Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba’s ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive to the daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, Mexico.
Political organizations and religious institutions of all kinds, tones, and colors have tried to legislate about what have been (or are) the most appropriate “carnal relations.”
An investigative work on homosexuality in several countries, by University of New Mexico professor emeritus of sociology, Nelson Valdés, states that the Bolsheviks in Russia criminalized homosexuality for a short time in 1922. But it has been a general rule that both communists, socialists and capitalist parties always avoid defining guidelines on sexual orientation.
Valdés points out that in the United States, the change came just on December 6, 2011, when US foreign policy manifested itself in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “rights” in some countries of the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then announced a global LGBT policy, although she acknowledged that she was talking about this subject “knowing that my country’s record on human rights for homosexuals is far from adequate.”
Until 2003, it was a crime in the United States to be LGBT. Many homosexuals in the United States suffered violence and harassment. For some – among them many young people – harassment and exclusion continue to be daily realities. “Hence, as in all nations, we have a lot of work to do to protect human rights in our country,” Secretary of State Clinton said in a December 2011 statement.
His new international policy promised to open the borders of the United States to give aid and protection to the LGBT refugees and asylum seekers … as long as they came from those countries of which Washington demands regime change.
Practically, the United States had only added one more pretext for its intrusion into the internal affairs of those countries that defied American power.
Shortly afterward, in the mid-1970s, the media “influenced” by Washington within their own nation and around the world unleashed a great campaign on the alleged discrimination against homosexuals in Cuba.
Simultaneously, a media crusade was initiated to demonstrate that “the roots of homophobia in Cuba were in the revolution of Fidel Castro and the new Cuban communist leadership.” In 2000, the Cuban leader admitted his personal responsibility for not having promptly corrected the phenomenon, derived from the stubborn policies of years before the revolution.
Until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other related professions throughout the hemisphere shared similar attitudes. Homosexuality was considered until very recently a “deviation” and prohibited in the majority of the states of the United States. For its part, Cuba had inherited a macho culture because of long-standing attitudes, both in Spain and in the African cultures that contribute to its national identity.
However, in the last two decades, says Professor Nelson Valdes, the changes on issues of sexual identity and gender have been extraordinary. The Cuban media has played a systematic and concerted role in the education of the general population. Cinematography has been at the forefront in discussing these issues. In the last 13 years, Cuban television has more explicitly explored issues related to alternative sexual behavior.
The openness to openly gay behavior has not been limited to Havana alone. Homophobia is clearly in decline throughout the island as evidenced by the fact that gay and lesbian candidates are being elected to public office. A well-known foreign observer has pointed out that, in this area, “Cuba is much more liberal than the United States and Europe.”
What remains to be addressed is how it has been possible for a country characterized by such macho tendencies so entrenched in institutions, politicians, and national culture to have changed so much in the relatively short period of half a century and now that homophobia has become the enemy.
Indeed, the mainstream media and political and social leaders in the country have openly attempted to positively influence the population, in which some of the older people have tried to cling to the sexual and gender roles learned before the triumph Of the Cuban revolution.
Valdes highlights as a great achievement that Cubans have overcome the idea that machismo, manhood, and masculinity are the expressions of what defines a revolutionary. But, in my opinion, it is the awareness of the necessity of national unity for the defense of the revolution that has played an essential role in such a transcendental task for the progress of the human condition.
July 6, 2017.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Not every sector of the U.S. society, nor all U.S. citizens, is frustrated at President Barack Obama’s performance so far or his failure to keep his promises of change.
Small wonder, taking into account that the election of the young and charismatic senator raised hopes on both ends of the U.S. society’s spectrum over something he could not possibly accomplish.
To the elites holding the real power, Barack Obama was a necessary risk to save capitalism and U.S. dominance at home and abroad, as they had realized even before George W. Bush’s first mandate ended that Obama looked as promising as Franklin D. Roosevelt once was to a newly-formed imperialism following the Great Depression.
We must bear in mind that despite widespread hopes worldwide and many experts’ predictions, the conservative right has seen more victories than setbacks under Obama in matters of war policy while still treating him as an adversary. They have managed to considerably neutralize an antiwar movement whose members remain hopeful nonetheless, albeit not without certain reservations, that Obama will keep the promises he made during the presidential race, however long it may take him to.
The number of rallies and protest campaigns has decreased, never mind that Iraq remains an occupied country, the death toll in Afghanistan keeps rising and the war, far from decreasing, is now threatening Pakistan. Likewise, the torture center in Guantanamo is still operating under an assortment of pretexts, and the practices of “preemptive detention” and relocation of suspects in other countries are anything but over while every effort is made to hinder any investigation launched into cases of crimes against humanitarian law.
The number of military bases around the world “to fight drug trafficking” is growing rather than decreasing, and troops are withdrawn only when they can be replaced with “security contractors” –mercenaries– in the interests of privatizing all wars of occupation.
A sort of impasse in favor of the new U.S. president is also noticeable in Africa and the Caribbean, as many leaders and citizens from those regions feel committed to their support of Obama’s campaign, by virtue of a very conveniently manipulated racial identity which has made it possible for the superpower to revive its ties with them, regardless of the Third World’s repeated demands that the president be as good as his word.
At domestic level, the wealthy have profited more from Obama’s achievements than the middle class and the poor: his huge bailouts for the benefit of banks and insurance companies have put Wall Street’s mind at rest; the acquisition of the car industry with the Government’s backing to protect Corporate America from the labor union has been praised by the owners of that sector; and the $800 billion value pack for big business, as well as the mortgage loans to appease discontent among the workers, have definitely paid off.
Obama’s trips to other nations in order to restore old alliances and friendly links destroyed by the 8-year-long Bush administration are to the big companies’ liking, since they mean more investment and a bigger share of those alternative markets.
His promises to make reforms in the health system look fine to the right-wingers as long as they’re nothing more than a few cosmetic changes properly screened by the powerful giants of the pharmaceutical, biotechnological and health insurance companies.
For all the obvious steps Obama has taken to save capitalism and U.S. hegemony, the conservative elements who really call the shots offstage stick by their strategy of keeping the president always on the defensive by allowing, if not promoting, that he is branded as communist and criticized for his slightest criticism of racism.
