March 7, 2015 - No. 10

All Out to Celebrate March 8 -- International Women's Day!

The Fight to Affirm the Rights of Women
Is Decisive to Open Society's
Path to Progress

International Women's Day 2015

Government Theme for Women's Day in
Contempt of Women's Rights

- Peggy Morton -
Activities Across Quebec to Celebrate
International Women's Day 2015

- Christine Dandenault -

World March of Women Issues Call to
Resist Social and Environmental Destruction


National Day of Action to Oppose Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015
Calendar of Events
Harper Government's Use of Fearmongering to Establish Control
State-Sanctioned Black Ops and Cover-Ups
- Pauline Easton and Anna Di Carlo -

The "Strategy of Tension" in the Cold War Period (Excerpts)
- Daniele Ganser -


In the News
Venezuela
Commemorations on Second Anniversary of Death of Hugo Chávez
Anti-Imperialist Mobilization in Caracas Defends Sovereignty
Coming Events

Cuba
Fidel Meets the Cuban Five
- Reflections of Comrade Fidel Castro -

On the Talks to Restore Diplomatic Relations
Between Cuba and the U.S.
- Alejandro Gómez, Granma International -
Coming Events

28th Meeting of the UN Human Rights Council
Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister



All Out to Celebrate March 8 -- International Women's Day!

The Fight to Affirm the Rights of Women Is Decisive to Open Society's Path to Progress

On the important occasion of International Women's Day, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) greets the fighting women in its own ranks and the fighting women of Canada, Quebec, the Indigenous nations and from all over the world who are in the front ranks of the fight to defend their own rights and the rights of all. Over the past year, there is no struggle in Canada in which the fighting women are not in the front ranks. By defending the rights which belong to them by virtue of their being, women make a great contribution to the defence of the rights of all and their fight is decisive in opening society's path to progress.

As the neo-liberal anti-social offensive is stepped up in Canada and internationally, more and more women are joining the struggle against this offensive and for the victory of a pro-social program. This constitutes further proof that women do not see their struggle in isolation from the struggle to open the door for the progress of society. Through their participation in this struggle they also affirm themselves as those who stand second to none. They are making a big contribution to the demand for change and renewal on the basis of their clear cut stand that they do not count on anyone else to "give" them their rights. These rights belong to them by virtue of their being; no one can give them or take them away. They must be affirmed and it is in the course of this affirmation that the new society will be created. In this new society the oppression of women will be a thing of the past, and the very idea that women can be paid less economically, marginalized politically, brutalized socially and considered "fair game" legally will be unheard of and anathema to the modern conception of rights.

The extent to which a society can be considered progressive is determined by the condition of its women. This is a historically verified fact. The success of a social revolution or any social movement is also determined by its treatment of women. Their level of participation in it also determines its character. The fact that all over Canada women are taking up leading positions in the struggles of the people against the anti-social offensive, for the victory of a pro-social program has established a new standard and model of struggle, on the basis of which whether or not a social force stands for social emancipation is gauged.

Such an achievement on the part of women in Canada and internationally is indicative of the new world which will come into being. Never again will women be dismissed as "appendages" of someone else. Never again will they be reduced to the position of "fair game" for the "pleasure and gratification" of others. In fact, their increasing participation in the struggle reflects the irresistible rise of social love; a love which cherishes the collective unit and seeks to fulfil the claims of the individual members of that collective on the basis of guaranteeing the well-being of the collective as a whole. This is the consciousness which is objectively assisting women today in their struggle for emancipation, subordinating every other kind of demand to the struggle for the creation of a new society.

CPC(M-L) takes this occasion to firmly state that women have rights by virtue of being human as well as by virtue of being women. It is the duty of everyone in society to fight for and defend these rights, whether in the fight against forms of social discrimination and inequalities in the immediate sense or the elimination of the oppression of women in the long run. CPC(M-L) is confident that with the women in the front ranks of the fight to defeat the phoney neo-liberal austerity agenda and instead empower the people to be decision-makers in all matters which affect their lives, the crisis will be resolved in favour of the people, not the rich. Justice will be done to stop the violence and end the poverty of women and children and end the murders and disappearance of women, especially Indigenous women. So too will governments be removed which shamelessly refuse to investigate crimes against women and dare to proclaim that they do not care. The more women of all backgrounds and beliefs oppose the racist state institutions and media -- which blame the people for Islamophobia and demand that the values of the biggest monopolies be imposed on everyone as "Canadian values" in the name of secularism, multiculturalism and other fairy tales -- the more the real values for which the people stand will prevail.

Women know that their security lies in the defence of the rights of all. The dialectic lives. The rights of women become the rights of all and the rights of all become the rights of women. It creates a new quality, that of rights in the form of their affirmation, not weasel words used to make sure women are "fair game," non-persons in every sense of the word except when it comes to the latest interpretation of property ownership provided by the biggest multinationals which have usurped power by force and the governments in their service such as that of Stephen Harper.

Defeat Harper in 2015!
Hail March 8, International Women's Day!
Resolutely Support All Women Fighting for Their Rights!

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Government Theme For Women's Day in Contempt
of Women's Rights

"Strong Women. Strong World. Improving Economic Opportunities for All." This is the theme adopted by the government of Canada for International Women's Day. Status of Women Canada claims that this theme "points to the vital contribution that women make every day to both the domestic and the global economy. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that every woman has the opportunity to help create prosperity, whether as an employee, a professional, a business leader or an entrepreneur."

Minister of Status of Women Kellie Leitch also called on women to join her "along with key business experts and innovators" in a forum on "providing Canadian women entrepreneurs with the practical tools, networks and connections they need to reach their full growth potential." Last year's call was also to women entrepreneurs.

We have no problem with women entrepreneurs per se, but there is a problem with the fact that Status of Women Canada is being transformed into a business agency which stays away from the demands of the 17,915,400 women of Canada and Quebec!

It's not difficult to see why the Harper government would reject the 2015 United Nations' Theme for International Women's Day, "Empowering Women -- Empowering Humanity." What is definitely "strong" about the Harper government's theme is the contempt it shows for the rights of women.

A strong woman in Harper's vision works tirelessly to create prosperity for the global monopolies. She is grateful to the patriarch for the "opportunity" to do so. Nothing is said about women or their families actually benefiting from this much proclaimed prosperity, and in fact they do not. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that "twenty years ago Canada ranked first amongst nations in international measures of gender equality. In 2014, Canada had fallen to nineteenth place in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index."

Almost one in eight Canadian women live in poverty, while close to one in three Indigenous women and more than one in three single mothers live in poverty. No progress has been made to eliminate gender gaps in wages, and the assault on public sector workers, the majority of whom are women, can only increase inequality. Since the 2008 global economic crisis, women have been forced into more part-time and precarious work, replacing full-time jobs, making life even more difficult.

 Women across Canada are not fighting for "access to opportunity" which turns rights into privileges. They reject the outlook that the "opportunity" has been provided and women who do not succeed have only themselves to blame. Women are fighting for a society that guarantees the rights of all. It is the affirmation of rights which is at the heart of the struggle of women.

Women have rights to everything they need to fully participate in society -- socially, politically, culturally and economically -- including the all-important right to participate in decision-making. These rights belong to women by virtue of their role in the reproduction of human life, as workers and as human beings, and cannot be given or taken away.

Women are fighting for a society organized to provide for the needs of all its members. They are in the forefront of change, developing their collective strength in the course of waging the fight to defend the rights of all. It is in the fight to defend the rights of all that women develop their collective strength and empower themselves to bring about the profound changes needed to establish a society which will guarantee rights. This is the proud past and future of International Women's Day!

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Activities Across Quebec to Celebrate
International Women's Day 2015


This poster was produced by the March 8 Collective for International Women's Day. The scissors represent the Quebec government's cuts to public services and social programs. With the "talking stick," women block the government's anti-social actions. According to the Native tradition, the person holding the stick holds the attention and respect of all. When the person is finished, the stick is passed to another person to continue the exchange.

This year, there will be opposition to the anti-social austerity agenda of the Philippe Couillard government at all actions, events, conferences and public meetings that women and their organizations hold March 8. They will celebrate their struggles and achievements for the affirmation of their rights alongside women in Canada and around the world.

March 8, 2015 will also be marked by the launch of the World March of Women in Quebec. This will be the 4th International Action of the World March of Women and activities are planned from March 8 to October 17, 2015 (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty) culminating in a rally in Trois-Rivières.

This year women have been preparing and demonstrating for weeks already against the unprecedented, relentless offensive against the rights of all and the rights of women. From February 22 to 27, women participated in the Week of Protests: Fight Against Austerity! This week through until Sunday, March 8, they are putting in the forefront their demands against the brutal anti-social agenda pursued by the Couillard government in all areas and aspects of life. They are also fighting the pro-war offensive of the Harper government who, through Bill C-51, wants to silence all opposition, resistance and dissent in the name of security and fighting terrorism. Women aspire to a world of peace, real security and justice for all human beings and they will be heard.

Quebec is not poor. We have the wealth. We have the resources. These must be organized to serve the public interest, for our families, our children, our seniors and our workers who create the wealth. The problem remains that we have no control over the decisions that affect us. Women from all walks of life take up their responsibility to defend this modern Quebec that defends the rights of all. The government has a responsibility and duty to do so as well.

Forward in the Struggle for the Rights of All, in Quebec, Canada and Around the World!
Women March for Equality, Together Against Austerity!




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World March of Women Issues Call to Resist Social
and Environmental Destruction

In November 2014, the World March of Women in Québec (MMFQC) issued a "call to resist the social and environmental destruction currently taking place in Québec and Canada. Between the lie of austerity and promotion of an economy based on the exploitation of people and resources, governments are contributing to an all-out attack on women, social justice and our planet as a whole." This call sets out the demands being brought forward for the 4th Action of the World March of Women in Québec and around the world from March 8 to October 17, 2015, under the theme "Liberate Our Bodies, Our World, Our Territories."

The MMFQC calls for resistance to "the governments of Québec and Canada, which defend the interests of employers and claim they have no choice but to cut public spending to 'balance the budget,' presented as the only possible road towards a prosperous Québec." The statement calls into question so-called prosperity that worsens the conditions of women by eliminating services, programs and jobs. It points out that:

"All-out cuts to the social safety net, education, social services, health care and community services are hitting Québec women full force. It is no accident that women are being targeted first. Impoverishment, burnout, violence, precariousness, undervaluing, overwork and loss of meaning: this is what awaits many women in Québec, with the acceleration of brutal cuts." Women will resist these attacks, it says.

"These cuts will increase the gap between women and men, and among women themselves. Our bodies are not consumer goods or machines for production or reproduction." It adds that women reject an economic model based on the exploitation of the most vulnerable sections of society, such as single mothers, those with low incomes and precarious living and working conditions, immigrants and national minorities. "We are mobilizing for a vision of life and well being of our communities that is different from the one put forward by greedy capitalists who will do anything in the name of profit," states the MMFQC. The statement continues:

"We are fed up with the lies. We reject the line that Québec has no choice, when political and ideological choices are in fact being made. We are outraged at the idea that our rights, equality and social justice will have to wait until budgets are balanced. Cuts are a false solution to a problem that has been completely manufactured.

"We call for resistance against the governments of Québec and Canada, and against the proponents of extractive industries who claim that the future lies in oil and extraction of natural resources: transporting tar sands, developing shale gas and mining uranium. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. When did profits become more important than access to clean water?"

The statement firmly rejects economic activity that attacks the rights of First Nations, Quebeckers and immigrants, especially women. "In this destructive economy, they are the first to be affected by sexual exploitation and violence. Far from building our communities, these industries contribute to weakening the social fabric and destroying the Earth which sustains us. Who among us wants to see an increase in poverty and dropout rates, in social problems, in inequality between working men and women? At the end of the day, it is always women who are called to manage the social impacts of this economic model on our communities."

The statement unequivocally rejects the warmongering and militaristic logic of the federal government's current policies. "We are fed up with macho and authoritarian policies that promote death and domination in order to resolve conflicts and to conquer. Intimidation has become the norm for the Canadian state. Supporting women and peoples here and abroad means: recognizing the right of peoples to self-determination; funding education; supporting feminist and social movements; and respecting human rights, instead of spending money on F-16 fighter jets and on festivals celebrating military culture, or joining imperialist wars in the Middle East. Canada will not participate in the new Iraq war in our name.

