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A White Rose: Reflections on the 2019 Cuba Caravan

Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on A White Rose: Reflections on the 2019 Cuba Caravan


Fresno, CA – Exposing the true costs of war and militarism

A White Rose: Reflections on the 2019 Cuba Caravan


By Joshua Shurley

This summer I travelled somewhere that my government forbids me to go.  I just returned from the 30th Cuba Caravan “friendshipment” with the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). I committed this act of civil disobedience with more than thirty others as a delegation of IFCO’s “Pastors for Peace” from June to July 2019. Led by IFCO organizers Gail Walker and John Waller, the caravan was an amazing opportunity to learn about Cuba while also protesting the US government’s adversarial posture toward the island nation that is situated only ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Along with our open minds, we brought with us a people-to-people posture of love and solidarity with the Cuban people.

We were a diverse group. Half of the caravan was under the age of forty, including four teenagers. More than half were women and half were people of color. We came from fifteen US states, plus one caravanista from Canada, and two from Mexico who joined us in North American solidarity to protest the US blockade. Some were religious, representing several faith traditions, and some not religious at all. Half of the group were returning after having been on several previous caravans, and for half (including myself) it was our first time. Among us were educators, activists, healthcare providers, and citizens from various walks of life who all shared this common goal of seeing for ourselves the real Cuba.

Some of the highlights included: meetings with Cuba’s president and the parliamentary leadership; a visit to the Latin American Medical School in Havana (ELAM), which trains thousands of doctors at no cost provided they return to their home countries and work in poor and underserved communities (including several dozen American medical students that currently attend); a working exchange with an agricultural co-operative in Cienfuegos province; discussions with interfaith leaders among Cuba’s religious community and leaders from advocacy groups representing women, people of color, and children with special needs; visits to museums detailing Cuban life in the face of sixty years of US aggression; meeting with three gentlemen from the “Cuban Five,” who had once been political prisoners in the US federal prison system for over fifteen years and are now are considered national heroes; and a raucous welcoming party celebrated with a neighborhood CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution).

As a Veterans For Peace organizer, however, the most rewarding experience for me was our visit to Matanzas province, where we not only toured the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) Museum, but met and spent time with a group of Cuban veterans.

US veterans Bill Hill of Tucson, AZ, Christine Traxler of Seattle, WA, and Joshua Shurley of Fresno, CA, hold up the Veterans For Peace flag along with five Cuban war veterans (or ‘combatantes’) gathered at an exchange in Matanzas Province, Cuba.
June 28, 2019.

We heard from five combatantes who had fought against the CIA-backed forces during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, as well as some that had served in combat in Africa against Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s. Afterward, three of us on the caravan who are US veterans were invited to say a few words. We spoke of the true costs of war and militarism, the insanity of Endless War, as well as the excitement of seeing what is possible when a nation’s power is used to uplift its people and protect them from the coarse and destructive nature of imperial hegemony.

The hostility and violence that the United States has wrought on the Cuban people for six decades is unparalleled. Not just the long history of attacking Cuban soveriegnty dating back to the US invasion during the Spanish-American War and the subsequent 1901 Platt Amendment,or the hundreds of assassination attempts on Castro over the years, or the economic warfare of the US embargo, but decades of dirty tricks, from perpetual anti-Cuban propaganda to outright biological warfare that have been a constant. We witnessed how the Cuban agricultural, educational, and healthcare sectors are able to succeed despite the destructive consequences of the blockade. Today in fact, people from many places, “from Haiti to Venezuela, from Angola to Palestine… have reached out and embraced this revolutionary solidarity.

I was excited to witness the everyday reality in yet another place deemed ‘bad’ by the US government, where all is not as we have been taught, begging the question: What is it they don’t want us to see? Perhaps it is a place where healthcare is considered a human right, where a country that’s not stamped with the approval of American ‘democracy’ is actually far more democratic in terms of people’s everyday lives. All of this occurs in the face of Cuba’s dire economic conditions that are not a result of the amorphous ‘evil’ called socialism, but as a result of the illegal and immoral blockade imposed by the US government: an act of war!

The four caravanistas from Fresno, California (Josh Shurley, Anoush Ekperian-Hadden, Leni Reeves, and Rafael Avitia) at the Che Gueverra Mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba. July 2, 2019.

In Cuba I did not see a perfect place free of criticisms. There are certainly problems and complexities being worked out (an example of which is the new constitution being enacted after substantial democratic involvement from the Cuban people in ways Americans can only dream of). Cuba’s unique kind of freedom and sustainability is something one should experience for themselves.

We heard time and again things like, “we love you, we welcome the American people–we know you are not your government”. I must admit, if a powerful country was doing to my children what US policies do to Cuban families I am not sure I could be so forgiving. But Cubans are a strong people, resolute against empire, but also strong in maintaining a posture of peace and friendship.

I will end with a few lines that I think encapsulates the beautiful spirit of the Cuban people as quoted by one of its national heroes, Jose Marti. Marti’s famous nineteenth century poem is called The White Rose (translated to English):

[ I Cultivate a White Rose ]

I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.
And for the cruel one whose blows
Break the heart by which I live,
Thistle nor thorn do I give:
For him, too, I have a white rose.

Thank you, Cuba, for the white rose and for your hand in friendship. A few other caravanistas have recorded or written pieces that expand on our experiences in Cuba that I invite people to read. Also, I urge anyone reading this to attend an IFCO event near  you and consider attending one of the annual caravans, or support someone else who can make the trip. Amor y solidaridad, con el pueblo de Cuba!

Meeting with the President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canal in Havana. As appeared in The Granma, June 25, 2019.

Cuba is a safe country, but U.S. continues its attempts to manipulate reality

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Latest News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cuba is a safe country, but U.S. continues its attempts to manipulate reality

Cuba is a safe country, but U.S. continues its attempts to manipulate reality

Yesterday, July 25, Cuba demanded that the U.S. government cease its manipulation of alleged health problems reported by its diplomatic staff in Havana, as a pretext to impose aggressive measures to harm our country, economy, and people

Photo: Juvenal Balán

Yesterday, July 25, Cuba demanded that the U.S. government cease its manipulation of alleged health problems reported by its diplomatic staff in Havana, as a pretext to impose aggressive measures to harm our country, economy, and people.
In statements to the press, Johana Tablada, the Foreign Ministry’s director for the United States, described a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, published in the American Medical Association Journal, which compared images of the brains of U.S. diplomatic personnel who reported health problems during their stays on the island, with those of a control group, and concluded that differences between the two exist.
Tablada recalled that in March of 2018, in the same journal, an article was published that described the clinical condition of the diplomats, yet, on this occasion, following the publication of the new article, the corporate media has immediately responded with full coverage.
“Two years later, after much speculation and little information or cooperation, not a single reason has appeared to justify the closing of consular services, the expulsion of Cuban diplomats in Washington, deceptive travel warnings, and all the unjust measures adopted by the U.S. using the pretext that its functionaries may face some kind of danger in Cuba.”
She noted that these measures have had a significant human cost to our population, now obliged to travel to third countries to seek U.S. visas to visit relatives, or participate in professional events, with no guarantee that they will actually be granted – despite the fact that specialized agencies in the U.S. and Cuba, such as the FBI and the Directorate of Criminal and Criminal Investigation, agree that there is no evidence of any kind of attack on diplomats in Havana.
Tablada denounced U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton and the State Department, which in their public documents have maintained the irresponsible use of the term “attacks”, which deliberately “implies malicious intentions and has never been substantiated.”
She stressed that Cuba is a safe country for diplomats from the U.S. or any other country, and for the millions of travelers from the entire world who visit Cuba every year, and reiterated the Cuban government’s desire to develop a respectful dialogue and cooperate on this and other issues for the benefit of both peoples.

