Mass rally, international conference
Cuba a hotbed of anti-imperialism
By Alicia Jrapko
Two important events in November showed the high morale of
the Cuban people and their country's leading role in the
struggle against imperialist globalization.
The first was a mass mobilization on Nov. 18 against the
Cuban Adjustment Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1966. It
encourages Cubans to risk their lives on the open sea by
offering them almost automatic residency if they reach the
More than 150,000 people gathered here in Havana to protest
this law, which promotes perilous and illegal emigration.
This law's political nature becomes obvious when it is
compared to the treatment people from Haiti face. People
fleeing Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,
often do not even receive a hearing if they get to the United
States. They are more likely to be locked up at the Krome
Detention Center in Florida and flown back to Haiti in
The Cuban Adjustment Act has nothing to do with human rights
and everything to do with attempts to destabilize the Cuban
Revolution. At the protest here a fourth-grade "pioneer" from
Santiago de Cuba loudly told the crowd, "There is no greater
terrorism than to wish that Cuban children will die in the
waves of the sea."
Plane hijacked to U.S.
The timing of this demonstration coincided with yet another
act of hostility against Cuba. Once again, in violation of
international laws and bilateral agreements with Cuba, a
hijacked plane was allowed to land in the United States.
If the plane had come from any other country, this would
have been considered an act of terrorism. It likely would have
been turned around or even shot down.
The irony of this new act of aggression is that one of the
passengers on the stolen aircraft had twice applied for a visa
at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Washington denied his
application both times. But when he hijacked a plane and flew
illegally to the States, risking his life and the lives of
others in the plane, including children, he was received with
The Cuban government requested that the United States
immediately return the plane and deport the eight passengers.
Instead, Washington granted legal residency to all the
To further aggravate the situation, on Dec. 5 Circuit Court
Judge Allen Postman ordered the seizure and sale of the
aircraft to help pay off a $27.1 million settlement awarded to
the ex-wife of a Cuban accused of being a double agent.
Conference against FTAA
While this latest shameful episode perpetrated by the U.S.
government against Cuba was unfolding, more than 1,000 people
from 41 Latin American, North American and European countries
arrived in Havana to participate in the Second Hemispheric
Meeting of Struggle Against the Free Trade Area of the
This event showed growing opposition to neoliberal economic
policies implemented in Latin America almost three decades ago
that have created nothing but misery and devastation for the
great majority of people.
Making the meeting especially important is the failure of
the North America Free Trade Agreement, which was the
predecessor of FTAA. After eight years of implementation, this
agreement among Mexico, the United States and Canada has left
60 million Mexicans in conditions of extreme poverty.
Leonel González, secretary of international relations
of the Confederation of Cuban Workers, opened the meeting.
Cuban President Fidel Castro and Political Bureau members
Carlos Lage, Ricardo Alarcón, Pedro Ross and Felipe
Perez Roque also participated.
Osvaldo Martínez, director of the Center of
Investigations of the World Economy, asked in his opening
remarks: "How could it be hidden that under neoliberal
policies, Latin America has achieved a sad worldwide
championship as the region of greatest inequality and injustice
in the distribution of wealth?
"How could it be hidden that in Argentina, with its great
capacity for food production, we see, since the application of
neoliberalism, children undernourished and dying in the exact
conditions of those in the Nazi concentration camps?"
The conference took on a special air because of recent
electoral developments that brought left-leaning Luis Inacio
"Lula" da Silva and Lucio Gutierrez to the presidencies in
Brazil and Ecuador, respectively.
Evo Morales, the popular Indigenous leader of Bolivian
coca-growing peasants known as "cocaleros," was a keynote
speaker on the first evening. He had come close to winning the
presidency but lost in a runoff due to pressures from the U.S.
government, whose ambassador in La Paz publicly threatened to
stop U.S. aid to Bolivia if Morales won.
"It is time that the Latin American peoples freed themselves
from injustice and inequality and that they demand that the
natural resources return to the hands of the Latin Americans,"
In a major address, Cuban National Assembly President
Ricardo Alarcón spoke about the importance of the
struggle to free the Cuban Five, who are incarcerated in U.S.
prisons. The wives and mothers of the five Cubans were present
during his talk. He stated his certainty that "this cause will
continue having the solidarity, the understanding, and the
support of those who believe in freedom and aspire to the
justice of our peoples."
He added, "The united struggle of our peoples can achieve
independence and true democracy, and we will be capable of
conquering all the justices." He ended with a quote from Lula
da Silva: "The powerful can destroy the roses but they will
never stop the spring."
During an emotional speech that lasted more than three
hours, President Fidel Castro told the fervent audience that
the struggle against the FTAA started first when thousands of
North Americans fought the battle of Seattle against the World
Trade Organization, the parent of FTAA. He reminded everyone
that U.S. President George W. Bush's father initiated the FTAA
in 1991 in a meeting in Miami with Latin American presidents
behind the people's backs. Then, on May 1, 2001, the Cuban
president launched the idea of rejecting the annexation of the
region and calling for plebiscites to see if the people agree
with the implementation of the FTAA.
President Castro then highlighted the courage of the people
of Brazil, who called a plebiscite, and the resistance of the
people of Venezuela. He called on all participants to unite in
order to defeat this U.S. project of annexation and
After four days of discussion, a final declaration of the
Second Hemispheric Meeting of Struggle Against the FTAA made a
call to all peoples of the Americas: "The lives of our peoples
and the independence of our nations are at stake: to fight
against the FTAA is to fight against annexation and misery."
The participants also unanimously called for the immediate
release of the five Cuban political prisoners imprisoned in the
This event foreshadowed significant battles to come in the
struggle for a better world and against imperialism, with its
so-called war on terrorism. The participants prepared to return
to their countries with much enthusiasm, remembering the
prophetic words of one of the greatest Cuban heroes,
José Martí: "The time has come for Spanish
America to declare its second independence."
Reprinted from the Dec. 19, 2002, issue of
Workers World newspaper
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