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Cuba Civil Defense - one of the finest in the world PDF Print E-mail




The Cuba government has one of the best, if not the best, Civil Defenses in the world. The United Nations confirms this. So why does Harper and the Canadian government – blindly copying the Bush administration of refusing to send aid to the Cuban govenment which it calls corrupt –– except to NGOs? The Cuban government is one of the least corrupt governments – their elected leaders ‘put their money where their mouth is.’ Not like the promises of our politicans.

Excerpts from Susan Hurlich’s email updates on Hurricane Gustav/Ike (from Havana)  Sep/08

An important part of Cuba's system of Civil Defense - perhaps the key thing that truly makes it work well - is that the country has created a culture of prevention, a culture of protection, and a culture of collective recuperation. These are not insignificant things. In creating this culture, its created a consciousness among the people, the simplest of whom are exceedingly wise about what to do, when and how. It's also created a culture of collectivism. People take care of each other, they're aware of each other, they're not "in it" only for themselves. And there's no "show", no "taking credit". It's simply the way things are. Those of you who have lived here or visited here have seen this for yourselves, in one way or another. A culture of caring. It has nothing to do with whether or not you like a particular individual, nothing at all. A culture of caring is simply about the recognition that "the other" has the same value as a human being as you do, the same right to live and "take space" in the world. Cuba has developed this to a very high degree, and it shows brilliantly at times like this.

I've been getting lots of emails and phone calls from people all over - for which I deeply thank you. Not only is it heartening to know the tremendous outpouring of concern for Cuba and the Cuban people that many are feeling, but the personal support is also helpful to me. And when I told some Cuban friends about the recuperation assistance that Canadian groups and individuals are already mobilizing, they said they were very touched by this. One person even cried, saying that the hand of solidarity and friendship from outside the country is one of the things that helps Cubans get through this.

But listen to this. Here's what one friend said: "Sitting here comfortably in Toronto it all seems a bit unreal, and I don’t think we will get much information from the standard media, as Cuba is not given much shrift. Besides, when the death toll is substantial elsewhere, the relative sparing for Cuba makes it seem like small potatoes, since nobody bothers to ask why the same storm leads to relatively few casualties."

Sad, but true, eh? Here Cuba has one of the finest, if not THE finest, Civil Defense system in the world - the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and statistics don't lie. [Editor: The United Nations confirms this.] Cuba loses very, very few people when hurricanes strike. Part of the reason, and if I've said this before, that's ok, as it bears repeating, is that not only does Cuba have a highly efficiently organized Civil Defense system, developed since 1963 when the horrendous Flora struck eastern Cuba and left thousands dead in its wake, but the people have confidence in their Civil Defense system. You can legislate a Civil Defense system. But you can't legislate the confidence of the people. That's something that is GAINED, over the years, through proven action.


So what's happened is that while there is a Civil Defense system, it's as if ALL the people, the entire population, is actually part of the Civil Defense system. There's no panic. There's no running chaotically. People know what they have to do and where they have to do, and they do it in a timely way. And the Civil Defense authorities know where everyone is. Everyone is accounted for. No one is invisible. No one is without a name.

Some examples: Civil Defense has a very good idea of what areas need to be evacuated, what areas are potentially vulnerable to inundations, penetration of the ocean, flooding, landslides, etc. They know how many people are there. And the evacuation centres are prepared in time. That's the key: in time. The other key is: organization and discipline. The final key: confidence. As always happens, at least 85% or more of the people to be evacuated wind up going to the homes of friends or family elsewhere.

But Civil Defense knows this! When they give evacuation figures, they're able to say, always, that such-and-such a number of people are in the evacuation shelters, and such-and-such a number of evacuees are sheltered in homes of family or friends. No one is invisible. Shouldn't that be a normal thing? That no one is invisible? Shouldn't that be something that people should just be able to assume?

Why is it that the normal, the human, has become revolutionary? Shouldn't it just be part of being human? Unfortunately, as we know all too painfully, it's not. For instance, we don't even know how many really died in New Orleans during Katrina! Isn't that a crime? Of course! And the silence, at both official levels as well as in the press...

...I realized that after sending out my last update, with the list of "firsts", there was an important one that I didn't mention. As you know, Cuba's phone capacity and quality has been greatly improving over the past number of years, thanks to a substantial agreement with and investment from Italy [ editor: as the US blockade prevented Cuba from repairing/updating the original US installed phone systems]. 

This year, for the first time, the national ETECSA phone company is offering the population an additional service: special phone numbers which, from anywhere in the country, can link right into Radio Reloj for up-to-the-minute news and weather reports on the hurricane, as well as other news. There are also special numbers for reporting problems with the telephone or electricity. Perhaps your phone doesn't work, but someone else's does. It's a new service and one that is being highly appreciated and used by the population. For Radio Reloj, there's no waiting. The calls go through immediately.