Cuba does not betray its friends or its principles

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on Cuba does not betray its friends or its principles

The world will see what we are capable of doing and the world will join us in our resistance

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on The world will see what we are capable of doing and the world will join us in our resistance

The world will see what we are capable of doing and the world will join us in our resistance

Speech delivered by President Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, during the national commemoration in Bayamo of the 66th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons

“I am clear that, today, I speak in the name of the grateful, those who face the challenge of driving the country forward.” Photo: Estudios Revolución

Speech delivered by Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, during the national commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, held in the Plaza de la Patria, Bayamo, Granma, July 26, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript / GI translation)

Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee;

Compañero Machado;

Comandantes de la Revolución;

Compañero Lazo;

Heroic people of Granma: (Applause)

Before the historic generation that accompanies us I will deliver the central remarks at this event, in the same place where the Comandante en Jefe, on the same date in 2006, presided and closed for the last time a National Rebellion Day commemoration.

When the leadership of our Party charged me with speaking here today, I recalled that moment and thought about the significance of this tradition that began 60 years ago. On a journey in the opposite direction of ours, thousands of campesinos on horseback took Havana’s José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, with Camilo Cienfuegos in the lead. At least two of them climbed the light poles, as if they were palms, to greet Fidel.

Those guajiros, with ther machetes in hand, showed the world the most authentic face of a Revolution of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble.

With that event, July 26 commemorative activities began, a date that hate bloodied and love made a celebration and tribute to the Centenary Generation’s youth.

I asked myself how, and in whose name, I should speak today, taking into account that in these acts, traditionally, two speeches are given: one by someone from the province hosting the celebration and one by a historical leader.

Compañero Federico Hernández, first Party secretary in the province spoke in the name of Granma’s people. The central remarks of all previous commemorations have always been the responsibility of Fidel, Raúl, Ramiro Valdés, or Machado Ventura.

This may seem like a detail, but it is significant that the protagonists of history, alive, lucid, active in their political leadership delegated to the new generation of leaders in the country the task of presenting the central remarks in one of the most important commemorations in revolutionary history. (Applause)

I am clear that, today, I speak in the name of the grateful, those who face the challenge of driving a country forward – as Miguel Barnet’s poem goes – conscious of the extraordinary history we inherited and the commitment to never fail the homeland’s heroes, or the people of our birth.

I say this at the beginning, so you understand that, at some momemt, as usually happens, the emotion may carry off a word or some significant name.

To Raúl, to Ramiro, and all the combatents who are here with us: Thank you for your confidence, for your example and your legacy. (Applause)

History! What an uncommon weight history has in our lives! It is only right to say so here, where this history was first expressed 151 years ago.

Can anyone who feels and says they are Cuban pass through La Demajagua, through Yara, Manzanillo, Jiguaní, Dos Ríos, La Plata, Guisa, or Bayamo, through their streets, their plazas, without feeling that history is judging us?

Who can cross the Cauto River, climb the hills of the Sierra Maestra, or dip their feet in the water at Las Coloradas without trembling with respect and admiration for the heroism?

“The Moncada program, brilliantly presented by the young Fidel Castro in his self-defense statement, speaks clearly of the reasons that led to the attack that July 26th.” Photo: Endrys Correa Vaillant

Who can read “History will absolve me” and forget Fidel’s words explaining why the military base in Bayamo was chosen for one of the assaults? I quote:

“Bayamo was attacked precisely to situate our advance forces on the Cauto River. It can never be forgotten that this province – the reference is to the former province of Oriente – that today has a million and a half inhabitants, is no doubt the most combatative and patriotic of Cuba. The province that kept the independence struggle alive for 30 years, and contributed the most blood, sacrifice, and heroism.

The air of that glorious feat still wafts in Oriente, at dawn, when the roosters crow like clarions playing reveille to wake the soldiers, and the sun rises brightly on the steep mountainsides, every day seems that it will be another Yara or Baire.”

Thus, to greet you today, I say, the glorious people of Granma.

This province, honored with the name of the boat that brought to Cuban lands 82 of its sons, intent upon being free or martyrs in 1956, is also the cradle of our nationality, our national anthem, of the Revolution began by Céspedes in 1868 and the Rebel Army brought to our days with Fidel at the helm.

“It is no accident, that located in Granma is the second garrison assaulted that morning, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, in Bayamo, that today is a museum park bearing the honorable name of Ñico López, one of the leaders of the action in this city – Raúl’s great friend, in whose office the photo of a boy with big black glasses occupies a place of honor.

Ñico is an inspiration on a day like today in Bayamo. Our children and the children of their chidren must know the history of this young man, descendant of Galician immigrants, who wasn’t from Bayamo, but rather Havana, who was obliged to leave school as a boy and work to help his family; who was one of the organizers of the actions 66 years ago and managed to save his life, fighting in the streets of this city. Who, once back in the capital, sought protection in an embassy and emigrated to Guatemala in the turbulent times of Jacobo Árbenz. There he met Dr. Ernesto Guevara and, the story goes, it was Ñico who gave him the nickname by which he is known around the world: Che.

Ñico was killed just hours after the Granma landing, also in this province’s territory, but he has not been absent a minute from the revolutionary work to which he gave himself with such passion and confidence in victory, for which he suffered hunger and hardships of all kinds, without ever losing his enthusiasm or smile.

It is strength that several important institutions, like the refinery in Regla or the Party’s advanced studies school, bear his name, not that of the Antonio López, but rather Ñico. In the four letters of this family nickname there is a message of camaraderie, boundless friendship, as one the Centenary Generation’s values.

They were brothers ­ Fidel, Raúl, Almeida, Ramiro, those men and women who put the nation first, who thought of the country as a family.

We came from them, and it is very important that our tributes, annual or daily, not be enclosed within an act, in verses or a few words about dates.

The Revolution now needs us to unleash a great battle for our defense and economy, to defeat the enemy’s plan to destroy us and asphyxiate us, and at the same time that we strengthen spirituality in our people, civicism, decency, solidarity, social discipline, and a sense of public service.

Because this is one of the great legacies of our forbearers, those of the Centenary Generation. And because there will be no lasting progress if the social fabric is unraveled morally.

Let us briefly review the events of 66 years ago. The July 26, 1953, actions did not achieve the objectives established by the assailants. The surprise factor was lost, not everyone was able to escape the repression that was violent and cruel.

