Sunday, September 10, 2006

Thoughts on the gusano press-shills

"At least 10 Florida-based journalists were paid by the US government to contribute to anti-Cuba propaganda broadcasts", the Miami Herald says.

"Three writers have been sacked by the Miami Herald newspaper group for an alleged conflict of interest."

-BBC, September 8, 2006

Wait a minute. Ten were shills for the Miami Gusano-Mafia, taking money from the gusanos' US government patrons, and... THREE got fired?! Well, as my friend Ajamu Dillahunt has said more than once, "Who’s press is it?" Think for a moment, and we know. Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Shell, Monsanto. Freeport-McMoran, Coca-Cola, Disney, et alia.

But that isn't what I feel compelled to write about right this minute. I want to accentuate the positive, for a change, because that is what the Imperium fears most, after all. Cuba hasn’t been in their gunsights for decades because of where Cuba has erred, or been driven into circumstances and decisions that failed to match the coffee-house idealism of Librul Amerika. Cuba’s sins are its accomplishments, which are becoming more dangerous to all-of-the-above every day. The reason I want to emphasize accomplishments is because our so called journalists hardly ever do, and then only with some ritual denunciation about "repression" in Cuba from writers who seem to have missed the story of over 2 million prison inmates here in "the Land of the Free."

Funny thing... among those ritual denunciations are frequent throw-away sarcasms about Castro and the Cuban government, suggesting that their claims about hostile US actions are figments of paranoid imaginations. One of those accusations, that US-based journalists took money from the government to write anti-Cuban propaganda, has now been shown — as have most of the Cuban accusations on other counts — to be absoltuely true.

The AP leads its story with:

"Ten South Florida journalists, including three with The Miami Herald's Spanish-language sister paper, received thousands of dollars from the federal government for their work on radio and TV programming aimed at undermining Fidel Castro's communist regime, the Herald reported yesterday."

Note, it is *Fidel's* (not Cuba's) communist *regime* (not government). We never hear about George W. Bush's capitalist regime from these reporters.

The New York Times noted that "while the Castro regime has long alleged that some Cuban-American reporters in Miami were paid by the government, the revelation on Friday, reported in The Miami Herald, was the first evidence of that." Castro's Regime.

Reuters did marginally better:

"At least 10 Florida journalists received regular payments from a U.S. government program aimed at undermining the Cuban government of Fidel Castro", The Miami Herald reported on Friday.

"Total payments since 2001 ranged from $1,550 to $174,753 per journalist", according to the newspaper, which said it found no instance in which those involved had disclosed that they were being paid by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

"That office runs Radio and TV Marti, U.S. government programs broadcast to Cuba to promote democracy and freedom on the communist island. Its programming cannot be broadcast within the United States because of anti-propaganda laws."

At least they called it a government, but then went on to apply the adjective "communist" to the geographical category, island.

Anticommunism is still canonical in Librul Amerika, so not even the so-called librul politicians can give themselves permission to (1) say anything positive about Cuba, or (2) describe the actual Cuban political system without the dubious benefit of a loaded word.

I am going to paste in a short essay by Carl Geiser. Geiser is 96 years old, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War (born in Ohio), who spent a year as a prisoner of war. Then I am going to post a few links about what is happening in Cuba today.

American vs. Cuban Democracy

By Carl Geiser

Some people are dubious about the feasibility of a society based on cooperation instead of competition envisaged in my concept of an “80% Party.” They point out that all governments based on cooperation became corrupt, dictatorial, inefficient, and alienated their citizens enough to bring about their downfall.

The reason given for the blockade of Cuba is to “restore democracy,” but there are huge differences in U.S. and Cuban democracy.

Many forms of democracy have existed in the past, starting with the Greeks, and many forms still exist today. U.S. democracy has changed greatly from 1789, when slaves, women, landless men and indentured servants could not vote. As circumstances changed, we have amended the Constitution 27 times to meet the new needs.

Since 1789, certain rights have not changed: the rights to own land and companies, to hire and fire people and pay them less than the value they produce, are guaranteed by the Constitution, the Supreme Court, the Administration, the army and the police. But our right to a job, a home, medical care, education beyond high school, and a living wage, are not guaranteed.

Cuba has reversed this. In Cuba you cannot buy land, start up private corporations, or hire others to work for you. You are guaranteed a job or unemployment pay, a home, free medical care, and education beyond high school. Even though Cuba is a Third World country with an annual per capita domestic product of about $1700 compared to our $22,000, it does what we cannot do because it distributes the wealth and income it has more rationally.

