Beyond and underlying the intermonopoly contradictions (mainly over energy resources access and control) that are at odds and in play at this time in that region, the longest-standing and most burning issue for the peoples of this region has surfaced once again: how can the equality and sovereign rights of nations and peoples, irrespective of their ethnic makeup, be established (and in some respects re-established) with a guarantee that is meaningful under current conditions? Only as a constituent founding republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1921 did Ukraine finally became a nation-state embracing all the Ukrainian-speaking ethnos. Regardless of the decades of imperialist propaganda before and during the Cold War dismissing Ukraine as a puppet of Moscow and its people starved of rights etc., it was the USSR itself, with its constitutional provision upholding the right to secede from the Union, that provided the first-ever guarantee of Ukraine's independence. Indeed, Ukraine was one of the few founding Soviet republics to enjoy its own seat at the United Nations.
Economically, during the Soviet period, the Ukrainian working class transformed their country from an agricultural colony to an agro-industrial economy supplying the coal industry that fuelled industrial development throughout the Soviet Union, to an industrial-agricultural economy participating as an exporter of specialized heavy industrial machinery and advanced pharmaceuticals into world markets. Today, under the stewardship of Arsenii Yatseniuk, a previously-unheard-of private banker, Ukraine is bankrupt and a report has even appeared -- so far uncontradicted -- that its national treasury was put on a plane to New York the day after the recent Right Sector-Svoboda coup in Kiev and is now in the custody of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan.
Ethnographically speaking, it is widely accepted down to the present that the Russian ethnos and some of the Ukrainian ethnoses share a common origin. For the period preceding the emergence in the Ukrainian region of the Cossacks and their hetman system of governance at the height of the European Middle Ages, a complete and verifiable catalog of all the original peoples of Ukraine remains in dispute.
Notwithstanding this academic fact, nevertheless, it is widely accepted that, earlier in the Middle Ages, the probably originating portion of the Russian ethnos emerged from what became known as the Kievan Rus. This was a collection of settlements in the region of present-day Kiev. In other words, the emergence of part of what becomes a distinct Russian ethnos begins in Ukraine about a millennium ago.
As far as social and political organization goes, however, before the middle third of the 19th century, there existed neither an abstract conception of a Ukrainian nation nor of a Ukrainian territory peopled predominantly by a single Ukrainian ethnos. The principle of a Ukrainian nation was elaborated in the middle of the 19th century by a movement of intellectuals led by Taras Shevchenko. His was effectively the founding voice of modern Ukrainian national literature and culture. On the one hand, standing up for a Ukrainian nation energized the mass resistance of the peoples particularly of western Ukraine against the annexationist efforts of the Polish monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On the other hand, the growth of the struggle for full Ukrainian national autonomy encountered a serious challenge from the social and economic conditions prevailing, and rapidly deteriorating, in eastern Ukraine (some of which was already effectively Russian). There the national question confronted a profound socio-economic challenge, deriving from the Russian landowners' pressure in this period -- in eastern Ukraine and throughout Russia -- to "en-serf" the peasants and deprive them ultimately of any legal rights to work any land of their own or for their own family's account. In the years immediately following its defeat in the Crimean War, the halting and indecisive character of Tsarism's attempts at "reform from above" was not unexpected.
After eliminating serfdom in 1861, however, the failure of Tsar Alexander to allow the peasants to own and work land on their own, independent of the whims of the nobility or other landowners, greatly boosted the Ukrainian national movement along with all the other centrifugal forces tearing at the absolutism of tsarist autocracy.
Meanwhile, the stage in which the various movements for national autonomy from Tsarist autocracy inside imperial Russia eventually found their footing would emerge during the First World War. The Russian peasantry were conscripted in their hundreds of thousands to die like flies under heavy German shellfire. By the end of 1916, not only had the armies of Britain (plus its soldiery from Canada and other colonies) and France been bled to a point of near collapse. At the same time, the two-million-man army of the Tsar, which was supposed to be the Entente powers' ace-in-the-hole against Germany, more or less collapsed and ceased to play any strategically consequential role in the conduct of the war. Soviet propaganda for decades repeated the view that the USSR was the guarantor of a self-determining Ukrainian nation-state. Its correctness was demonstrated dramatically once again, this time by negative example, with the first so-called "Orange Revolution" imposed in 2004 via a coalition of neo-fascists and neo-liberals instigated and propped up by the George W. Bush administration that seized power in Kiev through mass demonstrations in the city's central Maidan Square. Ten years later under the Obama administration, the latest coup has taken place along many of the same lines. Once again, it is the Ukrainian people's turn to settle the question of what is the trouble and who are the troublemakers of the front of their national sovereignty. Only their movement and struggle can take away the war-threatening power of the US and EU imperialists on the one hand and restore brotherly relations of equality and mutual benefit with their neighbours the Russian people on the other.
