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An Important Time Recalled

Robert Bone and Richard Courage, The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932–1950 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011), 336 pages, $29.95, paperback.

The late Robert Bone had a socialist background which impelled him to study African-American history and literature long before those subjects became fashionable. From the 1950s on his pioneering work in this field included The Negro Novel in America (1959) and Down Home: Origins of the Afro-American Short Story (1975). He had planned, and partially researched and written, a study of the Chicago African-American Renaissance of the 1930s and later. When his health began to fail, he gave his notes to Richard A. Courage, author of many articles on African-American narrative and visual arts. Courage completed Bone’s research, and the result is a compelling book which will be a standard in its field for many years to come.… | more |

A Red Robin?

In his estimable Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero, it is Paul Buhle’s contention that in the almost eight centuries of his legendary existence, Robin has had his time come periodically but seldom more than now. With barbarians, foreign and domestic, at the gates whenever they are not in the palaces, the need for heroes to rise from the ranks of the masses is at least as urgent as it was in Robin Hood’s day.… Buhle argues that the world needs Robin Hood now more than ever. “We need Robin because rebellion against deteriorating conditions is inevitable….”… | more |

The Roads Leading To Disaster

This Reflection could be written today, tomorrow or any other day without the risk of being mistaken. Our species faces new problems. When 20 years ago I stated at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro that a species was in danger of extinction, I had fewer reasons than today for warning about a danger that I was seeing perhaps 100 years away. At that time, a handful of leaders of the most powerful countries were in charge of the world. They applauded my words as a matter of mere courtesy and placidly continued to dig for the burial of our species. It seemed that on our planet, common sense and order reigned. For a while economic development, backed by technology and science appeared to be the Alpha and Omega of human society.

Today, everything is much clearer. Profound truths have been surfacing. Almost 200 States, supposedly independent, constitute the political organization which in theory has the job of governing the destiny of the world.

Approximately 25,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of allied or enemy forces ready to defend the changing order, by interest or necessity, virtually reduce to zero the rights of billions of people.

I shall not commit the naiveté of assigning the blame to Russia or China for the development of that kind of weaponry, after the monstrous massacre at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered by Truman after Roosevelt’s death.

Nor shall I fall prey to the error of denying the Holocaust that signified the deaths of millions of children and adults, men or women, mainly Jews,  gypsies, Russians or other nationalities, who were victims of Nazism. For that reason the odious policy of those who deny the Palestinian people their right to exist is repugnant.

Does anyone by chance think that the United States will be capable of acting with the independence that will keep it from the inevitable disaster awaiting it?

In a few weeks, the 40 million dollars President Obama promised to collect for his electoral campaign will only serve to show that the currency of his country is greatly devalued, and that the US, with its unusual growing public debt drawing close to 20 quadrillion, is living on the money it prints up and not on the money it produces. The rest of the world pays for what they waste.

Nor does anyone believe that the Democratic candidate would be any better or worse than his Republican foes: whether they are called Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. Light years separate the three characters as important as Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. It is really unheard-of to observe such a technologically powerful nation and a government so bereft of both ideas and moral values.

Iran has no nuclear weapons. It is being accused of producing enriched uranium that serves as fuel energy or components for medical uses. Whatever one can say, its possession or production is not equivalent to the production of nuclear weapons. Dozens of countries use enriched uranium as an energy source, but this cannot be used in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon without a prior complicated purification process.

However, Israel, with the aid and cooperation of the United States, manufactured nuclear weaponry without informing or accounting to anybody, today not admitting their possession of these weapons, they have hundreds of them. To prevent the development of research in neighboring Arab countries, they attacked and destroyed reactors in Iraq and Syria. They have also declared their aim of attacking and destroying the production centers for nuclear fuel in Iran.

International politics have been revolving around that crucial topic in that complex and dangerous part of the world, where most of the fuel that moves the world economy is produced and supplied.

The selective elimination of Iran’s most eminent scientists by Israel and their NATO allies has become a practice that motivates hatred and feelings of revenge.

The Israeli government has openly stated its objective to attack the plant manufacturing Iran’s enriched uranium, and the government of the United States has invested billions of dollars to manufacture a bomb for that purpose.

On March 16, 2012, Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham published an article revealing that “A top US Air Force General has described the largest conventional bomb – the re-invented bunkers of 13.6 tones – as “fantastic” for a military attack on Iran.

“Such an eloquent comment on the massive killer-artifact took place in the same week that President Barack Obama appeared to warn against “easy words” on the Persian Gulf War.” Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for US Air Force operations added that probably the bomb would be used in any attack on Iran ordered by Washington.

“The MOP, also referred to as ‘The Mother of All Bombs’, is designed to drill through 60 meters of concrete before it detonates its massive bomb. It is believed to be the largest conventional weapon, non-nuclear, in the US arsenal.”

“The Pentagon is planning a process of wide destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and massive civilian victims through the combined use of tactical nuclear bombs and monstrous conventional bombs with mushroom-shaped clouds, including the MOABs and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) that exceeds the MOAB in destructive capacity.

“The MOP is described as “a powerful new bomb that aims straight at subterranean Iranian and North Korean nuclear facilities. The giant bomb -longer than 11 persons shoulder to shoulder, or more than 6 meters from end to end’.”

