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December 6, 2013 - No. 143

In Memoriam

Former President of South Africa
Nelson Mandela Passes Away

July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

In Memoriam
Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela Passes Away

33rd Anniversary of Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front
Montreal Event Celebrates Work to Build a Bright Future in El Salvador
- Fernand Deschamps

Another Crass U.S. Electoral Coup - Claude Brunelle

Holguín, Cuba, November 17, 2013
Declaration of Ninth International Colloquium for the Cuban Five

In Memoriam

Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela Passes Away

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) sends its deepest condolences to the family of Nelson Mandela, to the people of South Africa and to the African National Congress at the sad news of the death of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela passed away on December 5 at his home in Johannesburg at the age of 95. South African President Jacob Zuma announced that Mandela, "the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed," adding that he "passed on peacefully."

Mandela played a legendary role in the anti-colonial struggle of his people and in ending the cruel apartheid regime. He became the first black president of South Africa. He remained true to his principles and, to the end of his days, he continued to stand with all those who helped South Africa win freedom.

"Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father," Zuma said. "Our thoughts are with the millions of people who embraced Mandela as their own and who saw his cause as their cause.... This is the moment of our deepest sorrow."

Mandela will be accorded a state funeral, Zuma said, and national flags will be lowered to half-mast.

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33rd Anniversary of Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front

Montreal Event Celebrates Work to Build a
Bright Future in El Salvador

Over 150 people, mostly Salvadorans living in Quebec, their sympathizers and members of the diplomatic corps gathered Saturday evening, November 30, to celebrate over dinner and dance, the anniversary of the founding in El Salvador of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in 1980. This year's gathering is particularly important because it comes on the eve of the presidential election in El Salvador to be held in February 2014. This is why the theme of the evening was "Salvador, Cambios de Verdad, Adelante" ("El Salvador, forward with real change"), referring to the significant changes the people of El Salvador have witnessed since the election of Mauricio Funes, the FMLN-backed presidential candidate as well as further changes to come.

The spokesperson for the FMLN in Montreal spoke of the changes brought forward by the Salvadoran government over the last four years to better the lives of the youth, women and workers of this Central America republic.

She reminded the audience about the Salvadoran government's achievements since 2009 in the field of education, such as free universal education along with a nationwide nutrition program that guarantees every child access to a daily ration of milk at school, along with a more complete program of meals for those who come from impoverished families. School supplies, shoes and uniforms are also paid for by the central government. In the words of the FMLN spokesperson, this represents not only an investment by the state of close to $148 million but it also generates 47,000 direct jobs by having small producers supplying the schools with food and clothing produced locally. It is more than a reform, she said, it is a change in the structure of society because education is the basis for liberation, culture, and engaging the youth and keeping them off the streets, and to reduce violence in public spaces. As part of the nationwide program to raise the peoples' level of education, the government is training teachers to work with children living in inner city areas while pushing for a national program of literacy. With the help of this program, 216,186 persons in El Salvador have learned to read and write over the last four years.

The spokesperson explained that El Salvador has benefited from its relations with countries that are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). It has been able to take part in educational programs and supply 10,837 scholarships for students who want to study in technical fields through programs established by ALBA Petroleos, a joint venture between a number of Salvadoran municipalities and the government of Venezuela which makes it possible for Salvadorans to purchase oil from Venezuela at a fair price. It also receives medical help from Cuba, despite the severe U.S. blockade affecting that sister nation. She took the opportunity to publicly thank the Consuls of Cuba and Venezuela who were present at the event for the support these two countries give to the Salvadoran people. The audience responded with warm applause and shouts of "Viva Chavez!"; "Viva Fidel!"; "Viva Cuba!"; "Viva Venezuela!"; etc.

At the same time, as the spokesperson indicated, "to have power and to be in government" are two different things. This is why, she said, the Salvadoran government has as an objective to create the conditions for the people's empowerment. Amongst the different steps taken by the government is the passing of a bill in the national legislature that guarantees basic human rights for women, including daycare services for working women who are their families' sole breadwinners. Agrarian reform is another important field of change whereby 35,000 land titles have been given to people in the last four years, more than ever before in the whole history of El Salvador. For the first time, the country is self-sufficient in food production while the price of staple food such as red kidney beans has dropped by half in the last four years. Projects such as a maternity hospital and a major freeway, started with foreign money under the previous government but never finished because of rampant corruption, have finally been completed.

