In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The fact that I am writing these lines hours before the 2022 Oscar ceremony forces us to establish that it would be a surprise if The Power of the Dog does not win the statuette for Best Picture, and others, considering the 12 nominations received.
It is already known that the Oscars have been an artistic-commercial construction dominated for years by the weight of the big industry, and by a scale of classic values typical of the cinema made in Hollywood, always with an eye on the weight of the box office.
Good films can be made, but when it comes to aspiring to the Oscars, do not expect marked aesthetic breakthroughs or proposals that subvert the established order “too much”.
However, along with this more of the same that tries to disguise itself as a renovator in the heat of the new times (Argo, Oscar 2013, Ben Affleck), there have been artistic contributions that have given prestige to the award, such as Roma (2018, Alfonso Cuarón), which before arriving at the Oscar ceremony dragged a trail of impressive international awards and recognitions, as has happened with The Power of the Dog, which again placed the New Zealander Jane Campion (The Piano) in stellar shots.
Considering that last year the coveted Oscar for Best Picture was won by the excellent Nomadland, by Chloé Zhao, a Chinese filmmaker living in Los Angeles, and now critics, audiences and festivals were pointing to Campion as the big favorite, one wonders what is happening in an industry traditionally dominated by men and their misogyny.
It is true that Zhao’s and Campion’s films, although released under the aegis of Netflix and involved in Oscar’s gear, are not representative products of classic Hollywood, but a review of the numbers suggests that, almost a century after command and control, and after resounding criticism of racism, sexism and other unworthy manipulations, the American Academy admits, with its actions, that it had been making a mistake in terms of equality and inclusive opportunities.
The statistics prove it: in 2011, only 5% of the films made in Hollywood were by female directors. In 2018, the figure reached 8%; in 2020, 20%; and in 2021, 17 %.
The percentage of female directors tripled in 15 years, but essentially with the prominence of white women, as there is hardly any room for minorities, while Black female directors do not exceed 2%, according to reports from the University of Southern California. The report speaks of the progressive, though still insufficient, changes in mentality on the part of the big Hollywood studios and the role of streaming platforms, more inclined to support that developing equality.
Asked by The Hollywood Reporter to what she attributed the transformations of recent years, Jane Campion said she gave credit “to the brave women who really blew the lid off Hollywood with their revelations about abuse and inequality. I think there’s been a lot of rethinking and a very active determination on the part of men and women to see that change.”
The Me Too movement started virally on social media in October 2017, feminism in general, LGBTI issues, and the campaigns for equality present in the international arena have been instrumental in gradually shaking off the old cobwebs that for decades marginalized women in Hollywood.
Other cinematographies have not escaped the influence of women, including screenwriters, actresses, photographers and technicians, who have been reiterating with their performances that talent has no gender.
An old struggle in full swing in which the veteran Jane Campion returns with The Power of the Dog, a western shot in New Zealand -which we will talk about later-, to demonstrate that, in the house of the spinning top, it can be a foreign director who dances best.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Human migrations date back to time immemorial. So much so that many theories suggest that, thanks to them, it was possible to populate different regions of the planet.
Although the reasons for migrating are diverse, they are generally due to the search for better living conditions. That is why wars, extreme poverty or the complexity of the economic, individual or social environment are triggers for this phenomenon.
Although there are global efforts to promote legal and orderly migration, and to recognize and respect the guarantees and rights of those who make this decision, regardless of their legal status, we are still far from achieving this.
There is no consensus on this issue and, therefore, irregular and disorderly migration is today a latent problem whose solution is not yet on the horizon.
CUBA, AN EXCEPTIONAL CASE?
In view of the right of people to migrate, our country has gradually managed to put in order the legislation in force. Cubans can travel anywhere in the world, if they comply, logically, with the regulations established by other nations.
