Category Archives: Cuba

Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics

A new American president is presenting a program for renewal of human values in the marketplace unheard of since the 1930s but still projecting American military domination and environmental destruction far beyond the awareness of most Americans. Continued insistence that Russia and China are major global threats to everyone and not just American monopoly capitalists resonate not only in the cosmic void between the ears of our mentally disabled foreign policy experts but echo in the minds of innocent Americans since that’s all they get from major, and all too often minor media.

The charge that China is conducting genocide on its Islamic people coming from the butchers of hundreds of thousands of Islamic people in the middle east would be a dreadful sick joke if not so incredibly evil, but poor souls condemned to network media remain stuck in a misinformation chamber amplifying our ruling power’s message day in and day out. The fact that growing majorities have little or no faith in government or media is a hopeful sign but until we totally clean out the sewage system much of corporate news has become, the stench that wafts up remains a carrier of the information pandemic.

While alleged economic threats from China actually do offer market competition to the empire – and market competition is supposed to be good, according to the theology preached by the priest-rabbi-therapists of the church of capital – and China is under the control of communists who at least try, not always with success, to force it to work for the common good and not just the minority of Chinese capitalists, why and how and to whom is that a threat? Only to America where majorities exist in numbers of those in debt but never those who vote nationally. This is called  “our” democracy by many wishful thinkers still unaware that the political process is owned and operated by the wealthiest minority, which spends billions to maintain political control by purchase and rental of candidates and office holders. Citizens innocently proclaiming this hustle as “our” democracy are like past slaves referring to “our” plantation. If they were the minority house negroes of the time they could afford such fantasy but the overwhelming majority who toiled in the fields and suffered the most brutal treatment had no such luxury.

And as if the treatment of these two powerful nations didn’t show enough imperial idiocy, that of a nearly helpless tiny nation currently, as usual, under assault, is greater indication of lunacy bordering on stark raving insanity.

After 60 years of a murderous attempted strangulation of the Cuban political economy, that tiny nation survives with the support of the overwhelming majority of governments on earth. Recently at the United Nations 184 countries voted to end the filthy American embargo with only Murder Inc. headquartered in the USA and Israel still, as always out of step with the overwhelming majority while spouting humanitarian rhetoric and practicing murderous brutality. This still finds well meaning people waving flags and quoting bibles and constitutions as though these fabled symbols clean up the reality of degenerate social practice as hypocritical as a rapist claiming victims only to assure they do not suffer sexual frustration.

The anti-Cuban lobby, second only to that of Israel in its control of American foreign policy, was originally a creature of the Cuban upper classes who escaped to Miami from the revolution that was working to spread education, jobs, health care and other necessities of life to the greatest number of people who had long been denied by American partnership with Cuban ruling power. They loom large in the current scenario of an alleged uprising against the terror and horror of millions of people eating, going to school and getting health care despite the ugly embargo and other violent attempts to smother the island of 11 million so that capital might again profit from gambling and drugs, as it did before 1960.

Meanwhile, another bloody lie in Afghanistan has ended with the Taliban, the group we were allegedly protecting poor afghans from, has taken over the government of their own country. This after billions have been spent and hundreds of thousands murdered in pursuit of profits while good people here have been fed stories about emancipating women and educating Afghans to the joys of democracy like ours, where hundreds of thousands of Americans live in the street while we spend trillions to kill people and billions to care for pets.

And far beyond wretched national policies looms the global curse of what private profit industrial and war marketing are doing to the environment shared by humanity and not just one or anther national identity group often claiming super status with a special connection to deities ranging from Santa Claus to the Easter bunny for all they are worth in the material world. Words about democracy are not balanced by deeds of mass murder, oppression and absolute support for rich minority rule that assures continued profit making from exploitation of workers whether they clean toilets, drive buses, pilot airplanes or walk dogs. Like the sex workers who use their private parts to create private profits for their entrepreneurial pimps, those who create, package and deliver the consumer goods that are the foundation of the economy are doing it for the benefit of owners and investors rather than their own which would be far better served if they owned and ran the businesses they form the foundation for while others get rich on their labor.

Facing horrible news at what the future of humanity looks like under the environmental stress called climate change, more people than ever are working to end foul methods of economics that assure disaster for humanity but trying to do so while maintaining market rules of private profit assures further destruction or worse, simply throwing people out of work they do only to survive and thus destroy hope of survival. The future must be to keep people alive by assuring the public good before any pursuit of private profit. We do not need professional economists to explain that capitalism is the only answer to social problems all the while collecting fat salaries and investment opportunities while society fails more quickly under their rule.

In truth, if workers are doing dirty work that affords them salaries so they can pay their rent, mortgages and other life supports, but it costs society billions to have to clean up the mess they create, we would all best be served by paying them to not go to work. We’d be saving the billions we’d have to spend to clean up the mess they created in service to private profiteers and assure their survival by using those mammoth savings to help them learn and get better jobs for them and everyone else, that serve all of us and not simply minority investors. As the world grows more threatened and conditions become more dangerous with the USA holding several hundred military bases in foreign countries and surrounding Russia and China with troops and war ships, immediate action must be taken to both confront environmental conditions that threaten us all and war like preparations that are profitable to a criminal minority while threatening the planet and all its people.

In short, we need global democratic communism before anti-social capitalism destroys us all.

The post Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Not Boycott US Products Until It Ends Its Embargo of Cuba and Leaves Guantanamo?

On 23 June, 184 nations at United Nations voted for an end to the half-century long USA embargo against tiny Cuba. Only the USA and Israel voted against the resolution.

A Reuters article reprinted in the New York Times wrote:

Cuba said earlier this month the decades-old U.S. trade embargo cost it a record total of more than $9 billion over the last financial year, hurting its ability to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the General Assembly that sanctions had made it harder for Cuba to acquire medical equipment needed to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines and for other uses as well as equipment for food production. “Like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills, it must stop,” Rodriguez told the General Assembly.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark once wrote of America’s penchant for violence:

The consistent underlying psychology of the United States, … should be understandable to anyone who has ever known a violent neighborhood bully. The government of Americans means to have its way through the use and threatened to use of superior force. It will lie. It will deceive. It will kill. It will escalate the threat and use of force to the highest level it dares. It will bluff, dangerous as that can be. It will do whatever is must to dominate.1

In the case of Cuba, US President Kennedy, approved bombing, an invasion that took the lives of 900+ Cubans, brought even the threat of nuclear war to bear, and thereafter had his Attorney General Robert Kennedy run what was called Operation Mongoose, which included deadly sabotage and attempts to assassinate Cuba’s Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

All, while at the same time, USA’s greatest trading partner was, and is more than ever, Communist Party run China.

USA Does Not Embargo Communist China 

The USA has not invaded China big time since the US looted imperialist Peking in 1900.

But it tried to stop the Chinese revolution and in 1950 used its 7th Fleet to protect Chiang Kai-shek who with his Nationalist (Capitalist) Army invaded Taiwan and installed a draconian dictatorship.2

However, China has the gumption to call for the US to end its embargo of Cuba. Newsweek reported, “China has called on the United States to promptly lift its decades-long trade restrictions on Cuba.”3

Might Cuba Herself Request Help with Such a Boycott?

If no other agency sees fit to call for an international boycott of American products in sympathy with the US caused suffering of the Cuban people, may heaven see the Cuban government itself call for such a boycott of US products. 

We have seen for some years now, Russia, China, and Iran avoiding the use of the US dollar currency.

In any obviously unequal fight, the tendency is for onlookers to side with the little guy, for the underdog and against the bully. This could auger success for such a boycott to catch on.

A lot of salt-of-the-Earth hard-working, ordinary citizens and their families might enjoy joining in to help fight the injustice of the superpower nation of 331 million in a land of 3.797 million square miles relentlessly attacking a nation of 11 million on an island of 42,426 square miles.

Millions of shoppers passing up buying “Made in USA” or an American brand name made in Vietnam, Thailand, or Indonesia, when a non-American-made item from, for example, Japan or China is just as acceptable, might just be a little unsettling with all the other troubles America seems to be having these days.

What the Hell! When all is said and done and everything settles down, ending the embargo might be the best thing for all sides in both countries.

  1. Cubans in Cuba could lead more enjoyable and normal lives with the latest modernities.
  1. The Communist Party of Cuba could focus on what is most important for the welfare of Cubans, rather than be focused and concerned about finances and providing food.
  1. Americans aware of the genocidal crimes of their government against Cuba and most other Latin American peoples (and Asian, Middle Eastern and African nations), could applaud at least one improvement in US genocidal foreign policy and feel hopeful for more.
  1. The evil minds of the criminal Deep-State-Military-Industrial-Complex-Wall Street investors in war, for the flood of US tourists and visitors and money and consumer culture and indulgence into Cuba, could have a good chance of witnessing the demise of the intensity of Cuban revolutionary spirit for overthrowing (perhaps too precipitously), the neocolonial capitalist domination of society at home in the USA as well as abroad in the poor and still financially plundered captive Third World. After all ‘they,’ the bad guys of Wall Street, are still number one, though probably not for all that much longer. Imperialist White folks are losing their edge in weaponry, and though there are so so very many of those people of differing hues of skin color, they haven’t yet gotten riled up enough to realize that they really don’t have to put up with just a few White US billionaires owning more wealth than half of humanity collectively.)4

In any case, with all the changes now happening in the USA about “Whose Lives Matter,” maybe this murderously long, unfair Yankee embargo of Cuba and military occupation of Guantanamo will just logically peter out.