We have the right to get rich here, though few do. In Cuba, no one can become rich. The minimum wage is 100 pesos a month, the maximum 800. Cuba has set up economic, political, social and cultural structures which reward the individual for working for the common good by modest economic incentives, but more importantly, by the friendship and admiration of those with whom you work, the dignity of citizenship in a sovereign Cuba, a fair share of whatever Cuba produces, and the right to take part in making government and management decisions. Why have the “socialist societies” in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe been overthrown by their own people? Because their leaders became corrupt, were dictatorial, and practiced nepotism leading to incompetence and mismanagement. They alienated people and denied them control over their government’s actions.

Cuba has found a way, not without some difficulty, to have an honest and efficient government guaranteed by the close control people exercise over it. At the base of Cuba’s democracy are the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). They were formed by the Cuban people at President Castro’s suggestion after counterrevolutionaries threw four bombs into a huge crowd during a 1960 speech.

Each square block elects its own CDR. I met with such a committee in 1990. All legislative changes which affect all Cubans must be submitted for review by the committees and they have three months to return their comments. One member of the CDR was the secretary who kept records of meetings; another was the treasurer who collected 25 centimos from each family every month for block activities; another person was in charge of security and arranged for two people to walk around the block between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. to help anyone in trouble and to prevent anyone from causing trouble; another young woman was the district CDR representative.

Another woman turned out to be the doctor for the block. The people in the block had built a two-story house for her with material supplied by the government. She had a medical history on everyone in the neighborhood, made house calls, and practiced preventative medicine; her income did not depend on people getting sick because she received a fixed salary paid by the government. A small, Afro-Cuban woman was the CDR chairperson. She coordinated the work of the Committee and had a Cuban flag in front of the house. Why? So the police could find her. They couldn’t arrest anyone in the block without the Committee’s permission. No Stalin could arise in Cuba.

And this is just the beginning of democracy in Cuba.
Cuba’s three-stage electoral system

In 1976, the Committees in Defense of the Revolution were supplemented by setting up election districts — about 500 voters in each — to elect a delegate to the district People Power Assembly (PPA). The district PPA then elected a delegate to the provincial PPA, which in turn elected a delegate to the national PPA. In 1991, in order to involve the people more directly in government, the national PPA set up a commission to find the best way to do this. In 1992, a draft of the new electoral procedure was sent to all CDRs for their comments and millions of Cubans discussed the procedure. The result was a new three-stage electoral procedure.

The first stage, as before, was local elections within the 13,685 election districts to choose a district delegate. Anyone 16 or older could vote. No less than two nor more than eight candidates were to be nominated and the winner had to receive over 50 percent of the votes. Several hundred districts had to have a runoff election a week later because no one had received over 50 percent.

The second stage was the formation of district electoral commissions made up of representatives from different organizations (women’s groups, labor, students, farmers, churches, sports, etc.) These representatives then arranged meetings in their factories, institutions and organizations to nominate individuals they thought would serve the common good in its provincial and national PPA. More than 1,600,000 people took part in these meetings. The district PPA had the right to nominate up to half of the candidates and the rest were chosen by the electoral commission from the names submitted for the provincial and national PPA.

A ballot was then prepared with no provision for a write-in candidate. Voters had three choices: 1) to deface their ballot or leave it blank; 2) to vote for one or some of the candidates, and; 3) to vote for the entire slate and thereby show the whole-hearted support for the Revolution. The candidates spent no money, nor did they campaign separately; their names and biographies were published and they all appeared at public meetings. There was no party slate.

The third stage of the new electoral procedure was a secret ballot held on February 24, 1993. The voter turnout was more than 99 percent. The poll watchers were high school students. Seven percent, about a half million voters, defaced or left their ballots blank, indicating that they opposed the Revolution. Another seven percent voted for less than the full slate, while 85 percent voted for the entire slate. The new 500-member national PPA has 115 women, 11 lawyers, two clergymen, and 83 percent had not held the office previously. District, provincial and national delegates receive no perks and have to live off the wages their factory or institution pays them.

The Cuban government does not have a separation of powers as we do. The national PPA has all powers — legislative, administrative and judicial. It sets the general policy and elects an executive council to carry it out. The council sets up commissions for various functions, such as a judicial commission to oversee all of the courts. (In Cuba, you have to study to be a judge just like becoming an engineer.)

