Thursday, May 13, 2010

US Troops Are Executing Prisoners in Afghanistan

US Troops Executing Prisoners in Afghanistan: Seymour Hersh

By David Edwards

May 12, 2010 "Rawstory" --
The journalist who helped break the story that detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were being tortured by their US jailers told an audience at a journalism conference last month that American soldiers are now executing prisoners in Afghanistan.

New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh also revealed that the Bush Administration had developed advanced plans for a military strike on Iran.

At the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, Hersh criticized President Barack Obama, and alleged that US forces are engaged in "battlefield executions."

"I'll tell you right now, one of the great tragedies of my country is that Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan," Hersh said. "They're being executed on the battlefield. It's unbelievable stuff going on there that doesn't necessarily get reported. Things don't change.:

"What they've done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban," Hersh added. "You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they're Taliban, you must turn them free.

"What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place," he continued. "Well, if they can't prove they're Taliban, bam. If we don't do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that's going on now."

The video of Hersh was uploaded to Michael Moore's YouTube account Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hersh has a long history as an investigative journalist and worked for many years at The New York Times. In 1969, he broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We are all Greeks now, or soon will be


"Arrival of Lord Byron at Missolonghi", by Theodoros P. Vryzakis, 1861. National Gallery of Athens, Greece. The English Romantic poet sailed with his own fleet of ships as an aid agent of the London Committee in December of 1823, and stayed on to fight, eventually leading a Greek brigade. Four months after his arrival, he died of a fever at Missolonghi while preparing to launch an attack.

The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,

Where grew the arts of war and peace,--

Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!

Eternal summer gilds them yet,

But all, except their sun, is set.

--Lord Byron, "The Isles of Greece"

Lord Byron was either nearly two hundred years ahead of his time with that pronouncement, or else history is now by way of repeating itself, amplified. The struggle for Greek independence of Byron's day looks pale now in comparison to what lies ahead. Back then, it was only the Ottoman Empire the Greeks were up against. Today it's a vaster, more nebulous, and infinitely more bloodthirsty one, that of international capital.

Yeah, hi, it's me again. The pissed-off pedantic dissident of crapitalism has another axe to grind. And it's going to get swung over Greece--as far afield as Germany, France and even a whack or two at the good ol' Yankee military-industrial complex. You may want to grab yourself a big bottle of retsina, or ouzo, and a plate of Kalamata olives before you read on; this one's not for taking on an empty stomach. Plus, you may need something to throw when all this is over, although I doubt you'll be shouting "Opa!"

Y'okay. Let's begin.

Over at Ten Percent, blog-buddy Rick B has some good insights into the situation:

The quote 'inability of the Greek government to live within its means' is such a poisonous falsehood, as if financial institutions did not for years bribe key people into endless debt restructuring not because it helped them but because it made money for the banks. This is a merry game played by elites with the costs passed onto those not allowed to participate, yet the besuited oligarchs have the chutzpah to project their irresponsibility onto their victims. This is a rescue package within the rules of the game, better than what could have happened but ultimately it prolongs the scam. Neoliberalism, does not work, financialisation in place of actual productivity does not work (excuse the pun), capitalism unregulated and unconstrained does not work, Adam Smith was actually very clear on that despite what Randroids and laissez faire fundamentalists prefer to read into his works (by current standards he'd be labeled a socialist by corporate media). What we are seeing is a rolling breakdown of systems of human activity because we are serving the economy not making the economy serve us.

Right on, Rick, and you'll get no arguments from me. For the banksters to call the Greeks, along with the Irish, the Portuguese and the Spanish "PIGS", is gross projection from the overfed slop slurpers at the global trough. It's not the pampered people of those countries who are to blame; it's their lousy leaders, who opened the markets to foreign capital. Alas, it's the citizens who must reap what the politicians sowed, and of course, it's all tares; the banksters have already made off with the wheat. An economy where people serve capital, rather than the other way 'round, is one doomed to fail for all but those who have always had more than they could possibly have known what to do with anyway. A pity capitalism can't die of clogged arteries half as easily as its fat-assed proponents--being inanimate, it's infinitely capable of being resurrected by Victor Frankenstein and his electroshock machine!

