145th Anniversary of Grito de Lares Uprising
Puerto Ricans Celebrate Birth of
The U.S. colonized Puerto Rico in 1898 and since then
every effort to crush the struggle for independence, using
assassinations, jailings and violence against the resistance. It has
imposed such poverty on the country that millions of Puerto Ricans go
to the U.S. to live. Amongst other injustices, for
62 years the U.S. Navy abused the island and people of Vieques, until
it was finally evicted in 2003. Residents of Vieques continue to suffer
the effects of weapons testing there, including cancer rates 30 per
cent higher than anywhere else in Puerto Rico, attributed to the U.S.
military's use of depleted uranium munitions.
Once again this past spring, the UN Special Committee on
Decolonization reaffirmed the need for Puerto Rico's colonial status to
be ended. The matter has been discussed in the Special Committee for
the past 40 years, in which time it has passed 32 resolutions taking
position, the latest 14 of them presented by Cuba and adopted by
consensus. The latest draft resolution was introduced by Cuba and
co-sponsored by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Cuba's
representative on the committee pointed out that little progress had
made towards a solution, but 115 years of U.S. colonialism had
not been "sufficient to crush the will or culture of the people of
Puerto Rico or to wipe out their identity or feeling of nationhood."
Updating the Special
Committee on recent developments in
Puerto Rico's relations with the United States, Juan Dalmau of the
Puerto Rican Independence Party said the most significant recent event
was the November 2012 referendum. With a turnout of 78 per cent, 54 per
cent of voters had rejected continuing the commonwealth's current
status, but despite that "full rejection of colonialism," the U.S.
government continues to defend colonialism. The most common theme
voiced by petitioners to the Special Committee was the demand for the
release of Puerto Rican political prisoners, including Oscar
López Rivera, who recently began his 33rd year of incarceration.
His time in prison includes 12 years in solitary confinement.
Oscar López Rivera, to whom this year's Grito de Lares anniversary commemoration was dedicated, was sentenced to 55 years in prison in August 1981. He is the only one of 13 Puerto Rican political prisoners to reject the 1999 release offer made to them by then-President Bill Clinton. The offer was rejected because two other comrades were not included in the offer and he vowed to serve out the remainder of his term. In the end, 12 people were released and the two that López Rivera wanted freed at the time have since been released. López Rivera has met the conditions as set by Clinton's clemency offer. Puerto Rican patriots and peace and justice-loving people around the world point out that he should never have been charged or imprisoned and demand his immediate release.
On the anniversary of the Grito de Lares, TML
salutes Oscar López Rivera and the Puerto Rican independence
movement and urges everyone to inform themselves about this important
In a ceremony at the José Martí Memorial in Havana, Cuba on September 18, Clarisa López Ramos received the El Mehdi Ben Barka Order of Solidarity on behalf of her father, the Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera. As of May 29, Oscar López Rivera has been a political prisoner in the U.S. for 32 years for being a part of the movement to win Puerto Rican independence from U.S. colonialism. The award was granted by the Secretariat of the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL).
Clarisa López Ramos read the message of thanks written by her father when he learned that he had been given the award. In this message he states that this decoration will contribute to the solidarity actions so as to prevent him being turned into an "invisible" man, alluding to the silence of the monopoly media that hides the long-standing injustice by the U.S. against the Puerto Rican people.
We will raise our voices until my father and all of the Cuban Five have returned, because they will not be invisible either, emphasized Clarisa, bringing together the Puerto Rican fighters and four remaining Cuban patriots imprisoned in the U.S., Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González.
A warm and profound fraternal embrace between the Cuban and Puerto Rican peoples sealed the moment when René González, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, delivered the Order to Clarisa López.
Lourdes Cervantes, General Secretary of OSPAAAL read the decision of the organization highlighting the human qualities, events and life story of Oscar López Rivera as an exemplar of the Puerto Ricans who fight for the independence of their country and Latin America and the Caribbean from imperialism.
The El Mehdi Ben Barka Order was established in 1986 by OSPAAAL's Executive Secretariat. To date it has been awarded to 23 outstanding personalities in the struggle for freedom, independence, against colonialism, in favour of peace and social justice, among them Nelson Mandela, the Five Cuban Heroes and the Puerto Rican nationalist patriot Rafael Cancel Miranda.
