November 30, 2019 - No. 29

Trudeau Government Sets Direction for 43rd Parliament

The Necessity for a New Direction and Control of the Economy in Conformity
with Its Socialized Nature


Liberal Government's New Cabinet and Politics of the Absurd

- K.C. Adams -


Alberta Government Proclaims Theft of
Workers' Pension Fund Legal

Hands Off Our Pensions!

- Peggy Morton -

Unions Say Government Has No Consent and No Mandate

Workers' Mass Resistance Against Provincial
Government Attacks on the Rights of All

No Harbour for War! Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Peace Activists Oppose War Conference in Halifax

China in the Crosshairs of Halifax War Conference

- Tony Seed -

• U.S. Primes NATO to Confront Russia, China
-  M.K. Bhadrakumar -

Tributes to Fidel Castro

• Living Legacy of Comrade Fidel Castro Commemorated
by the Peoples of the World

• In the Heart of Latin American Unity

- Enrique Ubieta Gómez -

Unfolding Events in Latin America and the Caribbean

• Resistance Grows to Neo-Liberal Wrecking,
State Terror and Imperialist-Inspired Coups
- Margaret Villamizar -

Unifor Letter to Canada's Foreign Minister Re: Condemning the Military Coup and Respecting Democracy in Bolivia

• Thank You Message for Contributions to the Lula Livre Campaign

- Workers' Party of Brazil -

Cuban Ministry of Public Health Withdraws Collaborators
from Ecuador, While Reiterating Willingness to
Continue Supporting the Country

- Cuban Ministry of Public Health -

• No One Can Erase Cuba's Loving Contribution
in Bolivia and Ecuador

- Yenia Silva Correa and Germán Veloz Placencia -

Actions in Canada

• Solidarity Activists Hold Discussion with Cuban
Ambassador in Ottawa

• Rising with Haiti! Demonstrators Demand
Justice, Dignity and Reparations

Coming Events

• Demonstration for Social Justice in Latin America

• Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza
• Discussion with Cuban Ambassador to Canada
on Current Situation in Cuba



Trudeau Government Sets Direction for 43rd Parliament

The Necessity for a New Direction and Control of the Economy in Conformity with Its Socialized Nature

The ruling elite are talking of a global recession as inevitable. The President of the World Bank, David Malpass, recently described the global economy as "fragile" and on the precipice of a recession. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy will grow at its lowest level since the economic crisis in 2008. The new IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, states, "The global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown. We expect slower growth in nearly 90 per cent of the world."

The representatives of the financial oligarchy expose themselves as enemies of the people when they speak in this manner. To accept an economic slowdown as inevitable is criminal for those in authority. They refuse to see what they do not want to see, what they do not want to change.

The socialized economy of industrial mass production is more than capable of providing a modern standard of living for all without recurring crises. The obstacle to bringing the economy under control to solve its problems lies with the social class in control and its outmoded aim of forcing the economy to serve the narrow private interests of competing factions. The contending companies, monopolies and cartels turn the various parts and sectors of the socialized economy against each other and the whole to serve their private interests. The result is chaos, anarchy, recurring crises and war.

The modern socialized economy is integrated. It needs all its parts functioning in harmony with each other and the whole in a nation-building project. The nation in turn does not look at others in the world as competitors or people and regions to exploit but as one humanity, cooperating for mutual benefit and common development. This can only occur if those in control of the parts and sectors of the economy have the aim of cooperating with all other parts and sectors for the common good of all and Mother Earth herself.

This means those in control of this new direction for the economy hold the well-being and rights of all their fellow producers in the same regard as their own. Those in control realize that their well-being depends on the well-being of all humanity and Mother Earth. In this way control over the economy and the relations among its producers are in conformity with the socialized interrelated nature of the economy itself.

It is the determination of the working people to set a new direction and control of the economy in conformity with its socialized nature which opens a path to progress. The announcements of the Trudeau government cater to the competing private interests of those currently in control of the economy. They will make the rich richer, the poor poorer and exacerbate the contradictions and crisis.

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Liberal Government's New Cabinet
and Politics of the Absurd

The Trudeau government has created a Ministry of Middle Class Prosperity and appointed Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier to be the Minister.[1] Interviewed on CBC Radio's The Current, Minister Fortier said she had not yet received her mandate letter from the Prime Minister and as such could not speak to what her Ministry will do. The interviewer asked her to define the middle class and according to a CBC transcript she replied, "Well, we know that we want a very strong economy for everyone. And having a strong middle class will entail the fact that we can continue to put measures and helping those that want to join the middle class to have access to those programs.

"Well, I define the middle class where people feel that they can afford their way of life. They have quality of life. And they can send their kids to play hockey or even have different activities.

"It's having the cost of living where you can do what you want with your family. So I think that it's really important that we look at, how do we make our lives more affordable now?

"And that's, for me, something that we will be putting measures, and really putting efforts, with my colleagues, to have a strong economy."

The gibberish from the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity stems from the self-serving fraudulent ideology of the ruling elite and from the irrelevance of her position other than as window dressing as a woman in Cabinet. Coming from a communications background Fortier is perhaps being groomed as a Public Relations fast talker in the belief that loud propaganda can overcome the reality of recurring economic crises and the fact that the financial oligarchy has mandated the Trudeau government to pay the rich, not to increase the affluence and influence of better paid members of the working class who in fact are being pushed into ever greater insecurity.

Women cannot achieve dignity when they allow themselves to be manipulated in the aristocratic belief that distorting the concrete conditions can make problems disappear, such as the looming cyclical economic crisis or war that will wreak havoc in the lives of all. Speaking nonsense about a so-called middle class to perpetuate a perception of affluent workers, who somehow have achieved control over their lives because they can enroll their kids in hockey, does not help when the financial oligarchy attacks those same workers with demands for concessions or destroys their livelihoods as it has done in large swathes of manufacturing, and now in the forestry industry in BC. Fast talk does not change the reality that the cartel parties, including the Trudeau Liberal Party and its minority government, cannot have the best interests of the vast majority of working Canadians at heart because those cartel parties represent the financial oligarchy and do its bidding.

The cartel party system has concentrated power in the Prime Minister's Office, which acts on behalf of powerful private interests. Canadians saw a crude display of the power of the PMO when Trudeau fired two female Cabinet members, the Minister of Justice and the President of the Treasury Board because they would not keep quiet about what they felt was a developing corrupt arrangement with SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal proceedings.

The cartel party system is lowering the level of political activity and discourse. The antidote is for workers and their allies to empower themselves and become political in their own right and speak out politically with their own voice, thinking and agenda. Being political in your own right means uniting with others to tackle the economic, political and social problems as they present themselves in their objective reality and fight for solutions that favour the interests of working people and uphold social responsibility and nation-building.

Women face particular problems as the reproducers of life and targets of abuse; they have to defend the dignity of women themselves by being political and informed. They have to join with others in an organized fight to affirm the right of people to exercise control over the decisions that affect their lives. The battle to affirm this right in practice brings empowerment and dignity.

Being political in your own right on those matters that affect your life pushes forward the human factor/social consciousness in the battle for democratic renewal. Being political in your own right shapes in a positive manner the democratic personality of all those actively involved.

For Your Information:
The Canadian Working Class

The Canadian working class is the most numerous social class by far. It exists within a dialectical social relationship with the financial oligarchy. The working class sells its capacity to work to the financial oligarchy. With this sale, the oligarchs take control of the use-value of workers' capacity to work and what they produce. The financial oligarchy is a tiny minority of the population that has become a supranational social class with no particular connection to Canada other than as exploiter of its natural resources, means of production and working class.

Within the oppressive social relation with the financial oligarchy, workers must organize to defend themselves, their rights and well-being. This means they must organize to empower themselves through their own independent political activity for democratic renewal and develop and spread their advanced social consciousness and independent institutions so the working class becomes an unstoppable social force both in defence of its rights and to build the New.

The class struggle within the social relation with the financial oligarchy entails mass political mobilization of working people and their allies for democratic renewal and for a new direction for the economy to stop paying the rich, increase investments in social programs and public services, and to make Canada a zone for peace with an anti-war government.

In building the New, the working class has the historic social responsibility to overcome its oppressive social relation with the financial oligarchy and eliminate it as a ruling social class that acquires its living by buying the capacity to work of the working class.

In freeing itself from the oppressive social relation with the financial oligarchy, the working class creates itself anew with its own democratic personality as the social class in control of the economy and politics of the Canadian nation-building project. The new working class in control of its capacity to work and what it produces has the social responsibility to move society forward to the complete emancipation of the working class and the elimination of class society not only in Canada but also worldwide in unity with all humanity.

Social Relation Between the Working Class and Financial Oligarchy

Social class denotes how a collective of people acquire their living in relation to others during a particular historical period and mode of production, such as during the classical Roman period of slavery with slave masters and slaves or the medieval mode of production and social relation between the landlord and peasant. Social classes come into being and pass away with developments in the productive forces and revolutionary changes in the mode of production.

The specific term "middle class" originated during the medieval or feudal period when in concert with developments in the productive forces a social class appeared that gained the ability to purchase the capacity to work of others outside the strict relations of production and laws of the medieval era.

Advancements in methods of production in agriculture and manufacturing challenged the petty production of the feudal mode of production and its relations. These developments forced many peasants and journeymen to be released or excluded from their traditional relations of production. To survive, those who found themselves without land or a guild began to sell their capacity to work on a daily or longer basis to those who had acquired the material and financial means to purchase their capacity to work. Thus began in its infancy the long social relation between a small social class of those who buy others' capacity to work and the vast numbers of those who sell their capacity to work to acquire a living.

