Caracas.— Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla called on the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba-TCP) to strengthen strategies to confront imperialist intervention and coup plots on the continent.

In his comments, during the Alba-TCP Political Council meeting to discuss common strategies to defend the region, Rodríguez likewise called on social movements to defend progressive governments facing attacks orchestrated by foreign powers, as is the case in Venezuela, which was subjected to an attempt by the Organization of American States (OAS) to justify intervention via the application of the bloc’s Inter-American Charter, as well as Brazil, where a parliamentary coup and media campaign are currently underway against the country’s legitimate President, Dilma Rousseff.

In his remarks, broadcast by teleSUR, the Cuban Foreign Minister emphasized the timeliness of Alba’s mobilization given the escalating right wing offensive taking place across the region.

He stressed that in these circumstances, it is the Alba-TCP Political Council’s responsibility to mobilize popular and political movements, revolutionary and progressive forces, trade unions, campesinos, and intellectuals to confront imperialist intervention, coups, and neo-liberalism.

The Cuban diplomat explained that to do so, regional unity and the gains achieved by the continent in international organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be consolidated. He stressed:


“Latin America and the Caribbean have changed, we are no longer, nor will we be, the backyard of the United States, we will not allow for the return of the carrot and the stick and I repeat that no one can beguile Cuba, which is still under blockade and whose territory in Guantánamo is still occupied, while attempts are made to isolate Venezuela.”


In this regard, he added that the region is at present threatened by the U.S. government and national oligarchies, who, for lack of popular support, “Again resort to coups to reverse sovereignty over our natural resources, our policies of independence and social development.”

During his speech to the Council, Rodríguez noted that the continent’s history will be defined in the current battle of Venezuela against constant threats, and reaffirmed Cuba’s solidarity and the deep bonds between the two nations. He said:


The history of Latin America and the Caribbean is being decided in this battle, here in Venezuela, we will all defend, whatever the price, the legacy of (Hugo) Chávez and Venezuela will continue to have in Cuba a sister nation ready to share the same fate.”


Saint Kitts and Nevis Senior Foreign Service Officer, Samuel Berridge, also stated his country’s support for the Bolivarian Republic and highlighted the progress made during the past 17 years, thanks to agreements such as Petrocaribe, and the services provided to the peoples through different social missions.

“We are encouraged by the model of social cohesion in Venezuela,” Berridge stated, while expressing support for dialogue initiatives promoted by the national government, accompanied by the support of UNASUR.

“Saint Kitts and Nevis is supportive of the government and people of Venezuela and is committed to ensuring the onset of a new era of economic growth and development in Venezuela. Venezuela is an important member in our hemisphere, the country is of no interest to us weakened and will be of no benefit to Alba or the rest of the hemisphere,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile the Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, condemned the media campaigns against leftist governments in the region, which seek to set the stage for imperialist aggression. She pointed out:


“The peoples do not want to go back to the dark decade of neoliberalism, they do not want to be politically, economically, financially suppressed and subjugated and handed over to the International Monetary Fund.”


According to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the main topic of discussion at the meeting was the need to create a common strategy for the defense and freedom of our revolutionary processes.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Guillaume Long, highlighted that the union of the ALBA-TCP countries is necessary to address and counter the effects of the global right in their attacks against the region.

The Minister of the Presidency of Bolivia, Juan Ramón Quintana, also condemned any attack against Venezuelan democracy on behalf of his country.

Source: Granma, June 10, 2016


Suppression of Freedom of the Press and Expression in Argentina


This information is especially directed to all journalists and media. In Argentina there is currently a serious attack on freedom of the press, of expression and the right of journalists to inform people.

Firstly, please take the time to find out about the situation as it is very likely that most of you are not aware of the media being censured, teleSUR. It has a Spanish-language international television program that is being silenced in Argentina:

Click on IN VIVO on the top right to watch their TV program.

For the moment, its English-language media is restricted to an excellent web site, soon to be raised to the level of a television program as well:

What is happening in Argentina? Let us allow the journalists and teleSUR speak for themselves in their statement published on 28 March 2016:

They Cannot Make the Truth Disappear, They Cannot Make teleSUR Disappear

teleSUR responds to the Argentine government’s decision to withdraw its stake in the multi-state channel.

This Sunday the Argentine daily La Nacion released an article by Jose Crettaz, titled “The Argentine state is leaving teleSUR,” that leaked information about the withdrawal of said country from the multimedia station. This means that teleSUR will no longer be broadcast on the Open Digital Television state platform nor will it be mandatory to include the station in private cable packages.

The article publishes declarations from Communications Minister Hernan Lombardi and the Secretary of Public Communication Jorge Grecco, who have decided to abandon the multi-state channel, made up by Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Uruguay.

The article in La Nacion speaks, with bias, of President Mauricio Macri defending” the “pluralism” of the media, who decided to abandon teleSUR – without any formal communication with the outlet’s leadership nor through the corresponding diplomatic channels. The aforementioned Argentine state official has only proffered declarations to the media, without establishing any contact or giving any notice to the multi-state outlet.

But it is no coincidence that this conservative newspaper published on, Easter Sunday, the news that Argentina would abandon teleSUR. They are the same people who, only hours after Mauricio Macri’s victory as president, published a polemical editorial titled “No more revenge,” in which it asked for amnesty for dictatorship-era repressors, an article which earned the condemnation of Argentines on social media and even their very own journalists.

The article published in La Nacion, which cites statements from the minister of communication, Hernan Lombardi and the Secretary of Public Communication Jorge Grecco, is a declaration of censorship in the name of the pluralism they purport to champion. This is what La Nacion published to describe the decision of President Macri:

“The government of President Mauricio Macri has begun the process envisioned in the cooperative agreement with Venezuela to abandon their ownership stake in the chavista news channel.”

teleSUR is a revolutionary communication experience, a project of integration, envisioned by Hugo Chavez. It is an unprecedented source of information with more than 40 correspondents in the world, whose sole task is what has upset the big media networks of the oligarchy: telling the stories other media outlets do not.

It is a channel that was born to build the independence and sovereignty of the people, in the service of the ideal of Latin American and Caribbean integration. Chavista news channel? If showing reality via the outlet and not that of the news agency business is being Chavista, then yes, we are.