Your author won’t prejudice such an expected felicitous outcome, by crowding it with the mention of more recent crimes against humanity by the United States of America in and on Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti. However, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti’s turn at rectification, if not remuneration, should follow on the heels of the end of the crimes against Cuba, whether or not hastened by the international boycott suggested in this brief article.

  1. US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, in his forward to nuclear physicist Micho Kaku’s To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans.
  2. The Great Debate: Chiang Kai-shek’s Role in 21st Century Taiwan,” The Diplomat.
  3. “China Says U.S. Should ‘Immediately’ Lift Cuba Embargo and Stop Interfering,” Newsweek, 7/19/21.
  4. These 6 Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population,” Common Dreams.
    Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world,” Oxfam.
    World’s Richest 1 Percent Own Twice as Much as Bottom 90 Percent,” PND.
The post Why Not Boycott US Products Until It Ends Its Embargo of Cuba and Leaves Guantanamo? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

— Mike Pompeo, former US secretary of state on how the United States conducts its business

One of the filters in the Propaganda Model propounded by professors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky is stoking a fear of communism.1 The establishment’s anti-communism has never abated in the United States. The elitists require a populace fearful of communism to protect their own misbegotten wealth accumulation. Thus,the bugaboo of communism must be opposed wherever it arises. At its worst, the US would wage war against communist countries such as North Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia. When not militarily attacked, communist governments will be demonized by a relentless campaign of disinformation designed to bring about the fall of the government and its replacement by a government amenable to the US establishment, as happened in the Soviet Union. That is the nature of imperialism and predatory capitalism.

The establishment’s anti-communism is alive and kicking in The Diplomat, a current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region. This one can readily glean from its article titled “How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests.”2

The in-one’s-face bias of the article’s heading and the subheading (“Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the CCP does within its own borders.”) immediately gives pause to the discerning reader. First, regime is a tendentious term meant to delegitimize a government. Second, the subheading asserts Chinese governmental control. While it points at the means, it does not provide any evidence that the assertion holds true.

The leaning of the writers is apparent from their bios: Leland Lazarus is a speechwriter to US Southern Command’s admiral Craig Faller, and Dr Evan Ellis is a research professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. They write, “July 11, thousands of people across Cuba took to the streets, fed up with the lack of food, basic products, medicine, and vaccines to combat COVID-19.”

This flash-in-the-pan, minor protest was allegedly orchestrated by the NED and US AID. Furthermore, the monopoly media narrative has been undermined by its use of fake and doctored images.3

The writers complain, “Protesters used social media to broadcast to the world what was happening, but the communist regime shut off the internet and telephone services, pulling the plug on their connection outside the island.”

A question: If your government is targeted by a barrage of disinformation from outside actors, would you allow for the disinformation to continue? Disinformation is hailed by many to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. And the disinformation campaigns of the US are myriad. Among them are the phantom missile attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, the non-existent WMDs in Iraq, the Viagra-fueled rapes in Libya, the Syrian government chemical-weapon attacks, and the current allegation of a genocide in Xinjiang, China. Millions of people died as a result of such disinformation.

It is clear that Lazarus and Ellis would like to knock down two communist governments that US capitalism finds antithetical, with one article. What is the crime of Cuba? The State Department Policy Planning Staff pointed to the “primary danger” the US faces, “The simple fact is that [former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro represents a successful defiance of the US…,”4 a slap in the face to the imperialist Monroe doctrine.

The writers turned to the old-school Cuba policy advocacy of US senator Marco Rubio who tweeted: “Expect the regime in #Cuba to block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world… By the way, they use a system made, sold & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.’”

Again, monopoly media undermines itself and senator Rubio: “… Fox News, however, included a small detail that went largely unnoticed. As he [Rubio] was speaking about ‘brutal oppression’ by the Cuban government and hailing the protesters, the footage shown by the cable station depicted a rally by Cuban government supporters. Fox News apparently knew exactly what it was airing, since it was careful to blur the slogans that some of the activists were carrying.”

Lazarus and Ellis see a sinister hand: “China’s role in helping the regime cut off communications during the protests has exposed one of the many ways Beijing helps keep the Cuban communist regime afloat.”

Meanwhile the capitalist5 government in the US is trying its damnedest to sink the communist government in Cuba. The US has long had an adversarial relationship with Cuba, starting with launching the Spanish-American War based on a lie concocted by US media. After the successful Cuban Revolution, the US has kept in place an economic blockade of the island. And seldom discussed is the fact that the US continues to occupy Guantánamo Bay, which Cuba has often demanded be returned to its sovereignty.

Since the article never mentions otherwise, it is assumed to be predicated upon the US and its Occidental allies not engaging in monitoring telecommunications and digital surveillance, which Edward Snowden has revealed to be patently false. This is not whataboutism because there is no evidence of a Chinese backdoor to Huawei and the company has pledged to not insert spying devices in its products; to do otherwise would be a bad business decision.

China’s Interests in Cuba

Lazarus and Ellis envision nefarious Chinese stratagems underlying their trade with Cuba:

China recognizes Cuba’s geostrategic importance. Due to its position in the Caribbean, Cuba can exert influence over the southeastern maritime approach to the United States, which contains vital sea lanes leading to ports in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston. Author George Friedman has argued that, with an increased presence in Cuba, China could potentially “block American ports without actually blocking them,” just like U.S. naval bases and installations pose a similar challenge to China around the first island chain and Straits of Malacca. Cuba’s influence in the Caribbean also makes it a useful proxy through which Beijing can pressure the four countries in the region (out of the 15 total globally) that recognize Taiwan to switch recognition.

The entire article is speculative. It is littered with words like “possible,” “can,” and “could.” The writers do not elaborate on how China might pressure the Caribbean countries. Usually countries switch allegiance to China from Taiwan based on financial inducements and not from hegemonic pressure.

Economic Support versus Economic Sanctions

The Diplomat writers argue that “China helps sustain the [Cuban] regime through economic engagement.”

What exactly do the writers intend to imply by economic engagement sustaining a regime? The logical corollary is that economic sanctions are aimed at “regime change.” Stemming from this logic, the US uses economic measures to sustain the theocratic criminality and corruption in Saudi Arabia and economic sanctions to try and change socialistic governments in, among others, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Nonetheless, trade is what countries do to build their economies.

Regarding the US favored method of applying pressure, American academics John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote: “economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”

The academics further noted,

It is interesting that this loss of human life has failed to make a great impression in the United States….

Some of the inattention may derive from a lack of concern about foreign lives. Although Americans are extremely sensitive to American casualties, they – like others – often seem quite insensitive to casualties suffered by those on the opposing side, whether military or civilian.

The world views economic sanctions in a different light from the US. This was illuminated by the UN General Assembly vote demanding an end to the US economic blockade on Cuba for the 29th year in a row. Aside from two negative votes cast by the US and its Israeli ally, 184 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

Perplexingly, the writers pointed out that “China has not, however, sold Cuba any significant weapons systems, as it has done with other states in the region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.”

To the extent that selling armaments is a legitimate business, then why shouldn’t China sell armaments? Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia are not warring with other countries. Regarding the morality of selling weapons, consider that the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country committing genocide against Yemen and to Israel, a country that serially aggresses and economically strangulates Palestine. Are the writers not aware that the US pokes China in the eye by selling armaments to its renegade province, Taiwan, in contravention of the One-China policy to which the US shook hands?

“Digital Authoritarianism”

The writers complain about “China exporting ‘digital authoritarianism’ to illiberal regimes across the region. In Venezuela, Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE helped the Maduro regime establish the ‘fatherland ID card’ system, which it used to control not only voting, but the distribution of scarce food packages.”

As for the ID cards, the link provided by the writers notes that the “system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela’s government.” Besides, which country does not require ID in order to cast a vote?

Why are the food packages scarce? What would one expect when the US has sanctions against Venezuela? It is quite disingenuous to criticize a government for food packages being scarce when that scarcity is caused by the writers’ own government. Moreover, the writers continue to use the word control pejoratively. Are the voting systems and economic distribution networks not a function of government implementation everywhere? If the writers want to insist that voting and the results are manipulated, then provide the evidence. Contrariwise, US observers endorsed the legitimacy of Venezuela’s May 2020 election; also, international observers were “unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly.” The link supplied by the writers is now dead, but the title reads: “For poor Venezuelans, a box of food may sway vote for Maduro.” While in Venezuela, a group of us visited the mercals — where food was being made affordable for the masses — where we were informed: “The Chavez administration does not want Venezuela’s food needs to be dependent on outside sources, so a concerted effort has been made to produce all foods locally.” Obviously that food independence is still a work in progress. Such progress is not made easier by being targeted by economic sanctions.