When he came to the rescue of the banks, many likened him to Lenin and Stalin and warned him they would accuse him of trying to come up with a Union of Socialist American Republics. The governor of Texas threatened to set up a secessionist movement to fight against the U.S. president’s “socialist” economic plan.
Obama puts himself across as a leader committed to the promises that earned him a vote of confidence by most U.S. citizens and the Third World’s hopes of a change of direction in the superpower’s peace efforts, but one whose initiative invariably gives in to the pressures of a conservative right intent on keeping him more worried about defending himself than about making any progress.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As a source of foreign currency, international tourism is thirty times bigger than it was 60 years ago, with more than 700 million tourists hopping from one country to another every year.
Several rich and highly industrialized nations among the destinations most favored by foreign visitors, and some of them also happen to be top issuers of tourists not only to other no less developed countries but also, and increasingly so, to poor countries where they can enjoy a better climate, a cleaner environment and a richer cultural diversity.
International tourism should be used by the richest countries as a vehicle to repay the poorest ones for the plundering of resources they suffered for centuries as a result of colonialism, neocolonialism, unequal exchange and other forms of sacking and exploitation leading to the dramatic disparity facing mankind today.
However, capitalism has its own set of rules, imposed by big business even to the practice of North-South tourism. Given that the conditions to be met by international tourism are more and more sophisticated, the poor nations find it harder and harder to fulfill them by themselves. Placing the building and management of your hotels and the rest of the tourism infrastructure in the hands of foreign investors is no longer enough to be as competitive as the industry demands nowadays.
For instance, the cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts give the target markets very little chance to make a profit, as the foreign visitors have already paid to the tour operators back home all their travel expenses, including meals, drinks, local transport and leisure activities. In the case of the former, the tourists sleep, eat and enjoy various amenities on board. “All they do when they put into port is damage the environment and get rid of the waste generated during the trip”, grumble those who naysay of this major part of the tourism industry in poor countries. On the other hand, travelers who choose all-inclusive results pay for almost everything in advance: accommodation, meals, soft and alcoholic drinks, sports, entertainment, even the tips. Critics in the recipient countries argue this form of tourism barely helps the local economy and damages the environment to boot. Indeed, most of these resorts are in relatively distant locations far from any major urban center, which prevents tourists from shopping around or enjoying local attractions, mainly because they have paid beforehand for everything their lodgings have to offer. These resorts are owned and/or managed by big corporations that leave the local small or medium-sized enterprises hardly any room to breathe.
At first they offered three daily meals and the clientele would pay for the drinks, but the common practice in the Caribbean made it more comprehensive as a function of developing tourism and making it more social.
In the late 1970s Canada saw the birth of a new mass tourism industry generally aimed at skilled workers who were not as well paid as the traditional tourists from rich countries –which suited the all-inclusive system down to the ground– that provided charter flights, more economic hotel operations and affordable prices that made demand hit the roof.
These all-inclusive resorts promise a vacation without surprises, as the tourists who buy a value pack know that at checkout time they won’t be handed a bill in excess of their calculations.
By the mid-1990s the all-inclusive resorts had become popular throughout the Caribbean and thus forced the big beach hotel chains to jump on the bandwagon.
Nonetheless, the mass tourist operations run by the top corporations in recipient countries have also brought with them serious social damages that the clientele’s few collateral and almost accidental expenses can hardly compensate for. There’s over-exploitation of the local workforce, whose employment insecurity virtually turns them into the foreign company’s slave labor. Consequently, poor areas spring up rapidly around the tourist parks where there are no hospitals or health care centers and corruption and tax evasion, among other scourges, are rampant.
Cuba, on the contrary, has managed to make the most of this economy of scale and stay clear of the social effects that countries like, for example, the Dominican Republic and Mexico have suffered, thanks to the high level of social organization in the Island, the scope of its socialist project, and the fact that the State and its public bodies have full control over foreign investment issues.
Our tourist industry workers are protected and their rights and social benefits guaranteed –an utopian goal everywhere else across the region– and our mass tourism revenues are reinvested in the development and welfare of the Cuban population.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Proof that neoliberal capitalist domination is universal lies in the real estate speculation that underlies the neoliberal dream that “wealth is easy in the capitalist world”.
The most common evidence is finding a sumptuous building being built where previously there had been many modest homes and/or small businesses. If there is not a billboard to inform you, investigate and you will find that the new construction will house or serve a small number of families in very sumptuous conditions.
This phenomenon of capitalism is called “gentrification.” Sometimes it affects whole neighborhoods of humble population and leaves beautiful spaces that certainly can make wide sectors of the citizenship proud –even popular sectors– despite the fact that they hurt the sensitivity of those who worry about the worsening situation of those who previously inhabited those areas.
I remember that, shortly after the triumph of the revolution in Cuba, more than half a century ago, for the first time, I heard of this from a young dreamer named Eusebio Leal.
If I am not mistaken, he, being a history lover, began working as an assistant to the elder historian of the city of Havana, Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring (1889-1964). Eusebio devoted himself so thoroughly to his work that he became, first, a faithful and indispensable assistant to this erudite figure and, after his death, his replacement.
The process of restoration of the historical center of Havana City has gone through several stages after the Office of the Historian was founded –with managerial and operational autonomy– in 1938, on Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring’s initiative Its purpose was the promotion of the culture of Havana and the conservation of the valuable monumental legacy that the capital of the country treasures.
Eusebio added to his mentor’s teachings his own considerations and theories about the course to be applied to the conservation, reconstruction, and development projects of the capital city of all Cubans. He did it with such brilliance that it soon became clear that no one but he could undertake the complex task of conducting the work.
He was officially appointed Historian of the City when he had already demonstrated, in daily practice, that he was the ideal person to carry out the ambitious projects that were only in his mind but which he described as fait accompli.
So many people had to be convinced that the need to save Havana was so pressing that it would have to be taken on as a priority together with the education, public health and defense of the country.
This implied such tasks of convincing and promoting that made Eusebio Leal excel as a tribune and diplomat as well as administrator and builder.
Of course, the works and projects of the Office of the Historian of Havana earned enthusiastic patronage from the highest political leadership of the Cuban state, including that of the top leader Fidel Castro, who gave them their full support whenever necessary.
With Eusebio’s personal participation in every promotional detail, the historic center of the Cuban capital was declared a World Heritage SIOPite by UNESCO in 1982. This fueled a process of restoration that has transcended the patrimonial conservation framework and became an example of sustainable local development.
