cuba at the un humna rights

On 16 October US delegates to the United Nations announced a political campaign called ‘Jailed for What?’. The campaign aims to portray Cuba as a politically repressive country. The US asserts falsely that Cuba has 130 political prisoners who are being punished for exercising their right to free speech. Cuban and Bolivian delegates disrupted the campaign’s launch meeting at the UN, banging tables and chanting ‘Cuba sí, bloqueo no!’ (‘Cuba yes, blockade no!’) to drown out the allegations coming from US delegates. Cuba dismisses the allegations, saying that the US aims to use this as an excuse to maintain the economic blockade of the island. Referring to the Trump administration’s renewed hostility towards Cuba (see FRFI 259) the Cuban Am­bass­ador to the UN, Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, released a statement after the meeting: ‘the United States lacks the morals to give lessons, much less in this matter’ and ‘It is part of the actions aimed at subverting the legitimately established constitutional order and of the interventionist agenda that has gained renewed momentum under the current administration, whose fascist, racist and xenophobic ideas are a matter of grave concern in the international community’.

cuba medics kenya min

By Cassandra Howarth | FRFI

Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the status and quality of life of Cuban women has improved dramatically with women now constituting almost 60% of all professionals and more than half of scientists. Women are also becoming increasingly represented in government, and in the national parliament 53.2% of members are women. The ministers for Education, Finance and Pricing, Domestic Trade, the Food Industry, Labour and Social Security, Science, Technology and the Environment, and the Minister and President of the Central Bank of Cuba are also all women, as well as the heads of the National Environmental Agency, and eight out of 15 provinces in Cuba are led by women.

cuba facebook

By Seamus O’ Tuairisc | FRFI

The US has plans to make use of Facebook and other social media in order to generate political dissent in Cuba. The US government has charged the Miami-based network Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) with the task of overseeing the spread of propaganda and disinformation through social media. The OCB is a subsidiary of the state-owned Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency which owns and supervises other networks that broadcast pro-US propaganda overseas, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

Cuba solar energy
The Solar Photovoltaic Park of the Central University 'Marta Abreu' in the Las Villas province of Cuba.

By Ben Geraghty | FRFI

Cuba’s new constitution will incorporate articles enshrining Cuba’s commitment to sustainable development and the protection of the environment. This is a long-standing commitment of which the most recent major iteration was an announcement in 2014 that the country aims to source 24% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Currently about 5% of Cuba’s energy is produced by renewable sources, but there is huge potential for renewable energy development due to Cuba’s geography giving it access to a variety of biofuel sources, a windy coastline and generous amounts of sunshine. Luis Hilario Berriz Perez, president of the state enterprise Cubasolar, explains that ‘Cuba’s territory, of about 111,000 square kilometres, receives solar radiation equivalent to the energy produced by 50 million tons of oil, every day. That is, the solar radiation Cuba receives in a single day, is greater – in its energy value – than all the oil consumed in five years.’ However, there are major barriers to energy development; not least the US blockade. Cuba has been forced to look outside of the US’ sphere of influence for solutions to its energy needs.

cuba constitution

By Helen Yaffe | FRFI 

On 22 July, over 600 delegates in Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the country’s highest decision-making body, approved the draft of a new Constitution after two days of debate in which more than 100 delegates made interventions. Now the Constitution will be distributed throughout the island and between mid-August and mid-November the population will debate it in grassroots meetings, in communities and centres of work and study. A second version of the Constitution will then incorporate opinions expressed in the popular consultation. Following approval of this second version by the National Assembly, the new Constitution will be put to a nationwide referendum based on a secret ballot, probably early in 2019. Helen Yaffe reports.

The socialist character of the Cuban system and the role of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP), as the country’s ideological leadership, remain ‘principles set in stone’. However, a clause in the 1976 Constitution about the ultimate aim of building a communist society is omited from the draft. ‘This does not mean we are renouncing our ideas,’ said President of the National Assembly, Esteban Lazo. At the time of the earlier Constitution, one-third of the world’s population lived under socialist regimes. Today Cuba is almost isolated as a country building socialism. Under such circumstances, the idea of a transition from socialism to communism is abstract and remote. ‘We believe in a socialist, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable country’, explained Lazo. State enterprises will remain the mainstay of the economy. There will be limits to the concentration of private ownership. Access to healthcare and education will remain free and universal. New in the Constitution is a defence of the environment, and the need to mitigate climate change. Other articles are rights which the Cuban state will work to make viable, and some require subsequent legislation.

diaz canel resized

By Will Harney | FRFI

On 19 April 2018 Cuba inaugurated its new Council of State, including the new President, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez. He is the first leader of Cuba’s government to be born after the revolution of 1959. At this event which concluded the six-month long general election, outgoing leader Raul Castro addressed the National Assembly of People’s Power, expressing optimism about the suitability of the country’s new leadership to continue the programme of economic, social and political reforms, as well as the significant progress made in rejuvenating and diversifying the National Assembly so that it reflects the demographics of the nation it serves. Raul also expressed his hope that Diaz-Canel would succeed him as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, indicating that the ties between the Party and the government of Cuba will remain strong in the years to come. Will Harney reports.

