Cuba, The US And British Mainstream Media, And Obama's Visit To Havana.

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage explores Cuba.

If anyone needs a demonstration of just how godawful the mainstream media is they need only read or watch it's coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Cuba. The Guardian's headline says it all:
 'Obama appeals for economic revolution in Cuba with call to embrace free market.' 

As if to push this home the sub header is:
 President espouses power of capitalism to transform island nation from within and promises to bury the last remnant of the cold war in the Americas’
The paper's correspondents, wilfully oblivious to the decades of sanctions which the Cuban people have fought tenaciously to overcome, reported Obama urged Cuba to embrace the free market in a landmark speech in Havana that championed economic liberty rather than political reform as the key to unleashing the potential of its people. Nevermind an unregulated free market has proven disastrous for millions of people within Central America and the Caribbean archipelago.

Cuba is only 90 miles from the US coast but as far as Barack Obama is concerned it might as well have been another planet. If any nations has harnessed in a positive way the full potential of its people it's Cuba. Since the victory of the revolution in 1959 the Cuban people have been an inspiration to the whole world. After the United States government first placed an embargo on Cuba on October 19, 1960, for having the temerity to break the armlock of US corporations and the Mafia on the island's economic and political life, they have resisted their bullying northern neighbour with tenacious fortitude.

When the USA, then one of two super powers organised an invasion in 1961, the turncoats and traitors within the invading force were defeated within three days by the Cuban people and it's Revolutionary Armed Forces. During those three days tens of thousands of ordinary Cubans raced to the Bay of Pigs to help defeat the CIA proxies.

For Obama to condemn Cuba's record on human rights is hypocrisy writ large, when in the USA of today young black men are regularly gunned down on the streets by the police without sanction, when on Obama's watch Guantanamo Bay still holds holds 93 detainees not one of whom has ever been before a court of law.

Since the beginning of the 20th century the US armed forces have been involved in 34 military conflict overseas,  in almost all of these wars the US was defending the status quo. Whereas members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces have fought alongside the MPLA and ANC troops when apartheid South Africa invaded Angola with CIA support. In Nicaragua the US backed the Contras led by senior members of the Somoza dictatorship which Cuba's allies the Sandinistas overthrew. Whereas the US has a long history of supporting reaction Cuba has always supported national liberation.

Its programme of Cuban medical internationalism highlights the failure of much of the aid the western governments give to the third world. By 2007, Cuba with a population of  approximately 11 million people had 42,000 workers in international collaborations in 103 different countries, of whom more than 30,000 are health personnel, including no fewer than 19,000 doctors. According to Wikipedia Cuba provides more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined. These Cuban missions have had a substantial positive impact on the local population they served. It's not an exaggeration to claim medical workers are Cuba's most important export commodity to the world.

This has all been achieved despite the vindictive US embargo, if and when the embargo is lifted Cuba will choose its own road of economic and cultural development. If there is one certainty - Cuba will not  be lectured by the Empire nor its toads in the mainstream media.

For me Kevin Bannon in a letter to the Guardian best expressed our outrage at the very thought of such hypocrisy:

Cuba’s dismal human rights record … Cuba’s repressive internal policies … the president will meet dissidents today” (Guardian Editorial, 22 March). This is an outrageously unfair slant – and without any comparative basis. Cuba’s Central American neighbours enjoy favourable political and economic relations with the US despite their devastating murder rates and gangster economies. Nor is this anything to do with human rights or democratic values, as US relations with Egypt, China and Saudi Arabia make crystal clear. Cuban education and public health policies put those of the US to shame and even the US Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council grudgingly reports that “violent crime is not common” in Cuba. Nevertheless, the blatantly illegal US trade embargo is still in place – and so is Guantánamo Bay. No – it is not yet “Havana’s turn.
Trade Union official Bert Schouwenburg was equally scaving
Labelling anti-government demonstrators in Cuba as “pro-democracy protesters” implies that there is an absence of democracy on the island because the republic’s constitutional arrangements do not conform to Westminster-style parliaments that have evolved to preserve the hegemony of capital. If an accepted definition of democracy includes the practice or spirit of classless social equality, then Cuba – with its universal access to housing, education and healthcare – is a far more democratic society than many others. Contrary to popular misconception, there is a sophisticated electoral process in Cuba though it is fair to say that, like Westminster, it is designed to prevent radical change. That the authorities are oversensitive to unrepresentative anti-government demonstrations and display a level of paranoia about what they would consider to be subversive activities is hardly surprising given the level of CIA-sponsored attacks since the 1959 revolution transformed Cuba from unofficial US colony to sovereign state. In the period up to 1997 there were 5,780 terrorist actions costing 3,478 lives and leaving 2,099 permanently disabled, as well as the introduction of dengue fever in 1981 which affected more than 340,000 people and killed 158 of them. In this context, President Obama has no moral authority to “talk candidly about human rights”, especially as his government continues to maintain a concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay, which successive US regimes have illegally occupied since 1903.
Viva Cuba libre!

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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