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 […]
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Nobody in the world doubts that a victory by Donald Trump in the US presidential election would mean a devastating blow to Americans who are struggling to save democracy and avoid a reversal and the country´s political shift to the right that would be even worse than the one caused by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The most politically-advanced sector of the citizenship of the United States fears, rightly, that the world’s only superpower is living through a crucial time when fascism is casting its ominous shadow.
Trump’s social base consists of an alliance between billionaires and snippets of the lower middle class, which already resulted in such other monstrosities as the Tea Party. Its greatest danger lies in his social base and will be there beyond the elections.
The class struggle opposing this alliance is concentrated, for now, in communities such as the immigrants, women and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and not in the working class, where it has a relatively low support.
But to slow the rise of the right and stop its xenophobic attacks, it is imperative that immigrants, the BLM movement, women and youth form an alliance to strengthen their ranks in the struggle against their oppression by US capitalism.
Trump has been called a megalomaniac, paranoid, a racist, xenophobic… But, in a speech on the third day of the Democratic National Convention, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg clearly questioned the sanity of the US Republican presidential candidate: “Does Donald Trump only say crazy things, or does he say crazy things because he actually is crazy?”
More importantly, the issue of Trump’s emotional stability has also been raised by a growing number of influential and highly-respected mental-health professionals. They have done so out of a sense of urgency, even in the face of a code of conduct promulgated by the American Psychiatric Association that cautions psychiatrists against making public statements about individuals whom they have not formally evaluated.
Political commentator William Blum, in his widely-read column published in progressive US media, warns that if Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, he could well be the most profoundly-disturbed occupant of the Oval Office since Richard Nixon, “whose extreme paranoia brought us Watergate and precipitated the most far-reaching constitutional crisis of the late 20th century.”
“Ordinarily, as someone licensed to practice law rather than psychology,” wrote Blum, “I’d stay out of the debate, and remain in my comfort zone of traditional legal and political commentary, committed to exposing the policy shortcomings of both major-party candidates and their surrogates.”
“But Donald Trump has secured the GOP nod for president. He’s one election away from being the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation the planet has ever seen. As such, he, like Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, deserves heightened scrutiny, both as to policy and personality.”
“Some readers, particularly on the progressive left, who by orientation are predisposed to policy critiques, may not be comfortable with my approach. Some may even ask if it isn’t a waste of time to examine the psyche of a president or a presidential hopeful, noting that even a paranoid Nixon agreed to end the Vietnam War and opened the door to normalized relations with China,” said Blum.
A consensus has emerged that Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) described as a “condition in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially-distressing ways. This limits their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their lives, such as work or school.”
According to Blum, Trump embodies –in the US electoral scenario– a society brutally-conditioned to accept a dictator in the future.
Trump embodies the US conservative feeling that sees in him the recovery of world power, undermined by Russia and Syria and commercially by China. It is a reality riding on a character who seeks power based on racial superiority.
If Trump made it –as a fascist incarnation—to be a presidential candidate, it is as a result of the extreme right’s work and their well-developed media power.
The political pendulum in the US has swung to extremes since Obama’s election. Everything has been radicalized and, as Blum points out, even if Trump loses the election, the country will have become further polarized.
August 9, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Religious tourism is part of the Caribbean culture, and is also good business. The local religions of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, from voodoo in Haiti to obeah in Jamaica and santería in Cuba, provide valuable cultural and historical information about the Caribbean. This type of tourism allows visitors to become acquainted with the main religious sites in the region that are also related to important historical events.” This is the recommendation of a paper published by the Italian magazine TTC Caribbean dedicated to the promotion of tourism to the region.
“The voodoo cult, born in Haiti, has for decades been a good theme for horror movies; but along with other Caribbean religious creeds, it has also become a real attraction for international tourism,” says the promotional article about tourism in the Caribbean Sea area.
In Bonaire –an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea– churches, mosques and synagogues provide a comprehensive service in Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish.
In Anguilla, a guide to “Places of Worship” was published with a list of churches of the predominant religious denominations, their addresses and schedules.
In the Dominican Republic there is the “Route of Faith” consisting of a journey or pilgrimage that stops at many monuments and sites of religious significance for Catholics. It includes a visit to Santo Domingo, the city that experienced the first evangelization in America. In addition, there is the “Holy Hill Sanctuary” where Christopher Columbus ordered the first Christian cross to be placed in America.sz
In eastern Cuba, there is the temple of Our Lady of Charity, also known as the Virgin of El Cobre or Our Lady Virgin of Charity in honor of the Virgin Mary, pontifically designated as the Patroness of Cuba.
The image of the virgin in Cuba is enshrined in the Basilica that is the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, built in 1926. The sanctuary is in the picturesque village of El Cobre, very near Santiago de Cuba.
On December 20, 1936, Pope Pius XI granted a canonical coronation of the image of the virgin which was found at sea in the 17th Century.
The Caribbean has also become a frequently visited site by tourists as a destination for weddings and other religious ceremonies.
The opinion of experts, says the TTC digital magazine, is that the Caribbean needs to constantly innovate the tourist offers. Religions have a crucial influence in the popular culture and are a major attraction, but they are not sufficiently exploited in the Caribbean.
The religious tourism sector is strongly rooted in Europe where it is estimated that more than fifteen million people enjoy some kind of tourism of this nature every yar. In Latin America, there are several specialized tourist agencies in this sector.
Generally, the main motivations for religious travel are visits to shrines and holy places, as well as pilgrimages, visits to the tombs of saints, attendance and participation in religious celebrations, visits to religious leaders, eucharistic congresses, holy years, etc.
Traditional African religions in the Caribbean and Brazil can greatly benefit tourism in the area, in the same way that religions have promoted the movement of people to remote sites since ancient times.
Religious tourism, says TTC, may be the main reason for travelling, but it can also be part of a holiday trip and provide additional attractions to a destination.
Such is the case, for example, of millions of non-Catholic persons who visit the Vatican each year.
All this makes religious tourism a thriving business. Two years ago, the annual value of religious travel around the world was estimated at 18 billion dollars, involving 300 million travelers.
Religious tourism, unlike all other segments of the tourist market, has faith as its fundamental motivation. At present, the holy cities that have historically been the destination of pilgrimages –Jerusalem, Mecca or Rome– continue to be important tourist landmarks. Perhaps the Caribbean region could also be one soon. Why not?
August 5, 2016.
By Fabián Escalante
June 7, 2016
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
These days, in the heat of the latest political developments in our country –the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States– many people are concerned, and rightly so, about the capabilities of the empire to destabilize our society from within. Thus, it seemed appropriate to clarify the concepts of psychological warfare and ideological struggle, because, by knowing them, we will be in a better position to face and overcome in the new battles that lie ahead.
The concept of “psychological warfare” began to take shape in the United States in the late 1940s of the last century, at the outset of what was called the “cold war”. It was precisely in 1951 that the term appeared for the first time in the US Army dictionary with the following definition:
“Psychological warfare is the set of actions undertaken by one or several nations through propaganda and other media against enemy, neutral or friendly groups of the population to influence their ideas, feelings, opinions and behaviors so that they come to support the policy and objectives of the nation or group of nations that this psychological warfare serves”.
Probably for this reason, one of the leaders of the “Cold War”, the legal representative of the well-known “United Fruit Company”, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State of that country in the fifties, expressed a little later:
“We have spent millions of dollars preparing for the war of weapons, but we have spent little in the war of ideas, and now suffer failures that cannot be compensated for with our military power.”
At the same time, the director of the US Information Agency (USIA) enriched the concept with the following idea:
“The simple introduction of doubt in people’s minds is already a great success.”
Psychological warfare is, therefore, a set of enemy actions that, using the mass media, seeks to influence groups of people or societies and to modify their feelings, opinions and behavior. Its purpose is to undermine and destabilize the country, organization or person targeted by the project. In other words, “psychological warfare” is the art of manipulation of social awareness. It is necessary to unmask and denounce it systematically, by all means at our disposal.
An example of what the enemy has accomplished by this means was the “custody law” of 1961. It was an act of psychological warfare in which the CIA and its allies at the time, using various means (propaganda, rumors, falsification of official documents, radio programs, etc.), were able to confuse and terrorize a sector of the Cuban population so that they would send their children to the United States. Consequently, more than 15,000 children were sent out of the country because their parents, terrified by the slanderous comments that were disseminated, believed that the revolutionary government would “re-educate” their children in the USSR and take away parental authority over them.
In all these years, Cuba has been a laboratory for these “cold warriors”. Among the actions in preparation for the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion, the CIA created a radio station, located in a key in Honduras, that was called Radio Swan. Its mission was to transmit –24 hours a day– manipulated news, rumors, smear campaigns and anything that could contribute to confuse Cubans in order to disarm them on the eve of the aggression. More recently the misnamed Radio and TV Marti replaced it with similar goals.
Millions of leaflets have washed up on our shores or have been dropped by air in pursuit of these goals; while in other countries experts, political scientists, lecturers and filmmakers have worked for the same purpose. It has been a war in every sense of the word, but without firing a single shot.