The restoration process had, as a central aim, the concept that the historic center would be not only an act of high architectural and urban value, but also the creation of a site with great cultural, economic and social potential. Eusebio was convinced that a successful rehabilitation should be self-financing and socially participatory.
The restoration process of the Historic Center of Old Havana –based on a model of self-management with a participatory and community approach– has been successful in the Cuban patrimonial context. It has contributed to the objective of guaranteeing the social achievements of the Cuban people within the socialist revolution.
One undoubted social impact of the restoration process is that it created a new awareness about the value of the city, its potential and the feasibility of its recovery.
The restoration of old hotels, the creation of hostels and extra-hotel services of various kinds has created the most visible side of the economy of the historic center. These, together with the commercial activity and handicraft production, have formed a profile that describes the historic center of the city.
Havana will not be gentrified. The population that has given it worldwide fame for its joy, traditions, hospitality, generosity and solidarity will continue to be the absolute owner of the increasingly beautiful and welcoming city.
May 4, 2017
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Una prueba de que el capitalismo neoliberal es universal en su dominación, está en la especulación inmobiliaria que fundamenta el sueño neoliberal de que la riqueza es fácil en el mundo capitalista. Lo más común es encontrar un suntuoso edificio construido donde antes hubo muchas viviendas modestas y/o pequeños comercios. Si no hubiera una valla que se lo informe, investigue y generalmente conocerá que la nueva construcción alojará o dará servicio a un reducido número de familias pero en condiciones muy suntuosas.
Este fenómeno propio del capitalismo se llama “gentrificación”. A veces afecta a barrios enteros de población humilde y deja bellos espacios que ciertamente pueden constituir orgullo de amplios sectores de la ciudadanía –incluso sectores populares- aunque hieran la sensibilidad de quienes se preocupan por la peor situación en que quedaron quienes habitaban esas áreas.
Recuerdo que poco después del triunfo de la revolución en Cuba, hace más de medio siglo, oí hablar por vez primera de este fenómeno a un joven soñador nombrado Eusebio Leal, quien -si no me equivoco- por ser aficionado a la historia, comenzó a trabajar como asistente del anciano historiador de la ciudad de La Habana, Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring (1889 – 1964). Se entregaba con tanto esmero a su labor que se convirtió, primero, en fiel e imprescindible ayudante de este sabio y, luego de su muerte, en su sustituto.
El proceso de restauración del centro histórico de Ciudad de La Habana ha pasado por varias etapas desde que, en 1938, se fundó con carácter autónomo la Oficina del Historiador por iniciativa del Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, con el propósito de fomentar la cultura habanera y promover la conservación del valioso legado monumental que la capital del país atesora.
Eusebio incorporó a las enseñanzas de su mentor sus propias
consideraciones y teorías acerca del curso que debía aplicarse a los proyectos de conservación, reconstrucción y desarrollo de la ciudad capital de todos los cubanos con tal brillantez que bien pronto se hizo evidente que nadie más que él podría asumir la compleja tarea de conducir esos trabajos. Fue designado oficialmente Historiador de la Ciudad cuando ya había demostrado, en la práctica cotidiana, que era la persona idónea para impulsar los ambiciosos proyectos que apenas bullían en su mente pero que ya describía como hechos consumados. Había que convencer a tanta gente de que la necesidad de salvar a La Habana era tan presionante que tendría que ser asumida de manera prioritaria y simultánea con las de educación, salud pública y defensa del país.
Ello implicaba un trabajo de convencimiento y promoción que hizo que Eusebio Leal sobresaliera como tribuno y diplomático tanto como administrador y constructor. Por supuesto, las obras y proyectos de la Oficina del Historiador de La Habana obtuvieron patrocinio entusiasta de la máxima dirección política del Estado cubano, incluyendo el del máximo líder Fidel Castro quien les dio todo su apoyo cuando ello fue necesario.
Con su participación personal en cada detalle promocional, el centro histórico de la capital cubana fue declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO en 1982, algo que impulsó un proceso de restauración que ha trascendido los marcos de la conservación patrimonial y se convirtió en ejemplo de desarrollo local sostenible. El proceso restaurador apuntaba a que el centro histórico no sería solamente un acto de alto valor arquitectónico y urbanístico, sino además un sitio de gran potencial cultural, económico y social, con la convicción de que una rehabilitación exitosa debía ser autofinanciable y socialmente participativa.
El proceso de restauración del Centro Histórico de La Habana Vieja basado en un modelo de autogestión con enfoque participativo y comunitario ha sido exitoso en el contexto patrimonial cubano y ha aportado al objetivo de garantizar las conquistas sociales logradas por el pueblo cubano con la revolución socialista.
Un indudable impacto social del proceso de restauración, es que a partir de su propia labor, se ha creado una nueva conciencia sobre los valores de la ciudad, sus potencialidades y la factibilidad de su recuperación.
A partir de la restauración de antiguos hoteles, la creación de hostales y de servicios extrahoteleros de diverso orden, se ha constituido en la cara más visible de la economía del centro histórico, junto con la actividad comercial, y ha conformado un perfil que al igual que la actividad artesanal, califica al centro histórico de la ciudad.
La Habana no será gentrificada. La población que le ha dado fama mundial por su alegría, sus tradiciones, su hospitalidad, su generosidad y su solidaridad seguirá siendo dueña absoluta de la cada vez más bella y acogedora ciudad.
Mayo 4 de 2017
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Who is this monster, the United States’ worst enemy in South America, who is worse than Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden? The who supports all terrorists and drug traffickers in the world, from Al Qaeda to Hamas, who promotes hate against the wealthy, and who can also count on enough popular support to win all the elections?
With questions such as these begins the documentary “South of the Border” by the prominent American filmmaker Oliver Stone. The film is about the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, to be presented on Sunday September 6, to the press at the Venice Film Festival. According to reports, the film includes testimony about the personality and career of the charismatic Venezuelan leader by Latin American presidents, Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, and Raúl Castro of Cuba.
The announcement of the completion of this film project coincided with the failure of a campaign funded by the Colombian oligarchy, supported by groups of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition, and the U.S. It was orchestrated under the slogan “No more Chavez.” The campaign sought to organize simultaneous marches on 4 September 2009 in ninety cities worldwide, “to protest the insults against Colombia which were made by the Venezuelan leader.”
