Friday, December 19, 2014

Fidel's Legacy

Fidel's Legacy

by Stephen Lendman

At age 88, he's Cuba's elder statesman. A legend in his own time and then some. Defying critics. Outwitting them. Outliving them.

This article a snapshot of some of his achievements. Impressive by any standard. 

On the 50th anniversary of his July 26, 1953 Fort Moncada attack, media scoundrels pronounced his revolution dead. 

Expected collapse. Predicted free market capitalism's return. The bad old days called good. More on Cuba under Castro below.

A previous article discussed America's master plan for world dominance. Key is eliminating all sovereign independent governments.

By political, economic or military means. Installing puppet regimes. Convenient stooges. Subservient to Washington.

Few nations challenge US policies successfully. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz bested 10 US administrations. From Eisenhower through George Bush.

From January 1, 1959. When his guerrilla force ousted US-backed Fulgencio Batista. To his February 2008 retirement announcement as Cuba's president. 

Remaining Communist Party Central Committee First Secretary until April 2011. In the interim, transforming Cuba from a repressive brothel to a populist state. Defying US imperialism successfully.

America ruled Cuba as a virtual colony. From President McKinley's so-called "liberat(ion)" from Spain. To Castro's successful 1959 revolution. A transformational event.

Other than America's Guantanamo footprint. Ceded through Platt Amendment chicanery. Granting Washington "complete jurisdiction and control." At the same time recognizing Cuban sovereignty.

For nearly half a century, Castro's achievements were remarkable. In spite of America's embargo. In place since October 1960.

For all products except food and medicines. In February 1962, extended to include nearly all imports. Currently enforced by six statutes:

(1) The 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act

(2) 1961 Foreign Assistance Act

(3) 1963 Cuba Assets Control Regulations

(4) 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (encouraging pro-opposition groups)

(5) 1996 Helms-Burton Act (hardening earlier legislation)

(6) 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (authorizing sale of humanitarian products)

Despite longstanding embargo, blockade conditions weren't imposed. Except in 1962. Under short-term missile crisis conditions. Preventing missiles from arriving.

Early-on, Castro made a clean break with predatory capitalism. Nationalizing US-controlled industries. Instituted land reform. 

Shuttered Mafia-owned casinos and brothels. Ended longstanding systemic corruption. Built a socialist state. Ended Cuban control by monied interests.

Essential social services remain one of his most important achievements. Article 50 of Cuba's Constitution mandates "the right to health protection and care" for everyone. 

By "providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centers.

(F)ree dental care. Promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccination and other measures to prevent the outbreak of disease. 

All the population cooperates in these activities and plans through the social and mass organizations."

Article 51 guarantees free universal education. At all levels. To children, youths and adults. Constitutional language states:

"Everybody has a right to education. This right is guaranteed by the extensive and free system of schools, part-time boarding schools, boarding schools and scholarships in all types and at all levels of education, by the free provision of school materials to every child and young person regardless of the economic situation of the family, and by the provision of courses suited to the student's aptitude, the requirements of society and the needs of economic and social development." 

Castro virtually eliminated illiteracy. Students learn math, reading, the sciences, arts, humanities, social responsibility, civics and participatory citizenship. 

Giving them skills to become more productive citizens. Able to contribute to national development.

Despite embargo conditions, Cubans get nutritious food at affordable prices. Cuba's Law Number 49 mandated government provided social services.

Including special help for Cuba's elderly, disabled, others unable to work and single mothers.

Cuba's Public Health Law mandates protecting the health of all citizens. Including those rehabilitating from physical or mental disabilities.

Its healthcare is among the world's best. Including an extensive system of family doctors. Sophisticated tertiary care facilities.

Emphasis on nutrition and preventive care. Cuba's low infant mortality rate bests America's. Matches its life expectancy.

Has double the number of physicians per 1,000. An overall lower mortality rate. No one lacks care because of affordability. Polar opposite America's "pay or die system," according to Ralph Nader.

Maintains the developing world's most extensive infant immunization coverage. Emphasizes chemical-free, non-GMO, organically grown fresh produce.

Delivers top quality healthcare at minimum cost. Compared to America's exorbitant system. Double the cost of other developed countries.

Leaving millions uninsured. Despite claims otherwise. Millions more underinsured. One major illness for many away from bankruptcy.

Impossible in Cuba. With top quality universal care for all. No one denied what's needed.