It must be highlighted that this channel has not received any oral or written communication about the process to abandon teleSUR. Our only meeting with the minister was televised and produced when the channel broadcast live an exclusive interview with Minister Hermann Lombardi and the Uruguayan host Víctor Hugo Morales during our special coverage of the electoral process in the southern nation.

There has not been any communication between Minister Lombardi and the president of our channel, and therefore no discussion of editorial or journalistic issues.

The article from La Nacion indicates that this decision was expected by the Bolivarian government, which President Mauricio Macri has be clashing with since he called for the freedom of prisoners in Venezuela.

The condemnation of Mauricio Macri is not for “political prisoners” it is for the jailed politician Leopoldo Lopez, who initiated and promoted the coup plan known as “La Salida” or The Exit (an allusion to the exit of Nicolas Maduro from the presidency of Venezuela).

Leopoldo Lopez was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison for four crimes relating to the anti-government protests of 2014, which led to the deaths of 43 Venezuelans: including public instigation to crime such as property damage and arson.

Macri “stands up” for the freedom of political leaders who have committed crimes but when it comes to his own country, he does not. For example, he asked Argentina’s district attorney’s office to formally open an investigation into Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, for supposedly “initiating collective violence” – what she actually called for was “resisting and confronting” policies created by the Macri government.

The same thing happened in the case of Parlasur lawmakers and social activist Milagro Sala, who Macri’s government accused of allegedly stealing money earmarked for the Tupac Amaru cooperatives, backing up claims of Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales. But in the end there have been no clear reasons for her detention, other than this: leading a camp that rejects the politics of the state executive.

According to the La Nacion, Macri defends the human rights of Leopoldo Lopez but the newspaper forgets to mention that his own country violates the right to protest freely and even allows the use of force to repress protesters:

“Our country does not in any way interfere with the content or the management of the channel. This statement is in line with what we have proposed for public media in terms of pluralism and austerity.” – Minister Lombardi

At teleSUR, we are committed to building our own agenda that keeps to its values and professional ethics. We say no to personal interests that look to shift the balance of truth. At teleSUR, analysis of facts go together with our code of values and the journalistic conduct of our more than 40 correspondents and collaborators across the world.

“With the slogan ‘our north is the south,’ the channel, launched by the late Hugo Chavez in 2005, was born with the objective of being an alternative voice to the ‘hegemonic’ and ‘neoliberal’ flow of information but was immediately transformed as the mouthpiece of the populist governments that financed it, among them Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.” – La Nacion

Nothing different could be expected from the owners of La Nacion, who conform to their class role, which places them on the side of big media and against the collective rights achieved in Latin America. This project belongs not only to Venezuela but also Bolivia, Uruguay, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

The journalistic content published on teleSUR has a leftist editorial line and reaches audiences in Latin America, North America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa, covering issues such as the refugee crisis in Europe, the disappeared in Mexico, the war in Colombia, the blockade against Cuba and the racist killings in the United States, amongst others.

La Nacion labels governments that have made historic social achievements as “populist.” Specifically in the case of the Kirchners, in 10 years poverty was reduced, and around 970 suspects of crimes against humanity, committed during the civic-military dictatorship, were charged.

The Kirchner decade also made other social gains, like increasing coverage for retirees from 66.1 to 94 percent.

The governments dubbed “populist” by La Nacion are connected by one thing: the people are placed above the interests of the powerful elite. With the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela became the country with the fifth-highest university enrollment in the world, according to UNESCO.

Are they defending pluralism or have they made a decision to censor us?

The slogan of this integrationist project truly is “our north is the south,” teleSUR is not a government mouthpiece, it is the voice of the people, it is live news online and on air, with documentary and news-worthy content, that, despite right-wing government threats and attempts to bombard it, has not stopped broadcasting.

Macri’s decision is no accident, it is yet another tool to censor information. This is evident in the comment published by La Nacion, “Once the notification has been made, a process to deregister the teleSUR branch in Argentina that was registered with the General Inspectorate of Justice and registered in the Register of Signals, will begin.”

In teleSUR, we ask ourselves – are they defending pluralism or have they made a decision to censor us? What was published expresses an open interest in making teleSUR disappear. As a company registered as a business in Argentina, any action against our correspondents would constitute an open illegality and we will denounce it as persecution.

teleSUR began transmission on July 1, 2005, at a time when some left-wing governments in Latin America were already beginning to work together, as was confirmed by the Summit of the Americas in November of that year, which lay to rest the idea of integration on the basis of a continental market.

“teleSUR is a multi-state news network that is broadcast from Caracas and is managed by the government of the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.” – La Nacion

La Nacion inundates its article with criticism of our channel and makes obvious its role as an accomplice of Mauricio Macri, shifting attention toward Venezuela and showing us how the channel is “managed” by the government of Nicolas Maduro, while in Argentina the new government dismantles the mechanisms that protect people’s freedom of expression, eliminates gas and electricity subsidies, devalues the currency, executes mass layoffs, names judges by decree, among other neoliberal measures.

“The channel was an expression of the alliance of Venezuela with the Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.” – La Nacion

Sadly, the author the La Nacion article does not understand the substantial difference between a state, that acts as a mediator between the FARC and the Colombian government to put an end to more than half a century of war, and a political ally.

Our journalists in Colombia cannot describe what it has meant to work as a journalist in the middle of an internal armed conflict with accusations like these, which at one time were made by ex-president Alvaro Uribe. Today the world recognizes that Colombia lives in conflict and that this must be resolved through dialogue. The position of teleSUR on conflicts will always be: on the side of the victims.

“This statement is in line with what we have proposed for public media in terms of pluralism and austerity,” argued the minister of communication and public content, Hernan Lombardi.

“This statement is in line with what we have proposed for public media in terms of pluralism and austerity,” argued the minister of communication and public content, Hernan Lombardi.

Indeed Macri’s party Cambiamos seeks to achieve pluralism by eliminating channels, like teleSUR, which is broadcast freely via satellite to America, Europe, Asia and parts of Africa.

“teleSUR must be doing something amazing because so many oligarchs want to silence it,” said Mexican philosopher Fernando Buen Abad.

teleSUR has shown the demonstrations of thousands of Argentines against Macri’s government, which in its first 100 days in power has broken the record of government layoffs, leaving thousands of Argentines jobless. In fact, next April gas services will suffer an increase and they are considering the possibility of increasing the cost of water and electricity services. Analysts calculate a rise of 120 percent that would increase costs to consumers.