An illustration of how the national PPA involves the people in decision-making may be seen by how it tackled three of Cuba’s problems. While Cuba was trading with the Soviet Union, a large quantity of consumer goods were imported. When this stopped, wages and pensions were not reduced, resulting in Cubans accumulating 11 billion pesos, with little to buy, and an 11 billion peso national debt. A second problem exists because the U.S. dollar is now an official currency. Some people have access to dollars and some do not. Some, such as taxi drivers and hotel workers, receive dollars from tips; other people receive dollars from relatives in the United States; and others, such as artists and farmers, can sell their goods on the market. And then there is the so-called “black market,” another source of dollars. Those who have access to dollars can buy goods in the dollar stores that are unavailable to the majority. It has been estimated that 30 percent of the population has access to dollars while the rest do not. And a third problem is the irritation felt by those who do not have access to dollars and cannot use the tourist facilities.

The national PPA asked all factories and institutions to hold conventions to discuss what to do about these problems and any others that needed to be discussed. The response was that 80,000 conventions sent in their suggestions.

People Power Assembly in action

The first result of analyzing the suggestions was a decree-law for the confiscation of personal funds obtained illegally. That was followed by fees for cultural and sports events and for meals previously free. Another law provided for the taxation of funds received from abroad and from tourists. These measures reduced the 11 billion peso national debt by 10 percent in the first four months.

To provide tourist facilities, the government Cubanacan Tourist Agency set aside half of its rooms to be paid for with pesos. Since not everyone could be accommodated, rooms will be provided for newlyweds and those individuals chosen by their colleagues for having worked the hardest for the common good.

Is this democracy? Certainly it is the opposite of what we have. Do these procedures serve the interests of the majority? They certainly do. They involve Cubans in the decision-making process to an extent not conceived of in the United States. This is what makes it possible for Cuba to survive the very severe hardships caused by the collapse of the former socialist countries and the tightened U.S. blockade.

Does our democracy protect the interests of the majority? It protects the interests of the top 20 percent. Since 1980 the real family income has declined rapidly for the bottom 80 percent. Our democracy, which spent close to a half billion dollars to fill offices in the last election, gives us a government bought by those with money. True, we have majority rule and allow third parties. But the result has been a government which always served to generate and protect a growing disparity in income. Nevertheless, until recently most people expected their children to live a better life than they did. Since 1980 the real income of the 80 percent has been dropping while the real income of the 20 percent has been increasing.

There is a world of difference between majority rule that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest and majority rule that serves the interests of the majority. Most of the world’s 368 billionaires, whose wealth equals that of the poorest 2,800,000,000 , live where majority rule works on their behalf; if their rule is threatened, they replace it with dictatorship. Let us beware. U.S. citizens are free to travel to Cuba, but if you spend money there, the sentence can be a $250,000 fine and 10 years in the slammer, a heavy price to learn what is going on there. Hundreds of U.S. citizens have openly defied the law without being prosecuted. The authorities may realize it might be difficult to get a jury to convict. After all, the United Nations General Assembly has voted to condemn the U.S. blockade.

I am not advocating a blind adoption of Cuban procedures for the U.S. We will have to find our own way. The organizing of the “80% Party” could be a peaceful way of changing to a democratic rule that serves the interests of the majority. The Oklahoma City bombing and formation of armed militias should be a warning to us that we have little time to lose, for some Americans whose living standards are falling are thinking of more violent means to bring about change. We must bring them into the 80% Party.

Cuba’s first priority is growing food. Until 1990, Cuba had imported much of its food in exchange for sugar. With the collapse of the socialist countries in Europe and the effects of the U.S. blockade, it can no longer do so. The investment in educating agricultural scientists and setting up agricultural institutes in the 1980s is paying off now. They are replacing chemical fertilizer with organic fertilizer and crop rotation, pesticides with biological controls, outdated technology with state-of-the-art technology appropriate to the season, area and crop. They are also introducing biological control of plant diseases and are producing micorrhizae to aid plant root uptake of mineral nutrients, the first country known to do so. Cuba is showing the way we and the rest of the world will have to grow our food without polluting our soil, air and water. We will have to find our own way to rule in the interest of the majority if we are to eliminate from our nation increasing poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, crime, drugs, unemployment, racial and ethnic discrimination. And we don’t have much time to do it. Scientists tell us that if we continue on the present course, the cost will be tremendous. The future of our planet is at stake.


Cuban Disaster Preparedness (Compare to US Government Response to Katrina)
Cuban Progress on Gender
Cuban Education
Cuban Medical System
Cuban Sustainable Agriculture Efforts
Cuban Environmental Protection Programs

While no one is claiming there is a Utopia in Cuba, it just seems important to point out — contrary to all the bullshit from the capitalist press — that when we look at any index of social improvement, the political will of Cuba, in the face of incessant attack, has been mobilized to improve those indices for the general population. There seems to be a surfeit of those prepared to tell us what is wrong in Cuba; but given what I see around me right now, in the US of A, my interest inclines not toward what “we” might teach Cuba, but what Cuba might have to teach us.