According to press reports, the event was convened, by “a group of young Colombian entrepreneurs” who had predicted the event would be attended by great numbers of people, in major cities worldwide however, it only managed to attract small crowds using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on the Internet.
The movement, considered, by Venezuelan-American lawyer, writer and journalist Eva Golinger, to be “a call for assassination, hatred and destabilization” failed when it only brought together groups of a few hundred people in a number of cities – much smaller numbers than the projected. “They failed and were made to appear ridiculous with the demonstrations they called against Chavez for Friday and Saturday,” said the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Cilia Flores.
Organizers affirmed, without giving specific numbers, that they were successful in carrying out rallies in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Sydney, Brussels, Hamburg, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Tegucigalpa, several cities in Venezuela, as well as thirty locations in Colombia.
The most popular of these was, without a doubt, the rally that was “called” in Tegucigalpa, by the military government that took power by military coup on July 1 and which, removed the constitutional President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya. The insurgents reported that about two thousand people participated in an event led by Roberto Micheletti, the de facto head of state.
In Bogota, several groups marched from the northern suburbs of the city, areas that have high concentrations of the upper class, to the historic center. In the downtown area of Bogotá, and in other areas, the anti-Venezuela protests were rejected by grassroots groups with whom they exchanged shouts and at times, even blows.
Popular Protesters came out against President Álvaro Uribe’s proposal to make changes in current law in order to run for re-election again, and also, in opposition to Uribe’s military pact with the U.S. government. Which, according to the official version, has as its aim to put Colombian military facilities at the service of U.S. operations against drug trafficking in the region. For all the other South American leaders – primarily Chavez, this action represents the surrender of Columbia to U.S. military occupation and poses a threat to the independence of Latin America nations.
In Caracas, popular and opposition groups gathered at a safe distance from each other in order to avoid confrontation, and to express, respectively, rejection and support for President Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution. The demonstrations were preceded by appeals to keep the marches peaceful.
In the demonstration against Chavez, where a few hundred opponents chanted “No more Chavez,” the counterrevolutionary slogan launched from Bogota, the metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma, of the opposition, demanded freedom of expression in an act that, paradoxically, was being protected by authorities and broadcast by several radio stations and local television stations. There was also criticism of a law passed by parliament that expands educational options to low-income sectors.
On the side of Chavez supporters, thousands of citizens dressed in red, the color of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and marched in support of the Bolivarian leader, while at the same time other hundreds of marches in support of Chavez were taking place in inland towns. Diosdado Cabello, a leader of PSUV reported in Caracas that the Venezuelan opposition maintains its plan of assassination because of the inability to defeat Chavez at the polls in democratic processes.
By telephone, from Tehran, Iran, where he was on an official visit, Hugo Chávez, the evil defender of the humble, the enemy of the rich and of American hegemony on the continent, ratified the Venezuelan peoples commitment demonstrated in their mass rally against the foreign ministry in Caracas, by stating, “homeland, freedom and socialism.”
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Over the last few years, groups of baseball history aficionados from the U.S. and Canada have been flying to Cuba to visit historic sites related to this sport and various ballparks to watch Cuba’s provincial teams at play.
Because of the measures implemented by the George W. Bush administration to strengthen the U.S. economic blockade, especially the travel ban imposed on American citizens, these groups are made up exclusively of Canadians, all of them Major League Baseball fans.
While here they meet with some of the country’s great sporting figures who used to play in a number of professional baseball leagues in the U.S. or elsewhere in our continent and whose careers and records are known to them, and share memories and news with the ex-players about others who live here or there or have passed away.
These groups also visit the graves of outstanding Cuban athletes, as well as commemorative plaques and monuments put up either to Cuban ballplayers or Canadian nationals in honor of their achievements in domestic or international matches.
Likewise, they get to greet, always with great admiration and respect, many of the current first-class players of Cuban baseball whose performance in Olympic or Pan American Games, world baseball championships or friendly games with MLB or other professional teams have brought them stardom.
Some of these Canadians even keep up with our National Tournament through the Internet.
Particularly emotional is their usual visit to the cemetery of Cruces, a town in the province of Cienfuegos, where Martín Dihigo (1912-1971) lies buried, and to the Municipal Museum, where there’s a hall dedicated to the famous Cuban player deemed by many the most complete the world has ever seen.
Martín Dihigo filled in every position in the field and is the only one included in four Halls of Fame in three countries: Cuba, Mexico and the U.S. (for his record in both the Big Leagues and the Negro League). He was a fantastic pitcher and a great hitter who set plenty of records, some of which are yet to be broken.
Another significant event is their meeting with Cuban veterans who played in the Majors and gladly share highlights of their life as ballplayers.
I attended one of such meetings where the fantastic African American hitter and Negro League Hall of Famer Monte Irving was present. Now in his eighties, Irving held a friendly argument with the Cuban former MLB pitcher Conrado Marrero, currently a nonagenarian, about a game they played 60 years ago in which the Cuban first struck him out with runners on base and then, in his next at-bat, Irving hit a huge homerun. They both remembered every detail of that game and had a great time exchanging other unforgettable moments of their long-lived friendship on baseball diamonds.
Striking, the way these visitors are delighted at the noncommercial character of Cuban baseball, something they put on a level with the original spirit of the game that North America has lost or is on its way to losing as a result of the growingly suffocating profit-oriented schemes imposed on sports.
If any of them grumbles about a defensive error caused by a flaw of the infield surface or complains that a quality game should not be marred by the use of worn-out balls, there’s always someone who remarks that the authenticity of this sport justifies everything.
It’s incredible to see, when they visit any of the many baseball fans’ discussion circles spread across the country, how well they communicate with the Cubans despite the language barrier, shatter by gestures that all baseball buffs master and use at will, not only in the hurly-burly of a stadium but also in their raucous give-and-take with foreign fans.
Batting averages, ball exit speed ratios, base-running skills, a coach’s strategy and tactics… they’re all described with baseball-like mime and lots of shouting on the side, enough to turn Havana’s Parque Central or any other venue into a genuine, if noisy, friendship forum.
