reject or rationalize any and all criticism of US foreign policy: “What would the United States have to do in its foreign policy to lose your support? What, for you, would be too much?” I’ve yet to get a suitable answer to that question. I suspect it’s because the person is afraid that whatever they say I’ll point out that the United States has already done it.

The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo – 22 years in a row

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly, October 29, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

“The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.” 1

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest 2 ; that their encampments were violently smashed up; that many of them were physically abused by the police.

Does Mr. Godard ever read a newspaper or the Internet, or watch television? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person?

As to “independent journalism” – what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba? The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 3 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

The Cold War Revisited

I’ve written the Introduction to a new book recently published in Russia that is sort of an updating of my book Killing Hope. 4 Here is a short excerpt:

The Cold War had not been a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. It had been a struggle between the United States and the Third World, which, in the decade following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, continued in Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

The Cold War had not been a worldwide crusade by America to halt Soviet expansion, real or imaginary. It had been a worldwide crusade by America to block political and social changes in the Third World, changes opposed by the American power elite.

The Cold War had not been a glorious and noble movement of freedom and democracy against Communist totalitarianism. It had typically been a movement by the United States in support of dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and corrupt oligarchies which were willing to follow Washington’s party line on the Left, US corporations, Israel, oil, military bases, et al. and who protected American political and economic interests in their countries in exchange for the American military and CIA keeping them in power against the wishes of their own people.

In other words, whatever the diplomats at the time thought they were doing, the Cold War revisionists have been vindicated. American policy had been about imperialism and military expansion.

Apropos the countless other myths we were all taught about the Soviet Union is this letter I recently received from one of my readers, a Russian woman, age 49, who moved to the United States eight years ago and now lives in Northern Virginia:

I can’t imagine why anybody is surprised to hear when I say I miss life in the Soviet Union: what is bad about free healthcare and education, guaranteed employment, guaranteed free housing? No rent or mortgage of any kind, only utilities, but they were subsidized too, so it was really pennies. Now, to be honest, there was a waiting list to get those apartments, so some people got them quicker, some people had to wait for years, it all depended on where you worked. And there were no homeless people, and crime was way lower. As a first grader I was taking the public transportation to go to school, which was about 1 hour away by bus (it was a big city, about the size of Washington DC, we lived on the outskirts, and my school was downtown), and it was fine, all other kids were doing it. Can you even imagine this being done now? I am not saying everything was perfect, but overall, it is a more stable and socially just system, fair to everybody, nobody was left behind. This is what I miss: peace and stability, and not being afraid of the future.

Problem is, nobody believes it, they will say that I am a brainwashed “tovarish” [comrade]. I’ve tried to argue with Americans about this before, but just gave up now. They just refuse to believe anything that contradicts what CNN has been telling them for all their lives. One lady once told me: “You just don’t know what was going on there, because you did not have freedom of speech, but we, Americans, knew everything, because we could read about all of this in our media.” I told her “I was right there! I did not need to read about this in the media, I lived that life!”, but she still was unconvinced! You will not believe what she said: “Yes, maybe, but we have more stuff!”. Seriously, having 50 kinds of cereal available in the store, and walmarts full of plastic junk is more valuable to Americans than a stable and secure life, and social justice for everybody?

Of course there are people who lived in the Soviet Union who disagree with me, and I talked to them too, but I find their reasons just as silly. I heard one Russian lady whose argument was that Stalin killed “30, no 40 million people”. First of all it’s not true (I don’t in any way defend Stalin, but I do think that lying and exaggerating about him is as wrong)*, and second of all what does this have to do with the 70s, when I was a kid? By then life was completely different. I heard other arguments, like food shortages (again, not true, it’s not like there was no food at all, there were shortages of this or that specific product, like you wouldn’t find mayo or bologna in the store some days, but everything else was there!). So, you would come back next day, or in 2-3 days, and you would find them there. Really, this is such a big deal? Or you would have to stay in line to buy some other product, (ravioli for example). But how badly do you want that ravioli really that day, can’t you have anything else instead? Just buy something else, like potatoes, where there was no line.

