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March 28, 2014 - No. 34

Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

Harper Government Lays Groundwork
for Police State

Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Harper Government Lays Groundwork for Police State

"Digital Diplomacy"
Harper Government's New Weapon for Subversion - Tony Seed
New Canadian Ambassador to Venezuela

El Salvador's New President
Despite Reactionary Dirty Tricks, the People Prevail

Coming Events
March 31 Day of Action for Health Care
Tour of Cuban Musician Popularizes World Conference in Solidarity with Cuba

Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

Harper Government Lays Groundwork for Police State

On March 26, debate at second reading resumed on the Harper government's Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, referred to by its short title as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The bill was tabled on November 20, 2013 and reached second reading at the end of November. On March 26 when debate resumed, Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan, determined to curb opposition to the bill, tabled a motion to impose time allocation to expedite its passage. This restriced further debate on the bill at second reading to just one more day. This motion was passed.

Bill C-13 purports to protect Canadians from online crime. The bill makes it illegal to distribute intimate images online without consent but its main thrust is to grant new powers to the police and the state to intrude on the private lives of Canadians. It would also grant immunity to telecom providers who hand over their customers' private information to authorities without a warrant, points out OpenMedia.ca, which is leading a nationwide campaign against the proposed legislation.

Minister of Justice Peter MacKay justifies the new police powers saying the bill modernizes the Criminal Code. In a news release, the Department of Justice says Bill C-13, "would ensure that the same type of information that is currently available to law enforcement agencies for telephone calls would be available to police for newer technology such as computers, smart phones and the Internet."

OpenMedia.ca points out that more than 65 pages of Bill C-13 are taken from Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, the previous attempt to pass similar legislation. More than 150,000 Canadians spoke out against that Bill which was so flawed it had to be withdrawn before it reached second reading. Amongst other things, it tried to enact the requirement that telecommunications service providers have real-time data intercept capacity. It also sought mandatory disclosure of subscriber information to police without court oversight.

Calgary lawyer Derek James, who practices with the Canadian Constitution Foundation, in a March 26 Toronto Star item writes: "Bill C-30, tabled in February 2012, mentioned neither children nor predators and was likely so-named only to sway the public toward accepting the legislation. It attempted to do precious little of what its title purported, mostly dealing with giving the police new powers -- including making it mandatory for Internet service providers to disclose subscriber information to police without court oversight. Vic Toews, then minister of justice, famously rebuked critics saying, 'either stand with us or with the child pornographers.'"

James explains: "Buried within Bill C-13 is a clever mollifying of Bill C-30's mandatory disclosure provision. The legislation clarifies that the police may request the voluntary disclosure and preservation of data or documents, and that someone in possession of that information can choose to comply with the police request, provided that it is not otherwise illegal to do so.

"This alone seems innocuous. But the very next provision says that anyone who voluntarily provides such information to police upon request is absolved of all criminal and civil liability for the disclosure.

"This absolution is problematic because it undermines the incentive to await court oversight before disclosing information to the police. Without the fear of incurring liability, Internet service providers possessing information wanted by the police may be more likely to comply with baseless disclosure requests. Fishing expeditions and snooping may become more common. Further, it's not unreasonable to question whether a so-called voluntary disclosure can ever be completely without coercion, especially when you risk losing the goodwill of police.

"Even though protecting Canadians from the harms of cyberbullying may be a laudable goal, we must ask how these new police powers in Bill C-13 could be abused. The mandatory disclosure provision from Bill C-30 may be gone, but Bill C-13 contains a subtle means of accomplishing much the same. And we should not be too quick to give up our right to privacy, because once we do, it will be difficult to get back."

OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson points out: "Let's be clear: This online spying bill is a dangerous piece of legislation that would open the floodgates to government spying on innocent Canadians. We know the government has been spying on Canadians through their spy agency CSEC. Now it seems they're trying to cover their tracks by granting legal immunity to telecom providers who hand over private information to authorities."

Anderson continued: "What's even worse is the way the government is using bullied children as an excuse to try to smuggle through this deeply unpopular online spying legislation. If Peter MacKay had any sense of decency he would split this bill so that important measures to tackle cyberbullying can be passed separately. It seems Minister MacKay is too cowardly to advance his online spying bill on its merits instead of trying to smuggle it through with this reprehensible approach."

