November 1, 2012
The Canadian Network on Cuba launches its "Sandy Relief Fund" Campaign
At 1:25 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25th, Hurricane Sandy entered Cuba just
west of Santiago de Cuba as a category 2 hurricane. However the extent
and speed of Sandy gave sea surges a destructive capability as great
as any of the category 5 hurricanes. Its central path took it rapidly through
the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and Guantánamo,
the former two provinces are the most populous in Cuba after the City of Havana.
The hurricane devastated the heroic city of Santiago de Cuba, destroying
houses, damaging public buildings and monuments, leaving the city
without water supply, electricity, shops, markets and trees. Despite massive
evacuations, it took a toll of some 11 human lives, an unusually high number
in Cuba for hurricanes (mainly by collapsing buildings) — 132,733
houses were affected with 15,322 totally destroyed and 43,426 losing roofs.
Massive damage, not yet fully calculated, was caused in Guantánamo and
Holguín before the hurricane left this province near Banes, precisely where
hurricane Ike had entered four years earlier. Cuban provinces as far east
as Villa Clara and Cienfuegos have suffered from high winds and flooding
due to the heavy rainfall.
President Raúl Castro, visiting Santiago de Cuba on Sunday, Oct. 28,
said that only urgent temporary measures can be taken and that the
recovery of Santiago would take years.
The emergency measures are well underway. Roads to healthcare
centres and other essential services were speedily cleared. Linemen
have been arriving from seven provinces to work together with local
ones to restore electricity and telephone services. Roofing materials
are arriving from neighbouring provinces such as Las Tunas. Temporary
systems have been set up to provide 85% of the affected population
with drinking water, and food supplies have been arriving from
throughout Cuba to Santiago and other severely affected parts
of eastern Cuba. Cultural activity has not been overlooked, with some
cultural centres being promptly and reopened, with artists from
different parts of the country to join local artists in lifting peoples’ spirits.
Good friends of Cuba have also been prompt to supply assistance.
Venezuela, for example, has given 650 tons of help including
non-perishable food, drinking water and heavy machinery to Cuba,
with some going to Haiti. However, the need remains great.
Cuba continues to give its help to Haiti, which, although not directly
hit by Sandy, suffered much destruction from flooding, with scores of lives lost.
Canadians have responded generously in the past to disasters affecting
Cuba and other Caribbean countries suffering from natural disasters.
With great gratitude we recall that from coast to coast they responded
to requests from the Canadian Network on Cuba, the umbrella group
representing friendship organizations with Cuba. We forwarded to Cuba
after 2008, when the country was ravaged by three hurricanes,
more than $404,000.00cad.
When on January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered the horrific earthquake,
the CNC, recognizing that the most effective way of helping Haiti was
by doing so through Cuba, mounted its TO CUBA FOR HAITI Campaign,
which so far has collected and sent to the Cuban Medical Brigade in
Haiti $453,728.12 cad.
Cuba needs substantial help, both immediate and long term, in order
to overcome the crisis brought on by hurricane Sandy. Cuba’s
Ministry of External Commerce (MINCEX) is establishing an account to
receive the financial contributions - also a list of needed goods.
As in all our previous fundraising efforts, every single penny
donated will go to Cuba. Charitable tax receipts will be provided.
Our experience with regard to Cuba's response to natural disasters is
that it knows how to multiply the value of any donations it receives.
We feel confident, based on the island's unsurpassed humanitarian work
both within Cuba and in other countries, that it has the skills, the
organization and the ethical and moral values to put whatever aid
it receives to the best possible use.
The CNC urges everyone who can afford to do so to support
this effort by giving a donation:
1) payable to ‘CCFA Toronto’
and please also write "CNC Sandy Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.
CCFA Toronto PO Bo 99051-1245 Dupont St Toronto ON M6H 2A0.
They will forward the info for tax receipts to the Mackenzie-Papineau MF.
Updated info on Sandy will be put on our www.ccfatoronto.ca
2) payable to the ‘Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund’
and mail to the Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund,
Att: Sharon Skup 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4
Please also write "CNC Sandy Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.