"Another world is possible. We are mobilizing every day to sustain and create liveable communities and workplaces, for ourselves and in solidarity with women around the world.

"We put forward a vision where justice reigns, where domination gives way to peace and freedom. Where women's work is a source of self-actualization and not exploitation. Where Indigenous women can flourish and not disappear. Where work improves our lives and those of the people around us. Where food is healthy and energy is clean. We believe it is possible to do differently, and to do better. We reject defeatism. We choose life, solidarity and love."

For further information: www.mmfqc.org

(Translation of French quotations by Ontario Federation of Labour)

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National Day of Action to Oppose Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

All Out to Defend the Rights of All!

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Harper Government's Use of Fearmongering
to Establish Control

A major concern of Canadians is how the Harper government and media in its service use fearmongering. It is an attempt to paralyse the people from taking action to block the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive and empower themselves, as well as to overwhelm the opposition within the Parliament and the electoral race to form the next government. In this regard, the government and security services seem keen to make fear the watchword of Canadian politics. Above all else, Canadians should fear not only terrorist attacks randomly launched against them, but the evil "jihadist" forces who are targeting their values and way of life. Not only that, they should also fear the police forces which can interview them, question their motives, even arrest them and throw away the key.

Canadians are supposed to fear tunnels, white powder, "jihadists," women wearing hijabs and veils, going to the mall, Mosques, courses teaching Arabic and the Qu'uran, environmental activists, Marxist-Leninists, religious fundamentalists, indigenous peoples, workers' fighting for their rights. Speaking out and participating in any political activities should be shunned because they can make people targets of the political police and land people on a no-fly list, or put them in the government's crosshairs for any number of random reasons. Fear of the state and what it can do to you, the impunity of the police and security forces, invasions of privacy and attacks on rights are all real concerns which Canadians from all walks of life are expressing in the discussion on the Harper government's new anti-terrorism legislation.

Fear is "an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm." It can also be defined as "a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone." Anxiety is defined as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome" (Oxford English Dictionary). A synonym for anxiety, tension, can be defined as "a feeling of nervousness that makes you unable to relax" (Merriam-Webster).

Fear indicates the inability to control the outcome. It is both a symptom of the people being unable to decide those matters which affect them and a method for blocking Canadians from action and analysis to end the uncertainty imposed on them and the anxiety it causes. Canadians are subjected to constant tension so that they lose their bearings. Instead of being pro-active in a manner that unites them in action to confront the dangers they and society face, they are to be reduced to reacting to the barrage of fear. To overcome the state of tension means to recognize what is causing it and why and overcome the block imposed on Canadians to prevent them from taking control of their lives.

The fraud perpetrated by the government and monopoly-owned media at this time is that the uncertain outcome facing Canadians is caused by "jihadi terrorism" and that the cause of terrorism is terrorists who are evil people who hate us and espouse "radical ideologies" and are conspiring against us.

Amongst other examples of fearmongering in which the Harper government is engaging, this week CBC News reported the complaints which have surfaced over the Facebook page of the federal Conservative Party that highlights an apparent terror threat against West Edmonton Mall issued by Somalia-based militants, posted on March 2.

The posting uses a screenshot and quote taken from a video posted to YouTube last month by the group al-Shabaab, said to be linked to al-Qaeda, who were said to be behind a brutal attack on Kenya's Westgate Mall in 2013 that left 60 people dead.

Near the end of the new video, which runs just over an hour in total, a masked man with an English accent urges followers to launch similar assaults on shopping malls in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada. It names the West Edmonton Mall as a potential target, CBC reports. The text of the Conservative ad reads, "Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada -- we need to give our police and security forces the tools they need to protect us from the threat of terrorism." The Facebook post invites supporters to "add your name if you agree," with a link to a petition on the Conservative Party website.

"We should all be troubled when jihadi terrorists single out very specific locations in our country, and call on their followers to attack it," party communications director Cory Hann told CBC News.

Meanwhile, PressProgress, a website affiliated with the Broadbent Institute, suggested the Facebook post could be illegal under the government's proposed anti-terrorism bill. Bill C-51 would make it illegal to knowingly promote or advocate the commission of terrorism offences in general.

PressProgress writes:

"Bill C-51 defines 'terrorist propaganda' as 'any writing, sign, visible representation, or audio recording that advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general.'

"It goes on to say that, if a judge finds 'there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is material -- that is terrorist propaganda or data that makes terrorist propaganda available -- stored on and made available to the public through a computer system,' the court has the power to make sure it's deleted.

"Also troubling: the image itself offers no cues or context as to who produced it or for what purpose (the image doesn't even display the party's logo, for example). When the image of the Al-Shabaab militant's 'call to action' is separated from an accompanying blurb and link to a petition about protecting us from the 'threat of terrorism,' the image becomes virtually indistinguishable from the kinds of violent, radical propaganda floating around social media that C-51 is supposed to stamp out.

"But the blurb accompanying the CPC image may be irrelevant in the eyes of the law, given the actual wording of the terror bill: Bill C-51 only states that 'communicating statements' that 'knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general' is punishable by up to five years in jail.

"So if there is a difference between quoting a terrorist's call to arms to criticize terrorism rather than promote terrorism, Bill C-51 offers little clarity to this distinction.

"In fact, it's been pointed out that acting in the public interest (as journalists tend to do) does not qualify as a valid defence under C-51.

"Would CBC run afoul of the law for reporting Al-Shabaab's call to arms? Would everyone on the Conservative Party's Facebook page who shared the Conservative Party of Canada's image be in violation of C-51 for spreading Al-Shabaab's propaganda?

"As C-51 is worded, it would appear that it's up to the discretion of law enforcement and the courts on how to interpret this -- and who knows how evenly this could be applied now or in the future?"

Whether this is legal or illegal under Bill C-51, in the view of TML Weekly, the CPC Facebook ad certainly qualifies as fearmongering and it is unacceptable.

The fact is that using fear to keep populations in line is not an innovation of the Harper government or the Conservative Party of Canada. It has been the specific tactic used by political police since the end of the 19th century, not only in Europe against the uprisings of the working people but also by the Czarist police. It was subsequently referred to as strategy-of-tension and specifically honed by the Anglo-Americans during the Cold War period. The CIA and NATO became its past masters to oppose and overthrow communism. Fearmongering and psychological warfare or psy-ops is an old strategy used with particular ferocity by the CIA and those forces under its direction.

In Canada during the 1960s and '70s Operation Checkmate was revealed to be the Canadian counterpart of the CIA's Operation Chaos in the U.S. and Operation Gladio in Italy and similar such operations in other countries of Europe. Operation Condor was unleashed in Latin America against the peoples of Chile, Argentina and other countries in the Southern Cone and similar operations were used in the Dirty Wars against Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In the countries of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union the CIA launched a series of such programs.

In this issue, TML Weekly publishes the article "State Sanctioned Black-Ops and Cover-Ups"  which addresses some of the most notorious examples of covert operations and psy-ops carried out by the RCMP in Canada in the late '60s, '70s and '80s. These forms of state terrorism were organized to discredit the communists and progressive and democratic forces and disorient the people to prevent them from drawing warranted conclusions and engaging in politics to change the situation in their favour.

To inform readers about the history and nature of state-organized fearmongering and psy-ops, TML Weekly is also publishing excerpts from an essay by Daniele Ganser, originally published in the Journal of 9/11 Studies. Daniele Ganser is a Swiss historian who writes about the "stay-behind" paramilitaries organized by the CIA immediately after the Second World War comprised of active fascists, NATO henchmen and the intelligence agencies of various other countries. Ganser has also authored a book, NATO'S Secret Armies, that provides a full account of this history. Under CIA and NATO command these forces committed horrendous crimes which only began to come to light in the 1980s and '90s.

His article describes in detail the psy-ops campaigns in Europe and the manner in which they were revealed long after the fact. Ganser describes these campaigns as part of the CIA-NATO "strategy-of-tension." The term was used by Italian Judge Felice Casson in an interview with the BBC in 1991 to describe the aim of the psychological warfare. Casson investigated a series of terrorist attacks in Italy from the 1960s to '80s and discovered that they had been perpetrated by anti-communist paramilitaries and Italian military police under CIA command.

Note

See also article on Bill C-51 in TML Weekly, February 28, 2015 -- No. 9.

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State-Sanctioned Black Ops and Cover-Ups


Left: aftermath of a police raid on a CPC(M-L) research institute in 1973; right: arson attack
on BC headquarters of CPC(M-L), August 12, 1983.

According to official and media accounts of crimes committed against Canadians, Quebeckers and Indigenous peoples by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), some crimes never took place and others were unacceptable aberrations. They say that, in any event, the door for such things to be repeated was closed in 1984 when the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Service (CSIS) was created to collect intelligence but not pass to action. In this context, concern is expressed about Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 extending powers to CSIS to allow it to conduct activities that resemble those of the RCMP prior to 1984. Of course, it is not true that after 1984 the security services stopped violating the rights of the people. Far from it, another national inquiry is required to reveal what the spy agencies have been up to since then, up to and including their cover-up of their involvement in the 1985 Air India disaster. Nonetheless, it is instructive to review the official story and what the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) had to say about this at the time the events were taking place. The aim of the review is to sum up this experience so that people can provide themselves with a suitable guide to action which serves the present and opens a path to a safe and bright future.

As the official story goes, the RCMP carried out illegal activities until approximately 1977 as part of its work to safeguard Canadian "national security," but all of this was cleaned up in the period from 1978 through 1984, culminating in the separation of the RCMP's intelligence and enforcement wings, as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the RCMP (the McDonald Commission). From 1977 through to 1981 was the period of investigation into RCMP wrongdoings, while 1981 through 1984 was the period of reorganization of the security forces. The new regime was put in place in November 1984 with the appointment of the first Security Intelligence Review Committee.

Reviewing the Incidents that Led to the Creation of the
McDonald Commission

On July 26, 1974, Robert Samson a former RCMP constable and member of the Combined Anti-Terrorist Squad of Quebec who had gone into the RCMP-Security Service (RCMP-SS) was injured by a bomb explosion in front of the Mount Royal home of Melvyn Dobrin, president of the Steinberg supermarket chain. Samson said he was meeting an informant at the location when he spotted and picked up a parcel which exploded in his face. The RCMP officially disavowed any link to Samson's activity and reported him to the Montreal police. The Quebec fire commissioner who interrogated Samson did not buy his story and he was charged with planting the bomb. During his court case, held in 1976, Samson spilled information about what he referred to as Operation Bricole. In exchange for immunity he explained that Operation Bricole involved a break-in at the Montreal office of Agence de Presse Libre du Québec (APLQ) "to take documents which were files of the most militant members as well as pertinent documents." He explained that the APLQ "always had a fairly big list of Quebec leftists." To this day, what Samson was actually doing on July 26, 1974 remains a mystery.

Shortly after the conclusion of Samson's trial, then-Solicitor General Warren Allmand told the House of Commons that the APLQ raid was an isolated incident "organized by either the Quebec provincial police or the Montreal police, and the RCMP assumed an assisting role."

At the same time, in June 1977, the Quebec government, headed by the Parti Québécois, decided to launch its own inquiry into the police activities, the Commission d'enquête sur des opérations policières en territoire québécois (also known as the Keable Commission). Every step of the way, the Commission met with resistance and obstruction from both the RCMP and the federal government who challenged the Commission's jurisdiction to examine the affairs of a federal agency, arguing that it was invading the prerogatives of the federal government. The Trudeau government succeeded in having Canadian courts declare the investigation unconstitutional, even though a large number of the dirty operations were directed against the people of Quebec. It charged that the Keable Commission would be violating the Official Secrets Act. Solicitor General Francis Fox, who succeeded Allmand, refused to hand over subpoenaed documents, using the "absolute privilege" accorded to the Solicitor General under Canada's Federal Courts Act, a privilege without any recourse to appeal.