Key are hundreds of community-based polyclinics. Serving tens of thousands of Cubans. Organizational hubs. For neighborhood-based family doctor/nurse offices.

Accredited research and teaching centers. For medical, nursing, and allied health sciences students. 

Backbone of Cuba's health system. Shaming America's for millions of its most disadvantaged.

Most Cuban doctors practice general medicine. Mandated for most medical graduates. Later able to specialize.

Polyclinic care largely replicates what's available in hospitals.

Services include x-rays, ultrasound, optometry, ophthalmology, endoscopy, thrombolysis, emergency services, traumatology, clinical lab services, family planning, emergency dentistry, pre and postnatal child care, immunization, diabetic and elderly care, as well as rehab.

Other specialties include dermatology, psychiatry, psychology, cardiology, family and internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology, mouth disease, acupuncture, message therapy, electromagnetic therapy, mud therapy, reflex therapy, heat therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and more. 

Quality care is stressed at all times. So is patient satisfaction. Cuba considers healthcare a human right. 

America provides it on the ability to pay. Commodified for profit. Insurers, drug giants, and large hospital chains make policy.

Cuba has state responsibility for healthcare. Assuring availability for all. Regardless of financial well-being. How all systems should be run.

Its physicians complete a nine-year program. Including five years of basic education. One-year hospital internship.

Three rural practice years. Family medicine stressed. So is preventive care. Doctors wanting to specialize must complete three more years of training.

Abide by Cuba's model health code in treating patients. Exclude private practice. Follow government policies.

Emphasize prevention and human welfare. Work for national wellness.

Profit is America's only goal. Other objectives are secondary. Cuba spends a minute fraction per capita annually. Compared to what healthcare costs in America.

It sends thousands of doctors to dozens of countries needing them. Offers free medical education to thousands of students.

From scores of countries. In return for providing their people Cuban-style care. Largely in under-served communities.

Its model shames America's. It works because it's fair. A testimony to Fidel's legacy. 

Along with high-quality free education. Other vital social services. Ones Americans can't even imagine.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

US to Veto Palestinian Statehood Bid

US to Veto Palestinian Statehood Bid

by Stephen Lendman

Even a tepid one. Falling far short of what Palestinians deserve. it's official. What Israel wants it gets. 

Asked about PLO Security Council draft text language, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said "(i)t is not something we would support."

"We wouldn't support any action that would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations and that would set a specific deadline for the withdrawal of forces."

An imminent vote is unlikely, she added. Palestinians want one before Christmas.

Netanyahu's bluster wore thin long ago. Categorically rejecting Palestinian statehood. Now or ever. 

Intends permanent occupation. Yesterday accused Abbas of "threaten(ing) us with unilateral steps."

"He does not understand that they will result in a Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria, just as occurred in Gaza," said Netanyahu.

"We won’t let that happen. We will never agree to unilateral diktats." Except numerous Israeli ones. With full US support.

Israel will "always safeguard our security. This is our lesson both from the days of the Maccabees and in our day," said Netanyahu.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Palestine's initiative a "gimmick." Strategic Affairs minister Yuval Steinity called it "an act of war."

Threatened to dismantle PA puppet governance in response. Joint PLO/Jordanian text language calls for resuming peace talks,

With a 12-month deadline. Ending Israel's occupation by December 2017. 

Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders. With "mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps."

Accepting a "third party presence" in the West Bank. Following "full an phased withdrawal" of Israeli forces.

"(O)ver an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe." Ending no later than December 2017.

"We will continue with consultations in the UN to gather support for this project," said Abbas.

The PLO/Jordanian draft Security Council text (dated December 17, 2014) is as follows:

"Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Reaffirming the right of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties,

Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:

  • borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps;

  • security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.

  • a just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);

  • Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;

  • an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

According to an unnamed Western diplomat: "There is not the basis for consensus on the (above) text as drafted, and that is why we need to do some work."

In other words, whatever Israel agrees to is fine. Not otherwise. Its regime has final say. Expressed through assured US vetoes.

Longstanding policy hasn't changed. Two-state solution notions don't wash. Israel controls over 60% of West Bank land. Its most valued parts. Most of East Jerusalem.

Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History Joseph Massad says "no Palestinian state (exists) to recognize…"

"(W)ithin 1967 or any other borders. (T)hese political moves are engineered to undo the death of the two-state solution, the illusion of which had guaranteed Israel’s survival as a Jewish racist state for decades." 

