Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Politics and its Discontents: Cuba And Private Enterprise

Since we first visited the island in 2010, my wife and I have developed a deep respect and affection for Cuba and its people. As I have indicated in previous posts, those feelings were formed not just in the vacations spots we have enjoyed, but also by getting to know the ‘real’ Cuba through friends that we made off of the resorts.

On our last visit there, the people I talked to looked forward, guardedly, to the gradual normalization with Cuba’s historical nemesis, the United States. While some North Americans have suggested that the nation will become little more (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Cuba Creates Great Doctors

Cuba is a beautiful country filled with nice people. Many of those people are educated doctors who go around the world saving lives for free, and they do the same at home. Al Jazeera has a nice long piece looking into the quality and motivations behind these great Cuban doctors. Spoiler: it’s not about money, it’s about helping people.

Cuba has sent about 185,000 health workers to more than 100 countries since the 1960s. Medical staff have been deployed to some of the world’s worst natural disasters, such as the catastrophic 2004 tsunami in Asia and the deadly earthquake in (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Cuba Gets New Art Installation: WiFi

Cuba has really poor internet connectivity and it costs a lot of money to connect to the web. The thawing relationship between the USA and Cuba is bound to make it easier to develop the country’s telecommunications infrastructure (cheaper to run a cable from Florida than elsewhere). This is one of many benefits from the beginning of the end of the bizarre American embargo of the island nation.

For now, the artist Kcho is launching an art installation to prepare people for the coming rise of the internet in Cuba.

Cuba’s state telecom agency Etecsa has granted approval to the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Hiatus

Time to head back to our favourite island before it is infiltrated by the Americans.

See you in about a week. Recommend this Post

The Canadian Progressive: Assata Shakur: “I am a 20th century escaped slave”

Cuba-based black revolutionary Assata Shakur says she fled “from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color.”

The post Assata Shakur: “I am a 20th century escaped slave” appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Politics, Re-Spun: Does Cuba Get an MLB Team Now?

So, there have been 181 Major League Baseball players from Cuba [population 11 million], 230 from Puerto Rico [population 3.5 million] [which is kind of like America, despite its second class political status], and 557 from the Dominican Republic [population 9.5 million].

My friend, who cares not about baseball, asked me last week what normalized American relations with Cuba would mean for the MLB.

And my skin tingled.

Some facts to ponder:

The MLB has been in Canada. Still is. So foreign countries aren’t a problem. Washington, DC has a team, and it’s not even a state. Cuba (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Remembrances Of Things Past

It was with some surprise that Canadians finally saw something positive emerge from the always suspicious and hateful Harper regime: its facilitation of talks between the U.S. and Cuba to begin the process of normalizing relations.

This echo of a time when Canada was looked upon as the world’s honest broker prompted a Star letter-writer to express the following view:

U.S.-Cuba deal made in Canada, Dec. 18

Finally the Harper government plays a positive role on the world stage, by helping the U.S. and Cuba end over 50 years of hostility. This is the role Canada (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Speech by Cuban President Raul Castro on normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations

In speech, Cuban President Raul Castro thanks Canada for facilitating the high-level dialogue which resulted in the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, maintains that Cuba will not not renounce socialism.

The post Speech by Cuban President Raul Castro on normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Alberta Diary: A look back to 2010: Cuba loves Chevrolets and GM needs sales – what’s wrong with this picture?

An ancient Jeep, probably with a transplanted Lada engine, drops passengers at Revolution Square four years ago in Havana. With Uber starting up, we finally have the same service here in Edmonton! The sign says: “51 years of struggle and victories.” Below: an old Chevrolet still in service on a Havana street, and scenes of Havana’s crumbling housing. Oh, wait! The last one’s in Detroit.

With all the excitement in Alberta these past few days, it’s been easy to forget there’s a bigger world out there and things have been happening in it. Now, it is not normal here (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Is Raul Castro’s Cuba the First Big Winner in Cold War II?

Now that Washington and Havana appear to be on the road to kissing and making up, it’s worth considering whether the timing is really that spontaneous?