The Keable Commission nevertheless gathered enough proof to establish that the RCMP had taken part in a number of illegal activities as part of its surveillance operations after the October Crisis of 1970, including the following:

- A burglary at the offices of Agence de Presse Libre du Québec (ALPQ);

- The burning of a barn in 1971 called La Ferme du Québec Libre in the Eastern Townships where members of the FLQ and the U.S. Black Panthers and various protest groups met;

- The issuing of 13 false FLQ press releases in 1971 from a dummy FLQ cell called André Ouimet, which claimed responsibility for the firebombing of the Brinks Company office in Montreal in January of the same year. The purpose of the communiqués was to create the impression that the FLQ was still active after the October Crisis of 1970. Some of them threatened the life of Minister of Justice Jérôme Choquette and claimed responsibility for firebombings that never took place. The media, especially the Journal de Montréal, published stories on the basis of those communiqués with titles such as "The FLQ Is Not Dead" and "Have We Underestimated the Strength of the FLQ?" The FLQ which for all intents and purposes was decimated during the October Crisis was now presented as a powerful organization with numerous cells whose frequent actions "represent an active threat to the security of the person and to civil liberties in Quebec." The Keable Commission dedicated a chapter to the role of the media in these intrigues.

- The theft of dynamite on the night of April 26 to 27, 1972 from Richelieu Explosives in Rougemont by policeman Rick Daigle assisted by corporals Bernard Chamberland and Normand Dubuc;

- The kidnapping of André Chamard, a law intern involved in the defence of the accused FLQ members on June 7, 1972. The RCMP first attempted to recruit Chamard as an informer using a drug case he was involved in as blackmail and subjected him to beatings and death threats.

- The theft of Parti Québécois membership lists in January 1973 during "Operation Ham," as part of a burglary of the courier company "Courier Dynamics Inc," an operation involving 66 RCMP officers.[1]

RCMP Officer Donald Cobb, Inspector Jean Coutellier of the Sûreté du Québec and Inspector Roger Cormier of the Montreal police were eventually charged with authorizing a search without a warrant in relation to the APLQ break-in. The proceedings carried on until June 1977 when they pleaded guilty, eliminating public hearing of evidence. Their lawyer argued that they were outstanding citizens, that they had a momentary lapse when they failed to obtain a warrant and that they had done it with the best of motives -- to defend national security. They were granted unconditional discharges and returned to active duty.

On July 6, 1977, Solicitor General Fox acknowledged in the House of Commons that the APLQ break-in was not an "exceptional and isolated" case and announced that a Commission of Inquiry would be launched.

The McDonald Commission Hearings

The McDonald Commission began its hearings on October 18, 1977. All told there were 169 hearings, 144 of them held in camera. It heard evidence from 149 witnesses about RCMP activities and the extent of knowledge about them by Ministers and senior officials.

The major topics it dealt with were summarized by the Commission:

"- Operation Bricole -- the A.P.L.Q. Incident;

- Operation Ham -- the removal and copying of Parti Québécois tapes;

- Surreptitious Entries (generally);

- Certain cases of attempted recruitment of Human Sources;

- Mail Checks;

- Burning of a Barn; Removal of Dynamite;

- Access to information in the possession of the Department of National Revenue, the Unemployment Insurance Commission and other government departments;

- Operation Checkmate -- countermeasures and disruptive tactics;

- Miscellaneous topics relating to the accountability of the R.C.M.P. to Government; the Relationship between the Security Service and its Human Sources."

The Commission promised that, subject to "the restrictions imposed upon us by our mandate as to matters related to ‘national security,' ‘public interest,' or ‘the interest of the privacy of individuals,'" it would make what it heard "public as much as possible."

Fifty-two volumes of transcripts heard in camera were released as 45 volumes of redacted material. Some of this is now in the National Archives which can be accessed with CSIS approval. Once cleared for access, documents can be viewed by others. Much if not most of the evidence pertaining to this period right through to 1988 has been destroyed.

RCMP Destruction of Operation Checkmate Files

During the McDonald Commission's hearings in November 1979 and February 1980, it was revealed that the RCMP-SS destroyed files, particularly those related to Operation Checkmate. They destroyed files containing details about actual operations conducted, and others that were proposals for "unexecuted operations."

According to what the RCMP-SS told the Commission, the files were destroyed after two internal reviews, one in 1974-75, referred to as "Phase One" involving "mere proposals for operations" -- and the remainder in 1977. There were "approximately 25 volumes" related to Operation Checkmate in total.

The Commission was told that Deputy Director (Operations) Howard Draper and Staff Sergeant Ron Yaworski and Superintendent Gustav Begalki, who was in charge of "D" Operations -- the Counter-Subversion Branch that oversaw the Special Operations group supervising Operation Checkmate, recommended the destruction of files. The Commission reported: "[B]y November 1974, [Yaworski] believed that many of the operations which had been carried out under the code name ‘Checkmate' were ‘wrong.' He came to this conclusion because of his ‘increasing awareness of mounting public criticism in the United States of comparable programmes which had been carried out by the F.B.I.'"

The Commission reported that Yaworksi was concerned about "leakage of government documents" and the "possibility of the disclosure of what he considered to be ‘very sensitive' and 'very explosive' information and about probable consequent embarrassment to the Security Service as a whole." He wanted to "lessen the possibilities of exposure of Operation Checkmate."

The Commission reported that the officers involved in the destruction of files discussed "the potentially ‘very explosive' nature of what little material was still on the files." The Commission said no explanation was given as to what "very explosive" meant, or whether the "problems involved possible illegalities." No list of the materials destroyed was kept.

Begalki said that his reasoning for destroying the files was the "winding down" of the operation. The Commission reported: "Mr. Begalki says that the possible embarrassment to the Security Service in the event of the disclosure of any of the contents of the Checkmate files did not 'separately' have a bearing on his decision that the files should be destroyed. He later explained that that was not his reason, and that he did not know the contents of any of the files or that there were any illegalities described in them. He maintains that the lack of intelligence value was the criterion he applied in authorizing this destruction of the files, and which he expected Staff Sergeant Pethic to apply as he went through the files."

Individuals who participated in the destruction of the files, such as Staff Sergeant Pethic, told the Commission they had vague recollections of the files. Pethic said he "vaguely remembered a file on an individual." He said that "he retained only three documents: (1) an outline of the finances of either the Communist Party of Canada or a communist front organization, (2) a description of an individual's departure from a suspected communist front organization and (3) a document from an agency outside the Security Service."

The Commission concluded: "In our opinion the explanation given by Mr. Yaworski for recommending in 1974 the destruction of the Checkmate files, when analyzed, amounts to nothing less than an intention to reduce the possibility of the Government of Canada learning of acts which he himself had come to consider to have been 'wrong.' Standard criteria for the destruction of files were deliberately disregarded by him and Mr. Draper.

"We cannot ignore the fact that more than three years earlier, on June 30, 1971, in a memorandum prepared by Mr. Yaworski (although signed by Sergeant Pethic), it was said that 'containment measures being considered or attempted' might be 'of such a sensitive nature that they are not to be committed to paper.' Mr. Yaworski told us that by 'sensitive' he did not mean 'illegal' but rather the fact that the Security Service was using information from a source which might put the source in jeopardy, and to the fact that the Security Service was itself taking action rather than simply reporting its information to some other branch of government.

"We find this explanation unconvincing and we believe that Mr. Yaworski, drafting the memorandum for Sergeant Pethic's signature, was referring to a willingness to use deterrent methods, including illegal ones if necessary, to achieve what he described in the memorandum as a 'more aggressive and positive approach' to operations which would 'impede, deter or undermine' target groups."

No charges were laid for this deliberate destruction of evidence about the crimes committed against the peoples of Canada and Quebec. At some point, Ron Yaworski became a "Security Consultant" who, as late as 2002, appeared before a Senate committee as an expert witness during its in camera budgetary considerations on security matters. (The position of deputy director of operations for CSIS is held by a Jeff Yaworski. TML could not establish if they are related.)

Aside from the destruction of files in the 1974-77 period, in the transition of the RCMP-SS to CSIS, one of the issues was what to do with the files accumulated over more than fifty years of subversive activities. One scholar who has investigated the fate of the files writes: "The Security Service, with the federal government's permission had already destroyed 208,481 of its files between July 1983 and May 1984. With the appearance of the new spy agency, a decision was made to transfer some of the records to the National Archives of Canada. In 1987 CSIS created the National Archives Requirements Unit to review the documents in consultation with archivists. Out of nearly 500,000 records, 440,000 were destroyed. Twenty-nine thousand documents made the trip to the archives and 28,000 were retained at CSIS because of continuing value. The embarrassment factor was considered in at least one case when the records were being reviewed. After assessing a single volume in the collection relating to McGill University, an employee of CSIS was sure that the file deserved to be destroyed, since Canada's new spy service had 'no need for a file to be specifically opened on a university, [deleted] Keeping such a file can only bring us problems."[2]

The Deliberations of CPC(M-L) on the McDonald Commission
and the Creation of CSIS

On February 19, 1975, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) convened a press conference in Toronto to repudiate a sensationalist news item in the Toronto Star claiming that an FBI agent named Joseph Burton had infiltrated the Party and gathered internal information. In a statement issued at the time, the Party said: "This manoeuver on the part of the capitalist press was so clumsy that it showed their sinister motive to discredit the Party by raising doubts about [its] operations and causing suspicion in the minds of the people about [its] integrity." The alleged infiltrator claimed that he knew that "Hardial Bains walked out of the North Korean embassy in Paris with $30,000" when such an embassy did not even exist.

This activity was one of many carried out against CPC(M-L). It was neither the first dirty operation carried out against the Party by the RCMP-SS nor was it the last. The day will certainly come when the peoples of Canada will reconstruct the truth about the sordid treacherous activities carried out against them in the period that has supposedly been investigated and dealt with. But the biggest fraud of all is that CSIS gave rise to a "new" civilian agency to take care of national security intelligence. In fact, any RCMP-SS members who wished to do so were welcomed to join CSIS. It is said that many even kept their desks and that the new spy agency primarily consisted of former RCMP-SS members.

In the period of transition to CSIS, on August 12, 1983, the British Columbia Headquarters of CPC(M-L) was burned to the ground along with surrounding businesses, with total damages estimated at $3 million. It was as though CSIS was sending a message that nothing was going to change. A 22-year-old American citizen named Rolland Degroot was detained in connection with the fire, but the police and the media refused to properly investigate the matter so that nobody would be charged and there was to be no redress. In the days and weeks prior to the razing of the Party's BC Headquarters, various other attacks were carried out, not only on the BC Headquarters, but in Montreal as well.

Degroot was a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who the police never charged or brought to justice. The attack was part of the state's racist offensive against the people of British Columbia and across the country to terrorize immigrants and get them to stop fighting for their rights. The state floated Nazi and white supremacist organizations which it used to launch racist attacks. It tried to blame the people for being racist, as it does today in the case of accusations that Quebeckers are Islamophobic or that Canadians demand that Muslims be "moderate" and swear loyalty to what are called Canadian values. All of this propaganda served to justify using state intervention against the people in both Canada and India just as today it is used in a similar manner at home and abroad.

During the period when these attacks were being launched, CPC(M-L) and its leader Hardial Bains raised the slogan to blame the state and not the people for racist attacks and fascist violence and called on the people to organize their own defence, since clearly the police were not going to defend them. The East Indian Defence Committee was founded in 1975 and then, in November 1980, the People's Front Against Racist and Fascist Violence was founded. Both organizations developed their work  under the leadership of the Party and Hardial Bains. It brought organized form to work that had been carried out from early 1973 to unite the people of all walks of life and backgrounds in action to oppose the racist and fascist violence and make sure it would not take hold in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians joined in mass opposition to the racist and fascist violence, including to the racist Green Paper on Immigration released by the Liberal government in 1975, a struggle the Party also led. The Green Paper divided Canadians between whites and "people of colour with novel and distinctive features" and enshrined the category Aboriginal to make sure all the Indigenous nations were lumped together on a racist basis. Following the Green Paper, as the recognition of state-organized racism took hold in the Canadian consciousness, Ontario issued the Walter Pitman Report which declared that there was no evidence of state-organized racism and that Canadians "are all a little bit racist." This entire period laid bare the hand of the state behind racist and fascist violence. It clearly established the truth of what CPC(M-L) was saying. Because of this, the state did everything possible to isolate CPC(M-L), including staging attacks against it by police agents within the people's movement and then blaming CPC(M-L) for instigating violence when it defended itself against these assaults. CPC(M-L) was vindicated in court where the preponderance of evidence showed that it was the target of assaults and that it assaulted no one even when it defended itself against assault.