"These parliamentary resolutions in fact aim to impose a de facto arrangement that prevents Israel's collapse and replacement with a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens and is not based on colonial and racial privileges."

Dead-on-arrival peace talks "worked very well for the last two decades with hardly a peep from the Palestinian Authority."

An Israeli creation. Stooge governance. Designed to serve its interests. At the expense of peace, equity and justice. 

Self-determination. What matters most to millions of Palestinians is strictly verboten.

Extremist Netanyahu policies threaten Israel's survival as a racist Jewish state, says Massad.

It's why "European parliaments are rushing to rescue Israel's liberals by guaranteeing for them (its) survival in its racist form through recognizing a nonexistent Palestinian state 'within the 1967 borders.' "

Two states once were possible. No longer. Except in rump form for Palestine too inconsequential to matter. A state in name only. With worthless scrubland for territory.

Assuring Israel's survival as a racist Jewish state. Justifying its worst policies. High crimes. Polar opposite justice. Denying it.

PLO/Jordanian text language falls way short and then some. Loopholes give Israel enough wiggle room to drive tanks through. Guns blazing.

Calling Israel a "democratic state" is nonsense. It never was from inception. For sure not now. With ruthless fascists in power. Racists. Operating with impunity.

"Calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip" ignores years of illegal blockade.

Collective punishment. Wars at Israel's discretion. Repeated cross-border land and air incursions. For contrived reasons. With no accountability whatever.

Claiming America "facilitate(s) and advance(s) negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement" is nonsense. 

Both countries partner in each other's crimes. Peace is strictly verboten. Conflict without end persists. 

Western leaders able to intervene responsibly support Israel's worst crimes. Ones they commit as NATO members. Genocidal ones.

Policies mattering most belie deceptive rhetoric. Occasional initiatives accomplish nothing. 

Long-suffering Palestinians remain on their own. Alone. Isolated. Unaided. Brutalized by their own PA government. Disgracefully serving as Israel's enforcer.

Palestinian statehood within June 1957 borders based on "mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps" assures continued injustice.

Israel able to keep all valued parts of Palestine it controls. Security through third-party presence assures continued occupation.

Israeli state terrorism alone exists. So-called security threats are ones it invents.

Two nations sharing Jerusalem as their capital assures virtual total Israeli control. So does settlement of other outstanding issues.

Looking forward to Palestine as a full UN member ignores its longstanding statehood. Declaration of independence. Since November 1988.

Its support from over two-thirds of world nations. Its legal ability to have now what it hopes for years ahead. A continuing unfulfilled dream. Ongoing for decades. With no resolution in sight.

Urging both parties build trust toward peace through good faith negotiations proposes what never was. Never will be. Not with Israel involved. Or America. Partners in crime.

Resolution text language calls for lots of things. With no authorized enforcement mechanism. Accountability for violators.

It bears repeating. Giving Israel enough wiggle room to drive tanks though. Guns blazing. With impunity. Like many times before.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Longstanding US Cuba Policy: Regime Change

Longstanding US Cuba Policy: Regime Change

by Stephen Lendman

Obama is right. Sanctions don't work. Not against Cuba. Russia. Iran or other countries. Provided they stay firm. 

Defending their sovereign rights. Cuba did admirably. For over half a century. Against US imperialism. 

Its leadership a testimony to successful sovereign resilience. Prevailing against long odds.

Longstanding US Cuban policy failed. Washington's objective remains unchanged. Regime change! Installing pro-Western stooge governance. Returning Cuba to its bad old days.

Castro gained power on January 1, 1959. Transforming a repressive brothel into a populist state. Ousting Washington's man in Havana. Fulgencio Batista. A despot by any standard.

Franklin Roosevelt once called former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza "a son of a bitch. (B)ut he's our son of a bitch," he explained.

America supports many like him. Batista's fascist regime earlier. Current repressive Central America/Caribbean governments. In Honduras. Guatemala. Haiti.

Saudi Arabia. Other Gulf states. Ukraine in central Europe. Fascists running Israel. Numerous other repressive regimes.

Obama's new Cuba gambit reflects imperial policy by other means. Hold the cheers. More on this below.

Until illness in 2006 forced him to step down, Fidel was the world's longest serving political leader. Now aged 88, its preeminent elder statesman.