I must point out that some local fans are somewhat distrustful of the visitors, as they don’t rule out the chance that the Canadians might be talent scouts with their eyes on Cuban ballplayers, motivated by political or simply profit-making purposes. They banish all suspicions from their mind, however, as soon as they hear Professor Kit Kriger, a longtime leader of teachers’ labor unions in the city of Vancouver and organizer of these trips, exhort baseball players and fans alike to maintain the purity of the game and keep it beyond the reach of merchants and state with certainty that Cuban baseball outranks American baseball both in terms of competitiveness –as evidenced by the final standings in the 2006 World Baseball Classic– and sportsmanship.
He urged our athletes to devote themselves totally to community sports, turn a deaf ear to siren songs, and always stand by their people, whose support is worth more than any amount of money or consumer goods.
Many of these Canadians interested in the history of baseball have strongly condemned the action taken by the U.S. government to prevent Cuba from being in the abovementioned Classic, as they came within an inch of frustrating one of the most significant events in baseball’s recent history. On the other hand, they highly praised the decision taken by the Cuban government and players to donate any money received at the tournament to the victims of hurricane Katrina, which had destroyed New Orleans only days before, mainly for lack of official involvement. It was Cuba’s attitude what saved the Classic, they assured.
The fact that Cuba finished second –ahead of every other team of the American continent– and even knocked the superpower’s super-team out of the Classic was described by some of them as proof that, far from contributing to the quality of the game, the exorbitant mercantilism ruling over baseball in today’s world detracts from it.
The damage caused by the four-decade-long U.S. blockade on Cuba amounts to more than $80 billion, that is, some $2 billion a year on average. And every year the world votes almost unanimously in the General Assembly of the United Nations against such a flagrant violation of international law.
Something that hardly any U.S. citizen knows is that every time a Cuban player succumbs to a financial offer –made for political reasons rather than for the athlete’s intrinsic qualities– and accepts a contract to play professional baseball in another country, the news travels fast as part as the smear campaign against the Island and its social and political achievements.
How sad that a game otherwise helpful to bring together the peoples of Cuba and the U.S. who love it so much –as shown by these group visits of North American baseball historians– should be used to distort the facts of the Cuban Revolution and encourage defection by promising resources completely alien to the humanism and solidarity values inherent to Cuban sports players.
“Socialism is voluntary”, goes a motto that Cubans proudly voice whenever any high-performance athlete makes such an unfortunate choice and decides to relinquish his or her compatriots’ admiration and affection.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Despite the impressive legal and institutional framework established to prevent it, the practice of torture remains widely tolerated or even used by governments, and there is still impunity for its perpetrators”.
So it was admitted by the United Nations Secretary General in the appeal issued every year by this organization ever since December 12, 1997, when its General Assembly passed Resolution 52/149 proclaiming June 26 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
For a long time, the widespread, standard use of cruel and repressive methods, and especially the torture of prisoners, was held to be indigenous to prisons and military garrisons in Latin America during the second half of the 20th century.
Nowadays, however, there’s no doubt about the origin of actions and concepts that divorced the Latin American peoples from their soldiers and turned torture into a daily practice against the population.
When news –including pictures– on torture and other forms of inhuman treatment used by the U.S. army against prisoners in Iraqi jails and the detention center they illegally keep in areas of Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, old reports pointing at the School of the Americas (SOA), set up in Panama in 1946, began to take full credit.
Around those days, in 1947, the U.S. government also set in motion its gloomy, official criminal organization called Central Intelligence Agency, bound to write, in the region and the world over, the dirtiest chapters of abuse, barbarism and terror humanity has ever known.
Up until 1963, the SOA was named Latin American Training Center – Ground Division, reportedly designed to train acting military leaders and qualify new ones needed by armies throughout the continent.
After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, it took on more specific responsibilities as a result of the failure in the island of the center’s highly favored strategies. Now it would be used to train cadre called to stop the Cuban example from spreading across Latin America.
The space for “representative democracy” was considerably curtailed while military dictatorships mushroomed all over the region. Democratic traditions like Chile’s and Uruguay’s were no more respected than the size of mega-nations like Argentina and Brazil.
The SOA played a significant role as part of this ‘firm hand’ policy and its dreariest expression, the ‘Operation Condor’, for which it trained leaders, organized death squads to oppose insurgency, and designed interrogation and torture techniques.
Various dictators, chiefs of police and notorious torturers who played a decisive part in Operation Condor came from the SOA, many of whose professors and advisors took part in the dirty war against Latin America.
In 1984, following the Torrijos-Carter agreements and the signature of the Treaty on the Panama Canal, the SOA was relocated in Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia.
In 2001, owing to the huge wave of reports that the U.S. Congress had been receiving since 1999 to denounce the content of the torture training manuals that it used to train its students, the SOA’s request to operate was turned down.
The Pentagon “obidiently” renamed the school Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and made some cosmetic changes to conceal the most serious human rights violations that were a commonplace occurrence in its premises.
Whether cases of torture in secret prisons should be treated as confidential information is now under debate in the U.S., and in the meantime the world is witnessing in astonishment how Richard Cheney, who was vice president until a few months ago, openly defends the use of torture against prisoners and even demands more publicity for the ways such inhuman treatment redounds for the benefit of his country in order to gain more popular acceptance of that torment.
Beyond denunciations and protests about this practice, the world should also worry about saving another victim of torture: the American people, now faced with the morally degrading fact that so many of their young soldiers are being forced to inflict suffering on other human beings or trained for that purpose.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Paulo Nogueira Batista, an executive director representing Brazil and a group of eight Latin American countries in the International Monetary Fund, stressed during a world tourism conference held a week ago in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis that “U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration should work to bringing Cuba back into international bodies such as the IMF”.
His appeal is anything but exceptional. In fact, it adds to the chorus of many in the United States and other countries against an economic blockade that year after year the international community condemns almost with one voice in the United Nations General Assembly, as well as to the widespread criticism leveled at the U.S. anti-Cuban policy, as with the variety of statements made in the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in favor of restoring Cuba’s right to join the Organization of American States, even if the host nation is known to be opposed to the idea.
It all reveals a lack of consistency with the promise of change that helped the new U.S. president win the election: to the voters, it means a high number of social rights denied to them despite their country’s wealth, whereas to the elite who truly hold the power these are merely necessary corrections to prevent the collapse of a seriously endangered imperial order.