In the medieval period, the feudal aristocracy was referred to generally as the upper class while the mostly impoverished masses including the peasants, guild workers and others were known generally as the lower classes.

The term middle class became attached to those who had gained the ability to purchase the capacity to work of others outside and often in opposition to the rules, regulations and laws of the medieval regime. Members of the emerging middle class were neither upper aristocrats nor lower peasants but rather were considered colloquially as the middle class.

An important feature of this new social middle class was that it only existed in a relationship with a new emerging social class that possessed no land or hereditary position but only its capacity to work. This social class was "free" to sell to the middle class its capacity to work on an hourly, daily or longer basis because it was "free" from the land and any other productive material possession, and outside feudal restrictions.

The new relations of production between those who bought the capacity to work of others and those who sold their capacity to work developed mostly within protected urban areas or market towns that became centres of opposition to feudal control. The towns were known in Europe in various languages as a "Bourg" and the members of the middle class who dominated the "Bourgs" subsequently became known as bourgeois.

With the invention of the steam engine and its application to production, industrial mass production soon overwhelmed feudal petty production and propelled the working class to become the most numerous social class mostly coming from the ruined peasantry. Upon the political overthrow of the feudal ruling elite, the bourgeoisie or "middle class" took control of the state and society and became the ruling class. The upper class of landed aristocrats has since been integrated into either the new ruling elite or working class. The relations of production became simplified into two main classes, those who sell their capacity to work, the working class, and those who buy the capacity to work of the working class, the bourgeoisie, which no longer could be considered middle class.

The early nascent period of the relations of production between the working class and bourgeoisie soon gave way to imperialism. Social wealth became concentrated into fewer hands and the financial and industrial sectors merged into one and spread throughout the world turning the bourgeoisie into a powerful minority of rulers called the financial oligarchy. The working class became educated and experienced in the class struggle, engaging in its own nation-building projects in the Soviet Union and elsewhere and countless battles to defend its interests and rights within the imperialist system of states. The working class is poised to end through revolution its oppressive social relation with the financial oligarchy.

No middle class exists between the two main social classes under imperialism. A small group of people with no stability has one foot in each social class. Extremely vulnerable people who can no longer work for various reasons may suffer what is called civil death, with no means to acquire a living other than through charity, social programs or other means.

The objective conditions exist to resolve the dialectical social relation between the working class and financial oligarchy and move society forward to the emancipation of the working class and the elimination of social classes. This social revolution can only be accomplished through the efforts of the working class itself by preparing the subjective conditions for revolution and thereby resolving the dialectical social relation with the financial oligarchy.

Note 

1. According to information on the government website, the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, Mona Fortier, was first elected to the House of Commons in a 2017 by-election. Prior to entering politics, she was on several non-profit boards and was the director of communications for a French-language college in Ottawa until 2015, when she started and managed her own communications consulting firm. She was co-chair of the Liberal Party's 2019 campaign platform committee.

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Alberta Government Proclaims Theft of Workers' Pension Fund Legal

Hands Off Our Pensions!


Rally organized by Alberta nurses at the Alberta Legislature, November 20, 2019, during passage of  Bill 22 to say No! to wage rollbacks and "Hands Off Our Pensions!"

The Alberta government of Jason Kenney has rammed Bill 22, the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, 2019, a 174-page omnibus bill, through the Legislature. The bill was introduced on November 18 and the United Conservative Party (UCP) imposed "time allocation" after only four hours of debate. The bill received Royal Assent on November 22. Bill 22 amended or scrapped 31 different acts. It abolished the Office of the Elections Commission, which has levied more than $200,000 in fines for violations of the elections act associated with the UCP leadership race, and fired the Commissioner, who is still conducting investigations. Bill 22 also made it "legal" for the Alberta government to essentially expropriate the pension fund of Alberta teachers and put those funds into the hands of the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the money manager owned by the provincial government.

The bill removes the option for Alberta's biggest public-sector pension plans, the Local Authorities Pensions Plan and the Public Services Pension Plan, to choose their fund manager. Both are presently managed by AIMCo, but had the option to withdraw and choose another fund manager. It removed one of the representatives of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) from the pension board and replaced that representative with a management representative. Bill 22 gives the government a veto over union appointments to the government employees' pension board on the basis that such appointees must be "competent."

Speaking in the Legislature, the Finance Minister made it clear that the Alberta government's reasons for these changes have nothing to do with guaranteeing security in retirement for public sector workers and professionals. He explicitly stated that it was to benefit the government, and further described the workers' pension funds as "public funds." In other words, he does not recognize that these funds do not belong to the governing cartel party.

These decisions were imposed on the entire public sector and the 400,000 members of the pension plans with absolutely no consultation with the unions and no consent, and carried out with lightning speed. Alberta Teachers' Association President Jason Schilling called on the government to "show us the numbers and convince us it is in our interests, instead of unilaterally seizing our pension assets." The government did not respond. Schilling also called for a report from the Auditor-General before the government proceeded with Bill 22, but this also received no response. Instead, the government continues to act to destroy any equilibrium in the social relations between the workers and the employers. It refuses to recognize the right of the workers and professionals to exercise control over decisions as to how the pension funds are to be managed.

The arrogance, hubris and narcissism of Kenney and his government is such that they seem convinced that they are unstoppable. They are continuing their shock and awe tactics based on this outlook, declaring that the fact that they won the election means they have a mandate to do whatever they please, and even that this is what the people want. UCP leader Jason Kenney did not even appear in the Legislature to defend Bill 22. Instead he went to Texas to woo investors, and declared that this was, after all, his most important duty.

Kenney's efforts to silence any opposition to his government's attacks on workers have been a dismal failure. Teachers who have managed their own fund for the past 80 years responded with a resounding No! Not Without Our Consent! More than 30,000 teachers emailed their MLAs or the Premier to express their opposition to this outrageous act of seizing control of their pension fund. They filled the galleries at the Legislature each night.

As well, close to 1,000 nurses from across the province, together with workers from other unions, rallied at the Legislature to say No! to wage rollbacks and Hands Off Our Pensions! Active and retired workers sent thousands of emails telling the government to stop its arrogant abuse of power. Education workers also rallied to express their opposition, and more actions are planned for the coming weeks. Workers from the public sector joined the striking CN workers on the picket lines.


Public sector workers join CN workers' picket line in Edmonton, November 23, 2019.

The UCP government continues to claim that nothing has really changed and that the boards of the respective plans, which are comprised of representatives from the unions and employers, will continue to set direction. But this is pure deception because the option to choose another plan manager has been eliminated. Without the power to withdraw from AIMCo's control, the pension plans have no recourse if they disagree with the management of the retirement funds.

It is also deception that the government has no control over AIMCo. The Alberta Investment Management Corporation Act (Section 19) states: "The Treasury Board may issue directives that must be followed by the [AIMCo], the board, or both." This gives the government the power, for example, to direct the fund to increase its already substantial share of investments in Alberta-based oil and gas corporations.

The government's actions to seize control of pension funds without the consent of the working people to whom these funds belong is a form of theft. The working people demand to know what the government is up to. It is clear that Jason Kenney is seizing control of large pools of capital and has an appetite for much more. He has moved some $30 billion worth of investments under AIMCo control. Kenney has also revived Harper's call for Alberta to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and establish an Alberta Pension Plan.

It is not accidental that while this legislation was being passed in a manner never seen before in the Alberta Legislature, Kenney was in Texas stumping for the energy oligarchs and making who knows what promises on their behalf to potential investors. Kenney is showing on whose behalf he is ruling and on whose behalf he is prepared to trample on the rights of the hard-working public sector employees. To use dictate in this manner to seize more control over how these funds are managed is an abuse of power and cannot stand.

Defined pension benefits that guarantee a cultured standard of living until passing away are a necessary component of modern life. Security in retirement is an inviolable right which belongs to every member of society. Bill 22 must be repealed!

(Photos: TML, UNA, AUPE)

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Unions Say Government Has No Consent
and No Mandate

Alberta unions are standing as one to call on the government to cease and desist its arbitrary actions and abuse of power in seizing control of pension funds, issuing the following joint statement.

In response to this blatant grab for money and control, the representatives of more than 300,000 working Albertans, have a three-part message for the premier and his government.

First, this isn't your money. It belongs to the Albertans who saved it month after month. How can a party that styles itself as a champion of individual rights and property rights think it's appropriate for government to essentially seize control of other people's savings?

Second, you don't have permission. You never mentioned sweeping changes to Alberta's retirement system in the recent election, so you do not have a mandate for any of this.

Third, you don't have the confidence of the people who this money really belongs to. Working Albertans did not ask the UCP to interfere in the administration of their pensions, nor do they have confidence that they will run those plans in a fair or responsible way.

In fact, we're worried that what you're attempting to do is use other people's money to create a huge slush fund to finance an agenda that has not yet been articulated to the public and which most people would not feel comfortable using their life savings to support.

For these reasons, on behalf of all working Albertans, we demand that you keep your hands off our retirement savings. You can do that by rescinding Bill 22 and abandoning your reckless and irresponsible plan to withdraw from CPP.

If you don't do these things, we will make sure all of our members know who, exactly, seized their pension savings and put their retirement security at risk. We will make sure that Bill 22 becomes an albatross that hangs around your necks, from now until the next election.

Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL)
Guy Smith, president, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE)
Heather Smith, president, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)
Mike Parker, president, Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA)
Rory Gill, president, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Alberta Divisions)
Jason Schilling, president, Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA)

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Workers' Mass Resistance Against Provincial Government Attacks on the Rights of All


Students rally at Alberta Legislature, November 18, 2019, against cuts to investments
in education.