Still expressing important views. "Reflections of Fidel." In September saying "just ideas or disaster will triumph."

"Global society has known no peace in recent years." Because of US/European policies. Threatening world peace. With "weapons which could mean the end of human existence."

He called Western regimes "unscrupulous actors." Especially America. "(I)nterven(ing) militarily in Cuba…" Earlier owning most of the country. Raping it for profit. 

Preventing Cubans from "produc(ing) enough grain to feed the population…Cynicism is something which has become symbolic of imperial policy."

Rapaciousness defines it. "(O)ur interests," said Obama. Castro knows them well. Duplicity writ large. Plotting control over Cuba again. 

Intending to colonize it for profit. Plunder its resources. Including offshore oil. Exploit its people. Obama is a serial liar.

Claiming US policy is "rooted in the best of intentions…" Brazen dishonesty. Willful deception. Longstanding US policies speak for themselves.

Serving monied interests exclusively. At the expense of beneficial social change. Mindless of democratic rights. Rule of law principles. 

Including prohibitions against interfering in the internal affairs of other nations. Sovereign independence is inviolable. 

Not according to Washington rules. Imposing them lawlessly. With full scoundrel media support. The New York Times outrageously calls Cuba "a repressive police state." 

Ignoring decades of ruthless US anti-Castro policy. Hailing a "historic move." "Transformational." 

Claiming Washington is right in demanding "greater personal freedoms and democratic change." 

Instead of exposing it as the world's most egregious civil and human rights abuser. None match America's abusive record. Longstanding. Horrific by any standard.

The Times was right calling US Cuban policy "one of the most misguided chapters in American foreign policy." Mindless of Obama's intent.

Opening Cuba to America's monied interests spells trouble. Like it always does. US policies aren't benign.

Cuba already infested with US anti-government operatives. USAID. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

International Republican Institute (IRI). Freedom House. Center for a Free Cuba. Institute for Democracy in Cuba. Cuba Dissidence Task Group.

Various other groups and initiatives. Raul Castro warned earlier about "attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism."

Saying he "reiterated on many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people."

"We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter."

"We don’t demand that the US change its political or social system and we don't accept negotiations over ours."

It bears repeating. Longstanding US policy call for regime change. Obama's pronouncement shows tactics alone changing.

By establishing diplomatic relations. Opening a Havana embassy. Regime change headquarters. Infested with CIA operatives for sure. Plotting destabilization tactics.

Obama loosening embargo conditions. As much as possible by executive order. Without congressional approval. Unlikely with Republicans in charge next year.

Or Democrats like current Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D. NJ). Blasting Obama. 

Turning truth on its head saying his "actions have vindicate the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. (S)et(ting) an extremely dangerous precedent."

"(I)nvit(ing) dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips. I fear that today's actions will put at risk the thousands of Americans that work overseas to support civil society, advocate for access to information, provide humanitarian services, and promote democratic reforms."

The New York Times cited unnamed administration officials. Saying Treasury will issue easing Cuban trade regulations. On US agricultural exports. Banking relations.

Commerce Department will permit exports of construction materials. Telecommunications equipment. Scientific, athletic and cultural products. Various other goods.

Efforts will move quickly to replace old rules with new ones. Facilitating travel. Financial dealings. Exports. According to US officials.

"The Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department will scrap a measure that requires people who are already eligible for travel to Cuba to receive special permission from the government for trips such as those involving family visits, professional, religious or cultural programs and humanitarian projects," said The Times.

"New rules will also make it easier to get there, by allowing the direct purchase of airline tickets to Cuba rather than requiring travelers to go through a travel agent and charter a flight."

Treasury is increasing how much money Americans may send Cubans. Fourfold. From $500 to $2,000.

The State Department may end Cuba's unjust state sponsor of terrorism designation. Longstanding US Cuban policy reflects it writ large. Don't expect The Times to explain.

According to US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson:

"We would anticipate that we will have an embassy before" nominating an ambassador.

"That process is relatively straightforward, frankly, from a legal perspective. We can do that via an exchange of letters or of notes. It doesn't require a formal sort of legal treaty or agreement."

White House officials said they spent months determining how far to go unilaterally. Without violating the letter of embargo conditions. Or "eviscerat(ing)" them.

Washington's Havana Interests Section will serve as its embassy. A future nest of destabilizing spies.

