Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflections of Fidel Castro on the Problems of the Obama Presidency; Commandante Meets With Venezuela Law Graduates

Reflections of Fidel

Hopefully I am mistaken!

Taken from CubaDebate

I read with astonishment weekend news agency reports on the internal politics of the United States, where a systematic debilitation of President Barack Obama’s influence is evident. His surprising electoral victory would not have been possible without the profound political and economic crisis of that country. American soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq, the scandal of torture and secret prisons, the loss of homes and jobs, had shaken U.S. society. The economic crisis was extending throughout the world, increasing poverty and hunger in Third World nations.

Those circumstances made possible Obama’s nomination and subsequent election within a traditionally racist society. No less than 90% of the African-American population, discriminated against and poor, the majority of voters of Latin American origin and a broad middle and working class white minority, particularly young people, voted for him.

It was logical that many hopes would be aroused among U.S. citizens who supported him. After eight years of adventurism, demagogy and lies during which thousands of U.S. soldiers and close to one million Iraqis died in a war of conquest for the oil of that Muslim country, which had nothing to do with the atrocious attack on the Twin Towers, the people of the United States were weary and ashamed.

Many people in Africa and other parts of the world were enthused with the idea that there would be changes in U.S. foreign policy.

However, an elemental knowledge of reality should have sufficed for not falling into illusions in relation to a possible political change in the United States on the basis of the election of a new president.

Obama had certainly opposed the Bush war in Iraq before many others in the U.S. Congress. He knew from his own adolescence the humiliations of racial discrimination and, like many Americans, admired the great civil rights fighter, Martin Luther King.

Obama was born, educated, went into politics and was successful within the imperial capitalist system of the United States. He did not wish to nor could he change the system. The strange thing is, in spite of that, that the extreme right hates him for being an African American and is fighting against what the president is doing to improve the deteriorated image of that country.

He has been capable of understanding that the United States, with barely 4% of the world population, consumes approximately 25% of fossil energy and emits the greatest volume of the world’s contaminating gases.

Bush, in his ravings, did not even subscribe to the Kyoto Protocol.

In his turn, Obama proposes to apply tighter regulations in the context of tax evasion. He has announced, for example, that out of the 52,000 accounts held by U.S. citizens in Swiss banks, these banks are to provide information on approximately 4,500 suspected of tax evasion.

In Europe, a few weeks ago, Obama committed himself before the G-8 countries, especially France and Germany, to bring to an end his country’s use of tax havens in order to inject vast quantities of U.S. dollars into the world economy.

He has offered health services to almost 50 million citizens who lacked medical insurance.

He has promised the people of the United States to lubricate the productive apparatus, halt growing unemployment and restore growth.

He has informed 12 million Hispanic illegal immigrants that he will put a stop to the cruel raids and the inhuman treatment to which they are subject.

There were other promises that I am not enumerating, not one of which questions the system of imperialist capitalist dominion.

The powerful ultra-right is not resigned to any measure whatsoever that diminishes its prerogatives to the most minimum degree.

I shall confine myself just to referring textually to information coming from the United States that has been arriving in the last few days, taken from news agencies and the U.S. press.

August 21:

"Americans’ confidence in the leadership of President Barack Obama has fallen sharply, according to a survey published today in The Washington Post."

"In the midst of growing opposition to health system reforms, the telephone survey undertaken jointly with the ABC TV network from Aug 13 to 17 of 1, 001 adults, reveals that… forty-nine percent now say they think he will be able to spearhead significant improvements in the system, down nearly 20 percentage points from before he took office."

"Fifty-five percent see things as pretty seriously on the wrong track, up from 48 percent in April."

"The heated debate on healthcare reform in the United States is showing signs of an extremism that is worrying experts, alarmed at the presence of armed men at public meetings, paintings of swastikas and images of Hitler."

"Experts in hate crimes recommend closely watching these extremists, and while many Democrats have been overwhelmed by the protests, others have opted for directly facing their co-citizens."

"A young woman carrying a manipulated photo of Obama with a Hitler-style mustache is feeding the theory that the leader is to create ‘death panels’ that would back euthanasia for elderly people with terminal illnesses…"

"Some people are turning a deaf ear and opting for hate messages and extremism, which former FBI agent Brad Garrett is observing with alarm."

"It's certainly a scary time," Garrett told ABC last week, adding that the secret services ‘really do fear that something could happen to Obama.’"

"Without going any further, on Monday, around 12 people airily displayed their weapons outside the Phoenix Convention Center (Arizona), where Obama was making a speech to war veterans, defending, among other things, his medical reforms."

"Another man was carrying a pistol and a sign saying ‘It is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty," a reference to Thomas Jefferson's quote that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

"Some messages have been even more explicit, wishing for ‘Death to Obama, Michelle and his… daughters.’"

"Those incidents demonstrate that hatred has erupted into U.S. politics with more strength than ever."

