[Marxism] CubaNews notes from Los Angeles

Michael Perelman michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Sat Jul 24 17:06:09 MDT 2004

this is one your best.

On Sat, Jul 24, 2004 at 01:29:56PM -0700, Walter Lippmann wrote:
> by Walter Lippmann
> After over a month on the road, I returned to Los Angeles on
> Tuesday morning of this week. The Pastors for Peace 15th
> Friendshipment Caravan successfully breached Washington's
> blockade of Cuba, bringing 126 tons of humanitarian aid to
> the revolutionary island. Washington's escalated propaganda
> and practical attacks on the island failed to deter the Rev.
> Lucius Walker and over 120 Caravanistas from their mission.
> Traveling by auto, ferry, and traditional yellow school bus,
> I started in from Victoria, British Colombia and proceeded
> down the west coast of the United States to Los Angeles, and 
> then east to McAllen, Texas. There were three days of classes
> about Cuba and non-violent civil disobedience tactics after
> which we drove across the border, survived an inspection by
> the Customs and Border Patrol, and proceeded through Mexico
> to Cuba for a ten-day visit. We returned by the same route
> to the United States where we survived the most invasive US
> government inspections which the caravan has experienced in
> its history, after which participants went home.
> I got back to my home here in Los Angeles, California early
> on the morning of Tuesday, July 22, feeling exhilarated and
> exhausted. That's why I haven't sent out any materials since
> returning until now. I'm still pretty much wiped out by the
> experience, but am beginning at last to recover my strength.
> Frankly, I cannot remember any time in my life where I've
> been in so many different places within a single month.
> Imagine over a month away from home, mostly not knowing in
> the morning where I'd sleep that evening? Presenting a look
> at the Bush administration's escalating moves against Cuba,
> spending ten days filled with activities in the Cuban capital,
> getting no exercise and in numerous ways stepping out of my
> normal daily life, and you can see why I've needed a bit of 
> time off. 
> During this time, in addition to the Caravan itself, we also
> saw Cuba on the receiving end of more propaganda against its
> system by Bush himself. He gave a speech in Florida last week
> trotting out the tired, familiar "child-sex-tourism" stories,
> and the US media obliged him by making this his main theme.
> While in Cuba I had a chance to meet with Celia Hart, author
> of "Socialism in One Country" and the Cuban Revolution which
> was first made available in English via CubaNews, and which
> has since been picked up an reprinted in a number of places.
> Most recently, the San Francisco-based Trotskyist newspaper,
> SOCIALIST ACTION has published Hart's important essay. 
> When we met in Cuba, Celia Hart provided me with a copy of her
> latest essay, "On August 15 we took the Winter Palace" which
> has now been translated to English and which will be sent out
> shortly. That essay focuses on the upcoming recall election 
> to be held in Venezuela. If you haven't read Hart's earlier
> essay, it's posted at: http://www.walterlippmann.com  
> Cuba continues to have hopeful news about a possible oil strike
> which would, if successful, solve the island's dependence on
> foreign sources for energy. As I've said before, this would be
> the island's most powerful step toward independence since the
> Revolution's triumph in 1959. This is an extremely significant
> development, so you'll want to monitor it regularly
> Another very hopeful sign came out just days before we left and
> that's the signing of a contract for a cancer vaccine between a
> Cuban biotech firm and a California company. There'll be opening
> up a joint venture in this connection. This was authorized by the
> Bush Administration, obviously under heavy pressure since cancer
> is such a widespread phenomenon in the United States. During our
> visit to Cuba's principal biotech company I was surprised to 
> learn that, in spite of all the blockade restrictions, there are
> already thirty two-Cuban medicines which have been licensed for
> production in the United States from Cuban companies. And while
> it's true that the blockade restrictions prevent the Cubans
> from receiving payment in the most simple way possible (cash),
> one can be confident that in bargaining for payment in kind, 
> the Cubans are making sure to get their full value in exchange.
> James Cason, chief of the US Interests Section in Havana has
> recently announced that the US has granted the 20,000th visa 
> to a Cuban requesting permission to emigrate to the US and if
> this is true, it's good news. It will reduce tension on the
> island and reduce the number of people needing to be fed and
> housed, and should act to discourage others from trying those
> dangerous rafts as has been the case too often in the past.
> Of course, Cason coupled this announcement with rhetorical
> pot-shots against Cuba, but what else would we expect?
> This week the Cuban government announced the release of Marta
> Beatriz Roque, the only female among the seventy-five people
> who were sentenced to long prison terms in the spring of last
> year (2003) for their collaboration with and receipt of money
> from the United States government. You can see photos of Roque
> together with James Cason in the book LOS DISIDENTES, a heavily-
> documented study of the seventy-five. She, along with several
> other of her co-collaborators were sentenced to long terms by
> the Cuban courts last year. Keep in mind that US legislation,
> such as the Helms-Burton and Torricelli laws, as well as the
> recently-disclosed report of the so-called "Commission for
> Assistance to a Free Cuba" make "regime change", which is 
> nothing but a euphemism for the overthrow of the government
> and social system of Cuba, active U.S. policy goals. 
> Roque was released after serving less than eighteen MONTHS of
> her TWENTY-YEAR sentence. While the foreign media working in 
> Cuba pays scant attention to the island's continuing ability
> to meet its obligations for the care of the Cuban people, the
> foreign media are always interested in these oppositionists.
> Unsurprisingly, in the various reports about Roque's release,
> no mention is made of the charges for which she was charged,
> tried and convicted: collaboration with a hostile foreign
> power committed to the overthrow of Cuba's social system.
> It never proved possible to see Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11
> during the Caravan. That's because during its early weeks in 
> theaters, we found performances completely sold out along the
> way. It's about to enter its second month and is already made
> history as the highest-grossing non-musical documentary of all
> time. It opened in Havana and is now playing across the island