Alberta workers and their allies came out in force during the week of November 18-23 with rallies and protests being organized almost every day. On Monday, November 18, about 300 students from the University of Alberta and about 200 students from MacEwan University marched to the Legislature and joined forces to protest the United Conservative Party (UCP) government's vicious cuts to post-secondary education. Many students carried signs beginning with, "I am not silent because." The cuts, which will seriously affect student learning conditions and instructor working conditions, include slashing already inadequate base funding, seven per cent tuition increases each year, student loan rate increases, and threats of a "performance-based" funding model which no doubt will be based on how well the universities serve the needs of the monopolies.

On Wednesday, November 20, United Nurses of Alberta, which represents 30,000 nurses, organized a protest of about 1,000 nurses at the Legislature to affirm their collective rights and the right of all to health care. Two specific issues of focus were the right to collective bargaining without threatened government interference and the right of public workers to control their own pensions, which will soon be administered by the UCP government instead of by the workers themselves. In February 1988, nurses across Alberta heroically struck for 19 days, defying cease and desist orders, criminal charges, firings, and threats of government seizure of their assets to win an improved collective agreement.

Nurses rally at the Alberta Legislature, November 20, 2019.

On Thursday, November 21 about 1,000 people rallied at the University of Calgary to protest the UCP government's funding cuts and the lifting of the previous government's tuition fee freeze. The picket, hosted by the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE), was held during the noon hour on the main quad. The rally followed the November 18 announcement that University of Calgary would cut 250 jobs, a move prompted by the province's grants reduction and the funding cuts for the university's infrastructure maintenance program. The budget cuts amount to over $54 million. Guy Smith, AUPE president, stated: "When you're trying to rebuild an economy, the best way to do that is to have an educated and well-skilled workforce. If you take away the ability of Albertans to become educated then that's going to hurt the economy even more."


Rally, November 21, 2019, at the University of Calgary.

On Friday, November 22, CUPE Alberta, which represents 36,000 Alberta workers, organized a rally of about 100 non-teaching staff and their allies in front of the Edmonton Public School Board building in downtown Edmonton to protest UCP cuts to K-12 education. After promising to maintain existing funding, the UCP government's budget for 2019 will reduce overall funding by about $275 million, with no additional funding for enrollment growth.

"We're going to see larger class sizes, kids less supported," Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta President Rory Gill said. "There's going to be devastating impacts to the kids here in Edmonton."

A salient feature of all four rallies was that at each one many people stepped forward to speak in their own name. For example, at the Edmonton Public School Board rally, people heard from support workers, parents, students, teacher aides, teachers, and union leaders. It was pointed out at all the rallies that the UCP decisions on education and health care are being arbitrarily made without any serious consultation with any workers. This highlighted once again that the real issue facing Canadians is the need for democratic renewal so that people can become decision-makers on all matters that affect their lives and can secure the future for themselves and the coming generation. This is a problem for today, not tomorrow.

(Photos: TML, AUPE, CUPE, UNA)

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No Harbour for War! Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Peace Activists Oppose War Conference in Halifax

A lively rally organized by No Harbour for War was held in Halifax on November 23 at Peace and Freedom Park, across from the Westin Hotel, site of the annual war conference, the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF). This marks the 11th year that peace activists in Halifax have come out to firmly reject their city being used as the venue for this war conference.

A representative of No Harbour for War recounted the steadfast opposition by Haligonians to the war conference when it first began. It was pointed out, "It is important to oppose this war conference for a number of reasons. Firstly, since its beginning with Peter MacKay, who was Canada's Defence Minister, this so-called 'Halifax' conference was based in Washington, DC and serves to support the aggressive war policy of the U.S. imperialists while being paid for by the Canadian taxpayers. Secondly, it is part of the movement to integrate Canada into the U.S. empire and its war machine. In this, Halifax has played a key role.

"During the First World War Shearwater was established as an advance deployment base for the U.S. military. Today Halifax hosts visiting NATO fleets and allied foreign warships on their way to wars of aggression and military exercises. Recently, the Cutlass Fury exercise, the largest in recent years, was an example of military exercises connected to Halifax in the interest of U.S. imperialist aggression around the world. And there is a list of such exercises and wars around the globe connected to Halifax. This is why we are demanding that Halifax Be No Harbour for War! and that Canada should no longer be a factor for future wars.

"Within this framework, this war conference, the so-called International Security Forum, plays the role of an international strategizing session where leaders in the field meet to discuss topics of interest to the empire and possible courses of action. For example, Bolivia has just experienced a coup d'état. Plans to deal with countries which have been a thorn in the side of the empire for many years were discussed here in previous conferences. So was the South China Sea, Venezuela, Libya, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and so on.

"No Harbour For War salutes you for coming out today -- let us march on, unite in action with others and build the anti-war movement."

Actions to oppose the HISF were also held in Ontario.

In Toronto on November 23, a picket was held out front of the headquarters of the NATO Association of Canada, an organization whose purpose is to impose NATO's warmongering agenda on the Parliament and the general public. The event was organized by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and took place at the same time as No Harbour for War held its annual protest against the HISF in Halifax.

The picket in Toronto attracted the attention of many people who stopped to express support for the action or to find out more about the U.S./NATO-sponsored HISF and Canada's involvement.

Philip Fernandez, speaking on behalf of CPC(M-L), noted that HISF is an instrument of war and aggression in the service of NATO and U.S. imperialism, which this year is focused on containment of China. He added that in the next year the U.S., NATO, Canada and others intend to create an aggressive strategy to challenge China under the pretext of defending so-called freedom and democracy. He said that Canadians want peaceful relations with all nations and peoples and will oppose these war plans.

The picket received a warm message of greetings from No Harbour for War, which was read by Tony Seed, one of its founders.

In concluding the picket, the participants expressed their determination to step up their work in the new year to oppose NATO and the Anglo-American imperialists and warmongers, to oppose Canada's interfering role in the affairs of other nations to foster regime change, and to organize to make Canada a Zone for Peace.

Also on November 23, the Windsor Peace Coalition used the occasion of its weekly picket to draw attention to the Halifax war conference, with signs calling for NATO to be dismantled.


Windsor, November 23, 2019.

(Photos: TML, R. Devet, Windsor Peace Coalition)

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China in the Crosshairs of
Halifax War Conference

On November 22, the opening day of the 11th annual Halifax International Security Forum (HISF), "a new year-long initiative focused on China" was announced by HISF President Peter Van Praagh via press release.

The HISF announcement came two days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out in Brussels, following a NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting, saying that NATO's operations are expanding into Asia. Pompeo stated that "our alliance must address the current and potential long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party." NATO countries cannot ignore the "fundamental differences and beliefs" between themselves and the ruling party in Beijing, Pompeo said.

In the HISF press release, Van Praagh declared, "It's no longer a secret that Xi Jinping's China is working hard to make the world safe for authoritarianism. It is time for a comprehensive China strategy for the United States, Canada and their allies -- one that makes the world safe for democracy.

"Over the next 12 months, Halifax will consult with subject experts and thought leaders to get their input on what can be done to confront this growing threat to our freedom."

The HISF's strategy on China will be released at the 2020 Halifax International Security Forum, which will be held two weeks after the U.S. Presidential election. Thus, the U.S.-based HISF has given itself the right to design a strategy for Canada and the "allies."

The rivalry with China over security is posed as a military conflict to be escalated by the NATO bloc. This includes sanctions, a form of war. This is unacceptable. All political and ideological conflicts must be resolved peaceably.

The major theme of this year's HISF was to camouflage the Might Makes Right doctrine of NATO and the striving of the U.S. empire for economic domination with a phony face of human rights and cyber security. Within this, China was already being targeted. A session on November 24 was titled "Huawei or Our Way." However, contradictions exist within the NATO block, as NATO member Germany, for example, does not agree that the blockade of Huawei Technologies is "our way."

HISF Participants Claiming to Represent the Asia-Pacific

Below are the HISF participants who came from Asia, brought to the war conference with all expenses paid by Canadian tax dollars. At the head of the list is the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. This list does not include different participating think tanks specializing on Asia, which are itemized in a distinct U.S. category.

U.S. Military

Philip Davidson, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; Richard Berry, Special Assistant, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is based in Hawaii. It is a unified combatant command of the U.S. Armed Forces responsible for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It dates from the period when the U.S. possessed a "one ocean" navy -- the conquest of Hawaii and the Philippines and continuous aggression against China, e.g., the Boxer Rebellion -- and is the oldest and largest of the unified combatant commands. Formerly known as U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), and renamed on May 30, 2018, it conducts military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles (260,000,000 km2), or roughly 52 per cent of the Earth's surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. and Canada to the west coast of India, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

The Commander reports to the U.S. President through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by Service component and subordinate unified commands, including U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Forces Korea, Special Operations Command Korea, and Special Operations Command Pacific.

