May 14, 2016 - No. 20

Trudeau Government's Electoral Reform Program

Current Situation Underscores
Urgent Need for a Political Movement
Led by the Workers

MLPC National Leader Initiates Discussion on the
Liberals' Program of Electoral Reforms

Government Plan to Change First-Past-the-Post System
Set in Motion

Alberta Wildfires
Extraordinary Efforts Have Extinguished the Fire
Within the City of Fort McMurray

The Responsibilities of Government to the People of Fort McMurray
Activating the Human Factor/Social Consciousness Is Decisive
- Peggy Askin -

68th Anniversary of Al-Nakba
Palestinian People Fight for the Right of Return
Nakba Day Marked with Calls to Affirm Right of Return
Increasing Israeli Annexation, Repression and Impunity
The Nakba at 68: A Catastrophe Born of Discrimination and Impunity
- Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council -

All Out to Oppose the Coup in Brazil!
Brazilian President Calls for Mobilizations to
Overturn Coup Against the Popular Masses

Popular Forces and Political Organizations Mobilize
Against the Coup

International Condemnation
Humanity Against the Coup In Brazil
- Network in Defence of Humanity -

Victorious Conclusion of 7th Congress of Communist Party of Cuba
Report by First Party Secretary Raúl Castro
Elaborates Congress Agenda

The Cuban People Will Overcome
- Message of Fidel Castro Ruz -
The Construction of a Prosperous, Sustainable, and Irrevocable Socialism in Cuba Demands that the Principles of Justice
and Equality at the Revolution's Foundation Be Preserved

- Closing Remarks by Raúl Castro -

Crisis of European Nation-States in the Middle East
100th Anniversary of Colonial Sykes-Picot Agreement
- Dougal MacDonald -

Trudeau Government's Electoral Reform Program

Current Situation Underscores Urgent Need for a Political Movement Led by the Workers

On May 7, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) held a meeting at the Party's Workers' Centre in Toronto to discuss the challenges facing the workers' movement today. The meeting specifically addressed the neo-liberal anti-social offensive which aims to abolish any state arrangements standing in the way of making the monopolies competitive on global markets. In this way, supranational decisions seek to dispose of the territory of the country and its natural, human and financial resources in a manner which governments deem will favour the monopoly interests they represent.

The introductory remarks of the chairperson pointed out that this requires the depoliticization of the polity so that the resistance of the people is rendered ineffective. This salient feature of the neo-liberal offensive is a hallmark of the new Trudeau government. It is perfecting the methods used to abolish any vestiges of the public authority established in the 19th century and reorganized after WWII. The Liberal actions seem designed to smash the political movement of the workers and people. If its program were to be summed up in five words or less, the expression anti-politics comes to mind.

Following the introduction, Rolf Gerstenberger, President of the Party, which is registered for electoral purposes under the name Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC), appealed to the workers to put themselves at the head of a political movement of the people by making sure the resistance movement to the anti-social offensive is not smashed. This can be done, he said, if we continue to develop the independent politics of the working class. He emphasized that the success of this work depends on building the kind of party the working people need to affirm their right to participate in taking decisions which affect their lives. He put the MLPC at the disposal of the working people to achieve this aim.

Elaborating the role of the political parties of the establishment, Rolf addressed the way these parties attempt to divert the movements of the people away from their aim of finding solutions to the objective problems confronting them. Rather than providing Canadians with a nation-building aim and working to raise the ideological and political level of the people so that they can achieve it, the cartel parties in the Parliament serve to lower the level of political discourse to scandal-mongering, war-mongering and nonsense about there being no alternative to the austerity agenda and their program to pay the rich. These establishment political parties regard the people and their collectives as nothing more than vote banks.

Rolf used the Liberal Party's recent announcement about changing its structure to become "more of a movement" to illustrate this point. He pointed out that the Liberals themselves have declared that the aim of their new party constitution has nothing to do with democratizing the party as one of the institutions which supposedly involve the people in the democratic process. It is to get themselves re-elected in 2019. He also referred to the pressure on the NDP at its recent convention to achieve the same.

Pierre Chénier also addressed the meeting. Pierre is known for his contributions to smashing the silence on the living and working conditions of workers in every sector of the economy and for his articles which share the experience of organized collectives of workers in resisting the anti-social offensive. Pierre elaborated the ideological basis of some of the anti-social measures the Liberals are taking.

The Workers' Centre also invited Anna Di Carlo, National Leader of the MLPC to address the significance of the Liberal program for reform of what are called the democratic institutions and the methods of consultation they are using (see item below).

The Workers' Centre announced that discussions will be organized across the country to emphasize the need for the people to develop their own political movement and independent stands that put the democratic renewal of the political process to empower the people at centre stage.

The meeting was followed by a moving musical tribute to mark the centenary of the 1916 Irish Rebellion and a buffet dinner.

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MLPC National Leader Initiates Discussion on the Liberals' Program of Electoral Reforms

Anna Di Carlo, National Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, used the occasion of the May 7 meeting at the Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L) in Toronto to address the significance of the Liberal government's program for electoral reform. She explained the necessity of putting the Liberals' proposals within the context of the history of electoral reform in Canada over the past five decades.

The Liberal program of electoral reform basically consists of changing the way that votes are counted and translated into seats in the House of Commons. This serves to divide the polity into camps which favour one method of counting votes over another while the fundamental question of the crisis of democracy itself is not even broached. It serves to glorify voting as "the most basic democratic exercise" precisely at a time when the people are saying that voting every four or five years is not enough. The people need to focus on the problem of the party system of government itself and how it works to keep them out of power, and on how the electoral law enshrines privilege and arbitrariness, as illustrated by the methods proposed by the Liberals for consultation and decision-making about electoral reform.

Anna pointed out that this year marks the 50th anniversary of an important date in the history of electoral reform in Canada. In October 1966, the Advisory Committee to Study Curtailment of Election Expenses (the Barbeau Committee) presented its report. The report became the reference point for legislation enacted from 1970 to 1974 by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau to entrench the domination of political parties over the electoral and political process. This is significant because the new volley of reforms the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau wants enacted continue along the same path.

The Barbeau Committee was established in 1964 by the Pearson Liberal government, at a time when the political parties of the establishment were facing serious financial crisis. Without members to sustain them, the political parties in the House of Commons were almost completely reliant on banks, corporations and big trade unions. This was causing a crisis of credibility and legitimacy. Many of the corporations financing these parties were based in the U.S., in a period marked by broad political opposition to the U.S. takeover of the Canadian economy and the related economic problems and to Canada's support and complicity in U.S. imperialist aggression and war. The youth and student movement of this period, Anna noted in her remarks, gave rise to a political movement that did not accept the political process based on 19th century liberal conceptions. She pointed out that it was in this period that The Internationalists, the precursor organization of CPC(M-L), gave rise to a force that would not reconcile itself with the political marginalization of the people that is integral to liberal democracy.

The crisis of the party system in the 1965-66 period emerged as a financial one, but at its root was the anachronistic character of the party-dominated system of representative democracy which reduces the role of the people to nothing more than voting every four or five years for candidates and political programs over which they exercise no control. Rather than addressing the profound flaws of the system -- which had already been revealed by 1914 before WWI -- and creating mechanisms that would enable the people to exercise their right to elect and to be elected, the political parties in the House of Commons mapped out a program to entrench their power and privilege over the polity. They were legally set up as appendages of the state serving to keep people out of power. This all made a mockery of the right to freedom of association and the democratic concept of political parties as civic organizations funded by members who therefore controlled their aims and decisions.

This was the period when concepts such as "third parties" were brought into the political discourse. Thereafter, to make the system "fair," organizations of the people would not be allowed to spend money during elections. That is, they would have to subordinate themselves to whatever programs were presented by the ruling elite. It was the period when the ruling elite declared that if the political parties could not fund themselves without relying on vested interests, they should be funded by the state so as to eliminate the perception that they were in the pockets of the rich. It was also during this period that the concepts of "major" and "minor" parties was brought forward in an attempt to legitimize the unequal treatment of political parties. So too at this time, the candidate selection process that is dominated by the party leader was entrenched in law. This eliminated the prior freedom of party constituency associations to decide, while negating the need for all members of the polity to be enabled to determine who should stand for election.

The details of the reforms of this period were worked out primarily in closed-door meetings amongst the political parties in the House of Commons. That is, they established how they would compete for power amongst themselves and how privileges would be accorded to them. It took almost a full decade for the political arrangement to be hammered out, resulting in the Canada Elections Act of 1974.

Since that time, one series of self-serving electoral reforms has followed another, all aimed at further entrenching the power and privilege of political parties and their domination over the polity. They have now established a cartel party system -- a kind of mafia which fights for turf and eliminates usurpers. Anna said that the electoral reforms proposed by the Liberals are more of the same. They should be discussed for purposes of understanding how the people are disempowered but the aim of the discussion must be to reject proposals that pay lip-service to the need to modernize democracy, and contribute to the development of the independent politics of the working class on this matter.

In conclusion, the objective problem which electoral reforms must address is that of enabling all members of the polity to participate in the decision-making process so that they can exercise control over the direction of the economy and all matters in the social, political, cultural and any other domains. Reforms that do not address this problem should more precisely be referred to as negotiations and renegotiations of the mafia arrangement of the ruling elite to continue to exercise their domination over the electoral and political process and ensure the political marginalization of the people. They have nothing to do with enabling the people to exercise control over the affairs of the society.