I ask the reader to excuse me for this complicated military jargon.

As one can see, such calculations arise from the supposition that the Iranian combatants, numbering millions of men and women well-known for their religious zeal and their fighting traditions, surrender without firing a shot.

In recent days, the Iranians have seen how US soldiers occupying Afghanistan, in just three weeks, urinated on the corpses of killed Afghans, burned copies of the Koran and murdered more than 15 defenseless citizens.

Let us imagine US forces launching monstrous bombs on industrial institutions, capable of penetrating through 60 meters of concrete. Never has such an undertaking ever been conceived.

Not one word more is needed to understand the gravity of such a policy. In that way, our species will be inexorably led towards disaster. If we do not learn how to understand, we shall never learn how to survive.

As for me, I harbor not the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit and lead the world towards the greatest mistake in its history.

Signature of Fidel Raul Castro

Fidel Castro Ruz

March 21, 2012
7: 35 PM

The Genius of Chávez

President Chávez presented his annual report on activities carried out in 2011 and his program for 2012 to the Venezuelan Parliament. After thoroughly carrying out the formalities required by this important activity, he addressed the official state authorities, members of parliament from all parties, and supporters and opposition members who had come to the Assembly to participate in the country’s most solemn act.

As usual, the Bolivarian leader was gracious and respectful to all those present. When anyone asked for the floor to make a clarification, he granted it as soon as possible. When one of the members of parliament, who had warmly greeted Chávez as did other opposition members, asked to speak, in a great political gesture Chávez interrupted his report presentation and gave her the floor. What surprised me was the extreme severity of the rebuke, launched against the president with words that really put to test Chávez’ chivalry and cold blood. The MPs statement was undoubtedly an insult, although this was not her intention. He alone was capable of calmly responding to the offensive word ‘thief’ that she had used to judge the president’s conduct in terms of the adopted laws and measures.

After verifying the exact term that was used, Chávez responded to the individual challenge for debate with an elegant and sedated phrase, “An eagle does not hunt flies,” and without adding another word he calmly proceeded with his report.

It represented an insurmountable test of mental agility and self control. Another woman, of unquestionable humble origins, expressed her astonishment in moving and heartfelt words over what she had just witnessed and the overwhelming majority present broke out in applause. Judging by the sheer volume, the applause seemed to be coming from all of Chávez’ friends and many of his adversaries as well.

Chávez’ report lasted more than nine hours without the people ever losing interest. Maybe because of that incident, his words were heard by an immeasurable number of people. Many times I have given extensive speeches on difficult topics, always striving to make the ideas I was transmitting understandable. And I was really at a loss to explain how that soldier of humble origins was able to keep his mind so agile and his incomparable talent to deliver such an address without losing his voice or strength.

To me politics is an extensive and decisive battle of ideas. Publicity is the work of publicists, who perhaps know the techniques to get listeners, spectators and readers to do what they are told to do. If that science, or art, or whatever they call it is employed for the good of human beings, they deserve some respect; the same respect merited by those who teach people how to think.

Venezuela today is the site of a great battle. Internal and external enemies of the revolution prefer chaos—as Chávez has said—to the just, organized and peaceful development of the country. Being accustomed to analyzing the events that have occurred over more than half a century, and to observing, with greater foundations for judgment, the eventful history of our time and human behavior, one learns to almost predict the future development of events.

To promote a far-reaching Revolution in Venezuela was no easy task. Venezuela is a country full of glorious history, but extraordinarily rich in resources that are of vital importance to the imperialist powers that have, and continue to map out guidelines in the world.

Political leaders the likes of Romulo Betancourt and Carlos Andres Perez lack the most minimal personal qualities to carry out such a task. Furthermore, Betancourt was excessively vain and hypocritical. He had many opportunities to learn about the situation in Venezuela. As a young man he was a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Costa Rica. He had a strong grasp of Latin American history and the role of imperialism, of poverty rates, and the ruthless plundering of natural resources in South America. He could not ignore that in a vastly rich country such as Venezuela, the majority of the people lived in extreme poverty. The archival footage is irrefutable proof of that reality of life.

As Chávez has explained many times, for more than half a century Venezuela was the world’s major oil exporter. At the beginning of the 20th century, European and Yankee warships intervened to support an illegal and tyrannical government that handed the country over to foreign monopolies. It is well known that incalculable funds flowed out of Venezuela to swell the wealth of monopolies and the Venezuelan oligarchy.

I remember when I visited Venezuela for the first time—after the triumph of the Revolution, to give thanks for the support and friendliness afforded to our struggle—, oil was worth barely two dollars a barrel.

Afterwards when I went to Venezuela to take part in the swearing-in ceremony for Chávez, the day he took an oath on the “dying constitution” held by Calderas, oil was worth seven dollars a barrel, despite 40 years having passed since my first visit and almost 30 years since the “distinguished” Richard Nixon had cancelled the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold and the US began to buy the world with pieces of paper. For a century, Venezuela was a supplier of cheap fuel to the empire’s economy and a net exporter of capital to developed and rich countries.

Why did these repugnant situations dominate for more than a century?