But what makes Cuba an exceptional case in terms of immigration? The answer is well known. For decades, in their eagerness to destabilize the revolutionary process, to build the myth of its “inefficiency” in terms of the standard of living offered to the people, and to create before the world the idea that this is a country in decline, successive U.S. governments have hindered the legal channels for the emigration of Cubans to that nation.
On the other hand, they promote special regulations for those born on the Island, thus stimulating both the illegal departure of Cubans and their attempt to reach that nation by means of the dangerous routes that involve several countries of the continent.
The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, during the mandate of Barack Obama, and the reopening of its Embassy in Havana, gave a certain change of color to the matter, even though the agreed number of visas was never reached. However, Donald Trump’s administration reversed everything that had been achieved, and went so far as to suspend consular services and force Cubans to travel to other countries to apply for their visas.
His successor, Joe Biden, has maintained the line of action regarding Cuba, and although he recently announced that certain procedures at the Embassy would be resumed, it does not seem that things will change much.
Such circumstances, together with the economic difficulties generated by the terrible pandemic-blockade duet, stimulated the departure from the country of thousands of Cubans who, although they leave the archipelago legally, once in the stopover country, become illegal migrants in order to reach the USA at the mercy of extortion and extortion.
AT THE MERCY OF EXTORTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, Cuba has been a pillar in the fight to eradicate human trafficking. It is a crime severely punished in the largest of the Antilles, while in much of the world it is still a very profitable business and, of course, irregular migrants immediately become a highly vulnerable group.
Although it is sad to admit it, in our continent operate dissimilar networks dedicated to the trafficking of human beings. Perhaps the best known figures within this dark web are the so-called coyotes, whose function is basically to outwit or bribe the authorities, and drive migrants through border crossings.
These groups, outside of any law, move exclusively for monetary interests, without any commitment to the people they drive. Therefore, if they get lost, they are capable of abandoning, handing over and, in the worst case, but no less frequent, murdering their companions.
Therefore, once the illegal transit route begins, these are the people in whose hands our nationals find themselves. Have Cubans been swindled, intimidated, suffered from rape to other physical aggressions, have been threatened and some have been murdered? Yes. That is the risk they run, and it is, many times, the high price they pay.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?
It is incredible how the obsession to “leave” robs people of their common sense. Logically, a journey of this magnitude needs economic support, since it begins with the request for the necessary documentation, the purchase of the ticket and then, of course, the payment to those who guide the transit.
To pay for the project, there are those who sell everything and get rid of practically all their belongings, often at lower prices, to save time. Since there is no certainty of completing the trip, many have found themselves in the difficult situation of returning and having literally nothing.
On the other hand, faced with the impossibility of legally reclaiming their relatives, Cubans living abroad assume the cost of a trip that is, by all accounts, uncertain.
The amount of money, in turn, determines the conditions of the journey. Therefore, some have better guarantees of transportation, food, even lodging, while others must face, for example, the real possibility of being swallowed up by the Darien jungle in Panama.
The truth is that, whatever the amount, I don’t think it will ever pay the value of life.
CUBA IS ALWAYS IN THE HEADLINES
The migratory issue does not escape the constant media attack to which our country is subjected. That is the reason why, although thousands of Latin Americans undertake the same journey every day, they do not grab the headlines that Cubans do.
As it is to be expected, none of those headlines begins by saying, for example: “Unilateral measures of the United States incite illegal migration of Cubans”. Of course not.
The most common, sensationalist and malicious ones are focused in ways such as: “Cubans flee desperate for the prevailing situation on the Island”, or “Cubans prefer to be swallowed by the Darien before continuing to live in their country”.
This serves to understand that nothing escapes manipulation when it comes to our country, and that always, whatever the causes of a problem may be, blaming the socialist system or the Revolutionary Government will be the preferred hypothesis.
TO EMIGRATE OR NOT TO EMIGRATE?
It would be naïve and false to deny that Cuba is living today a complex situation. Undoubtedly, the necessary battle against the pandemic, aggravated by such a criminal policy as the blockade, prevented the achievement of objectives aimed at giving a new breath of fresh air to the Cuban economy.