Men who were photographed alive, like José Luis Tasende, with only his leg wounded, was brutally tortured and later reported as killed in combat.

The oral and graphic testimony that historians and journalists collected over the years is still hard – the most unbearable is imagining Abel’s eyes in the hands of his assassins.

“Despite the pain, the physical loss of those beings ‘from another world’  – from the song “Los elegidos” – the survivors of that epic feat, guided by Fidel, never complained, or went to a corner to mourn their fallen or murdered companions. They created a movement with a liberatory program that fully maintains its relevance, and turned the events into motivation for other battles: the small motor that drives the larger.

Five years, five months, and five days after the assaults on the garrisons in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo, denying the alleged failure of 53, the victory of 59 would come. The setback became a victory.

An explanation of the miracle of a group of men defeating one of the best equipped armies on the continent can only be found in the outstanding values ​​of the Centenary Generation, their sense of justice, loyalty to a cause, commitment to their word, confidence in victory, unwavering faith in the people, and unity as a principle.

During the recent discussion of the National Symbols Law, much was said about this strength. Unity has been represented in our shield, since foundational times, by the tight bundle of sticks, rising from the bottom of the back part, like the nation’s spinal column.

Our parents and teachers taught us that it is easy to break sticks separately, but impossible to break a bundle tightly united.

When we call for thinking as a country, we are thinking of the physical strength of a bundle of sticks that can be easily broken separately.

It is up to us to think for ourselves, because no one else is going to do it for us.

The giant with the seven-league boots that travels the skies engulfing worlds, has for some time ceased to be a visionary metaphor of Martí’s to become a cruel reality of what awaits us, if through ingenuity or ignorance, we underestimate or believe that the plans for the reconquest of Our America – undertaken by the empire with the flag of the Monroe Doctrine on the mast of their pirate ship – are not for us.

Venezuela under siege, robbed, literally assaulted with the approval or complicit silence of other powerful nations, and what is worse, with the shameful collaboration of Latin American governments, is today the most dramatic scene of the cruelty of the decadent empire’s policies that combine the work of the world’s policeman with that of the supreme court of the global village.

THE OAS, increasingly more discredited and servile, pulls out the red carpet for a military intervention. The Zone of Peace that CELAC approved in Havana to protect the region from the violence of conventional war, barely survives as a result of the will of honorable nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

And also because of the intelligent, heroic, exemplary resistance of Venezuela’s civic-military alliance, its government, and people to the non-conventional war, with which new methods to subjugate us are being rehearsed every day.

With absolute disregard for what was once the most sacred conquest of the community of nations on the planet: international law, the current U.S. administration lives threatening everyone, even its traditional allies and attacking even its most unconditional servants.

“Our parents and teachers taught us that it is easy to break sticks separately, but impossible to break a bundle tightly united.” Photo: Endrys Correa Vaillant

The entire world knows it. The United Nations General Assembly, whose resolutions the U.S. ignores, recognizes this.

We have suffered for 60 years, several generations of Cuban men and women have been prevented from building a nation tailored to our dreams.

And what is the crime for which we are punished?

Our parents had the audacity to end the abuse and recover what had been taken from the nation, over and over again, for centuries. First, the land, bought by Yankee corporations at the ridiculous price of six dollars per hectare, at the end of the long, bloody 30-year war that ended with a pact between the feisty emerging empire and the old decaying metropolis at the crossroads of centuries. The colony was replaced by a neo-colony, by intervention.

Why the Agrarian Reform? This was the question asked in a Survey of Cuba Agricultural Workers conducted by the Catholic University Students Association in 1956-1957, a study we have dusted off in the wake of the Helms-Burton.

“…in the country, especially agricultural workers are living in difficult-to-believe conditions of stagnation, misery, and desperation,” the authors of the survey asserted.

One of these, Dr. José Ignacio Lasaga recognized, at the time, that in all of his travels in Europe, the Americas, and Africa, very few times had he seen peasants living as poorly as those in Cuba.

It must be said that working the land did not mean owning it. When those undernourished, illiterate, desperate agricultural workers were asked what they needed most, practically all asked only for work. This right was not even guaranteed six months of the year.

The degree of material and social poverty in the countryside impressed the researchers so much that they stated in their conclusions:

“It is time that our nation cease being the private estate of a few powerful. We have great hope that within a few years, Cuba will not be the property of a few, but truly the homeland of all Cubans…”

The Constitution of 1940, achieved practically through the bloodshed and fire of revolutionaries of the era, proposed land reform, but a law did not arrive until May of 1959.

Until then, our land was the feudal property of U.S. companies in cahoots with corrupt politicians and protected by the armed forces under the command of dictator Fulgencio Batista, who in 1958, had different levels of ownership of nine sugar mills, a bank, three airlines, several radio stations, a television broadcaster, newspapers, magazines, a construction materials factory, a shipyard, a tourist venue, several buildings in urban and rural areas, etc, according to the book

Los propietarios de Cuba 1958.

The investigation states that little more than 500 people owned the country. Most of them fled after the triumph of the Revolution, abandoning their ill-gotten properties obtained via the abuse of power and countless crimes by Batista henchmen and accomplices of the dictator.The Revolution confiscated the properties of these embezzlers. Another story is that of the nationalizations, a right of all sovereign nations recognized in international law – hence its name – in the interest of the public good. A law based on the 1940 Constitution was also approved, which provided for compensation, to be negotiated by Cuba with other governments – as nationalizations are negotiated – but not the United States, which refused to do so, confident that they could regain everything in short order by force.The Agrarian Reform Law was the first major nationalization and the greatest act of social justice demanded by the people. And it was also the breaking point, the crossing of the Rubicon, as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz said.

Those who believe themselves to be the owners of Cuba, refusing to lose her, have since them unleashed an undeclared war that has seen brief pauses, but has never ended.

To confuse public opinion and give this confrontation a legality it does not possess, the Helms-Burton Act was fabricated, a legal invention that combines the empire’s desires for dominance over our destinies with the revenge of those nostalgic for the Batista dictatorship.

The current claimants of properties, that 60 years ago finally passed to the hands of the people, come from the immoral and antipatriotic beings who sacked the country.

Incapable of doing so themselves, the thieves of this era, hide today behind a law with absolutely no power in Cuba to recover confiscated property that was obtained through embezzlement or abandoned in fear of popular justice.

Let me warn them that the descendants of that Mambi cavalry and campesinos who took the Plaza in 1959 to greet the victorious Revolution, inherited the land and the machetes of their ancestors, and would not hesitate to wield them sharply against those who attempt to snatch the land the Revolution awarded them.(Applause)

No, we do not understand each other, nor will we ever come to an understanding with those who intend to return Cuba to the state of things that in 1953 led the best of Cuba’s youth to assault military garrisons with more moral authority than weapons.

The Moncada program, brilliantly presented by the young Fidel Castro in his self-defense statement, speaks clearly of the reasons that led to the attack that July 26.