In the eighties, during the fierce and merciless war unleashed by the United States against Nicaragua, the US Central Intelligence Agency invented a “Manual of Operations for Psychological Warfare” to train their counterrevolutionary “guerrillas”. Among many other concepts, including political assassination, this manual declared that:
“Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war. That is why its areas of operations exceed the territorial limits of conventional wars to enter into the consciousness of man (….). Human beings must be considered the priority of political warfare, and conceived as the military target of guerrilla warfare. The most critical point in human beings is their mind. Once its mind has been reached, the political animal has been defeated, without necessarily being hit by bullets.”
Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in a political environment; in the constant struggle to dominate that area of political awareness that is inherent to every human being, and that collectively constitutes the “environment” in which guerrilla warfare operates. That is precisely where its success or failure is defined. This conception of guerrilla warfare as political warfare makes psychological operations the determining factor in the results. The target is then the minds of the people, of the entire population, our own forces, the enemy and the civilian population. “
This definition, that came thirty years after the first operations, explained the experience gathered by the services and specialized agencies of the United States in their actions against our peoples. Many “non-governmental” institutions (NGOs) have emerged in the public arena for such purposes. Among them, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), together with the arch-reactionary “Heritage Foundation” occupy a privileged place. They manufacture articles, campaigns, images of people and everything imaginable to achieve their aims: to confuse, deceive, divert. Moreover, in each US embassy a section –be it the CIA, the USIA or other specialized agency– is in charge of dealing with the mass media and media campaigns.
Every day in the capitalist press, or in other innovative means, (including the Internet), one can find news, discussions or opinion articles concerning political, social, labor or other conflicts with critical tones. With apparent neutrality they pass judgment on this or that situation, or the performance of a given political personality, or of any social sphere, with the covert intention of molding or creating a certain state of mind. So, day after day, information accumulates in our psyches that later become criteria, states of mind, adverse opinions and contradictions which are intended to act upon, modify or even change a given scenario. That is precisely what specialists have called “psychological warfare”. Its political and ideological aims are obvious.
While writing this, I recall images of that great US film Wag the Dog, with Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, in which a US president, troubled by the scandal caused by a love affair close to his re-election hires a Hollywood producer to fabricate a nonexistent war and produce heroes to divert the public’s attention. That is the purpose: to make believe, to win hearts and minds for something that simply doesn’t exist. Consequently, the aim of “psychological warfare” campaigns is to break down a society, discredit its leaders, institutions and vanguard organizations, sow doubt, distrust and politically subvert its target area, soften it, dismantle it and then take it over.
Today, new ways have been developed and since the collapse of the European socialist camp, so-called “soft coups” and “popular rebellions” emerged stimulated by external ideological centers to overthrow an existing government, with support from international media agencies of information. The use of factual powers has been added, as in the cases of Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil, or the campaigns of shortages and discredit in Venezuela, all of them aimed at eroding local and international public opinion in order to bring about the desired government change.
Thus, psychological warfare is essentially a premeditated, external action with an ideological purpose that combines clandestine and conventional methods. These can resort even in a political crime as was the case of the indigenous leader Berta Caceres, recently murdered in Honduras for her struggle in defense of the land of their ancestors. Ideological struggle is the battle of ideas to which Fidel called us; one that we must fight against all forms of “psychological warfare”, ideological penetration, or whatever name it takes. It is a concept that extends to all forms of thought, to every existing political, cultural, philosophical, economic and social current. It is the concept that sets the patterns of a given socioeconomic system and from which all actions in those areas derive.
The dissemination of socialist ideas, the study of Marxism-Leninism and, in our case, the profound study of Marti and Fidel, allows ideas to be expounded and examples to be contrasted. These allow us to persuade, discuss, propose and achieve a more just and equitable society. Revolutionary ideological activity cannot be schematic or dogmatic and must know what the central themes of psychological warfare are. These must be taken into account when planning ideological actions which, of course, pursue more comprehensive goals, since they expose the most advanced social ideas of our era. These actions will require the support of our media, political and mass organizations. These are indispensable channels for dialogue with the people in order to persuade and convince them of our truths and reasons.
In short, we must discuss, think and analyze more and use all possible spaces, which also include the study and research centers of the ideas of Marti and Che Guevara, as well as our military, cultural, political and economic thought. And we must especially delve into the political and social thinking of Fidel Castro, where we can find the most noble and solidarity causes undertaken by our people for more than half a century.
The press and audiovisual media, like all political and social organizations in the country, must play a fundamental role in this struggle through criticism, exposure of our realities and the mistakes that have been made. They must also reflect on the profound changes that the revolution has introduced in our society, which went from being an example of consumerism, to one of profound solidarity and internationalism. Those are our best values, which convince and persuade, the ones we need to face the new battles: the ones that are present in the daily lives of all Cubans.
Division General (ret.), former head of Cuban intelligence services. Author of several books on the intelligence services of the US against Cuba and has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the Cuban viewpoint.
By Karina Marrón, Chief of National Information, Granma daily
October 5, 2015, 8:58 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
These are comments by Karina Marrón, who heads the paper’s national editorial staff.
At barely 30 years of age, leading the national news staff of the country´s highest-circulation newspaper is no easy task. Karina Marrón, who is head of the national news staff of Granma newspaper, can tell us about it because every day she faces the enormous challenge of trying to bring a balanced Cuba to its pages.
“It is not easy to fit into just eight pages our nuances plus characters, events, news from all provinces, recognition and criticism,” she assures me. But Karina does not give up her desire to transform Cuban journalism for the better from her daily space.
On the occasion of Granma’s 50th anniversary, we spoke with Karina regarding changes necessary for Cuban press and the challenges, challenges and opportunities for Granma in present-day Cuba.
Q: When you came to lead Granma´s national news staff you already had a record in the newspaper Ahora! Now, how much change and continuity was there between what you were doing –thinking mainly of Holguin– and what you began to conceive for the national audience?
“I started with Granma in October 2013 and although work on Ahora! was certainly a great school –due to the quality of the professionals with whom I worked and the concepts of journalism that have become a tradition in that newspaper– Granma was quite different.”
“If we talk about continuity, I think I can mention two fundamental things: being the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party –each medium adjusted to its aim– and the need to address issues that matter to the population. The challenge of reconciling both, of delving into the issues that people care about and doing so with the social responsibility that comes from being the official voice of the Party, that’s something I saw as continuity, even though, as I said, the scope is different.”
“When I think about change, I must necessarily refer to daily editing. It is not even remotely similar to work in a weekly. This is because, in a daily journal, even when you strive to have a good online edition of your newspaper, in our minds the printed paper is still the main media. So, I had to adapt to a different pace of work, different conceptions of space; to think about a country and not just one province, different relationships with information sources, and new styles of work.”
“In essence the job remains the same, because the work of any news media, even the smallest, implies preparing yourself to inform correctly, implies sacrificing to investigate and to finding the best way to say things. The big difference is the impact and what can be achieved through a media like Granma.“
Q: What was your relationship with the daily Granma before you joined it? The Granma that you used to read and the one which you are now part of; how much has the image of that paper changed in your mind?
“Honestly, I think I was pretty severe. As a reader and as a journalist I was full of dissatisfaction with what I read, and had many ideas about how it should be. I think I’m not alone in that. I think every person who reads Granma is like I used to be. This is because for those who read us –whether in print, in Granma International or on the Web– the battles fought internally every day to get the newspaper out are invisible and all that matters is the result.”
“People expect more and more of this newspaper; and that’s fine, because it means that people are still confident that we can meet their expectations. The issue, the challenge, is not to leave them wanting, not to fall too short of what people are expecting.”
“Now that I’m part of the newspaper team and specifically of its editorial board, I understand many things: the professional limitations, the mediations in the process of preparing the paper and even the material problems. But as I said, none of that can justify us before those who follow our publication in any of their presentations; and that’s what we can not lose sight of.”
“I think the Granma that I used to “see from the sidelines” and this one which I am part of right now are different. The Web version of the newspaper is perhaps the most notable example, not only because of its new image and the possibility of interacting with users through their comments, but also because of the way of understanding the news coverage of certain events. In the printed version, there are also differences, especially in the still hesitant approach to research, and the diversity of journalistic genres. They are different, but they’re still not the Granma I’d like to read. “
Q: In your opinion, how is the Cuba that Granma presents? What is the challenge of putting together each day a national newspaper? What are you proud of? What would you change?
I think the Cuba shown in Granma still lacks many nuances. Characters are missing and sometimes facts are missing. It is very difficult at times to reconcile all interests so that Cuba is shown in its entirety every day in those 8 pages. This is because the newspaper is not only the place where people look for information as an instrument in the ideological struggle waged by our country. It’s also a document that remains in history. But it is also seen by many people as a place of recognition. So everyone wants to see themselves there, but not in criticism.”
“And it is very complex because, on the one hand, people question why Granma mostly publishes articles on positive experiences in different sectors: agriculture, construction, health, education … when there are so many problems to solve. On the other hand they do not want us to stop recognizing their work.”
