By Leyanis Infante Curbelo
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Last week, between April 23 and 26, the 12th International May First Workshop took place at the Palacio de los Torcedores, in the Cuban capital. It is an event organized by the Cuban History Institute (IHC) and the Central de Trabajadores del país (CTC) that brings together researchers, sociologists, historians, professors and trade unionists from various countries to exchange views on the current economic and political situation, and the role of workers and trade unions in the search for a global balance where relations of equity and social justice are paramount.
As in previous editions of the event, many of the foreign participants are also part of the First of May Brigade, which at this time comes to the island to join the celebrations for the International Workers’ Day that we hold in Cuba.
This is the case with a group of trade unionists from the United States, mostly members of the Socialist Workers Party in that country. This May Day, they packed their backpacks and headed to the Plaza de la Revolución. They joined thousands and thousands of Havana residents in saluting the continuity of the Cuban Revolution. But a week ago, invited by the IHC, they shared, in a panel entitled From Clinton To Trump: How The Working People Of The United States Are Responding To The Anti-Worker Offensive Of The Bosses, their parties and their governments, their most vivid experiences in the struggle for class rights in the heart of the flagship country of world capitalism.
As a reflection of its social structure, this panel attempted to cover representatively the most disadvantaged and discriminated groups in its country: women, blacks and immigrants, and among them, members of those economic sectors that have been historically most oppressed and beaten, and who have therefore had to wage long struggles for their labor rights.
This is the case of Alyson Kennedy, a long-time coal mine worker and member of the first wave of women who broke the barriers that excluded them from jobs in underground mines. In the controversial 2016 U.S. election, she was a Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate.
Or Willie Head, a small farmer in South Georgia, veteran of many battles of black farmers to keep their land. Their struggle is part of a history that dates back more than a century and a half.
For these Americans, who defend the principle that a socialist revolution within their country’s capitalist system is possible, the Cuban Revolution represents the most concrete and current example of these aspirations.
In the opinion of Martín Koppel, journalist for the weekly El Militante, sharing these experiences in Cuba has been very important because, outside the United States in general, the situation of its workers and their struggles is not known; rather, the media conveys the idea that everything is fine with them.
Mary-Alice Waters, a member of the Political Bureau of the Socialist Workers Party, president of Pathfinder Publishing and organizer of the panel, told JR that the idea was to try to answer two main questions from each participant’s perspective: whether after Donald Trump came to power the working class that gave him his vote had also experienced a movement to the right; and whether it was actually possible for a social revolution to triumph in the United States.
On the first, Waters and the other panelists mentioned the teachers’ strike that has taken place in West Virginia recently and that has achieved a significant wage increase in this state’s public sector. Coincidentally, it’s one where Trump won with an overwhelming majority (68 percent) and where the unemployment rate is double the national average. The workers organize demands, she pointed out, because their situation has not improved at all.
In the recent history of our country, we have seen how the working class has waged its struggles at different times in our history and we have gained confidence in what it is capable of doing, said Waters. To illustrate, she mentioned the workers’ struggles of the 1930s, the mass struggle of Black people to overthrow the system of racial segregation in the 1960s, and the popular demonstrations against the Vient Nam war. All of them, she points out, have shown us how the class struggle does have the potential to change governments.
In his closing remarks of the XII International May Day Workshop, René González Barrios, President of the IHC, thanked the American delegation for its participation and affirmed that every time the American people become freer and more independent, the world will be too.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
On October 7, the American magazine Vanity Fair was awarded by the Tel Aviv regime with the exclusive right to a story about the Israeli special police force YAMAM. Today it one of the most sinister anti-terrorist units in the world because its repressive tactics have given it an unarguable prestige.
Under the signature of Adam Ciralsky, the publication included on October 7 a report entitled “From inside the most secret antiterrorist operation…”. The author relates his arrival at a fortified complex in the Ayalon Valley, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where YAMAM is headquartered.
That’s where a gang of anti-terrorist operatives, whose work for four decades has been shrouded in impenetrable secrecy. The journalist crossed through a uniformed Israeli border police combat post and entered an explosion-proof shed where his credentials were scanned, his electronic devices locked up, and a counterintelligence officer gave them a warning sermon.