Latin American Armed Forces’ officials went to their privileged schools in the United States, where the Olympic champions of democracies gave them special courses on maintaining imperialist and bourgeois order. Coups d’état were always welcomed if their objective was to “defend democracies,” safeguarding and guaranteeing this repugnant system, in league with the oligarchies. Whether voters knew how to read and write, whether they had homes, employment, medical services and education were unimportant as long as the sacred right to property was maintained. Chávez brilliantly explains this situation. No one knows as well as him what happened in our countries.

Even worse was that the sophisticated nature of weapons, the complex workings and use of modern armaments that require years of learning, the training of highly qualified specialists, and the almost prohibitive cost of such weapons for the weak economies of the continent created a very strong mechanism of subordination and dependence. The US Government, employing mechanisms that did not require prior consultation with the other governments, set guidelines and policies for the military. The most sophisticated techniques of torture were passed on to the so-called security agencies to interrogate those who rebelled against the dirty and repugnant system of hunger and exploitation.

Despite all this, many honest officials, tired of so many indignations, bravely attempted to eradicate that embarrassing treason against the history of our independence struggles.

In Argentina, military official Juan Domingo Peron was able to design an independent and worker-based policy in his country. A bloody military coup overthrew him, expelled him from his country, and kept him in exile from 1955 to 1973. Years later, under the aegis of the Yankees, they once again attacked the government, murdering, torturing and disappearing tens of thousands of Argentines. They were not even able to defend the country during the colonial war that England carried out against Argentina with the conspiratorial support of the United States and henchman Augusto Pinochet with his cohort of fascists officers trained at the School of the Americas.

In Santo Domingo, Colonel Francisco Caamaño Deño; in Peru, General Velazco Alvarado; in Panama, General Omar Torrijos; and in other countries captains and officers who gave their lives anonymously were the antithesis of the traitorous behavior embodied by Somoza, Trujillo, Stroessner and the cruel tyrannies in Uruguay, El Salvador and other countries in Central and South America. The revolutionary military personnel did not expound elaborate theories, nor was this to be expected. They were not academicians educated in political science, but rather men with a sense of honor who loved their country.

But how far can honest men—who deplore injustice and crime—go along the path of revolution?

Venezuela is an outstanding example of the theoretical and practical role that the military can play in the revolutionary struggle for the independence of our peoples, as they did two centuries ago under the brilliant leadership of Simon Bolivar.

Chávez, a Venezuelan military officer of humble origins, stepped into the political life of Venezuela inspired by the ideas of the Liberator of America. On Bolivar, an inexhaustible source of inspiration, Marti wrote: “he won sublime battles with soldiers barefoot and half naked […] who never fought so much, nor fought better, in the world for freedom …”

“… Of Bolivar, he said, you can talk only after climbing up a mountain to use it as a platform […] or after freeing a bunch of peoples united in one fist …”

“… what he did not do, still remains undone today, because Bolivar still has things to do in the Americas.”

More than half a century later the famous, award-winning poet Pablo Neruda wrote a poem on Bolivar which Chávez frequently quotes. The final stanza reads:

“I met Bolivar one long morning, in Madrid, at the head of the Fifth Regiment, Father, I said, you are or not or who you are? And looking at the Mountain Headquarters, he said:

‘I wake up every hundred years when the people awaken.’ ”

But the Bolivarian leader is not limited to theoretical elaborations. His concrete measures are implemented without hesitation. The English-speaking Caribbean countries, which have to contend with modern and luxurious Yankee cruise ships for the right to receive tourists in their hotels, restaurants and recreation centers, quite often foreign-owned, but at least they generate employment, will always welcome fuel from Venezuela, supplied by that country with special payment facilities, when the barrel reached prices that sometimes exceeded US $100.

In the tiny state of Nicaragua, the land of Sandino, the “General of Free Men”, the Central Intelligence Agency organized the exchange of guns for drugs through Luis Posada Carriles after he was rescued from a Venezuelan prison. This operation resulted in thousands of deaths and mutilations among that heroic people. Nicaragua has also received the solidarity support of Venezuela. These are unprecedented examples in the history of this hemisphere.

The ruinous Free Trade Agreement that the Yankees intend to impose on Latin America, as they did with Mexico, would turn Latin America and the Caribbean not only into the region with the world’s worst distribution of wealth, which already is. It will turn it into a huge market where corn and other staple foods that are traditional sources of plant and animal protein would be displaced by subsidized U.S. crops, as is already happening in Mexico.

Used cars and other goods are displacing Mexican industry manufactures; job opportunities are decreasing in both cities and the countryside; the drug and arms trades are escalating, growing numbers of youngsters aged 14 or 15 years are turned into fearsome criminals. Never before, buses or other vehicles full of people who even paid to be transported across the border in search of employment, have been kidnapped and mass murdered. Known figures grow from year to year. More than ten thousand people are now losing their lives each year.

It is impossible to analyze the Bolivarian Revolution without taking these realities into account.

The armed forces, in such social circumstances, are forced into endless and wearisome wars.