Is Macri’s intention to silence critics of his government? Is it about pluralism or censorship?

The television program “Economic Policy,” hosted by Roberto Navarro and broadcast by the channel C5N in Argentina, was not transmitted on March 20 after they promoted a three-hour special analysis called “The business partner of the president,” which sought to expose the links between Mauricio Macri and the businessman and personal friend Nicolas Caputo.

On March 18, the channel C5N was attacked after the Integrated System of Argentine Social Security (AFIP) was informed by an article in the daily La Nacion of the channel’s supposed fraudulent insolvency.

On Dec. 25, 2015, President Macri ordered the channel Senado TV to be immediately suspended until further notice.

Similarly, on Nov. 24, 2015, the Argentine president announced that he would take off the air the program “6,7, 8”, a Kirchner communication program providing social and political critique, broadcast by Public TV.

On March 4, teleSUR was taken off the basic package offered by Cablevision in Argentina, without legal basis, depriving millions of Argentines from enjoying 24-hour nonstop news.

teleSUR is available from more than 90 cable providers and maintains agreements with more than five open television stations in different provinces of the country, reaching, until Feb. 9, more than 20 million potential viewers and 8 million subscribers.

teleSUR reiterates that its love for the Argentine people is unconditional as is our commitment to doing the best we can every day to share the stories of our region in the best way possible.

Our team in Argentina will continue working and we demand on their behalf that they be given the conditions for free journalistic expression.

teleSUR reiterates to the officials of Macri’s government our willingness to debate the reasons and arguments, as well as the truth, so that we can protect our relationship.

They are not going to make the truth disappear, they are not going to make teleSUR disappear.

Caracas, March 28, 2016.

Once you have had time to take this information into account, I am appealing to you to take a stand. For any further information and/or any initial comment you may have, please leave your comment on my blog.

Best regards, Arnold August


March 29, 2016.

Article by Fidel: “Brother Obama”


Photo: Roberto Chile

by Fidel Castro

March 28, 2016

The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.

Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.

Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add – principally for the youth – that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.

Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.

Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary…” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.

Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.

Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:

“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”

The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barrack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution – that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.

In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries

As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.

The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.

Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and – surprise! – the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.

Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.

I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.

There is an important issue:

Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”

I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?

Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.

I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

Fidel Castro Ruz

March 27, 2016

10:25 p.m.

Michael Walsh conteste la désinformation de Radio-Canada sur Cuba

cuba-eeuu-580x320Photo: CubaDebate

Texte envoyé à l’émission ”MEDIUM LARGE” de la radio de Radio-Canada suite à l’émission portant sur Cuba, diffusée le matin du 9 mars dernier

Par Michael Walsh, Québec, Québec, 9 mars, 2016.

Votre présent reportage sur Cuba ne reflète pas, selon moi, la réalité du pays. Toujours les mêmes clichés, réchauffés et répétés sans cesse depuis des décennies à Radio-Canada. Dictature, totalitarisme, liberté d’expression brimée, communications contrôlées, etc. Votre invitée, Valérie Harvey nous a servie la sauce des soi-disant prisonniers politiques, pourtant tous libérés depuis quelques années. Elle nous a cité Reporters sans Frontières, avec les données de Robert Ménard qui était son directeur général, maintes fois associés à la CIA, et aujourd’hui maire d’extrême droite en France. Il est faux de prétendre que les cubains n’ont pas accès à internet, sans mentionner que leur plus grand obstacle à pouvoir se connecter est dû à l’interdiction pour Cuba de pouvoir bénéficier du passage des câbles optiques passant sous la mer, contrôlés par les É-U, blocus oblige. Que dire de cette affirmation d’André Champagne à l’effet que Castro et Che Guevara auraient demandé à Kroutchev de tirer des missiles sur les É-U ? Foutaises ! Concernant les minorités sexuels, pourquoi donc votre sociologue invitée n’a-t-elle pas mentionné que la défunte épouse et la fille du président Raul Castro ont consacré leur vie à la défense de ces dernières, plutôt que de blâmer cette ”dictature” pour tous les maux ? Cuba n’est pas le paradis, mais très loin d’être un enfer; la majorité des citoyens sont d’accord avec le système qu’ils se sont donnés. Ils n’ont pas besoin de le changer pour un autre, surtout pas par celui que l’on tente de leur imposer par la force depuis plus de cinquante ans. Si les É-U ont fini par les reconnaitre et de vouloir reprendre les relations normales, il faut le voir comme une victoire pour Cuba, après avoir résisté tout ce temps à ce blocus criminel, injuste et inhumain.

Editorial de GRANMA :

Obama In Cuba: President Barack Obama’s Visit to Cuba


Photo: CubaDebate

Editorial of Granma: Official Voice of the Communist  Party of Cuba Central Committee.

March 9, 2016

Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, will make an official visit to Cuban this coming March 20-22.

This will be the second time a U.S. President comes to our archipelago. Previously having done so was Calvin Coolidge, who landed in Havana in January of 1928. He arrived aboard a warship to attend the 6th Pan American Conference, which was held at that time under the sponsorship of a local figure recalled as infamous, Gerardo Machado.

This will be the first time a President of the United States comes to a Cuba in full possession of her sovereignty and with a Revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.

This event is part of the process initiated December 17, 2014, when the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the complex process of normalization of bilateral ties, which has barely begun, and has advanced on the only grounds that are possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity, and the recognition of our government’s legitimacy.

This point has been reached, in the very first place, as a result of the Cuban people’s heroic resistance and loyalty to principles, the defense of national independence and sovereignty. Such values, which have not been negotiable for 50 years, led the United States government to admit the severe damage the blockade has caused our population, and recognize the failure of the openly hostile policy toward the Revolution. Not with force, economic coercion, or isolation were they able to impose conditions on Cuba which were contrary to our aspirations, forged over almost 150 years of heroic struggle.

The current process undertaken with the United States has been possible also thanks to unwavering international solidarity, in particular from the governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, who put the United States in an unsustainable position of isolation. Strongly united, “like silver in the bedrock of the Andes,” as our national hero José Martí said in his essay “Our America,” Latin America and the Caribbean demanded a change in policy toward Cuba. This regional demand was made unequivocally clear at the Summits of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, and in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, when all countries of the region unanimously and categorically demanded the lifting of the blockade, and our country’s participation in the 7th hemispheric meeting in Panama, in 2015, to which a Cuban delegation, led by Raúl, attended, for the first time.