I did promise to tell you what the role of the Germans in all this was, and I keep my word. So here's the ugly rotten maggoty meat of the matter, via Defense News:

France and Germany, while publicly urging Greece to make harsh public spending cuts, bullied its government to confirm billions of euros in arms deals, a leading Euro-MP alleged Friday.

Franco-German lawmaker Daniel Cohn-Bendit said that Paris and Berlin are seeking to force Prime Minister George Papandreou to spend Greece's scarce cash on submarines, a fleet of warships, helicopters and war planes.


"It's incredible the way the Merkels and Sarkozys of this world treat a Greek prime minister," he declared, adding that Papandreou had recently met Sarkozy and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Paris.

"Mr. Fillon and Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Papandreou: 'We're going to raise the money to help you, but you are going to have to continue to pay the arms contracts that we have with you'," Cohn-Bendit said.

"In the past three months we have forced Greece to confirm several billion dollars in arms contracts. French frigates that the Greeks will have to buy for 2.5 billion euros. Helicopters, planes, German submarines."

Despite its economic woes, which recently deepened spectacularly when its credit rating was downgraded, Greece is one of Europe's biggest arms buyers, seeking to keep pace with its regional rival Turkey.

See why I'm angry? I'm a Bad German; "Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles" is just the old Nazi version of the national anthem, as far as I'm concerned, and I have about as much use for that sentiment as I do for the Nazis. And since my mom's side of the family is from the Rheinland-Pfalz, right next to what's now Alsace-Lorraine, the tiny little soupçon of French blood I got from her means I'm also très fâchée about the whole steaming heap of merde coming from Sarko. This makes me hang my head about my ancestry, and doubt seriously of the goodness of humanity on the whole. Epic internationalist FAIL!

The only Greek I have is two years' worth of the ancient university stuff, just enough to foolishly convince me that I could almost translate Sappho if I wanted to, but like her poetry, it's very fragmentary. Greek history is what I'm now learning on the fly, also by snips and snaps. But it doesn't take a historian to see how stupid this whole arms race is. Greece is in the EU; last time I checked, Turkey was also, or well on its way to it. There is no logical (that's Greek) reason for an arms race between the two countries. And if it came down to it, Canada wouldn't be able to supply peacekeepers to get them off each other's throats, as it did in Cyprus. Our troops are too busy now making the world safe for pipelines capitalism "democracy" (another Greek word, and notice that I put it in quotes) in Afghanistan, don'cha know?

Meanwhile, Truthout has some good stuff on the Greek crisis and the growing resistance thereto. First, a little insight from a French analyst, Maurice Ulrich, of l'Humanité:

There are those who call for political unity in Europe right now, without which, they say, there will be no salvation. But to carry out which policies? What's come to the fore, today is the extreme noxiousness of a liberal Europe for its people. In the race for free and undistorted competition the poorest countries could only keep up with the richest by social dumping. The richest countries could only compete by playing on the same field. The message Europe is giving to Greece today - the same one it will give to Spain and Portugal tomorrow - is that the only way to keep in with a liberal Europe is to shatter salaries, pensions, and public services. But who really believes that tomorrow, or after tomorrow, our very own public services, pensions and salaries will be able resist?


What's happening in Greece isn't a fluke. Even as the media incriminate, and not without justification, the policies of Greek leaders, we must remember that they were aided and abetted by the very same players who now want to strip Greece of its hide and make a golden fleece. It's only the first of the crises that this capitalist Europe has in store for us. And it's precisely this Europe that we have to change. We want a Europe of cooperation, a different role for the European Central Bank (ECB), and we want the ECB to lend to Greece at 1% interest. It's what our petition calls for, a call that has been widely heard and one that must be amplified.

As Marx himself said: the free worker who goes to the free market to sell his hide 'has to expect to get it tanned.' The same is true for the people on liberal Europe's great competitive market. Yes. Now is the time to start resisting, to start working towards another kind of Europe. Now is the time to call up the people.