“Don’t reveal our location,” “don’t remember our faces,” “forget our names,” and “try to forget everything you see,” were the basic instructions.
YAMAM is part of Israel’s national police. It is not subordinate to the Israeli army or Mossad (Israel’s CIA) or Shin Bet (Israel’s FBI). Its situation in Israel’s organization chart is more like Britain’s M.I.5, although recently the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has blurred some of the dividing lines between the tasks of these agencies. YAMAM’s main task, according to the hosts, is to thwart terrorist plans, engage with opposing militants during attacks, combat so-called crime syndicates and prevent border incursions
YAMAM is considered the most qualified agency of its kind in the West to confront a war of espionage. The organization has devised new methodologies to respond to terrorist incidents and mass shootings, which, until now, it only shared with a few of its politically-related counterparts around the world.
At a time when veterans of the so-called Islamic State or ISIS are attacking Western targets outside their strongholds in the Middle East, their expertise is in high demand. Increasingly, the world’s top intelligence and police chiefs are turning to YAMAM (the Hebrew acronym for “special police unit”).
Yet Israel, which, as an occupying power, faces international condemnation for its unequal war against the Palestinians, boasts that some senior government officials who are very critical of Israel on the world stage have begun to ask them for help with their most intractable security problems.
And now the Israeli regime has evidently felt that the time has come to share its experiences with other countries, for its own benefit of course.
The main objective assigned to YAMAM is to thwart terrorist plans against the government before they occur, to involve the military during attacks, to combat “crime syndicates” and to prevent border incursions. In contrast, the military forces are often called upon to confront protest demonstrations in the West Bank, using what human rights activists call exaggerated force.
But protests along the fence separating Israel from Gaza, said to be organized by Hamas, are met only by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outside YAMAM. It is these IDF forces that are generally accused of killing unarmed Palestinians, according to Ciralsky,
When Hamas sends rockets or balloons carrying weapons to Israel, or when it launches rockets, it is the IDF that responds with devastating air strikes. Occasionally, members of YAMAM participate in these attacks, although to a large extent they play a secondary role.
For a year, the author and his team traveled to train and exchange tactics with their U.S., French and German counterparts in areas such as the retaking of passenger trains, frustrating suicide attacks, and disarming men armed with grenades or bombs.
YAMAM’s technology includes robots and drones, and dazzles the uninitiated. But so do the statistics: YAMAM performs an average of about 300 missions a year in which its commandos have prevented the explosion of no less than 50 “time bombs” carried by suicide bombers en route to their targets and hundreds of other attacks in early stages.
YAMAM is a lamentable manifestation of the most modern technology designed as part of the Israeli genocide against Palestine, a nation whose people legitimately aspire to their sovereign space.
October 25, 2018.
This article may be reproduced by quoting the periodical POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Posted: Saturday 07 May 2016 | 08:43:03 pm. Updated: Friday 22 September 2017 | 12:03:16 am.
By Juana Carrasco Martín
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The electoral campaign in the United States is reaching its climax in the selection of candidates by the two big parties. It’s a system that hides behind the spectacle their supposedly being defenders of the same interest, that of big capital, of the world of finance, of the arms industry, of the polluting sectors of the earth’s climate, of the exploiters of the workers of the courtyard and of the wealth and goods produced by professionals, workers and peasants in a good part of the world, where the transnationals of the empire plunder and intervene.
However, made invisible by the media that are part of the show, there are small parties, not infrequently persecuted, ignored, and excluded, that take the real interests of the working people to the streets and to the ballot boxes where it is possible to reach these workers.
A woman, small in her physique, with an easy smile, and simple words, convincing and firm, is the bearer of that other face, which is not exactly of the same coin. On the contrary, she reveals and denounces what actually happens in the United States this 2016.
Alyson Kennedy is a presidential candidate for the Socialist Worker Party (SWP), on whose ticked she is accompanied by Osborne Hart, a decision announced last February 12.
She doesn’t do it from the outside, nor from the theory of class struggle. Today, Alyson Kennedy is a Chicago worker in the textile garment industry at Walmart, the world’s largest chain of retail stores, denounced in many countries for the exploitative conditions to which it subjects its workers and employees.
“That’s why I, as a candidate for the Socialist Workers Party, and my running mate, Osborne Hart, and the other candidates for the Senate and other positions have been getting a good reception among the workers, because we are open to discussing a revolutionary perspective,” she says.