However, it is very unfair to say that this has happened because of the government’s inability or lack of political will and efforts to move forward. It is also uncertain that there is a critical situation in Cuba, to such an extent that it forces its citizens to flee, in the same way as those who flee, for example, from a war.
Inflation, yes, price speculation, shortages, all this is real, as is the fact that basic services essential for the people were never stopped, that the standard family basket of goods was never not distributed fairly, that no hospital was closed, that there were no massive layoffs, that the private sector was protected from the bankruptcy of its businesses, that it has been vaccinated, at no cost to the people.
The decision to leave, even at the risk of one’s life, is an individual one, it is up to the free will of each person. Everyone has their own reasons and no one intends to question them.
It is worth mentioning that this Island does not close its doors to its children; therefore, those who decide to return may do so.
Some have told their story. Others will never have the courage to narrate their experiences, and those who arrive will rarely talk about the dark side of their journey.
On top of all that, there is a reality. Sometimes, what seems little to some can be the greatest of riches to others. Some pursue the American dream, while, for the vast majority, Cuba is the greatest of dreams.
THE U.S. IS IN BREACH OF ITS LEGAL OBLIGATION. The US fails to comply with its legal obligation to grant no less than 20,000 visas annually, imposes the burden of the brutal economic blockade and pressures governments in the region to demand transit visas for Cuban migrants and travelers.
The Cuban side has repeatedly warned the U.S. government of its responsibility – which it has unilaterally and unjustifiably failed to fulfill since 2017 – to facilitate regular, safe and orderly emigration.
The United States has been pressuring governments in the region for weeks to take measures against the Cuban traveler, in a cynical effort to close the doors to the emigration it has encouraged for decades.
In its eagerness to use the Cuban population as a “hostage of its hegemonic ambition”, the U.S. violates the human rights of our citizens and maintains a destabilizing policy against Cuba that violates International Law.
SOURCE: Twitter of Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Obesity, with accelerated growth in the last decades, has come to be considered the pandemic of the 21st century.
According to the website of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (Minsap), this condition has tripled its figures since 1975.
The United Nations (UN) warned this Friday, on World Obesity Day against this disease, that in the year 2025 some 167 million people will be in poorer health due to overweight or obesity, which affects more than 1 billion people.
According to a press release from the organization, this disease affects 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children.
On the other hand, it is estimated that at least three out of every ten children and adolescents, between five and 19 years of age, live with overweight in Latin America and the Caribbean, adds Minsap.
In 2020, UNICEF, the WHO and the World Bank estimated that 7.5% of children under five years of age in the region were overweight, which represents nearly 4 million children. This figure exceeds the world average percentage, which is 5.7%, emphasized the Cuban Ministry’s publication.
The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the problem with limited access to healthy food and lower purchasing power.
In Cuba, malnutrition and being underweight are not a health problem in the child population. However, overweight and obesity have been on the rise, according to isolated studies in children, as well as in adolescents and adults, according to Minsap.
These results demonstrated their association with the increase of different chronic non-communicable diseases such as arterial hypertension, ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus and certain types of cancer, among others.
According to the results of the National Health Survey Cuba 2020, 20% of the total population under 15 years of age is overweight, although by region, a lower proportion is apparently observed in rural areas. A similar behavior appears in the levels of obesity found, with a total prevalence of almost 20 %.
However, there is a trend towards greater overweight in adolescence, which could be explained by the pubertal changes that are beginning to occur. The higher figures of obesity in the youngest children constitute a warning of possible complications.
Minsap adds that in general, with respect to data from other studies carried out in our country, overweight and obesity have increased in the child population.
The negative effects caused by the increase in obesity worldwide are exported from one country to another, even reducing their economic productivity. Therefore, it is necessary to develop intervention policies that work to reverse this pandemic, the publication emphasizes.
As a journalist, there were several occasions when I visited groups of Ukrainian children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Tarará, a beach east of Havana.