Then, sociologist Jean Ziegler, interviewed by the same French publication:

Caramanlis' right-wing government, which preceded the current PASOK (socialist) government, was a machine for systematically pillaging the country's resources. As in a banana republic, Greece's resources were privatized on a large scale even while tax evasion became massive. A reliable estimate by Swiss banks puts Greek tax-evading capitals in Swiss banks alone at 36 billion euro. In addition to this, some of the largest Greek ship-owners transferred their headquarters abroad: first among them, the biggest, namely Latsis, moved its own to Versoix near Geneva.

The scandalous end-result of all this is that the onus of paying heavily for the State's quasi-bankruptcy now falls on the Greek people, on Greek workers, while the ruling classes themselves have taken the precaution of transferring almost all their fortune abroad. The Greek public debt stands at 112% of the country's GDP.


With the European tax-payers' money (in the euro-area's fifteen countries and in Switzerland), draconian conditions are imposed on the Greek people. Under the guise of rescuing the country, the resources of whose State were pillaged by the previous, right-wing government, the rescuers make them suffer a considerable social backlash (a wage freeze, cuts in social benefits, in the number of public workers) and more privatizations - which has the advantage of bailing out the big European banks that were massively involved. This actually gives Europe and its financial institutions an opportunity to dismantle the Greek social welfare even though PASOK has been voted into office on a social justice platform.


The Europeans and the ECB could have lent funds to Greece at an exceptionally low rate to enable the country to meet its obligations in a short time. Instead, Greece was forced to choose between either borrowing at very high rates or accepting the EU and IMF's plan and the economic strings attached to it. Greece was reluctant to submit to the unacceptable conditions imposed by the EU and the IMF and had been hoping to get loans by itself on the international market. All it took to prevent this was for Standard and Poors, one of the private rating agencies, to lower its rating of the Greek State's solvency. And immediately Greece was barred access to the free capital market, or only at prohibitive rates of interest (almost 20%). Greece was left with no other choice but to submit to the conditions laid down in the EU and IMF's plan.

What gives me some heart in the midst of this massive Beschiss is the fact that the loudest internationalist voices against it are all, if their names are any indication, Franco-German (or Germano-French) leftists. People who are ethnically and ethically (woo! more Greek!) a lot like me, in other words.

And this leads me to the recent regional elections in Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW). That's the most populous of the 16 German "lands" (states), and it also happens to be where my dad's side of the family hails from. The state recently dealt rightist Angela Merkel a huge bitch-slap by electing the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) to the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament; the Bundestag is the lower). The Greens also doubled their percentage of the NRW vote over last time, and the socialist Left party is making its debut in the parliament thanks to this vote. All in all, it's a heavy blow to the CDU/CSU and the so-called "grand coalition", and it's gonna make it that much harder for Merkel to shove anything else filthy down Germany's collective throat.

So what motivated this heavy hitter among German lands to tack portside? The Greek crisis, and the fact that Angela Merkel decided to pillage German social services in order to make that hyper-conditional "bailout", i.e., to force the Greeks to buy all that aforementioned military hardware. Germans like their social services as much as we Canadians, go figure--and they are not at all impressed by international crapital taking a pound of flesh from those who are already skin and bones.

Of course, the major Anglo-Amurrican media (especially the bizmedia morons) deliberately choose to misinterpret the situation as merely a matter of Merkel being a weak sister, missing the overbearing crapitalist tyrant angle entirely (or worse, praising it.) All of them have one thing in common: they blame the Greeks, leaving out entirely the military-industrial angle. And no wonder: if they had to point the finger at the correct culprit, three more accusing fingers would be pointing right back at them in England and the US.