Honduras is not an industrialized, financial or commercial country, or even a major producer of drugs. However, some of its cities break the record of drug-related violent deaths. There instead stands the banner of a major base of the strategic forces of the United States Southern Command. What is happening there, and is already happening in more than one Latin American country, is the Dantesque picture painted above, from which some countries have begun to escape. Among them and first, Venezuela, not just because it has considerable natural resources, but because it has been rescued from the insatiable greed of foreign corporations and has sparked considerable political and social forces capable of great achievements. Venezuela today is quite another from that I went to only 12 years ago, which had already deeply impressed me, seeing it as a Phoenix rising again from the ashes of its history.

Mentioning the mysterious computer of Raul Reyes, in the hands of the U.S. and the CIA after the attack organized and supplied by them in full Ecuadorian territory, which killed Marulanda’s replacement as well as several unarmed American youths, a version has been released that Chávez supported the “narco-terrorist organization FARC.” The true terrorists and drug traffickers in Colombia are the paramilitaries that supplied drugs to American dealers to sell them in the largest drug market in the world: the United States.

I never spoke with Marulanda, but I did speak with honored writers and intellectuals who came to know him well. I discussed his thoughts and history. He was undoubtedly a brave and revolutionary man, which I do not hesitate to affirm. I explained that I did not agree with him on his tactics. In my view, two or three thousand men would have been more than enough to defeat a conventional army in the territory of Colombia. His mistake was to devise a revolutionary army with almost as many soldiers as the enemy. That was extremely expensive.

Today, technology has changed many aspects of war; the forms of struggle also change. In fact, the clash of conventional forces between powers possessing nuclear weapons has become impossible. We do not have to have the knowledge of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and thousands of other scientists to understand that. It is a latent danger and the result is known or should be known. Thinking beings could take millions of years to repopulate the planet.

Nevertheless, I hold the duty to fight, which in itself is something innate in man, to find solutions that will enable a more reasoned and dignified existence.

Since I met Chávez, now as president of Venezuela, from the final stages of the Pastrana administration, I always saw him interested in promoting peace in Colombia. He facilitated meetings between the Colombian government and the revolutionaries that took place in Cuba, note well, on the basis of reaching a true peace agreement and not a surrender.

I do not recall ever having heard Chávez promote anything but peace in Colombia, nor mention Raul Reyes. We always addressed other issues. He particularly appreciates the Colombians, millions of them live in Venezuela and everyone benefits from the social measures taken by the Revolution, and the people of Colombia appreciate that almost as much as those of Venezuela.

I wish to express my solidarity and appreciation to General Henry Rangel Silva, Head of Strategic Operational Command of the Armed Forces, and newly appointed Minister of Defense of the Bolivarian Republic. I had the honor of meeting him when he visited Chávez in Cuba a few months ago. I could see in him an intelligent, well-meant, capable, and yet modest man. I heard his calm, brave and clear speech, which inspired confidence.

He led the organization of the most perfect parade of a Latin American military force that I have ever seen. We hope it will serve as encouragement and example to other brother armies.

The Yankees had nothing to do with that parade, and would not be able to do better.

It is extremely unfair to criticize Chávez for the resources invested in the excellent weapons which were displayed there. I’m sure they will never be used to attack a neighboring country. The weapons, resources and knowledge must go along the paths of unity to see America, as The Liberator dreamed, ”… the greatest nation in the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and wealth as by her freedom and glory..”

Everything unites us more than Europe or the United States itself, except the lack of independence imposed on us for 200 years.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

January 25, 2012

8:32 p.m.

World Peace Hanging by a Thread

Yesterday I had the satisfaction of having a pleasant conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I had not seen him since 2006, more than five years ago, when he visited our country to participate in the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of Countries in Havana. During the summit, Cuba was elected for the second time as president of the organization for a three-year term.

I had become gravely ill on July 26, 2006, a month and a half prior to the summit, and could barely sit up in bed. Many of the most distinguished leaders who participated in the event were kind enough to visit me. Chavez and Evo visited me several times. One afternoon four visitors came by whom I will always remember: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; an old friend, Abdelaziz Buteflika, the president of Algeria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran; and the vice minister of Foreign Affairs and current Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi, on behalf of the leader of the Communist Party and the president of China, Hu Jintao. It was really an important time for me; I was in the midst of intense physiotherapy on my right hand that I had seriously injured when I fell in Santa Clara.

With all four I spoke about some of the difficulties facing the world at the time; problems that have become progressively more complex.

During our meeting yesterday, I noted that the Iranian president was absolutely calm and tranquil, completely unconcerned about the Yankee threats and, fully confident in the capacity of his people to confront any aggression and in the effectiveness of their arms —which, in large part, they produce themselves— to inflict an unpayable price on its aggressors.

In reality, we hardly spoke about the topic of war. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was focused on the ideas he had presented at the Main Hall of the University of Havana during his conference on the struggle of humankind: “Moving towards reaching and achieving peace, security, respect and human dignity as a fundamental desire of all human beings throughout history.”

I am convinced that Iran will not commit any rash actions that might contribute to setting off a war. If a war were to be unleashed, it would inevitably be completely as a result of the recklessness and congenital irresponsibility of the Yankee Empire.

I believe that the political situation surrounding Iran and the associated risks of a nuclear war that involves us all —regardless of whether one possess nuclear weapons— are extremely delicate because they threaten the very existence of our species. The Middle East has become the most troubled region on the planet, the same region that produces the energy resources vital for the world’s economy.