> of Cuba, after receiving rave notice in the Cuban media, one 
> of which was a scheduled discussion of the film by the Cuban
> National Assembly President, Ricardo Alarcon, last Sunday on
> Cuban television. They've also written extensively about Moore
> for some time, and showed ROGER AND ME the previous week. The
> opening of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 in the Cuban capital is a big story
> here in LA OPINION, the Spanish-language daily in Los Angeles,
> and the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the entire US.
> There's been no mention of this in the L.A. Times, by contrast.
> It seems that FAHRENHEIT 9/11 will prove to have a big influence
> as Moore attended as it's being discussed and debated widely
> outside of theatrical venues. In Las Vegas, Nevada, a capital
> of gambling and live entertainment, singer Linda Ronstadt 
> caused a minor sensation earlier this week when she spoke up
> in favor of Moore and the movie, and the venue which booked
> her told her not to come back. Here in Los Angeles a few days
> later, Ronstadt got a big round of applause when she spoke 
> about Moore and the movie. 
> One thing I have done since returning was to see FAHRENHEIT 9/11
> on Tuesday afternoon, my first day back. It's a terrific movie
> which I hope you'll all get to see. It opened in Cuba Thursday
> and was due to be playing at 120 venues on the island starting
> yesterday (Friday). The week before, Cuban television showed
> ROGER & ME in prime time. 
> Monday is July 26th, the 51st anniversary of the attack on the
> Moncada Barracks in 1953, and marks the beginning of the armed
> struggle phase of the Cuban Revolution. only 5.5 years later,
> the Batista dictatorship was overthrown and the process of 
> building a new Cuba was begun. This is always a date when the
> Cuban government provides its people and the world with a look
> at some of the most important issues they currently face. I've
> no idea what will be in the speech which Fidel Castro will give,
> but you might want to take a look at the last major address he
> gave a few weeks ago, an open letter to George W. Bush:
> http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/2004/ing/f210604i.html 
> This was my eighth visit to Cuba since I began going in 1999.
> Though at ten days, it was also my shortest visit, I always 
> find it useful to take advantage of the experiences of going
> back and forth between the United States and Cuba to note some
> of the differences, as well as some of the similarities between
> our two countries. This was no exception. 
> Immediately on returning, the moment I stepped out of the airport,
> the blizzard of advertising billboards confronts and clouds ones'
> consciousness. In Cuba there are no commercial billboards and the
> ones with political concepts and slogans are no where near as all-
> pervasive as the ones selling products which we see in the US.
> While there are poor people in Cuba, too, and one now and then 
> sees individuals looking for food or recyclables in Cuba, it's 
> nothing like what we see here. People in tents sleeping in parks
> and under bridges is a constant sight in the United States of
> America, certainly here in Los Angeles. Yesterday was trash day
> in my neighborhood and all over you could see poor and homeless
> people pushing shopping carts, collecting empty glass and 
> plastic bottles for recycling, and thereby to earn a few
> dollars.
> As an inveterate newspaper reader, the differences between the
> printed publications in the US and Cuba are quite striking.
> Cuban daily newspapers are normally just eight tabloid pages,
> and the only color is the red for GRANMA and the blue for the
> JUVENTUD REBELDE. The photos are just black and white. The US
> newspapers are often filled with brightly-colored photographs
> to illustrate the stories, but even more with massive amounts
> of commercial advertising. Cuban publications have very few
> ads, if any. And this is not to say anything about the views
> and political opinions expressed in either place..
> CubaNews list continues its slow but steady growth, a testimony
> I believe to the useful service which this list provides to its
> readers. This list focuses first and foremost on news from and
> about Cuba, Cuba's relations with the United States and with 
> other countries around the globe. We also provide news from the
> Cuban media, in particular a series of daily news summaries from
> the Prensa Latina news agency and other Cuban sources, primarily
> in English. I'm please to see others have been sending in notes
> and commentaries while I was traveling and not able to maintain
> the usual high level of information. It's important to keep in 
> mind that this list is primarily a source of news and information
> with some room for discussion.
> Yahoo, which hosts this and other lists, and which doesn't charge
> any money to users of the service, has recently taken away the
> ability of list owners and moderators to add new subscribers as
> we had previously. Anyone wishing to join the list therefore must
> send in an e-mail through the Yahoo system in order to get on the
> list. Those who wish a shorter and more concentrated selection of
> news might want to consider the second list I also maintain and
> taking it in the digest format as this list can have quite a 
> heavy flow of information at times. Write to me directly for the
> details on the shorter list.
> >From time to time it's useful to remind readers that this list is
> primarily a news and information service, and it's goal is to help
> students of Cuban life and activists in the solidarity and anti-
> intervention movements with a wide selection of materials about
> Cuba and related matters. Just because something is sent out by
> this list doesn't mean that it's something that I as the list 
> owner or any of the other moderators agree with.  It's important
> both to provide accurate information, to deconstruct much of the
> mediocre and distorted coverage, as well as to simply inform the
> reader of what's being said
> Again I'm grateful to Ana Portela first of all, and to several of
> the other readers of this list who have facilitated making Cuban
> news items available which otherwise might not get translated to
> English. Any of you who are fluent in Spanish and wish to help out
> with this important process should please write to me directly.
> I'd like to welcome new subscribers and to encourage participation
> in the process. The Cuban Revolution is a source of endless interest
> for its friends, and the readers' active participation is welcomed.
> Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews 
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/  
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Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at ecst.csuchico.edu

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