Was this annoying, yes, and at the time I was annoyed too, but only now I realized that I would much prefer this nuisance to my present life now, when I am constantly under stress for the fear that I can possibly lose my job (as my husband already did), and as a result, lose everything else – my house? You couldn’t possibly lose your house in Soviet Union, it was yours for life, mortgage free. Only now, living here in the US, I realized that all those soviet nuisances combined were not as important as the benefits we had – housing, education, healthcare, employment, safe streets, all sort of free after school activities (music, sports, arts, anything you want) for kids, so parents never had to worry about what we do all day till they come home in the evening.

* We’ve all heard the figures many times … 10 million … 20 million … 40 million … 60 million … died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt, and many people are still dying under Bush. Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting. 5

Let’s not repeat the Barack fuckup with Hillary

Not that it really matters who the Democrats nominate for the presidency in 2016. Whoever that politically regressive and morally bankrupt party chooses will be at best an uninspired and uninspiring centrist; in European terms a center-rightist; who believes that the American Empire – despite the admittedly occasional excessive behavior – is mankind’s last great hope. The only reason I bother to comment on this question so far in advance of the election is that the forces behind Clinton have clearly already begun their campaign and I’d like to use the opportunity to try to educate the many progressives who fell in love with Obama and may be poised now to embrace Clinton. Here’s what I wrote in July 2007 during the very early days of the 2008 campaign:

Who do you think said this on June 20? a) Rudy Giuliani; b) Hillary Clinton; c) George Bush; d) Mitt Romney; or e) Barack Obama?

“The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people.” 6

Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because … because she wants to be president … because she thinks it would be nice to be president … no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world … she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn’t want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.

And she spoke the above words at the “Take Back America” conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats and others further left. She didn’t have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything. The audience, it should be noted, booed her, for the second year in a row.

Think of why you are opposed to the war. Is it not largely because of all the unspeakable suffering brought down upon the heads and souls of the poor people of Iraq by the American military? Hillary Clinton couldn’t care less about that, literally. She thinks the American military has “succeeded”. Has she ever unequivocally labeled the war “illegal” or “immoral”? I used to think that Tony Blair was a member of the right wing or conservative wing of the British Labour Party. I finally realized one day that that was an incorrect description of his ideology. Blair is a conservative, a bloody Tory. How he wound up in the Labour Party is a matter I haven’t studied. Hillary Clinton, however, I’ve long known is a conservative; going back to at least the 1980s, while the wife of the Arkansas governor, she strongly supported the death-squad torturers known as the Contras, who were the empire’s proxy army in Nicaragua. 7

Now we hear from America’s venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley’s National Review, an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute – You get the picture? Bartlett tells his readers that it’s almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: “To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative.” 8

We also hear from America’s premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, Fortune, whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: “Business Loves Hillary”. 9

Back to 2013: In October, the office of billionaire George Soros, who has long worked with US foreign policy to destabilize governments not in love with the empire, announced that “George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary.” 10

There’s much more evidence of Hillary Clinton’s conservative leanings, but if you need more, you’re probably still in love with Obama, who in a new book is quoted telling his aides during a comment on drone strikes that he’s “really good at killing people”. 11 Can we look forward to Hillary winning the much-discredited Nobel Peace Prize?

I’m sorry if I take away all your fun.

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2

  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Notes

  1. Democracy Now!, “U.N. General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo of Cuba”, October 30, 2013

  2. Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012

  3. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885

  4. Copies can be purchased by emailing kuchkovopole@mail.ru

  5. From William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire (2005), p.194

  6. Speaking at the “Take Back America” conference, organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, June 20, 2007, Washington, DC; this excerpt can be heard on Democracy Now!’s website

  7. Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council, Partners in Power (1996), p.415

  8. National Review Online, May 1, 2007

  9. Fortune magazine, July 9, 2007

  10. Washington Post, October 25, 2013

  11. Washington Post, November 1, 2013, review of “Double Down: Game Change 2012”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36784.htm

HAITI: Aid or Trade? The Nefarious Effects of U.S. Policies

By Haiti Grassroots Watch

Global Research, November 07, 2013
Haïti Liberté 6 November 2013

usaid-haiti-400x264U.S. aid and trade policies related to hunger and Haitian agriculture over the past three decades are incoherent and contradictory, at best, and have been correctly characterized as “disastrous” and “greed[y].”