A recent video launched by OpenMedia.ca is "going viral and making the top 2 posts on Reddit Canada. Over 34,000 have now joined the Protect Our Privacy Coalition which is calling for effective legal measures to protect Canadians' privacy from government spies," OpenMedia.ca reports. It informs that the Official Opposition has joined it in calling for Bill C-13 to be split so that cyberbullying measures can be dealt with separately. Those who want to join this call can join the Protect Our Privacy Coalition at Protect Our Privacy.

Petition to Stop Online Spying
- Protect Our Privacy Coaltion -

The government has just announced a shameful plan to use bullied kids as a front to ram through an unpopular online spying plan. Although we successfully forced the government to withdraw Bill C-30 they've just reintroduced many of these online spying measures in their new Bill C-13. Speak out and send the government a clear message by joining the Protect Our Privacy Coalition at https://ourprivacy.ca

The government is about to push through an electronic surveillance law that will invade your privacy and cost you money. The plan is to force every phone and Internet provider to allow "authorities" to collect the private information of any Canadian, at any time, without a warrant.

This bizarre legislation will create Internet surveillance that is:

- Warrantless: A range of "authorities" will have the ability to access the private information of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without justification.

- Invasive: The laws leave our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime.

- Costly: Internet services providers may be forced to install millions of dollars worth of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to YOU.

If enough of us speak out now the government will have no choice but to stop this mandatory online spying scheme. Sign the petition now, and forward it to everyone you know.

To sign the petition, click here.

(With files from OpenMedia.ca, Toronto Star)

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"Digital Diplomacy"

Harper Government's New Weapon for Subversion

Amidst revelations about U.S.-led global espionage and cyber warfare and other wrongdoings coming to light during the past year, the Harper government is expanding its own participation in anti-social media and electronic subversion of other states trying an independent path of development and deemed hostile to the interests of the U.S. and NATO bloc.

On February 7, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited the headquarters of Google and Twitter in Silicon Valley, California, where he mapped out how "digital diplomacy" will be added to the weapons of subversion such as covert operations, "aid," and secret diplomacy that are already being used internationally by the Harper government against targeted countries.

Harper's digital diplomacy is the extension into the Foreign Service and international affairs of the direct involvement in government of privileged private interests such as Google, Twitter and Amazon. The latter monopoly, for instance, has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with "cloud" computing services. When taken into context of Harper's "new economic diplomacy" (see below), international affairs generally and members of the Foreign Service are to work directly to promote the global private interests of the most powerful monopolies within the United States of North American Monopolies -- as well as act against anti-imperialist social movements and governments.

According to a news release circulated by his department, Baird stated:

"The fast and free exchange of information is changing the nature of diplomacy and foreign affairs, just as it is changing industries. The closed world of démarches, summits and diplomatic dinners is no longer sufficient to project our values and interests.

"Diplomacy may never live up to the Silicon Valley mantra of 'move fast and break things,' for various reasons. But in the environment of instant communication and social media, we do have to move faster and not be afraid to try new things or to make mistakes.

"Using social media and insights from big-data analytics, we can engage in direct diplomacy, not just elite diplomacy. Social media mapping exercises at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada have helped us to reach out to civic actors who seek to bring about positive social and political change in the countries they live in."

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD) is already using social media as a virtual "listening post" to analyze political patterns in target societies and movements in other countries. Now it is to directly intervene in the internal affairs of other countries and engage "civic actors," a code word for those activating for regime change -- those actors that Canadian embassies and other agencies have located on the "social media map."

According to an article by Roland Paris of the Centre for International Studies at the federally-funded University of Ottawa hailing the initiative, the Harper government is already directly intervening in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a sovereign government, pushing its own political agenda in the name of high ideals.

Paris writes, "In addition, it partnered with the Munk School at the University of Toronto to create the Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran, which uses social media technology to circumvent Iranian government censorship, thus permitting Iranians, both inside and outside Iran, to freely communicate with each other. Although some questioned whether such an initiative belonged at a university -- and wondered if the Munk School had allowed itself to become a de facto instrument of the government's Iran-obsessed foreign policy -- the initiative nevertheless represented a creative use of digital tools to promote the maintenance of an open Internet."

Intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country is then called the defence of freedom, "open society" in the manner of the Soros globalist network, and "a creative use of digital tools."

To this end, Dr. Paris reports that "in the last six months, the foreign ministry has launched 60 new accounts on Twitter and another 50 on Facebook."

Changing gears, Baird then declared in his statement with a cynicism that is beyond belief:

"Tools for freedom can also become tools of repression.

"Closed and unstable governments fear the voice of their own citizens and are no longer content to leave the Internet alone. They respond by using the power of technology to try to block access to information, restrict free expression and target dissent.

"Canada and the United States must continue to work together to safeguard an Internet that remains innovative, free and open for the social and economic benefit of all users. And we will only succeed in this if government works hand-in-hand with the private sector and civil society." (My emphasis.)

Not only has it been revealed that the largest security consortiums themselves hack into the security systems of rival states, Baird then blames the target states' security services for blocking cyber warfare, all for purposes of having businesses and governments trust them to protect them against counter-spying.

A Tool of "Economic Diplomacy"

"Digital diplomacy" is an integrated tool of Harper's "new economic diplomacy," which dictates a change in how the resources of Canada's foreign affairs and diplomatic missions are deployed.

Following the 2011 electoral coup bringing a Conservative Party majority to power, Prime Minister Harper ordered newly appointed Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, to guide the changes towards what he calls a "New Economic Diplomacy."

In a detailed commentary, TML Weekly Information Project reported on January 11:

"In a speech delivered to the Economic Club of Canada November 27, 2013, Ed Fast said he assembled 'an advisory panel made up of leading business and industry leaders. These leaders included national associations such as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.'

"The panel prepared a plan of action called the Global Markets Action Plan, the equivalent of a foreign policy white paper. The Action Plan instructs the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 'to entrench the concept of 'economic diplomacy' as the driving force behind the Government of Canada's activities through its international diplomatic network. All diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada will be marshalled on behalf of the private sector.' The Action Plan directs Canadian diplomats and other officials to accept as their core mandate to "open doors, generate leads and resolve problems" for North American-based monopolies.

"According to the Globe and Mail in an article on the Global Markets Action Plan, 'Stephen Harper's Conservative government will make 'economic diplomacy' in the service of private industry the centrepiece of this country's foreign policy, marking a historic shift in Canada's approach to the world.'

"Emphasizing that the 'new economic diplomacy' politicizes the international private interests of the most powerful businesses headquartered within the United States of North American Monopolies, Mr. Fast said in his speech, ‘Our government's Economic Action Plan 2012 committed to building on the success of the Global Commerce Strategy by consulting extensively with Canada's business community to identify new markets, strengths and opportunities.... Couple this with a global marketplace in which the free flow of goods and services -- and the proliferation of global value chains -- predominates, and you will conclude that we truly are doing business within a completely new paradigm.... In short, the Plan will play to our strengths and ensure that all diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada are harnessed to support the pursuit of commercial success by Canadian companies and investors." (TML emphasis.)

"Digital diplomacy" is subordinated precisely to "Canadian companies and investors" -- both their immediate needs and their strategic agenda.

The privileged private interests who benefit from Harper's actions are monopolies that tolerate no opposition in their pursuit to maximize their rate of profit around the world.

Cyber Warfare

"Digital diplomacy" is a euphemism for cyber warfare through the use of anti-social media as well as hacking and other means.

The anti-social media such as the Twitter service being embraced by the Harper government is integrated with the U.S. state military and espionage agencies. The service plays an increasing role in U.S.-led regime change and fomenting of violent tribal, religious, ethnic and other clashes. The U.S. imperialists have successfully used Twitter and its associated video service Vine to spread gossip, rumours and disinformation in small, unchallengeable and unverifiable chunks of words and video.