In subsequent issues, TML Weekly will review the history of reforms to the electoral law and the history of political parties, as well as provide extensive information on current reform proposals, both those of the government and other establishment parties, social forces and those put forward by the MLPC. TML Weekly calls on Canadians to oppose the anti-politics which seek to keep the people disinformed and consequently disempowered.

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Government Plan to Change
First-Past-the-Post System Set in Motion

The Liberal Government is creating a special All-Party Committee on Electoral Reform (specifically, alternative voting systems). A notice of motion was tabled in the House of Commons by Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef on May 11.

"Special committees," in contrast to standing committees of the House of Commons, are established to conduct inquiries on matters that the House deems to be of great or special national importance. In this case, it seems that the Liberal Party of Canada has decided that ending the first-past-the-post system is a singular matter of national importance which warrants a special committee.

Addressing the House , Monsef said of her motion: "Mr. Speaker, it is a good day for Canadian democracy. Today we delivered on our commitment to establish an all-party parliamentary committee to study and bring forward recommendations to bring our electoral system into the 21st century. We have taken a unique approach and we have shown leadership by including all parties, the Bloc, the Green Party, the NDP, and the Conservatives, around this table. I will add that this is the only committee that has all parties at the table. I look forward to the collaborative approach we will all take."

The 10-member Committee will be dominated by the Liberal Party of Canada with six members; Conservatives -- three; and NDP -- one. Each party Whip will be allowed to select their representatives for the committee. The Green Party and Bloc Quebecois will be allowed one ex-officio member each which means they can attend and speak, but will not have voting rights nor be allowed to move motions because they fail to meet the 12-seat threshold for recognized party status in the House of Commons. The government makes no mention anywhere of the the existence of Canada's other 18 registered political parties and their place in the consultations and deliberations.

The other parties in the House do not agree that what the Liberals are doing is at all collaborative and are challenging the government's decision to maintain its majority position within the committee, as well as its claim that the election gave the government a mandate to end the first-past-the-post system with or without a referendum. Speaking for the Official Opposition, Conservative MP Andrew Scheer noted that 60 per cent of Canadians voted against the Liberals and stated: "Mr. Speaker, if Liberals feel that the very system that elected them is illegitimate, then they cannot claim to have a mandate to make such a fundamental change to our voting system. Now they are setting up a committee that is designed to give them the answer that is best for them, and they have given themselves a majority on the committee as they attempt to bring in changes that will solely benefit them."

Mandate and Guiding Principles

The motion mandates the committee to "identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems, such as preferential ballots and proportional representation, to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting..."

It also sets out five "principles" that are to be used to evaluate various alternate systems:

"(a) Effectiveness and legitimacy: that the proposed measure would increase public confidence among Canadians that their democratic will, as expressed by their votes, will be fairly translated and that the proposed measure reduces distortion and strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives;

"(b) Engagement: that the proposed measure would encourage voting and participation in the democratic process, foster greater civility and collaboration in politics, enhance social cohesion and offer opportunities for inclusion of underrepresented groups in the political process;

"(c) Accessibility and inclusiveness: that the proposed measure would avoid undue complexity in the voting process, while respecting the other principles, and that it would support access by all eligible voters regardless of physical or social condition;

"(d) Integrity: that the proposed measure can be implemented while safeguarding public trust in the election process, by ensuring reliable and verifiable results obtained through an effective and objective process that is secure and preserves vote secrecy for individual Canadians; [and]

"(e) Local representation: that the proposed measure would ensure accountability and recognize the value that Canadians attach to community, to Members of Parliament understanding local conditions and advancing local needs at the national level, and to having access to Members of Parliament to facilitate resolution of their concerns and participation in the democratic process."


The motion directs the Committee to issue an invitation to each Member of Parliament to conduct a town hall on electoral reform in their riding and provide a report on input from their constituents. It is also tasked with consulting experts, relevant organizations, research studies and literature as well as reviewing models of voting systems elsewhere; and conducting a "national engagement process that includes a comprehensive and inclusive consultation with Canadians through written submissions and online engagement tools."

In working out its consulation agenda, working methods and recommendations for electoral reform, the Liberals direct the Committee to adopt "the goal of strengthening the inclusion of all Canadians in our diverse society, including women, Indigenous peoples, youth, seniors, Canadians with disabilities, new Canadians and residents of rural and remote communities."

Time Frame

According to the time frame set by the Liberals, the Committee will have until December 1, 2016 to conduct its inquiry and consultations and deliver its report to Parliament. A deadline of October 1 has been set for Members of Parliament to conduct local consultations and submit their 338 reports to the Committee on what their constituents have said.

Commenting on the roll-out of the Liberal plan for electoral reform, Anna Di Carlo, National Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, stated that the MLPC will seriously study what the Liberals are proposing, both the content the government party is putting forward and the process it is proposing to use to consult Canadians. It will involve workers, women, youth and seniors in considering the various questions involved and in deciding how to respond. The MLPC will also elaborate on its own proposals for electoral reform to empower Canadians.

She added that from first glance, there are several worrisome aspects.

"The unequal treatment of political parties is clearly embodied in this first step that the Liberals are taking. It does not bode well. If we limit our consideration to the issue of eliminating the first-past-the-post system, one of the key problems is the marginalization of political parties that do not support the status quo and are fighting for alternatives. This is not just the marginalization of political parties such as the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, it is the marginalization of the people who hold political views that do not correspond to those of Canada's ruling elite, particularly the vast number of people who oppose the anti-social neo-liberal agenda. Starting off by not even mentioning the existence of all of Canada's registered political parties makes a mockery of the claim that the Liberals want to make 'every vote count.'"

Anna also expressed concern about the time frame set by the Liberals.

"It does not at all look serious. Students will be away from their institutions, so their important collective input will be sacrificed. In any case, five to six months to conduct this kind of study and consultation and make recommendations, including gathering and reporting on the opinions of the people in 338 ridings, is more than a tall order. Anyone harbouring illusions about the Trudeau government actually giving the people a say on electoral reform will be dissappointed," Anna said.

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Alberta Wildfires

Extraordinary Efforts Have Extinguished the Fire Within the City of Fort McMurray

TML Weekly salutes the workers and people of Fort McMurray for their acts of self-sacrifice and social solidarity. We salute the tremendous dedication of the firefighters who have given it their all and then more, saving more than 90 per cent of Fort McMurray, even as they continue to battle the wildfires. Stories of people stepping up to help with food, fuel, emergency supplies, donations of clothing and other essentials, cash donations and fund-raising are legion.

We are pleased to receive the reports that their efforts have successfully prevailed to bring the wildfire that suddenly engulfed two neighbourhoods on May 3 under control. Despite this, Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order as it is not yet safe for people to return. While the fire in Fort McMurray is finally out, power, water and gas must first be restored, the hospital re-opened and other measures taken to allow people to safely return.

Premier Rachel Notley has indicated that the government will provide a schedule for re-entry to Fort McMurray within two weeks. Telephone "town halls" are being scheduled nightly to receive updated information, with close to 16,000 people calling in on May 9. She has pledged that her government will stand with the people of Fort McMurray to rebuild.

This issue of TML Weekly reports on the level of devastation caused by the wildfire as established to date.

Information on Losses and Emergency Measures

We express our deepest condolences to the families, friends and workmates of the two young people who tragically died in an accident during the evacuation. There are no other known human casualties of the fire at this time.

The loss of 2,400 structures out of a total of 25,000 has now been confirmed. Several neighbourhoods were almost completely destroyed, but the firefighters held the line. The water treatment plant, the hospital, all schools except one under construction, municipal buildings, and the entire downtown area are intact.

This a testament to the self-sacrificing work of the firefighters, first responders and emergency personnel, health care workers, water treatment plant workers and many, many others.

Premier Notley announced that more than 90,000 people have evacuated (44,882 households). More than 40,000 have taken refuge in Edmonton, 5,000 in Calgary and another 2,000 in Lac La Biche. Some 25,000 evacuees have registered with authorities but have not indicated where they are staying. About 25,000 people evacuated to work camps or First Nations communities in the north. Everyone has now been moved out of the work camps by air or road. Thirteen reception centres were established throughout the province. Most people have now been able to move out of the centres, which are being widely utilized for meals and other services. The government has stated that it is working to move people to more comfortable, transitional accommodations as quickly as possible. Many people are with family or friends, in university and college residences which opened their doors to accommodate people, with people who have opened their homes to strangers, or in private accommodation such as hotels.

Emergency funds are being made available to every evacuee through pre-paid debit cards by the Alberta government beginning May 11. Schools are welcoming all students who wish to return to their studies.

Premier Notley also reported on her meeting with the CEOs of the major companies in the oil sands to discuss plans to restart production. None of the oil sands facilities sustained any "consequential damage" according to the government, and plans are already underway for a return to normal production. A press release states, "The Alberta Energy Regulator has created a recovery team to assist on planning for the safe and environmentally responsible resumption of operations. The regulator is working with each affected company on a start-up plan. This work will include appropriate authorizations, inspections, monitoring and logistical support to get sites operational."

The Alberta government reported on May 12 that fire conditions remain extreme, with one fire out of control, one being held, 10 under control and six turned over to the responsible parties. There were no new starts on May 12. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo reported on May 12 that the fire covers 241,457 hectares (2,414 square kilometres) and is being fought by more than 700 firefighters utilizing 134 pieces of heavy equipment, 13 helicopters and 13 air tankers.