“I think that’s the hardest part to fill every day in a national newspaper: balance. To have the different provinces represented, to include criticism and recognition, so we can fulfill the task of informing and stimulating thought. That is a score that is not yet settled, because, when we have gotten closer we always find that something is missing. For example: chronicles or life stories, which are other ways of showing Cuba and that breathe so much life into a publication.”
“Personally, I am proud to belong to this group. It gives me great joy when we do something that is well-received by those who read us. No matter if it’s something from my staff, or from culture or internationals, because if there is something positive in Granma it is that there are no individual “beats”; what is most important is the newspaper, rather than your own signature on an article.”
“As for change … I would change many things. Some within Granma; others outside, but that also have an impact on what happens inside. However, there are changes that do not happen just because you want them to –all the more so when you are dealing with a newspaper. There are changes that depend on many people, and take time. So I think it’s best to change myself slowly (it’s hard to get rid of certain habits and ways of thinking) and to try to be part of that change in other people and things.”
Q: For several years, now the staff of Granma has been characterized by being eminently young. Can you describe the challenge of being a very young leader who works with so many young people? What role will they play in the kind of journalism that we are called upon to do?
“What is most complex is that you yourself are learning and sometimes you do not have much to teach. Although I graduated ten years ago, I do not think my past experience is enough to become the mentor that the young people I lead need or to be the guide they need to fully develop their potential. The shortcomings of the national news team today are my fault, my own shortcomings; and that is what I feel when any of my staff’s work is rejected.”
“But it’s very rewarding to work with young people, especially in these times when generational leaps are faster. At least, that is how I see it. Today a five year difference can be a huge gap in terms of the way we see the world. To work with those who view things differently can open my eyes to things I had not seen before. In journalism that seems fundamental.”
“As to the role they should play … I think it’s essentially the same: to speak with the voice of the times. Ideally, without losing this new voice –controversial and full of color that youth always has– Granma would reflect the very serious issues that it has to deal with on account of its role in Cuban society.”
Q: If I asked you for a kind of SWOT matrix with respect to Granma today, what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats would you identify? How can we change it for the better? How would you like Granma to be in the next five years?
“It’s a fitting question for a thesis, but I will try to answer briefly on the basis of the analysis we have done within the editorial board of Granma.”
“Threats: unfair competition from the so-called alternative media, both printed and digital, which offer better economic compensation and do not have the editorial pressure of the official media. To this I could add the inconsistencies in the information policy of the country, and the general absence of a culture of communication on a societal scale (hence the excessive secrecy and excessive regulation, etc.).”
“Weaknesses… Lack of professionalism and continuous emigration of an important part of young, trained journalists for a number of reasons. There are also the material limitations which we cannot overcome. This is coupled with a limited administrative autonomy (believe me… this also has a bearing on the newspaper we make).”
“These are just two, but I could mention others such as insufficient readership studies to know our public, generational gaps that exist in our newsrooms, self-limitations and lack of self-preparation by some professionals, not just journalists.”
“As for the strengths … Having achieved a system of collective leadership in decision-making and a growing collective construction of the media’s agenda which takes into very serious account the interaction with its readers. Furthermore, it is also very positive to have a Web page that technically allows us to be “up-to-date” with what goes on in the world of hyper-media journalism. There is also an understanding of the need for convergence between the traditional and the digital media.”
“If we consider the opportunity of having professionals who are mostly willing to make the changes and the training to do so –especially young people– then arguably part of the way towards the transformation we want is clear. But of course, there are things that do not depend on Granma, and these are matters of time and effort. And finding the way to do it, which is not always as easy as identifying problems.”
Q: For several years you´ve had the blog “Espacio Libre [Free Space]”, which is well-liked. I see that you haven’t written for some months. What is the relationship between Karina the blogger and the Karina who carries a national newspaper on her shoulders? What is the contribution of the blogosphere to the journalism we build in the media?
“Blogger Karina has many debts to those who read her, because I dedicate a lot of time to the newspaper and the blog is the most affected by that. On the other hand, I have run into an ethical dilemma, because when I want to write something for the blog I immediately think: why don’t I write about that for Granma?”
“Sometimes one is seduced by the magic of the fact that on the blog you’re the journalist, the editor, the one who dictates the information policies, the editorials and the writing manuals and therefore it is somewhat easier to write about anything. You don´t even have to convince those who read you. In the end, whoever comes to your blog knows in advance that he or she will find their personal criteria and they can share it or not, but that is your very own space to comment.”
“A public media like Granma has to respect its public service and, therefore, even if you are giving an opinion, you are obliged to present arguments; to think carefully what you want to convey to your readers; what use they can find in what you do. It is not a space for personal catharsis.”
“That’s why I was talking about an ethical dilemma, because if I want to write about something controversial in my blog, for instance, I always ask myself why not do it for the newspaper, which also needs these things. Often these ideas end in stories I ask my own reporters to cover because I realize that for Granma, I can’t present certain subjects with just my limited personal perspective. Thus, the blog has been going dry or includes texts that are closer to my experiences as an individual than to journalism.”
“That competition between Karina the blogger and the editor, I think, is one of the main contributions that the blogosphere makes to journalism today: to show all roads that are still untravelled. If the media tapped more into the multiple voices that are there, either to nourish ourselves with issues, or even publishing the best that we find in the blogs, Cuban journalism would breathe fresher air.”
Q: As for the debate on the need for a change in the Cuban press: What role do you see for ethics, the participation and leadership of young people in the journalism that we all want to see? What can we ourselves do?
“I think that if there is something that those of us who work in the media and the population agree on is that the Cuban press must change. Better yet, I would say that the system of the press in Cuba must change. Now then, in that change ethics is essential.”
“We want a press that has nuances, colors, where each publication is distinguished by its exclusive content, and that is closer to the people. However, to achieve this goal we cannot become frivolous, sensationalist tabloids. Ethics is the only thing that can save us when we fail to see clearly the boundaries between achieving a product that is attractive, even entertaining, and entertainment per se, i.e., populism.”
“The Cuban press has a tradition of defending truth, of patriotism: and, although this can sound like a “spiel” to some, I think they are values that we can never forget.”
“And it is also ethical to prepare every day to do a better job in the media; to fight against those who want to hide information … So for me any path toward change must be linked to ethics.”
“Furthermore, in that change, young people are the key, because they have the strength, the momentum, the new knowledge and the time to go tearing down walls. But first they must feel the commitment to do so.”
“Today’s world promotes many different ways of disconnection, of individualism. There are many people waiting for the guy next to them to resolve the problems that affect us all while they care only about their own. I think the first thing we can do is begin to realize that change is also in us and we must join forces with those who think alike. Only then will we be taking the step in the right direction. At least that is the way I see it, and I try.”
Source: María del Carmen Ramon – Cubahora
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On March 10, 1952, with a door slam, a chapter of Cuban history came to a close. Fulgencio Batista –who, two decades before, had introduced a harsh dictatorship– seized power once again with a handful of his former collaborators had liquidated the revolutionary government of just one hundred days which had emerged in 1933 after the fall of Gerardo Machado. The new coup took place without major setbacks and thus ended Cuba’s brief experience with “representative democracy”. This had lasted for only two terms of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Autentico), which had governed for little more than seven years.
The “Autentico” Party presented itself as heir to the Revolution of 1933, in which its leaders had had played an outstanding role, but did not go beyond national-reformism, creating some necessary institutions and showing an independent foreign policy on some important issues at the UN and the OAS. Its work was, however, hampered by government corruption which invaded almost all branches of the administration. Besides, its adherence to McCarthyism led to the division among the trade union and popular movement, and the assassination of some of its main leaders.
The prevailing dishonesty caused the split in the “Autentico” Party and the emergence of the Cuban People’s Party (Orthodox) which raised the slogan “Vergüenza contra Dinero [Shame against money]” as its main banner. Among its founders was a recently graduated lawyer named Fidel Castro Ruz.
The general elections scheduled for June 1952, brought face-to-face, according to all polls, two candidates: the “orthodox”, headed by a respected university professor [Roberto Agramonte], and the government official, led by an “autentico” whose honesty was beyond doubt. A third candidate, Batista, supported by reactionary groups, appeared in a distant last place and no one gave him the slightest chance of winning in the polls. Everyone in Cuba knew this, including Batista who, for that reason, prevented the people from deciding.
The coup and its immediate aftermath deeply wounded Cuban society. Batista received immediate support from the big property owners as well as from the conservative political forces and corrupt trade union bureaucracy. Political parties –the ones close to the government as well their opponents– were trapped in inaction and inconsistency. Authenticism and orthodoxy were divided into contradictory trends and new parties emerged from them; some willing to collaborate or compromise with the new regime. These and all other parties engaged in endless controversies unable to articulate a path against tyranny.
