By Sam McGill, First published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012
‘Cuba faces two options – economic collapse, or updating the economy, building the only possible socialism in Cuba’. Noel Carrillo, Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba
Cuba has been subjected to a harsh economic and political blockade by the US for over 50 years. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Special Period in the 1990s, Cuba has been in a state of economic crisis. The country lost 35% of its GDP and 80% of its trade overnight. Yet the revolution’s commitment to meeting the needs of its people has never wavered: not a single hospital or old people’s home was closed and no one starved.
Twenty years later Cuba is still living under the legacy of the Special Period and is not immune to the effects of the global economic crisis, yet socialist planning means that the Cuban people do not live at the whim of the markets; policy and spending are based directly on people’s needs, and so the crisis does not lead to food riots and oppression. In February 2012, 13 brigadistas from Rock around the Blockade spent two weeks learning about the challenges and achievements of the revolution.
- Written by RATB
First published in Granma International Havana. April 11, 2012
The government of the United States has confiscated more than $493 million from Cuba since 2010, as part of the economic blockade imposed by Washington on the Caribbean nation. The amount was confirmed in a communiqué from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), attached to the U.S. Department of Treasure, which describes Cuba as a nation that sponsors terrorism. Using the same pretext, the United States government froze $223.7 million of Cuba's in 2009. The document, cited by Prensa Latina, indicates that U.S. authorities have additionally appropriated six properties belonging to the Cuban state in New York and Washington, D.C. The United States has maintained an economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba for more than 50 years, which has cost the country more than $975 billion and constitutes a violation of the United Nations Charter and all norms of international law.
Francisco Escobar speaks to Rock Around the Blockade during the 2012 Justice for the Cuban 5 brigade to Cuba, February 2012. Francisco is a leading member of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) no 2 in Zone 90 of Boyeros municipality, Havana. He explains to the brigade, the role of the CDR's and their participation in the economic updates and guidelines that have been discussed nationwide over the last year.
- Written by RATB
First published on 9 April 2012 Liberation News
The governments of Ukraine and Cuba have announced an agreement to build a treatment center for cancer patients in Ukraine.The two countries are also discussing jointly producing medicines to treat cancer and other chronic diseases. The online news service Ukrinform.com reports that the Ukrainian government will fund the center, while Cuba's renowned Centro de Inmunología Molecular in Havana will provide the medical technology and expertise.
- Written by RATB
Originally published on 30 March 2012
on Cubadebate René González is in Cuba
René González, one of the five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly given harsh prison sentences in the United States, arrived to Cuba on Friday on a family, private visit in the wake of authorization by a US judge to visit his gravely ill brother. According to information released by the TV news program, René arrived minutes after midday.
On February 24, René had filed through his lawyer an emergency motion before the South Florida District Court, requesting an authorization to visit his brother, seriously ill in Cuba. Nearly a month later, on March 19, Judge Joan Lenard, who have been handling the case of The Cuban Five since the start of their proceedings, authorized the trip for 15 days under certain conditions, including obtaining all US government travel permits needed.
“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. Ezra 10:4”
As reported across the main stream media, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger a.k.a Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba between 26 and 28 March. As expected counter-revolutionaries within Cuba, though negligible in both numbers and popularity, and right-wing reactionaries in Miami have tried to exploit this occasion for their miserable political agendas. We will never know whether the “dissidents” in Cuba hoped for a divine intervention backing them up in their actions during the papal visit to the island but all of their provocations have been an embarrassing flop.
Reporting on the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP) of April 2011 and the approval of the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution we said: ‘New measures and legislation will be announced in Cuba in the coming months as the guidelines are implemented. Although there will be no surprises, we can expect these to be met by the sensationalist exclamations about the advent of capitalism from the enemies of Cuban socialism’ (FRFI 221). This has indeed been the case with the bourgeois (and social democratic) media focusing on legislation implemented or anticipated to:
a) Permit the direct purchase/sale of privately-owned houses.
b) Permit the direct purchase/sale of privately-owned cars.
c) Authorise agricultural producers to sell direct to state-owned tourist entities (regulated under the national plan).
d) Provide loans from the state to non-state workers, farmers and people who need to repair their homes (previously only farming cooperatives had access to loans).
e) Permit trade between state enterprises and workers in the non-state sector (using bank transfers, not cash payments).
f) Allow those planning to leave Cuba to transfer their home ownership to relatives or co-habitants.
- Written by RATB
Article published 26 February 2012 in Mexica newspaper 'La Jornada'. Translated by Rock Around the Blockade. Original article in Spanish: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/02/26/opinion/024a1mun
Yoani Sánchez, a famous blogger in Havana, Cuba, is a character peculiar to the world of Cuban dissidents. No opponent has ever benefited from such massive media exposure and international recognition of such a scale in so little time. After emigrating to Switzerland in 2002, she returned to Cuba two years later, in 2004. In 2007, she joined the world of the Cuban opposition and created her blog ‘Generation Y’ becoming a staunch critic of the government. Never has any dissident in Cuba, or perhaps in the world, achieved so many international awards in such a short time, and all with a particular characteristic: Yoani Sánchez has been provided with enough money to live quietly in Cuba for the rest of her life. Indeed, the blogger has been paid up to 250 000 euros in total, or an amount equivalent to more than 20 years of the minimum wage in a country like France, the fifth world power. The minimum monthly wage in Cuba is 420 pesos, or 18 dollars or 14 euros, so that Yoani Sánchez has won the equivalent of 1,488 years of Cuban minimum wage for her opposition activities.