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


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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

Victory! The Cuban 5 are finally free!

Raul Castro and The Cuban 5

After 16 unjust years of imprisonment, on 17 December 2014, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero, the three remaining members of the Cuban 5, returned to Cuba following their release from US gaols. This is a defeat for the corrupt US justice system and massive victory for Cuba, particularly for anti-terrorist Gerardo Hernandez who was serving two life sentences plus 15 years.

The five Cuban heroes were arrested in 1998 and tried in Miami in 2001, in the midst of a hostile media storm whipped up by journalists in the pay of the US government. Denied a fair trial, they were found guilty of charges ranging from spying to conspiracy to commit murder and endangering the security of the United States. These men had been working to foil the persistent attempts by right-wing counter-revolutionary groups in the United States to commit acts of sabotage and terrorism against Socialist Cuba. These attacks included 78 bombings, 61 hijackings of planes and boats, biological attacks of dengue and swine fever, and 58 attacks from the sea, killing at least 3,478 people in total. The Cuban 5 were guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to protect their country against terrorism. Their case Illustrates the hypocrisy of the US ‘War on Terror’.

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  1. New York Times demands a ‘new start’ for US-Cuba relations
  2. World Bank finds Cuban education best in Latin America and the Caribbean
  3. Another USAID attack on Cuba
  4. Cuba approves new foreign investment law to support development
  5. Bacardi – new advertising, same agenda /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014
  6. Tweets, terrorists and mercenaries renewed attacks on Cuba /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014
  7. Cuban double agent reveals CIA machinations in Cuba
  8. Cuba inaugurates new port with international partners /FRFI 238 Apr/May 2014
  9. RATB hosts international rally for the Cuban Five in the heart of London /FRFI 238 Apr/May 2014
  10. Free the Cuban Five! International activists rally in Trafalgar Square, London, 9 March 2014
  11. Havana Summit: building regional solidarity
  12. Pressure to end the US blockade of Cuba grows – even in the US / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  13. Cuba steps towards monetary unification / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  14. RATB challenges PayPal’s block on its account due to US Blockade
  15. RATB challenges PayPal’s block on its account due to US Blockade
  16. Cuban socialism: training doctors for the world /FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  17. Hypocritical outcry over Cuban arms to North Korea/FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  18. US blockade ‘attempted genocide’/FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  19. FAO congratulates Fidel/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  20. Cuba and the US terror lists/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  21. Cuban elections: triumph of democracy /FRFI 232 Apr/May 2013
  22. The grotesque circus of Yoani Sanchez /FRFI 232 Apr/May 2013
  23. US ‘democracy’ programme Exposed /FRFI 231 Feb/Mar 2013
  24. Breakthroughs in the fight against cancer /FRFI 231 Feb/Mar 2013
  25. Death of a revolutionary - Enrique Oltuski Osacki/FRFI 231 Feb/Mar 2013