Resistance found refuge in the universities. Out of these came the first demonstrations and acts of protest. Among the students there was a growing awareness of the need to act and to do so using methods different from those of the politicians who had failed miserably. There was talk of armed struggle, but nobody knew how to wage it or had the resources to undertake it. There were some isolated attempts while rumors spread about plans led or linked to the president overthrown on March 10.
For those of us who were still in secondary education, the assault on the military barracks in Santiago de Cuba (Moncada) and Bayamo (Carlos Manuel de Cespedes), on July 26, 1953, was a complete surprise. We knew nothing of an event that would change our lives forever.
The news highlighted the name of someone previously unknown to us: Fidel Castro.
The political crisis deepened. The tyranny became even more aggressive. The Communist Party (Partido Socialista Popular [Socialist People’s Party]) was banned and its publications closed, while increased repression against the student movement became the norm. Batista’s accusations against the Communists sought the sympathy of Washington, but had nothing to do with reality. The PSP was not only alien to those events, but rather condemned the action of the young revolutionaries as did the other opponents to Batista, almost without exception.
With Puerto Rican Independentists, Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Oscar Collazo, Havana 1979.
Once again it fell to the students to replace the parties that had proved incapable of fulfilling their role. The Federation of University Students (FEU) sympathized with the attackers of the Moncada garrison and called for a campaign for their release. This soon acquired a national dimension and forced the dictatorship to grant them amnesty in 1955.
That same year, Fidel founded the July 26th Movement. Along with the survivors of the initial action, it counted especially on young people who, in neighborhoods and study centers, identified themselves with that heroic deed against tirades and criticism from Tiryns and Trojans.
Their ranks were filled with youths, no few of them teenagers, who rebelled amid frustration, inertia and division, inspired by a feat that had shaken the tyranny and its opponents as well. Antonio López (Ñico), who had led the attack on the barracks in Bayamo, was responsible for organizing the youth brigades of the M-26-7 until he went to Mexico to return with Fidel and die fighting in the Sierra Maestra. He was replaced in Havana by Gerardo Abreu (Fontán), a black man of very humble origin, who had not completed primary school. He managed, on his own, to acquire a broad cultural background and a poetic sensibility that caused astonishment among us college students who had the privilege of fighting under his leadership. Ñico and Fontán –both from the Orthodox Youth– knew Marxism, shared socialist ideals, and were profoundly anti-imperialist. They were determined to create an organization that would massively bring in the new generation. They succeeded. Their followers were identified with a single word: “fidelistas”.
The presence of the Brigades was felt quickly by sending their message directly to the people. While the press and politicians criticized Fidel and the Moncada action, everywhere, in every corner of the capital –on walls and facades– using very modest resources, Brigade members painted a brief slogan which everyone understood: M-26-7, or a name that others wanted to silence: Fidel.
In view of the hostile environment which made it impossible to wage open political struggle, Fidel went to Mexico in order to organize the return to carry out the battle that would end the tyranny. He proclaimed it openly, undertaking a historic commitment: “In ’56, we will be free or we will be martyrs” thus challenging the followers of inaction and despair once again. And also their jokes: a government newspaper carried on its front page every day the number of days which had elapsed that year without the defiant promise being kept.
Well into November, the propaganda against the Moncadistas intensified. Demonstrations, organized by the FEU and the newly created Revolutionary Directorate, climaxed and led to the closure of the university. The last day of the month, to support the landing [of the Granma expedition], the M-26-7 carried out an uprising in Santiago de Cuba. Two days later Fidel and his companions arrived at the eastern shores aboard the yacht Granma, in what Che described as a “shipwreck”.
Scattered and persecuted by the Army, a small group finally managed to reunite in the Sierra Maestra. Many members of the expedition died fighting, or were assassinated.
Among these, as the US news agencies reported, was its main leader. Fidel’s death was reported on the front page of every newspaper. Anguish and uncertainty remained until after a passage of time that seemed endless. Gradually and by clandestine channels, the truth came to be known.
The last two years of the dictatorship were rife with crimes and abuses in the urban areas while the initial guerrilla force grew to become the Rebel Army.
“Fidelismo” reached massiveness. On the night of November 8, 1957, one hundred simultaneous explosions rocked Havana, each in a different neighborhood and distant from one another. They were practically heavy firecrackers –rather homemade devices– that only made noise. No one was injured and no one was arrested by the police who went around frantically from one place to the other. It was sound evidence that the “26th” was everywhere and showed the youth brigades’ efficient organization.
The murder of Fontan, on February 7, 1958, sparked a students’ general strike which lasted until May. It paralyzed all education centers, including private universities and academies, and led to the consecutive resignations of two of Batista’s Education Ministers of Batista.
Never before had such a movement occurred in Cuba to such extent and for so long. For three months, all attempts, violent or “peaceful” to end it failed. The student walkout continued, even several weeks after the movement suffered in its most painful and bloody defeat in Havana.
The failure of the attempted general strike by the workers, on April 9, was a very severe blow. It decimated urban militancy, almost completely destroyed the underground structures, and allowed the dictatorship to mobilize thousands of troops to launch what it thought would be the final battle in the Sierra. Once again everything depended on Fidel and his leadership.
PHOTO Elian and Juan Miguel Gonzalez, at the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Moncada assault.
Batista’s offensive proved a complete failure. The Rebel Army –well-established in the East– sent two columns led by Che and Camilo Cienfuegos, which crossed half the island and won many battles in its central region. The rebels were close to liberating the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Santa Clara. The last day of December, the dictator arranged his escape and –in close coordination with the US Ambassador– left behind a military junta in Havana that would have been the continuity of his regime. To thwart the maneuver, Fidel called for a general strike.
In the early hours of the first day of the New Year, the people took over the streets in the capital. The youth brigades –almost totally unarmed– occupied all police stations without meeting resistance from the demoralized and nervous troops of the regime. However, in other parts of the city, armed paramilitary groups of Batista henchmen had to be confronted. The strike continued until the total collapse of the tyranny. On January 8, Fidel rode triumphantly into a city that was already and finally “Fidelista”.
The victorious Revolution would have to face more powerful obstacles and even greater risks for over half a century: Political, diplomatic and propaganda aggression, armed attacks, subversion and sabotage, and the economic blockade that is still ongoing and is the longest genocide in history. Another blow was the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the disappearance of allies and trading partners plus the complete isolation of the island. It has been a long and stormy path that the people have weathered under Fidel’s guidance.
Ninety years of age has now come to the man who had to face more than six hundred assassination plots against his life and whose death has been announced countless times by imperialist propaganda. Maybe someday his enemies will have to admit that they were never able to kill him. This is because Fidel and his people are one and the same. And that people, largely thanks to him, is invincible.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Race relations have worsened in the United States since Donald Trump’s electoral campaign began. With his recent confirmation as the Republican presidential candidate, this deterioration appears to have reached a critical state.
Upon accepting the presidential nomination at the National Republican Convention in Cleveland, Trump described himself as the “law-and-order candidate”, and declared he was ready to restore in the country a security “that is out of control and needs a leader” capable of implementing sharp measures to protect Americans.
“The first task of my new administration will be to relieve our citizens from the crime, terrorism and anarchy that threaten their communities,” he said.” I have a message for every person who threatens peace in our streets and the safety of our police: when I take office next year: I will restore law and order in our country”.
Appealing to the anguish of the voters who feel that the rest of the world no longer respects the United States, Trump pledged to act quickly so that Americans feel better about the sad image their country projects. He promised to warn allies and enemies that Washington would focus exclusively on protecting US’s own interests.
Without softening his tone, or departing from the hardline that has characterized his campaign, Trump described Americans as victims of immigrants, international companies and irresponsible leaders. He presented himself as the defender of the “forgotten men and women in our country”.
By explicitly affirming white identity and voicing the most widespread complaints, Trump has galvanized the marginal world of white nationalists who describe themselves as “racial realists”. They hail him as the man who has helped millions of white Americans to understand that race should matter to them as much as to everyone else.
The pro-Trump activists say he has freed Americans to say what they really think. A survey conducted by CBS News in April showed that half of those surveyed admitted there is a problem and more than 60% considered that race relations had worsened.
More recently, an investigation conducted nationally by the Pew Research Center of Washington, DC (PEW) between June 5 and July 7, involving 4,602 adults, showed that black and white Americans have profoundly different views on racial equality, and they also differ on the extent to which a person’s race can be a burden or a benefit.
For blacks, the answer is clear: 65% say “it is a lot more difficult to be black in this country than it is to be white.”
Fewer than half as many whites (27%) agree. The racial gap in perception of white advantages is even starker: 62% of blacks say “white people benefit a great deal from advantages in society that black people do not have.” Just 13% of whites say whites have benefited a great deal from advantages that blacks lack.
Commenting on the evidence of this study on perception of race advantages or disadvantages, PEW researcher Shiva Maniam wrote on July 18 that among Latinos, 37% say it is lot more difficult to be black than white, which is higher than the share of whites who say this but far lower than the number of blacks who do so.
Most Latinos say white people benefit from advantages in society that blacks do not have; 33% say whites benefit a great deal from these circumstances, compared with 62% of blacks and 13% of whites.