Political analyst Andrew Korybko asked if Raul Castro "reverse(d) the entire Cuban revolution." Did he make "a fatal mistake?"

By getting in bed with the devil. It remains to be seen how much. Will color revolution follow? At age 88, Fidel's time is passing. Whether soon or later who knows.

Korybko believes he's closer to death than Havana admits. An era will pass with his loss. Inevitable sooner or later. Key is what follows. 

Raul is 83. Reportedly in good health. Last year saying he'll step down in 2018. "This is my last term," he said. Shortly after National Assembly members reelected him for another five years.

At the same time naming Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez First Vice President. Next in line to Raul. 

Cuba's current government appears its last under Fidel and Raul. Possible succession figures include Diaz-Canel. Four other vice presidents. 

Including Jose Machado Ventura. Aged 82. Ceding his first vice presidential position to Diaz-Canel.

Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes. Aged 80. Comptroller General Gladys Bejerano. Aged 66. Both vice presidents.

Others include First Secretary of the Communist Party Mercedes Lopexz Acea. Aged 48. Labor federation head Salvador Valdes Mesa. Aged 64.

In 2013, 68-year-old former vice president Estaban Lazo was named National Assembly president. Replacing longtime leader Ricardo Alarcon.

Earlier he commented on who would succeed Fidel, saying:

"All those who have been trying to fool the world and put out the idea that something terrible would happen in Cuba, that people would take to the streets, that there would be great instability, the door slammed on them and they must have very swollen hands now."

Cuban policy going forward remains to be seen. New leaders will replace old ones. Hopefully revolutionary spirit won't change. 

Remaining vibrant. Resilient. Redoubtable. Too precious to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Putin's Annual Marathon Press Conference Tour De Force

Putin's Annual Marathon Press Conference Tour De Force

by Stephen Lendman

On December, 18, Putin held his annual Q & A marathon. Discussing vital issues. 

Wide-ranging ones. Responding forthrightly to questions. Giving straight-talk honest answers.

Polar opposite Obama. Making him look buffoon-like by comparison. A serial liar. With no credibility whatever. 

His latest Cuba gambit more stunt than policy change. Expect Cubans soon enough to realize they were had. 

Likely smart enough to know already. The devil they've known for over half a century is more villainous now than ever.

Fidel is right saying he "harbor(s) (not) the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit, and lead the world toward, the greatest error in its history."

"A nuclear war is inevitable," he believes. Perhaps any time. Earlier Castro thought against Iran. Perhaps still today. 

Likely extremely concerned about hostile US relations toward Russia. Hugely dangerous. Ukrainian flashpoint conditions. 

At age 88, his intellect remains acute. His knowledge of vital issues impressive. His honesty and integrity impeccable. 

His forthrightness noteworthy. His fear of potential disaster too important to ignore. It bears repeating. The devil he dealt with for over half a century is meaner and nastier than ever.

Putin, like Castro, knows what he's up against. Not about to roll over for Washington. Especially on issues mattering most. 

Including national sovereignty inviolability. Opposition to war. Peace, equity and justice. Multi-world polarity. 

Cooperative relations with all nations. On the right side of history. Polar opposite Obama on vital geopolitical issues.

Thursday was Putin's 10th annual Q & A press conference. Discussing important issues facing Russia.

Including sanctions. Plummeting oil prices. Declining ruble valuations. Economic problems. East/West Relations. Ukraine. Lots more.

H blamed sanctions for around a fourth of Russia's economic problems. Plummeting oil prices hit hard. Lower ruble valuations.

Russia's economy lacks diversification, he said. He intends remedying things going forward.

"The rate of growth may be slowing, but the economy will continue to grow and our economy will overcome the current situation," he stressed.

"I believe about two years is the worst case scenario after which growth will resume."

"But the situation may start improving even earlier…in the first, second quarter, in mid-2015 or at the end of the next year. No one can say for sure," said Putin.

"If the situation takes a negative turn, then we will have to introduce some amendments to our plans. Naturally, something will have to be trimmed." 

"However, I would like to stress that a 'positive rebound,' as experts call it, and subsequent growth are inevitable under present circumstances."

He intends various measures to increase ruble valuations. In 2008, they proved successful, he said.

He urged faster central bank action. Saying its policies "need to be coordinated, collective and prudent, but without interference into the central bank or the government's sphere of competence."