The ceremony was part of Cuba's Days of Solidarity with Puerto Rico. The delegation of Puerto Ricans present included Elsa Santiago, wife of the Puerto Rican political prisoner Norberto González; Aleida Centeno, a leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party; Edwin González, head of the Puerto Rican Mission in Cuba, and was led by Alejandro Torres, member of the Secretariat of the Hostosian National Independence Movement. Cuban dignitaries who attended included José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and head of its International Relations Department; Ricardo Alarcón, advisor to the President of the Councils of State and of Ministers of Cuba; and officials, leaders and guests of OSPAAAL, the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples of the World (ICAP) and the Cuban peace movement. The event was also attended by political representatives and diplomats from 14 other countries.
U.S. Interferes with Right of
Venezuelan Presidential Aircraft to Fly Over Puerto Rico
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the recent attempt of the U.S. imperialists to once again interfere with the right of the president of a sovereign nation to free passage in the skies. This time, the U.S. took on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Executive Branch of the Venezuelan government.
On September 19, President Maduro, who was about to fly to China in order to attend bilateral meetings on September 21 and 22, was informed that the United States refused his presidential plane access to Puerto Rico's airspace as per the flight plan. This attempt to undermine the strengthening of relations between the Venezuelan and Chinese governments was in vain. A few hours later, President Maduro informed that he was en route to China.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said that following a delay, President Maduro's plane had ultimately been granted permission to fly over Puerto Rico after negotiations were held with officials from the Venezuela embassy, in order to grant flight approval within hours. A diplomatic statement from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas tried to justify the delay with the pretext that the request was not filed in time and that "the [presidential] plane in question was not a state aircraft, which is required for diplomatic clearance." The statement also indicated that the Embassy had offered Venezuela, which has had active foreign relations with many countries for years, advice "on the correct way to get the clearance ..."
The spurious statement by the U.S. Embassy, a den of intrigue from which the U.S. foments counter-revolutionary activities within Venezuela, was fully refuted by the Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Calixto Ortega. "The permission was denied. I have the denial in writing. We had to have a series of conversations [to gain clearance for the flight]," he said. He added that the plane, route and flight request were exactly the same as in June when Maduro passed over Puerto Rico en route to Italy for a diplomatic tour of Europe, when the request for flight clearance was immediately approved.
As soon as word of the U.S. provocative act reached Bolivia's President Evo Morales, he said he would propose that the presidents of the member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) boycott the meetings of the UN General Assembly this week in New York, in protest over the incident. "The United States must know that if it messes with Maduro, it messes with the whole Latin American people because this is about the unity and sovereignty of our peoples," he said. Morales, whose own presidential plane was subject to a similar act of U.S.-instigated aggression while returning from Europe earlier this year, requested that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) hold an emergency meeting to consider the incident. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla called the U.S. conduct "unjustifiable, arbitrary and unfriendly, which offends the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean." He added that CELAC members were discussing the issue and would raise the issue at the UN General Assembly. Cuba is currently the pro tempore president of the CELAC.
Also on September 19, President Maduro publicly
denounced a second U.S. imperialist act of aggression. The U.S. refused
to grant visas to Venezuelan government ministers who were to be part
presidential delegation to the Africa-South America Cooperation Forum
being held within the framework of the United
Nations General Assembly. "We are not traveling to New York as tourists
on vacation…we are going to a UN function. I cannot accept that they
have denied a visa to Major General Wilmer Barrientos," said Maduro.
The serious concerns raised by the U.S. aggressive acts
against heads of state, their aircraft and delegations was confirmed
the following week. Following President Maduro's meetings in China,
report that rather than attend the General Debate of the 68th General
Assembly in New York on September 25, where he had been scheduled to
speak at 3:00 pm, the President had returned directly to Caracas.
The change of plans followed U.S. requests that President Maduro's
entourage be inspected by U.S. authorities, a totally inappropriate
request outside the norms of international relations. Earlier this week
on September 23, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua stated that the Venezuelan
delegation could not confirm Maduro's attendance at the UN Assembly,
and that he needed a guarantee that they would be respected by the U.S.
These assaults by the U.S. imperialists constitute further violations of the laws and norms governing international relations between sovereign states. These latest acts are carried out in the same vengeful spirit as those perpetrated against Bolivian President Evo Morales and his presidential plane just three months ago.
These acts show just how much the private interests that have usurped state power in the U.S. are committed to making gangsterism the new standard in international relations in order to serve their private interests, regardless of consequences they may have on peaceful relations between countries.
The fact that the United Nations headquarters is on U.S. soil in no way authorizes the latter to prevent the full participation of a delegation of a member country. These revenge-seeking retaliatory methods have no place in international relations and must stop.
No to U.S.
Condemn U.S. Imperialist Acts of Aggression Against President Maduro
and the Sovereign Government of Venezuela!