Later, the Canadian state stepped up its use of state terrorism against the people. Amongst other things, it concocted the theory of "Sikh fundamentalism" and "extremists" to justify the state attacks against those who were opposing injustice in Canada and in India, taking a stand against the Indira Gandhi regime, especially those from the Punjab nation seeking independence from India. Criminal attacks were also launched against the people of Kashmir and the other nations and tribal peoples in India fighting for emancipation and the brutal oppression and exploitation at the hands of the industrialists, landlords and their state.

The Air India bombing took place under these conditions and no amount of attempts to blame it on "Sikh extremists" could hide the hand of the Canadian spy agencies in creating these "extremists" and putting together this conspiracy. Under these conditions, thousands of Punjabi youth were slaughtered in Punjab, while black laws and black ops were used to suppress the opposition. Finally, the floodgates to the perpetuation of anarchy and violence in India saw Operation Blue Star in 1984 when the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, was invaded by the Indian army which caused many people to be slaughtered. This opened the floodgates of state intervention in religious affairs where it dictates the conscience of the people and what they can and cannot do as a way of life. The policy of individual acts of terrorism and targeted assassinations became commonplace with the aim of keeping people out of politics. Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi themselves fell victim to this policy.

Thus the Canadian state erected the bogeyman of "Sikh fundamentalism." Following the 9/11 attacks against the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., this turned out to be yeoman's service for the imperialist system of states. This "Sikh fundamentalism" served as a model for the CIA as it erected the spectre of "Islamic fundamentalism" as the extreme which poses the gravest danger to society. On this basis, once again, it is the people who are blamed for the terrorist attacks while state terrorism in the name of combatting terror is erected as the solution. All of it reveals the modus operandi of the so-called intelligence services and their "strategy of tension" which, in turn, has the aim of making sure economic, social and other problems are not provided with political solutions.

Throughout all this period, the work to unite the people in action against the state-organized racist and fascist attacks proved the revolutionary character and mettle of CPC(M-L).

The Response of CPC(M-L) to the Arson Attack

After the arson attack on its BC Headquarters, on August 20-21, 1983, the Party convened an Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee where a report was presented entitled "The Arson Attack Against the Headquarters of CPC(M-L) in BC -- A Senseless Act of Individual Violence or a State-Inspired Crime Against the Party and the People?" The Party put the arson attack in the context of the long line of attacks of various forms that were launched against the Party, its members, supporters and offices from 1970 through to the arson attack.

The report to the Party's Central Committee drew the conclusion that the arson attack and the response of the police and the media had the aim of:

1) convincing public opinion that the arson attack was insignificant and hence that it is fine and normal to have such attacks on the Party;

2) sowing confusion in the minds of the people to downplay and negate the danger of fascism;

3) to create public opinion that such attacks are provoked by the target itself; and

4) to promote the bankrupt anti-communist theory of "two extremes," according to which the Marxist-Leninists and the fascists are fighting each other while the government and state agencies are the middle-ground opposed to each.

Within this context, the Plenum analyzed that the measures were being put in place to strengthen the repressive state apparatus as part of the all-round fascization of life, the suppression of the Marxist-Leninists and other progressive forces and "to incite crimes of so-called senseless violence" such as the arson attack in BC.

The report to the Central Committee addressed the McDonald Commission's report noting the similarity between the arson attack in Quebec in 1974 and the burning of the bookstore. It stated: "Far from condemning such crimes, the McDonald Royal Commission ... sought to justify these crimes and to elaborate a framework to legalize the crimes carried out by the RCMP against the struggles of the people and the interests of the nation and to legalize the operation of the foreign espionage agencies of U.S. imperialism, the FBI and the CIA, and the direct intervention in Canadian affairs by the highest echelons of the United States government [...]." It pointed out that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service "will be legally empowered to carry out all the illegal and hooligan activities which the RCMP, the CIA and the FBI have carried out in the past, in the name of defending democracy and the interests of the nation against subversion."


  Police attack demonstration led by CPC(M-L) activists outside the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, on March 3, 1971. The demonstration was in support of the Quebec people and against
the attacks launched on them by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

The Central Committee posed the question: "Who are the terrorists and who is carrying out acts of political violence in Canada?" To answer the question, it looked to the McDonald Commission's report.

"The McDonald Commission openly admits the fact that the bourgeoisie and its RCMP and other police forces and spies, as well as fascist gangs, have been the source of terrorism, barn-burnings, kidnappings, torture and blackmail in the recruitment of informants, of racist and fascist hate messages on telephones and violent attacks against the national minority communities, workers' struggles and against the progressive and democratic forces and the Marxist-Leninists, attempted assassinations, and so on. The report also admits that the police and government authorities have fully cooperated with the American spy agencies and police forces in bringing spies to Canada to sabotage CPC(M-L), and the struggle of the Native people and other groups in Canada. Significantly, however, some sections of the McDonald Commission Report, such as the section on 'Operation Checkmate,' which deal specifically with how CPC(M-L) and its leadership, Comrade Hardial Bains, have been the targets of such terrorist attacks were never released for publication. This too serves the tactic of the bourgeoisie of slandering the Marxist-Leninists as the source of crime and violence by comparing them to the fascists and terrorists, while in fact remaining silent about their true activities and progressive stands."


Mass demonstration on Parliament Hill, September 1974, in support of the struggle of Native peoples that was savagely attacked by the RCMP. Later the bourgeoisie, government authorities, monopoly media, opportunists and others accused CPC(M-L) of causing the violence. In fact, CPC(M-L) was the foremost champion of the just cause of the Anishnabe and others fighting at that time and a main organizer of the demonstration. The convoluted logic of the police and its agents, once all else failed, was to say that because CPC(M-L) organized the demonstration, it was responsible for the attack. In this way, every attempt was made to blame the resistance struggle for the repression of the state. "Blame the State and Not the People for Racist and Fascist Violence" was the slogan that represented the true facts at that time and this remains the case today.

"The McDonald Commission report also served to justify the fascization of the state and strengthening of the apparatus of repression, including the operation of the civilian spy agency, CSIS, under the guise that it is necessary to make illegal activities legal in the name of the interests of national security, in the name that Canada's interests are inseparable from those of U.S. imperialism and that those who fight for the democratic rights of the people and the interests of the nation ... are the 'enemies' of the interests of the people and the nation and are the source of the danger to peace and security in Canada and to democracy.

"Thus, the McDonald Commission declared that the principal threats to Canadian security 'arise from the clandestine activities of agents of foreign powers in Canada, terrorist organizations and groups working actively to overthrow the foundation of parliamentary democracy.'"

The Report to the Plenum pointed out that "In the category of 'groups working actively to overthrow the foundation of parliamentary democracy' the Commission lumps the Marxist-Leninists together with the fascists so as to create maximum confusion, and then declares that the fascists are inactive and do not pose a threat." The report pointed out that it was not accidental that the Commission did not make more specific the category of "terrorist organizations." It was already documented that the RCMP and other police forces were behind all the terrorist activities they blamed on the FLQ, to say nothing about the "Western Guard" and other neo-Nazi, white supremacist organizations that had committed terrorist attacks. "The McDonald Commission even records certain of these attacks, as well as the work of the U.S. police agents operating in Canada, and condones these nefarious activities," the Report pointed out.

The Central Committee's report noted the admission of the McDonald Commission of the police-nature of the Canadian state and "that the activities of CPC(M-L) 'have been under intensive investigation in the 1970s. Its leader has been the object of both close surveillance and certain of the disruptive tactics which were carried out under the Operation Checkmate umbrella.' The Commission also confesses that 'Widespread harassment at every possible opportunity' was carried out against the Party members and supporters, including dismissal from jobs and deportations as well as attempts to kill members and supporters. Many of these activities were foiled by the vigilance of the Party, which condemned them and fought against them, right when they were perpetrated."


Demonstration at courthouse in Waterloo, May 1977, to denounce political persecution of CPC(M-L). The action was to support Comrade Hardial Bains and other comrades arrested February 23, 1977 on charges that were so bogus they were later thrown out of court. The hand of the political police in concocting the bogus charges was once again revealed but the media remained silent on that.

The Report warned that the "McDonald Commission speaks as if it were opposed to these activities, but this is deception to fool the gullible, to whitewash its own role and the fascization of the state and to prepare for further attacks. In fact, its own mission was to directly attack the Marxist-Leninists using the disguise of upholding the 'rule of law.' While the McDonald Commission was scribbling its justifications for 'law and order,' the attacks were still going on against the Marxist-Leninists and progressive forces across the country, as is still the case today, for these attacks never stopped for a single day."

The Report concluded that the creation of CSIS "... is a further step in the fascization of the state within the framework of the so-called parliamentary process and through 'constitutional means' and it poses a real threat to the lives and liberties of the people." Amongst other things it noted that the legislation would grant immunity for security service operatives and make it a criminal offense for anyone to reveal their identity.

The Report also identified the alleged fight against terrorism as "an important propaganda weapon for the ideo-political deception" of the people with the aim of liquidating and diverting their struggles. 

To come: A summary of the proceedings of the August 1983 Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of CPC(M-L) which enumerated many of the black ops against the Party and analyzed important national and international developments at the time that are important to revisit as the Harper government pushes Canada further along a retrogressive and dangerous course.

Notes

1. Report of the Keable Commission, Wikipedia.

2. Spying 101: the RCMP's Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1917-1997, Steve Hewitt, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c2002).

References

Third Report: Certain R.C.M.P. Activities and the Question of Governmental Knowledge (1981).Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Chair, Mr. Justice D.C. McDonald.

The Arson Attack Against the Headquarters of CPC(M-L) in B.C. -- A Senseless Act of Individual Violence or a State-Inspired Crime Against the Party and the People, Report Delivered to the Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), August 20-21, 1983, (MELS 1983).

Secret Service: Political Policing in Canada from the Fenians to Fortress America. Reg Whitaker, Gregory S. Kealey, and Andrew Parnaby  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012).

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The "Strategy of Tension" in the
Cold War Period (Excerpts)

[...]

The strategy of tension forms part of what is called "psychological warfare" or PSYWAR. As the term indicates, this form of warfare does not attack human bodies, tanks, planes, ships, satellites, and houses in order to destroy them, but human psyches, human minds. Leaving aside the fact that philosophers, psychologists, neurologists, and theologians have never been able fully to agree on exactly what "the mind" is, we can for our purposes here define it simply as our human ability to think and feel. If a group can get access to our thinking and our feeling without our noticing, it can exercise great power over us. Once we notice that our psyches are being manipulated through psychological warfare, the technique loses some of its effect.

[...]

Arguably the best historical data available today on the strategy of tension come from Italy, where judges, parliamentarians, and academics together continue to make great efforts to understand and describe this secret strategy.

Judge Casson and the Peteano Terror

Italian Judge Felice Casson rediscovered the strategy during his investigation into a number of terrorist attacks Italy had suffered in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. According to Casson, the best documented historical case in which the strategy of tension was implemented occurred in the Italian village of Peteano. There, on May 31, 1972, three members of the Italian paramilitary police, the Carabinieri, were lured to an abandoned Fiat 500 by an anonymous phone call and were killed when they opened the hood of the car, thereby triggering a bomb.

For many years, this terrorist attack was blamed on the Red Brigades, a left-wing terror organization in Italy. But after Casson reopened the case, he found that the Catholic neofascist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a militant anti-communist, had carried out the crime.

Casson also found to his great surprise that Vinciguerra had not operated alone, but had been protected by members of the Italian military intelligence service, today called SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare).

Judge Casson arrested Vinciguerra, who on trial in 1984 confirmed that it had been relatively easy for him to escape and hide because large segments of the Italian security apparatus, including the SISMI, had shared his anti-communist convictions and had, therefore, silently supported crimes that discredited the Italian left and especially the Communist Party, which was quite strong. After the bombing, Vinciguerra recalled, "A whole mechanism came into action.... [T]he Carabinieri, the Minister of the Interior, the customs services, and the military and civilian intelligence services accepted the ideological reasoning behind the attack."[1]

Casson found that by this crime and other attacks being blamed on the leftwing Red Brigades, the primary political enemy, the Italian Communist Party, was discredited. The directors of the military intelligence service and politicians argued after the crime that the "Communist danger" justified increased military spending and a reduction of civil liberties in the interest of state security. In this way, the strategy of tension, as executed through the Peteano terror, spread fear across Italy, discredited a political opponent, and allowed for the implementation of conservative security policies. It was very effective, for nobody knew at the time that the intelligence services had themselves supported the crime.

