Cuban 5 freed and reunited in Cuba

On 17 December, Raul Castro welcomed Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez and Antonio Guerrero back onto Cuban soil after 16 years of incarceration in US prisons. They were reunited with Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez who were released in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The return of the Cuban 5 is an historic victory for Cuba. It also represents a defeat for the corrupt US justice system and for the right-wing Cuban exile community whose political leverage is weakening.

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US opens talks with socialist Cuba

On 21 and 22 January, Cuba and the US held direct talks about restoring diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The meeting in Havana took place one month after the historic announcements made simultaneously on 17 December 2014 by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro about a thaw in US–Cuban relations. This included a prisoner swap which finally freed the remaining Cuban anti-terrorist agents imprisoned in the US, known as the Cuban 5. This followed 18 months of secret talks facilitated by Canada and the Vatican. The tactical change by the US administration reflects the failure of its Cuba policy, and economic and strategic developments which put competitive pressure on US capitalists who do not benefit from the blockade. Helen Yaffe reports.

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Message from Revolutionary Cuba

The Revolutionary Communist Group, which founded Rock Around the Blockade, a campaign in solidarity with socialist Cuba is delighted to receive this message after the release of the Cuban 5:

Dear Comrades,

Many thanks for your letter of congratulation from The Revolutionary Communist Group in support of The Cuban Revolution. I take this opportunity to convey to all of you in the Party this message from our Cuban Communist Party.

In Comradership, Jorge Luis, Cuban Embassy


With a great joy, only compared to that of the historic triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st1959, our people celebrate the return to the homeland of the five anti-terrorist heroes, unjustly incarcerated in U.S. jails for more than 16 years and the decision of the Cuban and U.S governments to reestablish diplomatic relations and to work for their normalization. The only thing left is the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed upon Cuba.

United States finally acknowledged, in the words of its own President Barack Obama, that the policy of hostility and blockade for more than half a century had failed and that, instead of isolating Cuba, it contributed to the international isolation of that country.

This historic victory was possible, in the first place, thanks to the long struggle of our revolutionary people under the leadership of our top leaders Fidel and Raúl, and also to the solidarian encouragement that we have received from our friends all over the world throughout these five decades.

Therefore, we would like to convey to all parties and political, social and mass forces and organizations, as well as to personalities and to all friends of Cuba who have accompanied us, our most sincere gratitude for their confidence on the Cuban Revolution. We are convinced that we can continue counting on your support for the new challenges ahead of us under the new circumstances of today. We can assure you that Cuba will continue to defend the ideals of independence, national sovereignty and socialism.

Department of International Relations
Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Leading Cuban biotech product now available in Europe

On 29 September 2014 Granma International reported that the Cuban- developed Heberprot-P, the only drug of its kind in the world capable of enhancing the healing process of ulcers in diabetics and reducing the risk of amputation, was officially registered in Turkey. Through Turkey it will now be available on the European market. This could have a huge impact on diabetics in Europe. Various multinational companies had previously resisted the registration of the drug in order to protect their profits and comply with the US blockade.

Heberprot-P has benefited some 31,000 Cuban patients and more than 150,000 from 20 other countries to date. Luis Herrera of the Cuban Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, states that the availability of the medicine in Turkey ‘should enable the prevention of 40,000 to 50,000 amputations…we are talking about a nation of 80 million inhabitants, an estimated five million of whom are diabetic. 100,000 people a year suffer from foot ulcers, no less than 60,000 of whom should be able to buy this medicine’. The World Health Organisation estimates 366 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and 10-15% of them develop ulcers.

The blockade of Cuba prevents US citizens from accessing Heberprot-P, despite the fact that the drug was patented in the US a few years ago. It is clear that the country needs this drug, with 9.3% of the population suffering from diabetes. Cuba’s advances in pharmaceutical industries will continue to put pressure on the US blockade. The blockade has sought to strangle Cuba’s socialist economy since 1962. As Heberprot-P demonstrates, it is not only an offence against Cuba; it denies crucial technology and medicine to patients across the globe.
Smash the immoral and illegal US blockade!

Paul Mallon

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 242 December 2014/January 2015

Socialist Cuba makes advances in renewable energy

Cuba plans to generate 24% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, including 14% from the sugar industry. Wind power will account for 6%, solar 3% and hydro-electric 1%. 

Sugar mills have long produced their own power using bagasse – fibrous sugar cane remnants. Bagasse biomass is an efficient and renewable energy source. Liobel Perez, spokesman for Azcuba, the state run enterprise which replaced the Ministry of Sugar in 2011, notes ‘The carbon dioxide produced in the generation of electricity is the same amount that the sugar cane absorbs when it grows, which means there is an environmental balance.’ Azcuba is tasked with increasing sugar production and developing industry from its by-products. Production is steadily rising – last year 1.6m tonnes of sugar were produced.  Currently 3.5% of electricity is generated from sugar. The plan is to install bioelectric plants in 20 of Cuba’s 56 sugar mills, generating 755 megawatts for the national grid. This will cost $1.29bn, from government loans and regulated foreign investment. The first plant will be built near Ciro Redondo sugar mill as a joint venture between Azcuba and British firm Havana Energy.  It is due to open in 2016, producing energy using bagasse and marabou, a woody shrub cleared from arable land.  

The Cuban Revolution is known for its permaculture and environmental policies. The 2006 World Wildlife Fund’s ‘Living Planet’ report identified Cuba as the only country in the world with sustainable development, combining a low ecological footprint with a high human development index. Energy production from sugar industry waste evokes Che Guevara’s vision when creating the Cuban Institute of Research on Sugar Cane Derivatives in 1963: ‘the day will come when sugar cane derivatives will be as important to the national economy as sugar is today.’*

Cal Shaw

* Che Guevara: the economics of revolution, Helen Yaffe, p178. 

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 242 December 2014/January 2015

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  6. Bacardi – new advertising, same agenda /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014
  7. Tweets, terrorists and mercenaries renewed attacks on Cuba /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014
  8. Cuban double agent reveals CIA machinations in Cuba
  9. Cuba inaugurates new port with international partners /FRFI 238 Apr/May 2014
  10. RATB hosts international rally for the Cuban Five in the heart of London /FRFI 238 Apr/May 2014
  11. Free the Cuban Five! International activists rally in Trafalgar Square, London, 9 March 2014
  12. Havana Summit: building regional solidarity
  13. Pressure to end the US blockade of Cuba grows – even in the US / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  14. Cuba steps towards monetary unification / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  15. RATB challenges PayPal’s block on its account due to US Blockade
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  17. Cuban socialism: training doctors for the world /FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  18. Hypocritical outcry over Cuban arms to North Korea/FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  19. US blockade ‘attempted genocide’/FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  20. FAO congratulates Fidel/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  21. Cuba and the US terror lists/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  22. Cuban elections: triumph of democracy /FRFI 232 Apr/May 2013
  23. The grotesque circus of Yoani Sanchez /FRFI 232 Apr/May 2013
  24. US ‘democracy’ programme Exposed /FRFI 231 Feb/Mar 2013
  25. Breakthroughs in the fight against cancer /FRFI 231 Feb/Mar 2013