Worldwide Solidarity with the Cuban Five
15 Years ago, on September 12th 1998, five heroic Cubans were arrested and imprisoned for defending their country from terrorism. This was their only crime: preventing terrorist attacks launched against Cuba from Florida with the tacit complicity of the United States' government. These attacks have claimed more than 1,400 victims since 1959. The Five Heroes were detained in Miami and given harsh sentences -- ranging from 15 years to two life sentences.
Montreal, September 12, 2013
Far from being dispirited, beaten or broken, the Five Heroes have refused to surrender. They hold their heads high and have refused to abandon their principles -- principles forged and deeply rooted in Cuban revolutionary history. As exemplars of Cuba, they embody the best of the indomitable human striving for justice and peace. While Washington had hoped to consign them to oblivion, the peoples of the world have taken up the cause to win the freedom of each of these Cuban patriots. Collectively, these Five Heroes -- Fernando González Llort, René González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo and Ramón Labañino Salazar -- are global symbols of the struggle for self-determination, independence and human dignity.
Kamloops, September 14, 2013
The Cause of the Five Heroes resonates with Canadians, who are outraged at their unjust incarceration for simply defending their homeland from aggression. Across Canada a series of events and activities are taking place as part of the international campaign to mark this 15th anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of the Five Heroes and demand their immediate release. For example, in Toronto a rally was held at the U.S. consulate calling for the freedom of the Five. In British Columbia, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Kamloops and Bowen Island will host events, including a rally at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver and a number of cultural and educational activities. These actions reflect the resolute determination to break the wall of silence and disinformation that U.S. authorities seek to impose around this valiant struggle.
In a world teetering on the brink of war, facing
calamities that threaten the well-being of humanity, the Five Heroes
remind us that there are other ways in which human relations and
societies can be arranged. This in no small way has galvanized the
international solidarity and friendship movement with Cuba
to fight until their freedom is won!
Free the Cuban Five Now!
Fifteen years ago today, September 12, 1998, the brutality of five simultaneous arrests burst into our homes to initiate one of the most shameful chapters of U.S. legal history: the trial of those of us today known as The Five.
The arrest and trial of The Five will remain in history as one of the most ignominious and vile episodes of relations between the United States and Cuba.
A few months earlier, after the mediation of the Nobel
Literature Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, the doors
had been opened to significant cooperation between the two countries in
the fight against terrorism. In June of that year, an FBI delegation
visited Cuba and after receiving copious information on
anti-Cuban terrorist activities organized with impunity in Miami,
promised their Cuban counterparts that they would take action.
In a low blow, instead of arresting the terrorists, the William Clinton administration arrested and brought before its courts those of us who were gathering information to avert the damage which these terrorists were inflicting on the Cuban population. The U.S. legal system was openly utilized as a means of protecting the terrorists and, in an atmosphere of lynching, we were subjected to a rigged trial. Cruel conditions of confinement were utilized to break us and to prevent us from preparing an adequate defense. Lies took over the courtroom.
Evidence was adulterated, damaged and suppressed. The judge's orders were openly disregarded. Terrorists called as witnesses by the defense were threatened in public with imprisonment if they did not take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. U.S. experts and government officials justified or openly scorned the damage the terrorists were doing to Cuba. All this while the press opted to keep the American public in total ignorance, and the trial venue mercilessly bombarded with a barrage of propaganda against the accused.
On June 8, 2001, a jury which went so far as to register a complaint about their fear of harassment by the local press -- later revealed to have been paid handsomely by the U.S. government -- found us guilty on all charges, including one for which the prosecution -- in an emergency motion to the Appeals Court in Atlanta, had recognized in the light of evidence brought before the court -- it would not be possible to obtain a guilty verdict.
The deplorable conduct of the prosecution attorneys, judges and the U.S. government in this case is no accident. It is impossible to conduct oneself ethically when, for an objective in which political hatred is mixed with personal arrogance and revenge, charges are made which can only be justified by making a mockery of the law, by prevarication and by abuse of power. The vicious circle which would begin with the political decision to overwhelm us with charges -- the most serious ones totally fabricated -- to force us to surrender, could not but rebound in a constantly more deplorable conduct on the part of the prosecution.
But we did not surrender, because a display of brute force does not imply possession of morals on the part of those who exercise it. We did not surrender, because the price of lying in order to satisfy the prosecution's expectations seemed to us to be far too degrading. We did not surrender, because by implicating Cuba -- the nation we were protecting -- in false accusations in order to swell a U.S. government file against the island would have been an unpardonable act of betrayal of the people we love. We did not surrender, because human values are still, for us, something precious on which the transformation of human beings into better people rests. We did not surrender because that implied renouncing our dignity, a source of self-esteem and love of self for any human being.