"The tension created within the country then served to promote conservative, reactionary social and political tendencies. While this strategy was being implemented, it was necessary to protect those behind it, because evidence implicating them was being discovered. Witnesses withheld information to cover right-wing extremists,'" Judge Casson explained.[2]

Vinciguerra was a member of a private Italian fascist organization, Ordine Nuovo (New Order), which cultivated close relations with the SISMI. A fellow Ordine Nuovo member, Clemente Graziani, argued in a 1963 book that as Catholics it was their duty to fight the godless Communists by all means, including strategy of tension operations that, at first glance, might seem too brutal and immoral. The Communists also engaged in dirty tricks, he argued, and therefore would never be defeated if Ordine Nuovo for moral reasons shied away even from terrorism: "Terrorism obviously has the possibility to kill or let [be] kill[ed] also elderly people, women and children," Graziani noted. But, he continued:

"Operations of this kind have until now been considered to be contemptible and despicable crimes, and above all, useless crimes to win a conflict. The revolutionary warfare canon however subverts these humanitarian and moral principles. These forms of terrorist intimidation are today not only considered as acceptable operations, but are at times even absolutely necessary."[3]

Other Terrorist Attacks

Peteano was not an isolated tragedy in Italy, but part of a long series of terrorist attacks that had started in 1969. On December 12 of that year, four bombs exploded in public places in Rome and Milan, killing 16 and maiming and wounding 80 innocent civilians, with most of the deaths and injuries occurring in Milan's Piazza Fontana. After the massacre, according to the rules of the strategy of tension, the Italian military intelligence service SID planted bomb parts in the villa of well-known leftist editor Giangiacomo Feltrinelli in order to blame the terror on the Communists and other members of the extreme left.[4] Only years later was it revealed that Feltrinelli had absolutely nothing at all to do with the crime and that, in reality, the Italian extreme right, including Ordine Nuovo, had carried out the atrocity in order to promote the strategy of tension.

Major attacks came in 1974, a couple years after the Peteano tragedy. On May 28, a bomb exploded at an anti-fascist rally for which 3,000 had gathered in the Italian city of Brescia, killing 8 and injuring and maiming 102 people. To cover the traces of the right-wing bombers, the square was cleaned with water hoses before the investigating magistrates could reach the scene of the crime to secure the evidence. An Italian Senate commission later observed that "the investigations immediately after the massacre were characterized by such incredible mistakes that one is left speechless."[5]

Then on August 4, a bomb exploded on a train, the Rome to Munich Italicus Express, killing 12 innocent civilians and injuring and maiming 48.

The most deadly attack came in 1980, on the afternoon of Saturday, August 2, a warm and sunny day that was also the first full day of the Italian national summer holiday. A massive explosion ripped through the second class waiting room at the Bologna railway station, killing 85 people in the blast and seriously injuring and maiming a further 200.

The Purpose of the Attacks

This series of terrorist attacks discredited the Italian Communists and spread maximum fear among the Italian population, as nobody really knew what was going on and who would be killed next. It was impossible to protect the entire transportation system, let alone all public places, and thus it was clear to all security experts at the time that democratic societies would always remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks. "You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game," the neofascist Vincenzo Vinciguerra said after his arrest, explaining the strategy of tension in which he himself had participated.

"The reason was quite simple [he continued]. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the State to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the State cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened."[6]

The Gladio Revelations

Italian Judge Felice Casson, who had rediscovered the strategy of tension, wanted to know why persons within the Italian government and intelligence services had supported the criminal strategy of tension. Following the arrest of Peteano bomber Vinciguerra, he decided to dig deep. "I wanted that new light should be shed on these years of lies and mysteries, that's all. That Italy should for once know the truth."[7] In the summer of 1990, Judge Casson requested permission from Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to search through the archives of the Italian military intelligence service (SISMI) in Rome.

The permission was given and Casson made a sensational discovery: He found that under the code name "Gladio" ('sword'), a secret army existed that had been set up by the Italian military intelligence service in close collaboration with the CIA in the years after World War II. This secret army was to function as a guerrilla unit in the event of a Soviet invasion and occupation of Italy.

The data found by Casson suggested that this mysterious Gladio army was linked to NATO and, in the absence of a Soviet invasion, seems to have manipulated Italian politics in a number of covert action operations during the Cold War in order to weaken the Italian Communists. Casson confidentially informed an Italian parliamentarian commission of his far-reaching findings. The senators were greatly surprised and, on August 2, 1990, ordered the head of the Italian executive, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, "to inform the parliament within sixty days with respect to the existence, characteristics and purpose of a parallel and occult structure that is said to have operated within our secret service of the military with the aim to condition the political life of the country."[8]

On October 24, 1990, Andreotti handed a ten-page report entitled "The So-called 'Parallel SID' --The Gladio Case" to the Senate investigative commission under Senator Gualtieri. Andreotti's report confirmed that a secret army existed within the military intelligence service under the code name Gladio. Andreotti added that it was still active and operational. Unwilling to shoulder the far-reaching accusation of conspiracy alone, Andreotti insisted on the same day in front of parliament that "each chief of government has been informed of the existence of Gladio."[11] This announcement compromised, among others, former socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi (1983-1987) and above all Francesco Cossiga, a former prime minister (1978-1979), who in 1990 was acting president. The high- ranking magistrates were forced to take a stand. Craxi claimed that he had not been informed, until he was confronted with a document on Gladio that he himself had signed as prime minister. Cossiga said that he was "proud of the fact that we have kept the secret for 45 years."[9]

In his report, Andreotti confirmed the findings of Casson and explained that Gladio was the Italian branch of a secret stay-behind army that had been set up after World War II by the CIA and SIFAR [the Italian military secret service, 1949-1965 -- TML Ed. Note] as part of an international network of clandestine resistance within NATO countries to confront a potential Soviet invasion. In case of invasion, the stay-behind armies would set up a resistance movement and operate behind enemy lines. These stay-behind armies were supervised and coordinated by two secret unconventional-warfare centers of NATO named the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) and the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC). In Andreotti's words:

"Once the clandestine resistance organisation was constituted, Italy was called upon to participate... in the works of the CCP (Clandestine Planning Committee) of 1959, operating within the ambit of SHAPE [NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe]...; in 1964 the Italian intelligence service also entered the ACC (Allied Clandestine Committee)."[10]

[...]

Former heads of the Italian military intelligence were shocked that Prime Minister Andreotti had revealed what many considered to be one of its best kept secrets. General Vito Miceli, chief of the Italian military intelligence service from 1970 to 1974, protested to the Italian press: "I have gone to prison because I did not want to reveal the existence of this super secret organization. And now Andreotti comes along and tells it to Parliament!"[11]

[...]

The Role of the CIA

In the United States, the story was ignored by the mainstream media. In one of the very few articles on the subject, the Washington Post -- under the headline "CIA Organized Secret Army in Western Europe; Paramilitary Force Created to Resist Soviet Occupation" -- reported that an unnamed intelligence officer familiar with Gladio had declared that it was "solely an Italian operation. We have no control over it whatsoever.... If there are allegations that the CIA was involved in terrorist activities in Italy, they are absolute nonsense."[12]

It is extremely difficult to research and clarify the details of strategy of tension operations, as nobody is willing publicly to confirm that he or she either ordered or participated in secret terrorist operations that killed innocent civilians, spread fear among a target group, and were wrongly blamed on a political enemy.

If, as in the case of Italy, a number of different intelligence services are involved, including the Italian SISMI and the American CIA, then the matter becomes even more difficult, as the different services accuse and contradict each other. In contrast to the anonymous US intelligence officer quoted in the Washington Post, who implicitly blamed the Italians for the terror in their country, researcher Philip Willan argues that blame belongs to the US government and its intelligence community:

"It is by no means easy to determine who was responsible for day to day tactical decisions in the running of the strategy of tension. But there can be little doubt that overall responsibility for the strategy lay with the government and the intelligence services of the United States.... [Q]uestions will remain about the adoption of methods that brought violent death to hundreds of innocent victims."[13]

"During a television interview in Italy in 1990, Admiral Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA from 1977 to 1981, was unwilling to confirm this claim of Willan and strictly refused to answer any questions about Gladio. Out of respect for the victims of the numerous massacres, the Italian journalist conducting the interview insisted that Turner clarify the strategy of tension. But Turner angrily ripped off his microphone and shouted: "I said, no questions about Gladio!" whereupon the interview was over.[14]

Some retired, middle-ranking CIA officers were more outspoken about the secret strategies of the Cold War and illegal operations of the CIA. Among them was Thomas Polgar, who retired in 1981 after a 30-year career in the CIA. Questioned about the secret Gladio armies in Europe, Polgar confirmed that the stay-behind armies were coordinated by "a sort of unconventional warfare planning group linked to NATO." Polgar insisted that "each national service did it with varying degrees of intensity," adding that "in Italy in the 1970s some of the people went a little bit beyond the charter that NATO had put down."[15]

Members of the Italian parliament decided to dig deeper. Eight senators, most of whom belonged to the Democratic Left Party (PDS: Partito Democratico della Sinistra), which had replaced the Italian Communist party after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, continued to investigate Gladio and the strategy of tension.

Under the chairmanship of Senator Giovanni Pellegrini, they heard witnesses, saw documents, and presented a 326-page report in 2000.[16] The former Communists concluded that during the Cold War the secret Gladio army had, together with the CIA, the Italian military intelligence service, and selected Italian neo-fascists, fought the Italian Communists and Socialists for fear that they would betray NATO "from within." The report said: "Those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered more recently, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence."[17]

According to the far-reaching findings of the Italian Senate, the strategy of tension had thus been implemented by members of both the American and Italian national security communities, including the CIA and the SISMI, which had linked up with extremists who had then planted the bombs. General Giandelio Maletti, former head of Italian counterintelligence, confirmed this account in March 2001, just a few months before the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

At a trial of right-wing extremists accused of being involved in the 1969 massacre in Milan's Piazza Fontana, General Maletti testified: "The CIA, following the directives of its government, wanted to create an Italian nationalism capable of halting what it saw as a slide to the left, and, for this purpose, it may have made use of right-wing terrorism.... The impression was that the Americans would do anything to stop Italy from sliding to the left," the General explained, and then added: "Don't forget that Nixon was in charge and Nixon was a strange man, a very intelligent politician, but a man of rather unorthodox initiatives."[18]

[...]

NATO's Response

By declaring that NATO coordinated the secret international networks, of which Gladio was but one branch, Andreotti had put great pressure on the European headquarters of NATO in Belgium. My subsequent research confirmed that secret stay-behind armies had existed in all the countries of Western Europe, operating under different code-names: in Denmark "Absalon," in Germany "TD BDJ," in Greece "LOK," in Luxemburg "Stay-behind," in the Netherlands "I&O," in Norway "ROC," in Portugal "Aginter," in Switzerland "P26," in Turkey "CounterGuerrilla," and in Austria "OWSGV."[19]

NATO, the world's largest military alliance, reacted with confusion to the exposure of the secret network by issuing two contradictory comments. On November 5, 1990, after almost a month of silence, NATO categorically denied Andreotti's allegation concerning NATO's involvement in operation Gladio and the secret armies. Senior NATO spokesman Jean Marcotta said at SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium, that "NATO has never contemplated guerrilla war or clandestine operations; it has always concerned itself with military affairs and the defense of Allied frontiers." On November 6, however, another NATO spokesman explained that NATO's denial of the previous day had been false. This time NATO left journalists with a short communiqué only, which said that NATO never commented on matters of military secrecy and that Marcotta should not have said anything at all.[20]

[...]