Calgary city workers lend a hand in Fort McMurray

(Photos: City of Calgary, C. R. August)

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The Responsibilities of Government to the
People of Fort McMurray

Aerial view of Fort McMurray. (Alberta Government)

The provincial government has provided some immediate funding to allow evacuees to purchase some necessities. Each adult is receiving $1,250 in emergency funding plus $500 for each dependent. Emergency housing is also being provided, although people with home insurance in most cases will be able to recover expenses from their insurance companies. In addition, the Red Cross will utilize $50 million of the funds collected to provide $600 to each adult and $300 for each child displaced by the fire.

All levels of government have been encouraging people to donate to the Red Cross, saying they will match every dollar donated. The fund currently has $54 million in donations, to be matched by both the federal and provincial governments for a total of $162 million. While the generosity of Canadians is truly amazing, it is a government responsibility, starting with the federal government, to ensure that each and every worker and their families are given the assistance needed to rebuild their lives.

For instance, thousands of people have lost everything. While such an experience is traumatic for anyone, some people are especially hard hit. Many if not most renters have no insurance. Many are low-wage workers and workers who struggle to make ends meet because of the high cost of housing and other services in the city. Many come from communities across Canada and the world because their own local economies have been devastated by neo-liberal globalization. Returning home is not an option but they are now displaced once more.

Besides this, Alberta already has a high level of unemployment. So what is to be done? While the oil sands plants are expected to start up production quickly, thousands of other workers will be out of work for an indefinite period of time. None of these workers should be left to fend for themselves.

The situation clearly requires additional measures to make sure the most vulnerable do not have to fend for themselves.

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Activating the Human Factor/Social
Consciousness Is Decisive

The people of Fort McMurray, especially the firefighters, first responders, water treatment plant workers, health care workers, and all the workers who carried out their responsibilities with courage and dedication, have shown what is most precious about Canada's working class and people. They put the lie to the gloom and doom, apocalyptic visions of the future which declare that human beings cannot solve the problems facing us.

One of the lessons of Fort McMurray is to strengthen our determination as workers to set our own agenda and determine our own living and working conditions. The right of the working class and people to live in safe communities cannot be negated under the hoax that "there is no money." New approaches are required both to forest management and the building of towns and cities in the boreal forest. We need to act collectively to affirm our right to uphold the public interest against the demands of the rich for austerity and destruction of the public authority. Decision-making cannot be left to the monopolies or be based on their outlook for a big score.

This is not a problem that can be swept aside. Forest scientists explain that the extent of burn in the boreal forest has increased substantially and is expected to continue to do so. The Fort McMurray fire was an example of a 30-30-30 "perfect storm" -- temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, wind greater than 30 kilometres per hour and humidity below 30 per cent. With more and more people living in the forest and huge industrial plants located there, the danger to human life is real. Of great concern also is the threat to the Indigenous communities.

Fire is the way the boreal forest regenerates. It is crucial to forest renewal and new growth. At the end of the forest life cycle of about 100 years, a boreal forest is largely made up of mature black spruce and full of dry and dead underbrush. It is ready to burn and must do so to regenerate. Lodgepole and jack pine, spruce, birch and aspen actually rely on high-intensity crown fires for regeneration.[1]

Canada has now been suppressing wildfires for more than 100 years. In 1971, more than half of Alberta's boreal forest was deemed to be young, with about a third classified as immature, five per cent considered mature and a small portion deemed "overmature." By 2011, however, that had changed to less than 10 per cent young, about a quarter immature, more than 40 per cent mature, and more than 20 per cent overmature.[2]

This means that a huge part of the forest is ready for renewal through fire even without decreased rainfall or warming. On average since 1980, in Canada 8,600 wildfires have burned 2.5 million hectares each year, with only 3 per cent of fires responsible for 97 per cent of area burned. Fires caused by lightning account for only 31 per cent of all fires but the vast majority of the area burned.[3]

Researchers such as Mike Flannigan at the University of Alberta have noted the effect of El Niño this year in creating the warm and dry climate conditions leading to a severe beginning to the wildfire season. They have also explained that climate change has increased the severity of wildfires for three reasons: overall increases in temperatures leading to longer fire seasons; greater frequency of lightning due to increased moisture in a warmer atmosphere; and increasing evaporation of water from soil and plants into the atmosphere, driven by the ability of the atmosphere to hold more moisture in warmer temperatures (a process called evapotranspiration).

Fort McMurray is the second devastating fire to destroy a significant part of a town or city in Alberta in less than five years. In 2011, the Slave Lake fire destroyed more than one-third of the town. Following that fire, an expert panel was commissioned to make recommendations to prevent future tragedies. The final report from the Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee was submitted to the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development on May 12, 2012. The report can be found here. Many recommendations were made both with regards to fire-fighting capacity and organization and longer-term approaches such as reducing fuel load including the removal of mature coniferous forest from a wide band around cities and towns in the boreal forest.

On September 26, 2013, sixteen months after the report was issued, the PC government of the day in Alberta formally accepted all 21 recommendations contained in the report. The government announced that it had provided the paltry sum of $18 million in new money to start work on the recommendation that required additional funding, including enhancing firefighting capacity and FireSmart initiatives. The government said at that time, "Additional funds will be requested in upcoming years to complete implementation. The total funding request is anticipated to be approximately $705 million, of which approximately $500 million will be for hazardous fuel reduction treatments (FireSmart)." However, what actually happened was that the PCs allocated only $7 million for hazardous fuel reduction programs and said that it would take 20 years to fully implement the report.

"Lack of money" is cited again and again as the reason that the recommendations from firefighting experts and other scientists are not implemented. It is noteworthy that the oil sands plants all are constructed with the kind of firebreaks which allow protection from wildfire. On the other hand, communities in Ft. McMurray were built as fingers into mature boreal forest. Making communities safe for the workers and their families is not a luxury nor an option. With Alberta's high level of unemployment, there is no dearth of workers available to rebuild their community, and to make this and other forest communities much safer. This investment must be realized from the oil and gas industry and sectors of the economy which seize the added-value created by these workers.


1. A crown fire is a forest fire that advances with great speed jumping from crown to crown ahead of the ground fire. The ignition of a crown fire, termed crowning, is dependent on the density of the suspended material, canopy height, canopy continuity, and sufficient surface and ladder fires in order to reach the tree crowns.

2. National Post, May 4, 2016.

3. Natural Resources Canada.

(Photos: Alberta Gov., C. Tait)

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68th Anniversary of Al-Nakba

Palestinian People Fight for the Right of Return

All Out to Support the Just Struggle of the Palestinian People!
Affirm the Right of Return!

March of Return, on lands of destroyed village of Hadatha, near Tiberias,
April 23, 2015, highlight the memory of the Nakba (disaster).


May 15, 2016 commemorates the 68th anniversary of Al-Nakba.[1]  It marks the beginning of the forcible expulsion and exile from their land of 750,000 Palestinians by Zionist militias. In the immediate aftermath, approximately 4,244,776 acres of land were stolen and annexed into the Zionist state which had declared its existence four days previously. By 1949 this state occupied 78 per cent of Palestinian land. Between 1948 and 1950 more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were systematically destroyed or repopulated. Today, more than half of the 11.5 million-strong Palestinian people are refugees from the Nakba and subsequent forced displacement and genocide.

On May 15 the Palestinian people joined by the people of all countries solemnly commemorate the terror and suffering which continues to be inflicted and affirm their right of return. Their resistance will never cease until the right of the Palestinian people to their homeland and their right to be is secured. The more than 7 million Palestinian refugees stand as one with the people living under Zionist occupation inside and outside Israel in pledging that they will return to build a nation which no longer experiences the humiliation, racism, genocide and constant punishment endured during 68 years of occupation and state terrorism. The peoples of the world must affirm with renewed vigour that there is no more pressing injustice to be rectified than the Zionist occupation of Palestine and all the heinous crimes perpetrated under its existence.

The right of return is well-founded in international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination affirms this right with the emphasis that it cannot be denied on the basis of "race, color, or national or ethnic origin." The Fourth Geneva Convention states that persons evacuated by an Occupying Power during warfare must be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities cease. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights states, "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country." UN General Assembly Resolution 194 adopted on December 11, 1948 declares that the Palestinian refugees "wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." Resolution 194 has been reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly more than 110 times since its first adoption. UN General Assembly Resolution 3236 adopted in 1974 affirms "the inalienable right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return."

Sixty-eight years later, the Zionist occupation of Palestine and continued exile of millions of Palestinians remain illegitimate. Without any legitimacy, the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people relies on U.S. imperialism and its dictum of Might Makes Right, as well as other countries that are part of the imperialist system of states including Canada. To this end the right of the Palestinian people to return and march ahead with their nation-building project is anathema to the U.S. imperialists who require the Zionist state to maintain its occupation in order to carry out subversion against the peoples of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the whole of West Asia and Northern Africa.

The Palestinian people and Palestinian youth the world over are eager to return to their homeland. They are eager to return to the place from which their parents and grandparents were brutally expelled and build a bright future for themselves. Palestinians are burning to see their country free from a ruthless occupation which continues to take so many lives with impunity. They are fighting every day to make it a reality. The Palestinian people today reject all the old equations which insist that they must conciliate with the occupation and give up their right to be. On Nakba Day 2016, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) salutes the Palestinian people for their steadfastness and continued sacrifice and calls on the Canadian people to step up the work to ensure that the brutal rule over the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank is ended and the right of return affirmed.