Instead of surrendering we opted to go to trial. A trial which, if it had been reported, would have called into question not only this case, but the federal system of justice in the United States. If the knowledge of what took place in that courtroom had not been concealed from the American people, whom we never caused, or attempted to cause, the most minimal harm, it would have been impossible to stage the Roman circus into which this parody of a trial was transformed.
Fifteen years have gone by in which the U.S. government and that country's justice system have turned a deaf ear to the demand of United Nations organizations, Amnesty International, various Nobel prizewinners, parliamentarians and full parliaments, legal and religious figures and institutions. Only the lifting of this other blockade, the one imposed on the people of the United States to ensure that they do not know about it, would make possible the hope that this injustice could be brought to an end.
Today, Cuba will awake covered in yellow ribbons. The Cuban people will be the protagonists of this message, which appeals to a symbol that has become a tradition for the people of the United States. It will be an enormous challenge to those who have so successfully undertaken to silence this case, to now refuse to inform the world of this possibly unheard of event: that an entire people has adorned its country to ask another to demand of its government the liberation of their unjustly incarcerated sons.
Meanwhile we, The Five, will continue to be deserving of this massive display of affection; we will continue being the worthy sons of the generous people in solidarity who are leading it, and of the support of those who, around the world, have joined our cause; we will continue denouncing this injustice which has already lasted 15 years, and we will never give in, not one inch, from the moral advantage which has allowed us to resist and grow while we support the entire weight of a revengeful hatred on the part of the most powerful government on the planet.
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René
Ramon Labañino, one of the Cuban Five, who were arrested on September 12, 1998 in Miami, Florida, recently expressed his gratitude for all of the solidarity these political prisoners have received on the 15th anniversary of their imprisonment in the U.S. "In recent days we have felt tremendous pride and joy over the expressions of love and support from our beloved island, and from every part of the planet," Labañino said.
"Without question, we Five are privileged for having so many sisters and brothers from almost every political current and creed, and from [the fields of] sports, art and science," he said.
Labañino has been named a Hero of the Republic of Cuba, along with his comrades Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez.
"We are together in this noble cause, which is much greater than ourselves. Cuba first, Cuba after and Cuba always!" Labañíno said in his message.
Labañíno was initially sentenced to life in prison plus 18 years, and subsequently, in 2009, his sentence was reduced to 30 years. However, the injustice persists, he declared at that time, together with Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, who were also resentenced.
Gerardo Hernández received the harshest sentence of the Five (a double life sentence plus 15 years), while René Gonzalez is now in Cuba after completing his full sentence and after a process that took away his U.S. citizenship.
Human rights groups, members of parliament and
personalities from diverse spheres, including 10 Nobel Prize laureates,
have asked for the release of the Cuban Five. More recently a UN panel
concluded that their detention is arbitrary and asked the U.S.
government to put an end to this injustice.
Posted below are videos and photos from some of the
actions held in Cuba, Canada and the U.S., with the symbolic yellow
ribbons figuring prominently throughout, representing the desire of the
peace- and justice-loving peoples the world over for the safe return of
these beloved Cuban heroes to their homeland.
A gala and concert was held in honour of the Cuban Five in Havana, September 12, 2013. In attendance were Cuban dignitaries including President Raúl Castro and other members of the Council of Ministers; René Gonzalez, the only member of the Cuban Five to be freed so far; as well as families of the Five. Many other events took place across the island.
Actions to break the silence about the Cuban Five were
across Canada and are continuing in the weeks to come (see below). The
Vancouver Free the Five Committee raised its work to another level by
holding seven events in four days in Vancouver, Kamloops, Nanaimo and
the first ever Cuban Five event on Bowen Island.
(Prensa Latina; Photos: TML, Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver; Free the Five Committee-Toronto; CubaDebate)
freedom and justice
for its principled and selfless character."
- Nelson Mandela, July 26, 1991
The two-day symposium, Africa's Unknown War: Apartheid Terror, Cuba and Southern African Liberation, commemorates the 25th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a landmark in the struggle for African independence and self-determination: the decisive defeat in Angola of the racist armed forces of the apartheid South African state by combined Cuban and Angolan troops. This led to the immediate independence of Namibia and accelerated the end of racist rule in South Africa. These events and Cuba's extensive and crucial role in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, however, remain virtually unknown in the West. Also forgotten is the apartheid regime's regional war of terror, which set the context of Cuba's intervention, which cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars of economic damage.
