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13 January 2000 Edition

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Cuba: Forty Years of Revolution and Evolution

Cuba is a defiant country. Not only defiant of the United States but defiant of the new world order. Defiant of capitalism. Defiant in the protection of its sovereignty. Defiant to ensure the continuation and improvement of the welfare of its people. Defiant in its protection of socialism.

As Cuba enters the 41st year of its Revolution, the confidence of the Cuban people in their future is unshakeable despite the difficulties that continue to face them. This confidence arises from the fact that they have survived the devastating collapse of their trading arrangements with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe in the early 1990s and the deliberate intensification of the US blockade in 1992 and 1996. At that time, there was a widespread belief (outside Cuba) that Cuba would collapse within the sandwich of the loss of trade and the effects of the intensified blockade. The fact that Cuba survived is a tribute to the will of the Cuban people to preserve the gains of their Revolution and explains the confidence with which they now face the future. Last year, the economy grew by about 6.5% - a much higher rate than any other country in the Caribbean.

However, while infant mortality and life expectancy rates continue to improve, life is still very difficult for the Cuban people. There are shortages of most of the basic necessities of life and they endure a continious struggle to provide for their needs. And while not a single public facility was closed down and no teachers, medical staff or other public service workers were laid off, many supplies necessary for the provision of social services are in short supply or are simply not available.

Despite US propaganda to the contrary, there is no indication that there is any sign of a relaxation of the blockade. In the face of worldwide revulsion towards the inclusion of food and medicine in the blockade legislation, the US responded with a propaganda campaign which appeared to soften the blockade but which allowed almost no practical benefit to Cuba. US hostility towards Cuba is vented at any and every opportunity. The most recent act of hostility relates to the virtual state kidnapping of Elian Gonzales, the six-year-old boy who was picked from the sea by the US Coastguard after his mother and step-father attempted to reach the US illegally, having taken the boy without the permission of his father.

Under international law and under the terms of the current migration agreement between the US and Cuba, the boy should have been returned immediately to his father in Cuba. Instead, the boy was kept in the US and used as a propaganda weapon against Cuba. The boy was picked up on 25 November and at the time of going to print the child has still not been returned to his father in Cuba. Any other child from any other country in the world would have been returned to his family within 48 hours.

Whatever about individual attacks on Cuba such as in the case of Elian Gonzales, US hostility towards Cuba must still be measured by the terms and intensity of the continuing blockade. The blockade is intended to smash the economy and break the will of the Cuban people. But while the US can claim `success' in causing massive damage to the Cuban economy and untold hardship to the civilian population, the war to break the will of the people has been a complete failure.

Remarkably, the Cuban people do not harbour generalised ill-feelings against the US or against the American people. Reports of ``anti-American'' demonstrations in Cuba over the Elian Gonzales case are false: the demonstrations are very focused on the particular policies being applied by the US Government. Anti-Americanism and opposition to US foreign policies are two distinct matters - matters between which the Cuban population have no problem distinguishing.

Cuba has shown that the countries of Latin America need not be condemned to poverty and backwardness, that progress can be made and the highest standard of health care and social welfare achieved. Cuba is now struggling valiantly to defend the gains of its Revolution - there is no time to waste in supporting that struggle.


How You Can Help


International Work Brigade to Cuba


10-30 July 2000

For an experience of a lifetime, join the International Work Brigade to Cuba. Participate in work, political social and cultural events, visit schools, hospitals, clinics, workplaces and meet Cuban people from all walks of like in the company of Brigidistas from all over Northern Europe.

Second World Solidarity Conference


Havana 10 - 14 November 2000

Join friends of Cuba from all over the world at this major international conference. The first conference held in 1994 was attended by more than 5,000 delegates from 113 countries.

Join Cuba Support Group


15 Merrion Square
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 8436448 / (01) 6761213
Fax: (01) 6611738

e-mail: [email protected]

Website: http://www.clubi.ie/csg/


New York

For the first time since it was created, the UN's Security Council met on Monday 10 January, to talk about health. The 15 council members discussed how the HIV virus is decimating Africa's population. As Richard Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., pointed out, Aids is claiming more victims than armed conflict on this continent. A UN report states that every minute, ten people are infected with the HIV virus in Africa. At least 50% of HIV positive cases are registered in Africa, and 60% of Aids victims are living on this continent.
Tibet

The flight of the 17th Karmapa Lama from Chinese-ruled Tibet has been a blow for the Peking government, which had been using him as a symbol of religious freedom in Tibet. He is the third highest leader of the Tibetan faith, after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
East Timor

East Timor's Nobel Laureate Bishop Carlos Belo criticised the UN on Friday last for dragging its heels in bringing home thousands of refugees stuck in Indonesian West Timor. "In Rwanda in one week they saved one million people. Why here, after months, are there still more than 100,000 refugees in West Timor?" he said. Belo added that it is now more than four months since nearly 250,000 East Timorese fled or were forced from their homes and all those who wished to return should have done so by now. The United Nations estimates that more than 125,000 East Timorese, who fled the territory when violence erupted following last August's independence ballot result, have since returned.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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