Since the announcements of December, 2014, Cuba and the United States have taken steps toward improving the bilateral context.

On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations were officially reestablished, along with the commitment to develop them on the basis of respect, cooperation, and observance of the principles of international law.

Two meetings between the Presidents of the countries have taken place, in addition to the exchange of visits by ministers and other contacts between high ranking officials. Cooperation in various areas of mutual benefit are advancing, and new opportunities for discussion have opened up, allowing for dialogue on issues of bilateral and multi-lateral interest, including those about which we have different conceptions.

The U.S. President will be welcomed by the government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality which distinguishes us, and will be treated with all consideration and respect, as befits a head of state.

This will be an opportunity for the President to directly observe a nation immersed in its economic and social development, and in improving its citizens’ wellbeing. This people enjoys rights, and can exhibit achievements which are only dreams for many of the world’s countries, despite the limitations derived from our condition as an underdeveloped, blockaded country – which has earned us international recognition and respect.

Figures of international renown such as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill described this island, in their joint statement released in Havana in February, as “a symbol of hope of the New World.” French President François Hollande recently affirmed, “Cuba is respected and heard throughout Latin America,” and praised the country’s capacity for resistance in the face of the most difficult tests. South African leader Nelson Mandela always had words of profound gratitude for Cuba. In Matanzas, on July 26, 1991, he said, “Those of us in Africa are accustomed to being victims of other countries who want to seize our territory or subvert our sovereignty. In the history of Africa, there is no other example of a people (like the Cuban) who have come to the defense of one of us.”

Obama will find himself in a country which actively contributes to regional and world peace and stability, and which shares with other peoples not what we have left over, but the modest resources we possess, making solidarity an essential element of our identity, and humanity’s wellbeing – one of the fundamental objectives of our international policy, as Martí imparted to us.

He will also have the opportunity to meet a noble, friendly, dignified people with an elevated sense of patriotism and national unity, who have always struggled for a better future, despite the adversities we have been obliged to face.

The President of the United States will be received by a revolutionary people with a deeply-rooted political culture, which is the result of a long tradition of struggle for its true, definitive independence, first against Spanish colonialism and later against imperialist domination by the United States – a struggle in which our best sons and daughters have shed their blood and faced all manner of risks. A people who will never renounce the defense of their principles and the vast work of the Revolution, following without vacillation the examples of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena, Antonio Guiteras and Ernesto Che Guevara, among many others.

This is also a people united by historical, cultural and affective ties with that of the United States, whose emblematic figure, the writer Ernest Hemingway, received the Nobel Prize for literature for a novel set in Cuba. A people which shows its gratitude to those from the United States who, like Thomas Jordan [1], Henry Reeve, Winchester Osgood [2] and Frederick Funston [3], fought with the Liberation Army in our wars of independence against Spain; and those who in the more recent era have opposed aggression against Cuba, like Reverend Lucius Walker who defied the blockade to bring solidarity and help to our people, and supported the return to the homeland of the boy Elián González and the Cuban Five. We learned from Martí to admire the homeland of Lincoln and repudiate Cutting [4].

Worth recalling are the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on September 11, 2001, when he affirmed, “Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hate for the U.S. people has never been sowed here. Perhaps, precisely because of its culture, and lack of complexes, feeling fully free, with a homeland and no master, Cuba is the country where U.S. citizens are treated with more respect. We have never preached any kind of national hate, or things that seem fanatical, that is why we are so strong, because we base our conduct on principles, on ideas, and treat every U.S. citizens who visits us with great respect – and they perceive this.”

This is the people who will receive President Obama, proud of their history, their roots, their national culture, and confident that a better future is possible. A nation that assumes with serenity and determination the current stage of relations with the United States, that recognizes the opportunities, as well as the unresolved problems between the two countries.

The President of the United States’ visit will be an important step in the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It must be remembered that Obama, as James Carter did previously, has decided to work toward normalization of ties with Cuba making use of his executive powers, and has consequently taken concrete action in this direction.

Nevertheless, a long, difficult road lies ahead to reach normalization, which will require the solution of key issues which have accumulated over more than five decades, and entrenched the confrontational character of relations between the two countries. Such problems are not resolved overnight, or with a Presidential visit.

To normalize relations with the United States, it is imperative that the economic, commercial, financial blockade – which causes the Cuba people hardship, and is the principal obstacle to our country’s development – be lifted.

Worthy of recognition are President Obama’s reiterated position that the blockade must be eliminated and his call on Congress to lift it. This is also a demand supported by a growing majority of the U.S. public, and almost unanimously by the international community, which on 24 occasions, in the United Nations General Assembly, has approved the Cuban resolution “The necessity of putting an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba.”

The U.S. President has taken steps to modify the implementation of some aspects of the blockade, which is positive. High ranking officials of his administration have said that others are being studied. Nevertheless, it has not been possible to implement a good portion of these measures given their limited reach, and because of the continuing existence of other regulations, and the intimidating effect of the blockade as a whole, which has been strictly enforced for 50 years.

It is contradictory that, on the one hand, the government adopts these measures, and on the other, intensifies sanctions against Cuba which affect the daily life of our people.

Reality continues to show that the blockade is being maintained, and is rigorously enforced, with a notable extra-territorial reach, which has a chilling effect on companies and banks in the United States and other countries.

Exemplifying this are the multi-million dollar fines which continue to be levied on U.S. companies and banking institutions, and those of other nationalities, for having relations with Cuba; the denial of services and the blocking of financial operations of international banks with our country; and the freezing of legitimate transfers of funds to and from Cuba, including those in currencies other than the U.S dollar.

The Cuban people hope that the U.S. President’s visit will serve to consolidate his will to be actively involved in a thorough debate in Congress for the lifting of the blockade, and, in the meantime, that he continues to use his executive prerogatives to modify as much as possible its application, without the need for legislative action.

Other issues which are damaging Cuban sovereignty must also be resolved in order to achieve normal relations between the two countries. Territory occupied by the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo, against the will of our government and people, must be returned to Cuba, to respect the unanimous wish of Cubans, expressed for more than 100 years. Interventionist programs, intended to provoke destabilizing situations and changes in our country’s political, economic, social order, must be eliminated. The “regime change” policy must be definitively interred.