Charitable tax receipts will be issued in 4-8 weeks.
(charitable org- revenue Canada Reg#88876 9197R0001)
There will be no administration charges takes, not even for postage stamps.
Keith Ellis, Coordinator, CNC Sandy Relief Fund
Isaac Saney, CNC Co-Chair and National Spokesperson
Elizabeth Hill, Co-Chair and Treasurer
I’m Sandy, too morally blank to be ashamed.
Born in Central American jungle heat,
sucking moisture from trees long nurtured
by the bloodied victims of protected tyrants.
On Wednesday May 9th, Lee Lorch, honourary president of the CCFA, was presented with an award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which has over 66,000 members. The Distinguished Academic Award is CAUT's highest honour and is given annually to an academic in recognition of his or her excellence in all aspects of academic life, scholarship, teaching and service. Usually, the award is presented at the CAUT spring council but unfortunately, Professor Lorch's health will not permit him to travel to Ottawa. The award was presented at the Bridgepoint Health Centre with over thirty of Lee's family, friends and colleagues present. Guests included former Member of Parliament Jean Augustine, former speaker of the Ontario Legislature David Warner, and former speaker of the Ontario Legislature Alvin Curling.
In her remarks to the audience, Jean Augustine said Lee is a champion, a fighter, someone who has gone beyond, to support country and ensure things he believed in would be heard. He worked with her in the Canada Cuba Parliamentary group. "Lee lived a life that is full-service, and was always encouraging, nudging, you in quiet fashion to ensure all can move forward in a society where justice is supreme."
The award was presented to Lee by Jim Turk, Executive Director of CAUT, who spoke of Lee's work as teacher, researcher and community activist.
Lee Lorch was given the microphone noted the struggles for the 8 hour day that is marked all over the world on May first, and the struggles for the rights of women, in which is wife Grace had been active after being fired from her teaching job because she "committed matromony" and the school board did not allow married women work. Lee delighted everyone present to stories of his past work in the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950's, which resulted in his being fired from four different universities before coming to Canada to work and make his home.
Marvin Muldoon, of the Mathematics Deparment at York University, and a coleague of Lee for over 50 years, told of how during a CUPE strike at York University in 2000, Lee insisted they walk in solidarity with the picketers at all seven different entrances to the University. He never gave up. He commented on how well Lee is looking, making a wonderful recovery due to the good care at Bridgepoint.
By Peter Phillips
In an all day conference, February 10, 2012, some 120 authors, professors, and journalists, from dozens of Caribbean, American and African countries, met with Fidel Castro. Those attending were invited participants for the “Intellectual Encounters for Peace and the Preservation of the Environment” event at the Havana Convention Center. Topics discussed in the nine-hour session were world peace, environmentalism, neo-liberal capitalism, and the continuing importance of socialism.
Fidel Castro (age 85) urged those assembled to a moral duty to prevent the extinction of humankind and challenge the expanding predations of neo-liberal global capitalism. He expressed concern for the inevitable collapse of Wall Street and the international monetary system. Paper money is worthless without backing from gold or other assets, Castro asserted. Environmental destruction is classless in that eventually all will suffer—both the rich and the poor—if neo-liberal capitalism continues on its rampart global destruction, he professed.
Castro’s main message was clear. Cuban socialism is an international example of a humanitarian economy in the world. “We have over 80,000 doctors,” he said, and “we are currently training 830 Pakistani medical students and many others from around the world.”
Fidel Castro, reverently referred to as “Commandante” by many of those present, was flanked by the Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, and the president of the Cuban Book Institute, Zuleika Romay. The participants in the encounter were invited guests to the 2012 International Cuban Book Fair that ran from February 10 to 19 in Havana.
The nine-hour session went from 1:00 PM until after 10:00 PM, with only two short coffee breaks. Fidel gave extended responses during the event, commenting on the presentations, asking questions, and recalling the history of the Cuban revolution and Cuba’s humanitarian efforts over the past fifty plus years. Some 40 people presented briefings on their concerns. The lies and propaganda of the corporate/capitalist media were important themes for the day. One participant remarked how the global corporate media seeks to create a monoculture of the mind inside the capitalist countries.