1. "Al-Nakba" means "catastrophe," "disaster" or "cataclysm." In Arabic: النكبة

(With files from CPC(M-L) archives; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. Photos/Graphics: Activestills, C. Latuff, B. Korotzer.)

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Nakba Day Marked with Calls to Affirm
Right of Return

March of Return, Negev, May 12, 2016.

Millions are expected to take part in events commemorating the 68th anniversary of Al-Nakba on May 15 around the world. Marches of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Nakba Day.

Events began in Palestine on May 12 with the 19th annual March of Return. This year the march was held near Bedouin towns in the Negev (Naqab), a desert region occupied by Israel since 1948. Thousands of Palestinians, waving their national flag and holding banners marched across the Negev demanding the recognition of the right to return for Palestinian refugees and those internally displaced from their villages in Israel.

The March of Return is staged each year from the site of a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948. The march was launched this year from the destroyed village of Wadi Zubala and continued near the town of Rahat to underscore Israel's ongoing destruction of Bedouin villages throughout the Negev. Israeli forces have been undertaking a wave of demolitions against the approximately 160,000 Bedouins residing in villages not recognized by the state of Israel.

This year, the event was attended by local Palestinians, activists, rights leaders, Knesset (Israeli parliament) members, and leaders of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. A moment of silence was held in memory of the Palestinians killed and displaced in 1948, and was followed by the crowd pledging to preserve the Bedouin lands of the Negev and renewing their commitment to the Right to Return.

Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and head of the Arab Joint List of deputies told the crowd that this march was particularly important because residents who were displaced from the village of Wadi Zubala in 1948 fled to the unrecognized Bedouin towns of Atir and Umm al-Hiran. Both villages are now slated for demolition to make room for Zionist settlers.

Odeh referred to the pending demolitions as "the continuing Nakba" and added that "the issue of Nakba is not an issue of the past, but an issue especially important for the future." "Recognizing the Nakba, and working on correcting this injustice is the only way to ensure a just peace and achieve real reconciliation between the two peoples," he said.

Mohammad Barakeh, former Knesset member and head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, gave closing remarks to the crowd: "The Zionist movement hopes that adults will die young and the young will forget, but we insist on passing down memories [of the Nakba] from generation to generation."

"We are here in the Negev to remember a time almost forgotten, when 600,000 to 700,000 Palestinians were expelled to the Sinai and Jordan in 1948. Some forget the crimes of displacement in the Negev. But we are here to make our blood and the blood of our people in the Negev known, and their right to return to the Negev, and our peoples' right to return [to their lands] everywhere."

(Ma'an News Agency. Photos: Ma'an, MEE)

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Increasing Israeli Annexation,
Repression and Impunity

As the 68th anniversary of Al-Nakba is commemorated, the crimes of Israel's occupation increase in severity, including further annexation of Palestinian land, harsh repression and violence against the Palestinian people and impunity on the part of Israeli forces committing crimes.

In March, Israeli authorities announced two major land annexations in the occupied West Bank amounting to nearly 1,000 acres. Israel notified Palestinians in three villages, al-Sawiya, al-Lubban al-Sharqiya and Qaryout on March 21 that their land would be declared "state land" and be integrated into the Israeli settlement Eli. A week before, land along the corridor between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea was taken for use in the Israeli tourism industry. These annexations further isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank and divide the West Bank from north to south.

Land expropriated as "state land," March 2016. Click to enlarge.

On April 23 Israeli authorities delivered notices to the Palestinian village of Jalud in the north of the occupied West Bank that a further 1,250 acres of land would be annexed into illegal settlements in the area. It will be likewise classified as "state land" which means it will be under the control of the Israeli military. News agencies reported that the official rationale given for the land confiscation was "security reasons." Ghassan Daghlas, an official from the Palestinian Authority told media that the claims of "security reasons" are "a tool to cover up land robberies for settlement construction." There are now more than 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem built since the territories' occupation by Israel in 1967.

On May 6, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees' and Ex-Detainees' Affairs informed that Israel has arrested 5,677 Palestinians since October 2015. During the same period, 210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, the head of the commission accused Israeli authorities of spreading terror and panic among Palestinians while employing force on a daily basis to take individuals into custody. Ferwana further expressed concern about the physical and mental torture exercised by Israeli forces against prisoners.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with many held under so-called administrative detention. Administrative detention is used to imprison Palestinians without trial or charges for up to six months, and can be extended indefinitely. Since August 2015, Israel has increased tensions in the Occupied Territories by imposing restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshippers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Recent incidents of shooting deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces have highlighted the impunity with which such crimes are committed. Hysteria about knife attacks on Israelis have led to increased shooting deaths of Palestinians, including a 14-year-old girl in November 2015 who was allegedly carrying a cheap pair of scissors. The shooter, a police officer was not prosecuted. Another soldier was caught on video executing a Palestinian man after he was wounded. Of 2,600 investigations by the Israeli military into crimes committed by soldiers against Palestinians between 2000 and 2014, only 5 per cent resulted in indictments.

News agencies also report that new Israeli airstrikes were launched against the Gaza Strip from May 4 to 6. On May 5, a Palestinian woman was killed when her home was hit by shells from an Israeli tank. Air raids during the night of May 4 wounded four people, three of them children, medical officials said. The pretext for the attacks were claims by Israel of locating a tunnel leading to outside Gaza. Such tunnels are used to bring in basic necessities and other supplies prohibited by the Israeli blockade and siege.

(Ma'an News Agency, PressTV, Electronic Intifada. Map: Peace Now)

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The Nakba at 68: A Catastrophe Born of
Discrimination and Impunity

As Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (approximately 66 per cent of Palestinian population worldwide) enter the 69th year of forced displacement from, and within, their ancestral homeland, Israel continues to create intolerable living conditions which further swell the number of displaced Palestinians. This ongoing Nakba ('catastrophe') is perpetuated through Israel's denial of the Palestinian refugees' Right of Return, the right to self-determination, and various other Israeli policies, which give rise to forced displacement of Palestinians, including forcible transfer and deportation, as grave breaches of international law. These policies are framed within the wider gamut of perpetual human rights violations being committed by Israel on both sides of the green line, across the entirety of the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

Inside occupied East Jerusalem and so-called 'Area C' (accounting for more than 60 per cent of occupied West Bank land), Israel pursues with complete impunity a policy of forcible transfer of Palestinians by way of -- inter alia -- unlawful land appropriation, home demolitions, denial of residency, restrictions on land access, and extensive settlement expansion. Further, Palestinian residents of these areas are subject to systematic discrimination, harassment and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers and security services alike, producing a highly coercive environment in which Palestinians are often left with little option but to leave their homes and communities.

Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip and its residents -- some 80 per cent of which are registered refugees -- are plunged further into humanitarian crisis, choked by Israel's ongoing punitive closure of this enclave which prevents desperately needed recovery following multiple rounds of Israeli military assault. As a result, many tens of thousands of Palestinians remain internally-displaced within the Gaza Strip, living in inhuman conditions and with no end to their displacement in sight.

This widespread Palestinian suffering is not limited to the borders of Mandate Palestine, however, but also extends to the almost 6.2 million individuals (approximately 49 per cent of Palestinians) who make up the international Palestinian Shatat (Diaspora). Of particular concern is the fate of those in Syria, with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) finding that half a million Palestinian refugees have been directly affected by the unchecked violence of the ongoing armed conflict. More than 60 per cent of these refugees have now experienced multiple phases of displacement inside and outside Syria. Moreover, those refugees who have been forced to seek safety in other states are subjected to either non-refoulment or discrimination by countries of third refuge.

The plight of Palestinian refugees is compounded by structural failings within the very systems which are intended to afford these refugees protection. Palestinian refugees are victims of a grievous protection gap; regularly denied protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention on account of consistent misinterpretation of Article 1D by the domestic courts of state signatories. This provision entitles Palestinian refugees to full protection under the Convention in the event that they are unable to avail themselves of protection or assistance from a dedicated UN agency other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), yet no UN agency is currently providing legal protection, including the seeking of a durable solution, to this displaced population. The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), established with the purpose of seeking a just and durable solution to the Palestinian refugee question, has now lain effectively dormant for more than half a century, thus depriving Palestinian refugees of a UN agency mandated with the provision of legal protection. UNRWA, which is mandated with affording humanitarian protection/assistance to Palestinian refugees living in its five operational areas only, is unable to fill this lacuna on account of chronic funding issues and a mandate which, in its present form, does not incorporate legal protection or the pursuit of an end to the ongoing exile of this displaced population. However, too often domestic courts have employed an overly simplistic interpretation which assumes protection to be present merely by virtue of a Palestinian refugee residing in an area subject to UNRWA's jurisdiction.

This untenable situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency, but also highlights the necessity of implementing a durable solution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law, specifically United Nations General Assembly resolution 194 of 1948, and United Nations Security Council resolution 237 of 1967. This, in turn, can likely only be achieved through the presence of a fully-functioning and fully-supported agency dedicated to pursuing such a solution. Thus, there exists a clear and pressing need to either revive UNCCP, to completely integrate Palestinian refugees into the scope of [the] UNHCR mandate, or to officially extend UNRWA's existing mandate -- both in its core content and geographic scope, as well as its funding base -- so as to provide comprehensive protection to Palestinian refugees. Failure to do so is to maintain a status quo where international protection is absent, with Palestinians condemned to a fate of acute hardship and further displacement.