The destructive power and the mass sufferings caused by some of the weapons used in World War Two led to a strong movement to ban weapons such as asphyxiating gas and others. Nevertheless, conflicting interests and the huge profits made by arms manufacturers led to the production of crueler and more destructive weapons; modern technology has now added the means and material to build weapons that if used in a world war would lead to extinction.

I support the opinion, undoubtedly shared by all those with a basic sense of responsibility, that no country big or small has the right to possess nuclear weapons.

They never should have been used to attack two defenseless cities such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing and irradiating with horrible and long-lasting effects hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, in a country that had already been militarily defeated.

If fascism indeed forced the allied nations against Nazism to compete with this enemy of humanity in the production of such weapons, once the war ended and the United Nations was created, the first duty of this organization should have been to prohibit nuclear weapons without exception.

However, the United States, the strongest and richest power, forced the rest of the world to follow its lead. Today, they have hundreds of satellites that spy and monitor the entire world from outer space. Their naval, air and land forces are equipped with thousands of nuclear weapons; and they control the world’s finances and investments at their whim via the International Monetary Fund.

Analyzing the history of each Latin American nation, from Mexico to Patagonia, by way of Santo Domingo and Haiti, one can observe that each and every country, without exception, have suffered for 200 years, from the beginning of the 19th century up until today. And, in one way or another, they are increasingly suffering the worst crimes that power and force can commit against the rights of a people. Brilliant Latin American writers are emerging in an increasing number. One of them, Eduardo Galeano, author of the book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent that describes the aforementioned, has just been invited to open the prestigious Casa de Las Americas Awards as a recognition to his outstanding body of work.

Events happen incredibly fast; but technologies report them to the public even faster. On any given day, like today, important news comes out a dizzying pace. A cable report dated from January 11 states: “The Danish presidency of the European Union confirmed on Wednesday that a new series of more severe European sanctions against Iran, because of its nuclear program, will be discussed on January 23. The new sanctions will not only target the oil industry but also the Central Bank.”

During a meeting with international journalists, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said that “We will increase sanctions against the oil industry in addition to sanctions against financial structures.” This clearly demonstrates that, in order to impede nuclear proliferation, Israel can go on accumulating hundreds of nuclear warheads while Iran is not allowed to produce 20% enriched uranium.

Another article, from a respected British news agency, states that “China gave no hint on Wednesday of giving ground to U.S. demands to curb Iran’s oil revenues, rejecting Washington’s sanctions on Tehran as overstepping …”

The sheer tranquility with which the United States and civilized Europe carry out this campaign with incredible and systematic acts of terrorism is enough to shock anybody. Just look at these lines reported by another important European news agency: “The murder on Wednesday of Iranian nuclear specialist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan [a scientist at the Natanz nuclear plant] was the fourth attack to kill a leading scientist in the country in almost exactly two years.”

On January 12, 2010: “Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University is killed when a booby-trapped motorcycle explodes outside his home in the capital.”

On November 29, 2010: “Two attacks target leading Iranian nuclear scientists on the same day. Majid Shahriari, a key member of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, is killed in Tehran by a limpet bomb attached to his car. His colleague Fereydoon Abbasi Davani is also targeted by a bomb attached to his car, but escapes.” The car was parked in front of the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran where both men worked as professors.

On July 23, 2011: “Gunmen shoot dead Dariush Rezaei-Nejad, a senior scientist who is reportedly associated with the defense ministry, and wound his wife as they waited for their child outside a Tehran kindergarten.”

On January 11, 2012 —the same day that Ahmadinejad travelled from Nicaragua to Cuba to give a conference at the University of Havana—, scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, “a deputy director at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, is killed in a car bomb blast outside the [Allameh Tabatabai] University in east Tehran.” As in previous years “Iran once again accused the United States and Israel.”

The killings represent a systematic and selective slaughter of brilliant Iranian scientists. I have read articles by known Israeli sympathizers who write about crimes carried out by Israeli intelligence services in cooperation with the United States and NATO as if they were the most normal occurrence.

At the same time, Moscow news agencies report that “Russia warned that in Syria a similar scenario is developing as to that in Libya, and added that this time the attack will be launched from neighboring Turkey.

“The secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said the West wants to ‘punish Damascus not as much for repressing the opposition, but because it is unwilling to sever ties with Tehran.’”

“…NATO members and some Persian Gulf states, operating according to the Libya scenario, intend to move from indirect intervention in Syrian affairs to direct military intervention…This time the main strikes forces will not be provided by France, the U.K. or Italy, but possibly by neighboring Turkey.”

“Washington and Ankara are now assumed to be negotiating a “no-fly” zone over Syria, where Syrian armed insurgents can be trained and concentrated, added Patrushev.”

News is not only coming out of Iran and the Middle East, but also from other parts of Central Asia near the Middle East. These reports show the great complexity of the problems that can arise from this dangerous region.

The United States has been led by its contradictory and absurd imperial policy to get involved in serious problems in countries such as Pakistan, whose borders with Afghanistan were drawn up by the colonialists without taking into account culture or ethnicities.

