Making Cuba’s Political System Ever More Authentically Democratic

By Arnold August, September 30, 2015

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada served as Cuba’s permanent representative to the United Nations for nearly 30 years and later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 1993. Subsequently, he was President of the National Assembly of People’s Power from 1993 to 2013. He was also a Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2013.

This is what he wrote in his Foreword to the Cuban-Spanish version of my book CUBA AND ITS NEIGHBOURS: DEMOCRACY IN MOTION:

“This book makes a contribution to a necessary discussion about our political system, and as such it is a useful tool that will help to refine this system, making it ever more authentically democratic.”

My analysis of Cuba’s political process, electoral system and own approach to democracy is far from being idealistic and apologetic. On the contrary, it deals with most of the important existing problems as seen by many Cuban academics and researchers. Ricardo Alarcón, who himself has always taken an objective view towards Cuba’s political system, captured one of the most important points of my book in the above-cited quote. For the full text of his Foreword in English, click here:

Please take the time to view this two-part English-language informative and wide-ranging YouTube interview with Alarcón carried out by one of Cuba’s new, young TV journalists, Cristina Escobar. Both parts were filmed in September 2015:


Ricardo Alarcón

Raúl Castro Remarks at United Nations

Remarks by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, in his address to the General Debate of the 70th Session of the UNGA, New York, September 28, 2015.

Raúl Castro

Raúl Castro

Esteemed heads of State and Government,

Distinguished heads of delegations,

Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations,

Mr. President,

It was seventy years ago that, on behalf of their peoples, the member States of this organization signed the United Nations Charter. We pledged ourselves to preserve future generations from the scourge of war, and to build a new type of relationship guided by a set of principles and purposes that should bring about an era of peace, justice and development for all of humanity.

However, as from that moment, there have constantly been wars of aggression, and interference in the internal affairs of the States; the ousting of sovereign governments by force, the so-called “soft coups” and the re-colonization of territories; and, all of these upgraded with new ingenious actions employing new technologies, and under the pretext of alleged human rights violations.

The militarization of cyberspace, and the covert and illegal use of information and communications technologies to attack other States is unacceptable, the same as the distortion of the advancement and protection of human rights used with a selective and discriminatory approach to validate and impose political decisions.

Despite the fact that the Charter calls to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”, to millions of people the fulfillment of human rights remains a utopia.

Humanity is denied the right to live in peace, and the right to development. It is in poverty and inequality where the cause of conflicts should be sought out; conflicts generated first by colonialism and the plundering of the original peoples, and later by imperialism and the distribution of spheres of influence.

The pledge made in 1945 “to promote social progress and better standards of life” for the peoples, along with their economic and social development, remains an illusion when 795 million people go hungry, 781 million adults are illiterate, and 17 thousand children perish every day from curable diseases, while annual military expenses worldwide amount to more than 1.7 trillion dollars. Barely a fraction of that figure could resolve the most pressing problems afflicting humanity.

Even in industrial nations the “welfare society”, usually presented as the model to imitate, has practically disappeared. The election systems and traditional parties that rely on money and publicity, are growing increasingly detached and distant from the aspirations of their peoples.

Climate change is threatening the very existence of the human species, and States should assume common but differentiated responsibility for that, in light of the indisputable reality that not every country is equally accountable, and not all of us waste natural and human resources to an irrational and unsustainable consumerism.

The consequences of climate change have a particularly devastating effect on the small developing island nations and bring additional tension to bear on their fragile economies. And, the same is happening in Africa with the relentless advance of desertification.

We stand in solidarity with our Caribbean brothers, and demand that they are treated in a special and differentiated way. We also support African countries and demand fair treatment for them, as well as the transfer of technology and financial resources.


Mr. President,

The establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and especially the signing by the heads of State and Government in January 2014 of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone, shows that we can move beyond our differences toward unity and the achievement of common goals while respecting our diversity.

In the Proclamation, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and in International Law to settle disputes by peaceful means, and our belief that full respect for the inalienable right of every State to choose their political, economic, social and cultural system is an essential premise to ensure peaceful coexistence between nations. We advocate the application of these principles in other States’ relations with our region.

We reaffirm our full solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela vis-à-vis the attempts at destabilization and subversion of its constitutional order, and the destruction of the work undertaken by President Hugo Chávez Frías and pursued by President Nicolás Maduro Moros for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.

Likewise, our firm and unlimited solidarity goes to the Republic of Ecuador, its Citizens’ Revolution and its leader, Rafael Correa, who has become the target of the same destabilization script enforced against other progressive governments of the region.

We stand in solidarity with the Caribbean nations demanding fair reparation for the horrors of slavery and slave trade, in a world where racial discrimination and repression against communities of African descendants have increased.

We reaffirm our conviction that the people of Puerto Rico deserves to be free and independent, after more than a century of colonial domination.

We stand in solidarity with the Republic of Argentina in its fair claim of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

We reiterate our support to and solidarity with President Dilma Rouseff and the Brazilian people in the defense of their major social achievements and the stability of the country.