Cuba was always the Soviet’s toe hold in the Americas.  It was over Soviet designs in Cuba that the world was brought to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The Soviets propped up Fidel Castro by buying Cuba’s sugar crop at premium prices.  With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba’s economy took a big hit as Moscow withdrew.  Since then Cuba has been mainly important to American foreign policy for the Cuban exile vote in (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Bravo to Baird and Harper on the Cuba file

The United States has finally come to its senses and is normalizing relations with Cuba. It’s taken over half a century but—to borrow the old cliché—better late than never. And to our credit, Canada played a key role. By hosting meetings of officials from the two countries, we obviated the need for meetings in either the U.S. or Cuba. Both U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Castro have

drive-by planet: Che’s daughter Aleida Guevara talks about her father… the Cuban embargo… and more

Upper right: A much younger Aleida with Fidel and Che

Aleida Guevara, daughter of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara, was in Moscow recently where she gave an interview to RT. She is a medical doctor based in Havana where she works out of the William Soler Children’s Hospital. In addition to her medical work, Aleida Guevara is an advocate for debt relief in developing nations and author of the book Chávez, Venezuela and the New Latin America.

A while back I posted about a proposed memorial to Che in Galway, Ireland, and mentioned a civic reception given to Aleida during (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: It’s That Time Of Year

We’ll be away for a week due to our Vitamin D-deprived lives. Cuba beckoned. The price was right. See you soon. Recommend this Post

Alberta Diary: Why Denmark fears militarization of Arctic islands means Canada could soon control almost all of Hudson’s Bay, and other tall tales

If we just listened to Stephen Harper and the BBC, what a wonderful world this would be! Below: Catherine the Great, USAF Gen. Philip Breedlove.

Last Wednesday, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported in shocked tones on its online news site that “NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, has warned that Russian ‘militarization’ of the annexed Crimea Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Black Sea.”

This story appeared almost word for word on dozens of other Internet news sites originating in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere in the word.

U.S. Air Force Gen. (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Cuban medics on the front lines of the Ebola fight: lack of decent public healthcare at root of the Ebola crisis

Top: Cuban medical team leaving for West AfricaBeneath: Arrival in Sierra Leone

The magnificent Cuban response to the Ebola crisis is in a class of its own. While Western nations pledge funds to fight the disease there is a reluctance to step up and send needed medical personnel. Cuba by contrast has gone into action on the front lines. It will send some 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa – the largest number of medical personnel from any nation. One hundred and sixty five Cuban medics are already in West Africa setting up operations.

The World Health Organization (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Fidel Castro compares NATO with Hitler’s SS: says US/Israel responsible for the creation of ISIS

 Below: Demo in Poland protesting this weeks NATO summit in Wales

In an article published in Cuban state media iconic revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, calls out NATO and imperialist war mongering. He compares statements by NATO representatives with Nazi SS talk.

Castro: “Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European spokesmen for NATO when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS.”

Castro’s NATO remarks are timely given the summit currently underway in Wales that aims to increase troops and armaments in Eastern Europe in response to what NATO views as (Read more…)

drive-by planet: US corporate media propaganda: NYT’s misleading photo ‘evidence’ of Russian soldiers in east Ukraine

Back in 2003, when Colin Powell presented “evidence” at the UN to back up the White House claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, major US news outlets ran the story believing the Bush administration had the goods. During the UN presentation Russia’s ambassador at the time, Sergei Lavrov,  greeted Powell’s “evidence” with a look of incredulous disbelief or perhaps disdain might be the better term.  As we now know, the Russians were entirely right to cast scorn on Washington’s pack of lies about Saddam’s non-existent WMD.

In the current war of words-and-images on Ukraine, Russian media (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Vladimir Putin’s strategic crisis in 2014 sure looks a lot like John F. Kennedy’s in 1962

President John F. Kennedy signs the proclamation of the “Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba” on Oct. 23, 1962. The order imposed the U.S. naval blockade on Cuba that Mr. Kennedy had announced during his televised address the night before. Below: Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, Sun News bloviator Monte K. Solberg.