About the perception of how blacks are treated in different areas, another recent survey revealed that most blacks believe they are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police, in the courts, when applying for a loan or mortgage, and in the workplace. At least four out of ten interviewed said that blacks receive much worse treatment in stores and restaurants and when voting in elections.
July 22, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusivo para el diario POR ESTO! de Mérida, México.
Las relaciones raciales han empeorado en Estados Unidos desde quecomenzó la campaña electoral de Donald Trump y con su recienteconfirmación como candidato republicano a la presidencia de lanación este deterioro parece haber alcanzado un estado crítico.
Al aceptar en Cleveland la nominación presidencial en la ConvenciónNacional Republicana, Trump se describió a sí mismo como el “candidatode la ley y el orden” y se declaró dispuesto a restaurar la seguridaddel país, “que está fuera de control y necesita un líder” capaz deimplementar medidas tajantes para proteger a los estadounidenses.“La primera tarea de mi nueva administración será liberar a nuestrosciudadanos de la delincuencia, el terrorismo y la anarquía queamenazan a sus comunidades”, dijo.
“Tengo un mensaje para cada persona que amenaza la paz en nuestrascalles y la seguridad de nuestros policías: cuando tome posesión delcargo el próximo año, voy a restaurar la ley y el orden en nuestropaís”.
Apelando a la angustia de los votantes que sienten que el resto delmundo ya no respeta a Estados Unidos, Trump se comprometió a actuarcon rapidez para que los estadounidenses se sientan mejor sobre latriste imagen que proyecta su país y prometió que advertirá a aliadosy enemigos que Washington en lo adelante se centrará exclusivamente enla protección de sus propios intereses.
Sin suavizar su tono ni apartarse de la línea dura que hacaracterizado su campaña, Trump describió a los estadounidenses comovíctimas de los inmigrantes, las empresas internacionales y loslíderes irresponsables, y se presentó como el defensor de los “hombresy mujeres olvidados de nuestro país”.
Al afirmar de manera explícita la identidad blanca y hacerse eco delas quejas más generalizadas, Trump ha galvanizado el mundo marginalde quienes se declaran nacionalistas blancos y se describen a símismos como “realistas raciales”.
Ellos lo aclaman como el hombre que ha logrado que millones deestadounidenses blancos entiendan que la raza les debe importar tantocomo a todos los demás. Los activistas pro-Trump dicen que él haliberado a los estadounidenses para que digan lo que realmentepiensan.
En una encuesta realizada en abril por la cadena CBS News, casi lamitad de los consultados admitió esa problemática y más del 60 %consideró que las relaciones raciales empeoraban.
Más recientemente, en una pesquisa llevada a cabo a nivel nacional porel Centro Pew de Investigaciones, de Washington, DC (PEW) entre el 5de junio y el 7 de julio con participación de 4.602 adultos, se pusode manifiesto que los estadounidenses blancos y negros tienen puntosde vista sumamente diferentes acerca de la igualdad racial y quetambién difieren en cuanto a la medida en que la raza de una personapuede serle una carga o un beneficio.
Para los negros, la respuesta es clara. El 65% dice que en EstadosUnidos “es mucho más difícil ser negro que ser blanco”. Solo el 27% delos blancos coincide en este aserto.
La brecha racial en la percepción de las ventajas del blanco sobre elnegro es también significativa. El 62% de los encuestados negrossostiene que “la gente blanca se beneficia de muchas ventajas que lesofrece la sociedad que no tienen los negros”. Sólo el 13% de losblancos admite que los de su raza se beneficien mucho de ventajas delas que carecen los negros.
Comentando las evidencias de esta investigación sobre quienes sonayudados o perjudicados por su raza, Shiva Maniam, investigadorasistente de PEW escribió el 18 de julio que entre los hispanos, 37%señala que es mucho más difícil ser negro que ser blanco, pero essuperior la proporción de blancos que así piensan y mucho menor elnúmero de negros que lo hacen. La mayoría de los hispanos apunta quelos blancos se benefician de ventajas en la sociedad que los negros notienen; 33% dice que los blancos se benefician mucho de estascircunstancias, proporción que se eleva al 62% de los negros y un 13%de los blancos a nivel de la nación.
Acerca de la percepción de cómo son tratados los negros en diferentesáreas, otra encuesta reciente reveló que la mayoría de los negrosafirma que recibe un trato menos justo que los blancos en su relacióncon la policía, en los tribunales, al solicitar un préstamo o unahipoteca y en su centro de trabajo. Por lo menos cuatro de cada diezentrevistados dijeron que los negros reciben un trato bastante peor entiendas o restaurantes, así como al votar en las elecciones.
Julio 22 de 2016.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“By rejecting Hillary Clinton as Lesser Evil and, most importantly, by resolving to build political independence, Sanders campaign activists and supporters can make 2016 a year of genuine “political revolution.” This is the conclusion reached in an article published by Marxism Leninism Today (MLT) on July 12.
Under the title “What Should Bernie Sanders Supporters Do Now?” the editors express their view on the decision of Senator Sanders to join the Hillary Clinton campaign –against whom he had sought the nomination of the Democratic Party– and consider that the 2016 elections reflect the deepening crisis of the capitalist economic system in general and the US political party system in particular.
In the 2016 primary season, something new happened: voter response to Trump and Sanders represented a new level of mass disaffection from the existing political system.
“Everyone knew voter anger had to come, sooner or later. Forty years of stagnant or declining wages, the export of jobs and de-industrialization, growing inequality, police violence against Black youth, mass incarceration, attacks on unions and labor rights, rolling back the social safety net, endless wars, the 2008 Great Recession and the halting recovery, gridlock in Congress, growing poverty and insecurity – all have altered the consciousness of tens of millions,” said MLT.
“At the Democratic Party Platform drafting meeting in Orlando, Florida, Sanders’ positions on issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Palestinian rights, and single-payer healthcare have been rebuffed by the Clintonites,” the US communists journal said.
Worsening social discontent sparked insurgencies in both major parties. With the narrowing differences between the two monopoly parties, the received wisdom, “Vote for Lesser Evil” makes less and less sense to ordinary voters, let alone to Sanders supporters.
Voter anger has finally found political expression at the ballot box, but the way anger has been expressed is not symmetric.
In the case of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders offered a version of Scandinavian social democracy. Political independence was no part of his plan. From the start, he pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee. To his credit, he moved leftward on a number of important issues. His campaign inspired sections of the Democratic base, especially youth. Sanders wound up with 12 million votes in the primaries, compared to 16 million for Clinton.
According to MLT’s article, progressive/liberal insurgencies in the Democratic Party are not new: Ted Kennedy against Jimmy Carter in 1980; Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988; Howard Dean in 2004; Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and 2008. In all cases, the insurgency petered out. Most Democrats ended up voting for the Democratic nominee, seemingly a “Lesser Evil”, rather than a thoroughly-reactionary Republican candidate. The Democratic Party establishment knows how to corral stray sheep.
The Clinton camp, for example, has done this with talk of Trump’s “fascism” or his “McCarthyism,” or the unspeakable horror of “losing” the US Supreme Court.
The Lesser Evil argument has never been weaker than it is now, says MLT, “The two big parties are equally evil; then it is incumbent on progressives to begin systematic political work for independence from the two-party system. Trump and Clinton are equally evil, but in different ways. On domestic issues (except trade), Trump is obviously worse than Clinton, but on foreign policy Clinton is demonstrably more dangerous than Trump,” affirms MLT.
Trump represents a long US tradition of right-wing populism that mingles racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and isolationism with nostalgia for a golden past. He combines attacks on socially-oppressed groups with distorted forms of anti-elitism based on “scapegoating”.
July 19, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
“Rechazando que Hillary Clinton sea un mal menor y, lo más importante, estando resueltos a construir su independencia política, los activistas y partidarios de la campaña de Sanders pueden hacer de 2016 un año de genuina revolución política”, dice un comentario de Marxismo Leninismo Hoy (MLT)” publicado el 12 de julio.
Con título “¿Qué deben hacer ahora los partidarios de Bernie Sanders?”, expresan el criterio de la dirección de su formación política acerca de la decisión del senador Sanders de sumarse a la campaña de Hillary Clinton, con quien contendía por la candidatura del partido demócrata, al tiempo que evalúan las elecciones de 2016 como un reflejo del agravamiento de la crisis del sistema capitalista en general y del sistema de partidos políticos de Estados Unidos en particular.
En la temporada de primarias de 2016, sucedió algo novedoso: las candidaturas de Trump y Sanders demostraron la existencia de un nuevo nivel de malquerencia en el sistema político vigente.
“Todos sabían que la ira de los votantes tendría que aparecer tarde o temprano. Cuarenta años de estancamiento o disminución de los salarios; de desindustrialización y exportación de puestos de trabajo, de crecientes desigualdades, de violencia policial contra jóvenes negros, encarcelaciones masivas y ataques contra los sindicatos obreros y los derechos laborales, de retrocesos en la red de seguridad social, de guerras interminables, de la Gran Recesión de 2008 y su vacilante recuperación; paralizaciones en el Congreso; creciente pobreza e inseguridad -todo lo cual concientiza a decenas de millones”, expone MLT.