“The problem of the land, the problem of industrialization, the housing problem, the problem of unemployment, the problem of education, the problem of the people’s health, I have thus cited the six points, the solutions to which we would have directed our efforts, along with the conquest of public freedoms and political democracy.”

“Perhaps this presentation appears cold and theoretical, if one does not know of the frightening tragedy our country is living in terms of these six areas, in addition to the most humiliating political oppression.”

Only a Revolution could change the country’s panorama, which four years after the assaults had deteriorated so much that, in 1957, a religious organization, as I mentioned, would call for radical, definitive change in the country.

Cuba changed, but not the powerful neighbor’s efforts to possess it, with the enthusiastic collaboration of hawks and the servile anti-patriots in South Florida.

They cannot take possession of Cuba, as Maceo warned, and decided to pursue us, corral us, asphyxiate us. This persecution that all our commercial and financial transaction face has escalated these last few years and months to reach new extraterritorial, illegal, and criminal heights.

“I am going to provide a recent figure, for the world’s consideration: in this last year alone, from March 2018 through April of 2019, the blockade caused us losses valued at 4.343 billion dollars.

I note that the fact does not reflect the impact produced by the latest measures of the current administration that limit travel licenses, prohibit cruise ship dockings, and reinforce financial restrictions to impact tourism directly and associated activities that benefit the growing non-state sector of the economy.

These restrictions and financial persecution of Cuba are the principal cause of the shortages of foodstuffs and fuel, and difficulties in obtaining replacement parts indispensable to maintenance of the National Electro-energetic System, that has been affected these past few weeks and months, and which we are confronting creatively, with the iron will to resist and triumph.

After six decades of harassment of the simplest Cuba transaction, accumulated losses have reached 922,630,000,000 dollars, taking into account the depreciation of green bills as compared to gold.

The siege is being increasingly tightened around our country, around Venezuela, around Nicaragua, and any other nation that refuses to accept the imperial plan for its destiny.

“Today, before the people of Cuba and the world, we denounce the U.S. administration for beginning to act more aggressively to prevent the delivery of fuel to Cuba.

With these cruel, extraterritorial blockade actions, today they attempt to prevent, by any means, the arrival to Cuban ports of tankers, brutally threatening shipping companies, governments of countries where these ships are registered, and insurance companies.

“The genocidal plan is to increasingly affect the population’s quality of life, its progress, and even its hopes, with the objective of hurting Cuban families in daily life, in their basic needs, and accuse the Cuban government of being ineffective. They are seeking a social explosion.

“How little they know us! When will they finally understand that the heroic Cuban family is capable of facing, and resisting with dignity, the worse siege, and continue loving each other, despite distances, because nothing, no one, can divide us?


They want to cut off the lights, the water, and even the air to extract political concessions from us. They don’t even attempt to hide it. They publicly announce funding for subversion in Cuba, invent false, hypocritical pretexts to add us to their spurious lists and justify the tightening of the blockade.

In utter cynicism, they resort to blackmail.

Ignorant of history and the Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy principles, they propose to negotiate a possible reconciliation with us, in exchange for abandoning the course chosen and defended by our people. They suggest betraying friends, throwing 60 years of dignity into the trash bin.“No, imperialist gentlemen, we do not understand each other.


Cuba, which knows the ethical and political distance between this U.S. administration and the noblest citizens of that country, has not renounced its stated goal of building a civilized relationship with the United States, but it must be based on mutual respect for our deep differences.“Any proposal that departs from respect among equals does not interest us.


And as for the U.S. people, they are always welcome in Cuba. Our doors are open. Come, see, and get to know the reality of the country you are not allowed to visit, in the name of freedom, an essential human right that, they say, is lacking in Cuba and abounds there.

For our part, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted by pressure or threats. There are too many challenges to overcome and we are going to concentrate on these. In the very first place, on the economic and military invulnerability of the country, legal ordering, the removal of any internal or external obstacle that persists – be it bureaucracy, insensibility, or corruption, which are unacceptable in socialism.

And for imperialism, “not even a tiny bit,” as Che said, and a permanent lesson of the Revolution. (Applause)

We will take these messages of Cuba’s unwavering political principles to the Sao Paulo Forum in Caracas this week, to strengthen the integration of left forces and their mobilization against the imperial offensive intended to break us, divide us, and confront us.

Dear compatriots:

What we have found during our tours of this province and heard in the speech by your first secretary, Federico Hernández, are important economic and social gains. The province deserves to host this event, given its undeniable advances. (Applause)

I emphasize principally that 80% of arable land is under cultivation, and the progress made at agricultural poles in municipal self-sufficiency, given the contribution they can make to replacing imports in lines like rice, a basic food in the Cuban family’s diet, But – there are always buts – authorities in the territory recognize that, even with the reaching of important records in production, you are far from your potential.

This is a common reality throughout the country, in which the battle for development is an intense, tiring race with obstacles of all kinds. The first and determinant one being the U.S. blockade; and the second, is the existence of practices that are incompatible with socialism, which we have noted in comments before economists, intellectuals and artists, and the National Assembly.

I will not tire of insisting on the duty to think as a country, of banishing self-interest, vanity, indifference, shoddy work, and the “It can’t be done.”

Let us stop believing and stating that the blame is someone else´s, without looking first at what each one of us is doing, creating, and contributing.

Considering the panorama of brutal persecution of our financial operations that I described previously, we all have the duty to care for the costly investments in transportation, industry, communications, and other areas that are underway, as “the apples of our eyes.”

To pretend that mentalities are transformed all at once, at the maximum speed of our trains, may sound like a utopian dream, if we did not believe in the people and their moral reserves, and aspirations for growth with beauty.

But these changes will not be pulled from a hat. We are not magicians.

Our Council of Ministers does not work with illusions. It is up to us to direct, and direct well, the scarce resources available to guarantee the equitable and fair distribution of goods produced.

We are promoting efficient and competitive national production; exports and the replacement of imports; foreign investment; productive chains; the use of science, technology, and our university’s talent to innovate; electronic government; and communication as a fundamental element in the battle to eliminate obstacles and tackle a piece, everyday, as big as possible, of the problems.

A level of response can be noted that is exciting, but it is not enough. Circumstances force us today, as they have always forced us, to insist on a rate of progress that is beyond our goals, to demand, to control, to banish routine and determine with facts whether the formula we used yesterday is effective, or must be updated.

In a timely fashion, we must strongly sanction those who do not understand that defending the country today means caring for and protecting scarce material resources.

If the government is dedicated to improving the lives of our citizens, the government and citizens must prevent abuse, dirtying, or neglect of what cost so much to acquire.Given the old dilemma of raising wages and expecting productive results to cover these expenditures, we decided to raise them. Not once, but several times the amount previously paid.Nor will we wait until the end of the year to begin application of this measure, as popular and dependent it is on what we are all capable of doing that translates into growth.But, in order to sustain this and all possible social benefits, it is necessary to produce more and increase the quality of services.New measures, proposed by the people, should be approved in the coming weeks and months.

“Going for more is not a slogan. It is a translation of the government’s language in response to the enemy’s policy: With those who want to steal our land, our homes, our schools, hospitals, childcare centers, beaches, ports, and airports… there can be no understanding!