As the FMLN spokesperson indicated, a government which has the interest of the majority at stake will protect the majority. This is why a nationwide civil defence program has been set up by the state in the last four years to protect the people from natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tropical storms, all of which are known entities in El Salvador.

In her concluding remarks, the FMLN spokesperson went over the 10 point program for the upcoming election on what a FMLN government would accomplish if reelected for another presidential term in office. The main features of that program are defending the rule of law by fighting against organized crime; ending fiscal evasion of the monopolies; the creation of a single national workers union; deepening the social changes to bring about a higher quality of education and health for all; paying attention to the protection of women and creating opportunities for the youth; maintaining and increasing trade and political relations with other nations, especially in countries where the Salvadoran diaspora is present; reorganizing public transportation system in order to ease exchanges between cities in the country; and promoting harmony with the natural environment.

She ended her presentation by calling on the Salvadorans living in Quebec to play an active part in ensuring the reelection of the FMLN presidential candidate and government in the upcoming election in February 2014. Another spokesperson for the FMLN, talked about the importance of the upcoming presidential election and about the social and political forces that are at play. The formal part of the evening ended with the singing by all those present of the national anthem of El Salvador and the official anthem of the FMLN.

Afterwards, all participants in the evening's event were given a kit contained in a nicely designed bag with the red and white colours of the FMLN to promote its presidential candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén (the current Vice-President) in the upcoming presidential election. As the music and dance started, lively discussions carried on amongst the people at the tables during the rest of the evening as everyone felt inspired by the speeches given beforehand.

Mass rally by members and supporters marks 33rd anniversary of FMLN, San Salvador, October 9, 2013.

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Another Crass U.S. Electoral Coup

On Sunday, November 24 a general election was held in Honduras, in which some 5.3 million registered voters were called on to elect the country's president, three vice-presidents, 298 mayors and 128 deputies, as well as 20 deputies to the Central American Parliament. Sixty-one per cent of voters exercised their right to vote, despite the repression experienced by democratic and progressive forces throughout the country since the 2009 coup against President Manuel Zelaya.

Following allegations of massive and systematic irregularities as well as corruption, the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) David Matamoros announced on December 2 that a review of result tally sheets from voting stations around the country (but not an actual recount of the ballots) would be conducted.

Some 20,000 national observers and 700 international observers, representing, among others, the European Union (EU), the Carter Center, the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations and the Permanent Conference of Latin American Progressive Parties (COPAL) were deployed throughout the country to witness the conduct of these elections.

Meanwhile, some 28,000 police and soldiers were deployed across the country at the 5,500 polling stations and all radio, television, print and other communication centres. The reason given by the President of the TSE, for the massive police and military presence was to ensure safety, calm and to permit people to vote in peace. This presence was also said to ensure compliance with the publication ban established by the TSE, the parties presenting candidates and the media. According to this pact, no information would be disclosed about the results of the vote before the majority of votes had been counted and announced by the TSE, which according to its own declarations, would only happen Monday, November 25.

Xiomara Castro, LIBRE Party candidate participates in demonstration against the electoral fraud.

The TSE itself was the first to violate the publication ban, announcing at 6:40 pm on election day, and with less than 50 per cent of the ballots counted, that the trend favoured the pro-imperialist National Party candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez. The exercise was repeated at 10:40 the same evening with the TSE president's announcement, after 54.47 per cent of the ballots had been counted, that the trend was in favour of Hernandez who had 34.27 per cent of the votes as opposed to 28.67 per cent for the Liberation and Refoundation (LIBRE) Party candidate, Xiomara Castro, representing the country's progressive and democratic forces.

In the minutes that followed, the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske recognized the results announced by the TSE, saying she respected them and that they coincided with reports received from observers in the country. It should be noted that when the U.S. Ambassador issued her comments, various parties listed on the ballot were already denouncing several irregularities and questioning the results announced by the TSE. It should be noted as well that the TSE President is a member of Hernandez's National Party. Then in the hours that followed, and with only 67 per cent of the vote counted, outgoing president Porfirio Lobo, himself brought to power as a result of the 2009 coup, called on the people to remain calm and to recognize Hernandez as winner of the presidency.