In Afghanistan, which defended its independence against English colonialism for centuries, drug production has multiplied in the wake of the Yankee invasion. Meanwhile, European soldiers, supported by drone airplanes and armed with sophisticated US weapons, carry out deplorable massacres that increase the people’s hatred and ward off any possibilities of peace. All this and other dirty actions are also reported by Western news agencies.

“WASHINGTON, January 12, 2012 – US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the actions of four U.S. marines who urinated on corpses in Afghanistan “utterly deplorable” The video of the act was circulated in the Internet.

“’I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable…’

“’This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards of values our armed forces are sworn to uphold…’”

In reality, Panetta neither confirms nor denies the action, and anyone, including the Secretary of Defense himself, may harbor doubt.

But it is also extremely inhumane that men, women and children, or an Afghani combatant fighting against the foreign occupation, be murdered by bombs dropped by drone planes. Another very serious incident: dozens of Pakistani soldiers and officials who safeguarded the country’s borders have been killed by these bombs.

Afghani President Karzai stated that the outrage committed against the bodies was “simply inhumane.” He asked for the US government “to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime.”

Meanwhile Taliban spokespersons declared that “over the last ten years, hundreds of similar acts have been carried out that were not reported…”

One even feels sorry for those soldiers, thousands of kilometers away from their family, friends and country, sent to fight in countries that they might not have even heard of during their school days, where they are assigned the task of killing or dying to enrich transnational companies, arms manufacturers and unscrupulous politicians who each year squander funds needed to feed and educate the uncountable millions of hungry and illiterate people around the world.

Many of these soldiers, victims of the trauma suffered, end up taking their own lives.

Is it an exaggeration to say that world peace is hanging by a thread?

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

January 12, 2012

9:14 p.m.

The March Towards the Abyss

It is not a matter of being optimistic or pessimistic, knowing or not knowing elementary things, of being responsible or not for events. Those who would like to be thought of as politicians should be thrown onto the trash heap of history when, as the norm goes, they have no idea about everything or almost everything related to it in that activity.

Of course I am not speaking about those who throughout the various millennia turned public affairs into instruments of power and wealth for the privileged classes, an activity where the real records of cruelty have been imposed during the last eight or ten thousand years about those we have certain traces of the social behaviour of our species, whose existence as thinking beings, according to scientists, barely covers 180,000 years.

It is not my purpose to get involved in such topics that would surely bore almost one hundred percent of the people continuously being bombarded with news across the media, going from the written word to three-dimensional images that are starting to be shown in  expensive cinemas. The day is not far away when they shall also predominate in the already fabulous television images per se. It is no accident that the so-called leisure industry has its headquarters in the heart of the empire that tyrannizes everybody.

What I would like to do is to rest on the current starting point of our species to speak of the march towards the abyss. I might even speak of an “inexorable” march and I would certainly be closer to reality. The idea of a Last Judgement is implicit in the most practiced religious doctrines among the inhabitants of this planet, without anyone classifying them for that as being pessimistic. On the contrary, I think it is a basic duty of all serious and sane persons, who number in the millions, to fight to postpone and perhaps to prevent that dramatic and imminent event in today’s world.

Numerous dangers threaten us, but two of them, nuclear war and climate change, are decisive and both are ever farther away from coming close to a solution.

Verbose demagoguery, the statements and speeches of the tyranny imposed upon the world by the United States and its powerful and unconditional allies, on both topics, do not admit the slightest doubt in that respect.

January 1st of 2012, the western and Christian New Year, coincides with the anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution in Cuba and the year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis of 1962 that put the world on the brink of a nuclear world war and this forces me to write these lines.

My words would be lacking in meaning if they had the objective of blaming the American people, or on any other country which is an ally of the United States in the unusual adventure; they, like all the other peoples of the world, would be the inevitable victims of the tragedy.  Recent events happening in Europe and elsewhere show massive indignation by those who are led to protest by the unemployment, shortages, reductions in their incomes, debts, discrimination, lies and politicking and lead to brutal repressions by the guardians of established law and order.

With growing frequency one speaks of military technologies that affect the entire planet, the only satellite known to be inhabitable hundreds of light years away from any other that may perhaps be suitable if we were to move at the speed of light, three hundred thousand kilometres per second.

We should not ignore that if our marvellous thinking species should disappear, many millions of years would go by before another one capable of thinking would arise, by virtue of the natural principles that rule as a consequence of the evolution of the species, discovered by Darwin in 1859 and which today is acknowledged by all serious scientists, whether they are religious or not.

No other era in the history of mankind has known the dangers that today humanity faces. Persons like me, at 85 years old, had reached our 18th birthdays with high school graduation degrees before the first atomic bomb had been put together.

Today artefacts of this type, ready to be used – incomparably more powerful than those that produced the heat of the sun over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki─ add up to thousands.

Weapons of this kind that are kept in storage, added to those already deployed by virtue of agreements, reach figures that surpass twenty thousand nuclear missiles.

The use of just one hundred or so of those weapons would be enough to create nuclear winter that would cause a horrible death in a short time for all the human beings living on the planet, as the American scientist and Rutgers University professor Alan Robock has brilliantly explained along with computerized data.

