June 20, 2014 - No. 59
Cuba's Fight for Human Rights
Mariela Castro Espín to Speak in Toronto
Sunday, June 22 -- 2:00 pm
United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.
Admission $10.00 -- for advance tickets call 416-469-2481
Sponsored by: People's Voice, Rainbow-Sea
Queer Commission, Communist Party of Canada
• Mariela Castro Espín to Speak in
American States in Asuncion,
• Latin American Cooperation Trumps U.S.
El Salvador Celebrates
Inauguration of New President
• Historic Success for Salvadoran People
Five Days for the
• Third Annual Gathering Held in Washington, DC
• Actions in Canada Demand Release of Remaining
Cuban Patriots Unjustly Imprisoned in U.S.
World Cup in Brazil
• Denying Rumours with Actual Facts -
Workers' Party of Brazil
• 25th Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba Tour
of Southern Ontario - Canadian
Network on Cuba
Cuba's Fight for Human Rights
Mariela Castro Espín to Speak in Toronto
Castro Espín, Deputy to the Cuban National Assembly of People's
of the Cuban National Centre for Sexual Education (CENESEX) is visiting
Canada in June to present on the topic of the rights
of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in
Cuba. She will speak at a public event at 2:00 pm on Sunday, June 22
Hall, 25 Cecil St., Toronto on the topic of LGTBI Equality: Progress
and Challenges in a Changing Cuba. She will also be speaking at the
WorldPride Human Rights Conference, Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity
Studies, University of Toronto, on Friday, June 27 between 1:30 and
3:00 pm, University College, Room 161. Her presentation is entitled
LGBTI Human Rights in Cuba: Reflections from 24 Years at CENESEX. On
the same panel, Manuel Vasques Seljido, also with CENESEX, will address
the issue of LGBTI rights in Latin America.
Espín speaks in Montreal, October 20, 2013.
Mariela Castro is a champion in defence of human rights
against discrimination based on gender and sexual
identity. In 2004, Mariela prepared an education strategy for
educational, media and health initiatives with the purpose of promoting
the rights and dignity of trans people and their social
destigmatization. From this work, a resolution of the Ministry of
Public Health was adopted in 2008 which legitimizes specialized
health care for trans people, including surgery for sex reassignment,
as a free service of the Public Health System.
Mariela has participated in the preparation and
modifications to Cuba's Family Code that include respect for free
orientation and gender identity and legal recognition for same sex
couples. She also coordinates public campaigns to promote respect for
free sexual orientation and gender identity, including
the celebration throughout the country for the International Day
against Homophobia, which she has presided over since 2007.
TML calls on everyone to attend these events
which will provide valuable information on how Cuba and its people
fight to affirm the rights of all, and specifically the rights of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, as part of
defending their national sovereignty from U.S. pressure to
give up their way of life and political
system of their choosing.
44th General Assembly of
Organization of American States in Asuncion, Paraguay
Latin American Cooperation Trumps U.S. Domination
The 44th General Assembly of the Organization of
American States (OAS) was held June 4-5 in Paraguay amid increasing
efforts to interfere in Venezuela and tighten its blockade on Cuba. Yet
the more that the U.S. refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the
peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean,
the more it has become isolated in its aggressive position. Host
country Paraguay put forward a motion that insisted on the
of Cuba at the next Summit of the Americas in 2015. One after the
other, governments of all countries gave their support for the motion.
It was opposed only by the U.S. and Canadian
The show of unity was underscored by several nations
vowing to not participate in future meetings without the unconditional
acceptance of Cuba into the affairs of the organization. Bolivian envoy
Diego Pary Rodriguez said that Cuban exclusion would mean "we consider
ourselves excluded as well from the
next Summit of the Americas." That position was shared by the
delegations of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Argentine Foreign Affairs
Minister Hector Timeran stated that it would be "very difficult" for
the country to take part in another summit if Cuba is excluded.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa confirmed that
his country would not attend the summit without Cuban participation. He
also proposed that the headquarters of the OAS and Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights be relocated from Washington, DC.
