SMH columnist slanders Cuba, red-baits Turnbull

March 2, 2007

The following letter was sent by Cuban consul-general Nelida Hernandez Carmona in response to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine's claim that, "You know Australia has lost its mind on the green front when the conservative Howard government starts emulating the communist dictatorship of Cuba". Devine (the SMH's resident right-wing ranter) argued that while "federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan, foisted without warning on the nation last week, to ban incandescent light bulbs from 2010 and force us to replace them with more energy-efficient fluorescent ones" was presented by the government "as a world first, the Associated Press soon pointed out that Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro launched a similar program two years ago... His protege, Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez, soon followed suit. You might say Turnbull, Castro and Chavez are the three amigos of the climate change nanny state."

With astonishment, we have read the article published in the February 25 Sydney Morning Herald titled "The three amigos of climate change", written by Miranda Devine, in which she refers, in an offensive and derogatory way, to my country and particularly to the president of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

That is the reason why I consider that it is necessary for your readers to know what Devine doesn't know, or she has not wanted to know, about Cuba:

First, in our country there is an effective constitution and electoral law that consecrates the right for all citizens to the universal/secret vote and in accordance with them our commander-in-chief was elected by 98% of the population as president of the republic. It is the will of Cuba's people that supports him and considers him their leader and guide.

It would have been desirable for Devine to have checked the web-page of the Cuban parliament to be better informed before throwing her poisonous darts against a country and its people that has spent the last 48 years suffering and fighting the most ferocious, cruel and lingering blockade that no other country has known and that has been enforced by the most powerful country on Earth — the United States. This is a blockade that has been condemned for the last 15 years by the United Nations General Assembly by a majority that last year reached 183 of the 192 members of the UN.

This blockade is, more than anything, an economic war against our country, it qualifies as a genocide act and it constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and the United Nations charter.

Nevertheless, in Cuba all the population is guaranteed free access to the health and education systems, alimentation services and is also guaranteed all the individual freedoms, among other rights, consecrated in the charter.

Secondly, in spite of all the above, our concern for human wellbeing doesn't only reach our own people, but also others and that is the reason why for several years we have had a campaign for the conservation of the environment and to make our positive contribution to the world.

One of those initiatives has been the exchange of incandescent for fluorescent bulbs, which, by the way, is carried out free of charge for the whole population, among other measures. This has been done with the support of the social workers, who are youngsters with the appropriate training and the necessary sensibility for the work that they carry out, helping in the improvement of living conditions for all, without distinction or discrimination of any type.

Lastly, I would like to add, that at this point in time 31,000 Cuban health workers are providing services in 69 countries, in disinterested collaboration and solidarity that is only possible when those who give the service are convinced that they are doing a noble task. This can only be the fruit of a revolution and of the teachings of our commander-in-chief, Fidel Castro.

I finish quoting a sentence from our national hero, Jose Marti: "With all and for the good of all." That is our currency.

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