“The workers know that they are being exploited, they know what is happening in the country and in the world,” says Alyson Kennedy, who points out that one of the aspects on which they give their views in this electoral campaign is to oppose U.S. participation in the Middle East. “And many workers are also open to hearing about the Cuban Revolution,” he adds.
She mentioned Cuba, what motivated her presence in our country, coinciding with the May Day celebrations?
I came to Cuba as part of a delegation of women workers who are fighting against police brutality, of which I have also been a victim, in the city where I live, Chicago.
“This is my first time in Cuba, although I know a lot about the island, my party does educational work on Cuba and for many years we fought for the freedom of the Five and we do educational work on the need to end the embargo (blockade).
“In spite of the short time I have been here I have been able to see the country concretely, and that will help me a lot to be able to explain to the workers there why Cuba is an example for us. If Cuba was able to create a Revolution and create a society that addresses the needs of the workers, we can do it in the United States as well,” emphasizes the socialist leader.
The reasons for seeing this possibility clearly and surely explains it: “We have a history of struggle also in the United States. The workers of the United States must become aware of what they have achieved through the struggle. We must realize the power we have and our own worth.
She closes her words to the readers of Juventud Rebelde with this committment:
“I want you to know, that we are back to redouble our efforts in the fight against the blockade, for the return of the occupied territory in Guantánamo, which is Cuban, and having been here helps us to realize why it is necessary to continue in the battle for our rights.
Printed version in Spanish:
PDF of the original also available
By Ana María Domínguez Cruz
Yuniel Labacena Romero
Posted: Saturday 20 October 2018 | 10:04:22 pm.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
So, I don’t agree with Article 68.
Aren’t we in the 21st Century?
Or are we still stuck in the 19th Century?
Love. That is the fundamental reason why two people decide to unite their lives and the basis on which, if they wish, they form a family. Legalizing this union or not is not the most important thing, some think, and jurists insist on the need to value marriage as a legal institution, guarantor of rights for those involved.
Cuba proposes in its Draft Constitution, specifically in article 68, that marriage is the voluntarily agreed upon union between two persons with the legal capacity to do so, in order to make a life in common…, which gives way to the possibility of equal marriage, and it is logical that controversy is awakened in the debates.
As Homero Acosta Álvarez, Secretary of the Council of State, recently pointed out at, the inauguration of the International Congress of Lawyers 2018, today’s draft was confronted with the choice of maintaining the concept of marriage as constitutional (a content barely regulated in the constitutions) or moving away from that and leaving its [further] development to the law.
“It was decided to maintain this configuration and to assume the challenge of the new concept, knowing that its inclusion could generate disagreements, due to cultural reasons, prejudices and stereotyped visions, these are not transformed overnight,” said the member of the Commission responsible for constitutional reform.
“If the Constitution proclaims broad recognition of the right to equality, why should it limit people of different sexual orientations from getting married? It will have to follow this concept anchored in visions already overcome by time or it will have to be modified and recognized as a right, as is gradually happening at the planetary level.
“The positions in front of this regulation are those who prefer to maintain the concept of the current Constitution; those who favor the current proposal in the Project; those who accept the civil recognition of de facto couples and not marriage. There are others who agree, but limit the right to adoption and, finally, some advocate the concept of “two or more persons”. In short, a diversity of criteria that have to be evaluated like others with the rigor and depth that is required,” he said.
A wonderful way to start thinking
Lilian, divorced and with two children, also agreed with the ideas explained by the Secretary of the Council of State. She thinks this variation of the concept of marriage is a wonderful way to begin to think. “Each person has the absolute freedom to love another and the most important thing is that affection takes precedence in that relationship. If it is a couple of the same sex, love is still the most important thing. And if now there is the possibility that the legal protection of their rights is guaranteed, it’s better.
She refers at this point to the fact that there are still those who believe that homosexuality is a disease, synonymous with promiscuity, brazenness and few moral values. “We are happy to the extent that we can live fully, without hypocrisy and without maintaining appearances. This is a step forward from the social and the cultural. We have to recognize love, and I see it as just,” she says.