In order to clarify NATO's position, I called NATO's Office of Security where Isabelle Jacobs informed me that it was unlikely that I would get any answers concerning sensitive Gladio questions, advising me to hand in such questions in writing via my embassy. Thus the Swiss mission at NATO in Brussels forwarded my Gladio questions to NATO, including: "Why has NATO senior spokesman Jean Marcotta on Monday, November 5, 1990 categorically denied any connections between NATO and Gladio, whereupon on November 7 another NATO spokesman had to declare Marcotta's statement of two days before had been false?" In May of 2001, Lee McClenny, head of NATO press and media service, offered a flat denial, saying: "I am not aware of any link between NATO and 'Operation Gladio.' Further, I can find no record that anyone named Jean Marcotta was ever a spokesman for NATO."[21]

Behind the scenes, however, NATO was forced to communicate more openly on the sensitive Gladio affair, as other sources revealed. Following the public relations debacle, NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner briefed NATO ambassadors on stay-behind behind closed doors on November 7, 1990. A story in the Spanish press, commenting on this briefing, said:

"The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), directing organ of NATO's military apparatus, coordinated the actions of Gladio, according to the revelations of Gladio Secretary General Manfred Wörner during a reunion with the NATO ambassadors of the 16 allied nations." [...]

France

[...] The revelations of Italian Prime Minister Andreotti took Socialist François Mitterrand, the president of France from 1981 to 1995, by surprise. When questioned by the French press in 1990, Mitterrand made attempts to distance himself from the French secret army, claiming it had been closed down long ago. He said: "When I arrived I didn't have much left to dissolve. There only remained a few remnants, of which I learned the existence with some surprise because everyone had forgotten about them."[22]

Italian Prime Minister Andreotti, however, did not appreciate the way in which la Grande Nation tried to play down its role in the stay-behind conspiracy. He mercilessly declared to the press that the French secret army, far from having been closed down long ago, had recently -- on October 24, 1990 -- sent representatives to a secret meeting of the NATO stay-behind council Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels. When this allegation was confirmed, it caused considerable embarrassment in Paris. Mitterrand refused any further comment.

Retired CIA officer Edward Barnes, who during the French Fourth Republic had worked for the CIA in France before leaving the country in 1956, was willing to provide some information. As the fear of the strong French communists persisted, Barnes explained, the French military intelligence service SDECE (Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage), under Henri Alexis Ribiere, set up a secret anti-communist army. "There were probably a lot of Frenchmen who wanted to be ready if something happened," Barnes argued. Recalling his own work in France, he said that a Soviet occupation was the primary motivation of the French secret army, while promoting anti-communist political activity in the country.

Terrorist Actions in Algeria

In the early 1960s, large segments of the French military and intelligence services started to disapprove strongly of President Charles de Gaulle's intention to allow Algeria, the former colony, to become an independent country. The secret army, perceiving De Gaulle's government as an enemy, evidently engaged in strategy-of-tension operations against it. Some "terrorist actions" against de Gaulle and his Algerian peace plan had been carried out by groups that included "a limited number of people" from the French stay-behind network, admitted Admiral Pierre Lacoste, former director of the French military intelligence service (DGSE, formerly called SDECE), in 1990. Lacoste, who resigned in 1985 after the DGSE blew up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior while it was protesting French atomic testing in the Pacific, argued that despite its links to terrorism, France's stay-behind program was justified by Soviet contingency plans for invasion.[23]

One officer who promoted strategy-of-tension terror tactics during this period was Yves Guerin-Serac, a Catholic militant anti-communist. A specialist in secret warfare, he had served in Korea, Vietnam, and (as a member of the French 11th Demi-Brigade Parachutiste du Choc) in the war in Algeria. French intelligence service author Roger Faligot called this unit "the iron spear of the secret war in Algeria from 1954 to 1962."[24] By 1954, 300 men of this special force had arrived in Algeria. Most of them had extensive covert action and anti-guerrilla experience, having come directly from Vietnam after France's defeat at the battle of Dien Bien Phu had led France to give up its attempt to recolonize that country. The mission of Serac and his colleagues was crystal clear: To defeat the Algerian Liberation Front (FLN) in northern Africa by all means after France's humiliating defeats in World War II and Vietnam. This effort included strategy-of-tension operations designed to discredit the Algerian liberation movement.

After the defeat of the French and Algeria's declaration of independence in 1962, the secret war did not end for Guerin-Serac, who, together with other officers, felt betrayed by the French government and decided to continue their secret war.

Serac knew exactly how a strategy-of-tension operation had to be carried out in order to discredit the communists and the members of liberation movements across the globe. In a November 1969 text, "Our Political Activity," Serac and other officers stressed that they had to infiltrate the enemy, then carry out atrocities in its name. They wrote:

"Our belief is that the first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favoring the installation of chaos in all of the regime's structures.... In our view the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state, under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities. Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu -- propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our communist adversaries.... That will create a feeling of hostility toward those who threaten the peace of each and every nation, and at the same time we must raise up as defender of the citizenry against the disintegration brought about by terrorism and subversion."[25]

Italian judge Guido Salvini, who investigated the strategy of tension, found that Serac had indeed carried out the dark strategy-of-tension plans. He wrote:

"In 1975 the group of Guerin Serac, together with the American Salby and militant French, Italian and Spanish rightists, organized a series of bomb attacks.... The bombs were planted at Algerian embassies in four different countries, France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain.... In reality the bombings were carried out by the group of Guerin Serac, who thus demonstrated his great camouflage and infiltration capabilities.... The bomb in front of the Algerian embassy in Frankfurt did not blow up, and was meticulously analyzed by the German police.... [I]t is important to notice the complex fabrication of the bomb. It contained C4, an explosive exclusively used by the US forces, which has never been used in any of the anarchist bombings."[26]

Notes

1. Hugh O'Shaughnessy, "Gladio: Europe's Best Kept Secret," Observer 7 June 1992.

2. Newsnight, BBC1 4 April 1991.

3. Quoted in Senato della Repubblica: Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabilii delle stragi: Il terrorismo, le stragi ed il contesto storico politico (Rome: Redatta dal presidente della Commissione, Senatore Giovanni Pellegrin, 1995) 261.

4. Senato della Repubblica 157.

5. Senato della Repubblica 220.

6. Newsnight, BBC1 4 April 1991.

7. Observer 18 November 1990.

8. Mario Coglitore, ed., La Notte dei Gladiatori. Omissioni e silenzi della Repubblica (Padua, 1992) 131.

9. Reuters 12 November 1990.

10. Franco Ferraresi, "A Secret Structure Codenamed Gladio," Italian Politics: A Review 1992:30. Ferraresi quotes directly from the document that Andreotti handed over to the parliamentary commission. The Italian daily L'Unita published the document in a special edition on 14 November 1990. It is also contained in Jean Francois Brozzu-Gentile, L'affaire Gladio (Paris: Editions Albin Michel, 1994).

11. Italian political magazine Europeo 16 November 1990. Miceli had indeed been sentenced to go to prison in the 1970s and spent six months in a military hospital. In 1974 the Italian investigating judge, Giovanni Tamburino, in the course of his investigation into right-wing terrorism in Italy, had taken the unprecedented step of arresting General Miceli on the charge of "promoting, setting up, and organizing, together with others, a secret association of military and civilians aimed at provoking an armed insurrection to bring about an illegal change in the constitution of the state and the form of government." (See also the British political magazine Statewatch January 1991.) During his trial in November of 1974, Miceli, previously responsible for the NATO Security Office, angrily confirmed that a special unit did indeed exist within the military secret service, SID, but that he was not to blame: "A Super SID on my orders? Of course! But I have not organized it myself to make a coup d'état. This was the United States and NATO who asked me to do it!" (See also Brozzu-Gentile 105.) It was the end of his career in the Italian military secret service. After his time in prison, he became a parliamentarian in 1976 and for the rest of his life enjoyed parliamentary immunity from prosecution as deputy of the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI). Reelected twice, he resigned in 1987 on grounds of ill health and died three years later.

12. Washington Post 14 November 1990. The only other article by the Post that features the keyword "Gladio" appeared on 8 August 1993. A comparison with a leading British newspaper, the Guardian, which had 39 articles on Gladio during the same period, indicates how poorly the Gladio phenomenon was covered in the US press.

13. Philip P. Willan, Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy (London: Constable, 1991) 28.

14. Independent 1 December 1990.

15. Jonathan Kwitny, "The CIA's Secret Armies in Europe," Nation 6 April 1992: 445.

16. Senato della Repubblica: Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabiliy delle stragi: Stragi e terrorismo in Italia dal dopoguerra al 1974. Relazione del Gruppo Democratici di Sinistra l'Ulivo (Rome, June 2000). Quoted as "Italian Senate 2000 report on Gladio and the massacres."

17. Quoted in Philip Willan: "US 'Supported Anti-left Terror in Italy.' Report Claims Washington Used a Strategy of Tension in the Cold War to Stabilize the Centre-Right," Guardian 24 June 2000.

18. Philip Willan, "Terrorists 'Helped by CIA' to Stop Rise of Left in Italy," Guardian 26 March 2001. Willan, an expert on US covert action in Italy, published the very valuable book Puppetmasters.

19. See Daniele Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass, 2005).

20. European 9 November 1990. It seems that the NATO official who issued the correction was Robert Stratford. Cf. Regine Igel, Andreotti: Politik zwischen Geheimdienst und Mafia (Munich: Herbig Verlag, 1997) 343.

21. Letter of Lee McClenny, NATO head of press and media, to the author, dated 2 May 2001.

22. Quoted in Brozzu-Gentile 141. Also quoted by the Associated Press 13 November 1990.

23. Kwitny, "The CIA's Secret Armies in Europe" 446, 447.

24. Roger Faligot and Pascal Krop, La Piscine: Les Services Secrets Francais 1944 -- 1984 (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1985) 165.

25. Quoted in Stuart Christie, Stefano Delle Chiaie (London: Anarchy Publications, 1984) 32. Also in Lobster (October 1989) 18. This document was allegedly found in the former office of Guerain-Serac after the Portuguese revolution of 1974.

26. Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabili delle stragi. 9th session, 12 February 1997, see here.

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In the News
Venezuela

Commemorations on Second Anniversary of
Death of Hugo Chávez


Two years after the death of Venezuelan president and Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez Frías on March 5, 2013, ceremonies and rallies throughout Venezuela and meetings and ceremonies around the world marked the anniversary.

Starting at midday, rallies were held in most major cities across Venezuela, including the capital Caracas where the city's Plaza Bolivar hosted the largest rally.

The other major event was held at 4:45 pm -- the hour of Chávez' passing -- at the Cuartel de la Montaña (Mountain Barracks), a military museum which is now a mausoleum for Chávez's remains. The events in Caracas were attended by many dignitaries and foreign delegations and heads of state from around the world.



"Today is a day full of emotions, of feelings, of memories. Two years in which we had to accept, and live through, the harshest reality of our generation and future generations," President Nicolás Maduro said at Plaza Bolivar. He referred to Chávez as "the greatest leader Venezuela has had after Simon Bolivar" and said he "sacrificed his life for the people, by the people, for the life of all of us," Maduro said.

Maduro thanked the Venezuelan people for the unconditional support they have given in the last two years since Chávez died. He specifically referred to their support during the latest coup attempt by right-wing sectors.

"We should be proud of the renewed, just, profound, and passionate anti-imperialism that was brought to us by Hugo Chávez," Maduro said.

"We tell the imperialist North and pro-imperialist right: Venezuela has declared itself an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist people," said Maduro, recalling that Venezuelans regained their dignity, sovereignty and independence thanks to Comandante Chávez.

"[Chávez] knew it was going to be a tough, fierce battle," said Maduro and called on the people to remain vigilant and to "fight, fight, fight imperialism."

President Maduro pointed out the transparency and openness of the Bolivarian Revolution, which is founded on the precepts of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution -- the content of which the people were consulted on for the first time in Venezuelan history and it was passed by open and democratic elections -- and the National Plan (Plan de la Patria) 2013-2019. "Our only plan is the Constitution, is the Plan de la Patria [...] this is our guide, here's all you have to do," stressed the President.

By way of contrast, he pointed to the reactionary opposition, which only follows a script of nationwide violence as dictated by the U.S. Empire, and has no positive ideas for the country. Maduro said that the opposition forces have not contributed to development and peace in the country. Quite the contrary -- their contribution has been violence, guarimbas, coup attempts, betrayal of the will and interests of the people, economic and psychological warfare and destabilization.