We reaffirm our rejection of the intention to expand the presence of NATO up to the Russian borders as well as of the unilateral and unfair sanctions imposed on that nation.

We welcome the so-called nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which proves that engagement and negotiation are the only effective tools to settle disputes between States.

We restate our confidence that the Syrian people are capable of resolving their disputes by themselves, and demand the end of external interference.

A fair and lasting solution of the Middle East conflict unquestionably requires the true exercise, by the Palestinian people, of its inalienable right to build their own State within the borders existing prior to 1967, and its capital in East Jerusalem, which we strongly support.

For the past few weeks we have been moved by images of migratory waves arriving in Europe, a direct result of the destabilization actions promoted and executed by NATO in countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and of poverty and underdevelopment prevailing in countries of the African continent. The European Union should take up full and immediate responsibility for the human crisis that it helped generate.


Mr. President,

After 56 years in which the Cuban people put up a heroic and selfless resistance, diplomatic relations have been reestablished between Cuba and the United States of America.

Now, a long and complex process begins toward the normalization of relations that will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba; the return to our country of the territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo Naval Base; the cessation of radio and TV broadcasts, and of subversion and destabilization programs against the Island; and, when our people are compensated for the human and economic damages they still endure.

While the blockade remains in force, we shall continue introducing the Draft Resolution entitled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

To the 188 governments and peoples that have sponsored our just demand, here and in other international and regional forums, I reaffirm the eternal appreciation of the Cuban people and government for your continued support.


Mr. President,

Cuba is celebrating with profound commitment the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Organization. We acknowledge that efforts have been made throughout these years, although not enough has been done, to save present and future generations from the scourge of war, and to protect their right to sustainable development without exclusions. The United Nations should be saved from unilateralism and deeply reformed to democratize it and bring it close to the peoples.

As Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, the Historic Leader of the Cuban Revolution, stated in this same hall fifteen years ago: “Anyone understands that the fundamental objective of the United Nations, in this pressing century that is just beginning, is to save the world not only from war but also from underdevelopment, hunger, diseases, poverty and the destruction of the natural resources indispensable to human existence. And it should do it soon before it is too late!”

The international community can always depend on Cuba to rise its honest voice against injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation; and for the establishment of a more equitable and fair international order that really focuses on the human being, his dignity and wellbeing.

Thank you.

Obama in the UNGA and Democracy

Obama lectured the world today, September 28, 2015, on democracy. What about democracy in the US?


Chapter 2. Democracy in the U.S.

Birth of the U.S. and the American Dream

Foreign Policy Toward Its Neighbours and Democracy Promotion

Founding Fathers’ Heritage and Voter Turnout

Competitive Multi-Party Democratic Elections: Obama Case Study

Co-Optation and Individual Opportunism

The Credibility Gap

Obama’s First Experiences and Reactions

Obama’s Foreign Policy: The “New Face” and Cuba

Honduras: The “Reluctant Sheriff ”

The Occupy Movement: Breaking Out of U.S.-Centrism?

The November 2012 Elections and Obama

Raúl Castro in UN on Gender Equality

Raul Castro

Remarks by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, in his address to the United Nations Session on “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action”.

New York, September 27, 2015

Mr. President,

Seventy years after the establishment of the United Nations Organization, one of whose foundational objectives was the struggle on inequality, discrimination against women stands as an embarrassing reality.

Forty years after the First World Conference on Women, and twenty years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Action Program, one out of three women endures physical and sexual violence; 90% of the 2.5 million victims of human trafficking are female; unemployment is higher among women than men, and they receive an average of 60% to 70% of the men’s salary for the same work; millions of women do not enjoy equal rights with respect to inheritance and property; and, women representation in parliaments worldwide is of only 22%.

It becomes necessary to examine the problems they face in their permanent connection with conditions in the world today, where the pervasive influence of war, aggression and instability, underdevelopment and the global crisis aggravate their dramatic situation.

Nearly 90% of the current victims of war are civilians, most of them women and children, and the same applies to 75% of the people displaced by conflicts or seeking refuge. Women make up 70% of the 2.7 billion of the world poor, and two thirds of the nearly 800 million illiterate adults; more than 300 thousand women die every year of avoidable complications during childbirth, 99% of them in South countries.


Mr. President,

Cuba, which was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Woman, has achieved great progress toward the objectives that bring us together at this point.

Today, Cuban women’s life expectancy at birth if 80.45 years of age; direct maternal mortality rate is only 21.4 per one-hundred thousand live births, one of the lowest in the world; they make up 48% of the total number of people working in the state civil sector, and occupy 46% of senior leading positions.

They make up 78.5% of healthcare personnel, 48% of scientific researchers and 68.8% of the labor force with the highest technical and professional qualifications. Cuban women, in general, complete their 10th grade of schooling and represent 65.2% of higher education graduates. Additionally, 48.86% of Cuban Parliament members are women, which sets Cuba in second place among countries of the American hemisphere and fourth in the world.