Motions passed at the 44th OAS Assembly demonstrated the
failure of the U.S. to wield the organization for its own purposes. In
the declaration of the 44th session, entitled "Development with Social
Inclusion," the U.S. was reduced to inserting its position into
footnotes based on Cold War definitions of human
rights. Opening the session, OAS Secretary-General José Miguel
Insulza called for positive support from the international community
for the political process in Venezuela "without pressure or sanctions."
A motion was passed expressing support for the ongoing peace talks
being held in Cuba between the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) and the government of
El Salvador Celebrates Inauguration of
Historic Success for Salvadoran People
Salvadoran President of
Salvador Sánchez Cerén at his inauguration, with First
Lady Margarita Villalta, June 1, 2014.
On June 1, Salvador Sánchez Cerén was
inaugurated as President of El Salvador. The Legislative Assembly
convened to transfer the office of the presidency before a
thousands-strong crowd at the international convention centre in San
Salvador. At the ceremony former President Mauricio Funes, elected in
as the first President from the Farabundo Martí National
Liberation Front (FMLN), officially handed over the presidential sash
to his successor. Sánchez Cerén, a former teacher and
veteran of the struggle against military dictatorship from 1980-1992,
was elected in a runoff vote on March 9.
The inauguration ceremony was opened by the President of
the Legislative Assembly, Sigrido Reyes, who saluted the
representatives of the trade unions, campesino (peasant) organizations
and students' and women's organizations that have been at the forefront
of the popular struggle in the country since the 1960s.
The ceremony was marked by a sombre recognition of the struggle against
state repression of the Salvadoran people.
President Sánchez Cerén spoke after being
sworn in by Reyes: "After long years of struggle for justice and
democracy in my country, I humbly and with deep respect accept this
presidential sash. I receive it with a commitment to exercise the
presidency for all Salvadorans, here and abroad." The main refrain
of President Sánchez Cerén's speech was that national
unity is needed to solve problems faced by the Salvadoran people.
President Sánchez Cerén used the occasion to honour the
memory of historic leaders of El Salvador's revolutionary movement,
including Mélida Anaya Montes, a founder with Sánchez
of the ANDES-21 teachers' union, and Schafik Handal, former leader of
the Communist Party of El Salvador and a FMLN commander. President
Sánchez Cerén noted that the new government is taking
office "with a lot of hope and happiness," but that "this is only
possible due to the labours of our heroes and martyrs,
those men and women, visionary people, who gave their lives dreaming of
a democratic country."
left to right: Vice-President Oscar Ortíz and his wife Elda
Gladis Tobar Ortíz; President Salvador Sánchez
Cerén and First Lady
Villalta. Centre left to right: President of Ecuador Rafael Correa,
President of Bolivia Evo Morales, FMLN General Secretary Medardo
González; Cuban Vice-President Salvador Valdés Mesa.
The inauguration was attended by delegations from more
than 100 countries. Among the leaders in attendance, Ecuadorian
President Rafael Correa, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Cuban
Vice-President Salvador Valdés Mesa were cheered most vigorously
by the crowd.
Following the inauguration, a popular celebration was
held in San Salvador's Plaza Cívica, the site of a 1980 massacre
carried out by the armed forces of El Salvador. Undaunted by the rain,
the crowd paid tribute to champions of the sovereignty of the peoples
of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Fidel
Castro, Hugo Chávez and Schafik Handal.
In his speech to the jubilant crowd at the popular
celebration, President Sánchez Cerén expressed his dream
for El Salvador. "El Salvador is worth the struggle. It's worth
sacrificing ourselves. And it's worth struggling all of our lives for
our dream... In my dream, El Salvador will become a country of
[good living], where everyone can have happiness, where inequality is
torn down, where we all see each other as brothers and sisters -- this
dream is worth fighting for."
TML congratulates President Salvador
Sánchez Cerén and his Vice-President Oscar Ortíz,
the FMLN, and the people of El Salvador on their historic success, and
on the consolidation of the achievements of the election of the
people's forces in 2009.
Popular celebration at
Plaza Civica in San Salvador.