For his part, Mario Román -who has lived with René Miguel for four years- values positively that these guarantees are believed, even when they aren’t interested in getting married. “Relationships have the same value. The same rights must be guaranteed for everyone, and marriage is that necessary justice when one of the two is missing, the other has legal protection. Cuba has always fought for equality and we cannot allow people’s sexual orientation to be a cause for discrimination,” he says.
Marta Emilia still remembers with sadness what happened in her neighborhood when Angel died. “We all knew that Victor was his partner for more than 15 years and that Angel’s family always turned their back on him because of his choice. Not even when he was hospitalized did anyone come, much less when Victor spent more than a year taking care of him at home. But when Angel died, nephews and cousins showed up to take the house and Victor was left homeless. That was wrong and I hope those stories won’t happen again.
According to Rafael, another interviewee, “our society is not prepared for this modification of the concept of marriage. Therefore, we must defend the ”original design of the family” and what the current Constitution states,” he says. “We have to think about the new generation, when they see two men or two women holding hands, in the street or kissing. That was always frowned upon and I still see it the same way,” he says.
From the poll carried out by this newspaper and from the comments left on our web edition, other criteria also emerge against it: the negative effects on the birth rate, the transformation of the traditional family model, the problem of adoption and the world’s own cosmovision. While these reasons are used in disagreement with what is stipulated in article 68, others believe that it is not possible to try to prohibit a decision of a personal nature.
Katia, married for the second time, says that the myth that having a child in a homoparental home will lead to homosexuality must be banished. “Those who today have relations with people of the same sex did not learn it in their homes, where they lived with their father and mother. Besides, that’s not the issue the constitutional reform is talking about; there’s no need to mix things up,” she says.
And Felicia says our society has yet to go through the necessary transformations in its thinking. “Even in the treatment of men towards women we lack much. It’s enough to listen to some flirtations compliments that become offensive. Tolerance is not the concept, but acceptance and respect for coexistence among all.
Julio César González Pagés, who holds a doctorate in historical sciences, recognizes that, one hundred years after the approval of the Divorce Law in Cuba, which was very controversial, it is magnificent that this good news arrives. “The country is placed in a position of advancement, because it is something that is closely related to human rights. On a global level, very few countries have endorsed this in their Constitutions, which is why Cuba would be among the few that grant that right.
“First and foremost, the concept of respect for the equal rights of all must prevail. It is not a question of imposing oneself, but of dialoguing among all and contributing to a full education among citizens. It is praiseworthy that, in a nation where homophobic thought was deep-rooted, it now there is a determination that this does not happen again and that we are seeing ourselves as an inclusive society.
“It is also important to stress that this is not just a right for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, but for everyone, because it is the respect that we have for all rights. It is not a question of all people rushing out to get married, because many, homosexual or heterosexual, are not interested in formalizing their relationship in this way at this time, but the existence of the right is the essential thing”, he points out.
The modification reflected in article 68 – which departs from heteronormativity and machismo – is in line with the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social model of socialist development. This defines as principles that sustain the model and its main transformations respect for diversity and confronting all forms of discrimination due to skin color, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.
It is praiseworthy that in a nation where there was a deep-rooted homophobic thought, it is now demonstrated that there is a will that this not happen again and that we are seen as an inclusive society.
It is also due to a culture of rights and social justice that the Cuban Revolution has promoted. It has has won for its citizens what in many nations are unthinkable guarantees, such as safe, legal and free abortion; equal pay for equal work for women and men; maternity and paternity leave; family planning services; sex education in school…
But there are more elements. In the words of the advisor of the Ibero-American and African Network of Masculinities, this is related “to the policy carried out by the country from the campaigns carried out against homophobia and transphobia. Legislation shows that educational and awareness-raising campaigns in respect to free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity work if there is the political will of the country and the movement of people.
González Pagés warns that there is lots of opposition from groups of people who only see the couple as a means for reproduction or who only accept the family scheme of decades ago, made up of mother, father and children. “They do not understand that the family today includes grandparents, uncles, single mothers, among other archetypes, and that the legalization of a union does not necessarily entail having children.
“This process must not lead to aggressions, offenses or impositions. All processes have people in favor and others in disagreement, which are also included. But in the end, the logic of an educated, educated, highly literate country will mean reason will prevail, as has happened with other laws.