"Nevertheless, there must be coordination and it must be timely." Perhaps more interest rate hikes. To halt ruble devaluation. Begin returning it to higher valuations. Stabilize Russia's economy.

Putin criticized Western countries. Their imperial priorities. Seeing other regions as vassal areas. Subservient ones. To be exploited. 

"They will always try to chain the bear," he said. "And once it's chained, they'll rip out its teeth and claws." 

"The nuclear deterrence, speaking in present-day terms. As soon as this happens, nobody will need (the bear) anymore." 

"They'll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga (Siberian forest belt). We've heard statements from Western officials that Russia owning Siberia (isn't) fair.”

"The problem of modern international relations is that our partners refuse to stop. They think they have won."

"Do we want relations on an equal basis? Yes, we do, but on the condition that our national interests are respected, in the sphere of security and in the sphere of economy."

He called Russia Europe's only reliable gas supplier. Distinguished between legitimate political opposition and internal threats.

"Saying (a)n opposition figure, even if he's very harsh, in the end he fights for the interests of his motherland, but the 'fifth column represents people who fulfill what is dictated to them in the interests of another government, and they are used as an instrument to reach political goals that are foreign to us."

Russia doesn't repress opposition elements, he stressed. "I would like to assure you that there is no organization or any sort of repression against people who don't agree with our actions, for example in Ukraine, Crimea, or any other external issues, no one from  official government organs do this," he said.

He defended Russia's Ukraine policy. Going all-out for peace and stability. Debunking notions otherwise. Criticizing US hypocrisy.

Saying "(t)o take Texas from Mexico is fair, but when we make decisions about our territories, it is unfair."

"I believe we are right in the Ukrainian crisis and our Western partners are wrong."

America's empire of bases is everywhere, he said. "(A)ll over the world, and you're trying to say that we're being aggressive."

Russia has only two foreign bases. In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, he said.

"We have a military budget of $50 billion while the Pentagon's budget is (over) ten times that amount."

"Do we place our troops at US borders? Who is placing NATO troops, military infrastructure closer to us?" 

"Does anyone listen to us, talk to us about it? No, nothing. There is always the same response. It's not your business."

Washington's menacing missile defense system threatens Russia. "They have been deploying strategic missile defense elements not only on Alaska, but also in Europe, in Poland and Romania, right at our borders," said Putin.

Concerned about US plans to install Aegis Ashore ballistic missiles in Romania. By 2015. Similar ones in Poland. By 2018. Urged international leaders to address this issue responsibly.

He stressed the importance of observing Minsk protocol ceasefire terms.

Donbas residents have the right to choose their own future. Under internationally accepted rule of law principles.

The economic blockade is futile. Counterproductive. Wrong, he stressed.

"We must follow the general principles of the international law, and the people of Novorossiya have the right to decide their own fate," he said.

He justifiably blamed Western countries for Ukrainian crisis conditions. "But for the West's position, there wouldn't be civil war in Ukraine," he said.

The road to peace requires building common humanitarian space. Not walls, he stressed. "Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state."

He may visit Tehran next year. Iranian leaders show considerable flexibility. On issues regarding their nuclear industry. He hopes for P5+1 resolution soon.

Despite hard times, the vast majority of Russians support Putin. An astonishing 81%. In a recent AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

A Final Comment

Rodney Shakespeare is Professor of Binary Economics at Trisakti University, Britain. He teaches postgraduate Islamic economics and finance.

On December 18, he discussed Russian economic conditions on RT International. His comments are important and incisive.

He emailed this writer the following. Explaining the gist of what he said as follows:

"Russia will recover (probably relatively) in under two years. It will probably be relatively because the Western financial system is in  difficulty and a collapse is certain which will affect everybody."  

"The basic reasons for this are the huge and continuing levels of un-repayable debt; rich-poor division; and a failure to understand the technological shift which is destroying jobs."
"But Russia will survive. It has vast primary resources - diamonds, wood, gold, iron, wheat, oil, gas etc." 

"It has large financial reserves (around $400 billion dollars); AND its government takes in more money than it spends!! This is unheard of in the Western world!"
"Also NB in about six months the first part of the new money-exchange system will have been built and will enable Russia and China to bypass the Western system."
"If Russia has any immediate difficulty it should remember the 1998 crisis when the IMF, Americans and the City of London tried to smash Malaysia as an independent nation."  