En una reunión para la redacción de la plataforma del partido demócrata que se efectuó en Orlando, Florida, las posiciones de Sanders en temas como el acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico, los derechos de los palestinos y el pagador único de salud fueron rechazados por los clintonitas, recuerda el texto de los comunistas estadounidenses.
El agravamiento del descontento social provocó insurgencias en ambos partidos mayoritarios. Con el estrechamiento de las diferencias entre las dos partes del monopolio, el “Voto por el mal menor” tiene cada vez menos sentido para los votantes comunes y corrientes, y mucho menos para los seguidores de Sanders.
La irritación de los votantes, finalmente, ha tenido expresión política en las urnas, pero ésta se ha expresado de manera asimétrica. En el caso de los demócratas, Bernie Sanders ofreció una versión de la socialdemocracia escandinava de la que no era parte la independencia política de los dos grandes partidos. Desde el primer momento prometió apoyar al candidato demócrata vencedor en las primarias. Tuvo a su favor el haber movido hacia la izquierda la agenda demócrata en varias cuestiones importantes. Su campaña inspiró a muchos sectores de la base demócrata, especialmente a los jóvenes. Obtuvo 12 millones de votos en las primarias, que se comparan con 16 millones de Clinton.
Según el artículo de MLT, las insurgencias progresistas o liberales en el partido demócrata no son nuevas: Ted Kennedy contra Jimmy Carter en 1980; Jesse Jackson en 1984 y 1988; Howard Dean en 2004; Dennis Kucinich en 2004 y 2008. La mayoría terminaron votando por el candidato demócrata, aparentemente porque eran un “mal menor” que el candidato republicano declaradamente reaccionario.
La dirigencia del partido demócrata sabe cómo hacer volver al redil de la oveja perdida.
En el caso de Clinton, por ejemplo, lo ha hecho aludiendo al “fascismo” o el “macartismo” de Trump, o al horror indecible de “perder” la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos.
El argumento del mal menor nunca ha sido más débil que ahora, asegura MLT. “Los dos grandes partidos son igualmente malos, corresponde por ello a los progresistas comenzar un trabajo político sistemático por su independencia del sistema de dos partidos. Trump y Clinton son igualmente malos. En asuntos internos (excepto comercio), Trump es evidentemente peor que Clinton, pero en política exterior Clinton se muestra más peligrosa que Trump, afirma MLT.
Trump representa una larga tradición estadounidense de populismo de derecha que mezcla racismo, xenofobia, nacionalismo y aislacionismo con nostalgia de un pasado dorado. Combina ataques a grupos socialmente oprimidos con formas distorsionadas de anti elitismo basado en la búsqueda de chivos expiatorios.
En el caso de los demócratas, Bernie Sanders ofreció una versión de la socialdemocracia escandinava sin que fuera parte de su plan la independencia política. Prometió siempre apoyar al candidato demócrata vencedor en las primarias. En su favor está haber movido hacia la izquierda la agenda demócrata en una serie de cuestiones importantes.
Julio 19 de 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Exclusive for journal POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
“No one in the British or American establishment foresaw the “Brexit” vote that called for a United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union. The world has to be thankful for hubris and political miscalculation,” wrote journalist Margaret Kimberley, on July 1st, in her column Freedom Rider for the Black Agenda Report.
If there had been any inkling of a Brexit victory, Prime Minister David Cameron would never have agreed to put the matter to a vote.
“Despite its well-cultivated image of progress and enlightenment, the European Union is not a bulwark of peace and international cooperation. It acts as America’s 28-nation gang of enforcers, at the service of US foreign policy. But the countries that make it up are also victims of US power. The United States is the European Union’s invisible senior partner making sure that it keeps the international ‘banksters’ well-funded, expands NATO and makes certain that no one steps out of the US orbit.”
Under American pressure, the EU expanded its membership to include poorer countries whose people then had the right to immigrate to more prosperous countries like the UK. This race to the bottom for workers was not just the concern of xenophobes and racists but of people whose living wage jobs decrease or disappear.
In one of his worst acts of desperation, Cameron invoked the spirit of the much-maligned Vladimir Putin, declaring that a Brexit vote would only benefit the man turned into a villain by Western politicians and media.
The warnings of economic catastrophe were ignored in favor of a desire for freedom from a cooked-up union that exists to make capital flow more easily. It is true that the most visible Brexit campaigners were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment. But the Labor Party is also under the sway of finance capital and the discredited specter of the criminal Tony Blair.
The media reaction to the vote is proof of how much the establishment wants to stay within the bounds of the neo-liberal project. “Voters who chose the Brexit route have been labeled as stupid, and we are told that 17 million people didn’t know what they were doing”, wrote Kimberley. Every instance of hate speech and hate crime is now blamed on the Brexit vote, as if there was an absence of racism and intolerance before.
Cameron will step down, but there is turmoil in the Labour Party, too. Scotland voted to stay, and its leadership has already said that the referendum will not be binding upon them. There is talk of a second referendum, which makes a mockery of the constant shrieking about democracy in the capitalist world.
Other nations are watching and people in the rest of Europe are making the case for once again having their own currencies and leaving NATO behind. “They want freedom from the big bullies in the school yard, the United States of America and finance capital,” said Margaret Kimberley.
Ordinary people may not be able to articulate their discomfort, but they’ll speak up when given the opportunity to express their unhappiness. Some who voted to leave the EU may be well-versed on the subject, some were anti-immigrant, others were fed up with politicians who lie to them about wars or austerity.
The end result of Brexit may be the end of the United Kingdom. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave. Given another opportunity, the Scottish people may choose independence.
Britain has committed some of the worst criminal acts in history, ranging from slavery to colonialism. Now it acts in concert with the United States to sanction and threaten. For now it is unlikely to play a major role in provoking Russia, which has suddenly moved down on the imperialist to-do list.
Chaos can be a good thing. The current mess of post-Brexit politics is a sign that one part of the capitalist coalition is in trouble. It will not be easy to go back and negate the will of the people. This earthquake can’t be papered over easily and that is a good thing indeed.
The post-referendum recrimination and political chaos benefit humanity. The latest trade deal monstrosity, the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is on hold for now and NATO provocations against Russia will take a back seat. Millions of people will get a respite from the US meddling in their lives,” concludes Margaret Kimberley.
July 12, 2016
Por Manuel E. Yepe
“Nadie en Gran Bretaña o Estados Unidos previó la votación de “Brexit” que llamaba al retiro del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea. El mundo tiene que estar agradecido por la arrogancia y el error de este cálculo político”, escribió el 1º de julio la periodista Margaret Kimberley en su columna Freedom Rider de Black Agenda Report. Si hubiera habido siquiera un mínimo indicio de una probable victoria de Brexit, el primer ministro David Cameron jamás habría aprobado llevar el asunto a votación.
“Pese a su bien cultivada imagen de progreso e ilustración, la Unión Europea no es un baluarte de paz y cooperación mundial. Actúa como una banda de 28 naciones al servicio de la política exterior de Estados Unidos pero los países que la integran también son víctimas del poder norteamericano. Estados Unidos es el socio invisible de la UE, asegurando que se mantenga bien financiada, crezca la OTAN y nadie se salga fuera de la órbita estadounidense”.
Bajo presión estadounidense, la UE ha ampliado su membrecía para incluir a los países más pobres cuyos pueblos tenían entonces motivos para emigrar a países más prósperos como el Reino Unido. De modo que este problema no era solo para los trabajadores ni era sólo
preocupación de xenófobos y racistas sino también de aquellos cuyos empleos y salario desaparecen o decrecen.
En uno de sus peores actos de desesperación, Cameron invocó el espíritu del muy calumniado Vladimir Putin y declaró que un voto a favor de Brexit sólo beneficiaría al hombre convertido en un villano por los medios de comunicación y políticos occidentales.
Fueron ignoradas las advertencias de catástrofe económica a favor de un deseo de libertad de una Unión nacida de la necesidad de hacer más fácil el flujo de capital. Es cierto que activistas muy señalados del Brexit estaban motivados por el sentimiento anti-inmigrante. Pero, también los había en el partido laborista bajo la influencia del capital financiero y el fantasma desacreditado del criminal Tony Blair.
La reacción de los medios de comunicación a la votación fue prueba de cuánto el “establishment” deseaba permanecer dentro del proyecto neoliberal. “Los votantes que eligieron la ruta del Brexit han sido etiquetados como estúpidos, y se nos dice que 17 millones de ciudadanos no sabían lo que estaban haciendo”, dice Kimberley. Por cada acto o discurso vinculado a un crimen de odio se culpa ahora a la votación de Brexit, como si hubiera existido una ausencia total de racismo e intolerancia anteriormente.