It is the concrete expression in practice of our will not to be distracted by pressure or threats, and resist creatively without giving up on development.“The hard years imposed by imperialism’s seige cannot hide truths like fists under a cloak of disgrace,” wrote the beloved intellectual Graziella Pogolotti in his most recent article, where she also reminds us, “Because the struggle is not over, it is always the 26th.” (Applause)Yes, July 26th will always be a great inspiration. And thinking as a country, I want to take up again a slogan from my years of work in the provinces, when we called upon the people, motivated by the significance of this date:

Let us all work to make every day in the almanac a 26th; every month in the year, a July; and every commitment a victorious Moncada!

The world will see what we are capable of doing, and the world will join us in our resistance. It is time to make a new and urgent call to conscience.

We can start or finish this appeal, with some verses by someone who always said yes to the Revolution: Roberto Fernández Retamar, essayist and poet, a giant intellectual who has just left us. Let us explain with his beautiful words what we are, and what we are doing, despite the fires and the fences. In his poem “A quien pueda interesar,” Roberto wrote:Throughout the entire Island, we are fewer than those
who daily wander a big city.We are fewer: a handful of menon a strip of landwhipped by the sea. Butwe have built a forgotten joy.

For this happiness we continue building: We’re going for more! Because we are all Cuba! We are continuity!

Homeland or Death!



McGovern and Leahy Press Releases on Freedom to Travel Bills

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on McGovern and Leahy Press Releases on Freedom to Travel Bills


Leahy To Introduce Bill To Restore Americans’ Freedom To Travel To Cuba

. . . Heads a bipartisan coalition of 46 senators to end failed policy of isolation

(THURSDAY, July 25, 2019) — Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined by 45 Senate cosponsors, on Monday, July 29th, will introduce the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2019.  The bill would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.  Identical legislation is being introduced today in the House by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.).

Specifically, the bipartisan legislation ends restrictions under laws enacted in 1996 and 2000 that prevent American citizens and legal residents from travelling to Cuba – restrictions that do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world except North Korea.  The bill would also end prohibitions on travel-related transactions, including banking transactions.

Leahy said:  “The Trump Administration’s policy toward Cuba is completely at odds with its policies toward other countries.  It is more in line with what one might expect of a totalitarian dictatorship.  Freedom to travel is a right.  It is fundamental.  It is part of who we are as Americans.  We travel.  We explore.  We meet people.  We share our values.  We build relationships with people we agree with and disagree with.  Americans overwhelmingly support expanding travel to Cuba.  The federal government should not be telling Americans where they can or cannot travel, especially to a tiny country just 90 miles from Florida.

Leahy continued:  “Because of the Trump Administration’s restrictions on travel, the number of Americans visiting Cuba this year is projected to plummet by half.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans who want to travel to Cuba are being denied that right by their own government.  It is they, and Cuba’s struggling private entrepreneurs who depend on American customers, who are penalized.  The restrictions that this bill would end are a failed vestige of the Cold War.  They are neither justified nor in our national security or economic interests.  If we don’t engage with Cuba, China and Russia will – in fact they already are.  While this bill doesn’t lift the embargo, it at least would restore to Americans the freedom to travel they are entitled to in a democracy.”


McGovern Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to End Cuba Travel Ban

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Washington, July 25, 2019 | 0 comments
Legislation Would Remove All Restrictions on U.S. Travel to Cuba

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WASHINGTONToday, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, introduced bipartisan legislation alongside Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) in the House of Representatives to lift all restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.

Full Text of Bill Available Here (PDF)

The legislation, which was cosponsored by Kathy Castor (D-FL), Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (R-AR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Darin LaHood (R-IL), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), would also lift restrictions on transactions in conjunction with such travel, such as banking transactions.

Last month, the Trump administration further cracked down on travel to Cuba implementing regulatory changes to ban “people-to-people” travel, the most common legal method of American travel to Cuba for non-family visits. The administration’s changes also bar all U.S. cruise vessels from entering Cuba.

“Every single American should have the freedom to travel as they see fit. Yet the travel ban deliberately punishes the American people – our very best ambassadors – and prevents them from engaging directly with the Cuban people,” said Congressman McGovern. “It is a Cold-War relic that serves only to isolate the United States from our allies and partners in the region, while strengthening the control of ideological hardliners in both countries.  It’s time for us to listen to the majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Cubans who do not support the travel ban, and get rid of it once and for all.”

The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000 codified a ban on tourist travel to Cuba for U.S. nationals. It is the only country in the world for which the U.S. maintains a statutory travel ban. Currently, Americans can travel to China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Russia, Iran and Syria – each with human rights records arguably as bad or worse than Cuba’s.  Until just recently, Americans could even travel to North Korea.

Ironically, continued efforts to further restrict the right of Americans to travel to Cuba have had devastating consequences for Cuba’s fledgling private sector – the very people the United States aims to help. Until these harsher measures were imposed, Cuba’s private sector had grown to be approximately 30 percent of Cuban economy.

A companion bill will also be introduced on Monday in the Senate by a broad bipartisan group of 46 senators led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Legislation to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions Introduced in Congress

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on Legislation to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions Introduced in Congress

Cigar Aficionado, July 29, 2019

Legislation To Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions Introduced In Congress

Legislation To Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions Introduced In Congress


A bipartisan group of senators, led by Patrick Leahy (D-VT), today introduced legislation that would lift all restrictions on travel between the United States and Cuba. The bill, known as the “Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2019,” has 45 co-sponsors, among them four Republicans.

The bill is identical to one that was introduced in the House of Representatives last week by Massachusetts Democrat James McGovern and Minnesota Republican Tom Emmer.

“It is indefensible that the federal government restricts American citizens and legal residents from traveling to a tiny country 90 miles away that poses no threat to us,” Leahy said in a statement. “It is a vindictive, discriminatory, self-defeating vestige of a time long passed.”

Since the end of the Eisenhower administration, the U.S. government has imposed various restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba—ranging from an outright ban, to limitations on money that could be spent on the island, to a prohibition on vacationing in Cuba—intended to sanction and isolate the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro. As a component of the U.S. trade embargo, the travel restrictions were codified into law as part of the Helms-Burton legislation passed in 1996.

Today, Cuba is the only nation in the world where statutory restrictions limit the rights of U.S. citizens to travel abroad.

As President Obama moved to establish a policy of normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba, he used his presidential authority to open up exemptions to the travel restrictions. His administration lifted restrictions imposed by the George W. Bush administration on family travel to Cuba, permitting Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island whenever they want. Obama expanded categories of “purposeful travel” to Cuba—among them the popular “people-to-people” travel for individuals and tour groups. In 2016, Obama authorized the restoration of commercial air flights and cruise ship visits to Cuba.

Since then, more than 3 million travelers from the U.S. have visited the island. Last year, more than half of the approximately 620,000 visitors arrived via Carnival Cruise liners, Royal Caribbean and other cruise ships.