Five Days for the Cuban Five
Third Annual Gathering Held in Washington, DC
June 10, 2014
The third annual Five Days for the Cuban Five was held
from June 4 to 10 in Washington, DC. Organized by the International
Committee to Free the Cuban Five, the events press for the release of
the remaining three Cubans held prisoner in the U.S., Gerardo
Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero.
Actions coinciding with the events in Washington were held in more than
The events were preceded by a press conference in Miami
on May 29 demanding the U.S. government disclose its relationship with
anti-Cuban terrorists sheltered in Florida. The beginning of events on
June 4 coincided with the 49th birthday of Gerardo Hernández,
who is serving a double life sentence plus 15
The five days in Washington brought together more than
250 parliamentarians, lawyers, religious leaders, writers, artists and
activists from around the world. The Five Days for the Five connects
the unjust imprisonment of the Cubans in the U.S., who were monitoring
Miami-based anti-Cuban terrorist cells, with
the issue of U.S.-Cuban relations and the more than 50 year-long
criminal blockade imposed upon Cuba.
On June 4, the events began with a press conference at
the National Press Club by Canadian journalist Stephen Kimber and Cuban
Five attorney Martin Garbus. Kimber said there were a number of hopeful
developments on the front of U.S.-Cuban relations, including a visit to
Cuba from the head of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, and a bipartisan letter to President Obama calling
for change in U.S. policy towards Cuba.
Garbus explained that a number of facts about the case
are unprecedented in U.S. legal history. According to government
documents, between 1996 and 2001, when the Five were convicted, tens of
millions of dollars were paid directly by the government to journalists
who were producing up to five spurious
articles per day on the case for the U.S. monopoly media as part of a
disinformation campaign. These facts did not come to light until after
"The papers that we have submitted to the court name
specific journalists, name specific monies they got, which agencies
they got the monies from. It also includes the articles and statements
they made, and it shows the relationship between, let's say, Radio
Marti's analysis [a U.S. government-funded anti-Cuban
broadcaster] of the facts, and the stuff that then winds up in the
Miami Herald, and then on national and local NBC and CBS stations,"
June 5, 2014
On June 5 and 6, a conference took place on "A New Era
in U.S.-Cuban Relations," including several panels and an exhibition of
cartoons by Gerardo Hernández and watercolours by Antonio
Guerrero. The event on June 5 was opened by actor Danny Glover, himself
a longtime advocate for the release of the
Other topics included the recently revealed U.S. social
network "ZunZuneo" which aimed to foment unrest on the island, the
history of terrorism against Cuba and the latest developments in the
legal case of the Five. The conference concluded with a performance by
the hip hop group Dead Prez the night of June
Significant discussion took place on the recent
"prisoner swap" undertaken by the U.S. government in Afghanistan, and
whether it suggests the possibility of an agreement for the freedom of
the Five. Cuban authorities have indicated that Alan Gross, a U.S.
citizen convicted of acts against the independence and
territorial integrity of Cuba, could be released under such an exchange.
The final work of the late U.S. filmmaker Saul Landau
was screened on June 6. Entitled "Cuba Sexual Revolution," it carries
an interview with Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban National Centre
for Sex Education and champion of lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender
rights on the island. Landau, a friend of
Cuba and recipient of the Cuban Medal of Friendship, died in 2013 after
a battle with cancer.
Participants emphasized the importance of the work
undertaken in Miami by the Cuban Five to prevent attacks against Cuba,
which have taken thousands of lives since the 1960s and left thousands
A rally of more than 500 people was held June 7 outside
the White House, followed by a march to the State Department building.
Speakers included Rafael Cancel Miranda, a fighter for Puerto Rican
independence. More than 20 activists from the Free the Cuban 5
Committee-Vancouver also held an action on
bicycle in the morning, before the march.
On June 8 parliamentarians from more than a dozen
countries paid visits to Capitol Hill. A delegation from Chile paid
tribute to Orlando Letelier, Chilean Foreign Minister in the Popular
Unity government, who was murdered in Washington in 1976 by a
CIA-sponsored anti-Cuban group.
Congressional visits took place from June 9 to 10,
followed by a closing political and cultural event at Bolivarian Hall.