Cameron se retirará, pero también deja gran confusión en el partido laborista. Escocia votó por quedarse, pero sus líderes ya han dicho que el referéndum no será vinculante para ellos. Se habla de un segundo referéndum, que constituiría una burla a los constantes alardes de democracia en el mundo capitalista.
Otros países están observando y mucha gente en el resto de Europa ha comenzado a hablar una vez más de tener sus propias monedas y de dejar la OTAN. “Quieren liberarse de los grandes matones en el patio de la escuela: los Estados Unidos de América y el capital financiero”, afirma Margaret Kimberley.
La ciudadanía no es capaz de articular sus razones pero habla, cuando le dan la oportunidad, de su infelicidad. Algunos de los que votaron por abandonar la UE pueden ser versados sobre el tema, los hay que votaron contra los inmigrantes, otros porque estaban hartos de los políticos que les mienten sobre guerras y austeridad.
El resultado final de Brexit pudiera ser el fin del Reino Unido. Escocia e Irlanda del norte votaron a favor de permanecer en la UE mientras que Inglaterra y Gales votaron para salir. Dada otra oportunidad, los escoceses pueden elegir la independencia.
Gran Bretaña cometió algunos de los peores actos criminales en la historia de la esclavitud y el colonialismo. Ahora actúa en concierto con Estados Unidos, sancionando y amenazando. Por ahora es poco probable que juegue un papel muy importante en provocar a Rusia, que de pronto ha bajado en la lista de prioridades imperialista. El caos puede ser una buena cosa. El desorden actual de la política post-Brexit es un signo de que una parte de la coalición capitalista está en problemas. No se podrá dar para atrás fácilmente y negar la voluntad de la gente. Este terremoto no se puede recubrir fácilmente y eso es, de hecho, una buena cosa.
Los reproches posteriores al referéndum y el caos político resultante benefician a la humanidad. La reciente monstruosidad de la Sociedad Transatlántica sobre Comercio e Inversión (TTIP), ha quedado por ahora en suspenso y las provocaciones de la OTAN contra Rusia han perdido prioridad. Millones de personas tendrán un respiro en lo que concierne a la intromisión de Estados Unidos en sus vidas, dice Margaret Kimberley.
Julio 12 de 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Two years ago journalist Robert Parry published his article on the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton during the early years of the existence of the United States of America. The balance of the contention between these two important figures of American history was very favorable to Jefferson. But the recent success on Broadway of the musical “Hamilton” has reopened the understanding of the facts by showing aspects of the dark side of Jefferson which had not been widely known.
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and main author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), Jefferson was elected second vice president of the United States (1797-1801) under President John Adams, and in 1800, became the third president of the country.
Although Jefferson owned numerous plantations where hundreds of slaves worked, he is considered a promoter of democracy, republicanism and individual rights, factors that motivated North American settlers to break up with Britain and create the new nation.
As a rule on July Fourth, anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and a national holiday in the United States, expressions on human rights in the Declaration of Independence are widely quoted, especially the noble phrase “all men are created equal” penned by Thomas Jefferson.
“But Jefferson really didn’t believe that or much else he said and wrote during his lifetime. He was, in reality, a skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite,” journalist Robert Parry clarifies in an article recently printed on July 4th by the Consortium News website.
“Yet, rather than subject Jefferson to a rigorous examination for his multiple hypocrisies, many Americans insist on protecting Jefferson’s reputation. From the Left, there is a desire to shield the lofty principles contained in the Declaration. From the Right, there is value in pretending that Jefferson’s revisionist concept of the Constitution, one favoring states’ rights over the federal government was the “originalist” view of that founding document.”
Despite the Constitution’s explicit reference to making federal law “the supreme law of the land,” Jefferson exploited lingering resentments over ratification to reassert the states’ supremacy over the federal government. Often working behind the scenes, even while serving as Vice President under President John Adams, Jefferson promoted each state’s right to nullify federal law.
“So, Jefferson, perhaps more than any figure in U.S. history, gets a pass for what he really was: a self-absorbed aristocrat who had one set of principles for himself and another for everybody else,” Parry wrote.
Beyond the glaring contradiction between his “all men are created equal” pronouncement and his racist views on African-American slaves, he also lectured others about the need for frugality and the avoidance of debt while he lived a life of personal extravagance and was constantly in arrears to creditors.
According to Parry, more evidence of Jefferson’s ambivalence is his famous phrase, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” That is one of Jefferson’s famous quotes repeated endlessly these days by both the right-wing Tea Party and would-be leftist revolutionaries.
“But Jefferson’s bravado was more a rhetorical flourish than a principle that he was ready to live or die by. In 1781, when he had a chance to put his own blood where his mouth was, when a Loyalist force led by the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold advanced on Richmond, Virginia, then-Gov. Jefferson fled for his life on the fastest horse he could find,” Parry wrote.
Nevertheless, Jefferson later built his political career by questioning the revolutionary commitment of Alexander Hamilton and even George Washington, who repeatedly did risk their lives in fighting for American liberty.
But what Jefferson’s many apologists have most desperately tried to obscure was his wretched record on race. Parry illustrates this with many stories about his personal, family and social life.
“As unpleasant as it may be for Americans who prefer, especially on July Fourth, to ponder the pleasant image of Jefferson as the aristocratic republican with a taste for fine art and a fondness for free-thinking, it is well past time to look at the Declaration’s author as the person he really was, America’s founding sociopath,” Parry concludes.
July 8, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Cuando hace dos años fue publicado un artículo del periodista Robert Parry sobre el debate entre Thomas Jefferson y Alexander Hamilton en los años iniciales de la existencia de los Estados Unidos de América, el saldo de la porfía entre esas dos importantes figuras de la historia norteamericana fue muy favorable a Jefferson. Pero el reciente gran éxito en Broadway del espectáculo musical “Hamilton” ha reabierto el entendimiento de los hechos, mostrando facetas poco difundidas sobre el lado oscuro de Jefferson.
Uno de los Padres Fundadores de Estados Unidos y principal autor de la Declaracion de Independencia (1776) de esa nación, Jefferson fue electo segundo vicepresidente de Estados Unidos (1797-1801) bajo el presidente John Adams y, en 1800, devino el tercer presidente del país.
Aunque Jefferson poseía numerosas plantaciones en las que laboraban cientos de esclavos, se le considera promotor de la democracia, el republicanismo y los derechos individuales, factores que motivaron a los colonos llegados a Nortemérica a romper con Gran Bretaña y crear la nueva nación.
Como es regla, el 4 de julio, aniversario de la proclamación de la independencia y fiesta nacional de los Estados Unidos, son muy difundidas las citas sobre los derechos humanos incertadas por Jefferson en la declaración de la independencia, en especial la frase que reza “todos los hombres son iguales.”
“Pero en realidad Jefferson no creía mucho en eso ni en otras muchas cosas que dijo y escribió durante toda su vida. El era, en realidad, un experto propagandista y un hipócrita de primera clase”, esclarece el periodista Robert Parry, en un artículo que publicó el reciente 4 de julio la revista Consortium News.
“Sin embargo, en lugar de proceder a un examen riguroso de las hipocresías de Jefferson, muchos estadounidenses insisten en salvaguardar su reputación. Desde la izquierda, para proteger los nobles principios contenidos en la declaración. A la derecha, por interés en subrayar los conceptos revisionistas de Jefferson insertos en la Constitución, en particular los que favorecen los derechos estaduales sobre las facultades del gobierno federal que él
consideraba nociones “originales” del documento fundacional. No obstante la referencia explícita en la Constitución que hace de la ley federal de “la Ley Suprema de la tierra”, Jefferson explota el sentimiento persistente en relación con la supremacía de los estados. A menudo trabajando detrás del telón, incluso cuando se desempeñaba como Vice Presidente en el gobierno del Presidente John Adams, Jefferson promovió el derecho de cada estado a anular la ley federal. Así, Jefferson, quizás más que cualquier otra figura en la historia de Estados Unidos, clasifica como lo que realmente fue: un aristócrata absorto en sí mismo que tenía un conjunto de principios para él y otro para todo el mundo, según Parry.
Más allá de la flagrante contradicción entre su pronunciamiento de que “todos los hombres son creados iguales” y sus puntos de vista racistas acerca de los esclavos afroamericanos, también está el hecho de profesaba para los demás la frugalidad y la evitación de deudas en tanto que él vivió una vida de extravagancia personal, siempre en mora con los acreedores.
Otra prueba de esta ambivalencia, según Parry, es su famosa frase de que “el árbol de la libertad debe actualizarse de vez en cuando con la sangre de patriotas y tiranos, que es su abono natural”. Ésta, una de las frases famosas de Jefferson, sirve por igual al derechista Tea Party y a izquierdistas aspirantes a ser revolucionarios.
Pero la bravuconería de Jefferson era más floreo retórico que principios por los que estuviera dispuesto a morir. En 1781, tuvo oportunidad de exponer su propia sangre en defensa de lo que proclamaba cuando una fuerza leal dirigida por un traidor avanzó sobre Richmond, Virginia, estado del que él era entonces gobernador y Jefferson optó por huir para salvar su vida en el caballo más rápido que pudo encontrar, asevera Parry.
