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April 21, 2014 - No. 45

Revolutionary Cuba Continues to Make Advance

53rd Anniversary of Cuba's Victory Against Foreign Invasion at Playa Girón

Bay of Pigs Invasion --
First Military Defeat of U.S. Imperialism in Latin America

Tuesday, April 22 -- 6:30 pm
Documentary Screening and Guest Speaker, the Honourable Javier Dómokos Ruiz, Consul General of Cuba in Toronto
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St.
Organized by: Toronto Forum on Cuba

The Cuban 5 Political Prisoners

Saturday, April 26 -- 1:00pm
With Honoured Guest, Cuban Ambassador
 His Excellency
Mr. Julio Garmendía Peña
& Keynote Speaker, Stephen Kimber, University of Kings College, Halifax

Volunteer Hamilton, 267 King Street East
$10 - Pay What You Can, No One Turned Away
Organized by: Hamilton Friendship
Association with Cuba

Revolutionary Cuba Continues to Make Advance

53rd Anniversary of Cuba's Victory Against Foreign Invasion at Playa Girón
Cuba Publishes New Foreign Investment Law
Revelations about U.S. Operations in Cuba Corroborate President Raúl Castro's Assertions - Granma International
ZunZuneo: The Story Is Long and Continues - Iroel Sánchez, Granma International
Cuba's Considerations on the Cyber Subversion of Cuba and the Case against the Social Network ZunZuneo
Cuba Expresses Willingness to Work with U.S. to Resolve Alan Gross Case

Coming Events
53rd Anniversary of Bay of Pigs Invasion -- First Military Defeat of U.S. Imperialism in Latin America
Behind the Empire's Bars: The Case of the Cuban 5 Political Prisoners

Revolutionary Cuba Continues to Make Advance

53rd Anniversary of Cuba's Victory Against Foreign Invasion at Playa Girón

Celebration of the victory in Playa Girón in Cienaga de Zapata, Matanzas, April 19, 2014, near the site of invasion. (Granma)

April 19 marks the 53rd anniversary of Cuba's victory over the U.S.-backed terrorist brigades that sought to overthrow the Revolution. The U.S. attempt to invade Cuba at Playa Girón (also known as the Bay of Pigs) took place at a time when the U.S. imperialists had already caused many tragedies through coups, military interventions and other interference in Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the decisive victory of Cuba over the enemy forces at the Bay of Pigs, regarded as the first defeat of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, had significance not only for Cuba, but for all the peoples of the Americas.

This year's commemorations of Playa Girón are very timely, coming amidst revelations about new types of aggression via the USAID-funded ZunZuneo social media intrigue, activities described in a U.S. Special Forces manual as "non-conventional warfare."

In April 1961, such non-conventional warfare was the prelude to the outright attempt at armed invasion. U.S. agencies led a ferocious campaign of defamation and destabilization efforts. Broadcasters, newspapers and press agencies imposed a distorted view of life in Cuba and demonized leaders of the Revolution.

These activities were part of the CIA's Plan Pluto, which sought to establish a beachhead on Cuban territory and give the U.S. a pretext to self-righteously intervene and reinstate a puppet regime. Besides the non-conventional warfare, in the days before the actual invasion, the U.S. and its mercenaries had stepped up violent provocations that included bombing the bases at Havana and Santiago de Cuba, causing death and considerable damage. Likewise, U.S. aircraft disguised with insignia of the Cuban Air Force carried out attacks on Cuba.

Retired Colonel Armando Martínez Alvarez, recounted how just days before the events at Playa Girón, he and other Cuban youth were mobilized by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro into an anti-aircraft unit to defend Cuba from airborne attack:

"On April 15, 1961, at 06:00 am, three Cuban airports: Ciudad Libertad, San Antonio de los Baños and Santiago de Cuba, suffered a surprise attack by eight B-26 bombers flying out of Puerto Cabezas, Republic of Nicaragua, painted with the insignia of our air force in order to cause confusion, in their attempt to destroy the small and inadequate combat air force on the ground (the action prior to the mercenary invasion), thwarted by the opportune foresight of Fidel, who had ordered the aircraft to be dispersed.