Fidel had conceived a program of medical care and rehabilitation for those victims of exposure to radiation from the accident nuclear plant. Almost all of them were Ukrainians, and some Russians and Belarusians.
I was also able to witness the admiration and gratitude to Fidel from the families of those children, whom the Commander-in-Chief visited on several occasions, after having received the first group on the steps of the plane that took them to our country. He signed his olive green cap and gave it as a gift to a Ukrainian girl, he inquired with doctors and directors about the whole program of attention to the minors, their most common pathologies and about their evolution during their stay on the island.
Thousands of Cubans were involved in the program, and more than 25,457 people, including 21,378 children, received specialized medical care.
Our country placed its health institutions at their service, and more than 300 children were treated for hematological diseases, mainly leukemia, 136 for different tumors, and 14 complex heart surgeries, two kidney transplants, six bone marrow transplants, among many other treatments, were performed.
Everything was done free of charge, as an expression of love and solidarity, attributes that contrast with those who today send thousands of tons of weapons to Ukraine, a country that has become hostage to the hegemonic policy of the u.s. and nato, to confront Russia.
On April 2, 2010, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Program for the care of children affected by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in a ceremony in Havana, the former Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, recognized Fidel as the greatest inspirer of a human work that meant the care of these Ukrainian minors.
On the occasion, Kuchma announced the awarding to Fidel of the Order of Merit of the First Degree, and to then-President Raúl Castro, the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, of the First Degree.
He awarded distinctions to doctors, diplomats and collaborators who contributed to the successful achievement of that program, all in order to save the lives of children and young people, those who will forever carry in their hearts the indelible mark of the friendship between the peoples of Ukraine and Cuba.
Today, when that country is going through difficult times in a war provoked by the United States and NATO, we remember those moments of tears and joy of children who came with their families from that distant country, to whom Cuba gave part of what it had to save their lives.
We remember those Ukrainians at moments like today, and together with them, we ask for the war to end and for that country to join the international community without warlike aspirations and with a neutral character that should not change, no matter how much the promoters of hatred and confrontation, that is, the U.S. government and nato, want to take it down the wrong path, as a hostage of their expansionist policies.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. announced that it has begun sending remittances to Cuba, although it has taken special precautions with respect to the United States and ” the complexities surrounding this specific market.”
According to the company’s website, in November 2021 they communicated with the U.S. Treasury Department explaining the uniqueness of their remittance mechanism and received a formal written response on December 1, 2021, that considers their activity “within the scope of permitted transactions.”
They further detail that the possibility of sending remittances to Cuba is already available through RevoluSEND and partners including coordinations from the RevoluGROUP USA Inc. subsidiary based in Miami, FL.
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos F. de Cossio noted on his Twitter account, “So the U.S. banned remittances via Western Union to Cuba, which charged about $5 per 100 sent, to apparently authorize formulas that charge the sender up to $30 per 100.”
As part of the information to validate the Cuban market, RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. indicates that Cubans in the United States comprise nearly 2.7 million people who were born in Cuba or are descendants, according to U.S. Census Bureau tabulations.
Other significant populations of Cubans around the world are in Spain (141,400), Italy (37 300), Canada (19,000), Germany (13,400) and Mexico (12,900), according to mid-2019 United Nations Population Division estimates cited by the company.
They do not ignore, as part of their statement, that Western Union’s service – which previously handled about 30% of the market – was suspended in November 2020 and that, as a consequence of US policy towards the island, it is no longer possible to send remittances to Cuba with the main US providers.
What it does not say is that the official and safest ways for sending remittances from the United States by those who cannot travel frequently to Cuba to support their loved ones with money or do not wish to use third parties to help their relatives have been closed.
In the midst of the crisis aggravated by COVID-19 and the tightened blockade itself, the United States directly affected the Cuban family first, in 2019, when the U.S. administration set a quarterly limit on remittances of one thousand dollars per beneficiary; and then in 2020 when Western Union suspended operations to Cuba from 42 countries.