1. The map below illustrates the
network of Russian
natural gas pipelines to southern Europe, including southeastern
Germany, that go through Ukraine's territory. (There are other Russian
pipelines that go directly to northern Germany and Scandinavia.)
Russian gas currently provides 30 per cent of the heating
and industrial needs of Germany.
2. Since the French Revolution, one of the greatest damages wrought by Eurocentric thinking stems from the assumption that the one nation-one country pattern -- which an extremely short list of countries in western Europe happen to have enjoyed always and everywhere -- represents the true direction towards which all the rest of humanity ought to strive.
3. These powers sought to expand their control over this region, which they called "Eastern Galicia". This designation came from schemes that they hatched with the Russian tsar that came to fruition during the 1770s, in which the territory of Poland was partitioned among Russia, Vienna and Warsaw. This, and the background of its development in the preceding couple of centuries, is examined in detail in Michael Hrushevsky, A History of Ukraine (Yale University Press 1941), Chapters 21-23
4. The shattering defeat suffered by Russia in the Crimean War strengthened the hand of a faction at the Tsar's court seeking to reform the administration (including especially tax collection) of the lands worked by enserfed peasants. The leading faction in the national movement in western Ukraine thought these "modernizers" could be their silent ally in eastern Ukraine, standing in between the Ukrainian national movement and the Tsar. See Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History (University of Toronto Press, 1989), Part Four "Ukraine Under Imperial Rule."
5. With the launch of the revolution in Petrograd in March 1917, hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers fled the front lines of the war for home. With the Bolshevik victory in October/November, Russia was completely out of the war. The Entente powers quickly assembled a counter-revolutionary army to attack and destroy the Bolshevik victory. The peasantry from various Ukrainian regions controlled by Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were initially recruited for the armies of Kolchak and Denikin, the Russian Tsarist officers leading the counter-revolutionary war. See Vasyl Kuchabsky, Western Ukraine in Conflict with Poland and Bolshevism 1918-23 (Edmonton AB: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2009 -- first English translation of the 1934 German edition)
Free the Cuban Five!
Cross Canada Actions Held on March 5
On March 5, Vancouver activists marked their 100th
monthly picket for the freedom of the Cuban Five -- Gerardo
Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino,
Fernando González, and René González -- political
prisoners unjustly held in U.S. prisons for protecting Cuba against
terrorist attacks launched from U.S. soil, three of whom are still
being held after more than 15 years. The Five were arrested on false
terrorism charges in the U.S. in 1998 while investigating anti-Cuba
terrorist groups, and were given lengthy sentences after a phony trial
in Miami, Florida. To mark Vancouver's significant achievement in
breaking the silence about the case of the Cuban Five, coordinated
actions were held on March 5 across Canada in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto
and Edmonton, as well as in San Francisco and Seattle in the U.S.
Picket outside U.S. consulate in Vancouver, March 5, 2014.
On March 5 about one hundred activists took part in a picket in front of the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver demanding freedom for all the Cuban Five. Friends of the Cuban Five came from across BC to join in the picket.
Following the Vancouver picket, a meeting was held that
evening with the
Cuban Ambassador to Canada His Excellency Mr. Julio Garmendia
Peña, to mark the occasion. Stephen Kimber, the
author of "What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the
Cuban Five" presented his book
which exposes the lies surrounding the case of the Cuban
Evening meeting in Vancouver, March 5, 2014, featuring the participation of Cuban Ambassador to Canada His Excellency Mr. Julio Garmendia Peña (bottom, far left).
The Ambassador of Cuba conveyed the appreciation of the Cuban people to all the friends of Cuba in Canada for their participation in the struggle for the liberation of the five patriots and for breaking the silence about their just cause. He stressed that we must step up the struggle to reach the day when Antonio, Ramón and Gerardo will also walk free on the streets of Cuba, next to their families and friends.
Don Foreman, representing the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which is active in the fight to Free the Five, presented a special maple baseball bat to the Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver in honour of the occasion. The bat was made by Canadian Bill Ryan, who produces the bats on behalf of Gerardo, and carries the insignia of the Cuban Five.
The Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver with the support of the Embassy of Cuba also organized programs in several other BC cities in the days following the picket. Events took place in Naniamo, Victoria and Kamloops, as well as in Seattle, Washington.
The Cuba Edmonton Solidarity Committee (CESC) held an informative meeting at the University of Alberta on March 5, its contribution to the ongoing international campaign to Free the Cuban Five.
The President of CESC introduced the meeting and situated the continuing U.S. attacks on Cuba in the current context, noting how the U.S. is sponsoring similar attacks against Venezuela and Ukraine to try to bring about regime change.