The transition to the next generation

Raul stepped down this year after two terms in office, in accordance with the term limits agreed in the Communist Party of Cuba’s programme of updates to the socialist model, which were approved at the 6th Congress in 2011 and consolidated at the 7th Congress in 2016. Guidelines for economic, social and political reforms were drafted, modified and agreed in 2010-11, in consultation with the people through a participatory democratic system (FRFI 221). Included in the programme are gradual changes to improve efficiency and productivity in Cuba’s economy, with a greater role for non-state enterprises, introduction of a housing market and incentives for greater foreign investment with the state retaining control over central planning. The guidelines also stipulate that no one over 70 will assume a leadership position in the Party, effectively guaranteeing that the country’s leadership will transition to a new generation.

carriles justice resized

By Will Harney | FRFI

The self-confessed terrorist bomber and CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles died a free man on 23 May in Miami, Florida where he had been sheltered by the US government since 2005. He was a counter-revolutionary responsible for the deaths of innocent people throughout Latin America.

The right-wing Cuban exile community mourn Posada as a hero: radio station La Poderosa observed a minute’s silence; the Havana Times blog gave tribute to the ‘Hero’ (later amended to ‘Warrior’); while the Miami Herald’s coverage on the day painted him as the James Bond of Latin America. US media headlines were forgiving and almost universally described Posada only as a ‘militant Cuban exile’ (eg Washington Post, 23 May 2018). Echoing this hypocrisy for a British audience, the BBC presented Posada as a ‘Cuba anti-Com­munist activist’ above his smiling portrait.  In the imperialist countries, it was as if a likeable firebrand had passed away, and not a prolific mass murderer.

Cuba undersea cables

‘The internet appears to have been made for revolutionaries’ – Fidel Castro

By Will Harney and Conan Underhill | FRFI

Far from seeing the internet as a danger to be controlled or censored, the Cuban government recognises its potential for empowering oppressed peoples in the revolution against global capitalism (Granma 16 February 2018). The new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel urged in his maiden speech to the National Assembly of People’s Power on 19 April that Cubans must be ‘more creative with spreading our truths’ and start using new technologies to publicise life in socialist Cuba, to counter the lies and misinformation spread by their enemies. This is why development of Cuba’s internet infrastructure has continued apace despite its primary obstacle: the US-imposed economic blockade of Cuba. Meanwhile, US President Trump has ordered the creation of a task force to explore the potential of using the internet to undermine the Cuban revolution. Will Harney and Conan Underhill report.

Expanding internet access

Cuba is prevented from accessing most of the undersea fibre-optic cables which skirt the island, due to the US blockade which prohibits the majority of service providers, based in the US, from connecting to the island (FRFI 218) – with the exception of the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, connected to Florida by the GTMO-1 cable since 2015. Internet usage has therefore always been expensive in Cuba and has been rationed to provide vital service to medical, research and educational institutions. In 2008, Venezuela launched the Venesat-1 (or ‘Simon Bolivar’) Satellite from a rocket base in China to provide internet, television and telephone connectivity to Latin America, to the benefit of countries which had been forced to depend on US infrastructure. This enabled greater internet access in Cuba but connection via the satellite remained slow compared to a cabled network. Then in 2013 the 1,860km ALBA-1 fibre-optic cable was constructed between Venezuela and Cuba. Public Wi-Fi hotspots have multiplied to more than 500 in the years since.

Speech by representative of Cuban Embassy to RATB ‘Cuba Today: Democracy and Socialism’ meeting – 19/05/18

The following speech was delivered by Julio Pujol Torres, the Counsellor for Political Affairs at the Cuban Embassy to the UK, at a meeting organised by Rock Around the Blockade on 19 May to launch our 2019 solidarity brigade to Cuba.

Dear friends,

First of all we want to thank the comrades of Rock Around the Blockade and the Revolutionary Communist Group for inviting us to the Launch of the Brigade two thousand nineteen – ‘Cuba today: socialism and democracy’ - precisely today, when we commemorate the one hundred and twenty-third anniversary of the fall in combat of the Apostle of our Independence Jose Marti.

It is a pleasure for us to be here today with you. We want to offer our full support to this idea of solidarity with our people of Cuba.

Just a few weeks ago millions of Cubans marched in all squares from our country to greet the international workers' day and to support to our victorious Revolution that continues the struggle to consolidate the construction of a prosperous and sustainable socialism, which guarantees the greatest justice for all Cubans, despite imperialism's attempts to destroy us in all possible ways.