As an invited author for the International Cuban Book Fair, I was honored to participate in the discussions held with the “Commandante.” His energy is inspiring and his command of history and contemporary issues is phenomenal. Castro had serious health issues a few years back, but remains mentally alert. He walked with assistance from his bodyguards, but remained fully participatory in the nine-hour session.
Cuba is an international example of the potentialities of socialism, and an ongoing symbolic challenge to marketplace capitalism. In the United States there is a continuing propaganda drumbeat against the Cuban revolution. Castro is often described as a military dictator repressing his people and blocking freedoms in Cuba. But this description ignores some undisputed social advances under his leadership that could serve as an example of what a society can do when it turns its resources to humanitarian purposes.
Contemporary neo-liberal capitalism undercuts wages, unions and social welfare, which results in the expansion of poverty, hunger, and extreme inequality. Cuba is a demonstration that humanitarian socialism can work for the masses. Cuba is the number one organic farming country in the world. Cuba has full employment, zero starvation, and some of the best health care in the world. Cuba’s life expectancy is equal to the United States and education up through university is paid for by the state for all students.
As a media-reform advocate, participant and observer, I watched tens of thousands of young people arrive at the International Book Fair in the old Spanish fort overlooking downtown Havana. These are multi-generations of people who have never suffered media advertisements. Three University of Havana literature majors, with whom I spent a full day, laughed hysterically when I asked them if they wanted a McDonald’s Happy Meal. They represent a people who accept the equality of socialism and collective growth of human betterment, and will strongly defend their way of life if necessary. As literature majors they have completed three years of Latin, and are starting classical Greek. They have had courses in historical and modern Latin American and European literature, and art. Their university education costs them nothing, and the government provides all textbooks and living expenses.
After the collapse of the USSR, Cuba lost most of it subsidies form the socialist block of nations. The early 1990s were a difficult transition. This was when Cuba opened it doors to those who wanted to leave. Some 30,000 people choose to move to the United States. Yet, ten million people choose to stay and build the independent socialist country that Cuba is today. Several other South American countries, notably Venezuela and Ecuador, have taken note of Cuba’s successes and are moving in a similar direction seeking socialist equality.
Some in the US believe that when the senior Cuban leadership from the 1959 revolution passes away, US corporations and displaced Cubans abroad will waltz back into Havana to return capitalism to the island. It is very clear to me, and many contemporary observers, that multiple generations of socialist Cubans will never allow this to happen.
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He co-edited with Mickey Huff Censored 2011, which was published in Spanish for the International Book Fair in Cuba. Mickey Huff is the director of Project Censored and editor of the recently published Censored 2012, which was presented to Fidel Castro February 10, 2012.
by Brian Gordon Sinclair
"Hemingway on Stage"
Washington DC was the site of a truly historic event. Hundreds of people rallied for the freedom of the Cuban 5 and I had the great pleasure of being there.
On April 20, I attended a luncheon hosted by the ever-gracious Chief of the Cuban Special Interests Section, Jorge Bolanos. I was particularly impressed by a conversation with Wayne S. Smith. Wayne was Chief of the American Special Interest Section in Havana under the Jimmy Carter administration; however, he found his government’s policy so misguided that he resigned rather than implement such harmful actions. His current attitude is no less clear. He said that the position of the American government today is positively “medieval” and that he was befuddled as to how bad American governments over half a century could maintain the same bad policies, doing the same thing over and over again and always getting the same result, the same negative result. By the way, Wayne, as a young staff member at the old American Embassy in Havana, actually met Ernest Hemingway.
That evening a large crowd gathered to hear several people speak of American injustice towards Cuba. Salim Lamrani, a French journalist and researcher, pointed out some of the more outrageous aspects of the American blockade. For instance, if a Mercedes automobile from Europe contained even five cents worth of Cuban nickel mixed in an alloy, that car could not be imported into the United States. If a French freighter brought a shipment of rice to Cuba, it could not enter an American port for six months after the delivery. Salim’s point was that America was illegally imposing its irrational behaviour on the rest of the world, a behaviour that has been condemned by the United Nations and by every human rights organization in the world. Much applause was reserved for Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and still inspiringly active at the robust age of eighty. More applause greeted actor and activist, Danny Glover who spoke of justice and how it is spoken of, hypocritically, by America but not applied.