Accordingly, we, the undersigned members of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, make the following recommendations:

1. That the international community takes all measures to ensure Israel's compliance with its obligations under IHL [international humanitarian law] and IHRL [international human rights law] and calls on Israel to cease those policies and practices which adversely affect the protected population. The international community is thus reminded that forcible transfer and deportation amount to grave breaches of IHL and, as such, States must not recognize the ensuing situation as lawful, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation. The international community should further call for immediate cessation of such activities and seek guarantees of non-repetition and reparations;

2. That the international community, including third party states, regional bodies and other relevant actors, genuinely strives to secure international protection -- including durable solutions -- for Palestinian refugees, and primarily, their Right of Return and to self-determination;

3. That UN agencies and bodies, including UNRWA and UNHCR, take all available measures to close the legal protection gap suffered by Palestinian refugees, including lobbying for the consistent and just interpretation of Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention by domestic courts;

4. That the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization make concerted efforts to press concerned states and international agencies to meet their responsibilities, particularly with a view to fulfilling their obligations relating to non-refoulment, and non-discrimination.

(May 12, 2016)

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All Out to Oppose the Coup in Brazil!

Brazilian President Calls for Mobilizations to
Overturn Coup Against the Popular Masses

Mass rally against coup, Sao Paulo, May 12, 2016. (Vermelho)

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced on May 12 the dissolution of her government after the vote the day before by the forces of counterrevolution in the Brazilian Senate to subject her to a fraudulent impeachment trial. Shortly after, the Brazilian Senate installed as president Michel Temer, the former neo-liberal Vice-President of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and a leader of the coup. Temer, like other forces behind the coup, are under investigation for serious allegations of corruption and financial impropriety. Temer and other PMDB figures have already announced their intentions to implement broad cuts to social programs.[1]

Addressing thousands of Brazilians who gathered outside the presidential palace in support of the Workers' Party government, Dilma called on everyone to remain mobilized. "It is a fight we are going to win. It depends on all of us -- let's show the world the millions of people who defend democracy in our country," she said.

Mass protests took place throughout Brazil on May 12 calling for the arrest of Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house of Congress who spearheaded the impeachment process against the President, and for the ouster of coup leader Michel Temer. Guilherme Boulos, national coordinator of the Homeless Workers Movement said that Brazilians are entering into a state of permanent mobilization to defeat the coup.

The May 11 Senate session lasted nearly 24 hours amidst mass protests throughout Brazil and around the world in support of Rousseff and the Brazilian government. All-night vigils were held and demonstrations continued the morning of May 12. According to the framework for the "trial," the President must relinquish power for a period of 180 days.

The fraudulent basis of the move to impeach Rousseff was further exposed on May 11 when Brazilian Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo addressed the Senate. He affirmed that President Rousseff has not been charged with any crimes and has no serious allegations against her and that the so-called impeachment process is not based on constitutional legality. Cardozo emphasized the fact that what was taking place is a coup, not a valid legal process. He made reference to those who were wrongly accused and persecuted under the the 1964 dictatorship, "I will be on the right side of history because I defended the Constitution," he said.

Women march on Senate protesting coup, May 11, 2016. (Vermelho)


1. On May 12 reports from Wikileaks pointed out that according to U.S. diplomatic cables Michel Temer was an informant for the U.S. embassy in Brazil on at least two occasions in 2006. The cables show that the information Temer provided to the U.S. about the political situation of Brazil and its government were forwarded to the National Security Council, Secretary of State and U.S. army Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

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Popular Forces and Political Organizations Mobilize Against the Coup

Demonstration in Sao Paulo, May 12, 2016 demands ouster of coup leader Temer. (Xinhua)

The popular forces and political organizations in Brazil have affirmed that regardless of whether the coup and dictatorship being installed consider themselves legal they will continue to fight to defend their gains and overturn the coup. The people of Canada and Quebec join the Brazilian people in saying No! to another U.S.-backed coup and dictatorship in Brazil. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) pledges its resources to support the fighting people of Brazil at this time.

Comrade Luciana Santos, National President of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) issued a statement on May 12 calling on Brazilians to fight for democracy and defeat the Senate coup. The PCdoB is a member of the Brazilian Popular Front and has 10 seats in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and one seat in the Senate. Under the legitimate Brazilian government its deputy Aldo Rebelo served as Minister of Defence.

Santos emphasized that Brazil has now entered a period of uncertainty and tension. She pointed out that President Rousseff was elected by more than 54 million votes and that the situation is characterized by the confrontation of two blocs, one of which has a legitimate mandate and the other which is marked by illegality and enthroned by a coup. Santos called for a vigorous approach to the new stage of struggle against the coup, and for the Popular Front of Brazil to amplify its strengths and mobilize with enthusiasm to defeat the coup.

"During the reactionary developments [leading to the coup], the first woman to occupy the post of President of Brazil faced a lot of hate, intolerance and prejudice. In the face of this aggression and when democracy was imperiled, President Dilma struggled tirelessly and showed political courage. In this way, she will put herself at the head of the popular mobilization to preserve democracy, defeat the coup and defend the achievements of the period of the Lula and Dilma governments," Santos said.

Santos reiterated the proposal of the PCdoB to hold a referendum on direct presidential elections. "We are convinced that the Brazilian people -- in their sovereign position -- should decide on the best way for the country to overcome the crisis and restore democracy."

Santos gave a call to democratic and popular forces, institutions that support democracy, such as universities, jurists, attorneys, intellectuals, artists and others: "All of us are challenged from this point on to strengthen the mobilization of our people and broad sectors of society to defeat the coup in the Federal Senate."

The National President of the Workers' Party of Brazil (PT) Comrade Rui Falcão, published a communique following the decision of the Brazilian Senate to proceed with the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff. The PT is part of the Popular Front and is the party of President Rousseff and previous Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. It holds 57 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 in the Senate. Before the coup PT legislators held the most positions in the government cabinet which also included members of the coup-supporting PMDB and six other parties.

The commuique from the Workers' Party National President stated:

"The admission of the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, approved by the Federal Senate, is a continuation of the coup against democracy and the Constitution.

"Once again in our history the elites have trampled over the vote of the people, paving the way for the imposition of an illegitimate government.

"The country is being stormed by the worst exponents of the oligarchies of power, the media monopoly, and plutocracy. Defeated in the polls, they resort to an institutional farce to overthrow a president elected by the majority of the people and who has committed no crime.

"The setback suffered on this May 11, led by the forces of infamy, treachery and coup-mongering, will be met with renewed vigour to fight for the restoration of the constitution and the acquittal of President Dilma Rousseff in the forthcoming judicial review.

"The Workers' Party, side by side with the other members of the Popular Front of Brazil and the People Without Fear Front and all democratic forces, will continue its mobilization in the streets and national institutions.

"We are confident that the workers in the countryside and in the city, the progressive intellectuals, the youth and women will continue to fulfill their leading role in fighting for legality.

"We shall spread the protest against usurpation and the coup to every corner of this country.

"Our mobilization, pluralistic and unitarian, is much more than support for the government led by our Party. Above all, we stand for democratic order and we repudiate the coup mongers' program, as they plan to lower wages; reverse the minimum wage appreciation policy; meddle with the rights of retirees; annul constitutionally mandated funds earmarked for health and education -- in short, theirs is a regressive, anti-popular, and anti-national program.

"We shall not rest a minute until the President of all the Brazilians, chosen in free and direct elections, is back at the head of the State, as this is the sovereign and constitutional will of the Brazilian people.

"No to the Coup! Temer Out!
"We Will Be Back!"

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International Condemnation

Sao Paulo, May 12, 2016. (Xinhua)

World leaders and regional institutions issued statements on May 12 in support of the legitimate government of Brazil and condemning the coup d'etat executed on May 11 against President Dilma Rousseff.


The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) issued a special communique May 12 expressing the rejection of its member countries -- Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela -- of the coup in Brazil. It said in part:

"Oligarchic sectors, with the support of imperialist interests, transnational corporations and media groups, intend to restore neoliberalism in Brazil and other countries in our region, are seeking to align Brazilian foreign policy with imperial interests and dismantle social programs of the PT governments, which have largely benefited millions of Brazilian citizens, as never before in the history of that sister nation, in areas such as food, health, housing and education and social security.

"The attack against the will of millions of Brazilians expressed at the ballot boxes, is a new expression of the reactionary counter-offensive aimed at overthrowing governments that have favored the most needy, and if consummated, it would threaten democracy, peace and stability in Brazil and in our region, as well as the validity of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the II Summit of CELAC held in Havana in 2014.

"We, the member countries of the ALBA-TCP, express our firmest solidarity with President Dilma Rousseff and the leader of the Workers' Party, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, also subjected to harassment by right-wing factors. We reiterate our support to the brave Brazilian people, who have gone to the streets to reject this abominable action."


Ernesto Samper, secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations, told TeleSUR that Dilma Rousseff remained "the legitimate leader" of the Brazilian people and maintains "democratic legitimacy" by virtue of having been re-elected in 2014.

"What has happened in Brazil, is a parliamentary political majority is challenging the citizen's majority that expressed themselves in a clear way in favor of Rousseff," said Samper referring to the 2014 re-election of President Rousseff.