The writers make clear their anti-leftist and their anti-democracy views:

Leftist authoritarian regimes are consolidating control in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The populist left has returned to power in Bolivia in the form of the MAS party, in Argentina with the Peronists, and in Mexico with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Morena movement. In Peru, the recent election of Pedro Castillo, a teacher from Cajamarca with a radical left agenda, similarly raises alarm bells. Upcoming elections in the region raise the prospects for an even broader spread of the populist left, including the prospect of victory by Xiomara Castro in November 2021 elections in Honduras, a President Petro emerging from Colombia’s 2022 elections, or the return of Lula da Silva and his Workers’ Party in Brazil’s October 2022 elections.

Yikes! Democracy can be such a pain in the butt. As the anarchist professor Noam Chomsky wrote, “In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm.”6 For American elitists, “the United States supports democracy if, and only if, the outcomes accord with its strategic and economic objectives.”7 That the US did and would seek “regime change” in Latin America is borne out by its Operation Condor.

Lazarus and Ellis attempt to justify the US’ machinations against Cuba and China:

China’s continued efforts to prop up the Cuban regime matters to U.S. national security. For both good and bad, Cuba is connected to the United States through geographic proximity, historical connections, and family ties. The U.S. government has long focused on violations of the freedoms and human rights of the Cuban people.

The language of Lazarus and Ellis is oleaginous. Having a focus on human rights violations is qualitatively different from opposing human rights violations and quantitatively different from supporting human rights violations, as the US did when it supported the Fulgencio Batista “regime” (to use the parlance of Lazarus and Ellis) in Cuba, which served American corporate and military interests while massacring his own people. How does the occupation of Guantánamo Bay, where prisoners of war languish in what Amnesty International called the “gulag of our time”; the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Operation Northwoods; and economic sanctions speak for American fidelity to human rights?

The writers with ties to the US military accuse China of a “malign intent against the U.S. in cyberspace.” They reason that “Cuba could also be an area from which China could gather intelligence and conduct cyberattacks against the United States.”

The writers speculate about a malign Chinese intent. Malign intent is evidenced by the Stuxnet virus that the USA and Israel inserted into the Iranian nuclear program. The authors write as if the US is not guilty of the malignity they assert that China is guilty of.

How the United States Can Respond

Lazarus and Ellis argue that the US “should concentrate on helping partners in the region to engage with China in the most healthy, productive ways. For example, an emphasis on transparency inhibits the ability to engage in corrupt backroom deals with the Chinese that benefit the elites signing the deals rather than the country as a whole.”

Helping partners and advocating for transparency is great. Is this what the US does? It would be foolish to deny that the US does not engage with corrupt rulers, rulers who siphon off the loans meant for the people of the country who are then held responsible for the odious debt to the financial lenders?8

Lazarus and Ellis write, “With respect to cybersecurity, the United States should similarly look to increase support to partners in protecting their citizens’ privacy and security from malign actors like China.”

Let’s leave aside the unsupported allegation that China might be a malign actor. Instead, let’s ask what kind of actor is the US? Is it a benevolent actor? This is the actor that just recently ended a two-decade war in impoverished Afghanistan — a country where the US engaged in a cycle of war crimes. Ask yourself: is it a benevolent actor who engages in disinformation campaigns against countries like China that have eradicated absolute poverty (while in the US a 2019 measure of poverty showed a rate of 10.5%) and accuse it of the scurrilous and easily debunked allegation of committing genocide in Xinjiang? Is it an upstanding country that pursues the locking away of Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere?

The writers suggest part of the solution for escaping Chinese spying is cybersecurity training by the US.

Is that a good idea — trusting Uncle Sam? If you get trained by the US and use US technology, then you might end up being surveilled by the US. Ask German chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders.

Lazarus and Ellis persist:

While recent events in Cuba show China’s growing influence in the region, the CCP’s emphatic support of the Cuban regime’s repressive acts also highlights that it is on the wrong side of history. The U.S. must deepen partnerships with Latin American countries and Caribbean friends.

Was the US on the right side of history in Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, historical Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Chile, Grenada, etc? How should countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and the other Latin American countries targeted by Operation Condor feel about a deepened partnership? And how would the peoples of Caribbean countries — e.g., Haiti, Grenada, Puerto Rico, etc — feel about a deepened partnership with the US?

Lazarus and Ellis proffer the haggard imperialist platitudes of partnership based on shared values, security, prosperity, and freedom. Which populations would they like to tempt with such an offer? To the people who experienced US-supported coups in Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, or the masses in Venezuela subjected to unceasing American-government intrigues against their country? There is a reason why Latin Americans and Caribbean countries are leftists or turning leftward.

  1. See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon Books, 2002 edition).
  2. Throughout the article all emphases within quotations have been added by this writer.
  3. See here, here, and here.
  4. Cited in Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? Metropolitan Books, 2014: 100.
  5. Since the writers deem it important to identify the governments in China and Cuba as communist, it would seem appropriate and balanced to identify other governments by their ideology.
  6. Chomsky, 45.
  7. Chomsky, 74.
  8. See Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Seven Stories Press, 1999). Chomsky describes how neoliberalism and financial institutions like the IMF and its structural adjustments have plunged the masses in developing countries into despair.
The post Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

— Mike Pompeo, former US secretary of state on how the United States conducts its business

One of the filters in the Propaganda Model propounded by professors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky is stoking a fear of communism.1 The establishment’s anti-communism has never abated in the United States. The elitists require a populace fearful of communism to protect their own misbegotten wealth accumulation. Thus,the bugaboo of communism must be opposed wherever it arises. At its worst, the US would wage war against communist countries such as North Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia. When not militarily attacked, communist governments will be demonized by a relentless campaign of disinformation designed to bring about the fall of the government and its replacement by a government amenable to the US establishment, as happened in the Soviet Union. That is the nature of imperialism and predatory capitalism.

The establishment’s anti-communism is alive and kicking in The Diplomat, a current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region. This one can readily glean from its article titled “How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests.”2

The in-one’s-face bias of the article’s heading and the subheading (“Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the CCP does within its own borders.”) immediately gives pause to the discerning reader. First, regime is a tendentious term meant to delegitimize a government. Second, the subheading asserts Chinese governmental control. While it points at the means, it does not provide any evidence that the assertion holds true.

The leaning of the writers is apparent from their bios: Leland Lazarus is a speechwriter to US Southern Command’s admiral Craig Faller, and Dr Evan Ellis is a research professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. They write, “July 11, thousands of people across Cuba took to the streets, fed up with the lack of food, basic products, medicine, and vaccines to combat COVID-19.”

This flash-in-the-pan, minor protest was allegedly orchestrated by the NED and US AID. Furthermore, the monopoly media narrative has been undermined by its use of fake and doctored images.3

The writers complain, “Protesters used social media to broadcast to the world what was happening, but the communist regime shut off the internet and telephone services, pulling the plug on their connection outside the island.”

A question: If your government is targeted by a barrage of disinformation from outside actors, would you allow for the disinformation to continue? Disinformation is hailed by many to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. And the disinformation campaigns of the US are myriad. Among them are the phantom missile attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, the non-existent WMDs in Iraq, the Viagra-fueled rapes in Libya, the Syrian government chemical-weapon attacks, and the current allegation of a genocide in Xinjiang, China. Millions of people died as a result of such disinformation.

It is clear that Lazarus and Ellis would like to knock down two communist governments that US capitalism finds antithetical, with one article. What is the crime of Cuba? The State Department Policy Planning Staff pointed to the “primary danger” the US faces, “The simple fact is that [former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro represents a successful defiance of the US…,”4 a slap in the face to the imperialist Monroe doctrine.

The writers turned to the old-school Cuba policy advocacy of US senator Marco Rubio who tweeted: “Expect the regime in #Cuba to block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world… By the way, they use a system made, sold & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.’”

Again, monopoly media undermines itself and senator Rubio: “… Fox News, however, included a small detail that went largely unnoticed. As he [Rubio] was speaking about ‘brutal oppression’ by the Cuban government and hailing the protesters, the footage shown by the cable station depicted a rally by Cuban government supporters. Fox News apparently knew exactly what it was airing, since it was careful to blur the slogans that some of the activists were carrying.”

Lazarus and Ellis see a sinister hand: “China’s role in helping the regime cut off communications during the protests has exposed one of the many ways Beijing helps keep the Cuban communist regime afloat.”

Meanwhile the capitalist5 government in the US is trying its damnedest to sink the communist government in Cuba. The US has long had an adversarial relationship with Cuba, starting with launching the Spanish-American War based on a lie concocted by US media. After the successful Cuban Revolution, the US has kept in place an economic blockade of the island. And seldom discussed is the fact that the US continues to occupy Guantánamo Bay, which Cuba has often demanded be returned to its sovereignty.

Since the article never mentions otherwise, it is assumed to be predicated upon the US and its Occidental allies not engaging in monitoring telecommunications and digital surveillance, which Edward Snowden has revealed to be patently false. This is not whataboutism because there is no evidence of a Chinese backdoor to Huawei and the company has pledged to not insert spying devices in its products; to do otherwise would be a bad business decision.

China’s Interests in Cuba

Lazarus and Ellis envision nefarious Chinese stratagems underlying their trade with Cuba:

China recognizes Cuba’s geostrategic importance. Due to its position in the Caribbean, Cuba can exert influence over the southeastern maritime approach to the United States, which contains vital sea lanes leading to ports in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston. Author George Friedman has argued that, with an increased presence in Cuba, China could potentially “block American ports without actually blocking them,” just like U.S. naval bases and installations pose a similar challenge to China around the first island chain and Straits of Malacca. Cuba’s influence in the Caribbean also makes it a useful proxy through which Beijing can pressure the four countries in the region (out of the 15 total globally) that recognize Taiwan to switch recognition.