On Saturday, April 21, I awoke early, rehearsed my lines for Hemingway’s HOT Havana and then headed for the White House. When I arrived, I saw a modest number of people preparing to rally in support of the Cuban Five. At first, I thought, “Where is everyone?” Surely there are more people than this. I didn’t have to wait or wonder very long. My eyesight may be bad but my hearing is very good. In the distance, I heard what sounded like chanting. Within moments, I saw them, hundreds of them, flags flying, banners blowing, voices vibrant in their protest. “Obama, give us five!” They marched strong and proud and tall into the brightness of the sun and the heart of America. It was a moment of fierce pride as I felt the thrill of excitement run through my entire body. Words cannot express how glad and how proud I was to be there at that precise moment.
The closing event took place at the Bolivarian Salon of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. First came a truly tender performance by the DC Children’s Theatre Group who, in a way that can only be achieved by the honesty of young children, presented a dramatised tribute to Cuban doctors. Next came a speech by activist Cindy Sheehan, who reminded everyone that she is a true fighter for justice and has been willing to go to jail for her beliefs. Finally, I presented my play. The reaction was wonderful and I was humbled by both the standing ovation and the number of people who said they were moved by such an expression of love for Cuba.
My compliments to Alicia Jrapko and all the fine people who helped to prepare and organize this moment in history.
Major compliments to Ambassador Bolanos and all his excellent staff at the Cuban Special Interest Section for their hard work, for their many individual efforts and for the warmth, the gracious humour and the support which they imparted to even the most difficult moments. On a personal note, special thanks to the staff volunteers who participated in Hemingway’s HOT Havana and the famous “rum carburetion” scene. Their applause was well deserved.
Finally, don’t forget the HEMINGWAY CHALLENGE:
Whenever help is needed,
Whenever Cuba calls,
Hemingway On Stage will answer that call;
Hemingway On Stage will be there,
All for THE LOVE OF CUBA.
Brian Gordon Sinclair, “Hemingway On Stage”
April 23, 2012
By Asad Ismi
On December 3-4, 2011, a historic meeting of all 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries took place in Caracas, Venezuela. It was a gathering that significantly advanced the Latin American Revolution.
The Presidents of these nations assembled to inaugurate a new regional organization called The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which includes all these countries but excludes the United States and Canada, who were not invited to join.
CELAC looks set to become one of the world’s most powerful regional blocs. It is aimed at deepening the integration of Latin American and Caribbean states, freeing them all from the threat of U.S. imperialism and promoting social development.
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 15 (acn) Lisa Makarchuk, outstanding and loyal Canadian solidarity-with-Cuba activist, received the Friendship Medal in this capital on Thursday, following an agreement by the Council of State, as an acknowledgement to her important work aimed at promoting the island’s image in her country.
The ceremony took place at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), in the presence of Kenia Serrano, president of that institution, and of Matthew Levin, Canadian ambassador to Havana.
The award also acknowledges her excellent work to spread and defend the achievements of the Cuban Revolution, and her perseverance in the struggle to put and end the US blockade of the island and in favor of the release of the five Cuban heroes unfairly condemned in that northern territory.
Makarchuk arrived to the Caribbean island in 1961, in the days of the Literacy Campaign; attended the proclamation of the Second Declaration of Havana; worked at national radio stations; and was president of the Cuba-Toronto Friendship Association. From 1998 to 2000 she was Honorary Consul of her country in Varadero, and in 2009 she organized the First International Festival on Poetry of Resistance, in honour of The Five. She also contributed to the spreading in Canada of the work of Cuban Apostle Jose Marti.
Makarchuk assessed the occasion as “a very comforting moment,” and recalled the long history of bilateral relations and of lasting bonds of cooperation, in objectives like equal opportunities, education, culture and health.