In June, however, the Trump administration banned cruise liners from docking in Cuba, immediately curtailing the ability of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who had already booked trips from traveling to the island. As part of Trump’s continuing effort to roll back Obama’s policy of positive engagement, the administration also eliminated “people-to-people” tours, sowing significant confusion among potential travelers as to how they can legally visit Cuba in the future.

“As a result, the number of Americans traveling to Cuba this year is projected to plummet by half, due to the policies of their own government,” according to Sen. Leahy. “And the thousands of private Cuban entrepreneurs, the taxi drivers, the Airbnb renters, restaurants, and shops that depend on American customers are struggling to survive.”

The proposed “Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2019” would effectively lift all restrictions on traveling to Cuba, where and how much money U.S. citizens can spend there, and even taking an actual vacation to the island, which is currently banned by law. It states that “the President may not prohibit or otherwise restrict travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel.”

Ending all restrictions on travel to Cuba, the legislation advises, would “pose no threat to the security of the United States,” and would “advance United States national interests in the hemisphere; and foster free enterprise and democracy in Cuba.”

“Every single American should have the freedom to travel as they see fit. Yet the travel ban deliberately punishes the American people—our very best ambassadors—and prevents them from engaging directly with the Cuban people,” noted Rep. McGovern. “It’s time for us to listen to the majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Cubans who do not support the travel ban, and get rid of it once and for all.”

Anti-imperialist Conference of Solidarity for Democracy and against Neoliberalism Havana, November 1-3/2019

Posted by on Jul 19, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on Anti-imperialist Conference of Solidarity for Democracy and against Neoliberalism Havana, November 1-3/2019

Please see below.  The NNOC will send more information including possible group travel as details become available


III Call Anti-imperialist Meeting of Solidarity, for Democracy and against Neoliberalism.
Havana, November 1-3/2019.


The Anti-imperialist Meeting of Solidarity, for Democracy and against Neoliberalism will take place in Havana from November 1 to 3 of this year, organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions (CTC), along with the Cuban Chapter of Social Movements and the Continental Conference for Democracy and against Neoliberalism.


The meeting in Havana expresses the Cuban Revolution´s decision to respond to the demand of the political, social left-wing and the Solidarity Movement with Cuba that our country continues to be a meeting point of the peoples struggles in our continent.

We have proposed the event to be a real contribution to confronting the current counterrevolutionary offensive of US imperialism, to the search for the widest possible unity of the leftist forces in the region and to strengthening militant solidarity with the just causes defended by the peoples. In the current political situation, marked by the aggressiveness of the Trump administration, new ways will be sought to reinforce solidarity with these causes in the world, mainly in our region.

In November, a heterogeneous representation of the United States and Canada will also be present in Havana, friends who have always been on the side of justice and who since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution have been in solidarity with us. We will also have important intellectuals, committed to the liberating struggles of the peoples.

The growing hostility against Cuba and other countries in the region, the judicial persecution of progressive leaders, the imposition of recycled neoliberalism, are distinctive features of the current North American policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean that awaken the fighting capacity of Latin American and Caribbean peoples.

In the same way, the mobilization for the occasion of hundreds of social fighters, political leaders, intellectuals, peasants, women, indigenous people, solidarity activists, among others; will constitute a formidable encouragement to the heroic resistance of the Cuban people, determined to defeat the Helms Burton Act, the blockade and to carry forward the updating of its economic and social development model.

Faced with pessimism and the claudication of some, the participants in the anti-imperialist solidarity meeting will respond with the strengthening of the struggle moral and the deep conviction that the Latin America and the Caribbean peoples will continue marching towards their second and definitive independence.

The Organizing Committee of the Anti-imperialist Meeting of Solidarity, for Democracy and against Neoliberalism, calls for an event that highlights the Cubans´ best traditions of hospitality and their commitment to independence, justice, peace and fraternity among the peoples.

Those interested should send their attendance confirmation to the email address with a copy to AMISTUR emails and


Anti-imperialist Conference of Solidarity for Democracy and against Neoliberalism.


Havana, Cuba, November 1-3, 2019.


1st day: November 1st

9.00-09: 30: Opening of the event. Tribute to Fidel.
09.30-09: 45: Words from comrade Fernando González LLort, ICAP President and the Coordinating Committee of the event.
09.45-10: 15: Audiovisual projection about Cuba, its foreign policy and solidarity.
10: 15-12: 45: MINREX speech: Cuba’s foreign policy in the regional context. Fight against the blockade.
12: 45-14: 45: Lunch
15: 00- 17:00: Panel: Challenges of the left in the current regional scenario before the imperialist offensive.
17: 15-19.15: Anti-imperialist tribune in support of just causes.
– Closing of the tribune with Cuban troubadours and foreigners participating in the event.

2nd day: November 2

09.00- 09.15: Audiovisual material presentation

09: 15- 10:45: Panel: Challenges for a solidarity articulation of
our struggles.

10: 45- 11:00: Break
11: 00- 13: 15: Working in Thematic Commissions.
– Solidarity with Cuba and other just causes.
– Peoples before free trade and transnationals.
– Decolonization and cultural war.
– Youth: strategies and continuity in struggles.
– Democracy, sovereignty and anti-imperialism.
– Strategic communication and social struggle.
– Integration, identities and common struggles.
1:30 – 3:00: Lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Anti-imperialist Twitterstorm
15: 00 – 16:30 Working in Thematic Commissions
16.30 – 18.00 Coordination Meetings

3rd day: November 3

09: 00- 12:00: Process of articulation in Plenary.
– Presentation of working Commissions.
12: 00- 13:45: Lunch
14:00 -16: 00: Closing Plenary.
– Presentation and approval of the Action Plan Project.
– Closing speech.
16:00 – 18:00: Cultural Gala.





Inhabitants of Cuban municipality grateful for Pastors for Peace´s solidarity

Posted by on Jul 12, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on Inhabitants of Cuban municipality grateful for Pastors for Peace´s solidarity

Inhabitants of Cuban municipality grateful for Pastors for Peace´s solidarity
HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 27 (ACN) Members of the thirtieth United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by IFCO/Pastores por la Paz, exchanged with neighbors in the community of Castaneda, Guanabacoa, who benefited from new housing as part of the recovery efforts following the tornado that hit the capital last January.
The official website of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples (ICAP) reported that Jose Prieto, vice president of that entity, accompanied visitors who he previously received at the headquarters of the municipal government and gave them information on the material damage caused by the tornado, most already resolved and the remaining in the process of solution.
Ania Lemus, president of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power in Guanabacoa, explained that the tornado affected the homes of 2,163 families (151 total collapses plus numerous partial) and 42 multi-family buildings, 11 schools, two health centers trade and gastronomy units, and businesses.
U.S. activist Gloria La Riva, who brought a new solidarity group to Cuba, said the example of Cuba, which insists on solving problems despite the blockade and with few resources, should be taken in the United States, where there are many resources and also millions of people without homes either because of poverty or natural disasters. “Cuba is solidarity,” she ratified.
The 35 members of the Caravan, with Gail Frances Walker, executive director of IFCO/Pastores por la Paz, at the helm, will continue their program in Cuba until July 5. They will be received at UNEAC and the University of Havana, among other institutions in the capital, and will tour Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Villa Clara.
After their arrival on Tuesday, the group had a warm exchange with Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, who conveyed the gratitude of the Cubans for the valuable solidarity work carried out by the Pastors for Peace, who represent the noblest feelings of the American people.
At the meeting, the visitors expressed their willingness to continue organizing these caravans of love and friendship in support of Cubans and their cause.