Who do you think started this damn snowball rolling, anyway? France? Germany? Gimme a break. As strong as the German economy has long been, historically, it's been sucked dry by two far bigger leeches than the so-called PIGS. The exsanguination of the German economy is the dirty little secret of London and New York during the Roaring Twenties. Bankers and stockbrokers, not Jews, were the real collective enemy of the Weimar Republic. They were, as Ike Eisenhower found out to his chagrin, also backing the collective enemy of the United States, relying on an endless weapons shopping spree to keep the economy rolling their way. But since it's hard to identify them just by looking, and they're well enough off to laugh at anyone who tries to make them wear a badge of shame, they'll never be rounded up and sent off to get a taste of their own medicine...


...more's the pity. Because if true justice prevailed, they'd be the ones forced to eternally work off the debt they created, for slaves' wages. Or to put it more poetically, they'd be made to roll that stone endlessly up a hill, like Sisyphus in Hades, never reaching the top.

Meanwhile, Lord Byron is stirring in his grave. And the Greek Resistance is rising, phoenix-like, from its own pyre...I dare to hope. But unless we all join in, it will be as futile as the one Lord Byron tried so bravely to lead.

We are all Greeks now, or soon will be.

'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,

Though link'd among a fetter'd race,

To feel at least a patriot's shame,

Even as I sing, suffuse my face;

For what is left the poet here?

For Greeks a blush---for Greece a tear.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE ROVING EYE - The American Taliban are coming

By Pepe Escobar

Intricate shadowplay surrounds the (failed) smoking sports utility vehicle Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Earlier in 2010, the Central Intelligence Agency warned al-Qaeda might try an attack inside the US "within the next six months". It did happen - like clockwork - with the added bonus that the alleged perpetrators are even more convenient than al-Qaeda.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder is now sure "the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack. We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they probably helped finance it and that he [Shahzad] was working at their direction". President Barack Obama's homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan basically said the same thing.

On May 3, United States federal prosecutors charged Faisal Shahzad, 30, on five criminal counts, including committing an act of terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The complaint filed in a Manhattan court said Shahzad had admitted he received bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan, before attempting on May 1 to explode a car packed with explosives in Times Square. The car had cans of gasoline, propane tanks, fireworks and detonators.

Despite this, no hard evidence has been presented. The notion that the ultra-localized, Pashtun-oriented Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban - TTP) may pull an al-Qaeda-style New York car bombing is as fishy as Goldman Sachs juggling with wacky financial instruments. The Pakistani army, for starters, does not buy it. According to its top spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, "I don't think they have the capacity to reach the next level."

Pakistani Minister of Interior Rehman Malik said it was "premature" to link New York with Waziristan - adding that only Pakistani intelligence would investigate the matter (no Americans allowed). However, British media have reported that investigation teams from the US are at work in Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, where the army and intelligence agencies are based.

The TTP itself, via a spokesman, Azam Tariq, dismissed the whole thing, although it had initially claimed responsibility. Tariq was quoted as saying, "This is a noble job and we pray that all the Muslim youths should follow Faisal Shahzad. But he is not part of our network." Instead, what the TTP says it sees is "a plot hatched by the US and its allies to trap Muslim and Pukhtun [Pashtun] youth in terrorist activities".

This could be bluff, but it makes some sense. Shahzad's "bomb" tanked miserably. The TTP really does train jihadis on bomb-making in only a few days; the instructors themselves were trained by al-Qaeda jihadis. If Shahzad really did train at a Waziristan camp - leaked information is trying to make public opinion believe he did - his bomb could have been expected to have at least gone off.

All the same, a steady, relentless drip of leaks has built an official narrative of Shahzad linked to the TTP, meeting its leaders, training in Waziristan - and even being coached by US-born imam Anwar al-Awlaki, now hiding in Yemen, who conveniently had just become an assassination target for the Obama administration. Evidence? Nothing concrete.

McClatchy newspapers, in one of its stories, mentioned "six US officials" stressing "no credible evidence has been found" that Shahzad "received any serious terrorist training from the Pakistani Taliban or another radical Islamic group". As for Shahzad's father, Air Vice-Marshal Baharul Haq (this is an elite Pashtun family), he was linked in the US with a top Taliban leader - but nobody made that link in Pakistan itself; he was just questioned by Pakistani police.