Its covert intervention in Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Egypt and Venezuela provide textbook examples of this modus operandi, which have become a matter of public record. Recent examples of fake images in Syria and Venezuela have been exposed. In the latter case, police oppression in places like Brazil, Spain and Chile were passed off as images of Venezuela and circulated through Twitter. By the time these cruel hoaxes were exposed, the images had been circulated around the world. This has aided the U.S. espionage agents and military to generate chaos and upheaval in the targeted countries. This activity is also aimed at generating support for big power intervention in sovereign countries such as Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine under the imperialist hoax of "responsibility to protect." (See also TML Daily, November 13, 2013 - No. 131.)

Examples of disinformation being sown on social media by reactionary opposition forces in Venezuela. Photos from around the world are misused and said to show government repression. Image on left is actually from Bulgaria; image on right is from Egypt (click to enlarge).

Canada, too, knows how to wage internet campaigns and will not be left behind, writes Gerard Di Trolio for Venezuelanalysis.com, on the appointment of Canada's new Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, at the end of February, in the wake of Baird's announcement of the "digital diplomacy" policy. Rowswell is the Harper government's first overseas "digital warrior" and corporate playstation.


A Global Offensive

Twitter also spreads celebrity worship of leading figures of U.S. imperialist culture.

Twitter and other U.S.-controlled media weaken targeted states and pave the way for subversion and direct U.S. military involvement throughout the world -- especially at this time in South America, West Asia and throughout Africa -- and to wreck public opinion opposing imperialist war and violation of the sovereignty of nations.

The drive for U.S. world hegemony in which the annexed Canadian monopolies and state participate is aimed at seizing control of markets, sources of raw material, workers and strategic regions.

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New Canadian Ambassador in Venezuela

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appointed a new Canadian ambassador to Venezuela at the end of February. Ben Rowswell replaced Paul Gibbard.

Writing for Venezuelanalysis.com, Gerard Di Trolio describes the new ambassador's background and experience. In 2010 the Toronto Star described Rowswell as a "rising foreign service star." He has served as Canada's official diplomatic representative in Kandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan as well as Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein, thus making him "an expert at representing Canada's interests in the heat of conflict."

Di Trolio writes: "At the age of 22 he was baptized into the foreign service by fire, working in Mogadishu during the Somali Civil War of the early 1990s. He went on to work for the Canadian Embassy in Cairo from 1995-98.

"A diplomat for the digital age, he held the title of 'Director of Innovation' at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

"While overseeing the 'democratic transitions' of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt, the fledgling attaché specialized in the harnessing of social media for diplomatic missions, in order to interact directly with non-state actors, in effect bypassing the target nation's government. In 2011, Rowswell gave a fascinating TEDx talk at Hayward University in California that outlined his views about the power of social media to shape democracy. He focused on post-Murbarak Egypt, before Mohammed Morsi's election. He detailed how notions of race, ethnicity and class may be pushed aside when organizing through social media platforms. He theorized that the internet allows for 'opensource democracy,' allowing individuals to exchange their ideas as equals."

Di Trolio points out that in Venezuela, Twitter and Facebook have been the choice tools of the opposition in recent months, both to organize protests and to call for international support for the attempts to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro. "The Canadian government has made it clear that its interests lie outside the decades of organization led by the Venezuelan masses.

"A motion that received unanimous consent from all parties in the House of Commons and sponsored by NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar effectively condemned the Venezuelan government's attempts at dealing with recent protests.

"The statement was approved by Conservatives and Liberals alike, including MP Jim Karygiannis who has been extremely critical of the Venezuelan government.

"Rowswell also argued that social media can create transparency yet Venezuela's opposition has provided ample evidence to the contrary. Many photos from Turkey, Ukraine, Brazil, and even Syria have flown around social networks, meant to stir up indignation at the treatment of protestors in Venezuela. During the telecast of the Oscars, the opposition took to Twitter to claim the ceremony had been censored. The truth was that the Oscars was aired on TNT in Venezuela, a satellite channel. Canada, too, knows how to wage internet campaigns and will not be left behind. Within hours of Rowswell's appointment, a new Embassy account popped up on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/CanEmbVenezuela) Adam Goldenberg, liberal partisan and former speechwriter for Michael Ignatieff, tweeted in response: 'Congratulations, Ben! Excellent choice, Minister, for all sorts of reasons.' As always, Canada's imperial foreign policy is a bipartisan affair."