Nevertheless, we still have much to do. We need to move forward in the modification of cultural patterns, and to make sharing family care by men and women a priority. This would help us to continue increasing the number of women in decision-making positions in the Government, just to mention some aspects.


Mr. President,

We admit that some achievements have been scored in the past decades but they are fragile and insufficient. In order to advance toward the full realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women, it is necessary above all to have a more equitable and just international order that eradicates poverty and hunger, puts an end to conflicts, favors human beings above capital, and preserves the environment. But, political will is much needed to avoid turning the results obtained so far into our goals instead of making them a starting point and a pledge to achieve true equality for women.

Thank you.

Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador on OXI GREECE

Cuba: Message from Raúl Castro to Prime Minister of Greece

Compañero Alexis Tsipras

Prime Minister

Hellenic Republic

Havana, July 5, 2015

Esteemed Prime Minister:

I extend to you my most sincere congratulations on the ‘NO’ victory achieved in the referendum held in Greece, July 5, 2015

This result demonstrates the majority support of the Greek people for the courageous policy of the government over which you preside.

I reiterate the assurance of my highest consideration.

Raúl Castro Ruz

President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba.


Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro tweeted: “The ‘no’ vote in Greece is a victory against the financial terrorism carried out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, said, “I congratulate the great Greek people for the victory of “no” … which is a defeat of European imperialism. It is the beginning of the liberation of the European people. My respect and admiration for the historic Greek people, the birthplace of democracy. The Greek people have defeated the harshest capitalism.”

Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner tweeted: “On behalf of our People and Government, our solidarity with the brave Greek people and their Government.”

Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, tweeted: “the overwhelming vote against the proposed austerity measures by European creditors represented solid backing for Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.”

It can be noted that Ecuador, like Greece, held a debt audit that found the country’s debt illegal and illegitimate and that later led to the South American nation substantially reducing its repayments to creditors. Ahead of the vote in Greece, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said Greece should ignore the advice of the IMF and international financial bureaucracies.


For more ongoing information on Greece and Latin America, visit TELESUREnglish:

The Latest Attack Against Venezuela

Ricardo Alarcón diosdado-cabelloDiosdado Cabello

May 29, 2015


As part of the response to the latest attempt by the U.S. to destabilize Venezuela, we are reproducing a CubaNews translation, edited by Walter Lippmann. . Originally published in Punto Final. Following this article, is another very revealing one from Venezuelanalysis.

“We are all Diosdado”
by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Issued on March 9, President Obama’s Executive Order tagging Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the US national security” and declaring “a national emergency to deal with this threat” caused justified alarm and widespread rejection throughout the Continent and beyond. It was not the first time that Washington used a language as arrogant as it is irrational. History is brimming with examples of how the Empire has made use of such accusations to launch military attacks and break international law in various ways. They used similar words to justify their brutal armed invasions of Panama and the tiny island of Granada, among other outrageous acts which crushed defenseless populations and brought death and destruction to nations stripped of their independence as a result.

Despite worldwide disapproval, the number of media campaigns against Venezuela has increased since then through a US-led propaganda apparatus that is now especially concentrating its attacks on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. They are accusing him of being linked to international drug trafficking, a slanderous and yet unproved charge rapidly echoed by hundreds of newspapers and other media from all over the world.

Who is Diosdado Cabello and why is he under attack?

Ever since he was a young officer, he joined Hugo Chavez in the struggle against the abuse and corruption that marked the Fourth Republic and after that, in the peaceful transformation conducted by the Bolivarian Revolution. He played a key role in the popular movement of resistance that thwarted the fascist coup in 2002 and returned Chavez back being head of State for which he had been democratically-elected by most Venezuelans.

In a clumsy maneuver to divide Chavismo, and following Chavez’s unfortunate death, the same hardcore right-wingers who are now vilifying him tried to make him President of the Republic, but he adamantly refused. Diosdado Cabello gave a remarkable example of revolutionary firmness and spirit of unity, proving that he is moved by flattery no more than he is by threats.

Neither the conservative right nor imperialism forgives his attitude, as it embodies the will of a people bent on remaining independent and sovereign.


Facts About the Media Garbage Against Diosdado Cabello

Source Misión Verdad, May 28th 2015, Translated by Lucas Koerner for Venezuelanalysis

By Mision Verdad, May 28th 2015

Facts About the Media Garbage Against Diosdado Cabello

Facts About the Media Garbage Against Diosdado Cabello

May 28th 2015, by Mision Verdad

(Mision Verdad)

Yesterday (May 18) the Wall Street Journal published a news story at the same time that the State Department expressed its “concern” over freedom of speech in Venezuela. The report is based on supposed “investigations” conducted by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and Miami prosecutors trying to link Diosdado (Cabello) with drug trafficking. The information presented by the US media outlet is a mix of anonymous opinions, value judgements by US anti-drug officials, declarations lacking any kind of time sequence and unproven speculations about Diosdado Cabello.