The entire article is speculative. It is littered with words like “possible,” “can,” and “could.” The writers do not elaborate on how China might pressure the Caribbean countries. Usually countries switch allegiance to China from Taiwan based on financial inducements and not from hegemonic pressure.

Economic Support versus Economic Sanctions

The Diplomat writers argue that “China helps sustain the [Cuban] regime through economic engagement.”

What exactly do the writers intend to imply by economic engagement sustaining a regime? The logical corollary is that economic sanctions are aimed at “regime change.” Stemming from this logic, the US uses economic measures to sustain the theocratic criminality and corruption in Saudi Arabia and economic sanctions to try and change socialistic governments in, among others, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Nonetheless, trade is what countries do to build their economies.

Regarding the US favored method of applying pressure, American academics John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote: “economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”

The academics further noted,

It is interesting that this loss of human life has failed to make a great impression in the United States….

Some of the inattention may derive from a lack of concern about foreign lives. Although Americans are extremely sensitive to American casualties, they – like others – often seem quite insensitive to casualties suffered by those on the opposing side, whether military or civilian.

The world views economic sanctions in a different light from the US. This was illuminated by the UN General Assembly vote demanding an end to the US economic blockade on Cuba for the 29th year in a row. Aside from two negative votes cast by the US and its Israeli ally, 184 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

Perplexingly, the writers pointed out that “China has not, however, sold Cuba any significant weapons systems, as it has done with other states in the region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.”

To the extent that selling armaments is a legitimate business, then why shouldn’t China sell armaments? Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia are not warring with other countries. Regarding the morality of selling weapons, consider that the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country committing genocide against Yemen and to Israel, a country that serially aggresses and economically strangulates Palestine. Are the writers not aware that the US pokes China in the eye by selling armaments to its renegade province, Taiwan, in contravention of the One-China policy to which the US shook hands?

“Digital Authoritarianism”

The writers complain about “China exporting ‘digital authoritarianism’ to illiberal regimes across the region. In Venezuela, Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE helped the Maduro regime establish the ‘fatherland ID card’ system, which it used to control not only voting, but the distribution of scarce food packages.”

As for the ID cards, the link provided by the writers notes that the “system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela’s government.” Besides, which country does not require ID in order to cast a vote?

Why are the food packages scarce? What would one expect when the US has sanctions against Venezuela? It is quite disingenuous to criticize a government for food packages being scarce when that scarcity is caused by the writers’ own government. Moreover, the writers continue to use the word control pejoratively. Are the voting systems and economic distribution networks not a function of government implementation everywhere? If the writers want to insist that voting and the results are manipulated, then provide the evidence. Contrariwise, US observers endorsed the legitimacy of Venezuela’s May 2020 election; also, international observers were “unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly.” The link supplied by the writers is now dead, but the title reads: “For poor Venezuelans, a box of food may sway vote for Maduro.” While in Venezuela, a group of us visited the mercals — where food was being made affordable for the masses — where we were informed: “The Chavez administration does not want Venezuela’s food needs to be dependent on outside sources, so a concerted effort has been made to produce all foods locally.” Obviously that food independence is still a work in progress. Such progress is not made easier by being targeted by economic sanctions.

The writers make clear their anti-leftist and their anti-democracy views:

Leftist authoritarian regimes are consolidating control in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The populist left has returned to power in Bolivia in the form of the MAS party, in Argentina with the Peronists, and in Mexico with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Morena movement. In Peru, the recent election of Pedro Castillo, a teacher from Cajamarca with a radical left agenda, similarly raises alarm bells. Upcoming elections in the region raise the prospects for an even broader spread of the populist left, including the prospect of victory by Xiomara Castro in November 2021 elections in Honduras, a President Petro emerging from Colombia’s 2022 elections, or the return of Lula da Silva and his Workers’ Party in Brazil’s October 2022 elections.

Yikes! Democracy can be such a pain in the butt. As the anarchist professor Noam Chomsky wrote, “In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm.”6 For American elitists, “the United States supports democracy if, and only if, the outcomes accord with its strategic and economic objectives.”7 That the US did and would seek “regime change” in Latin America is borne out by its Operation Condor.

Lazarus and Ellis attempt to justify the US’ machinations against Cuba and China:

China’s continued efforts to prop up the Cuban regime matters to U.S. national security. For both good and bad, Cuba is connected to the United States through geographic proximity, historical connections, and family ties. The U.S. government has long focused on violations of the freedoms and human rights of the Cuban people.

The language of Lazarus and Ellis is oleaginous. Having a focus on human rights violations is qualitatively different from opposing human rights violations and quantitatively different from supporting human rights violations, as the US did when it supported the Fulgencio Batista “regime” (to use the parlance of Lazarus and Ellis) in Cuba, which served American corporate and military interests while massacring his own people. How does the occupation of Guantánamo Bay, where prisoners of war languish in what Amnesty International called the “gulag of our time”; the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Operation Northwoods; and economic sanctions speak for American fidelity to human rights?

The writers with ties to the US military accuse China of a “malign intent against the U.S. in cyberspace.” They reason that “Cuba could also be an area from which China could gather intelligence and conduct cyberattacks against the United States.”

The writers speculate about a malign Chinese intent. Malign intent is evidenced by the Stuxnet virus that the USA and Israel inserted into the Iranian nuclear program. The authors write as if the US is not guilty of the malignity they assert that China is guilty of.

How the United States Can Respond

Lazarus and Ellis argue that the US “should concentrate on helping partners in the region to engage with China in the most healthy, productive ways. For example, an emphasis on transparency inhibits the ability to engage in corrupt backroom deals with the Chinese that benefit the elites signing the deals rather than the country as a whole.”

Helping partners and advocating for transparency is great. Is this what the US does? It would be foolish to deny that the US does not engage with corrupt rulers, rulers who siphon off the loans meant for the people of the country who are then held responsible for the odious debt to the financial lenders?8

Lazarus and Ellis write, “With respect to cybersecurity, the United States should similarly look to increase support to partners in protecting their citizens’ privacy and security from malign actors like China.”

Let’s leave aside the unsupported allegation that China might be a malign actor. Instead, let’s ask what kind of actor is the US? Is it a benevolent actor? This is the actor that just recently ended a two-decade war in impoverished Afghanistan — a country where the US engaged in a cycle of war crimes. Ask yourself: is it a benevolent actor who engages in disinformation campaigns against countries like China that have eradicated absolute poverty (while in the US a 2019 measure of poverty showed a rate of 10.5%) and accuse it of the scurrilous and easily debunked allegation of committing genocide in Xinjiang? Is it an upstanding country that pursues the locking away of Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere?

The writers suggest part of the solution for escaping Chinese spying is cybersecurity training by the US.

Is that a good idea — trusting Uncle Sam? If you get trained by the US and use US technology, then you might end up being surveilled by the US. Ask German chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders.

Lazarus and Ellis persist:

While recent events in Cuba show China’s growing influence in the region, the CCP’s emphatic support of the Cuban regime’s repressive acts also highlights that it is on the wrong side of history. The U.S. must deepen partnerships with Latin American countries and Caribbean friends.

Was the US on the right side of history in Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, historical Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Chile, Grenada, etc? How should countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and the other Latin American countries targeted by Operation Condor feel about a deepened partnership? And how would the peoples of Caribbean countries — e.g., Haiti, Grenada, Puerto Rico, etc — feel about a deepened partnership with the US?

Lazarus and Ellis proffer the haggard imperialist platitudes of partnership based on shared values, security, prosperity, and freedom. Which populations would they like to tempt with such an offer? To the people who experienced US-supported coups in Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, or the masses in Venezuela subjected to unceasing American-government intrigues against their country? There is a reason why Latin Americans and Caribbean countries are leftists or turning leftward.

  1. See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon Books, 2002 edition).
  2. Throughout the article all emphases within quotations have been added by this writer.
  3. See here, here, and here.
  4. Cited in Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? Metropolitan Books, 2014: 100.
  5. Since the writers deem it important to identify the governments in China and Cuba as communist, it would seem appropriate and balanced to identify other governments by their ideology.
  6. Chomsky, 45.
  7. Chomsky, 74.
  8. See Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Seven Stories Press, 1999). Chomsky describes how neoliberalism and financial institutions like the IMF and its structural adjustments have plunged the masses in developing countries into despair.
The post Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

To The One Who Ruined My Life

(Copyright Free Image)

Dearest Uncle,

Hope you are doing well because I am not! All thanks to you.

For years, you have controlled me. Abused me. Held me back from the future I deserved.

During my early years, you saw I needed guidance, and you took advantage of my weakness. You exploited me. Used me. I was nothing but a pawn in your big, ugly game.

At that time, I was too vulnerable to know the toxicity of our relationship, yet too naïve to see through the kindness hiding the ulterior motives you harbored. Motives that served your interests, never mine.

Looking back, I understand the harsh truth. You feigned friendship. Little did I know you were patting my shoulder with one hand while stabbing me in the back with the other. All I received in return were pain and betrayal. I trusted you. You failed me. Miserably.