"Only one of the eight aircraft that we had at that moment was destroyed, but the machinegun fire resulted in seven people killed and 53 wounded, mostly civilians. Two enemy planes were damaged by anti-aircraft fire, and one pitched into the sea, as could be seen from the Comodoro Hotel, located in what is now Playa municipality. The rookie gunners riddled the mercenary aircraft and, before dying, one of them, Eduardo García Delgado, wrote the name of Fidel on the wall for posterity with his own blood.

"On April 16, at the burial ceremony for those who died, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro solemnly declared before thousands of men and women with guns held aloft, the socialist nature of the Revolution and decreed a national mobilization given the imminence of the mercenary assault."

Left: April 16, 1961: The declaration of the socialist character of the Revolution. This event occurred after bombing raids had killed several civilians. The Playa Girón invasion occurred the next day. Right: On April 17, 1961, the U.S.-organized Bay of Pigs invasion began. Fidel Castro jumps from a tank, as he personally leads the combat against the invaders.

For their part, the U.S. imperialists and their mercenaries, emboldened by their cowardly acts of terrorism and recklessness and deluded in their thinking that the Cuban people would support them, proceeded with the invasion.

As part of its nefarious design, the U.S. had assembled the infamous Brigade 2506 -- made up mostly of henchmen of the deposed U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, as well as mercenaries, terrorists and overthrown oligarchs. At the time, the U.S. had engineered coups in Guatemala and Nicaragua, giving it puppet dictatorships in Central America which it put to use in the coup attempt against Cuba. Military camps were established in Guatemala in the northern departments of Petén, and Retaluleu, in the south, to train the mercenaries. The ships full of the reactionaries, mercenaries and their instructors from the CIA and the Pentagon, all departed from Nicaragua.

U.S.-backed mercenaries of Brigade 2506 after their
resounding defeat.

The mercenaries who landed at Playa Girón on April 17 were poorly organized and ill-equipped. Their delusions of being greeted with open arms were abruptly shattered by the reality that the Cuban people were united with Fidel and the army and would not permit Cuba to become a U.S. colony once again.

Despite support from the U.S. military, the mercenaries were defeated by April 19, less than 72 hours after landing. Many Cuban patriots died and a great number of farmers and civilians were struck by enemy fire. Some 1,200 invaders were taken prisoner and later exchanged for medicine, medical equipment and funds for Cuban children.

Fifty-three years after its decisive victory at Playa Girón, the Cuban Revolution is stronger than ever, calmly overcoming every obstacle in the path of its socialist development while upholding peace, justice and the rule of international law. Meanwhile, the U.S. imperialists are more isolated than ever for their endless crimes against humanity.

The demand of the Cuban and world's peoples that Cuba be permitted to forge its independent path, free from U.S. interference, be it armed aggression, terrorism, the economic blockade, etc., is as relevant today as it was in 1961. The people of the world resolutely reject U.S. terrorism against Cuba and its retrogressive recourse to violence as a solution for differences between itself and Cuba or any other nation. The U.S. imperialists should finally learn the lesson of their ignominious defeat at Playa Girón and keep their hands off Cuba.

Hail the Victory at Playa Girón!
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!
Hands Off Cuba!

(With files from Prensa Latina, Granma International)

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Cuba Publishes New Foreign Investment Law

On April 16, Cuba published the full text of its foreign investment law meant to attract greater foreign investment, in the government's Official Gazette and also as a special issue of Granma. The law was approved March 29 and will take effect June 27. The broad outlines of the law and the changes it introduces had already been widely dessiminated by Cuban media, Radio Havana Cuba reports.

The new law replaces a 1995 law, implemented when it was decided that certain sectors of the economy, such as tourism, would be opened to foreign investment. This decision came in the midst of the Special Period, the severe period of economic hardship that Cuba faced in the aftermath of the end of the bipolar division of the world when the dissolution of the Soviet Union saw Cuba lose its major trading partner.

Senior government officials explain that Cuba needs more than $2 billion a year in foreign investment to revive its economy and attain its 7-percent growth target.