At the same time, the pretension of fabricating a domestic political opposition, supported by money from U.S. contributors, must be abandoned. An end must be put to aggressive radio and television broadcasts directed toward Cuba in open violation of international law, and the illegitimate use of telecommunications for political purposes, recognizing that the goal is not to exercise a given influence on Cuban society, but to put technology at the service of development and knowledge.

The preferential migratory treatment our citizens receive, in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot-dry foot” policy, causes the loss of human life, and encourages illegal emigration and trafficking in persons, in addition to generating problems for third countries. This situation must be changed, as must be canceled the “parole” program for Cuban medical professionals which deprives the country of human resources vital to the health of our people, and affects the intended beneficiaries of Cuban cooperation with nations which need our support. Likewise, policies which require Cuban athletes to break ties with their country, in order to play in U.S. leagues, must change.

These policies of the past are incongruent with the new stage which the United States government has initiated with our country. They were all established prior to the administration of President Obama, but he can modify some of them with executive decisions, and eliminate others entirely.

Cuba has assumed the construction of a new relationship with the United States, fully exercising its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity. No one can presume that to do so we must renounce a single one of our principles, concede an inch in their defense, or abandon what is declared in our Constitution: “Economic, diplomatic relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threats, or coercion by a foreign power.”

Not even the slightest doubt can be harbored with respect to Cuba’s unconditional commitment to its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, and its foreign policy in favor of the world’s just causes, the defense of peoples’ self-determination, and traditional support to our sister countries.

As was expressed in the latest Revolutionary Government Declaration, our solidarity is, and will be, immutable, with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government led by President Nicolás Maduro, and the Bolivarian, Chavista people, which are struggling to find their own path, and confront systematic destabilization attempts and unilateral sanctions established by an unfounded, unjust U.S. Executive Order, in March of 2015, which was condemned throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The announcement made this past March 3, extending the so-called “National Emergency” and the sanctions, is an unacceptable, direct intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and its sovereignty. The Order must be abolished, and this will be a firm, ongoing demand by Cuba.

As Army General Raúl Castro said, “We will not renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, or surrender even a single one of our principles, or concede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We will not allow ourselves to be pressured in regards to our internal affairs. We have won this sovereign right with great sacrifices and at the cost of great risks.”

We reiterate one more time, we have reached this point as a result of our convictions, and because we have reason and justice on our side.

Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the region’s heads of state and government, which include absolute respect for independence, sovereignty, and the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system without interference of any kind; in addition to equality, and reciprocity.

Cuba reiterates its full disposition to maintain respectful dialogue with the government of the United States, and develop relations of civilized coexistence.

Coexisting does not mean being obliged to renounce the ideas in which we believe and have brought us thus far, or our socialism, our history, our culture.

The profound conceptual differences between Cuba and the United States on political models, social justice, international relations, world peace and stability, among others, will persist.

Cuba defends the indivisibility, interdependence and universality of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. We are convinced that it is an obligation of governments to defend and guarantee the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the rights of children, as well as the right to food and development. We reject the political manipulation and double standards relating to human rights, which must end. Cuba, which has signed 44 international instruments on this subject, while the United States has only committed to 18, has much to share, to defend, and show.

What our ties with the United States should accomplish is that the two countries respect their differences, and create a relationship which is beneficial for both peoples.

Regardless of the progress which can be achieved in ties with the United States, the Cuban people will continue to move forward. With our own efforts and proven capacity and creativity, we will continue to work for the country’s development and the wellbeing of Cubans. We will not desist in the demand that the blockade, which has caused and causes so much harm, be lifted. We will persevere in the process of updating the socio-economic model we have chosen, and the construction of a prosperous, sustainable socialism to consolidate the gains to the Revolution.

A path sovereignly chosen, which will surely be reaffirmed by the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, with Fidel and Raúl victorious.

This is the Cuba which will respectfully welcome President Obama.

[1] Major General, head of the Liberation Army’s General Staff (1869).

[2] Comandante. Killed in combat during the siege of Guáimaro, October 28, 1896.

[3] Artillery Colonel, under the command of Calixto García.

[4] A figure who in 1886 promoted hate and aggression against Mexico.



Letter to Editor, Globe & Mail Toronto
Obama’s Visit to Cuba

USCubaFlags - CopyObama’s visit to Cuba and Cuba-US relations.

Letter to the Editor, Globe and Mail, Toronto


Arnold August, a Montreal-based Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the US, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

I am writing to you regarding the February 25, 2016 Globe and Mail article by Konrad Yakabuski on Obama’s visit to Cuba and Cuba-US relations.

There are several faulty statements that have to be questioned. I hope that the Globe and Mail has the courage to publish my letter.

Firstly, it seems that the main source of the information provided by the journalist comes from, as he writes, the Madrid-based Cuban Observatory on Human Rights. No other source is mentioned in the article. Thus, I am sure you will agree that it is necessary to inform your readers about this organization. The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a CIA-run funding operation to promote regime change in other countries. According to its web site it delivered 100,000$ to Cuban Observatory on Human Rights.

This is an important point seeing that the journalist concludes by re-asserting that “Their [Castro brothers] brutality is well documented.” The entire article is tainted with unfounded pro-US prejudices.

Secondly, Mr. Yakabuski writes that “The Castros have not held on to power for 57 years by taking friendly advice from neighbours on how to transition to democracy.” This also is a questionable statement. The US has far from been a friendly neighbour. In 1898 it high jacked the successful liberation of Cuba from the Spanish colonialists and converted Cuba into a neo-colony of the US. It ruled over Cuba in various ways until 1959 when the “Castros” led the Cuban people to overthrow the US backed Batista dictatorship. Even John F. Kennedy admitted that “Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in 7 years…” This is hardly an activity carried out by a friendly neighbour.

Thirdly, while the Globe and Mail writer is very harsh, to say the least, about Cuba’s human rights record, he grudgingly writes, by imputing this opinion to supporters of Obama’s visit, that the “United States continues to indefinitely detain and deprive of due process dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay…” In fact, it is far more than that. It is well known to the Canadian and International public opinion that this prison facility is the scene of brutal torture. This is an important reason that I and literally millions of people around the world demand that it be closed.