The symposium is being held at the William Doo Auditorium, 45 Willcocks Street, University of Toronto. The symposium features visiting scholars and activists from Cuba and elsewhere who participated in Cuba's anti-apartheid action. The event begins at 7pm, Friday, September 27 with the film screening of Brothers and Sisters Keeper: Cuba and Southern African Liberation, followed by a panel discussion and reception. On the following day, Saturday, September 28, the program continues from 8:30am - 5pm with a series of panels and keynote presentations on the following topics: Apartheid's War of Terror; Cuban and Southern African Liberation; The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and Legacies of the Liberation Struggle.
Cuban internationalist troops fight side by side with the Angolan people, 1980.
Featured speakers include:
* Maria Elena Alvarez: Distinguished professor of African History, Institute of International Relation, University of Havana.
* Piero Gleijeses: Author of the universally acclaimed & groundbreaking Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-76. He is currently writing Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington and Pretoria in Southern Africa, 1976-91. Gleijeses is Professor of American Foreign Policy, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.
* Prexy Nesbitt: Internationally recognized scholar, & veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, Nesbitt is currently working on his memoirs of the southern African liberation struggles, and the extraordinary people he worked with, from Amilcar Cabral to Eduardo Mondlane to Graca Machel to Nelson Mandela.
* Jorge Risquet: Cuba's chief diplomat in Africa from the 1970s to the 1990s, who played a crucial role in the negotiations that ended South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia.
* John Saul: Internationally acclaimed & honoured scholar on southern Africa & veteran anti-apartheid activist. Professor Emeritus at York University (Canada), Saul is currently working on the book The Thirty Year War for the Liberation of Southern Africa, 1960-1990.
* Isaac Saney: Cuba specialist who teaches at Dalhousie University & Saint Mary's University (Canada); author of the acclaimed, Cuba: A Revolution In Motion, he is currently finishing the book From Soweto to Cuito Cuanavale: Cuba, The War in Angola and the End of Apartheid.
* Various diplomats and representatives from Angola, Cuba, Namibia and South Africa.
Sponsors include: Canadian Network On Cuba; Caribbean
Studies Program, University of Toronto; New College, University of
Toronto; Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Africa Studies, University
of Toronto; James Robinson Johnston Chair of Black Canadian Studies,
Dalhousie University; United SteelWorkers; A Different Booklist; Taylor
Report/CIUT-FM; Group for Research and Initiative in the
Liberation of Africa; Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association
For more information contact Isaac Saney (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. 902-494-153); Melanie Newton (email@example.com; tel. 416-978-4054); Miguel san Vincente (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. 416-538-0889) or visit:
Click image to download poster (PDF).
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) was conceived by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and was created by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004 as an alternative to the U.S.-led Free Trade Area of the Americas that aims for social, political, and economic integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.
ALBA, which means "dawn" in Spanish, has as its main goals the alleviation of poverty and the promotion of socioeconomic reform through trade agreements that meet each country's needs, rather than through the neoliberal, or free-market, economic policies that dominated the region's economic planning and growth strategies in the 1990s.
Essentially, supporters of ALBA find its programs to be worthy alternatives to the economic policies of many international lending organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
With a total population of over 70,000,000 people the member nations are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. Suriname and Saint Lucia were admitted to ALBA as guest countries and Haiti is pending full membership.
The Quebec-Cuba Solidarity Roundtable is currently focusing on activities surrounding the campaign "A Month for Five," highlighting the 15th year of the unjust imprisonment of five Cuban Heroes. These efforts will help advance the struggle to break the wall of silence surrounding the Five and that justice and truth are achieved. The September 12 picket was a success, as was the September 17 screening of the film "Mission Against Terror.
The Roundtable also wishes to inform its members and friends that the 9th edition of the Montreal Friendship Day with Cuba will not take place this year. For those wishing to participate in preparations for the tenth anniversary of the Montreal Day, edition of 2014, contact the Roundtable via email: email@example.com. Planning and organizing is starting now to ensure that the 2014 edition will be brilliant. Join in!
The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples of the World (ICAP) calls on all of Cuba's friends to participate in the 9th International Colloquium for the Liberation of the Cuban Five and Against Terrorism.
This 9th Colloquium will take place from November 13 to 17 in the province of Holguín where participants will focus their efforts on the return to Cuba the four patriots who have been imprisoned in the U.S., for more than 15 years.
Lodging will be in the ISLAZUL hotel chain in the city of Holguín. The package available for the participants includes breakfast in the single and double rooms and transportation for the activities of the program.
For further information, contact the organizing by
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Read The Marxist-Leninist
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org