Why Cuba needs a new electoral law

Posted by on Jul 12, 2019 in Latest News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Cuba needs a new electoral law


Why Cuba needs a new electoral law

Orisell Richards Martínez, PhD professor at the University of Havana Law School speaks with Granma about what a new electoral law will mean for the country


Part of the new structure of the state defined in the new Constitution calls for an Electoral Law that establishes the mechanisms for the organization and protection of this process. Photo: Endrys Correa VaillantWhat will the approval of a new electoral law mean for Cuba? What reforms will it include? What positive experience of previous electoral processes will be considered? What challenges will its implementation pose?

These questions and many more were raised during a dialogue with Orisell Richards Martínez, PhD., professor at the Law School of the University of Havana. Knowledgeable beyond her 33 years, she insists on speaking of the engagement of all citizens in this process because that is the right path to an Electoral Law – to any law.

“The new Constitution is impregnated, from its first article on, with this spirit of participation and takes to a new dimension Marti’s maxim ‘with all and for the good of all’,” she says.

– Why is a new Electoral Law needed?

First, the current Constitution establishes in its First Temporary Provision that, within the six months after the approval of the new Constitution, the National Assembly of People’s Power must approve a new Electoral Law, which is a binding mandate, considering the supremacy of the Constitution itself, as established in Article 7.

This temporary provision refers to the election of representatives to the National Assembly of People’s Power, its president, vice-president and secretary; the National Electoral Commission, provincial governors and deputy governors, representatives to the municipal assemblies of the People’s Powers, their presidents and vice-presidents.

Furthermore, the new structure of the state as defined in the Constitution, requires an Electoral Law that establishes the mechanisms for the organization and guarantees of this process.

Likewise, there are positive experiences of previous electoral processes that need to be reflected in the law. Other processes must be overhauled, expanded or simplified, so the final law reflects our reality in the most coherent way possible, without ignoring the complexity of electoral processes.

– Given Cuban electoral history, what do you think should remain unchanged in this law?

The law must maintain, in the first place, what the Constitution establishes in Article 204, where it expresses that all citizens with the legal capacity, have the right to intervene in the direction of the state, either directly or through their elected representatives to organs of the People’s Power and to participate, for that purpose, as provided for by law, in periodic elections, plebiscites, and popular referendums, which shall be by free, equal, direct, secret ballot vote. Each elector has the right to only one vote.

It should also maintain the essence of municipal elections regarding proposal, nomination, and election of delegates by the direct vote of the people. This first stage is essential to democracy, because the municipality is the level closest to the elector. It is a good place to inspire learning and improvement of electoral processes.

Other elements that should remain unchanged, among others, are the principles guiding these processes that have characterized our electoral system, such as the inclusion of grassroots representatives which can reach up to 50% of the deputies in the National Assembly.

– Which processes should the new law expand or simplify?

There are stages in the electoral processes, such as the swearing in ceremony for example, that become too formal sometimes, and since they have been previously valued, they are extended unnecessarily. They should be revisited in the new law.

However; in accordance with constitutional guidelines, which establish information and transparency as basic precepts of the organization and functioning of the state, there are other processes, such as those developed through candidacy committees, for example, that should become more visible.

In this sense, processes such as the pre-selection of candidates should be developed in line with this guideline: On what principles is it based, what are the control mechanisms regulating it, to ensure selection of the best proposals and to inform the people.

Likewise, the Constitution also defines the permanence of electoral structures. Even though there are constitutional principles that clearly establish the organization of this body at all levels, the law should broaden other aspects such as the number of members; how many will be full-time staff members; and what is the content of their work between elections, for example.

It also should guarantee, in line with its mission, the reliability, transparency, speed, publicity, authenticity, and impartiality of the processes of democratic participation, which implies a great responsibility.

The benefits that the permanent character of these structures implies should be emphasized from the standpoint of control and follow-up of processes, professionalization, and the promotion of a culture of engagement.

We should not only focus on electoral participation but also on plebiscites, referendums, popular consultations, as the Constitution establishes in Article 80. Even in immediate procedures such as the Eleventh Temporary Provision, which mandates, in a period of two years, the drafting of a Family Code, its submission to popular consultation and a referendum.

This law will also have the authority to stipulate how the election and revocation of electoral bodies will proceed: it must regulate the number of representatives to the National Assembly, in order to increase its functionality without undermining its ability to represent the people and its efficiency in action. It also should explain, for example, how the relationships between the public, permanent Voter Registry and the National Electoral Council will work.

Moreover, there are some positive practices that should be reflected in this new law, such as the participation of supervisors and collaborators in the electoral process, without overlooking the basic principles for their registration, as well as their training.

– And once the law is passed, what will happen?

We will be witnessing a new scenario for everyone and for the way information is provided to the people in electoral processes. Then a process to elect and create the new state bodies will ensue, which is essential to organize and legitimatize these structures, and to implement the main transformations taking place in the country.

The Constitution’s temporary provisions and its foundational precepts can be taken as a guide for what should be established related to the election of the highest positions in the state and government including governors, deputy governors, and mayors.

– The country’s highest authorities have insisted on the inclusion of universities and the legal sector in the legislative process demanded by the new Constitution, how do you evaluate this relationship in this case?

There are new experiences these days in the field of relations between researchers and decision-makers that are very innovative and this is a fundamental step forward in overhauling the legal system in general. In the field of elections, specifically, there are research results that have been used as references in making some modifications, which is highly significant in the current context.

However, even though the new Electoral Law will reflect the current state of affairs in Cuba and reforms introduced in the structure of the state, we cannot talk, in any way, of a finished product. The transformations that could take place in the future, as part of the ongoing process of democratic consolidation in our society, will also have a legal framework.


The new law has 16 titles, 45 chapters, 32 sections, five final provisions, six transitory ones, with a total of 290 articles.- Proposed is the creation of a National Electoral Council and electoral councils at the provincial and municipal levels, to exercise their functions permanently. – Two periodic elections are recognized: municipal votes for the election of delegates to Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power, their presidents and vice presidents; and national elections for deputies to the National Assembly, its president, vice president, secretary, other members of the Council of State, and the President and Vice President of the Republic. – Proportional representation for the election of deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power is to be modified, reducing the total number of deputies elected by 131, although maintained is the principle that 50% of deputies are elected delegates to municipal assemblies.- Proposed is the simplification of procedures to verify the validity of elections to Municipal Assemblies and the National Assembly, establishing that this is the responsibility of electoral authorities. – The Council of State will include 21 members, from among whom the leadership will be chosen.- The swearing in of the President of the Republic is to be incorporated within the ceremonial constitution of the incoming National Assembly.