Remember those crazy times? I can never forget it, regardless of how hard I try. Those memories haunt me like a nightmare.

It wasn’t long before I realized you were a control freak, preying on my innocence. You were jealous, possessive, and narcissistic. You only worried about yourself—so selfish!

Then I began to think for myself and question the stranglehold you held over me. The day I rose was the day you lost power over me. It was also the day I began to clean up the mess you left in my life.

Truth be told, I know nothing infuriates you more than seeing someone stand on their own without your support. Even more so because I was very close at hand.

Ever since I stood on my own feet, you have been throwing stones at me. You’ve been criticizing everything I do, calling me names, and trying your best to bring me down. You’ve hurt me beyond measure.

The moment I stood up for myself and demanded my rightful respect, you saw me as a threat. Did you really think I would live out my days subservient to you?

You threatened to cut off support. A threat you eventually followed through with. When others tried to support me, you stopped them at every opportunity. Do you realize how your decision scarred me beyond repair? You have made life a living hell for my children and me.

What infuriates me most is when you claim to have done all that because you ‘cared’ for me and all for my own good. Really? I don’t think so. If you truly loved me, truly put my needs first, you would have lent me a hand instead of pushing me to the ground.

Not that I was perfect. Nobody is, including you. You have your faults too. And don’t get me started on your wrongdoings. Trust me; it’s an unforgivably long list.

I’m smaller than you. Weaker, not as powerful. You overshadowed me at every turn! That doesn’t excuse your misdeeds, not one bit.

Don’t underestimate me. I am small yet determined. Always remember—even a tiny spark can ignite a colossal fire.

Along the way, you’ve manipulated me, convincing me I was the crazy one. And you somehow managed to pull the wool over the eyes of others too. You told half-truths, making them believe I was awful and dangerous. You justified the unjustifiable punishments you inflicted upon me.

Me? Dangerous? Look who’s talking. The one who taught me everything I know.

Remember the saying, ‘When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.’ You’re the vile one. You’ve ruined more lives than I can fathom. Talk about hypocrisy!

But thankfully, I had a like-minded friend in my life. Someone who cared about me. He gave me what you couldn’t, or rather, wouldn’t—help, support, and above all, respect. He stood by me when you cast me aside. You despised him because he never got along with you. He challenged your authority over me and defied the limits you tried to put on him.

My friendship flourished, and I slowly got back on my feet. After all the trauma and abuse you inflicted upon me, I was healing year by year.

Everything went smoothly until the dreadful day when my friend left me. As they say—all good things must come to an end. When it happened in my life, it hit me harder than I thought it would have.

Nevertheless, being the resilient rebel I am, I picked myself up and wade through life no matter how hard it got. After all, I resisted you in the past. If I could move on after escaping your grasp, I could do the same after he left me, too.

Fast forward, and now it’s been decades since I broke free of your clutches and started surviving on my own. They say time heals all wounds. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with me.

You convinced others that the blame for my suffering lay at my feet. That’s not true. Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs. I would be lying if I said I am faultless. I accept the responsibility that is mine, but the root cause of my current problematic state is you.

In your eyes, you see yourself as a benevolent big brother—always ‘caring’ for others. But in reality, you are nothing more than a big bully. Always putting pressure on others under the guise of doing good. You took what you wanted from me, even if it meant using force. Like a mighty bald eagle preying on a weaker bird.

You wanted me to be your puppet, with you pulling the strings from behind to control and manipulate me. Fortunately, despite your many attempts, I never fell into the same trap again.

I’m not ashamed of myself, I only regret that I ever trusted you. You are the one who should be apologetic for the way you treated me. I don’t deserve any of this. In fact, nobody does.

At times, I wish you were in my shoes. I want you to feel the agonizing pain and immense struggle you put me through. But I’m not heartless like you. I don’t want others to go through the pain I endured.

Do you know how badly I needed your apology? I wished you’d realize the extent of the damage you’ve done. As expected, you never paid me any attention once I left your control. Classic you!

To this day, you don’t have the courage to own up to the mess you created in my life. You always tell me life’s hard for everyone, and I didn’t have it in me to overcome the hurdles along my way. You think I’m a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve sympathy.

You broke me, emotionally and financially. Yet there’s one thing you will never break—my spirit. That’s what has kept me going, despite my many shortcomings.

Over time, I’d hoped you wouldn’t hurt anyone else the way you hurt me. But, being the megalomaniac you are, you went on to ruin many lives just like mine.

Time and again, I wish I’d never been so close to you. The proximity made me more vulnerable to your predatory advances.

I know you will never bother to give a damn about any of this. In your make-believe world, you’ve done nothing wrong, and I’ve brought this upon myself.

Thinking about the future upsets me. If I have a future, to begin with. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or what will become of me. Yet I know what I strive never to become—you. The last thing I want is for me to be like you.

A John Milton poem says, ‘Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.’ I would rather be my own master than be your slave. Regardless of how shitty my life is, I can still live with dignity instead of living under your mercy.

As I am writing this letter, I recognize how pointless it is. You’re not going to mend your ways; your massive ego won’t allow it to happen. I’m not saying you’ll never change. That is always a possibility. Deep inside my heart, there is a sliver of hope that someday, you’ll have a change of heart.

Even now, you’re desperate to control me. I’m sick and tired of your never-ending reprimands and threats. I can’t take the abuse anymore. I refuse to endure any more mistreatment at your hand.
I am utterly frustrated and dismayed. Enough is enough!

Try whatever you wish. I won’t give in to your manipulative tendencies. No longer will I be a pawn in your game, for I am the master of my own destiny.

My life is not yours. It never was and never will be.

It is mine and mine only. I am going to fight to survive, whatever it takes.

So, save yourself the effort and stop playing with my life. I may make mistakes, but they will be MY mistakes. Trusting you was my mistake.

Thank you for fucking up my very existence, Uncle Sam.

Yours regretfully,

Cuba

*****
Since the dawn of the 20th Century, the United States government has tried to control its neighboring island nation of Cuba. During the 1940s, US-backed Dictator Fulgencio Batista’s pro-American policies caused public dissatisfaction, eventually resulting in political repression and human rights abuses. All this led to the Cuban Revolution, where Cuba allied with the Soviet Union, after which the US imposed an economic embargo on Cuba. For almost sixty years now, the draconian blockade has exacerbated the socioeconomic difficulties experienced by the island’s million citizens. To this day, their struggle continues.

The post To The One Who Ruined My Life first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Cuba Is Putting Its Heart into the Olympic Games in Tokyo

When dawn broke this morning on the fourteenth day of the Olympic Games, Cuba was in 15th place in the Tokyo medal standings. It is admirable and not fortuitous that the small island of only 11 million people is 15th among the 204 countries attending the world games.

Each of the talented athletes who represent the Cuban flag in Japan trained and sacrificed to represent their country. The passion they exhibit on the field, including those who have not won medals, moves us here.

Cuba will not forget the tears of young Juan Miguel Echevarría, who was hampered by a femoral bicep injury that prevented him from jumping for the sixth time during the final competition on August 1.

He knelt just above the takeoff board and hit the ground with his fists. “I cried, but not from the joy of the silver medal, but from the pain of losing the gold,” he told the press.

The island will also not forget the joy on the face of four-time Olympic champion Mijaín López when he defeated his rival Iakob Kadzhaia in Greco-Roman wrestling on August 2. All of Cuba was awake at 4am local time to watch the match of the irreducible Cuban giant, who won with little effort and became the best wrestler in the history of this sport.

“I think I’m just doing my job,” Mijaín said minutes after the victory as if he had not just accomplished this tremendous feat.

“I am fulfilling what I learned, what I was taught by my ancestors, my parents, my children, my grandparents… No matter how great you are, humility will always be greater than virtue,” he added.

Then on August 2, a photo was taken by a Cuban photographer that took Cuba by storm: the legendary Mijaín López carrying Luis Alberto Orta, who also won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, just 30 minutes apart. A Cuban flag was shining brightly between the two of them.

Athletes have not only gone to Japan to leave their hearts, but they have also gone to defend their country from any provocation or expression of hatred. This was the case of young boxer Julio Cesar la Cruz, who faced Cuban-Spanish Enmanuel Reyes during the most awaited fight of July 30.

The fight occurred shortly after Reyes, who was representing the Spanish flag in the ring, threatened to “tear off the head” of his opponent, regardless of the fact that both were born in the same country.

“I will be the first person to shout ‘Patria y Vida’ (Homeland and Life) in the Olympics,” he added, alluding to the song that has allegedly become the anthem of the Cuban right-wing.

La Cruz won after beating Reyes in the first and third rounds. Before getting out of the ring, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Homeland and Life, no. Homeland or Death. We will prevail,” in honor of Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro.

Not only have the athletes given their all in these Olympic Games. The sports reporters have also been heroes, and they have served as a bridge between Cubans and the emotions experienced in Tokyo.

No Cuban will forget journalist Renier Gonzalez’s narration of the 1,000-meter double canoe race, in which the Cubans Serguey Torres and Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez won the gold medal by a mere 0.2 seconds.