Japan

Yukinari Hirose, President, National Institute for Defense, Japan

Hideo Suzuki, Director General for International Affairs, Defense Policy Bureau, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Matake Kamiya, Professor, International Relations, National Defense Academy of Japan; Director and Distinguished Research Fellow, Japan Forum on International Relations

Masashi Nishihara, President, Research Institute for Peace and Security, Japan

Yoichi Kato, Senior Research Fellow, Asia Pacific Initiative, Japan

Hideshi Tokuchi, Visiting Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan

Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, International Peace and Security Department, Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Noboru Yamaguchi, Advisor, Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Korea

Byung Kee Kim and Seung-Joo Baek, Members of the National Assembly, The Daehanminguk Gukhoe, Republic of Korea

Jaeho Hwang, Director, Global Security Cooperation Center; Professor, Division of International Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Republic of Korea

China

Szu-chien Hsu, Director of the Board, Institute for National Defense and Security Research, Taiwan

Yeh-chung Lu, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy, National Cheng-chi University; Vice President, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy

J. Michael Cole, Senior Fellow, China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, Taiwan

Hong Kong

Emily Lau, Former Chairperson, Democratic Party; Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Democratic Party, Hong Kong

King-wa Fu, Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Figo Chan, vice-convenor, Civil Human Rights Front, Hong Kong; Sales Director at ESTEC Corp. Inc. since August 2011

Himalayas

Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress, China

Lobsang Sangay, President, Central Tibetan Administration, Tibet

Indonesia

Teuku Faizasyah, Adviser to the Indonesian Foreign Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia

Singapore

Keng Yong Ong, Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Philippines

Richard Javad Heydarian, Research Fellow, National Chengchi University; Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines

India

Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party; Director, India Foundation, India

Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Operations Distinguished International Fellow, U.S. Naval War College, India

Ruhee Neog, Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, India

Chaitanya Giri, Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies, Indian Council on Global Relations, Gateway House, India

Rita Manchanda, Research Consultant, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, India

Dhruva Jaishankar, Director, U.S. Initiative, Observer Research Foundation, India

Pakistan

Husain Haqqani, Director and Senior Fellow, South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute, Pakistan

Farahnaz Ispahani, Former Member of Parliament, Qaumi Assembly, Pakistan

Australia

Joseph Hockey, Ambassador of Australia to the United States

Michelle McGuinness, Director General Counter Proliferation & Terrorism, Defence Intelligence Organisation, Australia

Rachel Durbin, Director, Future Force Lifecycle Engineering, Navy Capability Division, Royal Australian Navy, Australia, HISF Peace With Women Fellow

New Zealand

Rose King, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, New Zealand Defence Force, HISF Peace With Women Fellow

Lisa Ferris, Director, Defence Legal Services, New Zealand Army, HISF Peace With Women Fellow

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U.S. Primes NATO to Confront Russia, China

The December 3-4 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in London resembles a family reunion after the acrimony over the issue of military spending by America's European allies.

The trend is up for defence spending across European Allies and Canada. Over $100 billion is expected to be added to the member states' defence budgets by end-2020.

More importantly, the trend at the NATO foreign ministers' meeting at Brussels on November 19-20, in the run-up to the London summit, showed that despite growing differences within the alliance, member states closed ranks around three priority items in the U.S. global agenda -- escalation of the aggressive policy toward Russia, militarization of space and countering China's rise.

NATO will follow Washington's lead to establish a space command by officially regarding space as "a new operational domain." According to NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, this decision "can allow NATO planners to make a request for allies to provide capabilities and services, such as satellite communications and data imagery."

Stoltenberg said, "Space is also essential to the alliance's deterrence and defence, including the ability to navigate, to gather intelligence, and to detect missile launches. Around 2,000 satellites orbit the Earth. And around half of them are owned by NATO countries."

Equally, Washington has been urging NATO to officially identify China's rise as a long-term challenge. According to media reports, the Brussels meeting acceded to the U.S. demand and decided to officially begin military surveillance of China.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hit out at China after the Brussels meeting: "Finally, our alliance must address the current and potential long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Seventy years ago, the founding nations of NATO came together for the cause of freedom and democracy. We cannot ignore the fundamental differences and beliefs in the -- between our countries and those of the Chinese Communist Party."

So far so good. However, it remains to be seen if Washington's grand design to draw NATO into its "Indo-Pacific strategy" (read containment of China) will gain traction. Clearly, the U.S. intends to have a say in the European allies' growing business and economic relations with China to delimit Chinese influence in Europe. The U.S. campaign to block 5G technology from China met with rebuff from several European countries.

On the other hand, the European project has unravelled and the Franco-German axis that was its anchor sheet has become shaky. The rift between Paris and Berlin works to Washington's advantage but, paradoxically, also hobbles the western alliance system.

The French President Emmanuel Macron annoyed Germany by his recent calls for better relations with Russia "to prevent the world from going up in a conflagration;" his brutally frank remarks about NATO being "brain dead" and the U.S. policy on Russia being "governmental, political and historical hysteria;" and his repeated emphasis on a European military policy independent of the U.S.

The congruence of interests between Berlin and Washington vis-à-vis Macron manifested itself in NATO's endorsement of the U.S.-led escalation against Russia and China, with France rather isolated. However, this congruence will be put to the test very soon at the summit meeting of the Normandy format over Ukraine, which France is hosting on December 9, following NATO's London summit. France is helping Russia to negotiate a deal with Ukraine.

The recent phone calls between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky underscored the growing interest in Moscow and Kiev at the leadership level to improve relations between the two countries.

In the final analysis, the Franco-German relations are of pivotal importance to not only Europe's strategic future but the western alliance system as such. If anyone was in doubt, the French veto in October means sudden death for the proposal on European Union accession of the Balkan state of North Macedonia, which NATO is inducting as its newest member. Berlin and Washington are livid, but a veto is a veto.

With NATO being set up by Washington for a confrontationist posture, Russia and China won't let their guard down. Addressing a meeting of the Russian Federation Security Council on November 22, Putin said, "There are many uncertainty factors; competition and rivalry are growing stronger and morphing into new forms. The leading countries are actively developing their offensive weapons, the so-called 'nuclear club' is receiving new members, as we all know. We are also seriously concerned about the NATO infrastructure approaching our borders, as well as the attempts to militarize outer space."

Putin stressed, "In these conditions, it is important to make adequate and accurate forecasts, analyze the possible changes in the global situation, and to use the forecasts and conclusions to develop our military potential."

The U.S.-led military build-up against Russia and China will be on display in two big exercises next year code-named "Defender 2020 in Europe" and "Defender 2020 in the Pacific."

Significantly, only four days before Putin made the above remarks, Chinese President Xi Jinping told him at a meeting in Brasilia on the sidelines of the BRICS summit that "the ongoing complex and profound changes in the current international situation with rising instability and uncertainty urge China and Russia to establish closer strategic coordination to jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations, oppose unilateralism, bullying and interference in other countries' affairs, safeguard the respective sovereignty and security, and create a fair and just international environment."

Putin responded by saying that "Russia and China have important consensus and common interests in maintaining global strategic security and stability. Under the current situation, the two sides should continue to maintain close strategic communication and firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty, security, and development rights."[1] 

The Russian response is also visible on the ground. The share of modern weapons and equipment in the Russian Army and Navy has reached an impressive level of 70 per cent. The first pilot batch of next-generation T-14 Armata tanks will arrive for the Russian troops in late 2019 -- early 2020.

On November 26, the Russian Defence Ministry stated that Moscow's breakthrough Avangard missile system with the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle will be deployed on combat duty with the Strategic Missile Force in December.

For the first time, the electronic warfare systems at Russia's military base in Tajikistan will be reinforced with the latest Pole-21 jamming station that can counter cruise missiles, drones and guided air bombs and precision weapon guidance systems. Moscow is guarding against the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan.

M.K. Bhadrakumar is a former Indian diplomat who writes mainly on Indian foreign policy and the affairs of the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

Note

1. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(Indian Punchline, November 27, 2019.)

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Tributes to Fidel Castro

Living Legacy of Comrade Fidel Castro
Commemorated by the Peoples of the World

November 25 marked the third anniversary of the death of Comrade Fidel Castro, historic leader of the Cuban Revolution and hero to the oppressed peoples of the world for spearheading Cuba's outstanding internationalism. His living legacy was commemorated by the Cuban people, joined by all the peace and justice-loving peoples of the world, with whom Cuba shares weal and woe.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel remarked via social media, "How does one remember Fidel? By assuming his legacy as one's own, confronting imperialism with courage and firmness, working and thinking for the people, fighting because a better world is possible."

Gerardo Hernández, Vice Rector at Cuba's Advanced Institute of International Relations and Hero of the Republic of Cuba, reiterated the call for global action through social media as part of the tributes to the revolutionary leader using the hashtags #YoSoyFidel, #PorSiempreFidel, #HastaSiempreComandante.

The Cuban Federation of University Students and the Union of Young Communists (UJC) hosted a political-cultural evening at the grand staircase of the University of Havana to remember their Commander-in-Chief, calling the event "Fidel Antimperialista." Thousands were in attendance, including President Díaz-Canel, Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés, Vice President of the Council of Ministers Roberto Morales, President of the Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions Ulises Guilarte, leaders of mass organizations and students, as well as Brazilian intellectual Frei Betto. The choice of venue was fitting, as the university holds a prominent place in Fidel's revolutionary life. These are also the steps where in 2016, after Fidel's death was announced, the youth maintained an honour guard until his burial at Santa Ifigenia cemetery.




Susely Morfa, First Secretary of the UJC's National Committee, addressed the gathering and spoke to the important role Cuban youth are playing as defenders of the nation-building project led by Fidel. She remarked on Fidel's influence on the current generations, his capacity as a military strategist, his conception of politics and the validity of his analysis of the conditions of the contemporary world. She affirmed that the younger generations are consciously taking up their role to defend Cuba's sovereignty under today's conditions.

Commemorations in Canada

In Canada, events to remember Fidel were held at the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa and the Cuban Consulate in Toronto. At both events, the documentary Fidel in the Memory of the People was screened, in which Cuban personalities recount their experiences with the leader of the Revolution.