In June of that year, the U.S. added Fincimex to the State Department’s list of Restricted Cuban Entities; and finally, at the end of 2020, they suspended remittances from the U.S. to Cuba through institutional financial channels.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
These are not mere assessments to blame the US government for what is currently happening in Ukraine, but there are statements that very lightly limit themselves to “it was Russia who attacked Ukraine”.
It is necessary to go to safe sources, committed to peace, and go back to the history of U.S. wars, aggressions, bombings and other actions in the international arena.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, warned: “We must never forget who is the real threat to the world”. And he explained: “of the 248 armed conflicts that took place between 1945 and 2001 in 153 regions of the world, 201 were initiated by the US, accounting for 81% of the total”.
I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt as to who is really responsible for what is happening in Ukraine today. Washington’s destabilizing attempts to impose its hegemony are directed towards Russia.
Now, this justification –in the current case– has the ingredient that the Yankee power itself has made the European Union as an entity, as well as several of its main leaders, into spokespersons in favor of what the empire says and does.
What sense does it make for a continent -the European continent-, fiercely punished by two world wars that left millions of its children dead, wounded and mutilated, and entire cities destroyed, to ally itself again with those who were the first and only ones in the world to use the nuclear bomb, or who more recently and without consulting anyone, bombed Yugoslavia, a nation of that region?
Why not devote all the political forces in Europe to demanding withdrawal of all U.S. nuclear weapons, or the dozens of military bases installed on its territory and its hundreds of thousands of soldiers?
What other country in the world has an endorsement as questioned as that of the United States? What other power has hundreds of military bases scattered around the globe?
There was not supposed to be war in Ukraine, but unfortunately, there is. Therefore, all the strength and resources of the world should be directed to bringing the confrontation to an end as soon as possible. Let no more Ukrainians, Russians or other nationalities continue to die. Let only Russia and Ukraine seek the best way to live as neighbors: in peace and mutual respect.
A neutral Ukraine, where all its inhabitants, whether Russians or Ukrainians, live together in harmony and tranquility, united in the common desire to build an inclusive and prosperous country.
But militarizing Ukraine or encouraging it to join NATO is, above all, an historical irresponsibility with unpredictable consequences.
In this regard, the Russian Foreign Ministry has pointed out that financing Ukraine and supporting it militarily goes against the principles and agreements signed by the European Union.
It lists, among others, the fact that Kyiv ignores its obligations under the Minsk agreements, endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2202. Also the violation of human rights, with the use of weapons provided by the West for the ongoing repression in Donbas.
Russia warns about the risks of an escalation of the conflict due to the delivery of more weapons, which, in addition, threatens regional security and stability. It also points out the danger of deliveries of these war devices falling into the wrong hands, including those of terrorist organizations, given the uncontrolled distribution to the Ukrainian population.
Finally, Russia recalls that Ukraine’s economy is suffering as a result of the armed conflict.
By Max Lesnik
March 01, 2022
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
We can learn from history and thus avoid repeating past mistakes by seeking to replicate the successes only.
The crisis between Russia and Ukraine that has led to an open war between these neighboring countries, with the invasion of the territory of the latter by the former, leading to a very serious situation that could lead to a disastrous nuclear catastrophe for all mankind.
How was the so-called “October Crisis”, which almost led to a nuclear holocaust between the United States and the now defunct Soviet Union, resolved in 1962?
Diplomacy and not arms resolved the dangerous conflict that almost turned the “Cold War” into a “Hot War” that would have turned the world into a planetary cemetery at that time.
Cuba, already harassed by the United States since the triumph of its Revolution, was threatened by the “Colossus of the North” with invasion of its territory in Imperial response to the courageous attitude of the small Caribbean island that dared to defend its independence and sovereignty at whatever price was necessary.