“Good evening, my fellow citizens,” President John F. Kennedy said grimly on Oct. 22, 1962. “This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba.

“Within the past week unmistakable (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Mandela Was More Radical Than Most Know

Well, I miss Mandela. The post-Mandela world is sadly less colourful. While all sorts of people, including reprobate politicians in Canada laud him for this and that, it’s important to remember that he never seemed to angle for being a darling of right wing, neoliberal libertarian freedom fighters.

Here are some items we should all remember. If any of this is new to you, click the link at the bottom to flesh out the details. You won’t regret it.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.”

3. (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Irony of Raul Castro – Obama handshake: Cuba helped defeat S.A. apartheid in battle whereas U.S. sent Stingers to UNITA

Raúl Castro at Mandela memorial service / Nelson Mandela with Fidel in Cuba

At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the media seized on the handshake between Barack Obama and the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, as possible evidence of something more significant afoot in the relations between the two countries. The handshake has taken on symbolic overtones and given rise to far-fetched speculation. There have been predictable denunciations. U.S. Republican rep lleana Ros-Lehtinen criticized Obama for shaking the hand of “a ruthless dictator.” Yet another case of an American politician failing to look in the mirror (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Che Wants to See You: remarkable untold story of Che Guevara by right-hand man Ciro Bustos

The English translation of Che Wants to See You was recently published. It is a remarkable insider account by Ciro Bustos, a comrade-in-arms who was intimately familiar with Che Guevara and the broader liberation struggle in Latin America. The book adds to the credibility of Bustos who has been unfairly cast as Che’s betrayer in the events that led to the execution of Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.

Ciro Bustos – now 81 – is an artist who lives and works in Malmo, Sweden. He is Argentinian by birth, a native of Mendoza.

When Bustos first heard Che’s voice on (Read more…)

LeDaro: Russian Warships to visit Cuba

It looks that relations between Russia and U.S have taken a new turn. The American government is quite upset over Russia giving refuge to Edward Snowden. Now the renewal of close relations by the Russians with Cuba is another indication of cooling off relations with America. Déjà vu all over again – during J.F. Kennedy presidency and Cuban missile crisis. Is cold war on again? Too early to tell.

Russian Warship

“During his visit to Cuba in April, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, met with Cuban Defense Ministry officials and reiterated that Russia and (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: GroupThink ReSpun: The Death of Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez died of cancer on March 5, 2013. He represented an ideological pushback against neoliberal globalization. He pursued a progressive hemispheric trade agenda. He raised oil royalties dramatically to improve the social capacity of people in and around Venezuela. He revolutionized and democratized Venezuela’s constitution. He attracted the ire of American imperialists who supported an amateurish, botched coup. And while we never saw the formation of Cubazuela or some kind of socio-economic cooperation that would elevate Haiti out of its status of hemispheric whipping boy, though that may be on its way, his legacy begins this week.

Thanks (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Reflections from Cuba – Civic Responsibility

January 23, 2013:

In a previous post, I compared and contrasted Cuba and Canada in terms of the opportunities for achieving one’s potential through access to information, ideas, etc., noting that in Cuba the opportunities are almost non-existent, while sadly, in our country, there are those who choose not to avail themselves of the almost boundless access to ways to develop themselves.

Today I want to consider people who have availed themselves, used the resources available, yet choose to close themselves off from any meaningful participation in our society. While I readily acknowledge that there are so many

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Reflections from Cuba – Civic Responsibility

Politics and its Discontents: Reflections From Cuba

The following is one of several pieces I wrote on my Blackberry Playbook while on a recent holiday in Cuba. Because Internet access and outside information is limited there, I spent some time writing pieces largely drawn from things I was thinking about at the time, and therefore are perhaps not as overtly political in nature as my usual fare.

January 21, 2013:

What, I wonder, is worse, a society in which there is little or no opportunity to learn and grow, or one in which the opportunity exists but is ignored by a substantial proportion of the people?

That

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Reflections From Cuba