The new law offers investors substantial tax breaks and incentives, including a 50-per cent reduction of the income tax rate and an eight-year tax waiver, which could be extended by the Council of Ministers.

It also provides foreign investors with a stronger legal framework, including guarantees of non-expropriation, except for reasons of public utility or social interest, and then only with due compensation.

Foreign companies' staff recruitment, barring management posts, will be carried out through a Cuban employment agency, which will also be responsible for negotiating the workers' wages with the companies, to be paid in Cuban pesos. The agency will charge the companies a 20-per cent commission.

(Radio Havana Cuba)

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Revelations about U.S. Operations in Cuba Corroborate President Raúl Castro's Assertions

President Raul Castro's denunciations of the United States government's attempts to destabilize Cuba were corroborated by the April 3 revelation of a plan to draw Cuban youth toward counter-revolution, with the participation of a U.S. government agency.

To undermine Cuban authorities, Washington planned the creation of a "Cuban Twitter," promoted by USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), through a network of secretly organized front companies with financing routed through offshore banks.

The Associated Press (AP) said on April 4 that it had access to more than a thousand documents regarding the ZunZuneo communications network, designed to gain popularity among young Cubans and later "push them toward dissidence."

The objective of the operation was to launch a messaging network which could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans using non-controversial content, and popular topics such as soccer, music, hurricanes and advertising. When this goal was met, the plan was to begin sending messages with political content and calls for mass action, which could unleash a "Cuban Spring."

AP reported that the network's users never knew that the project was created by a U.S. agency working with the State Department, nor that U.S. contractors were gathering personal data, in hopes of using it for political purposes.

On January 1 of this year, on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, President Raul Castro denounced "attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neo-liberal thought and restoration of neo-colonial capitalism" in Cuba.

"They are eager to deceptively market the supposed advantages of disregard for ideology or social conscience to the youngest [Cubans], as if such concepts were not fully reflective of ruling class interests in the capitalist world," the President said in Santiago de Cuba.

He emphasized that such efforts were meant to "induce a break between the historical leadership of the Revolution and younger generations, promoting uncertainty and pessimism about future prospects, all with the clear objective of dismantling socialism in Cuba from within."

According to the AP report, the anti-Cuban plan may have violated U.S. law, which requires written presidential authorization and notification of Congress to carry out any undercover operation. At the very least, the evidence would seem to contradict the arguments long advanced by USAID about its non-participation in covert action.

The matter is closely related to the situation of USAID contractor Alan Gross, arrested in Cuba in 2009 and convicted of engaging in illegal actions with objectives and procedures very similar to those of the ZunZuneo operation.

The report emphasizes that USAID and its contractors made a significant effort to conceal the project's ties with Washington. To this end, front companies were established in Spain and bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, to cover the money trail.

Attempts were also made to hire business executives without revealing to them that the project was being financed by the U.S. government.

There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement," said a memo from Mobile Accord, one of the businesses contracted for the project. "This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission," it added.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont, chairman of the Senate sub-committee overseeing State Department and Foreign Operations, said that the revelations were troubling.

"There is the risk to young, unsuspecting Cuban cellphone users who had no idea this was a U.S. government-funded activity," he pointed out. Also, "There is the clandestine nature of the program which was not disclosed to the Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight responsibility. And there is the disturbing fact that it was apparently activated shortly after Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who was sent to Cuba to help provide citizens access to the Internet, was arrested."

The plan, which was meant to mobilize and organize young Cubans to oppose their country's government lasted from 2009 to 2012, said the AP.

ZunZuneo is yet another in a long list of secret anti-Cuban operations, ranging from the Bay of Pigs, through the hundreds of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders, and support for other counter-revolutionary bands who murdered rural residents and teachers.

That list includes terrorist actions such as the downing of the Cubana de Aviacion passenger plane in 1976, with 73 people aboard, and the introduction to Cuba of illnesses such as hemorraghic dengue and other bio-warfare agents.

The U.S. government finances and directs anti-Cuban radio and television broadcasts, and has subjected the country to the longest economic, financial and commercial blockade in history.