It was then that another world power, the Soviet Union, rival of the United States in the so-called “Cold War”, in an attitude of solidarity and with the acquiescence of the revolutionary government, installed rocket batteries with atomic capacity on Cuban soil in order to respond militarily to the United States, in the event of an American invasion of the rebellious Cuba.
The world was on the brink of atomic war. But dialogue and diplomacy prevailed. An exchange of messages and letters ensued between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ￼ and U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a dialogue that led to an honorable agreement between the conflicting parties .
The Soviets would withdraw the rockets which, according to Kennedy, because they were only a few miles from U.S. territory, threatened the security of his country. A solid and convincing argument.
In addition, Cuba would not be part of the so-called “Warsaw Pact”, a military alliance of the communist nations of Europe, equivalent to NATO, which unites militarily the United States with the nations of Western Europe.
In reciprocity, the United States would withdraw the atomic rockets they had in Turkey, which, because of their proximity to the territory of the Soviet Union, threatened the security of that nation. A solid argument that also convinces.
And most importantly. The United States accepted the commitment not to attack Cuba militarily. No invasion.
The so-called “Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact” saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.
In the current political-military crisis between Russia and Ukraine, the parties in conflict should seek a compromise to resolve their differences diplomatically, as was done during the October Crisis of 1962.
The Russians withdraw from Ukrainian territory and undertake not to invade neighboring Ukraine in the future. For its part, Ukraine renounces to be part of NATO and commits itself that in its territory, so close to Russia, atomic weapons that threaten Russian security will never be deployed. A solid argument that convinces.
This time Putin is in the role of Kennedy and Biden in that of Nikita Khrushchev.
I believe that Putin understands and would accept this commitment to world peace.
Will President Biden understand it as President Kennedy understood it then?
To be or not to be. That is the question!
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
When on July 23, 2020, Harry Belafonte held in his hands the Friendship Medal, awarded by the Cuban State, he surely edited in his memory, as in good movies, unforgettable sequences of the many moments of his life in which he shared luck, convictions and destiny with the inhabitants of the archipelago.
On that day, the then-Havana ambassador in Washington, José R. Cabañas, said: “This distinction is a recognition of his trajectory of solidarity with Cuba and his respect and admiration for the Cuban revolutionary process”.
On the 95th birthday of the American actor, musician and social activist – who was born on March 1, 1927, in New York – Belafonte continues to be a source of inspiration for many of his compatriots and for those of us who value the exceptional artist, the extraordinary human being and the dear friend.
One name cannot be missing in the consolidation of such a special bond: Fidel Castro. The historical leader of the Revolution and the actor and singer, Martin Luther King Jr.’s companion in the struggle, cultivated a very close relationship, since Belafonte met Cuba again in 1979, so as not to lose the route to Havana in the future, as long as his health allowed him to do so.
Harry got to know the city in the 19’50s, not without first crossing words and experiences with many Cubans living in New York, and feeling an affinity towards the music of the neighboring country, especially after listening to Chano Pozo with Dizzy Gillespie’s band.
In those same years, more than because of his films, the song Matilda penetrated the musical imagination of the Cubans of the time, a song that dates back at least to the 1930s, when the pioneer of calypso, the Trinidadian King Radio (really called Norman Span) released the song. Belafonte first recorded it in 1953 and it became an immediate hit, reinforced by its inclusion on his second full-length album with RCA Victor in 1955.
In his memoirs, My Song, published in 2011, still unpublished in Cuba in its Spanish version, he recounted: “When I became an artist and began to have some celebrity I went to Cuba quite regularly, before 1959. I went there with Sammy Davis Jr. and to listen to Nat King Cole, and to hang out with Frank Sinatra; the place where we hung out the most was the Hotel Nacional. Everybody was performing there except me. When they came to me – and I had a work contract, when the Habana Riviera Hotel first opened – I was in an interracial marriage as it was called in those days and suddenly I became persona non grata, in Cuba, everywhere.”