"All of the advisers were traitors. So Prime Minister Mahathir turned to a man who was unemployed, down to his last one hundred dollars and was lying on his bed on a torrid Kuala Lumpur night."  

"This was Tan Sri Nor Mohammed Jakcop who was summoned to rush to Buenos Aires (where Mahathir was on a state visit), given a packet of visits and asked to write down the solution to the crisis in under two pages."  

"He did so and the rest is history. Within three years Mahathir had exacted a grovelling apology from the IMF." 

"The overall message was that you can use capital controls if your basics are OK (which is broadly the case with Russia)."
"The present crisis is an excellent opportunity for Russia to break free from its reliance on foreign, Western finance." 

"It should rely on its own finance and, at the same time, become independent in all aspects of the economy (which is largely possible for Russia - just as Iran has done)."

Money does NOT have to be borrowed from the international banking system which creates it out of nothing, adds interest and makes it repayable in dollars etc." 

"(T)hen does a run on your currency and subsequently picks up your assets for peanuts. This is what Mahathir was fighting and did successfully fight."
"It's all LIES about the need to borrow from abroad and the need to have international 'investors.' "  

"You can just as easily borrow interest-free from your own national bank but it is unwise to allow this too much UNLESS the borrowing is for building productive capacity AND spreading it in the population (only this creates a properly balanced market economy in which producers and consumers are the same)."
"Generally, NEVER borrow from abroad because it gives the lever by which you can be smashed." 

"The theoretical case for borrowing from abroad is that the 'investments' are for economic efficiency but, in practice, they are nothing of the sort being short-term hot money which is only there to get as big a profit as possible before rushing away."

Professor Rodney Shakespeare

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Torture in Israeli Prisonss

Torture in Israeli Prisons

by Stephen Lendman

Washington and Israel replicate each other's worst crimes. A previous article discussed a UN Committee Against Torture report.

Citing grave US civil and human rights abuses. Including systematic use of torture. Senate Intelligence Committee members confirmed it. In highly redacted form.

Constituting appalling breaches of fundamental rule of law principles. At home and abroad. In US prisons. Global black sites. Out of sight and mind.

Israel operates the same way. Brutalizing Palestinians horrifically. The Middle East Monitor discussed a UN report. Covering around 200 torture methods.

B'Tselem lists around half this number. Including against children. Torture and other forms of abuse reflect the worst of occupation harshness.

Palestinians want them ended. On Wednesday, PLO officials submitted draft Security Council text language. Jointly with Jordan Detailing terms for peace.

Setting a 12-month deadline. December 2017 for ending Israel's occupation. Saying they're open to negotiations on text language.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour thanking Arab and European nations for helping. Indicating he won't press for a quick SC vote.

To allow more time for discussion. An attempt to placate Washington. Enlist its support. Futile without Israeli acquiescence. Not forthcoming under any circumstances.

Netanyahu remains hardline. So do likeminded ministers and MKs. Opposing Palestinian statehood. Intending permanent occupation. 

Virtually certain of US support. Like dozens of previous times. Washington's veto power has final say.

Mansour remains hopeful. Saying "(W)e will continue negotiating with all of them and with the Americans if they are ready and willing so that we perhaps can succeed in having something adopted by the Security Council to open a serious door to peace."

The PLO resolution calls for a "just, lasting and comprehensive peace solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation…"

"(F)ulfill(ing) the vision" of a Palestinian state. With Jerusalem its shared capital. A major climbdown from East Jerusalem exclusively.

Final settlement reached no later than 12 months after resolution passage. Including Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestine over a period "not to exceed the end of 2017."

Initially PLO officials wanted occupation ending in two years. Now  three. Categorically rejected by Israel and Washington.

Both countries wanting all issues settled through direct negotiations. Not UN resolutions. Except in language Israel accepts.

Kerry saying resolutions are OK if don't exacerbate regional tensions.

"We don't have any problem with them filing some resolution, providing it's done in the spirit of working with people to see how we could proceed forward in a thoughtful way that solves the problem, doesn't make it worse," he maintains.

Code language for whatever Israel wants it gets. Palestinian rights don't matter. Business as usual won't change.

On December 17, Mondoweiss said Washington drafted an "alternative offer to the Palestinian pursuit of a draft resolution to negotiate an end to Israel's occupation…" 

According to a French diplomat. PLO officials got no information. Unaware of what Washington has in mind.