"’We are talking about people who are shouting, who are carrying photos of Obama characterizing him as a Nazi… and who are using the term socialist contemptuously," EFE was informed by Larry Berman (University of California, author of 12 books on the U.S. Presidency), who attributes part of what is taking place to the latent legacy of racism."

"After The New York Times reported yesterday that, in 2004, the CIA hired Blackwater for planning, training and surveillance tasks, in today’s edition the daily provides more details on the activities assigned to that controversial private security company whose current name is Xe."

"The daily noted that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency recruited Blackwater agents to plant explosive devices in drone aircraft with the objective of killing Al Qaeda leaders."

"According to information given by government officials to The New York Times, the operations were carried out in bases located in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the private company assembled and loaded Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs."

"The agency’s current director, Leon Panetta, canceled the program and notified Congress of its existence in an emergency meeting in June."

"Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program."

"Blackwater was the central private security company responsible for protecting U.S. personnel in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration."

"Its aggressive tactics were criticized on a number of occasions. The gravest case occurred in September 2007, when company agents killed 17 Iraqi civilians."

"Faced by record suicide figures and the wave of depression among soldiers, the U.S. army is gradually training specialized formations aimed at making its troops ‘more resistant’ to emotional stress related to war situations."

August 22:

"U.S. President Barack Obama today launched harsh criticisms of those opposed to his plan to reform the country’s health system and accused them of circulating lies and distortions."

"As he has noted in his speeches, the objective of the reform of the medical care system is to halt its spiraling cost and to guarantee medical coverage to close to 50 million Americans who lack insurance."

"…’should be honest debate, not dominated by falsehoods and intentional distortions circulated by those who would most benefit from things being maintained as they are.’"

"The U.S. State Department is still financing Blackwater, the private company of mercenaries involved in the murder of Al Qaeda leaders and which is now called Xe Services, according to today’s New York Times."

"David Patterson, governor of New York state, stated on Friday that the media has utilized racial stereotypes in its coverage of African-American officials, like himself, President Barack Obama and the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick."

"The White House calculates that the budget deficit over the next 10 years will be $2 trillion more than recent forecasts, a devastating blow for President Barack Obama and his plans for creating a public health system funded to a large extent by the state."

"Ten-year forecasts are seen as highly volatile and could vary with time. However, the new red figures in public finances are going to pose difficult problems for Obama in Congress, and enormous anxiety among foreigners who are financing the U.S. public debt, especially China. Almost all economists consider them unsustainable, even with a massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar."

August 23:

"The U.S. army joint chief of staff stated on Sunday that he was concerned at the loss of popular support in his country for the war in Afghanistan, while he stated that that country still remains vulnerable to extremist attacks."

""I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the past couple of years – that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated, in their tactics," said Admiral Mike Mullen."

"In an interview broadcast on NBC, Mullen declined to specify whether it was necessary to send in more troops."

"A little over 50% of people consulted in a recently published Washington Post-ABC survey, stated that the war in Afghanistan is not worth it."

"At the end of 2009, the United States will have three times more soldiers in Afghanistan than the 20,000 deployed there three years ago."

Confusion reigns in the heart of U.S. society.

Next September 11 is the eighth anniversary of the fateful 9/11. That day we warned in an event in the Ciudad Deportiva [Havana] that war would not be the way to put an end to terrorism.

The strategy of withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending them to the Afghanistan war to fight against the Taliban, is an error. The Soviet Union sunk there. The European allies of the United States will steadily put up more resistance to shedding the blood of their soldiers there.

Mullen’s concern over the popularity of that war is not unfounded. Those who plotted the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers were trained by the United States.

The Taliban is an Afghani nationalist movement that had nothing to do with that event. The Al Qaeda organization, financed by the CIA from 1979 and utilized against the USSR in the Cold War years, was the group that plotted that attack 22 years later.

There are shady events that have not as yet been sufficiently clarified before world public opinion.

Obama has inherited those problems from Bush.

I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the racist right will do everything possible to wear him down, blocking his program to get him out of the game in one way or another, at the least possible political cost.

Hopefully I am mistaken!

Fidel Castro Ruz
August 24, 2009
5:15 p.m.
Translated by Granma International

Warm and informal meeting with Fidel

TEN young lawyers who recently graduated from Carabobo University in Venezuela as part of the second “Fidel Castro” commencement had an emotional meeting with Fidel for several hours on the morning of August 22.

On behalf of the Cuban people, Fidel thanked them for their gesture, which he interpreted as a recognition of the work of the Revolution.

Together they went over details of the last meeting 14 years ago with the 1995 graduating class of lawyers that had a similar initiative toward Cuba, and touched on several matters relating to the Bolivarian and Cuban Revolutions, as well as other currently relevant issues.

Their conversation about environmental pollution, climate change, and the course of social missions in Venezuela was free-flowing and full of interesting anecdotes.

At the end of the meeting the young lawyers received signed copies of the latest “Reflections of Fidel,” titled “The empire and the robots,” and the graduates responded with emotional demonstrations of affection.

Translated by Granma International

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