Which brings me to a final comment about Cuba's Civil Defense system: it's dynamic, responsive, fluid, flexible, always searching for ways to improve how it functions, the services that are provided to the population.

In Cuba, it's impossible to be invisible, impossible to be silent. No one can simply disappear. Even if the anti-Cuban press wants to make us think that there's no landmass between Haiti and Jamaica and Florida, we know it's there. And it's called Cuba!

And what's most "threatening" about it is that it shows that some things can be done well - and Civil Defense is one of them.

Operation Miracle Benefits More than One Million People PDF Print E-mail

HAVANA, Cuba, July 8 (acn) Almost 1.2 million people from 32 Latin American and Caribbean countries, including 152,000 Cubans, have benefited from the Operation Miracle free eye surgery program, implemented by Cuba four years ago. The announcement was made on Monday by Dr. Elia Rosa Lemus, an official of the Cuban Council of State, speaking at the Health and Sports Commission of the Cuban Parliament. Lemus noted that this humanitarian project, which is part of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), aims at treating – free of charge – people affected by blindness or correctable diminished sight. According to Dr. Lemus, the program has 51 ophthalmological centers and 84 surgical positions in more than 30 countries. In 2008 alone, she added, the program has benefited more than 48,000 Cubans. In addition, Lemus stressed, Cuba has a school of ophthalmology in which almost 1,000 youths are currently studying, which will contribute to increase these ophthalmological services to other peoples in need. The 12 permanent working commissions of the Cuban National Assembly (Parliament), constituted with a provisional nature last May, are in session on Monday and Tuesday at Havana’s Convention Center. Each commission discusses specific topics related to the social and economic life of the country. Más de un millón de personas beneficiadas con Misión MilagroCuban News This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Canadian MPs Sign Support for Cuban Five PDF Print E-mail

Canadian Network on Cuba StatementJointly with La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-CubaJuly 7,2008

On the initiative of Francine Lalonde, Bloc Québécois MP for La Pointe-de-l’Île and Foreign Affairs critic, 56 Members of Parliament signed a letter demanding justice for the Five Cubans imprisoned in the United States and for their families. In a good collaborative gesture with the Bloc Québécois, Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East, organized the letter signing within the New Democratic Party.

The letter explaining the case of the Five was signed by 40 Bloc Québécois and 16 New Democratic Party MPs. During the week of June 23-27, 2008 the letter was forwarded to the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada with copy to Mr. Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States, and Mr. David Wilkins, Ambassador of the United States to Canada. The letter indicates that Fernando González Llort, René González Sehwerert, Antonio GuerreroRodríguez, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo and Ramón Labañino Salazar, known internationally as the “Five” and imprisoned in the United States for more than 9 years, have undergone an unfair trial and conditions of detention which contravene the Constitution of the United States and international law.

The letter signed by 56 MPs hinges, inter alia, on Amnesty International, on the United Nations Working Group on arbitrary detentions, which stems from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and also on a group of 110 British members of Parliament who denounced the conditions of the trial and the imprisonment. The letter also mentions that these five people are held in five separate maximum security prisons and are kept for long periods in isolation cells; two of them have been denied their right to family visits. It also states that, since the Atlanta Court of Appeal declared that the verdicts against the Cuban Five were invalid, nothing justifies their imprisonment any longer or the arbitrary situation that is extremely painful for the Cuban Five and their families.

In 1998 the Cuban government had given to the American authorities a thick report which showed that terrorist acts were being plotted on American soil by anti-Cuba groups living primarily in Miami. The information was gathered largely from data collected by the Cuban Five who had infiltrated these groups; but rather than acting on this information, it was the Cuban Five who were arrested on September 12, 1998.

Other members of Parliament in the world have denounced the injustice made against the Five and theirfamilies, such as Karel De Gucht, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who made a statement last June30th.

In Québec, in addition to many ordinary citizens, well-known personalities such as ClaudetteCarbonneau, president of the CSN, Elsie Lefebvre, Bloc Québécois Party former MP as well as 93 personalities gave their support to the Five. In Canada, Ms. Libby Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver East, gathered signatures of other MPs from her party. The support of the NDP MPs for the Five is added to that of the Labour Congress of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Students, among others.In October 2007 Ms. Francine Lalonde met in her office of Pointe-aux-Trembles, with Ms. ElizabethPalmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino, one of the Five.

Canadian Network on Cuba

Working in friendship and solidarity with This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Canadian Network on Cuba was founded on September 2, 2002 by representatives of Canada-Cuba solidarity organizations, trade unions, NGOs, and political parties. The Canadian Network on Cuba and the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba support fully the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party in this joint call for justice and add our voices to those of our MPs. We will continue in our joint efforts to bring justice for the Five by making their case known to the public of Québec and Canada and also in collaboration with other justice seeking organizations in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

We demand justice for the Five and their families!