The Ottawa event opened with remarks from Ambassador Josefina Vidal. She recalled the legacy of the Commander in Chief and spoke of his ties with Canada. She noted how Fidel specifically invited a CBC reporter to interview him while the rebels fought in the Sierra Maestra, and how he visited Canada the day after the victory of the Revolution. She said that 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Canada. This is an important relationship, and despite whatever difficulties have arisen, relations have never been broken, she said.

Educator Marcia Krawll spoke about how she, her husband Rongo Wetere and a group of Cuban pedagogues introduced the Cuban literacy method "Yes I Can" to New Zealand. The event also featured a photographic exhibit entitled "Comandante" featuring the work of Roberto Chile.

Present at the event were ambassadors and representatives from Vietnam, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Canada, as well as friends from the solidarity movement, Cuban residents and the embassy staff.


At the event held at the Cuban Consulate in Toronto, Consul General Tania López Larroque welcomed everyone and thanked them for joining "a modest tribute to the memory of a great man, from Cuba and the world."

She noted: "It would be impossible to summarize [Fidel's] life and legacy in a few words. Instead, we can just mention that the Revolution led by him fostered pride and dignity in the Cuban people. At the same time, his leadership grew beyond our island and became a beacon in favour of independence and progressive ideas. His anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist and internationalist spirit were standards in the movements and among progressive forces all over the world. Faithful defender of world solidarity, he dedicated important moments to share and thank friends like you, who have made the Cuban cause a battle of your own."

The Consul General added: "Three years ago, many people wondered what Cuba would be like without Fidel and we, the Cuban people have shown that Cuba is Fidel. Time goes on and as a good father, he left us everywhere signs of how to move forward on that path we did not imagine without him. We find at every step and before every obstacle, his teachings -- the days of more than 24 hours and his perennial development. With the humility of the greatest heroes, he told us that he did not want streets or monuments named after him. Therefore, we have to honour his life with our daily actions."

After her remarks, an excerpt was read from the poem "Canto a Fidel," which was written by Cuban poet Carilda Oliver in 1957. This was followed with the showing of the documentary.

Following the video, the Consul General and her staff invited those gathered to a reception where people had a chance to express their thoughts about the life and legacy of Fidel Castro.

(With files from TML correspondent, Prensa Latina, Cubadebate, Minrex. Photos: TML, Minrex, I. Francisco/Cubadebate)

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In the Heart of Latin American Unity


Chávez and Fidel joined forces, allowing hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans to gain access to health and education, to recover their vision and dignity.

Our America is living intense days, but there is no reason, or time, to be discouraged. The continent's peoples have opened the great avenues of their emancipation, and imperialism cannot close them. Bolívar, Martí, Sandino, pointed the way to unity. "How long will we remain in lethargy?" Fidel asked in 1959, during his visit to Caracas. "How long will we be defenceless pieces of a continent, which its liberator conceived as something more dignified, greater? How long will Latin Americans live in this miserly, ridiculous atmosphere? How long will we remain divided?"

Early in his formative years, in the 1940s, Fidel was involved in struggles for justice, the region's most pressing: the Independence of Puerto Rico and an end to the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, among others, and would witness, alongside the Colombian people, the events that today history remembers as the Bogotazo.

His visit to Venezuela, just a few months after the revolutionary triumph, would be portentous.

There he would say, with regard to the necessary unity of our peoples: "And who should be the proponents of this idea? Venezuelans, because Venezuelans launched it on the American continent, because Bolívar is Venezuela's son and Bolívar is the father of the idea, of the union of America's peoples."

But Fidel was not referring only to the internal unity of peoples, indispensable for the triumph of justice, but to the unity of nations on the continent, although he knew that there would be "seven-month" governments without faith in their land, ready to hand over the collective wealth and popular needs, in hopes of attaining dishonest personal rewards.

That is why, on many occasions, he sought to demonstrate the advantages of unity, based on respect for the diversity of socio-economic models and identities. "What is the fate, moreover, of the balkanized countries of our America? What place will they occupy in the 21st century? What place will be left for them, what will their role be if they don't join together, if they don't integrate?" he insisted in 1990. In the final years of this decade of surrender and discouragement, Fidel would re-launch Cuban medical internationalism (which was born in Algeria, in 1963), for the peoples of Central America and Haiti -- with no ideologically allied governments. In the wake of two devastating hurricanes, hundreds of health workers travelled to the most remote areas to provide assistance to destitute populations.

The Cuban people came face to face with their brothers and sisters on the continent, without intermediaries. Fidel always met with brigades before their departure, conversing with members as a father.

On November 25, 1998, he stated: "I want to emphasize this right now: our doctors will not become involved, in the least, in matters of internal politics. They will be absolutely respectful of the laws, traditions and customs of the countries where they work.

"Their mission is not to disseminate ideology [...] They are in Central America as doctors, as self-sacrificing bearers of human health, to work in the most difficult places and conditions, to save lives, preserve and restore health, uphold and honor the noble medical profession, nothing else."

That very year, a disciple of Bolivar would reach the Presidency of Venezuela. Two dreamers, two madmen, Fidel and Chávez, would meet, in an effort to promote unity. And ALBA was born, the most advanced project that has emerged on our continent, an agreement based on the people, on our infinite capacity for solidarity. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans gained access to health and education, recovered their vision and dignity.

Our America, a concept of Martí's that also includes the Caribbean, became greater, as we looked inward and came together to complement each other, in common projects. Imperialism is today attempting to dismantle these conquests, which it fears so much.

On the eve of the third anniversary of Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro's physical departure, it is worth remembering him as the man who dedicated his life to the defence of unity among our peoples and the nations of Latin America.

(Granma, November 25, 2019. Photo: J.L. González.)

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Unfolding Events in Latin America and the Caribbean

Resistance Grows to Neo-Liberal Wrecking,
State Terror and Imperialist-Inspired Coups


March held in Anzoátegui, Venezuela, November 15, 2019, in support of Evo Morales and against the coup in Bolivia.

The past two weeks have seen the people of Bolivia and Chile continue their courageous fights to affirm their rights in the face of the brutal repression unleashed against them by state forces. On November 21 they were joined by Colombians who staged a massive national strike in cities and towns across the country against the anti-social offensive of the neo-liberal, warmongering government of Iván Duque. They were also met with a violent response at the hands of the army and the militarized police, especially the hated riot squad. Large demonstrations have continued every day since then.

As the clash between the Old and New intensifies in the region, the youth and working people in particular are rising to the challenge and, in the process, winning over middle sections to join the cause of those who are fighting for their rights and the rights of all. This can be seen having an effect as all attempts by the foreign-backed oligarchs to wield exceptional measures and their monopoly on state power to terrorize the people's forces in hopes of making them submit are not working. The killings, injuries inflicted, arbitrary detentions, disappearances and persecution of all types have only served to increase the people's indignation and determination to keep resisting and pressing their demands until they secure justice.

Chile


Banner at November 16, 2019 demonstration in Santiago, Chile, reads "Chile Will Be the
Tomb of Neo-liberalism."

A general strike took place on November 26 and 27, the third since mass protests began six weeks ago. Workers from different sectors of the economy joined social movements and political forces organized as the Social Unity Roundtable in marching through Santiago and other cities and setting up roadblocks in some areas. It is reported that hundreds of thousands of workers participated, including those working in mining, on the docks and in the education and transportation sectors.

The Secretary General of the Unitary Workers' Central of Chile, Nolberto Díaz said the strike was called because the government, contrary to what it announced, had not engaged in dialogue with the social movements or met any of their demands. He added that if President Sebastián Piñera and the parliamentarians were incapable of providing a solution for what Chileans were demanding, they should step aside and call early elections.

Gabriela Flores, President of the National Federation of Municipal Health Officials said, "We workers are not going to sit with our arms folded, nor is the population. How is it possible that [Piñera's] advisors can be so blind and so deaf that they don't hear what the people are asking for and just push legislation to increase the repression?"

On November 26, a day in which the Interior Ministry reported that police arrested 915 people, Piñera introduced legislation to permit use of the military to "protect critical public infrastructure," widely interpreted to mean returning them to the streets without the need to declare a state of exception as he was required to do when he militarized the streets in anticipation of the first protest action on October 18. Thereafter, for nine straight days the armed forces operated alongside the police (carabineros), using deadly force, torture, rape and other extreme measures against the youth in particular, who the president portrays as an enemy that has to be defeated.

Over the past 10 days both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released damning reports documenting the brutality with which Chile's police and military have attacked protestors and others who simply happened to be in the vicinity of street actions, both during and after the lifting of the state of exception. In a statement released on November 21 Amnesty International wrote:

"'The intention of the Chilean security forces is clear: to injure demonstrators in order to discourage protest, even to the extent of using torture and sexual violence against protesters. Instead of taking measures to curb the very grave human rights crisis, the authorities, under the command of President Sebastián Piñera, have pursued a policy of punishment for over a month, adding yet more people to the staggering number of victims, which is continuing to rise to this day,' said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International."[1]

Then on November 26, Human Rights Watch issued its report documenting similar police abuses and violations of human rights as well as statistics provided by different Chilean authorities. It indicated that the Attorney General's office was investigating 26 deaths that occurred during the protests and cited a report of the Ministry of Health indicating that emergency medical services were provided to 11,564 persons injured between October 18 and November 22. Of these, 1,200 sustained grave injuries. It said the use of pellet guns aimed at people's faces was the main cause of the more than 220 eye injuries documented up to November 17, with 16 people having lost sight in one eye and 34 having severe eye injuries that could result in partial or total blindness. Since then there are reports of people having been blinded in both eyes and at least one case of a young person whose eyes were physically destroyed.