Spanish Company Will Reveal Information About Anti-Cuban Network

The Spanish communications company Lleida.net has expressed its willingness to release information about its participation in the ZunZuneo project [... which] was financed with U.S. public funds and included a contract with Lleida.net to send unidentifiable messages to Cuba.

In a communiqué received by Prensa Latina, LLeida.net denies having participated "in an active way" in the program which was launched in 2010 and functioned through 2012. The company expressed its willingness to collaborate in clarification of the events.

"If at any point, users of Lleida.net have committed and illegal act, Lleida.net is, as it had always been, at the disposition of competent authorities to facilitate necessary information through legally established channels," the communiqué stated.

The company argues that as a telecommunications operator it must abide by privacy regulations, and cannot verify or modify the content of messages sent by its clients.

Lleida.net adds that it operates messaging systems used by thousands of clients around the world, and functions transparently.

An internet attorney Carlos Sánchez Almeida, cited by AP, said that the activities revealed violated Spanish data privacy laws since, the personal information gathered was used to illegally develop a list of telephone numbers to which unsolicited messages were sent from a Spanish platform.

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ZunZuneo: The Story Is Long and Continues

The scandal unleashed as a result of Associated Press (AP) revelations regarding the undercover construction of a mobile phone messaging system by the United States, with the goal of overthrowing the Cuban government, continues to develop, despite White House and State Department efforts to contain it. There are, however, details of the U.S. Aid for International Development (USAID) ZunZuneo project which have not been addressed, and questions which have not been raised.

The Nicaraguan daily La Prensa reported that the messaging system's programmer was a citizen of this country, named Mario Bernheim, who works in the U.S. embassy in Managua. Meanwhile, a Costa Rican newspaper, La Nación, has revealed that the project was launched in 2009 from a secret office in San José, at a distance from the U.S. embassy, despite the fact that USAID has not had an official presence in Costa Rica since 1996. La Nación identified Joseph (Joe) Duke McSpedon, a USAID employee who visited the country on "42 occasions, between 2009 and 2011, arriving on commercial and private flights," and two other persons, contracted to work on the project by Creative Associates, a Washington consulting firm.

According to the Costa Rican paper, these individuals were "Noy Villalobos Echeverría, who remained in the country for periods of up to three months, according to immigration records, and his brother Mario Berheim Echeverría, a young programmer who developed the system to send mass messages to Cuba."

Costa Rican Minister of Communication Carlos Roverssi stated, "An investigation of the case must be undertaken; it is very serious. If this is true, it is a serious affront to Costa Rica. It is an issue for the Foreign Ministry. But of course, an explication must be requested."

From Spain, eldiario.es reported that the Spanish company Lleida.net, identified by AP as responsible for sending the ZunZuneo SMS, has ties to the right-wing Guardia Civil. The company released a communiqué, making an effort to avoid using the words Cuba or ZunZuneo, saying "If, at any time, one of the users of Lleida.net has committed any type of illegal act, Lleida.net is, as it has always been, at the disposal of competent authorities, to provide necessary information through legally established channels."

Internet attorney Carlos Sánchez Almeida commented to eldiario.es that Spain's Data Protection Law (in Article 7, Appendix 4) prohibits the use of information to create lists based on political affiliation -- among ZunZuneo's activities, according to AP -- since this is information which merits special protection. He stated that the messaging system's actions were in violation of Spanish law, since, "The ZunZuneo team, in an illegal fashion, collected personal information from a list of telephones and sent unsolicited messages via a Spanish platform." Sánchez Almeida was explicit on his Twitter account, which has some 23,000 followers, saying, "If Cuban citizens' data has been handled illegally in Spain, the Spanish justice system must intervene."

In the meantime, AP issued a new dispatch, adding to previous revelations that persons very close to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana were part of the ZunZuneo plan developed by USAID. In the United States, an influential publication, The New Yorker, commented on White House assertions that the project was not an undercover operation, "This kind of bald-faced disingenuousness is risible. Whatever it is labeled, there seems to be little doubt that ZunZuneo functioned as a secret intelligence operation aimed ultimately at subversion." Politico Magazine entitled an article about the mobile phone social network fiasco 'Bay of Tweets,' in a clear reference to the failed 1961 U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published National Security Agency (NSA) information leaked by Edward Snowden, described ZunZuneo as "another drop in the bucket" of propaganda on the Internet, and Tracey Eaton published documents on his Along the Malecon blog showing how ZunZuneo was financed, to the tune of $1.6 million, by diverting funds destined for Pakistan.