Contact:Nino Pagliccia 604-831-9821; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Canada & US Break US Blockade of Cuba PDF Print E-mail

Canadian and US Humanitarian Aid Arrives in Cuba

– Breaking US blockade against Cuba The Friendshipment Caravan arrived in Cuba this July weekend with 100 tons of humanitarian aid after overcoming some impediments at the US-Mexico border where US customs agents seized 35 computers from them. These computers were destined for classrooms, clinic and hospitals in Cuba. These are 31 classrooms, clinics and hospitals that now will not have the opportunity to have computers." Smith vowed to "maintain a demonstration until we get the computers back"

The U.S. government has forced the issue by turning back on previous actions and nderstandings" said Rev. Lucius Walker, Executive Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. "They have intentionally provoked and harassed us, he continued. "We will not be intimidated. We have made every effort to be cooperative and they have responded with aggression. These computers are the same type as the hundreds we have taken in the past", said Rev. Walker. Members of the Pastors for Peace caravan quickly launched an emergency outreach campaign to their elected representatives, local community networks, and local media.They demonstrated in the Customs compound, chanting" Si se puede" and "Cuba si, bloqueo no."
The Caravan brought a humanitarian donation of computers, vehicles, medical equipment, and educational, artistic and sports equipment.

The members of Pastors for Peace, which is a project of the US’s Inter-religious Foundation for the Community Organization, with numerous other non religious organizations from Canada and the US collected the aid during a tour of 12 cities in Canada and 125 in the United States

The caravanistas are challenging an inhumane US law by delivering aid and traveling to Cuba without a license. They range in age from 8 to 86, and include Irish, British, German, and Canadian citizens as well as US citizens. Seven members of the caravan are Cuban-Americans.  The Caravan also includes a contingent of hip hop and spoken word artists who will be meeting up with their fellow artists in Cuba. Although they come from a broad variety of ages and backgrounds, the caravanistas are united in their determination to bring an end to the immoral and unjust blockade against Cuba. Explaining why they are participating in this year's Friendshipment Caravan, caravanistas said: "A person does not need an ancestral connection with Cuba in order to believe that what America has done and continues to do is not only immoral but also denies us [US citizens] our right to travel as Americans." "It is our obligation as citizens to be informed about what is happening 90 miles off our shores; I am addressing this by witnessing it with my own eyes." Pastors for Peace is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), an ecumenical agency with a 40-year history of work for social justice.
Rev. Walker added that during this tour they explained the case of the Cuban Five – as they are internationally known – who were arrested in 1998 for infiltrating anti-Cuba right-wing groups in South Florida that were organizing and carrying out terrorist actions against the Caribbean nation.

On Monday, the solidarity group will participate in a workshop on the Cuban economic development and its electoral system. Later, they will pay tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King and will also attend a rally in solidarity with Cuba at the Jose Marti National Library in the Cuban capital.
More information and photo images of the caravan are available at more info about the Cuban Five: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Website in USA:

Sovereignty and Food Security PDF Print E-mail


Esteemed Comandante Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua,

Distinguished presidents and high representatives,

The facts speak clearly for themselves. In 2005, we used to pay 250 dollars for every ton of rice we imported; now we pay 1,050 dollars, four times as much. For a ton of wheat, we used to pay 132 dollars; now we pay 330 dollars, two and a half times as much. For a ton of corn, we used to pay 82 dollars; now we pay 230 dollars, nearly three times as much. For a ton of powdered milk, we used to pay 2,200 dollars; now it's 4,800 dollars. This is a perverse and unsustainable trend.

Cuba's Fidel Castro warned of food crisis a year ago PDF Print E-mail

By Marc Frank
HAVANA (Reuters) - As global fears about food security mount with riots in Africa and panic buying elsewhere, one world figure can sit back and say he warned a year ago of a coming food crisis -- Fidel Castro.

Cuba's ailing revolutionary has not appeared in public since he underwent intestinal surgery in July 2006 from which he has never fully recovered.

He finally retired as president in February but from his sickbed he has been writing columns on world affairs since March 2007, when he launched an attack on the biofuels policy of his ideological enemy, the United States, saying it was pushing up food prices and threatening global famine.

UN Representative Praises Respect for Human Rights in Cuba PDF Print E-mail

Havana, Dec 11 (acn) UN resident coordinator in Cuba Susan McDade congratulated the island on Monday for its respect for human rights.

In a press conference at the UN venue in Havana, McDade recognized the free and universal nature of medical services on the island and also
the access to education at all levels.

She also noted that the ongoing efforts to level all the people's capacity to acquire a basic food basket reflects the government's political will and respect of these and other rights.

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