As the final-second battle between the Chinese canoe and the Cuban canoe, Gonzalez fired off words as he sat up and stood from his seat; “Here comes the Cuban canoe, here comes the Chinese canoe… Seguey, Dayan. Come on, let’s all paddle, Cubans. Come on. We will have a medal. China, Cuba, Cuba. Gold medal for Cuba! The Cuban canoe is gold!”

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has called each medalist after every victory, could not contain his emotion as he congratulated Torres and Fernando Dayán. “The final seconds were electrifying. You rowed your hearts out,” he told them.

The feat of this small Caribbean island in Tokyo has been historic. The athletes are holding Cuba’s name up high amid the most difficult conditions. The country is fighting against a seemingly unstoppable pandemic while media attacks are gaining strength, and food and medicine shortages persist. However, Cuba perceives the Tokyo Olympics as a shining example of the resistance of the Cuban people to hatred, to adversity.

The post Cuba Is Putting Its Heart into the Olympic Games in Tokyo first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Progressive Death of Progressivism

Emblematic of our times, the Berniecrat organization Our Revolution – never remotely revolutionary – has rebranded itself as “pragmatic progressive.” This innovation is based on the realization that progressive reforms will never be enacted unless they are fought for.  And, since they are not about to fight President Biden, then it is only programmatic to accept that these reforms won’t happen.

Our Revolution surrenders

Good bye, Medicare-for-All, now that Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Bernie Sanders have abandoned the cause. Never mind that a majority of the electorate still favors the proposal. But to get Medicare-for-All, progressives would have to stand up to the Democratic Party. And that would entail a fight and therefore is not pragmatic.

A major reason for the Democrat’s obstruction of Medicare-for-All is that the health insurance industry and big pharma bought them off plus the entrenchment of corporate interests more broadly in the party. However, another factor is at work. Access to healthcare free-at-the-point-of-service would make working people more secure. For the exploiting class, it is better to forego a small gain in profits as the tradeoff for keeping workers precarious and thus less demanding. The people who run the Democratic Party know which side of the class barricades they are on; unfortunately, some progressives do not.

Some of the dump-Trump veterans, who are now AWOL in the battle against the current leader of the imperialist camp, proclaim Joe Biden is the political incarnate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lost in the fog of war is the fact that, for over forty years, Biden has been among the architects of the neoliberal project associated with the Democratic Leadership Group to bury FDR’s New Deal.

The New Deal was an experiment in a mild form of social democracy, where the capitalist ruling class allowed a degree of social welfare state functions in return for labor peace. Ever since Carter, gaining steam with Reagan and Clinton, and continuing now with Biden, neoliberal reform has entailed privatization of education, health, and other state enterprises, economic austerity for working people, and deregulation and tax relief for the corporations, while augmenting the coercive apparatus of the state. In short, since the 1970s, neoliberalism has been the form of contemporary capitalism.

This is what democracy looks like

In the run-up to the US 2020 presidential election, some erstwhile progressives told us to hold our noses and get on the Biden bandwagon. Then, as they worked alongside the decadent Democrats, they became desensitized to the redolence of being in proximity to power. And now some counsel us to stand down to the powerful and join in attacking the official enemies of Washington.

However, some Berniecrats have resisted the succor of the Democrat’s big tent and are still fighting the good fight under the banner of the Movement for a People’s Party. They have had the temerity to picket Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to hold her feet to the fire on her campaign promises.

This is what democracy looks like. Politicians can hardly be blamed for gravitating to the rewards of party orthodoxy, if their constituents fail to demand that they follow through on the platform that got them elected. But for demanding that politicians that talk progressive also walk progressive, those who speak truth to power are attacked by those who no longer consistently do so.

So, we often see the following progression. After shirking from criticizing the powerful, the next career move is to find legitimacy by criticizing those who do. For example, the Young Turks show accused anti-imperialist Grayzone reporter Aaron Mate falsely and without evidence of being “paid by the Russians.”

This is symptomatic of elements of progressivism who have become ever more comfortable with the Democrats as the only alternative to what they perceive as the greater evil of the Republicans. Since they now eschew criticizing those actually in power, they are relegated to attacking the genuine left. Rather than “battling Biden” as they promised after “dumping Trump,” some progressives have descended the slippery slope into providing left cover for the Democrats both on domestic and, as argued below, international fronts.

Covering for imperialism

The domestic capitulation of some self-identified progressives also translates into a deafening silence about opposing the imperialism of the Democratic Party. Shortly after the dawn of the new millennium, the US anti-war movement experienced a resurgence against Republican President George W. Bush’s Iraq war. But soon as Democrat Barack Obama took office, with Bush’s Secretary of Defense Gates still in charge, the anti-war movement collapsed and has been since largely quiescent.

More recently, imperialist ventures have been greeted with more than silence. There are now, unfortunately, full-throated echoes of the imperialist’s talking points by former anti-war activists and intellectuals.

Take the arguably once progressive NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) in a recent article specifically calling for “taking off the cloak of silence.” NACLA reports on the “long-standing totalitarian Cuban government.” According to the author, an expert on “social and cultural entrepreneurship” (i.e., promotion of capitalism), the US blockade of Cuba “isn’t responsible for the island’s economic downfall. Instead that is a result of the powerful [Cuban government] elite’s iron grip and stockpiling.” Of course, if that were anywhere near the truth, the US would have no need for the blockade.

This takes place in the context of President Biden doubling down on a regime-change offensive, reversing campaign promises to reverse Trump’s illegal sanctions on Cuba. Washington now believes Cuba is close to falling due to the deprivation caused by the ever-tightening US blockade exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

Further, NACLA tells us that the view of Cuba as a “model for many anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements” is not only wrong but that the Cuban’s attempt at socialism is based on “an economic model that is inherently ineffective.” Unfortunately, that verdict has a perverse element of truth. As long as the US can impose suffocating unilateral coercive measures on Cuba and other small nations striving for an alternative to neoliberalism, the socialist model will not be allowed to succeed.

Socialism is supposed to satisfy people’s needs, while capitalism is inherently a system that creates unlimited perceived needs without the means for their fulfillment. That is, under capitalism, a system driven by individual greed, one cannot ever accumulate too much. The carrot on a stick, perpetually dangled out of reach, is the essence of what the author of the NACLA article proudly calls “entrepreneurship.”

But what happens when – as the NACLA article admonishes – the nation striving for socialism can no longer “cover the basic necessities to make daily life worth living”? Apparently, solidarity with the Cubans against attacks by the world’s superpower is not paramount for some self-identified progressives who issued a recent petition to the Cuban government.

Their Change.org petition, quoting Rosa Luxemburg on freedom from a repressive state, demanded the release of Frank García Hernández arrested by the Cuban government on July 11. However, the Mr. García had already been released the following day, while the petition was still being circulated.

Whatever the intentions of the individual signatories of the petition, its actual impact had nothing to do with freeing someone who was already free and everything to do with providing a left cover for imperialism. Had the signatories been genuinely concerned with what they perceived as an overreaction by the Cubans to a manifestly existential security threat to their revolution, they should have also addressed the petition to the White House and demanded the ending or at least easing of that security threat. Some of these same individuals have also signed petitions against Nicaragua, Syria, and other official enemies of the US.

Struggling on two fronts

Meanwhile, the neoliberal order is becoming more and more exposed, with billionaires increasing their net worth astronomically while working people face a yet to be contained pandemic with inadequate healthcare, unemployment, and austerity. This is fuel for the populist right-wing, which could be the shock troops of a fascist movement. But we are not there yet.

The legitimate concern about fascism, when associated exclusively with Trump and his followers, has been used by some self-identified progressives as an excuse to embrace the Democrats. The struggle against “neofascist” Trumpism has been coopted into a surrender into the main party now in charge of the imperialist state and increasingly distinguishing itself as the leading proponent of war.

The January 6th riot by Trump supporters at the Capital Building was conflated by Democrats into a coup attempt of new kind where the perpetrators, instead of taking state power, took selfies and went home. Some of the villains of January 6th, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, turned out to be friendly with the FBI and possible agents with get-out-of-jail-free passes.

It would be cold comfort for progressives to discover that they have triumphed against the crude fascism of working-class guys with tattoos only to find that the friendly fascism of Saint Robert Mueller’s national security state has prevailed. Progressives, who have their canons aimed at Mar-a-Lago, may be leaving their backs exposed to those who now hold state power in Washington.

The ensuing clamor after January 6 from would-be progressives to expand the already enormous police powers of the state against protesters is an example of the dictum that you should be careful about what you wish for. The state coercive apparatus – police, military, homeland security, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. – has been and will be used against the left.

The genuinely progressive solution is not to support one or the other neoliberal party, which are collectively the perpetrators of the current calamity, but to struggle against the conditions that foster a right-wing insurgency. That is, resist both right-wing populism and the established ruling class, with the main emphasis on those in power.

The post The Progressive Death of Progressivism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Great Contest of Our Time Is between Humanity and Imperialism

Uttam Ghosh (India), Let Cuba Live, 2021.

Uttam Ghosh (India), Let Cuba Live, 2021.

On 23 July 2021, a full-page appeal appeared in the New York Times calling on United States President Joe Biden to withdraw the vindictive US blockade against Cuba. As that appeal went to press, I spoke to Chinese journalist Lu Yuanzhi of Global Times (GT). The remainder of this newsletter carries the contents of that interview, which ranges from the US policy against Cuba to the New Cold War against China.