Profile of an American Taliban
Nobody really knows whether Shahzad really saw Pashtun civilians in Waziristan droned to death - apparently the definitive motive for his jihadi act. But whether he witnessed it in person or he read and heard about it, it's immaterial. What he must certainly have felt was that both Pashtun nationalism and Islam were under attack. With his house in the US foreclosed, his bank suing him and his marriage reportedly on the rocks, he hardly needed another push to "smash the mirror" and cross to the other side.

Earlier this year, I argued (Yemen, the new Waziristan that we had entered the age of the virtual jihadi nomad - characters that in earlier times would have been in a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky or Albert Camus.

Shahzad fits the profile: young, globalized and addicted to a fantasy - the virtual ummah (Muslim community). He apparently did make the conceptual leap from idealizing the ummah on the Internet to actually feeling the irresistible urge to act on the ground. Like virtually every neo-jihadi - from Dhiren Barot (who planned to bomb the New York Stock Exchange) to shy underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - he broke communication with his family. As a Pakistani-American he was already a living exercise in deterritorialization.

And this would all be very individualistic - no orchestration would be needed by a terrorist network. Add to it - if some of those leaks are to be taken seriously - that Shahzad seems to bear the traits of a highly narcissistic personality (he's apparently "singing like a bird"). As scholar Oliver Roy has put it, talking about al-Qaeda-influenced neo-jihadis, Shahzad in his own way has also become a lonely avenger, some sort of self-styled hero "who can redeem a life he is not happy with by achieving fame while escaping a world where he finds no room".

In the wake of the (failed) Times Square bombing, none of this was taken into account. It didn't even matter that US Central Command chief General David Petraeus - always positioning himself to 2012 - allowed that Shahzad had acted as a "lone wolf". Hysteria ruled - from Senator Joe Lieberman wanting to strip all "terrorism" suspects of US citizenship (anyone now can become a suspect) to pundits demanding the shipment of said suspects directly to Pentagon-orchestrated commissions.

United States public opinion largely refuses to acknowledge facts on the ground at their own peril. Inside the US, now even peaceful dissent could be criminalized as a "terrorist" threat. US citizens such as imam al-Awlaki may be "secretly" assassinated abroad - while if this happened inside the US it would be a capital crime; the new policy may well be a first step towards assassinating US citizens at home as well.

The Obama administration, the US intelligence machine and US public opinion also refuse to acknowledge facts on faraway grounds at their own peril. The drone war over Pakistan - covert, mercenary and a mix of both - is considered not only by Pashtuns but by most of Pakistani public opinion for what it is: a US-conducted war - an extra-judicial, systematic mass killing of "unknown", "invisible" people. The Obama administration is not even acknowledging whether it is revaluating this strategy.

That's because they are not. The timing of the failed Times Square bombing could not have been more convenient - just when the Obama administration was stepping up the drone war in Pakistan, "secretly" allowing the Central Intelligence Agency last week to attack even larger batches of "unknown", invisible, low-level Pashtun fighters (with the accompanying collateral damage; over 400 civilians killed in 2009 alone). Even though Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, a Pentagon darling, will not emit a peep, this will be largely seen by Pakistani public opinion for what it is: a renewed declaration of war.

The age of the virtual jihadi nomad is a go. Forget the Osamas; now it's the time for the Shahzads. Illegal, covert drone wars are bound to spawn - spin or no spin - a terrible, absurd and deadly string of blowback. Lookout, the American Taliban are coming.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Monday, May 10, 2010

The odious tyranny imposed on the world

Reflections of Fidel

OUR era is characterized by an unprecedented fact: the threat to human survival imposed on the world by imperialism.

The painful reality should not come as a surprise to anybody. We have seen it coming at an accelerated pace in recent decades, at a rate difficult to imagine.

Does this mean that Obama is responsible for or the promoter of that threat? No! It simply demonstrates that he is ignoring reality and neither wants to or would to able to overcome it. Or rather, he is dreaming of the unreal in an unreal world. "Ideas without words, words without meaning," as a brilliant poet once stated.