However, that the superpower has managed to get away with the manifest crime against humanity that its fifty-year-long blockade on the small neighboring island represents throws into relief the wickedness and absurdity of the world order imposed on our planet and proves that it extends beyond economic issues to leave a deep mark on the political leanings of plenty of people and social groups.
Obviously, many strong forces are currently in motion in the United States to lift the blockade, end the travel ban and reestablish official relations with Cuba, but it’s also undeniable that the effects of half a century of malicious slander compel most of those who fight to get things back to normal between both countries to justify their efforts to correct this wrong by arguing that the Cuban revolution has successfully overcome every aggressive wile so far and therefore other, more subtle ones are needed.
I believe those who claim that all people in the world have the inalienable right to a revolution and that the Cubans have been forced to exercise such right under constant, unjustifiable pressure from its nearest neighbor –the greatest military and economic power on Earth– are still a minority in the United States.
Small wonder, then, that zealous defenders of the U.S.’s worst terrorist acts against Cuba are now challenging the blockade, including Cuban-Americans who made a living from the attacks on the island using the considerable financial aid earmarked by Washington for overthrowing the Revolution and are now saying that violence must be replaced by ideological influence without giving up the ultimate purpose.
This idea of trying to undermine the Cuban Revolution from the inside is not only typical of the new political currents up north or the Cuban counterrevolutionaries at their service. It’s common knowledge that almost every northern nation whose government has long advised world capitalism’s leading superpower to lift the blockade on Cuba is as fearful of the former’s example as they are of the latter’s.
Yet, the Cuban Revolution, whose people and leaders have been so determined to and capable of fighting the hardest battles for their identity and rights, would not be worthy of its name if it shied away from the challenge of engaging the enemy in the battlefield of ideological confrontation.
Funded by the U.S., anti-Cuban propaganda coined the argument that Cuba took advantage of the blockade to explain its mistakes or flaws while shamelessly trying to isolate, starve and discourage the Cubans from their efforts to carry on with a beautiful revolutionary project that they will never give up until they make it come true.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Mayo de 2009
“La Administración del Presidente estadounidense Barack Obama debía trabajar por lograr la reincorporación de Cuba a organismos internacionales tales como el Fondo Monetario Internacional”, manifestó Paulo Nogueira Batista, un funcionario de dicho Fondo que representa a Brasil y a un grupo de otros 8 países latinoamericanos en el FMI, durante una conferencia sobre turismo mundial que tuvo lugar a mediados de mayo en la ciudad brasileña de Florianópolis.
El llamado no es algo excepcional. De hecho, se incorpora a los muchos que, tanto en Estados Unidos como en otras naciones, se formulan constantemente contra un bloqueo económico que ha sido condenado, casi unánimemente, por la comunidad mundial en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, año tras año.
Son denuncias que forman parte de las críticas más generales a la política de Estados Unidos contra Cuba que ahora están brotando en muchos escenarios, como es el caso de los pronunciamientos a favor de la restitución a Cuba sus derechos de pertenecer a la Organización de Estados Americanos que proliferaron en ocasión de la Conferencia Cumbre de las Américas en Trinidad y Tobago, pese a que es sabido que la nación caribeña rechazaría tal reinserción.
Es tangible la incongruencia que existe entre el significado de las promesas de cambios que propiciaron al nuevo presidente de los Estados Unidos su elección. Para las masas de votantes significan muchas reivindicaciones sociales enajenadas no obstante la opulencia del país, en tanto que, para las élites que detentan el poder verdadero son las correcciones imprescindibles para evitar el derrumbe de un orden imperial gravemente amenazado.
Pero la impunidad con que la superpotencia se ha permitido mantener el evidente crimen de lesa humanidad del bloqueo a la pequeña isla vecina durante medio siglo, pone de relieve lo inicuo y absurdo de ese orden mundial a que se halla sometido el planeta y, así mismo, prueba que éste no se limita a los factores económicos sino que ha marcado profundamente la orientación política de mucha gente y grupos sociales.
Es evidente que hoy, en Estados Unidos, son muchos y muy fuertes los intereses que se movilizan contra el bloqueo económico de Cuba, la prohibición de los viajes de estadounidenses a Cuba y la ausencia de relaciones oficiales con la isla antillana.
Pero también es irrebatible que aún la mayoría de quienes abogan por el retorno a la normalidad de los vínculos diplomáticos, económicos, culturales y de todo tipo entre los dos países, se ven obligados por las huellas de cincuenta años de malintencionadas campañas de difamación, a acudir a la justificación de esta posición rectificadora con el argumento de que la revolución cubana no ha podido ser derrotada con las mañas agresivas hasta ahora utilizadas y es preciso adoptar otras más sutiles.
Son minoría aún en Estados Unidos, a mi juicio, aquellos que –al abogar o respaldar un cambio en la política de Estados Unidos respecto a Cuba- parten del argumento de que la revolución es un derecho inalienable que tienen los pueblos de todas las naciones del mundo y que los cubanos se han visto obligados a ejercer tal facultad siempre obstaculizados por una injustificable hostilidad de la potencia militar y económica mayor del mundo, su vecino más próximo.
Por eso, no sorprende encontrar ahora a furibundos defensores de las políticas más terroristas de EEUU contra Cuba abogando en contra del bloqueo. Incluso entre cubanos residentes en los Estados Unidos que han hecho de la agresividad contra Cuba su medio de subsistencia aprovechando los abundantes recursos financieros que Washington ha destinado al propósito de derrotar a la revolución cubana, se encuentran hoy nuevos propagadores de la idea del cambio de los métodos agresivos por los de la penetración, sin variar los objetivos.
Es obvio que esta idea de intentar la derrota de la revolución cubana desde adentro no es privativa de la nueva corriente política estadounidense y de los contrarrevolucionarios cubanos que sirven a Washington. Nadie ignora que los gobiernos de casi todas las naciones del Norte, que durante muchos años han aconsejado a los de la superpotencia líder del capitalismo mundial que levante el bloqueo a Cuba, temen tanto el ejemplo de Cuba como el de EEUU.
Pero la revolución cubana, cuyo pueblo y sus líderes han dado muestras de decisión y capacidad para librar las batallas más complejas por afirmar su identidad y los derechos populares, no sería verdadera si rehuyera el enfrentamiento ideológico como terreno de lucha para su reafirmación.