Ryan Honeyball (South Africa), Unite Against Imperialism, 2021.

Ryan Honeyball (South Africa), Unite Against Imperialism, 2021.

Global Times: The novel coronavirus epidemic and the long-term US blockade have severely hit Cubans’ wellbeing. By exploiting Cuba’s current hardships, the US is exacerbating problems. As the sole superpower, the US has long pursued a hostile policy toward this small socialist country to its south. Why can’t the US tolerate a small socialist country in its periphery?

Vijay Prashad: Cuba, since 1959, has offered an alternative vision for humanity, one that puts the well-being of people before the requirements of profit. That Cuba – a poor country – was able to vanquish hunger and illiteracy rather quickly, while the US – a rich country – continues to be plagued by such elementary problems illustrates the humanity at the core of the socialist project. This is unforgivable for the elites in the US. Hence, they continue to tighten the wretched blockade against Cuba. In fact, they use all kinds of means – including social media warfare, a part of the hybrid war strategy – to undermine the confidence of the Cuban people. This was attempted on 11 July, but it failed. Tens of thousands of Cubans took to the street to defend their Revolution.

GT: Although the UN has overwhelmingly condemned the US blockade against Cuba for many years in a row, Washington has continued its inhumane policy. What does this mean for the US’ international image? US President Joe Biden said, ‘The US stands firmly with the people of Cuba’, but his administration has no intention to lift the blockade. Who are the audiences of such hypocritical diplomatic rhetoric?

VP: The US does not ‘stand firmly with the people of Cuba’. In fact, the US stands on the neck of the Cuban people. This is clear to the 184 member states of the UN that voted on 23 June to send a message to the US to end the blockade. The fact is that President Joe Biden has refused to even roll back the 243 coercive measures implemented by Donald Trump. The world recognises the cruelty of the blockade on Cuba and of the illegal sanctions policy that the US exercises against at least 30 countries around the world. But, because of the power of the US, there are only a few countries that are willing to do more than vote in the UN General Assembly on behalf of Cuba.

Cuba needs material support, which is lacking from the international community; this material support would include supplies for the Cuban pharmaceutical industry, for example, and it would include food. If the US does not roll back the blockade, will key countries of the world come together to break it?

Lizzie Suarez (US), Hands Off Cuba!, 2021.

Lizzie Suarez (US), Hands Off Cuba!, 2021.

GT: The US’ handling of the COVID-19 epidemic is obviously a failure, with the highest death toll across the world. In the face of the pandemic, the US capitalist system’s value of economics over human life has been fully exposed. The pandemic has put a dent in the US’ institutional advantages and discursive power. Has the capitalist system become dysfunctional in the face of major crises?

VP: The capitalist system is very good at generating vast amounts of commodities and very high qualities of certain kinds of commodities. It is good at producing high-value medical care, for instance, but not so good at producing quality public health care. This has to do with the profit motive. Since there is great social inequality, most of the public does not have cash in their pockets for quality health care, so health care simply is not affordable or possible for the vast majority. It is this attitude towards health and education that shows us the inhumane side of capitalism. During the pandemic, 64 countries spent more to service their external debt than on health care. Such are the ways of the capitalist system: to ensure that wealthy bond holders in the developed world make their money while the poor struggle to survive.

GT: China’s response to the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the strengths of its people-oriented philosophy and its political system. What is your take on the increasing influence of China’s political system after the pandemic? How can the outside world better understand the unique advantages of China’s political system under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC)? How can China better counter the West’s slander of the CPC?

VP: China’s approach to the pandemic has been along the grain of the World Health Organisation’s recommendation: use science, compassion, and collaboration to tackle the pandemic. The Chinese people volunteered to help each other, doctors who are Communist Party members volunteered to go to the frontlines, and the Chinese state opened its coffers to ensure that the disease was vanquished and that the people did not suffer from a prolonged economic downturn. There is much to be learned from this approach; our studies on CoronaShock delve into this.

This stands in stark contrast to the anti-science, inhumane, and narrowly nationalistic attitude of many of the Western countries and several others in the developing world; their approach led to chaos. It is because of the failure in places such as the US that Trump, for instance, began to blame China in a racist way for the emergence of the virus. We know scientifically that viruses appear for a variety of reasons, and none of them have to do with race. Chinese intellectuals and others need to offer clear accounts of Chinese developments, including the abolition of extreme poverty and the rather quick defeat of COVID-19. Such accounts will help people in other parts of the world understand the relationship between public action and state action in China. This is widely misunderstood, largely because of the information war pursued by the US and its allies. On 23 July, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research published a key text called Serve the People: The Eradication of Extreme Poverty in China based on field studies of the abolition of extreme poverty.

Justina Chong (People’s Republic of China), El cosechero (‘The Harvester’), 2021.

Justina Chong (People’s Republic of China), El cosechero (‘The Harvester’), 2021.

GT: The West’s narrative of the CPC in recent years has always avoided mentioning the CPC’s positive effects on China’s social progress and global economic development. Why can’t the West objectively evaluate the CPC?

VP: The West cannot be objective because the West fears the rise of Chinese science and technology. For the past 50 years, Western firms have monopolised the areas of high-tech, using intellectual property laws to lengthen their copyright advantages. Developments in China are an existential threat to the dominance of these Western firms in areas such as telecommunications, robotics, high-speed rail, and new energy technology. It is the fear of losing supremacy in these key tech sectors that drives the ‘new cold war’ against China and prevents a sober assessment of Chinese developments.

Rather than develop a sensible attitude, the West has gone in four directions. First, it has prosecuted a trade and economic war against China to maintain US economic and technological supremacy. Second, it has pressured developing countries and US allies to break with Chinese firms and isolate China. Third, it has attempted to smear China’s reputation by misleadingly using the framework of ‘human rights’ and by supporting anti-government and separatist forces within China. Lastly, it has pursued military provocation, particularly through the Quad alliance (Australia, India, Japan, and the US). These mechanisms blind the Western public to the realities of China.

GT: During China’s reform and opening up period, the country has been open to learning from Western societies. This has greatly boosted China’s development. Do you think there can be such an ideological emancipation in the West to take China’s political system seriously? 

VP: One hopes that clarity will come to the Western public, who are – as yet – guided by a political class that is doing the work for sectors of the economy that are threatened by Chinese scientific and technological developments. In the short run, no such positive evaluation is possible. It is more likely for such an evaluation to come in the countries of Africa, Latin America, and southern Asia, where people will understand the immense power of the abolition of extreme poverty and the immense power of the creation of an indigenous high-tech industry. Under Lula, Brazil abolished hunger through the Fome Zero programme, while the Left Democratic Front-led Indian state Kerala has recently embarked on a poverty eradication programme. These areas of the world can better appreciate the strides taken by the Chinese people than those who live in the West.

Yoemnis Batista Del Toro (Cuba), Untitled, 2021.

Yoemnis Batista Del Toro (Cuba), Untitled, 2021.

GT: Since Biden took office, his administration has spared no effort to rope in like-minded democracies to contain China, attempting to replicate the rivalry between the two blocs led by the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Do you think the democratic card is an effective way for the US to rally an anti-China camp?

VP: The idea of a community of democracies has a farcical edge to it because this new group is being put together to use all manners of force (diplomatic, economic, military, etc.) to pressure China and Russia to reverse their advances. A truly democratic group should abide by the UN Charter, which is exactly what the kind of sanctions policies enacted by the Western countries defies. That is why 18 countries have created the Group of Friends in Defence of the UN Charter. This is an important development, since it suggests that the point is to stand by the Charter and not to speak in the name of an abstract democracy that often means that a country must be subordinate to Western interests. The world does not wish to be divided into camps.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will be 60 years old this September. The appetite in the developing world remains for the NAM project. Countries do not want to pick sides in a ‘new cold war’ that no-one, apart from the US, wants. The divide is not between China and the US, a division that the US is trying to impose on the world: the divide is between humanity and imperialism.

GT: Your book Washington Bullets lists the assassinations and infiltrations of the US CIA in various places. US imperialism has been resisted on a global scale. How do you see the fate of US imperialism?

VP: The US remains a very powerful country, with the largest military force that is capable of action anywhere on the planet and with forms of soft power (such as cultural and diplomatic power) that are enviable. Despite the terrible record of US interference in the developing world – which I document in Washington Bullets (2020) – the US retains a powerful hold on the world’s imagination. There remains a view – however wrong it is – that the US operates its power in a benevolent manner and that it acts in the universal, and not nationalist, interest. The cultural power of the US is considerable, which is why the US is so easily able to wield the weapons of information against any adversary.

Roughly 30 years ago, Cuba’s Fidel Castro urged countries around the world not to neglect the battle of ideas. US imperialism is not eternal. It is being confronted now by the growth of multipolarity and regionalism. These are the key developments that cannot be stopped by the US military or by cultural power. Multipolarity and regionalism are the real movement of history. They will eventually prevail.

Gabriel de Medeiros Silveira (Brazil), Break the Wall, 2021.

Gabriel de Medeiros Silveira (Brazil), Break the Wall, 2021.

The art in this newsletter comes from the Let Cuba Live exhibition by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, launched on the anniversary of the 26 July Movement’s founding in Cuba as peace-loving people across the world rally around the demand for an end to the US blockade.