Right around that time he performed in Robert Rossen’s film, Island in the Sun, in which he played a black union leader from a fictitious West Indian territory who lived a love story with a young white woman from the upper-middle class (Joan Fontaine). The film generated controversy when it was released in the United States in mid-1957, because of what the racist elites considered its irresponsible transgression. After the triumph of January 1959, Fidel, who in addition to being an insatiable reader was a cinephile to the extent that his political and governmental responsibilities allowed, saw the film and talked about it to Belafonte, in front of his wife Julie and friend and colleague Sydney Poitier. For both Fidel and Harry, racism and discrimination based on skin color were inadmissible and abhorrent social and cultural manifestations.
In this regard, he observed in his memoirs: “Many Cuban exiles say that in Cuba there was no racism before the Revolution, that Cuba was never racist, never like the United States. I think that Cuba, among all the Caribbean islands, all with racist practices, was the most racist (…). So, when I went to Cuba after the Revolution, the first thing I noticed was the mixture of people, particularly among young people, there were still residues of the old customs, but certainly among the young people, when I went to the University, and when I went to the places of culture, when I went to the daycare centers, wherever I went in Cuba among the young people, I was deeply impacted by the fullness of racial integration. (…) I am not suggesting that in Cuba there is not some racism, but it is important to know that it is not an official state practice, nor is it institutionalized.”
It was precisely the objective and subjective factors that favored the reproduction of racist and discriminatory attitudes in Cuban life and the struggle for their eradication as an inalienable part of the Cuban revolutionary project, which occupied the dialogue between Fidel and Belafonte more than once. The American friend has received news of the implementation in the last two years of the National Program against Racism and Racial Discrimination, a work platform of obvious Fidelista inspiration.
One invaluable contribution of Harry Belafonte to the dismantling of prejudices had to do with the vindication of hip-hop culture, and particularly rap, in the Cuban scene. On one of his trips at the end of the last century, he met black rappers who told him how they found it difficult to get recognition from cultural institutions, so they offered their art in the underground scene.
Years later, interviewed by the American activist Sandra Levinson, he confessed: “I tell you something that impressed me a lot: I lived the hip-hop culture of Cuban rappers. (…) I was surprised by how many there were and how uninformed the hierarchy in Cuban cultural circles was of the whole hip-hop music culture. After meeting hip-hop artists in Havana, I met with Abel Prieto at a luncheon hosted by Fidel Castro, and we got to talking about hip-hop culture. When I returned to Havana a couple of years later, people from the hip-hop community came to see me and we hung out. They thanked me effusively and I said, why, and they responded, because your conversation with Fidel and the Minister of Culture about hip-hop led to there being a special agency within the Ministry. (…) What I think is important is how open the leadership was to this phenomenon called hip-hop, while in the United States we do a lot to demonize the culture, and we don’t even have a Ministry of Culture.”
As a testament to his unwavering solidarity and sense of justice, it is worth recalling the words with which he introduced the rally held at the Church of Reconciliation in New York on September 27, 2003. On that day he prayed for the Five Cuban anti-terrorist heroes undergoing long sentences in the United States. He also stated: “What is happening with our policy against Cuba is not the American way, it is not the true voice of the American people, it is not the true voice of those of us who believe deeply, profoundly, in the rights of all peoples, and the freedom of all people and in democracy. (…) There is a lot about the Cuban government, the Cuban people and what they have achieved, that many of us here are still trying to achieve.”
Why his support for the Cuban people? “I don’t see it as a supreme effort -he has said-, it is a way of life: if you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, if you believe in people’s rights, if you believe in the harmony of all humanity”.
Fidel is Fidel, as Estela Bravo reflected: “Fidel is Fidel. Unique for his time, his presence in the world improved the lives of millions of people”.
The governments of Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela expressed their opposition to the policies of sanctions “in violation of international law” to which Russia has been subjected after it decided to intervene in Ukrainian territory to preserve the security of its borders in the face of the expansion of the North Atlantic Organization (NATO).