La propaganda contra la revolución pagada por Estados Unidos acuñó como consigna la de que Cuba se aprovechaba del bloqueo para justificar sus errores o deficiencias, mientras impúdicamente se trataba de aislar, hambrear y desalentar los bríos de los cubanos por llevar adelante un hermoso proyecto revolucionario al que el pueblo no ha renunciado ni renunciará jamás hasta verlo convertido en realidad.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The mere fact that the U.S. blockade on Cuba has remained in place even when almost all U.N. member states vote against such policy every year is a sure sign of its impudence. However, the obscene nature of the economic war that the world’s sole superpower wages on its small, poor neighboring country lies first of all in a long string of lies that violate the foremost rule of international coexistence: interference by one state in another state’s internal affairs.
Never mind that over 300 million Americans are ashamed of being taken for accessories to a siege designed to bring suffering, hunger and hardship to a nearby population thirty times smaller who defend their independence at all costs: the falseness of the arguments employed by various U.S. Administrations –using a vast media machinery financed by the taxpayers– is an affront to common sense and irrefutable proof of their contempt for the American people, whom they fooled from the outset into thinking that the “embargo” was justified as a means to put pressure on a Cuban Revolution that had seized property owned by, and paid no compensation to, major U.S. companies. Truth is, Cuba observed all international standards on the legitimate nationalization of foreign assets, whereas the U.S. government was the only one who had banned its nationals from negotiating the terms of expropriation, like investors from other nations were doing with whom a satisfactory indemnity was soon after agreed.
Then they came up with the excuse of the threat the Cuban Revolution posed to the hemispheric system, on whose behalf the U.S. masterminded a collective severing of ties with Cuba embraced by all the then-members of the OAS, with the exception of Mexico. As Latin America has been able to advance steadily toward sovereignty, all its countries have reestablished relations with the island.
Cuba’s support for the armed struggle led by national liberation movements across the continent also served to justify the blockade, but the excuse grew obsolete as insofar as the said forces managed to make themselves heard at the polls and other democratic forums, and so our links with them translated into open, plain solidarity.
Cuba’s alignment with the USSR and China was still another reason to accuse the island of violating the principles of Pan-Americanism when, in all fairness, what worried the U.S. above all else was Cuba’s status as a fully independent socialist country, its central role within the nonaligned movement and, ultimately, its great prestige and clout among the peoples and nations of the South.
Totally unconcerned for the truth, the U.S. has used its remarkable financial power to orchestrate media campaigns accusing Cuba of alleged human rights violations, trying to conceal the fact that, not counting the outrages committed in the prison that the U.S. keeps in the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo bay, the island boasts the cleanest record of respect for such rights in the last half century.
Washington has tried all along to make people believe that the pressure exerted by the Miami-based right-wing Cuban American extremists is the reason why it has not voided its embarrassing policy of condemning a free nation to hunger and privation in order to pave the way for a popular uprising against the socialist revolutionary project. What’s certain is that these groups were created by the CIA, and they’re still filling their coffers with money from the federal budget to “promote democracy in Cuba”.
Everybody knows that when the U.S. decides to normalize relations with a ‘hostile’ country they get rid in a jiffy of the “powerful” lobby run by those opposed to the said nation. Like Rome did, Washington has hired traitors, but it despises them.
Given the undeniable evidence of the blockade’s failure, it’s the U.S.’s place to admit so and proceed to repair the offense in compliance with the principles of international law. Obviously, it has chosen instead to devise a face-saving tactics without changing its strategy. Now its discourse reads as follows: “After 47 years, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to reach the goal of taking democracy to the Cuban people. The international community demands more refined and specific sanctions against unruly governments that are not so detrimental to the civilian population, because a general measure unite people around their leaders and become therefore counterproductive”.
There’s every indication that the new standpoint lays the foundations for other plans and more subtle lies –with exactly the same purposes of neo-annexation– in detriment of Cuban independence and the Cubans’ right to carry on the Revolution they have been called to achieve, since 1868 to the present day, by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí and Fidel Castro.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
El solo hecho de que la política de bloqueo de Estados Unidos contra Cuba se haya mantenido a despecho de que casi la totalidad de los Estados que integran la Organización de Naciones Unidas la condenan cada año, bastaría para demostrar su condición impúdica.
Pero el carácter obsceno de esa guerra económica que libra hace medio siglo la superpotencia global única contra la pequeña y pobre nación vecina radica, sobre todo, en que se ha fundamentado siempre en mentiras para quebrantar la primera de las normas de la coexistencia internacional: la condena de la intromisión de cualquier Estado en los asuntos internos de otro.
Más allá de la ignominia que representa para los más de 300 millones de estadounidenses aparecer como cómplices de un asedio llamado a provocar sufrimientos, hambre y miserias a un pueblo vecino treinta veces menor en número que defiende su independencia al costo de cualquier sacrificio, la falsedad de los argumentos que han utilizado las administraciones estadounidenses -con apoyo de una inconmensurable maquinaria mediática que paga la ciudadanía con sus impuestos- constituye un atentado a la razón y un grave menosprecio de la inteligencia del pueblo norteamericano.
De inicio, se le mintió a los estadounidenses alegando que el “embargo”, como instrumento de presión, se justificaba porque la revolución cubana había expropiado sin compensación propiedades de grandes corporaciones estadounidenses, cuando el hecho cierto era que Cuba cumplía todas las normas internacionales para actos de legítima nacionalización y el gobierno de EEUU era el único que prohibía a sus nacionales negociar los términos de compensación como lo estaban haciendo los inversionistas de otras naciones con quienes en poco tiempo se acordaron indemnizaciones satisfactorias.
Pasó después el bloqueo a justificarse por la amenaza que la revolución cubana constituía para el sistema hemisférico, en cuyo nombre Estados Unidos impuso un rompimiento colectivo de relaciones con Cuba que acataron todos los entonces miembros de la Organización de Estados Americanos, menos México. A medida que las naciones latinoamericanas han podido avanzar hacia la afirmación de sus soberanías, todas han restablecido sus vínculos con Cuba.
El apoyo de Cuba a la lucha armada de los movimientos de liberación nacional en Latinoamérica sirvió también de justificación para el bloqueo, pero ésta se fue haciendo obsoleta en la medida en que esas fuerzas iban logrado la posibilidad de manifestarse en las urnas y de otras maneras democráticas, traduciéndose así los nexos de Cuba con ellos en una solidaridad abierta y transparente.