All of this is even more telling when we take into account that the Wall Street Journal forms part of the constellation of properties belonging to that great misinformer on a global scale, Rupert Murdoch, the president of the conglomerate News Corporation (which owns Fox News and 20th Century Fox). If we move the magnifying glass closer, we find that sitting on its board of directors is (extreme rightwing Colombian ex-president) Alvaro Uribe Velez.

Otto Reich, a US diplomat involved up to his nose in the April 2002 coup (against Chavez) and in all prior and subsequent conspiracies, made the following comment yesterday about Nicolas Maduro: “It’s difficult to say that he doesn’t have any knowledge or blame for what is happening around him.”

Diosdado Cabello might be the tactical objective of the public relations manoeuvre but the strategic objective is Chavismo.

The fragile technical and journalistic foundation of the news story falls short in the following elements:

  • The beginning of the report features statements by Joaquin Perez, a defence lawyer for Colombian drug traffickers and paramilitaries. This is the same person who says that drug trafficking has moved from Colombia to Venezuela, accusing Diosdado of being the alleged intermediary, and who has defended characters as dark and terrible as Salvatore Mancuso, paramilitary cadre of Alvaro Uribe Velez, directly responsible for the murder of 14,000 people in the north of Colombia and the principal financier of Uribe’s reelection in 2005, before the US courts.
  • Among the portfolio of Perez’s clients are: Jorge 40 (Rodrigo Tovar Pupo), commander of the Northern Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who has also organised the logistics for the training of paramilitaries (looking to invading Venezuelan Presidential Palace Miraflores) in the Finca Daktari.
  • Rafael Isea and Leamsy Salazar, goons protected by the US, are featured again as primary sewer pipe sources for this orchestrated story, part II.

They repeat the same propagandistic logic: distract attention away from the proof of the matter by appealing to an anonymous, non-existing source lacking any administrative, prosecutorial, or penal relationship to the “case”:

“Salazar says that he had headed Cabello’s security team, he said to the US authorities that he had been witness to (Cabello) supervising the sending of a large shipment of cocaine from the Paraguana peninsula in Venezuela, affirmed people close to the case” (emphasis ours).

The exaggerated reference to anonymous sources, such as “officials” from the Department of Justice, “ex-intelligence officials of the Bolivarian National Guard”, “Miami federal attorneys”, and “elite DEA division” demonstrates the fragility of the news story, and in the same vein, reveals its intent as a propaganda operation.

This past January 27, the ultra-right Spanish newspaper ABC published a propagandistic ruse in which Diosdado Cabello supposedly figures as the head of the “Cartel of the Suns”. The defamation quickly crossed the Atlantic: La Patilla, El Nacional, Tal Cual (and their subsidiaries) gave the story exclusive coverage in order to systematically exploit the prefabricated libel in Venezuela.

Sources or Sewers?

The orchestration of this public relations manoeuvre on the part of newspaper ABC found its starting (and end) point in the false accusations made by Leamsy Salazar about Diosdado Cabello’s supposed link to drug trafficking. But beyond this lie told in exchange for dollars, on what other sewer pipes (in this case, synonymous with “sources”) do the owners of ABC rely in order to give a semblance of validity to their news garbage?

The director of ABC, Bieito Rubido, said the following about the sewer pipes utilized to publish the news scoop: “This is information that is more than corroborated. Besides, we have a great track record. I can tell you that nothing here is published if it’s not well confirmed; in this case, the sources are very serious: from Spanish intelligence to the CIA and DEA.”

In Venezuela, the large drug trafficking circuits began to come under attack openly when Comandante Chavez expelled the DEA from the country in 2005. To demonstrate the proof: following this decision, over 200 covert landing strips have been destroyed to prevent drug trafficking between the largest drugs producer on the continent (Colombia) and the largest drug consumer in the world (United States). Thirty planes connected to drug trafficking were shot down in 2013. Thirty three drug traffickers arrested in Venezuelan territory have been deported to Colombia and twenty one to the US. That the DEA has been used as a source exposes the weak (and mafia-like) foundation of the story.

The CIA has been linked to each and every one of the conspiratorial and coup-making processes against the Bolivarian Revolution, call them coups, economic war, assassination attempts against the president, or barricades (guarimbas). (The CIA is) another sewer pipe that logically excretes pestilent water against the Revolution that it has been unable to overthrow. The CIA being used as a “journalistic sewer pipe” demonstrates what their intentions are.

Spanish intelligence was also charged with designing Plan Balboa, specifically during the presidency of Jose Maria Aznar. A government that planned to invade Venezuela during the April 2002 coup cannot present itself as an “impartial source” for a news story. For this reason, Bieito Rubido reaffirms (his newspaper’s) “great track record”, while scratching his eyes and smiling anxiously trying to dodge any uncomfortable questions.