While some U.S. government agencies say their programs have been meant to alleviate hunger and promote agricultural production, other programs have helped pry open Haiti’s market, creating millions of new consumers for U.S. agricultural products like rice, poultry, pork and other products while undermining local agricultural production and changing Haitian eating habits.

Because some 50% to 60% of the population still makes their living in the agricultural sector, these policies have had extremely negative effects on the economy at large. For example, a 2006 study from Christian Aid estimated that 831,900 people had been directly affected by the 1995 lowering of tariffs that once protected Haitian sugar, rice, and chicken.

Haiti now imports at least 50% of its food, mostly from the U.S., and has become the second most important importer of U.S. rice on the planet.

Food “aid” aids U.S. farmers

For decades, most of Haiti’s food aid has come from U.S. government programs, some going directly to the Haitian government, some to various contractors like World Vision, CARE, ACDI-VOCA, and Catholic Relief Services, and some to other agencies, especially the World Food Program (WFP).

The U.S. is the world’s largest food aid donor, accounting for 56% of worldwide food aid in 2010 when it shipped 3.2 million metric tons (MT). The non-emergency food aid program, called “Food for Peace” (established under Public Law or PL 480), cost U.S. taxpayers US$1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012.

The U.S. program, launched in 1954, is legally obligated to be based almost entirely on U.S.-produced food, at least half of which must be shipped on U.S.-flagged boats. (In 2008, the George W. Bush administration authorized a small pilot “local and regional procurement pilot program, but most U.S. food aid still comes from U.S. farmers.)

In his 2010 book Travesty in Haiti, anthropologist Timothy T. Schwartz deplores the damage done by U.S. food: “Food assistance to Haiti during the 1980s tripled reaching a yearly average of over US$50 million in gratuitous U.S. surplus beans, corn, rice and cracked wheat. Put in simpler terms, that was enough food to meet the calorific needs of over 15% of the Haitian population.”

In 2010 and 2011, 10% of food consumed in Haiti was food aid food. Now that number is down to about 5%, according to Pierre Gary Mathieu, head of the government’s food security office, the Coordination Nationale de Sécurité Alimentaire (CNSA). Five percent is still considerable.

“When you have a country that depends in part on food aid to function, you are in a really serious situation,” Mathieu told Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW). “In other words, that food aid becomes a strategic and a political element… [and] the food aid you have is imported food aid, which comes from overseas. But, paradoxically, while food aid is being distributed in some regions, in other regions you are experiencing overproduction.”

The U.S. is the only country in the world that obligates most of its food aid to be U.S. produced food. In addition to being questionable for the reasons raised by Mathieu, the requirement also increases the cost of getting food to the needy by at least 23% and sometimes by over 50%. Because of this draconian constraint – meant to supply U.S. farmers with customers – U.S. food aid, including “emergency” aid, takes on average five months to reach its destination. According to a recent USAID report, U.S. food aid to Haiti cost US$1,096 per metric ton delivered, up 100% from 2005 when it cost US$583.

“Only 40 cents of each taxpayer dollar spent on international food aid actually buys the commodities hungry people eat,” according Cornell professor Christopher Barrett, author of Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role.

Another aspect of current U.S. law is the “monetization” of food aid, whereby the U.S. government buys food from U.S. farmers and ships it to international aid organizations or foreign governments. These then sell the food in order obtain cash for programs.

Numerous studies, including those from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), have criticized the program for its waste and for being harmful to the farmers of poor countries. A 2011 GAO study reported that, over a recent three-year period, monetization squandered US$219 million that could have been used to feed the hungry. Worse, and directly linked to Haiti, the report said: “USAID and USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] cannot ensure that monetization does not cause adverse market impacts” which may include “discouraging food production by local farmers.”

For years, development organizations like Oxfam and even CARE have criticized this practice.