Human Rights Watch reported that police detained more than 15,000 people from October 18 to November 19, and "held" an additional 2,000 for violating the curfew imposed during the state of emergency. It said as of November 21 the National Human Rights Institute had filed 442 criminal complaints with prosecutors on behalf of victims for injuries, cruel treatment, torture, rape, killings, and attempted killings allegedly committed by security forces. It said there were hundreds more who reported being subjected to mistreatment and humiliation inside police stations. Separately, Reuters reported on November 26 that prosecutors said they were studying 2,670 complaints of abuse by security forces.

The conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch, widely considered to operate in tandem with the U.S. State Department, was only that Chile was in urgent need of "police reform," which no doubt allowed Piñera to breathe a sigh of relief as he already had his sacrificial lamb. The day before he met with Human Rights Watch regarding its recommendations, he fired his discredited Interior Minister and cousin Andrés Chadwick, who already bore political responsibility for the extrajudicial assassination by police over a year ago of Mapuche community leader Camillo Catrillanca, and more recently referred to protesters as "criminals." On November 27, Chile's House of Representatives voted to impeach Chadwick as well.

In spite of everything to which they are being subjected, Chileans have not been cowed and continue to come out into the streets in large numbers to fight for their just demands, including punishment of those responsible for the harm inflicted on so many citizens, reparations for those killed and injured, and for the convoking of a constituent assembly that empowers the people to write and approve a new constitution for the country to replace the one currently in force. The current constitution was imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship, enshrining the neo-liberal economic and social model they reject.

Bolivia

Mass demonstration in El Alto, Bolivia, November 16, 2019.

The week that ended November 23 was marked by a massacre in which at least 10, mainly young men, were shot and killed by state security forces who attacked a peaceful blockade at the Sekata gas plant in El Alto. Witnesses have said they believe many more were killed and their bodies simply disposed of by state forces to reduce the number of deaths reported. The gas plant blockade was set up as one of many on roads around the country that formed part of the nationwide resistance to the coup. It prevented fuel from leaving the plant to supply the nearby capital city, La Paz.

That week was also marked by large daily mobilizations around the country of outraged Bolivian working people and families demanding justice for those murdered in El Alto and a similar massacre perpetrated the week before against workers supporting Evo Morales in Cochabamba. That massacre took place just one day after the self-proclaimed "interim president" Jeanine Áñez issued a decree exempting members of the armed forces from criminal responsibility for actions carried out in the course of "re-establishing public order." Adding insult to injury, a large funeral procession in which grieving people were carrying the coffins of those killed in El Alto, was attacked and forcibly dispersed with tear gas.

Those bearing the brunt of the repression -- which has to date included over 30 documented killings, hundreds of injuries and over a thousand detentions and disappearances -- are Indigenous youth, campesinos and other working people whose organizations are the main base of support of the country's rightful president, Evo Morales. The dictatorship, calling itself an interim government, meanwhile has issued warrants for the arrest of Evo and other leading members of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) on invented charges of sedition, terrorism and the instigation of criminal acts. That is on top of the mayors and other local elected officials affiliated with MAS already forced out of office and/or detained during the coup. It is being described by people on the ground in Bolivia as a generalized witch hunt.

Media censorship is part of the mix. Two days after the El Alto massacre, on which it reported extensively, TeleSUR received notice from the state-owned telecommunications company Entel that its signal was being taken off the air effective immediately. RT en español has since been told by its private provider to expect the same as of December 2. Similar attacks on national and international media organizations and journalists are reported as being widespread, with Bolivians being accused of sedition if they dare to present the coup forces in a negative light.

For more than a week now negotiations have been taking place in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia on legislation proposed by the MAS majority to constitute new national and regional electoral tribunals and to call a general election. Agreement was reached and the Exceptional Temporary Electoral Law for the Realization of General Elections was promulgated on November 23. Currently the imposter president Áñez and the legislature are engaged in the process of naming (in her case) and electing (in theirs) new electoral authorities. They will have 120 days to call an election once the new national and regional tribunals are established and have drawn up a calendar for their work. Neither Evo Morales nor Álvaro García Linera are permitted to stand for re-election.

Complicating the ability of other MAS members to exercise their right to participate in the election, or politics generally, is the fact that passage of a companion law to guarantee the constitutional rights of all Bolivian citizens is being blocked by Áñez, who contemptuously refers to it as an "impunity law." The legislation would outlaw arbitrary detentions and political persecution, including those her coup government has been carrying out from day one, and which those behind her have no intention of stopping. One need only recall how effective "lawfare" was at keeping Lula out of the last presidential election in Brazil, and the fact the same is being attempted against former President Correa of Ecuador.

On November 26 the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces presented Áñez with its Great Military Merit award and conferred on her the rank of captain general for services rendered. For her part of the show, Áñez said she was grateful to the armed forces for not hesitating to join the coup and that their presence contributed to “pacifying” the country. She assured the commander that in spite of the temporary nature of her “mandate” it was her intention to restore to the military the role and prestige that has always characterized them and would work with friendly countries to bring back the highest level of training programs for them.  A day later it was announced that Bolivia had restored diplomatic relations with Israel.

Also on November 26, a national assembly of social movements in resistance to the coup d'état was held in Cochabamba at the headquarters of the coca growers’ federation, of which Evo is the president. There, a resolution was adopted which, among other things, reaffirmed participants' moral and material support to their brother Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia; reaffirmed the ongoing state of emergency and announced a temporary halt to their protest actions to see if the coup government honours its signed commitments and other agreements entered into with mobilized social sectors of the country; called on the legislative assembly and executive of the de facto government to immediately approve the law guaranteeing the exercise of basic civil, political and constitutional rights for elected political authorities and union leaders; demanded the immediate freeing of detainees and an end to all illegal persecution and detentions; and committed themselves to unity in the political and social struggle for social justice.

The vice-president of the host organization, the Six Federations of the Trópico de Cochabamba, said there was a whole strategy in place to make the MAS lose the next election. Given the difficult situation, he called on all sections of the party to prepare to fight the elections without wearing the movement down in protests and blockades. An emergency meeting of the MAS has been called for this weekend to discuss who will be its candidates.

Colombia


Bogotá, Colombia, November 21, 2019.

The huge demonstrations that have taken place daily in the capital city of Bogotá and other parts of Colombia since November 21 are said to have reached dimensions not seen in decades. What started out as an initiative mainly of the country's trade union centrals, students and pensioners to hold a one day national strike to demand an end to the neo-liberal paquetazo (package) of austerity and privatization measures, rampant corruption and unfulfilled commitments of the Duque government, soon took on wider dimensions, with tens of thousands continuing to take to the streets and banging on pots day and night. People are demanding an end to the criminalization of protest, that the military be removed from policing and that the hated riot squad be disbanded; that the government take action to end the impunity for the rampant killings of social leaders and former FARC guerrillas; and that it implement the peace agreement with the FARC and re-open negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN).


Teachers call for the riot squad to be disbanded, Bogotá, November 27, 2019. Banner reads: "We did not choose to be teachers to see our students die"

The straw that broke the camel's back regarding the riot squad was its killing of an 18-year-old student who was shot in the head with a projectile -- all of it captured on video. The killing has sparked outrage in the country. Dilan Cruz was due to graduate from high school on November 25 and had joined the protest to oppose the underfunding of public education after being denied a loan he applied for to be able to attend university. One of his friends told Colombian daily El Espectador that "'we were marching and the ESMAD threw stun grenades and tear gas canisters at us. Dilan went to the front to kick back a tear-gas canister, because it had landed next to old people, that's when he was shot at, they say it was a rubber bullet,' his friend added." Forensic reports later said it was a beanbag filled with lead pellets shot at close range. He was the fourth person to be killed by security forces during the protests. But the repression carries on. Duque, like his equally unpopular Chilean counterpart Piñera, hopes he can weather the storm by using force, buoyed by the pat on the back he got from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week who congratulated him over Twitter for his handling of the protests.

On November 28, those demonstrating in Bogotá were joined by members of the Indigenous Regional Council of the department of Cauca (CRIC). Members of their Indigenous Guard plan to converge on the capital city from different parts of Cauca in the coming days to add their voices to the demands being raised by others.


Ninth consecutive day of protests, Bogotá, November 29, 2019.

Hands Off Dominica!

The latest target of Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro appears to be the Caribbean island state of Dominica, where a general election is scheduled to take place December 6. Dominica's Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Francine Baron, informed a special meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS on November 19 that the opposition United Workers' Party, which obstructed attempts to discuss proposals for electoral reform earlier as requested, was at the last minute spreading lies about general unrest and lack of safety on the island. At the same time it is trying to incite violence itself to create the impression the country is in chaos and ungovernable and that conditions do not exist to hold the election. In an interview with teleSUR on November 27 Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit left little doubt that the foreign agents egging on the opposition were the U.S. and OAS. He said:

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

"They [the OAS] are targeting certain member states. Dominica is one such country that they're targeting and my government is one such government that they are targeting. So it is not about free and fair elections -- it is not about the electoral process. [The OAS] have waited for this opportunity to implement this strategy, so, it is something that has been in the making for three or four years," he stated.

Skerrit went on to say that he believes the main motivating factor behind the OAS crusade to delegitimize his government is to punish it for consistently voting against non-interference in the region, and more specifically, against OAS resolutions on Venezuela.