A Pair of Jewels

The newspaper ABC, in the middle of the corruption scandals battering Spain, bears an extremely large responsibility, alongside the financial and business interests of that continuously plundered US-German semi-colony. The task of Bieito Rubido has been to cover up, omit responsibilities and distract citizens’ attention away from tax and fiscal crimes committed by the leadership of the PP (Popular Party).

Look at the following ABC front page on the Barcenas case, one of the largest scandals concerning illegal party financing in Spain, which totally ignores the two principal beneficiaries of the bonuses and commissions (calculated in millions of euros) granted by Barcenas: Mariano Rajoy and Jose Maria Aznar, who sparkle in their absence.

ABC simply busied itself with grouping together in the photo the second grade actors who participated in the fiscal crime.

Emili J. Blasco, ABC’s correspondent in Washington, was responsible for interviewing Leamsy Salazar.

The info-mercenary in question has extensive experience in necrophilic yellow journalism, showing his unwholesome skills as a mouthpiece for hire when Comandante Chavez was in Cuba in the months prior to his death.

In  January (2013), he (Blasco) said that Chavez’s “cancer was terminal”, that “(Chavez) had suffered various cardiac arrests”, that the “Cuban authorities”  wanted to “distance” Diosdado Cabello from the Venezuelan Presidency. Statements taken from the mafioso banker Pedro Burelli.

He is a fanatic of lies and about Diosdado. Just like Ravell, Teodoro (Petkoff), and Miguel Henrique Otero.

Questions Without Answers

La Patilla and Tal Cual were the principal media outlets which circulated this libel. The president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, faced with the slanderous attack of the (national and international) media, decided to bring a (legal) case against the directors of these media war laboratories.

Once a legal prohibition was decreed barring these actors from leaving the country with the purpose of guaranteeing that the investigations follow their effective course, statements of solidarity were not late in appearing. Not only solidarity amongst the elite, but the articulation of a discourse for and on behalf of the war waged by specific actors of the ultra-right: MariCori (Machado) begins to speak of the “mafia state” with greater frequency from that moment on.

One of the fundamental justifications behind the (still in force) Obama Decree is related to Venezuela’s supposed relationship with drug trafficking. The establishment media dream (these things up) and sometimes rile up those (ultra)interested in promoting permanent conspiration and destabilization.

Yet knees have already begun to tremble. In the face of this backtracking, it’s necessary to pose the question: if the “source” (better put “sewers pipes”) are reliable, why haven’t Rubido or Clasco revealed the DEA reports that make the accusations against Diosdado? Why doesn’t the newspaper ABC produce the reports by Spanish intelligence and the CIA? Why haven’t the (clandestine) air strips, the international links and Swiss bank accounts that name Diosdado the supposed head of the “Cartel of the Suns” appeared? Why haven’t Ravell, Miguel Henrique Otero, and Teodoro Petkoff published the investigation undertaken by the US?

The Wall Street Journal ups the ante in the campaign against Diosdado Cabello. And this public relations coup will not answer these questions: it’s not its end goal or fundamental objective.

However, in the current context there is a political inertia on the part of the opposition, whose helplessness was made more than clear by the scant participation in the primaries held Sunday (May 17). In the face of this inertia, the public relations manoeuvre aims to fulfil the same objective set since January, when the campaign against Diosdado Cabello officially began: to undermine the (emotional, moral, and political) bonds between the Chavista people and its most recognized leaders.

The owners of the hegemonic Venezuelan media (La Patilla, El Nacional, and Tal Cual), knowing very well that they need to win time (and support), are desperately firing off flares with the goal of getting the moribund Pan American institutions (OAS, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Press Association, etc.) to once again issue statement in defence of “freedom of expression”, while lamenting the scarce political capital remaining in an anything but encouraging pre-electoral environment. The declarations by (former Spanish prime minister) Felipe Gonzalez in favor of “freedom of expression” and the prize that they bought for Teodoro Petkoff run along this same line: buy time and geopolitical hostility to the Venezuelan government.

After the victory of Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas, the internal political scene became an uphill battle for them (the opposition), and in this context, propaganda and dirty war are the only devices they have left.

Meanwhile, Ravell, Otero, and Petkoff are making incommensurable efforts to disguise themselves as Harina PAN (most popular brand of flour) to see if they can be smuggled out of Venezuela via Ureña (on the Colombian border).

Translated by Lucas Koerner for Venezuelanalysis

Source URL (retrieved on 03/06/2015 – 3:31pm):

Elitism and Disillusion Taint Venezuela’s Opposition Primaries

By teleSUR / Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Venezuela’s disparate political opposition is about to have its most important internal vote in years, but may have already shot itself in the foot.

For full article, see here:


Press release issued by the Cuban delegation.



Press release issued by the Cuban delegation to the third round of talks on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. Washington D.C., May 22, 2015.

The third round of talks between delegations of Cuba and the United States on the process of re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies was held in Washington D.C., on May 21 and 22, 2015.

The Cuban delegation was headed by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the United States Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the US delegation was headed by Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the State Department.

