Cuba: 4 articles

Improving access to land and cultivation in Cuba

On 23 November 2008, a collective of workers and farmers in San Agustin in Camaguey province, central-eastern Cuba, celebrated the first official hand-over of land in ‘usufruct’ (as a free loan) with a day of voluntary work in homage to Che Guevara. HELEN YAFFE reports

13 farmers each received their property titles in return for a commitment to cultivate 12.5 acres of land with vegetables, grains and fruits, as well as breeding cattle and other animals. This is part of a new campaign to give access to currently idle land to Cubans who apply to turn it to production. The producers do not pay rent, nor can they purchase the land, but it is granted in usufruct for ten years to individuals and for 25 years for collectives and cooperatives. The land cannot be sold or transferred to third parties and the new farmers of the land must pay taxes and sell an agreed proportion of their produce to the state at fixed prices.

This measure reflects a drive to increase production – without permanently changing property relations. It does not signify a preference for ‘private’ or decentralised production. This point was underlined by President Raul Castro who, whilst introducing the new law in July 2008, told the National Assembly: ‘I am a firm admirer and defender of large socialist state enterprises, be they agricultural, industrial, or otherwise.’

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Guantanamo: rule of law upheld – torture condemned

On 21 January 2009, President Obama made the long-awaited announcement that the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay will be closed within the year. This was followed by orders to:

• abolish the secret worldwide network of CIA ‘ghost prisons’
• ban the use of torture by restricting CIA operatives to the US Field Army Manual, which explicitly rules out the use of torture, coercion, physical abuse and threats
• end illegal ‘rendition flights’
• halt and review the use of the infamous ‘military commission’ courts.

The previous day, in his inauguration speech, Obama signalled the new US administration’s commitment to international treaties on human rights, in particular the Geneva Conventions.

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Che Guevara: A battle cry against imperialism

FRFI 169 October / November 2002

che flag

‘Let the flag under which we fight be the sacred cause of the liberation of humanity’

35 years ago this October, Ernesto Che Guevara was arrested, tortured and murdered by CIA-trained Bolivian soldiers. After playing a leading role in the Cuban Revolution, both in the war of liberation and in building socialism after 1959, he had travelled as a revolutionary first to Africa and then Bolivia, with the aim of carrying out in practice his call to build ‘two, three and many Vietnams’.

Che Guevara was a revolutionary fighter, an internationalist and, first and last, a communist. His political and economic writings remain vital weapons in the hands of all socialists and continue to inspire those fighting against imperialism around the world today. His example, far from being that of some long-forgotten student icon of the 1960s, remains as vibrant today as the triumph of Cuba’s socialist revolution that it embodies, and lives on in the pledge of successive generations of Cuban school children each morning: ‘We will be like Che!’ As imperialism prepares itself once again for war against the poor of the world, we do well to remember Che’s call: ‘Let every action be a battle cry against imperialism and a call for the unity of the peoples against the great enemy of the human race, the United States of North America.’

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