Until recently, millions of dollars worth of U.S. rice, beans, wheat and wheat flour, vegetable oil, and other products were monetized in Haiti every year. For example, between 2008 and 2010, about 100,000 MT of food – mostly wheat and flour – were monetized in Haiti. The cash went to USAID contractors, while the government charged a handling fee of between 2% and 5%, according to the GAO.

Anthropologist Schwartz said that in the 1980s, Haiti “was so thoroughly inundated with surplus food from the U.S. and Western Europe that Port-au-Prince merchants were soon re-exporting cracked wheat to Miami.”

Today, monetization is winding down, but as recently as September 2012, the Japanese government gave the Haitian government 8,660 MT of U.S. rice, which was then sold to Haitian wholesalers.

According to the 2010 Sak Vid Pa Kanpe report on the impact of U.S. food aid on human rights in Haiti (from Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and an NYU Law School group), “over the past 20 years, 1.5 million tons of food grown in the United States” had entered Haiti as development or emergency food aid.

The Farm Bill and “Corporate Welfare”

Food aid is part of the U.S. Farm Bill, a law renewed every five years by the U.S. Congress. In legislation proposed for 2012, the Barack Obama administration tried to institute reforms that would eliminate the link between U.S. food aid and U.S. produced-food and reduce the use of monetization. These changes, and others, would allow for the delivery of more aid, more quickly, at less cost to taxpayers, according to USAID.

But what some call “the hunger industry” is big business, as numerous studies and articles have proved [see links to resources below], and its beneficiaries have fought against the proposed legislation.

Agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland, shipping companies, and some of the big food aid agencies – including ACDI-VOCA, World Vision, and Technoserve, all active in Haiti – have lobbied hard against the administration’s suggestions. Last summer, a bill passed the Senate, but it is now held up in the House.

“We are going to probably see a one-year extension,” Oxfam America’s Senior Policy Advisory for Agriculture and Food Policy Eric Muñoz told HGW in a telephone interview on September 6.

The Farm Bill is also the law that supplies massive subsidies and other financial support – amounting to between US$10 billion and US$30 billion per year – to U.S. farmers and agribusiness, some of which would be cut in the reformed Farm Bill, if it passes.

In his excellent article on the U.S.-Haitian rice and agricultural policy article, “Diri Nasyonal ou Diri Miami” article in the July 2013 issue of Food Security, Oxfam America’s Senior Research Marc Cohen notes: “[b]etween 1995 and 2010, the U.S. government paid nearly US$13 billion in subsidies to 70,000 rice farmers.” Riceland, whose rice sells under the “Tchako” label in Haiti, picked up US$500 million in during that period.

The administration’s proposed new Farm Bill legislation changes subsidies and other payments to farmers and agribusiness, but it is unclear what effect – if any – these would have on U.S. rice production and prices.

Seen together, it is clear why some call the 2008  Farm Bill “corporate welfare.”

One part of the bill subsidizes agribusiness and farmers, many of whom are millionaires, according to numerous studies. Another part of the bill guarantees that whenever the U.S. government and its contractors decide people are hungry somewhere, U.S. farmers, agribusiness, food processors, and shippers have guaranteed customers for their products.

Lawmakers see the connection clearly. Last summer, a Democratic senator pushing for the new Farm Bill – which still has many subsidies – called it “a jobs bill.”

“These programs help us sell our products in markets like Nigeria and Vietnam and … the farm bill is key to sustaining our opportunities in these markets,” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) told Roll Call.

Neoliberal Dictates

When “corporate welfare” or a “jobs bill” are combined with the Washington-demanded policy changes that pried open Haiti’s market by forcing open ports and dropping protective tariffs (first in the 1980s and then again in 1995), the result is devastating for Haitian farmers and a bonanza for U.S. rice farmers and other U.S. grain and food exporters.

In his article on rice, Oxfam’s Cohen decries what he calls the U.S. “neo-mercantilist trade policy” that “aims to maintain free access to the Haitian market for U.S. food exports (particularly rice).”

Before 1995, most Haitian agricultural products – including rice – were protected by tariffs as high as 50%. But that year, a deal was forced on Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government by the U.S., the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the “Paris Plan,” whose terms had to be accepted before Washington would agree to help return the exiled president to Haiti. Tariffs plummeted to between 0% and 15%, the lowest in the Caribbean at the time. In 2009, some of those tariffs were adjusted upwards, but too little, too late, by most accounts.