El alineamiento de Cuba con la URSS y China fue otra razón para acusar a la Isla de violar los principios del panamericanismo, cuando en verdad lo que preocupaba era su condición de país socialista absolutamente independiente, su papel protagónico en el movimiento de países no alineados y, en última instancia, su gran prestigio y autoridad entre los pueblos y naciones del Sur.
Sin preocuparse en lo absoluto por la verdad, Estados Unidos ha manejado contra Cuba el argumento de supuestas violaciones de los derechos humanos, usando su formidable poder financiero como propulsor
mediático, pretendiendo ocultar que Cuba ha sido el país del hemisferio donde más fielmente se han respetado los derechos humanos en el último medio siglo, si se excluyen los desmanes en la cárcel que EEUU mantiene en la base militar de Guantánamo, en territorio ilegalmente ocupado a la Isla.
Y, en todo momento, se ha pretendido hacer ver que la presión ejercida por los grupos extremistas cubano-americanos de Miami ha sido responsable de que Washington no cancele esa política bochornosa que condena al hambre y grandes privaciones a una nación soberana, pretendiendo forzar a su pueblo a alzarse contra el proyecto socialista de la revolución popular. Lo cierto es que estos grupos fueron creados por la CIA y son aún financiados por el presupuesto federal con partidas dedicadas a la “promoción de la democracia en Cuba” que nutren arcas en Miami.
Cualquiera sabe de qué manera tan expedita es capaz EEUU de deshacerse del “poder” de los lobbies de los adversarios de sus enemigos cuando decide normalizar relaciones con un país “hostil”. Como Roma, Washington paga a los traidores, pero los desprecia.
Ante la evidencia del fracaso del bloqueo, correspondería al gobierno de Estados Unidos reconocerlo y proceder a reparar la ofensa dentro de los principios del derecho internacional, pero es evidente que se ha modelado una táctica que pretende limpiar la cara sin variar la estrategia. Su discurso hoy reza así:
“Después de 47 años, el embargo unilateral a Cuba ha fracasado en lograr el objetivo de llevar la democracia al pueblo cubano. La comunidad internacional exige que las sanciones sean más refinadas y específicas contra los gobiernos rebeldes y que afecten menos a la población civil porque las medidas generales aglutinan al pueblo en torno a sus dirigentes y por ello se hacen contraproducentes”.
Todo parece indicar que, con esta nueva óptica, prosperan en Estados Unidos -con idénticos fines neo anexionistas- nuevos planes y mentiras más sutiles contra la independencia y el derecho de los cubanos a continuar una revolución a la que, desde 1868 hasta hoy, han estado convocados por Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí y Fidel Castro.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Two of the world’s greatest revolutionaries –Jose Marti and Ho Chi Minh– lived for some time in the United States.
Both had deep knowledge of US history and culture. Both saw the dark side of that nation, but also acknowledged great revolutionary potential in the democratic ideals of the United States. The Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh wrote about the Ku Klux Klan and lynching, while, in the 19th Century, Cuban Jose Martí warned against the evidence of the coming advent of imperialism in North America.”
The quotation is from “Vietnam and Other American Fantasies,” a book by Bruce H. Franklin (b.1934), the multiple award-winning scholar and writer on historical cultural topics.
Franklin’s book attempts to demolish the fantasies, myths, and lies that most people in the United States believe about the relatively recent Vietnam War. It uncovers the truth about what was really an imperialist war against the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
That war was rejected by the heroic struggle of tens of millions of people in the US. The dominant narrative today in the United States claim there was a democratic nation called South Vietnam, and another evil one called North Vietnam that was part of a communist imperial dictatorship. North Vietnam wished to invade South Vietnam.
The United States, being the leader of the free world and the defender of democracy on Earth, had to go to South Vietnam in 1965 to defend it and got bogged down in a quagmire. “We could not win the war because we fought with one hand tied behind our back, because of some university students mobilized by veteran left-leaning professors and the actress Jane Fonda.”
In his book, Franklin explains that Vietnam was a single country, not two countries. The US war against Vietnam began in 1945, not in 1965. The anti-war movement was initiated by US soldiers and sailors who were its vanguard, and in the endydct k made it impossible for Washington to continue the war in 1945.
Between 1945 and 1975 the Vietnamese revolution led the global struggle against colonialism that brought independence to half the world’s population. During those three decades, the US struggled to preserve colonialism and became the leader of neo-colonialism, the ultimate form of imperialism in the world.
Franklin recalls the true story of the day when Japan surrendered: August 14, 1945, recalling his experiences that day, when he was eleven years old. He was riding in a van full of children in joyful celebration in the streets of the Brooklyn neighborhood where he then lived. “We believed in a future of peace and prosperity, quite different from that of a nation always at war, as we live in now.”
That day in August was the beginning of the revolution in Vietnam, when the Vietnamese people rose and, in less than three weeks, defeated the Japanese and the French and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
On September 2, Ho Chi Minh read out the declaration of independence to half a million Vietnamese in Hanoi, the former capital of a new nation that had been fighting for independence for over 2,000 years.
Suddenly, two fighter planes appeared above the crowd. When the Vietnamese recognized US insignia on the planes, they shouted for joy. They believed that the Americans were their friends and allies, and that they were the champions of freedom and independence from colonialism.
Washington, however, conspired with Paris to launch an invasion against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam whose goal was to restore French colonial rule. The United States would provide arms and financing. This, Franklin points out, was the true beginning of the war against Vietnam and marks the beginning of the US people’s movement against that war.
The British troops who had been sent to Saigon to disarm the remaining Japanese forces, instead gave weapons to the Japanese who had been recently disarmed by the Vietnamese. Soon the Japanese joined the British together with the remnants of the French colonial forces to wage war against the newly-declared independent nation of Vietnam.
When Washington later decided to replace France in the war against Vietnam, fierce opposition from US citizens prevented it, and for that reason, direct US military involvement had to be initially disguised.
Bruce H. Franklin recalls that, although it was the struggle of the Vietnamese which defeated the United States, the anti-war movement, especially in the armed forces, ultimately forced Washington to sign a peace treaty that included, word by word, each demand of the victorious Vietnamese liberation forces.