Actions in Canada Demand Release of Remaining Cuban
Unjustly Imprisoned in U.S.
The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver held its 102nd
action on May 5 in front of the U.S. consulate. Participants chanted
such as "Freedom for the Five NOW! Justice for the Five NOW!" and heard
a message from a Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver organizer
in Cuba as part of the 23rd Ernesto Che Guevara volunteer work brigade.
picket recognized Ottawa activists, holding their sixth
monthly picket on the same day. A 21-person BC delegation left for the
for the Five in Washington, DC following the picket.
June 7, Toronto activists held a spirited picket in front of the
CTV-CP24, a 24-hour Toronto television station to
contribute to smashing the silence in the monopoly media on the unjust
imprisonment since September 1998 of the Cuban Five. Organized by the
Toronto Forum on Cuba, the picket brought together justice-minded
and friends of Cuba from Latin American, First Nations, LGBT, Muslim,
anti-war groups to demand the release of all the Cuban Five. These
the Hugo Chavez Peoples' Defense Front, the Hamilton Anti-War
Juan Gualberto Gomez Association of Cubans in Toronto, the Rainbow Sea
Red Open Collective with Cuba, the Kitchener-Waterloo Anti-Colonial
Collective, the Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Network, and the
Riel Bolivarian Circle. Activists with the Toronto Forum on Cuba
carry on the fight with a busy schedule of actions this summer.
highlighted the hypocrisy of the claims of the U.S. government to be
terrorism, while sponsoring terror in Syria and Venezuela and jailing
for working to prevent attacks on Cuba.
Activists in Ottawa held their sixth consecutive picket
for the Cuban Five on the fifth of every month across from the U.S.
World Cup in Brazil
Denying Rumours with Actual Facts
Over the last months, the Dilma Rousseff administration
Workers' Party (PT) have been the
target of a massive campaign in the media and the social networks
hosting of the World Cup. Criticisms can always improve any given
yet what we are witnessing in Brazil, now with international
a pessimism and disinformation campaign led by the opposition, with
support from the big media, in an attempt to undermine the government.
campaign makes use of fair claims made by the population for
in public services for the purpose of promoting a rhetoric hinged on
inefficiency of the State and public spending. It also seeks to
holding of the Cup from the federal government, simultaneously
yet mobilizing pro-Cup feelings to boost big business profits. Our
friends in sectors of the left have shown concern over news of the
passage of legislation that would favor crackdowns on protests and
movements, in light of the 2013 demonstrations. Given this major
disinformation campaign, we would like to share some facts with our
Sao Paulo, May 15, 2014.
report that the government is negotiating with those organizations
protesting the World Cup regarding their grievances to minimize the
disruption to the sporting event. Investigations are also underway
regarding police violence against protestors, Vermelho reports. (Xinhua)
The most frequent argument in the media is the statement
that World Cup
funds are being spent on stadiums at the expense of health and
World Cup has a budget of nearly R$ 26 billion. The construction of the
stadiums (R$ 8 billion) accounts for roughly 30% of this total. It is
stressing, however, that there are no Union budget funds in the
construction was funded by National Economic and Social Development
(BNDES), local resources, and the private sector. About 70% of the
spending is not on stadiums, but on infrastructure, services, and labor
training/capacity-building programs. Expenditure on urban mobility is
about the same as on stadiums -- 45 urban mobility projects
transport. These projects include dedicated bus lanes; stations,
Traffic Control Centers; BRT (Bus Rapid Transit); and LRVs (Light Rail
Vehicles). The federal government invested over R$ 8 billion in these
As for airports, R$ 6.28 billion was invested to improve
infrastructure in passenger terminals, runways, and facilities, and in
upgrading. The 21 passenger terminal modernization and construction
will increase by 81% passenger capacity in World Cup host city
Additionally, these airport infrastructure improvements have been
meet the needs of millions of Brazilian passengers, who have grown from
million to 100 million over the last decade.