Although the U.S. writer Gay Talese, considered to be one of the principal representatives of the new journalism, affirmed on May 5 – according to a European news agency – that Barack Obama embodies the finest history of the United States in the last century, an opinion that could be shared in certain aspects, in no way does that alter the objective reality of the human destiny.

Events are happening, like the ecological disaster that has just occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, which demonstrate how little governments can do against those who control capital; those who, in both the United States and Europe, via the economy of our globalized planet, are the ones who decide the destiny of the peoples. We could take as one example measures coming from the U.S. Congress itself, published in the most influential media of that country and Europe, just as they have been circulated on Internet, without altering one word.

"Radio and TV Martí blatantly lie while broadcasting unfounded information, states a report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which recommends that both stations be permanently moved from Miami and relocated in Washington and be ‘fully’ integrated into the propaganda framework of Voice of America (VOA).

"Besides deceiving the public… both broadcasting stations use ‘offensive and incendiary language,’ which discredits them.

"After 18 years, Radio and TV Martí have failed to ‘make any discernable inroads into Cuban society or to influence the Cuban government…’

"The report, which was circulated this Monday [May 3], recommends that the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) become part of VOA, the official propaganda radio of the U.S. government.

"’Problems with adherence to traditional journalistic standards, miniscule audience size, Cuban government jamming, and allegations of cronyism have dogged the program since its creation,’" recognized the committee, headed by Democrat John Kerry."

"The committee recommends urgently removing both stations from Miami, highlighting the need to hire personnel in a more balanced way to produce a ‘depoliticized and professional product.’

"In the report, Kerry makes reference to Alberto Mascaró, the nephew of Pedro Roig’s wife—Roig is the general director of Radio and TV Marti—who was hired as the director of VOA Latin America thanks to his relative.

"The document reports in detail how, in February 2007, the former director of the TV Marti programs, "along with a relative of a member of Congress" (who was not named), pleaded guilty in the Federal Court to receiving $112,000 in illegal kickbacks from an OCB contractor. "The former OCB employee was sentenced to 27 months in jail and fined $5,000 after being found guilty for taking as much as 50% of all monies paid by TV Martí for the production of television programming by vendor Perfect Image."

Up to here, the Jean Guy Allard article that appeared on the Telesur website.

Another article, by U.S. professors Paul Drain and Michele Barry, from Stanford University (California), translated on the Rebelión website, states:

"The US blockade on Cuba proclaimed after Fidel Castro’s revolution ousted Batista’s regime is 50 years old this 2010. Its stated objective has been to help the Cuban people to attain democracy but a U.S. Senate report from 2009 concluded that ‘the unilateral blockade on Cuba has failed.’

"…despite the blockade, Cuba has achieved better healthcare results than most Latin American countries and comparable with those of most of the developed nations. Cuba’s average life expectancy is the highest (78.6 years) and it also has the highest density of medical doctors per capita – 59 doctors to 10,000 people – and the lowest mortality rate for children under one year of age (5.0 per 1,000 life births) and infant mortality (7.0 per 1,000 live births) among the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

"In 2006, the Cuban government allocated about $355 per capita for healthcare" … "The annual healthcare cost assigned to an American citizen that same year was $6,714… Cuba also assigned less funds to healthcare than most of the European countries. But, the low costs of healthcare do not explain Cuba’s successes, which could be attributed to a greater emphasis on prevention and primary care that the island has been cultivating during the American commercial blockade.

"Cuba has one of the most advanced primary care systems of the world. The education of its population in disease prevention and healthcare promotion has made the Cubans less dependent on medical products to keep the population healthy. The opposite happens in the United States, which is highly dependent on medical provisions and technologies to keep its population healthy, but at a very high economic cost.
"Cuba has the highest rates of vaccination in the world as well as the highest number of births assisted by expert healthcare workers. The clinical care provided in doctors’ offices, policlinics and the largest regional and national hospitals are free of charge for patients…
"On March 2010, the U.S. Congress introduced a bill to strengthen healthcare systems and increase the number of healthcare experts sent to developing countries… "Cuba continues sending doctors to work in some of the poorest nations on the planet, something it started doing in 1961.