Ambassador Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, Cuba’s permanent representative to the United Nations, rejected the “hypocrisy and double standards” of the U.S. and NATO regarding Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and called for a careful assessment of the factors that led to the use of force.
In addition, the President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, declared, this Tuesday, during his morning speech to the media that, unlike the measures adopted by other states, his government will not impose any kind of sanctions on Russia after the military mission in Ukraine.
Likewise, the Venezuelan head of state, Nicolás Maduro, through a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, expressed his support to the Eurasian country regarding the situation around Ukraine, while stressing the importance of counteracting the campaign of lies and disinformation carried out by the West.
During the sixth day of this conflict, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmitry Kuleba, assured that his country is receiving from abroad an “endless flow” of arms, ammunition and fuel.
On the contrary, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, urged the West to reduce the flow of arms in order to avoid more violent events, and rejected the proliferation of US nuclear weapons in Europe, reported Telesur.
At the same time, he warned about the possibilities of Kiev renouncing its non-nuclear status, which threatens security guarantees, both regionally and globally.
In view of this complex international scenario, also marked by a policy of economic sanctions against the Eurasian nation, the Russian government announced the imposition of provisional restrictions on the outflow of foreign investors’ assets, “to guarantee the financial stability” of the country, reported Russia Today (RT).
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The territory of Ukraine is in an extremely dangerous situation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it, explaining that the military acts as terrorists because they install multiple rocket launchers in Kyiv and Kharkiv under the advice of foreign experts.
At this juncture, Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian military: “Do not allow neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists to use your children, wives and old people as human shields, to take power into their hands. It seems that it will be easier to come to an agreement with you than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who lodged in Kyiv and took the entire Ukrainian people hostage,” Russia Today quoted him as saying.
The head of state noted that the main fighting of the Russian Army is conducted, “not against regular units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but against nationalist formations, which, as is known, bear direct responsibility for the genocide in Donbass and the blood of civilian citizens of the people’s republics.”
He highlighted information that neo-Nazis are deploying heavy weapons in central areas of large cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv, to provoke return fire from the Russian military against residential neighborhoods. “They act in the same way as terrorists all over the world: they hide behind people in the hope of blaming Russia for casualties among the civilian population,” Putin said.
Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy to the Vatican to meet with the head of the diplomatic mission, Alexander Avdeev, to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The pontiff assured them that he is closely observing the development of events in Ukraine and expressed his concern about the escalation after the start of the military operation ordered on Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Likewise, the presidents of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, held a telephone conversation to discuss the Ukrainian crisis in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.
Xi stressed that he respects Russia’s actions in the crisis in the neighboring country and showed the coincidence of the positions of the two countries on the main issues of the international agenda, the Kremlin says in its statements.
Sanctions against Russia
The Council of Europe suspends Russia’s membership amid its military operation in Ukraine, a measure proposed by Poland and Ukraine that won the consensus of 42 of the committee’s 47 members.
Leaders of European Union countries agreed at an emergency summit to impose new economic sanctions against Moscow following the start of the military operation launched by Russia to defend Donbas.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that this second package of sanctions by the bloc will affect 70% of the banking market and Russia’s major state-owned enterprises, including those in the defense sector.
RT also highlighted the words of UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who warned that London will continue to take action until the Russian economy is impaired and the integrity of Ukrainian territory is restored. “We will not rest until the Russian economy has been degraded and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have been restored,” the head of British diplomacy said.
Sputnik also noted the measures taken by Poland, which closed its airspace to Russian aircraft, while Switzerland banned financial transactions with 363 Russian individuals and four legal entities.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO and the European Union of supporting Kiev in recent weeks, when it decided to seize by force the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, in order to destroy the Minsk agreements. “The West fully supports the Kyiv regime in its efforts to sabotage and in the end destroy the Minsk Agreements,” Sputnik quoted Sputnik as saying.
However, no country in the transatlantic alliance wants to get involved in a war with Russia, according to statements by French Defense Minister Florence Parly and reminded that the Eurasian nation is a nuclear power.