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El Salvador's New President

Despite Reactionary Dirty Tricks, the People Prevail

The candidates of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, Salvador Sánchez Céren (left) and Oscar Ortíz receive their credentials as President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of El Salvador, respectively, from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, March 25, 2014 in San Salvador.

In a ceremony in San Salvador on March 25, Salvador Sánchez Céren and Oscar Ortíz of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) were presented with their credentials as President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of El Salvador, respectively, by the President of El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), which sent a member to join the International Observer Mission for the first round of the election, congratulates the new President and Vice-President and especially the people of El Salvador and their organization the FMLN, on their tremendous achievement. Thanks to their hard work, persistent mobilization and ability to remain calm in the face of repeated provocations, the people thwarted an electoral coup on the part of the country's right-wing party ARENA, a notorious human rights abuser and agency of U.S. imperialism.

Prior to this, on March 17, the TSE confirmed the results of the second round of the country's presidential election held on March 9. The FMLN slate of Salvador Sánchez Céren and Oscar Ortíz were declared the winners with 1,495,815 or 50.11 per cent of the vote. The ARENA party received 1,489,451 votes or 49.89 per cent. Almost 3 million votes were cast, some 300,000 more than in the first round held on February 2, marking the highest voter participation for this type of election in the country's history. The second round of the election was necessary because no party received the required 50 per cent plus one vote in the first round.

Congratulations have been sent to President-Elect Sánchez Céren by many governments including Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay, as well as the Russian Federation and the U.S.

The new President and Vice President will take office on June 1 for a five-year term. Sánchez Céren and other spokespersons for the FMLN emphasize that they intend to continue and deepen the changes begun in the first FMLN government of outgoing President Mauricio Funes. The President-Elect said he intends to govern for all Salvadorans -- those that voted for the FMLN and those who did not -- in an inclusive government that will pursue the common interests of businesses, workers and other sectors. He called on ARENA and other forces in the country to enter into dialogue with his office to work together for the good of the nation and enter into a national pact.

Speaking about what he hoped to accomplish during his term Sánchez Céren made a point of saying that the FMLN did not see economic development as separate from social development and that his government was going to continue investing in social programs. He said it would be important for the Legislative Assembly to approve legislation guaranteeing financing for these programs. He said the most important role of his government would be to provide for the people's needs and to that end, one of his first actions would be to seek meetings with all the country's productive forces. Generating employment and increasing productivity in the country as well as guaranteeing greater security to the population were among his main goals, he said.

Sánchez Céren said that the country's development would be based on a "Salvadoran model," making reference to plans for the achievement of food sovereignty and to have El Salvador become a logistics corridor and tourist destination. As for planned economic measures during his term, the President-Elect explained that he hoped to establish a national dialogue with different sectors to discuss important issues such as the foreign debt, pensions and related matters.

Sánchez Céren said his cabinet would be made up of members of the FMLN, officials of the current government, representatives of civil society and members from different sectors who had supported his candidacy.

Attempts by the Financial Oligarchy to
Overturn Election and Destabilize Country

FMLN supporters celebrate victory, March 9, 2014.

In spite of social organizations and other international observers all attesting to the efficiency, transparency and professionalism with which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal carried out is duties, ARENA and its backers in the oligarchy refused to recognize the results of the March 9 runoff election until March 26 when the Supreme Court ruled ARENA's petition for a vote-by-vote recount inadmissible. With legal channels exhausted to make a case against the results of the election, ARENA issued a press release saying it would recognize the results. However, this was also used as an occasion to continue its disinformation campaign against the FMLN. In its statement, ARENA said that while it would accept the high court's resolution it did so "in spite of the inequalities and unfair conditions experienced during the electoral campaign." Continuing its attempts to malign the FMLN, ARENA went on to say it would keep a close watch on the new government "to ensure it respected the law and would point out its failures and errors, especially should they dare to violate democratic institutions or put the country's sovereignty at risk."