According to the Ministry of Labor, overall some 700,000
indirect wage jobs have been or will have been generated by June 2014.
study released by the Ministry of Tourism, the World Cup is expected to
an impact worth R$ 30 billion on the country's GDP. For further
log on to website www.copa2014.gov.br.
The Cup has not received any funds from the health and
budgets, which have increased year after year. It is worth noting the
multiplication of educational programs, such as an increase in the
day-care centers; the expansion of public elementary and technical
a rise in the number of places offered through the construction of new
federal universities and student credit programs; plus the 50,000
abroad to attend undergraduate and graduate programs in foreign
through the Science Without Borders program. What's more, over the next
years, 75% of the oil exploration royalties and 50% of the Pre-Salt
Fund are earmarked for education.
In the health area, we point out the strengthening of
the universal Single
System of Health, with an investment worth R$ 15 billion in hospital
coupled with the Mais Médicos program -- in
cooperation with the
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) -- to attract and foster
and foreign medical doctors to work in the country's most socially
regions, plus earmarked investments of 25% of the oil exploration
health. In seven months the Mais Médicos program had
professionals participating, distributed in almost 40% of the Brazilian
municipalities. By the end of 2014 they will be 13,000.
Summarizing, the Cup has not used budgets allocated to
such areas as
health, education, transport, and public safety. Funds for health and
are rising each year. For example, the budget of the Ministry of
from R$ 86.2 billion in 2013 to R$ 89.1 billion in 2014. The health
fiscal 2014 is R$ 106 billion, a 31 percent increase in comparison with
We acknowledge and support the progressive agenda of
from the recent demonstrations. After all, these have also been our
demands, which, albeit at a slower pace than we wish, we have managed
implement. But we cannot accept the leveraging of these legitimate
by sectors of the right that only seek to reintroduce neo-liberal
designed to dismantle the State. Another theme that has been
the media, especially abroad, regards the likelihood that a bill, known
"anti-terrorism" law, be approved to prevent violent actions during the
demonstrations. Actually, there is a bill being considered in Congress
proposed by a joint Chamber/Senate committee, with the support of
and public security sectors. The Workers Party states that we are
any legislative initiative designed to criminalize social movements and
legitimize arbitrary police action. Our greatest problem is not the
demonstrations during the World Cup but, rather, the structural
has come to pervade the Brazilian society over centuries of inequality
criminalization of poverty.
25th Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba
Tour of Southern Ontario
The Canadian Network on Cuba is pleased to announce the
schedule for the annual Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan Southern Ontario
Tour. The Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan is a project of the
award-winning Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization
(IFCO. Each year the Cuba Caravan travels across Canada and the U.S.
collecting goods and/or donations to be delivered to Cuba in defiance
of the illegal U.S. blockade. For Cuba,
the Caravan is an important effort to end the blockade against the
island, which causes shortages of food, medicine and other important
supplies. It is an illegal and immoral policy that uses hunger and
The 2014 Southern Ontario tour features the inimitable
Reverend Luis Barrios, who will bring to life the significant issues
surrounding the US blockade against Cuba. With his in depth
knowledge of US- Latin American-Caribbean history and relations,
Reverend Barrios will leave no stone unturned as to why the blockade
should end, and the rights of Cuba and all countries to
self-determination should be respected and defended. His profound
passion for the justice, his charm and sense of humour make for a
riveting presentation you won't soon forget.
Rev. Barrios is a
professor of psychology and ethnic studies at John Jay College of
Criminal Justice-City University of New York. Since 1988, he has been a
weekly columnist of El Diario La Prensa
in New York City, one of the oldest Spanish newspapers in the United
States. Rev. Barrios is also the associate priest at St. Mary's
Episcopal Church in West Harlem and the spiritual advisor for the
Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC in the Washington Heights
community. He is an active member of the
IFCO-Pastor for Peace Board of Directors and was heavily involved in
the 2005 campaign to free the computers seized at the border. He has
since participated as a speaker in several caravans to Cuba.
He is a passionate exponent of the use of non-violent
civil disobedience to challenge unjust laws and policies. In 2009 he
spent several months in jail for his participation in a protest about
training in torture methods at the U.S. military's "School of the
Americas" in Fort Benning, Georgia.
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