The Cuban representatives recognized the just decision adopted by President Obama to remove Cuba from the List of States Sponsors of Terrorism, in which Cuba would have never been.

These talks were held after the US government, in compliance with its international legal obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, issued a licence to one bank to resume the banking services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington under the conditions of the financial blockade in force.

Both delegations agreed to continue the exchanges on aspects related to the functioning of the diplomatic missions.

During the talks, the Cuban delegation ratified its willingness to address substantial matters of the bilateral agenda, including the lifting of the embargo among others, which would make it possible to move on to the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States on the basis of respect, sovereign equality and reciprocity, once diplomatic relations are re-established.

The meeting was held in a respectful and professional climate.


Venezuela Rejects Attacks against Cabello, Government Launches Campaign


Diosdado Cabello

By Rachael Boothroyd

Caracas, May 21st 2015 ( – Venezuelan members of parliament and spokespeople for state institutions have come together to vehemently reject a Wall Street Journal report which claimed that National Assembly President, Diosdado Cabello, is being probed by US federal authorities for alleged links to international drug trafficking.

Featured on Monday, the Wall Street Journal article echoes recent reports in the Spanish newspaper ABC that allege that Cabello is implicated in an international drug ring, citing the top legislator’s ex-bodyguard Leamsy Salazar, who has defected to the United States.

The article also alleges that federal prosecutors in New York and Miami and an “elite” Drug Enforcement Agency Unit have opened up an official investigation into the claims, based on interviews with renegade Bolivarian officials as well as Venezuelan and Colombian drugs traffickers under arrest in the US.

On Monday evening, the government hit back at the report, entitled “Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub,” branding rumours of the US investigation as yet another international rightwing campaign aimed at smearing the Revolution’s standing on the global stage.

“We will activate a national and international campaign in defence of Diosdado Cabello… just as we defend our country from rightwing attacks,” announced the president on his weekly TV show, “In Contact with Maduro”.

“Whoever goes after Diosdado Cabello is going after me. We cannot accept these slanders against him… He is one of the loyal cadres (to the revolution)”.

So far, the rumours hinge on the testimony of Cabello’s ex-bodyguard, yet the veracity of his claims has been widely questioned due to reports that the statement was offered in exchange for a U.S. visa and asylum.

The accusations have caused huge controversy at home and abroad, having targeted one of the most powerful and steadfast loyalist to the Bolivarian Revolution.

As former socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s righthand man, ex-soldier Cabello participated in Chavez’s underground Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200 (MBR-200) and participated in the attempted 1992 coup against the repressive government of Carlos Andres Perez that launched Chavez into the public spotlight. Cabello also briefly assumed the presidency of the country during the April 2002 US-sponsored coup which ousted Chavez for a period of 47 hours.

“I am unyielding in the face of any media aggression… I will not surrender… not today or tomorrow,” confirmed Cabello on his weekly television programme.

“I want to express my love and gratitude, up until my last breath, to our people. Thank you for so many messages of support and solidarity in the face of these attacks, which are not against Diosdado Cabello, but against the country’s institutions”.

ABC and the Venezuelan press which republished the reports are all currently being sued for defamation by Cabello, who re-issued a previous challenge to his detractors on Wednesday to “publicly show proof” against him.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) also echoed Cabello’s sentiments that the press reports constitute an attempt to undermine Venezuela’s state institutions internationally, and are linked to ongoing efforts to unseat the government.

“They claim to reflect situations that aren’t based on any plausible or possible foundations,” replied the head of the TSJ, Judge Gladys Gutiérrez.

The accusations against Cabello are just the latest of many that have been levelled at Venezuelan government officials by US authorities in recent years. Others accused of being involved in international drugs trafficking ops include Venezuelan army general and diplomat Hugo Carvajal and former Minister of the Interior and Justice, Tarek El-Aissami.

Carvajal was controversially arrested last year by Aruba authorities during a visit to the island on the petition of the US, who quickly moved to request his extradition. He was eventually released after an Aruba judge finally overruled the arrest and declared it illegal under international treaties.

The latest reports are likely to further isolate the US and its increasingly discredited Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the region, which is banned from operating within Venezuela and Bolivia. Both countries severed ties with the DEA in recent years on the basis that the agency was spying on their progressive governments and paradoxically allied with international drug smuggling networks in the region.

The DEA courted further controversy earlier in March this year when the release of secret files revealed that DEA agents working in Colombia had engaged in illicit sex parties with prostitutes, including children, paid for by Colombian drugs cartels.


Watch your thoughts for they become words,

Watch your words for they become actions,

Watch your actions, for they become habits, Watch your habits for they become your character, Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


For nations, history plays the role that character

confers on human beings.

Henry Kissinger


All that I have done was for your own good.

President William McKinley to Salvador Cisneros,

explaining the U.S. military occupation of Cuba (1900)



Expectations soared on December 17: “Sweeping changes,” exulted the New York Times, “ushering in a transformational era.” “A truly historic moment,” pronounced the Huffington Post. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami rejoiced over the “game changer” announcements, and the Brookings Institution predicted “seismic change” in the offing. A “bold new policy,” proclaimed the Chicago Tribune.