This second round of the presidential election saw a relentless propaganda war based on disinformation and fear-mongering waged against the FMLN bankrolled by big financial interests associated with ARENA and by extension, the U.S. Hundreds of millions of dollars were reportedly poured into bombarding the nation with warnings on TV, radio and over social media about the dire consequences of electing "a guerrilla commander" as president who would destroy the country's economy and turn it into "another Venezuela." At the same time there were reports of vote-buying around polling stations, people being told their jobs were at stake unless they voted for ARENA, and other dirty tricks to try to obtain the outcome these forces wanted.

When the FMLN emerged victorious in spite of this fearmongering and other unscrupulous activity, ARENA moved immediately to try and overturn the election alleging "fraud." Setting the stage for what was to come, with barely 50 per cent of the votes counted on election night, ARENA's candidate Norman Quijano and others in the party's leadership declared they had won the election. As the counting proceeded, with the FMLN gaining and holding a small though steady lead, ARENA leaders issued provocative calls to party members to be "on a war footing" and to the armed forces to ready themselves to go into action "to defend democracy." The military command however declared that it took direction from the president and had no intention of responding to the ARENA leadership's call for what many regarded as a military coup.

ARENA's next steps involved the party refusing to recognize the results and submitting petitions to the TSE and the Supreme Court for the election to be nullified and/or for a vote-by-vote recount, both of which were found to be baseless after careful deliberation carried out in the presence of observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union.

The aim of reactionary forces allied with big financial and business interests appears to be to destabilize the situation, taking a cue from the way right wing opposition forces have been operating in Venezuela against the Bolivarian government of President Nicolás Maduro. In fact ARENA used a "marketing consultant" from Venezuela who specializes in organizing destabilization campaigns around and after elections in countries where the international financial oligarchy wants to impose its will on the people. Leaders of ARENA make no secret of their alliance with those who attempted unsuccessfully to remove then President Hugo Chávez from office in a coup in 2002 and are trying to do the same now to President Nicolás Maduro.

(With files from Semanario Siglo XXI, Diario Colatino, CISPES 2014 El Salvador elections blog; Photos: FMLN, CISPES)

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Coming Events

March 31 Day of Action for Health Care

The Canadian Health Coalition has called a National Day of Action on March 31 for a new Canada Health Accord. Organizers write, "March 31st marks the expiry of the 2004 Health Accord and the federal Conservative government has refused to negotiate a new one. We are sounding the alarm to alert Canadians that the expiry of the Health Accord means the end of federal leadership in health care and cuts of $36 billion to health transfers over 10 years."

TML calls on everyone to join the actions and go all out to fight for the right to modern public health care.

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Coming Events

Tour of Cuban Musician Gerardo Alfonso Popularizes World Conference in Solidarity with Cuba

The Canadian Network on Cuba has organized a tour of outstanding Cuban composer and guitar player Gerardo Alfonso Morejón to promote the Third Meeting of World Solidarity with Cuba in Havana, October 27-29, 2014. Gerardo's beautiful poetic songs will be heard from Halifax to Victoria, with stops in 11 cities from March 22 to April 13.

Sandra Ramírez, North American Specialist from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) will accompany Gerardo and speak about the Solidarity Meeting. The work of ICAP is focused on promoting people-to-people exchanges and friendship between Cubans and peoples around the world. It strives to act as a force for peace, mutual exchange and true internationalism in the world.

The conference, organized by the Cuba Solidarity Movement represents international support for the validity of the Cuban model of social justice and its viability as an alternative for "another world," for which the peoples are fighting.

Guided by the anti-imperialist, visionary and humanist thinking of José Martí and Fidel Castro, this conference demonstrates Cuba's internationalist vocation and solidarity with all the just causes which benefit the peoples and their enjoyment of their fundamental right to freedom, peace and social justice.

About Gerardo Alfonso Morejón

Gerardo Alfonso is part of the nueva trova (new song) movement that started in Cuba in the 1960s and combines traditional folk music with political lyrics. His songs touch upon themes of humanity, society, love and life. He has shared the stage with world famous musicians Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Vicente Feliú and many others.

His lyrics have assured him a place in the hearts of all Cubans, just as his fusion work has won him high marks among musical critics. His songs incorporate elements of Latin American music -- basically Brazilian and Caribbean -- but he has also understood how to take advantage of his urban and popular roots in a range of mixtures that span from rock and reggae to rap and guaguanco, though never abandoning his trova essence.

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