Monday, October 30, 2006

Cuban Revolution

Cuba has suffered greatly both due to the fall of the Soviet Union and because of the 50 year old US blockade. The US has cut Cuba off from essential supplies including food, raw materials and fossil fuels. Lift the Cuban blockade now! In addition, the 1996 Helms-Burton law (Libertad) has shown the clear interest of the United States in Cuba and beyond. In short, it is naked hegemonic imperialism (the opposite of "spreading democracy"). Some analyses defend the law based on the premise that it is effective in its goal (e.g. imposing hegemonic imperialism)! Nevermind the millions in Cuba who have suffered. Nevermind the thousands who have been fined or detained for having the nerve to do business in or with Cuba.

One aspect of the law is that it punishes people and companies, domestic and foreign, who do business in Cuba in a certain context. More importantly, it is a setup for making "the Island" into a debt prison for the majority of its population. The law demands that "the Island" (this language shows us clearly that sovereignty is not even recognized!) return certain capital property to its former "owners" valued at approximately US$6 billion and pay interest and interest on interest, etc. in perpetuity. Variations of this model is quite effective throughout the third world as implemented by the IMF and World Bank. However, in this case we see that in fact it is a form of collective punishment against the entire "Island" in retaliation for the Revolution.

How long could such an unjust punishment last? Simply look to Haiti for your example. Since the black uprising and establishment of a freed-slave republic in 1804 the Haitian people have been punished by the international community for their hubris. In 1833 France forced Haiti to pay reparations for the revolution, which threw the country into crippling debt. Direct American military intervention began in 1915 and continues to this day. The Cuban people are well aware of this and other histories and understand their fate under neo-liberalism. The Helms-Burton law has destroyed any notion of perestroika occurring in Cuba. Any transition after Castro will very likely be brutal and bloody. It is in this context that the revolution must be maintained!

Nevertheless, the nation has reaped amazing results due to its planned economy focused on providing for human need. Cuba has one of the highest life expectancies in the world (over 70), boasts the best doctor patient ratio in the world, and one of the best teacher student ratios. Socialism Today has published an excellent survey of Cuba and its future without Castro. An excerpt is here:
Millions of working-class people and the poor, particularly in the neo-colonial world and especially in Latin America, are hoping against hope that the predictions of the imminent collapse of Cuba will prove wrong. The Cuban revolution, right from its inception in January 1959, and through its planned economy, gave a glimpse of what was possible for humankind as a whole if the straightjacket of landlordism and capitalism was eliminated. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were then, and remain today, heroic figures for many workers and youth throughout the world.

If anything, Cuba's reputation has been enhanced when set against the background of the brutal neo-liberal offensive of capitalism worldwide throughout the1990ss and the first part of this century. The achievements in health, housing and education are spectacular when compared to the dismal record of landlordism and capitalism in the neo-colonial world. Even while the bourgeoisie of the world and its hirelings seek to use the illness of Castro as an excuse to pillory Cuba and its revolution, other, more serious, journals of capitalism are compelled torecognizee Cuba's achievements.

For instance, El Pai­s, the Spanish journal, recently outlined Cuba'’s impressive performance in key fields. There are 200,000 teachers in a population of 11.4 million. This means there is a teacher for every 57 people, one of the best ratios of teachers to pupils anywhere in the world, never mind the neo-colonial world. Moreover, following the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, Cuba sent 2,660 doctors and health technicians to help in the worst areas. In six months in Pakistan, they dealt with 1,700,000 patients 73% of those affected by illness and carried out 14,500 operations. In addition to this they offered 1,000 courses to young people from the worst-hit areas to study medicine in Cuba. Thirty-two temporary hospitals were left by the Cuban government to be used by the Pakistani people to combat serious illnesses. Naturally, this raised the profile of support for Cuba in Pakistan. In Indonesia, following the earthquake in May 2006, 135 Cuban health workers attended 100,000 patients. Two hospitals were built and left by the Cubans when the medical expedition left the country. Thirty-six thousand Cuban health professionals and technicians are working in 107 different third-world countries. In addition to this, Venezuela and Cuba have announced a project, "operation milagro"’ (operation miracle), to provide six million Latin Americans with free operations if they cannot afford them over the next ten years. Cuba has also offered 100,000 places in Cuban universities to train Latin American doctors free of charge.

Socialism Today: What will happen after Castro?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mexico PRD Resistance Continues

AMLO on the move:
Mexico, Oct 12 (Prensa Latina) Leaders of Mexico s PRD (Revolucion Democratica Party) asserted Thursday that the civilian resistance continues united behind opposition leader AMLO (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) as legitimate president of Mexico.

Denying the "insidious" rumors that a faction has withdrawn support, PRD spokesman Gerardo Fernandez Noroña said on the contrary, they are firm that AMLO will be declared president on November 20 and that they will try to block the named elect, Felipe Calderon, from swearing-in before Congress on December 1.

He repeated that all of the PRD groups are in consensus with the agreements of September´s National Democratic Convention and that Obrador is the most important leader of the left.

The PRD spokesman also rejected Calderon s recent initiatives and long-term program for development because, "for PRD he will always be a usurper and we will continue actions to combat him with determination."
Mexico, Oct 8 (Prensa Latina) Mexican opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador termed important the peaceful resistance stated last July in Mexico to stop economic and social inequalities.

Lopez Obrador said in Tabasco, as part of a national tour, that the mobilization will continue as part of a fair and vital movement otherwise Mexicans will stay without a defense.

He noted the disparity in per capita distribution of incomes as 90 percent earn less than the minimum and 100 people get fortunes and concentrate national wealth.

He added that misery affects namely the indigenous population marginalized at swamps and mountains and very few know to read and write.

Lopez Obrador finally promised to devote his life to fight for those who have least.
So, many on the right have said (see the Huffington Post) that AMLO is a corrupt liar. If so, what can he possibly gain by taking this route and appealing to the poorest and most politically outcast groups of people in Mexico? Certainly a truely corrupt individual would know better where to get his bread well buttered...

Calderon is a PRI flunky. Yes is supposedly a PAN candidate. But the institutionalize Party of the Institutionalized "Revolution" just simply changed flags and slogans to throw in with the right-wing neo-liberal PAN in a bid to cling to power. Most of these charaters have been in power in Mexico City for decades first as PRI then as PAN. The only difference is that PAN has made them more socially conservative so as to appeal more to the theocratic US government.

AMLO would have brought change and new faces to the federal government. That is why he HAD to loose. The entrenched interests and long and deep ties within the 3rd estate of Mexico linked to the capitalist ruling class was severely threatened, at least in the short term, by such a power shift. Many individuals would have been affected and a lot of corruption would have been uncovered, ruining lives and causing general disruption. Ah, democracy, a nice idea but really such a bother afterall.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Takes More Than Guns to Kill a Man

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it's there you find Joe Hill,
it's there you find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Joe Hill was an IWW organizer who worked hard to build the union for exploited copper workers in the Western US. He was framed for murder and shot by the state of Utah in 1915. His last words were "Fire!"