Fraud Widespread

After the polls closed, worrisome facts were reported by the parties listed on the ballot and also by observers. It was pointed out to Telesur on November 25 by one of the COPAL observers, Salvadoran deputy Nidia Diaz, that "20 per cent of the tally sheets are not being transmitted, another 20 per cent were not scanned and the TSE doesn't have them, and others have not been audited." She also referred to political campaigning taking place outside polling centres and other irregularities such as voters being given cards to sign after exiting the voting station that were then handed over to representatives of the Liberal Party, author of the 2009 coup.

On the morning of November 25, the LIBRE Party candidate, Xiomara Castro, and its national coordinator, Manuel Zelaya, announced that they would not accept the results issued by the TSE, as they did not correspond to results their party had obtained. Furthermore, they pointed out that several irregularities had been identified, such as the disappearance more than 20 per cent of ballot boxes from polling stations where the LIBRE Party candidate had strong support and that the process for collecting and counting votes was not transparent; that throughout the day of the vote the atmosphere indicated that the people wanted a change and that the LIBRE Party data showed its candidate had won. Castro and Zelaya also announced that LIBRE would defend each vote in each municipality and challenged the TSE to compare its results with LIBRE's, ballot by ballot, poll by poll, village by village, until light was shed on the actual results and they were given to the people. Zelaya, the former president, said he would not abandon those who fought for four years for this change, many of whom were murdered. If necessary they would take to the streets. He also said he would not negotiate with the TSE, which had betrayed the people of Honduras. The same day the Anti-Corruption Party also announced that it rejected the results issued by the TSE and that it would file an appeal to have the election annulled due to irregularities.

A delegation of observers from International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) noted several irregularities that deprived thousands of Hondurans their right to vote. One of these was that many citizens were unable to vote because they had been declared dead and those who visited the TSE offices to prove otherwise were still denied their right to vote. The IFHR also noted that many citizens were registered at polling stations a great distance from their place of residence, thus preventing them from voting. The IFHR's report also denounced the fact that the National Party spokesman gave many citizens gift cards for stores, telephone services, medical services, pharmacies or restaurants, citing videos and photos clearly showing such activities taking place close to polling stations. Finally, the group of eleven IFHR observers noted that there is a lack of transparency in the financing of the major parties' election campaigns and expressed concern about the militarization of the country during the election.

Canadian electoral observers led by Common Frontiers released a statement the day after the election in which they said: "After careful consideration of our own observations of the electoral process in Honduras we find the presidential elections to be inconsistent with democratic principles and rife with fraudulent practices." Their statement concluded with their recommendations: "We urge the Canadian government not to recognize the results of the Honduran elections. There must be an opportunity to do a full, transparent, accurate count, and fully investigate the many reports of irregularities, intimidation and threats by authorities."

Despite all the evidence of many irregularities having been committed, on the afternoon of November 25 the TSE President announced, with 67 per cent of the vote counted, that the National Party candidate remained ahead with 34 per cent of the vote versus 28 per cent for the LIBRE Party candidate and that this trend was irreversible, though he said he was not yet declaring a winner.

Then on Tuesday, November 26, and while results issued by the TSE still only accounted for 67 per cent of the votes cast, the representatives of the OAS and the EU observer missions came to lend a hand to the process of ongoing fraud by declaring the TSE's results reliable and by inviting political leaders and the public to respect the TSE as the sole authority for the electoral process. It should be noted that the representatives of the OAS, an organization in the service of U.S. imperialist interests, are those who, three days before the general election, approved the proper functioning of the Integrated Voting and Electoral Disclosure System (SIEDE) established for these elections.

On Wednesday, November 27, the TSE President finally announced that with 81.54 per cent of votes counted, 35.88 per cent of the vote was in favour of the pro-imperialist National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández , and 29.14 per cent for the LIBRE Party candidate, he was declaring Hernández the winner of the presidency and that an official statement would be issued in this regard as soon as all ballots had been counted. Three days later, on November 30, the TSE officially declared Hernandez president-elect.

The latest results announced by the TSE give the National Party 48 deputies, the LIBRE Party 39 deputies, the Liberal Party 25 deputies, the Anti-Corruption Party 13 deputies, while the Christian Democratic Party, the Innovation and Unity Party and the Democratic Unification Party have one each. For the municipal councils the results show: the National Party, 176 representatives; the Liberal Party, 78; the LIBRE Party, 36; and the Christian Democratic Party and the Anti-Corruption Party, one each.