Maduro pointed out that previous oligarchic forces have also acted in this way. He recalled that throughout the twentieth century, Venezuela endured at least 55 years of dictatorships promoted and supported by imperialism, and another 43 years of what the right-wing forces called "representative bourgeois democracy" characterized by political killings, disappearances, looting of the nation's wealth and electoral fraud.

Today, the battle is still against those that betrayed the hopes of the people in the past, he stated. Reviewing the country's history, it is evident that those who raised the flags of betrayal in the past are the same people who are trying to seize power by undemocratic means.

Maduro stated that two years after the physical departure of Comandante Chávez, the Venezuelan people are more politically and ideologically mature as a result of their experience organizing ever more people. He said, "we are a more spiritually mature people because we have embraced the legacy of Hugo Chávez to build socialism."

He called on the people to continue their fidelity to the Bolivarian Revolution, the legacy of Commandante Chávez and the Bolivarian ideals he espoused. Given the imperialist threats, the people must ensure another coup that like of April 11, 2002 -- carried out by the bourgeoisie and supported and directed by the U.S. government -- is never again permitted to take place.

On this occasion, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) was present at the ceremony in Ottawa to express its revolutionary solidarity with the people of Venezuela and greatest admiration for their leader Hugo Chávez and all his achievements. The profound social love of Hugo Chávez is embodied in the Bolivarian nation-building project that puts the people's well-being and dignity in first place, and he stood for the same for the peoples everywhere.

CPC(M-L) pledges to make every effort to make sure these achievements are defended in Canada itself from where reactionary forces are siding with those in Venezuela, interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs to stir up counter-revolution on the basis of black ops and coups d'etat.  

As the Ambassador of Venezuela said at the ceremony in Ottawa commemorating the second anniversary of Hugo Chávez's death:

"Taking words from the revolutionary Venezuelan composer, Ali Primera, we can say, 'Those who die for life cannot be called dead and from this moment it is forbidden to weep over them.' Chávez lives in our hearts and his sons and daughters celebrate his legacy, the seed he planted, and feel the greatest pride in having the blood of this Venezuelan son of Bolivar, son of the great homeland, son of the Socialist homeland .... Chávez, you gave us the greatest of gifts, a free and sovereign homeland, a homeland for our daughters and sons. Gracias Comandante Chávez! Hasta la victoria siempre!"

Second Anniversary of Chávez Death Commemorated in Canada

Ottawa




Toronto


Vancouver


(With files from Agencia Venezolano de Noticias, TeleSur. Photos: AVN, J. Faria/PSUV, Venezuelan Embassy, Venezuelan Consulates in Vancouver and Montreal, M. Gorgzadeh)

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Anti-Imperialist Mobilization in Venezuela
Defends Sovereignty


A march converges on Miraflores Palace for a mass anti-imperialist rally, Caracas, Venezuela, February 28, 2015. (AVN)

On February 28, thousands of people marched in Caracas to express their opposition to the interference of the United States in Venezuela's internal affairs. The day's events also commemorated the February 1989 events known as the Caracazo, the deadly repression of the people carried out by the corrupt neo-liberal government of Carlos Andres Perez.

President Nicolás Maduro made an impassioned speech at Miraflores Palace in which, amongst other things, he announced that a number of figures including George W Bush and Dick Cheney would be denied visas to visit Venezuela because they have committed human rights violations. "It is an anti-terrorist list," he said. In his speech the president also called for a "global rebellion against U.S. imperialism."

The march was a direct response to a string of further U.S. sanctions enacted against the Venezuelan government in early February and to what Maduro characterized as a "moment of increased aggression" from the Obama administration.

"The U.S. thinks it is the boss, the police of the world. Something happens somewhere, let's say in Asia, and a spokesperson for the U.S. comes out saying that the U.S. government thinks that such and such a government shouldn't do such and such a thing in Asia. Are we going to accept a global government? Enough of imperialism in the world!" Maduro said.

The president also announced new diplomatic measures against the U.S. which include the implementation of visa requirements for all U.S. citizens visiting Venezuela. "They must pay what Venezuelans pay when they want to travel to the United States," he said.


President Maduro addresses February 28, 2015 rally.

The new measures will see the number of staff at the U.S. embassy in Caracas significantly reduced and U.S. representatives obliged to inform Venezuelan authorities of any meetings that they intend to hold. The U.S. diplomatic mission currently has more than 100 employees, compared to the 17 who work at Venezuela's embassy in Washington, DC. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has explained that the U.S. diplomatic mission will be obliged to reduce its staffing numbers to 17 over the next two weeks.

Maduro said the changes are designed to protect Venezuelans after a number of U.S. citizens were discovered taking part in acts of espionage by Venezuelan authorities.

A recent case is the pilot of a U.S. airplane who was stopped and questioned by border authorities the previous week, venezuelanalysis.com reports. A number of U.S. citizens were also detained last year for their participation in the armed barricades or guarimbas which sought to bring down the government and led to the deaths of at least 43 Venezuelans.

Despite the latest measures, Maduro said, "You can count on the fact that the people of Bolivar respect the people of the U.S., and recognize in you a fraternal people; these decisions are against the imperialist elite."

Venezuelanalysis.com reports that current opinion polls suggest "significant support amongst the population for government actions against the U.S. According to a February poll conducted by opposition aligned think tank, Hinterlaces, 92% of Venezuelans oppose any kind of foreign intervention while 62% think that the U.S. should not be allowed to pass judgement on the country's internal affairs."

Just a few weeks ago, the Obama administration also approved increased funding for Venezuelan opposition groups and non-governmental organizations, Venezuelanalysis.com points out.

(Rachael Boothroyd, Venezuelanalysis.com, March 2, 2015)

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Coming Events

Ottawa
Denounce Economic and Political War Against Venezuela
Wednesday, March 11 -- 4:30-5:30 pm
Prime Minister's Office, Corner of Elgin and Wellington
Organized by: Hugo Chavez Peoples' Defence Front
For information: Facebook

Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela:
The Recent Coup Attempt and Economic War
Thursday, March 12 -- 7:00 pm
Speakers
Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernández,
Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Canada
Dr. George Sorger, Former Professor of Biology, McMaster University
Sam Heaton, Independent Journalist
Morisset Hall (MRT), Room 221, University of Ottawa, 65 University
For information: Facebook

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Cuba

Fidel Meets the Cuban Five

On February 28, the Cuban leader received the five anti-terrorist Cuban heroes and conversed about the many years of injustice they suffered. The reflections of Fidel about that meeting follow:

I received them on Saturday, February 28, 73 days after they stepped foot on Cuban soil. Three of them had served 15 long years of their youth breathing in the damp, foul smelling, repugnant air of yankee prison cells, after being convicted by venal judges. The other two, who also attempted to stop the empire's criminal plans against their homeland, were also sentenced to various years of brutal imprisonment.

The very same investigating bodies, completely devoid of the most basic sense of justice, participated in their inhumane incarceration.

Cuban intelligence services had absolutely no need to track the movements of a single U.S. military team, as they could observe from space everything that moved on our planet through the Lourdes Radio Electronic Exploration Centre, located to the south of the Cuban capital. This center was able to detect any moving object thousands of miles from our country.

The Five anti-terrorist Heroes, who never did any harm to the United States, worked to anticipate and prevent terrorist acts against our people, organized by U.S. intelligence agencies which the world knows more than enough about.

None of the Five Heroes carried out their work in search of applause, awards or glory. They received their honorific titles because they didn't seek them out. They, their wives, parents, children, siblings and fellow citizens, we all have the legitimate right to feel proud.

In July 1953, when we attacked the Moncada barracks, I was 26 years old and had far less experience than that which they demonstrated. If they were in the U.S. it wasn't to harm that country, or take revenge for the crimes being organized there and the explosives that were being stockpiled to be used against our country. Attempting to stop this was absolutely legitimate.

The first thing they did upon arrival was greet their families, friends and people, without neglecting for a minute the rigorous health checkup.

I was happy for hours yesterday. I heard amazing tales of heroism from the group presided by Gerardo and supported by them all, including the painter and poet, whom I met while he was building one of his works in the Santiago de Cuba airfield. And their wives? Their sons and daughters? Sisters and mothers? Was I not also going to receive them? Well, their return and joy must also be celebrated with the family!

Yesterday, I immediately wanted to converse with the Five Heroes. For five hours this is what we did. Fortunately, yesterday I also had enough time to request that they invest part of their immense prestige in something that will be extremely useful for our people.

Fidel Castro Ruz
March 1, 2015
10:12 p.m.

(Granma International, Photos: Estudio Revolucion )

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On the Talks to Restore Diplomatic Relations
Between Cuba and the U.S.

The second round of face-to-face talks between diplomats from Cuba and the United States concluded on February 27, with progress made toward implementing measures announced by Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama on December 17, 2014.

The meeting took place at the Department of State in the U.S. capital with the aim of opening the way toward restoring relations and the opening of embassies, taking place in a "respectful and professional climate," according to Josefina Vidal, Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) Director General for the United States and head of the Cuban delegation.

"We had a good meeting and made some progress."

Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and the U.S. host, said that for her part, they had seen, "the type of constructive exchange that advances us toward a more productive diplomatic relationship."

"In an open, honest, and sometimes challenging yet always respectful conversation, we addressed the requirements of each side and the differences we identified in our first discussion in Havana a month ago, and we made meaningful progress towards resolving them," she added.

Obstacles on the Path Forward

The Cuban delegation reiterated in their exchanges the importance of finding a necessary solution to a set of questions in order to create an appropriate context for the final steps toward the restoration of diplomatic relations.


Josefina Vidal (centre) and the
Cuban delegation.

Vidal mentioned in particular the removal of Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring international terrorism and the provision of financial services to the island's mission in Washington, which for more than a year has lacked banking services.

Regarding the first issue, the Cuban diplomat explained that there are no preconditions, but that this is an issue to be resolved in the process towards restoring diplomatic relations.

"For us it would be difficult to explain that ties have been restored while Cuba remains on that list, where we think we should never have been placed," she added. "It's a question of adjusting to reality and doing justice."

"From a moral, ethical standpoint, it is very important to address this issue, so that when we restore relations we are initiating a truly new phase in relations between Cuba and the United States on different terms, on solid bases, that really represent a qualitative change in the type of relationship that over these past days we have been discussing," she said.

Her U.S. counterpart explained that for the State Department, the restoration of diplomatic ties and the reviewing of the unilaterally drawn-up list, are separate issues.

"We understand and I appreciated the fact that the Cuban delegation views this as a priority. We view it as important to complete our review, which is still underway, and we have from the beginning believed that we need to do that as quickly as possible," Jacobson stated.

With regard to banking services, she added that U.S. diplomats had been working to resolve this issue even before the announcement of December 17. However, they have not yet found a solution.

Building New Bridges

Both parties explained that during the meeting, information was exchanged regarding bilateral visits and technical meetings to be held in the coming weeks on topics such as civil aviation, human trafficking, telecommunications, immigration fraud prevention and regulatory changes that modify the implementation of the blockade.

Jacobson said the agenda for the coming weeks and months is a sign of the spirit of exchange and a measure of "the dynamism and the movement in the relationship."

The head of the Cuban delegation explained that the range of issues that have been addressed at a technical level for nearly three years will expand.

"We're going to have new meetings which we have not undertaken before," she explained, noting that an exchange at an official level on Information and Telecommunications between representatives of the State Department and Cuban government agencies will be held.

She also said that for the first time the issue of the protection of marine protected areas, a matter of great importance to both sides due to their shared interest in environmental conservation, will be addressed by experts.

Vidal confirmed that the views of both parties regarding the issue of human rights will be addressed. "Cuba had already proposed in July last year to the government of the United States that we begin to have a civilized, respectful, reciprocal conversation" about the topic, she recalled.

Jacobson also referred to the importance of dialogue on this issue, which she described as, "one of the most challenging, most difficult perhaps, but most important dialogues that we have to come up with."

The Cuban diplomat also responded to a question about the possibility of extraditing people between Cuba and the United States.

She clarified that this point has been discussed many times in the past. She recalled that the two countries signed a treaty on the topic in 1906.

"That extradition treaty, after 1959, was no longer respected when Cuba was asking the U.S. to extradite members of the Cuban dictatorship who were responsible for terrible crimes," she said. "It is still in force, but does not work."