The debate about Obama’s visit to Cuba is bound to continue. I will be going to Cuba during the visit on March 20-23, 2016 to get a pulse of the situation and feed-back from Cuban colleagues. I will be happy to write an exclusive article for the Globe and Mail on that experience. It may balance the reporting such as that Mr. Yakabuski. In fact, all my work on Cuba has been and is based on this on-the-spot type of investigation. Thus, the Globe and Mail will not need to look to sources very far away such as Madrid, but rather to a Canadian.

Best regards,

Arnold August


February 26, 2016.



Fidel Castro, Feb.14:
To struggle for peace is the most sacred duty of all human beings

Fidel Castro and His Holiness Kirill.

Fidel Castro and His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Photo: CubaDebate

Article by Fidel Castro:

Sadly, almost all religions have been obliged to decry the destructive reality of war and its terrible consequences. They have been obliged to devote their greatest energies to this task. The singular importance of the meeting between Pope Francis and His Holiness Kirill in Havana is that it raised the hopes of the world’s peoples.

Peace has been the golden dream of humanity, and the peoples’ aspiration, at every moment in history. Thousands of nuclear weapons are hanging over humanity’s head. Preventing the most brutal war that could be unleashed has undoubtedly been the fundamental objective of efforts by religious leaders of churches directed by men such as Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church, and His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

To struggle for peace is the most sacred duty of all human beings, whatever their religion, country of origin, skin color, advanced or youthful age may be.

Fidel Castro Ruz

February 14, 2016

10:18 pm

SOURCE: Granma

Fidel Castro’s Message to Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro

Dear Nicolás:

I share the unanimous opinion of those who have congratulated you for your brilliant, valiant speech on the night of December 6, as soon as the election’s outcome was announced

In world history, the highest level of political glory which a revolutionary can reach, is that of the illustrious Venezuelan combatant, Liberator of America, Simón Bolívar, whose name now belongs not only to this sister country, but to all peoples of Latin America.

Another Venezuelan official of honorable legacy, Hugo Chávez, understood and admired him and struggled for his ideas until the last moment of his life. As a boy, attending elementary school in the country where the poor children of Bolívar were obliged to work to help support their families, he developed the spirit in which the Liberator of America was forged.

The millions of children and youth who today attend the largest and most modern system of public schools in the world are Venezuelan. More can be said about the country’s network of medical care centers and the attention paid to the health of its people, brave but poor as a result of centuries of plunder by Spanish colonialism, and later by huge transnationals, which for more than 100 years extracted from its entrails the best of the immense oil reserves nature bestowed on this country.

History also bears witness that workers exist, and make possible the enjoyment of nutritious food, medicine, education, security, housing and the world’s solidarity. You could ask the oligarchy, if you like: Do you know all of this?

Cuban revolutionaries – just a few miles from the United States, which always dreamed of taking possession of Cuba to make it a hybrid casino-brothel, as a way of life for the children of José Martí – will never renounce their full independence or respect for their dignity.

I am sure that human life on Earth can only be preserved with peace among all peoples of the Earth, and acknowledgement of the right to make the planet’s natural resources common property, as well as the sciences and technologies created by human beings to benefit all of its inhabitants. If humanity continues along the path of exploitation and the plunder of its resources by transnational’s and imperialist banks, the representatives of states meeting in Paris, will draw the relevant conclusions.

Security does not exist today for anyone. There are nine states which possess nuclear weapons. One of them, the United States, dropped two bombs which killed hundreds of thousands of people in just three days, and caused physical and psychological harm to millions of defenceless people.

The People’s Republic of China and Russia know the world’s problems much better than the United States, because they were obliged to endure the terrible wars imposed on them by fascism’s blind egoism. I do not doubt that, given their historical traditions and their own revolutionary experience, they will make the greatest effort to avoid a war and contribute to the peaceful development of Venezuela, Latin America, Asia and Africa.


Fidel Castro Ruz

December 10, 2015

6:42 pm


Venezuela: Obama’s Real Concerns

Source: The Bolivarian, Year 3, No. 5, Quarterly Magazine, 2015, Canada. Published by the   Embajada de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela en Canadá.


by Arnold August

Under sharp questioning by reporters at a daily press briefing on March 10, 2015 – one day after Barack Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela – U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki declared, “The goal of these sanctions is to persuade the Government of Venezuela to change their behavior.”1 Is the only concern the Government of Venezuela’s behavior? Since December 1998, when Commander Hugo Chávez won the presidential elections, and now under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro, the main characteristic of this behavior has been to develop new experiments in participatory democracy. This means the political power of the people exercised in daily concrete actions and political thinking. The fresh projects of participatory democracy displace representative democracy, whose main feature is to restrain people at the base so that they rely on elected representatives. Participatory democracy has been progressively resulting in the fusion of elected representatives at all levels, including government leaders, into the daily political, social and economic life of the people. It is now increasingly difficult to distinguish leadership from the grass roots. Thus, the primary concern of the Obama administration is that the Bolivarian Revolution is a real revolution in which the main protagonists are the people themselves. Concentrating on the behavior of the Government of Venezuela is, in fact, just a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the revolution being developed is not from the top down. This revolution has succeeded where others have failed, that is, it promotes a dialectical relationship between the top down and the bottom up. The Bolivarian Revolution represents a revolution in political culture: its main feature is that people are their own liberators, and this can only be realized if exercised on a daily basis; there is no easy way out. The Venezuelan people are increasingly aware of this. This is Obama’s real concern with regard to the conduct of the government: the U.S. is not facing merely a government, but a revolution that becomes stronger and more mature as it defends itself. This is not to say that setbacks cannot and will not take place. This is bound to happen as Venezuela is evolving in a very complicated situation whereby the U.S. government and the international media are targeting Venezuela. However, the Bolivarian Revolution has become a material force that can be detected, as I have noticed during my visits to Caracas. I am convinced that it cannot be destroyed.

Its vibrancy, as exhibited now in the heat of the battle, serves as an example to other countries, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. In this region, the most dynamic in the world today, alternative media such as Telesur and the use of social media allow the people in the area to follow events and reach their own conclusions for their respective countries. Therefore, one cannot underestimate the potential positive impact of the Venezuelan experiment on other countries. This is the first of Obama’s real concerns regarding Venezuelan behavior, thus the attempt to drive a wedge between the government and the people.