In its 2006 report Agricultural Liberalisation in Haiti, Christian Aid called the tariff drops “disastrous,” noting that Haiti went from being recently largely self-sufficient in food to using most of its export earnings to buy foreign food, mostly from the U.S.

“As food imports have increased, local agricultural production has fallen,” Christian Aid writes. “It is now widely accepted that this trend is closely linked with the effects of trade liberalization.”

Today, Haiti’s population of about ten million is one of the best customers of U.S. farmers and agribusiness. In 2011, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Haiti totaled $326 million. The top categories included rice (US$166 million), poultry meat (US$64 million), and animal fats (US$14 million).

In 2010, former President Bill Clinton – whose administration coerced the tariff drop – told a Congressional committee that the policy change was wrong, noting it “may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked [for Haiti]. It was a mistake.”

Chicken and rice: new customers with new tastes

The “mistake” – which so far has not been corrected – did create a massive market for U.S. products at the same time as it brought about radical shifts in the Haitian diet.

Before 1995, chicken was considered “a luxury product,” according to Christian Aid.  It was “consumed by the population on Sundays or on special occasions, such as baptisms or when a guest came to stay.” Most chicken sold on the streets or in stores came from Haitian farmers or a few small industrial suppliers.

By 2000, 60% of chicken consumed in Haiti came from overseas, mostly from the U.S., in the form of chicken parts, especially dark meat, considered largely unsellable in the fussy, white meat-loving U.S. market.

Rice consumption habits have also radically changed. According to a 2012 report released by Oxfam, “after ‘trade liberalization’ beginning in 1986 and the drastic reduction of Haiti’s border protection,” rice went from being “an occasional component of average diets (one or two meals a week) to the mainstay (seven to 14 meals a week).”

A 2010 U.S. government study notes much the same, saying that in the early 1980s, most Haitians “lived in rural areas and ate a diversified diet of roots and tubers, maize meal, and sorghum. Rice was occasionally consumed in these rural areas, but as a luxury item. A farmer would have to sell three to four marmites of maize in order to buy one marmite of rice. In urban areas, rice consumption was slightly higher. »

Rice consumption went from about 50,000 MT in 1980 to over 400,000 MT in 2012.

Today, “Haitians are among the largest consumers of rice in the Caribbean,” according to the U.S. government. And per capita rice consumption continues to rise. Pegged at 42 kilograms per person in 2010, by 2013 that figure was 50 kilograms.

Sorghum and corn, which previously played an important part of all Haitians’ diets – rural and urban – are today considered “inferior” food, according the various studies.

As rice imports have skyrocketed, Haitian rice production has remained relatively flat for the past 30 years. Heavily subsidized U.S. rice is consistently priced below Haitian rice.

Aid or Trade?

Cohen calls the Haitian-U.S. rice issue “a tale of power politics, greed, narrow self-interest, changing diets, and a global trading system that provides special and differential treatment not for the poor… but for the rich.”

The U.S. Congress will eventually vote a new Farm Bill, which may or may not have changes to both food aid and farmer subsidies. But massive damage from U.S. farmer subsidies, food aid and lowered tariffs has already has been done.

As a poor country, Haiti has the right to raise tariffs up to 50%, according to World Trade Organization rules. The government could also undertake programs to attack some of the structural causes of hunger.

But it is unlikely that the current government will touch most tariffs. The proposed 2013-2014 budget does announce some changes. Tariffs on foreign corn, pasta, green peas (but not beans), many vegetables, peanuts, fish and shellfish would go up, perhaps in an effort to lessen the flow of products from the Dominican Republic [See HGW 24 Export or Exploit?But the budget does not mention the tariffs for rice, corn meal, or corn, which are all imported predominantly from the U.S.

On Oct. 1, the Haitian government announced it would not implement the new budget, and would instead renew the previous one. For the third year in a row, the government was unable to gain parliamentary approval for its proposal.

Economist Camille Chalmers calls the proposed budget “anti-national production.”