Maybe . . . .


That the announcements of December 17 in Washington and Havana portended change could hardly be gainsaid, of course. Some things did indeed change. Cubans and Americans at the highest levels of government were speaking to each other—instead of at each other. That’s something. To reopen embassies in Havana and Washington: that’s something, too. All to the good, of course. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson was most assuredly correct to note that “diplomatic relations and having embassies is incredibly important in a relationship like this where you have so much to overcome and where you have differences.”

But it is also true that some things have not changed, and therein lurks the specter of a past foretold, for much of what has not changed is precisely what has been at the source of the estrangement of the past 55 years.


The need for a change of policy was as self-evident as it was self-explanatory. A policy from another historical epoch, fashioned by policymakers three generations ago, bereft of plausible purpose, had assumed a life of its own as something of a policy legacy, as if a “trust”• passed on from one presidential administration to another: eleven presidential administrations, to be precise. The United States, President Obama affirmed correctly, cannot “keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.” Hence, the President added, it was time to “end an outdated approach” and “to try something different.” The old policy, the President affirmed “hasn’t worked.” Senator Patrick Leahy agreed, and applauded the end of “53 years of a policy that has not worked.” A view shared, too, by Senator Jeff Flake: “It’s time to try something new.”

But troubling ambiguities lurk in the phrasing of celebratory narratives of the “bold new policy.” To change a “policy that has not worked” for 55 years in order to “try something new” speaks to an eminently rational logic, of course. But it is also true that power tends to assemble logic in accordance with its needs. In fact, the connotations of the phrasing are neither explicit nor explained: “has not worked” at . . . . what?

But we do know what “has not worked”: what “has not worked,” of course, is regime change, which was the overriding purpose to which 55 years of U.S. policy was given. The government long vilified in the United States continues to govern Cuba, and continues to be vilified.


The “bold new policy” appears to suggest less a change of ends than one of means, from a punitive policy devised to impoverish the Cuban people into rebellion to a benign policy designed to empower the Cuban people as agents of change. And indeed the operative phrase of the new policy is precisely “to empower the Cuban people.” Not a changed relationship with the government of Cuba, but a changed relationship with the people of Cuba—what Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis explained to the Harvard Crimson, “to extend a hand to the Cuban people.” A portentous distinction, to be sure, one that implies more than a semantic detail, and indeed invites the conclusion that “to try something new” implies a new way to try regime change.

The purport of policy was made explicit in the very first sentence of President Obama’s December 17 announcement: “Today the United States is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” The President expressed his conviction that “through a policy of engagement we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves as they move into the twenty-first century.” And at another point: “I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.” Engagement with the Cuban people, the President indicated at his year-end press conference, “offers the best prospect then of leading to greater freedom, greater self-determination on the part of the Cuban people . . . . Through engagement, we have a better chance of bringing about change than we would have otherwise . . . . And the more the Cuban people see what’s possible, the more interested they are going to be in change.” The President reiterated the larger purpose of policy to Reuters, indicating that “we need to try something new that encourages and ultimately forces the Cuban government to engage in a modern economy.”

The “bold new policy” contemplates normal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government as a means to obtain wider access to the Cuban people, to enable the United States to “empower” the Cuban people as agents of change. “We strongly believe,” Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson explained to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “that having an embassy in Havana will enable us to do more things that help us more effectively empower the Cuban people.” And Secretary Jacobson at another point in her testimony: “We want to try and go directly to the Cuban people . . . . I believe that we also will get some things that matter in opening our embassy and hopefully the ability to travel throughout the country and see more people, and support more people.” The United States, Secretary Jacobson emphasized, was “committed to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, which will allow us to more effectively represent U.S. interests and increase engagement with the Cuban people.” The U.S. purpose was summarized by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Tomasz Malinowski: “The empowerment of the Cuban people must be the bedrock of our new policy towards Cuba, and it will be.”


Habits of power are not readily relinquished. U.S. relations with Cuba have been conditioned by nearly 200 years of history in which the warrant of entitlement has insinuated itself into the very premise of the policy rationale vis-a-vis Cuba. It presumes U.S. “authority”• to manage Cuban internal affairs, to seek to shape outcomes and to influence the course of events. The practice has historical antecedents in the nineteenth century, and in the course of time has developed into something of a default stance from which the United States has engaged Cuba, to this day. “If we engage,” President Obama explained to CNN’s Candy Crowley, “we have the opportunity to influence the course of events at a time when there’s going to be some generational change in that country. And I think we should seize it and I intend to do so.”

The interventionist disposition obtains moral validation in the guise of righteous motive and noble purpose, the exercise of power represented as the performance of beneficent intent, always in the best interest of the Cuban people and for their own good: deeds of disinterested concern for the wellbeing of the Cuban people. These are the sentiments that today inform the “bold new policy.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme . . . .

The salient facets of U.S. policy initiatives stand in sharp relief as a matter of historical continuity. The policy appears to commit the United States to engage the Cuban people, to provide moral support and material assistance as a means to propel Cubans to act in behalf of change as a matter, presumptively, of their best interest. The “bold new policy” seeks to achieve from within what could not be accomplished from without—the interior meaning of “trying something new.” If not change of regime, exactly, in the short run, then change in the regime, in the long run. “We would hope to bring about change in the regime,” Secretary Jacobson acknowledged. “And simultaneously, we would hope to empower the Cuban people to be able to make that change.” Hints of destabilization abound. Secretary Malinowski was lucid: “Authoritarian regimes don’t just give up their power voluntarily. But change comes by empowering people to demand change. It comes by making the Cuban people less dependent on the Cuban state for their livelihood, for their survival. It comes through information coming from the outside, and less control by the Cuban state. And it comes from international pressure, and we will be able to generate more international pressure on the Cuban government as a result of this policy.”

The policy is designed to drive a wedge between the Cuban people and the Cuban government, to wean the Cuban people off their “dependence” on the State as a means to promote the development of civil society and market economy, whereupon the Cuban people thus “empowered” would be motivated to act in behalf of their own economic interests as agents of political change. “Our hope is,” Assistant Secretary Jacobson suggested, “that we can empower the small entrepreneurs . . . with the emerging entrepreneurial class separating from the state . . . . The more people who are not reliant on the state for their economic future, [to] make their own economic decisions . . . the more it empowers people.” The United States, Secretary Malinowski indicated, favored those policies in which “the Cuban people will be less dependent on their government and will have more power to shape their future. That is what we hope will happen.” One of the virtues of the black market in Cuba, Malinowski suggested, was that people “in addition to enriching themselves, become more independent, and less dependent on the state.” Secretary Jacobson reiterated this point to NPR: “The most important thing that we can do now is focus on empowering the Cuban people, to make sure that they have the wherewithal to decide their own future.”

The revision of regulatory policies was designed principally to increase financial support for the emerging private sector. U.S. trade regulations, explained Matthew Borman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, have been revised “to empower the nascent Cuban private sector by supporting private economic activity,” as well as “improve [Cubans’] living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.” Indeed, by authorizing American companies to engage in telecommunications sales, Secretary Jacobson suggested, “and acting to get information into Cuba, to work with entrepreneurs . . . we can begin to increase the pace at which people separate themselves from the state.”

All in all, of course, policies the Americans deem to be in the best interest of the Cubans. The United States, Jacobson explained to Congress, wished to help the Cuban people “to be able to do what they wish. To be able to make their own decisions.” Simply put, Jacobson indicated, to enable “the Cuban people to freely determine their own future,” to “empower the Cuban people” and enable them “to take their lives into their own hands.” Habits of power persist. At some point in the nineteenth century, Americans arrived at the conviction that Cuba’s destiny was the possession of the United States. “We are guardians, self-appointed, to the Cuban people,” the New York Times pronounced in 1899. The sentiment informs the logic of the new policy. Resumption of normal diplomatic relations suggests the U.S. intent to establish an “activist” embassy, with an ambassador and/or embassy assigned to “empower the Cuban people.” They would follow the footsteps of past U.S. ambassadors to Cuba who inserted themselves deeply in Cuban internal affairs, including Enoch Crowder, Sumner Welles, Spruille Braden, and Earl E. T. Smith, among others, all of whom assumed something of a proconsular bearing in Havana. “We have always to consider,” exhorted Enoch Crowder in 1922, “the eternal vigil that must be exercised by America’s representative in Cuba.” The practice defined the role  of the U.S. embassy in Havana. “The United States,” former ambassador Earl E. T. Smith acknowledged in 1960, “until the advent of Castro, was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that . . . the American Ambassador was the second most important man in Cuba; sometimes even more important than the President.”

The specter of a new American embassy as site of opposition to the present Cuban government looms large. There is precedent for this, too: in 1933, when Ambassador Sumner Welles arrived to Havana in the name of U.S. “interest in the welfare of the Cuban people”—per his instructions—and thereupon proceeded to remove the government of Gerardo Machado and remained to conspire against the government of Ramón Grau San Martín.

The “bold new policy” toward Cuba emerges out of a tradition—indeed, a legacy—of entitlement, out a history in which the propriety of American power assumed the appearance of the natural order of things: all in all, culturally-determined and historically-conditioned practices from which the prerogative of power was normalized. The degree to which men and women charged with policy make decisions on the basis of historical self-understanding, often unwittingly, can be best understood through an understanding of the past by which they themselves were formed.

*Louis A. Pérez, Jr. is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and director of the Institute for Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

SOURCE: CENTER FOR LATIN AMERICAN AND LATINO STUDIES, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON, D.C. SSRC, April, 2015. AU-SSRC Implications of Normalization: Scholarly Perspectives on U.S.-Cuban Relations April 2015