“The new rights of the 21st century cannot frighten us. We are not a backward-looking country because part of the population disagrees, on the contrary. The difference exists and what it is about is to argue, to convince, to dialogue and in no case to impose by force”.
The specialist recalls that Cuba has always been an advanced country, with controversies and confrontations regarding many issues, such as racial and gender discrimination. “Every movement generates these reactions and you have to be prepared for that. Some believe the birth rate will fall in the country because they think this is a process of proselytism in favor of marriage between people of the same sex, but that’s a mistake, it is not so.
“It is a question of legalizing unions that already exist, and so that people do not feel unprotected,” warns the specialist, who assures us that he is proud that “our Draft Constitution is advanced and revolutionary, among other reasons for making this modification. It shows we have a society with all and for the good of all, as is embodied in the Preamble to the Draft Constitution.”
According to the study Deconstructing Myths about Same-Gender Couples from the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), the scarce work carried out in the country denotes the existence of similar characteristics among families made up of heterosexuals and homosexuals (commitment, capacity to resolve conflicts, distribution of roles and functions, shared feelings and intimacy, among other indicators).
The criteria shared by the interviewees with whom this newspaper spoke, as well as article 68, are in line with other postulates of the Draft Constitution, particularly article 40. It states that “all persons are equal before the law, are subject to equal duties, receive the same protection and treatment from the authorities and enjoy the same rights, freedoms and opportunities, without any discrimination for reasons of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic origin, skin color, religious belief, disability, national origin or any other distinction injurious to human dignity”.
Perhaps for this reason, Gina, who has been together with Dania for three years, will not rush to a law firm to legalize her union. “We are not interested in getting married, but it is a right, a protection, an option for those who need it in their life history; and that our Constitution, like others in the world, includes it, has great value”.
Another of the interviewees tells us: “The stigmata and social schemes must crumble, because the treatment between people is sometimes hostile, unjustly. It is not necessary to hide if you love someone and acting cleanly is what favors peaceful coexistence. When ten years pass, we will be able to analyze what has happened on the island and if the taboo persists, but legally recognizing what already exists is a step forward.
Law cannot remain a perpetual slave of social backwardness, even though at some point it may collide with part of the social spectrum. In its transforming mission, it is also responsible for promoting development.
In this sense, Olga Mesa Castillo, Doctor of Juridical Sciences, titular professor and consultant to the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, remembers that since the promulgation, in 1975, of the Family Code as an independent legal text of the Civil Code, our country was ahead in regulating institutions such as that of civil marriage. We did so in a liberating manner, stripping it of the requirement of physical-sexual capacity; of divorce for just cause, and without guilt; and with a special regulation on de facto union, equating it with civil marriage.
Furthermore, the President of the Cuban Society of Civil and Family Law, of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, comments that the protection of concubinage was also introduced, and the country was a pioneer in including in its 1940 Constitution the equalization of de facto union with civil marriage.
“Marriage in Cuba today is a voluntary union, without a contractual, legal or business sense, and is not exempt from duties and rights. It is legislated that upon the death of one of the members of the couple, the one who survives is protected by law for the enjoyment of some economic or material benefits,” he says.
The National Law Prize winner regrets that, in a general sense, the population has not worried about knowing about legality and worse still, that many have decided to live outside it, not only concerning marriage but also paternity.
“Marriage means that you are fortunate enough to have a person in your life who also protects you from a material point of view. As a consensual union, there are already same-sex couples who live together and if they want to formalize it before the law, I see no problem in that. On the contrary, problems arise if you want to resort to the law when there is no remedy.
The incorporation of a broader concept of marriage is only the first step on the road to the approval of a new Constitution that will ensure greater legal guarantees for the specific LGBTI population. As Mariela Castro Espín, director of Cenesex, has warned, article 68 is not about taking away the rights of heterosexual couples, but about giving them to those who had been denied them.
Homero Acosta Álvarez recalled: “This is not the first time we have faced these challenges. Let us remember in history the conflicts to recognize women’s right to vote or the establishment of divorce or, in our case, to incorporate the equality of rights between men and women and the equal responsibility of spouses, according to our Family Code.
“In our opinion, Law cannot remain a perpetual slave of social backwardness, even though at some point it may collide with part of the social spectrum. In its transforming mission, it must also promote development,” he said.