CubaNews notes Thursday July 17, 2003

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Thu Jul 17 09:20:32 MDT 2003

CUBANEWS NOTES Thursday July 17, 2003
by Walter Lippmann, Moderator

Again we have a great deal of information to share
with you today, one of which is of particular and
surprising interest.

Nelson Valdes, sociologist, author and long-time
student of Cuban affairs, has just returned from a
two month visit to the island. Later today he will be
releasing the official response, from the National
Assembly of Peoples' Power, the legislature of the
island, to the Varela Project. As soon as this is
available, it will be sent out, in its original Spanish.

Nelson's announcement, from the Cuba-L service,
was received yesterday, Wednesday July 16:

"Tomorrow, July 17th, Cuba-L will distribute the
formal and official reply that the Cuban National
Assembly gave to Oswaldo Paya on the Varela
Project. The document was delivered through
the Cuban postal service to Oswaldo Paya's
home last year. Paya has refused to make
the document known."

Undoubtedly, this document will be discussed
very widely, though it may well NOT be shared
in complete form. It's long been striking how
the Varela Project, so widely reported and so
widely supported by the US government and
the US media, has NOT been widely published
in complete form. It seems curious that so
many favorable words have been written on
this document whose text is so little known.

CubaNews list received the complete text of
the Varela Project petition, along with the
cover letter accompanying it when it was first
submitted to the National Assembly a year ago.

We sent it out as soon as it became available
so readers could study it for themselves. The
document remains available at the CubaNews
FILES section, and will be re-sent along with
the National Assembly's response, later today.

Its delivery was timed to coincide with, and to
draw attention from, President Carter's visit to
Cuba. You'll also recall that Carter spoke of it
favorably to the Cuban people in his live talk
on Cuban television, which was then printed,
in full, in the Cuban newspapers subsequently.

In addition to this, we have received lots of news
and information on the two recent hijacking tries
here on the island. Media reports from the US
already suggest that the Geocuba boat may not
be considered, by the US, to be a hijacking, but
"merely" a stolen boat. Since such stolen or such
hijacked property has in the past been seized by
US authorities and used to pay off debts approved
by US courts, a lot remains to be seen before this
latest round of criminal activities plays out to the
last step. Facts are stubborn things, but you've
got to look widely and dig deeply to find them.

Tuesday's national conference on the right to
travel went virtually unreported in the national
media. Nothing appeared in the NYT, WSJ,
MH, Sun-Sentinel, Washington Times, etc.
The only note I saw was in the San Jose
Mercury, published in California, and which
was written by a Miami Herald reported and
then not published in the Miami Herald.

Similarly, about the latest hijacking, we need
to read widely and, in the case of the Herald,
to note carefully what they OMIT to publish.

Today's edition of the daily GRANMA covers a
wide range of issues, including the continuing
deaths of US occupation soldiers in Iraq and a
wide range of international issues. It also runs a
an enthusiastic review of Roman Polanski's new
film THE PIANIST, by regular commentator
Rolando Betancourt. Read that in Spanish:

Celia Cruz, the famous salsa star has died at the
age of 77. Her death had been prematurely and
repeatedly reported in the Cuban exile media in
recent years. She was a staunch opponent of
the Cuban Revolution, but her death is reported
in the Cuban media today with a short note in
today's Granma. She's never been a particular
favorite of mine, but I imagine in time there will
be a longer appreciation of her life published in
the Cuban media as well. Granma's note:
Falleció Celia Cruz

A los 78 años de edad falleció, víctima de un
tumor cerebral en la ciudad norteamericana
de Nueva Jersey, Celia Cruz, importante
intérprete cubana, que popularizó la música
de nuestro país en Estados Unidos.

Durante las últimas cuatro décadas se
mantuvo sistemáticamente activa en las
campañas contra la Revolución Cubana
generadas desde Estados Unidos, por lo
que fue utilizada como ícono por el enclave
contrarrevolucionario del Sur de la Florida.

Cuba, despite its small geographical size,
continues to play a political role infinitely
greater than its numerical size might imply.

So many issues related to Cuba today
are of importance, first of all to Cuba, and
then to the people of the United States,
whose own civil rights and liberties are
bound up with US policy toward Cuba.

Washington has maintained the travel
ban for so many years, denying people
from the US the right to see Cuba for
themselves (warts and all). That's why
we need to be well-informed about the
reality of Cuba, which is the goal of my
work with CubaNews list.

If you know others who are interested in
Cuba, please tell them about CubaNews
and urge them to subscribe. Lots of hard
work goes into this list.

Those who don't want to receive blizzards
of messages can get this information in a
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and more selective list for those who don't
need or want to receive everything. Write
to me if you're interested in that.

Kind words from readers keep coming and
I'm grateful to each of you who write in.

In solidarity,

Walter Lippmann

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