Hilda Arias, director of mobile services for Cuba's national telephone company Etecsa, spoke with Juventud Rebelde about the issue and has been quoted widely describing the multiple spam attacks on Cuban systems generated from U.S. platforms, run directly by the government. She said, "The so-called CAN SPAM Act, Public Law 108-187 approved by the U.S. Congress in December, 2003, and signed immediately by President George W. Bush himself, clearly prohibits sending commercial, or other kinds of messages, without the explicit permission of the receiver.

"Nevertheless, the promoters of so-called Martinoticias, which also involves other subversive projects in Cuba such as Cubasincensura and Diario de Cuba, appear to believe that when it comes to Cuba, they are above the law.

"Through October, 2013, according to information obtained by Etecsa, including an analysis of the origin of the text messaging, they had sent 219 mass spam messages, for a total of 1,055,746 SMS to Cuban users."

Juventud Rebelde also addressed a project called Commotion, to which USAID has allotted $4.3 million for the period between September, 2012, and September, 2015, to hire subcontractors to establish clandestine wireless networks in Cuba, re-attempting ZunZuneo via another SMS network named Piramideo, launched by the Transmissions Office and directed toward Cuba in 2013, along with other projects like Hablalosinmiedo and Singularidad.

It is no surprise that spammers who receive funds, for the likes of Diario de Cuba and Martínoticias, are among the few voices raised in support of such illegal U.S. government activities. Diario de Cuba, financed by the U.S. via the National Endowment for Democracy, said in an editorial that ZunZuneo revelations "had caused an unmerited international stir."

Martinoticias issued a statement signed by director Carlos García Pérez saying, "Piramideo is one more communication tool, like radio, television, DVDs, flash drives, e-mail and text messages, which Martí media offers its audience." According to documents published by Tracey Eaton, Piramideo was developed by Washington Software, in Germantown, Maryland, for Martí Radio and TV, at a cost of $3.2 million. In April of 2013, he showed on his blog that the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) had paid this company huge sums:

- $531,576 to expand proxy Internet
- $500,987 to develop an SMS social network
- $451,796 to circumvent Cuban government efforts to block their electronic messages
- $173,074 to send messages to Cuba via SMS
- $96,028 to program computers
- $84,000 to design and operate a SMS system
- $83,050 to run an unspecified operation related to TI and architecture
- $60,275 to send mass e-mails
- $2,580 to pay for internet gateways

Total: $1,983,366.

Eaton clarified that the documents do not indicate the total number of text messages sent, although one does show that the BBG paid Washington Software $14,474 for 361,873 messages sent in October of 2011.

Martinoticias' penchant for spam is not limited to SMS or Piramideo. In August of 2012, I, who am not a subscriber, was obliged to denounce a spam [on my blog La Pupila Insomne] attack originating from their Twitter account.

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Cuba's Considerations on the
Cyber Subversion of Cuba and the Case
Against the Social Network ZunZuneo

U.S. Cyber Subversion Against Cuba

- The U.S. has not given up its subversive plans against Cuba, which have been occurring since 1959.

- The U.S. government continues to devote millions in resources to promote subversion in Cuba. With public funds, it is trying to create an artificial opposition in Cuba.

- Since 1996, when the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officially created the Cuba Program, it has allocated more than $260 million for the promotion of subversive projects against Cuba, using both traditional and more sophisticated methods.

- U.S. agencies, and especially USAID, use social networks covertly for "propaganda," "deception," "mass messaging," and "fabrication of false stories."

- As part of their subversive activities, the United States deploys maneuvers that include the use of shell companies in third party countries, money laundering and hiring mercenaries disguised as technological entrepreneurs, both inside and outside of Cuba, to try to cover up their plans against our country.