Sin embargo, Jefferson más tarde construyó su carrera política cuestionando el compromiso revolucionario de Alexander Hamilton y hasta el de George Washington, quienes sí arriesgaron sus vidas en la lucha por la libertad americana repetidamente.
Pero lo que muchos apologistas de Jefferson más han tratado de ocultar es su pavoroso expediente de racismo, que Parry ilustra con diversos relatos acerca de su conducta personal, familiar y social.
“Por desagradable que pueda ser para los estadounidenses, que prefieren -sobre todo en el cuarto de julio- reflexionar sobre la agradable imagen de Jefferson como el republicano aristocrático con refinado gusto por el arte y aficionado al libre pensamiento, es ya hora de identificar al autor de la declaración de independencia como la persona realmente era: un sociópata fundador de los Estados Unidos” exhorta Robert Parry.
Julio 8 de 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Exclusive for Mérida´s Mexican newspaper POR ESTO!
“Brexit” has been defined by many as “a real political earthquake with national and international implications”.
It seemed a difficult fight for the separatists, because top English leaders –headed by their Prime Minister David Cameron– led the opposition to this demand promoted by the most conservative politicians.
The British political leadership was defeated and, with them, all of Europe, its allies and even the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who saw his position of remaining within the European Union (EU) his most loyal and powerful ally in all main issues for the US power defeated.
The result of the referendum on Brexit, which has affected all the world in various ways, has the countries of the Caribbean region in anxious expectation, torn between forecasts and preparations, because of the ties –both historical and current– that link them to the United Kingdom.
“No need to panic. Every effort will be made to ensure the UK market,” told Jamaican Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, told the media. At the same time, he acknowledged that the decision of the British electorate “is of importance to us in Caribbean tourism for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important is the fact that it will have an impact on arrivals of travelers and tourism throughout the region.”
As reported by the Italian digital magazine Travel Trade Caribbean (TTC) which specializes in tourism in the Caribbean region, “Bartlett recalled that the Caribbean is highly dependent on British visitors”. Therefore “it is important to consider the implications the decision will have.”
“Brexit creates a trade nightmare for the Caribbean,” said a headline the newspaper Bahama Tribune. It estimated that independent English-speaking countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will have, at most, two years to formulate a plan to address the serious consequences of the British departure from the EU”.
“Once Britain finally leaves the European Union, the twelve Caribbean countries will lose the commercial relationship structured through trade with the British market.”
“When Britain joined what was then the then European Economic Community in 1973, control of trade agreements were transferred to the Community. Since then, formal trade, aid and investment among the twelve Caribbean countries have gone through the EU. These relations were formalized successively at the Lomé Convention, the Cotonou Agreement and the Economic Agreement Partnership (EPA),” the newspaper added.
According to TTC, experts in the region believe that Brexit could push more Caribbean states to Washington in search of more security in sensitive financial and economic areas that might be safer than those offered by the traditional British links.
The Caribbean region certainly has strong historical and cultural ties with Britain. Considering this, the rector of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, warned the region in a message that “they must prepare for the impact of the breaking of the UK with the European Union” because “all aspects of life in the Caribbean will be negatively affected.”
Sir Hilary said in his statement, released by the official website of CARICOM, that the fragile economic recovery in the region is “death threatened”, and that the exit of Britain could lead to immediate regional strategic reactions, even before the Heads of Government meet in Guyana this July.
“Brexit is a long-term threat to the performance of CARICOM economies,” he said. He also predicted that “the commercial relations, immigration, tourism, financial relations, cultural commitments and foreign policy of the Caribbean will have a major redefinition, due to the reorganization of the CARICOM-United Kingdom commitments,” the expert added.
He urged the region to strengthen its internal policies and relations with the rest of the world.
Brexit has also had a strong impact on Puerto Rico –a Caribbean island which, like Cuba and the Philippines, was booty of the opportunistic war launched by the US against Spain at the end of the nineteenth century. Puerto Rico remains under Washington’s domination, despite the presence of strong national feelings –often conflicting– on their shared situation: most reflect a passionate love for their country, an obvious resentment against Washington, and a painful appreciation of the benefits that US citizenship can bring.
There, angry shouts have been heard clamoring for a “Prexit” for their country; that is, the exit of Puerto Rico from the United States.
July 5, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusivo para el diario POR ESTO! de Mérida, México.
El “Brexit” ha sido definido por muchos como “un auténtico terremoto político con repercusiones nacionales e internacionales”.
Parecía una lucha difícil para los separatistas porque los más altos líderes ingleses, capitaneados por su primer ministro David Cameron, encabezaron la oposición a esta demanda impulsada por los más conservadores. El liderazgo político británico fue derrotado y, con éste, toda Europa, sus aliados y hasta el presidente de los Estados Unidos Barack Obama, quien vio vencida su posición de conservar dentro de la Unión Europea (UE) a su más fiel y poderoso aliado en todos los temas más trascendentales para la potencia norteamericana.
El resultado del referendo sobre el Brexit, que ha repercutido en todo el mundo de diversas maneras, tiene a los países de la región del Caribe en tensa espera, debatiéndose entre pronósticos y preparativos, a causa de los lazos, tanto históricos como actuales, que la vinculan con el Reino Unido.
“No hay necesidad de pánico. Se hará todo lo posible para asegurar el mercado del Reino Unido”, dijo a los medios el ministro de Turismo de Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett, aunque reconoció que la decisión del electorado británico “es de importancia para nosotros los caribeños en el turismo por un número de razones, tal vez la más importante, el hecho de que tendrá un impacto en los arribos de viajeros y en el turismo en toda la región”.
Según ha informado la revista digital italiana Travel Trade Caribbean (TTC) especializada en el turismo en la región caribeña, “Bartlett recordó que el Caribe es muy dependiente de los visitantes británicos. Por tal motivo “es importante que consideremos las implicaciones que tendrá la decisión”.
“Brexit crea una pesadilla comercial para el Caribe”, comentó en un titular el periódico Tribune Bahama. Estimó que los países independientes de habla inglesa de la Comunidad del Caribe (CARICOM) “tienen, a lo sumo, dos años para formular un plan para hacer frente a las graves consecuencias de la salida británica”.
“Una vez que Gran Bretaña abandone finalmente la Unión Europea, los doce países del Caribe perderán toda relación comercial estructurada mediante el comercio con el mercado británico. Cuando Gran Bretaña se unió a la entonces Comunidad Económica Europea en 1973, se transfirió el control de los acuerdos comerciales a la Comunidad. Desde entonces, el comercio formal, de ayuda y de inversiones entre los doce países del Caribe ha pasado por la UE. Estas relaciones se formalizaron sucesivamente en la Convención de Lomé, el Acuerdo de Cotonú y con el Acuerdo de Asociación Económica (EPA) “, agregó el diario.
Según comenta TTC, los expertos en la región creen que Brexit podría impulsar a los estados del Caribe más hacia Washington con el fin de encontrar más seguridad en aspectos tan delicados como los financieros y económicos que sean más seguros que los que ofrecen los tradicionales vínculos británicos.
La región del Caribe tiene ciertamente fuertes lazos históricos y culturales con Gran Bretaña. Por ello, el rector de la Universidad de las Indias Occidentales (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles advirtió a la región en un mensaje que “debe prepararse para el impacto del rompimiento del Reino Unido con la Unión Europea “, ya que “todos los aspectos de la vida en el Caribe serán afectadosnegativamente”.
Sir Hilary expuso en su comunicado publicado por la página web oficial de CARICOM que la frágil recuperación económica de la región está amenazada “de muerte” y la salida de Gran Bretaña podría dar lugar a reacciones regionales estratégicas inmediatas, incluso antes de que los Jefes de Gobierno se reúnan en Guyana este mes de julio.
“Brexit es una amenaza a largo plazo para el desempeño de las economías de la CARICOM”, dijo. Pronosticó que “las relaciones comerciales, la inmigración, el turismo, las relaciones financieras, los compromisos culturales y la política exterior del Caribe tendrán una importante redefinición, por la reorganización de los compromisos de CARICOM-Reino Unido”, añadió el experto.
Instó a la región a fortalecer sus políticas internas y sus relaciones con el resto del mundo.
Brexit ha tenido igualmente una fuerte repercusión en Puerto Rico, isla caribeña que, al igual que Cuba y Filipinas fueron botines de la guerra oportunista lanzada por Estados Unidos contra España a finales del siglo XIX. Puerto Rico permanece bajo dominación de Washington pese a la notoriedad de fuertes sentimientos nacionales, muchas veces conflictivos, sobre su situación compartida: la gran mayoría reflejan un apasionado amor por su patria, un evidente resentimiento hacia Washington y una apreciación doliente de los beneficios que la ciudadanía estadounidense puede aportarles.
Allí se han escuchado gritos airados clamando por un “prexit” para su patria, o sea, la salida de Puerto Rico de Estados Unidos.
Julio 5 de 2016.