What is the second concern? In 2011, Obama stated that “even if we tap every single reserve available to us, we can’t escape the fact that we only control 2 percent of the world’s oil, but we consume over a quarter of the world’s oil.”2 Today, Venezuela has the biggest certified oil reserves in the world. The problem is that the U.S. cannot at this time extend its control of its own relatively limited domestic reserves to those of Venezuela. This second real concern is intimately related to the first one, the new political culture of people’s power. Right from the initial mandate of Hugo Chávez, for the first time in the history of that country, the benefits of petroleum have been used for vastly improving all facets of Venezuelan life: economic, social, health, education, culture and sports. The concern of Obama is that the people at the base are generally aware of this, because they are involved in working out and applying the deviation of this source of income to their own benefit. The grass roots are very conscious of the source of the improvements to their daily life and see themselves as partners along with the leadership in executing the new programs. Thus both of Obama’s concerns are intimately linked.

1 Jen Psaki, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, March 10, 2015,

2 Barack Obama, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 11, 2011, News Conference by the President,

On the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of FTAA’s Defeat on November 5, 2005


ALBA versus FTAA*

By Arnold August, October 22, 2015

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was a proposed US-backed agreement to eliminate or reduce the trade barriers among all countries in the Americas. It was an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the US. It was supposed to extend to all countries in the Americas – except for Cuba – from Canada to Chile and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego. However, critics saw this as a move that, as was the case with NAFTA, would only serve to benefit the rich and powerful.

I regard Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution as the architects of the new Latin America and Caribbean. This new development is the antithesis of the US-controlled FTAA.

To appreciate the momentous changes occurring in Latin America and the Caribbean, some background information is in order.

On December 14, 1994, Hugo Chávez arrived for the first time in Havana, having recently been granted clemency from prison in Venezuela, thus freeing him for the rest of his sentence for leading a failed civic/military coup. The Cuban stop was the last in a tour of Latin America. Chávez was looking to drum up international support for the burgeoning Bolivarian movement he was now leading. As he disembarked from his commercial airline flight, he was amazed to find Cuban President Fidel Castro waiting for him outside the aircraft. This would be the first of many encounters between the two revolutionaries. According to Cuban historian Eusebio Leal, Castro saw Chávez’s potential to become a political, international and revolutionary leader at the highest levels.

Four years after the meeting with Castro, Chávez was elected for the first time as President of Venezuela, in December 1998, and sworn in on February 2, 1999.

The FTAA began with the Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida, on December 11, 1994. However, the FTAA only came to public attention during the Quebec City Summit of the Americas, during the weekend starting Friday, April 20, 2001, a few years after the Bolivarian Revolution had won political power. In Quebec City, the FTAA meeting was targeted by massive anti-corporate and anti-globalization protests. A vocal critic of the FTAA was Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has described it as an “annexation plan” and a “tool of imperialism” for the exploitation of Latin America. Among the 31 participating nations present, Venezuela, represented by Chávez, was the only one that opposed it.

On December 14, 2004, three years after the Quebec City meeting, the Cuba–Venezuela Agreement was established to mark the 10th anniversary of the historic first encounter between the Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. The signed agreement was named the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

It was later known as ALBA-TCP, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), based on the Spanish Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América, Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos. The term “Bolivarian” refers to the ideology of Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century South American independence leader born in Caracas who wanted South America to unite as a single “Great Nation.” “Our America” stems from José Martí’s concept of referring to a Latin America and Caribbean owned and governed by its people rather than outside interests.

This Cuba–Venezuela Agreement, signed by Presidents Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, was aimed mainly at the exchange of petroleum and medical and educational resources between the two nations. Venezuela began to deliver about 96,000 barrels of oil per day from its state-owned oil company, PDVSA, to Cuba at very favourable prices. In exchange, Cuba sent 20,000 state-employed medical staff and thousands of teachers to Venezuela’s poorest states as well as to Caracas. The agreement also made it possible for Venezuelans to travel to Cuba for specialized medical care, free of charge.

This is what Chávez foresaw when he took a stand in Quebec City against FTAA – to build the opposite, that is, ALBA-TCP, an alliance not based on selfish interests, but on mutual cooperation and solidarity that did not include the US and Canada. Founded initially by Cuba and Venezuela on December 14, 2004, it associated with other governments that wished to consolidate regional economic integration based on a shared vision of social welfare, mutual economic aid and development, and to strengthen cooperation through mutual respect and solidarity.

ALBA grew from two to 11 members. The 11 member-countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.

It should be noted that on December 15, 2009, the de facto president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, issued an executive decree through which he decided that Honduras should leave ALBA. Honduras was a member of ALBA under the leadership of President Mel Zelaya. This was one of the reasons that the US organized a coup against Zelaya and his constitutionally elected government in 2009.

ALBA-TCP is an integration platform for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It emphasizes solidarity, complementary relationships, justice and cooperation, which have the historical and fundamental purpose of linking the capacities and strengths of the collaborating countries. The goal is to produce the structural transformations and relations necessary for achieving the integral development that is required for the continued existence of Latin America and the Caribbean as sovereign nations that are based on social justice. Additionally, ALBA-TCP is a political, economic and social alliance that defends the independence, self-determination and identity of the peoples comprising it.

For the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, integration is an indispensable condition to development amid the increasingly large formations of regional blocs that occupy predominant positions in the world economy. The cardinal principle that governs ALBA-TCP is the widest solidarity between the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, as upheld by Bolívar, Martí, Sucre, O’Higgins and so many other national heroes. This solidarity excludes selfish nationalism or restrictive national policies that reject the objective of constructing a large homeland in Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing to reality the dreams of the heroes of the emancipating struggles.

ALBA does not harbour commercial criteria or selfish interests related to business profits or national benefit to the detriment of other peoples. It seeks to rely on a wide Latin American vision that recognizes the fact that it is impossible for the countries to develop and be really independent in isolation. And one that aspires to seeing, as Bolívar stated, “the biggest nation of the world emerge in America, not less for its extension and wealth, but for its freedom and glory,” and what Martí would conceive as “Our America,” to separate it from the other America, which is expansionist and thus driven by imperial appetites. ALBA-TCP also has had as a goal to develop and widen regional integration even further, while the US-backed FTAA has been fizzling out.