- The U.S. attempts to exploit social networks against Cuba as part of a design which has been called "soft coups" to overthrow governments, without resorting to the use of military force or before it is used. This destabilizing scheme has been tested in countries like Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela; attempting to influence the people, to destabilize the country and provoke changes in Cuba's political, social and economic system.

- The U.S. has maintained against Cuba for decades a policy of severe economic, financial and trade sanctions; organized acts of terrorism and sabotage; and financed a seedy domestic opposition, with the intent to subvert order and overthrow the Cuban government.

- The U.S. government cannot claim to have good intentions regarding Cuba while continuing their subversive and covert actions.

Regarding the Social Network ZunZuneo

- ZunZuneo is only one page of more than 50 years in the history of hostile U.S. government policy against Cuba, now based on new information technologies and communications.

- USAID planned to create "ZunZuneo," a "Cuban Twitter" to undermine the revolutionary government. The plan was to send spam messages to mobile phones, to alter the flow of information and the use of Internet in Cuba.

- The social network was active for two years beginning in 2012, and had about 40,000 users, for which it illicitly obtained databases from the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA).

- Through this private network, data on Cuban users was gathered without their consent, which allowed the U.S. government to compile profiles by gender, age, tastes and affiliations of various kinds, to be used for political purposes.

- The investigative report by the Associated Press (AP) revealed the scope and details of the development of ZunZuneo, with USAID funding, for purposes of subversion.

- The revelations of the U.S. agency AP confirmed the repeated denunciations by the Cuban government that the U.S. government has not given up its subversive plans against Cuba.

- The U.S. acknowledged funding the creation of ZunZuneo, although, as expected, denied that the aim of this social network was to challenge the government of Cuba.

- ZunZuneo, like other subversive operations, violates Cuban and U.S. laws, including the CAN SPAM Act, Public Law 108-187, approved by Congress in December 2003, which prohibits sending commercial or other messages without receiving expressed consent. It also violates 11 resolutions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

- ZunZuneo was doomed to fail from the start. The counterrevolution does not have popular support in Cuba.

- ETECSA detected since 2009 spam messaging traffic from the ZunZuneo platform, prompting repeated complaints from users about unwanted messages.

- These attacks were reported by ETECSA to operators who communicated the decision to close the messaging centres (SMS Centre) that maintained the behaviour.

- The network tried to hide from the Cuban government, creating an intricate system of shell companies in third countries.The subscribers never knew the service was created by the U.S. government, or that users' private information was being compiled for political purposes.

- The shell companies allowed ZunZuneo to distance itself from Washington so "the money trail would not lead to the United States."

- ZunZuneo has not been the only platform designed with these features. Still running are the social network Piramideo and Martí Noticias, Diario de Cuba and Cubasincensura, among other platforms.

- Recently, ETECSA has detected other malicious variants such as sending messages promoting voicemail calls using deceptive or manipulative techniques that cause economic damage to users and the institution itself.

- All these technological attacks generate overuse of the capacity of Cuba's cellular network and is detrimental to the quality of service, which directly harms the Cuban population as a user of these services.

- ETECSA condemns the illegal use of telecommunications services, their networks and users.

On the Use of New Information Technologies and Communication in Cuba

- Cuba places great importance on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of information. It is a right that is fully guaranteed in our country and included in the Cuban Constitution.

- The U.S. blockade affects Internet access, with restrictions on available bandwidth and higher connection costs.

- The Information Technology and Communications are goods at the service of all the people and training in their use is free.

- ETECSA will continue carrying out its program of expansion and improvement of telecommunication services, including Internet, in line with the strategy for economic and social development.

(Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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Cuba Expresses Willingness to Work with U.S. to Resolve Alan Gross Case

Cuba has once again reiterated its willingness to work with the U.S. for a resolution to the case of the U.S. citizen Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuban since 2009. Gross was arrested, tried, and convicted for having violated Cuban law, by implementing a subversive U.S.-financed program to establish an illegal covert communications system that relied on non-commercial technology, Prensa Latina informs.

An April 9 note from Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations (MINREX) said that any resolution ought to be "acceptable for both sides, taking into account Cuba's humanitarian concerns in relation to the case of the three Cubans from the group known as the Cuban Five, who have continued to be unjustly imprisoned in the United States for more than 15 years."