The post The Great Contest of Our Time Is between Humanity and Imperialism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US State Department Lectures Cuba about Human Rights and Living Conditions

Today with the height of imperial arrogance and hubris, the US State Department issued a joint statement to further its plans to destroy Cuba and all the gains it has made in health, education and welfare. Lining up 20 spineless, neo liberal countries beholden to them and led by right wing governments including; Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and Ukraine to sign on to the statement that read in part, “we condemn the mass arrests and detentions of protestors in Cuba and call on the government to respect the universal rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, including the free flow of information to all Cubans….. On July 11, tens of thousands of Cuban citizens participated in peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest deteriorating living conditions and to demand change.  They exercised universal freedoms of expression and assembly, rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…”

That is rich coming from the country that holds the biggest responsibility for the shortages and hardships in Cuba with its draconian economic blockade on a people that never threatened or attacked them for over 60 years. Exaggeration of the number of people protesting against the Cuban government on July 11 seems to grow by the day in social media along with nonexistent deaths with zero proof like providing names. If you wondered where those millions of dollars in grants that USAID and NED gives out with the sole purpose of undermining the Cuban government went to, well here is a good example; bombarding social media to sew confusion and creating twitter accounts of people that don’t exist, all to fan discontent around the difficult austerity that Cuba has been forced to endure through little fault of their own.

The US is in no position to preach to any country about human rights or deteriorating living conditions. All you have to do is go to just any US city and look in the streets and under the highways where there are millions living in their cars or in tents or in nothing at all, epidemic here nonexistent in Cuba and as the federal moratorium on evictions comes to an end at the US this month there will be tens of thousands more thrown out  scrambling to find some help in the few, underfunded, disconnected patchwork of social programs. Millions in the US have no medical coverage while in Cuba health care is free for everyone no matter how costly the procedure.

Violations of human rights? Consider the violence that peaceful protestors regularly meet in the streets of the US facing the latest military grade weapons, police attacks with tear gas, rubber bullets and much more. The protestors in Cuba faced nothing even close to that on June 11. What about the human rights abuses in US war prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo?  And aren’t the drone bombings of thousands of civilian deaths in countries in the Middle East and Africa, accelerated by Obama, don’t they constitute supreme human rights violations?

Every country has laws and Cuba does too and they have every right to apply their laws to people who break them as they see fit. According to Cuban media many of those arrested on July 11 have been released and others will stand trial. Who is the US to talk about incarceration when they have more people locked up (disproportionately people of color) per capita than any country in the world? This is the kind of thing that the US excels at. Being a member in good standing in the community of nations, helping each other out, it is not.

The post US State Department Lectures Cuba about Human Rights and Living Conditions first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm

Préfète Duffaut (Haiti), Le Générale Canson, 1950.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.

Osmond Watson (Jamaica), City Life, 1968.

Today, crisis is the hour in the Caribbean.

On 7 July, just outside of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, gunmen broke into the home of President Jovenel Moïse, assassinated him in cold blood, and then fled. The country – already wracked by social upheaval sparked by the late president’s policies – has now plunged even deeper into crisis. Already, Moïse had forcefully extended his presidential mandate beyond his term as the country struggled with the burdens of being dependent on international agencies, trapped by a century-long economic crisis, and struck hard by the pandemic. Protests had become commonplace across Haiti as the prices of everything skyrocketed and as no effective government came to the aid of a population in despair. But Moïse was not killed because of this proximate crisis. More mysterious forces are at work: US-based Haitian religious leaders, narco-traffickers, and Colombian mercenaries. This is a saga that is best written as a fictional thriller.

Four days after Moïse’s assassination, Cuba experienced a set of protests from people expressing their frustration with shortages of goods and a recent spike of COVID-19 infections. Within hours of receiving the news that the protests had emerged, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, south of Havana, to march with the protestors. Díaz-Canel and his government reminded the eleven million Cubans that the country has suffered greatly from the six-decade-long illegal US blockade, that it is in the grip of Trump’s 243 additional ‘coercive measures’, and that it will fight off the twin problems of COVID-19 and a debt crisis with its characteristic resolve.

Nonetheless, a malicious social media campaign attempted to use these protests as a sign that the government of Díaz-Canel and the Cuban Revolution should be overthrown. It was clarified a few days later that this campaign was run from Miami, Florida, in the United States. From Washington, DC, the drums of regime change sounded loudly. But they have not found find much of an echo in Cuba. Cuba has its own revolutionary rhythms.

Eduardo Abela (Cuba), Los Guajiros (1938).

In 1804, the Haitian Revolution – a rebellion of the plantation proletariat who struck against the agricultural factories that produced sugar and profit – sent up a flare of freedom across the colonised world. A century and a half later, the Cubans fired their own flare.

The response to each of these revolutions from the fossilised magnates of Paris and Washington was the same: suffocate the stirrings of freedom by indemnities and blockades. In 1825, the French demanded through force that the Haitians pay 150 million francs for the loss of property (namely human beings). Alone in the Caribbean, the Haitians felt that they had no choice but to pay up, which they did to France (until 1893) and then to the United States (until 1947). The total bill over the 122 years amounts to $21 billion. When Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to recover those billions from France in 2003, he was removed from office by a coup d’état.

After the United States occupied Cuba in 1898, it ran the island like a gangster’s playground. Any attempt by the Cubans to exercise their sovereignty was squashed with terrible force, including invasions by US forces in 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, and 1933. The United States backed General Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944 and 1952-1959) despite all the evidence of his brutality. After all, Batista protected US interests, and US firms owned two-thirds of the country’s sugar industry and almost its entire service sector.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 stands against this wretched history – a history of slavery and imperial domination. How did the US react? By imposing an economic blockade on the country from 19 October 1960 that lasts to this day, which has targeted everything from access to medical supplies, food, and financing to barring Cuban imports and coercing third-party countries to do the same. It is a vindictive attack against a people who – like the Haitians – are trying to exercise their sovereignty. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). ‘At current prices’, he said, ‘the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion’.

None of this information would be available without the presence of media outlets such as Peoples Dispatch, which celebrates its three-year anniversary this week. We send our warmest greetings to the team and hope that you will bookmark their page to visit it several times a day for world news rooted in people’s struggles.

Bernadette Persaud (Guyana), Gentlemen Under the Sky (Gulf War), 1991.

On 17 July, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to defend their Revolution and demand an end to the US blockade. President Díaz-Canel said that the Cuba of ‘love, peace, unity, [and] solidarity’ had asserted itself. In solidarity with this unwavering affirmation, we have launched a call for participation in the exhibition Let Cuba Live. The submission deadline is 24 July for the online exhibition launch on 26 July – the anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought Cuba to Revolution in 1959 – but we encourage ongoing submissions. We are inviting international artists and militants to participate in this flash exhibition as we continue to amplify the campaign #LetCubaLive to end the blockade.

A few weeks before the most recent attack on Cuba and the assassination in Haiti, the United States armed forces conducted a major military exercise in Guyana called Tradewinds 2021 and another exercise in Panama called Panamax 2021. Under the authority of the United States, a set of European militaries (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) – each with colonies in the region – joined Brazil and Canada to conduct Tradewinds with seven Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago). In a show of force, the US demanded that Iran cancel the movement of its ships to Venezuela in June ahead of the US-sponsored military exercise.

The United States is eager to turn the Caribbean into its sea, subordinating the sovereignty of the islands. It was curious that Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that these US-led war games strengthen the ‘Caribbean regional security system’. What they do, as our recent dossier on US and French military bases in Africa shows, is to subordinate the Caribbean states to US interests. The US is using its increased military presence in Colombia and Guyana to increase pressure on Venezuela.

Elsa Gramcko (Venezuela), El ojo de la cerradura (‘The Keyhole’), 1964.

Sovereign regionalism is not alien to the Caribbean, which has made four attempts to build a platform: the West Indian Federation (1958-1962), Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1973), Caribbean Community (1973-1989), and CARICOM (1989 to the present). What began as an anti-imperialist union has now devolved into a trade association that attempts to better integrate the region into world trade. The politics of the Caribbean are increasingly being drawn into orbit of the US. In 2010, the US created the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative, whose agenda is shaped by Washington.

In 2011, our old friend Shridath Ramphal, Guyana’s foreign minister from 1972 to 1975, repeated the words of the great Grenadian radical T. A. Marryshow: ‘The West Indies must be West Indian’. In his article ‘Is the West Indies West Indian?’, he insisted that the conscious spelling of ‘The West Indies’ with a capitalised ‘T’ aims to signify the unity of the region. Without unity, the old imperialist pressures will prevail as they often do.

In 1975, the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón published a landmark poem called “Mujer Negra” (“Black Woman”). The poem opens with the terrible trade of human beings by the European colonialists, touches on the war of independence, and then settles on the remarkable Cuban Revolution of 1959:

I came down from the Sierra

to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to the bourgeoisie.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is alien to us.
The land is ours.
Ours are the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
My fellow people, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood already resounds.

The land is ours. Sovereignty is ours too. Our destiny is not to live as the subordinate beings of others. That is the message of Morejón and of the Cuban people who are building their sovereign lives, and it is the message of the Haitian people who want to advance their great Revolution of 1804.

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