The second speaker showed how the real terrorists are the U.S. and the anti-Cuba émigré groups they sponsor. He stated that the main reason the U.S. falsely charges Cuba with terrorism is to divert attention from its own terrorist activities. His presentation included a detailed list of U.S.-sponsored terrorist attacks carried out in Canada, for which the Canadian state has never arrested or charged anyone.
The third speaker, who maintains contact with the Five, gave details on the current situation of the Cuban Five and the progress of the campaign to free those still in jail. The presentations were well received and followed by a lively question and answer period where others gave their views.
A militant picket took place across from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on March 5. Signs and banners demanded the release of all of the Cuban Five and that the injustice done to these heroic Cuban patriots be rectified. The participants shouted "Free the Cuban five! Free All the Cuban Five Now!" and their case was briefly outlined in speeches and on leaflets handed out to those passing by.
It was emphasized that terrorist actions by the anti-Cuban mafia based in the U.S. have cost the lives of more than 3,400 Cubans and caused a great deal more injuries and damage, that the Cuban five were acting against these terrorist crimes, and that while they were unjustly jailed for very long terms for their legitimate actions, the terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles go unpunished and are protected by the U.S. government.
In Ottawa, a picket was held
across from the U.S. Embassy on March 5. This is part of a new
initiative started this year by activists in Ottawa and Gatineau to
hold a picket at that
location on the 5th of every month.
Montreal activists moved their longstanding regular monthly picket for the Cuban Five to March 5 to coordinate with all the other actions marking the 100th monthly picket in Vancouver. They gathered outside St. James United Church in downtown Montreal before marching to the U.S. Consulate.
(Photos: TML, Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver, Quebec Cuba Solidarity Roundtable)
Tour of Cuban Musician Gerardo Alfonso Popularizes World Conference in Solidarity with Cuba
The Canadian Network on Cuba is organizing a tour of
outstanding Cuban composer
and guitar player Gerardo Alfonso Morejón to promote the
Third Meeting of World Solidarity with Cuba
in Havana, October 27-29, 2014. Gerardo's beautiful poetic songs will
be heard from
Halifax to Victoria, with stops in 11 cities from March 22 to April 13.
Sandra Ramírez, North American Specialist from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) will accompany Gerardo and speak about the Solidarity Meeting. The work of ICAP is focused on promoting people-to-people exchanges and friendship between Cubans and peoples around the world. It strives to act as a force for peace, mutual exchange and true internationalism in the world.
The conference, organized by the Cuba Solidarity Movement represents international support for the validity of the Cuban model of social justice and its viability as an alternative for "another world," for which the peoples are fighting.
Guided by the anti-imperialist, visionary and humanist thinking of José Martí and Fidel Castro, this conference demonstrates Cuba's internationalist vocation and solidarity with all the just causes which benefit the peoples and their enjoyment of their fundamental right to freedom, peace and social justice.
About Gerardo Alfonso Morejón
Gerardo Alfonso is part of the nueva trova (new song) movement that started in Cuba in the 1960s and combines traditional folk music with political lyrics. His songs touch upon themes of humanity, society, love and life. He has shared the stage with world famous musicians Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Vicente Feliú and many others.
His lyrics have assured him a place in the hearts of all Cubans, just as his fusion work has won him high marks among musical critics. His songs incorporate elements of Latin American music -- basically Brazilian and Caribbean -- but he has also understood how to take advantage of his urban and popular roots in a range of mixtures that span from rock and reggae to rap and guaguanco, though never abandoning his trova essence.
Saturday, March 22 - 7:30 pm
College St. United Church Sanctuary, 452 College Street --
Admission $10, Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (Toronto), 416-410-8254
Monday, March 24 -7:00 pm
Just Us! Kings Wharf, Dartmouth N.S.
Wednesday, March 26 - 7:00 pm
Centre culturel Simon Bolivar, 394, boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest
Friday, March 28 -- 7:30 pm
Sandy Hill Community Center -- 250 Somerset East, Ottawa
$15 or PWYC, Ottawa-Cuba Connections, 613 594-8335
Tuesday, April 1 -- 6:30 pm
Byran-Prince Books, 1060 King Street West
Adm. $10 - PWYC - No one turned away, Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba
and Matapa Music and Arts Organization, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 3 -- 7:00 pm
Falls View Hose Brigade Hall, 5786 Dunn Street
$15 Admission, CCFA Niagara, 905-304-0700
Information Meeting and Concert
Mi Casita Restaurant 429 Wyandotte St. East
For information: email@example.com
Monday, April 7 -- 7:00 pm
Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House, 800 East Broadway
$10 Admission, 778-882-5223
Tuesday, April 8 -- 7:00 pm
2994 Douglas St. BCGEU Hall 7 pm
Thursday, April 10 -- 7:00 pm
House Concert, by invitation
Cuba-Edmonton Solidarity Committee, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, April 11 -- 7:30 p.m.
Broadway Disciples United Church
$10 Admission, Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee, 204-783-9380
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