A declaration from Cuba's revolutionary government released by the Ministry of External Relations on May 12 said:

"The revolutionary government of the Republic of Cuba has repeatedly denounced the parliamentary-judicial coup d'etat, disguised with legality, which has been developing in Brazil for months. A majority of Brazilian Senators decided to continue the process of impeachment of the legitimately elected President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and with this have "provisionally" removed her from office for a period of 180 days, during which the Senate must decide, via a two-thirds majority vote of its members, to definitively dismiss her.

"This is in reality a ruse mounted by sectors of the country's oligarchy, supported by the reactionary corporate press and imperialism, with the purpose of reversing the Workers Party's political project, overthrowing the legitimate government, and usurping the power they were unable to win at the ballot box.

"What has occurred in Brazil is part of the reactionary counter-offensive launched by imperialism and the oligarchy against revolutionary and progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, which threatens the peace and stability of nations, violating the spirit and letter of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the region's heads of state and government during the 2nd CELAC Summit, held in January of 2014 in Havana.

"As President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, said during the closing of the National Assembly of People's Power VI Period of Ordinary Sessions, this past December 29, 'History demonstrates that when the right takes government power, it does not hesitate to dismatle social policies, provide the rich benefits, reestablish neoliberalism, and apply shock therapies against workers, women and youth.'

"The Brazilian people, left political forces, and combatitive social movements in this nation reject this coup, and with Lula and Dilma at the front, will oppose any attempt to dismantle the important social programs developed by the Workers' Party governments, such as 'Bolsa Familia,' 'Más Médicos,' 'Mi Casa-Mi Vida,' and 'Hambre Cero' which have changed the lives of tens of millions of persons in this country.

"Dilma, Lula, the Workers' Party, and the people of Brazil can count, and always count, on Cuba's absolute solidarity."


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela issued a statement May 12 condemning the coup. The statement said, in part:

"The legitimate president, Dilma Rousseff, the first woman elected as head of state in Brazil, is facing an onslaught motivated by revenge of those factors that lost the elections and are unable to reach political power by other means than force.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recognizes the moral heritage, dignity and historical ability to fight of President Dilma Rousseff, who has demonstrated by her example and humanist vocation to be a guarantee for democracy, social programs of the Brazilian people and South American unity.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela considers that the coup in development has been forged from the very moment of the election of President Dilma Rousseff, through the implementation of actions linked to a soft coup, such as sabotage, disinformation, and lies, even to the extent of trying to prevent any Brazilian sporting events of great global significance, with the aim of discrediting the government and its authorities.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has no doubt that all these actions are part of the oligarchic and imperial onslaught against progressive leftist popular processes with the sole purpose of re-imposing neo-liberal models of social exclusion and spoliation of our natural wealth that brought poverty and backwardness for our people and thereby ending the democratizing models.

A demonstration took place in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela at 2:00 pm on May 12 to support Brazil's legitimate government.


The Ministry of External Affairs of Ecuador issued a statement by the government on May 12 expressing deep concern over the developments occurring in Brazil. The statement reiterated Ecuador's "strong support for the people of Brazil and the constitutional government of President Rousseff, who legitimately holds the mandate of the people expressed in the last democratic elections..."

"Faced with the threat of a serious change from the constitutional order, with profound consequences for the whole region, Ecuador appeals to the full exercise and preservation of democratic institutions and values that sustain it, as well as the principles reflected in the Treaty establishing UNASUR, as essential elements for achieving peace, justice and the integration of the peoples of Latin America."


Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, issued a statement on May 12 calling the suspension of President Rousseff a "parliamentary and judicial coup." Morales stated, "We condemn this attack on democracy and economic stability in Brazil and the region."

Speaking on television the same day, Morales expressed solidarity with Dilma and noted, "Before there were military coups, now they carry out congressional judicial coups against anti-imperialist presidents."


Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, the poet Rosario Murillo, sent a letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and to her political mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, expressing their solidarity.

"We have followed with indignation and rejection, the disgraceful and anti-democratic process that has overshadowed the seriousness and strength of the institutions in Brazil, where the struggle and strength of the Workers' Party has been and remains essential, to ensure freedom and justice.

"We are not surprised by the arguments and political games used by the right-wing, as always they are indeed to weaken or decapitate the Popular Processes for Liberation from Poverty and the Transformation of Oppressive Culture," the letter says.

"Dilma, comrade... Lula, brother, comrade, we are with you... united in this fight and work to step to the future ...

"The people united will never be defeated!"

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Humanity Against the Coup In Brazil

The undersigned, intellectuals, artists, writers and researchers from all over the world denounce the coup underway in Brazil and stand in solidarity with President Dilma Rousseff who was elected by 54 million Brazilians only one-and-a-half years ago.

This is not a traditional "political trial," as the Globo Group [a media monopoly] is attempting to present it. Michel Temer, the visible face of the coup, has already expressed his intentions to bring the private banking sector into the public sphere and to focus in particular on a social policy of austerity for the poorest 5 per cent of the country, which would mean to exclude the 36 million people from the Bolsa Familia [social program]. In addition Temer intends to move toward agreements with the United States and the European Union "with or without the Mercosur." In short his perspective is a Government for the elite of his country distanced from the majority and to wipe out forever the experience that the country had under the government of the Workers' Party.

Temer envisions himself to be the "new Macri" of Brazil, using the new government of Argentina as his model and advancing toward the dismantling of the state rarely seen in Argentina. It is not surprising then that the Foreign Ministry of that neighbouring country has shamelessly supported the coup in Brazil under the guise of supporting its institutions. For everything that the coup makers have expressed and with their links to big business we consider the coup of the President de facto Michael Temer illegitimate and illegal. He has long ago proven that he is a corrupt politician who takes his orders from the darkest parts of the predatory oligarchy of that country.

We are appealing to UNASUR to apply the established Protocol stating a Commitment to Democracy adopted by all the countries of the organization that could put the brakes on the breakdown of the democratic thread in Brazil. We also demand that the presidents and governments of the world do not recognize Temer and to demand the return of the legitimately elected President Dilma Rousseff. They should also end the political crisis by calling for an immediate presidential election -- made by the President herself -- so that the Brazilian people can once again express themselves by democratic means and not by an imposed coup d'état by a questionable and corrupt Congress.

Nao vai ter golpe!

Executive Secretariat REDH

To add to the statement send your name to:

For updates on signatories, click here.

(May 12, 2016)

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Victorious Conclusion of 7th Congress of Communist Party of Cuba

Report by First Party Secretary Raúl Castro
Elaborates Congress Agenda

The development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological resolve, constitute the principal missions of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), First Secretary Raúl Castro said, during the inaugural session of the 7th Party Congress on April 16.

PCC First Secretary Raúl Castro Ruz, before presenting the Central Report to the 7th Congress, evoked the 55th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution, on April 16, 1961, on the eve of the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón, which was defeated in less than 72 hours, with Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz on the front lines. He also noted that 1,000 delegates and some 280 invitees, representing the Party's 600,000 members, organized in 54,000 grassroots units, were participating in the Congress.

The First Secretary noted that the Congress would include the presentation of four principal draft documents, work on several of which began after the previous Congress: the conceptualization of Cuba's socio-economic model; the development plan through 2030; a report on the implementation of the guidelines over the last five years and their updating for the period 2016-2020; and an analysis of Party objectives approved at the First National Party Conference.

These documents, he insisted, must not be considered finished works, or an ideological prism, but will be enriched during the commissions' debates, and subsequently submitted to periodic review, maintaining a dynamic vision of their content.

On this occasion, he clarified, a major process of public debate and consultation on these documents was not held, because they are considered a continuation of the lines agreed upon five years ago, to update the country's socio-economic model.

Additionally, he said, these documents reflect the collective work of many different professionals, and were analyzed during two Central Committee Plenums, a process which led to the submission of 900 opinions and suggestions, included in the latest version.

Raúl noted that this is the first time a Party Congress has considered the conceptualization of the country's socio-economic model, one which outlines the essential foundations of the society to which Cubans aspire, to be reached via the process of updating underway.

The conceptualization and the basis of the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, following their analysis during the Congress, will not be approved at this event, but rather will go on to be debated by Party and Union of Communist Youth members, representatives of mass organizations and different sectors of society, with the aim of enriching and perfecting said plan, Raúl noted.

Raúl requested that the 7th Congress authorize the Central Committee to introduce the modifications resulting from this consultation process and the final approval by the National Assembly of People's Power.

Regarding progress in the implementation of the Guidelines, Raúl noted that since they were approved it was made clear that "the process of implementation will not be an easy path, free of obstacles and contradictions," and that the fundamental transformations in the updating of the economic model would take over five years to implement, which has been demonstrated in practice.

Regarding the main obstacles encountered during this process, he mentioned outdated mindsets and resistant attitudes.

Efforts to implement the Guidelines have been systematic, he stated, adding that 21 per cent of the 313 approved guidelines have been implemented, while 77 per cent are in the process and 2 per cent have yet to be initiated.

However, he admitted, the slow implementation of legal regulations and their assimilation, has delayed approved policies in practice.

The principle that no one will be left uncared for, determines the updating of the Cuban economic model, undeniably impacted by the global economic crisis and the effects of the U.S. blockade, he added.