Minister Baron informed the OAS in her presentation that Dominica plans to invite CARICOM, the [British] Commonwealth, the UN and the Carter Center to observe its election and was open to including the OAS. But she asked it first to issue declarations condemning all use of violence in this and any election and calling for all parties to refrain from statements that could be construed as interfering in the sovereign affairs of countries. And in the case of member states that do not implement OAS recommendations, against deeming their elections not to be free and fair.

Baron said she was containing her outrage at the attempts to destabilize Dominica and the election just as it has been making a huge effort to overcome the terrible effects of Hurricane Maria and get the country back on its feet, acknowledging the assistance received from many of those in the room.

Addressing a rally of his supporters on November 23, Prime Minister Skerrit emphasized that Dominica was not for sale and nobody can tell it what to do, repeating several times, "Hands off Dominica!" He reminded Dominicans that there was a dangerous situation in the region with the imposition of an unelected "government" and coup attempt in Venezuela and a coup in Bolivia, both of which Almagro supported. He said the fight this time is not about himself winning re-election but standing up for the country against foreign interests that care nothing about the people but seek to take control of the country.

The just stand of patriotic Dominicans, as expressed by Prime Minister Skerrit and Minister Baron, has received the support of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP), which in its statement of November 21 expressed its members' "uneasiness in face of the statements by the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, who pretends to impose an Electoral Mission of the aforementioned Organization in Dominica, which constitutes not only an intolerable act of interference in Dominica's internal affairs, but also an unacceptable overreach in the exercise of his functions." The statement went on to refer to:

"The controversial performance of the most recent OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Bolivia, plagued by actions of doubtful political impartiality, which severely question its technical authority and openly discourages its intervention.

"[...] In that sense, the ALBA-TCP member countries warn and denounce before the international community, and in particular the Caribbean community, the application of the same format of violence and death used in Bolivia, against the Commonwealth of Dominica whose purposes and objectives seem to be aimed at forcing an unconstitutional change of the government of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit."

In its statement of support, CARICOM reminded that no member state has the obligation to invite the OAS to observe its elections. Other Caribbean leaders, including Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines also spoke out in support of the Dominican government's stand. Prime Minister Gonsalves added that the OAS and its Secretary General, Luis Almagro were enemies of the democratic and progressive forces of the continent.

Paraguayan Youth Prevent OAS Secretary General from Speaking

Earlier this month social, political and student organizations took the wind out of Luis Almagro’s sails by preventing him from speaking at Pacific University in Asunción where he was supposed to deliver an address on "Democracy and Development." As the vehicle carrying him approached the meeting venue people carrying signs and flags surrounded it and shouted that he was not welcome, that he was responsible for the coup in Bolivia and had blood on his hands. Almagro thought better of trying to proceed under the circumstances and left without getting out of the vehicle.

Note

1. The full report can be seen here.

(With files from BBC, El Universal, Nodal, teleSUR, WSWS, Prensa Latina, ABI. Photos: M. Teruggi, redfish stream, Fecode, teleSUR, PPC-PY, Frente Guasú)

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Unifor Letter to Canada's Foreign Minister
Re: Condemning the Military Coup and
Respecting Democracy in Bolivia

Dear Minister Champagne:

Unifor strongly condemns the military coup in Bolivia that saw the recent ousting of democratically elected President Evo Morales.

We are dismayed that the Canadian Federal government has chosen to support the interim leadership of Jeanine Áñez Chávez -- a representative from a party that received only four per cent of the vote in the latest October elections, and whose support is derived largely from the backing of the Bolivian police and military. We are also troubled given Áñez's hostile and discriminatory anti-Indigenous remarks, especially in a country where more than half the population is Indigenous.

As Bolivia's first Indigenous President, Morales made significant progressive economic and social policy changes that have resulted in strong economic growth, drastic reduction in rates of poverty and overall improvements of human rights. However, we have seen how actions of independent states with socialist policies often provoke the ire of corporate interests and Western countries such as the United States, which has a long history of Latin and South American government intervention and ousting democratically elected leaders by way of violent military coups.

We are now once again witnessing waves of violence and atrocities rock Bolivia, along with deaths of protesters who are resisting the usurpation of their democratic process. With Áñez recently making changes to allow security forces to be protected from prosecution in order to quell protests, we will only see a further escalation of state violence and repression. By not condemning these actions as a coup -- actions contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy -- Canada is complicit in these human rights violations.

In an effort to understand the current and evolving situation, Unifor dispatched its Director of International Department, Mohamad Alsadi, to Mexico City in order to meet with President Morales directly. This meeting helped to solidify our support and solidarity with the people of Bolivia.

Unifor urges the Federal government to publicly condemn the coup and reject Áñez's illegitimate interim position. We demand the safe passage and return of Evo Morales to his home country, and to let Bolivians exercise their own democratic right in choosing a government through a new round of elections -- elections Morales himself initially agreed to before being forced into exile. We also encourage you to visit and dialogue with Evo Morales directly, as we have done, to receive a firsthand account on what has transpired in Bolivia and areas in which Canada can provide support. Canada cannot proclaim to support democracy while also enabling a repressive military dictatorship to unfold and go unchallenged. We trust you and your government will reverse course and stand by the people of Bolivia.

Please also see these links to statements from other like-minded organizations:

https://www.ituc-csi.org/Bolivia-crisis-must-be-settled-at-the-ballot-box

http://www.industriall-union.org/industriall-condemns-the-coup-in-bolivia

https://www.ueunion.org/statement/2019/ue-condemns-coup-in-bolivia

Sincerely,

Jerry Dias
National President

cc: The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

(November 25, 2019)

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Thank You Message for Contributions
to the Lula Livre Campaign

Dear comrades,

On behalf of the Workers' Party, we thank you for all the support you have given us over the past 18 months as we fought for the freedom of our great friend and leader, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva.

Your friendship and solidarity throughout this period have helped us to continue the victorious campaign: Lula is free! And his return represents the strengthening of our daily struggles for a better Brazil, for a better world.

Our next challenge is to prove Lula's innocence in all the legal proceedings against him. After all, he remains a victim of lawfare and is under constant threat because these legal actions have not yet been overturned and his political rights have not been restored.

We are showing Brazil and the world that the only reason for these proceedings is to block the struggle for a more just and democratic country.

Justice for Lula! Lula is innocent!

Gleisi Hoffmann
National President

Monica Valente
Secretary for International Relations

(November 13, 2019. Translated from original Portuguese by TML.)

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Cuban Ministry of Public Health Withdraws
Collaborators from Ecuador, While Reiterating Willingness to Continue Supporting the Country

The government of the Republic of Ecuador has reported the decision to terminate, and not renew, six collaboration agreements signed with the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

Cuban medical cooperation in Ecuador began in 1992. In June of 2006, a cooperation agreement was signed for the launching of "Operation Miracle" with the participation of 153 professional collaborators. Through this program 168,543 surgeries were performed, including 4,609 to remove cataracts, and 118,575 for pterygium. In January 2009, on the occasion of an official visit by then President Rafael Correa Delgado, the Framework Agreement on Cooperation in Health between the two governments was signed. On June 11 of the same year, the Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreement was signed by then Ecuadorian Vice President Lenín Moreno Garcés and the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, for the realization of a psycho-social, pedagogical, and clinical genetic study of people with disabilities, known as the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission. Through this program, 825,576 persons were assisted, of whom 35,257 were provided neurophysiology or otolaryngology consultations. Some 21,062 patients underwent clinical genetics studies.

In 2013, a contract was signed with the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) through which 293 Cuban doctors of different specialties provided medical assistance in 52 of this Institute's units.

Cuba has provided assistance in emergencies and disasters in Ecuador: in 1986 due to heavy rains, in 2001 due to a dengue epidemic, and to assist victims of the earthquake that occurred on April 16, 2016.

Since the beginning of Cuba's medical collaboration in this country to date, a total of 3,565 health professionals have provided their services in Ecuador. Some 6,749,666 medical consultations have been provided, 212,360 surgical interventions, 3,548 births assisted, and 100,084 vaccinations administered.

At all times, Cuban health professionals have faithfully performed the role entrusted to them by Ecuador's health system, in strict compliance with the signed agreements' stipulations.

Recent campaigns by the U.S. government to discredit and sabotage the international cooperation that Cuba provides in the field of health in dozens of countries, cannot obscure this data, that demonstrates the altruistic spirit, effort, and solidarity of Cuban collaborators.

Currently, the medical brigade in Ecuador includes 382 professionals, present in 23 of the country's 24 provinces.

Cuban collaborators will return to the homeland, having made a meritorious contribution to the noble effort to ensure medical attention to the Ecuadorian people, in accordance with the principle of universal health coverage promoted by the World Health Organization. Cuban professionals provided access to specialties which were previously of limited availability within the Ecuadorian health system, as more than 400,000 professionals in this sector have voluntarily done in 164 countries, since 1963.

The Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba reaffirms the desire to continue providing collaboration for this sister people, which ceases at this time as a result of a decision by the Ecuadorian government.

The peoples of Our America and the rest of the world know they can always count on the humanist and solidarity vocation of Cuban professionals.

(Granma, November 15, 2019)

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No One Can Erase Cuba's Loving Contribution
in Bolivia and Ecuador 

These past few days, doctors lending their services in Bolivia and Ecuador have returned to the homeland, leaving behind their patients, families with few resources, but very grateful to those who treated their ailments, living as neighbours in their communities.

"We have lived days of deep sadness, of harassment, of physical mistreatment," said Dr. Nirza García Valdés, a General Surgery specialist, who worked in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, referring to the period immediately following the coup against President Evo Morales Ayma.