Those used to reading news and serious international analyses know how the risks of the outbreak of war with the use of nuclear weapons increase as the tension grows in the Middle East, where in the hands of the Israeli government hundreds of combat-ready nuclear weapons are accumulated, and whose nature as a strong nuclear power is neither admitted or denied.  Likewise, tension grows around Russia, a country with unquestionable capacity for response, threatened by a presumed European nuclear shield.

The Yankee statement that the European nuclear shield is there to also protect Russia from Iran and North Korea is laughable. The Yankee position is so feeble in this delicate matter that its ally Israel does not even bother to guarantee prior consultations on measures that might unleash war.

Humanity, in contrast, does not enjoy any guarantee.  Cosmic space, in the vicinity of our planet, is overcrowed by US satellites destined to spy on what is going on even on the roofs of houses in any nation of the world. The lives and customs of any person or family became objects of espionage; listenning to hundreds of millions of cell phones and subjects of conversations by any user anywhere in the world stops being a private matter and becomes information material for the US secret services.

That is the right that is being left to the citizens of our world by virtue of the acts of a government whose constitution, approved by the Philadelphia Congress in 1776, established that men were born free and equal and the Creator has given them all those rights, which they now no longer have, not the Americans themselves or any citizen of the world, not even to communicate by phone with relatives and friends about their most private feelings.

Of course war is a tragedy that can happen and it is very probable that it will happen; however, if humanity were capable of delaying it for an indefinite length of time, another equally dramatic event is happening at an increasing pace: climate change. I shall restrict myself to point out what eminent scientists and world-class exhibiters have explained through documents and films that are questioned by nobody.

It is well-known that the US government was opposed to the Kyoto agreements on the environment, a line of conduct that didn’t even agree with its closest allies whose territories would suffer tremendously and some of which, such as Holland, would practically disappear.

The planet goes on today without a policy to solve this serious problem, while the levels of oceans rise, the enormous ice caps covering Antarctica and Greenland, where more than 90% of the world’s fresh water is accumulated, are melting at a growing pace, and now humanity, on November 30, 2011, officially reached the figure of 7 billion inhabitants which, in the poorest areas of the world grows in a sustained and inevitable manner. Could it be that those who have dedicated themselves to bombing countries and killing millions of persons in the last 50 years could be concerned about the fate of all the other peoples?

The United States today is not just the promoter of those wars, but it is also the greatest manufacturer and exporter of weapons in the world.

As it is well-known, that powerful country has signed a covenant to supply 60 billion dollars in the next few years to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the transnationals of the US and its allies extract on a daily basis 10 million barrels of light oil, in other words, a billion dollars in fuel.  What will happen to that country and the region when those energy reserves should run dry? It is not possible that our globalized world will accept without a murmur the colossal wasting of energy resources that nature took hundreds of millions of years to create, and whose dilapidation increases essential costs. It would in no way be worthy of the intelligent nature attributed to our species.

In the last 12 months, that situation has worsened considerably because of new technological advances which, far from alleviating the tragedy coming from the squandering of fossil fuels, considerably make things worse.

World class scientists and researchers have been pointing out the dramatic consequences of climate change.

In an excellent documentary film by French director Yann Arthus-Bertrand, entitled Home, and filmed in collaboration with prestigious and well-informed international celebrities, published in mid-2009, he warns the world with irrefutable data about what is happening.  Using solid arguments, he shows the deadly consequences of consuming, in less than two centuries, the energy resources created by nature in hundreds of millions of years; but the worst of it is not the colossal squandering, but the suicidal consequences for the human species. Referring to the very existence of life, he admonishes the human species: “…You benefit from a fabulous legacy of 4,000 million years supplied by the Earth. You are only 200,000 years old but you have changed the face of the world.”

He didn’t blame nor could he blame anyone up to that time, he was simply pointing out an objective reality. However, today we have to blame ourselves for what we know and we are doing nothing to try to fix it.

In their images and concepts, the authors of that work include memories, data and ideas that we have the duty to know and take into account.

In recent months, another fabulous film was Oceans, made by two French film-makers, considered to be the best film of the year in Cuba; perhaps, in my opinion, the best film of this era.

This is amazing material because of the precision and beauty of the images never before filmed by any camera: 8 years and 50 million Euros were invested in the making of it.  Humanity must thank that proof for the way in which the principles of nature adulterated by man express themselves. The actors are not human beings: they are the inhabitants of the world’s oceans.  An Oscar for them!

What inspired me with the duty to write these lines did not arise from the events referred to up till now, which in one way or another I have commented on previously, but others that, managed by the interests of the transnationals, have been coming to light sparingly in the last few months and in my opinion serve as definitive proof of the confusion and political chaos rife in the world.

Just a few months ago I read for the first time some news about the existence of shale gas. It was stated that the US had reserves to supply their needs for this fuel for 100 years. Since I now have time to do research on political, economic and scientific topics that could be really useful for our peoples, I discretely got in touch with several people living in Cuba or abroad. Oddly, none of them had heard a word about the matter.  Of course, this wasn’t the first time that happened. One is amazed about important facts that are hidden in a veritable sea of information, mixed in with hundreds or thousands of news items that circulate the planet.