“One cannot partially revise the neoliberal policies that have been devastating for the Haitian economy,” Chalmers said on a local radio station. “It has got to be global.”

Rice tariff policy is very political. The heavily subsidized, virtually tariff-free rice flowing into Haiti has served successive Haitian governments, who have a keen interest in assuring urban populations have access to cheap food. After food prices went up in late 2012, the government brought in 18,000 tons of rice from Vietnam – called “10/10” – which it sold on the market at prices that undercut even “Miami rice.”

“We promise the population that we will bring in a lot, enough to serve the entire distribution chain,” a government official told the press. Outraged farmers called for a boycott, but the rice arrived and was happily purchased.

Mathieu, head of the government’s food security office (CNSA), explained clearly why tariffs would likely not go up any time soon. Speaking to The Economist in June, he said: “A government has to make a choice: you have to feed people, or else there are political costs.”

Real Change or Just Tinkering?

Donors, government officials and technicians, foreign development and humanitarian organizations, farmers’ cooperatives and associations, and foreign and local agronomists all agree on one thing: Haitian agriculture and food production are in critical condition, and this is a major reason for Haiti’s hunger.

As noted in Why is Haiti Hungry?, Haiti’s land tenure system is one of the biggest impediments to food sovereignty. Most farmers working the land do not own it or have dubious deeds.

Also, for the past four decades food aid has flooded the country while Haiti’s agricultural sector has been ignored. Neoliberal policy shocks have had disastrous effects. In 1995, foreign assistance for agriculture and for food aid were about the same. Not for long. As farmers struggled against subsidized foreign products, food aid rose while assistance to agriculture dropped.

The trend has recently changed. Since the 2010 earthquake, there has been a steady drop in food aid and a marked rise in foreign assistance for the agricultural sector.

Many of the grants and programs cover aspects of the government’s National Agriculture Investment Plan. With a budget of about US$790 million, the plan has been changed since it was originally proposed. It had to be “revised” prior to gaining the approval of important donors like the U.S. government.

“Early iterations that included a state-driven approach were revised, shifting the focus towards a market-oriented strategy,” according to a USAID document. “The final product was endorsed at an international donor conference for Haiti on June 2, 2010 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.”

In its press releases and media appearances, representatives of the Michel Martelly government have implied the “Plan pour la Rélance Agricole” was invented after the election but, like many other programs, it was already in process when the singer took power.

Similarly, the government’s “Aba Grangou” (Down with Hunger) program is in fact a “brand” given to cover 21 programs – most if the agriculture programs – that are often carried out by foreign agencies or organizations. Associated with Aba Grangou, or on their own, across the country, large and small donors, sometimes in conjunction with the Agriculture Ministry, are running interesting and even promising projects and programs that aim to alleviate hunger and also address the agricultural production crisis.

For example, the Inter-American Development Bank has funded a US$27 million pilot land tenure security program aimed at clarifying land ownership. Other projects focus on fisheries, developing seed banks, and improving roads and irrigation canals. The government and donors are also trying to promote and use local products as much as possible. A World Food Program pilot program is using locally produced milk and other foods, while USAID is funding a program to help sorghum growers improve their output so that the Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti S.A. (BRANA), a Haitian brewery now owned by Heineken, can replace some of the grain it imports with Haitian production.

USAID is planning very little food aid after 2014 and is instead focusing on agricultural development through a program called “Feed the Future” (FtF) targeting the regions around Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, and the Northdépartement (province).

FtF’s objectives include increasing output of crops for export (notably mango and cacao), output of grains and other food for local consumption, and planting of crops and trees in order to protect watersheds.

But Cohen is not entirely optimistic: “Although it is clear that agriculture has an important place in the U.S. strategy to support post-earthquake reconstruction in Haiti, there are some limitations to U.S. agricultural assistance… and a sharp incoherence between this aid on the one hand and U.S. agricultural trade policy on the other.”

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society of the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA), community radio stations from the Association of Haitian Community Media and students from the Journalism Laboratory at the State University of Haiti. This series distributed in collaboration with Haïti Liberté.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/haiti-aid-or-trade-the-nefarious-effects-of-u-s-policies/5357204

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