Since the day after the election, several progressive international voices have opposed the process and called for vigilance and respect for the will of the Honduran people. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the interference of U.S. imperialism, that through its Ambassador even spoke in favour of the results with barely 50 per cent of the votes counted. The Foro de Sao Paolo, the Workers' Party of Brazil and the Guasu Front of Paraguay also issued statements calling for respect for the will expressed by the people of Honduras.

Not at all intimidated by the situation, Xiomara Castro, who the LIBRE Party is calling president-elect, declared, while exiting a hotel conference room where supporters of her party were meeting on the issue, that despite the intimidation directed towards them by the presence of masked military personnel all around the hotel, they would defend the people's will. She added that on November 29 all data on the votes actually cast and irregularities would be made public so that everyone could see the ongoing fraud.

Thousands Demonstrate Against Electoral Fraud

Hondurans take mass action to oppose electoral fraud, November 25, 2013. (Telesur)

On Monday, November 25 several thousand students and healthcare workers marched peacefully through the streets of the capital to demand full transparency regarding the votes cast and that the will of the people be respected. They were answered with police violence, tear gas and the arrests of several students.

Then on Sunday, December 1, thousands responded to the call from LIBRE Party and took to the streets once again to oppose the electoral fraud. This time they also paid homage to Antonio Ardón, a party activist who worked with the presidential candidate and was assassinated a few blocks from his home the night before by four unknown gunmen. His casket was carried at the front of the demonstration as it made its way to the headquarters of the TSE.

Protesters demanded respect for the Honduran people's vote and that the TSE conduct a recount of all votes cast on November 24. Speaking to the crowd, one of the leaders of the National Front of Popular Resistance and the LIBRE Party, Juan Barahona, said, "[The TSE] is imposing the candidate of the establishment and the people are demonstrating today to reject this; we are going to the TSE to make our presence known so that it knows that the people do not accept the imposition of this fraud." Referring to Juan Orlando Hernández being named the winner of the presidential race, LIBRE Party candidate Xiomara Castro said, "We will not accept any government resulting from this fraud. We will demonstrate that the LIBRE Party's triumph is the will of the Honduran people. The TSE has committed an offence by accepting the sad role of falsifier for the establishment."

The TSE President's announcement on December 2 that the results would be reviewed did not mention whether the LIBRE Party's request that the review take place in the presence of its technicians would be honoured. What the TSE president did made a point of saying however, was that he hoped Castro would publicly admit defeat if the results were upheld.

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Holguín, Cuba, November 17, 2013

Declaration of Ninth International Colloquium
for the Cuban Five

For nine consecutive years we have gathered here in the city of Holguín that since the beginning has served as the headquarters where solidarity friends from all over the world find a common space to discuss actions in this battle for the lives and the freedom of the five Cuban patriots.

This IX Colloquium is taking place in a different context from previous ones. We have had the great joy of having with us the presence of René Gonzalez, who served every single day of his wrongful conviction and then having to serve an absurd additional year and a half under supervised freedom in Florida.

His presence marks a decisive milestone in the battle for the freedom of the Five and encourages us to continue this fight even more than ever to put an end to this injustice.

September 12th marked 15 years of wrongful imprisonment, 15 years of violations, and 15 years of political revenge that extended through the prisons holding Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando and to the Cuban people for their audacity to be sovereign and free. This anniversary also marked 15 years of resilience of the Five and their families, to whom the 272 delegates here in attendance, representing 51 countries and every continent, have come to honor.

Entering the 16th year of their arrests places on us a greater challenge to ensure that the return to their homeland happens before they have to complete their sentences.

Even though Fernando has a release date of February 27, 2014 there is a chance he may have to go to an immigration prison for an undetermined amount of time before he can be deported to Cuba. Antonio's release date is scheduled for 2017 but because he is an American citizen he could be forced to remain in the U.S. for up to 5 additional years of supervised probation. Ramón's release date is not until 2024 and Gerardo, the most punished of all, has no date to return since he was sentenced to two life sentences. The intentions of the U.S. government are that Gerardo dies in prison.

The extraordinary Habeas Corpus appeal filed by the defense remains unanswered. The outrageous payments by the U.S. Government to journalists, to create an atmosphere of guilt before and during the trial, remain unanswered. For 17 years now the U.S. has also kept hidden satellite images that could demonstrate that the shooting down of the aircraft in 1996 occurred in Cuban waters. Meanwhile, with total impunity, the international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles lives freely in Miami despite a 2005 extradition request from Venezuela for crimes against humanity.