"Given the recent support for healthcare reform in the United States, the possibility exists of learning some good lessons from Cuba on how to develop a really universal healthcare system with an emphasis on primary care. The adoption of some of Cuba’s most successful healthcare policies could be a first step toward the normalization of relations. The U.S. Congress could instruct the Medicine Institute to study the successes of Cuba’s healthcare system and how to start a new era of cooperation between American and Cuban scientists."

For its part, the Tribuna Latina news website recently published an article on the new Immigration Law in Arizona:

"According to a survey published by the CBS network and The New York Times, 51% consider that the law is an appropriate focus in relation to immigration, while 9% consider that it should go even further on this matter. Opposing them, 36% think that Arizona has gone ‘too far.’"

"…two out of every three Republicans are backing the measure"… "while just 38% of Democrats say that they are in favor of the law…"

"On the other hand, one out of every two recognizes that, as a consequence of this regulation, it is ‘highly probable that persons from certain racial or ethnic groups will be detained more frequently than others,’ and 78% recognize that it will pose more burdens for the police.

"At the same time, 70% consider it probable, as a consequence of this measure, that the number of illegal residents and the arrival of new immigrants in the country will be reduced…’"

On Tuesday, May 6, 2010, under the headline "Arizona: a pretentious death from hunger," an article by journalist Vicky Peláez was published in Argenpress, which begins by recalling a phrase by Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Remember, always remember, that we are all descendants of immigrants and revolutionaries."

It is such a well-argued document that I do not wish to conclude this Reflection without including it.

"The huge marches of this May Day condemning the pernicious anti-immigration law passed in Arizona, have shaken all of the United States. At the same time, thousands of Americans, politicians, jurists, artists, organizations, civil organizations demanded that the federal government declare unconstitutional Law SB170, which resembles laws passed in Nazi Germany or South Africa in the apartheid period.

"However, despite fierce pressure against the pernicious law, neither their government nor 70% of the inhabitants of that state wish to accept the gravity of the situation that they have created in order to blame undocumented immigrants for the severe economic crisis that they are experiencing. Meanwhile, they are asking Barack Obama for money to pay 15,000 police; they are radicalizing their racist policies. Governor Jan Brewer stated that ‘illegal immigration implies rising crime and the emergence of terrorism in the state.’

"Placing undocumented immigrants on the same plane as terrorists authorizes the police to fire on people simply on the basis of the color of their skin, their clothing, what they are carrying in their hands or even their way of walking. Without any doubt, this will also affect the 280,000 Native Americans who live marginalized and in extreme poverty, as well as other minorities in addition to Hispanics, who have found refuge and work in this arid zone of the United States.

"Following the line of Republican Pat Buchanan, who says, ‘The United States must make a stronger crusade for America’s liberation from the barbarian hordes of hungry foreigners carrying exotic diseases,’ after hitting out at undocumented day laborers, construction workers, domestic employees, gardeners and cleaners, Governor Brewer has now directed her campaign against teachers of Hispanic origin.

"According to her new decree, teachers with a marked accent will not be able to teach in schools. But her crusade does not end there because, in all historical periods, ‘ethnic cleansing’ has always been accompanied by ideology. From now on, ‘ethnic studies and projects’ are abolished in schools. They are also banning the teaching of subjects that could promote resentment of a certain race or social class. This implies politicizing knowledge, converting myths created by the U.S. system into a reality. It also signifies exhuming the most respected thinkers in the United States such as Alexis de Tocqueville who, in 1835, said that ‘the place where an Anglo-American sets his boot is forever his. The province of Texas still belongs to Mexicans but soon there will not be one Mexican there. And that will happen anywhere.

"The sole consciousness of racists is hatred and the only weapon that can overcome it is the solidarity of human beings. This state was already defeated when it refused to make Martin Luther King Day a public holiday; the boycott was solid and overwhelming…"

Fidel Castro Ruz
May 7, 2010
6:15 p.m.

Translated by Granma International