Economic decisions can not mean a break with the ideals of social justice of the nation or undermine the unity of the majority of the people around the Party, nor as a result of these measures should instability and uncertainty be generated in the population, he noted.

Focus on the Economy

Referring to the dual currency system in the country, one of the main economic obstacles, Raúl stressed that work in this area has not ceased, and the solution will not be put off indefinitely.

Rectifying this situation, along with other structural distortions of the Cuban economy, will be key to driving forward progress in terms of growth and further development, he noted.

The change to the monetary system will facilitate creating conditions to overcome the adverse effects of egalitarianism and at the same time make the socialist principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his work" a reality.

Among the broader legal norms approved between the Sixth Congress of the PCC and this one, the new Foreign Investment Law is an important engine of the economy. In this regard, Raúl stressed that in addition to the advantages that Law No. 118 offers investors, it guarantees national sovereignty at all times.

The creation of the Mariel Special Development Zone, as a major means of attracting national and foreign investors, is also one of the noteworthy steps in this process, given its ability to generate employment and long-term financing.

Raúl emphasized that, without underestimating in the least the obstacle of the U.S. blockade and its extraterritorial application, archaic prejudices must be left behind, in approaching the new stage in the thawing of relations between the two countries.

Broadly speaking, in terms of foreign investment, the President noted that the focus of investments has changed substantially. For example, while five years ago, levels of investment in the productive sphere and infrastructure reached 45 per cent, in 2015 these areas accumulated 70 per cent of total foreign investment.

He also highlighted that the recognition of the market is not at all at odds with the socialist economy, nor does this mean that the Party, the government and mass organizations will cease to act in situations that negatively affect the population. On the contrary, they should help prevent these from manifesting.

Amid these circumstances, Raúl noted that in general "salaries and pensions are still insufficient to meet the needs of the Cuban family," despite having seen growth in the period from 2010 to 2015.

However, he acknowledged that it has not been possible to extend the budgeted wage increases to the majority of the activities outlined in the approved policy.

(Granma. Photos: Cubadebate)

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The Cuban People Will Overcome

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, Leader of the Cuban Revolution attended and addressed the closing session of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba on April 19. TML Weekly is reprinting below his remarks.


It constitutes a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis. Without them, the changes would be impossible. In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen by the revolutionary people themselves, who delegated their authority to them, for all it represents the greatest honor they have received in their lives, to which is added the privilege of being a revolutionary which is the product of our own consciousness.

Why did I become a socialist, or more plainly, why did I become a communist? That word that expresses the most distorted and maligned concept in history by those who have the privilege of exploiting the poor, dispossessed ever since they were deprived of all the material wealth that work, talent and human energy provide. Since when does man live in this dilemma, throughout time without limit. I know you do not need this explanation but perhaps some listeners do.

I speak simply so it is better understood that I am not ignorant, extremist, or blind, nor did I acquire my ideology of my own accord studying economics.

I did not have a tutor when I was a law and political sciences student, subjects in which they have a great influence. Of course then I was around 20 years old and was fond of sports and mountain climbing. Without a tutor to help me in the study of Marxism-Leninism, I was no more than a theorist and, of course, had total confidence in the Soviet Union. Lenin's work violated after 70 years of Revolution. What a history lesson! It can be affirmed that it should not take another 70 years before another event like the Russian Revolution occurs, in order that humanity have another example of a magnificent social revolution that marked a huge step in the struggle against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.

Perhaps, however, the greatest danger hanging over the earth today derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry which could undermine the peace of the planet and make human life on earth's surface impossible.

The species would disappear like the dinosaurs disappeared, perhaps there will be time for new forms of intelligent life or maybe the sun's heat will grow until it melts all the planets of the solar system and its satellites, as a large number of scientists recognize. If the theories of several of them are true, which we lay people are not unaware of, the practical man must learn more and adapt to reality. If the species survives a much longer space of time the future generations will know much more than we do, but first they will have to solve a huge problem. How to feed the billions of human beings whose realities are inevitably at odds with the limited drinking water and natural resources they need?

Some or perhaps many of you are wondering where are the politics in this speech. Believe me I am sad to say it, but the politics are here in these moderate words. If only numerous human beings would concern ourselves with these realities and not continue as in the times of Adam and Eve eating forbidden apples. Who will feed the thirsty people of Africa with no technology at their disposal, no rain, no dams, no more underground reservoirs than those covered by sands? We will see what the governments, which almost all signed the climate commitments, say.

We must constantly hammer away at these issues and I do not want to elaborate beyond the essentials.

I shall soon turn 90. Such an idea would never have occurred to me and it was never the result of an effort, it was sheer chance. I will soon be like everyone else. We all reach our turn, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, working with fervor and dignity can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain these. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.

This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room. I voted for all the candidates submitted for election by Congress and I appreciate the invitation and the honor of listening to me. I congratulate you all, and firstly, compañero Raúl Castro for his magnificent effort.

We will set forth on the march forward and we will perfect what we should perfect, with the utmost loyalty and united force, just like Martí, Maceo and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.

(Photo: Cubadebate)

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The Construction of a Prosperous, Sustainable,
and Irrevocable Socialism in Cuba Demands
that the Principles of Justice and Equality at the Revolution's Foundation Be Preserved

Closing session of the 7th Congress, April 19, 2016.

Dear Comrade Fidel; Comrades:

We have had intense days of work in this 7th Congress, drawing to a close, during which we have adopted agreements of strategic importance for the present and future of the nation.

The Congress approved the Central Report and several resolutions on the principal subjects analyzed, the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, and their updating was agreed upon, expressed in 274 guidelines.

Likewise, a report on the fulfilment of the First Party Conference Objectives was discussed, and decisions were made to continue strengthening the Party's role as the principal leading force in society and the state, as established in the Constitution of the Republic.

At the same time, the Congress favourably received the proposals presented on the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, and the foundations for the Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, and, considering their importance, approved was the initiation of a broad, democratic debate on these programmatic documents, with the membership of the Party, the Union of Communist Youth [UJC], representatives of mass organizations, and different sectors of society. We hope to conclude this process before the end of the current year, so that the Central Committee, in accordance with the authority granted by the Congress, can definitively approve them.

Given the great complexity of these proposals, it is imperative to adopt all of the required measures in the interest of assuring, in the first place, that they are understood, which implies carrying out rigorous training beforehand of those who will conduct the discussion.

On a subject of this nature, it is essential to achieve the conscious support of the great majority; it is therefore imperative to listen, to reason, and take into consideration the opinions of members and the people in general.

I believe it is appropriate to recall that the process of updating our economic model, which we initiated at the 6th Congress, is not a task of one or two five-year periods. The course has been charted. We will move forward with firm steps, without haste, but without pause, keeping in mind that the pace will depend on the consensus which we are capable of forging within our society, and the organizational capacity we achieve to introduce the necessary changes, without precipitation or, much less, improvisation, which only lead to failure.

Progress toward the updating of our model, and the construction of a prosperous, sustainable, and irrevocable socialism in Cuba, demand that the principles of justice and equality, which have served as the Revolution's foundation, be preserved and strengthened.

A Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble, as Fidel defined it, with undeniable social works constructed, will never find solutions to its problems behind the backs of the people, or with the restoration of capitalism, which would imply the application of shock therapies to layers of the population with the least resources, and destroy the unity and confidence of the majority of our citizens in the Revolution and the Party. In Cuba, I reiterate once again, no one will be left to their fate.

Nor will the agreements of this historic Congress be filed away. On the contrary, we must ensure their fulfilment with order, discipline and high expectations, with a vision of the future, and a great deal of intentionality. Contributing to this is the decision, reaffirmed here, that Central Committee plenums will verify progress being made in the updating of the economic model and the economic plan, at least twice a year, for the number of days, and also the number of times, that may be necessary.

We likewise propose proceeding with the analysis of these issues in sessions of the National Assembly, whose role in the approval of the legislative framework associated with this process continues to be decisive.

Today, this morning, presented were the new Central Committee, Secretariat and Political Bureau, making evident the continuation of the gradual process of renovation and rejuvenation begun at the 6th Congress.

Given the implacable laws of nature, this 7th Congress will be the last led by the historic generation, which will pass on the banners of the Revolution and Socialism to new leaders, without the slightest trace of sadness or pessimism, with the pride of having fulfilled one's duty, convinced that they will be able to continue and magnify the Revolution's work, to which great effort was devoted and life itself, for many generations of compatriots, as we said in the Central Report, since 1868.

The Central Committee is composed of 142 members, of which a bit more than two-thirds were born after the triumph of the Revolution, and the average age was reduced to 54.5 years, younger than in 2011.

At the same time, the Congress agreed to maintain within the leadership of the Party a smaller group of veterans of advanced age from the historic generation, who enjoy authority with the people, given their long revolutionary careers.

As we explained in the Central Report, the next five years will be decisive to guaranteeing the gradual, well-ordered transfer of the principal responsibility for the country to younger generations, a process of special importance which we hope to carry out and conclude with the holding of the 8th Congress in 2021.

The fact that more than 98 per cent of Central Committee members are university graduates is impressive.

The representation of women increased and has now reached 44.37 per cent, as well as that of Blacks and mixed race Cubans, with 35.92 per cent. These figures are higher than those of the previous Congress, but we are not satisfied. It is imperative that all Party, state and government leaders work systematically on the creation of a reserve of mature and experienced replacements to assume the principal responsibilities for the nation, in a just relation to the composition of the Cuban population in terms of skin colour and gender.