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero have been imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998 followed a staged trial. They are part of the Cuban Five, which includes René Gonzalez and Fernando González, who recently returned to Cuba after having fully served their unjust sentences. The vindictive nature of the trial was also reflected in the conditions of imprisonment for the five, in which they have been subject them to long periods in solitary confinement and denied visits from family members.

The statement, signed by MINREX Director General for the United States Josefina Vidal, pointed out that Cuba is aware of and concerned by the April 8 press release from the U.S. government stating that "Alan Gross, a USAID contractor incarcerated in Cuba for four years and four months, began a hunger strike last week."

The statement emphasizes that Gross has received dignified and respectful treatment, and ever since his arrest has been kept at a hospital, not because his health condition requires such a thing, but because it is a place where he can be guaranteed specialized care by highly qualified doctors and medical staff.

Gross is in good physical condition and his health is normal and stable, the note said. His chronic ailments, typical for his age, are under control and are being medically treated. He has received visits from his wife and attorney, with whom he also maintains regular email and telephone contact, as well as with other family members and friends, in addition to receiving monthly visits from the U.S. consul and diplomats, and visits from political and religious leaders, the note added.

(Prensa Latina)

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Coming Events

53rd Anniversary of Bay of Pigs Invasion --
First Military Defeat of U.S. Imperialism in Latin America

Tuesday, April 22 -- 6:30 pm

Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St. (Bathurst  subway)
Organized by: Toronto Forum on Cuba

Documentary Screening and Guest Speaker,
the Honourable Javier Dómokos Ruiz, Consul General of Cuba in Toronto

On April 17th, 1961 the U.S. sent about 1,500 CIA-trained mercenaries to invade the Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) on the southern coast of Cuba, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and by April 19th, in less than 72 hours, the U.S. empire had been defeated!!!

To the present date, U.S. government-sponsored ultra-right terrorist groups in South Florida (which include mercenaries from the Bay of Pigs invasion) have caused the deaths of 3,478 innocent people, maimed over 2,000 people and continue to operate unobstructed by U.S. authorities.

Today, Five Cuban heroes who infiltrated these groups to prevent further attacks against Cuba, continue to be unjustly punished by the U.S government: ANTONIO GUERRERO, GERARDO HERNANDEZ and RAMON LABAÑINO are serving their 16th year of imprisonment in U.S. jails. RENÉ GONZALEZ and FERNANDO GONZALEZ have finally been released and are back with their families in their homeland, but only after having unjustly served their full sentences.

While the three Cuban heroes remain unjustly imprisoned and as we continue to bear witness to the U.S. government's continued interventions in other countries -- through its illegal support and financing of violent and fabricated insurrections -- we encourage everyone who struggles for peace and justice and all those who have experienced the Empire's aggression to come and join this discussion on the lessons to be learned from the Cuban Revolution, as we continue our ongoing struggle for peace.

Click image to download (PDF).

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Behind the Empire's Bars:
The Case of the Cuban 5 Political Prisoners

Saturday, April 26 -- 1:00pm
Volunteer Hamilton, 267 King Street East
$10 - Pay What You Can, No One Turned Away
Organized by: Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba
Want to get involved, need a ride? Contact us at info@cubacanada.org

With Honoured Guest, The Cuban Ambassador to Canada,
His Excellency Mr. Julio Garmendía Peña
& Keynote Speaker, Stephen Kimber, University of Kings College, Halifax

The Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba (HFAC) is honoured to welcome the Cuban Ambassador to Canada on his first official visit to Hamilton. His Excellency Mr. Julio Garmendía Peña will be in Hamilton for an afternoon of information and conversation dedicated to the five Cuban heroes, unjustly imprisoned for defending their country against terrorism. The afternoon's keynote address will be given by Professor Stephen Kimber of University of Kings College, Halifax. Kimber will outline the case of the Cuban 5 and update on recent developments, including the celebrated return of two heroes, Fernando and René, to Cuba! Stay tuned for further details.

Click image to download (PDF).

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