Nevertheless, I persisted in my interest on the subject.  Only a few months have gone by and shale gas is no longer news. Just before the new year enough information was known to clearly see the world’s inexorable march towards the abyss, threatened by risks of such great seriousness as nuclear war and climate change. I have already spoken of the first of these; about the second one, in the interest of brevity, I shall restrict myself to reveal known data and some to be known, that no political cadre or sensible person should ignore.

I don’t hesitate saying that I am observing both facts with the serenity imparted by the years I have lived, in this spectacular phase of human history, that have contributed to the education of our brave and heroic people.

The gas is measured in TCF, which can be referred to in cubic feet or cubic metres – it is not always explained whether they are dealing with one or the other – it depends on the system of measurement that is used in certain countries. On the other hand, when they speak of billions they tend to refer to the Spanish billion that means a million millions; that figure in English is called a trillion, and we must keep that in mind when analyzing the references to the gas which tend to be copious. I shall try to point that out when necessary.

The American analyst Daniel Yergin, author of a voluminous classic on the history of oil stated, according to the IPS news agency, that now a third of all the gas produced in the US is shale gas.

“…exploitation of a platform with six wells can consume 170,000 cubic metres of water and even create harmful effects such as influencing seismic movements, polluting surface and groundwaters and affecting the landscape.”

The British BP group informs us that “proven reserves of conventional or traditional gas on the planet add up to 6,608 billion ―million millions― of cubic feet, some 187 billion cubic metres, […] and the largest deposits are in Russia (1,580 TCF), Iran (1,045), Qatar (894), and Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan with 283 TCF each”. We are dealing with gas that is being produced and marketed.

“An EIA study ―a US  government energy agency ― published in April of 2011 found practically the same volume (6,620 TCF or 187.4 billion cubic metres) of recoverable shale gas in just 32 countries, and the giants are: China (1,275 TCF), United States (862), Argentina (774), Mexico (681), South Africa (485) and Australia (396 TCF)”. Shale gas is gas de esquisto. Take note that according to what is known, Argentina and Mexico have almost as much as the United States. China, with larger deposits, has reserves that equal almost the double of those and 40% more than the United States.

“…countries secularly dependent on foreign suppliers shall count on an enormous base of resources in relation to their consumption, such as France and Poland which import 98 and 64 percent respectively of the gas they consume, and in shale or lutite rocks they would have reserves greater than 180 TCF each”.

“To extract it from the lutite ― IPS points out― they resort to a method called ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing), with the injection of great amounts of water plus sand and  chemical additives. Carbon traces (proportion of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere) are much greater than those generated in the production of conventional gas.

“Since we are dealing with bombarding layers of earth crust with water and other substances, the risk of damaging the subsoil, soil, surface and groundwater tables, the landscape and communication channels  is greater if the facilities for extracting and transporting the new wealth presents handling defects or errors.”

Suffice it to point out that among the numerous chemical substances that are injected with the water to extract this gas we have benzene and toluene, substances that are terribly carcinogenic.

Lourdes Melgar, expert from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores of Monterrey, has the opinion that:

“‘It is a technology generating much debate and they are resources located in zones where there is no water…”.

“Gas-bearing lutites ― IPS states― are unconventional hydrocarbon quarries, encrusted in rock that protects them, therefore fracking is used to release them on a grand scale.”

“Generation of shale gas involves high volumes of water and the excavation and fracking generates great amounts of liquid waste that may contain dissolved chemicals and other pollutants that require treatment before they are disposed.”

“Production of shale leaped from 11,037 million cubic metres in 2000 to 135,840 million in 2010. In the event of expansion following this pace, in 2035 it will cover 45 percent of the demand of general gas, according to EIA.

“Recent scientific research has warned on the negative environmental profile of lutite gas.

“Professors Robert Howarth, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University in the US have concluded that this hydrocarbon is a greater pollutant than oil and gas, according to the study ‘Methane and the traces of greenhouse effect gases from natural gas coming from shale formations’ published in April last year in the Climatic Change review.

“‘Carbon trace is greater than that from conventional gas or oil, seen on any time horizon, but particularly within the lapse of 20 years. Compared to carbon, it is at least 20 percent greater and perhaps more than double in 20 years’, the report underlined.”

“Methane is one of the most polluting greenhouse effect gases, responsible for the rise in the planet’s temperature.”

“‘In active extraction areas (one or more Wells in one kilometre) average and maximum concentrations of methane in wells of drinking water increased with proximity to the closest gas well and were a danger for potential explosion’, states the text written by Stephen Osborn, Avner Vengosh, Nathaniel Warner and Robert Jackson, from Duke State University.

“These indicators put into question the industry argument that shale could replace carbon in generating electricity and, therefore be a resource for mitigating climate change.

“‘It is an adventure that is far too premature and risky’.”

“In April of 2010, the US State Department started up the Shale Gas Global Initiative to help countries seeking to use that resource in order to identify and develop it, with the eventual economic benefit for US transnationals.”

I have been inevitably extensive, I had no other option. I write these lines for the Cubadebate website and for Telesur, one of the most serious and honest channels in our long-suffering world.

In order to deal with the subject, I let the holidays of the old and the New Year slip by.

Fidel Castro Ruz

January 4, 2012.

9:15 p.m.

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