By Jim Lobe WASHINGTON, Feb 12 2014 (IPS) – If President Barack Obama wants to move more quickly to normalise ties with Cuba, it appears he has gained the political space to do so, according to analyses of a major new bipartisan public-opinion poll released here Tuesday by the Atlantic Council.
The survey, which was conducted last month, found that 56 percent of U.S. adults nationwide now support normalising ties or engaging more directly with Havana, while just over a third (35 percent) are opposed.
On 7 and 8 March, Rock around the Blockade will join legal professionals, writers, academics and solidarity activists from around the world at the International Commission for the Cuban Five, which takes place in London.
The Cuban Five are five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998, convicted on trumped up charges and condemned to long prison sentences. They were in fact trying to prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba by infiltrating violent anti-Cuban groups in Miami. None of the charges against them involved violence, weapons or damage to property. Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have died and over 2,000 have been injured as a result of terrorist attacks or aggression – mainly launched from Miami. To read more about the history of the Cuban Five click here.
Rock around the Blockade will be inviting participants of the International commission and everyone who supports the Cuban 5 to join us for a rally in Trafalgar Square, central London, on Sunday 9 March at 2pm. The rally will be held on the north pavement outside the National Gallery, with music, an open microphone, placards, and a giant Cuban flag. Everyone is welcome.
In 2011, one of the Cuban Five - Rene Gonzalez was released after serving 13 years in US prisons. He is now back in Cuba and will travel to London for the International Commission. On 27 February, the second of the Cuban Five, Fernando Gonzalez will be released after 15 years. The rally will join the international campaign both celebrating his release and demanding his safe return to Cuba. We will also be demanding that the remaining three Cubans - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino and Antonio Guerrero - be released immediately.
Rock around the Blockade will be organising additional protests in Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. More information uploaded soon.
by The LAWG Cuba Team: Mavis, Emily and Zuleika on February 07, 2014
On February 7th, 1962 President John F. Kennedy laid the groundwork for the infamous economic embargo on Cuba. As a result of the Cuban government nationalizing some U.S. companies and becoming buddies with the former Soviet Union, President Kennedy slapped trade sanctions on Cuba prohibiting the importation of any Cuban goods. The following year, 1963, the embargo was tightened to include penalties that prohibited foreign companies that traded with Cuba to also trade with the United States. The ban on travel for U.S. citizens was also implemented that year. While a whole lot has changed since 1962, the embargo on Cuba remains the same.
Piero Gleijeses is a professor of US foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His most recent book is Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991, Chapel Hill, 2013. His other books include The Cuban Drumbeat: Castro's Worldview, Seagull Books, 2009; Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, 2002; Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954, Princeton, 1992; The Dominican Crisis: The 1965 Constitutionalist Revolt and American Intervention. Baltimore, 1978 (revised edition: La esperanza desgarrada: la rebelión dominicana de 1965 y la invasión norteamericana, Dominican Republic, 2012).
Letter to Obama
February 5, 2014
I will not address the juridical flaws of the case against the Cuban Five. These flaws are well known and others have written you about them. The Five were tried in a kangaroo court and received very heavy sentences because of the crimes of Fidel Castro.
Important that we remain alert and ready to act to assure Fernando's return home to Cuba
On February 27, 2014, when Fernando González is released from Safford federal prison in Arizona, he will have completed 15 years, 5 months and 15 days of an unjust imprisonment imposed after a U.S. government political prosecution.
Each day has been a cruel punishment for Fernando and his Cuban Five brothers, who courageously sacrificed their well-being to defend their homeland and people of Cuba from the scourge of terrorism that emanates from Miami, with the full knowledge and protection of Washington.
But Fernando will not simply walk out of Safford on Feb. 27. As one of his appeals attorney Richard Klugh explains, since Fernando is not a U.S. citizen, he will be detained temporarily by Immigration authorities.
On 28-29th January 2014, Havana hosts the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish), with the participation of the heads of states, chancellors and other representatives of all 33 independent nations in the region. The Summit rounds off Cuba’s one-year presidency of CELAC, which focussed on combating regional poverty, hunger and inequality. Cuba is part of CELAC’s three member troika, along with Chile, which held the presidency in 2012 and Costa Rica which takes over in 2014. Over 30 documents are being drawn up for discussion and analysis, including a Plan of Action, and standards and principles which will govern cooperation. The Summit was preceded by two days of discussions by national experts on 25-26 January and a meeting of chancellors on 27 January. The Summit is expected to emit specific statements, for example, demanding that Britain return Las Islas Malvinas (the Falkland Islands) to Argentina and that the US blockade of Cuba be lifted.
BRUSSELS, Belgium – After years of debate, the European Union is in the final stages of eliminating an existing agreement concerning Cuba and establishing a bilateral agreement with the island nation on several issues.
Earlier this month, Holland’s Foreign Minister, Franciscus ‘Frans’ Timmermans, urged the European Union to encourage more dialogue with Cuba while on a state visit to Havana. “We simply need more human contacts,” he said. “We have seen that not meeting each other and not talking about the issues that divide us does not really help. Dialogue could really bring the relationship forward.”
On 20 January, the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution was celebrated at a cultural and political event in the Venezuelan Embassy’s Bolivar Hall. The event was attended by diplomats from the Cuban Embassy and the embassies of other countries which are members of ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. Also present were British trade unión leaders and ex - miners, members of solidarity organisations in solidarity with Cuba and Cubans living in Britain.
Netfa Freeman is a longtime activist/organizer who has worked on Cuba solidarity issues for several years. A frequent traveler to Cuba, Netfa talks about his visit last November in support of the Cuban 5.
Gregory Elich: You've recently returned from Cuba, where you attended the Ninth International Colloquium to Free the Cuban 5. In 1998, five Cubans who were monitoring the activities of U.S.-based anti-Cuba terrorist groups were arrested by the FBI and imprisoned on charges of espionage. What can you tell us about the current status of the Cuban 5?
Netfa Freeman: Well, all five were arrested in September of 1998. As far as their current status, I suppose the first thing people should know is that one of them, René González, was released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Marianna, Florida on October 7, 2011, after serving his entire 13-year sentence. On April 22, 2013 René returned to Cuba for his father's funeral and on May 11, Judge Lenard allowed him to stay there provided that he would renounce his United States citizenship. Soon to be released from the Fed pen in Safford, Arizona is FernandoGonzalez, in February. This will also be because Fernando's sentence will have been served.