The 55 new members of the Central Committee are all under 60 years of age, meeting the maximum age limit established by this Congress for joining this Party leadership body, as we have said, always in the spirit of guaranteeing the ongoing rejuvenation of the leadership.

The maximum of 60 years of age implied the exclusion from the candidature of valuable cadres who occupy positions of great responsibility in the Party, state, and government with the proven records and ability to be members of this leadership body.

The norms setting age limits must be reasonably established in guiding documents of the Party, mass organizations, and, by decision of the National Assembly, also in state and government bodies, in such a way that the positions which should not be assumed by persons over the age of 70 are defined precisely.

The Congress, meanwhile, approved the use of more flexible regulations which will allow for the development of reserves for the subsequent renovation of the Central Committee during this period, without having to wait for the 8th Congress.

I also consider necessary that the functioning of the many associated bodies we have in the Party, state, and government, continues to be strengthened, so that important decisions are always the product of collective analysis, so that honest disagreements and different opinions are not excluded.

The Political Bureau is composed of 17 members. Five new members joined the body, Comrades Miriam Nicado García, Teresa Amarelle Boué and Marta Ayala Ávila; and Comrades Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento and Roberto Morales Ojeda.

These promotions are not fortuitous or improvised.

In the case of Comrade Miriam Nicado, she is a Mathematical Sciences PhD, and has for several years served as rector of the Computer Sciences University (UCI). Previously, at the Marta Abreu Central University in Las Villas, she was a professor and gradually assumed greater responsibilities, before becoming the deputy rector for teaching. She studied in the Soviet Union for five years, and later another year of specialization.

Comrade Teresa Amarelle has been the general secretary of the national leadership of the Federation of Cuban Women since 2012. She was a middle school teacher and went on to undertake professional duties in the UJC, where she served as second and first secretary of the municipal committee of the organization in Amancio Rodríguez. Later she was gradually promoted in the Party in the same municipality, and held the position of first secretary, after which she was elected to the same responsibility at the provincial level in Las Tunas.

The Doctor of Biological Sciences Marta Ayala -- I think she is the youngest, although among women these things should not be mentioned -- has had an ascending career at the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which has led her from the role of aspiring researcher, to head of laboratory, to deputy director, until being recently promoted to deputy general director of this important scientific centre, where she has conducted research aimed at creating vaccines for the treatment of cancer. She is currently a member of the Party Provincial Committee in Havana.

Meanwhile, Comrade Ulises Guilarte has been general secretary of the Cuban Workers' Federation since 2013. He has held various responsibilities as a union leader in Cienfuegos and secretary general of the Construction Workers Union in Havana. He later went on to work as a Party professional, and was deputy head of the Central Committee Department of Industry and Construction, and was promoted to first secretary of the Provincial Committee in Havana, and later in the nascent, experimental province of Artemisa.

Finally, Comrade Roberto Morales has been Public Health Minister for the past six years. Upon graduating, he worked as a polyclinic doctor in the municipality of Rodas, director of Public Health at that level and later in the province of Cienfuegos. In the Party he was a professional official at the municipal and provincial level and first secretary in Cienfuegos, until his appointment to join the Central Committee Secretariat.

The five new members of the Political Bureau are also under 60 years of age -- a sign of what could be across our entire leadership -- of humble backgrounds, who worked from the grassroots, were political leaders at different levels until reaching the top leadership of the Party with exquisite and profound experience. Naturally, these same conditions are present in much or the majority of the rest of the Political Bureau, although they have not had the same methodical transition as those noted above. Some of us develop without a university degree, but at full speed, and, as you can appreciate, they have accumulated a rich service record from the grassroots, exercising the professions they studied at university, not as has occurred many times, that on obtaining a university degree, we place it on the wall of our front room to display it, but we never work in the specialty.

We already corrected this at the past Congress, and I think there have been good results. Work should be done at the grassroots, there can be no preconceived leaders, everyone who graduates must work five years at least at the basic level in the specialty which they studied at the university, and gradually, according to their ability, be promoted, without ever ceasing to study, as Fidel always taught us, especially the military; a military man must study his entire life, just as a professional cadre of the Party, a leader of our state, for one reason or another, in one place or another, and not live off the title hanging on the wall of the front room of our homes.

In my own case, I thank you for the honour of being elected, for the second time, as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in the knowledge that my main mission is to defend, preserve, and continue perfecting Cuban socialism and never allow for a return to capitalism.

Among the set of major tasks in my role, I will devote the necessary time to the process of reforming the Constitution of the Republic -- on which, with a group of comrades, we have advanced somewhat, or at the very least exchanged opinions -- to introduce the relevant adjustments, after 40 years in effect, in line with the changes that have occurred on the international level, and the modifications resulting from the process of updating the economic and social model that, naturally, need to be defined before proposing to add them for the new Constitution.

The development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace, unity and our ideological resolve, constitute the principal missions of the Party.

This concept can not remain a simple phrase, it must be filled with concrete content in action and measures to enable us to make the vision of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation a reality.

Before concluding, on behalf of the participants in this Congress and of all Cubans, I wish to convey our support for the sister peoples of the Third World, especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean, which face the ambitions of the right wing and transnational capital to bury the social achievements reached over decades of struggle.

We reiterate Cuba's solidarity with the Brazilian people and the constitutional President Dilma Rousseff, who faces a parliamentary coup organized by the oligarchic, neoliberal right wing, encouraged by imperialist forces, against the political and economic progress and the social gains achieved during the governments of the Workers' Party.

We also send our fraternal greetings to the Communist parties and other forces and political parties, social movements and working classes of the planet, fighting against imperialist hegemony, determined to achieve inclusive social justice and convinced that a better world is possible.

I reaffirm our total support to the Ecuadoran people, President Rafael Correa and the government of the Citizens' Revolution in these painful circumstances. Our team of rescuers and the medical personnel reinforcements, sent on [April 17], have already joined the more than 700 collaborators working in this sister nation to provide care to the affected population.

We will remain in communication with Ecuadoran authorities, willing to increase our support in every possible way.

Let us not forget that today, April 19, the 55th anniversary of the victory over the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón is celebrated, under the direct leadership in the theatre of operations of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, who has been kept abreast of all the developments of this event.

We pay tribute to those fallen in this historic feat, as well as to all those who gave their lives in defence of the Homeland, the Revolution and Socialism.

We are just a few days from May Day, International Workers' Day, an occasion that will serve to show the world, with the enthusiastic and massive participation of compatriots throughout the entire country, the unity and support for the resolutions adopted by this Congress and the socialist and independent path of the Homeland.

Finally, we wish to wholeheartedly thank Comrade Fidel for the efforts he has made and the satisfaction with which he read his brilliant words before us.

Many thanks to you all.

(Photos: Cubadebate)

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Crisis of European Nation-States in the Middle East

100th Anniversary of Colonial
Sykes-Picot Agreement

The Middle East as we know it emerged from decisions made by colonial powers Britain and France during and following the First World War. This was after what is now Syria had been under the ultimate authority of the Ottoman administration for over 400 years. The Ottoman Empire emerged in 1299 and was finally dissolved in 1923. At the height of its power under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Empire controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

The partition lines demarcating the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire were originally laid down in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, signed on May 16, 1916. The treaty defined the future spheres of influence of each country, once the Triple Entente of Britain, France and Russia had defeated the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy. This new division was based on the colonialist doctrine, the "right of conquest." As well as defining the borders of Syria and Iraq, the treaty created conditions for the Israeli occupation by proposing an international administration for Palestine. The British gained control of what became known as "mandatory Palestine" until the creation of Israel in 1948, which immediately attacked the Palestinian people, giving rise to the Palestinian resistance.

The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party assenting to the Sykes-Picot agreement and, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the secret agreement to the world. It was revealed that the agreement negated British promises made to the Arabs through Colonel T. E. Lawrence for a national, independent Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria. Instead, it "gave" Mesopotamia (Iraq), the Gulf and the regions bordering Palestine to Great Britain, and "gave" Syria and most of the eastern part of the region to France. France hoped to gain a strategic and economic base in the eastern Mediterranean, ensure cheap imports of cotton and silk, and prevent Arab nationalism from infecting her North African empire.

While the Allied Powers were gathering in Paris to sort out their conflicting colonial interests, Amir Faisal Ibn Husayni, field commander of the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, was forming an independent Arab government in Damascus. British troops withdrew from Damascus in November 1919. On January 20, 1920, Alexandre Millerand's government replaced Clemenceau's in France, with Millerand refusing to recognize Faisal as king of Syria. On July 14, France sent Faisal an ultimatum that included five demands to be accepted or rejected within four days, basically calling for Syria to completely capitulate to French colonial rule.

Although Faisal accepted the ultimatum in principle, the French had already decided to seize Syria by force. On July 24, 1920, they defeated the heavily outnumbered Syrian forces at the Battle of Maysalun, using troops mainly from Algeria and other French colonies. On July 26, the French occupied Damascus, overthrowing Faisal and his nationalist government. Faisal fled to Iraq where he ruled from 1921-33. The League of Nations, which was basically the tool of Britain and France, officially recognized French rule or "mandate" over the Syrian territory which then included present-day Lebanon. After the French occupation of Damascus, French prime minister Millerand arrogantly proclaimed that Syria would be ruled by France: "The whole of it, and forever."

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