She also stated that the document itself had a clause such that it would not apply in cases involving political activities. "Therefore, Cuba has legitimately given political asylum to a small group of U.S. citizens, because we have reason to believe that they deserve this and that is how far we've gone. And when one grants political asylum then you can not get into these types of discussions," she said.

The Next Steps

Vidal was optimistic at all times that in the near future the parties will see results that will allow for the final steps toward the restoration of diplomatic relations and the fixing of a date for the opening of embassies.

Speaking to the Cuban press and responding to a question from Granma, she explained that the Vienna Convention is not restrictive regarding how to establish diplomatic ties, nor is this directly linked to the immediate opening of a diplomatic mission.

The Cuban official outlined the different scenarios presented in the specific case of Cuba and the United States, where the issue of the list of countries sponsoring terrorism influences the restoration of relations, and the absence of banking services affects the opening of an embassy.

In this sense, she did not rule out completely the possibility that these two steps will not occur simultaneously.


Roberta Jacobson

Meanwhile, Roberta Jacobson expressed her hope that both countries have embassies before the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for early April in Panama.

"I certainly think that, with the kind of cooperation that we had today, I certainly leave those conversations today optimistic," she said, adding that, "The summit is a good opportunity if we can get things done in time."

The Cuban delegation ratified their willingness to continue the dialogue on the basis of respect, sovereign equality and reciprocity.

Vidal noted that a date for the next meeting between the two has not yet been set, but that they had agreed to maintain "constant communication" over the coming days and weeks to continue to exchange on the topics discussed.

For her part, Jacobson stressed the importance of these high-level personal exchanges. "Obviously, we do have interests sections in each other's countries and can have communications without face-to-face meetings. But we have also, in these last two meetings, I think, really solidified the importance of face-to-face diplomacy."

"...where you have so much to overcome and where you have differences. The ability to have these kinds of very frank conversations is a key variable," she added.

Jacobson noted that she was impressed with "the seriousness of the conversation. I was impressed with the level of frankness between our two delegations to put on the table all of the differences and think creatively about how to overcome some of them -- in our case, not compromising on our values."

"Today's discussion was an important step in that direction. I look forward to continuing my discussions with Director General Vidal," she emphasized.

"We trust that between our two countries we can establish civilized relations of coexistence and be able to recognize and respect our differences to, as neighbors, identify areas of mutual interest to cooperate for the benefit of our countries, the region and the world," Vidal concluded.

(March 4, 2015)

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Coming Events

Halifax
Cuba Today and Tomorrow
Exploring the Future of the Cuban Revolution
Wednesday, March 11 -- 7:00 pm
Public Lecture by
H.E. Julio Garmendia Peña, Cuba's Ambassador to Canada
Rm 105, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University,
6061 University Ave
Organized by: Nova Scotia Cuba Association and Canadian Network on Cuba

Toronto
The Great Thaw: Cuban/American Relations
Moving Towards Normalization
Wednesday, March 11 -- 6:30 pm
Speakers
Cuban Consul General Mr. Javier Dómokos Ruiz
& Cuba Expert Keith Bolender, Journalist and Writer
Samara, 33 Prince Arthur Avenue (near Bedford exit, St George subway)
Organized by: Canadian International Council, Toronto Branch
For information:  416-590-0630

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28th Meeting of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister


UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva, Switzerland, March 2, 2015.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the High Level Segment of the Twenty Eighth Session of the Human Rights Council. Geneva, Switzerland, March 2, 2015.

Mr. President:

The 842 million persons who suffer hunger in the world, the 774 million of illiterate adults and the 6 million children who die every year of preventable diseases -- those who, as a result of an exclusive, unjust and unequal international order, are not part of the particular vision that the countries of the North have about human rights and fundamental freedoms -- should be allowed to have a say in this room.

Those citizens who live in the pockets of poverty that exist in the industrialized world; the workers and students who are victims of the austerity programs; those who have lost their houses; the immigrants who suffer discrimination and xenophobia; those who suffer repression and police brutality and the children and youths without food, medical services or quality education should also be allowed to have a say.

Facts have indicated the convenience of resorting to a serious discussion, instead of a mere political rhetoric, about the increasing loss of legitimacy of political systems and parties, the collapse of electoral systems with high rates of abstentions, built upon the financial contributions and the manipulation of the media; and political corruption, particularly in some developed countries.

In our country, more than two thousand organizations and associations of an infinite diversity contribute very actively to the economic, social and cultural life. Since there is no time to engage in a debate about the nature of Civil Society and its relation with the State -- something that has been very much manipulated today by political elites with the purpose of cooption -- it will be necessary to focus on what is essential, and that is, in our opinion, the participation of the people in the Governments' decision-making processes, that is to say, in the Government itself, as was described by Lincoln, which has been the experience of the Cuban Revolution.

With a tradition of popular consultations that had its climax during a referendum called to approve the Constitution in force -- which was adopted by an overwhelming majority -- in the year 2011, our people approved the economic and social program that is currently being implemented after a mass discussion, the introduction of 400,000 amendments and the modification of two-thirds of the original text. More recently a new Labor Code was discussed following this same mechanism.


Ninth Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women, March 7-8, 2014, affirms its commitment to Cuba's leadership and economic model and reforms.

We have seen with great concern that some of the most important western economies show the lowest unionization rates -- hardly 8 to 12 per cent of workers. Not all of them have ratified Convention 87 of the International Labor Organization, related to Freedom of Association [and Protection of the Right to Organise], or Convention 98 of the same organization referred to as the protection of the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention.

It is a well-known fact that, for example, in those cases, labor laws and jurisprudence establish the laying-off of workers engaged in legal strikes; State laws severely restrict the right to strike for broad categories of workers; the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are restricted in private universities. It is also well known that there are State laws that prohibit the negotiation of collective agreements in the public sector with associations made up by the worst-paid workers; and that there are judicial decisions which violate the right to freedom of association and prevent the access of illegal workers to a compensation for unlawful layoffs.

In our case, almost all workers -- including those who work in small private businesses -- are unionized and protected by collective agreements. There are union representatives in the Council of Ministers as well as in the ministerial and corporate organs. In 1938, the workers' movement in Cuba managed to found a unitary Workers' Central, which today encompasses as many as 17 different unions and thousands of other grassroots organizations.

I would like to suggest to the Human Rights Council to hold discussions and expand international cooperation on these issues.

We hope that in the future summits of the G-7, NATO, the European Union, OSCE, IMF, the World Bank, the Central European Bank, and in particular the Climate Change Summit in Paris, Civil Society is ensured broad access and requested to make its contributions; that its right to demonstrate is guaranteed and that no physical barriers or police repression are put against it, as has been frequently the case in the past.

It will be useful that the so-called Indignants or Occupy Wall Street movements would also have a well-deserved presence in those fora.

The Republic of Cuba also has grave concerns, and is fully willing to engage in a debate and cooperation on the democratization of information and cyberspace. The fact that 7 gigantic private corporations control 65 per cent of the information that circulates around the planet today is indeed alarming. The countries of the South have hardly any participation in the generation of content. The discussions held about Internet governance have not led to any concrete results when it comes to the democratization of this tool. The adoption of unilateral coercive measures in the field of information, telecommunications and information sciences should be proscribed.

It becomes indispensable to adopt urgent and effective measures to prevent the militarization of cyberspace and the launching of cyber-attacks through the illegal and covert use of systems based in third countries. The suggestion that cyber-attacks should be responded to with the use of conventional weapons is not acceptable, for this would undermine international peace and security.

The changes in the national defense and security doctrines of some States as well as of NATO, with emphasis in non-conventional wars or the so-called fourth generation wars, which have been applied in recent conflicts all the way from the Middle East to Europe, have led to the destruction of States and nations, seriously endangered regional and international peace and security and undermined the efforts made to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The tendency to use the Human Rights Council to record new conflicts in the agenda of the Security Council and initiate legal processes at the International Criminal Court with the purpose of pursuing political and military objectives is very serious and dangerous.

Mr. President:

We support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to a State of their own, on the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. The United Nations General Assembly should act with resolve and guarantee, without further delay, the full membership of Palestine. The supply of weapons and the veto in the Security Council which ensure the impunity of the crimes committed by Israel, particularly in Gaza, should come to an end.


Rally in Havana, January 14, 2009. Sign at right reads: "Israel, out of Gaza!"

We reiterate our strong condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustifiable unilateral sanctions imposed against the sister nation of Venezuela and the continued foreign interference with the purpose of creating a climate of instability in that sister nation. We ratify our firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate Government headed by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Mr. President:

Cuba upholds its commitment to a genuine international cooperation based on the indivisibility of human rights, non-selectivity and non-politicization. We likewise uphold our commitment to the struggle for the establishment of a more just, democratic and equitable international order that would remove the obstacles that hamper all national efforts that are made to guarantee the exercise of all human rights.

We maintain a high level of cooperation and interaction with the procedures and mechanisms of the United Nations when it comes to universal human rights and a positive dialogue with the organs created by virtue of international treaties.

It is in that spirit that we are conveying an invitation to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons so that they pay a visit to our country.

We have also reached an agreement with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to resume the High Level Bilateral Political Dialogue and we will continue to engage, based on the previously agreed reciprocity, sovereign equality, mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and respect for the legal systems of the parties involved, in the negotiation of a Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba.

Aware of the fact that we have profound differences with the U.S. Government in terms of political systems, democracy, human rights and International Law, and with an unwavering determination that both countries are able to establish a civilized relationship, despite those differences, we suggested, in July last year, to hold a mutually respectful bilateral dialogue on the basis of reciprocity. In recent days the State Department announced its acceptance and such dialogue will be initiated in the next few weeks.

Cuba will attend that dialogue in a constructive spirit, deeply attached to its convictions, ready to engage in an international cooperation, and will adopt a respectful and transparent attitude when expressing its serious concerns about what is going on in the United States with regard to human rights.

Cuba believes that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against it is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans.

And so it will continue to address this issue, for as long as it exists, both in this Council and at the United Nations General Assembly, through the presentation of the corresponding resolution. In expressing to the nations represented here our profound gratitude over their continued support, I am likewise requesting from you to renew that same support through your vote and your participation in the sessions that will take place during the fall this year.

The Cuban Government appreciates the statement made by President Barack Obama when he acknowledged that the blockade was harmful to the Cuban people and expressed his willingness to engage the Congress of his country with the purpose of eliminating it.

I am grateful about the important and timely Special Declarations adopted at the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and at the African Union Summit that was held at the end of the month of January this year, which urged the lifting of the blockade and that the U.S. President resorts to his ample executive powers to substantially modify its implementation with the purpose of eliminating it.

Mr. President:

The Universal Periodic Review has been validated as a useful mechanism to support international cooperation. We should not allow the reinstatement of practices such as the political persecution against the countries of the South with the aim of infringing upon their sovereign rights, while the crimes and tortures that were being committed in Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Naval Base -- a territory that has been usurped from my country -- were kept under cover, which discredited and caused the implosion of the old Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. President:

Despite its deficiencies and difficulties, Cuba has shared and will continue to share its achievements and experience with other nations, with which we have made a selfless contribution to the exercise of human rights by other peoples of the world.

In this regard, thanks to the cooperation project known as "Operation Miracle," 3.4 million persons from 34 countries have undergone eye surgery free of charge. Likewise, 9 million persons have already graduated from the literacy program "Yes, I Can," and 1.113 million persons have graduated from the follow-up program "Yes, I Can Continue."

Today, more than 51,000 Cuban health cooperation workers are offering their services in 67 countries of the world.

We will continue offering our cooperation in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa. More than 250 voluntary and specialized health cooperation workers of the "Henry Reeve" medical brigade are taking part in this struggle in the most affected regions. Another 4,000 Cuban health cooperation workers are participating in the prevention program that is being implemented in 32 African countries.

Mr. President:

The Cuban Revolution will continue to defend, tirelessly and with the same determination, the just causes, knowing that Homeland is Humanity.

On the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of the United Nations, the Principles and Purposes that were enshrined in the Charter and supported its creation are more valid than ever. As was recently stated by President Raúl Castro Ruz: "We will never renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty. We will not accept any pressure regarding our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks."

Thank you, very much.

(MinREX. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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