Cuba

More than 200 prominent individuals from the arts and showbusiness in the United States have signed a letter addressed to President George Bush expressing their support for cultural relations between the US and Cuba.
Over the last few weeks, thousands of intellectuals from different political, philosophical, and religious backgrounds from around the world have mobilised to speak up in defence of Cuba.
On October 24, US President George Bush — a firm defender of freedom and human rights, as any Iraqi tortured by US forces at Abu Ghraib could testify — denounced Cuba as a “tropical gulag”. Bush said that Cuba is characterised by “terror and trauma”. The president also reaffirmed his support for the punishing US economic embargo against Cuba, which has lasted almost half a century and cost the Cuban people some US$89 billion.
On June 18, Vilma Espin Guillois, legendary guerrilla fighter and leader of the Federation of Cuban Women, passed Away in Havana. An official note issued by the Cuban government is abridged below.
The following are excerpts from a statement made by Cuban President Fidel Castro on June 20, the day after revolutionary leader Vilma Espin Guillois died in Havana.
On May 21, Cuban President Fidel Castro condemned the British Navy’s purchase of a new nuclear attack submarine, saying it illustrates “the sophisticated weaponry being used to maintain the unsustainable order developed by the imperial system of the United States”. According to British military officials, the HMS Astute — which will be launched on June 8 — and two further submarines to be purchased, will each cost US$7.2 billion. “The most surprising thing is that with that sum, 75,000 doctors could be trained to attend to 150 million people”, Castro noted.
On May 7, New Matilda published an article by Antony Loewenstein, titled “Cuba: paradise left”, in which he reports on his impressions of Cuba. Loewenstein describes Cuba as a “police state” with “no freedom of speech”. He takes issue with Australian academic, Tim Anderson whom, he wrote, “ought to know better” for arguing that Cuba has more democracy than the US, (see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5609). Below is Anderson’s reply to Loewenstein’s article.
In his first two articles in the Cuban Communist Party’s newspaper, Granma, since becoming ill last year, President Fidel Castro lashed out at the recently signed ethanol deal between Brazil and the US. In an April 3 article he described it as “the internationalisation of genocide”.
In recent years “making poverty history” has become the fashionable cause for ageing rock stars such as Bono and Sir Bob Geldof. As global poverty means that each year 9 million children die of preventable diseases, the need to achieve this goal is undeniable.
On November 9, for the 15th year in a row, the UN General Assembly called on the US government to lift its 44-year-old “economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.”. The non-binding resolution was approved by a record 183 votes, with only four countries (the US, Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau) voting against, and only one (Micronesia) abstaining.
The stout, broadly smiling chief editor ushered me into his small office. From the wall, the face of forbidden fruit — stern theoretician, military leader and organiser of the Red Army, “sorcerer” Leon Trotsky — stared defiantly down at me.

I spent my first days in Havana walking down the broad, leafy streets of el Vedado, going past stores with long queues but little on the shelves.

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