What happened to the FTAA?

The last Summit was held at Mar del Plata, Argentina, in November 2005, but no agreement on FTAA was reached. Of the 34 countries present at the negotiations, 26 pledged to meet again in 2006 to resume negotiations, but no such meeting took place. The failure of the Mar del Plata Summit to establish a comprehensive FTAA agenda signalled the end of the US-backed FTAA. At the same time a very wide people’s mobilization from all over the continent rejected the FTAA in the very headquarters where this Summit took place, in the soccer stadium of Mar del Plata. The Summit thus occurred in the face of thousands of people who had demonstrated throughout the city. Chávez delivered a historic speech where he declared: “To hell with the FTAA!”

Let us briefly look at some of ALBA’s accomplishments regarding wider integration and programs. I provide only three examples even though there are many more.

  1. Petrocaribe

Petrocaribe was established in 2005 and based on earlier agreements between ALBA founders Cuba and Venezuela. It looks to sell oil under a concessionary financial agreement to 14 member nations located in the Caribbean. This initiative provides the Caribbean nations with important hydrocarbon resources, which many do not possess in their territories.

  1. teleSUR

Launched in 2005, teleSUR is a media conglomerate that provides news and current affairs broadcasts throughout the ALBA bloc. The program is founded on an Internet-based television channel and is a cooperative effort between the governments of Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Note that Argentina and Uruguay are not ALBA members. While not yet a TV broadcast, teleSUR in English has recently been created as a website. I consider teleSUR to be the most important alternative to the media war carried out by the US conglomerates. I encourage you to follow and support this media initiative at and

  1. CELAC

ALBA countries were instrumental in the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, based on the Spanish Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños). CELAC is a regional bloc of Latin American and Caribbean states conceived on February 23, 2010, at the Rio GroupCaribbean Community Unity Summit, and created on December 3, 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, with the signature of the Declaration of Caracas. It consists of 33 sovereign countries representing roughly 600 million people. Due to the focus of the organization on Latin American and Caribbean countries, other countries and territories in the Americas, namely Canada and the US, were not included. CELAC is an example of a decade-long push for deeper integration within Latin America and the Caribbean. CELAC is being created to deepen Latin American and Caribbean integration and to reduce the previously domineering influence of the US on the internal affairs and economics of Latin America. It is also seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional body organized largely by Washington in 1948. CELAC is developing its ties with other countries such as China and Russia, thus contributing significantly to the transformation of a unipolar world led by the US toward a multipolar world. The Bolivarian Revolution and Hugo Chávez have their imprint on this major international development.

In addition to the three points just mentioned, what have been the practical implications of ALBA?

The derailment of FTAA is representative of two broader trends, which ALBA has strengthened: helping to secure a post-neoliberal Latin America and lessening the grip of US imperialism in favour of independence and self-determination.

The economic model that ALBA is institutionalizing differs from orthodox neoliberalism in significant ways. For example, the state is being brought “back in” as an economic actor in order to restrict untrammelled market forces.

Whereas the neoliberal economic framework was often treated as “one-size-fits-all,” ALBA acknowledges the diversity of its members and emphasizes that a differentiated approach must be taken. Neither the universal removal of protective barriers, tariffs and subsidies, nor the compulsory adherence to ALBA programs, is a condition for ALBA membership.

ALBA has provided support for peoples and governments who have demanded the removal of US military bases and the cessation of US military-policing operations. Such is the case with the removal of US troops from the Manta military base in Ecuador and the expulsion of US-backed anti-drug enforcement personnel in Bolivia.

ALBA has fostered an expansion in trade between its members, which allows for greater self-sufficiency and lessens the long-standing dependency of these countries on the US market. This intra-ALBA trade has also been complemented by a diversification of the external trading partners of the ALBA countries.

Through the creation of the Bank of ALBA and a new regional currency – the SUCRE – ALBA is providing an alternative to the traditional reliance that Latin America has had upon the pro-status quo international financial institutions that many deem to be under the effective control of the US and Europe.

In terms of education, Mission Robinson, a literacy program based primarily on the positive experiences of Cuba, has been extremely successful. It is estimated to have reached over 3.8 million people, and has played a large role in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua achieving literacy rates that classify them, according to UNESCO standards, as illiteracy-free countries.

In my view, one of the key features of ALBA is solidarity and opposition to US interference.

Let us take the example of Venezuela. The ALBA-TCP issued a Special Communiqué after meeting in Caracas on September 14, 2015 entitled “In Defense of Venezuela’s Sovereignty and Independence.” I quote it here in full:

“The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) express their firmest defense of the principles of independence, self-determination of peoples, sovereignty and sovereign equality of States that enable harmonious relations among the countries in the international community.

The ALBA-TCP countries cannot accept interference in the internal affairs of a state by another state. Thus, they express their concern regarding opinions on the judicial decisions taken in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, by the appropriate authority and within the framework of its sovereign jurisdiction, to punish terrorist acts and effectively protect the human rights of victims.

Some countries have spoken out about this fact revealing the double standard that violates the international legal order and favors political conditions to overthrow constitutional governments in an attempt to plunder strategic natural resources. These high-sounding statements attempt to hide serious violations of human rights in their own territories and prevent the deepening of the democratic processes that the ALBA countries have been developing in exercise of their right to self-determination.

The ALBA-TCP countries warn against the smear campaign, slanders and aggressions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and commit to remain alert vis-à-vis the threats to its peace, independence and sovereignty.

Caracas, September 14, 2015.”

This shows the importance of supporting Venezuela today. The goal of US imperialism is to smash the Bolivarian Revolution now led by the constitutionally elected President Nicolás Maduro in order to bring down other progressive governments, especially those that are members of ALBA. While focusing primarily on Venezuela and President Maduro, the US has also been very active recently in attempting to destabilize the constitutionally elected governments in Ecuador and Bolivia, led respectively by Rafael Correa and Evo Morales.

To stand in support of Venezuela and the ALBA countries today is to be on the side of sovereignty, self-determination and social justice, not only of the ALBA members, but also of all of Latin America and the Caribbean as the most promising region in the world for the future of mankind.

Thank you very much.

* Remarks by Arnold August at the First Gathering of Solidarity of Our America, Organized by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Canada, Ottawa, September 26, 2015

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the US, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

Source: La Pupila Insomne