After so much injustice in this case how can we rely on a judicial system that punishes the innocent and provides immunity to terrorists? Sadly the case of the Cuban five shows how small right wing groups can influence not just the judicial system but U.S. foreign policy in general.

Once again after this lengthy passage of time we collectively ask what will be the long term consequences on the physical and mental health of the Five and their families? As former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said: "You cannot ignore the evil that has been done with this arbitrary decision. Evil detained these people and today the harm to their families and bad relations between the United States and Cuba continues. Some day the United States will have to account for this misjudgment."

Let's take the words of Ramsey Clark so the damage already done does not continue any longer. Let us multiply the actions of solidarity that have taken place for the Cuban Five. We need to forge our movement in a unity of actions to take advantage of our collective capacity to be effective around the world in the struggle for their freedom.

The 272 delegates of 51 countries participants of the IX International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Five and Against Terrorism have agreed:

1. To intensify the support from all our countries the actions in the United States, with financial support from organizations and individuals who are in solidarity with the Five, to focus on the demand that President Barack Obama exercises the power given him by his country's constitution to release the Five and return them to Cuba without any conditions.

2. To support and disseminate information about the organizing in Europe of the International Commission of Inquiry supporting the case of the Five being held in London on March 7 - 8, 2014 and help promote the presence of important personalities.

3. To support the Third "5 days for the Cuban 5" in Washington DC June 4-11, 2014, and holding actions and demonstrations in front of U.S. embassies in all countries with actions and demonstrations in front of U.S. embassies in all countries on coinciding dates.

4. To encourage mass participation to attend the third world meeting of solidarity with Cuba and the X Colloquium to be held in Havana October 27 - 31, 2014. The meeting will be convened by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the Cuban social organizations, and the Cuban Chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity. There we will continue demanding the immediate release of our Five brothers and the lifting of the genocidal, economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the Government of the United States.

5. To intensify the work with parliamentarians from around the world to make a strong statement to the U.S. Congress and President Obama. In particular elected representatives from Europe, Latin America and Africa, as well as encourage these parliamentarians to attempt to visit the Five.

6. To continue the campaign of actions on the 5th day of each month by sending letters, making phone calls and sending messages to the web site of the White House, as well as organizing rallies in front of embassies and consulates of the United States, and other actions of visibility. It is important to add personalities from each country that will write to Obama on the 5th of each month and make it public.

7. To request that religious leaders of different congregations, creeds and cultures of the world interact with their counterparts in the U.S. and Canada in favor of the Five, and to urge President Barack Obama to find an humanitarian solution to this case.

8. To work with union leaders and members from all continents so that they interact with their counterparts in the United States to arrange actions in the struggle for the release of the Five.

9. To continue and increase the use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs and alternative media to insist on the reporting and dissemination of information about the case.

10. To expose the criminal conduct of the U.S. Government in this case that has undermined the impartiality of the legal process in Miami by making secret payments to journalists before and during the trial of the Five, as well as to use this information so that lawyers and journalists in the United States and around the world will concur with the demand that the U.S. Government immediately release the Five.

11. To summon the youth of the world to organize concerts and educational forums about the Five in schools and universities, marathons and other actions in support of this cause. Extend support to the Continental Organization of Latin America and the Caribbean (OCLAE) and the World Federation of Democratic Youth, as well as the macro regional networks that are taking initiatives in youth conferences, especially in the 18th World Festival of youth and students to be held in December of this year in Quito, Ecuador. This festival has a particular emphasis on the participation of youth and students from North America.

12. To increase the support of intellectuals, artists and sports delegations participating in national and international events with informative presentations, especially audiovisual materials on the Five, whose messages are shared and multiplied through social networks and other channels of information.

13. To demand that the U.S. Government extradite the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, whose government wants him for human right violations under the laws of that country.

Dear friends:

Fifteen years of wrongful imprisonment to five innocent men compromises their right to life as well as the sovereignty and the dignity of the people they were defending. It is not only Cuba that is being punished with the continued incarceration of the Cuban Five it is each one of us.

For Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René they will always be the Cuban Five until they are all free. We must work tirelessly until this is realized.

Unconditional Freedom Now!

November 17, 2013

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