"But even in the moments of greatest danger, we did not weaken. We stayed in our positions until the last moment, supporting the health of the sister Bolivian people until it was no longer possible to continue," said García, a native of Bayamo, in the province of Granma.

"We return victorious. We do not feel defeated. We come with our heads held high, with our mission accomplished, because no coup, nor any regime that may take charge of Bolivia's fate, can erase our impact.

"The lives saved are there, the grateful patients are there, and the results achieved by Cuba and its international collaboration will always be there."

Alfredo Escobar Bernal, gastroenterologist, thanked the Cuban government for not abandoning brigade members to suffer the consequences of the coup in Bolivia on their own.

When the coup was consummated, he explained, he was in Santa Cruz and lived moments of uncertainty, along with other colleagues, given the tension that eventually triggered very serious confrontations among Bolivians.

"There were situations in which we felt the support of people who recognize the value of Cuban collaboration, but at other times, supporters of the coup took advantage of our presence to defame Evo Morales and his government.

"I had no doubt that, at all times, we were protected by our country's authorities through diplomatic channels, and by personnel responsible for the medical mission. They were always aware of our safety."

As of November 18, 431 health professionals had returned to the country from Bolivia, with the arrival of another group expected shortly. Also returning are members of the Cuban medical brigade in Ecuador, where the government cancelled the bilateral agreement in this sector.

Earlier this month, before the UN General Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla clarified that our country's health collaboration programs, which are facing attacks by the current United States administration, are serving "the neediest communities, based on the solidarity and completely voluntary disposition of hundreds of thousands of Cuban professionals; conducted as established in cooperation agreements signed with the governments of these countries; and have enjoyed, for many years, the recognition of the international community, of this organization itself and the World Health Organization, as an outstanding example of South-South Cooperation."

(Granma, November 19, 2019. Photo: D. Álvarez)

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Actions in Canada

Solidarity Activists Hold Discussion with
Cuban Ambassador in Ottawa

Ottawa-Cuba Connections held its annual general meeting on November 20, where it reviewed the various events it has organized in the past year to express friendship with Cuba. An ongoing activity is the pickets held in front of the U.S. embassy on the 17th of every month to express support for Cuba and to denounce the inhuman blockade by the U.S. against the Cuban people.

In this respect, Ottawa-Cuba Connections was honoured to have the Cuban Ambassador to Canada, H.E. Josefina Vidal, come to speak at its general meeting. Ambassador Vidal addressed what was on everyone's mind, that is, the new difficult situation the Cuban people face with the abrupt end of the normalization of the relations initiated by the Obama administration, the destruction of the progress that had been made and the announcement on an almost weekly basis of measures, unprecedented both in scope and aggressiveness, that make life harder for the Cuban people. She explained that the U.S. was attacking sectors of the economy which are important for Cuba in terms of generating revenue, for example, the tourism industry. This involves the cancelling of U.S.-based cruises, the banning of licences that permit people-to-people activities, and the cancellation of direct flights from the U.S. to nine destinations in Cuba, with the exception of Havana. 

The recent activation of Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act is particularly aimed at stopping companies from doing business with more than 220 Cuban entities, many of them hotels. In September, the U.S. blocked oil shipments to Cuba, leaving it with only 60 per cent of the fuel it needed for the economy. The Cuban government took measures to overcome this problem and minimize its impact on the population. It was overcome, in part, by reducing urban and inter-provincial transportation for a period of time. Normal conditions are being re-established.

The ambassador explained that the U.S. is resorting to tactics adopted in 1962 by the Kennedy administration when the blockade began, with the aim of making life so unbearable for the people that they would revolt and bring about regime change. She said that Cuba has always been its own model and has learned to deal with the most difficult situations, such as the Special Period in the 1990s when 75 per cent of Cuba's trade collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union. She said the U.S. cannot accept countries which are sovereign and independent, but the resilience of the Cuban people is such that the attempts of the U.S. will not succeed and the Cuban people will prevail.

When asked what countries can do beyond the massive UN resolutions whereby the vast majority of the world's countries reject the blockade as being an attack on the human rights of the Cuban people, she said that countries must stand up to the U.S. and not accept the extraterritoriality of their laws. She gave the examples of the Caribbean nations of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, which in 1972, not long after achieving their independence, established diplomatic relations with Cuba, a courageous break from U.S. dictate. Even though these countries are small, this did not stop them from taking this important stand, she pointed out.

The ambassador also said that Canada and Mexico have stated that they will defend their interests in Cuba against Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act. She also pointed out that dialogue with the Canadian government had resolved certain problems and has led, for example, to the partial reopening of the Canadian visa service in Havana. In this respect, she said that as the year was coming to an end, the situation with the Canadian government in diplomatic terms was good.

The discussion also touched upon the situation in Latin America and South America and the struggles of the people and how events -- such as the struggle of the people against the coup in Bolivia and that of the Chilean people -- are important to Cuba, as the struggle is one and the same.

(Photos: TML, Cuban Embassy)

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Rising with Haiti! Demonstrators Demand
Justice, Dignity and Reparations

On Sunday, November 17, nearly 200 people from the Haitian community in Montreal and their many allies walked the streets of Montreal to denounce the interference of foreign powers, including Canada, in Haiti and their support for the corrupt government of Jovenel Moïse. The action, organized by Solidarité Québec-Haiti, was also aimed at highlighting the heroic struggle of the Haitian people for their right to be. The slogans Justice! Dignity! Reparations! resonated throughout the march.

Many interventions were made both at the beginning and at the conclusion of the march, which ended outside of the Haitian consulate. All spoke with one voice to denounce foreign interference in Haiti. The Haitian people are not miserable and enslaved, they pointed out. They are a proud and dignified people and are very capable of leading their country. What prevents them from doing that are corrupt governments imposed by neo-liberal powers. Repeatedly, the slogans and interventions denounced the so-called saviours with their self-serving aid aimed at imposing the enslavement of the Haitian people. "We are here to defend the just cause of the Haitian people. There are countries -- such as the United States, Canada and France -- who say that we have chosen the government in place. That's not true. We did not choose it. The Haitian people have been in the street for over two months. Over 300 people have died. Schools are closed. And here Canada continues to say that we elected them. They are false friends and we do not need friends like that," one of the speakers said.

Another speaker said, "We want to condemn the Canadian government's dirty role in Haiti and its hypocrisy. It financed the election in Haiti with its millions of dollars, totally interfering in the affairs of a country, while during the federal election here, it repeatedly warned about the dangers of foreign interference in the election. In 2004, it was part of the coup, along with the United States and France, against President Aristide. Foreign policy does not belong to us and does not represent us. It's up to us to decide what kind of relationship we want with other countries. We have a responsibility to respond to Canadian foreign policy at a time when the government is interfering against Bolivia, Venezuela and others."

Tribute was paid to the youth, women and workers who have died since the beginning of the uprisings in Haiti, as well as to all those who died under Duvalierism. "Today is the third edition of Duvalierism. We have a responsibility. We cannot remain silent because some people are taking advantage of that silence. We must tell those who represent us here in Canada that when you have influence, show that you are Haitians," said Frantz André, one of the organizers of Solidarité Québec-Haiti. He greeted the Haitian youth of today who are fighting and providing hope.

Several spoke to salute the battle of Vertières, on November 18, 1803, whose 216th anniversary was celebrated the day after the march. That battle, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines to free the Haitian people from slavery and put an end to the colonial power meant the rout and the defeat of the Napoleonic army. It signified the elimination of slavery and led to the proclamation of Haitian independence and the formation of the first black republic in the world, the Republic of Haiti on January 1, 1804. Today, that battle continues.

Another speaker asked: "Are the Haitian people entitled to health, education and dignity? Yes. This is what we are demanding of those imperialist powers who support the government in Haiti and deny us all forms of humanity, who deny the right to be of human beings, just like all the peoples of the world. As long as the [Haitian] people are deprived of their humanity and their dignity, we must continue the fight. Why is Jovenel Moïse still in Haiti? It's because he supported and continues to support those foreign powers who do not want change in Haiti. The Haitian people have the right to dignity, the right to be masters in their own homes and the right to sovereignty. We have the right to demand it and to demand that foreign governments -- such as the Canadian, French, and American governments -- not interfere in the internal affairs of our country. They interfere and after that they say that we are responsible for the situation in Haiti; that it is we, the Haitian people, who are corrupt. That's what's called "development aid" and behind that whole masquerade are the hands pulling the strings of misery in Haiti. The Haitian people are not responsible. We must continue the fight to the end. Long live the struggle of the Haitian people!"

An activist invited all the protesters to a viewing of Elaine Brière's "Haiti betrayed" on November 24 at 6:00 pm at La Maison d'Haïti. The film deals with the role of the Canadian government in Haiti. It's an opportunity to learn about and continue to discuss and exchange on Canadian foreign policy, which must take a new direction.



(Photos: TML)

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Coming Events

Demonstration for Social Justice in Latin America



Toronto
Sunday, December 1 -- 5:30 pm
Trinity Bellwoods Park (in front of the statue of Simon Bolivar)

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Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza

Montreal
Sunday, December 1 -- 1:00 pm
Metro Guy-Concordia

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Discussion with Cuban Ambassador to Canada on Current Situation in Cuba

Outaouais
Wednesday, December 4 -- 12:00 pm
CEGEP de l'Outaouais, 333 Boul. Cite des jeunes
Co-organized by the Cegep de l'Outaouais Student Association
and the Outaouais-Cuba Friendship Association

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