One senior official saying he thinks "what the Americans are trying to do is delay any initiative until" after Israeli elections. 

In March. Perhaps under a new coalition government. Maybe more hardline than now. 

For sure not agreeable to ending occupation. Or accepting Palestinian self-determination. Like all previous Israeli governments. Since mid-1967.

Mondoweiss cited France calling Washington's proposal a railroading tactic.

Pressuring France to withdraw support. Acting as an Israeli/Palestinian mediator. Confused by Palestinian actions, said the French diplomat.

No idea what they're doing. As of yesterday, France hasn't seen final text language.

Palestinians are working jointly with Jordan. Not France on their behalf.

For its part, France wants all contentious issues resolved before tabling a resolution.

Initially two drafts circulated. A French one with 
European partners. An Arab League supported Jordanian/Palestinian one.

According to Mondoweiss:

"The principal differences between the drafts were that the Palestinians wanted to include language on ending Israel's occupation within a two-year period, while the French wanted to re-establish negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis." 

"Both entail previous international accords such as United Nations resolution 242 and 181, a removal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in June 1967, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees based on return and compensation, respectively."

Other provisions include freezing settlement construction immediately. Refraining from "any illegal activities."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he "reaffirmed France's commitment to an initiative in the UN Security Council encompassing parameters as well as a timetable for these negotiations."

"I also mentioned the need to renew the framework of these discussions in order to promote the involvement of all international partners willing to contribute to this settlement." 

"France is convinced that it is high time to act for peace in a concrete manner."

What more compelling argument for statehood. Free from Israeli torture. Other forms of occupation harshness. Israel no longer having say over Palestinian lives.

B'Tselem calls "(t)he right of every person not to be subjected to ill-treatment or torture (whether physical or mental) one of the few human rights… considered absolute."

Never "balanced against other rights and values. (N)or suspended or limited." No matter what situation is faced.

This right is binding under international law. With no allowed exceptions.

The Middle East Monitor reported "(h)undreds of torture methods used against Palestinian prisoners during interrogations…"

Conducted in Israeli prisons. "(O)bserved by human rights organisations and prisoners' rights associations."

According to Ahrar Center for Prisoners' Studies and Human Rights direcor Fouad Khuffash, torture includes physical and psychological methods. Each leaves permanent scars.

"Torture in Israeli prisons is systematic and starts from the moment a prisoner is arrested, not from the moment they begin interrogation," said Khuffash. 

"This is a premeditated and staged scenario that changes according to the case of the detainee and the nature of their file." 

"Investigators alternate and play various roles assigned in advance to each investigator."

University of Jerusalem's Abu Jihad Center for Prisoner Affairs director Fahd Abu Al-Hajj notes 73 "most popular Israeli interrogation torture techniques."

Demonstrating occupation barbarism. omplete disregard for core human rights laws and standards.

"Nothing evidences this more than the repeated death of prisoners under interrogation, the most recent of which was the death of the prisoner Raed Al-Jabari," said Al-Hajj.

No Palestinian prisoner is spared. Young children treated like adults. Brutalized viciously.

Including injury-producing severe beatings. Prisoners doused with very cold, then very hot water.

Cuffing or restraining detainees painfully. Arms behind their backs. Tying them painfully to a door or window. For long periods of time. Lasting hours.

Beaten with sticks until lose consciousness. Targeting sensitive body areas. Potentially causing longterm negative effects. At times, leading to chronic illnesses and diseases.

A UN human rights committee said Israel "cross(ed) the line." Its brutal methods include "breaking backs, pulling fingers apart and twisting testicles."

In recent years, psychological torture increasingly used. Vicious tactics leaving permanent scars.

Mohammed Kilani was isolated in solitary confinement. Chained to a chair. For over two months. Harshest form of torture he endured, he said.

Israel uses virtually every form of physical and psychological torture ever conceived. Leaving a terrible toll on victims. Many traumatized longterm. Some permanently.

Since 1967, around six dozen Palestinians died from Israeli torture. Out of a total 200 perishing behind bars. Most for lack of proper healthcare. Combined with appalling treatment.

It bears repeating. What more compelling argument for statehood. Free from Israeli torture. Other forms of occupation harshness. 

Ending Israel's say over Palestinian lives. Free ftom decades of intolerable repression.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.