– The proposal establishes that elections for provincial governors and deputy governors be held simultaneously throughout the country, and establishes guidelines for this process.

– Electoral Councils at all levels are to control the preparation and updating of the Voter Registry.- Provisions are incorporated for plebiscites in relation to voting abroad, as established in current law for referendums.

– Sentencing guidelines for “electoral crimes” are more severe and it is established that they will eventually be incorporated into the new Penal Code.

– Municipal Electoral Councils are expected to participate in processes that take place to revoke the mandate of a delegate, which implies modifications to the relevant current law (No. 89/99)

– Salary regulations for members of electoral structures are proposed.- The draft law further develops the principle that the vote is free, equal, direct and secret; grants the constitutional right that each citizen has to elect, be elected, and be listed in the Voter Registry; nominate and be nominated as a candidate for delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power; as well as participate in electoral processes and file related legal complaints.

Díaz-Canel: In the defense of Cuba we continue to have Fidel at our side and stand beside Raúl

Posted by on Jul 12, 2019 in Latest News | Comments Off on Díaz-Canel: In the defense of Cuba we continue to have Fidel at our side and stand beside Raúl


Díaz-Canel: In the defense of Cuba we continue to have Fidel at our side and stand beside Raúl

The President described as tremendous the population’s participation, understanding, and reception of new measures adopted by the Council of Ministers


Photo: Estudios Revolución

The President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez; and Ministers of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil Fernández; Finances and Prices, Meisi Bolaños Weiss; as well as Labor and Social Security, Margarita Fernández González, appeared on the second Mesa Redonda television program devoted to explaining details of measures recently adopted by the Council of Ministers.

The President described as tremendous the population’s participation, and response to the information presented the previous evening, recognizing this understanding and positive reception as important to the success of the government’s proposals.

He displayed a document containing all the opinions collected from social media, the Presidency’s website, personal Twitter accounts of government officials, and via other means.

The President emphasized that the response also indicates that, over the next few days, and as the decisions are implemented, more explications will be needed.

To match explanations with doubts expressed, the plan for the program was to respond by theme to provide details and complement information, he clarified.


The President explained that central state, provincial, and municipal administration, and all state institutions must be ready to respond to the people, since their accountability to popular control is imperative.

In this regard, he announced that complaints have arrived, via channels opened, denouncing violations of established prices, and that beyond enforcement, we must take full advantage of this information. If we provide a timely response, explain, and convince those who have erred, their contribution to society and conduct will be different in the future. We then win the battle advocated at the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists Congress, against indecency, against behavior that is not emancipatory, and in the battle for the ethics that must distinguish our people and society. He said that the complaints were forwarded to the Havana Provincial Administrative Council

The President noted that some concerns from the enterprise sector were expressed and reiterated what has been said on other occasions regarding the potential this sector now has, since measures giving companies more authority were implemented.

Although the most recent measures do not provide a salary increase for these workers, there are opportunities to continue improving wages by implementing more coherent, beneficial pay systems, he recalled.

Díaz-Canel also recognized the efforts of those involved in clarifying the new measures and the importance of the second Mesa Redonda program to respond to citizens, since not only the panelists were involved, but many more individuals on social media, the Presidency’s website, Cubadebate, and via other means.

All must be thanked, because the way in which concerns, doubts, and questions, as well as initiatives and suggestions, have been presented, helps us govern better, to serve the Revolution and the country, he said, adding: I thank Cuban Television, and Mesa Redonda, in particular for having facilitated this dialogue with the people, defending the foundational concept of this program, established by Fidel, 20 years ago in December.

It was conceived to inform the people, to hear them and learn from this collective intelligence, and as the government more systematically presents this information, the most pressing and troublesome problems, we will be coherently honoring Fidel’s thought and the goals he had in mind when proposing this program, the President said.

He commented that, now with the global development of social networks and our aspiration to expand electronic government, we must not forget that the great lesson of the Revolution is to constantly go to the people, to this source of wisdom and creation.

This has been demonstrated throughout our history, he said, and recalled that in the worst and most difficult moments, Fidel and Raúl always turned to the people. The Revolution always went to the people; that is why I said yesterday that Revolution is the people – and the people, Revolution.

The President said that all doubts, concerns, and proposals related to the new measures that are received will be addressed and evaluated, regardless of the explanations given today or what will be clarified in an online discussion on Cubadebate, July 4.

He expressed his thanks for the words of encouragement received by the government and reaffirmed the Council of Ministers intention to redouble its efforts and commitment to the Revolution, the Party, and people.

Díaz-Canel noted that Cuba lacks extensive natural resources, and faces natural threats of all types given its geographical location, but nonetheless, the nation and its people have created themselves.

Thus, those of us who have a responsibility within the country would be failing the people if we were not able to motivate them, as Fidel and Raúl taught us.


What was the Special Period, if not a great work of collective creativity, with a firm leadership that never tired, asked the President. Thus, he said, among the measures, we are taking steps to disseminate the Comandante en Jefe’s directives during that difficult time, when the light at the end of the tunnel could barely be seen.

Who could forget, Army General Raúl Castro’s lessons, traveling around the country, promoting the protection of defensive weapons, at the same time supporting local production, alternative medicine, and unleashing our productive forces.

Solutions were found via this type of conduct, the essence of which can be seen written on hillsides in our mountainous provinces, the phrase: Yes, we can. It was possible and will always be possible.

The President recalled Fidel’s 2000 speech in Caracas, when he acknowledged, “The period we are now experiencing and overcoming in Cuba has taught us how many alternatives are possible in the development of the economy and the solution of problems, if the state plays its role, and makes sure the interests of the nation and the people prevail.”

We are taking action following these principles, DÍaz-Canel said. During these days of interaction, of receiving feedback, what has been most impressive is the clarity with which the population has read and interpreted the decisions, giving opinions, and expressing commitment to the defense and implementation of the measures.

Díaz-Canel said that proposals have been received, alternatives that may be viable at this time in the effort to boost the economy, with the consistent, intelligent, creative use of science, computerization, and productive chains.

Therefore, he reiterated, we will need to continue taking advantage of the energy which contact with the people provides us, through feedback in these exchanges.

He noted that central state administration, ministries, municipal and provincial administrative councils must ensure that the process projected advances with the same spirit shown by the people.

He recalled that a spokeswoman for the empire complained that Cuba is returning to the ideas of Fidel. For such mercenaries and their bosses, we have plenty of “bad news,” he said, good, honorable news for Cuba, because we are going to continue with Fidel at our side and standing beside Raúl.

The President concluded his remarks with a statement from Fidel, published February 18, 2008: “Being as prudent in success as we are firm in adversity is a principle that can never be forgotten. The enemy to be defeated is extremely strong, but we have kept them at bay for half a century.” This idea was expressed to the people of Güines, 60 years ago.

The Cuban President asserted, “The Revolution is the work of all: the Revolution is the sacrifice of all; the Revolution is the ideal of all; and the Revolution will be the fruit of all, because we are all Cuba, and we are continuity.”